Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Alphabet Game: This One Is For Lovers Edition

Hello, and welcome to The Alphabet Game, where I take a look at 26 different things in one common category. This is a special Valentine's Day (a week or two belated) edition. Have fun.

A is for Annie Hall - So, here you have the film to which every director making a romantic comedy should look. Allen's greatest film, and the start to the auteur's Golden Age (from this film to Crimes & Misdemeanors, twelve years later), Annie Hall is a brilliant, sardonic look at the relationship between a neurotic New York writer and a neophyte country girl new to the city. Starring the Woodman himself, and Diane Keaton (whose real name is Diane "Annie" Hall), five years after the real life couple broke up, the film never delves into the sugary ridiculousness of many a modern day rom com. Allen and Keaton keep the film a smart satire on love.

B is for Butt Stuff - Really? Only on the Letter B, and already we've sunk to this level? Okay, whatever. I'm not sure what to say about this one. I thought this was supposed to be about "the Lovers" in a more romantic Valentiney kinda way, not a more...well, you know. Anyhoo, comic book writer Matt Fraction (Hawkeye, FF, Sex Criminals) has a Twitter account that used to be @Butt Stuff Werewolf, but is now @Butt Stuff Reindeer. So there's that.

C is for Casanova - The historic figure of Casanova is known as the ultimate lover, though the ultimate sexual predator is probably a bit more on the ole accurate side of things. There is a funny meme going around in cyberspace right now, that mocks that 50 Shades of Grey nonsense. It states how the film/book (using both of those terms loosely) is romantic because he's a billionaire, but if he had lived in a trailer, it would be an episode of Criminal Minds. One supposes the same could be said of Casanova, the original Christian Grey.

D is for Doodlebug - Now here's a good one. Doodlebug, as all my regular readers (and stalkers) already know, is my (adorable!!) pet name for my loverly wife. As you might also already know, the missus and I got married four weeks after we met. Yeah, that's right. We are getting ready to celebrate our seventeenth wedding anniversary inn March. Still not sure how I've managed to get her to stick around for so long, but seventeen years and counting. So there ya go my peeps. Love works sometimes. Both of us had to wallow through some mud to get to each other, but here we are...my Doodlebug and Me.

E is for e-Love - No, I am not talking porn. Yes, I have heard that porn can be found on line (not that I would know personally, of course), but the e-Love of which I speak here and now, is the whole dating scene in this modern day of social media. Back when I was on the so-called dating scene (centuries ago - literally, it was last century) people went out on dates or at least hung out first, and got to know each other. Nowadays though, there is no need to even go out with a person to get to know them. Checking them out on Facebook and Instagram and Twitter and whatevs, is all that is needed. If they don't pass the social media test, fuck 'em. Yup, that is the dating scene today. Of course, there's always porn to fall back on. 

F is for The F-Word - Here we go again with the so-called seedier side of this edition of The Alphabet Game. But ain't the F-Word grand. I always claim it is my favourite word, because it can be so many different things. It can be a noun, a verb, and even used as an adjective. It can be a fun thing to do or an insult to your enemies. It's the best of times and it's the worst of times. Of course, in the aspect of our little game here, I believe it is being used in the purely "Fuck me like a wild animal" manner. But I digress. Let's move onto higher aspects of this For the Lovers edition.

G is for Garbo, My Not-So-Secret Crush - If time were really a fluid thing, and I could go back to any time period, that period would be 1930's Hollywood. Yes, it's because I dream of being a star of classic Hollywood, but also it's because I might be able to meet Greta Garbo, maybe even work with her. I could be her leading man even. Yeah, I know, I have a lovely wife right now, whom I love and adore and all that goes with that, but if she can have Marcel Proust as an imaginary boyfriend, then I can have Garbo, dammit! Oh, she'd probably want me to leave her alone anyway.

H is for The Herp & His Friends - Here we are back in the gutter again. This time we are taking a look at sexually transmitted diseases. I can proudly say I have never had one of these, so like with the Letter B, I really do not know what to say here. STD's are bad kids. Don't get one. How's that? Does this count as my court-ordered public service announcement? I hope so. Stay off STD's kids.

I is for The Inn of the Dove - So, back in my high school days, I first heard about this local motel called The Inn of the Dove. It was the kind of place you went to after prom. It was the kind of place a white trash couple would go to think they were sexual sophisticates. How's that for a sleazy romantic rendezvous? It was the kind of place that probably reeked of aqua velva and desperation. I've never been there, but one can certainly imagine.

J is for Jackpot (Tiger) - To be honest, I always preferred Gwen Stacy to Mary Jane Watson (and I think Peter did too) but she's dead, and Mary Jane came along, so... Don't get me wrong, there's never anything wrong with a hot redhead to come home to after a long day of fighting supervillains, (Peter definitely enjoyed it) and therefore, Mary Jane's famous, "Face it Tiger, you've hit the jackpot," is romantic enough to make our list today. Of course, it's kind of egotistical too, but we'll let that go for now. Gwen Stacy would never say anything like that, but again, we'll going to let that one go for now.

K is for (Not Me) - Yeah, I could have went and said K is for Kevyn. I'm a lovable guy. Really, I am. I don't care what you've heard. Anyhoo, like I was saying, I could have put myself in this spot, but even though I am a lovable guy (I am dammit!) and am deeply in love with the little missus (see Letter D), I am not big on the whole Valentine's Day ideal. It's just a stupid holiday where lovers are expected to bend over backwards for each other, and those without anyone are forced to suffer through all the love talk of the day. So yeah, maybe K is not for me.

L is for Lady & the Tramp - Cute and freakin' adorable, we all know the scene where Lady and her wayward wouldbe lover boy share a string of spaghetti. It's so iconic that it's been parodied and copied over and over again, and not always in animation. I like this film because it shows how a purebred can be corrupted by one of the wild ones. I also like the film when it was remade as Grease. Go get 'em Tramp.

M is for Marriage Equality - Really? Why is this even still a debate? Why has this ever been a debate? Two people are in love and they want to get married. Who the fuck cares what sex they happen to be!? Their marriage is not going to ruin your marriage, you stupid, ignorant, homophobic jackass!! Get over it! Get over it, now!! I am sick of this debate, and so is everyone else!! I want nothing more to do with anyone who would deny people's right to marry whomever they wish. I want all of these bigots and hate mongers out of my life. So there! And hey, I think the pic to the right says it all.

N is for Nancy & Sluggo - Forget Blondie and Dagwood, or Garfield and Lasagna, or even Charlie Brown and that damn little red-haired girl. They got nothing on these two. Possibly the greatest love in comic strip history is Nancy & Sluggo. One of my all-time fave comic strips, and a very esoteric strip that rarely gets the recognition it richly deserves, Ernie Bushmiller's classic comic is the tale of true love between a chubby, nerdy girl and her rough n' tumble bad boy best bud. End of story. Happily ever after, and all that jazz.

O is for Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh - I think we all know what this sound means. If you don't, I'm very sorry. Actually, this particular oh oh oh (and so on) is in honour of Meg Ryan's portrayal of Sally Albright in the 1989 romantic comedy, When Harry Met Sally. More specifically, it is in honour of one particular scene shot in Katz's Deli. Ya'll know of which one I am speaking. The one punctuated by the line, "I'll have what she's having," delivered wonderfully by the director's mom.

P is for The Princess Bride - And speaking of the director of When Harry Met Sally, Rob Reiner also made one of the best romantic comedies of all-time - The Princess Bride. Many might even call it the greatest love story of all-time. Such an assertion is definitely not inconceivable. Ha! Se what I did there? So yes, Buttercup and Westley are one of the greatest, most romantic of couples - real and/or fictional.

Q is for Quagmire - Giggity! When it comes to makin' love in Quahog, R.I., there ain't no better an expert than Glenn Quagmire. Giggity. He knows all the fly moves. Giggity. He knows how to get the ladies to come home with him. Chloroform works best. Giggity.

R is for the Rom Com - Haven't I mentioned the rom com about a dozen times so far? Yup. So here is the sub-genre's official entry in our little ole Alphabet Game. Rom coms can be shmarmy, and probably are most of the time, but when they are done right, like with many of the screwball comedies of the 1930's, or films like the aforementioned Annie Hall or The Princess Bride, or maybe even in the case of that hilarious rom com by Scorsese - you know the one, with the cabbie and the blonde chick. Yeah, the rom com, American cinema at its most schmarm...er, romantic. Yeah, romantic.

S is for The Shocker - Okay, so here we are again back at the bottom of the love canal. Don't know what the shocker is. Yeah, that's probably a good thing. If ya wanna know, please refer to Google for all your much desired answers, because I'm rally not delving into it here and now. Let's just move on, shall we?

T is for T & A - Come on! T & A? This is supposed to be something for Valentine's Day. Yeah, we're about two weeks too late for the Hallmark holiday, but still, we are supposed to be talking about love and all that kinda junk. But no, we have to lower ourselves once again, and like with the letters B and H and O and S, the letter T takes us to the hootchie side of love. Oh well, who doesn't love some T & A once and a while? 

U is for Us - Now here is a letter showing the proper respect for love. Not you or me or them or whomever, but Us. The Us of a couple in love. The Us of me and my lovely wife. The Us of whoever wants to be an Us. Yes, Valentine's Day is a silly make-believe holiday (why do we need a special day to say I love you!?) but love is real, and the Us of love is real as well. Too shmarmy? Oh well. Get over it.

V is for Vulva - On Friends, when Ross is pressured into talking dirty to a woman he is making out with, his panicky response is just one word. Vulva. On Seinfeld, when Jerry and George are trying to remember a woman's name, knowing only that it rhymes with a female body part, the best they can come up with is Mulva. So that's my take on that word. Sexy, huh?

W is for Winona Forev...er, I Mean Wino Forever - Back in the day, when Johnny Depp was still a cool guy, and not the one trick pony he has become lately, back in that day, Johnny met Winona, and they were a Hollywood romance like none other. Johnny even got a tattoo that read Winona Forever. Needless to say, forever was not in the cards for these two kids, and they eventually did the whole break up thing. But what to do about that darned tattoo? Easy peazy. Just have some adjustments made to the ink, and voila, you are now the proud owner of a bicep that reads, Wino Forever.

