Monthly Archives: February 2012

Is Danger Mouse Still Awesome?

On the final Sunday of each month I will look back on something I remember as being pretty good when I was kid. This month: Danger Mouse. 

My family finally got cable when I was seven years old in 1985. I only remember three channels from my childhood MTV, USA and Nickelodeon. At the time Nickelodeon was finally starting to figure out its place in the cable world, and was building on the success of the Canadian kids sketch comedy show You Can’t Do That On Television which it had actually starting airing three years earlier in 1982.

The programming was a bit odd. In 1985 you could watch reruns of Dennis the Menace andLassie, the anthology show Special Delivery, and Mr. Wizard’s World. Shows like Double Dareand The Monkees were a year away from airing on Nickelodeon, and the first episodes of Ren and Stimpy, Doug, and Are You Afraid of the Dark? were six years away. So with this hodgepodge of programming what was my favorite show on Nickelodeon? Danger Mouse. 

Danger Mouse was a British animated show that began airing in 1981 on ITV in the United Kingdom. It made its way to Nickelodeon in 1984, and ran for three years in the late afternoons. The show follows the adventures of super spy Danger Mouse, and his faithful hamster sidekick Penfold as they continually thwart the plans of the evil toad Silas Greenback. 

Danger Mouse was a huge hit in the U.K. where it ran for almost 10 years. It has achieved cult status on this side of the pond, and even led to a spin-off Count Duckula, but does it still hold up? Is Danger Mouse still as awesome as I remember it? 

0:00 – That is still a pretty great theme song. 

0:38 – “Trouble With Ghosts.” I do not remember the title cards being this elaborate. 

0:42 – Love the Terry Gilliam-esque London skyline. I am pretty sure every episode begins with this skyline. 

1:14 – Colonel K! I have no idea what kind of animal he is supposed to be, but Wikipedia says he is a chinchilla. OK. 

2:02 – Yep. Greenback’s henchman, Stiletto, just reached through the screen to DM and Penfold. I think this might be the Count Duckula episode. I swear I picked it at random. 

2:27 – A lot of unanimated talking going on. I have a bad feeling about this. 

2:47 – DM’s car has to be one the best superhero vehicles ever. Cool design, it flies and probably fits in a backpack. One of the odd things about this show is that it takes place in the human world. I wonder if people see the tiny flying car, with a mouse in it, and think it is cute. 

3:40 – Golf clubs? 

4:20 – Either DM and Penfold are huge rodents, or that is one small Frankenstein. The animation is dated, but I think almost any cartoon from the 1980’s is going to look this shoddy.

6:00 – They really do not like animating mouths. It is kind of like how Rob Liefeld hates drawing feet. 

8:50 – I do not think I ever knew that DM was wearing a suit. I just kind of assumed he was naked, but you can clearly see his turtleneck collar and the end of the sleeves. 

9:03 – Where did they get those sheets. Also, the patch and glasses on the outside? 

9:15 – Saw that one coming. Guess this is not the Count Duckula episode. Sorry to get everyone’s hopes up. 

9:30 – Danger Mouse definitely uses the technique of repeated footage. To save money and time a lot of animation studios re-use footage. It was extremely prevalent in almost all animation until the 1990’s. The good folks at Filmation were pretty well known for it. 

9:41 – I think we all know that the gun was a cannon with a boxing glove. Nice try Colonel K. Is it spelled Colonel’K on his name plate? I wonder what that is all about. 

10:20 – I forgot that the narrator comes back during the end credits. He’s pretty funny. “Will Penfold get the worst dressed hamster award again this year?” 

Overall, it was not as bad as I thought it would be. The animation left something to be desired, but like I said anything from the ’80’s is going to look dated. It probably works better for the show that it was only 10 minutes long because I did not find it all that funny or entertaining. It essentially held my attention for 10 minutes. Any longer and I would have had trouble watching. 

Danger Mouse sometimes ran with another animated British show, Bananaman, it was a series of shorts that would run between shows. I will leave you with the episode, “A Tank Full of Trouble.” I made it a little over a minute in before stopping it. 

