Eugene Levy

Sunday Screening: SCTV – “2009: Jupiter and Beyond”

The 1983-84 season of SCTV was its last…but it was my first! Season six aired bi-weekly on Superchannel in Canada, where I was first introduced to the show. One of our favourite sketches was “2009: Jupiter and Beyond”, the “authorized” sequel to Stanley Kubrick’s 2001.

Starring “Paul Simon” (Rick Moranis), “Art Garfunkel” (Joe Flaherty) and “Ernest Borgnine” (Eugene Levy)!  Co-starring Irving Cohen and Idella Voudry (Martin Short and Mary Charlotte Wilcox)!  Directed by Woody Tobias, Jr (also Levy).  That pesky monolith is up to no good again!  Or is it?

I guess you’ll just have to watch 2009: Jupiter and Beyond yourself to understand the riddle of the monolith.

Sunday Screening: Maudlin O’ the Night (SCTV)

I’ve been watching a lot of classic SCTV lately, and this is the second Sunday Screening from the show.  It’s quirky stuff that resonates only with those who have a more…refined taste in comedy.  Like those of us from the Great White North.

Sammy Maudlin is Joe Flaherty’s late night talk show character.  Maudlin had been doing the late night talk show host thing for years, until an ill-advised 80s reboot under the name Maudlin O’ the Night.  This is a wry satire of Alan Thicke’s Thicke of the Night reboot in the early 1980s.  Sammy kicked out sideman William B. Williams (John Candy) and replaced him with “The Zanies” – four idiots headlined by Howie Soozloff (Martin Short).  Howie Soozloff is a spot-on parody of early period Howie Mandel.

It was Martin Short’s performance as Soozloff that had me in stitches.  Other guests include Henry Kissinger (Eugene Levy) and Jennifer Beals (Andrea Martin).  Maudlin O’ the Night is a trainwreck waiting to happen, so just watch it unfold.

One of my favourite episodes as a kid.

Sunday Screening: The Queen Haters – “I Hate the Bloody Queen”

I haven’t been posting Sunday Screening videos for the last couple weeks. If I’m asking you to watch me for several hours every Friday night, the last thing I want to encourage is even more screen time.

However I’ve also been watching a lot of classic SCTV lately, and this one always comes up.  A spoof of “God Save the Queen”, this is “I Hate the Bloody Queen” by the Queen Haters!

The Queen Haters:

  • Martin Short – lead vocals
  • Eugene Levy – lead guitar
  • Joe Flaherty – bass guitar
  • Andrea Martin – rhythm guitar
  • John Candy – drums

This performance is from Mel’s Rock Pile hosted by Rockin’ Mel Slirrup (Eugene Levy)

“I Hate the Bloody Queen”

I’ve always had a dream
I’d like to meet the Queen
I’d punch her in the face
Yeah, that would make me laugh

I’d love to kick her in the teeth
And then I’d make a picture of it
In lovely Ektachrome
And then I’d give it to the Prince

(Chorus)
I hate the bloody Queen
She made me go to school
I hate the bloody Queen
And all her bloody rules

I’d like to drown the queen
Off the coast of Argentine
Throw her off a battleship
With her Falkland war machine

She taxes me to death
I can’t afford me dope
I’d like to get her high
Yeah, that would make me laugh

(Chorus)

I feel sorry for you Lady Di
Havin’ a mother-in-law like that

#736: San Fransisky? Did you drove or did you flew?

GETTING MORE TALE #736: San Fransisky? Did you drove or did you flew?

One of the first friends I met when I started at the Record Store in 1994 was Christina, better known as “San Fransisky”.  I’ll get to that in a minute as it requires an explanation.  San Fransisky was a friendly, outgoing girl who worked at the dollar store around the corner called A Buck or Two.  When I was the rookie in my first months at the Record Store, she would come in and chat, which helped me feel welcome at the Mall.  Our store played her store in the Mall bowling tournament, and I think they probably beat us.

San Fransisky was Portuguese and proud of it.  Her house had one of those front rooms for your shoes, and another room that was strictly decorative.  You didn’t go into that room or sit in it, it was to be admired from outside.  My memory is hazy on one detail, but I could swear that room had a stuffed (taxidermied) dog in it.  But what about that nickname “San Fransisky”?

When she used to call my house, the call display showed her dad’s name Fransisco.  This led to my dad doing his best Sid Dithers impression.  Remember Sid Dithers, Eugene Levy’s overtly Jewish character on SCTV?  His catch phrase was “San Fransisky?  So how did you came here, did you drove or did you flew?”

