Friday, August 24, 2007

I Know You're No Good

America* has been inundated with Amy Winehouse shenanigans for a while, and I think we may be getting burnt out on her. She's up for a VMA or two, she was "buzzing" for a while, and of course she's been all drunk and shit for a while. I think America needs a break from Amy Winehouse.

That said, she's really really good. I've been listening to Back to Black, and while it relies heavily on some considerably good background music and slick production, Winehouse's novel vocals and raw emotion really make it soar. It's an excellent album.


She can sing, she has a certain bizarre charisma, and she's unconventional. So now, Amy Winehouse, I have something to say to you:

Please don't die.

You are a year older than me. You have mountains of talent, and I know that crack is good, but jesus. I understand that your fucked-up-ed-ness informs your music, but you have to be alive to make it. Gain some weight, stop shooting herion into your clitoris, and make a few more albums before you die. I sort of imagine you making it to 35, becoming completely clean, and dying in a freak accident (maybe setting yourself on fire while ironing your hair?).

*Those of us who spend large amounts of time on the internet.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Come see my shows,


Aug. 25, 9:30 PM: Match Game

Sept. 6, 8:00 PM: Stand Up

Sept. 8, 5:00 and 7:30 PM: Comedy Sportzzz

Sept. 13, 8:00 PM: Cage Match Dual Duel, performing with John Loftin in the two-man sextravaganza that is Extraordinary Rendition.

Sept. 22, 7:30 PM: Comedy Sportzzz

I will also be doing some performing during 24Live in the last weekend in September, but I don't know in which shows. I know that the Harold team I am on will be debuting, so that's cool.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Monday, August 20, 2007

91.5 WUNC

I like NPR. I have a contentious relationship with some of the "star" shows: I often hate This American Life, but every time I want to shoot my radio in hopes that it will blow Ira Glass's shit-eating hipster smile right off his face, David Sedaris does a story and I am sated. And every time Dick Gordon (of The Story) puts on his smarmiest Canada-voice and tries to milk a cry out of a Vietnamese boat person, I realize that the stories he does are actually pretty incredible. I heard one in which he interviewed a woman who had been a comfort woman during World War II. I nearly broke down. The horribly improvised "sketches" on A Prairie Home Companion are nearly unbearable, but "News From Lake Woebegone" can be disarmingly potent, and the show nearly always has an interesting musical selection.

That said, none of the hosts of these shows can compete with my three favorite NPR personalities:

1. Diane Rehm: She's completely smart and unforgiving with her guests. If a guest makes a statement, she'll say "Why?". Today, I heard her let a guest finish a sort of non-committal, boring spiel. After he finished, she chirped "No! No! No! The question was X." She tackles really tough and diverse issues and has an excellent handle on all of them (today's topic was subprime lending and its effect on global markets). She's awesome. I don't even notice her voice when she holds court.

2. Lynne Rossetto Kasper: "Bubbly" would be an easy way to describe Lynne, but I prefer to use "passionate." She really knows her food, and you can hear her love for great cooking, eating, and drinking when you listen to her show, The Splendid Table. She also speaks about food with such a conversational grace that even pretty highbrow stuff seems really accessible.

3. Frank Stasio: He's probably not on a lot of people's lists, as he hosts a niche show about goings-on in North Carolina, but he manages to make what could be a pretty dull subject engage all sorts of rigorous material. He really gets art, especially, and is obviously well-educated. He's an incredibly incisive and fun interviewer. He has a nice voice, too, I won't lie.

Friday, August 17, 2007

I Bought A Camera

I've never been an avid photographer, and I never will be a good one, but expect a lot of Dragon*Con pictures in a few weeks.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

And Yet I Eat Fried Candy Bars

Weaver St.'s breakfast is really pretty good. They have good syrup, blueberry pancakes, a few other things, and the coffee is generally excellent.

One thing on the breakfast bar is just unconscionable, though. There is an item called "tofu scramble," which is just unseasoned tofu floating around in some oily water with onions, peppers, and whatever other shit they have lying around. It's not the tofu that makes it bad. I like tofu when it's cooked with some intention, some thought. This shit is just tossed in a pan with some other stuff and slopped into a dish. It's the organic equivalent of the "Salisbury steak" they used to give us in the cafeteria to meet state nutritional requirements.

Anyway, this morning the woman in front of me in line spent an excruciating thirty seconds cherry-picking the soggy tofu out of the dish, ounce by ounce. I watched it, horrified. It was sort of like the first time I watched Un Chien Andalou. I didn't want to watch, but I couldn't turn my face away from the razor slicing the woman's eye open.

