Back on TRACK

Previously on “I’m trying to launch a new Radio Station, but somebody took my name”, I was trying to launch a new radio station when somebody took my name. A common occurrence whenever anybody tries to start something brand new—especially when one has a limited time frame to do so. Nevertheless, it took a lot of Google searching and an equal lot of research to not only find a name that has not yet been taken, but also one that is by all accounts & purposes wholly original enough so that people can flock to it at a moment’s notice. The result? Instead of calling the new channel “TV Tunes”, it is now called (*DRUMROLL PLEASE*)…………

TV TRACKS

Starting September 16th, TV Tracks will be on the (online) air 24 hours a day playing nothing but TV’s Greatest Hits; Everything from the theme songs themselves, to original music written for television, to even album length & cover versions of the Themes. This is REALLY happening, folks. And just to show that I’m serious about all of this, we have (Un)officially launched the TV Tracks website this morning. SPOILER ALERT: If you go there now, you’re pretty much going to see a Bare-Bones operation, so try not to judge until later in September. What I CAN tell you, is that while we are getting this site up & running, we will soon begin some “Test” broadcasts just to make sure everything works the way it does; This will be followed by a week or so of “Pre-Launch” music, and then (if all continues to go as planned), we Launch 9/16 at 12PM EST. There will be some other things happening in conjunction with our formal launching, but we’ll cross those bridges once the time comes.

 

In the meantime, you can get to TV Tracks via the tab on the top of this page, or you could just Click & Bookmark THIS link. Poke around, do a little channel surfing, and above all else, Give me some feedback—last thing I want to do is deliver an inferior product; but at the same time, I’m still a bit of a novice when it comes to web development. All I ask is that you Bear with me, and hopefully by 9/16, you will hear something you will Never forget.

 

 

“Don’t Touch That Dial”, and STAY TUNED!

PROGRAM NOTE (or “I REALLY suck at Math”)

I’ll be brief, we need to change a thing or two around with our “Starmaker” thing. As I mentioned in Yesterday’s Episode review, I had said that sometime in August, I would be doing a week-long salute to “Weekend Update” in conjunction with the upcoming run of WU Programs that will be airing beginning August 10th. On/Around that time, we should’ve also been at the half-way point on our “Starmaker” work as we were going to present another set of Commercial parodies at the halfway point; one Live sketch, one recorded, one set of each a day per 5-year period. When you add everything up, that would’ve meant that between that and “Update Week” that would mean a total of 23 sketches to write about over the course of an 8 day period…something that even I don’t have the stamina for on top of not just my regular job, but also preparing to launch my new TV Theme Song Radio station. So before my Brains turn into overcooked Spaghetti, something has to give.

 

Ergo, a revised game plan–The way things look right now, we begin talking about the “Host” Tapes on Wednesday, 7/26/17; There’s 12 tapes, 2 shows per tape, 24 sketches to cover in as many days as there are tapes. Once we’re done with that, we are then going to Jettison our planned “Commercial Break”, take that week off from Starmaker, and then focus on “Update Week” during the Week of August 21st thru 26th–yes, the Prime Time “Update” shows will be halfway finished by then, but at least they will still be done. Afterwards on the 27th, we will pick up where we left off on Starmaker with the “Classic Years” and “Special Edition” tapes. As a Result, the end-date for the whole thing should now be moved to the day before the Season Premiere on September 29th.

 

So, to recap:

*Starmaker Through August 19th.
*”Update Week” Aug 20th-26th
*Starmaker Resumes Aug 27th-Sept 29th.

 

Everybody Got That? OK…See ‘ya in the Morning.

The Maverick

Welcome to this Special Edition of SNL “Retro Reviews”. For this edition, I will TRY to keep the self-deprecation to a minimum, but hopefully you’ll understand if I don’t.

 

With that being said, when It comes to Politics, I try to stay pretty neutral—though there has been a time or two when I tend to lean towards the Liberal side of things. Not that I don’t support some conservative causes, but suffice to say it’s pretty hard to support anything conservative these days considering most of the GOP’s Credibility is about as sturdy as a 2-legged table holding a Sunday dinner. Thankfully, there are still people in the world of politics you can look upon as pillars of strength and stability, and among them is the subject of today’s review; Arizona Senator John McCain. Say what you will about how he’s been on various issues in recent years; but perhaps because of his recent health scare, maybe it explains more than should be explained. Yes, there’s a lot of things he did that a lot of us out there cannot possibly agree on. But at the same time; he not only fought for his country and his life, but he has spent his career fighting for the lives of his constituents. As I said on the front page of the blog a few days go; I don’t agree 100% with everything he’s ever said, but John McCain remains one of the ONLY Republicans I have ever honestly liked…Here’s to a speedy Recovery…Fuck Cancer. (EDIT: 7/25/2017: Yes, even as he voted For [and then Later against] Healthcare Repeal, It would still be petty to judge one person based on that one thing…even if it means sending the country into health-related uncertainty. If that’s how he feels, so be it, and I won’t think any less of him because of it; besides, only comedy matters here.)

