Archive for the ‘reviews’ category

Diana Krall – Live

June 17, 2009

And Wonderful!

Jazz may be an acquired taste, but right now these no better way to acquire it than to listen to Diana Krall’s music.  Last night I had the privilege of seeing her perform live at the Meyerhoff Concert hall in Baltimore.  What a night!

I wish I had taken notes – she started with I Love Being Here With You,  (made famous by Peggy Lee), which allows each of her quartet (guitarist Anthony Wilson, bassist Robert Hurst, and drummer Jeff Hamilton) plenty of room to display some musical fireworks.  She then continues with Sinatra, Nat King Cole, a Gershwin piece, and even a tune done originally by Julie London. But when she covers Sergio Mendez’  So Nice (you know the song even if you don’t think you do), magic happens.

And it kept on happening for the duration. Krall’s studio productions sometimes seem a bit cold.  As much as you’d like to have this very attractive woman singing to you, it’s always feels much more like she’s singing for you and your date. But live, Mrs. Costello is very engaging and warm to the audience (especially when describing the musical preferences of her 2 year old twins, which tend, she says, towards “Itsy Bitsy Spider”).

By the time she does her torch song, you are in a bar, she’s at the piano, the lights and the mood are right and you know you’re going to find someone.

The audience was amazing too.  As a group, they were surprisingly knowlegable and sophisticated about the music, even getting the musical jokes.  It took about three beats for the audience to recognize Krall’s signature piece, Frim Fram Sauce, and show their appreciation.  Listen – When an audience waits until the final echo of a fade, and only then explodes into applause, that’s when you know the performer has them.  That happened last night.

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Not Something Normal Fans Would Do

May 6, 2009

Chuck Fans Have A Heart

Chuck is a good show on NBC that’s having a harder time getting renewed than it should. The announcement, expected last Monday, was delayed without explanation, and fans became, well, a little worried.

Tomorrow, 7-May, sometime between 1 pm and 2 pm, CNN is going to highlight the amazing fan reaction to this bit of adversity.  It goes way beyond writing e-mails to NBC executives or sending various unwanted items to their desks in vast quantities.  The fan known as “Chuckling” explains.

On the morning of May 5, 2009, a few of us were kicking around ideas on the NBC Chuck forum of what else might be done to extend the SAVE CHUCK cause. Ideas started coming together suggesting that we donate to Subway’s favorite charity, The American Heart Association.

And why Subway’s favorite charity? That’s because Subway was a major sponsor of Chuck, and had prominent product placement in several episodes. It was a running gag that the fans actually enjoyed.

And for at least the last two episodes of the season, fans showed their support in an organized manner by buying the product.  No disses, no boycotts, just support.

So why the hold up at NBC? Dateline Hollywood TV critic Nikki Finke thinks she knows.

As for Chuck, this gets complicated. Turns out NBC didn’t like David E Kelley’s Warner Bros pilot Legally Mad. Problem is, there’s a $2 million penalty that gets paid to WB if the network doesn’t pick up the show. So NBC is hoping to work a deal tying the renewal of Chuck, which is also a WB show, to a pass on paying that Legally Mad penalty.

Regardless of your fandom status, if you’d like to donate to the American Heart Association, you can start here.  If you’d like to show your support for the show at the same time, you can start at the WeHeartChuck site.

Chuck

March 3, 2009

Guilty Pleasures

I have more than a few guilty pleasures in my life – music by The Carpenters is several of them, I think.  Nerds on TV seems to be another.

The original “Nerd getting the Hottie” (on TV) has to be Ross Geller.   Ross and Rachel were TV’s #1 couple for a lot of years, even beyond the point where fans wanted to put an end to their misery.   Talk about Lucy pulling the ball away from Charley Brown – that had to be the television equivalent.

Well, the #1 couple today has to be Chuck Bartowski (yet another nerd) and Sarah Walker (hottie/spy), played by Zachary Levi and Yvonne Strahovski, respectively.  At first blush (and first viewing), the show Chuck (NBC, Mondays 8:00 pm eastern) is a ridiculous farce – Twelve dollar and hour geek gets CIA/NSA spy information planted in his brain by his college nemesis and tormentor, and is put under the protection of two super-spies, because the bad-guys want his brain.  Chuck, of course, falls head-over-heels for one of his protectors, who seems to be falling for him in return, but can’t admit it lest she endanger the mission, the country and Chuck himself.  His life may depend on her being dispassionate.

And even as I type the storyline description, it seems less farcical.  The show has an uncanny ability to retain both aspects – farce, romance, and something I haven’t mentioned yet – musings on the masks we wear for each other – like a juggler doing his act.  It becomes easy to root for the couple to get together, which is why the Ross & Rachel comparison is too easy to make.

