Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Music Video of the Day: Vistosso Bosses, "Delirious"



The outfits, the greenscreened images, the Soulja Boy intro, the dancing, the sickly-sweet adolescent romantic theme-mongering, the chorus, which has colonized my brain -- all of it make this video the best. Happy new year, bitches. See you in '010.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon Are Over, But This Picture Lives Forever


Hey, E, sorry I bummed you out with my last post. Let me make it up to you--and everyone else. May all your other sordid fantasies come true this Christmas, as E's have with the picture above.

A Very Special Hollywood Christmas


In Hollywood, nothing is sacred. You should know that by now. Silly you, thinking these two would make it, what with their love and idealism and graceful aging and being model citizens and all.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

superfluous and belated movie review of the month (and probably year): (500) days of summer

i fully expected to hate this movie and i highly doubt i would've even bothered to watch it were it not showing on my flight. so i suppose you have to take some of my positive impressions with a grain of salt, since i tend to have irrationally exuberant feelings about any movie watched on a plane. except the pianist--don't ever watch a movie about the holocaust before a vacation. it's a downer.

(500) days of summer begins with a despondent joseph gordon-levitt (aka that kid from 3rd rock from the sun), lamenting to his friends about the demise of his relationship with zooey deschanel. not exactly a spoiler to disclose that, i don't think. then the movie backtracks to follow--rather jaggedly--the arc of their relationship. i enjoyed this movie--it was light, very entertaining and just clever/gimmicky enough. the "falling in love" montage was one of the better i've seen in, urgh, a romantic comedy. the movie does justice to the absurd highs and equally ridonculous lows of infatuation and the mental shuffle we all engage in postmortem.

a few reviewers complained about how thinly drawn zooey deschanel's character was and how she barely seemed worthy of all this devotion. but isn't that always the case in movies? like who knows why lloyd dobler was so obsessed with diane court, aside from the fact that she's the valedictorian "trapped in the body of a game show hostess?" she didn't have much of a personality, as far as anyone could tell. i didn't know anyone like diane court, but i definitely knew girls like summer--irrepressibly cute, looks good in wide-legged and high-waisted pants (a lethal combo for most anyone over 100 lbs), just hot enough to draw guys in and just cold enough to keep them wanting more, emotionally detached, inscrutable, etc. in other words, every emaciated hipster dude's dream girl.

in summary, if this movie happens to be offered on your flight somewhere and you have 90 minutes to kill (which you presumably do if you're flying), i recommend you watch it. you won't regret it!

[will try to post a photo laterz...]

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Sopranos' Lost Ending



Courtesy of my boy 'Ziz...Cold ass shit, this. Also, One Tree Hill, where have you been all my life?

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Great Powers, Great Responsibilities -- Part II



I killed Estele Getty. I caused Morgan Freeman's car accident. And now I've arrested Brittany Murphy's heart. On Monday, I made a passing reference to one of Tai's great lines from Clueless and wondered aloud why we have a Brittany Murphy tag on this blog.

By Sunday Brittany Murphy was dead.

There are no words.

We can argue about fate, about a little read blog's murderous powers, or we can watch the above video wherein which Rue McLanahan parodies Brittany Murphy's character Tai from Clueless.

What the fuck is happening, people??

Also, sorry, Rue McLanahan. I cannot control what will befall you now. You deserve better. Forgive me.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

let's rap about brownies



in the alternative:


how did alicia keys keep a straight face? hilarious.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

American Politics, the Last 48 Hours


Today, John McCain pitched reviving the Glass-Steagall Act, which would separate commercial and investment banking and lead to the break up of the megabanks, and which Obama and his economic advisers oppose; and today the White House admonished Howard Dean for saying the Senate Health Care Bill should be scrapped and reconciliation should be explored so that we might get a semblance of a public option/Medicare Buy-in; and yesterday, the White House refused to say one word about Joe Lieberman's unprincipled murder of Medicare Buy-in; also, yesterday, Obama's DOJ reiterated its Bush-era position re an expansive and unprecedented States Secret Privilege in asking the 9th Circuit to overturn its ruling in the Jeppesen rendition case.

I know I am supposed to talk about politicians only in terms of how they depress or inspire me, or how imbued with evil or goodness they are, but cold, hard facts are confusing me. Quick, somebody please send me pictures of how cute the Obama kids are or yell at me for questioning our fearless leader, whom we should all love without condition and with complete disregard to the things he actually apparently stands for.

When the only thing that we ask of our President is that he not be as much of an asshole as the last guy -- or at least draw on pretty words, not his Jesusy whims, when he decides to be exactly as much of an asshole as the last guy (on national security issues)-- then we ask nothing of him. And nothing, apparently, shall we receive.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Emeryville, Ca. to Chicago


California Zephyr from Manan Desai on Vimeo.


Hey, look. Blog reader Manan -- who may or may not comment on this blog under an alias which I will decline to reveal -- did a neat-o video of his train trip from Emeryville, Ca. to Chicago. He was out here visiting 'Pockets and me for a couple of months, scouring Berkeley archives, crushing it on Wii, and eating all my fruit snacks. Now he's back in A2. Sad. 

I'm Not Going to Spend My Life Being a Color



E, You're feeling down today, since Lloyd Blankfein, your ertwhile hero and future husband, turns out is not the stand-up dude we thought him to be. I want to cheer you up. If I knew how to Photoshop, I'd put your face in place of this girl's--although I don't know that I have ever seen you with as pained an expression as hers. It's like the photographer captured the very moment her appendix burst. Still the picture is saved by our boy M Sizzle. You crazy for this one, RNC! Urban suburban hip communities be my jam!

ps -- I really wanted to put a still from the Michael Jackson "Black or White" video next to this picture. You know the still I mean. The one where after the rap interlude, MJ and Macauley strike the same timeless, hoppity hip shoulder blade to blade, arms-crossed pose. But all I could find was this.

Monday, December 14, 2009

it's funny cuz we're assholes

why did john mack, dick (harhar insert obvious joke here) parsons and lloyd blankfein fail to make it to DC to see the president today? inclement weather! uh ok, so there was fog in DC or something, but what, no amtrak? as wunderkind andrew ross sorkin points out, these dudes made it to DC with less than 24 hours notice to collect their TARP funds last year...these guys have like negative short-term memory.

on the other hand, this could be a net positive for us all. y'know, maybe we are finally at the end of the recession, since i don't think these jerks will blow off the president unless they were pretty damn sure they won't have to return to DC with their hats in their hands any time soon.

right? time to stop being depressed, santa!

