Wednesday, August 31, 2011

On External Memory

I promise if you understood this show's premise, this image
wouldn't seem incredibly out of context.
(Still totally sexist, though.)
I used to just think I had a shitty memory and was really inconsiderate of other people. I'd forget names, faces, places, events, ideas … really it was the last one that bothered me the most because somehow I'd remember that there was some thought missing, but not the knowledge of what that thought's nature was.

For days I'd be saddled with that disquieting feeling, knowing that something was missing but no idea as to what, until finally I'd remember the original thought but continue to sense as though I hadn't. It was awful.

Then I got an iPhone and realized I could record and send any idea I needed to a any given moment and forward it to myself in eight different ways. Oh, and phone numbers? Birthdays? Addresses, cardinal directions, freaking maps, suddenly my brain made sense.

I was remembering thought directories.

All my brain processes were tied up in where it was storing information for quick-recall, I just didn't devote enough hard drive space to storing those tidbits. With an external device to store those things for me whenever I need them, I learned I was actually a caring and considerate human being. Go figure.

Of course I can't carry my phone with me on the floor at work anymore, so I'm back to losing about three different blog ideas each day, but today I managed to make it to a Post-It note before I forgot a possibly revolutionary way of thinking about sociological behavior by expanding the autism spectrum to include normative, hyper-emotional and sociopathic behavior matched to the colors of the rainbow.

Oh, and I think I met the woman on whom Adam Sandler based his "Eleanor" voice in Eight Crazy Nights.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Ninjaism as a Hereditary Affliction

I've got a really bad habit of sneaking up on people and I'm thoroughly convinced it's not my fault.

I do all I can: I wear heavy, clompy boots, I try to make heavy footfalls, I frequently jingle keys or interact with the environment such that people will know I've approaching from a great distance though it be from possibly behind them, I frequently even shout things like, "Hey! How's it going?" or, "[NAME]! What's up?"

Nothing. "Oh! You scared me!" What the hell, man? Is there any thing that a man could do to announce his presence beyond this? I make noise. Hell, given the opportunity, I'd begin emitting pheromones at an increased pace just to give some olfactory forewarning. Nothing.

I know I don't weigh a lot. I don't vibrate the earth beneath my feet as I stroll by, but for god's sake, I do what I can at least.

So there's really only one viable conclusion, then:

I am part ninja.

Now, that could come either from my father's side or my mother's–a Jewish ninja is just as unlikely as an Italian-Irish one–however I'm leaning towards my mother.

Point 1: My mother is the least likely candidate to ever be a ninja, by any test of merit. She is clumsy, easily and frequently injured, incredibly unsubtle, and has all the grace and athleticism of the Brooklynite cab drive by which a ballerina arrives at her performance.

By this logic, it is the perfect cover. Obviously my mother is a retired ninja and all of this is one tremendous display of incompetence to through off assassins and trackers from an old rival school. One day we will be attacked and she will begin the training I should have had from an early age, possibly one I have been taught through surreptitious use of odd household chores and childhood rhymes.

Point 2: My father would be a tremendous ass about it if he were actually a ninja.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Nim Chimpsky and the Awkward Giggling

I came across this book at work the other day, amusingly enough fairly soon after shelving a Nome Chomsky book. Whenever I thought the monicker to myself, I was greatly pleased, possibly in small part to an old meme where celebrities are photoshopped to have extremely tiny facial features and are then captioned with their names as if pronounced through a tiny, tiny mouth. "Nim Chimpsky," indeed.

Seriously, though, how does a book like this come about?

"Oh, you know, one day some buddies and I were just banging away on a couple of typewriters and this fell out."

Yeah, I'll buy that.

Woll Smoth, for reference.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Come On, Irene

Thanks to a Photoshop crash and having to restart my Mac (shows you how seriously I fucked with PS), this took a little longer than expected, but allowed me to actually get it done way faster the second time, thanks to having abetter game plan. I'm actually surprisingly happy with this.

Note: After Dexy's became a one-hit wonder, Irene went on to inspire Flock Of Seagulls to try a new haircut for which they became famous.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Tally-Ho! | Natalie Nourigat Of 'Between Gears' Talks Digital Comics

When I sat down to start submitting my manuscript to agents, I found one of my lead chapters relied kind of heavily on what public figures have said on the internet. I kind of … don't feel so great about that. I mean, it's here's the internet.

Flat Earth theorists have the right idea.

Now, as far as the internet is concerned, I, Dave Zucker, a man of prolific brilliance and staggering wit, have espoused the belief that we live on a plate of matter suspended in the ether by the steady hand of divine providence and little else. Depending on interpretation, it may ride on the back of several elephants and/or a tortoise, or it could just be turtles all the way down.

To remedy my situation, I have decided to track down every artist whose opinion my original college essay regarding digital comics (webcomics) cited, and interview them to get the words knowingly and even more elaborately from their own mouths (keyboards).

I worked at a pretty professional college paper. We won awards. We were frequently praised for achieving this while outright refusing any "adult" oversight. We were damn good at what we did and we made sure we succeeded on our own. Wonderful!

Of course, I was the Fun Page Editor, so I never, per se, interviewed anyone before, but I lived with a reporter. I read interviews. And I get the feeling this will pretty much be the only time when drawing and publishing so many comics probably help my journalistic tendencies, so here goes!


