Checotah product Carrie Underwood will become part of the trend of young country music stars joining the Grand Ole Opry when she is inducted into the venerable Nashville institution.
Her official induction will take place May 10. She was invited to join last Saturday during an Opry-related performance. You can watch her get the invitation by clicking here.
In the past few years, the Opry, which was established in 1925, has made it a point to include young country artists. Hitmaker Brad Paisley was the Opry’s youngest current member when he was inducted in February 2001. Dierks Bentley took that title when he joined on Oct. 1, 2005.
Josh Turner became the latest youngster added on Oct. 27, 2007, when Oklahoma native Vince Gill inducted him. Turner was still about a month shy of his 30th birthday at the time.
Carrie’s invite capped the week of her 25th birthday, which Opry member Randy Travis alluded to when extending the offer. The invite came during her appearance on “Opry Live!” on the country music video channel Great American Country. She performed Travis’ hit “I Told You So,” which is on her sophomore album, “Carnival Ride.”
Before extending the invitation, Travis congratulated Carrie on topping the country charts with her latest single, “All-American Girl,” also from “Carnival Ride.”
“To end your birthday week, I was asked by the management here at the Grand Ole Opry to come out here and ask you if you would like to be their next member,” Travis told her.
She playfully said, “Let me think about it,” and then immediately said yes, while wiping tears from her eyes.
Before launching into her song “Crazy Dreams,” she told the audience, “This is one of the best nights of my life, and it’s certainly something I’ll never forget. And I’m glad each and every one of you were here to share it with me. This has been absolutely amazing!”
The Opry is the longest continously running radio show in the country, according to an Associated Press story. It airs Friday and Saturday nights on WSM-AM.
Artists are invited to join based on their commitment to the show, the frequency of their guest appearances and their overall contribution to country music, according to AP.
Carrie first appeared on the Grand Ole Opry on June 10, 2005, two weeks after winning “American Idol.”
For more information, go online to www.opry.com.
As spring break winds down, parents looking for one more way to keep the kiddos occupied might check out Science Museum Oklahoma (formerly the Omniplex).
The museum is offering extended hours in response to record crowds. More than 15,000 people have visited the museum since last Saturday, more than double compared to the same time frame last year.
The museum will be open an extra hour today, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
It will resume normal hours on Saturday. Saturday hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sunday hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
For more information, call 602-6664 or go online to www.sciencemuseumok.org.
According to the Web site, ticket sales to the special exhibit “Our Body: The Universe Within” end one hour before museum closing.
While I was homebound earlier this week with a stubborn upper respiratory infection, Blockbuster, via the U.S. Postal Service, delivered my promised copy of “Darby O’Gill and the Little People.” I laid off the heavy decongestants for a few hours so that I could fulfill my St. Patrick’s Day vow to watch this 1959 Disney tale of a leprechaun king, a banshee and a dentally-challenged codger.
My suspicions and hopes proved correct: “Darby O’Gill” got trailer trashed. While all the scenes from the trailer appear in the movie (apparently, the in-the-trailer-but-not-the-movie switcheroo is a more modern phenomenon), the preview is cut in such a way to make the story appear freaky rather than charming.
And old-fashioned Irish charm is just what “Darby O’Gill” has in spades. The movie stars Albert Sharpe as the titular character, an old rascal who spends his days spinning stories about leprechauns in the pub in the hamlet of Rathcullen. He is supposed to work as the keeper of the Lord Fitzpatrick’s (Walter Fitzgerald) country manor, but he leaves much of the work to his sweet-natured but independently minded daughter, Katie (Janet Munro).
When his lordship makes a surprise visit, he brings bad news for Darby: He is officially retiring his aging employee and replacing him with young Dublin man Michael McBride (Sean Connery in one of his earliest film roles). Darby and Katie will have to leave their fine home in the manor’s gatehouse for a more humble cottage, and they will have to get by on half of Darby’s salary.
Darby convinces the lord and Michael to let him break the news to Katie, and he puts off this unpleasant business, hoping a solution to their new money problems will come up. While chasing his ornery horse that night through the hills outside of town, Darby falls into a well and lands in the realm of leprechaun King Brian Connors.
It turns out that Darby’s seemingly tall tales of little people actually are true: He and King Brian are longtime friends/adversaries. Sympathizing with Darby’s plight, the king took the liberty of luring him into the leprechaun kingdom with plans to make him a permanent resident.
