Life in the Slow Lane

July 30, 2008

More from Frank Caliendo

Filed under: Entertainment — pauljlane @ 2:06 pm

When I interviewed Frank Caliendo last week, I began the conversation by noting his recent appearances on several local radio stations and asked him if he gets tired of doing so much press.

“Not really,” he said light-heartedly. “I’m just whoring it out.”

That may not be such a tough sell. Caliendo is perhaps the top impression comic today, with more than 100 characters in his repertoire; he didn’t do too many voices for me, seeing as I work for print media and all.

All in all, though, being jovial seems to be Caliendo’s nature, as opposed to him “being on” all the time. He spent a good part of our talk cracking jokes and otherwise laughing, almost like he actually ENJOYED talking to me (a rare trait among interview subjects).

He said he still enjoys doing his most popular voices such as John Madden, despite the non-stop requests he gets to do them. He also said the president is as fun to perform as he is an obvious target.

“When I started, Will Ferrell was the only one doing the president,” said Caliendo, referring to Ferrell’s “Saturday Night Live” sketches. “I have a pretty decent life. There’s no reason to get mad for someone asking me to do something that so many people like.”

Caliendo, who will appear Friday night at Seneca Niagara Casino and Hotel, said he hasn’t been to this region since a series of college tours he did in the first part of this decade. If you can’t catch his return here, give his TBS series “Frank TV” a shot when its second season starts in mid-October.

Visit here for my Night & Day story about Caliendo.


July 29, 2008

What’s your favorite ’90s guilty pleasure?

Filed under: Music — pauljlane @ 2:25 pm

In going through my basement recently, I unearthed an old container of audio cassettes that I hadn’t seen in more than a decade. Hidden in that case was something that amazed me as much as it embarassed me: A single of Skee-Lo’s “I Wish.”

I can’t believe I did it, but I can remember playing the rap song, rewinding the tape and listening to it again … and again … and again.

That got me thinking about songs from my formative years. For every “Crazy” by Aerosmith, there seemed to be at least three “Cult of Personality” type songs from the likes of Living Colour.

Following are a few of my favorite one-hit wonders and other guilty pleasures from the 1990s. Some of them had musical ability but couldn’t make a big push for Hit No. 2. Others among them, well, got lucky. Please feel free to leave comments with any omissions or other discussion on the subject.

LIVING COLOUR: I actually like many of this group’s songs, and I count its “Vivid” album among the world’s hidden treasures. But really, no one will know their songs except for “Cult of Personality,” which is still played on rock radio and appeared on “Guitar Hero 3.” These guys could really wail, which makes me just a tiny bit sad that we didn’t get more from them. I’d put this song on any top-10 music list from the ’90s.

SKEE-LO: “I Wish” wasn’t even that huge a hit, but its fun and breezy feel gave the song its own certain charm, as did its everyman message of someone who can’t quite obtain what they want. Allow me to be the first one to admit that I still get a bit of a charge from this song; it’s OK, you can admit it, too.

COOLIO: “Fantastic Voyage” was popular for this rapper from his early days, but it was “Gangster’s Paradise” that really put him on the map. As far as rap songs that try to convey a serious point, you can’t do much better than this. And, because I think it’s such a brilliant send-up, here’s Weird Al’s parody, “Amish Paradise.”

VANILLA ICE: OK, so “Ice Ice Baby” is really his claim to fame. But I remember him better for something else: Dancing like a handicapped monkey wearing a frozen diaper to “Ninja Rap” in “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze.” If this doesn’t convey everything that was creepishly wrong with the ’90s, nothing does. Go ninja, go ninja, go!

MC HAMMER: While we’re on the subject of movie soundtracks, I prefer to think of MC Hammer for his “Addams Family” theme song than “U Can’t Touch This” or his other songs. Sure, it was corny, but it fit the movie well. As for the film, it’s perhaps the most underrated movie of the entire decade, as its intelligence and subtle humor are hard to beat.

EXTREME: It’s overindulgent hair band balladry at its utmost, but “More Than Words” is still catchy, pleasing and pretty good.

A TRIBE CALLED QUEST: Another group that I think never got the attention it deserved, this rap conglomarate is best known for the excellent “Scenario,” featuring an early Busta Rhymes. The way this group mixed hip-hop with jazz and soul still hasn’t been matched, as “The Low End Theory” is one of the better end-to-end records I’ve heard. And tell me that glare Redman gives in the upper left corner as he’s chowing down on that piece of chicken isn’t priceless.

HOUSE OF PAIN: Please, like your foot doesn’t still start tapping when you hear this one come on.

