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I have opened my new blog, dedicated to movie reviews only. Please head on over and enjoy. Still building a little bit, but you can go and read at least one review right now, (7/20/10). Just click here: http://shalitsstache.wordpress.com


Hey everyone, I have been very busy lately, so I am sorry for the lack of updates. I am currently putting together a full dedicated, Movie Review blog. Once it is all up, you will know. Thank you all.

  For a few years now, I have been trying to decided what the greatest songs ever written are.  I am not shooting for a top 100 or throwing out honorable mentions, just a top 5.  Along with that, I don’t think a list like this could ever stay the same, it will change over time.  But here are my current top 5, Lyrics included if the song is not an insturmental.  Of course I realize no one is goignto agree with me, this is more of a personal list, but I want to throw it out there.  There is no reason for the order of this list, though number one I do think, takes the cake.

1.  Sam Cooke- “A Change is Gonna Come”   The music, the voice, the lyrics; it does not get better from this.  Beyond the fact that this song is obviously about civil rights it echoes further into an everyday fear we may all have.  There is not one person this song does not speak to.  I mean, the opening verse alone should shake your very being.

I was born by the river
In a little tent, and o
just like that river
I’ve been running ever since

It’s been a long long time coming, but I know
A change is gonna come, oh yes it will

It’s been too hard living
but I’m afraid to die
’cause I don’t know what’s up there
beyond the sky,

It’s been a long time coming, but I know
A change is gonna come, oh yes it will

I go to the movie and I go downtown
Somebody keep tellin me
don’t hang around

It’s been a long time coming, but I know
A change is gonna come, oh yes it will

Then I go to my brother
and I say brother help me please
But he wind up knocking me
back down on my knees

There have been times that I thought
I couldn’t last for long
But now I think I’m able to carry on

It’s been a long time, but I know
A change is gonna come, oh yes it will

2. Love- “You Set The Scene”- Love as a whole, is a band that too many people have forgotten about or just plain don’t know.  This song is taken from their masterpiece of an album, “Forever Changes” which is the greatest album to ever come out of the 60’s; period.  At first the lyrics may not make much sense, but stay with it if they don’t.  The accompanying music just doesn’t get any better.  A chilled acousitc guitar heavy verse that builds into a closing no one could forget.

Where are you walking,
I’ve seen you walking.
Have you been there before?
Walk down your doorsteps,
You’ll take some more steps.
What did you take them for?

There’s a private in my boat,
And he wears pins,
Instead of medals on his coat.
There’s a chicken in my nest,
And she won’t lay,
Until I’ve given her my best.

At her request she asks for nothing,
You get nothing in return.
If you want, she brings you water,
If you don’t, then you will burn.

You go through changes,
It may seem strange. Is
This what you’re put here for?
You think you’re happy,
And you are happy.
That’s what you’re happy for.
There’s a man who can’t decide
If he should fight,
For what his father thinks is right.
There are people wearing frowns,
Who’ll screw you up,
But they would rather screw you down.

At my request I ask for nothing,
You get nothing in return.
If you’re nice, she’ll bring me water,
If you’re not, then I will burn.

This is the time and life that I am living,
And I’ll face each day with a smile.
For the time that I’ve been given’s
Such a little while.
And the things that I must do,
Consist of more than style.
There are places that I am goin’.

This is the only thing that I am sure of,
And that’s all that lives is gonna die.
And there’ll always be some people,
Here to wonder why.
And for every happy hello,
There will be good-bye.
There’ll be time for you to put yourself on.

Everything I’ve seen needs rearranging,
And for anyone who thinks it’s strange,
Then you should be the first,
To want to make this change.
And for everyone who thinks that,
Life is just a game
Do you like the part you’re playing?

I see your picture,
It’s in the same old frame.
We meet again.
You look so lovely,
You with the same old smile,
Stay for a while.
I need you so, oh, woh, woh, woh.
And if you take it easy,
I’m still teethin’.
I wanna love you, but,
Oh, woh, woh, woh, woh, woh, woh. [Echo.]

