Friday, September 30, 2005

Buy My X-Men!!

In order to pay for this new amp, I need to sell off my comics. My entire X-Men collection is on ebay here. I'm also selling a couple of hardcover Marvel Masterworks but you can see those by clicking on 'View seller's other items'.

Comment Contest Winner!

And here is the prize. In keeping with the theme of the contest, the winner will receive one guitar string. No envelope. Can you pick the gauge? Screw you, I pick. It's a .046 D'Addario string, a low 'E' note. Isn't that exciting? Isn't it SOMETHING CRAPPY?

So what won? There were 18 official votes posted. I did get a lot of additional responses on message boards but unfortunately I had to disqualify those from the contest. This blog is only where votes counted to win. And the final tally is:


The winner is AMP! By a wide margin. In fact, Doom tied with people that just wanted to talk about nothing.

So who won? Well, that was tough. We had a lot of strong entries. Even dfx tring to post the same link three times was funny. But Murphy stood out from a very competitive pack. His post was compelling, had an argument all the way through, made a comprimise at one point, and made me laugh four times. Congratulations, Murphy. You win the SOMETHING CRAPPY STRING!!!

But we got a second place! Most of the Dr. Doom votes went a little over the top, which I liked. But doom doom doom doom sneaklily won that category. Why? Because he slipped in his own URL: http://www.jon-is-a-fool-if-he-doesn' which I never saw until I rolled over his name. If he actually had a website he would have won. I have no idea who this is but I'm calling him 'he' since he was assuming the role of Voctor Von Doom. He wins a G.I. JOE GUN. The teeny tiny kind you lose immediately. Congratulations!

Both winners are encouraged to post acceptance speeches. If I get their addresses I will mail out their prizes post haste.

As for me, I've already followed your advice. I've cancelled Doom and bought this on ebay. I'm sure we'll be very happy together. It should be shipping now and you might be able to hear it at our next show. And know, down deep in your heart, that you had something to do with it.

Thanks everyone for playing!

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Comment Contest ends at midnight!

You heard the man. Cast your votes!

Mosquitoes= Bastards

Everyone has a mortal enemy (except Bart Simpson, he has two). I have a species.

I hate mosquitoes. Blindingly. I wish they would all just die and if they did, I'm sure the rest of the world would be happier. Even spiders that eat them can get by on flies. They are bastards and there's not a good one in the bunch. They wouldn't give you a quarter to call an ambulance if you were on fire. They're all girls and somehow that makes them meaner. They are living proof that a girl can be a bastard. Their name sounds like a good Mexican dish but they are actually very very bad. They carry diseases and they fly in your ear. If they weren't bastards they wouldn't do that.

I've gotten little to no sleep this week. Instead of sleep, which I need, I have a new routine, which I don't need. It usually begins the precise moment I'm in bed about to drift off.

ZZZZZZZZ! Right in the ear!

The hunt is on! Now I'm up, the light is switched on and I've got a menacingly powder blue flyswatter in my hand. My stance is like a Jack Kirby drawing and my eyes are like the Terminator. I can see little digital readouts in them, I swear.

I stare and I stare but can't find anything. I prowl the bedroom all hunched over because Wolverine would be all hunched over. Maybe not Hugh Jackman but in the comics, you better believe he'd be hunched over. I'm useless at this but I'm too angry to back down. I look for backup. Renee gets bitten and just sleeps through it. The cats think it's cute that bugs fly all crazy. I'm on my own.

I finally spot the bug on the wall. It's dancing on the wall! I'm suffering and this bastard is prancing in my misery! Well I've got you. I'm locked onto you. You're mine. For about a foot.

Where the fuck did it just go? Seriously, now I know it's in here. How does it disappear when I'm looking right at it? I've had laser surgery, my eyes are good. What kind of interdimensional travel does the mosquito use?

I give up and go back to sleep. For about twenty minutes. I wake up again with an itchy sensation on the back of my knee. Itchy and somehow hot. I twist around and stare at my leg in the grey darkness (when you live near street lights, grey is as dark as it gets). Nothing there, then a little red spot, then the familiar yellow bump. The calling card of the master blood thief. Damn you, mosquito!

