Category Archives: Entertainment

100 Greatest Sports Movies?

Y’all know that I like list posts; truthfully, who doesn’t? Many of them leave us having great debates, although I’ll admit that I wasn’t really expecting much debate when I wrote my opera post. Be that as it may, when we know what the topic is, we love debating it, and I think there should be a few people around ready to talk about this one.


Baseball Night In America
by J. Ryan Wall

Only it’s not my list. I got this list from a site called the Bleacher Report, which writes only about sports stuff, and they got together and put out what they called The 100 Greatest Sports Movies Of All Time. It’s an interesting list, especially because some of the movies aren’t sports related at all; what the hey? Still, they’ve got a list, and it was pretty ambitious. Way more ambitious than I’m ready to be, so I’m only going to comment on their top ten; this isn’t going to be pretty.

No. 10: Slapshot – this is a movie about a rogue minor league hockey team, and you’d think I would like it more because it was filmed right here in Syracuse. But it was filmed before I got here, and even with Paul Newman it just got on my nerves.

No. 9: Hoop Dreams – this was actually a documentary that followed two kids for many years that had dreams of becoming professional basketball players; no, they didn’t make it. Roger Ebert really loved this movie; once again, I didn’t get into it.

No. 8: Caddyshack – one of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen, even if it was surrounding golf, a sport I don’t like all that much except for Tiger Woods (now don’t start with me). It had Rodney Dangerfield in one of his best performances and Chevy Chase and Bill Murray at a time when not only were both at the top of their game, but they had to bury the hatchet to make this movie together. And it had the gopher; ’nuff said.

No. 7: The Natural – one of my favorite movies of all time; if I’m turning the channels and it’s on I stop what I’m doing and watch it until it’s over. It’s a baseball movie about a guy who gets derailed as a young player and comes back many years later and shows everyone he’s a star, only because they didn’t have 24/7 access to TV or sports back then no one remembers who he was. This is a beautiful movie, start Robert Redford, and you’ll love it whether you like sports or not.

No. 6: Rocky – I’m actually surprised this was so low on their list. Like everyone else, I had no idea who Sylvester Stallone was, but I knew who Burgess Meredith was, though I only knew him as the Penguin from Batman; now that’s a shame! There can’t be anyone who has no clue who Rocky is, so I’ll just leave it with this: “Adrian!!!”

No. 5: Bull Durham – I liked this movie, but for the life of me I really can’t figure out why so many sports guys think it’s so great. Sure, it had Kevin Costner before he started irritating all of us, along with Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins (who hooked up and lived 19 years or so with each other), but as a baseball movie I keep thinking there were better performances, or at least other movies that touched or entertained me more.

No. 4: Rudy – never saw this one, and I haven’t been compelled either. I just know it’s the supposedly true story of a team manager for Notre Dame that got to play in a game; maybe someone else can enlighten me and tell me why I need to see this.

No. 3: Raging Bull – now this is what I’m talking about. A movie about the one time middleweight champion of the world Jake LaMotta, it was one of the best performances by any actor in history, and in this case it was Robert DeNiro. He had to first get into great shape for the boxing scenes, then gain more than 60 pounds to play the same character as an older guy; it was the first time any actor did that. And it was filmed in black and white; great stuff. The funny thing is that the real Vicki LaMotta was prettier than the actress who played her; that rarely happens.

No. 2: Field Of Dreams – another baseball movie, and once again one that has never really captured me; my favorite baseball movie, very apparent now, is The Natural. But almost everyone knows this line, even if they don’t remember it came from this movie: “If you build it, they will come.” Another Kevin Costner movie.

No. 1: Hoosiers – Gene Hackman won an Oscar for this movie as best actor, and that’s about the only thing I know about it because I never saw it. It’s about a small town high school basketball team in Indiana that ends up winning the state title. That’s all I’ve got.

Anyway, that’s my commentary on someone else’s list. Of course you know that within the next couple of months I’ll be putting together my own list of top whatever number of sports movies I determine I need. And you can bet my top 10 list will have some “real” football movies on it; yeah I said it!

