Saturday, August 30, 2008
Friday, August 29, 2008
It harkens back to that classic 'bouncing ball' Nike ad he did way back when...
Because it makes me smile.
H/T to Henshaw
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Because maybe this time it will be different.
I suppose it's not unlike starting a new gig on a TV series. There's a nervous excitement...you'll try to look more presentable, perhaps brush the teeth and comb the hair after donning a new shirt. And you pack the computer bag with new notebooks and a package of your favourite pens. And you definitely absolutely try to get in early.
But before long you're dragging your sorry tired ass in as late as possible, maybe even wearing the same top you wore the night before. You know, after you realize its just another 8 month gig (like another school year), and you make a few friends but the jerks are still jerks, and it's really just about grinding out the scripts (homework)...getting there early and all the 'appearances' stuff seems kinda irrelevant.
I guess you could say going to school prepares you for working in TV.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
So keeping it short and sweet, go check out THIS POST at Just Thinking... by Earl Pomerantz, a terrific TV writer with a long track record primarily in American sit-coms. He talks about the ageism settlement that a group of writers recently won (as also reported by Nikki Finke) against the ICM Talent Agency, and whether discrimination was really at play here.
Why are agencies and the studios and networks discriminating against older writers? Do they despise them? Are older writers perceived as being genetically inferior? That can’t be true. Their genes haven’t altered from when they were young writers, and fully employed.
What’s the reason older writers are discriminated against? Is it “Wrinkle Envy”? What?
Older writers are not hired because they are perceived as being unable to provide material that will deliver the younger audience advertisers require the networks to attract. Agencies are dropping them, because they can’t get them any work. In other words – an argument can be made – and probably has been – that that this has nothing to do with discrimination at all. It’s simply a matter of business.
It’s an argument that cannot be easily dismissed. Can you imagine a similar lawsuit being brought against Major League Baseball by a group of fifty year-old ballplayers?
He's got a good point there. And then Mr. Pomerantz neatly brings it around full circle:
In the article about the agism lawsuit, a writer named Larry Mintz was mentioned as one of the plaintiffs. Among his credits, it was reported, were Sanford and Son, The Nanny and Family Matters. These are estimable credits on successful sitcoms, but do those shows bear any resemblance to the half-hour comedies they’re making today? (This is no shot at Mr. Mintz. You can ask the same question using my credits.)
Can an older writer learn to write scripts consistent with contemporary tastes and standards? Some can, I imagine. I’m probably not be one of them. The structure’s not the problem – as I mentioned, a story’s a story – but the current sensibility, with its focus on the coarse, the blatantly sexual, the humiliating and the pain inducing…it’s not my natural terrain.
An older writer can try to “write young”, though their efforts may prove imitative rather than generic. The option of older writers’ exploring their current experiences for the enjoyment of their contemporaries is unavailable, since advertisers aren’t interested in the older audience, making their stooges, the networks, unwilling to program for them.
This seems like a mistake, since the only audience still loyal to the network television brand is that very same older audience. Someday, perhaps, the business people will wise up and program for who’s watching – the older audience – instead of who they wish were watching – the otherwise engaged younger audience – in which case, the older writers are back in business.
I've written about this topic in other forums, like Ink Canada.
I still contest that the struggles we face to get hired (hell...or even meetings!) as we get older has sooooo much to do with what one will do for the gig when one is younger and starting out. You'll work for free, laugh at the asshole producer's lame jokes, do countless unpaid revisions, be asked to cut corners or screw colleagues...all in exchange for the supposed privilege of being allowed to maybe play in the big leagues. But then as you get older and wiser etc., and, yes, more experienced and probably better suited and prepared for the work, there's a reluctance to put up with the bullshit of the biz. And you can become known as 'difficult' or 'won't play by the rules'...or even 'too expensive' if you've had a decent but not meteoric run. Hence, it can just be cheaper and easier to go younger.
The cream of the crop will usually always rise to the top, regardless of the age. But when playing in the middle leagues, which is what most of us do, TV/movies has been and always will be primarily a young man/girls game.
But what I said isn't exactly discrimination either...rather a resistence to play the game, or not being good enough to rise above all the crap. So Pomerantz has got me going "Hmmmm...", how much merit was there in this lawsuit/settlement anyway?
