Given the pop-culture gravitas of this film, there are hundreds of sites on which to find a Blade Runner 2049 synopsis, cast list or trailer. Google is your friend and I have lots of ground to cover. If you’re a fan of 1982’s both revered and oft-underestimated Blade Runner, however, this review is for you.

“Because you’ve never seen a miracle”sapper
Actually, Sapper, I think I just did. At a theater near Fenway Park, no less. To write an objective review about the unlikely and ridiculously far removed sequel to your favorite movie of all time, 3.5 decades later, is a fool’s errand on the brightest of dystopic Los Angeles days. While I’m quite sure he eventually got paid, Director Denis Villeneuve’s obvious labor of love has made it almost too easy for me to extoll the virtues (and maybe a disappointment or two) of Blade Runner 2049. Short version: This is a fantastic film, for which you do not need a deep knowledge of the original to enjoy. Get a sitter. Go see it. And now, for the long version…

“Memories. You’re talking about memories”
Walking out of Monday’s press screening in Boston, I was unprepared for the clipboard-toting PR person waiting for me outside. “What did you think?” she asked. “F*cking awesome!” with two physical thumbs up, was my unrehearsed and regrettable blurt. Not especially quotable, but she recorded it anyway while appearing happy and (maybe) just slightly relieved. That was my first review. Replying “Yes!” when asked today if I wanted to see it again this weekend was my second. What follows is my third. First, though, a nostalgic vignette to set the stage:

INTERIOR – VW BUG – NIGHT – Summer, 1982:  Somewhere in French-speaking Canada, a 9-year-old boy and his father pull in to a dimly lit, backwoods drive-in. The elder, who has previously refused to let his son read a weathered nightstand copy of Philip K. Dick’s source novel (because it’s too violent, David) hooks a speaker onto the red VW Bug’s half-rolled down driver’s side window and settles in for 164 minutes of the film his offspring will keep embarrassingly front of mind for the next 35 years. On the journey back to the summer cottage where absolutely nobody speaks French, and riding a recounted tide of rusty nails shoved through hands, eyeballs crushed by thumbs and women executed on the street for no reason apparent to the passerby – permission to read “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep” is begrudgingly given.

We will come back to Quebec later (spoiler).

joi-billboard“Everything you want to see…”
At two key points during the movie, Gosling’s “Officer K” encounters billboards which repeat revenue-inducing quips related to what consumers want to “see”, “hear” and “be”. They also look a lot like the beloved and advanced Amazon Echo back at his apartment. It’s deeper than that, I assure you, but here be no spoilers.

Right before the screening in Boston began, a studio PR rep had to read out a message from Denis V. himself. The respectful jist was, “It’s tough to review movies, and I get that, just please don’t ruin the film for everyone else. Zut alors!” While I’m paraphrasing, the lockdown and security surrounding key plot points, I was told, is like nothing anyone in the press corps have seen to date.

What is everything we want to see then? 2049 blows the Blade Runner world straight out – in all directions. Other than the legendary original opening sequence, with L.A.’s towers of fire spouting off whilst accompanied by Vangelis’ intoxicating first notes, and apart from an establishing shot of a Spinner landing or two, there’s precious little shown that isn’t closed-set-sound-stage claustrophobic. The sequel shows us oceans, and deserts, and snow – effectively bringing forward the larger world we’d all imagined as kids (or maybe that was just me). Regardless, it is simply gorgeous.

2049 also takes CGI to new levels, particularly apparent towards the end where insufferable long-time fans will see something that may simultaneously induce laughter, sobbing… and possibly sharting. Bring towelettes – you’ve been warned. It’s that heavy.

We also see that the technology in Blade Runner’s universe has evolved since the first film, not surprisingly, as 35 years have passed. Where Deckard once used commands like “stop”, “enhance” and “track right” to investigate Leon’s photographs – we now see the main replicant baddy, (not to be confused with Batty) “Luv”, using those same commands to direct artillery fire. Garbage trucks hover efficiently while sorting filth, smartphones now have a convenient Voight-Kampff app, the Runners get a crazy test called “Baseline” after every shift, Spinners can now dogfight… I should stop there.


“Everything you want to hear…”
A reviewer, whose name I struggle to recall, once referred to the soundtrack of 2008’s There Will be Blood as an “additional character in the film.” Throughout that monumental movie, the music never, ever, ends until the last second of the final credits. It was tailored to the story like nothing we’d ever seen before.

2049’s score is almost as equally engulfing and tailored. Hans Zimmer picked up the heavy task of scoring the film, in Vangelis’ brilliant Grecian shadow, after Johann Johannsson left the project. This left many clammy-handed BR devotees up in arms, but the result was worth the nerdy turmoil. Most noteworthy are the deep (very deep) notes used in transitional shots while Spinners are flying past. This happens a few times, and after the first instance I was immediately hoping there’d be another location change so I could feel that rush one more time.

The better news is, Vangelis’ original score is strategically woven in at key moments, and the final scene sees Zimmer’s work completely stripped away in favor of those hot, hot bars from 1982 many of us know so well. Like the hovering Spinner barking orders at Officer K, that unmistakable noise an old Tyrell Corp terminal makes while booting up, voiceovers recounting the mystery’s clues during flight time, heavy leather overcoats and whiskey – 2049’s soundscape glances over its shoulder several times to acknowledge its older sibling. There are more examples. Many more. But, you know… spoilers.

“Everything you want to be…”
The humans in 2049 know their history. The replicants only hope they do. The conundrum of implanted memories is a major theme carried over from the original. Only now, Officer K has access to historical replicant POV recordings – dampening the disbelief required to connect the two flicks and still sleep at night. Callbacks to human history which the characters must be aware of are in no short supply. Baby Goose’s (Gosling, anyone?) cell phone links to a lovely 2049 version of an Amazon Alexa back at home, named “Joi”, and plays the opening strands of “Peter and the Wolf” each time it rings. Took me a while to place the tune, and after more time passes I’m sure I’ll appreciate the reference. Hasn’t occurred to me just yet (So… if Luv is the wolf, does that make Deckard and K the sheep? Are the resistance the larger flock? Are all of the sheep androids?) Enough. Joi is the love of K’s life, one lost manufactured soul protecting another, and her presence in the film provides what little insight we get into K’s character.

We all saw Sinatra’s hologram in the second trailer, and should also know by now that Deckard is hiding out in Las Vegas. A favorite scene of mine involves Baby Goose and Ford trading blows while the ghost of Deckard’s casino plays intermittent holograms of the strip’s past in the background. “You know what BR2 needs? More Liberace!” Another thoroughly enjoyable clue that the past is still present in this crazy world.

Also noticeable is a nod to Treasure Island, but far more fascinating are two (that I counted) subtle references to the story of Pinocchio. At one intimate point, Joi informs Officer K that, “A real boy needs a real name”. No accidental dialogue there, and I guess that makes Jared Leto’s Niander Wallace… Gepetto? Pinocchio allegories have been thrown around in BR forum threads for years, and now there’s a direct reference. Only instead of strings, replicants have a 4-year life span. Anyone?

“I want to see a negative before I provide you with a positive”
At the risk of otherwise coming off as a garden-variety fan boy, It must be said – I did take issue in one  respect. While Sylvia Hoek’s “Luv” is more menacing than I ever thought the actor was capable of – in the narrative she’s just an agent. A stooge driven only by Niander Wallace’s orders. She knows what she is, and couldn’t care less.

You’ll find yourself longing for the tortured warrior-poet, Roy Batty, regardless of whether or not you wanted him or Deckard to prevail on that rainy rooftop in 1982. If this movie needed anything, and that is an admitted stretch because it’s simply a sci-fi milestone, it would be “better-developed and scarier villains”.

