Friday, April 30, 2010

May 1

Whose career trajectory could I compare to Ray Parker Jr? He worked his way up as a guitarist for acts like the Spinners and Barry White, parlaying that into a band called Raydio that managed a fistful of top 40 hits. Ray went solo in a big way, harnessing the power of MTV, even going too far: two years before "Thriller", he did a vampire and werewolf infested video for "The Other Woman" that was banned by MTV - turns out, they were more afraid of showing a white woman and black man on a date together.

He didn't give up on the spooky stuff, though. He accepted a movie theme songwriting gig that many artists (such as Lindsay Buckingham and Huey Lewis) had turned down: Ghostbusters. His title song became a global sensation (number 1 in U.S., top 5 in the rest of the English spekaing world) and an Oscar nominee. It also became the source of a lawsuit from Huey Lewis, who said it sounded too much like "I Want a New Drug". That lawsuit was settled out of court, but it still raises hackles between Parker and Lewis. (I guess they think neither of them can't lose... sorry...) And that's why, as of 2009, you won't find the video for "Ghostbusters" on any video or DVD release.

These days, music's a world away from the pop-funk that made Ray Parker Jr a sensation in the 80's. Family took precedence over career for him: he assumed care of his parents under their deaths in '93, he got married in '94 and concentrated on raising his kids... he didn't put out an album for 15 years.
These days, he plays smooth jazz at vineyard concerts and gushes about his collegeiate sons. He doesn't even have the jheri-curls anymore. But "Ghostbusters" never goes away; if they ever get the third movie off the ground, who wouldn't be surprised if Mr Parker Jr made an appearance on the charts once again?

April 30

Today's birthday is a cautionary tale. Glenn Humplik was the co-host on many of Tom Green's shows, from his Canadian public access show in the 90's to his ground-breaking MTV series. The signature comedy of Tom Green combined the absurdity of Ernie Kovacs with the lowest common denominator of the America's Funniest HomeVideos standard that is a baseball bat to the groin. And when Tom didn't have his parents or unsuspecting civilians to bamboozle, Glenn served as Tom's patsy.

By the time Tom Green relaunched his eponymous show on the web, Glenn was nowhere to be found. What happened between them is, publically, a mystery. Glenn doesn't speak about it, and Tom Green says that, legally, he isn't allowed to talk about it. Glenn returned to a career in IT and has a personal blog he posts about work, raising his kid, and random videos he finds on the Internet.
He's relatively gracious to fans, but not extremely forthcoming about why that chapter closed. Was Glenn tired of being treated like a sidekick instead of a co-host? Did Tom go one joke too far? Does Glenn not want to make any more humiliating videos his daughter will eventually find on the Internet? Is the money just better in the tech industry?
There's always the memories. Here's a rap that Tom composed about his old friend:

Thursday, April 29, 2010

April 29

Saturday morning used to be the best time of the week, thanks to Iwao Takamoto. Takamoto worked for Hanna-Barbara Studios from the 60's on, and became an architect of the Saturday Morning TV landscape, designing some of the most beloved cartoon characters and destinations of the 70's and 80's. His most celebrated achievement has to be the naming and design of Scooby-Doo, but he had a hand in nearly all of Hanna-Barbera's greatest Saturday Morning hits, from the Banana Splits and the Superfriends to the Smurfs and the Snorks. In the interest of full disclosure, it seems like half of those shows borrowed liberally from the Scooby Doo formula:

Animation today is in its salad days, whether you prefer the Pixar/Dreamworks theatrical renaissance or the grown-up TV shows that the Simpsons and Adult Swim have wrought; meanwhile, between cable TV and DVDs, there's practically no one left in the Saturday Morning ghetto. But the breeding ground that Saturday Morning used to be made all of today's bounty possible.
Here's a singalong to Takamoto's all-star:

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

April 28

This one's not so much undercelebrated as under-respected. Joseph Bruce, a.k.a Violent J, has been masterminding the world of the Insane Clown Posse for decades. (Fer crying out loud, they'll be eligible for the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame in 2016.) Like a true wrestling fan, he relishes the role of the bad guy, even as he uses the role to uplift the values of the good guys. He may notH have always accepted the heckles with grace, (I lived in St Louis; tell you how ICP goes down there some other time...) but by now, he's learned the value of laughing all the way to the bank.
Case in point: "Miracles", the single off the ICP's latest album. They re-released the single earlier this month with a music video, to hype the "Nuclear Edition" of their 2009 album. Two weeks later, the video got lampooned on Saturday Night Live. Bruce's response? He's honored (one step from a Weird Al parody, in his book) and asked to be on the show.
Anyway, the video's become something of a meme, and I can't miss a chance to jump on a trending train, so... Here's the notorious video for "Miracles":

