Tuesday, April 17, 2007

another minute or so.

Written by Steve Hofstetter, Adam Hofstetter, Cody Marley, Ryan Murphy, Rich Ragains, Elliot Steingart, and Chris Strait

Denzel Washington's son will make his NFL Europa debut for the Hamburg Sea Devils. Well done, Jackie Robinson! Denzel said he is very pean football player, and he's such a good actor that he said it convincingly, too.

In American football, Drew Bledsoe finally retired - from being benched. Unfortunately he's already being benched from retirement in favor of Jake Plummer.

Suspended Titan Pac-Man Jones was ringside for his best friend Zab Judah's fight with Ruben Galvan, mainly because he's got nothing else to do. Thankfully, the fight was not in Vegas. Now that the suspended Tennessee Titan has the year free, may we suggest he try his hand at acting. First audition? The Longest Yard-Part II.

More trouble from the Imus scandal as new tapes reveal that he also said the Rutgers women's basketball team was "from New Jersey."

And the Chicago Blackhawks will have the first pick in the NHL Draft. The Blackhawks plan on using the pick to draft a new franchise. Either that or to draft fans that care.

For more of the Sports Minute (Or So), visit minuteorso.com

Thursday, April 12, 2007

sports minute

Written by Steve Hofstetter, Adam Hofstetter, Cody Marley, Ryan Murphy, Rich Ragains, Elliot Steingart, and Chris Strait

Snowstorms forced the Indians to play the Angels in Milwaukee. Fans at Miller Park were thankfully too drunk to tell the difference.

Elsewhere in baseball, Atlanta Braves pitcher Mike Hampton will miss his second straight season because of elbow surgery. Eric Gagne is suing for plagiarism.

Olympic sprinter Tim Montgomery pleaded guilty to conspiracy in a multi-million dollar bank fraud scheme. Too bad - Montgomery was planning to use the money to buy more steroids. Authorities plan on giving the sprinter five to ten years behind bars – if they can catch him.

The 300-pound, slow moving Florida manatee will be removed from the endangered species list and will instead play line for the Miami Dolphins. Although if he can pitch, the Padres are also interested.

A Slovenian man broke a world record by swimming down the Amazon River in 65 days, and is still furious with his travel agent. Americans would be more impressed if we could locate Slovenia on a map. Or the Amazon.

And UCLA's legendary basketball coach John Wooden has been hospitalized with a stomach problem. Doctors say the problem started after Wooden watched Yoakim Noah shoot a free throw. Doctors are optimistic, however. If Wooden survived the bling-bling era, he can probably pull through anything.

For more of the Sports Minute (Or So), visit minuteorso.com

Monday, April 9, 2007

new minute or so

Written by Steve Hofstetter, Adam Hofstetter, Cody Marley, Ryan Murphy, Rich Ragains, Elliot Steingart, and Chris Strait

International players now make up 29% of Major League Baseball. So if you've gotten an American education, that's more than half. The New York Mets have the most international players on their current roster with 72,000. Half of Boston's roster is foreign born, but they all get bussed in.

In Louisville, the saddle worn by last year's Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro is expected to fetch the highest bid at a charity auction. Expected to fetch the lowest bid? A large bottle of glue.

CFL running back Ricky Williams has applied to be reinstated in the NFL, after using up all the pot in Toronto. Scouts are skeptical, as Williams has already taken way too many hits.

In basketball, Wizards point guard Gilbert Arenas will likely miss the rest of the season after knee surgery. Many Wizards fans wish they could be so lucky. Arenas' injury is unfortunate, as he is the best team in the Eastern Conference.

And two 43-year old former world champion boxers squared off this week. The two were told to touch gloves, keep it clean, and put a coat on - it's cold out. We're looking forward to next week, when the winner takes on Max Schmeling.

For more of the Sports Minute (Or So), visit minuteorso.com

three words that come to mind... starring Sinbad

Grimwaldi (1:20:40 PM): Good Burger
JonChattman (1:21:32 PM): im a vegetarian
JonChattman (1:21:04 PM): Houseguest
Grimwaldi (1:22:42 PM): my guest anyday
Grimwaldi (1:23:09 PM): Jingle all the way
JonChattman (1:23:55 PM): lets rape christmas
JonChattman (1:24:48 PM): first kid
Grimwaldi (1:25:58 PM): Proof Democracy Sucks
Grimwaldi (1:26:48 PM): NECESSARY ROUGHNESS
JonChattman (1:27:35 PM): kathy ireland fumble
JonChattman (1:27:54 PM): meteor man
Grimwaldi (1:29:30 PM): /Townsend's career ends
Grimwaldi (1:30:16 PM): Coneheads
JonChattman (1:30:55 PM): My Soul Hurts

thecheappop interviews up-and-coming wrestler Ryan Drago

In the ring with rising grappler Ryan Drago
By Oliver Newman

ON: Can you tell the readers a little about yourself?
RD: I'm 24 years old, I began training in August of 2001 and made my debut in August of 2002. My trainers were "The American Dragon" Bryan Danielson, Mike Modest, Donovan Morgan and Bison Smith.

ON: Were you a Wrestling Fan growing up, and if so who were some of your favourites?
RD: I started watching Wrestling when I was 3. I liked the traditional heroes: Hulk Hogan, Ricky Steamboat, and The British Bulldogs.

ON: Was there a defining moment/match when you said this is what I want to do for a living?
RD: In the summer of 2000 my brother and I went to Los Angles for Extreme Championship Wrestling's 'Heatwave' PPV. I decided I wanted to be a wrestler when I saw the Van-Terminator (utilised by Rob Van Dam).

ON: Which Wrestling school did you go to?
RD: I found a relatively local place called Pacific Coast Sports. I say relatively, but it was actually a two hour drive each way.

ON: Who were you trained by?
RD: Initially, Donovan Morgan. A few months in though, he had a falling out with the company and left. Bryan took over training, I actually wound up getting a lot of extra training with Bryan, sometimes 2-4 hours a night more, since I was willing to stay late and get beat up by Sara Del Ray. I trained with Bryan for 9 months, up until he left for The Inoki/New Japan Dojo in L.A. After that, I moved to Donovan Morgan and Mike Modest's Pro-Wrestling IRON group, where I trained until it closed in August of 2005.

ON: Thoughts on your trainers?
RD: Bryan has an exceptional eye for detail. He's the type of guy who will spot the smallest flaw and point it out for correction. He was also very easy to get along with and never buried someone to placate his own ego. Mike Modest has an ESP when it comes to wrestling. I've seen him make a cup of coffee, (thus not watching the ring), then call the move/sequence back to us, point out what we did wrong and tell us what would have looked better. All seemingly without looking!

Donovan is one of the best guys I've met in wrestling. You do right by him and he'll fight to the death for you! There are a lot of bull shitters in wrestling, Donovan isn't one of them. He's just a great guy to work with. Bison, despite his size, is exceedingly kind. He always made time to work with anyone who needed or wanted help.

ON: Can you explain the trials and tribulations involved in training to become a Professional Wrestler?
RD: Training means turning your entire life upside down. It's a lifestyle and not one to be taken lightly! I actually weighed in at 250lbs when I started training. I also had about as much muscle on me as a 12 year old Ethiopian girl. This meant a complete overhaul of my diet and exercise routines. I literally ate egg whites, dry chicken breasts and tuna for 3 solid months. I would then run for an hour every morning before breakfast, then lift weights for two hours. This eventually lead to me dropping 50 pounds in 3 months.

There is also the driving to take into account. I had to drive 4 hours total, 3-5 days a week for 4 years. In that time I think I went through 3 cars! Injuries also tend to pile up quick when your working that hard and there's not much you can do other then take some Advil and tape it up.

There was actually a point when I bruised my static nerve and my legs would go numb every time I wrestled for about 8 or 9 weeks! I didn't tell anyone because I didn't want to take time off. The hard part (with injuries) was in training, when it would happen, trying to get up without giving away the fact that I was hurt.

ON: Thoughts on Sara Del Ray?
RD: She's a lady! (It's an inside joke, but if she reads that, she'll understand it). She is super nice and just as tough. I've seen guys that won't take half as much punishment as she will. She truly deserves all the praise she's been receiving lately. We actually started around the same time and trained together for about 3 and a half years. It's also nice to see a woman in Wrestling who's actually good, and not just good for being a woman!!

ON: Do you have a best or worst moment during training that you would like to tell the readers about?
RD: Not really a best or worst, just kind of a funny one. This happened early in my training. On this particular day, Brian "Spanky" Kendrick was the guest instructor. If you've never met him, let me say, he can be a bit head strong. Due to my transportation situation, I arrived late.

Upon seeing me, Brian told me to take off my shirt and go to the parking lot for cardio. Basically, he ran my ass off and yelled the whole time. At one point, during sprints, my Asthma started kicking in bad. I stopped to use my inhaler only to hear, "WHAT THE F--K ARE YOU DOING!?!!?" I looked up at him and he saw my inhaler and said "Oh." It's funny now, but it was gruelling as hell when it happened.

