Ever since Heath Ledger and Roy Scheider, it seems like "celebrity" deaths have been plaguing the news lately. I use that term loosely because many of them are ones that didn't impact me in one way or the other so I would normally never mention them. However, they have been happening non-stop lately. It's like the grim reaper was sending me a message that "you know what...you either say something about them or I'ma keep knocking them off!"
This one probably should have gotten a shout out earlier. Especially with his passing occurring during Black History Month and he was such an integral part of our history. His 1965 jailing ignited a protest that ultimately led to the famed Selma-to-Montgomery march and the Voting Rights Act. A Black history buff like myself should have known that and didn't. Shame on me. Rest in peace, Rev.
With a name that common, I wonder if statistically speaking, a Mike Smith doesn't die at least once a week. Anyway, this one was pertaining to the lead singer of the Dave Clark Five, a group that was part of the British invasion of the 60s. So basically, another Beatles wannabe has bit the dust.
The headline read "'American Hot Rod' star dead". At first, I got it confused thinking it was one of those cats from that West Coast Choppers show. Then I remembered that that show was called "American Chopper". And they do bikes, not cars. Then I thought it was that Jesse James cat, until I realized that he does bikes too. Then it hit me that I had no clue who this Boyd guy was.
The name sounds like he could be some trust fund baby who skips around the world spending his folks hard-earned cash a la Paris Hilton. Or like he could be a heel on a WWE storyline. Or perhaps both? Yeah, perhaps neither. Apparently he was known for his Emmy-winning syndicated public television show "Firing Line". Good for you. Would have had more of a bearing on me if he actually had been a WWE wrestler.
The "funny" thing about this one is this cat only got a footnote on CNN compared to the others. They didn't even bother posting a picture of him. This is the same guy who was the drummer for Jimi Hendrix and the voice of the California raisins. He deserved better than that. In fact, I am going to give him his own separate obit so disregard this one.
Name doesn't "ring a bell", huh? It didn't to me either, but her brother's did. She was the sister of boxing legend Joe Louis. She was found frozen to death outside her assisted-living center apartment. Still in her pajamas and only wearing one shoe. What a terrible, terrible way to go. Apparently somebody wasn't doing a very good job of assisting her with living at that place. Get the lawyers ready for this one. Rest in peace, Ms. High.
He played the ex on the 70s show "Rhoda". Never watched the show. I only vaguely remember her as the neighbor from "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" before she got her own show so of course I wasn't going to remember him. The only reason the name halfway registered with me is if you throw an 'l' on the end and it's the cat who was the third member of Nirvana and founder of the Foo Fighters.
He was the Democratic chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. Ironically, he was also the only Holocaust survivor to serve in Congress. Two pluses for in my book. I never heard of you before, but those facts alone makes you alright with me. Rest in peace, Representative.
This one is the latest and a rather odd one. Not because the sista was 47 and doesn't look it. Afterall, she was a model so that was to be expected. Odd because she was a vocal opponent of female genital mutilation and she was found in the Seine River in France yesterday. After she had been missing since January. Naturally, police are saying there appears to be no foul play. That perhaps she just fell into the river. Because you know...that happens all the time. Wherever you are now, Katoucha...you betta work! Rest in peace, sista girl.
Contrary to popular belief, there actually are some other viable web video sites out there besides YouTube. It just seems sometimes that YouTube is the only player in town. It's not that I had bought into that, it's just that I didn't want to invest the time to find other substitutes. But I knew they were out there.
Daily Motion offers many of the same things that YouTube has regarding video clips. What makes them special enough to get this week's distinction is that they seem to have a little more variety. It could be because they are not yet as recognizable as YouTube yet so some of their videos just haven't gotten enough exposure to get snatched for copyright infringement. Whatever the case may be, it is a nice complement to YouTube.
One video in particular was available at DM that I couldn't embed from YouTube. It was so "special" that I just had to share it with everyone. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to teach a zombie to dance without it having the benefit of having the rhythm of a Michael Jackson "Thriller" video? Wonder no more...
As much as I claim to like movies, I unashamedly have not seen many of what people would consider classics. "Cassablanca"..."Gone with the Wind"..."Citizen Kane" and the such. As a matter of fact, I just went thru AFI's list of their top 100 movies of the last 100 years and I have only seen 25 of them. So needless to say, there are still classics out there I still need to see but just haven't got around to yet. "A Raisin in the Sun" would fall into that same category.