I honestly do not remember how I came across Natalie "Tally" Nourigat's work and I'm a little ashamed of this. I have memories of reading her comic blogs in college, but it's honestly not possible; she didn't start her big internet comic until I had already graduated. So what was I reading in the newspaper office all night when I should have been working?

From best I can tell, I found her story already started at Between Gears right when I was looking to get my own life moving forward. The original idea was simple:
Between Gears is an autobiographical comic that covers my senior year of college (September 2009 - June 2010), with one comic page for each day.

Hand-drawn panels and lots of gentle curves.
Very few straight, even-thickness lines.
So, I'm old. But it was a fascinating read, and right up my ally at the time, as a daily-writer. Every day, Natalie wrote down notes and maybe sketches which, sometimes months later, she would come back to to draw, getting to relive the most important and sometimes the most seemingly inconsequential moments of her life and commit them to paper.

Some days' pages are filled with friends, delicious food, love, family, warm and snuggly cats, even singing along to iPods off-key. Other days can be a pit of wallowing in fear and pain and outright despair at the prospect of growing to trying to be what you really want to be. Tally doesn't spare these. They were just as much a part of her life as the happy memories, and both forged her into who she is as a person and an artist.

The tree acts as both background and frame.
I got to see Natalie work on her senior project, Over the Surface, about a young high school girl in an ambiguously European, mid-century town who is obsessed with fighter planes and just generally being a strong female lead right at the cusp of starring in her life's big, incredibly awesome plot line.

Her lines are fluid and expressive. Shading is gorgeous, and her sense of layout and composition makes it a little hard to believe she hasn't been slaving at a major art house for years already.

Actually, she only just joined Periscope Studio after interning there, but already has two graphic novel projects, a children's book, and–oh, yeah–Image Comics is collecting BG for publication in 2012.

Not bad for a year's work.


When I first emailed Natalie, she got back to me in just a couple of days. I had actually been looking into what she was doing professionally for a few days, determining if she would be a good person to add to my original interview list (she was beyond that), so I was shocked when she got back to me in just a couple days.
She was gracious, curious about my project, but immediately on board with any project that took an academic look at comics as an evolving art form. I fired off my questions attached to a resounding thank you that night, also explaining the nature of my work, a discussion of digital-media comics as the evolution of the art form.

"I'm really excited whenever I hear about comics being regarded in an academic light," she says. I toss out that I may have gotten my writing degree by taking five different classes about comic books. We switch to social media to start off the formal question-and-answer period.

Me: Do you use Twitter at all to communicate with readers, or is it just for friends? ("I'm a Twitter Luddite," is also a perfectly acceptable answer.) Do you think it helps your art and business to be able to communicate with readers so closely?

Tally: I use Twitter quite a bit, and I use it to interact with readers about as often as friends. Updating once or twice a day to say that I am working on a certain project or to post a sneak peak at art from upcoming projects reminds people that I am alive and I think it helps to build interest in my work. In the 140-character format, it is extremely easy to be accessible and responsive to a large group of people. There is a fine line you have to walk, though, when your online presence is connected to you as a professional. Ideally, you are friendly and relatable, but not so crude, casual, or personal that you turn off possible employers who might happen across your feed without context.

M: What are your thoughts on webcomics that offer free updates but rely on or at least supplement those with "premium content" for paying subscribers?

T: I drew a comic for Wirepop in college that offered the first four chapters for free but only provided the subsequent pages and updates to monthly subscribers. I don’t believe the pay-off from that kind of model outweighs the costs. Some readers got hooked and were angry when they realized they’d become invested in something that was ultimately going to require a subscription to read. Very few people sprung for the subscription, and then they felt cheated if updates weren’t regular. I think that readers are much warmer to the idea of the comic being free, but extras like wallpapers, screensavers, or early updates being reserved for people who donate money to the comic or are part of a subscription program.

M: In addition to other artists' collections and books, do you personally buy single-issues or trade comics from any of the 'mainstream' publishing houses?

T: I buy about five trades per month, and usually only one of these is from Marvel or DC. I have tried buying single-issues, and given stories up to a year to hook me, but I don’t think that format is the one for me.

You've posted some fanart from time to time; how would you feel about drawing a well-established character for DC or Marvel, say? Perhaps Studio Ghibli?

T: I have the most fun doing fan art when I understand the character and his or her story and world well. I would feel the same way about taking over a well-established and well-loved character’s story; only comfortable if I knew the property by heart. I would LOVE to work on a Studio Ghibli property; I watch their films, study their behind-the-scenes segments and interviews, buy their artbooks, and read the comic adaptations of their films. There are some DC and Marvel characters I feel a connection to, especially in the Avengers and the Batverse, but the continuity in most mainstream comics is intimidating. I wouldn’t be comfortable taking over unless I really understood the history of what I would be working on.

M: Do you have any thoughts about these companies selling digital copies of their monthly titles? Price-points are on-par with single issues, each uses proprietary file formats, subscription fees, that sort of thing?

T: I don’t have much to say about this. I don’t buy comics digitally, and I don’t care to. I think that comics look best on paper, they are fun to flip through, and I like displaying them around my apartment, leaving them on the Periscope lunch table for others’ perusals, and lending them to friends.

The numbers that I have heard in terms of digital comic sales are laughably low for the amount of debate they have kicked up. That said, I do believe they will grow into a more significant percentage of overall comic sales, and are not something to be ignored. They could put comic shops at risk, they could bring in new readers, they could boost sales in the comic market, they could allow for new features in comics, like movement and sound.

