One of my favourite things to find on old VHS tapes are the TV ads. Here’s one you forgot about – Weird Al’s first video compilation! The Ultimate Collection and Alapalooza were brand new in 1993. It’s a special Christmas offer and you can even get your own “Yankasaurus”!
Check out Weird Al’s hilarious “interviews” with:
- a newly solo Vince Neil
- a jinxed Def Leppard
- and the prince of darkness himself, Ozzy Osbourne.
AlMusic was a full day of comedy and music, but I only taped the parts I knew I needed to have for my VHS Archives.
GETTING MORE TALE #644: On the Road with Peter and Ozzy
Peter started coming up to the cottage with us in the summer of 1991, after we both finished highschool. Peter didn’t pack light. On any given trip, Peter would pack the following items:
- Baseball gloves & ball
- A football
- Nintendo games
- At least a dozen movies
- Food, food and more food
- Several tapes for the car
Peter’s favourite artist for cottage road trips was Ozzy Osbourne. During the summer of 1992, No More Tears was in the deck. Peter skipped the ballads. No “Mama I’m Coming Home” for him! We also enjoyed Billy Idol. Peter made a special mission to pick up Whiplash Smile before a road trip. I can recall going to Fairview Mall, and opening the tape in the car. We were also into a band called Transvision Vamp who had a couple great car tunes – “Baby I Don’t Care” was one.
When he had a car CD changer, we played a fun guessing game. We’d throw in Nirvana’s Nevermind, and Weird Al Yankovic’s Off the Deep End. Peter hit shuffle. When we heard the classic chords to “Smells Like Teen Spirit”/”Smells Like Nirvana”, we had to guess who it actually was before the vocals began. It took a while to hear the difference. Eventually I could tell. Weird Al tends to do spot-on covers, instrumentally speaking.
Ozzy was good for passing other cars. Nothing like passing people going 150 kph on the highway, with Ozzy cackling “Crazy Train” out the windows. Black Sabbath was also handy. While visiting Frankenmuth Michigan, Peter scored a three CD Sabbath box set called The Ozzy Osbourne Years. It had virtually every song from the first six Sabbath albums, only missing instrumentals. I can distinctly remember passing cars to “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath”. Peter tried to synch up passing the cars to Ozzy shouting “You bastards!”
When we weren’t rocking, we were laughing. Peter had an extensive collection of comedy tapes and CDs. Andrew Dice Clay was a favourite. We liked his “Christmas song”:
“Suck his dick, til the veins are blue…
Suck his dick, til you take his goo…
Merry, merry Christmas….”
Dana Carvey also had a hilarious rock opera spoof song about choppin’ broccoli.
But the food! My God. Peter did not skimp on the food. He liked to treat the whole family to a chicken stir fry. He brought all the food and equipment. Once he even made his own chicken balls from scratch, with his mom’s special recipe. Noodles, bean sprouts, chopped veggies, and all the fixings: nothing was missing. Sometimes he’d bring a dessert, and always a bottle of wine. Choppin’ broccoli indeed.
We were never hungry nor bored. When available, we would run into town to buy fireworks. When we ran out, if Peter hadn’t got his fill, we’d go back in town to buy more. My mother used to joke that there was no downtime with Peter. When done one activity, he’d move right on into the next one. And if we had a building project on the go, he’d be there with his tools, in the fray helping out.
Car trips with Peter were unforgettable. Try passing a car while Ozzy shouts “You bastards!” out the window and you’ll have an idea what it was like to hang out with us.
While deleting old emails, I discovered two unreleased Record Store Tales written almost five years ago. I don’t know why they were never finished, so here’s one of ’em! The original draft was written June 28 2012.
GETTING MORE TALE #538: Just Eat It
To paraphrase Ricky, sometimes working in a record store is not all “peaches and cake”.
We did have cake sometimes. Grand openings, special occasions. The only peaches I ever saw were on Presidents of the USA albums.
Trying to eat lunch at work was an issue. We had a rule: No eating at the counter. Nobody wants to come into a store seeing somebody scarfing down a burger, drooling mayo all over their chin. But, sometimes you had very little choice. Like when you were working alone. This is how I got into the habit of not eating lunch anymore. I used to make sandwiches and then not have a chance to enjoy my lunch, because I was working alone and constantly getting interrupted. Oakville was the worst store for this.
