Throwback Thursday: Wayne’s World 2 (1993)

The idea of not just one, but two movies coming out of a Saturday Night Live skit may seem like an impossible task. How does a writer take characters who are only seen for a few minutes on television and create a full-length film narrative?

It was done successfully in Wayne’s World (1992) and its sequel, Wayne’s World 2 (1993). Wayne Campbell (Mike Myers) and Garth Algar (Dana Carvey) are dealing with two major issues at the same time. They are trying to put on a rock concert. While the concert is in limbo, Wayne’s rockstar girlfriend, Cassandra Wong (Tia Carrere) has caught the eye of a record executive, Bobby Cahn (Christopher Walken). Bobby wants more than a professional relationship with Cassandra.

Like its predecessor, it is incredibly funny and remains true to its small screen roots. The references may be over the head of someone who was either too young or not yet born, but that can be overcome. I just get a kick out of watching a movie that is almost 30 years old and still makes me laugh.

My favorite part is the end scene which is essentially a throwback to The Graduate. It’s both true to its source while still being in the world of this narrative.

My only complaint (which is with many movies, both then and now) is that the women are confined to either romantic or sexual roles. While Wayne and Cassandra are dealing with their issues, Garth meets an older woman, Honey Hornee (Kim Basinger). Her name invokes everything the audience needs to know about her.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

Flashback Friday: Inside the Actors Studio (1994 to Present)

Acting, in its basest form, is not a mystery. It is a person pretending to be someone else. But it may appear to the public that an actor who gets to a certain level in their career has an aura about them that the average person doesn’t.

Inside the Actors Studio (1994 to present) was a talk show that initially aired on Bravo before moving to the Ovation network. Originally hosted by the late James Lipton, each episode featured one actor. Focusing on their life and career, it became more than just an opportunity for the performer to talk about their resume. The audience watching on TV got to know that person on a deeper level and the young performers sitting in the auditorium had the opportunity to learn from someone who was once in their shoes.

I remember watching Inside the Actors Studio. It was a fascinating inside look at the act of performing and those who have made a success of it.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

P.S. Saturday Night Live‘s version of this program and Will Ferrell‘s take on Lipton is hilarious.

Domestic Supply of Infants is Not That Hard to Understand

The difference between being seen as breeding stock and a fully-fledged human being with responsibilities, dreams, ambitions, etc comes down to one word: rights.

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito made a very damning and unnerving statement in the body of the leaked draft of the opinion that could potentially overturn Roe V. Wade. Buried in the footnotes is a quote from a 2002 CDC report about adoption within the United States.

“Whereas the domestic supply of infants relinquished at birth or within the first month of life and available to be adopted has become virtually nonexistent.”

I’m going to let NY Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and the late George Carlin take it from here.

What bothers me are two things. The first thing is that it opens the door to a slippery slope. Abortion is low-hanging fruit to these people. What’s next? Losing access to birth control? Taking away the ability to marry for LGBTQ couples and biracial couples? Undoing the 19th amendment and the 14th amendment?

The second thing is that this opinion is based on rulings that are centuries old. I’m not a lawyer, but it seems to me that they are grasping at straws, finding any legal theory (even the archaic ones) that they believe will support their cause.

Unfortunately, there is nothing we can do about SCOTUS judges. Their appointments are for life. But we can vote for Democrats at every level. They are the only ones who are both working for the people of this nation and fighting for the freedoms that we all hold dear.

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Hello, Molly!: A Memoir Book Review

Whoever said women can’t be funny has never seen Molly Shannon perform. This actress, comedienne, and Saturday Night Live alum have been making audiences laugh for more than twenty years.

Her new autobiography, entitled Hello, Molly!: A Memoir, which was co-written with Sean Wilsey, was published last month. Her life was forever changed at the age of four when her mother, younger sister, and cousin were killed in a car crash. Her father was behind the wheel. Raising his surviving daughters as best he could, Molly had a unique childhood that opened the door to her future career as a performer. While becoming a celebrated actor/comedienne, she struggled with the loss of her mother and her complicated relationship with her father.

I loved this book. It is candid, it is funny, and it speaks to the power of belief and rising above tragedy. What hooked me was her ability to deal with grief in a way that was not overpowering or stopped her from living.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

P.S. I cannot end this post without talking about my favorite character of Molly’s, Mary Katherine Gallagher. Mary Katherine was the rare comedic combination of insecure, fearless, and not afraid to be herself. The comedy love child of Lucille Ball and Chris Farley, this character never failed to make me laugh.

