Five David Bowie Classics That Bombed In America

Five years.  That’s how long it took David Bowie to get his first Top 40 hit in the UK.  In America, it took eleven.  Even after he established himself as a different kind of rock star, one who was more than willing to play around with gender identity and bisexuality, it wasn’t always so easy to win over mainstream US audiences.

But in the many decades since his dangerous, controversial 70s heyday, Bowie has since won the long game.  A good number of singles & albums that didn’t sell, that didn’t receive much critical respect or both upon their initial releases are now considered bonafide classics, definitive audio documents of the shapeshifting performer at his absolute best.  Without them, bands like Nine Inch Nails and The Smashing Pumpkins would’ve had to find their inspiration elsewhere.

While memorable singles like Fame & Let’s Dance managed to win serious raves from fans & critics alike in their respective eras (and remain beloved today), numerous others were rejected & ignored for reasons long forgotten and discredited, only to become enormous cult hits decades after their debuts.  Here are five such examples:

1. Space Oddity

It was the only track producer Tony Visconti didn’t want to produce for Man Of Words/Man Of Music, Bowie’s second solo album.  On a record filled with acoustic folk songs, the weird, melancholic tale of a depressed astronaut looking to escape his home planet’s troubles felt a bit too gimmicky for Visconti who let his engineer Gus Dudgeon oversee the recording.

Strategically timed to coincide with the Apollo 11 moon mission in the summer of 1969, a four and a half minute edit became a Top 5 smash in the UK thanks to its use in a TV commercial and, eventually, through constant airplay on the BBC.

Bowie had no such luck with the song in the US.  A three and a half minute version of Space Oddity peaked at #124.  That’s right.  It didn’t even make the Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart.

In 1975, three years after the Man Of Words/Man Of Music album was rereleased as Space Oddity, the five minute and five second version of the song (the full version is 10 seconds longer) was released as a single in America.  This time, it cracked the Top 20.

2. Changes

Today, like Space Oddity, this Hunky Dory standout is ubiquitous, popping up in movies, on TV and, of course, the radio.  But when it was first issued as a single in early 1972, it was a much tougher sell.

Much softer and orchestral than the more hard rocking antics of The Who, The Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin, it stood no chance of gaining a foothold in the UK.  Indeed, Changes didn’t even chart in Bowie’s home country during its first release.

However, unlike Space Oddity, it did at least hit the Billboard Hot 100 in the US.  Unfortunately, it peaked at a disappointing 66, a total flop.  Three years later, Changes was re-released.  How well did it do the second time around?  It got up to #41 on Billboard.  Despite greater visibility, one of Bowie’s most highly regarded songs of all time still couldn’t crack the Top 40.

In 2015, Changes got yet another release on vinyl for this year’s Record Store Day.  This time, it was a number one seller.

3. “Heroes”

It has been covered by The Wallflowers, Oasis, Blondie, Nico, TV On The Radio, Tangerine Dream, Peter Gabriel and, believe it or not, Jessica Lange, among many others.  Bowie sang it to much acclaim at Live Aid in 1985, at The Concert For New York City after the 9/11 attacks in 2001 and during countless other concerts throughout his career.

But when “Heroes” debuted in shortened form in 1977, it only reached #24 in Britain.  In America, the three and a half minute classic didn’t even chart on the Billboard Hot 100.  (The superior full album version is just over six minutes.)  Not even a performance of the song by Bowie on Bing Crosby’s final Christmas special that year could help improve its prospects in the States.

In the decades since, however, as Bowie’s late 70s material was being reassessed in a more positive light, “Heroes” (both the song and the album) started to grow in stature.  Musicians like Moby, Depeche Mode’s Dave Gahan (who joined the band after singing the song in an audition) and Trent Reznor each acknowledged its importance and influence on their own careers.  And now, thanks to its inclusion in numerous movies, TV shows and commercials, it is everywhere.

4. Ashes To Ashes

1980 was a tumultuous year for Bowie.  He began divorce proceedings against first wife Angela and released his final album for RCA (which ultimately led to another painful parting of the ways).  Perhaps feeling a bit nostalgic or maybe wanting closure after a decade of intense fame, he conceived a sequel to his first major hit.

Fittingly titled Ashes To Ashes, it either continues the story of long lost astronaut Major Tom or is a cleverly disguised allegory of Bowie’s private personal struggles with his career, the end of his marriage and his addictions.  Regardless, it was a monster success in Britain where it topped the singles chart.  After puzzling most fans and critics with his experiments in Germanic electronica at the end of the 1970s, Bowie began the 1980s with his greatest commercial and critical triumph since Station To Station.

But in America, Ashes To Ashes failed to even crack the Billboard Hot 100.  In fact, it peaked at #101.  Thanks to the debut of MTV the following year, however, the brilliant video for the song was put into high rotation, which instantly made up for its lack of support on Top 40 radio.

5. Peace On Earth/Little Drummer Boy

“I hate this song.  Is there something else I could sing?”

Bowie didn’t want to do Little Drummer Boy with Bing Crosby while taping the latter’s Merrie Olde Christmas special in the summer of 1977.  So, a compromise was made.  Both men would sing the first verse, then while Crosby carried on with Drummer Boy, Bowie would sing a new song called Peace On Earth, a track written very quickly by Crosby’s hired songwriters.

The result is the greatest modern Christmas song of all time.  After the special aired in late 1977, the song was bootlegged for five years until RCA decided to officially release it as a single in 1982.  It was the last straw for Bowie who apparently wasn’t notified of this decision.  He would never record for the label again.

During its first UK release, Peace On Earth/Little Drummer Boy was a smash, climbing all the way up to #3.  This version included audio from the special beginning with Crosby letting Bowie into his house and them bantering about family before launching into the track.

The US version eliminated the pre-song banter altogether.  Including it probably wouldn’t have helped its commercial prospects anyway.  The song didn’t even make the Billboard Hot 100.

Over time, however, Peace On Earth/Little Drummer Boy would be dusted off every subsequent Christmas where it grew in popularity and prominence, a welcome tradition that will likely continue indefinitely.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Friday, April 24, 2015
5:05 p.m.

Published in: on April 24, 2015 at 5:05 pm  Leave a Comment  

12 Singles Disappointingly Omitted From David Bowie’s Nothing Has Changed

How do you sum up a 50-year recording career in a single release?  Well, if you’re David Bowie, you cram as many hit songs as you can fit onto three CDs.  That’s what happened last November when his ironically titled Nothing Has Changed debuted.

