Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Top 19 Possible Sequels to "Joe Versus the Volcano"

I have never actually seen Joe Versus the Volcano.  That did not deter me from making this list.

19. Joe Versus the Earthquake

18. Joe Versus the Tornado

17. Joe Versus the Flood

16. Joe Versus the Riot

15. Joe Versus the Fire

14. Joe Versus the Plane Crash

13. Joe Versus the Alien Invasion

12. Joe Versus the Unstoppable Force

11. Joe Versus the Immovable Object

10. Joe Versus Satan

9. Joe Versus his Self-Confidence

8. Joe Versus his Self-Worth

7. Joe Versus the Gays

6. Joe Versus Cancer

5. Joe Versus the Tsunami

4. Joe Versus the Unbearable Lightness of Being

3. Joe Versus Addiction

2. Man Versus Beast

1. Joe Versus Himself

Top 27 Fake Gang Names

Um, so I was going to do, like, a good list... but instead I read a lot about gang warfare on Wikipedia. Is there a truer sign of privilege? Anyway, I was doing that because I watched Gangs of New York the other day, a movie I defend beyond its own grave. Seriously. I would put myself through a What Dreams May Come-type scenario for that movie. Hell and back, babe. That scene with Day-Lewis draped in the American flag, waking Leo up after a crazy night of Cameron Diaz (PS: Who let YOU in this movie, period-piece-version-of-Andie-MacDowell?)... oh man. Chilling. Beautiful. "I never had a son," he says! That's how he intimates, "I feel like a father to you," he implies the symbolic relationship by pointing out the absence of the real thing! 

Aaaaaaaah. Anyway, here are some fake gang names I made up. USE THEM! DON'T GET ARRESTED THOUGH! By the way, Dead Rabbits? Really? That's what you called yourselves, guys?

27. The Muckdogs

26. The Caps and Gowns

25. The Flying Squirrels

24. The Nasties

23. The Once and Future Kings

22. The Band-aid Boys

21. The Ragin’ Aged

20. The Blastocysts

19. The Blue Bastards

18. The Green Bastards

17. The Periwinkle Bastards

16. The Third-stringers

15. The DVR Heroes

14. The Fast Babies

13. The Etruscans

12. The Black Amish

11. The Sharkjets

10. The Jetsharks

9. The Beestings

8. The Backwards Dicks

7. The Robo-Gators

6. The Greek Jesters

5. The Sixth Avenue Existentialists

4. The Dutch Ticklers

3. The Bruces

2. The Winsome Charlies

1. The Chicago Gaylords

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Top 3 Jokes for Which I am Now Having a Funeral

First of all, thanks to anybody who came out to see The Calgary Whalers Present: the Deck last night, especially if you came out to see me because now we are best friends.  It was a good time all-around, and I was very happy with my own set overall.

If you came, you may have noticed that my last joke sucked.  It was a rare and unwarranted instance of me believing so hard in a joke that I actually tried it a second time after bombing with it once.  It will now be buried, along with another couple jokes that have recently bombed and I will now bury, just because that makes more than one thing on this list.  Also, if you have never seen me do stand-up, just trust me that I am hilarious and I am burying these jokes because they are my bad ones.  I would write my good jokes here but no they are mine you jerk and come see me perform some time to hear them.  Also, if you think you can turn these jokes into something funny, I give you artistic license to do so, because they're my ideas but I totally failed at it.

3. "I loved The Dark Knight, but when I saw it, people were clapping all the time.  I don't get why people clap at movies.  At a play, it makes sense, because the actors are all right there.  But in The Dark Knight, you're clapping for one of two people.  When stuff explodes or looks awesome, you're clapping for the director, Christopher Nolan.  He's not there.  He can't hear you.  And the other person in that movie you clap for...well, maybe he can hear you."

This is the one I sucked with last night.  I've tried it twice, and it's just never read right.  Last night, I got a bigger laugh out of asking, "Is The Dark Knight still relevant?" before I told the joke than I got with the actual thing.  I was so happy when I thought that I had written a good/smart Heath Ledger joke that I was blinded to the fact that it wasn't as funny or clear as I thought it was.  Also it'll stop being topical sometime soon if it hasn't already.  BURIED!

2. "I want to start a band called Former Member and break it up right away, just so I can be a former Former Member member.  Then I'm going to start a band that reenacts famous album jackets.  We'll be called the Cover Coverers.  Our shows will be no cover."

