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.

 

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Friday Fives – podcast edition

Do you listen to podcasts? If not, why not.

Oh man, this is great.  I did not pick these question, but this is my wheelhouse.  I am crazy for Podcasts.  Yes, I listen to podcasts daily.  Many.  I think we will attack that more below.

What are your favorite podcasts?

Adam Carolla, Car Talk, This American Life, Fitzdog Radio, WTF, Stuff you Should Know, Mohr Stories.  I listen to all of these every week.  Generally speaking, which ones I listen to depend on the guests.  Except This American Life.  They don’t have guests, and I NEVER miss that show.  It is the best hour of radio and storytelling imaginable.  And, these are all free.  And uncensored.

Any podcasts to ignore?

Sure, probably thousands.  At this point, Podcasts are like magazines.  You can find one for any interest.  Anyone on earth with a computer and an internet connection can have their own podcast.  Do you like knitting blankets for only calico cats using Peruvian wool, but a Persian weave?  Yeah, I bet there is a podcast for that.  Don’t ask me how I know… just trust me.

For the most part, all the podcasts mentioned above are entertainment.  If you are looking for thinky, cerebral stuff, try ‘RadioLab‘.  These guys are great, it’s just a little too dry for my tastes.  Another great one?  Ted talks.   Do you know about Ted talks?  Well, click here and learn.  They too have an awesome and free podcasts of these talks.

Will the podcast world take over radio?

For me, it absolutely has.  I gave up on rock radio about ten years ago.  I just couldn’t listen to the same shit over and over again.  So, I listened to my cd’s or books on tape.   Once podcasts came around, I was hooked.  I have a 35 minute drive each way to work.  This is valuable time.  Too valuable to spend listening to music, even though I have a seriously bad ass stereo system.

Two years ago, I busted my radio antenna and still haven’t fixed it.  You get content completely uncensored by any corporations.  Would you like a podcast about a guy who says “fuck my dog” over and over again for an hour every week?  That probably exists, and it’s legal.

Who/What subject would make a good podcast?

Interesting people talking freely.  It is that simple, and that is what is most compelling to me.  Would you like to have Adam Carolla and Seth McFarland chatting in your living room?  Telling jokes and downing booze?  Discussing just whatever comes to mind?  That is a podcast.  It makes my drive super enjoyable.  I don’t know why I love good conversation so much, but I really do value it.  It isn’t just that it is uncensored… it is the length of time.  You can’t get to know someone from 3 minutes on Conan.  Listening to them for an hour, though, gives you a much better feel for these people.

If you told 16 year old me “Hey, when you are 40, you will have a big ass truck with an amazing stereo system.  You will have access to every piece of music you own in that truck.  You will also drive a few hundred miles a week.  Also, you will only use this amazing stereo to listen to talk radio.” – well I would be an upset 16 year old.

Should I listen to a podcast?  What’s so great?

The beauty of podcasts is not just the entertainment, which is considerable, it is that I learn at the same time.  Not too mention, they are free and easy.  Here is how easy.  If you are Apple, use iTunes, if you are Android use any free app.  The podcasts are delivered to your phone automatically, and updated automatically.  You don’t have to do anything.  You can also see who the guest is on each show.  For Carolla, This American Life, and Car Talk, I listen regardless.  For Jay Mohr (Mohr Stories), Greg Fitzsimmons (Fitzdog radio) and Mark Maron (WTF) I only listen if I am interested in the guest.

There are other notable ones, too.  Just about every NPR show is available via podcast.  Sound boring?  Then you are dumb.  How about Teri Gross chatting with Tom Waits for an hour.  Anything better than that?  No sir.

NPR (national public radio) calls these ‘driveway moments’.  It means you are listening to a piece on your drive home.  You get home, but the story isn’t over.  It is so compelling you sit in your driveway to finish the story.  It is a very real phenomenon for aging rockers like myself who listen to talk radio on their $1200 radio.

Well, the podcast is even better… because you can simply pause the story until you are back in the car.  You don’t even need the internet to listen to the podcasts.  You need it to get them, but you can download them at home and have them queued up to listen to on your next drive, even if you won’t be in cell phone coverage.

The content ranges dramatically.  For example, Carolla’s show (the most downloaded podcast officially per Guinness book) is very formatted.  He has intros, guests, bits, a news segment… it is just like a one hour talk show, but with no commercials and no editors and no standards and practices legal team telling you not to do rape jokes.

Where do I begin?

Car Talk is just what it sounds like.  It is a radio call in show where two brilliant and hilarious old Italian guys diagnose car problems over the phone.  They have been on the air on NPR for 20 years, but recently the technology made it also available to podcasts.  I can’t say enough good things about Car Talk.  You learn a ton about cars, and it is incredibly entertaining.

For a starter kit, do this.  Find this episode of “This American Life”.  This specific favorite of mine is called ‘the greatest answering machine message of all time’.  That is a hell of a teaser, isn’t it?  Well, it pays off.  This was a legendary voice mail that circulated around a college campus for years.  This was back when they were on those micro-cassettes.  So, the staff hears the story.  They track down the message for us, and play it.  It really is that great.  Then, because they are all journalists at This American Life, they track down all the principal figures in the story.  Who left the message, who it was left for, and the story about it.

It makes the best 20 minutes of radio you can imagine. Though the link shows the program is an hour, you only need to listen to the first 20 minutes. Here is a link.

Sorry, that got too long and rambly.  As you can see, though, I am very passionate about podcasts.  So, when I got these questions from my editor this afternoon, I got all bubbly.

