JUST SAW THIS TRAILER IN THE THEATRE. IT LOOKED AWSOME. -- AN OSCAR CONTENDER FOR RELEASE IN FALL OF 2008!
Saturday, February 16, 2008
Many years ago, I enjoyed Richard Falkirk’s tales of Blackstone, a London thieftaker in the days before the Bow Street Runners. Recently, I ran across Ratcatcher, the start of a new thieftaker series by James Mcgee.
Mcgee’s hero is Mathew Hawkwood, assigned by his boss , Chief Magistrate James Read, to investigate a case of highway robbery in the course of which an Admiralty courier is killed and vital documents stolen.
Hawkwood seeks help from an old army colleague, Jago – a man now well connected with the criminal underworld. Soon ,Hawkwood finds other cases assigned to him including the murder of Warlock, a fellow thieftaker, and the disappearance of Josiah Woodburn, a respected master clockmaker.
The cases turn out to be linked and revolve around French spies and a plot by the French to utilize a new type of weapon – the submarine – to destroy British ships at anchor in London and assassinating the Prince Regent in the process.
I enjoyed Hawkwood and the historical research behind the writing, and I’ll be looking for the sequels – The Resurrectionist and Rapscallion.
DEATH OF A MAID / M. C. BEATON
Beaton is a deceptive writer. While on the surface she may appear a lightweight Agatha Christie, in reality her stories carry a surprising complexity, spilling over into her characterizations – making you care about Hamish and about how he is going to solve the crime.
I’m a great admirer of these tales. They flow smoothly with a comfortable familiarity. The Scottish village setting (the sleepy Scottish town of Lochdubh), while cozy, is rife with modern day motives and crimes. The police procedure is actually very solid, the clues well developed, and the loose ends always tied up. Perfect reads for stress relief.
I must admit part of my enjoyment for these tales has been in listening to the unabridged versions on CD. Reader Graeme Malcolm 's Scottish burrs are his finest accent, and he relishes Hamish and his doings with obvious delight. The stories are filled with juicy eccentrics whom Malcolm has a field day bringing to life.
HER ROYAL SPYNESS / RHYS BOWEN
Rhys Bowen started her mystery writing career producing virtual clones of the Hamish Macbeth novels with her constable Evan Evans tales. While well written and enjoyable, the biggest difference between the two series is Macbeth is a small village constable in Scotland while Evans is a small village constable in Wales.
Like the Macbeth books, I enjoy the Evan Evans tales, but Bowen has started a new series with Her Royal Spyness set in 1930 London and featuring Lady Victoria Georgiana Charlotte Eugenie, thirty-fourth in line for the English throne. For some reason I’ve never been intrigued enough to read Bowens other established series about Molly Murphy set in 19th century New York, but this first outing for Lady Euginie (Georgie to her pals) is quite a hoot.
Georgie has been educated to curtsey, host lavish fetes and marry well. However, she has never lit a fire, cooked a proper meal, or done anything practical. Rather than be set up to marry a fish-faced foreign prince, Georgie bolts from the family castle without a penny and is quickly out of her depth in a London she never knew existed.
Balancing demands by the Queen with the need to clear her brother of a murder charge, Georgie’s turns detective and finds her true calling. If you harboring no expectations, Her Royal Spyness is undemanding, lightweight fun.
Like Hamish Macbeth mentioned above, Rumpole’s world is populated with an assortment of oddball yet endearing characters. We immediately recognize She Who Must Be obeyed, Judge Mad Bull Bullingham, the Timpson family, and many others without whom a Rumpole tale would not be a Rumpole tale.
In this latest outing, Rumpole Misbehaves, we are treated to many glasses of Pomeroy’s very ordinary, and the usual assortment of small cigars, as Rumpole once again heaves himself to his hind legs in defense of the defenseless. As always, his cases run the gamut from the insignificant (a young boy making a ruckus in the neighborhood with his football), to major (the murder of a prostitute), to inspired (having to defend himself in court against being served with an Anti-Social Behavior Order). As always, the case – while separate – tie together in surprising ways.
While the late Leo McKern remains indelibly as the image of Rumpole in the minds of most readers, it is author John Mortimer’s prose which has made the character immortal.
