Friday Fives – more about the Tap

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Your favorite book?

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.  You know that already, though.  Let’s mix it up, then, and say ‘Lamb: the gospel of christ according to his best friend Biff’.  I really, really like this new author.  Well… new to me.

Your favorite movie?

Big Fish.  Re-reading over this, before I hit ‘publish’, maybe I should have said ‘Spinal Tap’.  There is a 2 page diatribe down there on how great the film is, how great the actors are, and how incredible it is that they wrote and scored and improvised the film.  But… you know that movie.  You may not know ‘Big Fish’.  It is perfect storytelling.  The cinematography is stunning.  Can you imagine if Tim Burton tried to make something joyful?  Just for once?  Well, with Big Fish, he did.  Don’t worry, it still has his wife.  (Shakes fist in the air).  Don’t just watch the movie, just go buy it.  Get it in blu-ray, too.  You really want the full cinematic experience, if you can.  Don’t have blu ray yet?  Buy it… just for this movie.

Your favorite adaptation of a book to a movie?

 Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas.  So good it is freaky!  Depp goes FULL Hunter Thompson in this role.  Not just window dressing, either.  HST was in full cooperation with the film… well… as cooperative as someone like HST could be.  Depp lived with Hunter for months before the filming.  They became fast and close friends.  So much so that when Hunter died, Depp paid for the whole ‘launching his ashes into space from a Gonzo fist cannon that was several stories high’.  Yeah, that isn’t a typo or urban legend.  It happened, and all thanks to Johnny.  They had a kinship all along as they are both from Kentucky.

 Your least favorite adaptation ever of anything to a movie?

Being a book guy, I am always supposed to say ‘the book was better’.  However, I have almost universally enjoyed adaptations of my favorite books into movies.  I like to see the creativity of filmmakers trying to capture such an ephemeral thing.  For example, the last ‘Alice in Wonderland’ movie with Johnny Depp.  Everyone shit on it.  There are good reasons to shit on it – it WAY over featured Johnny Depp, and of course since it was Burton the lead role went to his wife.  He does that EVERY FUCKING MOVIE.  Though my praise for Depp’s acting in ‘Fear & Loathing’ is effusive… he isn’t too good in this movie.  Too hammy, just chewing up scenery being all proud of himself for looking clever.  We can blame Burton for that, though.

But… I loved it (Fear & Loathing, that is).  Here is why – everyone has told that story in various forms of film.  It’s a classic.  The Burton one, though, is a totally different telling.  It takes a story never told… which is what happens if Alice goes back to that world as an adult.  What happens?  Who is there?  Did anything, or anyone, change?  Did it ever really happen?  I think that is cool and creative.  I haven’t seen the second one, but I will.  I waited on purpose.  Since it was reviewed to badly, I knew I could wait and just buy a bluray copy for $10.  I like those (as opposed to just watching it on Amazon) because you get all the featurettes and behind the scenes stuff.

 Your first ever novel/comic book/movie character crush?

  • Editors note: Long diatribe warning

The guys in Spinal Tap.  I mean, it is just some British actors playing dumb, right?  Not remotely!  The actors are all American, and improvised the entire movie, AND wrote AND performed those songs.  It went so well that the fake band accidentally became a real band.   They released albums and recorded new music and even toured.  If you look at all these starlets today, you see Spinal Tap was more real than any of them.  Think Rhianna writes her own songs?  Think she can play and instrument?  Think she actually sings in concert?  Spinal Tap wins on every level.

In fact, those guys went on to do more movies together, and the guys wrote an entirely new music act for ‘a Mighty Wind’, which is actually a great folk album.  Got to see them live, and they played both Spinal Tap songs and a Mighty Wind songs.  That movie (another Chris Guest project) was also entirely improvised.

Why do it?  They are crazy rich.  The bass player is 40% of the voices on the Simpsons.  He probably has 100 million in the bank, and he is schlepping around from city to city playing these silly and perfect songs from 30 years ago.

