VJ The Unplugged Adventures of MTV’s First Wave – A Review

VJ cover

My late sister and I were from an early age obsessed with music.  This was in no little part due to our parents who’s tastes ranged quite widely from classical to disco, a family friend who was a studio musician (who played on the ever well known song Wipe Out by the Surfaris) and our paternal grandparents who scoured auction sales every week for antiques and old records.  At one point, my mother had to cull our over four hundred and fifty 45s down to a more manageable number which we had back to our preferred unmanageable size within a year. We loved music.  (I still do.)

When our parents split, my father’s first attempt at “separated parent bribery”  was a brand new Sony Walkman. I promptly went out and purchased five new cassettes and a series of blanks to copy my favorite records onto. I entered a world of solitary musical bliss, fixating primarily on krautrock, Australian pop and electronica.  My sister went the way of albums, hiding in her room drowning out the world with Duran Duran and assorted other pop until years later when she devolved into 70s rock. (Bleck.)

Throughout high school, as our parents were now divorced, we split our time between two homes.  Both had cable but as we lived in Canada, well, small city Canada, we had no access to certain specialty American channels.  We would travel down to a place called “Dolan’s Discotheque” (later “Dolan’s Landing”) at lunches and on weekend and watch what in April 1981 became our visual and aural mecca, MTV. Martha Quinn was my fantasy girlfriend.  My sister like Mark because Alan Hunter was too much like me.  Nina Blackwood was someone we both disliked for no good reason at all.  JJ, well, he was the old guy.  To much like our dad (a blacker version) for comfort.

Years later, in 1984, August to be exact, we sat on the edge of our mothers couch waiting patiently until the Canadian version, a superior version, of music television arrived.  Because of MuchMusic we lost interest in MTV. (Okay, a complete lie, I never lost interest in Martha Quinn, but still, we were constant viewers and the joy that was MTV, the glorious few years where we could engross ourselves for hours at a time in a wide swath of music were, are, never forgotten.)

As a (happy) subscriber of Sirius XM of a certain middle age, I am hooked on a few specific channels.  80’s on 8 is one.  I gleefully listen to what sometimes is embarrassingly bad music from MY decade.  When I heard Alan Hunter announce that there was a new book being released


I was intrigued.  I waited and read reviews and finally picked up a copy a few weeks back.  Expecting a happy go lucky tome of tales of rock star fun and debauchery, I was surprised to find myself actually saddened at the way each of the five first VJs were treated by the corporation that started music TV.  I found in this book fun, humour, poignant tales and sadness.  It was at times uplifting and others crushingly devoid of Martha’s smile.  I expected a throwaway pop song and got the best, meaningful REM ballad I could imagine.

Highly recommended for anyone who wanted their MTV and finds it a mere ghost in their memories.

Lets just hope someone writes a MuchMusic book some day soon.

Music Television just doesn’t exist the way it did anymore (sigh)

A Quick Movie Review – God Help The Girl

I have been a Belle and Sebastian fan for many years now, so when I heard that Stuart Murdoch was putting together his own film, I was both interested and a bit afraid. The CD of music from the movie came out, some new songs, some old, played by the band but sung by both cast and hired hands, and I liked it. The film was released at a very select number of venues in England etc. and reviews ranged from meh to iffy to okay. I was disheartened.

Skip forward in time till a month ago and I was to be in Toronto for two days for MY REAL JOB and I was as usual wondering what to do. The last few times I had been there, I had merely taken terrible take-away to my hotel and ate as I watched television I wouldn’t normally watch. I scoured the comedy club listings. Nada worth seeing. I looked at theatres and again, nothing I wanted to see. Then I happened up in the TIFF Lightbox listings. The movies for the week swung by on the screen and there it was. God Help the Girl:


I was pleased. I purchased a ticket. I went. I enjoyed.


Had I seen this when I was in my teens, my father’s most meagre insistence that I go into a technical field would have been shunted away. I would have moved on and wrote more than I did. I would have focused myself into the arts instead of math and chemistry. I would have not been 47 writing a script, but 17 doing the same.

