Thursday, April 30, 2009

1959 Les Paul

I never thought I'd ever see one of these up close, let alone hear one. Thanks to the magic of Youtube I can almost do both.

Thank God they actually played the thing. Most investors would just lock it up and flip it. My Les Paul doesn't sound anywhere near that good clean. Luckily I'm getting new pickups soon.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Welcome Natalie Rhys!

My cousin Johnny now has two kids. I don't know how he'll do it. Luckily, he's a doctor and can work long hours away from home. And know exactly when he's going crazy.

Congratulations John and Michelle!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

New iphone?

I've been holding out for a 32 GB iphone which I assumed I'd get last year. The presentation last month on the new software was frustrating. But here's a report that makes me think I'll get one soon.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Avenue Q

Renee and I had loose plans for our anniversary. She wanted to meet in Times Square after work for dinner. I had to wait a couple of hours for the babysitter and in that time Renee went to TKTS and got tickets to Avenue Q.

We'd been wanting to see this show for five years. And I wasn't disappointed. IT's easy to do adult Muppets. Peter Jackson did it. Seth Green and Eugene Levy did a whole series about it. Throw a rock and you'll hit a video, an mp3 or fan fiction on Muppets cursing and having sex. Hell, I made one.

But "Avenue Q" manages to take the extra effort and hang a story on all the shock. It's at once a love story, an homage to "Rent" and a parody of "Sesame Street".

The technique is stunning to watch. As has been reported hundreds of times, the puppeteers share the stage with the puppets. There or no fake walls or camera frames to hide behind. It's a performance and a behind the scenes look at once. Puppeteers match eye contact and expressions with their characters. They switch from one puppet to another in the middle of a scene or voice two characters while a stand in mainpulates one. It must be what a day with Jim Henson must have felt.

I didn't fall in love with it. A funny thing happens to comedy when it ages. It loses its edge. Gary Coleman jokes must have felt original and sharp when the show opened. Now it's quaint. Spending an entire story arc on whether a Bert stand-in is gay doesn't challenge the audience today. And the songs meant to jar the audience simply delight them. This how can run twenty years but by then it won't be a pardoy of "Sesame Street". It will be "Sesame Street".

Here's a badly shot Youtube sample:

Friday, April 24, 2009

Happy Anniversary, Renee!

Five years ago, we got 200 friends drunk on champagne.

Today, Ben ate my Ferro Roche.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

New Play Cole Podcast!

We're back!

After a brief hiatus, we've got new audio commentaries of audio commentaries. And we're kicking this one off with a bang:

Blaxploitation gets updated in this dated movie. Maddog Mattern, Grant Gordon, Trafton Crandall and Jon Clarke join Mario Van Peebles for a pretentious study in shlock. Read people's names shaved into their heads! Watch Chris Rock smoke crack and cry! Break out your Dutch Angles!

Listen here or download us on itunes!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Writer's Room Tomorrow!


Aaron Glaser (UCB)
Kent Haines (Philly's Funniest)
Doogie Horner
Greg Barris
Mike Drucker (SNL)

hosted by Jon Clarke (Star Trek: the Sitcom)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Time: 9:30pm - 10:30pm
Location: The PIT
Street: 154 W. 29th St
City/Town: New York, NY

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Patton Oswalt

Patton closed a comic con with a new half hour. He did way better than I did at NYCC.

You can listen here.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Brian Regan

CNN has an interview with Brian Regan. No news. Just because he's awesome.

Here it is.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Transcendentalist Television 2

Man, Alex Grubard knows how to make people feel welcome.

I missed the first show but I really wanted to go to the next at the Yippie Museum. Then Alex called. A video slot fell through so he asked me to submit something. I gave him "Lois Lane" which has been out for awhile but always seems to do well. The next day he called and asked if I would tape the show. Since it would force me out of the house after a week of flu, I said "sure".

The Billy called. He was booked to be the musical act. Would I play behind him? I grabbed my modded strat and cube amp and headed over. In one day I went from maybe going to the show to appearing all over it.

And it was a great show. Ross Hyzer brought his usual genious as a pharmaceutical experimentalist. A second video by CoolGuygot rocked. Billy saved his lyrics until the actual performance so I got to hera the song for the first time while playing it. And Joe Rocha showed up at the end and kicked everybody out. Everything went perfectly. I got even got a parking spot.

The whole thing streams here. Jump to about 1:40 to see the entire show. I also taped it so we may get a few clips up on youtube.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Seven Sound Stratocaster

Three dollars just changed my guitar forever.

