I’m Dying Up Here by William Knoedelseder

Died, killed, slayed…these comedy concepts are many and nebulous.  They do not detract, however, from the chronicling in I’m Dying up Here: Heartbreak and High Times in Stand-Up Comedy’s Golden Era by William Knoedelseder.  We get late 70’s snapshots in time of the rise (some meteoric, some not) of fresh-faced twentysomethings from all over the country dead-set on staking their claim in the stand-up comedy gold rush.

We meet a big-chinned pipe-wielding kid out of Boston College named Jay Leno and a young Indiana ex-weatherman Dave Letterman (turns out management didn’t like his wisecracks during weathercasts).  Three decades ago they were friends, galvanized through the common cause of working pro-bono for comedy tastemaker Mitzi Shore in her Hollywood clubs.  Some of these bell-bottomed quipsters achieved the ultimate goal of sharing a two-shot with Johnny Carson.  Some experienced the kind of bohemian poverty that would shock a college student on Ramen noodles.  Still others among these clowns exhibited the kind of offstage sadness that got them into rehab clinics and cemeteries.

This work tells the kind of unflattering after-closing stories that keep the pages turning.  I wish there were more photos.

DVDs for November

November 3

food incFood, Inc – Documentary

Reveals surprising and often shocking truths about what we eat, how it’s produced, and who we have become as a nation. Includes celebrity PSA’s, deleted scenes, and Nightline segment.  An eye-opening expose of the modern food industry, Food, Inc. is both fascinating and terrifying, and essential viewing for any health-conscious citizen.

pelhamTaking Pelham 1-2-3 – John Tavolta, Denzel Washington

Dispatcher Walter Garber’s day is turned upside down when he must face off against the criminal mind that is holding the passengers of a New York City subway train hostage after it is hijacked.

November 10

upUp – Disney Animated

Seventy-eight-year-old balloon salesman Carl Fredricksen finally fulfills his lifelong dream of a great adventure when he ties thousands of balloons to his house and flies away to the wilds of South America. He discovers too late that an 8-year-old Wilderness Explorer named Russell has stowed away.

November 17

anybodyIs Anybody There? – Michael Caine,

Ten-year-old Edward lives in his family-run retirement home. While his mother struggles to keep the family business afloat and his father copes with the onset of a mid-life crisis, Edward leads an increasingly lonely existence until he meets Clarence, a retired magician and grieving widower who refuses to give in gracefully to old age.

sisters keeperMy Sister’s Keeper – Alec Baldwin, Abigail Breslin, Cameron Diaz

Sara and Brian live an idyllic life with their young son and daughter. Suddenly, their baby girl falls ill, and her only hope for survival rests in her parents’ ability to find a compatible bone marrow donor. Their desperate decision to conceive another child raises both ethical and moral questions and begins to erode their relationship. Their actions ultimately set off a court case that threatens to tear the family apart.

star trekStar Trek – Eric Bana, Leonard Nimoy, Zachary Quinto

When the Romulan Nero comes from the future to take revenge on the Federation, the new recruits of the U.S.S. Enterprise will voyage through unimaginable danger to stop him from destroying everything they know.

November 24

angelsAngels & Demons – Tom Hanks, Ewan McGregor

Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon discovers evidence of the resurgence of the most powerful underground organization in history, the Illuminati. Upon learning of an unstoppable terrorist act against the Vatican, Langdon travels to Rome and joins forces with Italian scientist Vittoria Vetra, and together they will follow the 400-year-old Path of Illumination that leads to the Vatican’s only chance for survival.

Napoleon Lives!

I miss the camaraderie of the Napoleon Dynamite days. You know, when EVERYONE was voting for Pedro and drawing ligers? Luckily, the spirit of Napoleon lives on and, by watching these few movies, the world can continue enjoying the pleasures of really awkward nerdiness:

Sasquatch

The Sasquatch Gang, has a strong comic-book-comes-alive feel and stars Justin Long as a burnout annoyed by the LARPing (LARP stands for Live Action Role Playing) of his geeky teenage neighbor, Gavin, and his friends, Sophie and Hobie. However, when evidence of a bigfoot is found in the nearby park, everyone sees it as an opportunity to improve their situations. I just really love movies where guys act tough with each other and look silly.

eagleshark

Eagle vs. Shark is a quiet love story between two people trying to find confidence; Lily needs confidence in herself and Jarrod needs his family’s confidence. Unfortunatley, Jarrod, played by Jermaine Clement of Flight of the Conchords, is kind of a jerk so I can totally sympathize with his family not taking his various ninja moves serious. That is, until Lily’s faith in him convinces me otherwise. The movie is also very New Zealand-y which makes it very hip; New Zealand humor is the new British.

