Thursday, April 29, 2010

Fooled Again.

I happened to turn on "The Blues Brothers" last week and saw Ray Charles et al performing "Shake a Tail Feather." I had forgotten about it all together. Here it is:

Only last week, I found this Hanson video. Yes, you read right: HANSON VIDEO. I loved it. While it was a little dance mob-y, which I'm getting a little tired of, there was something a little organic about it, like how you can hear the audio of the dance, i.e. foot scuffs.

Thinking 'Bout Somethin'

HANSON | MySpace Music Videos

So is Hanson cool because they payed homage to the cool movie "The Blues Brothers," or lame because they couldn't do something cool on their own?

I found this video because Weird Al tweeted about it. I think he directed it, and yes, he's in the video too. Want to waste 2 hours? Go to YouTube and rediscover how brilliant Weird Al's videos are. Al dressed as a Padawan? Nerd boner!

I am a fan of homage. Hell, I follow Weird Al's tweets, for goodness sake! Also, most of you know about my "Shawn of the Dead" devotion, the ultimate zombie movie homage.

The difference between homage and ripping off is if there's respect; a tribute paid. Ripping off is just capitalizing on someone else's success.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Colbert Bender.

Hello, my name is Catherine, and I'm on a Colbert Bender.

Many of my friends and readers (but why, if they aren't my friends, do they read this tripe?) know I have the kind of benign addictive personality that, when the (extended) mood strikes, will make me consume some sort of entertainment ad infinitum.

Well, it's Stephen Colbert's turn.

This last month has been a blur, and it is owing in no small part to my brother-in-law teaching me how to download torrents. I got all three seasons of "Strangers With Candy," and the short-lived but important "Exit 57," a sketch show with Amy Sedaris and Paul Dinello (on whom I could also develop a crush, if I could see him in more stuff).

Note: I unwittingly pushed our household over our downloading limit for the month and will have to pay the penalty when the bill comes in. Worth it? Yes. Yes, it is.

Early Colbert.

My earliest introduction to Colbert was on "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart," where he was not only a correspondent, but I believe was the first Senior Correspondent. Ooh-la-la. This was the Petri dish where Colbert developed his hard-nosed, windbag, right-wing newsman character that he uses on "The Colbert Report."

When he was on "The Daily Show," I especially enjoyed Even Stephven. It was a segment where Colbert and Steve Carell skewered programs in which two pundits berate one another's intelligence because they have differing opinions. This was my first introduction to Colbert breaking down into sobs - one of my favourite weapons in Colbert's comedy arsenal, and it pre-dated "The Daily Show."

There was one legendary piece on "The Daily Show" where Colbert was reporting "from London" on a allegation that Prince Charles had had a gay experience with a servant. Colbert's very uncharacteristic uncontrollable corpsing makes this a real gut-buster. I watched it on a loop when I was in grad school, until my roommate started to worry about me.

In the Comedy Central TV show "Strangers With Candy," Colbert plays Chuck Noblet, a closeted high school teacher who has a secret relationship with Mr. Jellineck, the art teacher. This is so titillating to me. [Sidebar: why is it such mainstream knowledge that many men get turned on by the idea of two women "together," but it's not as mainstream that two men getting it on could turn on a woman? I think this is a much bigger discussion about sexuality and social custom. Maybe that's for a later post.] Somehow, "Strangers With Candy" got away with such filth, I doubt it would go to air today, even on basic cable. The show was modelled on after-school specials, but the main character (a 46-year old ex-junkie whore who goes back to school, played by Amy Sedaris, who is once and again more than thrilled to make herself unattractive as an actor) is based on Florrie Fisher.

Why are you pushing me away?
I'm not pushing you away. I'm pulling me towards myself.

The Man.

I have long enjoyed satire. It's a dignified sarcasm. Colbert can do satire because he has the looks and the smarts. He looks like any other part-in-the-hair, pin-in-the-lapel newsman, which makes him the perfect sleeper to subvert from within. He is incredibly quick and witty, and seems to have some sort of perfect recall. All this gives him a great deal of power, but he's also very kind. He tells Charlie Rose in an interview, which I strongly recommend you watch, that he doesn't want to ambush people and make them feel like dirt, but wants to point out their silliness nonetheless. He also shows his humility by expressing his wonder that Jon Stewart considers him a peer.
Colbert is a family man and maybe I'm at a place in my life where that's attractive. He's a Roman Catholic and a family man. Well, I can look past the Catholic part. I like candles... Anyhow: he has said he doesn't want his kids to see the Report because he doesn't want them to think he's insincere. He doesn't think kids can understand satire. He's right - you have to balance too many factors to make and understand satire.

I think it would be difficult to have a character that has the same name as you. There are many differences between Stephen Colbert and Sir Dr. Stephen Colbert, D.F.A., but because they look the same and have the same (basic) name, that must be trying at times. Bret and Jemaine from "Flight of the Conchords" said they had the same problem, playing characters which had their own names which they didn't resemble in real life. Anyhow, Dr. Colbert is a corporate schill, an addict, a pretentious windbag, and a closeted homosexual - an amalgam of those he's satirizing, all in one Brooks Brothers-wrapped package. A one-stop-shop.

The Voice.

