Thursday, April 30, 2009

Musical Mockery #2--My Comcast Bill

My friend Michael is at it again with another Musical Mockery. This time his target is Comcast. After recently switching to Comcast's Triple Play option, he received a horrendous bill. And because Comcast was less than responsive to his complaints, he decided to write this little song to parody his experience. To watch the short video, please click on the photo above.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Cat Clips--Sneak and Snore

Please click on the photo above to watch the next installment in the "Cat Clips" series, entitled "Sneak and Snore." In this episode, the male cat tries to find out more information about "Honey's" newly developed schizophrenia.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Are Joan and Melissa Rivers the Next “Grey Gardens”?

While watching the recent embarrassing season of “The Apprentice,” it struck me that the bond between Joan and Melissa Rivers is very similar to that of Big Edie and Little Edie Beale, who are once again popular because of the recent wave of television and theatrical productions surrounding the famous “Grey Gardens” story. For those of you who don’t know, The Beales were a mother and a daughter who lived in squalor for many years in their slowly decaying house in the Hamptons. The decline of the house and property has forever come to symbolize the physical and mental decline of the Beales themselves, whose combative relationship was perhaps the only thing that helped them survive the tough and uncleanly conditions. They also happen to be relatives of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, which is how they became notoriously famous in the first place.

At any rate, watching Joan and Melissa Rivers walk and talk on screen is like witnessing two animatronic wax figures moving about in real life. Their lack of facial expressions is only part of the strange plastic mass that makes up their reconstructed heads. To me, they look more like puppets than people…two marionettes fully capable of some sort of movement, but without the ability to do much with their faces, except open and shut their eyes and mouths. And even then, it doesn’t look quite natural.

In her heyday, Joan Rivers was one of the funniest women alive. I remember growing up thinking she was bitchy and catty, but in a fun way. Then came the red carpet years, which to me were embarrassing and painful. She wasn’t good at interviewing people, she didn’t know who most of the celebrities were, and she could be downright nasty…which is not the same thing as being funny. And with sidecar Melissa attached to her like some kind of unwelcome barnacle, Joan spit her way through years of boring and uninspired red carpet routines, and probably just as many plastic surgeries.

On this season of “The Apprentice,” she is both funny and sad. Sometimes her self-righteous attitude and over-protective motherly instinct drain a lot of the energy out of the mostly apathetic cast, but it is her relationship with her daughter that is most disturbing. They seem to balance each other’s neurosis with the kind of chemistry you mostly find in Petrie dishes. And though Melissa will tell you at any opportunity that she is more than just her mother’s shadow; she also has umpteen years experience as a major producer of quality television (Though she neglects to mention that most--if not all--of those shows featured her mother as the lead. Methinks she doth protest too much, no?)

And so, like Big Edie and Little Edie, the Rivers women will scratch and claw their way through delusional lives while the rest of watch as if we are witnessing a car accident that never ends.

But that’s just me. What’s your opinion of Joan and Melissa Rivers?

Monday, April 20, 2009

Cat Clips--Catzaphrenic

Please click on the photo above to watch the next installment in the "Cat Clips" series, entitled "Catzaphrenic." In this episode, as "Honey" discusses her mental condition with the male cat, Tipi and Tuck eavesdrop on their conversation.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Remember When Working “9 to 5” Was Fun?

When I first heard that Alison Janney was tapped to play the Lily Tomlin role in a new musical version of “Nine to Five,” I thought it sounded like pretty inspired casting. After all, who else had that slightly masculine swagger and deadpan delivery that could even come close to Ms. Tomlin’s brilliantly understated performance? No one. Perfect casting.

Brief side note: Nine to Five is one of my all-time favorite comedies. Maybe because it came out at a time in my life when I really needed a good laugh, and that movie struck me as terribly funny. I was already a huge fan of Lily Tomlins from her Laugh-In days, but had been somewhat disappointed with some of her ventures since then. But the combination of Lily with Dolly Parton and Jane Fonda was something akin to magic. Ms. Parton, in particular, was such a welcome surprise as the feisty and vulnerable secretary to Franklin Hart that I went back to see the movie at least three or four times in the next several months. It was a great escape from the troubles of the times.

Which makes it even more interesting that the musical should come out during a time when we are again experiencing pain. As a nation. And with the news increasingly talking of dissent among the masses, it’s the perfect time for something that offers nothing but pure escape and a few genuine laughs. And that’s where the new musical “Nine to Five” finds its place among the new crop of Broadway newbies.

Is it a perfect musical? No. Can Alison Janney really sing? Well, sort of…although there are some real clunkers. Are the supporting players Stephanie J. Block and Megan Hilty up to the challenge of taking on the Jane Fonda and Dolly Parton roles? AND HOW. While no one can touch Ms. Block’s tremendous vocal prowess, Ms. Hilty is a comic genius as the misunderstood sexy office assistant and I found myself watching her most of the time she was on the stage. I’m sure Ms. Parton herself would be proud of the way Ms. Hilty has inhabited her role. Her sincere and vulnerable performance makes you fall in love with her almost immediately.

