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May 3, 2004

Brilliant

My 2˘ worth: you won't find better political commentary than Tom Tomorrow's weekly offering, This Modern World, which can be read online here. It's topical, scathing, and extraordinarily witty. New cartoons appear each Monday on the Salon.com web site.

May 4, 2004

Inspired amateur disc jockeys, rejoice!

Apple's recent iTunes upgrade (version 4.5) has the nifty feature of being able to "publish" your favorite music playlists for other users to peruse. Click here for details. The caveat is that the songs on your playlist have to be drawn from the iTunes Music Store catalogue, but with over 700,000 downloadable choices, assembling that perfect iMix can't be too hard.

June 26, 2004

Dylan says it all

The 1963 song "Masters of War" by Bob Dylan just popped up on random shuffle on iTunes. It's eerily fitting for the events of 2004!

July 6, 2004

Pot Pourri

In an effort to catch up on my lapsed blogging, what follows is an assortment of quick takes on a variety of topical subjects.

John Edwards: Kerry made what was probably the safest choice for a vice-presidential nominee, but one that I think ultimately will help him in November. Yes, the pollsters will tell us that Edwards may not move any of the swing states into the Kerry column--not even North Carolina, probably--but he represents an articulate, charismatic presence on the ticket that could be reassuring to swing voters in various demographic categories that will be crucial in what should prove to be a close general election. The Tar Heel senator has a fascinating life story, coming from humble origins and facing genuine adversity along the way. Of course the GOP immediately attacked Edwards this morning as lacking the experience for the vice-presidency, what with only six years in the United States Senate. This is laughable, given that the man at the head of the Republican ticket boasted exactly six years experience as governor in a state in which that office held little real political power. Moreover, Bush was more or less a failure at everything he attempted in his life before his political career, in spite of all the advantages conferred by Poppy and his friends. In contrast, Edwards was a self-made millionaire who fought corporate wrong-doing and then distinguished himself in Congress by co-sponsoring sweeping reforms such as the Patients' Bill of Rights.

John McEnroe's talk show: Tomorrow night CNBC debuts a new talk show featuring former "Super-Brat" John McEnroe. As an adolescent tennis fan, I always rooted for Mac's greatest rivals: Bjorn Borg and Jimmy Connors. (Though I never warmed up to Ivan Lendl, so McEnroe occasionally enjoyed my support!) I must admit that I've come around on McEnroe over the years. Maybe he's mellowed; maybe I have. When he started as an announcer on tennis telecasts I found him occasionally amusing but fairly undisciplined as an analyst. Nowadays he's refreshingly insightful, more open-minded (while still refreshingly honest and opinionated), and is capable of substantial slef-deprecating humor. So I am looking forward to seeing what he'll bring to the table as a talk show host. Mac seems to have become something of a polymath, with genuine interests in art, music, politics, sports, etc. He can do no worse in this new role than Dennis Miller, whose show is in the adjoining slot on the cable network; Miller is someone I used to enjoy immensely before his gradual transformation into a right-wing crank (which corresponded fairly precisely with his becoming more or less unfunny).

Spider-Man 2: This film deserves the box office success it has enjoyed the past week. It won't change the world and it not quite perfect, but it's a pretty spiffy summer popcorn flick. Have fun with this one.

Farenheit 9/11: On the other hand, this movie--also a relative box office champ--might, in fact, change the world. Michael Moore's documentary skewers "W" and company pretty effectively. For the most part Moore avoids the heavy-handedness that made me feel sorry for Charlton Heston in Bowling For Columbine. That's not to say there is no point of view here; quite the opposite, the director has conceded. He wears his politics on his sleeve and is unabashed about presenting his opinions on the Bush Administration, the war on terror, the Patriot Act, and the current Iraq misadventure. But for the most part, Moore himself maintains a lower profile in this picture, instead letting the objects of his derision condemn themselves on camera.

Wimbledon 2004: In spite of the seemingly endless rain (that kept me from getting out to the All-England Club while in London during the opening days of the fortnight) this was one of the best Wimbledons in recent memory. Finals weekend was particularly satisfying, with the coming of age of the charming and talented Maria Sharapova in the ladies' championship and the enjoyable and highly competitive Federer/Roddick tilt on Sunday. The sport needs a few more majors with the excitement we saw in SW19 the past two weeks.

Sting in concert: I caught the former Police front man in an outdoor show at Jones Beach last week. He was in exceptionally good voice, sharing the bill with Annie Lennox. I knew it would be a good show when the second song played was one of my Police faves, "Synchronicity II."

Whither Euro 2004? While I was ambling around Paris, Scotland, Ireland, and London in June, I could not escape the football frenzy surrounding the European Cup soccer championship. Every day, there was wall-to-wall coverage in the newspapers and on television. Upon returning to the States, I was struck that highlights of the tournament merited hardly a mention in our papers.

July 12, 2004

TV soundtracks

Lately I have been listening to an iTunes playlist of music from the first season of Alias. It's a great mix of tunes; check it out here.

In the nostalgia category, the short-lived Freaks and Geeks show has an awesome mix of songs from when I was in high school.

July 14, 2004

It's come to this . . .

Apparently I am in this month's Teen Vogue magazine. For real. I wouldn't make this up. (Well, actually I might, but I am not in this case.) I haven't seen the issue myself, but I've heard about it.

July 17, 2004

Respeck

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The funniest man on television returns to HBO tomorrow, Sunday, at 10:30 p.m.

I saw the ads for the Brit comedian's season on HBO when it first aired but was not impressed enough to tune in. Big mistake. In the winter my friend Julie Goodyear loaned me a DVD of Ali's six U.S. episodes; it took me a couple months to finally drop the disc in the player, but after fifteen minutes of trying to figure out what was going on, I was HOWLING with laughter and wishing it wouldn't end.

Don't miss it. Booyakasha!

July 30, 2004

Music At The Convention

I was struck by the power of Springsteen's "No Surrender" before Kerry's speech last night and then U2's "Beautiful Day" immediately afterward. There's a good piece on the use of pop songs at the Democratic Convention this past week here.

July 31, 2004

Very Funny

Jon Stewart and his ensemble have been bloody brilliant in their take on the Boston sonvention scene this past week. No cows are sacred. Just damned funny stuff. I hope they are equally on form in New York in a month's time, too.

August 1, 2004

Surowiecki's New Book

NPR's Weekend Edition program ran a great feature yesterday on Jim Surowiecki's new book, The Wisdom Of The Crowd. Jim is a Choate alum and one-time colleague in the History Department. He currently is the business writer for The New Yorker. His book has gotten great reviews. Click here to listen to the story.

August 4, 2004

Behind The Scenes At The Ranch

Check this out if you want to watch Will Ferrell as "W" on the set of his most recent campaign commercial. This parody was assembled by America Coming Together.

August 5, 2004

The Boss Speaks

Check out this piece in the Op-Ed section of today's New York Times:

Chords for Change

by Bruce Springsteen

A nation's artists and musicians have a particular place in its social and political life. Over the years I've tried to think long and hard about what it means to be American: about the distinctive identity and position we have in the world, and how that position is best carried. I've tried to write songs that speak to our pride and criticize our failures.

These questions are at the heart of this election: who we are, what we stand for, why we fight. Personally, for the last 25 years I have always stayed one step away from partisan politics. Instead, I have been partisan about a set of ideals: economic justice, civil rights, a humane foreign policy, freedom and a decent life for all of our citizens. This year, however, for many of us the stakes have risen too high to sit this election out.

Through my work, I've always tried to ask hard questions. Why is it that the wealthiest nation in the world finds it so hard to keep its promise and faith with its weakest citizens? Why do we continue to find it so difficult to see beyond the veil of race? How do we conduct ourselves during difficult times without killing the things we hold dear? Why does the fulfillment of our promise as a people always seem to be just within grasp yet forever out of reach?

I don't think John Kerry and John Edwards have all the answers. I do believe they are sincerely interested in asking the right questions and working their way toward honest solutions. They understand that we need an administration that places a priority on fairness, curiosity, openness, humility, concern for all America's citizens, courage and faith.

People have different notions of these values, and they live them out in different ways. I've tried to sing about some of them in my songs. But I have my own ideas about what they mean, too. That is why I plan to join with many fellow artists, including the Dave Matthews Band, Pearl Jam, R.E.M., the Dixie Chicks, Jurassic 5, James Taylor and Jackson Browne, in touring the country this October. We will be performing under the umbrella of a new group called Vote for Change. Our goal is to change the direction of the government and change the current administration come November.

Like many others, in the aftermath of 9/11, I felt the country's unity. I don't remember anything quite like it. I supported the decision to enter Afghanistan and I hoped that the seriousness of the times would bring forth strength, humility and wisdom in our leaders. Instead, we dived headlong into an unnecessary war in Iraq, offering up the lives of our young men and women under circumstances that are now discredited. We ran record deficits, while simultaneously cutting and squeezing services like afterschool programs. We granted tax cuts to the richest 1 percent (corporate bigwigs, well-to-do guitar players), increasing the division of wealth that threatens to destroy our social contract with one another and render mute the promise of "one nation indivisible."

It is through the truthful exercising of the best of human qualities - respect for others, honesty about ourselves, faith in our ideals - that we come to life in God's eyes. It is how our soul, as a nation and as individuals, is revealed. Our American government has strayed too far from American values. It is time to move forward. The country we carry in our hearts is waiting.

Well said.

August 14, 2004

I Love This T-Shirt

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This is pretty clever. I saw it on a guy in the mall about a month ago. You can order the above logo on a T-shirt of your very own by clicking here.

October 27, 2004

Film Villain Of The Year

This is too rich! From the AP wire:

Readers of a British magazine have rated President Bush the year's top screen villain, for his appearance in Michael Moore's documentary Fahrenheit 9/11.

Readers voted Bush top film villain over those from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Lord of the Rings, Spider-Man 2, and Kill Bill: Vol. 2.

[snip]

Almost 10,000 people voted in the poll, conducted by Total Film magazine. Results were announced Wednesday.

October 28, 2004

Looking Forward To November . . .

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October 29, 2004

Thou Shalt Not Covet . . .

Pretty hard to not be drooling for one of these U2 Special Edition iPods!

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November 4, 2004

May The Force Be With You

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The new teaser trailer for Episode III: The Revenge Of The Sith is on the Internet (at least for AOL members). Looks pretty cool.

November 7, 2004

Thumbs Up

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Go see The Incredibles. Pixar does it again!

November 8, 2004

A Sneak Peek

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As I write these words, I am enjoying an advance preview of the forthcoming U2 album, How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb. This is good stuff--on a par with 2001's All That You Can't Leave Behind.

November 20, 2004

Programming Alert

Heads up: U2 is scheduled to perform on Saturday Night Live tonight.

December 22, 2004

Still Rock'n'Roll To Me

My family spent the day in New York City, taking in the matinee performance of Movin' Out, the Twyla Tharp dance performance based on the music of Billy Joel. Since I grew up on Long Island, Billy Joel was to me what Bruce Springsteen was to people in New Jersey: a hometown boy who hit it big. So I knew the music of this production pretty well. One of my cousins has been a member of the company since the show premiered, so we got to have dinner with her after the show. An enjoyable outing in the Big Apple!

December 25, 2004

Best TV Shows Of 2004

Here, for your consideration is my first Top 10 list of the season. First up: the best in television in the past calendar year. I've limited myself to regularly scheduled programs (no specials, sporting events, wardrobe malfunctions, or presidential debates--"He forgot Poland!")

10. The Simpsons. Because more than fifteen years into its run, the show is still capable of moments of brilliance, even if it is not as consistent as it once was. Moreover, it retains its delightfully subversive sensibility. As in the past, it’s the wonderfully detailed second- and third-tier characters that keep this half hour ticking.

9. Curb Your Enthusiasm, which we need to see a lot more of. It's more or less an HBO version of Seinfeld focusing on George Costanza living in L.A.

8. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. At its peak in this election year. A spot on send-up of the worlds of politics and the media.

7. The West Wing. Despite the continued absence of a sorely missed scripter Aaron Sorkin, the shake-up in the White House staff following Leo’s heart attack, the machinations involved in the forthcoming election to detemine Bartlet's successor, and the president’s recent battles with his multiple sclerosis have returned this program to "Must See TV" status.

6. The O.C. I know, I know: it’s mindless, but a guilty pleasure nonetheless. The snappy dialogue makes up for the tedious soap opera angst.

5. Drawn Together. Little seen show on Comedy Central that features totally warped humor. It’s amazing what they have gotten away with, but I guess the animated format makes it easier for the censors to hold their nose. If The O.C. is a guilty pleasure, then this one's a naughty pleasure.

4. Alias. I was a latecomer to this show, having watched the first three seasons on DVD--which may, in fact, be the best way to watch a serial thriller like this. I'll be watching season four when it returns to the air starting in January.

3. The Sopranos. Hard-hitting season #5 was a welcome return to form. Oh, poor Adriana!

2. Arrested Development. Friggin’ hilarious. Hasn't missed a beat in its second season, either. Best comic plotting since Seinfeld.

1. Lost. Heads and shoulders above the field. Not just the best new show on TV, but the best overall right now. This was a surprise to me. I watched the premiere with some wariness, but by the third episode I was totally hooked. There is no more inventive, suspenseful character-driven show on the air.

Near misses and honorable mentions: the third season of 24; HBO's Entourage; the new season of Smallville--the addition of a young Lois Lane to the cast has made this program a bit more interesting; Saturday Night Live, which always seems to find its voice in an election year (the debate send-ups were clever); Everwood--I gave Jack & Bobby a try, but this is the only "family drama" that I see with any regularlity; and The Office special, which wrapped up this terrific British import both sweetly and snarkily.

December 26, 2004

Best DVDs of 2004

In presenting my picks for the best DVD releases of 2004, I’ve leaned heavily toward multi-disc collections, which appears the direction into which the industry is moving.

10. The Simpsons, Seasons 4 and 5. The golden age of this animated classic. Some of the episodes in these two collections released in 2004 are absolutely delightful.

9. Looney Tunes Golden Collection, Volume 2. A priceless assortment of 60 cartoons restored to their full glory. A worthy successor to the excellent Volume 1.

8. The Office, Seasons 1 and 2 and Special. Bloody brilliant British comedy with a perfect cast. Hilarious.

7. Live Aid. This gem on four discs is a time capsule of pop music in the summer of 1985. The Live Aid double concert in the U.S. and the U.K. was equivalent of Woodstock for the MTV generation. I missed seeing the original broadcast, as I was far from a television set, immersed in my first teaching job on the campus of St. Paul's School in New Hampshire, but later that summer I wore through a VCR cassette of the action in Wembley and Philadelphia. The clear highlight for me: U2’s breakthrough performance.

6. Da Ali G Show: The Complete First Season. I stumbled on this show in the late spring almost by accident. A friend had loaned me a bootleg copy of the first season shows on HBO before the disc had been commercially released. It sat next to my TV for a couple of months before I started to feel guilty I hadn't given it back to her. So I popped it in the DVD player on a quiet weekend night while on duty in the dorm. After fifteen minutes in which I was trying to figure out what this was all about, the laughs came: fall out of the chair, gasping for air, deep belly laughs. At their best moments, Sasha Baron Cohen’s characters--Ali G, Borat, and Bruno--made me laugh as hard as I've ever laughed.

5. Alias, Seasons 1, 2, and 3. This is a bit of a cheat to lump all three seasons together as one item on my list, especially as not all were released in 2004. But I watched them all this past year and 2004 is when I got hooked on the series. Season 1 was a February obsession, Season 2 took up more of my spring break than I'd care to admit, and then I got up to date with the release of the third set in September.

4. Seinfeld, Seasons 1 & 2 and Season 3. I went for the collector's set, with the Monk's Café salt and pepper shakers and the annotated script. I usually steer clear of these fancy packages, but I this case it seemed like the cheapest way to get all three season at once from Amazon. I got to watch a slew of Season 3 episodes with some colleagues while we traveled to a school function on a bus and was reminded just how very funny this show was at its peak.

3. Freaks And Geeks: The Complete Series, Deluxe Edition. This package, delivered in a replica of a high school yearbook, wonderfully captures my days as a teenager. The setting of the show lines up nearly perfectly with my era. And the deluxe set has just loads of material. What a terrific soundtrack, too. I missed the show when it originally aired, but it's a treat to see it in this wonderfully complete DVD package.

Tie, 2. Indiana Jones and Star Wars trilogy boxed sets. These offerings from Lucasfilm contain some of my all-time favorite movies plus a bunch of nifty behind-the-scenes extras. They look and sound great. The DVD versions were well worth the wait. But they could have slid into the top slot, had (a) we been offered the original theatrical releases of the Star Wars flicks (we know Greedo did NOT shoot first!); and/or (b) Spielberg had broken down to give us director's commentaries on the Indy movies.

1. Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (Extended Version). The conclusion to Peter Jackson's magnum opus winds up at the top of my list in part because the original film was so well made, but more because Jackson shows the rest of the film industry just how good the DVD format can be in presenting a film. The extended versions of all three LOTR movies reflect tremendous care in their assembly and probably will be regarded as the "definitive" versions of the these films in years to come. When put together, the three extended version packages comprise an epic that spans almost 12 hours of film. And it's all utterly gorgeous. But what makes these collections so exquisite is the sheer volume of extras. The additional materials reflect the same sort of attention to detail that was typical of the movies themselves. An A+ release.

Honorable mentions and near misses: Curb Your Enthusiasm, Seasons 1 and 2, if for nothing else than for the "Beloved Aunt" episode; The West Wing, Seasons 2 and 3: the good old days of Aaron Sorkin dialogue, snappily delivered by one of television’s best ensemble casts; and Spider-Man 2, a movie that was deservedly a box office smash in the summer.

December 29, 2004

Lucky Find

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In middle of the parking lot of my Condado Beach hotel here in San Juan, I found lying on the ground the CD boxed set of the first four U.S. releases. This is something I could never imagine spending money on, as I already have all the music on other discs, but it's sure nice to have drop into my lap!

December 31, 2004

Top Music Releases of 2004

Okay, I admit my pop music tastes have not developed much since 1990, but for better or worse, here's what earned my top ratings for the past calendar year:

7. The acoustic versions of Seal's songs on Best: 1991-2004, especially "Kiss From A Rose."

6. Words & Music: John Mellencamp's Greatest Hits. A great collection of Mellencamp's work over the course of twenty-five years.

5. Five For Fighting, "100 Years." I really like this song.

4. Scissor Sisters, Scissor Sisters. Because I'm a sucker for a group that channels early 1970s Elton John in such a captivating fashion (check out "Take Your Mama"). The strange cover of "Comfortably Numb"--hands down, one of my favorite songs of all time--is beguilingly catchy.

3. Elton John, Peachtree Road. Sir Elton still has a knack for melody and this collection of tracks picks up where Songs From the West Coast left off--a fine assemblage of tunes worthy of comparison to the singer's early 1970s work.

2. The Complete U2. This exclusive iTunes release was significant for me less because of the music it included--I had the majority of the material on CD already, though there were some nice unreleased, rare, and live performance cuts included in the mix--than because of the ground-breaking concept of a digital box set. I can think of a dozen artists for whom I'd part with money to get something similar.

1. U2, How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb. The Irish quartet prove they are still the most important band in the world. 'Nuff said.

Best Movies of the Year

I confess to having seen precious few movies in the theater this year. I've missed many of the picks on critics' best 10 lists, in particular. So the following group consists mostly of popcorn flicks that I enjoyed in 2004; I have not ranked them 1-10, so in no particular order:

Hero. A tremendous visual spectacle. Stunningly gorgeous.

Kill Bill, Volume 2. Far from perfect, but visceral when at its best. The scene of Uma Thurman being buried alive still gives me chills.

Farenheit 9/11. There surely are valid criticisms of Michael Moore's presentation, but but controversy aside, this stands as a fine piece of film-making.

The Passion Of The Christ. There surely are valid criticisms of Mel Gibson's presentation, but controversy aside, this stands as a fine piece of film-making.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Alfonso Cuaron's sure-handed direction raises the bar in the latest installment of this Warner Bros. franchise.

Super Size Me. An effective documentary in the best muck-raking tradition.

Spider-Man 2. This sequel successfully captured the spirit of Stan Lee's Marvel Comics in the 1960s.

The Incredibles. Like Spider-Man 2, this manages to be a lot of fun while making some thoughtful points. Terrific animated film.

Collateral. The best movie I saw this year. Great script, tremendous acting, excellent direction from Michael Mann.

Honorable mention: Sky Captain And The World Of Tomorrow. An underrated movie that does amazing things with digital technology. A throwback to the "B" movies of sixty years ago.

January 5, 2005

Best Night Of Television

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Check it: new episode of Lost, season premiere of Alias, and new episode of The West Wing, plus Drawn Together. That is one tough to beat line-up!

January 8, 2005

Spies Like Us

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Tonight marks the return of MI-5 on the A&E cable channel. This British import--called Spooks on the other side of the pond--is pretty gripping stuff. And with Alias and 24 also returning to the air in the same week, it's the first time we've had spy shows on TV in months.

January 24, 2005

Vertigo Tour Info Posted

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Fresh from the Interet:

NORTH AMERICA DATES AND TICKETING INFORMATION

March 28th San Diego, CA - Sports Arena
April 1st Anaheim, CA - Arrowhead Pond
April 5th Los Angeles, CA - Staples Center
April 9th San Jose, CA - HP Pavilion
April 14th Phoenix, AZ - Glendale Arena
April 20th Denver, CO - Pepsi Center
April 24th Seattle, WA - Key Arena
April 28th Vancouver, BC - General Motors Place
May 7th & May 9th Chicago, IL - United Center
May 14 Philadelphia, PA - Wachovia Center
May 17 & May 18 East Rutherford, NJ - Continental Airlines Arena
May 21 New York, NY - Madison Square Garden
May 24 & May 26 Boston, MA - Fleet Center

Tickets for performances in Boston, Chicago, Denver, Philadelphia and San Diego will go on sale this Saturday, January 29th.

Tickets for performances in Los Angeles, Anaheim and San Jose go on sale this Sunday, January 30th and tickets for New York and East Rutherford go on sale next Monday, January 31st. (All additional on sale dates will be announced in the next few weeks.)

Once again, U2 will offer General Admission floor tickets giving fans the best view in the house for the lowest ticket price. Reserved seat tickets in the stands will also be available. In North America, general admission floor tickets will be $49.50 (plus applicable service fees). Additional ticket prices will vary per market. There will be an 8 ticket limit per person with a maximum purchase of 2 general admission floor tickets.

EUROPEAN DATES AND TICKETING INFORMATION

June 10th Brussels - King Baudouin Stadium
June 12th Gelsenkirchen - Schalke Stadium
June 14th Manchester - City of Manchester Stadium
June 18th London - Twickenham Stadium
June 21st Glasgow - Hampden Park
June 24th Dublin - Croke Park
June 29th Cardiff - Millenium Stadium

2nd July Vienna - Ernst Happel Stadium
5th July Katowice - Slaski Stadium
7th July Berlin - Olympic Stadium
9th July Paris - Stade de France
11th July Zurich – Letzigrund Stadium
13th July Amsterdam – Arena
19th July Milan - San Siro
23rd July Rome - Olympic Stadium
27th July Oslo - Vallehovin Stadium;
29th July Gothenburg - Ullevi Stadium
31st July Copenhagen - Parken

3rd August Munich - Olympic Stadium
5th August Nice - Parc des Sports Charles Ehrmann
7th August Barcelona – Camp Nou
9th August San Sebastian - Anoeta Stadium
11th August Madrid - Estadio Vicente Calderon
14th August Lisbon - Alvalade

Tickets for the UK shows go on sale at 9am Friday, January 28th; tickets for
Brussels go on sale Saturday, January 29th and tickets for Dublin go on sale on Friday 4th February. (All additional on sale dates will be announced in the coming weeks.)

