I’m a freelance interactive content strategist and copywriter in Austin, TX. See my work here.
I post about whatever geeky stuff interests me. Sometimes I post funny stuff that I make up. About once a week I post videos of my cat Yeti ignoring me. I welcome reader suggestions and feedback. I seldom get any.
Oh, yeah. I’m also the recording artist currently known as ManChildATX.
ARTIST’S STATEMENT: My work photographing full dog poo bags left lying around Austin’s Lady Bird Lake continues. As I spend more time with full dog poo bags, I can’t help find myself humanizing them. Who did they belong to? Who filled them with poo and then abandoned them for someone else to deal with? And what is wrong with those people that they would leave behind an innocent sac of polyethylene to represent their craven, callous selfishness? The imponderables draw me further into the poo bags’ world, and my art. Enjoy.
Greetings, Oblogatorians. Just a few quick notes on the sporadic and inconsistent posting schedule of late.
•I’ve been very busy with work, which is really great from a paying the bills standpoint, but kinda overwhelming.
•I’ve also been very busy getting ready to launch the Kickstarter campaign for my second ManChildATX album. I’ve been getting some great constructive feedback on my Kickstarter page, which means I need to do a little more work before I launch. I also need to have some breathing space in my work schedule around the time I launch, so I can obsessively hype it, monitor it and respond to any feedback I get from it. And breathing space in the schedule has been hard to come by. Finally, I’m also really, really nervous and scared to death about the whole thing. But my birthday is at the end of the month, and I definitely want to have it launched by then, so I can use that as a hook to guilt people into helping out. Great strategy, no?
•Lastly, thank you very, very much for reading Oblogatory. It means more to me than you could ever know.
You’ve probably heard about The Humor Code: A Global Search for What Makes Things Funny, a new book by Peter McGraw and Joel Warner. The book is the source of news stories you may have read about the 10 funniest cities in America.
I’ve always thought that analyzing humor is a silly pursuit, both literally and figuratively. If McGraw and Warner really wanted to know what makes things funny, I could’ve saved them the trouble of writing a book and making all that money. There aren’t that many things that make things funny. In fact, here’s the entire list:
Expulsions of air, (any) body orifice from
Balls, appearance of, descriptions of, getting racked in
Old Jewish women, visits to the gynecologist of
Priests, rabbis and ministers, walking into a bar of
“The other,” otherness of
Intense sexual desire, desperate, ill-considered attempts to fulfill
Stereotypes, stereotyped behavior of
Farmers, daughters of
Donkeys, dicks of
“It’s the parrot.”
Which entity just announced that it discovered an accounting error that meant it had $4 billion less than it originally reported?
A) Vladimir Putin’s interior decorator
B) Bank of America
C) My lying cousin Stevie
D) Pfizer Pharmaceuticals
What is the approximate ratio of the penalty Bank of America will likely pay for their error to the penalty they would charge you if you overdrew your checking account by $7?
B) I hate math
C) Will this be on the test?
D) Incalculably large
Where are the masked, highly-trained, Russian-speaking pro-Russian paramilitaries in eastern Ukraine most definitely NOT from?
Answer: A, B, C or D
When Vladimir Putin asserts that Russia has absolutely no designs on eastern Ukraine he means what?
A) Russia has designs on eastern Ukraine
B) Who wouldn’t want eastern Ukraine?
C) With those beautiful eastern Ukrainian women, come on?!
D) All of the above
Which news organization gave the most favorable coverage to racist/rancher/protest leader Cliven Bundy, whose main argument is that he should get to mooch off the federal government for free?
A) The Nation
B) Liberal Freeloaders Weekly
C) Government Teat Suckers Gazette
D) Fox News
The virtual silence from Fox News in reaction to rancher Bundy’s virulently racist remarks that African-Americans might be better off as cotton-picking slaves could best be compared to what?