Anyhow, his entire piece is well worth reading. Seriously, GO, before it becomes old news.
Sunday, August 24, 2008
As much as the writers' strike disrupted last season by the end, it still had a normal start, with a big and varied group of new series that were ready to be shown well in advance of their premiere dates. The writers have been back at work for months, but the traditional development process was so badly disrupted that the networks picked up a far smaller crop of new shows than normal, most of them hedged bets that are remakes of either familiar American series ("Knight Rider," "Beverly Hills 90210") or adaptations of shows that succeeded in England or other countries ("Worst Week," "Eleventh Hour," "Life on Mars" and many more).
Meanwhile, many of these newbies are still being worked on, even though the official TV season begins less than a month from now, and even though a lot of series will premiere well in advance of that.
Now, I don't know if there is anything as 'the official TV season' anymore, not with shows premiering more or less all year round when you count the cable and premium pay networks. And unlike some of the more 'privileged and popular' bloggers out there who get screeners and preview copies of new shows, I'm like the rest of you and have to make my choices based on what I read or the commercials I see. But so far, there are a handful I will check out this fall.
Also from Sipenwall:
(HBO, Sundays at 9, Sept. 7) "Six Feet Under" creator Alan Ball adapts Charlaine Harris' series of novels about a world where vampires live openly and subsist on artificial blood, and where a Louisiana waitress (Anna Paquin) with the power to read minds falls for a handsome member of the undead (Stephen Moyer). Though the action can be exciting, it's also brief, and for the most part, the show is an overwrought Gothic romance with an unintentionally amusing mish-mash of Louisiana accents.
(Fox, Tuesdays at 9, Sept. 9) Super-producer J.J. Abrams ("Lost," "Alias") takes a swing at an "X-Files"-esque series about an FBI agent (Anna Torv) tasked to investigate crimes involving "fringe science" (teleportation, psychic phenomena, etc.) with the help of a brilliant but unstable professor (John Noble) and his son (Joshua Jackson). One of the better of the new shows I've seen - solid action and nice chemistry between the three leads - but it's only a good pilot, and with Abrams, you expect great.
(CBS, Thursdays at 10, Oct. 9) A scientist (Rufus Sewell) and his government agent partner (Marley Shelton) try to solve or prevent crimes involving abuses of science. The producers claim that, unlike "Fringe," their show deals only with science fact, not science fiction. Based on a British miniseries that starred Patrick Stewart.
My Own Worst Enemy
(NBC, Mondays at 10, Oct. 13) Christian Slater stars in a Jekyll and Hyde riff about an average Joe who finds out that he's living a secret second life as a government agent. Has already been through many behind-the-scenes changes, in much the same way NBC's "Bionic Woman" did last year.
I guess I'm pretty predictable...still looking for my next X Files or Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Old habits seem to die hard.
And I'm not sure why the Christian Slater vehicle intrigues me, but you have to have one of those each season...and I'm pulling for it. (though the title My Own Worst Enemy really hurts more than helps, when you consider Slater's recent track record)
As for the returning programs, I am sooooo 'Meh'. Aside from House and Dexter, perhaps some Chuck but definitely some Life...pretty much everything else isn't really jazzing me anymore.
But yes. Life.
Friday, August 22, 2008
For example: this would be from "Cars".
It's pretty tricky...I had to walk through it a few times just to get 16 out of 46.
Go play HERE.
Have fun...hopefully smile.
H/T Amanda the Aspiring TV Writer
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Continuing the musical theme of this week...a big concert was just announced (okay, big for Buttkick) - Neil Young... with opening act Death Cab For Cutie (which is okay, but eastern Canada gets Wilco as the warmup...grrr!)
I was never a hardcore Young fan, and suppose I was more about electric Neil than acoustic Neil...but I do like and admire him, and really enjoyed some phases of his long and varied career. Like his mid-70's album run of Tonights The Night, Zuma, and On The Beach, which introduced me to the dark side of folk rock music. And then his 1980-ish run of Rust Never Sleeps, Reactor, and Live Rust, which made me start to think about issues and stuff yet still wanna bang my head at the same time.
