Monthly Archives: March 2009

The Only Julie Brown That Matters Anymore

I started writing this post a good while ago.  It’s taken me a bit longer than usual to pare down what it is that I love about today’s great thing.  There’s just way too much enthusiasm on my part.  Plus, there’s scads of Youtubery on the subject available on-line and I was just so happy to take those trips down memory lane.  I wish I could post all the clips and interviews I watched/read.  To say that she influenced  my own comic sensibility is a massive understatement.  Today’s great great great thing is songwriter, comedian, actress,  MTV personality, and object of my comedy obsession for the greater part of my pre-teen years.

77.  Julie Brown

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Gloriously Ludicrous

Though she pops up in almost every medium of comedy culture with her film appearances, cult classic television shows, cartoon voice work, parody songs, and recent screenwriting of the Disney hit “Camp Rock”, it was really the MTV show “Just Say Julie” that sparked my love of Julie Brown.  It was around this time (1989) that MTV first started creating original programming.  Now, I hate most of that junk today.  I resent the fact that there are even more reality stars out there, like the rich brats from “The Hills”, that I can’t identify in magazines–making me more and more disconnected with youth culture with each ensuing spin-off.  But, at least JSJ played three music videos during every show.  Hilarious as her interludes were, it was still all about pop-culture and the music.   Crazy that, MTV focusing on music videos.  In fact, that was one of the only demands that MTV put on the creative team of JSJ–play three videos…ANY three–even if they were just so she could skewer them (common targets were Sheena Easton, Madonna, and Debbie Gibson.  Otherwise, as Julie Brown professes, they had very little regulation or supervision.  That must be why the show was so awesome.  She was ripping on overblown popstars and inserting herself into their videos via the magic of green-screen  way before Beavis and Butthead were first doodled onto an animation cell.
It’s worth noting at this point that Julie Brown was one of TWO Julie Browns employed by MTV at the time.  here’s the other one.

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Totally cashing in on name-fame...

The other was some chick from London that was strictly a VJ and host of MTV’s dance program “Club MTV”.  She used to say ‘wubba wubba wubba’ a lot.  (Who knows?).  THAT Julie Brown called herself “downtown” Julie Brown (again, who knows?  Actually, I can think of a filthy joke to insert here but I’m battling that impulse.)  Anyway,  OUR Julie Brown, the funny American, one quickly dubbed her “The Evil Julie Brown”.  You know…so we could tell them apart.  Always helpful, our Julie.

My elementary school bestie, Ansley, and I taped all the episodes and would practically watch them on a continuous loop.  It’s the first program that I learned to memorize and quote bits from (“Arrested Development” and “30 Rock” provide that fodder nowadays–which is awful because not a lot of Brits watch those shows and I’m often left to chuckle at my own references by my lonesome.)  It’s a difficult program to describe so I’ll let this IMDB reader do that work for me:

“Rosaliez” says:

This is a gem, an underrated classic.The wardrobe looked like it was designed by Betsey Johnson on a binge; yes, Julie was kooky. And that was all played to the hilt. But that’s what made the show work, because instead of fluff and nonsense you got satire and commentary with no apologies. This show was not afraid to be politically incorrect before it was even fashionable. Popular videos were interspersed with Julie’s unbiased opinions, often putting her employer MTV at odds with the outraged artists. After a Sheena Easton video, Julie suggested that maybe we should all sleep with Prince so he could write hit songs for us as well. Other favorite targets were “Whine-y” Houston and Tawny Kataen (in her role as wife-at-the-time of David Coverdale). The running joke was her delusion of Jon Bon Jovi as her fiancee. I would love to see a version of this series for a new generation. Can you imagine how she would skewer the Boy Bands and artists such as Britney Spears, etc.? Shows like “Ally McBeal” seem contrived as they strain to be offbeat, quirky and smart. This show just is.

I’ll just add to that little review that the show never actually seemed mean spirited despite her biting sarcasm.  Perhaps because she clearly didn’t take herself very seriously.  She played the character of valley girl almost in the same way that Steven Colbert plays right-wing blowhard on “The Colbert Report”.  The show also has a serious camp sensibility.  She’s definitely playing to the right audience in that regard.  It’s usually the queers that truly appreciate funny women.  In fact, her comedy origins start at the gay clubs in Los Angeles and she still participates in loads of pride celebrations and similar events in the area.

