Tuesday, October 31, 2006

If Edgar Allan Poe Wrote Porn

It's a hack premise that I believe Michael O'Donoghue and others have done, but what else can you write on Halloween? Here's my take:

The rapid pounding of his tell-tale vas deferens informed her the moment was near--that moment of terror mixed with ecstasy, passion mixed with horror, semen mixed with blood. She began to cough as if consumptive. “Anon,” she insisted with the maidenly intimacy only a 13-year old cousin could give. “Upon my visage! Upon my visage! Let forth thy spectral froth on mine own countenance!”

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Bowel Stretching Time

Terry Jones was recently diagnosed with cancer. Luckily it’s at an early stage and very treatable. Could Spam be a carcinogen?

Within Monty Python, Jones was the leading romanticist pushing for the anarchic free-form structure of Flying Circus with sketches flowing in and out of each other or ending abruptly. He loved exotic film locations, vulgar characters and lots of visual clutter. In counterpoint was John Cleese’s classicism of straightforward comic premises—a cheese shop with no cheese—word play and slapstick.

When Cleese left to do Fawlty Towers both shows suffered. Flying Circus became messier and long-winded. Sketches grew to almost the length of an entire episode and risked tedium. Meanwhile Fawlty Towers was funny but boringly traditional. Farcical to the point of predictability, it lacks a good dose of the weird.

Here's to balanced health and holistic comedy.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Nice Beaver

Brooke Astor is 104. She married the great-great grandson of John Jacob Astor. America's first millionaire, Astor gained his fortune from the fur trade. THE FUR TRADE! When you check into a penthouse assisted living center and pay with pelts that's some old money.

The Astors built the famed Waldorf-Astoria. While the rival Algonquin Hotel was the regular lunch gathering for a roundtable of jazz age wits, the Waldorf gave us the apple, nuts, celery and mayo salad. Someone must've had to clean out the fridge one day.

So where's Atlanta's wittiest luncheon? The wise-ass hipsters and visually-impaired regulars at the Majestic Diner? The jaded bon mots of the Grady cafeteria? Jeff Foxworthy at a Huddle House dining alone?

Here's my almost-empty fridge salad: bread and butter pickle chunks, worcestershire sauce, some seeded grapes I bought by mistake and diet Dr. K.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

A Date Uncertain

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

An Exercise in Aural Description

Norbert cut one. Not loud but audible. A short, gentle attack and brief crescendo that climaxed a mere half octave higher. Its descent was the interesting part, a long lowering of pitch and volume that maintained a taut focus despite its pulsating nature. The end was hardly abrupt, the sound softly aging from resonance to whisper to memory. At its worst it was conversational in tone. But nobody was conversing, just counting down the floors to the lobby.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

To is a preposition. Die is a verb. “On the shitter” is a prepositional phrase.

Yesterday was Lenny Bruce’s Birthday. The man who transformed stand-up comedy from short gags about insurance salesmen and lady drivers to conversational musings about sex, death, race, religion and what it might sound like if Jimmy Cagney and Edward G. Robinson shared a cab. The man who made blasphemy constitutional, Lenny was one of the few pop culture figures to both revolutionize his art form and die on the toilet. The others being Elvis Presley and innovative sword swallower “Incontinent” Connie Karamazof.

Dig, man. Lenny paved the way.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Have You Received Money or Drugs in Exchange for Sex Since 1977?

No, but '76 was a fun year.

Are you an untraveled loser? A dull-as-fuck shut-in who's never done anything remotely interesting? Not even one goddamned tattoo? Than maybe you can donate blood. Just answer "no" to the extensive health and lifestyle questions and soon you'll be helping others while feeling emptier than any missing pint could fill. (I sometimes pray for an air bubble.)

Free cookies and juice after.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Up and Down The Alley

In 1947, after 16 years on the air, Fred Allen’s program suddenly became the highest rated show on radio. East coast, urbane and witty, the longtime favorite of college kids and intellectuals had somehow found a mass audience.

