Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Bush plays old computer games

The earliest PC games were text-based. And they sucked. When I was a kid, I played a Fantastic Four text game as the Thing. I fell into a tar pit and stayed stuck for two hours. I never turned it back on. Ah, Atari PC, how I don't miss you.

If you remember any text based games you'll find this as hilarious as I do. Once again, this comes from Dave W. who sends me all the funny stuff because his blog is full of pretty pictures.

Monday, January 30, 2006

All Hail Thad-Rock!

It's been a good week for good friends. One of my oldest and closest friends is Thaddeus Schneider, who's been working as an actor for years. I based a character on him for my first screenplay and once the script went to a film festival, we both used it on our resumes. Walker's talked about him on his blog before, too.

Thad-Rock has been working on an independent film for the last year or so and just sent me the dvd cover. Here it is (Thaddeus is the guy with the gun to his head):

Sunday, January 29, 2006

All Hail Andrew Torres!

Last night we went to NY Comedy Club to see Andrew's debut as a stand-up comedian. Over the last two weeks, he and I started doing open mikes again. Neither of us had done stand-up on a stage in about five years but with Play Cole getting stronger, we wanted to do more comedy. While I started writing and rewriting, he immediately booked a showcase. Pretty ballsy and it paid off.

We spent all of MLK day working out our acts. And last night Andrew didn't do a single joke from it. Somehow, in one week, he managed to make the leap it takes most comedians years to approach. He was comfortable, autobiographical and KILLED. He says the key is to give the audience something that no one else can. And it's not jokes about Paris Hilton.

Congratulations, Andrew. You can officially be called a comedian. Now let's shoot some more films.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Jon writes the X-Men

If you're a die hard fan of mine (there might be one of you), you'll want to get all the rare variants of my writing. That's why you should know about Art Asylum's new X-Men Minimates box set currently displayed at UK ToyFair. I wrote the box copy as a favor (and cause it's fun) and action-figure.com was kind enough to post a really clear picture of it like so:

Once it's released I urge you all to buy three or four and read the stunning paragraph at the top that tells you what happens in the dvd. Read it aloud and over and over. I'm all choked up.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Joke of the Week

Last night's class was the best yet. Afterwards everyone went out for drinks. Everyone. We didn't lose a single person, which astounded me. Anyway, as promised, here's the joke of mine that worked the best:

Russia accused the British Embassy of using an "advanced electronic spy gadget" in a fake rock. In related news, President Bush announced his beloved pet rock has died.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Chris Penn

This is a shock. Chris Penn was found dead in his home yesterday. Anyone who's seen "Reservoir Dogs" knows he was able to step out from his brother's shadow and deliver a compelling performance on his own. He will be missed.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006


Probably the most boring title I could have come up with.

I started this blog five months ago. My inspirations were Chris Diclerico where I used to post articles now and then and Mark Evanier who's the guy I want be when I grow up. This place has worked pretty well as a good amount of you stop by every day.

What's most inspiring is how many of you have started blogs on your own. Brian started the same day as me with a blog that's more conceptual than this one. A few months later Mark started his and revealed a stand-up comic yearning to break free. I check both of them every day.

That's why I'm proud to announce Bill Monroe's new blog. Keen observers will notice him as the straight man in the "Tension Envelopes" sketch. Bill's one of the funniest guys I've ever known and since we've been friends for twenty years, I've seen a lot of people to compare him. He's been living in Seattle for the last six years but thanks to email and long distance we keep up to date regularly. His new blog will make it even easier.

Monday, January 23, 2006

ABC finds Reasons Why Not

When I was a kid, the biggest t.v. failure ever was a show called "South of Sunset". It lasted three episodes and Letterman joked about it for six months.

Now ABC has outdone it by canceling "Emily's Reasons Why Not" after one episode. This is after promoting the hell out of it. There are giant billboards promoting the show in Times Square as we speak. In the spot where "Karen Sisco" used to be. Okay, bad example.

We're entering a scary age of tv. A year from now, new shows will be cancelled at the first commercial break and replaced with a half a "Seinfeld". No one will notice.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Raging Fred

Here's a video I didn't create but it is damn funny. Walker just sent me this version of Martin Scorcese's Flintstones.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

More Play Cole on youtube

Hosting "Tension Envelopes" on youtube has gone so well we've updated the other films to their server. Which means you can watch them all without leaving this blog. And why would you want to leave this blog anyway?

The First Commandment 3 minutes

The Job Interview 5 minutes

Blind Travelogue- Yellowstone 30 seconds

Friday, January 20, 2006

Comedy Writing Class

If you read Brian's blog, you already know that we're taking Mediabistro's Writing Comedy for TV class. It's been a dream come true. So far our homework has been to write topical monologue jokes. I never thought I could write a joke based on a headline before but I'm fairly pleased with the result. We write 20 for each class but I thought I'd share my favorite with you. I'll post these every week until we move into sketches and sitcoms.

