Wednesday, March 29, 2006

The Sopranos Episode #68 - MAYHAM

It looks like Tony has woken from his Junior-induced perma-slumber and will be with us again in reality rather than in parallel universe dream format. Thank God. I started imagining having to experience T as only his yuppie dream dude version, and what a long season that would have been. But now he's up again! Sitting in a chair in a stupor, but he's up! Christopher wasted no time in telling him that he was back in the "movie" business, and that Tony "owed" him this one because of Adrianna. He just better hope T was too out of it to understand, or he may himself become the zombie-mob-dude-super=hero of his new slasher film.

Great opening for a the show this week with Paulie and a henchman knocking over a mony laundering operation. Fearless and gruesome is Mr. Walnuts. He's one guy I would never turn my back on. Scary goomba.

What's with Tony's other sister ( I don't even know her name) and her husband making these one-liner appearances? I can't help but wonder that maybe Chase is setting up a season finale where the whole Soprano pod gets wiped out. First he needs to bring them all home, which now he has done. Maybe it will be a suicide bomber on a family cruise reunion, or maybe Meadow will marry Fin and a jealous latent homosexual Vito will have the entire clan gunned down, just as they all sit down for the antipasto. We'll just have to see.

Speaking of Vito and his newly found fame on the show. I love it. His dieting and weight loss make good funny moments on the show. Just watching him sit their and devour that bag of baby carrots was great. You just know that one of these days he's going to break down and heat a gallon of Hagen Dazs.

Carmela continues to amaze. She gets all the best writing in the script. Her scene with Melfi was the highlight of the episode. She sees that now her children must suffer, and it may be what turns her against Tony himself.

Christopher! You want to write a screenplay. Why do it like all those other suffering schmucks in La La Land. Just extort an old drug addict screen writer gone straight and have a meeting! Nice one and very funny!

Poor Silvio. He just couldn't handle the pressure. I wonder if we'll see him much for the rest of the season. I'll miss the man with the plastic hair.

Until next week.... Watch your Back.

Monday, March 20, 2006

The Sopranos Episode #67 - JOIN THE CLUB

Now I remember why I love HBO's original programming. This week's episode of the Sopranos was out of this world. The first ten minutes of the episode shows Tony at some sales convention where he gets stuck because he accidentally picked up some other's guys briefcase in the bar. Immediately you realize that this sales convention Tony, who looks like Tony Soprano and sort of sounds like him, is not really him. Is it a dream? Is it a clone? What the hell is it? Has David Chase just completely lost his mind? Then boom! Just as you are ready to throw a brick through your TV set, you are catapulted into reality. The reality of Tony Soprano, the real Tony Soprano, is in an ICU barely holding on to life. Then you understand exactly what you had been witnessing moments before. You had been thrust into the world of Tony Soprano's coma - his new and maybe his last world. A world dealt to him by a pistol wielding Uncle Junior in a dimented fit. Finally, the hit that Tony's mom ordered on her own son, may become a reality. Would Chase actually have the audacity to keep Tony Soprano, the cornerstone of the show, in a coma for the entire last season? Already, as Tony lay there Paulie and Vito start scuffling, positioning themselves in the shadow of Tony's probably demise: suggestions for future violence.

As Tony lie there in his other-world, we see Carmela and A.J. each alone with Tony, finally able to communicate with him without fear of his temper and wrath. Edie Falco, as Carmela, turns in an amazing performance as she opens her heart to Tony. He can't hear, but it doesn't matter. Carmela had things she had to say and feel and she does. She also seems to being to trying to reassure herself that he is a "good" man. She spends a bunch of time convincing herself of this as she talks to him. " You care about your friends and your family", she says. "I once told you that God was going to send you to hell, well you're not going to hell. I never should have said that, and I'm sorry. For that I will be judged." Carmela wants so badly for him to have been something that he's not, that even at this point she can convince herself that he's lived a stellar life. When A.J. is alone with Tony we start to see the new and possibly next Tony Soprano. He vows to "put a bullet in Junior's head" for what he did. The rage is eerily like that of dad and it's chilling.

