Thursday, April 21, 2011

Whatever Wednesday (One Day Late)

I've seen some comical stuff on line as of late. Here's a few of them.

My college thesis compared and contrasted these two speeches:

I wish I still found things this hysterical:

A healthy breakfast starts with Cheerios:

"My thanks to Jimmy Vivino and the Basic Cable Band...":

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Elisabeth Sladen: Sarah Jane of 'Who' passes

Elisabeth Sladen (Sarah Jane Smith) with Tom Baker (The Doctor)
I have been down today after finding out about the death of Elisabeth Sladen, 63, who played Sarah Jane Smith, companion on "Doctor Who" during the Pertwee and Tom Baker years.

Her perky journalist character was a favorite because she was one of the first companions I knew because I picked up the series on PBS dung the Baker years. She also had one of the longest runs of any Who companion.

This happens to me occasionally. When someone who has been a seminal part of my younger life (as she was with the Who series) passes, I get a little depressed. (Another time I felt this way was with the death of legendary wrestling commentator Gordon Solie, as my brother and I watched Championship Wrestling from Florida religiously on the weekends.)

As cheesy as early "Doctor Who" was in special effects, the series lasted because of its intriguing characters and plots. And while there were hated or forgettable companions like the boy mathematician Adric, characters like Sladen's Sarah Jane enhanced the weekly adventures of the Doctor.

Sladen with David Tennant
Who fans were lucky enough to see Elisabeth on two spin-offs, the short-lived "K9 and Friends" and the continuing "Sarah Jane Adventures" (of which there is another season filmed and ready for broadcast.) She also appeared on Who specials and as guest spots on the Tennant and Smith series.

I'll always remember her younger years: bright-eyed, adventurous, longing for the approval of a man from space even though she had become his equal in many ways.

Elisabeth Sladen passed away from cancer April 18, 2011. She is survived by her husband, actor Brian Miller, and her daughter Sadie.

Sarah Jane, you will be missed.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Music Monday - April 18, 2011

Here's Josh Joplin, a talented modern folk singer, who I found after he appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman. He has a diverse writing style and thoughtful lyrics. 

I wanted to highlight him here because he's appearing at Eddie's Attic, 515 McDonough Street, Decatur GA, April 30 for two shows, at 7pm and 9:30pm. He's an excellent performer and writer and worth checking out. Below is a session he did in Australia. The song is "I Am Not The Only Cowboy" from his album "The Future That Was."

Just a warning: You may see RUSH on here frequently. They are one of my favorite bands of all time. Not only do they have incredibly entertaining concerts but their songwriting is deep and meaningful. This song, "Mission," is one of my favorites. 

This was a funny mash-up. I was really surprised how much Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall" and the Bee Gee's "Staying Alive" work together. It's scary really.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Funny Friday

Each week, I'll pick out some of the more humorous things I've seen or noted for Funny Friday!

On April 16, 122 years ago, Charlie Chaplin was born in London. 
This is one of my favorite moments from his films - "Dancing the Oceana Roll":

This is one of the funniest comedians alive, Ricky Gervais, on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Topics covered include the Golden Glodes, atheism and his new special about comedy:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Exclusive - Ricky Gervais Extended Interview Pt. 1
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogThe Daily Show on Facebook

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Exclusive - Ricky Gervais Extended Interview Pt. 2
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogThe Daily Show on Facebook

Andy Sandford, one of the Beards of Comedy based in Atlanta, 
with a hilarious 15 minute set at the Relapse Theater:

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Thursday Tweets in Review

Looking back at my favorite tweets from the past week (both my own and others.)

Part of Tweet The Joke's caption contest:

Wrote this on a blah day:

Morgan Murphy with a funny yet true point about Twitter:

I try to #FF up to five people I have started following during the week.
I also try to give a solid, entertaining reason why.

And, if you've been reading the blog recently,
you can tell I've been especially frustrated with Conservatives.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Roger Ebert On Finding His Voice... Again

Roger Ebert gave this exceptionally moving and humorous TED talk about finding his voice through technology and the Internet after his cancer surgeries. It's worth 19 minutes of your life to learn what it's like to live with a disability like his. (He also scores points with me for using a Harlan Ellison reference.)

