Sunday, November 20, 2016

Rob Schneider and Adam Sandler "Here Comes the Unfunny..."

Nice to see that tiny Rob Schneider has backed off his big blow of balloon juice. After smugly telling the world that "WE" (the Republicans) freed the slaves, he Tweeted a conciliation, and then a salute to the current President.

As Bill Dana used to say, it's nice to see him "play nice."

Especially if you get a lot of angry comments denouncing your stupidity. Lincoln's Republican party has nothing to do with the current Republican party of Dubya Bush or Donald Trump, or their tea-bagger pals with their "Libtard" taunts and their smirky "don't tell me about guns if you kill unborn babies" shit.

Fact is, "freeing the slaves," isn't quite the same thing as giving them the chance to enjoy their lives like everyone else. It didn't happen in the South where there was a thing called "SEGREGATION."

Guess who set about fixing that, Rob. It wasn't Eisenhower and his Republicans. It was JFK and LBJ. Should I be as stupid as you, and Tweet, "The Republicans haven't been this happy since Martin Luther King Jr. was shot?"

I don't think anyone was that thrilled with either Hillary or Donald. Or as Mort Sahl used to say (back when he was funny), "Darwin was Wrong."

The world could use a good laugh. I don't think they'll get any on December 9th.

If I was still editing RAVE (the magazine George Carlin called "The Wall Street Journal" for comedians, and the one John Cleese posed holding), I wouldn't send anyone to cover that show.

But in the spirit of "say something nice about Rob Schneider" and letting the "healing process" begin, I'll point out TWO things. First, despite Ebert's "Your movie sucks," Rob sent the man flowers when he was beginning cancer treatment.

And secondly, "The Hot Chick" didn't suck.

Saturday, November 19, 2016


Anyone remember Rob Schneider? The guy who made those awful Douche-bag Bigelow movies? The guy whose tongue had to be surgically removed from Adam Sandler’s asshole? The guy who rivals the bed bug for being the world’s tiniest irritant?

If you have a long, long memory, you might remember when Rob was funny; two minutes on “Saturday Night Live.” He did a pretty good Billy Crystal. He captured Billy’s habit of smiling beatifically at his own punchlines.

Rob also accurately played "the office jerk," in increasingly predictable and annoying sketches. He'd cheerfully stand around the copy machine, belaboring the obvious: "Makin' copies!" If I walked in to use the machine, he’d dub me “The Ron Man,” then “The Ron-inator” then “The Ronmeister” or “Ronzo,” etc. etc. No, not much of a joke.

Probably the funniest thing about Rob Schneider was how film critic Roger Ebert got the better of him. When “Deuce Bigalow Male Gigolo” got roasted by the critics, Rob got on his low horse, and whined that no film critic should judge him. Film critics don't get awards for their work, right?

Roger Ebert wrote: “Speaking in my official capacity as a Pulitzer Prize winner, Mr. Schneider, your movie sucks.”

To be fair "The Hot Chick" didn't suck. It was actually an attempt to do something beyond playing arrogant little creeps. But really, for the past 20 years, the 53 year-old Schneider has consistently failed to make critics laugh. Most normal people simply avoid films with Sandler or Schneider in them. Live and let vomit, you know. If he’s an unpleasant, unfunny, creepy little gnat, so what. You don’t have to see his films, and you know better than to bother.

Twitter, being the last refuge to which a publicity-seeking has-been clings, suddenly saw the re-emergence of Rob Schneider. Was he going to try and be witty? Funny?

Jeez. You have to look in the “comments” section of some troll-loaded forum or newspaper website to see a nastier bit of dumbass self-satisfied jerkery. Instead of "Democrats" I’m surprised he didn’t use “LIBTARDS.” That’s a favorite among the brain-dead.

I guess he wasn't getting anywhere with slightly more normal Tweets, like this one:

I guess Rob figures he might resuscitate his career if he appeals to the Trump fans out there, the ones who smile at nastiness and blockheaded insults. But I think he’s forgotten something. They will turn on him the moment somebody Tweets that his father was JEWISH.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Robert Vaughn : A Fortunate Life and Not a Scarred Past

I remember the book signing for the late Robert Vaughn.

Book signings are fairly predictable. The author is either in a good mood and allows for a moment of chat, or it's a quick signature, head down. Somebody from the store keeps up a tense whine of "Move the line along, next!"

