Sunday, August 26, 2007

Random fact

I was born on the very day that "The Greatest American Hero" debuted with it's 2 hour pilot.

My dad always loves telling me me that he remembers sitting in the waiting room(I had a problematic birth) and seeing the show. I never realized that it was the debut.

I've never actually seen the show, but I'm definitely going to make time or it very soon.

So, any idea what was on the tube when you were born?

Thursday, August 23, 2007

From the cutting room floor: Maria Bamford: AKA: Funny Lady of the Month

I used to do a semi regular "funny lady" posting. But that was a few years and a couple of blogs ago. But I was recently thinking about bringing it back. If there is one thing that I enjoy more than movies(and I think we know how I like those) it is Stand-up comedy. It really is an art form, and not one that just anyone can do..though I they could...that would mean I would have had hope. Anyway, even casual stand-up fans can tell that there is not an overabundance of female comedians topping the charts. Why is this the case? My belief is that a lot of it boils down to old school prejudice. Women can damn sure be as funny(if not funnier) than men, sadly they don't always get the chance. That was my original thinking when I started pointing out the good ones, which by the way there are a LOT of not so good ones out there as well so watch out.

So, when I was toying with the resurrection I really only had one name in mind for the first subject, Maria Bamford. I wrote up a draft of what would have been the beginning I then promptly closed the draft, felt like I wasn't doing it justice and put it aside and forgot about it. That is until the other day when I was doing some cleanup, and now I present to you, for better or for worse, with very little editing, my rough draft...We'll just call this more of a peek into my process than anything else.

Comedy is a subjective thing isn't it? I mean for the most part, we all know that there are some things that are funny to everyone no matter what(like say someone slipping on ice tumbling over and spilling their newly bought bag of groceries all over the street... We all laugh at that). What I am thinking about specifically right now is stand-up comedy. Not only is comedy subjective but it can at times also be downright baffling. What the masses gravitate towards quite often is the watered down, safe stuff. Comedy with a false sense of edginess (because “out there” is good... just not too far out there.)

That being said, once in a while some really good stuff breaks through and people take notice. I have a prediction to make....

I predict that anyone who hasn't jumped on the Maria Bamford bandwagon will in the very near future.

I first took notice of Maria's around her 2001 Comedy Central Presents special. Back then I remember thinking how refreshing it was to see a female comedian being funny while not falling becoming a cliché.

After that I lost track of Maria for a little bit. I recognized her when I saw(or heard) her on TV or in movies and I still enjoyed her CCP special whenever it was replaye (once I got my TiVo it was one of the first shows I ever put on do not delete status, I still have it). But then in the last couple of years thanks to a combination of the Internet, and of course the Comedians of Comedy movie, TV series, and tour I have become acquainted with her talent once again.

The Comedians of Comedy show, movie, and tour really can't be adequately summed up in a short paragraph. So for now I'll just talk briefly about the show I went to in Lansing. To start the venue was very strange to me, the place was called the Temple Club and it was an old church that had been converted into a small music club. The place even had the original stained glass windows up, they were covered with red curtains but with the light shining through you could still see very clearly the holy images. That made made the place creepy(to me at least). Anyway onto the show, I was at an awesome table, dead center to the stage but far enough back so I wouldn't catch the attention of the comedians (a fear I've acquired since hearing the story of how my friend was pulled up on stage by D.L. Hughley).

I'll cut forward to Maria's time on stage. Hilarious, she did seem a bit distracted at first but when she hit her stride boy did she! Thanks in no small part to Maria's contribution I count that as the best comedy show I have ever been to live.

Now the present. Maria Bamford: How to Win! also available from
Maria Bamford - How to Win!

This has the singular distinction of being the only album I have ever bought from iTunes, yep I was that impatient to hear it.

