In March of 2006, You Learned:
HOW TO PLAY TO TYPE.
I was re-routed to a different coffee shop today and I realized, apart from quality of product, the only distinction between this coffee shop and my regular one is that, at my regular coffee shop the lesbians behind the counter all listen to Le Tigre and at this coffee shop the lesbians behind the counter all listen to Tracy Chapman.
Which reminds me...Tracy Chapman? You're a lesbian in 2006 listening to "Fast Car?" TRY HARDER. Is there really nothing since the 1988 release of Tracy Chapman's self-titled debut that actually resonates with you? What does your CD collection look like? The first Tracy Chapman album, a couple Indigo Girls CDs, Free to Be You and Me, and a 4 Non-Blondes cassingle? (I have no idea why I added that Marlowe Thomas album. I ran out of lesbian musical choices, and I really think no one actually listens to Ani DiFranco anyway. Maybe I'm starting to see the problem here.)
I sometimes feel like there are things I'll never understand about being a lesbian. And that is the funniest thing I've ever said.
Also of note, but unrelated: here is a CNN story about a kid who climbed into one of those skill crane games where you spend a quarter to manipulate a metal claw until you're able to pull out a digital watch that was manufactured by a barefoot Malaysian child who makes less than 25 cents a week. America!
I love this story for many reasons. First, because it uses very little B-roll footage, and it uses that tiny bit of footage A LOT. There's not much to the story, after all, beyond its incredible premise. A kid miraculaously climbs into a skill crane machine at a Godfather's Pizza restaurant. Do we have the video of the event? No. Is there anyone on the firefighting rescue team we can talk to? No. Is the actual kid even verbal? No? Really? Even at three? Nope. Can't speak, or doesn't speak. Is he autistic? THAT IS NOT THE STORY HERE!
So all they've got is a location and a blurry photograph of the kid sitting in the skill crane machine. They don't even have a photograph of the skill crane machine without a child in it, possibly because it's been disassembled to avoid a lawsuit, or possibly because Godfather's wouldn't allow any cameras on-premises, to protect all the noted mobsters who spend their afternoons there, nostalgically munching on slices of Godfather's Super Taco pizza. But, even without resources, they had to cobble together a story. That's why we see several shots of the Godfather's parking lot, and several more shots where a news camera is trained on a photograph of a smiling, possibly autistic toddler in a skill crane machine. (Please note the way the camera's speedlight is reflected in the glossy surface of the photo, making the print almost impossible to see.)
But wait? Human interest news stories are never just about facts, evidence, and eyewitness interviews. There's also something called "ingenuity." That's the little bit of unplanned magic where a very resourceful segment producer examines his or her immediate surroundings and finally says, "Hey, let's see if we can get that retarded kid to fit inside our empty camera bag!" The kid complies, of course, thinking there are more toys buried within the bag, and suddenly this is no longer a story about a mom who was too busy drinking Pepsi to keep track of her possibly autistic three-old child. It's a story about THE NEXT DAVID BLAINE! A regular Harry Houdini! Home-school that prodigy, and watch him carefully. He might grow up to be the next young man to bury himself in a block of ice purely for public entertainment. Double America!! Take that!
Also, it's a tale of triumph. Everyone in the story is talking about how frightening it was that young Devin was stuck inside a skill crane machine, but check out that photograph they keep cutting to: that is officially the happiest possibly autistic kid I've ever seen. If The Boy in the Plastic Bubble was surrounded by germ-free, cheaply made toys, and was autistic, I would imagine he might have been that happy, too. That's a kid surrounded by toys! Inside a fortress of solitude where no one can spill soda on him or hit him. (I really think web sites are a great medium for taking journalistic liberties with domestic abuse allegations without fear of legal rebuke. God bless the fake media.) That's a pretty good life. I don't know if he's smiling out of bliss, because he doesn't know any better (autistic), or due to the lack of oxygen but does it even matter? He's "fine" now and while his mom is championing to have child safety locks put on skill crane machines, pickle jars, and scented candles, young Devin gets to squirm all over their furniture with a devilish smile, remembering that short trip to paradise, when he passed the time in the company of knock-off Batman plush dolls, charm bracelets, and Spuds McKenzie beanie babies i.e. his new best friends. Seriously, America. We're doing OK freedom-wise, all things considered.
