Category Archives: saturday night live

The Robin Renee Blog Tour – Wrap-Up

Wrapping things up here on the Robin Renee Blog Tour, and I want to thank everyone involved. Special thanks goes out to all the folks who participated and helped with to tour, including, and not limited to, Shelley Szajner, Marie Gilbert, Becca Butcher, Patti O’Brien, Fran Metzman, Ray Cornwall, Andy Burns, the South Jersey Writers, the GAR! Podcast, Biff Bam Pop!, and especially to Robin Renee herself. You all rock, very hard! Thank you!

Here is a breakdown of the stops on the Blog Tour.

Robin Renee is interviewed by Shelley Szajner here about inspiration, Kirtan, and This..

Marie Gilbert runs down some of the places where Robin can be found on the internet here.

Becca Butcher gives her thoughts on the This. release here.

Here, I give a song by song review of This., along with Robin adding her thoughts and observations as well.

Patti O’Brien talks about Robin’s music, and then interviews her about her travels here.

We return to Welcome to Hell, where guest blogger Fran Metzman interviews Robin about her influences, inspirations, and creative process. See it here.

Over on the South Jersey Writers blog, Marie Gilbert returns to interview Robin about encouragement, inspiration, and the ups and downs of a music career.

Robin was a guest on The GAR! Podcast where discussion included DEVO, David Bowie, Saturday Night Live music moments, and the creative process. You can listen to the episode here.

And finally, you can go here for the Biff Bam Pop! interview with Robin Renee, with a few edits for space considerations showing up here.

Robin can be found at her website, and on her blog, and check out her music at CD Baby, and at iTunes. Follow her on Twitter here, and Like her Facebook page here.

And don’t forget about Robin’s terrific new single “All I Am,” now available at CD Baby, with 20% of the proceeds going to the You Will Rise Project.

Thank you, everyone!

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Lost Hits of the New Wave #26

“Jocko Homo” by DEVO

Over on The GAR! Podcast, as part of the Robin Renee Blog Tour, Ray and I interviewed Robin for about a half-hour or so. One of the things that came up in conversation was transformative moments in music on “Saturday Night Live.”

In those early seasons of the program I was exposed to many new musical experiences that shaped and influenced how I perceived music, and in the growing punk and new wave atmosphere of the late 1970s, “SNL” was full of new musical experiences. Both Robin and I were affected by an appearance by David Bowie. Ray talked about seeing Fishbone, although much later. I remember being amazed by Patti Smith, Elvis Costello, The Specials, The Clash, the B-52s, Gary Numan, and yes, DEVO.

I wouldn’t be as hardcore into the band as I was later in the Freedom of Choice and New Traditionalists years, but the visuals and sounds stayed with me. I was especially drawn to their cover of the Rolling Stones’ “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” and that it did what all covers should seek to do, overtake the original. I still to this day feel the DEVO version is superior to the Stones’.

Don’t forget to get over to garpodcast.com, and listen to the Robin Renee interview, and go to Biff Bam Pop! tomorrow for the next stop in the Blog Tour.

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.

Homeland

I’m a latecomer to this show. I tried watching it during its first season and just couldn’t get into it. My mom-in-law was enjoying it, so I gave it another shot, this time, getting through two episodes, and not digging it because I found t too predictable.

Then Emmy time came around just before the start of the second season of “Homeland.” The show was a big winner, and I had friends who were surprised I wasn’t watching, saying it was right in my television wheelhouse. I relented, and watched the whole first season streaming in about a week.

I was wrong. It’s really only predictable for about four episodes, after that I was irrevocably hooked. The second season has been as just as good as the first, something I wasn’t sure it could keep up.

There are problems however. The first was something I thought only I was seeing, but as a recent “Saturday Night Live” sketch brought to light, Claire Danes’ overacting and crazy unblinking eyes when having an anxiety attack skate the thin line between reality and over the top almost to the point of laughing out loud. Her crazy face jumps the shark every time she makes it.

Brody’s daughter is the current equivalent of the daughter in “24,” where you have to ask, why do we care? It’s subplot just for the sake of subplot, rather than efficient storytelling. These last two points make me wonder if we’ll get a third season despite how amazing everything else on the show is.

Time will tell. Despite what I’ve said, I’m glued to my TV every Sunday night.

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 Kirshner 1934-2011

One of America’s greatest music producers, and a driving force in popular music for decades, Don Kirshner, passed away yesterday from heart failure in Boca Raton, Florida. He was 76.

I think it’s sad that there are probably generations who don’t even know his name, or if they do, it’s because of late night infomercials, or they think he’s a character Paul Shaeffer played on “Saturday Night Live.” Of course they are other generations, before the advent of MTV, who know the man and his contributions.

