Wednesday, April 29, 2009

At Home with the Stars [LIFE]

Here's a cool set of photos from LIFE: candid (or not-so-candid) photos of some of our favorite greats like Mr & Mrs Newman, Sophia Loren, Olivia De Havilland, and Maureen O'Hara in their homes.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

You go to my head

Sung by everyone from Dinah Shore to Rod Steward, including Ella, Louis, Judy Garland, and Ole Blue Eyes, J. Fred Coots and Haven Gillespie's (of "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" fame)"You Go To My Head" is a charming alkie's serenade to a lover-- "I find the very mention of you like a kick in a julep or two."

I thought I'd take the opportunity to pair Billie Holiday's sultry version of the song with a photo of Holiday by Herman Leonard. Leonard opened his first studio after WWII, and photographed all over the world, including spending time as Marlon Brando's personal photographer while Brando toured the Far East. His studio in New Orleans was damaged during Katrina, and he now works out of Studio City. His collection is on display at the Smithsonian. If you browse his website as well as the Edelman Gallery page, the source of the pictures in this post, you'll probably recognize not just the names (including Pearl Bailey, Sarah Vaughan, Chet Baker) but some of the shots, including a famous one of Ella Fitzgerald on stage being watched by Duke Ellington in the audience. As Quincy Jones said, "When people think of jazz, their mental picture is likely one of Herman's."

Friday, April 17, 2009

Moi je joue

So Sofia Coppola has finally done one thing right (though that doesn't make up for her awkwardly saying "Cuz" every other minute in the Godfather Part III to Andy Garcia.) And that is to have used Brigitte Bardot's sunny, flirty "Moi je joue" in an ad she recently made for Dior.

The ad I can take or leave, but the Bardot track is perfect for one of our on-again spring weekends. Enjoy the sun!

[Image from docMacro.]

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

I'm Throwing My Arms Around Paris

A few things-- I haven't actually gotten around yet to listening to the new Morrissey album, shame on me. But as for this vid. . . well, the dogs are cute. And Moz has already written this song, but the new words help.

With Morrissey you walk a thin line between not taking him seriously and not writing him off as a big old douchey joke (personality-wise, not in terms of his undeniable talent, though some would disagree.) It's no real secret that Mozzers takes himself seriously (I mean, the man changed his shirt on stage 4 times when I saw him), but it's harder to excuse him for the posturing when he's doing Gene Kelly dance moves (not that that's anything new) and wearing the necklace of a bohemian-rich Upper Westside woman and enough eyeshadow to make him look like Dracu-moz.

But I guess when all is said and done, it is Morrissey. And we do love Morrissey.

I love the announcer, whose supremely confident voice in saying, "First blah blah, Morrissey is throwing his arms around Paris, and why not?" is actually masking how much of a cop-out that question is as a closing clause. Um, and sorry about the TLC-esque commercial at the end. . . this one lets you embed.

Monday, April 13, 2009

no, i totally need this.

And you do too.

ThinkGeek, which has a stupid amount of insanely awesome (or an insane amount of stupidly awesome) stuff, includes in their stock Japanese capsule toys-- those little toys you get from vending machines. We have them over here, too, but ours are small potatoes compared to these:

The entire line-up is the the fertility idol, the headpiece to the Staff of Ra, the Ark, Nurhachi's (spelling?) remains urn, a Shankara stone, the Grail, the WE WON'T MENTION IT, and the wee voodoo Indy doll.

And they all come on little keychains shaped like Indy's whip. And they are unfortunately all sold out.

They do have this little 1.5" guy, though.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!

(Gas station shut down during the 1973 oil crisis and converted into a revival hall.)

Entered "Jesus" into my iTunes, got a bunch of stuff (Green Day, Johnny Cash, Moz, Hank, the usual suspects) and then realized that I didn't have the one song I suddenly realized I wanted to post. So a few minutes later, and here we are-- Paul Newman singing "Plastic Jesus" off the Cool Hand Luke Soundtrack. You can read about the origins of the song, which was inspired by a radio-pastor's corny religious heal-all products, here, and see the clip from the film, here.

