Category Archives: the funny

enthusiasm

My apologies for the long absence, internet. Sketch writing is hard. REALLY HARD. Like, opening a document and staring at it for nine straight hours hard. Kind of like academic paper writing, come to think of it, but without the ability to quote from giant stretches of someone else’s text. A pity, that.

But here I am, with thoughts. And my chief concern is about tonality. I stress all the time about striking the right tone, especially when I get excited. And I don’t see any virtue in adapting some kind of jaded hipster attitude and pretending that I think everything is shit. I certainly don’t feel that way at all. I genuinely like a lot of stuff, and some of it I get downright Dug-enthusiastic over.

I was trying to hammer out some kind of piece on America– why, despite the Tea Party and vasectomy-reversal billboards, it’s kind of an amazing place. That contrary to what Fitzgerald said, there are second acts in American lives. I’m not a nationalist, nor am I a patriot, really, in the modern sense of the word. But I believe you can recognize that modern nation-states are ideological abstractions and still feel affection for them, as this Onion piece would have it.

But the tone. The tone is what’s tricky. So I shelved it.  Because I am not Sarah Vowell. I find sincerity quite hard to transmit without sounding twee, or over-intellectualized, or facetious. It’s why I also have difficulty striking the right balance when I like something.

Right now I am watching The Thick of It, an amazing show about political spin in modern UK politics. I am attaching a clip, but it is sweary beyond compare. So NSFW, unless you happen to work in a mine or a pirate ship.

I fucking love it. The swearing alone rivals The Sopranos. (And we know how I feel about epic baroque cursing. It is one of my greatest joys in life. This stuff could be Slavic in its morphology, I kid you not).  Granted, the camera work, which is done in that jolty docu-cam style, does make me a little sick to my stomach. But if you power through (and you should, you should, you should) you will be rewarded.

I like to think it rivals Mad Men in its nuance, especially with regard to the constructed nature of masculine worlds. It’s like that feminist revelation, that men have a gender, too. That it’s all just one great big pissing contest. And it’s funny. Ridiculous, awkward — bilious and bizarre simultaneously. It bristles with an amazing ensemble energy; it’s spectacularly cast. I cannot enthuse enough. I could write a whole post that consisted solely of CAPSLOCK SCREAM FLAIL OMG WTF !!!!. But I don’t want to sound like a maniacal tween girl chasing R. Pattz down the street any more than I want to sound like these guys.

So that’s that, then. I hope you are all well.

second city

Author’s note: I am full aware that I am not Nick Hornby. My record collection is far less impressive, for one thing. But what is the point of blogging if you can’t play with narrative conventions, right? So today you can have a list.

Have signed up for sketch comedy writing class at Chicago’s Second City. Class has met twice thus far. They made me do improv, which I have not done since…oh, 8th grade, I think? It’s weirdly fun, kind of zen, insofar as it takes you out of yourself and clamps a damper on your constant internal monologue (just me, with that? doubtful). You have to listen. Not like talking with other people, where you’re just sitting there anxious for it to be your turn again, but truly attentive and in the present moment.* Terrifying, but weirdly exhilarating. Also all about fostering ‘hivemind.’

So I did that, met a bunch of children. Sort of shocked at how many of them had moved to Chicago for the sole purpose of  taking classes there. It felt like the first day of school, I had to amp myself up with horrible tunes. And then had drinks with delightful and funny anthropologists in my OWN AGE BRACKET the next day. Good times.

  • Notebooks purchased for writing class (2, pink, slightly pretentious)
  • Iced teas consumed before class (4 )
  • Times Miley Cyrus’ Party in the USA was played as incentive to walk into classroom (3)**
  • Times Rough Riders rap (Biggie, Eve, L’il Kim et all) was played (10+)
  • Times I remembered Second City’s “no refunds” policy (more than once?)
  • Number of people in sketch comedy writing class (14)
  • Number of girls in SCWC (4)
  • Number of girls in SCWC who went to Harvard (1, not counting my own horrible stint at summer school)
  • Times debated asking this girl whether I could call her “Toofer” (2)
  • Number of guys in class who claim “not to read” (5)
  • Number of guys who clearly want to be the next Andy Samberg (3)
  • Number of guys who actually look like Andy Samburg (0, and a DAMN SHAME IT IS)
  • Drinks consumed with semi-adults (4)
  • Plates of french fries eaten (3)
  • Excellent puns made (1)
  • Excellent puns heard (6, including the fabulous Ms. B’s title for a Marxian porn– “Come Oddity Fetish”)
  • Cigarettes smoked (0, +10000 points of awesome!)
  • Stabbing pains in calves (well over two dozen)
  • Bottles of vitamins purchased (2)

http://widget.nbc.com/videos/nbcshort_at.swf?CXNID=1000004.10045NXC&widID=4727a250e66f9723&clipID=727504&showID=61&configXML=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.nbc.com%2Fservice%2Fvideowidget%2Fparams%2FdmlkZW9faWQ9NzI3NTA0%2F&initXML=http://www.nbc.com%2Fsaturday-night-live%2Fvideo%2Fepisodes%2Finit.xml?videoId=727504

Single best thing about this clip? Animal reaction shots.