And here's what SNL did with it:

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

April 27

So, why isn't James LeGros a bigger star in the universe? He's got a leading man chin and indie taste in scripts; why isn't he on the shortlist for any of these superhero movies that get greenlit every week?
Is it the name (pronounced Le-Grow)? Has he been too convincing in his burnout roles (Point Break and Drugstore Cowboy)? Has he done too much TV? (Ally McBeal, Mercy) Is he too outside Hollywood? (He's happily married, and commutes from somewhere in Wyoming) Has he done too many independent films? (My New Gun, The Myth of Fingerprints) Does he look too much like Brad Pitt? (he did beat Pitt for the lead role in Phantasm II; plus, you must see Living in Oblivion) Does James Marsden look too much like him? (C'mon, look at the guy...)

Anyway, here's a fanvid, set to Muse's "Time is Running Out", for the LeGros-starring vehicle, "Scotland, PA." Since the video encapsulates the film from beginning to end, the polite thing to do is warn about SPOILERS. Then again, mentioning that it's a remake of Shakespeare's MacBeth would also be a SPOILER:

Sunday, April 25, 2010

April 26

I bought the first solo album by ex-Replacements drummer Chris Mars. I bought it used at a resale shop, which was the only way I bought CDs back in '93. I remember how great that album was, before I even knew how great the Replacements were. "Horseshoes and Handgrenades" was one of the albums that made me a alt-rock lover, and a fan of musical underdogs.

Time has crept on, and it only convinces me further that Chris Mars was, at the least, the George Harrison of the 'Mats. After the Replacements broke up, he recorded three more solo albums, before finding more fulfillment from visual arts. He painted his first album cover, and started painting for other bands, along with exhibitions in traditional venues. Besides his lithos and oils, he's interpreted his grotesquely cute creations in sculpture and film. Here's a YouTube clip of one of his animated shorts; you can find a better copy on

April 25

I was researching Steve Ferrone for today's blog, and ended up answering one of the most nagging questions I've had the past eighteen months: what is the name of this song?

I'd been hearing "Pick Up the Pieces" on the local oldies station for months, although they'd given up on human deejays, so I never knew what the song was actually called. I'd given up ever finding out, and was resorting to "Theme Song for Public Broadcast Show at 5:30 in the Morning." Radio, bring back the deejays!
Anyway, Ferrone joined the Average White Band after this million seller was recorded, replacing their deceased drummer. He would end up seeing the band through the rest of the 70's, and the rest of their time on the charts.
After AWB, Ferrone did session work and was a hired gun for bands like Duran Duran and Scritti Politti. In 1994, Ferrone formally joined Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, which are still going strong with a tour and new album in 2010. Rock on, Ferrone...

Saturday, April 24, 2010

April 24

I'm torn, so I'm offering a twofer. Too many people I personally know to decide which birthday works better. So here's your choice: you can celebrate the birthday of the Elvis Presley of France, Dick Rivers...

On the one hand, he's France's first rock n roll star. On the other hand, good luck finding his songs on a karaoke machine in North America. Also, good luck on explaining that Dick Rivers is not a porn star...

Or you can celebrate the birthday of bassman Richard Sterban of the Oak Ridge Boys...

On the one hand, the Oak Ridge Boys are everything that makes country music your grandma's music. On the other hand, you could probably go to any karaoke bar in the world and sing "Elvira." Convincingly singing the "ba-ooom papa mow-mow" part is about as manly as crushing a beercan with your forehead...

Thursday, April 22, 2010

April 23

Since I'm writing from the heart of Kentucky, let me write about a local boy done good: Lee Majors. He was raised in Middleboro (southeast corner of the state) and graduated from Eastern Kentucky University (in Richmond, half hour from me.) His star shined brightest on TV: Big Valley, Six Million Dollar Man, Fall Guy... But one of his movies provides a real-life ghost story in my neighborhood. The 1979 film Steel featured scenes shot at the construction site of today's Kincaid Towers (Central Bank's HQ). They redid the opening high fall so stuntman AJ Bakunus could regain the world record title from a rival. At the reshoot, there was a failure with the airbag landing, and the stuntman died. There are whispers that since the building's completion, the spirit of the stuntman haunts the upper floors.
Enough ghost stories; it's Lee's day! Here's the theme to the Fall Guy, sung by the man himself:

April 22

Here's somebody I hope to discover today: Johnnie To. I've actually seen one of his early films, The Heroic Trio, but I couldn't tell you what makes his films his.

