Monday, March 26, 2007

Second Life

Assuming we don't find ourselves there before tomorrow, we're going to the hospital in the morning, and we're not leaving until we have a small infant in our hands.

Here is a short play about the last time this happened, two and a half years ago:

MEG: (in, like, labor) I can't do this!
PATRICK'S BRAIN: "'Can't'? Well! That's one contraction I didn't expect to see today!"
A DIFFERENT PART OF PATRICK'S BRAIN: Do not say that out loud.
PATRICK'S BRAIN: Right. Good tip.
MEG: (eventually has a baby)


Anyway, that's going on.

Time to move, I guess.


Update, 3/27/07, 12:18pm: Meg eventually had a baby.
(Maxwell Henry Mortensen; 8 pounds 3 ounces; 21 3/4"; everyone doing fine. Also: Wet Swiffers and Baby Wipes? Not analagous. Repeat: NOT analagous.)

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Post Production

They have those R2D2 mailboxes outside my office (one on 5th ave and 50th and another on 5th and 52nd), and I was walking by and a woman was putting a letter in and then she did that thing that people who don't trust simple machines do where after she closed the little door she opened it again to make sure the letter had actually gone inside, and the move was so eerily similar to the one Carrie Fisher does after she says, "You're my only hope" in episode iv, that it felt like my brain was swallowing something.

Her hair was different though.
Happy Belated Life Day, by the way.

It was a bad idea

to have this contest open for ten days.

She misunderstood
When I said she was “Grotesque”
Akzidenz happen

Stupid McSweeney’s!
Now I can’t see Garamond
Without thinking: “twee”

Best actor ever:
Henry Winkler, as “The Fontz”?

Mind your q and p
Futura’s not ours to see
Que Serif, Serif

Post-Soon-Yi Previn,
Windsor EF Light Condensed
Somehow seems dirty

Designers face off
On new reality show:
“Last Comic Sans-ing”

“Sun”, “Square”, “X”, “Carrot”..?
Is this whole thing in Dingbats?
Carson, you devil!

Kristen ITC,
We will always have Juarez.
(Age of consent’s twelve.)

Do not be confused!
I did not write on your screen:
I used Vivaldi.

I thought I’d make an
“Ode to a Grecian Kern” joke
Here. (Lipsum culpa.)

Update, 3/28: I got an honorable mention for two of them.
Q: (1) Did I not win outright because I split the vote? (2) Am I my own Perot?
A: (1) No and (2) yes, probably.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Remember that time I said I liked Rose McGowan but it would be better if one of her legs were a machine gun?

Well, look look look look look look look.

Grindhouse posterboy Sidney Poitier is in it too!

Oh, wait. It's his daughter. "Sydney".

OK, I don't care, it doesn't matter: Awesome awesome awesome awesome awesome.

And if I ever lose my mouth, all my teeth, north and south

Kottke linked to this movie of a lunar transit of the sun captured by NASA.
My initial thoughts are:


Seriously, there's stuff like that happening somewhere in the universe while I'm sitting at my desk trying to figure out which Venture Brothers episode is my favorite.

Probably I Know Why the Caged Bird Kills because of the "Catherine the Great" line.
But, um, also Dia de Los Dangerous. Ooh, also, Hate Floats. Or all the other ones about the failure of the Space Age to live up to its promises to us.

Oh! I can't choose. I love you all the same.
Thanks, Lunar Transit of the Sun, for helping me realize I love all Venture Brothers episodes the same!

Monday, March 12, 2007

Something perfect you can do

if you're like stuck at work (note: just kidding; work is for working at) is listen to This American Life streams while looking at Glen Murphy's old java experiments from like five years ago at

For the January 5 episode, may I recommend:

maya1 for Act I (The Super Always Rings Twice)*
europa for Act II (Please Re-Lease Me)**
smoke2 for Act III (Super Duper) ***

* Because it's all cloudy charcoal, but then you start to see these spirograph Dave Ford drawings-by-trucks crop circle patterns, but then you look away from it for a minute and when you look back, it's darker and more complex than you thought it was going to be. (a)
** I love pretty much everything Joshuah Bearman has ever done in History, but he confuses me because he chooses to live in LA. (No disrespect.)
*** I actually don't have anything to say about this one, but it looked lonely without asterisks.

