Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Five favorite expanded score albums or box sets of 2008

In this age of the cell phone, Metropolis no longer has phone booths that can double as changing rooms, so Superman is fucked.
5. Superman: The Music (Film Score Monthly)
This staggering eight-disc set compiles the scores from all four Christopher Reeve Superman movies and contains a beautifully designed mini-book filled with exhaustive liner notes. The expanded discs of the Ken Thorne scores from Supermans II and III were probably the main reason why Superman completists dove into savings that they otherwise reserve for their mortgage payments for their Luthor-owned condos in order to pay for this pricey set ($120!). I never liked Thorne's scores (the orchestra budget in II and III was clearly slashed, so Thorne's rearrangements of John Williams' music sounded tinny and undernourished). For me, the real previously unreleased gem of the set was the disc containing Ron Jones' energetic and underrated music from Ruby-Spears' decent '80s Superman animated series. Jones' Superman cues sound like the cues he later wrote for Star Trek: The Next Generation's "Best of Both Worlds" two-parter, which TNG showrunner Rick Berman reportedly disliked because he preferred the music on his show to sound boring.

Extraterrestrial ad agencies are so boring when it comes to ad design. They need someone like Salvatore from Mad Men to jazz up their shit.
4. They Live: 20th Anniversary Edition (AHI)
Obey. Consume. This expanded release of the bluesy score from John Carpenter's sharpest and cleverest post-Thing flick is your God.

This is black cowboy music right here, baby!
3. Blazing Saddles (La-La Land)
The only previous times any of the music from Blazing Saddles was made available were when Elektra/Asylum included three songs from Saddles on the 1978 High Anxiety soundtrack LP and when "I'm Tired" made its CD debut on Rhino's 1998 Warner Bros.: 75 Years of Film Music box set. The release of the cues from John Morris' short but fantastic score to the Mel Brooks classic--another one of my favorite movies--was long overdue. All the major cues are on there, including the Count Basie Orchestra's performance of "April in Paris," which is to black cowboy music what Jay-Z's "Roc Boys (and the Winner Is)..." is to black superhero music.

Shaft's Big Score car chase
2. Shaft Anthology: His Big Score and More! (Film Score Monthly)
FSM's Shaft set marked a couple of milestones: the first-ever release of the film versions of Isaac Hayes and J.J. Johnson's score cues from the first Shaft installment (the 1971 Enterprise/Stax soundtrack album was a re-recording) and the CD debut of Gordon Parks' Shaft's Big Score soundtrack. Though the release was actually sent to the pressing plant for manufacturing three weeks before Hayes' death, it ended up being the illest way to honor his memory.

Harley Quinn introduced millions of young Saturday morning viewers to the kid-friendly concept of Stockholm syndrome.
1. Batman: The Animated Series (La-La Land)
Unlike previous superhero cartoon shows, B:TAS didn't recycle the same four or five score cues or repurpose creaky old library music. Shirley Walker, one of the few female composers in the business, and her B:TAS team composed an original score for every episode. Their use of a full orchestra made other animated action shows look like that pathetic El Mariachi musician character who prefers a synthesizer over bandmates. Sadly, Walker didn't live to see the release of her lovingly crafted music from B:TAS (before her death in 2006, only her score from the Mask of the Phantasm spinoff movie was released). She would have been thrilled about La-La Land's two-disc set, which is dedicated to her and compiles scores from 10 B:TAS eps, including Harley Quinn's debut ep, "Joker's Favor" (pictured above). I've been a fan of B:TAS since its 1992 premiere, so I've waited 16 years for a release like this. I never said thank you, La-La Land. And then La-La Land will probably say the following in that Batrasp that sounds like a cross between a whitened-up Keak da Sneak and a Muppet: "And you'll never have to."

20 favorite TV moments of 2008

Happy New Year. These favorite moments of mine are all from scripted or non-reality TV. Screw reality TV.

(Warning: some spoilers ahead.)

20. Conan, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert try to kick each other's asses to the tune of "Brianstorm" by the Arctic Monkeys (Late Night with Conan O'Brien).

Clash of the titans
19. Barney, Ted and Lily rock "the Naked Man" (How I Met Your Mother).

18. Rob Riggle gives Code Pink enough rope to hang themselves (The Daily Show with Jon Stewart).

17. Walt blows up Tuco's office (Breaking Bad).

16. Brock battles a French assassin who's obsessed with Silver Age comic books (The Venture Bros.).

15. Michael goes undercover as a wimpy chemist (Burn Notice).

14. "She must prove she loves America, as opposed to Republicans, who everyone knows love America. They just hate half the people living in it" (The Daily Show).

13. The island is visited by the freighties, who include Daniel, a heroic science nerd, and Miles, a wiseass "ghostbuster" and the most interesting and least clichéd Asian American male character to hit network TV in years (Lost).

12. Patterson punches Encino Man (Generation Kill).

11. "Hey John, I got a question! You need a ride to the airport?" (Late Show with David Letterman).

10. Stephen tries--and fails--to hide actual tears during Barack Obama's historic victory (Indecision 2008: America's Choice).

9. Wendy emerges from the water in Ursula Andress' Dr. No bikini (The Middleman).

Natalie Morales' 10 seconds of bikini time were sexier than the moments when Halle Berry and Heather Graham made slow-motion entrances in the same kind of bikini in other movies. NM's unexpected appearance in a swimsuit like that on the ABC Family channel added to the hotness of the moment.
8. Don tells Peggy to get out of the hospital and move forward (Mad Men).

