Monday, December 29, 2008

Top 15 Lists Peter Wrote for Peter and Rob Make Lists of Things in 2008

More navel-gazing!  But this time it's me gazing at Peter's navel!  Is that weird?  Too late to care, let's forge on ahead!  (Note: I tended to favor older lists, which I figure newer readers are less likely to have seen, so you can enjoy the best of what you haven't read yet!)

With over 300 views, this is the all-time most popular list on PaRMLoT, and who am I to argue with popular consensus?  Most of the hits came from people searching terms like "lazy halloween costumes" in the three days before the holiday, and I'm glad they came to the best possible resource for such a need.  It's the best possible resource because a lot of the costumes on the list are of the "don't change anything and say you are X" variety.  I really hope that Peter helped 300 people be "that asshole with the meta-costume" at their respective parties.

Peter's obsession with Legends of the Hidden Temple has run strong throughout this blog, and this is the apex of his focus on it, which adds to its stature.  Mostly, however, this list is on here because In completely lose it every time I read #2, "Kirk Fogg is clearly a prisoner."

I love Peter's lists of "fictional Xs" (there may even be another one on this peeking!) because they often just spiral off into total absurdity.  This one starts pretty strong--there's something glorious about a haircut with a forward slash in the name--and by the time I am imagining exactly what the haircut "The Capitol Steps" looks like, I'm IN IT.

I love Celebrity, and hopefully this list introduced some people to the game.  What makes Peter's list about it great, though is the constant switching between the three different rounds.  Especially the round two ones--"not Randy" is such an artful description of Dennis Quaid.  It's weirdly both absurdist and extremely relatable if you've played the game.

I think that of all Peter's pop-culture-analysis posts, this is my favorite.  Read this list to instill in yourself exactly what makes a great closing track to a great album.  What makes a good closing track is complicated, and I think this list captures it perfectly.

Extra points to this list for being the FIRST REAL LIST ever posted on Peter and Rob Make Lists of Things!  Basic points for being hilarious and awesome, and for #3, "All of the main characters are actually cats," which carries the following description:

Note: Do NOT under any circumstances disclose or make references to this fact prior to deploying the literary device. If on page 250 of "Cat Party: The Party That Was For Cats" you throw in a line like, "By the way, Ernst, Gabby, and Martinique are all shorthair tabbies," no one will care. But imagine how much better Crime and Punishment could have been!!!

Dammit, Peter, the whole purpose of making lists is that you don't even have to write good or even complete sentences.  But Peter flouted list convention and put up an actually excellent piece of writing, a paean to the Twins' season that is certainly the best bit of prose on the site.  Read this and make yourself cry if you are a sports fan of any kind.

I am such a sucker for super-high-concept stuff, and this list is so high-concept that it almost mocks the entire concept.  (Of being high-concept.  Concept.)  This list combines all the greatest things in the world--politics, guest appearances on sitcoms, and the 90s.  Also, it contains the following sentence:

Niles can’t stop crushing on Michelle Obama and Daphne can’t stop being tacitly racist!

That, friends, is a list.

Not only does Peter leave a prep hangin' and not regret it in the title of this list, this early list is packed with gems: it starts with "vaguely sexual," "early Bowie," and "wanton cannibal," and it's only uphill from there.

I have had several people tell me that this is one of their favorite lists on the site, and I agree.  I think it sort of manages to enscapulate everything we're trying to do with this blog--perfect opportunity for the list format, references to Legends of the Hidden Temple, and a highbrow educated concept replete with dick jokes.  Great work, Peter.

I think my favorite part about this is the hosts, which at first seem arbitrary, but the more you reread them, the more they seem to be exactly the perfect person who would host that show and cause you to only sorta get why they are hosting it.  Top Facebook invites hosted by Lily Tomlin?  Why DOES that sorta make sense to me?  Also, it keeps alive one of our more minor feuds, the legitimacy of Casey Affleck, the sucker who has done nothing.  Also, I love meta-lists.


This post is wonderful largely because all of the addresses are real and all the e-mails were actually sent, some of them to me.  The Ron Shortsweather e-mail that is listed at #1 is one of the great pieces of art produced by western civilization.  Specifically, the bit with the broken links to pictures of beaches...that's worthy of someone's grad thesis.  Pray that one day you will be special enough to receive an e-mail from one of these addresses.

I want to live in the world where these are stock characters.  That world is the best world of all worlds.  Just imagine "the alcoholic child" showing up and you knowing exactly what you are getting.  Yeah, you want to live in that world, too.

This was the best list on the site when Peter wrote it originally, and I think it still is.  As well as providing people with a way to settle any and all arguments, Peter gives some of the best examples, including: "Love vs. Sex," "Millard Fillmore v. Rutheford B. Hayes," and references to Neil Young, Multiplicity, and The Colbert Report.  This is the list that you will spend a few minutes reading, then several hours playing with the game that it teaches you.  This is the list to beat all lists.

Top 15 Lists Rob Has Written for "Peter and Rob Make Lists of Things" in 2008

SELF-REFLEXIVE LIST!!! (Or, rather, Rob-reflexive, I suppose.)

Rob and I make no bones about the fact that we dig each other's moves/style/general "je ne sais quoi". 'Bout time we quantified it, eh?!

15. Top 7 Reasons Not to Vote

This brings me joy because in my little heart of hearts, I like to think that maybe some dumb people read this and decided not to vote.

14. Top 14 Tramps and Whether or Not They Are Like Us
This brings me joy because it is the second hobo-focused post on our site, it trashes prog-rock, and it contains the sentences, "The official way to generate nicknames for us tramps is by using your home state as your first name. Take it from us, Minnesota Trump and New York Mende-Siedlecki."

13. Top 18 Micronations
This brings me joy because I can easily imagine the gleeful smile on Rob's face that resulted from Wikipedia-ing "micronations". (Also, he makes a sweet Sidd Finch reference and kicks libertarians in the pants a few times!)

