31 January 2011

83rd Academy Awards: Free Screenplays

For years we've heard about how the studios lavish voters with DVDs, CDs and assorted other swag in hopes that their gifts will translate into victories for their films.  The last few years, apparently, a new element in the promotional campaign has included websites dedicated to wooing voters.  Most of these are pretty simple; they offer pictures, quotes from reviews, lists of other award nominations and wins, that kind of thing.  To sweeten the pot, though, several screenplays have been thrown up on the web as .pdf files ready to be downloaded!  I, of course, adore reading screenplays so I've scoured yon Interwebs in pursuit of as many as possible.  Along the way I discovered several older screenplays that have remained active online.  Here's a guide to what's out there.  In some instances, the screenplays are available but not readily accessible from the studio sites so I've included direct links for those few titles.

Disney - Titles include Alice in Wonderland, Tangled (.mp3 of the song, "I See the Light"), Toy Story 3 (.mp3 of the song, "We Belong Together" and .pdf of the screenplay) and Tron: Legacy (no downloads).

Focus Features - 2009 titles include A Serious Man, Coraline, 9 and Sin Nombre.

Focus Features - titles include The Kids Are All Right, Somewhere, Babies, The American, Greenberg and It's Kind of a Funny Story.  No screenplay for the documentary, Babies.

Lionsgate - Titles include Rabbit Hole and For Colored Girls.

Overture Films - 2008 titles include City Island, Jack Goes Boating, Let Me In and Stone.

Paramount Vantage - 2008 titles include The Duchess, Defiance and Revolutionary Road.

Roadside Attractions - Titles include Winter's Bone, Biutiful and I Love You, Philip Morris.  No screenplay for Biutiful.

Sony Classics - Titles include Animal Kingdom, Another YearBarney's Version, Get Low, Inside Job, Made in Dagenham, Mother and Child and Please Give.

Universal Pictures - Titles include Catfish and Despicable Me.  No screenplay for the documentary, Catfish.

Warner Bros. - Titles include Inception, The Town, Hereafter and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1.  No digital downloads.

The Weinstein Company - Titles include Blue Valentine, The Company Men, The King's Speech, The Tillman Story and Nowhere Boy.  No screenplay for The Tillman Story.  Clever browsers will be able to find their way to content from previous years.

Also, you can find The Social Network here.

In all likelihood the free downloads will only be available until the Academy Awards are presented on 27 February so if you're going to take advantage of these uploads you shouldn't dally.  Personally, I was happiest with Disney, which offered two .mp3s in addition to the Toy Story 3 screenplay (though I wish they'd provided screenplays for their other three nominees) and Sony Classics for offering eight screenplays.

30 January 2011

Waylon Jennings "Live from Austin TX" DVDs

New West Records has been issuing CD and DVD releases from Austin City Limits for several years now, and Waylon Jennings has been given the home video treatment twice.  The first release, Waylon Jennings Live from Austin TX was taken from an April 1, 1989 performance; the second release is actually from an earlier, August 7, 1984 show.  It doesn't matter that they're not in chronological sequence, of course.  The '89 show was released on both CD and DVD; the '84 release was released in a combo pack with both formats as well as a standalone DVD version.

For my money, they're both outstanding.  Waylon looks and sounds great in both performances, though he seems more relaxed in his later appearance.  Taping in 1984 there's no telling what shape his mind was in; five years later, he'd reached a more stable and self-assured place in life.  Then again, maybe it's all in my head.  Whatever the case, Waymore deftly manipulated both of the intimate audiences with off-the-cuff phrasing, unexpected growling and a time-tested impersonation of Willie Nelson.  It almost doesn't matter what the songs performed were; the shows are that energetic and captivating.  Just so you know, though, most of the material covered will be familiar to even casual fans: "Clyde," "Luckenbach, Texas," "Good Hearted Woman," even "Theme from The Dukes of Hazzard (Good Ol' Boys)" gets a raucous reading in the '89 set.

There is a third episode of Austin City Limits on the market featuring Waylon; the CD and DVD releases go by the title Outlaw Country Live from Austin TX and showcases a guitar pull with Waylon, Willie, Kris Kristofferson, Billy Joe Shaver and Kimmie Rhodes that was recorded in 1996.  I've got the CD release of that one, and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it as well.  Rhodes seems out of place at first blanch, but Kris has always been more "alt" than "outlaw," and Willie's as much one as the other so the group dynamics remain fairly balanced.  Waylon's song selections there are all from his Right for the Time album, and are likely unfamiliar to casual fans who may have overlooked his penultimate studio album recording.

Waylon Jennings Live from Austin TX
Released: 21 February 2006 (DVD $16.98CD$15.98)

Waylon Jennings Live from Austin TX '84
Released: 28 October 2008 (DVD $16.98)

Outlaw Country Live from Austin TX
Released: 26 September 2006 (DVD $19.98CD $17.98)

Napoleon by Way of Kubrick

Cinephiles and historians rejoice!  Stanley Kubrick, known for his diligence and attention to detail in his artistic work, spent years conducting research on Napoleon Bonaparte with the intent of crafting the definitive bio-pic of the famed French emperor.  Only one word characterizes Kubrick's work, and that word is, "exhaustive."  He traveled the world, visiting archives that may have a tangential piece of information that may prove interesting somehow.  Whole boxes of index cards were crafted, detailing Napoleon's daily activities; if he had a ham sandwich on a lazy Sunday afternoon, it's documented in Kubrick's notes somewhere, along with who served it and whether the crust was cut off first.  Seriously, the research is so thorough I don't even think that example is hyperbolic.

TASCHEN Books compiled and published a massive, ten volume box containing Kubrick's research (including his completed screenplay) in a limited edition release a couple years ago.  Even the $1500 price tag didn't discourage dedicated enthusiasts from buying the entire run.  TASCHEN's forthcoming re-issue is a single volume edition priced at $69.99 (Amazon has a pre-order price of $44.09).

The title, The Greatest Movie Never Made, suggests that this is intended for fans and students of Kubrick but I suspect that more than a few academics will salivate over the prospect of access to the treasure trove of information compiled by the writer/director.  Buyers also get access to an online database of nearly 17,000 photographs from Kubrick's collection.  It took Kubrick years to amass this wealth of information.  It may take most readers years to properly digest it.  Somehow, that's as it should be.

Napoleon is second only to Daniel Boone as my favorite historical figure, and I can tell you that this is near the top of my I Want This but Know I Will Likely Never Actually Pay to Own It list.