It looks like next week we get to see the crew start to plan and plot one another's demise as they try and get themselves positioned for a Soprano Family without the Big S himself.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The Sopranos is Back! With Episode #1 - MEMBERS ONLY

This week HBO's hit series, The Sopranos, returned with it's first episode of what will most likely be it's final season. I hate to say it, but I was a little disappointed. Although the ending was quite a shocker, I found that the rest of the episode was mediocre. This is not to say it was bad, but The Sopranos has had some incredible episodes in the past and I was hoping that the season opener would give us one of those.

First of all, they tried to be cute by ball busting the movie industry, slyly placing "products" throughout the whole episode. The first line of the show started out with one of the FBI agents saying, "No one ever went broke, by underestimating the taste of the American public." After that we were treated to subtle and some not so subtle "advertisements" for various American delicacies like Nestles, FedEx, the Rolling Stones (a tattoo of Mick's tongue on Janice's left teat as she reluctantly nursed her new babe) and Armani to name a few.

The directing by Mr. Tim Van Patten wasn't clear enough for me. Too many lines were mumbled and thrown away, some of them very funny. I had to watch the show a second time to catch them all. They also introduced a new character, spent most of the show dealing with his story, then he whacked himself with a noose in the garage. Why the diversion? Maybe future episodes will shed some light.

What did I like? Well, Tony weighing himself, that was damn funny. He didn't like the fact that the scale read 284 lbs. so he kept shedding clothing until it got back down to a respectable 280.
Uncle Jun and Tony's last scene was great. I won't give it away here in case you haven't seen it, but it made the whole hour worth the wait. I thought that Tony and Carmela's obsession with the Japanese food restaurant was hilarious. Of course Tony had to wreck Carmela's fantasy by going there by himself for lunch one day. The little strip act that Meadow did for Fin wasn't bad. Not bad at all. They really used the nice gams camera angle a lot with Dr. Melfi. I can't believes she wears those skirts when she sees Tony. She is frickin nuts! Bobby's train set in the garage was quite humorous. I sense an immanent loss of life for that poor goomba.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Foothill's URINETOWN is a Gas

Jay Manley worked his magic again in Foothill's winter show and staged a hugely entertaining version of URINETOWN - The Musical. The show closed on Sunday so if you missed it your out of luck. Everything about it was top notch, from the opening number to the end when the whole cast cries out, "Hail Malthus!". (Malthus was some dude a long time ago who posited that it's useless for the poor to rise up because they'd fail anyway, or something like that. ) And, because Urinetown isn't just like any other musical, in the end, it fully agrees with Malthus. It's odd that you find yourself happy and laughing at this news.

I can't say enough about this cast. The energy, talent, vocal precision and acting chops that they all showed was truly inspiring. Of course, Cathy's musical and vocal direction was wonderful. I even noticed the cast giving a tongue in cheek nod to her "DICTION!" pet peeve. Near the end of the show I heard a couple of unnamed cast members utter a few "ground-uhs". Tyler's choreography was stellar as always. The dance number in "Snuff that Girl" and its tribute to "Cool" in "West Side Story" brought the audience to a near frenzy.

Thank you all so much for giving us this wonderful gift. It's exciting to have so many talented friends.

Prediction: This show will sweep those Theatre Bay Area Critics Awards next year or I'm The Bunny.

P.S. - It's now official: SHANE Olbourne is a triple threat.

Friday, March 10, 2006

24 on Fox - Great but Ridiculous

I am totally hooked on the Fox program "24". I have been since season one. A number of people I have talked to hate the show because the premise is so stupid. There in no way in hell that so much could happen in the space of 24 hours. Or perhaps, only in hell could it happen, not on this planet.

Anyway, here are some little observations I made from last weeks show.

