… I was slamming the tim-tam
Herein: the Parkas, TV on the Radio, Yeah Yeah Yeahs
On Tuesday, February 28, The Parkas closed out their “Month of Tuesdays” internship at the legendary El Mocambo tavern, and they did it in great form. This was without a doubt a great great show, one of their best, despite all the technical flaws and the absentee keyboardist (whom I’m not sure if they’re a solid member or not yet). It was definitely not their tightest set, however, but the between song banter was engaging and amusing.
The showstopper was a haunting and utterly captivating rendition of “Every Light Is Red”, which stopped all audience chatter cold, to the point where you could hear a guitar pick drop. It sent shivers up my spine and the crowd loved it.
During this month-long tenure, the Parkas tweaked their sound (the added a keyboardist, as I said, whether temporary or permanent is yet to be seen), tested some new songs (an even more diverse range of sound coming your way), and tweaked some old ones (”Giants In My Field” noteably). They are certainly polishing up nicely.
One issue though, the table and chairs at the El Mo are death for a rock concert. If your not standing, or if there’s no floor space up front and center to pose all hipster mannequinesque or bop around like a free-form jazznova hippie it’s an almost death knell for the performers on stage. It takes so much longer to get into a live concert when you’re sitting down. I know it’s weird, but you feel the energy so much more when standing up.
TV on the Radio, opening for Yeah Yeah Yeahs was a welcome release from the cheesy Fubar-the-musical warm-up act Death From Above (I think, didn’t care to take notice). I didn’t know headbangers and death metal were still a reality in Toronto. Sad.
TV on the Radio opened up with an impromptu round of “Happy Birthday” and cake presentation as two of the team, singer Tunde Adebimpe and singer/guitarist Kyp Malone were celebrating their birthday. Then the boys proceeded to rock and rock hard. Crossing the line between Massive Attack post-modern psychedelia and dreary prog of the Pixies (an article in this week’s eye sites their styles as “bedroom electro-pop, soul, doo-wop, Krautrock, primitive Suicide-style synth-punk and the fuzzed-up cleverness”, all of which are true… but we don’t want to label them now, do we), the power of their sound is undeniable. Concurrently aggressive and laid back, hard and mellow… there’s a duplicitous nature to the music that both puzzles and delights. A sort of “where are you going with this? oh, I wasn’t expecting that” kind of vibe.
The impact of the music would have been tremendous, however, this evening they were performing with Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and well, they were completely exclipsed - lunar and solar at the same time by Karen O’s seemingly boundless energy and her unbeatable stage presence.
Karen O is a powerhouse. Vocally, she’s in a narrow league of female singers that are so distinct they can never be replicated. In total she’s a cross between Mick Jagger, Bjork and Joan Jett, and yet she stakes her own place in the annals of rock and roll.
She strikes a pose, she bops around stage, she bites her microphone, she spits water into the crowd and gives herself a shower. She thrashes, she laughs, she’s graceful and grateful, appreciative and overwhelmed. She’s edgy and mesmerising, and she has a hell of a throwing arm as she lobbed a hefty chunk of Kyp’s birthday cake 3/4 of the distance of the Phoenix, right into my midsection. My arm and torso were smothered with chocolatey icing goodness and I proceeded to eat the lump of cake and clean myself off as the Yeah3 went back to rocking.
There are few individuals that can have an entire audience eating out of the palm of their hand like that. I’m sure Jagger could do it, and I know Jonathan Richman can, and I’m sure there are a few more but the YYY frontress is easily near the top of that heap.
You can catch the Parkas on Thursday, March 4th at the Chart Magazing Canadian Music Week Showcase at the Horseshoe.
You can see TV on the Radio headline also at the Horseshoe on April 14th.
Blasts from the pasts and deja-vu are always nice little distractions. I’m never sure what they mean though. Sometimes moving on is forgetting the things you left behind, and sometimes moving on means always remembering them. It’s always confusing as to which is which. But in either case, dwelling on the past is never healthy… but what constitutes dwelling on the past?
I’ve had to think about this kind of stuff lately, with people from my past popping up here and there, and sometimes I just don’t know what’s what nor what to do.
An good friend of mine from my Lakehead days (we met in business classes during first-year), surprised the crap out of me earlier this year with an email (our first contact since bidding farewell at graduation) out of the blue (was that redundant?). We shared a few emails back and forth and then it fell off when I sent the last e-mail and never got an email back. You ever have that? When you email someone and you don’t receive a response back, and then you don’t know what to say next? Well, it’s like that, coupled with the fact that I’ve been busy at work and relatively tired of computers at home (of course I could be writing an email now, but I’m not… but blogging requires less thinking).
I know I’m awful at it too though, often people will write me back and I have time to read it but no time to respond immediately, and then time passes, and more emails accumulate in your inbox and the message you’ve been meaning to respond to gets buried and … hey, I have cake on my belt. Sorry. Got distracted, by the cake… on my belt… well, actually it’s icing. But that story’s for the next post.
There’s not a month that goes by, though, that I don’t wonder what someone that I havn’t interacted with in a long time is up to. Sometimes I’m just curious as to where they are in life, and maybe sometimes I want that friendship back. I’m not sure if either thought is healthy or not.
University was an interesting time in my life, a time where I really came into my skin and grew as a person. I changed quite a bit, thanks to the many good friends around me, and the roles I had on the student newspaper. Producing “the Argus” was a definite labour of love (as the money was token at best… $125 for 30-60hrs of work a week? Yeah). The people that surrounded me, with few exceptions, were great great people, and during the time I was on the paper (3 years staff, 1 year contributor) it felt almost like family, in the same way that the Justice League winds up being like family: a number of people of different backgrounds and interests working towards a common goal.
But take away that common goal and what do you have? Is friendship still there? In some cases yes, in others no.
But there was a guy, K, who wound up being a quite good friend regardless. My year as Editor-In-Chief he was my right-hand-man. The following year, the roles were reversed. We shared a lot of interests in terms of music and entertainment, humour and pop-culture, and our lives were in a similar status being in the same program and dealing with rather serious relationships. When I left town after university, we would sporadically send an email over the next year, and when I returned to Thunder Bay we would run into each other from time to time, and hang out once in a while.
