From the category archives:

Television

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.

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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

ken-ober-dies

“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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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Nice to see you again, little Quizzlet. It’s been far too long. I’m making up my own questions this week. They’re deliberately crafted so I can cover a few topics on my mind which might not deserve an entire post. Please take a silly stab at them yourselves in the comments.

dave-kenzieAppetizer: How does it feel to be an Uncle?
Feel free to now think to yourselves, “Wait, THIS doesn’t deserve its own post, jerktard?” Relax. There’s no doubt in my mind that wee Bonnie Mackenzie will feature as prominently on my blog as she will in my life. I’m driving to Jay Peak this very afternoon for a little skiing and a whole whackload of doting. My camera is charging and you’ll be sorry that thought ever crossed your mind when you’re assailed by at least 7 baby videos on Monday. Oh for shame.

Soup: What movie should win the Oscar for Best Picture on the 27th?
I’ve now seen all the nominees except Toy Story 3. I bought it for my friend Mary’s kids but have heard it’s rude to open and watch a DVD before giving it to a child for Christmas. Regardless, at this time in our conversation I feel comfortable giving you my one/two-sentence opinions on the other 9 nominees in descending order of adoration:

  1. The Fighter: I loved this movie, can’t wait to see it again and sincerely hope that it wins. If you haven’t seen this yet, ask yourself, “why?” and then ‘speedbag’ your own breasts/ballsac.
  2. True Grit: I already knew every line of the original 1969 version but the Coens, Jeff Bridges and especially Hailee Steinfeld put thoroughly re-watchable (I’ve now seen it 3 times) fresh spins on the source novel.
  3. Winter’s Bone: The world desperately needed a redneck meth mystery and this one cooked up real good.
  4. The King’s Speech: The cast and director of my predicted winner did this amazing script proud while shedding light on a fascinating royal who’s been all but forgotten by history.
  5. Black Swan: No desire to see it again, didn’t exactly cry when it was over (although I did feel like taking a shower) but Portman deserves the nod for Best Actress.
  6. Inception: Definitely deserves the Oscar for Best Special Effects in a year full of standouts (ahem, Tron) but as a whole this embarrassingly overrated movie bored me. Shouldn’t be nominated in this category.
  7. The Social Network: Enjoyed Fincher’s work here as I always do – but I’m  tired of hearing about this flick and want it to go away.
  8. 127 Hours: Boyle and Franco made an impressive team but in a year already full of worthy contenders this nomination reeks of silly overstuffing as it has no chance of winning.
  9. The Kids are All Right: Gotta call it like I see it here – not that remarkable a film and more overstuffing directly related to Hollywood’s gay marriage fascination popular social themes. 

A quick note on what isn’t on the Academy’s list – I’m definitely not the only person who thinks that at least a couple of films on the above list should have been replaced with The Town. Affleck’s a bit of a douche but he’s definitely coming into his own behind the camera.

Salad: Did Gervais go too far at the Golden Globes?
Are you kidding, Quizzlet? He made watchable an obligatory, self-serving circle-jerk designed to appeal to the foreign press. Next year hold it in fucking Brussels. Any Hollywood heavyweight who shows up for an award show where The Tourist was nominated for best picture with a straight face deserves whatever Ricky dishes out. He’s one of the funniest humans alive and I have been a huge fan of his for over a decade now. Watch him tear Tinseltown’s elite a new one below…

Main Course: Which weekly TV series are you currently geeking-out over?
Glad you asked, Quizzlet. Season 2 of Justified starring Seth Bullock Timothy Olyphant started this week and rest assured that’s a very good thing. Better yet, grab yourself a jar of apple pie flavored moonshine and sit your damn self down in front of the TV next Wednesday at 10pm. But it’s not all redneck’s n’ roses – while one of my favorite new FX series got renewed, the woefully under-watched and underappreciated Terriers didn’t make it off the beach.

Time’s James Poniewozik ranked Terriers at #10 on his Top 10 List of television shows in 2010. The Daily Beast’s Jace Lacob selected the show as part of his top 10 shows of 2010. HitFix.com’s Alan Sepinwall ranked Terriers at #3 on his top 10 list for 2010 as well as #1 on his list of best new shows of 2010. The AV Club ranked it as their number 7 show of the year.