 

One of the reasons why I tolerate Sen. McCain is because all the way back in 2002, he was willing to make fun of himself a number of times during his one hosting appearance (as well as a few cameos in passing years). Something that, in turn, gave me a whole new respect for the guy—even years later when he made what has been argued as his career defining error…but that’s another story. For now though, let’s go back to a time when the only thing we had to worry about was Dubya invading a country with insufficient information. As is the case with these reviews, Old thoughts are in Block Quotes, new thoughts are in Blue Ink, all of the errors I wrote back then will be un-edited for context, And all the “Simpsons” quotes are a gimmick that I borrowed from a then-recently retired reviewer from the fabled SNL fansite I keep talking about. That said, it’s time to hop aboard the “Straight Talk Express” one more time…

 

 

McCAIN_COVER2

Senator John McCain/The White Stripes (Original Airdate: 10/19/2002)

 

 

FROM THE OFFICES OF “THE DOC”…

Sorry I wasn’t here last week, but like I said in my first review I have a job at a costume store, and we’re heading into Halloween when it’s getting nuts! 2ndly, After seeing this past show, it leads me to wonder if this is this going to be another “Crap Year” for SNL? I mean, look at the facts… 2 Key players are outta here, (Will & Ana) 2 featured players join to hopefully even it out.(Fred and–the other–Will) Not to mention some of the poorest written sketches I’ve seen in a long time.

IMHO I think that SNL is overdue for one of these years, I mean even the good lord had to rest on one day. SNL has been, and is going to be around for a long enough time that it won’t have to worry about delibrately sucking up a storm. But I digress, If I had a TV Show and lose some of my best performers, I’d probably have a bad year afterwards too… Only diff between SNL & Me, Is that I’d probably be canceled the following season, but that’s besides the point. The point being, is that SNL has been through many transitions like this before, and like a duck, they will just let it roll off their backs. There you go, end of Story……But Begining of the Review, The last time someone political hosted, Rudy “Combover Jones” Giulianni did the deed. This time around, it’s another Republican that I can Tolerate by the name of Senator John McCain. Oh yeah, “The White Stripes” Rock too!

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: Oh, Right, Giuliani was still riding high as “America’s Mayor”…BOY, will the tables turn about 6-10 years from then. As for the other stuff, that actually turned out to be largely true—the show would have a bit of a quality control problem the next few years. Not only with Ferrell having left already, but eventually Tracy, Fallon and……Kattan (*THUNDER*) flying the coup too. They wouldn’t have a half-way decent season for about 3 years because of there being a lack of focus or Alpha cast member to tune in for (Save for Fallon, Fey & Poehler). Fortunately, since this episode was early in the season, there was still a bit of a grace period to re-adjust.
McCAIN_IRAQ

The Iraqi Vote Or “…And the results are in. For ‘Sideshow Bob–100%. For Joe Quimby—1%. And we remind you there is a 1% margin of error.”

(TO HIMSELF: Hmmm, Was hoping for a Bush opening, too bad.) I’m confused, isn’t Darrell supposed to be Saddam? I dunno, it just seemed a little off. Anywho, the people of Iraq must be the most one-track minded people in the world if they feel that a guy as bad as Hussein should be re-elected…Especially if no one is running against him. This was good for a few laughs, but it felt a little dry in the sense that it was trying to spoof an overspoofed spoof. (I.e. The Confusing Ballots) But it was still OK.

Diagnosis: B+

EDITOR’S NOTE: Not really anything new to add here 15 years later; it was a pretty one-sided spoof of the infamous “Hanging Chad” election of ’00 baked with Iraqi spices; If anything, the predictability of the sketch sort of knocks it down a few points. Also, yes, Hammond did play Hussein a few episodes earlier, yet it’s Hortatio looking more like a Mario Brother on Steroids here—I guess that was sort of distracting. Either way, I think I gave this one a little too much credit when it aired; then again, the debacle of ’00 was still fresh in a lot of people’s minds, so I can see why they went this way.

 

UPDATED SCORE: C+

 

McCAIN_MONO

Monolouge or “Are you ready to laugh?!…” “Be Quiet, you Awful Man!”

“O dios mio” I knew it! “Ferricito” is becoming a recurring character. And believe me, I’m not “Just Keeding”. If they want to keep him going, they better find a new angle for him. Because knowing the history of recurring characters, only one character and one catchphrase ad nausium could kill a guy’s career (I.e. Jon Lovitz) Though it was kinda cute to hear Sen. McCain say it in his own way. That was the saving grace.

Diagnosis: B

EDITOR’S NOTE: In case you need a reminder, this was Fred Armisen’s first year on the show—and when he arrived, he had a pretty good comedy & musical background (at least according to his Wikipedia page). His “Ferricito” was one of only a few characters that were actual hits out of the gate, and was also the hallmark of the first half of his SNL career—before he became too pretentious. Seeing him team up with McCain isn’t the strangest team-up I’ve ever seen, but it still ranks as unusual enough for it to still be amusing. More importantly, this was the moment when I realized that McCain will look to be a good sport about things—especially a few sketches down the line. Also of note, this marks one of the rare times when you see a set-up for the next sketch as the show is on the air (not counting commercial bumpers). Behind the scenes stuff intrigues me sometimes, so that was a nice bonus.

 

McCAIN_HARDBALL

Hardball or OK, let’s go over the rules. You can’t leave 1st without chugging a beer. Any man scoring has to chug a beer. You have to chug a beer at the top of all odd numbered innings. Oh, and the 4th inning is the beer inning.” “Hey! we know how to play softball.”