Don't go to Weaver St. for breakfast unless you are there way early. Apparently the unemployed of Carrboro have infuriating eating habits, and they all eat at 9:30 AM.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Because I'm Sure You'll Want to Know

Dragon*Con is imminent, and I need to figure out the best way to document it. Here are my ideas:

1. Buy a camera. I think I can get one for cheap(ish) and even though I'm not much of a photographer, I think it'd be great to have one at Dragon*Con, one of the only places I've been where I've felt compelled to take pictures.
2. Blog. I'm not going to liveblog, but I may have time at night to sketch out some notes.
3. Twitter. This is distasteful to me, and would be difficult, as I don't have any way to do it while I'm on the move.
4. Telegraph. Duh.

MD's going to bring a video camera.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Nope. Nope.

These seeds do not spell "God". They clearly spell "Gio" in the Walt Disney script style. So really, this eggplant reminds you that a man name Giovanni exists, and that he goes by a truncated version of his name.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Are a Black Man and A Woman Really Okay With This?

Democratic frontrunners oppose gay marriage.

Hell, they oppose gay people, apparently.

I don't understand how advocating gay "civil unions" has suddenly become viable progressivism. If gay marriage is crowded out by gay civil unions, gay people are effectively relegated to second-class status (as if they aren't already sufficiently othered).

"But Joe, they'll have all the same rights as straight people! They can share property and kids and whatnot!"

Oh, boy! Let's replace "gay" with "black" in the equation:

Black person: Can I get married to another black person?
Politician 1: No! But I'll let you get "black person married". It's exactly like marriage, but it's not a marriage, because you people aren't allowed to get married. The Bible says so!

See? Fuck civil unions.

1-2-3 Ingestion

1-2-3 Ingestion
Originally uploaded by TedHobgood
We lost, but it was okay. Check out this kickass title screen Ted Hobgood made for us!

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Okay, Let's Try This Again

FOREWORD: I'm sorry for all the pot-bashing.

When someone knows that they are in real danger, they often flail wildly to get out of danger. If you trapped me in a corner and were going to kill me , I'd punch and kick and scratch and mewl until you either killed me or let me go.

Showtime's Weeds (or at least the three episodes I watched last night) starts out the series scratching a mewling. It knows it should be better than it is: it has a fun concept, a good lead actress, and licence to say "fuck" as often or as little as it wants to.

Despite this, the show falters. It tries to ride the premise of Mary Louise Parker's widow character becoming the neighborhood pot-slinger much farther than it actually can, without developing relationships. Parker's relationship with her sons is one of casual, accepting permissiveness. Her relationship with the local women is comically chilly, but comes off as superficial. The only character I really care about in the show is Celia, who hates her husband and children. The end.

Without relationships to inform the action, the show falls back on a few disparate moves:

1. Cute kids. Parker's son is cute. He has big teeth and is articulate. Precocious, even.
2. Suburban "weirdness". There is tennis-racket sodomy. I'm not sure if this is meant to shock us or hold the mirror up to our own middle-class depravity, but does this kind of stuff surprise anyone anymore?
3. Snippets of Gilmore Girls-style dialogue, but between pot dealers.
4. Kevin Nealon

So the show sometimes mewls and scratches, and eventually perishes. I'm going to give it a few more tries, though, as we have the DVD indefinitely.

The show's music is fucking great, though.

Now They've Taken the Ducks from Me, Too

I won't say that Jacques Cluzaud, Michel Debats and Jacques Perrin's Winged Migration is one of my favorite documentaries, and I won't say that it's terribly groundbreaking. I won't even say it's really a documentary, as it feels and behaves more like a poem. About birds.

But I still rather liked it, when I saw it. It's sort of like March of the Penguins with mercifully less Morgan Freeman. And I won't lie, I thought I was reasonably hip for having seen it (I was in college, we ambled over to the art theater and "caught a flick", whatever).

Well, that world has come crashing down.

I was watching Weeds* last night, and one of the characters insinuated that he was out of pot because Winged Migration was playing at "The Plex"** that week and that STONERS JUST LOVE THIS MOVIE.

I'm all for recontextualizing art, I really am. I just want art to be recontextualized in a way that I can participate in it. For now, I can't enjoy:

Or this:

And, apparently, I also am not fully experiencing The Big Lebowski.

Wait. Listen to me. I've just wasted thirty minutes of my life complaining--on the internet--about something that doesn't need to be complained about. I'm miffed because it's one more club that I'm left out of, and this time it's a club that I didn't even know existed.

I'm just cranky because I'm tired and my crankiness is enhancing my natural uptightness.

In conclusion, it's my birthday and you can go ahead and skip Weeds.

*Kind of shitty and boring. Just a quirky suburban farce in which people smoke pot. Yawn. Also, Kevin Nealon is not funny in this show. Not even a little bit.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

More Things that are Worse Than Being Hungry (But Not As Bad as Genocide)

1. Torture Porn
2. The Mystery Method

3. The Underdog Movie

Note: Watch that whole clip. I can't believe that this creepy guy and his creepy nerd disciples are getting a TV show that validates their creepy psychological date-rape.

