Wednesday, December 7, 2010 - 11:45am
I went to ConvergeSouth this weekend, a conference of local bloggers. It was really interesting with lots of spirited back and forth about the new media, where it fits in with the old ways, newspapers in particular. The whole thing was flawlessly executed, casual and often unintentionally revealing. I only wish I could have stayed for the whole thing.
The keynote speaker was Elizabeth Edwards, wife of former Senator John Edwards, who is out now promoting her book, Saving Graces: Finding Solace and Strength from Friends and Strangers. (If I'm not mistaken the proceeds from this book go to charity?)
The founder of Redstate.com, one of those Bizarro-world conservative blogging communities, expected - as did I - that her message would be tainted with politics or at least be a prolonged plug for her book. That would have been only fair, after all.
Instead, I found her to be a genuinely nice person, what I think of as the modern Southern lady, the kind of folks I grew up with. Insightful and inclusive in her remarks (with no books in sight - I mean at all), Ms. Edwards was wonderfully down to earth - especially when you consider she'd just made an appearance on Oprah a few days earlier.
She had a lot to say about creating and being involved in online (and offline) communities; it's what her book is about, essentially. Apparently. I haven't read it. Her presentation was unprepared and casual and I couldn't have been more impressed. There's a certain joy in watching someone who is clearly used to public speaking kick back and engage an audience, off the cuff. That takes a certain talent that few people possess.
I was going to say that she's the polar opposite of Laura Bush - without that being a slam on either lady; and how impressive it was that someone can be that plain spoken after all she's been through in the glaring public spotlight. I certainly wouldn't expect to see that much humility in Hillary Clinton or Mrs. George Allen or Tipper Gore.
Tuesday, December 7, 2010 - 5:56pm
TELEVISION LEGEND ALAN ALDA
First I asked him about one of my favorite movies of the early-1980s The Four Seasons which he wrote, directed, and starred in with Carol Burnett, Sandy Dennis, Rita Moreno and Jack Weston. Then the actor tells us about how the cold weather helped the cast of M*A*S*H bond while shooting the pilot.
Tuesday, December 7, 2010 - 11:58am
Burr Tillstrom was television's first genius. Along with Ernie Kovacs he brought wit and intelligence to TV in its infancy but failed to make a smooth transition out of the medium's messy adolescence, reduced to hosting boring foreign films on CBS Saturday mornings in the 1970s - when he could find work at all.
Tillstrom's creation 'Kukla, Fran & Ollie' (1947-1957) was ostensibly a children's program but as many adults watched as kids because of the hip pop culture references and the magical way Tillstrom brought his puppet characters to life.
Airing live and largely improvised (ala 'Curb Your Enthusiasm') each production was a tour de farce through Tillstrom's whimsical imagination. No wonder James Thurber was an unabashed fan, as were John Steinbeck and Orson Welles.
For the first time ever a collection of 20 of the earliest 'Kukla, Fran & Ollie' shows has been released by the Chicago History Museum where the Burr Tillstrom archive rests. This two-disc set includes two of what are considered the finest 'Kukla' shows, 'Lemonade' and 'The Mikado'. 'Lemonade' is a spot on satire of our over-hyped capitalist society (and this was the fifties!) while 'The Mikado' is a hilarious send up of the back stage turmoil involved in putting on an opera, a catty and clever performance worthy of an episode of 'Frasier'.
Other highlights include a Christmas episode and the very funny 'Salute To Television' from 1949.
Kukla.tv is the official web site for more info or to order this limited edition collector's item - at $14.50 it would make a great gift for the classic TV enthusiast who has everything.
Here's a portion of 'Lemonade' from this DVD collection - Kukla wants to start a lemonade stand but things get out of hand and soon it's an episode of 'Mad Men'.
Sunday, December 5, 2010 - 11:00am
Sunday, December 5, 2010 - 10:23am
THE LAST GREAT CHRISTMAS ALBUM
A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector works for me while the Motown Christmas albums most certainly don't - Spector's got more soul for one thing and the arrangements are playful and joyful while the Motown tunes feel forced. I never got the feeling that Diana Ross and the Supremes or The Jackson Five had ever even heard the songs on their Christmas records, much less had an overwhelming desire to sing them.
But Ronnie Spector and Darlene Love tear into those holiday hits on A Christmas Gift like their lives depended on it. Come to think of it, maybe they did if Phil Spector was locked and loaded that night in the studio.
The LP didn't do so well on its original release date - that was the day Kennedy was assassinated - but A Christmas Gift was massively popular when it was re-released in 1971. Spector's Wall of Sound was perfect for the holiday genre. 'Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)' soulfully sung by Darlene Love has become a bona fide holiday classic but Love's 'White Christmas' and The Ronettes 'Frosty The Snowman' and 'Sleigh Ride' are equally as pleasing. There is no better soundtrack for a modern Christmas party.
Listen to the orgasmic orchestration on 'Sleigh Ride' and just try to sit still.
And the sublime sounds of Darlene Love singing 'Winter Wonderland' followed by more from the LP including 'Baby Please Come Home'. These tunes get more airplay today than they did back in the day.
Saturday, December 4, 2010 - 1:40pm
Webisode Four of The Hive is now online at thehivetv.ning.com/
Dexter gets picked up for a 6th season.
Friday, December 3, 2010 - 9:15am
THIS 'N' THAT
Speaking of fails, Susan Boyle stopped dead in her tracks right in the middle of singing 'O Holy Night' on The View yesterday. The song was retaped for the West Coast broadcast.
Jeffrey Donovan is set to direct the upcoming BURN NOTICE MOVIE starring Bruce Campbell. Shooting will begin in January on location in Bogota, Columbia. The two-hour movie will air on USA Network in Spring 2011.
Ooh! Ooh! One of my favorite sitcoms of all time is coming to DVD - Car 54 Where Are You?, the release date of the complete first season is February 22nd.
Apropos of nothing this is a song I enjoy listening to - 'Love Is All' by The Tallest Man on Earth. Don't you love weird band names? My favorite is New World Odor, an LA band in the 1990s but others have taken the name I believe.
Wednesday, December 1, 2010 - 8:45am
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