Take One

A Hard Day’s Write

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Dear Faithful Readers, if you have any movies, shows, or music (yeah, I’m sort of expanding) you want me to review, please comment and I will get back to you on whether I will or not. I welcome all genres of film and show. Music however, I tend to have  a slightly more conservative taste. So please do not ask me to review any mainstream band. It does’t even have to be a review. If you want me to write an essay reviewing the merit and influence of an actor, director, or style, let me know. Thanks! Please comment wit suggestions and requests!

– Kyle

My Night with Mr. Sedaris

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I will honestly say that David Sedaris is one of my favorite authors. Certainly in the top 3, next to Bram Stoker and JRR Tolkein. He’s incredibly witty, and his essays induce total hysteria.

Amongst my favorites are “Six to Eight Black Men”, “With a Pal Like That, Who Needs Enemies?”, “Me Talk Pretty One Day”, “See You Again Yesterday”, the ones with his brother, the Rooster, and tens of others. He’s one of the greeatest American humorist since Mark Twain. And I got to see him live.

So, Thursday night, my friend Ammon took me to see the fantastic writer and humorist David Sedaris live. It was an absolutely GLORIOUS event. It was absolutely hysterical and I LOVED IT. After the show, we waited in line for maybe an hour, an hour and a half, to get my book signed. I had brought Me Talk Pretty One Day, probably his best book he’s written. I had heard in one of his essays, “Author, Author” (featured in the audio presentation David Sedaris: Live for Your Listening Pleasure) that he gave out little presents to the teenagers who came to to the show. His view was that teens had fun “at the reach of their finger tips. Instead of having fun and taking bong hits in a stolen car, or getting pregnant in a neighbor’s shed, they have chosen to see a middle aged man read out loud.” And in gratitude, he’s given German band aids, Greek safety pins, and…condoms. And you know what happened? I was a total mess as I walked up to him. He asked our ages, and e both answered, Ammon stating he was 15 and I stating that I was 16. He beamed at us and said, “Well, that’s just great. You know I think that it’s a good time for you…” he reached under his book signing table to pull out a gallon plastic storage baggy, the kind reserved usually for chicken or steak when you put it in a freezer. It was full of small trinkets. Most notably, lubricant. “…to engage in anal sex.” He took out a strand of Trojan condoms and ripped off two for us. I was rather shocked. Thinking that, when listening to his essay in which he chronicles similar events, I brushed it off thinking that he’d just thank us for coming to the show and that I would ask him if he had Billie Holiday on his iPod. I gave him my book and he began a little conversation.

Sedaris Signed My Book
Me Talk Pretty One Day, signed by Mr. Sedaris

“So what do you do?” I answered proudly, if nervously, that I wrote movie reviews. He looked up interested and asked if I got them published anywhere and I told him I had a blog. And to my total shock he said “Could you write the address down for me?” Due to the fact my hand writing is wretched normally, it was made worse by the fact I was completely trembling. Thankfully it was legible, well, sort of. He thanked me and then spotted the shirt Ammon was wearing and commented about how perfect it was that he had a shirt with peanuts with him as he, Sedaris, had peanuts as a snack. He offered both of us a couple peanuts. He asked me what was the last film I had cried at and I told him Wall-E. I told him I loved how the robots were able to emulate human feelings with the look in their eyes. And I also threw in March of the Penguins well, after he had mentioned he welled up at the end. Earlier that night, he mentioned a Danish film he loved called Valhalla Rising which I had never heard of. I told him I would look it up. It actually stars Mads Mikkelsen, who was in Casino Royale. He gave me back my book and I took the condom, finally, off the table and thanked him very much for the evening. I left, completely shocked that he had asked me for my blog and laughing hysterically.

Certainly, it was one of the greatest nights of my life. Thank you so much Ammon for your kindness and your generosity. Thank you to David Sedaris for the laughs and the wit. And for mentioning Up in the Air.

A SHOUT OUT TO DAVID SEDARIS!

