Sophia Bush, The Queen Of Consistency

“I make no claim that my opinion should be yours.  I make no claim to know more or less than anyone else.”

From “First Blog” (bottom entry), sophiabush.com, June 22, 2010

“If you can look another human being in the eye & tell them they are not equal to you, you shouldn’t be living in #TheLandOfTheFree #equality”

Regarding gay marriage opponents in America, from her official Twitter account, April 25, 2013

“All I ask is that we treat each other with kindness here.  There is a saddening and prolific pattern on the internet of faceless typers insulting one another, being cruel, and saying things that cut to the quick of people.  I will not support that.”

From “First Blog” (bottom entry), sophiabush.com, June 22, 2010

“we can agree to disagree, but how about you not type things like ‘BULLSHIT’ at me, and call me an idiot b/c I’m an actress? #rude”

From her official Twitter account, November 6, 2012

“…her usage of the term ‘assclown’ makes her sound like a petulant child. #idiot

Criticizing Sarah Palin, from her official Twitter account, April 28, 2013

“Because it just reaffirms that they are idiots. Harsh but true.”

From her official Twitter account, November 18, 2012

“I have no tolerance for moronic little boys who spout ignorant bullshit.”

From her official Twitter account, March 27, 2013

“There is NO ONE celebrating a death…However ANY criminal, in any situation, who resists arrest with a firearm is going to get shot. Period. And this particular man, guilty of murdering thousands of people, in a number of countries around the world, is no different…he didn’t surrender. Nor did he give that chance, of life, of escaping a tragic death, to the thousands of people he mercilessly killed over the years… I for one am proud of the US military for providing all of us with such security. #USA

Regarding the much celebrated murder of an unarmed Osama Bin Laden who was never convicted of any criminal activity in a court of law, from her official TwitLonger account, May 6, 2011

“Honestly, all the shit talking that happens on social media exhausts me sometimes. And just breaks my heart. Be nice to each other! #overit”

From her official Twitter account, March 24, 2013

“You are a jackass.”

From her official Twitter account, April 8, 2013

“…sir. Kindly pull your head out of your ass.”

To a gun control critic, from her official Twitter account, April 18, 2013

“…I own a gun, so fact check, asshole.”

To another gun control critic, from her official Twitter account, April 8, 2013

“What moron made that?”

Regarding this, from her official Twitter account, April 3, 2013

“he is literally batshit crazy insane. What a fucking lunatic.”

Regarding Glenn Beck, from her official Twitter account, April 18, 2013

Let’s spread kindness!”

From her official Twitter account, June 17, 2010

“It’s so silly and sad to see a woman, and a mother, attacking and name calling other women.”

Her response to Michelle Malkin’s criticisms of her, from her official WhoSay account, October 23, 2012

“If a cranky, extremist blogger has nothing better to do during the Presidential debates than troll the twitter accounts of actors who she demeans, and slams as unintelligent…But it reinforces the fact that Fox News is merely a tabloid organization masquerading as news. After all, tabloids drum up celebrity gossip. And so do these wing nuts.”

From the same WhoSay entry, October 23, 2012

People should chill. Simply a clarification of grammar. You know how I love the #grammarpolice ;)”

From her official Twitter account, March 19, 2013

“…your grammar sucks. It’s ‘YOU’RE UGLY’. #spelling

From her official Twitter account, November 12, 2012

I believe you meant to type ‘you’re’. And the NYT is hands down the most reputable new [sic] source in the country. Adios.”

From her official Twitter account, November 6, 2012

“…I don’t think it’s ok to give a convicted abuser an endorsement deal.”

Regarding football player/dogfighting enthusiast Michael Vick re-signing with Nike, from her official Twitter account, July 2, 2011

“He’s passed all these tests and they’re still digging?”

“Disgusting. #WitchHunt #Hero

“…#RealMen….@LanceArmstrong”

Her stubborn defense of the abusive, highly litigious, then-heavily endorsed cyclist Lance Armstrong, who later confessed to drug cheating on Oprah’s Next Chapter, from her official Twitter account, August 23, 2012, (here, too) and July 2012.  And for the record, he did fail several drug tests.  Furthermore, she hasn’t commented on the scandal, at least not on Twitter, since these tweets.

“Choose to live an intentional life. Prioritize ‘consistency in your compassion’ – @BenKeesey #MOVEDC @Invisible”

From her official Twitter account, November 17, 2012

‘Will you be an upstander or a bystander?’ – John Pendergast…Be an UPSTANDER. Stand for those who cannot. Use your voice for the voiceless. And MOVE.”

From her official WhoSay account, November 17, 2012

I will always say f[uck] you to hate policy.”

Regarding the discrimination of the LGBT community, from her official Twitter account, January 9, 2013

I don’t value life on a sliding scale. #Equality”

Regarding M23, from her official Twitter account, November 29, 2012

“If we allow this to happen, we are complicit, and thus guilty. We cannot turn a blind eye to this horror.”

Regarding M23, from her official Twitter account, November 29, 2012

I don’t think the man is perfect. I don’t think the world is perfect. It’s a scary place.”

Regarding my criticism of her lack of criticism for President Obama’s atrocious human rights record, as pointed out here, from her official Twitter account, March 23, 2013

“…I heart Barack Obama so much right nowHe cares about us, the average citizens of this country, more than he cares about pleasing all the scared-to-change people in power. That’s heroic, admirable, and exactly what we need. Fuck yes, Mr. President, you are a unicorn.

Her severe criticism for the watered down Affordable Care Act pushed by the corporation-supported American President, from her official Twitter account (via US Weekly), June 28, 2012

The Pres. is SO inspiring! This giant room is riveted, charmed and laughing so hard because he is hilarious.”

More harsh condemnation about Obama’s secretive drone program by the once aspiring adversarial journalist, from her official Instagram account, April 28, 2013

“…we’re very in tune with what’s going on in the world.”

From AOLTV article: “CW Stars Sophia Bush And Misha Collins Give Back”, August 31, 2010

“while theoretically I understand your position, you have to grow up. Honestly.”

Responding to my criticism that she doesn’t talk about President Obama’s ruthless prosecutions of whistleblowers like the psychologically tortured Private Bradley Manning (who has been in government custody since 2010) and longstanding human rights abuses of Muslims, from her official Twitter account, March 23, 2013

You don’t have 7 minutes to be a more informed, conscious citizen and compassionate human being? I think you do. #SmartIsSexy”

Regarding the Kony 2012 anniversary video, from her official Twitter account, March 6, 2013

“…I don’t find time to discuss every single event in the world on twitter every single day.”

A strawman argument regarding my critical tweets and poems about her lack of interest in the Bradley Manning case (I suggested she post a single tweet about it here) and the chronic human rights abuses committed by the Obama Administration, from her official Twitter account, March 22, 2013

Violence is never the answer…”

Regarding the 2011 Arizona massacre that killed her nine-year-old second cousin and seriously wounded Congressman Gabrielle Giffords, from her official Twitter account, January 9, 2011

“The world is a better place with him gone.”

Regarding the illegal assassination of Osama Bin Laden, who was once financially supported by the American federal government during the Soviet Union invasion of Afghanistan (1979-87), from her official TwitLonger account, May 6, 2011

“Hopefully we can open each other’s eyes, teach each other new things, and prompt one another to do just a bit more with our spare time. A bit more good that will affect us and those around us.”

From “First Blog” (bottom entry), sophiabush.com, June 22, 2010

“Demanding that I agree with you, or write like you. Or decide to fight the wars you want to fight, is childish.”

Her response to my above-mentioned criticism, from her official Twitter account, March 23, 2012

“20. I believe people are inherently magical and good.”

From her US Weekly article, “25 Things You Don’t Know About Me”, March 21, 2012

People are crazy.”

From her official Twitter account, March 27, 2013

“You know gay is my favourite color ;)”

From her official Twitter account, July 6, 2010

”                                                                          ”

Her public comments on tortured, incarcerated, gay/transgender whistleblower, Private First Class Bradley Manning, to date.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Tuesday, April 30, 2013
1:52 a.m.

Advertisements
Published in: on April 30, 2013 at 1:53 am  Comments (5)  

The Sleeping Majority

(For Samir and his fellow prisoners.)

You don’t know me
And I don’t know you at all
You take your footsteps for granted
While I’m too weak to crawl
You have your daily pleasures
I have my daily fears
Your freedom is forever
I’ve been locked away for years

You don’t know me
So why should you care?
I’m just a victim of injustice
Grounded by despair
A target of convenience
A symbol of their hate
How I need your voice
Before it’s too late

You don’t know me
So why take the time
To learn their real agenda?
I’ve committed no crime
You claim to be compassionate
You claim to have a heart
Yet you ignore all my suffering
And soon I will depart

You don’t know me
But I’d like to know you
If we ever switched places
Would you get what I’m going through?
A life of uncertainty
A reputation in tatters
Dying with dignity
Is now the only thing that matters

You don’t know me
And you probably never will
If you witnessed my experience
Would you suddenly feel ill?
For me, there’s no tomorrow
I won’t be coming out
Awaken the sleeping majority
With an infuriating shout

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Friday, April 26, 2013
10:18 p.m.

Published in: on April 26, 2013 at 10:18 pm  Comments (1)  

From The Published Archives: Yukon Blonde’s Tiger Talk

Last year, they released their second album.  This year, they were up for a Juno.

In March 2012, British Columbia’s Yukon Blonde issued Tiger Talk, their sophomore CD.  The first single, Stairway, became a fixture on modern rock radio and was also heard in a heavily aired Toronto Blue Jays promo spot on Sportsnet.  Two more hit singles, My Girl and Six Dead Tigers, soon followed.

Then, in February 2013, the band were one of five nominated for the Breakthrough Group Of The Year award at the 43rd Juno Awards, Canada’s Grammys.  Although they lost to Monster Truck this past weekend, the nomination was most certainly a breakthrough in its own right.

