Friday, December 23, 2011
Like Barry Manilow before him, Michael Buble can't leave well enough alone, when it comes to orchestrating a roster of musical compositions to perform live on stage.
Though a fan of the "Copacabana" kid, tattler readers may recall that I have complained in the past about Mr. Manilow's tendency to rearrange toe-tapping hits with disastrous results.
In that respect, well, Neil Sedaka - a fave pop star of yesteryear - appears to be one of the few olden golden oldies (Johnny Mathis, too) who have managed to exercise a little musical restraint (if not plain old common sense!).
Last night, I literally cringed in my comfy critic's armchair - for instance - when Buble mangled a couple of Christmas "classics" on an NBC special in what amounted to a shamefaced attempt to "jazz" 'em up (and implant his own signature style?).
My knee-jerk reaction?
"Just warble the tunes the way they were intended, Buble, then no harm done!"
The cheeky young upstart had the audacity to try to best Bing Crosby's best-selling version of "White Christmas" with a hokey one - that not only fell flat - but way off-key, too.
Fortunately, the entertainment hour - Buble's first for the network - was not a total stinker.
In fact, Buble not only proved he could be quick on-his-feet with snappy patter - but, also - a charismatic stage presence worth reckoning with once he gets over his initial awkwardness in front of the camera (and live! audiences).
His voice is appealing and distinctive, too, though limited in range.
With a little more experience under his belt - and after working alongside a handful of seasoned professionals in the biz - just betcha he'll be able to dazzle the mainstream and pack a wallop in the process.
Well, he's no Sinatra!
Buble's a mediocre talent stumbling in the dark just waiting to bust out into the dazzling spotlight!
Can Vegas be far behind?
Thursday, December 22, 2011
"Ghost Protocol" (Mission: Impossible installment) is a loud, brash - a dozen-or-so thrills-a-minute (adrenalin pumping) - flick.
But, when it gets down to the nitty-gritty (and the savvy film buff manages to separate the slick special effects layers from the stardust), it's just the same-old same-old.
The once-wildly successful "Mission: Impossible" franchise has settled into a predictable old rut!
In fact, at times, I felt like I was hunkered down in a comfy armchair in front of the old boob tube - screening a ho-hum weekly episode - which had somehow been uncannily exploded onto the wide screen elsewhere at the movie-house by capable studio wizards seeking out pay dirt.
Ironically, when I strolled out of the AMC theatre yesterday afternoon, I spied (no pun intended) a handful of captions on a series of lacklustre in-your-face promotional billboards that the producers had rustled up for public consumption in the subterranean tunnels of Bart which said it all.
No entertainment value, either, folks!
In recent weeks, there was a lot of "ta do" about Tom Cruise - and his death-defying spectacular stunts, in particular; but, in the final analysis, it was just a lot of heavy-handed smoke-and-mirrors hype orchestrated to maneuver ticket-holders into the vacant seats.
Pedestrian, at best!
And, what a pat ending.
If one of the "suits" at the studio had taken at least one creative writing course in College, he (or she) may have been able to fathom up an end scenario with a little more ingenuity than that!
Even Jeremy Renner - capable of turning in an Oscar-calibre performance now-and-then - sleep-walked through this turkey (while the rest of the bored cast gobbled up the overcooked stuffing nonetheless).
Obviously, Mr. Renner chose the vehicle in a bold-faced (egotistical) effort to catapult himself into the realms of mainstream fluff, with sugar-plums and big-budget offerings at the forefront of his devious mind.
No, he's still not top dawg on the wide screen (starring) but he sure is chomping-at-the-bit to sign on the dotted line!
Even the formula filmmaking doesn't work for Tom Cruise anymore, who comes off too long in the tooth, to play a believable spy-action hero.
Justin Bieber, Denise Richards - and a few starry-eyed up-and-coming performers - appeared on "A Home for the Holidays" last night to toss the spotlight on the plight of children in dire need of foster care.
The issue - which was handled thoughtfully (and with a great deal of sensitivity) - struck a chord in me in particular; after all, I was a foster child in my youth when I was being raised in the suburbs of Toronto (Canada).
The special - which also showcased the musical talents of the gifted guests - hammered "home" one very important point worth reflecting on.
Many children around this country are without shelter or nurturing loving parents during this festive season.
At a time when this country is faced with so many troubling issues - economic hard times, homelessness among the adult population, and unemployment - foster care for the needy (and subsequent adoption efforts) should be a top priority in one of the richest Nations in the world.
