Sunday, November 30, 2008

Larsen's best albums/CDs of 2008

Would the last human being on Earth who still buys CDs please wave the flag? OK, it's me, and about a zillion guys in their 40s with grey hair, receding hairlines, and (not me!) pony tails.

And, with that out of the way, here are the finest CDs of 2008:

1. British Sea Power - Do You Like Rock Music?

The best album by Britain's Arcade Fire is the best CD of the year; big melodies, crashing symbols, screeching guitars, and two hit singles: Waving Flags and No Lucifer ("Easy! Easy!). Play it on your iPod at the Nonsuch exhibit at the Manitoba Museum to double your pleasure. And chew on some Doublemint Gum if you want, forget it.

2. Sparks - Exotic Creatures of the Deep

A guilty pleasure since 1979 or earlier, Sparks has somewhat abandoned its synth-pop/disco origins and made its third classic rock/opera/comedy album in a row, over 30 years after forming. Queen, Jellyfish, and the Darkness wish they were this good.

Check out "I've never been high." Key lyrics, "Maybe I'd try it/If I could buy it/But my connections aren't what they once were."

3. Mates of State - Re-Arrange Us

Happy round-songs have a way of dividing people: either you love them and want to sing along, or hate them and want to kick the skulls in of everyone around you singing along. "Row, row, row your boat gently down the...thwack."

The husband and wife team of Mates of State (don't hate me for saying this) are a two-piece version of what might happen if ABBA met the New Pornographers, and they have more round songs than any other band in history.

Who can turn the world on with a smile? Who can take a nothing day and suddenly make it all seem worthwhile? Mates of State! And the goofy video for "My Only Offer" makes me love them even more. Everybody! "Uh-uh-oh, it's my only offer..."

4. Hot Chip - Made in the Dark

I saw them in Minneapolis last year and they rocked my nerdy sci-fi brain. Are you ready for the floor, sci-fi nerds? And, yeah, and while we're at it: I have to admit that I watched Close Encounters of the Third Kind three times this weekend..."Who are you people!?"

5. Neil Diamond - Home Before Dark

I saw Neil at MTS Centre this year, and he was far too good for the geriatric patients and clinically dead people who managed to drag out their sorry carcasses to the show.

Kudos to Winnipeg's unknown "solitary man" himself, who excitedly danced by himself at the front of the arena for the duration of the show, much to the chagrin of the overly-rabid security guards who teleported in from Footloose: "No fun allowed!"

Diamond is the Jewish Elvis, and if you don't believe it, just take one more bite of the apple.

6. Robyn

At once daring you to "rumble in my jungle," and promising that "you can't handle me," this was the best Madonna album that Madonna never recorded. Apparently, Madonna felt the same, inviting Robyn to open for her on her "anorexic, breakup, plastic surgery, A-Rod" tour this year.

Robyn performed Cobrastyle on Letterman and - call me old fashioned - but I love to see a bear in a suit. Aww, Dave, you never get old.

7. TV on the Radio - Dear Science

What is this? Rap? Alternative? Soul? Rock? Pop? Or some completely new hybrid we have to call "good?" This album is even better than its much-heralded predecessor, and I'll probably like it even more about six months from now.

8. Ben Folds - Way to Normal

The sombre pop of Songs For Silverman behind him, Folds returned to form with a Tour de Force of ironic, (some would say offensive), pop songs for the dumped. Love the woman singing along on the YouTube link..."the b**** went nuts - she stabbed my basketball!"

9. Los Campesinos! - Hold on Now, Youngster

Releasing two albums in its first year, the delightful Los Campesinos! wished themselves dead on their very first single. Hey, the classic "cute girl, ugly guy" rock & roll archetype still works. Long live Shane MacGowan and Sinéad O'Connor!

10. Lindsey Buckingham - Gift of Screws

Buckingham releases great CD after great CD, year after year. A master of songwriting, singing, playing, and production, there's nothing not to like about this guy. Is it just me, or does "Did you miss me" sound a lot like "check your resumé?" Insert the Stevie Nicks joke of your choice here. Good audience banter, to boot.

Coming soon: the best songs of 2008.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Props to my media peeps

The Globe & Mail ran my letter in today's paper (see yesterday's post). Thanks, Globe, it's always nice to get a letter run in a newspaper that charges around $40 per agate line for an ad. Heck, that's an extra $80 in my pocket, which I will use to buy Tim Hortons coffees, lotto tickets, and magazine subscriptions through Publishers Clearing House.