Kirshner was instrumental in starting the careers of numerous songwriters in the 1960s with his “Brill Building” school, where friend and producer Phil Specter also worked. ‘Graduates’ included Carole King, Neil Sedaka, Neil Diamond, Howard Greenfield, and Gerry Goffin. Together they scored dozens and dozens of hits, before they went on to have careers of their own, while Kirshner himself started several record labels and moved on into television. Known as “The Man with the Golden Ear,” he was one of the folks who created the Monkees, as well as the cartoon Archies, both groups prefabricated, and he also discovered many ‘real’ music acts as well like Bobby Darin and Kansas.

Kirshner was also a 1970s fixture on Sunday late nights with his legendary “Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert.” There he introduced many acts to America for the first time like Prince, Blue Oyster Cult, Earth Wind and Fire, Parliament Funkadelic, the Sex Pistols, Alice Cooper, Rush, Linda Ronstadt, KISS, Ted Nugent, David Bowie, and the Ramones, just to name a few of the hundreds who appeared on the program. The series, which ran from 1973-1981, was notable for being live and not allowing acts to lipsync, a widespread curse of the 1970s. We didn’t have MTV, we had Don.

We have lost one of the true geniuses of the music industry, he will be missed.

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Bridesmaids

Bridesmaids ~ This is so not my kind of movie, and really the first half-hour of it bore that out. I had been told this was a female version of the Hangover movies. I was told it was vulgar and hilarious. I was told it was a chick flick. And I was told that Melissa McCarthy of TV’s “Mike and Molly” was hysterically funny in it. Maybe only one and half of these things ended up being true.

I despise Kristen Wiig. I count her as one of the most unfunny folks in recent memory on “Saturday Night Live.” Had I known she was the star of this flick, I would have clicked delete in the Netflix queue on this baby. Watching Bridesmaids, I have to say I didn’t think I could dislike Kristen Wiig more, but I would be wrong. Actually I think I might have enjoyed this a lot more if someone like, say, Laura Linney had been the lead.

The real surprise of Bridesmaids is Chris O’Dowd from “The IT Crowd,” here playing a semi-serious role as Wiig’s wannabe relationship. He’s quite good in a role so different from the one we’re used to. Franklin Ajaye and Jill Clayburgh, in her last screen appearance are good too. Also look for an uncredited Jon Hamm, and Wilson Phillips as themselves. And yes, Melissa McCarthy is definitely the reason to see this flick.

As I mentioned it started slow, painfully slow, but once we had the gross out scenes in the Brazilian restaurant and the bridal shop, and Wiig and O’Dowd got together, it wasn’t bad. It wasn’t much like I had been told it was, but it wasn’t bad. Definitely worth a rental or pay per view.

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The Invention of Lying

The Invention of Lying ~ When Ricky Gervais is on, he’s really on. And I think it really helps that he co-wrote and co-directed this. Sadly it just doesn’t come together as well as it should.

The premise of a world where no one lies gets old rather quickly when it’s just two people alone, but blossoms in the voiceover narrative and with other actors in the mix. And that just about covers Gervais’ and Jennifer Garner’s first date. It’s a bizarre mix of Liar Liar and What Women Want that never lives up to its potential. And of course, unlike those two films, this one is somewhat funny.

There are lots of guest stars and intriguing cameos like Rob Lowe, Tina Fey, Jason Bateman, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Louie CK, and of course Barry from “Eastenders.” The ads within the movie for Coke and Pepsi are hilarious, as is ‘The Sad Place for Hopeless Old people.’ Sorry, it’s funny because it’s true.

When lying is invented by Gervais’ character halfway through the movie, it’s not as funny as it should be – but rather heartwarming, and I’m not sure that’s what was intended. The humor only lasts for a few moments before turning into one of those “Saturday Night Live” skits that never ends. Much of this film feels that way sadly.

The Invention of Lying has the same trouble that most of Ricky Gervais’ films have – that schizophrenia of trying to be a drama with comedic overtones when it should just be a comedy. Too much philosophy and not enough jokes. Worth watching, but it could have been much better.

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Don’t Take Chris Farley’s Fries

One for the Dogs

Year of the Dog ~ Writer/director Mike White runs hot and cold for me. While I kinda liked his School of Rock (probably more for Jack Black who was in his prime at the time), I absolutely hated his The Good Girl. The latter even put me off of Jennifer Aniston for a while. Even when White was on “The Amazing Race” with his dad I was rooting more for his dad than him. Hmmm, I guess I don’t even like him as a person. I guess that’s why I approached his Year of the Dog with trepidation.

We’re not starting off a good foot at all this time as I also dislike Molly Shannon, the film’s star. I thought her armpit-sniffing Superstar girl was one of the lowlights in SNL history, and she’s done little since to change my mind about her talent, or lack thereof. This flick does little to change my mind about Shannon or White.

What begins as a quirky drama about a socially inept woman coping with the loss of a pet becomes a long boring study of a mentally unstable woman obsessed with helping animals. If White wanted to give the SPCA and PETA a bad name, he succeeds. What could be heartwarming light comedy is ultimately more Good Girl than School of Rock. Don’t waste your time, Marley and Me this is sooo not.

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