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Odd Hipster Out

If I could get my wife to sit in front of a microphone I would turn stuff like this into a podcast, but instead you get a write-up. Blame her, not me.

The other night my wife and I had one of the best conversations about hipsters. I tow a fine line at times where I could possibly be considered a fringe hipster (a fringester?). I know it, but I really like my beard, black-rimmed glasses, plaid shirts and cheap beer. Are those things still hipster-related? I feel like asking if those were “hipster-related” might make me a hipster. Damn.

Anyway the conversation.

We were discussing the hipster friend who automatically makes things no longer cool. For example, let’s take three guys:

Hipsters

Here we have Jim, Dave and Mike (Do hipsters have vintage names like Ward or Cliff?). Dave and Mike have been friends for a long time, and have high regard for each other’s opinions. Jim has known Dave and Mike for a few years. One day Dave and Mike are talking about how awesome the new album from Smith Westerns is, and it is better than their first album, and so brilliant. Two weeks later, Jim catches a Smith Westerns write-up on Pitchfork, and tells Dave and Mike about this great new band he just heard.

Dave and Mike are devastated. They were already leery of Jim’s Doors t-shirt and necklaces, so Smith Westerns (at least in the eyes of Dave and Mike) are no longer cool. Jim is like a litmus test for Dave and Mike. If Jim likes it then it immediately is deemed uncool.

On top of it, Dave and Mike never tell Jim that Smith Westerns are cool, or even suck. They instead say something like, “Oh yeah. We knew about them in 2009,” or some other condescending shitty thing. Jim continues to try and be cool with Dave and Mike, but slowly he decides that he might want to start hanging out with other people. People who think The Doors’ best album is Waiting For The Sun.

At first you might feel sorry for Jim, but he is probably the coolest guy of the three. He wanted his friends to know about something he liked, and is just trying to be himself. Jim moves on because he is likable, and eventually makes some great friends. He keeps in touch with Dave and Mike, but mostly by following them on Twitter or Facebook. He might run into them at a show, or comic shop, but they don’t talk much when they meet. Dave and Mike probably immediately dislike the comics Jim is buying, and the band they are watching.

Dave and Mike continue doing things to their fullest hipster potential. They start smoking pipes, they start listening (and stop listening) to Odd Future, they drink tea, and continue to live together in some cruddy old house. Dave and Mike are meant for each other, and are totally OK with being in a folk/hip-hop/electronica band.

Of course, this is all hipster theory. It might sound like I am bashing hipsters, but I am not. Hipsters are OK, but they can be major dicks sometimes.

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I Watched T.J. Hooker…Last Week

Tjhooker

I remember a time when I would waste hours watching something utterly ridiculous just because it was on television. I probably cannot add up the time I lost watching movies like Airborne! and UHF. Those are classic films, but did I really need to stop what I was doing, and spend weekend afternoons watching them? Thankfully I am now married with a son, so my time wasting weekend afternoons are spent at the library or watching Blue’s Clues.

A part of me kind of misses those lazy days, but that part of me was probably hungover at the time. Is there a better hangover cure than watching “Weird” Al Yankovic as Rambo? Probably not. That part of me returned last week (minus the hangover), and allowed me to sit and watch the entire 90-minute T.J. Hooker pilot from 1982.

From what I remember about T.J. Hooker it starred everyone’s favorite Starfleet captain/Rescue 911 host/singer William Shatner, future ex-wife of Tommy Lee and Richie Sambora Heather Locklear and Adrian Zmed. You might remember Zmed from…T.J. Hooker. Shatner was the title character, a hard-nosed cop looking to regain everyone’s trust, Zmed was his partner and Locklear a rookie cop. I think she may have been a rookie cop the entire time she was on the show (1982-86), but I could be wrong. The first thing that might pop in your head about T.J. Hooker is Shatner sprawled out on the hood of a moving car. I honestly do not know how many times he did this on the show:

The pilot, “The Protectors,” is the starting point. Hooker is assigned to the police academy (unfortunately minus Steve Guttenberg and Michael Winslow) with the task of shaping up the new recruits. Crime is starting to take over the unknown city (LC?) that the academy is in, and the recruits are sent to the streets a little too soon. Did Hooker teach the recruits enough, or will they all be killed?

