Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Anyone Can Cook

In Ratatouille, the Peter O'Toole character, Anton Ego, has a great speech about the nature of being a critic. Here is what he says:

In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face is that, in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is more meaningful than our criticism designating it so. But there are times when a critic truly risks something, and that is in the discovery and defense of the new.

This is pretty insightful and accurate.

Except in the case of Fox's new sitcom Back To You, which is a painfully unfunny new show starring Kelsey Gramm
ar and Patricia Heaton. I had an idea that I would have a weekly segment on the blog where I would watch Back To You and talk about how bad it is. Frankly, though, after watching one episode, I honestly don't think I can do it. The entire episode centered around Kelsey Grammar trying to cover up that he killed a goldfish and Fred Willard trying to figure out how to get an orange into his pants, magically. Does this sound entertaining?

So, after careful consideration, I have decided to scrap that segment of the blog. Plus, how can I be mean to my personal acquaintance and friend Kelsey Grammar? (Oh y
es, I'm confident he remembers me.)

Instead, going back to Ratatouille, I've been told by several friends that I resemble the lead human character, Linguini. Here are pictures of us side-by-side:

I don't see it. But hey, it's like hearing the sound of your own voice.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

A Casa Nostra

Sometimes you see a movie and there is a character in the movie who talks in a really cool or unique way, and after you leave the movie you find yourself talking like him/her for several hours. Just me?
Okay, well there's also the game "Mafia". And after you play it with a group of people, you find yourself thinking about the perfect strategy to win it for several days. That's what I've been doing.
If you don't know how to play Mafia, here is a pretty decent explanation from Wikihow. It has some variations I don't use often, especially that if the "Sheriff" is right about who the Mafia is, the Mafia is immediately dead. Go ahead and read it if you're not familiar because I can't really explain the whole thing in the blog.

Ah, you know how to play now? Good. Here are my thoughts:

Everyone who is Mafia has a tendency to be very quiet. This is why I tend to be a dead giveaway when it's me, unless I'm playing around people who haven't played with me before or don't know me very well. It takes an incredible amount of restraint when you're a Civilian (an "innocent" in the Wikihow explanation) to keep quiet. You know it's not you, so you want to do everything to find out who it is, meaning you're probably very loud and exuberant.

Knowing that this is the main giveaway when you ARE the Mafia (acting differently than you normally do), the key may be to act exactly the same no matter what. Just sit there stone-faced. Of course, this isn't exactly a strategy. It doesn't do anything to convince people that you aren't the Mafia. It just suggests that you act the same way every time and are therefore just as suspicious as anyone else. There has to be a better strategy.

I've come up with it. A brilliant strategy that will make you lose at first, but if you're playing long enough, will give you a remarkable victory. By the way, if anyone reads this whom I will be playing with soon, forget everything I'm about to say. I totally won't be doing it.

Here it is: You're likely to be an Innocent for a round or two. This is good. Act however you normally would as an Innocent. Yell, jump around, whatever. But, remember what you're doing and how you're acting.
Then, when you finally become Mafia, be a dead giveaway. Sit quiet, shift your eyes, act totally suspicious. If they pick you and you lose, no big deal. Everyone will have a good laugh. Whatever. Keep playing the game.
The next time you're Mafia, don't be a dead giveaway. Jump around, yell, whatever you do every time you're an Innocent. But you have to sell it. Don't hold back. If your usual tactic is to accuse the same person, accuse that person. Everyone has already seen what you do when you're Mafia, so nobody will suspect you. It's all about being a good actor, but only after you've made everyone think you're terrible.

Game, set, and match.

And...just to show you all I haven't lost my touch...

Monday, September 17, 2007

Not To Be All Dave Barry, But...

You know what's fun? Anagram generators. I usually use this one. Here's what you do:
#Think of some celebrity you want to make fun of.
#Type their name in the anagram generator.
#Then see what funny anagrams there are!
Sometimes you don't get any funny ones, though! I typed in Britney Spears and one of the better ones was "Best In A Sperry". That would be hilarious, if only "Sperry" meant "bourbon-reaking mobile home". No, apparently "Sperry" is the name of the guy who invented the gyrocompass.
Other possibly funny ones:
I Try Bean Press
Press It Nearby
(this next one is cruel, possibly):
Barren Yet Piss
(and I think we have a winner):
Try Beer, Pin Ass

There may actually be other good ones. I didn't go through all 5,908. And, just for the record, I don't really have anything against Britney Spears. I just figured her name had enough letters, and there were likely to be some funny combinations, considering her reputation.
Unfortunately, you can only fit in 16 letters at a time on this one, so I can't even do Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. I honestly wanted to try his name. But now it's just an excuse to put in this picture of him.