12. Top 6 Screenplays I Wish I Had Written
This brings me joy because it reminds me that Rob is still sore over the Merkin Muffley exclusion, but more importantly, because it reminds me that my co-list-blogger has excellent taste.

11. Top 5 Reasons Why We Are Not Currently Winning Any Blogger's Choice Awards
This brings me joy because it shows Rob's berserker-rage hatred of cystic fibrosis and the people who blog about it. Also, he makes reference to a fictional rash that I had.

10. 7 Graphs Against "Amount of Pages I Have Written"
This brings me joy because this list gave us our single-day high for page views. Thanks finals, Google Analytics, and Rob Trump!

9. Top 11 Birthdays Today, August 12th
This brings me joy because it is ineffably sweet. Okay, the sweetness of this list is actually pretty effable. Okay, this got weird.

8. The 15 Minnesota-est Songs, on a Minnesota Music Mix I Made
This brings me joy because Rob Trump is the kind of dedicated list-bloodhound who a) makes a sweet Minnesota Music Mix, b) tracks down all the songs, c) puts the mix on Megaupload, d) writes so goddamn well about it, and finally, e) chooses to end the mix with Morris Day and the mothafuckin' Time!

7. Top 8 Children Who Were Left Behind
This brings me joy because Rob makes the greatest pun about his butt in this list, and also he drops a train on Corey Hart.

6. Top 14 State Capitals That You Have Uselessly Memorized
This brings me joy because Rob is a master of running joke-progressions on so many levels simultaneously. Also, this list is entirely composed of truth.

5. Top 25 Meatbones
This brings me joy because it proves that Rob Trump follows through, like a genius knight of the first rank.

4. Top 31 Things that Peter and I Go Together Like
This brings me joy because it's (half) about me and it's (easily) the gayest thing on our site. AND I MEAN THAT IN THE BEST GOOD WAY.

3. Top 7 Worst Examples of Modern Satire
This brings me joy because there is nothing like a Trump Rant to sufficiently dress down a piece of pop culture. When a smart person is angry, I like to make popcorn and watch. This quote is classic Trump (and it has more libertarian jabs!!!): "Look, South Park makes me laugh. Sometimes. But it isn't an eye of sanity trained on the ridiculousness of our lives. It's a poop joke with impersonations of politicians thrown in. And its creators are loony libertarians."

2. Top 9 Funniest Wikipedia Pages to Replace With a Blank Page and a Picture of a Gorilla Giving You the Middle Finger
This brings me joy because Rob is a master of the absurd.

1. Top 24 Ways to Tell that You Do Not Belong in Mensa
This brings me joy because it is honestly the funniest goddamn list on our site.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Top 3 Novels Written as a Joke to Prove a Point

Sorry for the continually shrinking size of these past few lists, but Peter's currently without internet access, and I get lazy when he isn't here to whip me for writing bad posts.  Also, these three are all pretty cool.

In the 1950s, radio host Jean Shepherd was frustrated with the way bestseller lists were compiled, as not only sales of books for requests for books were taken into consideration.  He organized a mass hoax by encouraging listeners to request the nonexistent book I, Libertine by Frederick R. Ewing at their local bookstores.  This caused the novel to crawl up lists far enough, perpetuating its own buzz, for Ballantine to request the actual writing and publication of a book of that name.  He enlisted science fiction authro Theodore Sturgeon to do so, and his point was proven.  Here's a hilarious interview about it.

In 2004, a group of science fiction and fantasy authors were annoyed by vanity press PublishAmerica's claim to be a legit publisher that rejects most of the submitted manuscripts, as well as PublishAmerica's statement that, "the quality bar for sci-fi and fantasy is a lot lower than other fiction...[their authors] have no clue what it is to write real-life stories, and how to find them a home."  They set out to write the worst possible piece of literary fiction imaginable, complete with two different chapters written from the same outline and with the same plot beats, a missing chapter 21, a chapter 17 that was word-for-word identical to chapter 4, two different chapter 12s, and one chapter spit out by a computer program that input the rest of the book and output semi-coherent sentences about the same characters.  The characters, by the way, as well as being inconsistent in gender, race, age, and status of life (characters die and appear again without explanation), spell out with their initials, "PublishAmerica is a vanity press."

PublishAmerica accepted the book for publication.  Zing.

In the late 1960s, a previous collective of 24 frustrated authors had written Naked Came the Stranger.  But in this case, they were trying to make a point to the public in general instead of to a vanity press.  Naked Came the Stranger was another an intentionally bad book, this one inspired by the fact that the bestseller list could be conquered only by books slathered in graphic eroticism.  The collaboraters wrote an intentionally terrible book--often rewriting parts of it to make the language poorer--but put in tons of sex.

The book made it onto the New York Times bestseller list and spawned a film adaptation.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Top 5 Bits of Hanukkah Slipped Into Christmas Specials/Albums

Well, Peter and I are done celebrating our holiday now, but Hanukkah is still going strong.  In the interest of Hanukkah (sort of) and our Jewish friends (we have them), I would like to present to you four classic Christmas recordings that engage in a little Jewish tokenism.

5. "Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel" in Mr. Hankey's Christmas Classics

Perenially the only Hanukkah song any gentiles know, it's a quick-and-easy go-to when you need some Judiasm in the middle of too much Christmas cheer, especially when it's sung by the token Jewish character on a TV show!

4. "Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel" on Pee Wee's Playhouse Christmas Special


3. "Light One Candle" on Peter, Paul & Mary's A Holiday Celebration

This is the one that inspired the list--near the end of one of the all-time classic Christmas albums (at least to me), you get hit with a really beautiful song about Hanukkah that Paul (a gentile) actually wrote.  As it turns out, it's one of the best and most memorable on the album.  Nice!