Oakville was nice in one way, which was there was a Lick’s in the plaza (and a liquor store, which helped make things bearable after arriving home). So you’d go across and get a burger and fries. I liked my Lick’s burgers with sautéed onions (or “funky onions” as Jen calls them). I’d often be working with a trainee but still able able to sneak to the back room for a minute to inhale some fries. However, Oakville was a busy store for buying used stock – and I was the only buyer there. The trainees weren’t up to speed yet. So there would be this constant stream of bags and boxes coming in, and no time to eat. It often took me an hour or more to finish one soggy burger and some cold, dry fries.
Not to mention you’d be an idiot not to wash your hands repeatedly after handling the customers’ discs! The cases were often coated in a dry, smokey layer of crime. Sometimes you could smell the cigarettes. Sometimes the actual paper cover inside the case was stained yellowy-brown. In other cases, the discs were sticky with God knows what. (Dried soda? Food? Bodily fluids?) But you still had to handle them!
I’m told that one time a CD came in with what looked like semen on it, but I wasn’t witness to that.
One time early in my career, a guy brought in a box of discs where every single case was coated in a soapy, dry white coating. I felt gross just touching them. I passed on the box for that reason. Then he took them to another store to get a second opinion (they always did) and my boss took them. He gave me shit – “Why didn’t you take these discs?” Well, because I haven’t had my shots yet this year.
This is how I kind of got into the bad habit of eating candy bars and pepperoni for lunch. Stuff that came in nice wrappers so I didn’t have to handle the food with my hands. Stuff with zero nutritional value. I’m not a germophobe, but when you can’t eat a sandwich because you’re constantly handling disgusting discs and washing your hands, eventually you kind of get sick of even trying.
So, when people ask me, “What’s it like, working in a record store?” I always like to give them the truth. And the truth is, it’s not all peaches and cake!
“Hey! These floors are dirty as hell, and I’m not gonna take it anymore!” – Stanley Spadowski
I never understood why this brilliant, family friendly and absurd comedy wasn’t a hit. Weird Al never made another movie, such was the box office failure. UHF was simply ahead of its time. Today, viewers familiar with the Family Guy and modern comedy will “get” the tangents and bizarre fantasy sequences. Also, it’s important to remember that this great cast was barely known at the time. Michael Richards was pre-Seinfeld. Fran Drescher had yet to become the Nanny. David Proval was years away from playing Tony Soprano’s nemesis in season two. The only one I’d heard of in 1989 was Billy Barty!
George Newman (Yankovic) is an unemployed dreamer who lands a crummy job managing a UHF TV station on the verge of bankruptcy and permanent closure. He just can’t focus, constantly losing himself in rich, heroic dreamscapes. Weird Al as Indiana Jones…Weird Al as Rambo…Weird Al as Mark Knopfler…Can he use his imagination to help the TV station survive? If he doesn’t, his girlfriend Terri (Victoria Jackson) isn’t likely to stick around for long. Fortunately George’s best friend Bob (David Bowe) is there to help.
The station, U-62, comes with its own assortment of personalities. Pamela (Drescher) is the hard working receptionist dying to make the move to on-camera. Noodles McIntosh (Billy Barty) is a 3’9″ camera man! And then there’s Filo, the “chief engineer” who actually lives at the station. (He’s currently working on his interocitor, a reference from the 1955 science fiction classic This Island Earth. If you’ve seen This Island Earth, remember that reference next time you watch UHF. Get it?)
Unfortunately for George Newman, Channel 8 across town doesn’t want U-62 to succeed. RJ Fletcher (Kevin McCarthy) wants to buy it and turn it into a parking lot. Fletcher, a prick, also cruelly fires his best janitor Stanley Spadowski (Michael Richards) over a misunderstanding. Newman hires Stanley, and even buys him a new mop. His old one, which Fletcher’s goons confiscated, was a birthday gift from his mom.
Newman introduces some new shows to U-62 (Wheel of Fish, Raul’s Wild Kingdom, Secrets of the Universe, Uncle Nutzy’s Clubhouse), but nothing really takes off until Stanley is given his own show, Stanley Spadowski’s Clubhouse. His crazy personality endears him to all ages and his show becomes the hottest in town. RJ Fletcher, however, doesn’t intend to let the station’s success continue. Can George and his friends raise enough money to save the station?
