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Archive for the ‘comedy’ Category

Did Caped Tomatoes Ever Populate The Far Side?

Posted by Steven on May 25, 2011

HydroBites tomatoes

“Look, I think we can sell these miniature tomatoes without referring to them as HydroBites and outfitting our mascot in a cape and running shoes. Why is he wearing running shoes when he can fly?”

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Posted in comedy, humor | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Rediscovering that old playground bravado Part 2

Posted by Steven on March 23, 2011

During recess periods I would methodically trudge around the playground watching groups of kids play four square, kickball or basketball. They were most inflexible, sticking to one sport year round. My first year of grade school happened to be at the tail end of the Chicago Bulls’ first three peat run and consequentially, basketball was seen as the sport to play if you wanted even a remote chance at skipping college to join a league in the NBA that would pay you millions in guaranteed money before you warmed your first bench.

The basketballers never bothered to run any set plays, they would just attack the rim. High arcing shots would clank off the rim followed by a mad scrum for the rebound, and whoever came up with the ball would shoot a heavy jumper. Shots would bounce of the rim repeatedly, each one a reminder that perhaps the shooter should take up another sport, but these kids were too busy throwing their elbows around and trying to get enough air on one their rebound attempts for a put back jam to ponder such things.

Once I happened to be sitting with a small group of them during lunch and I tried to steer their thoughts in the direction of other sports by suggesting they play baseball. After all it was spring and the season in which a sport is played is a small but important part of its overall appeal. There was just something weird about playing basketball nonstop when they could’ve been taking advantage of the warmer weather by playing baseball. A girl speaking for the entire group looked at me like I’d just asked her to summon lightning from the sky.

“Why should we play baseball when we’d just embarrass ourselves? You may not be able to recognize it because you’re not a professional scout, but we happen to be good at basketball.”

“I’ve watched you guys and it seems like all you do is miss jumpers and curse as your fighting for loose balls. How much can you really be enjoying the game when you all suck?”

“We play basketball because we like it. Now shut up!”

With that they went off to play another mindless game of playground basketball and I had learned a valuable lesson: Never question whether another person can derive any fun from what appears to be a boring or difficult activity for them. Should you see your friend wincing as she tries to jump through the hopscotch course, don’t assume she has a torn ACL and go alert the nurse. She is having fun, and contrary to popular belief being skilled at something isn’t a necessity for enjoyment. If she wants to hobble along in total denial–let her.

Kickball is another playground game that’s remembered fondly by adults before the topic quickly changes to dodge ball. Women recalling how all the guys used to gang up on them at the end of gym class and pound them relentlessly with dodge balls, even when one hit was sufficient enough to knock a player out of the game, and guys claiming that they didn’t really throw the balls that hard, women just have a lower pain tolerance than men.

The only kickballs that seemed to be available on our playground were these scratch and sniff kick balls stylized to look like whatever fruit corresponded with the smell. There were cherry, grape, lemon, and apple variations, each sporting a wide mouthed toothy grin. They would magically materialize out of a old blue drawstring bag which sat out unattended off to one side of the playground, always positioned perfectly so they’d be grinning right at you when you opened the bag.

Do you want to play with a regular kickball or do you dare to tempt fate by reaching into the devil’s fruit basket? Just one kick and you’ll be hooked.

Other kids probably didn’t have time to develop up an irrational fear of the kickballs because they were able to exert some control over them. If the ball was creeping them out as it rolled towards them, they’d simply kick the crap out of it. I, on the other hand, could do nothing to combat the ball’s paralysis inducing stare. Every time I looked at it I could feel the eyes boring into my soul and always tried to kick it feebly in the other direction whenever possible.

It wasn’t uncommon to walk on the playground during a typical day and have the silence interrupted by the cacophony of four rubber kickballs being launched into the air simultaneously. As I passed underneath them, I always thought one would divert from its gravity path–and the last thing I would see before being knocked unconscious was the ball’s horrible grinning face.

PS: I initially wanted to do a whole post on the aforementioned kickballs since they’ve managed to burn so brightly in my memory for all these years, but apparently I’m the only one who remembers them. When I started writing this I put the phrase ” scratch and sniff fruit kickballs”, and every conceivable variation thereof into Google and got no relevant hits. I thought for sure as soon as I hit enter on the keyboard I’d get a hit from one of those websites that chronicles every aspect of 90’s nostalgia, which would give me not only the brand name of the balls but also I picture to go with this post that would prove to doubters that these kickballs were as demented as I claim. Alas, the only image I’ve found online that closely resembles them is this Bounder from the Commander Keen series.

