Tag Archives: Cameron Crowe

Madonna, still weird and wonderful at 57 years old. “Almost Famous” turns 15, and Cameron Crowe celebrates. And a man wakes up from an 11-year coma, stunned to find Federer still rules.

Madonna.Rebelheart

It was a typical weekday phone call from my wife, one we have 2-3 times a day.

Usually it’s “Did the boy nap well?” or “did you remember to pick up the dry cleaning?”
This was different.
“Wanna go see Madonna at Madison Square Garden?”
It took about four nanoseconds for me to respond “YES!” when she asked that last week, after her great boss said they had been invited by a law firm that represents my wife’s company.
No matter where or how you grew up in the 1980s, Madonna was impossible to avoid. I, of course, loved her: Her music, her fearlessness, her dancing, her total disregard for “rules” and authority, just her … Madonna-ness, if you will, had me entranced.
I lost the love for her a bit in the 1990s, like I’m sure a lot of us did, when she started acting like a total fool on TV (that Letterman appearance was atrocious), making terrible music, and we won’t even talk about her “acting” career, which was an affront to all thespians everywhere.

But you know what? She’s ended up having a lot longer career than any of us could have predicted in the 1980s. She moved to England, took up Pilates, and played a kick-ass set at the Super Bowl a few years ago.

So going to MSG last Wednesday night to see her, I’m not sure exactly what I was expecting.

The show was … weird. And great. Some dispatches from a unique couple of hours:

— Ms. Ciccone was in incredible shape for 57. Incredible shape for 27. She doesn’t dance nearly as fast or as intricately as she used to, but she can still move really well.

— Of course, I couldn’t help noticing that the dancers she was writhing around with on stage were young enough to be her kids. Or (gasp) grandkids. Yikes.

— Definitely the highest percentage of gay people at a concert I’ve ever been to. (As “Seinfeld” would say, not that there’s anything wrong with that.) And I say that having seen both Tori Amos and Indigo Girls.
Amy Schumer, the filthy but funny opening act, said something like “I’ve never been around so much dick that didn’t want me.”

–In case you were wondering, Madonna is still obsessed with sex; it seemed like all of the songs she played off her new album “Rebel Heart” were about sex, S&M, or some other kind of masochistic relationship. Again, she’s Madonna so there are no rules, but seeing a 57-year-old woman have simulated sex on stage is a little bit icky.

— I was wildly surprised to hear my favorite, mostly under-loved Madonna ’80s song performed: “Dress You Up.” We were dancing big-time to that one.

— Lastly, we’d heard that Madonna goes on stage absurdly late for concerts, so we were definitely worried we’d have to miss most of the show if she went on at 11 or something. But happily, she pranced on stage at 9:45 p.m.

Because Madonna, like her fans, can’t stay up as late as she used to.

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**Next up, as I’ve stated on here before, one of my all-time favorite movies is “Almost Famous,” Cameron Crowe’s pitch-perfect ode to early 1970s rock and roll.

The fabulous flick turned 15 this month, and Crowe released some great behind-the-scenes photos to celebrate the occasion.

The one above is great, but all of them are terrific. Check them out here, and below, because we all miss him so, all of the Philip Seymour Hoffman scenes from the movie. My favorite is the one starting at 7:05, when Lester Bangs counsels young William Miller about being uncool.

**Finally today, one last tennis story before I stop writing about my favorite sport for a while. This one is too good not to share.

In 2004, Seville, Spain native Jesus Aparicio was a huge tennis fan, specifically a huge fan of Roger Federer. The 18-year-old Aparicio just watched the Swiss star win three of the four Grand Slam tournaments that year, and was excited to see how much better Federer would get.

On Dec. 12, 2004, while celebrating his 18th birthday, Aparicio was in a serious car accident, and was in a coma for 11 years.

He awoke, miraculously, on Aug. 27, and as he regained the power of speech in coming weeks, he asked whatever happened to Federer.

When his family told Jesus that Federer was still a major force in tennis, ranked No. 2 in the world, he was stunned.

“I thought he had retired. When I knew that at 34 years old, he is still playing and is number two in the world, I thought they were kidding me. I could not believe it,” Aparicio said.

“When I heard that he reached 17 slam titles, I put my hands on my face.“I knew Federer was very good but I never thought he could win all he has won.”

Aparicio’s family is hoping to give him his dream of meeting Federer. Sounds like a fantastic Kickstarter or GoFundMe fundraiser to me. I’d kick in money for sure.

Amazing stuff.

My 10 favorite movies of all-time. And a way-cool helmet-cam look at hockey.

Field-of-Dreams-Terence-Terry-Mann-16

I’ve had two conversations with different people in the last week talking about our favorite movies of all time.

