Friday, March 2, 2007

I love Van Halen.

I love Van Halen. Not their music. Although I admire Eddie Van Halen's out-of-this-world ability, I have always felt that musically and lyrically, Van Halen the band are only slightly more significant than Poison and Ratt.

No, I love Van Halen the way I love This Is Spinal Tap. A recent history of the band shows: They are to be inducted into the Hall of Fame March 12th. So they get together. They think they might like playing again, now with David Lee Roth. Bass player Michael Anthony is playing in Sammy Hagar's band. Van Halen says you can't be in two bands at once. (Eric Clapton, I suppose, being the exception that proves this rule.) So they fire Anthony and replace him with Eddie's 15-year-old son Wolfgang.

They can't start to tour until Wolfgang's school year is over, but an announcement is made that a 40-city tour is on the horizon. This announcement is made by Eddie's girlfriend and publicist, a former porn actress who is now his manager. The announcement is later recanted, since the tour was never discussed with David Lee Roth. Or anyone else.

The tour was ostensibly to support the release of a new Greatest Hits album. Van Halen obviously need a new greatest hits CD, since the five they currently have out are not representative enough. Now the release of that CD has been delayed. Either because the tour isn't happening right away, and they want to wait for that to happen, or because the band is fighting over it.

The band says they have not talked about the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony yet, so they have no idea what will happen at that event. It's two weeks away. So they decide to talk about it. sammy Hagar says he's willing to share the stage with Roth if need be. Roth says "go to hell, Hagar. Not happening.", maybe not in those exact words. The band fights.

This is all within the last month. As things stand right now, the tour's on hold. The album is on hold. And there's a good chance that nobody from the band will actually attend the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction. Nobody! And it's definite that even if some of the members DO attend, they will definitely not play.

Velvet Revolver have been chosen to play in place of Van Halen, and Slash and Scott Weiland will also speak on the behalf of the VH boys. So, really, there's no need for them to show up. If they do, they won't be saying anything or doing anything. Which is likely what will happen for the next year or so concerning the tour and the album. They won't be saying anything or doing anything. Go Van Halen! there's a fine line between clever and stupid!

Fine day for Doc to be off.

Between myself and Woody, we know two jokes. Woody's is about a sky diver and a barbecue explosion. Mine is about two deaf mutes who whip out their units. We went with Woody's for the nasty joke at 5:40 this morning.

You see, Doc is off sick today. And he is the one who finds the nasty joke. He is also the one who keeps a backup joke handy in case of emergencies. Apparently, he used the backup joke recently, because it is no longer in it's secret hiding space. And he emailed us a joke just in case we needed one. But our computers were all down when we arrived this morning.

So not only did we not have internet access, we also had no access to newspapers or information of any kind, since the papers were not delivered to us, or the stores near us, until much later in the morning. Winging it today! I had made some preparations at home, and then emailed them to myself so I could print them out at the station. Which of course I couldn't do. Until 7:00 this morning, I was going from memory.

Then the weather began. It was a bit treacherous getting TO work, but nothing like the roads after 7. What a mess out there! All buses cancelled. Well...almost all buses. West Quebec School Board is still running exceopt to two schools. No, West Quebec is not running. And their schools are closed while everyone else is open. No, that's wrong. OK - West Quebec recently split into two school boards, West Quebec and Portage de L'Outaouias, and they never told anyone. So West Quebec is running, mostly, but Portage de L"Outaouais is not, and THEIR schools are closed. WHAT?

Now we wait for accidents. Without access to traffic cameras or websites. Or information. At least our phones are working.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

A day in the life of a promo guy.

Yesterday I got a chance to see what it's like to do promo. Me, I haven't been allowed to do actual "promo" work since I crashed up a couple of cars here and there. But I needed a ride home yesterday, and Jason agreed to provide me with one, provided I would help him with his duties for the day.

We needed to take the CHEZ truck over to Travel-Mor to get the trailer hitch removed. When we got there, we waited a while because Jason had forgotten his golf clubs in the CHEZ concert trailer, which was still on the Travel-Mor lot. That took about a half hour.

Then on to Ziebart, where another car was being detailed. So we dropped off the one car, picked up the other, and were out of there in about ten minutes. I made Jason stop to buy porn.

Then we headed out to Perth. You see, one car had to be dropped off, and we needed to drive two out so that we had a ride home. That went well enough, but it's a long drive by yourself.

While we were in Perth, Jason got a phone call from his boss, saying he needed something picked up in Smith's Falls while we were there, so we zipped over to our Smiths Falls office before heading home.