The one thing I found particularly amusing about the show was how they copied some of the actual costumes from the movie almost identically. Even down to the blue coat Dolly Parton wore during the hospital scene. I wasn’t sure if it was intended as a homage, or whether the costume designer just didn’t have any ideas of her own, but it was a little eerie to see almost the same clothes from decades ago. (Could they all have still been in Ms. Parton’s closet?)

There were some liberties taken with the show, and some sequences condensed from the movie, but overall it was pretty faithful to the original concept, plot and characters. Violet (the Alison Janney/Lily Tomlin role) now has an office romance, and the pot fantasy sequences aren’t as effective on the stage, but the show is a nice addition to the Broadway catalog and I hope it does well in this tough economic environment. And with Dolly at the helm, anything is possible.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Cat Clips--Easter Eggs & Easter Basket

Today is a special two-part Easter "Cat Clips" special. First, click on the photo above to watch Part One--"Easter Eggs." In this episode, Honey and the male cat arrange an Easter Egg hunt for Tipi and Tuck. Then, click on the photo below to watch Part Two--"Easter Basket." In this episode, Tipi and Tuck decide to "pay back" the male cat for the Easter Egg stunt. Enjoy, and Happy Easter!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Cat Clips--Tipi Trouble

Please click on the photo above to watch the next installment from the "Cat Clips" series, entitled "Tipi Trouble." In this episode, Honey tries to confront Tipi over some false information she gave her.

Monday, April 6, 2009

The Unexpected Surprise of a Stranger’s Support

“I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.” Those fateful words, uttered by Blanche Dubois in the classic Tennessee William’s play “A Streetcar Named Desire,” have always struck me as a little odd. Mostly because I have never depended on the kindness of anyone, let alone a stranger. Though it certainly would be nice to rely on perfect strangers to get me through my life, I realized quite early that you can’t really depend on anyone. With the possible exception of your immediate family and a few close friends, most of the people you rely on in life tend to let you down.

And before you think me too cynical, I’m only suggesting that going through life with the philosophy that other people should take care of you is most likely going to result in many disappointments and heartache. Unless, of course, you happen to look like a supermodel, in which case, you can probably subscribe to Blanche’s method of acquisition and do very well at it too. Not being a supermodel myself, I’ve found that anything I really want to achieve, I can only rely on myself to get there.

That’s why it's always such a pleasant surprise when somebody decides to take it upon themselves to help you out. Without any idea of gain on their part, or any solicitation from you, someone independently gives you a little show of support. These are the kinds of things we can never depend on, but always benefit greatly from. Not only because it's one of those little moments in life that take you by surprise, but also because you are reminded of the generosity and kindness of others. (Strangers or not.)

This happened to me recently. I have several people on YouTube that I maintain an ongoing casual friendship with, mostly because we share similar interests in video production, creative ideas or our love for animals. It is similar to some of the wonderful friendships I have established through this blog. It was one of these unique individuals, Twish1999, who one day decided that I needed more subscribers and viewers for my YouTube efforts, as she thought my “Cat Clips” were especially worthy of attention. She also thought it wrong that YouTube recently turned me down as a partner, and figured that a boost in subscribers might help the cause.

You can imagine how touched I was that anyone would care, let alone do something about it. But true to her word, Twish1999 created a video for her subscriber base (currently in excess of 1,800) that not only introduced my Cat Clips to all her friends, but also showed several clips from her favorite Cat Clips videos as well. The result of this incredibly selfless act was a boost of nearly 90 new subscribers over the following week. Not only was I floored, but very appreciative as well.

Twish1999, also known as Trish, is a very creative British woman who always has some kind of interesting video to share. Whether it’s giving us a pleasant little walk around her beautiful English village, or creating some kind of funny video using her cats or other subjects, or sharing a funny little poem she created, Trish is always delighting her fans with something unique and interesting. She is one of several people I follow on YouTube on a regular basis. And though we are technically still strangers, the bond of mutual interests has brought us together as friends in the amazing world of cyberspace.

And the amazing show of support didn’t end with Twish1999, as now other subscribers have jumped on the bandwagon to help me out as well. It’s amazing to think that something you do could affect people in such a positive manner that they want to go to bat for you. Needless to say, I am learning a great deal from my adventures on the World Wide Web.

But that’s just me. What has someone surprised you with lately?

Friday, April 3, 2009

Cat Clips #48--Extra Eyes

Please click on the photo above to watch the next segment in the "Cat Clips" series, entitled "Extra Eyes." In this episode, Tipi thinks a pair of glasses will help Tuck understand how to deal with the male cat.