Monday, December 30, 2013

Highlights from 2013

Some of my highlights from 2013 include meeting some Hall of Famers, basketball coaches, and notable Kentucky sports figures in general.

Wade Boggs:

Dick Vitale:

Joe Morgan:

John Calipari:

Joe B. Hall:

Matthew Mitchell:

Larry Vaught:

Oscar Combs:

Friday, December 27, 2013

Paging Landmark Theatres...Louisville needs a REAL art house theater

I've reached the point of utter discontent with the Baxter Avenue Filmworks movie theater.  On it's website, it states that they offer first-run, foreign, and independent films.  However, I depend on them to be playing indie movies as they are the closest thing to an art house theater that can be found in Louisville, Kentucky.

Unfortunately for the city of Louisville, an art house they are not.  This is where I appreciate a theater chain like Landmark Theatres.  They actually give a damn about the movie-going public.  I prefer to see indie films in theaters, not at home on DVD.  But I don't have a choice.  I live in the East End and it's not as easy to get to Baxter as it is to get to Cinemark Tinseltown, just two lights away from my house.

If you look at Landmark's offerings in a market like Indianapolis (NFL, NBA), they still have movies like Nebraska playing.  But in Louisville, Nebraska opened on December 13th at the Baxter and on December 25th, it was no longer playing in town.  I had planned to see it on December 26th, only to be disappointed that the movie, directed by Alexander Payne and starring Bruce Dern, was no longer playing.

It's sad that a film, likely to be nominated for Best Picture, Actor, Supporting Actress, and maybe Supporting Actor, is only playing in Louisville for 11 days.  It makes zero sense.

Of the five nominees in the Independent Spirit Awards, you could only catch four of the five in Louisville because Short Term 12 never opened here.  Amongst other notables, the city of Louisville is not a large enough market to have a film like Inside Llewyn Davis yet.

The city of Louisville deserves a real art house theater because Baxter just isn't up to being the art house theater that the city of Louisville needs and that, my friends, is a damn shame.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Book Review: Paddle Your Own Canoe by Nick Offerman

Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Dutton Adult (October 1, 2013)

This fall, Nick Offerman released his memoir in the form of Paddle Your Own Canoe: One Man's Fundamentals for Delicious Living.  You know Offerman best as Ron Swanson from the NBC sitcom, Parks and Recreation.

While Offerman has played comedic roles in the past several years, this is not a straight-out laugh-out-loud book.  Far from it, actually, even though he tells it in his trademark comic wit.  Offerman does mix in some amusing anecdotes, opinionated lessons and rants but he would tell you that he is "your average meat, potatoes, and corn-fed human male, with a propensity for smart-assery, who has managed to make a rewarding vocation out of, essentially, making funny faces and falling down."

The character of Swanson, we learn, is loosely based on himself.  Offerman goes into details on what it takes to grow the Swanson mustache.

Offerman didn't become a hit overnight.  He grew up in Minooka, Illinois, on a farm and made his way to the University of Illinois, where his acting education became the foundation for the guy we know today.

From his days in Chicago, he tells us what it means to pull a "Schwimmer."  What is pulling a Schwimmer?  It's going west to Los Angeles for the TV and Film roles.  Had he not pulled a Schwimmer, he never would have met his wife, Megan Mullally.

Each chapter of the book tells a story of his life while being accompanied by his opinions and fundamental advice.

Readers will most certainly be delighted by the book and maybe stay away from their phones for a while.

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Put THANKS back in Thanksgiving!

Maybe it's time to put the THANKS back in Thankgiving and be grateful to spend time with family eating a meal and watching TV/movies rather than trample/shoot/stab people while shopping and fighting over a parking spot.

Be thankful for what you have and hug your loved ones. There should be no reason at all to spend the bulk of Thanksgiving in cold weather by camping outside of stores. That's not the right way to spend the holiday.

There's no reason for camping out on Wednesday night and skip Thursday's holiday at all.  And for what?  A doorbuster deal?!?  Insane.

I spent my Thursday with family.  On our way to what has become a Thanksgiving Day movie, I glanced over at the Best Buy across from Mall St. Matthews.  There were tents set up before 12:30 PM.  It was not warm outside either.  After the movie ended and we drove by around 3:30 PM, the line was even longer and stretching around the corner.

Listen, I love a good bargain and all but it's not worth it to wait in line on a holiday that was meant for giving thanks.

To those idiots that call for Thanksgiving to be moved into October so that the holiday season could be extended, I say no.  The Jewish holidays are reserved for September and October.  Sometime, like in 2011, they spend most of it in October.  Game 162 of the 2011 season coincided with Erev Rosh HaShanah so most of my October was spent observing the Jewish holidays and not watching my beloved St. Louis Cardinals play in the postseason.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Mr. Sulu on Thanksgiving Shopping

George Takei posted this on Facebook:
When stores like Wal-Mart move their Black Friday sales to Thanksgiving Day, they have truly forgotten the purpose of the holiday--and cynically ask their employees to leave their loved ones, too. 
Stay with your families on Thursday, friends.  Cook and eat together.  Watch a football game or a family movie.  Call your relatives.  Don't waste your precious day off standing in lines or fighting crowds in malls.
I could not agree more with the Star Trek actor.  If you are going to shop on Thursday, shop online!

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Book Review: Difficult Men

Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Penguin Press HC, The (June 27, 2013)

Released this summer,  Difficult Men: Behind the Scenes of a Creative Revolution: From The Sopranos and The Wire to Mad Men and Breaking Bad comes from the genius mind of Brett Martin.

What this book really looks at are all the antiheroes that have appeared on television over the last decade or so.  All the hit dramas of the 2000s and 2010s can trace their way back to Hill Street Blues, a series that aired on a broadcast network.

Known for airing movies or syndicated reruns, networks like Showtime, HBO, and FX all decided that they wanted original programming.  Soon, AMC joined them.

Executives were not focuses on creating likeable characters or content that was considered to be safe and appropriate.  Because of this, the path for the third Golden Age of Television was soon paved.  Series focused on issues such as life and death, love and sexuality, addiction, race, violence, and existential boredom in such a way that reflected on the American Dream during the start of the 21st century.

This kind of television was not a substitute for film--although many film actors and actresses started taking TV roles rather than film roles--but rather a new kind of art form, especially with the serialized episodes that stretched out over 10-13 episodes rather than 22 episodes.

What Martin does here is combine deep reporting with cultural analysis and historical context as he recounts the dramatic rise of an art form that is on par with the "auteur" films released in the 1970s.  In doing so, he interviews David Chase, James Gandolfini, Matthew Weiner, Jon Hamm, David Milch, and Alan Ball.  This is in addition to so many other writers, directors, etc. as he takes us behind the scenes of our favorite programs and delivers never-before-heard stories--both good and bad--as he tells us how these shows were made what they are.

A fun fact: FX originally ordered a pilot of Breaking Bad but things fell through.  In addition, HBO, Showtime, and TNT all passed on the show that became a hit series starring Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Wes Anderson Collection

Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Harry N. Abrams; First Edition edition (October 8, 2013)

Award-winning film critic Matt Zoller Seitz brings us a book-lenth conversation with writer-director Wes Anderson.  There is no mistaking how influential Anderson has been over the past two decades of American cinema.

Anderson is best known for the he visual artistry, inimitable tone, and idiosyncratic characterizations that make his films, well, "Andersonian."  Over the last two decades, we have seen the release of Bottle Rocket, Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, The Darjeeling Limited, Fantastic Mr. Fox, and Moonrise Kingdom.

What Seitz and Anderson have done with this book is bring us the first in-depth overview of Anderson's filmography and guide readers through his life and career.  No coffee table book is complete without unpublished photos, artwork, and ephemera to compliment the book-long interview.

The interviews and pictures are woven together in a way that captures the spirit of Anderson's films: melancholy and playful, wise and childish—and thoroughly original.

