Monday, October 31, 2005

This is Halloween!

Go eat candy. Go watch monster movies. Go put on a costume that demands a large prop and then lose that prop ten minutes into the party. Go pretend children in plastic outfits are frightening. Especially when they growl. Go affect a Hungarian accent. Go scream like Jamie Lee Curtis. Go now. Before the moon rises.


Sunday, October 30, 2005


It's been a hell of a month for concerts.

When I got my tickets for Cream, Ticketmaster automatically sent me an upsell email. These things are usually easy to ignore. But this one had Audioslave. The same week. At Madison Square Garden. And I couldn't think of any reason not to go.

I tried to like Rage Against the Machine throughout the nineties and just couldn't do it. The band was always fantastic but that white boy rap grates on me something awful. Soundgarden I liked a lot more, especially Chris Cornell's voice, but the noisy sloppy guitars got old real fast. Audioslave is the best of both worlds creating a band that I liked a lot when their first album was releasedand loved tremendously with the second. I also got real obsessed with Tom Morello's sound in a hurry. Let's put it this way; I now own a Digitech Whammy pedal.

We already had a busy day so we got to MSG late and missed Jared Leto's band 30 Seconds to Mars. Can't say it bothered me. Seether took the stage next. I had only heard one song from them before and thought it sounded very Nirvana. They were blisteringly loud, super heavy and I liked every song.

Audioslave took the stage with an announcement from Tom Morello's mom. They launched into a 2 hour set that was pitch perfect. Chris Cornell impressed me even more as a singer, hitting all the notes I assumed took a day in the studio. Tom Morello mystified me again. It's not the effects he uses (and there aren't as many as you'd think) it's the way he APPROACHES the guitar. Like the Edge, he's wired so differently from all the Jimmy Page clones that it's like listening to a different instrument. I've been playing nearly twenty years and there were solos where I literally did not know what he was doing. The rhythm section was thunderous and precise at the same time. Unbelieveable.

Half of the fun was watching this amalgamation of two bands attack their old songs. They did 'Bulls on Parade' as an instrumental but Chris was game for rapping 'Killing in the Name', 'Sleep Now in the Fire' and 'Testify'. Hearing a great singer on these songs was a revelation. And I doubt Soundgarden could have played 'Spoonman' as well as Audioslave tackled it last night.

The set felt a little short but the encore made up for it. Chris Cornell came out with an acoustic and did a few songs solo including a sing along 'Black Hole Sun'. the band joined him again for the end, an explosive 'Cochise'.

I was stunned by the way they worked the crowd. They picked us up from the first song and kept the energy up the entire night. None of them held back. It was a real change from Cream four nights before where, as great as they were, they stayed back on the stage and offered little interaction with the crowd. This band was with us the entire time, connecting with the crowd almost as well as U2 does. The crowd was completely there with them. Guys I didn't know were high fiving me and strange girls were dancing with me (by the way there's an ethics question; how far do you take dancing with a stranger when your wife is next to you? I decided making out would be too far).

At the end of the show, Renee and I stopped by Chris Diclerico's famous Halloween party but by then I was so spent I did little more than hellos and goodbyes to friends.

This is it for concerts for a while. I got real lucky this year. So lucky all my friends hate me. U2. Paul McCartney. Cream. And now Audioslave. I'm taking a break to look for a reason to hate them.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Autumn doldrums

I always get melancholy in the fall. But this year I think I finally put a finger on why.

Fall always reminds people of going back to school. It's not a happy memory. My reaction goes deeper than that. Fall always reminds me of girls who don't like me.

I went to an all boy high school so the only way to meet girls was to join the speech team and compete against the all girl schools. I did dramatic interpretation which meant doing a ten minute one man show. I was definitely the man for the job. Father Ogle ran the Cathedral team and told me if I could prove a screenplay had been published, I could do it. So I did everything from Monty Pythonto Planes, Trains and Automobilesto Batman. It was too easy.

Tournaments were held twice a month, which meant only two afternoons every 30 days to spend with real live girls. Our first tournament would be in the end of September and I'd either meet a new girl that shattered my thin veneer of cool or managed to notice a girl I hadn't before. By the third tournament in October, I was in love.

I was be as charming as a teenager could be, tell a few jokes, get a pretty pretty laugh and that was the end of it. But now I had TWO WEEKS to obsess over this girl. TWO WEEKS for a 15 year old.

