Saturday, January 31, 2009
Friday, January 30, 2009
To meet the reporting requirements of my sponsors, allow me to get all scientific as I detail the recent progress in my life-long study of life as a balding male.
Excerpt from a paper I am forthwith to publish in the "Balding Alliance of the Leaders Debonaire (BALD) Quarterly Journal and Coupon Book."
Most mammals have dichromatic vision and correspondingly limited colour perception(1). However, the balding male is thought to possess a secondary specialized ocular function(2); namely the ability to recognize, while engaged in conversation with another of his species(3), the tiniest(4,5) increment(2,9,11) of eye movement of his partners from his own eyes to his hairline(7). To test this hypothesis, we ran tests on three subjects. The results of our studies follow:
Subject A, was our control subject. A 52-year-old male with a full head of non-graying, modestly-coiffed hair, Subject A was observed conversing on a bus with a 27-year-old female rider. The female was given the directive to talk to Subject A at a distance of 5-feet, and to shift her gaze constantly from Subject A's eyes to his healthy, beautiful hairline as often as possible, as many as 60 times per minute. In questioning the male afterwards, he was unaware that she had looked at his hair even once. (Although he confessed to having stared at her chest for the entire conversation.)
Subject B, a balding male of 31 years, was partnered in conversation with a female coworker. Communicating at a distance of 10 feet, the coworker was given the directive to shift her gaze constantly from Subject B's eyes to his hairline, as many as 60 times per minute. 31.2 seconds into the conversation, Subject B's cheeks were noticeably reddened. At 46.7 seconds his legs were noticeably trembling, and at 78.4 seconds the subject punched a wall and resorted to weeping.
Subject C, a balding male of 23 was partnered in conversation with his roommate's girlfriend at a distance of 30 feet. The female was directed to maintain consistent eye-contact and NOT to look at his hairline even once, but to THINK about the fact that Subject C's hairline was receding and would probably leave him bald in another 7 or 8 years. This experiment ended tragically when Subject C threw his test-partner from the 3rd floor deck where they had been talking, displaying strong evidence of extra sensory perception in the balding male to detect when others are even thinking about his hairline, but is another study altogether.
In conclusion, next time we have a conversation and you're distracted by my hairline, try talking to my breasts instead.(0,0)
Thursday, January 29, 2009
Need some instruction:
Just when I think it's gone, I see it pop up in some sitcom or commercial being performed horribly by some whitey in an effort to exemplify both jubilation and lameness. It was barely a good move back in the eighties, and now it is the king jack-ass move. Even if done properly, it's still laden with jack-assery.
And the swim. Luckily, besides the original by Bobbie Freeman (I'll just give the link so this post isn't clogged with videos - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bxgFwyIylHY), I couldn't even find someone doing this one on YouTube - so that is a good sign. The swim is mostly dead, but every now and again if someone mentions go-go dancing someone else will launch into the swim. If you are over the age of 10 and you are doing the swim anywhere except a sixties throwback party, just stab yourself so the last few bits of this dance can slip into the void forever.
And then there is the Pulp Fiction dance. Not the whole dance mind you, just the part where Vincent Vega slowly drags his hands in front of his face while they are in a sideways peace sign type form, and then Mia Wallace does a pseudo mirror of it. I'll call it the face blazer. It happens about 1:04 into this - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bxgFwyIylHY. *Take note that right before the 1:04 mark they are doing the swim... but it's in a 50s style diner. They should have been disqualified on the spot* This has become the lamest of the lame. If you see someone performing the face blazer it is your sworn duty as a decent human being to walk up to the dancer so your face is about an inch away from theirs and scream "STOP IT! STOP IT RIGHT NOW! YOU ARE DESTROYING SOCIETY, AND YOU LOOK LIKE A GRADE A DUMB-ASS! I HATE YOU SO MUCH, AND SO DOES YOUR FAMILY!". Then flick them on the nose and run away screaming.
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
See the end result of what writers do. Sketch comedy writers should stop watching SNL and start checking out the plethora of sketch comedy shows in Chicago. But what I also recommend you do, is go see plays. Go see what the small theaters are doing and go see what the Chicago behemoths are doing. You'll see characters diving into relationships and you'll see how great stories unfold. You'll see people doing things and taking risks that will inspire you to try things you hadn't considered.
And if you see something bad, you learn a lot about what NOT to do.
I recently saw The Goodman Theatre's Desire Under the Elms by Eugene O'Neill. I learned a lot about what NOT to do.
First off, if you check with what I say against major critics in the city, you'll think I'm crazy. I'm not. This production is a bloated whore that lays there like a turtle on its back. Why aren't critics raking this production over the coals? They drank the kool-aide. This town gets a boner for the combo of director Robert Falls and actor Brian Dennehey.
Lessons I learned...
1) Too much money can kill a play. Falls went out of his way to give the audience their money's worth in the set. It kills a very simple play. There's a huge house that takes up a third of the stage and it rises up and down, half the stage is built on a slope of boulders, there's a bed and kitchen table and a working stove that rise and sink through the floor like we're in some mad scientists castle. People "ooh" and "ahh" so much that you'd think they were seeing Wicked instead of O'Neill.
