Thursday, November 30, 2006

The land of Benny Hill and Coronation Street

So as J-Mac mentioned in a recent posting on her blog, she & I are off to the United Kingdom on December 1st. It will be a jam packed 10 days as we begin by landing in London and staying there for a couple of days. We will then drive to Cardiff, Wales (first stopping off in Bath, England) for a couple more days. We will then be flying from Cardiff to Glasgow, Scotland. We will then fly from Glasgow back to London for a night before flying home.

This will be my first flight to Europe since my journey when I was 16 years old. Not looking forward to all the flying but certainly can't wait to get there.

Top 5 things I want to do in the UK.
1. Go to really old pubs. I mean ones that are hundred of years old. When we are in Glasgow, I want to go to a pub that J-Mac's father, grandfather and great grandfather used to go to.

2. Drive. Not that I like driving that much at all, I want to check out what it is like to drive on the other side of the street with the driver's seat on the other side of the car.

3. Eat meat pies. You know, steak and kidney pies, steak and mushroom pies. I am not a fan of them in general but I would like to try them out there. You know...when in Rome and all those kinds of cliches.

4. Go to the Tower of London. This London landmark, reknown to have been a prison for kings such as John Baliol of Scotland, Henry VI of England as well as conspirator of the Gunpowder Plot Guy Fawkes. It is also known to have been the site of many tortures and executions. I am just fascinated by the history.

5. Play golf while in Scotland. This is the birthplace of the sport and I would love to play it there, though I am sure any course there would absolutely kick my ass. Nevertheless, time and weather will probably be against us and we won't be able to play a round.

To get me in the mood for the trip, I found a classic clip of famed British comedian Benny Hill.

Not that I want to think about plane crashes in movies or TV prior to the trip, however, the website IGN has listed the top 50 current loose ends on the show Lost. Or, as I like to call it, the top 50 reasons why I no longer watch Lost.

Probably won't have time to post during the trip so I will post something when I am back on Dec. 11.


Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Superman 2...Volume 2

One of my favourite super-hero movies is Superman II. This is the second of the Christopher Reeve series where Superman must fight General Zod, Ursa and Non all the while falling in love with Margot Kidder's Lois Lane and making the decision to have his powers removed so he can live a normal life with her.

However, the movie has been steeped in controversy over the years. You see, original Superman director Richard Donner was actually filming part 1 and part 2 simultaneously. With principle photography for the film and 70% of the second movie also done, production was stopped on Part 2 so Donner could polish part 1 for the release.

Circumstances were brewing with the production of part 2 starting with Marlon Brando suing the studio for a higher percentage of the profits for part 2. The studio decided to remove all of Brando's scenes from part 2 and asked Donner to make the film campier. Donner essentially refused so the studio plopped in Richard Lester to finish directing part 2.

However, in order for a director to have sole credit for directing a film, over 50% of the footage has to be shot by that person. So Lester literally had to re-shoot entire scenes that Donner had already done. Gene Hackman (who was playing Lex Luthor) refused, so his scenes in the original cut are Donner's production. Margot Kidder went along with the re-shoots but was quite vocal in her opposition of the changes. Because of this, she is barely in the third Superman movie (also directed by Lester).

Top 5 Christopher Reeve films
1. The Remains Of The Day
2. Superman II
3. Street Smart
4. Switching Channels
5. Above Suspicion (bizarre film where Reeve plays a paralyzed policeman who plots to murder his wife. Less than a week after the film was released, Reeve suffered that horse riding accident that left him actually paralyzed)

With the success of the recent Superman movie with Brandon Routh, Warner Brother has released the Richard Donner version of Superman II. As much as half of the film contains never-before seen material filmed by Donner, including 15 minutes of restored Marlon Brando scenes as Superman's father Jor-El as well as numerous new Christopher Reeve and Margot Kidder scenes. There are also several newly-filmed shots with CGI enhancements. Here is a review from the website Cinematical of this new version of the film. As well, here is a trailer for this new cut.

Monday's LA Times has an interview with Richard Donner about the release of his version of the movie.


Tuesday, November 28, 2006

I Love Lists...Vol. 3

The movie magazine Premiere has released a long awaited list. The Top 20 Most overrated films of all time. And this list pulls no punches as it includes Field Of Dreams, Nashville and 'gulp' The Wizard Of Oz. Each page lists one movie, the reason why one of the writers picked it and a rebuttle written by another Premier writer explaining why the person was wrong.

My own top 5 Most Overrated comedies (I am specifying comedies because if I include dramas, that will mean listing The English Patient which will just get me in trouble at home.

1. Ace Ventura (either of them...I am just shocked that they were even produced)
2. Mrs. Doubtfire (ridiculous lack of chemistry between Sally Field and Robin Williams, characters are unbelievably stupid and the leaps of logic are awe-inspiring)
3. There's Something About Mary (funny concept but this extremely slow paced movie drags 20 mins of comedy over a 90 minute film)
4. Austin Powers (any of them-the first one is a little funny, the second and third ones are just retreads of the original)
5. In And Out (there are so many things wrong with this film it is the Independance Day of comedies)

Not much else to write about today. If you are fan of the show How I Met Your Mother, you already have Robin Sparkles' song Let's Go To The Mall stuck in your head for about a week. For those of you who aren't, this video is all over the internet. On the show, one of the characters had a minor hit song in Canada back in 1993. This is the video for that song and it is Tiffany-circa-1986-goodness at its best. It is about the best spoof of an 80s song and video I have ever seen. You should be watching this show if you are not already, it may be the best sitcom on the air since the first season of Friends.

In other TV news, Canada's CTV network has finally started airing some of their shows on-line. Mostly it is the Canadian stuff so you can watch all the episodes of Corner Gas (very funny), Degrassi (haven't watched it since the 80s) or Whistler (never have seen a second of it). The US produced shows that they air should start slipping on their soon. As of right now, the only one is that show I said I will only talk about one more time. If you are interested, this week's episode was the best one since the pilot. It was finally about the making of a show as opposed to the personalities behind the scenes. You can see them all if you go to the broadband section of their website. You can do so easily from their homepage.

And getting back to the 80's for a second, icon Billy Idol has released a CHRISTMAS ALBUM!!!! Here is the video for his version of White Christmas. It has left me mystified.

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Monday, November 27, 2006

Wal-Mart? Do you buy walls there?

Listening to my pal Elvis last week talking about his job is what gave me the idea for this blog entry. He works for a company that supplies products for Wal-Mart.

