My Friends Call Me Tex Cobb: a Personal Contemplation of Bravery and Loyalty

Someone who knows me as well as anyone in the world–someone I’ve known since the playground–once told me he didn’t think I was someone who “had his back.” In a difficult time, I was not a guy he would turn to for help. The context of his comments is forgotten. Maybe it was just a mean thing someone says during an argument to get the last word. Maybe he was recalling a specific incident when he said it, although I can’t imagine what.  The comments hit me like a jab to the temple.  I believe this guy would always have my back. Whatever the context, when someone says something like that, you have to soul-search, you have to contemplate who you really are. Are you brave?  Loyal?  If a friend is in need, are you there? Here’s another thing the same guy said, although not to me. He said it to an… Read More…

Yucking Up “The Walking Dead” to a Few More Emmys: Comic Tips from Three Great Dramas–“Justified,” “The Wire,” and “Breaking Bad”

Granted it’s a zombie apocalypse; granted it’s exhausting peeking around every corner; granted Atlanta in the summer without air-conditioning is brutal.  But come on, let’s have a little levity. There’s a fine line between tragedy and comedy.  Shakespeare knew this as he preceded the haunted and soon to be hysterical Hamlet in the graveyard with a pun-contest with a local gravedigger.  Even Mercutio, after he was stabbed, found time to squeeze out a groaner:  “Ask for me tomorrow and you shall find me a grave man.” And what works for the Bard, certainly bears true for three of my favorite dramas. Justified (FX) In Justified, Timothy Oliphant is sentenced to his home town of Kentucky after going all Dirty Harry in the opening scene of the opening episode.  He is forced to not only deal with his childhood buddy and current supremacist outlaw Boyd Crowder, the most verbose, eloquent, polite and delightful psychopath… Read More…

Unintentional Vanity Plate: Revenge of the DMV Gods on a New Ass-Man

I’ve always chuckled at people who order vanity plates, but secretly wanted one since I watched an episode of “Dallas” and saw JR pull up in in his Mercedes proclaiming to the world that “EWING 3” had arrived. But like the cell phone and personalized M&Ms, vanity plates no longer require great wealth or vast oil-connections in the Texas legislature.  States realized the extra windfall and for $10 more, even without a genie, you too can be Larry Hagman. But I was always too cheap, too lazy to think far enough ahead or, I suspect to be the main reason, too self-conscious.  I didn’t have the nerve of one Dr. Kosmo Kramer… But the DMV gods have a sense of humor and decided to take their vengeance upon one silly mortal foolish enough to post a picture to Facebook while making a joke about Limbo. Saturday mornings aren’t the best… Read More…

Hollywood’s Spring Training – Saturday’s 46th Michigan Student Film Festival (Great Seats Still Available–and They’re Free!)

Two events, besides roller coasters,  when people don’t mind long lines:  movies and sporting events.  People will drive 24 hours through the night to get a glimpse… Spring training.  Your team’s undefeated… There’s sunshine, plenty of seats available, a great overall vibe… And it’s the only time you can get close enough to some celebrities–some even before they’re famous. But you can save yourself the long drive down I-75, the sunblock and even the price of admission–and do a lot to encourage some future filmmakers as well. In the world of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), there are many who want STEAM instead–remembering the important “A” for arts.  And this Saturday just down Woodward Avenue, you can see STEAM in at its very best. The 46th annual Michigan Student Film Festival takes place from 10 AM to 2 PM at the Detroit Film Theatre inside the Detroit Institute of… Read More…

Old Passions in New Hands: The Ausmus-Abrams Effect on the Tigers and Star Wars

Opening Day has always been much more than the start of a new baseball season. For the players and teams, it marks a new opportunity. For some, it is a chance to put physical or statistical shortcomings behind them. For others, it’s finding someway to harness past success and release it in time for a brand new campaign. And for many, it’s the first taste of playing in front of the tall buildings. From the fan perspective, Opening Day is a celebration of the past, and a time to party and look towards the possibilities of the future. Who will surprise? Who will disappoint? Is our team destined for play in October? Here in Detroit, I don’t think there’s been a more intriguing Opening Day than this year’s in 2014. Considering what Jim Leyland did here in his eight seasons of managing and considering what he didn’t accomplish, Brad Ausmus… Read More…

