Even with the incessant and thorough coverage of today’s inauguration, its importance can’t be overstated. The only thing it was missing was Obama escorting Bush into his helicopter with a big goodbye boot to the ass.

Right now I am anxiously awaiting for the Red man to get ahead, man.


What a blessed way to celebrate this festive Jewish holiday…Toronto Bodybuilder Eats 47 Latkes, Sets Record. The article says the previously held record for the number of potato pancakes eaten in one sitting was 29, which surprised me. As someone who has eaten potato pancakes (Jew) before, I honestly would have guessed the previous record was two and a half or three. Eating 47 potato latkes is one of those kinds of contests where the winner is the loser.

On a related subject, last night I watched part of a Discovery Channel special on the science of morbid obesity. It was fascinating in that “I just watched someone eat 47 latkes” kind of way. There were a number of interesting facts about morbid obesity, including this one: because of their unusually heavy load, morbidly obese people make their vehicles 10-20% less fuel efficient.

Another interesting fact: this Discovery Channel television special probably exhausted every piece of b-roll footage in existence of fat people shot from behind and below the head, waddling around shopping malls and amusement parks. They even had that rare footage of a fat person on an assisted-mobility scooter, stretching for a box of cookies on a high supermarket shelf. (That clip actually won a Rollie Award in 2006, for Outstanding Achievement in Padding Out a Human Health & Nutrition Local News Package.)

I found myself incredibly sympathetic toward the central “character” of the special — a man who weighs over 500 pounds and, after several failed attempts at diet, is preparing himself for last-resort gastric bypass surgery. He seemed like he was really struggling with his weight, and clearly came from a family where food = love. Apparently, crash dieting is often a terrible and unsuccessful strategy for the morbidly obese because, as that sized frame begins to quickly shed pounds, the body goes into a kind of state of shock and begins producing extra hormones to increase one’s appetite in order to help return to an “equilibrium weight.” (Which, in the case of someone who was morbidly obese, is much higher than the average person.) Learning about the science of obesity honestly gave me a new perspective on people who make the decision to have gastric bypass surgery. It is not so much of a cop-out as it is a final, desperate act to live a normal, less wheezy life.

However, I must confess my compassion toward the gastric bypass candidate waned a bit during the footage of the “going under the knife party” thrown by his family. (After this party, he would have to go on a four-day clear liquid diet to help empty his body, since morbidly obese people often have 20-30 pounds of toxic, undigested food in their digestive systems at any time.) Rather than regard this as a turning point in his life, the patient saw the party as his “last hurrah” and piled high plate after plate of oily Central American snacks, devouring everything with giddy delight. I realize the producers of this special wanted me to see how tortured this guy is by his own tremendous appetites, but I will forever be haunted by the image of him ladling barbecue sauce on a plate devoid of vegetables, while sing-speaking, “ooh…this is yummy yummy yummy for my tummy.” It’s one thing to give in to your weaknesses on camera, but did you have to write a children’s rhyme about it? I guess I just didn’t expect to hear the words “yummy” and “tummy” on the lips of a man who was precariously close to eating himself to death. I sort of expected that when morbidly obese people binge, they are more likely to say things to themselves like, “oh, fuck, what the fuck is wrong with you, man?” or “oh, jesus christ what the fuck am i doing oh god i can’t stop eating and crying and eating and pooping and crying.”


By now anyone who obsessively studies weekend box office returns with nothing personal to gain from the experience knows that the animated film, Delgo, went on record as having the worst opening weekend in the history of American cinema. (According to receipts, it averaged approximately two tickets sold per showtime.)

Perhaps the studio was to blame for choosing to open Delgo on over 2,000 screens without spending a single dollar marketing or advertising Delgo beforehand. Or perhaps you could blame this unprecedented bomb on the fact that Delgo was animated by a studio no one has ever heard of, or the fact that the movie deals with racism in some clunky and convoluted way that somehow involves lizard creatures. OR maybe it was simply because the title of this animated film is Delgo. DELGO? That sounds like the title of an obscure and sweet little Italian film about a unique young boy coming of age (i.e. masturbating on or with something crazy, like a piece of knitting or a freshly caught trout) in Sicily during WWII.*

I guess my point is, if one were to write an article about Delgo’s massive failure on opening weekend, there are a number of angles with which to approach the story. Delgo had a lot going against it, honestly, which makes it very curious that Yahoo! decided this was the best headline to run: FREDDIE PRINZE JR. MOVIE BIGGEST BOMB EVER.