My favorite thing about these guys when they did press for Spinal Tap (not known as a classic when it was released, but a stupid and pointless low budget art film)… they only did it in character.  You never got to interview Chris Guest or Michael McKean or Harry Shearer.  You could only talk to Derek Smalls, Nigel Tufnel, and David St Hubbins.  Now… we know Chris Guest as a genius filmmaker, and Harry Shearer as most of the Simpsons.  Back then, in 1980?  A bunch of improve yahoos.  Michael McKean was only known for playing Lenny in Laverne & Shirley.

Can you imagine how they got that film financed?  “I need 5 million bucks to make a movie with these unproven and unknown actors.”  Who will compose the score?  Who is your screenwriter?  Who is going to actually record the songs they pretend to sing?  You know, like we did with the Monkeys.

Well… about that.  No script.  No musicians.  No songwriters.  No famous actors.  We are just going to throw it to some improve guys. There is no screenplay, they are just going to make up the dialogue as we film.  They will write the songs themselves, and play all the instruments in the recordings.  It’s about a fake British heavy metal band that is washed up.”

Has that ever been done before then?  Roy Scheider is quite famous for improving the line ‘you’re gonna need a bigger boat’ in Jaws.  Everyone looks to that moment to prove his genius.  One sentence.  BFD.  If it were Chris Guest’s crew, they would have made up all the dialogue, built the boat themselves… and fought a real fucking shark.

 I mean, I know it is a masterpiece now… but at the time I bet they got laughed out of Hollywood.  Now, hopefully, you recognize the great McKean from Better Call Saul.  Jesus, is there anything these guys can’t do?  Listen to ‘listen to the flower people’ and tell me that song is not as good or better than anything of that era.  Also, full disclosure… I finally got my band to learn ‘Big Bottom’.  We played it at our last gig.

*bonus news, the guy behind these films, Chris Guest (Spinal Tap, Best in Show, Waiting for Guffman, For your Approval, a Mighty Wind…) has a new film out soon.  It’s called ‘Mascots’, and will be on Netflix soon.  Like everything Larry David does, you can assume it will be all improvised, and wonderfully stupid.

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Friday Fives – bear fight edition

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What is the stupidest thing you did as a kid to try and look cooler?

smoke

What is your opinion on swearing?

Un fucking necessary.  You have a vocabulary, use it.  Profanity is for small minds.  You know who doesn’t need to swear?  Bears.

What’s something you’ve been searching for years but had no luck in finding it?

Why poor people think that Republicans are fighting for them.  Seriously.  Wait, I overthought that.  It’s not an issue about what the GOP can do for them, it’s the whole gun thing.  You will never find a Democrat on a dirt road in America.  Well, besides me.  EVERY one on a dirt road in America is a Republican.  It is all for only 1 reason > guns.  Sorry, let’s focus.  What does this have to do with bears?

You’re now a serial killer. What’s your weapon of choice, and what will you be known for?

For quite some time now, I have had a bear for a bodyguard.  He is fucking nuts, and it was a terrible idea.  I know that now.  So bad an idea that I now have to have a bear bodyguard to protect me from my bear.  I have reason to believe the bears are colluding against me.  I can’t fire them, either.  One of them is a black bear, and he is now a protected class.  Plus, I am pretty sure he is gay.  Also protected class.  Every try a fire a bear with double protected class status?  Oh, and he’s union… so I have to give him a raise every year.  He calls me ‘Timothy Treadwell’, and I have no idea what that means.

Point being, anyone out there know a bear hit man?  I can explain more in person.   It has now become a union thing.  Whatever you do, don’t mention the missing eye.  It’s a real ‘hot button’ issue that I may or may not be on a write up for.

Add ‘ING’ to the end of a movie title, what’s it about now?