July 28, 2008

Removal of Opie and Anthony leave the Edge a bit more dull

Filed under: Entertainment — pauljlane @ 12:26 pm

As I got in the car this morning, I did the same thing I’ve done every morning for some time – tune my car radio to 103.3 The Edge to catch Opie and Anthony.

Imagine my shock – SHOCK – when I instead heard Def Leppard droning away on “Pour Some Sugar on Me.”

I’m not sure which development made me more sour – the lack of O&A or the song – but then my brain began clicking. I recalled an off-hand comment made at the end of an O&A broadcast last week in which they said, “and this may be goodbye, Buffalo.”

I thought it was odd then but dismissed it. Seems they were right.

For reasons not entirely clear, The Edge no longer carries the show from 6-9 a.m. weekdays, instead playing more music. I’d normally be in favor of this, as most morning talk shows lack for entertainment value (I’m looking at you, Janet Snyder), but O&A was refreshingly funny even as the boys suffered daily to avoid further FCC trouble.

O&A were booted from radio several years ago for a bit they did involving people having sex in public places; one couple ended up in a New York City church, which no one took kindly to. They returned after several years to satellite radio then began doing a half-and-half satellite/terrestrial broadcast, with Buffalo among the Citadel-owned stations carrying the duo. The Edge even juggled its lineup to accommodate the move, as the long-standing morning duo of Shredd and Ragan was moved to the 3-7 p.m. slot they still occupy.

It worked out great – two solid shows to get me to and from work. Now this.

The Edge hasn’t yet responded to my request for comment as to why this happened; if they get back to me, I will update the situation on this blog. It could have been a move by Citadel – several other Citadel stations nationwide also switched their O&A status – or it could have been a local decision. Seeing as the ratings were solid (The Edge has long been a top-10 station in the Buffalo market), it seems curious nonetheless.

Perhaps the show was too costly to continue airing, or maybe someone making the decisions just had enough of how O&A pushed the envelope. Either way, a disservice has been done to the public. O&A are perhaps the last great original thing on radio, and their elimination will only serve to push that many more listeners to the satellite airwaves.

Just as we got them back, O&A are gone again.

Their removal from Buffalo isn’t quite Armageddon, but it does leave myself and many other fans in a minor state of hysteria.

Win free movie tickets!

Filed under: Movies — pauljlane @ 10:01 am

You local newspaper is giving away free passes to see “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2” at 7 p.m. Thursday, July 31, at the Walden Galleria Mall.

Being given away are three passes, with each one admitting two people. Note that holding a pass does not guarantee admission due to space constraints.

To enter, e-mail with an e-mail header of “Pants Contest” and include your name, address and phone number (cell phone if applicable). Winners will be drawn at 10 a.m. Wednesday, July 30.

Winners MUST be able to pick up their pass at the Tonawanda News, 435 River Road, North Tonawanda, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday or Thursday; tickets will NOT be mailed out. Employees of the Tonawanda News, Niagara Gazette, Lockport Union-Sun & Journal and their family members are not eligible to participate.

This film sequel stars Amber Tamblyn and America Ferrara and is about a group of young women whose friendship and destiny is partially defined by a magical pair of pants.

July 25, 2008

A glimpse behind the reality curtain on ‘Hell’s Kitchen’

Filed under: Television — pauljlane @ 3:40 pm
Shayna Raichilson-Zadok, a veteran of the television show Hell�s Kitchen, runs her own restaurant in Allentown, called Steel Crazy Cafe by the Bohemian Hostess.

Shayna Raichilson-Zadok, a veteran of the television show Hell�s Kitchen, runs her own restaurant in Allentown, called Steel Crazy Cafe by the Bohemian Hostess.

In speaking over the past few days with Shayna Raichilson-Zadok and Bobby Anderson from “Hell’s Kitchen,” I’ve gained just a teensy hint of what life on the show might have been like.

Shayna told me that the season was filmed over 30 days, with eliminated contestants not being able to contact family members during that time. That was especially tough, she said, because her daughter was just a couple months old at the time.

“It was very difficult, but I tried very hard not to focus on it,” she said.

Both she and Bobby were proud of the way they played the game, saying they didn’t betray any other contestants and played it straight. Shayna, in fact, couldn’t really say anything bad at all about her exit from the show.

“It was one of the nicest eliminations I’ve ever seen,” she said.

Anderson, for his part, has a theory behind his elimination. Seeing as his performance improved with each week – he was among the show’s stronger cooks at the time of his elimination in the final five – so he figures that he was a victim of the show business aspect of the series.

“Gordon (Ramsay) wasn’t going to yell at me much at that point,” he said.

