New Year's Eve

What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve? | Morgan James with Roy Dunlap on piano


So when exactly was it that Zooey Deschanel and thousands of amateur ukulele players hijacked Ella Fitsgerald’s definitive rendition of What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?

Someone should have warned me about this before I started scouring the Internet this morning for video of Ms Fitzgerald but ended up being gang-tackled by hordes of teenaged girls sitting cross-legged in their bedrooms, strumming their ukuleles, and singing this fine American classic.

Ah well, at least they know the song and seem to have some non-ironic fondness for it.

Just to show I’m not a totally gangrenous stick-in-the-mud shooing neighborhood kids off my lawn, here’s a youngish newcomer trying to do it right and true.

No Direction Home

Dear Pete Rose: It's Still a No. Sincerely, Baseball
| New York Times |

I’ve said it before and now I’m saying it again: Major League Baseball should make Pete Rose eligible for induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Ban him from being a manager or a coach or an owner or a ballpark hot dog vendor, bar him from ballpark events and appearances, stop him from working on the MLB Network; do everything that properly and legitimately bans him from baseball for life—but give him a chance to have his plaque on the wall in Cooperstown.

The Hall of Fame is a sham as long as Pete Rose isn’t at least given the chance to be voted in.

MST3K Is Alive!

Satellite of Love Successfully (Re)Launched!

By the time the MST3Kickstarter came to a close last night, 48,270 of us had joined together to raise over $6,300,000 
in toto (including a half-million bucks worth of geegaws in the online store) for Joel Hodgson and Company to create a full season of 13 new episodes (plus a bonus Christmas 2016 show) of Mystery Science Theater 3000, the only television show ever to wrack me with fits and waves of hysterical convulsive laugher (and it did so consistently).
Each and every episode looked like it cost 36 cents to make, and each and every episode was as original, as inspired, as brilliant, and as funny as any television comedy I have ever seen.
And now, after a 17-year hiatus, it’s coming back.

Jonah Heston (New Host): Jonah Ray
Kinga Forrester (New Mad): Felicia Day
TV’s Son of TV’s Frank (New Evil Henchman): Patton Oswalt
Crow T Robot: Hampton Yount
Tom Servo: Baron Vaughn

So much ugly stuff going on in this country and around the world, I know. It seems sort of superficial and callous to get so amped up about a TV show, right?

Oh fuck it. On with the shows!


Oh, by the by: the MST3Kickstarter also managed to edge past
Veronica Mars as the most successful crowdfunded video project of all time. Ooh Rah!