ON: Thoughts on Brian Kendrick as a wrestler and as a person?
RD: He's a nice guy and a good wrestler, just a bit head strong at times.

ON: You trained for a year before your debut match, what were you thoughts leading up to the match?
RD: As bad as it may sound, my thought was "About f--king time." A couple of guys I started with had already debuted. I was put on the back burner. It sucked because Bryan left for LA the same day I had my first match. I was sad he wasn't going to be able to give me input on it, but in retrospect, I'm glad he never saw it. It was bad!

ON: Thoughts on your opponent?
RD: His name was Robert, he was a nice enough guy.

ON: You wrestled the first match for new upstart promotion Pro Wrestling Guerrilla in July 2003. How did this come about and what were your immediate thoughts prior to your debut?
RD: Well, I actually wasn't booked. I had driven down with Hook Bomberry and Apolo Kahn, just for the hell of it! Apparently Phoenix Star didn't show up and Joey Ryan, who I'd wrestled previously, asked If I brought my gear. I did and he put me in the match. My opinion prior to the show was" How long is this going to last?". Considering what it takes monetarily to run a company like PWG, I wondered how long they would be able to do it. Apparently, quite long!

ON: You teamed with Topgun Talwar and Zokre v Charles Mercury, Sara Del Rey & Supa Badd, could you share your thoughts on the match?
RD: The first thought I had was "This match was going to be WAAAY too long". My concern was we were going to kill the rest of the card. An opening match, in my mind, should be fast paced, fun and under 10 minutes. We went 13+ minutes. If the opening match is the best of the night, why hang around for another 2 or 3 hours?

ON: Could you also share your thoughts on both your partners and your opponents?
RD: Topgun is damn funny, Zokre is good at Lucha. Charles has improved a lot thanks to training at Inoki Dojo, Supa Bad is a very nice guy and Sara, as mentioned earlier, is just awesome.

ON: The biggest match of your career thus far was a six man tag with You, Mike Modest & Donovan Morgan v Sal Thomaselli, Yoshinari Ogawa & Japanese legend Mitsuharu Misawa, tell us how you came to be involved in this match?
RD: In January of 2004, Mike had told me that they were going to start pitching me to the NOAH office to go and train in their dojo in Japan. In the months leading up to the shows, and really since I'd entered IRON, I'd been doing a lot of gofer work (Picking guys up at the airport, dropping tickets off, flyers etc). If it needed to be done I did it. A few weeks before the show, I got a call from Mike. We talked for a bit and he just sort of dropped it on me!

"You're going to be teaming with us against Misawa, Ogawa and Sal". I was actually pretty calm when he initially told me. We talked a bit more, I thanked him, then hung up the phone and yelled a very loud "F--k YEAH!!!".

ON: Your thoughts on the match?
RD: I was so scared! Misawa is my favourite wrestler and to be in the ring with him was unbelievable!!! I felt fine before and during the match, afterwards however, my heart just wouldn't stop pounding. He's much bigger then you'd guess. I always heard Japanese wrestlers worked their height, then I met him and suddenly felt very small!

ON :Thoughts on your opponents?
RD: Misawa is a legend and well deserving of that title. Hands down my favourite wrestler to watch. Ogawa is funny as hell and works a very underrated style. He tends to get over looked since he wrestles more like an American, but he's still quite good.

ON: Your next big match was against (PWG Battle Of Los Angeles winner) Davey Richards in Pro Wrestling War, thoughts on the match and Davey?
RD: I actually didn't like the match. Davey and I have fairly similar offence and it's actually kind of limiting to wrestle someone like that. Right off the bat you know you either have to cut a lot of your offence or do the same thing.

ON: How did you get the shot in TNA?
RD: Actually, Mike and Donovan got it hooked up through Terry Taylor. Terry told them to find a third guy for the match and they asked me to do it.

ON: Thoughts on match v LAX?
RD: Well if you break it down by pay vs. length of match, it was the most profitable match I've ever had!!

ON: Thoughts on LAX?
RD: They're some nice guys. Homicide has a pretty unique style, Konnan was good in his prime, but from what I understand his hip is pretty bad now. Machete, who was there third at the time, seemed to disappear pretty quick after that. I've never seen anything else of his.

ON: Thoughts on the NWA/AWS/WPW 2006 Best of the West tournament?
RD: I actually wanted to talk there and cry racism as the two Russian Jews were pitted against each other in myself and Alex Koslov! It was a fun match, I actually enjoyed it a lot. Also, in another example of me being a star maker, Alex got signed to CMLL not long after our match.

ON: Thoughts on Indy Promotions?
RD: I think the most important thing for any Indy promotion is to find a good balance. Too many companies try and do too much too soon (E.g.1PW) or they are too cheap when it comes to talent to ever draw. I believe, ultimately, it's good wrestling that brings people back. Not angles, gimmicks, or promos. If your not willing to spend the money to put on a good show or you are too careless with the money you have, you can look forward to very limited success in the wrestling business!!

ON: Do you have a favorite Wrestling promotion to watch in 2007 (if so why is said promotion your favourite)?
RD: Pro-Wrestling NOAH! It's hands down the best promotion in the world, and a place where you can see just about every type of wrestling done to it's fullest.

ON: Thoughts on WWE as we stand in 2007?
RD: They're doing their thing.

ON: Thoughts on TNA?
RD: I would like to see Impact extended to 2 hours. They have too many guys and too little TV time right now. I honestly don't watch wrestling on TV that often. I stick to DVD's as they tend to give me what I actually want.

ON: Thoughts on ROH as we stand in 2007?
RD: They seem to be doing good, hopefully, they won't stretch themselves too thin.

ON: Do you have a greatest moment/match of your career thus far?
RD: My greatest moment was getting to wrestle Mitsuharu Misawa, but my greatest match was with Nigel McGuiness.

ON: If you could pick one Ryan Drago match to showcase yourself to the readers which would it be?
RD: The one coming soon to their neck of the woods, so be sure to show up! Or they can just watch the matches on my (myspace) page.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

two 2006 retro concert reviews

By Diana P. Olano

I'm a complete anglophile. Going to Live from London showcase on March
21 at Bowery Ballroom was a no-brainer. I love music. I love British
people. I love British people who make music. And Bowery Ballroom is
probably the best venue in the city. As expected, it was not a
disappointing evening.

The first Londoner up that night was a rapper by the name of Plan B.
With a guitar in hand and a drummer to back him up, Plan B went off on
tirade of the troubles of living in the London ghettos. I'm not
opposed to rap and music of the like, but Plan B and his lyrics of
prostitutes, drug addictions, sexually transmitted diseases, and other
more depressing subjects made me a bit suicidal. At least his singing
was a nice calm in between the abrasive shouts for AIDS prevention.

Boy Kill Boy was up next, and from what friends had told me, they were
going to be fun. And that's exactly what they were: fun, with typical
Brit-indie pop songs that I'm a bit tired of hearing, actually. Their
single "Suzie" had most of the crowd singing along, but during other
songs, I got kind of, um, bored. Too many bands are playing the same
style. Boy Kill Boy are just another.

However, I would have rather taken another set from Boy Kill Boy then
endure what was about to follow.

Towers of London are a wannabe Sex Pistols band but come off trying
too hard, with their teased hair (I wonder how long they spent hair
spraying it), matching wife beaters, and beat up chuck taylors. The
songs were nothing special. With a name like "Towers of London", I
didn't actually expect something worth hearing. And the band, which
apparently weren't wanted for this showcase, gave it to us like we
actually knew who they were, and then some.

You're not supposed to fear for your safety at a show. When the lead
singer swung the mic all over the front row and barely missed
clobbering someone in the audience, I got a bit scared. When he tossed
a chair around the stage, I got a little more scared. Luckily, that's
as far as it went. Until they ended their set, that is. In trying to
aim at a man who was telling the band off (and rightfully so), the
guitarist kicked the mic stand, missed his heckler, and hit an
innocent bystander on her forehead. I can still hear her wailing as
she was dragged out of the main floor, grabbing her bleeding head. I
hope she sued the douchebags.

Headliners The Rakes came on shortly after and saved the night.
They're in the vein of the British dance bands that have recently come
out of the woodwork, but they still remain distinct in their sound,
lyrics, and performance.

Lead singer Alan Donahoe flailed and twitched his way through an
energized setlist that kicked off with "Terror!" and never let down.
The audience, which I noticed consisted of more Brits than usual,
danced, pogoed and chanted lyrics throughout the night. Someone
eventually threw a beer cup at Donahoe, which landed directly on his
chest. I think it's a British thing. Shows appreciation or something.
Whatever. The Rakes reminded us scenester New Yorkers why deep down,
we all want to be a little English: They know how to have a good time.


By Diana P. Olano

I'm a complete anglophile. Going to Live from London showcase on March
21 at Bowery Ballroom was a no-brainer. I love music. I love British
people. I love British people who make music. And Bowery Ballroom is
probably the best venue in the city. As expected, it was not a
disappointing evening.