Ah, but do they know how to play Hardball?! Great segue, huh? (SILENCE FROM THE AUDIENCE) Yeah! Anyway, This was one of the funnier “Hardball” sketches. Especially Tracy, Even I’m not sure who’s getting offended by the “Uncle Tom” comment. But the Kazam/Shaq Jokes, the fact that McCain is playing someone political who isn’t himself. (Smell the Irony) Too bad they didn’t add that “Insult Punching Bag” Paul Begala. But either way, this was funny, and I now regret saying all that stuff about SNL having a “Crap year”.

Diagnosis: A+

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: If I had to choose which of the Hardball sketches SNL did over the years as the funniest, this would certainly rank in the Top 5, but because Kattan isn’t around to play periodic punching bag Paul Begala, I was probably a little too generous the first time—Nevertheless, this one was memorable partly because of McCain’s subtle teasing of his own party by playing John “Let the Eagle Soar” Ashcroft, but ESPECIALLY because Tracy manages to come out of his shell when playing Harry Belafonte, and saying one ridiculous thing after another. As for my saying that this was a “Crap year” for the show; I was only half right, and there were still 17 episodes to go, so perhaps that was a bit unfair too.

 

REVISED SCORE: B+

 

McCAIN_LIFETIME

“Lifetime Stalker movie” Or “Homer, I don’t want you stalking people anymore, remember when you were stalking Charles Kuralt because you thought he was digging up your garden.” “Well, somebody did!”

At first, this would become a crap fest. (Whether Real or fictional, I’m no Chick Flick fan.) But this was actually funny. Not ROTFL funny, but good for a chuckle or two. I thought McCain looked ridiculous in that beard, but that’s aside from the point. Also, did anybody with a keen eye notice Chris Parnell wearing and NYPD uniform, even though this story (Supposedly) takes place in Canada? It just struck me as interesting.

Diagnosis: B-

EDITOR’S NOTE: On my Starmaker page, I mention how once in a while (depending on the host), there will be a sketch or two where said host will “Play against type”—I.e. Robert Wagner making a mess, Christopher Walken doing (*INSERT WEIRD THING HERE*), and even cue-card reader Robert DeNiro dressing up as Peter Pan. Sen. McCain playing just about every Lifetime TV Movie villain (in addition to about 70% of the parts he plays n this episode) falls into that category as well, but perhaps because of his soft-spoken nature, he plays it just a little sillier than he should’ve. Also, the joke about the story taking place in Canada is a bit of an industry secret—especially when filming “Made-for-Cable” movies that try to maintain a decent budget, it’s cheaper to film in Vancouver or Toronto. If you’ve ever seen a “Lifetime” movie in your…uh…Lifetime…they pretty much capture the nuances of those movies pretty well–although the punchline at the end (which I won’t spoil) sort of causes the whole thing to peter out. It’s still an effective parody thanks to McCain sleezing it up a little.

 

 

McCAIN_WAKEFIELD

“Wakefield” or “I’m going to be delivering the hard hitting news to the kids of Springfield…Plus I get to be on TV!”

Of course, the inevitable Road block. But what made this different, was the fact that McCain was a hippie-type person. Other than that, it’s the same stupid joke.

Diagnosis: C-

EDITOR’S NOTE: We meet again, Getty! Anyway, Somewhere on a list of Least Favorite Recurring sketches, “Wake Up Wakefield” is one of them—but pretty low on the list because even though Maya Rudolph sometimes has a voice that could re-shape diamonds, and Horatio’s guidance counselor is painful to watch sometimes, at least Dratch’s awkward “Sheldon” is good for a few laughs. To say nothing of the fact that the results of these sketches are incredibly formulaic; Maya & Dratch host the show with an awkward middle school band as their house band, Maya talks about some upcoming event that is somehow connected to her unrequited crush, Randy Goldman (Jimmy Fallon), Dratch mentions something awkward that’s unrelated, then the guest comes on, more awkwardness takes place, Horatio pops in while making a painful dance move, more awkwardness; Randy shows up for whatever reason, causing Maya to go into a verbal tailspin, more awkwardness, fade out, the end. Every. Single. Time! They did try to mix it up on some occasions by moving the action to other locations, but despite capturing the awkwardness of middle school pretty well, the formula remained unchanged—and that ultimately harmed the sketches. On the other hand, McCain gets to live out an alternate version of himself if he never went to war; that was actually kind of amusing to see.

 

McCAIN_DUO

“TV Funhouse/AGD” or “Homer listen carefully, John is a Ho- Mo…” “Right…” “Sexual!” “AAAAAHHHH!!!” 

It’s been many moons since the AGD last dropped by, And as usual, it was hysterical. And if that Dancing of theirs doesn’t prove that they’re gay, I don’t know what will. It would have gotten an A+, but that Fat-ass Jack Welch had to ruin it.

Diagnosis: B+

EDITOR’S NOTE: Once again; at the age of 17, there’s a good chance I don’t know any better about the world or certain people who can move the world around—Jack Welch, Longtime General Electric CEO, is one of those people who I probably should’ve done research about first before blindly calling him fat (Honestly, I think Smigel’s people went out of their way to draw him rather unflatteringly here thanks to a throwaway joke about him appearing in a cartoon as part of his controversial retirement package—since then, the guy has lost a lot of the weight, but is also in his 80s now, so I think we can let it go). Having read several bios on the guy in passing years; yes, he is deservedly a titan of industry, but I still feel “Neutron Jack” is a bit of a bore—so much so, that his inclusion at the end of this adventure with Ace & Gary still feels out of place with the rest of the action. As for the duo themselves, it’s pretty much every stereotype of “Gay People Know about Decorating” you can think of; a sure sign that ABG was just about ready to run out of gas. Also, we can thank “Five for Fighting” for this sketch not being available in video format–a shame really, because Ace & Gary’s interpretive dance to the song “Superman” might’ve been the best part of the whole thing.

