Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Join My Facebook Group

My Facebook group is called The Dead Comedians' Society. I am not the first person to have an online group or a blog with this sobriquet and my Facebook group is not associated with the sketch comedy ensemble of the same name.

The group's purpose: post as many clips as humanly possible by long-gone talented folks who made us laugh on the big and small screen.










I am certain that the sheer breadth of dead comedians represented in my group blows all other attempts out of the very water that a mustached star of an L-KO comedy fell into in 1916.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Network Awesome Pays Tribute To The Dana Carvey Show

This week, Jason Forrest's Network Awesome has thrown the spotlight on the short-lived but memorable sketch comedy series The Dana Carvey Show, which aired on ABC during the spring of 1996. While not quite as famous among comedy buffs as The Richard Pryor Show, both series got yanked quickly after continual run-ins with Standards and Practices over controversial material.

Since the series disappeared after seven of the planned ten episodes aired, many comedy fans, myself included, did not see it until clips were posted on YouTube more than a decade later.





After seeing how funny the YouTube clips were, one wonders why HBO or Comedy Central didn't pick the show up after ABC cancelled it.



The show's humor was very over-the-top, at times with a sheer silliness recalling Spike Milligan. Its cast featured a bunch of Second City troupe veterans, including Steve Carell and Stephen Colbert, a few years before their rise to fame on The Daily Show, The Colbert Report and in movies.



As the writers included Robert Smigel and Louis CK, this program was not afraid to go way out for a laugh.



All eight episodes are up on YouTube. The season finale was arguably the funniest episode in the series.



Of course, the Carvey show couldn't have Robert Smigel on the writing staff without including episodes of TV Funhouse: the thrilling adventures of Ace & Gary, The Ambiguously Gay Duo (starting at 1:33).




Monday, August 29, 2011

These Guys Were Born On The Same Day?

Although 19th century author-lecturer Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. and 2008 GOP presidential candidate John McCain were both born on the 29th of August, the contemporaneous fun fact that floors me much more is the duo from the world of music who share this birthday: Charlie Parker (1920-1955) and Michael Jackson (1958-2009).

Charlie Parker, the saxophonist, songwriter and bandleader (A.K.A. "Bird", Yardbird", etc.) passed away 55 years ago, after turning the post-WW2 jazz world on its collective ear. Here's one of the few existing clips of Charlie, playing soulfully following a strong solo by legendary swing icon Coleman Hawkins.





The links between Charlie Parker and Michael Jackson are many and the degrees of separation surprisingly few. Miles Davis, who played alongside Bird in the late 1940's Charlie Parker Quintet, worked extensively with Quincy Jones and Michael Jackson.

Parker Miles and Michael all crossed paths with Quincy Jones, a giant of 20th century pop and jazz who began his career as a brass player and arranger. At one point Quincy played in the same orchestra with the trumpet virtuoso who was the closest thing to a "Bird" of the brass, Clifford Brown (1931-1956), as well as in the ensemble of formidable bop era composer-arranger-pianist Tadd Dameron. Quincy's production genius complemented Jackson's vision as Sir George Martin's gave The Beatles an expanded tonal palette to get creative with.



In another way, the King Of Bop and the King Of Pop - one famous today primarily among musicians, historians and jazz fans, the other plagued by mega-celebrity on an insane scale - share a certain polarizing "you love 'em or you hate 'em" place in 20th century culture. Their music either transports to the stratosphere or leaves a person cold.

This blog tips the Jimmie Hatlo hat to Mr. Parker and Mr. Jackson, who, irregardless of their flaws and difficulties as human beings, brought joy to millions around the world through their music - and still do. One hopes that in the next world they found some measure of peace that clearly eluded them in this one.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Today's Blah-Blah-Blah: The World's Worst Job

"There's a near-total disconnect between our real, large, urgent problems and the who’s-up-who’s-down cage match that is the daily bread of our pundit class." Jesse Kornbluth, Head Butler

That is the opening of a New York Times piece in which various scholarly correspondents tell what they would do if they had the utter, unrelenting and grinding misfortune to be President Of The United States (a.k.a. POTUS).

Anything my substantially less scholarly voice could add to this discussion besides harsh, Draconian limits on the amounts of campaign contributions? Yeah - any POTUS would do the country a world of good by not only serving just a single term, but telling NO ONE, not even their spouses or mistresses, until convention time; that's right, NOBODY, not even a breath of it to a single member of the corrupt political parties or ratings-driven mass media.

