Sunday, August 21, 2016
Friday, April 08, 2016
When I saw the trailer for Everybody Wants Some, I couldn't have been more excited - here was a sorta sequel to my favorite Richard Linklater film Dazed and Confused, set in my favorite decade (the 80s) and featuring my favorite sport (baseball). Perhaps my expectations were just too high because the film really fell flat for me. I can identify a few issues:
- Women's roles - There's only one female character in the film who actually gets a name and a little development as a love interest for our hero Jake. Still, she seems more like a muse than a fully developed character
- Casting - Most of the actors are in their late 20s. With the mustaches, they look more like 30. They just don't seem convincing as college students. I find it hard to believe Linklater couldn't find enough quality actors in the 19-22 range for the roles.
- Lack of depth - There's some attempt at philosophizing over the bong, led by the likable Willoughby (played by the cute Wyatt Russell, spawn of Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn), but it doesn't get deep at all. It seems to be included so the film can pretend to be aspiring to be more than "Porky's."
- Lack of baseball - There's only one scene where the guys actually play baseball, and there's no game situation. We are shown their competitive spirit in other ways, such as ping pong and knuckles competitions. But baseball as a subject is ripe for philosophizing, as we've seen in films ranging from Bull Durham to Field of Dreams to Moneyball. Linklater, who played baseball himself, really does nothing with it. The one scene I liked comes in the beginning where the All-American star hitter on the team tells the freshman pitcher, our hero Jake, that they'll never be friends because of his mistrust of pitchers. There could have been a lot more of that.
- Unrealistic settings - There's a party thrown by the drama students that rivals some of the biggest corporate parties I organized or attended while working at Google, These corporate parties had huge art direction budgets. I just can't believe students would be able to pull that together, especially on the weekend before school actually starts. It just feels like it's thrown in for entertainment value. The party at the Moon Tower in Dazed and Confused was much more realistic.
- Boring main character - Although cute and likable, Jake is something of a cypher. The title tells us "everybody wants some" but we have no idea what Jake really wants. He seems to want to get laid, but he doesn't obsess over it. He doesn't think about baseball at all. He kinda likes the female character with a name. It's all a bit wishy washy.
- Idols as Angels: I loved the opening number "One Voice" where Idols past and present filled the stage and all were wearing white. This felt like the Ghosts of Idols Past.
- Dunkelman is back! It was fun to hear a little repartee between Seacrest and Dunkelman again.
- Sanjaya's wigs: While he didn't get to speak, we glimpsed Sanjaya in the audience twice - once with a huge Mad Max mohawk and once in a powdered wig.
- Simon, Paula and Randy: This was a fun reunion to witness. It wouldn't have been a satisfying finale without seeing these three and especially Simon, and he really did seem moved by it all. He's still looking good. We wrote these love haikus for Simon back in 2002.
- The Rocker medley: I loved seeing Bo Bice with short hair (unrecognizable, but he looks good), Constantine Maroulis, Caleb Johnson, James Durbin, and Chris Daughtry perform together.
- Idol Gives Back tribute: Harry Connick and Marley Fletcher, a kid from The Ellis Marsalis Center for Music in the 9th ward of New Orleans, sang "What A Wonderful World" together, in a touching segment honoring the Idol Goes Back charity that has raised $185 million for underserved youth in the US and around the world.
- 3 Divas Reunited: LaToya London, Fantasia Barrino, and Jennifer Hudson sang "Bridge Over Troubled Water" to remind us how much the show had gone downhill since they were The Class of Season 3.
- J Lo the Showgirl: her segment was basically a commercial for her Vegas show. Well, I'm sold.
- William Hung: Yes, they needed to go there.
- Tamyra Gray: She looked fierce, singing "Sober" with Jordin Sparks and Kara DioGuardi and singing "Girl Crush" on her own. She was one of the most memorable contestants from Season 1. We wrote a bunch of haikus about the contestants of Season 1 back in the day.