He's an interesting cat...a musical artist who's managed to not only be a folk/hippie icon, but the Godfather of Grunge as well. There's a fantastic Charlie Rose interview with Young from last month...very insightful and entertaining....watch it HERE.
Anyway, my point today is how the concert going experience has changed since the the internets became part of everyday life. Way back when, like when I saw Cheap Trick in '78, or The Stones in 81, or Bowie in '83, or Iggy Pop in '84, or Waits in '87, or Jackson Browne in '93...there was a giddy excitement that always accompanied the outing. No, it wasn't from inhaling something illegal (I know what you're thinking), but from... 1) actually 'seeing' the band perform, and... 2) having no idea what songs they were going to play. That was always an exciting and nerve wracking surprise.... either for better or for worse.
But now, with the internets and the YouTubes, surprise is pretty much taken out of the equation. When the Young concert was announced, I immediately checked online to see if he's presently on tour. He is, over in Europe. A search for current set lists revealed the lineup of songs he played two nights ago in Berlin, Germany. A good mix of tunes...mostly electric...very nice --- presumably that's what he'll play this fall. Then a quick peruse of Youtube revealed a video of nearly every song from said set list, professionally filmed at Rock in Rio in Madrid about a month ago.
I watched a few clips (I could've watched the whole concert if I wanted...which kinda diminishes the 'seeing' a band/artist thrill)...and concluded that even at the age of 62, Young still has a lot of the "Hey Hey My My" in him...so today tickets were ordered (online) for the show when they went on sale.
Now, don't get me wrong...I'm looking forward to the concert (hell, Young's on Q Magazine's list of 50 Bands You Need To See Before You Die for crying out loud!). But the 'surprise' element won't really be a factor. I suppose I could exercise some discipline and not look up all this information we have at our internet fingertips...but like knowing your Xmas presents are hidden in your parents bedroom closet when you're a kid, it's really hard not to take a little peek.
And we all know when you do that, you still receive something at the end of the day...but you also kinda lose out on getting the most out of 'the experience'.
Oh well...Walk On.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
No, Steve Earle hasn't gone anywhere...but 'Goodbye' is one of the saddest yet most beautiful songs he's ever written. And most connoisseurs of Earle tend to hold up this duet with Emmylou Harris as the 'definitive' performance of the tune.
But I say that version has some competition now...a new performance of 'Goodbye' done in Montreal earlier this year, and captured on video in what has to go down as a classic concert moment. Apparently, there was a power outage during the show, but instead of just waiting it out or even leaving the stage, Earle grabbed a flashlight and moved up to the edge of the front row. There he performed several numbers, with no amplification and flashlight as spotlight, including 'Goodbye' which he concluded just as the lights came back on.
Witness it HERE.
Why is it that sad songs like this can make me teary and bring me down yet lift me up and make me feel good all at the same time? Weird.
In other random music news, I'm loving the NPR (National Public Radio) website right now...there's audio concert after concert in their archives, including a solo acoustic Steve Earle performance recorded a couple of weeks ago at the Newport Folk Festival in Rhode Island - find it HERE (3rd one down from the top).
And if you want some cool factor, listen to this My Morning Jacket show from a couple years ago, with my latest crush Kathleen Edwards in tow...HERE.
But if you want to be blown away, take a listen to this acoustic performance by Jim James from My Morning Jacket recorded back in June. The bands latest release continues to grow on me, and James' performance HERE is simply mesmerizing.
All courtesy NPR.
Monday, August 18, 2008
It's shaping up to be a music week here at Uninflected Images...today's treat is a recent print interview with Mr. Tom Waits courtesy Robin Wilson at NPR.
Some tasty tidbits:
Q: What's hard for you?
A: Mostly I straddle reality and the imagination. My reality needs imagination like a bulb needs a socket. My imagination needs reality like a blind man needs a cane. Math is hard. Reading a map. Following orders. Carpentry. Electronics. Plumbing. Remembering things correctly. Straight lines. Sheet rock. Finding a safety pin. Patience with others. Ordering in Chinese. Stereo instructions in German.
Q: What's wrong with the world?
