Finally Some Good Guitar

I have in recent years lamented the passing of quality guitar work for presumed vocal virtuosity (which I contended has much fewer virtuosos than is recognized). Regardless, a rant about the people yelling at me instead of sinning to me is for another day.

Last night I watched the CMA awards and was quite impressed by the handy guitar work of Brothers Osborne. John Osborne seems as comfortable laying rifts, which would make Eric Clapton proud. His ability to use the totality of his fret board was first rate and was his style
And while I’m on it. If you get the chance to listen to Jason Isbell, do it. He too has a deft hand. While not as rock as John Osborne, Isbell blends acoustic guitar and electric with a skill reminiscent of the original Doobie Brothers – pay special attention to Cumberland Gap, with his band the 400 Unit of the album The Nashville Sound.
Though I know this, I was nonetheless struck by Keith Urban’s guitar skills as well. He like Osborne can put together solos that can make many an old rocker (like myself) nod their heads in agreement.
Neither Osborne, nor Urban, nor Isbell overplays their guitar the way many hard Rockers do these days. Each note of these fret boards is a demonstration of individual artistry. It’s all quite thoughtful.



Big Brother 19 Orgy of Bullying

I have been watching Big Brother for years and for the most part have enjoyed it, but Thursday’s episode was horrific. If CBS does nothing about it – by inaction – the network endorses this abhorrent behavior.
Even though Jessica Graf and Cody Nickson may be the worst players ever to play and perhaps the two tilt toward the obnoxious;

the abuse, bullying, and terroristic threatening heaped upon them by the house was repellant, disgusting, and dangerous.

The entire house, except two cowards hiding inside, followed Graf and Nickson to the back yard and seemingly circled they two lying on a Hammock and began hurling insults. It was akin to watching African wild dogs corner wildebeests. Josh Martinez ran around banging frying pans (not unlike psyops in a military operation), Raven Walton hurled expletive after expletive at the two, an through it all Paul Abrahamian danced in the background like some satanic character whose vile plan was coming to fruition.

On to the cowards and there are two and one honorary coward
1. Matthew Clines watched from a far mumbling about how the even was all wrong. Yet he did nothing.
2. Mark Jansen watched from the doorway shaking his head and also did nothing.
3. Honorary coward Kevin Schlehuber the oldest of the group, did nothing as well. He of all of them should know better

These three were aware enough of the situation not to get sucked in, but were too cowardly to act. Shame on them.

The whole thing showed the worst of television and breakdown of decorum.

Pop TV’s Wolf Creek is Great

wolf-creek-tv-posterI have a guilty pleasure I need to confess.

Maybe I should start with a prayer, Naaaah it’s not fitting given the topic.

Anyway, I have a dog. Just throwing that out to set the stage, because the heroine of this guilt pleasure also has a dog. Her name is Eve and she is the protagonist in the bleak Outback thriller “Wolf Creek” on PopTV.

Set in Australia, an American young woman relentlessly hunts down the killer of her family; a serial killer named Mick Taylor. Eve is played by Australian actress Lucy Fry. She plays the role with both vulnerability and strength (a rare combination).

Mick Taylor is menacingly play by longtime Aussie TV staple John Jarret. He has a long list of credits and it is hard to believe he once hosted a lifestyle show on Australian TV

Anyway, the cast of characters populating the show is fairly unusual for the kind of slasher/revenge flick we’ve grown used to. Even so, the story moves so fast and the Outback so bleak there is something special about this production.

I think that is the power of the show. The characters are so unusual that you never get bored. There is the drug lord chasing Eve , not because she stole his money (she did), but because he thinks she would provide the perfect DNA for his future offspring. There is the cop who is obsessed with her because his wife is cheating on him; there is the soiled dove women from some kind of strip/non strip club where the women walk around suggestively, but never take their clothes; and finally there is the useless dog that never seems to be around when trouble erupts.

If you like your tension mixed with cornucopia of oddball characters, this is the show for you.