Every time she called the house, the name came up “Fransisco” and my dad would howl, “San Fransisky?  How did you came here, did you drove or did you flew?”  Nobody in our house even called her Christina.  It was San Fransisky.  That’s the effect my dad can have when he repeats the same joke over and over again.

She was cool; we used to go out to eat, see Rangers games, and enjoy general good times.  The owner at the Record Store knew San Fransisky long before I did, and according to legend they once had this conversation:

Owner – “Hey Christina, ask me if I’ve ever had sex in my store.”

San Fransisky – “No!  I don’t want to know that!  Gross!”

Owner – “Go ahead, ask me if I’ve ever had sex in my store!”

San Fransisky, sighing – “Have you ever had sex in your store?”

Owner – “I’m not telling! Hahah!”

I like to think that he did it over in the rap section.

Nothing lasts forever and the Record Store eventually moved out of the Mall.  We continued to hang out with San Fransisky after hours but problems in the friendship began to emerge.  I was never much of a night owl.  I didn’t go out to bars, or to dance at the clubs, but once in a blue moon.  San Fransisky thought that if I wanted to meet someone, I needed to get out to the bars.  I didn’t like the music, the crowds, or even drinking that much.  I would decline but she’d really push, and push persistently.  People who really know me also know that I hate being pushed.  If I say no to something, please just respect that.

“Mike if you came out you’ll really have a good time,” she’d insist.  “You know if you keep saying no, people are going to stop asking you to go out.”  I knew that, and eventually that’s what happened.

I really pissed her off once in the winter of ’96.  She was setting me up with one of her friends.  It was a skating date, and it was OK.  Nothing happened for a while.  Several weeks after, we all went out together again as a group to go bowling, loser having to sing karaoke afterwards.  San Fransisky brought two of her friends, and I brought two of mine.  One of them happened to be my ex.  Turns out, the girl that San Fransisky was trying to set me up with, didn’t appreciate that I brought my ex bowling.  Ah well.  I screwed up that night absolutely gloriously even after that.  I lost at bowling, and I had to sing.  When I sing karaoke, there’s one song I always go to:  “The Immigrant Song”.

I don’t know if San Fransisky had ever been more embarrassed in her life.  I had a great time, but I was definitely on her shit list.

She was starting to get a little demanding as a customer at the Record Store too.  She wanted better discounts than I was allowed to give, and she wanted more money for her used DVDs than I was permitted.  There was a dispute over the movie Bubble Boy.  She wanted way more than I could pay, and the disc was pretty scratched up too.  She wouldn’t let it go.

The next bump in our friendship involved a guy named Hercules.  I have no idea what his real name was.  San Fransisky met Hercules at the bar.  If I remember the details correctly, she didn’t know his name so she called him Hercules.  I remember Hercules lied about his age and his name, which set off alarm bells.  T-Rev and I met him once, but soon after he told San Fransisky that she was not to see us anymore.  He was that kind of boyfriend.  We didn’t like it, but we were cut off.  T-Rev may or may not have felt like inflicting violence upon Hercules, but he is a peaceful man who finds violence to be the last refuge of the weak minded.  If someone got mad and challenged T-Rev to a fight, he’d laugh and say, “Sure, because if we fight and I win, that means I was right, and if you win that means you were right.”  We knew Hercules wouldn’t last long.  San Fransisky was an independent girl with lots of friends.  It wasn’t in her nature to be locked down like that.

Eventually San Fransisky re-emerged, told us that Hercules was done, that we were right.  That was that and we all moved on.  But, like many things, friendships often have a trajectory in life.  We were all changing.  T-Rev moved to Sarnia, and I drifted away from San Fransisky.

Our friendship ended permanently after I bought a place in the same condo complex that she lived.  We were briefly in contact again, but she got mad at me when I was mentioned I was interested in buying a used microwave oven from a friend of hers, and then changed my mind because new ones were so cheap.  I just went over to Canadian Tire (or “Newfy Speed N’ Sport” as T-Rev used to call it) and bought a small one out of box.  It just seemed like I should have a new clean microwave for my first place.  She was pissed that I reneged on the deal; sorry about that.

The straw that broke the camel’s back was fittingly over a CD.  We met at a CD store, and we departed over a CD.  This story was recounted in Record Store Tapes Part 313:  Not Allowed Lending!  We were living in the same building, and she was having a party upstairs.  Keep in mind, I knew how well she took care of her CDs and DVDs, because she used to trade them in to me at the store.

The story continues as follows.


