Wednesday, August 31, 2005

copy. paste.

Via Kevin's laziness, I have discovered what I have known all along: I am totally punk.

You're a True Punk. You know that punk isn't all
about studded jackets and mohawks. If you're
political, you're actually informed. Most of
the stuff you love is from before the 80s,
though you know bands like Fugazi kept the
spirit going.

You Know Yer Indie. Let's Sub-Categorize.
brought to you by Quizilla

I have also discovered that my barometer for judging my own stand-up comedy has become dependent upon how many ladies compliment me after a show. Oh sure, making the audience howl with laughter is certainly one way to judge comedy skills...but from my own shallow point of view, nothing makes me feel like an all-star comic more than hearing a lovely lady tell me she thought I was funny after a set.

Yes, Charles, I wanted to be a rock star musician. I just can't play an instrument.

But that's because I am totally punk.

Escape from New Orleans

And then it got worse.

Again, from the AP:

With law officers and National Guardsmen focused on saving lives, looters around the city spent another day brazenly ransacking stores for food, clothing, appliances — and guns.

Thieves commandeered a forklift and used it to push up the storm shutters and break the glass of a pharmacy. The crowd stormed the store, carrying out so much ice, water and food that it dropped from their arms as they ran. The street was littered with packages of ramen noodles and other items.

Looters also chased down a state police truck full of food. The New Orleans police chief ran off looters while city officials themselves were commandeering equipment from a looted Office Depot. During a state of emergency, authorities have broad powers to take private supplies and buildings for their use.

Officials tried to balance security needs with saving lives.

"We're multitasking right now," said New Orleans Police Capt. Marlon Defillo. "Rescue, recovery, stabilization of looting, we're trying to feed the hungry."

Gov. Kathleen Blanco said she has asked the White House to send more people to help with evacuations and rescues, thereby freeing up National Guardsmen to stop looters.

"We need to free up the National Guard to do security in the city," Blanco said.

New Orleans' homeland security chief, Terry Ebbert, said looters were breaking into stores all over town and stealing guns. He said there are gangs of armed men moving around the city. At one point, officers stranded on the roof of a hotel were fired at by criminals on the street.

The Times-Picayune newspaper reported that the gun section at a new Wal-Mart had been cleaned out by looters.

Authorities said an officer was shot in the head and a looter was wounded in a shootout. The officer was expected to survive.

Authorities planned to send more than 70 additional officers and an armed personnel carrier into the city.

In the meantime, city authorities were putting a higher priority on rescuing victims and repairing a levee breach that was spilling water into the streets.

"One of our fears is if we don't stop the breach, that we will put good people's lives in jeopardy," the governor said. "We are concerned about essentials. We are asking for more military presence in the city to control the situation better.

On New Orleans' Canal Street, dozens of looters ripped open the steel gates on clothing and jewelry stores and grabbed merchandise. In Biloxi, Miss., people picked through casino slot machines for coins and ransacked other businesses. In some cases, the looting was in full view of police and National Guardsmen.

The historic French Quarter appeared to have been spared the worst flooding, but its stores were getting the worst of human nature.

"The looting is out of control. The French Quarter has been attacked," Councilwoman Jackie Clarkson said. "We're using exhausted, scarce police to control looting when they should be used for search and rescue while we still have people on rooftops."

Sen. Mary Landrieu's helicopter was taking off Tuesday for a flyover of the devastation and she watched as a group of people smashed a window at a gas-station convenience store and jumped in.

At a drug store in the French Quarter, people were running out with grocery baskets and coolers full of soft drinks, chips and diapers. Other looters were seen leaving a store with armfuls of tennis shoes and football jerseys.

We could really use the Justice League right about now...

"And so shines a good deed in a weary world."

Sometimes, tragedies do reveal the inherent goodness of human beings.

From the AP:

Americans Contribute Millions for Relief

Americans are pouring in millions of dollars in donations for disaster relief in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, rescue organizations said Wednesday.

The Red Cross said it had so far raised $21 million, a figure comparable to the response for tsunami victims following the devastation in Asia earlier this year. Nearly $15 million of that has come from individual donations through its Web site, with the rest representing corporate contributions.

