Tag Archives: Mike Tyson

T.G.I.F. – Ten More Anniversaries

 

It’s not that I wanted to repeat last week’s model of ten famous birthdays that fall on the same day, but damned if February 26th wasn’t a key date for a lot of entertainers and artists who made an impact upon me. Just more credence for the MDC Theory (Memorial Day Conceptions) I proposed last Friday. (I determined that my birth was the result of a St. Patrick’s Day party that got a little crazy.) 

And it’s not all birthdays either – February 26th is also the day we lost a couple of favorites, including one of the best and most influential comedians of all time. So here are ten anniversaries, in chronological order; celebrate their contributions today. 

Seven birthdays...

Tex Avery, 1908 – One of the top animators, voice actors and cartoon directors of all time. He could be a legend just for creating Daffy Duck but in fact was involved in hundreds of cartoons and characters for Walter Lantz studios and the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies series, whose ribald humor I appreciate more as an adult than I did as a child. 

Jackie Gleason, 1916 – Maybe we just take some people for granted, especially when they make it look effortless. Gleason was a television pioneer; his eponymous variety show and The Honeymooners are seminal influences in the medium (the Honeymooners concept even spawning a more long-running animated version in The Flinstones). But his turns in The Hustler and Requiem For A Heavyweight show that he was no slouch as a dramatic actor either. 

Video: The Great One 

Fats Domino, 1928 – The congenial, portly piano player continues to inspire blues players and rockers alike with his trademark style. “Blueberry Hill”, “Ain’t That A Shame”, “I’m Walkin” – the list is endless. I’m ashamed to admit that it took me until the 80’s to realize that Fats was why Chubby Checker chose his stage name. We almost lost the legend in Hurricane Katrina but he’s 82 today. 

Godfrey Cambridge, 1933 – Cambridge was a very intelligent man; he earned a full scholarship to medical school but dropped out to pursue an entertainment career.  He was a staple on talk shows in the 60’s and 70’s with a smooth and smart style like fellow comic Bill Cosby (but talked about black and white issues with a more sarcastic edge). He died early; sadly his albums are out of print and he is known to many only for his acting in films such as Watermelon Man and Cotton Comes To Harlem

Johnny Cash, 1932 – Nothing much need be said about The Man In Black that you don’t already know, his recorded legacy is essential listening. But you might not have seen that the last album in the American series has just been released entitled Ain’t No Grave

Listen to sample clips from Ain’t No Grave 

Chuck Wepner, 1939 – The Bayonne Bleeder. Watching Muhammad Ali fight in his prime was like watching Mike Tyson; odds were the challenger wasn’t going to last long. Wepner was given no chance by the pundits but took everything Ali threw at him for fifteen rounds, even flattening the champ in the ninth round. This fight inspired Sylvester Stallone to create Rocky

Mitch Ryder, 1945 – I’ve certainly written plenty about my fondness for Mitch Ryder, and although the link shows you just how prolific he continues to be, it’s not the same as hearing the music. The newest album (misnamed on the AMG entry) is Detroit Ain’t Dead Yet, his first American release since 1983, and an autobiography is scheduled for release this Summer. 

...and three fond farewells.

We remember those lost on this day, including… 

Buddy Miles, 2008 – Most famous for his work with Jimi Hendrix in Band of Gypsys and his hit “Them Changes”, Miles was also a player with Wilson Pickett, a member of The Electric Flag, and leader of his own group The Buddy Miles Express, featuring a hot-shot guitarist named Jim McCarty

Video: Buddy Miles 

Lawrence Tierney, 2002 – Quintessential tough guy for whom it was no act; his real-life boozing and brawling cost him an A-list career. Quentin Tarantino, for all his quirks, has a knack for putting an actor past his prime in a plum role and Tierney will forever be remembered for his turn in Reservoir Dogs as the curmudgeonly caper mastermind Joe Cabot

Bill Hicks, 1994 – I’ve expounded upon Bill Hicks at great length; he’s one of the most important comics in the history of the art form. Although his death at 33 meant an abrupt end to his career, he left us an incredible body of work and continues to inspire comedians to hold a mirror up to society and tell the truth

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Golden Globes: Four Words

Well, compared to last year, I was a little more on target. Still there were some surprises along with the close races that just tipped the other way. After John Lithgow and Michael C. Hall won, I figured Dexter was a shoo-in for Best Drama, but you can’t stop Mad Men with a bullet. And as the nominees were read, I was reminded again how many serious omissions there were.

