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Archive for the ‘Arrested Development’ Category

[ATTENDED: April 3, 2016] David Cross

cross I have enjoyed David Cross since the old days of Mr. Show, and the as Tobias on Arrested Development and even in Alvin and the, well, actually I’m just happy for him that he got a lot of money for it.

When he released his previous stand up album, Bigger and Blackerer, Sarah and I listened to it in the car on a long trip and we had tears in our eyes from laughing so hard.

So when I heard he was touring I thought it would be fun to see him live.  And, yes, it was.

But we ran into a few bumps along the way.  We had to leave very late because our babysitter had car trouble.  She arrived just late enough that we weren’t sure if it was worth still driving the hour to Philly.  We decided if traffic was terrible we would just stop somewhere and have dinner instead.  I even called the Theatre to see if there was an opening act (nope) and if the show really started at 7:30 and not 8 (yup, he would start at exactly 7:30).  Traffic was light and the GPS said we’d get to the garage at 7:35.  I missed the turn for the alley that our garage was on, and then we got slightly lost on the walk from garage to theater and as we got there at 7:40… there were still a whole bunch of people milling about in the lobby.  And then they flashed the lights telling us to get to our seats.  We missed nothing!

And we even got to tsk at people who arrived later than us.  Cross even joked that he would wait to start his joke because “it’s not fucking distracting or anything” when people are being seated.  I was frankly shocked that people seemed to still be arriving around 8PM! (more…)

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cacnelAs yet another TV season sort of winds down, and a few more shows get cancelled, I decided to compile a list of shows that I miss. This isn’t going to be one of those lists of the best shows that shouldn’t have been cancelled or killed off too early or some other kind of list (I agree with just about everything on these lists).  So, I’m not including Arrested Development or Freaks and Geeks (which I don’t really miss because I didn’t watch it when it came out so I knew what I was getting when I watched the DVDs, plus every actor from the series is seen in something or other all the time) or even Veronica Mars (now that the movie has come out, all is well).

Of course, there are shows that I miss because they were great, but many had a sense of closure, which is nice. Or shows that were great and then weren’t great anymore so I stopped watching, which is less nice but which doesn’t leave me pining for them. Rather these are shows that were cut down unexpectedly (or expectedly) and didn’t give closure (or generate enough momentum for closure).  In fact, shows that weren’t brilliant and probably deserved to be cancelled soon, but were cancelled a little too early so I have no closure. Or, worse yet, shows that could have improved over the next season or two and become really solid shows.  And so from time to time I wonder what the characters are up to (which isn’t as sad as it sounds).

I’m starting with the most recent cancellation because it is freshest: (more…)

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SOUNDTRACKTHE FLAMING LIPS AND STARDEATH AND THE WHITE DWARF WITH HENRY ROLLINS AND PEACHES-“Money” (2011).

I’ve already mentioned this full length album, but how can you not talk about JR without mentioning this song.  (I probably could have dine a post a week about all of the covers of it).

This is one of the most famous songs certainly by Pink Floyd on one of the most popular album s of all time.  So how do you cover it?  You can’t lose the bass line, it’s way too important to the song.

But aside from that the song is pretty different–the vocals are machine tuned almost out of recognizability.  And that’s when you realize that although this is a pretty faithful cover, it’s also a goofy cover.  Not silly, not really disrespectful but not entirely right either (notes are out of tune and flubbed).  It’s very mechanized, as if they are talking about the auto-tuned nature of making hit songs.

  Henry Rollins takes the roll of the random punters ranting at the end of the song, and that’s pretty fun.

The whole thing is kind of  a trifle.  It works better in context of the album because you can understand what the group is doing.  On its own it’s a bit of  shock.

[READ: Week of July 9, 2012] JR Week 4

This week continues where last week left off–in the middle of trying to get Dan to convince Ann to drop the lawsuit against the school (for firing Bast). Whiteback tries to speak for Vern, but Vern will have none of it–Whiteback, despite being president of the school and the bank, is proving to be more and more of a pushover as the story goes along.

Vern gives his take on the school:

The function of this school is custodial.  It’s here to keep these kids off the streets until the girls are big enough to get pregnant and the boys are old enough to go out and hold up a gas station, it’s strictly custodial and the rest is plumbing.  If these teachers of yours strike just sit still and keep the doors open, by the time these kids have been lying around the house for a week their parents will march the teachers back in at gunpoint (226).