But then Toronto called and I got a new life, in a matter of speaking, and over the past nearly 3 years I’ve been having difficulty maintaining a lot of friendships at the pace I once did. There will be times when I don’t see or speak with my close friends for months on end, and while it saddens me, I know that a lot of the time I just don’t have the energy to put into it as well, not to mention the fact that I’m meeting more and more people.
So anyway, I’ve been having weird moments lately where I think I see K’s girlfriend from back then (they were still together when I last saw him, although she was in Ottawa at school) all over town. But I don’t, it’s just someone that looks like her. That is, until yesterday, when I was walking along Queen Street, headphones on, rather ignorant of the world around me, and I passed right by her, the same unmistakeable smile I remember her having. But it was one of those things where it takes a few seconds to click in.
Normally I would have turned around and said hi, but I was really running late for a meetup with someone, and if I saw her once, surely I would see her again (a likely thought).
I wound up at my destination point, Queen and Yonge, and Mr. 3×2U was not there yet. I didn’t know which corner he might be standing on so I leaned up against the North-East building, all cool non-chalantly and casually looked around. Then BLAM!, blast-from-the-past #2 comes walking across the street. No, not Jeremy, but Streetcar Accident Girl. I didn’t recognize her at first, but when she did a double take, I noticed. She turned away shyly and crossed the road quickly (or perhaps I’m reading into things…), then I spotted Jeremy making his way up the street.
We headed on up to the Phoenix for the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s gig (an early show with doors at 5:30) where we were to meet up with my Dirty Monkey partner Gary (who made his way in from New York especially for the show… oh and a little of the work-related stuffs during the week). The show I’ll tell about later, but after the show, it was blast-from-the-past number three.
Yeah, it was K, of all people… too weird. I gave him an old holmes hug and we searched for business cards/pen&paper to exchange info. K produced first so I’ve got to make first contact, which should be a cinch, though I don’t need to do it ’til Monday when he’ll actually be at work.
With all this backtracking going on I wound up having a pretty fucked up dream last night, where in K’s (ex, I found out) girlfriend wound up sitting behind me on the streetcar one day. I leaned my head back, and had a smile on my face. I said “Hi C!” in my most excitable voice. She was nonchalant and said non-effusively “Hi Graig.”
“How’s it going?”
“I’m not in a good mood.”
—It became one of those cinematic dreams where the conversation continues normally, there’s a cut to a new location, a time jump that wouldn’t make sense if it weren’t for pacing purposes—
Suddenly we were outside of a Wal-Mart on a bright sunny day. I said “How come” and she said “I don’t want to talk about it.”
“Oh” I said, and we were inside, wandering down the health and beauty aisles.
“We’re not together anymore you know?”
“Yeah,” I said, not mentioning that I’d just ran into K the night before.
I grabbed a bottle of Pert Plus that was in with the Dove shampoo. “I havn’t worked here for 3 years,” I said, “but I still have this annoying habit of putting everything back in it’s proper position. I don’t know. It’s some weird compulsion”.
And then C started letting loose about some shit she was going through with her legal clerk.
“I’m a legal clerk, you know,” I said.
But she kept ranting, and walking really fast. She wasn’t trying to lose me, but she was rambling and shopping like I wasn’t a going concern. She didn’t care if I kept up or not. And as she talked there would be skips and we’d wind up different places all over the store, until we were heading towards the exit, C getting ever further ahead of me, when I got stopped by an elderly gentleman, his white, white hair contrasting against his deep brown skin. He stopped me and whispered in my ear something I couldn’t quite understand, but by that time she was gone, out the door and through a green curtain into a dark place with the sound of sexual moaning emerging. I kind of puttered around outside the curtain for a minute or five, but the moaning, neither of enjoyment or distress, never stopped. So I left, back inside the store, where I disappeared, and woke up.
It was a strange dream and I couldn’t get back to sleep, and for a moment I thought about C, and K, and all the other people that I think about from the past of my life, and I felt scared for a few minutes. My heart raced and it seemed almost a nightmarish burden to have to have known people… a weird, inexplicable and irrational thought first thing in the morning.
Not a blast from the past, but also as I was walking along Queen Street yesterday I saw that lead singer guy from Sum 41. He’s as short and funny looking in real life as he looks on tv. I’m sorry, but it had to be said.
I will strive to make more contact with these people I knew, and of course I need more diligence in communicating with the people I do know. I have a package or three of heartwarming entertainment to send some friends, and I have some emails to write as well. Maybe tomorrow. Tonight, it’s an out of work social, which may sound weird but will sure be fun.
Hi, my name is Graig.
I’m turning 28 this year, and I still don’t know how to cut my toenails properly.
I get a batch of comics from my Northern Retailer once every couple of months, consisting of the majority of my regular monthly titles (the only monthly I pick up locally is “Plastic Man”, but we’ll get to that), and a chunk of trade paperbacks (usually between 5 and 20, depending on the visa max).
Without quantifying it, it may seem like a lot, but when you consider that my quarterly batches run around $300, compared to the $50-100 I’d spend every week back in the day… well, I’m learining to refine my tastes
Toast boy and I did the trade-in (wherein we took almost random piles of comics and traded) a while ago and I got to read a whole slew of new things. Favorites included the seriously trippy “Paradigm”, the disturbingly funny “Arsenic Lullaby”, the old written-by-actors series “Comet Man” and Steve Niles’ 30 Days of Night/Dark Days. Amidst a mish mash of single issues was good and bad, the odd X-men comics, a “Hulk” comic, “100%”, some weird indie things, “Automatic Kafka”, and more… even some stuff I had been wanting to read like Warren Ellis’ “Mek” and Grant Morrisson’s long out-of-print Vertigo one-off “Kill Your Boyfriend” turned out to be disappointments.
Since then I’ve been picking up random first and single issues of stuff to give them the old try-out. Havn’t really found much to like.
Mark Millar’s “the Unfunnies” is more a warning than a title. The intent was to use cute cartoony characters to do over-the-edge things to make them seem trivial. If anything, it backfired as the juxtaposition was even worse.
DC’s “HERO” is a fun comic, the likes of which I hadn’t seen in some time.
Wildstorm produced a compilation COPS spoof called “MASKS”, which, even with the talent of Ed Brubaker, Judd Winick, Patton Oswalt, Richard Corben and more still failed to be a good idea.
The new “Conan” book from Dark Horse looks really good (art by Cary Nord, who, iirc, used to do new talent book “Showcase” for DC in the mid-90’s) and it’s written by Kurt Busiek, so it’s going to be well done I’m sure. I’m just not into the whole fantasy and broadsword thing.
Steve Niles continues to spread himself as thin as Brian Bendis with the intriguing-but-not-yet-good “Fused” about a guy literally stuck (As in trapped) inside a robot suit.
Not quite sold on Steve Gerber’s Hard Time yet. This is the first release of DC Comics’ Focus series. A line of comics about regular people in the “real world” with abnormal abilities. I’m willing to give the next few issues a chance though.
Judd Winick’s “Caper” about turn-of-the-century Jewish mafia was compelling, until the story wrapped up in issue 4. Apparently the 12 issue maxi-series is 3 tales, each 4 issues. I’m sure the rest will be good, but the story at the end of issue 4 didn’t seem over.
“Malinky Robot” is a beautiful pencil-drawn book by Xeric award winner Sonny Liew, but unfortunately, there’s no real story or interest or characterization beyond the way neato art.
Crossgen’s “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” is yet another spy/James Bond homage/parody. The genre is tired. Please people, let it rest already.
In my regular happy reading section:
The “Dark Reign” storyline bridging “JSA” and “Hawkman” together has been very intriguing, although the fact that I had to hunt down the Hawkman issues (including the sold-out everywhere latest issue) really pisses me off (grdmnfkncrossovers). Both series’ are written by Geoff Johns, so the issues flow together pretty well (barring the artistic differences), except that naturally the “Hawkman” issues are going to put things “Hawk” related to the prime (whereas the “JSA” issues are centering on Atom Smasher’s inner conflict). The surprise at the end of the 5th episode made me very giddy, so I don’t contest that the latest “Hawkman” issue shouldn’t be a rare find… it just bothers me that I can’t finish the story yet.
Oh, and I’m not keen on the new “JSA” artist. Blech, he’s kinda sucky.
I also finished the 6-issue “Formerly Known As The Justice League” mini, which entertained me like nothing else could. Giffen, DeMattis, Maguire and Rubenstein havn’t lost an iota of their touch from the glory days of the Justice League (/International/America/Europe). This book has a comedic timing that 99 percent of hollywood comedies and network sitcoms can’t even touch… plus Maguire’s artwork is an absolute treat. Always has been. There’s really nobody like him.
Apparently a sequel called “I Can’t Believe It’s Not The Justice League” is on its way, and thank god for that.
Battle Royale volume 2 brings down the pace from volume 1, to add a lot of characterization in, mainly of people who get their heads blown of shortly after a 30 page trip down memory lane… but hey, it works. The book is grizzly and yet touching, despite some choppy (and no doubt forced, to fill in word balloons) dialogue.
And then comes “Plastic Man” by Kyle Baker. What an intriguing series. Baker’s using his new favourite art style of computer animation to bring the comic to life, and the visuals really pop in a cartoony style. Unfortunately the dialogue is way too hammy to really make this book matter. But I’m sure it’s completely in the Jack Cole tradition… although I’ve had no first hand experience with Cole’s PM.
More bits and bites coming your way as I plough through my pic of ‘mics.
The years-long battle between Neil Gaiman and Todd McFarlane is over for all intensive purposes and, well, McFarlane lost and lost large.
The oral arguments (mp3 link) from the last stage of appeals were, well, funny at worst, absolutely hysterical at best (it could be because I have quite an interest in copyright law though… seemingly a better understanding than McFarlane’s lawer at least… I mean, the guy tried to argue that copyright doesn’t start until a character has established himself as an important part of a story/series. Right.)
Anyway, all of this means that essentially Gaiman owns 3 of McFarlane’s key Spawn characters, Cogliostro, Medievil Spawn, and Angela. In this post on his journal, Gaiman wonders what he’s going to do with the characters he now owns, but also he mentions that he can now proceed with his Miracleman plans…
Ah, Miracleman/Marvelman… the copyright on that character has never been straightforward, but here, Gaiman tries to set things straight:
From another source I also got to see the original contract, under which Eclipse had obtained their license to a part share in the Miracleman character, and it was explicit in saying that in case of Eclipse folding, or even substantially changing directors, that Eclipse’s share in the rights to Miracleman would revert.
as well as give a little sneak at what he has planned.
(All of his entries have many links to other reference points about the intricate complexities of the Neil vs. Todd legal battle. It’s a fun story. Someone should write a book).
The thing that gets my goat about this entire situation (and it’s not even this situation but McFarlane in general) is he left the atmosphere of Marvel and founded Image because he felt restricted and that his creator’s rights weren’t being respected. Since then, McFarlane has been reported on more than one occasion to be worse than not just the big two (Marvel and DC) in terms of respecting creator’s rights, but possibly one of the worst offenders ever.
Okay, that’s a little overboard, but still take his toy production empire that he’s created. He lost a large crew of his sculptors, who consider themselves artists and creators, because he refused to give them credit for their work on the toy packaging. As far as I’m aware, he still does. That’s one example.
The whole Gaiman case, in which he promised him an equal or better deal than what DC was giving him at the time (and he was in the thick of Sandman at this point), but look at what’s happened….
And then there’s Steve Niles and Ashley Wood, both highly acclaimed for their work on McF’s “Sam and Twitch” but both left disgruntled with working for McF.
I’m going to try and track down these stories, a little later… but they are there. I think some of these issues are even addressed in the Canadian National Film Board’s documentary film on Todd called The Devil You Know.
National Geographic takes a look at Japanese macaques. This species of monkey have become accustomed to the human society and the edible handouts they’re given. Now living without the need to hunt and forage for food, these primates have developed their own leisure activities and unusual peculiarities. They have games they play with stones and they now wash their food, a trait passing down through the generations.
(via Circadian Shift)
If you are somewhat tuned into the independant and/or documentary film scene, you’ve probably heard about The Corporation, a documentary that will appeal to fans of Michael Moore (Bowling For Columbine), Naomi Klein (”No Logo”), and Eric Schlosser (”Fast Food Nation”), and will anger right wing fatcats because of its depiction of the corporate entity as villain…
Well, it’s true isn’t it?
