Friday, June 29, 2007

Thanks, CBS, But I'll Pass

Even if the annoying Julie Chen (whose husband runs the network - NEVER FORGET THAT whenever you watch her) weren't running the show, I'd steer clear of this year's "Big Brother" for this very reason:
On premiere night, Thursday, July 5 (8:00-9:00 PM, ET/PT), Houseguests will learn that some of them will be sharing the house with an enemy, a rival or someone with whom they have unfinished business -- in short, someone from their past who they had hoped never to see again or someone with whom there is an extreme amount of tension.

Nothing like light, happy summer viewing, huh, CBS? My TV's staying off, as promised.

Class Trip In Session

Haven't plugged Class Trip, five-piece band led by two former bandmates of mine, Jesse Frack and Mary Buck, in a while, so go to their website to see what they're up to. Most immediately, they will be at the Lighthouse on Route 9 in Waretown tomorrow evening.

I think we last mentioned Class Trip in this blog when I sat in with them one night at the old Caffrey's Silverton Hub (long gone, replaced now by Mulligan's).

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

So When IS Batfink Being Released, Anyway?

Shout! Factory is still maintaining a July 3 street date while Amazon is still posting a July 10 date. We'll see when it shows up in my mailbox, as part of a massive order of Five Cartoon Videos You Can't Do Without This Summer.

I'd still like to see Shout! Factory hire the guy who writes its ad copy for its website. Or at least acknowledge where the hell the words came from in the first place. Where I work, we call that... um.... plagiarism....

7234 - This One Hurts. A Lot.

The Mets have yet again lost their first no-hit opportunity for one of their pitchers, this time off a cheap-ass Scott Rolen infield hit.

Glavine will yet lead us to the promised land.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Dr. Luke Has Left The Building

And that building is the GE Building, where "Saturday Night Live" is produced 20 weeks out of the year. Dr. Luke, of course, is guitarist Lukasz Gottwald, whose career as songwriter and producer (think "Since U Been Gone" for Kelly Clarkson) has now overtaken playing in the late night show's band. So, after ten years, the guitar chair is vacant again.

The foregoing is not based on any inside information, but just wishful, fannish thinking (even a 46-year-old is entitled to such thoughts).

G.E. Smith needs to reclaim his birthright and get back in the band.

When G.E. was hired as the guitar player in 1985, the band suddenly had a face and a personality. So much so that he was named co-musical director (with Cheryl Hardwick) the next year. The band was moved to center stage and director Davey Wilson did bumpers after almost every show segment with the band, something unheard of up to that point. G.E. and his bass player, the trusty Tom Wolk, were as much a part of the fabric of the show as Dana Carvey and the late Phil Hartman, the show's hot comics of the time.

Take away G.E. beginning in the 1995 season, and the band loses that. (Do you even remember who replaced Geege that first year? It was Jane Getter for a couple of weeks, then Yoshiko Hirashige.)

We'll see how this all plays out in late September, but of course, the ultimate decision is with those entrusted with SNL's music heritage, Lenny Pickett and Leon Pendarvis.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Last Remnant Of The Swing Revival

Yes, unfortunately, the Swing Revival is pretty much dead. Just don't tell Brian Setzer.

The artist who made the biggest waves of the mid-late 90's swing music revival with a regulation-size big band and a huge revival of Louis Prima's "Jump, Jive an' Wail" is set to tour again during the Holidays with his Christmas show. The only New Jersey stop this year is at the Count Basie Theatre on November 20. (No House of Blues this year. Sorry.)

Not only that, but Setzer is also busy wrapping up a new BSO album tentatively titled "Cuttin' Classical" (EDIT: eventually titled "Wolfgang's Big Night Out" featuring arrangements by the legendary Frank Comstock) in which the big band tackles more classical music, in the vein of "The Nutcracker Suite" (which was actually based on a Frank Comstock arrangement for Stan Kenton). Then he's going to tour with the Stray Cats. That's right - Setzer is back with Lee Rocker and Slim Jim Phantom to give you that 80's groove and the rockabilly you crave.

I've actually lost track of how many times I've seen the Brian Setzer Orchestra. I'm thinking six, the most recent of which was with Tracy at the House of Blues last December. I even went to go see them while recovering from one of my retina surgeries, in 1998. It was my first time back behind the wheel since my surgery. It's a miracle I didn't get into an accident because my driving wasn't as sharp as usual - try it with one eye and you'll see why - but the show was great and we all had such a great time it was worth the risk.