With all the crime going on the story focuses on two guys, Whit and Travis. Whit has just been released from prison, has a baby and needs to make some money. He teams up with Travis (who wears a peacoat ALL THE TIME even with people wearing shorts) to kill a couple for $17, rob some other guys and shoot a couple of the recruits. Whit and Travis decide to rob only people from “swanky” restaurants, but these restaurants are in terrible neighborhoods. One looked like it had a junkyard across the street, and the other had an apparent crackhouse next door. I guess the restauranteurs for the city were trying something “different.”

Eventually the recruits catch-up to Whit and Travis at a chicken place across the street from where they are having a picnic. The recruits hear gunshots, run to their cars to grab guns (pretty sure all the cars were unlocked and had their windows down) and head across the street. It leads to a pretty epic Shatner moment where he shoots at Whit while he is barreling down on him with his car. Hooker jumps out of the way, and Whit rolls over a car and the both cars catch on fire. No one rushes to get Whit out of the burning car, we move on to the recruits receiving their assignments and credits roll.

The pilot had some very 80’s moments. A bar scene turns into a disco dance party, there are a couple of Vietnam flashbacks, there is the allusion of sex and an affair (one of the recruits has a phone conversation with his wife who is naked in bed, Hooker later catches her in a car with her boss), feathered hair, short shorts and monogrammed underwear. They seriously had a discussion about Zmed’s monogrammed underwear.

While there is no Heather Locklear in the pilot it did have its share of 80’s hotties. The cheating wife, Lacy, is played by Deborah Shelton who was Miss USA 1970 and made the rounds of 80’s shows as a guest star. Kelly Harmon played Officer Kelly Sanders, but did not appear in another episode of Hooker. At first I thought she was Cheryl Tiegs, but some internet searching led me to the reason I recognized her:

She was the WRIF girl! This commercial ran for years in the Detroit area, and was a favorite among local boys. Harmon is also the daughter of Heisman Trophy winner Tom, and the brother of Mark. Also, she was married to John DeLorean. Her biography outside of acting seems way more interesting.

Overall, I would say it was a pretty awesome evening. I was reminded of my 80’s childhood and now I am wondering which former favorite I should watch next. Alf? The A-Team? Miami Vice? The list is pretty endless, but I honestly do not think I will have the time. I have a lot of Blue’s Clues to watch.

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No Matter Where You Go, There Will Always Be A Place

In the six years (1969-75) that Badfinger had its classic members (Pete Ham, Joey Molland, Tom Evans and Mike Gibbins) they signed with Apple Records, released seven albums, Harry Nilsson took their song “Without You” to number one, had three top 10 hits of their own and were one of the forebearers of the power pop sound as we know it today. 

Then over the course of 1974 and 1975 it would all be gone. Joey Molland left the band, and Badfinger left Apple for Warner Bros. Their manager, Stan Polley, mismanaged the band and their money. Warner became suspicious of Polley’s financial dealings and decided legal action was needed. They also decided to cut the band off, and stop any marketing of their albums. The band had no money, a terrible manager, and a bleak future. The pressure was too much for lead singer/songwriter Ham, and he hanged himself in 1975. He was 27. His suicide note blamed Polley, “P.S. Stan Polley is a soulless bastard. I will take him with me.”

The band did try to continue after Ham’s death, and released two more albums. Tensions between the Evans and the returning Molland eventually led to the band disbanding for good in 1983. Evans hanged himself following an argument with Molland over past royalties the same year. Molland continues to tour, and is the only classic member still alive after Gibbins death in 2005.