Chuck is more than a bit better than that.   Unexpected twists and turns in the standing plot line are to be – well, expected.  They’re well done, and I appreciate that.  When events seem to force a wedge between the couple, the story becomes serious.  Do I detect just a little Romeo and Juliet in there?  Perhaps.  It seems odd to say so, but Chuck can be that good.

The side-story, Chuck’s “Nerd-Herd” friends at the Buy-More consumer-electronics store, is pure comedy, and well done by the supporting cast.  The writing is snappy, at times tremendously funny (I seldom guffaw, but have repeatedly at the great one-liners in every episode).  Fans make a game of finding the clever popular-culture references buried in the dialogue.

Fans also worry about the writers, director and producers carrying on the (budding, impossible, inevitable) romance indefinitely, but so far, they’ve done it with excellent pacing and great chemistry between the two lead characters.

Adam Baldwin (my favorite Baldwin brother) has been a pleasant surprise, adding both comedy and action to the mix as Chuck’s other protector.   His character could easily have ended up as a cartoon, yet becomes integral at just the right time with his dry wit.

IOW, I love a show that can make me laugh, make me care about the characters and not insult my intelligence.  Chuck succeeds in all three.

Because of the twists and turns in the plot that I mentioned (is Bryce a good guy, or a bad guy?), it may be difficult to begin watching Chuck now and get much out of it other than the broad comedy.  It’s a pity, because the show deserves a larger audience than it’s getting.  If the show lasts more than, say, three seasons (it is in its second now) then I’d consider buying the DVDs when they come out.  It’ll be worth it to see the episodes in order from the beginning.

Update: It’s been pointed out that Adam Baldwin is NOT a Baldwin brother (Thanks, Deb). These does not mean , however, that he’s not my favorite. ;>

Digital TV Conversion – Not Happening

February 5, 2009

While America Slept

From the AP and Gannet:

Congress has now decided to give people four more months to prepare for the upcoming transition from analog to digital TV broadcasting.

The House voted Wednesday to postpone the end of analog TV signals until June 12.

The article goes on to say that the reason is to “give more time” to Americans who are not yet ready for the conversion.

I don’t think so.

Thanks to Instapundit for the original link.

National Treasure

February 2, 2009

Obama Is No Lincoln

JammieWearingFool provides a link to this story in the N.Y. Post.

ROCHESTER, NY – Seated by a window in the Illinois state Capitol in 1860, a beardless Abraham Lincoln held still 25 seconds for a classic campaign portrait of the soon-to-be president. It was undoubtedly a personal favorite.

“That looks better and expresses me better than any I have ever seen,” Lincoln said in a letter to photographer Alexander Hesler. “If it pleases the people, I am satisfied.”

He should be. It’s a gorgeous picture. The long-lost transparency is going on exhibit tomorrow at the George Eastman House Museum in Rochester.

Apparently the collector who had the picture didn’t completely realize it’s value. He learned when he sent the picture to the museum for repair in 2006. He remains anonymous.

“This is the closest you will ever get to seeing Lincoln, short of putting your eyeballs on the man himself,” said Grant Romer, the museum’s director of photograph conservation.

The picture was taken June 3, 1860 before Lincoln was elected President, and is remarkable for it’s “high definition and tonal range qualities.” Even in the crude reproduction seen on-line, you can tell that’s true.

Best Beatles Tune

January 29, 2009

And Worst. List. Ever.

Wisconsin Law Prof. Ann Althouse points us to a list of 185 Beatles songs, listed in order of worst to best.  By someone’s opinion anyway, not mine. 
And I doubt by yours. 
But it’s a fun list anyway.

Ok, “Revolution #9” is the worst.  No argument here.  But “Good Day Sunshine” at 181 (out of 185)???  Naw.  And “I Am The Walrus” at #2???  No way.

Mother Of All Conspiracy Theories

January 25, 2009

And It’s Got Nothing To Do With Kennedy

I had a friend a long time ago in college, who became convinced that she and all her friends were the reincarnation of the conspirators involved with the Lincoln assassination in 1865. Made for some interesting late-night discussions (and laughs) of a kind for which college students are known. I forget which of the conspirators I was supposed to have been.

This came to mind just last week when I happened across a show on The History Channel; The Hunt for John Wilkes Booth, an episode that both I and the AstroWife found particularly entertaining and informative.

That’s nothing to blog about, of course. But today I traipsed upon this item from InstaPundit, wherein Glenn Reynolds led me to this interesting tidbit:

Dismissed for 175 years as a fake, a letter threatening the assassination of President Andrew Jackson has been found to be authentic. And, says the director of the Andrew Jackson Papers Project at the University of Tennessee, the writer was none other than Junius Brutus Booth, father of Lincoln assassin John Wilkes Booth.

Now that’s history!