Feeling very Geek Council today and after watching a very cool-looking trailer for A Scanner Darkly, I got to thinking:
As Geeks, is it time for us to just suck it up and claim Keanu Reeves as one of our own?
I know. It's a bitter pill to swallow. But we may have no choice. Just as we must begrudgingly accept Jar Jar Binks into the Star Wars mythos (and by begrudgingly, I mean angrily swearing and cursing the name Lucas for all eternity for raping our collective childhoods), we might also have to accept the fact that Keanu is a Geek icon.
Consider his career.
I mean, the guy is NEO, the most important recent addition to the sci-fi canon in the last decade.
If playing Neo in the Matrix Trilogy doesn't alone qualify him for Geek icon status, then also consider:
Constantine. Come on. Do I even have to explain? Geek cred.
The cult sci-fi thriller Johnny Mnemonic. Definite geek cred.
Pop quiz, hotshot. A deceptively well-written action movie with an absurd premise that twisted the genre. That would be Speed. Geek cred.
I'm also including The Devil's Advocate as a geek cred. Hotshot lawyer finds out he's working for Lucifer...who's also his dad...who's also AL PACINO?! Geek cred.
You want kitsch factor? How about playing an undercover surfing FBI agent? Named Johhny Utah?! Who's partner is Gary Busey! And he's trying to foil a gang of bank robbing surfers led by Patrick Swayze!!! I think Point Break might challenge Road House as the most unintentionally awesome Patrick Swayze movie ever. Geek cred.
I'm also gonna give him a cred for being in Bram Stoker's Dracula. Sure, he was awful and terribly miscast, but I think that just adds to the mystique here. The ridiculous level of detail and insanely good Gary Oldman redfined the look and feel for Dracula, making this a truly geeky movie. Plus. Come on. Vampires? HOT, naked chick vampires seducing him on a velvet bed? Geek cred.
Finally, he played twister with Death, saved the Princesses, and was one half of the Two Great Ones who will make the future excellent. Party on, Dudes. Ted "Theodore" Logan. Despite the sequel's inferior quality, Bill and Ted are true geek pioneers, predating Wayne and Garth by a few years and rivaling Marty McFly for time travel expertise. In fact, I would argue that Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure stands as one of the best time travel movies of all time. And I'm pretty sure Rufus would back me up on that. Geek cred.
A Scanner Darkly simply reinforces what we've kind of known all along. Keanu is one of ours.
Saturday, April 29, 2006
Feeling very Geek Council today and after watching a very cool-looking trailer for A Scanner Darkly, I got to thinking:
Posted by Benari at 7:17 PM
Friday, April 28, 2006
What's more important than spreading freedom and democracy?
Searching for energy supplies and allies against Iran, the Bush administration is reaching out to leaders who rule countries that are rich in oil and gas but accused of authoritarian rule and human rights violations.
The presidents of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Equatorial Guinea are all getting special attention. The effort sometimes seems at odds with President Bush's stated second-term goal of spreading democracy.
"If those countries were not oil producers, we would probably not be meeting with their leaders," said Michael O'Hanlon, a foreign policy analyst with the Brookings Institution. "There is some tension with Bush's democracy-promotion agenda. They are pulling in different directions."
Bush meets Friday at the White House with the president of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliev. Vice President Dick Cheney next week visits the central Asian nation of Kazakhstan and its leader President Nursultan Nazarbayev.
Human rights groups have criticized both leaders. But the two former Soviet republics are allies in the war on terrorism and both have significant energy reserves.
Administration officials defend the meetings and similar ones, noting that Bush and other officials make a point of raising human rights and other social policy concerns, as Bush did when Chinese President Hu Jintao visited last week.
In addition to promoting democracy, Bush talks about curing America's "addiction to oil," a phrase he repeated as he announced steps this week to help ease gasoline prices that have soared over $3 a gallon in some places. Some 60 percent of oil used by the U.S. comes from overseas.
Looks like oil's thicker than blood.
At least we're being tough on these oil-producing countries who torture and kill their own people.
