Grown-Ass Men

We’re all getting so old, aren’t we?

Today, February 28, 2009, our old friend Colin finally leaves his teenage years in the past. That’s right, he’s a whopping 20 years old. But, sadly, Colin’s birth is not the single greatest thing to happen on February 28. I know, it’s hard to believe, but let’s take a look:

Today, in 1854, the Republican Party of the United States was formed. In 1861 Colorado became a territory. In 1939 someone found the word “dord” (which still isn’t a word) in Webster’s dictionary, and some serious shit went down. In 1940 the first basketball game to be televised was played. In 1983 the final episode of M*A*S*H aired, and it is still the most-watched episode in history. In 1991 the Gulf War ended today. And, of course, who could forget that earthquake in 2001? Colin shares his birthday with several notable historic figures, such as Benjamin Wadsworth, Brian Jones, Gilbert Gottfied and Mario Andretti.

Actually, you know what? In retrospect, I’m gonna give it to him. None of that history is that great. After all, who knows what the world would be like without Colin? Top scientists insure us that it would be a cold, dark world, but no one really knows how bad it would be. But a world without Mario Andretti?

Anyway, happy birthday C-Man.

Ooh, and here’s a “gift.” I put a rejected song from Robo Jockeys on the SLXP MySpace. Enjoy.

C.A.T: Eldorado

Electric Light Orchestra – Eldorado (1974)
I know this is late, can you forgive me? So for today’s classic album I decided to pick something a little more obscure but I assure you, it’s a mighty fine album that was critical in Electric Light Orchestra’s success in the United States. Is it my favorite ELO album? I’m not sure but it’s a contender and a good place to start for anyone interested in getting into this Symphonic rock group.

Eldorado released in 1974, was ELO’s fourth album. Their first album to make use of an entire orchestra (instead of overdubbing the three string member’s parts) as well as the group’s first concept album. El Dorado tells the story of a day dreaming “Walter Mitty” like character who escapes the reality of his mundane life through his dreams. Guided by a sweeping orchestra, funky synths and all that other good stuff, Eldorado is an ambitious album and very impressive from a production standpoint.

The songs here aren’t some of ELO’s more widely known aside from maybe “Can Get It Out of My Head” (The group’s first top ten single) but they’re still very catchy and filled to the brim with just about any instrument you could dream up. It’s amazing works like this that make me wonder why Jeff Lynne isn’t a more widely known songwriter/producer. Luckily he’s well respected in most critical music circles and why not? He plays like a gazillion instruments, does all the groups vocals, orchestral arrangements and definitely shows skill as a producer, as he went on to produce albums for such artists as George Harrison, Tom Petty, Roy Orbison and those two Beatles singles released for the Beatles Anthology back in 1995.

It blows my mind how epic this album still sounds today and I’m yet to tire of it. Probably the only thing I don’t like is every once in awhile there’s this slow, stupid robotic voice that does brief poetry, luckily it doesn’t pop up that often. So if you ever feel like checking out ELO this is the album I recommend checking out. Excellent, melodic Pop/Rock that would make a great soundtrack. Why they didn’t use it for that animated DreamWorks movie The Road to El Dorado will forever be one of life’s many mysteries.

Favorite Tracks:“Boy Blue”, “Can’t Get it Out of My Head”, “Mister Kingdom”

Everybody Hates Kimmel II: The Search for More Money

I was just looking through the Cat Fancy archives, when I noticed that last year I did a brief post on Jimmy Kimmel’s Post-Oscar show. I’d forgotten about that and it’s funny cause I actually managed to catch it again this year, so why not continue with tradition? It all started when I saw a 30 second promo for the show featuring who else but Tom Cruise. In the promo Jimmy saves Tom from a fire that he presumably started and asks if he’ll do his show. So I figured tom would be on there doing something special but he wasn’t. They just had a behind the scenes look at the making of the promo. So what it was, was a promo to watch Jimmy Kimmel to see how they made the promo… Try and wrap your mind around that.