Spinal Tapping.  It’s a 30 minute sit com about 3 Ne’er-do-well roomates who are all medical interns.  From Boston, they are ‘Southies’, and are all reassigned to work a clinic in Miami.  Here is the twist:  they were all on probation.  As the tough by still tough head doctor messed with their paperwork.  See, he hates the director of the Miami hospital more than he hates these shithead interns.  Why?  We reveal that in season 3.  Now…  they have a clean record, and were all marked as developmentally disabled, but still somehow super capable, spinal surgeons.  Can they make it work?  Can they make it work, together?  Find out this Fall!  It’s hijinks, it’s heart, and it’s a lot of lazy writers executing on tired tropes. Spinal Tappers, Thursdays at 9 pm.***

“people are bastard coated bastards with nothing but bastard filling inside” – Perry Cox

*** I got a 3 season guarantee and EP status.  This show, which hasn’t filmed an episode, is already negotiating syndication rights.  How?  We got Chuck Lorre.  Dude made Big Bang and 2 and a half men.  He could turn his bowel movements into a 3 camera sitcom and sweet the emmies.

Friday Fives – two days late, Office Space edition

 

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Office Space Edition:

What thing does your coworkers do that pisses you off?

It doesn’t piss me off as much as it makes me sad for all of humanity – victim-ness.  Every you time you say the word ‘they’, you die a little inside… and I lose a little bit of respect for you.  There is no ‘they’.  I hear things like “I don’t know why those dumb asses in marketing think this new _______is a good idea”.  STOP RIGHT THERE!  Imagine, perhaps, that the marketing people know more than you do.  Imagine they did nothing at all but this… all day long.  They might have some insights you are missing.  Even more importantly, what they do you have almost no control over… so stop giving a shit.  You are hurting yourself.  If you think marketing is killing us with bad insight, then how about getting a job in marketing to right the ship?

 I really, really want to help you.  It is about your circle of influence.  If you can’t control it, let it wash over you.  Instead, concentrate on things you can control.

 Geesh, I am sorry.  I got a little bent out of shape on that one.

 What’s the most cringe-worthy “Reply All” you’ve seen?

 “OMG, I HATE ELITCHES!”.  Years ago, my company sponsored a FREE trip to Elitch Gardens (if you don’t live in CO, it is our Six Flags)… maybe it isn’t your dream day off, but its FREE.  To be fair, this gal did not mean to send it to the entire company.  She meant to sent it to her dbag loser ass boyfriend (who has prolly given her 3 kids and left her by now). That is what she meant to do.  What she did, on the other hand, was send it to the entire company.  She was very young, and just didn’t get Outlook.  She was so embarrassed that she quit quickly after. I can assure you if she has managed to land a job with another company that can afford to license Office, she is telling the same story.  Kinda reminds me of this gem.

 Wish I remember her name, I would tell it.  Just the first name, mind you… I am not a monster.

If we were all forced to wear a warning label, what would yours say?

Much nicer than he looks, and even more liberal that perhaps is safe or possible.

What’s the hardest or most difficult job in the world?

I would imagine a 911 operator.  Talking to people being shot or dying all day long, and being kinda helpless as it happens.  Depending on the kind of person you are

 What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever had the displeasure of reading on a resume?

Besides an AOL address?  I do hiring, and have for years, so I am not going to answer that on the grounds of the 5th amendment.  However, if you are applying for a tech job, I beg you to have something better than an AOL address.  an AOL address, to me, is like a neighbor who has a Camaro up on blocks in his lawn that is mostly bondo offering to fix my car.

 Also, may or may not be related, but had a dude show up for an interview in a baseball cap.  Tangent – can I tell you this, America?  Treat internal interviews just as big as external.  Meaning that yes, you still wear a tie.  Yes, you print a resume, and spend $5 on resume stock.  Remember this, as it is sad and true – the interview is not just a formality to get you the promotion because your numbers kick so much ass.  If you blow off preparation for the interview, thinking your work speaks for itself (as I made the mistake of doing, once)…  I ain’t hiring or promoting you.

last thing about resumes, and I know it is a small thing… please pick a good font.  If you give me an ariel 11 point font, I may just skip the interview and hire you.  Every time you use calibri (the default), jesus tells a kitten he is not cute and probably won’t get adopted.  I do this thing with resumes I call the ‘glasses test’.  Without my glasses, I can’t see shit.  What I can see, though, is if your resume is laid out well.  I will judge your resume without reading a word.  I know you are thinking ‘jesus, this guy is picky and mean!’.  Everyone who hires is, I am just giving you my secrets.  I have 10 positions, so I will do 20 interviews.  I have 134 resumes to choose from, so I will be judgy.

