Wednesday, April 30, 2008

I'm on Wikipedia! (Sort of.)

One day, I hope to have a few choice credits on Internet Movie Database. In the meantime, I'll have to settle for a passing reference on Wikipedia. But at least it's an accurate nod, and fun one, at that.

While I don't yet have my own page on the ubiquitous site, there is a Wikipedia reference to a one of my favorite stories from the 1,400 or so I've written for The Journal News.

Fans of "The Simpsons," take note and rejoice; Whacking Day is based in fact:

"A 2003 article in the The Journal News reported that records show genuine 'Whacking Days' having taken place in Eastchester, New York from 1665 onwards: 'That one day every spring be chosen for the destroying of rattle snakes.' The article quoted showrunner Al Jean as saying: 'I agree with the premise of the episode: leave the snakes alone. They didn't hurt anybody.'"

My phone chat with Jean -- one of my first celebrity interviews -- took weeks to coordinate and about 5.2 minutes to conduct. He was gracious and informative, but I found myself plum out of related questions after that time frame. You see, back in 2003, it was a few years before blogging about entertainment was popularized at The Journal News, so I had to stick to my questions relating to the local story.

It's just as well, because I might have otherwise pulled my own version of the recurring "Chris Farley Show" segment from "Saturday Night Live."

"Hey, Mr. Jean, remember that time Homer said 'Mmm... donuts'? Oh, right, he does that all the time. Stupid! Stupid! But still, that was awesome. Hey, I can do impressions of eight 'Simpsons' characters! Wanna hear? Hel-- hello? Mr. Jean? You there?"

I loved writing this history article so much, especially because my editors approved my lead of "Mmm... historicalicious." Here are the next couple of paragraphs from that story, which I fear reprinting in full due to legal implications:

In an episode of “The Simpsons” that debuted on Fox television stations a decade ago, Homer Simpson and other cartoon residents of the town of Springfield chased and killed snakes to celebrate an annual holiday known as Whacking Day.

So what would Simpson say if he discovered the tradition — so distinctly Springfield — was shared by real-life communities, including the Anglo-Saxon founders of Eastchester? Perhaps the patriarch in history’s longest-running sitcom would repeat his assessment of stereotypical stand-up comedy: "It's funny because it’s true."

If you want to spend some cash and read the whole story, be my guest.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Stuff and Things, Part V

Ah, Stuff and Things. It's been a while.

For those of you unfamiliar -- or just flat out forgot -- Sports Guy has Ramblings. I have Stuff and Things. Here's the fourth installment. And the third. And the second. And the first.

- Random hot women in commercials these days:

3. The fine woman saying words about Mercury vehicles (YouTube says her name is Jill Wagner. Huzzah.)

2. The blonde Orbit girl. Fabulous indeed. (Also gives me an excuse to reference the hilarious "lint-licker" line.)

1. The "Not Brad" lady from that newish Verizon commercial. (Poor Brad.)

- A Mount Kisco pedestrian who was willing to wait to cross in front of my car got the go-ahead from me because he may or may not have been former New York Giants quarterback Jeff Hostetler. Erring on the safe side, I wouldn't have wanted the Super Bowl champ to return late to his hot-dog stand.

- The Yankees have played some pretty awful baseball -- especially with runners in scoring position -- yet are only 2 games back in the American League East. Better than tearing the cover off the ball and being in the same position, I suppose.

- Speaking of baseball, here's a Mets update that appeared on the YES Network scroll last week: "CHURCH 2-5, 2 RBI, R. PAGAN, 1-4, RBI, R." It's only a matter of time before they call up knuckleballer Bill Atheist from Triple-A.

- Ray J has a Top-10 hit on the iTunes singles chart with "Sexy Can I." Can't wait for his next hits, "Duck Duck Caboose" and "Sleaze Tag." Also, if that song is supposed to be a play on the game "Mother, May I?" that's a creepy sort of Oedipal complex. Blech.

- I'm not surprised Howard Stern and the honchos at Sirius allowed Artie Lange to stay on the Stern show after Lange's blow-up. After a heated argument, the Stern sidekick tossed water onto his then-assistant and aggressively chased after him in a violent outburst. Despite behavior that'd get most people fired, Lange is a crucial part of the Stern show and the executives know this. The only person who'd be a decent successor is Greg Fitzsimmons, but Stern fans know before fans can truly accept a successor, it takes the passage of two-and-a-half years -- which is about the amount of time left on Stern's contract.

- Random TV flashbacks: CBS once had a sitcom starring Matt Fruer (a.k.a. Max Headroom) that was called "Doctor Doctor." This show existed for 40 episodes. There was also a short-lived NBC sitcom called "Marblehead Manor," which lasted about one season (if that) and featured Michael Richards as "Rick the Gardener." Ah, '80s TV.