*Russell T. Davies has a great quote, which I will paraphrase here. Namely, that when two people are talking, it’s very rarely a conversation. It’s two monologues happening simultaneously. Which, whoa. But, true?

**I know it’s been autotuned to all hell and that it’s atrocious, but if Rivers Cuomo says it’s okay, it’s okay. (From Details: “Miley Cyrus’ ‘Party in the USA” kills me with jealousy.’ The melodies are out-of-control beautiful.” )

DO NOT JUDGE ME, PEOPLE.

continued fun with excel

what i wish i'd known

http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=11414505&server=vimeo.com&show_title=1&show_byline=1&show_portrait=0&color=&fullscreen=1

This is just a delight to watch, like pretty much everything with the Stephen Fry brand embossed on it like a box of fancy delicious chocolates from a swank bougie store. Perhaps not the most apt metaphor, but you get my point.

My admiration for Mr. Fry knows no bounds: his humor in the face of ego-obliterating depression, the television he’s acted in, written, or made (QI, Black Adder, Fry& Laurie, Jeeves& Wooster, etc.) his books* — whether read in print format or listened to on audio while taking long walks along the lakefront and trying to come to grips with your own fucked up dishrag take on life– his podcasts, his lectures, his proud and unapologetic atheism, his evident glee in science and technology and human fucking progress, his facial tics, his charity work….

Watch this. It makes my heart sing. Even though I think he has gotten too skinny and I don’t fully understand why he’s sporting James May’s hair–

–still. Amazing. Wonderful. Genuinely happy-making.

*Moab is My Washpot, his early autobiography, is staggering in its scope, its humanity, and its sadness. But for class-A fiction that makes you ponder modern history, human cruelty, science, morality, nationalism, queerness, love, insecurity, and alternative teleologies, it doesn’t get much better than Making History It’s maybe not a lighthearted beach read, but it is a tremendous book.

http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=upbynoon-20&o=1&p=8&l=as1&asins=1569471509&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr

continued fun with excel

why we love heathers (found item)

A repost from my lovely friends over at Found Item Clothing. Be a pal. Buy a shirt!

Oh, the fucking humanity.

Jawbreaker. Mean Girls. The Sleepover. The Craft. Every bad girl subplot on Gossip Girl. None even come close to the dark surreality of Heathers, a movie that, to this day, no one will watch with me. Because at one point in my life — let’s say 1992 for convenience — I seriously watched this movie at least twice a week. It was in constant rotation for a while, along with Grease, Rock n’ Roll High School, and Barton Fink. Make of that what you will, and join me as I revisit a film that deserves a revival. (But, please, sweet baby Jesus, not a wretched remake.) Here then are 33 reasons why we love said film (arranged, conveniently enough, in the order they appear on screen, with one exception…).

1. SCRUNCHIES!!!! Nuff’ said.

2. Serious contouring blush. Look at Shannen Doherty in that opening croquet scene.

3. Why did “you’re beautiful” as an insult never catch on? It’s sort of spectacular (at 3:25).

4. Winona Ryder can’t act for shit, but her eye rolling is pretty epic. See clip above. Or this montage below, which demonstrates that she carries this proclivity with, from role to role.

5. This great slogan tee, which is glimpsed oh so fleetingly. Feeling inadequate? (Click to enlarge)

Sighted at :13 in.

6. Remington University (calling to mind Reynholm Industries of the IT Crowd, and also sounding like an off-brand razor blade).

7. “Greetings and salutations” as an introduction in Christian Slater’s mouth turns that whole E.B. White Charlotte’s Web thing into something wonderfully filthy. Yeowch.

8. “Keggers with kids”– if that hasn’t been a band name yet, it needs to be now (editor’s note: agreed, wholeheartedly!).

Skip forward to 5:55.

9. Cornnuts. Remember the ranch ones? Amazing. And yet terrifying.

10. “You were a bluebird. You were a brownie. You were a Girl Scout cookie.” Burn, baby, burn.

Watch it at 3:48.