  1. President Logan has 3 piercings in his left ear! Near the end of the two hour episode when Martha (the first lady) was forgiving him for having written her death warrant, you could clearly see them. They tried to cover them up with make-up, but were not successful. The actor's name is Gregory Itzin. Guess what? He received theatrical training at The American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco, where he also was a company member. That explains it. He's from the CITY! He must be a wack job. I'm kidding of course, being from San Francisco myself. But come on!! A middle aged President of the United States with earrings!! We can understand blow-jobs in the white house, but not earrings. NO WAY. In the photo you can see a photo of Mr Itzin with his earrings in. He seems to be pointing at them, in fact.
  2. How many times can one guy get his head nearly blown off and recover in a few hours? Com on!! Last season Tony Almeida got shot in the neck and nearly died. He recovered within a few hours and turned into an X-Man. Now this season, he gets the whole frickin' left side of his head smashed, and he wakes up a few hours later ready to go on a rampage. What a stud!
  3. They killed my favorite character! Edgar Styles, played by Louis Lombardi is dead! The poor schmuck just missed getting into the sealed up "situation room" in time to avoid the lethal nerve gas. We could see him fall to his death through the windows of the said room. Well, actually he didn't really fall. He sort of knelt down. The poor guy weighs about 400 lbs. so falling is not really an option. Damn, I liked him. He was on a few episodes of the Sopranos in seasons past. Maybe they'll bring him back and then wack him there too.
  4. I am so happy that Lynn McGill (aka Sean Astin, aka Sam from 'Lord of the Rings') seems to be meeting his demise. What an ass this guy is. Good acting Sean!
  5. Kim is back. O well. At least she looks good.
  6. Robocop is the head bad dude!! Yes, Peter Weller is back and he's bad, maybe. We'll have to wait and see. But when Jack shot his wife in the leg to get the guy to talk, that was a little much. He says, "she'll be able to walk again, don't worry, I shot her above the knee cap!" What a guy, that Jack. He shot her above the knee cap. Good 'ole Jack.

Friday, March 03, 2006


While walking along the beach in Acapulco an elderly gentleman with an Argentinean accent told me that he just saw a snake swimming around in the shallow surf. He saw that I had a camera and thought I might want to snap a photo. I searched for about five minutes and found nothing. He quickly became concerned that I thought he was just a crazy old man who was seeing things. As I was about to give up, I looked down to see that I was nearly stepping on the thing! I don't know whether it was poisonous or not. Gladly I didn't find out. In my panic I somehow snapped this photo. Does anyone know what brand of serpent this is? Posted by Picasa

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Fighting the Bulls

We recently returned from a vacation in Acapulco, Mexico. They still fight bulls there although the locals don't seem to be very interested. The stadium held ten thousand, and on the Sunday afternoon that we attended there were about four hundred people who showed up. Mostly the crowd consisted of friends and family of that day's bull fighters, tourists like me who paid way too much for front row seats, and various others like the little band that played the Mexican music.

Bull fighting is a strange art. It's terribly cruel and brutal. The bull is tortured for about thirty minutes before he is put out of his misery. Even the part where they finish him off takes too long. Most countries have outlawed the nine hundred year old tradition, but a few like Mexico and Spain still allow it.

When the first bull ran in that night, I immediately pictured his future: bleeding, and gasping for air, on his knees. My imagination stood in sharp contrast to the animal I saw before me: powerful, confused, scared, aggressive. My compassion for his upcoming plight was almost overwhelming.

One guy did so well that the official awarded him the ear. So he made his rounds holding the ear up with pride as the blood ran down his wrist, staining his green and gold, majestic costume.

One of the final acts of a bull fight is when the matador stabs the bull with a long sword and pushes it in deep between the front shoulder blades. Often it popped out and the boy (all but one of the matadors was about sixteen years old) had to re-stab until it took. The bull often bellowed in pain at this point. Eventually he lies down drowning in his own blood.

There is much beauty, grace and excitement involved in this game. It's not for the faint of heart. Honestly, I have had trouble falling asleep for the last couple of nights. I used to watch it on the Mexican TV channels when I was a boy in the 1970s, but there were no close-ups and I was too young to really realize what I was watching. We humans are a strange crowd. Posted by Picasa