Archive for TV

Barbra!

Streisand Bwy Album 2

A few years ago, Ms Streisand was all over PBS with her show “Barbra Streisand: One Night Only At the Village Vanguard”.  She can still touch people with her voice and it was fun to listen and watch her wrap her tiny audience (the NYC club only seats about 150) around her finger – or vocal chords in this case.  Barbra is still amazing.

I wanted to hear her, so I dug out one of the diva’s old records “The Broadway Album” (yes, “album” – like I said “old”, but now on CD) and again was in awe of her renditions of some great songs from past musicals. I have a weakness for Broadway show tunes, especially those songs from Sondheim, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Gershwin – music from Porgy & Bess, Carousel, West Side Story, The King & I, etc. These songs appeals to me because they always have a story to tell, an emotion to crystallize, a longing to express.

Over the years, these poems set to music have become “standards” – they haven’t gone away, they are being sung someplace, somewhere every day. Whether in person or on CD, Ms Streisand’s versions are beautiful, soaring, romantic, funny, perfect.

Barbra Streisand – a treasure!

 

 

 

“Look At Me” Leo Moon This Weekend!

Astro moon-waning-crescent-lSaturday and Sunday, 10/26 & 10/27, we are treated to a Fiery Leo Moon and all that it involves. The weekend can be full of fun, largesse, a little bit of showing off and lots of regal generosity of spirit. Enjoy any festivities you find yourself in the middle of whether planned or unplanned. The 5th sign of the Zodiac is ruled by the Sun so a natural drift toward theatrics and melodrama could push thru. Take it in stride.

As you’re surrounded by lights and glittering confetti, just remember that it’s not all about you. Share the spotlight.

Have a sparkling weekend!

Aries Sun & Vernal Equinox = Spring, Yay!

On Wednesday, March 20, 2013 the Sun moves into the dynamic first sign of the Tropical Zodiac – fiery Aries. The Sun has transited all 12 Astrology signs and the cycle starts anew. We also celebrate the Vernal Equinox on the same day – 1 degree of Aries. Spring is here with new, fresh chances to bloom!

Fire sign Aries’ impulsive, physical high energy can be used to springboard astrology_chartwheel 2those  ideas and projects that have been percolating all winter. Just to add to the excitement, powerful planets will be visiting Aries for the next few weeks, thereby sparking an extra oomph to this already “snap, crackle and pop” sign.

Planet ruler Mars (the Warrior planet), transiting since 3/12 will remain until 4/20/13. Speed, competition, confrontations lure us. Realize however, we can use any over abundance of aggression for accomplishment, positive action. Do something useful. Will the Love and Beauty planet Venus, in Aries until 4/15, embrace Mars and turn all that passion in another direction – it’s possible. We will certainly be more inclined to choose the “one” and zero in – could be much fun.

Mercury is in Aries too from 4/14 until 5/2/13.  Communication may have more quickness, edge and bite – you’ll be great in debates? Create powerful tweets?  (Just watch the snark.)

And last, but not least, please note that unpredictable, non conformist Uranus is transiting super octane Aries until March 2019 and wildness may occasionally break out. Sudden urges to “act” – out or up – will be hard to resist at times.  However, action with purpose and focus, rather than just because we’re bored is a good way to go. Aries is prone to rushing, risk taking and scattered energies. Think a project through and complete it.  But, don’t forget to have fun. Spring has arrived and everyone can use a little bit of controlled frolicking every once in awhile.

Aries Sun* Spring Equinox 3/20/13:  7:02 AM Eastern / 4:02 AM Pacific

*Gemstone: Garnet * Power Color: Fiery Red * Body Part: Face

FYI – March 20th is also designated as “International Astrology Day”. Always observed on the Equinox, it is a celebration of the ancient art of Astrology.

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“Double, Double Toil and Trouble” Comes to PBS

This week Macbeth comes to a local PBS station near you. I have gushed about this play several times before here – and now I will again.

The filmed version of this Shakespearean play about ambition, greed and madness stars Patrick Stewart (always a theater actor, but, now perhaps best known from “Star Trek: Next Generation”). I saw him in the staged production on Broadway last year and loved it.

The action has been moved out of its original time and into 30’s/40’s war torn Scotland. Most of the original text remains, even with the modern presentation, but it all works anyway. (Towards the end of the play when Macbeth, ready to fight to the death, calls out, “Bring me my armor” – instead of a helmet and metal breast plate, he is fitted with a army issue “flak” jacket and machine gun. By this time, the audience was so wrapped up in it all, it didn’t matter.)

