Monday, 6 July 2020

RIP Mr Reiner

Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner

A week today we lost a comedy legend, Mr Carl Reiner.

I was sad, I still am. I'm not sure I have the right to be, but I am, so there you go. I only interviewed Mr Reiner once, it was over the phone, he was lovely and his memory perfect. His hearing was the only thing that gave any clue that he was in his elder years, either that or it was my mousey voice, a bad line, or all three, but we muddled through.

Of course, I interviewed Mr Reiner about John Candy, they had worked together on Summer Rental in 1985. Candy, in his first real lead role, directed by Reiner, was a perfect combination. Believe it or not, the film was done and dusted in just three months with budget to spare - totally unheard of in Hollywood.

Reiner inspired Candy so much, not only was he working with a genius - the man behind The Dick Van Dyke Show, director of classics such as The Jerk and Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid, he was also working with a true mensch and World War ll veteran. Reiner showed Candy the ropes of directing, so much so it was the first time Candy thought about directing for the screen himself (and he would, much later on with his directing debut, Hostage for a Day).
John Candy and Carl Reiner on the set of Summer Rental

When I spoke to Reiner, he said the first thing that struck him about Candy was how in love he was with his family. Then he commented, "When I heard he had died I couldn't believe it, he was so full of life, how could he be dead?" Well, I know Reiner was 98 years old, but I could hear myself saying that exact same phrase, I actually thought he was going to last forever. I guess the secret to a fulfilling life is happiness, love and laughter, Reiner had that in spades.

When I first tried to contact Mr Reiner for an interview I got nowhere, I tried every contact I could find, the only thing I didn't do was tweet him (he wasn't actually on twitter when I started my search - yes I looked on and off for two years). Then, just as I was about to give up I noticed he had joined Twitter and I sent him a tweet, "I'm writing a book about John Candy, please can I interview you?", no chance I thought, but at least I had exhausted all routes. Within five minutes I had a DM from Reiner himself, telling me to contact his assistant to arrange an interview. Holy shit!

Carl Reiner 
A tweet, a simple cheeky one-off tweet and I was going to be chatting to comedy royalty! Not only that, but Reiner's office also helped me get an interview with Reiner's best friend, Mr Mel Brooks! I hit the jackpot. By these two guys giving me a chance I was suddenly being taken more seriously, they didn't know me, and yet they helped me, I will be eternally grateful.

Just like John Candy, Carl Reiner will live forever.

My heart is with his family and his dear friend Mr Brooks.

RIP Carl and thanks, John will be thrilled to see you.

To you all,

I hope you are safe and well. These are some crazy times we are living through at the moment, be good to yourselves and each other.

With much love as always,
Tracey xx

Wednesday, 4 March 2020

26 Years and Counting

I'm always sad when the 4th March comes round again, it means another year without John on this planet, that clocks up to 26 so far. However, last weekend, Home Alone, Uncle Buck and Planes Trains and Automobiles were on TV and he seemed as present as ever.

John is still bringing love and laughter.

Sadly, over the last 12 months, we have also lost two wonderful people that I interviewed for the book. Caroll Spinney (aka Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch) spread his yellow wings and flew off in December 2019, and my dear friend Patty Ferraro, who I interviewed about working on Only the Lonely passed away literally a month ago. Both, like John, leave a lasting legacy.

My hour with Caroll was pretty magical, aside from his John stories, he was so wise and sweet, he spoke to me in Big Bird's voice at one stage and I felt like I was five years old again. I told him of my disappointment that I had heard Miss Piggy and Kermit the Frog were getting a divorce, without missing a beat he told me not to worry - "It was just a storyline"!

I found Patty and her sister, Marie, completely by chance, on an old Facebook thread where they were talking about working on Only the Lonely - I thought I would chance my luck and send them a message. It paid off. They gave me some great stories as well as their friendship. Patty was hilarious and would message me late at night (my time), give me commentary on the world, old stories from her time as a Chicago cop (those sisters really kicked some ass, true heroes) and counselled me many times. My heart is with her beloved sister Marie and daughter Ally. I will really miss Patty, she was a one-off, RIP my friend and thanks.

With regards to John, I hope he's caught up with both of them, I hope he doesn't mind me being so curious about him,  I'm pretty sure Patty will vouch for me.

So I guess on a sad day like today, we need to remember the love of those we have lost, be grateful that we had them and realise that living on and telling stories about them is part of their legacy, and ours.

Big love to you all
Orange Whip?

Tracey x

Thursday, 31 October 2019

Happy Birthday Mr Candy

69! John would have been 69 years of age today, instead, he is 43 forever.

As well as it being John's birthday, it's also Halloween and let's face it, it ain't Halloween without Candy! I recently read that John enjoyed Halloween more than he did his birthday, he liked to make things about everyone else instead of about himself. He loved dressing up, he loved spending time with his kids, entertaining, I imagine he made Halloween just magical.

Make sure you go and watch that Candy movie today, share that meme, reminisce about your favourite movie of his, send some love in his direction.

