Movie Review: Irresistible

The ending of “Irresistible” is a cinematic chef’s kiss, a move that bears resemblance to a somewhat recent Martin Scorsese movie, of all things (a comparison that will surely thrill writer/director Jon Stewart). It’s the kind of thing that only a politics junkie like Stewart would put in a story.

Unfortunately, getting there is a bit of a chore. The movie starts off strongly enough, but the middle part drags, seemingly forgetting that it’s a comedy. If “Irresistible” were as funny as it is clever, it would be an instant classic.

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Dizzy Heights Live 6/6/20: The 1985 Show

Dizzy Heights has been quiet, but it has not been idle.

In late April, I received my own Zoom account through work, and hatched a plan: I will host a night of music, take requests, and spin tunes. The first night was a free-for-all (I’ll be posting it soon), but the most fun shows so far were time-specific. First I did 1987, then I did 1981-1983 (but cheated like crazy). Then I thought about 1985, and what a dramatic shift it was for modern rock. I had another 90 minutes worth of music to play when I ended it.

The requests are what made this show so good. My friends threw fantastic ideas at me, things that were not at all on my radar.

The set list here is the same, but I used different mixes in some instances (and added Ian McShane to the front of the Grace Jones track, where he belongs). This is far better than what I did live.

Thank you, as always, for listening.

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Dizzy Heights Live 5/16/20: The 1987 Show

Features The System, Frozen Ghost, Bourgeois Tagg, Rock & Hyde, Julian Cope, The Other Ones, and more.

Hang a sign up on the door, indeed.

This was the third live show I had done, and the first one to be time-specific. The original plan was that I’d start in 1987, and see where it went from there. But after a while, I committed to the idea, which would explain why the end gets a little weird.

I also had to get creative. A few of these songs were released in album form in 1986, but not released as singles in the US until 1987 (ahem, Level 42). I also used a mix of a song that wasn’t released until 1988. Following on the heels of the previous song, it would have been negligent to do otherwise.

Thank you, as always, for listening. Next up: 1979-1982. Think First Wave, but adjacent to First Wave, mostly.

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Movie Review: The King of Staten Island

You’ve already seen “The King of Staten Island.” Heck, this is the third time that “Staten” director Judd Apatow has made this movie alone. Pete Davidson’s character Scott is a more emotionally troubled version of Seth Rogen’s Ben from “Knocked Up,” and both Scott and Ben share more than a few traits with Amy Schumer’s Amy in “Trainwreck.” This resemblance to Apatow’s earlier work is what drew a hard pass from my wife when I asked if she wanted to watch it with me. “I’m tired of movies about a man-child,” she said.

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The Karen Mixes, Vol. III: Chill

This is the first of two mixes (so far) that were made for this year’s (postponed) get-together at the Cabin in the Woods. I made this specifically for Saturday morning, as we recover from the night before and plan the next day’s adventure/day drinking. I was sitting on a ton of downbeat songs that I knew Karen would like, but worried that they might kill the vibe, so I thought, “Morning, when this IS the vibe.” Towards the end, I started to ramp things up a little so the next mix wouldn’t be so jarring. Or at least that was the plan.

Artists include Le Flex, Dubstar, Howard Jones, Ellie Goulding, Jagwar Ma, Hatchie, Metric, Bryan Ferry, Duran Duran, Massive Attack, Arcade Fire, Icehouse, Heaven 17, China Crisis, Immaculate Fools, The Bluebells, ABC, Lightning Seeds, Aztec Camera, Franz Ferdinand, Trashcan Sinatras, The Feeling, Prefab Sprout, Romeo Void, Propaganda, Everything but the Girl, White Lies, Tom Bailey, Spandau Ballet, a-ha, Florence + the Machine, and Sheppard.

Thank you as always, for listening. Next up: Vol IV: More Beats.

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The Karen Mixes, Volume II: The Beast

I made this in early 2019. Karen had invited our crew to stay at a cabin she rented, and I wanted to make the music more personal. The previous year, I played a bunch of old Dizzy Heights shows with my talkie bits cut out, and that was fine because most of them covered the time period we shared together, but I wanted there to be something hand tailored to this group of people, particularly Karen, because she pays for this cabin every year, never asks us for a cent, and refuses to take money when we offer. This seemed like a small price to pay in return.

The first Karen mix was a beat mix. This one is a rock mix. I took two other mixes I had made for her (one classic rock, one alt rock) and threw them together, along with some newer stuff that either fit the vibe or appeased my kids for five seconds. There are dozens of songs from those two mixes that will appear on Volume 5. Wait, did you say Volume 5? Yes, I did. I’ve already made two others before compiling the unused tracks from those two mixes.

Artists include Icehouse, Donnie Iris, The Kinks, The Kings, The Tubes, Kim Mitchell, Honeymoon Suite, David + David, Bourgeois Tagg, Crowded House, The Call, Stabilizers, Art in America, Marillion, Rush, Pete Townshend, Robert Palmer, The War on Drugs, Daft Punk, The System, Simple Minds (twice), The Art of Noise, Electronic, Naked Eyes, Gary Myrick, Cheap Trick, ELO, Tears for Fears, Panic! At the Disco, Queen, Muse, The Producers, INXS, Pete Yorn, The Airborne Toxic Event, Ultravox, Gary Numan, David Bowie, Depeche Mode, The Ting Tings, Alphabeat, The Feeling, Attic Lights, The Divine Comedy, The Stranglers, The Damned, The Republic Tigers, a-ha, New Order, Duran Duran, Sinead O’Connor, Julian Cope, The Stone Roses, Siouxsie & the Banshees, Pet Shop Boys, Erasure, Kirsty MacColl, Twenty One Pilots, and Talk Talk, because Mark Hollis had just passed away when I made this, sigh.