Authors take advantage of 50th anniversary of JFK's passing

There have been a slew of books released recently in advance of the 50th anniversary of the passing of President John F. Kennedy.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Still Foolin 'Em by Billy Crystal

Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (September 10, 2013)

Actor-writer-director-comedian Billy Crystal has come to terms with growing older with the release of his laugh-out-loud memoir, Still Foolin' Em: Where I've Been, Where I'm Going, and Where the Hell Are My Keys?

Crystal was a long-time host of the Oscars but also starred in several films, a list of which would drag on for several paragraphs.

As he reached his 65th birthday, the comedian decides to look back on his life and career.  He also looks at the absurdities that come with aging, including growing conservative in politics.  When it comes to aging, nothing appears to be off-limits--including insomnia, memory loss, leaving dinners with half your meal on your shirt, sleeping at the movies, etc.  The comedian even offers advice to his fellow baby boomers.

Aside from Crystal's reflections on losing family members, this was a laugh-out-loud blast to read.  The comedian uses his trademark blend of wit and heart.  He takes us on a road traveled from Long Beach, Long Island, to starting out performing stand-up in the West Village, playing an openly gay character on Soap, and a short stint at Saturday Night Live.

Crystal offers a behind-the-scenes account of the making of When Harry Met Sally..., City Slickers, Mr. Saturday Night, and Analyze This.  He reflects on his nine times hosting the Oscars as well as his being a lifetime fan of the New York Yankees (and playing one day during spring training).

There's also his love affair with Sophia Loren, which she didn't know about, and his friendships with Mickey Mantle and Muhammad Ali.

Billy Crystal is an American icon and he gives it all in this poignant and funny memoir.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

An Open Letter to the Courier-Journal

On Thursday, I awoke to a disturbing sight.  The Courier-Journal changed designs again.  Unlike their last revamp, this was worse.

I don't even read the Features section any more.  All the pieces of the Buzz are already 3 days old by the time that they are printed--which is why I was forced to go elsewhere for all my TV and film news.  The CJ no longer reports when news media are leaving town for other stations--a shame.  I shouldn't have to depend on Facebook or Twitter to find out that someone is leaving a news station.

But back to the point of this open letter.  This new format?  It fucking sucks.  It's a piece of shit.

By combining the front page with the Metro section and placing an emphasis on LOCAL news, the front page is now nothing but a glorified Metro section--leaving readers to turn to online and cable networks to find out what is going on in the nation and the world.

I don't watch the cable networks except for MLB Network.  I can't even watch ESPN anymore without screaming at the TV because I'm tired of all their commentators screaming at me.

I don't like being told to check the CJ's mobile website for news.  I don't like reading news on my phone but it in this digital era, I don't have a choice.  Aside from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, which I read the sports articles online anyway, the only things I read on my phone are, um, TV and film coverage.

What are the people with dumbphones supposed to do?  Borrow a friend's phone to read the news?

What about those of us who are Shomer Shabbas and don't watch TV or go online for 25 hours from Friday through Saturday?  How are we supposed to get our news?  Facebook?  Twitter?  Twitter only goes so far and I only check so many Facebook filters after Shabbas or a 3-day holiday weekend.

Having a Sunday or Monday column in the Metro used to be prestigious.  Now?  A column on A3 or A5 isn't the same.  Not by a long shot.

This isn't the answer.  Bring back the old format.  It wasn't the best in the world (lack of quality TV/Film coverage that isn't 3 days old by the time it gets printed) but at least national and world news got its due.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Book Review: The American Jewish Story Through Cinema

Hardcover: 264 pages
Publisher: University of Texas Press (April 15, 2013)

Better late to offer my review than never!  Eric Goldman takes a look back through time in The American Jewish Story through Cinema.  It's vastly different from Larry Epstein's American Jewish Films, which seeks to find a Jewish identity in the movies.

Cinema is just like books in that it is a medium of telling a story.  Through viewing films on the big screen, we gain an understanding of the social, political, and cultural realities of the Jews in America.  It's important to understand these realities.  In an industry dominated by Jewish moguls, there were those that fought against the making of Crossfire and Gentleman's Agreement, both released in 1947, for the fear that it would increase anti-Semitic attacks.  Leave it to Darryl  F. Zanuck, a non-Jewish mogul, to produce the latter of the two films.

It's because of the Jewish filmmakers and the evolving nature of the American Jewish condition that we see just how Jews have been reflected on the screen over the years.

Goldman's analyzed a select group of mainstream films from the era of The Jazz Singer all the way through Everything is Illuminated to get an understanding of the American Jewish experience during the 20th century.

It wasn't until later years when Jewish filmmakers were comfortable with depicting an American Jew or Israel on the big screen.  Eventually, the Shoah would have a large effect on the American Jewish identity.  Nowadays, American  Jewish screenwriters, directors, and producers have shown that they are comfortable with their heritage in the number of movies that display Jewish protagonists, experiences, and challenges.

In particular, Goldman examines The Jazz Singer, Gentleman's Agreement, Crossfire, The Young Lions, The Way We Were, The Prince of Tides, Avalon, Liberty Heights, and Everything is Illuminated.

These films play a large part in American Jewish identity, where we have been, and what we ought to do better when it comes to remembering.
Like the haggadah, the traditional “telling” of the story of the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt that is read at the Passover seder, cinema offers a valuable text from which to gain an understanding of the social, political, and cultural realities of Jews in America. In an industry strongly influenced by Jewish filmmakers who made and continue to make the decisions as to which films are produced, the complex and evolving nature of the American Jewish condition has had considerable impact on American cinema and, in particular, on how Jews are reflected on the screen. This groundbreaking study analyzes select mainstream films from the beginning of the sound era to today to provide an understanding of the American Jewish experience over the last century. - See more at:
Like the haggadah, the traditional “telling” of the story of the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt that is read at the Passover seder, cinema offers a valuable text from which to gain an understanding of the social, political, and cultural realities of Jews in America. In an industry strongly influenced by Jewish filmmakers who made and continue to make the decisions as to which films are produced, the complex and evolving nature of the American Jewish condition has had considerable impact on American cinema and, in particular, on how Jews are reflected on the screen. This groundbreaking study analyzes select mainstream films from the beginning of the sound era to today to provide an understanding of the American Jewish experience over the last century.
In the first half of the twentieth century, Hollywood’s movie moguls, most of whom were Jewish, shied away from asserting a Jewish image on the screen for fear that they might be too closely identified with that representation. Over the next two decades, Jewish moviemakers became more comfortable with the concept of a Jewish hero and with an overpowered, yet heroic, Israel. In time, the Holocaust assumed center stage as the single event with the greatest effect on American Jewish identity. Recently, as American Jewish screenwriters, directors, and producers have become increasingly comfortable with their heritage, we are seeing an unprecedented number of movies that spotlight Jewish protagonists, experiences, and challenges.
- See more at:
Like the haggadah, the traditional “telling” of the story of the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt that is read at the Passover seder, cinema offers a valuable text from which to gain an understanding of the social, political, and cultural realities of Jews in America. In an industry strongly influenced by Jewish filmmakers who made and continue to make the decisions as to which films are produced, the complex and evolving nature of the American Jewish condition has had considerable impact on American cinema and, in particular, on how Jews are reflected on the screen. This groundbreaking study analyzes select mainstream films from the beginning of the sound era to today to provide an understanding of the American Jewish experience over the last century.
In the first half of the twentieth century, Hollywood’s movie moguls, most of whom were Jewish, shied away from asserting a Jewish image on the screen for fear that they might be too closely identified with that representation. Over the next two decades, Jewish moviemakers became more comfortable with the concept of a Jewish hero and with an overpowered, yet heroic, Israel. In time, the Holocaust assumed center stage as the single event with the greatest effect on American Jewish identity. Recently, as American Jewish screenwriters, directors, and producers have become increasingly comfortable with their heritage, we are seeing an unprecedented number of movies that spotlight Jewish protagonists, experiences, and challenges.
- See more at:

Today in Jewish History: Tishrei 14

This was in the daily AISH email that I subscribe to.  The daily emails, not emailed on chag or Shabbas, include things that happen in Jewish history.  Today is the 14th of Tishrei, which happens to be the yahrzeit of Louis D. Brandeis

Today in Jewish History:
Tishrei 14 marks the death of Louis Brandeis (1856-1941), one of the most respected Supreme Court Justices in United States history. Brandeis was the first Jew to serve on the Supreme Court, a post he held for 23 years. His "Brandeis Brief" became the model for future Supreme Court presentations. He was known as "attorney for the people" who championed many social and economic reforms. Brandeis was also a leader of the American Zionist movement, heading the Provisional Executive Committee for Zionist Affairs during World War I. Today, the Univ. of Louisville Law School, as well as Brandeis University in Massachusetts, bears his name.

