Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Guinness, Muthafucka!

POTUS drinking Guinness. Your argument is irrelevant.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Armageddon on Acid

On May 21, 2011, all life on Earth will be destroyed by God’s wrathful hand as foretold in the Bible. Starting at 6 p.m., a cataclysmic event with shake it’s way around the planet like a massive earthquake, destroying everything in its path.

Christian radio broadcaster Harold Camping of Family Radio, a Christian network, claims he pinpointed the exact date of the world’s demise from scripture. According to Camping, to determine Christ’s second coming involves understanding numerology and critical points in the Bible. According to 2 Peter 3:8 “With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.” Camping merged this with Genesis 7:4 “Seven days from now I will send rain on earth.” If Camping dated the Great Flood from 4990 BC, then adding 7,000 means the world will end in 2011.

How right is Camping? He predicted the end would come in September 1994. When that didn’t pan out, he went back to the Bible and discovered he’d overlooked some things. Infallible prophesy is complex, after all.

Here’s Harold Camping.

Here’s Rev. Kane from Poltergeist 2.

Now that you’re probably shitting yourself with fear, know Camping’s followers advertise worldwide the Rapture will occur May 21, 2011. This has all of the markings of a fascinating tale: Christian radio doomsday cult followers go bankrupt as they wait for Jesus’ return. The atheist secular media gobbled it up as another chance to beat up these Christian fundamentalist nutjobs.

Matthew 24:35-36 is pretty clear nobody knows when God will destroy the world except for God: “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.”

So if Camping wants to pinpoint the exact time of the Apocalypse, isn’t he ignoring God’s pronouncements, and isn’t that supreme hubris?

My take on this whole May 21 Rapture Apocalyptic End Times Festival is to get as chemically fucked up as possible.

I mean, if Jesus were to come back, why not throw a surprise party? Why not consume acid and trip your ass off, hallucinating through the oceans of boiling blood, lake of fire and grasshoppers with human heads. (That last part is actually in the Bible!)

Just transform every city and town into Studio 54 and drink as much hard liquor, snort pure cocaine off your sister’s tits and sin like you’ve never sinned before.

According to Camping, we’re all a bunch of hell-bound hedonists reared on a steady diet of consumerism, pornography and material possessions. Why not repent the only way we know how: by rocking the panties of planet Earth?

Imagine a colossal tsunami ripping the crust and upper mantle off the planet as you would peel a putrid grapefruit. Hear the billions wailing in terror and fright as the very foundation of the world scatters, torn asunder by a powerful omnipotent force and incinerated by a cleansing fire. These flames wash over the world, vaporizing houses and mountains as the atmosphere ignites like a drunken frat boy lighting his farts. The very oceans run crimson with blood as the dead rise from their graves in a zombie killing frenzy that would make George Romaro gleefully cream his pants. Cemeteries, mausoleums and necropolises would be overrun with the living dead, who shamble out into the streets, feasting on the flesh of the non-believers. A loaded shotgun or gassed up chainsaw won’t save you from this undead horde. If the dead don’t get you, the various demons will. Hideous creatures with the bodies of orangutans and the head of Donald Trump will fly on leathery bat wings and punish the wicked with all manner of torture devices, rough sodomy and an eternal viewing of the 2003 Ashton Kutcher film “Just Married.”

Wouldn’t you want to avoid such a fate by getting completely blitzed? Even if Judgment Day doesn’t arrive, we could skill have one kick-ass party. Everyone could just shoot heroin, loot a liquor store and slurp body shots off Heidi Klum. It doesn’t matter how freaky or twisted you get because Jesus forgives all. Abduct a sorority and put on a donkey show. Drive your dad’s priceless Cadillac into a swimming pool. Set fire to the nunnery. Do something that makes your spring break in Tijuana seem like a church picnic.

Four Horsemen of the Partypocalypse

With the Rapture, everybody who’s saved will be sent up to heaven minus their clothes. That means heaven is filled with naked people, and that’s totally hot. Why not make it heaven on earth and get naked tomorrow? Start streaking and never stop! Even if the police bludgeon you with nightsticks or Taser you, it won’t matter because they’ll be reduced to cinders by God’s wrath.

In the end, who does Jesus want to hang out with? Thousands of dutiful, boring dullards incapable of independent thought, or a bunch of lowlifes and sinners he can console and preach to? Think Jesus would want to save the assholes who use him as a convenient prop every Sunday to justify their twisted dogma while ignoring the true message of charity and compassion?