Anyway, this film has been running to strong reviews in Toronto’s rep cinema for about six weeks now, but now you don’t have to leave your home to watch it, because if you live in Ontario (and some parts of Quebec, Manitoba, and the norther parts of select United States) then you get it for free, cable or not, on TV Ontario (in 3 parts).
The Corporation makes its television debut on The View From Here Wednesday February 25, March 3, and 10 at 10:00 p.m.
Part 1 is repeated February 29 at 12 am. Part 2 repeats March 7 at 12 am and Part 3 repeats March 14 at 12 am
(thanks to the single girl, nice catch!)
Last night’s Gentleman Reg show was the last show I will attend with my gig buddy Sara, and today I’m kind of bummed, knowing that I shall not have the pleasure of her accompanyment to music shows on a regular basis again.
We of course will have email and the odd phonecall, but our in-person interaction is somewhat hindered by the interference of this body of water they call “the Atlantic Ocean”.
Sara and I met in line outside the Horseshoe last year at the CBC night during Canadian Music Week (or was it North By North East?) in June of last year. We were both waiting to get in to see the Hidden Cameras, and the lineup just wasn’t moving. I had my Michael Moore book out, and Sara was reading a magazine of some sort, both of us reading by the light of a used bookstore two doors down from the ’shoe. Ten o’clock hit and the store shut down for the evening, taking our reading light with it. I made a comment on it, and Sara made a comment on Michael Moore and we got to chatting, connecting immediately.
We became fast friends from there, and back in November when Sara announced that she was preparing to move to London she called me ‘ the ideal gig buddy’, and I’d say that she is too… this is from an email she sent me last week:
-you love the same bands i do
-you go even when you are poor, and instead of complaining about it, you
just don’t buy alcohol
-you like to bail when i do…weeeeeeeeeee
-you are always on time
-you find gigs as much (probably more) than i do
-you don’t shush people during gigs ;)
-you hate magicians!!!!!
-you look good in a concert-tee giggle
-you have great between set banter
-you smile a lot, even when tired/poor/mind elsewhere
And I can easily say all is the same for her. Not only is she a great gig buddy but she’s also a great friend. I’m going to miss her immensely and I wish her all the best over in England.
Cheerio, S. I’ll come over (sometime soon hopefully) for a gig. Hee.
Spirited by this post over at Chromewaves wherein Frank alerts us all to the Sun Media Top 25 TV shows ever (with their juxtaposed worst list, I figured I’d do my own favorites list…
But first, I must preface this by stating this list is (obviously) personal opinion, and that many choices (as indicated) I like a little too much without the actual quality of the programming to back it up.
I created the list before I read the Sun list, and after reading the Sun list, I’ve decided that their list is based on a TV shows impact instead of the overall/continuing quality of a show (how else can you explain how the presence of the Simpsons, X-Files, David Letterman, Star Trek and Saturday Night Live on the list?)
Here’s my list, subcategorized, in no particular order… details to come
The Sandbaggers - An amazing British spy drama set almost entirely in the beaurocracy which the spys operate under. Each episode was 55 minutes of dialogue which sparked of insider knowledge.
The Prisoner - Experimental, frustrating, and utter brilliance. The conundrum of each episode is a marvel of storytelling.
Kids in the Hall - sketch com that’s never been done better, except by…
Monty Python’s Flying Circus
Seinfeld - exploring the nuances of daily life through characters that do and say everything wrong, yet it all comes out so right.
Cheers - even after eleven seasons they still went out on a high note. A testament to the strong writing, talented acting, and endearing characters.
Six Feet Under - I may have only watched the first season up to this point, but it’s easily the best drama that’s emerged in the 2000 decade. Yup, even better than CSI
Twin Peaks - there’s something to this show, the overblown soap operatics, the postively Lynchian screwball elements, and the murder mystery, all of which combined to make something that was never seen before, or since.
Futurama - Sadly, it was shut down long before it had exhausted its full potential. Gladly, it never had the chance to jump the shark like the Simpsons did. Three brilliant seasons available on DVD (well, season 3 coming soon)
King of the Hill - compared to Simpsons or Family Guy, an extremely tame family comedy, and yet, it’s consistent characterization and the fact that it operates with continuity make it a more endearing and actually a funnier show.
Father Ted - the series writers claim to have run out of steam on this Irish comedy set in a remote Parochial house, but the series was far from tiring of its concept. Loveably flawed characters, and a host of oddball supporting repeat characters, plus poking fun at the church… how can you go wrong?
The Daily Show (with Jon Stewart) - since 9-11 the show has taken a much more political slant (straying away from the absurd elements it started out with), but it’s still laugh out-loud funny.
Scrubs - currently, the only network sitcom worth a damn.
Space Ghost: Coast To Coast (plus Aqua Teen Hunger Force/Sealab 2021/the Brak Show/Harvey Birdman: Attorney At Law - the Adult Swim Line-up, it’s cheating but I still kind of count them all as one show) - old and crappy cartoons spawned new life as surreal 15 minute situation comedies, talk shows, courtroom dramas and non-action-adventure series’. Innovative and insane.
Not so easy choices::
The Newsroom - a satire of the Canadian public television news system, sometimes a little over the top, sometimes a little under the radar, sometimes a little oblique… all smacks of brillance.
Babylon 5 - the first (and only) television epic to be properly executed as per its creator’s desires. J. M. Straczynski wrote the entirety of Seasons 2, 3 and 4, half of season 1, and the majority of season 5. What Star Trek paved the way for, B5 fulfilled the space epic promise.
Mr. Show - difficult sketch com that demands repeated watching.
Fawlty Towers - it may have been voted the best tv show in britain, but it’s a challenging show nonetheless because Basil is such an unlikeable character, and yet, you still can’t help but pull for him.
The kid in me choices::
Batman: The Animated Series - Batman finally done right in moving pictures. Kevin Conroy is the perfect Batman, Mark Hamill the perfect Joker.
Spongebob Squarepants - brilliantly absurd and yet still simple enough for kids to understand. Another in the line of bite sized animation (under 15 minutes) that understands that animation really has no limits, so it’s comedy doesn’t need to either.