WAIT WAIT WAIT – can I tell this story?  It’s not a resume story, but an interview one.  Had a dude tell us (thank god I was interviewing with Dan.  No one would believe if he hadn’t been there to hear it.  That was, of course, the Dan & Kevin show.) that “when you do a background check, you may find a kidnapping and assault charge, but that’s all better now.  We are back together and she forgave me!”  I swear to you that happened.  This was about 15 years ago, I reckon.  What do you say to a guy who handles bad news with kidnapping and assaulting?  Oh, and that is reserved for the ones he loves.  He is definitely going to kill at eat us two.  So, I said “well, it sounds like you have it worked out.  I am not sure how HR handles that stuff

  • in closing, something about that movie.  In case you haven’t seen it, or don’t work in an office… that movie is more documentary than comedy.  All those things have happened to me.  I have been what I lovingly call a ‘cubicle monkey’ for 20 years now, and I don’t mind it at all.  Rock stars watch ‘Spinal Tap’ and say they don’t laugh… it’s too true.  That is Office Space, for me.

 

 

Friday Fives – that guy from the Brady Bunch movie

 

What movie made you laugh the hardest?

Gosh, not sure. Obviously, I prefer a high degree of absurdity. Funny is good, but I want a big kicker of weird and inappropriate thrown in.  Life is absurd and surreal and wonderful and perfect… so my comedy should be, too.  Can I generalize? Spinal Tap, Princess Bride, and a Fish Called Wanda. LOVE them all. Know them all verbatim. Let’s talk about something bigger and greater in that mix, Spinal Tap. I want you know how insanely and impossibly talented those guys were. The guys in Spinal Tap improved (that is meant to say improved as in ‘improvisation’, not ‘improvement’) the ENTIRE movie. Every single minute. Like ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’, they get a broadsheet saying ‘Nigel enters. Is angry about catering’ and then the actors just riff.  the three actors all did ALL the press for the movie in character, and only in character.

PLUS – those three wrote those songs. And performed in them. The ringleader for all of those movies was Chris Guest. Also, these guys wrote ‘a Mighty Wind’. Also improved the entire movie. Listen to this song, it is not at LEAST as good as the stuff it parodies? I am a musicologist… and I can tell you the answer is yes. These guys are amazing. You know Michael McKean for his other many talented rolls. Remember your childhood? He was Lenny, of Lenny & Squiggy from Laverne and Shirley. Now? Now he is a lead in ‘Better Call Saul’. At the end of the day, though, when he sits down with St Peter and God and they ask for his credentials… he drops this bomb; I was in the Brady Bunch.

The talent is sickening. Spinal Tap was so successful they actually released another album, and then toured. I saw them just a couple years ago, on this tour. THEN… these three did a brilliant fake folk album. They also wrote all those songs, and improved the whole movie. So, you know Michael McKean. What about Harry Shearer (Derek Smalls)? Well, you are familiar with Monty Burns and Waylon Smithers, right? What about Ned Flanders, Otto, Smithers, Rev Lovejoy, Kent Brockman. ALL of them are the bass player from Spinal Tap. Watch this; it’s him on Conan. Not just banging out all the characters, but also improving an entire scene with all these characters. Bonus side note: Conan was a writer on the Simpsons.

Shearer has a great podcast called Le Show. Aside from being a great entertainer, he has also done some thoughtful stuff with New Orleans post Katrina. This includes a great documentary critical of the Fed regarding Hurricane Katrina.

Sorry, back to the question.  The hardest I remember laughing recently was this bit on the local comedy radio station.  Wife and I were in tears, and seriously we were disabled.  It was Patton Oswalt doing a bit on John Varvatos clothes.  I can’t find the clip, but I will.

 Who is your favorite cameo in a movie?

You can never go wrong with a Tom Waits acting role. It will always be really weird… and great. Here, watch this. Seriously, whatever you are doing, stop and watch. MUST stay until the end, it’s only like 2 minutes long.

