Friday, October 28, 2005

FOUND A JOB (no, not me)

As I’ve mentioned, I’m an archivist. I’ve been recording stuff off of the tee vee for decades. I first sat a portable Panasonic tape recorder in front of the set to record skits from Saturday Night Live, old Bugs Bunny cartoons, episodes of WKRP in Cincinnati.... when I got a VCR, I started videotaping. For the most part, I haven’t taped too much in the past years, but that may change now that I got a DVD Recorder.

Since the beginning, I’ve labelled my TV compilations “Found a Job,” after the Talking Heads song on their second album, More Songs About Buildings and Food. "Found a Job” is about a couple, Bob and Judy, who write for television (“Judy’s in the bedroom inventing situations / Bob is on the street today scouting up locations / They’ve enlisted all their families / they’ve enlisted all their friends / it helped save their relationship / and made it work again”)

I’ve spent too much time over the past few weeks putting together the latest incarnation of Found a Job. At first, I was determined to just keep the cream, no-brainers like I, Martin Short, Goes Hollywood, Steve Martin’s 1980 NBC special, Comedy is Not Pretty and Good Grief, Charlie Brown! A Tribute to Charles Schulz, which aired on CBS the night before he died.

But as I was digitizing sometimes fuzzy video, the relative permanence of the DVD format got to me. I’d be fast forwarding past something I didn’t think I wanted to keep anymore.... like the Saturday Night Live 15th Anniversary Special.... and I’d suddenly realize that I wanted to save Dan Aykroyd and Jim Belushi’s angry, poignant introduction to the John Belushi tribute from that special. Watching a few minutes of Wilco on Hard Rock Live from 1996 reminded me why they used to be one of my favorite bands.

I’ve got a number of themed series. In addition to the catch-all Found a Job, there’s Comic Book TV, a Christmas Comp (which will make the Xmas Video Party so much easier this year), NRV (which stands for “Noisy Rock Videos”) and a few collections of shows that don’t seem destined for DVD, like Dr. Katz, really old Late Night clips and the remainder seasons of Larry Sanders.

Of course, making the covers for these things takes almost as much time as dubbing them. God forbid I just jot the track listing on a piece of paper and stick it in the case. That just wouldn’t do. At least I’ve come up with a template that I’ll re-use, saving me a lot of time (no, really, that’s not just a rationalization....).

Anyway. Another distraction. Here we go. More later. Happy Hallowe’en.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

I am Seymour

Man, some of you people took that “goddamn ball player” thing personally. Which I guess was my point. Derek Jeter may well be the finest man to ever walk the face of the Earth. He means nothing to me. On the other hand, while I am well aware he is a fictional character, Superman... well, Superman matters (in case you hadn’t noticed). Feel free to mock yer socks off.

My point is, sports fanaticism is not only tolerated in our society, it’s encouraged. It’s normal. Being a comic book fan is still and always something that’s barely tolerated, more often outright scorned and ridiculed. That’s why I took the mocking of “Kal-El” personally. Let’s move on.

ENID: You are like, the luckiest guy in the world. I would kill to have all this stuff.
SEYMOUR: Please. Go ahead and kill me.
ENID: Oh, come on. What are you talking about?
SEYMOUR: You think it’s healthy to obsessively collect things? You can’t connect with other people, so you fill your life with stuff. I’m just like all the rest of these pathetic collector losers.

The collector in me has resurfaced lately, and I’m not happy about it. I blame it on disposable income combined with a lack of responsibilities and that disconnectedness Seymour mentioned. But I think I’ve shaken it off. Except for recordable DVDs (oh, yes, the day has come).

I will cop to being really bitter and angry lately, though. I’ve waded knee-deep into serious nihilism and it’s a chilly, fetid swamp (as opposed to the warming waters of my usual cynicism tinged with hopefulness). I don’t like it in here. I’m going to try to find my way out. In the meantime, hide yer kids, dogs and wimmens (there’s shrapnel flying).

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Kal-El. Lorelai. Johnson. Fun.

So, I received quite a few e-mails and text messages from friends, all chuckling over the big celebrity news this week. Yes, Nicolas Cage named his son Kal-El. Yes, ha ha, the kid’s gonna get beaten up at school (as if the son of Nicolas Cage is going to go to public school instead of some private school with other overprivileged kids who will no doubt have stupid names and too much money as well). But y’know what? I think it’s fine. It’s better than “Dylan” or “Madison” or naming your kid after a goddamn ball player. I’d rather name my kid after Superman than Derek Jeter any day. Not that I’m ever going to have kids... but that’s another issue.

Speaking of Superman, the season premiere of Smallville contained more than one element that warmed geeky cockles. The Fortress of Solitude was one (although did anyone else notice the lack of John Williams music that’s accompanied every other aspect of Smallville that related to Superman: the Movie? I’m guessing Superman Returns has that music all locked up). Chloe’s talk with Clark about him being “more than a hero” where she said, “If more people were like you, the world would be a much better place” summed up why I love the character. It’s a good time to be a Superman fan, even one who doesn’t read the comics anymore.

And, as long as I'm pluggin' WB tee vee shows, here are three reasons from tonight’s episode of Gilmore Girls why that show is NOT a “guilty pleasure,” but just great television:
1) They made extensive fun of Riding the Bus with My Sister.
2) There was a scene about Lorelai’s and Rory’s lack of religious faith (kinda ballsy in the current climate).
3) “Davey is more accessible. He’s the Dandy Warhols to Martha’s Brian Jonestown Massacre

Whoops, make that four reasons (see left).

Speaking of Brian Jonestown Massacre, could it be that they really don't know that more than half the people who go to see them do so for the trainwreck, not for the music? They couldn't be that clueless, could they? Hm.

I manned the wood last night for the MC Chris show and felt 100 years old. I can’t stand Aqua Teen Hunger Force for the same reason I can’t watch Family Guy. I don’t care how funny it is, if the animation’s ugly, I cannot watch it. And AQTF is one butt-ugly cartoon. I did enjoy Chris’s anti-hipster rant, however.

But the crowd of young’uns brought up another sad example of apathy / ignorance that I encounter a lot at the bar. Whenever a bartender looks at a questionable ID, he or she usually asks a question to test the bearer’s validity. I like to ask, “Who was the president when you were born?” Only too many cries of ignorance have now made me realize that a lot of people don’t know the answer to that question. Sheesh. All the more to crankicize me (Johnson).

I was once called, “Mr. Anti-Fun” by a friend of mine. And she’s right. I was thinking about it last night as I stood behind the bar with too much time to think. I can’t remember the last time I had “fun.”

Hey, you know another TV show I love?..... sigh.