It may not be considered as deep and layered as Shakespeare’s  Hamlet or King Lear, but Macbeth is so much fun. It has 3 witches, 8 ghosts plus, a “moving” forest and a man with a violent birth.  Both Macbeth and his Lady wreak havoc as they totally embrace their baser nature and eventually self destruct. You are grabbed from the first scene and it won’t let you go until that pesky forest starts to inch forward, (I hope I haven’t given too much away) This is drama!

It is a rousing, rambunctious, and riveting tale of misdeeds, murder and mayhem. (Yes, I’m showing off- I love alliteration.)

Macbeth, William Shakespeare: PBS Great Performances (check local listings)

Mad About “Mad Men”

I love the AMC series, “Mad Men”. Its 3rd season has just been released on a 4 disk DVD set and we hardcore fans are hoping for an early 4th season, but will probably have to wait until August to get the next intravenous direct line.

With a great cast led by Jon Hamm and January Jones, the show includes super work by John Slattery, Christina Hendricks, Robert Morse, and Elizabeth Moss.  Everyone is just so present and “there”.   Good actors, but also a good writer, the show’s creator, Matthew Weiner.

“Mad Men” has developed such a cult following that there are watching parties around the country and water cooler catch up is the thing to do on Monday mornings.  The mid 20th century attitudes, clothing and behavior (3 martini lunches, smoking everywhere, personal secretaries that give benefits and “politically incorrect” remarks) are highlighted in the intrigues and escapades of the men and women of Madison Avenue advertising agency “Sterling Cooper”.

The “good old days” weren’t that good for everyone, but, watching “Mad Men” work its way thru the 60’s reminds me of all the options – good and bad- that are available to us now and I realize that “multiple choice” can make the present so much more challenging than the past with its stereotypes.  The old days weren’t that terrific, (although I really liked wearing “summer” gloves to work) but, those times were simpler and perhaps that simplicity, with its mask of family values, is really what nostalgia is all about.

I love this show, the characters have dimensions and layers, the main man, Korean War vet Don Draper, is a philanderer with skills, has tons of secrets and can change personalities at the drop of his fedora. Who will he be next? Will he be radicalized by the 60’s revolution and grow his hair long or will he try to hold on to the traditional, rarified atmosphere of Sterling Cooper?  Can’t wait for the next season of “Mad Men”.

FYI: Seasons 1, 2 and 3 are now all on DVD if you want to catch up = Netflix works too.

How Does He Stay So Thin???

Anthony Bourdain continues to question other chef’s skills, write books and still have time to wander the globe in search of good food on his Emmy winning Travel Channel TV series, “No Reservations”.  Now in his 6th season, our host doesn’t use the word “gourmet” – but, he does intone the word “simple” a lot. Plain simple French bistro eats, simple, fiery Indian street food, plain simple family style Italian food, and so on. He feels that the worst thing to be is a “tourist”. We should risk and explore, meet real people and find the good, simple food the natives eat. (It is sometimes unusual/bizarre – rattlesnake in Texas, assorted crunchy critters in a tasty sauce while in Asia, etc.) His favorite lines “this is sooooo good” ‘this is reeeealllly good”.

He has given up his cigarettes, but he still appears to eat tons of food as he explores the sights.  Bourdain samples several courses, just about always has a dessert and washes it all down with the local brew, show after show – but, he doesn’t seem to gain a pound.  Is it his metabolism or just the plain “simple” food? If it’s the food, I want what he’s having.

I also enjoy visiting the interesting places Chef Bourdain takes us – a food market in Thailand, the sewers of Paris, a Dacha in Russia, the bars of Iceland and even the wilds of New Jersey. Whether you are an intrepid world trekker or an arm chair/couch potato traveler, “No Reservations” can be a fun show.

BTW- Seasons 1 thru 4 are now on DVD

About Those Reality Shows…

Ok, ok, I admit it. I watch them – but, usually only 3:  ” Top Chef”, on Bravo, will return in a few weeks, “Project Runway”  (new season, now on Life Time), has come back to NYC after a season in LA, and “House Hunters”, on HGTV,  which I’ve admitted to in a previous post.

On the surface, it is all fun, fluff stuff – but sometimes I’m not so sure.