A) A turd falling in a snow drift
B) A duck farting the Star Spangled Banner in a soundproof booth
C) Sean Hannity blowing smoke up his own ass
D) Any of the above
Speaking of racism, the most shocking thing about the tape secretly recorded by NBA owner Donald Sterling’s ex-girlfriend in which he revealed his racist attitudes was what?
A) His racist attitudes
B) His magnanimity at suggesting that the woman he was cheating on his wife with could have sex with Magic Johnson if she wanted to, so long as she didn’t post pictures of it on Instagram
C) The fact that Donald Sterling did not use the word “shvartza” one single time
D) Any of the above
It’s interesting to watch a documentary about an event I remember reading about in the news. Invariably my perceptions of the event are revealed as superficial and colored by my own biases. So it was with “Let the Fire Burn,” a 2013 documentary produced and directed by Jason Osder and now available on Netflix I.V. The film covers the city of Philadelphia’s action to evict the group MOVE, a kind of back-to-nature urban charismatic cult, from a neighborhood row house, which resulted in the deaths of everyone in the house, including innocent children, and a raging fire that destroyed over 60 neighborhood homes. Comprised entirely of found footage, Let the Fire Burn doesn’t seem to want to foist conclusions on the viewer, aside from the obvious one that bombing a home and letting it burn while you know there are children inside is a craven, immoral law enforcement tactic. This film, along with Waco: The Rules of Engagement should be compulsory viewing for anyone in government tasked with confronting a messianic cult. Rule #1: when a group is predicated on the belief that the rest of the world is against them, don’t fuel their paranoia and sense of persecution. MOVE was far from blameless, but it’s easy to believe they became much more radicalized in response to violent, heavy-handed treatment as directed by the city government and police than they would have had they been left alone.
Using Facebook data, the New York Times built this interactive map of baseball team affiliation. They give the boundaries between regional rivals cute names, like the Munson-Nixon line between Yankeeville and Red Sox Nation. The line separating my Astros from the Texas Rangers is called, predictably, the Nolan Ryan line. If things keep going the way they have been, the Rangers may just annex Astro-land and claim it as one of their minor league territories.
Dear Pathological Liar:
I am engaged to a wonderful girl. The problem is I can’t stand her mother. My future mother-in-law is loud, rude, opinionated and ignorant. My fiancé, however, thinks her mother can do no wrong. I’m worried that my true feelings might show and destroy our relationship. What can I do?
What can you do? Hmm, not much, but for starters I’d suggest you stop whining and suck it up. Do you think I was thrilled by the prospect of having Beyoncé’s battleaxe of a mom for a mother-in-law? Hell, no. But when a woman loves you, you deal with it. Fortunately, my affair with one of the Kardashians—I forget which one—broke up my engagement to Bey before I was committed for reals. But things usually work out for the best, don’t they? I mean, now that I’m married to Bristol Palin, I have the fringe benefit of a cougar-in-law, if you know what I mean. So it’s all good.
Hope that helps.
Dear Pathological Liar:
I’m applying for a job that I really, really want. It would truly be my dream job. The problem is, I have a good friend who I know wants the job, too. But she’s already applied and been rejected. With my qualifications, I’m fairly certain I’ll be hired. But that would probably leave my friend crushed and jealous of me. What should I do?
This reminds me of a situation that happened to me once. Back in the ‘90s, when my dad owned Coca-Cola, there was an opening high up in the marketing department. My sister and I both really wanted the job. But since she was older, my dad gave the job to her. He made it up to me by setting me up with my own boutique agency, which I grew into a major industry player and later sold to OmniCron for $750 million. I would suggest you look into a solution like that. Hey, it worked for me!
Dear Pathological Liar:
i stoled sum candy fum the stoar en my dady says i hav to go bak en tel the man at the stoar i stoled his candys. but i dont want to. how kin i do it cuz ill be shamed.