What was I expecting with Robert Vaughn? A combination of the two. He seemed the type who'd be tolerant for at least a few seconds of adulation or one question, maybe.

My instincts seemed correct when I watched him gracefully do a brief Q&A before the signing. He was polite but distant, and a fanboy question, "What was your favorite Man from UNCLE episode" got the cold, factual response of, "None of them." He was just an actor on the assembly line of a weekly show, and the part wasn't much of a challenge was it?

The brief Q&A almost had me intimidated, but I did want to ask him a question.

It was about the most disturbing and vivid Q&A interview I'd read when I was a kid. It originally appeared in Man's Magazine, March 1964.

At the time, Vaughn was a minor celebrity starring in a TV show called "The Lieutenant." His superstardom was six months away, September of 1964, when "The Man from UNCLE" premiered.

The Q&A was re-published in a book called "Hollywood Uncensored," a paperback that collected various celebrity articles that had appeared in Man's Magazine in 1963 and 1964.

The Vaughn chapter was the most remarkable. The other chapters were written in typical tabloid style. There were quotes from people who knew the star. Maybe some quotes pulled from other articles about the star. There was room for the writer to make assumptions and "color" and slant the story. But the Vaughn piece? Q&A. And fascinating. Vaughn seemed to open up about his disturbed childhood, his early sex life, his shoplifting fun, and most weirdly of all, how his grandparents kept him leashed on a clothesline in the backyard, so he wouldn't wander away or cause trouble.

The piece was titled "The Scarred Past of a Hollywood Actor."

Fast forward over 40 years, and Vaughn was offering up his autobiography. It was called "A Fortunate Life." Really?

I got to Barnes & Noble early, and began to read the chapter on his childhood. I was shocked.

There was NOTHING at all about the backyard or the "goddam rope." NOTHING.

What he'd said in that magazine piece about the incident coloring his life...had he blocked it all out? Was he now presenting himself as well-adjusted and his life a series of mostly "fortunate" incidents and choices? His childhood was actually cheerful and mundane?

When it was my turn to place my book in front of him for personalization (thank you) and signature, I mentioned that I was surprised that the chapter on his childhood was so different from the 1964 interview, the one where he talked about the rope and the backyard trauma.

Vaughn replied, not really making eye contact, "That never happened."

Stunned, and moving away to let the next fan get a chance, I said, "Well, I'm glad for that. Glad it was just...a story."

When he died I went back and read that Q&A again.

"That never happened."

Really? The interviewer made up the entire Q&A? It reads like a transcription. Who'd make up this stuff?

Frankly, I do know the world of pulp magazines and tabloids. I know how the twisting and slanting is done. I know the glee that editors feel in taking down a star via a load of crap or an unflattering photo. But the Vaughn piece was pretty damn convincing.

The interviewer being long dead, the trail was now cold. I couldn't ask, "So, you got an interview with a minor celebrity and, what, had to trick it up to make it worth printing? You invented all kinds of insane stuff and had the NERVE to present it in Q&A form? Really??"

I never had an excuse to interview Robert Vaughn, and to find out whether "A Fortunate Life" was revisionist history or the truth, or whether the entire Q&A was just the work of an incredibly inventive yellow journalist.

Robert Vaughn had a very interesting style as an actor. He was one of the few (Gene Barry was another) who presented himself as a reluctant hero. Like Gene Barry, Vaughn was the master of the scornful glare. His mouth would sometimes open in a kind of nauseous disgust and then close again, words unsaid. Vaughn's Napoleon Solo and Barry's Bat Masterson and Amos Burke loved the ladies but had a great ambivalence towards ones who came on too strong.

Was Vaughn's restrained acting style somehow tied to being tied up in that backyard as a child?

He said, "That never happened."

Tabloid journalism boldly done in Q&A format, and a lie? Or was "A Fortunate Life" an attempt to re-write history?

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Beggars Can't Be...MUSICIANS?

"Support the artist" is another term for "Have pity."

Because today, artists are reduced to begging. They can sit on the curb with a cup, as much as go to Facebook and Twitter with their pathetic pleas. "Be my Facebook friend...and come to my gig PLEASE." "Hey, Twitter fan, let me bribe you with a free download so you won't stop following me."

