Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Justice for Jimmy

I don't get it. In It's A Wonderful Life, how come no one ever discovers that mean old Mr. Potter had Uncle Billy's $8,000 the whole time? Why does he get away with it? It's a huge cinematic plot flaw.

At one point the cast of Saturday Night Live evidentally were haunted by this omission too, so they remedied it themselves in It's A Wonderful Life - The Lost Ending. Mr. Potter finally gets his just desserts. Good grief, is that Captain Kirk introducing the sketch? Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Go Retro Video of the Day: Usher and Gene Kelly Make a Splash

I was perhaps a bit too hasty smacking down on CBS' Movies Rock television special a few weeks ago. It actually wasn't that bad. OK, it was pretty good. But only because the performers stayed true to the songs' original arrangements and didn't mess things up too much.

I think my favorite portion was when Usher performed "Singing in the Rain" step-for-step a la Gene Kelly's routine from the 1952 film. Check out the side-by-side video below of the two performers that just got posted on YouTube to see just how spot-on Usher was. I feel wet just watching these two guys. Wait! That came out wrong.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Boyz II Men II Motown

Image courtesy Amazon.com.

Finally, someone out there who happens to be African American is paying homage to their roots instead of putting out a hip-hop record. Boyz II Men has released a CD called Motown: A Journey Through Hitsville USA and covers such classics as Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me), The Tracks Of My Tears, War, and Mercy Mercy Me. The Boyz performed a choreographed medley on The View last week and said something to the effect that they wanted to bring back the old music before it was forgotten, which was greeted with cheers from the audience. Of course, to quote one of their redone songs, ain't nothing like the real thing, baby, but I'll give these boyz kudos for trying.

Go Retro's Retro Hottie of the Month: The Abominable Snowman from the Rudolph TV Special

Gadzooks! I nearly forgot! Who else could I pick for December? Danny Kaye from White Christmas? (Sorry, Mr. Kaye.) Yes, this guy is a bit herky jerky but he can't help it - he's a bumble. And bumbles bounce!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Sock it To Me!

Image courtesy Macys and International Concepts.

Just when I think I've outgrown the 60s-inspired look that clothing lines bring back year after year, INC (International Concepts) has to come out with something groovy to lure me back. This looks like something I wouldn't wear until the spring, but Macy's is selling it now for $89 in case you want to give it as a holiday gift to the flower child in your life. It's cotton but has to be hand washed as there's beaded detail on each of the flowers. Available online at the Macy's site or in Macy's stores in the INC section.

Monday, December 10, 2007

They Want to Sing it Again

Image courtesy 20th century Fox.

In my opinion, a collection of Christmas songs is not complete unless it contains the 1958 hit The Chipmunk Song - you know, the one that makes some people want to smash their CD player up. Well, you cynics get ready because those cute little critters Simon, Theodore, and Alvin...um, Alvin? ALVIN!!!! are back starting this Friday when the feature film Alvin and The Chipmunks, starring Jason Lee from My Name is Earl, hits theaters. This time around, the rodents have been brought into the 21st century and 3D-ized thanks to the wonders of computer special effects. And they've been sexisized, too, as one of them sings the Pussycat Dolls' "Don't You Wish Your Girlfriend Was Hot Like Me?" while taking a shower in the dishwasher.

The Chipmunks were originally the brainchild of Ross Bagdasarian, a struggling songwriter whose early claim to fame was cowriting the Rosemary Clooney hit "Come on-a My House." He also had bit parts in Hollywood films, including Rear Window. When he was down to $200 in his savings account with a mortgage and family, he used $190 of it to purchase a tape recording machine which he then used to speed up and slow down vocals. The result was the novelty hit "Witch Doctor" which topped the charts in 1958 and inspired the creation of Alvin, Simon, and Theodore. Bagdasarian's Chipmunks franchise blossomed throughout the 60s with a cartoon TV show and numerous records, including one where the Chipmunks covered Beatles hits. Bagdasarian died young - at the age of 52 - in 1972, but his son has carried on the legacy to this day.

Bagdasarian and The Chipmunks were featured on yesterday's CBS Sunday Morning show. You can read more about them on the program's site and you can check out more about the Chipmunks movie at their official site.

Oprah Seeking Fanatics Who Had Crushes on "Past" Stars

Picture courtesy BBC.

If you recognize yourself as one of the girls in this photo or pelted Tom Jones with the contents of your lingerie drawer, then Oprah Winfrey is looking for you! I'm subscribed to the Oprah Winfrey Show mailing list, and I couldn't help but notice this on the bottom of one of the recent emails:

Have a HUGE CRUSH on a STAR from the past?
Is there a huge star from the past that makes your heart go pitter-patter? Can you honestly say that you were a celebrity's BIGGEST FAN? Were your bedroom walls papered with posters of this sensation? Did you scribble his or her name all over your notebooks? Who was your celebrity crush from the past? Did you have a major crush on a tv heartthrob...a silver screen sweetheart ...or a rock star? Do you ever wonder where they are now? Are you desperate to meet them? The Oprah Show wants to know who your superstar crush was from the past. Like, totally send us an email and tell us all every detail!

So, if you don't mind making a fool out of yourself on public television by admitting you had a poster of David Cassidy or whomever on your wall, knock yourself out by filling out the online form. But what if your past celebrity crush is dead That's a problem I encounter all of the tiime!

Friday, December 07, 2007

Movies Rock; These Singers Do Not

Photo courtesy CBS.com. A loudmouth below from the Movies Rock TV special sings "Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend" while one of her dancers prepares to give her oral sex.