I have just one more gripe, related to casting. Now, the lineup is almost impeccable: Olmos, Bautista, Wright, Baby Goose, Abdi, Hoeks, Leto, etc. My dismay is due to the underuse of one Mackenzie Davis. When charging through the crowd in that first trailer – she was terrifying. I’d hoped she’d turn out to be at least the equivalent of “Pris” from the original. Similar style, similar hair, similar foreboding sense of “would she date me?” Ultimately, she is almost tragically absent for the rest of the movie, bar one fleeting group shot and a virtual sex scene for the ages.

“Many is the night I dream of cheese”
It’s great fun to imagine that, while my 9-year old adolescent pea-brain was being rocked for all time by Ridley Scott in a shoddy Quebec drive-in, a 15-yr old Villeneuve may have been right close by. It’s a sizeable province, but let me have my moment. Maybe he was just one town over, equally as impressed, but with a destiny tied directly to Blade Runner’s unique and astounding universe.

The Godfather did it, as did Jaws and Aliens. Specifically, those franchises saw an eventual sequel which surpassed, or at least lived up to, the original. Blade Runner 2049 will likely be remembered as a sci-fi classic, and I could not be more relieved. In closing: Denis, nous sommes fiers de vous.


Trepidation… is the best word I can use to describe my feelings upon learning there’d be a 5th and final A Tribe Called Quest album when Ali Shaheed Muhammad teased that fact a few weeks before its release on November 11th, 2016. Since then, there’s been a triumphant SNL performance, an avalanche of positive reviews and “We’ve Got It from Here… Thank You 4 Your Service“‘s position as the #1 album in the country. Wait, what? This played out better than I ever could have hoped. Well done, gentlemen.


Update – 12/14/15: While I think I got it right the first time, admittedly I should have added Sex Dwarf to the list. We didn’t have YouTube when I first posted this list of the best 80s songs almost 11 years ago – so I’ve also updated this breathtaking collection in that respect. See what you think and I look forward to hearing your own opinions in the comments below.

I have a friend named Katie who is convinced I am the leading living authority on 80’s pop music. I made her 3 CDs of my favorites called “Katie’s Eighties” and she’s copied it for a dozen or so of her friends. She plays it in the office, in her apartment, her car – she’s obsessed. Whenever I go over to one of her parties, I’m immediately recognized (“YOU’RE the guy who made that CD?!”), cornered and then praised incessantly. To be honest, it’s kinda nice to be able to make something so many people have enjoyed so much. And the music angle is also sorta on the cool side.

I think the key here is to really “dig in the crates” as they say, and find great songs that a lot of people have completely forgotten about. Anyone can make an “80’s Mix” With Soft Cell, Rick Springfield and Kenny Loggins on it. Big whoop. To make a good 80’s CD, you have to do better than that. You also have to set boundaries as to what exactly constitutes 80’s music. For example, my favorite band, the Pixes, recorded the vast majority of their material in the 80’s – but I’d never put one of their songs in an 80’s collection (well, maybe Here Comes Your Man). This is because I like to associate 80’s music with synthesizers, ridiculous haircuts, legwarmers and the like. Although there are many important guitar-driven bands from the 80’s, for the most part I leave them off of my pirating endeavors. And I’m not even going to start worrying about what I’m supposed to do with rap.

You also have to make sure you’re not picking songs for the sake of being original or clever – they have to be crowd-pleasers. I’d love to throw a brilliant-yet-obscure Gary Numan song like Are Friends Electric? on there, but no one would ‘get it’. Your CD has to be one you can throw on at a party and that people will dig the whole way through. Lest you start ‘gagging them with a spoon’. You can’t be self-indulgent.

So I started to think – Maybe I can be considered an 80’s music authority. I’ve certainly done the legwork. I was as much of a music fan when I was 10 as I am now, so I was alive and conscious during the 80’s onslaught. I was such a Culture Club fan at the age of nine that my father pretty much gave up on trying to teach me how to throw a baseball. Or having grandchildren. Then I asked myself what songs I’d put on my top ten list and decided to turn this whole unabashedly uninteresting project into an article here on Pye In The Face. You lucky devils. So with no further ado, here’s my ultimate top ten bestest eighties song list. In very particular order.

10. Uncertain Smile – The The

Matt Johnson never managed to break into the bigtime, and it’s too bad because The The have some truly amazing material. This song is not my favorite, but it’s the most easily digestible. I’d rather put “The Sinking Feeling” or “Giant” on here, but again – you have to cater somewhat to the lowest common denominator for this project.

9. Whisper To A Scream – Icicle Works

This song reminds me of growing up on Island View Drive in Manotick, Ontario. Everytime I hear it, I feel like I’m back on my BMX, racing around the subdivision with a bag of stale bread to go feed to the ducks at the river. A great little catchy guitar intro, interesting call-and-response phrasing and a thunderous chorus.

8. Head Over Heels – Tears For Fears

This was the first concert I ever saw, back in 1986 at the Ottawa Civic Center with Mr. Mister opening up. What an evening. I went with my Dad’s friend’s younger brother and saw my first lesbians and smelled my first marijuana. “Why are those two women kissing and what’s that wonderful smell?” An eye-opening experience to say the least. I love the piano in this song – it sounds as though someone is hitting the keys with a hammer. Also the way Curt Smith and Roland Orzabal take turns singing sections of the verses is very cool. And I’ll never forget the video: Roland following a pretty librarian around trying to win her affections. In 2004, we’d call that sexual harassment.

7. When The River Runs Dry – Hunters and Collectors

This song could have the catchiest chorus of the decade. I once saw this Australian band open for Midnight Oil at Great Woods and they were amazing. The lyrics are horribly convoluted and just really bad. But then so are most of the others on this list. It’s also unique in that they build up to the chorus over two verses, and then separate them with just one verse for the rest of the song. And I love the way Mark Seymour screams the one word “Salvation” at the end of the chorus. The song is mostly guitar based, but the bass sound is altered in such a way that I’m gonna let that slide.

6. Voices Carry – Til Tuesday

Many people don’t know that Boston’s own Aimee Mann was the lead singer of this shortlived outfit. This song was a no-brainer for this list – I’ve loved the dirty sounding guitar picking coupled with her amazing voice since I first heard the song as a mere pup in 1985. Mann and her baffling hairdo always reminded me of Pris from Blade Runner. And that it was getting increasingly more interesting to touch myself in the pants.

5. New Moon On Monday – Duran Duran

I had to put the double D’s on this list somewhere, as I was thoroughly obsessed with them for years – but I was originally a strict Tears for Fears man.I had a friend named Andrew Habbington during most of the eighties and we used to fight, literally, over who was the better band. But I eventually crossed over to the dark side and became a Duranie myself. I haven’t seen Andrew in 20 years, but maybe someday he’ll Google himself and find this, and then laugh with some sense of smug satisfaction. The harmonies in this song are intense, and you’ll need a degree from Juliard to be able to sing along in your car. Forget Hungry Like the Wolf for a minute and get yourself Duracclimated.

4. We Run – Strange Advance

Bryan Adams wasn’t the only Canuck rocking out hardcore in the eighties. Darryl Kromm sounds almost as if he’s fighting back vomit during the entire song, but I like the 2nd synthesizer that comes in mid way, and the eerie high-pitched “hayaaa hayaaa” vocals that get layered in at the end. I don’t know much about this band, and I don’t think anyone does, but I love this song. And Bryan Adams.

3. In A Big Country – Big Country

Where do I begin? My friends are all well familiar with my enduring love of this band, and I was absolutely shattered when Stuart Adamson hung himself a few years ago. Their live DVD entitled appropriately enough, Final Fling, is amazing and I watch it all the time. This song has an enormous energy behind it which is only made better by the fact that Stu and Bruce figured out a way to make their guitars sound like fucking bagpipes. And I love the video where they’re zipping around Scotland on ATVs – perhaps in search of a deep fried Mars bar.