If any of my readers know the line of kickballs I’m referring to or could provide a picture, please comment below.

If nothing comes from this plea for information I will regard the above paragraphs at the very least to be a fitting homage to Stephen King’s short story, The Monkey. A story far scarier than it has any right to be.

Who said kickball is for socially inept people who just like to kick things?

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Rediscovering that old playground bravado Part 1

Posted by Steven on March 17, 2011

Growing up I don’t remember being envious of many obvious talents possessed by friends or family members; only being keenly aware that I didn’t seem to have any overt skills that I could use to readily earn friends within even the most obscure niche groups of people on the playground, including the group of kids that chooses to remain ignorant of, either by choice or parental conditioning, advances in technology and team sport. They are content to play the games of yesteryear . A teacher stands guard in the shadows, making sure nothing more modern than a Mattel electronic football game is allowed to be introduced into their native environment. This is where I come in and make a general inquiry.

“Hey guys, so how exactly do you play tiddlywinks?”

“You play in teams trying to propel your chips into the center pot using a squidger while squoping your opponent’s chips in the process. There’s so much more I could explain to you but it’d probably be better if you just watch Dario here. He has a killer squop shot that obliterates everybody else’s winks and before ya know it he’s totally rabbit bashing the rest of us. Show him Dario,” a kid named Reed says.

Dario, playing with the red winks, eyes a lone green wink some distance away from a larger wink pile and delicately places his squidger towards the end of the wink, angled for distance purposes. Sweat drips off his forehead and threatens to obscure his vision as he tries to calculate how much force is needed to cover the wink. He closes his eyes and fires. With a minute clicking noise the wink leaps forward and bounces up and over the green wink, finally coming to rest near the cup.

“Oh God, I talk you up like that and then you up like that and then you turn into a first class choke artist with a total feeb shot,” Reed moans.
You can’t expect to become a professional winker if you can’t learn to keep your squidger straight when you attempt this shot How many times have I need to tell you that need to fire it from a high enough angle that the wink bounces off the ground twice and lands on the target?”

“I was trying to do that, you idiot. My finger just slipped because I’m hot as an overcooked turkey in this custom made ‘Winks Club’ letter jacket that you insist we all wear. It’s 80 degrees out today!”
“My mom paid good money to have those jackets made and with yours there was a surcharge because she ended up having to go to a big and tall shop and it took her forever to find the right material for your requested Rocky Road color scheme.”

“You leave my favorite ice cream out of this or I’ll pound you into the asphalt.”

“Hey Steven where are you going?” Reed calls out “Next week we’re playing this new game called pickup sticks, you don’t want to miss out.”

Like many around the age of 5-6, my initial belief in what my strengths were came from my parents, who were always quick to point out that I already had a well defined sense of humor at a young age and could read above grade level. I agreed with them for the most part, knowing that the areas in which I could show potential in were severely limited by my physical disability. There was no childhood spent playing a multitude of sports at my parents urging, with the silent hope that I’d develop enough athletic ability to earn a scholarship to a prestigious university. I’ve always had my sense of humor and my writing ability–and that’s it.

Having a high level of reading comprehension really isn’t anything to brag about either. After the first couple of grades teachers stop caring so much about how well you’re reading, assuming of course that you’re not borderline illiterate, and the act loses its qualitative value. According to the statistics generated by this test, most people read an average of 200 WPM and stop trying to improve their reading speed after age 12, so everything evens out in the end. No one wants to watch you employ speed reading techniques to blast through Atlas Shrugged.

My thanks to both The North American Tiddlywinks association and English Tiddlywinks Association (ETwA) websites for giving me a general overview of tiddlywinks jargon and explaining the rules of the game. Between the article on squoping by Larry Kahn and An Introduction to Tiddlywinks by Andy Pervis, Charles Relle and Mapley (both of which can be found on the ETWA’s website), I was almost convinced that Tiddlywinks is engrossing and complex enough to be worthy of my time.