Rice herself drew some fire for welcoming Equatorial Guinean President Teodoro Obiang Nguema to the State Department as "a good friend."
He seized power in a 1979 coup and his government has been regularly accused by the State Department of human rights violations, including torture and deaths of prisoners. But the country is also rich in oil and gas.
"The photograph of you and Mr. Obiang will be used by critics of the United States to argue that we are not serious about human rights and democratic reforms in a country with substantial oil wealth," Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., wrote Rice in a letter his office released on Thursday.
Oh. Well, at least it doesn't threaten our national security.
Politics aside, big oil-consuming nations like the United States and China "are looking out at the world and seeing a stagnant supply and a very unstable supply," said Tom Collina, director of 20/20 Vision, an advocacy group that favors sharp reductions in U.S. energy consumption.
"It's going to be a security problem for the foreseeable future," Collina said.
$3 bucks at the pump and nothing to show for it. And no real viable alternative right now. Nice energy policy, fellas. Real good job on that one.
Posted by Benari at 2:06 PM
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
"Iran threatened Tuesday to begin hiding its nuclear program if the West takes any "harsh measures" against it, in the country's sharpest rebuttal yet to a U.N. Security Council deadline to suspend uranium enrichment or face possible sanctions.
Iran's supreme leader, meanwhile, said in a meeting with the president of wartorn Sudan that Tehran was ready to transfer its nuclear technology to other countries."
How effective a strategy is hiding your nuclear program when you tell us you're hiding it?! Step it up, Iran! You vowed to annihilate Israel. Now THAT's a threat. But hiding? That's insulting.
And when did foreign diplomacy become school recess games?
Ollie ollie oxen free! I see London, I see Greece, I see Iran's WMDs!
We don't need to see your shit - we'll bomb you for the hell of it.
Posted by Benari at 11:19 AM
Monday, April 24, 2006
Has there ever been a quote that so precisely sums up the all-volunteer American Army? Here's this week's brilliant quote, from:
Written by Len Blum & Daniel Goldberg
and Harold Ramis.
And I suspect Bill Murray had a little input on this one, too.
So we're all dog faces, we're all very, very different, but there is one thing that we all have in common: we were all stupid enough to enlist in the Army. We're mutants, there's something wrong with us, there's something very, very wrong with us. Something seriously wrong with us. We're soldiers, American soldiers!
Posted by Benari at 9:57 AM
Friday, April 21, 2006
Ice cream makers Ben & Jerry's have apologized for causing offence by calling a new flavor "Black & Tan" -- the nickname of a notoriously violent British militia that operated during Ireland's war of independence.
The ice cream, available only in the United States, is based on an ale and stout drink of the same name.
"Any reference on our part to the British Army unit was absolutely unintentional and no ill-will was ever intended," said a Ben & Jerry's spokesman.
"Ben & Jerry's was built on the philosophies of peace and love," he added.
The Black and Tans, so-called because of their two-tone uniforms, were recruited in the early 1920s to bolster the ranks of the police force in Ireland as anti-British sentiment grew.
They quickly gained a reputation for brutality and mention of the militia still arouses strong feelings in Ireland.
"I can't believe that Ben & Jerry's would be so insensitive to call an ice cream such a name and to launch it as a celebration of Irishness ... it's an insult!" wrote one blogger on www.junkfoodblog.com.
"I hope they don't try to launch it here in Ireland or I imagine they'll lose a lot of their fans."
Once again, cruel history and man's inhumanity towards man ruins a tasty treat.
Trust me, fellas. I know exactly how you feel. My favorite alcoholic shot?
An Irish Car Bomb.
Not always the best drink to order in Boston pubs.
But a damn fine drink.
Posted by Benari at 9:16 PM
Thursday, April 20, 2006
Diary of a bad set.
When you're doing comedy, sometimes you have those nights where everything just clicks. The audience is electric, everyone's having fun, you're on fire, and the funny is just rolling off your tongue like champagne from a fountain.
Last night was not one of those nights.
At least, not for me.
And it lasted 22 minutes and 13 agonizing seconds.