2. Do You Really Want To Hurt Me – Culture Club

Quite possibly the funkiest bassline ever laid down. Incidentally the bass player, Jon Moss, was subsequently laid down by Boy George – which led to the untimely demise of the band. Listen to this song with the subwoofah turned way up and recollect that ridiculous dance George was doing through the male senior citizen bath house in the video. Or was that his living room? And he’s still influencing disassociated nose-piercers to this day – by no means look at this page if you plan on sleeping tonight.

1. The Promise – When In Rome

This is a truly incredible song. It’s recently been resurrected by the film Napoleon Dynamite, and was an excellent choice for the soundtrack. The choppy synth bass, 14 octave vocals and clever chorus drove this to my number one with a bullet. You don’t know a lick about the 80’s if you haven’t heard this tune. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

It was extremely hard to pick just ten – I could have easily done twenty. Honorable mentions go to Sunglasses at Night by Corey Hart, Kyrie by Mr. Mister, Pop Goes The World by Men Without Hats, Major Tom by Peter Schilling – but I just have to draw the line somewhere. And get some sleep. Yep – all in all, with the possible exception of Monchichis, it was a pretty cool decade.


Update: It’s been 6 years ago to the day since Ken Ober shuffled unexpectedly off this mortal coil. It’s not quite Thursday yet, but I’m going to throw it back early and in his honor tonight. I’ve also updated the video with a recently unearthed episode of the actual show which features what was always my all time favorite category: Sing along with Colin.

Kenny Wasn’t Like The Other Kids. TV Mattered, Nothing Else Did.
Girls Said Yes But He Said No. Now He’s Got His Own Game Show.
Remote Control!
And Now It’s His Basement, His Rules, His Game Show.
The Quizmaster Of 72 Whooping Cough Lane – Ken Ober!

The summer of 1988 was a tough one for your old friend, Dave. Being 13 years old is all kinds of awkward all by itself, but I had just moved to small town U.S.A. from Canada – a fate I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. My social life that summer consisted of a remedial Algebra 1 class at Minuteman Tech and watching MTV for hours on end. There was no such thing as reality television in the late 80s, and with the exception of a handful of game shows they actually played music videos. One of those videos was Never Gonna Give You Up. One of those game shows was Remote Control.

Gettin’ Silly Behind the Scenes of Remote Control

I will always remember Ken Ober and Remote Control fondly because they made me smile during a brief adolescent era when I really needed it. Today I’ll tell you that going to 4 different high schools is character-building, but at the time I wanted to swallow antifreeze and follow Heather O’Rourke into the sweet hereafter. Pre-SNL wiseacres Colin Quinn and Adam Sandler helped make up the cast of hilarious recurring characters and the whole mess was held together by Ober’s quick-off-the-draw and bone dry humor at the podium as the show’s seemingly reluctant host.

“Ken Ober was one of the sharpest, quickest, sweetest guys I ever met. He was always a great friend and I will miss him very much.” – Adam Sandler


“Kenny Ober was and always will be the quickest wit in the room. As the star and host of Remote Control, he was a welcoming ringmaster who helped to kickstart the careers of numerous talents, including Adam Sandler, Colin Quinn and myself. He will be remembered always by each of his friends not only for his massive talent but for his true, deep and enduring friendship.” – Dennis Leary

Ken’s post-MTV production career has already been well-documented in various pop obituaries. Most notable was his work on one of my all time favorites, Tough Crowd. He was a long time friend and collaborator of Mr. Quinn’s, and Colin must be having a very bad day today. And that was just written by someone whose molar just split in two. Ober also had film roles in a forgettable Lethal Weapon spoof (although next to today’s send-ups like Disaster Movie it comes off like Gone With the Wind) and the forever-awesome Who’s the Man?

The official word right now is “found dead in his home at age 52,” after experiencing “flu-like symptoms”. Couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy. Thanks for the laughs, Ken. You’ll be remembered far beyond the reruns.


An Ode to Ed Grimley

by Dave on November 9, 2015

in ,Television

Ed Grimley - Martin ShortIt’s safe to say that as we ramp up to the 2016 presidential elections most entertainment bloggers aren’t huuuuge (see what I did there?) fans of Donald Trump. As a result, remotely objective reviews or commentary on his recent SNL hosting stint are non-existent. In terms of the writing and humor-levels, however, I’m not afraid to say that The Donald’s first appearance since 2004 was pound-for-pound a much funnier episode than the season premiere (Miley Cyrus) and maybe even – although I absolutely love her – Amy Schumer’s. Her monologue, though, was one for the ages. Don’t get me wrong, this is a Schumer-friendly zone.

It’s no surprise then, that the day-after-breakdowns have focused almost solely on Larry David’s contributions, that Trump is a racist clown, that we don’t like Trump, that I know I’m supposed to be re-capping SNL but don’t vote for Trump… and have almost completely ignored the return of one of SNL and SCTV’s greatest characters of all time – One Mr. Ed Grimley. I’m here to fix that. Or just to ruminate like a psychotic Canadian comedy nerd while nobody pays attention.

Drake’s recent Hotline Bling video doesn’t need much help in the ridicule department from the pantheon of popular culture. It was quick meme material almost as soon as it was released a couple of weeks ago. Still, SNL’s call to Martin Short to come down and recreate one of his most memorable characters was one of their most inspired moments in recent memory. If you had better things to do at midnight on a Saturday, and I sincerely hope you did, have a look at his deliciously wonderful surprise appearance above – and then take a gander at some of Ed’s finest historical moments below. The lackluster audience reaction when he appeared on the live show leads me to believe we’re all in desperate need of a reminder, I must say.

Jesse Spends 9 Hours With Ed

The Reverend gets a long lesson on the ins and outs of Wheel of Fortune and Dolly Parton during this episode from October 20, 1984.

Ed Grimley for the Kids

Billy Crystal and Martin Short educate children on the finer points of laundry in this 80’s episode of Sesame Street.

The Fella Who Couldn’t Wait for Christmas

Before being hired as an established ringer – alongside Crystal, Christopher Guest, Jim Belushi, Harry Shearer and others – to help save SNL from cancellation after Lorne Michaels left the show right before its 10th season, Martin Short developed this strange character regularly on Canada’s SCTV. “Thank you, Bing.”

Incidentally I used to gel my hair, hike my pants up and do my fairly decent (I must say) imitation of Ed at my parent’s dinner parties. I also did it for the whole of my 8th grade class at Rideau Valley Middle School and had my teacher, Mr. Walsworth, in similar stitches. What did the rest of the class think? Let’s just say it’s a good thing I’ve always been a big lad. Adolescent embarrassments aside – it’s good to see you back, Ed.


Update: I originally posted this in November 2009 but am digging it out again as it’s decent, no one remembers it and I didn’t have time to get anything fresh together for Halloween 2015. Do you like the vampire films? Then please read on – you may find one you’ve missed.

Up and coming comedian, Bo Burnham, made a joke via Twitter two days ago that has stuck with me and induced chuckles ever since.

@boburnham: i cannot wait to see the next instalment of twilight. apparently, the real weakness of vampires/werewolves is shirts.

shirtless-twilight-boysEdward & Jacob only thought they had their respective weaknesses figured out.

Transylvania 90210, as I’ve decided to refer to New Moon for our purposes, premieres tonight across the universe and has set ticket pre-sale records that have left Spiderman and Lucas in the dust. It’s easier for me to believe that Vampires actually exist than to get my head around the popularity of these books and movies. Yes, I watched Twilight. In between shots of Kristen Stewart biting her lower lip in angst there was some semblance of a vamp tale. For many young people (girls), however, this will be their introduction to the rich lore of the fanged ones and that’s a frightening thought.

