From the category archives:


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.


Editor’s Note: I fully realize that posting email forwards on your blog is the height of laziness – but this is profound and I have to share.

bratty-teenage-girlA little over halfway through my 30s it’s only natural that nostalgia, mortality and violent curmudgeonliness are setting in – which is probably why I’m drawn to these thoughts on how not all “progress” is… actually any sort of progress. I’ve edited this for length and into a list format which also deep-sixes some religious content. And I removed several negative references to movies, cable TV and video games – because that’s just fucking crazy talk. Apologies to the original author, but if you’re that annoyed are you any different from the whiny, lazy and entitled gluttons your original work indirectly bemoans? Let’s get down to the reminiscing…

To Those of Us Born Before 1980

  • First, we survived being born to mothers who may have smoked and/or drank while they were pregnant. They took aspirin, ate blue cheese dressing, tuna from a can, and didn’t get tested for diabetes.
  • We were put to sleep on our tummies in baby cribs covered with bright colored lead-based paints. We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, locks on doors or cabinets and when we rode our bikes we had baseball caps, not helmets, on our heads.
  • As infants and children, we would ride in cars with no car seats, no booster seats, no seat belts, no air bags, bald tires and sometimes no brakes. Riding in the back of a pick- up truck on a warm day was always a special treat.
  • We drank water from the garden hose and not from a bottle. We shared one soft drink with four friends, from one bottle, and no one actually died from this.
  • We ate cupcakes, white bread, real butter, and bacon. We drank Kool-Aid made with real white sugar. And we weren’t overweight. Why? Because we were always outside playing!


“And This is What We Call Progress”–by Montreal’s The Besnard Lakes

  • We would leave home in the morning and play all day, as long as we were back when the streetlights came on. No one was able to reach us all day. And we were OK.
  • We would spend hours building our go-carts out of scraps and then ride them down the hill, only to find out we forgot the brakes.. After running into the bushes a few times, we learned to solve the problem.
  • We fell out of trees, got cut, broke bones and teeth – and there were no lawsuits from those accidents..
  • We would get spankings with wooden spoons, switches, ping-pong paddles, or just a bare hand, and no one would call child services to report abuse.
  • Little League had tryouts and not everyone made the team. Those who didn’t had to learn to deal with disappointment.
  • The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke the law was unheard of. In fact, they usually sided with the police.
  • These generations have produced some of the best risk-takers, problem solvers, and inventors ever. The past 50 to 85 years have seen an explosion of innovation and new ideas.
  • We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned how to deal with it all.

What did you think? Seems thematically appropriate after my recent Chris Brown-related “what’s wrong with kids today?!” post [chases lost, crying infant off front lawn while wearing sandals with socks]. Should we wind the clock back on a few of these points? I look forward to your thoughts.



by Dave on January 21, 2011

in Heartwarming,Musical

What better way to kickstart my long-overdue blogging rebirth than the announcement of a Pixies show in Ottawa? That news certainly shook the dust off my semi-dormant pop culture nerdery. Like a soon-to-be-incarcerated nanny. As did the first hand realization that the lack of a regular creative outlet sometimes leads to very dark places.

And how could I have gone two whole weeks without screaming from the rooftops about the birth of my gorgeous little niece? The rooftop in this case being aka The world is a much better place with you in it, little Bonnie MacKenzie Helem (“Kenzie” for short). Yes, she’s named after my beloved Mother so feel free to shed a few tears. Or pounds – it is January after all.

I just got a better idea. Why not combine the two topics via my trusty Photoshop installation and then title the whole thing with an obscure reference to an old Rat Pack film? It’s as good a rebirth as any I’ve seen recently. Excepting, of course, Los Pixies themselves. On we go…


My niece may very well go on to become one of the most influential guitarists of all time. It’s not for anyone to say as the paint is still wet. Incidentally, the venue in question is the Ottawa Civic Center on April 16th and a ticket pre-sale begins today at 1pm over on Happy New Year, everyone. I’m back.


Jay Peaking

by Dave on February 26, 2010

in Heartwarming,Sporty

ski-crash No Quizzlet today, kids. Far too busy with a real estate reckoning. I’ve had to remain tight-lipped for the last month, and it’s been tough, but today my sister and I are driving to Vermont to close on the Jay Peak ski condo we’re buying.