It’s not the first collection of famous Bowie songs but it is by far the most expansive.  All 59 tracks were released between the years 1964 and 2014.  Never before has a Bowie hits compilation featured material before 1969 and after 2002.

But, despite an admirable effort to represent as many eras as possible in a single compilation, it was inevitable that other equally worthy tracks would not make the cut.  Honestly, you could easily fill another 3 CDs with just the singles that were excluded.

Rather than listing all those missing songs, many of which can be found on earlier greatest hits albums, I just want to focus on 12 that really should’ve been added to Nothing Has Changed.  Matching the spirit of its extensive track listing, I present them in reverse chronological order:

1. The Pretty Things Are Going To Hell (Single Edit)

There were four singles issued from the Hours… album in 1999 & 2000, a surprising three of which (Thursday’s Child, Seven, Survive) ended up on disc one of Nothing Has Changed.  Disappointingly excluded was this Stooges-inspired rocker that has never been on a Bowie greatest hits package.  God knows there were numerous versions to choose from (including a couple from the awful Patricia Arquette horror film Stigmata) but I would’ve been perfectly happy with the four-minute single edit from Hours… It’s definitely preferable to the underwhelming Seven & Survive.

2. Dead Man Walking (Single Edit)

Little Wonder and the Trent Reznor remix of I’m Afraid Of Americans represent the underrated Earthling from 1997.  I would’ve added one more:  Dead Man Walking, Bowie’s frenetic jungle tribute to his old friends and collaborators Iggy Pop and Lou Reed.  Like The Pretty Things Are Going To Hell, it’s never been included on a Bowie collection.  The full album version is an epic seven minutes so the four-minute single edit would’ve been just fine on Nothing Has Changed.

3. Real Cool World

Bowie’s first original solo single of the 1990s was written & recorded for the terrible Ralph Bakshi live action/animation hybrid Cool World (which featured a very young Brad Pitt and a cartoon Kim Basinger).  Aside from appearing on the soundtrack and as a stand alone CD single, its only appearance on a Bowie release happened in 2003 when it was added to the list of bonus tracks found on disc two of the 10th Anniversary edition of Black Tie White Noise.  Considering the fact that it reignited Bowie’s solo career after his short stint fronting Tin Machine (which is completely ignored on Nothing Has Changed) it would’ve been nice to have it along with all these other hits.

4. Never Let Me Down

Bowie’s tribute to his longtime assistant was his last Top 40 success in America.  Rarely included in hits packages, it was passed over for The Best Of David Bowie 1980-1987 while Day In, Day Out & Time Will Crawl made the cut.  The iSelect remix of Time Will Crawl is the only representative of the unloved Never Let Me Down album to make the Nothing Has Changed collection.  Considering the commercial significance of Never Let Me Down, the title track shouldn’t have been passed over here.

5. DJ (Single Edit)

Probably due to space considerations, Bowie’s fertile, deeply influential late 70s experimentalism is limited to three songs from three albums at the end of disc two on Nothing Has Changed:  Sound & Vision (from Low), the single edit of Heroes (from the album of the same name) and Boys Keep Swinging (from Lodger).  Most of the other singles from these seminal discs were collected on The Best Of David Bowie 1974-1979 including the full version of DJ from Lodger.  But the single edit of that song rarely appears on a Bowie compilation.  In the vinyl era, it was a part of ChangesTwoBowie in 1981.  22 years later, it was on Bowie The Singles Collection 1969-1993, the double-CD Rykodisc collection.  As far as Nothing Has Changed is concerned it should’ve been a part of disc two.

6. Peace On Earth/Little Drummer Boy (w/ Bing Crosby)

It is the greatest modern Christmas song of all time and yet, curiously, it has only been on one past Bowie hits collection:  the aforementioned Rykodisc release, Bowie The Singles Collection 1969-1993, but only in a limited sense.  It was included as a bonus on just the first 40000 copies.  Yes, it is available as a CD single and is on countless Christmas compilations but if Under Pressure, Bowie’s much loved collaboration with Queen, can make the cut, why not this classic, as well?

7. TVC15 (Single Edit)

Station To Station is ably represented by the single version of Golden Years and the excellent 2010 mix of Wild Is The Wind on Nothing Has Changed.  But it would’ve been great to have TVC15 here, as well.  Supposedly inspired by one of Iggy Pop’s girlfriends getting eaten by a Television while high on something, it was a pivotal single for Bowie who was transitioning at the time from R&B soul music to European electronica.  Although the single edit was previously included on The Best Of David Bowie 1974-1979, its exclusion from Nothing Has Changed is still disappointing.  If it was up to me, I would’ve made room for it.

8. Fame (Single Edit)

Everybody knows the story about Bowie’s first number one in America.  It arose out of a conversation with John Lennon about the nature of celebrity and quickly developed into a last-minute addition to Young Americans.  Everybody knows the full album version which was released as a single in Britain and has been on almost every Bowie hits collection including Nothing Has Changed.  But few today have heard the American single edit which trimmed 45 seconds off the album version (and served as the template for the 1990 single remix).  It was this three and a half minute mix that topped the Billboard Hot 100 40 years ago.  After previously appearing on ChangesOneBowie and K-Tel’s Best Of Bowie, both vinyl releases, it has only made one appearance on CD.  You can find it on disc five of the Have A Nice Decade box set.  Not having this rare, shorter version of Fame on Nothing Has Changed is a hugely missed opportunity.

9. Time (Single Edit)

Pianist Mike Garson played a major role on the Aladdin Sane album with his endlessly spirited tinkling, most especially on one particularly cheeky track.  While The Jean Genie & Drive-In Saturday are on disc three of Nothing Has Changed there was no love for the aforementioned Time.  It was sadly left off the collection.  Famous for its drug references and brief mention of “wanking”, it’s something of a forgotten single.  The 7″ version is about 90 seconds shorter than the album cut and has never appeared on a Bowie hits release.  In fact, the only time the three and a half minute single ever appeared on CD was as a bonus cut on disc two of the 30th Anniversary edition of Aladdin Sane which was released in 2003.  It would’ve been a welcome surprise on Nothing Has Changed.

10. Suffragette City

One of the most famous songs from the Ziggy Stardust album was shockingly rejected for Nothing Has Changed.  The title cut is here.  So is the original single mix of Starman (Bowie’s second big hit in Britain) and album track Moonage Daydream.  But no Suffragette City.  Yes, it’s on so many past Bowie hits collections but quite frankly, it should’ve been included on Nothing Has Changed, as well.  It’s one of his most significant songs.

