Saturday, July 28, 2012

57 Channels and Only This Is On - 7/28/12

Quote of the Week: Wait, why am I asking you? You wear forks for earrings. (Ella; Pretty Little Liars)

Song of the Week: Istanbul – They Might Be Giants (Bunheads)

Scene of the Week:

Big News of the Week: A Melancholy Trails to Sherman Hemsley: It is hard to think my childhood would have been as funny without Sherman Hensley who passed away earlier this week. The Jeffersons was one of my early television memories. As soon as that show ended, Sherman quickly to Amen. Really only Hemsley could star in a sitcom about a church and make it funny. After that he was resigned to cameos and a stint on The Surreal Life, but in his prime, there were fewer funnier people on television.

Preview Picture of the Week:

Perception, Monday at 10:00 on TNT

Falling Skies: Poor creepy teacher from The Killing, you keep on getting tortured in new and violent ways. I was surprised they killed Lourdes’s boyfriend so violently in from of her so early in their relationship. Hopefully she snaps out of it because her emo sulking got annoying real soon. But then again Hal did not take very long to move on for Karen so maybe there is hope. But I am still unclear why the unharnessed Karen turned on her race. That needed to be better explained.
You can download Falling Skies on iTunes.

Bunheads: It am trying to figure out if Mindy Riggins is the best part of the show or the worst. But what was up with the creepy non sequitur dance sequence at the end. It seemed like they got done with th editing before realizing all the fast dialogue left them with three extra minutes to fill so someone suggested they fill it up with random dancing to They Might Be Giants.
You can stream recent episodes on Hulu. You can also download Bunheads on iTunes.

Pretty Little Liars: The very first theory I ever had about the show was that Allison was alive. Then they went and found her body. But after three seasons I have steadfastly held onto the outside hope that maybe it was an Elvis situation where an evil twin was buried in the grave. Or would that be a good twin in the case of Allison? Seeing her outside Hannah’s window is the first time they alluded that I may actually be right which also helps my theory that Allison is the head of the “A” Team. Or maybe it was the new CeCe girl all along. But God bless Hannah. Last week her big plan to catch “A” in the act backfired miserably, so bad she became the lead suspect in Ally’s murder. Then the weakest link in the dumbest braintrust on television decided she was going to break into a mental institution. Awesome. How that came off without a hitch is befuddling though.
You can stream recent episodes on Hulu. You can also download Pretty Little Liars on iTunes.

Dallas: In a very little shocking plot twist, Rebecca’s brother is not really her brother, putting the paternity of the twin in question. Sure the DNA test says Christopher, but this is a soap opera, so that could be easily changed.
You can download Dallas on iTunes.

Free Download of the Week: Bottom of the River - Delta Rae (; email required): I may just have a new favorite new band, give this band a try, it is as if The Civil Wars joined Mumford & Sons.

Deal of the Week: For Those About to Rock for only $2.99: Get some great rock albums for a low price including those from Metallica, Pantera, Social Distortyion and ZZ Top:

New Album Release of the Week: The Soul Sessions, Vol. 2 - Joss Stone

New DVD Release of the Week: LOL

Video of the Week: In a story I broke earlier this week, the Man of Steel trailer hit the internets and it is, um, rugged.

Next Week Pick of the Week: Olympics, All Week, NBC, CNBC, MSNBC, and NBC Sports: Seriously, this is all I am going to watch all week.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Around the Tubes - 7/27/12

I have gotten a plethora of cool press releases have been flooding my inbox recently that you may find interesting. This post will include blurbs on new NBC shows, Grimm, About Face: Supermodels Then and Now , American Colony: Meet the Hutterites, School Spirits, The New Yorker, American Pickers, Kevin Nealon: Whelmed… But Not Overly,The Real Story, Dracula, Selena Gomez, and folk festivals.

You will not have to wait until their official premiere dates to watch the new series on NBC this fall. They will all be airing early on, your cable on Demand channel, iTunes and the like. Here are the dates you can start watching them: THE NEW NORMAL (August 29), GO ON (August 9), GUYS WITH KIDS (September 13), REVOLUTION (September 4), ANIMAL PRACTICE (August 13), and CHICAGO FIRE (September 27).

