A Ham-Fisted Christmas 2014

by admin on December 9, 2014

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How can it possibly be time for another Ham-Fisted Christmas? And yet, here it is — and holly-jolly pantsload of yuletide cheer to accompany your cookie basting and mistletoe jingling. You’ll find the playlist after the jump, or you can just listen and let it be a surprise. Happy Holidays!

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The title makes the show sound more sinister than it really is. It’s really just a remembrance of how cutesy holiday commercials used to be. Sure, eventually it becomes a philosophical digression into how branding has become such a pervasive element of modern culture, but it starts as just basically cooing over how cute Louie Armstrong is singing about dollies. Also, broccoli is awesome. You should eat more.

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You Need to See: Harold and Maude

by dawn on December 3, 2014

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When Hal Ashby’s 1971 cult classic Harold and Maude was released, übercritic Vincent Canby of The New York Times hated it passionately. Of lead actors Ruth Gordon and Bud Cort he wrote:

Mr. Cort’s baby face and teen-age build look grotesque alongside Miss Gordon’s tiny, wizened frame … as performers, they both are so aggressive, so creepy and off-putting, that Harold and Maude are obviously made for each other, a point the movie itself refuses to recognize with a twist ending that betrays, I think, its life-affirming pretensions.

Gordon wrote a letter to Canby in response, saying in part:

I wish you’d liked Harold and Maude. They said you saw it in a screening room with a dozen other critics. I wish you could have seen it with an audience. Maybe you wouldn’t have liked it then, but then I’d feel it you saw it the way it was meant to be seen. Shoulder to shoulder with people is how a play or film is written to be seen and I wish you’d seen it that way.

In her autobiography My Side, Gordon continued, “Harold and Maude for the next five years would be shown in New York, Boston, Dayton, Paris, Minneapolis, Edgartown, you name it; people would come up to me and say they saw it two times, nine times, thirty times, and when last heard from Doug Strand of St. Paul, ‘two hundred and one.’” [click to continue…]

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Episode 249 – Facebook Surprise!

by admin on December 1, 2014

A comfy, friendly Thanksgiving for Dawn gives way to the real reason for the season: Turkey Sandwiches. While enjoying the tasty combo of bread, meat, and mayo, she discovers a pleasant surprise on Facebook. Also discussed: Trader Joe’s sells some of the most delicious diabetes you’ll ever taste, and Dawn passes judgment on Portland’s Christmas traditions.

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You Need to See: Babette’s Feast

by dawn on November 26, 2014

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With the neighborhood video store all but extinct and movie-lovers finding their films via Netflix and Amazon searches, the pleasure of “stumbling across” a great film is becoming a lost pleasure.  Each week I share one of my favorite movies, and I encourage you to seek it out.

Whenever a filmmaker offers a movie with food at the center of it, it’s usually as a metaphor. The whole concept of appetite and the hedonistic pleasures of the flesh and the freedom of expression that comes with the preparation of food is simply too rich (and too easily grasped) a symbolism for a screenwriter to ignore. And whenever we are presented with one of these films, be it Like Water for Chocolate, Big Night, Ang Lee’s Eat, Drink, Man, Woman or, most recently, Jon Favreau’s Chef, there will be reviewers who inevitably haul out comparisons to the mother of all food flicks, Babette’s Feast, which won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film in 1987. [click to continue…]

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After one of the more charming infomercials Dawn’s seen in awhile is given its due, the show turns its gaze towards the Thanksgiving season, and the traditions that come along with it. Traditions that now include making grilled cheese sandwiches into stuffing, and finding something fun for the family to listen to now that Bill Cosby’s classic routines are off the table. Plus – Dawn got a new car! And Patrick’s got some funny stories about the time he had to have a thing put inside him at the hospital!

[NOTE: In this episode Dawn incorrectly identifies incoming Nevada Assembly Speaker Ira Hansen (R) as the Texas Speaker of the House, because when she hears of a politician doing something racist and stupid she immediately thinks "Texas" and she has no idea what a Speaker actually does.]

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You Need to See: Nashville

by dawn on November 12, 2014

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With the neighborhood video store all but extinct and movie-lovers finding their films via Netflix and Amazon searches, the pleasure of “stumbling across” a great film is becoming a lost pleasure.  Each week I share one of my favorite movies, and I encourage you to seek it out.

At the time of its release, Robert Altman’s 1975 film Nashville was a ground-breaker. It’s impossible to imagine a film inspiring so much public debate in today’s zeitgeist of short pop-culture attention spans – you’d probably have to go back to 1999’s Fight Club to find a film that had Nashville’s level of cultural impact, and then multiply it by about a hundred

The New York Times ran at least eight pieces on the film, while critics and commentators ripped it apart, analyzing and dissecting it for months after its release. Nashville played a large role in the return to auteur filmmaking that enjoyed a resurgence in the late ’70s, helping to win public acceptance of directors like DePalma, Scorsese and Alan Rudolph, opening further doors for current-day auteurs. All of which is history, of course, and has little to do with the experience of seeing the film almost 40 years later. Nashville is, indeed, an innovative, fascinating, frustrating, and perhaps brilliant film. But it’s also a film that was important because of the time that it arrived in American history. [click to continue…]

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Ham-Fisted Playlist: Open Wide

by admin on November 10, 2014

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Hey, listeners! We’re on a two-week hiatus, but we’ll be back with a new show on Nov. 24th, with all sorts of infotainment for your ears and your brain. In the meantime …

In 246 episodes, we’ve accumulated a sundry aggregate of show openings. So in lieu of a new podcast this week, here’s a heaping platter of songs, movie trailers, and other merriment culled from previous shows. Enjoy!

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You Need to See: The Last Waltz

by dawn on November 5, 2014

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With the neighborhood video store all but extinct and movie-lovers finding their films via Netflix and Amazon searches, the pleasure of “stumbling across” a great film is becoming a lost pleasure.  Each week I share one of my favorite movies, and I encourage you to seek it out.

In 1976, the group known collectively as The Band — guitarist Robbie Robertson, bass player Rick Danko, drummer Levon Helm, pianist Richard Manuel and keyboard wizard Garth Hudson — decided to hang it up and stop touring. They’d been on the road for 16 years, having first come together in the early ’60s as the back-up band for rockabilly artist Ronnie Hawkins. After struggling through various artistic and temperamental differences with Hawkins, they struck out on their own, first as Levon and the Hawks, then as The Canadian Squires and finally, simply, The Hawks. They recorded two singles and were approached by Bob Dylan, who was looking to go electric and needed a back-up band. The resulting tour was famous mostly for the intense animosity with which Dylan’s folkie fan-base greeted his new approach; they were regularly booed by crowds (most notably at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival) and had food and bottles thrown at them. Helm left the band, returning to his native Arkansas, later saying that he wasn’t sure if he’d return to music at all. [click to continue…]

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Episode 246 – Shelley Nolan Shyamalan

by admin on November 3, 2014

It’s a particularly movie-centric slice of Ham this week as Eric D. Snider joins the show to discuss Halloween movies, the writings of Stephen King, the last book Dawn threw across the room, horrible things you could do to trick or treaters if you were a terrible person, Gilmore Girls-binging, and the ways in which film critics of all stripes try to convince themselves they’re smarter than they really are.

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