JANELLE AND ERYKAH

Posted in Music with tags , , , on Monday, June, 14, 2010 by llsoares

The amazing Janelle Monae

I figured it was time to update the blog.

Two Sundays ago (June 6, 2010), I went to see Ekykah Badu in concert. I’ve always liked her music, and I was curious to see her live, but the truth is, on her own, I probably would not have bothered to buy a ticket. The real reason I went was because of her opening act, Janelle Monae, who has been getting a lot of buzz lately.  She made a big splash at the last SOUTH BY SOUTHWEST (SXSW) festival last year in Austin, Texas, where tons of bands go to hopefully score a record deal. She got signed to P. Diddy’s label, her new album THE ARCHANDROID just came out.

How do I describe her? A female David Bowie? She raps a little, but mostly sings, and she has a beautiful voice. In her live show, there was also some similarity to Prince, and even James Brown (there was an inside James Brown joke at one point where her “assistant” kept trying to put a cape around her shoulders). Her performance, consisting of just five songs, was electric, with Janelle easily grabbing the attention of everyone in the audience, keeping it throughout her set. Between running around the stage, dancing, and shadowboxing, she was pretty much in constant movement. She had a good backing band (great electric guitarist). And even a pre-recorded movie-credit intro. People were dancing in the aisles, and frankly, if anyone went into that concert not knowing who Janelle Monae is, they left being full aware that she exists, and she is human dynamite.

Badu came on next and did some really heartfelt versions of many of her best songs. She’s got a beautiful voice and seems very comfortable with where she is now in her career. I enjoyed the show, but it was much more mellow than the opening act, and Badu took her time with the songs, many of which lasted quite awhile.

So I’d give a B+ to Badu, but an A+ to Janelle Monae.I cannot wait until Janelle gets to headline her own tour and does more than just 5 songs. I think a full show by her would be amazing.

When the Boston Globe reviewed the show, it gave Janelle as much ink/attention as it did for Badu, which is amazing for an opening act. So I continue to tell anyone who will listen that Janelle is the next big thing. Just check out her new album and find out for yourself. I haven’t been this excited about a new singer in a long time.

(NEXT UP: I FINALLY MEET JOHN WATERS!)

A LION’S DIET

Posted in Uncategorized on Friday, April, 9, 2010 by llsoares

There’s a little store in the North End of Boston called Savenor’s. It’s basically a little gourmet store that sells some fresh produce and exotic condiments, but the main reason to go there is for the selection of meats. As soon as you go inside, you know what you’re in for. There’s a photo of Julia Child in the window. She was a regular customer.

I go there every once in awhile to check out a special area where they have the exotic meats. So far I’ve gotten venison, kangaroo and wild boar. Good stuff. Some of the items – like an entire rattlesnake, skinned and ready to eat – are rather expensive. The rattlesnake was $135. And no matter how much I’d like to try it, that’s not going to happen. They had fillet of python today, too.

I ended up getting a couple of things in my price range (about $10 each). One was antelope meat (I can’t wait to try that!) and the other was alligator (which I’ve had and like a lot). Maybe next week I’ll try the yak meat.

Kinda cool to be buying exotic meats in the same store where Julia Child used to shop. I’m always looking to try a new kind of meat. I think the one I want to try most right now is zebra.

It’s like I have a lion’s diet sometimes.

Some Sites I’m On

Posted in Uncategorized on Wednesday, March, 10, 2010 by llsoares

Some fun sites that I’m on this week:

1) Dark Wolf Fantasy Reviews asked most of the people who were nominated for the Stokers this year some questions about being nominated. Michael Arruda and I (do I need to remind you we write “Cinema Knife Fight” at this point?) are two of the writers featured. Here’s the link: Dark Wolf Fantasy Reviews

2) Writer Mercedes Yardley has a blog where she posts writers and other creative people wearing masks every Friday. It’s called Be Mysterious I was the guest writer this week.



MY OSCAR PICKS

Posted in Movies with tags , , on Saturday, March, 6, 2010 by llsoares

I realized that I should have posted this days ago, but it’s been crazy here, and I forgot. Just in case anyone reads this before the Oscars, here are my picks, and the movies I want to win (not necessarily the same thing) for Oscar Night.

BEST PICTURE

“Avatar”
“The Hurt Locker”
“Precious: Based on the novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire”
“Up in the Air”
“Inglourious Basterds”
“Up”
“The Blind Side”
“District 9”
“An Education”
“A Serious Man”

For some reason, they expanded the list of Best Picture nominees to 10 this year. This is way too many.