That's when the paranoia sets in. Every sensation on my skin now feels like another mosquito. This time I got you, I think. And I slap myself where the phantom mosquito seems to be. So now I'm up all night hitting myself for no reason. I decide this is crazy and ignore the next one. Which is, of course, the one where the mosquito actually bites me. Cunning move, mosquito. You win this round.

About six am the sun is coming up. I've finally fallen asleep and am having a vivid dream that I'm being chased by flying needles.

ZZZZZZ! Right in the ear! Again! Didn't you learn your lesson?

But this time there is light. This time I see you. This time I have no reflexes. I slap the wall lamely about a foot from where the insect is and pass out again.

Oh, now it's time for work. I rise in the comfort of knowing my day will completely suck. I look around again. There are no mosquitos anywhere. It's as though they never existed. It would be eerie if it didn't piss me off so much.

Here's a whole site about mosquitoes. The more I understand them, the more I hate them.

Screw you, mosquitoes!!

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Curious George W.

Dave Wasklewicz just sent me this. I imagine the author Dave Itzkoff could do a series of these by now.

32 Conversations About Nothing

Here's an IM conversation Brian and I had the other day. It started to become an interesting blog entry then trailed off into blather about Happy Days. Just thought you'd like to witness the creative process.

Qner: Will I ever be a sir?
jonflclarke: No you never will
jonflclarke: You'll always be a guy
Qner: Guy Brian Kunath
Qner: I can live with that
jonflclarke: As in "Hey guy help me with this."
Qner: Better than being a Buddy.
Qner: As in "Hey buddy, you wanna get outta the way?"
jonflclarke: Buddy is a backhanded compliment
jonflclarke: Yeah
jonflclarke: Pal is good though
Qner: Pal is too often said in anger.
Qner: "Look here, pal!"
jonflclarke: Pal is neutral
jonflclarke: "Hey thanks pal."
Qner: Still belittling.
jonflclarke: It's what my uncle Jack would say to you. He's always in charge.
Qner: haha
jonflclarke: Friend sounds like a priest.
Qner: Or something a jittery old west bartender calls scary-looking strangers.
jonflclarke: If you call someone ace you fought in WWII
Qner: Ha
jonflclarke: There is no way to call someone slappy without them getting offended
Qner: True
Qner: Cracker jack
jonflclarke: If you call someone cracker jack, you have been dead for thirty years.
jonflclarke: If you call someone bucko, you are Ron Howard.
Qner: bucko = fuck head
Qner: The Happy Days euphemism chart.
Qner: Nerd = dirty cocksucker.
Qner: Happy Days is actually a filthy show if you know what everything means.
jonflclarke: Frisky=filthy
Qner: Piccallo = Whore
jonflclarke: haha
jonflclarke: I would have done Jenny Piccallo
Qner: Totally
jonflclarke: Actually she was the only one worth it on that show. For a hit show about teenagers there was a decided lack of hot girls on it.
Qner: True. I think it speaks to Garry Marshall's actual experience in the 50s.
jonflclarke: Something tells me he talked himself out of getting laid a lot.
Qner: hahaha
Qner: Had it in the bag and didn't know when to stop
jonflclarke: I used to be like that
Qner: Happy Days? They weren't all Happy.
jonflclarke: Like when Richie and Ralph joined the army? They were sad.
jonflclarke: Or when Fonzie realized rock n' roll was getting pushed aside for folk. He wasn't happy.
Qner: When Fonzie pretended to be visiting his family for Christmas and Richie found him eating canned franks and beans alone in his apartment.
jonflclarke: HAHA
jonflclarke: Did that actually happen?
Qner: Yup
jonflclarke: That is so sad
jonflclarke: Like John Candy in the train station
Qner: Yes
Qner: And in each case, they brought them home for a nice holiday meal
jonflclarke: Except they used heavy filters on Steve Martin's wife.
Qner: Yeah, what was up with that?
Qner: Like a Barbara Walters interview
jonflclarke: haha
Qner: Maybe she represented the dream of getting home, so they gave her a dreamlike hazy effect.
Qner: Or she was just really ugly.
jonflclarke: Maybe both.
jonflclarke: you want to post this conversation or should I?
Qner: You

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Don Adams

As you probably know by now, Don Adams passed away at 82. The internet is flooded with stories about 'Get Smart'. I loved that show but I'm surprised no one's mentioning "Inspector Gadget" that Don Adams voiced for most of the 80's.

