Presenting my 2014 yulemix, The Yule Analog, compiled with respect and affection for you, the listener.

2014-frontOoooooh, D’Angelo just returned from exile with a surprise album dropped online in the back half of December! Big deal; I too do situps, sometimes, and I too have release a surprise December album. It’s my ninth surprise album in nine consecutive Decembers. Kindly react with due awe.

One thing remains as apparent as ever: I am obsessed with old shit. The Yule Analog – Vol. 9 in my apparently unkillable Yuletunes Eclectic & Inexplicable series, subtitled Cowboy Santa Claus – is imbued with the music and radio and pop culture of the 1940s through the 1970s. The last song I chose – a song I loved the first time I heard it on KCRW in 2001 and then forgot about for years until I heard John Hodgman play it at Aimee Mann’s Christmas show at The Birchmere last night – is just barely from the current century. My mixtape makes a few reluctant sops to the present day, but only a few. I am The Ghost of Christmas Long, Long Past.

Side-B-tape

Particularly the 1960s. I’ve made a mixtape every Christmas since 2006, the year James Brown, of James Brown’s Funky Christmas fame, hit it and quit it forever on Christmas day. The 2009, 20102011, 2012 and 2013 editions all remain available for your streaming, hall-decking, merry-making pleasure. (Vols. 1-3, are all, I’m relieved afraid, out of print.) I know I say this every year, but I really tried hard to keep this one tighter than the last several so that each half would fit on one side of a Maxell XL II High Bias 100-minute cassette. If your computer does not have a tape deck but you would still like to have your own play-anywhere copy, just ask me. Continue reading

It’s a Straight: Poker Night, reviewed.

Beau Mirchoff in "Poker Night."

I don’t know anything about poker, but I gave writer/director Greg Francis’ feature debut Poker Night 2.5 out of a possible five starts for The Dissolve. Which according to this ranking of various hands in poker, makes it the equivalent of a straight.

Sorry about the gross photo. I didn’t have many choices.

Won’t Someone Please Think of the ‘Tweens? The PG-13 at 30.

Amrish Puri rips out the heart of mainstream cinema in 1984's "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom."
To wrap up The Dissolve‘s Movie of the Week examination of Joe Dante’s Gremlins, Keith Phipps asked me to write a reflection on the PG-13, the lukewarm rating introduced in the summer of 1984 in response to the outcry that greeted the PG-rated Gremlins’ violence and darkness, as well as that of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, released two weeks earlier. I was honored to oblige. Continue reading

Suicide Admission: Theater J’s The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide, reviewed.

The cast of John Vreeke's production of Tony Kushner's "The Intelligent Homosexual's Guide..." for Theater J.
My review of Theater J’s production of Tony Kusher’s latest play, (deep breath) The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures, is in today’s Washington City Paper, just in case your own family’s arguments aren’t sufficiently academic and orotund and insufferable enough for you. Good performances, though. Happy Thanksgiving.

Tradition Accomplished: Arena Stage’s Fiddler on the Roof, reviewed.

Hannah Corneau as Hodel & Jonathan Hadary as Tevye in Arena's "Fiddler." (Margot Schulman)

My review of Molly Smith’s reverent, just-the-facts-Ma’am Fiddler on the Roof – my first – is in today’s Washington City Paper.

Hannah Corneau as Hodel & Jonathan Hadary as Tevye in Arena’s Fiddler on the Roof. Photo by Margot Schulman.

Every Day I Write the Book: Reach Me, reviewed.

Kevin Connolly and Tom Berenger in John Herzfeld's "Reach Me."

It’s no Jack Reacher, this star-studded, tone-deaf ensemble drama. Reviewed for The Dissolve.

On Around Town, talking Sex with Strangers, Julius Caesar, and How We Got On

For more on how abysmal I am at looking into a camera and smiling when someone says my name, we take you now to the studios of WETA, where I was pleased to join Around Town host Robert Aubry Davis and Washington Post arts writer Jane Horwitz last week for very brief discussions of three shows I recently reviewed for the Washington City Paper, starting with my favorite of 2014, Signature Theatre’s production of Laura Eason‘s Sex with Strangers.

Continue reading