What would Jesus do? Probably order a water, turn it into a Bacardi and kick back with the heretics and heathens.

Welcome home, JC.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Laszlo Fink is not funny, and that’s precisely why he’s funny

In 2006 when I started dabbling in standup comedy (dabbling as opposed to going pro, per se) I learned the fundamentals of constructing a good set. The brief space between a carefully crafted setup and masterfully executed punch line, the necessity for the callback (when the comedian refers to a joke he’s told earlier in the set), using three examples in a list instead of more and timing your jokes for maximum audience reaction. All of these elements are ingredients to creating fantastic sets. Yet in the end, nobody can teach you to be funny. Oh, they can give you the essentials as I’ve listed above, and maybe a few pointers on observing the world with a humorous bent. Yet the act of perceiving things in a twisted and original way is largely inherited and not cultivated.

Standup comedy is a difficult endeavor, like a man giving birth to an octopus in zero gravity. You’ve got to push hard and rip that tentacled little bastard from you and watch it serenely float away.

Yet men giving birth to cephalopods is an insane notion, much like willingly going into standup comedy. Making a few friends laugh down at the bar is a hell of a lot easier and less stressful than making a roomful of drunken strangers laugh. At least your friends know you and recognize your foibles. Friends are kind. Strangers aren’t.

In today’s hip and cutting edge world of standup, you must be on your game at all times, ready to pounce with adrenaline coursing through your veins like a radioactive ninja on crack. You’ve got to eat, drink and shit funny or you’re dead.

Confession time: I loathe performing. I’ve whittled down my appearances to zero. I’m not that much of a masochist and don’t regale in standing on a makeshift stage somewhere and taking abuse from hecklers or people who yell derogatory things about my mother.

Yet there are moments in life when serendipity strikes, and the cosmos smiles upon you. If you're given a shit sandwich, exchange it for prime rib and lobster.

Case in point:

Around 2007 I was performing at a show at the Jersey shore. The place was deader than JFK’s left nut, the only people being myself, a few other comics and the waiters. The owner wasn’t around, but instructed all of us that it would be a family show because, hell, families love going to comedy clubs.

Since the place was drier than the Sahara in July, I decided to try out an especially ribald bit of material. The other comics and the waiters laughed, and I was ready to forge onward with more, when a waiter called me off the stage. He said the boss was listening in via speakerphone and wanted a few words with yours truly.

Long story short, the owner was unhappy with me because I didn’t adhere to his orders and use clean material. I tried explaining nobody from the public was present, but he didn’t care. This pissed me off. I was taught comedy was the last bastion of free speech in America, that comedians have the freedom to express themselves no matter how crude. I felt I was being singled out and censored.

I’d have my revenge.

I’d create a comedian who was the anti-comedian.

Someone who refuses to work blue.

Someone for whom comedy was an innate, God-given gift.

Someone with an ego the size of Nebraska and the intelligence of a walnut.

Laszlo Fink is that creation.

The next time I went on stage, I put on a suit and bowtie, slicked back my hair with gel and wore glasses. I resembled a nebbishy accountant from Poughkeepsie, but was a nightmarish incarnation of every bad Catskills comedian.

Laszlo Fink talks like a nerd, but he jokes like your grandfather. He carries a bag filled with props.

I know. Prop comics are the worst.

That’s the essence of Laszlo Fink. He’s to comedy what the Ebola virus is to the human body.

Laszlo Fink was born in Atlantic City and has three ex-wives. His agent is a shifty and unscrupulous figure, hiding in the shadows and pulling strings to get Laszlo stage time.

Besides working with props, Laszlo has a white rabbit puppet called Cosmo. Laszlo thinks he’s a ventriloquist, yet he’s about as skillful a ventriloquist as a guppy with a mouthful of peanut butter. He has conversations with the rabbit while the audience winces. Laszlo doesn’t care. He ploughs effortlessly on, not even sweating. For him, he’s doing the audience a favor by showing them how comedy is really done.

And he fails.

And it’s beautiful because he’s so oblivious to it all.

Each hackneyed shtick is Laszlo’s milk and honey. The man is a runaway freight train of stale one-liners and childish wonder. Best way to describe Laszlo is Pee Wee Herman meets Lenny Bruce, but with less emphasis on political humor and more on listing ways piƱatas encourage violence.