Rolling Wid Da Homeez (Clueless Reference, a film from 1995)


Haha. I am the best at doing occasional non-posts. But what can I say -- this picture makes me so happy, I have to share it with the world and cover it in gold dust and post it on my ceiling and look at it every night before I go to bed. Not like ironically happy -- I mean kittens napping with babies on a bed of world peace, for-realsies happy.

ps -- E, wtf do we have a Brittany Murphy tag? Oh, yes, because we're awesome. Sorry, forgot for a second.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

everybody knows

omg do you remember this movie? one of the best examples of teenage angst/alienation pretty much ever. and yes kids, i learned about leonard cohen through a christian slater movie and not my parents' record collection or a floppy-haired high school boyfriend. ooh that gravelly baritone...

i loved this movie for its nerdy premise, that an isolated new kid on the block can connect to the masses through his shortwave radio. it even made me like christian slater a little bit, although i could never understand his appeal and he was clearly way beyond his teens by this point. and oh samantha mathis, where have you gone? remember when you were the next ingenue and now you're less memorable than gretchen mol?

anyway, if you haven't checked it out in a while, it's worth watching again.

Friday, December 4, 2009

yakov's nubian bling explosion

i happened upon this interview with donald glover (who, my mistake, is apparently not related to danny glover. is that racist, assuming that two black people in the entertainment industry with first initial D last name glover are related? his response to this question, "Most people think I'm Danny Glover's son when they meet me. So when they ask, I say 'No, I'm Crispin Glover's son.' Then we stare at each other for a long time."). even though he is only 26 he's already been a writer on 30 rock. yeah, i know, that was like his stepping stone.

[pause for moment of crippling envy]

anyway, he had this to say about tracy morgan:
The first day I met him, I had a small Afro, and he was like, “You know, if you want to get dreads, you should get your girl pregnant and put the placenta in your hair.” And I was like, “What the fuck … are you talking about?” But from that point on, I thought, Any brain that can make that up needs to be studied.

so, c4ts, as penance for not attending his reading of i am the new black, i offer these:

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

thanksgiving


totally related to nothing, but a friend of mine yesterday mentioned how her law student friend's facebook feed solely revolves around law school. can you imagine the dullardity? aren't you shuddering and yawning simultaneously? indeed.

anyway, then we realized how grateful we were that facebook wasn't as popular and twatter was just a figment in some idiot's mind in 2003-2006. as if we already didn't know everything about everyone. just think of all of the exciting status updates...

"outlining!"

"re-outlining!"

"16 callbacks!"

"i have a job and you don't!"

aren't you so relieved? happy belated thanksgiving y'all!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Music Video of the Day -- Dirty Projectors, "Stillness is the Move"



This is not a real post, I'm aware, but I've been commenting more than blogging these days, and I feel the need to break E's uninterrupted reign, so here's Dirty Projectors' "Stillness Is the Move."

There was a movie that came out a couple of years ago called Bulworth, in which Warren Beatty played some kind of white liberal politician whose mask was slipping, and then he met Halle Barry, and he was all like "You're a gangbanger. Let me tell you about the Black Panthers." And she's all like I know about the Black Panthers. Go fart into a Slanket while I play this song by Ol Dirty Bastard and the third person from the Fugees (ed's note: three people were in The Fugees? Knowledge) . And he's all like, "What? There is a thing called hip hop which allows me to say "fuck" in public and also wear ski caps." Let me put down my Arnold Palmer, and rap my thoughts and feelings. And then he says something about how we should all fuck each other and this will erase racial distinctions, and basically solve acid rain and the problem with the o-zone layer (ed's note: 90's environment references, people). If I were to describe this movie in one word it would be "gangsta." If I were to describe this movie in two words it would be "Snoop Dogg."

Anyway, what does this have to do with Dirty Projectors? Very little. Except while it's interesting that Warren Beatty thought embarrassing rapping would lead us to the racial promised land, in fact, there was some truth to his gangsta, homey-dogg philoso-jazzing. White people music, Black people music. So different in 1998, so not different in 2009, maybe? Dirty Projectors are about as white a band as you can find, and they've recorded what is to my ears an absolute R&B club banger, which Beyonce's sister has re-recorded, and which is, in fact, now an absolute R&B club banger. Jay-Z and Beyonce go to Grizzly Bear concerts; The Magic Numbers covered Beyonce. And meanwhile people in the Bronx and people in Williamsburg wear the same skinny jeans and throwback multi-colored Nikes. And blipsters is a word.

You know, I remember a time when I was DJing in college and there was some discussion about whether or not I should be playing Gang Starr during our somber indie broadcast.

The question would be absurd today.

The question is the truth.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

haven't we been through enough, new york?


our tax revenues have plummeted, our governor is supposedly inept (although someone please give me a cogent explanation of why this is so), and now we may have to look at this fuckface again? why???

Monday, November 16, 2009

pity for fleury???

wow, theoren fleury was like the closest thing i had to an imaginary archnemesis as a kid. this tiny little player (well, for hockey anyway. he's about my height) was pesky, annoying and hated by any mildly knowledgeable canuck fan. fleury's new-ish memoir, playing with fire, is the number one nonfiction book in canada. take that, andre agassi! on a side note, agassi's interview with terry gross was pretty surprising. he apparently totally hated tennis! how is that even possible?!

according to his memoir, fleury was sexually abused over a two-year period by his junior hockey coach, then spent the rest of his life succumbing to virtually every temptation: cocaine, alcohol, prostitutes. at one point, he even attempted suicide. i don't really understand how these athletes can abuse their bodies to such a degree yet still manage to outperform any average human being.

in case you thought this was all confessional self-actualization fluff, fleury doesn't disappoint, describing forgotten one-time phenom alexandre daigle as follows: "What a beauty, that guy. He had all the tools, but no box to go with it. Dumb as a post."

haha, god, only if sarah palin could make her memoir half as interesting.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

checking in with stevie Y


how did i miss this? yzerman was inducted into the hockey hall of fame! along with pretty boy luc robitaille and snoozefest defenseman brian leetch. oh yeah, brett hull, blahblahblah. lamoriello looks a little stunned to find himself on that poster, btw.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

song of the month--two ways

how lou barlow managed to make this song sound so, erm, sebadoh-y i will never know, but it's kind of awesome.

guess the borough

Monday, November 9, 2009

everything is coming up blankfein

did you see this? i know, the headline is just so predictable that you couldn't bring yourself to read it, could you? can you really stomach yet another article about how goldman sachs is, in its own words (wink, nudge), doing "god's work?" how many ways can these assholes win?