It's always surprising to see how one little letter to the editor can get such a big response, and heartening to know how many people there are who understand that Winnipeg being called "too cold, boring, and far away" in a national newspaper - after a mere 208 Canadians take part in a focus group - is whack.

Terry MacLeod was nice enough to read my letter on CBC Radio One. I especially liked when co-host Marcy Markusa applauded and said, "Hurray for Kenton Larsen!" Finally, something in the media that I can get behind! Ha, ha.

More poetic justice came in today's Globe, which featured a story about Manitoba writer Miriam Toews' fourth novel, the Flying Troutmans, taking the first-place, $25,000 Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize, even though her book wasn't shortlisted for the Giller Prize or the Governor-General's award for fiction.

According to the 208 Winnipeggers I surveyed, it's a big swipe at novelists in Toronto, who are too boring, cold, and far away to win the prize. Wah, wah, wah.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Dear Globe & Mail: puh-lease...

A copy of the letter I sent to the Globe & Mail today:

Dear editor,

According to today's Globe & Mail, a survey of 208 Canadians says that Winnipeg is "too cold, boring, and far away" for them to come to see the new Canadian Museum for Human Rights in person.

It's worth pointing out that I get the Monday Globe with the Sunday New York Times - the very same little newspaper that listed Manitoba as one of the top 31 places to visit this summer.

It's too bad that those 208 Canadians are too cold and boring to get off of their butts to come to see it.

Kenton Larsen

Saturday, November 15, 2008

RIP Pat Riordan

Winnipeg lost its King of Comedy on Thursday, when Pat Riordan, 69, died of stomach cancer.

In the above photo, he's second from the left in the back row.

Pat was a singer with the band, the Balladeers, performing at local lounges Champs and Pierre's, and he hosted the comedy show at the Viscount Gort Hotel and the Winnipeg Press Club for some 20 years.

When we (Jason Beck, Trevor Boris, Charlie Oynske, and I) started our stand-up show at the Press Club just over 10 years ago, Pat couldn't have been more gracious. He was under no obligation to link himself to a bunch of crappy start-up comics, which we certainly were at the time, but he came out of retirement to host our show a number of times, including one at the British pub in Gimli, Manitoba, which I remember fondly for getting paid in pints of Guinness. Afterward, we hung out on Pat's boat, the Jennie May, which was his favorite place to be.

Onstage, Pat reminded me of a Winnipeg version of Johnny Carson: he always wore a suit jacket, had a relaxed demeanor, and cracked up most when a joke bombed. When said he was going to stop doing our show, we asked him to stick around, and he said, "You guys are great; you don't need me anymore." That was maybe the first professional vote of confidence for any of us.

Riordan's service will take place Thursday at 2 p.m. at the Cropo on 1442 Main Street. RIP Pat!

I kissed two girls, and the first one was better

Something that's stuck in my craw for the past year or so: now that Katy Perry's song, "I Kissed a Girl" has been played so many times that it's officially an element on the periodic table, it seems that everyone has forgotten about Jill Sobule's song of the same name from 1995.

Have a look (and - this is exciting - a pre-hit-in-the-face-with-a-goose Fabio co-stars in the video):

Sobule's take on Perry's song, courtesy of her website,

"The first thing I did was to download it to see if it sampled or resembled mine -- actually, I just listened to the free 15 seconds that iTunes provides... Well, it didn't sound at all like mine, and and the lyrics were more, say, "Girls Gone Wild" than what I was trying to do. But, I will not judge it public.

"And, I must say, it is catchy. It's just a bit annoying. You think she would have picked a different title, for goodness sake. However, my IKAG (I am using the acronym now) is admittedly over 10 years old and most of her young fans probably have never heard my version.

"When my IKAG came out, it was a different time: before Ellen, before The L word, and before Lindsay Lohan had a girlfriend. It was semi-bold, but maybe not the smartest career choice for a first single. But I was proud to be one of those that broke the barrier. Now it's like ...whatever."

I'm tempted to say that Perry stole Sobule's song, but I'll withhold that judgment until such time Perry releases a song called, "Supermodel." Don't do it, Katy!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Manitoba, meet Manitoba

Of the zillion or so CDs that I have littered around my house, car, workplace, and feet, the ones that are nearest and dearest to my heart are the ones that land firmly in the category of "punk rock."

As former Clash-city rocker Mick Jones once sang with Big Audio Dynamite, "I didn't like jazz, I didn't like funk - I turned out a punk!" Same here, except I like jazz and funk too.