But Darby doesn’t want to leave his daughter behind, so he uses his wily brain and prodigious fiddling skills to trick the leprechauns into leaving him unattended. Darby goes back home, but King Brian soon confronts him, angry at being fooled.
The old man and immortal leprechaun engage in another battle of wits, and Darby gains the prize of three wishes from the king. He uses his first to keep the leprechaun at his side until all three wishes are granted, and the feisty leprechaun tricks him into wasting the second.
Meanwhile, sparks are flying between Katie and Michael, and Darby and King Brian do everything they can to fan the flames. Darby figures if his daughter marries Michael, she will be taken care of and can stay in the gatehouse. But Michael has a rival in local bully Pony Sugrue (Kieron Moore), who has his eye on both Katie and Michael’s job.
Naturally, Katie finds out about her father’s forced retirement and Michael’s succession. Showing some fiery Irish temper, she storms off into the hills on a blustery night and is badly injured.
Darby sees the banshee, herald of death, and predicts that his daughter will not recover. Desperate to save her, he uses his third wish to take Katie’s place on the death coach. But King Brian has a plan to save his buddy and guarantee a happy ending.
The movie features an engaging story, interesting characters and strong acting. The special effects are surprisingly good for a 1950s production. Amazing matte paintings help give the sound stages and California locations a convincing Irish pastoral look. The ghostly glow of the banshee and death coach is pretty old-school, but effectively creepy. And the filmmakers used the same forced perspective technique to make the leprechauns appear tiny that Peter Jackson and Co. later used for the hobbits in the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy.
The DVD includes a behind-the-scenes featurette on the effects, a recent interview with Connery and the TV feature/marketing stunt Walt Disney created in which he claimed that he actually captured the leprechaun king for the movie. (The movie even includes a thank you to King Brian at the beginning to continue the illusion.)
All the aspects of the trailer that freaked me out as a child, from the speed-dancing leprechauns to Darby’s gross teeth to Connery’s prodigious eyebrows all worked for me in the context of the film.
“Darby O’Gill” isn’t my favorite Disney movie (still a toss-up between “Dumbo” and “Beauty and the Beast”), but it might just become a new St. Patrick’s Day tradition for me, along with green attire and corned beef and cabbage.
Gabe the Babe (now 15 months, 4 weeks old for those keeping track) and I visited the Oklahoma City Museum of Art this evening for the public opening of the special exhibition “Brett Weston: Out of the Shadow.”
In doing the preview coverage (the story, events listing and video interview also are here on BAM’s Blog), I had seen a glimpse of Weston’s black and white, often abstract images. You can see a slideshow of a few of the photos by clicking here.
But don’t let this peek prevent you from seeing the show in person. I wasn’t prepared for how much more powerful and evocative they would be in their larger sizes and in the ideal gallery setting, with nothing to distract from Weston’s unique vision. I spent more than an hour, studying the stunning silver gelatin prints.
The exhibit is arranged in roughly chronological order, starting with Weston’s early images in the 1920s, through his 1980 photos of underwater nudes and Hawaiian plants. (Weston died in 1993, but many of his later images aren’t available to us. In 1991, concerned for his legacy, Weston destroyed many of his negatives to keep others from printing them, according to the exhibit.)
But some of the most interesting groupings in the exhibit match earlier photos with later works, allowing viewers to see what aspects of his style changed and what aspects remained constant. One example is his dark and angular “Rock Wall” from 1970, shown with “Rock Formation, Carmel,” a 1939 photo that is lighter and more in the midtone range, with rounder shapes.
Viewing the 136 exhibited photos, it becomes clear that Weston’s creative spark flamed no matter where his life took him, from the New Mexican desert and Oceano, Calif., dunes to New York City neighborhoods and Alaskan glaciers.
Using his trademark close-up cropping, he highlights the intricate patterns in broken glass and cracked plastic paint, in cut wood and cracked mud, in rock formations and broad leaves. His New York cityscapes give unusual views of the sides of buildings, doorways and wrought iron railings, while his San Francisco images often couple views of buildings with natural wonders such as billowy cloud formations and graceful shorelines.