last year, banks awarded its bonuses in stock instead of cash. everyone approved, except the recipients, of course. bitching and moaning ensued. [insert some sarcastic comment about how they're going to have to settle for X equally extravagant item instead of Y prevailing extravagant item.] stock prices circa late-2008 were in the toilet. government hands over gobs of $$$. stock prices appreciate, and what happens in late-2009? windfall! underwritten by whom? you, me, other taxpayers. how about a quote to drive the point home:

"And so the bonuses Wall Street received last year, billed as paltry at the time, are turning out to be among the most lucrative payouts ever."
what happened to the legal industry at the same time? oh right. this.

groan, moan, eyeroll, envy, exclamations of disgust, throwing hands in the air in defeat, etc.

anyway, c4ts, i think you should send ben sisario a piece of your mind.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

what the fuck is david brooks yapping about - part ??

in this part whatever of what appears to be an infinite-part series, i again examine the latest and greatest david brooks column in the new york times and ask the question we've all been wondering: what the fuck is david brooks yapping about?

i was planning on reading this article when this lead-in caught my eye: Cellphones and texting technology give suitors instantaneous contact, without the stability of guidance from the community.

not to be redundant, but what?

david brooks begins the article thusly: Since April 2007, New York magazine has posted online sex diaries.

AHHHHH! my eyes! my ears! my everything!!!

so i guess the point of the article is how texting is ruining romance because this technology enables us to hunt for an endless array of sexual/romantic partners without the stabilizing force of elk clubs or whatever. i dunno, man, most people i know still meet their mates through school, friends, work, kickball leagues, etc. y'know, communities. his theory that cellphones and texting dissolve obstacles is complete bunk. you're not texting into the ether--you gotta meet the textees (hehe, textees) somewhere! yeah ok, i kind of get it. texting = fragmentation. but what isn't fragmented nowadays? why single out texting? is it any more or less a force than cable tv or google books or twatter or whatever other new medium? why not just blame alexander graham bell for starting us down this path of ruin? or fucking gutenberg for destroying the oral tradition? and why, for chrissake, conjure up the image of david brooks perusing online sex diaries?

[ed note: my badz. link to said article now provided.]

Not Music Video of the Day: Jay-Z, Alicia Keys, "Empire State of Mind"



This is the new-ish Jay-Z video. It is trash. And you know, that's fine. Sling that trash, Rake in that cash. Respect. See what I did there? I made a stupid rhyme, but that rhyme is better -- lyrically, syntactically, rhythmically, what have you -- than any one couplet in this song. In fact, I don't even know why I said "couplet." This is essentially a mad-libbed series of non-sequitirs sprung from random New York-based touchstones, and strung against a mis-matched beat. This song is vile, vile trash.

First of all, Jay-Z, you live in Alpine, New Jersey. That's just the cold, hard facts. Stop fronting. You live in a villa designed by I.M. Pei with your purebred Himalayans, with hundred dollar bills in your pillowsacks, and with Beyonce Knowles. (She makes good music videos, fyi.) That is a good life you lead, especially considering you were handed nothing and you used to sling crack in the Marcy Projects. You harnessed this God-given gift for beat and flow (see here) and made art, and then you took this art and married it to a preternatural business acumen, and created an empire. You are in like the top 100 humans, Jay-Z. So what the fuck? You took a city that counts you among its favorite sons and made an undignified whore of it.

Here are the "New York" references you make in this song: DeNiro (ed's note: What is going on with that guy?), Frank Sinatra, Brooklyn, Tribeca, Harlem, Dominican people, the Knicks, the still New Jersey Nets (cross-promotion!), yellow cabs, gypsy cabs, dollar cabs, Afrika Bambaataa, and the World Trade Center. Literally, these are the references somebody from Dubuque would make of New York, based on his experience watching an afternoon of I Love the 70's and thumbing through a coffee table book from grandma's house.  Please, Jay-Z, stop. There is only so much vicarious embarrassment I can take.

Now, as far as that Alicia Keys hook:

Concrete jungle where dreams are made of,
There's nothing you can’t do,
Now you're in New York!!!
These streets will make you feel brand new,
the lights will inspire you,
Let's hear it for New York, New York, New York


I mean no disrespect when I say this. Alicia Keys, you made a really sweet, quietly sexy, authentically New York video where you captured the nuances of unrequited love, begun in a coffee shop on 39th and Lennox, that then blossoms in the wake of a broken-up, uptown houseparty. You are a good singer! And you got Mos in your video, before he went crazy. But now -- and again, no disrespect -- you really need to kill yourself.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Report from the People's Gaypublic of Drugifornia



"But I've got something serious to say...Dude, what the fuck is going on with Robert DeNiro?"

These were words spoken by a couple of hirsute cineastes on a sidewalk outside of a restaurant in San Francisco on Friday, overheard by me as I stepped out to dial Sugarpockets. But you can substitute "cold4thestreets" in for "Robert DeNiro," readers, because I know and you know that's the query that's been lodged in your hearts these last several weeks. What the fuck is up with c4ts?

Well, first off, while I had hoped -- and promised -- to report to you juicy tidbits from the frontlines of my not-new job, a strange thing has happened. My former (tor)mentor has lost interest in crushing my already reluctant capitalist spirit. I am not sure if I made it past some sort of hazing period, or if I broke down his expectations so expertly that when he actually had a chance to review some substantive work I'd produced, he was moved by its seeming coherence and spell-checked presentation--and came to be genuinely surprised my abilities. That is, the George W. Bush effect may have taken effect here: I am in my boss Sean's good graces because I have wildly exceeded the earth's-crust-level expectations he had set for me...Of course, things didn't turn out too good for W in the end, so I'm hoping for some sort of narrative divergence in our tales, but for now, I'm in a numb -- if not happy -- place at work.

I go in. I close my door. I try to focus, fail, stare at the screen, pound on the keyboard, space out, eventually produce something, give it to my assistant to file; she invariably finds several errors in it, which I have to then correct. And off we go. That's an honest day's work for our generation of ne'er-do-wells, so mortified by adulthood we find spiritual meaning in things like this. I'm happy to have a job. I really am. But I'd be so much happier just having the paycheck.  Or maybe I just need to keep my door open and hope for some hijinks worth reporting in these pages.

