New collections on the way from Harry Shearer

Let me say right off the bat that I’m a huge fan of Harry Shearer. I think his radio program Le Show is one of the funniest things going. But don’t take my word for it. Check out Harry’s Web site for yourself. You’ll find audio archives there, along with a lot more Shearer magic.

In March, Harry is putting out a new DVD and a new CD. A friend in the biz sent me this press release:

HARRY SHEARER UNLOCKS PERSONAL VAULTS FOR THE FIRST TIME FOR NEW DVD “NOW IT CAN BE SEEN” AND CD “DROPPING ANCHORS” TO BE SIMULTANEOUSLY RELEASED MARCH 21, 2006

DVD and CD Include Shearer’s Hilarious Sketches On Saturday Night Live As Well As HBO Comedy Specials, Unreleased Material and More

Los Angeles, CA – January 2006 – Actor/writer/director Harry Shearer for the first time has opened his personal vaults for a special DVD of his television comedy. The DVD, Now It Can Be Seen includes Shearer’s most memorable performances that have not been viewed since their first broadcast, as well as never before released material. In addition, Shearer will release a comedy CD, Dropping Anchors. These two unique collections will be released separately March 21, 2006 through Courgette Records, a company formed by Shearer, his wife, singer/songwriter Judith Owen, and her manager Bambi Moé. The DVD and CD will be distributed through Warner Music Group’s ADA.

The DVD Now It Can Be Seen features some of Shearer’s best work including his first Cinemax-HBO special, It’s Just TV, his live HBO special, The Magic of Live, and hilarious sketches from his years with Saturday Night Live (1979-80 and 1984-85), including the infamous men’s synchronized swimming also featuring Christopher Guest and Martin Short.

Released the same day will be the 7 track CD, Dropping Anchors, a comedy album that is a satirical farewell to the television news anchors whose era has just ended. This features the humorous exits of Dan Rather, Tom Brokaw, Ted Koppel and Aaron Brown. There is also a hilarious bit of Shearer as Barbara Walters singing “82 Facelifts.” In addition, the CD features Shearer as Brokaw singing “Songs in the Key of L,” in which he performs snippets of such titles as “Lay Lady Lay” and “Ukelele Lady.”

Shearer can currently be heard in the Disney animated blockbuster “Chicken Little” and will soon be seen in the new Christopher Guest film “For Your Consideration.” The film is slated for a fall 2006 release.

Grab-bag of Craneish goodies

Yoikes! It’s been way too long since I posted something here. Work has been crazy recently. As you know, I work as a labor union organizer, and that’s not a 9 to 5 job. I worked every night last week, and almost every night this week (in addition to every day).

Despite all that, I have had a bit of time to read, watch and listen to some cool stuff. In the reading department: I just checked out Scurvy Dogs, a pirate comic written by Andrew Boyd and Ryan Yount. The premise? Classic pirates (Yar! and all that) try to get jobs and find love in the modern city. It’s hilarious, and the preceeding description can’t hope to do it justice. Get it today. You can thank me later.

I also had a conversation in my local comic shop (Comics, Etc.) the other day about the big crossovers of the 1980s. I was buying some back issues to fill in my collection of DC’s Millennium crossover, and the guys and I got to talking about how “the kids these days are reading Infinite Crisis without ever having read the original Crisis On Infinite Earths.” Before I go on, I’d just like to reiterate: I’m married, and I’ve fathered two children. Thank you.

The point is that some of those old crossovers were really hip. OK, they were also shameless attempts to get you to drop a whole month’s allowance in one trip to the comic shop, but still…

In defense of “these kids today,” the big comics companies (DC and Marvel, primarily) haven’t made it easy to get into the back-catalog material. It seems like they reset their entire universes about every six months, and most of the changes that take place in the big crossovers don’t last. Robin died — now he’s back. Superman died — he’s back, too. In Millennium, the parents and friends of many of the DC universe’s biggest heroes were revealed to be Manhunters bent on destroying the universe. All those people are still in their respective comics, and it’s as if the whole Millennium series never happened. Oy!

On the listening tip: My friend Otto Bruno is host of the fantastic Sunday Music Festa program on my favorite jazz station, Jazz90.1. He recently loaded me up with more than 400 episodes of the Jack Benny radio show from the 1930s and 1940s. I’ve been collecting old radio shows since I was a kid. This was quite a haul! I’ve been listening to them in cronological order. I’m still in 1933. It’s great to hear Jack make jokes about current events, just like Letterman or Leno (except funny, unlike the latter example). For example, one 1933 monologue contained jokes about Greta Garbo, King Kong, and Gandhi. That’s right, Gandhi. The sound quality is all over the place on these recordings, but they’re a priceless snapshot of that time. You can check out a big collection of Old-Time Radio mp3 CDs at OTRCAT.com.

Back to the reading list for a moment: In combination with these radio shows, I’m reading a biography of Jack Benny written by his wife, Mary Livingstone, with the help of her brother (and former Benny writer) Hilliard Marks. It’s a fun read, and a touching look at the life of a great entertainer. As far as I know, it’s long out of print. I found a first edition of it this week at the Yankee Peddler Bookshop here in Rochester, NY.

Finally, the watching list. Jen and I have been catching up on the TV show Scrubs. My sister gave Jen the first two seasons for her birthday and Xmas. It amazes me that a show this good even made it on to TV, let alone that it has survived for several years. Brilliant!

A final note: If you’d like to know more about my family than you could ever imagine, you can head over to The Flanders Family Blog and download the latest edition of Flanders Family News, the monthly newsletter I publish. Enjoy!