Thursday, October 27, 2005

Time After Time

That's the name of one of my all-time favorite songs and one of the best songs of the 80s IMHO .. I never get tired of hearing it (check out Cyndi Lauper's reinterpreted version of her song on her new album; pretty cool). For all the grief that the 80s get for greed, bad fashion sense, ugly car designs -- all of that well-deserved criticism, BTW -- the music from that decade doesn't get enough credit. There was some great music being made then .. New Wave bands like the Cars, the Boomtown Rats, Depeche Mode and New Order all churned out incredible songs. So did the metal bands like Judas Priest, Ozzy Osbourne (before he permanently hopped onboard the Crazy Train and drank away what was left of his musical ability), Motley Crue and the lighter fare like Ratt and Bon Jovi. Hey, say what you will about their unwise fashion choices and shameless flaunting of their feminine tendencies (c'mon guys; did you really need that much hairspray?); but you can't deny alot of those bands could write good songs. Bon Jovi in particular were masters of the Pop hook. Go ahead, raise your hand if you can sing along with You Give Love A Bad Name. Don't lie, you know you know the words. I just saw them in concert recently at the Nokia Theatre in Times Square as they were out promoting their new disc. I couldn't believe how well some of their songs have aged .. I hadn't heard Raise Your Hands since like 1987, but when they played it at the concert it sounded like a brand new song.
Bottom line is, a good tune is a good tune. Doesn't matter what the person singing it is wearing or if they're wearing spandex. So if you grew up in the 80s, don't be ashamed to listen to the songs of your youth. There's a reason 80s nights are popular in clubs; its the music, stupid! So hit iTunes and start downloading those closet classics. Whether you liked dance music like Lime (Say You Love Me) or Lisa Lisa (Can You Feel The Beat .. ) -- or metal like the Crue (forget Theatre of Pain; go for Shout At The Devil. Every song on that disc will tear you up, especially Looks That Kill) and Judas Priest (You Got Another Thing Comin' is just a bad-ass song. The utter coolness of this song is probably what made Priest fans overlook all the incredibly obvious signs of lead singer Rob Halford's homosexuality. Yeah, that had to be why they couldn't believe the guy who had a Caesar cut while wearing skin-tight black leather w/chains was gay. Uh-huh. Yeah. Right.).

I do recommend though digging past just the usual Top 40 songs from the era that always get airplay. I've had my fill of "Electric Avenue" and "C'mon, Eileen," thank you very much. Listen to T'pau's "Heart & Soul" .. or "Funky Little Beat" .. or how about "Do You Want It Right Now?" Great stuff!

Ok, I'm out. On my iPod right now: "Only Lonely" by Bon Jovi.

Oh. Yeah.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Weather Woes

As I stare outside my window here in NYC, another miserably wet (and cold!) day coming to an end, I'm thinking about my mom down in Miami. Hurricane Wilma ripped South Florida apart, left nearly 2 million people without power -- some won't get it back for 4 WEEKS! Can you imagine being without electricity for that long? Think about what that means -- no TV, no refrigerated food, no microwave, no TV, no radio, no computer, no ATM [which means no food, gas or water since without electricity most stores can't use their credit card machines so its cash only], no AC, no lights ...!! This has been an unbelievable year, one that really spotlights how woefully unprepared the world's most powerful and advanced country is for a temper tantrum by Mother Nature. If Hurricane Katrina didn't prove it, Wilma certainly has.
Or .. at least it would to those few people who actually know how bad it is in South Florida. If you're watching the major cable networks, its been buried the past 2 days beneath coverage of the Nor'easter dumping a couple inches of rain and gusting winds across the Northeast. Hey, I live in Manhattan, I'm seeing it firsthand, I know we're having miserable weather. But a major American region is thisclose to an emergency crisis, while not as bad as New Orleans after Katrina, but still much worse than many think, and a lot worse than the rain we're experiencing. We all learned during Katrina how important it is for the media not to get distracted by the story of the day, when a bigger picture item is still unfolding. Unfortunately, news stations and networks are run by the ADD generation, so its become a greater challenge to keep the media's eye on the ball, so to speak. Hopefully, for my family, friends and everyone else down in South Florida, that challenge will be met.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Go Oprah!

