Category Archives: adam sandler

The Robin Renee Blog Tour, Odds and Ends

Hi folks, it’s been a long journey the past week and a half on the Robin Renee Blog Tour. Tonight, I wanted to share a few odds and ends that had to be edited for space in yesterday’s interview with Robin at Biff Bam Pop!. Here you go, enjoy!

Robin on Covers

We both have a deep love of covers, and I wanted to say that your quiet subtle version of Nick Lowe’s “Cruel to be Kind” is beautiful. What made you decide to do this song?

Robin Renee: Well, there’s a funny story. When I was in junior high school, I had a Ouija board. When my parents found out, they got all mad and took it away, thinking something evil would come through it or something. After that, I was pissed off and determined to have a Ouija board. I decided to make one by writing out all the letters on a chalkboard I had (in heavy pencil or some kind of ink). Next, I needed an indicator. I had the 45 record of “Cruel to be Kind.” I loved that song, but wasn’t crazy about whatever song was on the B-side, so I wound up using the record as the Ouija indicator with the B-side scratching against the board.

Devo Dan

Wacky story, right? But unforgettable. So first, “Cruel to be Kind” is just a quintessentially great pop song. I was also a rather precocious person and was a bit interested in BDSM, so I liked the song title for that possible construed meaning. And finally, the song will forever be linked to that funny Ouija board memory for me. I guess when I made the All Six Senses album, it was just time to record a new take on this classic tune.

Robin on Devo Dan

Now you have done other covers of another type. Do you want to talk about Devo Dan?

Robin Renee: Devo Dan… Strange you should ask me about Devo Dan. From time to time, some people have told me I kind of look like him and some think I sound like him. I don’t really get it. But I finally looked him up and I like it a lot! It’s kind of synth pop meets the smooth sounds of the 70’s, or something like that. I found his story here and my favorite Devo Dan song is here.

Robin on the Mutant Mountain Boys

How about the Mutant Mountain Boys?

Robin Renee: I absolutely love being part of the Mutant Mountain Boys! We come from all over the country, so we get together when we can. The band is the brainchild of Samantha, whose musical favorites are Devo and Charlie Poole. She put the two together, added some Church of the Subgenius, and Presto! You’ve got a Devo-gone-bluegrass, SubG gospel band! We have so much fun, and I really hope we can figure out a way to get together and play more often. We need some nerds and geeks to invite us to play their favorite venues and conventions (hint, hint).

Check out “Look Away from the Pinks” and a few other Mutant Mountain Boys tunes.

Robin on the Holidays

You have also released a couple terrific and unique holiday songs over the years, “(Almost Had A) Holiday,” “The Yule Song,” and “Hare Krishna Christmas.” What can you tell us about these great tunes, and especially the video for that last one?

Robin Renee: I know, I didn’t set out to have a tradition of releasing holiday songs, but it seems a trend has started! Who knows – maybe there’ll be a holiday album one of these days that includes the tunes already recorded plus some more from various traditions. “The Yule Song” is to the tune of Adam Sandler’s “The Chanukah Song,” and it kind of serves the same humorous and serious function for those of us who celebrate Yule, or Winter Solstice in the Pagan traditions. “(Almost Had A) Holiday” is actually an original song I first recorded with a band I used to be in called The Loved Ones. It is upbeat, but about planning a perfect holiday with a partner only to have a breakup and wind up somewhere far away. It’s a fairly true-to-life song, and the cool thing about it is it’s come full circle – After many years apart, I have started spending Christmas Eves with that ex and his family. It’s a nice shift.

I wrote “Hare Krishna Christmas” (“Holly Jolly Christmas” parody) around the time I was first getting deeply into kirtan and bhakti. It was Christmastime and I was just in this really intense place of diving into something new while trying to uphold all the traditional stuff and holiday obligations. So, I was kind of laughing at myself and that song just came out while I was doing my holiday decorating. For the video, I asked friends to send me all kinds of holiday pictures, I had a few, and we used some royalty-free images, too, to come up with something kind of funny and also clearly embracing all winter holiday traditions.