Who Will Win: “The Hurt Locker”

Who I Want to Win:“Inglorious Basterds.” I’m pulling for Tarantino to win as many awards as possible, but I don’t think that will be too many.

****

ACTOR

George Clooney, “Up in the Air”
Jeff Bridges, “Crazy Heart”
Colin Firth, “A Single Man”
Morgan Freeman, “Invictus”
Jeremy Renner, “The Hurt Locker”

Who Will Win: Jeff Bridges. The way everyone is talking, this is pretty much a done deal. I’m not sure how good “Crazy Heart” sounds (the storyline didn’t excite me too much or get me to go see it yet). But Bridges is a terrific actor who hasn’t gotten the recognition he deserves. So I have no problem with this.

Who I Want To Win: Jeff Bridges. Some people are comparing this role in “Crazy Heart” to Mickey Rourke’s role in last year’s “The Wrestler.” I guess because both movies are about men growing older and moving further away from their glory years. But “Crazy Heart” is not a comeback movie. Bridges never went anywhere. He’s been making movies steadily for a long time now, and he’s never won an Oscar – which is embarassing.

I still wish he’d won for “The Big Lebowski.”  But I’d be happy to see him win for this. If not him, then definitely Jeremy Renner, who was amazing in “The Hurt Locker.”

****

ACTRESS

Meryl Streep, “Julie & Julia”
Sandra Bullock, “The Blind Side”
Gabourey Sidibe, “Precious: Based on the novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire”
Helen Mirren, “The Last Station”
Carey Mulligan, “An Education”

Who Will Win: Sandra Bullock.

Who I Want to Win: Carey Mulligan for “An Education” would be nice. Or even Gabourey Sidibe for “Precious,”  but it sounds like Bullock has it wrapped up. I can’t believe that Sandra Bullock might win an Oscar.

****

SUPPORTING ACTOR

Matt Damon, “Invictus”
Woody Harrelson, “The Messenger”
Christopher Plummer, “The Last Station”
Stanley Tucci, “The Lovely Bones”
Christoph Waltz, “Inglourious Basterds”

Who Will Win: Christoph Walz for “Inglorious Basterds.”

Who I Want to Win: If “Inglorious Basterds” wins anything, it will be for this category.

****

SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Vera Farmiga, “Up in the Air”
Mo’Nique, “Precious”
Anna Kendrick, “Up in the Air”
Penelope Cruz, “Nine”
Maggie Gyllenhaal, “Crazy Heart”

Who Will Win: Mo’Nique

Who I Want to Win: Even though I’ve been on a Penelope Cruz kick lately, I avoided “Nine.”  I can’t stand musicals. Even with her and Daniel Day-Lewis in it. I like Vera Farmiga a lot, too, but she won’t win for this movie.

I’d be happy if  Mo’Nique got it.

****

DIRECTOR

Quentin Tarantino, “Inglourious Basterds”
Kathryn Bigelow, “The Hurt Locker”
James Cameron, “Avatar”
Lee Daniels, “Precious: Based on the novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire”
Jason Reitman, “Up in the Air”

Who Will Win: Kathryn Bigelow.

Who I Want to Win: I’m on “Team Quentin” so I say “Inglorious Basterds” all the way. But if Bigelow wins it, she’s a great second choice. I still think her movie “Near Dark” was a great vampire flick, and I’ve been a fan of her as a director for awhile now. And “The Hurt Locker” is really good.

****

ANIMATED FEATURE

“Up”
“Coraline”
“Fantastic Mr. Fox”
“The Princess and the Frog”
“The Secret of Kells”

Who Will Win: “Up”

Who I Want to Win: I thought “Coraline” was terrific. But it’s probably too quirky for most Oscar voters.

****

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

“The Hurt Locker”
“Inglourious Basterds”
“The Messenger”
“A Serious Man”
“Up”

Who Will Win: Could be “The Hurt Locker” or “Inglorious Basterds”

Who I Want to Win: I’d love to see Tarantino get it for this one.

****

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

“District 9”
“An Education”
“In the Loop”
“Precious”
“Up in the Air”

Who Will Win: “Precious”

Who I Want to Win: I’d love to see “District 9” get something! But I doubt it.

