Wednesday, April 30, 2008

April is the bloggingest month

Just wanted to drop a quick note here to note the passage of a milestone: my StatCounter for this site has just today ticked over the 1000-page view mark. Hot damn. I have a pretty good sense of how many of those were me checking the StatCounter, so with that in mind, I'd like to thank the dozens of you who have visited.

Also, April will have been the month with the most posts I've written since I started, due in no small part to the content generator that is the Weeklypedia quiz. I will end April with 12 posts, 5 more than in November, the second-place month. Hoo-plah.

As thanks for your patience while I pat myself on the back, here's a link to a site that's collecting the title sequences from movies and TV shows. The files are big, but if you've got a good, fast connection, they're pretty fun. Based on the content, you get the impression that the late-90s into the new century have been something of a renaissance of style of the form (Se7en, Domino, Smoking Aces, Casino Royale), a rebound to the glory of the 60s (Bullitt, Vertigo). Neat. Enjoy.

Bobby & Bobby -- for the last time?

For two years, mid 2004-2006, I lived with Mr. Dan Hetzel, a terrific fella and one hell of an improvisor. Shortly before he moved in, I'd watched The Kid Stays in the Picture, the film version of the autobiography of film executive & producer (and former actor) Robert Evans. Evans colorful storytelling and distinctive style has been parodied numerous times, most notably a Mr. Show sketch about God-as-Evans recording the audiobook for his autobiography, which I sadly cannot find online. Anyway, Evans is a bizarre and in many ways sad human being, and he cracks me up.

Around the same time, Hetz played thriller author Robert Ludlum in an improv set. The real Ludlum, now deceased, wrote The Bourne Identity and it sequels, as well as The Holcroft Covenant, The Icarus Agenda, and other similarly-titled espionage thrillers. Hetz's Ludlum is a worldly adventurer, a gourmand of exotic species, and a writer of, as he described them, "corkers".

We joked, while living together, about performing improv as "Bobby & Bobby," revealing to the world (or to at least a hundred teenagers who paid a buck to see it) the imagined lifelong friendship of these princes of men. Six months after I moved out to move in with my fiancée, we finally made it happen.

"Bobby and Bobby" have performed about a half dozen times now, telling tale after fantastical tale of knife fights in Kowloon and celebrity ladies of the 70s bedded. With Hetzel moving out of town this summer, this Sunday at 8PM at the Brave New Workshop (2605 Hennepin Ave S, Minneapolis, MN, tickets $1) may be your last chance to see them. And it may even feature a special guest!

Regarding the photos above, those are (l-r) Ludlum and Evans. I decided to gray scale the image because the Ludlum photo was already black and white, and because Evans' skin color is disgusting. Any oranger and deer hunters could wear him.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Me & Finch

According to a variety of independent sources who started telling me so sometime around the turn of the century, I am apparently a dead ringer for actor Eddie Kaye Thomas, who played Paul "Finch" Finch in the American Pie series of movies. He's the one who had to go home to use the bathroom (ahem, "shitbreak") in the first one, and ended up in a tryst with Stifler's mom, played by the hilarious Jennifer Coolidge. This film of course also popularized the term "MILF".

Anyway, at least a dozen people have independently approached me over the years and either asked me if I know who I look like (that guy from American Pie?), or asked if I am, in fact, Eddie Kaye Thomas (I'm not). I find it somewhat fascinating how many people have come to this conclusion on their own, often having, just seconds before, laid eyes on me for the first time. In fact, I recall being called out for this in 2001 by the guy tearing the tickets when I went to see American Pie 2 with my friends Dan & Whitney in 2001.

The reason I bring this up now is that Eddie Kaye Thomas has a supporting role in the surprisingly delightful Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, and the new sequel, Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay. And he's also co-starring in the Brad Garret vehicle sitcom on FOX, 'Til Death, which is execrable. Neither of these roles is high profile enough, thankfully (?), to get people a-recognizin'. Also I wear glasses now.

Usually I don't see the resemblance, but every once in a while... Here's a picture of Dan and me in 2001, outside Mitch Hedberg's hotel in Grinnell:

Something was happening slightly to the left, and it made everybody happy. How young we looked. Also: holy crap! I had sideburns?