There. I can finally say it and it feels great. Here’s to silver linings.

Incidentally, tomorrow will see me on skis for the first time in 17 years. If I don’t make it back to Ontario in time for the hockey game Sunday night – you’ll know full well why. Watching the Olympics has taught me half a dozen new ways to fall, slide and crumple. Wish me luck, and if you ski we can’t wait to have you to the Peak for a weekend.


Nutty Busy on Bonnie’s Behalf

by Dave on May 13, 2009

in Heartwarming

While I’m beyond excited about the new Pye in the Face design (what do you guys think? Too literal? Gotta say, I love it) and the renewed sense of community we’ve managed to restore – I am remiss in my posting! For those of you who don’t know, Janet and I are having a memorial weekend for my dearly departed Mother, starting the day after tomorrow. To say we are preoccupied would be the understatement of the Spring. If you don’t believe me, I’ll cut and paste a portion of my current task list in below. Although I’m sure you do because we’re talking about family death stuff here and people rarely joke about that, right? Maybe in your family:

  • Stain dock
  • Install dock
  • Fix and install boatlift
  • Build new stairs for Winchester (the bunkhouse I finished over the garage 2 summers ago).
  • Assemble and recover pool table
  • Seed lawns
  • Plant 3 gardens
  • Get port-a-pottys
  • Order dumpster
  • Find and borrow canoe
  • Schedule plumber, electrician and welder
  • Get boat trailer in Bancroft
  • Launch boat
  • Massive Costco trip
  • Wash bedding
  • Pick up kegs
  • Clean and furnish Winchester
  • Many, many etc.’s


That’s a miniscule portion of the tasks that must be completed before Saturday morning. Gwen and some family members get here Thursday night and a whackload more arrive on Friday. We’ll have tons of help – but not until the day before the big event. I’m quite certain, however, that we’re going to do just fine. I’ll be taking lots of photos and video of the event which will be eventually posted on the site Janet and I made for our Mom: Have a look even if you already have as I’ve added memorial details, tons of old photos I dug out of storage and scanned and people have let a bunch of wonderful memories. If you knew Bonnie I’d like to invite you one more time to leave one too.

So please forgive the inactivity. It will come to a screeching halt next week when the big weekend is behind us and Bonnie has been properly memorialized and remembered. Even though I’d naturally spend a good portion of the weekend choked up, what chokes me up more is the incredible response the event has had and the sheer number of people who have told us they are coming. High school friends (both my parents and mine), people Mom used to work with, people I knew growing up in Manotick, Boston, Toronto etc. Gwen is coming all the way from Florida so I think she wins the long distance prize. Which, luckily for me, is to clean the gazebo. Congratulations Gwen and we’ll see you tomorrow with you knee pads and wire brushes!

And in all seriousness – thanks again to everyone for all their support, fond memories, help and friendship. Mom was truly loved and she’d be beyond flattered by the festivities which will be taking place on the land she planned to retire to in her honor. So flattered, in fact, that she might even have had a second glass of red wine were she here on Saturday. Miss you like crazy, Bunz, and I hope you’re able to drop in and see the legacy you’ve left behind. From wherever you are. But just for the one day though because I’m here by myself most of the time and would probably be pretty freaked out otherwise.


33 Reasons Janet Rules

by Dave on May 6, 2009

in Heartwarming

I could actually list 33 reasons my little sister is the coolest – but that would take all morning. Will you good people settle for a quick 5?

“What’s with all the bubbles, bro? Mom says there’s no such thing as sea monsters.”

  1. She looks just like me. Not the other way around – I was here first.
  2. She loves to perform back-breaking landscaping work getting ready for her Mother’s memorial. Although that particular trait won’t begin until next week.
  3. She’s excellent at pool, and will only get better now that we have our own table!
  4. She actually cooks for fun. Which is, in turn, very fun for me.
  5. She is an excellent dog-mommy.

Pumpkin and Janet make up after the previous evening’s kerfuffle.
(It’s hard to see, but she has a ginormous bandage on her chin.)