Sentimental favorites which shouldn’t be on a best-of list::
The Flash - hey look! it’s Dawson’s dad running really fast. I have many episodes on tape and it still makes me grin… but I understand why it didn’t last.
Vengeance Unlimited - Michael Madsen leads a small team and calls in some favours to help out the innocent but proven guilty. Like a modern day A-Team, but using brains instead of guns.
Iron Chef - two Japanese chefs face off in a battle for honour and prestige. Unusual, addictive, and more mouth-watering than real sports.
Mystery Science 3000 - a smart ass host and two smart-ass, cheaply made robots make fun of really bad films. A simple concept that can make your sides hurt.
Space: Above and Beyond - military drama set in space. Great action, great characters, great drama, shortly lived. There’s something wrong with that equation.
—if we’re counting to 25, then these ones don’t count—
Too short a run to really count::
Clerks: The Animated Series - six episodes of pop-culture referencing fun
The Tick - the Seinfeld of superheroes, cut down just as it was gaining steam. It easily had 20 episodes in its concept.
Twitch City - a “sit-com” by Don McKellar that defies description.
Black Books - a surly, drunken bookstore owner doesn’t want to run his bookstore, but doesn’t want to do anything else either. Alternately silly and sharp-witted, from one of Father Ted’s creators.
Sentimental favorites that got progressively worse and are now almost unwatchable::
X-Files - The show got better and better up until season five (post-movie) where it levelled off, and then began a steady decline from season six on, to the point by season 8 I just couldn’t watch it get anymore convoluted.
The Simpsons - While there was no definitive “jump the shark” moment (perhaps when Maude Flanders died?), the Simpsons has been on auto pilot for six years now, and shows none of spark it once had. The fact that there’s always an episode on 24 hours a day doesn’t help either (although the really good earlier episodes are watchable ad infinitum, recent episodes aren’t even watchable once)
Ren and Stimpy - a generation of animation owes a huge debt to Ren and Stimpy, unfortunately all its genius was wrapped up in one man, John K. When Nickelodeo canned him, they effectively killed the series, even though it ran for another 3 seasons without him.
South Park - they killed Kenny one too many times. Parker and Stone are two smart guys, but they weren’t smart enough to see that they would get tired of doing the show around season 4 and still have 3 seasons left on their contract to produce. Now they just push the envelope of boredom instead of inspiration.
Alias - it’s starting to get really really cheesy and repetitive… expect X-Files levels of convolution by season 5
Sex and the City - by the end of season four, the team had expired all the dating and relationship cliches, so all of a sudden the characters, not the situations took focus. I then realized the characters are really awful and hardly worth rooting for anymore.
Havn’t seen at all or enough of, or recently, but think may rank::
Dead Like Me
Coupling (British version) - I’ve caught three or four episodes on PBS and enjoyed it quite heartily. Friends meets Sex and the City.
Freaks and Geeks - the fans of this show are die hard, but then so are Trekkies…
Sledge Hammer - 80’s shows that have been off tv since the 80’s are always suspect
Max Headroom - set 20 minutes into the future, it’s not just a character created for pushing Pepsi [correction, Coke(New Coke?) - ed.], but a clever comment on society at the time.
Invader Zim - I’ve seen a bunch of these, another in the line of 15 animation brilliance. A youthful alien named Zim comes to take over earth by first infiltrating it’s culture… its 5th grade culture. Classmate Dib is a conspiracy theorist set on taking Zim down. Created by Johnny the Homocidal Maniac and Squee artist Jhonen Vasquez. The animation is unbelievable.
Buffy: The Vampire Slayer - The first two seasons were addictive, still need to see the rest.
Current Favorites but too soon to tell::
This Is Wonderland - a canadian courtroom drama that doesn’t play out like actual Canadian courtrooms.
Justice League - some really really great episodes, and some barely passable ones. This is the superhero cartoon I’ve been waiting my whole life for
———–Worst of All——————
These have got to be the worst shows I’ve ever personally watched (although I may have enjoyed them at the time):
Small Wonder - the absolute worst! I even hated this as a 12 year-old, and I liked both
Knight Rider and
The Dukes of Hazzard when I was 12. I’ve seen them both within the past 4 or 5 years… and they suck and suck hard.
Late night tv starring Jay Leno/Mike Bullard/David Letterman and Craig Kilborne - in that order. Jay is whiny and ass kissing. Mike is completely unfunny and uncomfortable in front of the camera. Dave has adopted an heir of complete apathy towards his job. Craig is just an unjustly pompous ass.
Ricki Lake/Jenny Jones/Jerry Springer/Montel Williams/etc. - trash tv make my brain hurt
Learning the Ropes/Check It Out (CTV sit-coms in the 80’s) - one starred a former footballer as a professional wrestler/single father raising a family. The latter starred Don Adams as the manager of a really shitty looking grocery store.
Bizarre - John Byner is the first officer of unfunny… I think he spawned Roman Danylo, who hams it up on Comedy Inc., the heir apparent to shitty Canadian sketch com.
Beverly Hills 90210 - old people playing young people acting like old people. Bo-ring.
Kevin Spencer - made excessively cheap, and it qualifies as Can-con, thus why it’s STILL on the air. Ugh.
Select seasons of Saturday Night Live - it’s now official, there have been twice as many sucky seasons as there has been good ones, and 10 times as many sucky sketches as there has been good sketches and there’s been an equal amount of sucky cast members as those that are actually talented.
WCW Wrestling - one could speculate that wrestling is just bad altogether, but Vince McMahon’s WWF-come-WWE has always had a flair for putting on a spectacle beyond the physical wrestling that people would be interested in, story arcs for the wrestlers, and catch phrases… all of which WCW - once appropriated by Ted Turner - couldn’t emulate.
Crank Yankers - the jerky boys with puppets. Oh. Right.
Barney and Friends - I understand that kids shows are supposed to entertain children, but they shouldn’t annoy the piss out of everyone else.
Beavis and Butthead - see trash tv above
Star Trek (all incarnations) - the first series had its merits but the hammy acting and cheap sets make it a joke. As audiences get smarter Next Gens use of absurd sounding terminology make the dialogue cringe worthy, something that is perpetuated through DS9 and Voyager. Long expiring the innovation of trekking through the stars, Enterprise tried to breathe new life into the series by scaling back on the tech but you can call it limberger, gouda, havarti or parm, it’s all still cheese.
