Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Hey gang, it's the "every other" in my "every other Wednesday" deadline for TV Squad, so my blogging energies went in that direction last night. I'm pretty proud of this column; both my wife AND my editor thinks it's the best thing I've written in a long time. If you want to check it out, click here: TV 101: The true meaning of TV Christmas specials.

Hope you enjoy it!

Also, I hope all of you have a happy and healthy holiday. I, for one, will be having a traditional holiday: wake up early to do Christmas with my son, then drive to Atlantic City to headline a week and a half worth of shows at the Tropicana. Yep, it's a Christmas miracle!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Why sometimes it's OK to keep the Christ out of Christmas

I saw a sign today that said "Remember: Jesus is the reason for the season."

I've been seeing variations of this kind of thing since I was a little kid. There are two kind of people who put these signs up:

1. Normal, every day Christians who treat Christmas like the rest of us do (a Caligula-style orgy of naked consumerism and fatty-foods), but who still want get a little holy karma thrown their way in case Jesus is in the habit of reading lawn-signs.

2. Truly committed Christians who reject outright all the pagan trappings of Christmas (and who probably think that the Three Wise Men were perverting things by distracting the baby Jesus from Himself with all that myrrh.)

For 32 years, I understood where both of these people were coming from. After all, Christmas started life as a religious holiday; it only makes sense to want to remind people of that fact. I'm sure if, for some reason, Ramadan all of a sudden became a hip holiday with all sorts of wacky traditions grafted onto it (Achmed the Ramadan monkey brings the most obedient little girls trampolines or whatever), Muslims would justifiably try to steer the holiday to its original purpose.

But something occurred to me today:

Maybe the most Christ-like approach to keeping the Christ in Christmas is to remove him from the occasion altogether.

See, Christmas is teetering on the verge of becoming a secular holiday in much the same way that Halloween, Thanksgiving, and the Fourth of July already are. Christmas is so profitable that it's already been put through the capitalist ringer: it's been buffed and polished by Hollywood and Wall Street to be the most appealing holiday on the calendar. As a consequence of this, there isn't a little boy or girl -- of any faith! -- that doesn't want to celebrate it.

Parents of different faiths worry that Christmas is therefore a sinister missionary, spreading not just good cheer, but Christianity as well. There is understandable resistance, then, to embracing Christmas.

This is sad, because the atmosphere at Christmas -- the lights, the gifts, the super-awesome pagan traditions -- does actually make a difference in how people view the world. There's a happiness possible at Christmas that is separate and distinct from anything to do with religion. People sometimes just want to have an excuse to decorate their house, put on reindeer sweaters, and got sloshed on eggnog.

The world is a much better place at Christmas, and it would be even better if we could get more people celebrating it. Christians make up a majority of the country, but they don't make up a super-majority (sorry Sarah Palin). All the best parts of Christmas, the ones that make us light up happily every December, could easily be exported to those non-Christians without any mention of the Notorious J.H.C. Further, thanks to the aforementioned polishing of Christmas by corporate America, it would only take just the littlest of pushes to make Christmas a universal, secular holiday.

Imagine if the holiday cut across religious boundaries the same way Thanksgiving did! Imagine if all your Jewish friends were able to stop pretending that the socks they got on the fourth day of Hanukkah were just as good as the minibike you got for Christmas. Imagine if the son of the neck-bearded atheist associate professor of philosophy was able to get the same GI Joe figure as you.

What a wonderful world that would be, eh? In fact, I would say that the philosophy of Christ -- namely, the goodwill toward your neighbor stuff -- would be more alive in a world like that, even as we diminish, just a bit, the worship of Him.

I would humbly suggest that the Jesus of the New Testament wouldn't care how it was done, just so long as it was done.

(Now, his pissed-off father from the Old Testament is another story. The only person who wailed on his children more than Yaweh did was Bing Crosby.)

We could make the world a place that emulates Christ if we could just get him the Hell out of Christmas.


On a side note, my wife and I put in an offer -- and it was accepted! -- on a house last week, which is part of the reason why this blog has been so inconsistent. We're gearing up for the new place now (assuming that the deal doesn't fall apart on its way from contract to settlement). We bought at what we hope is the bottom of the current market, so it's either up from here or that house is where we make our final stand against the Zombies. Either way, I'm deliriously happy and can't wait to share with you all the news of the move (hopefully, with some entertainment value attached).

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Cracker Barrel Cheese and Diet Pepsi

Cracker Barrel actually sells a sack of individually wrapped logs of cheese. Now, I'm not a huge cheese fan, but I am a fan of convenient late night snacking. And, for that, nothing works better than individually wrapped cheese. Is it a good idea to eat anything that can be referred to as a "log" mere seconds before you go to sleep? Probably not, but it's as close as I get to being a daredevil.

I've found that the sharp taste of this particular cheese is offset quite nicely by Diet Pepsi. Maybe the unholy swill of evil chemicals in each item offset each other --sorta like how Chelsea Clinton turned out okay -- or maybe it's just dumb luck, but there's no better post-midnight snack than a log of Cracker Barrel cheese and a swig of Diet Pepsi.

Something occurred to me tonight that made it taste even better: if a person from France were to have seen me eating Cracker Barrel cheese and drinking Diet Pepsi they very well could have exploded.

To most Americans this is just some common sense snacking. Americans don't savor -- we're descended from frontiersmen who spent all day long taming a new land (and, uh, killing its indigenous people) -- our people don't have time to savor!

Europeans, on the other hand, descend from all the people too scared to leave for America. Their ancestors spent their afternoons powdering wigs and polishing snuff-boxes. They might have time to savor things, but so what? Unemployed people have time to do a lot of things.

Of course, I'm being a little tongue-in-cheek here. In a weird way, though, the fact that I've been raised to eat shitty food in the worst circumstances in order to make things more convenient and efficient actually made me a little proud. Eating Cracker Barrel cheese and drinking Diet Pepsi is a good representation of both the best and worst of what it means to be an American.

So let me suggest this the next time Old Europe gets mad at the US of A, instead of declaring things "Freedom Fries" or "Victory Gardens", I'd like for every American to grab a lump of Cracker Barrel cheese and a bottle of Diet Pepsi and have a good ole American wine and cheese party standing up right there in their kitchen.

USA! USA! (Oh, is no one else chanting? Well okay then...)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


I'm very busy lately with a couple of projects that I hope I'll be able to share some news about soon, but I wanted to drop in tonight and give you a joke that I've been sitting on since yesterday:

I haven't seen Bush dodge something that well since the Vietnam draft!

That is all. More tomorrow!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Is there no explanation of irony in the Koran?

Just a quick post; my wife and I are headed out with the spud in a few minutes.

I wanted to share this article about Iran being offended by the new movie "The Wrestler." They're mad because one of the wrestlers that Mickey Rourke fights is called "The Ayatollah". During the climax of the movie, the two use the Iranian flag as a prop in their fighting. This is obviously done with an ironic nod towards mid-80s wrestling and how being foreign -- especially Arab -- was seen then as being evil.

I've seen this movie and I'm dumbfounded that the Iranians would be upset about it; Iran is apparently unable to understand that anti-Islamic xenophobia is being mocked by the movie. "The Wrester" is actually on their side!

