Don Cherry

#524: Hockey Night in Canada (Video – thanks to Geoff from 1001AlbumsIn10Years)

In Getting More Tale #521, we discussed the pros and cons of DVD recorders, a now-outdated technology. In short the cons were the price, but the pros were the ability to keep a television recording virtually forever.  DVD recorders were meant to replace VCRs.  A VCR and a decent quality tape could enable you to keep a recording for a couple decades, at least.

I lamented that one recording that we lost on our old PVR was a vintage re-run of Hockey Night in Canada, May 8, 1994.  My wife, Mrs. LeBrain, had the honour of meeting Don Cherry that night, and got to be on Canada’s most popular television show.  Periodically, Leafs TV would re-run the old games, and we recorded it the last time it was on. However this was lost when the PVR bit the dust.

If only we had a working VCR…

Well, as it turns out, Geoff from 1001AlbumsIn10Years has a working VCR.  Not only that, but he also possesses an original recording of that night’s hockey game from over 22 years ago!  He dug it out, and sent the below video to me.

That’s Jen with her Dougie Gilmore sign, and Canada’s national treasure Don Cherry.

The story goes, Jen’s dad won a radio contest to see the Maple Leafs wherever the next round of the playoffs were being held.  That happened to be San Jose, California.  This happened to fall on Mother’s Day.  Jen’s dad intended to take her mom on a nice vacation.  This however was not to be, not after a young crying Jennifer bellowed “But mom doesn’t even LIKE hockey!”  It was true, and Jen got to go with her dad.

Thanks Geoff — you have no idea how much this video means to us!

Mike + Jen


#521: DVD Recorders



Obsolete and outdated technology can be fascinating to look at. For a long while, it looked like everything was going to go DVD.  Even music.  There was talk of box sets by bands such as Led Zeppelin or the Beatles that could fit the entire catalogue on one disc.  The Digital Versatile Disc all but completely took over from the VHS tape for viewing, so why not for simple household TV recording too? Enter the DVD recorder. This was not the same as a DVD burner for your computer.  It was a standalone unit for your home entertainment system, connected to your cable box and ready to go.  As you can guess, it failed gloriously. Why? Uncle John’s daily calendar tells us it came down to cost:


While it is considered obsolete now, the DVD recorder had one slight advantage over the typical PVR that you can rent today from Rogers Cable. That is keeping a recording permanently. I’ll give you a great example.

In 1994, my future father-in-law won tickets to go see the Toronto Maple Leafs during the playoffs facing off against the Sharks in San Jose. My future wife came with him, bearing a sign that said “DOUGIE G. FOR PRIME MINISTER”. This is of course a reference to legendary Toronto Maple Leaf center Doug Gilmour. Then my wife saw the unmistakable Canadian hockey broadcaster Don “Grapes” Cherry in the lobby, with his colourful suit and camera crew.  She shouted out “GRAPES!”  Nobody else in California would have known him as “Grapes” so he knew it was a fellow Canuck.  He saw the Dougie G. sign — his favourite player from Kingston, Ontario.  He asked her to come on down. That’s how my wife got on Hockey Night in Canada back in 1994. We have a copy of this on video tape, but when the game was re-run a couple years ago, we recorded it including the part with my wife on our Rogers PVR.

It was nice to have it digitally but we always knew we’d lose it if the PVR busted. There’s no way to retrieve a recording from it, according to Rogers. So when it finally kicked the bucket, we lost the hockey recording. No matter; we’ll just wait for the next re-run.

If we only had an old-fashioned DVD recorder, however, we’d have a hard copy that we could have kept safe and sound forever!



DVD REVIEW: Trailer Park Boys – Big Plans, Little Brains: The Complete 1st and 2nd Seasons

Part one of my new series:  the Trailer Park Boys complete television series.  In anticipation of the forthcoming seasons 8 & 9, we’re going to be taking a look at the original series that started it all.