"The outpouring of support has been amazing," said Kara Bunte, a spokeswoman for the Red Cross, which has set up hundreds of shelters for hurricane victims.

"People are now starting to see the images on TV and want to help," she said.

Catholic Charities USA, based in Alexandria, Va., said it has received hundreds of calls in the last few days from volunteers asking how they can help. The group has raised $15,000 through its Web site, but will be stepping up collection efforts at churches in the coming days.

"The response is right up there with the calls we had after 9-11," said spokeswoman Shelley Borysiewicz. "The American public is quite generous and they will rise to the occasion."

And sometimes tragedies just bring out the worst.

Via News Hounds:

[Sean] Hannity introduced an interview with Charles Foti, Louisiana Attorney General, and a former New Orleans sheriff, by saying, "This morning, cameras caught people ransacking a grocery store, trying to gather as much food as possible." Nearly everyone in the video was African American. The video was show[n] repeatedly throughout the hour.

After extending "our thoughts" to Foti, Hannity continued, "These images of looting have literally shocked the nation. How bad is it?"


Foti answered, "When you think about that you have no electricity, you have no food, you have limited water and the grocery stores are closed, that may not be looting. That might be self-preservation, OK? That food will go bad anyhow."

Hannity: "I think you can make that case for food. But I see people taking clothes and other items - and to a large extent televisions."

There were no people taking televisions in the video shown, although some did appear to have clothes and flowers. But mostly we saw people taking food.

Foti said his major priorities right now are to make sure the hospitals are running, to rescue people trapped on roofs, and to bring in food and water.

Hannity then accused Foti of "minimizing it."

Foti responded that he's not trying to minimize it. "The process that we have is that people are losing lives... The devastation in these areas is complete."

Alan Colmes pointedly asked if the officials didn't have many other priorities that had to take precedence over looting.

The AP even gets in on the act, as seen via Wonkette.

Finders keepers, looters weepers.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Monday, August 29, 2005

You WILL believe a spaghetti monster can fly ...

In an Open Letter to the Kansas School Board, Bobby Henderson makes the very compelling argument of why alternative Intelligent Design theories should ALSO be taught in school.

Let us remember that there are multiple theories of Intelligent Design. I and many others around the world are of the strong belief that the universe was created by a Flying Spaghetti Monster. It was He who created all that we see and all that we feel. We feel strongly that the overwhelming scientific evidence pointing towards evolutionary processes is nothing but a coincidence, put in place by Him.

There's even a chart providing empirical evidence of the inverse relationship between the decrease of pirates and the increase of global temperature.

You may be interested to know that global warming, earthquakes, hurricanes, and other natural disasters are a direct effect of the shrinking numbers of Pirates since the 1800s. For your interest, I have included a graph of the approximate number of pirates versus the average global temperature over the last 200 years. As you can see, there is a statistically significant inverse relationship between pirates and global temperature.

The evidence is overwhelming.

Remember, we are all His creatures.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005


Army Chaplain: ...hear what Robertson said? That we should assassinate Chavez?

Army Major: Yeah.

Army Chaplain: See, the media gets hold of something like that and that's why people think we're all whackos.

Lady: People know the difference between this guy and good guys.

Army Major: He should keep his mouth shut. Isn't he the same guy who said that judges were worse than terrorists who flew planes into buildings?

Army Chaplain: Sicko.


Army Major: Least he didn't get caught with a buncha whores!

Lady: Hey now --

Army Major: Remember Swaggart? With the tears! Waaah...

Army Chaplain: And what's his name. With the wife. And the make-up. Baker. Same thing!

Lady: I liked Baker...

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Double super secret probation

Nothing really to say, except that I'm posting this from my military work station.

That is all.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Targeting an audience? recruiting for al Qaida? I only ask because their latest ad banner is hilariously unfortunate and kind of in bad taste. Anyone else disturbed by this ad banner?

Memo to next time you embark on a marketing campaign designed to attract prospective job seekers...uh, maybe try NOT using creepy images of targets on buildings, people, and a map of America! Unless, of course, you're looking to hire out-of-work terrorists or something...

