Tag Archives: J. Fortune

R.I.P. James Gandolfini

 

tony-soprano-picture

James Gandolfini passed away last week while vacationing with his son in Italy. The New Jersey born actor and star of the ground breaking cable drama The Sopranos was only 51 years old. It is seems strange to even think of The Sopranos as “ground breaking”, but in many ways Gandolfini’s approach to the character of family patriarch Tony Soprano is responsible for the recent boom in cable television dramas.

From the pilot episode, Gandolfini showed us a tough talking and quick tempered mob boss with a panic disorder. Gandolfini dared to allow us the insight into a character we didn’t want to like. His unflinching and open portrayal of the self serving Tony as a bad husband, failed father and poor leader hearkened back to his early days on the stage. Tony is cunning, shrewd and controlling. His interior life is rich and thoughtful, though his exterior seemed to be shallow. Gandolfini gave us all of this and more in all 86 episodes of the Emmy-award-wining series.

The purity of his anger was often captured in his performances. Gandolfini, said that he would focus his anger and incorporate it into a scene. In an interview for the television series Inside the Actors Studio, he said he would deliberately hit himself on the head or stay up all night to evoke the desired reaction. “If you are tired, every single thing that somebody does makes you mad”, Gandolfini said in the interview. “Drink six cups of coffee. Or just walk around with a rock in your shoe. It’s silly, but it works.”

We have Tony Soprano to thank for all of the many splendid ways TV doesn’t suck.  If not for the Sopranos, there would have been no The Shield, Rescue Me, or House. Feature film actors would not have given the tired medium of television a try. Writers pushed the limit of what a television  show could be; basic cable followed suit, and the rest is history. Tony Angry

The Sopranos came to what seemed like an abrupt end in 2007. After much build up to what seems like a hit on Tony, while he is having dinner in a restaurant with his family the screen simply goes black. The viewer is left with many unanswered questions. In many ways James Gandolfini’s life ended in the same fashion. Questions about what might have been always abound when someone dies so young. Gandolfini said he was okay with being typecast of Tony Soprano, and that he was being offered different kinds of roles as he aged.

“Mostly it’s not a lot of that stuff anymore with shooting and killing and dying and blood,” he said. “I’m getting a little older, you know. The running and the jumping and killing, it’s a little past me.”

 

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Justice League: Doom

Image property of Warner Bros

Image property of Warner Bros

I am not a traditional geek. I do not game, have little interest in comics and my choices in fiction tend to skew more realistic. While I enjoy a nice piece of science-fiction, I am far more drawn to a historical work, crime, or political thriller.

The blockbuster superhero films certainly ring my bell– though, often as an outsider. In discussing my geek status with a friend last week I received a challenge. My friend suggested that I come off of my high horse and watch a Justice League cartoon; I enjoy the occasional animated sitcom. I have logged many hours on the creations of Matt Groening; both The Simpsons and Futurama are programs I have enjoyed. My enjoyment of the animated superhero story started somewhere around Superfriends and ended just after Fox’s  X-Men series.

After accepting the challenge I logged onto Netflix to find a suitable feature. I selected Justice League: Doom. The story centers on a villain named Vandal Savage. Savage wishes to wipe out most of the human population and enslave the remainder. He hires some lesser known players from the rogues gallery of DC Comics to each take out their opposite member of the Justice League.

The hired guns are equipped with what appears to be the perfect plan for executing or incapacitating the heroes. Where did the plans come from? That is the interesting part– Batman! I have heard my geek friends say on many occasions that if he were given enough time for preparation Batman win any contest. Here Batman has made a contingency plan for dealing with every member of the Justice League and somehow their enemies have this information and use it in an attempt to destroy the heroes. This will make way for the new world order of Vandal Savage.

I must say that for an animated feature, this film had a great deal of depth. The inner struggle, trust and distrust of one’s fellows and impending feelings of betrayal are on full display. The animation is fantastic, and the voice talent is superb. The guy from Wings (Tim Daly) does a great job as the last son of Krypton, while Castle provides the voice of The Green Lantern.