The news of modern day music mogul P. Diddy (or whatever name he's going by these days) signing on to star in the Broadway version of the play piqued my interest more. Yet another reason to go see my first Broadway play ever. Like that was going to happen. Since it wasn't very likely, the more recent news that they were bringing that version to television was a welcome surprise.
The story centers around an African American family on the impoverished side of Chicago in the late 50s. The patriarch of the family has already passed away and the insurance check from what must have been his life insurance policy is what drives "A Raisin in the Sun". The family is torn over how to spend the $10,000 inheritance.
Hard-working chauffeur son Walter Lee (P. Diddy) wants to invest the money with a couple of friends to open a liquor store business. His sister Beneathea (Sanaa Lathan) wants the money to further her education so she can pursue her dreams of becoming a doctor. The matriarch of the family, Lena (Phylicia Rashad) just want wants best for the well-being of the family.
It may just be me, but without the proper direction, the movement from the stage to the screen doesn't always go over so well. There are often times where it looks like the actors are saying their lines right on cue instead of having a more natural feel to it. The dialog looks more rehearsed than like actual conversations. Unfortunately, that's how the tv version of "A Raisin in the Sun" was for me.
It was also curious that they chose Audra McDonald as the choice for P. Diddy's wife. When the movie first started, I was unclear if she was supposed to be his mother or what because she looks so much older than him. Ironically, in real life, Audra is actually a year younger than Diddy. They should have done a better job of either casting or working on her appearance. She seems to have a bit of that Idris Elba-thing working where she looks far older than her actual years.
Which leads me to my next point. P. Diddy as the lead Walter Lee. I will say that he did an admirable job in the role. In fact, it's quite possible that this may not have even been on network television were it not for his presence. Still, they could have easily cast a stronger actor in that lead. Think about it...he's coming off the heels of Sidney Poitier and Danny Glover previously playing that part. Diddy's acting hasn't improved THAT much. This would have been a perfect vehicle for my man Terrence Howard.
I would say that I would finally get to scratch another classic off my list. However, this "Raisin in the Sun" wasn't the version that Sidney Poitier made famous. At least I can say that I have finally seen the story. Now I feel obligated to watch the original to see how much better I know Poitier made it. For all the hype and critical acclaim this 2008 version received, it fell just a little short for me.
We are now in the second or third week (honestly, I've lost track) of the Hollywood portion of American Idol and I haven't said anything so far. I was going to try to wait until they widdled down the pool of 3.5 million finalists as it is just far too many contestants right now. However, you know me...couldn't keep quiet for long.
First off, I don't know about anyone else, but I really get tired of every season hearing the judges and Ryan tell us that "this is the most talented season of American Idol yet". Do they really think that we are that stupid? Okay...some of the voting public are a few sammiches short of a picnic basket, but this isn't my first rodeo. The truth is, they haven't had a truly good season of singers since the year that Ruben and Clay squared off. Ever since then, they have been lucky to have one good singer out of the bunch.
This season is no different. Especially for the guys. Not a single one of them has any discernible outstanding talent. Take last week for example. The judges were gushing over what an amazing job this David Archuleta kid did. The reality was it was just average. It just seemed so great because all of the other guys sucked it up so bad, it made David look good. It's like that okay-looking girl at the club who purposely goes out with her uglier friends to make herself look glamorous.
Maybe it is still early and they are still trying to shake some nerves. I don't know how else to explain how those 12 guys could have possibly been selected for the top voices they could find. Then again, I guess another explanation could be that the judges have something else other than Coca Cola in those cups. Not that it would surprise me with Paula.
As for the ladies, they at least have a couple that stand out. One was the wannabe rocker Amanda Overmyer. Or she was for a minute anyway. Ever since the first time she was showcased, it was evident that she may be hampered by her limited ability of only rock vocals. Although my man Chris Daughtry did it and it turned out okay for him. The thing about Amanda though is this week was TERRIBLE for her. She may have just exposed the fact that I had over-estimated her ability.
The other gal who has not disappointed so far is Syesha Mercado. This chica has got a phenomenal voice and even has the look to match. She hasn't had the problem that other contestants have had where they make a poor song choice that doesn't favor their vocal style. Not so far anyway. I seriously doubt she will. I have her for the hands down favorite to at very least make it to the top three.