DEAD HEAT / DICK FRANCIS WITH FELIX FRANCIS
Dick Francis has long held the top spot as my favorite author. It didn’t bother me when the supposedly shocking news was revealed after the death of his wife that she had been the power behind the writing. It doesn’t bother me now that Dicks son Francis has picked up where his mother left off. All I care about is getting a new Dick Francis title every year.
After last year’s successful first collaboration between father and son –
Under Orders, in which they wisely brought back Francis most beloved character Sid Halley – Dead Heat taps into all the trademarks for which Francis is known.
In usual first person Francis narrative, the hero is a charming fellow connected in some fashion to British Horse racing who finds himself attacked on all sides in a manner he does not understand.
Max Moreton, a young Michelin-recognized chef, unknowingly caters a poisoned dinner on the eve of the prestigious Newmarket 2,000 Guineas race. While still reeling from the repercussions of this action, he is continuing his business on Guineas Day – catering to a special party of race goers – when the site is blown up.
While terrorist who missed their target (an Arabian Prince who changes boxes at the last minute) are believed responsible for the bombing. Max's kitchen is closed due to the poisoning from the night before, and he's served with a notice of prosecution under the Food Safety Act. In typical Francis fashion these are the least of his hero’s worries as the attacks against him escalate, placing his life and reputation in danger, forcing him to fight back.
I’m not much into pop-lit writers, but any book by Nick Hornby is an exception. Three of his previous works, Fever Pitch, High Fidelity, and About A Boy, have been wonders of thirty-something desperation. Now, with Slam, Hornby turns his penetrating, bitingly humorous prose on a younger generation.
Fifteen-year-old skateboarder Sam thinks his life is finally going okay. He’s read top skateboarder Tony Hawk’s autobiography a bazillion times and tries to live by Hawk’s philosophy. He’s so deep into Hawk that when ever he has a problem he talks to the life-size poster of Hawk on his bedroom wall – and Hawk talks back in appropriate, inappropriate, and sort of appropriate quotes from his book. When Sam’s life takes a major slam, he finds himself needing all of Hawk’s advise to save himself.
The conceit behind Slam is quite clever, but in less skilled hands it could never have succeeded as it does here. Aspiring writers could do worse than reading Slam a bazillion times and talking to a poster of Nick Hornby for guidance.
BEING THAT LATER THIS YEAR, WE'LL BE GETTING "THE DARK KNIGHT," THE SEQUEL TO "BATMAN BEGINS," WARNER BROS PLANS FOR A ANIME-STYLE SIX-PART ANTHOLOGY THAT BRIDGES THE GAPS BETWEEN THE TWO FILMS. "BATMAN: GOTHAM KNIGHT" IS AN "ANIMATRIX"-STYLE TOON DIRECTED BY BRUCE W. TIMM, CO-CREATOR AND PRODUCER OF THE STUPENDOUS "BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES."
THE FILM’S SIX SEGMENTS ARE WRITTEN BY COMIC HEAVYWEIGHTS JOSH OLSON, DAVID GOYER, BRIAN AZZARELLO, GREG RUCKA, JORDAN GOLDBERG, AND ALAN BURNETT. EACH SEGMENT HAS ITS OWN WRITING AND ARTISTIC STYLE.
CHECK OUT THIS 9-MINUTE SNEAK PEAK.
Friday, February 15, 2008
ONE OF THE COOLEST SWING BANDS AROUND, PHAT CAT SWINGER WILL BE PUTTING YOU ON THE DANCE FLOOR THIS SUNDAY EVENING!
PHAT CAT SWINGER
FEBRUARY 17TH, 2008
BORDERLINE BAR & GRILL
99 ROLLING OAKS DR
(JUST OFF THE FREEWAY AT THE MOORPARK ROAD OFFRAMP)
EAST COAST & LINDY SWING DANCE LESSONS
5:30 PM AND 6:30 PM
THIS IS A GREAT CHANCE TO CATCH THIS SWINGING BAND IN A GREAT LOCAL VENUE!
Thursday, February 14, 2008
Coming March 18th, the follow-up to Judy Wexler's critically acclaimed debut Easy on the Heart confirms her status as one of the finest rising bop-influenced jazz vocalists on today's music scene. Dreams & Shadows features an eclectic repertoire, including "Spooky" and "Almost Blue," with inventive arrangements by piano greats Alan Pasqua and Jeff Colella. The sideman list includes saxman Bob Sheppard, bassist Darek Oles, and drummer Joe LaBarbera.