28 January 2011

George W Bush: I'm Through With Politics, Don't Want To Campaign Or Fundraise


I'm greatly disappoint­ed by this, as I was very curious to see what a Republican as youthful as President Bush would do with his post-presi­dency. Presidents Carter and Clinton have establishe­d a strong paradigm for continuing to lead by example and I was hopeful that Mr. Bush would take a page from their book. I may not have been a fan of his term of office, but it seems that the star power of the Oval Office can still be used to accomplish quite a lot. It would be a shame for Mr. Bush to squander this opportunit­y to make a positive impact.



I suspect that he won't stay away forever; that eventually a cause that interests him will lure him out of Texas. In any event, kudos for using "president­" as a verb in this going away spiel!
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

"Star Trek: Spock: Reflections" by Scott & David Tipton

Collected Edition
Star Trek: Spock: Reflections #1-4
Written by Scott & David Tipton
Layouts and Covers by David Messina
Finishes by Federica Manfredi (#1, 3, 4)
Inks by Elena Casagrande (#2), Federica Manfredi and Arianna Florean (#3, 4)
Colors by Ilaria Travesi
Color Assist by 2B Studio (#1, 2), Chiara Cinabro of 2B Studio (#3, 4)
Letters by Chris Mowry (#1), Robbie Robbins (#2, 3), Neil Uyetake (#4)
Edits by Scott Dunbier
Cover Price: $17.99 (collected edition); $3.99/issue
104 Pages (collected edition); 32 Pages/issue
Date of Purchase: 15 January 2011 (Half Price Books)
Date Read: 28 January 2011


My rating: 2 of 5 stars


This is a collection of vignettes of Spock's life, strung together with a little story about him returning from Romulus on a personal mission.  I won't spoil it, but I'll say that it's a story that's been intimated and even told several times in books and comics over the last 16-ish years.


There really wasn't anything new explored here, and most of the passages will feel very familiar to older fans.  I suppose the intended audience for this are newer readers brought to the franchise by the 2009 movie, and for them I imagine it's a bit of a treat.  Personally, I long ago tired of these kinds of incestuous stories, linking various elements from various eras of the franchise.  I did, however, totally dig the art by David Messina, et al.


Note: I read the original four issues and not the collected edition, so I cannot speak to any additional material that may be included there.


Issues #1-4, July-October 2009
View all my reviews

27 January 2011

"Back to the Batcave" by Adam West with Jeff Rovin

Back to the Batcave
Adam West with Jeff Rovin
Date of Publication: 1 September 1994
Date of Purchase: 28 December 2010 ($4.78 at Half Price Books)
Cover Price: $12.00
ISBN: 0-425-14370-8
257 Pages


My rating: 4 of 5 stars


In his introduction, Adam West makes clear that Back to the Batcave is "about the show, the phenomenon, the legacy, the stars and the spectacular highs and difficult lows" that accompanied being Batman from 1966 until 1968.  This isn't a full-on autobiography; West only explores other facets of his life as they pertain to providing a larger context for the meaning of the series in his life.


Fans have decried for years that the TV show was "camp," a point that West refutes throughout this book.  He makes a good case, and fans may well be surprised by how well West knows his comic books.  West's insights into the character--not the licensable property, but the actual fictitious individual Bruce Wayne/Batman--makes for particularly interesting reading.  I've read and heard quite a lot about the character over the years, and was surprised to discover something here that's more than a synthesis of previously espoused positions.


Perhaps the most interesting remark is a knock on Tim Burton's 1989 film, which bothered West because, "in the film, he destroyed those first two hoods but did nothing for the people they'd mugged."  In West's world, Batman should place the victim ahead of the perpetrator.  It's a sensibility that informed his take on the character, and is really the heart of the book.  It's a recurring theme in Back to the Batcave; West reconciling his off-screen life and choices with the values personified by his on-screen persona.  West isn't Bruce Wayne and falls short of the ideal, of course, but it's telling that he clearly wants to be as respectable as the Caped Crusader.


Those looking for a tell-all may be disappointed; he has a few harsh words for Otto Preminger but mostly the book is reverential for the cast and crew of Batman.  Allusions are made to his notorious swinging lifestyle but only occasionally and rarely in much detail.  What comes across, ultimately, is a grateful man saying thanks to a role and the impact it had on his life.


I’d highly recommend the book if for nothing else than West’s observations and studies of the character, including the elasticity of the mythos, placing the TV show on the spectrum from camp to grittiness and even some genuinely fascinating ideas he had for returning to the role later in life. Seriously, you just haven’t contemplated Batman until Adam West convinces you–citing Frank Miller, no less–that him playing an aged Batman may well have been the cat’s pajamas.

View all my reviews

25 January 2011

83rd Academy Awards: Predictions

I don't proclaim to be savvy.  I've only seen a couple of nominees and I know virtually nothing about several.  Still, it's always fun to review lists and make remarks so here we go.  I've underlined my predictions.

The Social Network
Actor in a Leading Role
Javier Bardem, Biutiful
Jeff Bridges, True Grit
Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network
Colin Firth, The King's Speech
James Franco, 127 Hours


Firth has had the most recent buzz, which bodes well for him.  Bridges was solid, but I think playing a role already defined by an Oscar-winning performance by John Wayne is a liability here.  The Oscars, like the Grammy's tend to give awards based on our social zeitgeist and I think right now Eisenberg's surprising (and, I'm told, effective) performance is the one that best captures 2010.

The King's Speech
Actor in a Supporting Role
Christian Bale, The Fighter
John Hawkes, Winter's Bone
Jeremy Renner, The Town
Mark Ruffalo, The Kids Are All Right
Geoffrey Rush, The King's Speech


I hear great things about both Bale and Rush.  It could go either way, but I suspect that the same voters who will choose Eisenberg over Firth will favor Rush here.

Actress in a Leading Role
Annette Bening, The Kids Are All Right
Nicole Kidman, Rabbit Hole
Jennifer Lawrence, Winter's Bone
Natalie Portman, Black Swan
Michelle Williams, Blue Valentine


Word on the street says this is Portman's to lose, but it's worth noting that the industry at large really seemed to rally behind Blue Valentine and its battle with the MPAA.  I'm going with the street on this one.