7. The survivors find Earth (Battlestar Galactica).

6. Katie Couric (Amy Poehler) interviews Sarah Palin (Tina Fey) (Saturday Night Live).



5. Jack crashes Liz's high school reunion (30 Rock).

4. Bubbles is finally invited to the dinner table (The Wire).

3. Vic confesses (The Shield).

2. Joe Biden (Jason Sudeikis) and Sarah Palin (Fey) go head to head (SNL).



1. Iceman's team sings "Teenage Dirtbag" (Generation Kill).

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Runners-up:
- The Bawlmer cops sing "The Body of an American" for the final time (The Wire).
- Desmond looks for his constant (Lost).
- "A guaranteed disaster. Like eating a burrito before sex" (30 Rock).
- Samantha Bee tries to get Republican delegates to say the word "choice" (The Daily Show).
- BET fires everyone who can read (The Boondocks).
- 6H turns into Amadeus (30 Rock).
- John Legend sings "The Girl Is Mine" with Stephen (The Colbert Report).
- Will Arnett does his last sex tape (Human Giant).
- Sayid sells his soul (Lost).
- Anna Paquin and Lizzy Caplan finally get naked (True Blood).

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Freddie Hubbard (1938-2008)

The first time I ever encountered 'Red Clay' was through a cover version by the Solsonics. Years later, I discovered the Freddie Hubbard original in my campus radio station library and dug that version even more.
The badass and slinky 12-minute jam "Red Clay" was the very first tune I played when I was a college radio DJ.

Undercover Black Man has posted some musical highlights from the veteran trumpeter's career.

AFOS: "Dance Into the Fire" playlist

Quantum of Solace opening title sequence by MK12 at www.mk12.com
1. John Barry & Orchestra, "James Bond Theme" (from Dr. No), The Best of Bond... James Bond, Capitol
2. John Barry, "Opening Titles," From Russia with Love, EMI
3. Shirley Bassey, "Main Title--Goldfinger," Goldfinger, EMI
4. Tom Jones, "Thunderball--Main Title," Thunderball, EMI/Capitol
5. Nancy Sinatra, "You Only Live Twice--Title Song," You Only Live Twice, EMI/Capitol
6. John Barry, "Main Theme--On Her Majesty's Secret Service," On Her Majesty's Secret Service, EMI/Capitol
7. Shirley Bassey, "Diamonds Are Forever (Main Title)," Diamonds Are Forever, EMI/Capitol
8. Paul McCartney & Wings, "Live and Let Die," The Best of Bond... James Bond, Capitol
9. Lulu, "Main Title--The Man with the Golden Gun," The Man with the Golden Gun, EMI/Capitol
10. Carly Simon, "Nobody Does It Better" (from The Spy Who Loved Me), The Best of James Bond 30th Anniversary Limited Edition, EMI
11. Shirley Bassey, "Moonraker," The Best of Bond... James Bond, Capitol
12. Sheena Easton, "For Your Eyes Only," The Best of James Bond 30th Anniversary Limited Edition, EMI
13. Rita Coolidge, "All Time High," Octopussy, Rykodisc
14. Duran Duran, "A View to a Kill," The Best of James Bond 30th Anniversary Limited Edition, EMI
15. a-ha, "The Living Daylights," The Living Daylights, Rykodisc
16. Gladys Knight, "Licence to Kill," Licence to Kill, MCA
17. Tina Turner, "GoldenEye," The Best of Bond... James Bond, Capitol
18. Sheryl Crow, "Tomorrow Never Dies," Tomorrow Never Dies: Music from the Motion Picture, A&M
19. Garbage, "The World Is Not Enough," The World Is Not Enough, Radioactive/MCA
20. Madonna, "Die Another Day," Die Another Day, Warner Bros.
21. Chris Cornell, "You Know My Name" (from Casino Royale), Carry On, Interscope
22. Jack White & Alicia Keys, "Another Way to Die," Quantum of Solace, J
23. k.d. lang, "Surrender," Tomorrow Never Dies: Music from the Motion Picture, A&M

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These bloggers have found the time to review each of the 22 official Bond opening title themes. They have way too much time on their hands:

Total Music Geek
Culture Kills
I Expect You to Die!

On a related note, here's one of my favorite '80s SNL sketches, a classic spoof starring Steve Martin as a cheapskate 007 (sorry, Canada and Europe).

Sunday, December 28, 2008

New AFOS episode: "Dance Into the Fire"

'But he thinks that the fight is worth it all/So he strikes like Thunderbaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaall!'
The 100th and final Fistful of Soundtracks episode in the current format is a d00Zy: all 22 official 007 opening title themes in chronological order, from the Dr. No instrumental theme to Quantum of Solace's "Another Way to Die."

Quick--what's the only 007 main title theme in which the singer almost fainted in the recording booth after hitting a high note at the end of the theme? The answer's in the photo.

"Dance Into the Fire"--a special extra-length episode--begins streaming late Monday night at midnight and repeats Tuesday and Thursday at 4am, 10am, 3pm, 7pm and 11pm, Wednesday at midnight, and Saturday and Sunday at 7am, 9am, 11am, 1pm, 3pm and 5pm.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Eartha Kitt (1927-2008): She was an awful good girl

Eartha Kitt (1927-2008)
Sheldon: That poster of Halle Berry is a little unnerving.