I know you're familiar with downloading anime and other video; often these come with wonderful little fan warnings: "Not For Sale Or Lease," was a favorite, asking the viewer to only download that show until it became licensed in the States and suddenly "sharing" became "stealing." How to you feel about "Comics Piracy" as a concept and practice? The sharing of scanned issues and trades that aren't freely available?

T: I’m in favor of free sharing, but it is ultimately up to the copyright holder what is or isn’t ‘right’. I believe it is in a comic’s best interest to be widely read and sampled for free. The readership is small enough as it is; don’t set up any more barriers or reasons for people to not read comics.

I myself am not willing to buy almost any comic without having read a good portion of it and knowing that I like it. Even if an entire comic is available online, if I like it and want to read it again, I will buy it. Also, there is a good chance any popular comic will end up online for free whether or not you authorize it, so why not take charge of how it is presented and offer it yourself? Make sure that the comic looks good, isn’t covered with unauthorized advertisements or other brands, and earn some goodwill with readers?

A favorite story of mine is how a scanlation of Jeff Parker and Steve Lieber’s independent comic Underground [Note: now available through Image] popped up on 4chan. Neither of them made money from the comic; it was a labor of love and it was being shared for free online. Instead of freaking out, though, both creators engaged the forum, answered fan questions, and basically consented to the scanlation, but asked readers to please consider buying the comic in print if they liked the comic. Even though they were advertising the print copy in the same forum where readers could get the comic for free, Parker and Lieber saw an incredible spike in sales, along with unprecedented goodwill from the typically antagonistic 4chan. They set up a PDF download link on Underground’s website shortly afterward with a donation button, which also did very well.

M: With the shift from Comic Books to Webcomics, where do you see newspaper comics fitting in? Do they serve a purpose or are they something of a hold-over from 'days gone by' papers with cartoons and a crossword puzzle?

T: I do not read newspapers or newspaper comics, and I haven’t for a long time. I hope for the sake of their creators that they have some place in the future of comics, but I can’t picture it.

Webcomics seem to have picked up a reputation for being less legitimate because the artists also sell merchandise, even though I can pull a Batman shirt out of my closet and no one says a word. Do you think this is because webcomics are generally independently run? Is monetizing the same as "selling out"?

T: I am not aware of this. That seems strange, since webcomics are free and creators are likely to need merchandise sales to make the comic possible. A lot of readers want to own something that supports their favorite independent comic and proves that they are a ‘true’ fan. I do think it’s dangerous to focus so much on merchandise that your comic takes a back seat, but even then I don’t begrudge people trying to make a living.

Finally, do you see major comic houses like DC, Marvel and Dark Horse surviving the next 20 years and if so how? Could they change or will they just cling in desperation until the last paper mill is demolished by iPad-driven bulldozers powered by cloned whale oil?

T: Why is that not a comic? xD

I see them surviving, but I hope it will be because they embrace new readers and changing tastes. The ‘house styles’ that some companies keep really baffle me. They can be extremely off-putting to readers who grew up on webcomics or manga, to young readers, and to women and feminists. Gritty realism and stiff characters don’t do it for everybody, so why don’t publishers diversify their art styles? I find the Marvel Strange Tales issues to be some of the most interesting stuff the company has released.

Also, the continuity thing is a huge barrier to new readers. I wish there was some kind of ‘starter’ trade every couple of years that could serve as a starting point for people who want to get into a popular character. How many people walked into a comic shop this year when the Green Lantern film was released, only to be accosted by 4 different GL series running simultaneously? That’s no way to capture a new comic audience.

M: Lastly, and this is purely selfish, we East Coasters can't expect you at NY Comic Con or any of our other local-ish conventions anytime soon, can we?

T: I applied to TCAF for 2012, and I also plan to apply for NYCC 2012! I really hope that they both work out; I’ve heard great things about TCAF and I had an excellent time attending NYCC in 2010.


Apparently we missed her last year in our nerd-drunk stupor of being first-time con goers. Ah, well. Here's to good things for everyone in 2012!

Friday, August 26, 2011

3am Thoughts

They say midnight is the witching hour, but every artist I know seems to say 3 a.m. is the inspiration hour.

Here's a thought for you: I can only stay up this late because I get to sleep in on my one day off from selling books and trying to sell computers.

So I will end up spending the day reading my new book I haven't had time for and perusing and adding to the internet.

Now go to the dictionary and look up "irony."

(The real irony being you'd most likely have to find and ask your parents for a dictionary.)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

On Lacking Direction: A Project Update

So today I get to sleep in a little bit, then book it to Connecticut for an interview with Apple. That'd be a second part-time job alongside Barnes & Noble, both of which would fund my plot to move somewhere more conducive to a writing career in the near future.

All this while maintaining this blog, submitting my book proposal to more agents, and interviewing webcartoonists from Oregon, Texas, Belgium and hopefully Massachusetts for said book.

Oh, and I'm starting a secret project to create a meme/internet resource site, but shush.

Basically, I have no idea what I'm doing, but it should be very entertaining for the rest of you, especially with a 1000th blog post coming in about a month. (Oh shit oh shit oh shit….) Bear with me while my head explodes, and sell the elegant blood splatter pattern afterward.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Tween Machine

That's really inappropriate. Selina is way too
young for Ellen DeGeneres.
So Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez are like the Brangelina of the tween world.