X is for X-Love (as in X-Men Love) - Be it Jean and Scott, or Scott and Emma, or Kitty and Piotr, or Charles and Moira, or Sean and Moira, or Logan and Jean, or Scott and that Goblin Queen bitch, or Rogue and Gambit, or Bobby and Kitty, or Ororo and Logan, or Raven and Charles, or Charles and Lilandra, or Warren and Betsy, or Warren and Ororo, or the other Warren (the time-displaced one) and Laura, or Alex and Lorna, or Scott and Logan (just seeing if you were still paying attention), or Kitty and Pete Wisdom (she likes Peters - ha!), or Piotr and Domino, or Shark Girl and Hellion, or Nathan and Domino, or Logan and Squirrel Girl (yeah, really), or Jean-Paul and Kyle, or Erik and Rogue, or Sam and Lila, or Henry and Trish Tilby, or...well, I could go on for a long time with this one. Ya know, my wife is always saying how the comic books I read are like soap operas. Hmmmm.

Y is for Yes - That's right. Yes is the word you hope for when you fall in love. It's a simple thing and a simple word, but when you are in love, this is the simple thing, the simple word you want (and need) to hear from that guy or gal you have fallen in love with. Yeah, this one was pretty sappy, but hey, this is a For Lovers edition after all.

Z is for Zombie Love - Last, but certainly not least, here we are at the Letter Z. There's the rom com, and now, thanx to the popularity of the Zombie Apocalypse genre, there is the zom com, or zom rom com, if you will. Films like Shaun of the Dead, Warm Bodies, and Life After Beth, are some of the more successful examples of this new sub-genre. And really, who's not up for some zombie lovin'?

That's it gang. See ya 'round the web.

Friday, February 27, 2015

The Passing of Leonard Nimoy: Like Losing a Dear Old Friend

I could have titled this something along the lines of "Live Long & Prosper...in the Afterlife, Old Friend," and to lay all my cards on the table, I almost did. But then I felt it a bit too flippant. But apparently not flippant enough to discard completely (and/or use it as a Facebook status update earlier today. But I really do mean the statement. Whatever afterlife is out there, and I am not about to take a stab at what it may be, I wish Leonard Nimoy all the joy within said afterlife. And I will miss the man greatly. Indeed I will. I am not all that talented at writing obituraries, or whatever the following ends up being, but I'm having a go at it anyway.

Nimoy had been sick recently, and he was 83, so his death does not come as a complete surprise (supposedly we all gotta die someday - it's only logical), but it was still jarring when I first read the news today, oh boy. Not since Roger Ebert died two years ago, have I been hit so hard by the death of a celebrity. Not even when Lauren Bacall died last year. In the case of Mr. Ebert, he was actually somebody I had corresponded with a few times via e-mail and what not, so in some teeny tiny way, he was an actual part of my life. Mr. Nimoy though was someone I had never spoken with in any manner. I've met both Nichelle Nichols and the late James Doohan at Trek conventions, but alas, Leonard Nimoy is someone whom I will never meet - at least not in this world. But still, he has touched my life, like I am sure he has touched many lives throughout the years.

Yeah, I'm a Star Trek nerd. Be it a Trekkie or a Trekker (whichever you decide to call yourself) and the show was a huge part of my childhood. Granted, it left the air before I even turned two, but when it hit syndication in the 1970's, I was hooked. Then came the movies, and the sequels, and the spin-offfs, and everything else. And through it all, though I loved Kirk and Scotty and Sulu, and Uhura and Chekov and especially Bones, it was Mr. Spock who fascinated me the most. Leonard Nimoy's portrayal of the enigmatic Vulcan/Human Science Officer, from the Original NBC series to the movies to his guest spots on the TV sequels, all the way to his role as Spock Prime in J.J. Abrams' reboot, is easily one of my favourites of all-time. Sure, Nimoy did many other things in his career, and appeared in other films and TV shows, even hosting the great In Search Of program, and he was also an accomplished artist and photographer (and yes, a musician too), but he will always be Spock in our minds. Maybe we were never friends, or even acquaintances, but I have always thought of you as such. To quote Spock, at the end of Wrath of Khan, "I have been, and always shall be, your friend."


Thursday, February 26, 2015

Heavenly Body of the Week: Ceres the Planetoid

Two bright lights are emanating from the dwarf planet Ceres, captured on camera by the approaching Dawn spacecraft, and NASA astronomers are at a loss to explain them. The planetoid, located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, will be visited on March 6 by the spacecraft, and then we're going to find just what's up with those two lights. Yeah, it's probably just light reflecting off of ice, but I like to think it might just be something a whole hell of a lot cooler. You know, like aliens.

Maybe this can be something like Total Recall (the 1990 version, not that boring remake) and we can get whoever today's Schwarzenegger is (David Statham? Vin Diesel? The Rock?) to break it all wide open, and voila, we have ourselves a colonizable little planet. Yeah, it's only a fraction of the size of our Moon, but hey, it'd be a great spot for a mall, or some other kinda place. Ooh yeah, that Mall of America will have nuthin' on the Mall of Ceres. Yeah baby! Alien mall.

That's it gang. See ya 'round the web.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Great Albums: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy by Kanye

Kanye West is one of those public figures whom incite a wrath of emotion. Yes, the guy is a total asshole, a douchebag of epic proportions. I don't think that is in doubt. Even his fans must admit that. Even Kanye has admitted that. From interrupting a bewildered Taylor Swift to say how better and more deserving Beyonce is than she (and whether you agree with the statement or not, it was a dick move) to his praising himself as a genius (you're supposed to let other people say that about you Kanye), the hip hop kingpin has a history of idiotic behaviour. And for that, he has a hell of a lot of detractors. But still, even with such a public persona, it is hard to deny the guy's talent. Okay, I suppose if you hate hip hop, you can deny it, but then you are denying the talent of an entire genre, and not just Kanye, and that's a whole other creature. But then, I was one of those deniers at one point too. Then something changed.

A few weeks back, after his badmouthing of Beck at the Grammy's, yet another act of assholery, I decided to see just what this guy was all about. I've never really been much of a fan of hip hop, but I was wanting to open my mind to things outside of my supposed wheelhouse, and delving into hip hop music seemed like a perfect fit, and perfect timing with my desire to see what this Kanye jackass was all about, outside of his public image, which was really all I had known at this point. So I went searching the cooler of the music sites. In nearly every list you see of the best music of today, Kanye is included, often near the top, if not at the top. Pitchfork Magazine named My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, the best album of the decade so far, and most music critics agree. It has gotten rave reviews across the board. Many hip hop haters out there may say this is just me acting provocative for the sake of being provocative, but dickhead or not, Kanye's music is some of the most critically acclaimed of the day. And as a fellow critic, I know that's gotta mean somethin'. So, I thought to myself, as a cinephile, I enjoy every genre of cinema, I enjoy all different types of TV shows and books and what have you, so why not try to enjoy every genre of music as well (instead of sticking with the narrow view of music I have held all these years) - and what better place to start, and in what a most challenging way, than with the nearly unlikable Kanye West, and his most heralded album.

But enough of this talk about how and why I decided to take on Kanye. What about the album itself? What makes it so damn critically acclaimed? Well, I'm more of a film and TV critic (mediums which I know well, and have every confidence in analyzing) than a music critic, but I'll give it my best quasi-neophyte try. The album, the artist's fifth studio disc, was conceived while Kanye was in self-imposed exile in Hawaii, and is a grandiose effort compared to his previous four albums. Incorporating everything from electronica to symphonic elements, baroque and neo-soul. Twisted Fantasy is Kanye's take on celebrity and its myriad of pitfalls. Considering the producer/rapper was in exile because of public image problems as well as legal entanglements, he could have been an expert on such things at the time. Yes, Kanye's earlier albums were more than your mere hip hop albums, but none of them had the oomph, the no-holds-barred attitude of Twisted Fantasy. His latest album, Yeezus, keeps going with what he did here, but even that is no comparison to Twisted Fantasy. Taking his game up about eleven levels, Kanye weaved together a startling gaudy grand guignol, something akin to a modern day hip hop version of Miles Davis. Yeah, that's right! From the opening salvo of Nicki Minaj's Brit-tongued intro, all the way through to West's closing political slam poem, Twisted Fantasy is full of experimental neo-bebop jazz-inspired hooks and hops. It is also an album, just like its creator, full of controversy. Hell, even the album cover has induced wrath for some. But behind that stupid controversy, is the album itself, anything but pure and simple. Tracks like Power and All the Lights and my fave, Monster, combine to make exactly what Pitchfork called it - the best goddamn album of the decade so far. Proof that Kanye West is more than an egocentric douchebag.

There was recently an article (I forget the where's and who's) comparing Kanye to John Lennon. Granted, much of the article was serious bunk, but the author did have a few solid points. Both artists are/were obsessed with their dead mothers. Both artists are/were the biggest names in their biz, but also very experimental in their music. Both artists married women who were hated by the public (although, I happen to love Yoko, and Kimmy K., you are no Yoko). Both artists are/were big on grandiose public antics, and both artists have a way with pissing every one else off. Sure, through the tragedy of Lennon dying so young, the ex-Beatle has become deified in recent decades, but he thrived on being an ass to the media, and sometimes to his fellow artists. Just like someone else we know, eh? Okay, okay, don't get your panties all in a bunch. Even my newfound respect for Kanye, isn't going to let me say he's a greater artist than Lennon. That'd be kinda nutso. After listening to the album, and realizing I can indeed enjoy hip hop (I mean, I am including the damn thing in my Great Albums series), I wouldn't say it is as good as Lennon's best album (1979's Plastic Ono Band), but it is a damn good album. And in many ways, he can be seen as a modern day Lennon (or maybe a modern day Ali, if you will) - at least in attitude and public antics. Yeah, all those aforementioned hip hop naysayers may not agree, but as my horizons are stretched, and I open my mind to other areas of music (maybe country music or opera is next), I have found another great album, full of vim and vigor and all that - even if the guy is a total douchebag and a half. That's it gang. See ya 'round the web.