Of course, Jason does not have a key for the Smiths Falls office, and there was no one there. We called the one guy who has the key, and he said he'd be there in a coupls of hours after he picked up his daughter from school.

So we had two hours to kill, so we went to the bar. My driving duties for the day were over, so I had four pints at Rob Roy's. Fine place. Jason had a hoagie. When John showed up with the key, he joined me for a quick bite while Jason ran off to make a copy of the key so this situation would not arise again.

So Jason picked up the prize we needed, then drove back to Ottawa, dropped me off at home, and was on his way to drop the prize off to a disgruntled listener at his house. By this time it was 6:00. Jason had worked a ten-hour day, with a couple more hours to go, and I had worked for15 hours. Well, to be fair, I drank for two of those hours. So I had worked for thirteen. Thank God my normal day ends at 9 a.m. Well...two days a week at least.

The bigwigs arrive

So yesterday, when all the big bosses arrived in town, and we stuck around after work for a meeting, I was wearing pants. Much to my own dismay, I must add. It turns out that had I been pantsless, or my pants had been deemed inadequate for such an occasion, I would have been forcibly removed from the building, and as such would have been able to avoid the meeting altogether.

I was still, along with Randall, the most under-dressed person for the meeting. When someone from high up in the company arrives, it has somehow become de rigeur for people who ordinarily wear what they feel like wearing to get dressed up in suits and ties with shiny shoes and brand new haircuts. I don't quite understand this. Maybe the idea is that someone who is so high up in the company that he doesn't know who I am or what I do will see me, and say to himself, "boy, do I ever like the cut of that man's jib. And what a super blazer. I must promote him, whatever it is that he does".

So now everyone in the building (except for the Doc and Woody show and a few straggling producers) is now dressed like our sales people. The big cheese couldn't tell us apart anyway...whatever. And I don't begrudge the sales people for dressing in suits each day. They're sales people. It's what they do. What I find most amusing now though, is that now that our bosses are in the building for their once-a-year visit, everyone is now talking like the sales people. "I have a question about pushing our brand forward." "How can we best maximize our earning potential vis-a-vis..." And these are NOT the sales people. It's everyone.

I think the main reason for all this is that as a company we present a unified front. The big guys come in once a year, every time they come the office looks and sounds like this, and they think "wow, this must be what it's like all the time! I would have thought a radio station would be a lot more slovenly and rowdy, with more disreputable types. But it looks like there are only four, standing over in that corner. Tremendous!"

The meeting itself was rather dry, except for the moments where everyone laughed at what I think might have been jokes by the boss, but I was in the corner scarfing pastries as quick as I could, and I never heard them. But what happened after the meeting made me smile quite a bit.

Apparently, once the paeons and slobs had dispersed, the REAL braintrust had a meeting of their own to go over real topics. Our top sales guys, Jeff Brown, our General Manager, and all the bigwigs from other parts of Canada. One of these real topics, it turns out, was the downloading and playing, on a big screen, of my ass-painting video from the Doc and Woody Fun Page. They may not have known who I was before...but that video will leave an indelible impression in any brain, and that impression may be positive or extremely negative. When Jeff told me he had shown it to the bosses, my first question was "am I fired?" But it must have gone OK. The big bosses say my naked butt, witnessed my disturbing and gross extra-curricular activities, and I still have a job. Banzai! Now I wait to see what happens if they read my blog.

What's wrong with Pyjamas?

So on Monday, I had a friend staying over at my house. She fell asleep on the couch, which is also where I had happened to take off my pants. So she happened to fall asleep on my pants. I wasn't going to be rude, and wake her up at 2 in the morning to get off my pants, so I let her continue sleeping. And left the pants. My other pants were all in the wash, in that between-the-washer-and-the-dryer stage.

So I had no recourse but to wear my pyjamas in to work. They are a fine pair of Spongebob pyjamas. They are flannel, warm, and say "Spongebob Sleepypants", with several pictures of Spongebob happily asleep and dreaming. I believe he is saying "Zzzzz".

I was pleasantly surprised when no one said anything. Randall noticed right away, I explained, and he never said anything after that. But at about 8:30, when the show was almost over, Doc finally said..."are you wearing pyjamas?" and Woody said "yeah, I didn't want to say anything...". By the way, this is a good idea. Never say anything to a man wearing pyjamas. If someone is going to snap and fight everyone in the room, it's going to be the guy in flannel.