2. "Can I Interest You in Hanukkah?" on A Colbert Christmas: the Greatest Gift of All

Alright, so this one is self-aware about its tokenism (to be fair, so is South Park), but it doesn't mean that Jon Stewart hasn't crafted a Hanukkah classic for the ages.  Just kidding, it probably does!  I don't know anything about Hanukkah!

1. Barbara Streisand on Barbara Streisand's A Christmas Album

One of the best-selling Christmas albums of all time, it--HOLD UP.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Top 10 Words Made Very Different By the Addition or Subtraction of One Letter

The other night, I had the most ridiculous dream. In the dream, if you misheard things, they automatically came true. THE WEIRDEST, RIGHT? Well, it inspired this list.

(And please, if you think of more, submit them in the comments! You're our very favorite people in the world, don't you know that?!?!?!)

10. fury + 'r' = furry
As in, "Oh man, aw jeez, I am so full of furry right now!" Okay. Think about it. Did this person eat a Furry? Is this person currently (as in, right this second) sleeping with a Furry? IS THIS PERSON DOING BOTH OF THOSE THING OH GROSS GROSS GROSS!

9. shark + 's' = sharks
I am not suggesting that a singular shark would not be terrifying. However, the baldfaced truth is that multiple, perhaps even many sharks would be much, much more terrifying.

8. hosts + 'g' = ghosts
Like, what about this one: "Thanks for having us over for dinner, you and your wife are such lovely GHOSTS?!!?!?" Oh crap! In this story, my wife and I are dead and we are still having people over for dinner! And not in that, "Ooooh creepy we're having you for dinner but like, to eat you!" kind of way. (Although, to be fair, in this story, I also have a wife. Cool!) I thought that when you're dead, you don't know about it, and you make friends with kids and solve mysteries and stuff! (I actually don't remember what happens in The Sixth Sense anymore, I just know the semi-basics.)

7. chaste - 't' = chase
There is probably some sort of saying about this, like... "Seven drinks in the face will turn chaste into chase!" I can do better than that. "If you have a carbomb race, you'll see chaste become chase!" Nope. "If you drink past your pace, you'll go from chaste..." Nevermind.

6. spin + 'a' = Spain
Three Dog Night wrote a song once called Never Been to Spain. In that song, the narrator goes on and on about how he's never been to Spain. There is a reason that he's never been to Spain--and even though we don't know this reason, I am not about to find out!

5. treason - 't' = reason
What if reason was an offense punishable by death!?! (This is where you get to say, "I bet it is, in KANSAS!!!" Then, we e-five. That's like when you high-five over the internet.)

4. monkey - 'k' = money
As in, "Oh, these days, everyone's trying to save monkey." What would that even mean!!!

3. breast - 'r' = beast
Two words: BEAST CANCER. It is when the cancer you have is a beast! Also, how about this one, it is from a novel: "She took off her silken top, revealing her two huge BEASTS!" NO! THAT GIRL HAS BEASTS UNDER HER SILKEN TOP! PS... I made that whole novel thing up, that was from one of Rob's erotic short stories. Rob, I have been secretly reading your erotic short stories. My favorite one is "The Girl Who Loved Sex (With Me)".

2. friend - 'r' = fiend
Hey, do you want to be my best FIEND! If you do, you are weird and creepy! Or or or, maybe you're trying to be my BEAST FIEND! That's even worse! STOP CALLING!

1. cremationist - 'm' = creationist
Like the shark vs. sharks debate, I will concede that both of these things are scary. But which of these sentences strikes more fear into your heart: "I just found out that my sister is dating a cremationist"... OR, "I JUST FOUND OUT THAT MY SISTER IS DATING A CREATIONIST." (Okay, me shouting didn't help.)

Top 14 Taints

A slang term for the human, often male perineum, the "taint" is so-called because it...

14. The original taint - the perineum

Tain't the balls and tain't the ass!

Similarly, for other useless in-the-middle crap...

13. The facial taint - the philtrum

Tain't the nose and tain't the lips!
12. The nasal taint - the nasal septum

Tain't the left nostril and tain't the right!

11. The manual taint - the ring finger

Tain't the bird and tain't the pinky!  (Yeah that's right I'm flippin' off marriage...with a real finger)

10. The Columbia taint - the LLC gate

Tain't Hartley and tain't Wallach!  (Note: I am in no way taking credit for inventing this)

9. The weather's taint - sleet

Tain't rain and tain't snow!

8. The taint of milks - 1%

Tain't two and tain't skim!

7. The Harry Potter taint - Chamber of Secrets

Tain't Sorcerer's Stone and tain't Prisoner of Azkaban!  (Which were both way better, right guys?  Right?  ...Right?)

6. The Middle East taint - the Gaza strip

Tain't Israel and tain't Palestine!

5. The NBA's taint - the Golden State Warriors

Tain't the Kings and tain't the Lakers! (Note: the Clippers are actually even lower than a taint)

4. The U.S. presidential taint - right now

Tain't really a Bush presidency and tain't an Obama one!

3. The sports taint - rugby

Tain't football and tain't gang violence!  (Almost, but not quite.)

2. The telecommunications taint - Twitter

Tain't texting and tain't blogging!

1. The holiday taint - December 26th to 30th

Tain't Christmas and tain't New Years!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Top 40 New Names For the Baby Jesus or College Football Bowl Games

So there I sat, in Midnight Mass, thinking, "Garsh, there's a lot of names for Jesus!" Names like Son of God, Son of Man, Lord of Lords, Prince of Peace, and Wonder Counselor! Then, today, while reading the sports page, I thought, "Garsh, there's a lot of unnecessary college football bowl games!" Games like the Meineke Car Care Bowl, the Bowl, and the magicJack St. Petersburg Bowl.

Well, I wanted to do lists on both, but it's Christmas, so I combined them! Jesus names in green, bowl names in red!

