Tuesday, September 25, 2018

The Greatest "Greatest Hits" Band


First of all, man does talking about greatest hits albums ever make me feel old.  This is yet another item from the recent past that has suddenly become completely passe today.  The youths today are like, "why not just make your own playlist of your favourite songs from a band?  And, what's an album?"  Don't these kids know that relying on the band itself to produce a greatest hits record is half the fun?  Then you get to complain about which tracks were and weren't included, as well as complaining about the usually low quality of the 1-3 unreleased songs included on the disc to be released as singles.

Anyway, I believe I've discussed the concept of a "Greatest Hits" band before, but to recap --- this is a band that most benefits from having its discography whittled down to 18-20 songs.  Hearing just this one-off greatest hits disc, you'd think this band is one of the best acts of all time, rather than its actual status as a band that had some amazing songs but perhaps only a solid-to-very good career as opposed to all-timer status.

Bands or solo acts in the actual GOAT conversation (i.e. the Beatles, Bruce Springsteen, Prince, the Rolling Stones, etc.) don't fit into the "Greatest Hits Band" debate, even if one might logically surmise that the best 18-20 songs from any of these acts would naturally top anything else.  But there's the rub --- a big aspect of these acts' greatness is that they have such a large volume of hits, usually over so many years.  In distilling their careers down to 20 songs, you're actually leaving quite a bit on the table.  That also creates the problem of deciding which hits are really their "greatest," which leaves everyone unsatisfied.  If you asked 100 people to create their own 20-track playlist of their favourite Beatles songs, for instance, you will find a gigantic variety of songs.

With a band like Blondie, however, it's easier.  As you might guess, my crowning Blondie with the title of greatest Greatest Hits band comes from listening to one of their compilations and being blown away by the quality.  It may lead to a deeper dive into Blondie's discography, and lo and behold, did you know they're still an active working band?  After a long breakup for most of the 80's and 90's, they reunited for a couple of albums around the turn of the century, and then had more of a proper reunion in the 10's.  They've actually released three albums since 2011, which makes them more prolific than just about any other "older" act still producing new music.

Of course, if I check out these new albums or any of their classic 70's discs, then I run the risk of enjoying them and discovering more good music.  Then I'll discover a quibble with their Greatest Hits album, and thus it may cost Blondie their newly-won title.  The Cure are on standby, hopeful that they can claim the crown.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Mindy

My co-worker Ken and I are walking through the lunchroom the other day when Steve the food services guy calls out "hey, it's Mork & Mindy!"  After taking a moment to ascertain that Steve was indeed talking to us, we then wondered, with some justification, huh?  His response: "Mork & Mindy, two peas in a pod."

A couple of days later, I found myself walking through the lunchroom by myself, only to hear Steve call out "hey Mindy, where's Mork?"  So this made it clear that, of the duo, I'm Mindy.

To be clear, I don't feel insulted by this.  If anyone should feel insulted, really, it's Pam Dawber.  For those of you weren't late 70's/early 80's sitcom fans, here's a picture of Pam Dawber on the left, and an artist's approximation of me on the right.




















As you tell, not much resemblance.  And it should be noted that Ken looks nothing like Robin Williams (or Pam Dawber, for that matter), nor does Ken wear yellow suspenders, nor does he look and/or act like an extra-terrestrial.  I also don't look anything like Robin Williams, but of the two of us, I guess I'd lean slightly more towards Robin due to my hairy forearms (and the aforementioned "could be an alien" thing).  Plus, if we're going by name similarities, obviously "Mork" and "Mark" are basically identical.

What Steve was going for was just a generic duo reference.  He could've just as easily called us Frick & Frack, Tweedledum and Tweedledee, Pinky & The Brain, etc.  Instead, somewhat curiously, he went with a reference about two people who were quite distinct from each other --- that was the whole point of the show --- and who Ken and I didn't resemble in either personality or looks in the slightest. 

Then again, Pam Dawber is married to a Mark, i.e. Mark Harmon.  And Robin Williams was once married to a woman named Ken!....okay, that part is made up.  Steve really had nothing to go on, I'm reaching here.

