Tag Archives: twitter

T.G.I.F. – Ten Tweety Birds

Six months have passed since my last Tweet, so I am wondering if I should blast out another message. Since I post every day, I guess I don’t see the need to tell people that they should stop by, since twenty-six months of daily posts should be enough to subtly infer that you might want to stop by regularly. I mean, after all, I’m trying to attract readers and thinkers, not someone with the attention span of a gnat on fire.

I really don’t want to waste anyone’s time telling them daily what the daily post is about – you can sign up for email or use an RSS feed for that. and frankly, I don’t think you’d really care that I ate a really great cheeseburger or that I went to a movie in a theatre for the first time in four months or that Mountain Dew still tastes like dog piss, or at least how I imagine dog piss would taste, not having actually sampled the nectar first hand.

But I do occasionally check in on some comedians who Tweet, and for them, the recent Oscar broadcast was like shooting fish in a barrell. I’ve had a long week, so let’s keep it light with Ten Tweeters you should check out – at least for their Oscar wit! Have a great weekend!

(01) – Norm MacDonaldBy the time the dead guy montage starts, Kirk Douglas will be in it

(02) – Nick KrollStutter is the new retard

(03) – Bill MaherIf you’re black and want to make it in Hollywood you better be a swan

(04) – Joan Rivers The smart nominees get Botox injections before the Academy Awards so if they lose, we won’t see the rage lurking behind their frozen faces.”

(05) – Chelsea Peretti I know nothing about fashion but I wanna say shoulder cut-outs were a miscalc

(06) – Drew Carey To everyone disappointed in last nights Oscars: Serves you right for watching in the first place.”

(07) – Moshe Kasher Wow Franco is ruining lines that were pre ruined by the writers.”

(08) – Natasha Leggero Anyone know what corporation is shoving Anne Hathaway down our throats?”

(09) – Patton Oswalt  Whoever hugs Reese is gonna slit their jugular on her jawbone…”

(10) – Whitney Cummings When did Gwyneth Paltrow become the Sarah Palin of country music?

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Really, F.T.C.? Really?

I guess they're caught up on everything else?

I guess they're caught up on everything else?

It’s good to know that the Federal Trade Commission has cleared so many important issues off their desk that they can now turn their attention to the integrity of bloggers and web reviewers.

Apparently the concern is that some who post about products and services might not be doing it from the goodness of their heart, but because they are being paid to do so. Comments about this hotel being great and that laptop being awesome might, in fact, be a promotional plug from a paid endorser. In other words, you might read something on the Internet that’s not true.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I am in shock! Fictitious information…on the web? Is nothing sacred? (Link to a story that discusses the FTC topic.)

Like many of you I am flooded with email offers to become a paid shopper, or to try products then keep them, or become an “Internet Marketing Manager” (that last one is my favorite because you actually get a job title!). I treat these with the same courtesy and respect as I do offers for inheritances from foreign countries, hotties in my zip code and penis enlargement equipment…on the rare occasion they make it through the spam filter in the first place.

It’s pretty funny – I can’t see the FTC being able to enforce this on websites, let alone Internet chat groups and Facebook communities; there are millions of them to monitor. And what the hell is a “prominent Tweeter”? Is that a person of renown, famous by their name? Or is it that nerd who tweets you every five minutes to let you know he found a parking space or finally passed that Mexican meal that’s been giving him gas all day?

I guess if you believe everything you read, it might be a relief that the FTC has made this a priority. But most of us with functioning brains can spot a plant pretty easily. I’ve been on band websites where some label lackey came in to pimp a new band only to get hounded off the list within an hour. If you read Amazon reviews you’ll be able to spot the phonies – sometimes including the artists themselves – a mile away. And I frequent sites that rate services, accommodations and employers, and even there it’s easy to differentiate most of the wheat from the chaff.

Why? Genuine people write with passion. Phonies can’t.

Don’t get me wrong – I like the fact that there is a Federal Trade Commission, and their mission statement is a valid and necessary one. I’m just saying they might want to spend more time looking at sweatshops and Wal-Mart than chasing Twitter interns (Twints?). But for those who do need the advice, let me share this nugget of wisdom with you, words my parents taught me: “Don’t believe everything you read”. (There, isn’t that better? I just saved the government millions of dollars and cleared their agenda for the next crisis.)

Drum roll, please...

Drum roll, please...

