Archive for the ‘Movies’ Category

Halloween Flicks

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

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The Birds at Music Box (Guest: Tippi Hedren)

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

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Empire

Saturday, December 10th, 2011

Last night, Andy Warhol’s Empire, an eight hour 1964 film consisting of a single shot of the Empire State Buliding, was projected in its entirety from the Modern Wing of the Art Institute onto the Aon Building in downtown Chicago.

Halloween Scare Flicks

Monday, October 31st, 2011

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A very small selection of the scary films I watched this haunting season.

Instant Netflix Picks – Television Edition

Saturday, April 23rd, 2011

Netflix is a great place to discover/rediscover gems from our television past. To make it more orderly, I have made a Top 5 list of some favorites that I’ve recently watched on Instant Netflix.

Here we go:

5. Kolchak: The Night Stalker (ABC)

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Since I have only watched a couple of episodes so far, I am not yet fully engrossed into this classic supernatural series. Still, it’s nice to finally see it and understand its influential impact on later sci-fi series such as The X-Files. If you’re like me and didn’t catch it the first time around because you weren’t yet born, Kolchak is a newspaper reporter who investigates stories (much to the chagrin of his editor and the local police department) that are often too fantastic for the real world like zombies, werewolves, and vampires. An added bonus is that the series is set in Chicago, so it is fascinating seeing the cityscape in the 70’s.

4. This American Life (Showtime)

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If you like the NPR program, than chances are high that you are going to like the television series. Originally aired on Showtime, This American Life, like the radio program, is hosted by Ira Glass who breaks down the stories into multiple acts. It’s a shame that there are only two seasons to explore. I have only gotten into a few episodes from the first season, but I am looking forward to completing the series soon.

3. Ken Burn’s Jazz (PBS)

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An exhausting, in-depth look at the American art form that is jazz music and the individuals who birthed it. Like Burn’s Baseball series, Jazz also uses its subject as an excuse to actually tell the history of America. For the most part, the series was a fascinating view and truly helped me appreciate areas of jazz such as the big band era that I hadn’t really considered in the past (particularly the genius of Duke Ellington). My only real complaint is that there were a few notable jazz musicians that were left off or were merely a footnote (even jazz giant John Coltrane was given short airtime compared to his contributions to the genre). Apryl convinced me to take on the Jazz series, which was quit a task. The series is presented in 10 parts with a running time of 1140 minutes!

2. Thriller (NBC)

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The original Thriller with host Boris Karloff comes on every Sunday night here in Chicago, and yet I haven’t been enamored with it as much as other series like The Twilight Zone or Alfred Hitchcock, despite the fact that they are produced in very much the same vein. I believe the issue was that I wasn’t catching the right episodes. So, I used this refrence to discover the most worthy episodes. And boy, am I glad that I did. My favorite so far is The Grim Reaper starring William Shatner and written by Robert Bloch (Psycho).

1. The Twilight Zone (CBS)

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Without a doubt, my favorite television series of all time, is now on Instant Netflix! Even though I have seen nearly every episode of this classic hundreds of times, it is still nice revisiting old friends. I am waiting for it to warm up a little outside to watch my all time favorite, Walking Distance, which is set during the summertime. In the meantime, I have caught a few episodes I had forgotten or had never seen such as the non syndicated An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge, which was actually a short French film that the producers bought to end the final season of the series. Unfortunately, Netflix does not have the hour long episodes up yet, so I will have to wait to catch another personal favorite of mine, the rarely seen Miniature (not added to syndication due to legal issues). However, I suppose I could watch it now subtitled in Spanish.

And because it’s hard to fit everyone in, we have…

Honorable Mention: Rainbow Quest

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I had never even heard of this series until Netflix recommended it to me. Rainbow Quest is hosted by folk legend Pete Seeger (who performs throughout the program) and contains interviews and performances with folk singers of the day. Even though I haven’t watched a full episode yet, I had to include it on this list for this appearance from Elizabeth Cotten. Recently, I have fallen in love with Cotten’s playing, and so it was wonderful getting to see her in action. The best part of the interview is how Cotten tells the viewers how she became a maid for Pete Seeger’s parents before being discovered.

End of the Year (Better late than never?)

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

It is hard to believe that we are almost done with the first month of 2011! And, I never even posted my 2010 end of the year list. For shame. Well, here we go:

Top 10 Concerts of 2010:

10. Rhythm Devils at House of Blues
9. Railroad Earth at House of Blues
8. Chicago Symphony Orchestra at Millennium Park
7. LCD Soundsystem at Pitchfork Music Festival
6. Panda Bear at Pitchfork Music Festival
5. Caribou at Millennium Park
4. John Prine at Ravinia (from Prairie Home Companion)
3. Pavement at Pitchfork Music Festvial
2. Furthur at UIC (both shows)
1. Bonnie Prince Billy and the Cairo Gang at Lincoln Hall (early show)

– Being a new Deadhead was the direct result of #10, #9, and #2 being on this list.

Top 10 Favorite Songs of 2010

10. The National – Bloodbuzz Ohio
9. Gil Scott-Heron – New York Is Killing Me
8. Woods – Suffering Season
7. Deerhunter – Helicopter
6. Phosphorescent – It’s Hard To Be Humble (When You’re From Alabama)
5. Beach House – Used to Be
4. MGMT – Someone’s Missing
3. Avey Tare – 3 Umbrellas
2. Sufjan Stevens – I Walked
1. Atlas Sound – Untitled

– While I might have listened to a lot of older music (especially the Dead) last year, I still got around to checking out a few new stuff. Most of it didn’t excite me that much, but the these tracks sure did.