Robin on Her Background

If I’m not intruding, could you tell us about your upbringing?

Robin Renee: I was born a poor, black child (Somehow that line was funnier when Steve Martin said it.)

But seriously, folks… you aren’t intruding at all. It is a ginormous question, though. I grew up in Southern New Jersey and I was lucky in that my interest in music showed up pretty early and my parents were very supportive of that. They also encouraged my interest in science and I got to travel since I was fairly young, which I really appreciate. My parents are (were, actually – they are both deceased) my maternal grandmother and her second husband, who raised me from the beginning and adopted me when I was about five. She was black and he was white, so I had a completely biracial upbringing, though it took me a long time to recognize that as a big part of my identity. I’m really happy I understand that now. They had an interracial marriage several years before Loving v. Virginia, and while it was not illegal in New Jersey, I think it was courageous of them and probably wasn’t always easy early on.

There was always a lot of music in the house, and my parents were pretty metaphysical in their outlook. They were Christian, and also into Edgar Cayce, so I learned about meditation and other broad and alternative spiritual perspectives early on. My brother was there, then off at college & other travels, but we grew to have certain things in common like some musical tastes and love of cartoons. My grandmother (i.e. biological great-grandmother) lived with us, too, and she really was the overriding mother figure. I have often reflected that I think my relationship to Grandmom has been the purest of my life – there was just so much love without complication. My mom was pretty political, so I probably inherited the activist gene from her. Of course there is so much more, but I’m not sure what else I could say without writing a book here.

Robin on Wigheads

Tell us about Wigheads.

Robin Renee: I kinda have no idea. I love them. I find mannequins in general to be strangely compelling and beautiful – maybe that’s the New Wave/Gary Wilson aesthetic. Somewhere along the line, something moved me and I discovered that wig display heads are my canvas for now. I love making 3-D collages with them, and as I work it’s as if they start to tell me their story. Songs and other writings do that, too – they change and grow in the process. I’d like to make more wigheads, and to make photographs from them. I have a lot of other practical and artistic projects that seem to be ahead in line, but I haven’t forgotten them. One day, I’d love to do commissioned wighead works, like create them for clubs and other interesting spaces.

More to come!

Going Overboard

Going Overboard ~ I used to use Adam Sandler as a litmus test for how bad a movie was. I really hated his early work that much. This flick is his earliest, his first, and the one that Adam Sandler wants you to forget. I really don’t blame him.

Sandler is a gawky cruise ship waiter with a bad jewfro who wants to be the ship’s comedian after the real one drops dead. His routine is that of a bad Catskills comic from the sixties, and he acts like a whiny and unfunny Jerry Lewis clone when off stage.

Billy Zane, Milton Berle, Terry Moore and in an early cameo, Billy Bob Thornton all embarrass themselves in this mess that was filmed entirely on a cruise ship, with the wrong lenses. Thankfully for them, and unluckily for me, Sandler and Burt Young are on the screen the most. The ‘heavy metal’ band, I think called Croaker, that sings “I’m gonna slap your cat, upside his head” is probably the only real laugh in the whole movie.

Wow, this sucked. Now I remember why I hated Adam Sandler so much years ago.

Hotel Transylvania

Hotel Transylvania ~ I gotta be up front with this one. It’s not bad, but honestly I was expecting so much more from Genndy Tartakovsky’s first foray into big screen animation. “Samurai Jack,” “Dexter’s Laboratory” and especially the most recent “Sym-Biotic Titan” are among my faves on Cartoon Network. Yeah, I know he also worked on “Star Wars: Clone Wars,” but let’s get real, it is sooo not in the same league.

