Life in the Slow Lane

September 29, 2009

Skynyrd cuts ‘rock’ out of ‘Southern rock’ on latest record

Filed under: Entertainment,Music — pauljlane @ 11:48 am

The first few bars of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s latest album, “God and Guns,” don’t really sound like the same group that gave us “Sweet Home Alabama,” “Freebird” and countless other classic rock hits.

Given that those songs are decades old, a shift in songwriting style and musicianship is natural.

But in this case, it’s not for the better.

By the time this record is finished playing, the listener is overwhelmed by country licks that are well-polished if fairly generic. And depending on where you sit on the political scale, the right-wing dogma that’s propagated by this album (with a name like “God and Guns,”one can guess without hearing a single song what the group’s message is) will either leave you sick to your stomach or ready to march on Washington, rifle in hand.

The album’s title track, as one could guess, rambles on about how guns are a part of this nation’s fabric. “Well, we might as well run if we let them take our God and guns,” lead singer Johnny Van Zant proclaims near this tune’s chorus.

This song is by far the most politically leaning, but the rest of the record sells a similar down-home country message. “Floyd,” with its rambling acoustic guitars, sounds like it was meant to be on the “Deliverance” soundtrack. “Simple Life” and “Southern Ways” lighten the mood quite a bit, offering feel-good messages that can be heard on just about any song you’ll hear on country radio these days.

On its own, “God and Guns” isn’t horrible. But there’s nothing about this album that defines it as Lynyrd Skynyrd, nor is there anything to distinguish it from all the other country fare out there (the opener, “Still Unbroken,” might as well be credited to Toby Keith). Diehard Skynyrd fans will probably like this album, as will mainstream country fans, but the rest of us better hope the band sticks to the old stuff when it tours. C+

September 28, 2009

Macfarlane overload convolutes Fox animation lineup

Filed under: Entertainment,Television — pauljlane @ 2:29 pm

Sunday night marked two firsts for this TV viewer: It was the first time I saw “The Cleveland Show” (which premiered Sunday night), and it was the first time I sat through all three of Seth Macfarlane’s animated programs.cleveland-show
It will be the last time, as well.
I really enjoy “Family Guy,” which I watch whenever I can on network and cable television. It’s sharp, witty and funny, even if it’s a bit too reliant upon obscure references (references to “Robot Chicken” and Disney films made this last episode pretty much an instant classic).
But the same can’t be said for Macfarlane’s other two shows. “American Dad” seems like “Family Guy Lite,” as it replaces the talking dog with a talking alien and the pop culture references with nods to government happenings. Nothing in any episode I’ve watched has made me laugh out loud.
As for “The Cleveland Show,” well, it seems the creative juices have run dry. A talking bear is the oddity this time around, as Cleveland Brown settles into the Southern town he grew up in and marries his high school sweetheart. More obnoxious kids, more off-beat humor directed at about 5 percent of the audience, you get the idea. And a black man in the South calls for some of the laziest, most predictable jokes that can be made; Macfarlane has delivered far better material in the past.
I will faithfully watch “Family Guy” for as long as it’s on, but that show clearly gets all of the best ideas devoted to it, and the other two shows almost seem to just ride the coattails of its reputation (and that of its creator). Neither of the off-shoots offer anything new, and recycled “Family Guy” is quite stale.
All three shows will probably enjoy fairly decent runs. But for the two newer shows, I won’t be a part of said runs.

September 24, 2009

Confession of an occasional chauvenist

Filed under: Entertainment,Movies — pauljlane @ 3:16 pm

I read this afternoon that Barbie is the latest toy to get the movie treatment, as a live-action film based on the doll (celebrating its 50th anniversary this year) is in the works.

My first thought: “How stupid. Who would go see a movie based on a doll?”

But then I realized the answer: Me.

I like the “Transformers” film series. I haven’t seen “G.I. Joe,” but I would see it if given the chance.

So upon further reflection, it seems as though my thought process was based purely on the fact that subject in question this time was a girl’s toy, not a boy’s toy (at least in stereotypical circles).

I have to admit: I’m wrong. I should not think this way. Why shouldn’t the female persuasion of toy-lovers have the same chance for reminiscence as the “Transformers” series gave me and so many other men? Who am I to say in 10 years, when my daughter wants to rent the movie, that it’s “dumb” just because I never played with Barbies?

So go for it, Barbie. I probably won’t watch, but you deserve the same chance Optimus Prime had.

Good luck.

•••

Here is the story from the AP on the subject.

Barbie is the latest toy to get her own Hollywood deal for a live-action movie.
Universal Pictures has acquired the rights for a movie based on the Mattel dolls. The Barbie flick will follow such toy-based hits as the “Transformers” movies and “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra.”
Laurence Mark, whose credits include “Dreamgirls” and “Jerry Maguire,” is producing. Mattel executives Richard Dickson and Rob Hudnut will be executive producers.
Universal has released animated Barbie movies on home video, but this will be Barbie’s first live-action adventure.

September 21, 2009

New wedding dance craze not exactly thrilling

Filed under: Entertainment,Life,Music — pauljlane @ 4:57 pm

I’ve been to two weddings in the past couple weeks, and at both of them I’ve seen something I thought I never would.

People showing love to Michael Jackson.

“Thriller” was played at both weddings. At both occasions, people attempted to perform the dance from the music video. Both times, they failed.

Having looked it up on Youtube, I see that I might be a little bit behind the times with this. But I’m really not sure how I feel about this. So, let’s break it down.