* in closing, Podcasts are being threatened.  There is a group of patent trolls who are extorting all the big podcasters and demanding a cut.  A group of businessmen bought some obsolete patent about sequencing radio programs, or something like that.  They wrote Adam Carolla a letter demanding 3 million bucks.  Carolla, quite wonderfully, told them to suck it.  Now he is raising funds for all his legal defense.  This is literally to protect the future of all podcasts.  You can help here.

** I don’t point out I have a $1200 stereo to tell you I am better than you and have nicer stuff (even though I am, and I do :)) – I point it out because since all I do is listen to variations on talk radio, any $40 stereo from Wal Mart would do the trick.  My subwoofer gets no work out these days, it’s quite sad.

Friday Fives bonus music edition

*** editors note > I wrote this the day before Amy Winehouse died. Just a coindicence, really.

Hey all,

The last two weeks of ‘fives’ have frankly beeen phoned in crapola.  I have been super engaged in moving and settling.  You deserve better.  Not much better, but better.  So, here is a free look at my awesome music psyche.  Here are the first five songs that come up on full random on my iPod.

There are 14,292 songs on my iPod.  here goes:

Rehab- Amy Winehouse

man, what a talent.  Too bad she hasn’t done ANYTHING in five years.  I remember the first time I heard her sing.  I was listening to the local clear channel factory.  I was impressed they were playing 50’s R&B (black people music, in a nutshell).  The song was ‘back to black’.  The wifey explained it was a young hot limey chick.  I could hardly believe it.

Anyhow, your reaction might be that she is an overrated hack.  Not the case, watch this clip:

 

This drinking will kill me – Dwight Yoakum

normally, I don’t like country.  Certainly not any comtemporary country.  But, for Dwight I have an exception.  I was over at Eddie’s house many Easters ago.  Dwight doing ‘guitars, cadellacs…’ a capella.  Just him and his voice.  It is off this album, which converted me instantly.   I love it so much, i actually picked up one of the songs and perform it in my band. Also, Dwight is a great actor, and you have seen him in tons of movies.  He does bit parts, mostly.  Sling Blade, Crank 2, and a bunch of others.  He gets about five lines, and you would not recognize him because without his hat he is balder than I am.

Don’t Tell Me – Madonna

I LOVE this song.  I don’t have much Madonna on my iPod.  only two songs, I believe.  This, and ‘Ray of Light’.  I also remember when I met this song.  Madonna was on Letterman and played it, on acoustic.  It was impressive.  Here is that clip. 

Kick Drum Heart – Avett Brothers.

This song is ok.  Like everyone else, I fell in love with them on ‘I and Love and You’.  GOD that is a really really great song.  The rest is marginal.  They need someone to help write their songs and flesh out their ideas.  A Mutt Lange, a Steve Lillywhite, or a Glen Ballard.  Those guys are the modern ‘Brill Building’.  They are hit factories.

Lonely – Tom Waits

Tom Waits is the bomb.  This song, which is a complete downer, is from his first album.  Written in 1972, the year I was born.  Actually, almost all the songs on this album (Closing Time) are downers… but beautifully written.  You won’t hear Tom Waits on the radio, ever.  But, his songs are out there.  Rod Stewart made ‘downtown train’ a hit.  The Eagles made ‘Ole 55’ a hit, and Springsteen made ‘Jersey Girl’ a hit.

I am already reconsidering this piece

Ok, y’all, it’s time to talk about the Senator Craig sex scandal. In brief, this creepy old senator dude from Idaho (or Iowa… one of those states) got busted soliciting gay bathroom sex at the airport. Awesome! Good leadership, Senator. Apparently this isn’t his first foray into trouble. He was implicated back in the early 80’s in s Congressional sex and cocaine scandal. Whatever. What dude wants to do on his time in his house is his business. Problem here is this: dude is married. see, you thought gay sex was frowned upon by the GOP… wait until your wife finds out.

I gotta imagine that is what landed him strollin’ for colon in the men’s room. See, my wife never lets me have crazy gay sex with strangers in my house, either.

It gets better, so stay with me. When the senator got arrested, the officer said it was simply a citation. The officer told the senator the media would not be called, so he should just plead guilty to make this go away. So, he did. This was last year.

A few weeks ago, his local newspaper found this out and released the story. The senator’s response was two fold; he held a press conference to announce:

1. he wasn’t gay

2. he was reconsidering his guilty plea

I love it when people have press conferences announcing how gay they aren’t. That sure worked for Ted Haggard and Mike Piazza. By the way, he didn’t get arrested for being gay. Being gay isn’t illegal, even for Republicans.  THIS, America, is how you have a press conference.  Make sure you stay to the end, it’s only 3 minutes long.

So, dude says he was innocent and should not have plead guilty. Then, his entire party (the one’s who hates gays) turned their back on him and told him to resign. On Saturday, he did.

See, we have all been accused of things we didn’t do. I am still angry that 20 years ago when I worked at Jack in the Box they accused me of taking $60 from the register. I never did that. Never. Sure, I stole food… but never touched the cash. My manager asked me to “just confess” and I wouldn’t be fired. I refused to confess. If I were accused to seeking gay sex, I mean crazy weird illegal airport gay sex… and I was innocent > I would fight the shit out of that.

Then, the GOP had an epiphany. Absolutely no Idahoan with half a brain would vote Republican to replace this guy. So, they begged him to stay… after he resigned. So, now the senator has decided to reconsider his resignation. Really, the only thing he should have reconsidered was trying to get laid in the airport bathroom with an undercover cop. George Michael was not able for comment on this piece, but is positively giggling somewhere.

** totally awesome update > Thursday 5:18 pm.

Apparently reading this blog, Senator Craig’s folks released this statement. “he was going to retire, anyway.” That is so perfectly childish. it’s like if you get fired from a job (which he kinda did) and you reply to the boss on the way out “I was gonna quit anyway!”… and that somehow that redeems your shame and self worth.