Sunday, August 24, 2014


Exciting stuff - exciting to me, anyway - is soon to come to this here blog there, but first, a quick appetizer: a funny, clever tribute to the inimitable Don Pardo, who split on an all-expenses paid trip to the great vocal booth in the sky last week at age 96.  (If you've read my typically-overlong Facebook post on the subject, feel free to skip it: the whole thing after this paranthetical aside has been cut-and-pasted from there, with a few minor changes throughout.)

Thoughts, relevant and otherwise: 

1) I am at least 65% convinced that Kristofferson didn't realize he was on TV.

2) One of the reasons I still revere the first few years of this program - not just that it made room for smart sketches like this, but it respected the individual voices of its writers to the point that the attentive viewer could tell who wrote what. If this wasn't Tom Schiller's doing, I'll eat Werner Herzog's other shoe. 

3) How long do you think my clever video subterfuge will stave off the inevitable cease and desist order?  (edit - not very long at all, apparently.  Fine, NBC/Universal, I'll rake in unconscionable amounts of money through alternate means.  But I don't have a rake!  And rakes cost money!  It's like that O. Henry story, Title of Story Blocked Due To Copyright Claim By Nestle.)

4) Don Pardo, unless there's a crew member or two I missed, was the person who pulled an SNL paycheck longer than anyone - 39 seasons, and his baritone Ur-Game-Show bellow graced the 8H loudspeakers for all of them but one (the seventh, 1981-82, supposedly at the insistence of Michael O'Donoghue, who reportedly wanted to fire him on-air during the season premiere. I plan on talking A LOT about that season, or at least the first seven shows, on my blog in the near future. So, y'know, that). Such a seemingly small part of the show's overall feel, yet crucial; there was always comfort knowing he'd be there, a reliable consistency that played well against the ever-shifting theme music (and if his hire was originally for ironic kitsch value, that morphed into true affection by the last sketch of the first season [which this is] - they honored him almost every week for many years with the very last joke of the night.) It's sure gonna be a different beast when it comes back, I'm sure. I feel a little like I felt when the Stones' semi-secret weapon Ian Stewart passed on some years back - some small bit of savor is gone now, never to return. And it just might not be worth the strain of its continuing. Not that NBC will take this show off the air, ever, but SNL sans Pardo feels wrong, somehow. We shall see. Or hear, whatever. One of the great voices - quite literally - in broadcast history is no longer with us, and I present this as tribute.


(All rights belong to NBC/Universal and Broadway Video)

Friday, October 25, 2013


My excruciatingly slow recaps and analyses of Monty Python's Flying Circus now continue where I left off, at approximately the one-third-of-the-way mark of the first(-recorded) episode, "Sex and Violence."  We had just gotten a pretty decent example of the latter, with a bunch of small, harmless rodents being musically bashed by large wooden mallets; it only seems right to follow that with an exploration of the subject to the left of the titular ampersand...

(Note: to increase confusion, I am retaining the time-code reference points referring to the YouTube embed of the full episode included in the last post; however, for the purposes of more immediate reference, I am embedding the second ten-minute chunk of the show also available on YouTube in this post.  The time codes in parentheses refer to the shorter videos.  Got that?  Good.  Now, please explain it to me...)

10:30 (0:00) - By Python standards, "Marriage Guidance Counsellor" is a rather conventional piece of sketch comedy: a pretty basic premise (couple goes to counsellor out of concern for wife's possible infidelity; counsellor cuckolds husband right in front of him), delivered straightforwardly (at least to a point).  With very few changes, the main body of the sketch could have come straight from an old vaudeville show, right down to the trope of a woman getting undressed behind a screen and tossing her clothes over the top of it.  (Why a marriage counsellor would have such a screen in his office is never explained; perhaps it's a subtle indication that this isn't the first time he's pulled such shenanigans.  Maybe this counsellor's always "on the job" in more ways than one.)  Nonetheless, it's still a funny sketch, and noteworthy for the first appearances of two important, erm, figures in the Python universe.

Saturday, October 19, 2013


From: Jeroboam Glasier, Head of Publicity Department
To: Thinkmoto
Re: The Campaign

I've got to hand it to you guys - I thought the telekinesis-in-the-coffee-shop gag you came up with for Carrie was clever, but you've really outdone yourselves this time.  The movie's not coming out for months, and already the work you've done for Dumb and Dumber To has to qualify as the most inventive and audacious in the history of viral marketing.  The way you've used social media, what seems like every comment thread on the Internet, and that fake cable "news" channel you started is nothing short of brilliant.  I can't begin to imagine how much planning, coordination, and sleight-of-hand it's taken to make it look like a mass outbreak of sheer, shameless stupidity has overtaken the country, but we couldn't be more impressed with the results.