What is your favorite black and white movie?

Easy. Harvey. It is Jimmy Stewart in a great tender movie about his belived 7 foot rabbit best friend. It’s really great. I have a copy and will loan it to you.

 What movie left you asking wtf?

Besides Harvey? Harold and Maude. Just a really great and very strange movie. Super quotable, and a soundtrack done entirely by Cat Stevens.  The story is about a teenage boy given to fake suicides in a wonderfully dramatic way, and he hangs out at funerals… just random stranger funerals.  It’s where he meet an 80 year old Ruth Gordon, who also hangs out at funerals.  They meet via her penchant for stealing cars, and fall in love.  That isn’t even the weird shit, either.  Yet, it is a tender and thoughtful and funny tale.

 What’s the most rewatchable movie?

All of the above. Ultimately, though, it would be Big Fish. I just bought another copy last week. Turns out I didn’t own a copy in BluRay. It isn’t just super duper great storytelling, it may be the most visually beautiful and perfect movie.

 

Friday Fives – that reminds me

What movie do you quote/reference the most?

Princess Bride, or Spinal Tap

What TV show do you quote/reference the most?

Seinfeld. Every hour that goes by lends itself to a Seinfeld reference. I have read a book by a writer on that show, and he mentions that show was unique. Larry David wanted real stories from people’s lives for the show. He didn’t want things made up that would seem funny. Other shows, the writer said, stayed FAR away from real life because everyone was afraid of getting sued. The book was by Fred Stoller. I forget the title, but if you hop over to my ‘what I am reading’ section and do a control F on the name ‘Stoller’, it will come up.

What song do you quote/reference the most?

Bob Dylan.  Anything, and everything, off ‘Blood on the Tracks’.  Now, why didn’t you ask me what book I most reference? You don’t even care, do you? Well, I’ll tell you anyway… and you likely know this by now – Alice in Wonderland.

What TV series has/had the best music/soundtrack?

The music around the Sopranos was always just perfect. Lot of ambiance and tension.  Just hearing that opening sequence and watching Tony drive across the bridge, you knew great and amazing things were going to happen in the next hour.

What movie has/had the best music/soundtrack?

No question here, no race to the top – Blues Brothers takes it far and away. Ok, listen, that was short. You ain’t getting more. I started a new job and I am on day 2 of a 10 day in a row swing. Going from not working, to ten days in a row… or even TWO days in a row… well, I am going to bed now. I love you, have a great weekend!

Friday Fives – late night edition

Who was your guy?  (Carson, Letterman, Leno, Conan… pick one and expound)

Letterman. Growing up, there were only 2: Letterman, and Carson. Carson was for a different generation. Carson was for our parents. PLUS… I have been to a Letterman show. LONG ago. It was a morning show. That is how long ago. Here is what I remember about it. Nothing about the show, in that it was about 35 years ago. I remember trying to get in. You had to be at least 12 years old. I was only 6 or 7. I was a very short kid. So short that I walked right under the ticket takers arm… he never saw me. Never took my ticket. Quite literally I was flying under the radar.

Super Memorable talk show moments?

It’s infamous now, but when Jerry Lawler smacked the shit out of Andy Kauffman on Letterman. We know now it was a stunt. I was watching this on tv, and I lost my shit. It was very, very believable.

Ever been to one in person?

Yeah, and not just the Letterman one, above. I went to see Arsenio Hall show back in college. We were on Venice Beach on vaca and some PA was handing out free tix. We went the first night, and it was overbooked, so they bounced us back a day. No problem at all for us, but they felt super bad. They told us if we come back they will take care of us… and they did. We went in first, and got first row. I was on TV, when they pan the crowd at the beginning.

The guests were Dennis Miller, and Anna Nicole Smith, so that was awesome. This was back when Dennis Miller was funny, and not a right wing nutjob. He swore, too, which blew my mind. Of course, they beep it for broadcast, but it felt scandalous to hear an f bomb in person.

OH… and we saw Conan in person. Not a taping of his show, but when he did the comedy tour in-between shows. That was great. Also saw Craig Ferguson do a club set a few years back, he is great.