Other Note: Jason Lee is the biggest disappointment in the world. I mean, he's pretty talented. I sort of like the Earl show. But this shit? He's also in the Alvin and the Shit-Eating Chipmunks movie. You heard me.

Can You Do A Crazy CIA Agent Voice?

Watch this video, by Carrboro expatriate and funny man Nick Faber:

Monday, August 6, 2007


What a weekend. Let's break it down.

Friday: Well, okay. I spent most of the day working, as though there was nothing too special going on. I knew that Katie and Becky were holding a late housewarming party that night, so I hung around Carrboro, and met up with Becky and her parents, who took us out to my favorite restaurant, Fiesta Grill. I had chicken mole.

So the party starts later that night, and there is great turnout. I'm thinking to myself "This is a killer party, good job ladies!" Then Becky walks down the stairs and makes an announcement that I am actually attending MY OWN BIRTHDAY PARTY.

Somehow I did not know this. The party was not a surprise, but the purpose of the party was. Man, they put some effort into this, too. Katie e-mailed everyone in the company, except me. Becky baked me a red velvet cake decorated to look like a UFO abducting me (because she knows I like-a the sci-fi), then managed to keep it hidden in the attic.

I stayed up until five battle rapping with Marc Kennedy and Remi Treuer. I said some things I'm not proud of, but I play to win.

Saturday: Woke up late, wished Becky a safe trip up to VA (for her sister's birthday), went to Milltown for brunch with Jon Loftin and Marc Kennedy.

Slept until 3:45. Played the 7:30 ComedySportz show. I thought it went well, and I managed to get ALL FIVE THINGS. Was incredibly tired. Skipped The Bourne Ultimatum to go to bed.

Sunday: Did some improv. Got a new phone. Did some more improv. Played Superman, and a dick-sucking Dick Cheney in our class Harold. So. Much. Fun. Drank half a bottle of wine and tried to get through Babel with Katie Shutrump. Failed.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

She is Kind of Hot Though

So, the band that might save rock and roll* and one of the great legends of popular music get on stage together. The result:

Watch that again. Wait until about the 2:35 mark. Is that Heather Graham? Trying to enjoy Arcade Bowie? I can't tell if she's succeeding. I dunno. It seemed strange to me.

*A big proclomation, but hey, this is the internet. I rather like them, at least.



As hubristic as this may sound, I'm starting to "get" Harold. I'm getting a sense of what I want to see in the third beat, I am figuring out what choices make for interesting scenes, and I can see the seductiveness of the form: how it builds itself, how it encourages reincorporation, how you can say something important by bringing evil character X into family scene Y and how that can be very beautiful.

Last night, I thought I had an experience with "Harold", the dude, the one who supposedly tells us what to do on stage. I made a move that went something like this:

1. In the first beat, there was a naked clown. This was very clearly defined. Naked. Clown.
2. Some other members of my ensemble initiated with: "Man, this nude beach is awesome!"
3. I walk on and say "Hey, guys, your elephant is shitting everywhere, you should do something about it."
4. My scene partners try to yes/and. I follow up with a detail about Ringling Bros. or something.

Okay, so I can see why that wouldn't pop like I expected. By the time I was saying "Circus," I was trying to help out my scene partners so they could button and we could get out of there. Still, I felt pretty good about it, in that it required no thought or work to come to it, and it was using the already-established reality of the piece. It was one of the only times that I've really, really reincorporated something in my short improv career. And I did a few other okay callbacks in the third beat, which pleased me. It wasn't so much that we had done a great Harold, it was that we had done one, and that the above move especially had made perfect sense in context of the piece we were doing (to me). My synapses fired and I could think of nothing else but that clown = naked.

Maybe my thinking was flawed, because I came off the stage feeling pretty good about what I had done, far better than I have felt about any other intersection I've had with Harold. And then we got notes.

I learned that all of the moves I made in the third beat were wrong. I'll readily admit that all of them could have been better. I initiated a boring scene, I was in a scene that took too long to get to the button, etc. But I was really demoralized that my elephant walk-on seemed so stupid to everyone. Nobody got it. The people in my class are smart, funny people and for some reason, they didn't understand that the naked people on the beach were clowns. It wasn't that the people couldn't be clowns, it's that no one understood that elephants are somehow associated with clowns. I can think of a few ways I could have done it better:

1. Hey Bozo, Chuckles, your elephant is shitting everywhere!
2. Sir, this is a proper nude beach, please take the red nose off of the head of your penis.

Okay, that's stupid. The first two would have made more sense. Hell, I could even leave out the elephant shit. It's just that, for me, the elephant connection made perfect sense.

Does this mean that I'm unfunny? If I make the easiest move I can make and nobody cares, why should I bother with it? I mean, I asked around, and got responses like this:

Me: If I say that someone owns an elephant, what do you think they do for a living? What kind of person are they?
Response: Zoologist.
Response: Elephant Trainer


Goddamit. I'm just disappointed by that and can't get it out of my head. So here I am, writing badly about improv that I do badly.