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Book Review: Dear Girls Above Me

Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Three Rivers Press (June 4, 2013)

Dear Girls Above Me comes from the creative mind of Charlie McDowell, a comedy writer and filmmaker.

As the book starts, McDowell has just been dumped by his girlfriend.  He's battling his landlord.  If it could not be any worse, he can hear everything being said by the two girls living above his apartment.  They talk about everything from Pilates to the Real Housewives.

After one of the girls complains that a guy named Chad has not responded to their texts, he takes to twitter after being inspired by a cable bill of all things.  McDowell starts to document all the unintentionally hilarious observations on his Twitter feed, which begins to amass an amount of followers.

In the process of sharing the girls' ditzy midadventures, Charlie learns about himself in the process.  What's more is that some of what they have to say comes in handy when he makes an attempt to reconnect with an old crush from school.

As the girls sign up for 8 AM pilates classes, Charlie is forced into a battle of the showers since they share the same water heater.

The book shares many of the one-sided conversations in which Charlie has drafted sarcastic responses to what hears through the ceiling.  His responses combined with the comments made upstairs are hilarious.

The twitter feed inspired CBS to order a sitcom pilot back in 2010.  Meanwhile Charlie is directing Elisabeth Moss, Mark Duplass, and Ted Danson in his directorial debut, The One I Love.

Charlie's book is laugh-out-loud funny.  Coming from someone that's heard the video games being played next door, I cam empathize with him.  Go buy and read this book.  You won't regret it!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Book Review: Sleepless in Hollywood

Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster; First Edition edition (June 11, 2013)

 Lynda Obst has been a producer in Hollywood for 30 years now.  Her first credit came as an associate producer for Flashdance.  Her most recent credits are as an executive producer for two TV Land sitcoms, Hot in Cleveland and The Soul Man.

In Sleepless in Hollywood, Obst combines her experiences with the insights from many contacts in the industry that she worked under or with.  She looks at how Hollywood evolved from the Old Abnormal to the New Abnormal...because Hollywood was never truly normal to begin with.

The question that Obst asks is why are studios making fewer movies and, when they do make them, why are they almost always sequels or big budgets.

Until James Cameron made Titanic, and later Avatar, the studios never really focused on the foreign markets.  Now that they do, the foreign markets want the 3D movies and action films.  They want the films that are considered tentpoles...the franchises that are based on comics, etc.  An American comedy, which appeals to American tastes in humor, is less likely to do well overseas than a 3D movie that features a lot of explosions!

Obst writes that China and Russia are the biggest foreign markets so the studio decisions must appeal to them.  Pre-awareness, Obst writes, is what helps to market a film overseas.  If foreign audiences are not familiar, they won't bother seeing it.  Because of the pre-awareness factor, it's harder to get original ideas on the big screen unless it comes from the classics or indie branch of the studio.  The studios focus on the tentpoles, franchises, reboots, and sequels because they are easier to market and for filmgoers like myself, it is a real shame.

Essentially, movies these days must have pre-awareness, be able to sell overseas, and generate a sequel or franchise.

Because of the attention on the big budget films, Obst writes about the battle that the indie movies face.  They have to get financing and attention from somewhere.  This is one venue where Video on Demand is helping make films money but it also means lesser time spent on a theatrical run.

When it comes to getting films made, Obst writes:
James Cameron can make anything he wants, ditto Christopher Nolan, and now Ben Affleck and George Clooney, as producer and director.  The same is true of many others whose mere participation in a movie makes it marketable tent-pole.

Obst also looks at how many of the feature film writers are turning their eyes to writing for television.  Her brother was the agent that packaged Homeland to Showtime.  Shows like Homeland, Breaking Bad, Mad Men, and The Wire are some of the best series that have aired in years.  While movies have dumbed down, television has grown smarter.

This book is one that Obst has written with affection, regret, hope, and humor.  Because of her unique position as a producer at Twentieth Century Fox and Paramount, she has access to explore how Hollywood has changed in the past 30 years.

With Syria, President Obama could learn from FDR

As we see what is going on in Syria, President Barack Obama could learn something from the experiences of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

From a New York Times book review (by David Oshinsky) of Richard Breitman and Allan J. Lichtman's FDR and the Jews:
In their conclusion, the authors rightly note the squeamishness of America’s modern presidents in dealing with genocide. Woodrow Wilson, a true idealist, virtually ignored Turkey’s slaughter of a million or more Armenians, while Jimmy Carter, a human rights crusader, did nothing to prevent Pol Pot from exterminating 20 percent of Cambodia’s population. The Clinton administration took several years to respond militarily to the “ethnic cleansing” of Muslims in Bosnia, which required only air power, not soldiers on the ground, and it never confronted the mass killings in Rwanda. More recently, Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama employed little more than words to condemn the atrocities in Darfur. Historically speaking, Roosevelt comes off rather well.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Book Review: The Stench of Honolulu by Jack Handey

Hardcover: 240 pages
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (July 16, 2013)

Jack Handey recently wrote the hilarious fiction novel, The Stench of Honolulu.  Handey takes everything that tourists love about Hawaiian islands and turns it into a wretched piece of space on the map.

The Hawaii that filmgoers saw in the Oscar-nominated film, The Descendants, or the action drama series, Hawaii 5-0, is not the Hawaii depicted in Handey's novel.  It's the same Hawaii but through the warped mind of Handey.

The novel is a rather quick read due to Handey's signature short-form absurdist style.  He takes us on a far-flung adventure that is full of twists and turns when you least expect them.   The characters are unforgettable, too.

Don goes on a quest to find the Golden Monkey in Hawaii.  What happens there is all the hilarity that ensues.  Page after page will be turned quickly and you'll be finished in no time!

Handey's first novel leaves readers wanting more from the longtime humorist known for his "Deep Thoughts" on Saturday Night Live.

Readers of Lunatics by Alan Zweibel and Dave Barry will find this book just as funny.

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Errors and Fouls: Inside Baseball's Ninety-Nine Most Popular Myths

Hardcover: 296 pages
Publisher: Potomac Books Inc. (May 2013)

In Errors and Fouls: Inside Baseball's Ninety-Nine Most Popular Myths, Peter Handrinos has compiled 99 popular baseball myths and using articles, books, and other research, he attempts to dispel such myths as just that:  myths.

Handrinos looks at all aspects of baseball, including whether football has overtaken baseball as America's pastime.  It hasn't.  Handrinos does a good job at debunking that one.  To those that argue ratings, just look at how many networks are offered these days and when football games are on compared to baseball games.  Baseball games have to battle with the closing weeks of the primetime television season in April and May, not to mention when it resumes in September and October.  Baseball has more fans walk through the gates than football does.  Most football games air on Sundays in the afternoon with nothing really trying to take away attention.

The book looks at whether steroids act as performance enhancers.  This is one that is big in the news right now given the Biogenesis scandal.  Handrinos looks to Jose Canseco, Ken Caminiti, and Jason Giambi for this one.  Not to mention several pages alone on Barry Bonds.

Handrinos looks at modern game tactics, playoff formats, and baseball economics.  Except in the case of Jeffrey Loria and his Miami Marlins, he examines whether cities have been ripped off with the building of new stadiums.  Baseball economics includes revenue sharing, competitive balance, and free agency, etc.