For Those Who Don’t Speak Spy: The Case for “World is Not Enough”

Chanukah 2000 was a pivotal moment in my life. One of those fulcrums in the space-time continuum. I remember it vividly. My family was in Memphis, Tennessee visiting my cousin. The trip marked my first time in Memphis, which would spark an interest and appreciation for the blues and Elvis Presley that would stretch well into later years; motivating more trips to the heart of the mid-South and grizzly versions of “Heartbreak Hotel” at karaoke bars across the nation. In addition to those very cultural pillars established that Chanukah, I received two gifts that would mold my childhood and shape much of my adolescence and adulthood. We don’t really do gifts anymore on Chanukah, and I appreciate that, because that’s not what the holiday is about, but as a kid, I would not complain, for Chanukah in 1998 I received two video games for my then-brand-new N64. The first was… Read More…

New Podcast: The Oscar Post-Op Show Starring Kim Novak, John Travolta and at Least One Mispronounced Celebrity

  Kevin Walsh is joined by Sheri Horwitz, Aaron Lebovic and Collin Ward as they dissect the  2014 Oscars, including… Our Panel’s Prediction-Accuracy (and those pesky costume awards), Cringeworthy Moments:  Kim Novak’s Vertigo, Travolta’s stumblings, etc., The Big Surprises:  Shutout for Hustle, What Should Be Cut:  Montages of Heroes, what? Ellen:  Too-low key and casual–or just right?

So I Didn’t See ‘Em All: Some Oscar Predictions Anyway

Welcome our newest contributor, Steve Palizzi!  You can also hear our podcast with Oscar predictions… And for our dissection after the Oscars, Sheri rejoins us along with Aaron Lebovic and Collin Ward… I have a confession. I haven’t seen all the movie in all the categories.  I haven’t even seen all the movies nominated for Best Picture. Am I embarrassed? Not really. I figure I’m no different from most of the American public who are making predictions, and I’m certainly no different from most of the voting members. Heck, I won the Detroit Free Press Oscar Derby a number of years ago with limited viewing exposure.  If you can forgive me for these transgressions, then read on. Best Picture:  I loved Gravity.  I found it suspenseful, thrilling, creative, and visually stunning.  Surprisingly, I willingly paid an extra $2 to see it in 3D, and I’m glad I did. Throughout the movie,… Read More…

Watch a REAL Love Story this Valentine’s Day: “Cut me, Mick!”

There is some sort of holiday this Friday, I’m told. And in an attempt to get some views on my blog for writing something topical, I’m gonna weigh in on Hallmark’s most polarizing holiday. I could use this opportunity to whine about 23 years of lonely 14ths of February, but I don’t need to go all Anakin Skywalker on you, because that’s on me, not you. What I can do for you, though, is make a suggestion on what to watch, for, no doubt, you are likely fiddling around right now trying to figure out what you’re going to do on Valentine’s Day with your spouse or boyfriend/girlfriend or that cutie that sits next to you in your Arts and Humanities class or, that bottle of wine or that fifth of whiskey that you’ve been saving for a special night alone. Many of you will pick a festive movie to… Read More…

Hollywood with a Heart: “Brightest Star” Producer Gives Unforgettable Gift to High School Students

Listen to our podcast with Jason… I was just giving him a call, being the nosy person that I can be… “How’s your movie coming along?” Former student and current producer, Jason Potash, was in New York prepping for the film Brightest Star which opens on January 31st. “Great!” he answered, ever positive. “How’s the family?” ever quick to shift the spotlight back to someone else. “Wish I could bring my class,” I joked. “It’d be a great field trip!” “Why not?” “Ha!” “No really. We’ve got a few college lecture hall scenes and we need extras.” Less than a month later with the help of a wonderful travel agent (and high school classmate), Jeff, combined with the trusting support of a principal and many parents, we flew out of Detroit–sixteen students and four other chaperons. The shoot took a full Sunday and the students had to bring four changes… Read More…

Golden Globes & 2013 Film Trends: What Will Be the Next “Shawshank”?