Top 10 Favorite Songs I Discovered In 2010 (Not including the Dead)

10. String Cheese Incident – Land’s End (1997)
9. Jorma Kaukonen – Song for the North Star (1974)
8. Van Dyke Parks – John Jones (1972)
7. Railroad Earth – Storms (2004)
6. Harry Nillsson – Jump Into the Fire (1971)
5. Béla Fleck – Somerset (1986)
4. The Staple Singers – I Had a Dream (1959)
3. Elizabeth Cotten – Shake Sugaree (1967)
2. Moondog – Do Your Thing (1978)
1. Crosby & Nash – Southbound Train (1972)

– Admittedly, I was late in the game on these amazing songs. I suppose better late than never. See a theme going on? Anyway, a few notes here: 10) Yes, I did include a String Cheese Incident song here. Feel free to make fun of me. The truth is that I tried to get into other jam bands but to little avail. SCI was one of the few that kept me interested, especially “Land’s End”. 9) Jorma Kaukonen was always my favorite Jefferson Airplane member. 8) How did I go so long without listening to Van Dyke Parks solo albums? 7) Another “jam band” that I got into was Railroad Earth. Best seen live but their albums hold up quite nicely, too. 6) I am new to Harry Nillsson even though “Everybody’s Talkin'” is one of my favorite songs. I had only know “Jump Into the Fire” as that wonderful song in Goodfellas where Henry is driving around paranoid, looking up at the helicopters in the sky. 5) Have you listened to Béla Fleck’s early albums? They are so lovely, especially “Somerset” which comes off the Inroads album. 4) I love the Staple Singers but had not dived into their early recordings until last year. Boy have I been missing out! 3) I have the Dead to thank for introducing me to Elizabeth Cotten. Easily, one of my favorite guitar players. So unique her style is called “Cotten pickin'” 2) I finally sought out more from Moondog, and I am so grateful that I did. “Do Your Thing” just might be the best song ever recorded. 1) I don’t know what it is about this Crosby and Nash song I love so much but I probably played it more than any other song last year (includes Jerry Garcia on pedal steel).

Top 5 Movies Watched On Netflix Instant Watch (That I Hadn’t Seen Before):

5. Phantasm (1979) – I can’t believe I hadn’t seen this! For years, I skipped it thinking that I had. Big mistake!
4. Bela Fleck: Throw Down Your Heart (2008) – If you are a fan of music, I think you will enjoy this musical adventure.
3. You’re Gonna Miss Me (2005) – The sad tale of whatever happened to Roky Erickson. Very reminiscent of The Devil and Daniel Johnston. Both could make for a fascinating yet depressing double feature.

2. The Cove (2009) – Another depressing documentary but extremely well done and meaningful.
1. The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters (2007) – The biggest surprise of the bunch. I was expected a lighthearted documentary about video game obsession. Instead, I was treated to a morality play between good and evil. Or something like that. Highly recommended.

– We just got Netflix for our Wii a few months ago so expect a few more recommendations in 2011.

Top 5 Places I Visited For Work

5. New Orleans, LA – I didn’t get to spend much time here. Just enough to enjoy an oyster poboy. However, not enough time to get a beignet. How sad.
4. NYC – I worked with Yankees’ manager Joe Girardi at the House of Blues in Times Square. More importantly, I got to hang out with my friend, Brad.
3. State College, PA – I worked here twice last year. Once, we drove there. I never imagined that Pennsylvania was so pretty. The second time we flew, and I had the best crab cakes I have ever had in my life. And I got to meet Joe Peterno.
2. San Diega, CA – It was hard having to leave paradise to return to the harsh, Chicago winter.

1. Dyserville, Iowa – Actually, it was a detour stop on the way home from a shoot with The Weather Channel. Details aside, I got to run the bases at the Field of Dreams baseball field.

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Random food photos from 2010:

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Tasty french toast from Dixie Quicks in Omaha, NE.

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The Super Grouper at Frenchy’s in Tampa, FL

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The Peachy Paterno on campus at Penn State.

A half-eaten Rickwood Dog at the Rickwood Classic in Birmingham, AL.

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My favorite pie! Baked and decorated by Apryl.

The cinnamon buns at Ann Sather.

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Homemade pizza with spinach and goat cheese. Yummy!

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Apryl makes amazing home fries!

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Unbelievable tasting pork chops! The waiter sold me on this when she told me that if she was only allowed on food for the rest of her life, this would be it. Too bad this is off the menu for me at the moment while I’m still practicing vegetarianism.

One of my favorite meals of 2010 was this crab cake in State College, PA.

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Top 5 Favorite Personal Photos of 2010 (in no order)

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Goodbye 2010. Hello 2011!

Halloween Movies

Thursday, November 4th, 2010

Halloween Movies

Here are a few of the movies that I watched during the Halloween season. From the ones that were new to me, my favorites were Les yeux sans visage (Eyes Without a Face), And Soon the Darkness, and Le notti del terrore (Burial Ground: Nights of Terror).

Happy Halloween!!!

Sunday, October 31st, 2010

Don’t have a copy of Night of the Living Dead? Well, then, enjoy this high quality version!

If You Build It…

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

Running the bases at the Field of Dreams Movie Site

RIP Mr. Charles B. Pierce

Monday, March 8th, 2010

Charles B. Pierce, the man who gave us the cinematic gift The Legend of Boggy Creek, passed away over the weekend. My thoughts about all this forthcoming. Until then, here is an article about the filmmaker’s death.