I have pre-sale access tickets to the tour tomorrow and have to decide where to see the band (maybe the end of the leg in Boston?). I may try to score tickets to Glasgow as well!

Gripping Stuff

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The current season of 24 is clearly the best yet. The first six episodes have been increasingly satisfying. Tonight's was probably the best hour of the show so far. Here's hoping they can maintain the pace!

January 25, 2005

May 26, Boston!

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I am heading to the Fleet Center in Boston on May 26 with primo seats for U2!!! The last concert I saw in Boston Garden--the previous incarnation of the Fleet Center--was also U2, on The Joshua Tree tour in the fall of 1987. I am SO psyched for this. It will be the last show of this leg of their tour. (I may try to get more tickets for a New York show when they add dates, as they inevitably will after the initial round of sell-outs.)

I well remember twenty years ago--January of 1985--spending a very cold night on the streets of Worcester, Massachusetts outside the Centrum, waiting to get tickets for a show on U2's Unforgettable Fire tour later that spring. A few of us in college made an adventure out of it back then. It was a pleasant contrast to roll out of bed rather late this morning on this school holiday, sit at my computer a few minutes before 10:00 a.m., press a few buttons and have the tickets sent to me via email. I certainly stayed a lot warmer!

March 15, 2005

Stumbled Across The Episode III Trailer

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I caught the new trailer for the final Star Wars installment last night while checking e-mail on an AOL account (turns out AOL members have exclusive access to the trailer for a while). It looks pretty promising. Hopefully I'll see this trailer again on the silver screen tonight; I am heading out to the movies for the first time in over two months--which surely is a record drought for me since the age of about 12!

The West Wing

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Like the terrific current run of 24, this season's The West Wing is reinvigorated. I just ordered the Season 4 DVD package, but the current episodes featuring Jimmy Smits, Alan Alda, Tim Matheson, and Gary Cole playing characters vying for the White House have provided a much-welcomed breath of fresh air as the Bartlet Administration nears its end. The infusion of new characters and election storylines has enabled the writers to explore virgin territory. Though Aaron Sorkin is still sorely missed--no one nails dialogue like the scribe behind A Few Good Men, The American President, and Sports Night--I am far more interested in this show than I was a year ago.

Apparently the plan is to inaugurate a new president halfway through the 2005-2006 season, assuming the show is renewed, of course. Whether Bartlet's successor will be a Republican (Alda) or a Democrat (Smits, most likely) is yet to be seen. In any case I will miss Martin Sheen's Jed Bartlet.

Importing "The Office"

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Next week NBC will be airing the premiere episode of the American version of the brilliant British show "The Office." Having become a fan of the original, I hope the Peacock doesn't screw this up. Apparently the pilot is a faithful recreation of its counterpart, then the rest of the episodes are new scripts. Check it out here.

March 16, 2005

Computer Animated Flicks

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I checked out Robots last night, the latest in computer-generated animation films. The movie was cute in terms of story and character--appropriate for kids, with enough knowing pop culture references worked in for the benefit of older viewers. What was amazing was the eye candy; the refinement of this sort of animation has continued to develop impressively. The metallic surfaces that dominated the look of the film worked really well when rendered by computer.

April 2, 2005

A Good Show

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The surprise of the television season for me has been the Sci-Fi Channel's resurrection of Battlestar Galactica. I remember the cheesy 1970s version, which was more or less an attempt to cash in on the Star Wars craze. The current incarantion takes the central premise and main characters of the original and gives them a darker, more serious, and more realistic spin. The season-ending cliffhanger aired last night wrapped up a very strong batch of episodes.

April 17, 2005

Digital Delivery For Nine Inch Nails Fans

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Here's a first: Trent Reznor has made available his new single release in GarageBand format, so if you download it, you can manipulate the tracks yourself to create your own mix. Pretty cool. It's here. One cautionary note: you'll need the latest release, GarageBand 2.x (a.k.a. iLife '05), to access the song.

Save This Show

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One of the few truly funny shows on TV right now is Arrested Development, which the critics love but the ratings don't seem to support. Watch this show, buy the first season DVD set, tell your uncle who works in the Fox programming department to keep this show around.

Season finale is tonight at 8:30.

April 23, 2005

My Warhol Phase

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The above "art" masterpiece was created by manipulating filters of a digital photograph in Macromedia Fireworks.

The Life Aquatic

Okay, so I didn't exactly run out and see this flick right when it came out at the tail end of last year. Wes Anderson's latest is about to come out on DVD next month, but I caught it on the big screen at the discount theater on a rainy Saturday night. It's typical of Anderson's other films: quirky, droll, and surprisingly engaging. Thumbs up.

April 27, 2005

New From The Boss

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Bruce Springsteen's new album has been released as a DualDisc, which I read as the recording industry's efforts to keep consumers buying discs in the era of downloads. The premise is that one side is a traditional CD, while the other is a DVD with video "extras." Of course, this format is much harder to duplicate that conventional CDs (or DVDs, for that matter).

On first listen, the album is pretty good. It's acoustic solo Bruce, in the vein of Nebraska and The Ghost of Tom Joad.

April 28, 2005

Batman Begins Trailer

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In the category of pretty cool coming attractions, I present this.

April 29, 2005

An Enjoyable Diversion

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Sydney Pollack's new film The Interpreter is an entertaining entry in the political thriller/mystery genre. This is set in and around the U.N. headquarters in New York and features Nicole Kidman and Sean Penn.

Achtung!

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I've been listening to the 1991 release Achtung Baby extensively while driving the past week or so, no doubt in anticipation of seeing U2 in concert in late May. This album still stands up as an absolutely TREMENDOUS collection of songs: "Zoo Station," "Even Better Than The Real Thing," "One," "Until The End Of The World," "Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses," "The Fly," "Mysterious Ways," "Tryin' To Throw Your Arms Around The World," and "Ultraviolet (Light My Way)" stand out. Most artists would be thrilled to have one or two songs as good on any one album.

April 30, 2005

Eagerly Anticipated Return

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Tomorrow night, May 1, the Griffin clan returns to television in new episodes. Fox canceled Family Guy a couple of years back, only to reverse the decision in light of through-the-roof DVD sales and rerun ratings on cable.

May 1, 2005

Swashbuckling

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Over the Long Weekend break from school, I visited my folks on Long Island and dove into The Errol Flynn Signature Collection, a Warner Brothers compilation of some of Flynn's best movies on DVD (with the notable exception of the five-star The Adventures Of Robin Hood, which WB already released as part of another collection). This set includes such gems as Captain Blood, The Sea Hawk, Dodge City, and They Died With Their Boots On, and each disc includes a newsreel and a Warner cartoon to emulate the moviegoing experience of the late 1930s and early 1940s.

May 12, 2005

Counting Down

It's Thursday.

One week until Revenge of the Sith.

Two weeks until U2 in Boston.

May 15, 2005

Magical

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A new Harry Potter flick is on its way in November. The trailer is now online here. Looks pretty cool.

May 16, 2005

Reviews Are Promising

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Both USA Today and The New York Times gave positive reviews to the latest Star Wars installment, due later this week, in this morning's editions. The latter paper described Revenge of the Sith as better than Episode IV: A New Hope (or, as I knew it in 1977, simply "Star Wars").

May 19, 2005

Tonight's The Night

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10:30 show tonight.

I didn't want to deal with the hordes of REAL die-hards at midnight last night--you know those who showed up in Jedi robes and Yoda ears. Moreover, since I'm taking a dozen allegedly studious schoolchildren with me, getting home at 3 a.m. would have killed them in their Thursday classes. So tonight it is and I am looking forward to it.

May 27, 2005

U2 Setlists

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Okay, folks, still pretty wired as I write this in the wee hours of the morning in spite of a two-hour drive from Boston. Just got in from the U2 show, you see, and it was terrific, fantastic, wonderful, inspiring, and the like. The band adjusted their setlist to include a handful of my favorite songs; they must have had a hunch I was there!

This was my fifth concert with the boys from Dublin and on the way home I was trying to piece together in my head the songs I had heard in previous shows. Thanks to the Internet (and a site called U2tours.com), the following is everything I've seen U2 perform in person. (This is probably more to document my nostalgia than to inform any reader who stumbles onto this blog, but here goes:)

The Unforgettable Fire Tour
Date: April 16, 1985
Venue: The Centrum, Worcester, MA

11 O'Clock Tick Tock
I Will Follow
Seconds
MLK
The Unforgettable Fire
Wire
Two Hearts Beat As One
Sunday Bloody Sunday
The Electric Co.
A Sort Of Homecoming
Bad
October
New Year's Day
Pride

Knocking On Heaven's Door
Gloria
40

The Joshua Tree Tour
Date: September 18, 1987
Venue: Boston Garden, Boston, MA

Where the Streets Have No Name
I Will Follow
Trip Through Your Wires
I Still Haven't Found
MLK
The Unforgettable Fire
Bullet The Blue Sky
Running to Stand Still
Sunday Bloody Sunday
Exit
In God's Country
Help
Helter Skelter
Bad
October
New Year's Day
Pride

One Tree Hill
With Or Without You
Spanish Eyes
Out Of Control
40

Elevation Tour
Date: June 03, 2001
Venue: Civic Center, Hartford, CT

Elevation
Beautiful Day
Until The End Of The World
Mysterious Ways
In My Life/Stuck In A Moment
Kite
Gone
New York
I Will Follow
Sunday Bloody Sunday/Get Up Stand Up
In A Little While
Desire
Stay
Bad/40
Where the Streets Have No Name
Pride

Bullet The Blue Sky
With Or Without You
The Fly
One/She's A Mystery To Me
Walk On

Elevation Tour
Date: October 30, 2001
Venue: Dunkin Donuts Center, Providence, RI

Elevation
Beautiful Day
Until The End Of The World
New Year's Day
Out Of Control
Sunday Bloody Sunday
Stuck In A Moment
Kite
Angel Of Harlem
Please
Bad
Where The Streets Have No Name
I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For
Pride

Bullet the Blue Sky
What's Going On
New York
One
When Will I See You Again
Walk On

Vertigo Tour
Date: May 26, 2005
Venue: Fleet Center, Boston, MA

City Of Blinding Lights
Vertigo
Elevation
Gloria
The Ocean
Beautiful Day/Dream On
Miracle Drug
Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own
Love And Peace Or Else
Sunday Bloody Sunday
Bullet The Blue Sky
Running To Stand Still
Pride
Where The Streets Have No Name
One

The Fly
Until The End Of The World
With Or Without You
Out Of Control
All Because Of You
Original Of The Species
Bad/40

June 26, 2005

Cinema Paradiso

This morning I passed by the old K-Mart plaza on Route 5, just north of Route 68 in Wallingford and it looks like the movie theater they've been working on forever is finally taking shape. We may have our very own multiplex five minutes from the Choate campus within a matter of weeks!

June 30, 2005

A Day At The Thee-A-Tuh

With classes ending early--around 10:30--on Wednesday, I bolted for the New Haven train station to spend the day in New York City, taking in two critically regarded Broadway plays. A week ago I deduced that I see more top-quality theater in London than I do in New York, despite living not much more than an hour away from the Big Apple. So I caught the matinee performance of Doubt, which won both Pulitzer and Tony awards as best play of the season and certainly lived up to expectations in my estimation. Then in the evening, I saw The Pillowman, the latest from Martin McDonagh. The latter play was a witty, provocative drama featuring excellent acting from Billy Crudup and Jeff Goldblum, among others.

July 8, 2005

The F.F.

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As today brought a rainy summer afternoon, I decided to head to the matinee of the season's latest popcorn flick, The Fantastic Four. In the interest of full disclosure, I was an avid fan of the F.F. comics way back when. In spite of the tepid reviews I read this morning, this film did not disappoint me. It was a fun romp. Despite tweaking the origin of the foursome and altering Dr. Doom a bit, the writers and director seemed to "get" the dysfunctional family dynamic, including the relationship between the Thing and the Human Torch, and injected a fair amount of humor into the script. Thumbs up: this was a fun movie.

July 16, 2005

Welcome Back Potter

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Thanks to Amazon.com and the U.S. Postal Service, Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince arrived right on schedule in the morning mail for my weekend reading pleasure.

The Movies Return To Wallingford

I watched Mr. and Mrs. Smith tonight, less because I wanted to see the flick in question--it was okay, if a little slow in places--than to try out the Holiday Cinemas, which opened yesterday in the old K-Mart Plaza. The new 10-screen theater complex is okay, but nothing special. It is less than five minutes from home, though.

August 1, 2005

Harry Potter 6 Cliffhanger

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Okay: for all of you who have finished Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (and if not, what are you waiting for?), here is a site that fleshes out conclusions that I had come to when I read the end of the book. As the URL itself is something of a spoiler, I won't list it here, but only click here if you don't want the end of the book ruined!

(Thanks to blog reader Michael Koh in Singapore for the link!)

August 5, 2005

Coldplay

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Just got in from the Coldplay concert in Hartford, the opening stop on the band's 2005 U.S. tour. For those who care about this sort of thing, here is the show's setlist:

Square One
Politik
Yellow
God Put A Smile Upon Your Face
Speed Of Sound
Low
The Hardest Part
Everything's Not Lost
White Shadows
The Scientist
Til Kingdom Come
Don't Panic
Clocks
Talk

Swallowed In The Sea
In My Place
Fix You

August 8, 2005

R.I.P. Peter Jennings

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I was saddened last night to hear of the death of Peter Jennings, the ABC News anchor whom I got to know a little when I was his son's adviser at school. While I have not been a regular viewer of evening news programs, Peter always seemed to come across as a classy and sincere presence, both on the air and in person.

This sad event, combined with the recent retirements of Tom Brokaw and Dan Rather, really changes the paradigm for network evening news broadcasts. How odd to have three torches passed in such a short time.

August 14, 2005

Imaginary Tales

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DC Comics just released a trade paperback of "imaginary stories." By that, they mean those stories that fell outside of regular continuity (like Jimmy Olsen marrying Supergirl or Lex Luthor killing Superman). Of course, the title of this collection suggests that the rest of the comics produced in the last sixty-odd years were somehow NOT imaginary! Hmmmmm . . .

August 16, 2005

Like A Rolling Stone

Having just read these books:
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I am now very much looking forward to this film by Martin Scorsese:
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Check out the trailer here. It will be broadcast on PBS and released on DVD in September.

August 17, 2005

This Week's Must-Read Magazine

This week's edition of The New Yorker (cover dated August 22) is unusually good. Among the features are a fascinating profile of Billy Graham, another of Kinky Friedman, and a thoughtful piece on the state of French politics and culture at this time. In the "Talk of the Town" section Hendrik Hertzberg skillfully skewers the Administration's anti-science bent in the context of the current hullabaloo over "intelligent design" and the President's recently articulated (ok, not the best word to describe the man's utterances) poisition that the theory ("creationism" in new packaging) should be taught alongside evolution, as if the two approaches had equal scientific merit. Here is an excerpt:

I.D.—whose central (and easily refuted) talking point is that certain structures of living things are too intricate to have evolved without the intervention of an “intelligent designer” (and You know who You are)—enjoys virtually no scientific support. It is not even a theory, in the scientific sense, because it is untestable and unsupportable by empirical evidence. It is a last-ditch skirmish in a misguided war against reason that cannot be won and, for religion's sake as well as science's, should not be fought. If the President's musings on it were an isolated crotchet, they would hardly be worth noting, let alone getting exercised about. But they're not. They reflect an attitude toward science that has infected every corner of his Administration. From the beginning, the Bush White House has treated science as a nuisance and scientists as an interest group—one that, because it lies outside the governing conservative coalition, need not be indulged. That's why the White House-sometimes in the service of political Christianism or ideological fetishism, more often in obeisance to baser interests like the petroleum, pharmaceutical, and defense industries-has altered, suppressed, or overriden scientific findings on global warming; missile defense; H.I.V./ AIDS; pollution from industrial farming and oil drilling; forest management and endangered species; environmental health, including lead and mercury poisoning in children and safety standards for drinking water; and non-abstinence methods of birth control and sexually-transmitted-disease prevention. It has grossly misled the public on the number of stem-cell lines available for research. It has appointed unqualified ideologues to scientific advisory committees and has forced out scientists who persist in pointing out inconvenient facts.

For the entire piece, click here.

August 22, 2005

Celebrity Photo Du Jour

This is priceless:
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Movie Trailer Du Jour

Yeah, I could tell you about it, but just click here and be surprised.

August 30, 2005

Historical Artifact

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The Internet has all kinds of interesting corners to explore. There is a database on this site that contains tens of thousands of comic book covers. The issue pictured above is the very first comic I can remember reading as a 5-year-old in the back seat of the family car. For the record, it's Superman #228 (July 1970). I think this was bought to entertain me when my family was driving south to spend the summer in Guadalajara, Mexico.

September 15, 2005

New Harry Trailer

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It's posted here. Check it out.

September 18, 2005

Recommended Reading

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Today's magazine section of The New York Times has an excellent piece on U2 frontman and ambassador of the world Bono.

September 21, 2005

Get Lost

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The season premiere of "Lost" on ABC was excellent, highlighted by an amazing opening sequence. Hopefully this show avoids a sophomore slump; if tonight was any indication, Season 2 will be a fun ride!

If you haven't seen the show, I recommend you digest Season 1 on the recently released DVD set.

September 26, 2005

A Blast From The Past

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I like the scans posted of this scanned brochure because it combines Matt Groening's brilliant "Life In Hell" cartoons with an education-oriented Apple Macintosh advertisement. (Click on the cover to see the entire brochure.)

September 27, 2005

Tuesday Morning Music Club

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Sheryl Crow's new album, Wildflower, arrived via iTunes Music Store download this morning and it's very good. Thumbs up!

September 29, 2005

Time To Fire Up The DVR And Both VCRs

Tonight at 8:00 there is a logjam of shows I want to watch: the season premieres of both Alias and Smallville in addition to the latest installment of The O.C. While it's not unusual that there have been two things of interest to me on the telly at the same time, I can't recall a three-way contest for my viewing attention.

September 30, 2005

The Old West Meets Outer Space

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I saw Serenity tonight at the local multiplex. I was one of those who missed the film's antecedent television series Firefly (which was incredibly short-lived) when it aired, but I did watch the DVDs some time later, so I was familiar with the characters and setting of the film. But I don't think one had to be to enjoy this movie. Most critics have praised the writing and I would agree: this film blends drama, action, and special effects eye candy with considerable humor for a an enjoyable two hours of escapism.

October 7, 2005

An Evening With The Boss

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I saw Bruce Springsteen perform at the Hartford Civic Center tonight--the first Springsteen concert I've attended. The show was part of his "Devils And Dust" solo acoustic tour (in other words, sans the E Street Band). Apparently there are over 100 songs The Boss rotates through his set lists on this tour, alternating between organ, guitar, and piano accompaniment.

The evening's 27-song set list:

Back In Your Arms Again
Wreck On The Highway
Idiot's Delight
Devils And Dust
The Ties That Bind
Long Time Comin'
Silver Palomino
Incident On 57th Street
Tougher Than The Rest
Part Man Part Monkey
All I'm Thinkin' About
Something In The Night
Reno
All That Heaven Will Allow
Lost In The Flood
My Hometown
The Rising
Lucky Town
Jesus Was An Only Son
Two Hearts
The Hitter
Matamoros Banks

I Wanna Marry You
You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch)
Bobby Jean
The Promised Land
Dream Baby Dream

October 24, 2005

The Sometime Blogger Breaks His Silence

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Enjoying the Long Weekend break, I digested the entirety of Neil Gaiman's latest novel, Anansi Boys, which was an entertaining read. It's a sequel to American Gods but does not require familiarity with that book at all. Thumbs up.

November 1, 2005

The Fall Of Anakin Skywalker

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New DVD out today, for all of you looking to complete your collection!

November 13, 2005

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This child of the late 1970s and early 1980s enjoyed a retro night at the Journey concert right here in Wallingford. I took eleven teenagers see a band that peaked long before any of them were born. I was only mildly disappointed to find out that I had been hoodwinked during the show into thinking that the lead singer was actually Steve Perry. The soundalike was pretty credible, though, belting out renditions of "Don't Stop Believing," "Faithfully," "Wheel In The Sky," "Anyway You Want It," et. al.

November 16, 2005

Hello, Hello

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The DVD of U2's Vertigo 2005 tour arrived via Amazon this morning (the deluxe edition, of course!). It holds warm memories of the May concert I saw in Boston just after this Chicago show was filmed.

November 19, 2005

Movie Magic

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I took in the latest installment of the Harry Potter franchise at the local cinematic emporium last night with an assortment of 16-, 17-, and 18-year-olds who apparently have been weaned on a steady diet of Hogwarts books and movies. The film did not disappoint. I find that while I read these Harry Potter books when they come out--usually flying through each one in a day or so--I promptly forget all the details of the plot so that when the corresponding movie comes out a few years later, it all seems pretty new to me. I suppose that's good. For example, I had forgotten the twist at the end of "Goblet of Fire." Thumbs up.

November 20, 2005

The World's Biggest Band Comes To Hartford

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. . . and I will be there. December 7--a day that will live in more than just infamy!

November 25, 2005

So Long, Alias

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ABC announced Wednesday that Alias will be canceled at the end of this, its fifth, season. I was a latecomer to the show, devouring the first three seasons on DVD. Frankly, I thought the show gradually went downhill, season by season. What used to be grippingly suspenseful has gotten boringl it can no longer hold a candle to 24 in the category of outlandish serial action thrillers on television. Nothing that followed could match the appeal of the first season, with Jennifer Garner as a part-time grad student with a seemingly normal existence who was leading a double (triple?) life as a CIA spy within the SD-6 organization. The detailed touches of the "normal" side of Sydney Bristow's life--like her interactionx with roommate Francie and best friend Will--brought some much-needed human interest into otherwise far-fetched plots. I even liked the Rambaldi mythology before it got too played out. But this season, with a very pregnant Sydney still in action around the world, has become preposterous far beyond my capacity for the suspension of disbelief.

November 28, 2005

From This Morning's New York Times

A good piece on the world's biggest rock band in the Business section of the this morning's Times:

Media Age Business Tips From U2

by David Carr

IN pop culture, nothing lasts forever. But U2 is coming close.

On the surface, the formula U2 used to send 20,000 fans into sing-along rapture at Madison Square Garden last Tuesday night was as old as rock 'n' roll: four blokes, three instruments, a bunch of good songs. Add fans, cue monstrous sound system, light fuse and back away.

But that does not explain why, 25 years in, four million people will attend 130 sold-out shows this year and next that will gross over $300 million and how their most recent album, "How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb," has already sold eight million copies.

For that, you have to look at U2 less as a band than as a multimillion-dollar, multinational media company, one of the smarter ones around.

"We always said it would be pathetic to be good at the music and bad at the business," said Paul McGuinness, the band's manager since the beginning. And while U2 hasn't become a Harvard Business School case study (at least not yet) it offers an object lesson in how media can connect with their customers.

MEET THE CONSUMERS WHERE THEY LIVE For years, the U2 fanzine Propaganda was used to feed the tribe. The band's Web presence was restricted to temporary sites for specific tours. But in 2000, U2 opened an extensive Web site, with an index to every song and album, lyrics, tour news that is refreshed nightly and subscriber features - for those die-hards willing to part with $40 - that allowed them access to tickets, exclusive content and streaming downloads of every song and video the band has ever made.

