Thursday, June 18, 2009

Sad Songs are the Keys that Get Our Tears Out of Eye Jail

Tomorrow evening, I will be witnessing the Bob Odenkirk and David Cross reunion show, and my inner nerd-o-meter will be peaking at alarming heights.

For no reason other than my own nostalgia, these are my five favorite Mr. Show sketches:

The highlight of the first season, and the first Mr. Show sketch I remember seeing. Rarely has repeated swearing been used better on television.

McHutchence vs Greeley
I still think of this whenever I see any political ads. Every election cycle, we hear artificial buzz about various SNL political bits, but nothing they've never come close to nailing the entire ridiculous nature of these productions. Every posed shot and cheesy effect is pitch perfect.

Teardrop Awards Show
I find Brian Wilson's output to be vastly overrated. Of course Pet Sounds was great, but he wrote a lot of songs that are pure garbage. (Listen to "Busy Doin' Nothing" and marvel at the supposed genius of a man giving directions to his house, then dialing a telephone!) So the concept of a song about mouth sores seems right up his alley. The overly joyous Clapton-clone is tremendous, as is just about every line the presenters deliver.

Pre-taped Call in Show
Bob seemed to play the angrier characters most of the time, but David is great, simmering in his rage for 3 minutes, and then revealing the finest-timed ending to any of the sketches (with bonus points to the chronology of David's hair growth).

The Audition
Best written sketch in the show's run. David once revealed that an unknown Charlie Kaufman applied to write for Mr. Show but didn't get the job. This seems like the kind of thing Kaufman would have written.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

The Heart of Rock and Roll

Upon first seeing the trailer for Anvil! The Story of Anvil, I knew it was a must-see film.

The immediate thought is that Anvil seemed to be a perfect hybrid of American Movie and This is Spinal Tap. Indeed, Spinal Tap references are peppered throughout the film. The band Anvil visits Stonehenge at one point. Lead singer "Lips" slyly shouts "Hello Cleveland!" while they wind their way to the stage. Hell, the drummer of Anvil is named Robb Reiner! And of course, an amp is turned to 11. The similarities can't be ignored, but perception is often turned 180 degrees because these guys are real. It's justifiably hilarious when Spinal Tap are upstaged by a puppet show or denied hotel rooms, but watching Anvil left on a European train platform, gear spread out behind them, with no way to get to their next tour stop, is something completely different.

The direction of this film is a bit clunky. We're told Anvil was on the verge of stardom in 1984, but never really given a reason why they didn't break though as Slayer or Anthrax did (Bad management? Bad record label? It's a mystery.) Some seemingly key plot points are glossed over way too quickly, or not at all. But despite the storytelling shortcomings, the film works because every moment Lips and Reiner are on screen, they're beyond compelling. They've been best friends since they were teenagers, and now in their 50's, they've fully accepted their day jobs delivering meals and working construction, but have never stopped believing (Lips, especially) that the big is still there for the taking.

We're conditioned to view the act of relentlessly chasing one's dream as something to be proud of, but that's not always the case. The first half of the film, Lips seems almost ridiculously naive in accepting a European tour offer from a "promoter" who he seemingly only knows through a few e-mails. It's not a surprise that the tour is less than successful, but you find yourself actually rooting for Lips when he shows a backbone for the first time in the film and threatens to beat down a bar manager for withholding payment. At the end of the disastrous tour, the blinding optimism still exists, with Lips qualifying that "things went dramatically wrong, but at least there was a tour for things to go wrong on."

From there, the ups and downs continue as Anvil goes back into the studio with the producer who crafted their best early albums. Excruciating attempts at telemarketing for income, family fund raising, painfully tense recording sessions, and uncomfortable record label pitches follow, all leading up to a festival invitation that surprises in several unexpected ways. The biggest surprise is the degree to which you root for a band you had no opinion of 90 minutes prior.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Bad Idea Live Blog: The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien premiere

12:37 am - Is anybody listening to me?

12:36 am
- great dirty look from Ferrell at the end. Not much to complain about the debut.

12:31 am
- why does Eddie Vedder remind me of The Dude? (in tighter pants, says girlfriend)

12:29 am - new song from new album Backspacer

12:27 am
- so far, the only prediction to come true is no masturbating bear...

12:22 am
- Ferrell's song choice is...I don't know.....TC, what is it?

12:19 am
- "U.S.A!! U.S.A!!" Take that, Lucille Ostero.

12:13 am
- "Choco-Taco. That's my CB handle. Forget Twitter."

12:11 am
- girlfriend's poll question: who has the better hair: Ferrell or O'Brien?

12:10 am
- Ferrell comes out on a throne (or the sleigh from Elf)....that's how you upstage the new host.

12:07 am
- TC saves the day via his twitter. Opening bit's song was Cheap Trick's "Surrender"

12:06 am
- As a fellow Taurus owner, I can assure you that it does get all the ladies. Especially with moderate hail damage (the Taurus, not the ladies). Plus, Billy Ocean?! This episode has the best soundtrack ever!

12:02 am
- Hollowoo! (girlfriend called the "too big to get out" joke)

11:54 pm
- studio audience chanting "Circle Circle Circle"!! -- much rowdier than any Leno audience, I'm sure.

11:52 pm
- Octo-mom joke gets 'em.

11:50 pm
- Conan as a Universal Tour Guide! --- First duck-out-of-water bit

11:47 pm
- "Bring it on, Choco-Taco!" -- looks like Andy is right back to being the sidekick.

11:46 pm
- girlfriend says Conan's pronunciation of Sotomayor sounds Scottish

11:44 pm
- Conando!

11:42 pm
- the anticipation of the string dance caused girlfriend to hurt her knee

11:41 pm
- that audience is HUGE. And Andy's hair is ridiculous (I say he looks like Blagojevich....girlfriend says he looks sexy....girlfriend likes dirtball governors).

11:40 pm
- I'm glad Andy's back, but I already miss Joel.

11:39 pm
- That's how you make an entrance....or an attempt at an entrance.

11:37 pm
- Victorian Doll Museum. Ha!

11:35 pm
- opening reminiscent of his Emmy opening (sweet song!....what is it?)

11:30 pm
- Taco Bell commercials are stupid.

11:28 pm
- girlfriend says "almost theeeeeere"

11:19 pm - Skytrak weather forecast says "Watch out, Kokomo!"

11:15 pm
- watching WTHR's local news and their preview of Conan
  • "It has long been my dream to perform at the Indiana Historical 9am."

11:08 pm - the girlfriend's predictions for tonight's show include:
  • the string dance (classic version)
  • no James Taylor (sadly)

11:03 pm - My predictions for tonight's show include:
  • A half-naked Will Ferrell
  • A pre-taped skit with Andy
  • "In the Year 2000"
  • No Masturbating Bear...yet!

10:59 pm
- 30 minutes until showtime. I've been spending most of my evening youtubing "Conan and Andy," resulting in one of my favorite clips, Rolonda!