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Tag: "i see dead people"


[ 45 ] May 17, 2011 |

Farewell to Harmon Killebrew.  Not unexpected, of course.

Killebrew wasn’t on the list, but see Jonathan Bernstein’s list of the greatest living baseball players.  My main quibble would be at catcher, where I think Ivan Rodriguez certainly deserves an audience alongside Bench and Piazza.


The Week Too Much Music Died

[ 5 ] April 27, 2011 |



more from Roy, who like a commenter reminds me that I forgot to mention Hazel Dickens. Harlan County, USA is available on Netflix streaming…

Pierre Celis, 1925-2011

[ 11 ] April 10, 2011 |

Pierre Celis, who died yesterday, is something of a legend in the beer world.  The basic story is that he unilaterally resurrected the style of Belgian Witbier back in the mid 1960s, eventually sold out, and recreated the brewery in Austin, Texas, in the early 1990s.

In the mid 1960s, Celis was reminiscing in his home town of Hoegaarden with some old timers about the local Witbier that had last been brewed in 1955, and he decided to bring it back.  Celis started the Hoegaarden Brewery, now famous for its Hoegaarden Witbier.  At some point in the mid to late 1980s, a fire severely damaged the brewery.  Several other brewers chipped in to help get him going again, one of whom was Interbrew, the Belgian giant.  Over time, Interbrew (now known as Anheuser-Busch InBev) made demands on Celis to, essentially, dumb down the recipe, so Celis sold out to Interbrew.

He decided to take advantage of the growing popularity of good beer in the United States by relocating his brewery to the US.  The mineral composition of water makes a difference to many (but not all) beer styles, and Celis required a water profile as close as possible to Hoegaarden.  He found that in Austin, and opened the Celis Brewery (1992?  1993?), using a recipe for the Wit that was, he claimed, the original Hoegaarden.  This was a fantastic beer, and in order to aid in distribution, Celis sold a stake to Miller.  In a familiar story, Celis sold out entirely to Miller, who eventually closed the brewery in early 2001 claiming that it wasn’t selling enough.

A brewery in Michigan bought the equipment and brands in late 2002, and their version is every bit as good as the original (the two or three times I’ve had it).  Additionally, it’s been “contract brewed” in Belgium by two different breweries (most notably by Brouwerij van Steenberge), leading to the oddly gratifying situation where a (good) American beer is being brewed under contract in Belgium for the Belgian market.  I’ve also had this several times, and it’s also excellent.

Celis was a purist, and possibly not the most business-savvy player in the brewing game — Roger Protz did say that he had been “so badly mauled by global brewers that it was good to find him sprightly and cheerful” when they met for an interview five years ago, and at the time of the Miller “investment” in Celis Brewery, my circle were not optimistic that this was perhaps the best way forward.  However, his impact on beer style, both in Europe and in the United States, can not be overstated.  I had the pleasure of meeting him twice, and back in England I have a couple terrific pictures of us together at a beer festival here in Portland, Oregon, from the early 1990s.  (Suffice it to say that neither of us were 100% sober).  He always seemed to me to be a jovial good natured guy, but then that might have been the beer.  I also brewed my own version of a Belgian Witbier, which, while I don’t think Celis ever tried, the late Michael Jackson did, and he rather enjoyed it.

Tot ziens, mijn vriend.

Additional testimonials from Austin can be found here and here.


[ 20 ] April 10, 2011 |


See Kenny, Zoller Seitz, Edroso, and this oldie-but-goodie from Dargis. Roy’s post, with its account of Lumet’s setting of Newman’s summation in The Verdict, has many insights but I especially like this one:

His work was uneven, but I don’t know that we’d have the good films he gave us if he husbanded his energies like Kubrick, and made movies less often. His was not a ruminative talent. He got the idea, made the picture, and moved on. This resembles the method of the hack, but Lumet was clearly not only talented, but artistically ambitious — he actually got an NYPD trilogy (Serpico, Prince of the City, Q&A) made in Hollywood; who among our auteurs could do likewise? They could sell a superhero property, of course, but a three-film examination of big-city police and political corruption? It wouldn’t even occur to them. Which is just another reason to mourn Lumet’s passing.

Pauline Kael vividly, if too uncharitably. described the approach in her essay about the making of The Group. The two salient features of Lumet’s body of work are the peaks and the fallow periods. But it was a very different trajectory than the burn-bright-and-slowly-fade-away pattern perhaps less prominent in film than in music or poetry but still pretty common. One the one hand, he was always very uneven, following up Serpico with Loving Molly and the Network with an unsuccessful adaption of Equus. On the other hand, what stands to me as his greatest film came out 25 years after Twelve Angry Men, and Before the Devil Knows Your Dead ranks near the top of his canon. I’d like to think that the latter was his last film because he knew he had really nailed one after a lot of partial and full misfires, but Glenn confirms that he never would have thought that way, and the restless energy of his 70s peaks never could have happened any other way.