I first heard Badfinger in the oddball 1969 movie The Magic Christian starring Peter Sellers and Ringo Starr. I bought a used VHS copy because the movie is based on the book of the same name written by Terry Southern, and I was in a real big Dr. Strangelove/Stanley Kubrick kick. I do not actually remember hearing the Paul McCartney written “Come and Get It,” but after watching the Badfinger episode of Behind the Music I remembered where I had originally heard it. Badfinger actually have two other songs in the movie, but “Come and Get It” is the most popular for obvious reasons. It sounds like a Beatles song, and the band dealt with this criticism during their whole career.

Badfinger is one of the more tragic bands in rock n’ roll history. With better management they could have been one of the major groups of the 1970’s. They never won any awards or had an album reach higher than number 28 on the charts (1970’s No Dice), but you can hear their influence on artists like Elvis Costello and Weezer. Unfortunately, Badfinger is on a list with hundreds of other bands that are largely forgotten by the public and classic rock radio. 

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Good-Bye Village Elementary

My wife and I went to visit my parents in Pinckney, Michigan for the day over the weekend. Our son fell asleep on the drive, and instead of sitting in my parents driveway waiting for him to wake up we decided to drive through Pinckney. 

Pinckney is a rural town of a couple thousand people north of Ann Arbor. It tends to be conservative and very white. The town has two claims to fame. The close proximity it has to the tourist trap Hell, and graduate Robert Sabuda. Sabuda is a master pop-up book creator. It is also where I spent 22 years of my life. 

My parents have lived in Pinckney for almost 40 years. My mom graduated from Pinckney High School in the 1970’s, and has lived there almost her whole life. They are the last members of my immediate family still living in the area. While they live in Pinckney they have almost no association with the town. My dad is from Dexter, a town 10 miles away, and they spend most of their time at functions there. So I should not have been all that surprised when I noticed the first school I attended, Village Elementary, was being torn down without my knowledge. 

The school district has been losing students for years, a common trend in most of Michigan, and Village has not been used as a school for some time. It seems to make sense to tear it down, but I will say that I was geniunely shocked when I saw it. 

Village was actually the high school for a number of years in Pinckney. My grandma graduated from there in the 1930’s. There used to be this poster display that had all of the graduating classes, and my dad pointed her out to me. I seem to remember someone telling me that she played on the basketball team, and the gym appeared to still be standing. From what I have read it looks like it will soon be gone as well to make room for a new library.

It is strange when a piece of your history is gone, or fades away. Memories flood back. I remember not wanting to dance at an assembly for The Letter People because I was shy. And seeing local children’s group Gemini (yes, they are twins). I met some of my first friends at Village, and played little league baseball behind the school. Seeing it in the process of being demolished made me feel old and sad. A part of me wanted to jump the fence and snag a brick, or at least take pictures. I did neither.

When my parents retire, and move from Pinckney I am not sure how often I will return. The only reason we head out there now is to visit, and when we do we rarely venture into town. When I lived there I kind of hated Pinckney because it felt so far away from everything, and I still kind of feel the same way today. It will always be my hometown, and where I grew up, but I just do not think I belong there anymore. 

 

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Review: Hark! A Vagrant by Kate Beaton

Hark_a_vagrant

I spent most of the past weekend trying to figure out how to explain the amazingness that is Kate Beaton’s Hark! A Vagrant, but the best I could come up with is that I think this book is really, really awesome. It is a hilarious and smart look at classic literature and history through a series of simple comic strips. I do not want “simple” to sound like a put-down because the strips appear simple, but at times are more complex than they look on the surface. The one thing that makes Hark! A Vagrant so great and funny is the use of facial expressions to compliment the story. 

Suffragettesm

Any fan of literature or history will find something they will enjoy in Beaton’s work. Her takes on Sherlock Holmes (and various Watsons) to the Bronte sisters and Canadian culture are spot on and at times ridiculously hysterical. I am not sure you can put those two words together, but I just did and I am leaving it. This is my review, so suck it.

