Tuesday, February 26, 2008


...or #3. I swear I've post two of these, but I can only find the first post.

In this cartoon from August 14th, 1980, Jimmy Carter had been victorious over Sen. Ted Kennedy in a convention battle over the presidential nomination. At the convention, Kennedy tried to turn some of Carter's delegates, which has shades of a possible upcoming struggle between Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Here in the cartoon, a tiny Carter has felled Kennedy like David vs. Goliath. His victory will be short-lived however, with Ronald Reagan waiting to knock him into oblivion.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

'The Wire' Webcast #3

Matt and Jeff discuss Season 5, Episode 7 of "The Wire". It's all SPOILERS from here, so watch at your own risk if you haven't seen it!

WireTalk from Jeffrey Miller on Vimeo

Monday, February 18, 2008


THE Maharishi Mahesh Yogi died February 5th at age 91. Maharishi was an Indian guru made famous by the time the Beatles spent with him in 1968 studying transcendental meditation. Much of the music of the White Album came out of the many weeks they spent there. The Fabs had a falling out with him over rumors he made a sexual advance on fellow guest Mia Farrow. We know now this wasn’t true, as Farrow’s ex-husband, Frank Sinatra, would have sent a couple of the boys over to break Maharishi’s legs.

NASA is beaming a transmission towards Polaris, the North Star, 431 light years away. The transmission is the Beatles song “Across the Universe”, positing that some aliens might groove to Lennon’s lyrics. I’m just hoping “jai guru deva om” isn’t the launch sequence code for an attack on Earth.

Also, the movie Across the Universe, a musical based on works of the Beatles, is out on DVD.

PAUL McCartney was up for three Grammy awards this year –

Best Male Pop Vocal Performance
(For a solo vocal performance. Singles or Tracks only.)
Dance Tonight
Paul McCartney

Track from: Memory Almost Full
[MPL/Hear Music]

Best Pop Vocal Album
(For albums containing 51% or more playing time of VOCAL tracks.)
Memory Almost Full

Paul McCartney
[MPL/Hear Music]

Best Solo Rock Vocal Performance
(For a solo vocal performance. Singles or Tracks only.)
Only Mama Knows

Paul McCartney
Track from: Memory Almost Full
[MPL/Hear Music]

Macca didn't win, losing out to Justin Timberlake, Amy Winehouse and Bruce Springsteen, respectively.

Oddly, Paul did not attend, but Ringo, Yoko Ono and Olivia Harrison were on hand for a what was billed as a 40th anniversary celebration of Sgt. Pepper (the Beatles album, not the Bee Gees movie). Besides performances by Cirque du Soleil of "A Day in the Life" and the cast of 'Across the Universe' singing "Let It Be", which isn't even on 'Pepper', I don't think the anniversary was mentioned. Beatles' producer George Martin and his son, Giles 'nepotism is cool' Martin, won a Grammy for the soundtrack to the Cirque du Soleil show Beatles' show, 'Love'. I think it was a little unfair to put remastered/remixed Beatles songs up against new material, and a little bizarre for Ringo (who didn't win anything) to help accept the award.

I MET the Walrus, which sets a 1969 interview with John Lennon to animation, is up for for an Oscar for Best Animated Short.

MACCA faced Heather in court on Monday, February 11th, to try to reach a divorce settlement. She wants $98 million, but Sir Paul prefers to give half of that. The hearing was conducted in private. Mills, who has fired and is suing her lawyers, represented herself. It's apparently all but over, with the judge preparing to make the final decision.

MEANWhile, McCartney recently denied rumors that he had an angioplasty last year. In related news, Ringo denied that he had rhinoplasty.

FOLLOwing other Fab son musicians, James McCartney will release his debut album later this year. James’ famous dad plays on the album, and the two may tour briefly together.