It was on the Fox affiliate in NY at 3 p.m. every day and when it came on you knew that either you had gone straight home from school or your sick day was officially over. I spent most of the episodes wondering what the hell Gadget was. A cyborg? A robot? Bionic? A mutant? What the hell was he? My 11 year old brain could not wrap around the basic premise of the show but I watched it faithfully.

The other thing that frustrated me was Dr. Klaw. We all wanted to see more than his arm but a vicious rumor went around St. Camillus that they finally showed Klaw in the final episode and wouldn't you know it? It was on when you were out. Whoever spread that lie should be ashamed. Gregory Dennis, I'm looking at you.

Monday, September 26, 2005

No Direction Home

I'm watching the Martin Scorcese documentary of Bob Dylan right now and it's incredible. But I don't recommend it unless you love Dylan. And you have to have loved Dylan for at least three years.

Dylan's tough on people. If you're at all serious about music, you know at some point you have to deal with him. And you don't want to. It seems all he is is a whiny voice and an acoustic guitar. For hours.

But just like alcohol, Dylan's an acquired taste. Walker forced him upon me when I was 15 and I did not appreciate it one bit. But by 18, I understood. You have to get past his voice and then you realize how amazing his songs are. How immense his lyrics are. And you start to ignore that voice and listen to the songs. It's the reason everyone who ever covered Dylan had a hit.

Then, years later, you realize you actually like his voice. When he really whines you know why. You tell your friends that was the best whine ever. And you own thirty albums of his and feel like you're only a casual fan.

When I graduated from improv class (the one where I didn't do so well) we all went out for drinks and the jukebox started playing 'Isis'. It's from Desire. I didn't have it but a couple of people knew every word. I felt even more inadequate than I did in class. That's the power of a Dylan song.

Part 2 is on PBS tomorrow. I recommend it. If you're ready.

28 Days Later

Actually, it's 31 but I couldn't resist referencing a movie I haven't seen.

It's been exactly one month since I started this blog and it just hit 1,000 visitors and 2,500 hits! There's a comma in the hit count! There's a comma in the hit count!

Everything I said after 100 visitors goes double for today. I can't believe how fast this little place has grown. I have to thank everyone that's linked me (and they're all on the right) and I have to thank you for showing up. Hope you're enjoying all this falderal.

So take your time, look around and don't forget to enter the comment contest. SOMETHING CRAPPY will be announced very soon.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

The Corpse Bride

Finally, a Tim Burton movie that acts like, well, a Tim Burton movie.

When I was in high school, Tim Burtonwas my favorite director. The freaky weirdness of Pee-Wee's Big Adventure and Beetlejuice went way beyond their original scripts. Then he made Batman and all was right with my world. With a blockbuster behind him and people loving his style he began to craft his masterpieces; Edward Scissorhands, Ed Wood and of course the film that 'Corpse Bride' will inevitably be compared to, the classic Nightmare Before Christmas.

So what happened? Well, first of all 'Nightmare before Christmas' and 'Ed Wood' didn't make money. Neither did Mars Attacks and that was fiendishly expensive. Those failures hurt Burton and he recoiled. We then got Sleepy Hollow which looked like a Tim Burton movie but was bogged down by a Scooby Doo plot. His 'Planet of the Apes' remake was so bad it's already out of print on dvd. And Big Fish just felt like a tv movie.

But now we get a dose of prime Burton. I missed 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory' but there was no way I was missing 'Corpse Bride'. I'm glad I didn't. I got treated to 75 minutes of beautiful stark, awkward, bizarre characters that sometimes fight and sometimes sing. In other words, classic Burton.

But don't think this is a sequel to 'Nightmare'. Where that film was a blast of childlike wonder and enthusiasm all wrapped in everything an eight year old loves, this film is melancholy, complex and story driven. There are maybe three songs and they all sneak up on you. There's a lot more greys than blacks or whites in the production design. And it takes its time, letting us explore the characters through a look, a sigh or a piano duet. I also love the theme that the dead are the same people they were when they were alive. Take that, mindless zombie movies.