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Boston Ho

It's Annual Training time!

This year, I'll be doing two weeks of fun-filled training back in Massachusetts. What kind of training? "Army training, sir!"

So it's back to the ol' homestead for me - note to my Boston peeps (including Kevin, whom I have yet to e-mail), I'll be in town for two whole weeks while I play Army.

Special added bonus - you can come see me improv with the other fine funny folks of the Underkroft on Sunday evening at the Improv Boston Theatre in Inman Square at 7pm.

Peace, bitches.

State of the Nation

The State of Red Sox Nation is strong.
This makes me smile this morning:

The sizzling Sox, winners of 12 of their last 14 games, have opened up their American League East lead over the Yankees to a season-high 5 1/2 games. In fact, the division lead is the largest the Red Sox have had since 1995, the last time they won a division title.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

broken glass

All I could do was stare blankly at the shattered blue-hued glass blanketing the sidewalk and my front passenger seat. The dangling wires that used to be attached to my car stereo hung limply from the guts of my dashboard. My car had been brutalized and violated.

That's how I started my day yesterday. Even worse, it happened RIGHT IN FRONT OF MY APARTMENT BUILDING. The crackheads who smashed my window and ripped out my radio were only it in it for the vandalism and the radio, I guess, since they left my three cases of CDs in the backseat, in addition to the far more valuable assorted items scattered around my car. So, in that sense, I was extremely lucky. Needless to say, my car will no longer carry valuable items.

I've parked in far sketchier areas and nary a problem. Until stupid bloody Tuesday.

I need to give mad props to Tiffany and the gang at Liberty Mutual for making this ordeal a little bit easier, as well as the NYPD for responding immediately.

Glass can be replaced. Stereos can be replaced.

For now, I'll just try to deal with my car being viciously violated and maybe one day, I'll learn to trust again.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

My father did something nice...

...and my picture got in the paper.

On Sunday, my father blew taps in Lowell as part of the first "Bugles Across America" ceremony. Since I was up this weekend for the Army, Geordarna and I took part as well, before heading back to NYC.

Surrounded by veterans from WWII, the Korean War, and Vietnam, my father and I represented the latest additions from Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Quite an honor, actually, to so visibly see the link from the present to the past and to take part in even a small ceremony that recognizes the cost of freedom and the price of war.

Nice little write-up in the Lowell Sun, as well.

Raising awareness, note by note

Lowell Sun

LOWELL -- Three buglers slowly played Taps last night as the VFW Walker Rogers Post 662 took part for the first time in Bugles Across America -- a movement in which buglers across the nation simultaneously play the song to honor soldiers and draw attention to their dwindling numbers.

Post 662 Commander Vincent Freeman said the post will take part in the event from now on during the first Sunday of every month, as buglers across the country raise their horns to play the solemn military song at 7:15 p.m.

Freeman kicked off a ceremony that started about 7 p.m., and as 7:15 drew near 97-year-old Handel Matley was the first to play, sounding the 24 notes of the song as the noise of cars and daily life echoed through silence of those of the VFW hall's parking lot.

As soon as Matley sounded the last note, Post 662's bugler, Bob Camble, began his version.

After Camble, 72, who is a veteran of the Korean and Vietnam wars, went Sam Poulten, of Chelmsford, an Army major [Ed. Note: he's actually a Lt. Colonel] who played Taps in Iraq as the caskets of American soldiers were loaded onto planes bound for home.

Freeman said participation in Bugles Across America is meant to honor fallen soldiers, as well as to draw attention to the dwindling numbers of buglers across the nation.

Poulten said lack of wars in past decades made buglers who can play taps less needed for a while, and that a lot of people also think it's harder than it actually is, especially in a situation where a mistake would be so regrettable.

“It can be taught, and we're willing to teach young buglers,” Poulten said.

“If you can learn to play it, it's an awesome feeling for the player, as well as those listening.”

Freeman said Bugles Across America got started in 2000 in the Midwest, and that he hopes to see the turnout at the monthly event in Lowell grow, as well as to see the event take hold in other communities.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

"...what do you call this act?"