Don't 'ya think?
So, with that thought in mind, I utter up this urgent thought.
If you can give the "gift" of a "home" - especially during the holiday season when the young ones should be experiencing love and joy in their sweet innocent lives - I pray that you will pick up the slack!
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
A few sat up and took notice yesterday around the blogosphere when it was reported that a Saudi Prince just invested in the "little bird that could".
Saudi Royal Alwaleed Bin Talal put his big bucks where his "tweets" were and allegedly secured a 3% stake in Twitter.
Insiders says that the influx of cash amounts to a $300 million-dollar investment for the Saudi Kingdom Holding Company which Alwakeed controls.
Alwaleed is the largest individual investor in Citigroup and has a major investment in News Corp (while monies in Apple, Inc. & General Motors trail behind).
Twitter execs - who confirmed the purchase at the beginning of the week via e-mail communication - hopes the influx of cash will help develop the social hub in leaps-and-bounds to compete with rival Facebook.
The "tweeters" have come a long way, baby!
It seems like just yesterday folks were scratching their heads and pondering how to best use twitter in their daily lives.
Now that the big-time investors have come to recognize the power of social networking the world-over, the sky is the limit for Twitter, Facebook, and others?
News at 11!
Toot your horn with tweets!
Posted by Julian Ayrs at 10:30 AM
Last evening Jews and people of all cultures gathered at Union Square to light the sacred Menorah - Mayor Lee - included.
The celebration marks the 1st day of Chanuka.
The tradition held in downtown San Francisco was first started up in 1975 by Rabbi Chaim Drizin (the Director of the Chabad in Berkeley), Zev Putterman (Program Director of KQED), and Rabbi Yosef Langer.
Shortly thereafter, rock impresario - Billy Graham (who died in a tragic airplane accident in 1991) constructed a 22-foot high mahogany Menorah which has been erected each at the annual event at the commencement of the Jewish holiday.
Memorah is a Hebrew word for Lamp and is one of the symbols of Judaism.
Jews believe that the Memorah brings light into their homes and radiates out into the streets.
By spreading goodness and kindness each holiday season, the Jewish people believe it is possible to transform the outside world and diminish (snuff out) darkness (ignorance, intolerance, and hate).
A candle will be lit each night over the next week in Union Square.
Locals and tourists alike are invited to attend what is commonly known as the Festival of Lights.
See 'ya there!
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
The word out of the Nurse's Union on Monday was that a second strike is slated at 6 Sutter-run Hospitals in the San Francisco Bay area for Thursday.
If you recall, during the last walk-out a few weeks ago, one unfortunate woman was administered treatment improperly and died as a result!
A spokesperson assured the media at press time that if striking Nurses notice any irregularities on the job as they are on leave from their duties that they will step in and avert any medical mishaps.
If you believe that, I have some great swamp land for 'ya in Florida, you betcha!
News at 11!
Posted by Julian Ayrs at 1:39 PM
Though you (and yours) may be on-the-go during the holiday season, it is not necessary to ignore adorning the environs, just because you're resting your weary head on a fluffy pillow at the local Inn!
For example, today I splurged on a "miniature" Christmas tree - and scooped up a handful of festive decorations (including a string of twinkling lights) - to add a touch of the Yuletide Season to my Hotel suite!
When I settled into my comfy bed last night, I felt like old Saint Nick was going to pop down the chimney any minute, and share a glass of milk and cookies with!
Now, if only I could only find a warm - um! - sexy bod to snuggle up to come Christmas eve!
Well, the week is still young in San Francisco, eh?
As Christmas approaches - and Carols are sung out by Merry Choristers on street corners around the country - I am reminded by a Pastor at St. Mary's Church (the 1st Cathedral in California) that the "Twelve Days of Christmas" was used to Catechize young Catholics in England from the middle of the 16th Century to the middle of the 18th Century.
Christians may recall that during that period of history, Catholics were not permitted to openly profess (or practice) their faith.
So, the Carol was written to help preserve the Catholic faith.