The other day I wore a blue polo shirt to work on casual day, and my neighbor -- who tucks his shirt into his jeans and his jeans into his white sneakers -- said, "What, did you just step off a college campus or something?" I think this was meant as a put-down. I don't know. Maybe, I should just keep my door closed after all.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

selling out

i know i've been writing a lot of "i feel old" posts. i can't help it! besides, this is my blog. go get your own blog where you pontificate about relevant things.

so i went to that superchunk book reading/mini-concert. it was very well-attended, mostly by graying, middle-age-spread types. average age, probably about 30? 35? mac sang 3 songs, laura didn't participate in the musical portion (not sure why), and they read passages about themselves, spoon and the magnetic fields. nothing about the arcade fire, kids. sorry to disappoint.

they were kind enough to humor the audience by engaging in some q&a, usually my least favorite portion of any book reading. the heavily male crowd asked the usual fanboy qs, like, "erm, that 7-inch in limited release for that one week in 1992, how did that come about?" or " was [insert super obscure band name here] a big influence on you?" and one near spastic guy who couldn't stop gushing, "you are the greatest rock band, like, ever." all's i gotta say is, i was sitting near the bathroom that kid definitely did not wash his hands.

in response to one guy's question on how to get a demo in front of them, laura quickly shut him down, "we usually hear bands through our friends or friends of friends." then near-ironically, "you know, networking."

networking! superchunk!

anyway, back to how old i felt. amidst all this geeking out to the musicality of it all, i just wanted to hear about their business model, who their lawyers were, how they obtained financing, how they've sustained their profitability over all of these years. i mean, they can't just be all artistes. those guys know what they're doing.

i kind of reminded myself of this article. oh yeah, they wouldn't answer any questions about neutral milk hotel either, in case you were wondering.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

britunes!


aside from being like the most uncomfortably/ridonculously handsome and disarmingly witty tv anchor ever, brian williams apparently is super informed about indie rock. wha?

an interview about his foray into indierockbloggerdom here.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

livin' in the 90s

i'm sure i've done a "livin' in the 90s" post before, so sorry about the repetition. i can't help it if it was the greatest CD compilation ever. (extra 90s nostalgia: it's available in CASSETTE!)

what up with all of the 90s revivals of late? aside from my alicia silverstone sighting, i mean. (what about ed begley, you ask? i think he's pretty timeless, no?). plaid shirts are everywhere! have you noticed this? i suppose they're not as ill-fitting as they were in their first iteration, but i still wouldn't call them exactly flattering. also, c4ts i think went to some yo la tengo/flaming lips concert--not in 1995, but like last weekend. and finally, my friend just informed me of this.

[insert a totally 90s expression of surprise here]

the last time i saw superchunk they gave a really awkward concert at my college with nas. yes, kelis's ex-husband nas. i think it was raining that day and superchunk were kind of low-ish energy, then nas rolled up in a huge tour bus with the requisite number of video hos. or perhaps an inadequate number, since he proceeded to call up more hos from the audience. good times.

oh yes, in other 90s revival news: pavement are reuniting. setting aside the fact that tickets are sold out and of course i completely forgot to get some, i think it would be nice to go to a concert where i don't feel ancient. (for instance, can i really go to CMJ in good conscience?) then again, i don't know whether being surrounded by a bunch of olds would be all that fun. oh well.

omg i finally have another chance to use our balki bartokamous tag! have you read this interview? i know, it's more 80s than 90s, but hilarious is hilarious.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

celeb spotting

two random celebs seen recently:

1. alicia silverstone (somewhere near union square) - now, mind you, she could be mistaken for any other random pretty blonde, but i'm 99% certain this was her. i even checked for that mole on her forehead (yeah, you didn't think to do that, did you). she is very pretty. nonetheless, i expected a vegan to have better skin. as if.

2. ed begley, jr. (on the N train near midtown) - y'know, i couldn't name a single movie/tv show this guy's been in/on, so don't ask how i know who he is or what he looks like. still, i heard/read somewhere that he's a huge environmentalist, and sure enough, he and his entire family were riding the train, looking extremely uncomfortable next to the rest of us. yeah, this ain't no prius, that's for sure.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

An Epiphany


So when someone makes a slippery slope argument, what they're really saying is this: I have no reason to object to this other thing in and of itself, but if I conflate it with this second other thing which is clearly objectionable, and which I conflate with the first other thing on the sole basis that the second other thing is outside my rigid understanding of the original thing, just like the first other thing is (even though, implicitly, I understand that alone is no basis to object to the first other thing -- hence the need to invoke the slippery slope in the first place) well, then, Jesus will smite you dead. Got it.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Uwem Akpan -- Say You're One of Them


The e-grist of this blog mill has been and will always be petty schadenfreude and reckless snark. But once in a while my cold heart thaws a little and I have something nice to say about someone or something. And this post is an example of that rarest of mind-birds. The spirit of Munificence has visited my person, and, imbued with it, I share with you.

But first, a bit more self-indulgent meditation on my own nature: To wit, when this perfectly nice kid I knew from back in the day became a famous (at least in Brooklyn and Silver Lake and Austin) hard-drinking indie rock and roller, I seethed. When this other, very sweet girl I knew from back in the day wrote a silly blog and then blew up and became something of a pundit, I seethed. When the jovial and dashing South African fellow who lived down the hall from me freshman year became an international correspondent on CNN, I seethed. I know I should be happy for these people and their successes, but I am human, tragic and flawed, and I am wickedly jealous when perfectly normal-seeming people whom I know stumble into fame and riches.

That said, once in a while, a supremely nice person comes along, he treats you very kindly, is humble about his own talents, and is gracious and laudatory of yours, meager though they are. Once in a while you meet such a person and you think this person deserves much from this world; in the least this person deserves fame and riches. One such person is Uwem Akpan.

Tomorrow he will be chosen as Oprah's newest Book Club inductee. His enormously moving debut short-story collection, Say You're One of Them, will be 2009's first Oprah selection, and he will be launched into the literary stratosphere.

I met Uwem for the first time a few years ago in the frigid college town in which I spent some time. I was doing a reading of a short story I had written for our law school literary journal (best not to ask), and he, friendly with the editor, showed up for the opening night event. Afterwards, he introduced himself to me, told me how much he enjoyed my story, and, eventually, revealed that he too was a writer. As a result of this conversation, I made my way onto Uwem's email list. This is how I learned that he managed to get a second story published in the New Yorker in June of 2006. I read this story, prepared to hate it or hate him for his success. But neither came to pass. I then read the first story he had published, "An Ex-Mas Feast," and I felt stunned by what he had achieved.

A couple of years later, Uwem's book -- which Oprah has now selected -- came out and I bought it immediately. I re-read the New Yorker stories and felt neither jealousy nor hate. I felt in awe. Then I read one of the final stories in the collection, "Fattening for Gabon," which ends in a way that arrests the heart, and I thought, everyone should read this. Everyone.

