Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Don't read this post if you're lactose intolerant!

It's Salem Sue, billed as the World's Largest Holstein Cow.

Personally I think they should bill it as "The World's Largest Statue of a Holstein Cow" because when I got close and saw she wasn't moving, I became a little alarmed. I mean it was 20 below here last week.

Good times in North Dakota.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

I finally found a way to avoid the Oscars!

Every year I try to get away from the Oscarcastâ„¢, and every year I fail. It all started when I realized I can't go to Oscar parties without getting pissed off at the one person there who's so into the show she shushes people every 10 seconds. It's a freakin' 'party', I came here to see my friends, not sit in rapt attention listening to what Julia Roberts thinks about her life.

My opinion is if you need to hear every word of the show, don't go to an Oscar party, sit at home and watch it with your cats. That's like watching the Superbowl and sushing everyone after a big play because you want to hear Joe Buck and Troy Aikman's commentary on it. But I realize I'm in the minority, because every time I forget I'm not an Oscar party guy and go to one, I end up having to leave after the third or fourth shush.

So I've tried to go to bars, but the bars will end up playing the show. And I don't mean just showing it on the t.v. in the background, they inevitably turn up the sound. Bartenders and waitresses are usually actors after all, and watching the show somehow helps them forget they're working as bartenders and waitresses. Even my friend's crazy, anti-L.A. bar in L.A. had it on one year when I was out there during Oscar weekend. And is was a place that prides itself on serving Schlitz in 16 oz. cans. Who would have thought?

I guess I could sit at home and read, but that's where my discipline is at fault. I'll usually flip on the t.v. hoping to find something to watch for an hour or two, and since it's Oscar night no other networks put anything good on. I'll tune in telling myself "I should see what the host's jokes are" or something to make me think it's somehow my business, but I'll end up watching most of the show and then feel like I've wasted a night of the precious gift of life.

But this year I accidentally stumbled upon a foolproof solution, as I'm writing this post from the United terminal of Denver International Airport, stuck in a long layover before my flight to Bismarck, ND. So all you have to do to avoid the Oscars is book a flight to the middle of nowhere, and then sit and enjoy the comforts of flying the aggravated and cramped skies.

Seriously, the flight in was one of the most uncomfortable planes I've ever been on, and I've flown in C-17s. But on the upside, no Oscars.

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Monday, February 18, 2008

The Clinton Plagiarism Charge-- A Comedian's Perspective

I usually don't get too political here on my blog, but I think as someone who works both in a spoken medium and in a field where plagiarism is a serious charge I have some insight into the situation, so I thought I'd share my thoughts on Senator Clinton's recent accusation of plagiarism on the part of Senator Obama.

First of all, in the world of standup comedy we eschew the snooty, academic term of 'plagiarism' and just plain call it 'stealing,' and, with a few notable exceptions, a reputation as a joke thief is career death.

And due to the seriousness of the charge, accusations of joke theivery are soberly deliberated among comedians before we label someone a thief. Often it is determined that comedians came up with similar jokes independent of each other. The more common and obvious the joke, the less likely an accusation of stealing is going to stick. If a comic says "Joey Donut's a thief because he does a bit about his wife nagging him all the time, I do a bit about my wife nagging me all the time," he'd get laughed out of the club because 80% of the comics on the road do a bit about his wife nagging him all the time.

And that's kind of how I feel about Clinton's accusation. She criticized Obama for being all fluff, saying his speeches are just words. Obama responded with the question, "Are 'I have a dream' just words? 'We have nothing to fear but fear itself' just words?" Since a gubenatorial candidate in Massachusetts made the same point 2 years ago when he was criticized for being all talk, Clinton's folks said Obama is a petty theif for taking the idea without crediting the Massachusetts guy.

Hell, I would have made the same point if someone told me that words don't mean anything, and I've never even heard of this guy from Massachusetts. It's not like Obama cribbed someone's theory of relativity and passed it off as his own. It's an obvious rebuttal to a weak accusation. If Clinton were a comic accusing Obama of stealing Massachusetts guy's material, 9 out of 10 comics would tell her to get lost and go write something funnier.

And if we really want to split hairs, the FDR line, "We have nothing to fear but fear itself" is borrowed from Henry David Thoreau. And I came up with that all by myself... after learning about it from an episode of the sitcom Head of the Class.

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