Monday, December 27, 2010

JOYLESS

I think this might be a cry for help from the folks over at the Almond Joy division of Hershey:

Sunday, December 26, 2010

FOUND COMEDY: SNOOPY JAW HARP INSTRUCTIONS

These are the actual instructions that came with the Snoopy Jaw Harp I purchased 25 years ago (click to make larger):

Saturday, December 25, 2010

BETTER LATE

In 1998, I submitted for the Late Show with David Letterman. My comedy packet caught the eye of an executive at Worldwide Pants named Kate Adler. She invited me to CBS for a meeting — it remains the best meeting of my career. Adler was supportive, knowledgeable and funny.


Adler sent my submission to the head writer of the Late Show, Tim Long. He liked my stuff enough to want to do a phone interview. We spoke for a while, and he finished the call by saying "Your submission is really funny — all you'll have to do is meet [executive producer] Rob Burnett and you're probably good to go." It looked like my lifelong dream of writing for David Letterman would be coming true.

Then Tim Long quit the Late Show.

Long became a writer on some cartoon show. A great career move for him, but it had a butterfly effect on mine.

For a while, I ended up in limbo. At some point, Adler from Worldwide Pants called and assured me that I'd be hearing from them again.


Months went by, and I didn't hear from anyone. It took so long, I forgot about the whole thing, drowning my sorrow in question writing for Win Ben Stein's Money and then Singled Out. But I finally got the call — the Late Show's new head writer would like to interview me. In person. Shortly after, I received a plane ticket in the mail. I flew out to Manhattan where the show had booked me a room at Le Parker Meridien. With a view of Central Park.

The interview with the new head writer was the polar opposite of my meetings with Kate Adler and Tim Long. To say it went poorly is an understatement. I won't go into the details, but it wasn't really my fault. (One of the first questions was "So [the head writer of the show I worked for] is sleeping with [the female star], huh?" which is kind of an unanswerable question at a job interview.) I dodged the question, and that didn't seem to sit well with my interviewer. The brass ring had slipped away.

Years later when I read that the head writer with whom I'd interviewed left the show, I called my then-agent at William Morris. "The people at Worldwide Pants liked me, Tim Long liked me... the only one who didn't like me is the guy who isn't there any more. Can I get another interview?" I asked him. My agent responded by saying, "I don't really know anyone over at the Late Show." I blinked a few times and responded, "You should get an agent. I hear they're helpful at opening doors."

I'm not bitter that I missed my shot at writing for Dave. I think about it this way: When I was 12 or so and living in Parsippany, New Jersey, I used to wait until my parents went to sleep and then sneak downstairs into the living room to watch Late Night with David Letterman. I'd turn the volume way down so my parents wouldn't hear the TV. Consequently, in order to hear the jokes, I'd have to sit with my face right up against the television. Years of watching Late Night centimeters away from the TV has probably made me sterile.

So the idea that someday I'd actually have a legitimate shot at that dream job is astounding. To be invited in to the upstairs offices of the Ed Sullivan Theater is enough.

Well, maybe almost enough.

I still enter the Late Show's online Top Ten Contest from time to time. It's sort of like scratching my phantom comedy limb. Prior to this week, I'd made it on the list three times.
I forget the first one.

Top Ten Rejected Titles For "Brokeback Mountain" (01/01/2006)


Top Ten Least Popular New TV Shows (10/11/2008)


My rewards for winning were a Late Show cap, a Late Show t-shirt and a Late Show mousepad.

On April 25, 2009, I won a fourth time. I was lucky enough to be picked for #1 and this time I gave a shout out to my old home city of Parsippany:


On Christmas 2010, I made it onto the list for the 5th time.


I wish I were being offered The Job instead of a t-shirt.
But I'll settle for knowing that I can still make the list.

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NOTE:
This post has been updated several more times as I continued to be lucky enough to make it onto more Top Ten Lists.
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8

Thursday, December 9, 2010

LABELED

How could I not label my labelmaker?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

HEARST CASTLE TOUR #2

San Simeon, August 2010


The outdoor pool. It looks cool and all, but it's not even heated.

The interiors are as nice as the exterior.

And the view's pretty good too.

The indoor pool. 
Some of the tiles contain flakes of actual gold, which if you ask me, is almost a little gaudy.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Sunday, August 29, 2010

WINGS: NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM


A Gulf Fritillary

A Cloudless Sulphur

A Spicebush Swallowtail

A Mourning Cloak

When the sun finally poked through at noon, the butterflies got more fiesty.
A Mourning Cloak landed on my shoulder and remained there for nearly the rest of the visit.