Monday, February 23, 2015

The Oscars 2015: NPH in His Undies, A Short Film Oscar Win For My Puppy, Lady Gaga Does Julie Andrews (and Freakin' Nails It), & Birdman Wins the Night...Even If Michael Keaton is Robbed!

So here we are again, kids. It's the day after The Oscars, and it's round-up time-a-go-go!! So let's get started. First off, I would like to make note of my prediction rate. I was hoping to finally snap my record of 19 for 24, a record I've managed to do thrice in the past 16 years since I began keeping records, and get to that elusive 20th correct prediction. Alas though, I only managed to match that record of 19 victorious picks, and not to surpass it. So now, after seventeen years of keeping track of my predictions, I've gotten 19 on four separate occasions. Mostly I've hit 18 (10 times), an twice did 17, and once a measly 16 right. That was a bad year. Anyhoo, this year it was just 19, and like every other year, I second guess some of my second guessing. Should I have gone the other way on those few that were a toss up? Well of course I should have, but that's a moot point at this...um, point. So let's move on.

Even though I enjoyed NPH (that's Neil Patrick Harris for all you unkool kids out there) as host, I've seen him do better (just watch him host the Tony's), there were no "big" moments like there were last year with Ellen Degeneres. There were no moments like last year's pizza party or group selfie. But still, there were some knock out moments on stage. The speeches of Patricia Arquette (equal pay!), Common & John Legend (slam poetry!), and Graham Moore (stay weird kids!) were all remarkable moments, indeed. NPH doing his Birdman shtick in his tighty whities (and lookin' damn good in'em) was another fun time. And then there was Lady Gaga, killing it, singing songs from The Sound of Music. I've always like Gaga (she's friends w/ Yoko, and that's just alright with me) and always knew she was talented, but damn did she ever surprise me (and the whole room, I think) with that performance. Hell, she even made Julie Andrews cry. So yeah, there were some great moments.

As for the outcome, Birdman took 4 Oscars (Director, Screenplay, Cinematography, and Picture) and I am alright with that. The top award was always between Boyhood and Birdman, and they are respectively numbers two and three on my list of 2014 faves (behind just Inherent Vice), so either outcome would have been okay with me. It was disappointing to see Keaton lose Best Actor though. Yeah, Redmayne was good as Hawking, but Keaton knocked it outta the freakin' park. But hey, ya can't have it all. We got Inarritu winning 3 Oscars. We got Patricia Arquette and J.K. Simmons. We got Ida taking home Best Foreign Language Film, and we got Best Animated Short Feast, a six minute film about a puppy who looks like and acts like our own puppy at home. Now if only I had picked Big Hero 6, I would have had my elusive 20th correct guess. Oh stop that! Anyhoo, that's about it for my recap. Here's looking forward to Guillermo del Toro taking home teh Best Director Oscar next year for Crimson Peak, making it three Mexican-born Oscar winners in a row. That's it gang. See ya 'round the web.


Friday, February 20, 2015

My Final Set-in-Stone Oscar Predictions

So here we are kids, at the end of the ever-lengthening awards season, which means its about time for me to give you my Oscar predictions. We have 24 categories to pick and choose from, and my standing record is 19 out of that aforementioned 24. Usually I get 17 or 18, but twice I have reached 19, but I have yet to break through to that 20th correct prediction. Maybe this year. Maybe this year. Okay, probably not, as this year is much less predictable than most. Yeah, 3 of the 4 acting categories may be locks, but Actor is not, and neither is Director, and the top award may actually be a five way race, maybe even six. Yeah, that's the way it should be dag nab it. Of course, this means I could have a record low this year (which would be dropping below 16) but hey, I like the danger. Ha! Anyhoo, here we go with my final set-in-stone predictions. Let the predix commence. Oh, and check out the brand new look for the Oscar statue. Yeah, it's no longer gold, but it does have the power cosmic. If you read comics, that last line was freakin' hilarious, if not, oh well, just move onto the predictions portion of our show.

Best Picture
Will Win: Birdman
Could Win: Boyhood or American Sniper
Should Win: Boyhood or Birdman (can't choose!!!)

First Selma looked like a frontrunner, but then Boyhood took over that role (and that was even before the so-called Selma snub on Oscar nomination morning). Then recently, with victories at the SAGs, PGA & DGA awards, Birdman has become the frontrunner, Then Boyhood won the BAFTA, and it looked like we had a two-way race. Now add in the popularity and buzz of American Sniper, and the possibility of all these so-called frontrunners canceling each other out, and The Imitation Game surprising. Hell even Grand Budapest has a dark horse shot. Basically Whiplash and The Theory of Everything are the only two without a chance. Considering Boyhood and Birdman were numbers two and three on my Best of 2014 list, either one winning will make this guy happy. But yeah, it's pretty much a four or five way race. Yes, this makes predicting more difficult, but it also makes the Oscars fun again. Yes, at least 16, maybe 17 are still gimmes, but Picture, Director, and Actor are the ones to screw up even the best researched of Oscar pools - and maybe my own predictions as well. Anyway, here are the other 23 categories.

Best Director
Will Win: Richard Linklater for Boyhood
Could Win: Alejandro G, Inarittu for Birdman
Should Win: Linklater or Inarittu (damn, it's hard to choose!)

Best Actor
Will Win: Eddie Redmayne in Theory of Everything
Could Win: Keaton in Birdman or (maybe) Cooper in Sniper
Should Win: Michael Keaton,and he still just might

Best Actress
Will Win: Julianne Moore in Still Alice
Could Win: Witherspoon could surprise
Should Win: Rosamund Pike in Gone Girl

Best Supporting Actor
Will Win: J.K. Simmons in Whiplash
Could Win: No one else, but Hawke, if you must
Should Win: J.K. Simmons in Whiplash

Best Supporting Actress
Will Win: Patricia Arquette in Boyhood
Could Win: No one else, but Stone if you must
Should Win: Patricia Arquette in Boyhood

Best Original Screenplay
Will Win: The Grand Budapest Hotel
Could Win: Birdman
Should Win: Nightcrawler

Best Adapted Screenplay
Will Win: The Imitation Game
Could Win: Whiplash
Should Win: Inherent Vice

Best Foreign Language Film
Will Win: Ida
Could Win: Wild Tales or Leviathan
Should Win: Ida

Best Animated Feature
Will Win: How to Train Your Dragon 2
Could Win: Big Hero 6
Should Win: The Lego Movie (oh yeah, never mind)

Best Documentary Feature
Will Win: Citizenfour
Could Win: Citizenfour (yeah, that's right)
Should Win: Citizenfour

Best Cinematography
Will Win: Birdman
Could Win: Unbroken (but not really)
Should Win: Birdman! Birdman! Birdman!

Best Production Design
Will Win: The Grand Budapest Hotel
Could Win: Into the Woods (but again, not really)
Should Win: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Best Film Editing
Will Win: Boyhood
Could Win: American Sniper or Whiplash
Should Win: Boyhood

Best Costume Design
Will Win: The Grand Budapest Hotel
Could Win: Into the Woods
Should Win: Grand Budapest or Inherent Vice

Best Make-Up & Hair Design
Will Win: The Grand Budapest Hotel
Could Win: Guardians of the Galaxy or Foxcatcher
Should Win: Guardians of the Galaxy

Best Original Score
Will Win: The Theory of Everything
Could Win: Grand Budapest or Imitation Game
Should Win: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Best Original Song
Will Win: Glory from Selma
Could Win: Everything is Awesome from The Lego Movie
Should Win: Lost Stars from Begin Again

Best Visual Effects
Will Win: Interstellar
Could Win: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Should Win: Interstellar (the only aspect of the film I liked)

Best Sound Mixing
Will Win: Whiplash
Could Win: Sniper or Unbroken
Should Win: Birdman

Best Sound Editing
Will Win: American Sniper
Could Win: Unbroken
Should Win: Birdman

Best Animated Short
Will Win: Feast
Could Win: The Dam Keeper
Should Win: The Dam Keeper

Best Live Action  Short
Will Win: The Phone Call
Could Win: Anything
Should Win: Damned if I know

Best Documentary Short Subject
Will Win: Crisis Hotline
Could Win: Joanna
Should Win: Damned if I know (again)

So there ya have it. These are my picks, and I'm stickin' with 'em! I guess we'll find out Sunday, how well I did on the whole predicting thing. And I'll be back on Monday to discuss just how well (or how poorly) I did on these things. Maybe I'll talk about the Oscars themselves too. That's it gang. See ya 'round th...oh wait, I almost forgot, we had an Oscar poll, didn't we? Yeah, we did. Granted, not that many people participated in said poll (at a just mere 65 votes cast, only about a quarter of those who voted last year) but we do have the results nonetheless. Here they are. Your pick for Best Picture is Boyhood, with 28% of the vote. just edging out Birdman, with 23%. Taking the bronze medal is The Grand Budapest Hotel, with 20%. After this comes American Sniper and Selma, each with 9%, then Whiplash at 8%. Finally comes The Imitation Game with a mere 3%, and then poor little Theory of Everything, garnering not a single vote. Poor little Theory of Everything. 

Anyhoo, that's really it gang. See ya 'round the web.


Thursday, February 19, 2015

Heavenly Body of the Week: Gilligan's Planet

Welcome to Gilligan's Planet! That's right kids, after Gilligan and the gang finally made it off that damn island, they got lost on a damn planet. The place was CBS Saturday mornings, during the 1982-83 season. This time though, our favourite castaways were animated, but still voiced by the original cast, save for the ever-bitter Tina Louise, who never really wanted to be Ginger again. In her place, Dawn Wells, voiced both Mary Ann and Ginger. Of course, as we all surely know already, their marooning upon this lost planet was all Gilligan's fault. Idiot! The fact that the Professor could build an operational spaceship, but could never fix a tiny hole in a boat...well, we'll just add that to the other questionable things in this franchise.