- Justin Guarini: Justin looks pretty handsome with the shorter hair. He can no longer be compared to Sideshow Bob.
- Carrie Underwood: I have to admit I was too hard on her back when I wrote this screed about her after she won Season 4. She has grown a lot of personality since then. She always had the voice but I found her wooden. Now her songs are sassy and smart. And she even did a passable Stevie Nicks tonight, singing "Stop Dragging My Heart Around" with Keith Urban.
- Constantine Maroulis: He's my all-time favorite Idol. I wrote these haikus about Constantine back in the day.
- Kelly Clarkson: Although her performance was taped due to her being unable to attend due to impending childbirth, it was still fun to see a hugely pregnant Kelly sing a medley of her many hits.
- Ace Young and Diana DeGarmo: Idol put them on stage together tonight but failed to mention they are married - missed opportunity to showcase a true Idol love connection. Diana is only 28 but something about her face and hair makes her look like she's in her 40s - can't really put my finger on it but she's always had that look.
- Taylor Hicks: He's my second-favorite Idol and I wish we'd seen more of him tonight, but how about that stylin' purple velveteen jacket?
Wednesday, April 06, 2016
Monday, April 04, 2016
I've been a season ticket holder for the LA KISS since the team was founded three years ago, and finally I feel all the suffering with the mediocre team really paid off. Being a fan of a losing team is nothing new to me - my family were season ticket holders for the football Cardinals when the team was in St. Louis. Plus, I grew up Catholic. So I'm good at suffering.
In the first season, LA KISS season ticket holders were promised a full KISS concert, and the band delivered. But it took them a long time to figure out a date that worked with the arena and the band's touring schedule, and it ended up being a date when I had to travel for work. The team only won three games that year, but there was a lot of entertainment value, with tribute bands playing pre-game concerts and halftime, BMX stunt bike shows, dancers, and pyro. They had dancing girls in cages suspended from the ceiling. You could call it "the greatest show on turf" without even talking about the game. In the second season, there were management changes and a lack of effort. The owners rarely attended the games (but to be fair, they were on tour most of the season). There was no KISS concert, much less extracurricular entertainment at the games, very little schwag, but the team improved in the second half of the season and made the games competitive. They ended with a record of 4-14.
In the offseason, management made a lot of moves under new CEO Joe Windham, including hiring a new coach, Omarr Smith, and acquiring many players from last year's champion San Jose Sabercats after that team went out of business (Arena Football is a shaky business). And they announced some schwag items and the thing we were all hoping for - another KISS concert just for the season ticket holders. And this time it would be unplugged, sans makeup and pyro!
I had to skip the last day of the Association of Writing Programs conference to catch this show, but it was really no contest for me. I had already had two days of the conference to be highbrow and then needed to indulge my lowbrow side. We arrived at the Honda Center in Anaheim around 12:15pm and there were only about 30 people in line. The first two people in line had arrived at 8:50am. The first 500 people would be able to watch the concert from the field. We had fun chatting with other fans in line until we were let into the arena around 1:45pm. We headed straight for the field and were able to get a second row centered standing position. The pair who had arrived at 8:50am were against the barrier right in front of us, and I was quite happy because the gal was much shorter than me so I would have a clear view.
The band took the stage around 3:00pm and they were all wearing sunglasses except for Tommy. Gene and Paul were in jackets and jeans. They kicked off the acoustic show with "Coming Home" and continued with "Calling Dr. Love" and everyone sang along. It was certainly surreal to be so close to the band, and in such an intimate setting. Although we were on the football field in a big arena, there were only 500 of us, so it felt like a club show. The fans who came later were sitting in the stands. Paul hyped up what a great season it was going to be and thanked us all for being fans.
As usual, Paul did the talking, and Gene was stoic. Tommy sat for more than half the show and Paul made a big deal when he finally stood up. He also pointed out to the crowd that Tommy was single. When a fan complimented Gene's bass, Paul said, "He'll be glad to sell it to you." And Gene nodded that he would. "How much for that pink pocket square, Gene?" Paul asked. "One million dollars," Gene deadpanned. Sure enough, I saw a sales kiosk for Gene's basses when I walked around the arena concourse later that day.