Remember when there were record labels and record stores? When self-entitled brats didn't smirk "Copyright is copy wrong?" When obnoxious "sharers" on blogs and forums didn't say "Thank ME for giving you all the albums FREEE?" At one time there were no smug Internet pirates collecting Kim Dotcom money and dismissing their thefts with: "If you LIKE it, buy it."

The "new paradigm" was: "The music should be free. Just buy a t-shirt...or if the artist does a gig, go to the gig...with your camcorder so you can record it and up it to YOUTUBE." That is, if the gig is nearby and you're not busy downloading the newest movie off a torrent. That is, if the item isn't a pdf or kindle or ePub file from a writer who DOESN'T gig and DOESN"T sell t-shirts. Fact is, most every artist is now having a tough time. The newest way to outwit the system? THE WORLD IS SAVED: Heeeere's PLEDGEMUSIC.COM.

You got nothing when you went begging on KICKSTARTER? You aren't seeing a good royalty from SPOTIFY or BANDCAMP? Let's try again. Just invest in paying for vinyl or limited edition CD, with posters and other things, and maybe autograph it or number it...then SELL IT. To somebody. Or other.

It seems PLEDGEMUSIC is aimed at has-beens and those who are on an indie label having been booted a long time ago from a surviving major one.

Right. Press up some MERCH and hope your dwindling fans feel like "supporting" you. Maybe they'll feel good about being no-talent drones when they "feel sorry" for the artist-beggar and buy something. As long as the artist is grateful and gives a personal THANKS in a TWEET.

Remember FASTBALL? Like so many bands, they had a good first or second album, and then a disappointing second or third. Then they disappeared. These guys want another chance. You got the disposable income? Like professional beggars, they'll offer a personalized and sincere THANK YOU.

FASTBALL and WENDY JAMES are competing with better known artists who have run dry.

Take antisemite Peter Gabriel. When was his last good song? His record label accountants began seeing red rain in the ink, and off he went on his "singing the oldies, see if you can recognize the fat fuck" tour. RICK WAKEMAN also has a dwindling fan base and has gone begging. At least, unlike Gabriel, he hasn't overtly demanded the destruction of Israel via sanctions, or falsely declared Israel to not only be apartheid, but the ONLY apartheid country on the planet. But both these guys, and many more, are trying to get people to buy their OLD stuff OVER again. PLEASE.

Hey, if you buy this clutter-crapola, you can go on your YouTube channel, and show everyone how you open the package with your pudgy paws, and then describe the goodies in detail. Then you pat yourself on the back for "supporting" the poor beggar, and really, who has the power now, the beggar or the "fan" with the drone dollars from that dull job?

Sorry, Pete, but I have your vinyl and it ain't scratched. I have your CD's too. And just because you're an ignorant racist swine, I do appreciate back when you were SENSITIVE, and I'll still play your music now and then. Hope you and Rick get those wrinkled egos salved with the grease of beg-induced bucks from the bozos.

Rick? Who wouldn't treasure a boxed set immortalizing his soundtrack to a 1925 silent film better heard via vintage traditional orchestration and available on any budget DVD?

You've noticed that most of this stuff is aimed at older music fans? This is because Millennials now expect everything FREEEEE, and don't like clutter. They don't value music, DVDs or books. It should be streamed. At best, it should be on a thumb drive. Go spend money for concert tickets maybe, or a bottle of smell, if the artist has a perfume deal, but BUY music? Hell no.

So, is PLEDGEMUSIC really "the new paradigm?" Of course not. Just because Dylan can sell a huge box set of old concerts or "official bootlegs," or Roger Waters' Pink Floyd, or the Rolling Stones or Neil Young, or McCartney, let's remember they all got MILLIONS to go play in the desert last month. They are the exceptions. Mostly, 60's and 70's progrockers are OLD, and their fans are worrying about paying medical bills, NOT collecting more shit that their grandchildren will toss in the trash. How much longer does a Rick Wakeman fan HAVE on this Earth? As his friends drop off or go into Alzheimers fog, who will that fan impress with that PHANTOM BOXED SET? How is it worth the asking price?

"Support the artist," comes the feeble voice. "Support the artist," the voice begs. But there's bills to pay. The social security check barely covers food. "Medicare does not cover everything." And so the artist keeps on begging, only to discover that the fans are downloading, enjoying the free streaming and the bootlegging and the piracy, and smirking, "Charity begins at home."