The Natural



Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2010 Mitch Mitchell

Skyline – The Review

Last weekend I mentioned that I couldn’t wait for Friday night because I was going to see the movie Skyline. Well, my friend Scott and I did go see this movie last night, and I decided to write a review of it without giving any of the plot away… I hope.

Truthfully, we knew we were in trouble when it took almost a minute to get through all those notifications of producers and studioes before anything got going. What we didn’t know is that the movie would only last about 90 minutes and never really go anywhere; well, at least I had some candy.

The basic premise of Skyline is that one morning at 4:37AM these blue streams of light start dropping out of the sky. Next thing you know, anyone who’s looking at these lights has the veins in their body start popping and they’re drawn to the light, with the next thing occurring is their being sucked into one of tens of alien ships that are hovering around somewhere.

The movie starts out that way, no preamble… and then it goes into flashback mode, 15 hours before that. What the hey? Not only that, but the flashback doesn’t set anything up really, and it only lasts about 10 minutes before we’re back to the lights again, only this time with a mix of what we saw earlier and what was going on that we didn’t see, but now know what’s coming.

From this point on we have fear and we have aliens. There are big aliens, smaller aliens, small flying aliens and the super large alien ships. The two early heroes watch as thousands of bodies are sucked into the ships, and for whatever reason they’re able to look at the light from a distance and not turn into something that’s going to get sucked in.

Everything takes place in one building, although when the military starts fighting back, we get to see planes and helicopters trying to take on these things. Only they’re indestructible. I just have to throw this one out. A stealth fighter hits one of the large alien ships with a nuclear warhead missile. You know that because of the way everything around explodes upon impact. The ship actually goes down, and there’s this large shockwave coming… only it doesn’t break any windows, there’s no fallout, and no radiation. And the ship puts itself back together. Later a guy is able to knock the glass out of another window with his elbow. A nuclear explosion can’t break glass, but an elbow can? Oh yeah; the ship that got blown up… it puts itself back together again, as does every alien that gets creamed by a missile or machine guy or bazooka or… whatever.

The only thing left to talk about is the ending of the movie. I’m not going to give it away, but I will say it was one of the stupidest endings I’ve ever seen to a movie. Scott asked while we were leaving the movie what it was about; I honestly don’t know. It had no real purpose; I guess they figured if there was a real alien attack that there wouldn’t be any conversation at all. Then again, if there was a real alien attack with ships this large I’m betting the military would have known it, we’d have all been told to leave the big cities, and maybe so many people wouldn’t have been killed at all. I mean, as kids we had air raid warnings going all over the place and practiced hiding under tables, both day and night. Not a single warning that there’s an alien invasion coming? Nothing on TV? Please!

I do have to add this. The budget for this movie was only $10 million, and most of the money had to go into the aliens, some of which looked pretty cool. The writing was bad, the storyline was bad, and no one looked particularly great. And one of whom I thought was one of the stars of the movie gets killed early, and of course it’s the black guy, and he was the only person in the movie I knew. Oh yeah; early in the movie the people in the movie think the water is safe, so that’s why they try to get to the water. I was thinking Signs at this juncture, but at the end of the movie you see that anyone who was in the water was killed as well.

I was trying to think of the last time I eagerly wanted to see a movie that failed like this; I can’t. I guess my string of picking winners is over; have to start anew. Skip this one, or wait until it comes on TV; don’t even rent it. You’ll hate yourself if you do. But if you’re not going to listen to me and are thinking about purchasing it anyway, then buy
Skyline from me. 😉
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2011-2015 Mitch Mitchell

My Top 10 Favorite Operas

Every once in awhile I like to put together a post like this one. Most of the time they don’t get a lot of comments because, well, I figure that folks may look at something like this as taking a lot of time, and I know that the particular style of music or movie doesn’t fit everyone.


Opera Singer by Cliff

So why do I do them? Two reasons.

One, because I have lots of interests, and I like to share my thoughts on things every once in awhile.

Two, because I like to consider myself kind of a renaissance guy, and I know a lot of people wouldn’t think that I would be the type of guy to like some of the things I do. I don’t know why not, though; after all, I did do a post showing my 19 favorite classical pieces, my top 10 disco favorites, and my 13 favorite singers, and on the first and third some of what’s below is repeated.