I performed as Laszlo Fink about three or four times. Each time was the same, with Laszlo talking to the audience, playing a harmonica and yukking it up with Cosmo.

Laszlo Fink is not about entertaining people. He’s about entertaining me. He’s not uncomfortable while he’s on stage; the audience is.

I’ve managed to create a character that is the manifestation of a huge raised middle finger, towering over the stage like a mighty obelisk, showering the audience with the same mediocre bile and froth they feared seeing. Laszlo Fink bumbles through his set and on the inside, I’m laughing because these rubes paid to see this. They paid admission and for drinks to watch a nerd talk to a rabbit puppet.

In Laszlo’s world, bombing doesn’t exist. Every delightful performance he kills, with thunderous applause translating to pure rapture in his twisted unfunny brain.

Laszlo told an interviewer his comedy comes from the “comedy hole” in his brain and filters outward into the universe.

Mad poetry from a deranged lunatic.

While audiences scratch their heads in bewilderment or angrily gnash their teeth in protest, Laszlo Fink continues living his washed-out, has-been life. For him, sharing a hot tub with a porn star in Vegas or performing in a basement to an Internet camera for an audience of two are experiences he cherishes.

I’m aware Hollywood won’t be calling for me, or Laszlo for that matter. However, the lovable doofus is a part of me, a protest and defense mechanism against the shitty world of standup and its pressures and a way to turn the tables on an unsuspecting public hungry for the latest hot young comic.

In the world of irony, Laszlo Fink is king.

In the world of comedy, not so much.

That's precisely why he's so damn funny.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Osama and the TV

What Osama bin Laden really was up to.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Cleaning the Mental Attic

Spring cleaning brought an exhaustive amount of rummaging around, moving boxes and turning over things left undisturbed for many years. The spare bedroom I affectionately labeled the “junk room” had a thorough cleansing and is becoming a work in progress. I own an abundance of useless shit; old books, trinkets and mementoes from youth, scraps from happier days and bizarre crap conveniently ignored. So much weirdness in one room. It resembled an Archie McPhee catalog overstuffed with puppets, novelties and graphic novels.

Case in point: a cattle skull, fez, glass banker’s lamp, wind-up toy nun and California state flag.

I can’t believe I own so much useless stuff. Yet there it is, strewn about in boxes and in sloppily arranged piles and neat little bundles on the carpet.

During my excavations, I unearthed letters from several acquaintances, friends and lovers. Before e-mail turned everyone into potential candidates for penis enlargement spam, people wrote letters on paper and sent them through the postal service. In my youth, I corresponded with several Armenian writers popular at the time, as well as intellectuals and friends.

Write enough letters and you eventually become adept at the art of writing, picking every nuance and honing your craft with witticisms and expressively turning phrases. I became particularly good at writing letters.

As far as writing letters to girls, well, I don’t like to brag, but back in the day my words could melt hearts and dampen panties, sending many a young woman’s heart aflutter. I was Casanova with a typewriter.

Anyway, while cleaning out the junk hole, I found an old letter from a former girlfriend. She expressed sorrow at our last meeting and apologized to me, and wanted to continue our friendship. A very poignant and bittersweet letter, but one written with longing and regret.

I turned over more treasures from the past, delving deeper and mining the heap for correspondences from lost loves.

I recently had dinner with a former high school friend who told me she had a crush on me when we were students. She recalled an incident 24 years ago when we were walking outside together. She complained about the cold weather and I removed my jean jacket and gave it to her. It fit snugly around her and nestled her hands in the jacket pockets. She told me she felt comfortable wearing my jacket. We returned to her house and talked a bit before I left. She told me she wanted to get high with me in her room and make out, but I had already left. She feared smoking some doobage might freak me out.

In high school, I wasn’t a stoner. Hell, I thought people who smoked weed were smelly hippies with poor hand-eye coordination and a penchant for repeating themselves. Back then I was totally oblivious when girls showed any interest in me. Looking back, I could have been the John Holmes of Cherry Hill East High School. I could have been up to my elbows in young vajayjay, but the times were against me. Reagan’s ultra-moralist goon squad frowned upon teen sex in America, as such loathsome and unclean things ruined our national character and emboldened the Soviet Union. So I muddled through my teenage years, dating girls and scoring as little as possible. For those keeping track at home, 1988 was a really good year as my naked girlfriend and I ran around my parent’s house and did things that would make any upright, God-fearing person burst into flames.