11. Holy Holy (original 1970 single)

According to Wikipedia, there are 110 official Bowie singles.  Only one has never been released on CD:  the original Holy Holy.  In 1970, besides releasing The Man Who Sold The World album, Bowie issued two non-album singles.  The original version of The Prettiest Star (which features T. Rex frontman Marc Bolan on guitar) has since been a part of the Sound + Vision box set and The Best Of David Bowie 1969-1974.  But Holy Holy was only released once as a 45.  When Rykodisc were compiling bonus tracks for the 1990 reissue of The Man Who Sold The World they were hoping to include it.  Unfortunately, according to Wikipedia, Bowie wouldn’t allow it.  Instead, they added the re-recorded, faster version which was rejected for Ziggy Stardust (it’s also on the bonus disc of the 30th Anniversary edition of Ziggy) and later became the B-Side to Diamond Dogs.  How awesome would it have been to include the original three-minute version on Nothing Has Changed?  Talk about a blown historic moment.

12. The Laughing Gnome

Two years before he would hit it big with Space Oddity, a desperate young Bowie thought this novelty number was his ticket to fame.  It wasn’t.  But six years later, at the height of Ziggy mania in 1973, it was reissued and, much to his utter embarrassment, became a Top 10 hit in the UK.  Clearly, it had no chance of making Nothing Has Changed.  Bowie is not exactly proud of the song.  That said, why couldn’t he have a sense of humour about the whole thing and just put it in the collection anyway?  Oh well.  For those who’ve never experienced The Laughing Gnome, the good news is you can find it on the 2010 reissue of the first David Bowie album.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Wednesday, April 22, 2015
1:57 a.m.

Published in: on April 22, 2015 at 1:57 am  Leave a Comment  

An Unreasonable Man

He lives his life well below his means
Reluctant to part with invaluable treasures
As the family expands he feels false comfort
Letting them all go would end his life’s work

They’re replacements for those who think and feel
No critics, no judgments, no sorrow, no pain
He can traverse these worlds & always feel welcome
There are no shortage of journeys to take

He’s been like this for so many years
Avoiding reality is his daily routine
He’s found such pleasure in his solitary space
Removing the need to connect with others

He’s careful not to step on the landmines of memory
Just one would explode his past rage into focus
So he steers the ship around these old dangers
And sails away in blissful ignorance

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Wednesday, April 15, 2015
3:52 p.m.

Published in: on April 15, 2015 at 3:52 pm  Leave a Comment  

A Tribute To AJ Lee

Unlike most of the women who have worked for the current World Wrestling Entertainment, April Jeanette Mendez grew up a genuine wrestling fan.  Born in New Jersey in the late 1980s, it was her brother who got her hooked during the Attitude Era.  While still a teen she met one of her favourites, Lita, at an autograph signing, an encounter that resulted in tears (and can be seen on YouTube).

Growing up in the Garden State certainly wasn’t easy.  The Mendez family barely scraped by.  Despite enrolling in NYU to study film & TV, Mendez had to drop out after only six months of study.

Thankfully, with a wrestling school very close to where she was living in 2007, it was possible to get the training she needed to start getting booked.  She paid her own way through a full-time job.

After working the indies for two years as Miss April, she attracted the attention of the WWE who signed her to a developmental deal.  Briefly known as April Lee, she ultimately became AJ Lee.

When the WWE ended its relationship with Florida Championship Wrestling (where Lee became the first performer to win both female singles titles), Lee participated in the third season of NXT, back when it was a pseudo-reality competition series.  Making it as far as the final three, she would ultimately team with the winner, Kaitlyn, to form The Chickbusters.  They collectively debuted in 2011 on Smackdown.

Four years later, Lee has now officially retired from the WWE.  Having quietly married former WWE Champion CM Punk last year, the announcement isn’t terribly surprising.  In fact, it seemed inevitable.

While it’s not yet clear what her actual reasons are to walk away at this point in her career there’s no better time than now to reflect on how important she was to professional wrestling generally & the WWE specifically.

One of the smartest things the company did in the last decade was pair Lee with Daniel Bryan.  It all started with a quick backstage TV segment.  Lee expressed a romantic interest in Bryan and was soon inseparable from the man as he would go on to become a surprise Money In The Bank winner in the summer of 2011.  As The Big Show feuded with Mark Henry over the World Heavyweight Championship, Bryan was the X Factor thrown into the mix.  When would he cash in?

After Show pinned Henry at TLC that December to take the title, The World’s Strongest Man annihilated The World’s Largest Athlete in the aftermath, leaving him very vulnerable in the middle of the ring.  An opportunistic Bryan made the most of that vulnerability, cashing in his briefcase and ending Show’s incredibly brief title reign.

Meanwhile, the new champion’s attitude toward Lee changed dramatically.  Channelling mid-80s Randy Savage, he started treating his on-screen gal pal like crap.  Lee played the doting, loyal, innocent sweetheart so perfectly, not only did it create genuine sympathy for her, it generated tremendous heat for Bryan, who had just started doing an obnoxious “Yes!” chant whenever he made his way to the ring.

At WrestleMania 28, Bryan insisted on getting a good luck kiss from Lee before facing Sheamus, the 2012 Royal Rumble winner, for the World Heavyweight Championship.  As soon as he turned around, The Celtic Warrior brogue kicked him out of the title.

Shortly thereafter on Smackdown, Bryan blamed Lee for the loss and dumped her, setting in motion the brilliant character change that would later see her become the longest reigning Divas Champion in history.

In the spring of 2012, with CM Punk now the WWE Champion & Bryan the number one contender, Lee flirted, kissed, smacked & mentally tormented both men throughout their three-month feud for the strap.  When Kane was added to the program, Lee made the moves on him, as well.

Her actions kept everyone wondering about her motives.  That led to her guest refereeing some of the Punk/Bryan WWE title match at Money In The Bank that year.  (At one point, she took a bump and was briefly replaced by another ref before returning to finish the match.)

In the build-up to the pay-per-view, Bryan was paranoid that because he kept rebuffing Lee’s stubborn efforts to resuscitate their dead relationship she would not be impartial.  At one point, Lee even proposed to Punk.  He turned her down (talk about ironic).  For his part, Bryan proposed to Lee and even though she accepted the second time, it would come back to bite the Yes Man right in the ass.

During their wedding on the 1000th episode of Raw, Lee got her revenge by refusing to marry Bryan right in the middle of the ceremony.  Furthermore, Vince McMahon came out to announce she was the new General Manager for Raw, a gig that didn’t last very long.