I think I'm just really poor at delivering this kind of Wright/Hedberg-ian wordplay one-liner humor.  Either that or it's just a crappy version of that.  I wrote part of this when I was listening to a lot of Wright and the other part when I was listening to a lot of Hedberg, and I think the lesson here is don't try to write jokes for other comics or maybe actually probably it's just "write better jokes you dumbass."  Unrelated: I only bombed with this joke once before deciding never to tell it again.  That was a few weeks ago.  BURIED!

1. "I think the worst job in the world is the guy who works at the Maytag call center.  It's actually his job to call people up on the phone and ask them if their refrigerator is running.  Nobody takes that guy seriously.  You know that with luck like that, his actual name is probably Mike Rotch, too."

I have a harder time figuring out why this one sucks than the others.  But it's another one I've bombed with twice, so it's being laid to rest.  Maybe people aren't familiar enough with the prank calls I'm referencing, or maybe they are, and it's just stupid and unfunny.  In any case, BURIED!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Top 8 Amazing Hypothetical Episodes of TV We Could Watch If the Candidates Were to Go Back in Time and Guest on 90s Sitcoms

I'm not going to explain. This came to me in a dream. Sometimes good things come in dreams, like that guy who discovered benzene rings. Sometimes, this list happens...

8. Fraiser – Fraiser bumps into Barack Obama at a radio station event. Obama, thrilled to meet someone who makes him seem less elitist, agrees to attend a dinner party at Fraiser’s apartment. Fraiser, desperate to seem hip and cool to the new non-white girl in his office (!), hopes that Obama will teach him how to dance. Meanwhile, Mr. Crane meets John McCain at a bar and the two become best friends. Unfortunately, their bro-date to watch The Big Game conflicts with the dinner party! Oh, by the way, Niles can’t stop crushing on Michelle Obama and Daphne can’t stop being tacitly racist!

7. Wings – Obama and McCain are campaigning in Massachusetts, when a freak storm strands them both (!) on Nantucket Island. Sandpiper Air seems to be their best bet out of the Bay State, but everybody at the airport is star-struck. The Steven Weber brother pays off Lloyd to tamper with the charter planes to ensure everyone stays stuck… crazy old Fay is putting the moves on McCain… Antonio Scarpacci is convinced Obama is an immigrant, and therefore the right man for the job… how will the Timothy Daly brother keep everything together?!

6. Suddenly Susan – I am 100% thrilled to report that I cannot recall the premise of Suddenly Susan.

5. Just Shoot Me – Blush does a big piece on both of the candidates, leading to several wacky revelations. Jack is convinced that Barack is a guy from the mailroom and Obama, fun-loving rascal that he is, decides to play along. Meanwhile, Eliot and Maya are desperately trying to drag the mother of all secrets out of Nina—hint: maybe she had an affair with Post-Nam McCain? (!) And, um, Finch does something gross and sexual at several points during the episode.

4. Mad About You – While Jamie campaigns for Obama, Paul is contacted to film attack ads for the McCain campaign. Meanwhile, Cousin Ira’s bookie/mob contact accidentally passes along money to McCain’s coffers. The war for the White House is fought in the Buchman kitchen (!) as Paul and Jamie have a knock-down-drag-out fight. Five minutes later, they decide to have a kid and their dog Murray bumps his head on something. (AHEM! Eds. Note: Laksh gets credit for coming up with the Cousin Ira storyline. She also probably owns all of Mad About You on DVD.)

3. NewsRadio – It’s a family affair this week on NewsRadio, as Jimmy James reveals himself to be Barack Obama’s actual father and Matthew is convinced that John McCain is “his uncle Lester from the farm”. (!) Meanwhile, Dave and Lisa get all worried about whether or not Bill saw them kissing in the supply closet (they’re back together… aaaagain!). At one point, Obama’s campaign bus is broken and Joe hits it with a hammer, magically fixing it! (However, the same hammer can do nothing for McCain’s poll numbers in Florida and Pennsylvania.)

2. Third Rock from the Sun – The Solomons are forced to get politically aware when Dick’s college is selected to host a presidential debate, which Dick is chosen to moderate (!). Sally, favoring judicial restraint and a strong national defense, decides she is a Republican. Tommy, a social progressive with a ponytail, declares himself to be a Democrat. However, since he is too young to vote, he persuades Harry to register in his place, in exchange for a ferret. Nina is mistaken for Michelle Obama and hijinks ensue. During the debate, Dick becomes convinced that McCain is the Big Giant Head and, as such, becomes frantic, agitated, and causes a big ol’ Must-See-TV scene.

