Matt Patterson

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Bing and Bowie: A Christmas Miracle

In September 1977, Bing Crosby was recording his television special “Bing Crosby’s Merrie Olde Christmas.” Slated for a guest appearance in the show was a rather unusual choice – Ziggy Stardust himself, Mr. David Bowie. Bowie was scheduled to sing

Confessions of a Tea Party Terrorist

Well, apparently I’m a terrorist. At least according to the definition of a wide number of Congressmen, reporters, television personalities, and even – so it’s reported – the Vice President of the United States himself. What did I do to

A MARVELous Summer at the Movies

The summer is young, and already two MARVEL comics properties – “Thor” and “X-Men” – have barnstormed into theaters to excellent reviews and boffo business (“Thor” slightly underperformed domestic expectations, but still has made nearly half a billion in worldwide

The Battle for Wisconsin

Wisconsin is the birthplace of American public-sector unionism. In the 1930s the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) first organized in Madison. How ironic then that Wisconsin may also be the burial ground for public-sector unionism. Governor

The Genius of the Ramones

“Music was my salvation really, and always has been.” – Joey Ramone Years ago, a young woman sat across from me on a near-empty train. She looked like she had been crying. Pulling her sweatshirt sleeves down over her hands,

'Beavis and Butt-head' Return in the Nick of Time

Praise be, they’re back. MTV has recently announced the triumphant return of Beavis and Butt-head. Original series creator Mike Judge is on board to produce new episodes which will air on the one-time music network later this year. As John

Robert Plant's Long, Strange Journey

Robert Plant was once derided as the least-talented member of Led Zeppelin. His voice was notoriously uneven live and his prissy stage manner earned him the derogatory nickname “Percy” among his band mates. It is widely known that Plant was

Is 'Wipeout' the Best Show on Television?

If you haven’t seen ABC’s breakout hit Wipeout, then, well, I just feel sorry for you. You may instead have been watching critically acclaimed, scripted dramas like Big Love, or award winning educational programming on Discovery or National Geographic. Hell,

Two Biggest Disappointments of 2010

I started out trying to write a typical, end-of-year, best of list. I really did. I agonized for days over the best movies I had seen in 2010. But every time I had something I was sure of on my

Hollywood and Broadway Team Up to Destroy Spider-Man?

Fans of a certain costumed web-slinger have been dismayed by a string of recent developments which have threatened to bury the crime-fighter’s sterling reputation under a mountain of kitsch and banality. First, there was the departure of director Sam Raimi

Republic on the Precipice

I sometimes wonder if Americans really have any idea of the scope of the danger facing this country. I also wonder if they don’t deserve the disaster that is coming. Americans loudly focus their anger on the President, who is

Studio Knuckle-Heads Endanger 'Spider-Man'

Just before Christmas rumors began to leak out of Hollywood that Sam Raini’s Spider-Man 4 had run into trouble. Nonsense, came word from Sony; the production is only on “holiday break,” all is well in Spidey-Land, and your favorite web-slinger

Palin Rising

I have in the past been a skeptic of Sarah Palin. Not of her political talent, which is considerable, but of her grasp of – and even interest in – substantive policy issues. When she abruptly resigned the governorship of

Dear Hollywood: It's Over Between Us

Dear Hollywood, I’m sorry, but things just aren’t working out. That’s hard to hear, I know, and believe me, it’s hard to say. After all, we’ve had some great times together. But let’s face it – those great times are

The Vault: An Exploration of the Gothic

Part 3 – 1976, The Big Bang (Author’s note: Apologies to all the readers of “The Vault” who wrote in wondering when the next chapter was coming. I promise I have not abandoned this series, and have been grateful for

Review: Bob Dylan's Christmas Album

On October 13th, Bob Dylan released an album of Christmas standards entitled Christmas in the Heart. The reaction from critics, and much of the public, has been: Is this some kind of joke? “Hearing Bob hack out the words ‘With

Obama: The Woody Boyd Candidate

Earlier this year, I rented and re-watched the entire series run of Cheers. Towards the end of the series, the hayseed junior bartender Woody Boyd (Woody Harrelson) decides to run for city council. He is encouraged in this endeavor by

Oh, The Horror!

What is horror? The word comes down to us from the Old Roman, horrere, which means literally “to stand on end” (as in hair) or “to shiver,” whether from fear or cold – Ovid refers to the “chill-bearing breath” of

'It Might Get Loud': The Redemption of Jimmy Page

What happens to an artist whose creative peak has long past? That is the question which looms like a sustained E chord over the new documentary It Might Get Loud, a strange and wonderful cinematic ode to the electric guitar

Review: U2 360 — Great Music, Bi-Partisan Politics

OK, first things first: U2 put on a great show in FedEx Field in Washington D.C. on Tuesday, September 29, 2009. This was a relief, because the previous Saturday they had turned in a dismal, oddly disjointed performance on “Saturday

The Vault: An Exploration of the Gothic

Part 2 – In The Beginning 1965. Cafe Bizarre. Greenwich Village, New York City. An unknown band takes the stage and begins to play. The electric viola weeps an unearthly, hypnotic lament, as the singer chants: “Not a ghost-bloodied country,

'Shark Week' Has Seized Me In Its Gaping Maw

Ah, August. Hot. Muggy. Sluggish. School approaches; summer vacations are over or nearly so. The new television season is weeks away. And even in a good movie year – which 2009 has decidedly not been – all the best blockbusters

The Vault: An Exploration of the Gothic

Part 1 – Introduction The bats have left the bell tower, the victims have been bled… – Bauhaus, “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” Goth is dead. Well, OK, maybe not. But if it is not dead, exactly, Goth certainly isn’t what it

'The Dark Knight': Year One

What is the difference between art and entertainment? There is, obviously, some overlap: Not all art entertains (though some does); not all entertainment is art (though some is). At bottom, it seems, the difference is one of intent – the

Moonwalker: The Difference Between Achievement and Artifice

This month marks the 40th anniversary of Apollo 11 and Neil Armstrong’s giant leap for mankind. Mr. Armstrong is still alive, and, as far as I know, in good health. But alas, one day, like all of us, Armstrong will

Album Review: Chickenfoot

Joe Satriani lives. On the self-titled debut album Chickenfoot, Satch sounds better and looser than he has in years – it’s easily his best work since 1993’s Time Machine. With his bald pate, shades encased face, and the sleek and

Johnny Cash: Fade to Black

Last night, I dreamed of Johnny Cash. He was sitting at the edge of my bed with a guitar, strumming and humming no tune in particular. Then he stopped, looked at me and said, “You got to play, son.” I