That's it gang. See ya 'round the web.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

SNL @ 40: A List of Each and Every Single Saturday Night Live Cast Member (Every Damn One), From Worst to Best

So, just this past week, the fine(ish) folks over at Rolling Stone, celebrating SNL's 40th season on the air, published their list of every single Saturday Night Live cast member, from the worst to the best. Their list can be viewed here. Now even though the Rolling Stone cats beat me to the publishing punch, I actually had decided to do this same damn thing several weeks ago. Oh well, anyway here is my list, and a much better list, even if I do say so myself. It consists of every single one of SNL's 143 official cast members (Rolling Stone claims 141, but I claim 143 oficial cast members). This includes both regular and featured players alike, but no guest hosts like Steve Martin or Alec Baldwin, even if they have hosted about a billion times each. And please remember, this list is judging these cast members on just their on-screen prowess (or lack thereof, in some cases) and not anything else they have done. So even if a cast member goes on to become one of the biggest stars of the day (Yeah, I'm talking to you, Robert Downey, Jr.!), they are being judged solely on what they did during their time on SNL, even if that time was a complete waste of it (Yeah, I'm still talking to you Downey!). So, with all this said, let's get on with the list. And please take into account that with 143 performers to talk about here, it may take a while to peruse (even though I do make it a bit shorter with combined groupings and all) so if you want to read this post in segments, I won't be offended. Oh, and remember, no peaking at the number one spot while you do this. Anyhoo, on with the show. Live from...yada yada yada! Oh, and a quick shout out to the velvety voiced Don Pardo.

143. Emily Prager (1981) - After Lorne Michaels and the remaining original cast members left NBC, and after a very very brief stint by showrunner Jean Doumanian (just 12 episodes), Dick Ebersole took over the show in early 1981. This sort of transitional season (known in some circles as Saturday Night Live '80) has gone down in history as one of the worst. Sure, this was the season that gave the world Eddie Murphy, but otherwise it was a dud and a half. Anyway, when Ebersol took over, he hired a mostly new cast (keeping just Murphy and Joe Piscopo). Among these new cast members was a young woman named Emily Prager, and even though Ms. Prager was listed as an official cast member in that first Ebersol episode, the poor lady never made it past the dress rehearsal stage, and never actually appeared on the air. The following week, the writer's strike happened and Saturday Night was put on hiatus for yet another big reboot. Prager was not asked back. So yeah, Prager never actually appeared on screen, but she was listed in the credits for a single episode, so she does count, and somebody has to come in last place, so why not the chick who never saw any airtime?

142. George Coe (1975) - Yeah, everyone knows the names Belushi and Aykroyd and Chevy Chase, but what about good ole George Coe. He was credited as on of the "Not Ready for Prime Time Players" from the first episode ever aired, waaay back in 1975. Granted, by episode two, he was gone from the credits, though he did remain throughout the season, making a brief appearance here and there. At 46 years old, Coe was the oldest member of the SNL cast, and would hold the record of oldest debut until just this past year, when the 47 year old Leslie Jones made her debut. This is pretty much Coe's only claim to so-called fame at SNL. Outside of 30 Rock, Coe made a ton of movies and guested on an equally large amount of TV shows. He even was nominated for an Oscar once, for Best Short Film in 1968.

141. Dan Vitale (1986) - Does anyone remember this guy? He appeared in exactly three episodes of SNL during the 11th season, and I, for the life of me, cannot remember anything about him. Even a Google search gives me next-to-nothing on this guy. Hell, he doesn't even have his own Wikipedia page. What kind of bullshit is that!? But hey, even this apparent nonexistence places him higher than either George Coe or poor Emily Prager. But he's not the only completely forgotten cast member on this list. Let's move on and talk about some of them, shall we?

140. Morwenna Banks (1995) - Seriously, does anyone remember this woman? Anyone? Apparently this English comic was a cast member for exactly four episodes during season 20. I honestly don't remember anything about her though. And to think, this still gets her placing above Coe and Prager as well. After SNL, this mystery woman had done a bunch of voice work for some kid's shows, and has more recently done a series of web videos, mocking modern celebs. I've actually checked out some clips from some web and BBC shows, and she's actually quite funny, but seriously, I do not remember this woman on SNL. Not at all.

137, 138, & 139 - Matthew Laurance, Patrick Weathers, and Yvonne Hudson (1980-81) - Speaking of cast members we've never heard of, here are three who were brought in as featured players during the aforementioned disastrous 1980 season. None of these three ever got much air time during their short partial season run on the show, which might have been a good thing, since with this anonymity comes a lack of blame for such a horrible season. Of course, no fame ever came after their run on SNL either. So there's that.

136. Laurie Metcalf (1981) - Just like poor Emily Prager above, Metcalf was brought in for one episode for Dick Ebersol before the writer's strike hit. Unlike poor Emily though, Metcalf did make it onto the screen. Granted, it was for one brief moment on Weekend Update, but she was on screen. Of course, years later, Metcalf would become one of the funniest women on TV on shows like Roseanne and The Big Bang Theory, but as far as SNL goes, she's pretty low on the list. Sorry.

133, 134, & 135. Ann Risley, Denny Dillon, and Gail Matthius (1980-81) - Here are three more mostly forgotten cast members from that 1980-81 season. Unlike some of the others mentioned earlier (see nos. 135 through 137) at least this trio had some memorable moments. Well, at least semi-memorable. Okay, maybe not memorable at all, but at least I remember these guys. Yeah, barely, but I do remember them. So, there's that.

131 & 132. Jim Downey & Alan Zweibel (1979-80) - After Belushi and Aykroyd left for greener pastures in Hollywood, Lorne Michaels needed some fresh blood to join Bill Murray, Jane Curtain, Laraine Newman, Garrett Morris, and Gilda Radner, so he went into the writer's room and pulled a few of the more camera-friendly ones out onto the stage. Two of these were Downey and Zweibel. Neither one lasted past this one season as a performer, though both would come back as writers in later seasons. Downey just left the show last year actually, and Zweibel helped to create such memorable characters as Gilda's Roseannadanna and Belushi's Samurai. He would also later go on to write a book and play about the life and death of his muse, Gilda Radner. As far as performers on the show though, neither Downey nor Zweibel are all that remembered.

130. Victoria Jackson (1986-92) - Basically, Jackson's only purpose on the show was to be the bubble-headed blonde bimbo in sketch after sketch after sketch. This was really a one note kinda career. After finally leaving the show, after six terrible seasons (at least she was terrible, she was actually surrounded by a talented cast) Jackson would go on to become an actual idiot. Granted, she was probably always an idiot, but in more recent days she has become a rabid right wing nut, making racist and homophobic remarks on each and every occasion she has the opportunity. Damn, this actually makes her tenure on the show look not that bad, in comparison. Yikes.

128 & 129. Christine Ebersole & Tony Rosato (1981-82) - These two were brought on after Dick Ebersol's seventh season reboot, but would both leave after that one season, without making all that big of a mark on the history of the show. Sure, they had some good celebrity impersonations during their short tenures, but nothing to write home about. Ebersole would go on to a slew of TV guest appearances, while Rosato would go on to a lifetime of mental problems, and an on again off again affair with the US penal system. Yup. Rosato does have the distinction of being the first SNL cast member to be born outside of North America. So, there's that. Yup.

126 & 127. Peter Aykroyd (1979-80) & Jim Belushi (1983-85) - So, after Belushi and Aykroyd left, one of the featured players to come in to fill the empty space, was Dan's little brother Peter. This Aykroyd never made the impact his brother did. Then, after a few more seasons, along came John's baby bro Jim. Again, Jim was no John. Meanwhile, as the younger Belushi would go on to some success (including an inexplicably successful sitcom called According to Jim), baby Aykroyd has made a career out of co-starring in his brother's movies. Both of these guys would later do the voices of Jake and Elwood Blues in a Blues Brothers animated series.

124 & 125. David Koechner (1995-96) & Jim Breuer (1995-98) - These guys pretty much hung around in order to play typical douchebags. Granted, they were good at playing these douchebags, but when you are good at being stupid and/or boring, you probably aren't going to shout that from any rooftops.

101 to 123. Pamela Stephenson, Terry Sweeney, Beth Cahill, Siobhan Fallon, Melanie Hutsell, Nancy Walls, Fred Wolf, Jerry Minor, Dean Edwards, Jeff Richards, Finesse Mitchell, Rob Riggle, Paul Brittain, Michaela Watkins, Jenny Slate, Tim Robinson, Brooks Wheelan, Noel Wells, John Millhiser, Beck Bennett, Sasheer Zamata, Colin Jost, and Michael Che - Okay, in order to speed things along a bit, here are 23 various cast members who are either rightfully forgotten or, in the case of the ones who are currently on the show, soon to be forgotten. These 23 players, including Terry Sweeney, the first openly gay cast member (Kate McKinnon of the current cast is the only other out member in SNL cast history), run from the mid 1980's right up until the current season. Granted, several of these cast members have gone on to bigger and better things (Rob Riggle, Michaela Watkins, Nancy Walls) and perhaps some of the current cast members still have a chance to impress (it may be somewhat unfair to judge them so early on) but I'm still lumping these 23 in together. As I said, just to speed things along. Now on with the top 100.

100. Ben Stiller (1989) - Yeah, that's right kids, Ben Stiller was a cast member on SNL. Actually, two years before he joined the cast, Stiller had made a short film which was shown in season 12. Cut to season 14, and Stiller came aboard as an official cast member. Stiller lasted exactly four episodes before calling it quits due to what he called creative differences. Yeah, after this, I guess he did some other stuff. Who knows?