There’s no doubt in my mind FX knows how to market a new show. If I see one more promo for Lights Out or Archer I’ll probably start watching them (who am I kidding – I already do. FX shows rule). I think the network underestimated Terriers and the resulting lack of faith was reflected in the minimal advertising campaign. If there’s any good news, it’s that Terriers had a recurring plot arc which ran in one form or another through the entire 13 episode lifespan. That, coupled with the optimistic and open-ended finale, will make it quite enjoyable as a stand alone season. Seek out a torrent (shhh!) and I’ll post a link to the DVD if and when it’s released. Check out the awesome, cheeky little theme song below. We hardly knew ye.

Dessert: What is the airspeed velocity of a European swallow?
Enough already, Quizzlet. I have some work to finish up and still have to drive to Vermont today. I’ll see all you fresh-faced kids next week.

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Now Hoarding at Gate 6

by Dave on September 7, 2010

in Television

Regarding the older episode of "Hoarders" that aired right after the season premiere last night: One decade-old kitty corpse in your house is nasty. Two? Well, that just "reeks" of a larger problem. See what I did there?

dead-cat-hoarders I thought my Grandmother’s basement was bad when, whilst clearing it out in the Summer of 2007, I found the blackened top of my parent’s wedding cake from 1966 (among other similarly odd treasures). But when you’re actually misplacing house pets as they’re crushed underneath mountains of fast food containers and kipple – it’s definitely time to call your son in Seattle, who looks like he may have been a member of Screaming Trees at one point, to come to the rescue. And perhaps a very talented psychiatrist.

The popularity of this cringe-worthy A&E show isn’t hard to understand. As I wrote about 6 years ago when talking about The Real World and other popular reality shows of the time, these televised train wrecks make us feel better about our own lives and the comparatively petty day-to-day dreck we choose to worry about obsessively. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m positive my dentures are right here under this mountain of Taco Bell hot sauce packets.

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Losing Your Boner

by Dave on February 23, 2010

in Television

Andrew Koenig I’m going to employ one more play on words and then I’m done. Gee, Valentine’s Day sure is an tragic time to misplace your boner. That’s what Chekov’s been thinking, anyway. I’ll explain. Walter Koenig, of Star Trek, has a son. He is none other than Andrew Koenig, a.k.a. “Boner” from Growing Pains – he is missing and has been since Valentine’s Day. Due to him refusing work, being depressed and selling belongings prior to his disappearance his friends and family are fearing the worst. Has Boner shuffled off this mortal coil?

“Don’t you ever think that getting by is getting old?” – Not sure what that means, but I’m sure it’s pretty deep, whoah.

andrew-koenig It’s not just crewmembers of the Starship Enterprise concerned for Andrew’s safety. He’s apparently quite well-liked in comedy circles and everyone from Sarah Silverman to Doug Stanhope have been Twittering away in the hopes of finding him.

The last tangible clue police have is that his cell phone received a text message in the middle of Stanley Park in Vancouver two days after he was last seen, and he never made it back to his home in California. Something unfortunate is afoot, and I hope Richard Stabone’s mortal vessel is found safe and sound. A great character from the canon of 80’s sitcoms, and apparently a decent guy to boot.

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Florence and the Machine's Lovely Bottom As the credits rolled and the highlight reel spun at the conclusion of Friday’s 10th and final series of the UK’s Celebrity Big Brother, a song which played overtop really, really caught my attention. After some research that song turned out to be Florence + the Machine’s You’ve got the Love, as I’m sure you’ve already surmised. I have enjoyed BB and CBB (The Davina McCall created Channel 4 versions only) for at least half of the decade during which they’ve helped define British television and the moment was a sad one for me. Perhaps that’s why I was susceptible to this particular ditty, but susceptible I was. Nearly a week later I am still so enamoured that, in the first instalment of Wadio since early August, I’d like to share.

A quick note to my readers who don’t usually share my taste in music – do yourself a favor and watch the video anyway, as Florence has a truly breathtaking hiney. If spectacular buttocks are what it takes to convert a new F+TM fan, then so be it. She put them on full display for a reason.

