Thursday, December 06, 2007

Not Really Producing

Well, that's not exactly true -- I've been producing tons. Between my stand-up, my screenplays and teleplays, and my blogs for TV Squad, in the last three months I've written more that has actually been read by real, actual people, than at any other comparable three month span of my entire existence.

Here's the problem: It's not as much as it should be. I've got more free time than anyone this side of a Hilton sister. I always imagined that when I was finally set free from the day-job shackles that my response would be to fill both house and hotel room with eight hours a day, six days a week of gentle click-clackings from my keyboard. It's been close to a year now; I should have a novel or two finished. I should have enough blog posts to shut shut down the single ISDN line that all of China shares. I should have five more screenplays that my agent can't sell. I should have 30 more minutes of stand-up that my old friends don't laugh at (but that strangers, strangely, do).

But I haven't done it. I've filled the time with, endless replays of movies that I've seen more times in my life than I have my cousins, and enough masturbation (both mental and physical) to piss off even the hard-to-piss-off gods (like Budha).

I just got back from a gig. I've spent the last three hours in my hotel room doing the following: one poop (enormous and well deserved), one hour watching Sportscenter (and on a Wednesday during football season no less -- we're talking 20 minutes of _hockey_ highlights), and one hour and forty five minutes watching the last one hour and forty five minutes of Fight Club (while I read about Fight Club on wikipedia).

I am officially useless. If I even wrote one page an hour, I could be three pages closer to finishing the screenplay I promised my partner I'd have done by the 17th. If I had written 150 words an hour, I'd have another post for TV Squad finished and some extra spending loot in my pocket. If I had worked on my act, I'd by icrementally funnier for the drunks and punks I'll be performing for this weekend.

What do I have to show for it? Nothing at all. I mean, other than a sexual confusion over my feelings for Brad Pitt's torso.

So, I decided to creep over here to the one semi-public piece of writing that I have that truly doesn't matter. I mean, it matters if you're reading it right now, but my feeling is that no one is reading this, so, you know, it doesn't matter.

It's good. It's gotten the ball rolling. It's allowed me to entertain the idea of sleeping without the usual two doses of self-loathing that I've been bringing with me lately to bed time.

Maybe I'll get off my ass now and write something worth reading.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Observations from Columbus, OH

Well, I'm in Columbus! The Paris of Ohio! The city of (a) light!

I had a gig last night in a place called Tiffin, OH. Tiffin is between Columbus and Toledo, yet hasn't been able to absorb any of the high culture that both of those cities are known for.

That being said, it's a nice little town and the gig was fun. Since I'm pressed for time before my flight leaves, I wanted to drop just a few quick observations about life in Ohio:

1) I'm seated next to a Wendy's. The Wendy's has a very cheap cardboard cut-out of a guy with a Wendy's wig on (if you've seen the relatively obtuse commercials that Wendy's has been running of late, you know what I'm talking about). There's a hole where the guy's face is supposed to be, with the idea that people can put their own head through the hole and become a part of Wendy's marketing scheme. I scoffed when I saw it, being under the impression that even retarded mutants wouldn't be so irony free that they'd actually put their head through the hole.

Welcome to Columbus! At least three different couples have laughed and taken pictures of themselves with their heads in the hole in the last hour. Seriously. The end is nigh. Sell your stock and head to the Bunny Ranch.

2) Almost all of the restaurants and stores at the Columbus airport are outside the security checkpoint. If you want to experience American Mall culture, you have to do it before you get screened by the (ahem) qualified and highly trained TSA agents. After the checkpoint? It's like a Turkish airport.

Why is this? I suppose the terminal was built pre-9/11, but guys, it's been six years. Can we either move the checkpoint up or put a goddamn store or two after it?

3) We're still on orange alert. That's high, for those of you keeping score at home. It's been this way for as long as I remember. Eurasia is at war with Oceania. It's always been that way, right?

Okay, that's it. Gotta catch a jet plane.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Red ring of death or just red ring?

Sometime in the mid-eighties every news report in America seemed to carry something about Lyme's disease. Apparently if you caught it your brain could melt or some such (as I write this, it occurs to me that I have absolutely no idea what happens to you if you catch Lyme's disease. Is it bad? Do people die from it? Perhaps nothing happens at all except that your blood all of a sudden takes on a delightful and refreshing citrus flavor.)

