David Brenner passed away yesterday.
There was a time, when I was young, when he was my favorite comedian. There were two reasons for that. The first was that he guest-hosted for Johnny Carson on the tonight show on so many occasions. While I never thought of Johnny as a comic -- he was a host -- David was a comedian filling in for the host. And at the time, he always made me laugh, maybe even more than Johnny did.
Second, he was from Philadelphia. It seems a strange thing to matter so much to me, but it did. He was one of ours, a guy from that same area that became a big star. David Brenner, because of his local origins, but also because he always seemed to wear those origins on his sleeve, somehow made the idea of success real. That's important to a kid. (I feel the same sense of local pride in Tina Fey. When the Phillie Phanatic showed up on an episode of 30 Rock, Kathy probably got a sunburn from the sheer joy on my face.)
Mark Evanier has a great remembrance of David Brenner on his blog.
I've got nothing but warm memories of him, and how much he made me laugh when I was younger. But there was one day... Kathy and I were walking up the strip -- forever, it seemed, as distances are illusions out there, and objects are much further than they appear. And all the while, we were being paced in the bumper-to-bumper traffic by a truck with a loudspeaker and a billboard that was blasting raucous, canned laughter, punctuated by David Brenner's voice urging us to come to his show. The laughs were eardrum-piercing, meant to grab attention for the brief moment as the truck drove past. But it was crawling along in a traffic jam, and we were walking the same unfortunate direction. So instead of hearing it for 20 seconds or so, we heard it for fifteen minutes, on an interminable loop.
For refuge, we ducked into a shop that was selling cheap tourist bait, and holed up there among the "What Happens In Vegas" T-shits and souvenir dice. Eventually, the truck crawled by, and the danger had passed. I can't stress enough to you how aggravating the sound of all that phony laughter on the recording was, and how much of it we heard. I can only say this: Had it been Carrot Top, I'd still be livid about it today.
But David Brenner? I could forgive him anything.
Rest in Peace, David. Thanks for almost all of the laughs.
Sunday, March 16, 2014
David Brenner passed away yesterday.
Friday, February 28, 2014
So there's a Cadillac commercial that was in heavy rotation during the Olympics. It stars Neal McDonough, who's played a shady creep in pretty much everything I've ever seen him in (Desperate Housewives and Justified spring to mind; he's always a great choice for a villain), selling Caddy's new electric model.
Here it is, if you want to watch.
Anyway, the Huffington Post got itself in high dudgeon about the thing, calling it a "nightmare."
I've seen the commercial, and I think it's pretty awesome. Not because the message appeals to me, but particularly because it doesn't -- it's not designed to appeal to anyone who would already be thinking about buying an electric car.
All electric-car sales and PR campaigns, to this point, have an element of altruism at their core. (Buy one and save the planet, etc.) This ad doesn't care. It's just "Buy one because it's the new thing. Because we're American. Because we work harder. Because we deserve to have all the best stuff."
It's an irritating message to libs like me. The dude comes off like an arrogant prick. But to the people this ad is meant to appeal to, riling people like me (and HuffPo readers) is a plus. And I understand that -- that multilingual Coke ad in the Super Bowl was nice and all, but wasn't it even better because it stuck a thumb in the right wing's eye? Wasn't watching that ridiculous freakout fun? Pass the popcorn, and maybe I'll wash it down with a Coke.
Cadillac has decided there's a market for electric cars beyond people with environmental concerns. That's GREAT.
(Most of this post originally appeared as a comment in a pal's Facebook thread.)
Wednesday, February 19, 2014
I’d been through this several times before. I always assumed the sniper was in the building across the street. Then I heard something shuffle above me. I looked up. In the ceiling tiles were hundreds of bullet holes, patched with dangling strips of bloody gauze. I started screaming. I couldn’t remember whether to eat the pill before or after I was shot, and I scrambled around the room, trying to find cover, a red laser dot following me from above.
Eventually I ate the pill and heard the shot.
Sometime later, maybe that afternoon, I’m recovered enough to leave. There’s a party for me outside, on the hospital lawn – a surprise picnic. My mom’s there, some others of my family, a bunch of my friends. It’s a big day. I only have to go through this one more time, if I’m lucky. I take off my glasses and look around. My vision’s no better than it was before.
Thursday, October 25, 2012
Apparently in an interview in the new issue of Rolling Stone, President Obama called Mitt Romney a "bullshitter."
The exact passage is this:
I was reminded of this incident when our interview with the president ended. As we left the Oval Office, executive editor Eric Bates told Obama that he had asked his six-year-old if there was anything she wanted him to say to the president. After a thoughtful pause, she said, "Tell him: You can do it."
Obama grinned. "That's the only advice I need," he said. "I do very well, by the way, in that demographic. Ages six to 12? I'm a killer."
"Thought about lowering the voting age?" Bates joked.
"You know, kids have good instincts," Obama offered. "They look at the other guy and say, 'Well, that's a bullshitter, I can tell.'"
So essentially, Obama doesn't call Romney a bullshitter by name. It's kind of a bank shot, and an off-the-cuff, post-interview comment, at that. But in an interview about the election, it's obvious who he's talking about, if it's anyone in particular.