- If you need to catch up on NBC’s new offering from last season Grimm, it is out on Blu-Ray and DVD August 7. While you wait, check out the clip below:

- The latest installment in the HBO Summer Documentary Series is About Face: Supermodels Then and Now! The film explores the lives and careers of legendary models, highlighting the complex relationship between physical appearance and the business of beauty. Check out the trailer below and tune in Monday at 9:00 to watch it:

- The season finale of American Colony: Meet the Hutterites airs Tuesday at 10:00 and check out a preview here: College for Claudia.

- Tune in this Wednesday at 10:00 for the season finale of School Spirits. Check out a preview below:

- I this week’s issue of The New Yorker, Emily Nussbaum takes a look at cliffhangers throughout television history and how they were influenced by classic literature.

- There will be a three hour marathon of American Pickers starting at 8:00 tonight on History where Danielle will take you through her favorite picks from the show.

- Be prepared to be Whelmed when Kevin Nealon’s new comedy special Whelmed… But Not Overly premieres August 4 at 10:30.

- The fourth season of The Real Story returns to the Smithsonian Channel this Sunday at 9:00. First up is the real story behind Saving Private Ryan with future episode focusing on True Grit, Apollo 13, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Braveheart, and Master and Commander.

- Apparently NBC did not get the memo that vampires are so last decade (the 10’s are all about zombies), but they are going ahead with a Dracula series starring that dude from The Tudors. No word on when the ten episode season will hit the network.

- Selena Gomez has recently teamed up with Case-Mate for their “Right Case, Right Occasion” marketing campaign set to begin September.

- There are a couple of folk festivals popping up around the country over the next two months, here are four of them:

Edmonton Folk Music Festival (August 9th – 12th) – Known as one of the leading folk festivals in the world since the 1980’s, the Edmonton Folk Music Festival, taking place at Gallagher Park, has a lineup of some of the best folk musicians in the industry. With 80,000 people in attendance over a 4 day period, this festival strives to minimize their carbon footprint by instating special green programs. US performers include: Mary Chapin Carpenter, Bonnie Raitt, Emmylou Harris, Mavis Staple and many others. For more information, please visit:

Cambridge Folk Festival (July 26th – 29th) - One of the premier music events in Europe and the longest running folk festival in the world (started in 1964), the Cambridge Folk Festival attracts more than 10,000 people, many of who return year after year. For people looking to widen their definition of folk music, this is the concert to attend. An intimate stage at the festival, The Den, has dedicated 15 minute slots for up and coming performers to show off their talents. For more information, please visit:

Newport Folk Festival (July 28th – 29th) – Started in 1959, this festival is known for introducing a number of performers who have become major stars including Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash and Joan Baez. Taking place at Fort Adams in Newport, RI, the festival works to preserve the legacy of the Folk Festival through continuing the traditions of music education and collaboration. Musicians taking one four stages over the weekend include Wilco, My Morning Jacket, Deer Tick and Iron & Wine. For more information, please visit:

Shrewsbury Folk Festival (August 24th – 27th) – Bringing together the finest acts from the UK and the around the world, this festival works to create an atmosphere the highlights both new and established performers. Besides music, concertgoers will enjoy loads of additional entertainment including workshops, a craft fair, open mic area and a children’s program with a folk band, craft tent, storytelling and theatre performances. For more information, please

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Ten Most Anticipated Movies of 2012-13

It is weird to talk about movies these days especially about Batman considering the massacre in Colorado. My heart goes out to anyone who was affected by the shooting. I actually planned to run this for a while and wanted it to coincide with The Dark Knight Rises hitting theaters because it had been on top of my most anticipated list since it was announced. So now that it is out, I need to figure out a new number one. So here are the movies I am looking forward to over the next year.

10. The Is 40 (December 21): I did not find the first trailer particularly funny, but Judd Apatow has yet to make a completely unwatchable movie so hopefully the promo monkeys are to blame and the movie will be as good as the rest of his resume.

9. Iron Man 3 (May 4): I was apparently one of the few people who enjoyed the second installment and am excited a Ben Kingsley enhanced third film even if I am more of a DC guy.

8. Man of Steel (June 14): Another teaser I am not much of a fan of. Couldn’t we at least get a glimpse of Amy Adams as Lois Lane? And I am not sure if I need a Superman movie the in the tone of Christopher Nolan’s Batman. Did they not learn from the moody Bryan Singer version that led to a quick reboot? But I am a DC guy, so I hope this succeeds so we can finally get a Justice League movie, even if that means a new Batman so soon.

