Saturday, January 31, 2015

GOOD NEWS FOR SHOW TUNES

When I was in my late teens and twenties, especially my four years in the military, I often hid my love for great songs from Broadway musicals even though WEST SIDE STORY had had an enormous impact on me and even my writing, but then after I joined the movement for women's and gay rights as the 1970s began, I came out and admitted I loved a lot of show tunes.

This article supports the conclusion that singing show tunes can actually improve the minds of people with dementia and Alzheimers. I love science.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

ROD MCKUEN R.I.P.

I didn't know Rod McKuen, but I certainly knew his poetry when I was a young man and he was one of the most popular poets in the history of the USA, or the world. In some ways he was the first "spoken word" artist to have an impact.

Back in the 1960s I knew very few Beat chicks, or later Hippie birds, who didn't have a crush on McKuen and his records in which he read his prosy personal conversationally lyric poems. And though I hated to admit it, when some young woman would insist on playing Stanyan Street or Listen To The Warm, I'd pretend to be too hip for it but would actually be moved.

The man had a voice that expressed his take on the dailiness of loneliness and love sickness better than a lot of more technically brilliant poets of the time. And he was a prize-winning composer and song writer. He had enormous popular success but was mostly dismissed by the academy and the book critics and his fellow poets.

Here's a great story about the poet and writer Aram Saroyan's encounter with McKuen when Aram was a young man. Goodnight Rod, you deserved to have been treated better by your poet peers, but at least you had a worldwide audience that loved you.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

ANOTHER OLD FAVORITE QUOTE

"While looking for the light, you may suddenly be devoured by the darkness and find the true light."  —Jack Kerouac (from The Scripture of the Golden Eternity)

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING

Well after watching THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING, I can see why Eddie Redmayne, who plays Stephen Hawking, is the favorite to win the Best Actor Oscar, and has already won other Best Actor awards. He brings Hawking to life in a way that seems so solidly real you forget you're watching an actor transform himself and feel like you're watching Hawking himself. Brilliant performance.

But hopefully not lost in the warranted accolades for Redmayne's performance is the actress who plays his wife, Felicity Jones, whose performance is so nuanced and subtle it might be overshadowed but shouldn't be. It's an amazingly compelling performance, and the aging alone is impressive to watch considering so little of it is done with makeup but rather with attitude.

I wasn't expecting a domestic drama, but these actors make it work, along with the rest of the typically competent Brit cast. Well worth seeing.

STORM OF THE CENTURY, UM, YEAR, UH, WEEK

Just another January snowstorm it turned out. But because it seemed it might be worse, a lot of friends didn't have to go to school or work today, so a little mini winter vacation was had by all. Not a bad outcome. And, as always, better safe than sorry.

[PS: Friends in the Boston area and on the cape got slammed with what NYC was supposed to get, so here's to a quick recovery from the storm damage for all of Eastern Mass. and much of New England...]

Sunday, January 25, 2015

THE SAG AWARDS

I'm not going to comment on all the SAG awards that were won tonight, but just wanted to note that two of my favorite performances were recognized: Patricia Arquette for best supporting actress in a movie for BOYHOOD and J.K. Simmons for best supporting actor in a movie for WHIPLASH. Well deserved and who I voted for.

And their acceptance speeches were good too, especially Simmons's, which stated the obvious but you don't hear said much, which is that any production that uses actors, whether in movies, on TV or on stage, the success of the endeavor requires that every actor, even one with only one line, has to bring it for the whole piece to work.

I used to say having the kinds of small roles I did for years in films and on TV was challenging because it's like Picasso paints a canvas except for one little piece of the corner of the canvas which you are then asked to finish. It ain't as easy as just making your own painting.

Anyway, the rest of the awards were relatively predictable (I suppose some would say Arguette's and Simmons's wins were too, but they were both first timers I think, at least in that category and a few months ago neither were very high on the expected winners list) and I was happy enough for the recipients. Though BIRDMAN winning for best cast of a movie seemed a little bit of a stretch for me, as much as I liked that film and the performances.

BOYHOOD's performances were more demanding (picking up the thread once a year for a few weeks for twelve feckin years, come on, that's challenging) and all the best movies had amazing ensemble work. But I won't argue with any of the awards, I'm just happy that Arquette and Simmons won. If you haven't seen their performances, please as soon as you get the chance check out BOYHOOD and WHIPLASH.

SOME GOOD ONES