A: We are buried beneath the weight of information, which is being confused with knowledge; quantity is being confused with abundance and wealth with happiness. Leona Helmsley's dog made $12 million last year... and Dean McLaine, a farmer in Ohio, made $30,000. It's just a gigantic version of the madness that grows in every one of our brains. We are monkeys with money and guns.
Q: Your most thrilling musical experience?
A: My most thrilling musical experience was in Times Square, over thirty years ago. There was a rehearsal hall around the Brill Building where all the rooms were divided into tiny spaces with just enough room to open the door. Inside was a spinet piano -- cigarette burns, missing keys, old paint and no pedals. You go in and close the door and it's so loud from other rehearsals you can't really work, so you stop and listen. The goulash of music was thrilling. Scales on a clarinet, tango, light opera, sour string quartet, voice lessons, someone belting out "Everything's Coming Up Roses," garage bands, and piano lessons. The floor was pulsing, the walls were thin. As if ten radios were on at the same time, in the same room. It was a train station of music with all the sounds milling around... for me it was heavenly.
Read it all HERE...as well as hear an interview with Waits discussing his influences and songwriting style HERE...very entertaining stuff.
Then there's a 'press conference' Waits endured to launch his latest tour...stick around for the punchline at the end of the clip.
And to cap it off, also courtesy NPR, a two and half hour concert recorded last month at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta.
Listen to it HERE.
I saw Waits play at Massey Hall in 1987 on his Frank's Wild Years tour...it was definitely one of the highlights of my many concert-going experiences. And as much as his material with his band sparkled, it was the unplugged 'mini-set' in the middle of his show that absolutely slayed. Enjoy.
Sunday, August 17, 2008
It's not like the new Beck and H Steady were embarrassing, but they fell victim to sounding too much like someone else or like from some other era...so instead, out came:
Bob Dylan's Modern Times, a disc that had remained unopened for like over a year beside my stereo...what a shame.
That was followed up by Steve Earle's Washington Square Serenade... mmmm...I was in alt-country heaven.
The journey home began with Tom Waits Frank's Wild Years...a brilliant snapshot of Waits at the height of his powers.
And closing out the highway drive was Tom Petty's Greatest Hits 2008 (which was kind of a stupid buy since I already own his boxset Playback, but whateva...)...stop dragging my heart around!
This is what you call a post with no point...what was playing in your car this weekend?
Friday, August 15, 2008
So after Repo Man, next would be the Coen brothers debut Blood Simple...
...because it made the homemade Steadicam cool.
Christopher Nolan's Momento...
...because it made messing with time cool.
Jon Favreau's Swingers...
...because it made 'money' cool.
Kevin Smith's debut Clerks...
...because it made black and white not cheap but cool.
Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs...
..because it made Steelers Wheel cool.
And from us Canucks, Vincenzo Natali's Cube...
...because it made 'set all in one room' very cool.
And they all make me smile.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
"It's 4 AM...do you know where your car is?"
Some links and quick thoughts about low budget feature film making...Repo Man was one of the cult classics that me and my film school circle of friends held up on high. Indie, cool, hip, edgy, weird, fun, entertaining...inherently quotable....shot for peanuts but got seen and earned more than a dime...the film was one of those that made 'the dream' (of making the low budget feature) actually seem attainable.
Starring a young Emilio Estevez and an aging Harry Dean Stanton, Repo Man was an action adventure comedy that told the story of a young punk hoodwinked into working for a seedy repossession company, and is thrust headlong into the wacky world of flying saucer enthusiasts, wayward nuclear scientists, exotic women, and ruthless intelligence agents.
And now via Simply Scripts linking to the website of writer/director Alex Cox, you can find not only a PDF of the screenplay, but the last 20 pages of the document contains the original investment proposal, production schedule, and budget summary.
Very cool. Yes, it's 25 years old, but I say to the kids...it's still worth perusing.
Check it out HERE.
Sunday, August 10, 2008
First off, how do you define definitive? Does that mean greatest, most popular, coolest, hippest, most influential...? I suppose it's a bit of 'all of the above, and as Weinman explains, that doesn't necessarily mean best show, but one that best embodies TV and TV trends over the past (almost) 10 years.