Howard: So don't look at it.

Sheldon: She's like my fourth favorite Catwoman.

Howard: No kidding.

Sheldon: Yeah, Julie Newmar, Michelle Pfeiffer, Eartha Kitt and then her.

Howard: What about Lee Meriwether?

Sheldon: Oh, I forgot about Lee Meriwether.

Howard: Well I'm glad that is settled.

Sheldon: That makes Halle Berry my fifth favorite Catwoman. It's Julie Newmar, Michelle Pfeiffer, Eartha Kitt, Lee Meriwether...

Howard: Please, I'm begging you. Go to sleep.

Sheldon: I'm trying. I'm counting Catwomen.

--The Big Bang Theory

Sheldon also forgot about Adrienne Barbeau (the voice of Catwoman on Batman: The Animated Series) and Gina Gershon (she assumed the role in 2004 on the imaginatively titled animated series The Batman). Sheldon's third favorite Catwoman, legendary "Santa Baby" singer Eartha Kitt, has died at 81 from colon cancer on the holiday that was the subject of her signature song.

Without Eartha Kitt, there'd be no Conan O'Brien.
Kitt was the purrrrrfect replacement for Julie Newmar when the statuesque dancer/actress was unable to continue playing Batman's most formidable female foe on the '60s series because she was busy filming MacKenna's Gold. No other Catwoman could purrrrr or grrrrrowl like Kitt did. How fitting that the role was assumed by someone named Kitt.

Who can forget when Kitt purred one of the greatest lines in an Eddie Murphy movie that weren't spoken by Murphy ("Marcus, darling... I don't have any panties on...")?

Kitt led an amazing life. She was a civil rights activist who was blacklisted for criticizing the Vietnam War and its negative effect on minorities and more recently, she expressed her joy over Senator Obama's rise as a presidential candidate ("It's one of the most wonderful things that can happen to this country") and supported her countless gay fans on the issue of same-sex marriage.
She goes on to say that the gay marriage issue is similar to what African-Americans experienced during the time of the Civil-Rights Movement. "We were not allowed to go through certain doors because of our race, our color," she says intensely. "It was so stupid that we were not able to sit at the counter of a restaurant because it was only for Anglo-Saxons. It's stupid when this country says it was born on "freedom for all," but it's "freedom for some"!
This Christmas is a bittersweet one due to the news of her passing on the day when she suggestively invited Kringle to "come and trim my Christmas tree." I usually get creeped out by songs that try to sex up Santa like he's the hero of a Judd Apatow movie, but Kitt's rendition of the frequently covered "Santa Baby" is awesome. Her version was the first version and it's still the sultriest.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

My three favorite holiday traditions return tonight

Screw the overrated It's a Wonderful Life. At least Letterman's Christmas show never gets old.
For me, Christmas ain't Christmas without three things: 1) Paul Shaffer doing his hysterical impression of Cher singing "O Holy Night," 2) Jay Thomas telling an anecdote about an encounter with Lone Ranger star Clayton Moore, followed by Thomas trying to knock a giant meatball off the top of a Christmas tree with a football, and 3) Darlene Love performing "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)."

One of the suckiest things about the writer's strike was that it led to Late Show with David Letterman not being able to do its annual Christmas edition last year. Tonight, Cher and her muff, Thomas and Love are back.

Monday, December 22, 2008

An Oakland Raider busts out the Carlton Dance

I'm not a fan of the Silver and Black, but the highlight of yesterday's Raiders/Texans game amused me: Raiders wide receiver Johnnie Lee Higgins* celebrated a touchdown by doing the illest shout-out to a sitcom I grew up watching. His choice for an end-zone dance was the hilarious Carlton Dance from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (photo by Brant Ward of the San Francisco Chronk).

Photo of Johnnie Lee Higgins channeling Carlton Banks, by Brant Ward / San Francisco Chronicle

Before he played Carlton, Alfonso Ribeiro was best known for his slick dance moves on Broadway and in commercials with Michael Jackson back when he was black, so it's funny that Ribeiro's most famous dance move today is a much less slick-looking move in which he had to pretend to be a less skilled dancer. The Carlton Dance is a parody of what has to be the whitest-looking dance ever. Every rhythmically challenged white person in the '80s did it, from Bruce Springsteen and Courteney Cox in the "Dancing in the Dark" video to the clubgoers at the Tech Noir in the original Terminator.

Carlton's now a game show host (Catch 21 on GSN).Whenever Ribeiro would bust out the Carlton Dance, everyone in the studio audience would lose their minds. Twelve years after the last time Carlton shook his ass back and forth to Tom Jones' "It's Not Unusual" on NBC, that dorky dance still makes crowds lose their minds, judging from yesterday's reactions from the Raider Nation, the TV sports reporters and the blogosphere.

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* When Higgins scored another TD, he bust out what SacBee blogger Jason Jones (not the soon-to-be-ex-Daily Show correspondent) called "one of Big Daddy Kane's patented dance moves." After the game, JLH identified this second dance as the "Hooka Hooka." He also did the Humpty Dance for a TV sports reporter in the locker room. The guy's got quite an arsenal of end-zone dances. A hater said on a message board that JLH's "idiotic dances need to be penalized." Looks like Reverend Shaw wants to expand his anti-dancing crusade from Bomont to the NFL.

