Monday, March 28, 2011

Haslam's Budget Would Cut the TSLA's Hours by Over a Third

Posted By on Mon, Mar 28, 2011 at 10:35 AM

The Tennessee State Library and Archives tree is open 24/7/365 days a year. Just watch out for dog poop.
  • The Tennessee State Library and Archives tree is open 24/7/365 days a year. Just watch out for dog poop.
I'll admit right up front that I am a super-fan of the Tennessee State Library and Archives. I don't just love the materials they have and the ease with which I can access them. I love the big long wooden tables. I adore how helpful the staff is. I like hearing the ghost stories associated with the building. I love listening to the guard who sits at the front desk as he shoots the breeze with patrons more regular than I. My nerdy devotion to the TSLA is so out of control that I even have a tree in my yard named The Tennessee State Library and Archives. I consider this to be no stranger than UT graduates who are my age who have kids named Peyton. You don't judge me, I won't judge you.

So you can imagine my alarm when I learned the Governor's budget proposes slashing the TSLA's operating hours by over a third and reducing the staff by seven. As Mark Cheathem says over at his blog, "Cutting the accessible hours by 38 percent and removing staff members who know the TSLA resources the best is a slap in the face of those who study the state’s history."

In the governor's budget proposal, it says, "Abolish seven filled positions by reducing the public service hours at the Tennessee State Library and Archives to 37.5 hours per week. Currently, the public has access to the building 60 hours per week."

Well, damn straight we have a lot of access to the building. That's our stuff. The public should have a lot of access to it.

When a state with as rich a history as Tennessee has, with a state library and archives as awesome as ours, filled with maps, pictures, letters, journals, and the memories and knowledge of the people of our state, is proposing a steep increase in the amount of time that history stays locked away and inaccessible to the people to whom it belongs, something is seriously wrong.

Not budgetarily but philosophically.

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Borders Switches Plans: La Vergne Distribution Center to Remain Open

Posted By on Mon, Mar 28, 2011 at 5:37 AM

Just before the weekend, WSMV reported that Borders sent an email to their La Vergne employees saying the distribution center would remain open for the foreseeable future.

This is a bright spot in what has otherwise been a never-ending cascade of dismal Borders' news for Tennessee.

What does it mean, though? Who the heck knows? The "foreseeable future" could be next week, for all the turmoil the publishing industry is in.

But, hey, for now, those people in LaVergne still have jobs. And that's something worth celebrating.

Continue reading »

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Pick of the Day: Deliverance at The Belcourt

Posted By on Mon, Mar 28, 2011 at 5:06 AM

Tonight marks the last night for one of the most famous — or infamous — movies in The Belcourt's "Visions of the South" series. In this week's Scene, Craig D. Lindsey digs into the reasons why John Boorman's film version of the James Dickey novel Deliverance traumatized a generation of moviegoers:

Deliverance's rape scene — an oft-referenced, oft-sampled, oft-parodied linchpin of popular culture — embodied a sort of PBS nightmare about the rabid underside of the old weird America. Not to mention that the movie's tourist-style gawking (play that banjo, you inbred-looking freak!) didn't exactly do wonders for the South's image. It was bad enough that Southerners were generally perceived as ignorant, racist rednecks. But after Deliverance, they were also seen as ignorant, racist redneck rapists.

So, um, why the hell is the Belcourt playing this movie as part of its "Visions of the South" series? ... Violation is a common thread in The Belcourt series, from the TVA forced-relocation drama Wild River to the hillbillies-from-hell gore movie Two Thousand Maniacs! It's a potent theme in the vanquished South, where in some quarters old times are still neither forgotten nor forgiven — but in Deliverance, it's more than metaphorical.

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Friday, March 25, 2011

Flipping Channels: Eat Your Heart Out, Joan Crawford — Kate Winslet is Mildred Pierce

Posted By on Fri, Mar 25, 2011 at 9:11 AM

Even though the notion of a separation between film and TV actors has long since vanished, there's still an elite group of performers who seldom appear on the small screen for anything other than awards specials and plugging movies on talk shows. Acclaimed actress Kate Winslet may have gotten her start in BBC productions, but she's spent virtually her entire career in quality movies, among them The Reader (Oscar winning performance), Sense and Sensibility, Quills, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Revolutionary Road and of course Titanic. She's also the youngest person to earn six Oscar nominations and has also won Screen Actors Guild, British Academy of Film and Television and Golden Globe awards.

Winslet's presence is the main attraction of HBO's miniseries Mildred Pierce, which debuts Sunday night at 8 p.m. and continues over the next two Sundays (five hours). Though Joan Crawford won an Oscar for her portrayal in 1945, that version avoided most of the ugly situations and events depicted in James M. Cain's novel. That won't be the case this time. Director Todd Haynes is bringing the identical heavy-duty soap-opera flourishes to this new Mildred Pierce he utilized on his Douglas Sirk homage Far From Heaven.

The ugliness and unrelenting poverty of the Depression era won't be softened as viewers follow the exploits of Pierce, who struggles to start a chain of restaurants while trying to keep a family together. She's also in an emotional tug-of-war with daughter Veda (Evan Rachel Wood), whose greed is exceeded only by her nastiness and bad attitude. Pierce also gets ensnared in a relationship with unsavory Monty (Guy Pearce), a con man and polo player.