“How to Win!” is certainly a winner(I couldn't resist the easy joke, which is why I'm not a comedian...well that and th paralyzing fear of public speaking, and the lack of writing discipline). Laughter starts from the get go where she begins by explaining her definition of the word party. Of course the voices are back, which if you know Maria you know that is a good thing. She even throws in an impression of her pug Blossom for good measure. Temp work/firing, TV, therapy, evil, even Alicia Keys, anything is potential and hilarious material.

Bottom line, Maria rocks it with great stage presence, strong material, and an originality which is completely refreshing in todays mainstream comedy scene.

Need another reason to love Maria? How about the fact that over at she is part of the iptv movement.

Still haven't had enough? Ok then, head over to and watch her clips from there as well.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Today' homework

Watch Maria Bamford perform in Montreal. Warning, it isn't exactly safe for work.

For good measure here is a small clip from the "Comedians of Comedy" stop in Eugene, Oregon.

Finally, because I thought this was funny and I can. Here is another star of the "Comedians of Comedy" Zack Galifianakis scaring Eliza Dushku(My choice in Slayer)on the set of Tru Calling.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

90 minutes

At about the 90 minute mark movies (especially current ones) are wrapping up. Not "Lawrence of Arabia." At about 90 minutes "Lawrence" is hitting it's stride!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Update on a challenge or: How I learned to stop worring about making my blog titles long

Ok I admit the title of this one was a cheap joke but come on, "Dr. Strangelove" has like one of the most awesome full titles of all time. I just couldn't resist.

So, back in May I smashed my ego into bits by taking a little IMDB top 100 challenge. The object was simple, take the IMDB top 100 movies list from May 2004 and throw a bold font on the ones you have seen.

I clocked in at 46, pathetic. I couldn't even break the halfway mark. But a few months have past and I have knocked off a few more (ok only 9 plus one that I had seen previously but missed it when marking.) notches off of the old IMDB belt. Grand total now, 56 which puts me above the halfway mark.

So here is the updated list.

Godfather, The (1972)
Shawshank Redemption, The (1994)
Godfather: Part II, The (1974)
Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, The (2003)
Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, The (2002)

Schindler's List (1993)
Shichinin no samurai (1954)
Casablanca (1942)
Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001)
Star Wars (1977)
Citizen Kane (1941)
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)
Dr. Strangelove (1964)
Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Rear Window (1954)
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
Pulp Fiction (1994)
Usual Suspects, The (1995)
Memento (2000)
North by Northwest (1959)
12 Angry Men (1957)

Buono, il brutto, il cattivo, Il (1966)
Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
Psycho (1960)
Fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain, Le (2001)
Silence of the Lambs, The (1991)
It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
Goodfellas (1990)
American Beauty (1999)

Sunset Blvd. (1950)
Vertigo (1958)
Matrix, The (1999)

Cidade de Deus (2002)
To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
C'era una volta il West (1968)
Apocalypse Now (1979)
Pianist, The (2002)
Third Man, The (1949)
Paths of Glory (1957)
Taxi Driver (1976)
Fight Club (1999)

Sen to Chihiro no kamikakushi (2001)
Some Like It Hot (1959)
Double Indemnity (1944)
Boot, Das (1981)
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
Singin' in the Rain (1952)

Chinatown (1974)
L.A. Confidential (1997)
Maltese Falcon, The (1941)
Requiem for a Dream (2000)
All About Eve (1950)
M (1931)
Bridge on the River Kwai, The (1957)
Se7en (1995)
Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)
Saving Private Ryan (1998)

Rashômon (1950)
Raging Bull (1980)
Wizard of Oz, The (1939)
Alien (1979)
American History X (1998)

Sting, The (1973)
Léon (1994)
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)
Manchurian Candidate, The (1962)
Vita è bella, La (1997)
Touch of Evil (1958)
Treasure of the Sierra Madre, The (1948)
Finding Nemo (2003)
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
Reservoir Dogs (1992)

Great Escape, The (1963)
Modern Times (1936)
Clockwork Orange, A (1971)
Amadeus (1984)
On the Waterfront (1954)
Ran (1985)
Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003)
Annie Hall (1977)
Wo hu cang long (2000)
Jaws (1975)
Apartment, The (1960)
Braveheart (1995)
High Noon (1952)
Aliens (1986)
Fargo (1996)

Strangers on a Train (1951)
Shining, The (1980)
Metropolis (1927)
Blade Runner (1982)
Sixth Sense, The (1999)

City Lights (1931)
Donnie Darko (2001)
Duck Soup (1933)

Great Dictator, The (1940)
General, The (1927)
Sjunde inseglet, Det (1957)
Princess Bride, The (1987)
Dogville (2003)

For clarity here is the list of the newly viewed.