Axl Rose is suing a Beverly Hills car dealer, claiming the dealership failed to deliver two luxury cars after receiving $20,000 dollars in deposits. In related news, Axl Rose wants the world to know he still has $20,000 dollars.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

A Play Cole Premiere!

I'm really excited about this. Andrew just posted our latest film "Tension Envelopes" at the Play Cole website. We shot this a month ago so YOU HAVE NEVER SEEN THIS. That means if you came to our screening last March YOU HAVE NEVER SEEN THIS. If you own our first dvd YOU HAVE NEVER SEEN THIS. If you downloaded all our other films YOU HAVE NEVER SEEN THIS.

But there's hope. You can see it right over here. It's 3 and a half minutes so the standard rules of watching it at work apply. Enjoy, then come back and leave a review.

UPDATE: Apple hates Play Cole! Looks like the traffic blew out Andrew's Apple site. I guess we need Playcole.com pronto. Thanks for showing Apple you love us!

UPDATED UPDATE: We've moved it to youtube.com which also lets us host it right here. That's the coolest damn thing I've ever seen. "Tension Envelopes" lives!

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Ricky Gervais

If you haven't heard of Ricky Gervais by now, soon you'll have no way to avoid him. He created the original version of "the Office" then imported it here (the US version just picked up a few Golden Globes). His next show "Extras" featured Kate Winslet, Ben Stiller, Patrick Stewart, Samuel L. Jackson and more in just six episodes.

Recently, he's written an episode of "the Simpsons", appeared in Christopher Guest's upcoming film and started these podcasts. I'm addicted to these things, mostly because they're complete nonsense. It's literally thirty minutes of Ricky and his writing partner Stephen Merchant torturing a third guy, Karl Pilkington. And obsessing about monkeys. That's the only way I can describe it so I'll just let you listen for yourself.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Jared from Subway

I've had it with this guy.

Look Jared, we're all real proud you lost the weight. But that doesn't make you a spokesman. It's been five years. Take some public speaking courses. Improv. Toastmasters, for crissake. I can't take it anymore. How you can sound like your mouth is full and yet you're out of breath at the same time is beyond me. Hearing you talk is like being stuck in a conversation that never ends. I know you're only on the air for four seconds. That's my point.

And what did you do with Clay Henry?

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Mitch Hedberg

To the surprise of no one, Mitch Hedberg's death early last year has been proven to be caused by a drug overdose. Mitch was always pretty open about his drug use in his stand-up. One of his oldest jokes was "I used to do drugs. I still do but I used to do them too."

I'm not going to launch into an anti-drug rant. I have too many fond memories of college for that. What really matters is what a brilliant comedian he was. He never really broke through into television or movies (aside for a few bit parts) but his observational laid back style made him my generation's Steven Wright, if not as well known. At least he made two albums before he left. I just picked up the second.

One of the biggest regrets of my life was not seeing this guy perform. Caroline's is directly between the office and the subway so I pass the display where comics have posted dates. It's worked out well since that's how we saw Gilbert Gottfried last month. Last year I saw Mitch's name up there and thought it would be great to see him 'next time'. There was no next time. I'm gonna have to learn to stop saying that.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Happy birthday Walker!

I'm not good with birthdays but for some reason I remember Walker's. He must have drilled it into my head through post hypnotic suggestion. But it's today and this is my gift to him:

Please leave your crazy ramblings wherever you want in my comment threads. Threaten the other posters, make no sense, write in all caps. It's your day.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Mummy lady

Rebecca sent me this as a warning but I think it's the perfect way to go.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Killing Bono

My Uncle Brian gave me Neil McCormick's book for Christmas and I'm surprised it took me this long to finish it, since I never wanted to put it down.

The autobiography is startling, to say the least. McCormick went to high school with all four members of U2 and watched them go from a lousy cover group playing in the youth center to the greatest band of our generation. Trouble is, Neil was in a band too.

Usually these memoirs have a clear turning point. That moment where the reader goes, "You moron! You're blowing everything! You deserve to fail!" That's what VH1's Behind the Music is based on; Schadenfreude. We see it coming a mile away and we know down deep in our hearts that we'll never make the same mistake. Because we're so much smarter than the author.

This book has none of that. Throughout the story, we see the sacrifices, dedication and strategy Neil puts into a dream that won't come true. Drugs don't take him down. Women don't distract him. And, as he shows on his website, he doesn't suffer from a lack of talent. His only problem was a fatal case of wrong place, wrong time. And to top it all off, he's had to watch his friends become not only successful in his field, but more successful than any musician in the history of Ireland.