I recommend maya1 for everything, actually. Not just This American Life episodes. I mean I recommend everyone spend several hours a day watching it, even the blind. In fact, unless you can literally see me doing something else as you read this, you can just assume that's what I'm doing right now.

Whoa, θ • (π/180) • r for a central angle θ -- I didn't see that coming!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

There There Be Monsters

Herewith are the other monster stories I did for Stefan Bucher's Daily Monster project. I suspect none of them make sense without watching the videos, but anyway. (Please click the links to the videos; they're all perfect.)
I want writing these to be my job; how do I do that?

The flip side of this particular coin is: since this is the only thing I've written in months with anything approaching "enthusiasm", I think I need either pseudocollaboration or deadlines to jolt my brain into activity. Too bad; I could have been a contender. If anyone wants to co-author a screenplay about bat-bomb inventor Lytle Adams (#96), it looks like my slate is pretty much clean for a bit. (Your job would be to read what I've written.) (Or, wait, is that what a blog is for?)

Monster 96: (or, Three Stanza Limerick About the Offspring of a Bat and a Squid)

In the ’40s, a dentist named Lytle
Tied some bombs to some bats with a bridle.
(It was his master plan
That they’d fly to Japan
And the Second World War would go idle.)

My dad was among those recruited
(And combustible-uniform suited).
He met a squid (mother);
One thing led to another
(Her ink sac leaves details disputed).

The echolocation’s incessant
Plus, too, I’m bio-luminescent.
But from this phylogeny
I stand here: their progeny!
Ninety-six, or: “Le Monstre Quiescent”.

Monster 97: (or, You Fall Down on your Left)

The words of the casting director ringing in his ear like uncharitable tinnitus (“Need I say, with overmuch emphasis, that it is in the leg division that you are deficient?”), 97 hops to the door.

He’ll come over to your place tonight to let you know that he botched another audition.
It is true that the two of you had to bow out of participating in the three legged race at your company picnic, and you have to constantly remind him that flamingos are not making fun of him when they go unidexter at the zoo. It is true: he is no Johnny Weissmuller, but let’s be frank, you are no Maureen O’Sullivan.

And tonight you will have a dream. You are walking outside Grauman’s Chinese Theater with Monster 97, past Maureen O’Sullivan’s square, past Johnny Weissmuller’s, past the square of Dudley Moore, who, you note (as you are a fan of synergy), was in a film with Bo Derek, who was, after all, in a Tarzan movie. And you look down at your own square and then turn to 97 and ask why there is only one footprint.

“That,” 97 says, “is when I carried you.”

Maureen O’Sullivan was Ireland’s first film star. Were you? She was Woody Allen’s mother in law (kind of). Were you? No. You will wake up and look at him lying there and realize that despite everything you are in this for the long haul. “Sleep tight, 97,” you’ll say.

Tomorrow, you’ll call in sick and help him practice his audition monologue (the clergyman speech from Princess Bride), but for now you just say, “Sleep tight.”

Monster 98: (or, The Seven Year Ditch)

Elsewhere known as Rose Loomis, Lois Laurel, Lorelei Lee... in this case, she was just “The Girl,” but that didn’t make the words sting any less:

So he lured me down to his apartment,” The Girl said. “He made me sit on his piano bench. Then he made me play Chopsticks. Then, suddenly, he turned at me, his eyes bulging. He was frothing at the mouth... Just like The Creature from the Black Lagoon.” The sting faded to a burn, the burn to an itch, and then the itch just hung out while the next seven years lurched by.