40. J. Crizzle

39. The Crossbow Bowl

38. The Bowl

37. God Jr

36. The Boy Who Was His Own Father

35. The "Pat Digby for Finn County Sheriff" Bowl

34. Baby Bjlord

33. The Mole Bowl (in Division I-AA, the counterpart is the Vole Bowl)

32. Kid Christ

31. Lil' Ol' Hard-to-Kill

30. The Collected Works of James Fennimore Cooper Bowl

29. The Bergen County Tourism Commission Bowl (the Bergen County Community College football team is granted an automatic bid to this bowl game)

28. God-Tested, Holy-Mother-Approved

27. The Widespread Panic Bowl

26. The Fibromyalgia Awareness Bowl (an all-star game played by the best collegiate football players who present symptoms of fibromyalgia)

25. The Anti-Anti-Christ

24. Savior-in-a-box

23. The No-Turn-on-Red Bowl

22. Ringo of Nazareth

21. Dennis McEmmanuel

20. The Freemason Bowl

19. The Incarceratedmason Bowl

18. The Cadbury Creme Egg Bowl (previously known simply as the Egg Bowl, until it received sponsorship from the Cadbury-Schweppes company in 1996)

17. J. Herman Christ

16. Justice O. Peaceandlove

15. It Came From Bethlehem!!!

14. The PaRMLoT Bowl (actually just me and Rob throwing a football at each other when one of us isn't looking)

13. H.L. Mencken

12. Joseph's Little Hard-to-Explain Helper

11. The Original X-Man

10. Like a kid, but with superpowers

9. The Obsessive-Compulsives Anonymous Bowl (during this game, the first kickoff is replayed over and over and over until
everybody gets it right)

8. County Executive of County Executives

7. "Gentle" Jesuford Heisenberg Christenbaum

6. Nathaniel "Savior of Nations" Graybeard

5. The Pappy Chang's Take-Out-or-Eat-In Bowl

4. The Red Roof Inn Bowl (Martin Mull is the head referee for this bowl game)

3. MC J.C.

2. The Halliburton Happiness Bowl

1. Tiny Boy the Fireshooter

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Top 20 Worst Sentences in the Short Story "It Never Is" by Frederick Waterman

For some reason, on one of my flights home, I decided to read the short fiction in the United Airlines magazine Hemispheres. I discovered a piece of fiction so hilariously awful that it deserved its own list. Click here to read the whole thing. I will merely present you with the most laughably bad sentences. This will probably only be funny to people who are English majors or read a lot and notice really stupid fiction-writing mistakes, and in an effort to minimize the elitism, I will keep my commentary to a minimum. Probably bad fiction is either funny to you or not, and I can't really change that.

20. "Charlie West walked down the aisle of Flight 137 looking like a salesman who'd been out on the road too long."

The story's first sentence offers but a taste of the treasures that lie ahead.

19. Dialogue: "So, did you have some conversations you never thought you'd have?"

Seriously, try out loud to get through this mouthful of a question.

18. Dialogue, in response to a single question: "No, I didn't--and yes, I did."

Shit's about to get deep.

17. Dialogue: "If he'd been a salesman, he would have gone hungry because customers only buy from people they like."

This author loves his salesman metaphors!

16. Dialogue: "Yes, and there are other card games, like Loco and La Viuda--which mean Crazy and The Widow--that are also popular, but I don't know them."

Gettin' a little bit of culture in there. Nice work.

15. Dialogue: "You must bet and bluff well, so that your opponent never knows if you have the best hand or not."

You must!!!

14. "Charlie paused, changing what he was going to say."

God, I love terrible writing.

13. Dialogue: "She looked like she was in her early 30s, and it was clear that she'd seen more dawns at the end of the day than at the beginning."

Next sentence: "But there was something else about her, something more, and I couldn't figure out what it was." I MUST know!!! Thankfully, a few pargraphs later...

12. Dialogue: "I figured out what had bothered me about the woman: In her profile and some expressions, you could see what she'd looked like when she was young, but in her eyes you saw what she'd look like when she was old."

Next sentence: "Youth and age aren't supposed to be together like that, side by side; there should be some middle years, some good adult years, and they weren't there."

11. Okay, two sentences, but dialogue: "He took everyone's money; then he gave it all to the dealer and walked away. He was just nuts!"

Even better if you know that the speaker has already said about this man, "He was rich, and he was nuts."

10. Dialogue: "She took a long sip of her drink, and at least a minute passed before she spoke again."

Okay, seriously, start a conversation with someone. Now stop and look down at your watch for a minute. Don't talk for a minute. Start it up again after that minute if the person hasn't like, run off and cooked an omelet while you were waiting or something.

9. "Charlie regarded the man next to him, whose hair was as white as his collar and whose eyes were unflinchingly direct."

Because preist's collars are white! Nice simile bro. B-)

8. Dialogue: "Yesterday's lecture was about developments in the field of bathroom plungers, so, at about 2 o'clock, I decided to see if my luck was back--and it was."

When you realize that this sentence is an attempt at humor, at first it becomes less sad, and then it becomes even sadder.

7. Dialogue: "I didn't know what was going on with them, but I had four kings, and I didn't care."

Hell yeah, dude. Got four kings, fuck the man.

6. Dialogue: "I'm 32 years old, and in another year, I'll look 40."

The only way this would make sense is if her next sentence was, "A wizard cast a seven-year aging spell on me that would take action exactly when I turned 33." Note: the next sentence is not that.

5. "When the announcements finished, the priest said, 'I'm Padre...Father Barranca.'"

Yep, in the middle of an English sentence, he accidentally said a single Spanish word, then corrected himself back to English.

4. "His next words were cut off by the preflight announcement that continued as the plane was pushed back from the terminal and pointed towards the runways."

Way funnier if you read this story, as this information has absolutely no bearing on anything.

3. Flight 137 turned into position at the head of the runway, accelerated, and, a few minutes later, banked away from the sun.

Yeah, again.

2. Dialogue: "Two men slipped through the crowd to Blue Suit, who felt their presence."

Like in Star Wars.