He revealed his fascination with reflections throughout his career, from photos of criss-crossing reflections on glass buildings to his eerily lovely underwater nudes to his numerous images of light-kissed water. The striking reflections make two of his most famous images, “Mendenhall Glacier, Alaska (1973)” and “Holland Canal (1971),” stand out; these photos are definitely worth seeing large and up close.
Weston’s Oceano dunes series also proves worthy of its considerable acclaim. The group of these strong, abstracted photos of rippling, rolling sand mesmerize the eye.
Perhaps most impressive, the exhibit demonstrates the photographer’s gift for provoking an emotional response with his artwork, especially his nature images. In one arrangement, a weeping willow in Oregon seems almost frightening, a sunlit tree conveys a feeling of peace, and a tree in a rocky canyon invokes a sense of lonely isolation.
While admittedly not the most colorful exhibit the museum has ever shown, “Brett Weston: Out of the Shadow” goes down as one of my favorites, and I’m already planning to see it again. Don’t miss it; it will be at the museum through May 18.
In addition, the exhibit catalogue is one of the most breathtaking the museum has produced. It is a bit smaller than the others, but Weston’s photos take up most of the pages. It also includes photos by his contemporaries and his famous father, Edward Weston.
By the way, Gabe has accompanied me to every special exhibit at the museum since this time last year. He, his stroller and I are usually fixtures at the members previews, which take place the night before the exhibits open to the public. But we were both home sick this time, so we checked it out on opening day instead. Gabe prefers more color in his artwork, but he was patient with my fascination with Weston’s black and white photos.
A catchy quote from a movie, television show or other source to brighten the beginning of your week (and in this case, to wish you a happy St. Patrick’s Day):
Mickey: Ah, save your breath for cooling your porridge. Now, look … (begins to ramble incoherently) Right. And she’s terribly partial to the periwinkle blue, boss. Have I made myself clear, lads?
Turkish: Yeah, that’s perfectly clear, Mickey. Just give me one minute to confer with my colleague.
Turkish (to Tommy): Did you understand a single word of what he just said?
-Click here to learn the source.
Except for the occasional party animal vowing to drink as much green beer as humanly possible, most people don’t typically make resolutions for St. Patrick’s Day. However, this year I am on a mission to face a childhood fear.
When my sister and I were children, one of our favorite holiday movies was “A Walt Disney Christmas,” which we were known to watch repeatedly months after the Christmas tree came down. But the downside of viewing these wonderful animated vignettes was the post-feature preview for “Darby O’Gill and the Little People.”
I guess maybe I wasn’t tall enough to reach the VCR’s stop button or old enough to be entrusted with a remote control. Or maybe I was just a movie masochist. But I remember repeatedly watching the trailer for the 1959 live-action Disney film in creeped-out horror.
The inordinately long preview boasted plenty of freak-out factors for a youngster. Elderly star Albert Sharpe had grotty teeth that looked like they could be home to worms or other creepy-crawlers. Sean Connery, whom I normally liked even has a kid, boasted thick black eyebrows that resembled snakes. The movie included more traditionally eerie highlights, such as a screaming banshee, a ghostly death coach and an evanescent horse trying to kick Darby.
But the creepiest part was the scene in which Darby O’Gill plays the fiddle while a horde of leprechauns dances wildly around him. The footage seems sped up to give the leprechauns a more sprightly air, but the results just made my skin crawl.
With St. Patrick Day approaching, I got my husband to find a copy of the trailer on YouTube the other day. You can view it yourself by clicking on this link; the “Darby O’Gill” preview is about two minutes into the block of trailers on 1981′s “Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.”
Like many things that freak us out when we’re children, the trailer wasn’t nearly as scary as I remembered. I actually decided to do something that I never would have considered as a wee lass: watch “Darby O’Gill and the Little People.”
The film is at the top of my Blockbuster queue, and I anticipate receiving it any day. Once I watch Darby’s adventures with leprechauns, banshees and Sean Connery’s eyebrows, I’m sure I’ll be able to put this shameful chapter of my childhood behind me.
In celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, permit me to recommend two Academy Award-winning movies - an oldie and a newbie - in which Ireland herself plays a starring role.
The country classic:
- “The Quiet Man” (1952)
Legendary director John Ford won the last of his record four Oscars for this romantic comedy-drama, which also earned an Academy Award for best color cinematography. Additionally, it was nominated for best picture, best screenplay, best color art/set direction, best sound recording and best supporting actor for Victor McLaglen. It also is one of my all-time favorite movies.