What is it about fundamentalism that precludes it from accepting humor? Surely, if the Koran (or the Bible or the Torah or Dianetics) covers the full spectrum of human experience, it should probably have something in there about irony, right? Shouldn't there be at least one passage that reads something like this:

"God (or Allah or Yahweh or L. Ron Hubbard) has given us massive brains that can be used for all sorts of really awesome things. One of those awesome things is the ability to say one thing but mean another. So, you know, don't always look at the surface statement; try looking at the deeper meaning of what's said. You might find the friction between the two to be delightful!"

Instead all the Koran seems to say is "grow a beard and get angry."

Maybe there's a connection between being being bearded and being humorless? Science should probably look into this.

Friday, December 12, 2008

In which our hero has a date...

My wife and I went on a date tonight. It's only the second time in the sixteen months since the birth of our son that we've been able to go out together. The reasons for this shortage of alone time is as follows:

1. My mom is dead, which is a serious blow to our babysitter situation. I have a dad left, but you know, dads really aren't clamoring for some Friday night alone time with a baby. Mostly, my dad just wants to smoke and watch hockey, two things I suspect will be boring to my son until at least his fourth birthday.

2. My mother-in-law is our day care provider. She loves my son, but after approximately 35-40 hours each week of watching him during the day, I'm sure the idea of another four or five hours so that my wife and I can practice making another baby isn't high on her list of priorities.

3. I'm a comedian, which means most Friday and Saturday nights are spent entertaining our nation's drunkards and malcontents.

Tonight, though, the stars aligned perfectly. My comedy club date was cancelled, my wife's sister had the night free, and my wife actually wanted to spend some time with me (as our marriage has been argument free for almost the entire week!) This simply does not happen. This is like the Perfect Storm, except that in this version of the movie, Clooney and Wahlberg went to an Italian place for dinner, then made out in a car.

It was a nice reminder of why we wound up married with a kid in the first place. I suspect our next date, tentatively scheduled for June 22, 2010, will be just as hot.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

So, things are back to normal (I hope)

I think we're all set with my website being virus free, so it's back to blogging as usual!

I'll have new content up later in the day. In the meantime, please check out my latest column for AOL. I think it's one of the better ones (and not just because it has a wicked cool Star Wars reference in it).

Monday, December 08, 2008

Why you're seeing this page!

So, this is my blog. If you clicked on, you were redirected here, temporarily, because the main site has been infested with a virus. Not sure what happened, exactly. Perhaps my web site connected to a website in Amsterdam and made some bad choices about how to spend its time there.

Or, maybe a bit more realistically, I'm maintaining my own site and don't know what the hell I'm doing.

I've sent an email to the web hosting people, so the problem should hopefully be taken care of shortly. In the meantime, feel free to explore this blog.

If you're looking for a free CD, just comment on this post and I'll get it to you ASAP!

Thanks much.

(PS to my regular blog readers -- both of you -- we'll be back to normal soon. Maybe this temporary redirect will lead to hundreds of new readers. Or, uh, not. Hope is, of course, the thing with wings.)

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Taco Bell "Supreme"

I ate breakfast this afternoon at 1 PM at a Taco Bell. This kind of eating is not uncommon among comedians; it's probably why the average comic rarely lives past his mid 30s.

After I ordered, the person waiting on me asked "regular" or "supreme". I asked what the difference was, she said: "Supreme is the same taco except with sour cream."

I'm sure you already knew this, but I want you to think about it: according to the people who run Taco Bell, the only difference between an ordinary something and a supreme something is sour cream.

Here's what Webster's has to say about the word supreme:

"Supreme (adjective)

1. highest in rank, power, authority, etc.; dominant
2. highest in quality, achievement, performance, etc.; most excellent
3. highest in degree; utmost
4. final; ultimate"

Or... sour cream.

I realize that it's just some stupid sour cream, but I think this might be a big reason why our country has been slipping a bit in recent decades; the devaluation of our superlatives. For instance, "awesome" used to be a word that was once reserved for acts of god; now it's routinely used to describe pizza.

Advertising plays a large part in this. When you're trying to sell, you can't be reasonable. You can't say: "Mop and Glo: it'll make your floors temporarily less dirty." You have to say "Mop and Glo: It's so unbelievably awesome and astounding, it will literally knock the shit right out of your colon" or some such.

Eventually, all the good words get co-opted for silly things. You do this enough and the good words don't mean anything anymore. How can you give someone a compliment that has any kind of real resonance?

"Dr. Jonas Salk will forever be remembered for his supreme accomplishment: curing Polio."

It's not unreasonable for the average kid to think that all Salk did was take Polio and pour some sour cream on it.

God hates me...

Well, maybe not hates me, but He's certainly in a mood.

Let's pick up the story Thursday morning. I woke up at 3 AM because I went to bed the night before at 5 PM (due to my skinned-knee cornea and all).

I had a gig at 9 PM that night in upstate Vermont (like, really upstate, near where Superman keeps his Fortress of Solitude), but I couldn't leave extra early because I had 10 AM follow-up to make sure that I wouldn't be going blind any time soon. No biggie; even if I left at 10:30, I'd be in VT by 5:30 and be able to squeeze in two or three hours worth of nap time.

At 11:30, I was at exit 11 of the New Jersey Turnpike, making good time. Then, every single "you're car is about to die" light came on at once. My Jetta did everything except shout angrily in German at me. On top of that, the car wouldn't go faster than 40 MPH without making all sorts of scary noises.

I briefly considered pulling into oncoming traffic, but figured I wasn't going fast enough to ensure instant death.

I pulled over and consulted my GPS. There was a Volkswagen dealership in Linden, at exit 12, four miles away. I limped up there and explained to them my situation.

See, I needed to know right away whether I ought to get the car fixed right then or if I should get a rental car and pick the car up later. Comedians only get paid when they show up at a place at the agreed upon time (actually being funny is less important than being punctual). I had a three hour window.

The dude -- Billy, one of the nicer humans on the planet -- jumped me to the front of the line and had one of his guys look at the problem. The guy told me that my issue was one where 99.9% of the time, it was just a dirty valve. .1% of the time, there was a need to replace the entire valve, but let's not think about that until we have to.

He cleaned my valve (and yes, I realize how gay that sounds), and we test drove the car. After about 15 miles this is the exact conversation we had:

Me: "What do you think?"

Him: "It's looking pretty good. I want to do one more spin around the block."

Me (checking my watch): "Okay."

Him: "It was nice being able to help you. I was worried that we were gonna have to replace the valve. I think you're gonna be oka ---"

It was at this point that all the lights came back on again.

Him: "Shit."

(To understand that "Okay", imagine that the first syllable, the Ohhhhhhhh, came out in slow mo over the course of like twenty minutes. That really adds to the drama).

So, I needed a rental car and had already blew an hour and a half watching another man clean my valves. By the time the rental car got there, I had seven hours to drive the six hours to Vermont, made worse, of course, by the now heavy New York City traffic.

By the time I got above the traffic, I had exactly 5 hours to drive... 5 hours. That's right, no stops allowed if I was going to get there on time. Five straight hours later, I arrived at the college -- 8:57 for a 9:00 show -- and did my time. Luckily, the kids at Lyndon State College were awesome and made my job easier, but still, one day removed from a missing cornea, it was a less-than-fun experience.