I love some of the old traditions of Halloween. The Day of the Dead - when the astral and earth plane is meant to be at their closest, those who have passed are celebrated as it's believed they visit us. What a lovely tribute, celebrating all those we have lost with a party! Samhain is more Pagan- the thanking and welcoming of the harvest and the darker part of the year. Either way, the coming together warms my heart, and since it's John's birthday it always makes me feel a little bit closer to him too.

In tribute to John, I am just about to release a new mini-book, on 4th November via Amazon, called The A to Z of John Candy. It has been beautifully illustrated by my friend, Gary McGarvey, or Horse, (as his design company is known). My dear old friend, Joe Shooman, stepped up to edit for me again, and Rhys Perry wiped the tears and gave words of encouragement as usual, and well the result is beautiful and something that I'm very proud of. Chock full of facts and trivia, I'm hoping it is a lovely addition to any Candy fan's collection, it's worth it for the art alone.

Writing The A to Z of John Candy was great fun, you'll even find some facts that aren't included in Searching For Candy. Find out about John's connection with Donald Duck, Divine stories and the secret to those Uncle Buck pancakes!

Finally, I would like to thank you for all your support this year. Usually, in John's birthday post I would mention the biography and how I hoped it would be out next year, this time I don't have to do that because it's now in existence. Thank you to all who have bought, read or reviewed it, it really means a lot.

So big love and a happy birthday to John and a Happy Halloween to everyone else.

Much love as always,
Tracey xx

Monday, 5 August 2019

Who Wants to be Mary Poppins Anyway? Uncle Buck Rules

I love seeing the John Candy memes fly around social media, I always get a kick out of them. One of the new kids on the block is, "I always thought when I had kids I'd have it together like Mary Poppins, but turns out I'm more like Uncle Buck". Is that insinuating it's a bad thing?

As a kid I always wanted an Uncle Buck. Okay Mary Poppins was alright, but she was quite straight laced. I would have loved to have rode a carousel horse, but I don't want a spoonful of sugar to make my medicine go down, I'd much rather go bowling, eat ice cream and have someone cook me giant pancakes and garbage.

Okay Poppins would ensure your house was clean, she had no problems trying to get the goddamn washing machine to work, your socks would never be microwaved, but where is the fun in that? If your ex does the dirty on you, you don't want someone breaking out into a rendition of Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!, you want someone to take out their ass with a golf ball.

If anyone sees this meme and thinks, 'that's me', congratulations, you are a shit load of fun to be around, you will gain respect for all the right reasons.

Anyway, who was really the one unable to commit? Poppins never hung around - she would soon move on, Uncle Buck is for life.

In other news I did a book signing at Hoo Fest - Comic Con On the Farm this weekend and had an
awesome time, thanks to all involved! The book is going well, if you've read it and not reviewed it yet I would love to hear what you think. It's not everyone's cup of tea and that's okay, but hopefully, if nothing else, you'll love the John Candy stories you'll find within.

I've been working on another book related to John that will be out before Christmas. I have also started working on my next Searching For... I'll share more info about that a little further down the road.

I hope you are all well, big love and thanks for your support as always,

Tracey xxx

PS If you haven't bought Searching For Candy yet and you fancy a copy, it's available worldwide on Amazon

Sunday, 14 April 2019

Floating through space

Hi everyone,

As you probably already know I have finally released the book! Phew! Well I had a sigh of relief and two minutes of pride, then I turned into the biggest ball of anxiety. Would anyone buy the book? Would anyone like it? Would John like it if he could read it? Argh! So I stopped writing blog posts and just worried instead.

I figured I needed to break that habit, so here I am.

So far the book has done OK, I've sold some, I've had some lovely reviews, I've had the odd one that wasn't so great and that's OK too.

I think my biggest thrill has been John's friends and colleagues Rob Salem, Juul Haalymeyer and Jonathan O'Mara telling me that I portrayed John well -  the love shined through and that means everything.

I've been lucky enough to talk to some great people about the book, including Jim Hawkins (listen here), Mark Woodyatt (listen to the Mark and Me podcast here), been interviewed by Liam Pritchard (read here) and featured on the Franky Slawson show (you can check him out here).

I did a lovely book launch at Shrewsbury Library (thanks to all who came, and to the library for accommodating me).

Press wise I then got stuck. It's like I'm waving at people and no one can see! I'm a nobody, I get that, the competition out there is fierce, but John, John is very much a somebody and he deserves more - so on that front I feel like I'm failing.

So here is my plea. If you can share or RT or spread the word in some way please do. If you work in journalism, you blog, have a podcast, a radio show and would like to chat about the book or review it please get in touch.

Meantime I'm working on a second edition that should hopefully be released next year with even more stories and interviews, if you read this and you have a John Candy story you would love to share please get in touch with me! I also have another book I'm planning - if you love John I'm pretty sure you will also love my next subject, but it's going to take some money, so I'm saving for that one at the moment.

I guess all that is left for now is to say how much I appreciate everyone who has supported me so far, it means the world and I am so very grateful.