APOLOGIZE, THEN MOVE ON With the Vertigo tour, it became apparent that some of those fans who had paid good money to join U2's Web site had been elbowed aside by scalpers in the scrum for tickets. The band's response was to apologize immediately and promise to do better.

"The idea that our longtime U2 fans and scalpers competed for U2 tickets through our own Web site is appalling to me," the drummer Larry Mullen wrote in a statement issued by the band as soon as the problem arose. "I want to apologize to you who have suffered that."

EMBRACE TECHNOLOGY While other big acts were scolding and threatening fans for downloading music or, in the case of Metallica, suing Napster, U2 was busy working on a new business model.

A collaboration with Apple yielded a U2 special edition iPod that was a smash hit and gave visibility to the band at a time when most radio station playlists don't extend much beyond a narrow selection of pop singers. With iTunes, U2 produced what may be the industry's first downloadable version of a box set, offering the band's entire musical history for $149.

"We thought it was an opportunity to be taken with both hands," said Mr. McGuinness. Contrast that statement with anything from Hollywood on digital technology in the last three years.

DON'T EMBARRASS YOUR FANS Sure, U2 has recorded some clunkers (1997's "Pop" comes to mind) but the band works and reworks material until it has a whole album's worth of songs, no filler. Last Tuesday, the band played at least four of the songs from the current album, giving the songs a shot at entering the pantheon and affirming U2's status as a contemporary band, not a guilty pleasure or retro musical act that covers their own earlier greatness. (Quick, what's the last Rolling Stones' album?)

"Don't embarrass your fans," Bono told The New York Times last year. "They've given you a good life."

BE CAREFUL HOW YOU SELL OUT U2 has been offered as much as $25 million to allow a song to be used in a car commercial. No dice. They traded brands, not money, with Apple. Bob Dylan may wander around in a Victoria's Secret ad and The Who will rent "My Generation" to anybody with the wherewithal, but the only thing U2's music sells is U2. Just because it will fold and go in someone's pocket - The New Yorker publishing ads illustrated by its cartoonists comes to mind - does not mean it will be beneficial over the long haul.

EMBRACE POLITICIANS, NOT POLITICS I watched Bono, during the Republican Convention last year, hold Bill O'Reilly of Fox News rapt with a lengthy discussion of AIDS in Africa. Last summer, he posed for a photograph with President Bush, congratulating him for the work his administration had done for Africa.

"Their credibility is very strong," said Gary Bongiovanni, editor in chief of Pollstar, a trade magazine covering the concert industry. "I don't think there is anybody who doesn't believe that they are sincere in what they are doing."

(Bono came close to jumping the shark by donning a blindfold and miming a prison torture scene during "Bullet the Blue Sky," the band's fatwa against United States military intervention and then saying at the end of the song, "This is dedicated to the brave men and women of the U.S. military." Which of these things, Bono?)

IT'S CALLED SHOW BUSINESS FOR A REASON In 1980, I was standing with my sister at First Avenue bar in Minneapolis watching a then little-known band from Dublin take the stage. The Edge, the band's lead guitarist, kicked into a chiming, ringing salute, the opening chords of "I Will Follow." Bono ambled out, absently drinking a glass of water and when the drummer kicked in, Bono tossed the water into the lights above him, a mist enshrouding him - and us - as he stepped to the mike.

Much theatrical and musical combustion ensued, on that night and in the decades since. The current show is a testament to reinvestment, with a huge lighting and stage structure that managed to make Madison Square Garden seem like a cozy church, the backdrop for a secular sacrament. The Vertigo tour included seven curtains of lights, consisting of 12,000 individual bulbs, and a heart-shaped runway that may have wiped out a few hundred prime seats, but allowed thousands more to feel engaged as The Edge and Bono strode out along it during songs.

SEIZE THE MOMENT, BUT DON'T STEAL IT For years, U2 declined invitations to play at the Super Bowl, but the first one held after the attacks of Sept. 11 had special significance. Bono, in the middle of singing "Beautiful Day," slyly opened his coat to hundreds of millions of viewers and revealed it was lined with the American flag. The band adopted industrial and electronic motifs into their music in the 90's to give currency to their sound and then promptly stripped it down for the current tour. Not every gesture and instinct resonates: Let's not forget Bono's decision to go with a mullet in the mid-80's.

AIM HIGH As the central icon in the Church of the Upraised Fist - a temporary concert nation of gesturing frat boys, downloading adolescents and aging rockers reliving past glories - Bono can command his audience to do anything. During the concert last Tuesday, Bono asked the audience to send, via text message, their full names to One, an organization that fights AIDS and global poverty. They happily complied and their names were flashed on screen between encores. MTV's "Total Request Live" may attract a wider audience, but its members probably aren't made to think they are part of something bigger.

December 1, 2005

Good Music For A Good Cause

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As today is World AIDS Day, it is fitting to note that Alicia Keys and Bono are releasing a song on iTunes next Tuesday that will raise money to fight children's poverty in Africa. The song is a cover of "Don't Give Up," a terrific Peter Gabriel composition (which he recorded with Kate Bush on his So album).

December 5, 2005

Nifty X3 Photos

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This morning's USA Today features the first glimpses of the new on-screen versions of the X-Men, to appear in next summer's third installment of the franchise. Above, of course, is Beast; below is Angel.

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December 6, 2005

24 Hours Until Vertigo

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This time tomorrow night. Hartford Civic Center. U2. Me.

December 7, 2005

Off To Hartford

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Less than three hours 'til showtime. Gettin' ready to leave the ground . . .

December 8, 2005

U2 #6

Still flying high from last night's show, the sixth time I have seen this particular Dublin band live. I sat in the best seats I've ever had for a U2 concert--two rows from the ellipse runway. Bono and the boys seemed especially energetic and made a lot of musical connections to The Beatles and John Lennon on the eve of the 25th anniversary of Lennon's death.

Here is the set list:

City Of Blinding Lights
Vertigo
Elevation
Gloria
I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For
Beautiful Day / Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band / Happy Christmas (War Is Over)
Original Of The Species / Norwegian Wood
Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own
Love And Peace Or Else
Sunday Bloody Sunday / Rock The Casbah
Bullet The Blue Sky / The Hands That Built America / When Johnny Comes Marching Home
Miss Sarajevo
Pride (In The Name Of Love)
Where The Streets Have No Name
One
Help

Until The End Of The World
Mysterious Ways / We Wish You A Merry Christmas
With Or Without You

Stuck In A Moment You Can't Get Out Of
Instant Karma!
Yahweh
40

December 27, 2005

Eighties Nostalgia

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On an impulse--perhaps sparked by spending a week in South Florida--I picked up the first two seasons of Miami Vice on DVD and have been gradually digesting episodes. The show is a guilty pleasure. I saw "Vice" only sporadically when it orginially aired--I just didn't watch much television at all while in college--so most of the episodes are new to me, even if it all feels somewhat familiar. The '80s soundtrack is certainly nostalgic. (There's a terrific web site guide to the music featured on the show: click here to access it.) And the show has an undeniable flair for fashion.

While at the movies the other day, I saw a trailer for a forthcoming Miami Vice film, starring Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx as Crockett and Tubbs. Michael Mann, who produced the television series before becoming a noted film director (Last of the Mohicans, Heat, Collateral) will direct.

January 2, 2006

Recent Reads

I polished off two books while in South America:

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My sister gave me a copy of Bruce Chatwin's In Patagonia, a 1977 travel book--though the author apparently disputed that categorization--about the barren but beautiful area in southern Argentina and Chile and the people who lived (and still live) there. Interestingly, Chatwin is the most famous proponent of the Moleskin notebooks I like to use.

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In Brazil the past few days, I tackled a book my mom picked out for me for Christmas: The River of Doubt, an account of Teddy Roosevelt's perilous exploration of the upper reaches of the Amazon basin after he lost his 1912 comeback bid for the White House. Candice Miller wrote a gripping treatment of this journey, grounding it in such diverse disciplines as history, politics, geology, and biology, without ever losing the human dimension of this fascinating story.

An Entertaining Diversion

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The funniest podcast I listen to comes from Ricky Gervais--he of The Office and Extras fame--and friends. Gervais and producing partner Steve Merchant host, along with the (I think) unintentionally hilarious Karl Pilkington. What makes the weekly podcast so enjoyable is the interplay, especially between the often off-the-wall Pilkington and the often incredulous Gervais. You can access the podcast here.

January 16, 2006

Season 5: Another Bad Day

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Last night's 2-hour season premiere of "24" was kick-ass! Two more hours tonight.

January 18, 2006

Consistently Excellent Television

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Tonight's episode of Lost was another strong installment. The creators of this show don't seem to be capable of being thrown off their game. Week to week, this drama is first-rate--the Golden Globe it won the other night was well-deserved.

January 22, 2006

Bye Bye To The West Wing

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NBC announced that this, the seventh season of The West Wing will be the show's last. Too bad, as it was enjoying a creative renaissance the past year, with the Vinick/Santos campaign to take over at the end of the Bartlet presidency. Tonight's episode was a good one, as the White House and the two campaigns had to respond to a nuclear power station crisis.

January 31, 2006

In Honor Of Today's Oscar Nominations . . .

. . . here is a pretty funny video spoof that popped up on the 'Net.

February 3, 2006

Another Spoof

This one is even better than the one I linked to the other day. Click here.

February 5, 2006

King Tut

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I drove down to Fort Lauderdale this morning to check out the exhibition at the city's art museum, "Tutanhkamen and the Golden Age of the Pharoahs." Maybe it was seeing Steve Martin host Saturday Night Live last night, but the whole time I was in the museum, I couldn't get his "King Tut" song (from a late 1970s SNL) out of my head as I meandered around all the antiquities.

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I was pleasantly surprise to learn I could find the song as a download on iTunes.

February 28, 2006

So Good

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Having been away over the weekend, I caught the latest episode of Battlestar Galactica, "Downloaded," on my ReplayTV a few days after it aired; this may well have been the best one yet. Because the show falls in the science fiction genre (and because of the cheesy 1970s incarnation) a lot of potential viewers probably dismiss this show without having seen a single episode. But it's one of the best conceived and best written shows on television.

March 4, 2006

A Catchy Duet

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Sting recorded a vocal track to enable Sheryl Crow to release a duet version of "Always On Your Side," a song from her solid last album Wildflower. The addition of the former Police frontman's vocals made this a much better song. It's available as a download on iTunes.

March 6, 2006

Double Dose of Jack

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Two episodes of 24 tonight. Great season so far!

March 7, 2006

X3 Trailer Online

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The trailer for the third X-Men flick, coming out in May, aired during last night; it also has been posted here.

March 22, 2006

Movie Night

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I saw V For Vendetta tonight. It seemed the filmmakers did a pretty good job translating the graphic novel to the screen. The movie has gotten mixed reviews, but I found it entertaining, visually interesting, and provocative.

March 25, 2006

Getting Caught Up

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I fired up the DVR today to get current with the new season of The Sopranos. Episode 1 of the sixth season ended with a shocker, and the follow-up dealt with the fallout. It's good to have this show back.

March 26, 2006

Another Flick

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For the first time in a LONG time, I saw two movies in one weekend while school was in session. I watched The Inside Man this afternoon, the new Spike Lee-directed film, starring Clive Owen, Denzel Washington, Jodie Foster, and Christopher Plummer. It was an enjoyable movie: tautly paced, cleverly scripted, and well acted--a perfect caper flick!

April 4, 2006

Look How They Shine For You

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I took in a very entertaining Coldplay concert this evening over at Mohegan Sun Casino. The setlist was pretty similar to the August 2005 show I saw at The Meadows in Hartford:

Square One
Politik
Yellow
Speed of Sound
God Put a Smile on Your Face
What If
Don’t Panic
White Shadows
The Scientist
Till Kingdom Come
Ring of Fire
Trouble
Clocks
Talk

Swallowed In The Sea
In My Place
Fix You

April 23, 2006

Nip/Tuck

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This rainy weekend I finally got around to starting the Nip/Tuck DVDs I picked up in Shanghai last month. (The boxed set of the first three seasons was awfully cheap over there!) I've digested the first two episodes and, aside from the graphic surgery scenes, it's pretty enjoyable thus far. Watching a season of a TV show on DVD is a pretty good way to do it, as the viewer controls the pacing from episode to episode, rather than being subjected to the vagaries of network scheduling.

April 27, 2006

Something Different From The Boss

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Bruce Springsteen's new album, We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions, is something of a romp: the music is energetic, foot-stomping, and fun. This a a radical departure from last year's decidedly more sober and somber Devils & Dust album.

April 30, 2006

City Of Blinding Lights

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I spent much of yesterday in New York City, catching the Rangers game at Madison Square Garden--in which the Devils completed their sweep to advance to the semis of the Stanley Cup playoffs--and then watching the hot new Broadway show, The History Boys, in the evening.

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The production was one of the best I've seen. As a teacher--and a history and English teacher in particular--I found the play wonderfully provocative. The work is a thoughtful meditation on competing philosophies of education, the role of a teacher, and the very nature of history itself. While there is lot that's uniquely British about the play, there are universal themes here too. It's more than just serious "thee-a-tah," though, as the play is entertaining on many levels, with loads of biting humor on hand. The acting was first-rate and the staging wonderfully effective. The production was a critically acclaimed hit on the West End when it opened in London in 2004 and seems destined to a similar fate in its New York run.

It the mark of a great place that one can move seamlessly through the worlds of sport and art so easily. New York City is such a place. So is Choate.

May 2, 2006

Excitement

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Check this out.

May 4, 2006

From My Youth

For some reason, the cover to this 1971 comic book, which I once possessed, sticks in my mind. The issue was a collection of reprints, as I recall, but it was the wrap-around cover, with two Supermen, Batmen, Robins, Flashes, Green Lanterns, Atoms, Hawkmen, and Wonder Women--from Earth-1 and Earth-2, of course, as any well-read aficionado could explain--that made this so cool. Oh, the stuff that has accumulated in my head!

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May 5, 2006

Summer Movie Kickoff

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Saw the 10:30 p.m. debut of Mission: Impossible 3 last night. It's a "check your brain at the door for two hours" popcorn flick, but some strong points were Philip Seymour Hoffman's excellent villain and the sure-handed direction of J.J. Abrams--the man who brought us Alias and Lost.

May 9, 2006

One-Sheet 1

Not sure if this is legit--it's from the Internet, after all--but here for your viewing pleasure is a pretty cool-looking "one-sheet" (to use the official term for movie posters) for the forthcoming Superman Returns:
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One-Sheet 2

Another:
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One-Sheet 3

Just one more:
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May 14, 2006

So Long, President Bartlet

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The West Wing ended tonight. I'll miss this drama. It was a fixture of my Wednesday nights, and more recently Sunday nights, for seven years now. Though Aaron Sorkin's departure diminished the show somewhat, it was re-energized creatively with the Santos/Vinick campaign in the final two seasons.

May 22, 2006

A Kick-Ass Trailer

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Check out the very end of this international trailer for the forthcoming Superman Returns.

May 23, 2006

Closure Or Cliffhanger?

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Last night's season finale of 24 wrapped up the loose ends of the excellent Season 5 pretty well. Nice to see President Logan get his due! But of course our hero Jack Bauer was captured by the Chinese and was last seen in the hold of a freighter bound for Asia. What will next season bring in January 2007? It's a LONG time to wait!

May 26, 2006

Movie Time

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Saw The Da Vinci Code last night. The movie didn't really capture the breadth of ideas in the novel, but like the book, it was entertaining, if somewhat preposterous.

May 27, 2006

Movie Time II

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Second night in a row at the cinema yesterday! It was opening night for X-Men: The Last Stand. Typical summer blockbuster fare: somewhat mindless, but lots of eye candy on this roller coaster ride. The story doesn't do justice to the original Dark Phoenix saga, but who cares? One word of advice: stay until the end of the credits!

May 29, 2006

U2 Spots For World Cup On ABC/ESPN

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I've been enjoying a great series of inspirational ads running on ESPN2 during the Roland Garros coverage. The commercials promote the upcoming World Cup on the ABC networks and feature the music of U2 as well as voice-overs by members of the band. Check out the ads online here.

May 30, 2006

Blade Runner Heaven

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If, like me, you are a fan of Ridley Scott's Blade Runner, then 2007 will bring something to look forward to: for the film's 25th anniversary, Warner Bros. is compiling an ultimate DVD edition, with all the various versions of the movie, as well as a slew of extras. The package also will be released on HD-DVD and Blu-Ray formats at the same time.

June 3, 2006

On The Reading Table

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On the recommendation of a colleague, I started David Lodge's Nice Work today. Though I am not far into the book yet, it's already an engagingly funny satire of life in mid-1980s Britain, with a particularly acerbic take on the academic world.

June 18, 2006

Will You Still Need Me . . .

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It's official . . . Sir Paul McCartney is 64!

June 20, 2006

Freaky Sight

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I didn't notice this coming from Paris on the Eurostar two summers ago, but on my trip from Brussels yesterday, just before the train's arrival in London's Waterloo Station, there appeared this huge factory with four smokestacks in the corners--the exact building (and from the train, viewed from pretty much the same angle) pictured on the cover the Pink Floyd's Animals album from the 1970s.

June 27, 2006

10 Months Away

Another cool movie trailer is now online here.

June 28, 2006

Faster Than A Speeding Bullet . . .

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Just got in from the first showing of Superman Returns. It measured up pretty well, though Kate Bosworth's Lois fell a little flat. The movie treats its source material--Richard Donner's 1978 Superman and the first of it sequels--with great reverence, even incorporating some of the best lines from those earlier films (and liberally mining John Williams' majestic scoring). Good flick overall, if perhaps a bit too long. Thumbs up.

July 7, 2006

This Is Why I Love The Internet

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This is a piece of music NBC Sports has used in its Wimbledon coverage since the late 1970s, something I never would have been able to track down and acquire had it not been for the good ol' World Wide Web.

August 7, 2006

Dumbledore Is Not Dead!

Here are my results from the "Which Harry Potter Character Are You?" web quiz.

You scored as Albus Dumbledore. Strong and powerful you admirably defend your world and your charges against those who would seek to harm them. However sometimes you can fail to do what you must because you care too much to cause suffering.

Albus Dumbledore

95%

Harry Potter

80%

Sirius Black

80%

Remus Lupin

75%

Draco Malfoy

70%

Hermione Granger

65%

Ron Weasley

55%

Severus Snape

50%

Ginny Weasley

40%

Lord Voldemort

40%

Your Harry Potter Alter Ego Is...?
created with QuizFarm.com

August 11, 2006

Question Of The Day

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August 13, 2006

Vice

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I saw Michael Mann's Miami Vice film tonight. It was stylish, but mediocre overall.

August 17, 2006

Theater Double-Header

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I spent yesterday in New York City, catching two Broadway shows: a Wicked matinee and an evening performance of Sweeney Todd.

A little over a year ago, I realized that I was seeing more theater in London than I was in New York, which is rather ironic for a resident of Connecticut! So I resolved to get in to the city to see shows at least a couple times a year. Heading in to New York on a Wednesday--something that is not really possible for me when school is in session--enables me to catch two performances in one day.

Wicked is a wonderfully subversive version of The Wizard Of Oz from the perspective of the misunderstood Wicked Witch of the West. The show is an upbeat visual effects spectacle with a peppy Stephen Schwartz score and a thoroughly enjoyable experience.

On the other hand, the current incarnation of Sweeney Todd is a stripped down rendition, with just one stark set and the ten cast members doubling up as the musicians (and stagehands, as well!). This very dark story was presented in a dramatically gripping style. The casting was first rate, especially considering the versatility needed in actors/singers who could also handle the challenging instrumental duties. This show, though very different than the afternoon production, was a treat, too.

August 18, 2006

An Amusing Ditty

Though I'll cop to liking the music of James Blunt, I still find this very funny.

August 21, 2006

Is Bush Hitting The Bottle Again?

Okay, this is kind of sophomoric, bit it IS pretty funny: click here.

August 22, 2006

Recommended Comedy

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Little Miss Sunshine is a very funny movie. See it.

August 23, 2006

Today I Am Listening To . . .

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. . . the new compilation of traditional sea chanteys featuring such singers as Bono, Sting, Lou Reed, Lucinda Williams, and two Wainwrights (father and son), among many others. The double CD is entitled Rogue's Gallery: Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs, & Chanteys. The Bono cover is particularly affecting.

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I'm also listening to the Death Cab For Cutie iTunes Originals playlist. The iTunes Originals series includes some spoken word tracks with exposition from band members, some "greatest hits" cuts, a few versions of the band's songs re-recorded specifically for this collection and--at least in this case--some music videos, all for $9.90.

August 24, 2006

I Feel Pretty

Check out this ad, which I'm sure will be in heavy rotation during the U.S. Open the next couple of weeks.

August 26, 2006

Season 3 Ahead

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This promo ad for Lost has me looking forward to the third season of this excellent show.

August 28, 2006

1996 Tony Award Winner

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Just saw the Broadway production of Rent. Yeah, I know I'm ten years behind its debut, but I figured it was about time.

August 30, 2006

Dylan's Latest

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Bob Dylan's recent release, Modern TImes, arrived in my mailbox yesterday and it's a good listen. The album captures a lot of what's great about American music and Dylan in particular, without wallowing in nostalgia.

September 1, 2006

Captain Kirk, Meet Homer Simpson

YouTube makes it absolutely clear that some folks have WAY too much time on their hands. In that spirit, check out this amusing little clip.

September 9, 2006

Best. Interview. Ever.

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Some choice excerpts from the interview with "Comic Book Guy" (from The Simpsons, of course), courtesy of TVGuide.com:

TVGuide.com: Numerous reviews of Superman Returns cited homoerotic undertones in the film. Did you get a sense of that?

Comic Book Guy: No, and neither did the eight guys I saw it with.

TVGuide.com: Heath Ledger has signed on to play The Joker in the next Batman film. What are your thoughts on that casting choice?

Comic Book Guy: To me there is only one true Batman villain: King Tut. A true hero to all us full-figured fans.

TVGuide.com: Currently, Joss Whedon is working on a script for a Wonder Woman film. If you could give him one piece of advice, what would it be?

Comic Book Guy: Make sure Wonder Woman wears a Wonderbra. Oh, baby.

You can view the entire interview here.

September 17, 2006

The New TV Season Is Here

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Aaron Sorkin, creator of Sports Night and The West Wing, returned to television with the premiere of Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip this evening. The first show had a lot of the feel of The West Wing: witty, talky, interesting character dynamics, and top-notch production values. I'll be keeping it on my DVR list to record this season.

September 19, 2006

Eltonius Johnson

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"Eltonius Johnson" is what my friend Chuck calls Sir Elton John, whose new album out this week, The Captain And The Kid, is a sequel of sorts to the 1975 smash Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy. The latter traced the story of Elton and lyricist Bernie Taupin from their days of obscurity right up to their big breakthrough in America. The new CD updates their autobiographies with material drawn from the early 1970s to the present day. It's been getting stron reviews and is well worth a listen.

September 21, 2006

Michael Scott Is Back!

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The U.S. version of The Office returned for its third season tonight with an absolutely hilarious season premiere. I really thought this show would crash and burn two years ago in a lame attempt to capture the magic of its BBC predecessor. After a slow start, though, the series has gotten better and better. Based on the first new episode, it looks like the third season will continue this trend.