My only concern is that you might be going a little too broad - the "ranting stenographer" gag the other day was a hoot, but too many more bits like the guy who wants to take a class-action lawsuit against homosexuality and you'll sacrifice the believability at the heart of all good pranks.  Save the really silly stuff for opening weekend.  But, really, amazing work - IFC's interested in signing that troupe you've been working with (The Tea Party, right?) to a development deal, though they might want to wait until that whole "SNL Diversity" issue dies down first; a troupe that big could use a LITTLE ethnicity, at least.  And as for that smaller troupe you hired, they recommended you sign them up for some classes at the UCB, or get an Odenkirk or an Apatow to help them whip their material into shape; you can't fault their commitment, but a little nuance will keep their schtick from seeming too one-note.  "The Westboro Baptist Church" is a great name, though - make sure they keep that.

Oh, and one more thing.   You might think I'm jumping the gun, but if this one hits, Peter & Bobby are talking about making the threequel all-female.  Amy & Tina don't seem interested and they're already dead set on Melissa McCarthy/Rebel Wilson for Shallow Hal II (I know, I know, but let's not break it to the boys until after we open - it's like they say about waking up a sleepwalker).  No promises, now, but they've been pretty impressed with that ditzy-cougar duo of yours - Bachmann/Palin Overdrive or whatever they're calling themselves this week.  Could be perfect; they're reasonably easy on the eyes, obviously have no fear of looking ridiculous, and if they can spew out that nonsense patter for hours at a time like you say, it'll practically write itself.  But let's keep that on the q.t. for the time being - we wouldn't want it to go to their heads and wear out their welcome on Day One like that Cruz kid you hired.  (The Seuss estate was not happy, by the way, but we'll talk about that when you're in town.  Bet you've never seen a rhyming cease-and-desist letter before.)

But, really, guys, outstanding work so far, and I've no doubt there's more to come.  I'll be honest; some of the studio guys had grave doubts about putting so much time and so many resources into this campaign, and even I had my doubts that you could sustain such idiocy, such ludicrous, counter-intuitive notions for so long without the American public catching on to the gag or even questioning how anyone could be so dumb and not choke to death on their own drool.  But you did it.  And let me tell you, that's going to help us out a lot when we start developing next year's pictures.


P.S. - Jeff D. just called from the set - wants to know when he can finally 'fess up to our gag and give the Emmy to its "rightful owner."  Having a real hard time keeping a straight face.

Saturday, September 28, 2013


1. American Cavalry Charging with Drawn Swords (1898) 
2. Balancing in the Basket (1898) 
3. Battery B Arriving at Camp (1898) 
3a. Battery B Pitching Camp (1898) 
3b. Battery Charge (1898) 
4. Blanket-Tossing a New Recruit (1898) 
5. Bowery Waiter and the Old Time Ball Player, The (1898) 
6. Cattle Leaving the Corral (1898) 
7. Cholly's First Moustache (1898) 
8. Col. Torrey's Rough Riders and Army Mules (1898) 
9. Come Along Do! (1898) 
10. Dynamite Cruiser 'Vesuvius' (1898) 
11. Cubans Drilling, Manual of Arms (1898) 
12. Doing Her Big Brother's Tricks on the Bar (1898) 
13. Dude's Experience with a Girl on a Tandem, The (1898) 
14. Farces de Jocko, Les (1898) 
15. Folding Beds Are Tricky (1898) 
16. Girls Imitating Firemen (1898) 
17. Mysterious Midgets, The (1898) 
18. Naval Review Spithead (1898) 
19. New York Mounted on Parade (1898) 
20. Off for the Rabbit Chase (1898) 
21. Nursemaid's Surprise, The (1898) 
22. Our New General Servant (1898) 
23. Overful Seat, An (1898) 
24. Overloaded Donkey, An (1898) 
25. Pea-Hulling Machine (1898) 
26. Philadelphia City Troop and a Company of Roosevelt's Rough Riders (1898) 
27. Policeman, the Cook and the Copper, The (1898) 
28. Policemen Play No Favorites (1898) 
29. Poona Races 1898 (1898) 
30. Pope Leo XIII Passing Through Upper Loggia, No. 1 (1898) 
31. Precarious Position, A (1898) 
32. Procession of Mounted Indians and Cowboys (1898) 
33. Relieving the Guard at St. James Palace (1898) 
34. Runaway Knock and the Suffering Milkman, The (1898) 
35. Rushing the Growler (1898) 
36. Shooting the Chutes at Home (1898) 
37. Snowballing the Coasters (1898) 
38. Spanking the Naughty Girl (1898) 
39. Stealing a Ham (1898) 
40. Swift Chappie, A (1898) 
41. They Will Never Do It Again (1898) 
42. They're Not So Warm (1898) 
43. Three Ways of Climbing Over a Chair (1898) 
44. Timid Girls and the Terrible Cow, The (1898) 
45. Tramp Caught a Tartar, The (1898) 
46. Trying to Jump Her Board Bill (1898) 
47. Tug in a Heavy Sea, A (1898) 
48. Two Naughty Boys Teasing the Cobbler (1898) 
48a. Two Naughty Boys Sprinkling the Spoons (1898) 
48b. Two Naughty Boys Upsetting the Spoons (1898) 
49. Uncle Rube's Visit to the Man-o' War (1898) 
50. Unexpected Advent of the School Teacher (1898) 
51. Victorious Squadron Firing Salute (1898) 
52. View of Cramp's Shipyard (1898) 
53. What Demoralized the Barber Shop (1898) 
54. What Our Boys Did at Manila (1898) 
55. When the Clock Strikes Two in the Tenderloin (1898) 
56. When the Organ Played in Front of the Hotel (1898) 
57. Who's Got the Red Ear? (1898) 
58. Winding the Maypole (1898) 
59. Gladys Must Be in Bed Before Ten (1898) 
60. Giving the General a Taste of It (1898) 
61. He Wanted Too Much for His Pies (1898) 
62. Heaving the Log (1898) 
63. How a Bottle of Cocktails Was Smuggled Into Camp (1898) 
64. How Uncle Reuben Missed the Fishing Party (1898) 
65. How She Gets Along Without a Maid (1898) 
66. Idle Hours of the English Coast Guards (1898) 
67. Hungarian Women Plucking Geese (1898) 
68. Joe, the Educated Orangoutang, Undressing (1898) 
69. Jovial Monks in the Refectory, The (1898) 
70. Jumping the Rope After Bed Time (1898)