Lately, I've been getting into proto-punk band the Dictators, who somehow escaped my attention "back in the day."

I caught the reformed Dictators about six years ago at Little Steven's Underground Garage Festival in New York, and they won me over with their over-the-top bravado in songs like "Who Will Save Rock and Roll?" and lyrics like, "I wish Sgt. Pepper never taught the band to play."

Their first and best album is 1975's The Dictators Go Girl Crazy!, which is notable for lots of things, including its great cover of Sonny and Cher's "I Got You, Babe," the hilarious cover photo, and "its blueprint for bad taste, humor, and defiance (Village Voice)."

What was fast and loud in 1975 is lo-fi and downright charming today; I've had the thing playing in my car for the past two weeks, and it gets better with each listen.

The band's main concern is all things that male teenagers love: cars, girls, burgers, TV, surfing, the weekend, and more dumb jokes than you can shake a stick at. Example: in "the Next Big Thing:" "I knocked 'em dead in Dallas, I didn't pay my dues - they didn't know we were Jews."

The band is also home of our province's self-appointed spiritual leader, Handsome Dick Manitoba. As owner of Manitoba's bar in New York's East Village (see above photo), he's probably doomed to being visited by vacationing Winnipeggers until his dying day (much like New York's McNally Robinson bookstore, located just a hop, skip, and a jump away from the bar).

So attached is Handsome Dick to the name "Manitoba," he threatened to sue the artist formerly known as "Manitoba" for using it, even though Handsome Dick has never recorded anything under that moniker (his real name is the not-very-punk-sounding Richard Blum). Saying he couldn't afford the lawsuit, the other Manitoba changed his name to Caribou, which is sufficiently Canadian-sounding enough to not have caused much, if any, brand confusion among his fans.

It's worth noting that at the time of The Dictators Go Girl Crazy!, Handsome Dick was listed only as "Secret Weapon" on the album sleeve, and apparently considered by the rest of the band as being little more than their mascot. By their third album, he was the band's lead vocalist: an inspirational and uplifting story for any Manitoban.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Secret Machines play to hicks in the sticks

Yesterday I selected a Pink Floyd album as the best Remembrance Day CD of all time; yesterday evening, I went to see a band sometimes mentioned as Floyd's heir apparent: the Secret Machines, who played the Pyramid to a crowd of, well, hillbillies (not the kind who loot Neiman Marcus either).

More about the hillbillies in a sec.

I first heard of the Secret Machines in Q Magazine, which selected the band's 2004 CD Now Here is Nowhere as one of the year's best. I bought it, and agreed with the assessment: "Nowhere Again" (see the above YouTube link) is one of my favorite songs of all time, and "Sad and Lonely" is required listening whenever I feel sad and lonely, which is virtually all the time, thanks to my winning personality and hilarious jokes. har, har...

The band's follow-up album, Ten Silver Drops, was even better. It took the sentiment of "Sad and Lonely" and stretched it out over eight songs. It's one of the best break-up CDs of all time, though Frank Sinatra's Wee Small Hours will always be the very best, especially if you're drunk or hungover to boot.

"Alone, Jealous, and Stoned," "All at Once (It's Not Important)," and "Lightning Blue Eyes" take all of that pent up sadness and turn it into a Black Celebration, and much more effectively than My Chemical Romance's Black Parade, which tried to do the same thing in a similar style.

So, it was with much enthusiasm that I went to the Pyramid Cabaret last night. The perennial problem with the Pyramid, of course, is that if the ticket says, "Doors open at 8," it really means, "You'll be lucky to see your headliner by midnight," which again was the case last night. C'mon guys: people in this town work for a living.

Arriving at the venue, we were greeted by a dozen cop cars. The cops had apparently chased a half-naked man into the venue. Usually that means "the lower half" is the naked part of the man, so we waited outside until he had been apprehended, repanted, and brought to the Remand Centre, where he was undoubtedly depanted again.

The opening band were crappy-sounding, singing, and playing - though I'm sure they're really nice guys - from Winnipeg. They were followed by Small Sins, a damn good band from Toronto, which entertained with some of the catchiest Canadian synth-pop this side of Men Without Hats.

And that's when the drunk hillbillies started making out two feet away from me. This was no tame make-out session: it had the power to gross out people in other postal codes. Clothes were pulled out of pants, tongues were thrust into mouths, and it all culminated with the happy couple falling onto the floor in a drunken stupor - twice!

By the time the Secret Machines came out, after midnight, the crowd had dwindled to about 30 people, including the happy couple, who continued their merry ways in front of the stage, much to the chagrin of the band, the audience, and society at large.