The Little Monster Within: Why I Love Lady Gaga

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So, I have some exciting news! I will be attending the Monster Ball Tour in September, starring the one and only Lady gaga! I have to say she is quite a character. I’ve been up the past for the few weeks studying her style of music, her lyrics, and her videos. And I think she is simply AMAZING. She’s so tongue-in-cheek. I’m really impressed with her vocal range.

In all honestly, the genre she works in, which is sort of an electronic pop, is really quite the most annoying and my least favorite genre. The ability to so easily manipulate the sound and the artist’s voice is a bit scary. Who knows what you’re really listening to? A prime example of pop being the demise of good music is Ke$ha, an artist who is so drunk on electronic techniques and auto-tune, you can’t tell what you’re listening to. Her singles “TiK ToK” and “Blah Blah Blah” completely alter her voice, and yet her record producer spotted her and signed her because her voice sounded like a “guttural orgasm”. One can’t be sure if this is true, seeing as her backup vocals on Flo Rida’s “Right Round” are also auto-tuned.

But what’s interesting about Lady gaga is that she has so much to say. She has her personal message to fans and she has her subtext within her music. One could easily make a song up about strip poker and get it on the Billboard’s top 100, but to get it to number one and have it mean something is really good. What’s it all mean? Well, I’m sure you’ve heard it before. In “Poker Face”, she’s talking about her hiding her sexuality. Who’da thunk that? The psychological fears and anxieties of being able to tell your lover you’re also attracted to the other gender are complex and simply juicy.

And what about “Paparazzi”? That song is one of my favorites, as one can draw extremely close comparisons to the musical Chicago. The song can have so many different interpretations. 1. A stalker follows a star and “follow you until you love me”. 2. What do you want more: love or fame? 3. You can do anything when you’re famous and people will still keep fleeing to give you power. There are others, but this song has so much depth. I admit that they aren’t the best lyrics of all time, but because it does have several layers beyond its superficial beat and catchy tune, this single marked her place as someone who has style and most importantly substance.

“Bad Romance” is another favorite of mine, as it goes into the psyche of someone who is in love with a bad boy, someone who fears what may happen if she loses him “I want your love and all your love is revenge, you and me could write a bad romance”. The song continues with Hitchcock-ian references: “I want your Psycho, your Vertigo shtick/ When you’re in my Rear Window, baby you’re sick”. This line shows that the singer loves her lover unconditionally. Every flaw, every inadequacy, she accepts regardless.

Another great song of hers is “Paper Gangsta”, a song about what it’s like trying to write songs and not sell yourself out. And Gaga has managed to do exactly that, while maintaining her “Fame”. I think one of the most important aspects of her career is that she’s matured into a great songwriter so quickly. She went from “party-hardy” in “Just Dance” in the beginning of The Fame to more mature songs such as “Paper Gangsta”. And from there, she jumped the ball and floored us with her next album/EP The Fame Monster. Containing some of her best work yet (sure, there are only 8 songs, but still great nonetheless), The Fame Monster is simply a mini-contemporary masterpiece to behold. With “Bad Romance”, she’s also got my favorite song by her of all time, “Speechless”. The ballad tearfully, powerfully is about her father and it oozes emotion in every chord. It sounds great live and may be her best work she will ever do. It’s all organic, so those annoying haters who hate pop can go and listen to this and see her as both a great pianist and great composer.

I won’t even begin to talk about her music videos. There’s just too much to love. From her more fun early videos to her emotionally created videos like “Paparazzi, “Bad Romance”, and the recent “Telephone”, she is just simply the artist of our day. She can be fun too! Not all of her songs need that deep analysis I give them. “Teeth” and “Telephone” are great for simply listening to or dancing to. “Teeth” is like Adam Lambert’s “For Your Entertainment”; it’s about rough, rough BDSM sex. The thing is, Gaga’s is more fun, catchier, better composed, and…just better. Significantly so, as it doesn’t sound so filthy and unclean. The line in Lambert’s song that goes “raise the alarm” is a warning signal of “ewwww, gross” as his AMA performance perfectly demonstrated what a perv he can be. There are boundaries that can be broken and doors that can be shoved down for the better of art. But simulating felatio on stage is just crass and vulgar. “Telephone” pairs up Gaga with Beyonce for an upbeat song about…clubbing and ignoring your cell phone. What could be better?