11. The bizarre twangy music that plays whenever CS goes into ‘bad boy mode.’

Editor’s note: not to be confused with:

12. Oh, a teachers’ meeting where everyone is smoking? Awesome. (Skip ahead to the 6:35 marker.)

13. Swatches. Like that would help you accessorize for shit? Right.

14. Dougherty is just reveling in getting to play the head bitch. I mean, she is downright gleeful.

15. The MTV-Video-Games. And that righteous dude in heaven.

16. Cow tipping. I’m entirely sure that this is what teenagers in bumfuck Ohio do, even now.

17. “Sorry, I’m just feeling a little superior tonight.”

18. Mineral water = being gay. At least in 1991, it seems.

19. Who has a three way at dawn in the woods? Can’t you at least rent a motel room or something?

20. Okay, I kind of only now realized that WR wears a monocle when she writes in her diary. Where do you even get a monocle in central Ohio in 1991, in the days before the interwebs and Amazon? And what kind of an asshole do you have to be to wear it?

21. Actually, maybe Madonna’s Express Yourself video inspired that monocle. That would make sense.

22. Very true-to-life representation of Midwesterners’ addiction to 64-ounce beverages. So, so true.

23. “Adults? You want to be treated like adults, little miss voice-of-a-generation? Just how exactly do you think adults act with other adults? Do you think it’s all just a game of doubles tennis? When teenagers complain that they want to be treated like they’re human beings, it’s usually because they are being treated like human beings.” (Veronica’s mom, voice of reason, yo.)

Editor’s note: found at the 6:00 minute mark, yo.

24. Hot Probs. I would so listen to that shit. (7:45)

25. Good lord, how big is Westerberg High? Getting those signatures must have taken ages. (Fun fact: so-named for Paul Westerberg, legendary troubadour for the equally legendary 80’s punk-rock icons, The Replacements. Also: absolutely LOVE that the school’s mascot are… Rottweilers? How unconventional, and befitting of a world class fad.)

26. “I’ve already started underlining meaningful passages in her copy of Moby Dick, if you know what I mean.” (Slater’s delivery at 4:31 just fucking slays me.)

27. Es. ki. mo.

28. Noose too loose. Wasn’t that a rejected Dr. Seuss spin-off series?

29. No one ever enjoyed a pep rally that much and that sincerely. This is severely lacking in verisimilitude. I take back every good thing I have ever said about this movie.

30. Whoa, what’s with that totally out-of-character move to a belief in heaven? No.

31. Reading comments on YouTube is almost always a bad idea. But this whole generation who hasn’t seen Heathers astounds me. This movie was such an integral (read: intensely formative) part of my early teen years that I can’t imagine not having mental access to it. Poor kids. No one got blown up in Mean Girls.

32. Slater’s death is pretty vile, but ultimately worth it for the gorgeous pull-back shot of Veronica all charred like a piece of kindling and smoking on the concrete gym steps. HAWT!

33. And last, but not least, the BIG FUN tee shirt, which we added to the Found Item catalog just last week!

On screen at 4:26.

Whew. That was a mouthful…

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not a real coversation

Obviously.

[OBAMA]: Hey, there, Dave?

[CAMERON]: Yes, Barry?

[OBAMA]: Well, remember how we talked on the phone last night?

[CAMERON]: What, about the problems of running a coalition government?

[OBAMA]: No, no, not that.

[CAMERON]: About how Michelle is really into this White House garden and won’t let you have any more chicken wings, because you can’t grow blue cheese dressing in a 10×40 plot?

[OBAMA]: Um. Yeah, that is pretty much a bummer. But no, not that. The [ahem] other thing?

[CAMERON]: Oooooohhhh. You mean being the subject of a lot of marginally creepy real person slash fiction? Even though, let’s be honest with ourselves here, I kind of look like Robert Patrick but made out of Silly Putty? Though Nick Clegg is kind of dreamy…

[OBAMA]: Whoa, buddy, hold up there!

[CAMERON]: This isn’t a problem for you?

[OBAMA]: Um. Erm. Uh, no?

[CAMERON]: No Bobama? Obiden?

[OBAMA]: What?

[CAMERON]: Sorry. Beg pardon. You were saying?

[OBAMA]: When I said, “Why don’t we both wear black suits, white shirts, and royal blue ties?”

[CAMERON]: Great idea, Barry. We do look smashing.

[OBAMA]: Sure, sure. But…Dave? I didn’t actually mean it.

[CAMERON]: Wait, you didn’t want us to match?

[OBAMA]: Well, no. We decided, if you recall, that I would wear the blue and you the red. Now we kind look like preteen girls who also wear BFF necklaces.

[CAMERON]: Indeed. Well this is rather embarrassing.

[OBAMA]: Yeah, a bit.

[CAMERON]: Shall I put my jacket back on?

[OBAMA]: You do that. And have an aide bring you that red tie, okay?

[CAMERON]: Right. Shall I have them bring us some wings, as well?

[OBAMA]: Done.