The government's woeful response to Hurricane Katrina has most of the country outraged. It only gets worse with every new story coming out about how trucks carrying supplies were turned away in the first few days after the storm hit, or how it took days for the National Guard to arrive in town to help the overmatched local police. And then there is the just-discovered FEMA memo that shows Mike Brown asked to send 1,000 emergency workers to the region -- 5 HOURS after Katrina hit. The memo also indicated little urgency was being felt on the governmental side.

And then there are the numerous reports of private citizens and companies who were trying to bring supplies in to the region, only to be turned back! My goodness .. but, the good news is Canada's offer to help has finally been accepted -- a full week after our northern neighbors first offered. I wonder how many meetings it took before someone in DC said, "Well, you know, it is the worst natural disaster in our history. Maybe we should accept Canada's help." Unbelievable.

Jay Leno's writing staff couldn't make this stuff up. If this wasn't such a tragedy, it would be laughable how incompetent the agency is appearing. Thankfully, some people do know how to respond to a crisis like this .. who know how to get help -- and get it fast -- to those who need it.

Thank God for Oprah Winfrey!

Her recent shows from the Gulf Coast have been so powerful in their depiction of the sheer devastation down there .. I don't know how anyone can watch it without being moved. Her group of all-star reporters (Julia, Travolta, Rock, Lisa Marie, McConaughey) have really brought the personal stories home. Her regular correspondents (Her Friend Gayle, Nate, Dr. Oz) have also been great.

Where Oprah's show has separated itself from the work done by the networks and cable channels is by showing us the real images of New Orleans -- the dead bodies on the street, lying there like trash. These are our fellow Americans, and they died on the street! The images are graphic, often unwatchable. But we need to see them. We all need to see them, to really understand what happened down there. I applaud her for doing it.

I also give her props for showing the plight of the animals down there. I'll come right out and say it; I'm a dog person. My two dogs, Bernice & Serena, are my kids (check out the photos - bernice is the little one w/the red harness). It took days before the major networks even mentioned the fact that thousands of pets were fighting for their lives. It was as if they felt they were being disrespectful to the human suffering by mentioning the animals' situation. I frankly don't understand that. All those pets belonged to families. I think Campbell Brown on Weekend Today was the first to really discuss how thousands of pets were lost in the Gulf Coast area.

But Oprah's a dog person, as her fans know. So she made sure to turn the spotlight on the four-legged victims of this disaster, using personal stories to drive the point home. Like the guy who didn't want to evacuate without his 14-year old dog .. a dog he's had since he was 10 years old. The authorities wouldn't budge, but thankfully Nate took the dog in and later reunited the two. That poor guy was refusing to evacuate .. refusing to put his own life before his faithful companion. How could anyone who saw that story not see that these loyal animals deserve help, too?

Besides that, Oprah also showed the frustration, the outrage so many of us feel over the response to Katrina.

I've never been her biggest fan; in fact, up until very recently, I would refuse to sit down with my wife and watch Oprah because, like many men, I suspect, I thought she was a man-hating, manipulative, insanely self-absorbed talk show host. But then, something happened. I actually watched one of her shows, the gifts one. And I noticed that she wasn't just giving out extravagant gifts to rich Chicago housewives. She filled the audience with teachers .. people whose lives could really be enriched by the huge windfall. And that's when I became a believer.

So you stay on the Gulf Coast as long as you have to, Oprah. Make a difference. You already have.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

So Long, Little Buddy

Saw the news today that Bob Denver, best known as the title character in "Gilligan's Island," had died. I'm not someone who gets that emotional when a popular figure passes on; My wife and mother-in-law, for example, have sometimes bawled over the death of a celebrity (my wife still gets choked up whenever an old Three's Company rerun pops up - she was a HUGE John Ritter fan). But that's not me.
Usually I think, 'what a shame' .. he/she was great in (fill in the blank) movie/tv show. But I rarely feel as if I've lost someone close to me. Why should I? I didn't know them personally.

With Bob Denver, it was different. He was the star of my favorite sitcom ever. I remember being 6 years old, watching reruns of 'Gilligan' back in Miami (during the days of 4 channels) after school. And watching them -- again and again and again. I bet I've seen every episode of that series a couple dozen times each over the years. And that's why the show is a perfect sitcom. Because people like me, who weren't even born when the show was first on, call it their favorite sitcom. And you can watch it over and over again.