If you like the idea of rappers and untalented divas publicly incinerating some of the most beloved film songs from the 20th century, then tonight's CBS special Movies Rock airing at 9 PM EST is for you. Performers include Beyoncé, Carrie Underwood, Chris Brown, Busta Rhymes, Sir Elton John, Eve, Fergie, Jennifer Hudson, John Legend, John Williams, LL Cool J, LeAnn Rimes, Marc Anthony, Mary J. Blige, Nicole Scherzinger, Queen Latifah, Tony Bennett and Usher and will.i.am. Sam I Am who?

I have no beef with Marc Anthony (unlike his wife, he can actually sing) and Sir Elton John but I've no desire to hear Beyonce sing Somewhere Over the Rainbow as "soooooommmeeeewhhhhhaaaaarrreeeee ovvvvverrrrrrr the rrrr-ay-ay-ay-ay-ain-bowwww!!!" unless my eardrums desire a dose of sadomachism. A better choice for her would've been "If I only had a brain."

Cecil B. DeMille will be turning over in his grave tonight.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Where Will Clark Kent Change Into Superman Now?

Pay phones, I'm afraid, are about to go the way of the telegraph. AT&T has announced that it is getting out of the phone booth and pay phone business by the end of 2008, since so many people own cell phones now.

The first public coin telephone was installed in a Hartford, Conn., bank in 1889. By 1902, there were 81,000 public pay phones in service in the United States. During the 50s, the phone booth gained notoriety when the fad of "cramming" - or the act of stuffing as many people as possible into a phone booth - became popular among college students.

I think it's sad. I like phone booths. Years from now some kid will be watching an old movie and will ask, "What IS that?" I can't think of Superman without thinking about Clark Kent changing in a phone booth. Verizon still operates some pay phones in the U.S., particularly on the east coast, although I wouldn't be surprised if they yank them eventually as well.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Knocking on Roll & Roll Heaven's Door

Picture courtesy Amazon.

Oh, untimely death! Along comes a book that is either fascinatingly morbid, or morbidly fascinating, depending on which way you look at it: Rock & Roll Heaven: A Fascinating Guide to Musical Icons Who Have Joined the Great Gig in the Sky, by Robert Dimery and Bruno MacDonald. Here's the description from the inside flap:

Rock & Roll Heaven is a fascinating look at over 100 of popular music’s most famous fatalities, from legendary rockers who lived fast and died young to tragic and self-destructive poet-musicians.

Discover whose body was washed up at the foot of Beale Street, home of the blues. Find out why country legend Gram Parsons’ corpse was stolen. Read about the grisly coincidence that links Keith Moon and Mama Cass.

Artist portraits feature career highlights along with details of their untimely demise, accompanied by stunning photographs.

This is your graveside guide to the final days of some of popular music’s legends. Featuring 120 late-but-great icons that have knocked on heaven’s door or driven down the highway to hell, each entry includes a revealing account of the star’s death, along with a wealth of fascinating facts and tantalizing trivia. Here’s how the end came for . . .

Buddy Holly . . .Died Feb. 3, 1959 . . . Cause: plane crash
Sam Cooke . . .Died Dec. 11, 1964 . . .Cause: gunshot
Jimi Hendrix . . . Died Sept. 18, 1970 . . . Cause: asphyxiation
Janis Joplin . . .Died Oct. 4, 1970 . . .Cause: drug overdose
“Mama” Cass Elliot . . .Died July 29, 1974 . . .Cause: heart attack
John Lennon . . .Died Dec. 8, 1980 . . . Cause: gunshot
Marvin Gaye . . .Died Dec. 28, 1983 . . . Cause: gunshot
Jeff Buckley . . .Died May 29, 1997 . . .Cause: drowned

You’ll get inside stories on these tragedies and many more in Rock & Roll Heaven.

It's retailing for $16.49 on Amazon.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Godspeed, Evel Knievel

Picture copyright Telegraph Media Group Limited 107.

Rogue stuntman Evel Knievel passed away last week at the age of 69 from multiple health problems.

Robert Craig Knievel began life as a small-time burglar and motorcycle thief in Butte, Montana, which led to his being nicknamed "Evil Knievel" by the police. He changed the spelling and later adopted the moniker as his stage name. Long before extreme sports were invented, Knievel's stunts during the late 60s and 70s propelled him into pop culture icon status, and created a new artform. He survived over 300 jumps and broke 40 bones during his career. An attempt to jump the fountains at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas in 1967 resulted in a 3-month long coma when he lost control of his bike on the way down.

Knievel left his first wife, the mother of his four children, in the early 1980s and married Krystal Kennedy-Knievel in 1999, who was less than half his age. They later divorced, but continued to live together until his death.

His gravesite has actually been waiting since 1974, since he didn't think he would live to see old age. Several tributes were held yesterday in Montana. His final message to his fans was, "chase your dreams and get up if you fall."

Speaking of Has-Been 80s Pop Stars with Disappearing Noses

I'm only mentioning this because it is a milestone for my pop culture generation, but Friday marked the 25th anniversary release of the album Thriller. Why was a record that featured clearly a Halloween-themed song released less than a month before Christmas?

I loathe Michael Jackson so much that I couldn't bear to post his picture on my blog, and I can't believe how many girls in my age range had a crush on him when this album came out. He was already so creepy to me - the soft-spoken, effiminate voice, the one glove, Neverland Ranch, etc. You mean no one else could see back then that this was a freak in the making? And while I will admit the album had some good songs on it, the only one I really liked was "The Girl is Mine" - because it was a duet with Paul McCartney. BTW, his sister Latoyota or Latoya or whatever her name is played his love interest in the video of the other song he did with McCartney, "Say Say Say." This didn't raise any red flags in the early 80s?

Anyways, the album still continues to sell 60,000 copies annually. It introduced us to Jackson's trademark dance the moonwalk and was instantly a huge chart success.

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