The rules go into effect December 1, 2009. But to be proactive – and avoid any possibility of a misdirected eleven thousand dollar fine – let me state it for the record. “No film company, television channel, record company, musician, artist or performer is paying me anything”. Hell, I don’t even accept advertising. I do receive promotional copies of CDs, DVDs and books for review, just like many reviewers do, but never with strings attached. I always have – and will continue to – recuse myself from reviewing any project or product I’m involved with. A link to this statement is now in the Blogroll column.

Wow…I feel cleansed and proud. Wonder if the FTC knows how that feels?

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Emmy (See if I got this straight…)

Doogie nailed it.

Doogie nailed it.

Here’s the list of nominees and winners. I was a miserable 6 of 18 on my predictions, but there were a few upsets. So, attention DVR People – my comments below include spoilers! Now I’ll wait a minute while those people leave the room and seat-fillers take their place…  

Gone? Okay…cue my theme music!

Let’s hear it for the boy! Doogie was great – killing it with an opening number that was acerbic and funny (and props to him for immediately crediting the writers – Scott Wittman and Mark Shaiman from Hairspray) and keeping things moving pretty briskly. Made some great quips and dished out some kudos where and when appropriate without being fawning. Great running gag (with Jon Cryer, among others) after not winning for Supporting Actor, which several critics apparently took seriously. The retort to Academy President John Schaffner in the audience after the latter gave him an Emmy pin (“Yeah, that helps.”) was hilarious. Only the extended “best seat in the house” gag got tired. But really, how can you possibly dislike the guy? He must have a Q rating off the charts. (And if you thought that bit where he breathlessly rattled off the list of networks was great, watch this !)

And speaking of the Harlem Globetrotters – the only time that tired gag was really funny – it was good to see the Washington Generals of the Apple ads get his night. While Justin Long had to sit complacently next to Drew Barrymore, his partner in those hilarious commercials, John Hodgman,  got to zing one-liners from the booth. Between serious voice-overs (“This is her first win and her second nomination“) he peppered the audio with absurdly funny comments (“The Daily Show With Jon Stewart is celebrating its 76th year on the air. It began on Comedy Central Radio as Stewart-Brand Chicken-Fat All-Star Baked Beans Half Hour. This is their 900th Emmy, and frankly, that’s too much“). Likewise, Harris often introduced nominees by “obscure” credits from their resumes.

The tables have turned.

The tables have turned.

Splitting the show into segments. Very good idea, albeit risky. Of course, they always have to start out strong to keep the audience from flipping, so Comedy was the appropriate leadoff hitter. Exhausting that category so soon risked weakening the overall show but they pulled it off. Better yet, getting to fast-forward through the Reality segment kept the projectiles off my screen and the vomit off my floor. After last year’s program, where TV almost killed its own Golden Goose by kissing the ass of the most unreal programming on television, can you blame me for avoiding that train wreck of a category? (And please explain how American Idol was included within the “Reality” part of the program, but then the director won in the “Variety” category?)

Three cheers also for the set. The theatre is amazing, and the versatile set was configured to expose the composition of the evening like peeling the skin off the skeleton. The band out of the pit, the production booth in view upstage, the host actually able to host from a designated location. Aside from one obvious technical glitch – which Ricky Gervais turned into gold, of course – the show ran very smoothly.

The mood of the show was also interesting. Fairly egoless – our host was a big part of that. Almost everyone got through their lines and cues without issue, and for the most part the presenters and recipients avoided the usual politicking (Washington and Hollywood) that the Oscars seem to bring in droves. There weren’t enough performance clips for my taste – sometimes none at all – and the gimmick about asking some of the non-performer nominees mostly fell flat because some took it seriously while others didn’t (the clip of the night was from Conan O’Brien’s show, where he predicts “YouTube, Twitter and Facebook will merge to form one super time-wasting Web site called YouTwitFace.”)

And thanks to the network for not picking up that ridiculous gimmick that Fox dropped on us recently where the lower third of the screen is filled with scrolling tweets. Die in Hell for that one, television. Isn’t it enough that you pander to wannabe celebretards by cramming as many of these unreal crapfests onto the air in place of creative and scripted programs? Now you have to let couch potatoes try to tweet their way onto the screen so they can – I dunno – tweet their friends that their tweet was broadcast? (That’s like a snake eating its tail, right?) Then you’ll complain that no one could follow the plot of your show.

