Tuesday, December 26, 2006

RIP - James Brown

The Godfather of Soul passed away on Christmas, causing me to reflect on the one time I saw him in concert - at the infamous Woodstock '99. Here's what I wrote in my review.

We found a spot on the vast lawn in front of the west stage and listened to the promoters and Wavy Gravy kick-off the festival. Then it was time for James Brown. Actually, it was time for James Brown's band to play a few songs, then for the band to introduce some broad who sang a few songs, and just when we were really getting annoyed, the Godfather of Soul stopped teasing us and appeared. The crowd was pretty indifferent, as James and his large band played their hits including "I Feel Good," "Sex Machine," and my personal favorite from the cold war classic Rocky IV, the anthem that inspired Rock to kick Ivan Drago's communist ass: "Living in America." The crowd did go nuts when James sang "Foxy Lady," the first of many nods to Hendrix and the original Woodstock legends by various bands throughout the weekend.

Sugar Ray was supposed to be up next, but had cancelled. Some chick behind me said, "I can't believe they would try to replace Sugar Ray with James Brown and think we'd be okay with it. That just sucks, man!" She would not be the last disgruntled and clueless customer.

Read the full review of Woodstock 99 here.

Learn more about James Brown's legacy.

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Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas from ApeBlog and Sufjan

If you're looking for a new Christmas soundtrack, I highly recommend Sufjan Stevens' Songs for Christmas. The set of 5 EPs comes nicely packaged in a Christmas box with a booklet that includes short stories by Sufjan and Rick Moody, a poster, and stickers. Since 2001, Sufjan has recorded a Christmas EP each year, and he was adamant that the 5 EPs should be sold as a complete set. There are quite a few original songs that are worth a listen, such as "Christmas in July", "Get Behind Me, Santa", "That Was The Worst Christmas Ever", and "Did I Make You Cry On Christmas Day? (Well, You Deserved It)". The moods swing from contemplative and sad to reverent and spiritual to giddy sugar-highs. Some of his interpretations of traditional carols aren't particularly interesting or fresh, and I think the box set could have benefited from some paring down. But, still, the whole package makes for pleasant background music that can make any extended dysfunctional family gathering or long sleigh trip to Grandma's a lot more pleasant.

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Sunday, December 24, 2006

Carrie Fisher Trashes Her Parents To Their Faces

I’m a big fan of Carrie Fisher. I admire her frankness and wit. In her books, she’s shown an uncanny ability to wring humor from the low points of her life, which range from drug rehab to being bipolar to discovering her husband was gay. So, I was excited to see her one-woman show Wishful Drinking, now playing at The Geffen Playhouse, and the show lived up to my hopes.

Upon arriving at the Geffen, I had to wait in the lobby for my friends to arrive. I immediately spied Leonard Maltin chatting with friends. Then I saw a petite woman with highly-coiffed blond hair. Her back was to me, but I thought it could quite possibly be Carrie’s mom, Debbie Reynolds. Sure enough it was Debbie, I realized, and so did Leonard, who rushed over to say hello. Debbie was glowing and looked quite well-preserved. I snapped a blurry camera-phone pic.

Knowing Debbie was there, it was hard not to cringe during some portions of Carrie’s show, as she describes bizarre moments like Debbie suggesting Carrie have a child with Debbie’s husband because the child would be attractive, and describes how two of Debbie's loser husbands stole all her money. In a smart and funny segment, Carrie talks about how her teen daughter was having a flirtation with Elizabeth Taylor’s grandson and she charts out all the relationships of her mother, her father Eddie Fisher, and Elizabeth, who stole Eddie from Debbie, on a blackboard in order to prove the teens’ relationship wouldn’t be incestuous. She talks about Eddie being married to a Chinese woman who passed away, and she said Eddie then moved to San Francisco because it has a large Chinatown and he’s got an affinity for Asian gals. She said he was even starting to look Asian himself due to all the plastic surgery.

Carrie talked about her father’s speed addiction, his abandonment of the family to be with Liz, and even recalled doing coke with him. And then I saw him in the lobby at intermission! Oy, imagine sitting in the audience and watching your daughter spill all your dirty laundry. Eddie is very petite and does in fact look Asian. I didn’t see Eddie and Debbie mingling, but they may have. If Carrie can laugh about things, maybe they can too after all these years.

Carrie never acknowledged her parents’ presence from stage. She just did her thing, giving a warts-and-all portrait of herself and them. Her anecdotes about Star Wars were really funny, and she even donned a donut-head wig. The finale will delight any Star Wars fan, and the rest of the show will please anyone with a love for sarcasm and a fascination with celebrity culture. I would have loved to be a mynock on the wall at the after-party with Carrie, Debbie, and Eddie.

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Thursday, December 07, 2006

Sister-in-law Invents Sandwich

My sister-in-law has invented a sandwich based on her company name for a contest at a nearby Akron, Ohio, deli. Read the story. Here's the recipe!

I expect too see her on Top Chef soon! Congratulations, Susan!

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