One of my last submissions to Monkeybiz.ca was this assessment of Tiger Talk.  Not a single editorial change was made before its posting on April 9, 2012.  For this Published Archives reposting, however, the paragraphs are much smaller and more easily digestible.  In other words, this is exactly how my review looked when I submitted it more than a year ago.

As a critic, it can be very difficult to predict which acts will make it and which ones will stay obscure forever.  As a result, you’re wrong far more often than you’re right.  Although Yukon Blonde were expected to be successful as far back as 2010, the mainstream eluded them until the release of the Stairway single two years later.

I’m proud to say that my review proved somewhat prescient in this regard.  Tiger Talk did indeed “help raise their profile”.

YUKON BLONDE: TIGER TALK: An album review

Posted on April 09 2012 under Arts & Entertainment
By Dennis Earl

If Sam Roberts became the new frontman for a reunited Supergrass, the result would probably sound like Yukon Blonde.

Based out of British Columbia, this alt-rock quartet is so musically polished and radio-friendly you wonder why they’re still relatively unknown and on an indie label.

Their second album, Tiger Talk, is a briskly engaging affair that should help raise their profile.  Only one of the record’s ten songs fails to connect.

That would be Guns.  Its rather muddled message isn’t helped by a lacklustre arrangement that only briefly comes to life when a rather moving synthesizer sequence pops up early during an instrumental break.

The rest of the material is far more entertaining.  A gripping guitar lick kick starts Six Dead Tigers, a rip-roaring rocker about a guy with writer’s block brought back to life by the sight of a beautiful woman.

For LA is an alt-rock California Dreamin’.  Singer Jeffrey Innes encapsulates in a single line what every young Canadian feels during a brutal winter (“I don’t want to grow old in this cold”).  Amen.

Breaking Tigers temporarily replaces the influence of Supergrass with The Strokes in a relentlessly hooky arrangement that consistently exhilarates, particularly in the minute-long jam that marks the song’s conclusion.

My Girl is another entertaining rocker (and no, it’s not a reworking of The Temptations’ classic).

Rather, it’s a sweet, jangly love song that curiously begins with this dangerous couplet (“You get these urges to just drive when you’re drunk/ I have these urges to just ride along”).

Thankfully, this bad idea doesn’t lead to tragedy and is wisely abandoned (“You left your roller coaster attitudes back home”).

Hoping to evoke the nostalgic feelings his love interest once had for her rock idols during her teen years, Innes believes he’ll have a hit record in his own right so he can spoil her:

(“I’ll buy you a house and/I’ll buy you a car/When I’ll make it rich off selling a song”).  Ultimately, he wants to get out of the friend zone (“When I’ll make it rich babe/I’ll make you rich then you’ll be my girl”).

My Girl leads right into Radio, the closest this band comes to sounding like ELO, especially with its harmonies, a welcome recurrence throughout the album.

Radio brings us directly to Stairway, a straightforward track about a homesick musician, bored and fatigued with the business of touring, who pines to see his lady love again (“I’m wishing that I could be home right now/right home to you”).

Taking a cue from R.E.M.’s Everybody Hurts, the ironically titled Iron Fist is a worthwhile plea to a lovelorn character to hang in there and not give up when life turns sour (“You will get over it”).  It’s a beautiful rock ballad.

Also good is the empathetic Oregon Shores as the protagonist imagines a man less fortunate than himself (“No money/no shitty job/no home/no food to order/where do you go without a home?”)

Sweet Dee, the album’s closer, isn’t much cheerier.

The road to a happy relationship is derailed by an insecure protagonist (“I know I can’t be your man”) who doesn’t have any tools to cope with his own problems (“I tried to run/through darker times/it’s all I know”).

Despite its unhappy circumstances, it’s an appropriate finish for a very good record.

Yukon Blonde are signed to Dine Alone Records, the indie label that gave us Bedouin Soundclash and City And Colour, and released Hot Hot Heat’s wonderful Future Breeds CD in 2010.

Here’s hoping Tiger Talk helps add them to that list of success stories.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
4:32 p.m.

Published in: on April 24, 2013 at 4:32 pm  Comments (4)  

More Interesting Things I Learned While Watching The Ninth And Final Season Of Seinfeld On DVD

24. A number of prosecution witnesses saw their testimony deleted altogether from the broadcast version of The Finale.  Ramon the pool guy who Jerry refused to give CPR to, Poppie who got into a huge argument with Elaine over abortion (he’s against it, she’s for it), her former Pendant Publishing boss, Mr. Lippmann, who fired George for fucking a cleaning woman on his desk, Arnold Deensfrei who thought Kramer was mentally challenged, and the cop who caught the bald man and the comedian peeing in that parking garage in season three all testified against The New York Four in material not used in the episode.  Speaking of the urine cop, the actor who played him, David Dunard, reappears in a different role as the “pinhead” who runs the Rageaholics meeting in The Apology. 

25. In The Serenity Now, Frank Costanza ropes his long suffering son, George, into selling computers out of the family garage.  In a deleted scene not shown on the DVD, Frank does a variation of the famous Alec Baldwin “ABC” speech from Glengarry Glen Ross.  In the movie, ABC stands for Always Be Closing.  In the sequence not used in The Serenity Now, Frank’s version was ABCD.  After hearing the “Always Be Closing” portion, George asks his father what the D stands for.  After getting smacked in the head, Frank screams, “Dummy!”.

26. Mr. Kruger, George’s incompetent boss at Kruger Industrial Smoothing, was only supposed to appear in The Slicer.  But late in the production of that show, it was decided he had to be a recurring character.  (He ultimately appeared in three more episodes.) Meanwhile, Darin, Kramer’s college intern in The Voice, was going to be seen again but the writing staff could never figure out how to bring him back so he stayed in jail off-camera.

27. When Jerry Seinfeld went on vacation in Mexico, a friendly photographer offered to take his photo for five bucks.  Unfortunately, something went wrong and the photo needed to be fixed.  When the photographer showed the “fixed” version, Jerry noticed that his image was replaced with a cartoon version someone had drawn on top of it.  This inspired a key moment in the George story in The Slicer.

28. In The Betrayal, there’s a scene on an airplane where Nina, George’s new girlfriend, is having a conversation with Elaine.  She’s concerned that Elaine has told the bald man about her sexual encounter with old friend, Jerry.  After Elaine reassures her that her secret is “in the vault” (it’s really not; she told George when she was drunk on Peach Schnapps), that scene was supposed to continue.  In the extended version, Elaine steals a pillow from the passenger right next to her which turns out to be “Vegetable Lasagna”, the poor sap who was stuck on a flight with her and David Puddy, as well as a cab ride, in The Butter Shave.

29. The six-day shoot for The Puerto Rican Day was pretty rough.  Some days were hot and dry while others were cold and wet.  Not only that, media helicopters constantly flew over the Universal New York City backlot during the shoot thinking that they were capturing exclusive images of the final episode being recorded which meant numerous delays.  (Of course, The Finale was the last episode, not this one.)  Originally, The Puerto Rican Day was going to be shot in the real NYC but there was no reasonable way to make it work so that idea was cancelled.  The show’s regular NYC street set at the CBS Radford Studios was just too small to accommodate all those vehicles and extras so it was off to the much bigger Universal set instead.

30. Jerry Seinfeld told Julia Louis-Dreyfus during her first pregnancy that the show was thinking of doing a storyline where Elaine gets fat which would help explain her sudden weight gain.  After she cried, that suggestion was immediately forgotten.

31. Writer David Mandel and some of his co-workers went to the movies to see the 1995 film, While You Were Sleeping.  During the moment when Sandra Bullock asks, “Do you know what true love is?”, some wise-ass in the theatre screamed out, “Yes!” which got a big laugh.  This inspired George’s “That’s gotta hurt!” quip during a screening of the fictional film Blimp in The Puerto Rican Day.

32. In The Voice, Kramer and his intern, Darin, drop a big red ball full of oil from the window of George’s Play Now office onto Jerry’s unsuspecting girlfriend down below.  In the aftermath, she files a lawsuit and wins.  How much money was she awarded for her pain and suffering?  26 million.  Unfortunately, this revelation was excised from the episode.

33. Writer Steve Koren was driving his parents around one day when the couple got into an argument.  Out of nowhere, his father screamed, “Serenity now!”.  Koren learned that his dad had been listening to a relaxation tape recommended by his hypnotist which advises the truly stressed to simply say those two words, but not shout them.  (Koren’s parents were a lot like Frank and Estelle Costanza.  They constantly bicker and scream at each other.)  When The Serenity Now episode first aired, Koren’s father was initially not happy about it.  But over time, he became a minor celebrity in his community and was thrilled with the recognition his son bestowed upon him.  Koren says he still has the original “serenity now” tape in his attic.

34. In The Reverse Peephole, Kramer, Jerry, Elaine, Puddy and George attend a party thrown by Joe Mayo, a guy who gives all attendees a job to do.  There’s a brief moment where Puddy scolds a mustachioed guy for putting his glass on a stereo speaker.  That’s the real Joe Mayo, a Seinfeld crew member, getting yelled at.

35. In The Maid, George wants to make T-Bone his nickname.  Unfortunately, his workmates at Kruger prefer Koko (after the monkey that can do sign language) and later, Gammy.  Furthermore, a guy from the accounting office earns the T-Bone moniker, much to the bald man’s chagrin.  Originally, George was to send everyone a memo telling them that no one would be allowed to use nicknames on anybody including himself any more.  He was to accidentally sign it “Gorge” which becomes his new office nickname.  Infuriated by this, the young Costanza was to dig out his birth certificate and show everyone how his first name is really spelled.  Unfortunately, it reads “Gorge Costanza”.  (He was to blame his father for the error.)  Jerry Seinfeld thought this was a cheap fat joke so the Koko and Gammy material replaced it in the finished episode.

