Category Archives: high school musical

Michael Jackson’s This Is It

Michael Jackson’s This Is It ~ Compiled by High School Musical wizard Kenny Ortega, these are the dress rehearsals for the concert tour that would have been had Michael Jackson not died. All told, other than some amazing dancing, music and showmanship – it’s a glimpse inside the mind of a genius at work.

I’m not going to give the man sainthood like some folks have since his death, or dismiss any of the evil he may or may not have perpetrated on children and the media, but there’s no denying the talent of Michael Jackson.

There are some very electrifying sequences in this disjointed film/documentary that must be seen to be believed, as well as intriguing background footage. It shows that there was indeed more to the man’s soft-spoken media persona than we saw, or were allowed to see for all those years. Worth seeing.

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The Boys Are Back

The Boys are back. I’m not talking Backstreet, Beach or even High School Musical, I’m talking ‘bout Oak Ridge, baby.

The Oak Ridge Boys are back with their old line-up and a fairly recent (May) album. The title track, “The Boys Are Back,” is a gospel-tinged almost slow-motion rap written by country rebel Shooter Jennings. It’s a mission statement, catchy and repetitive that even digs up a Fleetwood Mac “Tusk” vibe toward the end.

Much of the album is composed of covers, and this isn’t the first time the Boys have ventured there. One of my favorites from 2002’s compilation When Pigs Fly: Songs You Never Thought You’d Hear is their “Carry On Wayward Son.” Here the Boys shine on stuff as arcane as John Hooker’s “Boom Boom” and Neil Young’s “Beautiful Bluebird.”

The true gem on The Boys Are Back is both surprising and surprisingly good – the Oak Ridge Boys take on “Seven Nation Army” by the White Stripes. The Oaks use their versatile voices to replicate the bass and percussion that make the song so hot in any version. Amazing.


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Best of 2008: Everything Else


In my opinion, the best movies of 2008:

High School Musical 3, Mamma Mia!, Iron Man, Wall-E, Speed Racer, 21, Hancock, Hellboy II: The Golden Army, Premonition and Justice League: The New Frontier.

Movies not from 2008, but I saw for the first time this year and loved: Déjà Vu, Last Holiday, Man of the Century, Girl 27, Crash (2004), Shoot ‘Em Up, and the absolutely brilliant The Man from Earth.

The best things from the internet in 2008:

Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, Stephen King’s “N,” Watchmen Motion Comics, BloodRayne A Fan Film, Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips podcast, Derrick Ferguson and Thomas Deja’s Better in the Dark podcast and The Writing Show podcast.

The best comic books of 2008:

Jonah Hex, Trinity by Kurt Busiek and Mark Bagley, Geoff Johns’ Action Comics, Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch’s Fantastic Four, Gail Simone’s Wonder Woman, Lone Ranger, Countdown to Mystery, Brave and the Bold, Joe Casey’s Godland, and Garth Ennis’ brilliant revival of British space hero Dan Dare.

The best music videos of 2008 in my opinion:

“4 Minutes” by Madonna and Justin Timbalake w/Timbaland, “Rockstar” by Nickleback, “Dream On” and “Konichiwa Bitches” by Robyn and Pink’s “So What.”

High School Musical 3

Quickies 8-9-2008

Picture This! ~ An Ashley Tisdale vehicle to whet the kids’ appetites for the High School Musical sequel hitting theatres in October, this really isn’t as bad as it could have been. As a matter of fact, it’s quite a lot of fun. Clever cellphone hijinks abound in this Disney family flick as well as a musical number or two. And Ashley is much more grounded and likable here than in the HSMs. Recommended.

Quickies 7-12-2008

The Ruins ~ Adapted by Scott B. Smith from his own novel, for a change, at this is supposedly a horror flick that might have some of the same bite as its book. The previews for The Ruins gave me the willies just seeing less than a minute of it, and as I watched the DVD I hoped I hadn’t seen it all. Well, I hadn’t seen it all, but I did guess most of it. And my original thoughts on the writing proved wrong as for whatever reason the author chose to change around a few characters and their names and fates. It has a few good scares, not counting Shawn Ashmore with a perm, and is quite graphic and gory, genuinely hard to watch in a few places – but just an average horror outing, nothing special.

