Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The Grammys - 2016

The 2016 Grammy Awards were presented Monday night, February 15th in a marathon 3½ hour TV show. According to my count, they only presented eight awards during the show although I may have missed some. They did recognize some others who had received their trophy earlier. Here is my review of the show and a comment or two about some winners. LL Cool J was the host once again although he really didn't have much to do. This is a list of winners if you really care.

Full disclosure here. Most music today is not aimed at my demographic and I can't stand some of it. Still, I have been listening to music since the days of AM radio and 45's. You kids can ask your parents or grandparents what those things are. I also try to keep up with the current music and at least sample the new stuff. I have a very eclectic and varied music library of over 6,000 songs plus Pandora, Spotify and other streaming services. So, let the review begin.

I almost changed the channel right off the bat but decided to power through. The reason is that one of my least favorite performers (I refuse to refer to her as a singer) opened the show. That would be Taylor Swift and she lived up to my expectations. I wasn't sure if there was a problem with the sound or just a lack of talent. Turns out that it was the latter. Even with all of today's audio technology, Swift still sounds off key and weak-voiced. At least, the show had nowhere to go but up.

Next was a duet by Country singers Carrie Underwood and Sam Hunt. Not great, but OK. She was better than him and their voices didn't really compliment each other.

Then The Weeknd did a fair job although his falsetto doesn't sound that great to me. I'm probably spoiled by Brian Wilson, Frankie Valli and Smokey Robinson.

The show improved with a duet by Ellie Goulding and Andra Day. Followed by the presentation of the first Grammy 40 minutes into the show, no rush.

Next up was a tribute to Lionel Richie who received some kind of lifetime achievement thing. It was pretty good. John Legend kicked it off with Easy, then was joined by Demi Lovato, Luke Bryan, Meghan Trainor, Tyrese and eventually Lionel himself. It was enjoyable, of course, they had good songs to work with.
Little Big Town performed their hit song Girl Crush. I'm a fan of LBT and they did their usual stellar performance.

Another tribute was for the late Maurice White, founder of Earth Wind & Fire. This one was done by Stevie Wonder and a bunch of others doing an a capella version of That's The Way Of The World. Always good to see Stevie.

Following another award presentation, the remaining Eagles and Jackson Browne sang Take It Easy in tribute to recently deceased Eagle founding member Glenn Frey. Browne's inclusion was appropriate since he co-wrote that song with Glenn and was a friend even before there was an Eagles band. Good song, good group.

Tori Kelly and James Bay did yet another duet. Not bad, she was the better half of this effort.

Switch to New York for a performance by the cast of the Broadway musical Hamilton. This was OK, but I don't think excerpts of plays translate very well to TV. This musical is also mostly rap which is not my favorite.

Unfortunately, that was followed by more rap crap from Kendrick Lamar. That was two too many rap numbers in a row for me. 

Miguel and Greg Phillinganes did a Michael Jackson song. It wasn't really a tribute since Michael has been dead for some time. They did mention something about 35 years since his first Grammy. OK. Then another award presentation, I think the fifth of the evening.

It was then time for one of the performances I was looking forward to. That would be Adele singing All I Ask. So of course her mic crapped out at the beginning of the song. They seemed to fix it, but I still thought the sound was somewhat off for the whole song. I don't know if it was all technical or whether Adele was a little off. Either way, it was not her best performance. Of course even when Adele isn't at her best, she is far above most singers.

Then we went from the sublime to the ridiculous. It was time for Justin Bieber. I put him in the same category as Taylor Swift although he does sing a little better. To make it even worse, he sang (kinda) two songs. Actually he mostly ran around the stage and posed. There was also a large contingent of frantic extras on the stage. At this point, Justin is mostly famous for being famous. After another award, it got better again.

Lady Gaga did her tribute to recently departed David Bowie. It was a near perfect choice. David and Gaga both pushed the boundaries and played characters. She had the outrageous hair and outfit plus some strange stage props. Carlos Alomar, a longtime contributor with Bowie, joined Gaga on stage. I am often at a loss about some of Lady Gaga's choices, but she does have talent. Listen to her duets with Tony Bennett or her rendition of the National Anthem at the Super Bowl. This was a fitting tribute to David Bowie.

The enjoyment continued with a tribute to B. B. King. Chris Stapleton, Gary Clark, Jr. and the great Bonnie Raitt sang The Thrill Is Gone. Good guitar work and vocals. Bonnie and Gary are excellent blues artists, Chris a little more country.

Alabama Shakes was up next. Some of their music is OK with me, but I find it hard to watch lead singer Brittany Howard perform. Some of her facial and body movements look painful.