Saturday, September 24, 2005


Years ago I used to write for Art Asylum and I have the good fortune to remain friends with them.

The work they do on action figures is unmatched. The Star Trek line has been beautiful and wait until you see what they've developed for the Next Generation. But so far the most popular product they have is the Minimates; little 'block figures' that look like Legos. In two years they've managed to make tiny versions of Marvel, DC, Lord of the Rings, Star Trek, even Ozzy Osbourne.

And they've got fans. Here's a whole website devoted to these figures and a forum of people who love them. Go over and see how many cute little characters you can turn a simple two inch figure into.

Friday, September 23, 2005

MTV Unplugged is back!

Chris Rock once said your favorite kind of music is whatever was playing the first time you got laid. Maybe that's why I love the early 90's. Or maybe it's just because the music was so good back then. One reason was MTV Unplugged, where bands were forced to prove themselves on stools, acoustic guitars and some brown curtains in the background.

Unplugged never really got cancelled, it just seemed to disappear. Well now it's back. Alicia Keyes is playing tonight and hopefully it's the beginning of real music coming back to the network.

More importantly, I found a listing of everyone who ever played the show. There's not too many acts they missed. I just wish they'd bring back VH1's Storytellers which even TVTome doesn't seem to remember. The episode with Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash alone is worth it.

Thursday, September 22, 2005


Yes, the first official Not in My Book Comment Contest is still running but there's other stuff we can talk about before the deadline.

We were speaking about online comic strips and here's one of the best. I stumbled upon PVP purely by accident but I've been hooked ever since. Scott Kurtz' strip runs in no newspapers I'm aware of and that's a shame. Instead he updates his site every single day with a new strip. He publishes a monthly comic through Image but as far as I know, that consists of entirely different strips (correct me if i'm wrong).

PVP has an admittedly nerdy slant. It focuses on the staff of a video game magazine and most of the jokes center on games, comic books and sci-fi. But it's also grown to include the richest characters since the long lamented Bloom County.Take a look at his site and click the 'back' button. You'll find a thousand more to waste your day.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Comment Contest

Yesterday was a personal best on this blog. Traffic increased 100% and most of it came from my friends on the guitar boards and my friends on the action figure boards. I think it's great that my two major interests have a place where fans of each can come together.

So I decided to pit you against one another.

As my wife can tell you, I debate purchases and I debate major purchases ad nauseum. I've come to a crossroads about buying something big and I need your help. Strangely enough, one's an action figure and one's a piece of guitar equipment.

This is a Marshall JCM 900 50 watt head. It's been out of production since the 90's and is one of my favorite amps ever made. All tubes, two channels, fantastic volume and will put that Valvestate combo I've had since 1994 right into the ground. Frankly (as some of you have said) my amp is severly lacking compared to the rest of my rig. I agree.

The thing is I don't have a speaker cabinet for it. I don't need a big stack in the house and at practice the studio has its own equipment. This would just be used for gigs where they have cabinets but no heads. It happens a lot. I can get one in good condition on ebay for about $600.

This is Dr. Doom. You guys remember Dr. Doom, he was on my very first post. Victor is a limited edition mixed media piece from Sideshow Toys. He's about 2 feet tall, weighs about 30 pounds and was sculpted by many of the same artists who worked on Lord of the Rings (I believe). That's real cloth in the sculpture.

It's absolutely the best rendition of one of my favorite characters from my all-time favorite comic. I have one on preorder but I haven't been charged yet. He comes out at the end of the year for $300.

So which should I buy? I'm on the fence about this. Now that the band is gigging more I could use a better amp but if I don't get Dr. Doom now I'll never have the chance. And I really can't afford both, considering the amp is double the price of the statue.

I need your help. Just click on the comment link below ( NOT the envelope icon, that's something else). Leave a comment on this blog choosing one and why. Once I decide, the person with the most original post will get a prize. Make sure you include your email and I will contact you for a mailing address. The prize will be infinitely crappier than either purchase but I'll save what it is for later.The winner will be announced Oct. 1.

Reason with me, beg me, yell at me, start a flame war with the other posts, I don't care. Mostly, I want to see a really high number on the comment thread. And if my two interests battle for the championship of my brain, who will win?

Have fun!