Sally, age 5 ¼
P.S. dont say just tel my dady i went to the stoar wifout rilly i go. dady says he wil go wif me.
Well, I thought there was an easy solution to this, but your postscript put the kibosh on that idea. I don’t have a clue. Serves you right for getting caught.
I thought it might be fun to share the favorite, little-known songs that are part of our individual cranial canons. I’ll go first.
The entire Ultra Wave album by Bootsy Collins is one of my faves and has been a huge influence on my musical sensibility. But this song, which just seems to come out of nowhere, still blows me away. What does it all mean? Does it matter? No. When I die, I hope there’s a party to celebrate my life, and that this is on the playlist.
Your turn. Send me YouTube links to your greatest song that most of us have never heard, and if you can, jot down a thought or two about what it means to you. Now, step off the unenjoyment line and jam on F-Encounter.
Anyone in North America may use any one of these names free of charge to start a comedy club, although an all-expenses-paid trip to the grand opening party to any venue outside the 512 area code would be a nice gesture, don’t you think?
I am seeding the list with these entries, but let’s grow this sucker. Send me your entries on Facebook or Twitter (@richie_boy, hashtag #comedyclubnames).
The Riot Room
Fitz and McGiggle’s
Ye Aulde Laff Shaque
The Hilarity Hole
The LOL Lounge at Goldblatt’s
The Brick Wall
The Bust-a-Gut Hut
Bellylaffs & Brewskis
Junior’s Say What?
Bleeper’s Blue Room
The Hoof and Cackle
Laugh Palace and Bingo Hall
Zoloft’s House of Happy
Drink and Droll
Texas Chuckle Depository
Make With the Funny
Heckle and Chide’s
The Laugh Sac
2 Laugh Minimum
Brick Wall Comedy Factory Ltd.
Mel Brooks’ Beanery
The Irony Board
The ROFL Iron
The Hootnaney Shack
Guffaw Pavilion Suites & Eatery
The Ha Ha Hut
The Tee Hee Hideout
A Laugh Garden (All you can eat breadsticks)
Ribitty McTickle’s Silly Pad
The New York Times goes long and multimedia about the rape case that implicated Heisman Trophy candidate and eventual winner Jameis Winston, of Florida State University. To say that the Tallahassee police botched the investigation is to imply that they made a serious effort at pursuing it at all, and the article is persuasive that they didn’t, despite a plethora of strong leads. But it’s not like no one was punished: Winston’s roommate was censured by FSU for filming the encounter on his cellphone. And the victim, who obviously suffered physical and emotional trauma from the incident itself, was hatefully vilified in the campus community when her accusations were finally made public a month before the Heisman was to be awarded, which was 11 months after she’d reported the incident. If you want to read something that’ll make your blood boil, this is a good bet.
Dear people who knead People (Magazine):
Please bear with me. It’s been awhile since I’ve written and I have a lot of pent up thoughts and feelings. Also, in kind of a new thing for me, this letter will cover two topics, so you may want to break it up and run it as two separate letters. You can use a fake name on one or both of them, so it doesn’t look like I am the only one writing to you, even if that may be true.
OK, topico numero uno: You’ve got Princess Kate DANDLING on the cover. Question: When is it appropriate to show a princess dandling? Answer: Never! I don’t want to see a princess dandling, and I’m pretty sure the rest of America doesn’t want to see it either. It’s disgusting! Ix-nay on the incess-pray andling-day!
I am pleased that Kate has a new nanny though. Thank God!
Topico numero two-o: Yes, we know Mickey Rooney was a horndog! His “many legendary loves?!” Who are you kidding? We know what you are getting at here with your sneaky coded language. You’re implying that just because Mickey was shortish and banged a lot of broads, that makes him a wee oversexed freak. So I suppose William Powell was just fulfilling his height-determined erotic destiny by plowing the fertile fields of Hollywood’s starlet farms? Listen, I have it on good authority that Mickey Rooney was a gentleman, not some love-’em-and-leave-’em roué. He made sure his ladies were satisfied—all the way satisified, if you know what I’m saying—which is more than you can say for Glenn Ford!