Okay, enough of my rambling. I'll get back to trenchant observations about the universe tomorrow. I just had to vent today.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Too tired to post...

Hey gang, no new post today because I'm very tired. Like, Jenny from Forest Gump tired. I'll explain in a detailed post tomorrow (I've already got a title: "God hates me"), but for right now, if you need some new content, I urge you to go to head over to TV Squad, where my brand new Office review will be posting any minute now.

Hope you enjoy and more tomorrow!

(PS Thanks so much for all the kind comments, Meg and Tony. Sometimes a blog can feel like an echo chamber; it's good to know that all this stuff is actually being enjoyed by some people. If I could, I'd sing "Wind Beneath My Wings" right now, loudly, to you both!)

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Apparently, you need your cornea

Remember how I was bragging about what a great juggler of OTC medicine I was? I believe I called myself the "Elvis of Advil". I was particularly proud of that phrase because it combined three of my favorite things (apt metaphor, pop culture reference, and assonance; had it also contained peanut butter and no-guilt orgasm, it might have been my favorite thing of all time!)

I didn't quite think through my metaphor: did you know Elvis died!? From drugs!? Well, he did.

And, though I didn't die, there was about an hour last night where I wished I would.

Here's what happened, in order:

1. I got sick on Saturday.

2. To reduce the amount of snot in my sinuses -- at one point enough that Michael Phelps could have used them as a training facility -- I took OTC drying agents like Sudafed.

3. On Monday, due to a particularly rough game of Baby Wrestling, my son knocked off my glasses, snapping one of the lenses out of its frame.

4. Because of this, I took to wearing my contacts.

5. Due to my laziness, I didn't get a chance to head over to the eye-glasses place to get my frames fixed. Also, due to my laziness, I have yet to clean out the attic, write or even begin to write a novel, learn how to cook, finish learning sign language, or any other number of things that I'm sure I'll regret on my deathbed one day.

6. The combination of drying agents and continued contact usage led to a severe drying of my contact. That led to it kind of, well, fusing to my cornea.

7. Because I didn't know that the phrase "fusing to your cornea" could possibly exist in any kind of reasonable universe. I took my contact out at a 1 PM yesterday.

And holy shit. Holy. Shit.

It hurt so bad that I started giving away state secrets in the hope/fear that I was being interrogated and this was all a Vanilla Sky type creation of my brain in order to better deal with the torture. No such luck.

I went to the eye doctor and he told me that I had taken off the top layer of my cornea. With a smile: "Like skinning your knee! Except in your eye!"

He said it would stop hurting after I went to sleep because the cornea can regenerate itself in about 24 hours.

That seemed like a very optimistic assessment to me. How could something as complicated (and as goddamn painful) as your cornea regenerate after 24 hours? I can't even get a cable guy to my house in less than a week. But my eye doctor looks very smart (he has glasses and a white coat), so I trusted him.

He prescribed an antibacterial cream and sent me on my way. He mentioned that maybe I'd want to take some sleep medication to help speed along the process. Well, you don't need to tell me twice to take OTC sleep aids.

Here I am, 12 hours later. My cornea still feels a little raw, but on a pain level, it's at a 1. Before I went to sleep, it was, without hyperbole, a 313,179,993.

Take my advice kids: drying agents and round-the-clock contact use don't mix. Friends don't let friends take Sudafed while also wearing contacts.

(This all begs the question: why did the school system waste my time with an anti-marijuana curriculum when it could have been teaching me real-life skills like not wearing contacts while also taking cold and flu medication?)

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

No real update today...

But I added a bunch of stuff that should make the blog a) look better and b) actually help people to find it. Let me know what you think of the changes!

Monday, December 01, 2008

The Pick Up Artist

Have you seen the show "The Pick-Up Artist?" If not, it stars Mystery as a guy who wears a funny hat and is somehow able to magically make women want to have sex with him. He takes a group of nerds and then teaches them the mystic art of seduction. The nerd who proves himself to be most adept at learning the routines Mystery gives him is crowned "The Pick Up Artist."

I became interested in this show last year because it had the kind of "so bad it's good" vibe that you can't get from a lot of other reality TV. For as mind-blowingly retarded as, say, Flava Flav might act, on some level I think he's in on the joke. Whenever self-awareness creeps into my ironic viewing, it's time to change the channel.

Mystery, though, actually believes that his collection of magic tricks, mind reading gimmicks, cold openers, and sociobiology crib notes will somehow take these nerds to a better emotional place. It's self-help via vagina.

It's that sincerity that I find delightful in a show I want to mock. Thus, I watched last season and all this season. Curious, I bought "The Game", a book by Neil Strauss about his time with Mystery. I even went a little further and listened to a few podcasts by some self proclaimed PUAs. This is what I've learned:

1. We are all a slave to our biology. PUAs trick women into being interested in them the same way Venus Fly Traps kill bugs.

1(a). No matter how much a woman protests that those approaches "would never work on her", she's lying. The lines work because they've been brutally beta-tested by hundreds of horny men. Even my wife admitted recently that Mystery's ridiculous hat and/or boa would catch her interest if she were in a club.

"I'd ask him why he was wearing that," she said. I died a little inside.

2. Men evaluate themselves solely on how attractive they are to women. Everything a man does on some level or another is, however misguided, an attempt to attract women to them. What this show does is make naked this fact.

3. Silly hats are somehow sexy. I haven't quite been able to figure this out, but that's probably why I went dateless through four years of high school and a freshman year of college.

4. I hate clubs.

That last point is something that I didn't really need the PUA to explain to me. It's something I've known for a long time - clubs are Kryptonite for someone like me, who, if he is to have any chance with a woman, it has to come from his wit. The loud, brain-rattling thump of your average nightclub dulls all but the most routine of observation. Anything more complicated than "nice boobs!" runs the risk of being lost in the music.

Because of that, women tend to rely on sight first, thought second in those kind of scenarios. I am therefore forever second best to the silly hat and square chin brigade. Lucky I'm married (or at least, WILL be married, until my wife falls for some PUA's dumb line!)

For some reason all of these things make me depressed even as I know that they're true. It's kind of like a fat person being upset at the realities of gravity.


A note to my Cleveland fans (well, fan): I'll be back in your hometown (at Hilarities) the week leading up to Memorial Day. I'll be headlining Tuesday and Wednesday of that week, and then middling for a celebrity act (TBD) Thursday through Sunday. If you're inclined to get a group together and come on out, please let management know that you came for me. That's the kind of thing that gets me invited back!

And... I'm trying to get more readers. Honest!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Oh, and one more thing...

One of my favorite people in the world has just started a blog. If you ever get tired of my ridiculous ramblings, I urge you check it out. Check it out here! You won't be disappointed!

Ain't no sick in showbiz

A few months ago, Chris Rock was on Howard Stern. He said he knew that Artie Lange -- the lovable, self-destructive comic who is a big factor in Stern's current revival -- was back on heroin because Artie had started calling in sick to the show. Rock kept repeating, "Ain't no sick in showbiz."

He's right. It's an interesting thing since I've become a full-time comic: I don't call in sick. Ever.

I used to call in sick to my teaching job if someone sneezed in the same room as me (can't be too careful, after all). Now, I could be fighting off fever shakes with my head encased in a solid block of snot -- like I was last night -- and I'm good for two shows of 45+ minutes plus four hours worth of driving.