Beaton reminds me at times of Sarah Vowell in the way she can take historical events, and make them not only interesting, but funny. There is humor in history to go along with the tragedy. Hark! A Vagrant is filled with comedic takes on the French Revolution, Andrew Jackson and hipsters through the ages. I never really thought about the idea of hipsters always being around, but it just makes sense.  

As a former bookstore worker I found a bit of delight in the section of Edward Gorey covers. I did not realize that Gorey had illustrated so many book covers over the years probably because I did not know that he illustrated book covers at all. Also, Gorey’s covers left a bit to the imagination especially for overactive imagination like Beaton’s. I think this one is my favorite:

Yeats

If your knowledge of Canadian history is at the level of most Americans (we know that Canadians play hockey while riding moose, drinking beer and watching SCTV, right?) you might have to go to Wikipedia for a couple of these strips. There’s nothing wrong with learning more about our northern neighbors (I now know more about Lester Pearson than I did last week) especially if certain members of the Republican party win in November.

I could spend a lot of your time telling you how great this book is, but you should just head to a store and buy yourself a copy. Or if you are financially challenged like myself you should visit a place called the library like I did. Also, Beaton has been posting strips for years at harkavagrant.com where you will find many, many more strips not contained in the book.

Hark! A Vagrant is the most fun I have had reading in years. It is funny, sometimes odd and really smart. You honestly will not be disappointed. Great book. I leave you with the comedy of gangsters.

Gangsters

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The Sports Doldrums

When Tom Brady’s pass hit the turf in Indianapolis to end Super Bowl XLVI it started a time that many sports fan’s dread. From now until the beginning of the NCAA Basketball tournament on March 13th there is not a whole lot to get excited about sports wise. Many fans will disagree, but they are actually in denial. 

What about the NHL? Unless you live in Canada, Michigan, Minnesota or Massachusetts you probably did not even know that the NHL still existed. The NHL has been relegated to Versus and low-rated NBC afternoons. Since the league emerged from a lockout that canceled the 2004-05 season, and an overhaul of league rules that tend to benefit finesse over brawn it has been struggling to attract fans. To make matters worse its most marketable player, Sidney Crosby, has played a total of eight games since suffering a concussion in January of 2011.  Add to this almost zero exposure from ESPN, and the casual hockey fan will not get excited until the Stanley Cup Playoffs start in April. And only if their team is still playing in the postseason.

How about the NBA? See above, but replace Canada, Michigan and Minnesota with Florida, California and Texas. Possibly Oklahoma. Everyone hates that league’s best players are choosing where they want to play. The NBA just emerged from a lockout that shortened the season, and made fans hate the league even more. They also have the most hated commissioner in sports with David Stern. Seriously, a lot of people are really mad with “the league” right now. 

College basketball? This is about as close as I get to being excited with one exception that I will name later. The nation is gearing up for March Madness, and the games are starting to mean something. Brutal conference games are making teams tougher for what lies ahead in March, but also can lead to some brutal games to watch. Michigan State lost to Illinois last week 42-41! Coverage of college basketball will begin to expand as we edge closer to March with CBS and ESPN gearing up for the tournament. Get ready to have the word “bracketologist” embedded in your brain. Honestly though college basketball does not really become exciting until the conference tournaments start in March leading to the madness. 

OK, NASCAR? Nope. I think everyone started realizing that the cars were just going in circles, and they could tune in for the last couple of laps to catch the best racing of the day. The era of crashing people to win are long gone. Also, the season starts with its biggest race. That just seems anti-climatic to me. My parents are going to be really mad if they ever read this.

Baseball spring training? I get a little excited when pitchers and catchers report to Florida and Arizona in late February, but that excitement fades a bit during March and is replaced with impatience as I wait for the season to actually start. Spring training is actually kind of fun, but only if you are in Florida or Arizona to see it live. Watching it on television, thousands of miles away is fun until Miguel Cabrera is replaced by someone minor leaguer in the third inning and by the ninth the whole AA team is on the field. 