Paul explained the origins of "Goin' Blind" while musing that they almost were 93 years old like the character in the song (Simmons is 66, Stanley is 64). "Plaster Caster" was a highlight for me, as I have always loved that song.
The band sounded great, and it was fun to just enjoy the songs without all the theatrics. We tried in vain to catch one of the many picks they threw. Thankfully a front row fan who caught a bunch gave us one after the show.
Toward the end of the set, they attempted to cover "Take It Easy" by the Eagles in honor of Glenn Frey but they stumbled through it. Paul admitted they probably should have made sure they knew the words. It was still fun to watch and a sweet tribute. Drummer Eric Singer got a chance to sing on the final song "Beth."
The show was a little over an hour, and I felt like I was in a dream. I had only been this close to the band during signing events. My KISS fandom began at age 5 when I carried a KISS lunchbox to kindergarten, so this was really an incredible experience.
The band came back and played two songs at halftime for all the fans in attendance: "Shout It Out Loud" and "Rock and Roll All Night." And the team really did look good and actually won the game! We picked up our season ticket holder schwag - orange "LA KISS Corps" backpacks, designed by Paul, and the bags included lanyards and pins for each of the seasons we had been season ticket holders. Just like the bobbleheads they gave out the first year, the pins will be collectible, and that's what us KISS fans dig.
It's a shame that only 6800 people attended the game, even with the KISS performance at halftime which should have been a great incentive. Hopefully it will be a good season and more people will come if they keep winning. I already feel like I got my money's worth. And lord knows I've given KISS enough cash over the years to buy Gene a lot of pocket squares and probably a few basses!
Check out all my photos from the concert
Visit the LA KISS website
- Coming Home
- Calling Dr. Love
- Hard Luck Woman
- C'mon and Love Me
- Love 'em and Leave 'em
- Christine Sixteen
- Goin' Blind
- Do You Love Me
- Nothin' to Lose
- Love Her All I Can
- Plaster Caster
- Got to Choose
- Take It Easy
Thursday, March 31, 2016
I've never seen so much PDA in a concert crowd as I did tonight at the opening show of Father John Misty's new tour at The Observatory in Santa Ana. The guy just exudes so many pheremones that he's like a giant living, breathing bottle of Axe Body Spray. People can't help but respond in kind.
Tess and Dave opened the show and seemed like a likable and fun duo, although I only saw their last two songs. They are also in Father John's band.
Misty strutted through most of his catalog to the delight of a crowd that hung on and sang along to his every word. He had a couple technical problems and said it was due to it being the first night. At one point, he had to stall, so he encouraged fans that this would be the time to take cell phone pics if they must, and he posed like a rock god. He even took one woman's phone and took a selfie and handed it back. Many times he approached the folks in the front row, who must have waited many hours to nab those spots at the sold out show, and he grabbed their hands. Yes, love and lust were in the air. When someone yelled out "I love you" during a break in the action, Misty said he loved us too, but then qualified the statement to say perhaps it was just infatuation.
The dude has a lot of sex appeal, although the songs are about love and marriage almost as much as boning. I'm not normally into skinny guys with beards, but tonight I made the connection of why I dig him so much. He reminds me of my soft rock heroes of the 70s - Dave Loggins, Harry Nilsson, Herb Alpert, Gordon Lightfoot, Bertie Higgins, Gerry Rafferty. His voice has that richness and perfect tone and the melodies have an easy listening vibe along with a sharp sense of humor. I heard one girl in the crowd describe him as being "like a dreamy Charles Manson."
We were treated to two killer covers - "Because the Night" by Bruce Springsteen and Patti Smith and "Kiss It Better" by Rhianna.
Misty played 90 minutes. He closed the set with a rousing rendition of "I Love You Honeybear" and then returned for a three-song encore.
You can see the setlist here.