The radioactive vegetables episode? Sure, I know what happens, but I still watch it every time my channel-surfing brings me to TBS. Why? Because watching Gilligan lift those phony props thanks to the radioactive-boosted spinach IS FUNNY! That's just me; I find silly 60's sitcom humor entertaining .. and nobody best exemplified this type of comedy than Bob Denver.

Although he was around 30 years old when the show started, Denver still played the role like a teenager, and I liked that. I identified with him because he was the kid who felt the grownups didn't take him seriously. Of course, he did wreck about 56 chances for them to get off the island .. but that's not the point. I could identify with him. I liked all the other castaways, for various reasons (Mary Ann guys. It's all about Mary Ann) ..but I could identify with Gilligan. Sure he pissed off the Skipper alot .. but without him .. the girls wouldn't have been able to make coconut cream pies. You don't think all those coconuts just fell off the tree, do you?

Here's how much I loved that silly show. When I was in college, I walked into a Gap store and bought .. a Gilligan hat. No kidding. As soon as I saw it .. that's what I called it and bought it on the spot .. purely for the fact that it was a chance to sport the same hat Gilligan did. Now if only they would have had the red rugby shirt.

My wife met Bob Denver during a promotional interview a few years ago .. on a boat! I've had the pleasure of meeting several celebrities .. but that was one celeb sighting I wished I could have made. Because to this day, a big smile comes across my face whenever I watch an old Gilligan's episode.

So here's to you, Bob Denver. You made a lot of kids, in age and in attitude, happy. And this 34-year-old kid wants to say thanks.

Rest in Peace, Little Buddy


Thursday, September 01, 2005

Hurricane Katrina


This Blog was started as a way for me to discuss my favorite (and least favorite) aspects of Movies, TV, Music & Comic Books. By the pathetic number of posts I've made since I started this little project (two?! Are you kidding me?) its obvious I haven't taken it that seriously or not set aside enough time. But the events of the past few days in the Gulf Coast lit a fire, so to speak, and I feel compelled to share my thoughts on the devastation down there.

I work in TV news, so a good part of my job is watching all the tape coming in and seeing what the other networks are doing. And words simply don't do the situation justice.

Shock, depression, disgust, heartbreak, frustration -- and anger. Mind-bending, fist-pounding, shout-at-the-top-of-your-lungs anger.

Anger at the delay in responding to help the people of New Orleans, Gulfport & Biloxi, Miss. Their governments, on a local, state and national level, have let them down. Many feel, and rightfully so, like they've been abandoned.

I don't know, maybe the Louisiana Governor's office was too busy congratulating themselves for dodging another Hurricane bullet on Monday to listen to what New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin was saying -- that even though Katrina did not deliver the direct hit experts had predicted, the damage was still extensive.

WHY WASN'T THE NATIONAL GUARD SENT IN IMMEDIATELY? I'm from Miami; after Andrew hit the area in 1992 .. looting never became a widespread problem because the Guard was mobilized immediately .. for that exact reason.

In the months and years to come, as the aftermath of this storm is debated and discussed, one of the decisions I'm sure will be dissected over and over, is the one made on Monday to ingore the looting and focus on rescuing people. Admirable in intent, disastrous in result.

Not that there is a guidebook for this sort of tragedy .. but if there was one, you can bet one of the main rules would be to always, ALWAYS, maintain order. Without it, you have no chance to maintain any semblance of a civilized society. And New Orleans officials tossed out the opportunity to maintain order without a second thought. Now, order has slipped out of their grasp and chaos has taken over.

Some people will say, like the President, that the lawlessness must be dealt with. The looters should be dealt with harshly and ruthlessly. Initially, I was one of those. The scenes of people looting stores and stealing anything they could angered me. Then I paused for a moment and put myself in their shoes.

If I was trapped inside my own city, seeing no signs of help coming our way, what would I do? How far would I go to help my friends and family? As far as I had to, I realized. I know if that was me, I'd be carrying all the water and food I could carry out of whatever store I found.

That said, those people stealing laptops and TVs are annoying me .. more for the fact that they are wasting precious looting time grabbing items they have absolutely no use for. What are you going to do, pull a Macgyver and jerry-rig a power source for the laptop with Duracell batteries?