Thanks to Oprah, from tomorrow, about one bajillion more people will read Uwem's book. Uwem, who is also a Jesuit priest ministering to a congregation in Nigeria, not some latte-drinking malcontent in Park Slope, will have earned all his success, and I for one will come to know genuine happiness for another human being. You should buy his book.

Friday, September 11, 2009

depressing quote of the day

jesus.

(from a wall street journal interview with jon krakauer, who has just written a book about pat tillman)

WSJ: You end the book with a gloomy visit to Afghanistan in early 2007. What did Mr. Tillman's sacrifice mean?

Mr. Krakauer: It didn't mean anything. It speaks to the mythology of war and how we glorify it for our national interests. There is nothing glamorous or romantic about war. It's mostly about random pointless death and misery. And that's what his death tells us. It reminds me that the good aren't rewarded, there's no such thing as karma. Maybe it says something about the dangers of any sort of idealism that isn't tempered by pragmatism or experience.

aghhh!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

superfluous and belated moview review of the month--rachel getting married

oh wow, that moment of excitement was a little much. back to our regularly scheduled programming. we at interweb detritus offer 1 channel: grumbling.

indeed, at our friend rachel's wedding, a bunch of us entered into a heated discussion over the movie rachel getting married. to no one's surprise, c4ts and i disagreed on this one. i think c4ts kind of wanted to agree with me since the movie seems so obviously annoying, but found himself actually liking it. you can't fight fate, c4ts!

anyway, so i'll vent. i don't think i've ever walked out of a movie. not even "shallow hal" or that second bridget jones movie where she goes to thailand or whatever. my usual thought is, i'm going to wait for that one redeeming moment. there were none in RGM. if i hadn't been sitting 5 deep in my row, i would've barged out. every one of the so-called poignant moments rang completely hollow to me. ok fine, i'll give you this. jonathan demme directed documentaries about the talking heads and neil young and the screenwriter is sidney lumet's daughter. perhaps spontaneous bohemian-ish band playing with robyn hitchcock and unattributable displays of ethnic clothing are the norm in their worlds, but certainly not in mine. this urgent desire to flaunt some semblance of authenticity, diversity and depth was so false on every single level. if i had rolled my eyes any more my contacts would've popped out.

ok, breathe. let's focus my annoyance:

1. connecticut? is there a yaddo in greenwich or fairfield that i'm unaware of? the closest thing connecticut has to minorities and/or artists is 50 cent (or 50 cents, if you're mike bloomberg).
2. saris? wtf with that?
3. yeah, ok, so nobody made a big deal about the groom's race. how come nobody made a big deal of the fact that he had negative personality? it only drew attention to his race. like, why couldn't they create a fully-drawn black character? the white people in this movie certainly had personality to spare.
4. and why did the groom ruin that neil young song for me?
5. i would pick on that dishwasher scene except that apparently it was taken directly from the screenwriter's life. it occurred between like sidney lumet and charlton heston or something equally implausible. (my badz, bob fosse--see? who has a life like this?)
6. don't forget: kYm. barf.

anyway, c4ts, the floor is yours. i'm sure you'll mount a lengthy defense of the movie. all's i gotta say is, someone should've told me that the director of philadelphia--my least favorite movie of all time bc it's the fakest--was involved. i would've saved my $12 or whatever.

oh yeah, this new yorker article: mind ~~blown~~. most disturbing article since that one about solitary confinement that still gives me goosebumps.

Friday, August 28, 2009

things i'm excited about



things about which i'm excited?

grammar aside, we rarely express excitement here on interweb detritus, but i'm exasperated by exasperation and have decided that i'm so excited that, really, i just can't hide it. and no, it's not over "where the wild things are." c'mon.

1. glee. i found the preview pilot episode nearly hypnotic in its awesomeness. you can check it out here. would you believe this show's creator also created nip/tuck?! who woulda thunk it. yes, you can love this show about a high school glee club even if you're a self-professed hater of all things harmonized without accompaniment. sure, it recycles a lot of cliches, but only in the best way possible. also, jane lynch! (typical line, said to a bunch of cheerleaders in rehearsal: "think this is hard? try being waterboarded. that's hard.").

2. extract. i don't really know what this movie is about, except that mike judge wrote and directed it. that's all i need to know. ah yes, this exchange from king of the hill (another mike judge creation) makes me laugh every time.

3. jil sander for uniqlo. i am fairly certain that most wearable sizes will be sold out within an hour or so, but it doesn't prevent me from eagerly anticipating the prospect of purchasing something from jil sander for less than a bazillion dollars. and i have high hopes for this line, which i think will be superior in quality to the ill-fitting polyblend designer lines from h&m and the like.

4. this case between the maker of blackberry against the NHL. again proving that the NHL is the worst-managed league and causing me wonder, yet again, how gary bettman has managed to keep his job for this long, here comes a case in which all of the team owners in the NHL voted to prohibit jim balsillie from purchasing the phoenix coyotes and probably moving them to hamilton, ontario. (i know, where?) the case seems rather complicated, but essentially, the current owner of the coyotes jerry moyes filed for bankruptcy, and jim balsillie bid what is thought to be an inflated sum to purchase the team. the NHL's board of governors voted to prevent balsillie from completing the purchase bc they think he's unethical, all the other viable bidders have dropped out, which caused the NHL to enter a bid to purchase the team and operate it until it can find a buyer who is willing to keep the team in phoenix. there seems to be a lot of bad blood among those involved, and now moyes is accusing the NHL of violating antitrust laws.

we'll see how this mess unfolds.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

learned apathy


i suppose this story should inspire some sense of outrage. politicizing terror alert levels? what next?! but then again, after falsely leading a country into war, torturing prisoners, obliterating the economy, and canceling arrested development, what's a little screwing with your sense of mortality? just another day in the office. nicely done, rumsfeld. i hope he writes a tell-all memoir some day.

anyway, i thought about looking for an apt photo, then i realized that i'm kind of bored by these "revelations" from former bush administration officials (notwithstanding what i just said about rummy). isn't that panda dog messing with your mind?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Ted Kennedy, 1932 - 2009


I know there will be idle talk in the morning about the continuing brutality of Death's Grip this, the summer of 2009. I believe E. has made mention of it in these pages as well. But seriously, if we make it to the September Equinox with Rue McLanahan and Betty White walking among us in God's Dominion, then Death, I will know, has a soul, and we should all breathe a sigh of relief that He has claimed only Michael Jackson et al.