Happy birthday Janet! Seems like only yesterday you were making fun of me for turning 33. Not so bloody funny anymore, is it? And what better way to celebrate someone’s special day than with embarassing photos I just dug out of storage? Actually, they’re not that bad – but only because there are still about 9 boxes I haven’t gone through. Perhaps we’ll require a part 2.


Janet and I have created a website for our Mom which we’d like to share with all of you:

If you would like more information on the memorial service we are hosting at our house next month, please visit the “Memorial” tab. We have included directions, local accommodation information and absolutely everyone is welcome.

We encourage you all to leave your own thoughts or memories of Bonnie on the “Add a Memory” page.

If you would like to contribute photos of Bonnie to the “Gallery” section, please scan and email them to dave (at)

Thanks very much for all of the support, calls and letter we received during the last two months. Mom was graced with some incredible friends. Hope to see some of you Saturday, May 16th!


Meet Owen and Max Harkins!

by Dave on April 22, 2009

in Heartwarming

As I eluded in Sunday’s post, at 5 a.m. on that magical morning the world became a better place because Max and Owen Harkins entered it. A big congratulations to Susan, Matt and their families. Of which I am glad to be a peripheral member.

Meet Baby Owen. We’re now officially only about 40 years from a sequel to Throw Mama from the Train.


12 Reasons Today is a Good Day

by Dave on April 19, 2009

in Heartwarming

1. One of my best friends in the world and his lovely lady had two healthy, baby twin boys this morning at 5:30. Susan and Matt – I love you, send pictures, I vote for “Owen”.

2. I made amends with an important person whom I was a fool to ever fall out with, and it feels terrific.

3. I just raked the lawn in a t-shirt.

4. Last night Boston kicked sweet hell out of Montreal. I entered my friend’s house wearing one of my Bruins t-shirts and was told at the door “You’re going to get your ass kicked wearing that in here.” To which I responded, “What the hell are this group of bumpkins going to do, bite my ankles?”

5. Today was the first time I stopped to pick up my mail and there wasn’t a single sympathy card.

6. I joined the Portland Historical Society and presented my website ideas to some of the board members Friday – which were received extremely enthusiastically. Yesterday one of them, an 82-year-old man named John, came over to the house to drop off photos of the 1985 sea plane crash he was in for me to scan. He rescued his son and another man and then had his house destroyed by a tornado 4 days later. You can’t make this shit up. Why is that a good thing? I just love living here and am meeting lots of amazing people.

7. Last night the same group of aforementioned bumpkins came over to my house after the game and the new basement has officially been christened by a proper Pye Party.

8. I just burned Hotel for Dogs, which Griffin assures me is an awesome movie, and I’m actually really excited to watch it tonight because there’s a Boston Terrier in a lead role.

9. I’m getting an iPhone tomorrow, because Rogers isn’t going to carry the Storm (jerks), and I always nerd out dramatically over new toys.

10. This time next week I’ll have over 400 satellite channels. That’s all I can say on that particular matter.

11. A guy I’ve only met twice at the bar looked up my number, called and asked me to join his Wednesday night beer league softball team. I have until Wednesday to give him an answer, but I already know it’s going to be a resounding “yes”. In a show of perfect timing, I was batting tennis balls for the dogs to chase a few days ago and I nailed one all the way over my neighbor’s hedge – so my confidence level is high.

12. I’m about to go burn scrap wood and trash . I simply loves me some fire.

This all begs the question – what the hell is happening to me? It took a while for the whole loss of Bonnie and Gord thing to properly sink in, but now I feel like some sort of switch has been flipped in my head. I feel thirty-five for the first time – and it’s OK. That’s right – My name is Dave, and I’m thirty-five.


Bonnie Eleanor Pye

by Dave on February 20, 2009

in Heartwarming

PYE, Bonnie Eleanor, age 68, graduate of Saltfleet High School and lifelong teacher of young minds, peacefully in hospital, Kingston, Ontario, after a lengthy illness, on Sunday, February 15, 2009. Bonnie (nee Smith), beloved wife to Gordon Pye, for over 40 years. Loving mother of David Pye of Portland, Ontario and Janet Pye of Boston, Massachusetts. Dear daughter of Claire Larson of Burlington, Ontario and the late Jimmy Smith. In keeping with Bonnie’s wishes, cremation will be immediate. A celebration of her life will be held at the family home in Portland, Ontario, on Saturday, May 16, two days prior to her birthday. For those desiring to offer condolences or to request further details, please contact her son, David, at: In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to a local cancer centre or palliative care facility of your choice.

