2008 Emmys Fall Flat

Originally published in the OCCC Pioneer on September 26th, 2008.


On a night when television’s entire purpose is to celebrate itself and its shining stars, one would think they would try to make the program as flawless as possible, but after watching the 2008 Emmys, one can’t be too sure.

The broadcast was packed with technical difficulties and countless moments that just fell flat. But that’s not to say that the winners weren’t deserving. Any award show that recognizes “Mad Men” as the best television drama must be doing something right. It was everything that led up to each award that was atrocious.

The broadcast began with the show’s five reality show star-hosts bantering endlessly in an incredibly boring and unfunny fashion. Having people who represent the worst in television host something that supposedly celebrates its best just doesn’t make sense. It would be like if Uwe Boll hosted the Oscars.

But the real low point was when crooner Josh Groban sang a medley of famous TV theme songs, and butchered nearly all of them. The world never needed to hear the theme song from “Baywatch” ever again, let alone be reminded it had words, and the addition of dancing show girls during “M.A.S.H’s” theme “Suicide Is Painless” just seemed tasteless.

But the Emmys are not the only award show to have had problems like this. Glaring flaws constantly bring down nearly every major one. And it’s all made worse by the fact that results appear online almost immediately, giving audiences almost no reason to watch.

Award show producers need to think long and hard about the way they do things and make some serious changes. The point of award shows is to showcase and celebrate excellence, yet producers seem intent on doing so with complete mediocrity.

If award shows continue this downhill slide, we’ll all just be turning to Google the next morning in lieu of watching the broadcast.

"Bury the Gold, Eli" Review

Originally published in the OCCC Pioneer on September 19th, 2008.

When the person responsible for writing and directing a movie openly admits he isn’t a filmmaker and had no idea what he was doing when making his film, it usually isn’t a good sign. But in the case of local filmmaker Mickey Reece and his second film, “Bury the Gold, Eli,” it didn’t wind-up mattering in the slightest, even if it was obviously true.

Audiences may be familiar with Reece from his one-man band El Paso Hot Button.

“Bury the Gold, Eli” can’t really be called a good film, but it’s certainly entertaining. It’s poorly shot, poorly acted and the story is as thin and cliché as possible, but it never ceases to be enjoyable.

The film begins with a short trailer for the fake film “The Michael J. Fox Story,” in which Reece and company humorously and mildly offensively show what it would be like if Michael J. Fox tried to make “Back to the Future 4” while dealing with Parkinson’s.

“Bury the Gold, Eli” is a western that tells the story of a man, Eli, seeking to avenge his father’s death by killing his father’s murderer, the infamous Jesse James, and find his father’s buried treasure. Along the way Eli befriends a talkative Mexican who adds a lot of humor to the film.

Most of the film looks to have been shot in pastures and farms outside of Oklahoma City, but some viewers may recognize the film’s saloon as local concert venue The Conservatory.

The film ends on a cliffhanger and sets up Reece’s next film, “Get That Mexican.”

Both “Bury the Gold, Eli” and Reece’s first film, “Le Corndog Du Desespoir,” can be seen as part of the Vacant Era Film Festival from Oct. 2 through 5 at the Sooner Theater in Norman

Mitch Hedberg "Do You Believe In Gosh?" Review

Originally published in the OCCC Pioneer on September 12th, 2008.

It’s not often that a comedy album can make listeners both laugh and cry, but it’s very possible that comedian Mitch Hedberg’s posthumous release will have that effect.

“Do You Believe in Gosh?” was recorded in January of 2005 in Ontario, Canada. A mere two months later, Hedberg died of a heroin overdose. He was only 37.

Since his death, Hedberg has become an icon in the comedy world. Despite his relatively short career, he is sure to be remembered among comedy greats like Carlin, Hicks and Pryor.

Thankfully, the drugs that took Hedberg’s life had no effect on this set. It’s clear that Hedberg is in the middle of refining and perfecting this material. While still hilarious, this isn’t the well-oiled machine that was featured on Hedberg’s first two albums. At times, he struggles to find his rhythm and the jokes suffer.

Those familiar with the material on Hedberg’s previous two albums will feel right at home with the jokes on “Do You Believe In Gosh?” It’s more of the same absurd one-liners and hypothetical questions that Hedberg is known for.

Texas toast, eating cantaloupe, Smucker’s jellyfish and kids in Venice having “canal-smarts” are just a few of the many topics covered on the album.

At one point, Hedberg explains that he didn’t get into comedy because he was funny, but because he was just “really good at holding ice cream cones.” He later says that comedy is part of his “get-rich-really-slow scheme” and that it’s working well.

Though none of these jokes appear on either of his previous albums, much of the material may not be completely new to Hedberg devotees. A lot of it was featured on the “Live in Chicago” bootleg that has been circulating around the Internet and was performed on Hedberg’s last Letter-man appearance.

It’s almost impossible to listen to the album and not be reminded of Hedberg’s untimely death. With every bit of laughter comes a little sadness that he’s gone.

According to Hedberg’s widow, Lynn Shawcroft, this album contains the last of Hedberg’s material to be released.

“Do You Believe In Gosh?” is not only a hilarious album, but it also gives listeners a deeper look into Hedberg’s joke-writing process and where his act was right before his death.

Originally published in the OCCC Pioneer on September 12th, 2008.

Earlier this year, Oklahoma City band The Uglysuit was signed to Touch and Go Records’ imprint, Quarterstick. Since then, their single “Chicago” has littered music blogs and a significant amount of hype has been built up around the band. While on the surface this appears to be great news for the Oklahoma music scene, but it seems the band’s success is mostly undeserved.

If there is one word that describes The Uglysuit’s self-titled debut, it’s boring. Painfully so, as the album’s nine tracks all blend together to form an unremarkable, uninteresting and forgettable mess.

The reverb-heavy ambient pop leans far too much towards the ambient side of things and winds up droning on aimlessly. The single, “Chicago,” is catchy enough on its own, but when placed within the context of the album, it loses much of its steam.

The band is clearly able to write a solid pop song, but they just don’t seem to be focused on doing so. Instead, they seem to be focused on long, meandering instrumental passages that never go anywhere.

For much of the album, lead vocalist Israel Hind-man seems half-asleep, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if it were the band’s music that put him in that state.

As uninteresting as most of these songs are, the band members themselves sound just as uninterested to be playing them. They seem to carry a very nonchalant “yup, these are our songs, but we don’t really care” attitude through most of the disc’s runtime.

It’s not until the second to last song, “Happy Yellow Rainbow,” that the band achieves anything noteworthy. The second half of this track is noisy, epic and stands out as the best moment on the record. It’s a shame that the band did not spend more time working out that side of their sound.

If you’re looking for a solid example of Oklahoma music success, skip The Ugly-suit’s debut and check out Evangelical’s “The Evening Descends” instead.