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Author Archives: Mt_old

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Oscars 2007

Good — Nice distribution of prizes with no one film hogging the honors; Naomi Watts’ lovely yellow gown; Melissa Etheridge’s surprise win; the classiness of Helen Mirren; montages clips that didn’t look like they came off someone’s third-generation VHS tape.

Bad — Ellen’s inoffensive, unedgy patter; Beyoncé and Eddie Murphy not clapping for Alan Arkin; too many goddamn montages; Jack Nicholson’s muggy mug.

Ugly — the broadcast’s stupefying overlength; Kirsten Dunst’s weird dress; Philip Seymour Hoffman’s skeevy hair.

Snarkier coverage here and here.

Maestro Morricone

As I write this, the Academy Awards are minutes away from starting. One of the things I’m most looking forward to at the ceremony will be the presentation of Ennio Morricone’s honorary Oscar award. The legendary Italian film composer has downplayed the honor, even going on record as to saying that he’s disappointed that he didn’t die winless. But it’ll be interesting to see what he says. The A.V. Club Blog did a nice overview of his career and how he’s managed to stay relevant over the years despite scoring a gazillion low-budget and/or forgettable flicks. One of his most beautiful melodies, for example, is “We Are One”, a foofily sung ballad from the cheesy Jaws ripoff Orca. Talk about making a silk purse from a sow’s ear. I wouldn’t want it any other way, Ennio darling.

Magazine Subjection

Y’know what I hate? When you sign up for a magazine subscription, and they begin by sending you an old issue. This happened when I started a subscription to Wired (it was only $10/yr so why not). Yesterday’s mail saw the first issue, from February. Whenever they do this, I can just tell that they’re trying to liquidate a warehouse full of unsold February issues — and that annoys me to no end. Sure enough, today I got the March issue in the mail.

100 Favorite Moments In Television Revisited

I’ve updated an old scrubbles page — 100 Favorite Moments In Television, a reprint of an article which appeared in the short-lived pop culture magazine Egg in 1991. When I first put this together back in 2003, I didn’t notice that a few missing pound symbols in the page’s HTML code resulted in a screwy looking page when viewed in Firefox. That’s been fixed, along with an addition that couldn’t have done so easily in ’03 — video links to many of the clips mentioned!

Though I’m not yet finished linking up the entire list, this little exercise has allowed me to dig up a lot of fascinating curios such as the infamous Rob Lowe/Snow White duet from the 1989 Academy Awards. The lavish musical number was actually kind of cute and not nearly the epic-sized disaster that critics called it back then.

Orphaned Music Reviews #2: March

The following music reviews were originally slated for publication in the March 2007 issue of az magazine. They appear here in unrevised form:

Among the current crop of sensitive male singer-songwriters, Ireland’s Damien Rice has made a name for himself as a coffee shop troubadour for the Starbucks generation. His second album, 9 (Heffa/Vector), expands his sound while never straying too far from the introspective folk he does best. Rice shines in emotionally raw, spare settings such as the opener “9 Crimes” — but his efforts at rocking out ring false. The resulting collection contains a few outright missteps, a handful of forgettable throwaways, and a pair of quietly powerful gems (“The Animals Were Gone”, “Coconut Skins”).

Fantasia Barrino is blessed with a timelessly soulful voice, but can she escape the ghetto of American Idol? With the simply titled Fantasia (J/Arista), she takes a confident step forward from the cookie-cutter R&B on her 2004 debut. Lead-off single “Hood Boy” smashes through with streetwise hooks and an unexpectedly cool sample of the campy Supremes oldie “The Happening”. She also delivers on the frisky “Baby Makin’ Hips” and the inevitable Diane Warren ballad “I Feel Beautiful”. Though the other songs here don’t measure up to the highlights, it’s still an enjoyably state-of-the-art set. We’re still waiting for her to make an Aretha-style album of stripped down Soul — but in the meantime this’ll do.

When part of the late ’90s Elephant Six collective, Athens, Georgia’s of Montreal started as straightforward ’60s revivalists with an predilection for the cute and whimsical side of indie pop. Nearly ten years on, they’ve moved their frame of reference up a decade and now sound like a lost New Wave dance-pop outfit on their latest effort, Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer? (Polyvinyl). While the band may still be considered an acquired taste, they display enough nifty synth melodies and herky-jerky rhythms here to make one regret throwing out those old Flock of Seagulls albums.

Great Lost TV Theme: Probe/Search

Every so often I have a mini-obsession with certain tracks in my iTunes library. Lately it’s been composer Dominic Frontiere’s theme from Probe, a made for TV movie which served as the pilot for the series Search. From what I can gather, Search was a technology-based caper series in the Mission Impossible vein. It ran for a single season, long enough to garner a nifty TV Guide cover illustrated by Bob Peak. Frontiere’s arrangement has such a totally “early ’70s TV movie” vibe, it hurts — a super swanky, swingy affair similar to Burt Bacharach’s A&M solo albums from around that same period. Unlike Burt’s stuff, however, this theme was likely never released commercially (hence the mp3’s faulty sound quality).

At the fansite Probe Control, you can download a nice mpeg of the Probe opening credits (complete with “computer” font and groovy motion graphics). The YouTube clip below demonstrates the shorter, sped up version of the theme used in Search.

mp3_sm.jpgDominic Frontiere — Probe Main Title Theme