Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Mit Pan's People!

If Jacques Dutronc isn't your hero already he will be after you see this clip from a sixties mind-control experiment / german variety show.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Larry "Bud" Melman, R.I.P.

I don't watch David Letterman much anymore, but when I was younger I watched him pretty religiously. He was one of my TV comedy gods, along with SCTV. I cottoned onto Letterman very early on, when he had a daytime talk show on NBC in the late seventies. These were the days before VCRs, so I would watch the show while holding a microphone up to the TV and into a cassette recorder, stifling my laughter for posterity's sake and then listening to the tapes over and over again. I wrote a letter to the network when the show was cancelled, replaced by two game shows, Las Vegas Gambit and Blockbusters!

Letterman spent most of career trying to be the heir to Johnny Carson, but in reality he was the new Ernie Kovacs. It's striking to look back at clips from the early days, as I have been since hearing of the passing this week of one of his regular go-to weirdos - Larry "Bud" Melman (real name Calvert DeForest). How bizarre and innovative this show was. Compare this to, say, Jimmy Kimmel trying to be surreal.

Larry was a gigantic muffin - a little old man straight out of a Drew Friedman panel, with a tiny voice, giant spectacles and a sense of timing that seemed to be transmitting from Mars - always a second or two behind, and always chipper about it.

Here's a typical set-up; Larry welcoming arrivals at the Port Authority terminal with hot towels. For no reason. For five minutes.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


French Pop Wednesday BONUS BEATS, thanks to Colin!

Perfect triangulation. A 19 year old Isabelle Adjani repelling the advances of Sasha Distel to the tune of Serge Gainsbourg, a made to order tune no less.

Go Big Or Go Home!

Last night was an epic Bad Night Out At The Movies, or Night Out At the Bad Movies...not only did we go see 300 at the newly-christened Scotiabank Theatre (henceforth to be referred to as the Mount Scotia - catchier, like the Mount Pleasant. All right? Pass it on!) we saw it IN IMAX. And we actually went to the bar at the theatre beforehand.

The last time I went to a movie at the IMAX theatre was the only slightly campier Siegfried and Roy: The Magic Box in 3-D; before the movie that night they hit us with a laser light show of jet engine takeoff simulation and some of 1998's finest corporate-friendly techno with a standard-issue announcer voice pointing out the giant speakers behind the giant screen. I'm happy to report they haven't updated the light show in 7 years except for a bunch of spinning Cineplex logos thrown on right at the end, which of course, set off the laughing jags in my section that continued all the way through the ridiculous 300 - a true spectacle of kitsch, full of Chiclet-teethed slabs of beef screaming at faggy Persians when it's not just a giant Matrix-y, Hero-ey blob of Chav-friendly ultraviolence, as enjoyable as watching someone else play XBox for two hours.

The speech that closes the film is a nasty bit of pro-war propaganda as unsubtle in its way as anything that ever came out of North Korea, aimed at draft-aged American males (and their little brothers) who got to spend their formative years in the shadow of 9/11 - Starship Troopers was at least kidding as it ladled out the fascist eyecandy!

Voulez-Vous Danser, Mam'zell?

French Pop Wednesdays presents some ultra-rare Gainsbourg this week - a clip from the 1972 Claude Berri comedy Le Sex Shop. Lots of Gainsbourg's prolific soundtrack work has been released over the years but I've heard hardly anything hailing from this film, with a breakbeat-heavy score composed by Serge and arranged by the mighty Jean-Claude Vannier. This should be a revelation to most Serge-heads out there.

(Nice upload, victorkiswell!)

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Cat Power

French Pop Wednesday breaks out the cat microphone this week and passes it off to Pussy Cat - "C'est Ne Pas Une Vie" she says, but I don't believe her.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Karle Pyar Karle

They should show this video at confidence-building courses. It's Helen from the 1969 Bollywood film Talash, presenting a masterclass in Working The Room.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Spanning Time

So the United States rolled Daylight Saving Time three weeks ahead of schedule and extended it for one week into early November (you know - for the farmers! I mentioned this to a friend of mine today and they said "There aren't any farmers anymore!").

This is very good news for:
Big Oil (now people won't need to have their headlights on as much on their nightly commute, allowing them to spend the money they saved on more gas)

Big Retail (now people can go shopping after work because it's not dark yet)

Big Candy (now there is one more hour of daylight to maximize Halloween trick-or-treating).

But how else can America maximize the clock and the sun to supersize sales in the future? You can only move the little hand around on the clock so many times a year before you mess everything up for everyone.

1. Slowing Down the Rotation of the Earth. The 2004 earthquake in Indonesia that set off the tsunami actually affected the axis and speed of the Earth's rotation, decreasing the length of that day enough that they had to tack another second onto the atomic clock in 2005 to make up for it. If America could figure out how to make the planet slow down even if to buy us all another minute a year, this would provide the consumer almost immeasurable purchasing opportunities annually. I should think all they would have to do would be to set some nukes off towards the Earth's core.

2. Imposing Domestic Curfews. Now people will get home from work with the things they bought on their way home and amuse themselves into the night with them. This will create an unexpected draw on energy as people stay up late, keeping all their lights on. If the country were to impose a law wherein 9 to 5 types be at home by 11 (lights out at 1130) this would not only save energy, but it would also promote normal sleeping habits for the working population, increasing productivity. Productive workers would be happy workers, off shopping after work. In economics this is known as a delicious circle.

3. Study That Movie 'The Core'
Best part of the trailer:
General: "How do we fix it?"
Eckhart: "We can't."
Tucci: "What if we could?"
Now that is the can-do attitude that's going to pull us all out of this.