It’s a conversation I’ve had with a lot of people, actually, over the years, because just about everyone I’ve ever met can rattle off their top 3 or 4 movies off the top of their head (my wife is not one of those people; when we talked about movies in one of our first-ever conversations, she was pretty stumped when I asked her favorite. I only counted that against her a little bit).

So, because I’ve never done this before on the blog, and because I’m always looking to spark a little debate, here are my 10 favorite movies ever. Not saying these are the greatest ever, just the ones that mean the most to me.

Argue away…

1. Field of Dreams: It has occupied this list since the first time I saw it in about 1990 or so. Perfect combination of acting, writing, and a little bit of magic. I used to have the James Earl Jones speech at the end memorized and would recite it to my family on command. Seen this film probably 50 times, and love it each time even more.

2. The Princess Bride: To quote the great Joe Posnanski, “there are two kinds of people in the world: People who love this movie, and people who don’t have a heart.” Funniest movie I’ve ever seen, and eminently re-watchable.

3. Say Anything: The best of all the Cameron Crowe movies, which is saying something. Early John Cusack, a brilliant script, and it captures the late 1980s high school vibe better than anything else. Plus, the scene at the Gas ‘N’ Sip with Jeremy Piven (below) is classic.

4. Hoosiers: Best sports movie ever in my book. Love Gene Hackman in this, and the great visuals of Indiana basketball in the 1950s. I own a Jimmy Chitwood No. 15 jersey, that’s how much I love this movie.

5. Planes, Trains, and Automobiles: Wildly underrated flick; I’m amazed when I meet someone who hasn’t seen it. Steve Martin and John Candy, road-tripping from Chicago to New York. Too many funny scenes to recount, but “Those Aren’t Pillows?” is among the finest.

6. Goodfellas: I will, and have previously, argue with anyone who says “The Godfather” is better. The story of Henry Hill’s rise as a gangster is so damn good. De Niro and Pesci are great, the script is fantastic, and Marty Scorsese (especially in the famous kitchen of the Copa scene, above) directs beautifully.

7. When Harry Met Sally: Best romantic comedy ever; to call it a rom-com is almost an insult. Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan have perfect chemistry, Bruno Kirby and Carrie Fisher are great too (“you made a woman meow?”), and the late great Nora Ephron’s script is perfect.

8. Fargo: The Coen Brothers have made a lot of great films, but this is their masterpiece. William H. Macy, Steve Buscemi and the great Frances McDormand in a kidnapping tale gone way wrong. So dark, and so brilliant.

9. Almost Famous: Yes, I’ve got two Cameron Crowe movies in my Top 10. “Almost Famous” is just another perfect movie. Patrick Fugit in the role of his life, Kate Hudson never better, and Billy Crudup as the perfect “guitar player with mystique” in a 1970s rock band. So many amazing lines and scenes; my favorite is William dancing with Penny and saying “I’m about to boldly go where many men have gone before.”

Course, this scene’s not bad, either:

10. 12 Angry Men: Very close call here at No. 10; I easily could’ve gone with “Coming To America,” “Midnight Run,” or “American Beauty. ”

But the story of Juror No. 8 (Henry Fonda) convincing 11 other men of a young son’s innocence in the death of his father has stuck with me ever since I first saw it as a kid. Such spare, terrific acting, the whole movie takes place in one room, and it’s riveting as hell.

**Finally today, I always love videos that show us a different view of sports we’re all so familiar with.  So I thought this was really cool: A minor league hockey referee wore a GoPro helmet cam during a Dec. 20 game, along with his regular microphone, and the sights and sounds we get to hear are really great.

I especially love how harshly he talks to players who are trying to get an extra punch in after the whistle (around the 2:30 mark), and just how much stuff a ref has to deal with.

Really cool idea, and I hope it catches on in the NHL.

Social Security ignoring DOMA overturn, when it wants to. Coffee that can make you drunk. And an American “coaches” soccer in London

jerrymaguire

Apropos of nothing: I was writing this post while watching “Jerry Maguire” on TV Sunday night and it occurred to me that Cameron Crowe has made three masterpiece films in his career: “Say Anything,” “Almost Famous,” and the one with Rod Tidwell screaming “Show me the Money!” That’s a hell of a career right there, three masterpieces. Also I will never tire of the “Jerry Maguire” scene where Jerry starts singing “Free Fallin'” after keeping Cush. Love it. OK, on with the show…

I just think it’s great when certain parts of the federal government decide to ignore rulings and laws made by other parts of the federal government, don’t you?

As you probably know, the Supreme Court in May struck down the Defense of Marriage Act as unconstitutional and wrong, thereby allowing gay couples to gain benefits accorded to heterosexual couples.