There's a couple of reasons for this that are probably not that interesting to the non-comic. Since my brain is currently soaked silly in over-the-counter cold and flu remedies, I'm going to go against my better judgment and list them:

1. We're contract workers. We only get paid when we show up and do our job. Teaching, which has the nice double whammy of being both a union AND government gig, pays you for pretty much everything, whether or not you actually do it. I think I got six hundred sick days a year.

2. Club owners are generally soulless. This wasn't the case last night -- the club owner is actually one of my best friends -- but it's a pretty good rule of thumb. Screw them once, there's a good chance you'll never work for them again. (Interestingly enough, it doesn't work in the other direction; club owners feel entitled to screw you repeatedly without concern that you'll stop working their club. It's in this way -- and only this way -- that club owners are exactly like hot women).

3. It's easy to talk yourself into a show. Driving isn't really that hard. Talking isn't really that hard. That's about all you have to do for a comedy show: drive, then talk. You figure that so long as you're drugged to the appropriate degree, you can get through it. If there's anybody on the planet that knows how to properly calibrate OTC medicine, it's me. I'm the Elvis of advil.

4. This is going to sound sappy, but it's true: there's a sense inside of all showbiz types that the "show must go on." Even the cynical comic types; if there's a stage, some lights and an audience, we feel obligated to put on the show, regardless of how many gallons of snot there are clogging up our sinuses.

Now, if you'll excuse me, the NyQuil is kicking in. I need to get to my happy place.

Friday, November 28, 2008


Just a quick note before I collapse into sleep:

My soon-to-be brother-in-law scored really good tickets to the Eagles/Cardinals game tonight. The Eagles won and the weather was (relatively) mild, so it was a good night.


There was a dude there dressed as a turkey. Not a turkey hat or some make-up to suggest that he was a turkey, but an actual, full blown, head-to-toe turkey costume. It looked like the kind of thing that you would rent for a Halloween party if you were one of the world's biggest douchebags. Except this guy wasn't at a Halloween party, so I'm not sure if science has a douche-richter scale comprehensive enough to contain this guy.

My buddy Vinnie Nardiello is similar to me in our unwavering hate of people who dress like turkeys or vampires or cowboys when there's no godly reason to. His theory as to why it bothers us so much is this: people who try to be interesting through their choice of clothes are compensating for their inability to actually be interesting. If you see a dude in, say, a top-hat, there's no point in talking to him; he's already done the most interesting thing he'll do all night when he picked out his top-hat.

I guess I feel the same way about those who are artificially interesting as women do about breast implants. It's cheating, yet people still fall for it. The Turkey Guy was talked to all night. I'm not sure what was being said to him, but since none of the conversations ended with the Turkey Guy being lit on fire, I can only assume that no one said what needed to be said.

But other than that it was a great Thanksgiving. I got some great pictures of my son. I'll try to post them tomorrow.

Hope your Turkey Day didn't involve a dude dressed as a Turkey.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

To my several ones of readers...

If you get the chance, check out my latest column for TV Squad:

TV 101: How beer commercials got Barack Obama elected (OR: Presidential Drinkability).

Also, if you have several million friends, please pass the link along to them. Thanks!

Does anybody else miss the Soviet Union?

Yesterday, Russian ships began a series of "maneuvers" in Venezuela. Other than the way gay implication of the word "maneuvers", the action has foreign policy types a little concerned. Assuming the world lives through this latest economic crisis, they're worried that a newly aggressive Russia, flush with petrol-dollars, might be anxious to heat up another Cold War.

I say, bring it on.

I miss the Soviet Union. As a child of the eighties, I grew up secure in the knowledge that every day we were one satellite error away from global annihilation. I knew exactly who my enemy was; it was made clear to me by movies like Red Dawn, Rocky IV, and The Experts. The Soviet Union was always there, like an iceberg: giant, cold, forbidding, solid.

Since the fall of the Soviet Union, we've been saddled with something George Bush Jr. likes to call "Islamo-Fascists" as an enemy. I think you'll agree with me that they suck, completely and absolutely.

They're the worst kind of enemy, with their weird beards and funny hats and religious fervor. Fighting the Soviets was like fighting a bear -- you always knew when it was coming at you and you could prepare for it. Fighting terrorists is like fighting a rat -- you can't see it and if it bites you, there's a good chance you'll contract some sort of disease.

I want the bear back.

Sure, it might things a little more uncomfortable for us, but look at it this way, if they make a Day After 2, at least Steve Guttenberg will get to work again. And that's something.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

My dog, the money pit

So, here's where men and women differ:

Our dog, Rudy, is a terrible dog. I got him eight years ago and essentially, his entire existence in our family has been to a) shit all over our house and b) need operations. If you were to make a pro/con list on Rudy, you would never actually get to the "pro" list -- it's like the canine version of Zeno's paradox.

As if Rudy wanted to cement his place in the pantheon of terrible dogs, he's recently decided to start growling and snapping at my son. He hasn't broken the skin yet, but it's only a matter of time.

To my male way of thinking, the best solution to this problem involves a burlap sack and a trip to the nearest rushing river. My son (and wallet!) is safe from Rudy forever and Rudy, if all the dog theologists are right, will be going to a better dog place. Problem solved.

My wife has a female brain though, and her solution is this: spend $150 to have Rudy's teeth filed down.

I tried to put my foot down last night. I really did. I had every intention of saying "No!" that we've already poured enough money, time, and effort, down the bottomless Rudy hole. The result? In four minutes, I leave for the vet.

Bah, humbug.

Monday, November 24, 2008


Here's a quote from a review of Chinese Democracy (the album, not the political construct):

A million monkeys with their million proverbial typewriters would have taken far longer to create something as good as this.

It's not a bad line, but certainly not a genius line. With the possible exception of the book Crank, it's a line that could be applied to just about any piece of art.

What annoyed me about it is the use of the word "proverbial." I decided today that I hate that word. It's a big long bit of pretension that never adds anything to a conversation.

Here's why: you use that word to denote that the phrase you're referring to is not your own, but rather some well worn piece of wisdom. ("I looked around the discount whorehouse like the proverbial kid in the candy store.") But if that wisdom is so well-worn, why would you ever need to inform the audience about it? If they already know it then they know it's "proverbial." If they don't already know it, then the phrase isn't proverbial.

The only reason to use "proverbial" then is to come to terms with your own inner cliche monitor. Writers -- especially those poor MFA bastards -- have been told in countless books and seminars that cliched phrases are bad. "Make it new!" as Ezra Pound might say between anti-Semitic rants. Thus, when the need arises for a little cliche in their writing, they balk; who's going to kiss their ass at the Writer's Conference if they're using stuff like "raining cats and dogs" in their essays?

So they cover their ass with "proverbial." Because if you say "T-Pain celebrated his appearance on Saturday Night Live by making it rain proverbial cats and dogs all over the strippers at Scores", it somehow pardons the sin. It's a big pretentious band-aide of a word.

But here's the thing: so what if there's some cliche in your writing? Sometimes, for clarity's sake, it's the best way to write. Look at the line I quoted again: you get immediately what the writer was saying. If he had gone for something a little more original ("A million yaks shitting a million different indigestible AlphaBits...") it would have looked silly and the sentence would have been harder to parse.