****

BEST FOREIGN-LANGUAGE FILM

“Ajami”
“El Secreto de Sus Ojos”
“The Milk of Sorrow”
“Un Prophete”
“The White Ribbon”

Who Will Win: Maybe “The White Ribbon.”

Who I Want to Win: I haven’t seen the movies, but I’d be happy if the great Michael Haneke got it for “The White Ribbon.” I also hear “A Prophet”  is really good.

****

BEST FILM EDITING

“Avatar”
“District 9”
“The Hurt Locker”
“Inglourious Basterds”
“Precious”

Who Will Win: “The Hurt Locker”

Who I Want to Win: “Inglorious Basterds”

****

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

“Burma VJ”
“The Cove”
“Food, Inc.”
“The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers”
“Which Way Home”

Who Will Win: “Food, Inc.” It seems to be the one getting the most buzz.

Who I Want to Win: “The Cove,” about the killing of dolphins by Japanese fishermen, sounds a lot more interesting to me. But it probably won’t win.

*****

ART DIRECTION

“Avatar”
“The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus”
“Nine”
“Sherlock Holmes”
“The Young Victoria

Who Will Win: “Avatar”

Who I Want to Win: “Avatar” probably deserves every technical award it’s nominated for. But the story was dopey.

****

CINEMATOGRAPHY

“Avatar”
“Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince”
“The Hurt Locker”
“Inglourious Basterds”
“The White Ribbon”

Who Will Win: “Avatar” or “The Hurt Locker”

Who I Want to Win: “Inglorious Basterds”

****

Let’s see how I do tomorrow.

Happy B-Day, Jim

Posted in Uncategorized on Wednesday, March, 3, 2010 by llsoares

I know I haven’t posted here in a long time. I’ve been focusing on the Cinema Knife Fight site instead, lately.

Today’s been a weird day. My best friend, Jim Lavoie, would have been 47 years old today (on March 3rd). He died of cancer just over a year ago, and it’s strange not to have him around. We knew each other since fifth grade. I miss him.

BEST TV SHOWS OF THE DECADE (2000 – 2009)

Posted in TV with tags , , , , , , on Wednesday, January, 20, 2010 by llsoares

Okay, this is my final 2009-related list. I was going to post my favorite TV shows of 2009, then figured, what the hell, I’d do it for the decade that just ended. Here we go:

TV SHOWS – BEST OF THE DECADE (2000 to 2009)