I look at my writing career and I recall getting published six months out of college, writing five comics, four magazine articles and a host of greeting cards which saw print, a screenplay showcased at a film festival, a long career in advertising, and more projects going now than ever. Musically, I've played CBGB's twice. Hell, this blog is more popular than my last band's website.

But that doesn't matter. You should play music because you love it, not because you expect something from it. Music is a fragile, fickle thing, and nothing can make it collapse faster than pressure. It's probably why so few bands last. The moment is you force music to do your bidding, you strangle the life out of it. When I was 15, music was the only thing that got me out of my room. It gave me an my identity in high school and carried me through college all the way to my mid 20's. Some of the happiest moments of my life have been with a guitar in my hand. What more could I possibly ask of it than that?

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Marvel Legends

Wanna know how corporate America gets away with all its deviousness? It's because we don't understand it.

Let's take yesterday's toy news for example. At first glance it seems like Hasbro has bought the license to make Marvel figures. And Toy Biz won't be making them anymore. This is bad news for all the fans that love their Marvel Legends line. And what's not to love? For the last five years, Toy Biz has been making nearly every Marvel character as a 6" action figure with about 40 different joints. No other action figure has ever been this poseable. There are Spider-man toys that move every finger. People really like this.

So that's all gone right? Maybe. Maybe not. Turns out Hasbro got the license from Toy Biz Worldwide, which is a separate company that produces and distributes the figures. This may be a good thing. The production and distribution of these figures are horrible. If you want to get these figures, you have to haunt the Times Square Toys R' Us every morning before work and fight it out with this fat 35 year old Asian guy. That is not how I want to live my life.

Toy Biz is a different company from Toy Biz Worldwide. They design and create the prototypes, and direct the artists, sculptors and painters here in the states. When I worked at Art Asylum, it was Toy Biz that was my boss' client, not Toy Biz Worldwide. Now fans are happy.

But then they looked closer. And saw this line:

"Through the agreement, Hasbro has obtained the rights to develop products based on Marvel’s globally-known universe of over 5,000 characters in a wide range of toy and game categories -- including action figures, role play and preschool toys, board games and puzzles."

Develop? Doesn't that mean design? So the Marvel Legends line will end to be replaced by a completely new line of Hasbro's design? Will it look like Star Wars or G.I. Joe since that's what hasbro normally produces? Now fans are in, for lack of a better word, a tizzy. Some pronounce doom and gloom, some say maybe their Marvel figures won't break right out of the box anymore. Some just say, "But, but I want me my superhero toys."

So what does it all mean? Clearly, I have no idea. Neither do the websites that cover this stuff. Here's the best explanation. It reads much like the corporate mergers I've been caught in, when conflicting information held sway. I can just imagine the lack of reliable info travelling around the Toy Biz offices. It's obfuscating to say the least. If there's any lesson to be learned here, it's just how easily a couple of corrupt CEOs can confuse stockholders, leaving millions they can sweep up under cover of legalese.

I just want me my superhero toys.

Monday, January 09, 2006


I like Lost a lot. I think out of all the shows that try to be the next X Files, this one fares the best. Having Terry O'Quinn on the cast certainly helps.

But what is going on down there? Drunk driving, illigitimate children, robberies at gunpoint? What are these people, sociopaths?

You know who I blame? I blame Hawaii. That's right. They shoot the show down there and it makes them all loopy.

I love Hawaii. Renee and I spent our first anniversary there last year. I still have a ukelele case from there that smells oddly like skunk. But the place is just too laid back. Everyone is so damn comfortable that you just want to drive crazy, father illigitimate children and get robbed. Because the only reaction you'll get is, "Hey, Mahalo!"

Sunday, January 08, 2006


A stamp just went up two cents. With the internet now mainstream, this news seems a lot less relevant. How many envelopes do you drop in a mailbox these days? If it wasn't for Netflix, I wouldn't go near one.

No news on putting Jack Benny on the 39 cent stamp but it's such a perfect idea it's worth signing the petition.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Lou Rawls

Lou Rawls passed away yesterday from lung and brain cancer.

There was something I always dug about Lou Rawls. Maybe it's because "You'll Never Find Another Love Like Mine" is the coolest song with that long a title. He also had a four octave range. A guitar doesn't. You'll be missed, Lou.

Friday, January 06, 2006

The Lonely Island

By now, I'm sure you've at least heard about Lazy Sunday on Saturday Night Live. It's a hilarious gangsta rap that covers the Chronicles of Narnia, Magnolia cupcakes and Mapquest. The short film went unnoticed on the air but has become a sensation online. They're calling it a new lease on life for the show and another of those moments where they hand the show to the new kids.