My filmmaking friend, on the other hand, swears by the guy; when most of the hot Hong Kong Directors of the 90's (Wong Kar Wai, Ringo Lam, John Woo, etc...)started using their visas, To hunkered down and kept making movies in his hometown. Ten years later, he practically was the Hong Kong movement.

He's recognized as proficient in a multitude of genres, from gangster films to romantic comedies, and he's won a couple dozen awards for his efforts.
I found this Veoh page assembled by a Johnnie To fan, with a few subtitled films of his; you can find more on the internet, if you're up on your Cantonese. Meanwhile, here's the R-rated (and potentially NSFW) "Mad Detective":

Watch Mad Detective in Entertainment  |  View More Free Videos Online at

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

April 21

Today goes to a director that, with only two films, is one of my all-time favorites. John Cameron Mitchell's Hedwig and the Angry Inch is a great movie, one of the few rock musicals that get every detail right. Hedwig is more than a rock star, he's a queer superhero: a costumed crusader with a tortured past and strange powers, on a quixotic quest for justice and love. His second film, Shortbus, is an intelligent and funny movie about sex, and the first movie I've seen that justifies a NC-17 rating without being sensationalist.

His next film, Rabbit Hole, should hit theaters this year. It's his first film adaptation of another person's script, and maybe his first Hollywood film (don't know the budget, but it stars Aaron Eckhart and Nicole Kidman.) Still, can't wait.
Meanwhile, here's the first scene of Hedwig, the song "Tear Me Down".

Another reason he's perfect for this blog: as a bit player, Mitchell appeared on episodes of "Head of the Class," "The Equalizer," and "MacGyver". He even played a heavy in the 80's action movie "Band of the Hand".` Another reason to pay attention to the little guys...

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

April 20

There are too many people to write about today, particularly of the crazy, intent-on-world-domination types. But the winner of today's birthday brawl is Bjorn Skifs, lead singer of Blue Swede, among other things. His music career has lasted over 35 years, and he represented his homeland in Eurovision Song Contest twice. He's even got a hearty film resume, between his acting and screenwriting credits.
But to English speaking audiences, if he's anything at all, he's the guy who sings with that "ooga-chaka" band. Blue Swede's version of the standard "Hooked on a Feeling" was a number 1 hit in its mid-70's release, and a hipster revival when it appeared in the Reservoir Dogs soundtrack.
You don't remember how the song goes? It's like this:

Sunday, April 18, 2010

April 19

Happy Birthday, Tim Curry! I know that I started this blog for the under-recognized, but Rocky Horror trumps that. But he's more than Dr Frank N Furter: he's got an armada of villainous roles to inspire a dozen cults. Pennywise from Stephen King's It, Legend's Lord of Darkness, Fern Gully, Muppet Treasure Island, Congo, Annie, the McHale's Navy movie, Captain Planet and the Planeteers... he was even Tim Burton's second choice for the Joker.
But we're not going to go on about that. And we're not going to talk about Nigel Thornberry or King Arthur, either (beyond this sentence.) No, we're going to spotlight his brief tenure as a rock star!

He recorded three albums with A & M, with one foot in the Lou Reed/Warren Zevon sound and another still on the West End stage. The sound didn't quite connect with audiences, although his second album did get some play on early MTV. 1981 was his third strike, and he was out, which is fine for movie fans.
In 2010, "...From the Vaults" was released, featuring several songs Tim Curry recorded in 1976 for Ode Records, a label started by Rocky Horror producer Lou Adler. That album never materialized, with only a few songs floating around in bootlegs over the decades.
Speaking of bootlegs, here's a clip from a 1978 concert featuring Tim performing Frank N Furter's signature ballad.

Still looks better than a cameraphone...

April 18

Here's to pre-rock guitarist and studio legend Tony Mottola. He picked up the guitar at age 9; by World War II he was a member of the CBS Radio Orchestra, performing with such artists as Frank Sinatra and Perry Como. Later, he joined the Doc Severinsen Orchestra on the Tonight Show. By then, he'd established a well-respected career in the background.