Shawshank Redemption, The (1994)
Citizen Kane (1941)
Dr. Strangelove (1964)
Rear Window (1954)
North by Northwest (1959)
To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
Raging Bull (1980)
Clockwork Orange, A (1971)
Jaws (1975)

That may not seem like a lot, but with these flicks you are definitely talking about quality over quantity.

“Das Boot” was going to be on the updated list, is it on my desk right now. Unfortunately the local Blockbuster store was kind enough to rent me an unplayable DVD (not the first time this has happened) so I had to kill that plan. On the upside “The Shawshank Redemption” played just fine and completely exceeded my already high expectations. I expect I'll be spending more time in Shawshank, perhaps sooner than later.

Quick Thoughts

Jaws: Made me realize that Spielberg really did come right out of the gate running at full speed.

A Clockwork Orange, Dr. Strangelove, and 2001: Taught me that Kubrick movies really should be viewed multiple times to appreciate them. “Clockwork” Also gave me a completely renewed respect for Malcolm McDowell.

Rear Window: There is no way that Shia LaBeouf can trump James Stewart, I'll withhold final judgment until after I see “Disturbia.” But I'm not holding my breath for it to surpass the Hitchcock classic.

North by Northwest: Really fun movie. After all it is “A 3000 MILE CHASE . . . That blazes a trail of TERROR to a gripping, spine-chilling climax ! “ Sorry, I just love that tagline. Also...Is it me or did Hitchcock have a really good eye for the ladies?

Raging Bull: Brutal! Really good as well, but I mean damn......brutal.

To Kill a Mockingbird: I think I've made my opinion fairly clear and I still stand by what I said!

Citizen Kane: I really wish that I could go back and erase what little I knew about this movie going into it so I could have experienced the surprise at the end without knowing it was coming.

The Shawshank Redemption: It's funny, I've seen bits and pieces of “Shawshank” here and there for years but I never put the puzzle together. Once I sat down and watched it from beginning to end it really blew me away. By the way, how great was James Whitmore's performance?

Le Fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain (AKE “Amélie ”): The one that got away. I saw this way way back when I was going to ITT, a friend recommended it to me after we had a conversation about “Run Lola Run.”

One more thing, just for the record. Pulling an all niter featuring “North by Northwest” followed by “Rear Window” is pretty awesome, if you can pull it off.

Friday, August 10, 2007

A brief video interlude while we iron out some technical difficulties. plan was to talk about the experience of watching 209 minutes of subtitled "Das Boot" a movie that is on the top of many lists and as usual I have yet to see. Unfortunately once I got home with the DVD and popped it into my player I was met with artifacts, screeches and eventually a freezing screen. Large deep scratches and near gouges disc can do that. I'm not super upset, these things do happen, I'll just put it on my online rental queue. The thing that always worries me is that I'll get a jerk at the local store who will think I did the damage. Gonna take it back in tomorrow, we'll see what happens (I need to think of a suitable replacement since I know they only have the one copy of that movie).

So, instead of actual content how about a couple of videos followed within 24 hours by a progress report on my IMDB list quest.

Video 1. David Tennant(My personal choice in Doctor) and Catherine Tate in a Comic Relief bit from this year (British TV is starting to make me completely jealous)

Video 2. A picture tribute to some of the women of film. I don't think this will need an explanation. about one more. Because the Sci-Fi channel is currently reminding me that it is time to watch the actual movie again here is a little bit of Flash Gordon!