I heard something tonight on Nightly News that I never thought I would hear in connection with the United States. A reporter was discussing the deteriorating situation when he mentioned helicopters were having trouble making food drops in the area.

FOOD DROPS! In the land of plenty .. of super-sized fries, double-whoppers, sugar-laden cereals, $4.99 all-you-can-eat buffets and half-chicken platters with four sides of your choosing .. we are having trouble making food drops.

For Goodness sake, this is America, not Ethiopa. What I was watching and hearing was something I thought I would only ever experience in a report on the NBC Nightly or CNN at about 45 minutes past the hour. But it was happening here in one of the most unique cities in the U.S. A city that has seen its identity, its past, its civility and hope -- and perhaps its future -- washed away.

Four days into this disaster .. those poor people feel like they have been tossed aside and forgotten. Who can blame them? Where is the help? Where is the help?

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Ticketmaster Stinks

It really does. If an idealistic professor at an American university ever needs the perfect example to illustrate why monopolies are a bad idea, all he/she has to do is hold up a ticket stub to the fill-in-the-blank concert. One look at the obscene service fees they charge per ticket, not to mention the horribly below-standard website that I bet is the cause of more smashed computers and multiple F-bomb &#%$ rants than anything short of a local news cut-in during the last five minutes of General Hospital -- on a Friday.

I tried getting tickets to one of 5 U2 concerts happening in October in NYC. I couldn't get 1 ticket -- not 1 ticket! -- to any of the shows. I have a cable modem so bandwidth isn't the problem -- the problem is a system that can't handle a high volume of traffic. That's the funny thing, though. How can the amount of traffic be suprising? Do they not expect fans of the world's most popular band to flood the Internet trying to get tickets? Maybe the higher ups at Ticketmaster feel their hefty profits are better spent earning interest than reinvested back into their infrastructure. After all, what are upset customers like myself going to do, stop using Ticketmaster and use another service?

Unless you like getting raped and pillaged by ticket brokers, that is not an option. Unbelievable. And I haven't mentioned Ticketmaster's phone service. This may sound like sour grapes, but the next time I score a pair of tickets over the phone on the day they go on sale, it will be the first. And I've been a concertgoer for 17 years.

What a great business. You operate in a field with steady demand, no competition, you can scrimp on customer service because your customers are held hostage by the lack of options, the government does nothing about it and the only people with the guts to take a stand were a grunge band (Pearl Jam) on the downslope of their popularity.

I don't know .. maybe instead of bashing them I should congratulate them on being brilliant businessmen.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005


Has there ever been a show as addictive as '24?' Seriously, it's like the China White of television. Once you invest two hours, three at most, into it, the show gets its dramatic hooks into you and never lets go. Last night was no exception. Before the first commercial break we saw someone (Paul, Audrey's soon-to-be ex-husband) getting tortured for information (which is a well-known rite of passage for '24' characters), Jack kill 3 bad guys, and a bad guy commando unit arrive looking to kill both of them. All of this while L.A. is in the midst of a blackout caused by an EMP blast (don't ask; just go with it).

L.A. being L.A., a blackout means one thing -- looters! Which of course is used as a plot device to put Jack in a position to pad his body count, which after episode 13(?), is nearing the 2 dozen mark. Mr. Bauer resumed his body-bagging ways in a big way last night, after being noticeably merciful the past few weeks [Last week, he took down those 3 security guards using just his hands and head -- what, he couldn't have snapped at least one of their necks?].

Last night also was proof of another '24ism' -- bad things happen to people who hang around Jack. Poor Paul had a better chance of surviving the day if he would have been working with the terrorists.

I'm really enjoying Season 4 -- I know some people complain that the series doesn't have as many twists but they've really ramped up the action, so I think that's a good trade-off. Besides, I have no idea where the writers are taking us regarding the big storyline, so I'm happy.

But the best part of this season has been the focus on Jack & Tony's friendship. That has been the most well-developed aspect of the show during its history (aside from Jack's tortured existence) and Kiefer & Carlos have really shined in their scenes together. I just hope the bloodthirsty writers don't make Tony's redemption his swan song. Aside from Jack Bauer, Tony Almeida is the show's most well-developed character. But I wouldn't bet this month's mortgage payment on Tony living another day.

Now if only they would bring back Chloe ...