Time for a downer. In a sort of tribute to Motorhead and the late Lemmy Kilmister we got the manufactured group, Hollywood Vampires. It consists of that famous rock star Johnny Depp, Alice Cooper and Joe Perry from Aerosmith. Terrible. I don't much like hard metal rock, too much screaming and noise. Alice Cooper did his normal solo shtick with the makeup and cane, Perry played loudly and Depp proved that he can't sing and is a pretend rocker.

The seventh (I think) award of the night was for Album of the Year and unfortunately it went to Taylor Swift's 1989. Then she gave some BS acceptance speech. This was a low point in the proceedings. There was one more award and then the finale, finally.

The last act was Pit Bull and Robin Thicke. It was more rap stuff with many dancers backing up the singers. Sofia Vergara was a surprise dancer. It was a lame segment to end the up and down presentation.

Like most of these type shows there were highs and lows. This one seemed very heavy on tributes. I will never like rap or most of hip hop so those segments will never get my vote. I also don't have much use for performers who don't have any real talent. I already named two, but there were others. I'll give this particular program about a 50-50, kind of a middle C.
So enjoy the music you like and in another year we'll see how the music industry rated your choices at the 2017 Grammys.


Sunday, February 14, 2016

Supreme Court Nomination

There has been a plethora of remarks, opinions and analysis about the recent death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. What were his contributions and legacy? What does it mean in the short term for cases in front of the court? What does it mean in the long term for the court's direction? I don't pretend to know the answers to those questions. 

I do have an opinion on one of the hottest points on the table. That is, should President Obama nominate a replacement to fill Scalia's seat on the court. My opinion is a resounding YES. 

The Republicans in almost a 100% united stance say no, Obama should wait so that the next president can nominate his choice. Of course, the GOP hopes that the next president will be a member of their party and will appoint someone who lines up with their agenda. At the same time, several of the Republican candidates for president stated that if they were in Obama's position, they would send a nominee to the Senate for confirmation. Is this hypocritical? Of course it is. Unfortunate, but that is politics, especially in recent times.

Here is my thinking. In 2012, the nation elected Barack Obama to a four-year term which started on January 21, 2013 and runs until January 20, 2017. That is a full 48 months. So far he has served a little less than 37 months. According to my math, that leaves 11+ months on his term. That's about 23% remaining. So, did we elect Obama, or any other president, to only serve 37 months or 77% of their term? 

Does the same apply to Congress? If so, House members must stop voting after about 18½ months from the start of each session. Senators can quit after about 55½ months of their 72-month terms. I realize that technically our Congress already works at a much less than 77% effort. In fact, I would put it at much closer to 0%.

Republicans are throwing the term "lame duck" around. As usual, they have misappropriated a term to fit their needs. Obama is not a lame duck yet and neither are the members of Congress whose terms end in January 2017.

Definition of lame duck : an elected official or group continuing to hold political office during the period between the election and the inauguration of a successor

I realize that anyone who Obama nominates for the Supreme Court will face an uphill battle being confirmed by a Republican controlled Senate. Still, he has to try. He has to keep doing his job until his replacement is sworn in. 

Our world, country and lives go on 24 hours a day, 365 days (366 in 2016) a year. We can't shut down our government every fourth year because we are electing a president or every other year because we are electing all 435 House members and ⅓ of the Senators.

I can guarantee that if a Republican was in the White House, everyone in the GOP would be urging him or her to quickly nominate someone. What happens if a Democrat again wins the presidency this year? Do we then have to wait four more years before we replace Justice Scalia?

Let's get the Supreme Court back to full strength as soon as possible. Let's expect our government to do their jobs 100% of the time, not just 77%.


Thursday, February 11, 2016

Old TV & Foggy Memories

Or is it Old Memories and Foggy TV? I mentioned awhile back that my U-verse TV package had added H&I which is mostly old TV shows. I tune it in a few times a week when there is nothing else on, especially late at night. 

I thought I was an expert on TV series from the late 50's through the mid 60's. While I get most of it right, there have been a few surprises. 

I posted a few weeks ago that I had no recollection of Stagecoach West starring Wayne Rodgers, before his stint as Trapper John on M*A*S*H. So far that's the only series I don't think I ever saw that is now on the H&I Network.  There may be others but I haven't checked their whole schedule. That doesn't bother me since I probably never saw the original program, so I can't be expected to remember it. A few other shows are familiar, but maybe not as familiar as I thought I remembered them.

