Archive | February, 2008

The Daily Loper – February 29, 2008

Leap Day Edition

Todays links of interest:

Jonathan Richman and a Janitor Walk Into a Bar…

Jonathan Richman and Big Jim the JanitorThis special Leap Day podcast features another vintage interview from the Medialoper vaults. Recorded in 1987, this is one of the more unusual Jonathan Richman interviews you will ever hear.

How unusal? Well, I think it’s safe to say that this is probably the first and only time that Jonathan Richman was ever interviewed by a janitor. Of course, these days we call them maintenance engineers, but back in the Reagan era things weren’t quite so politically correct.

The janitor in question is one Big Jim Hunsicker. Big Jim was head custodian in the Speech Arts building at CSU Fresno — home of KFSR FM.

Back in the early 80’s the college radio revolution was just taking off, and running a station that played only your favorite bands was every music geek’s dream come true.

There was just one problem. While we were happy to have complete control over our little slice of the airwaves, we couldn’t always be relied on to wake up at 6 am to turn the transmitter on. Fortunately, Big Jim was watching over us. Whenever the morning DJ would oversleep (which happened A LOT), Big Jim would put down his broom, turn on the transmitter, read the official station sign-on, and cue up Herbie Hancock’s Watermelon Man (that was the official Big Jim theme song).


Movies with Movement is What I Like

Make that love.

We had some friends over for dinner recently and the discussion, as is common, turned to movies. Everyone’s opinion on what makes a good movie may differ, but there is one fundamental thing a movie needs: movement. For example, my friend Dave said that while he likedCloverfield,” he had a problem with the monster itself. It didn’t seem to have a purpose and its movements were random. Now Godzilla, on the other hand, was always on the go. He moved and did it with purpose. He was on his way somewhere. I had to agree. I too liked “Cloverfield,” but the monster’s intent was like its shape, amorphous and random. So what could have been a new, genre-defining monster movie was merely an engaging and likable affair that featured a bit of credibility stretching by using a hand-held camera POV for its duration. There is a world of difference between “like” and “love.”

This year, two movies in particular were competing for Best Picture at the Oscars. One was Paul Thomas Anderson’sThere Will Be Blood,” loosely based on “Oil!” by Upton Sinclair, and the other was (eventual winner) Joel and Ethan Coen’s “No Country for Old Men,” based on the Cormac McCarthy novel of the same name. Both movies feature sadistic central characters and have a theme of “the times they are a changin'”; the first due to unabated oil development around the turn of the last century and the other to a rising tide of drug running and criminality along the Texas border in 1980. But there’s a key difference to what separates the first movie from merely being an attractive, if long-winded exercise in greed and megalomania, to a thought provoking, riveting, and accomplished feat of storytelling in the latter: movement.

The Daily Loper – February 28, 2008

Omar! Omar’s Coming! Edition

Todays links of interest:

Why quarterlife was Such a Bomb

quarterlife, the much-hyped new series from the creators of such shows as thirtysomething, Once and Again and the eternal My So-Called Life, debuted a couple of nights ago to what some are calling “the worst ratings in 20 years.”

I don’t think that this was what NBC had in mind when they announced that they had picked it up from, er, MySpace amidst a busload of hype. Given the fact that it had a pretty high profile and was debuted during a time where there is very little serious drama being broadcast, their expectations must have been that it would at least hold its own.

And yet it failed, miserably. Why? The flip answer is that it sucked, but that’s only part of it. The full answer is a bit more complicated.