1. Northern Exposure – Sarah Palin shoots the town moose from a helicopter. Rob Morrow exacts sweet, sweet revenge (!).

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Top 6 Reasons to Go See The Calgary Whalers Present: The Deck

So, on Monday, 8 PM, at the Broadway Comedy Club (318 W. 53rd St.), there will be a show in which I (Rob Trump) will be performing some stand-up comedy.  It is called The Calgary Whalers Present: The Deck, and it promises to be glorious.  Here are some reasons you should go:

6. Luke Thayer will be performing stand-up

Okay, I'll be completely honest, I have not actually met Luke Thayer, nor do I know anything about him.  But that is a WILD CARD and if you have ever played Uno then you know what wild cards do (hint: win).  Also, I Googled him and found this little profile of him and he looks fun and now I feel creepy.

5. Spare Change will be performing

What will they be performing????  I HAVE NO IDEA!!!!  I don't know if Spare Change is an improv group or a sketch group or a rock group or a painting group or a groupie group or a grouper.  It is also hard for me to Google them as "spare change" is actually a really common phrase (who knew?).  But in this case, consider them an even WILDER card, like Wild Draw Four or something, and you wish you were holding a lot of those cards like you wish you had a lot of Spare Change (onstage and in your pocket).

4. I heard two weeks ago was a damn good time

I'll come clean that I wasn't there two weeks ago (I might've been in the audience, but instead I was doing five minutes at an open mic that was totally LAMER than this could ever possibly be!), but all reports back from the event were a positive and rockin' good time.  I have no reason to believe that this week will be any less rockin' and may even be more rockin'????  IT IS UP TO YOU, THE VIEWER!!!  but not really but the people who it is actually up to will be on their top form.

3. Justin Grace and James Michael Pullan ("The Calgary Whalers") will be hosting

Okay, here are some people that I know or half of a group of people that I know or something.  They will probably be doing some combination of talking-at-ya and sketches, and I know from PERSONAL, PRIVATE experience, that Justin Grace is a funny fellow.  I do not actually know his good friend James Michael Pullan (and I cannot imagine that he goes by all three of those cumbersome names), but I can only assume that Justin would not consort with a man who was not also kneeslapper-inducing.  Plus I heard their stuff was good last time.

2. Michael Grinspan will be performing stand-up

You know Michael Grinspan from Chowdah, The Fed, the creation of "Fascbook: the Facebook Group for Fascist[s],"  and general campus visibility.  I know Michael Grinspan from a hole in the wall, but just barely, as he was behind the hole in the wall last time I stuck my penis in it as part of a formulaic joke (I don't know what that meant).  Michael Grinspan has on occasion made the rafters ring with laughter so that their ringing shattered glass and it was the glass that the rafters were made of in a house of glass where I was throwing stones and what the hell stop writing Rob.  Plus, I heard his stuff was good last time.

1. I will be performing stand-up

Are you kidding?  This is totally the reason you want to go most.  I am hilarious.  I will be hilarious for ten minutes.  STRAIGHT.

Top 27 Worst Online Passwords

27. password

26. password1

25. password!

24. psswrd

23. password.com

22. ppaasssswwoorrdd

21. assword

20. username

19. honoredguest

18. numberoneguy

17. default

16. 1234

15. asterisk

14. between5and20characters

13. nospaces

12. atleast1number

11. topsecret

10. supersecret

9. iamsupergoodatsex

8. secretword

7. hiddenword

6. hiddenworld

5. thelostworld

4. jurassicpark

3. jurassicparkthemovie

2. jurassicparkthepassword

1. jurASSicparktheASSword

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Top 13 Angsty Drifting Lost Boys

A while back, Nathan Rabin, an excellent writer for The Onion's AV Club, came up with the phrase Manic Pixie Dream Girl to describe that particular filmic stock character that, in his words, "exists solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures." A.) That's awesome. B.) I started wondering, "Well, what's the male equivalent?"

Certainly not Manic Pixie Dream Boy. Because first off, that sounds kinda gay. And secondly, I'm not talking about male versions of MPDGs--I thinking more along the lines of the men these women gravitate to. By the by, the nature of that gravity is hotly contested, IN MY OWN HEAD! Do the guys go for the girls first? Or do the girls baste the guys with come-ons, and then run away to be chased? After a few hours worth of thought and college football, I decided that there really is no pursuit in these types of relationships. They just seem to happen, they fall into place. The boy and girl follow each other around, wreaking havoc on each other's lives, and by the end, they will kiss and all will be well. The chase happens on an almost subconscious level. So... yeah... here are the dudes I came up with.