Misidentified White Person of the Week

Wow, I didn't know Richard Mulligan, a.k.a. Burt Campbell from Soap, died twice.

From the News tab on Yahoo!'s front page tonight:

Mulligan stew
It's Robert Mulligan, not his brother Richard, Yahoochies.

Confused? You won't be, after this acoustic performance of the theme from Soap.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

AFOS: "Yule Log" playlist

Happy holidays.

This week, I'm streaming the 2005 Fistful of Soundtracks: The Series episode "Yule Log" (WEB71), which consists of music from holiday-related movies and Christmas TV specials.

This is a reedited version of "Yule Log." I removed from the episode a Crash score cue by Mark Isham and a Family Stone score cue by Michael Giacchino and replaced them with Shirley Walker's cues from Batman: The Animated Series' "Christmas with the Joker" episode. The "Christmas with the Joker" tracks are part of La-La Land Records' new two-CD B:TAS set, the perfect Christmas present for anyone who's a B:TAS fan.

Ep WEB71 airs Monday and Wednesday at midnight, Tuesday and Christmas Day Thursday at 4am, 10am, 3pm, 7pm and 11pm, and Saturday and Sunday at 7am, 9am, 11am, 1pm, 3pm and 5pm.

'It's my way or the highway, this Christmas at my bar/I'll have to smash your kneecaps if you bastards touch my car!'
1. Danny Elfman, "What's This?," The Nightmare Before Christmas, Walt Disney
2. Vince Guaraldi Trio, "Christmas Time Is Here (vocal)," A Charlie Brown Christmas, Fantasy
3. Cowboy Timmy, "Mr. Hankey the Christmas Poo," Mr. Hankey's Christmas Classics, American/Columbia
4. Joel, Crow and Tom Servo, "(Let's Have) A Patrick Swayze Christmas," Clowns In The Sky Vol. 1, Best Brains, Inc.
5. Paul Reubens, Catherine O'Hara and Danny Elfman, "Kidnap the Sandy Claws," The Nightmare Before Christmas, Walt Disney
6. Michael Cohen, "The Hebrew Hammer Theme" (from The Hebrew Hammer), thehebrewhammer.com
7. Danny Elfman, "Introduction (Titles)," Edward Scissorhands, MCA
8. Badly Drawn Boy, "I Love NYE," About a Boy, ARTISTdirect/Twisted Nerve/XL/BMG
9. John Ottman, "The Fair/Main Titles," Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, La-La Land
10. Michael Kamen, "Gruber's Arrival" (from Die Hard), Varèse Sarabande: A 25th Anniversary Celebration, Varèse Sarabande
11. Thurl Ravenscroft, "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" (from How the Grinch Stole Christmas), How the Grinch Stole Christmas & Horton Hears a Who!, Turner Classic Movies Music/Rhino Movie Music
12. Dick Shawn, "Snow Miser" (from The Year Without a Santa Claus), A Classic Cartoon Christmas, Too, Nick at Nite/Sony 550 Music/Sony Wonder
13. George S. Irving, "Heat Miser" (from The Year Without a Santa Claus), A Classic Cartoon Christmas, Too, Nick at Nite/Sony 550 Music/Sony Wonder
14. Shirley Walker/Lolita Ritmanis/Michael McCuistion, "Nutcracker Suite Medley" (from "Christmas with the Joker"), Batman: The Animated Series, La-La Land
15. Shirley Walker/Lolita Ritmanis/Michael McCuistion, "Pie in Batman's Face/Dangling Hostages Saved/Deck the Halls" (from "Christmas with the Joker"), Batman: The Animated Series, La-La Land
16. Badly Drawn Boy, "Donna and Blitzen," About a Boy, ARTISTdirect/Twisted Nerve/XL/BMG
17. Mick Jagger and Joss Stone, "Lonely Without You (This Christmas)," Alfie, Virgin
18. Leon Redbone & Zooey Deschanel, "Baby It's Cold Outside," Elf: Music from the Major Motion Picture, New Line

Now playing on the Fistful of Soundtracks channel:

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Batman: The Animated Series soundtrack: A Walker to remember

Batman fires his grappling hook and pisses off the Five-0 in the Batman: The Animated Series pilot episode 'On Leather Wings.'
As a fan of Batman: The Animated Series, I've waited 15 years for the score cues from the groundbreaking show to be released on an album. Now the wait is finally over, thanks to La-La Land Records' Batman: The Animated Series score compilation, which the label released as a limited edition two-CD set on Tuesday (a week after Warner Bros. Records double-dipped the Dark Knight soundtrack with additional score cues). I'll be adding some of the music from La-La Land's release to rotation on A Fistful of Soundtracks' "Assorted Fistful" block.

Modeled in tone after Tim Burton's somber-looking, dark-humored Batman films but much more faithful to the comics, Bruce Timm's B:TAS was the first American superhero cartoon show that felt cinematic. B:TAS writer/producer Paul Dini, who scripted the landmark, Emmy-winning Mr. Freeze revamp "Heart of Ice," says in the soundtrack liner notes that the show's crew constructed each episode like a mini-movie.