Continue reading »

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Fury Brewing Over Mary Catherine Bradshaw's Ouster at Hillsboro High

Posted By on Fri, Mar 25, 2011 at 5:39 AM

In The City Paper, Brantley Hargrove has some more details on a meltdown in the making: the ouster of Mary Catherine Bradshaw, one of the most respected teachers in the Metro public school system, from her post as head of Hillsboro High's International Baccalaureate program. The lack of any explanation by school officials has left infuriated parents to speculate if MNPS means to reduce the quality of a Hillsboro education to glorified vocational training:

According to those close to the teacher, Bradshaw will be transferred to another school by the end of the semester. Metro schools’ news release doesn't give any reason. It only notes that the teacher will continue on with the school district.

But consult the Facebook page with nearly 1,300 members as of this writing — primarily friends and grateful current and former students — and theories abound.

Sources familiar with the situation say Bradshaw was approached during spring break by Hillsboro High principal Terry Shrader, who told her she'd be “happier” at another school. Neither Shrader nor associate superintendent for high schools Jay Steele responded to interview requests.

That Facebook number — which you can access at the Burros for Bradshaw page — may well hit 1,500 by morning. As some have noted elsewhere, it's perhaps a tribute to Bradshaw's 27 years of influence that the comments are unusually thoughtful, well written and grammatically correct. And there are signs the story is going national.

Parents are suggesting this seems an odd way to lure students back to MNPS from private schools and neighboring Williamson County. Meanwhile, a commenter at The Tennessean puts the situation in black-humored perspective, given the recent treatment of teachers in legislative houses across the country (including our own):

"Who needs tenure or unions......"

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Pick of the Day: The 39 Steps at TPAC

Posted By on Fri, Mar 25, 2011 at 5:06 AM

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Alfred Hitchcock's The 39 Steps presented by Tennessee Rep
Where: Johnson Theater, TPAC
When: Through April 2
$55

I've had terrific luck with local theater recently. Two weekends ago I caught one of Blackbird Theater's last performances of Tom Stoppard's brilliant Arcadia, a play I'd wanted to see for about 15 years. The exciting thing was watching a local cast — a mix of actors I've always enjoyed, such as Denice Hicks, and excellent new-to-me faces such as Jeff Boyet and Wes Driver — step up to meet its challenges, thus saving me a ticket to New York to catch the current Broadway revival.

After reading Martin Brady's review in this week's Scene, I saw The Rep's production of The 39 Steps last night, and it was pure delight — a dizzying burlesque of the 1935 Hitchcock thriller, performed by a quartet of (sometimes literally) somersaulting farceurs. Three sequences in particular made me laugh harder than anything I've seen onstage in many years: a furious quick-change routine for inventive supporting players Peter Vann and Patrick Waller aboard a depot platform; a wonderful chase atop a moving train staged with a couple of versatile trunks and some well-deployed fog; and a piece of shadow puppetry so blissfully silly my little girl and I were still giggling about it on the way home. And Nate Eppler and Martha Wilkinson make a swell Harvey Korman and Carol Burnett — they're like a week of TCM given human form.

Martin's review pretty much nails it:

In fact, with the sole exception of about a two-minute lag in Act 2, the entire enterprise is a slam-dunk success. Besides negotiating complex blocking and rapid-fire dialogue that must simultaneously advance the plot and evoke chuckles, [René] Copeland's deft staging also pays gratifying tribute to Hitchcock. This comes in various ways, including occasional banks of fog, Paul Carrol Binkley's sound design (which interpolates some of composer Bernard Herrmann's familiar string motifs into the underscoring), a verbal nod to The Man Who Knew Too Much, plus clever silhouetted references to North by Northwest. And yes, the master himself puts in an "appearance," as he almost always did in his vastly entertaining flicks.

As homage, this 39 Steps is on the money. As theater, it's precise, sharply executed, often hilarious and always rewarding.

Miss this, and you deserve the same fate as the poor schmoe who carries a perchload of crows across the stage.

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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Dread: What's Coming on Your Radio

Posted By on Thu, Mar 24, 2011 at 1:15 PM

Nashville's own McLaughlin Group, or The Howard Stern Show with less hair? Whatever the case, Middle Tennessee's airwaves are no longer safe as former Metro Councilman, attorney, stand-up comic and back-in-the-day WRVU/Radio Lightning dee-jay Adam Dread returns to the radio. Starting April 3, his hour-long call-in show Lawyers, Guns, and Money with Adam Dread launches at 9 p.m. Sundays on 1510 WLAC-AM.

Guests for the first show include attorney Rob McKinney, businessman Jimmy Lewis, former councilman Ludye “On Duty” Wallace and golf pro Mike Wine. As for content — which the press release says will include anything from prize giveaways to celebrity harassment — Dread vows, "I'll make Charlie Sheen look like Amy Grant!" Only a fool would doubt him.

To join in, raise important issues about the day's events, or ask for Heywood Jablomi or Amanda Huggenkiss, call (615) 737-WLAC.