In writing about 99 myths, Handrinos uses contrarian analysis and witty writing in order to make his point come across.

I can go on and on talking about such myths and whether they are true or not but then I'd be writing a book longer than his!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Book Review: The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.

Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (July 16, 2013)

The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. is a debut novel from Adelle Waldman.  She tells the story of Nate Piven, a rising star in Brooklyn's literary scene.  She also tells the story from his point of view.

Piven's had his share of magazine assignments and quite a few women.  But as he develops a serious relationship, he is forced to consider what he truly wants in life.

Waldman goes into the psyche of modern men.  At the heart, this book is an inside look at what a guy thinks about women, sex, and love.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Book Review: Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted

Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster; 1St Edition edition (May 7, 2013)

Jennifer K. Armstrong takes us behind the scenes in her recently published book, Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted: And all the Brilliant Minds Who Made The Mary Tyler Moore Show a Classic.  She goes behind the scenes with all the key players involved with the series, whether it's the creators, writers, or the talent.

MTM is one of the best sitcoms of all time.  All 7 seasons were nominated for an Emmy.  It has been off the air for 35 years and is still considered to be beloved and admired by many.

Without MTM, there's no Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, or Lena Dunham.

But the series, as Armstrong tells us, was not going to be about a woman coming off of a breakup.  Originally, she was going to be divorced but CBS said no.

Anything that could have gone wrong with the taping of the pilot did.  The air-conditioning did not work.  The jokes did not work.  The audience wasn't laughing.  Supported by producer Grant Tinker, producers James L. Brooks and Allan Burns persevered, and the writers helped pave the way.  The talented cast of Mary Tyler Moore, Valerie Harper, Cloris Leachman, Betty White, Gavin MacLeod, Ed Asner, Ted Knight, Georgia Engel brought the show to new heights.

When few shows employed many female comedy writers, Burns and Brooks were willing to hire them, most of whom wrote scripts based on their real-life experiences.  Many would go on to receive Emmy nominations and later to other sitcoms.

In the epilogue, Armstrong looks back at what happened to everyone after the ground-breaking sitcom went off the air.

What Armstrong writes is a must-read and must-own for anyone that is a fan of MTM, sitcoms, or comedy in general.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

65th Annual Primetime Emmy Award Nominations

The 65th Annual Primetime Emmy Award Nominations were announced this morning.

The 2014 U.S. Senate Race for Kentucky

The 2014 U.S. Senate race in Kentucky is going to be huge.  It's a given.  The question right now is who will be running in the Democratic Party primary?

The race will start to play out over the next few weeks.

Joe Gerth did some digging at the Courier Journal.  In short, here is how the race looks right now.


Alison Lundergan Grimes
Ed Marksberry

Not Running
Steve Beshear
Gill Holland
Adam Edelen--he would support Grimes for Senate
Ben Chandler
Jack Conway
Dan Mongiardo
John Y. Brown III
Ashley Judd
Jerry Abramson
Matthew Barzun

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Book Review: Gettysburg: The Last Invasion

Hardcover: 656 pages
Publisher: Knopf (May 14, 2013)

Released last May and due out in paperback in Feburary, the acclaimed Civil War historian, Allen C. Guelzo, has given us a brilliant new history of the three-day battle of Gettysburg.  Of all accounts that have been told, Guelzo's is the most intimate and richly readable account by far.

Guelzo's book draws us into the heat, smoke, and grime of those three July days in 1863.  We're there fighting alongside soldiers.  Over the nearly 700 pages, Guelzo depicts the personalities and circumstances that gave us one of the greatest, and famous, battles in not only the Civil War but in the history of mankind.

There have been several full-length histories of what transpired at Gettysburg over the last 100 years but none have been able to do what Guelzo does.  He looks at how the indidvidual soldier experienced the battle.  He also looks at how politics played a role in the decisions made by the military.  He looks at the battle in terms of the context of the 19th Century practices.

Through his writing, we can imagine the lay of the land, where the fences and stone walls are, the clouds of gunpowder that hurt both movement and vision, to name a few.

Over 150 years after the battle of Gettysburg, it very much comes to life.

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Book Review: Out of Range

Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: William Morrow (June 4, 2013)

Out of Range comes from Without a Trace creator Hank Steinberg.  Therefore, it should come as no surprise that, as soon as the characters are introduced, there is a mysterious disappearance.

Not only is this book a fast-paced action thriller, it is original but also feels as if it is taken right out of Homeland.  Steinberg comes from the screenwriting world of television and in his debut novel, he writes a hit.  He writes a thriller that feels as if it could also be a movie as well--which, it should come as no surprise that Paramount Studios owns the rights for the film.

The book starts 6 years ago in Andijan, Uzbekistan where there is a protest for democracy similar to what we have seen in the Middle East over the last few years.  The day ends with a massacre and both Charlie and Julie Davis decide to leave and would settle in Los Angeles.  Charlie is an idealistic war journalist.  He put himself in harm's way and on that day, he decides to bring up is son in a better environment.

Cut to present day and Julie Davis is taking her two young children to Disneyland after coming back from visiting her sister in New York.  She mysteriously vanishes after pulling off the interstate on the way back.

Julie has secrets that she is keeping from her husband, Charlie.  Does she still have feelings for her ex-boyfriend from college?  Is she missing the life she lived before they moved to California?

Steinberg combines the domestic suspense that one expects in a book from Harlan Coben and David Balacci with the international intrigue found in the Jason Bourne novels.  What we get is an entertaining story full of suspense, secrets, mystery, and marriage.  There are twists and turns along the way that will make this a breakout hit of the summer.

The Disneyland aspect is inspired by true events as he guided his own wife back from Disneyland and she had to pull over to calm their son down.  Steinberg takes the extreme.

Steinberg admits that in writing the book, he was "trying to combine the domestic set-up that you will find in a great Coben novel with the expansiveness and morally ambiguous, gray universe that you find in [John] Le Carre's work."

Next up for Steinberg is a sequel to Out of Range.  One that will stay in the States.

Thursday, July 04, 2013

John Adams on Independence Day

"The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to G-d Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more. You will think me transported with Enthusiasm but I am not. I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. Yet through all the Gloom I can see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory. I can see that the End is more than worth all the Means. And that Posterity will tryumph in that Days Transaction, even altho We should rue it, which I trust in G-d We shall not."

-John Adams to his wife, Abigail, in a letter sent on July 3, 1776 about the signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 2, 1776.

The Declaration of Independence

The Declaration of Independence of the Thirteen Colonies
In CONGRESS, July 4, 1776

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

Independence Photos

G-d Bless the USA

G-d Bless the U.S.A
by Lee Greenwood

If tomorrow all the things were gone
I'd worked for all my life,
And I had to start again
with just my children and my wife,
I'd thank my lucky stars
to be living here today,
'Cause the flag still stands for freedom
and they can't take that away.

I'm proud to be an American
where at least I know I'm free,
And I won't forget the men who died
who gave that right to me,
And I gladly stand up next to you
and defend her still today,
'Cause there ain't no doubt I love this land
G-d Bless the U.S.A.

From the lakes of Minnesota
to the hills of Tennessee,
Across the plains of Texas
from sea to shining sea.
From Detroit down to Houston
and New York to L.A.,
There's pride in every American heart
and it's time we stand and say:

I'm proud to be an American
where at least I know I'm free,
And I won't forget the men who died
who gave that right to me,
And I gladly stand up next to you
and defend her still today,
'Cause there ain't no doubt I love this land
G-d Bless the U.S.A.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Book Review: The Heist

Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Bantam; First Edition edition (June 18, 2013)

It's a good bet to say that I am not in Janet Evanovich's target audience for her usual books.  But this is not one of her usual books as she co-writes it with Lee Goldberg, author of the Monk and Diagnosis: Murder books.

There are very few books that I can sit down and read in a full day.  The last such book was Mockingjay in the summer of 2011.  However, yesterday, I started to read this one and I could not stop turning the page.  The pacing was so great that I was finished reading a tad bit after 9 PM.