MST3K: The Definitive Oral History



Photograph: Platon


A Very Michael Christmas Playlist

A Very Michael Christmas Playlist, v. 2015.5

  1. Cool Yule • Louis Armstrong
  2. Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree • Brenda Lee
  3. Sleigh Ride • Ella Fitzgerald
  4. What Are You Doing New Years Eve • Nancy Wilson
  5. I’ve Got My Love To Keep Me Warm • Tony Bennett
  6. Merry Christmas, Baby • Ike & Tina Turner
  7. Please Come Home For Christmas • Charles Brown
  8. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas • Frank Sinatra
  9. Sugar Plum Fairy • Simon Holland
  10. Carol Of The Bells • Wynton Marsalis
  11. Who Took The Merry Out Of Christmas? • The Staples Singers
  12. ‘zat You, Santa Claus? • Louis Armstrong
  13. Boogie Woogie Santa Claus • Charles Brown
  14. I’ll Be Your Santa Baby • Rufus Thomas
  15. Jingle Bell Rock • Bobby Helms
  16. Blue Christmas • Elvis Presley
  17. River • Joni Mitchell
  18. Here Comes Santa Claus • Ramsey Louis
  19. Silent Night • Johnny Cash
  20. Sleigh Ride • The Ronettes
  21. Shimmy Down The Chimney (Fill Up My Stocking) • Alison Kraus
  22. Please Come Home For Christmas • Aaron Neville
  23. Baby, It’s Cold Outside • Dean Martin
  24. Merry Christmas, Baby • Charles Brown
  25. Let it Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! • Rosemary Clooney
  26. Good Morning Blues • Count Basie
  27. Winter Wonderland • Shirley Horn
  28. Mistletoe and Holly • Frank Sinatra
  29. The Christmas Song • Mel Tormé
  30. Greensleeves • John Coltrane
  31. Run Rudolph Run • Chuck Berry
  32. Christmas Wrapping • The Waitresses
  33. Boogie Woogie Santa Claus • Lionel Hampton & His Orchestra
  34. Jingle Bells • Duke Ellington & His Orchestra
  35. The Merriest • June Christy
  36. Shake Hands With Santa Claus • Louis Prima
  37. White Christmas • Ella Fitzgerald
  38. Christmas Night In Harlem • Louis Armstrong
  39. Merry Christmas Baby • Lionel Hampton & His Orchestra With Sonny Parker
  40. Santa Claus Is Coming To Town • Lena Horne
  41. Winter Wonderland • Louis Armstrong With Gordon Jenkins & HIs Orchestra
  42. Jingle Bells • Fats Domino
  43. Santa Baby • Eartha Kitt
  44. Santa Claus Go Straight To The Ghetto • James Brown
  45. Back Door Santa • Clarence Carter
  46. Santa’s Blues • Charles Brown
  47. Someday At Christmas • Stevie Wonder
  48. A Song For Christmas • Charles Brown
  49. Santa Claus, Santa Claus • James Brown
  50. Merry Christmas, Baby • Otis Redding
  51. The Christmas Song • Nat King Cole
  52. Little Saint Nick • The Beach Boys
  53. What Do Bad Girls Get? • Joan Osborne
  54. Blue Christmas • Bright Eyes
  55. Father Christmas • The Kinks
  56. Happy Xmas (War Is Over) • John Lennon & The Plastic Ono Band
  57. Santa Claus Is Coming To Town • Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band
  58. Beatnik’s Wish • Patsy Raye & The Beatniks
  59. Blue Xmas • Gil Evans and Miles Davis
  60. Santa Claus • Sonny Boy Williamson
  61. Merry Christmas Darling • Hop Wilson
  62. Silent Night • Etta James
  63. Christmas In Heaven • Charles Brown
  64. Christmas In New Orleans • Louis Armstrong
  65. The Day It Snows On Christmas • Allen Toussaint
  66. Shakana Santa Shake It • Bo Dollis & The Wild Magnolias
  67. Christmas Without The Creole • Irma Thomas
  68. All I Want For Christmas Is You • Mariah Carey
  69. Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) • Darlene Love
  70. Fairytale of New York • The Pogues
  71. Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town / White Christmas • Jimmy McGriff
  72. Happy New Year • Lightnin’ Hopkins


Movie Night: The Last Picture Show

“Never you mind, honey. Never you mind.”

The Last Picture Show | Directed by Peter Bogdanovich | Timothy Bottoms, Jeff Bridges, Ellen Burstyn, Ben Johnson, Cloris Leachman, Cybill Shepherd | 1971


More flawed and raw than I remember from high school 40+ years ago or when I last saw it in the 1980s at Berkeley’s UC Theatre. The black-and-white photography is not nearly as sharp or as rich as my memory of it, and the same can be said for Ben Johnson’s Oscar-winning and painfully hurried line readings as Sam the Lion (especially the scene at the tank dam with Sonny and Billy). Although it now plays surprisingly ragged (Joe Bob’s out-of-nowhere and go-nowhere abduction/molestation of the little girl, for example) and under-tuned overall, the movie still works thanks to Sonny’s strong central story, Shepherd’s Jacy, and Cloris Leachman’s achingly beautiful performance as the withered Ruth Popper.


Fantastic Negrito Strikes!