I'll give the band credit, though. It's a truism in entertainment that you're not supposed to blame the crowd that's there for the people who didn't show up. I know from performing stand-up that it's easier said than done. "Hey, where is everyone? Did you all come in the same car? Thanks for the true smattering of applause, etc."

Playing in front of a lame-ass, tiny crowd of hillbillies, though, Secret Machines impressed. The stage was nicely tricked out with a trigonometry-defying backdrop, the lights were stellar, and the band rocked it through a selection of their best songs over the better part of an hour and a half.

The between-song banter was minimal, but remarkably friendly and gracious, especially given the circumstances. Had I been in the band's place, I probably would've said something like, "Screw you, hillbillies!" before running out to the van and vowing never to return to Winnipeg, the Heart of the Continent.

We'll likely never see the Secret Machines play Winnipeg again, which is a crying shame. On behalf of the low turnout, the hillbillies, the lovers, the dreamers, and me, I'd like to thank Secret Machines for playing my hometown and making at least one schoolboy's dreams come true. You guys rule.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The best Remembrance Day album of all time?

Pink Floyd - The Final Cut (1983)

Often slammed as being "outtakes from the Wall," "a Roger Waters solo album," or "the album that finally broke up Pink Floyd," the Final Cut is my favorite Pink Floyd album, and perhaps the most thought-provoking CD you can listen to on Remembrance/Veterans Day.

The first sign that Pink Floyd's the Final Cut is, as Woody Allen once said, "total heaviosity" is its subtitle: "A Requiem for the Post War Dream."

Says Wikipedia: "Waters' lyrics explore what he regards as the betrayal of the British servicemen, such as his own father, who sacrificed their lives in World War II in the hope that victory would allow successor generations to build a better, more humane society based on progressive, humanist values, where political leaders would heed the lessons of the past and no longer be so readily prepared to resort to war as a means of settling disputes..."

In just 45 minutes, Waters tackles the Falklands War, Reagan and Thatcher conservatism ("Oh, Maggie, what have we done?"), and the fate of servicemen after the wars ("You can hide, hide, hide behind paranoid eyes"). And it all culminates with the promise of a nuclear war ("Could be the human race is run").

Dark, yes, but the music, mostly acoustic, is some of the most beautiful that Pink Floyd ever committed to vinyl (or disc). Among them: "The Gunner's Dream," "Paranoid Eyes," "Southampton Dock," and the title track, a musical nod to the Wall's "Comfortably Numb," which might be the only outward Pink Floyd love song in their entire catalog:

"And if I show you my dark side,
Will you still hold me tonight?
And if I open my heart to you, and show you my weak side
What would you do?"

When I saw Waters play MTS Centre last year - one of the best live shows I've seen - I was happy that he found room in his setlist for "Fletcher Memorial Home" (his tribute to "overgrown infants" Reagan and Thatcher) and "Southampton Dock." I would've done just about anything to hear that great piano segue leading into "The Final Cut." Maybe next time.

For those who prefer their Pink Floyd on the heavy side, there's "the Hero's Return," in which David Gilmour's raging guitar mimics a fighter jet crossing the sky, and "Not Now John" a rare Pink Floyd rave-up sung by Gilmour with supporting vocals by Waters and unnamed female background singers; hated by many, loved by me, it was the album's only single.

Recent pressings of the Final Cut include "When the Tigers Broke Free," which Pink Floyd recorded for the film version of the Wall. While I do miss the ticking clock at the end of "One of the Few" being interrupted by the gut punch at the beginning of "The Hero's Return," "Tigers" is a great bonus, a moving song about a soldier's sacrifice and the son he left behind:

"It was dark all around
There was frost on the ground
When the tigers broke free
And no one survived from the Royal Fusiliers Company C
They were all left behind
Most of them dead, the rest of them dying
And that's how the high command took my daddy from me"

Coming out the same year (and almost the same time) as U2's War, the two CDs make great companion pieces, Pink Floyd's being the introspective counterpoint to U2's more bombastic effort. You could do worse than to play them in a row on Remembrance Day.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Play baseball with me, and you'll be famous too

So, I was going through an old photo album yesterday, so I could Photoshop out the faces of my exes - but seriously - and I came across this picture from my days working on Conan O'Brien; this picture was a match-up in Central Park between baseball teams Conan and Letterman. Conan showed up, Letterman didn't show up.

And for the record: despite buying a new baseball glove and an official Conan hat and shirt, I never did get so much as to first base with the team (or even to left field, for that matter).