So what do I actually recommend watching to help cure the sports doldrums until March 13th? Watch your favorite sports movie. My personal favorite is Eight Men Out. Check out the 30 for 30 series from ESPN. Just pick one, and watch it because they are all pretty amazing. If you have ESPN Classic watch a classic game, or Battle of the Network Stars. Personally I am planning on doing some work around my house, playing with my son and getting outside when global warming allows. 

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Pictures From My Past: Star Wars Toys

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On the first Sunday of the month I will dig into the vast collection of odd pictures from my past, and try to explain myself. 

There are so many amazing things going on in this picture. This picture oddly does not have any explanation or dates written on it. Usually my mom was pretty good about writing what was going on in pictures, or at least giving dates. 

I am pretty certain this is from Christmas 1982. Aside from the Christmas tree (or holiday tree) that is tough to make out in the upper left hand corner there are two other reasons I know this. In the upper right hand corner is a little rocking chair with a baby bouncer on it. My brother was two months old in December 1982. The other reason is pretty nerdy, and I will give my nerd friends a second to try and guess…

Did you figure it out?

That is right, no toys from Return of the Jedi. I see a cloud car, a Hoth playset, a bunch of bounty hunters, a tauntaun and I know that the star destroyer had that chamber for Darth Vader. The chamber that brought his helmet down, and reattached it to his head. I never really understood what was going on in that scene. Was the helmet getting cleaned? Anyway, my collection is very The Empire Strikes Back heavy. 

What a goofy grin. I am so proud of this collection. It went into a bit of overdrive after Return of the Jedi five months later. I am sure if this picture was taken at Christmas 1983 the collection would have been at least double this. Over the years I broke some of these and threw them away, we lost some more in a move, and I sold off the rest.

A few years ago my parents found a box full of figures, many of which are in this picture, and I decided to sell them as well. They were all broken, and for some reason a bunch of string was tied around Lobot’s (he’s the bald right-hand man of Lando Calrissian at Cloud City) head, but I sold them for a pretty decent price on eBay. I was positive some toy seller bought them, but I got an e-mail from a mom letting me know that she bought them for her six year old son. I hope that kid got as much fun out of them as I did, and I hope he figured out how to get that string off Lobot’s head. 

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A Letter to Fan Boys About Before Watchmen

Dear Fan Boy,

Settle down. Take a swig of your Mountain Dew Code Red, and take a deep breath. It is going to be OK. I know you just spent the past day scouring comic book blogs and message boards denouncing Before Watchmen, but stop and think about it for a second.

Who is your favorite character from Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons Watchmen? Rorschach? A lot of people like Rorschach. Guess what? Now you will get at least four more issues about Rorschach written by Brian Azzarello and with art from Lee Bermejo. The same guys who did Joker a couple years ago. Remember how much you liked Joker? I think they are the perfect guys to tackle Rorschach.

Guess who else is working on Before Watchmen? J. Michael Straczynski, Darwyn Cooke, Amanda Conner, Len Wein, Adam Hughes, the Kubert Brothers and Jae Lee. You are a fan of these people. You love Babylon 5 and DC: The New Frontier and girls with big boobs. So I think you will dig what these creators do to the Minutemen, Silk Spectre and Dr. Manhattan. Trust me. 

I know Alan Moore has told The New York Times he was not happy with this news, but I do not think that guy is ever happy. He was right about The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen movie, but he also reimagined all of the characters for that series from classic literature. And do not get me started on Lost Girls. Even the characters of Watchmen were partially lifted from old Charlton characters. So for him to compare Watchmen to Moby-Dick is a bit of a stretch.

You are right that you do not have to buy these issues, but being angry did not get you to stop buying “The Death of (Insert Superhero Name Here),” and DC knows this. That is OK because I am super interested in some of these series as well. So are a lot of people. If you do not want to tell your buddies that you are interested that is cool I will not tell them. It will be our secret.