Now, let me also state that overall, it was a great show and big props to Kyria and Newbs who both had great 20-25 minute sets and were a real treat to watch. And to Baron, who did his usual stellar hosting job.
As for me...
I went up first.
Right from the get-go, the crowd was not into me. No problem, I think. Plenty of time. Plenty of time. I'll win 'em over!
I start by being conversational, don't wanna just jump right into the usual routine....build a repoire with these people.
I fail at building a repoire. Okay. no problem. Let's jump into some tried and true bits, warm 'em up some more. Bam! Nothing. Do not panic.
About three minutes in, right on a dying punchline, a Chinese delivery guy mistakenly opens the door behind me to deliver food, but he's got the wrong address.
Biggest laugh of my set.
I riff on that for a minute and get some laughs. Finally, the break I need. I'm winning them over.
Nope. I was wrong. They still are not into me. They just thought the Chinese Food guy was funny.
No problem, time to step it up. I throw some political humor at them...aaaand boy, that wasn't the right call. A few chuckles, some nods of approval. But nothing I would say resembling "laughter." No worries. I can still win 'em over.
I step up my energy. I'm not backing down. I do a bit on Shaquille O'Neill. Kazzaaaaaam! A little bit of a response. Not the stellar breakthrough I was hoping for. I'M NOT WINNING THEM OVER!!!
Wow. By minute 10 I've lost my energy and by minute 15, I'm just treading water with them. I've already thrown two solid, closing bits at them (that I can usually count on for big laughs) and all I've gotten in response is general apathy. Not even hatred...they're just waiting for the next comic at this point. I've derailed, they smell blood in the water, and I've just walked into a rookie trap. I let 'em see me sweat. Dammit. I'm shaken like a Martini and there's no recovery. I look like an open miker at this point. The audience has made their decision and they just don't dig me.
At least I can leave them on a high note. The Shark Attack bit. It's a no-fail, guaranteed strong punchline to end things. At least I have that.
Here's the set-up, the pitch -
Someone chukles awkwardly in the back...and it's a comic. We all know why they're chuckling. I've just bombed for over 20 minutes. And now on with the rest of the show...
Which went phenomonally well. The next comic gets up and almost immediately starts getting bigger laughs than anything I've gotten. She's really hitting the mark. By the final comic, everyone in the audience is having a great time.
The final capper for me was not just tanking. No. In the middle of the show, an older woman leaves, and as she makes her way out, she exchanges some friendly words with Baron and shakes another comic's hand. She then specifically avoids making eye contact with me as she brushes past me like a wraith.
"Who was that?" I casually ask Baron.
"Oh, she's a college booking agent."
Not only did I chomp my dick so hard I can taste it, but I just blew an unknown opportunity! Two-for-one.
I hate being that comic, the one that had the bad set on a great show. The one everyone has to tip-toe around and either make lame excuses or simply change the subject about the evening's performance. The one that gets that look of pity and embarrasment when spoken to after the show.
Last night, I was that comic. And it sucks.
It wasn't even the worst set I've ever had or the most epic time I've bombed. It was just a plain, ordinary, bad set. And somehow, that's the worst kind of all.
As comics, we live and die from set to set, and until the next one, I get to run over in my head every mistake I made; every misstep; every poor choice; every failed, desperate attempt to win over that audience.
And the next time I have a set that crushes, I will mail each and every person that was there last night an autographed copy of the tape.
Sorry for the self-indulgence. But c'mon. This is a blog!
Catch me next week at Galapagos and Sweet Paprika! Let's see if I bounce back!
Posted by Benari at 12:25 PM
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
I'm a bit behind on my weekly quote. This one comes from the 2000 film Snatch.
Written and directed by Guy Ritchie.
Sorry 'bout the language.