Tuesday, September 20, 2005


I don't read newspapers anymore (actually I never read them much). I get most of my news online these days, and most of my comic strips there too. Slate has one of the best systems with every single Doonesbury strip archived. It's totally free and in color every day now. I've posted today's strip above and it's good to see that Garry Trudeau has lost none of his edge.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Saving Grace back at Arlene's Grocery Thursday!

10 p.m. You might think that's late but if you start drinking at 7 you'll want to stay out until 2 a.m.

Arlene's Grocery

95 Stanton St
New York, NY 10002
Phone: 212.995.1652
Fax: 212.995.1719

Subway Directions
F or V Train to 2nd Avenue
Exit 1st Avenue, we're 1 block below Houston St between Orchard and Ludlow Streets

Sunday, September 18, 2005

VW integrates the iPod.

If nothing else, the iPod has revolutionized the way we take long car trips. With a 40GB iPod hooked into our Beetle's stereo thanks to a cassette component I can usually find something good Renee's never heard.

But now the iPod will never have to sit in a cup holder again. Volkswagen is introducing USB ports on its newest models. Not only that but the playlists will come up right on the car stereo and it stands to reason that your car battery will keep the iPod charged. Hopefully there will be one in a hybrid when our lease is up.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Gear head

We played an acoustic gig at a rooftop party in uptown Manhattan last night. It was a lot of fun and, since we had unlimited time, we threw in a couple of covers which shook us out of our routine.I got to bring out the 12 string Renee bought me last Christmas and it sounded fantastic but I missed my regular rig.

First and foremost in my signal chain is the 2001 Les Paul Standard I got three years ago. The balanced sound and the ease of playing totally pushed my 12 year old Telecaster out of the spotlight.

Playing in this band has softened my stance on effects and I've spent a few months building a pedalboard. First in the chain is the Vox V847 wah modded for true bypass. I got it for its deep vocal sweep but I think that tone is getting swallowed in the mix. The switch is starting to fail too. I may go back to a Crybaby for a higher treble sound rather than repair it.

From there is the newest acquisition; the Digitech Whammy reissue. I've needed a good pitch shifter for a while and this is it. I love that you can hit notes that literally do not exist on a guitar with this pedal. It's the most versatile thing in my board.

The next is the oldest piece; an MXR Phase 100 Eddie Klinger once gave me. I found it in his studio and asked what it did. He said, "I don't know. Take it and find out." Three years later, our drummer dropped out of a gig and Eddie filled in for us. Afterwards he said he loved the tone on one solo and how did I get it? I said it was the phase box he gave me. I was afraid he'd take it back but he just smiled. It's not a true bypass box which means when you turn it off, it's not completely off. I don't mind that.

Last is the Deluxe Memory Man. When I first joined this band we did some demos and I used a multi effects processor using any sound that fit the song. When I listened back to the songs I realized how much delay and tremelo I employed. So live I needed this. The lush analog echoes are right from early U2 records and the chorus and tremelo features mean I don't need two more pedals on the board.

So I got my sound about where I want it but it meant a lot of little boxes sliding around the stage. Luckily, Electro-Harmonix made this pedalbag. Velcro strips keep the pedals down and a three dollar extension cord runs the whole shebang into an outlet.

Three days before my audition with the band I picked up an eBow. I brought it with me and within ten minutes it was on the song. The sustain on this little handheld device is fantastic, ranging from a violin to a 'backwards' sound to pure feedback.

On the back end I bought a Marshall JCM 900 50 Watt head on ebay. Fortunately, it came with a 2X12 cabinet which sounds great in the house. Clubs usually have their own 4X12 cabinets so the head can travel with me and blast those speakers just fine. An old Marshall combo sits in the living room now for practice.

That's where it stands now. There's lots and lots of equipment I'd love to sample but the trick is to find the right sound, not just keep collecting. Because collecting isn't about perfection. It's just about the next thing.

Friday, September 16, 2005

The award-winning Play Cole Productions!

Brian just informed me that our latest film,'The Lazzeris' just won third place at the Wunderman film festival! It was one of the shorts we made just this past Saturday and one to which we all wrote and directed (since it was all improv and we all ran the camera).

