Thursday, March 06, 2008

CD Pick of the Week: Johnny Whitehorse
Totemic Flute Chants was the 2008 Grammy Award-winner for Best Native American Music Album. Whitehorse is the alter-ego of Robert Mirabal, an extremely talented singer/songwriter/guitarist/flutist and one of my top two favorite Native American performers. This blend of flute, keyboard, tribal drums and vocals celebrates our animal spirit guides. Beautiful music, ranging from meditative to quietly powerful.
(For the record, I'm an owl. Husband is definitely coyote.)
...and still nothing on
Yeah, 80+ channels on TV and still nothing on. Why is that? Why is American TV so, well, crappy? Reality TV (why would I want to spend time with people that I wouldn't invite into my home?). Entirely un-funny sitcoms. Crime dramas so lacking in mystery that my cat could solve the crime before the TV detective can. One-hit wonder has-beens. Bad movies. Newsmagazines. Remember when TV was good? No, I'm not sure I can either.

Like most people, Husband and I have cable TV and yet with all those channels to chose from, we still can't find anything worth watching. Even PBS...I mean if I have to skip one more "Golden Age of Do-Wop" show I may cry. Yes, there are the good old PBS standbys. Masterpiece Theatre, Mystery, Nova, American Experience. But there is so much out there that I have absolutely no interest in seeing.

I have a few don't-miss favorites. I'm completely hooked on the Discovery Channel, especially Dirty Jobs andMythbusters. I love Torchwood and Doctor Who. And I'll watch pretty much anything about doesn't even matter what the subject is. World War I. The Renaissance. Civil War medicine. Women's rights. The development of the atom bomb. I don't care. But one can only watch so much history before it begins to slide out of the brain.

I miss pure escapism. The simple joy of watching a comedy that is actually funny. (Reruns of I Love Lucy will always make me laugh more than any comedy currently on the air.) Or enjoying a drama with an intelligent script and solid acting (not just pretty people who know how to recite.) But today's audiences seem content with so little. And really, why should a network pay for writers and actors when it's so much cheaper to invite a bunch of second-rate celebrities to tango?

But I just wish America had higher standards? Where are today's classics? Will any show currently on the air rank up there with The Mary Tyler Moore Show in terms of being remembered? The only network show our TV ever turns to is Lost which Husband completely loves. I don't watch anything on network. I'm strictly a cable girl. And it seems that HBO is the answer to most people's hunger for good TV. But even there nothing appeals to me. I never could get into The Sopranos or The Wire.

When I was a kid (and I'm dating myself here), before there were 80 channels of cable, I remember my family turning the TV on after dinner and enjoying it all evening. OK, so not everything was great, but even something like The Waltons or The Wonderful World of Disney was better than How I Met Your Mother and Survivor: Pacoima.

Thank heavens for good books.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Puttin' on my cranky boots
- It's amazing that people will pay $30,ooo for a brand-new SUV that apparently doesn't have working turn signals. Why is that? Why do SUVs not come with working turn signals?
- Why is "popular" American music so bland and soulless? And when did lyrics stop making sense? Have you heard any song in the past year that you think will be remembered 30 years from now?
- Why is it that female newscasters all have to be thin and beautiful, but male newscasters can look have faces like the north end of a south-facing cow and still have a successful career?
- Why is it that conservative bumper-stickers are short and to the point but liberal bumper-stickers are 27-work epics that you can't read while driving behind them on the freeway? No, really. Why? For every "Support our troops" sticker there's some poor Prius driver with a sticker that reads "I really don't think war is a very good idea and I think we should all wage peace. Oh yeah, and don't eat meat."
- What is the appeal of American Idol? Why is it that a million people can tell you who won last season but can't tell you who is the Prime Minister of Great Britain?
- Is there a reason why so many has-beens have there own reality show? Is there a line? A waiting room? Does one show get cancelled and some secretary comes out into the waiting room and says "Erik Estrada, you're next?"
- How come the smaller the purse the more expensive it is? And are they small because you spent so much money on the damned purse that you can't afford stuff to put in it?
- Not knocking Christmas cheer and all that, but why doesn't it occur to people that the underprivileged kids who need presents at Christmas need new shoes in the summer, and school supplies in the fall, and a warm coat in the winter, and...?
- Why can't I seem to ever finish reading National Geographic before the next issue arrives?
- The man who invented informercials should burn in a fiery hell. Worst thing to ever happen to insomniacs.

That's it. Talk among yourselves.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

A productive use of jail time
Convicted of fraud, Jonathan Lee Riches is spending his 8-year sentence in an obviously productive way. by suing pretty much everyone on the planet. He claims Tiger Woods stole his luggage, Barry Bonds benched-pressed him against his will, and Mike Tyson pulled the plug on his jukebox. He's apparently also suing Daniel Day-Lewis, George Orwell, and the Unabomber.

CD Pick of the Week: Kat Parra
Stylish, sexy Latin jazz from a local vocalist with an all-star band that includes percussionist John Santos, Ray Vega on trumpet, and Wayne Wallace on trombone. Her new release Azucar de Amor showcases her warm, delicious voice, effortless style, and engaging way of phrasing things. Several tracks are non-Latin tunes given a fresh (and colorful) coat of paint. Great stuff, one star each track. Lyrics in Spanish and English.
And the winner is...
During the recent Academy Awards they showed a montage of all the Best Picture winners over the years. It made Husband and I realize that there were many we'd never seen and we decided to remedy that. Within reason, of course. I'd rather have a bikini wax than ever have to sit through Terms of Endearment or Titanic ever again.

This past weekend we crossed one off the list. The wonderful 1966 costume drama A Man for All Seasons featuring Paul Scofield as Sir Thomas More. Since it deals with More's martyrdom for refusing to reject the Catholic Church and support Henry VIII's quest for wife number two, it lead to a discussion of moral courage. Husband said he'd probably wimp out and sign whatever they wanted. I said I wasn't sure. I don't think I'd ever be a religious martyr, but I'd like to think there are some things that I have the strength to die for. But I'm sure I'm idealizing my own courage. It's easy to paint yourself brave when safe at home with a mug of tea and a cat purring contentedly by your side.

We have two more Best Pictures saved in TiVo: the Charles Laughton/Clark Gable version of Mutiny on the Bounty and Kevin Costner's epic western Dances with Wolves. Husband has seen neither. (I love the man, but his film career is sadly lacking.)

It'll be interesting to see how far we get in this quest before we lose interest or forget our goal. Between the two of us I think we've seen most of them...though I'm a bit thin in the recent winners category. We're both very strong on the 30's and 40s films, but we do have a few gaps. Oh yes, and we've both seen Wings, which is good because that doesn't show up on TV very often.

We're hoping to get through all of them in 2008. I'll let you know how it goes.