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Jason Crane Posts

The birth of a new blog!

My good friend Otto Bruno has just launched his new site, ottobruno.com. The site is the home of Otto’s blog, From Where I Sit, as well as a place to find his magazine articles. Otto is the host of The Sunday Music Festa and The Otto Show on Jazz90.1, and he also writes a monthly show biz column for the national Italian-American newspaper Fra Noi. Check out Otto’s site, and tell him Jason sent ya!

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Ex Machina (with no Deus)

You should be reading the comic book Ex Machina. Really, you should. In fact, if I were you, I’d throw a coat on and go pick up the latest issue right now. There’s a nice video interview with the artist, Tony Harris, at the DC Comics site. Message ends.

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Fun with movie trailers!

PlayPlay

My friend Jeff Vrabel sent me two links today. Both were spoof movie trailers based on Brokeback Mountain. A little digging turned up quite a few more spoof movie trailers on everything from Titanic to Psycho. Here’s a sampling. Enjoy!

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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.

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Expose Exxon

Here’s a nice little Flash animation about ExxonMobil. It ends with an opportunity for you to take action.

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Nursery rhymes from my Great-Uncle Jack

My grandmother’s brother, Jack Coughlin (1912-2000), was quite the character. He served in the Marines during WWII as a cook in Hawaii. When he came home, he and his first wife, Evelyn, lived in the apartment above my grandparents on Main Street in Lenox, Massachusetts. He worked at the post office, and he knew everyone in town. Before police scanners were readily available, he’d wake the entire family at the sound of the fire bell and race off to watch the firemen at work. Later in life, he bought a police scanner and listened to it constantly.

He was the first vegetarian I ever heard of. If memory serves, he became a vegetarian after a visit to a chicken farm.

He also had quite a sense of humor. What I remember best are his twisted takes on classic nursery rhymes. Here are a few for your enjoyment:

Hickory dickory dock,
Two mice ran up the clock,
The clock struck one,
And the other escaped with minor injuries.

Mary, Mary, quite contrary,
How does your garden grow?
With silver bells and cockle shells,
And one stinkin’ petunia.

Little Miss Muffet sat on her tuffet,
Eating her curds and whey.
Along came a spider and sat down beside her,
And said, “Is this seat taken?”

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Back in the day

I went to Tapas with a friend tonight. Tapas is a bar/lounge in downtown Rochester that features salsa music. Tonight, the band Tumbao was playing. Man, did that take me back.

If you’ve only known me since I moved to Rochester, you may find it hard to believe that I used to play salsa and latin jazz for a living. That’s right. The pasty, overweight, reasonably lame guy that y’all have come to know and/or love was, at one time, a pasty, much thinner, slightly hipper cat who played saxophone and percussion in the dance clubs of the Southwest. As a matter of fact, Jen and I met in a latin dance place. Wacky, huh?

Being down in the basement lounge at Tapas with the music blaring and the dance floor filled was like stepping into La Machine De Wayback. If you’ve never had a roomfull of people grooving to your music, you’ve really missed out. And there’s nothing like that moment when the band is completely locked in clave and the whole joint is heaving back and forth in one fluid motion.

I gave up playing when I moved here, and I thought I had come to terms with that. But tonight made me remember what I really loved about the music, and it made me miss it. Maybe I’ll give Tony Padilla a call and see if they can use a just-past-his-prime sax player.

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Our beloved president

OK, so this video is worth seeing. It’s a slightly … uh … revised version of Bush’s State of the Union address. Enjoy!

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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!

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Stardust (the NASA mission, not the ballad)

In the interest of full disclosure, I want you to know what kind of nerd you’re dealing with when you visit this Web site. In 1998, NASA put out a call for names to be inscribed onto two microchips that would go into space on the Stardust mission. Stardust was NASA’s first attempt to fly through a comet and collect a sample.

Jen and I were living in Japan at the time, and I submitted my name. I made it on Chip #2! That still thrills me, and I realize what that implies, so you don’t need to bring it up. There were actually two sets of chips — one set that would fly through the comet and return with the sample-collecting spacecraft, and another set that would stay out in space forever.

Early this morning, Stardust returned to Earth. Welcome back, and bring on the science!

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