I want to say, “way to throw Freddie Prinze Jr. under the bus, Yahoo” — mostly because I really want to get in on this whole “throwing X under the bus” phenomenon that’s been going around lately. However, it might be more accurate to say, “way to leave Freddie Prinze Jr. under the bus where he’s been for almost a decade, but then point and shout ‘Hey look, it’s Freddie Prinze Jr. There, under the bus!’ loud enough for everyone to hear, Yahoo!”

For all of Delgo’s obvious shortcomings, why go after Freddie Prinze Jr? It’s not as if Delgo was his personal vanity project. His Postman or Battlefield: Earth or The President of the United States of Meshuggenah. (That is the working title of my vanity project about our country’s first Jewish President whose mother comes to live with him in the White House to make him feel ashamed of his bowel movements.) To my knowledge, Delgo was not a Freddie Prinze Jr. vehicle. There were plenty of other actors involved, some of whom do not have the “Prinze Jr. Stink” all over them. Also, it’s an animated film, a genre where the voice actors are usually the last thing to blame for the film’s failure. I haven’t seen Delgo, and maybe Freddie Prinze Jr. insisted on playing his role live action, in which case the blame could fall squarely on his horrible shoulders. But I don’t think there is actually a single frame of Delgo in which Freddie Prinze Jr. is recognizable.

Which leads me to wonder, Yahoo, how did Freddie Prinze Jr. hurt you? Did he refuse to answer questions from Yahoo at his red carpet premiere of Wing Commander? Maybe he spied that “.com” on your mic, held up his hand dismissively, and told your correspondent, “Sorry, I don’t do Web press.” Did he bail on a live online chat? Did he refuse to cross-link? WHY ARE YOU SO HURTFUL TOWARD ONE OF OUR NATION’S COMEDIC TREASURE’S SONS?

I guess, mostly, I’m just disappointed that Yahoo has lowered itself to the ad hominem attacks that are the mark of so much entertainment journalism these days. Yahoo, I thought you were earnest, like and not nasty, like I thought you were better than this but I have to say, Yahoo, you really let me down — kind of like Freddie Prinze Jr.’s wooden voice acting work let Delgo down.

*This kind of movie usually has a scene where a soldier gives the boy a deck of nude lady playing cards and then, later, the little boy sees a neighborhood lady in her bra through a keyhole or fence knot and masturbates in his bathroom, and then is caught in the act by his obese grandmother. It’s the kind of movie you see a preview for in art house theaters and the only dialogue in the preview is various characters shouting “Delgo” at different moments in the film, because it is the only dialogue most English-speaking audiences can understand.


This season’s Top Chef has the distinction of having the contestant with the deadest eyes (Jeff) as well as the contestant with the craziest eyes in the history of the show. (Carla)

I wasn’t able to find any photographs online of Jeff speaking directly to the camera, because he is a dracula monster whose filmed image disappears at sunrise. I can, however, tell you this: hearing Jeff speak of his passion for cooking in that uninflected, unblinking robo-speak is exactly like watching an imprisoned serial murderer detachedly recount the grisly details his crimes. Jeff is Top Chef’s B.L.T. Killer. (HUGE APPLAUSE) He’s the Hannibal Lecter of cooking things that aren’t people’s faces. (STANDING OVATION) He’s John Wayne Gravy! (DEVELOPMENT DEAL WITH NBC) The Zodiac Griller! (ENOUGH! OK? ENOUGH!!) Jeff has dead eyes.

But even if Jeff were talking about preparing a meal with fava beans and a nice Chianti (an incredibly obscure film reference – METACRITIC IT!) it would not be nearly as scary as his ocular opposite, Carla:

Oh man, quit it. If eyes are indeed the windows to the soul (I made that up but it has an inherent truth to it, no?), then Carla’s eyes should have iron bars on them and be made up unbreakable plexiglas just in case Carla’s soul tries to smash its head against it. Also, Carla’s soul should have its shoelaces and belt confiscated. There are other jokes I could make but, seriously, mental illness is a real disease and diseases are not funny. (With the exception of Spina Bifida, which is only funny in name, and not at all funny in many other ways.) Carla has an intensely nervous energy. She actually seems to vibrate when she speaks. At one point in the last episode, one of the judges mentioned that Carla made her uncomfortable when she was giving an on-camera cooking demo. I wonder what could have made her uncomfortable? Was it the fact that Carla was having a little trouble finishing her demo on time? Or maybe it had something to do with her being a six-foot eight electric eel in a fright wig whose eyeballs are so large they press up against the lenses of her glasses? Seriously:



I would just like to take this moment to wish everyone a perfectly great Halloween and, in case I don’t get to see you tonight, let me tell you right now how much I love your Mad Men costume. Great suit! Great skinny tie! And wait a second, is that a part in your hair? Kudos on your attention to detail. The drink in your hand was also a nice touch at this holiday party with an open bar. Thanks for doing your part to keep away the ghouls.