Anyways, I seem to recall that last year he had a bunch of celebrities but this year it was slim pickings. Jimmy did a terrible parody of Batman/Benjamin Button where he in heavy makeup was like an old baby vigilante. The makeup was good but nothing else about it was. It was cool to see Mel Gibson as the featured guest, though I’m not sure why he was there. He had a strange little Van Dyke beard and mostly just joked around talking about the Oscars. When Jimmy Kimmel asked him about his arrest I was afraid it would be all awkward or something but Mel seems to laugh it off know, he’s not so bad just kind of kooky. Throughout the interview Jimmy said they’d show a sneak peak of Mel’s next secret epic which was of course a joke. It was Mel in a Civil War period piece playing Colonel Sanders getting revenge on some chickens or something.. Sort of amusing. The show ended with some douchey pop singer and then it was over. Not very impressive but I’m always down to up Cat Fancy’s post count.

P.S. Did anyone see the last episode of Conan? I initially missed it but luckily IMDb had it available to watch on their site. More or less a clip show with Andy there were some pretty great clips. The White Stripes weren’t very impressive and the end of the show was basically just Conan thanking people but I’m pumped for Conan’s next big step.

Golden Years

I watched the 81st Academy Awards last night, which really wasn’t one of the most satisfying ceremonies I can recall seeing. I’ve been watching them consistently for about seven years and off and on before that and I’ll admit it has it’s “on” years and “off” years” in my opinion. There were a few high notes last night and some definite laughs, but the ceremony was not without it’s disappointments, so let’s take a look back at the 81st Academy Awards.

The Host
Hugh “Wolverine ” Jackman joined the list of entertainers to host the prestigious event and definitely started out with a bang. I’d forgotten about his extensive background in musical theater, so the opening number really caught me off guard. For those who didn’t watch the ceremony, Hugh lead a song and dance number through cheap sets singing about various nominees. He had some silly lyrics, did a duet with Anne Hathaway (being the Nixon to his Frost) and even did an interpretive techno infused portion about how he didn’t see The Reader. It was funny, but after that I really didn’t feel Hugh having much of a presence for the rest of the evening. He came back later to a fairly lame song and dance number tribute to musicals (not sure why, there were no musicals nominated) but aside from that it’s like they didn’t even have a host. I think it goes to show that you really should go with a comedian to host if you want consistency

The Ceremony
I can’t remember who planned, or directed, or was the head honcho behind this year’s ceremony but it was a mess. I mean having all the acting categories presented by five actor groups giving long, drawn out, awkward tributes to each performer was so incredibly tedious. It felt phony too, I mean Adrien Brody talking about Richard Jenkins as if he’s one of the greatest living actors, I was just ready for him to say “I love you” it didn’t work at all and really tried my patience. The pairings of presenters didn’t seem to fit either, Daniel Craig and Sarah Jessica Parker? Yeah they really had chemistry. I also had a problem with the sets looking like makeup or supplies rooms. Some of these technical nominees probably get pretty excited attending the most glamourous night in industry and you’re gonna make em stand in front of a bunch of junk?

Though I was disappointed by the show’s arrangement, I did like band leader/composer Michael Giacchino’s more swing oriented musical approach. I’ve liked the guy ever since he made that sweet ending theme for Cloverfield and I think he did a pretty good job.

The Awards
Most of the awards weren’t much of a surprise. I did pretty good on my Oscar scorecard cruising along through most of the night. I think most people, myself included, were pretty touched by Heath Ledger’s family accepting his award so that was a nice highlight. The only thing that really steamed my potatoes (and I’m sure all my close friends and associates know what I’m about to say) is denying Mickey Rourke of his first and probably only chance to ever win an Oscar. Sure Sean Penn was good but it was just as good as any other performance he’s ever done (I think it mostly got a boost due to the film’s issues and political relevance) but Penn will probably get plenty of other chances to win or get nominated. I mean 56 year old Mickey “The Comeback Kid” Rourke was outstanding in his strikingly genuine performance and although it’s apparent that he’s an amazing actor, he may never get this perfect of a role ever again. Personally, Sean Penn’s not even my second pick that would be Frank Langella (Who is as well unlikely to get another shot for an Oscar) but that’s the way the cookie crumbles.

Screenplays, Director, the other Acting Nominees, Best Picture, didn’t really surprise me. I wasn’t particularly excited going into the ceremony (aside from the possible Rourke victory) and wasn’t very excited after the ceremony. A definite weak year for the Oscars if you ask me, but it could always be better next year, I mean 2007 was awesome.