Neil Patrick Harris Dr Horrible

Best surprise – an appearance by Dr. Horrible, which was perhaps not as funny for people who have not seen the hilarious webisodes starring Harris, Nathan Fillion and Felicia Day.  Of course, the irony that the program was created on the Internet during the writer’s strike and aired without any network or commercial involvement was probably also too subtle as well. But why fret about those who can’t appreciate it, knowing the zeitgeist of 2009 somehow justifies Leighton Meester and Brooke Lively walking on the same stage as Glenn Close and Bob Newhart? (And folks,  Nathan Fillion rules.)

I always get a little verklempt during the In Memoriam segment anyway, but really – bringing Sarah McLachlan out to drive a nail through my heart? Was that necessary? If you’ve been to a memorial service in the past decade you know that song is as requisite as Donna Summer’s “Last Dance” at a wedding reception…and I experienced both within twenty-four hours this weekend. (She did nail the performance, though).  Maybe a good career move for her, since the last few times I’ve seen her on television she’s been asking me to save abused pets. But between those ads and that song, she’s unquestionably the reigning Debbie Downer.

Eat, already!

Eat, already!

Kristin Chenoweth squeaked and squirted so much during her crying jag that the high-pitched whine probably killed one of Mickey Rourke’s dogs. I was surprised by her win, but she is talented (Wicked on Broadway? Girl, please!) and now can hopefully afford to buy a sandwich. She was the first person that said “this is really heavy” when holding the Emmy Award that I believed. Really – the girl makes Olive Oyl look fat. Great bit pimping for jobs on Mad Men and 24 now that her show is cancelled.

Ricky Gervais. Pure freakin’ gold. I don’t know if he could keep up that pace for the entire program, but I’d sure like to watch him try. As solid as Neil Patrick Harris was – and he was very good – Gervais has the fastest mind I’ve seen since Robin Williams in his prime. Combine that with a self-deprecating attitude and a bold disregard for convention (I’m willing to go there, and don’t care what you think about it) and you get both humor and unpredictability. He is, as the Brits say, brilliant.

"We fixed the glitch"

"Fixing the glitch"

Comedy WTF Award: Toni Collette. Really? Really?? I’ll bet more people lost betting on Tina Fey than the ones betting on these guys or them or (sniff!) them. I remember hearing about The United States of Tara being scheduled but that’s the last time I heard it mentioned. Tina Fey might be getting so many accolades that there’s a backlash, but she was funnier than ever this year. But she nailed the guest appearance as Sarah Palin and won that Emmy as expected, plus having 30 Rock win was probably more satisfying, since it works because it’s an ensemble piece. (Well, more satisfying to me, anyway.)

Loved Brian’s Emmy vote. “Suit up!”

Perhaps it was because they front loaded the comedy, but after all those overt verbose kudos to Lorne Michaels,I figured he either was quietly diagnosed with inoperable cancer or owns a scrapbook with incriminating photos of everyone he’s ever worked with. (Probably it’s just that he’s a nice guy).

There were some repeat winners I can’t argue with – Jon Stewart, Alec Baldwin – they deserve the accolades. Happy to see Michael J. Fox snag a Guest Actor win for Rescue Me; it reminded me of some shows and people who got overlooked entirely.

Really Mad Men

Really Mad Men

Drama kudos: Bryan Cranston. I figured that Jon Hamm would walk off with it as Mad Men gets a lot of Emmy love, but Cranston is unbelievable in his role and well deserving. Can’t knock the win by Michael Emerson, either – here’s a guy who was so good that a guest spot on Lost was transformed into the central character on the show. But I wish the voters showed the love to Aaron Paul, Cranston’s co-lead on Breaking Bad, who had a (ahem) breakout year.

And speaking of breakouts…WTF was up with that “breakout moment of the year” polling? Those were the three most transcendent moments on television this year? Really? Did they limit the voting to people under the age of twelve? Not only was the gimmick itself distracting and juvenile, but the impact was…well, what’s the opposite of buzzworthy?