Dave W. and I did a little digging though and found out it was written by the guys from The Lonely Island. Yeah, I had no idea who they were either but they were an L.A. comedy group that mainly created short films on the web. From the strength of their website, they were all picked up by SNL. Two are writers and the third, who appears in the short with Chris Parnell, is a featured player. Their success is a clear signpost that there are other ways to get noticed in sketch comedy than just the big improv schools (which is hope for all of us who bombed in improv 101). Check out their site and you'll find a lot more stuff which is just as strong.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

West Virginia mine

I keep thinking about the disaster in the West Virginia mine yesterday. I'm sure you heard the story; there was an explosion 15,000 feet below and 12 miners were trapped. First news came out that they were all alive. Three hours later they retracted the statement; only one survived.

What strikes me most is the reaction of the families. It's not so much that their loved ones were dead. It was that they were told the opposite. Hope is a fragile thing, mostly because it has to manufactured. It takes a lot of work to believe the best will happen. It's easier to be prepared for things to go wrong since, well, they usually do. You have to 'keep hope alive' but you get a 'sneaking suspicion' that things will fall apart. But when someone tells you to have faith, they're asking you to leave yourself vulnerable if things don't work out. That's what happened here. The families were resolved to mourn their husbands and fathers but management told them to believe. So when the miners didn't survive, the hurt went twice as deep.

Personally, I'm waiting for the outrage. This mine had 50 violations against it. The miners knew it was unsafe. Some were taking night classes to switch careers just to get out of there. And yet, management didn't want to lose their profit margins. The saddest thing is these days, it's hard to tell if any of them will pay for their crimes.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

More Arrested Development

I keep missing "Arrested Development" in its last lap around the FOX network but stories like this are precisely why I love it so.

I really hope Showtime picks it up. I don't have Showtime but I will keep buying the dvds.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

The Chapelle Theory

Dave Chappelle imploded his career like no one before. I saw him twice in the early 90's; once in Washington Square Park, proclaiming as loud as possible to anyone who would listen and once in my student lounge, talking to the seven people there through a cheap microphone. I can't say I was blown away but I was impressed with how hard the guy worked. Over the next ten years, I heard him on Howard Stern and saw him in that Mel Brooks Robin Hood movie and think, "this guy is gonna be huge." But it never happened.

Then he got a show on Comedy Central. I wasn't hopeful. Lots of good comedians have had shows on Comedy Central that ran six weeks. Dana Gould, for example, had an excellent one. I checked out the first few episodes of "Chappelle's Show" and always came away with the same opinion; one great sketch, lots of junk. The guy really needed to build a group around him. Just seeing him surrounded by day players wasn't strong enough. He needed comic voices who were as talented as he was, working just as hard.

Somehow, a few months later, it was the hottest show on the network. It was the biggest tv box set ever. Comedy Central gave him a record 50 million dollar deal. It must have been a record because I don't know what anyone else got. I have no idea what Jon Stewart or the South Park guys make but Chappelle's salary was headline news.

And then he ran away. He just ran away. Not like Martin Lawrence, firing a pistol on the street in his underwear. Not like James Brown in a high speed chase. No, he just ran away. To Africa. He claimed he couldn't trust anybody anymore. I still maintain if he had found people he could trust early on, he wouldn't have had to give back the 50 mil.

But my opinion is nothing compared to this guy's site. Our old friend Dave W. sent it to me and man, have I missed conspiracy theorists. This webmaster is king of the lunatics. Just picturing Al Sharpton, Bill Cosby and Oprah Winfrey sequestered in a hotel scheming, "What's to be done with this Dave Chappelle?" It's too good to miss.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Weird Al Yankovic

Still going through Bill's mp3s and I found something shocking.

He has every Weird Al album.

Now Bill may not want you to know this but there it is. Sure, Weird Al Yankovic used to be hilarious, but I used to be 11. Anyway, I figured I'd listen to one or two songs before I deleted them.

I've gone through three albums. What amazes me most is how long Al's career has been. I mean, he's had a LONG career. The guy's been making albums since 1982. He released his latest in 2003. Van Halen doesn't even have a record contract anymore and Weird Al's still making albums. He had his own movie (with Michael Richards) and a tv show. He has a live dvd. And he's still out there.

I think the only reason he slowed down at all is there's no songs out there to parody anymore. Can you name the biggest song of 2005? Neither can I. Between the record companies canning bands left and right, iPods, the Clear Channel and American Idol, we simply don't listen to the top 40 these days. We don't even know what they are. And neither does Al.

The other thing that astounded me was how limited his lyrical content is. Food. TV. Dentists. That's about it. Every time a song parody started, my first thought was "Is this one about food or a tv show?" I believe "King of Suede" was the only one that went to third base. And, I can't say this enough, he's still out there. Keep it up, Al. Give us all hope.

Sunday, January 01, 2006