A 15 year old boy with an overgrown imagination mutated by movies, sitcoms and comic books is a dangerous thing. Throw in hormones and it's volatile. Then add the Catholic Church which tells him he is evil and going to hell for his hormones and you have a basket case. This was me throughout the late 80's. Everything I knew about romance I learned from John Cusack movies and Beatle songs. Needless to say, I was unequipped for the task ahead of me.

So two weeks later I saw this girl again but now I've placed her on such a pedestal no one could reach her. Now I was no longer charming. Now I was fumbling, giggling, talking both too loud and too fast. Now she thought I was weird. And this was the moment I judiciously chose to ask her out.

She would take one of two options. She either said no without a reason and backed away slowly. Brooklyn girls usually chose this option. Or, she told me how much she valued me 'as a friend' and over the next three months I'd get constant phone calls from her. Calls where she'd detail dates. With other guys on my team. This was the weapon of choice best exploited by the fabled Mary Louis Academy. Three years of this and I discovered heavy metal.

So Halloween would come every year and every year I'd already be heartbroken. And somehow, even today, when the weather changes overnight and I'm in a denim jacket listening to U2 and taking a morning commute when I'd rather be home, I'm not a 33 year old happily married man. I'm that 15 year old who doesn't understand why women won't stick around for more than an afternoon.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Oh my.

Sulu's gay. Can't say it surprises me. But it certainly doesn't explain why he's so damn weird.

My favorite George Takei story comes from William Shatner's hilarious Star Trek Movie Memories. The original shooting script for Star Trek II: the Wrath of Khanhad promoted Sulu to captain, giving him his own ship. Shatner noticed this and asked Takei if he wanted it changed. After all, with all the action on the Enterprise, Takei's role would be a cameo.

"But, Bill", George replied, "I'm a captain!"

George never gave up his dream of becoming a fictional captain. He finally acheived it in Star Trek VI: the Undiscovered Country and that was all the leverage he needed. For the next decade he pestered Paramount for his own show. All the pitches began with, "Sulu is the captain of the Excelsior and...".

At one point, the powers that be explained to him, "George, we're focusing on the Next Generation timeline now. That's 100 years after your show."

"That's what's so perfect about it! You see, Sulu's ship gets caught in a time warp..."

George, I don't care if you're gay or straight. All I care is that you remain just as wacky as you are right now.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Yeah, great but the election was LAST YEAR!

A new poll says if the election was held today, Bush would lose. Unless of course, he was running against John Kerry.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005


I never thought I'd be able to say this:

Last night I saw Cream.

These guys broke up in 1968. I discovered them in 1990. I spent that year in my basement learning every solo from Strange Brew: the Best of Cream on a Squire strat. When I first heard the Beatles, I wanted to play acoustic guitar. As soon as I heard Cream, I wanted to play lead.

There are a few acts I know I'll never see live. Jimi Hendrix. Nirvana. The Beatles. Led Zeppelin. Just not gonna happen. Until last night at Madison Square Garden, I had put Cream on that list, figuring I'd have to settle for Eric Clapton solo.

From the moment they went on stage with no lightshow, no video, no intro music and no opening act, it was clear the night would be dedicated to MUSICIANSHIP. The three were all dressed in t shirts and jeans. They said little to the audience besides, "thank you." Clapton only changed guitars once for slide. And nobody minded.

It was a more laid back evening than I expected, more like watching jazzmen than stadium rockers. The first couple of songs were so slowly paced I thought these guys might be over the hill. But they warmed up nicely and played beautifully for two hours. For the most part, they put aside loud psychedelic numbers for slow blues. We got 'Stormy Monday' but no 'Swlabr'. 'Rollin n' Tumblin' but not 'I Feel Free'.

My friends on the Les Paul Forum have sparked a big controversy over Clapton's performance. When Cream first started, Clapton played a Gibson Les Paul through a Marshall stack. In fact he was one of the first, inspiring even Jimmy Page to pick one up. Those guitars were rare then and his kept getting stolen so he moved to a Gibson SG. Either way, he had a big rock guitar sound. In the 70's, after heroin nearly killed him, he mellowed out and switched to a Fender Stratocaster, using it heavily ever since. The strat is a lot brighter and twangy. Great for surf, country and Buddy Holly.

Guitar heads were hoping for a return to Gibson at these shows. But Clapton showed up with his signature strat. His is equipped with a circuit that boosts the midrange. He thinks it sounds like a Les Paul. I thought it sounded like a crappy overdrive pedal. I was disappointed to see the little combo amps he brought instead of the Marshalls too.