Yeah, I wrote that for my Mom. It will be in the Ottawa Citizen, Boston Globe and Hamilton Spectator tomorrow. Please save me a clipping if you see it.


I created what’s known as “Linkbait” for a client this week, and I think it’s pretty damn good if I do say so myself. To any of my readers with a Digg account – We’re very close to going viral and I’d like to unashamedly solicit a few votes if I may be so bold. If this effort were sub-standard I’d never ask – this is something you can Digg in good conscience.

How can one make a decent living spending a massive amount of the work week compiling photos and writing copy for a list of funny barbecues? I wish I had an answer for you. I also invite you to post it to facebook, vote for it in StumbleUpon, Mixx, Reddit, etc. There’s a good readership. Sit, readership.

independence-daySo this post isn’t a complete waste of time for everybody else, I am extremely proud to be able to say – for the first time ever as an American Citizen – Happy Frickin’ 4th of July everybody!

I feel very lucky to be able to enjoy dual-citizenship, because I have such strong ties with both Canada and the United States – and I never had a choice.

I bleed red white and blue. And then red and white again. But whatever colors I bleed, they don’t run. Coo loo koo koo coo loo koo koo, and I regret that I have but one life to give for my province. Speak now or forever hold your poutine.


Godspeed, Harvey. Thanks for all the laughs.


In 1981, when I was 8 years old, my father brought me to see Raiders of the Lost Ark in Ottawa, Ontario. He was a stoic man to whom fatherhood did not come naturally, but we always found our common ground at the movie theater. I remember the night well, from the amazing film itself right down to checking the back seat of our Zephyr for mummies on the way home. Tomorrow, I am taking him to that same city to see Kingdom of the Crystal Skull – and the circle will be complete.

The only thing more unlikely than a fourth Indiana Jones movie might be that I once again live near Canada’s capital city… or maybe the fact that my 66 year-old father has a form of dementia that makes Alzheimer’s look like a garden party. If someone had told me several years ago that any of those 3 events were right around the next corner I’d have cheered, packed a snowsuit and then punched a wall in that order. Situations are what they are, and I hope that he enjoys himself and retains memory of the day to the extent that he can. It’s extremely strange to feel yourself slowly starting to grieve for someone who you still see everyday. It doesn’t take a narration by Freud’s ghost to explicate that the trip tomorrow is really for me.

I don’t often get personal on this blog, because sentimentality doesn’t tend to fit in well with giant squid news and dead hooker jokes, but the last couple of months have been rough. Things are sinking in, priorities shifting, novelties wearing off and I am starting to – dare I say it – grow up. I have to perform some calculated fat-trimming to my personal and professional life if I’m to be truly prepared for my next adventure. Sometimes, closure wears a fedora and hates snakes.

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See You in September

by Dave on April 22, 2008

in Heartwarming

Being invited to weddings is a good thing. You’ve done something right over the course of your life and been blessed with many friends. But is it too much to ask of all of my friends, many of whom don’t know each other and never will due to geography, to get together and space these things out a little bit?

My summer wedding total is now up to 4, count ’em – 4. And they are all in the month of September. I’m going to be running around like a chicken with its head cut off, and the executioner is going to be Williams Sonoma and Air Canada. Your wedding day is about me, afterall.


Charlie Bit Me. And it Really Hurt

by Dave on April 17, 2008

in Heartwarming

Harry has just learned a valuable lesson from his younger, hungrier and far more sadistic brother, Charlie.

Having just spent my allotted writing time on a doozy over at my SEM Blog, I’m forced to fire off a quickie here on PITF. But it’s a doozy of a quickie – I haven’t laughed this hard at an annoying YouTube forward in a very long time. Trust me – watch it, laugh, and keep your extremities away from Charlie at all times.

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