Wexler, admired for her warm voice and nuanced approach to melody and lyrics, is a natural storyteller. She is also "one of the most focused, unpretentious, no-nonsense, bop-oriented jazz singers around," according to Harvey Siders in JazzTimes, with "a big, appealing voice and a healthy sense of swing," wrote Alex Henderson in All Music Guide. Easy On The Heart, made radio waves and introduced her to a wide jazz audience; now Dreams & Shadows, confirms her ability to find great songs and effortlessly bring them to life.
YOUR KIDS AND GRANDKIDS PROBABLY CAN.
THE INFLUENCE OF COMPUTERS AND VIDEO GAMES IN OUR LIVES HAS REALLY ARRIVED, WOULDN'T YOU SAY SO?
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
This set piece was my personal highlight of Sunday's Grammy's.
Its opening paired songstress Alicia Keys with the one and only Chairman of the Board (ala Nat King Cole and daughter Natalie).
It was the perfect opening and Keys proved herself not a bad jazz singer. And as for Frank... Well, just watch. His late '50s, early '60s rendition of "Learnin' the Blues" is right on the money.
Universal releases the long-awaited THE EQUALIZER - SEASON ONE, in which Callan star Edward Woodward plays McCall, a former Intelligence operative who attempts to atone for his shady past by working for "The Company," using his unique skill set to right wrongs and generally equalize things. 24 mastermind Joel Surnow contributed a number of scripts, and got his start as a producer on this show. Season One, which ran from 1985-86, includes twenty-two episodes. Retail is $49.98.
Grammy Winner Steve Tyrell is back from a sold-out run at the exclusive Carlyle in Manhattan and in Los Angeles to play one more week at Catalina Bar and Grill on Sunset Blvd. with two shows Thursday through Saturday (8:30PM and 10:30PM) and one show on Sunday.
As well as performing favorites from his previous 6 albums, he will also be playing tunes from his upcoming CD release "Back to Bacharach" (May 2008 from KOCH).
These new additions to his repetoire are near and dear to his heart as he started his career working with the legendary Burt Bacharach and Hal David.
February 14th through 17th
Catalina Bar and Grill6725
Presented by the Ventura Music Festival, the Poncho Sanchez Latin Band will perform at 8 p.m. Saturday in the Ventura High School Theatre.
The event will kick off the 14th annual Ventura Music Festival, a 10-day extravaganza running May 1-10.
Themed "Appassionata: The Age of Romance," the event will feature music that celebrates the era from 1825-1900. Performers will include soprano and Ventura native Nicole Cabell, violinist Leila Josefowicz, Italian pianist Giuseppe Albanese, Mexican tenor David Lomeli, Turtle String Quartet, Concertante and Concord Ensemble.
During the Ventura show, Sanchez and his band will play one number, "Watermelon Man," on stage with Jessica.
"We wanted something simple and fun to play, something we can all perform just to have a good time," said Sanchez, who lives in Whittier and performs throughout the world. "I hope Jessica feels that positive energy of going onstage."
Jessica is a talented and creative individual, and all of her classmates are very happy she won the contest, said Fundi Legohn, director of the performing arts department at Oxnard High School.
"When I announced the news to the class, she just about fell out of her chair and the entire class gave her a standing ovation," Legohn said. "She is surprised and elated for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."
As reward for her efforts, Jessica's entire class will attend the concert courtesy of the Ventura Music Festival to cheer her on.
"I'm very happy and excited to see her play and I think it's going to be a great experience for her and also for her friends," said Sanchez. "It should be fun and exciting for everybody in the community."
Born in Texas in 1951 into a large Mexican-American family, Sanchez grew up in the Los Angeles area, where he was weaned on a broad range of Latin and non-Latin popular music.
Inspired by the conga playing of Cuban great Mongo Santamaria, he honed his skills as a percussionist and broke into the limelight at age 23 when he joined vibraphonist Cal Tjader's famed Latin jazz ensemble in 1975.
With Concord Records, Sanchez has played with trumpeter Freddie Hubbard, saxophonist Eddie Harris, Latin jazz patriarch Tito Puente, Santamaria and the late Ray Charles. He has produced two dozen recordings, earned a Grammy Award and received several Grammy nominations.