2) Shouting isn't acting. There's a lot of shouting in this play.
3) Don't pad the play. This production starts with a long, silent scene of two guys moving rocks and gutting a pig while another guy cooks bacon. It goes one forever. Worse, is a five minute scene set to a Bob Dylan tune, the whole tune, while all that happens on stage is a guy takes a bath and a woman hangs laundry.
4) Your play's two hours long straight through? Better give me a good reason why you don't have an intermission or go ahead and let me pee off the balcony.
5) If your play is titled Desire Under the Elms and characters make reference to elms, you might want to consider spending some money on some fucking ELMS! Yep. No elms in Desire Under the Elms. This was Desire Under the Levitating House.
6) If you're going to have an actor come out and play fiddle in the background for a long scene, go ahead and spring for a real fiddle player. This guy looked like he was playing "air fiddle" to a Charlie Daniels tune while drunk.
There is some good stuff happening at the Goodman during the O'Neill festival. This weekend is the last weekend for the Sea Plays presented by a Brazilian company. Good stuff with innovative staging.
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Mike Bauman - Mike is our short sketch expert who apparently receives only two television channels at his home, both of which are broadcasts from 1962. Mike and Geoff both hail from Buffalo, New York, as they drink shitty Canadian beer and seem to be proud of this fact (that they are from Buffalo, not that they drink shitty Canadian beer). Virtually every Bauman sketch can be rewritten to include references to According to Jim.
Geoff Crump - Easily the most twisted member of the group, and by a wide (right) margin. He and Nat were apparently linked before birth by a strange astral penis that they shared. He is the diametric opposite of Chris, to the point that if they ever occupied the same temporal space at the same point in time, it would result in an explosion that Geoff and Chris would argue endlessly about whether said explosion was funny (Geoff) or not funny (Chris).
Joe Janes - The Artistic Director and master mind of RvD. The Charlie to our Angels. Joe brought us all together (most of us are leftovers from the former Teatro Bastardo), nurtured us and fed us with his mind milk. He claims to have an Emmy somewhere, but we are starting to think that this was not an award, but rather a Girl Scout that he has locked in a basement somewhere. He obviously wrote a lot of stuff in the 1980’s that has never been seen, because he frequently brings it to our writers' meetings and says “Here’s something I wrote back in the 1980’s that has never been seen.”
Joe Linstroth - Joe is our writer in absentia who is currently off getting educated. He is known for writing long, languid sketches that linger with luxurious language. In other words, incredibly lurid stuff. And by lurid I mean gay. Joe is responsible for writing the single, absolutely gayest sketch in history complete with men gently caressing each other while pouring flowery speeches from their handsome lips. He can also write a mean dick joke.
Nat Topping - Nat is a bear of man. Legend has it he possesses an incredibly large penis that has mythical properties and he always finds a way to make this a relevant point in every conversation he ever has. He will on occasion even pull out this magically improvised schlong and reel it back in like a fisherman, usually to the delight of the other writers in the room. He once wrote a 14-page sketch that featured a man having sex with a tree, yet he judges others for writing scenes that features men having sex with more conventional items, like robots. He has a magnificent beard.
Catherine Monahan - Our newest and most female member. At some point last year, we decided we needed more hormones in the room, hormones that didn’t smell like beer farts. So we went to the lady store and got Catherine. She has not disappointed us. We are excited and mystified by this feminine creature, who we hope will help us think of new and more delicate ways to write better dick jokes.
Chris Othic - Possibly the most brilliant (and humble) writer in the group. He is also the organizer, mother and oftentimes whipping boy for the gang. He is known mostly for his undying love of all things Enya, providing pitchers of lemony water for writers’ meetings and giving the same writing notes no matter what the scene (too long, cut the first page, no page numbers, needs a staple). Legend has it he was a former member of the Missouri Army National Guard, but turned his back on his country when the Cold War ended because he had no place in a brave new world without a clearly defined enemy.
Greg Wendling - Greg is easily the nicest member of the group, and its most gentle lover. He generally starts out every scene with the line “Dad, I need a hug,” and somehow this is not a liability. In some alternate reality, Greg and Chris are writing jokes in a room while dangling about in a sex swing and Geoff and Nat are mocking them while eating candied almonds from a paper cone. Greg could take that last sentence and write a comic ballad about it that would make you weep with joy.
Monday, January 26, 2009
Yesterday, my lovely girlfriend and I went to the Motion Pictures Cinema and took in a viewing of the new Clint Eastwood movie entitled Gran Torino. Since then, I have not been able to get the movie out of my head.
I also have not been able to get "I Hate This Part" by the Pussycat Dolls out of my head either, which is weird because I've only heard the song twice and I hated it both times I've heard it. As you can imagine, the confluence of old, salty, wrinkly Clint Eastwood and Pussycat Dolls music has made for some interesting times in the ol' Nat noggin. Swear to God, could not get to sleep last night. Not even Nyquil could put that foolishness out of my head.
But I digress.
If you have the chance you should go see this movie, if only for the chance to see Clint Eastwood completely become the crotchety old bastard everyone knew Dirty Harry would one day become.