There have only been a few performances so far so it is a little premature for me to be selecting the ones I think should make it into the top five or so. A lot could happen between then and now. Maybe one of the guys could step it up between then and now. Although I don't foresee that happening. I wouldn't be surprised at all if the top three consisted entirely of females.
As bas as it is this season, at least they didn't punish us with any Sanjayas. Yet.
What I really wanted to here was put up a stepshow that yours truly competed in at ISU's Greekfest back in the day. The problem is I can't find it. I am confident that it's packed away in the garage somewhere. Right now, it's entirely too cold to go foraging thru boxes trying to find it. That is if someone didn't accidentally throw it away already.
Even when I do find it, I still have the task of transferring it from video to dvd so that I can burn it to the computer. No clue how much and/or how long that will take, but it would definitely be worth it.
Until that magical day, I thought I would use this one instead. It's from a former Vault Pick of the Week "School Daze". It's interesting watching this now and seeing how dated it already is. Back then, these were some high quality steps. If you go to a stepshow now, bros are on some high level step that my out-of-shape butt couldn't even fathom. That's what you call evolution though...
That apparently is the attitude my wi-fi card is taking in my laptop. It's just a matter of time before it goes out altogether and stops working completely. Right now, it's trying to sike me out as one day it will work fine then the very next, it won't.
The problem just happened rather randomly. It had been doing just fine as I had been on the lappy playing my Spades online one night. I shut it off and put it away to go to sleep. The next morning I wake up and no signal. Troubleshooting discovered that my laptop is not even acknowledging that there is a wifi card installed. What in the world?! Did the wifi card fairies come repo the card while I was sleeping?!
I called the lovely people at the HP helpdesk and they did even more troubleshooting. Installed an update, hard reboot, sacrificed a live chicken...nothing worked. Their final resolution was I have to send in the entire lappy to have them fix it. That's a minimum two weeks without my laptop. TWO WEEKS! That's the near equivalent of being without an appendage for two weeks for me.
The good thing is that I can still get internet connectivity the old-fashioned way. I can use the good ol' ethernet cable and connect that to the modem to get online. The bad part about that is I can no longer enjoy the comforts of the couch and the big screen while I surf the net since the modem is not located in that room.
The bad thing about the whole sending it in is I lose everything. Of course I won't have my lappy itself but I mean beyond that. They will most likely erase all my data trying to repair the issue. Sure, I need to back-up everything so I can restore all data once the lappy is returned; however, it's the inconvenience of the whole that is the biggest pain the butt.
For right now, the wifi card continues to have good days and bad days. That leads me to believe that there is something wrong with the card itself. Just great, considering that the lappy is less than a year old. Which also worries me that this better not happen again in another year when there is no longer a warranty on it. That would be just my luck.
There's a very good reason "Crash" won the Oscar for motion picture of the year in 2006. It really was THAT good. One of the few years that the Oscars got it right. Don't even get me started on how they keep shafting Denzel's movies. Fortunately for the Academy, Denzel did not have a worthy movie out there in 2006. But I digress...
I had no idea what this movie was about before I saw it. I was just ignited by the fact it had several of my favorite stars in it. It is rather difficult for a movie to go wrong with Larenz Tate, Terrence Howard, Sandra Bullock, Matt Dillon and Don Cheadle, just to mention a few. After watching it, it was obvious that it was the powerful script that probably attracted all of them to "Crash" in the first place.
What it reminded me of was a little bit grittier version of "Grand Canyon", which also had an all-star cast. Both movies takes us into the lives of individuals with extremely diverse backgrounds. They would probably normally never interact with one another. However, thru the course of random events, their lives all intersect in some fashion.
The best thing about movies like these is watching the character evolutions. Everyone is affected by different incidents in the movie and they are changed people before the end of the film. Some have turned out for the better and some for the worst. One way or the other, no one is the same person they were when we are first introduced to their characters.
I continue to be amazed how rappers step into roles and shine like they had been doing it all their life. Granted, Ludacris was playing a thug which is not that far from the lyrics he's always spitting, but his character still did not come across as a two-dimensional stereotype. He did not look like he was just reading lines which helped to make him yet another key component to the ensemble cast.