So there. If you're a writer that happened to stumble upon this blog, take heart: a random blogger says it's okay to be cliche sometimes. Like Dumbo, it's okay to drop the proverbial feather.

Where have I been?

Ah, kids, it's been a long month for your old pal Jay. Seriously, I think I logged approximately seven hundred million miles in airline miles over the last few weeks. Just yesterday, I received a thank you call from the president of United Air; apparently, I single handedly kept them in business during a late October slump.

But I'm home now. You can always tell I'm home because my wife is wearing her "brave smile". You can also tell I'm home because I'll be blogging more regularly!


Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Third Debate (my impression)

(continuing; beat)
Colonel, I have just one more question
before I call Airman O'Malley and Airman
Perez: If you gave an order that Santiago
wasn't to be touched, and your orders are
always followed, then why would he be in
danger, why would it be necessary to
transfer him off the base?

And MCCAIN has no answer.


He sits there, and for the first time, seems to be lost.

Private Santiago was a sub-standard
marine. He was being transferred off the
base because--

But that's not what you said. You said he
was being transferred because he was in
grave danger.

Yes. That's correct, but--

You said, "He was in danger". I said,
"Grave danger". You said--

Yes, I recall what--

I can have the Court Reporter read back

I know what I said. I don't need it read
back to me like I'm a damn--

Then why the two orders?
Why did you--

Sometimes men take matters into their own

No sir. You made it clear just a moment
ago that your men never take matters into
their own hands. Your men follow orders
or people die. So Santiago shouldn't have
been in any dangor at all, should he have,

Everyone's sweating now. Everyone but OBAMA.

You little bastard.

Your Honor, I have to ask for a recess to--

I'd like an answer to the question, Judge.

The Court'll wait for answer.

If Kendrick told his men that Santiago
wasn't to be touched, then why did he have
to be transferred?



MCCAIN says nothing.

Kendrick ordered the code red, didn't he?
Because that's what you told Kendrick to



OBAMA will plow through the objections of FOX NEWS and the
admonishments of BOB SCHIEFFER.

And when it went bad, you cut these guys

Your Honor--

That'll be all, counsel.

You had Markinson sign a phony transfer


You doctored the log books.

Damnit Obama!!

I'll ask for the forth time. You ordered--

You want answers?

I think I'm entitled to them.

You want answers?!

I want the truth.

You can't handle the truth!

And nobody moves.

Son, we live in a world that has walls.
And those walls have to be guarded by men
with guns. Who's gonna do it? You? You,
Lt. Weinberg? I have a greater
responsibility than you can possibly
fathom. You weep for Santiago and you
curse the marines. You have that luxury.
You have the luxury of not knowing what I
know: That Santiago's death, while tragic,
probably saved lives. And my existence,
while grotesque and incomprehensible to
you, saves lives.
You don't want the truth. Because deep
down, in places you don't talk about at
parties, you want me on that wall. You me
We use words like honor, code,
loyalty...we use these words as the
backbone to a life spent defending
something. You use 'em as a punchline.
I have neither the time nor the
inclination to explain myself to a man who
rises and sleeps under the blanket of the
very freedom I provide, then questions the
manner in which I provide it. I'd prefer
you just said thank you and went on your
way. Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a
weapon and stand a post. Either way, I
don't give a damn what you think you're
entitled to.

Did you order the code red?

I did the job you sent me to do.

Did you order the code red?

You're goddamn right I did.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

A late-night list of things I hate.

1. Any public event in which men dress like women (usually cheerleaders) and the people who think this is somehow clever or funny.  I'm thinking specifically of "Mr. [insert the name of your school here] events" and Halloween.  It's mildly funny to dress like a woman if you're a. Tony Curtis or b. Jack Lemmon.  It's never clever.

2. People who think that Native Americans are somehow more spiritual than any other race of people.  Yes, it's tragic what happened to them, but, they're not, you know, _magical_.  You do realize that for all their supposed "connection" to nature, they still use closed circuit cameras in their casinos, right?  It ain't dreamcatchers that they're hanging over the blackjack table, I can assure you of that.

2a. People who claim a small percentage of Native American in their ancestry as a way to garner a little of that supposed spirituality for themselves.  Usually presented like this: "I'm mostly German and Irish, with a bit of Russian in there.  Oh, and a very small part Native American on my mother's side."  They then cry a single tear for the way the White Man has polluted this planet while accepting an Academy Award for Marlon Brando.

3. People who insist on using Barack Obama's middle name as if this is supposed to mean something.  A lot of people don't know this, but John McCain's middle name is "Slobodan Milosevic Kim Jong-Il Hitler Mussolini."  Seriously, though, if you think a man's middle name has any bearing on whether or not he ought to be president, then you ought not be voting.

4.  That all human beings are cognizant of the fact that they're going to die.  I mean, one second you're having some sugar-free yogurt in the cafeteria of the Tropicana, the next you're having an existential crisis about the meaning of life.  Medical science needs to find a way to burn this out of us.  You know who doesn't know they're going to die?  Dogs.  You know who doesn't need any kind of sleeping medication?  Yep, dogs.  Think about it.

5.  People who give you poetry to read and then, when you don't understand it, they say: "Well, yeah, I mean, there's a lot of really deep symbolism in there that you kind of have to know me to understand."  Here's a little tip: if something doesn't speak for itself, _don't share it with anyone_.  In fact, if you have a stash of pornography, keep your poems in there as they're both pretty much masturbatory material.

6.  Any item of enjoyment that people claim you have to "get" to enjoy.  I'm speaking specifically of high end trendy food, weirdo movies and TV shows, and thick unread "literary" fiction.  No one ever had to explain to me why chocolate cake is good.  You know why?  Because it's actually good.  This is not to say that trendy food, weirdo movies, and literary fiction is inherently bad, just that a lot of people are pretending to enjoy them because they want to seem better than us common folk.

I've got more hate in me, but my OTC/Prescription Pill cocktail of Benedryl, Muscle Relaxers, and Melatonin is kicking in big time right now and I'm about to head to bed.  Just one last thing I hate:

7. When you're OTC/Presciption Pill cocktain of Benedryl, Muscle Relaxers, and Melatonin kills you.  More on this tomorrow... uh... maybe?

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Live from Las Vegas!

I'm in Vegas all week headlining a series of shows at the Tropicana.  (You can see my name on the Tropicana board there.  And, uh, no, that's not _my_ butt above my name.)

It's a lot of fun, but there are three main problems:

1. I'm away from my family.  I know that sounds lame, but it's been almost two weeks now and I'm pretty sure that my son's first words are going to be "Cats in the Cradle..."  I miss the spud.

2. Internet access costs $12.99 a day!  How can that be?  How can I be at a hotel where I can get a buffet of prime rib and shrimp (_shrimp_... in the desert!) for like $4.99, but high speed internet access costs almost $13?  I know it probably has to do with the casinos preferring me out of my room and gambling instead of inside of my room and blogging, but it's still pretty annoying.  Don't they know that in this economy $13 is what you'd pay for a nice three bedroom in the suburbs?

3. Speaking of the economy, I think it's hitting the prostitutes pretty hard.  I mean, I've been in Vegas before, so I've been solicited (it's impossible to be a male by himself without it happening), but this week it's been ridiculous.  Last night I walked from the Tropicana to the Mirage and on the bridge there must have been ten hookers pressing their wares to every man who walked by.  I felt like I was fighting off vagina zombies.