Camp Rock ~ I have nothing against Disney trying to bottle lightning again in the High School Musical vein, except when it seems packaged and formulaic. Other than being an average Disney Channel movie, and an obvious vehicle for the Jonas Brothers, the biggest sin of this flick is its painful similarity to HSM in plot, characters and tone. Sometimes lightning just doesn’t strike twice. Harmless and entertaining, but it’s no High School Musical. Nice to see Julie Brown again though.

Don’t Worry We’ll Think of a Title ~ Written and produced by Morey Amsterdam and starring the lesser half of the old “Dick Van Dyke Show” suffers from a feeling that it would have been a bad 1940s soundstage comedy when in reality it was made in 1966. An early scene features Moe Howard staring January Jones right in the breasts. That’s about as funny as it gets, and that wasn’t in the script. I think, if I had been fourteen when I first saw this, I would have been in stitches. A case of mistaken identity, lots of classic cameos and one liner set-up after one liner set-up make this mediocre flick sometimes painful to watch. It would have been a great sketch but not a whole movie.


The Devil’s Rain ~ If you’re not a horror fan, most folks when they think of this flick will remember it’s John Travolta’s first film, but then gain, it’s nothing to get excited about because he’s barely in it. As far as acting goes, this is a great flick for seeing William Shatner and Ernest Borgnine overact, and to see some of Keenan Wynn and Tom Skerritt’s more embarrassing performances. Also look for Ida Lupino in one of her last roles. Eddie Albert is there, as is real father of the Church of Satan, Anton LaVey. Other than the above The Devil’s Rain is actually an above average devil worship B-movie for the time. Sone of the things that kick it up a level are things like the credit sequence featuring art by Hieronymus Bosch and the aforementioned LaVey as a ‘technical advisor.’ Good and scary popcorn movie for a Friday night with the lights out.

New Old New Romantic


Some folks might say that Duran Duran has used up their share of comebacks. Every time the powers that be might think that they’re has-beens or far too old to be in the business, they pop back up. They’ve done it with previous releases like “Notorious,” “Big Thing” the so-called ‘Wedding Album,’ and “Thank You.”

And here they are again. The new album, Red Carpet Massacre, was released earlier this month, and again represents a change in sound while still retaining that trademark vintage DD vibe. This time the Pretty Boy Five, sans Andy Taylor, recruited new blood like Justin Timberlake and Timbaland to write and produce.

There was to be a new album called “Reportage,” fifteen tracks worth say the rumors, but when Andy Taylor parted ways with the boys, for what has been termed ‘irreconcilable differences,’ they set aside the material he was part of and continued on with Timberlake and Timbaland. DD continue with Dominic Brown on guitar.

Now while I can’t say I’m all that impressed with the single, “Falling Down,” which almost recalls an electronic ghost of “Ordinary World,” the rest of the album is superb. “She’s Too Much” which is to “Come Undone” what the above song tries to do, but it succeeds on its own, the echo only accentuating the sound. Similarly, “Box Full o’ Honey” wants to be “Save a Prayer” but remains original as well.

The funk comes out to play with the best tracks on the disc, “Nite Runner”, “Skin Divers” and the title tune. These are the most Timb-affected songs on the album and come off quite well. “Skin Divers” has all the magic realism lyrics of the original Duran Duran days and “Nite Runner” is my favorite by far.

I think “Red Carpet Massacre” is a critical triumph even if it doesn’t make its way to the top of the charts. Don’t call it a comeback, it’s just Duran Duran holding on to their new romantic roots, while continuing to evolve. Great stuff!

"High School Musical" on Stage

I saw the stage version of High School Musical tonight at the Academy of Music. Big hugs and special thanks to Crystal for getting these tickets for The Bride and I.

And I think it’s rather ironic that I saw this the night after seeing the latest Harry Potter flick, as they both have something in common. Both events don’t really play well all that much on their own, but need a primer – the original source material – to be complete.

High School Musical was the ridiculously popular and scary surprise hit TV movie the Disney Channel aired a couple years ago. Three sequels in the works, a cast that have become pseudo-stars, a hit soundtrack and now a stage show, it’s more phenomenon than anything else. The flick is about high school cliques, being yourself and of course lotsa singing and dancing.

The reason I bring the movie up is because if you haven’t seen the movie, this stage production comes up somewhat lacking, much the way the Potter film would without the benefit of having read the book. Without knowledge of the HSM movie, the play looks a lot like a bad rip-off of Grease set today… or worse, a bad rip-off of Grease 2.

All in all though, it was a great production and has all the personality and tunes of the film, just without the cast. I enjoyed myself for the whole show. A great night out.