Follow my lead

Twenty songs you may have never considered, but should. Start your downloading  —

*STAND! Sly and the Family Stone

*AIN’T LIFE HELL Hank Cochran and Willie Nelson

*THE WOODEN SONG Butthole Surfers

*POW! TO THE PEOPLE Make UpMakeup

*OMAHA Waylon Jennings

*LA MER Charles Trenet

*LAST SONG Marianne Faithful

*CAN’T WAIT TO GET OFF WORK Tom Waits

*(‘TIL) I KISSED YOU The Everly BrothersEverlybrothers

*CHOCOLATE TOWN Ween

*STRANGE YOUNG GIRLS The Mamas and Papas

*HEART COOKS BRAIN Modest Mouse

*STAND AND DELIVER Adam Ant

*HAPPY GO LUCKY ME Paul Evans

*LAY ME LOW Nick CaveNick_cave

*DON’T SLEEP IN THE SUBWAY Petula Clark

*FANFARE IN THE GARDEN Essential Logic

*DANCING IN THE DARK Fred Astaire

*PHOTOGRAPH Camper Van Beethoven

*GOODBYE Benny Goodman

**Bonus track — MY SPECIAL ANGEL Bobby Helms

Breakfast at Roland Garros

Nadal vs. Federer.

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Finally, a match that matters. It’s been far too long.

As a kid, my dream was to become professional tennis player. I played all the time. If I couldn’t find a partner, I’d smack a ball against our garage door for hours on end. It helped that I grew up in the era of McEnroe, Borg and Connors, great personalities and skilled craftsmen who captured the nation’s attention. 

Unfortuantely, tennis has fallen on hard times, having been overtaken by golf (YAWN) as the recreational sport of choice. Ask anyone who’s the most dominant athlete in sports today and inevitably they’ll answer (YAWN) Tiger Woods.

I’d argue that golfers are anything but athletes (Exhibit A, and B: Fat tub of goo John Daly). Besides that, Tiger’s got nothing on Roger Federer, who’s so good it hurts. Literally. Because he has no peer, tennis has suffered. Hottie Andy Roddick proved but a tease. Will Rafael Nadal flame out as well?

Nadal actually enters the finals of the French Open as somewhat of a favorite; he’s beaten Federer five out of six times, and he’s won 59 consecutive matches on clay.

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I’d wager that streak will end today. Federer is simply breathtaking to watch, and the coolest cat in sports. He’s Bjorn Borg incarnate, but better. He makes Sampras and Agassi look like Roscoe Tanner and Eliot Teltscher in comparison.

I hope Nadal finds a way, because tennis is desperate for a rivalry (it would be nice if an American could rise to that challenge). Perhaps then the most sublime of sports will make a comeback.

In defense of “Scary Movie 4″

Remember George Clooney‘s self-important Oscar speech? He’s got nothing on UCLA screenwriting professor Richard Walter

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For better and for worse, American film is world film. For better because American films rightly merit their reputation for high-end film art and craft. For worse because their power overwhelms international markets and promotes the homengization of world culture. …

Entertainment and information are our nation’s greatest export. Contrary to what Hollywood bashers would have us believe, the values they expound are generally life affirming. The vast majority of American films extoll middleclass values and the American dream. What precisely are middleclass values? A certain materialism to be sure, and what’s wrong with that? Is not a fundamental amount of material wealth — food, clothing, and shelter for example — necessary for a people truly to be free? Do not societies lacking the basics turn to the first tyrant who promises them a coq in every pot? …

And what is the American dream? It is the notion that people who get educated and work hard can rise above their station. It is the notion that merit alone wins success in even the most competitive arenas. And what is more competitive than Hollywood? Here is a place where people get paid for what others are scolded: daydreaming. In film and television people literally traffic in their own imaginations. …

More than any other American enterprise, Hollywood contributes favorably to the balance of trade and to reducing the budget deficit. It produces not a smidgen of smog; it does not befoul the aquifer. It employs the largest number of workers in the most populous state, and thousands more in states throughout the land.

Shouldn’t pundits who purport to love America honor her film and TV industry rather than slander it?

So let’s all take a moment to honor the  industry that produced “Saw,” “Very Bad Things,” Adam Sandler, Jim Belushi, Sharon Stone, “Fear Factor” and “Entertainment Tonight.” Praise be the crass and commercial.

Hey, if I lived in Syria and saw two minutes of “My Super Sweet 16″ I’d be tempted to strap a bomb onto my chest.

Those in Hollywood who are so quick to criticize our foreign policy should first look in the mirror. Impressions are made via our films and television shows, and no doubt we’re leaving a sour one.

Breakfast at Roland Garros

Nadal vs. Federer. Federernnadal_1

Finally, a match that matters. It’s been far too long.

As a kid, my dream was to become professional tennis player. I played all the time. If I couldn’t find a partner, I’d smack a ball against our garage door for hours on end. It helped that I grew up in the era of McEnroe, Borg and Connors, great personalities and skilled craftsmen who captured the nation’s attention. 

Unfortuantely, tennis has fallen on hard times, having been overtaken by golf (YAWN) as the recreational sport of choice. Ask anyone who’s the most dominant athlete in sports today and inevitably they’ll answer (YAWN) Tiger Woods.