Dan interrupts the proceedings to talk to Whiteback about his mortgage (Vern magnanimously tells Dan to go ahead and conduct personal business during work hours).  Dan’s mortgage is not working out so well because the studs in his house are too far apart–causing it to be less insurable and causing him to pay a lot more. When Whiteback commends Major Hyde’s house for being spectacularly built Dan says that he was surprised to see that Hyde was moving.  Hyde doesn’t know what he’s talking about.  Dan tells him that there was a moving van in his driveway taking all of his things out.  There’s some chaos (and a stolen car) when JR comes in and tells them that Buzzie (who was sent down for possession) has taken off down the hall. (more…)

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I was planning to write this post early in the TV Season.  I found out that the TiVo website rather helpfully includes a page of all the premiere dates of shows, which in addition to telling us when shows started, has also turned out to be a good way to keep track of the shows that were cancelled already.  Our goal is basically to get every good show cancelled so that we can watch our poor Netflix DVDs (which now that we had to change our policy we have mercifully fewer discs that we are not watching).  Um, thanks for the hike Netflix?

Anyhow, it’s now  about seven weeks into the season and we’ve already lost a number of shows–some as quickly as two weeks in…which, really?  I mean why bother.  Surprisingly, none of the FOX shows were cancelled yet.  That’s probably because FOX didn’t pick anything cool or interesting enough for me to want to watch–that’s actually not true, they have some good new shows this season, but nothing like Arrested Development.

So, this time I’m breaking it down by day of the week (which is silly since we TiVo everything and watch it whenever).  And this time red shows are shows we have given up on and Green ones are ones that we’re still enjoying. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: QUEENSRŸCHE-The Warning (1984).

Queensrÿche fulfilled the promise of their debut EP with this album.  It takes the blueprint of the EP and expands it wonderfully.  They introduce some cool low vocal chants to compliment Tate’s soaring alto (like on “En Force”), they also introduce some wonderful effects and riffs and scales (also on “En Force”).

There’s also some really great, odd “keyboard” bits thrown in as kind of sound effects or jarring moments (“Deliverance”).  “Deliverance” also has great backing vocals, and I love the way the “Deliver Us” part of the song is quite different from the soaring of the rest of the vocals.  The back and forth of “No Sanctuary” also showcases the bands skills very well.

The band even shows signs that they’re not sticking to standard heavy metal.  On “N.M. 156” there’s some sci-fi chanting and the really cool section of the song in which Tate sings “Forgotten…Lost…Memories” and the “Lost” part is a completely unexpected note.   They were taking chances from the beginning.

“The Lady Wore Black” is updated with the stunning “Take Hold of the Flame,” a slightly more progressive version of that first song.  “Before the Storm” was the first song I heard from this album and it has always been my favorite on the record (this is one of those few albums where the better songs aren’t front loaded).  “We watch the sun rise and hope it won’t be our last” (they were always happy guys).

“Child of Fire” opens with a wonderful riff and the compelling, “the souls that are damned by the pain that you bring send you higher.”  The song settles down into a slow part and Tate growls “Damn you and the pain they must feel” and you can tell he means it (whatever else the song is about).

All this time I don’t think I ever realized that “Roads to Madness” was nine minutes long.  It is definitely foreshadowing the kind of epic work they would do later.  And it closes out the album in a cathartic blast.  It’s wonderfully pure metal from the mid-80s.

[READ: October 20, 2011] Celebrations of Curious Characters

I had never heard of Ricky Jay before getting this book, but apparently he is a reasonably well know radio personality (on KCRW), he is also an actor on Deadwood, and he’s a magician.  This book is a collection of his KCRW radio show broadcasts along with accompanying pictures from his vast collection of obscure ephemera.

There are forty-five entries in the book–each one is a page long (it’s an oversized book and they are two columns each).  Each essay is Jay’s take on a particular subject or, as the title says, curious character.  Jay is a collector of esoteric information, especially that related to magic and, for lack of a better word, freakish behavior.   One of the most enjoyable parts of the book are the pictures that accompany each entry.  The pictures come from Jay’s collection and each picture’s provenance is given in the back of the book.  So we get pictures like “The little Count Boruwlaski, engraving by A. van Assed ([London]) Borowlaski [sic], 1788). or Lithograph of Chung Ling Soo (Birmingham: J. Upton, c. 1912) or Frontispiece portrait from George Devol, Forty Years a Gambler on the Mississippi (Cincinnati: Devol & Haines, 1887).  Some of these photos you can see on his website.  Or you can enjoy this picture of a chicken firing a gun that is not in the book (it comes from his site). (more…)

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I usually try to do a TV post once a season, just to remind myself of what I watched.  For some reason I didn’t write one in the beginning of the year, so I’m catching up now with season enders and mid-season replacements.  And yes I am pointedly writing this just after finding out that several shows (four of them brand new) that I enjoyed quite a bit were cancelled for good.