September 22, 2006

Got My Tire Fixed

I got a flat tire on August 31. I got my tire repaired today. So it's been over three weeks since I've needed to drive my gas-guzzling Ford Explorer. I've either been able to drive my scooter around town or I've taken a school-owned vehicle for work-related travel.

September 26, 2006

The Book On U2

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Amazon delivered a HEAVY package today, containing the new book by and about U2. It's more than the average coffee table book, with hundreds of pages of interviews and pictures of the band drawn from the past 25+ years.

October 2, 2006

The Morning Report

From the dependably on-target Tom Tomorrow:
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October 15, 2006

Scorsese's Latest

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I saw The Departed, Martin Scorsese's new film, tonight. It features great pacing and a first-rate cast (Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Alec Baldwin, Martin Sheen, Mark Wahlberg). The story is a version of the Hong Kong hit Infernal Affairs, set among cops and gangsters in the Boston Irish community. Thumbs up.

October 16, 2006

A Good New Show

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I took to Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip right out of the blocks this fall, but after four episodes it might be that the show in the time slot right before, Heroes, is the real NBC hook on Monday nights. The pilot was a bit slow, but I caught up on the next two episodes on my DVR this past weekend and then watched the current installment tonight. The show is getting better each week, with a bit of the Lost mystery vibe at play.

October 17, 2006

"More Controversy"

I am told that Chris Borgstrom wants to see more controversy in this blog. Okay--this is admittedly sophomoric, but it's a great example of unintentional humor from mid-1960s pop culture:
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October 18, 2006

One More Like That

In the vein of the last post, this is taken from a 1940s Batman comic book:
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October 20, 2006

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I started the new book by Newsweek technology correspondent Steven Levy, The Perfect Thing, about the commercial and cultural significance of the iPod, which is five years old this month. Like songs on the device itself, the chapters of this book are shuffled in a different order, depending on which copy of the book one picks up. It's an interesting overview of the impact the Apple music player has had on the music industry, the tech industry, and global culture.

October 23, 2006

The Opera Beckons

I surely don't pretend to have the pedigree of an opera lover, but I did book myself a ticket to see The Barber of Seville at the Met at the end of the month. As it will be the beginning of my sabbatical, I figure I can afford the time to develop my tastes in a new direction. While in Sydney this January, I hope to see The Marriage of Figaro in the world-famous Sydney Opera House. And, if I can swing what is a very tough ticket to get this fall, I may also check out the Anthony Minghella-directed Madame Butterfly in New York next month, too.

October 25, 2006

America's #1 Movie

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With no classes today, last night was an opportune time for a Mem Garden movie trip. We saw The Prestige, starring Christian Bale, High Jackman, Michael Caine, Scarlett Johansson, and David Bowie. Everyone really liked this movie, which is about the competition between two rival magicians about a hundred years ago. Interesting food for thought in this film.

October 27, 2006

What's This One?

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Click here for the accompanying dialogue.

October 31, 2006

State Of Play

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I've switched my iBook to the Region 2 DVD code for the time being and have been watching the BBC's brilliant 2003 political thriller State Of Play during the Long Weekend break. Highly recommended.

November 3, 2006

An Interesting Juxtaposition

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Tonight I took in two diverse entertainments: I watched an all-female student cast perform Antigone on campus and then took the Mem Garden crew to see Borat (or to use the full title, Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan). Pretty wide range of high culture and low culture!

November 4, 2006

Off To The City

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Tonight I will see Madama Butterfly at the Metropolitan Opera House. The performances of this production have been sold out, as it's been greatly hyped. Anthony Minghella, the auteur behind such films as The English Patient and The Talented Mr. Ripley, directed.

November 5, 2006

My Trip To The Met

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It was a treat to travel to New York City for the opera. The Madama Butterfly production was an interesting mix of culture: a Chilean diva starring in an Italian opera set in Japan dealing with attitudes of American imperialism. I cannot claim expertise enough to assess the quality of performance as a true aficionado might, but it was an impressive visual and musical spectacle.

November 19, 2006

Another Franchise Reboot

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Just got home from seeing Casino Royale, a leaner, meaner installment of the James Bond franchise starring Daniel Craig as the new 007. It holds together pretty well as an action film, with more emphasis on great stunt work and drama than the old reliance on gadgets and humor.

November 21, 2006

All You Need Is Love

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Today I listened to Love, the new Beatles release--well, to be more accurate, a mash-up of classic Beatles tracks--created for the Cirque de Soleil show in Las Vegas by Fab Four producer George Martin. I got the deluxe edition with the DVD Audio disc, which sounds spectacular. These familar songs sound fresh, having been remixed with tracks from other songs. The entire disc is sonically very interesting.

November 28, 2006

Trip To The Barber

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I made my second trip to the Metropolitan Opera this month last night, seeing Il Barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville). As a neophyte to the world of opera, I still was blown away by the talented singers who gave impressive rapid-fire deliveries of Rossini's music. The production was funny and engaging. Perhaps because I listened to a recording of the opera the past few weeks in preparation, I got more out of this performance than I did Madama Butterfly a few weeks back.

December 8, 2006

An Amusing Book Of Reflections On Pop Culture

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This book--Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs by Chuck Klosterman--is an entertaining series of entries on all manner of low culture in American over the past thirty years or so: a perfect read for someone of my age and sensibility. The fact that the book is a collection of short, unconnected essays makes it perfect bathroom reading. (Thanks, Max Alpert, for showing me this.)

This Movie Looks Great

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The film 300, based on the epic Spartan battle at Thermopylae, is based on a Frank Miller graphic novel (as was Sin City) and the trailer suggests this will be a visually striking flick. Check it out here.

December 12, 2006

TV Mash-Up

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If Battlestar Galactica were produced by the makers of The Simpsons, this is what you might see. More here.

No F/X Here

Looks like I won't get to see the Nip/Tuck season 4 finale tonight as planned. The Anaheim Marriott doesn't get the F/X cable network. What th-?

Hope my ReplayTV records the show as scheduled.

December 14, 2006

Don't Miss This Show!

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If you're not watching NBC's The Office, you are missing one of the truly great shows on television. Tonight's hour-long episode was hilarious.

December 21, 2006

Where There Be Dragons

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I saw Eragon tonight. It was not as bad as I had expected, given the pretty tepid reviews, but it was awfully derivative (about 60% Star Wars + 30% Lord Of The Rings + 10% Harry Potter).

December 31, 2006

There's Something About Liz

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I saw The Queen this afternoon at a cinema right next to Circular Quay and the Opera House. It's a captivating film featuring a brilliant performance by Helen Mirren, who is already being tipped for Oscar honors. Don't miss this movie.

January 1, 2007

Song Of The Day #1

A bit obvious, perhaps: "New Year's Day" by U2 on the War album.

U2 - War - New Year's Day

January 2, 2007

A Hollywood Classic

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After dropping off my passport and visa paperwork at the Indian Consulate in the morning, I took the bus over to the Paddington neighborhood to see The African Queen, the John Huston-directed 1951 classic starring Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn. I had never seen it before, and it was far better to watch the film on the big screen. One of the art cinemas in town had a restored color print. Besides, while there are a bunch of films playing back home I am still eager to see, there's precious little else playing in the movie theaters here that looks worthwhile. The Queen--which I watched Sunday--was one exception and Babel--which I surely will catch one of these days--is another.

Song Of The Day #2

Okay, this song may be another obvious choice, given where I am right now, but it's an interesting acoustic take on "Down Under" by the lead singer of Men At Work.

Colin Hay - Man @ Work - Down Under (Acoustic Version)

Figaro, Figaro

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Rather than just looking at the landmark Opera House here in Sydney, I decided to see something IN the building, and so I attend the opening night of the summer season, catching The Marriage Of Figaro. The Mozart opera is something of a sequel to The Barber Of Seville, which I saw at The Met a few weeks back. Both productions were impressive, though the Sydney opera couldn't compete with the star power and manic energy of the New York production. It may be that Rossini's Figaro is a more interesting character, too. Both shows were impressive, but the Barber was more fun.

January 3, 2007

Song Of The Day #3

Keeping with the Australian theme, here's my favorite song about a woman lying naked on the floor.

Natalie Imbruglia - Left of the Middle - Torn

January 4, 2007

Song Of The Day #4

Today's offering is from Elton John's Live In Australia album--which now is 20 years old! This gem of a song, performed with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, is called "The Greatest Discovery."

Elton John - Live in Australia - The Greatest Discovery

Blood Diamond

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On a whim, I caught the 3:30 showing of Blood Diamond in a downtown mall in Brisbane. An entertaining movie about the brutal intersection of the diamond industry and African warfare. Not a great film, but a reasonably well made one on a provocative topic.

January 5, 2007

Song Of The Day #5

This ain't no party
This ain't no disco
This ain't no foolin' around.
That's The Talking Heads, "Life During Wartime."

Talking Heads - Stop Making Sense - Life During Wartime

January 6, 2007

The Beauty Of The Information Age

When I got up this morning and checked my e-mail, there was a message from the iTunes Music Store alerting me that the latest episode of The Office was available for download. Staying in touch with favorite shows back home like this is a relatively recent treat; certainly I couldn't do it during my last sabbatical trip in 1998.

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Earlier in the week, I downloaded from iTMS an episode from the Discovery Atlas series on the Discovery Channel, one called "Australia Revealed." The overview of the country is nearly two hours long--but still only $1.99!--beautifully photographed in high definition, and narrated by Russell Crowe. I was turned on to the series by another Discovery Atlas episode ("China Revealed") on DVD that I was given for Christmas by a cousin; I watched this documentary on my portable Panasonic player on one of my flights. It's a great series. You can see it in all its splendor on the Discovery HD network, if you get it. Or you can order the DVDs for about $20 or download episodes from iTunes Music Store for $2. Here's the link to "Australia Revealed":

Discovery Atlas - Discovery Atlas, Season 1 - Discovery Atlas: Australia Revealed

Song Of The Day #6

The David Bowie classic: Life On Mars? 'Nuff said.

David Bowie - Hunky Dory - Life On Mars?

January 7, 2007

Song Of The Day #7

We're just two lost souls swimming in a fishbowl

Pink Floyd - Wish You Were Here - Wish You Were Here

January 8, 2007

Song Of The Day #8

This is a Sydney-themed piece: the great anti-war song "And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda" about an Australian soldier going to fight for the British Empire at Gallipoli in World War I. This cover is by The Pogues.

Pogues - Rum Sodomy & the Lash [Expanded] - The Band Played Waltzing Matilda

My Reading List

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I've been working my way through Volume I of Gene Wolfe's The Book Of The New Sun, a highly regarded science fantasy tale I picked up last week here in Sydney. Like the best of the genre, it's very provocative and creates a detailed world of its own.

January 9, 2007

Song Of The Day #9

Boston's "More Than A Feeling." I heard it on the radio Sunday morning while driving back to Brisbane and it brought back memories of junior high school. A great song.

Boston - Boston - More Than a Feeling

January 10, 2007

Song Of The Day #10

The Dire Straits, "Sultans Of Swing," featuring some of Mark Knopfler's virtuoso work on the guitar.

Dire Straits - Dire Straits - Sultans of Swing

Babel

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I fnally got around to seeing Babel tonight. It's a long movie, but it is engaging. At first, it's not clear why the film is jumping around along four seemingly disparate storylines, but it all comes together. The film is well made and thought-provoking.

January 11, 2007

Song Of The Day #11

This is Peter Gabriel's 1990 re-recording of his own "Here Comes The Flood." It's a much better version than the original, which is a bit too over-produced for my tastes.

Peter Gabriel - Shaking the Tree - Sixteen Golden Greats - Here Comes the Flood (1990 Re-Recording Version)

A Really Big Screen Adventure

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This morning, I walked over to Darling Harbor's IMAX theater to see The Mystery Of The Nile. As I am scheduled to be spend some time on the Nile myself just a few weeks from now, I thought this would be a good preparation for my visit to Egypt. The ads for the film are a bit misleading, as the film is much less about the historical aspects of Egyptian culture along the river (pyramids, tombs, etc.) than it is about an adventure-filled modern-day rafting trip from the source of the Blue Nile in Ethiopia down to the river's mouth in Alexandria. Still, the photography was stunning in the big film format.

January 12, 2007

Song Of The Day #12

The master lyricist among the singer-songwriters who came to prominence in the 1970s was Jackson Browne. Here is one of his earliest hits: "Doctor My Eyes."

Jackson Browne - Jackson Browne

Another Good Movie From Mexico

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I saw Pan's Labyrinth this afternoon. This movie, like Babel and Children Of Men (the latter of which I have not yet seen), is a highly regarded recent release from a talented Mexican director. This film by Guillermo de Toro--who brought us Hellboy--featured Spanish dialogue (and subtitles in English) and was viusually very imaginitive. It's a thoughtful, creative fairy tale set against the grim realities of fascist Spain in 1944. I recommend it.

January 13, 2007

Song Of The Day #13

An '80s classic: R.E.M.'s "Orange Crush."

R.E.M. - Green

January 14, 2007

Song Of The Day #14

This is Jem's cover of one of Paul McCartney's greatest solo works, "Maybe I'm Amazed."

Jem - Music from The O.C.: Mix 2

January 15, 2007

Song Of The Day #15

Here is "Bright Lights" by Matchbox Twenty.

Matchbox Twenty - More Than You Think You Are

January 16, 2007

This Show Is Growing On Me

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While waiting for the new season of 24 to be posted on iTunes Music Store, I have been catching up on epidoses of 30 Rock, a show which is getting better and better by the week. Alec Baldwin is brilliant in his role as the overbearing G.E. executive in charge of programming and microwave ovens, and the quirky minor characters are getting fleshed out nicely too. Though this show is not yet in the league of The Office--which also started slowly, as I recall--it's picking up steam.

Song Of The Day #16

This cover of "(What A) Wonderful World" is from Art Garfunkel's 1977 album Watermark. I can remember hearing it for the first time on the radio many years later. It features the striking harmonic blend of the voices of Paul Simon and James Taylor with Garfunkel.

Art Garfunkel - Garfunkel - (What A) Wonderful World

Golden Globes

I just finished watching the telecast of the Golden Globes Awards, which was reasonably entertaining. I haven't seen Dreamgirls, but I did see Babel last week and I guess these two films were the big winners of the night. Ugly Betty is a show I've never seen, either, but it's hard to believe it's better than The Office. Helen Mirren took two statues for playing the two Queens Elizabeth--an impressive accomplishment. Anyway, being able to see the show made me feel a little bit like being at home.

January 17, 2007

Song Of The Day #17

A one-hit wonder from the 1970s: "Magic" by Pilot.

Pilot - Best of the 70s

January 18, 2007

Song Of The Day #18

Paul McCartney called this tune from the landmark Pet Sounds album the most beautiful song ever written. It's Brian Wilson in top form with "God Only Knows."

The Beach Boys - Pet Sounds - God Only Knows

January 19, 2007

Jack Bauer Is Gonna Have Another Bad Day

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I watched the first four hours of Season 6 of 24 in the last day and a half. Although the show is preposterous in many ways, it's damned entertaining, too. I'm not ashamed to admit that I'm addicted--so much so that I shelled out $45 for a Season Pass in the iTunes Music Store so I won't miss an episode while globe-trotting.

Song Of The Day #19

"I like to dream . . . " Thus begins "Magic Carpet Ride" by Steppenwolf.

Steppenwolf - Steppenwolf the Second - Magic Carpet Ride

January 20, 2007

Song Of The Day #20

One of my favorite Bruce Springsteen songs: "Human Touch."

Bruce Springsteen - Human Touch - Human Touch

January 21, 2007

Song Of The Day #21

Few pop songs have hooks as well crafted as "Invisible Touch" by Genesis. This reminds me of the year of my college graduation and the five weeks I was a substitute teacher at my alma mater, Bayport-Blue Point High School, and particularly of the 10th grade field trip I chaperoned to Great Adventure theme park the last week of school. (By the way, the key change late in the song is sublime.)

Genesis - Invisible Touch - Invisible Touch

January 22, 2007

Song Of The Day #22

The timeless "Pinball Wizard" from The Who's rock opera Tommy. (By the way, Elton John, who played the Pinball Wizard in the movie version of Tommy, has a great cover of this tune, too.)

The Who - Tommy - Pinball Wizard

January 23, 2007

Song Of The Day #23

Because I will forever associate it with the opening of Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now--and the opening lines of the film, spoken by Martin Sheen playing Willard: "Saigon . . . shit; I'm still only in Saigon," an unforgettable line that I have been repeating to myself like a mantra the past few hours since arriving in the city--here is "The End" by The Doors.

The Doors - Greatest Hits - The End

January 24, 2007

Song Of The Day #24

As much as I try to purge this tune from my mind, it's an infectious ditty. I've seen the music video a couple of times during my trip and it's memorable too: "I Don't Feel Like Dancin'" by the Scissor Sisters.

Scissor Sisters - Ta-Dah - I Don't Feel Like Dancin'

January 25, 2007

Song Of The Day #25

The song title "Let's Go" is fitting for another off-to-the-airport-and-into-another-country-day for me. This song from The Cars' second album evokes memories of my 9th-grade cross country season, sitting in the team captain's living room, listening to this song (on a vinyl record playing on a turntable, of course) instead of doing our assigned workout.

The Cars - Candy-O - Let's Go

January 26, 2007

Song Of The Day #26

A trashy one hit wonder from the '80s is in my head for obvious reasons: Murray Head's "One Night In Bangkok."

Murray Head - Broadway's Greatest Leading Men

January 27, 2007

Song Of The Day #27

I, um, acquired online the second season of Extras, starring Ricky Gervais--a very funny show which is airing on HBO back home this month. This song--the title track of the Cat Stevens classic album Tea For The Tillerman, plays over the closing credits. (By the way, episode 4 in this season guest stars Chris Martin of Coldplay, who also stands in for Cat Stevens on this song at the end of the show.)

Cat Stevens - Tea for the Tillerman - Tea for the Tillerman

I Need My Comedy Fix

No new episodes of The Office or 30 Rock this past Thursday. I guess I'll have to wait another week to download my little bits of mirth. Of course, there's always Sunday's Battlestar Galactica and the formidable Monday line-up--Prison Break, 24, Heroes, and Studio 60--to download and tide me over in the meantime.

January 28, 2007

Song Of The Day #28

Here is a great song: "Amie" by Pure Prarie League.

Pure Prairie League - Pure Prairie League: Greatest Hits - Amie

January 29, 2007

The Wire

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Getting used DVDs on Amazon.com is often a great deal. I picked up the first two seasons of the critically-acclaimed series The Wire a few months back. I finally started watching the first episodes on the plane last night and in bed this morning. Good stuff. And supposedly it gets a lot better in seasons to come.

Song Of The Day #29

Carly Simon explained the context of this song once at I concert I attended in Hartford (Carly and Hall & Oates shared billing at The Meadows about a decade ago). It is about one of the Eastern gurus she worked with back in the early 1970s. The song is called "Haven't Got Time For The Pain."

Carly Simon - Reflections - Carly Simon's Greatest Hits - Haven't Got Time for the Pain

January 30, 2007

Song Of The Day #30

Alanis Morissette, "You Learn."

Alanis Morissette - Jagged Little Pill - You Learn

January 31, 2007

Song Of The Day #31

A little California song from Tom Petty: "Free Fallin'" is its name!

Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers - Full Moon Fever - Free Fallin'

February 1, 2007

Song Of The Day #32

You want guitar power? Van Halen has it in "Panama."

Van Halen - 1984 - Panama

February 2, 2007

Song Of The Day #33

My favorite Elvis song: "All Shook Up."

Elvis Presley - Elvis: 30 #1 Hits - All Shook Up

February 3, 2007

Song Of The Day #34

This won the Oscar for Best Song a few years back; it's Annie Lennox singing "Into The West" from the last of The Lord Of The Rings trilogy.

Howard Shore & Annie Lennox - The Lord of the Rings - The Return of the King - Into the West

February 4, 2007

Song Of The Day #35

This pretty much describes my life since November: "Man In A Suitcase" by The Police.

The Police - Zenyatta Mondatta - Man in a Suitcase

February 5, 2007

Song Of The Day #36

"Walk Like An Egyptian." The name of this song is the "pick-up line" the locals use when they want to strike up a conversation to lead you to a shop. This first time I heard it Saturday afternoon, I thought it was amusing and somewhat charming. But when I heard it for the third time within 24 hours, I realized it was a common piece of schtick. The original song, of course, is by The Bangles.

The Bangles - Bangles: Greatest Hits - Walk Like an Egyptian

February 6, 2007

Song Of The Day #37

This was in my head much of yesterday. Why? I don't know. From the 1980s: "Alive And Kicking" by Simple Minds.

Simple Minds - The Best of Simple Minds - Alive and Kicking

February 7, 2007

Song Of The Day #38

This was a breakout hit, originally used to open an episode of Saturday Night Live: "King Tut" by Steve Martin. It coincided with the touring exhibit of Tutankhamen artifacts in the U.S. You can probably figure why I threw this one out there today: I am off to the Valley of Kings, site of Tut's tomb.

Steve Martin - A Wild & Crazy Guy - King Tut

February 8, 2007

Song Of The Day #39

From The Prince Of Egypt soundtrack: "When You Believe" by Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston. Another tune rattling around my brain as I explore pyramids, temples, and tombs here along the Nile.

Mariah Carey & Whitney Houston - #1's

February 9, 2007

Song Of The Day #40

The Clash's "Rock The Casbah."

The Clash - Combat Rock - Rock the Casbah

February 10, 2007

Song Of The Day #41

"I can see the red tail lights heading for Spain." So sang Elton John in "Daniel."

Elton John - Don't Shoot Me I'm Only the Piano Player - Daniel

February 11, 2007

Song Of The Day #42

The classic ballad by the Eagles: "Desperado."

Eagles - Desperado - Desperado

February 12, 2007

Song Of The Day #43

This song was strangely appropriate for a day in which I spent a couple of hours lost: it's "Where Are You Going" by The Dave Matthews Band.

Dave Matthews Band - Busted Stuff - Where Are You Going

February 13, 2007

Song Of The Day #44

This is one of those songs I liked when I occasionally heard it on the radio as a young teenager and I was thrilled to finally own a copy when digital downloads made it easy to get one track rather than an album of stuff I didn't really want. This is "Everlasting Love" by Andy Gibb, the late younger brother of the Bee Gees.

Andy Gibb - Shadow Dancing - An Everlasting Love

February 14, 2007

Song Of The Day #45

Happy Valentine's Day, loyal readers. Here's a fitting tune from a pair that I am now thoroughly embarrassed to admit were by favorite recording artists circa 1975: The Captain and Tennille. Here is "Love Will Keep Us Together."

Captain & Tennille - Captain & Tennille's Greatest Hits - Love Will Keep Us Together

Serial Television Catch-Up

Had a couple of mini-marathons in the last couple of days, getting up to date with the last three installments of 24 and the last two of Heroes.

February 15, 2007

Song Of The Day #46

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A little French-flavored ditty from Beauty And The Beast, courtesy of Jerry Orbach and Angela Lansbury: "Be Our Guest."

Angela Lansbury, Chorus - Beauty And the Beast & Jerry Orbach - Beauty and the Beast (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) - Be Our Guest

February 16, 2007

Song Of The Day #47

A U2 B-side: "Spanish Eyes."

U2 - The Complete U2 - I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For - Spanish Eyes

February 17, 2007

Song Of The Day #48

This is from Man Of La Mancha: "I, Don Quixote."

