Tuesday, June 30, 2009

DVD Picks: Do the Right Thing Turns 20 and Parker Lewis Goes Digital

Coming to DVD on Tuesday June 30th are a couple of releases that couldn't be more dissimilar: the 20th anniversary edition of Do the Right Thing and Parker Lewis Can't Lose: The Complete First Season.

Arguably his best film, Spike Lee's 1989 tale depicts simmering racial tensions within a multi-ethnic community in Brooklyn on a hot summer's day. Filled with memorable dialogue and colorful characters with names to match (Radio Raheem, Buggin' Out, Da' Mayor, et. al.), and a climax that still sparks controversy, the film has lost none of its power. I still think one of the biggest injustices in Academy Awards history is that Do the Right Thing didn't receive at the very least a nomination for Best Picture. Not too surprisingly, the Oscar for Best Picture that year went to a film that was a much safer depiction of race relations in America... the Jessica Tandy/Morgan Freeman drama Driving Miss Daisy. Time has had the last say though: while Do the Right Thing has grown in stature over the years, Driving Miss Daisy seems destined to be perceived as a relic from a bygone era.

The 2-disc set of the 20th anniversary of Do the Right Thing includes deleted scenes that were previously unseen and commentary by Spike Lee. If you haven't heard any of Lee's DVD commentaries, I'll tell you that he is one of the best when it comes to providing insight and background details.

Coming to DVD for the very first time is Parker Lewis Can't Lose, the Ferris Buelleresque sitcom that ran on FOX from 1990-1993. Although it's been years since I've seen Parker Lewis Can't Lose, I do recall enjoying the quirky camera angles, cartoonish sound effects, and the cast headed by the easygoing Corin Nemec (above, center) in the title role. The series was also notable for its use of eclectic guest stars (Ziggy Marley, Kool Moe Dee, Ozzy Osbourne, Married...With Children's David Faustino, and Donny Osmond all pop up during the 1st season).

The 4-DVD set of Parker Lewis Can't Lose: The Complete First Season comes with special features including exclusive interviews with the cast, crew, and creators.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Final Results of the Recent "Friends" Poll

In a final tally that I found telling, 1/4 of voters said they couldn't stand any of the main characters from the sitcom Friends. As a reformed Friends hater, I think I can relate to those who have no use for the Central Perk Crew. The thing that used to really bug me about Friends was the overexposure/overhype. The end of the show's first season was right around the time I started working at a bookstore. For quite awhile, a week didn't go by where the cast members weren't plastered on the covers of dozens of magazines. I'd be stocking magazines and see the cast on various covers and say, "these @#$! again?!" I can't remember when I watched it the first time, but I do recall wondering what all the fuss was about after I did see it.

As I mentioned, my attitude towards Friends has mellowed over the years. Although I am not what anyone would term a regular viewer, I have checked it out more over the past couple of years. Although I feel it's a good show with some solid writing, it's not like they reinvented the sitcom wheel. Having said that, I don't think it was the intention of the show's creators to accomplish that feat. Still, when I consider how Friends is elevated to the level of sitcom greatness by some, I have to shake my head.

To me, it seems like the appeal of Friends is gender-based. I compare it to Grey's Anatomy in that regard. Although I know that there are guys who watch Friends, I have never heard any of them rave about the show. Speaking of Grey's, the timing of it's debut (less than a year after the Friends finale) was fortunate because I think it fills a primetime void for "Friendsters" who can no longer get their Thursday night fix.

For what's it worth, had I voted, I would have chosen Chandler as my favorite.

Here are the final results:
Poll question: Who is your favorite "Friend"?

I can't stand any of them- 25%
Chandler- 23%
Phoebe- 20%
Joey- 18%
Monica, Rachel, and Ross- 6% each

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Retro Mix Playlist For 6/26/09: Tribute To Michael Jackson

7 pm hour

Rock With You
Another Part of Me
Blame It On the Boogie- The Jacksons
Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'
Rockin' Robin
It's the Falling In Love
Leave me Alone
Mama's Pearl- The Jackson Five

On the Flip Side segment:
Get On the Floor (B-side to Off the Wall)

P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)
Blood On the Dance Floor
Off the Wall
Smooth Criminal
Just A Little Bit of You

8 pm hour

Billie Jean
Remember the Time
I Want You Back- The Jackson Five
Who Is It
You Are Not Alone
Baby Be Mine
Can You Feel It- The Jacksons
Black or White
Burn This Disco Out
The Way You Make Me Feel
Workin' Day and Night
Dancing Machine- The Jackson Five
Beat It

The Retro Mix Video of the Week: Blood On the Dance Floor

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Michael Jackson Dead At the Age of 50

This has been a devastating week for the entertainment world. After the news of the deaths of Ed McMahon and Farrah Fawcett, I think many of us were thinking the "death always comes in 3s" theory. Who would have guessed that the 3rd would be Michael Jackson.

