Friday, September 29, 2006

The World in October!

Here's the first week in October. I'm at the Improv every night until Tuesday so i've repeated the dates for tonight and tomorrow. As before, print out the ticket above and bring it in for half off!

Friday Sep 29 2006 Midnight

Saturday Sep 30 2006 Midnight

Sunday Oct 1 2006 10:00P

Monday Oct 2 2006 8:00P

Thursday Oct 5 2006 10:00P

Friday Oct 6 2006 midnight

Monday Oct 9 2006 8:00P

Thursday Oct 12 2006 10:00P

Friday Oct 13 2006 10:30P

Wednesday Oct 18 10:00P

Thursday Oct 19 10:00P

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Who Wants Action Figures?

I'm back to working from my home office for the first time in a few months and I've noticed something: I buy too many toys. The Balrog still has no place to stand and the closet is getting full of plastic bins. Stuff has to go.

I'm selling a bunch of my G.I. Joes on ebay. I got back into G.I. Joe two years agos because Marvel announced a line in the same scale. The idea of the Hulk picking up a G.I. Joe tank was too good to skip. At the same time, Hasbro announced they were discontinuing the 3 3/4" line. I went a little nuts. The end result? Marvel's new line was disappointing and the G.I. Joes came back. You can buy a bunch of them from me here.

I'm also getting rid of some Marvel Minimates. Between the samples I get from Art Asylum, a large box Joe Franzem gave me last month and the ones I bought I have quite a few extras. They're for sale here.

Bid early. Bid often. Get these things out of my house.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip

It's been two episodes and I'm already addicted.

I was home last night so I decided to catch the pilot of "Heroes". Not good. Overwrought "X-Men" rip-off that adds nothing new but melodramatic "Lifetime" crap. "Studio 60" follwed it and I left it on because RG had told me it was great.

It is. I never saw much of "the West Wing" but I can see what people loved. Aaron Sorkin definitely has a style. The way Joss Whedon or David Milch has a style. Just listen to the rhythm of the dialogue. It's fast, sharp and fun to listen to.

The cast is strong. Amanda Peet is not annoying. This is the highpoint of her career. Just being not annoying. Matthew Perry decided to stop making terrible movies and stretch himself as an actor. He pulls his persona over to drama effortlessly. So does DL Hugley who after finishing a long run on a sitcom no one watched leaves a talk show no one watched. Judd Hirsch was so damn good in the pilot I was pissed he wasn't a regular. And I had no idea Steven Weber was in this until he walked on screen. Smart career moves all around.

And for a drama it sure has some great insights on comedy. Monday's episode included this exchange.

"I got a huge laugh when I asked for the butter at the table read and nothing at dress. What did I do wrong?"

"You asked for the laugh."

"And at the table?"

"You asked for the butter."

That advice gave me a good set last night.

Looks like the pilot is gone but you can watch Monday's epsiode (which frankly was better) here. I hope they keep doing this because I can't count on being home every Monday.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Sunday, September 24, 2006


LOTS of family. I didn't get enough time to talk to everyone in depth. But here's my generation all together.

That's not even all of us. And here's my dad's generation, now the oldest Clarkes.

Good conversation for three days. Man, it was nice to have a break.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Going Away

Renee and I are headed up to Maryland today for the Clarke family reunion. The laptop is coming with me but until the day we have global wireless, posting will be iffy. If I'm out of communication, I'll see you after the weekend.

And don't try to break into my house. Tim Warner is there and he just quit smoking. So you'll be dead.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Elect Chris Perone

You'd be surprised how the low rungs of big jobs pay. People are surprised that I still have a day job even with regular gigs at the Improv. And people are more surprised that my art director is a state representative.

Chris Perone is running for his second term in Connecticut. He has no jurisdiction over me but I can tell you he's hard working, honest and cuts through the b.s. instantly. He also knows a hell of a lot about comedy and guitars. He has my vote. Except I don't live in Connecticut. If you do, vote for him this November.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Billy Shulz

I liek Rick Overton. I like Charlie Brown. I like short films on the internet.

