Tag Archives: Billy Joel

Bruce Vilanch: Secret 24th Member of the USMNT?

As I mentioned yesterday, I fell hard for this year’s World Cup, watching more soccer than I ever imagined I could, transfixed by matches like Ivory Coast vs. Greece, arranging my schedule around France vs. Switzerland. But even though I watched the majority of knockout games and an entirely unnecessary amount of group games, regardless of the matchup, it was the U.S. Men’s National Team that really stole my heart and refused to let go (despite only winning one of four games, and losing their last two. But we won’t focus on that). I didn’t know much about the team before the tournament, other than that Landon Donovan was not on the team and Tim Howard is really, really good and Clint Dempsey is not Clint Mathis. But by the time the USMNT rolled into Salvador’s Arena Fonte Nova to take on Belgium we could roll off the names Michael Bradley and Jermaine Jones and Kyle Beckerman and DeAndre Yedlin like we had been following the club for years. In a truly abbreviated amount of time the USMNT became our team the way that the New York Rangers are our team, and as we lived and died with the Broadway Blueshirts into the Stanley Cup Final, we felt similarly about the USA squad. And even though the dream only lasted a couple of weeks, our bond was deep, if only so brief.

But a few days ago we stumbled upon Inside: U.S. Soccer’s March to Brazil, an ESPN Films series covering the journey of the USA team from the World Cup qualifiers to their departure for Brasil, and all the roster changes and training sessions and Jürgen Klinsmannisms in between. And since beginning the series I’ve been obsessed. It’s just like in 6th Grade when everyone fell in love with Green Day’s Dookie (or so they professed) and wrote the band’s name on their backpacks with Wite-Out and then discovered their early stuff like 39/Smooth and Kerplunk (except in my case it would have been Billy Joel and collecting all of his albums that predate his Greatest Hits Volume 1 & Volume 2). March to Brazil is the USMNT’s early stuff, and I’m really digging it. Sure, they’re raw and unrefined, and there will be some personnel changes before they settle on the definitive lineup, but the soul is there.

But as much as I’ve enjoyed this series, learning the background of these players that I cheered so hard for just two weeks ago, there was something else that I found absolutely stunning: Bruce Vilanch was a member of the USMNT.

Well, maybe not exactly, but he definitely makes an appearance in Part 2, evidently having traveled on the same flight as Defender Omar Gonzalez. Take a look:

 

Did you catch him? Look again:

Bruce Vilanch Omar Gonzalez USMNT

 

Let’s go in for a closer look:

Vilanch-CloseUp

 

Well, if the one size too small graphic t-shirt and red glasses don’t give it away, then the blond Fry Guy hair sure does. I mean, it can’t be, but it’s gotta be:

Bruce Vilanch

Now, as I said, I’ve watched a Bruce Vilanch-worth of USA soccer and haven’t seen the writer-comedian anywhere else, but is it possible that the Off-Center Square was Jürgen Klinsmann’s secret weapon? Did Klinsmann do what Whoopi and Billy have done before him and Get Bruce? Did Vilanch keep Michael Bradley at ease with his playful, suggestive puns? Did he help immerse Jermaine Jones and Julian Green in American culture? Did he trade hair secrets with Graham Zusi and Mix Diskerud? Or maybe, just maybe, he was making a surprise cameo in Kyle Beckerman’s engagement photos? Whatever the reason, Vilanch needs to be on the roster for 2018.

We’ll never be able to beat the Germans by playing their game. We need to create our own American style, embrace what makes our country unique. Maybe, just maybe, Bruce Vilanch is the key.

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Filed under Freak Out Control, Huh?, Intersection of the venn diagram of things that I love, Match Games, Matt Christopher Books, Monster Mash, What? Too fabulous?

A Jumped the Snark Shorty: Dave, Lindsay & Alec

Yesterday we talked about how greatly Dave Letterman is revered, how, despite Leno winning the ratings battle, Letterman has clearly won the Late Night war. Part of his appeal, admittedly,  has been his aloofness, his refusal to play by the rules and pander to either the audience or the guests. His rough edge is what, ironically, has made him endearing for three decades. But there are times, rare but documented, when Dave abandons his cranky side, however briefly  and shows true compassion. It is that sensitive, caring, paternal part of Dave that is the flip side to his default curmudgeon state, the yin to his prickly yang that has made him so beloved and appreciated. And it was precisely that element of Dave that was on display when Lindsay Lohan appeared on The Late Show to, ostensibly, promote her appearances with Charlie Sheen in Scary Movie 5 and on Anger Management. However, with Lindsay due to enter court mandated rehab in May, and with Dave’s history of engaging troubled starlets, including Lohan, Letterman not surprisingly steered the conversation towards off-camera matters, boldly confronting Lohan about her personal problems. It was awkward and sad and kind of hard to watch, and certainly not something you’d see from Jay Leno, but it was also classic Dave. And, despite Lohan’s obvious discomfort you can see that she appreciates Dave’s concern, and, conversely, it is plain that Dave’s concern is genuine.