Since it’s nearly obligatory to note an idiosyncratic favorite, I’ll note that with the exception of James Foley’s Glengarry Glen Ross Lumet’s Long Day’s Journey Into Night might be my favorite filmed theater.

Geraldine Ferraro 1935-2011

[ 20 ] March 27, 2011 |

Obit here in the NYT.  Not much to add to this.  I was too young to vote in that disaster (my first was the 1986 mid-terms), but I still remember it reasonably well.  With the advantage of time, she was probably under-qualified for the VP nomination, but in 1984 tacit qualifications for the post weren’t as defined as they are today (e.g. it’s difficult to imagine George H.W. Bush being nominated for VP today, let alone Sargent Shriver).  Her career would have benefited from remaining in the House, where she was something of a rising star.

And the Democrats learned a valuable lesson on vetting candidates for the VP nomination.  While Mondale is almost certainly wrong in his suggestion that the financial disclosure of both Ferraro and her husband, John Zaccaro, cost the campaign 15 points in the polls, it certainly didn’t help the cause.

Elizabeth Taylor 1932-2011

[ 37 ] March 23, 2011 |

Affection for Taylor is a generational thing; by the time I started watching films with any seriousness, she had become less artist than icon.  For my parents and especially my grandparents, though, Liz Taylor was a major cultural figure.  I wouldn’t say that her work has aged particularly well, although I like Giant as much as the next guy. I find it just a bit remarkable that she was only 79 when she passed; compare the arc of her career to Clint Eastwood or William Shatner (both about a year older), and remember that at the intensity of her stardom considerably outshone either.

Rest in peace.

Richard Martin

[ 9 ] March 14, 2011 |

Above: my favorite card, in a collection that includes (admittedly non-mint) Gretzky and Lemieux rookies


The Duke

[ 18 ] March 1, 2011 |

R.I.P. Snider is actually a significant part of my childhood, not of course because of his starring role on the Only Team That Ever Mattered (and we shouldn’t forget the 140+ OPS he put up for the surprise World Champion Dodgers either) but because he was the analyst on the Expos broadcasts I cut my baseball teeth on (along with recent HOF inductee Dave Van Horne.) His memorably expressed point that the early-80s Expos lacked a left-handed hitter with “hair on his butt” still holds up!

Speaking of which, let’s give it up for Mr. Woodie Fryman. I have earlier sports memories, but the check-swing bloop single Bob Boone hit off Woodie in the top of the 9th in the penultimate game of the 1980 season was my real introduction to sports, i.e. searing pain. Somehow that was worse than the Schmidt homer it set up (just as Posada’s bullshit bloop double off Pedro in the 2003 ALCS is much worse for me than the Boone homer.) He came to Montreal when he was 38, and after getting his feet wet was a hell of a reliever for three years. R.I.P.

R.I.P. Don Kirshner

[ 14 ] January 18, 2011 |

Don Kirshner, the man responsible for the music behind the Monkees, has died. The Monkees represented everything that was most crass and reprehensible about the pop music scene of the time, and Kirshner, the impresario behind the Brill Building music machine, was the perfect man to exploit all that crassness and reprehensibility for maximum profit. But just as the Hollywood studio system couldn’t avoid creating some great movies, Don Kirshner couldn’t avoid helping create some great pop music.

(After the Monkees rebelled against Kirschner’s dictatorial ways, he went on to create the Archies, who, being cartoon characters,were more willing to indulge his artistic whims).

Those of us of a certain age remember Kirshner best for the Midnight Special, his eponymous Rock Concert, which would, in those pre-American Idol days, occasionally expose a bemused network TV audience to something like a seven-minute four-song full frontal assault from the Ramones:

Forward and Back

[ 6 ] January 17, 2011 |

Looking forward to baseball, and remembering Dave Niehaus.

Pete Postlethwaite

[ 3 ] January 3, 2011 |

If I had to choose my “most underrated middlebrow filmmaker,” it would definitely be Jim Sheridan, whose work I’ve admired for a long time (up to and including 2009’s fine Brothers.) One of his coups was to cast Postlethwaite in In the Name of the Father, resulting in him damn near stealing the movie from Daniel Day-Lewis. R.I.P.

Update by Rob: This is my favorite Posthelwaite:
Movie Videos & Movie Scenes at

When He Danced, He Was Really Wunderbar

[ 3 ] January 3, 2011 |

Bobby Farrell, R.I.P. A real blow for fans of rigorous, sober-minded historical analysis.  (OK, I guess that will be when Frank Farian dies, but…)

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