Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Fallon Sounds Like Falling You Should Use That For The Title

I have the same opinion on comedians as I do with musicians -- you like what you like. I try not to care if somebody says they don't like The Beatles, and the same goes with Stella. I could argue why someone should like Paul McCartney's lyrics or why the line "my urethra shut down at 4 o'clock today" is very funny, but ultimately art is subjective and there are no right answers. If Jay Leno or Carlos Mencia or that guy with the puppets makes you laugh, that's awful, but if the laughter goal is achieved you can't argue with results.

I'm sure, despite my feelings, that some folks have a taste for Jimmy Fallon, and that his stint as the new NBC Late Night host will have a decent following. But reading portions of "'Late Night' host Fallon just wants to have fun", must give reasonable humans reservations:
NEW YORK – After a bullish staff meeting (which ended with a cheer) and before a wardrobe fitting (strictly suit-and-tie), Jimmy Fallon took time to marvel at how busy he is these days.

"The busiest I've ever been in my life," he tells a visitor to the new "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" offices at NBC.

"It's 'SNL' times three. Times five. Times 10!"

Wow! That sounds pretty busy! Your career has been such a skyrocketing supercharged sky rocket, I'm surprised you have time to think of cheers to end your meetings with. Let's look back on that career:
At age 34, he's puppy-dog enthusiastic, funny and cool in an unassuming way. It's an engaging blend that kept viewers tickled for six seasons on "SNL," where he scored with impressions of Jerry Seinfeld, John Travolta and Justin Timberlake, and created recurring characters like Nick Burns, the know-it-all tech-support guy. He has appeared in films including "Almost Famous," "Taxi" and "Fever Pitch."

My point, Jimmy, is when the three films that made the cut in a brief AP article are a great film where you spoke two lines, an incredible failure, and a regular failure, that's not saying much about your career. The most recent of those films, "Fever Pitch", was released in 2005. It's easy to feel super busy when you haven't had steady work in 3+ years. What the hell have you been doing with yourself?

(And AP guy, you might want to cool your "engaging blend" talk. No one ever stayed up on Saturday night hoping to catch a glimpse of Nick Burns or that college dorm room webcam sketch Fallon penned.)
Then, last spring, Fallon was tapped by "Late Night" executive producer Lorne Michaels (his former "SNL" boss) to return to the halls of 30 Rock, this time as host of his own show.

The idea had been broached long before, when he was exiting "SNL," Fallon says.

"Lorne was like, 'Keep in mind that Conan's gonna need a replacement in 2009.' This was in 2004. I said, 'I don't know.'"

"Hey, it's Lorne. You can let your career go into the shitter, Jimmy. I'll hire you at Late Night 2009 for no good reason!"

For months, "Late Night" has been percolating in cyberspace with video blogs that offer an inside look at how a TV talk show germinates. The Fallon-era "Late Night" is already adhering to a policy of transparency.

And also interactiveness. Item: On his video blog, Fallon introduced to the world the show's new logo — which viewers of that "vlog" had a hand in selecting.

"We're not trying to ignore the fact that people are in front of a computer at work and surf the Web all day long, or that kids check the Internet when they get home from school," Fallon says. "We want to exploit that, and have fun with it. I'm on Facebook and I've been on Twitter just talking to my fans. It's amazing!"

He recalls an experience a few weeks ago attending the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

"Across the street — I'm not kidding — was the Adult Entertainment Expo." So he fired a text message to his followers on Twitter. "I said, 'There's got to be some great jokes about this. Give 'em to me!' And in about a minute I had hundreds. Like: 'I got a coupon to double my RAM, and I don't know which place to use it.'

"How cool is that! Maybe we can incorporate something like that in the show."

How cool is that? I'm going to go with "Not at all cool." There's a reason I don't seek out tweets to tickle my funny bone. I already get my daily dose of comedy from average cell phone users -- they're called my coworkers, and I say with confidence that zero of them deserve their own late night talk show, nor the right to submit jokes to a late night talk show. How about you be a professional, Jimmy, and generate the comedy yourself? I'll bet you've got some killer John Travolta impersonation material that could be very relevant in 2009. How about some of that?

