One Voice

… because one voice, armed with the truth, can help begin to heal the world.

It looks like Woody still knows what he’s doing

There is one thing that really fascinates me about the passing years.

It’s that some things that mattered deeply to us when we were young continue to matter, others don’t and still others sort of slip away without even a thought.

When I was in my early twenties, there were few movies I anticipated as eagerly as the ones made by Woody Allen. I thought “Bananas” was one of the funniest films I had ever seen, and when “Sleeper” came out in limited release in December 1973 I remember driving up Connecticut Avenue in Washington, D.C., almost to the Maryland line for a midnight showing at the one theater in the area where it was playing.

Woody in "Sleeper"

I’m not sure there was ever a movie that made me laugh more. It wasn’t the first time Woody and Diane Keaton appeared together, but it was the first time she was in a film he directed, and she showed a surprising talent for physical comedy.

By then I was hooked. I saw every film he made through “Radio Days” — still one of my favorites — in 1987, including a fairly amazing occurrence in January 1984 when I was living in Anderson, S.C. We had only one movie theater in town — actually two screens — so what came to Anderson was fairly limited. I remember on a Monday night off, I went to the last showing (9:30 or so). The two movies playing were Allen’s “Broadway Danny Rose” and a slob comedy about skiing called “Hot Dog: The Movie.”

There were a pretty good number of people in line for tickets and refreshments, but surprise of surprises, every one of them except me went for David Naughton and Shannon Tweed. I watched “Broadway Danny Rose” without one other person in the theater.

Somewhere, thought, he lost me. In the ’90s, I only saw two of Allen’s films — “Manhattan Murder Mystery” and “Mighty Aphrodite,” the second on DVD. And in the next decade, I only saw “Scoop” — again on DVD — and that was actually more because of Scarlett Johansson than Woody. I have the DVD for “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” but have yet to watch it.

But last night I put Woody’s most recent film into my Blu-Ray player, “Midnight in Paris” with Owen Wilson in the Woody Allen role, and I loved it from beginning to end. I don’t know how critics rate this movie compared to other recent films of his, but I enjoyed it more than anything I had seen since “Radio Days.”

I don’t think this is going to send me off on a buying spree of his recent work, but I guess I’ll at least watch “Vicky” and then maybe I’ll drag out some of the old ones again.

I’m pretty sure no one is making comedies any better than that.

The only thing that’s a shame about it is that comedy is such a communal experience. When I watch a good comedy in a crowded theater, I laugh out loud from beginning to end.

Here at home, I just smile.

It’s OK. Smiling is better than not smiling.

 

posted by Mike in Comedy,Happiness,memories,Movies and have No Comments

With the music cranked and ready, time to walk

I really might have one of the best, most eclectic iPods in the world now.

I have more than 6,200 different items in its memory now, from music of all sorts to a dozen or so podcasts to nearly 30 audiobooks to one movie — “Talladega Nights” — somewhere in there.

Charles Aznavour

It’s the music that is a lot of fun. In recent months, I have been adding all sorts of artists that strike my fancy. From Dickey Lee and Terry Cashman to Starship and Tim McGraw, from the Andrews Sisters and Helen Reddy to the Association and Charles Aznavour. I’ve got hundreds of classic music selections and a hundred or so hymns, a ton of country music and seven or eight bluegrass albums with my friend Susan Nikas.

It’s really terrific to load up my iPod and go out for a two- or three-hour walk. With the music on “shuffle,” I can go from a ’60s hit to something by Beethoven to some Kathleen Madigan or Jim Gaffigan standup comedy. I actually end up skipping a lot of stuff because it doesn’t seem right for the moment, but I also occasionally come across stuff that I had forgotten was on there.

Think about it. With more than 6,000 songs on the iPod, there are probably some that in all the continuous shuffling, I never hear.

The only thing that sort of disappoints me is that I’ve got days worth of ’60s and ’70s music from CDs I used to own that I cannot figure out how to get from my Zune to my iPod. I’ve also got comedy by guys like Bill Hicks and Mitch Fatel on the Zune, which I have plugged into the home sound system but don’t carry with me when I walk.

Yeah, I suppose it’s sort of goofy.

But it certainly does make hiking a lot easier, and as my toe continues to heal from its infection, I am certainly hoping to get back into longer walks than I have been doing this week.

Sue Nikas

I’ve been eating too much and my weight is closer to 200 pounds than I care to admit, even to myself. I really need to get back into the good habits I formed last summer and fall in Texas and California.

Otherwise, eventually I’ll end up in the same mess I was before I went to Texas.

Thankfully, though, my iPod is ready and waiting when I start hitting the road big-time. The music really does make a big difference.

posted by Mike in Exercise,Georgia,Music and have No Comments

Gaffigan show a great birthday gift

My birthday is still two weeks away, but tonight I enjoyed one of the very best presents I have ever received. Even if I did have to make an 80-mile round trip to get it.

I found out earlier this week that my children had gone in together to get me two tickets to see one of my favorite comedians, Jim Gaffigan, at the Grove Theater in Anaheim. I can’t remember the last time I saw a live comedy show. In fact, the last one was all the way back in the summer of 2001, and I was performing in it as part of a new comedians revue. That was one of the most amazing evenings of my life — or at least the most amazing five minutes — but I wasn’t nearly as funny as Gaffigan.

Jim Gaffigan

Jim Gaffigan

The key to success for any comedian is to find a way in which to be unique, and Gaffigan’s success is based on the fact that in addition to doing his act, he uses a second voice to comment on it as if he were a fan in the audience.

“Great, diarrhea jokes.”

“That’s not funny.”

“I don’t like it when he does religious jokes.”

Many of Gaffigan’s funniest bits are about food, whether he’s talking about how much he likes bacon and cake (not together) or running down Subway and Waffle House.

He also has done some terrific bits about whales and manatees, and he does the traditional stuff about wife, children and family.

I was actually surprised in one respect. During the opening act — some guy I had never heard of but who was reasonably funny — I enjoyed the jokes but never laughed out loud once. I figured that was going to be my reaction to the entire show, that I would enjoy it but not out loud.

Boy, was I wrong. Once Gaffigan hit his stride, I found myself laughing out loud at almost every joke, even the ones I had heard before on his CDs.

The best part of the evening was that Nicole enjoyed it too. As a non-native English speaker, she sometimes doesn’t get the humor in some of our comedians. But she not only enjoyed Gaffigan, she didn’t have any difficulty at all picking up his speech rhythms.

It was terrific, and what made it even better was that Pauline and Virgile had gone to the trouble to search for a gift that would really be special for my 60th birthday.

I really do have the best kids in the world.

posted by Mike in Comedy,Family,love and have No Comments
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