Here then is the story of Billy Shulz, the illegitimate son of Charles M. Shulz. What's not to like?

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The World in September

The rest of September actually. As before, print out the ticket above and bring it in for half off!

Tuesday Sep 19 2006 10:00P TONIGHT!

Thursday Sep 21 2006 10:00P

Tuesday Sep 26 2006 8:00P

Thursday Sep 28 2006 10:00P

Friday Sep 29 2006 Midnight

Saturday Sep 30 2006 Midnight

Monday, September 18, 2006

Ricky Gervais and Microsoft

David Brent lives! Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant made these two training films for Microsoft that might as well be two more episodes of "The Office". Wonderful stuff.

Part 2:

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Jersey City Snakes

Spent the weekend at a sitcom writing class taught by Reid Harrison. He was fantastic, teaching us the realities of both the process and the business of sitcoms. He also created this website. It's a fictitious minor league baseball team and it's got Dave Thomas on it. Every week the comedy community gets a little smaller.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Little Miss Sunshine

Not what I was expecting. And I had no expectations. My only hope was that a cast this strong would deliver. And they did. Greg Kinnear has had the career every struggling actor dreams of. Going from a shitty talking head cable show to an Oscar nominated actor isn't the easiest of leaps. And while he never astounds me, he gives a solid performance that always believable. Toni Collette does a great job but she's given the least to do. Out of all the characters, she has no arc. Like most women roles, she's there to play straight man to everyone else. Steve Carell gives a fascinating subtle portrayal I'd never seen from him. If he keeps this up, he'll be the actor Jim Carrey wishes he was. And I love Alan Arkin. He's given me so many good performances I laugh as soon as he opens his mouth. His part is smaller than I expected but he makes every moment worth it.

As far as the plot, I'm telling you nothing. This is not a movie about plot. This is a movie about character and tone. It has a Hal Ashby quality feel to it. Think of a 70's film like "The Last Detail". Great cast, interesting story but you don't get the theme until you're halfway home. I don't see that enough.

Here's what the other critics thought.

Thursday, September 14, 2006


I find the best stuff on Mark Evanier's blog.

When I was 13, Dr. Demento started broadcasting on New York radio. He didn't last more than a year, but his show opened a new world of comedy to me. I heard song parodies from guys in the midwest with 4-tracks. I listened to George Carlin even though my parents warned me not to. I loved Monty Python for a full year before I ever saw them.

I also fell in love with Tom Lehrer. He's fairly obscure but the novelty songs he wrote in the fities and sixties were smart, elegant and had punches in unexpected places. I got "An Evening With Tom Lehrer" for my thirteenth birthday and played the living hell out of it. When a complete box set was released on cd six years ago, I got that too.

It was thent I realized I'd been listening to Tom Lehrer all my life. He wrote a few songs for "The Electric Company" and they were the best of that series. The video below is the best of those and it's Renee's favorite. The song is on the box set but I hadn't seen the animation in 25 years.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

iPod News

Yesterday Apple introduced a new line of iPods. The most salivating thing for me is that they've introduced an 80 GB iPod for $349. That's $50 less than I paid for my non-video 40 GB model two years ago.

But Apple downplayed this announcement. Instead they were rejoicing over the decision to make movies available through iTunes for $14.99 a pop.


Not that video iPod isn't nifty and $1.99 shows through iTunes aren't helpful (it's the only way I was able to catch up on "Lost") but why pay the same price as a theater admission for a copy worse than VHS? You can own a 2 disc set of Pirates of the Carribean for $11.99 or you can fork over three more bucks for a pixelated pan and scan version with no hard backup. Tell me why I should be excited.

This is just a stepping stone to that magic business model of downloading movies straight to your tv. With theaters consolidating in the face of declining audiences and dvd sales leveling off, this has to seem like the fatted calf to the studios.