Between Strand/Weinman and the commenters I would say they've covered all the possible candidates pretty well. Strand chose one drama and one comedy...and singling out Arrested Development as the definitive comedy of the 2000's(?) made a lot of sense (though I would award a tie between it and the UK's The Office). And while I'm not sure if Angel stands up as the decade's 'definitive' drama, Strand makes a solid case. Lost, House, 24, CSI, and The Sopranos all deserve consideration, and I still wouldn't exclude Survivor or American Idol (they may not be drama drama, but they sure come very close to 'defining' the TV decade as far as I'm concerned).
At any rate, one thing I took away was the lack of one show standing out...a single program/ series from the past nine years that was entertaining and popular yet also managed to encapsulate the mood, mindset, ambiance, and personality of the decade --- like The X Files or Buffy or Seinfeld or Friends did in the 90's.
Perhaps it's due to there being so many good series out there of late. Or that viewer fragmentation has expanded to such a degree that it's almost impossible for one show/series to stand out. Anyway, go check out those posts --- what I wanted to put on the table is....
....what might be the definitive Canadian series/show of the decade?
Again, comedy seems to be a little easier to nail...a toss up between Corner Gas and Trailer Park Boys in my opinion. They both were popular enough to be known by most people of this country (whether you 'liked' them or not isn't really part of the equation)...but they also in their own way defined us as gentler simpler and slightly snarkier people/neighbours to the north of the monolith that is the USA.
But drama...not so easy.
In trying to determine a shortlist, I searched long and hard. Series like The Eleventh Hour or This Is Wonderland or Intelligence were quality but didn't quite attain the necessary 'popularity' factor. Cold Squad and Divinci's Inquest were popular and ran well into the 2000's, but both began airing in 1998 (and one of the criteria seems to be that the series began airing by or at least roundabouts 2000).
Stargate: SG1 or at least it's spinoff Stargate: Atlantis were certainly long-running and popular enough to warrant consideration. And as far as 'defining' us, service producing US programming is certainly high on the list of things we do as an industry...and the Stargates' definitely fall into that category (which is kind of an unfair rap against them because even though the vast majority of cast, crew, writers, showrunners are Canadian, it's primary investors and broadcasters have been American - MGM and US's Showtime and then SciFi channel). Thus, most people up here don't perceive them as distinctly 'Canadian' shows, so I moved on.
Degrassi: Next Generation has been around most of the decade, so it should be a nominee...but it's a half hour drama and the second incarnation (or is it 3rd?) of a series (Degrassi Jr. High) that probably defined us in the 1980's....tell me we've come at least some ways since then, please? In fact, the whole teen/tween/kids arena could certainly define recent Canadian TV to a large extent...there have been countless series/programs of that ilk quite successful in their own right in this category. But the defining show? Nope, can't go there.
Slings & Arrows, Regenesis, Durham County, The Collector, Blood Ties, Mutant X, Blue Murder, The Border, Whistler, Falcon Beach...were all either too new or short-lived or too niche/genre to be serious contenders (but feel free to disagree with me).
All in all, I said "damn!"...it's been a pretty miserable run for Canadian dramatic TV.
Which leads me to my choice for definitive Canadian TV show/series of the decade... Train 48.
Now I know I'm probably going to get called down for naming this show...but for me, Train 48 encapsulated all that Canadian TV has for the most part been since the devastating CRTC decisions of 1999. You know, the changes that decimated the indigenous industry and killed a lot of dramatic TV production by allowing broadcasters to fulfill its Canadian content mandates and quotas with news magazine, arts and entertainment, lifestyle, and reality programming.
A quick recap. The time was 2002/2003. I'd just moved back from LA to Canada, and sussing out what was going on and getting made up here...and truth was, not very much. And then I heard about this new series from CanWest Global. Under pressure to start producing more homegrown TV, specifically drama, and in order to fulfill it's conditions of license and meet CRTC mandated expectations, the network bought into an Australian soap format called Going Home and transplanted it to Toronto. Set entirely on a Go Train, it told the story of a group of commuters each day returning to the suburbs and surrounding communities from downtown Toronto. Largely improvised from outlines (so full writer/script fees wouldn't have to be paid), it was notorious for it's bargain-basement production values and mediocre performances. Shot on the cheap...an episode a day - it was, in short, embarrassing.
And it ran for 3 years.