A Monarch

A Pipe-vine Swallowtail
(if you know what I mean)

Unidentified Butterfly

Zebra Longtails

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

BLIGHTY 2012

Recently, the London Olympic Committee revealed their mascots that go by the names of Wanker and Blinkered (or something like that).



I'm not sure what these things are -- they look like two metallic butt plugs -- but I am certain that they're the worst Olympic mascots of all time.

They're a particularly big letdown when compared to Vancouver 2010's Quatchi, the greatest Olympic mascot in history.



The official London 2012 Olympic online store has already started selling collectable pins with the zig heiling Wanker and Blinkered.

In fact, they're selling lots of different types of pins. Pins for Olympic events, a pin with a double decker bus on it, a pin with a Buckingham Palace guard.

And then there's tea.

If you like tea, you've got eight choices of Olympic tea pins:



But if you want to know that the chaps on the London 2012 Olympic committee really think of their city, consider that they've manufactured no less than seven pins celebrating Blighty's inclement weather:



Even the sunny day pin has an umbrella on it!
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Saturday, June 19, 2010

WE'LL HAVE A GAELIC OLD TIME

The Irish cuisine at the Irish fest:




And there were many Irish items for sale...
...like this Irish Pride flag (on a German Iron Cross).

Plus -- all-you-can-eat sheep!

Mutton, Honey

A Ruminant of My Own

Because the DeLorean DMC-12 was manufactured in Northern Ireland,
there were about seven or eight on display.

Brightly-colored-yet-unhappy young step dancers

One clogs; the others wait angrily.

Those Irish step dancing skirts are so starched, they require a special carrying case (on the right).

Martin Luther King, Jr's Dream, Irish-style

Monday, June 7, 2010

MONTEREY

Small Fish, Big Aquarium
These orange jellyfish are not actually fish; they're gelatinous zooplankton. 
Also, they're not jelly; they're jam.

The Black Sea Nettle: No Vertebrate, No Problem


Leafy sea dragon

Be adorable. Be very adorable.

Friday, May 14, 2010

FOOT LOBSTER

Things are getting so bad economically that stores are merging just to try to stay in business.

Monday, April 12, 2010

DAVID BENNING'S MERIT BADGE FOR FIBBING

David Benning is running for Congress in California's 30th District (the Fighting 30th!). Benning's opponent is the incumbent Henry Waxman. It's going to be a tough race for the newcomer as Waxman is a fairly popular and powerful Representative.

Benning has never held political office before. (Though his official website touts his 15 years of experience as a "Boy Scout leader.") And it seems that Benning was concerned that voters would be turned off by his lack of experience — so afraid, in fact, that he posted a photo of himself aboard Air Force One at the top of the "About David" section of his website. The photo depicts Benning, his wife and another couple in front of Air Force One's iconic door.


You might ask yourself — what President invited Benning aboard a flight on the Presidential aircraft? The answer is "none."

Turns out the photo is of SAM 27000, the decommissioned Air Force One that has been an attraction at the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley since 2005.

Anyone willing to pay the $12 admission fee can get his photo taken in front of the former Air Force One (copies of the photos are extra). How do I know this? Well, I had my photo taken with the Presidential prop last January. (Read all about it in Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.)

(See — look how potentially-Congressional I look too!)

On his Welcome page, Benning says he's running for office because "It seems like Congress has completely lost touch with common sense." If that's the case, should Benning get elected, he'll fit right in. The aspiring Congressman did not have the common sense to identify the plane in his "About David" page as a phony.

But it does not appear to be an oversight on Benning's part; it seems like a deliberate attempt to fool the voters. Consider this:

1. Why post this photo at all? Take away the Air Force One backdrop, and it doesn't make much sense — there are two unidentified people in it. (I'm assuming the third unidentified person is his wife). Yet Benning chose the fake Air Force One picture to be the top photo on his "Meet David Benning" page — this is the photo that will introduce him to the voters of California.

2. He edited the photo before posting it. Looking at the original size of the photo (which can be seen on mine underneath), it's easy to see that Benning deliberately cropped the souvenir photo so as to make it look less like the gift-shop trinket it is.

Perhaps Benning the Scoutmaster forgot the Scout Oath:
On my honor, I will do my best
To do my duty to God and my country;
To obey the Scout Law;
To help other people at all times;
To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.


UPDATE: AS OF 2:20 PST, BENNING HAS QUIETLY ADDED A CAPTION TO THE PHOTO, IDENTIFYING THE AIRCRAFT IN HIS PHOTO AS BEING THE REAGAN LIBRARY PLANE.


But I've archived Benning's page in its original form — you can view it HERE.
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