"Do you know what "nemesis" means? A righteous infliction of retribution manifested by an appropriate agent. Personified in this case by an 'orrible cunt... me."-Brick Top Polford
Posted by Benari at 4:14 PM
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
Here's what's happening for me in the next few weeks:
April 19th. A free show! AND I'll be doing a longer set...25 minutes! This show could be fantastic or a train wreck. Either way, it'll be entertaining. I'm joined by Dan Newbower and Kyria Abrahams. Come see the funny:
Wednesday, April 19th @ 8PM
Comedy is for Humans
505 East 12th Street at Ave. A * NYC
For those willing to travel to Brooklyn next week:
Tuesday, April 25th @ 10PM
70 N 6th Street * Williamsburg * Brooklyn, NY
April 28th will be a fun show. Definitely try to make this one. It's Friday. And it's a 10:30 pm show followed by a birthday party at the D-Lounge. Comedy! Cake! Cosmos (for the ladies)! Much drinking and revelry. Great line-up and a great way to end the week.
Friday, April 28th @ 10:30PM
101 East 15th Street * Union Square East * Basement * NYC
If you can make it out to any of these shows, I'd love to see you there.
This concludes the self-promotion portion of this week's blog entry.
Posted by Benari at 6:55 PM
Some quick news items of note:
Rumsfeld Not Considering Resigning.
He's also not considering a long-term strategy for Iraq.
Moussaoui Mocks Psychologist's Testimony.
Everyone's a comedian.
Also, I think reality has officially jumped the shark when a terrorist is making "Best Week Ever" quips and pop culture references at his damn trial!
Tom Cruise wonders why people didn't realize he was "only joking" when he made crazy comment.
When I ranted and raved on the Today show? THAT time, I was serious. And when I went nutso on Oprah? Serious. And when I flipped out over South Park? Totally serious. But when I said I was going to eat the placenta when Katie gives birth to our kid? Just kidding!
But I'm still batshit crazy.
Record oil prices have us over a $70 barrel.
But tax cuts affect the economy, not record high oil prices!
"Economists warn that supercharged energy prices could rekindle inflation across the economy and restrain free-spending consumers."
Well. So I pay a little more at the pump. Who cares if I drive my giant, gas-guzzling Hummer? It's not like I'm helping the terrorists!
"The tension has some economic benefit for Iran: Every $5 a barrel increase in the price of oil means another $100 million a week in revenues for Iran, Yergin said."
So, I guess if you drive a gas-guzzling SUV, you're an asshole.
But that's really old news.
Also, Red Sox fans:
I'm now contributing to Away team, a NY-based blog for wandering Sox fans. Check it out.
Posted by Benari at 3:11 PM
Thursday, April 13, 2006
Tuesday, April 11, 2006
There was a place.
Behind an unmarked door,'neath the electric glow of a red bulb.
Wherein, on Tuesday nights, down in the seedy depths of the punk-hipster bar, society's ne'er-do-wells and would-be comic hustlers would rattle off acerbic barbs, wax poetic on societal taboos, and lament the decline of Western Culture.
'Twas a donkey-punch of a comedy show.
Bo no longer. Banished to Siberia is no more.
The door remains unmarked, the red bulb flickers with electric tears, and the metal stairs lead to dank nothingness.
In memorium, let's remember the good times. Specifically, my set from last year's special extravaganza show:
It's cold in Siberia.
Posted by Benari at 10:09 AM
Monday, April 10, 2006
I know there's a whole bunch of other things leading back to the WH, but this one is kind of apropos. Since it's, you know, exactly like Watergate.
I emphasized a few key points.
Phone-Jamming Records Point to White House
By LARRY MARGASAK, Associated Press Writer
Key figures in a phone-jamming scheme designed to keep New Hampshire Democrats from voting in 2002 had regular contact with the White House and Republican Party as the plan was unfolding, phone records introduced in criminal court show.
The records show that Bush campaign operative James Tobin, who recently was convicted in the case, made two dozen calls to the White House within a three-day period around Election Day 2002 — as the phone jamming operation was finalized, carried out and then abruptly shut down.
The national Republican Party, which paid millions in legal bills to defend Tobin, says the contacts involved routine election business and that it was "preposterous" to suggest the calls involved phone jamming.
The Justice Department has secured three convictions in the case but hasn't accused any White House or national Republican officials of wrongdoing, nor made any allegations suggesting party officials outside New Hampshire were involved. The phone records of calls to the White House were exhibits in Tobin's trial but prosecutors did not make them part of their case.