It's apt, I guess. He's the unquestioned male god of "Tiger Beat" or whatever the hell blogs 12 year old girls frequent this decade. She's Disney's #2 leading lady, right behind Miley Cyrus who is already a little too old and a little too badass to put up with Bieber. (Okay, so I guess she'd be a better Angelina Jole to Justin's Brad Pitt, but I'm really not willing to put too much credence into this analogy. Or any of these people, for that matter.)

So, can we, like, eventually expect these two to produce the tween pop idol messiah? Bieber turns 17 in March and Gomez already is. Kevin Jonas was married by 22, and since these kids all rep a pro-abstinence, marriage-only-in-the-missionary-position-for-the-sake-of-procreation multinational conglomerate, I think it's safe to assume they stand a fairly decent shot of getting married young if they stay together for a few years.

Of course, they might have to conceive via in vitro, since they'd have to both remain contractually virginal forever, and they'd need a sperm donor since Bieber's testicles haven't dropped. (I'm willing to stipulate that he is not actually a 20 year old lesbian, since Disney would likely never risk their image on that. More likely he's a Mickey Mouse Club eunuch. ) Then they'd need to grow it in a jar or something to make sure it had plenty of panty-shots and dick-slips to feed the frenzied media machine for D-channel toddler sites.

But really, that kid could probably walk on water. Or a suitably endorsed healthful yogurt beverage, I suppose, given adequate swagger coaching.


A little girl of about 8 came into the bookstore today looking for a copy of Tiger Beat. We did have it and "Biebgrove" was on the cover.


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

On Meta Cognition

I just got finished watching the South Park episode "With Apologies to Jesse Jackson." You might remember it better if I describe it in its more deplorable monicker, the "Nigger-Guy" episode.

I generally have issue with ad hominem attacks, attacking the person making a claim rather than the claim, mostly because I'm a middle-upper-middle class, white, heterosexual male. Basically, I can do whatever the fuck I want in life, so long as I don't espouse tolerance for anything, really.

Oh, are you gay?

No, I just don't give a shit who someone else is attracted to.

Did you grow up poor and in a shitty neighborhood?

No, but I think social welfare organizations do a lot of good for the injured and public works programs create jobs while improving living conditions in the places they're needed most.

Of course this leads to an entirely new problem: now, when I walk past a minority citizen on the street, I suddenly become very self aware and start acting real shady because I don't care about race or socioeconomic status.

Worse, I only care about who a person is on the inside, so I start evaluating personally unique fashion and grooming choices, carriage, facial expression and attitude. Basically, I look them up-and-down from a distance and verify I would get along with them. Then of course I ignore them because we both have places to get to and I know they're good people.

So I look you up and down, then try really hard to not look at you….

Suddenly I'm obsessed with countering the way these thought patterns externalize themselves, and now I'm staring at a minority on the street. Oh god. Oh god oh god oh god. They're gonna kill me. They're gonna kill me for being an insecure, racist white boy. Crap, that's actually racist to assume, isn't it? What the hell? Where's the happy medium between being scared of seeming racist and being scared of appearing scared of being racist?

Probably somewhere in between the Colbert Report and reruns of Tosh.0.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Such Great Heights

When my friends get drunk they tend to fight. With words, fists, sometimes feet but rarely with shirts. A couple weeks ago I got engaged in one of these, in pretty much the most asinine way possible.

I argued with my friend, who I am the same height as, that we are not 5'10.

Which is true. Absolutely. Except I thought we were 5'7" and I was just really honest. Turns out I wear huge boots and he wears thin Converse. His girlfriend, 5'6", made us stand back-to-back like children and then confirmed against us both that we were 4" her tallers.

Well, I measured myself the other day after forgetting several times, and son of a bitch if I'm not 5'8" completely shoeless. In boots I might even be 5'10". No doubt even. My doctor might not be a quack, after all.

This is huge. This is like for a dude finding out his junk is six-point-five inches instead of just six-point-two-five and stretching the truth. Ladies, it's like–and I asked around about this–discovering you've filled out to a 34B from a thirty-two. That's important! Suddenly if you retain a little extra water when you're gushing blood, you can earnestly be a C-cup for one week a month!


Sunday, August 21, 2011

"Keep the Change"

At work today I pointed a guy over to the help desk to find some books on coin values. I was working register, so I got to see him when he came up to check out.

I can understand that he was in a rush, but he just spent about 20 minutes finding these books. Did he really have to run out without a bag, or his receipt, or even his change? I know, I know, it's just a quarter, but that's gotten me thinking: "Keep the change," has always been an expression of generosity and benevolence.

Too bad cashiers get just as much flack for their drawer being over at the end of the night as they do for being short. Great job, guy. You acted all cool, like 25¢ doesn't even matter to you (anyone?), but I've got to stand there and deal with a new moral conundrum. Do I pocket the quarter? Is that stealing? From who? Would I be caught? Unlikely. But if I was, wouldn't I be punished worse for that than for leaving it out and/or reporting it? Would that have acknowledged my guilty intention to thieve? Should I leave the quarter on the counter and risk the assumption that I shorted somebody only to sneakily fix the drawer later, only to be branded both incompetent and unscrupulous?

Jesus Christ, guy, just take your fucking quarter and leave me alone.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The HP TouchPad: You Could Give It Away With A Hooker and a Bag Of Cool Ranch Doritos, and No One Would Want It

I read on a tech rumor blog just now that the much-lamented and now doomed HP Touchpad is not only being given away with HD televisions in some retailers, it might have it's price quartered to $100.