Hotel Transylvania is not bad, but it’s not that good either. Simplistic, and borrowing more than a little from Rankin/Bass’ Mad Monster Party? from decades ago, it struggles more than it needs to by using the voice talents (and I use the word ‘talent’ very loosely) of Adam Sandler as Dracula. It’s like listening to Sandler’s annoying Opera Man voice for almost two hours. Where there’s Sandler, there’s also Kevin James as Frankenstein, as well as a cornucopia of unfunny “Saturday Night Live” veterans.

This one is good for the kids, but might be a bit much to take for the adults. Be warned, the end breaks into a rap celebration that must be missed. Embarrassing for all involved. Seeing Steve Buscemi involved in this movie tells me he owes somebody a big favor, or he needs to fire his agent. As for Genndy Tartakovsky, his next project is rumored to be a big budget animated Popeye. I’m hoping for the best, and not more of this.

Don’t Take Chris Farley’s Fries

Ken Ober Dead at 52

Ken Ober, best known as the host of MTV’s game-changing gameshow “Remote Control,” has died at the age of 52. The show also featured early work by Adam Sandler, Kari Wuhrer, Denis Leary and Colin Quinn, as well as bringing the wonders of “Gilligan’s Island” and “The Brady Bunch” to a whole new generation. In recent years Ober had produced television series like “Mind of Mencia” and “The New Adventurers of Old Christine.”

Bookmark and Share

Quickies 8-3-2009

Imagine That ~ This is actually pretty good, imagine that. Unlike Adam Sandler who I really don’t care for, I like Eddie Murphy. Like Adam Sandler however, Eddie keeps making terrible films. When The Bride wanted to see this new one, I just groaned but went along just cuz I love her and all – but I was relatively sure I was not going to enjoy it. Surprise! And a pleasant one too. Imagine That is a feel-good little family film. It’s a tad predictable and requires a bit of that old suspension of disbelief from the adults, but still a lot of fun. Great Beatles cover soundtrack too.

American Zombie ~ A cool concept of a documentary made about zombies in a world where they have integrated into society. It moves swiftly from funny art school hi-jinks with a camera to Blair Witch-esque horror to conspiracy theories. Just when you think it’s run its course the film changes form like a basilisk. More intriguing and compelling than it deserves to be.

I Hate Valentine’s Day ~ More anti-chick flick chick flick entertainment from Nia Varadalos. She seems to excel on using the formula while bringing a new twist or touch to it. This one, written and directed by Nia, reunites her with My Big Fat Greek Wedding co-star John Corbett. Cliched but fun, definitely worth seeing.

Knowing ~ More of Nicholas Cage playing himself flawlessly in a one note flick. Unimpressive, despite the intriguing premise, but the disaster scenes are pretty cool though. It’s a shame the rest of the film doesn’t match up. For a movie about predicting the future, this was just waaay too predictable.

Pauly Shore Is Dead ~ Probably the best Pauly Shore film ever, period. Smarter and funnier than it should be – if only it had an ending.

Bookmark and Share

My Secret Shame

Paul Blart: Mall Cop ~ Often when I’m writing I will have the TV on as background noise. For fiction I usually require a soundtrack or a playlist, but non-fiction I just need background noise. In the afternoons I set the channel and just leave it run – turns out by cosmic design or just dumb luck I have involuntarily absorbed quite a lot of “The King of Queens.” It seemed like the show was always on, too, whether it was TBS or the CW, its programming was almost endless. The scary part, and this is confession time here, folks, I started to like the show. Yes, it’s true, Kevin James grew on me like a fungus.

So when I started seeing ads and previews for Paul Blart: Mall Cop, aired conveniently during the show that’s always on, “The King of Queens,” my interest was more than piqued. Yeah, as bad as it looked, I wanted to see it. This is my secret shame. I waited until it hit DVD so I wouldn’t feel so dirty.

It’s not bad, one might even say it’s good. Don’t get me wrong, we’re not talking Citizen Kane here, folks. We’re not even talking Mothra Vs. Godzilla, but it’s a matter of expectations. Mall Cop has that warning label on it, you know, the one that says this is a Happy Madison film, indicating that Adam Sandler was involved – always a bad sign.