When I first found out, I literally started to shake a little bit. When the L.A. Times and other news sources confirmed that Michael had died of an apparent heart attack cardiac arrest at the age of 50, I still couldn't believe it. Not only because Michael was one of the most famous people in the world, but because he had that otherworldly quality. If you are like me, you will likely remember exactly where you were, what you were doing, what you were wearing, etc. when you heard that Michael Jackson had died. I had just awoken from a nap and had hopped on the computer when I first heard the initial reports from two blogger buddies of mine. I was wearing a red family reunion T-shirt, black lounge pants with white stripes up the side, and black slippers.

When Michael turned 50 years old last year, I wrote a birthday post in which I said that I had a feeling that there was still some magic left in him. As you may have heard, Michael had been preparing for his series of London comeback which were supposed to kick off in July of this year. Alas, it wasn't meant to be.

I will leave it to others who want to make snarky comments about the extensive plastic surgery, sexual abuse allegations, and the circus sideshow that surrounded Michael Jackson. When all is said and done, I think that Michael Jackson will ultimately be remembered as one of the greatest entertainers this world will ever see. From the Motown phase of his career as the lead singer of the Jackson Five all the way up to the 30th anniversary concerts that he did at Madison Square Garden in 2001, Michael never failed to dazzle us with his vocal and dancing skills.

I am heading off to the store to get something cold to drink. When I come back home, I will be jamming to MJ for the rest of the night.

Update: Over at the other blog that I write for (Diversity Ink), I posted about Michael Jackson's diverse appeal. Please click here to read it.

Below is a clip of various celebrities talking about Michael Jackson, followed by his landmark performance of Billie Jean at the Motown 25 special.

Farrah Fawcett 1947-2009

I just learned that Farrah Fawcett lost her long battle with cancer at the age of 62. When it became clear that her chances of surviving were grim at best, I was a bit surprised at how it affected me. I think it was because she represented youthful sex appeal and it was hard to reconcile that with the cold hard fact that sex symbols are humans just like the rest of us.

I do have to give props to Farrah for "glamming down" and taking on demanding acting roles when she easily could have kept cruising on Cheesecake Lane. If you haven't seen her Emmy-nominated turn as a battered wife in the 1984 TV movie The Burning Bed, you should check it out because she was quite convincing.

I think she also may have helped make it chic for sex symbol actresses to take on parts that were far from glamorous (think Raquel Welch in the 1987 TV movie Right to Die, Halle Berry in Monster's Ball, or Charlize Theron in Monster just to name a few). Farrah followed her triumph in The Burning Bed with other serious projects such as the 1987 film Extremities and the 1989 TNT biopic Double Exposure: The Story of Margaret Bourke-White.

Even though Farrah had a long and varied career, it's hard not to conjure up images of Charlie's Angels, her cascading feathered blonde hairstyle (inspiring countless women, for better or worse, to adopt the "do"), and the famous poster (inspiring legions of males in other ways) when you first think of her. Because Farrah was such a big part of Charlie's Angels success, it's easy to forget that she was only a regular during the show's 1st season (1976-1977). However, she did do guest appearances on the show in subsequent seasons.

Below is an early 1970s commercial for Ultra-Brite toothpaste featuring Farrah at her toothy, All-American girl best.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Ed McMahon, 1923-2009

Yet another pop culture icon is gone. Even though Ed McMahon was closely associated with a variety of TV ventures (commercials for "Cash For Gold" and American Family Publishers, host of Star Search, TV Bloopers & Practical Jokes, etc.), he will forever be known as the ultimate sidekick for his 30 years as the announcer of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. Even if you weren't old enough to stay up and catch The Tonight Show, you more than likely know Ed's iconic introduction of The King of Late Night... "Heeeeeeeeere's Johnny!"

Below is Ed's 1997 appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno in which he discusses his upcoming role on The WB network sitcom The Tom Show. We also get a brief glimpse of Ed singing the blues!