Quartered. Like William Wallace. But this isn't the Braveheart of tablets. Well, maybe it is; it's a once possible contender for the throne that fought hard for (software) independence from tyrannical social norms imposed upon them by others. And they both failed. Spectacularly.

A hundred bones for a WiFi- and bluetooth-capable tablet? That plays flash? With 16 or 32 GB and a gig of memory? Sounds pretty awesome, suddenly! I actually looked up a couple in-depth reviews because of all that.

Yeah, no, it's still a crap tablet. And it's not like there's going to be any more apps coming out. Ever, really. Maybe if I buy seven and hock them on eBay for parts I can make enough for an iPad.

Friday, August 19, 2011

On Patience

Yesterday, at my new job I answered the phone for a nun and looked up a her order. I had to put her on hold while I went rummaging repeatedly and finally asked for help.

Turns out they had input the client name backwards so while I was looking for one name, the product was tiny, hidden behind a stack of huge products, and listed under the other name.

By the time I had the package in-hand, she'd hung up. I made a nun hang up. I called back, and I had to go through the seminary automated directory, then a monk operating a switchboard, then another nun, then finally the right nun. Direct quote: "I ran out of patience."

Guys, I made a nun run out of patience. A nun. Pretty sure they're trained for infinite patience.

Also pretty sure they're trained in the use of Catholic guilt.

Too bad she didn't know she got the one Jewish person on help-desk. Bitch, we invented that game.

Fun story, the Epic of Gilgamesh is only long because everyone was honest
and had to be convinced of everything the hard way.
Old Testament: "No, no, don't worry about me, I'll just sit here reading alone
in the dark, going blind and hungry.
You go out with your friends, Isaac."

Thursday, August 18, 2011

On Assholes

You know, I used to have ads on this blog.

I do again, but for a while I didn't. Because of my mother.

My mother thought the idea was to click every one of my ads multiple times a day, not realizing that since I had very little traffic and resided down the hall from her at the time, that it would appear as though I were clicking all my own ads, were one to look at the IP address.

The other problem is that Google is a pack of wild assholes.

Google AdSense is bot-run, meaning that if your mother clicks all your ads, they think it's you, ban your account, take back whatever money you legitimately earned, and refuse to let you ever use their service again. And there isn't a single human being you can talk to to fix this. You can appeal, sure, but you appeal to a robot. And the robot doesn't like you.


Today I log in to write a blog, I have no idea what on, and I see a little pop-up on my dashboard. Google wanted me to know that my blog has officially become "popular." I should think about monetizing with Google AdSense because other people as popular as me are making money.

Fuck you, Google. I tried to play your game. You're not prepared to deal with shiksa mothers. I made $10 in a month with you at 15 hits a day, and now that I'm doing more traffic and earning at best 1¢ a day, you want in on this shit?

You can't have me, Google.

I mean, you totally can if you'd just lift the ban and be human beings about it. But right now you can't and you won't, I just need you to stop being a bunch of assholes about it.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

On Self-Awareness

We put up my grandfather's memorial placard this past weekend. Apparently this guy is his kiddy-corner grave buddy for eternity, which is pretty cool since he was big on honesty and brevity in life.

That must have been the case, because his name was Meta Frank. I'd imagine that if he were into beating around the bush they would have called his "Ironic Frank."

On the up-side: it's a Jewish cemetery, so at least we know this was a Kosher (possibly all-beef) Frank.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Some Idle Thoughts About Mascots

I'm pretty sure Energizer has had that bunny addicted to cocaine for 23 years.

Chip the Cookie Hound apparently went through some kind of court-ordered rehab program after getting released for good behavior on a light sentence, since he was clearly brainwashed by the Cookie Crook. My guess is he wanted to put that whole life behind him, so he sold the rights to his name to some wolf. (Gallagher did the same thing.)

I like to think if the Justin Long "I'm A Mac" guy banged the T-Mobile Girl, John Hodgeman's "PC" guy would be there filming it. Still wearing black socks.

Monday, August 15, 2011

What the Hell Is A Goethals

Last week I drove over something called a Goethals Bridge to get from Staten Island into New Jersey. Apparently named for designer of the Panama Canal, George Washington Goethals–himself named after a bridge–this bridge takes you from one type of hell into another. But what exactly is a a goethals?

Actually, I don't care. I just want to know how to pronounce it. "Ge-thals?" I think it'd be gethels. Mostly because one of those vowels is probably silent, and I don't think it'd be "goth-les." What would gothles be? I've heard of "cockles," both as a stew and as the deepest recesses of one's heart. I suppose the gothles of one's heart is where all kinds of sad, teenage poetry come from. Maybe Edgar Allan Poe just had a cardiac condition where his cockles were enlarged.

Or, you know, I could just hover my mouse over the phonetic link and see that it is "gothles" and this is all suddenly highly amusing to me on a completely different level.

And now I'm picturing Teddy Roosevelt wearing a lot of black and listening to Morrissey as he digs a trench and hopes to no-god that either he or everyone he went to high school with catches malaria.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Addams Family Matters

I'd been intrigued by it for a while, but after getting the following mailer a few days ago, I'm thinking I really do need to see The Addams Family Broadway musical.