The B:TAS crew must have heard Peter Bogdanovich's anecdotes about how Samuel Fuller mentored him during the making of the low-budget 1968 thriller Targets ("Never think about limitations! Only think about what you want!") because like Fuller, they clearly didn't let a TV budget stop them from doing what they wanted. They brought a cinematic approach to everything, from the way they paced the dialogue--B:TAS' minimal and terse dialogue was different from other superhero cartoons, especially the '90s Marvel shows, like Saban's X-Men and Marvel Films Animation's Spider-Man, which had nonstop, hurriedly delivered, Speed Racer-ish dialogue--to the original score music. Unlike past superhero cartoons, B:TAS didn't recycle the same four or five score cues or repurpose creaky old library music. Shirley Walker and her team of B:TAS composers, which included Lolita Ritmanis and Michael McCuistion, composed an original score for every ep and used a full orchestra at a time when most other animated action shows relied on chintzy-sounding, cost-saving synthesizer music.

Danny Elfman's B:TAS main title theme, a reworking of his own brooding and dashing-sounding main theme from the Batman movies, set the tone for the show's "dark swashbuckler" sound. Walker, who conducted Elfman's 1989 Batman score and worked for him as an orchestrator, wrote a new eight-note theme for the Batman character that sounds equally thrilling and kickass. It eventually supplanted Elfman's theme in the opening titles when Warner Bros. Animation made B:TAS into a feature film (Batman: Mask of the Phantasm) and then brought the show back to the airwaves under a new title, The Adventures of Batman & Robin.

Walker and her composers crafted a different motif for each villain. Mr. Freeze was accompanied by a mournful waltz (which can be heard during the 14-minute "Gotham City Overture," track 1 on the first disc), Two-Face was represented by an eerie soprano recorder melody ("Harvey's Nightmare/Dent's Soap Box" and "Bruce Wayne's Nightmare/Two-Face Remembers"), and the Penguin received a lumbering brass theme to match his bluster ("Birds of a Feather").

The Joker is such a beloved adversary that Walker gave him not just one but two motifs, a carnival-style melody and a secondary "Fanfare for Rocky"-style crime spree theme that was used only during the "Last Laugh" ep. The liner notes refer to the Joker's "Last Laugh" crime spree theme as "a hip-hop jazz theme," but it doesn't really sound like hip-hop. It's a middle-aged white person's idea of what they think a hip-hop beat sounds like. As an FSM Board poster says, it's more rock/funk than hip-hop. Still, Walker's "Last Laugh" theme is a lot of fun, and like all the other cues, I'm jazzed to finally have it on disc.

La-La Land Records' Batman: The Animated Series soundtrack coverAfter a solid film and TV score career that saw her alternating between the Timmverse and James Wong/Glen Morgan productions (Space: Above and Beyond, Final Destination), Walker died in 2006 and didn't live to see her B:TAS material get the kind of release that La-La Land has devoted to it. Though this release is loaded with over two hours of music, it's missing Walker's memorable Catwoman theme from "The Cat and the Claw, Part I," the first B:TAS ep that ever aired, Carl Johnson's lively score from the excellent "Beware the Gray Ghost" ep with special guest voice Adam West, and McCuistion's Lawrence of Arabia-style epic score from the "Demon's Quest" two-parter, which gives me hope about a Volume 2 from La-La Land.

The final track on the La-La Land album is a fitting tribute to Walker, in which she gets to finally speak, via an archival recording of her explaining her eight-note Batman theme and playing it in different variations on the piano. The subtle differences between each variation--like when Walker alternates between a somberly played second half of the theme and a more uplifting second half--are incredible. They show how much care was put into the music and the show itself.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

AFOS: "Spirit of '99" playlist

'Look at those frail and fragile boys/It really gets me down/The world is such a rotten place/And city life's a complete disgrace/That's why I moved to this redneck meshugana quiet mountain tooooooooown.'
1. Stan Marsh, Kenny McCormick, Kyle Broflovski, Eric Cartman, Sharon Marsh and Sheila Broflovski, "Mountain Town," South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, Atlantic
2. Michael Kamen, "The Eye of the Storm," The Iron Giant, Varèse Sarabande
3. David Newman, "Prologue: Galaxy Quest Clip," Galaxy Quest, Super Tracks Music Group
4. Randy Newman, "Zurg's Planet," Toy Story 2, Walt Disney
5. Rolfe Kent, "Election," Election, Sire
6. Canibus with Biz Markie, "Shove This Jay-Oh-Bee," Office Space, Interscope
7. The Dust Brothers, "Stealing Fat," Fight Club, Restless
8. Thomas Newman, "Still Dead," American Beauty: Original Motion Picture Score, DreamWorks
9. Lisa Gerrard & Pieter Bourke, "Liquid Moon," The Insider, Columbia/Sony Music Soundtrax
10. Angelo Badalamenti, "Country Waltz," The Straight Story, Windham Hill
11. Carter Burwell, "Subcon Chase," Being John Malkovich, Astralwerks
12. Bill Conti, "Glider Pt. 1," The Thomas Crown Affair: Music from the MGM Motion Picture, Ark21/Pangaea
13. Danny Elfman, "End Credits," Sleepy Hollow, Hollywood
14. Don Davis, "Main Title/Trinity Infinity" (from The Matrix), Varèse Sarabande: A 25th Anniversary Celebration, Varèse Sarabande
15. James Newton Howard, "Malcolm Is Dead," The Sixth Sense, Varèse Sarabande
16. The People of South Park, "Mountain Town (Reprise)," South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, Atlantic

Monday, December 15, 2008

New AFOS episode: "Spirit of '99"

'Back up in yo' ass with the resurrection...'
Because this is episode WEB99, the show will consist of selections from scores to the most noteworthy and inventive films of the year 1999, including Office Space, Election, Fight Club and a film I like a little less than the other three but Laurence Fishburne was such a badass in it: The Matrix. John Frizzell's score for Office Space was never released, so Office Space will be represented here by Canibus and Biz Markie's closing credits shout-out to Johnny Paycheck, "Shove This Jay-Oh-Bee."