This is the time and life that I am living,
And I’ll face each day with a smile.
For the time that I’ve been given’s
Such a little while.
And the things that I must do,
Consist of more than style.
There’ll be time for you to start all over.

This is the time and this is the time.
And it is time, time, time, time, time,
time, time, time, time… [Echo.]

3. Neil Young- “From Hank to Hendrix” Yes, it is a heart breaking song, but it does it so well.  Again, even if you don’t like the song, it is very easy to connect with what the man is saying.  Very calm song with a nice burst of energy for the chorus that doesn’t disband from the rest of the song, too much; the pefect jolt or the pleading essence of the words.

From Hank to Hendrix

I walked these streets with you
Here I am with this old guitar
Doin’ what I do.

I always expected
That you should see me through
I never believed in much
But I believed in you.

Can we get it together
Can we still stand side by side
Can we make it last
Like a musical ride?

From Marilyn to Madonna
I always loved your smile
Now we’re headed
for the big divorce

I found myself singin’
Like a long-lost friend
The same thing that makes you live
Can kill you in the end.

Can we get it together
Can we still stand side by side
Can we make it last
Like a musical ride?

Sometime it’s distorted
Not clear to you
Sometimes the beauty of love
Just comes ringin’ through.

New glass in the window
New leaf on the tree
New distance between us
You and me.

Can we get it together
Can we still walk side by side
Can we make it last
Like a musical ride?

(I could ony find a video for the acoustic version of the song from MTV unplugged which I am actually not that familiar with.  So do yourself a favor and hunt down the original from the album, “Harvest Moon” as well)

4. Leonard Cohen- “Field Commander Cohen” There are so many great Leonard Cohen songs, as there are with all the artist I mentioned so far/will mention.  This song is a very subdued soft toned wonder that still builds in sound beyond what one might think is possible.  Listen to it with some headphones on with your eyes closed and you will be transported away into the most relaxing and brilliant plane of existence there is.

Field Commander Cohen, he was our most important spy.
Wounded in the line of duty,
parachuting acid into diplomatic cocktail parties,
urging Fidel Castro to abandon fields and castles.
Leave it all and like a man,
come back to nothing special,
such as waiting rooms and ticket lines,
silver bullet suicides,
and messianic ocean tides,
and racial roller-coaster rides
and other forms of boredom advertised as poetry.

I know you need your sleep now,
I know your life’s been hard.
But many men are falling,
where you promised to stand guard.

I never asked but I heard you cast your lot along with the poor.
But then I overheard your prayer,
that you be this and nothing more
than just some grateful faithful woman’s favourite singing millionaire,
the patron Saint of envy and the grocer of despair,
working for the Yankee Dollar.

I know you need your sleep now
I know your life’s been hard.
But many men are falling,
where you promised to stand guard.

Ah, lover come and lie with me, if my lover is who you are,
and be your sweetest self awhile until I ask for more, my child.
Then let the other selves be wrong, yeah, let them manifest and come
till every taste is on the tongue,
till love is pierced and love is hung,
and every kind of freedom done, then oh,
oh my love, oh my love, oh my love,
oh my love, oh my love, oh my love.

5. Charles Mingus- “Fables of Faubus”  It is tough to really round out this list.  But this is one song that no matter how many times you hear it or whomever is trying to put their spin on it; yo have to listen.  Slow build start that pops right into the meat of the song.  It will make some dance it will make some move and some groove.  The version I put the link to is that of The Mingus Big Band, which really takes the song to new heights and cooks it.

  That is it for now.  Maybe I will come back in a few months and revise if I feel like it.  Or maybe I will expand to make an ultimate 100 list of some sort.  What are your thoughts?  Anyone want to throw some ideas out there?

  After posting my quick look at what “The Big Lebowski” is really trying to say, I thought I would look at another Coen Brothers comedy, that is really more than just a comedy.  “Raising Arizona” was made early on in the Coen Brothers career, but it is just as poignant and powerful as most of their other work.

  On the surface, “Raising Arizona” is a comedy about an “ex-convict” who with his “ex-cop” wife, kidnap one of five babies, just birthed to the Arizona family.   Plain and simple.  Now, the theme behind this movie is a little more obvious than “The Big Lebowski”, but I usually feel a lot of the symbolism that illustrates this theme, can get lost on some. 