Yup, that's Booke Shields doing Morticia. I mean, she's no Nathan Lane, but she was pretty awesome in The Muppets Take Manhattan.

I'm actually not a huge Addams Family fan, though my mother certainly was growing up. And I have to admit, the one tape we had I loved watching over and over. It was a fascinating and cutely quirky show. John Astin is a comedy specialist with a delivery on par with Groucho Marx. All the creepiness was toned down and the characters were loveable. The cartoon version from '92 was much the same, even featuring Astin's voice! Neither was as disturbing or fantastical as the live action movies.

Of course, none of this has anything at all to do with why I want to see this musical. Nor is it a love of musical theater, the arts, or even Ms. Shields. It's got more to do with the back art of this little brochure they sent me:

No, not the boobs, though they are very nice. They're still Brooke Shields, though. Ignore the primary focal point at the cleavage and the 4-star review. Zoom in, middle right.

Yup. I'm a Wednesday Addams dork. Not even ashamed to admit it. Christina Ricci gave me funny feelings when I didn't even understand what to do with them, and she's only gotten more and more incredible with age. (It also doesn't hurt that at 31 she can still play an 18 year old.) All the Wednesday Fanboyism kind of fell out of that. I'm also sure I have some type of deep-rooted psychological fixation on short, dark-haired creepy girls who may or may not want to eviscerate me (preferably poist-coitus, if it has to happen).

And what's the plot of The Addams Family musical? Wednesday falls in love. And is still creepy. But she always wants to make out. And maybe wear a dress. That's one wonderful idea with three nerdgasm-inducing addenda. Who could ever replace dear little Christina, though?

Well, the role was originated by Krysta Rodriguez:

and since May of 2011 has been performed by Rachel Potter.

I'd really like for us to keep encouraging cute little girls to be outspoken and a little homicidal. Just a little. (Okay, a lot a little.)

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Stop Telling Me I Need To Watch Your New Favorite Show | A Form Letter

Dear Friend,

I know you just got into it but you're already on the third season. I know you think it's the [funniest/most dramatic/best ever] [insert genre] show ever.
Yup, the dour, sarcastic one on the right.
I understand that you really, really like this show now. The characters are incredible and the writing is so much better than [that other show that came first you tried to get me to watch three years ago].

That's cool! I've heard it's really good! I like [that thing I see every few weeks over dinner and find amusing], and I'll freely admit I adore [actor on show]; [s]he is just too cute. I would marry that [girl/guy] in a heartbeat. Not even kidding.

And yeah, I hear the writing is really good and I like how they did [that thing that's been done to death but they do somewhat more originally]. I'm not usually a fan, but they make it work. I even appreciate how hard that is to do. Honestly, I think I'd really like the show if I ever sat down to watch an episode.

I have, in fact. I've seen bits and pieces here and there. Maybe not more than 20 minutes of one episode and a few clips of others, mostly tags right before the show right after came on, but I liked what I saw.

And of course I know the basic gist of it all and who most of the characters are. I made sure to look it all up because I wanted to see what it was about.

Here's the thing: I don't care.

Really. I don't know how, but as much as you love it, [TITLE] just isn't a show I feel compelled to watch. Ever, really. There's no draw to it. It's like looking at the pretty [girl/guy] your friend's been crushing on all year and saying, "Okay, yeah, [s]he's really cute, I guess."

There's just no attraction there, I'm sorry.I'm not disinterested in the things you like, I'm really not. And I've already told you it's not an issue of style or actors or genre; I'm into [previously mentioned similar titles]. I just don't feel like seeing this is something my happiness is contingent upon.

I dunno, maybe it's a commitment thing.

When I start a new show, I'm usually in it for the long-hall, and that means giving up a good portion of my prime time weeknights for a few weeks every year, so I really gotta watch what and how many commitments I make.

Yes, I understand the first [NUMBER] seasons are on [Netflix/Hulu/other streaming service]. And thank you, I appreciate that you're willing to lend me the DVDs. That's not an issue. But when I sit down to watch a whole show like that, it's worse than the hour a week I'd lose watching it live. I lose weeks until I've seen everything. I look up Wikipedia pages; I find the fan Wikia; I got to bed and wake up dreaming the theme songs and original story plots. I just don't have the kind of time to lay out for every show people tell me I need to see, alright?

And before you say it–I know! I know this show is different. I know I'd love it. Because it's so good and you don't normally tell people they "have" to see or do anything, but [FAN-ABBREVIATED TITLE] is just so good and as soon as I see [MINOR SPOILER AND YOU'RE AN ASSHOLE] I'll be hooked.

I'm just not willing to make that commitment, alright? And I'm not going to watch your show. Truthfully, I'm more turned off from it by how hard you're pushing for me to watch it than I am at just the idea of the show I had in my head before you started this conversation. Frankly, if I'd wanted your opinion about [your new favorite show] or any show in particular, I'd have asked you specifically about it. Except now, after all this, I think I respect your taste in television shows even less, so I won't be doing that.

Maybe before I've entertained the idea of giving [your obsession] a shot. Maybe I've even watched an episode or two while cooking a meal and thought, "Hey, this is pretty [funny/good/cool/badass]!" Maybe I even watched the first [x-number] seasons but gave up after [ridiculous plot twists reduced the show to a formulaic nightmare unsalvageable by even increased graphic nudity].