That said, the death of Ted Kennedy is notable and need be marked, not in the least because his death marks the death of mainstream, national Liberalism. I haven't really followed Sherrod Brown's record close enough to term him a liberal. Paul Wellstone has been dead for many years. Al Franken had hawkish tendencies during the buildup to and waging of the War on Iraq (and has declined taking on a serious and objective look at Middle East policy). And Russ Feingold, for all his anti-war tendencies and civil liberties street cred, was a whorish apologist for Israel's crimes against sanity in southern Lebanon in 2006.

Liberalism is a third-rail word in our electoral politics, As we know, despite occasional virtues, there is no real Liberal spirit among our elected officials. Watching our pragmatist, impotent President and the scatterbrained Democratic Congress he lets run wild, fail even to begin a dialogue on meaningful, universal health care coverage, without succumbing to the shrill masses, without stripping from their proposals health-care reform's central tenet, a public option, in some sort of pre-emptive compromise with the sullen and lame minority party -- watching this, we should know that the Liberal philosophy of equality, welfare, and social justice has no place in our Government. Ted Kennedy -- ever the parliamentarian, make no mistake -- did at least this: He wore Liberalism like a crest on his blazer. For that -- and not just that, of course -- he should be honored. And so I honor him.

But I am also a bastard. So, let me tell you my one Ted Kennedy story:

My childhood friend Paul, the eldest brother of three much younger boys, grew up in a stately manse near Embassy Row. One Halloween many years ago, he took his kid brothers out trick or treating. They got to Ted Kennedy's place, and rang the doorbell. The liberal lion answered the door, absolutely smashed, and with some fine Irish sloshing about in a tumbler in his hand. Bleary eyed, he sized up Paul's brothers, their arms outstretched for caloric bounty. In one graceless move Teddy reached for the bowl of Nestle Crunches, but in so doing knocked a lit candle into the dustbin. The contents of the dustbin immediately caught fire. Irish in hand, Irish in blood, Teddy let out a torrent of expletives and ran off for the fire extinguisher (or another drink, who really knows). Paul and the kids slowly retreated from his doorstep, sans Nestle Crunches. I'm not sure if they went back to casa Kennedy the next year.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Shit Gets Real



I've never really understood what it is to hate your boss until I started work at ________ LLP.

When I worked at Tower Records, I had a supervisor, Talulah, who used to give me shit for sitting on the back counter during slow periods in cash register duty, but she was okay in the end. She smoked weed competitively and took solemnly her designated charge, the R&B section; whereas I was going to college in the fall and her authority was a fucking joke to me.

Years later, when I was a school teacher, I had a principal who generally left me alone, but one day--maybe the second or third to last day of school in my last year, when the kids were doing nothing but cleaning out their desks--she had the temerity to say something to me about young Joshua Reyes. He had been pissing me off and I had kicked him out into the hallway. Well sort of kicked him out into the hallway, since we weren't actually allowed to do that; so instead I made him stand in the hallway while keeping his right hand inside the classroom. That way I knew he was there and hadn't wandered off. Unfortunately, Joshua, who I wanted to kill constantly and who I also loved like my own flesh, bone, and blood, a duality only teachers know, couldn't keep still and started doing some ADD jig out in the hallway. This caught my wandering principal's eye -- though to this day I still don't know how she managed to lift herself to the fourth floor, part of her dominion she never patrolled. She barged into my classroom and dressed me down for kicking a student out in the hallway, even though, if she weren't such a narcissistic and moronic midget, she should have known I had not technically done. I mean, his hand was still pasted against that inside wall. Come on.

By the way, I had a double class that day. I had been minding another teacher's entire homeroom. I was doing my principal a favor, so I was doubly pissed at this affront. I stared daggers at her, and when she walked away, having deployed her bile, I yanked Joshua back into the class room, sat him down at a desk in the corner, and slammed the door -- hard. The kids all hissed "Ooooooh" in unison: I had just slammed the door on my principal. They knew it. And she knew it. She turned around, came back in and summoned me into the hallway. I can't remember our conversation, but, even though I was in the wrong, even though I had slammed the door on her back, if not her face, and had disrespected her in so unquestionable a way, I held my ground. I made it clear to her, in less profane terms than I am making it here, that I thought she was an unreasonable bitch and shouldn't have dared talked that way to me in front of my kids, that the classroom is my kingdom and I would not tolerate her meddling in my jurisdiction....blah blah blah. Youthful exuberance. I told her, more or less, she deserved my outburst. To her credit, she walked away, before things got really out of hand. Before Shit Got Real. But we were on icy terms for the next week or two. We came to a detante during the summer school term. But I never apologized to her, and she never apologized to me. That fall, I went off to law school, but in the years since I have visited my old school and she has always warmly received me. Water under the bridge, I suppose.

But around the time of the incident I do remember thinking, What the fuck is she going to do? Fire me? I bust my ass for this school, and I am good at what I do. She needs me here more than I need to be here. Let her fucking try.

I think of that incident now. I think of the collected moments in my life where, muddled by stupidity's slightly better-dressed cousin self-confidence, I didn't take my superiors' shit. I think of all those moments where I believed--and I acted in accord with the belief--that my employers needed me more than I needed them, that I had no fear of getting fired.

I think of that incident because I am no longer that person.

Now I have a boss -- let us call him Sean -- who sees himself as something of a teacher, but who has no patience at all, who fulfills television's worst stereotypes of lawyers (brimming with rage, mirthless, committed to destroying his adversary no matter how inconsequential the stakes), and who constantly belittles me, questions my intelligence and work ethic, and who I am beginning to think I will never win over. Now it should be pointed out the vast majority of the things that drive Sean to the brink of Hulk-like hysteria -- a comically melodramatic shuttering of eyelids, followed by a one-handed massage of his own temples, accompanied by very loud nose-breathing -- the vast majority of these things he is fully justified in criticizing. I fuck things up. This job has been a challenge to me -- I know nothing about the industries the firm's clients hale from and I did not have remotely the same level of responsibility in my previous job as I do now. Couple these realities of my job with my generally plodding way, and you can see how disaster might strike -- how it might strike all the time. I have no problem with Sean criticizing me, or my work, but what is bizarre is that he thinks bullying me, breaking me down, is the way to make me a better lawyer.

Now I know a lot of people have had bosses from hell, and maybe I've been lucky so far in my career in that this Sean experience is a new thing for me, but that doesn't change the fact that his tendency to fly off the handle causes me anxiety, makes me nervous, and consequently leads me to make other foolish mistakes that in turn draw further ire from his being. And none of this changes the fact that it's astonishing to me -- and I would think to you -- that Sean thinks he is helping me when he talks himself down from violent outbursts in my presence.