I would have loved to get a look at the script. It probably looks something like:
CLINT (OF WHATEVER CHARACTER NAME - TOM, THINK):
There was a lot of Clint growling. I imagine every page probably had a "Clint growls" stage direction of some type.
And the whole time, we audience members are all giddy because he's Clint Eastwood being Clint Eastwood, doing everything that you love to see Clint Eastwood do (threaten people with firearms, swear like a sailor, beat the living hell out of children). And of course, as we're all leaving, everyone's repeating "Get off my lawn!!!!" in their best Clint growl. It's like the new "I drink your milkshake."
In short, awesome.
If you are from Michigan, and more specifically from the Metro-Detroit area as I am, then you will get an extra kick out of the little details. They filmed the movie in Detroit because no city can quite capture that air of urban burned out hopelessness quite like Detroit and also because of some State incentives to promote filming in Michigan made the filming process cheap. There's a map of Lake St Claire in Clint's basement and one of the street signs clearly says Livernois.
In the very first scene, a funeral for Clint Eastwood's wife, one of his grandsons enters the church wearing a Hawaii blue number 11 jersey and I immediately leaned over to my girlfriend and whispered 'Roy Williams.'
"What?" she whispered back.
"That's a Roy Williams jersey."
"Shut up, I'm watching the movie."
Sunday, January 25, 2009
In a movie, when someone throws out the line "I think I know where she might be," eight times out of ten, she is at the cemetery. She is probably very old or, more likely, very young. And even though she can't tie her own shoes or spell her full name, she knows how to find The Town Cemetery and get there on her own. We're always left to wonder about her chosen mode of transportation, but it is usually via bike or public bus. Typically, she is found before nightfall. Sometimes she has a backpack full of flashlights.
The remaining two times out of ten, she has been on the roof the entire time.
Saturday, January 24, 2009
Think about John Cleese in Fawlty Towers. After thirty years, it's still hailed as perhaps the greatest situation comedy ever produced. Basil Fawlty's absolute incompetence in dealing with the world around him made us laugh and, maybe, made us feel better about our own lack of grace.
Think about John Cleese on the big screen. A Fish Called Wanda, Fierce Creatures, Clockwise, Splitting Heirs. Academy Award, BAFTA, and Writer's Guild Award nominations.
Think about what John Cleese's new girlfriend said to the Daily Mail: "You know, they're normally saggy down there, but he really has a nice package."
Now, try not to think about John Cleese's wang.
Friday, January 23, 2009
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Oscars Shmoscars. That’s right, I said it. I can't remember the last time I watched the Oscars, nor do I remember the last time I saw even 1/4 of the movies nominated for best picture. I think I stopped watching the Oscars after the 1997 Oscars when Cuba Gooding Jr won the Best Supporting Actor for his role in Jerry Maguire even though Ed Norton totally deserved it for Primal Fear. (side note - the entirety of Jerry Maguire is a steaming bag of poo in my opinion).
The nominations for this year's Oscars came out today and out of all of the movies nominated (and I mean for every category) I saw three of them - Iron Man, The Dark Knight, and Tropic Thunder. No thought provoking cinema for me apparently - I want action and/or comedy and lots of it.
I used to love watching important and inspiring films. Part of the problem is that I rarely go to the movies anymore. When I do go I want to see the latest blockbuster or silly comedy, while films like Doubt and Slumdog Millionaire barely make me raise an eyebrow. If I am watching movies at home I'd rather watch Beerfest for the hundredth time instead of renting the latest, greatest low budget independent film that won all the awards at Sundance (side note - Beerfest is 20 times better then Jerry Maguire).
I think my taste for movies is being directly affected by life itself. The country is in all sorts of despair and on a personal level I feel exhausted and beat down a lot of the time, so when it comes time for entertainment I'd rather have something that I don't have to think hard about and is going to lift my spirits in the process. I call it Shiny Object Syndrome. Here is an dramatization
Scene opens on Greg and Crump standing in a movie house lobby in front of two movie posters - one of Doubt, one of Iron Man
Greg: Let's go see Doubt
Crump I'm not really in the mood for that. How about Iron Man?
Greg: But Doubt tackles themes of religion, morality and authority.
Crump: Iron Man can fly!
Crump goes running towards the theater showing Iron Man, giggling like a schoolgirl the whole way.
I do want to see movies like Doubt, Slumdog Millionaire, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Milk, and the like. Problem is when the time comes that I am actually going to drag my tired carcass to the theater it's always "Oh look! Scary Movie 7 is out. Let's go!"
So I think it is high time I started stimulating my brain again. Not just with movie choices either. I can't remember the last time I read a book. Seriously. It has probably been at least three years that I have read a book that wasn't a trade or graphic novel. I read most of The Warren Report for fun at one point in my life for Christ's sake. I haven't been to a play in over a year (maybe even two). I haven't watched the news for more than 5 minutes at a time in a few years. I'm essentially cutting myself off from anything thought provoking.
If you have any suggestions of things to do that will make me think and stimulate my brain let me know. Together we can help save my brain.
Jerry Maguire sucks.