Last winter I swapped out the bridge pickup in my strat for a mini humbucker. It was a little complicated adding a coil tap switch into the tone control but worth it. The sound opened up on the guitar and my most comfortable instrument became one of my best sounding.

So what else could I do?

I always read a about a mod where with one toggle switch I could add two more sounds to the strat's native five. The stock sounds are:

neck pickup
neck pickup w/ middle pickup
middle pickup
middle pickup w/ bridge pickup
bridge pickup

That leaves neck w/ bridge and all on settings. The toggle switch promised just that. I picked one up for three dollars yesterday and set to work mangling a precisely tuned instrument. Drilling into the pickguard hurt a little but wiring the switch into the guitar was the easiest soldering I've ever done. It was finished in ten minutes and even came with a white cap making the new sitch invisible from a distance.

Now what else could I do?

I've retired my 17 year old Tele Plus. It sounded great but it was just too damn heavy. And the older I get, the heavier it will become. So I've been cannibalizing parts for the strat. I'd already stolen its locking tuners and tremsetter. Now I really wanted to swap the bridge with its pop-in whammy bar. I thought I could do it simply by switching teh tremolo blocks under the bridge. Ten minutes and two dissassembled bridges later, I found I was wrong.

Now I had a problem.

Once I had taken the bridge saddles apart, I had completely undone the perfect intonation work. This terrified me. Intonation can be a very tricky process. I had NEVER been able to do it. You could usually stop me from making any adjustment to a guitar by saying, "You know, that'll fuck up your intonation." Now I was starting from scratch. I could either give up and find a tech to do it for me. Or I could go online.

In a minute and a half video, I learned what I needed to know twenty years ago.

Bridge Intonation: Fender Strat Setup -- powered by

That could not be clearer. I spent twenty minutes with my tuner and the guitar sounds even better than before. I'm still screwing with the action (can't find a comfortable setting) but I can't believe I can do this now. It's like a kid learning to tie his shoes for the first time. I was so excited I fixed the intonation on my Les Paul. Didn't even know it was off.

How to Set the Intonation on a Les Paul Guitar -- powered by

Thanks, Expert Village!

I also started sanding the inside of the guitar for better resonance. I realized I had no idea what I was doing and stopped.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Top 50 WTF Moments in Comics

Ed writes us all the way from Seattle with this gem. Of course you have to wade through a ton of pop-up menus for a Comedy Central concept worse than anything I ever pitched to them.

I miss Ed.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Another Strange Dream

I'm going to blame the flu on this one.

I was walking through a hospital (it was a hospital on the Death Star but that's besides the point) and I entered a room. Jim Henson was in bed. It wasn't the real Jim Henson as this dream takes place in present time. They had just hired an actor in case anyone who wanted to say something to the real Jim Henson never got the chance.

I felt kind of silly but I went to him. "Mr. Henson? I don't mean to take up too much of your time but I'm a writer and performer and I've based much of my style on your work on the Muppets. I just wanted to thank you."

The actor playing Jim Henson was gracious, if a little awkward. I walked out and Mike Lawrence went in. He asked Jim Henson for work.

Monday, April 06, 2009


I'm not the most in touch guy around. My attempts at topical humor prove that. But is there really a market of guys out there who want to smell like Jim Kirk?

Friday, April 03, 2009


DO NOT deal with them.

I have a LOT of data. The last few years I've gone all digital with my pictures, work, music and comic. So I've learned to back everything up. Often.

I have a 500GB Western Digital MyBook external next to my computer. I dropped the first one and WD replaced it before I even sent it back. I appreciate that customer service more than ever now.

The MyBook was getting full (I have a LOT of data). So I went to Best Buy for a bigger one. Seagate makes a 1.5 TB drive. I hadn't used them before but I figured a hard drive is a hard drive.

Mistake #1.

A few months later, the Seagate died during a backup. It would add a couple of files and crash, taking the desktop with it. I no longer had the box or the receipt. I figured that was the end of it.

Bill visited and suggested returning it to the manufacturer. He assured me the loss of the box and receipt would be no problem. Just go online and register it on their website.

Mistake #2.

It took twenty minutes through their Gordian Knot of a site to find the return page. I had to enter the serial number four differnet times. And once I was done, all Seagate sent me was a pdf on how to ship it back. It mainly told me to put it in that box I don't have.