99. Michael O'Donoghue (1975) - O'Donoghue was the first head writer for SNL, and appeared in the very first sketch ever done, and is actually the very first person seen on the show, wherein he plays an English language coach, teaching John Belushi's foreigner how to say phrases like "I would like to feed your fingertips to the wolverines." Granted, his writing contribution is much greater than his on screen persona (he was only a credited performer during season one), which is why he isn't higher up. O'Donoghue left the show after the third season, but would come back when Ebersol took over in early 1981. As the story goes, O'Donoghue, who loved dark and dangerous comedy, was fired after writing and setting up a sketch comparing NBC chief, Fred Silverman, to Adolph Hitler. The sketch itself, which never aired, was a massive undertaking, with a huge set design (including a Nazi-styled eagle clutching the NBC logo), the rumoured return of Belushi to play the NBC head, and  a proposed running time of twenty minutes. Now I would have loved to have seen that. O'Donoghue was also the reason SCTV great Catherine O'Hara was never on the show. O'Hara was meant to be in Ebersol's new cast but walked out during rehearsal due to O'Donoghue's demeaning attitude toward the actors.

98. Robin Duke (1981-84) - Duke was one of the fresh new faces in Dick Ebersol's season 7 reboot (only Eddie Murphy and Joe Piscopo were asked back from the failed sixth season). Duke had gone to high school with Catherine O'Hara, and it was O'Hara, after having walked out, who suggested Duke take her place on the show. She lasted on the show for three years, and is most remembered for playing Wendy Whiner, one half of the annoying couple, The Whiners (Piscopo was her equally annoying hubby in the recurring sketch). 

97. Danitra Vance (1985-86) - It took until season 11 for the cast to include a woman of colour as an actual cast member (Yvonne Hudson had bit parts in 8 episodes as a feature player in 1980), and even then, the poor comic was given very little to do. And what she was given to do was all stereotypical in the whole racial scheme of things. She had a hit on the show, singing a Barry Manilow-esque number titled, "I Play the Maids," satirizing the lack of quality roles for African-Americans in show biz. This number was highly ironic since Vance herself was experiencing that very same thing on SNL. The comic quit after just one season. She passed away in 1993, due to breast cancer. She was just 40 years old.

96. Paul Shaffer (1979-80) - Before he became David Letterman's band leader and sidekick in 1982, a position he still holds to this day, Shaffer could be found behind the keyboards of Saturday Night Live's house band. He spent five seasons doing this before being "promoted" to feature player during his final season on the show. His most notable appearances are with Bill Murray during his lounge singer sketches. Granted, he didn't get much to do on screen, but when he did, he was a blast.

95. Laura Kightlinger (1995-96) - Kightlinger was both a writer and a feature player for one season of the show. She did a killer Paula Poundstone impression. There's something you don't hear every day. Otherwise, her short tenure is mostly forgotten. The comic writer would later move on to writing for Will & Grace (as well as appearing on a few episodes) and in 2007, wrote and starred in her own series on IFC, called The Minor Accomplishments of Jackie Woodman. She has also written for Funny or Die.com, and has been known to date Jack Black as well.



90. to 94. Joan Cusack, Robert Downey, Jr., Randy Quaid, Anthony Michael Hall, & Damon Wayans (1985-86) - With the coming of season 11, after five years away from his own creation, Lorne Michaels was back at the helm. The returning hero brought aboard an entirely new cast to try to revitalize the dying show (it was meant to be canceled after season 10, but NBC head, Brandon Tartikoff, was a fan and kept the show going by hiring Michaels back). Several members of this new cast have already been talked of here (some of the mostly forgotten cast members earlier on the list) and some made a name for themselves at SNL, and will be talked about a bit higher in the rankings (Jon Lovitz coming soon), and then you have these five. All of these performers have gone onto better days. Quaid was actually already a star, as well as an Oscar nominee from the early 1970's, and Hall had just come off of The Breakfast Club (at seventeen on his debut episode, he is still the youngest cast member ever). Wayans would go onto TV and movie stardom and Cusack would as well (including her own Oscar nomination in 1988). I think that Downey, Jr. guy may have had some amount of success after SNL as well. As far as their brief runs on Saturday Night (out of the 11 new cast members of this season, only 3 made it to a second season, and none of these guys were amongst those three) all five of these talented actors were completely wasted. Completely!

89. Tom Schiller (1979-80) - Granted, Schiller's short one season jump from writer's room to center stage (or at least side of the stage) was not all that memorable, but the short films the guy put together for the show are some of the best things to ever play on SNL. One of these was the film, "Don't Look Back in Anger," wherein we see an aged Belushi, as the last living "Not Ready for Prime Time Player," a rather ominous thing indeed.

88. Charles Rocket (1980-81) - After Lorne Michaels left in 1980, the show was revamped (and as we surely know by now, terribly so) and a whole new cast was brought in. Charles Rocket was meant to be the centerpiece of the show, just as they had done with Chevy during the first season, and  tried to do with Bill Murray after Belushi and Aykroyd jumped ship in 1979. Well, this din't work out so well, now did it? Remember, this was the same season which gave us Eddie Murphy. On Rocket's final episode, just 12 episodes into the truncated season, he dropped the f-bomb, basically just to see what would happen. He was fired the next day , and crawled into obscurity after that. After years battling depression, Rocket took his own life in 2006.

87. Robert Smigel (1991-93) - Granted, during his official two season run as a feature player, Smigel was rarely seen on screen, but thanks to his long running animated shorts (The Ambiguously Gay Duo, among others) he gets a higher spot on the list than he would have otherwise gotten.

86. Tom Davis (1977-80) - Playing (unwillingly I am sure) the Garfunkle to Al Franken's Simon, Oates to Franklin's Hall, if you will, Tom Davis nonetheless was a talented writer and performer. Granted, he didn't get to show it that much on the show, but the few times he did, it was kinda priceless. Of course he was no Al Franken, a guy who sits much higher on our list.

84. & 85. Sarah Silverman (1993-94) & Janeane Garofalo (1994-95) - Here are a couple of funny ladies who SNL had no idea what to do with. Both acerbic comics at a time when SNL wasn't really all that acerbically-minded. And they are women as well, which has always been a sore spot when it came to Saturday Night Live. 1990's SNL was not a good place for talented women, as it was a boys club at the time, at least until Tina Fey empowered her gender a half a decade or more later. Talented and funny ladies indeed, but completely wasted at SNL.

83. Gilbert Gottfried (1980-81) - Since his one season on SNL (a season that many call one of, if not the worst), Gottfried has gone and done a whole hell of a lot of things in the comedy world. With his ridiculously mannered voice (something of a cross between a screech owl and a disappointed Jewish mother) Gottfried may not be the most palatable of comic tastes, but his foul-mouth Friar's Club banter is pretty fucking hilarious. Of course, the guy never did any of that on SNL, but still, he's not as forgettable as some. How's that for a rave review?

67. to 82. Tim Kazurinsky, Brad Hall, Gary Kroeger, Rich Hall, A. Whitney Brown, Julia Sweeney, Chris Elliott, Mark McKinney, Colin Quinn, Jay Mohr, Jay Pharoah, Aidy Bryant, Kyle Mooney, Mike O'Brien, Pete Davidson, and Leslie Jones - Okay, just to go ahead and speed things along again, her is a lump sum of a sixteen SNL'ers. From the often overlooked Kazurinsky to Gary Kroeger and his Donny & Marie make-out sessions with Julia Louis-Dreyfus to the interchangeable Hall boys (no relation) to the over-your-head intellectualism of A. Whitney Brown to the rather overpraised Julia Sweeney (Pat was funny, but what else did she ever do?) to the obnoxiously amusing Chris Elliott to McKinney's slumming to Jay Mohr's assholery to Colin Quinn's raspy fuck yous to all the so-called new kids on the block. Yup. Now I think we can move on with the list proper.

66. Ellen Cleghorne (1991-95) - An alum of Def Comedy Jam and In Living Color, Ellen Cleghorne joined the cast of SNL in season 17. Her most famous character was that of Afrocentric Weekend Update guest Queen Shenequa. Of course, as is often the case, SNL never really knew what to do with Cleghorne. She left the show to star in her own self-titled WB sitcom, which lasted just 12 episodes. In an episode of Family Guy, Stewie is heard asking if they ever found a suitable vehicle for Ellen Cleghorne. Sadly, they never did.

65. Brian Doyle-Murray (1979-82) - Just like Aykroyd and Belushi, Bill Murray also had a brother as a cast member. Yeah, big bro Brian didn't get all that much air time as a feature player during those lean years, and he is certainly not his brother (that guy's pretty high on our list), but you always have a blast watching him do his thing.

64. Joe Piscopo (1980-84) - Often considered a joke in retrospect, this second banana to Eddie Murphy (the second best cast member in a cast that really only had one good cast member!?) did do a fine job on the show. A much better job than he is usually given credit. Yeah, his Sinatra was outdone by Phil Hartman's a few years later, but it was still a damn good Frank...and he got to hang with Eddie Murphy too. You know, back when Eddie Murphy was still funny.

63. Horatio Sanz (1998-2006) - Probably the least professional of all then cast (save for maybe bud, Jimmy Fallon) Sanz made a habit of breaking into giggle fits in scenes. This could also be due to the fact that the guy was usually stoned (I'm guessing). But yeah, the guy did have his moments. He did come up with one of the best Christmas moments on TV (see pic below).

62. Kevin Nealon (1986-95) - Nealon was one of the new kids when the show finally pulled itself up from the ugly depths of the early 1980's. Granted, his average guy schtick usually got lost in the juicy goodness that were his equally fresh faced cast mates (Phil Hartman, Dana Carvey, Jan Hooks) but he did have some hits. He was a relatively good Weekend Update anchor, though cast mate Dennis Miller did it much better. But hey, the guy knew how to Pump...You...Up!

61. Tim Meadows (1991-2000) - Meadows was another one of those workhorses at SNL (see Chris Parnell and Will Forte, later in the list), who never got the credit they were due. The hardest working guy in the cast (and the one with the longest tenure until Darrell Hammond, another workhorse, broke that record), Meadows usually flew under the radar, but who doesn't love his Ladies Man? Okay, not the movie, the SNL skit. No one loves that movie.