The other day Sean told me I don't have a "killer instinct" because he didn't like a fax I had written to some opposing counsel.

The day before he expressed his displeasure with the fact that I had taken a vacation "really early in my time at _______ LLP." I was dumbfounded. I racked my brain for a response to this statement; I thought I should defend myself. What would my younger self had said to Talulah if she said this to me? To my old principal? But no response sprung to mind. I had taken a week off after four months of work, and monitored my work email while away, and made sure the one or two matters I couldn't reschedule were covered by others. I had done it by the book, and now was being told I had done something shameful. Sean's statement hung in the air, and I just stared at him. I didn't mean that moment to mean anything; I thought this was just another example of him unloading on me and me just taking it. But then something strange happened. My silence, my dumb-stricken face looking at his, were counterpoint enough. Sean must have realized how preposterous his statement was, as it hung in the air, a stale fart from his mouth. He must have realized this was a bridge too far. He stammered, "I mean vacations are good. We all need them, but, you know, work piles up..."

I kept staring for a beat or two more. Then I gathered my papers, and said matter of factly, "Thank you, Sean," and took my leave of him.

I guess there's still some fight left in these old bones, but the fights going forward are going to be the tootless, bloodless kind.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

john hughes, RIP

agh, will the celebrity deaths please stop? john hughes died of a heart attack today at the age of 59. shit, yo.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

don't stop thinking about tomorrow

a little more girth, a little less hair, a lot more gray...but they're back! nostalgia ensues...

picture it, you're 14 and kicking back a crystal pepsi in vancouver. some chubby southern guy running for president decides to don sunglasses and play the saxophone on arsenio hall. yes indeed, black people who are not the president are featured regularly on television during this crazy time. your school plays "smells like teen spirit" during the winter dance (the "snow ball") and all the plaid-clad white kids start screaming and smashing into one another while most of the asian kids decide to sit this one out. you don't know what to do, so you start bumping into other kids, too, despite lacking the requisite outfit and, erm, pigmentation.

oooooooooooh don't you look baaaaaack...

Thursday, July 23, 2009

superfluous and belated movie review(s) of the month: the in-flight offerings on british airways


first off, let's get the really important stuff out of the way. AA and AA--congratulations on the little cutie pie! and also let us know: did ayelet make the cut? if so, can i take credit?

anyway, so i took my first transatlantic trip in four years. old europe is still there, fyi. but you know what i actually want to talk about? movies i watched on the plane, of course.

#1 - anvil! the story of anvil. several critics fell all over themselves praising this film (anthony lane, in particular). why? i don't get it. essentially, this is a documentary about a canadian metal band that enjoyed a brief moment of fame some time in the 80's and the rough journey they have had since. the movie begins with a series of interviews with famous heavy metal musicians, e.g., slash, lars ulrich, some dude from megadeth, etc., all lauding anvil for its sound and lamenting its demise. i had no idea that slash could be so sincere, especially when you realize that you can't see his eyes.

anyway, so the two main members of anvil are in their early 50s, living somewhere in ontario working terrible dead-end jobs. the lead singer lips is an assembly line worker of sorts for a catering company and i don't even remember what the other guy did. they still play together as a band, as they have since they were 15. they have wives and kids and seem to come from supportive families, who either have given up trying to talk the two dudes out of continuing their childhood fantasies or actually believe that this 30-plus-year endeavor will pay off. the movie takes us on tour with them in europe, where they play in front of audiences of varying size (some as little as 4). long story short, you're left wondering whether you should admire or scorn them for their persistence and impossible optimism. i dunno, i thought documentaries were supposed to make you care about the subject no matter how ridiculous (case in point: spellbound). i guess this movie failed in that respect as far as i was concerned.

#2 - he's just not that into you. i know what you're thinking: why would any sane person watch this movie? what do you want from me, i was on a 6-hour flight. i remember that one of my usually mild-mannered coworkers went to watch this movie with a bunch of her girlfriends and returned actually physically angry. needless to say, my expectations were lower than low and perhaps for that reason i found the movie to be fairly entertaining. it tries to present itself as the definitive source on relationship advice, but i mostly spent my time wondering how anyone could find the mac guy attractive. also, is it me or does scarlett johansson always play the same person, i.e., the sensuous seductress who is shocked (shocked!) to discover that men are only after her body? and have jennifer aniston and ben affleck starred in a movie before? i can't believe this is actually a novel couple.

and finally, #3 - i love you man. can paul rudd be any more likable? foreal.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Lumberjack Hires Dumbass


"Ben has never sexually assaulted anyone; especially Andrea McNulty." -- David Cornwell, attorney for accused rapist/Super Bowl hero Ben Roethilsberger

Look, I didn't go to fancy pants lawyering school. I went to blog school, after dabbling in a few culinary classes and clown college, but still, I know this: If you're going to craft a press release proclaiming your client's innocence, maybe you should neuter of it language that says, well, he especially did not rape so-and-so, thereby suggesting that in non-special situations, you know, shit happens, who's to say. Douche bags will be douche bags!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Which Two Are Those?



I think Aziz Ansari is a golden God. I am on record. But I am still on the fence about Aziz's post-racial comedy routines, at least in one respect: none of his characters have recognizably Indian or Arabic names, which Muslims from any region do and would have -- shit, none of his characters even have Christian names popular in the Subcontinent. But so much stand-up comedy has been weighted down by the worst, by the most facile of ethnic self-stereotype that when I watch Aziz -- a young South Asian Muslim man -- make jokes about getting his drink on and getting his fuck on and getting his cd-burning on, well, I can't help but swell with continental and coreligionist pride.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

We All Grieve in Different Ways -- Shamon!



The death of Michael Jackson had a profound impact on this blog, muting us for nearly a month. In the old days that kind of an extended reticence would not be tolerated, but E and I are now older and wiser (and wizened). We know quality trumps quantity, and, shit, even Perez Hilton has a ghost blogger. So, you will forgive us -- and we will forgive ourselves.

Now with the big news: I may have been silenced by the sad death of a childhood idol and the carnival of ugly it begat, but I am spurred to action, at least to couch-borne typing, because dear reader Anonymous Alex and dear friend, his lovely bride Anonymous Tsipora., whose wedding shower this blog once covered in a rare bit of cutting reportage (but to which I won't link because I am not sure what kind of anonymity we are continuing to provide them with), last Monday brought into this world a beautiful little girl, one "delicious" (to quote 'Pockets) anonymous Middle-Name-I-Have-Not-Yet-Been-Told. 'Pockets and I can't wait to meet her in September. Good job all around.