Doesn't he look like a fun guy? Such a publicity hound, though. Probably a nice guy to have a beer with. Unless he finds out I'm a Jew Atheist. That's an idea rife with comedy! I smell a Fox sitcom with me and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad living in an apartment. It's called "Nuclear Family". more just for fun.
Let's try Ann Coulter:
(Note: You may see four letters in "Ann Coulter" that you may think perfectly describe her. However, amazingly enough, none of them really fit into a distinct thought, and the anagram generator omits those anyway, so I have as well.)
These first few make little sense:
Not Nuclear
Noun Cartel
No Rent UCLA
Corn Nut Ale

These next few are getting closer:
Cannot Rule
Cannot Lure

Ah, here it is:
Real Con Nut

Funny, how that works out sometimes.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore

I was trying, tonight, to think of what the Funniest Joke Ever is. I went to one of those online joke sites where users rate the jokes. Now, I'm not saying that people don't know what "funny" is, but this is the Top Rated Joke on the site:

A crowded Virgin flight was cancelled after Virgin's 767s had been withdrawn from service. A single attendant was re-booking a long line of inconvenienced travellers. Suddenly an angry passenger pushed his way to the desk. He slapped his ticket down on the counter and said, "I HAVE to be on this flight and it HAS to be FIRST CLASS".

The attendant replied, "I'm sorry, sir. I'll be happy to try to help you, but I've got to help these people first, and I'm sure we'll be able to work something out." The passenger was unimpressed. He asked loudly, so that the passengers behind him could hear, "DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA WHO I AM?"

Without hesitating, the attendant smiled and grabbed her public address microphone: "May I have your attention please, may I have your attention please," she began - her voice heard clearly throughout the terminal. "We have a passenger here at Gate 14 WHO DOES NOT KNOW WHO HE IS. If anyone can help him find his identity, please come to Gate 14."

With the folks behind him in line laughing hysterically, the man glared at the Virgin attendant, gritted his teeth and said, "Fuck You!"

Without flinching, she smiled and said, "I'm sorry, sir, but you'll have to get in line for that too."

Ok. Clearly not funny. Made even unfunnier by the fact that the joke is passed off as a true story. How is this the top-rated joke on any website?

This joke was labeled in a BBC article as the funniest joke ever:

A couple of New Jersey hunters are out in the woods when one of them falls to the ground. He doesn't seem to be breathing, his eyes are rolled back in his head. The other guy whips out his cell phone and calls the emergency services. He gasps to the operator: "My friend is dead! What can I do?" The operator, in a calm soothing voice says: "Just take it easy. I can help. First, let's make sure he's dead." There is a silence, then a shot is heard. The guy's voice comes back on the line. He says: "OK, now what?"

Really? The funniest joke ever? It's slightly funnier than the last one, but still not great. So, if anyone out there can remember the funniest joke they've ever heard, post it as a comment. I'm having a hard time thinking of any right now. Perhaps this is because of the nature of comedy. Once you've heard or seen something funny once, it becomes less funny each time you hear or see it again, as the element of surprise is gone.

Speaking of surprising, I just came upon this clip of a talking bird. I remember this very clearly, as I was backstage watching when it was filmed. I was a Production Assistant on "Pet Star" several years ago, and apparently this clip has stood the test of time.

Ha ha! Non-stop hilarity.
Did you find that as funny as those three minor celebrities?

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Sunday, September 9, 2007

The Arcade Fire

Last night I went out with some friends I don't see terribly often. They had the idea to go miniature golfing in Sherman Oaks, so I said sure. When we got there the line to play mini-golf was around the block, so we decided to just wander around the arcade area for awhile.

Inside the arcade, it's your normal assortment of racing games, shoot 'em ups, and Dance Dance Revolution. Except....right there, in the middle of the room, was the Deal Or No Deal Arcade Game. If you haven't seen Deal Or No Deal, here is how it works. There are forty suitcases. One of them has 1,000,000 dollars, one of them has 1 dollar, and the rest have amounts in between. The contestant chooses a suitcase and then they open up the remaining suitcases one at a time. Then, the "banker" (this shadowy guy up in a booth that everyone hisses at as if he was running a Puppy Prison up there) makes an offer to the contestant based on what is likely to be in his case. The contestant then chooses Deal or No Deal to decide whether he/she will take the offer or go for the 1,000,000 dollars. The entire show is just one extended 4th grade probability word problem.

Anyway, the Deal or No Deal arcade game consists, completely, of a giant screen with scantily clad women holding cartoon suitcases, and two buttons. One says Deal, the other says No Deal. You put in something like two dollars to play this game, and get this: If you hit Deal, the game is immediately over. Because you've accepted the Deal! So, not only does this game have no action or interactive playability, but it doesn't even have any critical decision making whatsoever! Your entire job is to sit there and hit the No Deal button. That's it.