  1. DEADWOOD (2004 – 2006) – David Milch goes West. When I was a kid, I hated westerns. Then I discovered Sergio Leone and Sam Peckinpah and realized that every genre has its masters. DEADWOOD is probably the best TV show ever set in the old west. Ian McShane as Al Swearengen is the sun around which every other character orbits. The entire cast is amazing. Other standouts include Timothy Olyphant as Sheriff Seth Bullock and Keith Caradine in an amazing turn as Wild Bill Hickock. I don’t think any show has ever used the word “cocksucker” as much, either.
  2. MAD MEN (2007 – Present) – It’s amazing how this show seems to take us to another time so effortlessly. The early 1960s, New York Ad Men, and Jon Hamm as one of the most fascinating anti-heroes in television history, a flawed character that you can’t help but root for.
  3. THE SHIELD (2002 – 2008) – All I have to say is Michael Chiklis as Vic Mackey. He was a force of nature. Never has someone made corrupt cops looks so exciting. From the kick-ass theme song to the great ensemble cast, to Chiklis bypasses anti-hero status and gives us a total villain who still shows glimpses of humanity and is one of the most fascinating characters you’ll see onscreen. Gotta love it.
  4. DEXTER (2006 – Present) – Another morally ambiguous character. Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall) is a serial killer who just kills bad guys. During the day, he’s a blood spatter expert for the Miami PD. Another show that works so good because its entire cast is excellent. Each season has a guest star who shakes everything up, and doesn’t disappoint. In recent seasons we got Jimmy Smits as a politican who wanted to learn how to kill from Dexter, and John Lithgow as the emotionally fucked-up Trinity Killer, who Dexter tries to learn from, and then realizes he can’t.
  5. TRUE BLOOD (2008 – Present) – Maybe the best vampire series ever. Based on Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse books. Anna Paquin is a waitress in a small Louisiana town who can read minds. Vampires are out of the closet (and trying to assimilate with regular folks), and “tru blood” is a synthetic subsitute that’s supposed to keep the vampires from biting us – but where’s the fun in that?
  6. LIFE (2007 – 2009) – Damian Lewis as a cop who is falsely imprisoned for 12 years, get cleared, gets a big settlement from the state, and gets his job back. As a homicide detective, he also investigates who set him up and sent him away. A great show that was canceled before its time. Lewis was incredible as a character whose life appears to revolve around zen.
  7. TORCHWOOD (2006 – Present) – John Barrowman is Captain Jack Harkness, who has traveled through time (he first appeared on DR. WHO, and this show is a spin-off), is immortal, and who leads a secret task force bent on protecting the earth from creatures from other planets and dimensions. The show’s last short season (miniseries) CHILDREN OF EARTH, might have been the science-fiction event of the decade – a smart, scary story about alien invasion that gave us a completely fresh take on the subject.
  8. IT’S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA (2005 – Present) – This show started out a little awkward, and got better with each passing season. Four complete idiots run a bar (Dennis, Mac, Charlie and Dee). In season 2, Danny DeVito joined the cast as the father (stepfather?) of Dennis and Dee. There probably aren’t bigger idiots on television right now. Which is why this show is so great. And it’s turned into some kind of cult hit. And it’s funny as all hell. If you don’t watch this show yet – give it a chance!
  9. BIG BANG THEORY (2007 – Present) – The only network sitcom on this list, and the best sitcom of the decade. Four highly intelligent nerds hang out together, and with the cute girl who lives next door. The biggest star here when the show first started was probably Johnny Galacki, who was previously on ROSEANNE. But the break-out star since is easily Jim Parsons as ubergeek/supergenius physicist Sheldon Cooper. This show is friggin hilarious.
  10. THE WIRE (2002 – 2008) – Baltimore in all its gritty glory, from cops to politicans to drug dealers to newspaper men. One of the best written shows on television. Ever. It’s the kind of show you have to give a chance – and then it will hook you. Another incredible ensemble cast (something all these shows seem to share).
  11. FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS (2006 – Present) – I hate football. FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS (based on the movie of the same name) is about a high school football team in Texas. Somehow, it’s also one of the most interesting and well-written shows on TV. Great acting and great characters don’t hurt.
  12. CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2000 – Present) – Larry David (writer and co-creator of SEINFELD) gets his own show on HBO and proves he’s 100 times more obnoxious than George Constanza (who was based on him). David is one of the most offensive, obnoxious characters ever to have his own show. Yet, he’s also very loveable. Watching him offend and shock people is downright enjoyable.
  13. LOST (2004 – Present) – A plane crashes. The survivors struggle to survive on an uncharted island. There are mysteries within mysteries, and every time we get answers, there are new questions. With storylines involving islands that move, time travel, and a crippled man who can suddenly walk. It had its good seasons and its bad seasons, but overall, it has been one of the most unique and best shows of the decade.
  14. BREAKING BAD (2008 – Present) – Brian Cranston (the father on MALCOLM IN THE MIDDLE) is Walter White, a chemistry teacher who finds out he has terminal cancer. In order to pay for treatment, and to leave his family the money to keep going after he’s gone, he decides to use his knowledge to make crystal meth, and ends up becoming an unlikely druglord. Terrific show. With standout Aaron Paul as Walter’s partner in crime Jesse Pinkman.
  15. VERONICA MARS (2004 – 2007) – Kristen Bell as a modern day Nancy Drew with attitude, who’s also trying to survive high school. She’s the daughter of the former sheriff of Neptune, California, and she solves crimes. Much cooler than it sounds. With the coolest theme song of the decade – “We Used to Be Friends” by the Dandy Warhols.

Shows that just missed the time frame:

FREAKS AND GEEKS (1999 – 2000) – it only lasted one season, but this Judd Apatow high school drama/comedy was terrific (every episode was a gem!) and a large part of the cast has gone on to movie stardom since (including Seth Rogan, James Franco and Jason Segel, to name a few). I just wish it had lasted longer.

BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER (1997 – 2003) – By the time 2000 came around, BUFFY had already been on the air for three seasons, but it was such a great show, I had to at least mention it. I avoided this one for a long time because of the title (Buffy?), but once I gave it a chance, I became totally addicted. With Sarah Michele Gellar as the titular vampire slayer, and her “Scooby Gang” of friends, both human and undead. My favorite will always be Alyson Hannigan as Willow Rosenberg, who becomes an almost goddess-like witch at one point.