  So what is the theme?  “Being of an adult age, does not mean you are ready to operate in this world”.  Or maybe more simply, being an adult by age, does not make you an adult by nature.

   Like past articles, I will try not to go into too much and just hit the major points, be it in order or not.  This brings me to what I think is one of my favorite images in the film.  When Gale and Evelle Snoats (John Goodman and William Forsythe) break out of prison, we see them coming out of a muddy hole outside the prison grounds.  John Goodman’s head slowly pushes out of the pulsating mound that was made possible by torrential rains, as he screams with a face full of muddy slop sliding down.  When he fully emerges, he plunges his hand down the hole and pulls out his brother whom he holds by one leg upside down as they both scream and wail.  This is their birth unto the world.  This is two men, coming out of a womb.  And the shots resemble much of what you would see in a real birth as the baby cries as the doctor holds it upside down and slaps it.  Now of course that may not be what really happens in most of the world, but it is an image that everyone has seen or heard before.

  By the end of the movie, when Gale and Evelle figure that they just aren’t ready to be part of this world, they go back to the hole they came out of, which is now dried and caked over from the hot Arizona sun, as they climb back into their symbolic womb, because they just weren’t ready to deal with real life and the challenges it brings.

  Now moving to our main characters, H.I. and Edwina (Nicholas Cage and Holly Hunter) who have decided that since, Edwina, who can not have a child of her own, will steal one of the Arizona Quintuplets, since the Arizona’s probably have too much to handle on their own, so they won’t really mind. 

  I want to be clear on one thing before we move forward.  While the actions of our protagonists is of course, something to be frowned upon, to put it lightly, they are truly at heart, decent people.  H.I. is a repeat offender when it comes to late night convenient store hold ups, but he would never hurt another human being, that is clear.  And it is funny, when he is trying to wrangle up the five Arizona children, as quiet as he can possibly be, as they mischievously crawl around their room.  Most interesting of all is when one baby crawls underneath the crib and H.I. grabs the babies leg to pull him out from the tight space; the baby laughing the whole time.  H.I.’s face, however, when he is being pulled out from under a car as he tried to escape from Bounty Hunter, Leonard Smalls; is one of pain and fear.

  The shot and placement of the baby being pulled from under the crib, and the one of  H.I. being pulled out from under the car are one in the same; H.I., is a child, who does things without thought of consequence or understanding of any kind.  While we have empathy for H.I., he is ultimately a bad man trying to snatch this child.  Leonard Smalls, is an evil man, and I would say the spiritual predecessor and similar character to that of Anton Chigurh of a more recent Coen Brothers film, “No Country for Old Men”.  While the Coens did not write the story of “No Country for Old Men”, it is obvious why they decided to make the film, after seeing Randall “Tex” Cobb as Leonard Smalls.  And now this purely evil man, is pulling H.I. out from under this car, as he tries to scurry away, attempting to save his life.

  Once Smalls pulls H.I. out, and pummels him a bit more, he grabs H.I. in a bear hug and tries to squeeze the life out of him.  With the small freedom he has with parts of his arms, H.I. flails out of pain and panic at the chest of Leonard Smalls, finally pulling aside part of Smalls’ vest to reveal a Woody Woodpecker tattoo.   A snide looking Woody at that.  The same exact Woody Woodpecker tattoo, that H.I. has.  These two men, were at one time, one in the same.  If  H.I. doesn’t change his ways, he will become Leonard Smalls.  And while this is a post about a movie that says, just because you are “grown up, doesn’t mean you are”, then what is Leonard Smalls.  Well, Leonard Smalls is the person that thought he was ready for the world and since he didn’t know enough when he was younger or more probably, wasn’t raised by someone who was ready for the world either; he became a monster.

  Man, I could just go on and on about this one, but this is meant to be a short run down, not a long one.  I know I missed plenty of other things to talk about and really didn’t wrap this one up with a bow.  But I think, if you watched this movie before, thinking it was just a comedy, take what you have read here and watch it again, and let me know what you think or see.  It is one movie that you can always watch whenever it is on.