Which brings me to what I saw last night. The guy playing the Deal Or No Deal arcade game was a large white man with a goatee, a Red Sox cap and a Red Sox Jersey. He essentially looked like Larry the Cable Guy.

Okay, so this guy is playing the Deal Or No Deal game, and he is really really into it. He sits on this stool, stroking his chin intently, lowering his eyebrows at this, apparently, diabolical torture apparatus in front of him. Occasionally, he even stands up and paces in front of the machine, ignoring the families standing a few feet behind him, waiting to play this glorified Coin Flip. Of course, all he ever does, after this endless filibustering, is press the No Deal button.

You may be wondering what you can actually win in this game. Instead of money being in the suitcases, each suitcase says something like "20 Tickets". You know those tickets you exchange at arcades for prizes? I think the grand prize in the Deal Or No Deal game is something like 400 tickets, which, at Sherman Oaks Castle Park, I believe you can exchange for either a thimble full of honey, a thumbtack, or a dead bee.

Anyway, he's furrowing his brow at this thing. Beads of sweat dripping onto his hands. He's down to about four suitcases left. This man has obviously been there all day. He's going to conquer this machine, it's clear. His hands hover over the buttons and he cringes as if they make him sick, like Alex in A Clockwork Orange. He lets his left hand drop, he raises his right, and slams his palm down on the No Deal button. This is the next thing I hear:

"Goddammit motherfucker!!"

I look up and he is on his feet, slamming his fist down on this poor, pathetic machine, kicking the stool out from under him. He takes off his hat and flings it, helplessly, onto the floor. The next moment is one of those times when you realize you've just way way overreacted, like when you rent a DVD and it keeps skipping and you almost rip the thing out of the wall and go nuts rubbing the underside of the disc on your shirt.

Anyway, he finally realizes that everyone is looking at him, picks up his hat, and skuttles away. I won about 12 tickets playing Ski Ball and traded it for three paint chips.

Thank you Sherman Oaks Castle Park.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

I ramble on like a Macaca...

So John McCain is in a tiny bit of hot water because he called some kid a little jerk. Now he has to spend the next several weeks trying to explain the comment and weasel around it and pretend that he never has negative thoughts about anybody, ever. I'm not a big fan of McCain, but I always defend something like this. I even defend Jerry Lewis when he blurts out the F-Word (the other f-word).

Because things like this happen to me all the time! Not quite as bad as calling someone an f-word or a "little jerk" even, but I get in tons of trouble, have to apologize profusely, and then (and this is the worst part), the offended party totally misses the joke!

Years ago I'm in a store with my girlfriend at the time. We're walking around and I think I had to buy an external hard drive or something. She sees one of those dogs with the scrunched up little faces that look like its eyes have just sunk into its head.
She says: "Aww, that's so cute! I love little faces like that!"
I say: "Me too! Why do you think I'm with you?" (I gesture at her face)

Okay...I know what you're thinking. In hindsight, the benefit of the joke was not worth the having to apologize for 4 hours. Plus, it's not even that funny. I could see if the joke was really really funny, it would have been easier to smooth over.
(Note: I have a similar, longer story to this one involving a funnier joke, but since the bulk of the people reading the blog have heard it, I will refrain for now).

The point of the above story, however, is that of course I didn't mean it! How could I have meant it? There must be some cursed gene I have that makes me not think about the consequences of words before I speak (or write) them. Same gene that Michael Richards and Jerry Lewis have. Now, to be fair in my generalizing, I will come right out and say that I exclude people like Isaiah Washington, Bill O'Reilly, George W. Bush. Those people are, respectively, a homophobe, a total schmuck, and some sort of unnatural, word-stumbling, snickering cyborg. These people do not get excused as easily, because they either have significant time to choose their words, or it's clear that they really mean what they are saying (France Boycott? I think he was serious about that...)

Anyway...the brevity has slipped away right now. What was I trying to say?

Oh yeah, everyone who reads my blog is a little jerk. No...wait a minute....

Monday, September 3, 2007

Are you ready for some slow statistical aggregation?

First thing's first. My friend Lelah has a blog, and she has been kind enough to reference Country Caravan to send her readership over here (Hi, Dylan). She has cleverly taken a picture of just her nose and mouth in order to remain inconspicuous to potential hordes of adoring fans. For some reason, I'm not as worried about that. (see picture)

Anyway, I'm in a Fantasy Football League at Mahalo. Here's how it works. 12 of us get together and hover over computers for an hour and a half to choose what we think are the players that will be the most productive, statistics-wise, over the course of the season. We frequently get frustrated and yelp and stomp our feet like pre-historic monkeys when other "General Managers" take the players we had wanted on our team. We ignore the fact that these wealthy, professional athletes would likely want nothing to do with us, even if we did own professional sports teams, and would probably only allow us into their homes if we were shooting their episode of "Cribs".