As a potential remedy that no one will pay any attention to, here are my 5 favorite batty flicks, and I’m hoping the legions of Mullen and Black fans get around to watching them before being forever convinced that the undead won’t kill you if only you have a secret crush on them.

Jerry Dandridge makes Edward Mullen look like Louis Skolnick

5. Fright Night: Yes, that Fright Night. Second only to Road Warrior on my “films to rent for sleepovers in the 80s” list, if you haven’t revisited it since legwarmers were in style – do yourself a serious favor. Chris Sarandon was born to play the slick vampire that moves in next door to Charley, creating a Disturbia sort of surveillance situation that leads less towards house arrest anklets and more towards exploding heads. Currently being blessed/cursed with the remake treatment. Hopefully not starring Robert Pattinson.

Swedish Girl Guides sell those little red fish door-to-door. Then fucking kill you.

4. Let the Right One In: This incredibly well-conceived, original and terrifying pool scene is the tip of the iceberg. I hadn’t even heard of this movie (it’s a Swedish film released only last year) until I started thinking about this article last night. I quickly downloaded it and can see why it has garnered such a fast vamp-fan appreciation. Uber-violent Stockholm romance with lots of children thrown into the mix as a bit of a differentiator. As for the title, watch the above clip and see if you think the little boy might have possibly just let the “wrong” one in. Come on – the Swedes have had it easy for a long, long time. It’s nice to see some bloodsuckers thrown into their fish-eating midst.

High on the list of nightmare-inducing movie scenes from my childhood.

3. Salem’s Lot: This Stephen King-authored spookfest was originally a TV miniseries, so when you plop down in front of the DVD release you’ll know why it clocks in at a whopping 3 hours. Directed by Tobe Hooper of Texas Chainsaw Massacre fame and starring Hutch (David Soul) the parts are better than the whole. James Mason is excellent in one of his last roles and I double dog dare you to find a scarier vampire movie scene than this spectre of a boy scraping the pane with his undead little fingernails (shudder).

“Gimmie a couple shots of whatever donkey-piss you’re shoving down these cocksuckers’ throats.”

2. Near Dark: The most underrated and overlooked film on my short list came out in 1987 to minimal applause, but has since evolved into cult status and holds a place near the top of every other “best of vampire” film list you’ll be able to find. Bill Paxton had made Aliens only the year before, and a little bit of Hudson spills over into his likewise over-the-top (and likewise no less awesome for it) portrayal of Severen. In spite of his mullet, Lance Henrikson personifies evil as Hooker and the above scene might just inspire you to head down to your local, get drunk and start swinging. Or dismembering.

The absolute pinnacle of nightmare-inducing movie scenes from my childhood.

1. Nosferatu: My preadolescence was a worse place for having accidentally run across this absolutely horrifying movie on PBS one Sunday evening during my 6th year on Earth. I’d be dreading the dark long before the street lights came on as a result. My cowardice is somewhat vindicated, however, because Count Orlock is no less terrifying to this day. Not bad for a movie that’s barely a fang shy of 90 years old. Also excellent in its own right is the 2000 film Shadow of the Vampire which imagines made-up funny and frightening events during the filming of Nosferatu. Casting Willem Defoe as Orlock probably saved the production thousands on makeup.

These are my personal favorites when it comes to blood-suck-fests, so don’t burst a vein because I left off Horror of Dracula or Lost Boys. Turn your dark side into lemonade, or something, and list your own favorites in the comments below. Happy New Mooning.


I’ve been bestowed with the silver bracelets of law enforcement a few times (mostly) during my youth. I’ve lived a fairly respectable life. Never been nicked for anything particularly seedy or concerning. There was that one time in Charlestown, MA however, where a classic case of mistaken identity truly scared the pants off me and provided a glimpse of how the “other half” lives like I’ve never had before or since. This isn’t a cautionary tale quite simply because it could have happened to absolutely anybody currently reading this. Before time completely erases the details from my memory I think it bears repeating and I’ve been waiting for a long time to do so. We laugh about it now, but in short – for an hour and a half in 2010 I may have been Boston’s most wanted. The resulting tale I’m now able to tell is worth its weight in police-issued titanium. Are you sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin.

My sister and her husband have a nice little house on Green Street in the very heart of The Town. While rented now, I’d often come to visit while they lived there and even had my own little basement bedroom which according to neighbors was a speakeasy of some sort once upon a time. While a terrific and trendy place to live in modern times, Charlestown definitely has a colorful past to say the least, kid. During one such visit she and I had dinner with friends in Cambridge, came back to find a sweet parking spot right in front of her pad and then decided we wanted just one more glass of weeknight wine. Within seconds of walking out her front door to patronize a liquor store on Bunker Hill Street, things took a strange turn for the surreal which I will never forget.


After closing the front door behind me, I glanced down to where Green and Bunker Hill intersect and saw a Park Ranger car quickly slow down as the driver quite obviously began giving me the deep “once over”. Before you wonder what the heck a Park Ranger was doing in Charlestown, let me explain. The U.S.S. Constitution, one of the most treasured historical… treasures… in the country is docked in the Navy Yard less than a mile away. For context, on September 11th, 2001 I worked nearby and they evacuated the entire neighborhood fearing one of the Navy’s six original frigates may be the next target. The Rangers are “Old Ironsides“‘ personal police force, and their presence is nothing out of the ordinary.

Ranger Rick continued on his way as the obligatory “that’s odd” flashed through my mind and within half a minute I’d reached my destination just around the corner. I begrudgingly bought a bottle of oakey Chardonnay, as the sis hates Pinot Grigio, and stood waiting in line to cash out. The Ranger drove past again, in the opposite direction, and glared at me through the front window so there was now no mistake he’d turned around to have another gander at… me? Nah, can’t be. When he appeared a third time, after making another u-turn and then pulling over in front of the store, however, my paranoia was replaced by genuine curiosity. I’ve never held up an armored car, and fifteen minutes ago I was snarfing down tacos near Inman Square. The lady in line in front of me noticed him too and said something to the effect of “Dear Lord, what do they want to question me about now?“. I replied, “No, Ma’am. I think he’s here for me.” And as strange as it felt at the time – I meant it.

Park-RangerThe six-foot bespectacled Ranger walked into the store, never breaking eye contact with me, and requested I come speak to him outside. Being the slightly right-leaning and largely law-abiding citizen that I am, I quickly finished my transaction and obliged. Once out on the street he instructed me to stand against a wall underneath a streetlight and to put down the brown paper bag containing that bottle of wine I really didn’t want to drink in the first place. I was still more curious than frightened so assumed the position without having even asked him to explain his interest in little ol’ me. “Look straight ahead and don’t move.” were his next instructions and as I stiffened up to attention I noticed a proper Boston Police cruiser begin slowly passing in front of us. Slowly and deliberately. “Am I in some kind of… lineup?” I wondered. This may have been the exact moment I started to worry. Just a wee bit.

The cruiser passed us, pulled over to the side, and the front window rolled down. “This will be the end of it.” I assured myself. The cop leaned out, looked at the Ranger, and… nodded. Not in a “hey, how ya doin'” sort of way. In a “this is the dirtbag we’re looking for” sort of way. As you can imagine, I could no longer contain my curiosity/terror and spoke up. “Put your hands behind your back, Sir.” was the reply. “I’ll explain everything in the car.”

This was not my first experience with handcuffs (feel free to spike that volleyball in the comments if you must,) but it was my first time being linked up in the back of a Crown Vic which had the single, bench-like front seat pushed back so far I had to turn my head to the side to keep from breaking my nose. The Ranger got into the car, further jamming the vinyl into my orifices, and did me the favor of finally explaining the situation. “You’ve been identified as someone who tried to snatch a purse in the Navy Yard earlier tonight.” Despite the situation, never in my life have I fought so hard to hide a smile. I calmly explained that I’d been in the neighborhood for less than 10 minutes and for the first time since 8am that morning. I told him my sister lived 200 feet away where I was staying and could corroborate my account. I told him that I had the keys in my pocket to the black Charger almost within view around the corner which would have a hood warm to the touch. To my relief these reasonable and potentially time-saving facts seemed to give him pause for thought and he exited the car to go speak with the policeman who was still parked with my accusers nearby. “Now, this will be the end of it.” I assured myself again.