The first Londoner up that night was a rapper by the name of Plan B.
With a guitar in hand and a drummer to back him up, Plan B went off on
tirade of the troubles of living in the London ghettos. I'm not
opposed to rap and music of the like, but Plan B and his lyrics of
prostitutes, drug addictions, sexually transmitted diseases, and other
more depressing subjects made me a bit suicidal. At least his singing
was a nice calm in between the abrasive shouts for AIDS prevention.

Boy Kill Boy was up next, and from what friends had told me, they were
going to be fun. And that's exactly what they were: fun, with typical
Brit-indie pop songs that I'm a bit tired of hearing, actually. Their
single "Suzie" had most of the crowd singing along, but during other
songs, I got kind of, um, bored. Too many bands are playing the same
style. Boy Kill Boy are just another.

However, I would have rather taken another set from Boy Kill Boy then
endure what was about to follow.

Towers of London are a wannabe Sex Pistols band but come off trying
too hard, with their teased hair (I wonder how long they spent hair
spraying it), matching wife beaters, and beat up chuck taylors. The
songs were nothing special. With a name like "Towers of London", I
didn't actually expect something worth hearing. And the band, which
apparently weren't wanted for this showcase, gave it to us like we
actually knew who they were, and then some.

You're not supposed to fear for your safety at a show. When the lead
singer swung the mic all over the front row and barely missed
clobbering someone in the audience, I got a bit scared. When he tossed
a chair around the stage, I got a little more scared. Luckily, that's
as far as it went. Until they ended their set, that is. In trying to
aim at a man who was telling the band off (and rightfully so), the
guitarist kicked the mic stand, missed his heckler, and hit an
innocent bystander on her forehead. I can still hear her wailing as
she was dragged out of the main floor, grabbing her bleeding head. I
hope she sued the douchebags.

Headliners The Rakes came on shortly after and saved the night.
They're in the vein of the British dance bands that have recently come
out of the woodwork, but they still remain distinct in their sound,
lyrics, and performance.

Lead singer Alan Donahoe flailed and twitched his way through an
energized setlist that kicked off with "Terror!" and never let down.
The audience, which I noticed consisted of more Brits than usual,
danced, pogoed and chanted lyrics throughout the night. Someone
eventually threw a beer cup at Donahoe, which landed directly on his
chest. I think it's a British thing. Shows appreciation or something.
Whatever. The Rakes reminded us scenester New Yorkers why deep down,
we all want to be a little English: They know how to have a good time.


new minute or so

Written by Steve Hofstetter, Adam Hofstetter, Cody Marley, Ryan Murphy, Rich Ragains, Elliot Steingart, and Chris Strait

Congratulations to Sammy Sosa on making the Texas Rangers opening day roster. Thankfully for Sosa, most restaurants in Arlington do not charge a corkage fee.

Those watching a recent Cubs-Diamondbacks game were treated to a rare sight: a female umpire. Just what ballplayers need - an official who remembers the details of every single argument, and will also bring up arguments from previous games.

In basketball, LeBron James cheered up his teammates after their loss to the Knicks by taking them to a topless bar. His plan worked great - it was the most focused the team has been all year long.

Injured superstar Dewayne Wade practiced for the first time in 6 weeks and should be ready for the playoffs, assuming the Eastern Conference bothers to show up.

Golf Digest did not include Trump International Golf Club on its list of "America's 100 Greatest Courses." Reviewers didn't like the way the sand traps had been combed over. And the casino on the 12th hole is just gaudy.

The NFL has cancelled an exhibition game in China between the Patriots and Seahawks, disappointing the millions of Matt Hasselback fans in mainland China.

And NFL League owners have voted 30-2 to make the video replay system a permanent officiating tool. In related news, NFL League owners have voted 30-2 to make the video replay system a permanent officiating tool. The Detroit Lions will not use the replay system, as they always make the same mistakes anyway.

For more of the Sports Minute (Or So), visit minuteorso.com

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

new sports minute... or so

Written by Steve Hofstetter, Adam Hofstetter, Cody Marley, Ryan Murphy, Rich Ragains, Elliot Steingart, and Chris Strait

Former major league pitcher Ugueth Urbina has been sentenced to 14 years in prison for the attempted murder of five workers on his family's ranch. Urbina is still thankful he doesn't have to play for the Cubs. No one was actually killed in the incident – and we thought Urbina was a closer.

Yao Ming's basketball jersey is not among the top sellers in China, mainly because all those jerseys look alike.

The NBA and the Cleveland Cavaliers have said that LeBron James will no longer be allowed to have his son sit on the bench. David Wesley is thrilled, as he will get his seat back. James also just finished building a massive house that includes a theater, bowling alley, casino and barber shop. The house is so cool, you almost forget the front door is located in Cleveland. When James retires, he can sell the place and buy a studio apartment in New York.

Turning to college, the son of North Carolina State basketball coach Sidney Lowe faces more than 20 criminal charges from two separate attacks. Authorities predict he could be sentenced to 25 years on the Cincinnati Bengals.

Former Bears LB Steve McMichael has been named the head coach of the Chicago Slaughter, a seven-man indoor football team. McMichael said that it's one notch below arena football, which makes it three notches below Rock-Paper-Scissors.

And four men have been arrested after part of a man's ear was bitten off during a Greece/Turkey soccer brawl. Mike Tyson has since apologized. This kind of soccer hooliganism is more common in England, since a human ear is a nice alternative to British cooking.

For more of the Sports Minute (Or So), visit minuteorso.com

Monday, April 2, 2007

Bring back BBD

Bell Biv DeVoe... we miss you like the deserts miss the rain.

Friday, March 30, 2007

the office's kevin... on thecheappop dot com

New Sports Minute

Written by Steve Hofstetter, Adam Hofstetter, Cody Marley, Ryan Murphy, Rich Ragains, Elliot Steingart, and Chris Strait

The World Chess Federation says it's going to start testing for performance enhancing drugs. Like No-Doze.

In cricket, a pathology report has indicated that Pakistani coach Bob Woolmer died of manual strangulation. Latrell Sprewell was unavailable for comment. It's believed to be the biggest sports choke since the 2004 ALCS.

Major League Baseball mandated each team watch a film on the dangers and consequences of steroid use. In an interesting twist, the film was projected on the back of Barry Bonds' head.

Basketballer LeBron James has acquired a minority ownership of Cannondale, a manufacturer of high-end bicycles. It's nice to see James will have something to fall back on in case this whole basketball thing doesn't work out. James has been advised to invest wisely, so that when he retires, he will be able to put gas in all 8 of his private planes.

At the world swimming championships, the United States won four gold medals and set three world records. The United States has the second most powerful swimmers in the world, just behind Tom Brady.

And inspired by his brother's performance on Saturday Night Live, Eli Manning will begin working with a comedy troupe: the Giants minicamp. Eli also proposed to his girlfriend of five years this week which frustrated Giants fans: they are still waiting for Manning to come around. Congratulations, Eli – this is probably the only ring in your career.

For more of the Sports Minute (Or So), visit minuteorso.com

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Coming of Age

buy it now. click the pic.

Stache of the Day

Mr. Hal Linden... With decades with a wonderful mustache (we'll forgive you for your dark goatee period), you sir are our ... Stache of the Day

Monday, March 19, 2007

This just in...

James Cromwell, sir... you are one sexy bitch.

Archived movie review: V for Vendetta

'V' for victorious:
Controversial new film is first-rate

By Jon Chattman, for thecheappop.com

MARCH 14, 2006- For years, films based on comic books have gotten a bad rap and rightfully so. Did we really need to see Richard Pryor playing a villain in a lame "Superman" sequel? No. What about Dolph Lundgren in black leather as "The Punisher?" No one needs to see that (and few did). But, something has happened in recent years in cinema. While there still is plenty of superhero celluloid clunkers like "The Fantastic Four," filmmakers like Sam Raimi, Bryan Singer, and Christopher Nolan have revitalized the genre. "Spiderman II," the first two "X-Men" films, and "Batman Begins," have proven there can substance in the storytelling of men in tights, and thankfully "V For Vendetta," the new politically charged film based loosely on the DC Comics' graphic novel by Alan Moore, joins that select company.

The film, which opens Friday, March 17 (postponed from a November 2005 release due to the London bombing attacks last fall), takes place in Great Britain, a fascist state ruled by Chancellor Adam Sutler (John Hurt), who runs a government that is always watching, and handily punishes its citizens if their actions are deemed unacceptable under standards they have set. In essence, people fear Sutler and their government, but that's all about to change. The story unfolds with Evey Hammond (Natalie Portman in yet another remarkable performance), a young woman who is rescued from assailants by a masked man, who lets her in on his plan. The man, who calls himself "V," dresses in black and hides behind a Guy Fawkes mask, is on a mission: He wants the people to overthrow the government. "People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people," he tells her. Before long, V makes a statement and takes to the airwaves telling people in a year, Nov. 5 to be exact ("Remember, remember the fifth of November"); he'll blow up Parliament. In essence, V is a freedom fighter that terrorizes a government who terrorizes its citizens with tyranny and oppression. As months, weeks, and days go by leading up to Nov. 5, the government, notably an antiestablishment agent Finch (Stephen Rea) and Evey uncover V's motives. His actions are all about revenge, and are connected with a disheartening governmental cover-up that's also quite personal.