"Spirit of '99" begins streaming tonight at midnight and repeats tomorrow and Thursday at 4am, 10am, 3pm, 7pm and 11pm, Wednesday at midnight, and Saturday and Sunday at 7am, 9am, 11am, 1pm, 3pm and 5pm.

You've been living in a dream world, Neo-Con. Bush ducks shoes Matrix-style, by Christian Science Monitor illustrator Jake Turcotte.

WEB100 will be the last AFOS episode in the current format

The chairman of the bored.
I've decided to end A Fistful of Soundtracks: The Series after producing and hosting 100 episodes for the AFOS channel since January 2003.

Yep, I'm cancelling my own show rather than letting the bastards who run... Oh, wait a minute, I'm the bastard who runs the channel. All by myself. Never mind.

This doesn't mean I'm going away for good. It just means I'll no longer be doing shows under the AFOS: The Series title and format. My voice will still be heard on the channel and I'll continue to be "announcing song titles and making cracks, even if [it] is pre-recorded!," as one listener said to me about my voice in an e-mail a few years ago. (I'll still stream the earlier eps too. Ep WEB63, which is called "Feel the City Breakin'," is the earliest ep that doesn't make me cringe when I play it back.)

The time has come to switch to a new format for my on-air self, like the less constricting and more new releases-oriented "AFOS A-Go-Go" format I experimented with in September and November. I should have given the program a name change a long time ago. Having both the program and the channel share the same A Fistful of Soundtracks name confuses listeners who appear to be under the assumption that AFOS is a 24-hour program as opposed to a 24-hour channel. (I originally conceived AFOS as an audio archive of continuously looped episodes from my program's terrestrial radio years. But I found myself going in another direction, and that was to diversify the programming--without veering too far off from the channel's film/TV music format--and make AFOS sound more like an actual radio station, hence my interspersing of themed blocks like "The F Zone" and "Soda and Pie" with newly recorded eps of AFOS: The Series.)

In each AFOS ep, all the film or TV score tracks are connected by a certain theme, like most recently, Batman villains or monster movies. I've gotten tired of doing that one-theme-per-ep format. Writing the copy for each of these themed eps takes me forever to do. I often get hit with writer's block. Writing copy for a show in which the tracks don't have a unifying theme--like during "A-Go-Go"--is much easier for me.

Plus I'm not a creature of habit. I get bored with routine after awhile. I became bored with my last job after a couple of years (but I stayed with it for a few more years because the money was good). As for my job before that one, I got bored with it after about half a year (plus having to type your newspaper articles inside an office building that lacks air conditioning kind of puts a damper on your morale).

In the case of AFOS: The Series, which was a way for me to continue doing the same program I used to do on terrestrial radio in the late '90s and early '00s, you could tell when my interest in it started to taper off--when the program went from weekly to monthly to bimonthly to whenever-the-hell-I-feel-like-it-ly.

I've lately been listening to the kickass Scion Radio channels programmed by L.A.'s Root Down club and KCRW's Garth Trinidad. For his channel, GT records about two and a half hours of content and then has them looped over and over again for the entire month.

I'm thinking of switching to a format like the Root Down crew's or GT's, except instead of recording new segments once every month like they do, I'll do it probably every other week or whenever I can find time to get on the mic or whenever I have any space left on my hard drive. Morning Becomes Dyspeptic and the DJ-less "Assorted Fistful," "Soda and Pie," "Chai Noon" and "F Zone" blocks will remain on the AFOS schedule so that listeners won't have to hear so much of my annoying voice (listeners have told me they don't mind my voice, like the person in that aforementioned e-mail, who said, "I've *gasp* ventured into other soundtrack stations. They aren't as fun to listen to as Fistful though... There's something nice about having someone announcing song titles...").

Here's what coming up on AFOS: The Series: Ep WEB99 will flash back to the year 1999 and stream selections from scores to the most memorable films that were released during that standout year for cinema. And then like 100 Bullets, I'm ending it at 100. The final ep under the AFOS: The Series title and format will be a doozy: all 22 official Bond opening title themes in chronological order.

If you frequently listen to the channel, thanks for choosing AFOS.

Oh yeah, and change your links from jim.aquino.com to www.live365.com/stations/sookie_sook or afistfulofsoundtracks.blogspot.com. jim.aquino.com is as dead as Lindsay Lohan's movie career.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Movie soundtrack iPod shuffle meme

It's the original cover of the 'Crockett's Theme' single, pal!
I got a kick out of this meme in which I got to be the music supervisor for the movie about my own life ("If your life were a movie, what would the soundtrack be?").

1. Open your music library (iTunes, Winamp, Media Player, iPod, etc).
2. Put it on shuffle.
3. Press play.
4. For every question, type the song that's playing.
5. When you go to a new question, press the next button.
6. Don't lie and try to pretend you're cool.