"I'll also talk to scientists and chefs and animal trainers," Fallon pledges with a grin.

This was the first attributed quote that didn't make me angry, and then you had to go and flash that unassuming grin.

But again, full circle, whatevs. I'm getting older and sleepier, and that means I never have to see his show. Godspeed to those who do.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Kurious Kase Of Kix

Before everyone's life went into the shitter, I had a rule about purchasing cereal. My magic price point was $2.00 -- any box that cost more than $2.00 was what I liked to call "OFF LIMITS", unless I really really wanted a box of Cracklin' Oat Bran, the world's finest petting-zoo-food-shaped cereal.

With this modest approach, I could still enjoy a wide variety of breakfast cereals. Nearly all generics were cheap, and even name brands would occasionally slip beneath $2.00 when on sale. That is, except for one heavy hitter.

Motherfucking Kix cereal. Kid tested, mother approved, always pricey. Made from an apparently magical recipe, no food scientist has been able to produce a generic Kix alternative, even though it's existed since 1937. With its stranglehold on the market, General Mills won't allow its price to dip under $3.00 per box. Unless you want to buy some new Honey Kix, at a low introductory price, which you shouldn't, because I bought it, just because Kix has been out of my budget for so long I miss it, even though it's not that great, but Honey Kix is hardly a suitable replacement, so don't bother.

General Mills, end this madness. Or I will bust you down to lieutenant so fast it'll make your head spin.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Quietly, The Most Annoying Thing

So, today. Work. Another post about work. What else are you going to read? Nick's blog? Unlikely.

Today I had to do one of those, "Okay, highlight the text, now go to FORMAT, click PARAGRAPH, and adjust both of those to ZERO PT and click OK." Followed by a, "There's a typo in the METHODS slide, in the title text box -- no, before this... keep going, another one... this one. You're missing the word CHILD. And you need a capital N. No, down. Down further. Yeah. There."

Excruciating. Missed opportunities for shortcut keys. Mouse misdirection. So hard to watch. Like watching a novice control Link, wandering around the map, attempting to burn Zelda bush after Zelda bush looking for a staircase. Exactly like that. Perfect metaphor.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Mother And Child And Me Reunion

I had to go to another hospital to look at more mother/infant charts yesterday. The hospital was in the middle of a medium-sized-for-Kansas town, a town I've often admired during my drive-throughs, with its many porch swings and impressive old courthouse. "What's it like down here?" I'd think, cruising past the Main Street storefronts. "Do the young men like to piss on restroom stall toilet seats instead of using the last unoccupied urinal? Do the young women enjoy smoking during their pregnancies? Does the hospital cafeteria's lo mein recipe consist of spaghetti, shredded chicken, and a ton of soy sauce?" After my day of research, I know the answers, and they leave two metaphoric and one literal bad taste in my mouth.

Then there were the baby names. My God, the baby names. I've divided the most notable into the following categories:


Zane (M)

Okay, fine. Z is a pretty strong letter, and Billy Zane is a pretty strong actor, so things could be worse. Things DO get much worse...


Amethyst (F)
Kaiden (M)

Hmm. You can force anything to become a name, I guess. It could be worse. Much worse...


Kaia (F)

I've been thinking about this for two days, and I still haven't ventured a guess. KY-uh? KAY-uh? Fuck it. I don't want to know.


Jonathon (M)
Tristen (M)
Abbigail (F) (x2)
Obree (F)
Rylee (F)

What is the thinking behind this trend? "Yeah, I want my kid to have a unique name, but not unique sounding. I just want one or two letters of the homophone to be different. Or maybe all of the letters. You know, to make it a pain in the ass when he/she grows up and tries to make a hotel reservation by telephone. And what are the odds of two mothers in a medium-sized town settling on a double-B Abigail? At some point, it stops being a coincidence and starts being an indictment of the local school district.