Speaking of that, another wrestler who owes Lee a debt of gratitude is Dolph Ziggler, the 2012 Smackdown Money In The Bank winner.  As The Show-Off began a feud with John Cena, once again Lee played a central role.  As Ziggler’s former advocate Vicki Guerrero accused the Raw General Manager of hanky panky with Cena (extremely hypocritical considering her own on-screen history with Edge), Lee would ultimately lose her GM gig because of it.

During a great backstage TV segment, Lee made a play for Ziggler who coldly dismissed her by saying, “Face it, AJ.  You’re just trash.”  She reacted with a flurry of punches.  (Curiously, she would use the exact same line on former tag team partner Kaitlyn as they feuded over the Divas title.)

In the end, it was all a ruse.  During a ladder match at TLC 2012 with Ziggler’s MITB suitcase up for grabs, AJ screwed Cena allowing The Show-Off to retain his future WHC title opportunity.  Ziggler didn’t think she was trash after all.  In fact, they couldn’t keep their hands off each other for the next six months.

The night after WrestleMania 29, Lee was there when Ziggler finally cashed in and defeated a hobbled Alberto Del Rio to win the WHC in an electrifying match on Monday Night Raw.  Two months later, Lee would win her first Divas Championship against Kaitlyn at Payback in June, one of the stronger female feuds in recent years.  She would ultimately have a falling out with Ziggler, though, shortly after he lost the WHC back to Del Rio at the same show.

Nearly 300 days later during the first Raw after WrestleMania 30, Lee would drop her championship to the debuting Paige.  Lee would win it back two more times in 2014 before losing it for good to Nikki Bella at Survivor Series that year in a quickie encounter that paid homage to the Bryan/Sheamus WHC match at WM 28.

Besides helping to elevate male stars like Bryan & Ziggler to main event status and expanding & redefining the look of a female wrestler (I always loved her boot-size Doc Martens), the self-described tomboy could also deliver a devastating promo.  Besides her wonderfully villainous shots at real-life friend Kaitlyn in 2013, Lee delivered a blistering diatribe against the cast of the Total Divas reality show in a Raw speech many compared to CM Punk’s infamous June 2011 “Best In The World” rant.  A high compliment, indeed.  For his part, Punk praised her promo on his own Twitter account.

Speaking of Twitter, when Stephanie McMahon commended Oscar-winning actress Patricia Arquette for advocating equal pay for women back in February this year, Lee rightly noted that when it comes to female wrestlers she didn’t practice what she preached.  This led to the #GiveDivasAChance hashtag and renewed, albeit short-lived interest in the women’s division.

Just before this year’s WrestleMania, Lee & on-screen frenemy Paige rekindled their long simmering tension as they prepared to face the Bella Twins at the Showcase of the Immortals.  In the last Smackdown before the pay-per-view, Lee humourously compared the Bellas to the Kardashians.  For her part, Divas champ Nikki Bella noted that Lee has been seen less often lately than Brock Lesnar.  (Blame a neck injury for that.)  At any event, Paige made up with Lee and they went on to beat The Bellas at WrestleMania, her last high-profile match.  (April 5 CORRECTION:  Actually, AJ worked her final match the very next night on Raw.  She teamed with Paige and Naomi in a winning effort over The Bellas and Natalya.)

Whether it was injuries, real-life business issues with Stephanie McMahon, road fatigue, frustrations with creative, wanting to spend more time at home as a newlywed, a combination of any or all of the above or something else entirely is immaterial.  The bottom line is the AJ Lee era in WWE is over and with it one of the most entertaining, influential female characters of the past five years.

Like her husband, she was different.  She didn’t fit the pre-existing mold of what a female wrestler should look like.  She may be tiny in stature (5’2 and less than 120 pounds) but she had a strong personality loaded with wit and bite.  And although she played the crazy maneater angle for far too long (which led to Paige and Alicia Fox imitating her freakouts and far too much slut shaming, particularly from Jerry Lawler on commentary), she had great psychology.  Just ask Kaitlyn and the Bellas.

Plus, she could work.  She was quick on her feet, routinely took decent bumps and could wrestle anybody.  Her black widow submission hold was perfect for her character.

Despite the continual lack of respect and support for women’s wrestling in modern day WWE, Lee made the most of the limited time she had on-screen, both on the mic and in the ring.  (The way she sold Big Show accidentally running into her at ringside is just one example of how underrated she was.)  When AJ Lee was performing, whether she was Daniel Bryan’s sweet girlfriend, the Raw GM or Kaitlyn’s worst nightmare, you paid attention.  She made you believe everything she did and said.

Not yet 30, she is still young enough to leave her mark in some other creative forum, should she choose to do so.  Having announced a new book deal, maybe writing will define her second act.

In the meantime, here’s hoping WWE puts together a special DVD compilation of her greatest hits along with a behind-the-scenes documentary of her life and times in and out of the ring.

All the best to her as she skips along to the next phase of her life.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Saturday, April 4, 2015
3:17 a.m.

Published in: on April 4, 2015 at 3:17 am  Leave a Comment  

The Sender (1982)

A young man awakens in the woods, startled by a passing truck.  A bit confused, he starts walking down the road.  He ends up on the beach.  Once there, he gathers some rocks, stuffing them in his pockets.  Then, he walks towards the water.  He keeps walking until he’s completely submerged.

Thanks to many witnesses, he is ultimately rescued & transported to a local psychiatric hospital.  He has forgotten his own name & the circumstances that led to his suicide attempt.

That’s how The Sender begins, one of the strangest, most baffling horror films I’ve ever seen.  Released in 1982, it stars longtime character actor Zeljko Ivanek as that mysterious young man.  Once he checks in, he is looked after by a concerned Kathryn Harrold, one of several on-call shrinks.

Shortly after their first conversation, weird things start happening to her.  While going over some work material in bed one night she suddenly hears glass breaking.  Curiously not startled (she’s very stoic), it isn’t until she hears more noise that she finally decides to calmly check things out.  She eventually discovers her new patient, the young man from the woods, holding and admiring a necklace she was wearing when they met.  Then, he suddenly disappears.

But when the police arrive to investigate, there is no broken glass & her necklace hasn’t been stolen.  Furthermore, the young man hasn’t left the hospital since he checked in.

In a later scene, after debating the pros & cons of subjecting him to possible shock therapy (her superior favours it, she rightly calls it “torture”), she opens the fridge to retrieve something only to discover some creepy crawlies, as well.  Freaked out, she closes it.  But when her superior opens it up again, no bugs.

What’s going on?  Is Harrold going crazy?

Not at all, as it turns out.  After having a conversation with the young man’s mother (Shirley Knight) who suddenly appears in her office without warning (and disappears just as quickly after their brief conversation), Harrold does a weird test with John Doe 83, the name the hospital has given her troubled son.