For those who don’t know Trailer Park Boys, there are some serious rock n’ roll connections throughout the series.  Stick around and we’ll be talking about Sebastian Bach, Helix, Rush of course, and plenty more.

TPB1-2TRAILER PARK BOYS – Big Plans, Little Brains: The Complete 1st and 2nd Seasons (2002 Alliance Atlantis)

Julian is an ex-con who calls Sunnyvale Trailer Park in Nova Scotia, Canada home. He has just been released from jail, and he’s vowed to clean up his life.  Go straight.  Ditch his bad influences.  The premise of Trailer Park Boys is that a camera crew has offered to make a documentary about Julian’s life, and will be following Julian around the trailer park.  Julian is determined to stay straight and not go back behind bars. His best friend Ricky, however, doesn’t have that same commitment to the straight life.

Trailer Park Boys took a season to find its feet, like many other series.  By the end of the first season (only six episodes), it had definitely done so.  Hang on folks, because the first and second seasons are just the beginning of what will turn out to be a pretty crazy series of mockumentary episodes.

In the beginning, the character of Bubbles (easily the funniest and most lovable of the boys) isn’t in the spotlight. Obviously, Mike Clattenberg and company realized Bubbles’ potential partway through the first season and began writing him larger parts. Also introduced in this season are Mr. Lahey and Randy, the trailer park supervisor and his assistant, who are not quite as drunk and stoned as they would get later on. Love interests Lucy and Sarah are here, not yet the adversaries to Ricky and Julian that they would become. Cory and Trevor are sidekicks (aka “jail cover”), and J-Roc and his “Roc-Pile” make their debut. Characters introduced that are later forgotten include Levi and Mrs. Peterson (who is like a grandmother to Julian). The dangerous Cyrus also makes his debut in the first episode, as a recurring antagonist.

The story arc:  Ricky and Julian return from jail to find the park has changed — Cyrus has taken over. All the criminal activities that Julian used to run in the park have now been assumed by Cyrus.  He’s even occupying Julian’s trailer.  The boys must somehow get rid of Cyrus without going back to jail. In the meantime, Julian decides to head to community college, and that means Ricky is persona-non-grata around him. J-Roc makes some cash on the side making “greasy” porno tapes, which Ricky thinks might be a good thing for him to star in (it’s not).  It’s all a build up to Ricky proposing to Lucy to finally be a good father and family man. It all comes crashing down at Ricky’s wedding which closes season 1.

While season 1 takes a while to build up speed, season 2 is full-on TPB. The verbal trainwrecks known as “Rickisms” abound.   Bubbles has become integrated as one of the main three. The get-rich quick schemes are now fully formed (or at least as fully-formed as they ever get on this show) and Lahey is a total fucking drunk. Season 2 sure hit the ground running with full confidence and skill.

TPB12_0002Yes, I used the word skill — to execute dialogue off-the-cuff like this and create such lovable characters out of criminals takes skill. The execution of this show is such that they make it look easy. I once heard it said that you have to be really smart to pull off a really dumb character.

Once again, Ricky and Julian have returned from jail.  Once again, the park has changed for the worse.  Lahey’s drunk and in neglect of his duties as trailer park supervisor.  As a consequence, the park has turned to shit.  Sam Losco (who lives in a camper, not even a full trailer) is seeking to be elected the new supervisor.  This would be very bad for Ricky and Julian.  With drunk Lahey around, it’s easy for Ricky to grow dope.  Sam Losco won’t make it that simple for them. New character Barb Lahey (Mr. Lahey’s ex-wife and owner of the park) and Treena Lahey, played by newcomer (!) Ellen Page add a new element to the show.

Since Lahey’s drunk out of his tree, it’s the perfect time for Ricky to start growing dope again (“Freedom 35, boys!”). All is almost derailed by some greasy Bible pimps, some dope-eating insects, new antagonist Sam Losco, and once again, Cyrus.  Other schemes this season involve J-Roc’s illegal night club in the trailer park, which does not go according to plan.