Mention you're a comedian these days, and talk invariably swings toward The Aristocrats.

The funniest unfunny joke ever.

I saw the movie last week and in my expert opinion, 'tis a fine documentary. It's an invaluable glimpse into the minds of comedians, as well as an entertaining look at how every comic makes the same "joke" their own. If comedy was a class, this would be required viewing.


(you knew there would be a "but")

I feel like watching these comedians riff on the many vulgar variations of the joke, I was really watching the end of an era. If "the Aristocrats" was the secret handshake of comics, the secret club just went public. And while I appreciate the chance to see giants like Carlin improvise on the most infamous shaggy dog joke around, I feel like the genius of what I saw is wasted on a non-comedy audience. A lot of people just won't get it. There's just something that separates comics' senses of humors from everyone else...and this joke personifies that. Not that non-comics can't appreciate or enjoy this documentary. But some things you either get or you don't. There's a reason comics entertain themselves with this bit when the audience has gone home; there's a reason they call it "playing to the back of the room."

It's the ultimate inside bit - passed down from generation to generation since the early days of vaudeville. Until now.

I can't help but feel that in just a few short months, open mikers around the country will start running "Aristocrats"-themed shows, trying hard to out-gross one another and completely missing the point.

Anyone can go blue. The magic isn't in the joke itself or even the dirty acts described. The magic is in who told the joke. The magic is in how it was told by master craftsmen (& craftswomen). Imagine hearing Johnny Carson regaling comics with inspired obscenities, spewing forth from his reserved mouth. Imagine Mike O'Donoghue waxing poetic for 1/2 an hour on the finer points of forbidden carnal pleasures. THAT's the magic of hearing the Aristocrats. Yet, now every open miker who can use Fandago can string together a few scatalogical references and suddenly, they think they're in the club and have the creds to tell their version of the joke.

They're not in the club. I'm not in the club. Most of us aren't in the club. But now everyone thinks they know how to get in.

Let me set ya straight: if the first time you heard about The Aristocrats was from hearing about this movie, you're not ready to tell your version of it.

Not that I'm an expert. But I do remember when I first heard about the mythical fella with the dirtiest family act in town.

I first heard it from the late great Jay Ginsberg, back in my child actor days at the Merrimack Repertory Theatre. My personal patron saint of comedy, Jay set me on the path to ruin at a very young age, infecting my young impressionable mind with all sorts of archaic comedy bits and always reminding me that once I hit puberty and the cuteness wore off, my acting career was all over. Hm. I guess he was also my own personal oracle...but I digress. Jay's another tale for another time.

So, here I am, a young child actor (around Bar Mitzvah age) and I'm doing my third or fourth show with Jay, Enemy of the People at the Merrimack Repertory Theatre. In one of the early scenes, a bunch of us are in the background sitting around the table and at some point, we all laugh. It became a running gag that I would (very quietly) tell a stupid joke right before the scripted laugh. Of course, I very quickly ran out of jokes to tell. So, I immediately went to the source of all things funny: Jay. And, every night, he would provide me with some raunchy or off-color little jokes with which I could softly regale my fellow actors.

Then, one night, while we're all sitting downstairs in the green room, I make my nightly request for a joke. Jay throws one or two clunkers at me and at this point, I'm being picky. After I reject a dirty little joke about two nuns on a bike, Jay looks at me with affectionate annoyance and a devilish gleam, as if to say, "who the hell does this kid think he is?" In fact, he may have actually said that. In any event, he takes a deep breath and slowly begins:

"A man walks into a talent agency..."

I can still hear him chuckling at the end of that opening sentence. Some of the actors already had a clue what he was doing and began giggling before he even got to the family's entrance. Others, who had never heard of the existence of the joke, doubled over with laughter at the dirty deeds described, shaking their heads incredulously at Jay's hilariously graphic descriptions and impeccable delivery. Me...I, uh, I ...I mean, it was cool...I was laughing and I knew I was hearing something unique...but the punchline? I didn't get it. I didn't get that I had just unwittingly learned comedy's dirtiest little secret.

