Thursday, June 30, 2005

Poem: Raining Words

Raining Words

Rain is a lyricist.

Drops of water falling
Into verse on worn wood;
Defined within puddles.

A pool encompasses
Ideas, as from heaven,
That soak and cleanse the soul;
Washing away life’s grime
Along a river flown,
Until a new shore reached.

In waiting patiently,
Another storm’s brewing;
New words, new drops, new rain.

Rain is a lyricist ...

Copyright SGW 2005

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Mr. & Mrs. Smith

This was not a movie I expected to enjoy and I am not going to give a full-blown review. However, I must admit to being pleasantly surprised.

The action sequences and main story are nothing special. Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt are a different story and there is genuine chemistry (sorry, Jennifer). The playful back and forth and the clever lines make for a very entertaining and funny movie. I laughed often and the general view from the other people in the theater seemed to be in agreement.

If you want to have a good time and enjoy the push and pull humor that Jolie and Pitt share, go see "Mr. and Mrs. Smith." It is not high theater, but it is fun nonetheless.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

It's Springsteen and then everyone else

Bruce Springsteen is currently touring overseas and is particularly popular in Sweden. Catarina Oscarsson, press manager at Ema-Telstar, says:

"Two nights in a row (in the summer of 1985 tour), the E Street Band got 63,000 people dancing so hard that the foundations of the arena were seriously damaged. No other shows could be held at Ullevi for several years."

In part, this tells the story of Bruce Springsteen and his concert performances. The energy level is so high, the music so good, the power so strong, that it literally tears down the building.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Ten places I refuse to go

1. The White House. It is under currently criminal rule.
2. Yankee Stadium. As a professed Yankee hater, I cannot even go there to root against them.
3. Exxon-Mobil stations. Ever since Valdez.
4. Pizza Hut. I'm sorry, but that is not pizza to me. It looks and tastes like frozen pizza, which I find nasty. Blech!
5. The new strip mall around the corner from my house. We already have a giant foodstore, drug store, cleaners, coffeehouse, and bakery. Did we need a whole new set right next door?
6. Inside a home with big, killer dogs. They scare the shit out of me! My best friend had a German Shepherd that nearly tore me to shreds as a teenager, and I never went in his house again while that monster was alive.
7. The bathroom without reading materials. More on this in the coming days.
8. Anyplace that excludes other people based on race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or gender.
9. Chiropractors. One made my back significantly worse then it had been before and had the nerve to say, "Oops," when he did so. I have been warned by too many doctors to mention how what a chiropractor does is physiologically the opposite of what the spine should have done to it. I agree.
10. A Bush town hall meeting. Seeing as how you must sign an oath of allegiance, my hand is not capable of grasping a pen and writing my name next to anything that states support for a fascist buffoon who hates America.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Cinderella Man

"Cinderella Man" is a brilliant effort on the part of director Ron Howard. It is as simple as that! Howard has taken us back in time to an era of struggle and despair, and portrayed all of that, but also the unrelenting will of a man, and a family, to overcome. In the process, the man, Jim Braddock, a heavyweight fighter in the depression years, becomes the hope of an entire nation. Much as the horse Seabiscuit was a source of relief for millions of Americans, so, too, was Braddock and the dreams of those who followed his epic battle against champion Max Baer can be vividly felt in this movie.

The reality and dramatic flair of the fights scenes in "Cinderella Man" are superior, on par with those of "Raging Bull." Russell Crowe, as Jim Braddock, looks the part and shows legitimate boxing skill. Outside of the ring, Crowe brings a determination that combines with raw integrity and love of family that builds over the course of the film, climaxing in the final fight scene.

"Cinderella Man" allows others to shine as well. Paul Giamatti gives yet another solid and well placed performance as Joe Gould, Braddock's manager. Paddy Considine, who most will remember for a fine effort in "In America," brings a dark picture of how the times destroyed many Americans clearly into focus. He is tragic and sympathetic at once.

One of the best aspects of this film comes in its women. Both Renee Zellweger, as Mae Braddock, and Linda Kash, as Lucille Gould, are strong women who support their husbands, but are powerful individuals in their own right. They do what must be done, but they lead as much as follow.

Ron Howard deserves a great deal of credit for the imagery and honesty of "Cinderella Man." The camera work is gripping. The story comes off as sincere, and we feel lifted into the times as front row visitors to the events taking place. While the movie has the glorious Hollywood finale in place, Howard nonetheless allows the struggle and heartaches of the Great Depression to leave a lasting impression on the film. He shows us human frailty, dreams in conflict with life and the hardness of society, yet also has us believing and applauding courage and hope.