In the 50's, he began working on scores for movies and TV (his compositions for the Yul Brynner series Danger impressed studio heads enough to collect them for an album - the first ever soundtrack album for a TV show.) That began his solo career, playing the kind of breezy, easy listening that fits in well with the Ray
Coniff set, but never demanded center stage.
In fact, the closest to a chart hit he had was his rendtion of Burt Bacharach's "This Guy's in Love With You," which missed the top 20 on the 1968 East Listening charts. But some people remember it; here's a tribute performance, emulating that smooth drifting sound...

Friday, April 16, 2010

April 17

Here at the Birthday Blog, we love a good fight, and one of the best cinematic fights of all time features birthday boy "Rowdy" Roddy Piper versus Keith David, in a scene from "They Live". Now, this is not one of those blood-spattered kung-fu ballets or bombastically soundtracked climactic showdowns ala Rocky. I mean, the whole motivation is Roddy's guy trying to get his friend to put on a pair of sunglasses. The original script alloted about twenty seconds for the exchange.
Piper and David began rehearsing other ideas. Three weeks later...

In an interview with Freezerbox Magazine, Piper says that the original cut of the fight scene was ten minutes long, then trimmed for economy. A masterful performance featuring one of the greatest wrestling villains of all time.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

April 16

Sometimes, for an actor, it's about that one role. 1984 saw the release of the first Police Academy movie, yet another wacky/sexy R-rated 80's comedy. Among the comedy tropes thrown in the mix, the role of dim-witted, gun-toting patriot (a common character in Reagan-era comedies) Eugene Tackleberry was played by David Graf. In other films and TV shows, this character would have been a humourless idiot, if not an outright psychopath. But Graf's performance made Tackleberry into a naive and patriotic man-child: part Marine seargent, part puppy dog.
It worked so well, the character appeared in all six movies, surviving (or spearheading) their devolution to PG-rated theatrical sitcoms, and he was the only one with a character arc: he started as a bumbling NRA-loving virgin, found the locked-and-loaded woman of his dreams, got married, and eventually became instructor to the next generation of people who probably shouldn't have guns...

Michael Winslow was the human beatbox, Bubba Smith was cool, Leslie Easterbrook was stacked, but David Graf's Tackleberry was the funniest reason to watch the Police Academy movies. He's gone now, and the character he played has to be represented in the inevitable remake, but can anybody else give Tackleberry that heart?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

April 15

This one's a discovery for me, so I'm sorry not to offer any insights to Tonio K fans that visit this site via Google. He's often described as America's answer to Elvis Costello and Johnny Rotten, and I can hear that in the tracks I found. He made several albums in the post-punk era that won over critics but not crowds. He found more success as a songwriter (his biggest credit was co-writing the Vanessa Williams hit "Love Is"; he said he wrote it for Tom Waits' voice.) But I can't tell if he's done these days or sitting on a bed of songs. Heck, he just got a Myspace page in 2009, and even that's through an intermeidary.
All I know is, I'd like to hear more of this:

April 14

There's a scientific term called the Uncanny Valley, when something that looks like a person looks too much so for someone to be comfortable. The phrase has come up in recent years as robots get closer to looking and acting similar to people. But to get a better idea of what the Uncanny Valley is, compare the cartoon Alvin and the Chipmunks with the 'live-action' Alvin and the Chipmunks. Which one's adorable, and which one would you call an exterminator on?
Another form of entertainment that lives along the Uncanny Valley are marionettes, particularly the creations of Gerry Anderson. "Thunderbirds Are Go" is his most famous, but for several decades, Anderson's created several sci-fi shows, for kids and adults, utilizing "supermarionation". "Supermarionation" are puppets with solenoids in their jaws, so their mouths move in sync with an audio signal - such as an actor's dialogue. The result is a puppet that talks almost as expressively as a person, even if it still walks like a floating cardboard box.

So that might creep some people out.

Not me, nor the millions of fans that have built up over the years. Heck, watch "Team America: World Police," which is more a tribute to "Thunderbirds" than the Hollywood remake (a paycheck for Ben Kingsley, and a resume filler for Vanessa Hudgins.) Or how about this Dire Straits video for "Calling Elvis", with new and classic puppet sequences produced by Gerry Anderson:

Dire Straits - Calling Elvis

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

April 13

If James Cameron made music videos instead of feature films, I think they would look like "Gaia" by Valensia. This 1993 track, which hit #2 in the artist's native Netherlands, has this hair-metal soldier of love zooming through a computer-generated landscape as naturally as any Na'avi. Why is this guy still a secret? Is it the soaring guitars and keyboard solos? Is it the Michael Jackson army duds? Is it the pre-AutoTuned harmonies with the children's choir from the Sigur Ros video?