13. Luke Wilson in Bottle Rocket

Anthony: One morning, over at Elizabeth's beach house, she asked me if I'd rather go water-skiing or lay out. And I realized that not only did I not want to answer THAT question, but I never wanted to answer another water-sports question, or see any of these people again for the rest of my life.

Some chick: Wow, you're really complicated.

Anthony: I try not to be.

In all reality, Anthony Adams is nowhere near the most lost or drifting character in this film--and his angst is pretty questionable too, frankly. He’s a good looking (albeit directionless) guy with a mid-90s haircut and a ridiculous best friend, and he kinda-sorta spent some time in a mental hospital, oh, but it was a voluntary stay and it was for exhaustion? As soon as he meets—and soon after beds—the maid at his hotel, his let-me-brush-the-hair-out-of-my-face-while-I-squint-aimlessly-at-the-future mystique fades into a warm, vague new lease on life. Oh well. It was a good look while it lasted.

12. Alain Delon in Le Samourai

Jeff Costello: I never lose. Never really.

Angsty in the sense that he is French. Drifting in the sense that the cops are after him for a botched hit. Lost in the sense that his hope is pretty much lost. Boy in the sense that Alain Delon looked 12 years old until he was 45. BTW, this is probably the coolest movie ever, in that 60s, I’m-going-to-freak-out-on-pills-and-dance-to-crazy-jazz sense of cool.

11. Gene Kelly in An American in Paris

Jerry Mulligan: What gets me is, I don't know anything about her. We manage to be together for a few moments and then off she goes. Sometimes we have a wonderful time together and other times it's no fun at all. But I got to be with her.

Gene Kelly angsty? Well, as angsty as one can be while dancing with the American In Paris Ballet Ensemble to the strains of George Gershwin.

10. Vincent Gallo in Buffalo ‘66

Billy Brown: There was nobody that I liked because girls stink. They stink. They're evil. And they're all bad. They're backstabbers, like you.

Fun fact. Vincent Gallo pees on my high school in this movie. Well, on the grounds of it, at least. This film also gives off the impression that Buffalo is stuck inside a bowling alley from the 70s. That impression is not altogether inaccurate.

9. Martin Sheen in Badlands 

Tagline: He was 25 years old. He combed his hair like James Dean. She was 15. She took music lessons and could twirl a baton. For a while they lived together in a tree house. In 1959, she watched while he killed a lot of people.

I hesitate (slightly) to include a character based on Charles Starkweather on this list, but what the heck, he’s charmingly psychopathic. One thing that gets me about these films is that the love stories usually don’t require initial pursuit… it is as if the boy and girl magically land upon each other, that their coupling was preordained and prescribed and to be expected. In Badlands, Kit doesn’t spend the first forty pages of the script chasing after Holly, the middle ten in a sweet montage meant to convey marital bliss, and the last forty making up to her for that stupid bet he made on page three. He walks up to her, they talk for a while, eventually they are in love and he kills her father. She just sort of accepts these as a series of facts in her life.

8. Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate

Mr. Braddock: Ben, what are you doing?

Benjamin: Well, I would say that I'm just drifting. Here in the pool.

Mr. Braddock: Why?

Benjamin: Well, it's very comfortable just to drift here.

Let me first say that I’ve watched this film once since I graduated from college. It was a hard, hard experience. When I was younger and I watched this, what got to me was how unearned his angst was. I thought, “That guy is rich. He has a sweet car. Why so serious?” (Okay, I didn’t make that joke because that would be a blatant anachronism. CONTINUITY ALERT!) But now, it seems doubly painful that a guy should reach the honorable age of 22 and realize that his life is not, in fact, over—only the structured part is. What’s left are years and years of uncertainty and you can either choose to drift or to act, with the knowledge that both are equally likely to disappoint. (UM. THAT was a downer. Quick, look at this!)

7. Zach Braff in Garden State

Andrew Largeman: Maybe that's all family really is. A group of people who miss the same imaginary place. 

Oh man. Was there ever a harsher backlash victim than Garden State? (Well, yeah… Juno, I guess.) And was Zach Braff really to blame for the great Emo Outbreak of 2004? (Or was that just one more thing to pin on Al Qaeda?) However you choose to answer these fake questions, one thing is clear. Beyond all the hype, the anti-hype, the soundtrack, the parodies, the fervent fans, and the Scrubs that would not, could not die… this was, at one point, a beautiful, small film. And at the core of it, there was an angsty, drifting, lost boy who fell swiftly, almost inevitably in love with his manic, pixie, dream girl.