The Fighter
Actress in a Supporting Role
Amy Adams, The Fighter
Helena Bonham Carter, The King's Speech
Melissa Leo, The Fighter
Hailee Steinfeld, True Grit
Jacki Weaver, Animal Kingdom


Conventional wisdom says it's bad when two performances are nominated from the same picture.  Adams or Leo (a favorite of mine since her days on Homicide: Life on the Street) would stand a better chance of winning without the other on the ballot.  Steinfeld seems to have wowed everyone and probably should have been nominated in a Leading Role, but it is what it is.  I'm going with Melissa Leo, for reasons I can't right now articulate.

Toy Story 3
Animated Feature Film
How to Train Your Dragon, Chris Sanders and Den DeBlois
The Illusionist, Sylvain Chomet
Toy Story 3, Lee Unkrich

How to Train Your Dragon really surprised everyone, I think, with its box office take and its strong word of mouth.  I love Craig Ferguson, but I never bet against Pixar.  Toy Story 3 was more than a worthy sendoff for beloved characters; it continued to explore the theme of that franchise.  Namely, how we make sense of our changing place in the world.

Alice in Wonderland
Art Direction
Alice in Wonderland, Production Design: Robert Stromberg; Set Decoration: Karen O'Hara
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1, Production Design: Stuart Craig; Set Decoration: Stephanie McMillan
Inception, Production Design: Guy Hendrix Dyas; Set Decoration: Larry Dias and Doug Mowat
The King's Speech, Production Design: Eve Stewart; Set Decoration: Judy Farr
True Grit, Production Design: Jess Gonchor; Set Decoration: Nancy Haigh

The King's Speech and True Grit faithfully recreated times past, but Alice in Wonderland invented an entirely new world--no mean feat, given how many interpretations of Lewis Carroll's Wonderland have graced the screen.  Bonus: I think being available for streaming from Netflix will help increase its visibility with voters who may have otherwise lost their regard for the movie after it left theaters last Spring.


True Grit
Cinematography
Black Swan, Matthew Libatique
Inception, Wally Pfister
The King's Speech, Danny Cohen
The Social Network, Jeff Cronenweth
True Grit, Roger Deakins

Shooting against natural landscapes is almost a cheat in this category today, but Deakins's work was simply stunning.  Moreover, his work kept the dialog and exposition-heavy film moving even when little was taking place.  Then again, I'm biased as this is the only nominee I've seen and I was completely enamored with how gorgeous it was.

Costume Design
Alice in Wonderland, Colleen Atwood
I Am Love, Antonella Cannarozzi
The King's Speech, Jenny Beavan
The Tempest, Sandy Powell
True Grit, Mary Zophres

Again, while I admire the authenticity of The King's Speech and True Grit, I feel that I've seen their ilk before.  Not so with Alice in Wonderland.

Directing
Black Swan, Darren Aranofsky
The Fighter, David O. Russell
The King's Speech, Tom Hooper
The Social Network, David Fincher
True Grit, Joel Coen and Ethan Coen

The Coen Brothers managed to make a solid movie that had already had an iconic film adaptation, Russell coaxed four nomination-worthy performances out of his cast and Fincher made a compelling movie about the guy behind Facebook.  But I'm going with Aranofsky here, for juggling the technical with the artistic and turning in what is, by nearly all accounts, a fascinating and captivating work of originality.

Documentary (Feature)
Exit Through the Gift Shop, Banksy and Jaimie D'Cruz
Gasland, John Fox and Trish Adlesic
Inside Job, Charles Ferguson and Audrey Marrs
Restrepo, Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger
Waste Land, Lucy Walker and Angus Aynsley

Being promoted on iTunes and Netflix will help, but I think Exit Through the Gift Shop benefits most from it subject matter.  The harmful effects of natural gas, war in Afghanistan, the economic collapse and garbage piles are more important than a street artist, but not as accessible or as likely to resonate with the art-conscious voters.

Documentary (Short Subject)
Killing in the Name, Nominees to be determined
Poster Girl, Nominees to be determined
Strangers No More, Karen Goodman and Kirk Simon
Sun Come Up, Jennifer Redfearn and Tim Metzger
The Warriors of Quigang, Ruby Yang and Thomas Lennon

I had to Google all five of these.  Killing in the Name (Muslim suicide bombers), Poster Girl (U.S. soldier returns home) and Strangers No More (multicultural school in Tel Aviv) all focus on man vs. man conflict; Sun Come Up (the relationship between land and see in the Carteret Islands) and The Warriors of Quigang (Chinese villagers combat a chemical plant) emphasize the ecological.  I'm going with The Warriors of Quigang for being a "green" David vs. Goliath story.

127 Hours
Film Editing
Black Swan, Andrew Weisblum
The Fighter, Pamela Martin
The King's Speech, Tariq Anwar
127 Hours, Jon Harris
The Social Network, Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter

I haven't seen any of the five, but it's my understanding that 127 Hours lived and died by the editing, crafting a story meant to make its audience feel discomfort, anguish and yet retain its hope.  Surely, Jon Harris had the thinnest margin for error of these nominees.

Biutiful
Foreign Language Film
Biutiful, Mexico
Dogtooth, Greece
In a Better World, Denmark
Incendies, Canada
Outside the Law (Hors-la-loi), Algeria

Being available to stream from Netflix helps Dogtooth's visibility, but not as much as Biutiful benefits from having Javier Bardem nominated elsewhere on this ballot.

The Wolfman
Makeup
Barney's Version, Adrien Morot
The Way Back, Edouard F. Henriques, Gregory Funk and Yolanda Tousseing
The Wolfman, Rick Baker and Dave Elsey

I'm only familiar with The Wolfman, but a quick Google search didn't show anything amazing about its competition.

Music (Original Score)
How to Train Your Dragon, John Powell
Inception, Hans Zimmer
The King's Speech, Alexandre Desplat
127 Hours, A.R. Rahman
The Social Network, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross

I have neither seen nor heard any of these, but there's been a lot of buzz for The Social Network's music in addition to the film.  It's my lazy pick.

Music (Original Song)
"Coming Home" from Country Strong; Music and Lyric by Tom Douglas, Troy Verges and Hillary Lindsey
"I See the Light" from Tangled; Music by Alan Menken, Lyric by Glenn Slater
"If I Rise" from 127 Hours; Music by A.R. Rahman, Lyric by Dido and Rollo Armstrong
"We Belong Together" from Toy Story 3; Music and Lyric by Randy Newman

A song from Toy Story 3 that isn't the Spanish version of "You've Got a Friend in Me?"  Pass.  I'm entirely unfamiliar with the other nominees, but "Coming Home" is $1.29 on Amazon and the others are $0.99.  That $0.28 tells me where the smart money is.