Andy and Larry Wachowski, the men behind "The Matrix" trilogy, a series lost on this reviewer, deserve all the credit here for creating a captivating story that makes you think: something that's lacking in today's films. Matched with the script, first time director James McTeigue, who was a part of "The Matrix" production team, matched with production designer Owen Paterson, create an authentic dark Orwellian world. The performances better the material. Anyone who has seen her in "The Professional," "Beautiful Girls," "Closer," and "Garden State," know that Portman is an accomplished actress who doesn't need a blue screen. The "Star Wars" prequels failed to capitalize on her talents, but thankfully this film is able to show her range. Spotty accent aside, Portman, who's wrongfully getting more press for shaving her head for the role, nicely shows her character's progression from a vulnerable young woman to a fearless heroine. Her performance is matched by "The Matrix" and "Lord of the Rings" star Hugo Weaving as V. That's quite phenomenal when you consider he's able to create raw emotions behind a mask the entire time. The supporting work is also terrific, but it's Rea and Stephen Frey as Evey's boss Deitrich who standout. The latter is especially memorable.

"V For Vendetta" is the first great film of 2006. Like "Batman Begins," it's not merely all action. There's a lot of raw emotion and great relevant storytelling here. In an age where President George W. Bush's approval ratings are sinking by the minute and terrorism is always a threat, I can't think of a more relevant film to come out this year or any year for that matter. It'll be interesting to see how the public reacts to it.

Archived Review: Grinch on Broadway

At the Hilton Theater, New York

By Gary Chattman

Be careful! All you children from 10-100! There is someone—or something—on Broadway that will possibly steal all the joy from your Christmas celebration! He is THE GRINCH, and you can find him at the Hilton Theatre until January 7, 2007. But be careful! This GRINCH, as played by Patrick Page (who, in an interview, told his auditioners that he would give this musical “heart”) will not only steal your Christmas presents, but steal the hearts of all!

Mr. Page is the heart and soul of this production. His personality is overwhelming—and for an hour-and-a-half the words of Dr. Seuss (Theodor eisel) are brought to live in this larger-than-life show. He sings! He scowls! He laughs! He appeals!

At this theatre, on one December day, this show, with enthusiastic direction by Matt August, delightful choreography by John Deluca and Bob Richard, the audience is pelted with snow! And, as we have seen, the sets by Beatty and lighting by Pat Collins shine! For we thoroughly enjoyed this show, sublime!

You can hear John Collum (as Old Max—the dog) narrates; you can see Rusty Ross, who plays Young Max; you see a White Cast, Red Cast, and lots of energy: that’s the facts.

So forget the forgetful music, and don’t watch your watch for the time; instead enjoy this muse—with words from Dr. Seuss!

Archived theater review: Mary Poppins on Broadway

At the New Amsterdam Theatre, New York City
Opens November 16, 2006
By Gary Chattman

“Just a spoonful of sugar will help the medicine go down”…says one song from the Cameron MacIntosh/Disney show “Mary Poppins”, based on the stories of P.L. Travers and the Walt Disney movie. And you can bet that this show gives its audience more than just a “spoonful of sugar”. It is a delightful romp for all ages; those who are young, those who are older and those who are young-at-heart!

The direction of Richard Eyre is seamless. The scenic and costume design by Bob Crowley rule. You simply won’t believe the (expensive) floating in-and-out of the home of the Banks family, on “Cherry Tree Lane”! You will marvel at the dancing, created by choreographer George Stiles and Matthew Bourne! Watch for Mary Poppins (played with command, talent, cheek and excellent voice by Ashley Brown) float off into the night, over the heads of the audience! Watch for Gavin Lee, imported from the British show, dance rings around the proscenium! Both these performers make one forget Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke! In an interview, Gavin Lee stated that the part of Bert always would be the “property” of Mr. Van Dyke. When you see his energy…verve…talent…you forget Van Dyke! This marvel of a show makes one forget the mundane of everyday life, and it becomes quite “Supercalifragilistic-expialidocious!”

No expense has been found lacking in this “Practically Perfect” musical, with added music to the Sherman Brothers’ original score by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe. The book by Julian Fellowes follows more the wishes of the author, who complained (with a “wink”) about the Disney version that was too saccharine.

We find the Banks family, typically dysfunctional, consisting of bank officer George (played by the genius of “BigRiver”, Daniel Jenkins), who was raised as a child by an evil nanny (scene-stealer Ruth Gottschall). His austere childhood prevents him from connecting and loving his children (Katherine Leigh Doherty and Matthew Gumley, who at their young ages seem like stage veterans) or his wife (played by the golden voice of the recent revival of “Music Man”, Rebecca Luker). Enter the “magical” nanny, Mary Poppins. Mary revitalizes this family with her ally Bert, and various come-to-life statues, birds, stars—and even Queen Victoria! What a plot! What music! (Did anyone hum “Chim Chim Cheree?) What a show! “Step in Time” to the New Amsterdam Theatre. Bring your kids, bring your nephews and nieces, bring your neighbor’s kids—or bring the kid that lurks within you. One lady was overheard at intermission, marveling with nostalgia and love, at the show. She said “I saw this movie with my late grandmother—now I’m at the show.” Such is the remembrance for “Mary Poppins”—the show, in the year 2006: ”It’s a Jolly Holiday”—for all!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Friday, March 16, 2007

captain obvious archives

The Cheap Pop's World of Captain Obvious
Captain Obvious presents - 2/16/06
Things I know in 2006
10. Meg White still won't be able to sing
9. The West Wing will head South
8. Gorillaz will remain animated
7. I will urinate on the toilet seat
6. The Yankees will buy another Pennant
5. Beastie Boys will play "Root Down" at some point
4. I will have a really witty answer for number two
3. Jimmy Eat World will actually digest earth
2. Dick Butkis won't be on the Sports Illustrated swimsuit cover
1. My cell phone plan will expire

Captain Obvious presents
19 things I would do if I had a vagina...
1) I'd like get pregnant and shit
2) I'd wear a bra
3) I'd look good dancing
4) I'd shop until I'd drop
5) I'd hate men
6) I'd really identify with Ellen DeGeneris
7) I'd wear high heels
8) I'd take baths
9) I'd like do stuff
10) I'd wear dresses and people wouldn't look at me funny
11) I'd see "Brokeback Mountain" and like it
12) I'd have a period once a month
13) I'd really dig Sarah MacLachlan
14) I'd chew bubblegum loadly
15) I'd play shuffleboard
16) I'd have a crush on Willie Nelson
17) I'd watch "Charmed" and "the OC" and like it
18) I'd have sex with men often
19) I'd read books

Captain Obvious presents 11 things I'd like to see in "Memoirs of a Geisha"
1) McGruff the crimefighting dog solving key plot twists
2) Ken Watanabe's secret fascination with Richard Simmons' "Sweating to the Oldies" tapes
3) Vic Tayback of "Alice" brought back to life via CGI
4) Tyne Daly reading an excerpt of "The Bridges of Madison County"
5) A Michael Bay car explosion
6) Dontrelle Willis of the Florida Marlins questioning Ziyi Zhang about the team's recent firesale
7) Scrooge McDuck spreading Christmas cheer
8) Chow Yun Fat selling yogurt
9) Former professional wrestler George "The Animal" Steele smelling cherry blossoms
10) Sigourney Weaver killing aliens
11) Dick Butkis in a Kimono

Captain Obvious presents
10 words that come to my mind when I think of singer Dido:
1) Delicate
2) Granola
3) Florida
4) Music
5) Sandwiches
6) Seagulls
7) Sunset
8) Bagels
9) Piano
10) Quiche

Captain Obvious presents
Thanks Mr. Conductor, get me the F off
November 29, 2005

They can keep putting "The Polar Express" back in the theaters, re-release it on IMAX screens, put it on DVD shelves- heck throw it up on one of those frickin' old school View Finders, and one thing is simply not going to change: the movie sucks ass. For the children who skipped it last year, and the parents who have yet to drag their Christian offspring to it, here's the deal: Robert Zemekis and Tom Hanks reteamed last holiday season to bring a creepy computer animated film about Christmas where all of the characters look disturbingly awkward. They're not human, they're not cartoons... WHAT THE FUCK ARE THEY? Nobody knows... Well, if anyone does, it's Tom Hanks who plays about half a dozen characters in the film. The film's story centers on Santa Claus and whether or not the red and white fucker is real or not... why? Because one boy stops believing... guess the kid didn't get the memo his parents sent that Saint Nick is about as real as Courtney Love's heroin addiction (oh wait, that's a shitty pun)... Anyways, on Christmas Eve, the doubting alien boy wakes up and much to his surprise isn't woken by a sleigh or reindeer bells, but a fucking steam engine. Yeah, okay whatever, Tom Hanks. You're full of shit! So, anyway this conductor invites him on board to take a journey to the North Pole with many apparently homeless children. Eventually, SPOILER ALERT, the kid finds out there is a Santa. Fuck that shit! So, as you can see, this movie offers nothing new to the holiday genre. Throw it up on screens in 3D, make it somehow play on the microwave oven... shit, make it blow me for $5, and "The Polar Express" will keep on sucking. But, I digress, it'll keep coming back like herpes! And Mr. Hanks, throw Peter Scolari a bone would ya!?!