Her ability to transition from genre to genre is also a veritable talent. From grungy rock like “Boys Boys Boys” to a more Lady-Gaga-sings-the-blues composition like the Canadian track “Again Again” and to a weepier ballad like “Speechless”, her style has great range. As does her voice. One is hard put to find such an enormous pop star with such an enormous voice. Her flowing tonal qualities last throughout her songs. AND SHE ALWAYS SINGS LIVE! Watch her live performances on YouTube and you can TELL she sings live.

Did I hear avante garde? Yes, you did. The word of the conceptual artist has welcomed her into their family. Her fashion, some may say, is completely ridiculous. And, in a way, it is. But is it really fashion? Well, not really. Her most bombastic pieces are pieces of art she chooses to wear. Her bizarre Muppet coat, her red lace outfit, and it goes on and on and on. The great thing is, is that her wearable art has what we may call as an Artist Statement. It can be interpreted, it has a meaning. It’s not just something outrageous to wear at the Grammys. There’s always more to it. Her skeleton suit she wore to the American Music Awards was a statement on anorexia in fashion. Her Muppet coat was a statement about wearing fur. Her fire bra was about the woman’s body as a sexual weapon. This isn’t just some crazy drug addicted pop star; this is a woman with a brain. She’s articulate, smart, and very pretty.

Her fan base is huge. Her “little monsters” as she lovingly calls them absolutely adore her. And for good reason. She gives then an outlet where they can be comfortable with themselves. Being the freak for most of her high school life, she’s able to emulate that emption in her music and give her little monsters a place of acceptance at her concerts. While I think it’s a stretch to call her fans her best friends, I am quite happy at how modest and kind she seems to be. Hopefully, it’s not a horrid façade like most stars.

I simply love Lady Gaga now; she’s such a weird and amazing character. Hopefully, she won’t be a flash in the pan.

“Telephone”:

“Bad Romance”:

“Poker Face”:

“Paper Gangsta”:

“Again Again”:

“Speechless” live at the Monster Ball:

“Speechless” Royal Variety Performance:

“Speechess” Vevo Launch performance:

“Poker Face”/”Speechless”/”Your Song” performance at the Grammys with Elton John:

“Paparazzi”:

“Paparazzi” Live Monster Ball Performance:

“Saw”‘s the Thing

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  1. In a world of mindless horror movies, prominently the torture porn movies that are so viscerally disturbing, I can strangely say that there is one that actually has a message. Sure they’ve been extending and elongating their message for over 6 years, but they had one. And sure they were probably the most succesful in creating the torture porn craze in the first place, but at least they had a storyline. People, I’m talking about. SAW IV. Yes, as politicaly drievn as the film was, it actually. *gasp*, had a stpryline that, if you st through the previous enigmas that came before it, almost perfect sense. Not only that, but the movie had emotion. I big part of the emotion was the fact that it was so very driven by ethics, something that really was an runnin theme throughout the series, ut really powered through in the final installment.

    Does this mean that there’s going to be a change for the horror genre? Does that mean a fiture horror film, such maybe the failed remake of Ingmar Bergamn’s The Virgin Spring (Craven’s The Last House on the Left), can not only please gorehounds, but also please the people who look for story? My favorite torture porn film was the orginal that started it all, SAW. It made sense. It was chilling. It wa enigmatic. It was entertainin. And it was stylish. The sequels have lacked these elements (with the debatibe exception of SAW III), which made them simply more voyeuristic and stupider. The worst of these offenders were both SAW II and SAW V. The second film was merely a move on commercialism, and the fifth was just plain rutal, and worst of all (especially in a genre whenere they need you attention) dull. I hope to see a brand new future in the at of the overall horror movie. For now, we’ll have to settle for watching other fare.

    SAW V Review: http://bit.ly/96OOpg

    My Top Scary Movies: http://bit.ly/ch4bho

    SAW IV Review: http://bit.ly/doj7Mm

    SAW Review: http://bit.ly/c8ZExe

Music to Our Ears: Would It Work?