All of the reports said to look for the same thing: a red dot with a red circle around it. "Like a bullseye" the mid-80s TV reporter would say with gravitas.

I never worried about Lyme's disease because like any sane person who grew up in the era of air conditioning and cable, I never went outside. Like Ronald Reagan thought that AIDS was punishment for the sinful lives that gay people led, I too felt that any idiot that spent enough time outdoors that he had to worry about ticks got exactly what he deserved.

Now, thouogh, I finally understand how those people must have felt!

See, I have an XBOX360 and today I saw a red dot surrounded by a red ring. A bullseye that might as well have been pasted over my heart.

I turned off the machine and turned it back on and it booted up just fine, but now the idea is planted in my head: this XBOX360 mght be on the verge of death. I just spent 3 weeks in May without an XBOX360 because of an incurable red ring and... well, I just don't think I could go through that again.

It would break my heart. Like a disease. Like a Lyme's disease.

I'll keep you posted on whether or not the 360 lives or dies. I'm going away to Pittsburgh for a few days and maybe the time away will cool the machine down so much that any hint of a problem will simply disappear.

I don't have high hopes.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Gibbstown -- The place comedy went to die

I'm going to preface this by saying that I think the people in Gibbstown are good people. I mean that -- they all shook my hand before and after the show and I think none of them would intentionally stab a newborn.

That being said -- holy shit! If there's a center of fun in the universe, Gibbstown is at the point furthest from it.

Here's what I don't get: it wasn't a free show. The people who were there tonight had to pay a fair bit for their tickets. Many of them, I imagine, had to plan to be there (meaning they had to get babysisters or at least put food in their children's cages). So why would they choose to make the show unwatchable by getting so drunk that they wouldn't have paid attention to me if I was on fire? Why would they all talk on their cellphones constantly? Why would they shout and scream at each other during the show?

This would be like renting a movie, then drinking yourself into a stupor in your kitchen, only sort've half listening to it in the other room.

Why would you do that? Why not just set fire to your money? At least that way, I don't have to come to your town and have to go through the motions of putting on a show!

I wondered to myself on the way home if I'm getting too much of an ego. In the old days, I would've blamed the poor quality of the show on myself. I would have taken a sad bath and recommitted myself to becoming a better comedian and looked forward to being invited back to Gibbstown so's I could show 'em how good I really am.

Now, though? I was angry at them for wasting my time. Maybe I need the humility.

I don't think I'd be so mad if it wasn't for the following reasons:

1) I would have had more sleep this week if I was in a Turkish prison.

2) I'm still getting minor headaches and am having problems concentrating. Because my MRI says I don't have a tumor, I'm convinced now that I've given myself some kind of brain damage brought on by continued use of Simply Sleep (tm).

3) I have an audition tomorrow that's kind of a big deal. The last thing I needed was a thorough soaking of my ego in some small-town acid.

4) When I came home, my wife and brother-in-law were watching America's Funniest Home Videos and wouldn't change the channel (because it was the finals).

So, anyway, that's where I am right now. If I were a teenager, I'd try to figure out how to give this blog a mood rating. Somewhere between "grumpy" and "suicidal". Because I'm an adult (and a father!), I think my response will be to watch Sportscenter... angrily.

Friday, July 27, 2007

What it's like to be a father (week one)

Remember when you were little and you'd get sick? The days were okay -- you'd eat toast with jelly and watch the Price is Right. The nights, though, the nights were terrible. Lonely, wheezing -- just you and your humidifier.

That's what fatherhood is like for me so far. The days are great. Keane swaddles up and gets so cute that sometimes I hear God Himself up in heaven going, "Holy shit, that kid is cute!"

But at night? I catnap while keeping one ear on radar duty, every little fuss the potential harbinger of screams. My TiVo is straining to keep up with the crap television I require to get through the nights, but even it eventually runs out of Mythbusters or X Play.

It's not a ringing endorsement, I know, but it's hard to write about the flood of emotions you drown in after becoming a father without sounding like you're writing another 200 pages of Mitch Albom style claptrap. I thought I'd give you the physicality of the experience, you know, just to keep you coming back for more!

(Speaking of which, is anyone reading this blog? I'm not publicizing it except as a link from my website and I don't expect it to grow but slowly. I'm just curious: if you're out there, write me!)