6. Leonardo DiCaprio in The Departed

Billy Costigan: You don't have any cats.

Madolyn: No.

Billy Costigan: I like that.

Yeah, this is a stretch. I just thought I’d try to sneak it in and hopefully no one would notice.

5. Jim Carrey in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind 

Joel: If only I could meet someone new. I guess my chances of that happening are somewhat diminished, seeing that I'm incapable of making eye contact with a woman I don't know.

Commenters were up in e-arms the exclusion of Kate Winslet’s portrayal of Clementine from the AVClub’s list of the Top 16 Films Featuring Manic Pixie Dream Girls. (Yes, there are other websites that tabulate pop-culture factoids in list form.) Well, that’s fine and probably true, but I think Jim Carrey knocked this one out of the ADLB Park, dude! (ADLB is the abbreviation I just invented for Angsty Drifting Lost Boy—MAKE IT HAPPEN!) From that wooly sweater that almost threatens to devour him to the shaggy mop of hair that should have been trimmed three weeks ago to those bizarre, yet touching sketches of skeletons… I mean, the guy was working overtime and every minute was worth it.

4. Timothy Hutton in Beautiful Girls 

Willy: I just want something beautiful.

Mo: Shit, Willy, we all want something beautiful...

Here is a good way to tell if you are playing an ADLB. 1.) Are you going to your high-school reunion? 2.) Are you spending a lot of time drinking with old buddies? 3.) Are you opening up old wounds in the process? 4.) Does nothing seem to be going right for any of you—although for them, that means their relationships are in shambles and there are no jobs to be found, while for you that means you’re not sure if you want to marry your pretty hot girlfriend. 5.) (And this is probably the most important…) Are you spending your free time pursuing a dangerously ambiguous, but potentially poignant relationship with the 12 year-old Manic-Pixie-Dream-Girl-in-training next door? If you said yes to any of these, you’re probably an ADLB. If you said yes to all of them, and you aren’t Timothy Hutton, your screenwriter is a dirty plagiarist.

3. Robert DeNiro in Taxi Driver

Travis Bickle: Loneliness has followed me my whole life, everywhere. In bars, in cars, sidewalks, stores, everywhere. There's no escape. I'm God's lonely man. 

A while back, those crazy YouTube trailer mash-ups were really in vogue. (I think it was right when we decided we were living in a post-9/11 world… which was like, 2003.) Anyway, there was one in which Taxi Driver was spun into an emo-infused rom-com, with the help of that Postal Service song from Garden State. It was pretty funny and I laughed enough to watch it again, because I missed a part. And it got me thinking… “Huh, this isn’t actually too far off from the emotional core of the original. Y’know, without all the swearing.” Angsty? As fuck. Drifting? Through 12-hour shifts. Lost? In New York, no. In LIFE? Yah-huh.

2. Joseph Cotton in The Third Man

Holly Martins: I'm just a hack writer who drinks too much and falls in love with girls.

Um, yeah. I can’t really beat that quote. One question, though: is the Manic Pixie in this film actually Orson Welles? WHAT. My understanding of great film just exploded behind my left eyeball.

1. John Cusack in Grosse Pointe Blank (also Better Off Dead, Say Anything, The Sure Thing, etc…)

Marty: I was sitting there alone on prom night, in a goddamn rented tuxedo, and my whole life flashed before my eyes. And I realized finally, and for the first time, that I wanted to kill somebody. So I figured since I loved you so much, it'd be a good idea if I didn't see you anymore… So I was in the Gulf last year--I was doing this thing—anyway, I came up over this dune, and I saw the ocean... and it was on fire. The whole thing, on fire, and it was beautiful. So I just sat there and watched it, and that's when I realized there might be a meaning to life, you know, like an organic power that connects all living things, God, Yahweh, I dunno.

So, this was actually the character that inspired me to write this list. Maybe it isn’t even the character, maybe it’s the Cusack… I mean, for a span of like, ten years back there, he just played some brilliant fraction of the same guy and people loved him for it. There’s this one look he has, where his eyes are WIDE open and his mouth is pursed tight… it looks like he’s thinking, “Man, everyone around me is almost too ridiculous to function, but then again, I’m too broken to care, so where are the real killers here, man?” I get why girls go for that look. It goes beyond nursing sick puppies back to health. These guys are looking for a shot at redemption, and usually when they find it, it’s got a girl’s name. That’s not a bad gig, being some guy’s redemption.