But now I don't even want to hear about it. Because I know that it's all I'm going to hear about for the next [number weeks until conflicting sport season/returning show you liked last year]. So if you have any hope of me watching this show and having us talk about how great it is, your best chance at this point is to stop telling me every six seconds how great it is and how I need to see it. I still love and respect you and your opinions both, but I'm tired of hearing about [show] and I just need it to stop.

Thank you for your patience, and I am sorry if I offended you in a any way, but it was the only way I could see to communicate my feelings to you.

Best Wishes!

[Your Name Here]

Friday, August 12, 2011

Childhood Rules You Can Disregard

  • "Always wash your fruit." Screw that. Pesticides make the fruit all tart and delicious.

  • "Never run with scissors" and "hold them by the point." Hold them however the hell you think will keep the sharp, stabby parts away from your torso and face should you trip and fall. And get them wherever they need to go in a reasonable amount of time!

  • "Never talk to strangers." Then how am I supposed to make friends and meet new people? Get a job? Live outside of my mother's basement?

  • "Don't light things on fire." Please.

  • "No running by the pool!" Then how the fuck am I going to splash a bigger cannonball?

  • "Clean your plate; there are starving children in [distant Third World location]." And how is me being a glutton and giving myself a stomach ache helping them? Why don't we just take our leftover tuna casserole and FedEx it over to Africa or China or wherever and put some meat on their bones.

  • "Don't buff the dog," "No grappling hooks in the bananas," and "You can't drink milk while running." Pretty sure these were only specific to my childhood, but I'm a man now and I'll do what I damn well want.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

My (Two) Days As An MTV Toadie

Firstly, a disclaimer: I actually was working as a production assistant for a television production company that was making a show for MTV. I was not employed by Viacom in any capacity and, though most of the other people there will, I don't think I'm getting an IMDB credit out of this. (But if I find someone screwed up and included my name, it wouldn't necessarily not be the best day ever. Just saying.)

So Day 1, Hour 1:
  • Fill out paperwork (time card, mileage form for driving)
  • To Do List
    • Drop off laundry for some guy
    • Drive to New Jersey to pick up a package
    • Exchange two boxes at Michaels Art Supply for ones that hold just two cupcakes
    • Find very specific Dr. Scholl's inserts
Wait, what was that?

"Dr. Scholl's?"

No, no. Before that.

Oh, right. "Drive to New Jersey." Yeah, that happened. It was pretty sweet, actually, except for the hour of stop-and-go on the BQE in the middle of the day. Other than that I got to travel, belt out rockin' music on the way, call some friends, play Words With Friends in traffic jams (don't do that, kids) and–oh yeah–my destination? Asbury Park. Not just seaside, not just the eponymous "Jersey Shore."Asbury. Park.

"Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J."

Home of The Boss! Bruce and the recently late but always great Clarence Clemons! The Asbury Park sound! It's up there with all the best parks! Menlo! Central! The Place! Dorney and Wild Water Kingdom (if I choose to believe how great their New Jersey radio spots profess they are).

Of course, when I arrived after 3 hours we very quickly determined that the package I was sent for had been marked "RETURN TO SENDER" and no one bothered to call about this before sending me down. I was so upset by this I didn't even stop at Roy Rogers on the way back for food.…I was practically weened on Roy Rogers. No one has their pickles. No one. You can try Canes brand for flavor, but no one makes the flat-cut pickle chips just the same. I plan on one day discovering the supplier to the New Jersey Turnpike's last-stand of RR restaurants and buy a barrel. Then, like Bradley Cooper in the tail-end of Limitless, [SPOILER] I will try to reverse engineer my childhood.

If you think I'm joking, consider that I used to get as many pickles as parentally allowed into their little cups at the salad station, squeeze every last ounce of juice from them as I ate, and after my meal take shots off the warmed-over, vinegar brine swill left in the cups. And I fucking liked it.

After that, things were pretty boring, actually. While stuck in traffic on the way back, most of the other things I needed to pick up were either bought or made superfluous by others, and having learned my lesson in Jersey, I called about a dozen pharmacies to track down the right insole material. Once I got those I picked up the laundry I'd dropped off earlier and everybody was real cool about everything.

I slipped call sheets under doors before cleaning up and going home. Nothing too terrible, really. Had a minor incident slipping the list of rooms to get call sheets under a door instead of the call sheet itself, but the front desk fixed that with a spare key. (Honestly, it seems like you can get a spare key at any hotel if you say you're with a large party occupying that and other rooms. I might worry about this.)

Day 2:
  • Mail out two boxes at the post office. (I think one was just some guy's Underarmor that didn't fit.)
  • Return a dart board at Walmart.
  • Food shopping
  • Go pick up a camera at a sporting goods shop.
First part: no city on the return address, so the mail lady yelled at me. Then bitched because I didn't know what I was mailing out. Fuck you, it's returns to Underarmor and Amazon. I'm not mailing C4 or anything they couldn't have shipped in the first place. And don't give me snark about saying "Priority Mail" when I'm using Priority Mail boxes. I'm just being thorough. Geeze, if the girl ahead of me hadn't been a completely adorable hardcore chick with the most gorgeous sleeve tattoos I've ever seen on a person (and if there hadn't been central air), I'd swear this was a blown trip.

Second part: Kid wouldn't give me a receipt for the return, but I got half the groceries so call it a draw.

Third: stopped at a Stop & Shop, got everything else we needed except some obscure variant iced tea. Not a huge loss.