"Cinderella Man" is a timeless story that will touch everyone. It will be viewed over time in the same light as other brilliant boxing films such as "Raging Bull" and "Rocky," not because it is a film about fighting, but because it exhibits the human spirit with fullness and truth.

Monday, June 6, 2005

Red Molly 4 Song EP

Red Molly is comprised of Laurie MacAllister, Abbie Gardner and Carolann Solebello. The trio has joined forces to release a self-titled, 4 song EP that is a gift to the ears. Red Molly’s three angelic voices come together to form a harmonized, sweetness that is unmatched. Their sound is woven into simple arrangements that leave the listener enchanted and begging for more.Red Molly slides in and out of different musical genres in a way that makes it difficult to classify them. From Appalachia-based selections, such as the Susan Werner song, “Yellow House,” with MacAllister on lead vocals, to Gardner’s cleverly written and hauntingly played dobro on the country song “Long Island Cowboy,” the listener is left with beautiful harmonies and subtle musicianship. The robust bass of Solebello serves as the bedrock on each track, while her playful mandolin on “Long Island Cowboy” enhances the spirit and essence of that song.

On the traditional piece, “Darlin’ Corey,” Gardner displays a fiery lead vocal and a sly and mischievous dobro that combine with MacAllister’s banjo to offer up a performance that is alive and energetic.

Finally, on “Are You Lonesome Tonight,” an old standard, MacAllister is again on lead vocal, providing a longing touch that is both tender and moving. She is ably supported by wonderful harmonies from Gardner and Solebello.

All three members of Red Molly are strong, individual talents. However, as a unit they become something special, and this EP is a clear reflection of the unique blending of artistry that MacAllister, Gardner and Solebello put forth. About the only flaw one can find in Red Molly’s efforts on this 4 song EP? It is not a 10 song CD.

Poem: Brass Stand

Brass Stand

Downing Street Memo offers treasonous tale
Lies and deceptions in fullest portrayal
Agendas conceived through a misguided route
Hunger for power what it’s truly about
A leader’s betrayal of the people and nation
Manipulate "data" for the truth’s desecration
Reasons were given, though none of them real
Men lacking virtue are content to conceal
Recklessly foolish turned to suffering and dying
Spreading of freedom? Bullshit, they’re lying!
Where are the weapons or terrorist linking?
Contracts for cronies was all they were thinking
Wasted Iraq in a ruinous destruction
All’s been provided is contempt and obstruction
War was devised in a pre-measured planning
Flames of aggression fed with purposeful fanning
Evidence ample to impeach and convict
Crimes were committed that the press won’t depict
Abusive behavior of this fascist regime
Sacrificed values and a country’s esteem
Steps that were taken still demand an accounting
Neglect in reporting is increasingly mounting
To these men in the shadows any silence is golden
Masking the schemes onto which they’re beholden
When the media’s quiet in a note of compliance
Hope makes a stand in a Big Brass Alliance

Copyright SGW 2005

Sunday, June 5, 2005

So much talent can't be legal - Janey Todd

What can you say about singer/songwriter Janey Todd to do justice to her craftsmanship as a musician? If it were up to her, you would likely say nothing, as she eschews the spotlight and does not desire accolades.

At the same time, though, Todd is the consummate musician. A brilliant lyricist who writes what she lives and sees things with humor, sarcasm, biting force, and penetrating nuance, Todd gets to the heart of any topic she explores with unyielding conviction and intricate and unpredictable force. She is unassuming in style, almost to the point of going silent at times. Yet in that calm, is the strength of her message and voice; a voice that can be playful, imaginative and complex.

Todd's songs take no prisoners. She refuses to apologize for revealing the shortcomings of what she chooses to measure, including herself at times. In that, comes the greatest beauty of her work; uncompromising integrity.

Yet, while the above-written words seem to paint the picture of a cynic (a good artist must have a touch of cynicism within them), that would not be a fair appraisal of Janey Todd by any stretch of the imagination.

She appears to love being a musician, if being one can be on terms that are a comfortable fit. She has a kindness and peacefulness to her presence that is readily apparent when she performs. Friendly and a good soul, Janey Todd simply asks that you listen and enjoy as she plays. If you do, it will become obvious that she has much to teach you.