(I just hope I’m the only one at the party tonight dressed as this.)


As you may have heard already, another in-the-works plot against Barack Obama’s life was foiled. (Hey cops, where were you when Jessica Tandy was murdered?) We’ve already seen the photo of a spooky skinhead teenager with a Swastika tattoo and Kevlar vest, brandishing a rifle, because it’s been thoughtfully published by every single news source in America, including Backstage Magazine. I realize when this kind of image rears its head, our news media has a responsibility to publish it–preferably in color, as large as possible, and beneath a headline written in that type face that looks like the letters are dripping vampire blood–but I can’t help but think there’s something really irresponsible about the way this story was run.

I’m not talking about the fact that this is the sort of incendiary news that
could make some on-the-fence voters think twice about voting for a Presidential candidate they worry might be targeted for assassination. Or the possibility that this kind of story could give other, less creative types a similar idea. No, I just think it was incredibly irresponsible of our national news media to sit for several days on this important detail from the story:

“Both individuals stated that they would dress in all-white tuxedos and wear top hats during the assassination attempt…”

WHITE TUXEDOS AND TOP HATS??!!?? Why wasn’t this mentioned the moment this story broke? Why wasn’t this the headline in every single article, and the intro in every single TV news package? So many possibilities. The mind reels:


Everything you need to know about that story–the psychology of the criminals, the level of planning that went into this plot, the likelihood of its success–is right there in that statement. (from The L.A. Times) And, as if you now needed more proof that these guys were probably not going to get around to pulling off their idiotic killing spree, how about this? According to this article, the teens were also planning on wearing their white tuxedos and top hats while driving very fast in their car (presumably on the same road as Barack Obama?) and then shooting at Senator Obama from their car windows. In top hats. While blasting Taco’s “Puttin’ On The Ritz” from their car stereo. (OK, I made up that last part. OR DID I?)

Also, it’s possible this incident might have raised some local suspicion:

On Oct. 22, the men bought food, rope and two ski masks from a Wal-Mart in Brownsville, Tenn.

(Fellas, every criminal worth his salt knows if you’re going to buy a pair of ski masks and rope, split up. One guy buys the rope, another guy buys the ski masks. You don’t want to send both of those items down the Wal-Mart conveyor belt at the same time. It’s like buying condoms and chloroform. At least throw some stuff in there to get them off the scent, like Twizzlers or a duck call. Truly a bush league mistake.)

This is one of those rare instances where I wish the would-be perpetrators had just a tiny bit more time to work on their assassination plot before being caught. I’m not suggesting they should have kicked off their crime spree. I just wish they’d had time to rent their tuxedos and top hats and taken a few photos. Besides being just fantastic, I think it would give the American public a more accurate understanding of exactly how viable this assassination threat was if, instead of seeing a giant photo of a muscular skinhead in a bulletproof vest, we saw this:


Here is exactly what I think people picture when I tell them I perform stand-up comedy:

You don’t need words or video to know that audience member is going to be jerking that steering wheel/dog frisbee very hard, very often and very hilariously in order to suddenly avoid imaginary things in the imaginary road, as announced by that Dress Barn sales associate holding the microphone. (“Look out! It’s Lorena Bobbitt and she’s holding a pair of hedge clippers!!”)


my bloody valentine - roseland, nyc - 9.22.08

Attended/survived my first My Bloody Valentine concert on Monday night. I remember, more than ten years ago, my friend Chris told me about seeing this band on their final tour. (at Tramps, I think. I miss that venue.) He said the show’s finale was what seemed like a full 45 minutes of sonic thunder and feedback so punishing it caused a gradual audience exodus until, at the very last screech of guitar feedback, the previously packed venue was about about 1/10th full.