Black Swan
Best Picture
Black Swan, Mike Medavoy, Brian Oliver and Scott Franklins, Producers
The Fighter, David Hoberman, Todd Lieberman and Mark Wahlberg, Producers
Inception, Emma Thomas and Christopher Nolan, Producers
The Kids Are All Right, Gary Gilbert, Jeffrey Levy-Hinte and Celine Rattray, Producers
The King's Speech, Iain Canning, Emile Sherman and Gareth Unwin, Producers
127 Hours, Christian Colson, Danny Boyle and John Smithson, Producers
The Social Network, Scott Rudin, Dana Brunetti, Michael De Luca and Ceán Chaffin, Producers
Toy Story 3, Darla K. Anderson, Producer
True Grit, Scott Rudin, Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, Producers
Winter's Bone, Anne Rosellini and Alix Madigan-Yorkin, Producers

First things first.  Even though we're in the era of ten nominees, I for one still have the perception that there are really five nominees and five second class citizens in this category.  I identify the following as the latter: Inception (hindered by being linked to The Dark Knight by virtue of being by Nolan), Toy Story 3 (being a threequel hurts), True Grit (solid, but still seen as a remake).  That still leaves seven "serious" contenders.  2010 was a strong year for LGBT issues, and voters might be inclined to commemorate last year's progress with an award for The Kids Are All Right, but I think not.  The Fighter is well represented elsewhere on the ballot, a testament to the regard of its cast and crew.  I think its only hindrance is that Mark Wahlberg himself wasn't seen as worthy of nominating for Actor in a Leading Role.  The Social Network seems to have captured the zeitgeist of the year, and I think it comes down to this or the allure of Black Swan.  It's the latter that I think "feels" more like a Best Picture winner, and that's why I'm going with Aranofsky's head trip.

Day & Night
Short Film (Animated)
Day & Night, Teddy Newton
The Gruffalo, Jakob Schuh and Max Lang
Let's Pollute, Geefwee Boedoe
The Lost Thing, Shaun Tan and Andrew Ruhemann
Madagascar, carnet de voyage (Madagascar, a Journey Diary), Bastien Dubois

Again, I never bet against Pixar.

Na Wewe
Short Film (Live Action)
The Confession, Tanel Toom
The Crush, Michael Creagh
God of Love, Luke Matheny
Na Wewe, Ivan Goldschmidt
Wish 143, Ian Barnes and Samantha Waite

I had to Google these nominees.  Three are about young boys (one taking his first confession in The Confession; another in love with his teacher in The Crush and Wish 143 is semi-autobiographical about the friendship between Tom Bidwell and a priest).  Of the others, God of Love is about Cupid as a hipster and that leaves us with Na Wewe's exploration of the genocidal civil war in 1994 Burundi.  One of these is not like the others...and I suspect it wins.

Inception
Sound Editing
Inception, Richard King
Toy Story 3, Tom Myers and Michael Silvers
Tron: Legacy, Gwendolyn Yates Whittle and Addison Teague
True Grit, Skip Lievsay and Craig Berkey
Unstoppable, Mark P. Stoeckringer

In a nutshell, this is a consolation prize for Inception.  What hurt its chances with voters is Nolan's cold, cerebral style, but they'll want to recognize its technical achievements.

Sound Mixing
Inception, Lora Hirschberg, Gary A. Rizzo and Ed Novick
The King's Speech, Paul Hamblin, Martin Jensen and John Midgley
Salt, Jeffrey J. Haboush, Greg P. Russell, Scott Millan and Mark William Sarokin
The Social Network, Ren Klyce, David Parker, Michael Semanick and Mark Weitgarten
True Grit, Skip Lievsay, Craig Berkey, Greg Orloff and Peter F. Kurland

I assume that voters will be doubly confident in awarding Inception for its Sound Mixing after having just voted to recognize its Sound Editing.  (It's possible, though, that they'll feel they've discharged their obligation to it with Sound Editing and instead hand this out as a consolation prize to The King's Speech).

Visual Effects
Alice in Wonderland, Ken Ralston, David Schaub, Carey Villegas and Sean Phillips
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1, Tim Burke, John Richardson,Christian Manz and Nicholas Aithadi
Hereafter, Michael Owens, Bryan Grill, Stephen Trojansky and Joe Farrell
Inception, Paul Franklin, Chris Corbould, Andrew Lockley and Peter Bebb
Iron Man 2, Janek Sirrs, Ben Snow, Ged Wright and Daniel Sudick

I'm sure the Harry Potter team did top shelf work, but I suspect voters take it for granted by now that the series will be visually competent.  For me, this comes down to Alice and Inception, and I think Inception has the edge for its scale and detail.

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
127 Hours, Screenplay by Danny Boyle & Simon Beaufoy
The Social Network, Screenplay by Aaron Sorkin
Toy Story 3, Screenplay by Michael Arndt; Story by John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich
True Grit; Written for the Screen by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
Winter's Bone; Adapted for the screen by Debra Granik & Anne Rosellini

First things first.  Toy Story 3 is here because the Academy considers its characters a pre-existing condition.  Ultimately, I think this one comes down to True Grit (where the Coen brothers put their stamp on Charles Portiss's novel) and The Social Network (based upon Ben Mezrick's The Accidental Millionaires).  It's the latter that I think surprised everyone, making audiences take seriously the seemingly superficial story of Facebook.

Writing (Original Screenplay)
Another Year, Written by Mike Leigh
The Fighter, Screenplay by Scott Silver and Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson; Story by Keith Dorrington & Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson
Inception, Written by Christopher Nolan
The Kids Are All Right, Written by Lisa Cholodenko & Stuart Blumberg
The King's Speech, Screenplay by David Seidler

Inception blew everyone's minds, but I don't think it evoked an emotional response.  The Fighter did the reverse; its appeal is in knowing that it's a story of triumph against adversity.  It's The King's Speech that I think appeals most strongly to both heart and head, both inspiring and thought provocative.

Old Movies, New Posters

The past few years has seen the rise of a peculiar offshoot of the cult movie screening: the production of new, limited edition movie posters for older films.  Many of these were commissioned for specific screenings, such as the Alamo Drafthouse Rolling Roadshow series (where specific movies were screened at or on the actual location where they were originally filmed).  The leading producer of these posters, Mondo Tees, makes their new posters available online though they sell out within literal minutes due to increasing awareness (read: demand) and the low production size.  Here are a handful of my personal favorites, chosen to give you an idea what's out there.