Evanovich and Goldberg have created the start of what should be a thrilling but comedic series.  Kate O'Hare is a take-charge FBI agent and former Navy SEAL.  Nicholas Fox is an international con artist that she has pursued for the last 5 years.

What happens when O'Hare finally catches him?  He gets arrested and escapes his captors.  This is where the hilarity starts to ensue.  Her bosses at the FBI are somehow convinced that it would be a great idea to team her up with the con man to help bring down other wanted the criminals.  It comes with a catch.  She can't allow him to get caught or she goes down with him.

The action is non-stop and they take us to exotic locations as Mount Athos in Greece and the islands of Indonesia.  The dialogue is fast-paced and there are plenty of Toblerone chocholate bars involved.  There's also some sexual tension between the two of them.

Rich Hedenfels writes about how the two of them wrote The Heist.  It's funny that the article mentions the book being set up like a TV pilot because I felt the same way while reading it.  I've got a feeling that the Fox and O'Hare series will be around for some time to come.

Book Review: American Jewish Films: The Search for Identity

Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: McFarland (April 22, 2013)

Larry Epstein, the author of The Haunted Smile, which tells the history of Jewish comedians in America, pens a book on searching for the Jewish identity in films.  As funny as it may sound, I had never heard of some of these movies that he writes about.

I did learn something new in the course of reading the book, the original founder of the Fox Film Corporation, William Fox, was a member of the tribe.  Due to bankruptcy, he had to sell the company in the late 1930s but of course, it lives on.  Darryl Zanuck's 20th Century Films would later aquire Fox and thus became 20th Century Fox.

In writing this book, Epstein explores various themes relating to Judaism.

In the introduction, Epstein discusses why American Jews were attracted to the movie industry be it as audience members, actors, or even the folks behind the scenes at the studios.

One of the big things that Epstein looks at is Jewish identity verses an American identity or a broader human identity.  This is one way to look at how the Jewish characters in film have evolved over time.

One cannot have a discussion about Jewish identity in films without talking about the Lower East Side or films relating to Jewish history.  Some of the topics that Epstein explores here are assimilation and acculturation, interfaith relations, Israel, marriage and family relations, the role of women, Jews and American politics, and anti-Semitism including the Holocaust.

In the end though, one cannot really define what the Jewish identity in film is but that doesn't make this book not worth its while.  There are a countless number of films mentioned.  Some might not be in print but the ones that are--there is a good bet that Netflix will have them as rentals.

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Book Review: Bunker Hill: A City, a Siege, a Revolution

Hardcover: 416 pages
Publisher: Viking Adult; 1 edition (April 30, 2013)

Due out in paperback this April,  Nathaniel Philbrick revisits the Battle of Bunker Hill--which was really at Breed's Hill.  Philbrick does not lack passion or insight either.  He really knows his craft here as he reconstructs the landscape in a mesmerizing narrative of the robust, messy, and blistering real origins of America.

We all know the names and events involved in the American Revolution: The Founding Fathers, Declaration of Independence, and George Washington's decade-long leadership.  What isn't told in most of the books and such on the American Revolution is just how merchants, farmers, sailers, and artisans were forced to take up arms against the Crown.

Travel back in time to a pre-Revolutionary Boston.  The city of 15,000 inhabitants are packed on an island of 1.2 square miles.  Tension quickly builds up to the climax of the Battle of Bunker Hill in June 1775.  It was the first major battle of the American Revolution.

When the battle went down, John Adams, Sam Adams, and John Hancock were not even close to the scene of events.  The big name here is Joseph Warren, a 33-year-old physician.  He was leading the events on the ground at the time.  It was Warren who told Paul Revere and William Dawes to sound the alarm that the British were going to Concord.

Philbrick tracks the 18 months that transpired between the Boston Tea Party and Bunker Hill.

Warner Brothers and Ben Affleck have optioned the film rights.  But a story this epic can't simply be told in two hours.  It deserves a mini-series treatment similar to that of John Adams.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Oklahoma Senators voted against Sandy relief package

It's one thing to offer thoughts and prayers after a natural disaster but apparently, that's all null and void when one doesn't follow that up with taking action.  Oklahoma was hit by a devastating tornado yesterday but their senators, Coburn and Inhofe, could care less about all those people that had their livelihood destroyed when Sandy hit the coast in October seeing as how they voted against the Sandy relief aid.

I'm sick and tired of hypocrites in Washington that vote against federal aid for other disasters but when it comes to their own home state or district, they want the money.  See Ted Cruz and Bill Flores for the Texas fertilizer plant.

Sorry to bring politics into what should be a time for mourning and cleanup but it's our system that is broken in Washington.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Book Review: TV on Strike

Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Syracuse University Press (January 31, 2013)

It's hard to believe that it has been just over 5 years since the end of the WGA strike against the AMPTP.  What Cynthia Littleton has done in looking back at the events that transpired from November 2007 to February 2008 is nothing short of amazing.

It's fascinating to see just how much has changed in the environment since that happened from a new media perspective alone. Both Netflix and Amazon have really changed the game for content distribution. Heavily serialized shows make syndicated reruns a harder sell then just a simple sitcom or crime drama.  If you look at what the networks have to offer, there are more serialized programs now than ever before.

Also, reruns aren't what they used to be. A lot of this has to do with what kind of ratings they get. Sitcom reruns fare better than that have a serial drama. Just look at a few weeks ago--a rerun of Big Bang Theory did better than the first half hour of American Idol. That said, networks feel that they don't get as much from advertisers during reruns so during the summers--which used to be chock full of reruns--they air unscripted programming or other original programming. Until a few years ago, there hadn't been much offered in terms of scripted programming in the summer on the broadcast networks as far as a first-run episode goes. Then ABC aired Rookie Blue and they now have a summer show to compete with the cable networks.

Hulu started a month after the strike ended and even then, because of the way that the guild contracts were written, anything that is viewed online in the first 6 weeks or so of an episode airing is considered as "promotional." Nobody but the distributor (network) sees a dime of profits off of those episodes being viewed. Sure, it is a legal way to watch shows as opposed to piracy but now I feel just as guilty since none of the people that worked hard are getting paid! With Hulu Plus, they monetized Hulu to where they are able to make money from consumers.

I also learned a new phrase from reading the book: satellite show. Most of these shows air on Friday nights as they have to plug holes on the schedule but otherwise, the network doesn't make much off of these shows. Other times, they are shows that follow an anchor program and would be the sitcom placed between the 8 PM and 9 PM sitcom. Some of these satellite shows are the news magazines or news shows that find their way into a prime time slot.

In the epilogue of the book, Littleton examines whether the strike was worth it in the long term by showing the numbers earned in residuals from new media.  But given how Netflix and Amazon have changed the game with instant streaming compared to the classic reruns airing in syndication, it was bound to have happened sooner rather than later.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

CW announces 2013-14 TV schedule

8/7c Hart of Dixie
9 pm Beauty and the Beast

9 pm Supernatural

8 pm Arrow

8 pm The Vampire Diaries
9 pm REIGN

8 pm The Carrie Diaries
9 pm America’s Next Top Model

CBS releases 2013-14 TV schedule

Some series are on the move in the recently released schedule from CBS.

8:30-9:00 PM  WE ARE MEN (N)
9:00-9:30 PM  2 BROKE GIRLS
9:30-10:00 PM MOM (N)
10:00-11:00 PM HOSTAGES (N)

8:00-9:00 PM  NCIS

8:00-9:00 PM  SURVIVOR

8:30-9:00 PM  THE MILLERS (N)
9:00-9:30 PM  THE CRAZY ONES (N)
9:30-10:00 PM TWO AND A HALF MEN (NT)
10:00-11:00 PM ELEMENTARY

9:00-10:00 PM HAWAII FIVE-0 (NT)
10:00-11:00 PM BLUE BLOODS

10:00-11:00 PM 48 HOURS

7:00-8:00 PM  60 MINUTES
9:00-10:00 PM THE GOOD WIFE
10:00-11:00 PM THE MENTALIST

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

ABC announces 2013-14 TV Schedule

In announcing their schedule for this fall's TV season, ABC pits Marvel's Agents of SHIELD against ratings juggernaut NCIS.  They will be battling for the same audience, no doubt.