Apparantly we are getting a ribbon so I will post a scan of it or Brian will on his blog soon. Now, when we launch the site it will be very pretentious.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Project Starfish

Renee and I have been trying to figure out whom to donate money for New Orleans. I don't trust the Red Cross anymore. Not after they bought new phones with 9/11 money.

Mark Evanier is linking to Operation USA so I have faith in that organization. But Renee just told me about a brand new effort called Project: Starfish. They're a Boston organization committed to sheltering animals and finding them homes. They're in New Orleans now coordinating the rescue effort for the abandoned animals.

As I posted before, these dogs and cats break my heart. They're victims of the hurricane as much as any human. Maybe more because they have no idea what happened to their homes and the people they love. Many of their owners are frantically trying to reunite with their pets but just as many can't. I'd love to see every animal go back to its rightful family but if not, at least they can go to new families that will love them.

If you've been thinking about adopting a dog or a cat I can't think of any better place than right here. Renee and I will be donating money to help keep the little guys fed and warm until someone comes to claim them.

Dave Wasklewicz

You want talent? Go look at Dave Wasklewicz. I've had a link to his site on the side since I started this blog but you really should look at his stuff. Let's face it, there are a lot of marginally talented people in your face at any given moment and they're usually telling who who sucks. Dave is not like that. He's quiet, funny, honest and has an amazing eye. His blog features mainly his stunning photography but I wish he'd more short film and animations. I could use the entertainment.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

My comics still exist!

When I got out of college and my band broke up, all I wanted to do was become a comic book writer. I was tremendously shy (still am if I don't know you) but I managed to get a number of proposals into the hands of Marvel and DC editors. No work came from the big guys but the boom was happening and soon everyone was publishing books. Including my boss at the comic book store.

I wrangled some copy editing assignments and scripting chores for "Horseman" which lasted about four issues. I did three. From there, my friend Rich Kelly got me a job creating a comic for an action figure. We did "A.D.A.M.", a six page promotional book and that led to a series. A series of one issue. They pulled the plug almost immediately and by the time I saw the figure in a local toy store, it was bittersweet.

Anyway I was wandering around Mile High Comics when I found them all! Here's Horseman and here's A.D.A.M.. Here's the promo comic for A.D.A.M..

I had figured I'd do a couple more years in the indie scene and then graduate to the majors, hopefully tackling Batman or the Fantastic Four. Funny thing about booms. They're always followed by busts. Suddenly, I was out of work. Times were bad all around. I know someone here at Ogilvy who was working for Marvel at the time of the crash. Things were just as tough for him. Luckily, making friends at conventions and working on the action figure got me a job at Art Asylum which turned my whole career around. I'll talk about those guys another time.

Anyway all my books are still for sale. And more importantly, they're all still cover price. Nice to know your work hasn't been dumped into the clearance bin. Someday I'd love to revive my comic career. I'd also like to make a million dollars playing guitar but you play the hand you're dealt.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Bush: "I Take Responsibility".

Well, this is unprecedented. In five years, I don't recall Bush taking responsibility for anything. I'd always heard the first rule of management is that everything is your responsibility. But the Bush administration has never paid attention to this. Knowledge of 9/11 before it happened? Not our fault. The economy? Clinton's fault. Bad intelligence in Iraq? The CIA's fault. Your trusted aid leaking classified information? Ah, that's just turd blossom.

But you let a city in your country get destroyed and abandon the people there for a week as corpses float around them? Guess not even firing Michael Brown is enough to let you off scot-free.

Congratulations, W. That must have been hard. There was a crisis in this country and you could have corrected it. You didn't. You stayed on vacation for three more days and flew in your private plane overhead. You talked about oil. You bemoaned Trent Lott's porch. And now you feel bad. Well, you're off to a good start. You've admitted a mistake. Now let's see you correct one.

Steve Martin

Here's an article about the new film that Steve Martin wrote and stars in, "Shopgirl". It's based on his book which I haven't read but I have read "Pure Drivel" and "The Pleasure of My Company"and they were both brilliant. The article brings up an idea that I have long championed; Steve Martin is better than any movie that teams him with Queen Latifah.

John Cleese once said if you want to understand Steve Martin, you have to look at the credits of his films. If he's listed as a producer or writer, it's something he deeply cares about. If not, well, Steve has a very large art collection. Based on his involvement with "Shopgirl" I'm going immediately.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Play Cole is back in Production!