Extra bonus points for the two actresses that play the lead roles in these two movies: Loren Horsley as Lily and Addie Land as Sophie for being lovely AND nerdy.

DVDs for September

September 1

stateState of Play– Russell Crowe, Ben Affeck, Helen Mirren

When D.C. reporter Cal McCaffrey is assigned to investigate the murder of an assistant to an up-and-coming politician, he uncovers a conspiracy that threatens to bring down the nation’s power structures. In a town of spin doctors and wealthy power brokers, he will discover one truth: when fortunes are at stake, no one’s integrity, love, or life is safe.

sugarSugar – Algenis Perez Soto, Rayniel Rufino

After seeing the movie Field of Dreams, Dominican baseball star Miguel ‘Sugar’ Santos hopes to break into the big leagues in the United States to earn money to support his impoverished family. His dreams may become a reality when he is recruited to play for a minor league team in the United States. There is local interest in this movie as it was filmed in Davenport at Modern Woodman Park

“This is a wonderful film. “ — Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

September 15

wolverineX Men Origins – Wolverine – Hugh Jackman, Ryan Reynolds

Tells the story of Wolverine’s epically violent and romantic past, his complex relationship with Victor Creed, and the ominous Weapon X program. Along the way, Wolverine encounters many mutants, both familiar and new, including surprise appearances by several legends of the X-Men universe whose appearances in the film series have long been anticipated.

September 22

ghostsGhosts of Girlfriends Past – Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Garner

A committed bachelor who thinks nothing of breaking up with several women on a conference call is visited by the ghosts of his former jilted girlfriends, who take him on a hilarious adventure through his failed relationships – past, present, and future.

September 29

awayAway We Go – John Krasinski, Maya Rudolf, Jeff Daniels, Maggie Gyllenhaal

This heartfelt film explores the comedic twists and turns in one couple’s journey across contemporary America. Anticipating the birth of their first child, longtime couple Burt and Verona embark on an ambitious itinerary to visit friends and family in order to find their perfect home.

A Flux Capacitor for your Ears

I always feel a little like Marty McFly when I listen to old-time radio shows on my iPod or computer. Here are several websites that give free downloads and/or streaming of a variety of programs:

WizzardRadioWizzard Radio hosts about 85 different podcasts relating to old Radio Broadcasts including:


Radio Lovers allows listeners to revisit the listening experience of hundreds of vintage radio programs such as western hero Hopalong Cassidy and comedy classic Amos & Andy.

Agatha Christie Radio MysteriesMy favorites are the Agatha Christie Radio Mysteries. Unfortunately, the site no longer produces new feeds, but you can still download old episodes from the website.

DVDs for August

August 4

Race to Witch Mountain – Dwayne “The Rock” JohnsonRace

When Las Vegas cab driver Jack Bruno encounters two teens with supernatural powers, he finds himself in an adventure in the middle of the Nevada desert known for unexplained phenomena and strange sightings – Witch Mountain.

soloistThe Soloist – Robert Downey, Jr.; Jamie Foxx

A Los Angeles newspaper reporter discovers a homeless musical prodigy while looking for a new article for the paper. The two form a unique friendship that will transform both their lives.

August 11

1717 Again – Zac Efron, Michelle Trachenberg, Matthew Perry

What would you do if you got a second shot at life? Mike’s glory days are decidedly behind him. His marriage has fallen apart, he’s been passed over for a promotion, and his kids think he’s a loser. But Mike is given another chance when he is miraculously transformed back to the age of 17. Unfortunately, Mike may look 17 again, but his thirtysomething outlook is totally uncool in the class of 2009.

i love youI Love you, Man – Paul Rudd, Rashida Jones, Jason Segel

After Peter gets engaged to the woman of his dreams, he realizes he has not one friend to serve as his best man. To rectify the situation, he goes on a series of man-dates before he meets Sydney Fife, with whom he instantly bonds. While Peter and Sydney become closer, his relationship with his fiancee begins to suffer, forcing him to choose between her or his new B.F.F.