Before I sign off, I'd like to welcome Allison, our new reader from Vegas.  Thanks for finding the site.  I think that means I officially have four readers... let the journey towards world domination begin!

Also, Megan was curious about the new blogging venture I'm a part of.  I haven't left TV Squad -- I'll still be banging out Office Reviews for them -- but I'm also writing for a brand new site called...

It's a neat new site that I think has a great amount of potential!  Please go on over and check it out when you get the chance!

All right, I'm off to the Tropicana employee cafeteria to eat some taquitos and take a real hard look at the choices I've made in my life.  

Sunday, October 05, 2008

There is no such thing as liberals (or conservatives)

If you didn't know, "Am American Carol" was released on Friday. It's a right-wing themed take on "A Christmas Carol" with a Michael Moore-style documentarian being set straight about why he shouldn't hate America.

I haven't seen the movie, but I did read this review by William Gross over at Take a gander at the review and then read the comments: holy shitballs, do the commenters ever get mad at him! At least twenty people call Gross a "liberal" who didn't understand the "conservative" comedy that was at play in the movie. There was no chance that Mr. Gross simply didn't like the movie, his negative review had to be a function of his liberal agenda.

Hasn't this bullshit gotten out of hand? I mean, really.

Labeling yourself a "liberal" or "conservative" means allying yourself with the marketing techniques of those who profit (both financially and politically) by dividing this country. It's like rooting for "Bud Light" in the Bud Bowl, except, you know, you actually really care about the outcome of the game.

See, once you officially ally yourself with a group, it's human nature to start to look at the other group as being stupid, simply because they didn't make the same choice as you. You start to lose any kind of objectivity and begin to view everything through the lens of your politics.

And what does that lead to? Calling a blogger an elitist liberal because he didn't think a movie was funny.

I'd like to get rid of the labels. No more liberals, no more conservatives. It's too limiting. Just because you criticize the actions of our current administration doesn't mean that you're a half-terrorist who secretly hates this country. Just because you favor oil drilling and enjoy the occasional Toby Keith record doesn't mean that you're a slack-jawed moron who wants to shoot Bambi's mom from a helicopter.

Are we really so empty-headed as a society that we think that people can only fall into one of two categories?

Enough already.

Mr. Gross, should you read this (google alerts style), my bleeding heart goes out to you. As a fellow WIN blogger, I know the damage the commenters can do; substitute teachers get more respect than we do sometimes.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

No blog today!

Because I wrote one professionally.

Thursdays I blog for and soon I'll be blogging for a brand new venture (that cannot be named in public until Oct. 1). When I write for these sites, instead of giving y'all a semi-effort, I'll redirect you to those articles.

Hope you enjoy!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

A new Manifest Destiny

If you'll remember from high school history class, Manifest Destiny was essentially an excuse to kill Native Americans (and then steal their land). See, 19th century folk figured that God (or God using one of his cool nicknames, like "Providence") _wanted_ the United States to be a bi-coastal country.

Of course that's ridiculous. Any being worthy of an adjective like "supreme" would no be worried about how many oceans a newly formed country bordered.

Manifest Destiny was a clever name for a hard reality: The US was going to become a bi-coastal country either way, so we might as well acknowledge it (and do what we always do: claim that God is behind the whole thing). Arguments against western expansion were silly because anyone looking at a map -- or a population survey of the Native Americans living in the west -- could see that the US was going to expand, violently if necessary. Once that expansion was given rock 'em sock 'em name like MD, any lingering arguments -- moral or political -- dried up.

"Listen," the proponents of MD were saying, "it's going to happen no matter what and further, God wants it to happen! So, stop your whining, grab a gun, and go start killing indians! I'll be in the van."

I think it's time that we took Manifest Destiny out of the slogan closet, dusted it off, and brought it back into popular usage. There are some things that we all know are going to happen eventually and that anybody resisting those things are going to be proved wrong. Bringing them under the MD umbrella seems, to me, a wise move; doing so will hasten their acceptance and, more importantly, when people of the future look back on the early 21st century, they'll credit this blog as being the starting point for the revolution. It's a slam-dunk that somebody builds a statue of me, which, as you know, would be awesome.

Here is my proposal for the new Manifest Destiny:

1. Gay people are people. There is nothing different about them except where they like to put their private parts. The linguistic dancing people are doing now ("Civil Union!") is about as retarded as the last time tried this ("Separate but Equal!").

2. The Scientific Method isn't a "theory". It's a way of looking at the world that has led to things like the toilet, the computer, and the Mangroomer back-hair shaver. If the Scientific Method should happen to contradict your religious beliefs it's not because the Method is flawed; stop attacking it and use this crisis of faith to win some more brownie points with whatever God you're afraid you're pissing off.

3. There is no such thing as Race. In fact, in the entire classification system you'll remember from sophomore Bio, the only hard and fast rule is for species (if you can bang it and it produces a child, it's part of your species). Race and Subspecies (and indeed, the larger groupings like Family and Phylum) are all pretty much guesses based on how you look. You'll of course notice that people look different (and there should be no harm in pointing that out), but trying to classify what those differences "mean" is silly.

4. Men and women are biologically different. The most negative lasting element of 60s Feminism is the belief that men and women are completely equal in all ways. Instead of focusing all of their efforts on political equality, there was an unfathomable push to make people believe in biological equality as well. We all know this is false from the time we're two years old. We need to accept the biological differences between us (while maintaining the political equality!) and restructure our post-feminist world to best suit the needs of both men and women.

So now that I have three (count 'em THREE!) readers, I can ask for comments and not look like a crazy person. What would you add to the new Manifest Destiny? What are things that we know, in our hearts, is true (and that will no doubt be accepted by everyone in the coming decades) but that there are pockets of silly resistance to presently?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

"All I want is a guy with a sense of humor"

I often say in my act that the biggest lie a woman tells in her lifetime is that she thinks a sense of humor is a sexy thing for a man to have. I say this because if that were true my being a professional comedian should have led me to being neck deep in a poontang avalanche by now.

It gets a laugh because there's a central truth to it: I am _very_ funny and yet _very_ few of the women in the room are attracted to me. Since I'm not a hunchback, the only reasonable conclusion is that women are lying when they talk about how hot the ha-has make them.

Of course, like a lot of "truths" in my act, I'm simplifying the situation.

It occurred to me today that the problem is that there are two types of funny: the kind that turns women on, and the kind that makes me money.

I think it's fair to say that heterosexual women want from their man one thing above all else: comfort. If you talk to a hundred women and ask them the best feeling in the world, 99 of them will say it's being wrapped, snug and secure in the arms of the man she loves (the other one will say "penis... rock hard penis"). I think when women talk about "funny", what they're really talking about is "comfort".

The average dude can do comfort funny pretty easy. All you have to do is take an uncomfortable situation and make the dumbest, most obvious joke about it. "Don't worry about Sarah at the office... she's a bitch!" To which the woman giggles and says, "you're so bad!" before they fall into sloppy unprotected sex on the kitchen floor.

There's nothing original there but it makes her feel better. That's the sense of humor women want when they talk about their turn ons.