Why opera?

First, I was a music and history major in college, and I grew to enjoy opera a lot while in college, probably because of music history class, where we had to listen to all sorts of songs and be able to give all sorts of information about what we were listening to.

Second, as I listened to a lot of this stuff, I realized just how many of these songs were in the Warner Brothers cartoons I grew up watching and loving.

Third, my dad loved classical music and loved to sing, and every once in awhile he’d be watching opera on TV and I’d sit and listen with him. Whenever I’m on the road, the day I come home always starts with an opera in the early morning, and when it’s done then it’s time for something upbeat. But opera always comes first. 🙂

Did I always know what was going on? Not even close! Sometimes I did, and when I started going to operas, they’d have the lyrics posted above the stage so you can kind of follow along. You see in English what they’re saying in other languages. I’ll tell you the truth, most of the time I love the choruses more than the solo performances, probably because I was in a choir, and my dad loved choir music a lot.

What you see below are my top 10 favorites, in reverse order. I’m not giving the kind of detail I often do with these things, but I will tell a few stories before I start.

For instance, the reason Carmen is at the top of my list is because it’s the first opera I ever saw live.

Porgy & Bess is here because I knew a lot of songs from it before I ever knew it was an opera, and almost all black people at the same time; imagine my surprise at that one.

Lohengrin is on here because I had always planned on having a chorus at my wedding singing the Wedding March, which comes from it, but of course that didn’t happen.

Hansel & Gretel is the first opera I ever remember seeing on TV, and I watched it with my dad.

Most of the rest… well, I love the love stories in operas, even though they don’t usually end well, and most of these are, to a degree, love stories. The Mikado; it just makes me laugh.

Who says I don’t have culture? Anyway, that’s that; enjoy!

10. Tristan & Isolde


https://youtu.be/OAEkTK6aKUM

9. Otello (Kiri Te Kanawa)


https://youtu.be/0EtH3ErPaHo

8. Madame Butterfly (movie)


https://youtu.be/XcQNjV-YSiM

7. Romeo & Juliet


https://youtu.be/VpYXKgg-oWo

6. HMS Pinafore

https://youtu.be/zRhdtpWmzi4

5. Hansel & Gretel


https://youtu.be/-TstW0w3xFc

4. Lohrengrin (wedding march)


https://youtu.be/oqp6zinI7ok

3. Porgy and Bess

(On this one, if you remember the TV show The Jeffersons, the lead singer here was the second Lionel, before they went back to the original for the last year)

2. The Mikado


https://youtu.be/1NLV24qTnlg

1. Carmen


https://youtu.be/K2snTkaD64U

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2016 Mitch Mitchell

We Are The World, Revisited

A couple of days ago I was walking on the track at the gym when a song came on the MP3 player that gave me chills. Even though the anniversary was in January, 25 years ago the song We Are The World came out, with the intention of helping to feed and take care of people in Africa who were going through one of the worst famines in history. Unfortunately, many of them are still going through it, but that doesn’t mean this effort was wasted.

As I listened to this song my mind went back to remembering the day that song was released, along with the video, and all the star power that got together to create that bad boy. There was something that was almost like it before, the Do They Know It’s Christmas song in the UK, but when it came to true music power, the second song couldn’t be touched. And Bob Geldof, who had started the UK movement, was there as well.

Of course it had to be written by my boy Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie, and produced by Quincy Jones. I remember watching the “making of” video also, where the proclamation “leave your egos at the door” was posted. And it would have been easy for many people in that room to assume they were the stars of the event, even Michael Jackson, but I’ve always believed that no one but Michael Jackson and Quincy Jones could have gotten all those people together after the American Music Awards, which I watched, not knowing these people were getting together later that evening and, for many hours, were putting this thing together.

Okay, here’s some stats for you to prove my point on just how special this gathering was:

Michael Jackson – Please!