Mallory (F)


Kenlye (F)
Nevadda (F)
Chasity (F)
Mavrick (M)

Let me assure you that none of these were typos. I doublechecked, and these are definitely legit. The first two, well, I think I see what they were going for there, but ultimately it's a failure. Unless they're supposed to be pronounced "ken-LIE" or "nev-add-DUH", it's a problem.

I was going to jump all over the third one, but a quick google reveals "The girl's name Chasity is pronounced CHASS-i-tee. Simplified form of Chastity." I have a problem with simplifying a three-syllable word into another three-syllable word that looks like a typo, but whatever. I guess there's precedent. Really stupid precedent.

The final name -- just, wow. It's assumed John McCain has no influence, because it was a 2007 birth, well before McCain became a frontrunner and before the Maverick exaggerations gained speed. No, this name was bestowed for other reasons. Like, uh, hatred of the letter "e"? And Top Gun?'s Name Voyager shows that Jerry Bruckheimer is the probable force behind the traditional, e-featuring version of the name, as it did not exist until idiots/80's movie fans/Tom Cruise fans/terrible parents brought it to life.

I know you're curious, and the answers are No, No, and Yes:

Oh, right, like former NFL and Little House on the Prairie great Merlin Olson. I never really considered that he shared his first name with King Arthur's wizard (and Cougar's navigator). I hope I never consider it again. Maybe Merlin's dominance in depression-era America should serve as a stark reminder (reminders are always stark) that baby names will always be terrible, and the circle shall never be unbroken.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Comment Feeds

I'm sure many of you already figured this out, but it was news to me, so...

To subscribe to EVERY COMMENT MADE on this site, plug

into your RSS reader. If you're like me, you find it annoying that Blogger doesn't tell you this outright, and instead seems to think you have time to subscribe to every individual post you're interested in, rather than ALL the posts on a given site. And it's very handy for we bitter individuals who are unable to see comments via the blog or email during a workday, because our IT department wisely blocks such frivolity.

I trust this makes all of our lives that much sweeter. Happy commenting,

Thursday, February 05, 2009


Boy oh boy, I really hate morning news shows. From CNN to the major networks, they're all awful trash bloated by frequent commercials and local traffic updates.

Each show begins with the main news story, which is the same across all networks 90% of the time, and usually features an interview with a relevant expert. However, in the age of risk communication and public relations training, "interview" really means "opportunity to repeat prearranged sound bites". Chances are, the last time you saw a "Today" interview question answered in an enlightening or unexpected way, Hugh Downs was the host.

When they're done with their news briefs -- 30 or so seconds each on run-of-the-mill wildfires and global suffering -- a female co-host speaks directly to America's moms, instigating the daily panic for their children's welfare. No matter the subject the message is interchangeable: your kids are probably going to die. These are usually health-related stories (peanut allergy, autism, lead, outbreak... but occasionally you'll hear about something happening in China that has no bearing on the US, or one abducted child in the past two months in the entire country). When the stories intersect with my profession, I almost always find an error or two in their reporting; I shudder to think of what lies I'm absorbing during the stories outside of my areas of expertise.

BUT ANYWAY, this comes up as most things do, because I subscribe to the blog feed of a woman I don't know but two of my friends know even though those friends don't know each other who I think has once commented on this blog flipped from "Good Morning America" to "Today" this morning, and witnessed some heartwarming, tear-inducing light news. Here's the USA Today version of the story:
Maine player with Down Syndrome wows the crowd

CUMBERLAND, Maine (AP) — The team manager for Maine's Greely High School boys basketball team fulfilled a longtime dream when he went from the bench to the starting lineup.

Patrick Thibodeau, who has Down Syndrome, trotted onto the floor Tuesday night for the team's final home game of the season. When the time came to shoot, he nailed a 3-pointer for the second basket of the game. He hit another at the final buzzer.

Patrick, a Greely senior, has been the team manager for years, and the players decided his time had come to put on the No. 3 jersey and play.

His father, the team's statistician, was released from a hospital early -- he suffered a stroke two weeks ago -- so he could witness the event.

Greely won 61-43 against Gray-New Gloucester.

In another game Tuesday, a student with high-functioning autism who is the team manager for Auburn's Edward Little High School was also given a chance to play.