My Review of Major Crimes

majorcrimsRarely does a spinoff find its own identity.
The graveyard of all the Joanie Loves Chachi spinoff wannabes is pretty large. Still every now and then a lucky few find their own way and turn into something special. Think about it. There is NCIS from for JAG and the plethora of Homicides, or CSIs, Still quality is hard to come by.
That’s why I like Major Crimes so much.
This “The Closer” spinoff has really found its own footing. Crisp writing, excellent characters and powerful story lines fuel the action. The show uses inventive approaches to camera work and direction all having the effect of riveting viewers to their sears.
Mary McDonnel portrayal of Capt. Sharon Raydor is/was an excellent crossover for the stickler form IA who found a home with the rough and tumble squad. The character has a significant advantage over Brenda Lee Johnson (play by Kyra Sedgewick in the Closer). Raydor cares as much about her people as solving the case, while the Johnson would sacrifice friend and foe alike to catch the bad guy.
G.W. Bailey always the loveable curmudgeon, is excellent as LT Provenza. The writers have done a nice job humanizing him, but Provenza does his best to keep humanity at bay. It is his shtick, but that is okay.
Lt. Flynn Andy Flynn, played by Tony Denison, has come a long way from his first days of plotting against Brenda Lee. So much so that now he is having a relationship with Capt. Raydor.
I hope the writers can resist the urge to have Raydor and Flynn break up and make things uncomfortable in the unit. It has been done to death.
The one thing I miss are the old Provenza and Flynn screw up episodes. They were always fun. You know, like the time they found a body in the garage, left it there so they could go to a baseball game and serious antics ensue.
I was not a big fan of the Rusty storyline (played by Graham Patrick Martin) until he pulled it all together as a faux journalist who uncovered the true identity of a dead Jane Doe. The writing was masterful and each episode layered the next. I have to admit it was pretty cool.
I have always been a big fan of Raymond Cruz. I think he gobbles up the screen. I would encourage the writers to make more use of him and the Julio Sanchez and his mom storyline.
I was skeptical of Kearran Giovanni as Sykes, but by golly, she has really proven to be a real addition to the team
I guess the real test of any spinoff is whether you forget the source show. Major Crimes has achieved that. It stands alone as a unique work of art.

An Addendum to “The Summoning”

I want to thank Terri for calling me out on my earlier thoughts about “The Summoning” when I mentioned that Adam was one of the few white characters in the film. I appreciate every reader and I realize some clarification was need.

Having Adam as a white character was either wonderful casting or wonderful writing – maybe both.

Here’s why.

When Angela gives Adam the key to bringing back his dead wife, even though it will cause him incredible hardship, the guilt consumes her. She reflects and regrets what she has potentially done to another person – regardless of difference – and attempts to head off disaster even at her own expense. It gives Angela – played by Paula Jai Parker – a depth that otherwise may have been missing. It is at this moment she becomes – to the viewer— multi-dimensional rather than flat. Again, great casting or great writing or both.

Like I said earlier, I won’t spoil the scene, but suffice to say it is a wonderful moment.

While I’m at it, I wanted to mention the great work of Diandra Lyle, whose facial expressions – especially in one of the final scenes – were superb. She has a presence that will be a pleasure to watch (not in a creepy way) in the years to come.

I guess that’s it. Bye.

Game Of Drones

I have watched Game of Thrones since the beginning and have liked it, hated it, and been appalled by it, but something odd this season is afoot.
For the first time I am bored by it.
These guys never shut up; they drone on and on and on. It’s not as if there is some big, diabolical plan bubbling somewhere. It seems like talk, for talk sake. It’s like each of these actors thinks they have to impress us with their acting chops.
It’s all a mess – an incoherent mess at that.
And while in the past I had been mortified by some of the graphic violence I now look back as if those were the good old days. At least something was happening.
My goodness. I’m starting to cheer for the dragons – long for Geoffrey to return. Anything! Director! Stop letting these yahoos emote, get on with the story.
I didn’t watch it last week; I was already tired so went to bed. I was already bored no need to watch.
That would have never happened in previous years.
The show needs to pick up tempo or they are going to lose me – and I want them to succeed. I wonder if George R. R. Martin is in over his head and the pressures of writing to make a TV show possible is affecting he quality of the program.

Why I Like Black Sails

I’ve been thinking about Black Sails.

I ain’t no TV critic or nothing, but I really dig the way the writers of this show blend Robert Louis Stevenson’s characters from Treasure Island with historical figures like Charles Vane, Anne Bonnie and Jack Rackham.

Last night’s episode was many things, but at one point a nod to Stevenson as Captain Vane’s pirates torture John silver and eventually cause the amputation of one of John Silver’s legs (he becomes the one legged pirate Jim Hawkins befriends).

The writers of Black Sails have done a wonderful job of painting Silver as a – well – silver tongued devil; a skill that many will see in Treasure Island.

The carful blending of the historical figures and their dramatization with already famously functionalized characters is tightrope the writers handle deftly.

So far, the only pirates missing so far from cast are Black Dog who will cause Billy Bones to have a stroke at the old Admiral Benbow Inn and Ben Gunn whom Flint maroons on Treasure Island.

If the show is true to form Jack and Anne will not have the gold for long as Captain Flint needs to steal it and carry it off to Treasure Island and build a stockade.

I guess we’ll see next season as the writers introduce another historic figure, Blackbeard the Pirate, who was an ally of Charles Vane.

I guess we’ll see.