[full interview here]

You can argue that Dave was wrong to drudge up her personal life – clearly Lohan is not in the right state of mind to address these things on-camera – but despite whatever sensationalist motive Dave might have had, you can’t argue that Dave does not care about Lohan. He’s a lot of things, but disingenuous it not one.

In other late night news, reports are indicating that Alec Baldwin is interested in hosting a late night talk show, potentially taking over the 1:35am slot currently (still, somewhat shockingly) occupied by Last Call with Carson Daly,* and that NBC is likewise interested in continuing their relationship with Baldwin. This show would most likely take on the form of an intimate one-on-one interview, something like a television version of Baldwin’s WNYC podcast Here’s the Thing. It would also be akin to Tom Snyder’s Late Late Show, which we discussed in yesterday’s post. As opposed to the possibility of Seth Meyers taking over for Jimmy Fallon on Late Night,  which we explained might be an ill-advised choice, we think this makes more sense. Baldwin is already in the Lorne Michaels/Broadway Video family, having just finished his career redefining stint on the Michael’s produced 30 Rock and having become the definitive SNL host (non-Justin Timberlake category). He’s arguably as popular as ever, and, as his podcast interview with Billy Joel showed, he can be simultaneously intelligent and well-read while still just feeling like a regular guy from Long Island. It’s that easy-going charisma that would make Baldwin a successful interviewer, and it’s not absurd to think that people would enjoy tuning in to see him chat with other actors, writers, musicians for an hour. In fact, it has so much promise, and is so different from what Jimmy Fallon does, it might actually make for a better companion directly after The Tonight Show, whether under the banner of Late Night or as something entirely new. With Fallon’s show being so frantic, so silly, so irreverent, it might be nice to pair it with something more old-fashioned and slower-paced, even if it’s just a Baldwin hosted show one night a week. And Baldwin can do it as long as he wants, until either he or Lorne is ready to for someone or something else. Worst case scenario, it can’t be as bad as The Chevy Chase Show.

*While this post was being written Deadline reported that Last Call with Carson Daly has been renewed for another (13th!) season, so all those words might have been for naught. Still, this might not affect the Baldwin situation, or, perhaps, indicate that he would, in fact, be considered for the Late Night slot.

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Filed under Analysis, Shorties, Talkies, Yasmine Bleeth

Down at Fraggle Rock & Roll

Yesterday Ben Folds Five, in conjunction with Nerdist and the Fraggles, released the video for “Do It Anyway,” the first single from their new and apparently much-anticipated album The Sound of the Life of the Mind, and it’s awesome. It’s just awesome.

Let’s just run down a quick list of why this is awesome:

1. Fraggles. Duh. Obvious #1.

2. Specifically Uncle Traveling Matt. Or, as you may know him, Tarzan from Survivor: ONE WORLD!

3. Rob Corddry, doing general Rob Corddry things (the smarmier the better).

4. A pretty rocking Ben Folds Five song. In fact, it’s so good that we’ve been forced to reassess our whole perception of Ben Folds Five. Thanks to his service as a judge on the Sing-Off, Ben Folds had already endeared himself to us as perhaps the one and only genuinely polite, affable and respectful judge among all reality competitions. But that was specific to his personality and gratitude, his completely unironic earnestness and enthusiasm. It did nothing to make us think of “Brick” as anything other than an okay song that we periodically remember is about abortion which VH1 used to play every morning just before or just after the video for Sheryl Crow’s “Strong Enough,” a song we much preferred. Nor did his positivity and humor suggest to us that we should go back and give Forever and Amen a listen, that perhaps when we surmised that Ben Folds Five was for the other guys, we were mistaken. No, we just grew to really like the guy. However, this video completely calls into question everything we thought we knew about Ben Folds Five. Perhaps we had them wrong all along. 

And 7 more reasons why this is awesome…

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Just the Way You Are: On Taco Bell’s Cantina Bell Menu

Don’t go trying some new fashion
Don’t change the color of your hair
You always have my unspoken passion
Although I might not seem to care

I don’t want clever conversation
I never want to work that hard
I just want someone that I can talk to
I want you just the way you are.

Last week we visited Taco Bell for the first time since it introduced its new Cantina Bell menu, a shameless pandering to the Chipotle burrito bowl crowd, a citrus-herb-marinated-chicken-fisted attempt to appeal to those who prefer a “gourmet, healthier, fresher” option. First of all, those words should never, ever appear in the same sentence with Taco Bell, unless you were listing  antonyms for Taco Bell.  And while we’d go under oath professing that avocado is one of our three favorite foods (along with bacon and cheese, creating the Holy Trinity of food, the A-B-Cs of eating), at Taco Bell we don’t want our guac coming from anywhere other than a caulk gun. If we wanted fresh guacamole not the consistency of toothpaste we wouldn’t go to Taco Bell, we’d make it ourselves (and we make a pretty mean guac, ask around). It’s pretty simple. We know what you are Taco Bell (at least we thought we did), and we were happy with you. Billy Joel pretty much says it exactly right. Don’t go changing to try and please me. I’ll take you just the way you are.