But I maintain that I don't matter. What matters is what makes Clapton play the best. He's obviously comfortable with the strat and the solo he took on 'Stormy Monday' was better than anything I ever heard him record. He wouldn't have been nearly as good on a Les Paul. He's just not used to it anymore. The guy's been touring extensively with strats for 25 years. Why give him a different guitar that might trip him up?

And let me get some perspective. Jack Bruce was playing a different bass. I didn't know what it was but it sounded the same to me. God knows what drum kit Ginger Baker used and his ten minute drum solo was riveting (and when was the last show you went to with a freaking DRUM SOLO?). Time to get over my own guitar nerd leanings.

UPDATE: Special thanks to for linking this article and leading so many new visitors to my little ramshackle site. You're all welcome. Browse around and you'll find more about music, a little about politics and a lot about cartoons. And, since you're all 'in the know', the picture above comes from the Guardian's coverage of the May Royal Albert Hall shows. Still a great shot that shows all three members and fits in my template.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Cartoon Art Museum

I had no idea this existed until Rebecca found it. Over the last twenty years, the Cartoon Art Museum has grown from a group of collectors into a full fledged archive in San Francisco. We wandered in Sunday morning and I was floored by their galleries.

I have a few pieces of original comic art. Maybe five. This place had dozens of original strips and pages by Neal Adams, Gil Kane, Jim Aparo, Charles Schulz, Bill Watterson, Berkley Breathed, and Dick Giordano to name a few. Not to mention production cels from classic Disney, Warner Bros. and Hanna Barbera. And a Simpsons cel owned by director David Silverman. And a Wil Eisner exhibit. And the Yellow Kid from the 1800's. And some new pieces from Eric Powell's 'The Goon', a book I've fallen in love with recently.

I could go on and on. Actually, I just did. It was all I could do to not blow a couple hundred bucks at the gift shop. Needless to say, it's well worth the six dollar admission and with an animation school around the corner, every student should be forced to attend at least once.

Monday, October 24, 2005

San Francisco 2: Redwoods

These are giant trees. They have them here.

We woke up and took a walk around the neighborhood the first day. After a full night’s sleep, the streets weren’t scary anymore. In fact, San Francisco looked like a different place every block. This one looks like Seattle, the next Brooklyn, the next Chicago, the next Houston. I have yet to figure out the natural style of the city.

Stumbled upon a comic store that looked like an old local toy store. Seriously, they had LEGOs, plush dolls and Milton Bradley games. I found it comforting.

Renee’s brother Richie picked us up and drove us all out to Muir Woods. It’s a place you expect to find Ewoks. Since Skywalker Ranch is only an hour away, it’s evident that either Lucas filmed here or got the idea looking out his window. We hiked a couple of miles and spent most of that time coming up with ideas for sketches and horror movies. I guess the beauty of nature is lost on me.

Richie caught himself a nice fever so that was the last we saw of him. We spent the night seeing a local sketch troupe, Uphill Both Ways. Good stuff and while not improv, was very different from what we’re attempting with Play Cole. One of the guys Dave McKew, was especially helpful, giving Brian and I fantastic advice over lunch the next day. If you’re in town I definitely recommend checking them out.

San Francisco 1 : the Flight

Haven’t been able to update as much since I haven’t been able to find wireless internet access anywhere in this city for less than ten bucks.

We’re in San Francisco for the weekend. Rebecca decided to celebrate her birthday here and since Renee’s brother already lives in the city (and we’ve never been by to visit) we figured it was the perfect opportunity.

I met Renee in the terminal after taking the new air train to JFK. I was used to the grubby old Howard Beach station. It was concrete, offered no protection from the elements and you could see the bar you stumbled out of from the platform. This new one is trying to be like the airport, all glass and polished steel that’s way taller than it needs to be. A little off putting actually.

The old station used to have a back door where you’d wait for a bus to take you to the airport. Now there’s a monorail. It makes you feel like you’re going to an airport, well, in any city but this one. And it costs five bucks. You use a Metrocard but it still costs five bucks. It won’t even take your unlimited pass. It wants its five bucks and it wants them right goddamn now. Two rails cost two dollars. One? Five goddamn bucks.

The ride is ten minutes at most. That’s a dollar every two minutes. And I’m convinced the voice on the train is Brent Spiner. Please somebody do some research and tell me who that is. Cause I really think it’s Brent Spiner.