However, check this out. According to this story, the Social Security Administration is limiting payment of claims for same-sex married couples currently to those couples who were married in a state the allows same-sex couples to marry and are “domiciled,” or live, in a state that recognizes same-sex couples’ marriages.

So basically, the rules that cover the ENTIRE U.S. only apply to you if you live in a state where gay marriage is legal, or if you were married in a state where gay marriage is legal.

The decision means claims from same-sex couples married where such couples can legally marry but who live in a state that does not recognize such marriages are having their applications put on hold for the time being.

Ridiculous. This ought to get more attention, and hopefully it will. Supreme Court decisions don’t apply only to certain states, last I heard.

**Next, this video has been around for a week or so but since it’s about soccer, I ignored it. However, enough people told me it was hilarious that I finally broke down and watched it.
And it’s fabulous. It’s an NBC promo for their new contract to air the English Premier League soccer matches, and they tapped Jason Sudeikis to do this sketch called “An American Coach in London.”

My favorite part: “How many countries does this country have?” “Four?”

**Finally today, for those coffee-holics among you, more reason to love the beverage that millions can’t live without. Apparently now researchers have found a way to turn used coffee grounds into an alcoholic beverage.

Check this story for details, but it all has to do with heating the coffee grounds in water, separating out the liquid, adding sugar, mixing in yeast cells, yada yada yada.

I think this is fabulous. Because nothing has ever gone wrong when a person is hopped up on caffeine and also drunk.

Cameron Crowe and Pearl Jam team up for an awesome movie. And Bills and Lions and Packers, oh my: another loony NFL day

Love Cameron Crowe movies. Just about all of ’em.
Really like Pearl Jam, though have never been a hard-core fan.
So I was reasonably certain that I was going to really like “Pearl Jam Twenty”, the new documentary Crowe made to commemorate 20 years of the band.
I saw the flick Friday night in New York City (its only playing in selected cities, but will be out on DVD soon and is airing on PBS stations on Oct. 21) and really, really came away impressed.
Crowe didn’t really come off as a “fan-boy” director making a movie about his heroes. I thought the interviews with Stone Gossard, Jeff Ament and of course Eddie Vedder were really interesting (who knew that the hit song “Daughter” was originally called “Brother?” That’s the kind of stuff you find out in this flick).

Vedder, in particular, seems like a fascinating guy. He seemed as a young man not to care about success, but then admitted how excited he was to finally meet Pete Townsend, an idol of his.
Crowe got some fantastic footage from the 20 years of the band’s history; two favorites of mine were the montage of clips of Vedder, repeatedly, leaping off 20-foot-high scaffolding into the crowd (it’s a miracle he didn’t kill himself), and the band backstage doing an impromptu version of The Who’s “Baba O’Riley.”
I came away from the movie truly impressed with the dedication and musical talent of Pearl Jam. Are they an iconic band of this generation? Absolutely.
If you get a chance to see the movie, I definitely recommend it. Especially for the Kurt Cobain interview outtakes, which I won’t spoil but were awesome.

Here’s the trailer for the movie; it ought to get you hooked…

**As always on autumn Mondays here at WWOS, I have some Jets thoughts and some NFL thoughts.
— The less said about my Gang Green’s sad performance at Oakland in a 34-24 loss, the better. The Jets’ defense was atrocious. I know Darren McFadden is good and everything, but the tackling from the Jets was terrible. The pass coverage was spotty, and once again there was no pass rush. Two out of three games this year, the defense has stunk. Color me officially worried.
— Offensively Mark Sanchez made his usual “one or two horrible throws a game”, but he wasn’t the problem Sunday. The O-line collapsed in the second half, and Antonio Cromartie, well, he couldn’t have possibly played worse. His fumble on the kickoff, after the Raiders scored to take a 24-17 lead, was an absolute crusher of a mistake. So glad Cro is getting $8 million a year.
My boys are 2-1, with road games at Baltimore and at New England the next 2 weeks. Two and three looks likely. Oy.

–I think I’m going to make Buffalo Bills games must-see TV. They played yet another thriller Sunday, beating the Pats (thank you, Buffalo, from all Jets fans) after rallying from 21-0 down. And their quarterback went to Harvard! Love this Bills team.
— And of course the Detroit Lions are 3-0 now, coming back from 20-0 down to beat the Vikings and their walking corpse of a quarterback, Donovan McNabb. All who had Detroit and Buffalo both 3-0 at this point, raise your hands. (Very nice column by the Wall Street Journal’s Jason Gay on Bills and Lions here)
— I ain’t seeing a Super Bowl hangover from the Packers. Damn they are good.
— Drew Brees is looking like the guy from two years ago. Which is scary for everyone else.
— Finally, got a give a shout-out to the Giants. Big-time win at Philly. Eli Manning is such a maddening player to watch; he can play terrible for months at a time, then play as well as he did Sunday.