Monthly Archives: March 2011

FORGOTTEN MUSIC #14: Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs [2-CD 40th Anniversary Deluxe Edition] [Original recording remastered] By Derek & The Dominos

Okay, I know that Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs in the new remastered version isn’t coming out until April, but I figured I’d give you a heads-up early. Eric Clapton’s most famous song and plenty of extra goodies would be reason enough to buy this 40th Anniversary Deluxe Edition. AMAZON already has previews of all the songs on both disks so you can sample what’s going to be released April 26th. I can’t wait!

Here’s the promotional listing of what’s going to be included:
* Six exciting performances from what was to be Derek and the Dominos’ second album, all remixed by the original session engineer, Andy Johns. The highlight of the six tracks is “Got To Get Better In A Little While” – the group’s last recording – presented in this collection both as a mesmerizing jam version and as the first-ever release of the fully produced studio version, finally completed by founding member Bobby Whitlock on keyboards and vocals.

* All four audio performances from Derek and the Domino’s sole, historic television appearance on The Johnny Cash Show, November 9, 1970 – including Clapton’s famous jam on “Matchbox Blues” with Cash and rockabilly legend Carl Perkins.

* The two tracks produced by Phil Spector in early summer 1970 that amounted to the first release by Derek and the Dominos: “Tell the Truth” and “Roll It Over,” the A- and B-side of a single that was quickly pulled from circulation by the group.

* The Layla session out-take “Mean Old World”: the legendary acoustic duet performed by Eric Clapton and Duane Allman.
Disc 1
1 I Looked Away 3:06
2 Bell Bottom Blues 5:05
3 Keep On Growing 6:23
4 Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out 4:58
5 I Am Yours 3:35
6 Anyday 6:36
7 Key To the Highway 9:38
8 Tell the Truth 6:40
9 Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad? 4:43
10 Have You Ever Loved a Woman? 6:54
11 Little Wing 5:33
12 It’s Too Late 3:51
13 Layla 7:05
14 Thorn Tree In the Garden 2:51
Disc 2
1 Mean Old World 3:52
2 Roll It Over 4:31
3 Tell the Truth 3:23
4 It’s Too Late 4:11
5 Got To Get Better In a Little While 6:34
6 Matchbox 3:56
7 Blues Power 6:31
8 Snake Lake Blues 3:34
9 Evil 4:34
10 Mean Old Frisco 4:04
11 One More Chance 3:15
12 Got To Get Better In a Little While 3:45
13 Got To Get Better In a Little While 6:05


Last week I was faked out by the TOP CHEF crew. In previous seasons of TOP CHEF, when the competition got down to three contestants, that was the finale. But, for this All-Stars competition, they changed the rules and are pitting the last two contestants against each ofter. Last week, Antonia was sent home (sorry, Beth). Mike (left, above), crude but talented, takes on neurotic but brilliant Richard (right, above). As you know from last week, I’m hoping Padma (center, above) announces Mike is TOP CHEF tonight, but I’d be satisfied with Richard, too. At this point in the competition, both chefs have proved they are extraordinary.


This five-disk Blu-ray set includes The Hound of the Baskervilles and my favorite: Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. The other twelve Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce movies included on these disks vary in quality. I’m not happy with bringing Sherlock and Watson into the WWII era (like in Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon and Sherlock Holmes and the Voices of Terror. But, these are minor quibbles. This Blu-ray set is well-worth the $79.99 price tag on AMAZON. Obviously, if you’re a hard-core Sherlockian, this collection is a must-buy.
The Hound of the Baskervilles
Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
Sherlock Holmes and the Voices of Terror
Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon

Sherlock Holmes in Washington
Sherlock Holmes Faces Death
The Spider Woman
The Scarlet Claw
The Pearl of Death
The House of Fear
The Woman in Green
Pursuit to Algiers
Terror by Night
Dressed to Kill


No, this is not an economic forecast. This anthology takes classic horror short stories and turns them into graphic stories in the Tales from the Crypt tradition. Stories by Robert Bloch, Richard Matheson, David J. Schow and Paul F. Wilson are adapted by Eduardo Barreto, Toby Cypress, Mike Hoffman, Nat Jones, Ted McKeever, Tony Salmons, and Ashley Wood. In addition, Completely Doomed features the Eisner-nominated “Blood Son” by Ashley Wood and Chris Ryall, based on the Richard Matheson short story. Scott Tipton adapts another Matheson story, “Crickets,” with art by Mike Hoffman. “Slasher,” “Cuts,” and “Masks” by F. Paul Wilson all resonated with me, especially “Masks.” Eduardo Barretto illustrates David J. Schow’s “Blood Rape of the Lust Ghouls,” and Kristian Donaldson adapts Robert Bloch’s “Final Performance.” There’s also a bonus: the book includes a gallery of Doomed magazine covers. Very nice! If you were a fan of Creepy and Eerie you’ll want to check this out. GRADE: B+