They say Time is the Ultimate Antihistamine, #98 thinks, but after seven years of itching, maybe it’s time to just do something about it. Tilting his head back, 98’s eyelids roll down like the weighted eyelids on a doll and he thinks, that’s what The Girl was: a doll with weighted eyelids, but he knows in his heart this is an oversimplification, just like her calling him The Creature from the Black Lagoon had been (98 had actually gone to high school with The Creature, though they ran in different crowds; didn’t he end up with Julie Adams? She’s on Lost now!!).

As he scratches his back, he hums to himself, not without a little regret:

One, two, three, steadily,
Let’s hear the melody,
This is the way that the "Chopsticks" go.

Be sure to give 'em
That regular rhythm.
Where have you gone, Ms. DiMaggio?

Monster 99: (or, Worst Twilight Zone Ever)

These days, relationships with neighbors can be quite complicated. You know, little things that get blown up out of all proportion? Such is CBS’s relationship with Serling as he touches up draft #99 on this thing Matheson turned in called “The Invaders”. He is tired now, and his head is pounding and he finds himself thinking often of the Mind Body Problem.

In “The Invaders” there is no dialogue until the last three minutes of the script. CBS thinks: not so much. They balked at the first draft: a the entirety of the text of a whole teleplay consisting of “Central Control! Come in Central Control! Incredible race of giants here! No counterattack! Stay away!” and then the camera pans down to reveal the lettering on the side of the saucer: “U.S. Air Force Space Probe No. 1”. It’s a total sockdolager of an ending: The invaders are us! (Or has he taken that trip to the well once too often?) Serling’s head is killing him.

So, he closes his eyes and tries to think of a new draft: Maybe the woman comes up through the trap door. Maybe the space ship separates, and tries to lift off, leaving the monster behind it, but maybe the woman has an axe and is bearing down on them. Maybe as she attacks, a distress call is heard from the tiny ship:

Head on: apply directly to the Moorehead.
Head on: apply directly to the Moorehead.
Head on: apply directly to the

Fifteen years or so later, in “The Tenant”, Roman Polanski will sum up the problem thusly: “Cut off my arm. I say, ‘Me and my arm.’ But cut off my head... would I say, ‘Me and my head’ or ‘Me and my body’?”

This is spookily close to what Serling is thinking right now, but he will never hear those words; he will have been dead a year before that movie comes out: stress, smoking, heart attacks. But in this way we can find an answer: the body will be gone, but the head will still fly around, usually in early ante meridiem but also sometimes as a marathon on the SciFi channel, especially when it’s a holiday weekend, especially then, the head is still flying around.

Monster 100: (or, Monotreme Enthusiasts and Professional Skeptics Meet at a Holiday Inn in Fresno)

The spiritual heirs of John Nevil Maskelyne would no doubt take issue with the adjective “spiritual”, but nevertheless, here they are: a group of magicians, experts, textperts, choking smokers and skeptics taking time off from their endless pursuit of rogue billet readers to meet in Conference Room A of a Holiday Inn in Fresno to puzzle out the existence of Monster 100.

The more taxonomically inclined ask, is Monster 100 a

The case for: He has hair and he just laid an egg.
The case against: Teeth.

The prevailing opinion, then, is that perhaps the egg-laying is just some clever legerdemain (“legerdederriere”?) on 100’s part. He does bear a passing resemblance to Ricky Jay, or at least something Ricky Jay would be interested in (they say
broadsheets begin to resemble their owners). Where is Ricky Jay, anyway? Shouldn’t he be here? They put the video on a loop and they determine: there is some funny business going on with that second sheet of paper. Perhaps that’s how it was done? But no one can pinpoint it exactly. Murmurs from the crowd: “Eggs are common enough magician props”; “Nothing up my sheaves”; “Regardless, man, you should have seen them kicking Edgar Allan Poe.”