Some good presenter moments, too. Jimmy Fallon’s dance injury bit was great. Justin Timberlake after Sarah Silverman’s moustache shot (“That’s what hormones will do“). Ken Howard (The White Shadow!!) hoping his speech “doesn’t get interrupted by a Congressman or a rapper”, then cracking an opportune SAG joke. Amy Poehler and Julia Louis-Dreyfus smilingly confirming the end of broadcast television as a vital medium. Jessica Lange -a cougar even at 60-  saying parts (ahem)  “don’t come around that often for me anymore“. The always randy Dana Delaney  topping that with “I like a man who delivers week after week!” Bryan Cranston saying he’s thankful that Glenn Close is actually a woman. Tina Fey taking a well-deserved shot at NBC by thanking them for keeping 30 Rock on the air “even though its much more expensive than a talk show“.

Who would have thought that after their Super Bowl duet, Justin Timberlake would be so much more popular than Janet Jackson’s breast? I’m still not a fan of his music, but the guy is funny as hell and despite incredible fame seems to be pretty humble about it. If only more famous people took themselves less seriously.

Oh, wait. Then we wouldn’t have Award Shows. Never mind.

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Six Month Checkpoint

Seems like only yesterday that I started this exercise; hard to believe that six months are now in the books. Thanks for all the emails, comments and virtual high-fives, and a special thanks to the artists and labels who have submitted material for me to ingest and discuss. I’ve got a bit of a backlog of reviews to get up online, so I’m looking forward to a couple of off-days this weekend to hit the keyboard and get caught up. I’ll also be getting some confirmation on what is going into the magazines I write for, so if something doesn’t make the cut I can offer it here. 

Rest assured that I am trying to get through everything as quickly as possible while still allowing enough time to gain a proper perspective on the material. I’ve got some tremendous new albums and comedy CDs in the queue. I’m also almost ready to complete a feature article I’m very excited about, and I thank comedian Darren Frost for his patience. I think you’ll agree with me that he is a rare talent – irreverant but hilariously funny, and totally fearless.

Writing this blog/magazine doesn’t pay the bills;  nor is my goal to earn money or sell advertising. I do make an effort to add content daily, and I’m trying to remain true to my initial vision: write every day, write about what impacts me, spread the word about great pop culture and artists.

So thanks again to you for stopping by, and I hope you continue to do so for the next six months and beyond.

It's not always easy to get the word out, but I've always tried my best.

It's wasn't always easy to get the word out, but I've always tried my best. Thanks for the Internet, Al Gore!

I’ve resisted Twitter to date, mostly because I’ve seen how annoying it can be to receive critical information like “I’m having a sandwich” and “damn…looks like it might rain“, but I guess that would be up to me to control. I probably will launch it just so I can send an update when a new feature is online, although I suspect a feed might do that trick just as effectively (I’m experimenting with feeds offline). Until then, I hope you’ll continue to bookmark the site and pop in daily.

I don’t want to lock myself into a format, but I’ve gotten a lot of great feedback for the TGIF columns, so I will continue to alternate between comedy and music links to kick off each weekend. And the New Album, Under The Radar and Blast From The Past features will continue to stagger as appropriate; hopefully you’ll discover some new favorites or be encouraged to dust something off from your collection and enjoy it.

Six months, 183 posts, and I haven’t even had a Red Bull yet!

See you again tomorrow and every day thereafter.

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Remembering Bill Hicks

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Poster created by UK artist Ryse Hale

 “Bill Hicks–blowtorch, excavator, truth-sayer, and brain specialist, like a reverend waving a gun around. He will correct your vision. Others will drive on the road he built.” – Tom Waits

Bill Hicks didn’t suffer fools, gladly or otherwise. Like any good social critic, what fueled Bill’s ire was gullibility more than stupidity (although the latter took its shots as well). If you don’t think for yourself, you choose to follow, and certainly there are times and circumstances where that might be appropriate. But all of the time? And despite all logic and evidence to the contrary?

Take religion. Hundreds of sects, each claiming to have the one true path, most professing that should you not choose “the way” you are doomed. Nice benevolent God, right? If indeed only one religion is correct – assuming any are – what does that say to the faith of the others? And if they are all in fact pointing to variations of the same God…how many of them are so wrong in their conditions of belief? Why are people able to swear so forcefully to the abstract of religion, yet unable to comprehend the simplest, plainest truths when they are set in front of them?