Who don’t you like, of the classic hosts… and why.  Be specific now

I think Jimmy Fallon is just great for his new job. It seems like the genre was built for him. He is such a joyful and happy fanboy that it absolutely comes across. So, no one I don’t like…. But I could see Jimmy Fallon doing this for 30 years.

I like them all. There is no one I don’t like.

Did you know Paul Shaffer isn’t just Letterman’s hacky piano guy.  He was also the band director or SNL, the Blues Brothers, the Grammys, the R&R HOF jams.  Is he in the Rock Hall of Fame?  He should be.  Oh, and he wrote ‘It’s Raining Men’.  And you know he’s funny, he’s Canadian.  I guess there isn’t really a question there, but I thought Paul should be acknowledged for his tremendous contributions.  I mean… he put the Blues Brothers band together.  It was all him.  He couldn’t be in the movie because of conflict of interest legal mumbo jumbo.

And… he was in Spinal Tap. What is there not to love?

Ok, since that last wasn’t a question… or anything… really… who do you see still standing in 30 years?  This includes James Corden and Steven Colbert?

Jimmy Fallon.  He is a natural.

Friday Fives – music at the movies

What was the first DVD you ever purchased?

Now that I remember well. I bought this DVD before I owned a DVD player. It was the greatest and dumbest and most perfect movie ever: Spinal Tap

Do you still watch it?

Oh yes, I put it on in the background when I am cleaning. Just like Princess Bride, it gets better with each screening. Did you know that whole movie was improvised? I am talking about Spinal Tap, not Princess Bride. In addition, those songs were all written by those guys. The recordings are them on guitar and vocals as well.   Not that is commitment to a role.  Also, like Princess Bride, I know every word to the movie.  Watching either of those movies with me isn’t much fun.  Inconceivable, I know!

Oh, and then… the fake satire movie novelty original music. It wasn’t tied to a movie or anything. They (Michael McKean, Chris Guest, and Harry Shearer) just found after making the movie they really enjoyed each other and making music. After their second CD, they went on tour. So, at this point, Spinal Tap is a real life band… putting out original CDs and touring.

Not only was the whole movie improvised (Chris Guest is the genius behind all that, and several other movies) but when the actors did press, they only did it in character. They were just winging it, constantly. I was lucky enough to see them play live a few years ago. They did a Spinal Tap Unplugged tour. It was amazing. They not only played their hit Spinal Tap songs, but they played songs from their other amazing and improvised music movie – A Mighty Wind. They released a DVD and CD of this tour.

Keep in mind these guys are doing this truly for the love of the music. Harry Shearer is the voice of about a third of the Simpsons, including Mr Burns and Smithers. After 25 years, he is not only a millionaire, he could be a billionaire.  The actors are likely getting about 10 million a year.  Best part about voice over work, no one knows your face.  Bart Simpson is likely one of the most recognized icons on earth, yet Nancy Cartwright could be sitting 5 feet from you and you wouldn’t know it.

If you could only save five DVDs from a house fire, what would they be?

Well, music DVDs, of course. Even though they are all likely totally replaceable, I mostly just buy music concert DVDs, because I can watch them over and over again.  I very rarely feel that way about movies.

Lesse, how about these. These are amazing performances, and you should own them as well:

*** Yes, I understand that was more than five.  What are you, a cop all the sudden?

Have you purchased any Blu Ray discs or do you just rent now?

Oh yes, I only buy Blu Ray now. However, I didn’t go back and re-buy my collection to upgrade from DVD to Blu Ray. When I got my Blu Ray player, though, at that point I began only buying Blu Ray going forward. The best thing about my Blu Ray player is that it is SO much more. It has the wireless internet stuff. So, it is also my Roku box, my Pandora music player, my Amazon pay per view movie player… all of that. Best $99 I have ever spent.

What is the jewel of your disc collection?

I have some really cool bootleg Todd Snider DVD shows, from this wonderful guy. Todd Snider is awesome. Here, just watch this. If you buy a CD of his, make SURE it is a live one. He is seriously more famous for telling his stories as he is for his songs.