And here's Finch and Stifler in American Wedding, the third film in the series:

I guess I see it.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Lawnmower Man: Snikt!

As mentioned, Melissa and I are buying a house, and in the context of asking after our process, a coworker mentioned the other day that I'll have to get used to doing yard work. I allowed as how this isn't an issue -- as long as the yard isn't too big, and the sidewalks aren't too long, I don't terribly mind mowing or shoveling (prediction: I will eat that last word, at least).

But speaking of lawn mowing reminded me of something else, as it invariably does: The X-Men.

For years, when I was of mowing age, I would get up on Saturday morning, watch The X-Men cartoon on FOX, and then head outside with the theme music still rattling in my head. I wasn't a big comic book kid, so the cartoon is my basis for that series. All the movies, video games, and the handful of X-Men comic series I've read have all been compared back to that show.

And because the majority of my exposure to the characters during the time that the goo between my ears was curing was in close proximity to mowing the lawn, the two concepts are pretty linked for me. One suggests the other. Each time I watched one of the movies, I was transported to my parents' yard. And each time I've gone back to do yard work, I've been reminded of The X-Men (including the last time I mowed my parents' lawn, which was when they were out of town in 2004; it happened to be during the Republican National Convention, and a neighbor came in to water the plants at the same moment that I was yelling back at that ass Zell Miller).

Coincidentally, one evening in 1996 or 1997 when I was doing some raking and cleaning in the yard, I got a call from my friend Jeff Krueger, which I answered on the cordless while still in the yard. We were going to hang out that evening and watch a movie, and decided to check out this Usual Suspects flick we'd heard so much about. That film was directed by Bryan Singer, who would go on to direct... The X-Men and X2. More connections formed.

So I guess the bottom line is that I'm looking forward to cutting my new lawn with my adamantium claws. That's how it works, right?

Friday, April 25, 2008

Weeklypedia 8

OK. This week had some interesting Wiki-learning, and you get to reap the benefits. Some of the questions below are related to stuff I'd learned in the past, but was reminded of for one reason or another this week.

Last week's answers should be posted by the time you read this.

Weeklypedia Quiz #8

1. If two of them (Democrats) win their challengers' bids, and the third (a Republican) defends his seat, members of this western political family will comprise 3% of the US Senate.

2. It is the maximum amount one individual may gift to another under US tax law, without paying taxes or declaring it.

3. The founders of Berkeley Systems, famous for the "After Dark" screen saver software and its iconic flying toasters, went on to found this liberal political action website during the Clinton impeachment scandal.

4. Someone in an enviable position may be figuratively said to be in this, named for Dumetella carolinensis,which makes its nests over most of the United States.

5. It is the name for Phil Spector's technique of music production, which features heavily-overdubbed vocal and instrumental lines recorded in an echo chamber, which he employed with such artists as The Ronettes, the Crystals, and the Beatles.

6. Careful with that eggnog! As little as ten grams (2 teaspoons) of this household spice is mildly (if unpleasantly) hallucinogenic, and sixty grams can be fatal.

7. Disappointingly, this rock band, fronted by a former member of Nirvana, played at a fundraiser in 2000 for a group that denies the link between HIV & AIDS, and claims that HIV medications cause AIDS.

8. Japan's Takeru Kobayashi is known the world over for being a champion at this competitive pastime.

Life changes & found items

So, the big news is that I'm changing jobs. I'm leaving the firm where I started my career four years ago, and had the opportunity to take self-portraits of myself wearing aviators on the roofs of half-finished Target stores. I'll be starting in mid-May at a large architecture/engineering firm in downtown St. Paul, who shall go unnamed because I don't know what their feelings are about being associated with an individual's blog and I don't want to get pre-fired. I'm excited for the downtown environment, expensive parking notwithstanding, and the hustle & bustle of an urban firm with a large variety of projects going on. I'll have to listen to lots of SimCity music on my iPod while I engineer.

As a result of the change, I'm looking down the barrel of two moves: job and house, more or less simultaneously. I finish at Job #1 on May 7th, we close on our house May 9th, and I start at Job #2 May 14th. I'm a frothing madman, you see.