Curb Your Enthusiasm - I don’t dispel that it has some funny moments, but they are derived from infinite sequences of uncomfortableness that are cringe worthy and unwatchable.
Baby Bob/Look Who’s Talking - anything with talking babies or animals that isn’t a cartoon is just creepy.
Suddenly Susan - I don’t think Small Wonder was ever on network television, thus Suddenly Susan is the worst network sitcom ever made.
A Wedding Story/Anything to do with weddings (reality TV shows involving weddings/engagements included) - does anything say schmaltz more than video crews intruding on every aspect of someone’s marriage.
Battlestar Galactica - ouch. just… ouch.
Saved By The Bell and all it’s NBC live action Saturday morning spawns - they stopped airing the Smurfs for this shit. Situation comedy that wouldn’t make it in prime time runs for years on Saturday morning, proving exactly how stupid the youth of the nation are.
Are You Being Served? - Jesus, don’t those people ever die, they just keep getting older and older looking, and they were old to start with
Just For Laughs Gags - it’s the only thing unfunnier that the tone-down, all-ages friendly acts the comedians deliver during Just For Laughs. Hidden camera joke shows… sheesh.
Acting Crazy - a Canadian game show with host Wayne Cox, which featured low-grade Canadian celebrities and, inexplicably, Sally Struthers playing alongside contestants in a sort-of charades-style game show, awful. It sadly replaced Bumper Stumpers.
Tarzan/Sheena/Adventure Inc./The Lost World/Beastmaster/Conan/Sinbad/Xena/Hercules and the spate of syndicated fantasy genre t.v. that continues to this day - do people actually watch these shows? And if they do, can they distinguish between them? Because I can’t.
Hey kids, not many posts here this weekend, but lots of Graig-like entertainment around the web… starting with look at all the movies I’ve watched this year (31 since December 31st… I would say, WOW, I need a life, but I’ve also started writing a new book, I’ve been out to a bunch of different music-related events and I still have a job. Plus I found me and the mizzuz a new apartment, and donated my car to charity. This is unusual, me being this productive.)
I must warn you all about the horror that is Skye Sweetnam, which infected the Jonny James/Spitfires & Mayflowers/Gentleman Reg gig on Saturday. (Really kids, heed this warning. Skye is falling and bringing lots of suckage your way.)
(also, I know I should just turn the comments off on this post, because I know I’m sure to get a lot of teenybopperfangirls writing asking for Skye to send an autograph or something… but at the same time, I like a good laugh at brainless wee children’s expense)
Spellbound DVD reviewed.
Lest we forget, I’ve been making SOUP! (I also made a raisin pie, just before my oven blew up and the window collapsed in…
I take a look at the best and worst Television shows, sparked by the Sun’s Top 25 TV Shows and Worst 25 lists
I couldn’t imagine a year ago that I would be as excited as I was to rent a film about spelling bees… especially a film that I had already seen… about spelling bees.
Spelling bees? What could be more boring than spelling bees?
It’s true, not much, and yet, if presented properly, it could be the most entertaining, fascinating and exciting film you’ve seen in some time. And, you know what, Spellbound is.
As much as I enjoyed the film the first time around, being extremely pleasantly surprised upon leaving the theatre, I enjoyed Spellbound even more the second (and third) time around.
This documentary captures something that scripted fiction never could, no matter how good a script or how talented the actors: the truth, as it observs the lives of the 8 children the film is centered upon. But the truth of the situation these kids willingly participate in is not the whole story, as the family dynamic and the unspoken subtext that is portrayed in each of the children’s lives is something that couldn’t be recreated.
This film is not about spelling bees. It’s not about competition. It’s about the kids and their support base, and the rationale behind why they go through this process that brings some children to tears. Documentaries like this one fascinate us because the people in the films aren’t normal, per-se. These are some really intelligent kids, some more so than others, but all of them gifted to some degree or another beyond the average 9 - 14 year old. Their parents at the same time aren’t average people, as they are called upon to nurture their child’s (or in some cases, children’s) gift, and each deals with this responsibility differently. There is a point, however, of relation to each of these characters, whether they remind you of your own childhood, or of your own parenthood, or just of someone you know (and the film is edited in such a way that you see just enough of the kids and their families to capture a charicature of them, but not a fully developed character).
What makes Spellbound such a great film is its watchability, the insight into other people’s lives, and the juxtaposition of different families and cultures (whether it’s regionally, ethnically, or socio-economically). It’s a film that allows you to observe and later discuss and hypothesize on the family dynamic and what might be the mitigating factors behind the differences between them.
Another fun observation is the difference in learning, training, and ultimately the competing techniques employed by the children.
The DVD features an excellent commentary with the director, editor, and sound guy, all of whom spent much time with the families and came to embrace and understand them in a different way that the film viewer would. From their experience they relate even more information, sketching out their subjects even more.
The extra footage on the DVD features three more profiles of children that had to be excised from the film for time concerns. Here we get the same 7 - 8 minute observation of these children, their family and their preparation, followed by their performance at the Nationals and the postscript to their story. These three stories are no less interesting and no less entertaining than those in the film (they were arbitrarily taken out of the first 3hr cut of the film). In fact I found all three of them to be even more curious than some of those that were presented.
Like the audio commentary, these stories simply provide more fuel for the after- film engagement, as there are three further stories to contrast and compare.
Spellbound, is divided into two acts: profiles and competition. The former provides the interest and the investment, while the latter provides the drama. Yet knowing who wins the National Spelling Bee does not hinder the continued enjoyment of the film, because, as it is said a couple of times throughout the commentary, the competition isn’t kid versus kid, but kid versus dictionary and ultimately kid versus themselves.
This is hands down my favorite film of 2003 and already a strong leader for favorite DVD of 2004. My only disappointment was with the rather uninformative “where are they now” special feature (roughly one paragraph on the current status on each of the kids).