So I ship it. And a week later I get three emails from Always a helpful sign. The last email said this:


Seq Seagate PN/
Customer PN PN Description/
Cust Line Ref # Issue Date/
Receipt Date Req Qty/
Rcv Qty # Exp Not Rcv Qty/
OOW Charges


1 9ZB2A8-570 ST315005FDA2E1-RK 20-MAR-2009 1 1
1 1 No receipts 0 0.00 0

Serial No Expected Not Received: 2GEV3H2H

3 9ZB2A8-570 ST315005FDA2E1-RK 20-MAR-2009 0 0
3 RETURN UNREPAIRED 27-MAR-2009 1 0.00 0
Serial No Received: 2GEV3H2H


Total Requested Quantity : 1
Total Clean Received Quantity : 0
Total Expected Not Received Qty : 1
Total Discrepant Quantity : 0
Total Return Unrepaired Quantity : 1
Total OOW Charges : 0.00


Dear Sir or Madam,

Your RMA (Return Material Authorization) Number is 1001733990.
Your Order Reference Number is 1001733990.

This document details the RMA as received. If there are any differences from the Order Acknowledgement, please amend your records accordingly.

Best regards,
Seagate Technology

when inquiring about or sending in your order

To this day, I have no idea what it means. For awhile I thought they had lost the drive. They seem to have a serial number but don't have the serial number. The serial number is on the drive itself but no one can find it. Do they need the store receipt? The one they never asked for? Did they not like the way I shipped it back? Do they just hate the Irish?

Yesterday I get a phone call. UPS is delivering something with a tracking number that doesn't work. Stay there. Don't take a shower. Don't go into a room where you can't hear the doorbell. Just wait for UPS.

Today they delivered the drive. It wasn't a replacement like WD sent me. It was my old drive with stickers on it. Stickers with more serial numbers and abbreviations. And two wires sticking out of the side. I picked it up and broken plastic rattled inside it.

Just to satisfy my own curiosity, I plugged it in. My data was still there. And it crashed.

Now I'm just confused. Seagate didn't fix my drive. In fact, they broke it a little more. But why send it back? Why pay the expense to send me a more broken product back? And why make me fucking sign for it?

Bill figures they're not a company set up for end users. I don't think they're a company set up for humans. Unless that human is Franz Kafka. It's one thing to screw me but why spend your own money to screw me? It just doesn't make sense.

BTW, the WD MyBook drive? Still working perfectly.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Elmo's Potty Time

Ben is saying 'poo poo' a lot now. A clue he's getting ready to be potty trained. That's going to be interesting.

To build his enthusiasm, we bought him an instructional dvd hosted by Elmo. It's clear, positive and damn hard to keep a straight face through. This is an actual song from that dvd. IT IS NOT THE FUNNIEST PART.

There are a slew of gems on this video. Like a close up of Elmo saying, "I call it pee pee and poo poo." Or singing with Grover "Accidents Happen". Or possibly the reatest is when they interview little girls who give their own words for pee and poo. 8 children yell in unison "I need to urinate". And one girls, who I'm assuming was not coached, confesses "I pee when I'm asleep". The video is brought to you by the letter P and the number 2, for God's sake.

You can see how bizarrely inappropriate this is for the license. Did you know puppets crapped? But, as always, they're hearst in the right place. And laughing at it in front of Ben would defeat the purpose. So I think the next time this goes on, I'll just step out of the room. I'll tell him I need to 'tinkle'.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

April Fool's Day

Amateur hour.

Do me a favor. If you're going to play a joke on someone, make sure it IS a joke. With a punchline. Not a lie. Like this:

"Your mother died."
"April Fool's!"

That is not comedy. That is creul abuse and says more about suppressed hostility towards your coworkers than you would like to admit.

If you can't think of a joke, sit back down. Like St. Patrick's Day is not a license to be a drunken mess, today is not a license to be a douchebag.

Here's an example:

Hot Toys making X-Men Movie Figures

Now, if this is true, it's undeniably cool. Hot Toys made the most beautiful 12" Batman figures I think we'll ever see. And I can't wait for the Iron Man I've had on order since the summer. I'm not the biggest fan of the movies (or the X franchise) but I might pick up a Hugh Jackman Logan.

If it's not true then it's a douche move. And not because I'd like it to be true. It's because there's nothing funny in this. There's no punchline other than "I just lied to you". Is the tip off the fact that no one else has reprted this yet? If the article was on Howard the Duck figures, now you'd have a joke. Instead of betrayed trust from a news source.