He was telling me all the problems he has dealing with that conglamerate. That essentially they call the shots, no matter what because 50% of people in North America shop at Wal-Mart. He supplies them with a certain amount of product, if they run out, it's HIS fault...HE gets penalized. If HE doesn't like it, they'll simply take their business elsewhere. So essentially, this company holds the entire continent hostage because people are too stupid not to shop there.

This isn't the only criticism that Wal-Mart receives. Essentially, they destroy all the local business around them in order to survive. I know they spin this topic to show how they actually help local economies.

A study commissioned by Wal-Mart by Global Insight, claimed that their stores' presence saves working families more than $2,329 per year, while creating more than 210,000 part time, minimum wage jobs in the U.S. From 1985–2004, Wal-Mart was found to be, "associated with a cumulative decline of 9.1% in food-at-home prices, a 4.2% decline in commodities (goods) prices, and a 3.1% decline in overall consumer prices."

The study also indicated that, "nominal wages are 2.2% lower, but given that consumer prices are 3.1% lower, real disposable income is 0.9% higher than it would have been in a world without Wal-Mart."

However, a study at Iowa State University in 1997 found that small towns can lose almost half of their retail trade within ten years of Wal-Mart opening. To illustrate this, Wal-Mart has faced several accusations of, predatory pricing, or intentionally selling a product below cost in order to drive some or all competitors out of the market. In 1995, in the case of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. American Drugs, Inc., American Drugs accused Wal-Mart of intentionally selling individual items below cost for the purpose of injuring competitors and destroying competition. While the lower court ruled in favor of American Drug, the Supreme Court of Arkansas ruled in favor of Wal-Mart, citing that their pricing strategies, including the use of loss leaders, did not constitute predatory pricing.

Wal-mart has also faced a great deal of criticism regarding its treatment of employees. First regarding employees trying to creat unions at the stores. For example, when meat cutters at the Jacksonville, Texas supercenter voted to unionize in 2000, Wal-Mart closed its meat department and began shipping in pre-packaged meats at all stores. When workers at a Jonquière, Quebec Wal-Mart voted to unionize, Wal-Mart closed the store five months later, citing weak profits.

In the United States, there are concerns on several labor issues, including low pay and inadequate health care coverage. Additionally, Wal-Mart is facing several lawsuits by current and former hourly associates who allege that the company forced them to work, "off the clock", or failed to provide work breaks, or otherwise claim they were not paid for work performed."

Another controversy regarding Wal-Mart related to DVDs they packaged together on their retail website. For African-American related DVDs like Introducing Dorothy Dandridge and a Martin Luther King documentary, they included a link to other similar DVDs that you may also enojoy like Planet of the Apes or Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Wal-mart referred to this as a software glitch, later changing the story to "human error".

Most of this information I received from wikipedia's section on the criticism of Wal-Mart. It is some pretty interesting reading.

There was also the infamous memo from 1995 by Wal-Mart's executive VP for Benefits regarding how to reduce spending on health care. Its recommendations included the following:

  • hiring more part-time workers
  • discouraging unhealthy people from working at Wal-Mart
  • wooing younger, and presumably healthier, workers by offering education benefits
  • workers with seven years' seniority earn more than workers with one year's seniority, but are no more productive
  • jobs to include some physical activity (e.g., all cashiers do some cart-gathering)
  • employees pay more for their spouses' health insurance
  • cutting 401(k) contributions to 3 percent of wages from 4 percent
  • cutting company-paid life insurance policies to $12,000 from the current level, equal to an employee's annual earnings
  • Life insurance was a "high-satisfaction, low-importance benefit, which suggests an opportunity to trim the offering without substantial impact on associate satisfaction."
  • Wal-Mart workers "are getting sicker than the national population, particularly in obesity-related diseases," including diabetes and coronary artery disease

The New York times got a copy of this memo and it became a huge scandal at the time. However, that scandal has clearly dissipated almost 10 years late.

For more about the issues with Wal-Mart, I highly recommend the documentary Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price. Here is that documentary's trailer.

As the idea for this blog was from my pal Elvis. The top 5 list is as follows:

Top 5 Elvis Costello songs.
1. (What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding
2. Pump It Up
3. Radio Radio
4. Shipbuilding
5. She
1. King Creole


Saturday, November 25, 2006

I'll be "picking" something else

You know how some movies, you are just shocked that they have actually been approved, filmed and then finally released? There are two examples this week with the release of Deck The Halls with Matthew Broderick and Danny DeVito. Did anyone, including the actor formerly known as Bueller actually think this retread of Christmas Vacation would be funny? It looks just sad and worn down. I am embarrassed for all involved.

The other movie that I am suprised by is Tenacious D In: The Pick of Destiny. I mean yes I get the joke, they are pretending that the movie is more important than it really is. The movie poster riffs on the God Creates Adam from the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and the tagline for the movie is "The greatest motion picture of all time."

But still, unless you are a fan of Tenacious D, why would you go see this movie? I've never even understood the concept of the band. Are they spoofing 70s rock, are they just writing funny songs like Canada's Sean Cullen? Or are they trying to be a serious band? Why is band member Jack Black, who seems to be carving out a decent movie career, hanging on to this band. It's kind of like Will Smith and his music career. Neither are amazing actors but they would be better served sticking with movies.

The movie already had problems before it was released. At an advance screening almost a year ago. The ending was a tribute to The Blues Brothers which the audience did not seem to appreciate (according to Variety Magazine). The ending has since been re-filmed. I think even the title is a little too much. I assumed it was some sort of joke regarding nose picking (no, I did not have hopes for high brow comedy here). It is actually regarding a guitar pick. The title seems a little obscure for some to appreciate.

According to the Rotten Tomatoes website only 52 % of critics have given positive reviews to the film. Unfortunately, by Monday, this number will drop even further. If I can make one recommendation...choose better directors!!!! The Pick Of Destiny's director is Liam Lynch. His background includes pupateering and directing a video for the Foo Fighters (Times Like These)which MTV did not like and even criticized at the time.

I have included the theme song from the movie. Musically, it is actually pretty good. But Jack Black's mugging, like it does in movies which he is the main character, does begin to grate on you. The perfect Jack Black role and performance? High Fidelity. He is in it just enough not to irritate. Of course, like many comedic actors who aren't as funny as they think they are, need a quality director like High Fidelity's Stephen Frears. However, Jared Hess and Nacho Libre? Dennis Dugan and Saving Silverman? Michael Caton-Jones and The Jackal? As filmgoers, we were not too lucky there. Even School of Rock, a movie Black was nominated for a Golden Globe, could have been better if the director had reeled in Black's mugging a little more. Plus, it was rather hard to believe that the secret of what they were really doing in the class was so well hidden. I mean, come ON!