36. In The Frogger, an entire romantic subplot involving Kramer was cut because the show was running long.  After coming out of the mens room at Monk’s, the K-man meets a beautiful woman who isn’t into him.  In a later scene at Monk’s, he takes one of Elaine’s pieces of cake and offers it to the woman who turns him down once again.  Eventually, he successfuly lures her into a restaurant by marking a restricted path with his yellow Caution police tape.  Her name is Madeline, the unseen woman who moves downtown, much to the chagrin of the K-man, in The Maid.

37. In The Bookstore, Ted Rooney plays the manager of Brentano’s.  The character was originally called Clerk but was later changed to Crichton because the show felt Rooney resembled the late author, Michael Crichton.

38. When an elated Newman leaves his apartment to attend the Good Samaritan trial in The Finale, you can see an old-school fat shaking machine after he closes the door.

39. In The Maid, Elaine gets her phone number changed.  As the phone guy does the job, through voice-over she contemplates what would happen if she bumped him off.  Would anyone miss him?  Later on, he disappears.  The phone guy is played by Sam Whipple who worked with Jason Alexander on the original E/R and Michael Richards in Coneheads.  He died in 2002.  In The Blood, Elaine tries to convince her friend Vivian that she’s responsible enough to babysit her obnoxious son.  Then, she tries to get out of it when she learns that her pal is having serious health problems.  Vivian is played by Kellie Waymire.  She died in 2003.

40. Writer Dan O’Keefe did not want to write about the holiday his father created in 1966 and only gave in because of intense pressure from the writing staff.  The real Festivus was not meant to replace Christmas in December but to honour O’Keefe’s parents’ first date on February 12, 1963.  There is no steel pole nor any feats of strength.  But you can wear a weird hat, carry on a conversation with a mouth full of food and even curse.  Like the yuletide holiday, there’s a gift exchange but most presents are already owned by the recepient.  (O’Keefe would also receive a Happy Festivus card but not send one.)  There’s also a turkey dinner.  When you’re close to finishing your meal you can lick your plate clean if you so desire.  The event concludes with either Willie Nelson’s Stardust album, Billy Joel’s first Greatest Hits release or the soundtrack to the opera, Orfeo & Eurydice, which O’Keefe’s parents attended a presentation of on their first date, playing on the stereo.  And yes, all of this is recorded on audio tape.  O’Keefe, of course, would go on to write about all this in his 2005 book, The Real Festivus.  He also created a short-lived TV series about his family entitled – what else? – The O’Keefes for the then-WB two years before that.

41. In The Bookstore, Elaine is mortified after a public drunken makeout session with a fellow Peterman employee at a company get-together hurts her already sour reputation.  Later on, she catches him tongue wrestling with another woman in the lunchroom which gives her a bit of an out.  (She looks more sympathetic after having been “cheated” on.)  At some point, however, we learn Zach is a heroin addict on the verge of going through hideous withdrawals and Peterman orders Elaine to oversee the start of his recovery.  He’s played by Jonathan Penner who went on to compete on three different seasons of Survivor:  Cook Islands in 2006, Micronesia in 2008 and the Phillipines in 2012.  He finished in 7th, 15th (he had to leave because of an injury) and 7th again, respectively.

42. In The Strike, Elaine places a ten-dollar bet on a horse at an off-track betting site and meets the two guys who have been fielding calls from her unwanted suitors for five years.  (She’s been using their number as a “fake” number so guys she’s not into don’t call her at home.)  The long-haired guy is played by TV host, Colin Malone.  He co-hosts a public access show about pornography entitled Colin’s Sleazy Friends where he interviews actors and actresses in the adult film biz.  What’s his character’s name on this particular episode of Seinfeld?  Sleazy Guy #1.  During the Festivus scene at the Costanzas, Malone kept making Julia Louis-Dreyfus laugh during numerous takes when he would say the line, “I think you’re a fox.”.

43. There’s a minor continuity error in The Slicer.  After Elaine wakes up from her sex dream, she looks at her clock radio and it says 3:30 a.m.  By the end of the scene, however, if you look closely time has gone backwards.  The clock now reads 3:29.

44. Violating the real Good Samaritan law in Massachusetts is only a misdemeanour.  You pay a fine anywhere from 500 to 2500 bucks.  There is no jail time involved.

45. Speaking of The Finale, during the Monk’s scene if you look at the table behind Jerry and company you’ll spot NBC President Warren Littlefield on the left and former Seinfeld director Tom Cherones on the right.  And later, pay close attention to the short-haired brunette at the end of the first row in the jury box during the courtroom scenes.  That’s Jason Alexander’s wife, Daena.

46. Barney Martin, who played Jerry’s dad Morty, was Jackie Gleason’s stand-in on The Honeymooners.  He even got to rehearse with the cast because Gleason didn’t care for that part of the job.

47. In an earlier box set, we learned that Jerry’s apartment intercom was stolen and then recovered.  In this box set, we learn that this happened after production on The Strongbox had wrapped.  It was briefly nicked by a writer from the sitcom Cybill.

48. In The Burning, George asks Jerry if his girlfriend holds a pen for no good reason.  This is a reference to former Senator Bob Dole.  He holds a pen in his right hand so people don’t shake it.  The reason:  his right arm is paralyzed thanks to injuries sustained in World War II.

49. Dharma & Greg once did a episode where the title characters decide to have sex in public thinking that they’ll get away with it since everyone is indoors watching the Seinfeld finale. 

50. While the final episode of the show was airing on May 14, 1998, the cable channel TV Land refused to broadcast any counterprogramming.  Instead, they aired a picture of a closed office door with a note that read:  “Gone watchin’ Seinfeld, back in 60 minutes.”.

(Special thanks to Rob Kerr.)

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Friday, April 19, 2013
3:35 a.m.

Published in: on April 19, 2013 at 3:35 am  Comments (1)  

Interesting Things I Learned While Watching The Ninth And Final Season Of Seinfeld On DVD

1. In The Merv Griffin Show, Kramer stumbles upon the set of the famous TV chat show in a dumpster and decides to assemble it in his apartment.  According to the original script, the dumpster is located near the Cort Theater which isn’t mentioned in the final cut.  The New York City auditorium was the home of the original Merv Griffin Show between the years 1969 and 1972.  (The show actually went off the air in 1987.)  In a later scene, with Jerry, Elaine and George on the set now put together in his living room, Kramer takes a brief snack break.  After he burps, pay close attention to Jason Alexander.  You can see him cracking up at Michael Richards’ antics.  In another scene, while scolding Jerry for being too edgy, Kramer plays instrumental music on a tape recorder during “a break” from his “show”.  Listen closely and you’ll hear the theme for Jerry, the failed NBC pilot that was the focus of season four.

2. In The Junk Mail, Jerry wants to buy a new car to replace the one Kramer ruined in The Blood episode.  He wants a Saab but his old childhood friend, Fragile Frankie, sells him a van instead.  Eventually, after being one of the witnesses of George’s parents’ spontanenous romp in that unwanted vehicle, he’s finally ready to get rid of it.  (He hung on to it all episode long because he didn’t want to hurt his overly sensitive friend’s feelings.)  In a deleted scene, we learn that the van was sold to Elaine’s boyfriend, the silly spokesman for The Wiz electronic stores.  The crown-wearing fool has transformed it into The Wiz-Mobile and at one point, he gets out of his car and does that memorably ridiculous walk out on the street.  Meanwhile, Elaine tries to dump him over the van’s loud speaker but he ignores her and rechristens her “Lady Wiz”.

3. In The Butter Shave, Jerry is alarmed by fellow comedian Kenny Bania riding his coattails to become a “time-slot hit”.  To kill his momentum he decides to throw his set at an important showcase in front of NBC talent scouts so Bania won’t get the bump.  After he tells George about his plan in his apartment, he says, “Then we’ll see how he does, up there, without all the assistance.”.  This is the third and final Seinfeld reference to the infamous Buddy Rich tapes, a collection of secretly recorded rants from the reknowned drummer directed at his band while on their tour bus.  (I actually learned this in a previous box set but decided to save it for this piece.)  During a quick exterior shot of the club they’re both performing at, look closely at the poster.  The club is called Catch A Rising Star which was a real New York City club where the real Jerry Seinfeld got his professional start.  Larry David also performed there.  By the way, the real club no longer exists.

4. What was George’s job title at Play Now?  He was the Director of Irregular Spheres.  Basically, he was in charge of “all kinds of footballs”.  This was supposed to be mentioned in The Butter Shave episode.

5. Writer Spike Fierstein was having a hard time sleeping next to his then-girlfriend.  He pretended to blame it on her imaginary “talking ass”.  When he told the writing staff, it became an inside joke and for a month they all did variations on this fictional butt voice.  While working on the script for The Voice, Jerry advised Fierstein to change the “talking ass” premise to a talking belly button.  Seinfeld was worried that they were going for an easy laugh with a familiar bodily function.  (I guess the farting horse from The Rye was more high-brow.)  Curiously, today, he thinks they should’ve stuck with the “talking ass” all along.  When Fierstein told his girlfriend about all this nonsense, she got legitimately upset and left him, just like Jerry’s girlfriend does in the episode.  Because they didn’t have a second act for The Voice, Fierstein was advised to talk to her so they could get some new material to finish this particular show.  During the entire production week, everybody had a lot of fun doing “the voice”.  Unlike Jerry’s friends in the episode, no one grew tired of doing it.