Irving Jacobson & Richard Kiley - Man of la Mancha

February 18, 2007

Song Of The Day #49

Here's a cover of U2's "In A Little While" by--of all groups--Hanson. (I also have a good take on this song by James Blunt.)

Hanson - The Best of Hanson Live and Electric - In a Little While

Art Appreciation Day

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I spent much of today exploring two major art museums: the Queen Sofia and the Prado. The former specializes in modern works and is the home of "Guernica," Pablo Picasso's masterpiece, and lots of cubism and surrealism (e.g., Salvador Dali). The latter is the Spanish equivalent of the Metropolitan Museum, with a range of Spanish and international masters represented (it's heavy on Velázquez and Goya). The early Dali work above, "Mujer en una ventana," was my favorite of the day.

February 19, 2007

Song Of The Day #50

Justin Timberlake collaborated with the Black Eyed Peas on "Where Is The Love."

Black Eyed Peas & Justin Timberlake - Elephunk - Where Is the Love?

February 20, 2007

Song Of The Day #51

A Steve Winwood song from the 1980s: "Don't You Know What The Night Can Do?" This tune was memorably used in a Michelob commercial.

Steve Winwood - Roll With It - Don't You Know What the Night Can Do?

Just Remember This

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I watched one of my favorite films, Casablanca, in an actual movie theater for the first time in my life this afternoon. I still find the scene where Victor Laszlo leads the café in singing "La Marseillaise"--in the process drowning out the German song being sung by the Nazi officers--one of the most thrilling moments of the silver screen.

marseillaise.jpg

Horsing Around

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Tonight I saw the new production--it was only the fifth performance--of Peter Shaffer's brilliant play Equus, starring Richard Griffiths (who won a Tony last year for his performance in The History Boys) and Daniel Radcliffe (a.k.a. Harry Potter; Griffiths plays Uncle Dudley in the same films, by the way). I had read the play years ago, but I now understand that to appreciate it, one has to see it staged. Anyway, in typical Ned Gallagher fashion, I scammed my way into a private question-and-answer session with the cast, director, producers, and Sir Peter Shaffer after the show (it was part of some benefit for select audience members, but I just stuck around). I met Daniel Radcliffe on my way out; I have strange luck for running into celebrities while leaving a theater in London (e.g., Patrick Stewart, Elton John).

February 21, 2007

Song Of The Day #52

In honor of my return to Wallingford: Simon & Garfunkel's "Homeward Bound."

Simon & Garfunkel - Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme - Homeward Bound

February 22, 2007

Song Of The Day #53

Here's to waking up in my own bed for the first time in many a day: Coldplay's "In My Place."

Coldplay - A Rush of Blood to the Head - In My Place

February 23, 2007

Song Of The Day #54

Something from the early '70s: "Ride Captain Ride" by Blues Image.

Blues Image - Rhino Hi-Five: Blues Image - EP - Ride Captain Ride

February 24, 2007

Song Of The Day #55

This song by Steve Winwood features backing vocals by James Taylor: "Back In The High Life."

Steve Winwood - Back in the High Life - Back in the High Life Again

February 25, 2007

Song Of The Day #56

Here is a live version of Elvis Costello's "Alison."

Elvis Costello - The Bridge School Concerts, Vol. 1 (Live) - Alison

February 26, 2007

A Boring Oscar Night

While it was nice to see Marty Scorsese finally get his Oscar (it sure would have been awkward for his buddies Coppola, Lucas, and Spielberg to present the statue to someone else if he didn't win!) most of the Academy Awards telecast this year was a snore.

Song Of The Day #57

From Sir Bob Geldof and The Boomtown Rats: "I Don't Like Mondays."

The Boomtown Rats - Best of the Boomtown Rats - I Don't Like Mondays

February 27, 2007

Song Of The Day #58

As I am sitting in Bradley Airport, waiting for my flight to Miami, there's only one tune for the day: Jimmy Buffett's "Changes In Latitudes, Changes In Attitudes."

Jimmy Buffett - Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes

February 28, 2007

Song Of The Day #59

A little jazz today: Dave Brubeck's landmark Time Out album contained experiments with musical time. "Take Five"--with its famous 5/4 beat--is probably the best known example.

Dave Brubeck Quartet - Time Out - Take Five

This Show Rocks

I watched Monday night's episode of Heroes tonight and it was incredible. This show is getting better and better.

March 1, 2007

Song Of The Day #60

Muse's "Starlight."

Muse - Black Holes and Revelations - Starlight

Sweeps Month Is Over

My first chance to watch The Office on regular television in months (last week I was in the New England squash seeding meeting and was on the road for two months before that) and it turns out to be a repeat. Boo!

March 2, 2007

Song Of The Day #61

Aruba, Jamaica . . . ooh, I wanna take ya.
Bermuda, Bahama . . . come on, pretty mama.
Key Largo, Montego . . . baby, why don't we go?

Admittedly not The Beach Boys' finest moment, but once I arrive in Aruba this afternoon, I'll have been to all of these places, so "Kokomo" is the song of the day.

The Beach Boys - Sounds of Summer - The Very Best of the Beach Boys - Kokomo

March 3, 2007

Song Of The Day #62

R.E.M. playing "Man On The Moon."

R.E.M. - Automatic for the People - Man On the Moon

Return To The Nile

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I caught back-to-back episodes of Digging For The Truth on The History Channel this afternoon. Both shows brought me back to my time in Egypt a few weeks back, with their backdrops at the Giza Pyramids, the Egyptian Museum, the Valley of Kings, the Karnak temple in Luxor, and Abu Simbel. One episode was about Tutankhamun and the other about Rameses II.

Indiana Jones wanna-be Josh Bernstein, who hosts the program, recently announced he is jumping over to The Discovery Network, which may mean the end of Digging For The Truth, at least as we know it. Bad news for The History Channel, as this has been its highest-rated show.

March 4, 2007

Song Of The Day #63

This song was ubiquitous during my very first Caribbean spring break vacation in 1989 in the Bahamas: "Don't Worry, Be Happy" by Bobby McFerrin.

Bobby McFerrin - Best of Bobby McFerrin - Don't Worry, Be Happy

Steel Drums Forever

The Marriott Surf Club here in Aruba sure is a swell place. Because it's set up as a time-share property, the units are fully furnished with complete kitchens, full living and dining rooms spaces, laundry facilities, etc. There's a marketplace right downstairs to stock the kitchen. The beach is beautiful and the multiple pools are clearly the centerpiece of the resort (although the poolside bar is an interesting concept, in that I've always thought that alcohol and swimming were not the best things to mix together). One of the pools is essentially a river, with a strong current that pulls you around an artificial island as you float your troubles away. The only critique I have is the resort's incessant soundtrack. This place pipes what I'd call "elevator music" all over the grounds, except that all the familiar radio-friendly tunes are performed exclusively by steel drum bands. It was cute at first, but after three days of this tropical treacle, I am about ready to go postal.

March 5, 2007

Song Of The Day #64

Another tropical party tune: "Hot Hot Hot" by Buster Poindexter.

Buster Poindexter - Hot Hot Hot - EP - Hot Hot Hot

Gabriel Allon Returns

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I'm enjoying the latest Daniel Silva spy novel, The Messenger, featuring the adventures of Gabriel Allon, an art restorer who is secretly an Israeli assassin. It's about the sixth in a series of novels featuring this character.

Monday Night Choices

Since 24 and Heroes are airing at the same time--10 p.m. here in Aruba, which is an hour ahead of East Coast time--I had to choose which one to watch live. Then I remembered I bought a Season Pass for 24 on iTunes while I was in Australia, so I'll watch the NBC show now and check out the adventures of Jack Bauer when the episode downloads tomorrow.

I was planning to watch Prison Break in the time slot before, but I realized in the first minute of the show that I had not seen the previous episode, in spite of watching what I thought were the last two shows earlier in the day. So I have to download last week's episode of that show, as well as tonight's, to get current.

March 6, 2007

Song Of The Day #65

Keane's album Under The Iron Sea was everywhere I looked when I was in London in 2006. Here is "A Bad Dream."

Keane - Under the Iron Sea - A Bad Dream

Does Whatever A Spider Can

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At the end of last night's airing of Heroes, NBC ran a short clip from the upcoming Spider-Man 3 flick, then announced there would be seven more minutes of footage posted on the NBC website for the next 24 hours. So I watched it this morning. The clip was basically the fight scene between Peter Parker and the new Green Goblin, Harry Osborne (formerly Peter's best friend). I think this is set in the beginning of the movie (as there are supposed to be two other villains--Sandman and Venom--on tap for the major story). At any rate, the action sequence featured some amazing visuals. I am looking forward to this movie.

March 7, 2007

Song Of The Day #66

David Bowie singing about ch-ch-ch-ch-changes.

David Bowie - Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars - Changes

Silent Bob Speaks

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To get out of the sun for a while this afternoon, I digested two entertaining Kevin Smith Q&A sessions--one in Toronto and another in London--in this international sequel to An Evening With Kevin Smith. (Look up the easter eggs for these DVDs online if you watch them.)

March 8, 2007

Song Of The Day #67

"Change" by Tracy Chapman.

Tracy Chapman - Where You Live - Change

This Series Is Growing On Me

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As an unabashed fan of all things Ricky Gervais--I loved the original British version of The Office and have listened to all the episodes of his podcasts--my initial reaction to the Extras series when it first aired on HBO was mild disappointment. But having seen the entire second season and now taking in the first six episodes again (and the hilarious gag reels) on DVD, it's really quite good.

March 9, 2007

Song Of The Day #68

As I'm about to jump on a flight to Miami, today's song is "Jet Airliner" by The Steve Miller Band.

Steve Miller Band - Book of Dreams - Jet Airliner

March 10, 2007

Song Of The Day #69

I never saw the animated movie Cars when it came out last year--I was traveling at the time, as I recall. So my first exposure to James Taylor singing this beautiful Randy Newman song was the Oscars last week. It's called "Our Town."

James Taylor - Cars - Our Town

Great TV Show

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I am getting into the second season of HBO's The Wire on DVD. This is a terrific show, as good as its press.

March 11, 2007

Song Of The Day #70

Here's one to commemorate the passing of Boston lead singer Brad Delp: "Rock And Roll Band."

Boston - Boston - Rock 'n Roll Band

Cable TV Line-Up

No Sci-Fi Channel among the offerings here at Saddlebrook, so I'll have to wait until tomorrow to download tonight's Battlestar Galactica on iTunes. Also, you would think a tennis-oriented place like this might have The Tennis Channel, too, but no such luck. This means I'll have to wait until Wednesday for my pro tennis fix, when ESPN2 picks up coverage of the Indian Wells event.

At least there are a handful of HBOs to pick from!

March 12, 2007

Song Of The Day #71

A live version of "I Write Sins Not Tragedies" from Panic! At The Disco.

Panic! At the Disco - Live Session (iTunes Exclusive) - EP - I Write Sins Not Tragedies

Dylan Hears A Who

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This is an amusing mash-up of Dr. Seuss lyrics presented in the style of a mid-'60s Bob Dylan album: click here.

March 13, 2007

Song Of The Day #72

Fits Bush's America as much as it did LBJ's in the 1960s: Bob Dylan's "Masters Of War."

Bob Dylan - The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan (Remastered) - Masters of War

300

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Team trip to the movies tonight, where we saw 300, the adaptation of Frank Miller's graphic novel about King Leonidas and 300 Spartans taking on Xerxes and his massive Persian army. Terrific eye candy, which--like Sin City before it--faithfully captured Miller's visuals.

March 14, 2007

Song Of The Day #73

I really like this Sheryl Crow song, "I Know Why."

Sheryl Crow - Wildflower - I Know Why

It Was Twenty Years Ago Today . . .

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. . . well this month, anyway, that U2 released The Joshua Tree, the album that shot the band into the musical stratosphere. Hard to believe it was that long ago! I remember the 1987 tour announcement. I worked the autodial on the phone one Saturday morning in Andover, Massachusetts, trying to get tickets to no avail. But when I moved to Connecticut at the end of the summer, one of the students in my dorm had two tickets to the Boston Garden show but no way to get there. I had a car!

March 15, 2007

Song Of The Day #74

Rob Thomas covers the awesome Smashing Pumpkins tune "1979" for iTunes Originals.

Rob Thomas - iTunes Originals - Rob Thomas - 1979 (iTunes Originals Version)

March 16, 2007

Song Of The Day #75

Billy Joel's "I Go To Extremes."

Billy Joel - Storm Front - I Go to Extremes

March 17, 2007

Song Of The Day #76

In honor of St. Patrick's Day, here is Jerry Lee Lewis and Don Henley teaming up for "What Makes The Irish Heart Beat."

Jerry Lee Lewis featuring Don Henley - Last Man Standing - What Makes the Irish Heart Beat (Featuring Don Henley)

March 18, 2007

Song Of The Day #77

A little country-tinged California rock from the Eagles: "Peaceful Easy Feeling."

Eagles - Eagles - Peaceful Easy Feeling

March 19, 2007

Song Of The Day #78

"Waiting On The World To Change" is the first single from John Mayer's recent release, Continuum.

John Mayer - Continuum - Waiting On the World to Change

March 20, 2007

Song Of The Day #79

As I return to teaching, here is "Start Me Up" by The Rolling Stones.

The Rolling Stones - Tattoo You - Start Me Up

March 21, 2007

Song Of The Day #80

This is "a little ditty" from John Mellencamp (who was then know as John Cougar): "Jack & Diane."

John Cougar - American Fool - Jack & Diane

March 22, 2007

Song Of The Day #81

From my college days: "Rio" by Duran Duran.

Duran Duran - Rio - Rio

March 23, 2007

Song Of The Day #82

One of Prince's best tunes: "Little Red Corvette."

Prince - The Very Best of Prince - Little Red Corvette

March 24, 2007

Song Of The Day #83

The Cars were a favorite band I discovered in ninth grade. From their self-titled debut album, this is "Just What I Needed."

The Cars - The Cars - Just What I Needed

March 25, 2007

Song Of The Day #84

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In honor of Elton John's 60th birthday, here is the live version of "Sixty Years On" from the Live In Australia album.

Elton John - Live in Australia - Sixty Years On

March 26, 2007

Song Of The Day #85

Cheap Trick's "Surrender" is always worth a listen.

Cheap Trick - Cheap Trick: The Greatest Hits - Surrender

March 27, 2007

Song Of The Day #86

Clarence "Frogman" Henry's signature song: "Ain't Got No Home."

Clarence "Frogman" Henry - Ain't Got No Home - The Best Of Clarence "Frogman" Henry - Ain't Got No Home

March 28, 2007

Song Of The Day #87

The best thing in the movie Shrek 2 was this song: "Accidentally In Love" by The Counting Crows.

Counting Crows - Accidentally In Love - Single - Accidentally In Love

March 29, 2007

Song Of The Day #88

Ground control to Major Tom. Thus begins David Bowie's "Space Oddity."

David Bowie - Space Oddity - Space Oddity

March 30, 2007

Song Of The Day #89

This song certainly cleaned up at this year's Grammy Awards: "Not Ready To Make Nice" by The Dixie Chicks.

Dixie Chicks - Taking the Long Way - Not Ready to Make Nice

March 31, 2007

Song Of The Day #90

This is a sweet song by Five For Fighting: "Superman (It's Not Easy)."

Five for Fighting - America Town - Superman (It's Not Easy)

April 1, 2007

Song Of The Day #91

A fitting offering for April 1: "What A Fool Believes" by the Doobie Brothers.

The Doobie Brothers - Minute By Minute - What a Fool Believes

April 2, 2007

Song Of The Day #92

"Linger" by The Cranberries features an etheral vocal track.

The Cranberries - The Cranberries: Stars - The Best of 1992-2002 - Linger

April 3, 2007

Song Of The Day #93

One of Don Henley's best tracks is "The Last Worthless Evening."

Don Henley - The End of the Innocence - The Last Worthless Evening

April 4, 2007

Song Of The Day #94

As we move our tennis scrimmage indoors, "Here Comes The Rain Again" by the Eurythmics seems to fit the bill.

Eurythmics - Ultimate Collection - Here Comes the Rain Again

April 5, 2007

Song Of The Day #95

With The Masters golf tournament getting underway in Augusta today, here is Willie Nelson's cover of "Georgia On My Mind."

Willie Nelson - Stardust - Georgia On My Mind

April 6, 2007

Song Of The Day #96

"Bring 'Em Home" was a popular Pete Seeger tune in the Vietnam era, and Bruce Springsteen covers it in an era in which it has new resonance.

Bruce Springsteen - We Shall Overcome - The Seeger Sessions (American Land Edition) - Bring 'Em Home

April 7, 2007

Song Of The Day #97

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The tune may not be as cool as its album cover, but here is "Surfing With The Alien" by Joe Satriani.

Joe Satriani - Surfing with the Alien - Surfing with the Alien

April 8, 2007

Song Of The Day #98

An interesting article in the "Arts & Leisure" section of today's New York Times makes the point that the "Hallelujah Chorus"--usually associated with Christmas, but an appropriate pick for Easter, too--actually was an anti-Semitic piece intended to celebrate the destruction of Jerusalem.

London Handel Orchestra, Martin Neary & Winchester Cathedral Choir - Handel: Messiah Highlights - Hallelujah (Chorus)

April 9, 2007

Song Of The Day #99

CItizen Cope's "If There's Love" is a great first-thing-in-the-morning song.

Citizen Cope - Citizen Cope - If There's Love

Nutshell Television Reviews

Season (half-season, technically) premiere of The Sopranos: pretty good.

Season premiere of Entourage: kinda weak.

Latest installment of 24: so-so episode, which surprisingly wraps up the search for the suitcase nukes and now the season apparently will pivot to Jack's search for Audrey, who is being held by the Chinese, for its final seven hours.

April 10, 2007

Song Of The Day #100

Hitting the century mark on the Song Of The Day gig, here is U2's "Walk On."

U2 - All That You Can't Leave Behind - Walk On

April 11, 2007

Song Of The Day #101

"Movin' Out" is the opening track on Billy Joel's breakthrough 1977 album The Stranger.

Billy Joel - The Stranger - Movin' Out (Anthony's Song)

Gradually Answering Questions

I have the sense that Lost is starting to provide more answers to at least some of the long-standing questions that have hovered over the series since its start in 2004. Tonight, for example, we learned how "the others" know so much about the Flight 815 survivors. This kind of payoff keeps me tuning in.

April 12, 2007

Song Of The Day #102

I love this tune: "Me And Julio Down By The Schoolyard" by Paul Simon.

Paul Simon - Paul Simon - Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard

Andy's Back!

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Yes! Ed Helms returns to The Office as Andy . . . sorry, it's DREW now . . . Bernard. This character adds so much to the interaction at Dunder Mifflin.

April 13, 2007

Song Of The Day #103

This Chicago song--"Wishing You Were Here"--should not be confused with the Pink Floyd cut bearing a similar name.

Chicago - Chicago VII - Wishing You Were Here

April 14, 2007

Song Of The Day #104

Peter Frampton also covered" Signed, Sealed, Delivered," but here is Stevie Wonder's version.

Stevie Wonder - Stevie Wonder: The Definitive Collection - Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours

April 15, 2007

Song Of The Day #105

Here is "You Gotta Be" by Des'ree.

Des'ree - I Ain't Movin' - You Gotta Be

April 16, 2007

Song Of The Day #106

This is Pearl Jam's faithful cover of "Love, Reign O'er Me," the classic cut from The Whos' Quadrophenia.

Pearl Jam - Love, Reign O'er Me (As Featured In the Motion Picture "Reign Over Me") - Single - Love, Reign O'er Me

April 17, 2007

Song Of The Day #107

No iTunes link for this one (yet): in observation of today's IRS filing deadline, here is "Taxman" by The Beatles.

April 18, 2007

Song Of The Day #108

From the timeless Who's Next album: "Gettin' In Tune" by The Who.

The Who - Who's Next - Gettin' In Tune

April 19, 2007

Song Of The Day #109

Here's a taste of '80s nostalgia: Devo's "Whip It."

Devo - Freedom of Choice - Whip It

April 20, 2007

Song Of The Day #110

Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Tuesday's Gone."

Lynyrd Skynyrd - The Essential Lynyrd Skynyrd - Tuesday's Gone

April 21, 2007

Song Of The Day #111

"Taking You Home" is by Don Henley.

Don Henley - Inside Job - Taking You Home

April 22, 2007

Song Of The Day #112

This Dylan song--"It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)"--contains one of my all-time favorite musical lines: he not busy being born is busy dying.

Bob Dylan - Bringing It All Back Home (Remastered) - It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)

April 23, 2007

Song Of The Day #113

I've always found this song--"Something To Talk About" by Bonnie Raitt--irresistible.

The Return Of Heroes

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Heroes returned to the NBC line-up tonight--the first new episode in nearly two months. The final arc of the season is underway and the show is as entertaining as ever.

April 24, 2007

Song Of The Day #114

Here is Willie Nelson covering a song made famous by Kermit The Frog: "Rainbow Connection."

Willie Nelson - Rainbow Connection - The Rainbow Connection

R.I.P. David Halberstam

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David Halberstam died this week in a car accident in California. He enjoyed a distinguished career as a journalist and a sportswriter. I admire the versatility with which he alternated his work between "serious" topics and sport; of course, I'd argue he approached the latter with the same seriousness of purpose he brought to all his coverage of politics and culture. I've enjoyed a number of his books, which I've always found well written and provocative.

One personal anecdote came to mind in the wake of his passing: some years ago when I was teaching the Vietnam War elective here at Choate, I included excerpts from The Best And The Brightest, Halberstam's book on the genesis of the war among American politicians, on my syllabus. Well, one day Halberstam was visiting the Choate campus--I think one of his children was an applicant--and the tour guide was one of my students enrolled at that time in The U.S. In Vietnam. The good news was that this student told Mr. Halberstam that he was reading The Best And The Brightest as part of his coursework and found it fascinating. The bad news was that he let on that Halberstam's book had been distributed in (royalty-free) photocopy form! D'oh!

Anyway, we will miss this man of letters and his urbane and humane voice.

April 25, 2007

Song Of The Day #115

This Carly Simon song, "You're So Vain," features Mick Jagger on backing vocals.

Carly Simon - Reflections - Carly Simon's Greatest Hits - You're So Vain

April 26, 2007

Song Of The Day #116

"You Better You Bet" by The Who.

The Who - Face Dances - You Better You Bet

April 27, 2007

Song Of The Day #117

This was a big hit for a fictional band: "I Think I Love You" by The Partridge Family.

The Partridge Family - Partridge Family Album - I Think I Love You

A Return To Opera

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I am about to leave for New York City for the second day in a row--this time to see a production of the Handel opera Giulio Cesare at The Met. This will be my fourth trip to the opera in the past six months, and my fourth time at The Met.

April 28, 2007

Hail Caesar

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I enjoyed the Handel opera Giulio Cesare, loosely based on Caesar's historical campaign in Egypt and the intertwining of sex and politics in his relationship with Cleopatra.

Song Of The Day #118

A bit of mid-'80s nostalgia: Prince's "I Would Die 4 U."

Prince & The Revolution - Purple Rain (Soundtrack from the Motion Picture) - I Would Die 4 U

April 29, 2007

Song Of The Day #119

The unmistakeable sound of Rush--here is "Tom Sawyer."

Rush - Moving Pictures (Remastered) - Tom Sawyer

Best Netflix Customer Ever

. . . from the company's point of view, at least!

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I pay about $10 a month to rent a succession of movies. Not a bad deal: it's convenient, shipping is easy, there is wide selection of DVDs available.

