Tuesday, April 18, 2006

I'm ported

Now my home number is my mobile number. So now you can reach me anywhere, anytime. Yeah!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

What I thought about on the subway this morning

Reasons J. Mascis can't decide whether he has egomania or low self esteem. (Relevant in 1994)

1) He plays huge, crashing guitar solos, but sings like he's afraid someone will hear him.

2) He named his band Dinosaur (Wow!) Jr. (Oh.)

3) It's not "Jay," but simply "J." Is that affected, humble or simply his name?

4) I swear I had another one.

Spare the whip and spoil the child.
My parents never whipped me. Perhaps if they had, I wouldn't be so damned spoiled. Sure, I was spanked occasionally. I was shaken, yelled at, jerked out of my chair and even punched in the face. But never whipped. Some parents whip. Some parents whip so much that call it whoop, because it's easier to say. Those are the one's that make their kids go and fetch a switch from the yard so they can whoop 'em with it. Imagine that task: Finding the weapon that will used on you. And you know those kids couldn't just bring back any old twig. It had to be young and green and springy and strong. I don't want somethin' that's gonna break on you halfway through the whooping. Get on out there at get me a damn switch that'll last! Somethin' from the maple family or a pricker bush. If it slices through this melon, it's good enough. If it don't, well then that's 20 more whoopin's.

Bet those kids weren't spoiled like me, though. Oh, and I was never punched in the face. OK, once, but I deserved it.

8:27 and Sugarfree RB

My second sugarfree Red Bull. I have to pick up my laundary, shower and get to work by 10. Have to get comments back on a campaign for the Wednesday presentation. I'm listening to "Quick Sand" on iTunes. Wish I could play guitar like J., or even play at all beyond a handful of chords.

Wow, took me two minutes to write the paragraph above. Time moves along in the morning. It's 47 degrees out. I have to walk to the laundomat, come home with laundry, shower, put on clothes and depart by 9am.

One more song. "Feel the Pain" came on. Their commercial breakthrough, skyrocketing them to a video in the early 90s. That was a cool video, with the golf ball flying all over. Love the way the tempo seems to pickup, then just drop back. That's the way I live: inertia followed by a burst, followed by inertia.

All that profundity took 3 minutes, but the song is still on, so no leaving yet. Great part: wait. The ending guitar. Here it is.

Now I'm energized. A little Dinosaur Jr. and two Red Bulls. Shit. the next song just came on. "Goin Home." I used to listen to this on my way to Shelly Lake in Raleigh, before my runs around the lake. I waited tables back then. Those were good days.

No more mucking about. Must leave. Must leave now. I love his mumbling voice, like he can't muster the energy to sing. I can't be late. Promised I'd be in by 10. Cool part here. His songs build. Not all songs do that.

Song's over.

What am I listening to right THIS second on iTunes?

You know, I don't see why I should be the criminal.
How can something with no recorded fatalities be illegal?
And how many deaths are there per year from alcohol?
I just completed Gran Turismo on the hardest setting;
We pose no threat on my settee.
Ooh, the pizza's here. Will someone let him in please?
We didn't order chicken. Not a problem, we'll pick it out.
I doubt they meant to mess us about.
After all, we're all adults, not louts.

What am I listening to right THIS second on iTunes?

We had no wooden legs
Or steel hooks.
We had no black eye patches
Or a starving cook.
We were just killers with the cold eyes of a sailor.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

I've stepped into 1998


Things are about to change around the Kunath shanty. Today I received a special package from Verizon. It was a box and the box contained a shiny new cellular telephone. I am now able to make and receive calls from almost anywhere!

Except from my apartment. That's a dead space.

Soon, you'll be able to contact me on my cellular telephone simply by dialing my home number. I am porting that over to my cellular telephone for convenience. Until then, I have a different number, which I shall not disclose here for fear I will soon receive a call from a Nigerian asking me to send money to his beleaguered kingdom. The porting will take 5-7 business days. Until then, don't call me; I'll call you.

Look at me!

Sunday, April 02, 2006

My kind of comedy - Bob Odenkirk

I'm going to write a few posts about the people who inspire me most in my comedy writing. Was that sentence awkward? Wow, the first sentence in a post about writing and it's a bad one. I'll try to improve.

Here's the first in my series of comedy influences:

Bob Odenkirk

There was a lot of smart, innovative comedy in the 1990s, and Bob Odenkirk was involved in just about all of it.

Psychotic rambling at its funniest.

In 1990, he was a writer on the great, unheralded FOX show "Get a Life." He did a brief stint (late 80s-early 90s) on "SNL," where he created some classic sketches, including two of my favorites, "Bad Idea Jeans" and "Matt Foley: Motivational Speaker." In 1992 he wrote and acted on "The Ben Stiller Show" and was one of the original writers for "Late Night With Conan O'Brien." Then in 1995 Bob paired with David Cross to create "Mr. Show," one of the sharpest, funniest sketch comedy shows ever.

Take look at the work cited above and you'll notice two things. The first is that, with a couple exceptions, Bob got involved with shows that didn't last very long. "Get a Life" made it about a season-and-a-half, despite a writing team that included David Mirkin, Adam Resnick, Chris Elliott, Charlie Kaufman and Bob. "The Ben Stiller Show" was canceled after just thirteen episodes. "Mr. Show" faired better, lasting four seasons. These shows, while largely unnoticed during their runs, have nonetheless spawned rabid cult followings. Which brings me to my next point about Bob's work. It doesn't really care what you think about it.

A lot of comedians and comedy writers are desperate for your laugh. Desperation in comedy annoys me. It's the leading cause of obvious humor, excessive mugging, applause signs and flop sweat. It caters to everyone, because it's petrified that somebody might not laugh. Robin Wiliams comes to mind. So does Mike Myers.

Odenkirk's comedy is subtler. It rewards those who pay attention. A lot of the humor happens behind the action of the scene or just before the cut. He doesn't announce the punchline; you have to find it. Like in this Mr. Show sketch. Check out Bob's disapproving facial expression during the interview, when words suddenly fail him. It's right on the money but easy to miss.

Three Time One Minus One

It takes guts to write this kind of comedy. Lots of people don't understand it, or won't spend the time to appreciate it. After all, there are plenty of louder and more obvious TV shows out there that provide easy laughs for the lazy and, let's face it, stupid. The fact that Bob doesn't care about these people has probably curbed his mass appeal, but it makes his work all the more special for people who get it.

Since the 90s, Odenkirk has produced plenty of work, some of it great, some just OK. I wasn't a big fan of the indie film "Melvin Goes to Dinner," but I thought the 2003 comedy sketch pilot "Next!" showed huge promise. Unfortunately, nobody in network development seemed to agree, which is why the unaired pilot is stuck flying around the Internet. Here's hoping he gets the recognition he deserves. But not so much that he sells out or something.

And that's the first in a series of posts on my comic influences. Next week: The subtextual subversive humor of Bruce Vilanch.