Florence has the love. And a legendary rump.

“I want my music to sound like throwing yourself out of a tree, or off a tall building, or as if you’re being sucked down into the ocean and you can’t breathe,” – Florence Welch.

florence-youve-got-the-love-ass-video-bum Florence says she writes her best music when drunk or hungover because that’s when she finds herself “most lucid”. As she’s from South London, I’m sure there were lots of opportunities to be lucid whilst growing up. The “+ the Machine” half of her stage name stems from the fact she’s backed by a revolving door of musicians and DJs, the focus remaining on her alone. Likely as a result the music press frequently compare her to Kate Bush. Regardless of how she got here, Miss Welch is making a huge dent on the music scene and I’m glad I finally noticed the bandwagon careening past. Did I mention how absolutely enraptured I am with her hindquarters?

There’s also a great “Live from Ibiza” version fans of the song should check out. Her stage presence is impressive. As this year’s 3rd place CBB winner, the almighty Vinnie Jones, was prone to say in the house: “It’s been emotional”. So, yeah, my initial reaction to the tune was inspired by a bit of sad melancholy – but the song fits the mood. Praise and thanks be to Davina and Florence.

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As an admitted anglophile – someone who likes all things British and definitely not someone who hangs around near Saxon playgrounds – I have always been a fan of the wonderful show, Dragon’s Den. Fledgling entreprenuers climb a flight of stairs into the vertitable den – coming face to face with the dragons who are 5 accomplished, and very wealthy, businesspeople looking to invest money in new ideas, start-ups, inventions, etc. They either love the idea and compete to outbid their peers (“I’ll give you 100,000 pounds for 35% of the company.”) or tear the hopeful pitchers to shreds (“You’ve got a better chance of seeing a one-legged cat bury a turd on a frozen pond”. Here is an especially humorous clip from the original British version to give you a better idea. A very creative pitch goes a bit awry…

Canada’s CBC launched their own version of Dragon’s Den 3 years ago and my old friend Gary wrote to tell me he auditioned for the latest season this week in Hamilton, Ontario. I was suitably impressed and also glad to hear that apparently the day went very well for him. Looks like there’s a very good chance he’ll make it to the den – and if not, good on ‘im for trying. You can see him giving a mini-pitch to a camera here – he is second in the montage. It’s worth a look to see his futuristic soul patch alone.

Gary’s company, ePixome.com, has actually been quite successful and he’s been slugging away at it for the best part of a decade. I may make fun of his facial hair from time to time (and head hair for that matter), but he went from over $60K in debt to profitability after landing contracts with a variety of NBA teams. So what does his digital media marketing company do, exactly? It’s very cool – he allows sponsors to brand digital photos that his team take of fans at sporting events, concerts, etc. Everyone who is in one of the free photos is given a card with a serial number on it which can be entered at the website for access to the photo. It’s proven popular to date and Gary’s plans now include his new site, Fanaticam.com which brings videos from events under a more targeted digital media sports marketing model. Frankly, I like his chances. Mainly because they don’t use real dragons.

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…And I’m Out Like Swayze

by Dave on January 9, 2009

in Television

swayze-the-beastPatrick – Pye in the Face is pulling for you. Looking forward to the premiere of The Beast on January 14th, and I sincerely hope it doesn’t end up being your swan song. Pneumonia and cancer, however, do not tend to mix well. My thoughts are with you, Road House Curse be dammned.

Beast executive producer John Romano added that Swayze gives the show 100 percent. “He’s bringing the force of his own personal struggle into the performance,” he said. “He does it five days a week, 12 hours a day.”

Patrick fans, early reports lead me to believe that his new show might be something very special. Tune in to A&E this Thursday when we all get to see for ourselves. Hang in there, sir.

In a cruel twist of timing last year, Swayze learned of his diagnosis four hours after The Beast had been picked up for a full 13-episode season. Despite Swayze’s condition, A&E stuck to its commitment, in large part because Swayze was so keen on continuing. Swayze subsequently missed only one day of work during the first season of The Beast, which was shot in Chicago and completed last November.