60. Bobby Moynihan (2008-present) - One of the first of a new wave of cast members, Moynihan had been doing some comedy bits on various web series (one produced by Lorne Michaels, written by Seth Meyers, and co-starring Bill Hader and Jason Sudeikis) when he was cast on SNL. On the show, he has played about 1000 different characters, teh most memorable of which is his Drunk Uncle bit on Weekend Update. Oh yeah, and he was also Ass Dan, may he rest in peace.

59. Rob Schneider (1990-94) - Making copies. Yeah, Rob Schmeider is kind of a joke - and not in the good way. His post SNL film career is the thing of legend - and not in the good way. But while on SNL, as a member of the so-called "Bad Boy" clique that included Sandler, Rock, Spade, and Farley, Schneider was better than his post SNL career would have you think.

58. Chris Kattan (1996-2003) - The wild child of his time, Kattan had a lot of annoying characters, but they were charmingly annoying. Okay, that may just be a way of getting around characters like Mango and Mr. Peepers, and focusing on Kattan's strange charisma.

57. Nasim Pedrad (2009-14) - When Pedrad joined the cast in season 35, the Iranian born comedienne became just the fifth cast member born outside of North America. Her most notable celeb impressions were Kim Kardashian, Nicki Mnaj, and Arianna Huffington. Her most endearing original character was Bedelia, a teenager who would rather hang with her parents than her friends. After five seasons, Pedrad left the show to star in the sitcom Mulaney, created by and starring SNL writer John Mulaney. She probably had second thoughts after Mulaney was canceled almost immediately after it premiered.

56. Vanessa Bayer (2010-present) - The wide-eyed, sunny-faced disposition of Bayer is her best attribute. It allows her to play the schmarmiest of characters with equal amounts of pathos and hilarity. Her take on Miley Cyrus and her parody of Fox & Friends, are just two of many instances of such wide-eyed, sunny-faced hilarity.

55. Nora Dunn (1985-90) - Nora Dunn was one of just three holdovers after the majority of the new 1985 cast was let go (Dennis Miller and Jon Lovitz being the other two). Her most remembered character was one half of the Sweeney Sisters, a singing duo with Jan Hooks, but she will probably be remembered most for her troubles with Lorne Michaels and some of her cast mates. She was outspoken about the supposed misogyny running rampant on the show (an all-too real problem at SNL over the years) even boycotting an episode because of her reluctance to work beside host Andrew Dice Clay. That boycotted episode would be Dunn's last.

54. Abby Elliott (2008-12) - The cute-as-a-button Abby Elliot is sort of a legacy at 30 Rock. She is the first cast member to be the child of a former cast member (Chris Elliott), and on top of that, her grandfather (Bob Elliott, half of the comedy duo of Bob and Ray) appeared on the show in the 1970's. So yeah, she's a third generation SNL'er. But hey, she has talents all her own also, and shouldn't be thought of as mere legacy. Elliot could do a slew of celebrity impersonations, from Katy Perry to Rachel Maddow to her spot-on Anna Faris. Abby was one of the highlights of recent years, and it's a shame her tenure only lasted a short time, though it was four times as long as her one season dad.

53. Mary Gross (1981-85) - Her name aside, Mary Gross was adorable, and yet anotehr undervalued cast member. Mary did a great Dr. Ruth, but her best character was Alfalfa, opposite Eddie Murphy's iconic Buckwheat. Mary left teh show in 1985, along with teh rest of teh cast, and lackluster producer Dick Ebersol.

52. Norm Macdonald (1993-98) - My lovely wife questioned my placing Norm Macdonald this high on the list (I think she may have placed him in the 140 range) but dammit, I find the guy hilarious. Okay, maybe not top 50 hilarious, but still. Yeah, he didn't do many sketches, but his time as Weekend Update anchor was ofttimes brilliant...and ofttimes controversial. Eventually he was fired for his news antics. Yeah, the guy may have been an asshole, but I enjoyed his so-called controversial antics.

51. Garrett Morris (1975-1980) - Garrett is the only original "Not Ready For Prime Time Players" to miss out on the top 50. Sorry Garrett, but it's not your fault. Saturday Night Live has always had problems with writing good material for their African American cast members. Morris was usually stuck playing the drivers and waiters and pimps and criminals and such, while Chevy and John and Danny were getting all the good screen time. But even with this unfortunate stigma, Morris gave it his all.

48, 49. & 50. Harry Shearer (1979-80, 1984-85), Christopher Guest (1984-85), & Michael McKean (1994-95) - I've lumped these three guys together for the mere fact that they are Spinal Tap. As performers on the show, each had their moments (there is one sketch, probably completely forgotten by most, where McKean played a private eye named Bill Blake, that I fondly remember) and they even got to perform as Spinal Tap on one episode.

47. Casey Wilson (2008-09) - Casey Wilson, the first cast member to be born in the 1980's, only spent one season at studio 8H, and is probably mostly forgotten as even being a cast member, but I remember her as being funny on the show - even if I am the only one who thinks such a thing. Since SNL, Wilson has done pretty well for herself, starring in the sitcoms Happy Endings and currently in Marry Me, both created by her husband David Caspe.

46. Don Novello (1979-80, 1985-86) - Novello did one thing on the show, but he did it well. You see, Novello was better known as Father Guido Sarducci, the sardonic priest character he created. Novello played this character as if he was this character, and parlayed that into a career as Father Guido Sarducci in movies and television. Hell, he even got a record deal.

45. Chris Parnell (1998-2006) - Parnell was one of those workhorses of SNL. Never acting the star, he played character after character as if he were some sort of method character actor of 1950's Hollywood. One could even say that Chris Parnell was the Rod Steiger of Saturday Night Live. Parnell has kept such a career going in shows like 30 Rock and Archer.

44. Darrell Hammond (1995-2009) - Talk about your workhorses. Hammond spent a record 14 seasons at SNL, and once held the record for most characters played with 107 (a record broken last season by Kenan Thompson, At 53 when he left the show, Hammond is also the oldest SNL cast member ever. But hey, records aside, this workhorse may have also been the best dam Clinton on TV - and that includes the real Bill Clinton. More recently, Hammond has rejoined the show, taking the place of the late Don Pardo, as the show's announcer.

43. Billy Crystal (1984-85) - Like his cohort Martin Short, Crystal only spent one season at SNL (the same season at that), but his contribution makes it seem like he was there for years. Crystal, again like Short, was one of several already established comedians to come aboard in the mid 1980's, giving the show's production at the time the inevitable comparison to Steinbrenner's Yankees of the time. But yes, in his short time on the show, he did make a legacy for himself.

42. Dennis Miller (1985-91) - One of the few players to be asked back after the beyond disastrous 1985 season (Lorne Michaels first year back), Miller never did all that much in the sketch department, but his naturally snarky attitude helped made his tenure behind the Weekend Update desk was one of the best the show had ever seen. Yeah, the guy has since become a raving, right wing nutcase, but his days on Weekend Update are still fond memories.

41. Laraine Newman (1975-80) - Each cast has that inevitable one or two cast members who are talented, but who also fall through the cracks. Laraine Newman is one of those inevitable cast members. I mean really, how are you supposed to compete with the likes of Belushi and Gilda and Aykroyd and Murray, when trying to get airtime. But nevertheless, Newman had some great moments as one of the original "Not Ready for Prime Time Players."

40. Martin Short (1984-85) - Short, like Crystal, would only spend a single season at studio 8H, but his contribution, again like his one-season partner Crystal, makes it seem like he was there much longer. This one season on the show, gave Short the opportunity to extend the popularity of his SCTV persona to a much wider audience. It seems to have worked for the guy. His Ed Grimley (see pic just above) is a personal fave of the era.

39. Kenan Thompson (2003-present) - When joining the cast in season 29, the then 25 year old Kenan Thompson became the first cast member born after SNL had debuted. Thompson also holds the record for longest tenure of any African American cast member (breaking Tim Meadows record of 10 seasons) and for playing the most different characters (breaking Darrell Hammond's record of 107). Oh yeah, and Thompson is pretty funny too. I seriously cannot get enough of his talk show, What up With That.

38. Cecily Strong (2012-present) - I must admit to not having been a fan of Cecily Strong when she first appeared on SNL, but after watching her for awhile, I began to realize just how damn funny the lady happens to be. She is definitely one of the funnier and more talented performers in the current cast.

37. Cheri Oteri (1995-2000) - A tiny powerhouse of a performer, Oteri had many great moments in her five seasons of SNL, but my favourite (and probably everyone's favourite) is when she teamed with Will Ferrell to play those wonderfully ridiculous cheerleaders. Oteri was always a performer who put her all into her characters. There was never any halfway for Oteri. She played it balls to the wall.

36. Tracy Morgan (1996-2003) - Tracy, like many performers of colour on the show, never got as much screen time as their white counterparts (not just a theory, but a statement of fact), and therefore never really got to shine as much as he would have, could have, and should have. His Brian Fellow and Astronaut Jones characters were a blast though. I wish he had the opportunity to have others. Morgan's light really began to shine on 30 Rock, where he got to finally show his fantastic talent.

35. Ana Gasteyer (1996-2002) - Gasteyer was one hell of a performer and she had many memorable characters during her tenure on the show (her portrayal of Martha Stewart, Lilith Fairer Cinder Calhoun, her coupling with Will Ferrell as a pair of schmarmy singers) but her most memorable was as the co-host (along with Molly Shannon) of public radio show Delicious Dish. This was the recurring sketch that gave us Alec Baldwin hawking his Schweddy Balls. Yeah, this sketch ran fifteen different times over the years, but it was that one episode that everyone remembers.

34. Taran Killam (2010-present) - My second favourite member of the current cast, Killam is an hilarious performer, specializing in cool and charming freaks and outcasts. A great impersonator as well. His best character though is his colonial critic character from Weekend Update. I think this guy is just getting started, so in another 40 years, we may find him a bit higher on the list. All this and he is married to Cobie Smulders to boot.

33. Rachel Dratch (1999-2006) - Not to sound rude or anything, but Rachel Dratch is a rather funny looking person. I mean this in the most complimentary way. Dratch has always used this strange beauty of hers (and yes, it is a beauty!) to her great advantage. Playing weirdos and freaks, Dratch made a habit of of finding the funny in teh sad and sometimes pathetic. Her Debbie Downer is always a fave.