The Ranger rolled the back window down and instructed me to stare straight ahead. “Do not move!” he ordered, no doubt to ensure the identity of the plaintiffs – whom I would later learn were three twenty-something women stumbling home after a night of adult beverages at the almighty Warren Tavern. “You’re kidding, right?” I asked in a severely muffled tone resulting in him finally shifting the seat forward. I did as I was told, and my peripheral vision was then filled with the cruiser making another painfully slow pass in the interest of “getting their man”. Another long couple of minutes ticked by, the Ranger re-entered his vehicle (driver’s seat this time), and to my now heightened concern informed me I was indeed public enemy #1. After reiterating my innocence, and the multitude of ways in which he could easily confirm it himself in under three minutes, he informed me they were now certain of probable cause and that we’d be heading to the station. I decided the best thing I could say at this point would be absolutely nothing and shortly thereafter found myself handcuffed to a chair in a brightly lit room inside their station in the Navy Yard.

The Ranger I’d been dealing with walked into another room, closing the door behind him, and I was left with a new, much younger version to keep an eye on me. I jokingly described what had happened, how I even felt bad for wasting their time while the real culprit was probably out liberating someone else’s Prada, cracked wise a few more times and to my relief he actually smiled. “Look, we don’t actually like you for this.” His use of Columbo-esque TV-cop-procedural lingo put me at ease, slightly, and I realized they were taking their cues from the Boston cop who hadn’t even spoken to or looked at me. Ranger Rick walked back into the room, now holding a piece of paper, and turned on a video camera I hadn’t noticed sitting on a table nearby. He wheeled it over, pointed it directly at my face, and issued his next order: “Read this.”

He held the paper in front of me and I quickly committed the contents to memory for all time: “Hey. Give me your purse. Forget it. Nevermind.” These were the words the true snatcher had apparently strung together during his failed snatchery. I realized then that the pissed-up former Warren patrons must be in the next room, presumably watching a close-up of my face on the well-lit video feed. “Now, THIS will be the end of it!” I thought as I dug deep for my strongest Canadian accent and recited the potentially prosecuting prose. “Again.” Rick requested. Done – the only way it could have sounded more Canadian is if I’d added “Buddy” at the end. “Once more,” he added for what would hopefully be the third time charm. It was.

The Boston cop opened the door, shook his head, then stepped back and closed it again as if the Rangers and I were door-to-door vacuum salesmen on a Sunday. In an instant my Thursday night adventure was over, and I’ve never felt a remotely comprable sense of relief. As I stood up and rubbed my exonerated wrists I could tell from the looks on their faces the Rangers genuinely felt terrible. I’m sure law enforcement of any kind is trained never to apologize for obvious reasons, but Rick did turn to his Padawn and say, “I think offering Mr. Pye a ride home is the least we can do.” The least indeed, Sir. The least indeed.

What then did I learn from this experience? It isn’t that I hate police (or Park Rangers). They were doing their job, they went by the book and let’s not forget that I was positively identified by three separate people – twice. My biggest takeaway is how easily anyone can be pulled off the street, cuffed and stuffed, and then dropped into the system on the word of… anyone. There are at least five documentaries on Netflix right now about people being imprisoned for decades due to mistaken identity. Another five about the pro-bono lawyer groups who donate their time to overturning those life-destroying cockups. There are fifteen times as many articles online about how eyewitness accounts are the last thing anyone should ever be convicted as a result of. It’s an everyday occurrence – and a terrifying one. Lots is already being done to improve said system, and my joining their ranks won’t change anything, so my advice then to everyone is, simply: watch your ass. And Columbo – it’s brilliant and also on Netflix.


If you’re still reading this opus of a post you’re a trooper. Hopefully you can forgive the length and chalk it up to me having not written regularly for half a decade. There’s a denouement, however, which I’d still like to add. When the Rangers pulled up in front of my sister’s house, there she was on the front stoop speaking frantically into her phone. In addition to the liquor store and a bodega which sells the largest selection of religious candles you’ve ever seen, there’s also a rather notorious housing project at Bunker Hill and Green. Undoubtedly she feared the worse – she’s my sister. I stepped out of the back seat and wondered why Ranger Rick was also exiting the vehicle. Surely he didn’t feel the need to explain the situation to my sis, or privately apologize to me? What he did, in fact, was a far greater gesture. He opened his trunk, passed me the paper bag containing my oakey Chardonnay and said with a smile, “Have a great rest of your evening“.

All was forgiven.

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Is SPECTRE a Masterpiece?

by Dave on October 24, 2015

in Movies

Let’s conveniently ignore the fact this blog has been dead for the better part of half a decade and get right back into the swing of things. I’ve yet to read an even mildly skeptical review of the 24th James Bond film, SPECTRE, and so my Autumn is officially made. The RT rating is 84%, so obviously bad reviews exist – I’m just saying I haven’t read them. Read on, then, knowing full well that convenient ignorance is as much of a theme here then as tight bespoke suits, vodka-based cocktails and accented villains. And that I’m still likely to die alone.


The Guardian: “Bond is back and Daniel Craig is back in a terrifically exciting, spectacular, almost operatically delirious 007 adventure – endorsing intelligence work as old-fashioned derring-do and incidentally taking a stoutly pro-Snowden line against the creepy voyeur surveillance that undermines the rights of a free individual.” – Snowden can go fuck himself sideways, but otherwise this is an entirely enticing blurb.

Variety: “The indefatigable agent’s solution, and in turn the film’s, is to get stoically back to work almost as if if nothing had happened, and let the baggage emerge where it may. And while Daniel Craig’s reputation as the series’ sternest Bond stands intact when the ride — rumored to be his last — is over, his half-smile count is higher than usual.” There are better quotes in the Variety review, but I had to pick this one due solely to the inclusion of my favorite word in the English language (see if you can guess). – Personally I don’t mind at all if Idris Elba becomes the next Bond as long as they retain Sam Mendes. Although letting Craig get away would be a tragedy akin to the lovely Vespa drowning in Venice.

What Culture: “One of the most common quarters of praise among all reviews (even the negative ones) has been for the film’s opening shot, a 4-minute single-take tracking shot which sees Bond weaving his way through Mexico’s Day of the Dead festival in pursuit of an assailant. It’s been called “a typically explosive affair” and “an instant all-time greatest moment in the franchise”, with many reviewers agreeing that it contributes to making the pre-title sequence one of the series’ most thrilling.” – Hit the link to see “11 early reactions you need to know”. Shitty Buzzfeed-style headline aside, #7 (there are lots of nods/easter eggs to previous Bond films) excites me to no end. I love that stuff as has been evident in the distant past. I promise to put together a list of those I notice here after actually seeing it. And to maybe shower and leave my house next weekend.

I’ll break down now, as it’s only fair I include one of the few negative reviews that’s making the rounds: “Austin Powers-grade cliches abound. Here is the villain openly inviting Bond to his evil lair for some reason! Here is the villain monologuing his evil plan in detail! Here is the villain attempting to kill Bond in the most elaborate manner possible, instead of just shooting him in the face!” – Your first Bond film, eh? Did you expect him to retire and start teaching kindergarten? The last sentence says it all: “After 53 years and 24 films, is it too much to, ahem, exSpectre bit more?” – I hope you die horribly in a laser-related accident which also involves sharks.

It’s good to be back, if anyone’s still reading, and I look forward to discussing the latest entry in this beloved franchise in a couple weeks with all 3 of my imaginary readers.