RINGO released his new album, 'Liverpool 8' in January, which you can read about here. He had a run of TV guest shots, including “Good Morning America”, “The Late Show”, “The Late Late Show” and “Rachael Ray”. He played his the title track at every venue. Craig Ferguson had him on for the whole hour, so he also did his solo hit "Photograph" and Beatle tracks "Boys" and "With a Little Help From My Friends". Those must have been the four tracks he rehearsed with his current band, because they did the same set on A&E's Private Sessions. Ringo famously walked off the set of "Live with Regis and Kelly" over the time they were giving him to do his song. Apparently Gelman demands all music performances to be 2:30. Ringo cut his 4:30 song to 3:30, but wouldn't budge from that, creating an impasse. I can see both sides. Ringo knew about the restriction ahead of time, but if you're going to force everybody to do a song in 2 1/2 minutes, why have music at all? Perhaps if they were doing a show in the late '50s/early '60s, then 2:30 would be ample time.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Born Standing Up

I’ve always enjoyed Steve Martin’s work, from his comedy albums to his novellas and the movies in-between. Martin has recently written ‘Born Standing Up’, an autobiography about his life from boyhood through his stand-up career, ending as he segued from the stage to silver screen for ‘The Jerk’.

Martin dispels any myths of overnight, or even over-decade, success. An appearance on “The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson”, for example, was not a golden ticket to stardom as the legends have us believe. For Martin, it was 17 appearances before it had any effect on his career (exacerbated by being relegated for years to appearing only with guest hosts after a routine Carson didn’t like). His rise, when it happened, was indeed swift. From headlining a small club in Greenwich Village in late ’74 in front of an audience of zero to a special on fledgling HBO in ‘75, hosting “Saturday Night Live” in ‘76 and a million-selling comedy album in ’77. I don't think I'm giving away the ending of the book by letting you know that Steve Martin became famous.

The Martin of recent years has evolved into a humorist, penning short pieces for the New Yorker like this one. This story and other short subjects were collected in 1998 as ‘Pure Drivel’, which I guess was something of a sequel to 1979’s ‘Cruel Shoes’, a multi-million seller that had America gladly lapping up the absurd. I would subscribe to the New Yorker if only I could justify buying it for the cartoons (which of course had been the rationale for my subscription to Playboy).

One New Yorker piece about the death of his father led to this book. Martin had an odd relationship with his father, primarily estranged. Growing up, his father was never ‘Daddy’ or ‘Dad’, but Glenn, his first name (and in a formal way, not in a “Dad is your buddy” way). Glenn Martin did not approve of his son’s comedy career, even disparaging it publicly when his son became famous. Martin’s familial relationships stand out as the most salient parts of the book. Most people try not to think about the uncomfortable aspects of their childhood or family. Martin confronts these personal demons head-on, and his ability to do so, as well as assess and articulate his feelings had me questioning whether I’m emotionally recumbent or there are some revelations that come with age. Martin, at 62, has a quarter century on me, though I like to think that I lean more towards self-aware than self-beware. Such knowledge also comes with being tested by life, and though in many ways my life has been one of ease and privilege, I’ve had my share of hard promises (as Tom Petty would say).

Instead of reading 'Born Standing Up', I listened to the audio book read by the author. I was going to hear Martin’s voice if I read it anyway, so the audio, unabridged on four CDs, was the way to go. Being a book by a comedian about his career as a stand-up comic, I thought it would be funnier, a comedy romp that flew gaily from one humorous anecdote to the next. It was, in fact, more melancholy than funny. It’s still full of humor, but more thoughtful observations than jokes (though ‘jokes’ were never what he was about). If it is guffaws you’re looking for then his comedy records from the late ‘70s are still in print. I myself enjoyed joining Steve Martin on his journey from confused kid to unknown teenage comedian to 'unknown comedian in his late twenties' to superstardom to “comedian who had become a fad”.

There are a couple of good interviews with Martin about the book, which you've probably only heard if you're a Socialist -

Charlie Rose

And in case you need some laughs, you can't go wrong with Steve on Carson as the Great Flydini -

Thursday, February 7, 2008


Ringo Starr will be the guest on the Rachael Ray Show on Friday, February 8th. Maybe he'll sing "Cookin' (in the Kitchen of Love"[click here for an excerpt] from his '76 album Ringo's Rotogravure which, despite assists from Harrison, Lennon, McCartney, Frampton and Clapton, is somewhat terrible.

I've never seen Rachael's talk show, but maybe Ringo will do a cooking segment. Regular reader T-Dub suggested they might make Yellow Submarine Sandwiches, or even an Octopus's Garden Salad. Check your local listings.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

'The Wire' Webcast #2

Matt and Jeff discuss episodes 4 and 5 of Season 5 of 'The Wire'. EXTREME SPOILERS! Don't watch until you've seen those episodes (unless you just really like the sound of our voices).

Wiretalk from Jeffrey Miller on Vimeo.