Of all the many nicknames I've had in my life, "Mindy" might be the strangest.  How come I keep getting these odd monikers to stick, yet try as I might, I can never get "Mark The Shark" or "Mr. Spectacular" off the ground?  WHY NOT? 

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

The "Modern Family" Death

First off, my official prediction is the dog.  The "significant character" who will die on this season of Modern Family won't be one of the actual core 12 (twelve? man, this cast got huge) characters, with one caveat that I'll address later.  This is a comedy, remember.  Cam won't suddenly become a widower in the final season, or one of the kids won't be hit by a bus.  However, Stella the dog passing away is enough of a non-impactful yet still meaningful story that it can feasibly happen, since obviously the death of a beloved pet is hard on any family (my own included).

The one caveat would be if Jay passes away in the series finale, in a sweet and sad way that closes the book on that generation of the Pritchett family and potentially wins Ed O'Neill an Emmy.  This would actually live up to the hype about the "significant death," and it would make more sense than having one of the more significant supporting characters kick the bucket.  Mitchell and Claire's mom?  Phil's dad?  Nathan Lane?  (I forget his character's name, but let's be real, he's just playing "Nathan Lane.")

My other theory is that it'll be revealed that Modern Family is actually part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, so half the cast will suddenly disintegrate due to Thanos.  Disney/ABC really dropped the ball by not incorporating Infinity War into all of their properties.  Wouldn't you tune in to see Guillermo host the talk show if Jimmy Kimmel got snapped out of existence?  I feel like people would've been way more intrigued by the Han Solo prequel if, in the last scene, Han just gets out an "I've got a bad...." before turning into dust.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Conan 25

It was 25 years ago today that "Late Night With Conan O'Brien" debuted, making it roughly 17.5 years before I began to make Conan part of my nightly viewing routine.  In honour of this milestone, here's a wide-ranging Vulture interview (from June) with the man himself, and a classic bit of Late Night silliness

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Fashion Week

My grey cargo pants are history. Tragedy. After five or six years of constant use, the crotch has been worn out, and since I'm not (immediately) planning on becoming a male exotic dancer, I have no choice but to relegate the ol' grey cargos to the level of "comfy pants I wear around the house but not in public." It's a sad end for these fine pants and I can't help but think they deserve more than to live the rest of their days as glorified pajamas. It's like seeing Brett Favre finish his career with the Jets and Vikings rather than with Green Bay….and, ironically, both Favre and my cargo pants were undone by their crotches.

I do own, like, three other pairs of cargo pants, so you won't have to worry about my wardrobe suddenly requiring me to wear shorts in winter. In my vast experience as a fashion expert, I'd have to say that cargo pants are basically the best garment ever invented. What's not to like? Comfy, somewhat borderline fashionable, not formal by any stretch but you can wear them out to most events and not be laughed at (to your face), and the pockets, my god, the pockets. Laurent Poquette, inventor of pockets back in the year 103 A.D., can rest in peace knowing that his greatest creation found its perfect mate in cargo pants.

Need a place to put your phone? Lower right leg side pocket. Your wallet? You could go the traditional route of your back pocket, but when you're a stout fellow like myself, sitting on your wallet runs the risk of one's fat ass crushing your credit card digits. Instead, boom, just slide that wallet right alongside your phone or, if you like privacy, just slide it into your lower left leg side pocket! Got a toque that you always wear because your bald head gets cold? Put it in, you guessed it, one of the side pockets! Always like carrying a pen in case you get an idea for your latest hilarious blog post and need to write it down? Carry a pen in your regular pocket! I suppose it's possible the average person might not carry so much crap on their person at any given time, but I was in Cub Scouts for four, hilarious, neckerchief-filled years. It was there that I learned to BE PREPARED in case Shere Khan from The Jungle Book suddenly appeared and tried to maul me to death. I think this was the message…all the Jungle Book imagery kind of blended together after a while.

This is all a round-about way of saying that if you're interested in buying a slightly-used pair of grey cargo pants, contact me. They can be yours at the very reasonable price of $89.99 Canadian dollars. This might be technically more than I originally paid for the pants, but now they're VINTAGE. You're not just buying a pair of cargo pants that are somewhat drafty in the testicle area --- you're buying a passport to the halcyon days of 2012 fashion.