It’s been difficult to select a clip that I think fairly represents the humour on the show.   But, give this clip a try.  In it, Julie takes her show to the streets of Los Angeles in her quest to prove once and for all that blondes are dumb:

Did that clip please you?  If so, there’s tons more on youtube and for sale on Julie Brown’s website (which can be found here:  Julie Brown –she maintains a very funny blog there as well).

Julie Brown is a native of Van Nuys, California but really kicked off her comedy career in San Francisco–like so many of my favorite comics–Ellen DeGeneres and Paula Poundstone inlcuded.  Though she plays the quintessential valley girl, you can see that she’s much smarter and self-effacing than that prototype.  She’s also got great taste in comedy.  Her own personal heroes include Lily Tomlin (who actually helped her to get started in the biz) and Catherine O’Hara.

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I like 'em cute and funny

Her parody songs, while perhaps not charting as high as some of Weird Al’s are also terrific.  Two of my favorites include “I Like ‘Em Big and Stupid” and “Homecoming Queen’s Got a Gun”.  Rather than a direct parody of a particular song, most of Julie Brown’s songs are satires of the times or of certain musical styles.  Homecoming Queen is a pitch perfect send-up of those ‘tragedy songs’ of the late fifties and early sixties–like “He’s a Rebel” for example. The song was recently updated– skewering Sarah Palin during the election– as ‘The Ex-Beauty Queen’s Got A Gun”.  It too, is hilarious and it’s refreshing to know that Julie’s still got the sarcastic valley-girl commentary down pat.  Here’s a link to that clip on youtube:  Sarah Palin Dig.  But first,  check out the original here:

In my feverishly obessive Internet root-around for interesting info about Julie brown, I came across this great interview with her at retrojunk.com:  recent interview

I couldn’t even remember that she was a guest star on “Murphy Brown” once.  (The show had a recurring gag that revolved around poor Murphy’s bad luck with secretaries–there was a new bumbling idiot/weirdo every week).  In the last season they had a parade of celebs as the secretaries.  I’m going to chalk this lack of recall up to the fact that I kinda missed out on “Murphy Brown’s” final season as I was at college that year–spending my time not getting drunk and not hanging out at cool parties.

Ahhhh, Julie Brown…it’s been a fantastic week catching up on so many of your clips on youtube.

I wish I had buckets of money.  I would totally organize a comedy-palooza that would highlight America’s best parody songwriters.  The line-up would include:  Julie Brown, Weird Al (who was a guest on JSJ once), They Might Be Giants, Flight Of The Concords, and Julie Goldman.  They would tour major American cities as well as the standard Canadian ones and a few venues in the UK.  Anyone want to set that up?

Oh, and who is Julie Goldman, you might ask? Your answer is here:

Anyway, I would totally pay up to 50 US dollars to see that ticket.

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Filed under Characters, comedy, Music, People, TV

Arms and the Woman

Every movie nerd worth his or her salted popcorn will be aware that there is a new Terminator film on the horizon–Terminator Salvation starring growly Bat-actor, Christian Bale (and, incidentally,  hilarious Everybody Hates Chris actor Terry Crews). Unlike the last installment, T3, it might actually have potential–we’ll see.  I don’t know what to feel about director McG yet.  On one hand, I loved his revamp of Charlie’s Angels, it was a good blend of the goofy and good-natured.  On the other hand, he almost ruined Spaced for everyone.  But, that’s not really what I want to talk about. Today’s entry is a chance to celebrate one of the most bad-ass characters in Sci Fi.  Yes, it’s a blog chapter dedicated to the biggest guns in the whole Terminator franchise:

76. Linda Hamilton in T2

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Rock. Hard.

We’re introduced to Hamilton’s Sarah Connor in the first film.  In that introductory chapter, she’s a 19 year old college student who waits tables part time.  While her tenacity and courage is made apparent throughout, she’s hardly the strong-jawed amazon that we catch up with in the second film.

She goes from this:

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Eek, hold me...

To this:

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Boo-Yah!