She asks him to pick a card and not show her.  She guesses the suit.  He shows her she’s wrong.  She asks him to pick another card.  Same deal.  Then she starts guessing the colour of the suit.  Every time, he reveals she’s incorrect.

Harrold tells him the odds for getting every guess wrong are the same as getting every guess right:  1000 to 1.  (Did she secretly guess wrong to prove a point?)  Now, how is this significant, exactly?  Well, she concludes that JD is a very sensitive telepath whose dreams & nightmares are so vivid they can be seen by Harrold, and eventually, everybody in the hospital, including the usual, one-note, cartoonish mental patients in his ward.  Among them, a guy who thinks he’s Jesus yet worries about being decapitated (he’s too afraid to swallow his meds) & another guy who still thinks the Vietnam War is going on while constantly swatting away at some invisible pest.

The dreams manifest themselves somehow into the real world at the slightest provocation and cannot be controlled.  When Harrold’s superior learns some nonsense about how babies can mentally communicate with their mothers, he is delighted that John Doe 83 is potentially the first ever adult case.  That leads to the funniest scene in the film.

After JD gets all hooked up for shock therapy, once it begins, for some reason, all the medical staff in the room start to levitate in slow motion, get thrown around and, in one case, make a ridiculously overwrought facial expression.  When one character starts banging into medical supplies & ultimately goes flying through some glass, I laughed even harder.

Despite the utter failure of this experiment, the medical geniuses at this facility stubbornly decide to go ahead and perform brain surgery on this poor young man.  Needless to say, it doesn’t go very well.  Maybe they’re the ones who need the surgery.

The Sender was made two years before A Nightmare On Elm Street, another film that straddles the line between fantasy and reality.  Although I’ve never been an Elm Street booster, at least there was no confusion about what was real, what was a nightmare and what the true motivations of Freddy Krueger were.

In The Sender, we have no fucking idea what’s going on even after we discover John Doe’s secret.  The stuff involving his mother is particularly confusing.  Is she really alive or is she a mental manifestation?  Did he really kill her or did she off herself?  Is their mother/son bond more intimate than we realize, a supernatural Psycho situation?  Where’s the father and what the hell is going on with these two?

Not helping matters are the final two scenes.  John Doe (we never do learn his real name) gives a taped testimonial that sort of explains how he ended up in the woods at the beginning of the film.  But it’s still not completely clear what exactly happened and why.  (If his mother wanted him dead, why does it appear she tried to commit suicide?  Or was it a murder-suicide?)  The vagueness throughout the entire picture, and not just in this one sequence, is maddening.

Then comes the moment after he’s officially discharged.  Let’s just say it pretty much discredits the entire film.

The idea of encountering someone’s dreams while still awake in the real world is certainly an intriguing one for a horror film, a good horror film.  The Sender is not a good horror film.  It’s slow, often perplexing and in a couple of instances, completely laughable.

Despite a fine performance by Shirley Knight & a really cool shot of an exploding house seen reflecting in water, you can file this one under awful.  There’s nothing remotely scary here.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Wednesday, April 1, 2015
4:11 a.m.

Published in: on April 1, 2015 at 4:11 am  Comments (1)  

You’re Sweet

You’re a sweet boy
But you don’t have a clue
You can’t read minds
What is wrong with you?
You got a little nosy
And I didn’t approve
Let this be a lesson
Beware your next move

You’re a sweet boy
But you don’t know shit
Compassionate to a fault
You just don’t quit
Your innocent queries
Are incredibly offensive
Is it any wonder
I feel so apprehensive

You’re a sweet boy
And I know you mean well
But trying to understand me
Just makes me want to yell
When I’m deliberately vague
You should stop being so curious
Do the opposite of what you’re thinking
And I won’t be so furious

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Saturday, March 14, 2015
2:47 a.m.

Published in: on March 14, 2015 at 2:47 am  Comments (4)  

9 Terrible WrestleMania Matches (Part Two)

5. Brock Lesnar vs. Goldberg (WrestleMania 20)

Wrestling fans love thinking up fantasy matches.  Hulk Hogan vs. John Cena.  Steve Austin vs. CM Punk.  So, when the WWE booked WCW legend Bill Goldberg against The Next Big Thing Brock Lesnar for WrestleMania XX back in 2004, it looked like a dream come true.

Under normal circumstances, it probably would’ve been.  But the match was doomed long before it ever happened.

Word had gotten out that Goldberg had not renewed his contract.  A week before the event, Lesnar announced he wasn’t planning to return, either.  (He was fed up working through injuries on a full-time schedule.)  The fact that both men were planning to have their final WWE match together at WrestleMania made their pairing all the more anticlimactic.  With no title on the line and no real interesting story to tell in the ring, despite months of slowly laying the groundwork for it, disaster was inevitable.

Despite the presence of Stone Cold Steve Austin (who had wrestled his own final match at WM 19 in a losing affair against The Rock) as special guest referee, neither Goldberg nor Lesnar looked the least bit interested in working that night.  In fact, the match took forever to get going which greatly annoyed the impatient Madison Square Garden audience.  As they booed and chanted negatively throughout the punishingly long 13-minute encounter, Goldberg finally ended it with a Jackhammer.

When Austin delivered his finisher, the Stone Cold Stunner, to both men afterwards, it got the only positive reaction.  While Goldberg hasn’t worked a match since, despite giving the crowd the double bird that night, Lesnar would eventually return under surprisingly welcome circumstances in 2012.  Two years later, he demolished John Cena to become the current WWE World Heavyweight Champion.

6. Aki Bono “sumo wrestles” The Big Show (WrestleMania 21)

When Cody Rhodes was the InterContinental Champion in 2012, he began mocking his WrestleMania 28 challenger over his lack of success at the Showcase of the Immortals by showing highlights of his failures.  One of those failures was an embarrassingly worked sumo wrestling match in 2005 with Japanese legend Aki Bono.

Dressed in traditional garb, The Big Show’s less-than-spectacular ass was singled out in particular for ruthless mockery.  It also didn’t help that in very short order, after a few needless delays, Bono ultimately threw him out of the ropeless ring.

On a night that saw both John Cena and Batista get their first world title pushes, this was not The Big Show’s time to shine.  As for the match itself, let’s be blunt here.  It was filler.