Democrats plan to ask a federal judge Tuesday to order GOP and White House officials to answer questions about the phone jamming in a civil lawsuit alleging voter fraud.
Repeated hang-up calls that jammed telephone lines at a Democratic get-out-the-vote center occurred in a Senate race in which Republican John Sununu defeated Democrat Jeanne Shaheen, 51 percent to 46 percent, on Nov. 5, 2002.
Besides the conviction of Tobin, the Republicans' New England regional director, prosecutors negotiated two plea bargains: one with a New Hampshire Republican Party official and another with the owner of a telemarketing firm involved in the scheme. The owner of the subcontractor firm whose employees made the hang-up calls is under indictment.
The phone records show that most calls to the White House were from Tobin, who became President Bush's presidential campaign chairman for the New England region in 2004.
Because if Democrats vote in a free, democratic election, the terrorists will win.
Posted by Benari at 7:24 PM
From The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension.
Written by Earl Mac Rauch.
"No matter where you go, there you are."
Posted by Benari at 9:12 AM
Friday, April 07, 2006
That's right, bitches. Look who got the $10,000 prize t-shirt.
In no small part thanks to Tom Shillue's absurd debating skills.
Fact in the Head was a blast - if you've never seen the show, check them out EVERY Thursday night at 10PM at their new home in The Tank at Collective: Unconscious, 279 Church St., NYC.
Thanks to Jamie, Ophira, Tom, and Michelle...and lovely assistant Thistle, for a smokin' hot time in the old town last night.
Also, I can't believe I choked on the sparkler-timed challenge. To be fair, fire is pretty and I was totally transfixed by the sparkler. And I still won. Kether.
Thanks for playing. Bitches.
Posted by Benari at 7:01 AM
Thursday, April 06, 2006
Vice President Dick Cheney's former top aide told prosecutors President Bush authorized the leak of sensitive intelligence information about Iraq, according to court papers filed by prosecutors in the CIA leak case.
Before his indictment, I. Lewis Libby testified to the grand jury investigating the CIA leak that Cheney told him to pass on information and that it was Bush who authorized the disclosure, the court papers say. According to the documents, the authorization led to the July 8, 2003, conversation between Libby and New York Times reporter Judith Miller.
There was no indication in the filing that either Bush or Cheney authorized Libby to disclose Valerie Plame's CIA identity.
But the disclosure in documents filed Wednesday means that the president and the vice president put Libby in play as a secret provider of information to reporters about prewar intelligence on Iraq.
The authorization came as the Bush administration faced mounting criticism about its failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, the main reason the president and his aides had given for justifying the invasion of Iraq.
Libby's participation in a critical conversation with Miller on July 8, 2003 "occurred only after the vice president advised defendant that the president specifically had authorized defendant to disclose certain information in the National Intelligence Estimate," the papers by Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald stated. The filing did not specify the "certain information."
"Defendant testified that the circumstances of his conversation with reporter Miller — getting approval from the president through the vice president to discuss material that would be classified but for that approval — were unique in his recollection," the papers added.
Posted by Benari at 12:45 PM
Tuesday, April 04, 2006
WASHINGTON - Succumbing to scandal, former Majority Leader Tom DeLay said Tuesday he is resigning from Congress in the face of a tough re-election race, closing out a career that blended unflinching conservatism with a bare-knuckled political style.
By "unflinching conservatism" we mean "hypocrisy, corruption, and greed," and by "bare-knuckled political style" we mean "malicious personal vendettas at the taxpayers' expense."
"The voters of the 22nd District of Texas deserve a campaign about the vital national issues that they care most about and that affect their lives every day, and not a campaign focused solely as a referendum on me," DeLay said in a statement.
Right. His re-election camaign shouldn't be about him. Becuase an incumbant Congressman who's spent years abusing the system shouldn't force voters to judge him or the affect he's had on national policy. Perhaps he confused his campaign with American Idol.
DeLay reflected Republican concerns that the GOP could lose the seat in November, saying his love and loyalty to the party played a role in his decision and adding, "I refuse to allow liberal Democrats an opportunity to steal this seat with a negative, personal campaign."
