Saturday, May 16

The piano as status symbol

My grandmother still has a piano in the living room, but Franko moved his to the studio. It all means something, according to this LAT article.

Thursday, May 14

Penn and Teller to be judges on "Top Chef"

According to Penn's Twitter feed. It could quite possibly be the best "Top Chef" ever, if not one of greatest moments in TV history.

Tuesday, May 12

LISTS: Top 3 songs about child abuse

No one likes child abuse, including rock stars. Here are the top three songs about the topic, listed "countdown" style. Curiously, all three are sung by women.

3. "What's The Matter Here," 10,000 Maniacs. The leadoff track to "In My Tribe" finds Natalie Merchant in an uncharacteristically subtle mode. She tells the tale of abuse from the view of an observer who is apparently able to ask the titular question, yet unable to intervene. Hear it here. (Merchant solo version)

Key line:
"And instead of love and the feel of warmth, you've given him these cuts and sores that don't heal with time or age."

2. "Luka," Suzanne Vega. The biggest hit of Vega's erratic career, this song is also perhaps the most famous one about child abuse. It's also sung from the first-person perspective, making it all the more wrenching. Hear it here.

Key line: "They only hit until you cry, and after that, you don't ask why."

1. "Hell Is For Children," Pat Benatar. The tight-panted songstress stepped back from her oversexed image to take on a maternal role in this track. Some took the title literally, perceiving it as an ode to Satan. But a cursory reading of the lyrics shows that Benatar was hardly sending our little ones to eternal damnation. She cares — and the song rocks. Hear it here.

Key line: "It's all so confusing, this brutal abusing. They blacken your eyes and then apologize."

Sunday, May 10

Movie review: "Star Trek"

The reboot of "Star Trek" tries to blend the origins format of "Batman Begins" with an action-minded storyline that recalls "The Wrath of Khan." It largely succeeds.

Director J.J. Abrams has brought in part of his "Lost" team to resurrect the franchise, which was all but dead after too many TV spinoffs and humdrum movies. Abrams also enlists an array of no-name actors to play James T. Kirk, Mr. Spock and other beloved characters from the original TV series.

Most of these actors are ideal for their roles. Zachary Quinto as the conflicted Spock is especially well cast, as is the comely Zoe Saldana as Uhura. On the other hand, Karl Urban plays Dr. McCoy as a shrill caricature that would be more suitable for an "SNL" sketch.

The "Star Trek" story concerns a renegade Romulan named Nero who's driven by a need for vengeance. Unlike the villain in "Khan," Nero has it out for Spock, not Kirk. And if a few million people and entire planets die along the way, so it goes.

Nero's rampage is the catalyst through which the young Kirk and Spock convene on the USS Enterprise. Their respective back stories are compelling, so much so that the audience may find themselves wanting a bit more of how these people came to be who they are.

As he has with "Lost," Abrams plays with the boundaries of time itself in "Star Trek." This conceit allows Abrams and his team to rewrite the lore of the original series. The surprising results (a shipboard romance comes to mind) will irritate some fans. But this is exactly what "Star Trek" needs to do to matter again.

Yes, Abrams recognizes "Trek" history by including Leonard Nimoy, the original Spock, in a prominet role. Yet Nimoy remains the lone link between this film and the 1960s series and the movies it spawned. "Star Trek" is therefore a true reboot, and it will be interesting to see where Abrams take the series where no "Trek" has gone before.


UPDATE: Nimoy talks about the new movie and more in this interview.

Thursday, May 7

Charles Emerson Winchester is gay

David Ogden Stiers of TV's "M*A*S*H" comes out. We're happy for him, but we still want to know what he could have done to stop the preachiness of the last few seasons of the show.

Saturday, May 2

Someone controls electric guitar

Rare guitars are popping up for sale thanks to the recession.

Speaking of that stringed instrument, here are the lyrics to the wackiest song about guitars.