Pickin’ Winners

We waited on this for a long time, I’m not sure why. That’s right, it’s Oscar pick time. Frankly, I was never too thrilled with the nominations this year, and I’m not even sure if I’m going to watch this year. But that doesn’t mean I’m not going to give you readers what you deserve. And that means my picks. So, here they are:

I’m just going to do the big awards, because I don’t think anyone really cares what I think about the other awards anyway.

Supporting Actress – Penelope Cruz
This is always the hardest category to call. I mean, Viola Davis was great but was only in the film for a scene. Taraji P. Henson was good in Benjamin Button, the only best picture nom. out of these women. But Penelope Cruz has gotten a lot of praise for her work and even won the BAFTA. I think it’s going to her.

Supporting Actor – Heath Ledger
Duh. I do think it’s nice that Robert Downey Jr. got himself a nomination, but this is in the bag for Ledger.

Lead Actress – Kate Winslet
She’s due, right? That’s what they say. Meryl Streep gets nominated for every role she takes, and Anne Hathaway got plenty of praise for her performance, but I think it’s got to be Winselt.

Lead Actor – Mickey Rourke
So this is the big award of the night. Sean Penn v. Mickey Rourke. Neither of them have done much to win over the Academy. Now I respect what Penn did in Milk, but I still truly believe that Mickey Rourke was miles beyond what everyone else was doing this year. Most years. If he doesn’t win this award, I’m going to be quite disappointed.

Best Director – Gus Van Sant
Uh, I’m pretty much flipping a coin here. It’s going to be GVS or Danny Boyle. I choose Van Sant because, well, I liked Milk more than I liked Slumdog Millionaire. But I could easily got either way.

Best Picture – Slumdog Millionaire
I firmly believe Milk is the best film out of all these nominees. But Slumdog, now this is a film that has a strong enough following behind it to take the win. Everyone thinks it’s the greatest thing ever.

T3: …And The Oscar Should Have Gone To

Seeing as though the Oscars are this weekend, I thought I’d look back at the years in which the Academy got it wrong, and failed to give the award to the best film that was nominated for Best Picture.  Now despite the fact that John said that I’m the most qualified for this kind of list, as I started looking at all of the Best Picture nominees, I wasn’t so sure if I am that qualified for this.  So this list definitely takes into account the films that I have seen, so there’s probably a few that could’ve made this list but don’t because I haven’t seen them.  So here’s my list of the ten biggest mistakes in the Oscar category of Best Picture.

10. What Should Have Won: My Left Foot (1989)
Winner: Driving Miss Daisy
This inspiring story of Christy Brown, a man born with cerebral palsy doesn’t quite seem like an obvious choice for a Best Picture Winner, but it’s certainly the best film out of those nominated that year.  The main reason this one is on the list is the fact that they gave the best picture oscar to Driving Miss Daisy, which is pretty weak, especially when a much better film that tackled the issue of racism in America, Do The Right Thing, came out the same year.  But I guess you can usually count on the academy to play it safe.

9. Dr. Strangelove (1964) 
Winner: My Fair Lady
This was probably far too unique to garner a Best Picture win, in fact I’m kind of surprised to see that it was nominated, but it’s certainly one of Stanley Kubrick’s best films and pretty much the movie which all political satires are measured against.  I haven’t seen the musical My Fair Lady, which did win best picture that year, but it’s reputation is no where near the level of Dr. Strangelove’s status as one of the best dark comedies ever made.

8. Raiders of The Lost Ark (1981)
Winner: Chariots of Fire
This is another movie that really isn’t the kind of film that wins best picture, especially during the ’80s when the award was pretty much given to an uplifting light drama every year.  But you can’t deny how awesome this movie is, I mean I’m sure Chariots of Fire is alright, but there’s no way it’s a thrilling as any of the scenes in Raiders.  But it seems action/adventure movies will always get the shaft when it comes to Best Picture, well except for Return of the King I guess.