1. Okay, several sentences, but dialogue: "There's something that happens if you start cashing in people's trust--it starts to rot you out. It's time for me to quit and start over because you know what the worst thing is about cheating people? You don't ever trust anyone. I miss that. I miss that the most."


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Top 12 Nights I Will Have in 2009

I, too, have gone home for break, but that doesn't mean that I'm taking it easy, list-wise. I would have followed up Rob's list with the Top 11 Reasons I'm Glad To Be Home in Buffalo, but it would have been shockingly similar. I like the cold, my family are nice, Happy Holidays is lame etc. (Also, substitute "Record Theater" for "The Electric Fetus" and "a light rail that only goes in one straight line" for "the Skyway", and you've got the independent record store and novelty form of transportation aspects down.)

All that being said, I am not glad to be driving on the roads of Buffalo right now, because it is like the least fun game of hey-my-car-no-longer-responds-to-steering ever. Also, that is not a real game. I made it up just now. It is NOWHERE near as good as the games Laksh made up/reinstated at a party last weekend. The Nose Game will catch on. It has to.

Anyway. So. This list. Some of my friends and I like to name our nights. What does that mean? It means that when we have a particularly amazing night, we give it a name, for posterity's sake. What are some examples? Well, there was The Night of the Second Wind, The Attack on Manhattan, and--my personal favorite--The Night of the Redeem Team. (During that one, Frank and I swam the Central Park Reservoir.) It got me thinking... what nights will I have in 2009?!!?!

12. The Night of the G-Train
On this night, we will vow, at some point, to ride the G-Train from end to end. Yep, from Forest Hills in Queens to Smith and 9th St in Brooklyn. This will be a terrible idea, made even more terrible by an impromptu decision to pose as an a capella trio. During The Night of the G-Train, it is exceedingly likely that someone will be stabbed. I am in no way looking forward to the night, but I am just going to have to accept its certainty.

11. The Night of Arbor Day
This night will take place on Arbor Day and will be pretty low-key, but in distinctly memorable ways. Pat will plant a tree, then Frank will cut it down, claiming that it was "a shitty tree". After that, we'll watch Little Shop of Horrors. Like I said, pretty low-key.

10. The Night of Ann Arbor Day
This night will involve taking a road trip to Ann Arbor, Michigan. We will pass through Buffalo, realize that it makes way more sense to just stay in Buffalo, and proceed to crash a million high school parties. (Please please please!)

9. The Night of a Dozen Tacos
On this night, someone will eat a dozen tacos. The sad thing is, it won't be on a dare. It will be out of boredom. Then, someone will get a phone call saying there's this AMAZING party downtown that we HAVE to go to. We'll go, of course, but the person who ate the dozen tacos will be extremely reluctant. At the party, they will excuse themselves to use the facilities every ten minutes--meanwhile, the rest of us will have a built-in conversation starter: "Hey, my friend ate a dozen tacos tonight. I'm so much less ridiculous that that. But enough about me, what's your whole thing?"

8. The Night of Giving Meth a Shot
On this night, Rob and I will try methamphetamine for the first time. We will write 145 lists over the course of three and a half hours. A little over half of those lists will be dedicated to either The Replacements or why I excluded Merkin Muffley from this list.

7. The Night of Herbert Hoover
On this night, I will offer a five dollar bounty for every time someone casually and artfully steers a conversation with a stranger to the topic of Herbert Hoover. Simple throwaway jokes don't count--you have to get the other person's honest opinion of the guy, even if it's just, "Um, shanty-towns are bad?" I will owe Pat $145 after this night. I will owe Frank cab-fare. I will owe Rami an explanation about the phonecalls I make this night.

6. The Night of the Long-Knives
Um, never forget? But seriously, like... never forget.

5. The Night of Bradley Whitford
On this night, we will meet Bradley Whitford. He will be everything we've dreamt and more. He will give us cigars and let us smell his own personal scent and he will shake our hands as men do. Then, he will make strange, off-hand references to "a meeting by the river with Big Snake" and he will disappear into the night... The Night of Bradley Whitford!!!

4. The Night of More Than a Feeling
On this night, I will say something like, "I have a good feeling about tonight... but it's, it's more than a feeling." From thence, legend will be born. All I can say now is that the next day, Rami will be known at Planet Rose as "that More than a Feeling" guy, as will Frank--albeit at The Gansevoort, The Natural History Museum, and later, City Hall.

3. The Night of a Thousand Stars
On this night, Tom, Caitlin, Laksh and I will go to "The Night of a Thousand Stars". By way of several wacky mix-ups, we will end up on stage, doing an improvised song-and-dance to the tune of "Do You Know the Way to San Jose?" (It will most likely be titled "Do You Know the Way to Tell He's Gay?") We will win so many award for this, if there are, in fact, awards to be won.

2. The Night of Zeno's Arrow
Frank has informed me that this is to be the Year of Occam's Razor. Well, to combat that, I give you the Night of Zeno's Arrow. (Quick recap, the gist is this: Imagine an arrow. For it to be moving, it must move to where it is, or where it is not. In any one instant, it cannot do either of these things, however, therefore, in a single instant, no motion is occuring. Therefore, it cannot move in any instant, so all motion is impossible.) On this night, we will keep changing our plans on where to go. We will stop-and-start many times, deciding to go to a) a bar uptown, b) a bar cross town, c) a bar downtown, d) a party a few blocks away, e) a bar that has free hot dogs, f) a club where there is ice or something on the walls, g) a bar where all the drinks a blue, h) Queens, and i) a different bar uptown. Few, if any, of these destinations will be reached, but a good time will reluctantly be had by all.

1. The Night of the Bowler
On this night, Pat shows up wearing a bowler. All hell breaks loose. End of story/days.

Top 11 Reasons I'm Glad to be Back in Minnesota

New York City is nice, but it's great to be back in Minnesota.  Here's why:

11. The view from my apartment is awesome

The falls/dam is half-frozen, including some actually apparently frozen mid-fall waterfalls (note: I don't think they were actually frozen mid-fall because I don't think it works that way).  It's really beautiful, and we have the soft blue glow of the new 35-W bridge all behind it.  (The following picture is not actually mine and is also not from this deep into the winter.)