Listen to our second podcast, a further discussion of the 2013 Movie Year-in-Review with contributing writer, Kale Davidoff.  Readers also submitted questions for this section.  Click here for more of our podcasts. I know I’ll remember Christian Bale’s terrible hairpiece years longer than Sandra Bullock dodging space debris. Amy Poehler and Tina Fey will remind us, once again, why everyone secretly likes the Golden Globes better. The stars are all having fun. They’re at tables with drinks–there’s not nearly the pressure that falls on Oscar night. It’s more like the PSATs. And when a movie or show wins, everyone gets to run onto the stage–not just Harvey Weinstein who wrote the check. But the Oscars are the Life cereal to the Globe’s Lucky Charms. They honor “films” not “movies.” They’re the popcorn you’re supposed to get at the box office these days, with the natural olive oil and sea salt… Read More…

Support the Next Spielberg: The Michigan Student Film Festival and Joining DAFT

Support the Michigan Student Film Festival by December 31st to be eligible for a 2013 deduction by clicking here. Not a bad vibe.  A room full of students who had just been honored at the 45th Michigan Student Film Festival talking with a past winner, soon to be premiering Pixar’s latest hit, Monsters University. In May, Dan Scanlon, of Clawson High School, flew in from Hollywood  carrying with him a special showing of Monsters University–nearly a month before its release.  Pixar allows its directors to select a charity for a special screening benefit and Dan selected three non-profits:  the Assistance League, Friends of Detroit Film Theatre and Digital Arts – Film & Television (DAFT). Mr. Scanlon was only nine when DAFT first recognized his gifts of storytelling and animation.  Julie Hinds of the Detroit Free Press noted: DAFT board member John Prusak, an award-winning cinematographer, was one of Scanlon’s early… Read More…

Walt, Jim and George: The Wonder of Storytelling

I just saw “Saving Mr. Banks”. To my surprise, it was nothing like “Saving Private Ryan”. Regardless, it was a good flick. Without spoiling much, Walt Disney ends up convincing writer P.L. Travers to hand over the rights to her beloved “Mary Poppins”. Throughout the film, Ms. Travers struggles in letting her characters go to be turned into a typical, jolly, Disney musical filled with laughter, joy, cheer, redemption—all of the things that Ms. Travers knows all too well rarely find their way into the truths of the world. There is a line in the film, where Ms. Travers is told that Dick Van Dyke, “one of the greats”, will be playing the character of Bert. Her response is that of pretentious laughter as she tells her silly American counterparts that Laurence Olivier and Alec Guinness are the greats, not slap-stick-happy Dick Van Dyke. At which point, I wanted to… Read More…

Fortune OR Glory: The Case for “Temple of Doom”

This past Wednesday was Steven Spielberg’s birthday. I’m not gonna go on here and ramble about how this gentleman has affected my life, because I think that, for any aspiring filmmaker, that need not be explained. The guy turned 67. Sixty-seven! Yet, I stop myself from calling him old, because to have that kind of body of work at 67 is just ridiculous, even for Steven Spielberg; the kind of body of work that makes 67 continue to feel like 27. I guess a sizable bank account helps, too. As a birthday gift to Mr. Spielberg, I thought I’d write a piece defending one of his most divisive of films: “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom”. This is one of those films that the internet likes to tear apart. The General Internet Consensus (GIC) tends to be: “Temple of Doom” is a weak film with silly, non-believable action sequences,… Read More…

Corinthian Leather: A Fond, Gas-Guzzling Reminiscence of Shag-Luxury

It’s funny what passes for luxury when you’re a kid. In 1973, we visited my Uncle Bob and his family in Winter Haven, Florida and I couldn’t believe they had a fountain in their backyard.  Along with so many in-ground pools, lizards running all over the yards was added the magic of my grandma’s mobile home park three miles away where they actually had adult bikes with three wheels! Moving into our new house that same summer, I was amazed to see that each of the kids’ rooms had its own color scheme of shag carpeting—pink, green, orange and yellow.  My parents’ room was a deep blue shag and the family room was a tasteful blend of all of the colors listed above. But what made me know we had really arrived was the plastic rake that the previous owners had left behind to tend the fluorescent blades of carpeting…. Read More…