6. In The Serenity Now, George’s ruse about being handicapped is fully exposed and everyone at Play Now wants him to leave.  The bald man decides to stick around in order to get the full compensation of his one-year contract despite fierce company-wide resistance.  This was based on a real story involving a writer friend of the episode’s writers, Alec Berg, Jeff Schaffer and David Mandel.  A guy they knew was hired to work for Bill Cosby.  When a sought after writer that was wanted in the first place suddenly became available, Cosby’s company wanted him gone.  Their stubborn writer friend refused to leave and kept on showing up.  Realizing what needed to be done, Cosby’s people paid him what he was owed and he finally departed.

7. After Family Ties went off the air, NBC decided to do a spin-off with Mallory Keaton’s boyfriend.  Entitled The Art Of Being Nick, only a pilot was shot.  Julia-Louis Dreyfus and Richard Fancy, who played her Pendant Publishing boss, Mr. Lippman, on Seinfeld, co-starred with Scott Valentine, the aforementioned Nick.  After Seinfeld went off the air, a spin-off was proposed for flamboyant lawyer Jackie Chiles.  Despite “several attempts”, the series never happened.

8. The Finale inspired intense secrecy.  After the initial table reading, all but one script was destroyed.  The episode’s code name was “A Tough Nut To Crack” which was used in place of its actual title to throw off nosy parkers.  During the studio audience taping, only close friends and family of the show’s staff were allowed to attend (although a young Saturday Night Live comedian named Jimmy Fallon managed to sneak in with a co-worker).  Everybody who either read the script, appeared in the show, worked behind the scenes or saw anything being recorded had to sign non-disclosure documents forbidding them from blabbing about the episode’s plot to the public, and yes, that includes Fallon and his friend.  Even a fake alternate ending was filmed where Jerry, Kramer, George and Elaine are found “not guilty” of violating the Good Samaritan Law.  Unfortunately, as you may remember, the last episode of Seinfeld got terrible reviews and today, Larry David, who wrote the teleplay, regrets not leaking details beforehand.  He should’ve regretted not writing funnier jokes.

9. There was enough material recorded for The Finale to fill three half-hour episodes.  In the end, the full show runs 55 minutes, the longest episode in the show’s nine-year history. 

10. More than half of the people watching TV on May 14, 1998 were checking out the last two episodes of Seinfeld on NBC. 

11. The Betrayal was inspired by Harold Pinter’s play, Betrayal.  Told in reverse chronological order, it’s about a man who has an affair with his best friend’s wife.  By the way, for the first time ever, this famous backwards episode of Seinfeld can now be seen forwards minus any of the credits, time graphics and company logos used in the original cut. 

12. James Spader is the first actor to win two Emmy Awards for playing the same role on two different shows.  George’s nemesis in The Apology was Alan Shore on both The Practice and its spin-off, Boston Legal.

13. There’s a rather amusing background gag in The Dealership.  In the episode, Jerry is looking to buy a new car.  Because his former mechanic David Puddy is now a salesman and because he’s dating Elaine again, Jerry has been promised an “insider’s deal” on a potential purchase.  Unfortunately, Elaine breaks up with him before this can happen and as a result, Puddy starts needlessly jacking up the bill.  Desperate, the comedian calls Elaine to get her to take her “grease monkey” back.  If you look closely, you can see Puddy staring off into space the entire time Jerry is on the phone. 

14. The Finale originally ended with “The New York Four” in prison.  But after seeing how the entire episode played out, Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David felt this was too dour a conclusion.  So, a few days after the final Seinfeld wrap party, the prison stand-up routine was written, taped and then thrown in during the end titles.  The heckler who tells Jerry he sucks and threatens to cut him is Larry in one of his funniest voice cameos.  The prison guard who cuts Jerry’s set short and escorts him off-stage is comedian Jon Hayman who is better known as the voice of The Bubble Boy. 

15. In The Strongbox, we learn that Kramer is a military veteran.  Michael Richards is also a veteran.  He was drafted during the Vietnam era and served for two years.

16. Over the course of the entire series, Kramer entered Jerry’s apartment nearly 400 times.

17. The working title for The Strongbox was The Buzzer.  The Reverse Peephole was originally called The Man Fur.  The Frogger was going to be The Cake Parties.  The Maid was first scripted as The Long-Distance Relationship.  The Merv Griffin Show was first entitled The Merv Griffin Set.  And The Voice’s rejected titles were The Backslide and The Bladder System.

18. The Puerto Rican Day was only aired once on NBC because of a phony controversy.  There’s a scene where a reckless Kramer throws a firework in the back seat of Jerry’s car and it accidentally catches his Puerto Rican flag on fire.  (Just a little earlier, the K-man was caught up in the spirit of the parade wrapping himself up in that very same flag.)  In a panic, he quickly removes it from the vehicle and proceeds to stomp on it on the sidewalk in order to cease the burning.  This infuriates a number of witnesses who foolishly go on to chase him down the street.  Although they were only aware of the episode title, a small protest movement of the supposedly outraged began to mobilize nonetheless.  Even before the show aired, Jerry Seinfeld had a meeting with one such group of concerned Puerto Ricans who wondered why they were so upset about this when they hadn’t seen the show.  Their response, according to Jerry:  “We assume that it’s offensive.”  When the comedian performed his series of I’m Telling You For The Last Time concerts at the Bensonhurst Theatre later that summer, a small group of protesters organized across the street every night condemning him for doing this episode.  At one point, security had to be increased because of death threats.  After taping the last show, which became the famous HBO special, Jerry went out of the theatre and across the street to talk to the group about their concerns.  There were no more protests after that.  The Puerto Rican Day was barely seen in syndication until 2002 when it became more widely aired to zero controversy.

19. The four leads aside, Liz Sheridan is the only recurring cast member to make at least one episodic appearance a season in all nine years of the show.

20. In The Serenity Now, Mr. Lippman’s son starts making out with an alarmed Elaine at his bar mitzvah.  He’s played by Ross Malinger who also played Tom Hanks’ son in Sleepless In Seattle.  In The Slicer, George is having a difficult time getting a photo shop employee to airbrush him out of his boss’ 1989 beach photo correctly.  The photo guy is played by Larry B. Scott who is probably best known as Lamar, the gay black guy in the Revenge Of The Nerds movies.  In The Strongbox, George can’t convince his stubborn girlfriend that their relationship is kaput.  Maura is played by Alex Kapp Horner who went on to play Lindsay, one of the snotty blonds who constantly get under Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ skin in The New Adventures Of Old Christine.  In The Strike, Kramer goes back to work in a bagel place after the end of a work dispute that lasted more than a decade.  His boss is played by longtime character actor Dave Florek, the brother of Dann Florek, the bald police chief on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.  And in The Burning, a student doctor successfully guesses that the K-man is pretending to have gonorhhea.  He’s played by Daniel Dae Kim who went on to play Jin Kwon on Lost.

21. Clint Eastwood was supposed to be Two-Face in the original Batman TV show but the program was cancelled before his episode was shot.

22.  In The Strike, Jerry dates a woman who only looks good in certain lighting.  Originally, Gwen the two-face was supposed to be played by two women.  Suzanne Krull was going to be the ugly Gwen while Karen Fineman would be the pretty Gwen.  In the end it was decided having the same role played by two different women would be really confusing for the audience so Fineman played both Gwens instead.

23. Jerry Seinfeld once did stand-up on the real Merv Griffin Show while his fly was down.

(Special thanks to Rob Kerr.)

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Friday, April 19, 2013
3:16 a.m.

UPDATE:  I’ve added a couple of lines to number 18 which should’ve been included last night.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Friday, April 19, 2013
4:01 p.m.

Published in: on April 19, 2013 at 3:16 am  Comments (1)  

Unsolved Mysteries Of The Ninth And Final Season Of Seinfeld

1. Why did Jerry get thrown off of Kenny Rogers’ tour bus?

2. What are George’s deepest fears and everything he’s capable of?

3. Why didn’t Frank Costanza read Lloyd Braun’s resume before hiring him to sell computers out of his garage?

4. Did Lloyd actually kill a family and then stuff the bodies in his freezer as George asserts in The Serenity Now?

5. How much money did George spend on all those unsold computers?

6. Why wasn’t Lloyd’s phone hooked up and why did it take so long to discover this?

7. In The Voice, how long is Darin’s prison sentence and what he was ultimately convicted of?

8. How did Kramer avoid suffering the same fate in that episode?

9. In The Butter Shave, who was the no-armed man that hated George when they both worked for the Yankees?

10. Why didn’t Play Now just have George banned and escorted from their building if they wanted to get rid of him so bad?

11. How much money did Jerry make off of Elaine’s backsliding with David Puddy?

12. In The Voice, what movie did Elaine sneak out of to have sex with Puddy?

13. In that same episode, why is Kramer ripping pages out of that magazine?

14. What did Merv Griffin think of The Merv Griffin Show episode?

15. Why doesn’t Kramer simply recycle all those unwanted catalogues he keeps getting in the mail?

16. What are Kramer, Newman and Jerry’s rare blood type they each possess?

17. In The Blood, what’s wrong with Elaine’s friend, Vivian?

18. In The Junk Mail, why was Newman arrested?

19. What was Kramer’s original plan to stop the barrage of catalogues he’s been receiving at the “choke point”?

20. Why doesn’t Kramer try to get rid of the garbage smell from his Merv Griffin Show set?

21. Is Kramer telling the truth when he says he “practically raised” animal expert Jim Fowler’s kids?

22. In The Merv Griffin Show, what did Celia’s dad die of?

23. In The Butter Shave, what book is Elaine reading on the airplane?

24. Who put that Merv Griffin Show set in that dumpster and why?

25. Why didn’t Joe Mayo notice that David Puddy was wearing the same man fur he has the first time he saw it?

26. Why hasn’t Frank Costanza celebrated Festivus in years?

27. Why does Kruger keep locking himself out of his own office?

28. What was wrong with George’s Clams Casino order?

29. When did George and Jerry first meet?

30. When and why did Elaine’s ex, Peter, change his name to Pinter?

31. How are Jerry, George and their mutual love interest, Nina, able to go to Sue Ellen Mischke’s wedding without invitations?