Thursday, July 26, 2007

I suck at Fifa '07

A quick story: World Cup '06 was wonderful, soccer seemed interesting, my favorite sportswriter Bill Simmons decided to follow the EPL as a result, and I wound up a soccer fan. I even got the Fox Soccer Channel and a Robbie Keane shirt and am thus completely on the other side of the soccer douchebag fence.

So in February when EA Sports released Fifa '07, I bought it the first millisecond it was available. I played approximately nine hundred hours a week and became, I thought, an unstoppable Fifa force. I imagined myself like the Christian Bale Batman, studying bad-assery in the far off reaches of Asia, readying myself for a triumphant reveal to the online community.

When my Xbox died in June, Microsoft was kind enough to replace it and send along a free month of Xbox live. I thought my training was complete and it was only a few weeks before I was atop the leaderboards and a feared whisper among the other players. "I played jayblackcomedy yesterday. My thumbs are still bleeding."

Uh, no.

I'm getting my ass kicked so severely and regularly it's actually affecting my offline self esteem. I feel like a case study in a bleeding edge psychology journal. These people are crazy good and my single player experience lied to me!

There are two major emotions at work when I play, both of which I'm very familiar with. The first is the "I need to get better at any cost" emotion. This is the feeling where I want to abandon my wife and child, quit my career and become one of those people that do nothing all day but play video games (i.e. college students). The second is the "Who gives a shit" emotion where I want to embrace life and love in a fit of sour-grapes superiority over the people who are better than me at the game.

I'm probably too saddled with Irish guilt to follow the former path, but I don't know if I'll be able to overcome my addiction to the game to follow the latter. It's the major dilemma of my life right now.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

I piss off the Lactating Lady

So, if you didn't know, they have about a million consultants that show up after you have a baby. My personal favorite was the "Shaken Baby Syndrome Specialist" whose job it is to tell you not to shake your baby. I'm of the opinion that if you need to be told that, you might as well go ahead and shake your baby and get your genes out of the pool altogether.

The one I managed to upset was the Lactating Lady. She comes in and shows your wife how her nipples can be used to keep your baby alive. As the husband, you watch as your wife is shown proper technique as you slowly realize that the part of your wife you loved the most is no longer yours anymore. And they say women sacrifice during childbirth.

Anyway, I sit nicely during the entire nipple-manipulation presentation and play the part of the happy and supporitve husband. As she's leaving, I figure I'll make some small talk and I say: "Hey, what do you think about those whackos that breast-feed their babies until they're like 3 or 4?"

Apparently, I'm an asshole.

This woman getsall huffy about how that's an ignorant and stupid way to look at the world. It takes me approximately half a millisecond to realize that this woman obviously breast-fed her babies well into their forties. I probably should have surmised that from the fact that she's made a career out of being the Lactating Lady, but I had just become a father and my brain wasn't working properly.

I try to apologize. She says: "You know, in 3rd word countries, the average age of weaning is 5 or 6." I say, "Oh, well, sure, I didn't know that." And she says "Yeah" in that way that people do when they're suddenly on the moral high ground and enjoying every second of it.

Now that I've had a day to think about it, here's my feelings on the subject:

1) I still think that people that allow their kids to titty-feed into their tweens are nutto. Maybe it's the fact that I was raised in a prudish, puritanical nation, but the only time a person should be able to vocalize their need for boobies is when they're fourteen and in their girlfriend's basement.

2) From now on, I don't care how many liberal arts colleges you've graduated from, you're no longer allowed to use the third world as a reason for us in the first world to do anything. If you're doing something because third world villagers do it, you also have to poop directly into your fresh water supply. Because, you know, the third worrld doesn't have any concept of the germ-theory of medicine, because they're, uh, purer than we are.

3) Motherhood is a glorious and wonderful thing. In all honesty, watching my wife become a mother has been magical. That being said, people that try to extend the experience beyond when it's appropriate are doing it not because they love their kids, but because they want to continue being the all-giving MOTHER that they were when their child was completely dependent on them. It's about maintaining their own power. A self-respecting woman maintains her power not from the milk that exits her boobs, but from the cleavage those boobs make when they're strapped together in a too-tight push-up bra. At least that's what my good friend Betty Friedan always used to say.