8:00 p.m.        “Dancing with the Stars”
10:00 p.m.      “Castle”

8:00 p.m.        “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”
9:00 p.m.        “The Goldbergs”
9:30 p.m.        “Trophy Wife”
10:00 p.m.      “Lucky 7”

8:00 p.m.        “The Middle”
8:30 p.m.        “Back in the Game”
9:00 p.m.        “Modern Family”
9:30 p.m.        “Super Fun Night”
10:00 p.m.      “Nashville”

8:00 p.m.        “Once Upon a Time in Wonderland”
9:00 p.m.        “Grey’s Anatomy”
10:00 p.m.      “Scandal”

8:00 p.m.        “Last Man Standing”
8:30 p.m.        “The Neighbors”
9:00 p.m.        “Shark Tank”
10:00 p.m.      “20/20”

8:00 p.m.        “Saturday Night College Football”

7:00 p.m.        “America’s Funniest Home Videos”
8:00 p.m.        “Once Upon a Time”
9:00 p.m.        “Revenge”
10:00 p.m.      “Betrayal”

Monday, May 13, 2013

FOX unveils 2013-14 TV Schedule

FOX schedule for the fall below.

8-9 PM – Bones (fall) /Almost Human (new; late fall)
9-10 PM – Sleepy Hollow (new; fall) / The Following (midseason)

8-8:30 PM – Dads (new)
8:30-9 PM – Brooklyn Nine-Nine (new)
9-9:30 PM – New Girl

9:30-10 PMThe Mindy Project

8-10 PM – The X Factor (fall) /American Idol (midseason)

8-9 PM – The X Factor Results (fall) / American Idol Results (midseason)
9-10 PM – Glee (fall) / Rake (new; midseason)

8-9 PM – Junior Masterchef (new; fall)
9-10 PM – Sleepy Hollow encores (fall)

8-9 PM – Bones (late fall)
9-9:30 PM – Raising Hope (late fall)
9:30-10 PM – Enlisted (new; late fall)

7-10:30 PM – Fox Sports Saturday

11 PM-12:30 AM – Animation Domination

7-7:30 PM – NFL Game (fall)
7-8 PM - The OT (fall)
8-8:30 PM – The Simpsons

8:30-9 PM - Bob’s Burgers
9-9:30 PM - Family Guy

9:30-10 PM – American Dad

Sunday, May 12, 2013

NBC Announces 2013-14 TV Schedule

(New programs in UPPER CASE; all times ET)

8-10 p.m. – “The Voice”
10-11 p.m. – “THE BLACKLIST”

8-9 p.m. – “The Biggest Loser” (New Day and Time)
9-10 p.m. – “The Voice” (New time)
10-11 p.m. – “Chicago Fire” (New Day and Time)

8-9 p.m. – “Revolution” (New Day and Time)
9-10 p.m. – ”Law & Order: SVU”
10-11 p.m. – “IRONSIDE”

8-8:30 p.m. – “Parks and Recreation” (New time)
8:30-9 p.m. – “WELCOME TO THE FAMILY”
9-9:30 p.m. – “SEAN SAVES THE WORLD”
9:30-10 p.m. – “THE MICHAEL J. FOX SHOW”
10-11 p.m. – “Parenthood” (New Day and Time)

8-9 p.m. – “Dateline NBC”
9-10 p.m. – “Grimm”
10-11 p.m. – “DRACULA”

Encore programming

7:00-8:15 p.m. – “Football Night in America”
8:15-11:30 p.m. – “NBC Sunday Night Football”

(New programs in UPPER CASE; all times ET)

8-10 p.m. – “The Voice”
10-11 p.m. – “THE BLACKLIST”

8-9 p.m. – “The Voice”
9-9:30 p.m. – “ABOUT A BOY”
9:30-10 p.m. – “THE FAMILY GUIDE”
10-11 p.m. – “Chicago Fire”

8-9 p.m. – “Revolution”
9-10 p.m. – ”Law & Order: SVU”
10-11 p.m. – “IRONSIDE”

8-8:30 p.m. – “Parks and Recreation”
8:30-9 p.m. – “WELCOME TO THE FAMILY”
9-9:30 p.m. – “SEAN SAVES THE WORLD”
9:30-10 p.m. – “THE MICHAEL J. FOX SHOW”
10-11 p.m. – “Parenthood”

8-9 p.m. – “Dateline NBC”
9-10 p.m. – “Grimm”
10-11 p.m. – “CROSSBONES”

8-10 p.m. – Encore and specials programming
10-11 p.m. – “Saturday Night Live” (Encore)

7-8 p.m. – “Dateline NBC”
9-10 p.m. – “BELIEVE”
10-11 p.m. – “CRISIS”

Book Review: Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan

Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Crown Archetype (May 7, 2013)

Another week, another comic memoir.  Since April started, there have been memoirs released by Kelly Oxford, Jen Kirkman, and Marc Maron, to name a few.  Last week brought the release of Dad is Fat by comedian Jim Gaffigan.

The comedian, his wife, and five kids live in a small 2-bedroom apartment in a five-story walk up.  I don't know how they do it but more power to them.

What Gaffigan does with his memoir is share his observations on fatherhood, revealing the joys and horror of raising five young children in New York City, and how to cope when you're outnumbered at home.

We are lucky that Gaffigan's family life has made for comic material for us.  It's not like he hasn't shared his wit with us before as he shares it on Twitter all the time.  He could have written a book about what it was like to have grown up in Indiana but he didn't.

Some of the topics in the book include his going from a loner to a family man, food, becoming vice president of his household, big families in general, the narcissist's guide to babies and toddlers, how children have terrible taste, plus other subjects like babysitters, critiquing children's literature, survival, and bedtime.

Overall, what we have from Gaffigan is a charming and irresistibly candid take on the ups and downs of parenting, which isn't what one usually expects from a comedian.

Book Review: Attempting Normal by Marc Maron

Hardcover: 240 pages
Publisher: Spiegel & Grau (April 30, 2013)

Marc Maron is a comedian best known for his interview podcast WTF with Marc Maron.  Outside of his former radio show on the late Air America, the comedian had never really hit the bigtime.  Then WTF happened and the rest, as they say, is history.

The publication of Maron's comic memoir just so happens to have coincided with the debut of Maron on IFC.  What he has in his memoir is a collection of stories that are explosively, painfully, and addictively funny...even when they shouldn't be.  Maron the comedian is a disarmingly honest, intensely smart, brutally open comic who just happens to find wisdom in the strangest of places.

It was when Maron had nothing that he turned to his garage and started WTF.

But most of us can relate with Maron.  He's just trying to do better without making a larger mess than he already has.  As with other comic memoirs, Maron is open about his life, including failed relationships, his cats, flying planes in his mind, etc.

Maron has a struggle with relationships from day to day and that's documented in his book.

If you want a better of idea of who Maron is, this book is for you.

Sunday, May 05, 2013


If you are interested in advertising on The Kentucky Democrat, please feel free to get in touch with me.

Thank you.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Book Review: Everything Is Perfect When You're A Liar by Kelly Oxford

Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: It Books (April 2, 2013)

Kelly Oxford is a Twitter superstar.  Now she has a book.

Described by Jimmy Kimmel as someone that is "very consistently and solidly hilarious," Oxford is an online superstar.

This book is a moderately perfected version of her life story.  Her life has been paved with uncommon adventures and exploits.  How many 6 year olds try to adapt Star Wars for the stage and get their friends to audition?  Not that many, I suppose, but Oxford did it.  It wasn't successful but she tried.

This book is written as if it were a series of short stories.  It's not written as a narrative memoir book would be.

At 12 years old, she was washing the dishes at a restaurant.  Here in the United States, it would be a violation of Child Labor Laws but I guess that things are much different with our friends in the north.