So in answer to my friends challenge, Cartoons aren’t just for children anymore, and I apparently am not too cool for them.

 

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2013: Quarter- Assing my Resolution

Beckwith_Twain

“Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week
you can begin paving hell with them as usual. Yesterday, everybody smoked his
last cigar, took his last drink, and swore his last oath. Today, we are a pious
and exemplary community. Thirty days from now, we shall have cast our
reformation to the winds and gone to cutting our ancient shortcomings
considerably shorter than ever. We shall also reflect pleasantly upon how we did
the same old thing last year about this time. However, go in, community. New
Year’s is a harmless annual institution, of no particular use to anybody save as
a scapegoat for promiscuous drunks, and friendly calls, and humbug resolutions,
and we wish you to enjoy it with a looseness suited to the greatness of the
occasion.” Mark Twain – Letter to Virginia City Territorial
Enterprise
, Jan. 1863

 

It’s a new year! Time to make new resolutions and evaluate the huge embarrassing failure that became of last year’s pledges to change.  Yearly many people participate in this ritual. According to a poll in USA Today (the McDonald’s of newspapers) the three most common resolutions are to lose weight, save money and quit smoking.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Though I quit smoking 3 years ago it was not the result of a resolution, and I only miss it every single day. As for saving money, last year was the year I became an adult. A real adult in possession of a living trust, a will and a 401k. If I am to choose from the most common resolutions that would only leave losing weight. For me the decision to reduce my body mass would be the second worst resolution in recorded history; the first being when Abraham Lincoln resolved to take in more live theater. What, too soon?

I need a resolution with a very broad definition of success, one that lacks a traditional tracking metric and thus has little room for failure. A resolution that I can walk away from midyear and return to at a later time with little to no impact on the outcome. This may imply that I am half- assing the resolution process, but in reality it is probably more like quarter-assing.

So, for 2013 I have selected a foolproof and unavoidable inevitability as my resolution. In 2013 I resolve to become the answer to a trivia question. How will I achieve this? Who knows. Maybe I will discover cold fusion or set a Guinness world record for sleeping the least hours in a year. Perhaps I can write a song that could rival the lyrical wonder that is Gangnam Style or Call Me Maybe.

Bring on 2013–the Year of the Snake. With any luck, 2013 will be the year I am to finally achieve my resolution. Maybe that is the answer, I will become the first person to actually achieve my resolution. Thus becoming the answer to a trivia question.

Circular resolution = double points!

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Do You Hear the People Sing? I Hope Not

image property of Cameron Mcintosh ltd.

image property of Cameron Mcintosh ltd.

I don’t like musicals. I feel it is important to get that out of the way. Broadway-style entertainment is something I just don’t understand. I have seen several shows including Evita, Phantom of the Opera, Fiddler on the Roof. The truth is in high school and college I even appeared in some of the above listed musicals; while I never really enjoyed watching them, I did enjoy trodding the boards.I do however adore Les Miserables. I was introduced to this show through a compact disc recording of the original Broadway cast. Listening to Colm Wilkinson as Jean ValJean and Terrance Mann as Javert, I was completely immersed in the story of a former prisoner and his pursuer. Based on the novel of same name and set against the back drop of the French Revolution, this story  has everything: action, violence, war, redemption, alienation, whores, and saints.  Since then, I have purchased several different recordings of the show and have been to see a traveling company performance.

As many are now aware Les Miserables has recently been given the Hollywood treatment. It has been cast with some of the biggest names of recent years and stands a real chance of being a blockbuster. Hugh Jackman is preforming the role of prisoner 24601 with Russel Crowe playing the role of his antagonist Javert.  Sacha Baron Cohen will no doubt bring down the house as Master of the House, while Helena Bonham Carter plays his long suffering wife, the scene stealing Madame Thenardier.  They even have Colm Wilkinson playing the role of the Bishop!

I think this will be a fantastic film and…I cannot go. Not because I don’t want to be seen buying a ticket for a musical, or because I think the big name stars will wreck up their roles. I am sure Wolverine and Maximus will do just fine.