EDIT: H/T to Weinman for finding a clip (and don't take this whole write up as a knock against the crew or actors or creatives on the show as much as to hammer home the sad fact that this was considered acceptable drama by the network)
Check out some of the negative comment threads on imdb.com for starters, just to get a taste of the disdain people had for this program. And the WGC had a 'behind the scenes' piece on the program HERE, which helps give the lay of the land. From the article:
Global denies picking up the series to meet Canadian content obligations on the cheap. "It costs less per episode, but the volume makes it more expensive," says Loren Mawhinney, vice president of Canadian productions. "Sixty-five episodes cost over $6 million, compared to $3.25 million for all 13 hours of Blue Murder."
Mawhinney calls Train 48 an "out-of-the-box way of creating drama," and says Global hopes to use it to lure advertisers in an increasingly fragmented marketplace. The network also wants the independence of making shows without any direct government funding.
Most of us called 'bullshit', not that it really mattered what we said. From the same article:
Tim Woods of Friends of Canadian Broadcasting says Global has no excuse for not investing in high-budget dramas. "Simultaneous substitution–putting Canadian commercials on popular American shows–is worth an enormous amount of money to broadcasters. It's a gift in exchange for investing in Canadian shows," he says.
Woods suggests broadcasters hoodwinked the CRTC by establishing a "trust policy" in 1999 that leaves it up to them how to fill time allotted for Canadian programming, rather than requiring them to invest a revenue percentage in Canadian shows.
Also true. Not that it mattered what the Friends of Canadian Broadcasting said.
For me, Train 48 embodied Canadian TV and TV trends of the past decade....cheaply produced programming with the primary mandate to fulfill quotas and mandates, NOT to make popular and entertaining hits of high or at least decent quality. The network, and the government and regulatory bodies overseeing the networks/industry really didn't seem to care. And it had a profoundly negative effect on the industry, at least in my circles...as in, if this was the kind of crap that a major broadcaster wanted to throw its weight and energy and money (pittance that it was) behind...was there any point? Was there any hope for us?
From friends, relatives, American colleagues, I heard more negative comments about Train 48 than any other Canadian show produced over the past decade...and every conversation went the same way: have you seen it? did you work on it? isn't it terrible...like, laughable? And then the kicker....is that the best you guys in Canadian TV can do?
It was tough to argue with them. And the resulting feeling was really demoralizing and depressing...not so much because we couldn't do better for the networks, but because the networks didn't really appear to want 'better'. Train 48 was 'good enough' it seemed, and we've been paying for and trying to live that down for the past four years.
That said, there has been a recent trend to at least try to return to more engaging quality dramatic TV (though having the US as a partner seems to be a necessary criteria). And, even if just through pilots, there's also been an attempt to make more of it...drama, that is. But still...
...we were off the rails for quite a while.
Definitive Canadian TV show of the past decade...what do you think?
The scorecard? Vega...sorry, but kinda meh.
Black...is a real talent and her 8 piece band packed serious R&B punch, but twas just a little too loud and hip-hoppy for my taste...(though her Seven Day Fool was sweeeeet)
Which left Canuck alt/country folk rocker Kathleen Edwards...mmmm.
Let's just say, her set ROCKED. Ms. Edwards was putting out and having fun and knocked the crowd on its ass. Song highlights included 'In State', 'The Cheapest Key', an impromptu segue into Heart's 'Barracuda' in the middle of one tune...and the showstopping 'Back To Me'.
After she finished, I did something I've never done before. I purchased her new cd Asking For Flowers and stood in line with the intention of her signing it. You see, I was smitten. Actually, I'd been smitten since hearing her first two cd's, 2003's Failer and 2005's Back To Me. I loved these cd's. Seriously. Plus chicks with guitars kinda slay me.
Anyway, when I got to the front of the line, I said this was my first time and asked where she usually 'did it'. And she laughed and said: "On the linear notes cover, though some like it on the plastic sleeve." I just nodded dumbly and said: "Wherever..." She pried the disc from my nervous fingers and signed: 'Kathleen Edwards Regina 2008', then handed it back to me and asked if I'd like a photograph with her. Alas, I had no camera. So she shrugged and pointed at the signed cd and said: 'There you are...now you can show all your friends and they can say 'Who the hell is Kathleen Edwards?' "
I only hope I didn't look too intense and scary when I shook my head and replied: "Oh no...they will know of you. Believe you me. They. Will. Know."