10. I love the cold

It might be hard for people not from here to understand, but coming home to below-zero weather is strangely comforting.  Today, it was mostly above twenty after being sub-zero for a few days.  A little too warm, probably, but still good.

9. "The people here are nice" anecdote #1

I was walking in the skyway and some guys were closing up a restaurant, and a passerby just shouted, "Merry Christmas!" at them.  Which is both really nice, and reminds me...

8. You don't have to bother with that "Happy Holidays" trash

It's not the holidays this week in Minnesota.  It's Christmas on Thursday.  Hell yeah.

7. I've been having some really good bowel movements here

It's probably because I'm eating better.  If you are grossed out by this, it's your problem, not mine.  I'm happy with my body, thanks.  You are the weirdo.

6. "The people here are nice" anecdote #2

I was standing outside looking at a big map of downtown Minneapolis on a pillar when some older woman walked past and asked, "Are you lost?"  I told her that nope, I was fine, but I have no doubt that she would've helped me if I was.  As opposed to New York, where you ask others to help you when you're lost, and they usually don't, even. 

5. Oh yeah, there are big maps of downtown Minneapolis on pillars


4. Rachel, you're going to love it here

Rachel, you're going to love it here.

I'm sure there are plenty of sweet hip record stores that I haven't discovered yet in New York, but the fact that Minneapolis basically has exactly one makes it all the more awesome.  Everything on record or disc you can find here.  I went there disappointed that Barnes and Noble didn't have a CD I wanted to get my dad for Christmas (Billy Bragg & Wilco's Mermaid Avenue, Vol. II, hope you don't read this, Dad), which of course the Fetus had.  But even better, it had a Scharpling and Wurster CD (which are pretty hard to find not-online) in the used comedy section, which I bought for $2.  I almost also bought Dov Davidoff's stand-up album becuase I've read good things, but I restrained myself from spending too much, as one always must at the Electric Fetus

2. Seeing friends and family

Mom picked me up, I just said hi to Dad, my sister is coming home tomorrow, I'm gonna hang out with my friend Brett tonight!  Awww!  This one is cute!

As well as being wonderful and useful--I spent about half my afternoon in it--the skyway is a great symbol of what getting somewhere in Minneapolis means versus what getting somewhere in other places means.  Yeah, you'll have to walk, and it'll take longer, but it's nice and warm inside, and everything is decorated with Christmas stuff, and there are other people that you're not just trying to jostle past like in the New York subway.  Paul Westerberg got it right:

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Top 10 Essential Stand-up Comedy Albums that Everyone Should Own

I listen to a lot of stand-up comedy. In compiling this list of the best albums, I tried to ensure my choices were not only very funny, but had, over some amount of time, ensconced themselves in my mind as unique and important pieces of comedy. The latter requirement excluded some of my recent favorites--albums by Todd Barry, Paul F. Tompkins, and Patton Oswalt--that haven't gestated enough since their release to really have a place here. And the former requirement, that the albums had to be really funny, excluded lots of "important" comics like Lenny Bruce, Steve Martin, and Woody Allen. Sorry to be a dick or whatever, but no single album by any of those guys holds up like these do:

Bill Cosby nowadays is associated with a lot of things--the TV show, of course, and ugly sweaters, and Jell-O, as well as a certain type of black conservatism. But Funny Fellow was recorded before all of that, and it stands on its own as, very simply, a great piece of comedy writing and performing. Bill Cosby is certainly not a social commentator or satirist here--he's not eviscerating religion with his bits on Noah, he's just finding a funny, human angle to take on the Biblical story, and executing it flawlessly. Cosby, really, is all about humanity, and especially being a kid. Coaches give pep talks to kids, cows talk to each other like kids (dialogue that could easily have been written today by Simon Rich), and even Noah has a sort of youthful flippance in his repeated "Right!"

Seinfeld, by contrast, though he's no satirist either, is all about evisceration. There is some popular alt-comedy conception now of "observational comedy" as being hacky, and I couldn't disagree more. The Seinfeld examinations of what we all do every day, and why it's stupid, are really, as cliché as it is to say, funny because they're true. Seinfeld is quotidian comedy, and it's fucking excellent. Those who have seen every episode of the sitcom (and who hasn't?) already know most of these routines, and may miss some of the best that didn't make it on--the edgiest Seinfeld bit, about suicide and featured in The Suicide, is sadly missing. But most everything on here is gold, Jerry, pure gold:

Carlin, of course, unlike Cosby or Seinfeld, does have that cultural caveat of being remembered as a genuine social critic. And he is--but really, he's good because he knows how to shape that criticism into jokes. As Carlin got older, sometimes he'd forget about that, and playing to an audience that already loved him, shout preachy shit just to get easy laughs. The earlier Carlin has all the same anger but works harder to channel it into jokes. He rips into stupid annoying radio DJs way before David Cross did it, and Carlin's funnier. And if you ask me, the dissection of the word "shit" on FM & AM is funnier than any part of Class Clown's famous "Seven Words."

Izzard is a little out-of-place on this list, as his free-form, semi-improvised, hyper-educated comedy would be when compared to almost any other stand-up. He plays with past stories the way Cosby does in his Noah bit--in fact, Izzard has a Noah bit himself--but Izzard is a lot freer, more unpredictable, and more whimsical than Cosby ever gets. Izzard packs a lot of different types of comedy into Glorious, and as a result, it isn't quite as focused as his second-best recording, Dress to Kill. But it's got more memorable jokes per minute than just about any album ever recorded--and you never know when a bit on the Trojan War will unexpectedly become a bit of home-appliance-related observational comedy:

Tom Leher seems even more out-of-place than Izzard here, and maybe I should have excluded him for being too far in the "musical comedy" vein and away from traditional stand-up. But Lehrer really is very traditional in the setup-punchline mold, he just manages to hide that formula so perfectly in his lyrics that it doesn't stick out at all. In addition, That Was the Year that Was manages to be darker, more cynical, and more politically aggressive than anything on here so far while being older than Carlin by seven years! Such is the advantage of putting your message in a more innocent-sounding medium.