32. How is it possible that George had a full head of hair in that 1989 beach photo on Kruger’s desk when in The Seinfeld Chronicles pilot, which was released that same year, he’s balding?

33. In The Slicer, who was the woman George wanted to have a revenge date with but couldn’t because she refused to see him a second time?

34. In The Reverse Peephole, why is the front door of that flower shop wide open when it’s winter?

35. In The Dealership, how and where did George get those 10 unwrapped Twix candy bars when none were left in the vending machine?  If he was so hungry, why didn’t he just eat them all and forget about the test?

36. In that same episode, how are all those customers able to eat them in the Employees-Only copy room?

37. Why did Jerry beat up George in the fourth grade?

38. If he’s a true germophobe, why doesn’t Jerry freak out over that rubber band in his date’s soup?

39. In The Strike, who won the wrestling match between George and his father?

40. What was Kramer doing with Jerry’s pliars when he broke them?

41. How did he break Jerry’s Walkman and how long did he have it?

42. In The Finale, how much money did Peterman win playing pool?

43. In The Puerto Rican Day, what is that guy sketching?

44. In The Chronicle, what movie were George, Elaine, Kramer and Jerry going to see?

45. Regarding Kramer’s Pennypacker alias, what does the H.E. stand for, if anything?

46. What happened to Elaine and Mr. Lippman’s muffin top store?

47. In The Cartoon, how many days did Kramer’s actual vow of silence last?

48. Who optioned Kramer’s celebrity coffee table book into a movie and for how much?

49. In The Burning, why did Mickey swallow a dozen aspirin?

50. In that same episode, how was Kramer allowed to smoke a cigarette in that hospital room while pretending to have gonorrhea?

51. In The Strongbox, who got robbed in Jerry’s apartment building and what was taken?

52. Why did Kramer get discharged from the army and how long did he serve?

53. How come Kramer still has that Tony Award he didn’t earn?

54. In The Strike, what was the female doll Frank was trying to buy for George that ended up getting destroyed and what year did this happen?

55. In The Finale, what was Jerry going to say to Elaine before the private jet straightened out?

56. In The Wizard, what is Elaine’s boyfriend’s job?

57. In The Strongbox, why does Jerry need to put on a sweater to let George into his building from the inside?

58. In The Reverse Peephole, why does Jerry have to carry his girlfriend’s personal items?

59. In The Bookstore, what was George’s punishment for shoplifting and what book did he steal?

60. Why does Elaine torture herself by eating submarine sandwiches she detests and outdated cake that will make her ill?

61. In The Burning, how did Sophie get that leg scar?

62. In The Finale, what does the low talker say during her testimony?

63. What happened to the mugger who robbed the fat guy?

64. In The Slicer, how is George still in Kruger’s photo when the guy at the photo shop airbrushed him out of it?

65. How did George eventually break free of Maura and Loretta in The Strongbox?

66. In The Bookstore, what caught on fire in Jerry’s bedroom?

67. In that same episode, who was the guy on the street Kramer was yelling at from Jerry’s window and why?

68. What “priors” does Uncle Leo have?  How many books did he steal and what are the titles?  How long has he been shoplifting?

69. Why would Peterman give Zach tips on scoring heroin when he almost fired Elaine for having opium in her urine?

70. Why did George’s maid pinch him in the ass?

71. In The Maid, what happened to Phone Guy #1?

72. Why wasn’t Gammy’s grandson notified of her death?

73. Why do firemen break into Elaine’s apartment hoping to find Gammy when there is no fire?

74. What did George say about the wife of Watkins from Accounting at Kruger Industrial Smoothing?

75. In The Frogger, why didn’t George just take a picture of his high score?

76. What was wrong with the father of Elaine’s friend, Jill, in The Finale?

77. Why is Kramer’s right eye partially bloodshot in certain scenes of that episode?

78. How were the New York Four able to acquire the services of Jackie Chiles’ when he had a restraining order out on Kramer?

79. What’s the deal with cancer?

(Special thanks to Rob Kerr.)

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Friday, April 19, 2013
2:35 a.m.

Published in: on April 19, 2013 at 2:35 am  Comments (1)  

More Interesting Things I Learned While Watching The Eighth Season Of Seinfeld On DVD

22. If you ever experience the “jimmy legs”, you’re suffering from a real medical condition.  The disruptive involuntary action that happens in your sleep is better known as nocturnal myoclonus and periodic-limb-movement disorder.

23. Julia Louis-Dreyfus had a number of concerns about the infamous Elaine dance in The Little Kicks.  One, she was worried her purposefully bad dancing wouldn’t be funny enough.  Two, she had to live with the personal humiliation of being considered a horrible dancer.  And three, she fretted that people would think that her “dry heaves set to music” also meant she was bad at sex.  She decided the key to making the bit work was “to be as spastic as possible” while maintaining an oblivious smile on her face.  The point being that everyone but the confidently ignorant Elaine knows she has no rhythm.  Originally, the dance was recorded to music but that made her dance too well.  When she danced to no music it worked a lot better.  The Earth, Wind & Fire song, Shining Star, she awkwardly grooves to was added during the editing phase.  By the way, whenever anyone in the episode mocks her dancing, especially in the last scene, it’s referred to in the script as “the Mock-Elaine-a”, a goof on the MacArena.  Ever since the episode aired, whenever she’s at a social function where dancing is involved Louis-Dreyfus can still feel the eyes of everybody on her wondering if she really sucks at boogieing.  She insists she’s really not that bad.

24. In The Bizarro Jerry, Elaine visits her ex-boyfriend, Kevin, in his building.  As she enters his apartment, look closely at the top of the door.  You’ll see the shadow of the boom mic dangling over their heads.

25. The word “boogeyman”, mispronounced as “boogityman” by Elaine in The Checks, has roots going all the way back to the 16th Century.  It derives from “boneyman” which was Napoleon Bonaparte’s nickname.

26. There are three notable mistakes in The Muffin Tops.  Before the start of one of his Peterman Reality Tours, Kramer has a hard time getting on the bus and into the driver’s seat.  Michael Richards wanted to do an entrance similiar to the ones he routinely performed getting into Jerry’s apartment.  Unfortunately, during one take, he pushed himself too hard and legitimately tripped up the stairs.  But because he kept going and didn’t miss a single of his lines, it ended up in the final cut.  When he tries to get rid of Elaine and Mr. Lippman’s muffin stumps at the Jiffy Dump, he’s rebuffed by the same guy who gave him a hard time at the Jiffy Park in season seven’s The Wig Master.  When a bewildered Kramer asks him, “Is this a joke?”, the guy replies, “That’s what I’d like to know about it.”.  He was only supposed to say, “That’s what I’d like to know.”  The flubbed version was deemed funnier so it stayed.  Finally, when Elaine runs into her former boss, Mr. Lippman, at Peterman’s discounted book signing (each copy of No Placket Required is 25% off), he mentions that it’s being published by his new company, Pundit Publishing.  Unfortunately, the closed captioning still thinks he works for Pendant.

27. Jill Franklyn was a struggling writer looking to break into show business.  Fortunately, she’s friends with Seinfeld writer/producer Peter Mehlman.  In 1997, he suggested they collaborate on an episode.  The result:  The Yada Yada which became one of the most famous and acclaimed in the show’s history.  It also earned the duo Emmy nominations for outstanding writing in a comedy series.  By the way, it was Franklyn’s very first script.

28. Writer Gregg Kavet once worked for a consulting firm in Boston.  It was a grueling gig.  A typical work week ran 80 hours.  Very quickly, he found it very difficult to keep up with the pack.  As a result, he found himself burnt out and leaving earlier than everybody else.  Then, one day, a co-worker taught him a secret.  He told him that the key to maintaining your energy was to sneak in power naps.  The only way to do this in an open cubicle environment was to go under your desk and tuck your office chair in.  He would do this for two hours every day and, according to Kavet, his friend would never get caught.  In fact, when a fellow employee was looking for his sneaky colleague he left him a note not realizing he was dozing just inches from where he was standing.  This inspired George’s own under-the-desk power naps in The Nap which Kavet co-wrote.

29. In The Summer Of George, Kramer has the unenviable task of firing the tempermental star of the fake Tony Award-winning musical, Scarsdale Surprise, Raquel Welch.  This was loosely based on the real-life firing of Faye Dunaway from the troubled Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, Sunset Boulevard.  In that same episode, Jerry starts dating a waitress (Amanda Peet) who appears to have a live-in boyfriend.  JAG’s Catherine Bell, Baywatch’s Nicole Eggert and John Ritter’s widow and frequent Seinfeld auditioner Amy Yasbeck all tried out for that role.  Also, the show’s working title was The Dude.

30. Writer Jeff Schaffer visited his brother’s apartment in New York City in the mid 90s and was greatly amused by what he saw.  Across the street was the Empire Plaza Hotel which had this blindingly bright red neon sign.  It was so bright it transformed his brother’s apartment into a dark room.  It was literally bathed in red.  Schaffer immediately felt this would be a good Kramer story.  He would have to wait three years to finally write one.  Originally, the K-man was to develop a sudden interest in photography because of his now crimson coloured apartment but that was eventually scrapped once Schaffer revisited his brother who, by this point a few years later, had moved into a different apartment building.  The writer learned about a law firm across the street that lived above a new restaurant called Kenny Rogers Roasters.  The firm was deeply upset about the hickory-flavoured chicken smells emanating through the vents in their offices so they put out a banner that said, “BAD CHICKEN” which caused a legal dispute and became a news story.  Schaffer and co-writer Alec Berg would go on to write The Chicken Roaster, thanks in great part to this incident.