Thursday, January 10, 2013


So says the man ("Hexen Definitive/Strife Knot," Perverted by Language, 1983), and I can hardly argue with him.  Indeed, I am lacking entirely for words of my own today, but the blog must go on, so allow me to indulge via YouTube embeds of one of the signal figures of my sorry existence, Mark Edward Smith and the mighty Fall...

1) Could this be the greatest music video of all time?  Were it not for Billy Squier's "Rock Me Tonite," I daresay there'd be no contest...

Wednesday, January 09, 2013


(an exclusive excerpt from my soon-to-be-remaindered rock memoir)

May 16, 1990, Turmeric Beach: Well, it happened at last.  I passed the audition to be the new lead singer of Nobody In Particular.  Quite a change from delivering Grade-Q meat to junior-high-school cafeterias, but I believe I'm up to the challenge.  It's really funny how the whole thing happened, since I've been a fan of NIP ever since they played the Knights of Akron hall last Thursday.  The power, the charisma, the exemplary posture... their music transported me to a place I haven't been to since I drank from that beaker in tenth-grade chem lab on a dare.  Like then, it was a deeply spiritual and transcendent experience and I couldn't stop throwing up for three days afterwards.  I hung around after they finished their "set" (music lingo), and we hit it off immediately.  I'll never forget the way the bass player affectionately elbowed me in the face when I told him how his solo on "Chicken Lips" reminded me of that really cool Kajagoogoo song.  I pledged right there and then to make this band my life, to follow them everywhere they go, to be in the vanguard of a new breed of fans, "Nobody-In-Particular-heads" as I like to call us.  Well, me anyway.  But soon fate intervened, and suddenly my wildest dream came true.  Okay, perhaps not my wildest dream, which involves Pia Zadora, the Lincoln Tunnel and a three-legged unicorn with an egg beater for a horn, but close enough in its way.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013


Today marks the 78th anniversary of the birth of one of our greatest cultural referents, pop-cultural icons, and the man who single-handedly rescued the sequin industry, Elvis Aaron Presley.  And, I'm sure you would agree, the only way to properly honor the memory of this titan of American music would be to let one of the lesser members of his entourage run his mouth off for a few minutes.  This long-suppressed recording from the August 16, 2006 Wow & Flutter program features Red Bloostone, a man with intimate knowledge of the King of Rock 'n' Roll as far as anybody can prove in a court of law, interviewed by Robert Ham (no relation) (to Elvis), and includes some heretofore unheard factoids as well as several of the greatest moments in recorded Presliana.  Please, enjoy:

(Gosh, I hope no one notices I just lifted a post from a year ago and presented it as new.  Huh - what does it mean when the red light on the voice-to-text software is on?)