Top 6 People Whose Work I Greatly Respect but Do Not Love

I can be a pretty big dick about stuff I don't like, I'll be honest.  And I can be pretty quick to call hackery on something that is critically adored but I think is crap--Quentin Tarantino, for existence, or Sam Kinison, or the TV show Weeds would never be on here; I think critics are all just plain wrong about their quality.  It takes a rather interesting type for me to feel this way about, but on occasion, I do:

6. Charles Dickens

Formally, he's a great writer.  He's strong with word choice, and he has about as good of a conception of character as any writer I know.  He just doesn't tell stories that I'm interested in.  At all.  "A Christmas Carol" is probably the best example of what I simultaneously admire and don't like about his work: it's a smart, moral tale, but one that doesn't in any way hit me as interesting, neither in character, nor message, nor (and especially on this one) structure.  I find it boring.  Well-told, but mundane.

5. Lenny Bruce

Lenny Bruce is someone whom I'd firmly place in the category of "satirist," and perhaps the last person to really be truly satirical about how we use language.  I distantly respect his work as "smart," but I don't think I've ever laughed at his stuff, even though I've laughed pretty hard at contemporaries of his like Bob Newhart.  It's not that his comedy feels "old" to me, it's just that it doesn't really hit me.  Perhaps the taboos he's breaking, which would have been funny then, just aren't funny becuase they no longer exist (because he broke them?).  In any case, whenever I listen to Bruce, I don't feel like it's because he's that funny, but just because he's "important."  Which, no doubt, he is.

4. Steve Martin

Steve Martin is probably named as an influence by more comedians that I like than any other comedian.  I just don't think he's that funny.  I get that he's doing really "out-there," self-consciously performative, often non-sequitur stuff before anyone else does, but it just doesn't really make me laugh.  I also think that he's a mediocre writer, and that Shopgirl was truly atrocious.  But mostly: his stand-up.  Interesting, and I get that comedians I like liked it, but it just doesn't do anything for me.

3. Led Zeppelin

Led Zeppelin is a group that clearly made a certain type of arena rock music with more skill and proficiency than anyone else has ever done.  I don't think they're untalented, neither do I think that they're hacks without any sense of melody or structure.  They're just...not a band that I'm interested in at all.  I can listen to the riff of "Ocean" and respect it as bitchin', or to the chorus of "Whole Lotta Love" and think that it is both catchy and truly rawk.  It's just music that is too guitar-y, too tied to a certain ethos that I don't identify with, and too...not making me ever want to come back to it...for me to really love.

2. Andy Kaufman

Andy Kaufman was probably the last person in current history--and may go down as the last person ever--to have a genuinely new concept of comedy from what came before.  He had a really firm conviction that comedy was never "in your head," and he only wanted to get the gut, uncontrollable laughs that came from genuine surprise.  Which is a pretty cool concept: anyone who really sticks to their guns on what they seriously believe is funny and doesn't cave into "cheap laughs," whatever they think those are, is pretty respectable to me.  Problem: I don't find Kaufman that funny.  His stand-up mostly strikes me as reaching, and while I think he's funnier on Taxi, he supposedly thought that was the biggest sell-out move of his career.  Still, it's almost impossible for me not to have respect for someone who has this strong a commitment to their comedic art (to the point of living his life as a massive joke), even if that isn't one that really resonates with me.

1. James Joyce

I'm currently reading Ulysses for a class (just to brag a little), and it's not like I actively dislike it.  I think some of the stuff he's doing is pretty cool, and I have great respect for the massive amount of work that goes into something like this.  He obviously has a clear picture of almost everything minute about the lives of his characters, and he's doing extremely innovative stuff to examine them.  I just...am not really interested in intensely oblique storytelling.  Or rather: I'm not very interested in stories that don't exist at all on the surface level.  What I'm trying to say is that chapters of Ulysses are pretty cool--once you've read them three times and then had them explained to you.  Contrast this with Gravity's Rainbow, which is immensely entertaining even if you just understand the surface level, then gets better the more you look at and consider it.  Ulysses doesn't have a surface level.  It's not that it's not brilliant--from a formal perspective, it clearly is--but I wish it was a lot more basically accessible and enjoyable.