If you know me, you know I do not drink alcohol, at all.  So with that being said, you may have been confused if you happened to see me last night sitting at The City Winery on Varick street, for about 5 hours.  I was there with my girlfriend and some other friends to catch the NY premiere screening of the film “Blood Into Wine”.

The film, a documentary about the Arizona vineyard owned and run by Eric Glomski and Maynard James Keenan, had sold out in a flash once tickets went on sale.  Now I,  like a lot of the attendees, swooped up those tickets fast.  Not only to see the film, but also due to the promise of a special guest Q and A following the screening, which everyone expected to include, Maynard James Keenan, himself.

And yes, he was there...

But this is not a post about a Q and A with the man, the myth, the legend, etc. This is a film review, of one hell of a fantastic documentary.   In an echo of the introductory speech given before the film, by the now east coast distributor of the wines made at the Arizona Stronghold; It does not matter if you are interested in seeing and being a part of anything Maynard touches, it doesn’t matter if you are the world’s greatest wine enthusiast, it doesn’t matter if all you love is a summer blockbuster that is all about the explosions and special effects, and it doesn’t matter if you really don’t care about anything; this film will move you.
Very quickly, for those who don’t know, Maynard is the lead singer for the band Tool as well as the mind and creator of his ever evolving solo, vaudeville-esque side project, Puscifer.  Around 2003 he bought up land in Jerome, AZ and started his own winery with the help of experienced wine maker Eric Glomski.
The film chronicles the hardships and rewards of the entire wine making process from planting to bottling and in the case of these two men, how to market a wine from Arizona, to a country with the mindset that wine not made in Napa, Italy or France, for example, is not a quality product.
But when everything is over, this film is really about passion.  It didn’t have to be about wine, though some things a laymen or even a connoisseur, may learn about the history and or myths about wine is fascinating, it could have been about anything.   This is a film about two men who are doing something they truly love, that drives them, that makes them want to explore their worlds further.   It is something everyone should feel in their lives and even if you have not taken that journey yet, watching Eric and Maynard at what is one’s craft and one’s growing craft, will move you; will inspire you.
It should also be noted that if you think you are walking into a straight forward documentary, you are wrong.  This film three-quarters of a learning experience and one-quarter ingenious laugh fest.  I dare anyone to see this movie and tell me they did not crack up at least three times (more if you have a sense of humor).
Do yourself a favor, If there is a screening of this movie near you, go.  If there isn’t and you are not up to booking your own screening, go to the film’s website: http://www.bloodintowine.com/ where you can pre-order a copy for yourself, to be released on September 7th. You will not be sorry.
I would like to finish this short review by apologizing to Eric and Maynard for the collective group of drunken maniacs who did attend the screening along with me, my girlfriend, my friends and the handful of civil audience members who were there and thank them for the tremendous job they did, in handling the questions and the screaming freaks, kudos.

Thank you gentlemen

Lenore Ann

   This Saturday, May 22nd, would have been my Mother’s 59th birthday.  We lost my Mother to breast cancer on December 26th, 2009.  I know it is a little early, but I wanted to put up a small video to celebrate her on her birthday and to also give anyone who reads this some information on a foundation my Aunt created in my Mother’s name.

   The Norie Promise Fund aims to make donations to services and programs that can have an immediate impact on the lives of those who are stricken with terminal illnesses and their loved ones.  To date, the fund has raised close to $15,000 and we hope to make it grow.  If you wish to make a tax deductible donation, please make a check out to: SCF c/o The Norie Promise Fund and in the memo line, write, account #3511-8889.  Donations can be sent to Joy Soodik c/o The Norie Promise Fund, 505 Court St. Brooklyn, NY, 11231.

  As previously stated, I have made a small video to celebrate my Mother’s birthday.  It is nothing too amazing and I only had a small amount of time to put it together, but I think it is a fitting tribute.  This also goes out to everyone else we have all lost, to cancer or not, including; Bernard Soodik, Harold and Dorothy Schuchman, Emmanuel and Irene Weisburd, Nancy Rodriguez and Carlos Rodriguez.  Thank you to everyone for your support.