Most of the film’s exteriors actually were shot in Ireland, near the hamlet of Cong, which was unusual back in the day. With the gorgeous emerald-hued hills, the quaint thatched cottages and the ruggedly beautiful beach in the famed horserace scene, Ireland never looked more peaceful and lovely.
Devastated by a tragedy inside the ring, Irish-born and American-bred boxer Sean Thornton (Ford fave John Wayne) is looking for peace when he moves from Pittsburgh to his birthplace, the tiny village of Innisfree.
Shortly after returing to Ireland, he falls in love with fiery redhead Mary Kate Danaher (Maureen O’Hara). Mary Kate has been relegated to spinsterhood because her bullying brother, Squire “Red” Will Danaher (McLaglen) has staunchily refused to pay the traditional dowery.
Sean isn’t hung up on such customs and gets the town matchmaker, Michaleen Oge Flynn (Barry Fitzgerald) to inquire about a possible courtship. But Sean has already locked horns with Danaher, so the squire refuses. Michaleen, the local parish priest (Ward Bond) and protestant vicar (Arthur Shields) conspire to convince the squire to let his sister marry Sean.
The wedding goes off, but Danaher learns of the conspiracy. He refuses to give the dowery, which becomes a point of shame for Mary Kate. Sean must decide whether to break his vow never to fight again.
“The Quiet Man” is an absolute cinematic gem, with memorable moments of both humor and drama, plus one of the most elaborate fight scenes ever filmed. The acting is superb across the board, and the chemistry between O’Hara and Wayne – who were paired in several other films – is terrific.
The city newcomer:
- “Once” (2007)
One of my favorite movies of last year, “Once” deserved and won the best original song Oscar for “Falling Slowly.” This small-budget indie was filmed in the parts of Dublin that tourists rarely see, and the movie alternately crackles with its urban electricity and bears the ponderous weight of the poorer parts of the city.
The modern-day musical tells a simple but memorable story that is refreshingly free of cliches. It centers on the guy (The Frames’ frontman Glen Hansard), a street musician and vacuum cleaner repairman. He meets the girl (Marketa Irglova) one night when she starts asking him questions during his performance.
The girl is an Eastern European immigrant who has left her husband and works as a domestic to support her mother and young daughter. But she also is a classically trained pianist, who keeps in top form by practicing in a local music shop.
The guy and girl begin to make beautiful music together, and they seemed destined for romance. But the guy is still in love with his girlfriend, who recently moved to London after a rocky patch in their relationship. And the girl doesn’t know what will become of her marriage. Will their duet extend beyond playing and singing together? Or will they go their separate ways?
Both movies are perfect for St. Patrick’s Day cuddling with your sweetie. Since it’s the one day of the year that everyone’s Irish, don’t forget the kisses.
- “Good Morning After All,” Collective Soul (from the 2007 album “Afterwords”).
With their smart lyrics, melodious songs and snazzily layered guitar riffs, these Georgia rockers are among my all-time favorite bands.
And if you’re having one of those weeks when, say, you’re crazy-busy at work and you and your family get your third upper-respiratory infection of the germiest winter on record, this soothingly catchy song is the perfect pick-me-upper.
Ed Roland’s encouraging lyrics about getting through tough times with faith, hope and perseverance are balm for a frazzled soul.
Madonna and John Mellencamp are the headliners of the 2008 inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, who were given the keys to the kingdom earlier this week.
My reaction to this would best be described as “Um, what?” Since when do Madonna or Mellencamp make rock music? Although their music and styles are drastically different, I would put both honorees firmly in the pop category.
From “Like a Virgin” and “Like a Prayer” to “Lucky Star” and “Ray of Light,” I don’t hear a rock song in Madonna oeuvre. And Mellencamp can sing “R.O.C.K. in the USA” all he wants, but his most famous song, “Jack and Diane,” features the percussive powerhouse of … people sedately clapping. Yeah, you can rock out to that.
Perhaps some articulate soul out there is pointing out that rock and pop are closely related genres that often influence one another. That person may further point out that part of the enduring strength of rock ‘n’ roll is its ability to morph as it absorbs other influences.
Since sticking my tongue out is an immature response to such reasoned argument (and you couldn’t see me do it anyway), I counter with this: Do you realize how many deserving artists are not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?