The problem, from my point of view, is that the last disc shipped to me was City Of God, in late December 2006. Now, of course, I have been traveling around the world much of the time since then. But in the five weeks plus since I've been home for spring term, I have yet to watch this movie. So I am paying about $120 a year to rent 2-3 DVDs. They must love me at Netflix Central!

April 30, 2007

Song Of The Day #120

Eric Clapton's "Let It Grow" used to be a staple of the Whimowehs, the female a cappella group on the Choate campus.

Eric Clapton - 461 Ocean Boulevard - Let It Grow

Hiro of Heroes

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Hiro Nakamura may be the most interesting character on television right now. Don't miss Heroes on NBC.

May 1, 2007

Song Of The Day #121

This is an early-era Ol' Blue Eyes take on "Almost Like Being In Love"

Frank Sinatra - Portrait of Sinatra - Columbia Classics - Almost Like Being in Love (Alternate Take)

This Looks Pretty Cool

Check this out.

You Don't Have To Turn On The Red Light

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My tickets for The Police concert in East Hartford on July 31 have come through! Sweet!

May 2, 2007

Song Of The Day #122

"Money For Nothing" by The Dire Straits was co-written by Sting, who also appears as a backing vocalist on the track.

Dire Straits - Brothers In Arms - Money for Nothing

May 3, 2007

Song Of The Day #123

This is a classic cut from the landmark Stones album Exile On Main Street: "Tumbling Dice."

The Rolling Stones - Exile on Main St. - Tumbling Dice

Appreciating The Office

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Another strong episode of The Office tonight. This show is firing on all cylinders now--like All In The Family, Cheers, or Seinfeld in their prime, this sitcom is consistently funny, features deftly drawn characters, and brilliant plotting.

May 4, 2007

Song Of The Day #124

This is "Takin' Care of Business" by Bachman Turner Overdrive.

Bachman-Turner Overdrive - Takin' Care of Business - Takin' Care of Business

The Third Spidey Installment

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This movie was a mixed bag for me. It didn't have the humor or the energy of the second installment (which benefitted, I think, from a Michael Chabon script). The pacing of this one seemed off and there was a bit too much in the way of weepy moments and speech-making throughout. I heard plenty of snickers and groans in the theater at different points in the film. There were some good moments and certainly lots of interesting eye candy, but overall I'd rate Spider-Man 3 disappointing.

May 5, 2007

Song Of The Day #125

One of my very favorite songs: "Comfortably Numb" by Pink Floyd.

Pink Floyd - The Wall - Comfortably Numb

May 6, 2007

Song Of The Day #126

I heard Arlo Guthrie perform his famous "Alice's Restaurant Massacree" in Chapin Hall at Williams College back in the day.

Arlo Guthrie - Alice's Restaurant Massacree - 40th Anniversary - Alice's Restaurant Massacree - 40th Anniversary

May 7, 2007

Song Of The Day #127

"Power Of Love," by Huey Lewis & The News, was featured in the 1985 classic Back To The Future, and Lewis had a bit part in the film, too.

Huey Lewis & The News - Greatest Hits: Huey Lewis & The News - The Power of Love

May 8, 2007

Song Of The Day #128

"Take It Easy" is widely known as an Eagles song, but it was co-written by Jackson Browne, who covered it on his For Everyman album.

Jackson Browne - For Everyman - Take It Easy

But This One Goes To 11

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A amusing new Spinal Tap mini-film has been posted. Check it out here.

May 9, 2007

Song Of The Day #129

Kenny Loggins supposedly wrote this song about his gravely ill father: "This Is It."

Kenny Loggins - The Essential Kenny Loggins - This Is It

A Kick-Ass Episode Of Lost

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Tonight's Lost was AMAZING. The backstory was that of Ben, the leader of "The Others," and it provided some answers (and of course planted a few more key questions) to the series mythology. And what a surprise ending!

May 10, 2007

Song Of The Day #130

This is a nifty little ditty: "The Geeks Get The Girls" by American Hi-Fi.

American Hi-Fi - The Geeks Get the Girls - Single - The Geeks Get the Girls

May 11, 2007

Song Of The Day #131

An unusual dance tune from me: "Funkytown" by an assemblage of studio musicians performing as Lipps Inc.

Lipps, Inc. - Funkytown - Funkytown

May 12, 2007

Song Of The Day #132

Sting's "If I Ever Lose My Faith In You."

Sting - Ten Summoner's Tales - If I Ever Lose My Faith in You

Smodcast

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Smodcast is an entertaining podcast by Kevin Smith and Scott Mosier, the directing/producing team behind such flims as Clerks, Chasing Amy, and Dogma. You can access it here.

May 13, 2007

Song Of The Day #133

This is Warren Zevon performing a live version of his "Werewolves Of London."

Warren Zevon - Learning to Flinch - Werewolves of London

The Stuff You Find On YouTube

I didn't know President Bush performed U2 covers: check it out.

May 14, 2007

Song Of The Day #134

Here' a Beach Boys hit: "I Get Around."

The Beach Boys - Sounds of Summer - The Very Best of the Beach Boys - I Get Around

Another Weekly Paean To Heroes

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This weekly pile of admiration is no doubt getting repetitive, but Heroes demonstrates week after week that it is truly a great show.

May 15, 2007

Song Of The Day #135

Great synthesizer riffs on ELO's "Turn To Stone."

Electric Light Orchestra - Afterglow - Turn to Stone

May 16, 2007

Song Of The Day #136

I think it was a car commercial that first turned me on to Ella Fitzgerald's cover of this Cole Porter song, "Love For Sale." It's a great track.

Ella Fitzgerald - The Cole Porter Songbook, Vol. 2 - Love for Sale

May 17, 2007

Song Of The Day #137

This is actually a song from a Mad Max movie: Tina Turner's "We Don't Need Another Hero."

Tina Turner - Tina Turner: The Collected Recordings - We Don't Need Another Hero (Thunderdome)

The Office Season Finale

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Man, do I love The Office! Week after week, the plot set-ups, the throwaway lines, and the sharply drawn minor characters all amaze me. Great writing, great acting, great comedy.

May 18, 2007

Song Of The Day #138

This version of James Taylor singing "Something In The Way She Moves" is priceless. He re-recorded the song for his mid-1970s Greatest Hits package and this is a far superior take than the cut on the James Taylor debut album on Apple Records. (By the way, George Harrison apparently was so taken by the first line of the song that he appropriated it for his "Something" on Abbey Road.)

James Taylor - James Taylor: Greatest Hits - Something in the Way She Moves

May 19, 2007

Song Of The Day #139

This is my favorite Aerosmith song: "What It Takes."

Aerosmith - Pump - What It Takes

May 20, 2007

Song Of The Day #140

Who doesn't like "Summer Of '69" by Bryan Adams?

Bryan Adams - Reckless - Summer of '69

May 21, 2007

Song Of The Day #141

"I'm A Believer," a big hit for The Monkees, was penned by Neil Diamond.
The Monkees - The Best of the Monkees - I'm a Believer

Season Finales

I watched the last episode of the Heroes season tonight (not bad, though not as good as it could have been). I will check out the final two hours of 24 Day 6 after they download tomorrow.

May 22, 2007

Song Of The Day #142

This is a lesser-known Elton John tune from the Madman Across The Water album called "Razor Face."

Elton John - Madman Across the Water - Razor Face

May 23, 2007

Song Of The Day #143

For a while when it was still new, this Five For Fighting song, "100 Years," popped up as background music on all sorts of television shows:

Five for Fighting - The Battle for Everything - 100 Years

A Strong Finish

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The third season of Lost ended in style, with a gripping two-hour season finale that threw in a few nice twists in the closing minutes. This season the drama wandered a bit, but seems to have regained its footing in the home stretch.

May 24, 2007

Song Of The Day #144

Here's an ol' James Taylor thang: "Shower The People."

James Taylor - In the Pocket - Shower the People

This Movie Is Rated Aarrrrrrr

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Opening night for Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World's End. A decent, if somewhat tired, flick. It was not as disappointing as the third Spider-Man installment, but probably the weakest of the three Pirates entries.

May 25, 2007

Song Of The Day #145

Thirty years ago today, Star Wars was released. (No "Episode IV." No "A New Hope." Just "Star Wars." And Han shot first.) This is the music from the closing scene.

John Williams - John Williams Conducts John Williams: The Star Wars Trilogy - Throne Room and Finale (From "Star Wars, Episode IV: A New Hope")

May 26, 2007

Song Of The Day #146

How about a little Talking Heads? Here is "Burning Down The House."

Talking Heads - Speaking in Tongues - Burning Down the House

May 27, 2007

Song Of The Day #147

Loverboy: "Working For The Weekend." For the holiday weekend and the end of term!

Loverboy - Get Lucky - Working for the Weekend

May 28, 2007

Song Of The Day #148

"No Surrender" by Bruce Springsteen.

Bruce Springsteen - Born in the U.S.A. - No Surrender

May 29, 2007

Song Of The Day #149

The video for Madonna's "Like A Prayer" was very controversial when it debuted in the 1980s.

Madonna - Like a Prayer - Like a Prayer

May 30, 2007

Song Of The Day #150

Sheryl Crow's "Soak Up The Sun" fits this time of year pretty well.

Sheryl Crow - C'Mon C'Mon - Soak Up the Sun

May 31, 2007

Song Of The Day #151

"Waterfalls" by TLC is in my head, having sat under the waterfall in a little town called Rockfall several times the past few days.

TLC - Crazysexycool - Waterfalls

June 1, 2007

Song Of The Day #152

The last day of school means a little Alice Cooper, of course: "School's Out."

Alice Cooper - School's Out - School's Out

It Was 40 Years Ago Today . . .

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. . . that The Beatles released their seminal album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Time flies!

Sweet Charity

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I saw the school's production of Sweet Charity tonight. I was entirely unfamiliar with the show itself (although two of the musical numbers--"Hey Big Spender" and "If My Friends Could See Me Now"--I clearly had heard before). The performances this evening were pretty good, but I'm not sure how wild I am about the show.

June 2, 2007

Song Of The Day #153

Seal re-recorded his biggest hit, "Kiss From A Rose," in this acoustic rendition.

Seal - Seal: Best 1991-2004 - Kiss from a Rose (Acoustic Version)

June 3, 2007

Song Of The Day #154

"Never Die Young" by James Taylor is a song I always associate with graduation day, especially these lines:
I guess it had to happen someday soon
Wasn't nothing to hold them down
They would rise from among us like a big balloon
Take the sky and forsake the ground

Oh, yes, other hearts were broken
Yeah, other dreams ran dry
But our golden ones sail on, sail on
To another land beneath another sky


James Taylor - Never Die Young - Never Die Young

Endgame

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In the past ten days or so, I've gotten caught up with The Sopranos. Tonight's penultimate episode was the first one I've watched live this season. Things are pretty clearly coming to a head for Tony, his family, and his crew, and I am glad I'll be home next Sunday night for the conclusion before I head to Europe the following day.

June 4, 2007

Song Of The Day #155

Mungo Jerry's "In The Summertime" captures the feel of this first day without students on campus.

Mungo Jerry - The Very Best of Mungo Jerry - In the Summertime

June 5, 2007

Song Of The Day #156

Paul McCartney's catalogue appeared on the iTunes Music Store last week--the first Beatles-related recordings to surface there in the wake of the Apple Computer/Apple Records settlement a few months back. I purchased this song, "Give Ireland Back to the Irish," in the iTunes Plus format: 256 kbps format without DRM. (I can't really tell the difference!) The song was banned by the BBC when it was released in early 1972.

Paul McCartney & Wings - Wild Life - Give Ireland Back to the Irish

June 6, 2007

Song Of The Day #157

Proof that I actually DO listen to music released after 1985: here is "If There's Love" by Citizen Cope.

Citizen Cope - Citizen Cope - If There's Love

Knocked Up

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Just got in from seeing the new Judd Apatow comedy Knocked Up. It's pretty entertaining: funny, sweet, and even provocative. Thumbs up.

June 7, 2007

Song Of The Day #158

"Synchronicity II" by The Police is a catchy tune about a man who comes home at the end of the day with malice on his mind!

The Police - Synchronicity - Synchronicity II

June 8, 2007

Song Of The Day #159

From The Little Mermaid soundtrack, this is "Under The Sea."

Samuel E. Wright - Little Mermaid - An Original Walt Disney Records Soundtrack - Under the Sea

June 9, 2007

Ocean's 13

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Just got in from seeing Ocean's 13. It's gotten very strong reviews, but I thought it was just so-so. Not the train wreck that the first sequel was, but nowhere near as charming or witty (or comprehensible) as the original (which was a remake, of course).

Song Of The Day #160

"She Drives Me Crazy" by Fine Young Cannibals is an '80s staple that seems to pop up in movie trailers all the time.

Fine Young Cannibals - The Raw & the Cooked - She Drives Me Crazy

June 10, 2007

A Brilliant Film

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It was a quiet Saturday night for me. I finished my adviser reports late in the afternoon, caught up with Austin Ogilvie '05 over dinner, and then watched a film I hadn't seen when it was in theatrical release: Alfonso CuarĂłn's Children Of Men. This movie was one of the best I have seen in recent memory: skillfully made with stunning camerawork and a thought-provoking script. If you haven't seen this one yet, don't wait!

Song Of The Day #161

Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers present "Mary Jane's Last Dance."

Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers - Greatest Hits - Mary Jane's Last Dance

Ciao, Tony

The Sopranos is over.

I am one of those who thought my cable went on the fritz in the closing moments of the show, when the cut to black mid-scene amidst all that tension in the restauarant was nearly unbearable. Upon reflection, there was probably no better way to end the show. Expectations of Tony's demise were everywhere, but it would have been the easy way out. Better to leave things to the audience's imagination. In my mind, Tony and Carmela and the kids go on with life as usual--or at least what passes for it in the strange world they inhabit.

June 11, 2007

Song Of The Day #162

In light of my flight to London tonight, here is John Denver's "Leaving On A Jet Plane."

John Denver - John Denver's Greatest Hits - Leaving on a Jet Plane

June 12, 2007

Song Of The Day #163

This is "London Calling" by The Clash.

The Clash - London Calling - London Calling

The Royal Opera

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I attended the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden this evening for a production of Beethoven's lone opera, Fidelio. Frankly, I was worried that the jet lag would kick in and I would be nodding off. But the opera was better than I expected, with an intriguing storyline and solid performances. Plus I think I got plenty of sleep on the flight over--more than I usually do--and a very brief nap late in the afternoon, so I didn't fade at all. My seat was in the upper slips, high up on the side of the auditorium, but it was much cheaper because of that and the view was pretty good (though stage left was mostly out of sight). A good night out.

June 13, 2007

Song Of The Day #164

"Vacation" by The Go-Gos nicely sums up my state of mind today.

The Go-Go's - Vacation - Vacation

June 14, 2007

Song Of The Day #165

For tight vocal harmonies, no one is better than Crosby, Stills & Nash. This is "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes."

Crosby, Stills & Nash - Crosby, Stills & Nash - Suite - Judy Blue Eyes

June 15, 2007

Song Of The Day #166

Composer Edvard Grieg was a local in Bergen, so here is his unforgettable "In The Hall Of The Mountain King" from the Peer Gynt suites.

Academy of St. Martin in the Fields & Sir Neville Marriner - Grieg: Peer Gynt - Peer Gynt, Op. 23: No. 7, In the Hall of the Mountain King

June 16, 2007

Song Of The Day #167

As I find myself in Norway this morning, here is the country's best known band (a-ha) performings its biggest hit ("Take On Me").

a-ha - Hunting High and Low - Take On Me

June 17, 2007

Song Of The Day #168

This is "You're A God" by Vertical Horizon.

Vertical Horizon - Everything You Want - You're a God

June 18, 2007

Song Of The Day #169

"Nowegian Wood" is by The Beatles. (iTunes link coming someday!)

June 19, 2007

Song Of The Day #170

This Fleetwood Mac song led to a generation of baby girls actually being named after its title character, "Rhiannon."

Fleetwood Mac - Fleetwood Mac - Rhiannon

Reconnecting To The Wire

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I am plugging back into the second season of HBO’s The Wire on DVD, my enjoyment of which got sidetracked mid-course at the beginning of the spring term (funny how school being in session does that to me). With the bounty of unscheduled time now available to me, I am also re-engaging my reading of The Brothers Karamazov, which I also left mid-stream a few months back.

June 20, 2007

Song Of The Day #171

Probably an obvious pick from here in Sweden: "Dancing Queen" by ABBA.

ABBA - ABBA - Gold - Greatest Hits - Dancing Queen

June 21, 2007

Next Up: Season Three

Just finished Season 2 of The Wire. This is a GREAT show. On to the next season.

Song Of The Day #172

From the brilliant Graceland album, this is Paul Simon performing "Diamonds On the Soles Of Her Shoes."

Paul Simon - Graceland - Diamonds On the Soles of Her Shoes (Remastered Version)

Deathly Hallows Await

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One month until the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows!

June 22, 2007

Song Of The Day #173

"No Reply At All" is one of the hallmarks of the "Phil Collins era" of Genesis.

Genesis - Abacab

Guess Who's Coming Back?

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Yesterday Steven Spielberg took this picture of Harrison Ford, back in costume for the first time since 1989 as a certain "professor of archaeology, expert on the occult, and . . . how does one say it? . . . obtainer of rare antiquities."

Mark your calendars for May 22, 2008!

Happy 30th Birthday Star Wars!

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Has it really been thirty years since Star Wars arrived on the scene? This was the ULTIMATE summer movie when it came out. It stood on its own: no trilogy, no prequels, no "Episode IV" or "A New Hope" revisionism, no Greedo shooting first, and no knowledge that Vader was Luke's father.

I saw the movie with my family as a birthday present. This was in August, though the movie had been released it late May. Back then, it was common for films to have a limited release and then gradually appear on more and more screens. These days, a blockbuster has a huge weekend or two on thousands of screens and that's pretty much it until the DVD arrives a few months later. Star Wars was nothing like that: it had "legs," as they say in the business. Even when I saw it, months after its premiere, there was a line of people snaking around the cinema in the rain. And of course lots of folks saw Star Wars multiple times in the theater (this was in the era before home video took off). I remember going with my 8th-grade science class to see a 70mm print of the film on an enormous screen at some point in the fall, so it was still going strong then.

I loved Star Wars from the very start. I was probably the perfect age for it. Everything about the movie was exciting: the visuals, the soundtrack, the characters, the action. Most people I knew in my junior high universe loved it too (though not my parents--the one word I remember from their review was "corny"!)

It absolutely astounds me to think that there are teenagers today who have NEVER seen any of the Star Wars six films, even after they were re-released in the theaters with upgraded special effects and distributed on DVD more recently.

June 23, 2007

Song Of The Day #174

This song sold a lot of ketchup back in the 1970s: "Anticipation" by Carly Simon.

Carly Simon - Reflections: Carly Simon's Greatest Hits - Anticipation

The Rise Of The Silver Surfer

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I took in a movie this afternoon, the Fantastic Four sequel. The bad news: a cinema ticket in the west end set me back ÂŁ13--which is nearly $26! Pretty outrageous. The good news is that the film was more enjoyable than its lukewarm reviews suggested it would be. It was nothing deep, but a fairly enjoyable comic book flick.

June 24, 2007

Song Of The Day #175

Silver rain was falling down
Upon the dirty ground of London Town

Good lyrics for a wet Sunday morning in the British capital.

Wings - London Town - London Town

A Quiet Sunday in London

The shops in London are open between noon and 6 p.m. on Sundays, so I had a limited window to stop by my London office (a.k.a. the Regent Street Apple Store) for Internet connectivity, get some lunch, and run a few errands.

I opted not to see a West End show this trip, in part because there is nothing here I am particularly dying to see, and in part because it would cost me a fortune with the current exchange rate and I've already spent enough on this vacation. I am sorry I missed Sir Ian McKellen as Lear up in Stratford by just a day; I'd have headed north for that if the timing worked out. But instead I booked tickets today to two Broadway shows for this Wednesday: a matinee of Inherit The Wind (which I starred in as a high school senior, though not on Broadway!) and an evening production of Spring Awakening, which did so well at the Tony Awards a couple weeks back.

His Dark Materials

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Tonight I finished The Golden Compass, volume one in Philip Pullman's "His Dark Materials" trilogy. I picked up the book in a Stockholm science fiction bookstore and it was a gripping fantasy. I can't wait to get to the sequels, which Amazon is now sending my way back home.

June 25, 2007

Song Of The Day #176

My strongest memory of this song is over the P.A. while waiting for the start of U2 on the band's last concerttour: Modest Mouse, "Float On."

Modest Mouse - Good News for People Who Love Bad News - Float On

June 26, 2007

Song Of The Day #177

This is Supertramp's "The Logical Song."

Supertramp - Breakfast in America - The Logical Song

June 27, 2007

Song Of The Day #178

Almost thirty years ago, the four members of Kiss released solo albums. One of them--by Ace Frehley--yielded this hit: "New York Groove." I'm heading into Manhattan in few hours, so I'll be "back in the New York groove" myself.

Ace Frehley - Kiss: Ace Frehley - New York Groove

Inherit The Wind

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I just finished watching a matinee performance of Inherit The Wind on Broadway, starring Christopher Plummer and Brian Dennehy. It brought back a lot of memories, as I played Henry Drummond (the Plummer role) in my senior year of high school. Some of the lines were dredged up from deep memories as I watched the performance.

June 28, 2007

Spring Awakening

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Just got home from New York, having seen the evening performance of Spring Awakening, the 2007 Tony winner for Best Musical. (How's this for a minor connection: the composer, Duncan Sheik, lived in my house as a tenth grader in my first year of teaching at Andover.) The production itself was incredibly energetic; it's easy to see why this show has so many enthusiastic adherents.

Song Of The Day #179

From Spring Awakening, the Broadway show I saw last night, this is "Touch Me."

Brian Johnson, Gideon Glick, Jonathan B. Wright, Jonathan Groff, Jr. John Gallagher, Lauren Pritchard, Lea Michele, Lilli Cooper, Phoebe Strole, Remy Zaken & Skylar Astin - Spring Awakening - Touch Me

Spring Awakening II

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I guess a sign of good art is that its effects linger. I still have the images, songs, and energy of Spring Awakening in my head 24 hours later.

June 29, 2007

Song Of The Day #180

My favorite band in junior high school was Styx. "Fooling Yourself (Angry Young Man)" was a single from the band's 1977 release The Grand Illusion.

Styx - The Grand Illusion - Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man)

Yippee-Ki-Yay

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Not one to pass up a summer blockbuster, I digested Live Free Or Die Hard this evening. Granted that I checked my brain at the door for this preposterous flick, it was reasonably entertaining.

June 30, 2007

Song Of The Day #181

Guns N' Roses brought us some hellacious guitar licks on "Sweet Child O' Mine."

Guns N' Roses - Appetite for Destruction - Sweet Child O' Mine

July 1, 2007

Song Of The Day #182

After watching tennis yesterday, "Saturday In The Park" by Chicago seemed like an apt choice.

Chicago - Chicago V (Remastered) - Saturday In the Park

July 2, 2007

Song Of The Day #183

This was a free iTunes download when it came out. Dolly Parton sang this song, "Travelin' Thru," on the Oscars telecast back in 2006 (it was the theme from Transamerica, a film I watched on a flight back from Beijing which turned out to be pretty good).

Dolly Parton - Transamerica (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) - Travelin' Thru

The Subtle Knife

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I wrapped up volume two in the "His Dark Materials" trilogy--The Subtle Knife--and will dive into the third novel tomorrow.