31. Speaking of Kenny Rogers Roasters, after expanding to 350 outlets by the mid-90s, it was ultimately absorbed into the Nathan’s Famous chain in the Aughts.  Their motto: “It’s the wood that makes it good.”  In The Chicken Roaster, Newman says this to a curious Kramer as he thoroughly enjoys his Kenny Rogers chicken while they both sit in Jerry’s apartment.

32. In the last scene of The Checks, Elaine’s boyfriend Brett is being examined by a doctor who zones out upon hearing The Eagles’ Witchy Woman.  He’s played by stand-up comedian George Wallace who was the best man at Jerry Seinfeld’s wedding.

33. The opening scene of The Andrea Dorea was a bugger to shoot, particularly for Michael Richards.  Jerry and Kramer are walking down the street talking when the comedian decides to buy batteries.  The K-man refuses to wait outside so he stuffs all the food he’s eating right into his mouth.  This sequence took six tries to get right.  Jerry laughed at Richards’ antics during two takes, a camera ran out of film and the store door wouldn’t open during two others, and because the outdoor NYC street set is near an airport the noise of a passing airplane interrupted the very first attempt.  Richards almost gagged at times while doing the food stuffing bit and it’s no wonder he wasn’t hungry for the rest of the shooting day.

34. In The Yada Yada, there’s a scene where Jerry’s longtime crush Beth Lookner confides in him that her second marriage might be on the verge of collapse.  Before taping this in front of a studio audience, Debra Messing worked herself up into such a state of distress backstage that a puzzled Jerry looked at her and said, “What the fuck are you doing?”.  Before the show aired, Messing preemptively apologized to her grandmother for her character’s surprising aversion to “the blacks and the Jews”.  Like her grandma, Messing is Jewish.

35. In The Chicken Roaster, Jerry becomes terrified of Mr. Marbles, Kramer’s ventriloquist dummy that appears to be alive.  Originally, Mr. Marbles was going to be seen in shadow brandishing a knife ready to kill the comedian but that ended up not happening.  Coincidentally, Jerry has a VHS copy of the 1990 film, Child’s Play 2, on his entertainment shelf.  That film, of course, features a murderous children’s toy.  The Notes About Nothing feature mistakenly says he has the 1988 original.

36. The Notes About Seinfeld feature has been keeping track of the number of times the K-man goes through the entranceway of Jerry’s nearby apartment through the Kramer Entrance Counter since the first DVD box set.  As noted previously, a mistake was made in the season seven box set which is thankfully corrected on season eight.  (A technical error was blamed for the counter being off by one.)  Unfortunately, an argument can be made that two legitimate entrances are not counted in the season eight box set.  In The Soul Mate, Kramer wants to have a word with Jerry in his apartment alone but George won’t get up from his chair, so the hipster doofus drags him out on it into the hallway before closing the door and reentering Jerry’s place.  For some reason, this isn’t counted as a proper entrance when it should be.  Then, in The Susie, Kramer enters and reenters Jerry’s apartment while telling the comedian and Elaine about his adventure during and after the Knicks game.  One of these entrances is not included in the overall count as it ought to.

37. Speaking of counters, the Notes About Seinfeld feature also keeps track of the fab four’s girlfriends and boyfriends since the beginning of the series.  In The Yada Yada, Elaine sums up her one-night stand with a lawyer to Jerry and George.  For some unknown reason, perhaps because he’s not named, this bad lay isn’t included in her overall bf total.  A similiar mistake was made in the second Seinfeld DVD box set.  In the third season episode, The Stranded, Kramer is having a conversation with Michael Chiklis in Jerry’s apartment.  At one point, Chiklis wants to call an escort.  The K-man isn’t interested. “I have a girl in the next building,” he informs him.  Again, perhaps because his unseen love interest goes nameless, she’s not added to his girlfriend count.

38. In The Little Kicks, Elaine makes the following toast during a Peterman company party:  “Here’s to those who wish us well and those who don’t can go to hell.”  Episode writer Spike Fierstein’s grandmother used to make the exact same declaration at his family Thanksgiving dinner every year.  Good times.

39. In The Nap, a frustrated Kramer decides to go swimming in the East River because he won’t be disrupted.  After telling Elaine’s boyfriend Hal that doing this is good for the back, Hal, whose had a problem in that area for 15 years, tells his chiropractor who recommends the idea to all his patients which deeply annoys the K-man.  All of these East River scenes were shot at Universal Studios in their circular tank.  Footage of the tank itself was replaced with more water that was digitally added during the editing process to make it look more like the East River  However, if you look really closely at almost the middle of your screen you can see where the digital water begins and the tank water ends.

40. In The Millennium, Newman mentions booking Christopher Cross for his millennium party.  Cross’ self-titled debut, whose contents earned him 5 Grammys, was released in 1979.  In that same episode, there’s a scene where Jerry’s speed dial ranker girlfriend complains about the Mongolian restaurant he took her to on their last date.  She mentions how it got a bad rating in Zagat’s.  The famous restaurant guide was founded in 1979.  In The Nap, Yankee owner George Steinbrenner can’t figure out what song is in his head.  It’s Pat Benatar’s Heartbreaker which was released off her debut album, In The Heat Of The Night, in, you guessed it, 1979.  In the opening scene of The Little Kicks, Kramer mentions that the last time he was hit in the head occurred when he lived in Greenwich Village back in, wait for it, 1979.  And during an unused conversation with Elaine in J. Peterman’s office that was originally planned for The Money, the last time he had regular sex with a steady girlfriend was, all together now, 1979.

41. Gene, aka Bizarro George, is an architect.  In The Bizarro Jerry, he was supposed to say, “My company did the Guggenheim extension.  It took quite a long time, too.”, a nod to the slow-witted bald man’s famous lie during a Monk’s scene in the sixth season episode, The Race.

42. Every season, the Seinfeld logo would have a different design to distinguish a year of shows from all the others.  Season eight had a black and white checker design around the title because Jerry Seinfeld truly believed this was going to be the last season of the series.  (It was meant to resemble the checkered flag at an auto racing event which signifies the final lap.)  Of course, the show would actually conclude after its ninth season.

(Special thanks to Rob Kerr.)

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Sunday, April 14, 2013
2:26 a.m.

Published in: on April 14, 2013 at 2:26 am  Comments (1)  

Interesting Things I Learned While Watching The Eighth Season Of Seinfeld On DVD

1. In The Package, Elaine discovers that she’s a difficult patient and no matter which doctor she sees she can’t shake her awful reputation.  While asleep at home one night she takes a call from a mysterious man claiming to represent the American Medical Association.  He wants to confirm the correct spelling of her last name.  His voice is provided by the late Phil Hartman who was originally supposed to be heard in one other scene in that episode but that plan was dropped.  In The Comeback, Elaine develops a crush on Vincent, a mysterious video store clerk whose movie recommendations she adores.  Vincent is voiced by Robby Benson.

2. Shortly after the airing of The Little Kicks in the fall of 1996, a hiker encountered a mountain lion during a solitary trek in the California mountains.  In a moment of desperation he shouted at the great beast, “You want a piece of me?”.  The tone of his voice must have been really threatening because the animal ultimately backed off.  Who knew that Frank Costanza’s direct question to Elaine in the police station scene in that episode would immediately save a life?

3. Writer David Mandel was working for Saturday Night Live the week Bob Saget hosted.  Because he resembled one of his friends, the Full House comedian would never call Mandel by his real name.  Instead, he would accidentally address him as “Feldman” over and over again.  Curiously, he would always apologize for doing this.  Later, when stuck for a name for Bizarro Kramer in The Bizarro Jerry episode he was writing, Mandel remembered this bizarre incident and used Saget’s nickname for him. 

4. Jerry Lewis was the first Hollywood director to use video playback on set.  This allowed him to watch a take he had just finished recording to see if it was any good.  Today, it’s a standard of modern filmmaking technology.  Lewis was also a film professor at USC near the end of the 1960s.  Two of his most famous students were George Lucas and Steven Spielberg.

5. In The Bizarro Jerry, George starts dating a receptionist at an investment company who also models on the side.  She takes him to a night club in the meatpacking district of Manhattan where many of her beautiful colleagues also hang out.  Before we go inside, there’s an exterior shot of the establishment.  If you look closely you’ll notice a number of neon “V”s on the windows.  When he was writing for SNL in the 90s, writer David Mandel and some of his co-workers would check out this real-life club after leaving their own after-show party on late Saturday nights.  Believe it or not, it’s an S&M joint called “The Vault” and it is indeed located in New York’s meatpacking district.  Mandel and company would only stay a few minutes because it was a freaky scene.

6. In 1995, an aspiring filmmaker took out a full-page ad in Variety looking for a $100000 investment in a screenplay he had written.  Writer Spike Fierstein really liked the title he picked which he used the following year for one of the fake movies depicted in The Little Kicks episode.  What was the name of the young man’s script?  Death Blow.

7. In a number of season eight episodes there’s a cool magnet on Jerry’s refrigerator.  It’s a miniature reproduction of the cover of Action Comics #1, the comic book that introduced the world to Superman.

8. Infamous attorney Johnnie Cochran initially loved Phil Morris’ portrayal of Jackie Chiles which was, of course, based on him.  But after Morris started doing some TV spots for Honda as the flamboyant lawyer Cochran’s office sent him a letter urging him to stop playing the role.  Cochran was worried the increasing profile of the Chiles parody was harming his image and career.  This from a guy who beat his wife and successfully defended a double murderer. 

9. In The Abstinence, there’s a scene where George is conversing with a Portuguese waitress at Monk’s.  If you listen closely, he orders three coffees and a big salad.

10. In The Chicken Roaster, Kramer becomes addicted to the food served at the new Kenny Rogers’ Roasters restaurant that just opened across the street.  In one scene, after he switches apartments with Jerry, he’s lying in the comedian’s bed thoroughly enjoying his food and wiping his greasy fingers all over the sheets.  Off-camera to Richards’ right was a bucket.  After each take he would routinely spit out the chicken he was chewing right into it.  According to episode co-writers Alec Berg and Jeff Schaffer, he couldn’t stand the smell of the food.  In real life, Michael Richards is a vegan.