7. Jerry “The King” Lawler vs. Michael Cole (WrestleMania 27)

Good Lord, where to begin with this travesty?  During the first season of NXT, back when it was a competition show to find the next breakout superstar, play-by-play commentator Michael Cole suddenly starting taking a serious dislike to contestant Daniel Bryan.  Cole’s new heel turn would soon see him repeatedly butt heads with longtime broadcast partner, Jerry Lawler, on Monday Night Raw.  They would often bicker over the merits of then-WWE Champion The Miz.

After Cole cost The King his last opportunity to win the WWE Championship (and even brought up his mother who had just died prior to the 2011 Elimination Chamber pay-per-view in an interview), both men were booked in a grudge match at WrestleMania 27.  Jack Swagger helped train Cole for the event.

Cole was so worried that Lawler would thrash him at the announce table he started broadcasting in a glass box nicknamed the Colemine.  When it was their turn to fight, Cole came out in a ridiculously bright orange amateur onesie complete with old-school protective head gear.  Much like Brock Lesnar & Goldberg seven years earlier, there wasn’t a lot of early physical contact as special guest referee Stone Cold Steve Austin oversaw this pitiful display.  But Cole did yammer away at Lawler on the mic for a bit.

In the end, Lawler got a submission victory.  But thanks to the actions of the Anonymous Raw General Manager (that awful laptop computer gimmick), the decision was reversed and Cole won by DQ.  (Austin apparently got too involved for the GM’s liking.)  The feud dragged on needlessly for two more pay-per-views.  (To be fair, I did like the Extreme Rules match that also involved Swagger and Jim Ross.)  It only ended when Cole apologized to Lawler after tasting The King’s foot following another painful match at Over The Limit.  Cole’s heel character was thankfully discontinued in the fall of 2012.

8. John Cena vs. The Rock (WrestleMania 29)

They lied to us.  When the WWE began a year-long build for the main event of WrestleMania 28, they said John Cena facing The Rock was Once In A Lifetime.  But after The Rock won the WWE Championship from CM Punk in a mostly forgettable affair at the 2013 Royal Rumble and after Cena won the Rumble match itself, the rematch was on.

And what a disappointing rematch it was.  While their first encounter was good rather than great, number two felt very derivative and stale with no innovation or exciting spots.  (It didn’t help matters that Rock got seriously hurt in the middle of it.)  The backstory involved Cena having a bad year after losing to The Rock.  His marriage ended and he wasn’t able to win a championship in all of 2012.  Now the WWE Champion, The Rock simply wanted to prove that he could beat Cena again.

Despite their endlessly entertaining promos during this much shorter build to their rematch, the result of this title bout, like Hogan/Slaughter in 1991, was as predictable as it comes.  After outsmarting The Rock in the finish, Cena became the champion again.

The next night on Raw, Brock Lesnar was supposed to start a year-long build with Rock that would’ve culminated in a match at WrestleMania 30.  But because the former champ needed immediate surgery for his injury, that was completely cancelled.  The consequences of this cancellation would be felt the following year.

9. Brock Lesnar vs. The Undertaker (WrestleMania 30)

With The Rock out for WrestleMania 30, Lesnar needed a new opponent.  Although The Undertaker reportedly requested a match with Daniel Bryan, he got The Beast Incarnate instead.  (Bryan, of course, had a superb match with Triple H and went on to beat Randy Orton & Batista in a satisfying triple threat main event for the WWE World Heavyweight title.)

As the build began, Lesnar’s mouthpiece Paul Heyman began declaring that his “carnivore” would finally end The Dead Man’s long running WrestleMania streak.  At that point, Taker was 21-0.  Lesnar started wearing a t-shirt that said, “Eat. Sleep. Conquer The Streak.”  During one of his last promos before the event, Heyman said that Lesnar winning the match was not a promise, it was “a spoiler”.

Much to the utter shock of many, he was right.  Lesnar would indeed be the “1 in 21-1″.  I’ve noted in this space before how The Streak should and would be broken at some point.  But by an established talent like Lesnar who didn’t need any more heat in a match that was astoundingly slow and plodding without any real memorable spots?  Quite frankly, The Dead Man truly looked dead out there.  The remarkable energy he exhibited in his classic WM battles with Triple H & Shawn Michaels alone was glaringly absent at WrestleMania 30.  Taker’s WM 29 match with CM Punk was so much better.  After so many years of defying his age, it had finally caught up to him.

So, why did Vince McMahon decide to kill The Streak?  To jolt the floundering WWE Network, of course, which had just launched after a two-year delay.  It was a bad move, though.  Having lost half his fortune McMahon is now no longer a billionaire (I know, boo hoo).  But more importantly, he took away one of the easiest selling points of WrestleMania.  With Taker scheduled to take on Bray Wyatt at WrestleMania 31, imagine how much more compelling it could be if The Phenom had everything to lose and The New Face Of Fear had everything to gain.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Wednesday, March 4, 2015
9:54 p.m.

Published in: on March 4, 2015 at 9:55 pm  Leave a Comment  

9 Terrible WrestleMania Matches (Part One)

Steamboat vs. Savage.  Austin vs. Hart.  HBK vs. The Undertaker.

Three great feuds that inspired several classic matches on the grandest stage of them all.  For 30 years, WrestleMania has showcased some of the greatest one-on-one encounters in the history of professional wrestling, memorable battles that have lived on beyond their original pay-per-view airings.

Sadly, not every match in its history has gone so smoothly.  Throughout the decades, the Showcase of the Immortals has had its fair share of athletic fumbles, ill-fated encounters that suffered from bad bookings, missed spots, heatless programs & indifferent, apathetic superstars.

Here are 9 such examples presented in chronological order:

1. Mr. T “boxing” Rowdy Roddy Piper (WrestleMania 2)

The main event of the Long Island, New York portion of the second WrestleMania was a return match of sorts between two of the participants in the main event of the original WrestleMania.  In 1985, Rowdy Roddy Piper teamed with “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff to face Hulk Hogan & A-Team star Mr. T.  Hogan & T got the win in a fun, entertaining tag match which helped begin the WWF’s launch beyond its then-territorial boundaries.  The following year, for some reason, Piper & T were booked in a “boxing” match for WM 2.  (Of course, T played Clubber Lang in Rocky III but still.)

The renewed rivalry began in February 1986 when Piper’s bodyguard “Cowboy” Bob Orton suddenly decided he wanted to box.  On his behalf, Piper challenged anyone to be his opponent.  Thanks to Hogan outsmarting Hot Rod during a Piper’s Pit segment Mr. T was one of two men who accepted.  (Jose Luis Rivera was the first.  He lost.)  The result was a briefly worked match on Saturday Night’s Main Event which ended after 2 rounds.  T won when Orton was knocked out of the ring.  (Yes, he won by count-out.)