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I heard this song on the radio today (Sirius XM on Broadway) and it was a cover of Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game”. It had me very intrigued and I began thinking of great faous Broadway music that could have potentially been released as stand alone singles. And here begins my picks of what I listened to:

 

“All that Jazz” from Chicago

Fosse’s musical on sin being in features one of the most prominent showtunes in usical history, thanks to its jazzy tempo and its stellar rendition by Catherine zeta-Jones. However, th way that Kander and Ebb tended to write music was mainly for the stage. There were plays, of course, where it was directly intended to sound as if it could work outside the theater, but this veers too closely towards showtune-ism.

Verdict: It could work for those of whom who like jazz. From the 1920s. Grade (as stand alone song): B-

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BPFKMco8AL0

“Till There Was You” from The Music Man

For those of whom who like the Beatles, you know I’m kind of cheating. This extremely romantic song from Meradith Wilson’s con man story did work when it was released on the Beatles’ second studio albm, With the Beatles. A sweet melody, voices that could handle being so cheesy would sing it and succeed. Kristin Chenoweth is  a notable cover artist when she co-starred with Matthew Broderick in the TV version of The Music Man.

Verdict: It worked before for the Beatles, so why not. It all depends on the arrangement. Grade: A

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vJaap5XwiPA

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jUvMIjf1GK0

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VeYSUPQVoRI

“Cabaret” from Cabaret

If we’re going to be talking about Liza Minelli’s tremendous rendition from the Oscar-winning Bob Fosse film, then, yes, it could be a stand alone song. Jill Hayworth’s verion, however, should be left to die. She was ravaged in reviews, and rightly so. He voice wasn’t strong enough. Wth the pounding jazz at the beginning of the song and its unforgettable lyrics, yeah, it could survive even today. Because the song was written to be performaed in a cabaret, the osng could easily take off in the jazz genre from the likes of Diana Krall.

Verdict: With little doubt, this old standby could knnowck the audience off their feet. Grade: A-

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=moOamKxW844

“Memory” from Cats

It’s trembling vocals and difficult arrangement, the beautiful rendition from Betty Buckley, the wonderful lyrics taken fro the T.S. Elliot poem. What could make this son more heart wrenching?? Nothing. Because its style, a heavy, heavy balld, had been arranged especially for the stage, the song would not work in a mainstream market at all. Sure, artists like Barbara Streisand have done cover versions of the song, but they all lead to people thinking, “Oh, that was really nice, what show is it from?”

Verdict: No, it would barely survive. Too heavy and its performance tend to be done by singers of old Broadway. Grade: D+

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=moOamKxW844

“Just One of Those Things” from Jubilee

Cole Porter is one of the greatest song writers of all time. Not only can he do those kitchy love songs for his shows like Paris, but he can actually make a jazz standard called “Just One of Those Things”. The light piano and bass help to lighten the mood, as it calmly and almost jubilantly talks of a brief fling. The song made an appearance in Porter’s biopic De-Lovely where it was covered by Diana Krall. If she relased her version, I’m sure it would do better than fine.

Verdict: An almost perfect fit for a jazz single. Grade: A

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ef3XZtJoJCM

“That’s How You Know” from Enchanted

No, I’m sorry, this is even worse than “Memory”. This one is as cheesy and up beat and annoying as a song could be. I loved it for that film and Amy Adams’s performance was excellent, but it’s obvious rhythym and need to have people dancing while doing it makes this a no-no in terms of music.

Verdict: No, it would be terrible. Grade: F

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xRYU4cqUAUs

“Those Magic Changes” from Grease

Because the film takes place in the 1950s and because the music is supposed to sound like it’s a creative pop song and because Sha-Na-Na had already been covering pop standards throughout the film and their career, this song would indeed work had it been distributed in the ‘50s. It’s cute melody and heartbreaking lyrics make it an obvious and fun choice for someone to sing back then. The “pounding strings” jut makes it more emotional and heart felt.

Verdict: As a song in the ‘50s, it sure would work. Grade: A-

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DWoyD5gtlWs

 

If you have any clips of sons that would either be great as songs or terrible, please comment!