Oh, and also: supposedly Joyce used to always ask people if they thought his books were funny.  Ulysses isn't funny.  Sorry, but burying a dumb scatalogical joke in several layers of complexity doesn't make it any better than a dumb scatological joke.  Again, my comparison: Pynchon is hilarious.  Joyce is extremely well put-together, but really not funny.  Oh, another thing: man, I really did fucking love that bird girl passage from Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.  I just can't bring myself to love Joyce as a whole.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The 31 Women Who Can Still Be the Mother of Ted's Children on How I Met Your Mother

If you haven't noticed, Rob and I are pretty big fans of How I Met Your Mother. It a) is one of the three best-written sitcoms on today, b) contains at least two of the top ten characters on TV today, and c) is THE most genuinely relatable show on television today. Call me crazy, but that's a quality I friggin' value in entertainment. If I'm going to let a bunch of people into my home every monday night, I want to feel like they should stick around for a beer once their 22 minutes are over. 

But who will be the eponymous mother! (PS: Band folks--that would be a sick name for a band. EPONYMOUS MOTHER!) Well, after three seasons and a handful of S4 episodes, a great many wonderful women have been written off as possible candidates for the mother of Ted's children. But 31 lovely ladies remain!!!

31. The Slutty Pumpkin (from the episode Slutty Pumpkin)

30. Mary the paralegal (from the episode Mary the Paralegal)

29. Margaret Thatcher (okay, enough of real things...)

28. Swoozie Kurtz

27. Betty White

26. Dakota Fanning

25. Virginia of “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus” fame

24. St. Cecilia, patron saint of music

23. Jenna, from 30 Rock

22. Topanga

21. Lilith (from a little thing called The Bible)

20. Lilith (from a little thing called Fraiser)

19. Gloria Stuart

18. Joan Baez

17. Bonnie Tyler

16. Rue McClanahan

15. Nessie, who is actually a chick

14. Elaine Robinson

13. Molly Bloom

12. Jordan Baker

11. The girl with the pearl earring

10. The girl next door

9. Lil Kim

8. Beth Cooper

7. Winnie Cooper

6. Mr. Cooper (that is actually a dude…)

5. Mrs. Cooper (that is actually a dude, too?!)

4. Mrs. Fields (that is actually a robot sent from the past to destroy your hunger!!)

3. Mrs. Dalloway

2. Robin (LISTEN I AM NOT A BAD PERSON FOR BELIEVING)

1. Bea Arthur

Top 10 Numberwangs

The other day, a friend introduced me to a glorious recurring Mitchell and Webb sketch called Numberwang.  Watch all of these, in this order, first, then endure my musings.

1. "Numberwang"



2. "Numberwang, Pt. 2"



3. "Numberwang, Pt. 3"



4. "Numberwang, Pt. 4"



5. "German Numberwang"



6. "Wordwang"



7. "The Numberwang Code"



8. "Numberwang: the Board Game"



9. "The History of Numberwang"



10. "Live Numberwang"



What's really brilliant about this concept, I think, is the way that they capture the manic energy of the rapid-fire game shows that they're parodying, but manage to remove absolutely all of the content.  They end up with something that feels familiar to and is just as eminently watchable as World Series of Pop Culture or The 64,000 Dinari Pyramid or whatever, but without anything discernable that the game show is about.  For my money, the best ones are the first one for being so original and spot-on, and "Numberwang: the Board Game," which has one of the funniest lines I've ever heard in any sketch.  The "History" one loses me a little; I prefer to think that there is absolutely no system to determining what is "Numberwang" and what isn't, which seems to fit the spirit of the sketch more than "an extremely complicated system."  But I'm nitpicking.  This shit is awesome.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Top 30 Best Lyrics Ever, For Real, For All-Time, EVER!

I think this time I'm just going to let other, wiser people do the talking for me. A special commentary-free edition of PaRMLoT! (We are still totally calling this PaRMLoT, PS.)

30. “Eli’s coming, girl, you better hide your heart” – Three Dog Night, Eli’s Coming

29. “She serves him mashed potatoes / And she serves him peppered steak, with corn / Pulls her dress up over her head / Lets it fall to the floor / But does she ever whisper in his ear all her favorite fruit?” – Camper Van Beethoven, All Her Favorite Fruit

28. “I want to make a million dollars / I want to live out by the sea / Have a husband and some children / Yeah, I guess I want a family” – Tina Turner, Private Dancer

27.Soco in bed, a sunny sunday watching John McLaughlin / And having sex again and again / I'd stopped by 'cause Ellen had my copy of Nebraska / They never even put on their clothes” – The Dismemberment Plan, Ellen and Ben