Goldfinger, Todd Slater
There were a scant 300 of these produced for a once-in-a-lifetime screening of Goldfinger at Fort Knox on 3 August 2007.  You may recall my guts cooperated that night and permitted me to attend; I discussed it in this previous entry.  My friend Chad bought me a T-shirt version of this as an early birthday gift.

Borg Queen, Ken Taylor
A scant 210 of these were produced, along with 80 that glow in the dark.  Mondo Tees sold these out in about sixteen minutes on 2 September 2010.  Star Trek: First Contact is still my second favorite Trek movie (after Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country), and Alice Krige was killer as the Borg Queen.

The Bride, Michael Ansin
235 of these, plus another 100 glow-in-the-dark silver ink variants, went on sale 30 June 2010 from Mondo.  The attention to detail is astounding, and possibly the most interesting poster I've ever seen for the classic film (a personal favorite of mine).  I personally think this would make a fascinating companion piece to the Borg Queen.

Dracula, Aaron Horkey and Vania Zouravilov
Mondo's first poster of 2011.  There were 330 regular black-and-white posters ($60 apiece), as well as 70 sepia variants ($110), on sale 12 January.  It's astounding that the image is not of Bela Lugosi, and yet the poster perfectly captures the Gothic aesthetic idealized by Tod Browning's 1931 production.

Eyes Wide Shut, David O'Daniel
What's this?  Not all posters are from Mondo!  This is from San Francisco's Castro Theatre.  75 of these were produced for a 30 April 2010 screening of Stanley Kubrick's final film (and a personal favorite of mine).  If you hurry on over to Alien Corset you can still actually buy one of these for a relatively modest $45 plus shipping.  (I'm entirely unaffiliated with Castro Theatre or David O'Daniel; I just love the movie and think this poster worth promoting.)

I've provided these examples to hopefully provide a sense of what's out there.  Mondo's most recent offerings included posters based on Santa Sangre and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  Personally, I'm glad I don't have the money to buy any of these because if I did I think I'd become addicted and in any event I haven't the wall space for these works.  But if you do have an empty space on your wall and you want something a little rare to fill it, I hope you have a new idea what's out there.

24 January 2011

Wizard Magazine July 1991-January 2011

For nearly 20 years, Wizard has been "the guide to comics."  It wasn't the first print publication dedicated to the medium, but it was the one that defined readership for an entire generation.  To best appreciate Wizard, you have to do some time traveling to a period before the proliferation of PCs and Internet access in every home.  I grew up in a small town.  I've already shared about shopping at The Great Escape, and while it's true that most of my comic books were purchased there, in the early going most of my pedestrian selections were made from the meager offerings at convenience stores in our town.  Growing up, I was the only kid on my street I knew who read comic books.  Nor did I have any living relatives who were into them (my uncle shared my taste, but had passed away before I was born; I did inherit a few of his old issues, which I still have).

Alan Moore publicity photo
It was Wizard that educated me about comic books.  I could find a copy each month amongst the magazines on sale at Kroger, Walmart or one gas station or another.  Through its pages I learned the back stories to comic book characters and titles that I've still never read.  I was taught about the creators past and present responsible for the stories that captivated me.  Alan Moore will forever be defined in my mind by the publicity photograph that appeared without fail in each month's ranked list of the top ten writers.  I took vicarious delight in the annual theft of Jim Lee's bathrobe at Comic Con.  I learned about how the writers and artists of the Golden Age had been done wrong by the publishers.  Wizard instructed me in proper comic book jargon (I balk at the generic use of the term, "graphic novel" being applied to any comic book publication with an ISBN).  In short, it was my text book to the medium.


Wizard also provided one of the most meaningful elements to my time spent as an active comic book buyer and reader: it facilitated a sense of community.  Its letters column--in those days, brilliantly edited by Jim McLaughlin--compiled everything from fanboy praise to fanboy angst, all addressed with aplomb.  A stark-raving tirade would be countered with defusing humor; a sincere request would warrant an informative answer.  Creators would be directly asked questions, where applicable and if necessary.  Wizard was the high priest through whom we sinners could reach the gods.  We also got a sense of how many people out there shared our hobby.  You can feel awfully alone and even self-conscious about yourself if you're the only person you know with a particular enthusiasm, and Wizard was there to provide a supplementary reaffirmation that while we may not know anyone else in our neighborhood with a longbox full of Detective Comics back issues, we were not alone.

I could point to various reasons why I quit reading Wizard, and perhaps if enough of us had shared those reasons they could have better adapted to the times.  Suffice it to say that I simply reached a point where I didn't really enjoy comics anymore.  Ongoing crossover superhero stories became not only expensive, but uninteresting to me.  Looking back, I should have simply switched and tried other titles.  I could have been reading Bone when it was still an active book.  I can't say now why I felt the need to walk away from the industry so completely, but when I did, Wizard went with it.  By 2000, I'd gone to three successive Wizard World Chicago conventions.  I'd gotten my fill of community, and was supplementing it nicely with nascent forays into the Internet.

Wizard #70
I can't say why Wizard was so slow to embrace an online forum.  Maybe they doubted that it was relevant, or perhaps they didn't understand its potential.  It seems to me that there's still a place in the world for a periodical featuring interviews with comic book creators and thoughtful criticism of the works in print.  Unfortunately, word of mouth the last several years has been that Wizard--along with the rest of the industry--has become little more than a mouthpiece for Hollywood.  The microcosm of this relationship is still Comic Con San Diego, where the annual event has become a show room for forthcoming geek-centric movie properties; comic books are now merely one element in the synergy-minded industry.  Who needs a product catalog, when pictures of merchandise can be seen on the websites of any number of vendors?

Still, I cannot look back on my time as an active comic book reader and imagine it without Wizard.  I relished each issue, learning tidbits about characters real and imagined.  Effective immediately, Wizard has ceased to offer a print publication and is going to a digital-only format.  I sincerely wish them well with the new format, and hope that the new direction includes some of the charm and magic that once captivated me.  If the comic book industry is to survive, it needs the adolescents of this generation to be dazzled and informed and I still believe that Wizard is best suited to direct those efforts.  It would be a shame for them to fail.

