Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry Christmas, All!

Well, now that I've driven away all my readers by never posting anything, I can get all self-indulgent for the holidays.

I'd just like to take a moment to thank everybody on Team EJ who made this year possible.

Thanks to my brother, who got me a swell autographed picture of Mikhail the Russian. Even better, Mikhail wrote the name "Benry". We're getting that on the air before the end, I tell you!

Thanks to Sister Jane, who shares my love of reality TV and manages to watch even more embarassing things than I do. Her brain's like a freaky rolodex of reality contestants -- it's pretty unbelievable.

I didn't see much of Dr. Brian this year, but he's been busy being a doctor. He is still awesome, and my oldest friend.

Big thanks to Lana for one million things. You know when you're driving in a snowstorm, and you can't see the road anymore, sometimes there's a car ahead of you that you can follow? And as long as you can see those tail lights, no matter how far off they are, you know you're going to be OK? Yeah. Lana is the tail lights.

Mad props to the whole bunch of Kennys -- Sam for encouraging my fledgling comedy career and forcing me to be funnier all the time, Sean for involving me in crazy projects and blessing me with his wisdom, and Becky for having a heart much too big for her tiny frame. And the mighty Colleen for bringing me celebrity sightings and sharing so many of my obsessions. Of course, thanks to Shmoopy who is sweet as all get out, even if she does make Sean get all cutesy and weird.

Thanks to Kelli for being good and arguing and for being all nice and stuff. Also, for her hilarious righteous indignation at the X-Files movie. Not to say it wasn't warranted, of course.

Thanks to Rachael for helping with my Halloween costume and being a fine hostess and a great Lost fan. Thanks to Bruce for letting me stay at his house and explaining guy stuff to me.

Applause to Brad and Becke for hosting Thursday TV night and for being much less normal than they seem at first glance.

Thanks to Melissa for being the first person outside of my immediate circle to care about things that I wrote, and to Amy for hanging out at Festival and being generally swell.

And of course, I have to thank the spunkycrew. Ben for founding the website and knowing a lot of stuff, Anne for editing me in those early days and introducing me to Frisky Dingo. Thanks to the other writers and the way they amuse me regularly, and special thanks to Nic, who made the trip to attend Spunky Night at the Movies and shared in some Backdoor Mansion Pizza. And then there's special giant thanks to Don, who singlehandedly laid waste to the Swear Jar, but made up for it with all of his encouragement and enthusiasm. We're getting on the Amazing Race one of these days! And finally, to my most frequent collaborator, Myndi. We did a lot of co-recapping this year, and it's been a real pleasure. She's thoroughly delightful, and much funnier than I am. Frankly, that's a little bit irritating to me, but I'll let it go.

Thanks for everything this year, you goofy SOB's. With your help, just maybe I'll make something of myself this year.

Merry Christmas, everybody!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Batman, Warren Zevon, and Crow T. Robot

I'm pounding away on the 25 Days of Christmas Episodes over on spunkybean, but I felt like getting all bloggy. Let's do this one Mysterious Don-style for a change!

WATCHING: Well, along with all my regulars and all the Christmas episodes, I've been getting re-acquainted with Mystery Science Theater 3000. The 20th Anniversary DVD set came out last month, and I've been sort of hoovering up the older box sets. Man, what a great show. Episodes I've seen a dozen times before (Skydivers) still make me laugh to a disturbing degree, and now I can finally see some of the Sci-Fi channel episodes, as they're fairly well represented on DVD. Man, I love this show just as much as I ever did.

Also, I'm discovering Sealab 2021. From the creators of Frisky Dingo, it was one of Adult Swim's first series, and it mostly re-used old Hanna-Barbera animation. What it doesn't have is FD's continuity, but it's still pretty hysterical. I didn't really watch it in its original run, and now I feel like a dope. Fignuts, I tell ya!

READING: Just finished Jonathan Lethem's You Don't Love Me Yet, and I once again feel like a disgusting fraud for ever stringing words into sentences for people to read. It's not my favorite of his books, largely because novels about musicians inherently lack music, so a key dimension of the experience is missing. Despite that, it's absorbing and just beautifully written.

Also, Grant Morrison just wrapped up his "Batman, R.I.P." story, and I think we all know how I feel about Batman. This is the storyline that got some media attention, what with the killing Batman and all. Now, we know nobody's actually killing Bruce, but this arc ends with the guy getting blown up, and he's not appearing anywhere for the next several months. This was one of great mind-screw stories of all time, with Batman apparently losing his mind over a period of months. I enjoyed this story to a ridiculous extent, and should probably write something substantial about it later. (And no, Hurt's not the Devil. Batman straight out tells us he isn't. While there is some ambiguity, part of the point of this arc is that Batman is always right.)

Don totally checked out for that last paragraph, by the way.

LISTENING: Man, that re-mastered edition of Warren Zevon's self-titled album is pretty slick, isn't it? Sounds great, and I love the second disc of outtakes and demos. Granted, this means I now own about nine different recordings of "Mohammed's Radio", but I'm fascinated with his process. On the whole, I've always loved that album, but it's much better than I remember.

Actually, there's an interesting bit -- in one of the demos of "Carmelita" (as well as the time I saw him live in 1995 -- God, I'm old.), he changes a key line. The song's about a drug addict, and the line usually goes:

I pawned my Smith-Corona / And I went to meet my man - he's a writer, and he sells his typewriter to buy heroin. Pretty sad, right? Well, in the demo, he pawns his Smith and Wesson instead. He sells his handgun for drug money. If he had a handgun, why didn't he just rob somebody for money? See, in the demo, he's not a failed writer. He's a punk who pretends to belong to this world he can't handle. He's got a gun, but it's for show. This is him actually giving up the one pretense that he clings to - the guy convinces himself he's a badass, but he has nothing to back it up. Once he loses that self-image, does he have anything left at all?

HOPING: That you will use my Amazon link to buy your gifts this holiday season. All proceeds go toward buying John Swartzwelder books.

WRITING: This year's family Christmas story. In my book, it's sort of cheating to write it before December 20th, but I'm trying to come up with a premise. The only thing I know for sure is that I want to solve the mystery of what happened to J-Dogg in between Seasons One and Two of The Pick-Up Artist.

REALIZING: There is not a person in the world who's going to be able to get through this boring-ass post. Sorry about that!