The man is truly as tough as Dalton.

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Say Goodnight to the Bad Guys

by Dave on December 11, 2008

in Television

There are no words. I will let Clattenburg do the talking and ruminate further in a future post.

“Over the past few months there has been a lot of discussion among our fans and those in the media about the future of Trailer Park Boys. Will there be another season, another special, another movie? The last thing we want to do is keep our loyal fans in the dark about the show we have all loved doing for the past eight years, so we’d like now to shed some light.

We have a final one hour television special, Say Goodnight To The Bad Guys, which goes to air on Showcase on Sunday, December 7, 2008. Then after that, our sequel movie, Countdown To Liquor Day (working title), is due to be released in Canadian theatres in October, 2009.

But, after that, there will be no more. Yes, it’s the end of Trailer Park Boys. Our fans have been so supportive and inspiring that we wanted you to be the first to know. Much love and thanks from all of us at Sunnyvale Trailer Park.”


“I love all creatures. Like gophers and deerts, and all those flying things and everything else – but seagulls i got no time for those cocksuckers.”

It’s going to be tough going without you boys, but I’ll manage. Somehow, I’ll have to manage. Raising a glass of Jiffy Wine to you, sirs.

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“I’m just terrified to get up on a stage with them all again… because no one has ever tested me like they did. You always had to be at the top of your game.” – Martin Short in the Toronto Star

benefit-of-laughterFirst and foremost, I’d have to be a complete and utter jackass to presume I could effectively “review” an event of this magnitude, so please consider it a… loving memoir. A week ago tonight I had the severe pleasure of attending SCTV’s Benefit of Laughter, which was a charity event held to raise money for the Second City alumni fund. To say it was a hot ticket would be the biggest understatement of the 24 years since the beloved station stopped broadcasting in 1984. For two side-splitting performances SCTV was definitely back on the air – onstage in a small theatre in Toronto – and it was a wonderful sight to behold.

I let a week pass before sitting down to write about the night because I wanted to be able to consider, share and link to what other bloggers and the media wrote about the events. Surprisingly there is very little mention of the actual performances online – nothing, actually – and my site is getting the bulk of the related search engine traffic. I’d be writing the show up regardless, but now I feel obligated. So wish me luck, grab your Count Floyd 3D glasses and hang on to your toques.

An SCTV Reunion? Don’t Play With my Emotions Like That.
The Toronto Star interviewed all of the SCTV principals just before the two shows last week in what is probably the best pre-event article you’ll find. Catherine O’Hara (excited), Eugene Levy, Andrea Martin (scared), Joe Flaherty (sorta looking forward to it) and Martin Short were all obviously more than happy to perform together again and to raise money for their Second City peers. The Star did a wonderful job of ramping up to the event, so please read their piece for the full story.

I already mentioned a lot of the background and how my sister and I came to be VIPs for the event in a prior SCTV Reunion post. I’d love to be able to report that I’ve become Catherine O’Hara’s cabana boy, but alas – we paid our way in and sprung for the top tier tickies. I knew it was a great cause and once in a lifetime experience going into it, but after being there – I think I would have paid far more. Perhaps even hocked my Five Neat Guys LP collection. It was good.

Goin’ Down the Road
sctv-castAlthough we originally drove from Ottawa for the event, my sister and I spent Sunday night at our cousin’s in Hamilton. We struck out for Toronto at around 5:30pm on Monday figuring 2.5 hours would be more than enough time to get into the city, drop my car off at a friend’s and then get a cab over to Second City. Toronto traffic, a bastard of a GPS system and one insane cab driver on mentholated schnapps later we were 10 minutes late for the show and just closing in on the location. May I suggest to Second City that in the future they print their address on tickets? Schnapps isn’t particularly good for one’s sense of direction. I’ll give them this, though – they actually called my sister’s cell phone to find out where we were and to make sure we knew how to get there. I know there was a long waiting list, so I’d like to thank them for taking that extra step and not giving our seats away.