7. A Street Car Named Desire (1951)
Winner: An American In Paris
Streetcar is not only one of the best movie adaptations of a stage-play ever made, but there are also very few films that feature so many great performances.  So it’s hard to see why they would pick the Gene Kelly musical An American In Paris, which is an OK movie, but no where near as great as the other musicals MGM produced in the early ’50s like Singin’ The Rain or The Band Wagon, so I’m puzzled why it’s this one that would win a Best Picture Oscar.  But at least Streetcar holds the distinction of being one of two films to ever win 3 of the 4 acting oscars. 

6. Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Winner: Shakespeare In Love
I haven’t seen Shakespeare In Love, but I’m sure it’s not half as brilliant as this unforgettable depiction of World War II.  I mean they gave Spielberg the Best Director Oscar, it’s seems strange that they wouldn’t give him the best picture win.  But I guess I can’t feel to sorry for him, he did after all win another oscar back in ’93 and probably has more money than God.

5. Pulp Fiction
Winner: Forrest Gump
Another prime example of the academy playing it safe instead of giving Best Picture to a far superior and much more important film.  Pulp Fiction is easily the most influential movie of the past 20 years, but some how managed to lose to a movie about “a retard that plays ping pong and gets shot in the ass”, not that Forrest Gump’s a bad film, it just ain’t Pulp Fiction.

4. E. T.: The Extra-Terrestrial
Winner: Gandhi
Another year in which I haven’t seen the Best Picture winner, Ghandi, which seems to be a pretty well-regarded film, but E.T. is easily one of Spielberg best movies as well as one of the best movies of the ’80s.  Though it is a sci-fi film, I don’t think there are really any sci-fi movies that are so heartfelt and brimming with human emotion, despite the fact that it stars an alien from outer space.

3. Apocalypse Now
Winner: Kramer vs. Kramer
Kramer vs. Kramer is certainly a nice little drama, but I don’t think anyone can deny the sheer power of Apocalypse Now.  This is definitely another film that seems just a little too unique to win Best Picture, but it’s hard to make a case against it when it tackles the subject of war with a psychological impact that pretty much no other film has had to date.

2. GoodFellas (1990)/Raging Bull (1980)
Winners: Ordinary People and Dances With Wolves
Just because both of these were so deserving in there respective years, they share the spot for number 2.  Raging Bull is Martin Scorsese’s masterpiece and should’ve won Best Picture, so you’d think they’d give it to him again when he came out with GoodFellas, another equally brilliant film.  But no, they managed to fuck it up again by giving it to another first time actor-turned-director, Kevin Costner.  But at least justice was finally served when Scorsese got his Oscar for Best Director and Best Picture with 2006’s The Departed.

1. Citizen Kane 
Winner: How Green Was My Valley
I don’t think I really need to explain this one, I mean you’d think the movie often regarded as the greatest American film ever made would’ve won Best Picture.  I guess when you look at the fact that Kane wasn’t nearly as applauded when it came out as it is today, it isn’t that surprising that it lost to John Ford’s How Green Was My Valley.  But still, the fact that this landmark film didn’t win Best Picture is just another testament to the fact that many of the films that win best picture won’t be remembered at all, it’s only the truly great ones that people will remember, and that awards don’t mean shit.
Honorable Mentions: Double Indemnity (1944), Fargo (1996), High Noon (1952), Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966), It’s A Wonderful Life (1946)

The Natural

I’m sure everybody’s already heard, but I just wanted to show that Cat Fancy acknowledges this historic reunion. The last few days have been as tense as an episode of Kenan and Kel with all this Braves/Mariners controversy, especially when that one Atlanta newspaper had said Junior had decided to sign with the braves, even though he hadn’t (I hear Junior was not about that). I had actually somewhat given up on the idea of Junior coming back, that was until I got a call from my dad at about 6:00pm today. I can’t believe it, it’s an indescribable feeling. Why I remember the day Griffey left I said to my dad “I’ll never watch baseball again.” That’s how big of a deal Griffey was to me back in the day but now it’s all good. So since then I’ve just been watching FSN as they’ve been airing a “Best of Griffey Night” by airing old M’s games (right now I’m watching the game where Griffey hit 3 home runs including his 250th career homer). That’s all I got to say for now, except that the Braves can suck it… Yeah they’re cool on a scale of about 1 to 1.