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Ladies, Make Your Man Happy! Sign Up for Vanderbilt's "Football 101 for Women" Clinic!

Posted By on Thu, Mar 24, 2011 at 10:45 AM

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Ladies, do you get frustrated when your man and his buddies sit around Saturday afternoon watching college football — and all you can do is make the sandwiches and try to look pretty for them while you come in to refresh their beer supply?

Well, your local university (and SEC powerhouse) Vanderbilt is here to help! In what may be one of the greatest steps forward for the weaker sex since the women's suffrage movement, the Vanderbilt athletics department is offering VUFB 101: 2011 Vanderbilt Football Women's Clinic!

That's right! According to the press release on Vanderbilt's website, "VUFB 101 is specifically designed for Vanderbilt's female fans to learn the basics of college football and become the most knowledgeable fans in the country." Awwwww!

The clinic will include presentations on:

• Offensive & Defensive Strategies
• Team Equipment
• Strength & Conditioning
• Football Rules

Participants can also observe one of Vanderbilt's spring football practices and attend a Q& A with Vanderbilt Head Football Coach James Franklin.

Participants will receive:

• Clinic gifts
• Door prizes
• Certificate of completion
• Lunch in the nation's best training table with Chef Majid "Magic" Noori
• A photo with Vanderbilt Head Football Coach James Franklin

And, remember ladies, as the press release states, "Please wear comfortable clothing and shoes to this event." We know you want to look good for the boys on the field, so maybe just split the difference between comfortable and totally hot.

Continue reading »

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Remembering Aashid Himons, 1942-2011

Posted By on Thu, Mar 24, 2011 at 9:02 AM

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In this week's Scene, Daryl Sanders recounts the life and ever-changing career of one of the city's most colorful music figures, the late Aashid Himons, who died Saturday at VUMC after a long bout with diabetes and vascular disease.

A dreadlocked giant with wide-ranging talent and great reserves of charm, Himons had been a child prodigy in the 1940s, a doo-wop vocalist in the ’50s, a soul singer in the ’60s and a bluesman in the ’70s before having an epiphany late that decade at a Bob Marley concert. The reggae group that resulted, Afrikan Dreamland, was one of the seminal indie bands on Nashville's club scene. Sanders, a longtime observer of the city's clubs, sets the scene:

To say that Afrikan Dreamland stood out, even among Nashville's burgeoning punk and college-radio scene of the early 1980s, is beyond understatement. Fueled by a high-stamina live show, they soon became one of the city's most popular acts, drawing large, enthusiastic crowds who danced nonstop to the group's irie rhythms. Before disbanding in 1987, they became the first American reggae group to get a video on MTV ("Television Dreams" in 1984) as well as the first Nashville-based act to release a video album (Apartheid Kills in 1985). They were also the first act in the city to mix drum machines with live drums.

But of course, nothing topped the spectacle of a larger-than-life reggae-soul shaman before throngs of adoring Vandy frat kids. A new day had dawned in Music City.

It's a piece that'll probably have a lot of people agreeing with veteran music scribe Robert K. Oermann's assessment: "They made me proud to be a Nashvillian."

UPDATE: Here's the link Nashville Jumps host Pete Wilson posted on the Nashville Cream thread, which will let you hear a rare 1960s R&B side Himons recorded under his "Little Archie" moniker.

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Pick of the Day: Mee-Ow at Bongo After Hours Theatre

Posted By on Thu, Mar 24, 2011 at 5:10 AM

Mee-Ow!
  • Mee-Ow!
Mee-Ow, Northwestern University's improv and sketch comedy group
Where: Bongo After Hours Theatre
When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 24

It’s a small world, the saying goes, and the circumstances that bring Mee-Ow, Northwestern University’s highly regarded improv and sketch comedy troupe, to Bongo After Hours Theatre tonight seem to prove it.

It all started with comedian and Curb Your Enthusiasm star Jeff Garlin, who was in Chicago, developing a new TV show with actress Gina Gershon. (Curb fans will recall that Gershon had a hilarious turn on the show as a libidinous Orthodox Jewish dry cleaner.) Gershon told Garlin she was going to see her nephew perform at Northwestern, so the man known to millions of HBO subscribers as "fat fuck" tagged along.

Garlin loved what he saw, and invited Mee-Ow to perform in February at the Traverse City (Mich.) Comedy Arts Festival, an event he co-founded with Michael Moore. Meanwhile, Gershon’s sister Tracy Gershon, a Nashville music business veteran and former Nashville Star judge, went to the festival because her son, Sam Fishell, is a member of Mee-Ow. Tracy told Garlin she wanted to bring Mee-Ow to Nashville, and Garlin mentioned that he had a friend with a theater here: Ken Bernstein, who runs Bongo After Hours, worked at Second City with Garlin and was his manager before the comedian moved to Los Angeles. In fact, Garlin called Bernstein personally to book the show.

Enough backstory. The point is, if Jeff Garlin thinks these folks are hilarious, that’s all the recommendation we need. More about Mee-Ow, from the press release, after the jump. ...

Continue reading »

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