Opening credits:
Jan Hammer, "Crockett's Theme" (from Miami Vice)

Waking up:
Devo, "Freedom of Choice"

Average day:
Los Amigos Invisibles, "Pipi"

First date:
The Clash, "Charlie Don't Surf"

Falling in love:
Herbie Hancock, "Bring Down the Birds" (from Blow-Up)*

* Deee-Lite sampled the bass line from this track in "Groove Is in the Heart."

Love scene:
The Reverend Horton Heat, "In Your Wildest Dreams"

Fight scene:
Blondie, "Heart of Glass"

Breaking up:
Living Colour, "Love Rears Its Ugly Head"

Getting back together:
The X-Ecutioners, "Play That Beat (Lo-Fidelity All-Stars Remix)"

Secret love:
Eminem feat. Jay-Z, "Renegade"

Life's okay:
Tangerine Dream, "Love on a Real Train (Risky Business)" (from Risky Business)

Mental breakdown:
Maxine Nightingale, "Right Back Where We Started From"

Learning a lesson:
Trick Daddy, "Let's Go"

Deep thought:
The Who, "Bargain"

Flashback:
Madvillain, "Figaro"

Partying:
Elvis Costello, "I Just Don't Know What to Do with Myself (live)"

Happy dance:
Magazine 60, "Don Quichotte"

Regretting:
Los Straitjackets, "Espionage"

Long night alone:
De La Soul, "Supa Emcees"

Death scene:
Portishead, "Glory Box"

Closing credits:
Sonny Rollins, "He's Younger Than You Are" (from Alfie)

---------------

Hear the Slap Shot theme "Right Back Where We Started From" and "Don Quichotte" (a memorable part of the Northern Exposure episode "Jules et Joel") during the "F Zone" block, which airs Mondays at 4am, 9am and 3pm, Wednesdays at noon and Fridays at 5am, 9am and 3pm on A Fistful of Soundtracks. "The F Zone" streams kickass existing songs that have been used in films and shows.

"Crockett's Theme" and "Love on a Real Train (Risky Business)" can be heard during both the "Assorted Fistful" block and the "Soda and Pie" '80s block, which airs Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at noon on AFOS.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Have you played The Venture Bros. today?

The Venture Bros. Season 3 and Wave Twisters DVD coversThe Venture Bros. Season 3 DVD and Blu-ray packaging's '80s Atari video game cartridge box-style design rocks. It reminds me of the Activision-style design for the 2002 DVD cover of DJ Qbert's Wave Twisters.

The box sets' street date is March 24. Why do I have to wait so damn long until I can finally delete last season's Venture Bros. episodes from my DVR?
Arriving at retail as a two-disc box set on both platforms for the suggested retail prices of $29.98 and $44.98, respectively, The Venture Bros. Season 3 features all 13 uncensored episodes from the show's highly popular third season and bonus material including deleted scenes and commentary. Additionally, the Blu-ray disc box set will be packaged with an exclusive CD which includes 20 tracks that comprise the full musical score from the television series' third season.
[Via TVShowsOnDVD.com]

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The five greatest fake names from TV

'This new generation with the names.'
These overly fake-sounding names for imaginary personas always end up being used either by bands (there's a British metal band that's actually called Cletus Van Damme) or message board posters (on the Film Score Monthly boards, I post under a fake name from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air). They're all easier to pronounce than Blagojevich, a name that must be giving late night talk show hosts anxiety attacks.

1. Fuzzy Dunlop
Herc's fake CI on The Wire. Sometimes The Wire is funnier than most sitcoms.

2. Shecky Shabazz
A stage name the Fresh Prince creates at the last minute for his wack stand-up act.

3. Rafael De La Ghetto
A legendary street poet made up by the Fresh Prince to impress the shawties, with some help from Geoffrey the butler: "Cannon to the right of them, cannon to the left of them, cannon in front of them, volley'd and thunder'd!"

4. Cletus Van Damme
One of The Shield's few running gags: an alias only Shane would come up with.

5. Santos L. Halper
The credit card account name Bart Simpson winds up with after he applies for a card as Santa's Little Helper.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The other Jimmy Aquino

Comic News Insider co-host Jimmy Aquino with recent CNI guest Kristin Chenoweth (R.I.P. Pushing Daisies and Olive's cleavage).
There are two Jimmy Aquinos on the blogosphere and on Web radio: me and Comic News Insider co-host Jimmy Aquino.

My hair is close-cropped. He has long hair. I live in California (and can't wait to leave it). He hails from New York. I host a film and TV score music show that attracts nobody. He hosts (with Joe Gonzalez) a comic book review podcast that attracts guests like Brian K. Vaughan, Greg Pak, Joss Whedon, Nathan Fillion, Patton Oswalt, Rosario Dawson and more recently, Kristin Chenoweth (see above). I'm studying to be a voiceover actor. He's acted on stage for several years. I'm a total recluse. He's not. Family members have called me either "Jim," which I went by when I started out writing for newspapers, or "J.J." because my middle initial is J. His middle initial is P. Despite all those differences, it's easy to mistake him for me or vice versa because we share the same first and last names, we're both Pinoy and we dig the same geekish stuff.

We've known of each other and we might have walked past each other a few times during my first and so far only visit to the San Diego Comic-Con in 2007, but we've never met face-to-face.

That's going to change soon. We will finally meet face-to-face in the studio, on a date yet to be determined.