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An online marketing guy by profession, one of the most integral metrics I have to keep an eye on is known as keyword referral traffic. Namely, what people are typing into search engines before ending up on a given site. And Jiminy Crickets – those keywords can get weird.

nerderyPye in the Face has been around for over a decade now, and there are thousands of posts, galleries, tags and categories capable of pulling in organic traffic from Google, Bing, etc. Most of which I’ll regret during my next job search. Through the magic of reporting software which crunches and parses log files – My tool of choice is the awesome and free Google Analytics – you can not only see what keywords are generating traffic but what search engine and which one of your pages the visitor is landing on. You can also see what country they’re from, what time of day they visited, what operating system they’re using, what browser. It’s incredibly deep, fascinating and addictive. When I first started building websites I’d check these sorts of stats fanatically – but my favorite was always, and remains, the keyword referrals.

Obviously, everyone with a website wants it to rank well in Google for a specific set of keywords. The power of big G is incredible. Fortunes are literally won and lost every time their algorithm, which determines how sites rank for a given keyword or phrase, undergoes a major update. If you sell “pink roller skates” and are #1 on Monday for that term, you’re laughing. Book a trip and start pricing jetskis. If, when you get to the warehouse on Tuesday, you’ve dropped to #39 – you’re out of business. That quickly. Better sell that jetski to Kenny Powers.

kenny-powers-jetskiKenny has actually had multiple liasons on jetskis.

Ranking well for mission-critical keywords is, well, mission-critical. A website has the potential to rank and draw traffic, however, for any combination of keywords which appear within the code of their site. It’s also important to note that the terms comprising a multi-word search phrase don’t have to appear on a site in the same order. They don’t all even have to appear in the same paragraph. If the potential for ridiculousness isn’t sinking in by now, it should be.

If there isn’t a ton of competition for a phrase which has somehow worked its way into your site’s copy one might find themselves on Google’s first page within a few hours of that text’s addition. Sites with regularly updated blogs especially can start ranking for hundreds – nay, thousands – of terms over the course of a few years. This is definitely the case with Pye in the Face (Last month people used 1,570 different keywords to find the site), and without prattling on about this nerdy stuff any longer I’m going to share my…

5 Favorite Phrases Drew Traffic for in August 2011

1. Florence Welch Bum: Florence may have her machine but she’s also in possession of a breathtaking caboose. I admit, when I featured her on Wednesday Wadio a little over a year ago I took screenshots of the best examples from the band’s video and named the resulting images “florence-youve-got-the-love-ass-video-bum.jpg” and “florence-and-the-machines-ass-butt.jpg” respectively. It was a sad, misguided experiment, but a very successful one. My site is #1 in Google (your local results may vary for everything on the list) for the aforementioned term and pulled in 6 visitors last month. It’s also the top entry in Google’s image search. Traffic also came in for florence and machine bum, and a guy named Dan actually left 2 comments looking for more Welch booty. If I roll the data back to cover an entire year, that article pulled in over a hundred visitors using 84 different keyword variations including: florence welch arse, florence welch hindquarters… butt, ass, shake, buttocks and bottom. This data is embarrassing, sad and doesn’t paint me in a particularly flattering light – but that doesn’t make it any less frickin’ fascinating.

2. Bobby McFerrin Raped my Grandmother: When Alec Baldwin hosted SNL 5 years ago he uttered this phrase during a particularly hilarious skit which you can can’t see below. I jump around on Google’s first page for the phrase, and 2 people found me using by using it last month. Since I wrote the article way back in November 2006, 65 people have typed it in before paying me a visit. I can only pray they were looking for that sketch and Bobby McFerrin isn’t being sought somewhere for questioning.

3. Bunkhouse Cock Buddies: Upon seeing traffic from this term I typed it into Google to see which post of mine could possibly be ranking for it. I went about 5 pages deep through the site results before giving up. Nothing. Then I tried image search – and sweet God in heaven do I wish I could take that back. All the therapy and bleach in the world will never erase that sight from my poor mind. Please take my word for it.

4. Does the Interrogator in the Movie Unthinkable Cut the Terrorist’s Penis Off?: The Unthinkable made an impression on me and I think my review of the Samuel L. Jackson flick holds up. I’m glad I took my time writing it because since it was published on May 28th of last year the post has pulled in an amazing 500+ people via Google and become one of my highest-viewed articles ever. I never mentioned the terrorist’s penis.

5. I’m Going to Die Alone with a Plethora of Cats: Is this someone “calling their shot”? Are they looking for a support group? Regardless, this is a great example of how different words from different areas on a site can combine causing a website show up for a bizarre search. I ranked #6 for this term and the landing page is for one of my categories. Over the course of the 10 articles which appear in this category, I mention cats, dying alone and use the word “plethora” in different posts – hence the ranking. Try to explain the ranking away as I might, I’ll still probably have my face eaten off by a cat days before my neighbors notice the smell.

Sorry, folks, if this all got a bit lengthy. After such a long period of irregular and sporadic writing I must have a lot of flexing to do. I hope you enjoyed all this disturbing data and I do believe I’ll make referral analysis a regular feature. A profoundly disturbing regular feature.


Considering yesterday’s unenthusiastic summer movie post – this is uncanny. I just learned, via JoBlo, that Raiders of the Lost Ark was released 30 years ago today. My 7-year-old self hasn’t been the same since.

raiders-artIf I were tasked (by someone who was incredibly bored and probably unemployed/smelling of pee) with selecting just one movie to represent my childhood – it would be Raiders. History has been kind to the film – it didn’t exactly get poor reviews on this day back in 1981 (It has a 94% rating on Rotten Tomatoes), but it’s legacy has grown considerably. What began as little more than a fast-paced summer blockbuster (resulting from a Lucas/Spielberg collaboration dedicated to serials from the 1920s) is now heralded as a cinematic benchmark frequently selected by critics as one of the best movies of all time…

  • Just this past March a TV special put together by ABC News and People Magazing voted Raiders the best action movie of all time.
  • In 1998 the American Film Institute voted it #60 on their list of the 100 best American movies, evah. To give context it outranks Goodfellas, Pulp Fiction and Unforgiven. By a lot.
  • It’s #22 out of 250 on IMDB’s list of best flicks.

But forget about established critics and accredited film society thingys for a second. As part of my own personal tribute I’m going to share just a few foggy Raiders memories from my distant childhood:

  1. My father must have also been a huge fan of the film, because he took me to see it 7 times. It’s how we bonded. How we related to each other – and I have no complaints.
  2. I remember him asking his sister, my Aunt Susan, if after seeing it she thought it was appropriate for a 7-year-old. Her exact response was “Well, there’s a little bit of blood, but I think he’ll be alright.” Which brings me to the next memory…
  3. After the first time we saw it, I ran ahead of my father and checked the back seat of his car for mummies.
  4. My friend Adam and I spent countless hours trying to beat the tie-in Atari 2600 video game. 30 years later it is still frequently mentioned as one of the hardest games of all time.

  5. I’d jump at any chance to accompany my Mother to the grocery store in Manotick, Ontario as I was determined to collect each of the 100 Raiders trading cards. After consuming near-fatal quantities of nasty pink-colored gum sticks, I only ever got 99 of them. The elusive card? That bastard, Belloq. And I still have all 99 in a photo album for which I actually won a Boy Scouts “collector’s” badge a couple years later.
  6. My grandmother gave me an Indy action figure during one of her visits, that had a spring-loaded arm which would crack a little cloth whip. I still have it.
  7. One of our neighbors, Terry (whom many years later I would end up working for in England) claimed he knew a guy who had a bootleg VHS copy and if we could organize $100 and two VCRs for the dub I could get one of my very own. Needless to say, he lived to regret telling me that. I don’t think the word “haunting” covers it.
  8. We bought the soundtrack on LP, which I then transferred to cassette, which then became the soundtrack of many backyard adventures, blasted via carefully-balanced ghetto blaster through my bedroom window.
  9. I remember friends and I acting out so many “takes” of the famous swordfight scene that David Fincher and Stanley Kubrick would have said in unison, “Enough already, kid. We got the shot.”
  10. Due to a glaring lack of actual Indy toys in the marketplace, Star Wars stormtroopers and Cobra soldiers frequently stood in for Hovitos, Thuggees and Nazis.
  11. I learned what a Nazi was.