This entire video seems to have predicted the state of rock music for the following 20 years (while still embracing such staples as the guitar solo on the beachside cliffs, but that's the beginning of another video...)

Monday, April 12, 2010

April 12

Happy Birthday to Lisa Gerrard, formerly of Dead Can Dance. She's a contralto in the new age vein, which makes her sound like Enya's older (and goth-ier) sister. She's also known for her lyrics; she doesn't write them in English, but in a language she invented when she was 12.
The band dissolved before the 80's did, but she's done alright for herself, thanks to fans such as Tony and Ridley Scott; her vocals haunt the scores of such films as Gladiator, Man on Fire, and Black Hawk Down. She's even done some acting herself.
She also started her own recording label, for her future releases and for other uncategorizable artists (a situation Dead Can Dance could relate with for their entire career.)
Took a while to pick a track that showed off her voice but didn't give away the end of a movie. Here it is, 1995's "Sanvean":

Saturday, April 10, 2010

April 11

There are one-hit wonders, and then there are artists like Cerys Matthews. She was the lead singer in 90's band Catatonia, which almost made the jump across the pond with songs like "Mulder and Scully" and "Road Rage". But while they made their mark in the UK over the course of three albums, they never charted in the US. The band broke up in 2001, and Cerys went through her alt-country phase, moving to Nashville for a few years. But she's back in the UK now, and returning to the style and sound that was all her own.
Here's some vintage Catatonia, from their third album. Matter of fact, it's a catchy song whose only crime is it sounds too much like its older brothers and sisters. Here's a visit to "Londonium":

April 10

I'm a little off schedule, due to a hectic weekend. But I'd feel like playing Dashboard Confessional's "Hands Down" anyway (thanks for being born, Chris Carraba!)

Here's one critic's review, when he ranked it the best alternative song of 2003:
"The song starts like the mind coaching itself through a first date, whispering the things it can't say. The drums rumble like a motorcycle, the guitars jangle like they're supposed to. Then you get to the bridge, and it slows down, and you're enjoying this break as the words exult while you wait for the chorus to return, but instead the song keeps roaring and building; it's not slowing down, it's raising up, it's tearing down walls, it's exploding like fireworks all over the place, it's shifting tectonic plates, someone's turned on the lights all over the universe, shooting stars become as plentiful as bumblebees, herds of humpback whales are soaring out of the water in majestic arcs overhead, Jesus is giving you a hive-five, the Bills have won the Super Bowl, the Bills have won the Super Bowl - all because you are here and she wants you to be here..."
Man, that writer was a genius...

Friday, April 9, 2010

April 9

Today's a good day to talk about Superior Concept Monsters, an artist collective started by birthday boy Alex Kahn and others. Superior Concept Monsters creates puppets and other artworks for New York's Village Halloween Parades, as well as throughout communities the world over. They do this by rustling up volunteers from a variety of mediums and experiences, so communities can create their own pageants, inspired by their community's identity. That's a very egg-headed way of saying that they make awe-inspiring home-made parades.
Let me just roll the clip:

Thursday, April 8, 2010

April 8

Yesterday was a great day for me: day off from work, got back on the commonwealth's good side, hung with the kids, did some spring cleaning, got something off the ice cream van, and discovered an old, awesome movie ("Following" by Christopher Nolan, if you'll accept a suggestion).
Even my messups were blessings; I couldn't run videoclips for my original choice for today (let me save it for another year), but discovered two birthdays that made me change my mind. Today's Buddha's birthday, a big deal in several Asian countries. Today also happens to be an old friend's birthday, whose family I haven't seen in a long time. Given that this may be the first time in a while they'll hear from me, I found a better artist to feature...

The Biz Markiealbum I Need a Haircut is a collector's item, for historical reasons. The album itself is so-so by Markie standards, but its significance stems from the track Alone Again, which sampled Gilbert O'Sullivan's "Alone Again (Naturally)". Nobody asked Gilbert O'Sullivan, and he took Biz to court. The court found in favor of Sullivan, and all copies were pulled from shelves. Now, music with samples (75% of today's music, it seems) pay the original artist a share of the proceeds. Unless it's leaked to the internet for free. Like that ever happens...
We still love this Buddha-built MC, anyway. In the interest of karma, let's feature a special version of his biggest hit, "Just a Friend." Have you seen those 'literal video' versions? Somebody resings the lyrics of a music video classic to serve as commentary on said video? Here's a 'literal' version of the "Just a Friend" video:

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

April 7

Here's a question: how can ABBA be in the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame, while Hall and Oates are still out? Eligible since 2000, their sound has a direct line from the original rock and soul sound of the 50's and 60's, they straddled the rock, R&B, and dance genres in the 80's, and are certified the most successful duo in recording history.
And of course, we have to give props to John Oates just as much as Daryl Hall. Just look at Hall's solo career. Meanwhile, Hall & Oates are just as embraced by hip-hop and neo-soul heads as indie hipsters and professional wrestlers.