"Crash" is one of the rare movies to evoke a wide-range of emotions in a short 2-hour timeframe. What's even more compelling is a character you may hate one moment ends up being one you cheer for the next. Or even pity. We become somewhat attached to their consequences because of how phenomenal this screenplay is. You get caught up in their lives yourself as if you were one of their six degrees of separation. So much so that when the experience is over, it is almost as if you have come down off a high.
Didn't we all have that one sadistic PE teacher growing up? Actually, no. At least not that I remember. Or I should clarify that not if you were one of the athletic kids. When I think back on it, the meeker ones were the ones that had to bear the blunt of the most dodgeballs aimed at them. It's not that they were getting picked on, it's just that they were easier targets. Now that I think more about it, Mr. McFarland wasn't doing much to help matters by constantly encouraging those type of games.
What "Mr. Woodcock" is a film that focuses on that exaggerated PE coach from our past. There probably are people out there that really did have a teacher like him. That one gym teacher who relished in the fact that his role could be used as more of a bully than that of an educator. Maybe the teacher himself used to be in that position when he was a shortie so it was his turn to be on the other side. Even if it was unfair to the students.
We all grow up sooner or later though. The lessons that we learn in our childhood, whether they are for better or for worse, stay with us all throughout life. It really is true that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger and that's what teachers like Mr. Woodcock try to instill in youths in their own demented way.
John Farley (Sean William Scott) was one of those kids who grew up to be successful in spite of having to deal with the Mr. Woodcocks of the world. In fact, it was chiefly Mr. Woodcock (Billy Bob Thornton) who was responsible for his worst childhood memories which John used to his advantage to become a self-help guru.
Just when John thinks he has gotten his past behind him, he returns home to receive the honored Corncob Key to discover the unimaginable. His widowed mother (Susan Sarandon) has a new boyfriend: the one and only Mr. Woodcock. John makes it his personal cause to prove Mr. Woodcock is not the man his mother thinks he is.
It was interesting that they chose Omaha, NE as the setting for most of this movie. When John returns there, of course the first thing we see is aerial view of farm after farm and cornfields galore. Then when he finally does get to town, they choose what had to have been the hickest part of the city for him to drive thru. Nice unintentional comedy on their part. Omaha is just slightly more modern than that.
The slapstick humor is by far the best part about this film. It was almost its downfall. Sean William Scott has excellent comedic talent that could have been better used were it not for all the physical gags. Fortunately, his interaction to those, as well as Thorntons, was one of the chief reasons "Mr. Woodcock" was an entertaining flick.
I had previously mentioned how a local paper around here would give out free tickets to advanced screenings like "Love and Basketball". Although not all the movies were always good ones, the opportunity did introduce me to the Farrelly Brothers. Their classic "There's Something About Mary" crossed boundaries rarely seen in film and they have been doing it ever since. That's how we get "The Heartbreak Kid".
Eddie Cantrow (Ben Stiller) is a 40-year-old bachelor who just watched his ex-fiancee get married. Feeling the pressure from his sex-infatuated father (played hilariously by Stiller's real-life father, Jerry Stiller) and best friend, Eddie ua quick to find his own romance. A little too quick.
He hooks up with a supposed environmental researcher Lila (Malin Akerman) and they are married six weeks later. It is on their honeymoon that he discovers she definitely is not what he was looking for while he runs into the one woman, Miranda (Michelle Monaghan), who is.
The thing that immediately came to mind as I was watching this was "Dharma and Greg". Or maybe an extreme example of it. Eddie really knew very little about Lila when they got married. What he was probably focused on was how she looked. Each time he finds out a new "quirk" she has, the movies continues to get funnier.
Stiller is as reliable as he always is. When it comes down to it, he is probably a better performer than he is an actor. He is constantly typecast in these type of roles because he always knows how to deliver. It doesn't require a lot of depth, but he knows how to make the most of those roles to get some good laughs.
The one character that had me cracking up on a constant basis was Martin (Danny McBride). He was Miranda's cousin who doesn't like Eddie from the second he meets him. We never get to see if he is 100% psychotic; however, he has his moments when it is clear he's about a sammich short of a Happy Meal.
As with any Farrelly Brothers movie, there are some outrageously crude moments. It is rated "R" for a reason. For instance, when Lila tries to help Eddie with the jellyfish stuck to his back, watch out. The movie would have still been funny even without those sometimes awkward scenes. However, having those in there reminds you that they will do anything for a laugh. Consider yourself warned!