Caption Obvious Presents...
Goodnight sweet Ted

Ted Koppel will leave ABC TV's "Nightline" on Tuesday night after some 25 years of delivering the news. Mr. Koppell never went for the laughs like his competitors (Leno, Letterman). He's a newsman, and with that thecheappop salutes him with our first and final column about Ted Koppel.... THINGS TED KOPPELL WON'T SAY WHEN HE SIGNS OFF OF "NIGHTLINE"....

1. "My vagina hurts."
2. "You want Top Ten Lists? How about top ten ways I can kick your ass, Letterman!"
3. "Goodbye ABC, hello Vodka"
4. "And, I leave you with this, Carol Channing is a revelation."
5. "Calgon take me away"
6. "Where's the beef?"
7. "I thank you for allowing me into your homes... my hair thanks you as well."
8. "Wow, Davy Jones is on thecheappop?"
9. "As Jerry Lewis used to say, you'll never walk alone"
10. "Look at my I'm crazy mophead... now give me some candy"

Caption Obvious presents..
"I'm Too Sexy" For This Article

So, People Magazine wants to name Matthew McCoughnay the "sexiest man" alive? Please! I mean that guy pumps out more bad movies than Nicole Richie and Paris Hilton combined! Sure, he's got the looks and the pecs but doesn't artistic expression play into this at all? I mean maybe if People wanted to have a contest for most sexiest naked bongo player, McCoughnay (that's spelled wrong on purpose people) would be a shoo-in. I'm heterosexual, but I can name at least five dudes who I'd rather shag... you know, if I were gay. Here's the very first Captain Obvious Most Sexiest List... It's a top 8 list... why only 8... because it's time for pasta:
1) Wilfred Brimley: This lovable crusty man is not only a fine actor, but once sold me some oatmeal. He scores even more points because he uttered the word "fart" in "Cocoon."
2) Nelson Mandela: Hey, why not? All this guy's ever asked for is freedom... This is America, People Magazine!
3) Neil Diamond: Turn on your heartlight? More like turn on your heartthrob! This singer/songwriter makes not only girls moan but heterosexual and homosexual guys too! Something tells me if he brought back those porkchop sideburns, he would've edged out that "Sahara" actor - easy.
4) Al Roker: I ask for the news, and this sexy-now-somewhat-slender African American gives me the weather.
5) KD Lang: If only she had a penis.
6) Victor Zambrano: This New York Mets pitcher didn't have much value, but he's got kind of a unibrow and if Salma Hayek has thought us anything, it's unibrows are cool.
7) Adam Curry: This radio host and former MTV God hasn't been seen on television for years, but something tells me that big blond mullet is alive and well and just waiting to be pictured on the People pages.
8) Chris Elliot: "Get a Life?" More like get thee to a photo shoot. This sexy, underrated comedian, who made appearances on "Everybody Loves Raymond" and "There's Something About Mary," must look like an Adonis without his shirt.

Captain Obvious presents:
1 thing that piss me off
November 15, 2005
when people walk into the next bathroom stall when you're still setting the tissue down on the toilet to cover your ass from anal diseases.

Sorry only could come up with one.

Captain Obvious presents:
Rock on you crazy diamond
November 8, 2005

"I don't know much, but I know I love you." Those were the immortal words of Aaron Neville and Linda Ronstandt back in the 1980s, and I'll be damned if those lyrics still don't get the tears going. But, anyways, few things in life are certain, but here's five things I can always bank on when it comes to music:

5. A Kelly Clarkson and/or Rob Thomas song every five minutes on WPLJ radio
4. Endless curiousity whether T'Pau are lesbians as "Heart and Soul" plays
3. Not taking it personally when Tom Petty tells me "Don't Come Around Here No More"
2. Nickelback sucking
1. The Black Eyed Peas repeatedly referring to themselves in their songs

Captain Obvious presents
Some things in life are certain
October 26, 2005

They say nothing in life is certain: Natural disasters are unpredictable. Death can come without warning. Your car could suddenly break down. I could stop writing this column mid-sentence. But having said that, there are a few exceptions to that notion, and I'd like to share two of them with you right now. First, I'd like to say Traveling Matt from "Fraggle Rock" got around. But, more importantly, secondly, I'm 100 percent sure that Chicago rocked when Peter Cetera was fronting the band. Sure, the band still performs with some original members, but it's simply not the same. To take a page post-Cetera, when you see this Chicago walking by, "Baby, look away." What other artist could bring so much raw emotion to a pop ballad that Cetera did? "You're the Inspiration?" That song, in a word, was friggin' "inspirational" because that legendary vocalist was behind the mic. And, what other artist could sing a song about math ("25 or 6 to 4") with such interest and fortitude?
Yes, "From Baby, What A Big Surprise" to "Hard Habit to Break," the latter of which he only sang background vocals, Cetera brought his A-game to a B-band day in and day out. When he left the group in the 1980s, it was like a "where were you" moment in the rock and roll community. Everyone remembers the day Elvis died, the "Dallas" episode when JR was shot, and when that Breakstone guy started selling sour cream, and the same can be said for the day in which Cetera decided to leave Chicago for Okinawa. In 1985, Cetera sang the greatest song ever to appear in a movie with Pat Morita: "Glory of Love" from "The Karate Kid II." (Ralph Macchio is probably still talking this coup up to his friends today.)
As the years went on, Chicago performed without Cetera and the artist had more hits on his own or with white women with frizzy hair he dueted with. The song "After All" from the film "Chances Are" had the singer trading verses with Cher. "Look out Sonny Bono" was a slogan that took America by storm shortly after the film's release. In recent years (the 1990s-early 2000s), Chicago and Cetera have been missing from the public scene. Something tells me, though, if they both joined forces once again they could be the biggest rock group ever again. Chicago once had a Top Ten hit with Jerry Scheff on vocals called "Will You Still Love Me?" I answer with a definite: yes. Join forces Chicago and Cetera. And, when you do just make sure your albums are numbered.

CO's Guide to winter
- October 16, 2005

1) When it is snowing, wear a hat and scarf or you'll get a cold.
2) If the temperature goes below 30 degrees, that means it's chilly.
3) It's never too early to shop for Christmas (even if you're Jewish).
4) Pandas aren't your friend.
5) Salt on the roads is different than salt in your soup.
6) If you leave your house without mittens, and it's cold, you'll die.
7) It's normal for the cheeks on your face to be red in the winter, but if your ass cheeks are it means you have an STD.
8) Jack Frost may nip at your nose, but you'll never see him unless you drop acid.
9) Oatmeal will warm you up, but it'll give you the shits.
10) I can't spell ice-sa-cles.

Hal Sparks interview

archived interview: Hal Sparks

By Jon Chattman, October 2006 for thecheappop.com
Only a few things in life can always be funny:
A dreadfully loud fart in a quiet place is a given. A person tripping on the sidewalk is a sure bet. Hal Sparks? Well, he makes it okay for adults to pee themselves silly. Yes, the comedian, who by appearing on various "I Love the..." VH1 specials has now displaced Rob Thomas as the channel's poster boy, has the power to make us laugh with a simple snide comment, gesture or smirk. Case in point: he stole a scene in "Spider-Man 2" by simply riding on an elevator with the web hero. But, there's more to Sparks than drawing laughs. He's arguably best known for playing Michael Novotny on the acclaimed Showtime drama "Queer as Folk" and most recently for out singing deadbeats on "Celebrity Duets." In addition, he's a martial artist, and lead singer and guitarist for the band ZERO 1. But, let's be honest. This interview aims for the cheap laughs. How could we pose serious questions to a guy who once played tonsil hockey with a Furby and outed "He-Man" on national television?

JC) You've been on all of VH1's decade specials and their sequels: "I Love the '70s," "I Love the '80s," and so on.
Do you think it's premature to start an "I Love the 2000s" special?

HS) When I walk around with my friends and family, I am constantly commenting on current pop culture, political and social goings on. I guess it depends on how you view the shows. If they are about nostalgia, then yes. It's a little weird to get wistful about something that happened last Thursday, but if you just want me to make up some funny shit about what you just saw so we can all have a good laugh then hell, I'll do "I Love 7:25 a.m. This Morning!” I have been working with a psychic to begin writing for the 2007 episode of "I Love the New Millennium". You are going to laugh your ass when you see the clips from Bush's impeachment... hi-larious!

JC) I'll set the TiVo. Hey, is it true that you and Michael Ian Black tried to negotiate with VH1 to be on the air for 23 out of 24 hours a day?

HS) Quite the opposite. We had no idea we were being filmed all this time. We had lunch with this chick from VH1, who turned out to be a cyborg. She had a camera installed in her nose stud. Michael and I felt really used, but like in a good way.

