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February 2009

February 28, 2009

I'm Not Funny

What I’m learning about date rape jokes is that some people really like them and some people do not. This is probably to be expected because rape, as a general topic, is not very funny. But when you add the word “date” to it, somehow it magically becomes pretty amusing (at least to me). Just like the way the word “ice” by itself isn’t funny. Add “Vanilla?” You get my point.

I was again made aware of this terrible schism only minutes ago when I posted the following Twitter update about my family ski vacation:

Done skiing for the day: sore, drunk, and exhausted. I feel like I was date raped.

Most people who responded did not seem particularly offended. But a couple did. One wrote “Wow. I thought you were for funny for a while. You’re not.” Then she added, “Rape is like killing someone and then asking them to get up and walk. To joke is to promote it.” And she included a link for a rape awareness website.

Did I feel bad? I did. Nobody likes to be told they are promoting rape. Not even rapists want to hear that. That’s why you never hear about the “bragging rapist.” It’s just not the kind of crime you brag about. Murderers have certainly been known to be boastful. Rapists? Not so much. Not sure why. I mean, it seems like if rape is your thing, you might as well own it. I’ve just never heard the sentence, “I’m the best rapist in the world.” Not even in a movie.

People just don’t make light of rape, and I suppose that’s probably for the best. But does that mean you can’t? There are definitely people out there who feel like certain topic are off-limits for comedy. