Young Man With Some Corn

Fairly late the other night I was trawling around the channels, glass of French red in hand, looking for something to watch. There was a ballgame from Seattle on, but it was already 4-0 Orioles in the fifth inning and it had that look of a yawner. I flipped over to TCM just as host Ben Mankiewicz was introducing Young Man With A Horn from 1950, starring Kirk Douglas (!), Doris Day (!!), Lauren Bacall (!!!) and Hoagy Carmichael (!!!!). (I felt like the Jack Lemmon character from The Apartment as he finally sits down with his TV dinner to watch some boob-tube after a long, hard day at the office, followed by waiting for the horny, philandering executives to finish using his pad. He gets all excited as the network schmuck announces the star-studded cast of Grand Hotel, "starring Lionel Barrymore (!), Joan Crawford (!!), Wallace Beery (!!!) ...". With each added star, Lemmon's eyes widen and his jaw drops further, but first there's "a message from our sponsor", only to be followed by the same roll call, but then "a message from our alternate sponsor", at which point Lemmon turns off the box in disgust.) There are no such commercial interruptions on TCM though and of course I watched the whole goddamn movie like the hopeless idiot I am, even though I've seen it enough times to know what a corn-fest it is. The picture has so many drawbacks it's hard to know where to start, but the main problem is that it's based on Dorothy Baker's trashy novel of the same name, a fatuously ripe more [...]

Bill Harris, Trombone Surrealist

It's as well the trombonist Bill Harris actually existed, because not even the most imaginative novelist or jazz fan could have made him up. He was most certainly unique, but that word doesn't quite do him justice; he was "unique" the way 9/11 was "devastating", as the JFK assassination was "shocking", like Rob Ford is "dissolute." And words such as original, individual, colourful and distinctive, while equally applicable, don't really do it in his case either. In spite of this singularity, he remains somewhat on the sidelines at this point. Very little has been written about him and although he recorded a lot as a sideman, he made just three full LPs as a leader, along with a handful of sporadic sessions, most of them not easy to find. He was certainly admired, even idolized, by many trombonists in his day and exerted an influence on them, but very few sounded like him because he was virtually inimitable. One of his better-known tunes was "Characteristically B.H.", but his outstanding characteristic was that he was uncharacteristic of almost everything, in every sense. Jazz is full of colourful characters and voices, but with Harris, there's such a complex range of contrasts in both the man and his music that he's a special case. His trombone voice was one-of-a-kind - try to imagine all three of Duke Ellington's trombonists from the 1930s rolled into one, with Juan Tizol a little more prominent in the mix than the other two - only playing bebop. His more [...]

Brazilian Players Blame Rout on Using Wrong Hairspray

The following jokes about yesterday’s unbelievable 7-1 drubbing of Brazil by Germany in the World Cup semi-final were rolling around in my head when I woke up this morning. I’m not sure they’re that funny, but I am pretty sure this means I need help.

Q: How do you make a Brazilian soccer player stand tall?

A : Give him feet.

Q : How do you make a Brazilian soccer player run?

A : Turn his countrymen loose on him.

Q : Why was Brazil’s keeper Julio Cesar so often out of position yesterday?

A : He was busy doing an interview with Jian Ghomeshi.

Q : Why did Germany score so much in yesterday’s game?

A : They’ve always been a very goal-oriented people.

Yesterday’s match was not even Kroos, Brazil looked like a Lahm being led to slaughter. They scored one late goal, but got no Klose. 

By the time it was 2-0, you Khedira pin drop in the stadium, it was Ozil quiet.

Of manager Phil Scolari, Brazilian supporters were heard to Mertesacker him. But Germany’s manager had to Loew the result.

Schurrle this spells the end of any Brazilian notions of football supremacy.

Abject apologies and Go Netherlands!