Look on the bright side. Some of your favorite characters of all-time are going to get new stories from some of the better creators in comic books. DC was smart they did not ask people like Rob Liefeld to work on this. They have him working on The Savage Hawkman instead, and no one reads that comic. I also thought he was pretty awesome when I was 13, but does Cable really need a gun that big?

Alright. To review: They have some pretty awesome people working on this. Watchmen is not Moby-Dick. Your secret is safe with me, and no Rob Liefeld. All in all it should be pretty exciting, and entertaining. And that is what comic book reading should be all about.

You may now return to Skyrim. I am going to start watching this Saturday Night Live from 1993 starring Jason Patric. 

Jeremy

 

 

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My Five Most Awkward Celebrity Encounters

I spent the last decade working in a bookstore, in the hometown of its corporate headquarters. This meant that a lot of authors (or other various people with book deals) popped into my store to sign their books. Over the years I met some pretty cool people from Stephen King to Rachael Ray (seriously she was really nice). And also some not so cool ones that I will not mention here…yet.

This list is not just comprised of folks I met while working in the bookstore, but I thought I would add some perspective. I met the master of horror, but I couldn’t talk to Zach Galifianakis.

5) Radiohead Concert

A friend of mine actually won a contest from MTV for six of us to travel to Los Angeles, and see Radiohead in concert in 2000. It was pretty awesome. We had better seats than Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston, Spike Jonze and Sofia Coppola were sitting right behind us and Beck was in the area as well. We also had passes for the after party.

Most of the band was at the after party (I don’t remember seeing Thom Yorke), and so were many celebrities. None of the previously mentioned celebs were there, but Patricia Arquette was. Somehow I ended up standing with Patricia Arquette, Ed O’Brien (he plays guitar for Radiohead), and possibly Robin Tunney. I was jetlagged and somewhat drunk, but I definitely remember Patricia and Ed. I also think some of my friends were also in this group, but either way I just stood there. I could not tell you what was being talked about, or anything about the encounter. I am pretty sure no one even noticed the bearded guy standing there with his cup of beer.

Either way it was short-lived. I received word that our Capitol Records chaperone was going to take our limo and leave, so I picked myself to go wait in the limo. I was dead tired, and relaxing in a limo by myself sounded nice. Plus, it was stocked full of liquor. As I am sitting in the limo this girl with a Radiohead sign kept inching closer to the car. I asked the limo driver (who was this incredibly cool guy, and loved the fact he was driving around kids and not famous folks) who she was. He told me she was at every show he worked at the Greek Theatre, and he would ask her to leave. He got out and walked up to her, and she left. When he got back in he told me she thought I was in the band, but that she thinks everyone in a limo is “in the band.”

So the Radiohead concert experience almost ended with me talking with numerous celebrities, and hanging with a weird groupie. Instead I fell asleep in a limo until my friends returned.

4) Tom Brokaw

Tom Brokaw might have the softest hands I have ever touched. I am sure they are softer than Dan Rather’s, and possibly softer than Rachel Maddow’s. Anyway, it was not the soft hands of Brokaw that made this encounter awkward it was what I said.

I was ringing at the register when I heard this familiar voice to the left of me. I looked up and Tom Brokaw was standing to my left having some books rung up. My fellow bookseller was smart enough to ask if he would mind signing some books for the store. As we waited for someone to bring up copies of The Greatest Generation and Boom! some of us started talking with the news anchor.

He told us he was in town to interview Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, and that he was driving himself around town. As he finished signing, and we started to break up our meeting I stuck out my hand, and said, “I’m a big fan. Great to meet you.”

Awkward silence followed. I do not even think he said, “Thanks.” He probably did, but all I could think about was how stupid I just sounded. I had never read his books, I always watched Peter Jennings on ABC and now I just spouted out the most cliched thing ever. I was not a big fan. In fact, all I could think about the whole time afterward was that Dana Carvey really nailed that impression on Saturday Night Live, and that I sounded like an idiot.

It give me a reason to tell my wife that I met Tom Brokaw every single time he is on the TV.