The flight itself was fine. We took Delta Song which is a big airline trying to be Jet Blue. Not bad though. Left when it should and stayed in the air the entire time. I was in the aisle seat so everyone got to know my right arm on their way to the bathroom. Renee went to sleep early and I spent the six-hour flight shoving dvds into the laptop. Learned lots about the Batmobile (still going through that Batman box set).

The flight landed at midnight. Which for us meant it landed at 3 a.m. so we weren’t in any shape for sight seeing. Renee’s brother Richie picked us up and picked the seediest way to the hotel. He made it a point to tell us so. The hotel was a nice old building but we didn’t trust it, knowing what it took to get there. We listened to every creak and assumed it was a dishonest staff rifling through our belongings. We were pretty disoriented.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

The Dark Knight Returns

Oh lordy, does he ever.

Warners just released all five Batman movies as 2 disc special edition dvds. The first four come in a nifty box setwhile Batman Begins comes alone. Unfortunately, no one in my area knew how to order it. Best Buy had no box set. Target had no 'Batman Begins'. Renee and I fought too much traffic trying to get a deal on both and I still don't have 'Batman Begins'. Renee wanted a pumpkin but we didn't find that either.

I'm usually against the 'double dip'; buying a dvd again to get more extras. But seeing how the Batman films were some of the first dvds ever released, they were in dire need of an upgrade. Dfx, a frequent poster, made fun of me. "What are you going to do with the old ones? Give them away?" He has them now.

I expected better transfers and with each film taking 2 discs, a good amount of extras. What I didn't expect were some of the most in-depth and complete dvds I have ever seen.

Let me say this right now: THEY GOT NICHOLSON. Jack's all over the first dvd, telling stories about the makeup process, being a comic fan as a kid, enjoying the part and being the only one who knew how much money the first film was going to make. Strangely enough, all of Michael Keaton's interviews are old. How they could get Nicholson and not Keaton is the riddle of the Sphinx.

From what I've seen the prints look great and the DTS sound really helps. But I turned the movie off after a minute so I could charge straight into the extras. I spent three hours on the documentaries for the first film alone, barely dipping into 'Batman Returns' before bed. And I learned tons.

I'm one of those who bought the VHS the day it came out. In high school. At lunch. And it was the display model. I grabbed the first box I saw in Sam Goody's and shoved it at the clerk. I watched it once a week my entire senior year. I know every word to this movie. And I didn't know 1/10th of the stories told on this dvd. They hit it from every angle, from the script to the casting to the marketing. Very few punches are pulled. I guess because it's been long enough and everyone's done well enough they can air a little dirty laundry. Sean Young talks openly about how breaking her leg and losing the role of Vicki Vale hurt her career (you think that hurt, Sean? Funny, because they're still talking about you showing up on the lot in the Catwoman costume like you were off your medication. And they put it on the 'Batman Returns' dvd).

There's also a 40 minute documentary on the comic that could easily be a history of the comic business. If you're a comic geek, they got everybody here too. Even Stan Lee talking about a DC book! There are also storyboards of a lost Robin sequence in the first film. Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill provide the voices. Geek manna.

I've barely scratched the surface of this set but it already beats 'Star Wars', 'Nightmare on Elm Street' and 'Indiana Jones' in terms of thoroughness. This will take me a week at least to get through and that's without 'Batman Begins' on top of it!

Of course, just like the Alien and Godfather sets, you have to own a shitty movie in order to get the good ones (actually, the movies are sold separately but you save so much with the set it's not worth picking and choosing). 'Batman and Robin' in my opinion is the worst movie ever made. There's not even any comedic value like 'Plan 9 from Outer Space'. It's just bad and an assault on the senses. I saw it in a $2 theater and by the second hour I was kicking the seat in front of me I was so mad. Years later it was on at a party where I met my wife and I explained to her in full detail why it sucked. How I didn't lose her then I don't know. It's a film I refused to have in my home on any medium for years. But I still can't wait to see the extras on it. I want my apology.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005


So I finally saw this Sunday after having no interest for months. I've never been a fan of 'Buffy' or 'Angel' and Joss Whedon's run on 'Astonishing X-Men' has been interesting at best.

But it kept getting good reviews. Really good reviews. So I emailed my sister (her Whedon devoteeism is FRIGHTENING) and asked if she had ever seen the tv show 'Firefly' which FOX aired and then cancelled in the same breath. Two days later, she put the dvd box setin my hands.