July 3, 2007

Song Of The Day #184

From the Fast Times At Ridgemont High soundtrack: this is "Boulevard" by Jackson Browne.

Jackson Browne - Hold Out - Boulevard

July 4, 2007

Song Of The Day #185

It's the Fourth of July. Here is "America" by Simon & Garfunkel.

Simon & Garfunkel - The Best of Simon & Garfunkel - America

Transformers

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It being a rainy afternoon, I went to the movies and saw Transformers. The movie was reasonably enjoyable, but the last half hour or so just got boring (and too loud). The gimmick of watching a car become a giant-sized robot had lost its charm far earlier in the flick. I guess it didn't help that I missed the toy craze that inspired all of this.

July 5, 2007

Song Of The Day #186

The Monkees give us "Daydream Believer."

The Monkees - The Best of the Monkees - Daydream Believer

My Neighbor Dr. Jones

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Steven Spielberg and Harrison Ford have been at work just twenty minutes down the road from me in New Haven, filming scenes for the fourth Indiana Jones installment. I'm sorely tempted to head down for a look, but I'm sure security is tight and there's not much to see.

July 6, 2007

Song Of The Day #187

A slice of mellow from the early '70s: Seals & Croft performing "Summer Breeze."

Seals & Crofts - Summer Breeze - Summer Breeze

July 7, 2007

Song Of The Day #188

Bob Dylan gave us "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue."

Bob Dylan - Bringing It All Back Home - It's All Over Now, Baby Blue

July 8, 2007

Song Of The Day #189

From the one-hit-wonder file, this is "I Got You" by the Split Enz.

Split Enz - True Colours - I Got You

July 9, 2007

Song Of The Day #190

Duuuude . . . it's the Dead! The classic "Casey Jones."

Grateful Dead - Workingman's Dead - Casey Jones

July 10, 2007

What A Rush

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I went to Mohegan Sun to see Rush in concert tonight. My friend Scott, who is something of a Rush expert as well as a drummer, was psyched to be seeing Neil Peart in action. It was an enjoyable show, with particularly strong production values, especially the great mix of video screens, computer animation, lighting, and pyrotechnics. I knew perhaps a third of the songs, but it was hard not to get swept up in the energy of the show. Here are a couple of pics from my Treo:
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Song Of The Day #191

A highlight of last night's Rush show: "Spirit Of Radio."

Rush - Chronicles - Spirit of Radio

Rush Set List

Here is the set list from last night's Rush concert at Mohegan Sun:


Limelight
Digital Man
Entre Nous
Mission
Free Will
The Main Monkey Business
The Larger Bowl
Secret Touch
Circumstances
Between The Wheels
Dreamline

intermission

Far Cry
Working Them Angels
Armor And Sword
Spindrift
The Way The Wind Blows
Subdivisions
Natural Science
Witch Hunt
Malignant Narcissism
drum solo
Hope
Summertime Blues
The Spirit Of Radio
Tom Sawyer

encore:
One Little Victory
A Passage To Bangkok
YYZ

July 11, 2007

Song Of The Day #192

Ben Folds provides a nifty cover of the Elton John classic "Tiny Dancer."

Ben Folds - Ben Folds Live

Harry Potter 5

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I took the kids in the Kennedy Institute program to see Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix today. It was pretty entertaining, but clearly darker than its cinematic predecessors. Imelda Staunton was spot on as sickeningly-sweet Dolores Umbridge. The stars of British acting were reassembled for the picture, but most of them didn't have much to do. The film is the shortest Potter flick yet, though the novel it was based on is the longest.

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July 12, 2007

Song Of The Day #193

I don't know how this tune--"I've Got No Strings" from the Disney Pinnochio movie--got into my head, but it's there this morning. This cover is by The Andrews Sisters, backed by Glenn Miller's orchestra.

Glenn Miller & The Andrews Sisters - Glenn Miller and the Andrews Sisters - The Chesterfield Broadcasts - I've Got No Strings

Goodbye Studio 60

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NBC burned off the last few episodes of Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip this spring. I recorded them on my DVR and am now catching up with the final gasps of the now-cancelled show. Too bad Aaron Sorkin's post-The West Wing project wasn't able to live up to its early hype.

July 13, 2007

Song Of The Day #194

This song kicks in with a little drum machine action: "I Don't Care Anymore" by Phil Collins.

Phil Collins - Hello, I Must Be Going! - I Don't Care Anymore

July 14, 2007

Song Of The Day #195

From his Stardust collection of standards, this is Willie Nelson's take on "Moonlight In Vermont."

Willie Nelson - Stardust - Moonlight In Vermont

Connecticut Boy Comes Home

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I saw John Mayer at the New England Dodge Music Center (which I still call "The Meadows") up in Hartford tonight. Ben Folds was the support act and did a fun, if largely forgettable, set. Mayer was in good form after a week's break in his tour, and of course Connecticut being his home state, he seemed fired up to play in front of family and friends. Sorta like Springsteen at the Meadowlands, I guess. Anyway, he opened with "No Such Thing" and worked his way through a good selection from Continuum as well as older standouts. Whenever I go to a concert, I have a mental checklist of what I hope to hear, and Mayer hit most of them ("No Such Thing," "Neon," "Waiting On The World To Change," "Georgia Why," "Gravity"). I confess to having a soft spot in my heart for "Daughters," and that was the obvious omission from my list. But it was a great show overall.

Most of my Treo snapshots from the night are worthless, but this one is passable:
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July 15, 2007

Song Of The Day #196

"Georgia Why" was a crowd pleaser at last night's John Mayer show.

John Mayer - Room for Squares - Why Georgia

Mayer Set List

Here is the set list from last night's John Mayer concert in Hartford:


No Such Thing
Belief
Good Love Is On the Way
I Don't Trust Myself (With Loving You)
Neon
Dreaming With A Broken Heart
Waiting On The World to Change
Vultures
Bigger Than My Body
I Don't Need No Doctor
Why Georgia
Gravity

encore:
Slow Dancing (acoustic)
Your Body Is A Wonderland (acoustic)
I'm Gonna Find Another You

July 16, 2007

Song Of The Day #197

MIKA has crafted a catchy and tuneful number in "Grace Kelly."

MIKA - Life In Cartoon Motion - Grace Kelly

July 17, 2007

Song Of The Day #198

"Won't Get Fooled Again," by The Who, contains the greatest scream in rock history.

The Who - Who's Next - Won't Get Fooled Again

July 18, 2007

Song Of The Day #199

One of my favorite James Taylor songs: "Sarah Maria."

James Taylor - Gorilla - Sarah Maria

July 19, 2007

Song Of The Day #200

Squeeze performs "Tempted."

Squeeze - Squeeze: Greatest Hits - Tempted

Spoiler-Free Zone

Just over 24 hours until the release of the final Harry Potter tome. Apparently the Internet is buzzing with spoilers. Why anyone would go out of his way to find out the ending beforehand is a mystery to me. I am planning to scrupulously avoid TV and the Internet until I finish the book sometime after Amazon delivers it to me on Saturday morning.

July 20, 2007

Song Of The Day #201

Today is a travel day, so here is one of the greatest all-time driving tunes: "Jessica" by The Allman Brothers.

The Allman Brothers Band - The Road Goes On Forever (Remastered) - Jessica

July 21, 2007

Song Of The Day #202

For Harry Potter: Heart's "Magic Man."

Heart - Dreamboat Annie - Magic Man

Harry Arrives On Schedule

Look what was waiting for me in the mailroom this morning:
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A Page-Turner

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I am over halfway through the final Harry Potter installment and expect to finish sometime tomorrow. It's GOOD!

July 22, 2007

Song Of The Day #203

"Rikki Don't Lose That Number" is by Steely Dan.

Steely Dan - Pretzel Logic - Rikki Don't Lose That Number

Emerging From Seclusion

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Okay, no chance the book will be ruined for me now. I pushed through Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows this weekend just so no one could spoil any surprises for me. (I still have bad memories of Tim Varacek telling me that Darth Vader was Luke Skywalker's father before I saw The Empire Strikes Back in 10th grade.) Other than teaching my classes yesterday morning, I haven't done much but read since I got the Potter book in the Saturday mail.

Anyway, it was a very enjoyable read. Too bad that's the end of the saga. No spoilers from me, though!

July 23, 2007

Song Of The Day #204

From the movie Tootsie, this is Stephen Bishop with "It Might Be You."

Stephen Bishop - K-tel Presents: More Themes & Tunes from Movies & Television - It Might Be You (From "Tootsie")

July 24, 2007

Song Of The Day #205

One of my favorite U2 songs is "Until The End Of The World" on Achtung Baby.

U2 - Achtung Baby - Until the End of the World

Gabriel Allon Returns

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The Secret Servant arrived in today's mail; it's the latest in Daniel Silva's series of novels about Gabriel Allon, an Israeli spy. Good summer reading, I think!

July 25, 2007

Song Of The Day #206

A 1970s classic: "Black Water" by The Doobie Brothers.

The Doobie Brothers - What Were Once Vices Are Now Habits - Black Water

In Which The Blogger Parts With A Pile Of Cash

I bit the bullet and bought myself a subscription to the Metropolitan Opera, essentially booking tickets for six productions in the upcoming year, mostly on Thursday nights: Aida, La Traviata, Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute), War And Peace, Peter Grimes, and La Fille du Régiment. Taking advantage of the chance to pre-order additional tickets before the general public, I also lined up a performance of Tristan and Isolde in March. So I am getting immersed in the world of opera, I guess, and thus am committing to a bunch of trips into New York City. It's an expensive habit!

July 26, 2007

Song Of The Day #207

From the Grease soundtrack, which was unavoidable in the summer of 1978, this is "Summer Nights."

John Travolta & Olivia Newton-John - Grease - Summer Nights

Miss Ravenwood

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"Indiana Jones . . . I always knew some day you'd come walking back through my door . . ."

Apparently Karen Allen is back reprising her Raiders Of The Lost Ark role of Marion Ravenwood in the next Indy flick. Director Steven Spielberg invited the actress to join him and Harrison Ford in a satellite transmission from the film set.

July 27, 2007

The Amber Spyglass

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I just finished off The Amber Spyglass. This trilogy is subversive in a very interesting way, taking a philosophical position that in many ways challenges the clearly Christian subtexts in the works of J.R.R. Tolkien or C.S. Lewis. A recommended read.

Song Of The Day #208

I remember "If You Were Here" by The Thompson Twins playing at the conclusion of the 1980s John Hughes film Sixteen Candles:

Thompson Twins - Thompson Twins: Greatest Hits - If You Were Here

Two Spocks

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In J.J. Abrams' 2008 Star Trek reboot, Spock will be played by Zachary Quinto (Sylar from Heroes) and--presumably in some sort of framing sequence--Leonard Nimoy! Pretty cool.

A Springfield Story

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I went to matinee to check out the cinematic version of The Simpsons, rather than finish my teacher reports. It was well done and consistently amusing, like one of the better episodes of the television series.

Something To Look Forward To

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Having read the graphic novel Watchmen when it was released back in the mid-1980s and having taught the work over half a dozen times now, I will be interested to see how well it holds together on the silver screen. See the site for yourself.

July 28, 2007

Song Of The Day #209

Peter Gabriel wrote this song, "Solsbury Hill," about leaving the band Genesis.

Peter Gabriel - Shaking the Tree - Sixteen Golden Greats - Solsbury Hill

What I Am Missing Now

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One of these years I will have to make it out to that pop culture geekfest, the Comic-Con, which is taking place this weekend in San Diego. Although the event apparently is wall-to-wall people nowadays, there are so many huge movie and television previews and announcements made there that it's a highlight of Hollywood's year (as documented on an episode of Entourage last season). Plus having grown up on a steady diet of comic books, it would be a total nostalgia trip for me. While I would be in my element there, I am pretty sure nothing could get me into one of those costumes!

Once

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Following the end-of-summer-session dinner tonight, I went down to New Haven to see Once, an indie film from Ireland with an enchanting romantic storyline and a great soundtrack. The movie uses music as a vehicle for the connections between the main characters and the songs are fantastic. My parents recommended Once, and it was worth the trip.

July 29, 2007

Song Of The Day #210

This song, "Falling Slowly," was featured in the movie Once I watched last night.

Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova with Marja Tuhkanen and Bertrand Galen - The Swell Season - Falling Slowly

Nixonian Nostalgia

Another Broadway double header day for me.

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This afternoon's matinee was Nixon/Frost about the mid-1970s series of interviews of the disgraced ex-president by British television host David Frost. The show is in its final week before closing, but Ron Howard is tackling a filmed version with same principals in August. Frank Langella won the Tony for Best Actor earlier this year for his role as Richard Nixon, and it did seem as though he was channeling our 37th president on stage. I was lucky to be seated in the fourth row, center, in the orchestra section. The production featured brilliant performances and was a very thoughtful play.

July 30, 2007

Puppet Show

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Tonight I finally got around to seeing Avenue Q, which won the Tony for Best Musical a few years back (in a huge upset, as Wicked was the overwhelming front runner for the award that season). The humor was deliciously subversive: a perverse cross between Sesame Street, Rent, and The Simpsons. I lucked out with my ticket again, as I was seated in the second row, right on the center aisle. A very enjoyable and funny show.

Song Of The Day #211

This amusing little ditty, "The Internet Is For Porn," is from Avenue Q, the Broadway show I saw last night.

Original Broadway Cast - Avenue Q - The Internet Is for Porn

July 31, 2007

Song Of The Day #212

I remember my mom bringing me back the 45 of this song from the store one day, entirely unsolicited. Strange. "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen.

Queen - Classic Queen - Bohemian Rhapsody

Concert Tonight!

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Tonight I am seeing The Police play in East Hartford. Nice!

They Were The Biggest Band In The World

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The Police were pretty much in the same category as The Beatles in my mind: a band I never thought I'd see in concert. This trio, which provided background music to so much of my life at the end of high school and the beginning of college, had little hope of ever transcending clashing egos to tour again--or so we all thought. I have seen Sting perform four times in concert--and even met him backstage at one of those shows--but seeing The Police was different. It was a thrill to watch Andy, Stewart, and Sting sharing the stage once more in an energetic set of classic hits.

The set list:

Message In A Bottle
Synchronicity II
Walking On The Moon
Voices Inside My Head / When The World Is Running Down...
Don't Stand So Close To Me
Driven To Tears
Truth Hits Everybody
The Bed's Too Big Without You
Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic
Wrapped Around Your Finger
De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da
Invisible Sun
Walking In Your Footsteps
Can't Stand Losing You / Reggatta de Blanc
Roxanne

encore:
King Of Pain
So Lonely
Every Breath You Take

encore:
Next To You

August 1, 2007

Song Of The Day #213

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This number got the crowd assembled at Rentschler Field for The Police concert energized last night: "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic."

The Police - Ghost in the Machine - Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic

August 2, 2007

Song Of The Day #214

A year ago today I was in South Africa. This song, "Cruel, Crazy, Beautiful World," is by South African artists Johnny Clegg & Savuka.

Johnny Clegg & Savuka - Cruel, Crazy, Beautiful World - Cruel Crazy Beautiful World

More Old Englishmen With Musical Instruments

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In the wake of The Police concert the other night, I bit the bullet and bought what appeared to be one of the few remaining tickets in the Hartford Civic Center next month for a stop on the Genesis reunion world tour. I looked into getting a block of three or four seats, but they were unavailable at any price via Ticketmaster, and the going prices on StubHub seemed outrageous. The ticket I did buy was pricey, but I figured this probably would be my last chance to see the band play live.

August 3, 2007

Song Of The Day #215

A blast from the past: Hank Williams performs "Your Cheatin' Heart."

Hank Williams - Hank Williams:The Ultimate Collection - Your Cheatin' Heart

The Bourne Ultimatum

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Just got in from seeing the third installment of the Bourne trilogy and it was a very staisfying sequel (unlike most of the other sequels of 2007). The movie was well scripted, well directed, and particularly well acted. Matt Damon, Julia Stiles, David Straitharn, Albert Finney, Scott Glenn, and especially Joan Allen (pictured above, with Damon) were excellent. This was a great mix of gripping action sequences and psychological drama filmed mostly with handheld cameras in a range of visually appealing backdrops such as London, Madrid, Tangier, and New York City.

August 4, 2007

Song Of The Day #216

I believe this is what's known as a power ballad: "Faithfully" by Journey.

Journey - Frontiers - Faithfully

August 5, 2007

Song Of The Day #217

Andrew Gold scored a hit with "Lonely Boy" back in 1977.

Andrew Gold - Rhino Hi-Five: Andrew Gold - EP - Lonely Boy

August 6, 2007

Song Of The Day #218

This is k.d. lang's "Constant Craving."

k.d. lang - Ingénue - Constant Craving

August 7, 2007

Song Of The Day #219

This is the AOL Sessions version of "If It Makes You Happy" by Sheryl Crow.

Sheryl Crow - Sessions@AOL - EP - If It Makes You Happy

August 8, 2007

Song Of The Day #220

The Beatles recorded "Birthday"--an apt choice for me today! (iTunes link coming someday!)

August 9, 2007

Song Of The Day #221

There is a Chinese proverb I like that says, "He who returns from a journey is not the same as he who left." As I head to the airport for a trip to Russia for the first time, this sentiment is reflected in Rush's "Fly By Night."

Rush - Fly By Night - Fly By Night

August 10, 2007

Song Of The Day #222

Willie Nelson's "On The Road Again."

Willie Nelson - Willie Nelson - 16 Biggest Hits - On the Road Again

August 11, 2007

Song Of The Day #223

On his first solo album, The Dream Of The Blue Turtles, Sting gave us "Russians."

Sting - The Dream of the Blue Turtles - Russians

August 12, 2007

Song Of The Day #224

From the James Bond movie of the same name, "From Russia With Love" was performed by Matt Monro.

Matt Monro - The Best of Matt Monro - From Russia With Love

Stardust

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I actually found a place in Moscow that runs the occasional English language film--a new release, no less! The Moscow Times (the free English daily distributed at my hotel) alerted me to the fact that Stardust was being shown at one of the main multiplexes here in the city. After I arrived at the cinema and fumbled my way through a ticket purchase with a Russian-speaking clerk, I had to search long and hard for the actual theater in which the movie was playing. Turns out I had to head outside and around to the back of the place, in through a side door and up a back staircase to a small room with maybe 60 seats tucked away in the complex. No matter: I had arrived.

I really wanted to see this particular flick. I am an ardent fan of Neil Gaiman's work, and this movie was based on an illustrated prose piece that was later turned into a short novel, which is what I read maybe 6-7 years ago. I have a very clear memory of reading the prose version of Stardust in a little tea house that I think is called The Oven Door in Dingle, Ireland, while waiting for a group from Choate to arrive later in the day.

In any case, the movie was fresh to me, either because I forgot huge chunks of the book or because the film is sufficiently different from its source material (or maybe both!). There were a few elements in this fairy tale for adults that I remembered, but most of it seemed very new.

In short, this was an absolutely lovely, charming movie--spell-binding in all the ways a good story should be. The visuals in the film were wonderful, and the actors were all up to the task. Charlie Cox and Claire Danes were perfect as the leads. Peter O'Toole had an entertaining cameo, Robert DeNiro was terrific as a ship captain with a secret life, and Ricky Gervais showed provided comic relief playing . . . well, Ricky Gervais, and was very funny. And Sir Ian McKellen was an aptly-cast narrator (though I could not place his naggingly familiar voice until the final credits rolled).

This is a rare film that I'd actually pay to see again in the theater.

August 13, 2007

Song Of The Day #225

From Pete Townshend's solo repertoire, this is "Let My Love Open The Door."

Pete Townshend - Empty Glass - Let My Love Open the Door

Undeclared

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I finished off the television series Undeclared this morning. This Judd Apatow-produced show never made it past its first season, like Apatow's Freaks And Geeks before it, but like its predecessor it contains compelling characters, thoughtful humor, and a great soundtrack. And the core of the Apatow ensemble seen in The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up--people like Seth Rogen and Jason Segal--is present in this series as well. Moreover, these films clearly share the same sensibility with the two TV series (Freaks and Undeclared).

My portable DVD player has turned out to be be a great investment for travel: I use it during long flights and in the down time between sight-seeing and transit. And the DVD format is ideal for watching a television series like this one, that I missed. What it's REALLY perfect for is the serial show; this is how I got caught up on 24 and Alias, two programs I missed in the early part of their runs. (It would be similarly good for Lost and Heroes, but I was on board with those two from the start.)

August 14, 2007

Song Of The Day #226

Mindful of my travel ordeal the last 24 hours, this is The Doobie Brothers with "Long Train Runnin'."

The Doobie Brothers - The Captain and Me - Long Train Runnin'

August 15, 2007

Song Of The Day #227

In the tradition of great summer songs, here is "Magic" by The Cars.

The Cars - Heartbeat City - Magic

August 16, 2007

Song Of The Day #228

From The Beatles' self-titled double album (a.k.a. "The White Album"), this is "Back In The U.S.S.R." [iTunes link should be coming someday soon; the label just released all of John Lennon's solo albums for download; maybe we are waiting for a Yellow Submarine special iPod or something?]

White Nights

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Being so northerly, daylight lingers past 10:30 at night, even in mid-August. I am taking advantage of the chance to read Dostoevsky in his native city, re-engaging with The Brothers Karamazov.

August 17, 2007

Song Of The Day #229

As my travels come to a close--at least for the time being--here is a reflection by James Taylor called "Wandering."

James Taylor - Gorilla - Wandering

August 18, 2007

Song Of The Day #230

Today I offer Coldplay's "Warning Sign."

Coldplay - A Rush of Blood to the Head - Warning Sign

August 19, 2007

Superfunny

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Superbad is very funny, even if its humor is sophomoric. The first 20 minutes or so of the film are just brilliant. Things level off after that as "the plot" becomes more central.

Song Of The Day #231

This is an amazing live 1974 version of "Rocket Man" by Elton John.

Elton John - Here and There - Rocket Man (I Think It's Going to Be a Long, Long Time)

August 20, 2007

Song Of The Day #232

This Madonna tune, "Die Another Day," opened the James Bond flick of the same name.

Madonna - American Life - Die Another Day

August 21, 2007

Song Of The Day #233

John Fogerty's "Centerfield."

John Fogerty - Centerfield - Centerfield

August 22, 2007

Song Of The Day #234

Yesterday's song was "CenterFIELD," today's is "CenterFOLD" by The J. Geils Band.

The J. Geils Band - Freeze Frame - Centerfold

August 23, 2007

Song Of The Day #235

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This medley from a U2 concert in Boston in early 2001 blends "Bad" and "Where The Streets Have No Name" with a taste of "40" in between. It's awesome!

U2 - The Complete U2 - Electrical Storm - Bad / "40" / Where the Street Have No Name

Great Article On Ian McKellen

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The New Yorker has a wonderful profile of Ian McKellen by John Lahr in this week's issue. It's worth a read.

August 24, 2007

Song Of The Day #236

This is "Dizzy" from The Goo Goo Dolls.

The Goo Goo Dolls - Dizzy Up the Girl - Dizzy

August 25, 2007

Song Of The Day #237

"Everybody Wants To Rule The World" was a mid-1980s hit for Tears For Fears (and closed the movie Real Genius).

Tears for Fears - Songs from the Big Chair - Everybody Wants to Rule the World

August 26, 2007

Song Of The Day #238

As summer is still with us for a few more weeks, here is a thematically appropriate tune: "Nightswimming" by R.E.M.