The reason I cannot see this movie is simple:

I came to hear Sid 6.7 and Van Helsing preform the Confrontation–not the “actor” who works the cotton candy machine at the mall. I want to hear Borat and Bellatrix Lestrange belt out that final toast in Master of the House–not some Glee obsessed teenager.

Somewhere near the end of the first act the character of Marius will be asked a question in song: Do you hear the people sing? If you are asked this question while sitting in the theater this weekend, I hope you are  able to answer, “only the ones on the screen!” I think I will wait for the DVD. Then I can sing along as loud as I please.

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The Disco and Rap Hall of Fame? I Think Not

rockroll-hall-of-fame

For quite a while, I have been carrying around a list of bands and artists that should be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Yearly, the Rock Hall inducts five to seven artists or bands based on the following criteria:

“To be eligible for induction as an artist (as a performer, composer, or musician) into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the artist must have released a record, in the generally accepted sense of that phrase, at least 25 years prior to the year of induction; and have demonstrated unquestionable musical excellence.

We shall consider factors such as an artist’s musical influence on other artists, length and depth of career and the body of work, innovation and superiority in style and technique, but musical excellence shall be the essential qualification of induction.”

The acts that meet the above requirements for induction are then placed on a ballot, and the voting members of the organization select the years inductees.

The 2013 inductees are an eclectic group. The Hall has finally resolved a complete injustice by accepting Rush into the fold. Power rockers Heart and influential bluesman Albert King have had their contributions acknowledged. Singer song writer  Randy Newman famous for stringing together various incomplete thoughts into songs that often feature in Disney films rounds out the list of current inductees that make some sense.

Also included for no good reason are angry rappers Public Enemy and disco queen Donna Summer. It pretty much goes without saying that I have no love for either genre, nor do I harbor any affection for these artists. There are still so many true rock acts left who are eligible for induction…Like:

 

Gram Parsons

Eligible since 1992

Key track: Return of the Grievous Angel,

Parsons’ blend of genre bending rock, country, folk, and jazz was an influence on the Rolling Stones (see “Wild Horses”) the Byrds, the Eagles, and the list goes on. His work with the Flying Burrito Bothers and The International Submarine Band invented the Country Rock/Southern Rock genre. Parsons’ referred to his blending of styles as “Cosmic American Music.”

 

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

Eligible since 2009

Key track: Red Right Hand

Formed in 1993 by multi-instrumentalist Nick Cave, the Australian post glam dramatic sound of The Bad Seeds seemed to come out of nowhere. While David Bowie is an obvious influence, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds are an all original. Not as whiny as The Smiths, not as heavy as The Cure, the group continues to produce fantastic concept albums. Cave is also a sought after writer and collaborator.

 

Warren-Zevon-Exciteable-Boy-album-artwork-hq-hd

Warren Zevon

Eligable since 1994

Key Track: Werewolves of London

The Hunter S. Thompson of folk rock, Warren Zevon is a true musician’s musician. A lyricist unmatched in modern music with an instrumental ability trained by Stravinsky and honed with songwriting royalty like Jackson Browne. Warren Zevon never sold a lot of records and never received a lot of radio play, but many Hall of Famer’s count him as an influence.

 

Cheap Trick

Eligible since 2002

Key Track : I Want You to Want Me

The Japanese Press has often referred to this Illinois band as the American Beatles. Cheap Trick possessed an ability to be a throwback band while maintaining a pop sensibility. Truly until their Live at Budokan Cheap Trick was really no big deal. The live version of I Want You to Want Me is the number one reason for their inclusion here.

 

6-Dire-Straits

Dire Straits

Eligable since 2003

Key Track: Money For Nothing

Let me explain this in a way that our younger readers might understand: Dylanesque vocals and Claptonesque guitars led to Beiberesque sales and radio play for Mark Knopfler and company. So Far Away, Sultans of Swing and Walk of Life alone should rate the Hall of Fame. Their contributions to the video format though dated now were unmatched in the 80s.