And I’ve really had my fill of talk about the “greatest crew” and the “best job” and “loving to come to work every day” to “a true collaborative effort”. At least do what Chloe Sevigny did and name some names (she thanked one of her PAs for running lines with her every day). But there’s something about seeing Mike Tyson on stage in a tuxedo being celebrated for his role in the highest-grossing comedy film of all time that puts things into perspective.

So I think a lot of my post-Golden Globes impressions can be summed up in four words

Not enough Ricky Gervais. He had some great moments, whether tossing zingers at upcoming presenters or pimping his own DVDs, but it seemed like there were often ten or fifteen minute gaps between appearances. Maybe it just seemed that long because (as usual) actors reading scripted gags from cue cards are painful to watch, especially when they’ve been downing champagne at a furious pace. But it probably didn’t matter that he didn’t get more podium time because…

They didn’t get him. “Looking at all the faces here reminds me of some of the great work that’s been done this year – by cosmetic surgeons.”…”I’ve had a penis reduction. Just got the one now. And it is very tiny. But so are my hands. So when I’m holding it, it looks pretty big. I wish I was doing that now instead of this, to be honest.”…(After visibly drinking beer from a pint glass hidden in the podium) “I like a drink as much as the next man. Unless the next man is Mel Gibson.”…comedy gold! But when the cameras panned to the crowd they were either enveloped in conversation or staring blankly. Too hip for the room, but thankfully not for those watching the broadcast.

The Dude finally abides. Jeff Bridges finally won on his fourth nomination, and between his appearance and attitude and his reminiscing about his father (Lloyd Bridges) and family, I would not have been surprised if he asked where his carpet was.

Jane Lynch got screwed. No disrespect to Chloe Sevigny, but this award should have had Jane Lynch‘s name on it. Her bitch-in-a-track-suit character from Glee is far from a one-note performance, as we got to see in episodes that exposed her family life and dating woes. Glee did upset 30 Rock for Best Comedy, however. (“This is for anybody and everybody who got a wedgie in high school” quipped director Ryan Murphy).

Meryl Streep is funny. “I want to change my name to T-Bone. T-Bone Streep!” Priceless.

Drew Barrymore was acting. So one minute she’s sitting at her table, giggling with friends, looking as comfy as can be. Then the red light comes on and she’s blubbering about growing up in Hollywood and dancing really close to the cliff of Sally Field’syou really like me” implosion. Yawn. Take a cue from Robert Downey Jr. next time and do something unique.

Mo’Nique nailed it. Great, emotional speech and a sincere call-out to victims of abuse to have the courage to come forward and heal. I don’t know why I thought the HFPA wouldn’t get such a dark performance, because every award ceremony seems to be honoring it. But if the night had a lump-in-throat moment, it was hers.

Martin Scorcese is awesome. What a fascinating man, and a true champion of film preservation. His batting average as a director is astounding, and he’s been blessed to have actors like Robert DeNiro, Harvey Keitel and Leonardo DiCaprio as collaborators and lead actors. Even DeNiro‘s odd comic riff about Scorcese having sex with film canisters couldn’t tarnish the accomplishments of a true giant in the industry.

Sir Paul is cool. “I’m Paul McCartney, or as I’m known, that guy from Rock Band“. Great line about animation being for “adults who take drugs“, but oddly not a peep out of the crowd when he dropped that blatant hint about a resurrected Yellow Submarine project.

NBC ducked a bullet. Outside of a couple of barbs from Julianne Margulies (“thanks to Les Moonves for believing in a 10:00 drama”) and Gervais (joking that NBC would replace him with Jay Leno during the show), the Tonight Show fustercluck was hardly mentioned. I heard there were comments on the red carpet part of the program, but I don’t do red carpets.

And most importantly I should never wager. Sure, I picked three of the four NFL playoff games (and would have won all four had San Diego’s kicker not gone Norwood on them) but betting on film awards is a good place to clean out your wallet. Six out of ten isn’t bad, but nothing to brag about. (Wrong picks in red.)

Best Picture (Drama): Avatar (The Hurt Locker)
Best Picture (Musical or Comedy): The Hangover (It’s Complicated)
Best Director: James Cameron, Avatar
Best Actor (Drama): Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart (George Clooney)
Best Actress (Drama): Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side
Best Actor (Musical or Comedy): Robert Downey, Jr., Sherlock Holmes
Best Actress (Musical or Comedy): Meryl Streep, Julie & Julia
Best Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds
Best Supporting Actress: Mo’Nique, Precious (Vera Farmiga) 
Best Screenplay: Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner, Up in the Air

But I’ll be doing this again at Oscar time, of course. It’s only Internet money, right?

Golden Globe nominees and winners.

Critic’s Choice Movie Awards also announced this weekend.

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