Besides his half of H20, Oates wrote a hit song for Australian exports Icehouse ("Electric Blue") and released two solo albums since the new millenium. There's also an animated series currently in development about the world-spanning adventures of John Oates and his enchanted mustache:

Not sure when that comes out. But you can find the iPhone game app.
Meanwhile Hall and Oates are back on the road this year, and Oates is still making sure Hall doesn't get too mellow.
I'm going to end this super-sized entry with two Hall & Oates songs: something for the fans, and "Possession Obsession," a top 30 hit with the distinction of putting Oates in the lead vocal spot.

and here's the encore:

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

April 6

Today is for Goggi. Georg Holm, Sigur Ros bassist, is an iconoclast in an idiosyncratic band. He's the most comfortable with the English language, since he lived in England for a brief time. He's one of the few Icelanders with a family last name (most Icelanders wear some variation of "Son of My Father" and "Daughter of That Dude") He catches trout with his bare teeth. He's been a part of Sigur Ros since the beginning (the only other bandmember that can claim that title is lead vocalist Jonsi 'Son-of-Birgi'.)
Since the band announced their extended break in 2010, this is as much Sigur
Ros as we can get for a while...

Monday, April 5, 2010

April 5

Fascinating character, this Dean Kamen. First off, he's the son of comic book artist Jack Kamen, whose cover art helped the EC Horror Comics line (Tales of the Crypt) anchor itself in the imagination of a generation. This has nothing to do with what makes Dean Kamen a great deal, but it's a cool trivia bit for a comic book geek like me.
Dean's energies are focused on inventing; he's amassed over 400 patents, for such inventions as the wearable infusion pump, the stair-climbing wheelchair, and the Segway. He's also started organizations to encourage science and math education in today's schools, to foster the next generation of inventors.
If anybody has a chance of winning a Nobel prize in two categories, I'd put my money on Kamen. Without his brilliance, we wouldn't have moments like this:

Sunday, April 4, 2010

April 4

Here's another music sensation that rose through the ranks of the Internet: Andy McKee. McKee doesn't just play the guitar, he plays it seven ways to Sunday. That's how he's managed to get several million-hit vids for her performances, and become a successful independent musician. Amazing stuff:

He's got a new album this year, and it's supposed to have a cover of "Everybody Wants to Rule the World". And really, who doesn't?

Friday, April 2, 2010

April 3

Keeping things on the international tip, I'm fascinated by the rise of Gregoire Boissenot, a French music star who came up in the new tradition. In 2007, he signed with the record label My Major Company, an internet record label that gets the fans to raise the money for the artists they love. In other words, his first album had 347 'producers'. They managed to produce three top 20 hits off his first album so far, starting with the title track, "Toi et Moi"

Thursday, April 1, 2010

April 2

Maybe I'm just hungry, but I want to wish Happy Birthday to Iron Chef French Hiroyuki Sakai. I haven't watched any of the American iterations, but I remember how much fun the original Iron Chef episodes were to watch. In fact, I think it was Chef Sakai's Asparagus Battle episode that made me a fan. Watching two experts confronted with a mystery ingredient and an hour to make as many impressive dishes as possible used to be what I called 'leftovers night'; on TV, it was almost an Olympic event.
I'm going to skip ahead to the final section of the Asparagus battle, which shows off my favorite aspects of the show: cuisine porn shots, funny dubs of pompous commentary, and game show competition with a feel-good movie soundtrack.

April 1

I'm feeling low tide, so it feels good to hear reggae icon Jimmy Cliff. He's another 2010 inductee in the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame; if you want to know why, check out the movie "The Harder They Come". Or just check out the soundtrack. Need another reason? Find Cliff's song "Vietnam", which Bob Dylan called the best protest song that he had ever heard.
As for me, today calls for "Many Rivers to Cross", one of his most covered compositions, although nobody sings it better than him.
Here's a performance, with Jools Holland on piano.