And then someone says, “The great mentalist, The Amazing Dunninger, once said there is one primary rule in the fakery of spirit mediumship” (one assumes that this extends to Magical Egg Apparition); he continues: “And that is, to concentrate upon persons who have suffered a bereavement.” The speaker looks around the room: everyone there is suffering a bereavement, for 100 is the last of the Daily Monsters. The magicians look around at each other for a moment and then shuffle sadly out of the conference room. They’re in no state to crack this one, and anyway, Martin Gardner is going to do a Power Point about the time he had a fistfight with Uri Geller and they don’t want to miss it.

As they file out, the video is still on a loop, and that Logan Hasson viola piece comes up again as the last magician is turning off the light. Listening to it, he can almost put some words to it: “I am the Eggman. They are the eggmen. I am the walrus,” but then as immediately as it starts to make sense, he has lost it again, and so he snaps the lights off at last.

Goo goo g’joob g’goo goo g’joob.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

This might be the dumbest joke ever

(but it made me laugh)
Q: What is E.T. short for?
A: Because he has little legs!!!
Actually, there was a 12-year-old boy without legs inside the costume for some of the scenes.
So that's another reason.
But I'm not sure if that information makes the joke funnier or not.
If this is not hilarious enough for you and you want something else that (1) isn't funny and (2) has to do with E.T., perhaps this is the place for you?

Monday, March 05, 2007

Jesus is Mopey, or: “Sorkin, Sorkin, Lama Sabachthani”

OK, Aaron Sorkin, so. You didn't use my last sketch idea. Cool, whatever. But the facts remain: even though I am still terrible at writing sketches, I am still not as terrible as you. So here is another one. This one has to do with the “vague mocking of religious things” and requires “cursory research to understand”. Therefore: it is totally “up your alley”.

The deal stands: steal this, and give it to Mark McKinney to make better, and as always, I am willing to add a scene at the end where you and Kristin Chenoweth snort coke off each other's genitals. Intrigued? Good. Because I'm only giving you six more chances to make this show live up to its promise. SIX MORE CHANCES! GET IT RIGHT, SORKIN!!!


Jesus is Mopey

Split screen between the two characters. Andrew and James are wearing tunics and mantles or whatever. Andrew is calling James on the phone.

James: Hello?
Andrew: Hey, James the Elder, son of Zebedee, Fisher of Men.
James: Oh, hey, Andrew, Brother of Simon Peter. What’s the word?
Andrew: God.
James: Uh...
Andrew: Or, at least, the Word is with God..? It’s sort of confusing.
James: Um, what?
Andrew: You know what? I don’t even know. Hey, I just got off the phone with Jesus.
James: Yeah? How’s He doing?
Andrew: Two words: Mo. Pey.
James: Yo, you’re right. What's up with Him lately? At first I thought, oh, He's just depressed because of whatshername, He'll get over it, but now I think we should talk to Him maybe. Take Him out for falafel or something -- anything to get Him away from that damn PlayStation.
Andrew: Totally. On the phone I was all, “Is this not the carpenter's son?” and He's all, “Leave me alone, I'm playing Katamari Damacy.”
James: Have you been over to His place? I don't think He's left it in 40 days! I say that as a symbolic approximation.
Andrew: Sure.
James: Bread and fish filling up the trash can like He's playing Jenga, and He's stopped shaving again. “I'm trying to grow it out.” He looks like Kenny Loggins.
Andrew: (distractedly) “Danger Zone”-era, or “I'm Alright”-era?
James: ...I don't know.
Andrew: (quickly) Just kidding, I don't know what those things mean either...
James: Yeah.
Andrew: What does that even mean?
James: Yeah. Listen, I think the twelve of us should get together and take him out to dinner.
Andrew: Yeah, OK.
James: How's shortly before next Easter for you?
Andrew: Yeah, but listen, no Judas this time.
James: Why? I mean, sure, he can be a little Touchie-Feelie, but we'll just tell him not to kiss anybody. Also, he's the only one with an Explorer, and while the “All in One Accord” joke was funny the first time, I'm not sitting on Peter's lap again. “Petra” means “rock.”
Andrew: Touchie-Feelie is right. And how he always says “How’s it hanging?” And then he just LOOKS at you? And his thing about “the cock crew thrice?” It’s kind of perv.
James: Judas said that? Oh, man, all this time Matthias’ been saying you said that. Later, Matthias was stoned and then beheaded. Anyway, we wouldn't be the Twelve Musketeers without Judas!
Andrew: I thought we decided to call ourselves the Twelve Disciples.
James: I don’t even know anymore. At the last meeting, I think first it was Twelve Apostles. Then it was the Twelve Angry Men, then the Twelve Steps.
Andrew: And then someone was like let’s invite Thaddeus! And then someone else wanted to invite Nathanael. And then someone wanted to invite Levi. We have fifteen people for twelve positions.
James: I think Levi’s the same as Matthew.
Andrew: He is?
James: I don’t know. Scholars disagree.
Andrew: Whatevs, what’s one more tax collector, more or less?
James: Yeah, so, uh, listen, I gotta go, but give me a call later.
Andrew: Will do.
James: And, uh, “If you don’t like fish…”
Both: “…stay out of Galilee!”
(both laugh)
Andrew: OK, talk to you.
James: Later.