Megatron once tried to harness the energy of the Earth's core for evil purposes. America has an opportunity to carry on Megatron's work, with sexy results!

Thursday, March 08, 2007


Welcome to the EC, Bitch!


Ahh, youth.

The Eaton Centre Cineplex was the first mega-multiplex theatre in the world. There were 18 screens when it opened in 1979, expanding to 21 a few years later. When the place first opened it was more of an art-house theatre, classy, subtitled movies for the most part, plus a running selection of retrospective fare. When I was a kid I went to see Casablanca, The Public Enemy, The Treasure of the Sierra the summers they would have two-for-one James Bond double bills, shown in chronological pairs every week. But in the early eighties, they dropped the rep programming, moved the artsy shit over to the Carlton and turned the place into your classic eighties mall multiplex. New movies and big hits held over indefinitely.

It was a very depressing place to see a movie. The theatres originally had rear-screen projection, so they would bounce the movie off a mirror behind the screen. To me the picture always looked distorted when screened this way. Most of the screening rooms were claustrophobic, more like an interrogation room out of '1984' than a movie theatre. 50 seats, bad sound and mysterious stains on the screen. And the place was a bit of a maze.

Eventually I realized the unappealing conditions in the theatre were conducive to enjoying incredibly bad movies - I would go down there with friends on $2.50 Tuesday without having consulted the listings first. We would look up at the marquee, determine the worst film playing that night, and buy tickets. We saw Justine Bateman's Satisfaction using this method - it was showing on two screens and one show was sold out; for our showing we had the place to ourselves, in one of the theatres in the basement. It was like a private viewing.

I saw many hysterical James Woods films there, like The Boost and Cop. Carl Weathers in Action Jackson. Every Golan-Globus film playing at the Eaton Centre was a must see, like Invasion USA with Chuck Norris, Lifeforce or Street Smart. It was there I was introduced to the genius of Steven Seagal.

Towards the last days of the Eaton Centre Cineplex I guess they couldn't get away with charging first-run prices anymore so they changed the place into a bargain-priced theatre where month-old movies would go to die. Tickets were at one point $1.50 any time, which transformed the place into a trouble magnet for downtown hustlers, weirdos and cheapskates whose predecessors used to be able to hang out as long as they wanted in Yonge Street grindhouses like the Rio (4 Big Hits!) or the Coronet. ($1.50 is the cheapest hotel rate in town. And there are movies in your room. Too bad check-out time was at midnight - the Rio gave you till 5 AM.)

Anyway when I realized it was funner and cheaper to go to the Eaton Centre to watch Supernova, Double Jeopardy or Deep Blue Sea than it was to rent the DVD (plus you're surrounded by sociopaths!) I started going there more often, though it was getting bleaker and bleaker to be there. I was convinced Cineplex would keep running the place until the last lightbulb burned out, which must have happened in 2001. The last movie I saw in there was Coyote Ugly. The theatre, perhaps rightly, smelled of urine that afternoon.

Does anyone know how the multiplex rear-screen projection system at the Eaton Centre operated? It must have been insane.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

I Have Your Daughter

French Pop Wednesdays is in a race against time to out-think a master criminal at his own game. A game of cat-and-mouse. And when the cat's away...the mice will play!

Most kidnappers just leave a crude ransom note for their victims to discover. But in France it's much more psychological. Sometimes the kidnappers will film cryptic, sleazy, taunting music videos of them cavorting with the hostage, then demand that they be aired on a variety show, or else! In this one, France Gall looks blonder than ever - chalk it up to the Stockholm Syndrome. Not sure if her family paid up, or if he just wound up being her Svengali.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

It's Being A Slice

Alliance-Atlantis has rebranded their lifestyle channel The Life Network, adjusting the format overnight as if it was a radio station. I had assumed the name change was at the behest of Time Warner (who you would think must have the rights to a channel called Life) but no, they've reimagineered the channel as simply Slice™ - "guilty pleasure" TV for young women - reality shows, makeover miracles, gossip and shopping. This rebranding is merely a chemical peel - the existing Life Network's programming schedule is fairly identical to what Slice™ offers.

Here is a list of the names Alliance was considering for this new channel - 100% true!
1. Girly TV
2. Sassafras
3. Tickle TV
4. The Jaunty Network
5. Go Girl
6. You Go Girl
7. Lahdeedah

What is Slice™? The people at Alliance-Atlantis will tell you.
"We went and talked to women about what they really wanted to watch on TV and what we heard was that they wanted TV that was confident, irreverent, and just pure entertainment, that simply addictive stuff that allows them to escape for the moment from a day that is filled with everyone else's needs,"
It is pretty hard to find this kind of programming on television, I will admit.
“The key to Slice™ shows is this – do they satisfy a guilty pleasure? Will viewers laugh, love the characters, hate the characters, yell at the screen? If yes, they have a spot on Slice™...With an original blend of the hottest competition formats and docu-soaps, Slice™ programming will be unapologetically entertaining, generating water cooler conversations week after week and we have no doubt viewers will be completely riveted.”
Thank God - no more talk about the war from Brenda Bringdown over at the water cooler.

But for all this aggressive Planet Normalcy, I detect at the same time a pinch, a soup├žon of sociopathic hipster irreverence driving the marketing campaign...not only is the slogan "My Vice is Slice™" but also the series of subway posters are shocking in their open contempt towards the commuting demographic - pictures of slack-jawed female cubicle dweller types with cruel captions underneath announcing their ignorance, such as: "If I wanted to feel smarter, I'd watch a book."

Example photo to come.

Thursday, March 01, 2007