Colbert has a beautiful singing voice and we don't hear it enough. I think the first time most of us heard it was on the Christmas Special, but from time to time on the Report, he sings with a guest. I love this duet with John Legend, singing a Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney song. (Check out the killer work on the key change.)

When Elvis Costello was on the Report last November, Elvis had a sore throat, but he accompanied Colbert on guitar. There's a moment at the end of the song where Colbert grins, breaking character, and I imagine it's because he had just said to himself, starstruck, "Holy shit. Elvis Costello is three feet away and I'm singing his song while he plays guitar." Colbert's vocal somersaults and bittersweet sincerity is fantastic. Because of the Christmas Special and this appearance on the Report, I started to investigate Costello's music and I was missing out in such a big way. [Anyhow, this is also for another post, but suffice it to say: me+Elvis=happy.]
These are two examples, I believe, of Colbert making loyal friends. Both Legend and Costello both appeared on the Christmas Special.

The Christmas Special.

The Special, whose full title is "A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift of All!" is a genius send-up of old-school Christmas shows, slapped together and phoned in with shitty production value and hollow sentiment. Colbert so broadly lip-syncs and minces about his three-walled "mountain cabin," there's no way anyone could ever think he really means it. But no, some critics thought he was for real, and gave the Special tepid reviews. I think it's genius, and not only because he sings and dances and hits on every guest under the mistletoe, but because the original music is so so so smart. When my friend Sunny and I performed "Can I Interest You In Hannukah?" at my ukulele jam in December, we brought down the flippin' huppa. It also required me to call Sunny "you Jew" on stage. (I was less nervous about calling her a Jew than I was having the audience think I was a Christian.)

So, to close a conversation that I'm far from finished having, Stephen Colbert is an important entertainer who has nestled his full, lustrous head of hair to my bosom. If he were ever to find himself in Toronto, I would invite him into my home, make him a fresh mojito, and I would play my ukulele and we would sing all night long, probably while his wife frantically describes his kidnapper to the RCMP.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Note To Self.

I can't wear bangs.

I want this to be here in writing so next time I get the urge to cut them again, I will not.

My skin is too oily, my hair is too oily, and I have a cowlick on my widow's peak. These three factors combine to make for god-awful bangs.

I have been cutting bangs about every three years. That three-year cycle consists of:

1) 3-4 months of wearing them with difficulty and too much maintenance.
2) 1 year of pinning them back while they grow out.
3) 1 year of wearing no bangs.
4) 8-9 months of thinking about cutting bangs again.

It's during step 3) that I forget about step 1) and how big a pain in the ass my bangs were, but there's that one picture that someone took of me that night and my bangs look really good even though I know I had just had a shower and it was a day with optimal humidity and within 30 minutes, I looked like I had rubbed Crisco on my head, but maybe if I use a different size round brush and change my mousse, and blah blah blah and suddenly I'm back at the end of step 4) again.

There. For the record.

Monday, April 12, 2010


Can cashiers please wait more than .2 seconds after seeing me swipe my debit card before saying (in an exhausted tone), "Other way"?

I know it's the other way! I can see nothing's happening! It's not like I'm going to continue to swipe it one way until the card catches on fire and I break down weeping, hand bloodied.

There aren't a lot of options! It's only going to be one other way! I'm not going to try to fold it in half and push it through the screen!

Insert emoticon for frustrated screams!

Monday, April 05, 2010

Spring Is Sprung.

I'm home on PEI. I wasn't sure I'd get another chance this summer since I'm taking courses full-time at U of T this summer, so we thought Easter might be a good time.

It's very warm here - unseasonably warm. It's been over 20 degrees every day, and so so so nice. J and I went for a long walk up on Cavendish Beach on Saturday, and then my father and I went up to Savage Harbour to snoop around a big construction site and we went out to the North Shore there, as well.

The Island smells like new grass, warm sand and salt air. It's perfect timing - no mosquitoes yet, no tourists, no fee for the National Park...

For those of you who've never been to the Island: there's not much in the way of bedrock here. That is, what we have of bedrock is mostly sandstone, which is just very tightly packed sand. All the ice that froze through it in the winter melts, leaving fissures and too much moisture, so it heaves with the slightest pressure. Our roads get very potholed and torn up, and heaven help you if you're driving on an unpaved or ungraded road, because you could end up spinning your tires in slippery clay.

The good thing about this is, though: red soil everywhere! There's nothing better to remind you where you are than going up to your ankle in ground you thought was solid, and pulling out a rust-coloured sock of mud around your shoe.

The sand isn't always red here. On beaches on the South Shore, there's a lot more clay, so they're very vibrant red, but on the North Shore, the beaches can range from red to pink to white. (The pounding of the Gulf eventually washes away the oxidization.) All the beaches are pretty. They're usually scattered with red sandstones, kelp, and seashells. J and I saw a dead seal! (There was a boy there, about 7 y.o., who was very excited about it.)

The soil in Ontario is very black. I find it quite off-putting. I think I feel that it's dirty or something. This is strange, because I spent so much time in Newfoundland growing up, and it's dark there, too. It's funny, isn't it, that black soil is probably much richer for growing things, but some crops love the sandy, acidic soil that we have here on PEI. Our soil and potatoes are best mates.

Thanks to this guy for the photos.