One of Bill’s favorite topics was education, in that we should all seek to learn and be enlightened; satisfy our insatiable curiosity. One of my favorite routines had him being approached in a waffle house while reading a book. “Whatchu readin fer?”, drawled the observer. Not “what are you reading”, Bill said, “but what am I reading for?” “Hey everybody”, taunts the observer, “looks like we got us a reader!” Bill often railed that politicians in America could now do whatever they wanted to in broad daylight, and no one would revolt in the streets or form an organized protest. Everyone was fat drunk and happy in front of their televisions, their brains turned to mush and their priorities focused upon collecting the latest consumables, sheep in the meadow. Like George Carlin, he believed not so much that people were idiots as people behaved like idiots.

Of course, there were the cheap shots any condescending music fan will take, why are Hendrix and Joplin dead while Billy Ray Cyrus walks the Earth? Judgmental, certainly. Hilarious? Unquestionably. And even as a fan I would tire of his Goat Boy persona; I wondered if he was pushing the envelope in Andy Kaufmann fashion to get as close as he could to clearing the room before stopping (“how long are they willing to ride with me on this one?“).

But to me the heart and soul of Bill Hicks was his stubborn unwillingess to accept anything at face value. His keen observational skills and fearless mind would have you re-examining any topic he tossed out there; sometimes howling in collaborative laughter, other times challenged to take a pause and think about something from a new perspective…if you had the courage to do so. It’s always easier to shut up and go along for the ride. That’s why we will always need a Bill Hicks.

I would have loved to hear Bill’s take on the last fifteen years; the questioning of our government’s actions, the exposure and consequences of corporate greed, the ridiculous saturation of “reality television”. But it was not to be, and now the other beacon of truth, George Carlin, is also gone. There are nuggets of their fearlessness in Maher and Stanhope and Olbermann and Rock, but for me, Hicks and Carlin are on a special plateau with Lenny Bruce and Richard Pryor. I don’t know that I will see another one like them in my lifetime, but I know we need one now more than ever.

***

The world is like a ride at an amusement park. And when you choose to go on it, you think that it’s real, because that’s how powerful our minds are. And the ride goes up and down and round and round. It has thrills and chills, and it’s very brightly coloured, and it’s very loud and it’s fun for a while. Some people have been on the ride for a long time, and they begin to question: is this real, or is this just a ride? And other people have remembered, and they come back to us. They say “Hey! Don’t worry, don’t be afraid, ever, because, this is just a ride.” And we… kill those people. Ha ha ha. “Shut him up! We have a lot invested in this ride. Shut him up! Look at my furrows of worry. Look at my big bank account and family. This just has to be real.” It’s just a ride. But we always kill those good guys who try and tell us that, you ever notice that? And let the demons run amok. But it doesn’t matter because it’s just a ride. And we can change it anytime we want. It’s only a choice. No effort, no work, no job, no savings and money. A choice, right now, between fear and love. The eyes of fear want you to put bigger locks on your doors, buy guns, close yourselves off. The eyes of love, instead, see all of us as one. Here’s what you can do to change the world, right now, to a better ride. Take all that money that we spend on weapons and defense each year and instead spend it feeding, clothing and educating the poor of the world, which it would many times over, not one human being excluded, and we could explore space, together, both inner and outer, for ever, in peace… (Bill Hicks)

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Bill Hicks Returns To Earth

Whatchu readin fer?

Whatchu readin fer?

“Don’t it always seem to go/that you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone…”

Bill Hicks probably hated that Joni Mitchell song.

Hated everything about it, from the title to the symbolism to the warbly voice coming out of her angular face. But it’s the first thing I thought of when I realized that tomorrow is the fifteenth anniversary of his death. We take so much for granted, and then when it is taken away, we regret that we did not appreciate it more. It is still stunning to me that Bill Hicks was only 32 years old when he died. (Yet Billy Ray Cyrus still walks the Earth…)

There are tribute events in several cities around the world tonight and tomorrow. Click here for details.

I’ll post my own thoughts tomorrow, on the anniversary.

A word from Bill’s siteFebruary 26 will be Bill Hicks Day on Twitter…a day for Twitter users to post comments, quips, remembrances, musings, ponderances, jokes, and anything else Bill-related…a day devoted to the moments that remind us all of Bill, such as when we hear a news story or notice something in pop culture and wonder “What would Bill say?”…a special day to share with everyone your favourite Bill rants and truths, and to remember Bill’s vision…a day to tweet Bill’s quotes, your thoughts, links to Bill sites, links to sites that you think Bill would approve of or condemn…in short, a day to squeegee your tweeter! (To read everybody’s Bill Hicks Day tweets, go here and enter #billhicksday in the box)

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