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3)Spitfires and Mayflowers
1) Skye Sweetnam
So I step into the Riv at 9:30pm and I could swear I’ve come to the wrong place. An email from Gentleman Reg said this was a guys’ night out, and that there was most definitely a girl on stage (and I stress “girl”… she couldn’t have been more than 16). She was wearing leg warmers and fishnets and a ruffled dress and a canvas jacket and an elbow brace. She had crazy Alannah Myles 80’s rawk grrrl hair and a trendy mole above her lip.
Her backup band was a collage of Limp Bizkit lookalikes, one guy in camouflage shorts (shorts! in the middle of winter), another in a tight fitting toque (or maybe that was the same guy), all with their post-teeny-bopper facial hair or stubble. They bopped around stage as if they were actually enjoying the tired, retread music they were playing.
The girl could sing, but it was that generic style of singing that the radio-man/Muchmusic ‘jays loves to play from 4-6pm. She had her well-practiced-in-front-of-a-mirror moves which she stole from the Alanis “You Ought To Know” video (or whomever stole it from her, twice removed, because this child definitely wouldn’t know Alanis). Anyway, it was comedic an very bad. And what made it worse was I spied Canadian Idol judge and record exec Zack Werner amongst the crowd of… well there was no crowd. There were maybe 20 people in the bar, half of them quite confused (the other half enjoying their fake-id purchased beverage). This scared me because I didn’t know if he was there scouting or there promoting (I found out later that, yes, it was promotion… of some sort).
I don’t know what the hell it was all about, though. Putting an underaged girl up on stage with creatively devoid at a respectable indie music venue on a night when three such indie bands were to perform. What was the deal? Anyway, it gave me a laugh as well as a shiver, as I realized that Canadian radio and popular television is going to be inundated with this tired shit (if it hasn’t already) for the next nine months (”my new album comes out in May. Now this next song is for the girls out there, because boys suck” I had to choke back some bile. There wasn’t a sad pop-rock-girl cliche she didn’t explore).
I have to say this, little girls are going to love her. And I noticed on a gag-inducing check of her website that she’s going on tour with Britney. Hoo. Ray. Protect your radio now, kids, switch it to CBC and bust the dial.
2) Jonny James
Jonny wasn’t having a good night, apparently. Firstly, this was his last show with his drummer (who was off to join Sarah Harmer’s band. Secondly, he said, earlier that day he just smashed his car into the back of a truck full of Puerto Rican construction workers. Finally, he broke his gear on-stage quite early on, and had to plug directly into the amplifier (”doing it old school” he said.)
this week’s batch:
Strangers on a Train:
classic hitchcock, solid acting, and a fun plot… all amounts to a great
film (which I’m surprised hasn’t been remade yet)
Bridget Jones’ Diary:
more Sex and the City-ish fun than Pretty Woman-style chick-movie tripe… actually quite entertaining
a crazy japanese sci-fi/fantasy/horror film that’s really not any of those
three genres. It’s an action movie set in the woods. There’s 112times as
much action as there is dialogue and the “plot” doesn’t really make any
sense at all. But the action is great over-the-top fun. Zombies and
eternal warriors and ex-cons and mobsters and government agets and thugs
all duke it out, in the woods. Nutso.
a mocumentary about “headbangers” that plays like a documentary…
reminded me of American Movie. Things are generally more serious than
comedic, and the actors are so good you completely forget it’s acting.
It’s so close to real… amazing. And Canadian.
the counterperson at the video store was right, this is one depressing
film… but it’s not awful by any means. Philip Seymour Hoffman puts up
another stellar performance as a man who refuses to open his wife’s
suicide note. He becomes addicted to huffing gas and remote control
planes, and loses all control on his life.
It’s sad and captivating at the same time… obviously not a film for
everyone though. Kathy Bates is perfect support, and Bates and Hoffman
make a powerful (non-romantic, thank you) on-screen duo.
I had watched this in the theatres mid-2003 and was in awe of it… revisiting it on dvd and I am now even more so. The people featured in this movie are such the honest characatures that they must be real, defiantly so. The audio commentary and excised footage of the three other subjects that were removed from the film are must see/hear accompanyment to the film. My favorite movie of 2003.
I was on the phone yesterday with a feller from another continent (a typically polite bloke from Londontown, Englishland). He was wondering where a specific document that was supposed to be delivered to him the day before was. I inquired with the appropriate people and related back to him the status of that contract. In the midst of explaining the situation he said this to me, in a polite Briton accent:
Look mate, I know you’re just eating a sandwich here, but I don’t believe a word of it…
“Eating a sandwich”…?
Can I get an interpreter over here?
Listening to Metro Morning yesterday on CBC 1 and host Andy Barrie did a piece on “A Place To Stand…”, the Oscar award winning short film about Ontario that, if you’re my age or older you probably have some familiarity with.
The video was created for - and became the centrepiece of - theOntario Pavilion at Expo ‘67 in Montreal, and was used thereafter as a promotional piece for the Province of Ontario for many many years, and the song from the video was used incessantly. Come with me down the time tunnel and recall (or sing with me):
Give us a place to stand
And a place to grow
And call this land Ontario
A place to live.
For you and me
With hopes as high
As the tallest tree
Give us a land of lakes
and a land of snow
And we will build Ontario
A place to stand, a place to grow
from the Scouts Canada website. The song, apparently, was written by Delores Claman who also wrote the “Hockey Night In Canada” theme (with composition by Jerry Toth).
Of course, you may have heard this quite recently in one of two places. First, you may have seen a parody about three weeks ago on Rick Mercer’s Monday Report, where he emphasize the “grow” part of it, turning it into a promotional video for Ontario’s pot growing capacity (you may have observed this circulating around the web over the past few weeks). Of course this was made right after the huge marijuana find at the former Molson’s factory in Barrie, Ontario.
And then you may have heard the song again last week while Late Night with Conan O’Brien was in Toronto, on Friday’s show, when Jim Carrey came out singing the song, then got Conan involved, and tried to turn it into a round with the audience.
Anyway, these two very large exposures of the long-ago promo campaign have generated some heat, enough to make for a potential Ontari-ari-ari-oh! comeback… but then listening to Metro Morning this morning, Barrie mentioned in a follow up that the rights to the video/song are held by someone in California. I’m not sure that this would hinder the whole resurrection process, but it certainly would be aggrivating to have to funnel money into California for an Ontario-based promotional campaign featuring a video about Ontario.