Bobby said he remains in touch with several contestants, having recently talked to runner-up Petrozza and received an invite from winner Christina to visit her and the L.A. restaurant in which she won a chef’s position.

Shayna has a restaurant open in Buffalo, with Bobby working on getting a couple steakhouses up and running. You can read more about their post-show lives here.

July 24, 2008

‘X-Files’ movie looks like iffy proposition

Filed under: Movies — pauljlane @ 3:52 pm

As a freshman in college, my floormates on the 16th floor of Syracuse University’s Lawrinson Hall and I would gather around the lobby TV set every Sunday night for our ritual.

First was “The Simpsons” and then “King of the Hill,” followed by the flavor of the moment, “The X-Files.” I’d never seen the Fox series until I entered college, but I was hooked from my first sight, and my viewing habit of seeing Scully and Mulder continued for several years.

I gave up on the show in its final few years, but I loved the first “X-Files” movie and admit being intrigued when I heard earlier this year that a new movie based on the show was coming out this summer. Now that the movie is about to be released, I am as much apprehensive as I am excited.

Is there any reason to revisit the past? Can Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny recapture the magic that made them TV’s most memorable duo since the British Bulldogs?

The show’s legacy is undeniable. Even now, six years after it signed off, its theme song is still synonymous with the heebie-jeebies, and its DVDs remain popular sellers (not to mention the parody done on “The Simpsons” remaining one of that show’s funniest episodes of all-time).

For the movie to have any sort of impact, “The X-Files: I Want to Believe” needs to blow people out of the water with its impact. I haven’t seen it, but I’d like to believe it will do so.

Early reviews are mixed, but that won’t stop me from seeing it if I get the chance (we don’t get to the movies as often as we’d like, which is understandable with cute little Penny being at home every night for us to enjoy). I hope it’s as good as it could be, but my gut tells me the world is in for a big bout of mediocrity.


This review is courtesy The Associated Press.

The makers of the new “X-Files” movie have done themselves a disservice in coming up with the elongated title, “The X-Files: I Want to Believe.” Really, it just invites a whole bunch of bad jokes which, unfortunately, are justified.
It’s easy to imagine how they might go: I want to believe another “X-Files” movie is necessary, 10 years after the first one came out and six years after the pioneering sci-fi series went off the air. I want to believe it’s worth my time and money, even if I wasn’t a fervent devotee of the TV show. And I want to believe that Mulder and Scully still have the same chemistry they once did — a big reason the series developed a cult fan base.
Well, David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson do slip comfortably back into the roles that made them superstars in the 1990s, but the movie itself from director and “X-Files” series creator Chris Carter never feels like anything more than an extended episode. It lacks the complexity and scope required to rise to a theatrical level; it doesn’t challenge us in any new or exciting ways. The big mystery? Just a rehashed urban legend.
In deference to the show’s many secrets and twists, we won’t give anything away here. We’ll just say the plot involves a missing persons case, severed body parts and some creepy hunts and chases through the snow.
In writing the script, Carter and longtime collaborator Frank Spotnitz have come up with a stand-alone story, one that doesn’t require expertise in “X-Files” minutiae to follow, although they’ve also left some nuggets for loyal fans along the way. The title itself is one of them, sorta: It’s the phrase on a poster that hung in Fox Mulder’s office.
These days, the former FBI agent spends all his time hiding in his office at home, clipping articles about the same kinds of unexplained phenomena he used to investigate and obsessing, still. Meanwhile, the no-nonsense Dana Scully, the doctor he was paired with, is practicing at a hospital. (The appropriately named Our Lady of Sorrows.) But when FBI agents Whitney (a severely thin Amanda Peet) and Drummy (rapper Alvin “Xzibit” Joiner) approach her about finding Mulder to help them track down a missing colleague, she gets dragged back into the fray, too. Billy Connolly co-stars as a fallen priest who may or may not be experiencing psychic visions; he and Anderson, as the ever-doubtful Scully, have a couple of intense exchanges.
But you immediately know it’s of no use when Scully says to Mulder: “I’m done chasing monsters in the dark.” And that’s one of the few compelling parts of “I Want to Believe” — the fact that these two are once more searching for answers, together, bickering and bantering along the way. Duchovny can still whip out a wicked one-liner, and his character’s dark humor is crucial when things threaten to turn too self-serious. Anderson still brings grace and gravitas as his straight-laced foil.
Their work on “The X-Files” turns out to have been the best of both actors’ careers — though Duchovny was great in the little-seen satire “The TV Set,” and won a Golden Globe this year for Californication — and it is indeed a pleasure to see them team up again. Too bad Carter and Co. couldn’t come up with a feature-length film that rises to the occasion. The definitive “X-Files” movie may not be out there after all.
“The X-Files: I Want to Believe,” a 20th Century Fox release, is rated PG-13 for violent and disturbing content and thematic material. Running time: 104 minutes. Two stars out of four.