 

 

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Wrong Time, Wrong Place

Entertainment is different for everyone. Whether you enjoy unwinding with a good book or watching an engrossing film, entertainment is all about escaping our stress.

But, what would happen if stress met you right in the middle of your escapism of choice?

Imagine you are playing a poker game with your buddies. Suddenly, your friend interrupts your tournament-style no limit Texas Hold’em  game to deliver an editorial on his personal feelings about wearing fur. The escape of the game would be lost as reality intruded.

That is exactly what happened during NBC’s Sunday Night Football broadcast of the game between the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles. Veteran commentator Bob Costas took the microphone during half time to respond to the tragic murder-suicide of Kansas City Chiefs’ running back Jovan Belcher and his girlfriend Kasandra Perkins. Rather than offer condolences, he began stating his opinions on gun control.

Within moments, the Twitter-verse and news outlets were abuzz with opinions of Costas’ opinion. Heavy hitters like Keith Olberman and Rosie O’Donnell praised Costas for utilizing the platform to speak out in favor of gun control. Ted Nugent and others were quick to come out against the commentary.

I could tell you where I fall on gun control, but I do not believe this is the point.  Weekly, millions of viewers tune in to Sunday Night Football on NBC to be entertained. They use the experience of watching professional football to unplug from their day-to-day pressures and stress. They root for their favorite team and feel a part of something. This reality was completely shattered by someone attempting to further their personal agenda.

There will always be a debate on gun control in America. Valid arguments will always exist on both sides. The key is time and place. What Bob Costas did was to rob people of a release; one that, given recent events, was sorely needed

 

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The Week in Geek: Oct. 19, 2012

I’m taking time out of my busy birthday (that I’m sure you care about so much) to let you know what we’ll be talking about at my party.

Snow White and Death by Amy Mebberson

Uno is a great way to pass the time waiting on a prince. Illustrator Amy Mebberson has some brilliant work on her site and Tumblr. Everything from pinups to modernist posters to cute pincesses. Check her work out! Image courtesy of Amy Mebberson.

First and foremost, as if there were any other news this week, AGENT PHIL M*****F***** COULSON IS COMING BACK!

Speaking of people with M*****F***** as a middle name, Bill Murray crashed some dude’s kickball game because he’s Bill Murray. If you have to ask why, you’ve clearly never heard of a Bill Murray Story.

After many years of having games played with our hearts in ways that that Backstreet Boys could never have imagined, it looks like Ghostbusters 3 is moving forward….without Venkman. Here’s a history of this film’s risen from the grave yet again.

When he isn’t impersonating Honey Boo Boo Child, Christopher Walken is playing a pretty mean Boarderlands 2.

You know those TED Talks that we all think will change the world but secretly know won’t (and we’re actually only checking out because it looked like it was about dinosaurs or sex or dinosaur sex)? Well, The Onion has started their version creatively called “Onion Talks.”

Grover Batman by Amy Mebberson

Grover’s not just the monster at the end of the book, he’s also the night! Image courtesy of Amy Mebberson.

There’s a new plot summary for Iron Man 3 out and it’s as vague as you assumed it would be! Excise “Iron Man” from this paragraph and it literally could be about any movie ever.

As the Ponds swim off to new lakes and streams, Rob won’t be weeping for them.

Lots of people get paid lots of money to be on the teevee, but the Internet would respectfully disagree with who pulls in the big bucks. Here’s how they’d like to see it in their happy little world.

No, sir, I do want to put these monsters in my pocket! I don’t care if they’re called Pokemon! Those realistic illustrations are just too freaky! I said good day!

Liberal level 9000 that I am, you should be proud that I waited this far in the article to link to the Binders Full of Women Tumblr.

Capt Kirk-met by Amy Mebberson

Captain Kirk-met directs his ship to the Pig Planet for reasons unknown to his crew. Image courtesy of Amy Mebberson.

In news that ruins your hypothetical childhood, if you ever imagine what life would be like if you were nine last summer, S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Helicarrier  wouldn’t work. You can trust them because their website has the word “tech” in is and it is on YouTube.