Friday, March 02, 2007

Speaking of Which

Speaking of all that, this poster completely cracks me up. first I thought my favorite part was the Old Man Pants (a style now practiced only by Charles Durning in Coen Brothers movies), but now I think the sockdolager is the non-attribution on the quote, like back in 1941 the American public was so unsophisticated and free from guile that you could flim-flam them into seeing a movie they're not going to like by telling them it's "terrific" on the broadsheet.
It's much better than the 2007 analogue:

"It's Terrific!"
-- Jeff Craig, Sixty Second Preview
At any rate.
Pssst! It's his sled!

A Very Wearying One

Carl Philips is on the scene! Carl Philips says, "Good heavens, something's wriggling out of the shadow like a gray snake!" Carl Philips is shouting: "Now it's another one, and another one, and another one! They look like tentacles to me. I can see the thing's body now. It's large, large as a bear and it glistens like wet leather."

All this shouting, but the creature either can't hear him or doesn't want to; the creature says, "We know a remote farm in Lincolnshire, where Mrs. Buckley lives. Every July, peas grow there." But then he sees Carl and stops: "You really mean that? Don't you think you really want to say July over the snow?"

Carl is talking into his microphone: "That face, it... Ladies and gentlemen, it's indescribable. I can hardly force myself to keep looking at it, so awful. The mouth is V-shaped with saliva dripping from its rimless lips that seem to quiver and pulsate."

Did the creature hear this critique of his Habsburg jaw? He says, "There's no known way of saying an English sentence in which you begin a sentence with "in" and emphasize it. Get me a jury and show me how you can say "in July" and I'll go down on you. Impossible! Meaningless!"

Carl says, "The thing's... rising up now. This is the most extraordinary experience, ladies and gentlemen. I can't find words..."

But the creature has the words; he counters: "Come on, fellas, you're losing your heads! Now, what is it you want? In your depths of your ignorance, what is it you want? Whatever it is you want, I can't deliver it because I just don't see it. This isn't worth it. No money is worth listening to..." and with that, he bounds out.

Strange it now seems to sit in my peaceful study at Princeton writing down this last chapter of the record begun at a deserted farm in Grovers Mill. Strange to watch children... playing in the streets. Strange to see young people strolling on the green, where the new spring grass heals the last black scars of a bruised earth. Strange when I recall the time when I first saw it, bright and clean-cut, hard, and silent, under the dawn of that last great day...

Originally posted here, like everything else I've done recently. With apologies: (1) (2)