August 18

Hannah Montana the Movie – Miley Cyrus, Brian Bostwickhannah

When stardom threatens to take over Miley’s life as pop sensation Hannah Montana, her father takes the entire family back home to the country, where Miley finds herself in the middle of fun adventures and even a little romance!

August 25

dupDuplicity – Julia Roberts, Clive Owens

Two sexy spies turned corporate operatives attempt to pull off one of the biggest heists ever. As the stakes rise in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, they’ll put everything on the line to remain one double-cross ahead of the rest.

Sunshine Cleaning – Amy Adams, Emily Bluntsunshine

Trying to better her financial situation, a single mother starts a crime scene cleaning business and asks her unreliable sister to join her. Together they clean up the deadly messes left by others, and deal with the messes in their own lives as well.

New DVD Releases for June

June 2

defiance1Defiance – Daniel Craig, Liev Schreiber

The extraordinary true story of the Bielski brothers who turn a band of war defectors into commanding freedom fighters and motivate hundreds of private citizens to join their fight against the Nazi regime. Midwest Tapes

revolutionaryRevolutionary Road – Leonardo Dicaprio, Kate Winslett

Frank and April Wheeler are a young couple living in suburban Connecticut in 1955. On the outside their lives appear to be perfect, but they really aren’t happy. They decide to break away from the ordinary and move to Paris, but can they do it without breaking their marriage apart? Midwest Tapes

June 9

granGran Torino – Clint Eastwood

A Korean War vet stops a young Hmong teen from stealing his prized car, and reluctantly proceeds to reform the boy, learning about himself along the way. Midwest Tapes

June 16

madea1Tyler Perry’s Madea Goes to Jail – Reuben Cannon, Tyler Perry

After a high-speed freeway chase puts Madea in front of the judge, her reprieve is short-lived as anger management issues get the best of her and land her in jail. But Madea’s eccentric family members, the Browns, rally behind her, lending their special ‘country’ brand of support. Midwest Tapes

June 23

shopaholic1Confessions of a Shopaholic – Isla Fisher, Hugh Dancy

Rebecca Bloomwood is a charming New York City girl who has a little problem that is quickly turning into a big problem: she’s hopelessly addicted to shopping and drowning in a sea of debt. While Rebecca has dreams of working for a top fashion magazine, she can’t quite get her foot in the door – that is, until she lands a job as an advice columnist for a financial magazine published by the same company. Midwest Tapes

DVDs for April

April 7

doubtDoubt – Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman

It’s 1964, St. Nicholas in the Bronx. A charismatic priest, Father Flynn, is trying to upend the school’s strict customs, which have long been fiercely guarded by Sister Aloysius Beauvier, the iron-gloved principal who believes in the power of fear and discipline. When Father Flynn pays too much attention to a new student, Sister Aloysius sets off on a personal crusade to unearth the truth and to expunge Flynn from the school. 5 Oscar Nominations, SAG award to Meryl Streep for Best Actress.

April 14

reader1The Reader – Kate Winslett, Ralph Fiennes

A young man begins an affair with an older woman and learns years later about a secret she’s been harboring, when she must stand trial for Nazi war crimes. Golden Globe and SAG Award for Best Supporting Actress and the Oscar for Best Actress for Kate Winslett.

April 21

frost-nixon2Frost/Nixon – Frank Langella, Michael Sheen

When disgraced President Richard Nixon agreed to an interview with jet-setting television personality David Frost, he thought he’d found the key to saving his tarnished legacy. But, with a name to make and a reputation to overcome, Frost became one of Nixon’s most formidable adversaries. 2 Oscar Nominations

The Wrestler – Micky Rourkewrestler1

A former superstar is now paying the price for twenty years of grueling punishment in and out of the ring. But he’s about to risk everything to prove he has one more match left in him: a re-staging of his famous Madison Square Garden bout against ‘The Ayatollah.’ 2 Oscar nominations.

April 28

bride-warsBride Wars – Ann Hathaway, Kate Hudson

Best friends Liv and Emma have shared a dream since childhood: Each yearns for the perfect June wedding at New York’s famed Plaza Hotel. When a clerical error puts them both down for nuptials on the same day at the same time, one of them will just have to switch the date, right? As if!