"The 4400" The Complete First Season

The 4400 The Complete First Season
Starring: Joel Gretcsh, Jaqueline McKenzie, Mahershalalhasbaz Ali, Patrick Flueger, Chad Faust, Laura Allen, Kaj-Erik Eriksen, Brooke Nevin and Peter Coyote
Created by Scott Peters & René Echevarria
List Price: $19.99
5 episodes, 256 minutes


All I had to hear about The 4400 to become interested were the names Rene Echevarria, Robert Hewitt Wolfe and Ira Steven Behr: three of the key writers of Deep Space Nine. The five episodes here introduce the premise (that 4400 people were abducted over a period of about 60 years and all returned en masse without having aged a day since their disappearances). Along the way, we're privy to some interesting social commentary--this was at the height of the Bush administration, the PATRIOTAct, etc.--and story arcs that immediately began to evolve and sprawl before our eyes (something that we DS9 fans found quite familiar). These first five episodes are structured more like a mini-series (which is all the show was at the time of production) and gorging is easily the way to go here.

As for the DVD release, Paramount gave us no extra content at all; not even a promo ad for the series. Each episode opens with a recap of previous plot threads, which may have made sense for weekly, over-the-air broadcast but is extraneous on DVD. Shaving off these four recaps would probably have reduced the entire season to just over four hours and one wonders why Paramount didn't just go that route and fit all five episodes on one disc. At least they didn't present it as a flipper disc!

22 January 2011

"The Dukes of Hazzard" The Complete First Season

The Dukes of Hazzard The Complete First Season
Starring: Tom Wopat, John Schneider, Catherine Bach, Denver Pyle and James Best as Sheriff Rosco Coltrane
Also Starring Sorrell Booke as Boss Hogg, Ben Jones as Cooter and Waylon Jennings as The Balladeer
Written and Directed by: Various
Created by Gy Waldron
13 episodes, 687 minutes
DVD Release Date: 1 June 2004
List Price: $27.98

I was 57 days old when "One Armed Bandits" aired, and my parents each recall me watching the show from my playpen.  I remember spending many an afternoon during the summer of 1996 watching re-runs on TNN, and I didn't care when they cycled back around so the show is fairly well etched in my memory after all these years.  In fact, I was surprised at how sharply I could recall lines of dialog from "Limo One Is Missing" (one of my favorite episodes in the entire series).  You have to know going into the show that you're going to get some relatively tame storytelling with more than a kernel of cornball.  It can be deterring, but I found the charm of the show transcended those elements and that the fun spirit still comes across all these years later for the DVD Talk TV on DVD* Challenge.  It's probably worth noting that I watched most of this box set in the course of the last 15 hours, in between frequent and painful trips to the bathroom.  Stupid Crohn's disease!

That first season was a bit rough around the edges, and might raise an eyebrow among more casual viewers.  There are references to prostitution in a few episodes, and even Bo and Luke partake in beers at the Boars Nest (in later seasons, they'd never actually have a drink).  Boss Hogg and Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane aren't quite the out-and-out buffoons that they became, either.  Sorrell Booke is rather imposing in his way, and while everyone's eyes were always on the lovely Catherine Bach I think I finally saw this time around that it was James Best who stole the show.  I found myself empathizing with the career law officer whose pension was taken away by public vote.  When you're watching from your playpen, things like that don't quite resonate.

As for the DVD release, I despise flipper discs and it's rather puzzling that Warner Bros. felt the need to split up 13 episodes on three flippers here (especially since there's nothing on the B side of Disc 3!).  I had a problem getting Disc 2 Side B to read, but eventually got it going.  Some of the a/v quality is suspect, but I do believe it's as good as these now-32 year old episodes are ever going to look and sound.  There's only one commentary track to be found, but it's a delight to hear actors John Schneider and Catherine Bach watch "One Armed Bandits" together and reminisce.  Schneider in particular did his homework, and keeps the commentary moving with trivia and insight.  The rest of the features include a 30 minute cast reunion (minus the deceased Booke and Denver Pyle, and the conspicuously absent Tom Wopat) trading stories, which is fairly enjoyable.  A brief clip of assorted NASCAR drivers commenting on the show is pretty thin, and the only other feature is a trailer for The Dukes of Hazzard: Return of the General Lee video game.  I feel fairly satisfied overall.

21 January 2011

"A Positively Final Appearance" by Sir Alec Guinness

A Positively Final Appearance
Alec Guinness
Date of Publication: 1 October 1999
Date of Purchase: 19 July 2010
Cover Price: $24.95
238 Pages
ISBN: 0-670-88800-1

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I ended 2008 by reading Sir Alec Guinness's autobiography, Blessings in Disguise and 2009 with his journal, My Name Escapes Me so I was eager to conclude last year with this last volume of reflections and anecdotes from the venerable thespian.  Unfortunately, my vitamin D deficiency got out of control again, leaving me unable to concentrate long enough to read more than a few pages at a time so rather than finish on New Year's Day as planned, the reading was drawn out for nearly a full month.

This journal spans Summer 1996 through the end of 1998.  Guinness shares his observations on world events (the death of Diana, Princess of Wales and the Lewinsky scandal chief among them), his activities (lots of going to the theater) and sprinkled throughout are reminisces of old colleagues and friends.  It is this last category that makes A Positively Final Appearance so engaging.  I guiltily confess to being among the youthful audience woefully unfamiliar with most of the names he drops.  Ever mindful of this handicap, though, Sir Alec crafts his anecdotes in such an accessible fashion that my previous ignorance of Bea Lillie does not hinder in the least my enjoyment of a bizarre cruise ship tale of the woman shared near the end.

Voracious readers will particularly appreciate reading Guinness, who frequently informs us of what he has been reading.  Unlike me, he liked to re-read favorites.  Anyone with even a passing interest in theater should appreciate the insights into performances past.  In many ways, these two journals (more so than Blessings in Disguise) are a primer for theater students and enthusiasts.