5. Dylan Moran - Monster (2002)

Dylan Moran's Monster is the most recent release I have on here, but I feel confident putting it on, and I even feel confident that its stature will increase with more time, at least for me. Why? Simply put, Monster makes me laugh harder than any other stand-up album I own. The influences are a hazy--you can hear some Izzard, some Carlin and Hicks, maybe--but the voice seems completely Moran's. He's world-weary even though he's not old, angry at things that deserve anger, and surreal, but never in a way that seems calculated, just real in Moran's head. He's probably the least-known comic on this list, and he needs more attention.

Bob Newhart's comedy is fascinating to me because of how utterly not-dated it feels. The one-side-of-a-conversation idea is something that millions of others since have done, and it's a great technique. Newhart essentially leaves the audience to fill in the other side of the conversation and thus the punchline. Perhaps the only things that feel old are how clean Newhart is and how long he spends on each bit (a long time), but both of those are barely noticeable when you're laughing. This was essentially the stand-up comedy album that made stand-up comedy albums a bankable concept--it hit number one on the charts and won the Best Album Grammy. Both in influence and in general financial support of comedy albums, everyone else on this list owes a lot to Newhart.

Comedy nerds who criticize this list may note the absence of Mitch Hedberg, and also, perhaps, if you're a big fan of this type of stand-up, Zach Galifianakis or Demitri Martin. But Wright and I Have a Pony came before and were better than anything ever released by those comics. Wright seemed to rediscover the idea of word economy for stand-up in the 1980s--who else had ever written an original setup and punchline as tight as, "I bought some used paint--it was in the shape of a house"? It's surreal, cerebral, and reliant on wordplay without being stupid and pun-riddled. It changed stand-up forever, and it's still one of the best albums ever recorded.

As Wright the representative best of the absurd one-liner comics, Bill Hicks is, for me, representative of the heights to which political comics (like David Cross and Lewis Black) aspire. Hicks doesn't just make jokes about serious topics, he tears them apart, leaving anyone he's mocking looking genuinely stupid about genuinely important things. He's easily the most vulgar comic on this list, and also easily one of the funniest. People make a lot of noise about how Hicks told the truth--personally, I don't agree with him on every point politically, and I think he's something of an unfounded conspiracy theorist, but good Lord, is he funny. The anger is real and the comedy is intelligently put-together. I personally prefer Arizona Bay to Rant in E-Minor, which to my mind has more anger but less intelligence. But I do love them both.

1. Richard Pryor - Bicentennial Nigger (1976)

Seinfeld once called Richard Pryor "the Picasso of our profession," which I've usually thought is a bit strange. Pryor is a comic whose comedy goes just about everywhere and can get almost anyone to laugh if you find the right bit, somewhat unlike the self-conscious strangeness for which Picasso is known best. On one hand, I think that maybe "the da Vinci of our profession"or "the Michaelangelo of our profession" would have been better. But on the other hand, Pryor was an aggressive experimenter--none of his albums are quite alike, and in each one there are steps towards new types of comedy and new, unattacked frontiers. Maybe Pryor's bits on race and forays into meta-comedy seemed just as wilfully odd as Picasso's cubism at their respective times. In any case, almost any angle that any comic since him has taken, Pryor did it first, and often did it better. It's can be tough to choose the best Pryor album, but the presence of "Our Gang" on Bicentennial Nigger made it relatively easy for me. The two-minute dissection of a poorly-told joke may be the funniest stand-up bit ever recorded. I can't find it on YouTube, so instead I'll put here one of the darkest bits on race-relations, also on the same album.

And, for good measure, maybe the funniest drug story ever recorded, also on the same album.

Yep, Pryor is God.

Top 13 Artists To Win an Academy Award, a Tony, an Emmy, and a Grammy--And Whether or Not I Could Take Them In a Fight

13. Jonathan Tunick (1938- )

Jonathan Tunick received his fourth distinct award in 1997:

Academy Award - 1977 : Best Music, Original Song Score and Its Adaptation or Best Adaptation Score - A Little Night Music, Emmy Award - 1982 : Outstanding Achievement in Music Direction - Night of 100 Stars, Grammy Award - 1988 : Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocals - "No One Is Alone", Cleo Laine, Tony Award - 1997 : Best Orchestrations - Titanic

COULD I TAKE HIM?: Yes. Like, so easily. Right, left, right... done.

12. Helen Hayes (1900-1993)

Helen Hayes received her fourth distinct award in 1976:

Academy Award - 1932 : Best Actress in a Leading Role - The Sin of Madelon Claudet, Emmy Award - 1953 : Best Actress - Not A Chance (Schlitz Playhouse), Grammy Award - 1976 : Best Spoken Word Recording - Great American Documents, Tony Award - 1947 : Best Actress, Dramatic - Happy Birthday

COULD I TAKE HER?: I feel like I shouldn't? I mean, she won an award for something called "Happy Birthday"--punching her would be like punching the Easter Bunny. Sure, you'd get some free candy, but you'd hate yourself for it afterwards.

11. Andrew Lloyd Webber (1948- )

Academy Award - 1996 : Best Music, Original Song - "You Must Love Me" from Evita, International Emmy Award - 2001 : Performing Arts - Jesus Christ Superstar, Grammy Award - 1980 : Best Cast Show Album - Evita, Tony Award - 1980 : Best Original Score - Evita

COULD I TAKE HIM?: With absolute pleasure. I'd sell tickets and Tim Rice would be sitting front row.