11. In The Fatigues, Frank Costanza initially flat-out refuses to help a desperate Kramer out with the cooking for his Jewish Singles Night event at the Knights Of Columbus.  There’s a very good reason for this.  When he was a cook during the Korean War, Frank overseasoned some spoiled meat which made his fellow soldiers immediately ill.  The memory, shown in a flashback, has haunted him ever since.  Speaking of that flashback sequence it was supposed to be longer and a bit more graphic.  Some of the soldiers actually puked food right into the camera lens.  Despite being a well-liked bit, it was decided that the vomitting took things too far and it went out of the episode.

12. Conservative dirtmonger Matt Drudge, who originally worked in the gift store as a cashier at the CBS Studios in Radford, California, was briefly considered for the role of Ricky, the mannequin maker/TV Guide fanatic we first meet in the season five episode, The Cigar Store Indian.  He didn’t get the part because he wasn’t a professional actor.

13. In The Andrea Dorea, Jerry delivers Newman’s mail on a Sunday so the portly fellow can get a second chance at a transfer to his dream destination, Hawaii.  Newman had been too depressed to do it himself because a co-worker (who ultimately lost the gig by getting caught hoarding Victoria’s Secret catalogues), beat him out for it.  Plus, he’s really behind on his deliveries.  (Numerous bags of mail are stored in Kramer’s half of Jerry’s storage unit.)  At one point, Jerry gives a roll of mail to a bearded homeless man, the same guy who volunteers to be a rickshaw driver in the ninth season episode, The Bookstore.  He’s the one who mysteriously blurts out, “Potato salad!”

14. In The Checks, Jerry keeps receiving 12-cent residual cheques from a Japanese TV comedy program called The Super Terrific Happy Hour because he appears for one second in the opening credits.  He signs so many of these cheques his hand cramps up and he can’t straighten it.  For the record, Jerry received 380 of them altogether resulting in a big payday of 62 smackers. (The math doesn’t add up, however, so perhaps some cheques were worth a bit more than 12 cents.)  This was to be revealed in dialogue that unfortunately went unsaid.

15. Because the only indoor tennis court in California was booked during the preparations for The Comeback shoot, an enormous tent held by a big crane was used to cover an available outdoor facility.  It proved to be a nightmare.  During taping in December 1996, a torrential rain storm hammered the city.  (This was the start of the El Nino phenomenon.)  If you look closely during certain scenes of that episode you’ll notice huge puddles of water all over the court.  Despite the best efforts of the crew, rain water still managed to get inside.  This caused grave concerns about possible electrocutions due to all the cables and electronic equipment in use at the time.  Thankfully, that didn’t happen.  But shortly after the shoot was wrapped, thanks to a huge gust of wind, the already shaky tent collapsed as the terrified cast and crew hurled towards the exits.  Producer Tim Kaiser claims that 500,000 pounds of rain water ended up pelting them.  Amazingly, no one was hurt.  A week later, a half-court set was built at the CBS Radford Studios to finish shooting the sequence.  Many of the close-ups, Ben Stein’s tennis lesson and all of the Kramer material were taped during this much safer shoot.

16. Sandy Baron returned to play Morty Seinfeld’s Florida neighbour, Jack Klompus, in The Money.  There was a scary moment where he was missing from a rehearsal.  It turns out that shortly after he arrived at the CBS Radford Studios in his car he fell seriously ill while still inside it.  He was thankfully discovered by the show’s production coordinator in time who made sure he got immediate medical assistance.  Despite being sick, Baron still insisted on doing the show.  While most of the scenes for The Money were shot in December 1996, Baron’s appearances were recorded the following January so he would have plenty of time to fully recover for them.  He later died in 2001.

17. Michael Richards had a couple of close calls shooting the highway scenes in The Pothole.  Because extras and crew members were driving those cars (and not stunt drivers) and because Richards didn’t exactly tell them what he was planning to do, things were a lot more chaotic than they should’ve been.  At one point, while filming the scene where he tries to retrieve a crushed pop can from the middle of the highway, he came thisclose to actually getting hit by one of the vehicles.  Thankfully, he walked away unscathed.  In the last scene of the episode he was scripted to flee his adopted highway marker to avoid running into the cops.  During one take, his car came to a screeching halt just one feet away from a technician who was operating a distant light.  Once again, there were no injuries.

18. In The Comeback, Kramer decides to get a living will after watching just a few minutes of a straight-to-video movie he’s rented called The Other Side Of Darkness.  In the film a woman falls into a coma which completely startles him because he doesn’t want to spend the rest of his life like that.  Because Jackie Chiles has filed a restraining order against him, the K-man turns to a monotonous sounding man named Stellmach to draw up the legal document.  He’s played by Ben Stein who later appeared in a 2001 Drew Carey Show episode called Drew’s In A Coma.  One of the stars of the made up Other Side Of Darkness movie is Eric Roberts.  In 1981, he got into a terrible car accident and briefly fell into a coma himself before finally coming to.  As for Kramer’s belief that no one ever comes out of a coma, how could he forget witnessing Jerry’s jealous neighbour (the one dating sexy Gina) waking up from one in the hospital in the season three episode, The Suicide?

19. In The English Patient, a beautiful woman mistakes George for her boyfriend Neil because they have similiar physical features.  Both men soon become very competitive for her affections.  Neil is played by Jeff Miller who was Jason Alexander’s stand-in for seasons six through nine.  Although his face isn’t seen in this episode you can see him earlier on in season eight when he makes a food delivery to Elaine’s apartment in The Little Jerry.  (He also pops up briefly in The Hot Tub and The Kiss Hello episodes in season seven.)  After their encounter in the hospital near the end of The English Patient, George pulls the cord from Neil’s IV bag before exiting the scene.  This was a spontaneous ad-lib by Alexander that stayed in the show.

20. In The Van Buren Boys, George interviews possible contenders for the Susan Ross Scholarship, a philanthropic endeavour initiated by her foundation.  One of the students he talks to is David Moscow who played the young Tom Hanks in Big.  (He’s the cocky guy with the 4.0 GPA.)  In The Abstinence, Jerry gets bumped during his old junior high school’s Career Day as well as a make-good engagement when a fire drill takes place.  The teacher who bumps him is Meagen Fay who’s probably best known for playing Roseanne Connor’s snooty neighbour for numerous episodes on Roseanne.  She also appeared in Father’s Day with Julia Louis-Dreyfus.  In that same episode, Kramer gets kicked out of Monk’s for smoking a cigar.  While outside he talks to a guy in a toque.  That’s Kyle Gass of Tenacious D who appeared with Jason Alexander in Shallow Hal.

21. Whenever the show needs a transition shot to prepare the audience for a scene at Monk’s Cafe, we see the exterior of the real-life New York eatery, Tom’s Restaurant.  In some of these quick snippets during season eight, notice how the “E” in the neon “RESTAURANT” sign isn’t working.  It’s the only one that isn’t glowing red.  In The Comeback, a number of scenes are set at an indoor tennis facility.  Exterior shots of the real-life New York Health & Racquet Club were used before we see the inside of the court.  Notice how the “H” in the neon “HEALTH” side is busted.  It’s the only one that isn’t glowing white.

(Special thanks to Rob Kerr.)

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Sunday, April 14, 2013
1:43 a.m.

Published in: on April 14, 2013 at 1:44 am  Comments (1)  

Unsolved Mysteries Of The Eighth Season Of Seinfeld

1. Who painted Susan’s portrait?

2. Who is Wyck Thayer and how did he get on Susan’s foundation?

3. What happened to “The Forbidden City”, the secret late night model hangout that George briefly checked out?

4. What does Elaine’s ex, Kevin, and his next door neighbour, Feldman, do for a living?

5. In The Bizarro Jerry, why didn’t George turn off his blow dryer before taking that phone call from his about-to-be ex?

6. What are the plots of Death Blow and Cry, Cry Again?

7. How did Anna, Elaine’s secretary, get George’s phone number?

8. How and why did Kramer get hit in the head in 1979?

9. Where was Estelle Costanza when her husband, Frank, got the call about George’s arrest?

10. How did Brody the bootlegger manage to get into Jerry’s apartment on two separate occasions when neither the funnyman nor Kramer buzzed him in?

11. In The Little Kicks, who threw the paper airplane at Elaine during that work meeting?

12. In The Package, how much was Jerry’s fine for mail fraud?

13. What periodical was Frank Costanza reading when he was notified over the phone about George’s arrest?

14. What’s the deal with Elaine’s rash and how did it eventually clear up?

15. What do two of Elaine’s doctors write in her chart?

16. Who paged Brody the bootlegger?

17. How can Death Blow be both a person as well as an action?

18. How is it possible that Jerry, Kramer and Brody never get caught illegally videotaping theatrical features but George does get busted?

19. Why would anyone buy a bootleg not filmed by Jerry?

20. Who was Brody going to beat up with Kramer’s bat and did he ever get it back?

21. In The Fatigues, what does Bania’s mentor girlfriend actually do?

22. What was Kramer’s job during his short unpaid tenure at Brandt Leland Investments?

23. How was he even able to get that gig in the first place without an interview?

24. How did Mr. Wilhelm, George’s Yankee superior, escape the clutches of the Sunshine Carpet Cleaners cult?

25. Who really invented the umbrella twirl?

26. Did Kramer’s friends, the three Japanese tourists, ever make it back home?

27. Why was George rejected by the Sunshine Carpet Cleaners?

28. In The Checks, why does The Eagles’ song, Desperado, put Elaine’s boyfriend, Brett, in a hypnotic trance every time he hears it?