Comedians do the opposite of comfort humor. Usually what a comic does is take an uncomfortable truth, paint some happy shiny colors on it, then present it to the world. It's funny -- indeed, funny enough that if you're good at it, you can make a living doing it -- but it's not _sexy_, because it's _not comforting_.

That, I think, is why, after I have a particularly good set, I'm not mobbed by a line of willing females each more hopeful than the next that I might bestow on them a sexual experience that has come to be known as "The Jay Black 24 Second Special."

Of course, this could all be bunk. Maybe I'm just hunchback ugly and no one has had the guts to tell me...

Now I have two readers!/Clay Aiken/My economic bailout plan

So, on Monday I had one reader. By Tuesday I had two readers. I've done some conservative readership estimates based on the current trends and I think I can predict with some degree of confidence that I'll have 549,755,813,888 readers by Halloween. I'm excited because that's 100x the number of people currently living on the earth, so, you know, I'll be pretty popular. I think it might behoove me at that point to get some google ads.


Clay Aiken is gay! And... the world shrugs. I personally think the bigger news is that Clay Aiken thought that there were people who didn't know that he was gay. Seriously, you tell me which is the more surprising headline:

1. Clay Aiken gay.

2. Clay Aiken hardcore heterosexual sex tape found! Sex-crazed maniac Aiken the new Charlie Sheen says Hollywood madam who supplied Aiken with his never-ending supply of barely-legal girls!

Yeah, I thought so.


If you've been reading my other posts, you're aware that I've been keeping a wary eye on Wall Street for the last few weeks. See, for whatever reason, I've been worried since i was a kid that there might one day be another Great Depression (my other worries as a kid: nuclear war, the dying of our sun, and/or a highly contagious fast spreading super-virus killing everyone -- incidentally, I was not a very happy kid). As the world economy teeters and our leaders try to decide the best course of action by letting a monkey point randomly at 1930s economics textbook, I find myself as worried as I've ever been. For all my joking about it, I'm legitimately afraid of what the next few years might bring.

It's starting to get ridiculous. I've got a life to lead; it's stupid for me to worry about decisions that I can't control and whose impact on my daily life is hard to parse even with an economics degree. It's like worrying what Scarlett Johansen will think of my penis.

This, then, is how I plan to cope with my worry: I'm going to stop paying attention to it.

That's right, I'm taking an "ignorance is bliss" policy regarding all the world's problems. I figure, shit, if it works for our president, it's good enough for me.

From now on, no more stock ticker, no more CNBC, no more Drudge report. Further, you won't be getting any more updates from me via this blog about our impending economic disaster. So far as my brain is concerned, the only thing in this world is talking about is Clay Aiken's sexuality.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go find me a fiddle to play.

Monday, September 22, 2008

To Megan, quite possibly my only reader

Just got your comment on my God is Pro-life? post and figured I'd write you a thank you. Originally, I was going to reply to just the comment on that particular post, but I figured that would be kind of like pulling someone aside to tell them a secret in a giant, empty auditorium. It's not like anyone else is listening, right?

Thanks much for the encouragement. I've been trying to be semi-regular in updating this thing and it's nice to know that there's at least one person out there reading this stuff. For a while writing for it felt like masturbation in the truest, saddest sense of the word.

So, for you, Megan, quite possibly my only reader, I will continue this half-dead dog of a blog!

Friday, September 19, 2008

"God is Pro-Life"

I've been seeing a lot of this slogan lately. The anti-abortion crowd seems to think that just because they're more religious than the average pro-choicer, God is on their side in the abortion debate.

I'm not a religious person, so I can't claim to have any special insight into the mind of God. Just judging from His track record, however, I don't think you can say that God is pro-life. In fact, I think you'd have to say that God is pro-death.

Think about it: every living thing on this planet will soon die. In order for we humans to even live the brief time that we _do_ get on this planet, we have to engage in at least a little killing (even vegetarians need pesticide!) And, finally, if you believe George Bush Jr., the war in Iraq was God's idea in the first place.

No, God likes death. A lot of it.

Even if you make the argument that God is also responsible for life (you know, by creating it, if you're so inclined to believe that sort of thing), you can only convince me that God is neutral on the subject of life and death. If He was so in favor of keeping things alive, He never would have invented arsenic or lightening or forest fires or cancer or winchester rifles or turbulence or any other way in which people die.

So, might I humbly suggest anti-abortionists to cut it out with the whole God thing? I mean, until He communicates to me directly (through an image on a piece of toast) precisely what His feelings are with regards to abortion, I can't take your opinions on the subject seriously.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Live from the dungeons below Boston

Sometimes I'm not sure the how and the why of where I wind up in stand-up comedy.

My schedule this week looks like this:

Monday: Wooster, OH
Tuesday: Greensburg, PA (morning); Edinboro, PA (evening)
Wednesday: Sharon, PA (morning); Boston, MA (evening)
Thursday: Altoona, PA
Friday: Erie, PA

Anything look out of place?

Yeah, so, this is what happened: my agent got me into the Boston comedy festival. I agreed to it because, hey, I've always wanted to be in the Boston Comedy festival and it's a good credit feather to put in your hat. It screwed up my fairly beautiful routing, but I'm a mountain man, so I toughed it out.

Now it's after my showcase and I'm at the airport. Why? Because I have a 6 AM flight, which would necessitate a 4:30 AM arrival at the airport. That means that if I were to get a room at 10 PM, I'd be paying $200 for what amounts to 6 hours of sleep (assuming that I fall asleep instantly upon arrival in the room). I'm not paying $35 an hour for anything that doesn't end in a handjob. So, douchebag (me) decided the best course of action would be to stay in the airport for 8 hours and just "hang out." I'm currently seated across from the US Air baggage claim in Terminal B wondering if now would be a good time to start a crystal meth addiction.

I had a good time in Boston and met a lot of good guys. I plan to come back next year... unless of course, Wall Street keeps sliding towards oblivion. If things keep going in _that_ direction, I and the rest of the comics at tonight's show will be scavenging the wilderness for carrion meat. If the internet's infrastructure isn't pulled from the ground during the coming food riots, please stop by this blog next year and see how everything turned out.

The Express/AIG

I've been seeing commercials for "The Express" about Ernie Davis. It looks okay, I guess, but is anyone else having period-piece-sports-movies-with-heavy-racial-overtones burnout? I mean, I'm _against_ the Confederate Flag, _for_ black athletes getting along with white athletes, and very much in favor of kickass 60s soundtracks. This movie should be right up my alley, but I just can't help feeling like I've seen this movie a thousand times before.


The world financial markets did _not_ crash completely last night, which means that the world did _not_ collapse into a post-apocalyptic doomsday scenario. This is good news for me as I spent the night in Ohio and would not have liked to kicked off Armageddon there. You want to be home for that kind of thing.

I'm not sure what to think about the AIG bailout. Is it good? Is it just a stop-gap? I'm beginning to get the feeling that the people at the Fed don't know either. I think they've never seen anything like this market and are approaching it like I used to approach text adventures back in the 80s... random guesses. If you see Bernanke trying to spray the CEO of AIG with Grue repellant, head for ze hills.

Hopefully things will get better from here. If not, I suggest you pick up Cormack McCarthy's _The Road_. Not for entertainment purposes, but for a practical guide in how to get along in the years to come.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Apples anyone?

Just practicing for the inevitable. "Apples! Get your apples here! Tasty tasty apples."