HOW TO KICK PEOPLE: HAWAIIAN SHIRT DAY (TONIGHT!).
Tonight is HOW TO KICK PEOPLE: Hawaiian Shirt Day—a show all about miserable jobs and the people who need to hang onto them in order to feed their children.
We have a really interesting mix of guest presenters joining Bob Powers & me tonight, and I expect there will be some laffs.
featuring the talents of:
DAVID REES: Creator of the hit online comica "Get Your War On" and "My Filing Technique is Unstoppable"
ANDY BOROWITZ: whose writings can be found in The New Yorker, The New York Times, on NPR and in around five or six books that have his name on the cover. And also, daily, on BorowitzReport.com
CHELSEA PERETTI: from the hit monthly show "Variety Shac", and one of the creators of blackpeopleloveus.com
Showtime: Tonight, March 29th. 7:30 PM
at Mo Pitkins, 34 Avenue A btwn 2nd and 3rd Sts.
Tickets are $8 and advance seats can be purchased at TicketWeb
HOW TO LIGHT ME PROPERLY.
The nice people at the WYSIWYG Talent Show went to all the trouble to shoot, edit, and upload video of their "Worst. Sex. Ever" show from this past Valentine's Day. You can view my contribution to the show here. (scroll down the page until you see my ridiculously coiffed head and then click the video clip link to see the set in RealVideo.)
The video is rather long. (just over 20 minutes!) During the show I knew I was going a few minutes over, but I was shocked to see the timecode on this video and realize it was this long.
I'm really happy with the way the video turned out, but I feel sort of ashamed too. (This contradiction will not be surprising to anyone who knows me, or to anyone who has been reading this site for more than a few weeks.) I get really uptight when performers at How to Kick People go ridiculously long, as it occasionally feels like the mark of someone who isn't very respectful to the parameters of the show, so I feel like a bit of a shit about this one. As penance, next time I have a show I'm going to get offstage after 30 seconds.
HOW TO MAKE PEOPLE REGRET THE EFFICIENCY OF THEIR RSS READERS.
I think if Brach's eliminated "pink" from their jellybeans assortment, the world would not mourn the loss. These things taste like perfume for Barbie™ dolls. Dang.
HOW TO ROLE-PLAY, EPISODE II.
More brief, imagined conversations between myself and people I see every single day at my job but have never once spoken with:
The small, intense 40-something woman with very close-cropped and bleached blonde hair who dresses very conservatively but whom I imagine harbors a secret double-life
Man, this job is really whipping my ass. You know?
(not looking up from her sudoku puzzle) mmmph-hmm.
Seriously, what's the deal — have I been a bad boy or something? Because I feel like this new business pitch I'm working on is taking me over its knee and spanking my bottom red. I guess I deserve it, though, right?
I don't follow.
Well, for instance, if you saw someone who needed discipline, I'll bet you wouldn't hesitate to dole it out. Especially if you knew the person secretly wished to be punished. Right?
That's not really my department. You need to speak with someone in HR.
OK, I gotcha. HR. (winking) So...got any big plans for the week---
I'm not into dudes. (resumes thumbing through Accounts Payable Bull Dyke Magazine)
The guy with the mutton chop sideburns who rides a unicorn around the office
(rolling his eyes) Real original, buddy.
(pulls a handful of glitter from a velveteen pouch and blows into his open palm, creating a giant glitter cloud.)
The man who seems to answer every question by saying, 'Cool, cool.'
What do you think of fire?
Real original, buddy.
(pulls a handful of glitter from a velveteen pouch and blows into his open palm, creating a giant glitter cloud.)
Whoa. That was a weird coincidence! Do you know that guy with the sideburns and unicorn?
The anonymous stranger with tan loafers who keeps taking the filthiest, smelliest poops in the men's bathroom
(He has just left the stall next to mine, and can be heard—but not seen—washing his hands at the bathroom sink)
You're washing your hands after that? Shouldn't you be taking a shower or something?
You sure do know how to hurt.
(He slides a single white rose beneath my stall)
FADE TO BLACK.
HOW TO ROLE-PLAY.
A couple of brief, imagined conversations between myself and people I see every single day at my job but have never once spoken with:
The guy from the mail room who comes around and delivers our packages from Amazon.com
Anything for me?