Also, this would be a great/awful time for any of my friends to say "Hey Mark, you've had that hole in your crotch for two months, we all just thought it'd be funny to not tell you."

Friday, September 07, 2018

Hurt Star

This is a few years old, but was only recently brought to my attention as "a great cover of the Johnny Cash version of Hurt."  I did not expect to click this link and then start laughing, but that's the beauty of the internet.  This one goes in the hall of fame with Chris Cornell's multi-layered covers of "One."

Thursday, September 06, 2018

NFL Predictions

A new season is upon us! 

NFC East: Philadelphia, New York, Washington, Dallas
NFC West: Los Angeles, San Francisco*, Seattle, Arizona
NFC North: Green Bay, Minnesota*, Chicago, Detroit
NFC South: New Orleans, Carolina, Atlanta, Tampa Bay

AFC East: New England, New York, Buffalo, Miami
AFC West: Kansas City, Denver*, Los Angeles, Oakland
AFC North: Baltimore, Pittsburgh*, Cincinnati, Cleveland
AFC South: Tennessee, Jacksonville, Houston, Indianapolis

* = wild card teams, and wow was this hard to pick.  I feel like the NFL is maybe seven legitimately good teams, seven awful teams, and everything else in the middle.

NFC Championship Game: Los Angeles over New Orleans
AFC Championship Game: New England over Tennessee

Super Bowl 53: Los Angeles over New England 
The number #53 is also the number for Herbie in the Love Bug movies, which were shot in California.  Ergo, I need to pick a Californian team to win the Super Bowl this year.  The original film was set in San Francisco, but since the 49ers and Jimmy G are still at least a season away, and the Raiders will be a capital-d Disaster, I'll go with the California team that looked really good last year.  The Rams gain revenge for Super Bowl 36, and maybe we go full circle on the Brady/Belichick era by having the Rams defeat them to close the Patriots' reign out entirely.  

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

One Man's Trash

As a big "How Did This Get Made?" fan, I was interested when Jason Mantzoukas plugged an episode of The Chris Gethard Show on which he and Paul Scheer appeared.  Specifically, Mantzoukas made the particular plea that someone should put the episode on YouTube since it was so singularly funny that it should reach as wide an audience as possible.  This advice was clearly taken, as I instantly found it on YouTube, and proceeded to watch a very entertaining hour of TV.  Now, the episode was from 2016, and the video was posted by the actual Chris Gethard Show itself, and the HDTGM episode with Jason's plug was just from the last couple of weeks, so I'm not really sure of why he chose right now to bring up "One Man's Trash," other than it maybe just occurred to him how awesome this 43 minutes of television is.

The premise is simple.  There's a dumpster on the stage.  Gethard (the host of this live, and very off-the-wall talk show) has Scheer and Mantzoukas as the guests, and the entire show is based around people guessing what the special object is inside said dumpster.  The guesses come from fans who call and Skype into the live broadcast, and also from Paul and Jason themselves for a time.  Gethard simply answers yes or no to the questions, with perhaps a hint or two along the way.  At certain points, certain people are allowed to peek into the dumpster to view the object, which changes the nature of the show considerably.

The twist, you see, is that if nobody correctly guessed, the dumpster wasn't going to be opened.  I actually didn't pick up on this detail while watching, though it was stressed as a critical point of this great article about the episode by Uproxx's Andrew Husband.  Frankly, I love the idea that this could've led to the same dumpster and object being used in a future show for another round of guessing.  Honestly, I feel like this could be an actual recurring show --- just add in some funny improvisors, have a new content of the dumpster every week, and you're on the air for a Gunsmoke-esque length of time.

I will, obviously, not dream of telling you what the actual object is (the fact that the object is revealed is my only spoiler).  Here's the episode if you want to watch for yourself, and honestly people, don't jump ahead in the video or read the comments section.  The episode is absolutely worth your full time.

Ok, one other minor spoiler: I can't believe nobody made a cheeky guess of Oscar The Grouch.