 

 

McCAIN_PRESS

“Meet the Press” or “Oooh, a political discussion at our table, I feel like a Kennedy.”

Next to Hardball, this was one of the Best Sketches of the Night. It’s scary how Darrell Plays Tim Russert “to a T”, (Still trying to figure out what that means.) I mean, the non-stop questioning, the misleads and whatnot. Darrell Hammond, if you’re reading this, I’ve got two words for you: “Lifetime Contract” As for McCain, He played the best Straight man I’ve seen since…Well, anyone in politics.

Diagnosis: A+ 

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: How the Hell could I have forgotten about this sketch? Still another Honorable mention I left out of an existing list; this is probably one of the better political sketches to come out of the ‘00’s that Doesn’t contain the word “Strategery”. Of course, there is a certain pall of sadness while watching this sketch because—hard as it is to believe—it’s now been almost 10 years since we lost Tim Russert. Meet the Press was probably one on the Only Political/News based programs I watched at the time that didn’t bore me back to bed, and part of the reason why it fascinated me was because Russert was probably one of the best verbal jousters ever to play the game of political punditry & needling next to John McLaughlin (another show I watched at a young age, but for semi-ironic reasons). Russert is very much missed, and I’m certain Hammond misses portraying him—As for that “Lifetime Contract” comment, well…I’m half-way right as Hammond still calls 8H his home, just under a different capacity these days. Anyway, when this piece aired, McCain still had a certain aura of likability that made many wonder if he would challenge Dubya in 2004—but since toying with party lines is often a death sentence, of course he would run again…he would have to wait until After Dubya left office to get a chance to do so—but then he Wasilla’d himself out of it, and the rest is history. McCain largely plays it straight as Hammond does all the heavy work; sometimes fast & loose, but other times to a point where you just want to tell him to shut up. The part where they hypothetically pit a 90 year old McCain against a Jimmy Carter Zombie was bizarrely poignant—especially considering McCain’s got a tough road ahead if he ever wants to see 90. Nevertheless, if/when McCain’s time ever came to pass, this would probably be the Sketch the show would air as a tribute if they don’t put the episode on “Vintage” first.

 

McCAIN_UPDATE

Update or “…For Channel 6 News, I’m Kenny Brockelstein.”

Finally back on par from the past two weeks, Great jokes, non-stop laughs, even that near mute politician was funny. My personal faves? (In no particular order) Iraqi Idol, The “Pumpkin” thing, Tina’s Rant, (What man doesn’t love that?) The “Jimmy in Drag” joke, and the “Jet Train” joke. But hands down, the political guy was icing on the cake. Update is back alright, no doubt about it.

Diagnosis: A+

EDITOR’S NOTE: OK, let’s rephrase that in a way that makes some semblance of sense…
Favorite Jokes: Jet Train, Tearless Onions, RDJ/Jimmy in Drag (which, BTW, might’ve been the genesis of one of his “Tonight Show” bits), Pumpkin Sex.

Commentaries: Not only is Tina’s opening comment on Iraq & North Korea something that Jost & Che would be proud of, but it’s surprisingly & scarily still relevant to this day—give or take a few details. North Korea remains the “Older child with a Bomb”, while Iraq……well, you know. As for that “Near Mute Politician”; that would be honorable mention among my favorite characters, Tim Calhoun making his debut. I’ve always wanted to know what the origins were behind the character aside from the fact that he emulates most soft-spoken political figures (or, according to some, a young Ted Cruz), but after an extensive google search, it looks like one of those stories Forte wants to keep to himself. Nevertheless, this was the character that helped put Forte on the map in terms of just how weird/quirky some of his later characters would be; and the more he repeated these performances, the more outlandish they would become.

 

UPDATED SCORE: A- (some jokes became a little outdated)

 

 

McCAIN_STREISAND

“McCain Sings Streisand” or “I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Democracy simply doesn’t work.”

…Especially when you have a guy who’s as distinguished as Senator McCain, and have him sing the songs of Streisand…And in a incredibly off-key manner. But ladies and gentlemen, that’s exactly why this was as funny as it was. That and the god awful sight of seeing McCain in Shorts. (Though those shorts will never be as short as Will Ferrell’s) It was definately unusual to see/hear, but it’s the good kind of unusual. If they ever do something like this again, just make sure they find someone who can sing on key.

Diagnosis: B+

EDITOR’S NOTE: And speaking of “Plays against type”, THIS was the moment where I realized that McCain is not only a hero, but as far as I’m concerned, he can do whatever the Hell he wants (within reason) on the Senate Floor. Even if you watch the above video, just TRY to picture someone as soft-spoken as McCain trying to belt out sappy love songs in what I can only describe as the “Key of R”—but at least we know the bad singing is entirely on purpose, because the main joke is that McCain should sing Streisand in as much as Streisand should be in Politics—and as a Liberal leaning Independent, I actually side with McCain on that one (Though to be fair, at least Streisand was willing to offer an Olive Branch a few times, including just a few days ago). Watching this again, I actually had to turn off after 30 seconds—not because it was bad or has aged horribly, but because sometimes there’s such a thing as “Too Silly”. Hearing McCain bellow “Love…Soft as an Easy Chair” was a little too much to take…still a funny visual, though.