R.E.M. - Automatic for the People - Nightswimming

August 27, 2007

Song Of The Day #239

Queen teamed up with David Bowie to make "Under Pressure" a 1981 hit (which would provide the bass hook for Vanilla Ice's fifteen minutes of fame a decade later).

Queen & David Bowie - Classic Queen - Under Pressure

Young Indy

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No doubt a lead-up to next year's rollout of the fourth Indiana Jones big screen adventure, Lucasfilm will be releasing three DVD sets of the television show The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles starting this fall.

Strong To The Finish

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Today I received from my friends at Amazon the highly-regarded and well-reviewed collection of Max Fleischer Popeye cartoons, from the Golden Age of animation. I should enjoy this.

August 28, 2007

Song Of The Day #240

This song, "Brighter Than Sunshine" by Aqualung, is seductively appealing.

Aqualung - Strange & Beautiful - Brighter Than Sunshine

August 29, 2007

Song Of The Day #241

A little taste of Irish rock in Van Morrison's "Cleaning Windows."

Van Morrison - Beautiful Vision - Cleaning Windows

Supposedly A Good TV Show

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I picked up the DVD set of Season One of the show Friday Night Lights. I've never seen an episode of the NBC show--though I did see the 2004 film--but it has terrific word of mouth and is one of those critical favorites always on the cusp of cancellation. And this set cost less than $20 on Amazon.com, so I took the plunge. Maybe this will help keep the show on the air?

August 30, 2007

Song Of The Day #242

Steve Winwood's "Higher Love" was on one of the first three CDs I ever bought.

Steve Winwood - Back in the High Life - Higher Love

August 31, 2007

Song Of The Day #243

The timeless "Hotel California" by the Eagles.

Eagles - Hotel California - Hotel California

They Don't Make 'Em Like They Used To

Why don't we see album covers like this anymore?
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eloalbumcover.jpg

September 1, 2007

Song Of The Day #244

"Summer's Gone" by Aberfeldy seems an appropriate choice for Labor Day Weekend.

Aberfeldy - Young Forever - Summer's Gone

Action Movie

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I took the squad to the local cinema tonight. Choices were slim, so I opted for War, an action flick starring Jet Li and Jason Statham featuring some far-fetched plot twists. Mindless entertainment, but reasonably effective escapism.

September 2, 2007

Song Of The Day #245

"Scenes From An Italian Restaurant" is one of Billy Joel's best.

Billy Joel - The Stranger - Scenes from an Italian Restaurant

September 3, 2007

Song Of The Day #246

From The Talking Heads: "Stay Up Late."

Talking Heads - Little Creatures - Stay Up Late

September 4, 2007

Song Of The Day #247

This is Bob Dylan covering Woody Guthrie's "Pretty Boy Floyd."

Bob Dylan - Folkways: A Vision Shared - A Tribute to Woody Guthrie and Leadbelly - Pretty Boy Floyd

Missed Opportunities

Note to self: order tickets as soon as they are available. Two things I wanted to see in the weeks ahead--Ian McKellen in King Lear in New York City and a Van Halen concert at Mohegan Sun--are sold out. The Lear production seems like a particularly hot ticket, with eBay offering seats for hundreds of dollars. I guess I won't be going to these shows.

September 5, 2007

Song Of The Day #248

Peter Frampton's "I'm In You."

Peter Frampton - I'm in You - I'm in You

September 6, 2007

Song Of The Day #249

From The Police's Zenyatta Mondatta album: "Don't Stand So Close To Me."

The Police - Zenyatta Mondatta - Don't Stand so Close to Me

September 7, 2007

Song Of The Day #250

This is a live cover of "Superman's Song" by Crash Test Dummies.

Crash Test Dummies - Upfront! Canadians Live from Mountain Stage - Superman's Song

September 8, 2007

Song Of The Day #251

The Steve Miller Band's "Jungle Love" features a great opening.

Steve Miller Band - Book of Dreams - Jungle Love

September 9, 2007

Song Of The Day #252

KT Tunstall has a new album due soon. From her debut, Eye To The Telescope, this is "Other Side Of The World."

KT Tunstall - Eye to the Telescope - Other Side of the World

September 10, 2007

Song Of The Day #253

Neil Young's "After The Gold Rush."

Neil Young - Decade - After the Gold Rush

It's Got A Name

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September 11, 2007

Song Of The Day #254

"Under My Thumb" by The Rolling Stones.

The Rolling Stones - Hot Rocks 1964-1971 - Under My Thumb

Coming Soon To A Theater Near You

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This trailer has raised my interest in this film.

September 12, 2007

Song Of The Day #255

"Steady As We Go" is by The Dave Matthews Band.

Dave Matthews Band - Stand Up - Steady As We Go

September 13, 2007

Song Of The Day #256

"Never Surrender" by Canadian flash-in-the-pan Corey Hart.

Corey Hart - The Singles - Never Surrender

September 14, 2007

Song Of The Day #257

From the 1970s file: Aerosmith's "Sweet Emotion."

Aerosmith - A Little South of Sanity - Sweet Emotion

September 15, 2007

Song Of The Day #258

Only a curmudgeon wouldn't like "Sweet Caroline" by Neil Diamond.

Neil Diamond - The Neil Diamond Collection - Sweet Caroline

September 16, 2007

Song Of The Day #259

"Tonight, Tonight, Tonight" is when I'll be seeing Genesis live in Hartford.

Genesis - Invisible Touch - Tonight, Tonight, Tonight

Turn It On Again

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Just got in from seeing Genesis on its "Turn It On Again" tour, probably the last go-round for Messrs. Banks, Collins, and Rutherford as a group. They were in good form tonight, ably aided by longtime associates Daryl Stuermer on guitar and bass and Chester Thompson on drums (pretty cool to have dual drummers when Phil was not up front singing).

The set list:

Duke's Intro (Behind The Lines)
Turn It On Again
No Son Of Mine
Land Of Confusion
In The Cage / The Cinema Show / Duke's Travels / Afterglow
Hold On My Heart
Home By The Sea / Second Home By The Sea
Follow You, Follow Me
Firth Of Fifth / I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)
Mama
Ripples
Throwing It All Away
Domino
Drum Duet
Los Endos
Tonight, Tonight, Tonight
Invisible Touch

encore:
I Can't Dance
The Carpet Crawlers

September 17, 2007

Song Of The Day #260

A posthumous hit for John Lennon: "Nobody Told Me."

John Lennon - Milk and Honey (Remastered) - Nobody Told Me

September 18, 2007

Song Of The Day #261

Sinéad O'Connor sang this song by Prince: "Nothing Compares 2 U."

Sinéad O'Connor - She Who Dwells In the Secret Place of the Most High Shall Abide Under the Shadow of the Almighty - Nothing Compares 2 U

September 19, 2007

Song Of The Day #262

"Walk Of Life" is by the Dire Straits.

Dire Straits - Brothers In Arms - Walk of Life

September 20, 2007

Song Of The Day #263

This is a live version of "The Heart Of The Matter" from Don Henley.

Don Henley - The Bridge School Collection, Vol. 2 - Heart of the Matter

September 21, 2007

Song Of The Day #264

A little Eurofunk action: Ace Of Base with "The Sign."

Ace of Base - Happy Nation - The Sign

September 22, 2007

Song Of The Day #265

Elton John's mid-1970s classic, "Island Girl."

Elton John - Rock of the Westies - Island Girl

September 23, 2007

Song Of The Day #266

An offbeat mellow tune: "Year Of The Cat" by Al Stewart.

Al Stewart - Year of the Cat - Year of the Cat

Parody Time

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The fifth season premiere of Family Guy tonight featured a mildly amusing send-up of Star Wars called "Blue Harvest" (true believers will get the reference). Many scenes were covered shot-for-shot (in fact, for the effects shots, it appeared as though the ships and such were animated right over the actual images from the film). The show was not as funny as some regular episodes of Family Guy but it clearly was one for the fan boys.

September 24, 2007

Song Of The Day #267

From the 1980s, this is Devo's cover of the Stones classic "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction."

Devo - Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! - (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction

Season 2 Of Heroes

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NBC's breakout hit last year was Heroes, which returned to the airwaves tonight with its Season 2 premiere. This is a very entertaining show and I'm looking forward to following its twists and turns this year. Tonight's episode was a promising start.

September 25, 2007

Song Of The Day #268

U2's "City Of Blinding Lights."

U2 - How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb - City of Blinding Lights

Reaper

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I took in the pilot of Reaper on The CW tonight, mostly because it was directed by Kevin Smith, whose films I like (and whose podcast I regularly enjoy too). The show was reasonably entertaining, but I don't know if it will earn a regular berth on my DVR.

September 26, 2007

Song Of The Day #269

I always think of this song looking up at the night sky when I'm in the Southern hemisphere: "Southern Cross" by Crosby, Stills & Nash.

Crosby, Stills & Nash - Daylight Again - Southern Cross

Another TV Season On DVD

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The ABC show Brothers And Sisters was another series I missed completely, but on the strength of some very good reviews, I ordered the first season on DVD and will record the second season to watch after I get caught up. Now if I could only find the time to watch all of this . . .

September 27, 2007

Song Of The Day #270

"Squeeze Box" is by The Who.

The Who - The Who by Numbers - Squeeze Box

Dunder Mifflin

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Yes!!!! The Office is back, with tonight's season premiere. Tonight's episode was very funny. I have missed this weekly injection of humor.

September 28, 2007

Song Of The Day #271

A cool live version of "In Your Eyes" by Peter Gabriel.

Peter Gabriel - Secret World Live - In Your Eyes

September 29, 2007

Song Of The Day #272

Okay, it's a cheesy group, but the song IS catchy: "As Long As You Love Me" by The Backstreet Boys.

Backstreet Boys - Backstreet Boys - As Long As You Love Me

September 30, 2007

Song Of The Day #273

No better choice for today than Green Day's "Wake Me Up When September Ends."

Green Day - American Idiot - Wake Me Up When September Ends

Guitar Hero

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I have been spending time playing Guitar Hero II with the boys in Mem House lately. I generally don't have much patience with video games, but the guitar-like controllers and the familiar music makes this an enticing distraction for me.

October 1, 2007

Song Of The Day #274

I've been playing this lately on Guitar Hero: "Crazy On You" by Heart.

Heart - Dreamboat Annie - Crazy On You

October 2, 2007

Song Of The Day #275

A boyhood favorite: Kansas, with "Carry On Wayward Son."

Kansas - Kansas - Carry On Wayward Son

October 3, 2007

Song Of The Day #276

I first heard "Angel" on an early episode of Alias and fell in love with the various versions of it that Sarah McLachlan has recorded.

Sarah McLachlan - Surfacing - Angel

October 4, 2007

Song Of The Day #277

Styx was my favorite band in junior high school. This was its biggest hit, "Come Sail Away."

Styx - The Grand Illusion - Come Sail Away

A New Magazine Idea

There's this magazine:
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and then there's this one:
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So I am thinking about starting up a new publication: New Yorkest.

October 5, 2007

Back To Egypt

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I ventured into New York City and saw Aida at the Met last night, my first time with this particular opera. It was a tremendous spectacle, with enormous sets evoking ancient Egypt, impressive lighting, and over a hundred bodies (not to mention a few live horses) on stage at one point. This particular Verdi work is a stirring mixture of grand historical epic and intense psychological drama. To my untrained ear, the voices seemed in very fine form. The music was wonderful. A very enjoyable show.

Song Of The Day #278

This would seem to fit the season (though it has been pretty warm for this time of year): "October Road" by James Taylor.

James Taylor - October Road - October Road

Bruuuuuce

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Magic, the new album from Bruce Springsteen, is an energetic collection of tunes. It's the first time The Boss has recorded with The E Street Band since he released The Rising five years ago. I've been listening to the disc all week and it's growing on me.

October 6, 2007

Song Of The Day #279

From Springsteen's latest, this is "Radio Nowhere." The opening is reminiscent of the chord progression in Tommy Tune's "Jenny (867-5309)."

Bruce Springsteen - Magic - Radio Nowhere

October 7, 2007

Song Of The Day #280

I'm not above admitting I've got a soft spot in my heart for the late John Denver. This song is "The Eagle And The Hawk."

John Denver - John Denver: Greatest Hits - The Eagle and the Hawk

I'm A Year Behind The Curve On This

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On the way back from our meet at Andover today, I finally broke open the season 1 DVD set of Friday Night Lights and watched the pilot episode. It was amazing. If the rest of the series is as well written as this show was, I will enjoy it immensely.

October 8, 2007

Song Of The Day #281

Jason Mraz's "Life Is Wonderful."

Jason Mraz - Mr. A-Z - Life Is Wonderful

October 9, 2007

Song Of The Day #282

"Lollipop" is by MIKA.

MIKA - Life In Cartoon Motion - Lollipop

October 10, 2007

Song Of The Day #283

On this rainy morning, this song may be wishful thinking: "Mr. Blue Sky" by ELO.

Electric Light Orchestra (Elo) - Out of the Blue - Mr. Blue Sky

October 11, 2007

Song Of The Day #284

"Good Vibrations" is by The Beach Boys.

The Beach Boys - Endless Summer - Good Vibrations

Chemistry

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The most appealing thing about 30 Rock is the chemistry between Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin, which suggests a warped Tracy-Hepburn vibe. This is an entertaining show.

October 12, 2007

Song Of The Day #285

This song is "I'm Alive" by Jackson Browne.

Jackson Browne - I'm Alive - I'm Alive

October 13, 2007

Song Of The Day #286

Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" was a highlight of the Mem Garden trip to see the band in concert two years ago.

Journey - Escape - Don't Stop Believin'

October 14, 2007

Song Of The Day #287

"Touch Of Grey" is by The Grateful Dead.

Grateful Dead - In the Dark - Touch of Grey

October 15, 2007

Song Of The Day #288

Ella Fitzgerald covers Gershwin's "Fascinating Rhythm."

Ella Fitzgerald - Oh, Lady, Be Good!  Best of the Gershwin Songbook - Fascinating Rhythm

Backlog

I am not watching Heroes tonight, because I need to see the two previous episodes first. I am way behind on a few other shows (such as Weeds and Mad Men) and have at least one missed episode of The Office and 30 Rock in the viewing queue as well. And I am stockpiling second-season episodes of Brothers And Sisters and Friday Night Lights until I finish the Season 1 DVDs of those shows. Thanks goodness for the DVR (though I will have to move a few shows over to a computer hard drive to make room for new recordings).

October 16, 2007

Song Of The Day #289

KC & The Sunshine Band's "That's The Way (I Like It)."

KC & The Sunshine Band - The Best of KC & The Sunshine Band - That's the Way (I Like It)

October 17, 2007

Song Of The Day #290

A New Wave one-hit wonder from the late 1970s: "Cars" by Gary Numan.

Gary Numan - The Pleasure Principle - Cars

Joshua Tree Redux

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Next month U2 is re-releasing a deluxe version of its landmark album The Joshua Tree, which is now twenty years old. Of course, I will have to get the limited edition, with 2 CDs and a DVD.

October 18, 2007

Song Of The Day #291

From Alanis Morissette's megahit 1990s album, Jagged Little Pill, this is "Ironic."

Alanis Morissette - Jagged Little Pill - Ironic

October 19, 2007

Song Of The Day #292

A Parents Weekend-themed selection: "Mama's Pearl" by The Jackson 5.

Jackson 5 - Anthology: Jackson 5 - Mama's Pearl

October 20, 2007

Song Of The Day #293

From James Taylor, another Parents Weekend pick: "Daddy's All Gone."

James Taylor - In the Pocket - Daddy's All Gone

Harry Potter Revelation

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Months after the release of the final Harry Potter book, author J.K. Rowling dropped a bombshell last night, revealing that Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore was gay. I don't know if it's possible to "out" a fictional character, but this tidbit is apparently headline news all over the world today! Supposedly, Dumbledore's orientation explains why he was deceived in his youth by Gellert Grindelwald, who became a dark wizard.

October 21, 2007

Song Of The Day #294

I'm about to board a plane to the Windy City, so here is "Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?" by the band Chicago.

Chicago - The Very Best of Chicago - Only the Beginning - Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?

October 22, 2007

Song Of The Day #295

Frank Sinatra teamed with his son Frank Sinatra Jr. to re-record "My Kind Of Town."

Frank Sinatra - Duets II - My Kind of Town

October 23, 2007

Song Of The Day #296

A Chicago band, Styx, provides today's daily dose with "The Best Of Times."

Styx - Styx: Greatest Hits - The Best of Times

New Eagles Music

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Today I've been listening to the new Eagles song "How Long," an appealing countryish rock tune with the typically tight vocal harmonies we heard so often from this group in the 1970s. Ot's from the forthcoming double album Long Road Out Of Eden, which apparently will be available only at Wal-Mart next week. Check out a preview of it here.

October 24, 2007

Song Of The Day #297

Supertramp's "Breakfast In America" from the album of the same name.

Supertramp - Breakfast in America - Breakfast in America

October 25, 2007

Song Of The Day #298

From Boston's second album, Don't Look Back, this is "A Man I'll Never Be."

Boston - Don't Look Back - A Man I'll Never Be

He's Dr. Jones To You, Doll

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Volume 1 of the DVD boxed set collection of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles (newly chistenened The Adventures Of Young Indiana Jones) arrived from Amazon today, loaded with tons of documentary features to supplement the handful of episodes gathered on the 12 discs. The original series was George Lucas's bid to teach American youth about the early 20th century and this DVD set extends that ambition in a big way.

October 26, 2007

Song Of The Day #299

Van Halen's "Dreams" usually shows up during Choate Cross Country's Friday meditation ("Neditation") sessions.

Van Halen - 5150 - Dreams

October 27, 2007

Song Of The Day #300

I've been listening to Nickelback's "If Everyone Cared" a lot lately.

Nickelback - All the Right Reasons - If Everyone Cared

October 28, 2007

Song Of The Day #301

Hard to not like a song with a banjo part in it: this is "Unwell" by Matchbox Twenty.

Matchbox Twenty - More Than You Think You Are - Unwell

Prends Garde Ă  Toi!

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I hopped on a 10:32 train from New Haven to Grand Central Terminal to catch the New York City Opera production of Carmen. My train arrived at about 12:15, which gave me time for a leisurely stroll up Fifth Avenue and through Central Park to Lincoln Center just in time for the 1:30 curtain.

The Bizet opera contains several very familiar melodies, such as the Prélude (overture), the Toréador Song, and the Habanera:
Carmenhabanera.png
a theme which will now be in my head for the rest of the week, no doubt.

The production wrapped up about 4:30, so I took the subway back to Grand Central for the 5:07 back to the Elm City so I could return to Mem House just in time for duty at 7:30.

October 29, 2007

Song Of The Day #302

This is a rock cover of Aaron Copland's "Fanfare For The Common Man" by Emerson, Lake & Palmer.

Emerson, Lake & Palmer - Works, Vol. 1 - Fanfare for the Common Man

October 30, 2007

Song Of The Day #303

"Wonderwall" from Oasis.

Oasis - (What's the Story) Morning Glory? - Wonderwall

October 31, 2007

Song Of The Day #304

Sort of an obvious choice for Halloween: "Monster Mash" by Bobby "Boris" Pickett.

Bobby "Boris" Pickett & The Crypt-Kickers - The Original Monster Mash - Monster Mash

November 1, 2007

Song Of The Day #305

Sting's "Inside."

Sting - Sacred Love - Inside

Mr Smith Goes To As Mr. Gallagher Leaves

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The Choate group spent the morning on Capitol Hill, visiting the Senate and House chambers as well as a congressional hearing. We also met with freshman Representative Chris Murphy (D-CT) and enjoyed a luncheon in the Capitol with some CRH alums.

On the ride back, we watched Mr. Smith Goes To Washington on the bus. I had forgotten just how good this film is.

Off now to the athletic center to run a late night make-up practice for cross country team members who were on the DC trip with me. Two days until our first championship meet!

November 2, 2007

Song Of The Day #306

From Achtung Baby, this is the timeless U2 song "One."

U2 - Achtung Baby - One

More On Friday Night Lights

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It's hard to convey just how much I am enjoying Season 1 of Friday Night Lights. I watched a bunch of episodes while traveling to and from Washington this week and a couple more tonight. No doubt the coach in me finds this show centered around a high school team appealing, but beyond that, this is simply a great television drama about a small town in Texas.

November 3, 2007

Song Of The Day #307

"Listen To What The Man Said" is from Paul McCartney's post-Beatles band, Wings.

Paul McCartney & Wings - Venus and Mars - Listen to What the Man Said

November 4, 2007

Song Of The Day #308

Few albums hold up better thirty-five years on than Who's Next. This is the opening track "Baba O'Riley."

The Who - Who's Next - Baba O'Riley

Time Change

I took a small Mem House contingent down the hill to Abbott & Cassello's for an eggs Benedict breakfast. The restaurant was more packed than normal, mostly because folks were thrown off by the time change. The extra hour of sleep was most welcome!

November 5, 2007

Song Of The Day #309

Bruce Springsteen's "Tougher Than The Rest."

Bruce Springsteen - Tunnel of Love - Tougher Than the Rest

November 6, 2007

Song Of The Day #310

An L.A. song: "Under The Bridge" by Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Red Hot Chili Peppers - Blood Sugar Sex Magik - Under the Bridge

November 7, 2007

Song Of The Day #311

"What song is it you want to hear?" Lynyrd Skynyrd playing "Free Bird," of course.

Lynyrd Skynyrd - The Essential Lynyrd Skynyrd - Free Bird

November 8, 2007

La Traviata

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Just got in from a night at the Metropolitan Opera, where I saw Verdi's La Traviata. This is a tragic love story, and one of the most popular operas in the worldwide repertory. Renée Fleming was stunning in her handling of the challenging lead role of Violetta.

Song Of The Day #312

"Fast Car" was a hit early in Tracy Chapman's career.

Tracy Chapman - Tracy Chapman - Fast Car

November 9, 2007

Song Of The Day #313

This is Shania Twain's "You're Still The One."

Shania Twain - Come on Over - You're Still the One

November 10, 2007

Song Of The Day #314

In honor of the Deerfield Day competitions today, as well as the New England Prep School Cross Country Championships here at Choate, this is "All Star" by Smash Mouth.

Smash Mouth - Astro Lounge - All Star

A Wilde Night

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After the excitement of the cross country meet, I unwound with a student production of The Importance Of Being Earnest, which was cleverly performed here on campus.

November 11, 2007

Song Of The Day #315

This song is sooooo 1970s . . . "Afternoon Delight" by Starland Vocal Band.

Starland Vocal Band - Starland Vocal Band - Afternoon Delight

November 12, 2007

Song Of The Day #316

Talking Heads weigh in with "Wild Wild Life."

Talking Heads - True Stories - Wild Wild Life

Pritty Pritty Good

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Mt Comcast digital cable package gives me On Demand service, so it was easy to watch last night's season finale of Curb Your Enthusiasm today instead. This is SUCH a funny show. I love the utter lack of political correctness in this series.

November 13, 2007

Song Of The Day #317

"Deacon Blues" by Steely Dan is a very cool tune.

Steely Dan - Aja - Deacon Blues

All You Need Is Love

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While in Vegas, I will seeing the Cirque du Soleil Beatles-themed show "Love." Sweet.

November 14, 2007

Song Of The Day #318

This song sums me up pretty well sometimes: "My Stupid Mouth" by John Mayer.

John Mayer - Room for Squares - My Stupid Mouth

Settle That Strike!

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Broadway shows have mostly gone dark lately, due to a strike by the stagehands. But I booked a ticket to the hottest production in New York right now, Jersey Boys, for January 17, so I am counti