Renee and I did all 15 episodes in a week. And we were impressed. I've never seen a more natural feeling cast in a sci-fi show. They didn't stand stiffly as archetypes and spout technical jargon that doesn't exist (as my beloved 'Star Trek' does). They didn't hide their feelings under a military exterior, making you work to get to know the characters (like the fantastic new 'Battlestar Galactica'). They existed day to day, worried about small problems, cracked jokes and talked about sex like adults, not teenagers. It was easy to get involved with these characters. It didn't hurt that they got Detective Harris from 'Barney Miller' to play a wise man, either.

But I never loved the show. And I think that's because I was supposed to have more time with it. There was too much unreached potential. The plan was in place for a five season show, not a 15 episode story.

Luckily, thanks to the power of dvd box sets, Universal realized there was an audience and made a feature film. And it's good. It's much better than 'X Files: Fight the Future' which didn't help anyone storywise but managed to pull me into that show. 'Serenity' actually fulfills the potential of the series, wrapping up nearly every thread in one coherent story that doesn't alienate an audience that's never heard of the show.

It tries to be two things at once though; a launch of a film franchise and a final episode. It mainly succeeds as the latter and with the box office it's been doing, that was probably the smartest move.

FOX has been way too trigger happy with their shows over the last five years. 'The Tick.' 'Andy Richter Controls the Universe.' 'Firefly.' 'Family Guy.' All had great potential and none lasted a full season. If 'Futurama' wasn't a spinoff of 'the Simpsons' it wouldn't have lasted as long as it did. Some of these shows have become successes on dvd. Some of these shows have become successes on other networks. One of them FOX even had to bring back.

The quick fix of reality shows has long blurred the network to the fact that a good show needs time to take off. 'Cheers.' 'Seinfeld.' 'Everybody Loves Raymond.' These shows did HORRIBLY in their first season and if they were on FOX, none of them would have survived. It's even hurt syndication since there are less and less shows that have a long enough run to repeat. Come on, FOX, take the hint. I'm tired of feeling nervous about "Arrested Development".

Monday, October 17, 2005

Some random thoughts about weddings

I've been trying to come up with a post about Andrew's wedding Saturday but I haven't been able to turn it into a story. It was more of a series of random images.

It occurs to me I've been to about 25 weddings, five wedding parties and my own marriage has been going for 18 months. So I've picked up a few trivialities:

A tuxedo stops looking glamorous once you notice all the waiters are wearing them too.

After one month your wedding band builds up a serious callous in your palm.

The one thing you think no one noticed during the ceremony? That's all they noticed.

Every best man speech must insult the groom then add, "but he did okay because today he married this fantastic woman." Do it the other way around and the bridal party will punch you.

If more than two people get up to make a speech, it will invariably turn into drunken sobby ramblings.

The hour before your wedding is the most stressful time in your life. This is compounded by all the idiots telling you it is the happiest day in your life.

You have to dance. There is no way out of this. YOU HAVE TO DANCE.

If you are the newly married couple, you're not going to spend much time together. It feels wrong but it happens.

The meal is one fifth as important as the open bar.

If you have a live band, people dance. If you have a dj, people sing.

If Jimmy Walker is there, you're gonna hear "Piano Man".

No one wants to pose for the wedding pictures. Not before the wedding, not between the ceremony and the reception and certainly not after you've gone through a bottle of champagne.

Your honeymoon gets better with each check you open.

The parents will always stress out more than the couple. That's because no matter who pays for the damn thing, the parents look responsible.

The bride is in charge of the wedding planning. The groom is a consultant. If the groom agrees to everything, the bride will assume he's not paying attention and yell at him. If the groom disagrees with bride's choices, she will yell at him. As a groom, pick only five things you care about. And be prepared to get yelled at for every one of them.

The groom should only pick groomsmen that make him laugh. As a groomsman, that's your only job.

Separate your ceremony and reception into two buildings and people are going to skip one. And it's not going to be the one with the free booze.

If you are married already, know exactly how long you have been married. Because people will ask.

Hooking up with a bridesmaid at a wedding is an urban legend. Anyone who says it happened to them is only propagating the legend and building the false hopes of single men everywhere.

Going to a bar after the wedding always seems like a bad idea. But it's a really good idea.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

You make the call.

Just got back from Andrew's wedding and a day with my sister seeing "Serenity". Lots to talk about? You bet. But I've wasted all my writing time doing things I'll write about. And I like to sleep. Out of all the bodily functions, sleep is my favorite. I'm going to do some now.