Nothing pushes an issue closer to irrelevancy more than a meaningless Facebook group

Finally…

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Why fast talking YouTubers are killing comedy

Posted by Steven on December 10, 2010

When i got my Dell Studio XPS a year ago I was keen to include a monitor with a built in webcam on the off chance that I wanted to create a couple videos and place them on YouTube as a way of testing partially developed comedic material in front of a worldwide audience. My mom was intrigued by the idea because theoretically we could talk to my brother from his college dorm room and would allow her and my dad to keep an eye on him. Even if he gave only short evasive answers to every question they could at least determine if he was drunk or high. He has yet to talk to us via webcam even once. however, and with my parents now having renewed confidence that my brother will be able to remain motivated and focused enough to ignore outside distractions and graduate in high standing without the threat of a monthly interrogation looming over his head, the webcam’s potential has gone largely untapped, having been forgotten by everyone except for me. I did post a couple of videos, which you can see here and here, but I quickly discovered that my stuttering kept me from talking in the rapid fire setup punchline style used by the comedic video bloggers, supposedly because of viewer’s short attention spans.

By the time I had figured out what I was going to say and overcome any sudden disfluencies brought on by the pressure of having to talk as fast as possible, forty seconds would have already elapsed in the video and the camera’s unwavering, uncompromising eye had already captured my embarrassing stuttering episode in all its gristly detail. This forced me to start over again with no idea how many takes it was going to take to record the video, and given that I was able to do a fluent take, whether it would have the proper amount of energy and emphasis on certain lines to be funny. After a few unsuccessful attempts I’d get discouraged and wonder if I wasn’t just better off writing it down where nothing could get lost in translation. I wasn’t about to truncate something that worked better in long form just so I could get it on YouTube. Unfortunately most of the popular comedic video bloggers, whose content is assumed to be of the highest quality on the site, ignore this fact when creating videos. They’re so busy trying to adhere to the number one rule when trying to attract viewers to their channel, namely, no video must be longer than 3-5 min and other conventions imposed by other hit videos, that many annoying symptoms appear during the humor’s presentation which keep it from leaving a lasting impression.

Perhaps the most annoying habit adopted by today’s successful comedic video bloggers, including Phil Defranco and Natalie Tran, is they all talk as though someone is holding a gun to their head and can’t help but barrage the viewer with, “Like this video if you were stunned by the opening sequence” annotation balloons at the beginning of the video, followed by a flurry of quick jokes and onscreen graphics that correlate with whatever topic is being discussed, all being delivered in a series of quick cut segments that are edited together to form one coherent video. The majority of the time these visuals add little to the presentation and are just another thing trying to compete for your attention and prove to you how funny this person is supposed to be.

How funny these videos actually are is something that’s never really considered by most people beyond liking particular videos and writing the occasional comment on ones they thought were really funny, but the next time you watch the latest video from one of your favorite self made video blogging comedy gods on YouTube, try and count how many jokes actually register with you at first watch, regardless if you laugh at them or not. Since the jokes are being delivered so fast I’m willing to bet it’s a relatively small number and you’ll feel like you just watched a robot recite programmed punch lines. You’ll also likely need to watch it at least twice to get an accurate joke count. This suggests that the fast talking comedy phenomenon isn’t undertaken solely to compensate for viewers short attention spans but also so viewers are forced to watch the video multiple times to fully comprehend everything, thereby driving up the video’s hit count.

If asked what exactly motivates them to make videos, the video bloggers on YouTube upon whom fortune has smiled would go the politically correct route, saying at the most basic level, they’re just trying to convey a message to their audience and entertain them, and that they’d still make videos even if there were no guarantee of hits and receipt of a certain percentage of the overall ad revenue generated by their videos. However you can bet it goes a long way towards inflating their egos and making them hesitant to change an otherwise stale formula, even when users may call for it through a comment mutiny of negative feedback.

Giving the audience time to react to a joke has been a fundamental part of comedy for years, either in the form of dead silence when somebody bombs on open mic nights at their local comedy club, laugh tracks on sitcoms, or the awkward pause used to accentuate the uncomfortable nature of some jokes. This technique was first popularized by The Office in the US and serves a nearly identical purpose as a laugh track without being as obtrusive. When a performer doesn’t give the audience this necessary time to react to a joke they come off as a mix of insecure, arrogant, and disinterested. By laughing at a comedian , the audience is in effect neutralizing the anger that often fuels comedy and showing the comic that they empathize with them, thus validating his or her beliefs and keeping them from feeling as though he is nothing more than a rambling, spiteful idiot. The sketch comedy videos do a better job of respecting the audience by limiting any potential quick one liners to one character and giving other jokes time to develop before a “please subscribe” balloon appears to remind you that they’re ultimately just after subscribers like the video bloggers, but at least they’ve created something that has some staying power and won’t become outdated the day after it’s released, which is the main reason I would hesitate to create a YouTube personality for myself even if I didn’t stutter.