Lionel Richie – ASCAP award, 4 Grammys, an Oscar, Image Award, Gershwin Prize, 13 American Music Awards (AMA), Golden Globe, 4 People’s Choice Awards

Stevie Wonder – 3 ASCAP awards, an Oscar, BAFTA award, Golden Globe, TV Land award, 25 Grammys, Songwriter’s Hall of Fame, Rock Hall of Fame, Billboard Century Award, Gershwin Prize

Paul Simon – 12 Grammys, 2 AMA’s, inducted twice into the Hall of Fame, Kennedy Honor, 39 BMI Awards

Kenny Rogers – 3 Grammys, 10 Country Music Association awards, 13 American Music Awards

Tina Turner – 8 Grammys, Hall of Fame

Billy Joel – 6 honorary doctorates, 5 Grammys, 1 Tony, 1 AMA, Hall of Fame

Diana Ross – 6 AMAs, 2 Grammys, 1 Golden Globe, 1 Tony, 1 NAACP award, Billboard female entertainer of century (twice!), Kennedy Center award, Hall of Fame

Dionne Warwick – 5 Grammys, 3 Grammy Hall of Fame awards (induction of songs performed by the artist), 1st People’s Choice Award for best female singer, NAACP Image Award, 1 AMA, 1 Billboard, ASCAP Lifetime Achievement and Heroes Award, Songwriters Hall of Fame

Willie Nelson – 12 Grammys, 7 Country Music Awards, 7 AMAs, 5 Academy of Country Music awards, TNN Music City News Minnie Pearl Award & Living Legend Award, Country Music Hall of Fame

Al Jarreau – 7 Grammys, 2 NAACP awards

Bruce Springsteen – 20 Grammys, 2 Golden Globes, 2 Emmys, 1 Oscar, Hall of Fame, Songwriter’s Hall of Fame, Kennedy Honors

Kenny Loggins – 1 Grammy

Daryl Hall & John Oates – 3 AMA’s, Songwriter’s Hall of Fame

Huey Lewis – 5 AMAs, 2 Grammys

Cyndi Lauper – 2 AMA, 1 Grammy, 1 MTV Video Award

Kim Carnes – 2 Grammys, Songwriter’s Hall of Fame

Bob Dylan – 11 Grammys, 6 Grammys, 2 Grammy Hall of Fame awards, Rock Hall of Fame, 1 Oscar, 1 Golden Globe, 2 honorary doctorates, Songwriter’s, Kennedy Honors, Pulitzer

Ray Charles – 17 Grammys, 6 Grammy Hall of Fame awards, NAACP Image Award Hall of Fame, Hall of Fame, Kennedy Award, Grammy Lifetime Achievement, R&B Foundation Hall of Fame, National Medal of Arts, Jazz Hall of Fame, Polar Music Prize

Harry Belafonte – 4 Grammy’s, Emmy, Kennedy Award, Hollywood Film Award, Tony, National Medal or Arts, Grammy Lifetime Achievement, BET Humanitarian Award, Impact Award

Bob GeldofKnighthood, Freeman of the Borough of Swale, Beacon Fellowship Prize, Honorary Patronage of the University Philosophical Society, North-South Prize, Free Your Mind Award at the MTV Europe Music Awards, Man of Peace Award, Lyndon Baines Johnson Moral Courage Award by Holocaust Museum in Houston, Cinema for Peace Pioneer Award, nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize, Nichols-Chancellor’s Medal from Vanderbilt University for his humanitarian efforts, Lifetime Achievement Award from ROTA.

Waylon Jennings – 4 CMAs, 2 Grammy’s, 1 ACM, Country Hall of Fame, ACM Cliffie Stone Pioneer Award

Bette Midler – 4 Grammys, 3 Emmys, 4 Golden Globes, 9 American Comedy Awards, 2 People’s Choice, Ruby Award, Tony, Crystal Awards

Smokey Robinson – 3 Grammys, Soul Train Heritage Award for Career Achievement, Hall of Fame, Kennedy Award, National Medal of Arts

Man, it just doesn’t get any better than that, and I left people out who have won other awards. We Are The World was the top selling single in history with more than 20 million copies sold and it raised $63 million for famine relief, and it’s presently the 5th best selling single. It won 3 Grammys, an American Music Award and a People’s Choice award. The video for the song won a Grammy as well.

