Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Duke Ellington

Today is the 110th anniversary of the birth of Duke Ellington. Called by many America's greatest composer, Ellington was born April 29, 1899 in Washington, D.C.. Ellington lead his band, one of the most successful in history, from 1923 until his death in 1974. His son Mercer Ellington continued the band until his death in 1996 when Duke's grandson Paul Ellington took it over.

Duke, along with Billy Strayhorn and members of his orchestra, wrote and popularized many hits such as "Mood Indigo", "It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)", "Sophisticated Lady", "In a Sentimental Mood", "Caravan", "Perdido", "I Let A Song Go Out Of My Heart", "Do Nothing Till You Hear from Me", and his most recognizable hit "Take the 'A' Train".

As they do every year, Columbia University's WKCR is celebrating Duke's birthday with 24 hours straight of Ellington music. Click on the link to stream the live broadcast.

Friday, April 17, 2009

A Day at the Men's Hair Styling Salon

Taking a page from Stephen's book, here's a video of Orson to finish off the week. Here he shows off his comedic chops alongside Dean Martin and Jimmy Stewart. Enjoy!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Orson Welles on Merv Griffin

It was something I'd always tried to find, but never was able to find. Until now. Here is Orson Welles from Merv Griffin's television show on October 10, 1985 - the day of Orson's death. The Great One appears to be in an expansive mood this evening. He rarely talked about the women in his life (especially ex-wife Rita Hayworth), but he openly answered Merv's questions.

Take a look:

Friday, April 10, 2009

It Was 40 Years* Ago Today...

Forty years ago today, Paul McCartney left The Beatles. All four formerly Fab members achieved success as solo artists, but never reached anywhere near the heights they did as a group.

I always say The Beatles are the greatest rock band in history. Not only because I love them. Their sound influenced a generation and still influence musicians to this day. All four can stand on their own as great musicians.

Gossip about possible collaborations between Paul and Ringo is still greeted with breathless anticipation.

There will never be another band anywhere near their level of impact.

*Actually 39. But I was going for a Sgt. Pepper reference.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Nightmare Town

I finished Nightmare Town over the weekend. It’s not a complete collection of Dashiell Hammett’s short stories, but it’s a good cross-section. There are quite a few Continental Op stories and three Spade stories.

One of the more interesting inclusions is the first 10 chapters of an early draft of The Thin Man. It’s more in line with the dark, gritty stories Hammett was famous for in the pulps. Nick and Nora Charles are not present. Instead, our hero is a world-weary private eye John Guild. In these 60 pages, we have murder, attempted murder, a missing person, a double life, embezzlement, fraud, and a suicide. As great as the finished Thin Man is, this story is a tantalizing preview of what might have been.

Hammett fans are advised to pick up the volume.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Road Dogs

No, this is not an April Fool's joke. It's real. Harper Collins is having a book trailer contest for Elmore Leonard's latest book Road Dogs. The winner will get an autographed copy of the book and a Kindle loaded with the complete Elmore Leonard library.

To inspire you, EW has an excerpt of the book up on their site today. Read On.