I’d argue that golfers are anything but athletes (Exhibit A, and B: Fat tub of goo John Daly). Besides that, Tiger’s got nothing on Roger Federer, who’s so good it hurts. Literally. Because he has no peer, tennis has suffered. Hottie Andy Roddick proved but a tease. Will Rafael Nadal flame out as well?

Nadal actually enters the finals of the French Open as somewhat of a favorite; he’s beaten Federer five out of six times, and he’s won 59 consecutive matches on clay. Roscoe_tanner3

I’d wager that streak will end today. Federer is simply breathtaking to watch, and the coolest cat in sports. He’s Bjorn Borg incarnate, but better. He makes Sampras and Agassi look like Roscoe Tanner and Eliot Teltscher in comparison.

I hope Nadal finds a way, because tennis is desperate for a rivalry (it would be nice if an American could rise to that challenge). Perhaps then the most sublime of sports will make a comeback.

In defense of “Scary Movie 4″

Remember George Clooney‘s self-important Oscar speech? He’s got nothing on UCLA screenwriting professor Richard WalterClooney

For better and for worse, American film is world film. For better because American films rightly merit their reputation for high-end film art and craft. For worse because their power overwhelms international markets and promotes the homengization of world culture. …

Entertainment and information are our nation’s greatest export. Contrary to what Hollywood bashers would have us believe, the values they expound are generally life affirming. The vast majority of American films extoll middleclass values and the American dream. What precisely are middleclass values? A certain materialism to be sure, and what’s wrong with that? Is not a fundamental amount of material wealth — food, clothing, and shelter for example — necessary for a people truly to be free? Do not societies lacking the basics turn to the first tyrant who promises them a coq in every pot? …

And what is the American dream? It is the notion that people who get educated and work hard can rise above their station. It is the notion that merit alone wins success in even the most competitive arenas. And what is more competitive than Hollywood? Here is a place where people get paid for what others are scolded: daydreaming. In film and television people literally traffic in their own imaginations. …

More than any other American enterprise, Hollywood contributes favorably to the balance of trade and to reducing the budget deficit. It produces not a smidgen of smog; it does not befoul the aquifer. It employs the largest number of workers in the most populous state, and thousands more in states throughout the land.

Shouldn’t pundits who purport to love America honor her film and TV industry rather than slander it?

So let’s all take a moment to honor the  industry that produced "Saw," "Very Bad Things," Adam Sandler, Jim Belushi, Sharon Stone, "Fear Factor" and "Entertainment Tonight." Praise be the crass and commercial.

Hey, if I lived in Syria and saw two minutes of "My Super Sweet 16" I’d be tempted to strap a bomb onto my chest.

Those in Hollywood who are so quick to criticize our foreign policy should first look in the mirror. Impressions are made via our films and television shows, and no doubt we’re leaving a sour one.

Because I have nothing else to say

I’ve decided, for one night at least, to revive my count-up of the worst alt-rock songs of the 90s, if only because I had the misfortune of hearing Better Than Ezra on the radio today —

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It was good livin with you (wahow)

It was good (awwawawa, wahow)

It was good livin with you (wahow)

It was good (awwawawa)

Good, good, good, good, good, good

I sure turned into an interesting driveway

It’s 8:15 here in the ATL, and I’ve eschewed an offer to hit the town because “Sunset Boulevard” is on TCM. Since it’s been a good six months since I last saw the Billy Wilder classic, I had no choice but to stay in.

I can’t tell you how much I relate to Joe Gillis (so masterfully played by William Holden, in a role originally  offered to Montgomery Clift … no slight intended towards Monty, but thank God he passed. I’m sure he lived to regret it).

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Anyways … I am Joe Gillis. I worked at a small-town newspaper before moving to L.A. to pursue a screenwriting career, just like J.G. I lived a block away from the Alto Nido apartments, where my fictional role model resided.

Like J.G., I failed miserably. I grew so desperate that I would’ve no doubt followed Gillis’ lead and shacked up with an aging chanteuse, if such an opportunity had presented itself. You survive in Hollywood any way you can.

Fortunately, I didn’t end up dead, face down in a pool like Joe. But I can relate.

Laziness, and distraction, breeds lists, so here’s my Top 5 all-time movies (not necessarily the best, just my favorites. Sorry if I’m repeating myself … it won’t be the last time ) —

1. “Being There” (duh!)

2. “Sunset Boulevard

3. “Ghost World”

4. “Network” (More Bill Holden)

5. “Stepford Wives” (the original)

We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams

Happy birthday to Gene Wilder, who turns 70 tomorrow. His performance as Willy Wonka ranks among the greatest in filmdom, pitch perfect — creepy, funny and endearing all at once.

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It’s been awhile since Wilder had a role he could sink his teeth into, but he’s in luck. There’s this script I’m quite familiar with, “Mall Across America,” about a billionaire entreprenuer (think Rupert Murdoch) who endeavors to build an indoor mall connecting the coasts, from New York to L.A. I see Wilder in the title role, with Prince (think Ted Turner) as his nemesis.

The casting came to me in the shower one day, and I’ve learned to always trust my instincts when wet.