29. At the end of that same episode, why does the doctor treating Brett enter the exact same state of mind while listening to The Eagles’ Witchy Woman?

30. Did Brett fully recover from his mild concussion?

31. In The Little Jerry, did Big Jerry cash that $50 cheque his parents send him?

32. Where did George leave his retainer in second grade?

33. In The Abstinence, why did Carlito pass out at Monk’s and did he fully recover?

34. Why does it say “Yount” on Eddie Sherman’s army uniform?

35. How did that family end up in that big brown paper bag in Sack Lunch and did they ever get out of it?

36. In The Susie, what was so funny to Elaine and Jerry about that bumper sticker and what did it say?

37. In The Comeback, how did Reilly’s wife end up in a coma?

38. In that same episode, what are Vincent’s hours at the video store?

39. Why didn’t Elaine just correct Peggy the first time about mistaking her for the imaginary Susie?

40. In The Package, who stopped the elevator from going down as Elaine was trying to escape with her chart?

41. What jokes did Jerry write for the Tony Awards?

42. Why can’t Elaine’s aggravated co-worker at the catalogue and Raquel Welch swing their arms when they walk?

43. What happened to George’s sable Russian hat?

44. How is Mr. Marbles able to move on his own when he’s just a ventriloquist dummy?

45. How did Mrs. Albright end up in a coma in The Other Side Of Darkness?

46. What was the zinger George thought of after his second encounter with Reilly?

47. What sort of “internal problems” killed George’s Aunt Baby at age seven and his Uncle Moe as a young man?

48. In The Andrea Dorea, what friend of Elaine’s fixed her up with bad breaker upper Alan?

49. In The Comeback, why are there puddles in that indoor tennis court?

50. In The Pothole, where and who is the real janitor Elaine is only pretending to be to receive her Chinese food deliveries?

51. Why is it so difficult to get rid of muffin stumps?

52. In The Nap, how did Elaine’s boyfriend Hal hurt his back 15 years ago?

53. In The English Patient, did George’s rival Neil fully recover from all his burns?

54. How could there be a funeral for Susie when she never existed?

55. In The Van Buren Boys, what exactly is wrong with Jerry’s girlfriend, Ellen?

56. In The Pothole, what’s with the lax security in that building where Elaine pretends to be a janitor?

57. Did George Steinbrenner ever figure out he was singing Pat Benatar’s Heartbreaker?

58. In The Yada Yada, how did George know Jerry was in the confessional?

59. In The Millennium, what is Mrs. Hamilton’s first name?

60. Why are Kramer and Newman planning their millennium parties three years in advance?

61. In The Comeback, why did Reilly leave the Yankees to work for Firestone in Akron, Ohio?  Furthermore, what did he do for both organizations?

62. In The Andrea Dorea, where did Elaine’s boyfriend Alan get stabbed by his ex?

63. How could Frank and Estelle Costanza have two beds for 30 years when during the fifth season episode, The Cigar Store Indian, they only have one?

64. How did Mrs. Hamilton not notice the dissolving dessicant in the Puto De Mayo dip?

65. Did she fully recover from being poisoned by it?

66. In The Fatigues, why didn’t Jerry’s girlfriend Abby stop and make sure she picked up the right file folder before taking off from his apartment?

67. Why did George not realize he had the wrong folder until the moment he did his presentation?

68. In The Summer Of George, what did J. Peterman eat that Elaine didn’t tell him about that became an anecdote for her co-workers at the catalogue?

69. When Kramer says he’s never heard of anyone coming out of a coma, how could he forget witnessing a neighbour doing that exact thing in the season three episode, The Suicide? 

(Special thanks to Rob Kerr.)

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Sunday, April 14, 2013
12:30 a.m.

UPDATE:  Surprised I didn’t think of this one immediately:

70. How much money did the Yankees give George in his three month severance package?

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Friday, April 19, 2013
1:57 p.m.

Published in: on April 14, 2013 at 12:31 am  Comments (1)  

Ebert

No one wants to live with pain.  No one wants to live with agony.  No one wants to live with limitations.

But sometimes, you have no better option.

Pain is the most underappreciated aspect of human life.  It’s dreaded more than embraced.  It’s feared more than loved.  No one wakes up looking forward to it.  No one goes to bed enjoying its company.  It’s the houseguest you can’t kick out.  It’s the annoying roommate who won’t leave you alone.  It’s always there no matter what.

But pain is also a great teacher.  You don’t notice it at first because of the blinding quadruple impact of despair, hopelessness, anger and frustration.  Over time, however, you learn:  patience for the slower pace of life; tolerance for the things you can no longer control; relief for all the love and support; and, most important of all, acceptance.

Acceptance.  That’s the hardest one, isn’t it?  Who wants to be ok with being less than who you really are?

But that’s a lie.  You’re not any less than you were.  In fact, you’re much more.  You just don’t see it right away. 

It’s true.  When pain hits us, we’re not the same any more.  It doesn’t matter if we’re talking depression, addiction or physical ailments, pain has a way of disrupting our lives so severely the loudness of our daily routine is suddenly muted.  Our usual comforts becoming increasingly elusive, our darkest thoughts awakening us to the terror of our new reality.  Pain stains our soul.

It doesn’t have to be that way, though.  Yes, not all pain is crippling or permanent.  Sometimes, it’s just a bad dream that eventually dissipates.  But for those whose conditions are severely and incurably altered by pain, despite the inevitable worst of some days, there are ways to thrive, there are times of joy and ultimately, there is a sense of peace.

Roger Ebert was first diagnosed with cancer back in 1987.  He beat it.  Then, he was diagnosed again 15 years later.  He beat it again.  But cancer is a ferociously stubborn beast.  It returned multiple times, most recently just a few days ago.  It was this cancer that finally killed him at age 70. 

But Roger Ebert isn’t dead.  He can’t be.  Like the many talents he followed throughout his 46-year career as a reviewer of film, he lives on in his work.  From the moment he got “The Dream Beat” in 1967 to the moment he drew his last breath yesterday, he left behind an astonishing life of thought and feeling for the many thoughts and feelings of those very talents.  He survives and thrives through the magic of technology.

After only seeing his first film, Who’s That Knocking At My Door?, he predicted great things for director Martin Scorsese who often didn’t let him or the film world down in the decades that followed.  He was pretty much alone in enthusiastically praising 2001 and Apocalypse Now when most critics were trashing them during their initial releases.  Both are considered classics today. 

And thanks to his longtime TV partnership with fellow critic Gene Siskel (who died of complications from cancer himself in 1999), he helped transform the once snobby world of ivory tower movie criticism into a more accessible art form in its own right without once sacrificing passion or intelligence.  The films they championed often became films we championed.  They made it cool to be smart and opinionated even if your view wasn’t shared by anybody else.

In the last decade, Roger Ebert had to embrace all the changes wrought by pain.  He had to accept the alteration of his speaking voice and over time, its complete absence.  He had to accept dramatic weight loss.  He had to accept a loss of balance.  He had to accept a great deal of assistance from his remarkably loyal and compassionate wife of 20 years, Chaz.  He had to accept a life of dependency.  He had to accept a prosthetic jaw that did not flatter his face.  He had to accept a life without solid foods.  He had to accept limited physical movements. 

He had to accept pain.

And he did.  But the pain didn’t define him.  It taught him:  how to adapt and how to adjust without losing the passion he had for the movies.  When Ebert couldn’t talk on TV and the radio anymore, he started a blog, joined Twitter and wrote numerous books including his memoirs.  He didn’t just write about the cinema, he wrote about life, his life, the lives of others.  He wrote about science and religion.  He wrote memories.  He wrote dreams.  He wrote political views.  He wrote everything he wanted to.  And we responded.

And he never stopped going to the movies.  Despite being voiceless, he couldn’t keep quiet about what he loved and what he loathed.  His brain never stopped.  Neither did his fingertips.  The words, the thoughts, the feelings, the hopes, the concerns, the desire for excellence, it all grew stronger online, in those many books and in the pages of the Chicago Sun-Times, his longtime home.

My earliest memory of him is probably from 1981.  My dad was obsessed with taping things off the TV and he often tuned into Sneak Previews on PBS usually just to capture clips of the latest releases.  But he caught the opinions, too.  There he was, this sweatered fat man with a bad haircut and ridiculous glasses having a conversation with a thin, bald guy about movies.  Most often they agreed, sometimes they didn’t.  But they cared.  We did, too, through several incarnations including syndication.

I was far too young to understand or appreciate what they were saying, what they were doing back then.  (I was only 6.)  But by the end of 1990, I began to listen and I learned.  For a decade.  First, every Sunday afternoon, then every early Monday morning.  It was like taking a weekly private study class with two eccentric professors.  They introduced me to a world beyond Disney and The Muppets, beyond superhero movies, Star Wars and Spielberg.  They taught me film and how to assess it.  They taught me how to think for myself.  They turned me into a man.

They demanded I seek out quality, savour it always and to spread the word so others could enjoy it, too.  They urged me to avoid predictable fare or risk being bored and insulted.  Challenging material was always more welcome than the same old thing. 

They didn’t always praise what everybody praised.  Siskel disliked Unforgiven and The Silence Of The Lambs.  Ebert was horrified by A Clockwork Orange.  They didn’t hate what everybody else hated.  The Bodyguard, for instance.  And they weren’t always persuasive.  (Ebert liked Cop And A Half, for example.)  But I always knew where they stood.  Once I found my own voice and developed my own tastes, they mattered even more.  Now we could argue.  Now we could compare.  They opened up the conversation and invited us all to join in.

14 years ago, I lost a hero named Gene.  Yesterday, I lost another hero named Roger.

They were two great men who learned how to power through their considerable pain.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Friday, April 5, 2013
3:34 a.m.

Published in: on April 5, 2013 at 3:34 am  Comments (2)