Which reminds me: don't come here looking for much about Guinness's film career.  It's rare that he was compelled to comment upon that part of his career, and more often than not it's merely to recall how dissatisfying it was.  Star Wars fans in particular should beware; he shares a particularly scathing anecdote early on about the movies and its fans that may not endear him to those whose adoration of the movies has transcended into worship.  Here's a particularly scathing passage:
"A refurbished Star Wars is on somewhere or everywhere. I have no intention of revisiting any galaxy. I shrivel inside each time it is mentioned. Twenty years ago, when the film was first shown, it had a freshness, also a sense of moral good and fun. Then I began to be uneasy at the influence it might be having. The first bad penny dropped in San Francisco when a sweet-faced boy of twelve told me proudly that he had seen Star Wars over a hundred times. His elegant mother nodded with approval. Looking into the boy's eyes I thought I detected little star-shells of madness beginning to form and I guessed that one day they would explode.
'I would love you to do something for me,' I said.
'Anything! Anything!' the boy said rapturously.
'You won't like what I'm going to ask you to do,' I said.
'Anything, sir, anything!' 
'Well,' I said, 'do you think you could promise never to see Star Wars again?'
He burst into tears. His mother drew herself up to an immense height. 'What a dreadful thing to say to a child!' she barked, and dragged the poor kid away. Maybe she was right but I just hope the lad, now in his thirties, is not living in a fantasy world of secondhand, childish banalities."
A Positively Final Appearance as a title was intended as a jab toward the tradition of billing a stage performer's "final" appearance on stage as a marketing gimmick, but unfortunately it turns out to have been the truth for Guinness.  He passed away 5 August 2000, not long after the publication of this journal.  Readers really ought to begin with the aforementioned Blessings in Disguise and then come to his two journals in chronological order.  The lion's share of his stories are to be found in the autobiography, whereas the structure and tenor of the journals make them more of a two-volume coda to that work.

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20 January 2011

Thoughts on the Healthcare Debate, Part III


Speaker Boehner taking the Oath of Office
The ink still drying on last year's historic health care legislation, the first action taken by the new House of Representatives was to vote on its repeal, which passed.  If you're concerned by this, don't panic and if you think this is some kind of victory don't get cocky because the Senate is more likely to discuss what MC Hammer had to say about Jay-Z last year than it is to take up the repeal.  Like Speaker John Boehner's first action (a full reading of the Constitution of the United States), this was a dog and pony show meant to demonstrate how "seriously" he takes his job representing whoever it is that he represents.  I know it's not me, because he clearly despises everything I value.  (Also, I'm not a resident of Ohio.)

The inherent problem with the GOP position is that it views health care as a commodity to be enjoyed by those who can afford it rather than a basic human need.  They erroneously conflate capitalism with democracy, as though we're still trying to distinguish ourselves from the godless commies of yesteryear.  You know what happens when you don't help the sick and injured?  They stay sick and injured, or they seek treatment in emergency rooms that cannot legally deny them and then those bills go unpaid.  Rather than actually doing something about this problem--which isn't solving itself, despite GOP wishful thinking and willful denial--all Speaker Boehner, et al, have brought to the table is indignant grandstanding about concern for the "burden" to be passed onto hypothetical future generations.

In any event, I think even those with the most hopeful outlook on the future of American health care expected the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to be eventually treated like every other well-intentioned government program: gutted whenever possible by legislators whose benefactors stand to gain from its ineffectiveness.  Funding will be stymied and legislators who will never experience the effects of their actions firsthand will pride themselves on "doing the right thing" by thwarting this at every turn.  This is a microcosm of our entire political system and I'm afraid that the greatest nation on Earth has revealed itself to be petty and short-sighted, fighting not over how to combat a major problem, but whether we should do anything at all.

There is one more aspect of this "debate" that has not received any significant attention, and that is the effect that this has had on those who actually stand to finally gain coverage.  Most people don't know what it's like to have their entire lives derailed by changes in their health.  They don't know what it's like to be told that every aspiration they ever had is now nothing more than a fantasy; that their reality will henceforth revolve around lab tests, visits to doctors and that their good days will be the kind of uneventful days that everyone else finds mundane.  The message from Speaker Boehner and his supporters in Congress has been unmistakable: You are unwanted.  You are a burden, and we would be better off without you.

Does it sound like I'm taking this personally?  If so, it's because I am.  You'd better believe I take health care personally.  It's not about abstract ideas over how paternal the federal government should be.  My life has already peaked; I can hope that tomorrow isn't worse than today but I know I will never again have a tomorrow as good as yesterday.  The only thing that stands between me and complete hopelessness is the security of having medical coverage--coverage that was legally withheld from me prior to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010.  So, Speaker Boehner, when you presume to speak on my behalf I would appreciate it if you could admit that you do not, in fact, have my interests on your mind.  If you did, you'd have something constructive to say instead of wagging your finger that some kid yet to be born might be (gasp!) taxed to help fund a system in which I--and he or she--won't be left out in the cold.

"She-Ra, Princess of Power" Season One, Volume 1

She-Ra, Princess of Power
Season One, Volume 1
Starring the Voice Talent of: Melendy Britt, George DiCenzo, John Erwin, Linda Gary, Alan Oppenheimer, Erika Scheimer, Erik Gunden
Written & Directed by Various
DVD Release Date: 7 November 2006
List Price: Out of Print Amazon


Wow! Of course as a viewer you have to make allowances for the limited production budget (which translates into heavily recycled material) and the writers weren't as free to be sophisticated as those of today's animation. Still, there's quite a lot to appreciate here if you're willing to overlook those elements--which, admittedly, can be a detraction. If you're into feminism and gender equality issues, anti-establishment rebellion, conflicts between nature and industry or human rights issues there's a good chance you'll find at least an episode to appreciate here (despite a general lack of subtlety). The humor is sometimes clever, sometimes absurd and often based on bad puns, but that's part of the charm.


It might also help viewers appreciate the recycled footage and music to know that those things helped keep production here in the U.S. at a time when nearly all animators had resorted to outsourcing their shows.  This all underscores how bizarre it is that a show made in Reagan's America would be so subversive, but there you have it.

As for the DVD release, Ink and Paint really did an outstanding job here.  The slipbox is designed to continue a spinal mural created on their He-Man and the Masters of the Universe releases.  If you have only their three She-Ra releases you still have a decent looking image on your shelf or you can turn the boxes the other way and display volume-specific information with a main character as you might find on a regular release.

The depicted spine features part of a mural spanning the Masters of the Universe.
Regarding the actual content, there are two lively episode commentaries, a storyboard comparison version of the first episode and a very satisfying documentary spotlighting some of the key writers (including J. Michael Straczynski!) from the show discussing their contributions to the series. (Of less interest are the 50 Character, Creature and Artifact profiles.) Disc 6 also includes some DVD-ROM goodies such as five assorted scripts, a coloring book, a comic book version of "The Secret of the Sword" and the series bible, all as .PDF files. All in all, a very satisfying DVD release for a show that had more going for it than I was afraid I would find after all these years.