10. Marvin Hamlisch (1944- )

Marvin Hamlisch received his fourth distinct award in 1995:

Academy Award - 1973: Best Music, Original Dramatic Score - The Way We Were, Emmy Award - 1995 : Outstanding Individual Achievement in Music Direction - Barbra Streisand: The Concert, Grammy Award - 1974: Song Of The Year - The Way We Were, Tony Award - 1976 : Best Musical Score - A Chorus Line

COULD I TAKE HIM?: I feel like Marv has a pretty decent reach on him. That said, I feel like he only wins with Babs on his side. One on one, this is a pretty intense brawl, but I still come out on top.

9. John Gielgud (1904-2000)

John Gielgud received his fourth distinct award in 1991:

Academy Award - 1981 : Best Actor in a Supporting Role - Arthur, Emmy Award - 1991 : Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Special - Summer's Lease, Grammy Award - 1979 : Best Spoken Word Documentary or Drama - Ages of Man, Tony Award - 1961 : Best Director of a Drama - Big Fish, Little Fish

COULD I TAKE HIM?: I would respectfully decline, treat him to tea, and then bash him in the face with the kettle. Eat it, Brits!

8. Audrey Hepburn (1929-1993)

Audrey Hepburn received her fourth distinct award in 1994:

Academy Award - 1953 : Best Actress in a Leading Role - Roman Holiday, Emmy Award - 1993 : Outstanding Individual Achievement, Informational Programming - Gardens of the World with Audrey Hepburn, Grammy Award - 1994 : Best Spoken Word Album for Children - Audrey Hepburn's Enchanted Tales, Tony Award - 1954 : Best Actress in a Drama - Ondine

COULD I TAKE HER?: To dinner, yes. In a fight... oh jeez, that would be breaking, like, thirty rules. Still though, I bet A-Hep's a scrapper (nails, heels, skinny cigarettes, etc.). One arm tied behind my back would make it a fair fight--which I would win.

7. Rita Moreno (1931- )

Rita Moreno received her fourth distinct award in 1977:

Academy Award - 1961 : Best Actress in a Supporting Role - West Side Story, Emmy Award - 1977 : Outstanding Continuing or Single Performance by a Supporting Actress in Variety or Music - The Muppet Show, Grammy Award - 1972 : Best Recording For Children - The Electric Company, Tony Award - 1975 : Best Featured or Supporting Actress in a Play - The Ritz

COULD I TAKE HER?: I actually don't think so. "A boy like that will kill your brother!" Except more like, a girl like this will kill your face.

6. Whoopi Goldberg (1955- )

Academy Award - 1990 : Best Supporting Actress, Ghost, Daytime Emmy Award - 2002 : Outstanding Special Class Special - Beyond Tara: The Extraordinary Life of Hattie McDaniel (Host), Grammy Award - 1985 : Best Comedy Recording - Whoopi Goldberg--Original Broadway Show Recording, Tony Award - 2002 : Best Musical - Thoroughly Modern Millie (Co-Producer)

COULD I TAKE HER?: One shot and down. It's Hollywood's least-kept secret--Whoopi has a glass jaw.

5. Liza Minnelli (1946- )

Academy Award - 1972 : Best Actress in a Leading Role - Cabaret, Emmy Award - 1973 : Outstanding Single Program - Variety and Popular Music - Singer Presents Liza with a 'Z', Grammy Award - 1990 : Special Grammy Award, Grammy Legend Awards.Tony Award - 1965 : Best Actress (Musical) - Flora the Red Menace

COULD I TAKE HER?: Um, obviously not. We all know about the David Gest spousal abuse charges. This is one train I don't want to step in front of.

4. Mel Brooks (1926- )

Mel Brooks received his fourth distinct award in June, 2001:

Academy Award - 1968 : Best Writing, Story and Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen - The Producers, Emmy Award - 1997 : Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series - Mad About You, Grammy Award - 1998 : Best Spoken Comedy Album - The 2000 Year Old Man In The Year 2000, Tony Award - 2001 : Best Book of a Musical - The Producers

COULD I TAKE HIM?: In actuality, yes. But I'm sure he’d sling some wicked barbs at me as he popped both hips back into place.

3. Mike Nichols (1931- )

Mike Nichols received his fourth distinct award in November, 2001:

Academy Award - 1967 : Best Director - The Graduate, Emmy Award - 2001 : Outstanding Directing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special - Wit, Grammy Award - 1961 : Best Comedy Performance - An Evening With Mike Nichols And Elaine May, Tony Award - 1964 : Best Director, Dramatic - Barefoot in the Park

COULD I TAKE HIM?: Mike Nichols has been asking for it for years. Therefore, I will give it to him. Anytime, anyplace, I will knock Mike Nichols on his ass. He can name the location, he can pick the weapons--I guarantee that I will F his S up. I will straight-up lay him down on the ground and make him wish he never even met Elaine May. Mike Nichols is a fucking dead man, end of story.

2. Barbra Streisand (1942- )

Academy Award - 1968 : Best Actress in a Leading Role - Funny Girl, Emmy Award - 1965 : Outstanding Individual Achievements in Entertainment - Actors and Performers - My Name is Barbra, Grammy Award - 1963 : Best Vocal Performance, Female - The Barbra Streisand Album, Tony Award - 1970 : Special Tony Award

COULD I TAKE HER?: Dear Lord, no.

1. Richard Rodgers (1902-1979)

Richard Rodgers received his fourth distinct award in 1962:

Academy Award - 1945 : Best Song - "It Might As Well Be Spring" from State Fair, Emmy Award - 1962 : Outstanding Achievement in Original Music Composed - Winston Churchill-The Valiant Years, Grammy Award - 1960 : Best Show Album (Original Cast) - The Sound of Music, Tony Award - 1950 : Best Musical - South Pacific

COULD I TAKE HIM?: Come on... I could never raise arms against a fellow Columbian. This is a draw, through and through. (Although Hammerstein better watch the frig out.)