JC) Keeping with that theme but not really, what do you think is the best invention to take off in the 1980s:the Rubik's Cube, the Slinky, or the Rick Moranis? Please explain.
HS) [The] Rubik's Cube, because it still makes a funny paperweight/ADD toy/"wow, I used to have one of those!" conversation piece. The Slinky always sucked, still does. The only thing good was the ad. The song was catchy. It turned out to be total bullshit though. They don't walk down stairs alone or in pairs! Crap! And, as far as I know Rick Moranis was invented in 1953 in Canada. So, better than a Slinky, not as '80s as a Rubik's Cube.

JC) Be honest, you still use a Trapper Keeper.
HS) I do, but only to hold my loose leaf printed version of the Anarchist Cookbook.

JC) Moving on, you worked with Cagney on "Queer as Folk," is it a lifelong goal to work with Lacey?
HS) Er, no. See I worked with the actress who played Christine Cagney. She and "Lacey" are fictional characters. Thanks for letting me know you are a crazy person who has trouble telling reality from fantasy in the first three minutes of the interview, though. Check, please!

JC) But, wait, I didn't order anything. I'll have the chef's salad. Oh wait, sorry, anyway is it true you don't drink alcohol? If so, can you explain how you resisted Zima back in 1994?
HS) It is true. I used the force.
JC) Nice. You speak Mandarin Chinese. Would you have been a better choice than Tia Carrere in "Wayne's World?"
HS) No, Rob Lowe was speaking Cantonese in the movie. So the scene wouldn't have worked (I would have looked hot, but confused) Plus, it would have taken the wind out of "Brokeback Mountain's " sails had I had a scene with Mike Myers prancing in his drawers way back then.

JC) That's a good point, and not too many people know this, but you have several black belts in martial arts. Have you ever kicked someone's ass?
HS) No. I usually aim for the ribs, stomach or the side of the head.

JC) Oh, that reminds me "Dude, Where's My Car?" No, seriously, where is it?
HS) It got towed! Dude, look at the sign! It's Tuesday! 12-2! Dur! Mystery solved.

JC) Damn, I keep forgetting. Anywho, this is the cheap pop, take the time now to plug whatever you want...What projects are you currently working on?
HS) Work! ha ha! I'm voicing a cartoon for Nickelodeon called "Tak and the Power of Juju" (I'm Tak) and I hosted a show for the WB called "Survival of The Richest" that starts airing March 31. My band ZERO 1 is going into the studio Feb. 18 to finish our album. Doug Pinnick of King's X is producing (http://www.kingsxonline.com/) and I'm in development to do two features in China this year. And, I'm going to tour doing Stand-up off and on all year.

JC) Do you ever miss your Talk Soup days?
HS) I really liked doing daily comedy on TV. But, I don't miss E!

JC) Speaking of E!, I'm going to rip this next question from the headlines. Do you lie awake at night concerned about Lindsay Lohan's driving?

HS) No. I pay a photographer to get plenty of pictures of her driving so I can see that she's okay. He gets really good close-ups.
JC) Last question, Hal. Thanks again for the interview. We all need inspiration. If you could give any advice to anyone, what would it be and why?
HS) Never Quit. Always improve. Fear Nothing....and floss.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Stache of the Day: Heath Ledger

Heath Ledger went bert at last month's Independent Spirit Awards and for that... Mr. Ledger - you sir are our Stache of the Day!

Monday, March 12, 2007

Three words that enter your mind... Movie Edition

Introducing a new feature on thecheappop.com's blog... What's three words that enter your mind when you hear....

This regular feature is essentially an Instant Message conversation about what enters your mind when you hear a word... in this case, it's a movie. This week Jon Chattman chats it up with Mark Lungariello...

JonChattman: Executive Decision
Grimwaldi: Smell. Like clams.
Grimwaldi: Chairman of the Board
JonChattman: Suicide for eyes
JonChattman: Xanadu
Grimwaldi: Olivia Newton-Flop
JonChattman: Old Gringo
Grimwaldi: never saw it
Grimwaldi: Million Dollar Baby
JonChattman: swank big jaw
JonChattman: Batman and Robin
Grimwaldi: Oh my gay


as in 300 lines of shitty dialogue...

Sexual Explosion Inside Liza Minnelli?

Nah, but we at thecheappop would like to wish Ms. Minelli a very happy birthday... you don't look a day older than death.

Heavy Jon and the Alou

Welcome to New York, Moises. Can I call you... um Moises?

nice bert link


Sunday, March 11, 2007

Embrace the Stache

thecheappop.com will soon be re-embracing that beautiful patch of fur above a grown man's lip.... coming soon thecheappop.com's all-things-stache section.

It's a bird...it's a plane..it's an old movie review!

It's a bird...it's a plane... It's a reviewer breaking out his old
Superman underoos

Movie review: Superman Returns
Thanks to Singer, a hero is reborn

By Jon Chattman - June 2006

As Lois Lane, Kate Bosworth's hair looks like it hasn't been washed in
weeks. The curly brown style with a hint of highlights looks right out
of a bad 1980s TV Movie. Thankfully, that, for the most part, is the
only thing wrong with "Superman Returns," a masterwork from director
Bryan Singer that ranks with "X2," "Batman Begins," and "Spiderman" as
the best superhero movies ever. At the very least, it's the first true
superhero epic.

Singer made headlines by opting out of the third "X-Men" film in favor
of helming the Man of Steel. That decision ended up weakening the
mutant franchise (Brett Ratner took over the reigns
and while "X3" is somewhat entertaining, it lacked the meat the first two films had), but breathing new life
into Superman, who last appeared on screen opposite a bleach-blond Jon
Cryer - nuff said.
While he reinvents the DC hero for modern audiences, Singer pays homage
to the superior but dated 1978 original directed by Richard Donner
-both starring the late Christopher Reeve. In many ways, the movie
feels like a sequel to the first two superior films. It helps that
Brandon Routh, in the title role, bares a striking resemblance to
Reeve. But, "Superman Returns" stands on its own as a film force. It
opens with the man in tights returning to Metropolis after doing some
soul searching in his native Krypton. He had left the city some five or
six years ago to find out who he really is and what his purpose is in
life. With the words of his late father Kal-El(the late Marlon Brando
resurrected from the original film to great effect)ringing in his head,
he realizes he's here to protect and serve the people of earth. And,
boy does he.

Superman makes his comeback public by saving a space shuttle from
crashing into a baseball stadium. The sequence is nothing short of
breathtaking.His return, which coincides with alt-ego ClarkKent's
return to the Daily Planet (I still find it amazing no one realizes
Kent is Superman because of some nerdy specs- but I digress), is
welcomed with open arms especially by Daily Planet editor Perry White
(Frank Langella), a news whore who's always out to sell papers.
Longtime love Lois Lane (Bosworth) isn't quite as excited. She's still
ticked off that Superman left her without a goodbye. (Kent leaving
apparently didn't hurt too bad.) But, the ace reporter has moved on, on
the surface anyway. She's engaged to White's nephew Richard (James
Marsden of "X-Men" fame) and has a son Jason (Tristan Lake Leabu) to
keep her mind off the codpiece. Lane even snagged a Pulitzer for her
story "Why the World Doesn't Need Superman." Ouch.

Arch nemesis Lex Luthor (a biting Kevin Spacey reteaming with his
"Usual Suspects" director) isn't bursting with fruit flavor to see
Superman back either. After spending years in prison thanks to the
superhero, Luthor is back with a vengeance. The bald villain, who has
conned his way into a fortune and an early jail sentence, is plotting
world domination, and, in doing so, discovers a way to permanently take
down Superman. Let's just say it involves crystals and Kryptonite.

The reason "Superman Returns" works so well is every reason why "X3"
didn't. The film doesn't rely solely on effects and gifted actors to
make with the dialogue they're given. It's not merely spectacle here,
there's amazing effects but also a story, and real characters with
strong back stories. Screenwriters Michael Dougherty and Dan Harris
provide weight to ensure the story is always fresh and engaging. The
fact the story holds up throughout the film's two-and-a-half-hour
length is a testament to them and Singer's direction. The near-perfect
casting also helps.

Relative unknown Routh makes a sparkling superhero. Like Reeve before
him, he is able to convey the superhero's heart and soul. We can tell
how torn he is being a stranger in a strange land. It's also evident
that his time away has truly given him a purpose. The actor also has a
good time portraying the baffling Kent.

While she looks a bit too young for the role, Bosworth delivers her
first fully realized performance as Lane. She's able to show how
conflicted her character is between the life she's made with Richard
and Jason and the super life she once had (and now, can still have).
Spacey starts out slow as Luthor, but gains momentum throughout the
film. He'll ham it up in one scene (thankfully not quite as Gene
Hackman did in the past), and be ruthless in the next. There's more to
the villain here than outrageous wigs and one-liners. Case in point:
watch him stab Superman with a piece of Kryptonite.

In other turns, Parker Posey sinks her teeth into Lex's sidekick Kitty.
Marsden and Langella also offer fine support. Along with "V for Vendetta," "Superman Returns" is among the year's best thus far. And, given the climate of today's world, the movie couldn't have come at a more opportune time. We need someone to trust, and someone to believe in. We need to know there's a cause that is worth fighting for. In the real world, we unfortunately don't get that.
On screen, however, we do and thank god for that.