I don’t need that constant pressure of having to come up with something quality nearly every day when the average user doesn’t really care about quality, and YouTube only furthers this notion by promoting every video that has one or more of the following elements: dancing, old ladies, pets doing something out of the ordinary, young children with a five octave vocal range, kids playing instruments, auto tuned mash ups of already popular videos, parodies of pop culture icons that have been ripped to death, among other things. Why should I even try to achieve some level of online fame when it is tenuous at best and I’d have to deal with an ever-present fear that I’d be trumped in popularity by a video of a cat nosing a ball of yarn through an obstacle course in a matter of weeks?

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WARNING: Ferns should not be used as substitute for dental floss

Posted by Steven on December 3, 2008

About a month ago I was hanging out in my room and checking out how many books have accumulated over the years in my closet. This something that should only be done during the summer, once you’ve done other time killing activities like checking your e-mail, swatting fruit fries that have invaded the house thanks to the “2 bunches for 1” banana offer from Aldi’s, and listening to every song on your mp3 player twice. Judging by some of the titles in my collection, I’d say it began somewhere in the mid 90’s and ended about 3 years ago. Still, I have some pretty good books to prop up the overall value. You’ve got classic and underrated Stephen King with It and The Eyes of the Dragon respectively, and Seabiscuit, which was made into a movie known as “Spider Man Rides a Horse”

But the one book that really took me back to my younger days was, Where The Red Fern Grows This story is is line with other young adult animal stories such as Old Yeller, and more recently, Shiloh. In most of these stories, a young boy forms a strong bond with a wild dog that is tested by his family, financial obligations, and some asshole who wants the dog dead. By the time it’s all over the kid has learned about the sanctity of life, and how audiences are suckers for an ending where the dog kicks the bucket.

I had gotten the book the summer before 5th grade and decided to read it for a book report that year. The book reports that year were different from others I’d done up to that point because we didn’t have to get up in front of the class and talk about our book’s main points. No, we had to go sit with the teacher at a table in the back of the room and tell her about our book in quiet hushed tones while she wrote down comments on a notepad. Even in 5th grade I could recognize that the whole thing was just a little too intimate and weird for a classroom setting. It was like being on a job interview that had the feel of a speed dating session—rejection starts with a ring of a bell, kids.

Because my book was one of those good ol’ American dog tales, I thought an A+ was in the bag. It was with this confidence that I breezed through my report, talking about the book’s main conflict, the rising action and the falling action, and was even fielding post report questions from my teacher pretty smoothly, until she threw one at me that wasn’t in the manual:

“Do you believe in the secret of the red fern?”

Secret of the…was I supposed to say yes?—she actually believed that shit?

Like a pro I looked her right in the eye and said, “Yes. Yes I do.”
“I see”, she said, scribbling more notes down.
“Well you may believe in the red fern and all of its mysterious power, but your breath killed it—along with any of the surrounding plant life, plus Billy’s hunting dogs Old Dan and Little Ann. It’s terrible.”

I was taken aback. Was that supposed to be a backhanded compliment? First she tried to impose her belief in the red fern on me, and now–she was calling me a murderer with bad breath. It was too much. I looked around, trying to regain my composure. I blamed the extra bowl of Peanut Butter Captain Crunch I’d had that morning—that stuff could stay on your breath for hours. They never mentioned that on the box.

I wondered what else she’d written down on that notepad of hers. Had she written “future homosexual” by my name because I was wearing a hand me down ribbed purple sweater with a coat of arms under interlocking swords on the breast pocket for the third time that week? (It wasn’t my fault, my mom was too stupid to know that injecting purple into my wardrobe would cause other students to call me gay until the end of sixth grade.)

“Do you have a breath mint, Steven?” she whispered.

“Huh? I’m not gay!”