Interestingly enough, the two members of Tenacious D, the aforementioned Jack Black and Kyle Gass met at an LA-based experimental theatre group called The Actors' Gang. A group started by, among others, Tim Robbins.

Top 5 Tim Robbins films
1. The Shawshank Redemption
2. Bull Durham
3. Bob Roberts
4. Mystic River
5. Arlington Road


Friday, November 24, 2006

Are you ready for more football?

Former football great and current football analyst Michael Irvin is about to join the ranks of the unemployed after comments he made on ESPN radio earlier this week.

His comments may be on the back burner during this, the week of Michael Richards comments, but they are just as offensive.

ESPN host Dan Patrick was asking him about the play of current Dallas Cowboy quarterback Tony Romo. Keep in mind, as you read these quotes, Romo is white. Irvin believes that Romo's stellar play has nothing to do with hard work or talent but that he may have some black heritage in him. Said Irvin about Romo, he may have "some brother down in that line somewhere."

When Patrick pressed him on the topic of black heritage and talent for sports, Irvin said, "That's not the only way, but it's certainly one way. If great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandma pulled one of them studs up out of the barn ... `Come on in here for a second,' you know ... "

As the Toronto Star's Chris Zelkovich said, "Joke or not, by my count, that's offensive to blacks, whites, grandmothers and humanity in general."

ESPN has said nothing on the topic but will probably be addressed during Sunday's NFL pregame show. I would be shocked if Irvin was still part of the broadcast team...wasn't Rush Limbaugh fired by ESPN in 2003 for much less of an offensive statement?

This isn't the first time Irvin has been in trouble. In 2001 he was arrested for felony cocaine possession charges. And then in 2005, he was arrested for having drug paraphanalia in his car. Those charges were dropped after Irvin said that the stuff was actually his brothers. He had forgotten to throw it out. A mistake I am sure most of us have been prone to make. Despite this, ESPN did suspend him for two days.

Speaking of mug shots, you can find ones for famous people on The Smoking Gun. Here are my top 5 ones, I have added hyperlinks directly to their picture.

1. Nick Nolte
2. Glen Campbell
3. Michael Jackson
4. James Brown
5. Lief Garrett


Thursday, November 23, 2006

Are you ready for some football?

So it is the American Thanksgiving, this means football all afternoon. Does any league know how to promote itself better than the NFL? The football games really seem to overshadow the actual meaning of Thanksgiving.

I know J-Mac, a big football fan, normally takes this day off but can't this year due to some meetings. She is certainly a bigger fan than I am. My interest in the NFL goes as far as going to a Bills game once a year and entering a "pick-em" pool at work.

This is my third year being in a football pool and I still do not understand why I bother. I normally do well in the early part. My first two times, I actually won the first week. This year, I actually got all 15 games right in week #4 but lost out on the money as three other people also got all 15 right and one person picked the correct amount of total points for the Monday night game.

Anyway, as we are now in the second half of the season, I no longer have a strategy to win. I was working on the "picking the home team unless it is blatently obvious that the visitors will win" kind of theory. I gave up on that as no matter what theory I use, I end up with 8 or 9 correct. Not horrible, but never enough to win.

In recognition of the American Civil War (a subject I know embarrassingly little about), my fellow poolie Jayman and I are splitting our two ballots. I am picking the team that is most south while he is taking the team that is most north. Part of me was thinking I should take the north, you know, since the north won the civil war. But decided to go with the south..."THE SOUTH WILL RISE AGAIN". If either of us win, we will split the monies. Though I am thinking we will both end up winning 8 of the games.

As I write this, John Fogerty is playing during the half time of the Lions/Dolphins game. If you missed it, be glad, the mix is horrible. All you can hear is his voice and his guitar. The mics are not picking up the rest of the band. He is going to be pissed when he watches this after.

Top 5 Creedance Clearwater Revival songs
1. Fortunate Son
2. Down On The Corner
3. Travelin' Band
4. Hey Tonight
5. Up Around The Bend

Though, considering Fogerty's career, he has every right to be bitter about things. Fantasy Records, the company that originally signed CCR still owns the distribution and publishing rights for all of their songs. Fantasy Records frontman Saul Zaentz had a lengthy legal battle with Fogerty since the 80s. Zaentz sued Forgerty for defamation of character for the songs from Forgerty's 1985 album centrefield that featured songs "Zanz Kant Danz", "The Old Man Down The Road" and "Mr. Greed". Zaentz felt these were shots at his personal character. The lawsuit went even further as Zaentz claimed that Fogerty's song "The Old Man Down The Road" lifted its music from Fogerty's CCR song "Run Through The Jungle". In other words, Zaentz was claiming that Fogerty was ripping off himself!!!!

The story finally ended when Zaentz sold his interest in Fantasy Records and Fogerty once again signed up with the record company soon after.


Tuesday, November 21, 2006

RIP Robert Altman

I have to admit it is with a lot of sadness that I have to tell you that maverick 70s director Robert Altman has died at the age of 81.

His sweeping stories filled with multitudes of characters whose lines often overlapped each other first came to prominence in the mid-70s with the films M*A*S*H and Nashville. His career went into a bit of a tailspin but had a renessaince in the latter part of his career with The Player and Gosford Park.

My introduction to Altman was with the film M*A*S*H. I grew up watching the TV show and was interested in seeing the movie. At first, I couldn't appreciate the movie, the surgery scenes were too gross, their were too many characters (none of them played by Alan Alda) and I couldn't understand what everyone was saying as they were talking too fast and over top of each other. Looking at the film now, those are exactly the reasons why I love the film.

It can be argued that his Altman's 1975 film Nashville is even better. It is about a cross section of people living in Nashville and struggling to make it in the country music field. In Roger Ebert's Great Films Archive he discusses what makes Nashville a true masterpiece of American filmmaking.

Top 5 Robert Altman films
1. M*A*S*H
2. Nashville
3. The Caine Mutiny Court Martial
4. California Split
5. The Gingerbread Man

My third movie on the list is probably one of Altman's least known films. It is as close to a remake as Altman ever got. It was not a true shot-for-shot remake of the Humphrey Bogart/Fred MacMurray classic The Caine Mutiny from 1954. It was a remake of the broadway play that was based on the original Caine Mutiny novel. However, showing sheer director's bravado, Altman kept in all the great moments from the original movie.