A glorious eye and ear pleasing cacophony of youthful angst, glee and promise. I enjoyed every sheer moment of it. The actors though young and (apart from one) not that experienced played their parts flawlessly. The music was perfect. The film was amateurish but intentionally so and it suited the youthful feel of the film. Had this been done in Hollywood, it would have been ruined. This is not Palo Alto (another film I recently saw and enjoyed thoroughly) this is Stuart Murdoch giving you a look into the world of the artistic young, breaking free from childhood and moving on into who knows where, but moving as they choose, in the direction that feels right. It is a glorious film.

Five out of five


I just lost a half hour or writing because I got tired of working in the FANCY NEW wordpress editing mode.. it was like typing live via a 300 baud pocket modem, something I did do, back in 1985-8… die die die.

Oh well, in summary, blah blah, a whole lot of words I use must be fake a I need t constantly ADD THEM TO DICTIONARY. I was complaining that I wrote two books on a pair of whims and a whack (a metric whack as I am Canadian) of bad poetry. Now I am working on my OPUS… okay, not a musical opus.. I did actually make two full CDs of bad electronic music between 1999 and 2010 but none of it warranted the term “opus”. I am writing my script to end all scripts. My WWII movie script. The awesome, fun, exciting, no messages (‘crept maybe don’t trust buxom women in German bieregartens!) just plain ol’d shoot em up solve the problem fun and more fun. A metric tonne of fun (cripes I had to type that word TONNE an actual real non-American word, ten times before it suggested “Add to dictionary???”).

I am paying for this site so I now plan to use it. Screw you Zuckerberg (but please don’t delete my account). I will link posts to my FB page but I’m done with it apart from using it to post pics of my kids or my cat or yell at people being dicks (DON’T BREAK WHEATON’S LAW!!)

Oh, also, I was laughing in the previous DELETED post that I was in the grocery store and some smiley old Indian dude’s phone rang and it was the theme to Monsoon House MY FAVORITE MODERN RADIO PLAY!!

So that’s about it. Prepare to be inundated.


Bruce McCulloch – Lets Start A Riot. A review


Bruce McCulloch is my favorite Kid in the Hall and not just because I know a lot (a surprising number) of Dave’s nor due to my past ownership of a terrier.   He is/was my favorite because he came across as a smarmy, hyper funny, uber-intelligent prick when we watched KITH in high school.  I aspired to be like him.  I emulated him. (I can probably blame this decision on my complete and utter lack of sex in high school.  I can probably blame this decision on my two teeth that got broken on my nineteenth birthday when I decided to walk up to two fashion-hecklers at a bar and point out that “at least we don’t look like we just crawled out of the Doc’s” (a local skid bar).  Whap. Down I went. Bouncers descended.  Out the door went the offenders. “Happy Birthday dumbass” (said in Brucio’s voice).

When I saw that he was releasing an autobiography entitled “Let’s Start A Riot” I immediately logged into Amazon and pre-ordered it.  I have of late noted a number of celebiographical books coming out of people that made an impact on my life and pushed it to the top of the list.  John Lydon and Billy Idol will have to wait.  It arrived, early, on a Friday.  I was finished it by the following Wednesday. It was that good that I crammed all of it into my head as quickly as my schedule would allow and I am nothing but the happier for it.

It is a good book.

It chronicles his life from being a kid with a father who drank too much and a mother who tolerated said father for only so long (oddly, just like my life..) to his comedy years on television with KITH till today.  Let’s Start A Riot is full to the outer edges with hilarious, poignant and at times terribly sad stories of this surprising man, husband and father’s life.  I can only whole heartedly encourage you to pick it up, pay for it, and read it.  You will have a hard time putting it down and when it is over you will look upon this comedic genius with a different set of eyes.

Thirty Helens agree:

Five out of Five

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The Murder

It was the perfect crime
It too fair loads of time
A planning trip, could be no slip
To end her life, sublime

A lover, long lost years ago
Of tormenting him, she made a show
Upon his mind, a taloned grip
She really had to go.

A trip was won, cross ocean blue
And he arranged to travel too
Scoped all lengths of crowded ship
Oh days long past she’d rue

Watched from afar, she sunned and drank
Lost all thought of ships that sank
Stumbled, bumbled, dress with rip
Out he came from darkness, rank

Waves were high, the ship flew up
She slipped, saw him, lost her cup
He grabbed her legs and with a flip
She shot down, while screams flew up

Into a stair he slid with stealth
Her death would bring him gold free wealth
The ocean deep they in storms grip
His joy would bring him mental health

But the sea rejected her, not her time to die
A toss of wave, a lick of wind, on lower deck she’d fly
He downed a drink, a fiery nip
She gasped, a tearful cry…

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Not sad!!