That last thing…

Yeah, torrential downpour, heavy traffic, guy didn't include the receipt, but saw fit to call ahead to let the boss' boss know about it, so had to drive back later, after stopping at a Dick's Sporting Goods nearby for jumbo golf umbrellas. Course, this time I took the back roads and had a lovely drive both ways. I found a bunch of cheap gas stations, couple Thai places, even a Hooters and an IHOP!

Exchanged another PA's receipt for an itemized version, got my own and I was back to base and let off early after some quick cleaning. Frankly, I thought it'd be far more abusive. Granted, first half of Day 1 wasn't too hot, but then they called me in the second day as I was on my way home and stopping for White Castle. Which they ended up paying for!

Comped meals, travel, Bruce Springsteen? Guy could get used to this!

But I had to get home to interview down at Barnes & Noble.

What the fuck am I doing?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Adventures in Television, Pt 2

So I got roped into working a second day for this production company in Long Island, so full details will be tomorrow. For now: more ridiculous photos!

"ICHEWAWA" This mam must have watched a lot of "Ren & Stimpy," and is a driver after my own heart.

Sleepies Sheep. Life sized too, not little. Like it was sheep sized. I don't know what number. Creepy.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A Vehicular Adventure

So I drove around a lot yesterday. I mean a lot a lot. I'll explain everything in more detail later, but for now, here are some of the highlights of my little trip:

I found her! Oh my gosh, what an honor! It's the World's Greatest Grandma, you guys! Officially!
She's got the sign to prove it and everything!

Creepy fuckin' tomatoes.

"Moishe's Self Storage! as low and $29/month!"
"That's per lunar, month, mind you, not meshugah calendar month."

Apparently part of Queens is run by a gang of demon slayers.
Joss Whedon would be proud. I know there's was a hellmouth in CA, and another in Chicago,
but I'm sure there's one down on The Island.

Stay gold, demon slaying Ponyboy.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Sometimes My Brain Is Awesome (Dreams Part XIX)

Sometimes I love my brain, part for rewarding me for striving to be awesome in my waking life, and part just for the wonderful crap it comes up with when I'm not looking.

In the last half-hour of sleep last night, I was an Indiana-Jones-esque manly-man badass, steeling the lost artifact I needed from an evil(?) cult of wealthy bastards before dropping off the remaining relic they thought they were really needing: the decomposing body of their holy saint, John the Thatcher (Margaret Thatcher's brother).

They drank some potion made of oarange juice and a cap of 5-Hour Energy out of a flask they found next to the body, I think to ensure they would remain oppressively wealthy or something. Of course, I removed the fun bits of John's casket, so even though I hand delivered it to watch their orgiastic Bacchanal, they'd be poor again my morning.

Then the tiny waif con artist/female lead made an Indiana Jones joke about clams (which is not from any Indiana Jones film, but it was in this universe, apparently a new one, since) my reply was to chase her across the room until she tripped over a picnic table bench because no one can run in an ankle-length slinky cocktail dress. She really thought I'd out her at the party as my sometimes-accomplice, but by the time I caught up to her all I did was pick her up and say, "Sorry, I've never seen that one.". And then there was a lot of kissing. Like, a lot a lot.

The original joke I made to get sarcasm'd at was something about clams.

Oh, did I mention the slinky badass cat burglar chick I was making out with at the end of my movie was Emma Watson? I probably should have mentioned that I made out with Emma Watson. In a blonde wig. I told her I liked her better as a brunette. I don't remember if she liked that.

(Because there was too much kissing.)

Sometimes, I love my brain. Thank you, brain.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

HP Cell Phone Advertising Is Trippy At 3am

I've been seeing these commercials Hewlett-Packard puts out with celebrities holding mobile devices in front of their faces. Miranda Cosgrove had a Veer phone, Lea Michele has some kind of tablet, and that that tiny but deadly MMA fighter  has another tiny phone.

Here's the thing, the phones end up showing, after user interface examples, the face of the person holding up the device. It's not a false device framing them, it's most likely a device shell with a little green screen on it. Which means there was film of the celebrity saying their final bit where a visible face, then that gets superimposed on the device, which blocks it out until the device moves. Someone even goes in and adjusts the image to be a little off, proportionately. That's class, right there. I mean Miranda Cosgrove and Lea Michele are both pretty cute young women. And that tiny scary dude isn't homely enough that I'd feel safe announcing it on the internet without fear of reper-concussion, so somebody going in to make those adjustments makes them look just subtly weird enough that I'm repulsed by all HP products and spokespersons.

On the up side, thinking about this is like staring into an M.C. Escher painting of advertising.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

On Time

I prefer to go to sleep around 3 and wake up around noon or noon-thirty. This allows me to see all good or at least culturally relevant television at night, and judge how long I've been awake and working on whatever numerical number hour it is.

Honestly, I have no idea why anyone but agricultural engineers and solor-energy developers work in the day. You wake up between 5 and 7 and go to sleep between 10 and 12? What is that? Those numbers make no sense. Better to sleep when the numbers run out and start getting small again, then wake up when the clock resets at 1. Your day should start at 1.

Who the hell decided that the day starts in literally the exact middle of the night before? I know it wasn't the French, because they tried to introduce "Decimal Time" during their Revolution and make a day of 10 hours of 100 minutes of 100 seconds, but they nixed that with the introduction of the Metric system two years later in 1795, probably because no one was able to count seconds one-fifth faster.