Rating People Like Movies? Using a Metascore for Your Neighbor and Spouse

In the land of The Newsroom‘s Aaron Sorkin, everything ends up as it should be–Karma works and Yins and Yangs co-exist happily.  (For example, the Obamacare websites would be working on day one.)  In Sorkin’s final scene in The Social Network he portrays the Facebook founder as a miserable billionaire with no friends, cyber stalking his ex-girlfriend who started the whole ball a-rollin’–all to the Beatle’s tune, “Baby You’re a Rich Man.” But unfortunately for us, Zuckerberg’s not really that sad and Martin Sheen isn’t in charge of the Affordable Health Care Act.  Hollywood isn’t real–but maybe a piece of Hollywood could be real–the Metascore. Bloodsuckers in Washington?  Who Knew? I’d finally caved and started a Netflix viewing of the terribly bad, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.   “Now that’s a mistake,” I complained.  “The White House didn’t have that second floor porch until Truman was president.” “They also didn’t have vampires,”… Read More…

Former Students, Facebook Afterlife and Heartwarming Gore with “Deadheads”

It’s not every zombie film that you can share with a12 year-old daughter and 80 year-old mother in-law and have them exclaim they loved it.  Until Facebook, every June was like a funeral.  The likelihood that I would ever see or hear from the 300 or so graduating seniors was small–aside from an occasional homecoming game or trip to the mall.  But I finally dropped down the Facebook rabbit-hole and discovered what these folks had done with their lives.  Some might even meet up for a beer–if it wasn’t too awkward for the  41 year-old father of four to meet with his 46 year-old teacher–even if dropping the “Mr.” was too much to ask. They are dentists, funeral directors, roadies, teachers, doctors, store-owners and a few had found their way to Hollywood in various capacities.  Dan Casey, a 2000 graduate is a screenwriter and attended the Sundance Writer’s Workshop after… Read More…

An Important Halloween “Thriller”: From Music Videos to Music Films

It’s Halloween again, so it’s time to watch it: But, watch. I mean, really sit down and experience it all. Turn on that 480p, shut off the lights, grab a bag of popcorn and if you’re lucky enough to have a significant other, grab him or her too, sit down, and watch “Michael Jackson’s Thriller”. It’s one of the most incredible short films ever created, and its impact on pop culture can never be overstated. We view it every Halloween because it puts air in our tires. It gets us excited for horror films and candy and costumes and–dancing. But before it became a Halloween staple, it was the production that changed music videos and television and the role of the pop superstar forever. As scary as “War of the Worlds” was to radio. As landmark as the Kennedy-Nixon debate was to televised news. As big as “Star Wars” was… Read More…

5 Great Horror Movies You’ve Never Heard Of – Mungo Scared!

It’s that time of year. Halloween is just around the cor—well, down the hall a bit. It’s time to connect with the true spirit of the holiday, which like all holidays, has been corrupted by outside influences…like Christmas was before people muddied it with a religious message. Halloween is not about costume parties and candy; it’s about turning off your lights, putting in a movie and having the wits scared out of you. Horror movies as a genre can be frustrating. Edgar Allen Poe was able to combine the dark, nightmarish ideas of comic books with high art. This combination allowed one young boy in particular (who thought he was an intellectual) to indulge his dark fantasy sensibility with the pretense that he was engaging his own artistic muse.  My years of self-discovery have revealed that I can no more argue Poe’s symbolism than I can conjugate Chinese verbs, but… Read More…

Thanking Two Men I’d Forgotten to Thank 30 Years Ago: Mr. Denstaedt and Mr. Wentz

After attending 25 years of high school graduation ceremonies, it finally dawned on me as I sat in my robe and was thanked by grateful students and their parents–I really didn’t deserve such nice seats. Compared, to the folks who were really responsible for the pomp and circumstance, my hourly contribution was minimal.  Elementary teachers put in the long hours and are stuck with the kids all day long.  Middle school teachers are fighting the two-headed dragon of hormones and immaturity in a short, nasty body that hasn’t often developed a soul yet. Within two days, Clawson lost two of its icons–John Denstaedt and Bill Wentz.  Both of them were outstanding educators and mourned by thousands.  Yet when I walked across the stage and grabbed my diploma in 1983 they weren’t there–or if they were, I wasn’t even looking for them.  I had moved on.  Clawson High School and Junior… Read More…