Awhile ago, the realities of food and fashion TV shows were discussed in a “New York Magazine” article called: “The Near Fame Experience”. It was *revealed* that these shows often manufacture the “reality”. Noooooooo!

The winners don’t always win and the losers don’t always lose, it’s just a matter of who can make the most of the 8 to 10 weeks of the TV high tension exposure. The participants got an opportunity to compete, display their skills and meet some people who make a good living doing what they themselves want to do – but, now what? What would I do/ who would I be/ what would I have at the end of it all? And, could all this stress be parlayed into a job – really?  Fun, vicarious questions.

Whether on the small screen or in their living rooms, you get the feeling that these contestants behave/react with the same underlying motivations that they would on any challenging day. People always tell you who they are eventually, but these people do it while strapped to microphones. Not always pretty.

In either show, it is so interesting to see: Who will be the “sabotager” or the “sabatogee”? Who’s got the “poor me” story? Who’s got the “ya gotta be strong to be standing at the end” routine? Who self destructs? Who can ramp it up? Pres. Nixon’s Attorney General, and the husband of Martha Mitchell, said prior to the Watergate conflagration, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going”. That can be impressive to watch.

Yes, I enjoy “Top Chef” & “Project Runway”. Besides being fascinated and entertained with what contestants can do with some sprigs of rosemary and buffalo meat, or some pipe cleaners and a garbage bag – there can also be life lessons. In reality, *we* are truly amazing.

BTW – My favorite version of the “what were you thinking?” question:  judge to aspiring “Top Chef”- “Did you taste this before you sent it out?”.

Damages* Still Jaded, Still Great

The 3rd season of “Damages”  begins tonight, Monday January 25. I’m sure there will be a brand new scenario involving a new set of evil machinations – I will love it.

This TV show, on the FX channel, will again star Glenn Close, as tough lawyer Patty Hewes and it will probably be as terrific and full of plot twists as its previos seasons. The ambitious, powerful characters that are part of Patty’s world are always so smart, so devious, so manipulative, so dishonest but, all their questionable deeds are done with a half smile. It sort of undercuts your faith in your fellowman. (Who said, ” If you’re looking for loyalty, get a dog” ?)

However, meanness and intrigue can be addictive and entertaining – its like watching a bunch of snakes in a barrel. Like seeing an accident and not being able to turn away, no matter how gory.

“Damages” may not be “family”  TV, but, it is always fascinating TV.

“Passing Strange” – Spike Lee and PBS

Yes, I love PBS.  They seem to keep the art of the “documentary” alive with their programs: American Masters, Great Performances, American Experience etc.

This week, the filmed version of the play, “Passing Strange” is coming to the Great Performances series.  Spike Lee documented the last 3 days of the musical’s Broadway run (it won the 2008 Tony for Best Book) originally for HBO, but it will be released in DVD next week and also be shown on PBS.

I saw the play 2 years ago and loved it.  It is clever, funny and has great music.  The terrific band, whose members, along with the few actors, tell the story of a black young man, “Stew”, trying to look for the “real” by moving from middle class L.A, where he feels he doesn’t fit in and everything is a fraud, to Amsterdam and Germany.

In Europe, he is more “American”, than he was in California. To gain friends and acceptance in the avant garde scene, his new girl friend is only impressed with the oppressed, he “passes” as the stereotype of a ghetto youth and writes songs about the “struggle”. After doing this for a few years, he wonders what if the only thing real is your “art” and “reality” is phony?

He eventually returns to America to pursue his art and just be himself. He is amazed that the direction of his life was decided by the decisions he made as a teenager.

Serious questions, but told with humor and music. Hard to describe, a different type of musical, but, very entertaining.

“Passing Strange”, Book and lyrics by Stew, Music by Stew and Heidi Roderwald

Directed by Spike Lee

Sam Cooke * PBS

Coming to a local Public Television Station near you this week is a new documentary about Sam Cooke (January 1931 – December 1964).

The contribution of the legendary singer/song writer will be explored in the PBS “American Masters” series “Sam Cooke: Crossing Over”. It includes some performance scenes and interviews with family and musicians to illuminate the short career that lifted our spirits with  traditional Gospel music, but also gave us songs like “You Send Me” and the classic “A Change is Gonna Come” (rumor has it that he wrote this in 1963 after hearing Dylan’s  “Blowin’ in the Wind”.)

“Sam Cooke: Crossing Over” – Amazing talent, not forgotten.