You know how annoyed I am that I spent a night following a good show in Wooster reading thousands of words about AIG, liquidity and something called "counterparties"? Apparently the entire financial world is going straight down to shitsville and there are approximately four people in the entire world that even know why.

That's the disturbing thing about this: that people are going to lose their homes and have their lives ruined for reasons that no person on the planet can actually articulate. At least on 12/07/41 and 09/11/01 there was an enemy we could point at. This crisis might affect the day to day lives of the average American just as much as 9/11 did, but for mysterious voodoo economic reasons.

I mean, if you're gonna punch me, punch me. Don't ruin my life with financial magic.

I wrote earlier (like months earlier, but I reread the whole blog today, so it feels fresh to me) that having a kid makes you more connected to the universe and thus more scared about its outcome. God is that true. I feel it today. I was born with the idea that one day I could grow up to be anything I wanted (like professional dick joke teller or Extra pop culture correspondent), but will I be able to tell my son the same thing?

It's starting to look less likely, huh?

That's why I'm rooting for Obama this year. The Republicans dismiss him as a Hope Peddler and nothing more. Well, you know what? That's all I want right now.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Jay Black: Extra Pop Culture Commentator

So, today I started side-career #41 and had my first ever pop culture comment on Extra television. I haven't seen myself on TV yet because in Cleveland (where I'm kinda-sorta at tonight), Extra doesn't air until the wee hours of the morning.

Some highlights of the experience so far:

1. Setting up a full blown digital camera in my hotel room. Because my wife destroyed our MacBook with nothing more than a spilled glass of water (*sigh*), I was forced to film the piece using a tripod, mini-DV camera, and computer. After I did the piece, I looked at the set-up, with the camera pointed at the bed, and I realized that it looked like I had filmed a snuff film in my hotel room. I'm glad housekeeping didn't walk in by accident and start demanding where the dead hitchhiker was.

2. I got to talk to Mario Lopez (Slater) because he was hosting the segment. Do you know what this means? It means that I've gotten to appear on TV with _both_ Slater and Screech. I'm 1/3rd of the way to completing Saved by the Bell bingo.

3. With my ascension into the ranks of television pop-culture commentators, I've officially tipped the US Economy to being almost entirely run by a) the creation of pop culture and b) the commenting on said pop culture. You were wondering what followed the Information Economy? The Pop Culture Commentary Economy, that's what.

4. I got to work with my good friend, Producer Steve Sunshine. He's a great guy and I hope to do a million more of these things for him. It was a lot of fun.

If Extra hasn't aired in your neck of the woods yet and, for some strange reason you decided to check a blog that hasn't been updated in three months today, I urge you to go and watch the episode. If not, let's hope there'll be more of these for me to write about.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

My least favorite people on earth...

Okay, drumroll....

My least favorite people on earth are...

(And remember, this includes an earth with George W. Bush, Karl Rove, and the producers of "Farmer Wants a Wife")

... the subscribers to The Onion's "Personals" section.

I don't read personals as I'm married and am therefore dead inside, but from what I understand about them, they're usually reserved as a last resort for sad people desperately looking for other sad people to share their holiday depressions with. I'm fine with that. Seriously, in this world, connect with people however you can.

The Onion personals are not regular personals though. Because I read The Onion I get a daily glimpse into the kind of people who are looking for love via headshots and pithy paragraphs. Here's why I hate them:

1. They're all basically attractive people. I've yet to see one fat Onion personal, one ugly Onion personal, or one pock-marked Onion personal. Why do these attractive people need to advertise for love on the internet? It doesn't make any kind of sense to me.

2. They're all hipster-ish. Approximately 98% of the people featured in the Onion personals are wearing Buddy Holly glasses. this shatters the hipster douchebag scale established at the Hipster Summit (held back stage at a Clap Your Hands Say Yeah concert in 2007).

3. They're all desperate to prove how cool they are. One of my least favorite things is the "five things I can't live without" phenomenon, where the text accompanying the headshot is just a list of hipster douchebag essentials. I guess this is a quick way to show others insight into your alternative (yet affluent) lifestyle. Example: Five things I can't live without: The latest album by [insert obscure yet recognizable band name here], My favorite copy of Camus' The Stranger, my cat Angry Sam, my lucky fedora, and a good bottle of [insert little-known brand of Japanese soda here].

Why do these people need the power of the internet to find love? Can't they just walk into the alternative bar in whatever city they're living in and find their perfect someone to share an overpriced loft with? Why am I subjected to their artistic black and white headshots every goddamn day?

So, you know, let's do something about this. And by "do something", I mean a lazy blog entry. There, I've done MY part.

Cleveland, the environment, Kurt Vonnegut, Fannie Mae, Screenplay

So it goes.

I reread The Avclub's very excellent article entitled "15 Things Kurt Vonnegut Said Better Than Anyone Else" today. Vonnegut was the first person that made me realize that sad-eyed and cynical secular humanism wasn't something that I invented when I was 15. Apparently, he had been doing it a lot longer than I had.

"So it goes" has probably been the title of about fifteen billion livejournal posts from emo kids who "found" _Slaughterhouse Five_, so I kind of hesitate to make too much of it now. That said, it really helped to get me through the day. The mounting evidence that we might be facing the worst economic collapse of my lifetime coupled with ongoing reports that everything man has ever made is both toxic and creating greenhouse gases really got me down.

I've always been the type to worry about these things. I remember in '87 when the stock market went kablooey, I went to school the next day with a stomach ache. I couldn't understand why all the other kids weren't upset. Didn't they realize that we were all about to be turned into chimney sweeps and pickpockets by nefarious cockney ne'er-do-wells? I mean, when the economy collapses, that sort of thing happens.

Now that I have a son, the worrying is worse. My connection with the universe - always pretty tenuous - was increased against my will when he was born. I now have to not only think about myself, I gotta find a way to feed and clothe that little bastard.

It's a common complaint parents make, but god, I had no idea how powerful the emotions were.

Every day, I read more and more reports about how everything is spiraling out of control: the economy, the environment, the war in Iraq. I try to imagine what my son's life will be like. If things are as bad as the people posting on Digg and the Drudge Report make them out to be, he won't even have apples to sell when the next depression hits. If I had a nickel for every time I've shuddered at the thought at where we're headed, I might be able to buy a gallon of gas.

So, rereading Vonnegut's phrase came at a very necessary time for me. So it goes. There's nothing I can do about it, and the greatest achievement I can hope for as a human is to just accept things. I won't lie to you, I'm still scared to death, but thinking about that phrase - even saying out loud, like a prayer - helps just a little bit.

It's cheaper than drugs, I guess.

I'm in Cleveland right now working with D.L. Hughley. He's a great guy, a class act, and a hell of a comedian. It's nice working with a celebrity who doesn't act like an asshole. It's not a common thing.

(And, as a super-awesome side note, his bodyguard/manager/brother-in-law was Jaxx in the Mortal Kombat games. Yes, you read that right, I got to hang out with Jaxx this weekend. Comedy might be a scary game and I might never make it in this business, but shit, I got to meet Jaxx. That never would have happened if I was teaching still.)

The second draft of the screenplay is out and being read by the fine folks at Mandalay. Let's hope they love it as much as Brian and I do. It'll make next week a lot nicer if they do.

All right kids. I'm off to sleep.