- This Varsity Basketweaving classic has been getting a bunch of hits lately, but I have no idea why. I know this trailer came out recently, but I don't think that's the reason because there was no related surge that coincided with its release. If you have any theories, please post them in the comments section below.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

David Cross thrills fans, confuses old lady at live 'What's My Line?' show

While seeing my friend Patti serve as hostess of a weekly live staging of the classic game show "What's My Line?" at the Barrow Street Theatre, I wondered who would be the week's celebrity mystery guest. I was hoping for someone of equal or greater caliber of LeVar Burton, who was a previous mystery guest for the staging.

After the first three panelists -- a singer/songwriter for "Sesame Street" (Chris Cerf, son of frequent "WML" panelist Bennett Cerf, responsible for the star-studded "Put Down The Duckie"!); a Good Humor Lady who also appeared as a guest on the original "WML"; and a trombonist for the New York Philharmonic -- I anxiously awaited the evening's mystery guest.

Before David Cross could even fully emerge -- I think only his goatee had made it past the curtain -- I tossed my fists in the year and howled. About half the crowd, which skewed older perhaps because they are nostalgic for the original game show, seemed confused about why some of the crowd was going bonkers.

While pinching his throat, Cross answered the blindfolded panelists' questions using the voice of Maple Syrup, the Jheri-curled soul singer he played on "Mr. Show."

One of the funniest moments of the night was when the panelists correctly determined that the sitcom he's best known for is "Arrested Development" and deduced in a conference that he was either "Jason Bateman, Jeffrey Tambor or Will Arnett." Cross threw his head back with laughter. The panelists came close, but couldn't determine who it was after 10 questions were answered in the negative.

Cross said he had to postpone the "What's My Line?" appearance twice because his "girlfriend was having an abortion," which made the miffed old woman to my right ask me "Is this the kind of humor they had on his show?"

He discussed the awkward encounter of working with "Inside the Actors Studio" host James Lipton on "AD," admitting that he still hates what Lipton does but thought he was a nice guy. Cross said that while they were prepping for a scene, a tech guy complimented Cross on his comedy album; according to the comedian, Lipton then asked Cross if he would be making fun of him (again) on his next album.

Cross also said that the blue makeup he wore for "Arrested's" Blue Man Group scenes prohibited him from doing pretty much anything without it smudging. The real BMG guys, he said, wear a unitard and only paint their faces blue; Cross said he had to wear paint from head to toe.

He talked about the new sitcom pilot he's filming for HBO, which he said is being staged on the set of "Everybody Loves Raymond." He said his character lives with two roommates who are "idiots" representing the politically extremist left and right, and he's in the middle. He said he leaves early next week to go shoot it with "Bob" (presumably "Mr. Show" costar Odenkirk).

Cross' appearance was outstanding and "What's My Line" is a lot of fun. J. Keith van Straaten is a hilarious host, who's quick on his feet and a solid interviewer. The panelists rotate, and upcoming notables include John Oliver, Nick Stevens and Doug Benson. The show's run, recently extended, is Monday nights at 8 through May 26. Definitely check it out.

And now for my crappy cell-phone pic of David Cross on the set of "WML," which is why I led off with the photo from "WML's" Web site:

Monday, April 21, 2008

Yes, I'm a Libra. Can we make out now?

For whatever reason, single women are the only ones who talk about astrology to me. My favorite is when they pull the old routine, "Oh, you're a Libra. We'd never work."

No, we'd never work because you put so much emphasis on a glorified witches' cookbook.

I mean, I play along with astrology because it's harmless fun and I read the horoscopes on occasion, but come on, people. Who's putting any credence into this stuff? Especially when every single sign describes someone as "strong-willed yet vulnerable." Does anyone you know NOT fit that description to some degree?

If I just decided "Oh, you were born on a Wednesday, so that must mean you like breathing and fun and not being sad," how is that any different from any astrological profiles you read?

Maybe I'm just bitter because seemingly every Libra horoscope I read that sits between Virgo's promises of riches and Scorpio's assurances of lifelong love seems to be like, "Well, you at least have your health, no?"

Yes, Mom's been writing my horoscopes again.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Perhaps the best part about HBO's 'John Adams' is the random high-pitched fiddle that comes in toward the end of the cool theme song

And that's not a slight to the seven-part miniseries, which is quite entertaining (except for Part 3, which was horrendously dull). Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney are excellent as always.

High-pitched fiddle comes in at the 1-minute, 35-second mark:

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Get confident, stupid!

Moments before using a half-empty cup to rinse my brushed teeth this morning, I was hoping for something specific to work out for me today. Instead of assuming it wouldn't pan out, I thought, "Life's too short to be pessimistic."

Then I realized that even my optimism is pessimistic.