Depending on your mood, you’ll either love or hate Young Frankenstein: The Musical. The play follows the plot of the classic Mel Brooks movie. The grandson of Dr. Victor Frankenstein returns to the family castle in Transylvania and embarks on reenacting the experiments that brought corpses to life. There are some silly romantic sub-plots. Dracula shows up. Singing, dancing. I thought the production was pretty vacuous. If you’re in the mood for fluff, you’re in luck. If you want something more, Young Frankenstein: The Musical will disappoint you. This tour company will be in your neighborhood soon. If you want to attend, you should buy tickets soon. Our performance was sold out. GRADE: C+


Mickey Haller (played by Matthew McConaughey) is a criminal defense lawyer whose office is the back seat of his Lincoln Town Car. Haller’s ex-wife, Maggie McPherson (played by Marisa Tomei), figures into the action as does their young daughter. Haller takes on a case involving a wealthy Beverly Hills real estate broker who is accused of attacking a prostitute.  McConaughey’s client insists he was set up as a target of a lucrative civil suit. The plot is complicated and you’ll have to be willing to tolerate large doses of coincidence to accept the case’s resolution. I thought McConaughey was convincing as a slick defense lawyer who knows how to work the criminal justice system. I wish Marisa Tomei was given more to do. Clearly, the door is open for a sequel. GRADE: B+

FORGOTTEN BOOKS #108: THE VALIANT SAILORS By V. A. Stuart (aka, Vivian Stuart)

If you love C. S. Forester and Patrick O’Brian and “sea stories” you’ll enjoy V. A. Stuart’s Philip Hazard series. What makes this series unusual is that V. A. Stuart is actually Vivian Stuart. A woman writing nautical fiction is a bit of a rarity. But I found Stuart’s novels of Philip Hazard’s adventures in the Crimean and the Sepoys in India grand entertainment. Phillip Hazard of the Royal Navy captures the Hornblower excitement. And, if you like The Valiant Sailors, Vivian Stuart wrote seven more Philip Hazard novels just as good. I can recommend them all.
Phillip Hazard Series

1. The Valiant Sailors (1966)
2. The Brave Captains (1968)
3. Black Sea Frigate (1971) aka Hazard’s Command
4. Hazard of Huntress (1972)
5. Victory at Sebastopol (1973) aka Hazard in Circassia
6. Hazard to the Rescue (1974)
7. Guns to the Far East (1975) aka Shannon’s Brigade
8. Escape from Hell (1976) aka Sailors on Horseback


Grant Hill’s Response to Jalen Rose(FROM THE NY TIMES)

“The Fab Five,” an ESPN film about the Michigan basketball careers of Jalen Rose, Juwan Howard, Chris Webber, Jimmy King and Ray Jackson from 1991 to 1993, was broadcast for the first time Sunday night. In the show, Rose, the show’s executive producer, stated that Duke recruited only black players he considered to be “Uncle Toms.” Grant Hill, a player on the Duke team that beat Michigan in the 1992 Final Four, reflected on Rose’s comments.

I am a fan, friend and longtime competitor of the Fab Five. I have competed against Jalen Rose and Chris Webber since the age of 13. At Michigan, the Fab Five represented a cultural phenomenon that impacted the country in a permanent and positive way. The very idea of the Fab Five elicited pride and promise in much the same way the Georgetown teams did in the mid-1980s when I was in high school and idolized them. Their journey from youthful icons to successful men today is a road map for so many young, black men (and women) who saw their journey through the powerful documentary, “The Fab Five.”

It was a sad and somewhat pathetic turn of events, therefore, to see friends narrating this interesting documentary about their moment in time and calling me a bitch and worse, calling all black players at Duke “Uncle Toms” and, to some degree, disparaging my parents for their education, work ethic and commitment to each other and to me. I should have guessed there was something regrettable in the documentary when I received a Twitter apology from Jalen before its premiere. I am aware Jalen has gone to some length to explain his remarks about my family in numerous interviews, so I believe he has some admiration for them.

In his garbled but sweeping comment that Duke recruits only “black players that were ‘Uncle Toms,’ ” Jalen seems to change the usual meaning of those very vitriolic words into his own meaning, i.e., blacks from two-parent, middle-class families. He leaves us all guessing exactly what he believes today.

I am beyond fortunate to have two parents who are still working well into their 60s. They received great educations and use them every day. My parents taught me a personal ethic I try to live by and pass on to my children.