POSITIVES: Well, “Thriller” is a better song than pretty much any other song you’ll hear at any wedding (“We Are Family,” for example). It definitely makes people want to dance, and it can’t help but make you feel happier. In fact, more Jackson songs than just this would be welcome; gimme some “Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough” or “Beat It,” for cryin’ out loud.

NEGATIVES: Well, you have to watch people butcher the dance. I know that weddings are the place to cut loose in ways you wouldn’t ordinarily, but at both weddings I went to I saw people coordinate, get through about six measures of the song, screw up, stop, laugh and meander through the rest of the tune doing the zombie walk. That’s not especially entertaining. Also, while this trend did start before Jackson’s passing, would the song receive the same cheery reception if he were alive, and still known as a weirdo rather than musical genius? Just saying.

At the end of the day, I guess there’s no problem with hearing the song at a wedding (at least for now, ask me again in 10 years when “Thriller” reaches the pit that the Macarena currently occupies). I’d throw out the caveat, though, that unless you REALLY know the moves fromt he video, don’t imitate it. Just go out there and do that awkward shuffle-step taht most people do as a dance.

Unless you’re these guys. Then the floor is yours.

September 3, 2009

Wayne Brady returns to game show action on ‘Deal’

Filed under: Entertainment,Television — pauljlane @ 2:35 pm

Not resting on his laurels upon the cancellation of his Fox game show “Don’t Forget the Lyrics,” Wayne Brady will be back behind the mic this fall to host the remake of “Let’s Make a Deal.”

Shooting in Las Vegas, the series will retain much of the quirkiness of the original series, CBS said in a release.

Brady was brilliant on “Whose Line is it Anyway” and, while that naturally translates into game show duties, it seems as though he can do more than that. But it pays (presumably well) and it’s work, so who can knock it.

Following is the CBS release.

•••

LET’S MAKE A DEAL, a new take on the classic game show where audience members dress in outlandish costumes to win cash and prizes by making deals with the host, will begin production Tuesday, September 15 at the Tropicana Las Vegas.  The new, one-hour series will premiere Monday, Oct. 5, (check local listings) on the CBS Television Network.  Emmy Award-winner Wayne Brady will host the new one-hour daytime series produced by FremantleMedia North America (“American Idol,” “The Price is Right”).

Free tickets for the show are available at http://www.cbs.com/daytime/lets_make_a_deal/ with details about tape dates also available at the site.

The original LET’S MAKE A DEAL was a television game show staple during the 1960s and 70s when it was hosted by Monty Hall from 1963-1977.  While later versions aired in syndication and primetime, the game show is best remembered for the years hosted by Hall, who will serve as a creative consultant on this latest version.

The proud home of LET’S MAKE A DEAL, Tropicana Las Vegas has been a Las Vegas landmark since its inception in 1957. Recently acquired by the Onex Corporation and led by seasoned gaming executive Alex Yemenidjian, the historic property is currently transforming itself into a vibrant South Beach, Miami themed escape. Located at the corner of Las Vegas Boulevard and Tropicana Avenue, in the heart of the famed Las Vegas Strip and featuring numerous restaurants, the 850-seat Tiffany Theater, the famous pool area with cascading waterfalls, more than 1,800 hotel rooms and an action-packed casino, renovations are scheduled for completion in 2010.  For additional information on events, amenities or availability call 702-739-2222 or visit tropicanalv.com. Management reserves all rights.

LET’S MAKE A DEAL is hosted by Wayne Brady.  Mike Richards (“The Price is Right”) is the Executive Producer.  Produced by FremantleMedia North America, the one-hour show will be broadcast weekdays (check local listings) on the CBS Television Network.

Seth Rogen as a superhero? Why not?

Filed under: Entertainment,Movies — pauljlane @ 2:15 pm

The following from Allied Advertising announces that filming has started on “The Green Hornet,” the comic-inspired film written by and starring Seth Rogen.

The star of “Knocked Up” and “Pineapple Express” does well as an everyman roustabout, but can Rogen pull off this contrast in starring roles? As long as he does better than Ben Affleck in “Daredevil,” he’ll be fine.

•••

A classic character of film, television, radio and comic books returns to the big screen in Columbia Pictures’ feature film The Green Hornet, starring Seth Rogen (Superbad, Knocked Up) as the vigilante crime-fighter.  Production is underway on the Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) helmed film, which is produced by Neal H. Moritz (I Am Legend, The Fast and the Furious) and executive produced by Michael Grillo (The Accidental Tourist), Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg (Superbad, Pineapple Express), Ori Marmur (Evan Almighty) and George W. Trendle, Jr.  The screenplay is by Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg, based upon “The Green Hornet” radio series created by George W. Trendle and shoots entirely in Los Angeles.  The film is set for release December 17, 2010.

In addition to Rogen, the film also stars Taiwanese actor-pop star Jay Chou as Kato, Cameron Diaz (Charlie’s Angels, What Happens in Vegas), Edward James Olmos (“Battlestar Galactica”), David Harbour (Revolutionary Road) and Tom Wilkinson (Valkyrie).  Nicolas Cage is also in negotiations to appear in the film.

Academy Award®-nominee John Schwartzman (Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian) is the director of photography.  Production designer is Owen Paterson (The Matrix Revolutions), Kym Barrett (Speed Racer) serves as costume designer and Michael Tronick (Mr. & Mrs. Smith) is editing.

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