Doc, it seems, had spent the first four hours of the day thinking that I was wearing some kind of throwback 80s splash pants, and just thought to himself "geez, them kids have funny ideas about fashion these days". He resisted the urge to yell at me to get off his porch, and kept his opinions to himself. Only when he noticed the drawstring and Spongebob, who was not around in the 80s, did he think that perhaps I was underdressed for the day.

Not that any of this matters, of course. I'm in radio. Nobody sees me, and if I get sent out to do something, I'm usually wearing something far more embarrassing than Spongebob pyjamas. In fact, I spend my whole day in these, normally. I wear them to Mac's when I buy milk, to Subway, to Zellers. No need to dress up when I'm not at a wedding, right?

Well, therein lay the problem. Apparently, the following day (yesterday) here at work was just like a wedding. And that was the day we chose to talk about the pyjamas. All the bigwig bosses from Toronto and across Canada were in town to give one of those "motivational speeches to the troops". I had forgotten, but I was dressed in one of my nicer T-Shirts (Jack Daniels - it's black and exquisite) and a fine pair of jeans. No more pyjamas.

But we talked pyjamas on the air, Doc having figured it out too late the previous day to talk about it. He asked people to phone in if they would ever wear pyjamas to work. Every single caller said it was perfectly normal that I had done that. Ha! But the boss, Jeff Brown, was listening, and he had to call in to make sure I was wearing pants! The bosses, after all, were in town. An hour later, Jason, our promo guy, called in. Once again, to make sure I was wearing pants! He had been instructed, this time by the big boss, to make sure I had pants on, and if not, to escort me from the building. I'm not joking here. Apparently, I'm the most dangerous guy at CHEZ. Well, either me or Spongebob.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Turn the knob to suck...the Oscars are on.

Why do the Academy Awards suck to such a large degree? Is it because they go on so long, or because no one has seen the nominated movies, or because there is a red carpet and people with microphones walking on it? Maybe all of these things.

The question "who are you wearing?" has ruined the two hours leading up to the Oscars. No, that's not true, those two hours were always garbage, this has just made it even worse. And the length of the Oscar ceremony is only so bad because there are 26 awards given out at the ceremony. People care about six of these awards.

Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor/Actress and Supporting Actor/Actress. That's it. The only people who are about Best Lighting are those whose family members are nominated. And since when they win, they thank every one of those family members, couldn't they just get those awards in their living rooms and then make some phone calls?

You can tell how significant an award is based on how many times someone has won that award. If a lady is up there to grab her 19th Oscar for Costume Design, then she's likely one of only six people who actually design costumes for Hollywood. No one cares. And the other categories that people DO care about are very much overrated.

The ability to stick a "Best Picture Winner" sticker on the cover of your DVD will in fact move many more copies. No question. But does anyone really trust the Academy to choose the picture that really deserves to win? How many of us, with the benefit of hindsight, can really say that Shakespeare in Love was better than Saving Private Ryan? I would say that no one would agree to that now, but that's because we all saw both movies AFTER the awards show was over.

Elizabeth Taylor winning an Oscar for Butterfield 8? That might be top twenty worst movies of all time. And how many more movies will star Jennifer Hudson? How many Oscars are in her future? My guess is three, and zero. But she has an Oscar. Big deal. Stanley Kubrick - no Oscars. Peter O'Toole - no Oscars. Would you rather have Peter O'Toole's career, or Marisa Tomei's? Yeah.

At least Scorcese has his now - I read an article in the Sun yesterday that suggested he was LEAST deserving of the award for this movie, The Departed. Their point was that The Departed was based on a Hong Kong movie, and copied some of their shots almost exactly. So what? The Departed also directly quoted a camera shot from The Third Man, a classic from the 50s starring Orson Welles. It quoted from a 1930s movie called "M", a Fritz Lang classic starring Peter Lorre. But it is the greatest undercover cop movie ever made, and Scorcese did it. This one deserved Best Picture as well.

Alan Arkin, on the other hand, gets his Best Supporting Actor based on his career achievement, rather than his work in Little Miss Sunshine as such. Steve Carrell is much better in that film, and deserves the nomination even more than Arkin. By extension, he deserves the Oscar more as well. And maybe will get one someday.

I'm tired of the Oscars. Next year, I'll be back watching.

Fox news

I love Fox news. It's hilarious. Every time I turn it on, someone is spinning news in a neo-con sort of way that I find amusing. What I find amusing, mostly, is that Fox news believes that the American people watching are dumb enough to accept this tripe as news. What I find scary is that they actually are.

Anyone who finds Bill O'Reilly informative is fairly dim-witted. Those who find him hilarious are not nearly numerous enough. Any guy who wages a four-year war on France over the Iraq war without ever acknowledging that there were no weapons of mass destruction ever found there, is hilarious. But when people believe him, he's scary.