32. Will Forte (2002-10) - Forte, much in the same manner as Chris Parnell, was a workhorse of the show. He never got to shine like some of the more so-called vibrant performers surrounding him, but he did his job and he did it well. My favourite Forte moments though, have always been when he broke free and let his freak flag fly.

31. Jane Curtain (1975-80) - Surrounded by the likes of John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, and Gilda Radner, Curtain was, probably inevitably, one of the most overlooked cast members of her era. Highly talented, she laboured at acting the straight person to Gilda, Billy, and the gang, and probably never got to shine as much as she should have. Of course, none of this stops me from placing her almost in my top thirty. Of course, her work on Weekend Update (the first woman to helm the news show, and a huge influence on Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, when they anchored the Update desk) is probably more than enough to make up for all the other stuff.

30. Fred Armisen (2002-13) - Armisen often used his musical talents in creating his characters, and this paid off in him ranking this high on the list. His Weekend Update team-ups with Kristen Wiig, where they would make-up ridiculous songs on the spot, were a highlight of his 11 season tenure at studio 8H. Then there was his impersonation of President Obama. Though it was spot-on, many criticized Armisen, who is of Japanese, German, and Venezuelan descent, for his portrayal of the nation's first black president. Still though, controversy or not, Armisen did a damn fine job as the president.

29. Seth Meyers (2001-13) - Seth is the guy who has anchored the Weekend Update desk longer than any of 'em. 8 seasons behind the desk. Seth also took over head writing duties after Tina Fey departed. Seth is that clean cut guy who can be completely acerbic and biting, while at the same time posing with the kind of grin that makes him look like he just ate the family cat. Seth never did much else other than anchor the news (the few sketches he found himself in, he was almost always just a seat filler of sorts. But his work on Weekend Update was superb, and gets him into our top 30. He might have some sort of late night gig these days too.





28. Julia Louis-Dreyfus (1982-85) - Of course everyone knows Julia Louis-Dreyfus. From Seinfeld to The New Adventures of Old Christine to Veep, Julia is one of the most acclaimed television actors of her day. When she won her Emmy for Veep, she became the first person to win an Emmy for three different shows. But after all this stardom, people tend to forget she was once on SNL. Being that she was a member of the cast during its Lorne Michaels-less low spot, probably explains this forgotten early legacy. Just 21 when she first appeared on the show (the sixth youngest cast member ever) Julia's tenure may not have been overly memorable (due more to the poor writing during this low point, than to the comic's budding talent) but when she played Marie to Gary Kroeger's Donny, and their singing turned into a make-out session, it was SNL gold.

27. Kate McKinnon (2012-present) - Here she is folks. The highest ranked member of the current cast. Nominated for an Emmy last year (only Eddie Murphy, Amy Poehler, Bill Hader, and Kristen Wiig have managed this feat previously) and recently officially out and proud (just the second openly gay cast member), Kate McKinnon can play anyone and everyone. From a wild-eyed Ann Romney to a dead-on hilarious version of Justin Bieber to her own character, Olya Povlatsky, a Russian peasant woman ("Our only exports are homophobia and snow."). Simply put, McKinnon is awesome. So there!

26. Jimmy Fallon (1998-2004) - I think you might have heard of this guy. I know he doesn't get much media coverage these days (what is this guy up to anyway?) but you have probably heard his name dropped now and again. Seriously though, before the Tonight Show gig, before his other late night gig, little Jimmy Fallon, the boy who can do it all, was on SNL. A Weekend Update anchor for a bit, Fallon could (and still can) do pretty much any celebrity voice you could (or can) imagine. Yeah, he was just awful at staying in character on the live show, breaking down with the giggles more than anyone else on the show, but one could say that was an endearing quality in the budding superstar.

25. Andy Samberg (2005-12) - Basically, Samberg is the modern day Adam Sandler. Silly and immature, but with a raw talent that shines through all the silly immature behaviour, often using that same behaviour as part of the act, when playing his usually sophomoric characters. And I mean that in the most complimentary way possible. Samberg's even better at his musical stuff and digital shorts. He and Justin Timberlake doing Dick in a Box is what one might call legendary.

24. David Spade (1990-96) - Spade is the quintessential snarky, wink wink kinda guy. His Weekend Update Hollywood Minute segments were pure freakin' gold, in that same snarky, wink wink kinda way. Spade has parlayed this sardonic persona into a post SNL career that has seen highs (his snide playing on Just Shoot Me) and lows (can we all say Joe Dirt?) but his five seasons on SNL have seen more highs than lows. Of course, this is helped by his playing to his snarky strengths.

23. Jason Sudeikis (2005-13) - Sudeikis is sort of that kinda douchy sports guy from college combined with that smart kid from high school, rolled into one charming everyman kinda bud. Sharp-witted and often quite biting, Sudeikis made an SNL career out playing the too-smart-for-his-own-good character, but always did it with a cheeky grin. His portrayal of a quite insane Joe Biden is heee-larious and a half, and his half of the A-Hole Couple (with Kristen Wiig) and the red track suited dancer on What Up With That, just add to the dude's splendid repartee. He may never have been the big star, but like Forte and Parnell, he knew how to charm the audience, and he did it over and over and over again.

22. Al Franken (1977-80, 1985-86, 1987-95) - Having three tenures on the show, Franken is the guy who can connect the cast of Belushi and Gilda to the cast of Spade and Sandler. Originally part of the comedy duo of Davis & Franken (with the late Tom Davis), Franken was meant to succeed Michaels as producer when he left in 1980, but NBC's Fred Silverman disliked his attitude (Franken mocked the network on air many times), so he left when Michaels did. Franken came into his own during his third and final tenure on the show. This was when he created his Stuart Smalley persona. Yeah, he parlayed this into one of the worst SNL films ever made (and boy, is that saying a lot!), but he was also one of the most acerbic, biting writers/performers in the show's history. And hey, he became a kick ass US Senator as well.

21. Jon Lovitz (1985-90) - Lovitz, the epitome of the lovable loser, never seems to get the respect his comic talents deserve. Sort of the Rodney Dangerfield of SNL, Lovitz made a habit of playing jerks and A-holes, and was damn good at it. Perhaps too good. Perhaps so good that audiences found him unappealing because he played such unappealing characters on the show. At the live 40th anniversary special this past weekend, Lovitz was the butt of several jokes. Of course these jokes were all in fun (it's not like his former castmates think of him the way Chevy's do - more on that later) as the loser part is prefaced with the lovable moniker.

20. Chris Rock (1990-93) - Chris Rock has joked on occasion that he never got to do much on SNL, and like most other black performers (Eddie Murphy aside), he is goddamn right. Rock is a multi-talented performer, and it was more than a mere shame how he was wasted on SNL. Yeah, when he did get a sketch on the air, it was pretty goddamn fantastic, though often too esoteric for some viewers. This is probably part of why Rock never seemed to fit in at SNL. Like Belushi and Franken before him, Rock was ahead of his time. Sometimes, like in the case of Belushi, such a thing works, other times (look at the SNL career of Michael O'Donoghue or Andy Kaufman) the performer just seems like a freak. Luckily Rock has made a career for himself after his three under-used seasons at SNL.

19. Maya Rudolph (2000-07) - One of the few cast members of colour to thrive on the show, Maya Rudolph was as versatile as they come. Her over-the-top takes on over-the-top real life characters like Beyonce, Whitney Houston, and Donatella Versace are equal parts terrifying and hilarious. With her mixed heritage (her father is Jewish, her mother African American) Rudolph is able to play pretty much any ethnicity with ease. This is probably part of the reason she never had the unfair, but all too real, handicap of being a person of colour on SNL. And on top of all that (not that it counts toward her ranking as cast member) she has parlayed well into films - and not just silly post SNL stuff, but indie and arthouse cinema as well. Of course, this probably comes from being married to American auteur Paul Thomas Anderson.

18. Chris Farley (1990-95) - Fat man in a little coat. Okay, that's a line from Farley's film career, but I had to open with it. On SNL, Farley took on the role once held by Belushi. Granted, Belushi was never actually fat, so much as husky, but still, the idea of a large man (and Farley was definitely a large man) being as acrobatic as Farley was (and Farley was definitely an acrobatic man) helped to make Farley an SNL great. Sure, he never had the depth or style of Belushi (but who does?), but he could do his thing with the best of 'em. Farley, along with Sandler, Schneider, Rock, and Spade, was one of the so-called "Bad Boys of SNL." His Matt Foley, Motivational Speaker character was one of the best characters on SNL. His Chippendale dance off with Patrick Swayze is a thing of legend. He is sadly missed.

17. Molly Shannon (1995-2001) - An obvious devotee of the late great Gilda Radner, Molly Shannon's very physical comedy stylings made her a star. In fact, it made her a superstar! Yeah, I went there. There was one episode, while playing her superstar fave, Mary Katherine Gallagher, that Molly licked Aerosmith's Steven Tyler from foot to head. From Tyler's reaction, this was probably never done in rehearsal. This was the kind of thing Molly Shannon did, and did well. The girl was a hilarious freak who wasn't afraid of anything.

16. Adam Sandler (1991-95) - Many could, and I think many have, say that Adam Sandler is a no talent hack, and if one were to look at the guy's cinematic oeuvre, and films like Jack and Jill and You Don't Mess With the Zohan, you probably wouldn't be wrong. Yes, he has made quality films too (Punch-Drunk Love, and...um, well Punch-Drunk Love) but most of his film work is...um, well, let's just move on. Anyway, this list, and Sandler's position on it, is based on what he did on SNL. And let's face it, no matter how many characters the guy played on the show, he will always be best known (and rightly so) for his creation of The Chanukah Song. Hell, the damn thing has even become a holiday staple on radio stations around the country. That's enough to get Sandler into our top 20.