A couple of other shows don't jive totally with my memory. There are differences and gaps. The first I noticed this was on an episode of Combat! which is on late at night. For those that don't remember, it was a series about World War II. I remember the series as black and white (B&W) and starring Vic Morrow. Seems it also starred Rick Jason and that he and Vic sort of alternated episodes. I also thought that Caje (Pierre Jalbert) 
played a larger role. Although Caje was a character throughout the series run, he often had no lines or just a grunt or two. Seems it was usually more about guest stars. The other big surprise is that the last year of its five-year run was in color. I don't think I ever saw a Combat! episode in color until this year. Since the series often interspersed actual WWII footage into the episodes, shooting in color was a problem. Still in all, the series is enjoyable. 

There was another WWII series, Twelve O'Clock High, around the same time. This show was about a US Army Air Corp bomber squadron stationed in the UK. It originally starred Robert Lansing but he was killed off and replaced by Paul Burke. This series also originally was filmed in B&W but changed to color. It was much more problematic for this show. Combat! only use WWII footage occasionally to show heavy artillery or other big stuff. Twelve O'Clock High used original footage in nearly every episode. Almost all the airplane shots, except for internal cockpit views, were real WWII films. It is tough to match grainy B&W WWII film to newly shot color video. Since the fly boys were based in the UK, there were opportunities for interactions with females. The depiction of those women is interesting, but not in a good way.

Another series that went from B&W to color is The Saint, a rather campy British series starring Roger Moore in a precursor to his run as James Bond. This show had none of the problems with matching B&W with color footage. Not much realism in this show but there was a lot of smoking and debonair activities. Of course, all the women were pretty much incompetent and swooned for Simon Templer immediately. Just fun in a British way.

The last series is Mannix. I saw parts of a couple of episodes and everything seemed right. His old house/office, his convertible car and his loyal and smart secretary Peggy. Then I saw an episode that must have been from the very beginning of the series. Mannix was working for a big investigative agency called Intertect headed by Joe Campanella. Of course, Mannix was the maverick in a button-down corporation. Intertect had computers to help the associates solve crimes. I even saw footage of an IBM card sorter. Of course Mannix didn't want or need any part of those new fangled computers to help him, he's an old style detective who goes by instinct. The episode I saw was not very good. Luckily, they changed to Mannix being an independent PI after that first season. Like the other shows, I don't remember ever seeing Joe Mannix working for a big corporation. 

These series were aired in the 60's when TV was changing from B&W to color. I don't know whether I never saw the shows in color because I was doing or watching something else or whether we didn't have a color TV. I have no idea when we got a color TV at home. My dad was a TV addict, so we probably got color early on. There is also the fact that dad controlled the TV so if Combat! or Twelve O'Clock High or The Saint or Mannix were on opposite something he wanted to watch, I would never see those shows. We only had one TV. Finally, by the 60's, I had interests other than home and TV. I was out and about every chance I had. TV was not a priority.

So, is it selective memory or just stuff I forgot? I'm old enough now that I can't figure out which one it is. Doesn't matter, these old shows are fun to watch.


Monday, February 1, 2016

Very Random Thoughts - January 2016

  • I used to laugh at my parents for watching old reruns of The Lawrence Welk Show. Now I watch old TV shows from the 50's and 60's. Are my kids laughing?
  • It's a little challenging to keep the T's in a BLT when you use cherry tomatoes. Still damn delicious though. 
  • When you have an item that you are looking for in your hand, that should be the first place you look, not the last. Second choice might be a pocket.
  • Knowledge is more accessible than ever. That does not mean it is accessed.
  • Remember when pre-owned cars were called used cars?
  • Those old rockers in their 60's or 70's should probably ditch the tank tops and sleeveless t-shirts.
  • Are face tattoos ever a good idea?
  • If an innocent person spends several years in prison, then commits a crime after they are exonerated, can they use time served as a get out of jail free card?
  • Foods that are good for you today will be found to be unhealthy by some study or vice versa. OK, Twinkies will never be found healthy.
  • Do any of those folks who say "If (insert name) is elected president, I'm leaving the country." ever actually leave?
  • Does anyone heed the warning on Q-Tips to not insert in ear canal? 
  • I'm always amazed at how many people oppose and resist CHANGE even when the change makes things better.
  • Some people really need to look at what they typed before they hit "send" or "post".
  • How come the Republican candidates praise Ronald Reagan but never mention Abraham Lincoln. He was a Republican too and a much better president.
  • I am at a complete loss as to how I got most bruises, nicks or scrapes on my body.
  • There is a fine line between sarcastic and nasty.
  • Do you ever wish the reporter or moderator after asking a question would say to a president, senator, representative, governor, candidate... "That is bullshit, answer the damn question"?