Lots of DVD bonus features are included, and the best one is the Tragically Hip video for “The Darkest One” starring the boys and Don Cherry! Great song. Lots of alternate and extended takes are included, and as an easter egg, the very first Bubbles short called “Cart Boy”.

The only negative thing I have to say is regarding the packaging. My case broke the day I brought it home, and so did those of some friends of mine.

5/5 stars

Winner – Best use of a crane shot in a music video – 2003 LeBrain Music Video Awards

REVIEW: Trailer Park Boys – The Movie (2006)

Are you a Tragically Hip fan?  Then read on.

TRAILER PARK BOYS – The Movie (2006 Alliance Atlantis)

Directed by Mike Clattenburg

The story goes that Ivan Reitman, who produced Trailer Park Boys: The Movie (aka “The Big Dirty”), wanted to do a movie that would re-introduce the characters and target them to a new audience.  He preferred the flavour of the earlier seasons and steered the movie in that direction.  This is sort of a good and bad thing.

The movie is out of continuity with the TV series, unfortunately.  There are characters and events in the movie that would never be referenced in the series.  Lahey loses the roof of his car in both the movie and the TV series, but in different ways.  You’ll notice Trinity is played by a different actress (Lydia Lawson-Baird), and her character is slightly different in tone as well.

Remember those movie trailers where the Boys are auditioning actors to play themselves? I think it’s best to think of this movie in that context: It’s the Boys playing themselves, in a movie based on themselves.  Even though we’re talking about fictional characters in a mockumentary movie.

The plot:  Ricky and Julian go to jail (again) and are about to be released (again). No fair! cries Ricky, who wants to play in the jail hockey tournament against the prison guards, captained by Donny.  The rivalry between Ricky (a goalie) and Donny (Gerry Dee) result in a few classic exchanges:

Ricky – “Suck it, Donny.”

Donny – “You suck it.  More.”

Ricky – “What kind of comeback was that?  I said ‘suck it’ and you just added ‘more’ to it.”

Donny – “Because it’s more, you suck it more.”

TPB_0002Out of jail, Rick goes home to Sunnyvale trailer park, only to find that things have changed. Lucy’s got a new job.  “An awesome new job,” according to Sarah.  “She workin’ at Horton’s again?” asks Ricky.  Nope, it’s not a coffee shop, it’s a “gentlemen’s club”.  This “gentlemen’s club” is owned by Sonny (Hugh Dillon, of the Headstones), and he’s banging Lucy.

Julian, also out of jail, has an idea to get rich “without getting caught”: Do small crimes.  Steal change!  Ricky, on the other hand, has met a lot of really “smart” guys in jail, and they all say “the big dirty” is the way to go: one big crime, and you’re retired. The two ideas are combined and a plan is set in motion. Will Ricky still be able to play in the hockey tournament?

In addition to new characters like Sonny and Donny, look for cameos by Alex Lifeson (Rush) and Gordon Downie (The Tragically Hip). The soundtrack kicks ass, featuring Helix, April Wine, and lots of The Tragically Hip.  I always think of this movie now when I hear the songs “Bobcaygeon” and “38 Years Old”.  Hell, Julian even goes to see a movie called “The Dark Canuck” in the film.

I really enjoyed Trailer Park Boys: The Movie even if it’s not quite pure Trailer Park Boys. It sort of attempts to recapture what worked in the early seasons (you can tell by casting Trinity as a younger girl) and by and large, it works. Sonny works as a replacement antagonist, a role that Cyrus often filled on the show.  All your favourite regulars such as Philadelphia Collins, Jacob Collins, and Officer George Green are here. Lahey is suitably drunk, and Randy as shirtless as ever.

This actually works pretty well as a way for newcomers to get into the show. It distills what worked best in the earlier years, into a two-hour package that stays funny and doesn’t wear out its welcome. Bonus features include the music video for “I Fought The Law” (featuring Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson!), and lots of alternate takes.

5/5 stars. Two smokes, let’s go.

“I could easily fuck over 10 pieces of chicken”