We finally got there, were asked by the doorman if we were the “last two everyone is waiting for”, and were shown to our great seats just as the first sketch was starting. We were at a small table in the middle with a lovely couple who eventually introduced themselves as the director and his wife. Thank you for the nachos and Brian – well done, sir! He let on that he was a little nervous about how the show would play out and said that the cast had only one evening and one full day to rehearse and prepare. Since the show was over two hours long I can understand his concern. I noticed that the hysterical laughter surrounding him on all sides definitely had a calming effect. After the show, his super-friendly and lovely wife (whose name escapes me) told me that she mentioned to Eugene Levy and Martin Short that the people they were sitting with had come from Ottawa and they were quite impressed. And by “impressed” I of course mean “ready to file restraining orders”.

Let There be Laughter
How on Earth do I do justice to the actual show? I didn’t take notes – I thought some other blogger who was a bigger SCTV nerd than myself (it happens,) would cover all of the painstaking details. But they haven’t and all I hear are internet crickets. I’ll summarize my favorite sketches and anyone looking for more info or explication is free to leave comments or send me an email which I promise I’ll answer. Please limit your inquiries to the SCTV reunion, and not as to whether I’m a complete waste of space with a drinking problem.

  • Meeting With the Teacher: Catherine O’Hara played an overwhelmed school teacher in the opening sketch who had called together the parents of her 4 worst students. The reasons behind the children’s struggles soon became very apparent. Edith Prickley, a grumpy Italian (Flaherty) a nerd (Levy) and a creepy dude reminiscent of Nathan Thurm (Short) made up the parents. O’Hara: “Where did your son get such a dirty mouth?” Flaherty: “How the fuck should I know?” Audience: “We are in absolute comedic and nostalgic bliss”. I’m allowed one James Lipton moment, no?
  • mocharie-pyeThe Job Interview: This sketch starts out with the big boss (Levy) introducing himself to a job applicant (O’Hara) and then asking if it’s OK if they have a group interview to save time. He then says that the other applicant will be arriving shortly. At this point, I leaned forward and whispered to my sister “I bet Ed Grimley’s gonna come through that door”, and wouldn’t you know it – he did. I lost it and had my first of many laughing fits complete with streaming tears. And guess who got the job? O’Hara’s parting line to Grimley: “You’ll be in my prayers, sir.”
  • The Variety Show: Although I’m still miffed Count Floyd was absent from the show, if Bittman and Maudlin hadn’t made an appearance I might have gone on a tri-province shooting spree. The first of two references to John Candy was made when Sammy Maudlin mentioned how much he missed having William B. as his sidekick. Bobby Bittman came out to plug his new book “Born Lying Down” and the segment was topped off by a visit from Jackie Rogers Jr. and Lola Heatherton – fresh from being booted off dancing with the stars. They proceeded to demonstrate their final routine as I proceeded to snort Molson Canadian up my nose and then all over my brand new shirt.

This post is getting frighteningly long – those were my 3 favorites, but really just the tip of the iceberg. Colin Mocharie appeared in a sketch at a funeral for a man who died with his head in a can of pork and beans and also did an audience-suggestion improv bit with Martin Short and several members of the current Toronto Second City Cast as well as Women Fully Clothed. Robin Duke stole every scene she was in, by the way, and was very nice to me at the after party when I accosted her while she was getting a coffee. Joe Flaherty made sure everyone remembered John Candy when he mentioned him during the standing ovation and let everyone know just how much he was in their thoughts. “He’s here!” someone shouted from the audience, to which Joe smiled and said simply: “That’s right“.

After the Party Comes the After Party
We never touched our wallets during the entire performance and the after party next door at Wayne Gretzky’s was no exception. Tray after tray of hors d’ourves, wine, bottled water and pints made the rounds. Janet and I grabbed a couple of beverages and began to wander.

ohara-janet

A backdrop had been set up for official photos to be taken, but none of the cast had appeared yet. The photographers, a pair of cool and bald twin brothers, asked us if we wanted a photo and we agreed, knowing full well they just wanted to test their apertures, f-stops and such. We ended up carving out a nice little spot for ourselves right near the impending action though, and even met a nice couple to chat with. It turns out Jack had been to my blog that very day when looking for info about the show. People tend to remember one-syllable last names that are synonymous with a dessert.