7. Oz The Great and Powerful (March 8): Sure this may lead to a crappy The Wizard of Oz reboot, but I am really interested in what Sam Raimi can do with this world.

8. Django Unchained (December 25): Is it wrong that I kind of hope Quentin Tarantino worked in the line, “Where all the white women at?” somewhere into this movie?

5. The Hobbit (December 14): Peter Jackson and J. R. R. Tolkien. What could possibly go wrong.

4. The Evil Dead (April 12): This should be on my list of Movies You Cannot Pay Me to Watch because I hold the original trilogy in such high regard. And who could you possibly get to replace Bruce Campbell’s chin? The answer turned out to be the chick from Suburgatory. Since both Campbell and Sam Raimi are involved hopefully this will be the one remake that does not suck massively.

3. The Watch (July 27): Another movie with an unfortunate history. It was originally called Neighborhood Watch but quickly shortened it after the Travon Martin murder. But this movie is less about vigilante suburbanites and more about aliens. Sure I may be a bit optimistic considering the spotty track record of Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn of late, but at least the trailer looks extremely funny.

2. The Man with the Iron Fists (November 2): If there was one thing I have learned in my life is that you never, under any circumstance, trust a big butt and a smile. If there was a second thing I have learned, Wu-Tang Can ain’t nuthin’ to frack with. For those who do not know why, just check out RZA in this film.

1. Gangsta Squad (September 7): Another movie affected by the massacre in Colorado, the trailer, which was originally attached to The Dark Knight Rises, actually featured a theater being shot up. Now the trailer has been pulled and it looks like the scene will also hit the cutting room floor even though it was integral to the plot, so there are going to be reshoots and presumable the release date is no in questions. Scandals aside, after watching Crazy Stupid Love, I fully endorse any movie that features both Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Turn the Record Over, I'll See You on the Flip Side

Handwritten - The Gaslight Anthem

A reoccurring conversation my generation have these days is how the music of today does not mean anything. Everything these days seem to be either scantily clad girls taking about how slutty they are, rapper talking about how rich they are, whiny bands complain about… who knows what. Excuse my grandpa moment, but back in my day, Pearl Jam meant something. Counting Crows talked to me. Public Enemy were important. It has been awhile since I have heard anyone who sounds important. Sure this could just be a generational thing much like our parents complains about how no one makes music like The Beatles anymore, plays like Eric Clapton, or sings like Marvin Gaye.

But then I heard The Gaslight Anthem with every song sounding more important than the last. Seriously, how can you not get excited about lyrics like, “Give me the fevers that just won’t break and give me the children you don’t want to raise. And tell be about the cool he sings to you in those songs if it’s better than my love.” “You ain’t supposed to die on a Saturday night.” When they sing about having her name tattooed inside his arm, you want to head down to your local parlor. He may sing “Cool is dead go baby go on asleep,” cool may have been dead, but The Gaslight Anthem may just resurrect it.

If all is right with the world, The Gaslight Anthem will finally have some breakout success with the release of the first major label release Handwritten. And let’s face it; the world is in some dire need of great rock and roll music. Right now there is The Black Keys and that is it. And for those ready to rock, Handwritten is full of enough Aye’s, Whoa’s, Sha-la-la’s, Eh-hey’s, and Oh-oh-oh’s to get your fist pumping.

As the title track suggests, these songs have traveled from heart to limb to pen. The opening track "45" is a hard driving rumination of the ending relationship comparing it to turning a record over to something new. And the album does not let up from their with guitar riffs coming fast and aggressive. They may be on a major label now and are in the studio with uber-producer Brendan O’Brien (Rage Against the Machine), but these Jersey boys are still wearing their Bruce Springsteen and The Replacements influences on their sleeve.

Even though it does not take away from songs on this album, The Gaslight Anthem should be wary of becoming a parody of the heart on their sleeve lyrics in the future like Coldplay became a self-parody on their third album. They did come close of this album with lines like, “I’d just die if you ever took your love away,” and, “What’s left for you to take if I put too much blood on the page?” Actually some of the best songs on Handwritten are on the rare songs from the band that make you put your fists down and raise your lighters up like on the final two songs Mae where they “wait for kingdom come with the radio on” and the beautifully simple National Anthem. If these two songs are a hint of where they may go next I cannot wait to hear it.

