Showing posts from July, 2013

The Voice of 1,000 Places

Tim Allen isn't the second coming of Mel Blanc. He isn't the next "Man of 1,000 Voices," as Blanc was known.

But Allen is the "Man of 1,000 Places," as in, his voice seems to be everywhere.

You can't escape Allen these days.

He's in your car, voicing "Pure Michigan" ads. And he's certainly all over your television, lending his voice to Chevrolet and Campbell's Soup ads. He's in your DVD cases, as Buzz Lightyear in the Toy Story movie franchise.

And, I am happy to report, Allen's face is on TV now, too, and has been, as Mike Baxter in ABC's Last Man Standing, a sitcom heading into its third season this fall. Good for Allen; readers of this blog may remember this piece I did on that show when it was set to debut, hoping for its success as Allen returned to the small screen after a 14-year absence.

But it's Allen's voice that goes to show that there's a lot of money in reading copy into a microphone in a steril…

I KNOW That Guy!

Dennis Farina was one of the few in Hollywood history who could say, "I AM a cop...AND I play one on TV." And in the movies.

Farina's name may not have been on the tip of everyone's tongue when they saw him on their screen---small or silver---but his face sure was. He was among the elite in the "I know that face but can't place the name" category of screen actors.

Farina, the ex-cop turned actor who often played a cop, is gone. He passed away Monday at the age of 69 due to a pulmonary embolism.

Farina was Chicago through and through. He was born there and for a time did Old Style beer commercials, which was another Chicago favorite.

"It's our great beer and they can't have it," was Farina's tag line.

But of course Farina was much more than a pitch man. He left the police business in his late-30s to give acting a shot, after he functioned as a consultant on the Michael Mann film Thief, which came out in 1981. Mann gave Farina a bit …

Gonna See My Poutin' Face...

Perhaps the biggest irony in Rolling Stone magazine's botched cover of Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is their use of the word "thoughtful" in their official statement, in response to the overwhelming negative reaction from everyone from loyal subscribers to vendors.

"The cover story we are publishing this week falls within the traditions of journalism and Rolling Stone's long-standing commitment to serious and thoughtful coverage of the most important political and cultural issues of our day," the statement read in part.

Thoughtful? I would submit that whatever was going on inside the magazine's offices while coming up with the rock star-like photo of Tsarnaev, thinking wasn't really among the activities.

I have no problem with the story itself. I think good journalism does indeed seek to find out how someone like the young Tsarnaev went awry, leading to the atrocities he committed in April.

But the cover photo was anything but thoughtful…

Thinking Inside the Box

Adam Sandler just can't shake his infatuation with kids, being a kid, and remembering what it was like being a kid---along with adults acting like, well, kids.

Sandler is currently starring in "Grown Ups 2" and this is not a review of that film. Not that I could give you a review of "Grown Ups," either, because like the sequel, I didn't see that flick.

This isn't about whether "Grown Ups 2" is a good movie or not; cinematic beauty is in the eye of the beholder, after all. Rather, this is about Sandler, and why I just can't shake the feeling that there could be so much more from him.

Not in terms of quantity, but in quality.

I look at Sandler and I see an actor who has never really spread his wings. He hasn't tackled material outside of his comfort zone. There are flashes of a warmer, more introspective side in each of his films, and there's a hint that he could take on heavier, more layered characters. Yet he doesn't.

I'm n…

Cast Iron Courage

David Brenner, the wildly popular stand-up comedian of the 1970s and '80s, was on The Tonight Show one evening. His guest segment had already happened, so he was on the couch as Johnny Carson chatted up somebody else.

Carson noticed that Brenner seemed to be daydreaming. Now, whether the following was planned or not, I don't know.

"David? Something on your mind?"

The camera switched to Brenner right away (which leads me to believe this was a staged bit) and the comedian said, "Actually, Johnny, I was just wondering who the bravest person in the world was."

Dutifully, Johnny said, "Oh? What do you mean?"

Brenner said, "Well, I think it was the first person to drink milk from a cow."

Carson giggled as only Johnny could, while Brenner continued.

"Somebody saw the cow, right? And he or she saw the udders dangling from the bottom of the cow. And that person is the bravest person, because that person said, 'See those things hanging fr…

Passing the (Fake) Buck

I have never, as far as I know, come into possession of a counterfeit bill. I likely wouldn't know it even if I had.

I'm not an expert on American currency, beyond that George Washington is on the dollar bill, U.S. Grant is on the fifty, and Ben Franklin adorns the hundred, among a few others.

But apparently at every retail outlet, I am a potential passer of bad bills---"funny money."

I'm sure it's happened to you. The cashier takes your twenty or fifty or one hundred dollar bill, holds it up to the light, and/or strikes it with a magic counterfeit detector pen.

Every time, my money has passed the test.

But I always get the same thought when the cashier does his/her thing: What in the world would I do if I was told the bill I was trying to use was fake?

Would bells and sirens go off in the store? Would the house lights go out and a spotlight rain down on me? Would a cop jump from behind the counter? Would the cashier take an ax and strike a piece of glass, al…


What is it about being in a position of leadership in Detroit that causes one to lose one's head?

Charles Pugh is the latest to exhibit strange, disturbing, and perhaps, illegal behavior.

Pugh, the now former City Council President, is in a firestorm of controversy, from the way he vanished from the face of the Earth recently to his alleged "inappropriate" relationship with a teenage boy.

Text messages were uncovered that show Pugh's frantic and panicked efforts to get the boy's mother to drop plans to take the relationship public.

The mother alleges that in addition to Pugh giving her son, who attended the Frederick Douglass Academy, gifts, there was an additional "incident" that supposedly occurred in Madison Heights recently.

In texts uncovered by the Detroit News, Pugh is clearly distraught over potential media coverage that would ensue if the boy's mother went public.

“I feel like I’ve run out of options to even have a normal life. Or even live,”…