Archive for December, 2011
This week’s holiday atmosphere includes Sirius/XM rebroadcasting classic Bing Crosby Christmas specials, with introductions by recently retired Regis Philbin. Listening to these radio shows is the closest one can easily get to opening a time capsule.
In the 1970s, a local AM radio station (WGST if I recall correctly) used to devote part of its evening programming to airing old radio shows–and I vaguely remember hearing Fred Allen periodically. I know the name.
But this week I was absolutely flummoxed to hear a 1954 Christmas special, where Crosby went on at length (I came in on the broadcast mid-show, this could have been an ad) at how great Fred Allen’s then new book, Treadmill to Oblivion, was. The book is out of print (you can see parts of it at Google Books), so unfortunately it’s not something you can pick up at the local bookstore. Allen, a popular radio show host, was clearly unhappy with the seeming demise of radio, thanks to television. Allen likely would have made his way in TV (much like his peer, Jack Benny, did)
In trying to research the book, I ran across a 1989 Garrison Keillor New York Times review of a then new Robert Talyor-penned biography of Allen. The last paragraph of the review touched upon the naming of Allen’s 1954 book and Allen’s impact on the larger landscape of comedy history.
“Treadmill to Oblivion is a pretty bleak title for a memoir by an old comic. Allen chose it over genial ones like ”Looking Back” or ”Microphones and Memories,” and meant what he said, and ”Fred Allen: His Life and Wit,” trying to rescue him from oblivion, only proves him right. Comedy is temporary art unless you’re Mark Twain. Thirty years after you knocked them dead, your best stuff is just damp hyphens, a wet glow on the plate.”
Article first published as Raja Fenske and Fernanda Romero on Pendejo on Technorati.
A couple of months back, I interviewed writer/director Jairaj Walia about Pendejo, his romantic comedy starring Danny Trejo, Raja Fenske and Fernanda Romero, while the film was in post-production. More recently, the Pendejo team granted Technorati the exclusive premiere of the film’s official trailer (featured above) along with brief interviews of Fenske and Romero. My thanks to Fenske and Romero for their time. Current plans are for Pendejo to be released in 2012.
Five Questions with Raja Fenske
Were you nervous the first day on the set, or are you too experienced to get nervous any longer?
Not so much nervous. More anxious and excited to take on the role and begin shooting. It was my first experience being the lead in a film and I loved the idea that I would be in a position to carry a film.
Here’s the thing that surprises me about Guy Clark’s song, Step Inside This House. Clark has never recorded it (as noted by Wikipedia). Here is the great Lyle Lovett performing it, at the White House for a songwriting/educational workshop for local kids, connected to the recent In Performance at The White House special.
Today the great AdHouse publisher, Chris Pitzer, observed the ninth year of being in business. Congrats to one of the good folks and I look forward to celebrating its 10th anniversary next year.
In observing the nine-year mark, Pitzer also noted it is the publisher’s “MOST productive year to date”.
This email interview with Afghan Women’s Writing Project (AWWP) founder, award-winning author Masha Hamilton, was set months ago, but I dropped the ball. In a sense, though, I am glad that this interview was delayed. This time of year, I like to think people are more charitable. So once you read about the AWWP, an organization devoted to giving Afghan women the ability to voice their opinions without the filter of male relatives or the media–and visited the AWWP website–I hope you consider donating to its cause. My thanks to Hamilton for her time and thoughts, as well as to AWWP’s Lynn Harris for helping to arrange this email interview.
Tim O’Shea: In a sense, do you think mentors benefit almost as much from the experience as the contributors?
Masha Hamilton: Absolutely. A bridge is being built between Afghan women and both mentors and readers abroad that I think is important to both sides. To read some of the mentors’ comments on our site, look here. Here is one quote from Stacy Parker Le Melle, but you can pick any one you’d like:
“Magical. How else to describe sitting at my computer in Harlem, USA, and connecting with young women in Afghanistan, women who want to better themselves as communicators so that they can be heard at home and all over the world? I cannot thank Masha Hamilton and her partners enough for creating this cyberspace classroom. At times, it feels like we’re meeting in our dreams.”
There’s two levels to my enjoyment of Turner Classic Movies (TCM) Remembers (acknowledging those who died) 2011: seeing some of my favorite actors/directors/screenwriters/what-have-you being remembered (I love that TCM picked a clip of Wenders’ Wings of Desire to honor Peter Falk, as well as The Princess Bride) and being introduced to great talents I had never known about it.
I respect the fact that TCM tries to update the clips for people who die late in the year, also. Thanks to Bill Brioux’s TV Feeds My Family for the tip.
This Archive of American TV interview (the full version can be found at the Archive’s website) was conducted in late 2007, about six months before his death. In this excerpt, Carlin does a hilarious imitation of Ed Sullivan around the 4 minute mark.
It’s bittersweet to hear him be critical of his Sullivan appearances, lamenting that he cannot watch them…but admitting he intended to watch them someday. I hope he got the chance. Or hopefully heaven has a great cable package.
The term comic genius is an understatement with this fellow. His influence on comedy can be felt everyday. Hell, his influence permeates throughout The Daily Show.