In the midst of all this video clamor, I have a simple question. When can I load my dvds into my iPod? I have a mammoth dvd collection and I'd sure like to watch an episode of "The Simpsons" or "The X-Files" on the N train now and then. If you couldn't listen to your own cds in the iPod, it never would have taken off. Now's the time to do the same for video. Make it propriety if you have to, but make it happen.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Last Night at the Improv

Aaron started writing nights at the Improv where we can all critique each others' acts and brainstorm. With "The World" running seven days a week, the only time we can do it is Mondays at midnight. That hurts. Physically.

But I wasn't going to miss it. So I went home and tried to catch as much of a nap as possible before leaving the house at 11:30. It wasn't worth the wait for the train so I drove into Manhattan alone. This is big for me.

Since the NY Underground Comedy Festival is running, we've seen an influx of heavy hitters. Last night Rick Overton was there. He's been in over a hundred movies. He's been doing stand-up for 35 years. And he sat in on on the writing night.

For the next hour, he discussed comedy, stage presence and how to manage your career. The information was invaulable but his spirit was immeasureable. We've all been working so hard lately, we were in dire need of inspiration. Rick gave us that and more. He told me exactly what I needed to hear; don't let your head get in the way of your gut. Every time I overthink a situation, I screw it up. The brain is just storage, he said. Don't listen to it on stage.

On the drive home (still big for me) I realized I'm really in comedy. A lot has happened in the last eight months and it's taking all my energy to keep up with it. On days of five hours' sleep, barking in the rain and audiences of eight people, I wonder why I'm doing this. Last night was the reminder I needed.

Monday, September 11, 2006


Fighter jets are over the house. It's a different house now but it takes me right back to 9/11. And I don't need to go back there.

Tributes are all over the place. There's a miniseries on ABC and a feature film in the multiplex. Bush is running around the city grabbing every photo op he can find. All signals that we're allowed to feel sad. And that we haven't learned a damn thing.

I was a mile away from the towers when the planes hit. I remember seeing one tower standing. I ran uptown to get Renee and walk her over the bridge home. The swarm of people silently walking over the bridge made me realize what we were that day. Refugees.

We breathed in asbestos for two weeks. The government let us know that a month later. That should have been a tip off to how we were reacting.

In the five years since the attack we've gone from the most sympathized country to the most hated. We pretended to beef up security by frightening our own citizens. And, after sending troops in to find Bin Ladin, we redirected them into Iraq. It's like beating up the smallest kid in your class because the bully picked on you.

In every way, an event that should have woken us out of our complacency made us more selfish. We've proven ourselves to the be petty, immature country the rest of the world suspected we were. September 11, 2001 was a turning point for us. I can't help but feel we turned the wrong way.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Day of Rest

For over a year, I've updated this blog every day. I think you've gotten the message now that I'm dedicated. But traffic goes down on the weekends and I'm usually dashing something off quick to make my deadlines. My freelance job has stayed full-time for two months now. And the further I get in stand-up the harder I have to work.

So I'm dropping to six updates a week. Don't cry. I'm not sure if I'll take Saturdays or Sundays off but I'll only be updating once a weekend. The rest of the week will see regular daily postings as usual.

Fortunately, this announcement means I've updated both days this weekend. So the new schedule won't go into effect for another week.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

The Path to 9/11

Bill Clinton is calling for substantial changes to ABC's tv movie about September 11th, calling it "false and defamatory".

George W. Bush hasn't asked for changes because he doesn't know anything about 9/11.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Mo Mosquitoes

Long timers will remember my rant on mosquitoes last year. It goes double for this year.

By the way, killing them is not as satisfying as actually sleeping the night before.


Thursday, September 07, 2006

Audioslave Revelations

I love Audioslave. Their first two albums combined what was great about Soundgarden and Rage Against the Machine. Their concert last year was one of the best I've ever seen. And now I've finished their third album.