Concert review: The Rakes - 7-05-06

The Rakes, Bowery Ballroom, 7-05-06
By Diana P. Olano

A sure thing. Consistent. Not changing. I guess these could be taken as
compliments... or as signs that you need to change things up a bit. In
the case of The Rakes performance at Bowery Ballroom on July 5,
they're a little of both. Their consistency isn't a horrible thing,
however, as a normal Rakes gig is nothing less than a dance party.
That's right. A friggin' dance party.

The London-based band opened with crowd favorite, "22 Grand Job". Lead
singer Alan Donohoe, who doesn't dance but seizures on stage, had the
kids pumping fists, dancing, and singing along from the get-go. Not a
complete shocker for the band, as New York has always been pretty
receptive towards them, but that is one constant that everyone is
happy to keep.

Donohoe, along with guitarist Matthew Swinnerton, bassist Jamie
Hornsmith, and drummer Lasse Petersen, matched in white shirts and
excitement. You could tell these guys were honestly loving what they
were doing - another great thing to see hasn't changed. Highlights of
the set included, "Work Work Work (Pub, Club, Sleep)", "Violent", and
set closer "Strasbourg", during which I felt the Bowery's floor shake.
With the disco ball lit up during a few songs, it felt like being a
club; a club that plays great music and with a crowd that doesn't care
how or how much you shimmy.

That all said, maybe something could be different? I'm not sure what,
though. It was my third time seeing them and although it was fantastic
(per usual), it felt like the same show. They don't have much material
to borrow from, what with only having one album under their belt. They
did play a few new tunes that sounded great, but... I don't know. I'm
not complaining. Not even close to it. Maybe they need to try a new
venue? No. Forget that suggestion. Different equals bigger and I don't
want that.

Nevermind. Change isn't for everyone. Just put on your dance shoes and
go see them. Now.

Archived theatre reviews by Gary Chattman

BARNUM at Westchester Broadway Theatre, 2006
By Gary Chattman

You can search the jungle
for TARZAN; you can try to find a good WEDDING SINGER, and you can have
a bloody good time as does LESTAT, but you won’t find a more
entertaining show on Broadway, than Barnum at the Westchester Broadway Theatre through July 8. Why travel into Manhattan to a show that took millions of dollars to produce to a show that the critics said was horrible‚Why travel
into Manhattan and pay $110 for an orchestra ticket; $50-per-dinner and
another fortune for gas and parking, when all you have to do is take a
short drive to Elmsford to see a fantastic, stylish musical?‚And
you get a fabulous dinner to boot!

Come Follow the Band to see a highly talented, high-rope walker, Robert
Preston-clone named Tony Lawson portray P.T. Barnum, inveterate showman
and purveyor of hokum, tell you that There Is A Sucker Born
Every Minute. You will also find Ann Van Cleave, as wife
Chairy Barnum, who plays a clever, song-full counterpoint to her
husband.‚You can also see the world’s oldest
woman ”Thank God I’m Old”Terri White (from the original Broadway cast) sing up a storm! Watch carefully, for the miming talents of Matt Baker are dazzling!‚
Courter Simmons plays Tom Thumb and he finds that “Bigger Isn’t Better!”Allison Spratt, as Swedish nightingale Jenny Lind (who has an affair
with the aforementioned P.T. Barnum) has a sweet voice, and the
ensemble led by Robert Hedglin-Taylor of the MoscowCircusSchool ,
makes this show a special treat.

The qualities of production at Westchester Broadway Theatre continue to dwarf current Broadway offerings.This three-ring circus blends the circus with
Broadway. he music by Cy Coleman and Michael Stewart are very melodic (how many tunes from current Broadway “hits” can you hum during intermission)‚And did I mention the food?

ALL SHOOK UP – Theater Review
By Gary David

Elvis lives!All Shook Up keeps the King’s spirit (and pelvis) alive. The new musical, which opened at the Palace Theatre on Broadway two weeks
ago, is a sparkplug in a rather dismal show season.

When Elvis visited a town, in those you knew that there would be a “whole lot of shakin’” goin on, as well as a lot of “cryin’” in the chapel. Elvis is back in town, but it’s the spirit of his music that lives, not the man!
The show brings us back to the time of 1955, in the Middle of a Square
State in the Middle of a Square Decade, where love has long
simmered beneath the surface.‚One day, a Roustabout named Chad (Cheyenne Jackson in a star-making performance) rolls into town, and these unrequited loves boil to the surface. His foil, the “grease-monkey” Natalie Haller,played by Jenn Gambatese who sings and acts with commanding spirit, and, who envies the freedom
of the road, and the freedom she finds while portraying a man (shades
of Twelfth Night of a man named Shakespeare).

Secondary leads, particularly Mark Price, as Dennis, who loves Natalie (but, of course, in musical comedy, she doesn’ t love him)and who steals every scene
he is in, and the vocal powerhouse Sharon Wilkins, who stops the show
whenever she belts a song, add to the verve and merriment of this show.

This comedy-of-errors (with a nod to Footloose and a wink to My Fair Lady) eventually makes loving couples out of sleepy people whose
love needs shaking up! Even veteran actor Jonathan Hadary (of Gypsy fame) finds love with the aforementioned Sharon Wilkins, as do the interracial couple of Nikki James and Curtis Holbrook. For 2005, love of any shade seems to be accepted, and we wink at what would be taboo in 1955.‚Eventually even the iron
maiden mayor, played by Alix Korey (with a knock-out voice to match)
ends up with true love!

Even a child of the past decade-or-two can identify with love that
needs music to become airborne.‚And though Elvis has left the building, his spirit and his music is on stage daily at the Palace!

A "Full" Plate at WBT
A review of the Westchester Broadway Theatre's performance of The Full Monty

By Gary Chattman, for thecheappop.com - Fall 2006

The Westchester Broadway Theatre, in Elmsford, NY, has existed since July 9, 1974. They have produced 148 productions in that time. It is the longest running, 52-week-a-year Equity theatre in the state. Professional Broadway Equity performers have starred this past year in such superlative shows as Gentlemen Prefer Blondes; Aida; Barnum, and The Hot Mikado.Now, with The Full Monty, they have even surpassed the Broadway production of same!

I could rave about the sets by Steven Loftus, and the costumes by Matthew Hemesath, or the Lighting Design by Andrew Gmoser, but I must single out Ken Lundie, famous for his 4-piano musical direction of Blondes for accolades. This genius returns to WBT as accompanist for a cast led by Peter James Zielinski, as Jerry Lukowski, and Tad Wilson, as Dave Bukatinsky.

Zielinski is the heart-and-soul of this production, portraying Jerry Lukowski, an out-of-work Buffalo steel worker, who is unable to find work. Jerry organizes a male stripper program to earn money(especially for child support of the son he dotes on). His overweight compatriot, Dave, is suckered into the scheme. In time, Jerry auditions others to join this women's night out.

Joel Briel, as Harold Nichols, the nasty cost-cutting boss who also lost his job, lies to his wife (who is used to the "finer" things) and comes aboard to choreograph the male striptease. Then add Nick Gaswirth, as Malcolm McGregor, who adds great poignancy to the part of a lost soul who first tries suicide and eventually finds true love through the male bonding. Horse is played by David A. White, who played the role on Broadway, and he adds humor and empathy to this excellent production.

Let's not forget the ladies! Patti Mariano (as accompanist Jeanette Burmeister) has a Broadway voice and talent, as does Laurie-Beth Mraz (Pam Lukowski) and the enthusiastic, bubbly Caroline B. Younger (Georgie Bukatinsky) and Dorina DiLullo (Estelle Genovese). You won't forget these ladies!

In short, go to see this production. By the way, the term "Full Monty" means complete male nudity at the end of the show. It explains why the character ladies help sell out this Buffalo performance- they want to see the "end" product. As do many in the audience. I won't spoil it for you, however. See it for the special cast members!
And while you are there, make reservations for the 2006-2007 season. See the Christmas Inn show, then Nunsensations, and so on. I dare you, Nederlander Organization, Shubert Organization, et.al.: Can you provide such professional, inexpensive, delightful shows on Broadway? Can you provide a delicious meal with that entertainment? The Full Monty runs through November 19, and December 28, 2006-January 20, 2007
At the Broadway Theater, New York

“Dear God, I am fourteen years old. I have always been a good girl. Maybe you can give me a sign letting me know what is happening to me.” Thus begins the 1982 Pulitzer-Prize-winning novel by Alice Walker, as does the award-winning movie directed by Steven Spielberg in 1985, and as does this musical version starring LaChanze.

The story of this child, Celie, begins as she is a “po chile” of 14 years old, who is pregnant with her second child. (The father of her child is her father). She is given as a wife to Mister, who abuses her, even as she raises his children. When he first sees her, he says, Boy, is she UGLY!” That sets the theme for her life, before her spiritual redemption. Through the course of her life’s journey, she loses her sister, Nettie, finds a friend, Sofia, befriends her husband’s mistress, Shug Avery, who is a star on the Jook Joint circuit. The “Mysterious Ways” of God and of love and of belief are mirrored in Celie’s odyssey, until she realizes “I’m Here.”