 

 

McCAIN_NOVEL

“Big Thick Book” or “Marge, I’m Bored!” “Why don’t you read a book?” “Cause I’m trying to reduce my boredom!”

Ugh, I thought they would stop doing these! Does Jack Handey have a Lifetime contract dealie or something? If so, this would explain much. He should just go back to doing “Deep thoughts” like he should. And because of this, this get’s the honor of being named…”Oy Vey! of the Day”!

Diagnosis: F

EDITOR’S NOTE: Once again, this was a “Filler” Piece—and since it is, it would probably be unfair to grade something that’s only a few seconds long. The strange thing about these is that I have often enjoyed Jack Handey’s work (Handey-work?) in the past; “Deep Thoughts”? Classic. “Fuzzy Memories”? A Solid follow-up. Yet it was these bits that I somehow found to be incredibly boring for some reason. Maybe Jack got too Dry, maybe the illustrations by Robert Fontanelli were a little droll, or maybe I was still an immature teenager who thought that Tom Green was a Genius at the time (even though he has Nothing to do with this). Either way, I’ve grown up a little, and it turns out that these bits would probably be better if you watched them all in succession—but that’s just me.

 

REVISED SCORE: N/A

 

 

McCAIN_MORNIN

“Top O’ the Morning” or “Marge, I’m going to Moe’s! Send the kids to the neighbors, I’m comin’ back loaded!”

For an end of the night sketch, this was pretty good. If they manage to do another one of these, they just have to make sure that they don’t repeat to many elements. (I.e. “Punching Wall”, “Human 8-Ball”, “Not Here, Not Here”!) The only problem with this one was the fact that McCain couldn’t play a drunk Irishman to save his life. As for the rest of his performances, they were suprisingly well acted. Something that’s hard to see a politician do. Getting back to this sketch, like I said, just don’t overkill the elements next time.

Diagnosis: B 

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: I already mentioned this sketch once before in my Salma Hayek retro review; but the fact remains that for the most part, it was not only a competent series of sketches chock-full of Irish stereotypes, but also a series of sketches with a high burnout rate. Starting strong in season 28, then suddenly one or two of them by the time Fallon left in ’04. On the plus and/or minus side, at least the first one was the best one.

 

 

Grand Diagnosis: B+

Prescription: I’ve got nothing to criticize here, that was a great show. That’s how the show should be. Though it seemed as though there were very few sketches. (About 10 at my count.)

 

UPDATED SCORE: A Solid B.

UPDATED THOUGHTS: With the exception of various Iraq related jokes, this show not only still holds up, but it also affirms my belief that even the most straight-laced, overly sensitive and/or uptight people can take a joke (which is something I wish I could say about anybody in the current administration). The real surprise of the show was just how professional McCain turned out to be, as well as some of the lengths he was willing to go to maintain that professionalism. Watching all of this again not only makes me hope he recovers, but that he’s got enough left in him to pull off at least one more Maverick trick of some kind. Say what you will about McCain, but the guy has had a life well spent—his SNL appearance is just one of many highlights that’ll last a lifetime.

 

 

Hopefully the next time our Regular page resumes Updates will be a few weeks from now, when we present a week-long salute to “Weekend Update” in light of the upcoming prime-time run. In the meantime, the “Summer of Starmaker” rolls on, and will continue to do so through the rest of the summer. We’ll see you in a few weeks for “Update Week”.

10 Things I learned after watching “Baby Driver”

Recently, I saw the new Edgar Wright film “Baby Driver”; it’s the story of an unusually gifted Kid (Ansel Elgort) who accelerates both literally and figuratively in being a driver for various heists Orchestrated by Kevin Spacey, and a rotating crew of hoods who actually pull of said heists. For the most part, the movie was A-MA-ZING, and it also makes me want to give Wright’s “Cornetto Trilogy” a second look when I have the time. But for the benefit of those who haven’t seen the movie yet, I want to do something that I hope to do whenever I see a new movie—I want to share what I learned during/after the movie WITHOUT using any Spoilers. The following things that I learned are listed in no particular order of importance, they’re just a series of observations I realized while watching the movie. With that said, here’s what I learned about “Baby Driver”…

 

 BABY CAR

  1. I should’ve been more of a gear head growing up.

    I know it seems like a common cliché that “Men know cars”, but in all my years of breathing oxygen, I wouldn’t know the difference between a socket wrench and a crescent wrench, even if the names were written in Bold Ink on Flash Cards. Some of the dialogue in the movie was very Car-Specific, and it probably would’ve made more sense to me if I saw more episodes of “Top Gear” in my spare time. Then again, I’m here to see cars zoom down the road and/or watch them crash spectacularly; knowing the ins & outs of car lingo is the least of my concerns.

    BABY VIN

    2. Wearing Sunglasses and an iPod while driving turns you into Vin Diesel no matter how “aloof” you are.

 

 

Apparently, this kid (named “Baby”) does his best driving while he’s listening to certain music. Specifically while listening to music. There are reasons for this which sort of verge into “Spoiler” territory, so let’s just say for argument’s sake that this is a highly fantasized version of what happens when a person’s favorite song comes on the radio. I like walking around the city wearing my music, I like walking in rhythm to the tune I’m listening to at the moment, but I certainly wouldn’t want to be Fast and/or Furious as I do.