“I never said…listen Steven—

“I don’t answer to that name any more. Just call me The Great Halitosis Fern”

PS According to this link you can check the vibe your breath is giving off to others by licking your wrist and smelling it. Try not to do this in public; you’ll look like a cat. However, if you must, do it in the privacy of a restroom stall. The process will be complicated by the surrounding smells, but I’m sure your breath will win out.

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Cell phone chaos 2

Posted by Steven on May 10, 2007

On Tuesday I got my second cell phone in roughly three years, and like when I got my first cell phone, my brother played a prominent role in how things unfolded. I’ve been out of school since Monday and have been bumming around trying to keep myself busy so my Dad doesn’t bug me about being a college student with no close friends, internships or modes of transportation lined up for the summer, meaning there’s no way for me to leave the house when he’s hard at work—cursing out his computer. Basically for the first time in three years, I have a summer with no immediate responsibilities, so hopefully I can produce some quality journal entries in the coming months.

However my dad thinks I’m at an age where I should be taking charge of my life, and that if I’m not proactive and do something life altering soon, there’s a good chance I’ll never become a successful comedy writer. More likely since I’m handicapped, fate will tie me to a flaming wheelchair and send my helpless body rocketing at 200 miles per hour down a slippery slope lined with rejection letters, pink slips, and angry break up calls from imaginary women. Finally the chair will dump me into my parents basement and I’ll be stranded there for the next 30 years, left to contemplate what a loser I am. Nothing funny about that is there, Mr. Comedian?

I was washing up after lunch at the sink when I heard an alarm sound outside.

“What was that?” my brother asked.
“I don’t know.”
“Didn’t you hear it?”

“Yeah but I don’t know what it was. It sounded like a car alarm. Nothing to worry about,” I said.

My brother bolted down the stairs and entered the kitchen.
“That sound was weird man, are you sure it was nothing? Maybe it was one of the carbon monoxide detectors in the house. Those are working right?”

“I’m telling you it was just a car alarm. The kitchen isn’t filling with poison gas.”

“How do you know? The human eye can’t see CO2. I’m feeling a little woozy. I’m calling mom,” he said.

He pulled out his phone and there was a loud crack as it fell to the floor and the flip section of the phone broke apart, held to the phone limply by a section of exposed cables. He stared at the floor in shock.

“Shit…oh shit,” he muttered, sounding like he was gonna cry. “How am I gonna get all my numbers off of this thing.” He picked it up and tried to turn it on. The phone’s backlit screen flashed white. He probably had a rolodex of numbers in there from girls he had known as far back as middle school and now they were all gone—it would take him years to rebuild it.

“Looks like it’s completely busted. Want me to get the duct tape? I’ve heard it protects against Radon. Forget Corbon Monoxide, I’ve heard that stuff will give ya a tumor in 30 seconds flat ”

“Don’t touch my phone all right? Just shut up!”
“Are you afraid I might break it?”

He called my mom and tied to explain the situation: “…Steven and I heard this weird noise outside and so I went to call you and my phone fell out of my pocket and broke. No it’s really broken, I can’t even get it to turn on. I don’t know where the sound came from. Why would I break it on purpose? That’s just stupid,” he hung up.

She came home later and said that I could go with them to a Verizon store to pick out a new phone. She had wanted to wait until July to get new phones for the both of us so that she could get them for free, but now she was suspicious.

“Mark didn’t break his phone just so he could get a new one. I saw it fall out of his pocket.”
“I believe him. Just be quiet.”

“Now Mark how did this phone break?”
“I dropped it,”

“Really?”
“I just told you—“

“I said I believe him! Now we’re going to the Verizon store and I’m hoping we can still get at least one for free. I don’t wanna spend a ton of money on these.”
Every time my mom or dad pulls more than 20 dollars out of their wallet you can hear it scream in agony.

We ended up getting two Samsung camera/camcorder phones with V Cast, which I’ll doubt I’ll use—it’s just another thing my parents will bitch about being too expensive, even though I pay for everything related to my phone.

It’s only a matter of time before the damn thing comes to life and takes an obituary photo of me in a flaming wheelchair.

UPDATE 7/12/07 Last weekend I had to get a replacement phone for my new Samsung because I unwittingly left it in my shorts pocket after work and it ended up going through a spin cycle in the washing machine. My mom was pissed initally, but I ended up getting the same model phone, (blue this time), for only like $100, so it wasn’t a disaster.