J. Fortune has learned more from the space dive than just that it is really cool when someone jumps to the planet from space, a’la the most recent Star Trek.

The Avengers are back….as pugs. And it’s adorable. And it’s why the Internet exists. And the end, when Pug Thor can’t take off his helmet is hilarious.

Julie wants you to remember to takes the Zombie Survival Guide’s advice and organize before they rise.

The secret to getting Wolverine claws is to come up with a catchy viral K-Pop song. Who knew?

New York Comic Con was last week, and people were in costume, cosplaying as we in the geek industry would call it. Sorry to throw jargon at you. I don’t like to brag, but I’m preeety geeky. Aynwho, here and here are some badass cosplayers. Gabrielle agrees that costumes are for more than Halloween!

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The Week in Geek: Oct. 5, 2012

You may not know what you’re going to do this weekend, but after reading this you know you you’ll be doing it full of fantastical Internet knowledge!

Also, whatever you’re doing this weekend, bring a jacket. It looks like a cold snap could be coming. Don’t give me that look! Just leave it in your car. You’ll be glad you have it when it gets dark.

Princess Sally by matthewhoworth

Maybe Sally’s never been considered a Disney Princess because she doesn’t dress like one. This lovely portrait takes care of that! Image courtesy of DeviantArtist matthewhoworth.

You know the silhouettes of you and your siblings that Ma and Pa have over the sofa? Yeah, photographer David Reeves’ action and occasionally zombie-packed vignettes are nothing like those. (via Geeks are Sexy via Geekologie)

TJ is a little excited that Halo: Forward Until Dawn is here.

Etsy seller Tannim is selling Game of Thrones-themed Converse All Stars (aka: “Chucks”) that he or she designed themselves. Insert overplayed play on,”Winter is coming,” here. (via Geekologie)

These kicks might be perfect for John since he just can’t stop discussing Game of Thrones!

What in the World (of Warcraft)?! Maine Democratic state senate candidate Colleen Lachowicz is under fire for her participation in the MMORPG. It has also led to an inadvertently hilarious press release. (via Kotaku)

What the hell is up with these non sequitur covers of classics put out by publisher Tutis? I’m 90 percent convinced this is a Dadaist art project that has gone too far. (via The Mary Sue)

Love the new Leatherface? A fan of the facelifted Freddy’s? Jonesing for some more Jason? Rob’s got a list of his favorite horror remakes.

You’re cold, but you’re too weak to carry a fresh taun taun carcass everywhere for warmth. Think Geek’s got you(r head) covered with these adorable Star Wars hats. Yoda you will look like. (via Laughing Squid)

a_tip_of_the_hat_by_matthewhoworth-d4c43b8

Deviant Artist matthewhoworth has a fantastic series of classic Disney villains done in this style! Image courtesy of DeviantArtist matthewhoworth.

May have guessed this because I’ve told you, but I’m a wee bit on the blue side of the Congressional fence. Because I very much disagree with Mitt Romney (And I’m the writer here), I’m sharing this link showing just what public television contributes to America. (Thanks to my friend Jess for the tip!)

Megan’s Movie Alphabet is not just an example of stunning graphic design; it also makes for some potentially twisted kids’ room art. (via Laughing Squid)

The Doctor Puppet is a blog that’s about pretty much what it says on the tin. I sit sad when you’re envious of a puppet’s globe-trotting lifestyle? (via I forget where! I’m sorry!)

Voters, listen up (You should all be listening since you should all be registered to vote!)! J. Fortune knows you’ve been guilty of fraudulent reasoning.

Are you a lady in possession of a larger than average bosom (counts me out)? Are you an experienced DM? Do you have a half hour to spare? Do you either have very high self-esteem or very low? Then you might want to answer this ad for a topless Dungeons + Dragons DM for a bachelor party. (via Nerd Approved)

Adele’s theme for the upcoming James Bond flick Skyfall was released yesterday. I haven’t listened it yet because I forgot my earbuds.

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