When called Town Hall Tonight, the program was a full hour. As the Fred Allen Show it was now a more focused, sharper half hour. His weekly “Allen’s Alley” sketch was a hit in itself. Fred called on 4 distinct neighbors: a southern Senator—later the inspiration for Foghorn Leghorn, a Jewish housewife, a New England farmer and an Irishman. Blending vaudeville style with topical gags, the Alley was ethnic humor but done with affection. The only real complaints were from the Irish—Allen’s own heritage. (Less affectionate is the cringe-inducing oriental detective spoof “One Long Pan.”) For one season the baggy-eyed man with the flat voice was No. 1. The following year he faced off against Stop the Music--a cheap, lowbrow giveaway show on a rival network--and dropped to No. 28. It was his program’s last year on the air.

Intriguing to me is the number of couples in radio at the time. Allen’s co-star Portland Hoffa met him while performing together in a Broadway revue and converted to Catholicism to marry him. Jack Benny and his wife/co-star Mary Livingston were both Jewish. Yet Burns and Allen had a mixed marriage. This bold-for-the-time relationship and the couple’s happy longevity inspired a sketch I later used in the first Dutch Loves Bijou Experiment in Vaudeville. It imagines a darker, mean-spirited mixed couple:

The Old Vaudevillians

Cast: Henry (chomps a cigar), June (Speaks in a high-pitched, mousy voice a la Gracie Allen)

June: Henry, Marge Henderson’s husband calls her Honey and Sweetie Pie. How come you don’t have a nickname like that for me?

Henry: (Takes cigar out of his mouth) What are ya talkin’ about June. I call you a whore in front of your friends don’t I? Ahar har har. (Replaces cigar)

June: Marge Henderson’s husband takes her arm when they go strollin’ in the park and holds her hand when they’re sittin’ on the bench. How come you never touch me like that?

Henry: (Takes cigar out) What are you talkin’ about. I smacked you around the other night didn’t I? Ahar har har. (Replaces cigar)

June: Marge Henderson’s husband takes her out to dinner. How come you never take me out to dinner?

Henry: (Takes cigar out) What are ya talkin’ about. I held your head down and made you eat that dog turd I found in the yard didn’t I? Ahar har har har. (Replaces cigar)

June: Your people killed the Messiah.

Henry: (Takes cigar out quickly) What? That’s not in the act.

June: I’m leaving you Christ killer. (June storms off the stage)

Henry: Gee, I guess mixed marriages don’t always work out. Even in the vaudeville. (Waits a beat) Ahar har har har. (Waits a beat and exits awkwardly.)

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Kate Chopin's Lesser Novels, Part One

The Slumbering –A sense-rich description of a menopausal woman’s declining eroticism.

“The heat came like a flash. Mrs. Andouille unlaced her corset. A grand esplanade of aged breasts tumbled down to almost touch the dried, shrunken mémoire of her once-alluvial plain. Sweat dripped down her neck only to eddy against the levee of her rounded back. There was nothing to be done but sit on the veranda until dinner.

The octoroon cook made squid.”

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The Former Not The Latter

Met two former Atlanta comedians for dunch Sunday. They seemed relaxed and centered, more at ease with life than most active comics. Still witty and insightful, but without the bullshit bravado and always-on swagger. Hmm.

Al Shelton ditched dick jokes for the grander emotional range of songwriting. He’ll be playing in front of A Cappella books this Thursday at 8 p.m.

Kevin Bicknell now writes book reviews for the AJC and was briefly one of the few non-fascist contributors to Stomp and Stammer.

Back in the Atlanta open mic day Kevin and I started a script for a short mockumentary about an aspiring fluffer who has to overcome a cleft palette and gingivitis. It remained unfinished for years, a metaphor for my comedy: mildly amusing, slightly provocative but stilted, awkward and unfulfilled. This January I finally finished a draft and promptly fell into a funk not performing for weeks.

The comedian in me says to get a camera and film the damn thing just to put it to rest. The civilized man in me keeps eyeing that guitar I’ve been meaning to learn and the pile of books on my shelf.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

My Ass is Po'

Sad News From My Home State

First, a tragic school shooting despite Larry the Cable Guy’s heroic efforts. Now California is within reach of producing the most cheese. California the new dairyland? That can’t be!

In Wisconsin, employers hold workshops on Lactose Tolerance.
Margarine is considered a hate crime.

Come on Wisconsin, cut some more cheese!