Any fan of Kevin Smith knows he has a great affinity for Canada and Canadian culture (and a little special extra something for DeGrassi Jr. High)…
Also, any fan of Kevin Smith is usually a frothing at the mouth ravingly devoted fan of which I used to count myself as legion… until the crap that was Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, a film which played out like a 90 minute cliche of Smith’s own creations. I also started to get dissuaded with Mr. Smith and his work when I read the much discussed Superman Lives script… which had a great first act (excellent scenes between Lois and Clark) and barrelled headfirst into convolution and unnecessary tongue-in-cheekyness for act two and a dreadful third act. It’s no wonder Tim Burton ditched the script (not that I don’t have my problems with Burton as well).
And then there was Smith’s much touted run on Green Arrow, which failed to endear me to the character and also failed to really entertain me. Not that it was horrible, but simply mediocre (but Onomatopeia was a cool and clever creation).
So what it all comes down to is, am I willing to spend $47.50 of my hard earned money to see “Kevin Smith Speaks Out” at the Roy Thompson Hall in Toronto on Friday March 12?
I’ve not decided yet.
Do I dare surround myself with the throngs of ass-kissing fanboys asking nuanced questions starting with “In Clerks the Animated Series episode 3, why didn’t Jay and Silent Bob…”?
*NB* let me just say that I still adore the first four Smith films very much, and do look forward to Jersey Girl, despite most others’ reservations.
I absolutely adore the DVD format, and I’m so incredibly glad that the media makers have embraced it so.
Some people may get excited about all their favourite movies on DVD, and I have to admit in the early days I was too. But the real potential of DVD shines when it comes to TV shows on DVD. I love the fact that I have the entire run of Monty Python, the Prisoner, and Father Ted sitting on my shelf, and there’s still room for lots more. I get excited when an old show I used to love but never see in repeats gets released… and I love the convenience of being able to watch a favorite episode of the Simpsons, or X-Files, or Aqua Teen Hunger Force without having to wait for it to appear in someone else’s scheduled rotation.
That’s why it brings me great pleasure to announce these (all reports stolen from the mega-cool TV Shows on DVD website:
Six Feet Under: Season 2 has finally been announced and it’s set for release on June 8th. It’s about time.
Sets for Fox’s Harsh Realm (an extremely short-lived and underappreciated military-cybertech show created by X-Files’ Chris Carter, loosely based on a comic book of the same name by J. Hudnall) and Millenium (a dark paranormal detective/murder mystery show set in the same realm as the X-Files, starring Lance Henrickson, its 3 seasons were more consistent than most of X’s) are on their way. Really, I don’t care about them all that much, but it’s the fact that Fox is holding out on releasing Space Above and Beyond (a futuristic military epic created by The One and Final Destination team of Glen Morgan and James Wong … but don’t hold that against them) depending on the performance of Millenium and Harsh Realm DVDs that has me both excited and anxious.
Space:AaB should be a benchmark for the release of lesser programs like Harsh Realm and Lone Gunmen, not the other way around. It was such an amazingly well produced show with a totally engaging cast and future vision that kind of mirrors the cinematic version of Starship Troopers, only it takes the war very seriously.
Fingers crossed on that one.
This doesn’t excite me as much as I know it will a certain floaty person, but Northern Exposure is having a first season release on May 25 after much solicitation and cancellation back-and-forth.
SCTV is back on the air as the first set of season 3 (technically) is being released. Wait, what happened to season 1 and 2? Well, basically, season 3 was where most of the Second City crew felt they hit their stride, producing 90 minute programs after SNL on NBC. The first set will have 9 - 90 minute episodes, and further sets of 90 minute episodes to follow. Depending on performance, the first two Canadian seasons and the follow-up seasons may or may not appear.
Jem (that one’s for Jay)
Dead Like Me
Freaks and Geeks
I’m still lobbying for the 1990-91 series, the Flash (based on the comic book) and the 1998 (I think) Michael Madsen series Vengeance Unlimited.
I don’t want to be that guy. You know that guy… the guy who gets misty and sentimental in his blog over trivial matters, despite the fact that those matters actually make him misty and sentimental.
But then, these aren’t trivial matters. And I’m neither misty nor sentimental. I’m just a little shaken and disturbed. 2004 was supposed to be “the Best Year Ever”, it is afterall the monkey year… and monkeys, despite frequently being patient zero (0) in films like Outbreak and 28 Days Later, are inherently Good Almost-People (GA-P).
I’d say perhaps maybe things are on a good outlook for me personally, but then what’s more personal than family members contracting cancer? Oh, there I did it. I said the “c” word. One member on my dad’s side, another on my mom’s. Breast cancer and Hodgkin’s Disease respectively.
You know, I’ve lived my entire adult life without a fear of contracting cancer. I never thought it was a part of my family’s genes. Then, this all pops up, and mom tells me that my great grandfather died from colon cancer and my great uncle’s had it twice now.
Yeah, I had a testicular cancer “scare” last year… not that it was scary… in fact I just sort of said “if that’s how it is, then that’s how it is” and I imagine it’s the same for my family members. Hodgkin’s, especially caught at this early stage, is better than 90% chance of recovery. On the other side, she’s losing her breast. I know both family members are dealing with their ordeals stoically, and in support the rest of the family will deal with it the same, coupled with love.
I’m not going to let it get me down. No no no no no.
I also found out that Uncle Bert died this weekend.
Uncle Bert was my grandmother’s brother, I believe, my father’s uncle in any respect. I don’t recall too much about him, except my sister said he used to give us popsicles and candy when we were down at the lake in the summer.
I also used to laugh whenever I heard Uncle Bert’s name mentioned (okay I still do) because I’d always say it in my head the way Ernie would on Sesame Street.
I don’t know enough to say that he was a great man or a good man, but he certainly was a kind man that I can recall, and that’s never a bad thing to say about a person after their death.
I’ve never really feared death, but I do have a healthy respect for it. Nah, I don’t want to die, and I especially don’t want to die painfully, so I avoid such activities, generally, that will put me in a great deal of seriously agonizing pain and a prolonged death. Of course I don’t want to live painfully either, so I tend to avoid activity altogether.