‘Step Brothers’ is stupid fun

Filed under: Movies — pauljlane @ 9:58 am
Fun doesn't get much dumber than Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly in "Step Brothers."

Fun doesn't get much dumber than Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly in "Step Brothers."

We went to see “Step Brothers” last night, the new Will Ferrell comedy where he and John C. Reilly become relation after their parents get married.
Boy, was it stupid.
And boy, was it funny.
Don’t expect an ounce of intelligence if you go to see this; in fact, your IQ may drop a few points during the roughly 90-minute film.
But some of the stuff that comes out of their mouths (their filthy, filthy mouths) makes you wonder what would happen if such active imaginations could be put to good use.
Both men do excellent jobs portraying 40-year-olds whose refusal to grow up begins to wear on their parents. The bunk bed scene seen in so many commercials is still funny when you watch it play out in full (what are they planning when they preach about “so much more space for activities?”), with plenty of Chewbacca, dinosaur and curse-laced references to keep the laughs coming. Especially in the scenes when they’re in bed at night, Reilly and Ferrell trade barbs that come so funny and fast that you miss two jokes because you’re laughing at the last one (“As soon as your eyes shut, I oughta punch you square in the face” – classic).
Heck, they even manage to get a couple laughs out of opera.
If you want to be stimulated by the movie you see this weekend, avoid “Step Brothers.” If you want to turn your brain on auto-pilot and come up with plenty of R-rated quotes to trade with buddies on Monday, this is a can’t-miss.

And you’ll never be able to think of “white dog poop” again without wanting to vomit.

July 23, 2008

Final music contest code

Filed under: Uncategorized — pauljlane @ 3:50 pm

This week’s code for the “Beauty and the Beast” giveaway is: Dance.

Be sure to visit Certain Songs to get the other code. And check out Artpark’s site for more information on the musical, taking place Aug. 14-24. Remember the drawing is Monday morning, so enter now!

Not sure what I’m talking about. Details are available exclusively in the July 24 print edition of Night & Day, inside your local newspaper.

Late-night switch coming up soon

Filed under: Television — pauljlane @ 10:32 am

Do you remember about 75 years ago when NBC announced that Conan O’Brien would eventually take over for Jay Leno as host of “The Tonight Show?”

Well, eventually is almost here.

O’Brien will secede the “Late Night” chair he’s held since 1993 in the spring to prepare for the switch to 60 minutes sooner. Fellow “Saturday Night Live” alum Jimmy Fallon will take his spot for the 12:30 a.m. show, with O’Brien beginning his 11:30 p.m. duties June 1.

O’Brien has for years been the best part of late-night television, so the cross-country promotion is well-deserved for the former “The Simpsons” writer. But while I am a Letterman fan and find Leno to be a bit dull, he’s won the ratings war with his CBS counterpart for years and remains wildly popular, so one has to wonder why NBC is forcing Leno ot the door (reports are that every other major network wants to sign Leno once he does his last show May 29, but he can’t switch until January 2010 due to contractual obligations).

NBC insists it wants to find room for Leno, but no one could blame him for wanting out. Even if he doesn’t return to television – which is highly unlikely – he still tours North America as a wildly popular stand-up comedian (including a recent sold-out stop in Niagara Falls, Ontario).

The strangest part of the whole thing is that despite Leno’s popularity, the switch could still mean a ratings boost. O’Brien’s quirky humor matches Letterman’s yet appeals to a younger audience, so he could draw some Letterman viewers down the dial to NBC.

Where NBC stands to suffer, though, is at 12:30 a.m. Fallon’s comical moments on ‘SNL’ largely involved him laughing at his own jokes. He is very funny in his stand-up and has his moments on camera, but whether he merits his own show remains to be seen.

That’s where Craig Ferguson comes in. The host of CBS’ 12:30 a.m. show, “The Late Late Show,” is probably the most underrated of all the late-night hosts. His show also draws fewer viewers than NBC, but he stands to pick up viewers who are turned off by Fallon, so that could swing the pendulum toward The Eye.

July 22, 2008

Another missed local celebrity

Filed under: Life — pauljlane @ 3:30 pm

BARRY SMITH: This Kenmore West High School graduate probably never dreamed of living in Russia during his youth in Kenmore. But after winning five Stanley Cup rings as an assistant with Scotty Bowman in Pittsburgh and Detroit, he took a job last summer leading a Russian hockey team in St. Petersburg. He maintains a residence in the WNY area.

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