What started out as an offhand comment that there were surely more deserving – not to mention more clearcut – candidates, turned into continual cry of “how did he/she/they not make it?” And my list of the “top 10 artists who deserve to be in the rock hall but aren’t” ballooned to 15.
Whether you agree or disagree with my choices – I’m sure I’ll probably forget one or more obvious snubs - feel free to share your own picks in the comments.
1. Wanda Jackson: She is widely acknowledged as the first female rock ‘n’ roll singer and the “Queen of Rockabilly.” She’s 70 and still performing. Elvis Costello has personally endorsed for the rock hall. What does she have to do, date Elvis Presley? Wait, she already did that, too, back in the day.
2. Metallica: “Kill ‘Em All” came out in ’83, so according to my calculations, Lars, James, Kirk and their various bassists became eligible this year. They deserved first-year induction for the tiny contribution of introducing metal to the mainstream.
3. Steppenwolf: John Kay’s brainchild is a personal favorite, since my dad has played their version of “Happy Birthday” for me every year since I was born. The channelers of “heavy metal thunder” produced two seminal rock hits in “Born To Be Wild” and “Magic Carpet Ride.” But they also created one of the best political anthems ever in “Monster/America.”
4. Ringo Starr/the late George Harrison: Lennon and McCartney have been inducted as individuals. These two often-overlooked Beatles deserve the same kudos for their success and influence as musicians, songwriters and even as unique (if not fantastic) singers.
5. Donovan: OK, if we’re letting in people with a pop bent, then I demand this Scottish folk-rock bard gain immediate admittance. I was raised on his gentle, beautifully written album “A Gift from a Flower to a Garden.” And he has crafted a string of amazing hits: “Hurdy Gurdy Man,” “Sunshine Superman,” “Atlantis,” “Season of the Witch,” et al.
6. Joan Jett: She loves rock ‘n’ roll. She actually plays rock ‘n’ roll. So why isn’t she in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?
7. KISS: I’m not a fan, but I recognize the influence of these heavily made-up rockers. Surely flash and spectacle helped Madonna get her ticket punched, so why shouldn’t Gene Simmons and company get the same benefit?
8. Tina Turner: Ike & Tina already have been inducted, but the queen of soul deserves a solo nod, especially considering her ugly history with her late ex. Although she didn’t stage her astonishing comeback until 1984, she released solo albums back in the mid ’70s. So, let the honors flow once more.
9. Grand Funk Railroad: The Michigan hard rockers admittedly aren’t the most cerebral choice on the list, but they created one of the big, fun (and nothing more complicated than that) rock anthems of the ’70s with “We’re an American Band.” But I think they deserve a place of honor for the diverse trio of “I Can Feel Him in the Morning,” “I’m Your Captain” and “Walk Like a Man (You Can Call Me Your Man).
10. Motorhead: The band introduced speed metal to the world, and Lemmy became the face of heavy metal.
11. Iggy Pop: He is the “godfather of punk.” There should be no need to say more.
12. Rush: Again, not a fan, but I can appreciate their musical skills and distinctive aesthetic. Plus, Geddy Lee was a guest on Bob and Doug McKenzie’s “Great White North” album, so you gotta love him for that.
13. Genesis: These Brit progressive rockers (later pop-rockers) were one of the most successful bands of the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s. To quote All Music Guide, “Genesis enjoyed a longevity exceeded only by the likes of the Rolling Stones and the Kinks, and matched in progressive rock circles only by Yes.”
14. Jan and Dean: Surf instrumentalists the Ventures are among this year’s lesser-known inductees. If we’re honoring surf types, wouldn’t it make sense to include the duo behind “Surf City,” too?
15. Meat Loaf/Jim Steinman: Yes, like millions of other music-buying individuals, I have been known to indulge in the over-the-top, pseudo-operatic sounds of “Bat Out of Hell” and “Bat Out of Hell II: Back Into Hell.” I actually knew back in 1993 what Meat was talking about when he crooned, shouted and sweated that he would do anything for love but he wouldn’t do that. Only this pairing could pull off such a heady, oddball stew of theatrically humorous (and humorously theatrical) songs.
Listen to George Lang, Matthew Price and me break down this weekend’s options for Oklahoma City area moviegoers in this NewsOK podcast.