For Sanchez, performing in Ventura County with a focus on youth is a way of giving back. "I was lucky because I'm the youngest of 11 kids, so I had a lot of positive role models to look up to," Sanchez said. "Now I try to do that for other youths."
Each year, the Ventura Music Festival reaches out to thousands of students, thanks to grants and community support. The festival works within the school system and encourages students to experience the magic that happens when music becomes a part of their lives.
Students also are invited to free outreach concerts and are offered the chance to attend master classes that take place at the time of the festival.
For event organizers, the student contest was a natural next step in the continuing evolution of an educational outreach program that has been going for many years, said Cheryl Heitmann, executive director of the Ventura Music Festival.
"We know there are many wonderful jazz music programs at schools throughout the county," Heitmann said. "We decided to take this one step further and provide a student with the exciting opportunity to actually perform with one of the world's greatest jazz musicians."
With nearly a dozen schools inquiring about the competition and four tapes submitted, festival organizers were pleased with the response and congratulate Jessica, Heitmann added.
"It will be an exciting evening, pairing a local talent with a world-renowned musician," she said. "We hope that meeting Poncho, her experience with him and the onstage experience will forever remain with Jessica."
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
John Griswold, author of 2005’s Ian Fleming’s James Bond: Annotations and Chronologies, has designed a centenary medallion to commemorate Ian Fleming. These medallions are made of solid brass/polished brass and the other ones have an antiqued finish and are also solid brass.
The medallions are available for purchase through eBay online. (Front side and back side of medallion images are shown.) Each Ian Fleming Centenary Medallion are approximately 3 inches in diameter and each weighs .625 lbs. ( 5/8th of a pound).
Monday, February 11, 2008
ONE OF OUR NEW FAVORITES, LAUREN KOVAL, WILL BE BACK AT THE WONDERFUL CATALINA BAR & GRILL. THIS INTIMATE SUPPER CLUB IS THE PERFECT SETTING FOR GREAT JAZZ AND STANDARDS, AND LAUREN’S SULTRY VOICE AND SIREN LOOKS WILL PUT THE EVENING OVER THE TOP!
MARCH 12, 2008
8:30 – 10:00 PM
DOORS OPEN FOR DINNER AT 7:00 PM
CATALINA BAR & GRILL
6725 SUNSET BOULEVARD
HOLLYWOOD, CA 90028
TICKETS $15.00 (MIN 2 DRINKS OR DINNER)
BE THERE. WE WILL!
Sunday, February 10, 2008
This year (2008) marks the 50th anniversary of Stereo and the 60th anniversary of Vinyl Long Playing Microgroove Records
I'm sure that many sites will dedicate much more space, time and knowledge than I can on the subject but I just wanted to mention it for those who weren't aware.
A few milestones:
Many people and countries contributed to the long history and invention of music on disc, for space sake we start our little list at the true birth of "modern" vinyl.
Production of records halted by the advent of World War II and the lack of shellac due to the invasion of South East Asia by the Japanese.The replacement of the base material was discovered from a plastic resin derivative of petroleum called vinyl
The first V-Discs were shipped from the RCA Victor pressing plant in Camden, New Jersey
RCA Victor releases the very first commercial vinylite record
Columbia introduces the first 12-inch 33-1/3 rpm microgroove LP vinylite record with 23-minute play-time per side it also has a special turntable to play them on made by Philco
RCA Victor introduce the 7-inch 45 rpm micro-groove vinyl single and compatible turn table.
The improvements in sound quality of the new vinyl format encourage record companies to embrace the technology, this marks the beginning of the end for the 78rpm shellac disc and RCA Victor issues records on Columbia 12 inch LP format.
First Jukebox able to play 7 inch 45 rpm records
Record companies deliver 7 inch 45 rpm record singles to radio stations instead of 78s
The Recording Industry Association of America chooses the Westrex standard for stereo records. Stereo vinyl is to became the dominant medium of recorded music
RCA introduces its first stereo LPs
This is the birth of the modern stereophonic microgroove long-playing record as we know it today.
The vinyl record has had somewhat of a revival in recent years, thanks in part to dj's it must be said, without whom they would probably have died out long ago (amongst the average user at least) but because of the dj crowd manufactureres have continued to produce turntables and even start to re-release albums on vinyl yet again.