Song to Download – "45"

Handwritten gets a Terror Alert Level: High [ORANGE] on my Terror Alert Scale.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

One Necessary Evil Leads to Another until One Day You Can’t Differentiate Between What’s Necessary and What’s Merely Expedient

Boss on Blu-Ray from Starz

Who would have guessed that a show that starts off with a character getting a very detailed diagnosis of a rare disease (it is kind of like Alzheimer’s crossed with Parkinson’s but not really either) would end up being the antagonist of the show. But there is Kelsey Grammer (X-Men: The Last Stand) at the start of Boss sitting in an abandoned warehouse getting his death sentence. Why an abandoned warehouse? Oh yeah, he is the mayor of Chicago and naturally would not want to be seen coming out of a doctor’s office, let alone a neurologist because it would be a sign of weakness.

Really the sickness could not have happened to a better person. Everything we fear that is happening behind closed doors, Grammer is doing: manipulating voting and voters, endangering constituents for personal and political gain, create fake scandals to hide his own, throwing anyone and everyone under the bus to save his political career, shutting down government instead of comprising, and pulling out every dirty trick in the book. And to make things worse, it looks like what little conscience he had left is slipping away as he holds onto his power as his mind slips away with his illness.

If there is one shred of humanity gained by Kelsey after his diagnosis is that he tries to reconnect with his only daughter Hanna Ware (Cop Out) after shunning her for years because of her drug use. Naturally their reconciliation is tense at first and culminates with the second biggest jaw dropping moment of the season so shocking I had to rewind a couple times to make sure I saw what I just saw. For all intents and purposes, the mayor is also estranged from his wife, but since Connie Nielsen (The Ice Harvest) also comes from a political family, she still puts on the mayor’s wife in public but stays clear of him in private.

As for the biggest jaw dropping moment of the season, that comes when Grammer sits down with his advisor Martin Donovan (Weeds) in the final episode of season. Really whenever these two do down to chew the fat it pretty awesome, but their final powwow of the season is particularly epic (for those that have seen the series and wonder what that final discussion meant, in the audio commentary, the creator says that you will know what exactly happened at the start of the second season).

Despite being a political show, it does not really make any political statement like The West Wing (or any Aaron Sorkin show). We never even learn the party affiliation of anyone on the show (although being Chicago, it I easy to assume everyone we see is a Democrat), there is no debate on health care, gun, abortions, or Michelle Bachman’s sanity. Really the only time they get into a hot button political subject is the handsome candidate for governor that Grammer is grooming who is quick to say the right thing to voters and even quicker to spot a female with a short skirt, which is a one of the few missteps the show takes when it veers to close to John Edwards (or any other philandering politician). Really I was more interested in his wife who steps out from the shadows later in the season (and I assume will have a bigger role next season as she is on the poster).

One other valid complaint and something I really hate on television shows are all the “dream sequences.” But since hallucinations are a side effect of the drugs he is on they are also necessary, especially because it is seems as though we are witnessing the whole show through his eyes. This means we get some shaky camera use and close ups so gratuitous and long it becomes claustrophobic as a viewer. Of course you should expect some weird things, even in a political show, when Gus Van Sant (Even Cowgirls Get the Blues) is the executive producer and directed the series premiere.

The special features on the Blu-ray are a little thin (the press release feature the same things although there are only two blu-ray dicks compared to three DVD’s), there is a featurette “The Mayor and His Maker” which features about a twenty minute discussion between Kelsey Grammer and creator Farhad Safinia. There is also an audio commentary with Safinia and director of photography for the premiere and Farhad is then joined by executive producer Richard Levine for the finale. With only eight episodes, it should be easy to catch up before the second season starts August 17. Although if you do not have Starz, it should be really easy to catch up by the time the second season is released on Blu-Ray and DVD is about a year. And for those that do not like the clutter of disks lying around, the series will also be available by digital download including iTunes starting today.

Full Disclosure Notice: This blu-ray was given to me by Bender / Helper Impact for the purpose of reviewing it.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Musings from the Back 9: AARP Edition

Whenever asked the eternal question: The Beatles or The Stones? My answer is always, “Snitch please; The Beach Boys are much better than those hacks.” They made the catchiest pop music of all time with their surf infused harmonies before going on to make more profound music. Then mastermind Brian Wilson retired from touring and later dropped out of the band, not to be seen or heard from until he finally dusted of the abandoned Smile album and even managed to tour behind it. And just in time for their fiftieth anniversary, Brian reunited with his cousin Mike Love for a reunion album and tour.