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Retro Mix Playlist For 6/19/09

7 pm hour

Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now- McFadden & Whitehead
Don't Wanna Talk About Love- Danielle Brisebois
New Sensation- INXS
Johnny Come Home- Fine Young Cannibals
25 or 6 To 4- Chicago
Yearnin' Learnin'- Earth, Wind & Fire
The Old Apartment- Barenaked Ladies

Common Thread segment: Heart tunes in honor of Ann Wilson's 58th birthday
Nothin' At All
Even It Up
Dreamboat Annie

Hip Hop Hooray- Naughty By Nature
Jam Master Jay- Run DMC
Never My Love- Blue Swede

8 pm hour

Rock Me Amadeus- Falco
Destination Unknown- Missing Persons
Come Undone- Duran Duran
Keeper of the Castle- The Four Tops
Can't Get Enough of Your Love Babe- Barry White
Another Lover- Giant Steps
Hey Jealousy- The Gin Blossoms

Now & Then segment's feat. artist: Lionel Richie
Nothing Left To Give (from his 2009 CD Just Go)
All Night Long (All Night)

Ebony Eyes- Bob Welch
Our Lips Are Sealed- The Go-Gos
When the Lights Go Out- Naked Eyes
Nothing But A Good Time- Poison
The Love You Save- The Jackson Five
Hot For Teacher- Van Halen

The Retro Mix Video of the Week: Nothin' At All by Heart

Thursday, June 18, 2009

CTFD: Protesters Call For David Letterman's Head

For various reasons, I originally wasn't going to post anything about the Letterman vs. Palin dustup. That is until I saw a clip of the "massive" protest rally outside the building where "The Late Show with David Letterman" is taped. I'll borrow two adjectives from Breakfast Clubber John Bender to describe the protesters calling for the ousting of Dave... demented and sad. I'll add two more. In addition to being entertaining, some of these protesters are quite informative. Had I not watched this, I never would have known that Alex Rodriguez was a professional basketball player or that Jewish was a language.

Thursday Thirteen #73: A "Spoiler Free" List of Movies With Awesome Endings

If mishandled, a bad movie ending can spoil what was until then an enjoyable viewing experience. On the other hand, if done right, a movie ending can stick in one's mind and cause people to talk about years after the film was made. Below is a "spoiler free" and eclectic list of movies whose endings are among the best I've seen.

For anyone tempted to say "you forgot (fill in the movie title)", please keep in mind that this is the Thursday Thirteen. There's also the chance that I didn't include a particular film because either I didn't see it or the ending didn't do much for me.

Having said that, please share with us your favorite movie ending(s) in the comments section.

1. All About Eve

2. Antwone Fisher

3. Casablanca

4. Citizen Kane

5. The Departed

6. The Karate Kid

7. An Officer & A Gentleman

8. Say Anything

9. Some Like It Hot

10. Sunset Boulevard

11. Thelma & Louise

12. The Usual Suspects

13. White Heat

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The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others’ comments. It’s easy, and fun!

Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

View More Thursday Thirteen Participants

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Chart Toppers: Get Back by The Beatles w/ Billy Preston

On this day back in 1969, The Beatles were enjoying their 17th #1 single on the Billboard Hot 100 with the driving rocker Get Back. One of my favorite songs to "air drum" along to, Get Back is unique because it's the only Beatles 45 that credited another artist... keyboardist Billy Preston (although they earlier shared billing with singer Tony Sheridan on his own single My Bonnie).

Below is a clip of the Beatles w/ Billy Preston during their legendary Apple building rooftop concert performing Get Back. Due to a complaint about the noise lodged by Stephen King (an accountant from the nearby Royal Bank of Scotland), the police shut the concert down about 40 minutes into the show. This was to be the Beatles' final public performance. I wonder if Mr. King later put 2 and 2 together and figured out who it was making all that rooftop noise.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Final Results of the Recent Summer Concert Poll

In the recent poll in which I asked whether or not you had plans to see any concerts this summer, just over half of you voted yes. The person that I'm most envious of is Cookingmom who said in the comments section of the poll post that she has tickets to see Depeche Mode in July! She is really good at writing recaps on her blog so I look forward to hearing about the concert highlights.

Here are the final results:
Yes: 52%
No: 21%
Maybe: 26%

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Retro Mix Playlist For 6/12/09

7 pm hour

You May Be Right- Billy Joel
I Don't Wanna Lose Your Love- The Emotions
Poison- Bell Biv Devoe
Boys Do Fall In Love- Robin Gibb
Keep On Smilin'- Wet Willie
Hard To Handle- The Black Crowes
Baby Get It On- Ike & Tina Turner

The Guilty Pleasure of the Week:
Arthur's Theme (The Best That You Can Do)- Christopher Cross

Mystery Lady- Billy Ocean
Mr. Jones- Counting Crows
Stuck In the Middle With You- Stealers Wheel
Girls with Guns- Tommy Shaw
Be Near Me- ABC
Let's All Chant- The Michael Zager Band