If you know that original film, you know it is about a mutiny on board a US Naval ship led by the executive officer Lt. Stephen Maryk (Van Johnson) and the conniving, budding author Lt. Thomas Keefer (Fred MacMurray). They believe that the ship's commander Lt. Comm. Philip Queeg (Humphrey Bogart) is too unstable to lead and they start a mutiny. The original film deals with both action on the ship itself and the court martial afterwards. It features a brilliant scene where the defense counsel Lt. Barney Greenwald (Jose Ferrer) puts Queeg on the stand and literally tears him the shreds and thereby, gets his clients off.

What is interestesting is that he really believes Queeg is not unfit to command and blames the whole thing on Keefer. The final scene in both the original film and Atlman's film has a drunken Greenwald approaching his clients at the party after the acquittal and throwing a drink in the face of Keefer. Telling all that HE is the one who is the true author of the mutiny and telling them who he lied on the stand to make it look like he had nothing to do with convincing Maryk to start the mutiny. Both films have that great final line that Greenwald says to the group, "If you wanna do anything about it, I'll be outside. I'm a lot drunker than you are - so it'll be a fair fight."

Altman, who was given a Lifetime Achievement Academy Award earlier this year, was one of the most prolific directors in history. Here is a clip from that show with Meryl Streep and Lily Tomlin are presenting the award to Altman. It is not as funny as THEY seem to think it is, but it was a nice moment.

For more Robert Altman information, Chicago Sun-Times writer Jim Emerson details all of famed critic Roger Ebert's encounters with Altman and his films over the years.


Maybe it was the pretzels making him thirsty?

Just in time for the release of the DVD box set of the 7th season of Seinfeld, Michael Richards (who played Cosmo Kramer) used racist taunts at the crowd during his stand-up comedy routine at the Laugh Factory in West Hollywood.

He was being heckled during his routine and clearly decided to commit career suicide by yelling back at the hecklers (who were black) "Fifty years ago, we'd have you upside down with a fucking fork in your ass", he went on using the N-word over and over and then said, "that's what happens when you interrupt the white man". People were literally walking out as Richards went on and on.

Even worse for Richards, there is video of this incident!!!

The Seinfeld camp reacted quickly as this footage was all over the internet. Seinfeld star Jerry Seinfeld first released a statement about the incident, saying, "I am sick over this. I'm sure Michael is also sick over this horrible, horrible mistake. It is so extremely offensive. I feel terrible for all the people who have been hurt."

Then on Monday night, Seinfeld was on The Late Show with David Letterman in order to try and protect the Seinfeld show legacy. The first segment of the interview was them talking to Richards from LA.

It was one of the most bizarre moments I have ever witnessed on television as Richards offered up a rambling, unpolished apology that may actually make things worse for him. First of all, he couldn't decide whether the correct term was black, african american or (my personal fave) afro-americans. Secondly, you knew the excuse had to be forthcoming. Was it going to be drugs, alcohol or perhaps even the twinkie defense. No, it was anger management. He has this "rage within him" that caused him to go off like that.

What helps make that segment even more bizarre is that the majority of the Letterman audience clearly was unaware of the scandal and thought it was a comedic bit by Richards with the help of Seinfeld and Letterman. They were actually laughing as Richards was struggling to apologize until Seinfeld finally blurted out for them to stop laughing.

It will be interesting to see how this whole incident effect television history when it comes to the show Seinfeld. In some ways, it is a really bizarre twist to what many consider as one of the greatest sitcoms in the history of television.

My top 5 non-regular Seinfeld characters.
1. Newman
2. Jackie Chiles
3. Lt. Bookman
4. Shaky the Mohel
5. J. Peterman


Monday, November 20, 2006

Victory is mine! (and other unrelated topics)

No, this isn't a blog entry about Stewie and the show Family Guy. Though, my GOD has that show gone downhill. I haven't seen a show go downhill this fast since that time I appeared as an extra on an episode of Happy Days when Fonzie had to jump over a shark.

Anyway, I just wanted to use the word victory in the title because J-Mac and I went to The Victory Cafe on Markham Street (near Honest Eds) for dinner on Friday. It was one of the most surprising dinners we have ever had. They had this great selection of micro-brews on tap. I had an excellant macaroni and cheese for dinner. The funny thing is that we were there fairly early for a Friday night. But the place was absolutely packed!!! When we were leaving, we figured out why. The bill was ridiculously cheap. J-Mac and I have found a new place to eat and drink.

Interestingly, J-Mac and I spent the whole evening debating whether the bartender looks like the lead singer from Toronto 80s band, Blue Peter. Looking at Blue Peter's official website, I think he actually was. Plus, I went to youtube to find the video for Blue Peter's big hit Don't Walk Past. I found it and among the comments, someone said the lead singer of the band was working as a waiter in Toronto.

Other news from the weekend included the fact that Jayman and his wife M are pregnant and due in May. I always love hearing these kinds of news. Just helps me realize that I do NOT need to help re-populate the planet. Anyway, they had a group of us over on Sunday to surprise us with the news. However, since there was a card on their mantle about the impending news, a lot of us had already figured it out. It was actually pretty amusing.


For weeks, I have been toying with the idea of writing a blog entry on why CSI: Miami is so much better than the other CSIs. Sadly, I don't really like CSI: Miami all that much either and there isn't really much I can say about it. Let me just say this, lead actor David Caruso just makes me laugh. Youtube has a collection of his greatest hits. The "Sunglasses of justice" line that he delivers just before the opening credits every week. Enjoy!

Top 5 favourite Cop shows
1. Homicide: Life On The Street
2. Law & Order
3. Barney Miller
4. Miami Vice
5. Criminal Minds

This list sucks...sorry. I am all over the place with my thoughts today. I will do better later in the week.


Sunday, November 19, 2006

Bored...James Bored

With the release of the new James Bond flick Casino Royale, the Bond machinery is starting to wheeze into position. Everytime a new Bond flick comes out, the production company re-releases a box set or box sets of Bond flicks. TV stations run marathons of old Bond flicks. Movie websites release their Bond lists, top 5 Bond movies, top 5 Bond girls etc etc.

Is anyone as tired as I am with the James Bond phenomenon? Since the end of Sean Connery's original tenure as James Bond, the movies have gone further and further away from what writer Ian Fleming meant when he first started writing James Bond novels back in 1953. Originally, Bond was supposed to be "an anonymous blunt instrument wielded by a Government Department." Did you really get that sense during the last 10 Bond films filled with ridiculous stunts, bad puns and the main character saying, "Shaken, not stirred" and "Bond...James Bond"? When the main character says these lines now, it sounds as ancient as Moses on the mountaintop.