Did we really need a new Beach Boys album? Probably not, but the group recently released That's Why God Made the Radio and it pretty much sounds what you would expect a Beach Boys album would sound like five decades later. Where their early records celebrated the exuberance on teenage youth, surfing and chasing girls on the beach, the new collection of songs is a mellow look at retirement with your toes in the sand and maybe a grandkid or two running around. None of the new songs are as catchy as their early hit singles (or even as catchy as Kokomo) or as profound as anything on Pet Sounds but the harmonies are still tight, the songs will put a smile on your face, and will probably get massive rotation in retirement home. That is if grandpa can figure out how to download it from iTunes, get it on his iPod, and then get it to play on the docking player you bought him for Christmas.

That’s Why God Made the Radio gets a Terror Alert Level: Elevated [YELLOW] on my Terror Alert Scale.

If we were playing the old Remote Control segment Dead or Alive and Bobby Womack came up I may have actually had guessed “dead.” Even after he showed up on the Gorillaz song a couple years ago I may have just assumed that it was vocals from a track I was unfamiliar with. But as it turns out Womack is very much alive and released his latest album in over a decade. Gorillaz’s mastermind Damon Albarn produced The Bravest Man in the Universe and brought his electro-beats that he used for his own band. Unfortunately sometime this distracts from Womack’s voice which has aged into a creepy haggered sound that does not need all the bells and whistles behind it Albarn adds. Even more distracting is the appearance from Lana Del Rey (presumably recorded in the month and a half between when she went from internet phenomenon to laugh stock) who’s voice does not mix with Womack’s at. The album is at its best when the studio magic is pulled back and it is just Womack and a solitary instrument like the acoustic guitar on Deep River. Love Is Gonna Lift You Up is the only overproduced on the album that did no made me wish I could hear an acoustic version of it. It is not hard to wonder how much better the album would have sounded if Rick Ruban had produced the comeback instead of Albarn.

The Bravest Man in the Universe gets a Terror Alert Level: Elevated [YELLOW] on my Terror Alert Scale.

When you hear that Neil Young is singing kindergarten anthems like Clementine and This Land Is Your Land, you would probably think it is some lame sketch concocted by Jimmy Fallon. Nope, Americana is Neil Young singing these songs and other big among the Cub Scout set but adding some of the original darker verses routinely dropped out when sung by the youth. Much like the older Beach Boys album, Americana sound just like you would expect Neil Young singing campfire ditties with Crazy Horse (their first new album together in almost a decade) backing him up would sound. The sing-a-long choruses are there in-between fuzzed out guitar solos, some veering dangerously close to sounding like a Fallon parody. As weird as it sounds on paper, it probably does not even raking in Young’s top five weirdest albums. Do not fret Crazy Horse fans, after this album, Neil continued to work with them on new material they are writing.

Americana gets a Terror Alert Level: Guarded [BLUE] on my Terror Alert Scale.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

I Want My Music Television - 7/22/12

There have been a couple of videos that have caught my eye lately so I thought I’d give them some love since the death of Musical Television left a void for a forum on the art form. If you are interested in buying the video through iTunes, click the title link (where available). If you are interested in buying the song, look for a link in the analysis.

Handwritten – The Gaslight Anthem

Wow, The Gaslight Anthem put out a video that is not tattooed dudes sing heart on their sleeve music and this has a coherent storyline (or as coherent as music video get). But it is really just another reason to get excited for their album release this week. Look for a review sometime soon.

Freedom At 21 - Jack White

Hype Williams directed the latest Jack White music video. Seriously. And it is as weird and stylist as you would actually expect.

The Wind - Zac Brown Band

And if that is not a weird enough combination for you, Mike Judge directed the latest Zac Brown Band music video. But I guess Zac Brown Band would not have been out of place on King of the Hill. Granted robotic Zac Brown would have been.

I Shall Not Be Moved – Public Enemy

And who would have guessed Woody Allen directed the new Public Enemy video? (Okay, that one did not really happen… yet). It is amazing they are still putting out music that is still pretty good though I find it odd that Chuck D put Basketball Wives on blast considering his partner shilled for VH1 for most of last decade. But I guess somebody needed to put the Basketball Wives (none of which are actually married to basketball players) on blast.