Saturday, May 9, 2009

Pogo on Alice

Okay, so typically I'm not really a fan of this type of music. I appreciate it but it tends to put me in a mood or mindset that doesn't exactly coexist with productivity for me.

However, throw in a Disney element (especially Alice in Wonderland) and this little fairy is sold! An electronic music artist from Australia who goes by the name Pogo has won me over with this track and the accompanying video.

Watch the video made below to go along with this trippy little Alice remix. If you love it, you can download it from

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

R.I.P. Dom DeLuise

Name: Dom DeLuise
Occupation: Actor/Comedian
Genre: Film/Television
Born: August 1, 1933
Died: May 4, 2009

If nothing else can be said about this phenomenally talented comedic actor, it's that he definitely lived out his life to the fullest extent. He was an actor, comedian, producer, chef, husband, father, author, singer, and director. He was also a Golden Globe and Daytime Emmy Award nominee, and has a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

He rubbed elbows and continually brought tears of laughter to the likes of Johnny Carson, Dean Martin, Mel Brooks, Gene Wilder, and his longtime friend Burt Reynolds.

Graduating from Manhattan's High School of Performing Arts, DeLuise started his career as a regular performer on the short-lived television show "Tinker's Workshop" in 1954.

DeLuise worked regularly in films and television shows throughout the 1960s, most notably on "The Dean Martin Show" in which he made famous his character Dominick the Great, a failed Italian magician. His career thrived throughout the 1960s and 1970s as he appeared on "The Entertainers", "The Flip Wilson Show", and "The Carol Burnett Show". He was also a frequent guest host of "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson". DeLuise twice had his own short-lived TV series and, in the early 1990s, was the host of "Candid Camera".

Aside from his steady television appearances, which continued through the end of his career, DeLuise began landing roles in a myriad of successful films in the 1970s including Who Is Harry Kellerman and Why Is He Saying Those Terrible Things About Me?, Sextette (Mae West's final film), The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother, and The Muppet Movie.

His team-up with Mel Brooks (beginning with the film The Twelve Chairs in 1970) was a match made in Heaven. DeLuise's film career was catapulted to a whole new level in 1974 when he was cast in Brooks' classic film Blazing Saddles. Brooks would go on to cast DeLuise in the films Silent Movie, History of the World, Part I, Spaceballs, and Robin Hood: Men in Tights.

He was also directed by Brooks' late wife, the great Anne Bancroft, for the fantastic (and in my opinion vastly underrated) film Fatso in 1980.

The 1980s brought another great surge to his career with his popular performances in the films The Cannonball Run, Cannonball Run II, Smokey and the Bandit II, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Johnny Dangerously, Loose Cannons, and (one of my all-time favorites) Haunted Honeymoon.

DeLuise was also highly beloved among audiences young and old for his voice-over work in some of the most memorable animated films of that time including An American Tail, The Secret of NIMH, All Dogs Go to Heaven, Oliver & Company, and An American Tail: Fievel Goes West.

Dom DeLuise died in his sleep at the age of 75 in Santa Monica, California, after being hospitalized for respiratory problems due to high blood pressure and diabetes. He battled a weight problem for most of his life, sometimes weighing 325 pounds or more. He is survived by his wife of 43 years, Carol Arthur, their three children, and three grandchildren.

Frequent costar Gene Wilder said of Dom: "He was the funniest man, in person, that I've ever known."

And Mel Brooks was quoted to say: "Dom DeLuise was a big man in every way. He was big in size and created big laughter and joy. He will be missed in a very big way."

I have long been a fan of Dom's superb comedic timing and overall charm. Below is one of my dearest and most longstanding memories of him from the film Haunted Honeymoon in which he performs the song "Ballin' the Jack" with the late comedienne Gilda Radner.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Who Is That: Madeline Kahn

Name: Madeline Kahn
Occupation: Actress
Genre: Film/Stage
Born: September 29, 1942
Died: December 3, 1999

An absolutely astounding, Tony Award winning, Emmy Award winning, and Academy Award nominated, comedic actress of stage and screen who made famous the song "I'm Tired" from Mel Brooks' classic film Blazing Saddles and who brought deadpan to a whole new level with her portrayal of Mrs. White in one of my all-time favorite films Clue. To this day, I hear people quoting the "flames on the sides of my face" line which she so brilliantly delivered.

Born in Boston and primarily raised in New York, Kahn graduated from Martin Van Buren High School in Queens and went on to obtain a degree in Speech Therapy from Hofstra University. According to Kahn, "I was going to get my doctorate but acting got in the way. Pity, I always thought I'd like to do something dignified."

She also studied operatic singing which lead to her roles in the operetta Candide as well as the musicals Two by Two (starring Danny Kaye and with music by Richard Rodgers) and Leonard Sillman's New Faces of 1968, among others.

Her film career launched with a bang in 1972 when she was cast in the Peter Bogdanovich comedy What's Up Doc? alongside Barbra Streisand. The following year she was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Academy Award for her second film Paper Moon.

In 1974 she was released from her role in the musical film Mame to do the Mel Brooks film Blazing Saddles, in which she portrayed the character Lili Von Shtupp and garnered another Academy Award nomination. This would be the first of four films in which she was directed by Brooks. The others would be Young Frankenstein, High Anxiety, and History of the World, Part I.

Kahn also did some well-loved voice over work for the Don Bluth classic An American Tail and later for the Disney/Pixar film A Bug's Life.

The first time I personally became aware of the greatness of Madeline Kahn was in the 1985 film Clue in which she portrayed Mrs. White. That movie, along with its brilliant ensemble cast, was one of my biggest inspirations and has remained at the top of my list ever since.

Kahn won a Tony Award for her portrayal of Gorgeous Teitelbaum in the Wendy Wasserstein play The Sisters Rosensweig in 1993. She also won a Daytime Emmy Award for her work in the ABC television movie Wanted: The Perfect Guy. She also appeared in the films The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother, The Muppet Movie, Mixed Nuts, City Heat, Betsy's Wedding, and Nixon.

Madeline hosted "Saturday Night Live" three times and also appeared on several memorable episodes of both "Sesame Street" and "The Muppet Show".

She also had a recurring role on the sitcom "Cosby", as Pauline the eccentric neighbor, and won some of the best reviews of her career for her turn as Alice Gold in the film Judy Berlin, which would be her last.

In December of 1999, just two months after marrying her longtime companion John Hansbury, Madeline lost her battle against ovarian cancer. She passed away at the age of 57.

I remember living in Chicago when the news of Kahn's untimely death reached me. At that time, Judy Berlin, was playing in a movie theater down the street. I looked at the poster as I walked past and immediately felt my eyes begin to well.

I was and am, to say the very least, a big fan of hers. To this day I miss her dearly.

Mel Brooks said of her: "She is one of the most talented people that ever lived. I mean, either in stand-up comedy, or acting, or whatever you want, you can't beat Madeline Kahn."

Below is a wonderful moment from the televised celebration of Irving Berlin's 100th Birthday in 1988. Kahn sings the song "You'd Be Surprised". She always did and always will bring me great joy.

A Gay Moment: Ian McKellen and Christopher Lee

This Gay Moment is brought to you by the film The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.

Christopher: YOU NEVER LOVED ME!!!

Ian: D'OH!