8 pm hour

What Would You Say- The Dave Matthews Band
Oh Lonesome Me- The Kentucky Headhunters
Chuck E's In Love- Rickie Lee Jones
You Got Me Dangling On A String- Chairmen of the Board
Turning Japanese- The Vapors
Let Me Tickle Your Fancy- Jermaine Jackson
Every Rose Has Its Thorn
(after the incident at the 2009 Tony Awards, there's a rumor that Bret Michaels is working on a song titled Every Nose Has Its Fracture)
Millenium- Robbie Williams

The Greatest Miss of the Week:
Hey St. Peter- Flash & the Pan (peaked at #76 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1979)

Let My Love Open the Door- Pete Townsend
Joy and Pain- Rob Base & DJ EZ Rock
Joey- Concrete Blonde
Disturbance At the Heron House- R.E.M.
Cult of Personality- Living Colour

The Retro Mix Video of the Week: Boys Do Fall In Love by Robin Gibb

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Tuesday Tunes: Week 87

The weather's heating up so lets do a little "hot" related word association. Songs/Bands/Artists/Albums you think of when you see these words

Steamy- Steamy Windows by Tina Turner

Heat- Going Up the Country by Canned Heat

Hot- Angel In Your Arms by Hot

Summer- Summertime by Billy Stewart

- Dry County by The B 52s

Desert- Midnight At the Oasis by Maria Muldaur

Beach- Boys of Summer by Don Henley (opening lines: Nobody on the road. Nobody on the beach)

Sweat- Sweat (Til You Get Wet) by Brick

This meme was created by The Meme Mistress. If you'd like to join in on the fun, please visit the Music Memoirs page. You can also leave your selections in the comments section of this post.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

The Retro Mix Playlist For 6/5/09

7 pm hour

Neutron Dance- The Pointer Sisters
Jeans On- David Dundas
Goodnight Tonight- Wings
You Get What You Give- New Radicals
Any Way I Gotta Swing It- Whodini
Just A Friend- Biz Markie
Too Hot To Trot- The Commodores

On the Flip Side segment:
Tell Me What You Want- Hall & Oates (song is the B-side to Private Eyes)

Do You Believe In Love- Huey Lewis & the News
Jungle Fever- Stevie Wonder
Adia- Sarah McLachlan
Tempted- Squeeze
Sweet Caroline- Bobby Womack

8 pm hour

The Breakup Song (They Don't Write 'Em)- The Greg Kihn Band
Big Me- The Foo Fighters
Shame Shame Shame- Shirley & Company
Too Hot To Handle- Heatwave
Oh Yeah- Yello
The Beat(en) Generation- The The
Head Over Heels- Tears For Fears
Don't Leave Me This Way- Thelma Houston

With or Without You segment's feat. artist: Paul Westerberg
Alex Chilton- The Replacements
World Class Fad- Paul Westerberg

Who Can It Be Now- Men At Work
Don't Knock My Love- Wilson Pickett
Young Americans- David Bowie
Girlfriend- Pebbles
Dance Little Sister- Terence Trent D'Arby
Any Way You Want It- Journey

The Retro Mix Video of the Week: Girlfriend by Pebbles

Thursday, June 4, 2009

David Carradine, 1936-2009

Earlier today one of my childhood idols, David Carradine, was found dead in Bangkok at the age of 72. Although Carradine played numerous roles in his 45-plus year career, I will always remember him as Kwai Chang Caine on the original 1970s series Kung Fu. Nobody could deliver a slow motion ass whupping like Caine!

Below is a clip of Carradine's 2007 appearance on The John Kerwin Show. In the interview, Carradine talks about the origins of the series Kung Fu. You also get to see if he can snatch a pebble from the hand of John Kerwin. R.I.P. "Grasshopper".

Thursday Thirteen #72: Favorite Advertising Characters

Thirteen of My Favorite Advertising Characters

Over the years, the folks at Madison Avenue have come up with numerous advertising campaigns that may not have made you try the product they were pushing, but at least were memorable. Below, in alphabetical order, are 13 of my favorite advertising characters that have been used to sell everything from cheesy flavored confections to cream filled sponge cakes.

1. Chester Cheetah (Cheetos)

2. Dig 'Em Frog (Sugar Smacks)

3. Flo, the cashier (Progressive Insurance)

4. Fred the Baker (Dunkin Donuts)

5. The Great Root Bear (A&W Root Beer)

6. Messy Marvin (Hershey's Chocoloate Syrup)

7. The Most Interesting Man In the World (Dos Equis Beer)

8. Poppin' Fresh (aka The Pillsbury Doughboy)

9. Punchy (Hawaiian Punch)

10. Rosie the waitress (Bounty paper towels)

11. The Rubberband Man (Office Max)

12. The Scrubbing Bubbles (Scrubbing Bubbles bathroom cleaner)

13. Twinkie the Kid (Twinkies snack cakes)

Who are your favorite advertising characters?

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The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

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