A few weeks after I moved in, she came down to my unit. She was having a party upstairs. She needed some music.

“Do you have any Beatles?” she asked me.

“Yup, I have the Red and Blue albums. They’re excellent. The Red one probably has all the songs you’d want for a party.”

VH 194_0001She asked me about a couple more CDs.  Van Halen was one. I got them out of my CD tower.

“You’re going to take care of these, right? And you’ll return them tomorrow morning?” I asked pointedly.

“It might not be tomorrow morning but I’ll bring them back, of course.”

I knew how this girl took care of her own CDs. I had bought enough used discs from her at the store. She always bitched when I told her the discs were scratched up. She never put them back in the case, and left them out all the time.  Knowing her ways of handling discs, I added additional instructions.

“I want you to be careful with these discs, and put them back in the cases when you’re done. I also want you to make sure nobody else touches my CDs. Only you.  I want them back exactly as they are.”

She gave me this flabbergasted expression. What she said next was the sentence that ended what was left of our “friendship”:

“What do you care if they get scratched?! You work at the store!”

That was it. I told her I wouldn’t loan her the CDs if that was her attitude. She went upstairs in an angry huff, and we never socialized again. I ran into her now and then, and she was always bitchy.  The friendship was over.

 


She moved out of the building later that year, got married and de-friended me on social media.  I’m not even sure what her new name is.  I do know one thing that has not changed.  I still have those Beatles CDs, in the exact condition I bought them in.  That microwave still works, too!

It’s been at 15 years since she moved, but I hope San Fransisky is out there doing well.  Some personalities are just not meant to mix for extended periods of time, but there are more good memories than bad.  Bowling, arcades, playing cards, eating food, and mini-golf.  Good times.  Such a shame she couldn’t take care of her CDs!

 

REVIEW: A Mighty Wind – The Album (2003 soundtrack)

A MIGHTY WIND – The Album (2003 Sony Music Soundtrax)

It’s way too easy to dismiss this album as a novelty. After all, movie stars singing songs in a comedy movie rarely amounts to anything substantial. However, the Oscar nomination for “A Kiss At The End of The Rainbow” lends this album credibility. Not to mention, most of these people have been singing for years. Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara frequently had musical numbers on SCTV. Michael McKean, Harry Shearer, and Christopher Guest perform here as The Folksmen, but they are probably best knows as their alter egos, Spinal Tap.

I can’t say that every song is a winner. I’m not a huge fan of the stylings of The New Main Street Singers (Jane Lynch, John Michael Higgins, Parker Posey, et. al. in a “neuftet”). It”s just not to my taste.  As Harry Shearer says in the movie itself, “Would you rather hear a toothpaste commercial, or some music?”  The New Main Street Singers are the toothpaste commercial.  It works in the context of the movie. On the album, well, I could live without!

The estranged couple Mitch & Mickey (Levy and O’Hara) sing a beautiful song called “When You’re Next To Me” on track 3. It’s pretty stock until the second verse, when O’Hara comes in with her harmonies, and at that point I can believe that this is a real, serious folk duo. After all, they’ve been working together in various incarnations almost as long as their movie counterparts. Great song, and a great performance.

Finally, The Folksmen pull out their greatest hit(!), “Old Joe’s Place”, a fun novelty track that’s instantly catchy and memorable. You won’t be able to stop singing, if you can keep up with the rapid fire lyrics. Even better is “Never Did No Wanderin'”, on which the three singers meld perfectly. Not to mention these guys can really play their instruments, don’t underestimate them.

Lyrically, the jokes (when present) are sometimes a little subtle. For example, “Blood On The Coals”. Since there were so many folk songs about train accidents, and just as many folk songs about coal mine disasters, why not combine the two? So it’s a song about a train that crashes into a coal mine.  Elsewhere, the jokes are more obvious. The Folksmen end their cover of “Start Me Up” faithfully to the Stones’ original, which sounds absurd.  I like the absurd.

Although I cannot pick a favourite song, I think “A Kiss At The End Of The Rainbow” is as beautiful and perfect as music gets.

Lastly, the CD is enhanced with a bonus video: “When You’re Next to Me” by Mitch & Mickey live, which was deleted from the movie.  This feature is only advertised inside the CD booklet.    In the days of Youtube, this really isn’t much of a feature anymore, but I remember being quite excited to discover it back in 2003.

Don’t let the “comedy” tag scare you off. These are just great songs. It should hardly be a surprise — The Folksmen used to open for their alter egos Spinal Tap decades ago! These guys are all pros.

4/5 stars