ANGEL (1999 – 2004) – The BUFFY spin-off, starring David Boreanaz as a vampire detective in L.A. He’s got his own gang of friends/sidekicks. At one point this show was even better than BUFFY (in my opinion), before it was canceled before its time.

THE SOPRANOS (1999 – 2007) – Probably the best gangster TV show ever. James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano, a New Jersey mob bossman who has an existential crisis, sees a shrink, and shows that he’s as flawed as the rest of us, when he’s not killing people in violent ways. A milestone series. Tony became something of a pop-culture icon by the time this show ended.

OZ (1997 – 2003) – This brutal prison drama from HBO featured everything from full-frontal nudity to vicious rape to bloody murder. If a prison was really like this and people were murdered constantly, they’d lock it down immediately. But this show’s another instance of amazing acting and great writing. And its another instance where a large percentage of its cast moved on to bigger and better (or at least more commercial) things.

XENA, WARRIOR PRINCESS (1995 – 2001) – One of my favorite shows ever just barely makes this list by ending in 2001. This story of woman warrior Xena (Lucy Lawless) and her sidekick Gabrielle (Renee O’Connor) was one of the rare instances where a spin-off show totally kicked the ass of the original (in this case, the original was HERCULES: THE LEGENDARY JOURNEYS, which seemed silly and juvenile in comparison). In some seasons (especially the last) the show got downright dark and brutal. And the two main characters grew throughout the show’s run. At first, Gabrielle was pretty much naive and useless – a girl who wanted to follow in Xena’s footsteps. By the end, Gabrielle was a seasoned warrior in her own right. With a not so secret lesbian subtext. This is the show that made me a Lucy Lawless fanatic. I just never understood the title. Xena wasn’t a princess. She was a friggin Warrior Queen!

2009 ODDS AND ENDS – MUSIC

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , , , , on Tuesday, January, 19, 2010 by llsoares

I bought so much music in 2009, I can’t keep track of it all. And I tend to buy as many old albums as new ones. So don’t take this as a definitive list. But of the albums I remember coming out in 2009, these are some favorites (in alphabetical order). The ones I really loved are in bold.

AC/DC – Black Ice (AC/DC proved they could still write some great songs/they’re still amazing in concert, too.)

Ace FrehleyAnomaly (The last solo album Ace made was Trouble Walkin’ in 1989 – 20 years ago! – but this one proves he’s still got it, and that he was the best musician Kiss ever had/Too bad they lost him.)

Dinosaur Jr. – Farm (Good stuff from a long-time Boston band)

Eagles of Death MetalHeart On (Another Josh Homme side project/another terrific band.)

Flipper Love (First studio album in like 20 years) and Fight (Live album, released the same day) – as raw and vibrant as they ever were – it almost sounds like they never left. These albums also feature Kris Novaselic (from Nirvana) on bass.

Fuck Buttons – Tarot Sport (Electronic mayhem)

Hank Williams III – Damn Right, Rebel Proud (The most punk country singer ever, Hank the first would be proud.)

Jay ReatardWatch Me Fall (Terrific album that reminded me of old school punk like the Buzzcocks)**

Lily Allen – It’s Not Me, It’s You (Yeah, I know, but I dig this album for some reason.)

MastadonCrack in the Skye (The new kings of metal – amazing album)

Metallica – Death Magnetic (Not their best, but definitely back in the right direction.)

Dethklok – Dethalbum II (Another great record from the coolest cartoon death metal band ever.)

Mos Def – The Ecastatic (Excellent hip hop CD)

Motorhead Motorizer (New Motorhead/what else is there to say?)

Nashville Pussy – From Hell to Texas (Nashville Pussy at their best)

Neko Case – Middle Cyclone

Seventh Void – Heaven Is Gone (Type O Negative spinoff band/good stuff)

Sonic Youth – The Eternal (Sonic Youth continues to put out solid albums)

Them Crooked Vultures – (self-titled) (Another Josh Homme project, this time with Dave Grohl on drums and Led Zep’s John Paul Jones on bass – Best “supergroup” of the year)

Wilco – Wilco (the album)

**Note: Jay Reatard died on January 13, 2010, at the age of 29. He was just emerging from the underground and his new album was on several “Best of 2009” lists. Sad to see him go before his time.

NEXT UP: THE BEST TV SHOWS OF THE DECADE!