Along with Angela Basset in What’s Love Got To Do With It and possibly Demi Moore in G.I.Jane, Linda Hamilton’s physique in this film is hands down one of the most excellent and widely admired displays of sculpted women in film.  In fact, in doing a bit of research for this entry, I uncovered scads of websites offering women tips on how to ‘get Linda Hamilton’s arms’.  Almost 20 years later!  It’s great that the impact has been soooo very lasting.  I implore thee to click here for an in-depth look at the cultural phenomenon of those biceps and how they affected the way women work out Hamilton’s Guns

Her physique in this film is the result of a strict diet and a cruel work-out regime designed by ex- Israeli commando Uzi Gal.  Chin-ups, after all, are harder than they look.  In the end, her super-sculpted arms may have cost her future acting jobs–though she had shed much of the bulk, audiences couldn’t separate her from that lasting and impressive impression that she made as Sarah Connor in T2.    What a shame.  Strong women should never have to apologize for their health and fortitude…I mean that literally.  They should never have to apologize.  They could pound you into sand.

I, of course, also mean that figuratively.  Why should women look like frail emaciated bobbleheads?  Sometimes it’s OK to actually LOOK like and not just BE the stronger sex.

Though she turned down the chance to work on T3, she will be reprising her role (at least in voiceover form) for the next one, Terminator Salvation.  To celebrate, let’s watch one of my favorite Sarah Connor scenes from T2.  In a scene that’s incredibly satisfying to watch,  she exacts revenge on her sadistic guards (one of them licked her face when she was strapped down–gross!) and enacts a daring escape.  She is a savage badass.

Here’s a quick rundown of some of my favorite aspects from this moment in the film:

1.  Facelicker guy that looks like fat Carey Elwes getting an ass-kicking (inconceivable!)

2.  both terminators running in a very girlish fashion (fey-bots!)

3.  Arnie pushing that lady by the face (pushy!)

4.  Sarah Connor’s tank top (so, um…do you work out?)

5.  Sarah Connor delivering a palm-heel strike to the face (karate!)

6.  breaking off the key in the door (good idea!)

7.  reaction shot when elevator opens (nightmare!)

8.  that guard that’s briefly in a shot with a super seedy village people mustache (unseemly!)

Now, unfortunately, the embedding function of this vid has been disabled, so alls I can do is give you the link.  Just click here and enjoy:

Sarah’s Escape

Now, get on those bowflexes girls.  We’ve got robots to fight!

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Have Pants, Will Travel

Wikipedia classifies cargo pants as ‘battledress’.  That’s right, ‘battledress’.  A garment that a warrior might wear in combat.  That in itself is enough to give the garment supremacy in my wardrobe.   For their honourable service to my legs, I decree today’s great thing to be:

75.  Cargo Pants


They are truly the slacks of pedestrian superheroes.  No need for a utility belt when you’re wearing these bad boys.  You can be your own Swiss Army knife.  But, the reasons why these bottoms are tops are manifold.

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God's pants

I currently only own a couple of pairs of cargo pants.  A nice olive green pair that I got on-sale at J.Crew a few years ago and a Capri length stone-coloured pair.  This needs to be rectified.  I should have at least four pairs.  I like the type that feel like brushed cotton and have ample pocket-space.    Pockets are awesome.  I don’t even like buying the pants that have the back pockets buttoned up.  What’s the point?

Keep off my pockets, you dastardly button!

Is there something aesthetic that I’m missing?  Who wants to sit on buttons?  And Kangaroos sneakers–you know, the ones with the zip pockets on the side?  Well, they were totally under-appreciated.  The more fashionable versions of cargos, with teeny impenetrable pockets that couldn’t store a paper-clip, do me no good. My love for cargos is far more than pure physical attraction.  My clothing and shoe choices are often dictated by my more utilitarian leanings.  I am a lesbian, after all.

I don’t carry a purse as, like earrings, they look weird on me–like work boots on a Republican weird.  When I go to work, I carry a Manhattan Portage messenger bag.  This suits me just fine.  The only problem is that I don’t have anything that feels right  if I’m just going out in the evening or if I don’t feel like slinging my messenger bag on me for the day.  That’s why my favorite ensemble is cargo pants, hoody, and jacket.  With all that storage capacity it feels like I was dressed by Ikea.

Another reason why cargo pants have my undying loyalty and affection is that they are the perfect way to smuggle snacks into movie theatres.

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Right this way, my multi-pocketed patron...

Even if you’re pants are so stuffed with Junior Mints and water bottles that your once straight-legged cargos now look like riding pants, the usher is unlikely to give you a pat down.

A final reason that I am enamored with cargo pants is that they look good with most of the shoes that I own.  You can totally rock any kind of sneaker and most boots with them.  This puts way less pressure on my sensibilities in the A.M.