The show at Roseland on Monday night was amazing. It was beautiful and brutal. I can’t think of another show I’ve attended where the music was so present it really just occupied all of your peripheral senses. It was impossible to avoid. When the band played their final song, “You Made Me Realise” [correction: stephanie. i am an old man!] the controlled noise was so loud and dense and everlasting–maybe 15-20 minutes in all–I honestly thought I was going to throw up a couple of times. I have tried to describe this to friends without giving them the impression it was a bad experience–it was anything but–and it’s really difficult. The best thing I can liken it to is this: it was like the sonic equivalent of the opening of the Ark of the Covenant at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark; you had to try your very hardest to not listen closely to the music, because doing so would make your bowels liquefy and your brain burst from your skull like JiffyPop. I knew we were in for something intense, based on Chris’ story, various articles I’ve read about the bands recent live shows, and the fact that as the last song began all of the sound booth technicians donned those industrial headphones you sometimes see air traffic controllers or NASCAR pit crews wearing.

When the lights came up, I looked around and saw nothing but quiet, dazed expressions. Exiting the venue, I honestly had a hard time walking–during the finale, I could feel the notes whipping through my clothes and shaking my eyeballs around inside their sockets. It was more like a Six Flags ride than a concert. People were giggling in that way you do after traveling through 14 corkscrews forwards and backwards.

The best part, though, was about 14 minutes into the finale, I looked over (I had my eyes closed most of the time, because the light show was so disorienting—great for MBV’s epileptic fans) and saw some dude texting on his Blackberry. Yes, even a sensory experience that overwhelming cannot compete with the raw power of narcissism. Consider yourself blogged, Blackberry guy!

[Addendum: not surprisingly, people have been posting excerpts from the concert’s final conflict on YouTube. Here are just a few minutes. Ideally, these should be experienced with your eyelids propped open, like A Clockwork Orange.]


It’s that rush of adrenaline:

(If this photo had a caption, it would be “last known photograph of a now-extinct, long obsolete form of entertainment known as ‘stand-up comedy’.”)


I had a huge crush on Robert Smigel’s TV Funhouse. Not to be confused with the animated stuff he does on SNL–which is also usually very funny or at least very envelope-shoving–the TV Funhouse television series was an insane satire of children’s shows like Bozo The Clown or Howdy Doody. It featured a human host (usually dressed like a cowboy) interacting with a bunch of very cheap-looking animal puppets called The Anipals on a bright and colorful set. In between their interactions, they’d show cartoons (similar to the SNL stuff), short films, and Mr. Rogers-style field trips to places like a cookie factory and a sperm bank.

All the studio stuff was really funny and crazy, but my favorite thing about the show was its inclusion of live animals in many of the sketches. That’s what made me love the show so much, and is probably why it didn’t last more than a season. (The logistics of attaching a tiny pink bow to an iguana’s head or getting a cow to eat a steak in their “Sames” restaurant sketch must have been pretty awful on the show’s budget and its producers.) I really admired how much Smigel seemed to appreciate the humor you can mine from an animal without doing anything but letting it be itself in a super-weird environment, like in that Sames sketch or the animal testing lab sketch. So. Good. I wanted it preserved forever, like a pretty lady in a glass jar. And, finally, as of yesterday it is because TV Funhouse was just released on DVD. Tell Netflix to give it to you!

Sorta related: I can’t figure out if this is included on the DVD set, but a while back I got a chance to see the pilot for this show, which was very different than the format that aired on Comedy Central. (By the way, I’m hoping the pilot is included; not me watching the pilot, although I’d be cool with that, too, if they had that footage.) Apparently, Smigel had originally envisioned the show to be even more like Bozo the Clown. In fact, he wrote the pilot with himself cast as a mean, boozy Clown host and shot it (amazingly) in front of a live studio audience filled with actual children and their moms.

I don’t remember everything about the pilot but there was one moment that still makes me laugh when I think about it now. At one point in the show, Smigel-as-Clown announces that he’s going to bestow some kind of honor on a lucky person in the audience–I can’t remember what but it was the equivalent of “king for a day” or something. Then they cut to the audience and do one of those tricks where the camera is just whizzing around from person to person, never making it clear where it will land. After about five or six seconds of this, it finally settles on a young boy. When the boy notices that he’s on camera he has just enough time to react with excitement…before the camera starts moving again. A few seconds later, it lands on a little girl and the music plays, graphics pop up and she’s bathed in glory. It is at once one of the meanest and funniest thing I’ve ever seen, especially since the camera lingers on that original boy long enough to see his expression change from glee to confusion once it moves away from him. If I’m ever feeling sad, sometimes I remove that memory from my brain and press it against my heart. (Note: this memory alternates with my memory of the before-and-after pictures of the iguana make-over, also from TV Funhouse.)

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