For example, each gift (or element) mentioned in the beautiful Carol was a "code" word that was used to help children remember the Christian story as follows:
*The partridge in the pear tree was Jesus Christ
*Two turtle doves were the Old and New Testaments
*Three French hens stood for faith, hope, and charity
*Four calling birds were four gospels of Mathew, Mark, Luke & John
*Five golden rings were the Torah or Law (5 books of old testament)
*The Six geese-a-laying stood for the six days of creation
*Seven swans-a-swimming represented sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit which were Prophesy, Serving, Teaching, Exhortation, Contribution, Leadership, and Mercy
*The Eight maids-a-milking were the eight beatitudes
*The Nine ladies dancing were the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit such as Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-Control
*The Ten lords-a-leaping were the ten commandments
*The Eleven pipers piping stood for the eleven faithful disciples
*The Twelve drummers drumming symbolized the twelve points of belief in Apostle's Creed
Praise the Almighty that this holiday Season all may practice the faith of their choice with their loved ones and that there will be Peace on Earth and Goodwill towards mankind!
Monday, December 19, 2011
Unless a celeb I'm really keen on is hosting "Saturday Night Live" that week, I usually pass on the off-the-wall antics of the gang of merry-makers, for greener late-night TV pastures elsewhere on the old boob tube.
Fortunately, I was tipped off to the fact that Jimmy Fallon - a relative newcomer to the late-night talk-show circuit - would be doing the honors.
In a nutshell?
I'm glad I popped an upper and guzzled down a swig of ale - and tuned in - because the likable stand-up comic - because Fallon turned out to be a laugh riot.
SNL never came off sounding-and-looking so good since in recent months - well, not since Lady Gaga and Justin Timberlake graced the stage at least - with their loopy off-the-wall antics a few moons ago which also garnered rave reviews from hard-line crusty old critics.
Although Fallon tends to downplay his "talent" as an "impersonator", his characterizations of well-known political and show-biz figures - for the most part - bang on.
The attractive host is quick on his feet, too.
In spite of the fact, SNL writers are notorious for delivering up hasty rewrites at curtain - unlike so many other high-profile performers - Fallon is capable of pulling the gag off without relying on cue cards off-camera to help him limp through material that is often a little ragged around the edges.
Saturday night's installment (December 17th) was tight, solid, and pretty darn satisfying.
Funny ha-ha, as seasoned professionals used to say, too.
At this juncture, I have to wonder if the rising star of the in-your-face slapstick comedy, contributed gags of his own; after all, the humor was of a higher calibre than usual - Mr. Michaels.
Will Fallon be snapping up comedy roles in big-budget comedies (in a starring capacity) in the near future?
Let's hope so, he's ripe for the golden opportunity, and so deserving!
Posted by Julian Ayrs at 11:25 AM
Sadly, I have to report that Warren Hellman - the colorful down-to-earth philanthropist who gifted the picturesque city of San Francisco with the hugely-popular "Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival" for the past dozen-or-so years (gratis) passed to spirit at the age of 77 from complications of leukemia.
Family members, friends, and business associates have been posting glowing tributes in memory of the selfless civic-minded gent on Twitter over the weekend since the news first broke.
Just last week, I noted in a post that Park Officials were in the throes of renaming "Speedway Meadow" (where the "Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival" kicked-off each year in Golden Gate) in honor of his generous contributions to the city (aforementioned in the above-captioned post).
On Thursday, when "Hellman Hollow" came into "being", it triggered memories of my own youth in rural Ontario.
During the lazy days of summer, my pals and I would often trek through the woods to "Happy Hollow" to take a refreshing dip in the local pond.
According to my sources, Mr. Hellman set up an endowment for the popular music festival, so the music will live on!
Perfect peace, Warren, Perfect peace!
Sunday, December 18, 2011
Shortly after I published a post on the Tattler expressing my chagrin (disbelief?) over Barbara Walters' candidates for the "10 Most Fascinating People of 2011", I was pleasantly surprised by the knee-jerk reactions of folks around the country.
Judging by a flew of the nasty barbs hurled at "Babs" in the wake of her wild pronouncements, it was obvious to moi, that my finger was on the pulse of the lowly "people".
Evidently, many found the once-celebrated journalist's loopy nods quite mind-boggling!
The "Kardashian" backlash was quite telling, for starters.
Without doubt, middle America has ended its love affair (misguided all along?) with the self-centered greed-meisters routinely tearing up the reality-TV-show terrain.
Are the Kardashians now the most-hated in America?
Even her loveliness - Pippa - didn't escape a critical press or pooh-poohing public!
"She's fascinating because she lifted up her gown at the nuptials for her sis at Westminster Abbey," one disgruntled viewer quipped incredulous at the mere notion.
To Billy Bush at Access TV, perhaps.
"Loony Tunes," appeared to be the outcry of the many.
Were the news reports filtering out this week - on the heels of the fiasco - bang on when they hinted at an early retirement for Barbara Walters?
Now, that would be News at 11, you betcha!