If I had one complaint, it's that the first five episodes (collectively, "The Secret of the Sword") are presented as individual episodes the way they were broadcast on TV. I'd have preferred the singular, theatrical cut (yes, it was actually shown in theaters; my mom took my brother and me to see it as kids!). I understand that cut is on The Best of She-Ra, Princess of Power compilation release, but it would have been nice here.


This specific release is out of print, though another company now has the rights and has just begun to reissue this series on DVD.  If you can find the three volumes released by Ink and Paint, I think you'll find them well worth the trouble and cost.  We found all three at Half Price Books for $14.98 apiece little more than a year ago, and I've seen them there occasionally since.  It would be well worth taking the time to look.

17 January 2011

Playlist: Childhood Years

Last year I went through and compiled five playlists of music, each meant to capture a specific era of my life.  This is the first of the five, Childhood Years.  It roughly covers the mid- to late-80s.  Mom drove a Ford Fairmont during those years.  It had a radio, but not a cassette player so we supplemented with a portable tape deck.  The modern equivalent would be using portable speakers to play your iPod instead of connecting it, I suppose.  Anyway, here's the annotated playlist.

"The Touch" by Stan Bush - The very first time I owned music of my own was when Mom surprised me with the Transformers: The Movie soundtrack on cassette.  This wasn't the main title, but it really is the song everyone thinks of when discussing this release.  Mom indulged me and actually found herself enjoying both this as well as "Dare," Bush's other contribution to the soundtrack.

"Honky Tonk Man" by Dwight Yoakam - I'll always remember my brother camping out in front of the TV, waiting for the music video to this to come on so he could blast it as loud as Mom would let him.

"Little Deuce Coupe" by The Beach Boys - Mom loved the Beach Boys, and what better song to remember singing along with while driving?

"Chantilly Lace" by The Big Bopper - In those days, Mom's favorite radio station was WRKA, 103.1 FM, which played oldies tunes from the 50s-early 70s.  I could have picked any number of standards from their rotation, but this was a particular standout because of the vocal range displayed by the Big Bopper.

"Sherry" by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons - One of the few tapes we owned and played often included a hits compilation from the famed Jersey act.  This was one of my brother's favorites.

"In the Ghetto" by Elvis Presley - I'm sure WRKA played other Elvis hits, but this is the one I always think of them playing.  Preachy?  Maybe, but it still kills me.

"The Wanderer" by Dion - Another WRKA staple.  Eddie Rabbitt covered it around that time, too, and I could easily have gone with his version here.  You can't really go wrong either way.

"Scooby Doo" by Hoyt Curtin & Singers - Yes, the theme song from Scooby-Doo needed to be on my childhood playlist.  No, I don't care what you think about that.

"Billy Does Your Bulldog Bite" by Sawyer Brown - Did you see what I did there?  I followed "Scooby Doo" with another dog-centric song.  This one was from Sawyer Brown's Shakin' album, another title in our tape library and a favorite of my brother's.  This was his favorite, largely because it was about a guy having to negotiate with a young boy and his dog.

"Nobody" by Sylvia - I can't really place this one in context.  I'm all but certain we didn't have any of Sylvia's music on tape, but maybe we did.  Regardless, this is one of the first songs I think of when I reminisce about music from my childhood.

"Brass Monkey" by Beastie Boys - My older half-brother played this quite a bit.  I liked it because it was as fun as it was stupid.  Still do.

"Ghostbusters" by Ray Parker, Jr. - I rarely went to Champs, the local skating rink, but this was one of the most frequently played tunes there.  In fact, I think of roller skating more quickly than I think of the movie when I hear this.  I'm still no good at skating.

"Book of Love" by The Monotones - Another WRKA staple.  I can't say I understand my infatuation with the song but I have yet to tire of it.

"Who's Cheatin' Who" by Charly McClain - First things first: so far as I know, we're not related at all.  Secondly, this is one of my "misheard lyrics" songs; I could have sworn that the line is, "It makes you wonder who's doin' right with someone tonight/and whose dog is barkin' next door."  I felt better about my confusion years later when I made friends with someone else who made that mistake.

"Batdance" by Prince - Chronologically, this should probably have ended this playlist because Batman really marked the transition from childhood to a new era for me.  That aside, I like Prince's funkiness following a country cheatin' song for some reason so here it is.

"Daniel Boone" by The Imperials - I can't even say now I recall how I was first introduced to Daniel Boone, but he's been a hero of mine since childhood.  I gorged on reruns of the TV series starring Fess Parker, knowing even then how historically inaccurate the show was.  I didn't care; it was fun, and that's all I expected from a TV show.  I could find the truth elsewhere, which I have.

"House of the Rising Sun" by The Animals - I was entirely unaware how old this song really was until I bought Waylon Live on CD and saw the songwriting credit read, "Traditional."  I'll always think of the Animals's version first, thanks once more to WRKA.

"Send My Body" by Randy Travis - Storms of Life is one of the greatest albums ever recorded.  You need to know this.  I could have included all ten songs from that here and not felt I'd gone overboard.  I selected "Send My Body" particularly because I always think of Adam singing along with it because it included the line, "My mama was a damn hard workin' woman" and he got away with saying "the D word" because it was in the song.  He sang as loud as he could on that line.

"Blueberry Hill" by Fats Domino - Back to WRKA.  I always think of lazy summer Sunday afternoon drives when I hear this one.

"I Wouldn't Have Missed It for the World" by Ronnie Milsap - Milsap was another of Mom's favorite artists. I don't recall now which tape(s) of his we owned, but we played his music quite a lot.  This one was a favorite of mine even at the time, and I thought it a fitting look back on my childhood.

"Flying" (from E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial) by John Williams - I chose to end the era-specific playlists with a selection from a movie score and for my childhood I went with a piece from E.T., which is the first movie I can recall being taken to see in a theater.  Mom had a panic attack, though I didn't really comprehend that's what was going on at the time.  The movie still has the ability to affect me, even though I can see how Spielberg is manipulating me and I know what's coming.  It's actually a lot like my childhood: I knew how everyone around me actually had power over me and all I could do was choose how to follow their lead.

So, there's the music my childhood.  I'm not sure what you're supposed to do with this information.  You're welcome to share your own childhood-themed playlists (though if you're going to go to the trouble you'll probably prefer to just post them on your own blog or make a Facebook note).