Anything else? Overturning the Supreme Court's hideous Citizens United decision and then banning political advertising would be a start; the exorbitant cost of television attack ads (brought to you by lobbyist and Billionaire Boys Club slime), is only surpassed by their ability to create a citizenry even more docile, unquestioning, uninformed and - if such a thing can be imagined - downright stupid than they already are.

And, of course, I am compelled to close this edition of Blah-Blah-Blah with a shiny two cents from the world of classic cartoons. . .


Saturday, August 20, 2011

Burt Bacharach Day


When I started writing this blog in 2006, in a completely arbitrary decision, I decided the 20th of every month would feature a clip of Burt Bacharach music, because I like his melodies, chord changes, arrangements and unique ability to incorporate elements of bossa nova and jazz harmonies into pure pop.

My favorite Burt Bacharach composition is "Nikki". Something about that song gets me right there in the broken heart every time.



Many more Bacharach songs, especially those on the Burt n' Elvis album Painted From Memory, resonate deeply with me.


While I periodically miss a Burt Bacharach Day just by getting stuck for a clip I like, there's always Dionne Warwick in German (thank you, Bear Family Records and The Norman Bates Memorial Soundtrack Show on KFJC for alerting me to this).



Today's posting also reminds me to mention a concert tonight in Woodstock, New York by the much loved but short-lived pop group, The Left Banke (note: the 2011 version, led by Tom Finn and George Cameron, is based on the 1967-1969 ensemble that recorded The Left Banke Too, not the earlier Michael Brown incarnation of the band). The Left Banke's 1966 hit Walk Away Renee is a cornerstone of Baroque Pop. The genre's string arrangements and vocal harmonies strike me as artistic parallels both to The Beatles and Burt Bacharach.

Burt would very likely have, a la Brian Wilson and Sir George Martin, expanded the sonic palette yet further, incorporating nylon string guitars, Brazilian percussion and whatever other creative instrumental combinations his imagination could find.

Friday, August 19, 2011

This Blog Likes Jon Stewart And The Daily Show

I like satire. Like, for example, the late and incomparable George Carlin.



Or the late, great Bill Hicks.





My big problem is that what often stands for satire these days is way too nice. Give me some bilious stuff that really goes after the bastards. The nastier and funnier, the better!

Alas, we don't have anything remotely like Mark Twain these days - and if we did, the writing would be suppressed!

As a consolation prize, here are recent segments from a program that still runs on cable TV that covers mass media and current events in a humorous way. Yes, indeedy, the last faint gasp of this sort of thing available on what Ernie Kovacs altar ego Percy Dovetonsils called "the orthicon tube", Jon Stewart and The Daily Show.


The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
World of Class Warfare - Warren Buffett vs. Wealthy Conservatives
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogThe Daily Show on Facebook

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
World of Class Warfare - The Poor's Free Ride Is Over
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogThe Daily Show on Facebook


Monday, August 15, 2011

This Sputtering Blog, Part 2

Wrote on February 13 that this blog was running out of steam - and, indeed, it was. Then the For The Love Of Film (Noir) Blogathon came along and inspired a few decent postings, followed by occasional bursts of activity since: just enough to keep the blog alive and get it to the 500 posting milestone.

Looks like I have run out of things to say for the moment. Shall continue posting, even if my writing mojo has vanished to the extent that I am seeing pictures of it on the back of milk cartons.

When utterly devoid of creative writing impetus, I will direct readers to other blogs. The subject of my last posting, Gene Deitch, writes Roll The Credits, a scholarly blog previewing excerpts from his upcoming book about his life in animation. On June 28, I championed cookbook author Tinky "Dakota" Weisblat's invaluable blog chronicling caring for a parent with Alzheimer's Disease and also called attention to Only Solitaire - George Starostin's Music Reviews recently.

Today's Psychotronic Paul-picked blog, direct from Bristol in the United Kingdom, is a frequently hilarious one titled The World's Worst Records, frequently including such lines as "someone pass me a bucket - I'm going to be sick." The blog lives up to its subtitle of "An Arcade Of Audio Atrocities" and, like my writings and celluloid mixmaster presentations, can offer hours of questionable amusement.