Life in the Slow Lane

November 9, 2009

2009 Charlie Brown Christmas special to air Dec. 1

Filed under: Entertainment,Life,Television — pauljlane @ 5:00 pm

ABC announced that the 2009 airing of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” will take 67505_003place at 8 p.m. Dec. 1.

The holiday classic, perhaps the best special that airs during the Christmas season, sees Charlie Brown debate the true meaning of the holiday while dealing with a Christmas play, a possession-obsessed sister and a lackluster lil’ Christmas tree.

Click here for details on the 2009 airing of “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.”

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2009 Charlie Brown special to air Thanksgiving night

Filed under: Entertainment,Life,Television — pauljlane @ 4:55 pm

ABC announced that the 2009 showing of “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” will67501_005_ful take place at 8 p.m. Thanksgiving night (Nov. 26).

The annual special sees Charlie Brown try to arrange a special dinner for his crew, only to have the caterers — Snoopy and Woodstock — screw things up with a toast and popcorn entree.

Airing with “Thanksgiving” will be “This is America, Charlie Brown: The Mayflower Voyagers,” a cartoon that takes the Peanuts gang back to 1620 and the 65-day voyage across the Atlantic Ocean to North America.

Click here for details on the 2009 airing of “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”

November 5, 2009

Anniversary issue offers gender-based food for thought

Filed under: Entertainment,Life,Television — pauljlane @ 3:41 pm

While watching an episode of “White Collar” last night (the USA show is excellent, by the way), I was taken aback by the subplot involving the FBI agent’s inability to come up with a sufficient anniversary gift for his wife.

yes_dear copy

The doofus husband who often forgets dates is a staple of sitcoms such as "Yes, Dear."

He eventually did, of course, but she didn’t get him a single darn thing.

And that got me thinking.

In any TV program or movie you see, it’s the man who’s the gift-giver on anniversary day. You have the ridiculous stereotype about the “Forgetful Father” who bumbles his way through life while not remembering the anniversary date and other special occasions. You have fictional men going all-out to please their wives with vacations, jewelry, dinners and the like. And even the diamond commercials lay heavy into this sentiment (“this anniversary, give her something that shows you actually care”).

So, what gives? Why is anniversary giving (in fictional worlds, at least) all on the man?

Wasn’t the woman at the wedding, after all? And don’t they say that weddings are all about what the woman wants? So why does she get to just sit back and be lavished upon year after year.

No, for the record, this sentiment isn’t reflective of any real-life misgivings on my part. My wife and I decide each year not to give gifts to each other, instead just enjoying dinner and/or a movie together.

But TV and movies can persuade some viewers, so these stereotypes – while not as harmful as those beer commercials with the nearly naked women – can do harm to relationships. If you’re saturated with any message to a certain extent, it will rub off on you in some form.

I’ve never been married to anyone else (nor will I be), so I don’t know what the “normal” anniversary gift-giving arrangement is. But I hope it’s nothing like what TV would have me believe.

November 3, 2009

Volbeat looks to put beat down during U.S. tour with Metallica

Filed under: Entertainment,Music — pauljlane @ 11:04 am

Having made a mark in its homeland and across Europe, the Danish hard rock band Volbeat sees the United States as its next land to conquer.volbeat
The fact that Metallica is on the band’s side is a huge step in that direction.
Speaking from Denmark during a recent phone interview, Volbeat frontman Michael Poulsen said his band’s connection with the biggest metal group on the planet began about 18 months ago. Volbeat supported Metallica during a show in Denmark, Poulsen said, and he quickly formed a bond with Metallica singer James Hetfield. The two talked music, cars and family before Metallica left, but within months Metallica called Poulsen to have Volbeat perform with them when they returned to Denmark.
“We saw Metallica wearing a Volbeat T-shirt on YouTube,” Poulsen said. “(Hetfield) knew song titles and everything, and I’m thinking, wow, this is crazy. I’ve been a fan of this guy since I was a teenager, and now he knows my songs.”
Two days after that second concert, Hetfield called Poulsen looking to hang out. They did that night, then again two days later, when Poulsen had to call his wife home from work to cook dinner for the two men.
“She screamed when she heard the news,” he said. “It was so weird, seeing James come into my living room and play with my dog.”
When the talk turned to business, Hetfield said Volbeat should tour with Metallica on this side of the pond. A call from a booking agent transformed that talk into action, and Volbeat’s been touring with Metallica for a few weeks now, beginning with an Oct. 26 show in Toronto.
The support helps, but Volbeat might not have needed a boost here. Since forming in 2001, Volbeat has topped the charts in Denmark and Finland while receiving heavy radio play in seven other European nations and performing sold-out shows across the continent. The band’s latest effort, “Guitar Gangsters & Cadillac Blood,” puts a metal spin on Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Hank Williams and other vintage U.S. pop stars.
“That’s all I listened to growing up,” Paulson said. “I just love that type of music.”
That love led Paulson to vacation in Memphis and Nashville, Tenn., in February. He quickly fell in love with America, he said, and the band quickly spawned a U.S. tour that began and ended this past spring.
“I was really eager to go over there. It was such a beautiful feeling. I was actually looking for the camera. I thought I was in a movie. I just fell in love with America,” he said.
The current tour, which last through Dec. 12 and includes a handful of headline shows, is what Paulson considers a natural next step for the band.
“In the beginning, only concentrated on playing Denmark. Suddenly, that turned into … Europe. Now we’ve been doing that for a while, we pulled very big crowds,” he said. “Now I think it makes more sense to do the U.S. We knew one day we were doing to do the U.S. It was a matter of timing.”
Paulson said regardless of how his band’s music is received here, he would consider moving to the United States to live — although he was quick to defend his home nation’s history and living climate.
But before any homesteading considerations come up, there’s work to do. He hopes that Volbeat takes North America just as the Viking ancestors of his homeland did, but he knows that any success won’t come easy.
“People can expect a lot of energy at our show,” he said. “We’re so much into people buying tickets, buying merchandise and buying our CDs. We always go out after the show and talk to people. We have a lot of dedication.”