After the match, Hot Rod kneed him from behind and with Orton now back in the ring holding him down, Piper whipped T with his own belt.  On a different Piper’s Pit during a weekly TV taping, Piper & Orton gave T’s friend, The Haiti Kid (a little person), an unwanted Mohawk haircut as a “tribute” to him.  Then, during a pre-taped segment on another weekly broadcast, Piper visited “the A-Team set” where T had to be held back by his entourage after Hot Rod repeatedly insulted him.

Piper & T didn’t have to fake their intense hatred for each other.  It was very real.  So, why were they stuck in a contrived boxing match where both men were booked to routinely pull their punches?  Wouldn’t a true contest have made more sense and been far more engrossing than a storytelling exhibition?

At any event, by today’s standards, the actual four-round match was a disappointing disaster.  No devastating punches were ever thrown.  Late in the bout, T was supposed to nail Piper with a roundhouse which would knock him right out of the ring.  Unfortunately, when he threw the punch, T came nowhere near Hot Rod’s face who overcompensated by overselling the miss.  When an enraged Piper returned to the ring, he threw his corner stool as hard as he could at a puzzled T.  The match ended when Piper bodyslammed T, causing a DQ.

How badly did the Nassau Coliseum react to the match after it ended?  They chanted “Roddy!  Roddy!” as Piper & Orton left the ring.  That’s right.  They rooted for the villain who lost.  After a brief hiatus, Piper would begin his first of many short-term babyface runs.  Despite a short return as a referee “enforcer” in 1989, T would never work a WWE match again.  On the plus side, he did get inducted into the WWE Hall Of Fame.

2. Hulk Hogan vs. Sgt. Slaughter (WrestleMania 7)

The Ultimate Warrior was supposed to be the man, the top babyface in the WWF.  After getting the ultimate push, a world title victory over Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania VI no less, the plan was for him to have a long title reign.

But Warrior was no Hogan.  And so, at the 1991 Royal Rumble, after just 9 months as champion, the villainous Sgt. Slaughter dethroned him, thanks to the constant interference of Macho King Randy Savage & Sensational Queen Sherri.

With Warrior & Savage set on a collision course for WM VII, Hogan was booked to take on Slaughter, the American military man who absurdly supported Saddam Hussein in the first Iraq War, in the main event.  (His considerable mic skills made up for this implausible heel turn.)

With next to no suspense, Hogan & Slaughter wasted 20 minutes of the audience’s time in this seriously underwhelming title match.  (How many times do we need to see Slaughter thrown chest-first into those soft turnbuckles?)  Warrior & Savage’s “retirement” battle proved to be far more gripping & memorable.  It also had an awesome post-match segment.  (Elizabeth rescued a defeated Savage from a vindictive Sherri and then they reconciled through a touching embrace.)

Put simply, Hogan & Slaughter could not compete with them.  In the end, as expected, Hogan became a three-time WWF Champion.  It was less of a big deal than his two previous title triumphs.  And despite the Gulf War already being over a month before WrestleMania VII even happened, the feud dragged on til late summer.  Slaughter would eventually realize his mistake, beg for forgiveness and become a ‘face again.

3. The Undertaker vs. Giant Gonzalez (WrestleMania 9)

Long before The Streak became an annual WrestleMania storyline filled with exciting, first-rate matches, The Phenom participated in plenty of snoozers.  None was worst than his sluggish confrontation with Giant Gonzalez in 1993.

Manager Harvey Wippleman had previously sent Kamala The Ugandan Giant after him in 1992 to no avail.  Now it was the nearly 8-foot Gonzalez’ turn to take on The Dead Man.  (The feud began when he eliminated Taker from the 1993 Royal Rumble match without actually being an official entrant.)

Gonzalez was not known for his speed or scientific ability.  He was slow as shit and moved awkwardly on his feet.  Despite the valiant effort of The Undertaker to try to get something going with him, this was a loser right from the get-go.  It ended mercifully when Gonzalez got disqualified for smothering him with a cloth soaked in chloroform (I’m not kidding) handed to him by Wippleman, one of the rare times an Undertaker WrestleMania encounter didn’t end with a pin or submission.

After seemingly being knocked out for a short while and stretchered out to the back The Undertaker would eventually return to beat on Gonzalez in an extended post-match scrum that was only slightly better than their actual boring match.  It would be many years before Taker would start having great WrestleMania matches.  Sadly, Gonzalez died in 2010.

4. Hulk Hogan vs. Yokozuna (WrestleMania 9)

Oh brother.  Bret “The Hitman” Hart had just dropped the WWF Championship to the 1993 Royal Rumble winner Yokozuna in the main event of WrestleMania 9, thanks to Mr. Fuji throwing salt in the champ’s eyes while he had the challenger in the sharpshooter, which should’ve been the end of the much maligned Vegas show.

But it wasn’t.  Just before the match got started, Hulk Hogan declared his intention to challenge the winner of this title bout.  After Yoko’s victory, out he came to check on Hart outside of the ring.  Hart motioned for him to take on the new champion.  Fuji accepted his challenge on behalf of Yoko.  In less than 30 seconds, Hogan was once again the WWF Champion.  Hart has long complained about this booking and with good reason.  (Hart claims he was supposed to face Hogan but the Immortal One was against the idea.)  Why take away Yokozuna’s greatest professional moment with a deflating squash during the WWF’s biggest show of the year?  And honestly, why did Hogan, who failed to win the tag titles with Brutus Beefcake in their WM match against Money Inc., need another title run at this stage of his career?

Just a few months later, however, Yokozuna would thankfully regain the title at King Of The Ring 1993.  After a proper title run, he would eventually drop it back to Hart at WrestleMania X.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Wednesday, March 4, 2015
9:00 p.m.

Published in: on March 4, 2015 at 9:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

Activist Civil War

We should be united by a common goal
With everyone aware of their important role
Devising solutions to our growing concerns
Sparking revolution until the system burns

But instead of dismantling the status quo
Internal disputes are stealing the show
It’s harder to push for structural reforms
When these relentless language fights become raging storms

The Privilege Police are out in full force
Screaming at “offensive” allies until their voices are hoarse
We’re not your bitter enemies, we’re your loyal, puzzled friends
This self-destructive squabbling just never ends

It’s vitally important that we’re all treated with respect
But being quick to accuse is hardly circumspect
Alienating partners so fast you can’t see
How does any of this help break the patriarchy?

Whatever happened to keeping our “eyes on the prize”?
Or would we rather cut each other right down to size?
Purposeful misunderstandings are becoming such a bore
It’s pointless to get sucked into an activist civil war

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Friday, February 27, 2015
3:43 a.m.