So I’ll start with the shows that we watched (or tried to watch) that have been cancelled. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: DAVID CROSS-Bigger and Blackerer (2010).

I’ve liked David Cross for years, both in Mr. Show and everywhere else he’s been (I love comparing his nebbish character in Arrested Development to his obnoxious hippie in Running Wilde). And his standup is just fantastic.

This new(ish) CD (which has the same name but different content as the DVD) is wonderfully obscene and profane and all around hilarious.  What’s particularly fun is the nonsensical “titles” he gives to his bits (although these are more accurate than on his previous disc): “REALLY Silly Religious Crazies, I mean, Double, Triple Crazy!!” and “Random Goofabouts”

The disc opens with a song(!), a swinging song ala Tom Jones which Cross sings (his voice isn’t very good, but he’s never off key, which is something) which actually features some cool time changes and a bit of pathos.  But the jokes are very funny.  He opens with an extended bit about drugs (mostly about drugs he has taken).  It’s a bit long, but the details are hilarious and the payoffs at the end are wonderful.  I also enjoyed that the drug bits are a cautionary tale, yet he never turns preachy, in fact, he inverts expectations throughout.

The race jokes are really great too, especially the MLK license plate bit.  But indeed, Cross really shines when it comes to religion.  I’ve never really heard a riff on Orthodox Jews before, and his dismissal of Catholicism is brutal and short, but it’s the Mormons who get the bulk of his abuse (mostly because of the awesome power they wield), especially since the religion is a sham.

He’s also not afraid to make observations that will offend some (although no one who listens to him) but are spot on.  There’s an excellent bit about Obama haters who bemoan the state of the country but who will immediately fight any “elitist” who bemoans other aspects of the country.  And it very funny, indeed.

Cross has spent some time in England (filming The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret) and his British accent is quite good now (it’s used to excellent effect in heaven).  He also has great rapport with the crowd, who are exuberantly noisy.

This CD is an excellent introduction to Cross’ standup.  The jokes aren’t really timely (although the health care yelling bit will date it somewhat, except that the debate itself will go one for years to come, so maybe it won’t), so even if it’s five years from now, the jokes will still be funny.

Cross is not a delicate comedian and his jokes are not for the faint of heart, but, man, is he funny.

[READ: November 9, 2010] It is Right to Draw Their Fur

Polymath Dave Eggers is back with another fascinating (and fascinatingly bound) title.  This time, the collection contains a series of drawings.  Most of the drawings are of animals and they all feature words on them.  (This sort of thing: Picture + words + humor (from many different artists) is presented in a book that I am currently enjoying called More Things Like This).  Similar items also appeared in McSweeney’s 27 (you can see my Post about that issue here)).

Eggers explains in the introduction that he went to art school.  He was an aspiring painter and then a cartoonist and illustrator.  And in his down time, he spent a lot of time drawing animals.  And they are quite good.  Eggers’ art has an odd quality to it that I can’t quite put my finger on.  All of his pictures seem off in a small way.  It doesn’t make them bad at all, in fact, it actually makes you want to look at them more to see what is off about them.  (I think some people call that “compelling”).

The project comes in a hugely oversized cardboard sleeve (14 inches x 19 inches).  There are 26 large sized posters (they are folded and their unfolded size reaches something like 27″ x 37″).  There’s also a booklet which features even more of these drawings.  The booklet has an appendix with some drawings that are not animals (well, they are humans, so yes, they are animals).  And, the most peculiar part, there’s a bibliography.  The bibliography goes on for four pages and includes all manner of things from Sartre’s Being and Nothingness to Auel’s Clan of the Cave Bear to Gara’s The Presidency of Franklin Pierce to The Collected Poems of William Carlos Williams to Saint-Saens’ Le carnaval des animaux.

You can see two examples here.  In my opinion these are not the best combination art/words in the book (although the drawings are very good).  There are some other ones where the juxtaposition appealed to me much more.

The package is quite expensive (and justified–it is a lot of stuff and beautifully put together), but I have a hard time believing someone would spend $42 on it.  (I received mine as part of the McSweeney’s book club, so that’s nice.)

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