Listen to her songs.
Friday, August 08, 2008
Monday, August 04, 2008
Buffalo Days, Buttkick's weeklong version of the fair, concluded last night with a concert by Weird Al Yankovic himself. And the Yankheads (as his devoted fans like to call themselves) were out in droves.
I went more out of curiosity than anything...as in, curious to see what kind of show this long-time song and pop culture parodist would put on, since most of his 'work' has been making videos that poke fun at big-time artists songs/videos. And although I appreciated his efforts, I tended to classify Weird Al as more of a novelty act.
I was first struck by how crowded it was...the outdoor venue was packed with people of all ages, from tweens and teens to older gals and guys like me. But for all the differences in age, there did seem to be one common denominator...the 'geek' factor. I'm not sure why he appeals so much to that sector...perhaps its his persona of the gangly bespeckled smartass taking on stars and celebrity musicians to knock them off their pedestals...but nevertheless, the nerds were there, en masse.
I believe I've written here before that I shook Weird Al's hand once...it was in a Tower Records in Los Angeles, and as I was browsing I heard a small commotion over by the entrance. I noticed several people lining up at a table where Al was being seated for a scheduled cd signing. I thought....cool! It's Weird Al! And though I didn't have his cd or any interest in purchasing his cd, I didn't mind waiting the couple minutes in line just to shake his hand and say I liked his work. He smiled and said thanks. That was it...short and sweet. But as far as the fans went, it didn't matter that it was LA...lots of mousey bookwormy gals wearing horn-rimmed glasses...or pimply-faced guys wearing black socks in sandals --- the nerd factor was there too.
And not to be knocking the nerds...I would be lying if I didn't admit I have some of the geek in me. Pretty much anyone who immerses themselves in the creative side of the TV/movie business has that cross to bear to some degree. Still, Weird Al seems to be a real hero of theirs...and this was news to me.
Anyway, Weird Al and his band hit the stage hard and fast and they never slowed down. And it was, in fact, a musical comedy multimedia event more than a concert. His spoof videos played on the big screens as he performed them, and there were clips from his Al TV television program between each number (mostly to allow Al and his band to change costumes). The accordion only came out a couple of times, but when it did the crowd, as they say. went wild.
Besides performing several medley's of the numerous songs he's parodied over the years, highlights included Canadian Idiot (parody of Green Day's 'American Idiot'), The Saga Begins (parody of Star Wars Phantom Menace set to Don McLean's 'American Pie'), and Bob (parody of the Bob Dylan video for 'Subterranean Homesick Blues') which I didn't really 'get' until I found out it was all done in palindromes...which then made it very cool.
But I fell hard for 'Trapped In The Drive-Thru' (a parody of R. Kelly's truly cringe-worthy urban soap music video drama Trapped In The Closet)....watch Weird Al's animated masterpiece HERE.
He closed the night with 'the hits'... 'Living in Amish Paradise' and 'Fat', the latter replete with Michael Jackson leathers and fat suit. You knew that was the finale, there was no quick change out of that outfit. But he sent them away buzzing and laughing...no one seemed disappointed in what amounted to about an eighty minute show.
It was only today I realized how popular Weird Al still is...the fact that his parody for Trapped, for example, has been viewed on YouTube nearly 5 million times, well over a million more views than R. Kelly's original. Or the fact that his last cd release, 2006's Straight Outta Lynwood, went platinum...this after over 20 years of doing his parody thing.
Anyway, this 'novelty act' proved to me he's more than a novelty act...Weird Al put on a terrific show and the Yankheads ate it up...and I will cop to tapping my toes and smiling while watching and eating my mini-donuts.
Oh yes. You heard me. I got mini-donuts. With cinnamon sugar. Two bags in fact. I might even freeze one bag...you know, save some for later.
Save mini-donuts for later? Yikes!
Am I a Yankhead and don't even know it???
Friday, August 01, 2008
Watch it HERE...(why are polar bears funny...and why can't, like, everything be on Youtube?)
Because it makes me smile.