The biggest problem with the James Bond franchise is that they are controlled by the British film company EON Productions Limited. They control all aspects of the Bond franchise including scripts, casting, directors etc etc. Each movie feels exactly the same, the character introduction that looks like it is scene through the barrel of the gun, the spectacular action scene, the dreamy credits with the movie theme song in the background with graphics of women and guns, Bond going to see his boss M while first flirting with the secretary Miss Moneypenny. Then he goes to the lab where Q introduces him to the gadgets he will have with this mission. The scene features lots of puns from Bond and lots of eye-rolling from Q. We then move into the action which is usually intentionally confusing as Bond's character always knows what he is doing prior to the audience being let in on the details. The pattern is the same everytime that I always get that feeling of deja vu when watching a new Bond film.

Direction is usually the biggest problem with these films. EON Productions Limited refuses to use any directors who might change the franchise in any way. They hamstring the productions so much so that major directors like Quentin Tarintino have been refused to be allowed to direct a Bond film.

Look at the directors of every Bond film, the most prolific one is Michael Apted (The World Is Not Enough). His directing career also included the great bio-pic of Loretta Lynn called Coal Miners Daughter. Though Martin Campbell (Goldeneye and the new Casino Royale) also directed a spectacular action film called The Mask Of Zorro so I guess he deserves some props as well.

And they don't have big name actors playing the bad guys in these films. That's what they really need! Yes I know Christopher Walken in A View To A Kill or Christopher Lee in The Man With The Golden Gun, but those are two of the weakest movies of the franchise. Everyone knows that for a good action movie, you need a great bad guy (Alan Rickman in Die Hard, Tommy Lee Jones in Under Siege etc etc). But Bond movies never have a memorable one. Never a big name actor who you can just love to hate in such a meaty role as the James Bond bad guy bent on some sort of world domination.

I don't mean to beat on the James Bond franchise too much, most people I know still enjoy them. I have seen them all so I guess I am not filled with too much hatred.

Top 5 James Bond Films
1. On Her Majesty's Secret Service (no, I am not joking-it is VERY underrated)
2. Goldfinger
3. Dr. No
4. Live And Let Die
5. The Living Daylights

As you can see, I have movies with 4 different Bond actors on that list. To be honest, I really don't care who plays Bond (though actors Clive Owen and Jeremy Northam would be perfect). They do not make or break the quality of the film.

By the way, if you are a James Bond fan the website Cinimatical has been covering all things Bond all week including a page that has every Bond movie trailer ever.


Thursday, November 16, 2006

I Love Lists...Vol. 2

So Time Magazine has weighed in on the topic of the 100 greatest and most influential records of all time.

What makes the list noteworthy is the absense of the perennial album that is always on these lists, Dark Side Of The Moon by Pink Floyd. Thanks to Toronto's radio station Q107 incessantly playing Pink Floyd, I can die happy if I never hear another Pink Floyd song again. However, it's omission from this list is already garnering lots of controversy.

But don't worry, this list isn't completely wacky, it does include obvious choices like The Eagles' Hotel California, Springsteen's Born To Run and The Beatles' Sergeant Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band.

It also has interesting choices with albums just before the band becomes a huge success like Kanye West's The College Dropout, Outkast's Stankonia and David Bowie's Hunky Dory.

On a personal note, I believe what is missing is anything by Steely Dan. Personal opinion, Steely Dan's Can't Buy A Thrill is the best debut album of the rock era.

Top 5 debut albums
1. Can't Buy A Thrill - Steely Dan
2. Velvet Underground & Nico - The Velvet Underground
3. Boston - Boston
4. The Chicago Transit Authority
5. The Rolling Stones - The Rolling Stones (also known as England's Newest Hitmakers)

For an opposing viewpoint to Time's list, Blender Magazine has listed The Most Disastrous Albums of all time. Unfortunately, an album I don't even like to recognize the existance of, David Bowie's Outside did not make the list.

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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Borat, Borat...enough with BORAT!!!

Ever feel like you are missing something? This is the way I have been feeling regarding the Borat phenomenon that seems to be sweeping the planet. The comedy, Borat: Cultural Learnings of America For Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, has been the number one movie two weeks running and could become the highest grossing comedy of all time (not that this matters-the highest grossing sports film of all time? Anyone? The Waterboy!!)

And the news following this phenomenon is relentless. Here is an article about him appearing on Saturday Night Live with Hugh Laurie. Even funnier, an article about the actor who plays Borat, Sacha Baron Cohen getting beaten up after that Saturday Night Live appearance. He approached this New Yorker and said, “I like your clothings. Are nice! Please may I buying? I want have sex with it.” The guy responded by pounding the crap out of him. Hugh Laurie actually had to come to his defense.

Apparently this is Cohen's thing, he continues to do interviews and appear on the street in character. The last actor I remember who did this was Paul Ruebens/Pee-Wee Herman, and that helped in the killing his career.

Apparently, there are a lot of Borat fans where I work as a segment with Cohen (in character as Borat) was on the Tonight Show and even appeared in a segment with a very uncomfortable looking Martha Stewart.

Controversies continue to dog Cohen/Borat. The villagers of Glod, Dâmboviţa County, Romania who claim they were lied to by Borat producers regarding the nature of the film. They did not know they were going to be portrayed as ignorant and say they were only paid the equivalanet of 6 american dollars for their appearance in the movie.

There are the two drunken frat boys who appear in the film swearing and making racist and sexist comments are suing 20th Century Fox and the three production companies. THey say they were duped into appearing and were liquored up before appearing on camera. They have since left their fraternity and school and are suffering from mental anguish.

If you don't know the character of Borat, he is this "reporter from Kazakhstan" and he appears places has a funny voice, makes sexist and anti-semitic remarks and is generally inappropriate to everyone involved.

Here is an article from MSNBC which details everyone else who where unknowingly in on the joke and are threatening lawsuits, have lost their job or just genuinely embarrassed. also has an interesting article about what was real and what was faked throughout the film. Chicago film critic/columnist Richard Roeper has also weighed in on the topic of Borat, first giving the film a marginal thumbs up and saying that what Cohen/Borat was doing was simply a rip off of what Andy Kaufman used to do in the 70s. Which makes me wonder if all of these controversies are also simply part of the act.

Since we are talking comedies, one of my favourite comic actors is Billy Crystal.

Top 5 Billy Crystal films
1. City Slickers
2. When Harry Met Sally...
3. Forget Paris
4. Running Scared
5. Mr. Saturday Night

One addendum to this blog entry, even J-Mac has jumped on board so I may be all alone on this one. I told her what I was writing about today and she said that she really wants to see it and when I told her about all the controversies surrounding it, my Scottish partner said, "Americans just don't understand British humour."


Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The Rusty Trombone

One of the most famous plays in the history of football occured during a college football game between the University of California Golden Bears and the Stanford University Cardinal on November 20, 1982.

With the Golden Bears losing 20-19 with 4 seconds left, upon receiving a kick-off, they used five lateral passes to score a touchdown to make the final score 25-20.

What is most memorable is that the play looks to be almost dead so the Stanford University band runs on the field for the celebrations. Meanwhile, the Golden Bears are rushing down field trying to score a touchdown. The final lateral occured on the Stanford 26 yard line as Mariet Ford blindly threw behind him to Kevin Moen. Moen then charged through the entire Stanford band finally ending with a touchdown as he crashed into trombone player Gary Tyrell knocking him flying.

Here is the play, my favourite part is when the announcer Joe Starkey who is doing the play-by-play on TV first realizes that as the play is going on, that the band is on the field and he hoarsely screams, "the BAND is on the field!".

The quarterback for the losing squad was future hall-of-famer John Elway. The following quotes have been attributed to him regarding that game.

  • "I don't think that a touchdown can be scored when you've got a whole band on the field. Now if he runs through three trombone guys, a tuba player, and two drum players, and dodges... and then runs right over a trombone player at the goal line and they call it a touchdown then, yeah, I think that that probably shouldn't have been called."

  • "This was an insult to college football... it was just a farce. They [the officials] didn't have control of the whole game. They ruined my last game as a college football player. I don't believe they can take something away like that. I don't believe they can take something like that away from this program. Something has to be done about the referees.. There's no doubt in my mind. It's all right to make a mistake, but somebody should be man enough to stand up and admit it. It was a very bittersweet ending. I did not want it to end this way. It's something I'll have to live with the rest of my life."

This game probably cost Elway the Heisman trophy as it ended up going to Georgia running back Herschel Walker.

The trombone player that Moen knocked into to score the touchdown has also been using his noteriety to stay in the news. Gary Tyrell, has his own microbrewery called Trombone Guy Pale Ale. He was recently interviewed in the LA Times as the 24 year anniversay of "The Play" is next week. In the interview he talks about his "fame", the fact that he no longer plays the trombone and that he still remains a Stanford football season-ticket holder.

Top 5 Football Movies

1. Remember The Titans

2. Any Given Sunday

3. North Dallas Forty

4. The Longest Yard (1972)

5. Jerry Maguire


Monday, November 13, 2006

Movie trailers redux

Getting all excited about the Spider-Man trailer last week got me thinking about the art of the movie trailer. It makes me laugh that we still call them trailers even though they are no longer at the end of the movie. Originally they were shown at the end of the movie but that practice was quickly stopped as patrons were leaving before they were shown.

Considering people's attention span now. There is no way theatres could put trailers at the end of a movie. I remember when J-Mac and I saw Traffic, you know, the film that was nominated for Best Picture in 2000 and won Academy Awards for Best Director, Best Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor. Anyway, people literally started leaving at the 2 hour mark. Like they decided they were only going to invest a certain amount of time in this movie and that was it. People are just ridiculous.

Anyway, getting back to trailers, I am loving these trailer spoofs that you can find on-line. These are actual trailers from actual films but re-cut to make it look like a completely different kind of movie. J-Mac sent me this one which is The Ten Commandments made to look like a wacky beach comedy.

Or the cult comedy classic Office Space made to look like a horror film.

Or, the best one yet, The Shining made to look like a nice comedy about a man falling in love with a single mother and her kid, directed by Cameron Crowe.

Top 5 Jack Nicholson films (this is going to be difficult)
1. Five Easy Pieces
2. One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest
3. As Good As It Gets
4. Easy Rider
5. A Few Good Men


Friday, November 10, 2006

My spidey sense is tingling

I love how movie trailers are getting release dates just like actual movies. Yesterday was the release of the new trailer for Spider-Man 3 and it looks amazing.

The trailer hints at a lot including the ongoing battle between Peter Parker/Spider Man against Harry Osborn who blames Parker for killing his father, the original Green Goblin. Spider director Sam Raimi has already stated that Osborn will not become the new Green Goblin or Hobglobin as in the comic books, but instead "somewhere between the two".

New bad guys are also hinted at including Sandman/Flint Marko (played by Thomas Haden Church) and Venom/Eddie Brock Jr. (played by Topher Grace). Sandman's storyline in this upcoming film appears to be a bit of a departure from the comics as he had a hand in the killing of Parker's Uncle Ben in the first Spider-Man film.

It is hard to tell what is going on with Venom/Brock in this new movie. His storyline from the comics is rather complex. He is a fellow reporter at the Daily Bugle along with Parker. He blames Spider-Man for debunking his prized story on the Sin-Eater Case. Brock becomes Venom as a result of a symbiosis with an extraterrestrial symbiote. Brock and the symbiote rename themselves Venom and become one of Spidey's arch enemies.

The storyline from the upcoming movie seems to feature the storyline that often occurs when Spidey and venom hook up. In the comics, Spiderman's original suit gets destroyed during a battle on an alien planet. He sets out to make a new one which ends up being a black suit (as opposed to the red and blue one he normally has). The new suit responds to his thoughts and gives him an unlimited supply of web fluid. When he returns to earth with it, he finds the suit is that extraterrestrial symbiote, which he destroys. That same symbiote then joins up with Brock.

I doubt the movie is going to have that inter-planetary bent. From the trailer, it seems Parker develops that black suit on his own based on his rage for finding the man (Sandman/Marko) who may have killed his uncle. Either way, considering how great the original Spiderman movie was and how the second one was even better...this third one should be a masterpiece.

For Spiderman comic fans, there is also the addition of the character Gwen Stacy who will be a rival with Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst) for Parker's effections. The only problem is Stacy is being played by Bryce Dallas Howard who is currently killing director M. Night Shyamalan's career by starring in his back-to-back bombs The Village and The Lady In The Water. Hopefully she won't be the same poison to Spiderman director Sam Raimi.

Top 5 Sam Raimi Films
1. Spider-Man 2
2. Darkman
3. Army Of Darkness
4. Spider-Man
5. A Simple Plan

Still missing in action but hinted at in previous films are John Jameson, the son of Daily Bugle editor J. Jonah Jameson. In the comics, he becomes Man-Wolf. Dr. Curt Conners also appeared in the Spider-Man sequel and was played by Dylan Baker. In the comics, he becomes the Lizard.

As you can see, there are plenty of opportunities for even more Spider-Man sequels. As it stands, Spider-Man 3 could become the best trilogy in film history since Star Wars (and don't tell me about Lord Of The Rings-I still stand by this statement).