Thank you, as always, for listening. Next Up: Volume III, The Saturday Morning Chill Mix.

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Movie Review: Final Destination 5

After a terribly disappointing fourth installment in the popular teen death series, New Line does the unthinkable by not only making a fifth “Final Destination” but, horrors (see what we did there?), casting old people as the leads. You know, people who are, like, 30, and even some born in the ’70s, ewww. Who wants to see old people die?

As it turns out, it was a very savvy move. “The Final Destination” was in a tough position in that its predecessor ramped up the death scenes’ difficulty factor (Rube Goldberg would have been proud, then probably ashamed) while maintaining self-awareness. “FD4” tried to maintain the planned chaos, but it was undone by bad dialogue, poor acting, and too much foreshadowing. From the very beginning, “Final Destination 5” does two things to separate itself from the previous movie: it casts grown-ups in the lead roles (David Koechner and Courtney B. Vance, holler) and gets serious in a hurry after a premonition on a suspension bridge leads a group of white collar drones to hop off the bus, Gus. Also, there are no bad last lines like “I’ve got my eye on you” (poor, poor Krista Allen), and while a death may be triggered by a chain reaction, the cause of death itself is often something normal (fall, fire). Don’t think they didn’t get creative, though; one of the women suffers a particularly gruesome accident that is impossible not to react to.

They’ve also changed the rules – which is ironic, but for reasons we cannot divulge – when coroner William Blodworth (Tony “Candyman” Todd, returning for a third tour of duty, fourth if you include his voice work in “FD3”) suggests that the survivors can cheat death by killing someone else, a la “The Ring.” It adds an interesting wrinkle, since you get a glimpse of what people are willing to do in order to stay alive. Do not under any circumstances watch the bonus features if you haven’t yet seen the movie, otherwise the big surprise, which is a good one, will be spoiled. Definitely check them out afterwards, though, as you’ll get a glimpse of Koechner adding some of his natural comic flair. A welcome return to form for what was presumed to be a, um, dead franchise.

3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)
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The Karen Mixes, Volume I: Beats

Dizzy Heights is still on hiatus – those shows just seem really unimportant right now – but I wanted to post something, so I’m going to share some mixes I made for my friend Karen, because they’re upbeat and fun, and I figured those were both things we need right now.

This was mixed in 2010, when Karen and I first reconnected after not seeing each other for about seven years. Her house was the most centrally located to all of our high school friends, so she hosted all of the parties, and I brought the tunes. This one is admittedly mainstream, and by design; I wanted the songs to trigger memories and start conversations.

The lineup: INXS, Peter Gabriel, Level 42, New Order, Information Society, Depeche Mode, Camouflage, Julian Cope, ABC, Pet Shop Boys, Dead or Alive, Slade (you read that right), Gino Vannelli (see: Slade), The Cars, Real Life, and Duran Duran.

Next Up: Volume II, The Beast. This will make sense when you see it.

Thank you, as always, for listening. Be kind, and be safe.

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Dizzy Heights #71: Hearts, Vol. I

I have a list (actual piece of paper and everything) that currently features over 20 ideas for shows. This was not on the list. It just popped in my head, and had too much potential to do later. No, this must happen now.

The best thing about these themed shows is that I can spread the wealth musically (though a certain band appears for the fourteenth time), and so nine acts make their Dizzy Heights debut this week. Never thought that would happen three years into this experiment. I thought I would have used everything up by now.

I’m taking a small break after this to work on some non-DH mixes for friends, but I should be back in late April or early May. I highly recommend checking out the following shows while I’m away, and even after I return, obviously.

The Show About…:

Nutty Bearpaws:

Tangled Tapes (I haven’t listened yet, but the shows seem right in my wheelhouse, and hopefully yours):

Thank you, as always, for listening. See you soon.

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Movie Review: Onward

In the 14 years between 1995’s “Toy Story” and 2009’s “Up,” exactly four men had sat in a Pixar director’s chair. Starting with 2010’s “Toy Story 3,” there was a concerted effort to spread the wealth, and founding fathers John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton, and Pete Docter, along with unofficial Pixar brother Brad Bird, only directed one film each over the next decade, while seven others helmed the rest.

This is where a rather disturbing pattern emerges. Of those new directors, the only one to make films on par with Pixar’s best work was Lee Unkrich, who directed “Toy Story 3” and “Coco” (and won Oscars for both) after serving as co-director for Lasseter, Stanton, and Docter, and clearly learning a few things along the way. Remove the films made by Unkrich and the founding fathers, and you’re left with “Brave,” “Monsters University,” “The Good Dinosaur,” “Cars 3,” and “Toy Story 4.” That’s the Pixar movie marathon that runs nonstop on TV in the Medium Place.

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