Mark your calendars and start coming up with some sort of elaborate escape plan because the day of my guest appearance on CNI is the day when the world will end. You see, the East Coast Jimmy is really my future self--sometime in the future, I will get sick of my middle name and change it and grow my hair out--and if the two Jimmy Aquinos meet, it will create a paradox that will tear apart the space-time continuum and destroy the universe. In other words, a shitstorm that's worse than all two seasons of A Shot of Love with Tila Tequila.

Jimmy invited me to be a guest on his fun podcast after I confirmed that in April, my first piece of comic book writing, "Sampler," will appear in Secret Identities: The Asian American Superhero Anthology, a graphic novel that he blogged about back when its editors were seeking story ideas. He saw his friend Heidi MacDonald's recent BEAT post--in which she linked to my blog and said she's amazed to learn that there are now two Jimmy Aquinos in the comics world--and then contacted me earlier this week about going on CNI to discuss "Sampler," Secret Identities, A Fistful of Soundtracks, our favorite comics and which network TV execs we want to put contract hits out on.

(On the latest episode of CNI, which is available here, Jimmy gives me and AFOS a nice shout-out. Joe jokes that I'm CNI Jimmy's future self, which is made funnier by the fact that I'm actually younger than Jimmy, who's celebrating his birthday during this ep. I don't know Jimmy's age, but I'm pretty sure I'm younger than him.)

My visit to CNI will be my first-ever guest appearance on a podcast or talk show (outside of a couple of occasions when I dropped by KSJS-FM's Celluloid Dreams back in my newspaper days). It will also be the first in a special series of shows in which the CNI hosts will mess with listeners' minds. The following week, Jimmy, Joe and Blair Butler will welcome to the studio both Vanessa Williams from Ugly Betty and Vanessa Williams from the Soul Food TV series and grill them about who should be Bruce Wayne's successor as Batman.

Friday, December 5, 2008

De La Hoya/Pacquiao 24/7: "Filipinos, they're a very clingy people"

'Manny Pacquiao, you just knocked out Erik Morales. What are you going to do next?' 'I'm going to Jollibee, beaches!'
Well, my mom and some of my relatives are clingy. Not me. I'm a Pinoy who craves his me time. So I guess that makes me more like Manny Pacquiao's trainer, Freddie Roach, who said the above funny quote about Pac-Man's huge entourage in De La Hoya/Pacquiao 24/7.

The four-episode HBO series about the advent of De La Hoya/Pacquiao Fight Night is my current favorite docu-show. Maybe it's because I'm Filipino, but seeing Filipinos get this much non-Basco brother airtime on American TV is awesome, despite the overabundance of footage of the poorest Filipino areas, as the PinoyLife blog has noted with snarkiness ("Please... film some Pinoys in Manila that are near some offices, universities, and malls"). (During the weight challenge sequence with Pacquiao's entourage, I loved how I could overhear an entourage member saying, "Excited ko!" That's a line I don't hear everyday on HBO. The only Tagalog that's uttered on HBO is during Return of the Jedi, for Christ's sake.)

There's some terrific documentary filmmaking on display in De La Hoya/Pacquiao 24/7 too. The sequence about Pacquiao's Catholic upbringing and his charity work was masterfully shot and edited. The cutaway from Pacquiao's mother to the People's Champ finishing his prayer in the gym was beautifully done. I haven't enjoyed a boxing doc this much since When We Were Kings.

A Slate.com reviewer wrote that De La Hoya/Mayweather 24/7 lacked "what When We Were Kings had in spades: historical importance to match the spectacle... the stakes of the fight are much lower than the promotional bluster would lead you to believe."

But the stakes are incredibly high with this fight, for both the 35-year-old, over-the-hill De La Hoya and his younger, shorter and faster opponent, whom I'm rooting for and whose triumphs in the ring have uplifted "an entire anguished nation," to borrow Geologic's words from his review of the docu-show. If Pac-Man wins this fight, it will uplift us even more. Filipinos everywhere will not show up for work on Monday. If you run a hospital, you can forget about those bedpans being emptied on Monday because your nurses will be out celebrating.

"Farmer Johneric breaks down Pacquiao vs. De La Hoya" [PinoyLife]
"Thoughts on HBO's 24/7 De La Hoya – Pacquiao | Episode 1"* [PinoyLife]
"Filipino Masculinity & Infidelity Through Manny" [FOBBDeep]

* Funniest line from the PinoyLife recap: "Buboy, Buboy, Buboy. You have the wackest name in the history of Filipino athletics. I'm sure that Manny appreciates all you do being his confidant, his friend, and cornerman. To most of the Filipino Americans reading this site, you're kinda like Too Big MC with Manny being MC Hammer."

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Minority Militant header sketches

Below are my sketches for a header I designed for the Minority Militant, a Laotian American blogger and activist from Chi-Town whose posts I've enjoyed reading. He riffs on Asian American-related topics ranging from the ugly racism that's often on display on reality TV to President-Elect Obama's Asian staffers.

Props to TMM for giving me my first job--even though it was a small one--after I lost my regular job earlier this year. TMM has been digging my black-and-white webcomic, The Palace, which I created to keep myself busy (I've been posting the comic here on A Fistful of Soundtracks: The Blog), so he asked me to draw a new header for his blog.

The sketch of the Asian brother in the hoodie emblazoned with "TMM" is the final version of the image on the header, which can be seen on TMM's blog in all its fully inked, cleaned-up and Paint Shop Pro-and-Photoshop-enhanced glory.

Minority Militant header sketches by Jimmy Aquino