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Is He Still The Boss? Vol. 2

Okay, I still say Springsteen is no longer The Boss. However, J-Mac did buy me his We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions CD for our anniversary, and it isn't too bad at all. It can be compared favourably to folk music, dixieland jazz and The Band's Music From Big Pink.

I still say stand by my June blog entry that says his music always suffers when there is no E Street Band.

Top 5 Non E Street Band Albums
1. Tunnel Of Love
2. The Seeger Sessions
3. Lucky Town
4. Nebraska
5. Human Touch

However, The Seeger Sessions has been in heavy rotation in my car all week. Funnily enough, despite the fact that some of these songs are over 100 years old, I only know one of them. Buffalo Gals, which is sung by Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed in It's A Wonderful Life and the lyrics are "kind of" featured in a song by Eminem called Without Me.

My two favourite songs are based on old spirituals the first called O Mary Don't You Weep No More and Jacob's Ladder. I have included the liner notes from Dave Marsh for each of the songs as well as for Mary footage from a concert and for Jacob, the actual video for the song.

Oh, Mary Don't You Weep
One of the most important Negro spirituals, predating the Civil War. The Mary of this song is not Mary the Blessed Virgin or Mary Magdalene, but Mary of Bethany who, with her sister Martha, pleaded with Jesus to raise their brother Lazarus from the dead, their grief so great that Jesus wept himself at the sight of it (John 11: 28-35). A very common version of the song begins: "Oh Mary, don't you weep / Oh Martha, don't you mourn.

But the bulk of this version of the song is drawn from the Old Testament book of Exodus, especially the terrifying reassurance of the chorus that "Pharoah's Army got drown-ded" (always sung this way). The last verse here reaches even further back, all the way to the story of Noah in Genesis, to God's covenant, expressed in the "rainbow sign" that he will never again use a flood to destroy mankind (Genesis 9: 9-17). That the alternative apocalypse is fire is pure but potent folklore. James Baldwin took this image from "O Mary Don't You Weep" as the title of his most enduring account of American racial relations, The Fire Next Time.

Baldwin did so appropriately because, from slavery times down through the Southern civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s, these images represent the struggle against bondage and the hope of liberation. "O Mary Don't You Weep" is the first of three songs on this album that were sung during the civil rights movement as "freedom songs."

Many of the verses here, particularly the first three, also crop up in other spirituals. These are called "floating verses." Almost all such verses are freedom metaphors.The most famous recording of "O Mary Don't You Weep" is undoubtedly by the Swan Silvertones; an interpolation by that group's leader, Claude Jeter, inspired Paul Simon to write "Bridge Over Troubled Water." The earliest recording was made by the Fisk Jubilee Singers in 1915, and it has been recorded by innumerable gospel quartets and soloists since then, notably the Golden Gate Quartet with Josh White, the Soul Stirrers with Sam Cooke, in addition to the Swans. But not only by them: Mississippi John Hurt, Nat "King" Cole, Burl Ives, Roger McGuinn, Aaron Neville, Bobby Darin and Jimmy Witherspoon have all recorded it. Pete Seeger's version of the song is on various records from the 1964 Newport Folk Festival; it is also contained on American Favorite Ballads Vol. 1.

Jacob's Ladder
A Negro spiritual based on Genesis 28:11-19, best known as a Sunday School tune. It refers to the prophetic dream given to Jacob at Beth-El, while he is fleeing his brother, Esau, whom Jacob has cheated out of his inheritance. In the dream, angels are ascending and descending a ladder to heaven. While they do this, God promises Jacob that his seed "shall be as the dust of the earth" and spread throughout the world.

Slaves related to the dream powerfully, because it ended with a covenant that promised liberation: "I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of." (This is consistent with the Midrash interpretation of the steps of the ladder as the exiles that the Jews would suffer.)

"Jacob's Ladder" is another song that is much more commonly sung than recorded. Arlo Guthrie, Jane Siberry and Greg Brown made contemporary versions. There are vintage roots recordings by, among others, Hylo Brown, E.C. Ball, and Paul Robeson and gospel renditions by the Staple Singers, Bernice Johnson Reagon, Doris Troy and the Clara Ward Singers. Pete Seeger's version can be found on Singalong: Live at the Sanders Theater, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1980.


Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Movie buzz for Hot Fuzz

The director and stars of my favourite zombie movie Shaun Of The Dead are about to release a new film called Hot Fuzz. Like Shaun of the Dead, it looks to spoof a tired genre...this time the cop movie genre.

Hopefully it really spoofs the worst cop movie cliche there is... where two cops, completely different are forced to work together. The buddy-cop movie. You know, one's an effiminant ballerina, the other is a coked-up rapper. Actually, that gives me an idea for a script...I will be right back. Until that is my top 5 list.

Top 5 buddy-cop movies
1. Bad Boys
2. 48 Hours
3. Lethal Weapon
4. Running Scared
5. Dragnet (Yes, the one with Tom Hanks and Dan Ackroyd...and I don't care who knows it, this makes me laugh)

Here are two trailers for Hot Fuzz. I am hooked already.

The look and humour does remind me of Shaun Of The Dead. Just sorry it has taken so long to be released. If you haven't seen Shaun Of The Dead, I have written about it before. As well, here is the trailer.

Some of my favourite scenes, once our hero (Shaun) has realized zombies are taking over their town, he tries to convince his best friend Ed to grab the car, rescue his mother, kill his stepfather (who has already been bitten by a zombie) and grab his girlfriend (who just dumped him the night before because all he wants to do is drink at the local pub) and hide out at that same pub.

Another great scene has the characters realizing they are going to need to go through a group of zombies to get to the place they think will be safe. To get through them, aspiring actress Dianne tries to teach all of them how to act like zombies in order to get through the horde without being noticed.

Third time I have written about this movie...I really need to get out more.


Friday, November 03, 2006

Looking to get off the island?

With the show Lost having killed off another major character this week, a number of my work colleagues have joined me by jumping off the Lost caravan.

If you want a show to gain your interest, my I suggest Criminal Minds with Mandy Patinkan and . This is the second season in a row that Criminal Minds has been up against Lost and two weeks ago was the first time it is starting to regularly win that timeslot. Even people in the media like the LA Times critic Scott Collins are starting to recognize Criminal Minds as better television over Lost.

Admittedly, I find the show pretty gruesome as it is about a group of FBI profilers who attempt to solve ongoing serial killer cases around the United States. Patinkin is the reason to watch the show. He has been a terrific actor both on stage and on screen for years. He is probably best known for his role as Inigo Montoya in the Princess Bride. Why his line, "My name is Inigo Montoya! You killed my father prepare to die!" is so famous is beyond me. However, that is a pretty good swordfight scene.