IF YOU GO
• WHAT: Metallica in concert with Lamb of God and Volbeat
• WHEN: 7 p.m. Nov. 10
• WHERE: HSBC Arena, 1 Seymour Knox Plaza, Buffalo
• MORE INFORMATION: Call (888) 223-6000

October 28, 2009

Michael Jackson’s ‘This Is It’ is a fitting final chapter

Filed under: Entertainment,Movies,Music — pauljlane @ 10:56 am

We’ve all seen Michael Jackson the superstar, MJ the sideshow, MJ the accused felon, MJ the child prodigy, MJ the medical experiment gone wrong and Jacko.Michael Jackson's last show rehearsal at STAPLES Center on June

Who knew that it would take until his early demise for the world to see Jackson’s human side?

“This Is It,” which chronicles the final rehearsals before what was to be Jackson’s farewell concert stint in London this past summer, shows us Michael the person. He had a sense of humor, was a bit of perfectionist when it came to his work and had a better understanding of music than he was probably ever given credit for.

Sure, the film gives fans what they want: extended cuts of hits like “Thriller,” “Smooth Criminal” and “Beat It.” But you also get Michael chewing out a bass player for lackadaisical musicianship, encouraging his guitar player to completely put herself out there on stage and getting chided by Kenny Ortega (who co-produced the concert and made this film) for playing it safe with his voice.

We’ve become so saturated with imitations and satirical takes on Jackson that it’s been easy to forget what the real Michael Jackson was about. Yes, he had a high voice, and (as my wife pointed out) his frequent nose jobs caused his glasses to slide down every time he spun. But he was genuine, empathetic and … well … sweet. Whether the world would have thought that way if he didn’t die in late June due to a medication overdose will never be known, unfortunately.

Jackson had more troubles than most third-world countries during his final few years on Earth, but this film indicates that London audiences would have been in for one whopper of a farewell show. He still had his vocal chops, his trend-setting dance moves (which his background dancers simultaneously showered with praise and struggled to master during cutaway segments of them rehearsing) and his command of an audience (nearly every song was interrupted by his suggestion for a pause, extended keyboard run or other bit of flair).

The audience at the preview show I attended was wowed by all of this, with multiple exclamations made throughout the film and a rowdy round of applause offered up at its conclusion. He’s not around to see it, and it’s not in the venue he imagined, but that’s still precisely what Jackson would have wanted. Kudos to Ortega and the film’s other creators for giving him a fitting farewell. GRADE: A-

October 26, 2009

Protest the New York state license plate fees

Filed under: Life,News — pauljlane @ 1:45 pm

New York state, in another “eff-you” to its residents, is about to charge people — twice! — for license plates next year.

As of April 1, New York wants to charge every driver $25 per vehicle to get new plates. And then if you want the same number, you have to pay another $20 for the privilege.

What an absolute joke and abomination of what public servants should be. Is anyone in Albany actually desirous to keep people here? Our leaders sure don’t seem to act that way.

Click here to sign a petition protesting the move.

October 20, 2009

‘Home Run Derby’ is a fun, nostalgic viewing

Filed under: Entertainment,Sports,Television — pauljlane @ 1:54 pm

Imagine my sheer delight one recent evening when I came across “Home Run Derby” on ESPN Classic.

