Friday, June 06, 2014

Today's Best Picture Ever: Bill Bixby!

Pop Culture Roundup: Brady Bunch! Spies! Dixie Cups! P-Funk! Wally Wood!

Ann B. Davis, who played the lovable maid, Alice, on "The Brady Bunch," died at age 88 earlier this week. Variety shares a list of 12 facts many of us probably didn't know about the actress.
She co-starred with John Forsythe, later of “Dynasty” fame, and Elsa Lanchester, aka “Bride of Frankenstein,” in the short-lived 1965-66 NBC comedy “The John Forsythe Show,” about an Air Force major who inherits a girls’ school.

Spy Vibe takes a look at vintage secret agent model kits!


NPR remembers the Dixie Cups' great single "Chapel of Love," which turns 50 this month.


The Parliament-Funkadelic "mothership" is heading to the Smithsonian.
It's 1976 in Houston, and a rapturous crowd is swaying back and forth to the infectious funk of -Funkadelic's "Mothership Connection." Then, suddenly, it's there. A sparkling silver spaceship appears with flashing strobe lights shining from its feet, spewing smoke as it lands on the stage. Out steps frontman .

...Clinton says that when he created the Mothership, he was trying to outdo everything in rock 'n' roll, including the elaborate Broadway musical Hair.
"I definitely felt we needed something to be proud of as black people," Clinton says. "We wanted to have a funk opera."


Via Cap'n's Comics: Wally Wood invents "Game of Thrones."

Fab Friday: Beatles pics!

Beatles news, reviews, perspective and history daily at The Glass Onion!

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Picture Sleeve Parade: Brigitte Bardot!

Today's Best Picture Ever: Keith Richards and Mick Jagger!

Reviews: Double; X:Men - Days of Future Past

The Double is an artsy yet funny fable starring Jesse Eisenberg as a young government clerk, Simon, who suddenly finds himself working alongside his exact duplicate - same clothes, same hair, same everything.

Yet, the double, James, is annoyingly self-assured and confident, soon showing up Simon in the eyes of the boss and, worse yet, in the eyes of Hannah (Mia Wasikowska), the cute girl in the office Simon's been crushing on.

We develop underdog sympathies for Simon right off the bat. After all, who hasn't suddenly been confronted with a rival and wondered, what's he got that I haven't? 

But as the film goes on, James becomes increasingly more sinister in Simon's eyes. And we wonder if Simon's losing it. If maybe he is James and if what we're seeing is one man's madness.  That's the theme of the Dostyevsky story the film is based on, and it reels us in, aided by fine performance by Eisenberg in both roles and direction and staging that gives everything an alien, yet familiar tinge.

Simon's workplace is depressingly bleak, filled with outdated-looking yet strangely different technology. Apart from James and Hannah, all his co-workers seem to be elderly. There's an "Eraser Head"-like dream/nightmare feel to it all. The absurdity of his surroundings and circumstances make us laugh, but there's plenty of darkness here, too. 

The parallels of the film to the other recent suddenly-I-have-a-double film, "Enemy," are interesting. While that film was darker and more suspenseful than this one, they both hit many of the same sinister notes. Turns out one of the things that can frighten us most is ourselves.


X-Men: Days of Future Past. Loosely based on the 1980s comics storyline by Chris Claremont and John Byrne, this is a film that can't really stand alone. You need to have seen all the previous X-Men films, plus the Wolverine films to fully engage with the characters and plot.

Which, I suppose, isn't necessarily a bad thing. It's more an indication of how increasingly similar watching superhero movies on screen has become to reading comics. Marvel has created an on-screen Universe -- actually a few of them -- that has become increasingly self-referential. That can shut out newcomers and result in plots that rely more on playing with the pieces than originality. But it also can result in longer, more-sophisticated stories that get told over multiple films, not just one two-hour adventure, and which help us get to know the characters better.

That aspect is nice here, as we spend most of the film with just a handful of characters: Wolverine and the younger "X-Men: First Class" versions of Professor X, young Magneto, Beast and Mystique. The rest of the gang is essentially relegated to cameo status.

Hugh Jackman's Wolverine is a blast here: Lots of funny bits, lots of action. The story sends him backward through time, to the early 1970s, so we get some funny period touches, too. James McEvoy is also very strong as the young Xavier - less stoic, more rebellious and lively than his older self. 

The big lost opportunity, however, is Jennifer Lawrence as Mystigue. She has plenty of shape-shifting action scenes, but not nearly enough quiet time. We can't fully appreciate and sympathize with the actions she takes to lash out at humankind on behalf of persecuted humans. As one of our best young actresses, Lawrence is more than capable of bringing some real "humanity" to this blue-skinned mutant, but the screenwriters never give her a chance.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Hear the BBC's "Carol Kaye Story" this week!

Well worth a listen:
As part of BBC Radio 2's guitar season, Johnnie Walker travels to Los Angeles to meet legendary session guitar player Carol Kaye. Johnnie hears her incredible story which has seen her partake in over 10,000 recording sessions throughout the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, first on guitar and then on bass.
We will get a behind the scenes glimpse into the recordings of some of the biggest hits of all time. Carol will tell her story of the early hits with Sam Cooke, the years spent working with Phil Spector and the intense recording schedule of the Beach Boys album Pet Sounds.
We will hear how she became renowned for her creative flair and invention of memorable bass lines to hits like Glen Campbell's Wichita Lineman and Sonny and Cher's Beat Goes On. Away from the charts, Carol tells us how she also recorded for Film and Television, on themes for Mission Impossible, Kojak and Ironside.
This programme celebrates Carol Kaye's story and the influence her playing has had on the way we hear the bass guitar in popular music to this day.

Today's Best Picture Ever: Leonard Nimoy!

New comics June 4, 2014: Nexus, Nova!

Collected editions of note. Click the links to order discounted items from Amazon.

Nexus Omnibus Volume 5

Nova Classic Volume 3

Monday, June 02, 2014

They Made This: Mr. Potato Head Hulk

Video: Teen Titans take marionette form in new ep!

Here's a fun teaser for this week's episode of "Teen Titans Go!"

Want to be a Bruce? Charity auction offers winner the chance to appear on stage with Monty Python

Many of us know entire Monty Python sketches by hear. Here's a chance to put that skill to more than trivial use -- if you have lots of money.

As part of their upcoming reunion shows in London, the Python's are auctioning off a chance to appear with the troupe during their "Bruces" skit. Proceeds from the auction benefit charity. Here's a video with all the info:

Today's Best Picture Ever: Brian Jones!

Music new releases June 3, 2014: Led Zeppelin; Bob Mould; Echo and the Bunnymen; Camper Van Beethoven; Paul Weller, more!

Click the links to order discounted CDs, vinyl or downloads from Amazon.

Led Zeppelin I (Deluxe CD Edition)

Led Zeppelin II (Deluxe CD Edition)

Led Zeppelin III (Deluxe CD Edition)

Common Ground: Dave Alvin & Phil Alvin Play and Sing the Songs of Big Bill Broonzy

Beauty & Ruin by Bob Mould

Meteorites by Echo and the Bunnymen

X-Men: Days of Future Past (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

El Camino Real by Camper Van Beethoven

More Modern Classics by Paul Weller

The Complete Atlantic Singles Plus by the Sweet Inspirations