15. Jan Hooks (1986-91) - This one may be somewhat of a surprise. Hooks is possibly the most overlooked cast member in SNL history, and damn it, it's about time she gets her due. Back in 1985, fresh from her stint on HBO's Not Necessarily the News, Hooks was a finalist to make the SNL cast. Ultimately she was turned down in favour of Joan Cusack. The following year though, Hooks did come aboard, and with fellow new cast mates like Dana Carvey and Phil Hartman, brought the then-flailing show back to prominence. Hooks did a lot of characters during her five years on the show, but my favourite of all her sketches was one where she played a diner waitress opposite host Alec Baldwin. It was both funny and touching. An incredible lady, Hooks passed away this past year, and the world is a little bit less funny because of her passing.

14. Bill Hader (2005-13) - One of the most versatile performers on the show, Hader can pretty much impersonate anyone. Anyone. From Pacino to Charlie Sheen to Dr. Oz to James Carville to his priceless Vincent Price. Hader has played some great originals too. His chain smoking Italian talk show host and sportscaster, Greg the Alien are two of my faves. Of course no one can talk about Hader without talking about his character of Stefon, probably the most iconic character of the last decade. Overall, Hader just seems like a cool guy to hang with. A big freaky guy, but a cool guy also. And hey, the guy has proven he can do drama as well.

13. Kristen Wiig (2005-12) - Wiig, like Gilda Radner and Molly Shannon before her, is one of those great female comics who are willing to be as physical as any man, any day. She has also been nominated for 4 Emmy Awards, more than anyone else in SNL history. Anyhoo, from the strange child Gilly to Kat from the Garth & Kat sketch with Fred Armisen, to such celeb impressions as Suze Orman, Kathie Lee Gifford, Drew Barrymore, and (my fave) Bjork, Wiig was a blast on the show, and has parlayed that into a sincerely successful post SNL film career, including some brave indie choices.

12. Will Ferrell (1995-2002) - Like a big dumb, yet lovable lunkhead, Ferrell has played many great characters on SNL. His ability to let himself go, and let the madness take over, has always been Ferrell's strongest attribute. Whether he is clanking on his cowbell or cheering the most ridiculous of cheers or running around in just his speedos or tighty whities (the guy loved doing that), Ferrell could out-crazy all of 'em. He also had the ability to crack up any of his cast mates with just a wink of his eye or a wiggle of his nose - and not just Jimmy Fallon. And as for his George Bush...classic. Probably the best presidential impression ever on the show. And that's all due to...strategery.

11. Tina Fey (2000-2006) - Sure, she didn't do all that many sketches, but her tenure on Weekend Update (one of the best ever) is more than enough to get Tina Fey into the top 11. When she came on as head writer, Fey helped to bring back the show from its floundering post-Hartman/Carvey/Sandler/Myers years, and also helped to make the show the place to be for strong and funny women, something the show had always had a problem with before Tina. But it's more than just her writing skills (this list is about the on air personalities) that places Tina this far up on the list. Her biting, sardonic take on current events on Weekend Update and her stellar portrayal of Sarah Palin, make Tina Fey one of the best performers ever on SNL.



10. Dana Carvey (1986-93) - Carvey was one of the new kids on the block back in 1986, when after years of struggle, SNL became "Must See TV" once again. His ability to impersonate just about anyone, along with his creation of such characters as Garth Algar and The Church Lady, and his dual politicizing of Papa Bush and Ross Perot, made Carvey a household name. And watching him at the 40th anniversary special this past weekend, he still seems to be the same fun-loving funny guy. Isn't that special?

9. Gilda Radner (1975-80) - You probably cannot find even a single female comic under the age of 50, who does not include Gilda as one of, if not their biggest influence. Gilda could do it all, and make it look so damn easy. A hugely talented comic, Gilda was also one of the most beloved of all SNL cast members. It was, of course, a tragedy when she finally succumbed to cancer at the age of 42, but luckily we still have all those great clips and great characters of hers to get us through the loss. And I think that is what Gilda would want. Not tears, but laughs. And damn, could that lady make us laugh.

8. Phil Hartman (1986-94) - As I've already talked about in the sections on Carvey and Nealon and Hooks, it was a last minute, hail Mary kinda move when the 1986 cast was announced. Bringing the show back from imminent cancellation, Phil Hartman was an integral part of the show's late 1980's comeback success. His portrayal of both Reagan and Clinton made him a presidential double threat. A member of the improv group, The Groundlings (as were many of his fellow SNL'ers, and also the troupe where he helped Paul Reubens develop his Pee Wee Herman persona) Hartman was like an improv machine. He was also the show's central heartbeat, so much so that Sandler nicknamed him The Glue. We lost Hartman in 1998 (murdered by his wife) but, like Gilda, we can still watch the laughs.

7. Chevy Chase (1975-76) - I am guessing, if you were to ask any of Chevy's former cast mates their opinion, he probably would not be quite this high. In fact, according to most tales, he may actually end up in dead last. But this has nothing to do with his talent, and everything to do with the guy's ego. But hey, the guy was funny, and became the de facto star of the show that first season. Then he left to become a movie star. Sure, he had films like Foul Play and Fletch, and the first Vacation, and his work on Community was good, but yeah, that movie career is sort of a joke. But still, none of this changes the fact that he was damn funny during his one season on SNL. He pretty much created Weekend Update, and everyone from Jane Curtain to Dennis Miller to Seth Meyers to Tina and Amy to Jimmy Fallon and Brad "Freakin'" Hall owe the guy a debt of gratitude for that alone. Actually, Chevy was probably the only original Not Ready for Prime Timer, who knew what he should have been doing in front of the camera. This may not make him the best (there are still a couple originals coming up on the list) but it did make him the star.

6. Dan Aykroyd (1975-79) - If Chevy was the star, Aykroyd was the anti-star. Belushi's best bud and the show's token head banger of sorts. Aykroyd loved being on stage, his cast of characters, often leaning toward the slimy, used car salesman direction, were proof of how good he was at it. Yet, at the same time, Danny was just as comfortable riding his motorcycle on the sidewalks of lower Manhattan. He wasn't afraid of anything, and along with Belushi, he helped lead the dangerous side of SNL into the limelight. The original bad boys of SNL, indeed. Danny was also whip smart (I'm sure he still is) and could probably sell a blind man a subscription to Playboy, if he were so inclined. Dan the man, indeed!

5. Amy Poehler (2001-08) - As Saturday Night Live has always had a problem knowing how to showcase the women on the show, it is probably understandable if no female cast member made the top five. It's unfair, as was (and still is, though to a purposefully lesser degree) their treatment on the show, but let's face facts - the boys got most of the juicy airtime, and therefore, most of the recognition. But when a woman was allowed to shine on the show, none shone brighter than Amy Poehler. Yup, Amy is our highest ranking lady, and she even made the top five, to boot. Anyhoo, Amy not only was one of the best Weekend Update anchors (her and Tina together were pure freakin' magic) but she could also command sketch after sketch and character after character, whether it was the girl with one leg or Hillary Clinton herself. Poehler is probably the smartest, wittiest cast member the show has ever seen, and her post SNL career has just gone on to prove that very same thing.

4. Eddie Murphy (1980-84) - When Eddie came aboard, it was at that transitional time just after Lorne Michaels left, but before Dick Ebersol came on board. It was a whole new thing and everything was against the show, and its brand new cast, actually making it to another season. Well, as we all know by now, most of that cast did not make it to that next season. But Eddie did. And Eddie became a superstar because of it. Such a big star that he actually hosted the show while still a member of the cast. Imagine that. Eddie was a superstar, and as the fifth biggest box office actor of all time, he would eventually have the most successful movie career of anyone in SNL history. Yeah, even more so than Robert Downey, Jr.

3. Mike Myers (1989-95) - While  my wife and I were discussing this list, and the whole SNL 40th anniversary hoopla, my lovely wife made the statement that Mike Myers' Wayne Campbell may very well be the most iconic character in the show's history. Ya know what, she may very well be right...damn right! Myers was such a pro on the show too. He was always the biggest of perfections. Probably second only to Lorne Michaels himself. Of course this perfectionism has given Myers a reputation of not being fun to work with, but that doesn't change the fact that the guy may very well be a comic genius. The second coming of Peter Sellers. From Wayne to Linda Richman to his kid characters of Phillip and Simon to Dieter (Touch my monkey!), Mike Myers is easily one of the best SNL cast members ever. In fact, I'd rank him right around number three. Now onto the top two.

2. Bill Murray (1976-80) - After Chevy ran off to Hollywood, Billy Martin came in and became the very first new kid on the block. Murray was the polar opposite of Chevy. While Chevy was the class president and quarterback, Billy was the class clown. And what a clown he could be. probably the SNL'er with teh best post show career and persona, Bill Murray has a habit of somehow being the dorkiest and the coolest guy in any room he enters. He is still like that today. His gaggle of characters while on the show, from Todd the ultimate nerd, opposite his girlfriend at the time, Gilda, to his lovably sleazy lounge singer, managed to give him that dorky cool persona from the very beginning. While Belushi and Aykroyd did all the so-called heavy lifting, Murray rambled in and became both the class clown AND the new quarterback - and he even got to date the cheerleader as well. But alas, as cool and as great and as smooth and suave as Bill Murray was, is , and always will be, he is still number two on our list. Which means...

1. John Belushi (1975-79) - I almost hate having to agree with Rolling Stone on this one, but there is no denying it, Belushi is the best. Don't even try to deny it! He was not only a great comic, but he also had a method to his method madness, and perhaps thought he might be the next Brando, so much so that he even played Brando on the show, perhaps better than Brando himself could have ever done it. From his Samurai to his Killer Bee to his brilliant (and some may say crazed) impersonation of Joe Cocker, even performing on stage with Cocker, to he and Danny transforming into The Blues Brothers, Belushi was a master at his craft. There was one sketch I remember with zeal, where Belushi played Sam Peckinpah, and his antics on stage (Peckinpah was as crazy as Belushi) were some of my favourite moments ever on the show. One inevitably wonders what would have become of Belushi's brilliant career if he had only lived.

That's it gang. See ya 'round the web.