Her first trip to Hollywood was spent trying to find Leonardo Dicaprio before Titanic opened to a massive amount of money at the box office.  That didn't work out too well for her.

In the fall of 2011, NBC hired her to write a pilot, which wasn't picked up to series.  A year ago, Warner Brothers bought a screenplay that she wrote.

Oxford isn't your typical comedy star.  Known mainly for her writing and not performing, she found her voice through chat rooms, blogs, and on Twitter.  Stand-up comedians hone their craft in comedy clubs.  Oxford uses social media to hone her craft.

Book Review: I Can Barely Take Care of Myself by Jen Kirkman

Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Original edition (April 16, 2013)

Comedy writer Jen Kirkman brings us her biographical comic memoir, which mostly focuses on her decision to be child-free by choice.  Kirkman is annoyed at how many people ask her when she is having children and of course, she's frustrated by the question.  I don't blame her.

What she wants to do with her body his her decision.  If she chooses to not bear children, that's her right so stop asking her the question!  She isn't afraid to talk about it.  She shares personal stories of times she has been insulted by the decision not to have at the comedy club bathroom in Texas where she was called selfish by someone in attendance.

There was the time she went to Best Buy to buy a gift for a friend and the attendant, named Bren of all names, did not know what The Golden Girls were.  I'm sorry but in an era where Betty White is all the range, there is no excuse to not know who exactly The Golden Girls are.

There was the time when she was vacationing at a Hawaiian resort and was laying out at an adult only pool only to deal with all these non-adults swimming in said pool when there were 5 other options around for children.

Kirkman is a writer for E!'s Chelsea Lately, the late night comedy show starring Chelsea Handler, and is a regular comedian on the nightly roundtable.  However, instead of writing in Handler's comedic voice, she writes this book in her own.

She defends decisions she has made her entire life--from opting to live in her childhood bedroom as she broke in to comedy to joining the writing staff for Chelsea Handler.  She shares her story in a book that is full of humor, wisdom, and laugh out loud moments.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

We Killed: The Rise of Women in American Comedy

Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Sarah Crichton Books (October 16, 2012)

 Women are funny so please stop trying to argue that they are not.  If you look at the past several years on both the small and big screen and still argue that they aren't funny, well I don't know what to say.

The tone of Yael Kohen's book is similar to that of Live from New York in that it is a oral history that focuses on the rise of women in American comedy.

The early days started with Phyllis Diller and Joan Rivers performing in clubs while Elaine May was making her way to stardom with Mike Nichols.

Mary Tyler Moore and Carol Burnett had sitcoms that still live on today.  Moore's sitcom is the predecessor, in various ways, to Tina Fey's 30 Rock.

Then there was Elayne Boosler in the 1970s.  She refused to be treated as a feminist.  She paved the way for female comics with her observational act.

In the 1980s, there was a standup comedy boom.  This led to Roseanne and Ellen getting their eventual sitcoms.  Unfortunately, several clubs still limited their bills to the maximum of one woman a night.  A shame.

It was the 1990s that changed things, and maybe for the better when Janeane Garofalo helped start the alternative comedy movement.  Soon, Margaret Cho would be involved.

The late 90s and 2000s were a boom for women in comedy, especially for SNL.  I don't even have to list the names as we all know them.  Molly Shannon, Cheri Oteri, Ana Gastayer, Tina Fey, Rachel Dratch, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, Kristen Wiig, etc.

The Upright Citizens Brigade not only gave us Amy Poehler but their theater in New York has given us rising stars as Aubrey Plaza, Ellie Kemper, and Casey Wilson.

Chelsea Handler is probably the biggest late night female star right now with her show on E! and she has done a tremendous job in hiring female writers.

Female comics can be attractive, as Sarah Silverman is.  Silverman is one of the hottest names out there in comedy and she's also one of the raunchiest, too.

If you appreciate comedy as I do, you will enjoy this book.  I know that I did!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Quote of the Day

“I have been thinking today about my children and grandchildren who will never know the days of innocence I did,That you could go anywhere to any public event and not worry about an explosive device being detonated….that is the price of freedom and that is the world in which we live today.”
--Tom Brokaw, NBC News, April 15, 2013


Monday, April 15, 2013

Pray for Boston

Please keep the victims of today's Boston Marathon Massacre in your thoughts and prayers.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Steven Spielberg: A Retrospective

Hardcover: 280 pages
Publisher: Sterling (October 2, 2012)

Steven Spielberg is one of the greatest living filmmakers of a generation.  He came up at the same time as George Lucas, Francis Ford Coppola, and Martin Scorsese.

Richard Schickel, a noted film critic, goes back to interviews he has had with Spielberg since 2005.  The excerpts from the interviews along with Schickel's commentary accompany the 400 or so photographs that are spread throughout the book.

It should be noted that this retrospective on Spielberg does not focus on his career as a producer but only the films that he has directed.

Are there films that he feels could have been better?  Yes.  Is he going to disown them?  No.  That's not the kind of filmmaker that he is.

Spielberg has never written a memoir and until now, he has never cooperated with someone wishing to write a book.  This is as close to a memoir as we will likely get for the time being.  If this is what we are left with, it does the job just fine.

Book Review: I Remember Me by Carl Reiner

Hardcover: 328 pages
Publisher: AuthorHouse (January 18, 2013)

Carl Reiner is one of the comic geniuses of our time.  Before he went on to create The Dick Van Dyke Show, Reiner was a member of the cast and writing staff of both Sid Caesar shows: Your Show of Shows and Caesar's Hour.

What we have in I Remember Me is a comic memoir.  In only so many pages does Reiner reminisce on his 90 years of "love and laughter, highs and lows, mistakes and triumphs."  Be it as it may, Reiner tells us these stories with his warm heart and the touch of nostalgia that pops in every now and then.

Reiner's memory is still very sharp.  He's able to draw from decades of family, friends, and the fun that he has had in his career.  He uses the same combo of playful jest and modest himulity that has given him the love and respect from his fans for decades now.

Reiner writes of attending shul growing up following his bar mitzvah so that other people were able to daven.  He's not necessarily Orthodox but he attended shul regularly while growing up.

Most importantly, Reiner remembers those incredible moments with his beloved Estelle, who was eight years older than him and would never have fallen in love had she met him while he was growing up in the Bronx.

Monday, February 25, 2013

85th Annual Academy Award (Oscars) Winners

The following were the winners at the 85th annual Academy Awards when the Oscar ceremonies were held February 24, 2013.
Best Picture: Argo
Best Actor Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
Best Actress: Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook
Best Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained
Best Supporting Actress: Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables
Best Director: Ang Lee, Life of Pi
Best Original Screenplay: Django Unchained, Quentin Tarantino
Best Adapted Screenplay: Argo, Chris Terrio
Best Animated Feature: Brave
Best Cinematography: Life of Pi, Claudio Miranda
Best Costume Design: Anna Karenina, Jacqueline Durran
Best Documentary Feature: Searching for Sugar Man
Best Documentary Short: Inocente
Best Film Editing: Argo, William Goldenberg
Best Foreign Language Film: Amour, Austria
Best Makeup and Hairstyling: Les Misérables, Lisa Westcott and Julie Dartnell
Best Original Score: Life of Pi, Mychael Danna
Best Original Song: “Skyfall” from Skyfall, music and lyric by Adele Adkins and Paul Epworth
Best Production Design: Lincoln, Production Design: Rick Carter; Set Decoration: Jim Erickson
Best Animated Short: Paperman
Best Live Action Short: Curfew
Best Sound Editing: (TIE) Zero Dark Thirty, Paul N.J. Ottosson; Skyfall, Per Hallberg and Karen Baker Landers
Best Sound Mixing: Les Misérables, Andy Nelson, Mark Paterson and Simon Hayes
Best Visual Effects: Life of Pi, Bill Westenhofer, Guillaume Rocheron, Erik-Jan De Boer and Donald R. Elliott

Friday, February 22, 2013

85th Annual Oscar Predictions

The following are my predictions for the 85th annual Academy Awards when the Oscar ceremonies are held February 24th 2013.