Hello, Molly!: A Memoir is available wherever books are sold.

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RIP Betty White

To be the first in anything is a difficult task. This often applies when one is part of an oppressed group or a minority who is lacking in opportunity.

Betty White passed away yesterday. She was less than a month from her 100th birthday.

She was more than a legendary actress and comedienne who entertained generations of audiences. She was a trailblazer who opened the door to future generations of female performers.

My first introduction to Ms. White was watching The Golden Girls. After my paternal grandfather passed away, my sister and I would spend Saturday nights with our grandmother. The Golden Girls was regular viewing for us. It goes without saying back then that many of the jokes were over my head. To this day, I treasure these memories and laugh out loud during reruns (which are available for viewing on Hulu).

It takes a smart performer to play a dumb character. Ms. White was clearly one smart cookie. Rose Nylund is a woman with a big heart who was not the brightest bulb in the box.

When she hosted Saturday Night Live a few years, it was a landmark episode as far as I am concerned. It was not hard to see the throughline between Ms. White’s career and the women who have followed in her footsteps.

May her memory be a blessing and may she continue to make us laugh. Z”L.

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This Will All Be Over Soon: A Memoir Book Review

When one reaches the peak of success in Hollywood, the assumption maybe that the problems this person had when they were not famous disappear. Their life is nothing short of perfection. The truth is that their pre-fame issues remain the same (or may even be magnified) with the harsh spotlight that comes with being in the public eye.

Saturday Night Live‘s Cecily Strong released her new memoir in August. Entitled This Will All Be Over Soon: A Memoir, the book tells her story of losing her beloved cousin, Owen, to cancer and the emotional destruction that Covid-19 has left in its wake. When he passed away in early 2020, Strong was devastated. Her grief was compounded when New York City became the epicenter of the virus a few months later. Needing a break from everything, she left the city, took refuge in a house upstate and began to write.

I like that it is set in a diary format. Strong reveals a personal side of herself that television viewers have not seen of her. She lays her mental health cards on the table, talking about emotions that are private, deep, and a little bit uncomfortable. My problem is that I expected to feel everything that she puts on the page. Unfortunately, I was not, which a dam shame.

Do I recommend it? Not really.

Betty White: First Lady of Television Review

Hollywood is not known for being the most comforting of industries. This is especially true for women of a certain age. Betty White is one of the few actresses who has been able to not only survive, but thrive in this environment.

The 2018 documentary Betty White: First Lady of Television is the story of her career. Ms. White entered showbusiness when television was in its infancy. Since her first appearance seven decades ago, she has become an icon, a groundbreaker and a performer who has entertained multiple generations of fans. Using archival footage and interviews, the viewer is given a glimpse of the real woman behind the beloved character actress.

What I loved about this film is that it shows its subject as she is. There are some biographies that present a slick and polished image of perfection. What you see is what you get. She is a smart, salty, and extremely funny woman who at the age of 99, is as real as she ever was.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

Betty White: First Lady of Television is available for streaming on Netflix.

P.S. The 2018 episode of Saturday Night Live that she hosted is for my money, one of the best in the past few years.

Was the Joke About Israel on SNL Satire or Anti-Semitic?

Satire is a beautiful thing. But it can also cross the line.

During the Weekend Update portion of last weekend’s Saturday Night Live, anchor Michael Che made a joke about Israel. To say that it did not go over well is an understatement.

The question I have to ask, is it satire or antisemitism?

I get that it was a joke. Weekend Update is not your serious local weeknight news. It is supposed to be funny and perhaps bordering on not exactly being 100% politically correct.

That being said, I can’t help but agree that it did have a slightly anti-Semitic undertone. My people have been persecuted and murdered because of the lies that have been told about us.

Unlike other countries (ahem, United States) on which the the rollout of the vaccine programs have been unnecessarily complicated or messy, the Israeli government got their shit together. As of February 4th, US News & World Report put out a story that all Israelis over the age of sixteen were able to get the vaccine. The important word in this headline is all. There was no mention of any specific group that was either pushed to the head of the line or denied access because of their religious or cultural background.

I’ve been a fan of SNL for more than twenty years, this program is usually the highlight of my weekend. I can usually laugh at anything. But this joke, I cannot and will never be able to laugh at.

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