I'm all in favor of this. "Bullshit" cuts across the high bar necessary to prove the term "liar." A politician can say a half a dozen true things, but by omitting many other facts of reality, those details, while each individually true, when mixed with a few unverifiable assertions, can become a steaming stew of bullshit. Not a single "lie" in the recipe, but it's still not anything you want to swallow.
I've long said that politicians should be freer with the B word (and the somehow more rustic H word, horseshit). It wouldn't elevate our discourse in terms of politeness...but being willing to label a talking point bullshit gives the audience a euphemism they instinctively understand -- with a touch of shock to the language to get them to pay attention. (Probably too much shock, at first -- the national conversation will be all about the word than the claim itself, which is self-defeating. At first, anyway.)
Perfume makers use a base of civet underlying a scents' pleasant overtones, because biologically or nostrils open to the odor -- it smells foul, and dangerous. It awakens our senses, and lets us smell the more delicate scents more fully. Maybe we need to hear the word bullshit now and then, just to get us to open our noses.
Friday, October 19, 2012
Just got back from getting my new car inspected. I’m really
happy to have it, and it’s going to serve me well for many years, I’m sure.
But still. That was the car that brought me to my wife. Every weekend, for months and years on end, since before she was even my girlfriend, really. I owe it a debt.
Sunday, October 14, 2012
Of all the comics I bought this weekend at New York Comic Con...
and the even greater number of comics I looked at in the back issue bins....
...this is the one I simply could not put down. It called to me.
Why am I such a Super-Misfit?
(Cover by the great Nick Cardy, btw.)
Monday, October 01, 2012
This is my childhood hero, The Flash -- Barry Allen -- when he was a boy.
And this is his mom saying something that my own mom has always said to me: "Luck is preparation meeting opportunity."
Good advice, from a great mom.
I have a feeling opportunity is at my doorstep. I hope I've prepared enough when it knocks.
Friday, August 31, 2012
A few random thoughts on Play Misty for Me:
Thursday, August 30, 2012
... I think Batwing is engaging in some serious CYA behavior in this week's Justice League International Annual:
"The device was small. Undetectable." Seriously, dude?
Let me make it easier for you: HIS ENTIRE TORSO IS COVERED IN EXPLOSIVES.
Batwing scans for explosives like I scan the refrigerator: "Honey, where's the mustard?"
"It's in the fridge."
"I don't see it."
"Sheesh, it's right in front of you."
"The jar of Grey Poupon was small. Undetectable."
Tuesday, August 28, 2012
DC recently announced a Superman/Wonder Woman romance (starting in tomorrow's Justice League #12), and I'm curious to see what DC does with it. My biggest fear is that it will derail some of Brian Azzarello's plans for Diana in the regular Wonder Woman comic; it seems more of a Superman storyline than a Wonder Woman one to me, although that's mostly because Wonder Woman has been refreshingly free of crossovers with the rest of the DCU.
Interestingly, AP writer Matt Moore writes this in today's story about the couple: "One aspect that did not survive the relaunch: Lois Lane's role as Superman's love. She's still around, but the two have never dated, nor are they likely to."
That's gullible to the point of ridiculousness. Moore is swallowing whole this temporary PR push, and ignoring everything we know about these characters (not just Superman and Wonder Woman, but all long-running, serial fiction characters) periodically reverting back to their iconic forms. Not only is Lois likely to date Superman, but history indicates she's all but guaranteed to. In the unlikely event that the Superman/Wonder Woman couple sets the world on fire (and I honestly don't think it's even intended to; I think DC wants people to buy it, but they don't necessarily want us to like it or root for it), it'll take ten years instead of 3-5, but Lois and Clark are ultimately bound to fall back into each other's orbits, and eventually date (and possibly marry) once again. Lois's gravity will always pull Clark in, and rightfully so.
Which is why the deviations are so potentially interesting to me. But whether they crash or fly is all in the execution.
Monday, August 13, 2012
(Had a great vacation, everybody. Wish I were still there, with all my pals.)
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
Monday, May 07, 2012
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
...and binding with briars my joys and desires.
In one of my favorite films, Lone Star, Chris Cooper plays what I think may be The World's Saddest Sheriff. I've finally found a companion to the film, the 1950 Robert Bresson film Diary of a Country Priest, in which Claude Laydu shows us what inner torment really means as The World's Saddest Priest.
I haven't finished watching the movie yet -- I've been digesting it slowly, much like the priest with his stomach problems, and his absurdly bleak self-imposed diet of stale bread and wine. But I've certainly gotten far enough to feel certain that nothing will ever go this poor guy's way. He can't even bring himself to pray... although he reasons that the desire to pray is as good as prayer in God's eyes.
Anyway, not much to report. It's a well-made, affecting film... and one that has done no favors for my own mood, to be perfectly honest. Once this is over, I think I'll need to pop a couple of Father Ted episodes in the DVD player. As an exorcism, of sorts.
Now there's a priest who isn't cursed by an excess of self-examination.
Tuesday, April 24, 2012