 

 

 

 BABY TINN

  1. At the same time, listening to said iPod is therapeutic–especially if you have Tinnitus.

 

 

Yes, this is a plot point, but at the same time, I had to see if there was any medical truth to this or if it was just another work of fiction. Sure enough, I came across This Article and the below video that helps bust the myth while (at the same time) proves it as well. So, take a look at this…

 

 

 

 

BABY SPACEY

  1. I love the guy, but I’m sick of Kevin Spacey playing a bad guy in everything; mix it up a little next time!

 

 

Kevin Spacey is one of my Top 10 Favorite actors, and I’m sure playing shady characters is his bread & butter. But let’s face it, he’s been playing these kinds of characters for practically his entire career. Even on rare occasions when he’s a “Good” guy, he somehow portrays those roles as seedy as a Chia Pet. Seeing him as one of the Bad-ish guys in this movie just felt like something I’ve seen millions of times. Just once, I’d like to see him play someone who benefitted mankind—Maybe Samuel Morse or Eli Whitney or Somebody who didn’t have Bad intentions. Thankfully, where Spacey was predictable, these next two certainly were not…

 

 

 

 BABY FOXX

  1. Don’t Mess with Jamie Foxx.

 

 

Shouldn’t really have to explain this one, the dude’s a chameleon. He can be a legendary soul singer one minute, a former slave out for revenge the next; and in this case, a gangster just looking for what’s his. Quite honestly, he WOULD’VE been the best Bad Guy in the movie if it weren’t for Don Draper stealing the show…

 

 

 

Jon Hamm;Ansel Elgort

  1. Don’t Fuck with Jon Hamm

 

 

Believe me, there’s a difference between “Messing” with someone and “Fucking” with someone. Again, without going into “Spoiler Mode”, Hamm’s performance is the human equivalent of going “Zero to 60 in 2.4 seconds”. Anybody who can go from that calm to that enraged on the turn of a dime (especially after losing out on so many Emmys) makes me wonder if he took up Method Acting in his Younger days. Something about his performance was just plain haunting.

 

 

 

 BABY MUSIC

  1. Gotta get more Motown/Hip-Hop/R&B songs for my library.

 

 

If the movie was even the slightest bit lousy (which, thankfully, it wasn’t), the soundtrack would’ve acted as the movie’s air-bag. There are over 70 Songs credited as being in the movie; Among them? James Brown, Dave Brubeck, The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Martha & The Vandellas, T. Rex, The Commodores, Issac Hayes, Barry White, Queen, The Detroit Emeralds, Brenda Holloway, Steve Miller Band, Quincy Jones, Edwin Starr, Alman Brothers Band, Jamiroquai, Aretha Franklin, The Beastie Boys, Phil Collins, Bill Withers, The Isley Brothers, Blur, Simon & Garfunkel, and most importantly, BECK, but not just any Beck song, a cut from his “Midnite Vultures” album…Like I even have to say her name…

 

 

For reasons I don’t have enough time to get into right now, this movie’s soundtrack went into my head and plucked out half of my iTunes Library. If they don’t give Oscars to people who put together movie soundtracks, THEY SHOULD (Failing that, at least whoever put this collection together probably has a Grammy waiting in the “Will Call” section of the Staples Center at Next year’s ceremony).

 

 

 

 BABY ATLANTA

  1. Buy LOTS of Kevlar before visiting Atlanta.

 

 

OK, that might be a little unfair, but the facts are there; the movie takes place in Metro Atlanta, and I’m sure the movie was rated “R” for more than just language. Point is, shit blows up, people get shot, run over, impaled, fall off buildings, get crushed in cars and a bunch of other mis-fortunes that could happen in any other city…I don’t know if it was Edgar Wright’s decision to film there, but so be it otherwise. I’m sure the City is a great place to have a good time (Bonus points for them name-dropping the [soon to be] world famous “Goodfella’s Pizza”)…Still never gonna root for the Braves, though.

 

 

 

 BABY GIRL

  1. Good Girls ALWAYS go for the Bad Boys in the grand scheme of things (even if the boy in question has no intention of ever being “Bad”).

 

 

It is a cliché as old as time; or at the very least, as old as the “Fat Guy Marries a Hot Wife on a TV Show” one. Thing is, “Baby” is neither a “Bad Boy”, nor does he fit the mold of “Traditional” Bad Boys; he’s very much “just a kid”, and he happens to have done some things that makes him look like a badass—The fact remains though, that driving around like a maniac should not be the key to getting into some girl’s pants. Hell, even the girl in the movie doesn’t want that, she just wants to get out of town and start a new life, and Baby wants to do that too. Then again, if Baby did the right thing from the beginning, the movie would be about 6 minutes long and full of plot holes. So even though I hate this cliché, I have to let it slide for the sake of telling a story…a shame really, because I always thought Edgar Wright was Above clichés.

 

 

 

10.
BABY RAIN

 

Having heard variants of this phrase my Entire life, I sympathize. Who hasn’t wanted to search for something Better? Baby with wanting to get out of working with Spacey, Debora (Lily James) wanting to get out of the diner she works in. Sometimes you can see the Rainbow While it’s raining, yet it’s still out of reach………..God DAMN, do I need my own apartment.