So you tell me a story. Leave a comment, the longer the better. Or just complain about the last guy who commented. I loves me some silly flame wars.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Mosquitos pee?

Today is freakishly busy so I'll leave you with a quick thought.
I love to check my hit count to see how many people are looking in and why. Someone put in both 'mosquitos and comics'(God knows why) and lo and behold I pop up.

But the top link in that search was this study about a scientist who's trying to make mosquitos pee themselves to death. That guy's crazy. And a god to me.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Air Force needs dilithium crystals

I just stumbled on this article that says the Air Force spent $25,000 last year on a study of teleportation physics to transport people and cargo through space.

In the words of the great William Shatner himself, "You're gonna die."

Sorry. I mean, "It's just a tv show."

They do know there's a war on, right? I want transporters as much as the next guy, but if we're looking to Star Trek for ideas here's some things I want first:

Food replicators
Containment fields
Green Orion slave girls
Universal translators
Medical units that heal broken bones in two seconds
Warp drive
Pointy sideburns
Blood wine
Nicole DeBoer

There's no better punchline than this quote right in the article itself:

"I would say that something is wrong with the way the Air Force allocates its research money, at least on this topic," said Phil Schewe, the chief science writer at the American Institute of Physics.

Amen, Phil. Amen.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Howard Beach is guilty again.

So one of the guys plead guilty to the racial attack in June. You wanna tell me why this happened again? Didn't we just get out of a decade where the chant "Howard Beach" could be used in the place of "Attica"?

If you were in New York City in the late '80's you watched your ass. If you liked Public Enemy, you didn't go into Howard Beach. If you liked Tony Toni Tone you stayed out of Bed-Stuy. I was a Guns n' Roses fan so I watched my ass everywhere I went.

But I had a lot of friends in Howard Beach. Good friends I still have twenty years later when most people have dropped off the radar. None of them were involved in racial attacks. None of them were plotting racial attacks. Most of them just wanted to drink beer and listen to Black Sabbath. Oh yeah, and avoid John Gotti. But because of four idiots in 1986, they couldn't tell people where they were from.

Then the media showed up. Al Sharpton marched. They made a fucking tv movie about it. I believe it was shot in Chicago. And it starred Daniel J. Travanti. Basically, it took a very long time to get rid of the stigma.

Now it all happens again. It's a wonderful study of morons not learning a lesson that was drilled into them for two decades. So let's say you're a horrible racist. Let's say you're pure evil and you can't control it. Let's say you just have to beat on someone that's a different color than you. Because you're evil, like I said. You can't take your victims over the bridge to Broad Channel? Jesus.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Comics and girls

I keep coming back to this article by Johanna Stokes about introducing your girlfriend to comics. Maybe it's because Renee has loved some comics and sci-fi and hated others and I want to know why. Maybe it's because I'm wondering what percentage of comic fans are willing to share their comics anyway. Or maybe it's just the picture of Johanna Stokes.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Brain dump

I've just finished a personal writing project I've been working on for the last 15 months so I'm a bit fried at the moment. More than that, I'm relieved. There were times I didn't think I'd see the end of it. We'll talk about it some more if it becomes something. Right now I'd like to not think.

Until my brain comes back, let's all dance on the grave of reality television.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Ashlee Simpson sings again

Why did we let this happen? SNL let Ashlee Simpson back on to sing Saturday. Fifteen years ago Milli Vanilli was so humiliated that one of them shot himself directly after making a VH1 Behind the Music. But Ashlee Simpson? Oh, go on kiddo, try it again. After all, her sister is untalented and famous, that's got to mean something.

Is the marketing machine so powerful that even if we expose the untalented they won't go away? Sometimes I feel that the media lives without us. They decide who we like and if we don't like them, well no one notices.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Mike Wieringo

I own five pieces of original comic artwork. Two of them are from Mike Wieringo. I love his cartoony, exciting, emotional style and his blog showcases original artwork nearly every day. It's over here.

I met Mike once at a convention years ago and he's nice nice nice nice. Four is the exact number of nice to accurately describe him.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Oh God no.

Stately Wayne Manor has burned down.

You know what bothers me? In college, this girl drove me all the way out to Long Island to see this house. It wasn't in Long Island. It was in Pasedena. And she wouldn't make out with me.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Bush ruins another holiday weekend.

This just pisses me off. With Bush's approval rating on the ropes, he does the only thing he can do; act all scary. First he gives a speech how everyone in the world wants to kill us. Then all of a sudden, an announcement comes that terrorists might bomb the subways.