(via @ThatChrisGore, Chris Gore)

Tim Minchin's Storm

I've seen Tim Minchin only a couple times on TV appearances (like on Jonathan Ross' show on BBC America.) And I've always liked his work but this makes me truly want to delve into it more. We've all met this person, unless you are this person. And we all wish we could respond in this dexterous way.

So, from the brilliant mind of British comedian Tim Minchin, the animated movie "Storm":

(Found via @terryjr91, blog: Second From The Back)

Whatever Wednesday: Lies (And the Lying Liars Who Tell Them)

Recent events (well, what am I saying, it's been this way for a long time!) have reminded me of Al Franken's 2003 "Lies (And the Lying Liars Who Tell Them)" in which he points out problem with truth that some conservatives and their media counterparts have.

The latest political turn-of-the-factual-cheek comes from Sen. John Kyl (R-AZ) in his statement that claimed that performing abortions is "well over 90 percent of what Planned Parenthood does." In truth, that number is 3 percent. His office later issued a statement that "was not intended to be a factual statement but rather to illustrate that Planned Parenthood, an organization that receives millions in taxpayer dollars, does subsidize abortions."

Of course, the news comedy shows jumped on this like "tigers of truth" (a phrase soon-to-be stolen by Charlie Sheen.)

Here are Jon Stewart's take on Kyl's statement and Senior Political Strategist Wyatt Cenac explanation of conservative "techniques."

Not to be outdone, here is Stephen Colbert's hilarious take on the stupidity.

Colbert also took to Twitter to continue the point.

Keep'em honest, guys!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Tuesday Top Ten: Favorite TV Shows of All Time

In my continuing effort (two days long now!) to post more often, Tuesdays are now Tuesday Top Tens. This week: a countdown of my favorite TV shows of all time.

Something I've noticed about my list: it's a little sci-fi/fantasy heavy. But hey, it's me we are talking about here so what do you expect?

10. Babylon 5
Ever plan so far ahead you knew exactly where you were going? Ever do that for five years in advance? With an epic storyline about dark and light, saving the universe and finding your purpose in life?

If you answered "yes" to all those questions, then you are J. Michael Straczynski and you created "Babylon 5," writing 92 of the 110 episodes, including all 22 of the third season. Dealing with a station on the outer-reaches of space, its commander tries to create peace among alien races when an even older and more dangerous threat emerges. As the races take sides in the coming war, it becomes evident that more than the fate of the Babylon station was in jeopardy.

It's brilliant storytelling from a masterful writer. It's tackles tough issues straight on and offers a hopeful view of where mankind is going. It's a story on a massive and personal level.

9. Lost
What can I say about "Lost" that hasn't been said (or bitched about?)

Personally, I felt the ending worked and expected the mystical close to the show. I mean, the pilot episode had a healer named Shepard with a side wound and an old man named Locke with a scar across his eye - plus a speech to an innocent boy about light and dark using the pieces of a backgammon board. Where else was a show with that much opening symbolism supposed to go?

Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse took this ball and ran with it. A twisting plot, solid characters and dialogue, deft direction in a beautiful setting and a heart-wrenching soundtrack made "Lost" something hard to forget.

8. Fawlty Towers
Take one of the most hilarious comic actors of all time (John Cleese), give him a cantankerous character with a nagging but smarter wife and a bumbling hotel staff of character actors and you are left with one of the funniest series of all time. One of two British series on my list, "Fawlty Towers" focuses on Basil Fawlty who can't seem to catch a break in life, mainly because he keeps getting in his own way.

7. The X-Files
Ah, Mulder and Scully. "I want to believe." With a mix of engaging mythological stories and stand-alone episodes, "The X-Files" tackles the supernatural in a way that hadn't been seen since "Kolchak: The Night Stalker" (an influence admitted by creator Chris Carter.)

She was the scientist for which everything had an answer; he was the believer who was looking for the truth. They made a balanced team each week while exploring the unknown with bone-chilling or unnerving scares.