Instead, I got to sit on the bench with the very athletic Andy Richter, who you can see front and centre of the photo; and, as it turns out, with Sarah Silverman (to the immediate right on the picture).

Silverman had also brought her baseball glove to the game, and also wasn't allowed to play. Honestly: when will the uptight, protestant, middle-class, white Canadian boy and the Jewish American princess finally get their moment in the sun?

I recall that after the game, I shared a cab with Silverman, only having a very vague idea that she was even on Saturday Night Live as (kiss of death) a "featured player;" in fact, Ellen Cleghorne, who was also on SNL at the time, showed up at the game with her team of Doberman dogs, and got waaaaay more notoriety.

So, the point is: having big Dobermans might get you a minute of glory, but sitting on the bench and sharing a cab with Kenton Larsen will make you famous.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Hey, banks are broke, but they're also cool!

Is it any wonder that all of the Wall Street investment firms are going broke? They're spending all of their money on cool billboards like this one (those are dummies, not real workers: just like the brokers on Wall Street! Am I right, people?).

Another nifty out-of-home treatment that has not escaped the attention of one Niko Bellic...

No, there aren't any interesting outdoor ad treatments in Winnipeg

Here's a promotional "blimp" for the relatively new FOX TV show "Fringe," which I saw being led through the crowd at the Major League Baseball All-Star Parade in New York last summer.

This is a great example of a cheap and effective outdoor treatment; this wouldn't have cost very much, and is a million times more noticeable than the standard outdoor poster (as our friend in the foreground is proving).

All you need:

1. a product you'd like to sell or promote
2. a balloon
3. paint
4. string
5. a guy in a pink shirt and tie to lead it around.


No, there aren't any MLCC guidelines in New York

With Winnipeg having among the most confusing and poorly enforced bar and alcohol regulations in North America, and me trying to do my best to teach 'em to first-year Creative Communications students last week, here's a little reminder that Manitoba's guidelines do not extend to New York: a picture I recently took of the famous Continental bar in the East Village.

Check out the sign under the marquee: yep, that's five shots of anything for $10. Here's to hoping the woman on the ladder isn't changing "anything" to "nothing."

By the way, it's true that the MLCC regulations allow for advertising "Happy Hour," while the CRTC regulations do not allow it. I need a drink.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Cosby KOs Dylan in battle of the living legends

Last weekend, two living legends played Winnipeg: Bill Cosby and Bob Dylan.

Who was better? Would you believe me if I told you that the answer rhymes with schmill schmosby?

This may be surprising, because in recent years, Dylan's mystique has only grown: releasing three awesome CDs in a row this late in the game after such a long career of peaks and troughs is probably unprecedented.

And those first 10 albums or so are one of the longest and most creative winning-streaks in musical history. As it says in the Rolling Stone Record Guide: "Look upon his works, ye mighty, and despair."

Having seen Dylan before - about 10 years ago and in the intimate confines of the Centennial Concert Hall - I knew pretty much what to expect, and that's what I got: he cranked out some hits, misses, and songs from his last (and great) album of new material, Modern Times.

Last time I saw Dylan, he performed with SNL guitarist G.E. Smith, who seemed responsible for absolutely everything that happened onstage, including physically propping up Dylan from time to time. No kidding: Dylan's feet never moved once during the show, but his upper body was all over the stage.

At the end of the show, one of my relatives made a statement that haunts her to this very day: "He didn't play Blowin' in the Wind properly." As anyone familiar with Dylan knows, beggars can't be choosers. You're lucky to even get Blowin' in the Wind at a Dylan show; and who's to say that he's not playing it properly? After all, the guy did write the song.

Back then, he even managed some between-song banter. He said, "You're a good crowd," and "It's a pleasure to be playing in Neil Young's hometown. It really is." The guy was a geyser of conversation that night - I geyser, I say!

So, it was in the spirit of not expecting too much that I attended Dylan's concert at MTS Centre. There were improvements over the last time I saw him: a spotlight on the man's face, his voice higher in the mix, the occasional 'lil dance that he'd do when he emerged from behind his keyboard, a band dressed in natty attire, and a set list that opened with Rainy Day Women #12 & 35, and the Times They Are A-Changin'.

The twist was that Dylan's band played all of the songs, including the classics, as though they were Doo-wop hits of the fifties; nothing wrong with that, but it's a bit off-putting to hear Like A Rolling Stone played by way of Dion and the Belmonts.