What am I supposed to do with this information? I have to get on the train. I have to go to work. I have no system for spotting and detaining potential terrorists. I can't take an alternate route and avoid the river. I guess the government just wants me to know, "By the way, you may be murdered". Thanks. Duly noted.

And it's Columbus Day on Monday. Have you ever noticed every three day weekend the government tells us we might die? They used to raise the color alert until we forced them to stop it. Or stopped paying attention, I'm not sure which. But they really don't want us to relax. It's the same old 'rule by fear' tact that this administration has always taken. I guess they have yet to learn you can't stay afraid forever. Wait long enough and fear turns to anger.

Reverend calls Harry Potter gay

Oh, I love this. Seems in London, a Reverend Graham Taylor gave a talk at a school that completely degenerated. After discussing his own book to the delighted 12 year olds, he began to rant against his competitor, calling Harry Potter 'gay' and a 'wimp'. He was assaulting the medium of television before the teachers hauled him off.

I don't find the homophobia funny. What I do like is this guy ranting and raving in front of a class until the teachers had to step in. That is classic comedy and I wish I had seen it. My favorite part is where he says he was joking (the lamest excuse for offending people ever). He was quoting 'Little Britain' which is very popular in England. On the telly. You know, that medium you just called 'crap'.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Sir Paul

Yesterday I got a call from my friend Dave Charles. We'd been trying to get together for the last five months but for one reason or another it just hadn't happened. As soon as he said hello, I began to wonder if I can meet him at McSwiggans for a quick pint. But he didn't ask me to. Instead, he casually mentioned, "I got an extra ticket to see Paul McCartney tonight. Can you make it?"

Fuck yeah, I can make it.

Dave just happened to get a serious hookup from his ex girlfriend at MTV. His current girlfriend couldn't make it so I got a free ticket. We got a couple of pints and hot dogs then walked down to Madison Square Garden right after work.

I've been a serious Beatle fan since the age of 13. In fact, I did not buy another record until I was 15 because I hadn't yet mastered their entire catalog. I've gone to Strawberry Fields every year on the anniversary of John Lennon's death. But I never thought I'd see one of them play.

We were completely unprepared, to say the least. First off, neither of us bothered to wonder how good these tickets might be. Until we walked through the gate and saw the stage right in front of us. There was no opening act but there was a 10 minute video showing Paul's recollections from childhood through the Beatles to today. That's when it hit me. I'm going to see a Beatle. A Beatle is going to walk out there and play Beatle songs for me. If I had a can of soup I could hurt a Beatle with it.

Paul opened with 'Magical Mystery Tour' and immediately I see he's playing THE bass. For a musician, seeing that Hofner bass is almost as important as seeing Paul himself. I thank Elvis Costello for forcing Paul to pick that bass up again because now I can see it and hear it. He switched it now and then for one of the only original left handed Les Pauls in existence and the acoustic he played on the Ed Sullivan show. Lesson learned; treat your guitars well and you can keep playing them forty years from now. At Madison Square Garden.

The amount of songs he's written is staggering, and it's matched by his energy. I thought Springsteen had stamina for his age but Paul's got at least ten years on him. There were at least six times when I figured, "Okay, this is it. He can't play anything else" then bang. 'Helter Skelter'. 'Get Back'. 'Let It Be'. 'Jet'. 'Band on the Run'. 'Yesterday'. 'Hey Jude'. 'Please Please Me'. It went on and on. When he played 'Maybe I'm Amazed' I knew there was no going back. The man who wrote my wedding song is playing my wedding song in front of me. And kicking serious ass with it.

His band was fantastic too. I HATED his back up band from the 90's ('Paul McCartney and his Band of Twits' I used to call them) but he's changed all but one of those guys for new blood. The two guitarists and drummer were phenomenal, looked only a couple of years older than me and, dammit, I want their job.

Paul played for nearly three hours straight and we never once got over it. We said almost nothing to each other. Dave barely got out of his seat. By the end of the show, we were wiped. He did two encores and it was almost too much. I would have gone home satisfied after an hour but we got way more than that. I bought Dave a t shirt to thank him and we both went home, still dazed but our cheeks hurting from smiling.

Here's a really good review and set list of the show.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Bush's latest decision

How do you top a Supreme Court justice who seemingly has no views on the issues or at least keeps them to himself? Simple. You pick someone who's not a judge at all.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Adam West

Not to be outdone, even by himself, Walker now sends us this gem.