Wearing No. 27, Josh Titus entered the game in the fourth quarter and made four baskets, including a 3-pointer that sent the home crowd into a frenzy.

Edward Little won the game, 63-38, over Leavitt High School.

Let's take the second party of the article first. As Tornado Slide has already established, there is nothing that prevents and autistic teen from shooting hoops.

Despite all of this expertise, I didn't know if it was more difficult to succeed in throwing round balls through ten-foot-high circles for someone with Down's, compared to the average Joe, or compared to the exceedingly above average Joe Johnson. My research led me to the authority on medical matters, Wikipedia:
Many of the common physical features of Down syndrome also appear in people with a standard set of chromosomes. They may include a single transverse palmar crease (a single instead of a double crease across one or both palms, also called the Simian crease), an almond shape to the eyes caused by an epicanthic fold of the eyelid, upslanting palpebral fissures (the separation between the upper and lower eyelids), shorter limbs, poor muscle tone, a larger than normal space between the big and second toes, and protruding tongue.

Aside from the muscle tone issue, I don't see any condition that would preclude tossing the ol' rock into the basket. In addition, the odd photo that accompanies the Wikipedia article

(that was posted to the site by the photo subject's father? Let's make that "very odd".) supports the conclusion that Down Syndrome has little effect on physical ability. (FUN FACT: Carpentry is often called "Handyman Basketball".)

SO ANYWAY, let's distill this story to its essence:

*Two benchwarmers were given the chance to play Tuesday night, but neither player influenced the outcome of his game.

That's nice. As a fan and as a former benchwarmer, it's fun to see the scrubs get some time on the court. But it is not news.

*Both scored more than once, and both recorded 3-point goals.

The USA Today repeatedly stresses the long-range shots, wanting us to believe a made 3 is a great feat, something on par with baseball's grand slam. In truth, it's just another shot, slightly more difficult than most field goals, slightly less impressive than baseball's double. They want my reaction to be, "Wow! 3-balls! Waaaaaay outside! From downtown! Amazing!" Instead, it's, "Huh. These two guys each made a very common shot that they've attempted thousands of times before, a shot that even bad players can make at a 25% clip, a shot that a sixty-year-old woman taken out of the stands at halftime might attempt to win a free Pizza Hut personal pan pizza."

*Both have non-physical medical conditions.

Here we are, finally. The inessential impetus for the story.

I suppose Tuesday could have been a pretty special moment for both Patrick and Josh. They got to play. They got to shoot. They got to score. They won. They could have woken up the next morning, grabbed the sports section, and saw their names and stats in the box score. If they were lucky, they might have seen their names in the brief recap of the game -- "Titus added 9 points on 4 of 6 shooting in the final quarter, as the Falcons soared to victory," or something like that.

Instead, these athletes were insulted with this fluff piece bullshit. They got the journalistic equivalent of "You went to the bathroom ALL BY YOURSELF! I'm so PROUD of you! You're quite an independent little man!"

Monday, February 02, 2009

More Like Artificial Unintelligence

Netflix, I love you, but...

What the hell are you talking about? Alright, I can kind of understand the first one. Monty Python's absurdist humor matches well with drugs, so Pink Floyd isn't a terrible suggestion. (Unless you want to enjoy yourself. HEY-OOOH!)

You pair my admiration for The Graduate with the musical stylings of Roy Orbison. Not Simon or Garfunkel, the men who soundtracked the film, but the legendary Roy Orbison, whom Elvis once described as the finest singer of his generation. Sure, I love me some Roy, but Dustin Hoffman's quarterlife crisis has no bearing on my affection for "Only the Lonely".

Things go completely off the rails with your final suggestions, two Rage Against the Machine DVDs. Dave Chapelle and Zack de la Rocha are both black men who urge social justice -- you might have been fine if you left things there. Instead, you threw in The Big Lebowski. The Dude also strives for fairness, I suppose, but you're grasping for straws. Pulp Fiction = Rage? That movie is full of surf guitar and Dusty Springfield and Neil Diamond covers!

Shape up, Netflix robot.