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Remembering Peter Boyle

Posted by Steven on December 10, 2006

 

 

On Tuesday night Dec 12th, Peter Boyle died from heart disease and multiple myeloma. I didn’t find out about it until the next afternoon when I went to check my e-mail. I stared at the screen and reread the headline several times, still in shock. Inside I felt hollow and had to fight back the urge to cry.

 

Ordinarily an actor’s death wouldn’t mean that much to me, but Boyle played Frank Barone on Everybody Loves Raymond, one of my favorite sitcoms and TV characters of all time. Before Raymond, he was known for playing the monster in Young Frankenstein and Wizard in Taxi Driver.

 

I started watching the show during the fifth season when I was a freshman in high school and liked it immediately. All the characters were funny in a unique way, but I got the biggest laughs from Frank. He was the one character who I could really identify with on the show: a guy who wasn’t comfortable as the center of attention or outside of his home, never really seemed to get along with his family or other people due to the way he expressed his views, and he never got any credit for trying to fit in. I never grew tired of him on the show.

 

 

As Ray Romano’s dad, Boyle was the lynchpin that held the show together. Even people who hated the show still had respect for Boyle. If a series of jokes happened to fall flat, Boyle would always manage to rescue the scene with Frank’s trademark expression “Holy crap!” Unfortunately during the show’s final season Boyle looked old and tired. He was given the same type of lines as in earlier episodes, but his voice was noticeably weaker and had lost its sharp sarcastic edge. He still gave it his all, but the show just wasn’t the same without him at 100 percent. 

 

His talents on ELR were always underappreciated. He won an Emmy in 1996 for an appearance on the X Files as Clyde Bruckman, but never won one for his work on Raymond, despite being nominated seven times and the rest of the cast winning at least one Emmy. The only reason I can give to explain this is that Boyle played his character too well, but it wasn’t any fault of his. The writers of the show gave many heart to heart exchanges between the characters, but those involving Frank are hard to find. The voters must have seen him as a great actor who was unable to show the necessary lighter side of his character. What a load of bull.

 

That’s why I’m here: to present the lighter side of Frank Barone in the hopes that Boyle will get his ELR Emmy in the afterlife.

 

The best example of Frank’s compassionate side can been seen in the season five episode,

“The Canister”. An argument breaks out between Debra and Marie because she believes Debra has a special canister of hers. Debra denies this, only to have it turn up later. She quickly decides to dispose of the canister by throwing it in the garbage, but twins dig it out of there so she decides to sneak it back into Frank and Marie’s herself. Marie catches Debra with the canister, but Frank takes the blame for it, claiming he was hiding it from Marie. When Debra asks him why he covered for her, Frank replies “You’re like my daughter.”

 

 

The theme of Debra being equivalent to Frank’s daughter was used again in the season eight episode “Debra at The Lodge.” Here Debra takes a job at the lodge with Frank and all of his retired buddies, appearing to fit in. But Frank breaks lodge policy and tells Ray what is being said about Debra after she leaves, coming to her defense at the end of the episode.

 

Finally, in “Boys Therapy”, Frank tells Ray and Robert his father used to hit him as a form of discipline, but he refused to do this when raising them.

 

In my favorite episode of the series, “Meeting the Parents”, Boyle delivers some classic lines as Frank squares off with the conservative parents of Robert’s girlfriend, Hank and Pat McDougal. No doubt this episode pissed off conservative and religious voters, but I like its edginess. Here are some of Frank’s best lines in the episode:

 

(Referring to Hank McDougal) Who made you the prayer sheriff?

I bet all their stuff about church is a load of crap too. Probably spends his Sundays watching tv in a muffin shop.

 

Dear Lord please keep this in-law family the hell away from me!

 

Hank: And you can stay the heck away from us too.

 

Frank: You can say ‘heck’ all you want, He knows you mean Hell!

 

(After Hank leads a prayer asking that the two families get along)

 

I can beat that! 

Frank was best in ELR when he was just sitting in the recliner listening to a conversation and then out of the blue he would make great sarcastic comment, which is something I usually do at parties—but I’m not rewarded with a thunderous laugh track like Peter was.