Classic. "I refuse to open myself up to sweeping negative, personal attacks by making a sweeping negative, personal attack!"
He's still got it!
Posted by Benari at 12:13 PM
Monday, April 03, 2006
Look out, comics. A whole new world of airline jokes just opened up for us! Time to dust off those rusty ol' airplane bits and begin a whole new golden age of hackery!
Airlines to Begin Charging for Amenities
By LESLIE MILLER, Associated Press Writer
Ask for a pillow and blanket to help get through a long flight and you may be out of luck. Or you may be able to buy a "comfort package" from Air Canada for $2. Like to check your luggage curbside? That could cost up to $3 a bag.
Airlines are starting to charge for many services that once were free — such as assigned seating, paper tickets and blankets. Air travelers who don't fly often may be in for some unpleasant surprises when they reach the airport this summer.
"They're going to be confused and they're going to be somewhat upset," said Kevin Mitchell, president of the Business Travelers Coalition. "Is it going to stop them from flying? No."
Intense competition from low-fare airlines along with high jet-fuel prices have led many established carriers to cut back or charge passengers for amenities.
Many airlines no longer serve meals on flights, instead charging for snack boxes and sandwiches.
Sharon Ansara, a government supervisor from El Paso, Texas, flew an American Airlines flight from Dallas to Washington Monday morning.
"We didn't even get peanuts," she said after the 2-1/2 hour flight. "They offered us a snack pack for $4. It stinks."
American spokesman Tim Wagner said that passengers have made it clear that their first priority in buying an airline ticket is price. The company offers a la carte services — such as snack packs — for those willing to pay for them.
What's next? "Thanks for paying $439 for this one-way ticket between New Jersey and Ohio. Oh, you want to sit down during the flight? In a seat? That'll be $27. Per minute."
"Hey, folks! I just flew in from Miami and boy is my wallet empty!"
Thus concludes our test of the hack comedy broadcast. Had this been real hack stand-up comedy, the above material would have been immediately followed by a roaringly hilarious rant on why men leave the toilet seat up. And then a Jack Nicholson impersonation.
Posted by Benari at 6:27 PM
And just like that, it's baseball season again.
In this post-Red-Sox-winning-the-world-series-world, Opening Day seems just a little bit more optimistic, a little bit more hopeful, a little bit like anything's possible.
A year ago today, I was waiting to hear if I even got into grad school. I was temping(!) as a mail clerk(!?) in the package delivery bay (wtf?!) of New York's Channel 13 - wassup BAY 3! Make some noize!! Today, I'm a month away from finishing my first year of grad school. And I'm 50-thousand-more dollars in debt (holy sh!t! wtf?! omg!! rotflmaolol!!!! ;-) ...
which I suppose is progress.
Posted by Benari at 1:25 AM
Sunday, April 02, 2006
There are plenty of concise, pithy Groucho one-liners, but one o' my favorites comes from the 1933 satirical farce Duck Soup.
By the Marx Brothers.
Story by Bert Kalmar and Harry Ruby.
Additional dialogue by Arthur Sheekman and Nat Perrin.
The absurdity of the run-up to war distilled to its essence by Groucho:
I'd be unworthy of the high trust that's been placed in me if I didn't do everything in my power to keep our beloved Freedonia in peace with the world. I'd be only too happy to meet with Ambassador Trentino, and offer him on behalf of my country the right hand of good fellowship. And I feel sure he will accept this gesture in the spirit of which it is offered. But suppose he doesn't. A fine thing that'll be. I hold out my hand and he refuses to accept. That'll add a lot to my prestige, won't it? Me, the head of a country, snubbed by a forgein ambassador. Who does he think he is, that he can come here, and make a sap of me in front of all my people? Think of it - I hold out my hand and that hyena refuses to accept. Why, the cheap ball-pushing swine, he'll never get away with it I tell you, he'll never get away with it!
So, you refuse to shake hands with me, eh?
(slaps Trentino with his glove)
Posted by Benari at 12:22 PM