M. Ravid Lichlard
PS. If you think my nanny comment warrants it, you can break this into three letters instead of just two.
What I said
…and what I wish I’d said
“Uhn! No fair!”
“What you posit smacks of inequity, you disingenuous churl.”
“Oh, yeah?! Well, but what about, um… ah… you know, that… that one time?”
“You act as if your position has always been consistent. In point of fact, it has not been, which I will illustrate now by recounting in detail an incident from our common experience. (Detailed narrative of incident goes here.)”
“Oh, you… you… big… poopy-head!”
“I find your manner, behavior, language and very being comparable to an excrescence of night soil from the sick ward.”
“That’s not what I meant! What I meant was… not that!”
“Sir, I know very well my meaning on that occasion. And you know very well my meaning on that occasion. And, at present, one of us is misrepresenting what my meaning was, and I aver that it is not me who is so doing.”
“OK. I’m sorry. I was wrong.”
“Had I my wits about me, my rhetoric would render me victorious in our verbal set-to, leaving you as helpless as a filet of poached salmon at a ladies tea. But as I’ve let my emotions get the better of me, leaving my powers of argument temporarily compromised, I’ve decided to declare victory while ceding the field.”
“I hope you’ll forgive me.”
My old friend Spot just reissued the first and only Kamikaze Refrigerators record on CD Baby. Spot is a fine musician, writer and photographer, but back in the day, he was largely known for being a record producer for punk and indie legends such as Black Flag, the Minutemen, the Meat Puppets and on and on and on. In the early 80s, he came to town to produce Austin’s Big Boys, then (and still) one of the greatest acts to come out of Austin. The band I played (drums) in, Kamikaze Refrigerators, had more or less survived to that point on the strength of the imprimatur of the Big Boys’ Chris Gates and Tim Kerr. At their urging, we scraped together our band savings (about $400) to record with Spot while he was still in town working on their record. We recorded eight songs, probably because that’s all we could afford. Then we broke up.
A few years later, when Spot relocated from California to Austin (where he lived until just a couple of years ago), he started a couple of small record labels, one for his own music, and one for other acts he liked. His choice for the first release on the latter was the Kamikaze Refrigerators tracks which had been a-molderin’ on his shelf.
Knowing the limited potential of a debut record from a defunct band that few had ever known about to begin with, I tried to talk Spot out of spending the money to release the record. To no avail. So I got my friend Frank Kozik to do the album cover art, which is apropos of nothing, except that it’s a cool cover, and Kozik is now a very successful artist, whose molded collectibles sell out in pre-order.
So, it’s funny how everything comes around and becomes nostalgic. People still occasionally tell me how much they liked the Kamikaze Refrigerators, although at the time we couldn’t draw a crowd to save our lives. But it was my first band, and I loved what we did, and umpteen bands later, I consider myself lucky to have had the experience.
Here’s a video Spot put up with the album’s first track, which was the first song we worked on and done in a single take! Again, the album is available on CD Baby and should be in the iTunes store soon. Buy, buy, buy!
Chuck Klosterman is The Ethicist for the NYT. I am the Monday Morning Ethicist.
Yesterday’s second question for Chuck: I often hear people talking about how they want to own one of the bigger cars on the road for safety reasons. This has always struck me as kind of terrible. They want to be in the bigger car so that, if they get in an accident, they will be ones doing the smashing rather than being smashed? Is that unethical?
Chuck said (in so many words): No, because that’d mean the ethical alternative would be to drive a smaller car in which you’d take the brunt of the damage.
I say: Yes, it is unethical. This is just another lame rationale people use to justify buying huge SUVs. And what do people, at least in my part of the world, want to do with their SUVs? They want to drive like selfish assholes, using their vehicles’ sheer bulk for intimidation purposes. This is best exhibited in the behavior of the sad excuse for a human being whom I call the Motherfucking Lane Closing Line Jumper (MLCLJ).