And now, We Are The World:


https://youtu.be/9AjkUyX0rVw

 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2010-2016 Mitch Mitchell

My Top 10 Disco Favorites Plus One

If most of us are products of the era we grew up in during our formulative years, then I’m a product of the disco era. Even though I was quite cognizant of war, civil rights and the like, I came into my own when disco became prominent. I remember loving Rock Your Baby the first time I heard it, and I never looked back. Sure, there was other music I enjoyed, but disco is what made me move, made me feel really good.

Later on there were a lot of people who said they hated disco, but I was always of the opinion that they said they hated it because it seemed to be in vogue. After all, I was in college during some of those years, and they’d have parties on the floor. What I noticed during one party, in which I refused to participate because I didn’t drink beer and I hated smoking and rock music at the time, is that people stood around and talked and did nothing else. One night on my own floor I decided I didn’t want to hear all that noise anymore, so I put on my disco records and turned it up loud. Within 10 minutes someone was knocking on my door, and when I opened it they asked if I could keep my door open because they wanted to hear what I was playing. And shortly afterwards, everyone was dancing and the rock music was gone. One thing guys never understood back then, and I’m not sure they understand now, is that girls love to dance.

With that said I decided to put one of my compilation posts together and highlight my 10 favorite songs of the era, with one added song that wasn’t of the era, but is about the era. This was hard because I could have selected 50 songs. But these 10 were the ones that got me up every time, and even now when I hear them in the car I jack the base up and my wife knows why. And she loves them as well; both children of the same era. Some of these I have stories for, others I just loved the song. Any for many of you too young to know some of these songs, I’m betting you’ve heard them in your favorite commercials.

If You Could Read My Mind – Stars On 54; this wasn’t a real group, and it wasn’t from the disco era. But it was from the movie 54, about the famous club in NYC back in the disco era, and I’ve loved this song from the first time I heard it. Of course it’s a remake of a Gordon Lightfoot song that I also liked a lot.

Boogie Oogie Oogie – A Taste of Honey, and my first introduction into the reality that there were women who played instruments and got down with the best of them. Who could resist that bass line; not me!

Staying Alive – Bee Gees; by the time this song came out we were ready for a revolution. John Travolta was already big on Welcome Back Kotter, and this showed him and the music in a different light. What disco didn’t have a multi-colored dance floor once this movie came out?

Turn The Beat Around – Vicki Sue Robinson; I don’t have a tale for this one, and I have no idea why I love it so much.

Play That Funky Music – Wild Cherry; are there too many more distinctive opening riffs than the one for this song? I have to admit that it wasn’t for at least 10 years that I learned these guys weren’t black; shows how I never paid attention to the lyrics of a song that I actually knew all the lyrics to.

Car Wash – Rose Royce; I heard this song around the time the movie came out, and the combination of the two cemented it in my mind. Of course, the movie was fairly stupid, but it had some big name performers in it, including Richard Pryor.

I Love The Nightlife – Alicia Bridges; here’s another song where I’m not really sure why it meant so much to me, except that I love how she says “disco round”.

Ain’t No Stopping Us Now – McFadden & Whitehead; the first time I heard this song I knew it was something different, something inspirational, and I pull it out from time when I feel I need a mental boost.

Shake Your Body Down To The Ground – Jacksons; come on, Michael Jackson and his brothers after all! I actually saw them in concert a month after this song hit #1, but my friend and I, being stupid, left a little early to try to beat the traffic home and missed them performing this song, a mistake I didn’t make a second time when I saw them in Buffalo 4 years later.

We Are Family – Sister Sledge; I loved this song a lot already, but then it was the theme song for the 1979 baseball champion Pittsburgh Pirates, when I was a big fan, and thus it worked its way deeper into my heart as my second favorite disco song.

Last Dance – Donna Summer; I loved Donna Summer, and I love Donna Summer now. This song almost seems to have been the last song of the disco era as well, but my mind is probably romanticizing that. It came from the movie Thank God It’s Friday, so technically it’s not a Donna Summer song, but no one else could have pulled it off and made it such a great song from a mediocre movie.

Disco Fever:
Turn The Beat Around



Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2010 Mitch Mitchell