3) Kevin Nash a.k.a. Diesel

Very few people actually know of my past as a pro wrestling fan. I am not talking back when I was a kid watching The Iron Sheik take on Hulk Hogan; more like the late 1990’s when I had ringside seats for a taping of WCW Monday Nitro in Saginaw, Michigan. I slapped Booker T and Randy “Macho Man” Savage on the back, and recently found an Eric Bischoff pamphlet they dropped from the rafters that I kept. 

A couple years after my moment in basic cable wrestling history my family and I were at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida.We were nearing the end of our day, and were in the Terminator 2 ride. It is this kind of strange 360 degree movie set where you basically stand with a group of people, and stuff blows up around you. The group of us is standing and moving with the action and among this throng of tourists is this gigantic man. He was towering over everyone with his kid on his shoulders. It is dark, so no one can really see anyone, but when we begin to exit a bunch of us realize the large man is Kevin Nash. 

At this time Nash is one of the most popular wrestlers in the industry. Nash was one of the leaders of the nWo in WCW, and was recently that league’s champion. He was one of the WCW’s big stars during the height of its popularity, so naturally the guy could not take his kid to Universal Studios. He got swamped by people. My dad wanted us to go up and talk to him, and snapped a picture of him walking away from us. I felt sorry that the guy could not enjoy a day with his son, and left him alone. 

Nash is still wrestling today at the age of 52. 

2) Chuck Klosterman

Klosterman is hands-down my favorite writer. I had a subscription to Esquire just to read his column, and when he joined Grantland with Bill Simmons I almost blew up. I think my wife made fun of me for days because of how excited I was. Klosterman is one of my favorites because he moves from subject to subject with relative ease. He is a pop culture junkie, but he is also a big sports fan. 

About five years ago Klosterman was doing a book signing in Ann Arbor, so naturally I wanted to go. I had been working at a bookstore for about awhile, and had met my share of authors so I thought this will be great. I will get a book signed, and get to say something to my favorite writer.

Klosterman did a little reading, a quick Q&A and then we all lined up to get our stuff signed. I had a copy of Chuck Klosterman IV (a collection of essays) and an ESPN magazine where he wrote a pretty awesome piece on Barry Bonds. Myself and a friend wait in line, and finally get our chance. I walk up and ask him if he ever thought about writing a book exclusively on “the sports.”

What? The sports? Jesus Christ.

Before I can say anything Klosterman says, “The sports?” And for some reason I went with it. Yeah, the sports. Like that is what I call sports because I am some cool sports hipster or something. What an idiot. I have regretted this since the moment I said it. I worried (or wished) that he was going to write a column about the moron who calls it “the sports.” If I ever get the chance to meet him again we are going to fix this quickly. 

On a side note, I have the ESPN magazine signed and framed. It hangs in my man cave basement that just screams “the sports.”

1) Zach Galifianakis

In 2007, my wife and I were in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. We were walking along Bedford Avenue checking out the shops. It was a great day, and then we walked past Zach Galifianakis, and the day became magical. 

Up to this point Galifianakis was probably best known as a stand-up comedian, or for his stellar turn as “Bus Stop Man” in Bubble Boy. As comedy nerds my wife and I were huge fans, and this could have been a really cool story except my wife darted into a clothing store, missing him, and I froze in my tracks. This led to the most awkward, funniest celebrity encounter in my life. 

As I am standing there Galifianakis totally notices me staring at him. It was kind of like that scene in Fast Times at Ridgemont High where Phoebe Cates is getting out of the pool, but without the nakedness or the masturbation. It was slow motion. I like to tell people that our beards had a moment. In reality, he looked at me like, “Damn this guy knows who I am,” and I stood there like, “Oh my god. It’s Zach Galifianakis!” It probably lasted 15 seconds, but it seriously felt longer.

He continued walking down Bedford, and I turned to where I thought my wife was. It was probably the only time I actually stared down a celebrity, but I honestly could not believe he was walking past me on the street. And looking back I probably could have gotten away with saying something, but I was stunned. Stuff like that does not happen in Michigan. 

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