 

Frank Barone was the first TV character who made wearing a cardigan cool. He proved it’s not how you wear it, it’s the attitude you have while wearing it. Before Frank wore the cardigan the only noteworthy people associated with it were Cliff Huxtable, who wore nothing but ugly sweaters on his show, and Mr. Rogers. If I get a cardigan this Christmas, I won’t comlain, because Frank Barone wouldn’t want me to complain. He’d say,

 

“You’re a pansy, just wear the damn thing with pride.”

 

Thanks for the laughs Peter.

 

This tribute video highlights his life and some of his best moments on Everybody Loves Raymond. Enjoy 

 

 

 

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Help! This Blog’s Jumping the Shark!

Posted by Steven on November 18, 2006

Over the past couple of months I’ve discovered the reason why I haven’t updated this thing with “original, thought provoking, humorous content” in a long while. It’s not that I didn’t want to; no it was because I had spent hours reading my older work and had become so enamored with it I just couldn’t move forward. I was too worried about people thinking my journal had “jumped the shark”. Every time I wanted to write something, my brain would get in the way, looking for argument.

Why are you writing this Steven? It’s not funny.
“Didn’t you just tell me that joke was hilarious and that I should fit it in somewhere, huh brain?”
Hey I don’t do any of the work. That’s your mind’s job
“And what’s he doing right now?”
Playing a drunken round of Skee ball deep within your subconscious with his buddies.

“So he gets drunk with his friends and their idea of fun is to go play Skee ball?! What kind of a loser is so lonely he gets friends like that?”
You must be lonely. How else do you explain talking your brain for the past half hour?
“I’m not talking to my…well—this—conversation was a waste of time and writing space.”

Like getting hit in the head by a Skee ball. Just write something, you jackass

I figure that if this journal is going up in flames, I might as well mention a TV network going with it: Lifetime. I used to be a closeted Lifetime fan, mainly because of Unsolved Mysteries reruns. Even though most of the cases were solved and the show was getting a little dated, it could still scare the hell out of you. Between the creepy theme and update music, coupled with Robert Stack’s great pipes, it never really got old.

But Lifetime is known mainly for its corny movies that deal with topics like rape, assault and battery, infidelity, eating disorders, homosexuality, oppressed women, single mothers, broken marriages, unexpected pregnancies, juvenile teenagers, and sexually confused grandmothers to name a few. Who’s up for popcorn?

These movies have equally lame titles like Unwed Father, A Little Thing Called Murder, and Sexual Advances. My favorite Lifetime movie is Best Friends, about a woman who finally reconnects with her friend after years apart. This friend turns out to be a controlling, seductive, murderer who commits the deed by slipping an undetectable delightfully deadly sleeping powder—supplied by Willy Wonka’s mafia division—into her victim’s food and drink. The job would’ve been a hell of a lot easier with an Oompa Loompa hit man.

Unsolved Mysteries has been taken off the schedule and most of these time allotted to movies has been replaced by syndicated shows such as Reba and Still Standing, so the only way to get a steady diet of these movies is to get Lifetime Movie Network—there are better ways to blow thirty bucks a month.

In honor of these Lifetime movies, I’ve come up with some Lifetime movie titles of my own.

………………
………………
………………
……… ………

………. ……..

Hey what’s going on, how come whenever I try to type the movie titles all I see are ellipses?

Steven this is your mind talking. I had to intervene. Have you no decency? I swear I go play in a Skee ball tournament for one day and you start writing controversial, stupid crap trying to go for cheap laughs. This journal has standards that must be upheld.

“Oh sure now the alcoholic mind wants to lecture me about standards.”

Steven if you type those last couple of crude sexist movie titles I’ll be forced to drag you to a couple of my AA meetings.

“Oh just come out and say it mind, you like Lifetime!. Listen pal, these movie titles are going see the light of day whether you like it or not because I’m stronger than you, matter over mind I say. Now let me type!”

………
………

“What are you doing to me, mind? Are you trying to withhold my creative prowess? Well let me tell you, there’s nothing creative about a page full of Pac-Dots. Oh, my head hurts! But your headache attack will not prevent me from typing—AHHH, MY HEAD! MOTHER OF ADVIL MIGRANE LIQUID GEL CAPSELS! I can’t take it…getting faint…”

Hello, this is Steven’s mind again. As much as I abhor what he wrote above, I feel obligated to bring closure to this mess. He is resting comfortably and will be allowed to continue writing in here, but I had to act before this journal completely jumped the shark. He put up quite a fight though; he really wanted to finish this piece. Only a portion of our battle is documented here. In order to finally subdue him, I had to call upon the assistance of the French fisherman Charlot Paddock, his alternate personality that is only seen during times of extreme duress.