Am I a sad person?  No.

 Am I an overwhelmingly happy person?  Not usually.

Does this confuse the fuck out of people?  Yes. 

Why? Because we live in an age of masks.

When I was a kid, riding my bike around town on a Sunday afternoon (desperately trying to find a “friend” to hang out with) I was often confronted by friends of my older family members.  They would say “you look so serious all the time” which made no sense to me.  I cracked (bad) jokes, often somewhat inappropriate to the audience, all the time.  I smiled when people and I interacted.  I laughed at pretty much everything that I found humorous out loud and  unabashedly (which was a wide assortment of things ranging from dogs chasing tails to fat people slipping on ice).   I was always polite and pleasant when I knocked on people’s doors to see if my “friends” could come out and play.  I guess really, truly, the fact that I didn’t walk around with a grin plastered on my face when I wasn’t amused (or sucking up to someone, a parent or a “friend”) made me look “serious” to bystanders.

I have seen people who are always smiling or at least happy.  It’s frigging creepy.  It is off-putting (so to speak).  It is as far as I can tell not because the people are always happy, but because that is their stock expression, their standard way of being.   These are the kind of people that when someone rear-ends them (with a car, not late at night at a party) jump out to see if the other person is okay and then says things like “well, people make mistakes.. that’s why we all have insurance”. Whereas my reaction is to look in rear view mirror, take account that nobody in my car is injured then quickly determine:

a) If the driver is hot, 

b) I can justifiably pound the piss out of the person who hit me (assuming she isn’t hot),

c) Push them off a cliff and drive home assuming I am unscathed.  (Revenge makes other bad situations vanish for a while but is a sweet, sweet, luxurious gift you rarely get to open…

d) (Assuming she is hot) does she need a blanket or a backrub.

Perhaps this is some weird connection to some biblical teaching about turning the other cheek or letting Romans nail you to crosses without fighting back or something equally illogical.  Perhaps these people are in truth seething with vile poisonous flaming fury inside and they are really, really good at hiding it.  Maybe that’s why when someone DOES snap and take out the occupants of a pharmacy with a cheap katana they picked up at the Walmart guns and knives department, their family says “they seemed so, nice, I cannot imagine they did this”. 

Perhaps I am just a little too serious.
But I guarantee you, smile of no smile, I have no plans on buying that katana or pushing your car off of a cliff. 

Especially if you are hot.

Mister Not Sad

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When The Dark Came

It was a cold, bitter wind that blew through the town one late evening mid-December when the phones began to ring.  One, then another, then another and if you stood on the street and cupped your ears, you would hear them in all directions.  When people answered their phones, they could only hear the voices of other citizens doing the same.  Hundreds of “hellos”, hundreds of “who is there”, hundreds of hang-ups, many of them angry as the phones would ring again and again. Then at once, the ringing stopped.

Then minutes later, some parents, angry with what had just transpired in the midst of Sunday dinner, or Sunday football, or other Sunday family traditions, turned around and wondered who turned the lights out.  Then when the lights came back on, wondered where their children had gone, wondered who had left the back door open, what had happened, what was all that yelling outside, who was that, screaming.

And the sky above the town full of stars and cloudless cold night went dark.

And the wind blew.

And Johnnie, who had fallen asleep in his room while reading, leapt to the window that he kept open just a crack for he liked the cool breeze on his face. He looked out and saw night and looked up and saw thick blackness above that seemed to coil and curdle before his eyes.  And he recognized The Dark.

And Janie who had been listening to music as she drew, heard her parents talking to a neighbor, an upset neighbor, at their door.  “No” they hadn’t seen Tommy.  “Yes” their phone had also rung. “Yes”, they would help look.  And they yelled to her and she rushed to the phone and called Johnnie as she looked out into the street, people yelling, talking, shining lights in bushes and sheds and she too looked up and saw it.

And the dark hung above the city.

And the wind blew, cold and bitter and found its way into the seams of the searchers clothing.

And the children were gone

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