It's been a few months but our home made improv group got back together yesterday to make some new short films. It was decided judiciously that 90 degree weather was no place to stand under hot lights in heavy costumes so we took a seasonal hiatus. Yesterday we reconvened to make two five-minute pieces and shot about an hour of footage.

This all started last year. Andrew and I were watching the extras to 'A Day at the Races' on dvd and parodying the documentary. Somehow this mixed with the idea of a comedy team consisting of two Zeppos. Within three months we had a script, a cheap digital video camera and a screening at Two Boots Pizza for thirty people. The momentum kicked in after that and nine months later we have about 25 films.

I love this process, ever changing though it is. Sometimes we have a full script, actually learn the lines and get someone else to direct. Sometimes we improv off the script and use whichever works best. Yesterday Bill had a one-word idea while we were waiting for Brian to show up.

Stage improv frustrated me because I couldn’t get over feeling that the audience would be watching nothing for five, ten minutes at a stretch. When it’s on film, you can cut out all the exploring and use the one good joke in a scene. Making these films taught me more valuable lessons in writing screenplays than anything I’ve done before. The hardest lesson was cutting good stuff because it’s in the way of the story (our favorite film died with an audience because it was eight minutes too long).

Last night at dinner, the four of us discussed what to do next. Should we have another screening? Tackle a feature length film? Experiment with stop-motion animation and Flash? The one thing we all agreed was to host these films on a full website. There’s no reason to try this hard if no one can see it. We hope to have something soon and once we do, I’ll link the holy hell out of it.

By the way, the above illustration was done by Pilar for our first film. She’s a fantastic animator and you can find out all about her here.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Don Hills

Last night was pretty good. Decent turn out. To those of you who came by from here, we really appreciate you coming out.

A shorter set than usual but a giant stage! It was actually intimidating at first. Took me a little longer to get over my nervousness and warm up to the place. First time Chris was on a drum riser and I certainly wasn't used to it. I had to jump up there a few times and see him. On the plus side, we added two new songs that seemed to go over well. It's a good sign when people like the new stuff better. It usually means you're coming together as a unit.

We've been very particular about our volume levels lately (you wouldn't believe how many bands just get out there and blast it) but I think I could have pushed my guitar just a hair. I'm assuming the sound guy made up for it. All of this is, of course, Monday morning quarterback.

Next, we're back at Arlene's Grocery on Sept. 22 10 p.m. Hope to see you there.

Friday, September 09, 2005


When I grow up, I want to be Mark Evanier. Every morning I hit two blogs; Mark's News From Me and Chris Diclerico. Chris is a good friend and I used to be an author on his blog long ago (Chris,when you gonna link me, man?). Mark Evanier I've never met but his blog is always insightful, well written and most importantly, completely unfiltered. He's also had the career I'd die for. If he stops by and says hi, I'll link him. Until then, I will worship from afar.

Every now and then he says something that makes me laugh out loud. Today it was political:

We have this real scary Cover Your Ass mentality now in Washington, and it's worse than it's ever been. They protect the top guy because he's the top guy, and they protect all the people under him because to blame them would be to admit things had gone wrong on his watch. No one was fired for whatever intelligence mistakes led up to 9/11. No one was fired for all the inaccurate reports about Saddam Hussein's weaponry. Our leaders grossly misunderestimated the cost of the Iraq War, the number of troops we'd need to fight it and how we'd be welcomed there. No one was fired. If anyone at FEMA or the Department of Homeland Security is sacked or even faulted, it will only be because they've reached some new, hitherto-unimaginable level of incompetence such that even their own party can't save them...or someone decides that they should take a bullet (and all the blame) for the team.

I once saw a kid who worked at a pizza stand get fired on the spot for screwing up a big order. If that kid grew up to work in government and his incompetence caused people to die, he'd not only keep his job, they'd probably give him a promotion. That's after they give him the medal.

Check him out. Every day after you've visited me.

Thursday, September 08, 2005


I'm still pissed I missed Gilbert Gottfried at Caroline's two weeks ago. So I've been haunting his website looking for more dates. I haven't found any but I did find this picture:

This is my new favorite picture of all time. What kind of conversation could these two have? My first assumption would be, 'none' but if there was one it couldn't be any longer than this:

"Hey Cindy, take a picture with me!"