Toht-meltingIf we forget our history we are doomed to repeat it. So in honor of this magnificent anniversary, take time out today and force a 7-year old child to sit through Raiders of the Lost Ark. And don’t let them close their eyes at the end, either. The children are our future, so teach them well and let them watch melting Nazis. Happy birthday, Dr. Jones.

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Today is the first day of summer and I’m normally geeking out with anticipation over at least one upcoming movie (or seven) by now. This year is definitely different though. I really couldn’t give a flying frick about any of them – and that’s not a good feeling. It makes me long for the summers of my childhood when there’d only ever be one or two huge movies released. I blame CGI for the big-budget overload every year. And Jar-Jar Binks.

It’s a weak, weak year for the summer flick. With only two possible exceptions, as I see it. The first is the reboot of Conan the Barbarian out on August 19th and creatively entitled, “Conan”. When I heard about it a year or so ago, and found out Jason Momoa would play the title role, I was unimpressed. After seeing Momoa on Game of Thrones, however, I warmed up to the idea. After seeing the red-band trailer which was released a few days ago – I take it all back.

The second is Cowboys and Aliens. I dig Daniel Craig and love Jon Favreau as both an actor and a director. The real reason I’m amped to see the movie, however, is that there’s a direct link back to my summer movie nirvana of yesteryear to consider – Mr. Harry Ford. He’s playing a villain but I will take what I can get in these strange, digitally enhanced times.

Cowboys and AliensThor was a good flick, but its release date on May 6th makes it a stretch for inclusion as part of the season. It’s also unbelievably difficult to get excited about superhero movies anymore. It’s like the little boy who cried “wolf”, but instead of warning villagers about an impending attack by a lycanthrope – he’s just standing up there on the hill beside pastures full of tasty sheep yelling, “Superhero movie! Um, superhero movie! Superhero movie?” The villagers quickly learn that the little jerk is full of shit, possibly autistic, and then stop listening.

The little guy just keeps on screaming: Thor, X-Men, Green Lantern, Captain America – and that’s just this summer. Over the next 2 years we can look forward to no less than a half-hundred-dozen additional Marvel/DC/etc. properties hitting the big screen – Deadpool. Ant Man, another Kickass, another Batman, un autre Spiderman, an additional Superman, one more Wolverine – but in terms of anticipation the queen mother of them all is undoubtedly The Avengers which is due for release on May 4th, 2012. That kid who’s supposed to be watching the sheep is going to be a little horse. I wonder if he also knows a little german?


So, yeah – Hollywood’s current summer movie output is completely overwhelming. This year alone there are about 20 big-budget potential blockbusters shipping in a 4-month period. We have all of the aforementioned plus Harry Potter, Planet of the Apes, Mr. Popper’s Penguins,  Smurfs, Transformers… and I wouldn’t cross the street to see any of them. What about you – seen anything good so far?

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A Strong Sense of Community

by Dave on June 4, 2011

in Television

community-pudi-gloverWhilst Flying to and from Vancouver last week I decided to spend a little more time, via the seatback screen in front of me, with the NBC show Community. Talk about a captive audience – I’d have gone so far as to watch Scrubs if that’s all they’d had. Sure, Air Canada also offered Nurse Jackie and the BBC’s brilliant Sherlock revival, but I’d already seen and loved every single episode of both those series. So it was either watch Community or switch over to the movie channel where i had the pick of the cinematic litter. If the pregnant dog in question had given birth to 27 French language films and the Green Hornet. So, yeah, Community won by a nose. Pinocchio’s nose.

A Talk Soup fan since the Kinnear era, I knew of Joel McHale so made sure to tune in two years ago when the Community pilot debuted – but hadn’t watched it since. Not that the show’s debut was bad. Far from it. It just wasn’t especially… memorable. My Attention drifted elsewhere (as it’s prone to do 246 times a day) and the halls of Greendale Community College were quickly forgotten. Eight days after my return from British Columbia I’m glad that, somewhere high over Kamloops, I was forced to re-enroll.

Over the last two years the show has come a very long way. It’s known for the simultaneously loveable and detestable characters, clever plotlines, recurring jokes, guest stars and overall silly style – to the point where Community has amassed, and is beloved to, a considerable cult following. The best example of this might be the now famous “Library Rap” where Abed and Troy bust a catchy rhyme en Español which was originally just intended as one of the short, standalone clips they feature at the end of every episode during the credits. Episode #2 in this case. It’s taken on a life of its own and probably been many people’s first introduction to the show.

“My name is T-Bone, the Disco Spider.”

The lyrics make a little more sense once you realize the almighty Ken Jeong plays their inept and quite possibly sociopathic Spanish teacher. Thanks to a skirmish with strep throat, and Netflix Instant, I’m now all the way through the first season – and incredibly impressed. My fruitfly-esque attention span held fast for the 25 episode duration and I’m about to dig in to season two.

Another reason I decided to kick the tires on Community one more time is the involvement of multi-talented Donald Glover. Last summer I read about and then saw a movie which I went on to word-of-mouth to anyone who would listen. To some of my older relatives’ chagrin those pressed violently into watching the hilarious Mystery Team included several cousins in the 11-14 age range. So That’s one way to get out of ever babysitting again. Since iPhone batteries last about as long as an Altoid, I’d better get right down to the summary.

Mystery Team (starring Glover who helped write, score and produce the flick at the kinda-sorta tender age of 27 if you’re looking for my point,) is a raunchy, yet refreshingly original, film about a collective of once-almost-famous boy detectives who are now seniors in high school. They’re stuck dwelling on the lost-hamster-finding and apple-pie-windowsill-theft-culprit-apprehending glories of yesteryear while being left behind and ridiculed by their peers, parents and basically anyone else who happens to cross their path. Exhibit A:

“Will work for Fruit Rollups.”

The opportunity to solve a murder arises and team leader Jason (Glover), inspires the others to forget about college admissions for one last summer and prove their detective skills to anyone who thinks they’re a complete joke – which is everyone. A fantastic premise put to film by Glover and the rest of his Derrick Comedy troupe who you’ll even see pop up in bit parts on Community now and then – It’s good to see he’s taking care of his boys. You’ll want to keep an eye on this guy – not to pat myself on the back, but to prove a point: the first time I saw Mystery Team I knew this kid was going to be a big star. Now he’s on a hit sitcom, has at least 2 big budget studio films in the pipeline and has recorded several actually-really-good rap albums and mixtapes as Childish Gambino. Color me impressed. And seek out Mystery Team.

So – that makes it all the more convenient that Glover, alongside Joel McHale and Chevy fricking Chase, is now one of the best things about Community. His character, Troy, is inseparable from Abed – a lovable East Indian with an inexhaustible font of movie and tv references who also suffers from Asperger’s. If you don’t already see the unbelievable potential for comedy in that last sentence alone, you’re in luck… as Scrubs is currently in syndication on more channels than my poor brain can fathom.

community-pierce-chevyLet’s get back to Chevy for a second. He plays former moist towelette tycoon Pierce – an over-the-hill, racist, inappropriate and narcissistic buffoon who is only attending the college to… actually, it’s never quite explained. Chevy took a long show business hiatus after a disastrous foray into talk show hosting and I am beyond glad that he has another hit and won’t forever be remembered as wrapping up a great career with an embarrassing failure. Having said that, I’ve also just reminded everyone that he had a disastrous foray into talk show hosting and almost ended his career with a devastating defeat which comedians continue to beat to death to this day. Dammit, Dave – inside voice! Sorry, Chevy. I meant well and you’re the man. Again.