Hank Aaron on an episode of "Home Run Derby."

Hank Aaron on an episode of "Home Run Derby."

The vintage TV show pitted the game’s greatest hitters of the 1950s and 1960s against each other for bragging rights and four-figure cash prizes (which were valuable back in a day when players often worked off-season jobs).

I got to see Hank Aaron and Mickey Mantle square off. The campy feel of the show was as great as was the amazement of seeing the game’s two best hitters of that era be willing to do it. It was fantastic to watch two historical great, neither of whom I ever got to see live, hit BP in an empty minor league stadium in pursuit of $5,000. Each player even did commentary when he wasn’t at bat. They weren’t flashy or boastful, but rather they were apparently genuinely interested in winning in a sporting fashion.

The series is available on DVD and airs sporadically on cable from time to time. But be sure to give it a watch if you ever encounter it. Baseball is still a good game now, but the show will allow you to glimpse a time when it was truly great.

This is why we should abolish reality television

Filed under: Entertainment,Life,Television — pauljlane @ 12:41 pm

If Balloon Boy isn’t enough, here’s this idiot, as reported by The Associated Press. Granted, he showed a bit of initiative, and the stock market isn’t what it once was for newbie investors, but still, come on.

•••

The winner of reality TV show “Big Brother” has confessed to using his $500,000 prize to buy thousands of oxycodone pills and resell them, authorities said.
Adam Jasinski, 31, of Delray Beach, Fla., has been charged with attempting to sell 2,000 pills in Massachusetts to a government witness.
Federal prosecutors said Jasinski was arrested Saturday after he flew to Boston and showed the witness a sock containing two plastic bags filled with oxycodone, a powerful painkiller that is a popular street drug because of its euphoric effects.
As agents tried to arrest Jasinski at a strip mall in North Reading, he struggled and threw the sock under a car parked nearby, Todd Prough, a special agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration, said in an affidavit filed in court.
Jasinski won $500,000 last year on the CBS reality show in which contestants live under constant surveillance and vote once a week to evict each other in hopes of becoming the last houseguest standing and winning the grand prize.
Prough said in the affidavit that Jasinski told him that he has been using his winnings to buy thousands of oxycodone pills and has been reselling them along the East Coast for the past several months.
Jasinski’s lawyer, Valerie Carter, did not immediately return a call Tuesday.
He faces a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine on a charge of possession of oxycodone pills with intent to distribute.

October 19, 2009

There has to be life out there … doesn’t there?

Filed under: Life,News,Travel — pauljlane @ 3:37 pm

I remember doing a group exercise in college during which we discussed myth vs. reality. One of my groupmates said she believed in ghosts, and another said she thought zombies were real.

Strange, I thought, but I wasn’t there to be judgmental. When my turn came up, I said I believed that there is life somewhere, somehow that’s not on Earth.

I was laughed at so loudly the professor had to stop the exercise to shush them.

Don’t mistake my statement for a belief in little green men flying saucers in New Mexico. But with so much universe out there, there has to be other life, even if it’s life with which we’ll never make contact … I think.

That’s why announcements such as this one, that 32 more planets have been found outside our solar system, get me so excited. I would love to have new life discovered in my lifetime. It’s not just a validation thing, but it would be the finding of all-time, the greatest discovery in the history of man.

Imagine if we actually found someone (or something) else out there. Just to know that we’re not alone in the universe is a fascinating concept.

In another life – ya know, the life where I didn’t marry the love of my life, have the two best babies in the world, was good at advanced math and weighed about half of my current tally – I might have ended up an astronaut. Aside from joining one of the most elite groups every (those who have seen Earth from the outside), my childhood interest in astronomy was piqued by the desire to prove that something else is breathing somewhere.

Scientists recently discovered that there’s water on the moon, further proof that there might have, at one time, been non-Earthbound life in our solar system. No government conspiracies, no bent-on-destruction races with advanced technology, no “Star Wars” type cantinas with plenty of hostile patrons.

Just another race, like ours, that’s kinda curious about the nature of the universe.

That’s not such a laughable concept. Right?

October 7, 2009

2009 Charlie Brown ‘Great Pumpkin’ Halloween airdate announced

Filed under: Entertainment,Television — pauljlane @ 3:52 pm

ABC announced today that this year’s airing of “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown”great-pumpkin-charlie-brown
will take place at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 28. The date was originally announced as Tuesday, oct. 27, but ABC shifted it back a day.

My daughter has quickly grown to recognize and love Snoopy, and this is the first holiday special I’ll be watching with my infant son, so color me excited.

There’s no word yet on the Thanksgiving or Christmas airing for Peanuts or any other series.

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