I'll bet you like getting mail at home because it's the one time someone's giving you mail instead of you giving it to them, right?
What did you say?
(under my breath) ...nothing.
The middle-aged Asian lady who keeps candy by her desk
Creme-Savers, huh? I guess you and I have something in common: we've both got a sweet-tooth ha ha!"
Those are sugar-free. I have diabetes.
(looking at floor) mmm-hmm.
That guy with legs of two different lengths, who hops around in a corrective shoe
Hey! Giddyup! Right? Right?!
Jesus Christ, fuck you!
Just like a horsie and...(trails off)
The only woman in America who still faxes stuff all day long
You know, I was thinking—
Don't even say it.
You were going to say, "I was thinking, it's pretty strange that you're faxing all day since you just don't really see that anymore. Then you were probably going to make some kind of crack about traveling back in time to 1986. You were, weren't you?"
(looking at the floor) Nope. Have a nice day. You look pretty.
(shouting down the hall as I shuffle away)
I have to fax. I HAVE DIABETES!!!
HOW TO EVADE PROSECUTION.
The Morning News has a group article up today. It was written by its staff, of which I am now a member, and is on the subject of "Brushes With the Law." As you can imagine, most of TMN staff's brushes with the law have been pretty tame; only one of its writers has been on death row. You can read the article, and my contribution to it, right here.
HOW TO DELIVER ON A PROMISE.
From the people who brought you:
BOMB HIDDEN ON A GREYHOUND BUS
A SPECIAL KIND OF BULLET THAT ONLY KILLS VIRGINS
TRAIN APPROACHING A DANGEROUSLY LOOSE SECTION OF TRACK
THE TEACHER IS REALLY A VAMPIRE
IF YOU LOOK AT THIS STATUE FOR TOO LONG YOU WILL GET HORNY
ICE CREAM SECRETLY MADE OF BABY SKIN
THE TERRORISTS WANT SOMETHING!
ALL OF THESE TEENAGERS EXCEPT ONE WILL DIE AT THE HANDS OF A SERIAL KILLER SEEKING REVENGE ON THEIR WEALTHY, UNCARING PARENTS BECUASE THEY WERE RESPONSIBLE FOR APPROVING A GOVERNMENT-FUNDED DISPOSAL OF TOXIC WASTE ON THE SITE OF HIS POVERTY-STRICKEN TRAILER PARK WHICH KILLED HIS WHOLE FAMILY AND LEFT HIM HORRIBLY DISFIGURED AND HOMOCIDALLY VENGEFUL (ALSO, THE LONE SURVIVING TEENAGER WILL END UP IN A PADDED CELL AT A MENTAL INSTITUTION AT THE END, WITH A CRAZY LOOK IN HER EYES AND, IF ENOUGH PEOPLE SEE THIS MOVIE, SHE WILL PROBABLY BE THE KILLER IN THE SEQUEL)
comes the official trailer for...
SNAKES ON A PLANE! [with great apologies, i just discovered the trailer was taken down, no doubt the result of some studio pressure. i have changed the link to the official site, where the official trailer will surely be posted some day, and forever.]
[Special tremble.com bonus: my original S.O.A.P. post]
HOW TO GET RE-ACCLIMATED.
On my first morning back in New York City, I had one of the more intense subway commuting experiences of my ten-plus years riding the MTA. When I got on the train I immediately spied a fat, shirtless homeless man (or perhaps just a very casual, self-confident millionaire) stretched out, unconscious, along one of the long subway benches. (This was one of those older model cars with long, continuous grey benches, instead of the newer ones with the ass-bumps scooped out to suggest the partition of seats.)
As we creaked over the Manhattan Bridge, the train came to a dead stop and just began making loud, squealing noises. Moments later, a second homeless man (or perhaps just an amibitious entrepreneur who wasn't afraid to dirty his hands—and feet, face, neck, scalp, and diaper.) shuffled into the car. He moved past me to the far end of the car, and then literally came crawling back on his hands and knees, screeching for money. (This brings our hobo count to 2.) Then, while one man slept topless and another crawled past me, the doors between our car and the next opened once more, and a North African man (or perhaps West African) burst into the car, holding several AA battery packs fanned out in each hand.