UHF is very special for a few reasons. One is that Weird Al does parody better than anyone. The parodies of Geraldo, Rambo, Ghandi, Conan the Barbarian, and more are still being quoted by fans today. Then there’s Michael Richards. The great thing about Michael Richards, says Al, is that you can just “turn him on and tell him to go crazy for two minutes”, and that seems to be how most of the Stanley Spadowski scenes seem to work. And it’s brilliant. Kids who saw this movie in the 80’s loved Stanley. He’s not only an innocent soul who loves cleanliness, but he’s absolutely whacky, hilarious, lovable and loyal. Third, the movie has a good heart. It celebrates imagination, uniqueness and loyalty, qualities that we all value. And of course it also has those random, rapidly changing sketch comedy bits, not too different from Monty Python and SCTV in style. It’s actually intelligent comedy.
The audio commentary on this DVD is great — even Michael Richards stops by to chat. The deleted scenes are a stream of cut bits, but Weird Al’s intro and commentary makes it hilarious. They weren’t in the movie because they suck, says Al! But if they didn’t put them on the DVD, we’d all be whining that they didn’t include any deleted scenes. He has a point! Some characters and shows (such as “Those Darn Homos”, which seems to be about two men who chase each other around a room trying to spank each other with spatulas) were cut completely from the film, so this is the only place you’d see them. As is usually the case, the movie is better for the cuts made. Additionally there is a short behind the scenes doc, explaining the origin of “Wheel of Fish” and more. Al and the cast aren’t serious in the interviews, which are hilarious:
Q: “Why do they call you Weird Al?”
A: “I don’t know, I guess people are basically cruel. I don’t know why they call me Al.”
There’s a huge photo gallery, standard fare for a DVD, and they’re fun but non-essential. The music video for “UHF” is present (the first time he shaved off his moustache, to play Axl Rose!), an indispensable companion piece. Even the menus are awesome, with Al himself popping up and acting silly. My only real beef about the DVD is this: It’s one of those double sided discs with widescreen on one side and full screen on the other. But the deleted scenes are only on the full screen side, so you have to eject and flip the disc just to watch them, because nobody watches full screen anymore.
Do you wanna drink from the fire hose? Then get UHF. It’s out on Blu-ray, too.
For the Top Whatever of No Pre-Determined Amount from two of Canada’s most knowledgeable rock gods, stay tuned right here. From Meaford Ontario, weighing in at XXX lbs, it’s Iron Tom Sharpe, who turns it up to 11.
Tom’s Top Eleven of 2014
11. Various Artists – RONNIE JAMES DIO: This Is Your Life
10. JUSTIN TOWNES EARLE – Single Mothers
9. MASTODON – Once More ‘Round the Sun
8. EARLY MAN – Thank God You’ve Got the Answers For Us All
7. OPETH – Pale Communion
6. JOHN GARCIA – John Garcia
5. ST. PAUL & the BROKEN BONES – Half the City
4. sHEAVY – The Best Of sHeavy – A Misleading Collection
3. DRIVE-BY TRUCKERS – English Oceans
2. BRANT BJORK and the LOW DESERT PUNK BAND – Black Power Flower
1. ORANGE GOBLIN – Back From The Abyss
Saving the best for last, here’s Uncle Meat. For added rocket sauce he’s also given me his top movies of 2014.
Meat’s Top Eight of 2014
8. MASTODON – Once More ‘Round the Sun
7. ECHO AND THE BUNNYMEN – Meteorites
6. FOO FIGHTERS – Sonic Highways
5. “WEIRD AL” YANKOVIC – Mandatory Fun
4. FLYING COLORS – Second Nature
3. BRANT BJORK and the LOW DESERT PUNK BAND – Black Power Flower
2. DRIVE-BY TRUCKERS – English Oceans
1. ORANGE GOBLIN – Back From the Abyss
Meat’s Top Twelve Movies of 2014
11. X Men : Days of Future Past
10. St. Vincent
8. The Lego Movie
7. The Grand Budapest Hotel
6. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
5. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
4. Guardians of the Galaxy
3. Get On Up