You never realize what you had in your youth until many years later, when you’re middle aged and rifling through letters written at a time when things were brighter and cynicism unheard of. In our youth, the whole world was ahead of us and we eagerly anticipated the future; in our middle age, we wistfully recall the past and hungrily want to relive those days.

I realize I can't time travel back to my past and relive my teenage years all over. This isn’t The Butterfly Effect, thank God. First of all, hurdling backwards through time is impossible and possibly dangerous to the time-space continuum. Secondly, nowhere in my past did Ashton Kutcher appear, and if he did, I’d have to kill him to make sure he didn’t make The Butterfly Effect, which would in turn create its own thorny paradox.

Remember when you were a kid watching those old farts who jawed on and on about their glory days in high school? You thought they were sad relics afraid of growing up and evolving. Now I realize I am one of those old farts, fondly reminiscing with friends about a time long ago when we were young, thin and full of promise.

The secret is to have no regrets. None. Banish your doubts and understand things unfold the way they do. Youth is not easy. Hell, life isn’t easy, but it does get better. Conditions will improve eventually. Life isn’t fair and there are no guarantees you’ll have a blessed, carefree existence. You could spend years of toil and torment, lugging that boulder up the hill like Sisyphus, only to have it roll back and squash you. Treasure your past because it’s unique. There are memories only you have, and they don’t have to be as momentous like winning the big high school championship game or performing the lead in the school production of “The Fantasticks”. The memory can be something subtle and seemingly insignificant: the pleasant aroma of your girlfriend’s perfume, driving your old car at night through your neighborhood, attending a midnight screening of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” with friends. These are things you lock up in your mental attic and retrieve them whenever you need to remember.

Sometimes you forget these anecdotes and need a friend to jog your memory, whether a recollection of a good date where you were particularly witty or chivalrous, or a time where you said something seemingly trite which had a profound impact many years later.

I forgot all about the jean jacket incident until my friend reminded me of it. She carried that in her mental attic, stored among the cobwebs and dust, undisturbed for decades.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Bin Laden is Dead

From thousands of miles away, Osama bin Laden, a seemingly shadowy and spectral figure with a graying beard and white turban, was the face of terrorism for most Americans. The leader of the radical Islamic group Al-Qaeda, bin Laden was the mastermind behind the destructive attacks of September 11, 2001, which resulted in the deaths of 3,000 people and the destruction of the World Trade Center.

On May 2, Navy SEAL Team Six, a counterterrorism unit, stormed a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan the CIA claimed housed the terrorist leader. After a firefight, bin Laden and three men were killed in the raid. There were no U.S. casualties.

Following the raid, President Barack Obama addressed the nation and said “justice has been done.” The president said he repeatedly met with his national security team for many months after information trickled in about bin laden’s whereabouts in Pakistan.

Bin Laden’s remains were buried at sea according to news sources.

As news of bin Laden’s death reached the streets, you’d have thought it was New Year’s Eve and the Yankees had won the World Series.

Yet a closer examination of the aftermath, particularly between liberals and conservatives reveals a huge gulf in thinking.

Facebook, that great barometer of the universe, yielded its sweet fruit shortly after the president’s speech. Almost right away, my Facebook friends posted stats about bin Laden’s demise. What I discovered were my liberal friends expressed reserves and doubts about celebrating the death of a person, even though that person was the leader of a fanatical terrorist group responsible for killing thousands of innocent people. On the opposite end of the spectrum, my conservative friends posted images of the American flag, the bald eagle, the bald eagle straddling the American flag, the Statue of Liberty taking a dump on bin Laden’s bullet-ridden corpse, etc. if you looked at the people celebrating in New York City, most were young, chanting college kids who wanted to party. Back in the adult world, people went on with their work and lives, probably realizing that finally wiping out al-Qaeda’s leader almost ten years after the 9/11 attacks was just another footnote in a long, protracted war.