As the battery salesman paced the length of the car, his sales pitch—"the real thing one dollar batteries the real thing one dollar not two dollars one dollar batteries"—mingled with the scratchy pleas of the crawling homeless man and the high-pitched shriek of the subway car's stalled mechanics to create an impenetrable, discordant audio and visual symphony and I grew a little sentimental. "How sweet," I thought. "They're throwing me a homecoming parade."
HOW TO SLIP OUT OF A COMA.
I woke up in my boss' office a few minutes ago, which is something I can both heartily recommend and strongly advise against. It was very refreshing, and completely disorienting.
The reason I was sleeping there at all is I spent the last week in Aspen systematically obliterating my immune defenses. Late nights, early mornings (Damn you, Chelsea, for guilting me into that 10:45 screening of Art School Confidential.), cold temperatures, high altitudes and hot turkey submarine sandwiches conspired against me all week long, but I'm not mad at them. (Except for you, Chelsea. DAMN YOU.)
Aspen was a hectic and excellent time, and performing there was only number 3 or 4 on my list of reasons for enjoying the comedy festival. #1 was probably slipping out of the after-party to watch Dave Chappelle do a loose, impromptu hour-long set of comedy. People love calling him crazy these days, but watching him onstage was like seeing an important event unfolding. I don't think I'll forget it anytime soon. And this came on the tail of a week of seeing comedians I really admire to the point of embarrassing fandom—people like Louis CK, Gary Shandling and Paul F. Tompkins. They were great, but Chappelle was just kind of transcendant. (I just got punched in the arm and called "faggot" by my computer, for writing that last sentence. Ow, computer. Quit it.)
People have been asking me if I scored an multi-billion-dollar deals in Aspen. Well, I don't want to say too much right now, but I am in possession of the business card of the "Humorous Content Editor" at American Greetings, who assured me his "people" were really looking to "upgrade their writing." I hope he meant it, and that it means American Greetings is finally ready to break their long-running "cunt" taboo.
HOW TO LINK TO THINGS.
I've only a second, but check this out.
This week, instead of tremble entries, I'll be blogging from the HBO US Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen, CO. My first entry is already live:
THE USCAF BLOG
Also, after being hunched over my computer for far too long, I'm ready to announce TODDLEVIN.COM. It's still pretty buggy, with cross-browser and cross-platform problems I can't really detect on my own (I use the lingo) but you can visit it to see writing samples, pictures, video clips, and other junk. (For some reason, people are getting an error message on the QT clips, but they work 100% lovely on my computer. If you've any ideas about this one, please let me know.) I hope you like it, even a little. It's just a baby.
HOW TO DETERMINE IF SOMEONE IS EMAILING YOU FROM A BLACKBERRY™.
Just when you thought correspondence couldn't get more fractured, Blackberry delivers! When people switched from written correspondence to email, there were the usual complaints about clipped tone, telegraph-like punctuation, and weird emoticon-isms and acronyms. (My new favorite email and chat acronym, and the only one I ever use, is "NLOL!" [Not Laughing Out Loud] It of my own invention—as far as I know, since I do not attend this year's Emoticon-Con, where the latest and most complex reactive text symbols and abbreviated sentiments were unveiled. With Instant Messaging, it was more of the same, only shorter. Then txt messaging took it to a brand new level of economy of words, thanks to the patience-smashing predictive text feature on most cell phones.
Some would argue that Blackberry communique's aren't very different than txt messaging, but that's not true. With txt messaging, there is reflexive brevity. I txt you something like, "u up 4 tacos?" and you txt back, "kewl" and we are really reaching each other, you know? Getting at the heart of the matter, on equal terms. I like tacos; you agree, with attitude. It's on, taco-wise.
However, I can always tell when I've emailed someone who uses a Blackberry or Sidekick because I'll send them a 500-word email filled with dazzling subtleties, sharp wordplay, and complete emotional nakedness. Sometimes I'll even include a jazzed-up signature file with a memorable/inspirational quote, like, "Have you ever wondered how much the average jizz-mopper makes per hour?" --Randall Graves, CLERKS. Then, approximately 45 seconds after sending this epic missive out, I'll receive some variation of this response: "ok cool see you @ 9 -MG." Thanks, Blackberry, for keeping up your end of the relationship.