This time, Dylan said nothing to the crowd, and his band remained mostly anonymous and workmanlike throughout the night. Nothing terrible happened, but nothing too notable either. And, it's worth pointing out, that I've never seen more people leaving their seats on the floor to buy beer throughout a show in my life. Either Dylan wasn't connecting, no one has an attention span anymore, or both.

Bill Cosby is a very funny fellow - right

And Cosby? Many of his comedy albums are now out of print; even those in print have aged pretty badly. By today's standards, it's shocking to listen to his 1968 breakthrough album "To Russell, my brother whom I slept with;" not because it's not "funny" by today's standards, but because the comedy is so gentle, and Cosby goes so long without so much as getting a giggle.

Listening to 1963's "Bill Cosby is a Very Funny Fellow - Right" recently, I was overcome with that I-guess-you-had-to-be-there feeling, which is one of the last things you want people to think when they see or hear a recording of your stand-up.

And then there's the annual event in which I bring up the name Bill Cosby in comedy writing class, and I get at least one student who says, "Isn't that the guy who used to sell JELL-O and Coke and star on TV as that doctor who was married to that lawyer, but never seemed to work, and said "Theo" a lot?" I'm paraphrasing.

So, it was to my utter surprise that Cosby came out, far and away, as a better showman than the infamous Bob Dylan.

Sauntering out onto the stage without an introduction, Cosby sat down, blew his nose (he was setting up a later joke), and began talking.

The crowd was instantly mesmerized. Having performed stand-up a zillion times, and knowing how frigging hard it can be to get and hold an audience's attention, I couldn't help but stare at the faces of the folks sitting around me, back to Cosby, back to the folks, and wonder, "What the hell is this guy's secret?"

Live, Cosby starts out remarkably slow and deliberate. He tells a story about a girl's coming of age, and how all the women around her help her out when she "becomes a woman" as compared to the lack of respect a guy gets when he "becomes a man." Funny and knowing stuff.

Perhaps Cosby's best bit of the night is a story about how, as a young man, he hears his grandfather use the expression "out of wedlock," and wonders what it means. He goes home and asks his mother, who instantly assumes that he's gotten a girl pregnant. She orders him to his room, and sends his father up to interrogate him.

Cosby's dad: Here's what's going to happen: we're going to look after the baby, OK?

Cosby: Uh, OK?

Cosby's dad: Where's the baby?

Cosby: What baby?

As any good comedian does with his or her material, Cosby wrung out every last nuance of the scenario's comic possibilities.

At this point, Cosby asked the audience, "What time is it?" He'd already done over an hour. Coming from most performers, this would mean that the show was almost at an end. After asking, Cosby did another full hour, ending with his classic dentist bit.

As Jerry Seinfeld points out in the documentary Comedian, doing comedy for this long is a huge, physical effort. And Cosby went over two hours on a night when he did two shows in a row. Mind-blowing, especially for a 70-year-old man. Hell, I do 15 minutes of stand-up, and I'm ready for a lie down.

As Cosby's dentist bit picked up steam, I saw tears of laughter running down the faces of the grown men and women around me. Here, the setups and punches came quicker, until Cosby said good night, walked off the stage to a standing ovation, and didn't return for an encore.

Leaving Dylan, I felt satisfied that I'd seen a living legend. Leaving Cosby, I felt satisfied that I'd seen one of the greatest comics of all time in his prime.

Oh, the Times They Are A-Changin'.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Help me, Obi-Wan Blitzer, you're my only hope

I met CNN's own Wolf Blitzer at the Winnipeg Press Club a few years ago.

He was nice enough to agree to a last-minute meeting with our students at Red River College's Creative Communications program; he spoke for half an hour or so and very patiently answered everyone's questions. Yay, Wolf.

Of course, all I can remember from the event was that he said he likes it in Winnipeg, he smells better than you'd think, and he has a very expensive haircut, which you don't really get to appreciate unless you see the guy in person...

Until now!

Last night, CNN unveiled its new "hologram" technology, which - before our very eyes - instantly revealed the possible future of TV, videogames, elections, and (probably) pornography.

Check it out:

Please tell me that the blue glow around the hologram is a tribute to Carrie Fisher in Star Wars.

So, to summarize, the big stories of last night, as I rank them:

1. The first African American president elected in U.S. history;

2. We may be able to finally appreciate Wolf Blitzer's expensive haircut in the privacy of our own homes;

3. NBC shows a guy holding a sign saying "Bush, you're fired" for a very long time.

Has life just got a whole lot better or what?