As far as expectations go, I was fairly correct in my assessment as the movie started. It’s so formulaic and almost painful to watch – until – until it becomes Die Hard in a mall. And I’m not saying “Die Hard in a mall” the way those pitchmen in Hollywood would try to get a flick made – but I mean it in a literal way. Paul Blart: Mall Cop truly is Die Hard in a mall. And I just don’t mean if the bad guys were acrobats on X-bikes and Bruce Willis is a fat guy on a segueway.

Mall Cop follows its inspiration in plot and theme and at moments in duplicating shots. It’s really something to behold. It’s like watching Mel Brooks pay tribute to old movies, there’s a respect that is truly sincere. Again, Paul Blart: Mall Cop is not a great film, but as far as expectations go, it’s a good film. Check it out if there’s nothing else on.

Bookmark and Share

Bedtime Stories


Bedtime Stories ~ While a serviceable family film merging Adam Sandler and Disney into one big holiday package, it still has the stench of an Adam Sandler movie on its own.

It is a barely entertaining flick whose worse component is Sandler trying shove all of his usual trademark antics from previous movies into this one. And while the special effects are sometimes impressive, it’s a sad day when the effects come first and seem to have the story retrofitted around them. Courtney Cox is the best thing in this character-wise, and she’s hardly in it.

I guess after a few okay flicks, I have to go back to hating Adam Sandler again.

The Wedding Singer – On Stage

I recently saw the Broadway version of “The Wedding Singer,” one of the few Adam Sandler films that I like. The production in question was not the cool one on Broadway that features one of my favorite performers, Stephen Lynch, in the title role, but a touring version at Harrahs in Atlantic City. I wasn’t really expecting much but was very pleasantly surprised.

The show is actually a fun time trip back to the 1980s, specifically 1985, but the in-jokes and references span the whole decade. The original songs are energetic and fun, some bearing a neat resemblance to the actual 80s songs from the Sandler flick. Of note are “Come Out of the Dumpster” and “Casualty of Love.”

The thing that struck me the most odd, and I had to wonder how many of the audience got the jokes and references in the show because of their age. You could tell how many people had lived through the 1980s at a relevant age by the laughs, but for the most part – this being a show at a casino – the audience was full of blue hairs, walkers and canes. I can’t for the life of me believe they enjoyed, or understood “The Wedding Singer” even a little bit.

For me however, it was a surprising and entertaining time. Recommended, even at a casino.

Quickies 8-31-2008


This Filthy World ~ This one-man show with cult movie writer and director John Waters was directed by Jeff Garlin. Basically Waters is just let loose on a stage and he talks, and talks, and talks. That’s not to disparage him at all, he’s absolutely mesmerizing, and his knowledge of film, both pop and obscure is unparalleled.

Among the subjects he touches on in this 86-minute extravaganza are film, books, teaching, Jackie O, his early movies, drugs, Michael Jackson, bears, capital punishment, Liz Renee, Divine, kids, juvenile delinquency, homophobes, fans, the mainstream, Baltimore and movies he’d like to make. He also talks a bit about Kenneth Anger, Andy Warhol and for those of us in the Philadelphia area, the infamous Uncle Ed.

My favorite quote from the show: ”Even Divine had his limits. The first time he met Richard Simmons he felt homophobic.” This is a must-see.

I Love Your Work ~ Does Giovanni Ribasi ever not put in an Oscar caliber performance? And does Jason Lee almost always shine in roles with just a touch of creepy in them? These two are just a couple from the superior cast that make this very slick piece on stalking, paparazzi, and the dark side of Hollywood such a great film. What it lacks in story and character it more than makes up for in brilliant direction and cinematography. I Love Your Work was co-written and directed by Adam Goldberg, of Hebrew Hammer fame, and is recommended.