short-pye

We weren’t allowed to take photos during the show, but my snaps from the party speak a thousand words, with one exception. My sister’s deceptive flash caused me to turn my head a second too early so Martin Short can now count himself as one of the lucky few to be photographed with the elusive sasquatch. All the cast members were happy to pose and chat with their fans, and the highlight of my life evening was managing to make both Mocharie and Flaherty laugh. Although it may have been nervously. Please enjoy the SCTV Reunion Gallery and I hope you enjoyed my affectionate write up. I’ll never forget the experience and count myself lucky to have been there.

More SCTV Reunion Stuff (as I find it):

  • Interview on CityTV: Andrea Martin says the audience at the first show was like an extended family. Aw, shucks!
  • 680 News Interviews: Audio interviews with several cast members before and after the show.
  • Comics Pay tribute: Several well-known comedians explain why SCTV is so special to them.
  • SCTV Locations: Trevor also attended the show and may be the biggest fan of the show in existence.

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I Can Die Now.

by Dave on May 6, 2008

in Television

The only thing better than meeting Martin Short is having a photo taken with him in which you look like you’ve been struck in the head with a cricket bat that has several bricks nailed to it.

short-pye

I waited 34 years to get a photo with this man, and look at the result. I suppose it’s sorta fitting and funny. As JV put it – Martin short looks like he’s being accosted by a “drunk mountain”. I’ll write a full report on the evening when I get back home tomorrow. Dig on the SCTV Benefit of Laughter Gallery here!

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As my Cadbury Cream Egg hangover slowly wore off this morning I remembered a little news item I’ve been saving for the right moment. Perhaps I’ve just been hesitant as I thought talking about it might jinx this historic and amazing event in some cosmically unfortunate manner. Because it’s literally amazing in a ‘pull your balls out on the subway and sing Happy Days are Here Again’ sort of way. Here’s the rub: My wonderful sister got wind of an SCTV Reunion a couple of weeks ago, and before even telling me about it she’d procured two tickets to the event May 5th at their 51 Mercer Street location in Toronto.

sctv-reunion

“I am thrilled to have this wonderful collection of Second City alums come home and support their colleagues and friends who may be experiencing some difficulties in their life.”Andrew Alexander – Proprietor/Executive Producer

My inside (literally) source, whom I shall refer to as “magic 8 ball”, tells me that the charity event is to help Tony Rosato with his treatment and/or legal bills – it’s no secret that he is currently incarcerated at a mental hospital in Ontario. Although I’m sure he isn’t the only alumnus to fall on hard times, he’s certainly the most well known having been an original member of the SCTV troupe, and he also spent 2 seasons (1980 & 81) on Saturday Night Live as a writer and performer. Here he is performing a skit with Robin Duke in 1979 – who can forget Crazy Crafts with Molly Earl ?

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LdBec1pYM5k[/youtube]

Tony is and was a very funny man and for a while Lorne Michaels had very high, Belushi-esque, hopes for him. He apparently suffers from Capgras Syndrome which is a delusional belief that a friend or loved one’s body has been taken over by an imposter, Invasion of the Bodysnatchers style. It’s no joke, I wish him all the best and although I’m quite certain there are many who’d be happy to take my place now that the event is sold out – I’m very happy to be able to contribute to his cause. Here’s Tony with Eugene Levy doing Abbott and Costello, also from the early series #3.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6JNS19XBjBQ[/youtube]

As if simply being at an SCTV Reunion wasn’t enough, I was further gob smacked to learn that my dear old Sis sprung for the top tier tickets which get us into a private cocktail reception with the cast. So we’ll be having drinks and hobnobbing with the likes of Martin Short, Eugene Levy, Joe Flahrety, Dave Thomas, Catherine O’Hara and Andrea Martin. Colin Mochrie will also be performing and I imagine lots of other Canadian Comedians will be on hand to support the cause. Will I finally get to meet Aykroyd? Will Marty do Jackie Rogers Jr. for me? Will I be escorted out while howling loudly like Count Floyd? All signs point to “yes“.

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