Paul of STWOF just directed me to his excellent Jesus Mix, so you can party down with Jesus (and Billy Joe and Loretta)- and don't miss the Baby Jesus Grace, or as our brothers in the south call him, Jesús. I finally have the track so I can make people listen to it instead of me trying to approximate it :)

Thursday, April 09, 2009

New Rancid Single: "Last One to Die"

This track was previewed on the 7th online (what's today?-- erm, looks like I'm a few days late) and on the 6th on KROQ. This is the first single off Rancid's perpetually-delayed 7th album, Let the Dominoes Fall, which is slated-- no longer tentatively it looks like-- for a June release.

I can't lie. I've only listened to a few times while writing this and I am pretty unimpressed. The beat is plodding and the music is uninteresting and a little messy. This could be okay, but in light of how exciting and groundbreaking Rancid has been in the past, I really hope that they chose the one milquetoast song off the album and released it as the first single as a joke. There's nothing even catchy about it; the anthem is uninspiring, just a trailing off progression that doesn't get the listening or the song anywhere.

Maybe it will grow on me, but if this is what the album is going to be like, it's just retracing old ground that a group this mature shouldn't be touching with a ten-foot pole. That's not to say there's anything wrong with the classics, but this isn't taking time-tested musical tropes and putting them to good use. It feels like things are on autopilot, and even though Tim tries to excite the listener with a few "come on!"s near the end, the song isn't rousing, urgent, danceable or affecting, which is an anomaly for a Rancid track. Maybe my expectations are too high-- it's not a bad song, per se, just lackluster-- but I think a group that has done such excellent work deserves high expectations. So I won't give up hope,-- I'm still excited about the new album and the other singles, and we'll see how it goes as we get closer to the drop date.

You can preview it at Rancid's Myspace, where it is also available for download. What do you guys think of it?

Also, as a heads up, Machete, who does Rancid's merch, is having a huge sale of Rancid tees starting at $5.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Who Got Me Dancing?

I could never really get into Lady Sovereign and this has kind of sealed the deal. The video for "I Got You Dancing" has her abandoning the side ponytail for a variety of familiar outfits (though all make her look like that chick from Matilda) to rap (?) in the voice of a computer with a cold while The Warriors is slowly reduced to a musical performed by the patrons of any restaurant in Chelsea. Sure it's catchy, but so is every other song with this beat.

A quoi ca cert l'amour

Set to the voices of Edith Piaf and Theo Sarapo, this video about a boy and girl is animated by Louis Clichy and produced by Cube. The animation is fantastic and clean, and Clichy makes great use of perspective and camera work. The result is a charming, highly cinematic short. You can see more of his art- likewise impressive and whimsical, some of it recalling Quentin Blake-- at his blog.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

This just in: Youtube comments actually make you dumber.

But sometimes it makes you laugh. These kids and their zingers. (from this vid.)


Sitting around the other night on one of the last days of my first week after spring break, which turned into a pseudo-spring break of its own, watching Youtube videos (the night started out because I just had to show my friend the video for "Roc Boys") I realized that I hadn't listened or really thought out OutKast in awhile. While the duo is still officially together (I believe), little has been heard from them in awhile. Their last collaboration was Idlewild, which came out in 2006. Statements from the two have confirmed that they are working on solo projects, which will be followed by an OutKast album proper, though this is looking like a longterm thing.

I can't really give any new information about the group. I think they are one of the more original artists around today. They prove again and again their savvy and intelligence. It's lucky that they have met a corresponding commercial success (6 Grammys, over 25 million records sold) that allows them to continue experimenting and pushing the boundaries of both music and pop. Their songs are always complex and evident of the two artists' considerable knowledge of music and its tradition. At the same time, I am not much more than a casual fan and an admirer so like I said, I won't be telling you anything new.

But I figured I'd throw up a few of their songs that were made into videos, which are always very impressive- everything from the sense of style to the narrative is spot on. I particularly recommend the West Side Story-influenced "Roses" which includes a very literal high school play interpretation of his vocal portions as well as "You speakerboxx guys! No speakerboxing. I hate speakerboxing!" Also, the track off the Idlewild sountrack has a great vid.

All tracks are through Skreemr.


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