"Oh, ok, who are you again?"
"I'm Gilbert Gottfried. I'm a comedian!"
"Oh, ok."
"I was the host of 'USA Up All Night'!"
"Oh, ok."
"I was in 'Problem Child'! Or maybe it was 'Problem Child 2'! You know, they never told me which one it was!"
"I have to go now."
"I was the parrot in 'Aladdin'!"
"Oh I liked 'Aladdin'. The parrot was cute."
"That was me!"
"You don't look anything like your character."
"You know you look almost naked in that dress! Maybe even better than naked!"


Wednesday, September 07, 2005

"George Bush doesn't care about black people"

I just saw this on the Daily Show and I had to share it with you. Watch this video showing how Kanye West went crazy on a benefit for New Orleans. Look how uncomfortable Mike Myers is listening to him rant. I love when celebrities freak out like this. I don't even know who this guy is and I love him.

Frankly, I'm amazed Chris Diclerico hasn't posted this yet.


Here's an article about Bravo's reality show about pitching a sitcom. This show is something, like just about everything else on tv these days, I forgot to watch. But the article brings up an interesting point about the health of the American sitcom. It ain't good. I think we're in a comedy lull this decade but I don't think it's dead. Some decades are just stronger than others. If you look at the decades you get some great ones like:

The 50's (GOOD):
The Phil Silvers Show (Sgt. Bilko)
Jack Benny
Your Show of Shows
Burns and Allen

All classics I would watch this minute. A lot of people mention I Love Lucy but personally I found it a bit annoying.

The 60's (NOT SO GOOD):
All I can think of is the Dick Van Dyke Show

Everything else is a guilty pleasure, like Get Smart, Gilligan's Island, the Munsters, Batman (let's face it, it WAS a sitcom), the Brady Bunch, et al. Kind of a silly time for sitcoms. Not a whole lot of believability in this decade. Maybe that's why the sci-fi of the Twilight Zone and Star Trek was so good.

The 70's (REALLY GOOD):
the Bob Newhart Show
the Muppet Show
WKRP in Cincinatti
All in the Family
Saturday Night Live
the Odd Couple
Barney Miller

Not to mention some great stuff from outside the US like Monty Python's Flying Circus and SCTV. Norman Lear made sitcoms gritty and we love him for that. Even the guilty pleasures like Sanford and Son or the Happy Days franchise were a cut above My Mother the Car. There's a lot of people that love Mary Tyler Moore too. I'm not saying they're wrong.


What else you got? Most 80's sitcoms don't hold up today. Nick at Nite shows Night Court and Family Ties, Newhart and the Cosby Show. Go watch them. They don't live up to your memories. Moonlighting was funnier than most shows of its time and it was considered a romantic detective show. Different Strokes outright DEFINES this decade. Lots of smart ass kids and stupid parents. Good stuff in England like Black Adder and the Young Ones but here? Oh yeah, we had ALF.

the Simpsons
Kids in the Hall (Canadian)
Mr. Show
Everybody Loves Raymond

People seemed to like Friends a lot too. There are some history making shows here. Just look at the first two. Made Home Improvement very easy to ignore. Over the pond we had Father Ted. Man, was that a good show.

The 00's (NOT GOOD):
Curb Your Enthusiasm

All the shows I like get cancelled or threatened. Arrested Developmentis wonderful and nearly dead all the time. Cancelling Andy Richter Controls the Universe was like drowning a puppy. Pamela Anderson has a sitcom now. That's cause for worry. The only hit on the air is Two and a Half Men. I swear I watched that show for a month only because it was broadcast in widescreen.

The point is there's a pattern. Sitcoms will get good again. Luckily movies are getting funnier. The 40 year Old Virgin was the funniest movie I've seen in years. We will be fine.

BTW, I'm only counting sitcoms in this list so really funny stuff like You Bet Your Life, Conan O' Brien and Late Night with David Letterman were left out. I counted sketch shows because I liked them. I counted a Canadian show once because I'm cheating. I 'link only to the good' because Albert Brooks once said so. I want you to argue with me because I like to see high numbers on the comment threads. Go to it.