"...and what do you call you this act?"

I can still see Jay sitting there, smiling broadly as he thrusts his arms outward in a "taaa-daaa" tableau:

"The Aristocrats!"

I smiled, knowing that he had just thrown the big guns at me to shock my little system. "I think I'll go with the joke about the nuns."

I didn't realize it at the time, but he had just rocked my world. I think I pestered him throughout the rest of the run to figure out what that "Aristocrats" joke was all about and why it should be funny. He explained that it was an old vaudeville joke and that I was just too young to understand. I was too young to understand.

I get it now. And I can't believe how lucky I am to have at least heard a (probably tame) variation of the joke by someone like Jay.

And now here I am, more than a decade later, working my way up the comedy ranks ... in no small part thanks to Jay's unrelenting torment and inspiration. And I know, somewhere behind the Pearly Gates, in the back of the room in the back of a lounge of a smokey club, the likes of Lenny Bruce and Sam Kinnison are howling with laughter. And there, 'neath a dim spotlight 'gainst a brick wall, stands Jay, smiling broadly with his arms outstretched in a "taaa-daaa" tableau, exclaiming:

"The Aristocrats!"

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Instant Karma

Wow. Karma is a bee-yotch this week.

Again, not to pour salt into a gaping wound, but if I were a resident of Ohio's 2nd district who voted Republican, I'd feel pretty crummy about myself. Hot on the heels of a gen-uuu-ine Iraq war veteran and Marine reservist narrowly losing a special Congressional election, we learn news that an Ohio unit just lost 20 Marines in Iraq.

I'm just sayin'...

My thoughts and prayers go out to all the families and friends of those Marines. And my thoughts and prayers and future donations go out to Paul Hackett.

Hackett, 43, a lawyer and Marine reservist who recently completed a seven-month tour, was vying to become the first combat veteran of the Iraq war to serve in Congress.

"This was a success. We should all be proud," Hackett told cheering supporters. "The voters of the 2nd District won because we gave them a choice."

He drew attention to the race with his flame-throwing assaults on Bush, namely for the president's July 2003 "bring 'em on" comment about Iraqi insurgents. Hackett called it the "most incredibly stupid comment" he ever heard a president make, saying it "cheered on the enemy."

Hackett said he expects to return to Iraq with his unit sometime next year. Grinning when supporters cheered "'06," he said he'll have to think it over.

Not to make light of a tragedy, but...

It's a bad time to be a Boy Scout these days.

Lightning struck a shelter at a Boy Scout camp high in the mountains, killing one youth and injuring three others, authorities said Wednesday.

The lightning bolt struck the Camp Steiner shelter, a log structure open on one side, Tuesday night, said sheriff's deputy Wally Hendricks said.

The rest of the Boy Scouts at the camp returned home, Hendricks said. No one answered the telephone at the Great Salt Lake Boy Scout Council, but the deputy said he believed they were all from the Salt Lake County area.

The dead scout was 15, authorities said. Names of the victims were not released.

Camp Steiner is in the Uinta Mountains, about 60 miles east of Salt Lake City. It is the highest Boy Scout camp in the country at an elevation of 10,400 feet.

A line of powerful thunderstorms had rolled across much of Utah on Tuesday, causing flash floods in the southwestern part of the state, taking out a bridge and closing a highway.

Last Thursday, an assistant Scoutmaster and a 13-year-old Scout were killed by lightning in California's Sequoia National Park. And four Scout leaders at the National Boy Scout Jamboree in Virginia were electrocuted July 24 in front of several Scouts after they lost control of a metal tent pole and it fell against a power line.

Oy. Rough year for the scouts.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Happy Birthday, Daddio

In honor of the old man's birthday, let us take a moment to reflect upon the fact that while I was deployed to Guantanamo Bay in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, he got sent to Iraq (he's home now). And while I have struggled to pursue a career in stand-up comedy, he had his picture taken with Robin Williams. In Iraq.

Some guys have all the luck. Except for that whole Iraq thing.

If you look real close, you can see he's holding up a picture of me...always the proud papa.

Happy birthday, dad!