The MLCLJ sees a long line of cars in one lane, and a clear lane in front of him, where far ahead a road crew has blocked off the road, forcing everyone to merge. Most people see the blocked lane and start merging immediately, lining up to take their turn squeezing through the traffic bottleneck. But not MLCLJs, who are invariably driving a Toyota Land Crusher, a Ford Exclusion, a Chevrolet Suburb, or the like. Oh, no. They see the drivers who merge promptly as so many naive suckers waiting to be taken advantage of. They floor it down the blocked off lane right up to the choke point, passing dozens of queued up drivers on their way, and then using their large land mass-sized vehichles to barge their way in to the front of the line, daring anyone with a smaller car to stop them.
I hate them. With a serious, serious passion.
And so my next car will be a big car, but not for safety reasons. My next car will be a rolling justice machine. It will be a mid-’70s leviathan, like maybe a ‘74 Olds 98. And it will have reinforced steel bars bolted on everywhere to the exterior. And I am going to drive around town searching for road construction sites where drivers are forced to merge into one lane, and I am going to lay in wait for the MLCLJs, and when they try to jump the line in front of all us ethical drivers, I am going to “accidentally” veer into their lanes. I figure I’ll be doing them a service by helping them test whether driving “one of the bigger cars on the road” is safer. Or not.
Both of my dedicated readers may remember this from back in ought-one-one. It still sits on my desk where I can see it every day.
“A thing of beauty is a joy forever.” Who said that? Keats? Yeats? One of them poetry dudes, I’m pretty sure. And was he wrong? Hell, no.
We went al fresco for this photo session, me and my little hunk of metal did. If anything, I think the natural lighting only makes it more beautiful. But then again, I’m hardly objective when it comes to this little booger.
Just look at the details in that patina! Why, if I had a daughter, I’d name her Patina. But from the way things are going, I’ll probably die childless. Maybe that’s why I feel so tender towards this thing, which, again, I believe is some kind of ferrule. And it never did nobody no harm, so far as I know.
Dang, y’all. If that doesn’t get you all choked up, I’m not sure what will.
Have any of these things ever happened to you:
- You got chapped lips and paper cuts and your feets are all swollen up and blistered?
- Your shoelace just busted?
- You open a big cut on your cheek trying to even out your sideburns?
- 60 yards of barb wire hits you right smack in the puss?
- You fall down in the mud and a wild animal runs off with your shoes?
If so, you’ve lost a champion. Eddie Lawrence, the creator of the Old Philosopher character, died recently at age 95.
I was surprised he was still living, quite frankly. The Old Philosopher has been a very durable piece of nostalgia, perhaps because it sounded dated when it was new. The entire gag consisted of Lawrence, in a pathetic, sadsack voice, reading a litany of imagined indignities that had befallen his listeners, and then suddenly, with the backing of a loud Sousa-playing brass band, exhort his listeners to, “Lift your head up high! Take a walk in the sun with that dignity and stick-to-it-iveness, and you’ll show the world, you’ll show them where to get off. You’ll never give up, never give up, never give up — that ship!” Odds are you’ve heard some variation of it somewhere, sometime.
According to Eddie Lawrence’s obit in the Times, he was pretty much able to build a career on the routine. I became familiar with the Old Philosopher as a kid because the character was often used in commercials (though often it was someone ripping off the character). As a kid, I always wondered where the hell it had come from. The woes he enumerated—like broken radiators and tweed suits for winter—sounded dated even back then. It was that weird sensation you get when you know something is playing off a cultural referent, but your only knowledge of the referent is from the things that refer to it.
Play this video to hear the original recording that launched a thousand schticks, most of them variations on the same theme. And be happy for Eddie. He made out OK in the end.