The Football Season starts this Thursday, and then things will really heat up. We will stand about five feet in front of the television and scream expletives at nobody in particular, oblivious to any events surrounding us, even if those events could seriously affect our lives (i.e. fire, being evicted, sibling dying, etc.) It will sound like the Klingon language to the uninitiated. Here is an example: "Calling a draw on third and fifteen with 1:06 left and Palmer having the kind of game he's having?!? GAAHHH!!!!"

There are penalties for those who cannot adequately finish off the season. There are no exceptions for not giving one's complete attention to the weekly roster.
"Your sister is getting married? Don't make me laugh."
"You accidentally cut off your finger and have to rush to the hospital immediately for reattachment? Go to hell."
"You spoke to an actual girl last week and are going to have coffee with her? I have no son."

I will, of course, keep my avid readership up-to-date on my ranking in the Kokua Football League.

Sidenote: I'm about to go buy a blender and am doing some serious research on Smoothies. Happy Labor Day.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

A Free Idea For StumbleUpon

I think StumbleUpon is probably the best of the discover/tagging/bookmark sites. If you haven't used it and you're reading this (Mom), StumbleUpon is a social bookmarking site that shows you new, unique, and interesting websites tailored to your interests. How does it know what sites are good? Because, ordinary people "tag" a site when they like it. The more tags something gets, the more likely it is to show it to you, I think. The coolest part of StumbleUpon, and what distinguishes it from something like or Digg, is the "Stumble" feature that you can install as a toolbar in your broswer. I click "stumble" and it takes me to some random page in one of my pre-selected interests.

I just clicked Stumble, and out of the blue it took me to this really awesome site I've never seen before, with interactive Fridge Magnets. Great idea, very simple, and I haven't seen it done before.

Just clicked it again, and it took me to this SEQL page, 100 Ways to Save the Environment
A little hippie-ish, but hey, I'm the one who clicked Environment under my interests.

Anyway, StumbleUpon's awesomeness gave me an idea for a great podcast/Tv Show/YouTube Meme Nonsense video.
What if every week, StumbleUpon (and Fox/CBS/HBO/Whomever) picked three of these out-of-the-blue pages that nobody would usually see, and did a 7-10 minute segment on each? Go and see the developers, maybe act out on some of these environmental recommendations and see if they work. Do a bit where you take the guy who created Charlie The Unicorn and dare him to do a 10-minute stand-up bit and see if he gets any laughs. (If the guy who created C the U actually is funny, I'll issue a full retraction).

The whole thing can be hosted by Ryan Seacrest or Bob Saget or whoever is available. And here's the clincher. Weekly guest appearances by Sammy Stephens!

Again, I have not registered this idea with any writer's guild. The StumbleUpon guys and gals can get on this finder's fee necessary.

One more thing: Just in case you were wondering, I promise here and now that I will not embed Flea Market Montgomery into the blog more than once a week.

[deep breath] This isn't going to be easy....

A Good Blog Name Is Hard To Find

I had the idea that the title of my new blog was a make or break decision. Everyone wants to have the best blog title, band name, fantasy football team name (mine is Johnny Hive and the Upstart Five...also not great). Here was my process for deciding:

My first instinct was to choose a song title or lyric that would be suitably ambiguous, but that people in the know would recognize, and thus think I'm quite cool.

I chose the phrase "Also a Tin Teardrop" from Captain Beefheart, but thought it sounded too hokey after careful debate. Then I got a brilliant idea. Candy Colored Clown. It satisfied several criteria:
1) Suitably ambiguous for people not "in the know".
2) References both a classic song and a classic film (if you don't know what either are, I know several people who would not be your friend).
3) Pleasant sounding enough that I could deal with it for several months/years if necessary.

Wouldn't you know it? Some thoughtless cretin already took the Candy Colored Clown name from Blogger! And this is all he's doing with it??

Suitably discouraged, I flipped through the 'ol iTunes library and found something simple, not terribly funny, and hopefully indicative of the scattered nature of the coming posts. It's from a Blitzen Trapper song. I will attempt to embed it here in the blog, along with N.W.A and Eazy-E's "Eazy-Duz-It", just so I don't look like a hippie or anything.
Internet Savvy!!

Much thanks to Julia and the How-To Crew over at Mahalo, who made this process extremely simple with the following page: How to Set Up a Blog
Full disclosure: I work at Mahalo. I love it, but I'm not making this blog just to promote it. Happy, Winer?

I will also be trying to drum up support for a unique screenwriting contest I am starting soon. Details to come on that...

Also, I will attempt to design this page a little better to remove from it all notions of Splogginess.

The End...?