 

 

 BABY POSTER

 

Other than that, “Baby Driver” is the perfect movie to see if you want to avoid a barrage of “Minions” fans. The movie itself is not perfect; but the action, choreography, Jamie Foxx, Jon Hamm and the soundtrack are more than enough to make up for the film’s (VERY) minor flaws. Having said that, I hope and Pray that they DON’T make a “se” and/or prequel…even though I would’ve liked to know a little more about how Baby wound up working for Spacey’s character and the events leading up to the beginning of the movie, I have a feeling that might’ve been left on the cutting room floor and would make a decent BluRay extra. In the meantime, I have the entire Atlantic Records music library to stream on Spotify…this could take a while…

 

 

SCORE: B+

TV ________: We’re Gonna need a BETTER Name

As I often do, whenever I experience down time at work, I like to go on what some would call a “Stream of Consciousness” when it comes to googling things. I.e. Search for one thing, then see how far the Rabbit Hole goes. Just for shits & giggles, I decided to check and see if there were any online radio stations that played TV theme songs—Quite honestly, I hope there are, because what fun would it be if you had the game to yourself (besides, I’ve always admired the “Underdog Mentality”). So imagine my surprise when I typed in the words “TV Theme Song Radio Station”, When THIS Page popped up as the top entry…

 

name change2

 

Surprisingly, I’m actually not angry about this for a number of reasons:

 

1.I’ve heard the channel, and it sounds pretty good…Really. Like I said, I’m glad there’s more than one of this kind of channel, because at least I know there’s an audience for this kind of thing. Therefore, the only thing to do if/when we launch (Still slated for September, BTW) is to sound better than the others; because where would the fun be without a little spirited competition?

 

2. I technically haven’t done anything yet, so changing a name shouldn’t be that big a hurdle to jump–just gotta do some touch-ups in photo shop once I come up with a better name.

 

3. These things happen in all forms of business (big ones & start-ups alike)—not everything is going to be 100% perfect to the intended design (TRIVIA: The Old UPN TV Network was supposed to be called “Blade”…just goes to show ‘ya). That’s why there’s a lot of honing, molding, shaping and polishing to be done until you pull the trigger so to speak.

 

The only thing that annoys me is that I now need to change a logo and revise some audio I put together…but again, this is no challenge whatsoever. I’ve been in radio now for 13 years, and if there’s anything I know how to do, it’s making a quick fix. Hopefully in a few weeks, we’ll have a New Name for our (Still to Premiere in September) TV Theme Song Channel, and we thank you for your patience. Just know for certain, that the show will go on…………I’m just glad I didn’t order any business cards/stationary yet. Stay Tuned.

DEFERRAL: Why I Like Bad Movies

I want to start a new feature here—partly because there are certain things I have been wanting to talk about since I started this blog, but for whatever reason; I don’t have either the time or the energy to write long diatribes about them…but I still want to anyway. In some cases, whenever a certain subject pops up that somebody else can talk about in a far more eloquent way than I ever could (but I still agree with it), that is when I will put up these entries that I will call “Deferrals”. In other words, I step out of the Editor’s chair for a moment, and let somebody else do the talking.

 

I wanted to talk about the phenomenon of movies that are “So Bad, they’re Good” since mentioning a particular SNL sketch that seems to have followed that formula once. As far as my own personal experience goes; I became a fan of “SBTG” movies ever since my sister showed me an episode of “Mystery Science Theater 3000” (MST3K for those who speak in acronyms). From there, thanks to the never ending ingenuity of the internet, I gradually got myself sucked further into the world of these movies, yet for some reason I never truly understood why I liked them so much. Bad Acting? Bad Story/Writing? Unintentionally intentional Bad Moments that make the movies that more “enjoyable”? Some sort of chemical imbalance? I honestly had no idea why I would become such a willing fan of such stupidity………….Until just this morning when I came across a video from the website Vox—and on that note, this is where I make my deferral. Using one of the reigning Kings of Bad Movies (Tommy Wiseau’s “The Room”) as a patient zero; here now is why (according to them) myself and countless others enjoy watching “So Bad, They’re Good” movies…

 

 

Thank you, Vox. That’s certainly a hell of a lot better than I could ever explain it.

TV ________: A Long Overdue Update

NOTE: I’m about to use a lot of technical jargon that may not be 100% understandable by some. If you need to know what something means, feel free to comment below and I will try to translate.

 

6 Months ago, I announced the “groundbreaking” of a thing that I have been wanting to do for a few years now—a Radio station that plays nothing but TV music; Mostly theme songs (including full-length versions & covers), but also Original songs that were written for Television; and slap a bunch of TV sound bytes in between them for nostalgia sake. Many months have passed, and you might be curious as to what exactly is going on (or, if you’re Just finding out about this today, you could also be wondering what this is all about—in which case, here ‘ya go, come back in about 5 minutes).

 

Short Answer: Life keeps getting in the way, and we (by which I mean “I” and maybe 2 other people) have been using what little spare time I have to get everything* put together (*Everything meaning music, imaging, calibrating sound quality, identifying artists/composers, and altogether making sure I don’t suck at this like I sucked the last time I tried to make an online radio station that lasts).

 

Shorter Answer: “Here’s where Cameron goes Berserk”

…which I think might also be that actor’s reaction to appearing in that Domino’s Pizza commercial—you KNOW which one.