6. thirtysomething
This may not seem like my typical fare but "thirtysomething" was influential on me as a younger writer. It was a show about typical suburban family life with all the concerns like work, mortgages, kids and relationships. The plot flowed seamlessly and was intermixed with creative story structures. The characters didn't feel like characters. They were more like people whose lives we looked in on each week. Marshall Herskovitz and Ed Zwick are geniuses in my book and made the mundane into dramatic and compelling.

5. The Prisoner
The second British show on the list, "The Prisoner" is mind-blowing television with a message. A secret agent resigns, is immediately abducted and is taken to an unknown island where everyone is happy and known by a number. "The Prisoner" (as played by series creator Patrick McGoohan) is dogged by the island's leader, No. 2, about why he left his post. The 17 strange stories build to a crescendo where The Prisoner finds out who is the true leader of the island.

4. Firefly
I made a conscious effort to not pick duplicate shows from the same creator. That's what made this choice difficult in the category of Joss Whedon series. "Buffy," "Angel," "Dollhouse" were all viable options but I think as a whole "Firefly" is the one. The mix of character and plot and dialogue create what I think is Whedon's best work and most complete world. Follow that up with an unprecedented movie based on a quickly-cancelled show and it's something I have to stop and watch whenever I catch it on in reruns.

3. M*A*S*H
A show doesn't last 11 years without being something special. It also doesn't last without great writing, memorable characters and innovative direction. A comedy about a war and the people involved, it really doesn't get better than "M*A*S*H."

2. Sports Night
Again, how to make a choice from a brilliant creator's work? Aaron Sorkin's "Sports Night" stands out for me because of many things but mainly for the writing. The cast was phenomenal, the direction was exciting and the plots were emotionally moving. You get wrapped up in the characters of this fictional sports show and, even though it's listed as a comedy, you learn about life with the poignant dramatic moments. The only thing not perfect about this show is that Sorkin decided to stop the show to start "The West Wing," leaving an unresolved cliffhanger.

1. Twin Peaks
I don't think that any series has influenced me more than "Twin Peaks." It is a dizzying mix of everything television should be. From writing to originality to score to direction, "Twin Peaks" turned the form on its head and showed what was truly possible. David Lynch and Mark Frost create an all-encompassing world with rich personas and wild mythology. You had to watch to see what was next because it was so unpredictable and engrossing.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Music Monday Begins!

Often, I'm not sure what to write for my blog so I'm trying to add more content by having themed days during the week. I'm starting with the new institution of Music Mondays - featuring one current, one classic and one conceptual or crazy release.

To start off, an incredible album I picked up recently after seeing this group on the Grammys: 'The Cave' from Mumford & Sons' "Sigh No More."

Josh Charles - actor from "Dead Poets Society," "Sports Night" and "The Good Wife" - tweeted this link yesterday. It reminded me how much I enjoy the blues when I get a chance to hear them: Legendary blues artist Skip James singing 'Crow Jane' from 1967. (via @BaltimoreJosh)

I've followed Genki Sudo since his time as a MMA fighter because of his unique combat style, creativity in the ring and positive message as a human being. (When he won a fight, he would hold up a flag with the words "We Are All One.") After his retirement, I was looking up some of his older fights on YouTube when I found a music video with a group called World Order. The group brought the same positive message that Sudo had as a fighter. Here's his latest video for the song 'Machine Civilization' (with subtitles.)

Sudo also placed this message with the video. While the translation may be slightly broken English, the message remains:
Many disasters are ongoing in Japan; earthquakes, Tsunami, and nuclear accidents. These unprecedented things may be able to change however from now. That's why I expressed through World Order to convey some message to you on my own way. I see these accidents will become a turning point of civilization. I think the time of revolution is coming, where people in the world coexist with this planet against the system of modern society, economy and politics.
Any accident is neutral. Although we are straying around this deep darkness, I believe we can get through anything when each of us can let go of our fear and face things positively.
The world won't change on its own. We do change one by one. That makes the world change. The darkness just before the dawn is deepest. So, we do rise up together to greet the brilliant morning truly coming for the human beings.

Genki Sudo
Hope you enjoyed this first edition of Music Mondays. If you have any suggestions for entries, let me know in the comments section.

Until next time, remember: We Are All One!