26. “He was born a pauper to a pawn on a Christmas day / When the New York times said God is dead / And the war's begun / Alvin Tostig has a son today” – Elton John, Levon

25.She said that she was working for the ABC News
/ It was as much of the alphabet as she knew how to use”
- Elvis Costello, Brilliant Mistake

24. Hey, pretty baby get high with me, / We can go to my sisters if we say we'll watch the baby" – Neko Case, Star Witness

23. “You’d never know it / But buddy, I’m a kind of poet / And I’ve got a lot of things I wanna say / And when I’m gloomy, won’t you listen to me / ‘Til it’s talked away” – Johnny Mercer/Harold Arlen, One For My Baby

22.I'm aching for you baby / I can't pretend I'm not / I need to see you naked / In your body and your thought” – Leonard Cohen, Ain’t No Cure For Love

21. “I was out late the other night / Fear and whiskey kept me going” – The Mekons, Chivalry

20. Got a curse we cannot lift / shines when the sunset shifts / there's a cure comes with a kiss / the bite that binds the gift that gives” – TV On the Radio, Wolf Like Me

19. Greener grasses fade from where you wind up / everyone choose sides /
I’m back! I’m back! So sing to raise the blind up” – The Wrens, Everyone Choose Sides

18. “Well a person can work up a mean mean thirst
/ after a hard day of nothin' much at all
/ Summer's passed, it's too late to cut the grass /
There ain't much to rake anyway in the fall” – The Replacements, Here Comes a Regular

17. “It’s time to fight back, that’s what Huey said / Two shots in the dark, now Huey’s dead” – 2Pac, Changes

16. Pick out some Brazilian nuts for your engagement / Check that expiration date, man / It’s later than you think” – Pavement, We Dance

15.You know that chick that used to dance a lot?” – Thin Lizzy, The Boys are Back in Town

14. “Just before our love got lost you said, / 'I am as constant as the Northern Star' / Constant in the darkness / Where’s that at? / If you want me, I’ll be at the bar” – Joni Mitchell, A Case of You

13.Styles upon styles upon styles is what I have” – Tribe Called Quest, Buggin’ Out

12. “Her heart is as big as this whole goddamn jail / She’s sweeter than saccharine at a drug store sale” – John Prine, Christmas in Prison

11.Then she cries out / Oh my goodness, I'm about to climax / And I said cool, / “Climax!” / Just let go of my leg” – R. Kelly, Trapped in the Closet

10.So if you don't want me I promise not to linger / But before I go I've gotta ask you, dear, about the tan line on your ring finger” – Silver Jews, Random Rules

9.Everybody in the world, you have dandruff” – De La Soul, Can U Keep a Secret

8. “Here I go, deep type flow / Jacques Cousteau could never get this low” – Wu-Tang Clan, Da Mystery of the Chessboxin’

7. If I ever want to drive myself insane, / all I have to do is watch you breathing” – The Mountain Goats, There Will Be No Divorce

6. “I just wanna use your love tonight / I don’t wanna lose your love tonight” – The Outfield, Your Love

Okay, so I know I'm going to get shit for that one (and I totally said no commentary), but come on, it's the most succinct encapsulation of that singularly difficult moment, the simultaneous experience of two directly opposing emotions: a) I want to use you for sexual gratification and b) I truly care about you and don't want to lose the affection we have for each other. What's brilliant is that there isn't even a "but" separating the two sentiments; they are inextricably intertwined. And the two lines are so phonically similar! It's like you're almost lulled into the impression that, yeah, maybe sleeping with this person IS the best way to express my friendly affection. (Of course, if you're really in love with someone and you want to sleep with them, you should probably just do it. However, if your girlfriend Josie is on vacation, as is the case in the song, and you feel that she might have something to say about this... maybe hold up on the sleeping-with.) Anyway, I would not be shocked if the members of The Outfield were currently respected sociologists.

5.I'm just an animal looking for a home/ Share the same space for a minute or two / And you love me till my heart stops / Love me till I'm dead” – Talking Heads, Na├»ve Melody

4.It may be you / It could be me / It's not enough / To wait and see / And when we all / Lock arms and sing / Then bells of freedom / Ring ding ding!” – Some scientists, The Most Unwanted Song

3. “Is a dream a lie that don’t come true, or is it something worse?” – Bruce Springsteen, The River

2. “Everyone I used to know is either dead or in prison” – Tom Waits, Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis

1. “Your debutante knows what you need, but I know what you want” – Bob Dylan, Stuck Inside of Mobile With the Memphis Blues Again