Ten things you could find in my cargo pants at any given time:

1.  Cell phone

2.  Wallet

3.  Mp3 player.  I used to have a massive one (about the size of an old Sony Walkman tape player–Napolean Dynamite-like).  It would still fit into one of my pockets.

4.  Chapstick.  If you’ve got lipstick in your pocket instead, you’re wearing cargo pants wrong.

5.  Gum.

6.  Matches– I don’t smoke but you never know when someone hot might ask you for a light.

7.  Pen–In case I think of something pithy that I need to record.

8.  Lint–By accident

9.  My key chain

10.  Sony PSP–actually this isn’t true.  But if I HAD one it would be.  I so want one.

You and me against the world, cargo pants.  Together, we can do anything!

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Quick, Check This Out Before It Gets Old!

I like this band’s first single, “Sleepyhead”, so much that it fills me with dread.  To love something is to put yourself at risk of terrible loss.  And I’m fearfully anticipating the moment where I realize I have killed this gem of a song  for myself by overplaying it.  The seven week itch, maybe, of obsessive pop-music replay.  Until then, however, I’d like to gleefully celebrate my recent find (thanks Spin magazine!), as today’s great thing.

74. Passion Pit

Like a glorious mash-up of M/A/R/R/S, MGMT, and the sample-heavy Australian outfit The Avalanches, this group gives a blip of a brainwave back into the comatose genre of electronica.

Though their name reminds me of a fruity smoothie, it’s actually old slang for a drive-in movie theatre (because the teens used to use the giant parking lot as a make-out haven).  Here’s the official answer from band leader Michael Angelakos (as collected from the Limewire blog):

I just thought it was hilarious. I was in this American fashion class and for each specific era the teacher would hand out a list of slang terms. Passion Pit was code for drive-in movie theater where people would make out. But really what it meant had little to no impact on me. I just really loved the way it sounded and rolled off the tongue. And, you know, when I started the group it was far less serious than it is now. It sounded like a side-project name.

It’s always interesting how band names come about.  Usually, there’s not a whole lot of attachment, is there?  Isn’t it just a turn of phrase that you think is catchy?  I’ll think of one right now.  The Clockwatchers.  There, that’s my band.  It means nothing but I like the sound of it. Not good enough?  How about The Watchclockers?  I could do this all day. Check out the many band name generators available online.

Three too many for checkers.

Born in  Cambridge Mass, the band  consists of Michael Angelakos (lead vocals/keyboards), Ian Hultquist (keyboards), Ayad Al Adhamy (synth/samples), Jeff Apruzzese (bass) and Nate Donmoyer (drums).  Though it’s a five piece now, it started just with Michael tinkering with some compositions as a very belated Valentines Day present to his beleaguered girlfriend–a musical apology of sorts.  When it got shared around his University campus–leading to a bit of buzz–he recruited the other four musicians so he could play live shows.

Here’s the video for their single “Sleepyhead”.  I’m not crazy about it.  The beardy cube spinning round and round isn’t particularly appealing (you’ll see).  The whole think kind of looks like an ad for Sky HD.  But, at the very least it’s  a way for you to listen to the song.

I think a good electronica/dance music outfit is only as good as its collection of samples and while Angelakos lists The Beatles and The Beach Boys as two of his influences, the sample from this song is from the song “Oro Mo Bhaidin” by County Sligo harpist Mary O’ Hara.  Obscure!

This reminds me of another of my favorite-ever songs “Sleepy Maggie” by Scots-Canuck Ashley MacIssac.

What’s the connection here?  Why all the Gaelic lethargy?  How come so many songs about sleepy Celts?  The answer, my friend, is prolly at the bottom of a bottle of whiskey.

Another reason to join the ranks of Passion Pit fandom is that on their myspace page, under the ‘sounds like’ section, they have a picture of The Jeffersons.  Kooky!

Movin' On Up!

Movin' On Up!

Passionpitmyspace

The EP “Chunk of Change” is out now (featuring super-track “Sleepyhead”).

With an LP of all new material due out in early summer maybe I won’t have to worry too much about the fatigue of overplay.  I wouldn’t want this tender romance between me and Passion Pit to end.  My dreams are that upon the release of their LP, I’ll find ten new reasons to love them.

I think this outfit has a lot of promise.  Let’s hope they don’t disappoint.  I don’t want to break up with them.

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Filed under Music