Wednesday, December 28, 2011

New Year's Rocking Attic Revisited

I find this hard to believe, but it's been three years now since the last edition of the New Year's Rockin' Attic. In 2006, 2007 and 2008 I finished the "broadcast year" with the heavy metal "Auld Lang Syne" by Rockosaurus Rex and some other seasonal delights.

I've been poking around the Attic again and found those eventful podcasts tucked behind a strange looking vase that started talking to me about the Phoenix Islands. That's a tale for another day.

For now I offer this links/download opportunities with the whimsical thought that maybe I should start thinking about dusting off the microphone.

Uncle Warren's Attic #16: New Year's Rockin' Attic (Jan. 1, 2007)
Click here for the podcast

Uncle Warren's Attic #46: New Year's Rockin' Attic II (Dec. 30, 2007)
Click here for the podcast

Uncle Warren's Attic #56: New Year's Rockin' Attic III (Dec. 28, 2008)
Click here for the podcast

And then there's the closest thing to a lost episode of Uncle Warren's Attic - the seldom heard fourth New Year's Rockin' Attic! The reason it's seldom heard is that I wasn't satisfied with the results - and because it ends with a promise to return to regular podcasting - so I pulled it from circulation after just a couple of days. But now here it is - and it's not at all as bad as I remember.

Uncle Warren's Attic #59: New Year's Rockin' Attic IV (Dec. 29, 2009)
Click here for the podcast

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Best covers of 2011

Here's an interesting site for people who enjoy varied interpretations of familiar tunes.

You can find a selection of the Best Cover Songs of 2011 and the Best Cover Albums of 2011, as well as full albums of covers.

Fun stuff.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Tis the season

It's a most amazing and inspiring story, of overcoming hardship (no room at the inn) and government red tape (everyone return to their hometown to register? Really?) to bring a child into the world who from the first was a beacon of hope.

However you celebrate this time of year, or even if you don't, please accept this in the spirit of peace and joy it's intended:

Merry Christmas.

Cross posted to Inward and Indeed.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Best introduction of a character in TV history: Hoban "Wash" Washburne

You never have a second chance to make a first impression. My first impression of Wash in Firefly is: I love this guy.

Monday, December 19, 2011

1. It's a Wonderful Life

I did this one already, in the blog post that started me thinking about my favorite movies in 25 words or less:
On the brink of suicide, a man is introduced to the reality that every individual has immeasurable value and a purpose.
Bert! What do you know about that? Merry Christmas!

2. Serenity

Nine disparate characters make a life and a family together against all odds. With Firefly, simply the best science fiction saga of our time.

3. The Wizard of Oz

A children's story for all ages; unforgettable songs, iconic images and joyous performances. (Only needed 13 words that time!)

Anyone who knows me has heard me quote from this film numerous times, most likely "Shucks folks, I'm speechless."

When I finally saw this film on a big screen (was it for the 60th anniversary in 1999?), my biggest surprise was noticing at last that Scarecrow is packing heat in the Haunted Forest. One could argue this is proof he really does have a brain!

4. Casablanca

Everyone needs to believe in something bigger than themselves - even if it means making painful choices. No film illustrates this truth better than this one.
(I had the pleasure of seeing this movie in a crowded college lecture hall in the early 1970s, before films were readily available, so most of us had never seen it before. The audience reaction to the line following "Major Strasser has been shot" is the best moment I've ever had in a movie theater. Delirium.)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

5. E.T. the Extraterrestrial

The most glorious symphonic score ever composed for a film (Yay, John Williams!), accompanying a timeless odyssey that touches the heart.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

6. To Kill a Mockingbird

Perhaps the best child performances ever; a heroic father figure; riveting courtroom drama and the tragedy of justice unserved; compelling mystery; what's not to love?

7. A Christmas Story

Jean Shepherd's greatest tales portrayed nearly perfectly, capturing a time and place that is both vintage and universal. A complete delight any time of year.

8. Field of Dreams

The full range of emotions and a fantastic mystery, followed by one of the great payoffs: "Hey - Dad? You wanna have a catch?" 'Nuff said.

Friday, December 16, 2011

9. Up

A sweet and heartbreaking opening love story, followed by a wondrous mix of fantastic adventure, growing friendships and occasional uncontrollable laughter. Simply a pure delight.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

10. Raiders of the Lost Ark

In keeping with my post the other day, here (slowly but surely) come my favorite 10 movies, with the "why" in 25 words or less.

#10 - Raiders of the Lost Ark. A game-changing thrill ride - quests, daring feats, heroic acts, a feisty beautiful heroine (Karen Allen!), mystery and intrigue, and Nazis - I hate these guys.
I find that, although these are remarkable bits of film-making, the list is more about my emotional or intellectual reaction to the movies, and mostly the former. Give me a thrill and a lump in the throat, and you're one of my favorite films.

So, Citizen Kane and Gone With the Wind and other  admittedly great films don't make this list, but - well, you'll see.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Christmas Hymns and Carols

Update: Here's an updated link to hear/download Uncle Warren's Attic #14.

My favorite all-time music of this season is from the Robert Shaw Chorale: Christmas Hymns and Carols, Volumes I and II. On the day after Thanksgiving, Mom would break out the 33 1/3 rpm Robert Shaw records, slap them (OK, place them gingerly) on the turntable and it was Christmastime: "Joy to the world! The Lord is come ..." (You can hear that moment recollected in UWA #14.)

Of course, the day I discovered eBay I started looking for the 78 rpm version of those albums, which were recorded in the post-war 1940s, a cappella with gorgeous vocal arrangements. Here's a threesome of how good it sounded ...

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Greatest movie - 25 words or less

A friend of mine started a Facebook thread talking about the worst big-budget movie of all time. He said The Patriot. I said Titanic. Others made their case for Pearl Harbor and Waterworld. Others chimed in with their own moments when they walked out of the movie theater feeling cheated out of two or three hours of their lives.

Along the way he brought up why he'd mentioned the subject:
For admission essays Columbia University is now asking prospective students to state in 25 words of less the greatest movie of all time. Naturally, I turned the question on end and wondered what's the worst.
It's fun to think about movies that failed to deliver, but I also like the original premise: An elevator speech about what you think is the greatest movie of all time, and why. You have just 25 words to state your case – depending on the size of your words, that's essentially a Tweet.

It's A Wonderful Life: On the brink of suicide, a man is introduced to the reality that every individual has immeasurable value and a purpose.

There's 21 words, and if you make me include the title I still kept it to 25. Hey! This is fun. I think I'll do this with my whole top 10.

How about you? What's the greatest movie of all time, and why? You have 25 words. Go! (For fans of films like Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, the 25 words doesn't have to include the title.)

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Free album: Wanting to Live Forever (1986)

On the morning of Jan. 27, 1986, I woke up with a powerful urge to create something, so I picked up the 12-string and started strumming chords. D - G -D - G - D - G ...

I liked the sound but I couldn't think of a new way to make a transition to a third chord - and then the words started coming out.

I sat down this cold morning to write myself a folk song;
I sat down this cold morning to right the world's eternal wrongs.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Best and worst lines ever, in one song

I liked Neil Diamond before he was Neil Diamond. I was a big fan from his very first single, "Solitary Man," on Bang Records in 1966. Always thought he got a little full of himself when he moved to Uni Records and especially after he landed at Columbia. Instead of nifty little pop-rock songs like "Cherry Cherry" and "I'm A Believer," he started writing bombastic epics. Some of them worked out, some of them didn't, and once he managed both in the same song.

It's "I Am I Said," which has some of his best lyrics and the very worst ever, within seconds of each other.