Obviously the dj isn't the only reason for this, many people have re-ignited their passion for vinyl after years of collecting "invisible" music as mp3's, which great as they are, don't actually exist in the true sense of the word. These files are stored as millions of 0's and 1's on our hard drives and could all disappear over night (how reliable is your HDD?).
Another thing to look into is the life-span of the various media, digital music (mp3's etc) are OK as long as you continue to back them up (hopefully not having any data errors!).
CD's are good for decades, so the experts say but having had experience with laser rot on Laserdiscs I'm not so sure. Compact discs are pressed much like vinyl records, then to make them reflective they are coated with an Aluminium layer, this is then covered in plastic to protect it. the trouble is if the Aluminium layer ever gets exposed to the air it oxidies and corrupts the data (I have a couple of early discs which look very brownish and stained). Then you have the ink used to print on the disc eating into it!
Vinyl records are quite a simple beast and this is the very thing that makes them the most stable and long-life format to collect on.
With vinyl of course, they actually contain the music on the disc (as opposed to a data representation of it) and even the label is melted into the plastic during pressing, so no nasty glues to come unstuck, so they start out ahead in terms of longevity. They are also composed from a single piece/layer of plastic, whereas a CD is multiple layers of different material stuck/bonded together, which is never a great idea to start with.
All things being equal, a vinyl record should last for hundreds (maybe thousands) of years before the natural decomposition occurs. CD's on the other hand, having different material mixed together will start to internally corrupt after so long (how long, know one knows yet!)
As with many things in life we discover that the simple way of doing things really is the best (and most reliable).
I won't go into the relative merits of each formats sound quality, suffice it to say we all have our own preferances.
I hope this little article has been interesting and if anyone wants to add to (or correct) anything, please leave a comment. Tell everyone about your own collecting experiences.
I wonder if we will still be listening to CD's and mp3's in 50-60 years time?
The concept behind the character and series was innovative and, frankly ripe with possibilities. In fact, here's that concept, as described by Darrigo himself in the title's introductory pages:
"Who is Tony Bravado? he's not a cop -- but he's been one. He's not a private eye -- but he's got a P.I. license. He's not a security consultant -- but that's what he calls himself at tax time. Bravado is a bodyguard and very personal agent for multi-millionaire businessman Lance Palmer. Palmer's business holdings made him famous among Wall Street watchers, but when he developed the 'Eden' concept he became a world-class celebrity. And a lot wealthier."
Millionaire Palmer's 'Eden ' concept combines high-class resorts with an upscale magazine of erotica aimed at married couples.
To read more about this retro comic series check out Chris Mills’ blog at www.gunsinthegutters.blogspot.com/
Our blog buddy Tanner at www.doubleosection.blogspot.com recently posted about the sale of all four volumes of the current James Bond "Ultimate Collection" on sale for under $25 apiece at www.deepdiscount.com/ These two-disc special editions were available for prices like this in certain sales before Christmas, but if you still haven't picked them up, now's a great opportunity to do so! At these rates, you can own all the two-disc special editions for considerably cheaper than collecting the single-disc versions of the movies available in each set. And they're worth it!
Tanner is also touting the www.deepdiscount.com sale of The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. for just $22.14 ($77 off from its normal - admittedly exorbitant - asking price of $99.95).
As Tanner tells us: The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. starred Burn Notice co-star Bruce Campbell as a bounty hunter searching for the gang who killed his father--and "the coming thing"--in the waning days of the Old West. But it wasn't really as straightforward as that. The brainchild of Lost mastermind Carlton Cuse and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade screenwriter Jeffrey Boam, it flummoxed Fox network executives by blending comedy, Western and sci-fi genres in a wholly original way. Its closest progenitor was probably The Wild Wild West, so fans of that series would probably enjoy Brisco.
One standout episode finds Brisco escorting Ms. Emma Steed, an American double agent posing as a Mexican spy, to the Mexican border to be exchanged for an operative held prisoner by the Mexicans. It parodied everything from Bond to West to The Avengers to The Beatles while playing as a good, straightforward espionage yarn at the same time. he tone of the series should make it appealing to fans of the other shows mentioned here. Highly recommended.