Best Picture:  Argo

Best Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln

Best Actress:  Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook

Best Supporting Actor: Robert De Niro, Silver Linings Playbook

Best Supporting Actress:  Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables

Best Director: Ang Lee, Life of Pi

Best Original Screenplay:  Zero Dark Thirty, Mark Boal

Best Adapted Screenplay:  Argo, Chris Terrio

Best Animated Feature:  Wreck-It Ralph

Best Cinematography:  Life of Pi, Claudio Miranda

Best Costume Design:  Anna Karenina, Jacqueline Durran

Best Documentary Feature: Searching for Sugar Man

Best Documentary Short:  Inocente

Best Film Editing:  Argo, William Goldenberg

Best Foreign Language Film:  Amour, Austria

Best Makeup and Hairstyling:  Les Misérables, Lisa Westcott and Julie Dartnell

Best Original Score:  Life of Pi, Mychael Danna

Best Original Song:  “Skyfall” from Skyfall, music and lyric by Adele Adkins and Paul Epworth

Best Production Design:  Life of Pi, Production Design: David Gropman; Set Decoration: Anna Pinnock

Best Animated Short:  Paperman

Best Live Action Short:  Curfew

Best Sound Editing:  Life of Pi, Eugene Gearty and Philip Stockton

Best Sound Mixing:  Les Misérables, Andy Nelson, Mark Paterson and Simon Hayes

Best Visual Effects:  Life of Pi, Bill Westenhofer, Guillaume Rocheron, Erik-Jan De Boer and Donald R. Elliott

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Recipes for Disaster by Tess Rafferty

Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books (October 30, 2012)

I never thought that I could read a humorous book about food but that is what Tess Rafferty has written.  While trying to pursue a career in the entertainment industry, Rafferty started hosting dinner parties for friends.

The former writer for The Soup has recounted many of her dinner parties over the course of almost 300 pages including some of the worst kitchen disasters she has experienced.  Rafferty even sprinkles in tips and recipes throughout the book.

She tells her story with heart, honesty, and obviously, humor.  She unveils the lengths that she went through to please her house guests and there is not a person out there who has not experienced a similar story.

The next time you think about having a dinner party for friends, read Rafferty's book.  It's as if you are right there with her.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

19th Annual Screen Actors Guild Award Winners

EW's Oscar writer Anthony Breznican stresses the following in his recap of tonight's SAG Awards:
We have another month for Academy voters to figure out whether amends have already been made for Affleck’s snub, or if it still galvanizes them to check off Argo on those final ballots.
THEATRICAL MOTION PICTURES Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture: ARGO (Warner Bros. Pictures)
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role: DANIEL DAY-LEWIS / Abraham Lincoln - "LINCOLN” (Touchstone Pictures)
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role: JENNIFER LAWRENCE / Tiffany - “SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK” (The Weinstein Company)
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role: TOMMY LEE JONES / Thaddeus Stevens - “LINCOLN” (Touchstone Pictures)
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role: ANNE HATHAWAY / Fantine - “LES MISÉRABLES” (Universal Pictures)

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries: KEVIN COSTNER / “Devil Anse” Hatfield - “HATFIELDS & McCOYS” (History)
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries: JULIANNE MOORE / Sarah Palin - “GAME CHANGE” (HBO)
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series: BRYAN CRANSTON / Walter White - “BREAKING BAD” (AMC)
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series: CLAIRE DANES / Carrie Mathison - “HOMELAND” (Showtime)
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series: ALEC BALDWIN / Jack Donaghy - “30 ROCK” (NBC)
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series: TINA FEY / Liz Lemon - “30 ROCK” (NBC)
Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series: DOWNTON ABBEY (PBS) Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series: 30 ROCK (NBC)


Outstanding Action Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Motion Picture: SKYFALL (Columbia Pictures)
Outstanding Action Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Television Series: GAME OF THRONES (HBO)

Monday, January 21, 2013

Barack Obama's 2nd Inaugural Address

The full text of Barack Obama's 2nd Inaugural Address as prepared for delivery is below.

Vice President Biden, Mr. Chief Justice, Members of the United States Congress, distinguished guests, and fellow citizens:

Each time we gather to inaugurate a president, we bear witness to the enduring strength of our Constitution.  We affirm the promise of our democracy.  We recall that what binds this nation together is not the colors of our skin or the tenets of our faith or the origins of our names.  What makes us exceptional - what makes us American - is our allegiance to an idea, articulated in a declaration made more than two centuries ago:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness."

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Book Review: The Fifth Assassin by Brad Meltzer

Hardcover: 448 pages
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing; First Edition edition (January 15, 2013)

Beecher White is back!  Picking up two months after the events of The Inner Circle, we are in for another successful page-turning conspiracy thriller from Meltzer.

Just when you think you have it all figured out, Meltzer takes us on a twisty turn as he gets us to the conclusion of the novel.

This book moves at a fast pace, full of the classic Meltzer wit and some history facts thrown in as well.

In The Fifth Assassin, Beecher White is facing a serial killer that is out there recreating four presidential assassinations.

Beecher discovers the truth that all four assassins were working together.  He seeks to find out their purpose, who they are working for, and why they are trying to kill Orson Wallace.  In doing so, he's going to have an in-face meeting with the fifth assassin.

It's clear that Meltzer knows his presidential history and that he did his research on the assassins.  His research really shows in the page-turning action.

Brad is one of those authors that really knows what he is doing and he churns out at least one novel every other year.  I can't wait to see where Beecher White goes in the next piece of work.

From 7th grade onto maybe 2008, John Grisham was my favorite author.  Brad Meltzer has passed him up in my book.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Manti Te'o Scandal

What the hell?!?

That is probably what everybody was thinking when Deadspin broke the scandal late Wednesday afternoon saying that Manti Teo's girlfriend didn't die of cancer because she never existed in the first place.  The same one that Pete Thamel wrote about in the 2012 season.

Notre Dame later responded through a university spokesperson rather than via the Athletic Department.  Later, Te'o himself issued a statement to the press.

As is the case with several in the sports media world, I'm not buying it.  Not for one minute.  Not when the university claims to have known since the end of December.  Not when Te'o was still answering questions about it during the BCS media days on January 3rd.
Q.  Manti, how have the football‑related commotion and excitement of the past year helped you get through the turmoil you've faced with your grandmother and girlfriend?  And how have the quiet periods been for you, given you more time to reflect?  Is that a good thing or double edged?
MANTI TE'O:  I think whenever you're in football, it takes your mind off a lot of things.  You know, this team is very special to me, and the guys on it have always been there for me, through the good times and the bad times.  I rarely have a quiet time to myself because I always have somebody calling me, asking, do you want to go to the movies.  Coach is always calling me asking me, "Are you okay?  Do you need anything?"  I have three roommates, Zeke, Carlo and Robby Toma, who are always yelling at each other, who's going to play Call of Duty.  I'm rarely by myself, and that's how I like it.  I'm always around my guys, always around my family.
He could have said that he didn't have a girlfriend but he didn't.

Reagan Mauia, an Arizona Cardinals fullback, tells ESPN that he met her.  At this point nobody even knows what the hell is going on right now.

Jack Swarbrick, the athletic director for Notre Dame, is willing to go as far as covering for any of the football team yet nobody at Notre Dame has even answered for the death of Lizzy Seeberg.  That's the real tragedy.  Players assaulted her and she was forced to remain silent because they were football players at Notre Dame.  Anywhere else, those players get kicked off the team.  Not at Notre Dame.  They are backed up by the coaches and administration.

Meanwhile, Pete Thamel goes to Alabama and Turkey to investigate Kentucky players but when it comes to a football player's girlfriend, he never even makes an attempt to meet the family.  This Slate article is a MUST READ!

At a Wednesday night press conference, the university claims that it was Te'o who was duped.  I disagree.  It was the American media and America that was punk'd in the process.