This victory calls for a celebration. Tomorrow Paddock and I and going to go fish for Bass on the Rhone River.

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As a substitute teacher, it is my duty to push this video into the VCR. Yes—this how I make a living

Posted by Steven on September 13, 2006

A few weeks ago I found this Reading Rainbow parody video on You Tube and I thought it was very funny. It inspired me to do more research about this once proud kids show that has been surpassed by the likes of Dragon Tales, Arthur, and Cailou. Turns out it’s now been relegated to the 6:30 timeslot on Sunday mornings. That’s just what kids need, a 6:30 wakeup call from LeVar Burton. I sent this video to a lot of my friends, including Chris but I’m not sure if they watched it. Now that it’s here in my journal—I know they won’t watch it.

DISCLAIMER:
For some reason the kids in this video think that you can never have too many “death by sword, lance, telescope” gags. If you don’t laugh, you may be decapitated.

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Let the sociological battles begin!

Posted by Steven on May 28, 2006

Sociology is the black hole field of psychology. If you happen to find yourself on a shrink’s couch you have some idea what you need to tell him: that your parents weren’t emotionally there for you when you needed them and that caused you to fall from a star three sport high school athlete (track, baseball, and bocce), to an obese forty year old drone who works in the company copy room. Your boss recommended you to this place after he caught you shoving Twinkies and other Hostess snack items down your pants—he thought you could use some help. In this little scenario, we know who has the problem, the guy, and given adequate therapy I’m sure he could be “cured” There is a problem and a solution. In sociology there are no solutions, only problems. This comes from the way sociologists view the world—they see it only its flaws and they believe humanity has the power to fix them. Unfortunately the world and society in general is so flawed that this endeavor is hopeless, no matter how many people they influence.

I guess I’m so opposed to sociology because I have a friend who babbles about sociological issues every day as we ride to school. He sometimes asks for my opinion on the issue, whether it be racism, sexism, illegal immigration, etc. I usually don’t care about the issue—I just want a ride to school without the complimentary moral dilemma, so I’ll attempt to make a joke out of the situation—at which point he’ll accuse me of stereotyping. I can’t argue with him, a lot of humor does come from stereotyping people and things, but that humor isn’t necessary reflective of the person telling the joke. The person may be just trying to get a laugh out of the ammeter sociologist because let’s face it, all sociologists are tightwads. Was I stereotyping again? Damn!

My friend’s questions have a tendency to make me feel inadequate. They leave me asking questions about my life that, before I met him seemed irrelevant but now take on profound importance—and I don’t like it. Questions like, how often to I stereotype people? Is my circle of friends racially diverse? Is it wrong that I eat my Chinese food with a fork instead of chopsticks?

The only reason he thinks about these questions so heavily is he took like six sociology classes all thaught by the same teacher, a woman who is revered and practically worshiped on campus because she is a liberal, no bullshitting around the bush gal with an affinity for the F word. However I have heard her teaching style is very objective—she encourages kids to organize rallies and walkouts around campus. In short: raise passive aggressive, constitutionally protected hell According to my friend this teacher has complained that students aren’t as proactive as when she was going to school back in the 70’s with the pot smoking, tie dye T-shirt wearing, free loving liberals of tomorrow, and she just wants to know, where have those values gone?

For her class final you have two options: write a 10 page paper or dress in drag for a day. My friend was going to dress up but he backed out at the last minute. He seemed so committed to the cause I thought he was going to become a full blown transvestite. Apparently this project is supposed to show men who dress up that women have a rougher go of in life because they have to get ready for school every day by throwing on makeup and like while having to fend off misguided horny guys who stare at them because they see them as sex objects—not because they are men dressed in drag.
My school’s other sociology teacher has a vendetta against sweatshops. His office door is plastered with propaganda, telling you which clothes are produced in sweatshops along with a sample letter telling you how to write to Mr. Old Navy that you strongly oppose his company’s use of sweatshops and Fran Drescher as a spokeswoman, because you shouldn’t take advantage of a woman’s nasally voice to sell clothes.

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