Alright, all that being said, I have to go get my wife nipple-soothing cream. Yeah, baby, sexy.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Keane Robert Black

Keane Robert Black (or Keano as he will be known to his legions of fans in the EPL or KB as he will be known to all the girls that will have crushes on him or Keane Bean as he will be known in our house until he is old enough to complain) came firing into this world at 3:42 PM today, July 22, 2007.

He's already fed for the first time (he enjoys both boobs and food, just like daddy) and he's now resting comfortably waiting for whatever the world has to offer him.

By the way, to any comedy bookers currently reading this blog, Keane assures me that he's got a tight 5 that's PG-13 but can be cleaned up for church shows. He usually features, but he's willing to emcee just his once.

More to come...

Waiting for my wife to pop

So, I'm currently in the waiting room of Virtua Hospital in Voorhees waiting for my wife to give birth to our first child. A couple of things:

1) Thank god for drugs. Drugs are wonderful. Drugs take a screaming, unhappy woman and make her a weepy, thankful woman. Why would anyone give birth without them?

2) We were originally supposed to have all of this filmed by "A Baby Story", the TLC show. The hospital decided that no, they didn't want the camera crew here because it would "be a disturbance." But, when we got here this morning there were two scary-looking union guys taking up tile in the main hallway. They were using what sounded like helicopter engine to do this. Now, let me ask you how are cameras a disturbance and that engine not? I mean, I'd be okay with the hypocrisy it if the tile-scraping engine could get me some cheap publicity.

3) The whole birthing process is completely inefficient. Seriously, we've been here for like 5 hours and we still have like 5 hours to go (not to mention the eighteen or so years of actually raising the child). Why can't she go, "Ooh, that smarts a bit", head into the bathroom and pop out a kid? Wouldn't that make more sense from a design perspective. I hope I'm not coming off as too much of an Apple fanboy here, but I think that we should let Steve Jobs and Jonathan Ive design Woman 2g.

4) But at least the hospital as WiFi, which is nice, even though they have a block on pornography. I don't know this because I tried to look at it, but because there's a big message that comes up telling you that you won't be able to surf for it. I understand that they don't want an open access point to be used for prurient interests, but there are a lot of guys in this hospital on their deathbed. They should get a special password that lets them get access to the porno. They're dying! Let 'em see a little pink before they see the white, you know?

All right, I'm back into the birthing room now. Hopefully, the next time I post, I'll have some pictures of my son to show you!

So, I don't have brain cancer

According to my neurologist, I'm clean as a whistle.

In case you didn't know, a few months ago, I went to the neurologist complaining of headaches. He said it could be one of three things: my sleep apnea, a poor glasses prescription, or a giant, pulsing, tomato-sized tumor in the center of my brain.

I went to the sleep doctor and she said: yes, I do have sleep apnea. I trusted her, even though she was a woman, because according to science women and men are equal.

I went to the eye doctor and he said: yes, I do have a poor prescription.

Finally, I went to get an MRI and my neurologist said: no, I don't have a giant, pulsing, tomato-sized tumor in my head.

I'm disappointed about this for a few reasons:

1) I'm a drama queen. Imagine how much sympathy I could elicit with an inoperable brain tumor. Seriously, I'd never have to worry about a social misstep again ("Oh, I'm sorry that I made a retard joke and your brother is 'special' Larry, but, you know, I'm dying from brain cancer, so it's a little hard for me to worry about being politcally correct, okay!?")

2) There's always the chance that the brain tumor isn't just a kill-you kind of cancer, but that it's a Phenomenon type cancer that gives me super powers before I die. I mean, we all have to die, but how many of us get to die knowing that we learned Portuguese in a truck ride or that we were able to name mammals alphabetically with Brent Spiner?

3) As many of you know, I'm about to become a father. Dying of a brain tumor is a hell of a lot easier than packing for Mexico and it doesn't even look like you're shirking your responsibilities.

4) I'm not that attached to being alive anywho. I've already reproduced. I leave behind a legacy of like 3 unmade screenplays and about four thousand handjob jokes. What more can a man ask for in a single lifetime? I mean, I don't want to be greedy.

Of course I say a lot of this with my tongue firmly in my cheek -- I have to put that caveat because it's likely my wife will read this blog and she takes this shit seriously, so if I ever want to have her tongue in my cheek again... well, you understand.

So, if you were worried, you can stop worrying. I am upping my cell-phone usage though. There's always next year.