And that seems like the perfect opportunity to tell my famous Adam West story. I'm a huge Batman fan. My dream is still to write one of the comics someday. I love every variation on the character, from the violent Dark Knight to the crazy 50's stories where he'd turn into a fish. But when I was three, Batman was only Adam West.

I used to hold Adam West in a special place in my heart, one reserved for himself, William Shatner and Bruce Campbell. Then I met him.

It was 1998. My best friend at the time, Howie Weingarten, called me up to let me know the Mets were playing a double header. Loving baseball as much as I do now, I wished him luck. Then he told me Adam West was going to make an appearance. And sing the national anthem. I was there.

We got stuck in traffic on the Grand Central and didn't get inside Shea Stadium until the 2nd inning. To this day, I have no idea if Adam West actually sang the national anthem (it just sounds like something Howie would have found funny). But he was signing autographs by the gate. So we watched the game (I believe the Mets lost to whomever it was on the field with them) and made our way down to get Batman's autograph. The line was huge but we didn't care.

About ten people into the line, Howie noticed a sign listing the prices West was charging for autographs. Today this practice is commonplace but back then it seemed like a real slap in the face (I guess it still does). Howie was incensed. He couldn't get it out of his mind. I said, "Hey, shaking his hand is free. I'm just going to shake his hand." Howie got real quiet. Nobody liked it when Howie got real quiet.

Suddenly he turns to me and asks, "What was the name of that soft core porn movie Adam West made? The one Howard Stern showed?"

"Lady Chatterly."


Howie got real quiet again. People hated it when Howie asked you a question and then got real quiet.

Howie gets to Adam West first and shakes his hand. Adam West barely looks up. Howie says nothing and I breathe a sigh of relief. I go to shake his hand. Adam West's hand is huge! It wraps around my hand like a gorilla, or Stevie Ray Vaughan. It's limp but it still swallows my hand. I say "Glad to meet you, Mr. West." Suddenly I hear precisely what I do not want to hear.

"Hey Adam! Are you gonna make a sequel to Lady Chatterly?"

All of a sudden, this giant hand flexes. I'm trapped in the grip of an angry Adam West. Batman is going to crush my fingers. He gets real scary, scarier than you've ever seen him and I wonder if maybe he could have played the Dark Knight today. He gets up. Adam West is huge! And Adam West is going to kill us both right here in Shea Stadium.

Then a sound comes out of his mouth. It's one syllable but it is distinctively Adam West. It puts any impression I ever did of him to shame.


I pull my hand out of his grasp. This is not easy to do. It may have taken both hands. I run from Adam West in panic and slam into Howie. I start shoving him out of Shea Stadium but Howie is not fighting me. Instead, his hands are clasped, begging. He's screaming, "Please! Please make another Chatterly! Please!" Howie's got this evil smile on his face. I lived in fear of that evil smile and how it might make strangers beat me up. I shove him in the car and get him the hell out of there before Adam West pulls some batgas out of his belt. At that moment, I truly believe he could have.

I still wonder whatever happened to Howie (we lost touch years ago). I still wonder if anyone else had ever asked Adam West that question. And I still wonder, to this day, if my childhood idol could have murdered me in public.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Chewbacca plays baseball.

Walker just sent me this. I don't ever want an explanation as to why this happened.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Jerry Juhl

When Bob Denver and Don Adams passed away, there were stories all over the internet. Unfortunately, the news of Jerry Juhl's passing has been trickling like a rumor. He passed away on Monday, I saw the first report on Wednesday and finally believed it when Mark Evanier posted it.

Jerry Juhl was the main writer for the Muppets for over thirty years. He started with Jim Henson as a puppeteer but quickly moved to creating scripts for the puppets. He was the head writer on both The Muppet Show and Fraggle Rock and is truly responsible for the Muppet style; manic energy, corny jokes and characters that connected both with each other and the audience. It sounds cliche but the Muppets were so well realized that they weren't characters anymore.

Renee and I own just about all of Palisades' Muppet figures. They're on display in our guest bedroom and when people come over they say we're nuts (and Renee puts all the blame on me). But I always catch them staring at each and every character and smiling. In a way, they're visiting with old friends.

I don't think there's been a single show that influenced my comedy writing like 'The Muppet Show' and Jerry Juhl was responsible for more than I realized. And, when all is said and done, there are fewer lines that make me laugh harder than "Good grief! The comedian's a bear!"

He will be sorely missed.