Make no mistake; bin Laden was a bastard who hated Americans because to him, we were unclean infidels, allies to Israel and decadent swine who advocated rights for women while jerking off to hardcore cable porn. We were evangelical Christians who drank cheap, watery beer while watching South Park. In short, we were a mess of contradictions who suckled the teat of Arabian oil to power our hefty battleship-sized SUVs. We settled into the Middle East – bin Laden’s holy land – and wouldn’t leave. We sat our fat American asses down and made ourselves at home like some boorish houseguest.

As a result of our comfy relationship with Israel and our policies in the Middle East, bin Laden saw America as a threat.
In death, bin Laden will most likely be martyred and mythologized. He will be the leader slain by capitalist, imperialist Yanks.

Grab the duct tape and gasmasks, because the next few months will be a wild ride on a rollercoaster and the tracks are filled with nitroglycerine.

Politicizing the killing began immediately after the president announced bin Laden was killed. Liberals praised the Obama Administration’s strategy and CIA intelligence-gathering operations, while conservatives lauded former President George W. Bush’s tactics and waterboarding torture techniques as the real reason the military could locate bin Laden.

When in doubt, go with the facts.

Fact: A special CIA unit consisting of experts who were tracking bin Laden was closed in 2005.

Fact: When Obama assumed the presidency, intelligence on bin Laden’s possible whereabouts were few and far between. Since the U.S. wasn’t really exerting any real effort to locate the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, American forces had to start the hunt all over again.

Fact: Finding bin Laden was like trying to find Waldo is one of those “Where’s Waldo” books if you were blind. Information had bin Laden living in Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan. A grandiose manhunt with several leads and several disappointing outcomes.

Fact: Obama gave the orders to use the Navy SEAL team to sweep the compound and get bin Laden.

Experience has shown me that one person is intelligent and rational, while several people are the opposite. There’s always a determent to the pack mentality, where people seek safety in numbers and thought. When tempers flare and emotions run high, the brains are switched off in favor of white-hot razor blades of anger and fury. The ones who do cartwheels at the death of bin Laden celebrate without considering the longview of history.

Simply dragging bin Laden’s body through the streets and teabagging his dusky withered corpse isn’t going to bring the 3,000 people back who perished during 9/11. In fact, desecrating the bodies of our enemies isn’t something Americans are universally known for. During World War II, did we display Nazi heads from the gates of the White House? During Vietnam, did Nixon play bongo drums made from the tanned, stretched skins of Viet Cong?

What all of the pundits, politicos and mouth-frothing patriots realize is we’re better than that. We should not feel wrath and lash out like an angry child. We should temper our decisions with wisdom and plot carefully against those who strike at us, and after we exhibit our strength in battle, we return not as mighty conquering Romans with the spoils of war and violated bodies of our enemy’s women, but with dignity and grace.

Ideally, we should be a kind, yet proud people; thankful for our blessings and not boastful or petty.

Yet the death of bin Laden revealed our dual natures: pensive and pugnacious. We either remember the dead killed that awful day a decade ago by a fundamentalist Islamic group, or we party in the streets while waving flags and hawking T-shirts of a dead turbaned figure.

We report the news with objectivity and professionalism, or run headlines like the New York Daily News: “Rot in Hell” or the New York Daily Post “U.S. Nails the Bastard”.

Could you imagine the same macho bullshit during World War II after Hiroshima and Nagasaki?

“We Fried the Nip Bastards!”
“A-Bomb Saps the Japs!”
“Fuck You, Hirohito!”

Things like this make us look like a nation of wife-beating drunken cowboys with small penises. We’re so eager to carry the mantle of “American exceptionalism” that we forget what being exceptional really means.

For those of you too fat to walk to the bookshelf and get the dictionary, it means better than average in quality or outstanding.
Those who don’t conform to this assessment are branded apologists for the left, America haters, socialists or even worse: liberals.

The fact is, America is a great nation despite the political arguments that sound eerily similar to children on a school yard arguing who’s stronger: Popeye or Mighty Mouse. Sure, there’s retarded bullshit everywhere, but it’s the kind of retarded bullshit which develops and evolves in a truly free society.

In short, it’s our retarded bullshit.

So there are those who rally that bin Laden is dead, just like there are those who over-analyze foreign policy to the umpteenth degree like Adrian Monk checking his sanitizing wipes.

These differences make this country great and give bloggers like me grist for the mill.

Now I must bid you adieu, gentle reader. A large pint of beer awaits me at the local tavern as I celebrate with orgiastic glee the untimely demise of bin Laden’s pet goldfish Hammed.