This band has always struggled to reconcile their two halves. The first album sounded like Chris Cornell singing with Rage Against the Machine. That may sound obvious but they barely sounded like they were in the same room. "Out of Exile" was better with equal contributions from all four members. At the time, I proclaimed their third album would be the one where their identity really came to the fore.

Was I wrong? A little. With few exceptions (the second half goes a little 'Superunknown') this record doesn't sound like Soundgarden or Rage. But it still doesn't sound like them. Audioslave has left their own catalogs but now they dip into Led Zeppelin and Smokey Robinson's. This album has a swing to it I didn't expect. The rhythm section has been listening to more Funk Brothers than Public Enemy this time. "Original Fire" is the 21 Century's "Going to a Go Go". There. I'm the first one to say it.

The playing and the production is again fantastic. Brendan O'Brien brings grittiness to a sound that Rick Rubin had polished. Tom Morello's guitar is the ugliest it's ever been. It sounds like the tubes in his Marshall are about to go on every song. He breaks his own riff style in favor of four chord acoustic verses that were the pride of Seattle. But his solos are the most nostalgic. Hear him dig into the whammy and wah pedal simultaneously on "Original Fire" and you'll think you're in the "Battle of Los Angeles" again.

The songs have less hooks but are somehow catchier. I dare you not to sing the chorus to "Revelations" the second time it comes around. And Chris Cornell's voice has rarely been stronger. He tends to write melodies he can only hit on his best days. Sounds like there were some good days in the sound booth. And thank God he saved his Katrina tribute for what was already the best song on the album ("Wide Awake"). The muscular drive of that song keeps his lyrics from becoming preachy and sappy.

I defend Audioslave regularly. A band with this much power can't be dismissed so easily. I just wish they'd come together into a cohesive whole. I've been waiting three albums now.

Hey Barton, what do you think?

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Crocodile Hunter

I want to hear the stingray's side. I think he'd say it was self defense.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Force Cologne

Here's the latest Play Cole digital video. This one's all Bill's. He wrote, shot and edited it all himself. Congrats on your first film, Bill!

Monday, September 04, 2006

Labor Day

What does today mean? Did the Labor Party blow up a courthouse on this day? Or is it just a testament to American laziness?

Wanna let me know?

Sunday, September 03, 2006

I Love Japan

Because it's the only country that thinks the ipod would be better if it ran around the room.

"This is a robot version of music-on-the-move that's so popular," said Miuro designer Shinichi Hara. Is that a bad translation or is he so crazy he said it like that?

Saturday, September 02, 2006

The New York Underground Comedy Festival

More shows at The Improv Comedy Cafe. Two tonight even! Print out the picture above and bring it in. You'll get half off.

Saturday Sep 2 2006 10:30P
The World New York NY

Saturday Sep 2 2006 midnight
The World New York NY

Tuesday Sep 5 2006 8:00P
The World New York NY

Thursday Sep 7 2006 10:00P
The World New York NY

Thanks to "The World" I've been entered into the New York Underground Comedy Festival. I was not expecting to be a part of this but I'm pretty psyched. The shows again will be at the Improv Comedy Cafe on 53rd St. and 8th Ave.

Friday Sep 8 2006 midnight
New York Underground Comedy Festival New York NY

Tuesday Sep 12 2006 10:00P
New York Underground Comedy Festival New York NY

Thursday Sep 14 2006 10:00P
New York Underground Comedy Festival New York NY

Friday Sep 16 2006 12:00A
New York Underground Comedy Festival New York NY

Friday, September 01, 2006

Orson Welles 5: The Union Forever

Let's kick off the Labor Day weekend by wrapping up Orson Welles week here on Not In My Book.

I'm a big fan of the White Stripes and this is a big reason why. "The Union Forever" from White Blood Cells is entirely based on Citizen Kane. Why? Cause Jack White knows it's a damn good movie.

I have no idea if this is the official video or fan made but it is really good.