Wow – I’m all over the place today. Back to McHale again who plays main protagonist Jeff Winger, a self-absorbed, wiseacre and debarred lawyer who becomes the Spanish study group’s de facto leader. After 5 side-splitting Soup seasons he definitely deserved a shot at leading man status and plays the role to a ‘t’. His relationship with classmate Britta, played by Gillian Jacobs, is reminiscent of Sam and Diane to say the least – and Abed even references this fact specifically. But then, that’s what Abed does – he literally likens nearly every event in his life to a meta pop culture reference. Sounds eerily familiar…

In addition to the casting and my kindred spirit, Abed, what sets this show apart for me is it’s undeniable heart. Several years ago, during the heyday of Trailer Park Boys, I wrote very extensively about that show for the same reason. All of Community’s characters, from the sweet bible-thumper Shirley to the formerly Adderall-addicted Annie, care about each other deeply. It’s a strange and dysfunctional sitcom family for the ages and I’m a happy new fan.

Now then – I’ve taken up enough of your time and must bid you a fond ‘adieu’. I must also bid you "do yourself a favor and watch a few episodes of Community on Netflix". They’re only 22 minutes long, now that the commercials have been removed, and you’ll have a better weekend for it. On the off chance you don’t have Netflix Instant yet, there will be no "bidding" whatsoever. It’s only $9 a month and awesome. Pull your thumb out and sign up now.


Elmar Weisser smiles after simultaneously winning “Best Beard” and “Worst Smelling Beard” at the Beards and Moustaches World Championship in Trondheim.


Defending Gary Busey

by Dave on April 18, 2011

in Television

busey-mr-joshuaDonald Trump finally fired Gary Busey on Celebrity Apprentice last night after getting it wrong last week and showing Mark McGrath the door. I bemoan the sad fact Busey wasn’t put out of his misery weeks ago, but not for the reasons you may assume. The man is not simply crazy – he was the victim of a massive head injury in 1988, not to mention a few additional contributing factors since, and the way he’s been paraded around and allowed to embarrass himself this long – on one of the most popular shows in the country – is reprehensible. What Ivanka calls “being a character” a physician might refer to as “early onset frontal lobe dementia”. Either way, I’m relieved it’s now over and I’m going to do my part to fuel a little backlash.

When I first heard Busey would be among this season’s cast I was definitely very excited. I’ve been a fan since I saw The Buddy Holly Story on TV as a child. I wore holes in my Dad’s Crickets vinyl so when the movie came along I was sure to tape and re-watch it many times. My Dad seemed to like the actor, so I did too, and Busey received a Best Actor Oscar nomination in 1978 for his efforts. His body of work is impressive (A Star is Born, Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, Silver Bullet, Lethal Weapon) but how soon people have forgotten. Through little fault of his own he’s ended up the quintessential pop culture punchline – and it really isn’t funny anymore.

Meat Loses his Loaf on Celebrity Apprentice.

To accept that an actor can transform from someone who can play a character as perfectly intense as Mr. Joshua to a babbling semi-psychotic in the course of 24 years and not have a serious health issue is ignorant. Busey isn’t acting anymore. Many on the men’s team seemed to acknowledge this and in the first few episodes, despite the challenges he presented, even the Busey-beleaguered Meatloaf remained respectful regardless of whether Gary was within earshot. By last night’s episode, however, the women’s team giggled at his every bizarre statement like they were back in grade school making fun of the slow kid who liked to rub the front of his pants at recess. Public figures and very well known celebrities “laughing at the retard” on national television like it was the most normal and acceptable thing imaginable. Did anyone really need another reason to revile Star Jones?

Mr. Joshua – Your left arm, please.”

Trump loves him some Gary, and much to the chagrin of the rest of team “Backbone” that fact alone has saved his seemingly nutty ass on at least two prior occasions when he could have easily been shit-canned – while a much stronger player has been sacrificed instead (after John Rich and Marlee Matlin, McGrath was my favorite to win). The Donald seems painfully unaware of what takes place during the weekly tasks (and probably is) which is definitely why Busey has remained as long as he has. He’s unfocused, scattered, oblivious to any offense he happens to cause – such referring to Rich as “Boy” last night (thank God he didn’t do that to Little Jon or Busey-induced riots would currently be taking place in most major American cities) – and has otherwise been all hindrance and no help to his team during every single task. But what did the producers expect?

The truth is that they knew exactly what to expect and what the other contestants were in for. Recent Busey forays into popular culture such as the Comedy Central show “I’m with Busey”, Celebrity Rehab, the Larry the Cable Guy Roast, etc. should erase any doubt in our minds as to whether or not this man has a serious medical disability. His psyche has grown progressively more unstable over time (his 1991 turn as Officer Angelo Pappas in Point Break is one of his best roles and was filmed 4 years after his helmetless motorcycle accident,) and although that was probably a somewhat natural progression a quick online search informs us that prescription medication and a long post-injury dalliance with cocaine has probably helped the situation along considerably. He also mentioned on one episode of the Apprentice that he’d had operations for cancer which, I’m assuming, is what has led more recently to the uneven positioning of his right eye.

“Utah! Get me two!”

So what have we learned? He’s in bad shape and getting worse. Have a look at his demeanour and overall presence in this scene from the aforementioned “I’m With Busey” which was filmed just 8 years ago in 2003. When compared to his current vacant and emaciated condition on Celebrity Apprentice he looks like he’s aged about 2 decades since. I’m comfortable saying he is deteriorating faster than Pappas could wolf down a meatball sandwich:

Busey loves Dick.

That’s enough detail and deconstruction. My point is simple. Gary Busey isn’t crazy, wacky or purposefully colorful – he is quite obviously suffering from brain damage (likely his frontal lobe if I had to guess based on my own family’s experiences) brought on from a variety of ailments, addictions and accidents. I get a kick out of Donald Trump but I hope, after he watches these episodes back in their entirety, he has a few choice words for his producers (maybe even Busey’s own management) – or at least feels a little remorse for the way in which the man was shoved out on stage and made to look like some sort of two-bit carnival joke. Shameful. It would appear I’m the one who’s with Busey. Anyone else?


hathaway-buscemiSo many cool things pass through my field of vision on a daily basis, are “shared” quickly on Facebook and then subsequently lost to the ether, forever. That means it’s time for a new feature on Pye in the Face – a link list on Tuesdays. Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin…

  • Helmet-cam video from an insane urban downhill mountain bike in Chile. So, so cool. Watch for the dog that nearly gets smoked about 30 seconds in.
  • A one-time, 2 hour harmonica class in Boston for women only. May 16th at the BCAE taught by blues harpist and local performer Annie Raines and it’ll only run you $35.
  • Michael Shannon from Boardwalk Empire has been cast as General Zod in the latest Superman franchise reboot – and he’s frickin’ perfect.
  • Sasha Grey has retired from porn. Notable because no other adult star has ever made as many inroads into “legitimate” entertainment. Or violent anal.
  • Canadians reschedule Thursday’s French language election debate when they realize it’s also the first Boston/Montreal NHL playoff game. We have our priorities, budday!
  • When Chicks With Steve Buscemeyes ended up on CNN this morning, it officially ceased to be cool. Still, that doesn’t make it any less awesome and they had it before me.

I’m going to keep a running list as I progress through my weeks so future instalments will likely be longer/better. You get the point though, right? I mean, there’s only 562,240 other blogs also doing this. That’s me: pushing envelopes and setting trends. You’re welcome.