If you would like to grab the book you can find it here Amazon Canada, Amazon USA, Amazon UK and anywhere else you can get Amazon, just check your national site!

Big thanks and love to you all, I promise to write soon (maybe with an unpublished story from my interviews about John!)

Tracey xx

Monday, 4 March 2019

25 Years On

Picture by Odandiee
Dear John

Well you should see the world today, full of love for you, it's like you are still here. And you are. I believe that.

Time means nothing when you leave such a legacy.

The impact you have made will never be lost. Millions of people still admire and respect you, you still crease us with laughter and make us cry with an expression. You should see all the famous twitterati talking about you - I wonder if you ever knew just how much of an influence you would have in the entertainment world and beyond?

For me, you are an inspiration. Your kindness makes me want to be a better human being. Thanks for getting me through the last seven years, I'm not sure I would still be here without you.

Sending big love to you, your family, friends and fans.

Thank you John, I hope I've done you proud,

Tracey xx

Saturday, 15 December 2018

It's Chrrrriiiiissssssttttmmmmaaaasssssss!

It’s Chhhhhhhrrrrrrriiiiiiiisssssssssssssttttttttmmmmaaaaaaaaasssssssssssssss (well nearly). 

I love the food, the get togethers, the good spirit, the overeating of chocolate and some of my favourite movies being played on the TV (I’m so old fashioned, I still love watching them the old school way, it reminds me of being a kid). ‘I bet six bucks and my right nut’ that there are going to be some Candy classics on over the holidays... Uncle Buck, Cool Runnings and of course, Home Alone. With that in mind I thought you might like to read an edited excerpt of my forthcoming book ‘Searching For Candy’ to get you in the mood. 


Polka, polka, polka 

Home Alone - as we know - is about a child, Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin), from a large family, accidently being left behind at Christmas time whilst the family go on vacation (due to a head count error). The whole film is then about Kevin coping on his own and also defeating some pesky house burglars determined to break into his home, whilst his family, mother in particular (played by Catherine O’Hara) desperately tries to get home to her son even though there are no flights. 

Hughes asked John to do him a favour and have a cameo part in the film as Gus Polinski – the Polka King of the Northwest who was travelling with his band the “Kenohsa Kickers” and is the sweet man that offers Kate McCallister a lift back to her son after hearing her plea in the airport. Hughes in fact offered John 1% of the royalties from Home Alone, however John advised he was doing it for Hughes, not for the money and kindly declined his offer. In hindsight he turned down a huge payday as Home Alone is the biggest grossing comedy of all time, cue the John Candy shrug of the shoulders and laugh.

John literally filmed his scenes in Home Alone in less than 24 hours whilst a driver was waiting in the car park ready to take him to his next job. The Kenosha Kickers (John’s band) were actually Eddie Korosa Jr and the “Boys From Illinois”. They got the job as Home Alone was being filmed near to Chicago where Korosa’s parents owned a very famous polka bar called “Baby Doll Polka Club” since 1954. 

Korosa Jr. remembers spending a wonderful 18 hours filming with John, he told me; 

“During scene set up I would take requests from John to play and sing polkas. While setting up we had most of the crew singing ‘Beer Barrel’ polka, ‘In Heaven There is No Beer’ polka, we even did the ‘Chicken Dance’. 

“We got yelled at by Director, Chris Columbus, for having too much fun! He wanted us to stop playing. John Hughes was there and requested us to play one more polka. Fun!” 

Korosa remembers that John was just so kind and talked to everyone, every single band member and told the funniest jokes. 

There was a recent internet theory originating from Reddit that John’s character, Gus, may actually have been the devil. For starters Kevin’s mum is pleading for someone to help her get home and declares “If I have to sell my soul to the devil himself I will get home to my son” when John’s character Gus pips in. Gus also plays the clarinet - the Devils choice of instrument is always woodwind according to the bible. The fact that they meet in the crossroads of Scranton Airport (to me this is tenuous, but lets keep going) means that Gus could be a Crossroads Demon. Apparently if you call the Devil at a crossroad he will come, I’m going to take people’s word for that, I don’t feel like I have to test the theory out! 

I think both Johns (Candy and Hughes) would marvel at this thought and laugh it off without commenting either way. Maybe I shouldn’t bring up that Hughes turns Del Griffiths into the Devil in Planes, Trains and Automobiles? As both Del and Neil are in a near death truck sandwich after Del is driving up the motorway on the wrong side, Neil looks at Del and Del is cackling, cloaked in red, adorned with horns. Maybe there is something in this after all? 

Ya know who also wears red? 


Whether you believe in him or not I hope you have a very Happy Holidays! I would like to thank you for your ongoing support this year. I’m also over the moon to announce ‘Searching for Candy’ will be out in Spring 2019, with huge thanks to ‘Team Candy’ - Joe Shooman, David Morgan, Rhys Perry and Horse. 

Merry Christmas ya filthy animals, see you on the other side, 

Big love to you all, 

Tracey xxx