I started cleaning out my desk yesterday, and came across a stack of slips of paper, most of them Get Fuzzy Page-a-Day pages, with notes scrawled on them. Old to-do lists, many of them, but also some Fred-cultural artifacts scrawled on lunch breaks and end-of-the-day flights of fancy. I present to you here two that I found of interest.

Legend of Zelda Games
chronologically, and indicating (X) if I have ever completed them:
  • The Legend of Zelda X
  • Adventure of Link X
  • Link to the Past X
  • Link's Awakening X
  • Ocarina of Time
  • Majora's Mask
  • Oracle of Ages
  • Oracle of Seasons
  • Wind Waker X
  • Four Swords Adventures X
  • Minish Cap X
  • Twilight Princess (X, more recent than list)
  • Phantom Hourglass
Hey, that was fun! Here's another:

Awesome Rolling Stones songs
(* indicates songs I was newly, especially fond of as of early 2005)
  • Moonlight Mile
  • Happy
  • Let It Loose *
  • Paint It Black
  • She's a Rainbow
  • You Can't Always Get What You Want
  • 19th Nervous Breakdown
  • Can't You Hear Me Knocking *
  • Monkey Man
  • Wild Horses
  • Bitch *
  • Beast of Burden
  • Ruby Tuesday
  • Rocks Off *
  • Sympathy for the Devil
  • Ventilator Blues
  • Angie
  • I Don't Know Why *
  • Loving Cup
  • Tumbling Dice
  • Gimme Shelter
Wow! This is the sort of hard-hitting excitement you've come to expect from my blog, no doubt. Glad to serve.

Hey, reminder, Neutrino happens tonight. Please do come. I certainly didn't expect April to be the month where it actually snowed while we were filming but then, sometimes our expectations are dashed and covered with a half an inch of snow.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


It's the last full week of the month, which means it's time for The Neutrino Video Project. Our show is Friday, April 25th at 10:30 PM at the Bryant-Lake Bowl. This month, instead of acting, as I have in the previous shows, I will be stepping behind the camera for my first time as a director. So come see me break the 2/3 rule and the 180-degree rule and lord knows what other filmmaking guidelines as the slurry of Kubrick, Scorsese, Tarantino, Soderbergh, Wes Anderson and whoever else gets stirred in my brain and comes out as Ed Wood.

Self-deprecation aside, we had our dress rehearsal last night, and I had a hell of a fun time working with Corey Anderson, Mike Hadley and Nick Ryan. Friday promises to be more fun, especially if I remember to turn on the microphone. Cough.

While I'm boosting Neutrino, you should also check out the Neutrino Twin Cities Blog. Rumor has it they're going to be giving some tickets away or something...

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Weeklypedia "Secaucus" 7

Better late than never, right? For reasons I'll discuss later, I've been a bit distracted from trivia gathering of late. Below are new questions. Elsewhere are answers to old ones.

Weeklypedia Quiz #7

1. Sargon, Hammurabi, Ashurbanipal, and Gilgamesh were all rulers of this ancient cradle of civilization, and were celebrated as members of a fictitious rock band in a 2007 song by They Might Be Giants.

2. This former US Senator (D - GA) gave the keynote speech at the 2004 Republican National Convention.

3. The Drake Equation (sometimes incorrectly labeled the Sagan Equation) estimates the number of these in our galaxy.

4. This naturalist found the life cycle of the Ichneumon wasp incompatible with a natural world directed by a benevolent God.

5. Filmmaker George Romero was inspired by a visit to the Monroeville Mall in Pennsylvania to make this 1978 horror film.

6. Chop the top off of a pyramid or cone, parallel with the base, and you'll get one of these three-dimensional solids.

7. Quentin Tarantino originally wanted to use this 1979 pop song for the infamous torture scene in Pulp Fiction, but he was beaten to the punch by its use in the film Reality Bites.

8. For the purposes of touring with his Mothers of Invention ensemble, this rock musician had his percussionist's marimba and vibraphone outfitted with electrical pickups for purposes of amplification.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Comedy, sketched

From and comes a list of top 50 comedy sketches. The list may provoke a few eye-rolls from comedy snobs like me and my friends, but it's got some great stuff on it too. Special kudos to them for including several sketches from The State, and for #43, which may be one of the most brilliantly-constructed sketches ever. If they had to limit Mr. Show to a single sketch, I'm glad they picked that one.