But you will enjoy the holiday shows. The Setzer group is as tight as ever with many key personnel still around like Bernie Dresel, Spazz, Rob Hioki (kickass bass trombonist) and background vocalist Julie Reiten (who, not coincidentally, is the current Mrs. Brian Setzer).

Thursday, June 14, 2007

School's Out For Summer

Yes, we made it through another year. Of course, now you'll start seeing back-to-school ads.

This website will be taking two vacations: one at the end of June, and one at the end of August. So don't freak out if the No-Hitter Count has not been increased. (Of course, it would help if the Mets started actually winning games again.)

The June vacation has been scrapped. Sorry, you gotta put up with me.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Mets: Now It's Your Turn

Justin Verlander has just pitched a no-hitter for the Detroit Tigers. It is the first no-hitter for the Tigers in 23 years.

Mets fans have had to wait almost twice as long as that and we're still waiting. And we're damn sick of it.

One of you Mets pitchers want to step up and prevent more embarrassment than the 7220 games we've endured so far without such a feat?

Sunday, June 10, 2007

I Must Have Been Desperate!

I was actually watching some of "America's Funniest Home Videos" the other night, in spite of claims I was not going to watch TV this summer. I was struck by three things:
  • Tom Bergeron could host brain surgery and make it interesting. The man is simply one of the best there is.
  • The video quality is much better than in years past, where ABC editors were desperately trying to bring VHS tapes up to broadcast quality. Now with digital video, you can actually see butt crack when Junior's pants fall down.
  • Isn't this what YouTube is for?

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Here And Now Still Fun

Played Monopoly Here And Now again tonight.

Won again when everyone wound up landing on my hotel-adorned Times Square.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Mark Evanier Gives Two Guys The Finger

Sounds like something I did in 1982.

But we're actually talking about the annual Bill Finger Award, bestowed on two comic book writing legends. The award is named for the original writer of Batman comics.

This year's recipients are the late Gardner Fox and the very much alive George Gladir. Fox was a fellow writer for National Comics along with Finger, while Gladir still contributes stories for Archie Comics and is bearing down on fifty years service with the company, and for many of those years he was the head writer for Cracked Mazagine.

And just a thought. Wouldn't it have been nice to make it an all-Archie parlay and give the award designated for the deceased comics writer to Frank Doyle? Man, back in the day there was nothing like a good Archie story written by Doyle and drawn by Dan DeCarlo or Harry Lucey.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Playing With The Kids

Last week, when I told Frank Hughes I was coming to the High School North jazz ensemble concert, he had a proviso - "wear a loud shirt and bring your horn." Hmm. Guess I'm going to be watching from the stage, I thought.

When I got to HSN at 7:00 pm, correctly dressed and presumably a half hour early, I found the whole band on stage, ready to go. Whoops! Bungled the time. I did get my horn out and Frank pulled me the third trombone book (as this group only has two bones, the whole rationale for Frank having me sit in).

We had a wonderful concert. Some of the kids are great soloists, and you could hear Frank's voice choke up as he was having to introduce his four-year players for the final time. Frank's daughter Kelly sang some songs, including the familiar Natalie Cole version of Milton Delugg's "Orange Colored Sky" that we in the Brass Tacks regularly cursed, and a gorgeous new version of "My Funny Valentine" arranged by the great Dave Wolpe. Frank even got out his trumpet and took a solo turn on "What Is Hip?", the classic by Tower of Power, bolstered by a number of HSN band alumni including sax player Frank Hughes Jr.

None of my former students were in the group (maybe in a few years that will change), but I did recognize one of Fred Oltarzewski's boys on bari sax (I actually go way back with the Oltarzewskis, knowing Fred's brother John since high school) and of course the massively talented Neil Foglio on standup and electric bass.

It was a fun night. Frank, thanks for the opportunity, and see you at the races!

Friday, June 01, 2007

7210: What Might Have Been!

Okay, so Mr. El Duque gave up a couple of first inning hits. But he was brilliant after that, and the only other hit was given up by Smith when he went into relief of Hernandez. If Mr. El Duque hadn't given up those two hits in the first, the Mets might have had a chance at the big no-no that has now eluded them for 46 seasons.

HEY RUSSO! Your beloved Giants couldn't get it done against the Mets! Isn't it time you saw the writing on the wall?