One might think that translating what is, in essence, a diary, into a Broadway musical might be a daunting task, but with the adapted book by Marsha Norman, the music and lyrics by Brenda Russell, Allee Willis and Stephen Bray, and the masterful direction of Gary Griffin (not to forget to mention the delightful and spirited choreography of Donald Byrd) this adaptation succeeds in moving its audience with a rousing, heartfelt, empathetic spirit.

One of the main reasons this show is such a rousing success is LaChanze, who, as Celie, is the center and focal point of “A Color Purple.” Ms. Rhonda LaChanze Sapp is a resident of Mount Vernon, married to Derek Fordjour, an Atlanta-based artist. She is the mother of two girls, and stepmom of a seven-year-old boy. Her first husband perished on 9/11. He was a bond trader at Cantor Fitzgerald. She wished to commission a painting two years later, in his honor, and her lawyer put her in touch with Derek Fordjour.
LaChanze is a dynamo of energy, with a dynamic voice and dramatic talent to match. Since the show must encompass years of Celie’s life in one theatrical experience of only a few hours, the actress portraying Celie must command the stage and gain our sympathy and empathy. LaChanze does. Did anyone say “Tony” in June?

One of the novel parts of this show is the “Greek chorus” of Kimberly Ann Harris, Virginia Ann Woodruff, and Maia Nkenge Wilson, who comment in song throughout this experience. Their voices are powerful and expressive.

The part of Sofia, who is Harpo’s wife (son of Mister), was played in the movie by Oprah Winfrey; here her shoes are ably filled by Felicia Fields, who has, in the past, played Effie White in “Dreamgirls”. Her voice is superb, her acting moving. Shug Avery, played by Elisabeth Withers-Mendes, stops the show with the song “Push Da Button”, and she does—she does. Kingsley Leggs as Mister, Brandon Victor Dixon, as Harpo, and Darlesia Clearcy, as Celie’s sister Nettie, all are to be commended.

The best summation for this musical can be summed up by the author of the book, Alice Walker, who said, “Love. That’s what this story is really about. You know how big love is? Love is big; love can hold anger, love can even hold hatred…it’s about what you’re trying to give. And often when you’re trying to give something, it has a lot of pain in it. But the pain too is part of the love.” Shug Avery, in the musical says, “I think it piss God off if anybody even walked passed the color purple in a field and not notice it. He’d say, ‘Look what I made for you!’” If we pass the show “The Color Purple” and not see it, God might also be pissed off. “The Color Purple” is a masterpiece!

Bertometer: Boratometer

We posted this before the movie was even made... High Five!!?

concert review: Audra McDonald

Last year's review ...

Audra McDonald, concert review
At the Performing Arts Center, Purchase College , May 21, 2006
By Gary Chattman

Croton resident Audra McDonald, a past three-time Tony Award winner (for Master Class, Ragtime and Carousel), brought a special concert Saturday night, May
21, 2005 , to the Performing Arts Center at Purchase College.‚The
packed audience was mesmerized by this unique singer/actress/raconteur.

The unique quality of this Self-descripted "white-gay-man-in-the-body-of-a-black-woman" is her bonding with her audience.‚In between sets of songs, she
shares anecdotes of her life, including her memory of her own childhood
as the only African-American child growing up in a white neighborhood. We also hear of Oprah's special conclave of Afro-American Icons, where she was mistaken as a tennis star!‚We hear of her experiences as a wife and mother of a four-year-old; indeed, her opening number about a bass player (like her husband)
titled “Lola” was written by a composer friend, and concludes
with the name of her daughter: Zoë!‚Her tribute to Judy Garland
("The Man Who Got Away") can be likened to her bonding with
the great singers of the past.

One could rant and rave about Ms. McDonald's many accolades, including winning her fourth Tony for 'Raisin in the Sun' in a non-singing part, or her
nomination for an Emmy, or for her various concert performances at
Zankel Hall of Carnegie Hall or at the Frederick P. Rose Hall at Lincoln
Center, of her being the guest soloist with the Philadelphia Orchestra,
or her three albums, but her greatest accolade comes from her singing.

For an hour-and-a-half she literally had her audience eating out of her hand with a varied concert, with arrangements of Ted Sperling, her Music
Director.‚She sang a lullaby to parents (!) and "I Won't Mind," an ode to a caretaker mother.‚She sang "I Wanna Get Married," as well as new songs by a work commissioned for her, "The Seven Deadly Sins," She saluted Broadway
"When Did I Fall in Love?") as well as works from new composers, such as Jason Robert Brown and John LaChiusa.


the wedding singer on broadway...

here's a review of The Wedding Singer from last spring...

Where's the party?
Not at Broadway's "Wedding Singer"

By Gary Chattman

"The Wedding Singer" was a big hit for Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore
in 1998. The 80s-themed comedy, which featured classic tunes like Billy
Idol's "White Wedding"and The Police's "Every Little Thing She Does is
Magic," succeeded on the two stars' chemistry, witty one-liners, and an
enjoyably lightweight story. Sadly, the Broadway incarnation, which
opened two weeks ago, fails to inspire anyone to "party like it's 1985."
Stephen Lynch, taking over the Sandler role, plays Robbie Hart, a
wedding singer who's left at the altar by fiance Linda (the
show-stopping Felicia Finley) and is befriended by Julia Sullivan
(Laura Benanti), a woman who longs for true love but settles for Wall
Street suit Glenn Guglia (Richard H. Blake). As the two become closer,
it becomes apparent they're destined for each other.
The reason the show doesn't work is because the two leads lack warmth
and the charisma of Sandler and Barrymore. While the duo have their
moments, other cast members fair better, notably Amy Spanger as Julia's
best friend Holly and Rita Gardner, a stand out as Rosie, Robbie's
And, while the show means well, it suffers from music ( by Matthew
Sklar and Chad Beguelin) that, sans one song "Come Out of the
Dumpster," lacks melody. The book, by Beguelin and Tim Herlihy, also
lacks the panache of the latter's film script. Another problem is they
overkill every '80s reference in the book. All-in-all, one comment from
a theatregoer in the lobby, after the show, sums up "The Wedding
Singer" on Broadway: "it's enjoyable, but the movie was better."


two cd reviews from last year...

here's two reviews from our archives

By Diana P. Olano
If you're a British band, you've already got it one up to your
competition because I pretty much live for music from across the pond.
If you sound like a British band, but technically aren't from the land
of fish and chips, that's okay. So long as you have those sweet, sweet
English influences, I'm good. New York based Jonny Lives! fit the
category with their debut "Get Steady". Their first LP not only
combines the sounds of Brit rock, pop and punk, but you can most
definitely feel and hear what they take from their home in Manhattan's
Lower Eastside.

Album opener "No Good" showcases that definite pop, Kinks-ish sound,
heavy on the drum beats and girl-torturing-boy lyrics - "Am I good by
myself?" asks lead singer Jonny Dubowsky. Guitar-driven "Diamonds and
Roses" and "B-Side" are a little more rough around the edges, but
still command that pop sensibility that a majority of songs on album
have. In other words, they're just damn catchy, whether they're more
rockin' or not. The debut's first single "Get Steady", which the band
have said is lyrically about the "mentality of people spilling out of
the bars...not knowing if they are going to meet the love of their
life, get into a fight" in the LES, is a definite stand out track. "I
don't need no cheap success" declares Jonny on the immensely enjoyable
track. They combine all influences on this one and it couldn't have
worked better.

With a debut like this, Jonny Lives! have the potential to blow away
everyone here and abroad. Like Jonny says: they're ready, they're



By Diana P. Olano

Borrowing from dance hall, reggae, and all island genres in between,
performer Elan makes an impressive debut with his album "Together as
One". Elan, a California native, whose vocals are very reminiscent to
that of reggae vocalist and legend Bob Marley, introduces himself with
an eclectic mix of tracks: from the soft and sweet guitar love song
"Together as One" to the modernly R&B influenced "Girl", that if given
the chance could become the next dance club hit, to "Allnighter", a
calypso track given a little pop flavor thanks to accompanying vocals
from Gwen Stefani. The standout track, however, wasn't the one that
got help from Mrs. No Doubt, but rather from Jamaican artist Tami
Chynn (who compliments Elan's vocals more than Stefani ever could) on
synth-heavy and sultry "Don't You Go".

The album, which is excutive produced by another part of the No Doubt
camp, Tony Kanal, showcases songs that deal with social and economic
injustices he witnessed firsthand ("We Won't Stand for This" and "I
Wanna Yell") while on tour with Bob Marley's band. (Might explain
Elan's vocals which seem to channel the reggae god.) It's not only
about wooing the ladies with Elan. It's this diversity in lyrics and
beats that make "Together as One" an album that anyone can enjoy and
one that only makes us wonder what else this up-in-comer has in store.


Bert. James Bert.

Odd Job used his hat as a weapon, but we'll always remember this Bond villain for that nicely kept mustache.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

The First Mustache

The CheapPop Historical Society (if there is such a thing) has established that one of the first ever mustaches belongs to Ambiorix from Belgium in the year 54 BC.