I come from a strong legacy of black Americans. My namesake, Henry Hill, my father’s father, was a day laborer in Baltimore. He could not read or write until he was taught to do so by my grandmother. His first present to my dad was a set of encyclopedias, which I now have. He wanted his only child, my father, to have a good education, so he made numerous sacrifices to see that he got an education, including attending Yale.

This is part of our great tradition as black Americans. We aspire for the best or better for our children and work hard to make that happen for them. Jalen’s mother is part of our great black tradition and made the same sacrifices for him.

My teammates at Duke — all of them, black and white — were a band of brothers who came together to play at the highest level for the best coach in basketball. I know most of the black players who preceded and followed me at Duke. They all contribute to our tradition of excellence on the court.

It is insulting and ignorant to suggest that men like Johnny Dawkins (coach at Stanford), Tommy Amaker (coach at Harvard), Billy King (general manager of the Nets), Tony Lang (coach of the Mitsubishi Diamond Dolphins in Japan), Thomas Hill (small-business owner in Texas), Jeff Capel (former coach at Oklahoma and Virginia Commonwealth), Kenny Blakeney (assistant coach at Harvard), Jay Williams (ESPN analyst), Shane Battier (Memphis Grizzlies) and Chris Duhon (Orlando Magic) ever sold out their race.

To hint that those who grew up in a household with a mother and father are somehow less black than those who did not is beyond ridiculous. All of us are extremely proud of the current Duke team, especially Nolan Smith. He was raised by his mother, plays in memory of his late father and carries himself with the pride and confidence that they instilled in him.

The sacrifice, the effort, the education and the friendships I experienced in my four years are cherished. The many Duke graduates I have met around the world are also my “family,” and they are a special group of people. A good education is a privilege.

Just as Jalen has founded a charter school in Michigan, we are expected to use our education to help others, to improve life for those who need our assistance and to use the excellent education we have received to better the world.

A highlight of my time at Duke was getting to know the great John Hope Franklin, James B. Duke Professor of History and the leading scholar of the last century on the total history of African-Americans in this country. His insights and perspectives contributed significantly to my overall development and helped me understand myself, my forefathers and my place in the world.

Ad ingenium faciendum, toward the building of character, is a phrase I recently heard. To me, it is the essence of an educational experience. Struggling, succeeding, trying again and having fun within a nurturing but competitive environment built character in all of us, including every black graduate of Duke.

My mother always says, “You can live without Chaucer and you can live without calculus, but you cannot make it in the wide, wide world without common sense.” As we get older, we understand the importance of these words. Adulthood is nothing but a series of choices: you can say yes or no, but you cannot avoid saying one or the other. In the end, those who are successful are those who adjust and adapt to the decisions they have made and make the best of them.

I caution my fabulous five friends to avoid stereotyping me and others they do not know in much the same way so many people stereotyped them back then for their appearance and swagger. I wish for you the restoration of the bond that made you friends, brothers and icons.

I am proud of my family. I am proud of my Duke championships and all my Duke teammates. And, I am proud I never lost a game against the Fab Five.

Grant Henry Hill
Phoenix Suns
Duke ‘94


Tonight on BRAVO (10 P.M. EDT) the final contestants for the title of TOP CHEF (and $200,000) will face off in the season finale. Richard (Season 4 Runner-up, top left) is the most gifted (but neurotic) chef. Antonia (Season 4 fourth place finish, top right) is excellent, but within a limited range of menus. Mike (Season 6, finished 7th, middle) resembles Homer Simpson: crude, clownish, and surprisingly talented. But, Mike has grown on me during this competition. He’s had a troubled past, struggled to perfect his craft, and has displayed an indomitable attitude in this arena. All three superb chefs will be vying for the prize tonight. I’ll be watching and listening for the lovely Padma (bottom) to announce: “Mike, you’re TOP CHEF!”

FINISHING THE HAT: COLLECTED LYRICS (1954-1981) By Stephen Sondheim

Bruce Taylor once charged Stephen Sondheim with the death of the Broadway musical. I don’t know about that, but I do know that Sondheim wrote one of my favorite songs: “Send in the Clowns” from A Little Night Music. Finishing the Hat: Collected Lyrics (1954-1981) with Attendant Comments, Principles, Heresies, Grudges, Whines and Anecdotes is both Sondheim’s quirky memoir and a textbook to writing songs for Broadway musicals. If you’re at all interested in how West Side Story, Gypsy, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Company, A Little Night Music, and Sweeny Todd were made along with plenty of background information on the principals in the productions, you’re going to love this book.

I found Sondheim’s approach opinionated and unique. He takes you behind the curtain to see how producers, directors, stars, and even the guys who write “the Book” operate. I found Finishing the Hat fascinating. Love Sondheim or hate him, he certainly has a lot of acerbic insights about the craft of song writing and the state of musical theater in America. GRADE: A