Is there a funnier slogan than "Fair and Balanced"? Unless it's "News at the speed of Live"...or maybe "I'm putting you on notice". Is anyone keeping track of how many people are now "on notice" courtesy of Bill O'Reilly?

I have found a documentary that hits Fox news right between the eyes, and I'm talking about it here because I don't plan to talk about it on Cynical Cinema. First of all, I don't think it's around on DVD (I receieved a burnt copy from a...source...that I no longer recall). I can't find on the net a place that sells it or rents it, so I think maybe it was copied off the TV or something. The DVD I got comes with two special features - Bill O'Reilly's appearance on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and a Fifth Estate episode about the conservative media and their dirty tactics.

The film itself is called Fox News: Fake and Biased. We all know how Fox managed to give the election to Bush when Gore was the guy who won. We all know that Fox doesn't just lean right, but rather acts as a 24-hour propaganda commercial for the Republican party. But to actually watch the film is still rather eye-opening. And it's not because of a leftist bias held by the filmmakers. In fact, it's more of a pro-journalism bias, in the sense that the outrage does not come on behalf of the left, but rather on behalf of the sanctity of factual journalism.

If you can find it, watch it. Unfortunately, I don't know where it is, such that it can be found. Fox News: Fake and Biased. Fun stuff! Bite me Bill O'Reilly.

Video is now up.

The gross video of me butt-painting is now up. Enjoy before or after a meal.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Lambden window and door

I went into my live commercial at Lambden Window and Door in Carleton Place with a small amount of trepidation. It's one thing when you're selling electronics or hot tubs - I use electronics and hot tubs. But I know nothing about doors and windows, and even less about Carleton Place, except that Jeff Brown lives there, and I once got drunk in a hotel there while watching a Led Zeppelin tribute band called The Vibe Remains the Same.

It turns out my fears were unfounded, since there were so many prizes to give away and so much to do that I could barely get out half the information in each cut-in. I learned almost nothing about windows and doors, but I learned a lot about Carleton Place.

Mostly, I learned that Jeff Brown is very protective about his little hamlet. Normally, I do a live commercial like this one, and on Tuesday, when I see the boss, he either says "that was really good on the weekend", or "buy did that ever suck. You suck." But not this one.

Jeff must have called me three times in the first hour, to tell me to talk about certain things. "You should mention that people can win $1,000.00." OK, so I did. Another call. "You said they were ELIGIBLE to win $1,000, but that means they will all think they DID win a thousand bucks...so make sure you mention the draw." OK. Only in Carleton Place! Great town though.

The mayor of Carleton Place showed up. The people at Lambden wanted me to bring him on to do a one-minute piece with me. But then everyone was gone too fast for me to find out about what. What was he going to say? "I'm the mayor. Great deals at Lambden." Who knows? It never took place - I was going to get him to do one of the prize draws, but he disappeared and it never came up again. Just as well. I did all the on-air stuff myself, and I got to meet the mayor of Carleton Place. Real nice guy. I've forgotten his name.

Art is in the eye of the beholder...there's no beauty here.

I have spent the day looking at myslef basically naked. Not in the mirror (well, not since this morning), but rather on videotape. You see, the boys from Spectrum Sound and Vision shot a long video of me in "action" as I created the five works of art that are soon to hang in the Parkdale Art Gallery.

So today we edited the video, which meant we had to watch the entire 3-hour shoot again, from two different angles, (both rather unflattering to me) and then cut it all down to about a minute.

I had thrown out the thong I had used previously, so I needed something to make sure the video wouldn't be thrown off youtube for adult content. I found a pair of women's underwear that I had used for a previous event, maybe the French maid thing, I can't remember. I put them on backwards, because only the behind part of women's underwear can contain the in front part of me. So in the video, just above my behind, you can see the sparkly butterfly that is meant to be on the front of the underwear.

This is the least stressful part of the video. Those of you who gag easily, or who really don't want to see a fat guy with women's underwear holing up in box canyon, I suggest you maybe give the video a pass. For the rest of you...maybe see a doctor.

Altogether though, I must say that the Spectrum guys have done a wonderful job with such horrible material. Dave and Trevor never thought they would be seeing that much of me barely clothed. Well, not for a professional style video, anyway. And I appreciate the fact that they were able to keep their suppers down and make their way through with professionalism and skill, all the while barely looking at the screen.

Coming soon - a work of art in video form celebrating a work of art in art form!