Pop Culture Gadabout
Monday, April 04, 2005
      ( 4/04/2005 12:10:00 PM ) Bill S.  

"BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM/GONNA SHOOT YOU RIGHT DOWN" – John Lee Hooker's moanin' on the CD player; it's the start of a bright Spring week; so let's do some bullet-pointing!
  • To a onetime altar boy who left the Catholic Church decades ago, the number of plaudits for a church leader who had less and less to say to me take on the quality of, oh, I don't know – sports talk, maybe. I know that the subject consumes the lives of many men and women, but there are moments I feel perplexed by the way that it can so thoroughly supplant everything else. Just a godless heathen, I guess. In any event, another lapsed Catholic, Roy Edroso, has what seems to me the best take on the late pontiff.

  • Speakin' of March-Madness-Edged-into-April, I work in Champaign-Urbana, IL., and the ol' town's been looking a bit crazy today. Drove past a high school on my way into the office, and saw packs of teenagers wearing U. of I. tee-shirts to class. Way too much bright orange for these eyes on an early Monday morning, I thought. . .

  • Captain Spaulding is staying on top of this month's April Fools fest of movie comedies broadcast on Turner Classic Movies (every Monday, Wednesday and Friday in April). Spent some time this weekend checking out the flicks I want to sample (wish the net made their festival schedules more immediately scannable), and after my first run-through I've managed to mark down April 11 (Buster Keaton), the morning of April 15 (Abbot & Costello wannabes Brown & Carney), the morning of April 18 (Eddie Cantor), April 22 a.m. (a slew of Wheeler & Woolsey) plus the morning of April 29 (Marie Dressler & Polly Duran, who later played the married forewoman in Adam's Rib). Early morning seems to be the time when TCM is featuring its less well remembered movie comedians, though many of these entries are the ones I'm personally most interested in viewing. No matter how much I continue to love Laurel & Hardy or the Marxes (and I do) – and enjoy re-watching their movies, catching more obscure comedians at their peak can be provide plenty of pleasure. And if it's a choice between viewing one of Dressler & Duran's better comedies over a skippable piece of Marxiana like The Big Store, then I'm goin' with the ladies. . .

  • Back in the 70's, when yours truly was a scraggly-haired grad student, I had housemates who were heavily attached to Telly Savalas' Kojak. We may've been a bunch of freaks, but we still loved toughguy cop shows – Koj, Ironsides, et al – in part out of campy appreciation for these reactionary icons, but mainly because onscreen hard-assedness can be fun in ways that real-life exemplars of it aren't. (Once underwent a police interview conducted by an investigator who did not hide his scorn for the squishy social service counselor type that I repped – and it was not a pleasant experience.) I wasn't a big fan of Kojak, but I couldn't help knowing it. Truth be told, I was more of a Baretta fan.

    Watched the first two eps of U.S.A.'s updating of the show over the weekend, though: Ving Rhames has the requisite toughness for the role, but I miss Savalas' barking delivery. (You really notice it when Rhames calls out for "Crocker!") The new Theo Kojak is the son of an old jazz man (we get to see Rhames listening to platters of his old man's outfit in the two-hour premiere movie) and a considerably snappier dresser than his forbearer. But he still does repeated bits of bizness with that lollipop, which is featured with heavy-handed literalness in the show's opening credits.

    As cop shows go, the series is calculatedly retro in its approach: maverick, rule-bending cop gets the job done, often by going off on his own instead of relying on his peers. In last night's episode, for instance, our hero walked into a hostage situation before the negotiators even arrive because, well, because he's Kojak, that's why! With so many modern day procedurals emphasizing the team approach to police work, I'm guessing there's still an audience for this kinda overly familiar gerne piece. Bet my old housemates would've loved it. . .

  • Personal distractions have kept me from hitherto mentioning a comic project I shamefacedly admit to anticipating – if only because it sounds so goofy: UK comics publishers AP Comics' upcoming series of Mr. T Comics. I have no familiarity with the work of either scriptwriter Richard Brunton or artist Neil Edwards (very steroidal, but how could it not be?) but I'm still attracted to the idea of a comic series about Mister T – and not just out of campy appreciation for this reactionary icon either. . .

  • As for aforementioned the p.d.s, I will briefly note that we're near to finishing work on our house next door – and indicate that selling trades on Amazon netted me more quick money than selling via auction on eBay. For those of you interested in the deeper personal existential crisis stuff, I've added a link on the right to my personal blog.
So much for that. More later.

(Background Music for This Round of Bullet Pointing: Rhino's The Very Best of John Lee Hooker, "Big Legs, Tight Skirt" indeed!)
# |

Pop cultural criticism - plus the occasional egocentric socio/political commentary by Bill Sherman (popculturegadabout AT yahoo.com).

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