More: Taco Bell, We would not leave you in times of trouble…

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Filed under It's gross., Local Flavor, The Sixth Taste

Gallagher: Still Mad After All These Years

Back in March Gallagher suffered three separate heart attacks and it seemed like the very appropriate time to post a long-gestating Gallagher piece we had been planning to write.  Well, obviously, two months have passed, but during that interim we kept this tab open in our browser, a reminder that, eventually, we needed to get to it, to talk about Gallagher, to try to make some sense of this fallen from grace comedian in the twilight of career, and possibly of his life.

We should preface this by detailing our own personal history with Gallagher.  We very clearly recall watching his cable specials as a child, filling time slots in the early years of Comedy Central and possibly even on VH1, before they had Celebrity Rehab to occupy the bulk of their schedule.  Of course we remember the watermelon smashing – the Sledge-O-Matic – but we also vividly remember a giant couch, outfitted with a trampoline under the giant cushions, and as an eight year-old that seemed like the coolest thing ever.  It was like Lily Tomlin’s Edith Ann, but crossed with a playground, with a purpose.  We wanted one.  The stage, with its oversized props, was quite literally a giant toy store, and Gallagher was the wily proprietor, with a sparkle in his eye and a mischievous grin.  We’re not sure at the time that we really understood “comedy,” but we liked whatever he was doing.  It may not have been comedy, but it sure as fuck was entertaining to a kid still five-years shy of his Bar Mitzvah.

Read on: Our journey with Gallagher continues and we look back at one of those early specials…

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Filed under Analysis, Bad Humor, Good Humor, In defense of:, Masochism, Nostalgia Corner

Be Careful What You Don’t Wish For: Richard Hatch & Meatloaf on ‘Celebrity Apprentice’; AKA Our Brain is Fully Intact

Okay, well, this doesn’t even approximate the level of Boston Rob vs. Russell, but it’s intriguing nonetheless, as the new season of Celebrity Apprentice will pit the original Survivor winner against one of our guiltiest pleasures (they’ll also be competing against La Toya Jackson, Jose Canseco, Mark McGrath, David Cassidy, Dionne Warwick and (gulp) Gary Busey, among others).  Truth be told, we didn’t get into Survivor until the second season (The Australian Outback), so we have no particular allegiance to Hatch (in fact, we somewhat resent “the snake” because we think he gets too much credit for defining how the game is played; people would have figured out to lie and manipulate sooner or later), but the presence of Meatloaf might just be enough to get us to tune in (briefly).  When Jumped the Snark was young we had an obsession with “I would do anything for love” (thanks, in large part, to the videos frequent play on VH1), and we soon played out both sides of Bat Out of Hell 2: Back Into Hell on our Walkman.  In fact, we once cleared a basement at a friend’s birthday party by belting out a rendition of the tune (perhaps we shouldn’t have done the female parts too).  But we loved that song, and we loved that album, and until we entered our prolonged Billy Joel phase in middle school Meatloaf was our favorite (along with Weird Al).  And we still include”See Meatloaf live” on our list of things to do before we (or he) die.

Admit it.  You love it.

Oh, and our prediction: Mark McGrath will NOT win.

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Filed under Be careful what you wish for, Century 21 Reality, Intersection of the venn diagram of things that I love, Tribal Council, Tyranasaurus Sex

Kieran’s Korner: Let’s Get Real About Paul McCartney

It’s been five days and yet we still have a bad taste in our mouth after last week’s ‘SNL’ hosted by Paul McCartney with a special appearance by Paul Rudd.  We understand that Paul McCartney is special, even the British monarchy has acknowledged that.  There are stars, and there are mega-stars, and then there are supernovas.  McCartney is the latter.  However, we still believe that ‘SNL’ shouldn’t have been so much about him, and his presence struck us a somewhat selfish booking, designed to provide more pleasure for the cast and crew than the audience at home.  This sentiment was only driven home when Paul Rudd remarked on ‘Live! With Regis and Kelly’ that (no surprise) after the show McCartney stuck around to play an impromptu private concert.  Rudd was obviously still in awe of the moment, noting that he’s “a massive Beatles fan, like everyone.”  But we’re not massive Beatles fans, and even if we were, we wonder if we’d be interested in McCartney’s other works, like the songs he played for his first two ‘SNL’ sets.  So that got us thinking, do people really care about hearing Paul McCartney play anything but Beatles songs?  Do they just tolerate McCartney in hopes that he’ll break out the Beatles catalog?  Or do they genuinely enjoy the cuts from Wings and his solo stuff?  So to get more clarity on this question, we turned to our guest blogger-in-residence and Beatles aficionado Kieran Walsh, in our latest Kieran’s Korner:

Wow.  Lead me into a minefield, why don’t you?

It’s not an easy question.  It’s not an easy answer.  Gosh…  Well, let’s do this.

After the jump: Kieran does this.

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Filed under Analysis, Kieran's Korner, Saturday Night Live, Tyranasaurus Sex