Than he starred in Chicago Hope. A tv show I wanted to watch but since it started the same year as ER, I only had room for one hospital drama, I decided on the more successful ER.

Top 5 George Clooney films
1. Ocean's Eleven
2. Out Of Sight
3. Good Night, And Good Luck
4. Three Kings
5. The Peacemaker

Just before Criminal Minds, Patinkin was in a little known cable show on Showtime called Dead Like Me. It only lasted two seasons, but was a really funny show about a group of grim reapers whose responsibility is to live on earth like humans but have a job where they must reap souls who die in horrible accidents getting them ready for the other side. Admittedly, it was pretty dark subject matter. But I liked the way they treated it like any other job.

Patinkin is also a reknowned Broadway actor and when in New York, he had a running gag on The Late Show with David Letterman. He and the late Tony Randall would run on stage in the middle of the show, Patinkin would give Letterman's bandleader Paul Shaffer some sheet music and he would then sing a song backed by Shaffer and the band. All the while, Randall would be standing in the background looking completely annoyed. Patinkin would just belt out a song (he has a great voice) and he and Randall would then run off stage. And no further mention would be made. It was both hilarious and ridiculous.

Anyway, getting back to Criminal, did I go off track...the show looks like a CSI copy but for one thing, they are helping solve ongoing cases and actually save people as opposed to all the CSI shows which are more after-the-fact type cases. Plus, they have two ongoing "schticks" that make the show stand out over all the others. First, when discussing cases, the background behind the actor often disappears and then the character finds himself in the middle of the scene in which he is talking about. As well, since the characters often have to go to small towns to help the police catch the killer, there is always a scene in which all the members of the team talk to the police. The camera whips around in a circle as each member of the team explains the type of killer they are actually looking for. These scenes are among the best directed things on television right now.

The only problem with the show is the rest of the team. Just filled with cliches. The tough black guy, the rookie genius, the hot blonde, the hot brunette, the quirky computer tech and the straight laced guy. Though these characters are well written so, once you watch the show, you do get to like all the members of the team. It is just a matter of getting people TO watch this show. But as Lost continues to go downhill...this is clearly becoming less and less of a problem.


Thursday, November 02, 2006

Diamond in the rough

We all have a secret. You know, a musical act that is kind of cheesy, you know they are cheesy, yet you still like their music. I know people who have an affinity for bands like April Wine, Celine Dion and the Headpins. For me, my secret shame is Neil Diamond.

Top 5 Neil Diamond Songs
1. Cracklin' Rosie
2. Sweet Caroline
3. Brother Love's Travelling Salvation Show
4. Forever In Blue Jeans
5. Dry Your Eyes (the version from The Band's The Last Waltz)

To make things worse, I actually own three of his CDs, the soundtrack to his 1980 film The Jazz Singer, one of his greatest hits albums and his latest, the Rick Rubin produced 12 Songs.

12 Songs is brilliant on many levels. It is the first album that Diamond played guitar on since the early 70s, it was the first one where he wrote all the songs and it was the first one that didn't just seem like a bunch of crap thrown together in order for him to tour.

If you were a fan of the Rick Rubin-produced Johnny Cash albums, I highly recommend this. It doesn't have the cheese factor that a lot of his albums have since the mid-80s (i still can not recognize the song inspired by the movie ET: The Extra Terrestrial called "Heartlight".

The good news is that 12 Songs is about to be re-released as a double disc with the second disc including the bonus tracks "Men Are So Easy" and the version of "Delirious Love" with former Beach Boy Brian Wilson. There will also be unreleased demos and alternate takes of songs from the original album.

I think the problem with Neil Diamond is that he gave up being an actual artist (he was originally a songwriter for the Brill Building along with Carole King) to be a concert star. Plus, the aforementioned film he starred in The Jazz Singer was not great. Leonard Maltin, a movie critic I have zero respect for, called the film a turkey. I don't think it was quite that bad but I still can't get the image of an aging Laurence Olivier dancing in the crowd along with everyone else to Neil Diamond singing "America".

The good thing about Neil Diamond is that he still continues to be a pop icon. His song Sweet Caroline continues to be played during sporting events (as shown in the American film Fever Pitch), Urge Overkill covered his song "Girl, You'll Be A Woman Soon" for the film Pulp Fiction, in the film Saving Silverman-the main characters perform in a Neil Diamond cover band and Diamond himself had a cameo in that film.

There is even a scene in the film What About Bob? where Bob Wiley (played by Bill Murray) talking about his divorce says, "There are two types of people in this world: Those who like Neil Diamond, and those who don't. My ex-wife loves him."

Most notably, Will Farrell did terrific Neil Diamond impressions on Saturday Night Live. Here is a Gap commercial Farrell did as Neil Diamond.

PS. I said I would never talk about a certainTV show again. So I won't. However, here is an on-line petition to help save it.

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Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Stewart/Colbert in 2008

With mid-term elections happening in the United States right now, the political buzz in that country is that Jon Stewart from the satirical news show The Daily Show and fake blowhard Stephen Colbert of the Colbert Report should run for president in 2008.

Not sure if this wave (if I can call it that) is from the recent Barry Levinson directed film called Man Of The Year starring Robin Williams. Or the fact that the american people just do not have any solid candidates to vote for in 2008. I am sure it is more the latter than the former as Man Of The Year bombed at the box office. It was an interesting conceit, "what if an anchor like Jon Stewart ran for president." Plus, it co-starred Daily Show commentator Lewis Black. But based on the just wasn't that funny.

Top 5 Barry Levinson films
1. Diner
2. The Natural
3. Wag The Dog
4. Sleepers
5. Bugsy

Anyway, there is even a website selling "Stewart/Colbert in 2008" shirts and buttons. Rest assured both Stewart and Colbert have denied any interest in running. About this groundswell of support, Jon Stewart commented in an MSNBC article, as "a real sign of how sad people are with the state of affairs in the country."

Rolling Stone magazine has an interview with both Stewart and Colbert in this month's issue that is actually quite funny and enlightening about who these two men really are.

I would love to also add footage from YouTube of Stewart and Colbert to punch up this blog entry. However, Viacom, the company that owns Comedy Central home to both Stewart and Colbert's shows have asked YouTube to remove all Daily Show and Colbert Report clips from their website as "part of ongoing discussions on how the two companies can work together."

However, YouTube does have footage of Stewart on David Letterman's show 12 years ago. It is pretty funny as he riffs on among other things Jerry Seinfeld.