Published in: on February 27, 2015 at 3:43 am  Leave a Comment  

2015 Oscars Wrap-Up

Birdman, The Grand Budapest Hotel and Whiplash were the big winners at the 87th annual Academy Awards.  Collectively, they took home almost half of the 24 awards up for grabs.

Birdman’s Alejandro G. Inarritu ended up personally collecting three of the four gongs his universally praised film won in the three-and-a-half hour ceremony.  Besides snapping up the expected Best Director trophy, he shared the Best Original Screenplay award with three other screenwriters as Birdman also went on to unseat early frontrunner Boyhood for Best Picture.  The film also won for its cinematography.

Also winning four Oscars was Wes Anderson’s Grand Budapest Hotel which took golden dust collectors for Best Costume Design, Best Make-Up & Hairstyling, Best Production Design and Best Original Score.

As expected, Farmers Insurance pitchman J.K. Simmons won Best Supporting Actor in the event’s first presentation for his much praised performance in the sleeper film Whiplash which surprisingly won additional honours for Best Sound Mixing and Best Film Editing.

Other surefire winners included Citizenfour which was named Best Documentary Feature, the Polish Holocaust-themed Ida which grabbed the Best Foreign Language Film trinket, writer Graham Moore whose penning of The Imitation Game was named Best Adapted Screenplay, Julianne Moore who, after four previously failed attempts at winning an Academy Award, finally won Best Actress for playing a woman with Alzheimer’s in Still Alice, and John Legend & Common whose original song Glory was Selma’s only triumph.  Their live performance was the only one of the nominated songs to receive a standing ovation.  The film’s overlooked lead, British actor David Oyelowo who played MLK, was moved to tears.

Despite the number of predictable winners, there were some surprises.  Big Hero 6 upset How To Train Your Dragon 2 for Best Animated Feature and a clearly tickled Eddie Redmayne wrestled Best Actor away from Birdman’s Michael Keaton for his portrayal of legendary scientist Stephen Hawking in The Theory Of Everything.

In the end, each of the eight nominated Best Pictures got at least one trophy.  Patricia Arquette ended up getting the only one for Richard Linklater’s experimental epic Boyhood.  She was named Best Supporting Actress.  (The complete list of winners is at the bottom of this piece.)

As for the Oscar telecast itself, a special request to the Academy.  Don’t ask Neil Patrick Harris to host again.  Most of his one-liners were turkeys, his opening song with an unfunny Jack Black and surprisingly tuneful Anna Kendrick was more hit than miss (the background visuals were cool, though), his interaction with seat fillers was time-filling pointlessness, his specially protected predictions bit was nothing more than a lame way to recap highlights of the show, and his quip after Citizenfour’s triumph was despicable, outrageous and deeply offensive.  Edward Snowden isn’t a “traitor”, asshole.  The tasteless line took some luster away from Oscar-winner Laura Poitras’ greatest professional moment.  Fuck you for saying it.  In fact, you should apologize for doing so.

Families became a recurring theme of the acceptance speeches after Whiplash star J.K. Simmons sweetly thanked his wife and “above average” kids.  Another welcome thread was politics.  Citizenfour director Laura Poitras noted the dangers of mass surveillance while rightly thanking NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and truth tellers just like him for exposing criminal wrongdoing.  (What a shame that journalist Glenn Greenwald, who held Poitras’ Oscar while she spoke, didn’t get to layeth the smackethdown on the candy asses of the Obama Administration.  Like the live performance of that Lego Movie song, that would’ve been awesome.)

Despite having a cheat sheet, Boyhood’s Patricia Arquette got a rousing response when she ended her speech with a plea for equal pay and rights for women.  Charming Imitation Game screenwriter Graham Moore revealed he attempted suicide when he was just a teenager and urged those who feel different to “stay weird”.  A deeply poignant moment that was only eclipsed by the powerful comments both Common and John Legend made about mass incarceration and the continuing struggle for black equality.

Despite being a terrible host, Neil Patrick Harris did have some funny moments.  His opening line about the Oscars being the “whitest” was welcome as was his failed attempt to get Robert Duvall’s attention.  But without question, the funniest part of the program was all the Travolta material.  The former Sweathog was a pretty good sport about his famous mistake butchering Frozen singer Idina Mitzel’s name last year.  But he got a little too handsy with her face when they presented an award together.  (At least he got it right this time.)  Thankfully, Harris got an additional laugh out of that.  Also amusing was Alejandro Inarritu’s claim during one of his numerous acceptance speeches that he was wearing Michael Keaton’s tighty whities for good luck.  During one of his more serious moments, he pleaded for more respect for Mexican-American immigrants and especially for his fellow countrymen back home.

As for my predictions scorecard, I went a disappointing 12 for 24.  Had I gone with Big Hero 6 (my initial guess for Best Animated Feature) before ultimately settling on How To Train Your Dragon 2 and Birdman for Best Picture (instead of Boyhood, although I did say Birdman was in the running), had I taken a chance on Eddie Redmayne (who, to be fair, I did say was a potential spoiler) and had I not picked Interstellar for so many technical wins (it only took Best Visual Effects), I would’ve had a better evening.

The complete list of winners:

BEST PICTURE – BIRDMAN

BEST DIRECTOR – Alejandro G. Inarritu (BIRDMAN)

BEST ACTRESS – Julianne Moore (STILL ALICE)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS –  Patricia Arquette (BOYHOOD)

BEST ACTOR – Eddie Redmayne (THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR – J.K. Simmons (WHIPLASH)

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY – Alejandro G. Inarritu, Nicolas Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris Jr. & Armando Bo (BIRDMAN)

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY – Graham Moore (THE IMITATION GAME)

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE – CITIZENFOUR

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM – IDA

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE – BIG HERO 6

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS – INTERSTELLAR

BEST COSTUME DESIGN – THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY – BIRDMAN

BEST MAKE-UP & HAIRSTYLING – THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL

BEST FILM EDITING – WHIPLASH

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE – Alexandre Desplat (THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL)

BEST ORIGINAL SONG – Glory (SELMA)

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN – THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL

BEST SOUND MIXING – WHIPLASH

BEST SOUND EDITING – AMERICAN SNIPER

BEST ANIMATED SHORT – FEAST

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT – CRISIS HOTLINE: VETERANS PRESS 1

BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT – THE PHONE CALL

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Monday, February 23, 2015
1:13 a.m.

Published in: on February 23, 2015 at 1:14 am  Leave a Comment  
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