Why I've been busy

Melissa and I have been house-hunting.

Yesterday we made an offer on this:

That offer was accepted! We close (eep) on May 9th.

Weeklypedia 5 & 6: Pick Up Sticks

I've been pretty busy the last couple of weeks for a variety of reasons, some of which I'll be blogging about shortly. So, I've been neglectful of the Weeklypedia quizzes and it's time to play catch-up. In the immortal words of Sir Mix-a-Lot: "Unh! Double-up! Unh! Unh!"

Oh, and here are the answers to Weeklypedia #4.

Weeklypedia Quiz #5

1. Conservative commentator Michelle Malkin drew harsh criticism in 2004 for her book that defended this American policy of World War II.

2. This Democratic politician served as the first Director of the Peace Corps and Ambassador to France in the 1960s, and was a Vice Presidential candidate and father of a First Lady of California.

3. Three-time Oscar-winning (and six-time nominated) film editor Thelma Schoonmaker has been primarily known for her association with this American director.

4. The most prominent Opera composer at the time of Italian unification, this man's last name was also used as an acronym signifying Italian King Victor Emmanuel II.

5. Get too close to one of these, and physicists theorize that the gravity gradient will stretch your body into a long, thin strip of matter, a process they call spaghettification.

6. At about 290 pounds, this pitcher for the Cleveland Indians is the heaviest player in Major League Baseball.

7. The two co-founders of this company (who also share a first name) got their start designing a prototype for the arcade game Breakout for Atari within four days.

8. If you steal cargo on the high seas, you may be known as a pirate. If you do it with the sponsorship of a state, you may be known as this.

OK, here we go again.

Weeklypedia Quiz #6 (This one is Nazi-heavy)

1. The Japanese term for a samurai without a master, or a 1998 Robert DeNiro film directed by John Frankenheimer.

2. Canadian scholar and theorist on communications and media Marshall McLuhan broke the fourth wall in a famous cameo appearance in this 1977 comedy.

3. Anybody? Anybody? This actor, columnist and former Nixon staffer is now (sadly -ed.) starring in a documentary film promoting the concept of "Intelligent Design."

4. It is a historical uncertainty whether this German physicist knowingly slowed his work on the atomic bomb to prevent his Nazi employers from attaining it.

5. Ernst Röhm was purged from the leadership of this colorful Nazi organization, arrested personally by Adolf Hitler on the Night of Long Knives, because he was a homosexual.

6. (Last Nazi one, I swear) Valkyrie, a film by Usual Suspects director Bryan Singer about the July 20th plot to assassinate Hitler, has faced barriers to filming in Germany because of the religion of this actor, its star.

7. Italian printer Aldus Mantius is believed to have first used this punctuation mark to separate individual clauses that are nonetheless related to one another.

8. One of this American songwriter's biggest hits was the song "Without You," a cover of a Badfinger song that was later a major hit again, for Mariah Carey.

It's over! 26.2 miles of trivia!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

"I'm the only friend you've got."

Friday night saw another performance of the Neutrino Video Project - Twin Cities, which will happen again at 10:30PM on the last Friday of April and May at the Bryant-Lake Bowl in Minneapolis, as well as at the Brave New Workshop for the Twin Cities Improv Festival in June. Anyway, the beginning of every show features some fake trailers and ads, and this month I was privileged to star in one. If you loved Michael Clayton, or A Civil Action, or The Firm, or The Spanish Prisoner, you'll love "Files of Evidence":

This is the Gone With the Wind of Neutrino Trailers, in terms of scope. We filmed for several hours one evening in mid-February at a law firm in the IDS Tower, several hours the following Sunday morning in St. Paul, and then a couple hours a couple weeks ago at a warehouse in Roseville. The shot-to-edited ratio must be gigantic. Stuff we filmed that got cut included every single character informing mine that they're the only friend I've got. Also, more sprinting in downtown St. Paul, which I really, really should have stretched before I did.