 

Long Answer: Putting something together from scratch is probably one of the most difficult things a person can do—Especially something that has never/rarely/seldom been tried before, and Also if you’re a complete nobody who doesn’t have the clout to raise money in a heartbeat—Not all of us are Warren Buffett or Bono–not that I don’t have my ways (More on that later). Then again, why do you think they call it a “Passion Project”? You have to be passionate enough in order to see things through right down to the bitter end, and we (nee: “Me + 2”) haven’t even hit the starting line yet…hell, I’m having a time just trying to get the grandstand built……….But enough metaphors, here’s how I spent my non-work & non-blog free time the past 6 months:

 

 

As of this writing, I have about 800+ pieces of music that I hope to use on this channel—which may seem like a lot, but don’t forget, TV Theme songs (the ones that air on TV) run about 30-60 seconds long. So when you take those, and add it to the other stuff (the “Full Length” stuff), it may sound like a lot, but it falls just under 20 hours worth of content—the Goal? AT LEAST 48 Hours. Why? Because you don’t want to create “burnout” (I.e. Hearing the same stuff over again too soon). The more music, the better. Of course, the music can only sound as good as the source you get the music from; which brings me to my first problem…

 

 

When doing research for this venture, I have discovered that the average level of sound quality a song can have when streaming is 128Kbps, a level that some consider “Broadcast Quality”. Other people consider 192Kbps “Broadcast Quality”, but that’s if you’re willing to shell out the money to afford a higher quality stream. Of the 800+ TV songs I have, only 550 of them have a sound quality of 128Kbps or Less, another hundred or so fall between 128 & 192, leaving a big chunk of songs that need to be “remastered” so that they play at the proper streaming frequency. If I were to play JUST those songs, I would suddenly wind up with 13 hours of content. What’s more, some of the theme songs I have come from varying sources over the past 20 years (yes, I’ve been collecting TV theme songs That long, thank you very much). Some of the files In my possession have become so degraded, that I have to find other sources to get them. But considering this is a Radio Station I’m trying to build, I want to be able to obtain nothing but the best quality audio there is without having to rip the audio from Youtube or some 3rd generation copy at some other website—The music (I feel) has to be Authentic, but if there’s something out of my control, there’s very little I can do about it. So, remastering music is one of Many hurdles that are keeping me from going on the air. But that’s not half as big an issue as Music Identification. What’s Your favorite TV show? Does your favorite show have a Theme song? If so, do you know who’s composing the song? Or Singing it? Well, that’s the case for about 30% of these songs. I may know them by heart, but I don’t know who’s responsible for them without spending marathon hours on Google, Wikipedia, Shazam, and to an extent Jamie Foxx to research them. Identifying all of the nuts & bolts of a song is one of the more important aspects of a radio station—if not for the listener to wonder who’s singing the song, but also so that it’s easier to enter data when I eventually load the song into the library—to say nothing of the biggest and most important reason this needs to be done.

 

 

Ever wonder how musicians/singers/everybody associated with the record industry gets paid without sleeping around? It’s through these clearing houses where every time a song plays, an angel gets its wings…to the tune of about (INSERT MINISCULE CENT FIGURE HERE) per airplay. They can’t get paid until the song, artist, composer, etc. are logged into a tabulation provided by either of these clearing houses—and what’s more, (With ONE Exception to the rule I might Have to use again) until I get the permission from these clearing houses to play music, I can’t run a radio station. So I have to pay for licensing……There are a number of ways to do this, each of them costly but varying in difficulty. I’ve been told by experts about a website called Stream Licensing; which would be the cheapest way to go, but also the most time consuming. Basically, I’d be able to run my station at a reasonable price depending on how many listeners I get in a month—but I have to enter Every Single Song & Production element in order for things to remain legal. There is also the more expensive/less toiling way via obtaining a “Blanket License” through BMI…If I even began to explain the ins & outs of how that works, I’ll go gray before I turn 35, so instead, just look at this (https://www.bmi.com/digital_licensing) and you’ll pretty much see what I’m up against in terms of just how expensive & expansive getting one of these licenses can be. Then there’s the matter of getting the damn thing on the air somehow…preferably on the cheap. So I have to look for a Streaming service ON TOP of a BMI License—and don’t even get me started on advertising/social media, where there’s so many “Right Ways” to do things, you don’t know what to believe.

 

 

With all of these things destined to weigh heavily on my shoulders in addition to my “Real Life” happenings, one has to wonder if it’s worth it to continue to try & get this off the ground. The answer is a resounding Yes. If you read the first “TV Tunes” related entry 5 minutes ago, you would’ve noticed a poem I put in at the end; “It couldn’t be done” by Edgar Albert Gest. I put that poem in there as sort of a declaration, but also to prove a point. How many times did Thomas Edison fail before inventing the Light bulb? How many times did the Wright Brothers crash before getting off the ground? How many Pocket Fish did Ron Popeil let Swim away before the Pocket fisherman cut them all down to size……….wait, that’s not right…….anyway. The point is, if you’re truly passionate about something, you need to see it through to the bitter end. We may not be 100% where we should be by the time we (SPOILER ALERT) Launch in September, but at least the world will know that we are giving it a try. As for Fundraising, don’t worry too much about that–Thanks to eBay, I was able to get enough to make it past the launch, but I need a booster rocket in order to stay in orbit. Sometime before we launch in the Fall, we will be opening up some sort of crowdfunding to help get this sucker off the ground, and it will be at a reasonable price. From there, we only hope to keep this going as long as we can; I want this to be a “Listener Supported” station in every sense of the word (whatever that means, I’ve been awake for 18 hours today, cut me some slack), and I can only do it with your help–again, once we get to it, there’s still a lot of work to do before that happens…and hopefully I can get it all done without passing out a la Alec Guinness in “River Kwai”…Madness…

 

Don’t Touch that Dial, September 16th.