Now, gettting back to the typical busines of the blog, where do I begin? So little has been happening in the otherwise dull alleys and beige buildings of downtown San Francisco, that one does not know even where to begin. Some bird outside my building placed a nest in a low-lying tree and then viciously attacked pedestrians who walked too close to its eggs. This sent CNN into Anna Nicole Smith journalistic excellence mode, and gave rise to a lunchtime crowd with no mission other than pointing and laughing at the unitiated.

Meanwhile Adam -- whom you will remember is my broham to the max from ------ Consulting Group days -- has been keeping me informed of all the happenings at the old job. Here's a run down: Smokey got fired; Lindsay Poohands got fired; The nice lady who answered the phones and worked herself into a sexual seizure telling me how good Brad Pitt looked in The Curious Case of Benjamin Buttom got fired. There is no joke to be made here. These are all good people and while I may have enjoyed a laugh or two at their expense in these pages -- especially L. Poo -- it was in good fun. The point is this: this recession fucking sucks.

So, -------- Consulting Group continues to hemorrhage staff, butAdam has managed to hold on to the temp job -- and the Wesley Snipes Shrine continues to hold a place on the wall in his work station (including, notably, my still of Wesley from the preamble to the "Bad" video where he steps to Michael and gets an earful of You aint bad. You ain't nuthin'! ). Like the Dread Pirate Roberts in the Princess Bride who promised the (non-Snipes) Westley death at the close of each day only to ignore his promise the next morning, Augusta, the project leader, has fired Adam five or six times since I left, only to rehire him shortly thereafter. Oh, and apparently, my old alien-robot nemesis Abigail has evolved into a friendly being resembling a carbon-based life form. The whole time I worked there she wasn't the problem; I was. I suppose no one is surprised.

Still, even though I resigned my post from -------- Consulting Group, the braintrust there manages to mess with me: 1) in the days after I resigned, they sent me a notice of termination in the mail; and 2) as reported by Adam, the other day Augusta called him into the conference room and announced, "We have been talking about something behind your back, but now I want to bring you in the loop." Of course, he assumed the worst -- another pesky firing -- but was told instead that ------ Consulting Group was going to treat him and all the other employees to a sailing trip, and some serious debate had happened behind closed doors, some serious number crunching, and although some in the group wanted to invite me on the sailing trip, ultimately, they concluded there was not room enough on the boat. They wanted Adam to know this. I had not made the cut. They had done all that they could do, and this information should be kept to himself, and away from me -- to protect my fragile heart from the weight of the near possibility of maritime bliss, or maybe to prevent me from going all postal and renting my own schooner and ramming it into the side of the S.S. ------- Consulting Group. I don't know. But of course, this information was reported to me within the minute, and of course, I have turned it into blog fodder. And, of course, Adam and I enjoyed a good laugh, just like the good old days. Suffice it to say, I will never again work at such a wonderfully strange organization.

So maybe here's the lesson: Just like with Michael, eventually we forget all the ugly and just remember the good times.

Or maybe Celine Dion got a hold of some Soul-Glo (see video above) and no amount of wishing and hoping can ever make you forget the ugly (see video above).

Either way: shamon, bitches.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Confused

Now, I'm just stumped. I give up. The man has no problems continuing Bush's state secrets and preventitive detention policies, especially as applied to Muslims arrested on the Afghani-Pakistani border, and he has shown real enthusiasm for Predator drone strikes in the same region, but he can cook keema and daal, and reads Ghalib, which is more than I can say about myself. Go figure.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Post Where I Tell You What's Up and What's Funny



I want to write a sweeping post about the death--okay, the evolution of--comedy, a result, obviously, of the Internet's fracturing of our popular culture and its promotion of quirk. But that would mean some bullshit bandying about of academese that no one -- I especially -- wants to endure (well, maybe Thumbu excepted). So, let me check my "discursives" and my "normatives" at the door, and say this only by way of opening query: Remember when only things that made you laugh out loud were truly funny? I have vivid memories of the scene in Naked Gun (or one of its sequels) where Frank Drebin uses the bathroom without detaching his microphone and everyone is made to listen to his bodily functions; that Barry and Levon $240 worth of pudding skit from MTV's The State; that Moleculo the molecular man skit that Conan O'Brien did when he was on Saturday Night Live. And I remember laughing hard at each of them and knowing that, that right there, that's funny. The first of these skits/scenes was universally funny, if the universe was peopled by awkward 10-year-old boys. The second of these ventured into some welcome absurdism, which my high school self had some appreciation for. The last of these I caught at a friend's house one Saturday night before a night out with a large group of people, none of whom got or cared for the joke. I remember standing in this friend's living room, doubled over, as ten people looked at each other, totally perplexed.

I have since watched all three scenes/skits and find them notably less funny than when I first watched them, but I don't think this diminishes their value at all. The thing to note is that all three at one time in my life made me laugh out loud, really hard. Why is it then that these days so much of what passes for humour in our popular culture evokes maybe a half-crooked smile? Robert Downey, Jr.'s minstrel show in Tropic Thunder? Virtually every moment of The Office ever? These -- the performance and the show -- have been haled as virtuosic examples of comedy by many people I respect, but neither have encouraged the slightest snicker from my person. It occurs to me that quirk, that certain boldness of performance, perhaps what Derrida would call differance (French pronunciation; also, just fucking with you...), these are the measures of good comedy, but where is all the stuff that makes you keel over because you're convulsing with laughter? Look, I like Zach Galifianakis plenty, but is clever and discomfiting the same as funny? Seriously, is it? I like Keyboard Cat (see above) too, but does he even qualify as amusing, or is he just the latest example of the mainstreaming of quirk brought on by the internet?

Don't get me wrong. I am happy that laugh tracks are going the way of GM and the newspaper industry. I like that we, collectively as a society, have put up some resistance to cookie-cutter comedy (e.g., America's Funniest Home Videos) -- and yes, I know there is plenty of evidence suggesting we haven't -- but is it too much to ask that things that purport to be funny make us laugh out loud?

That's my piece, and let me end it this way. There are two people on the Internet who make me laugh almost without fail. Aziz Ansari and Gabe Delahaye. They are also both my secret boyfriends, and I not so secretly hope that one day they make a baby together. Recently they both posted throwaway items in their blogs that made me laugh, and as anyone who has ever read the vile trash that is The New Yorker's Shouts and Murmurs section knows, it's not easy to elicit that kind of reaction through the written word alone.

Here's Gabe on the upcoming season of Entourage, and here's Aziz on IM'ing with his brother.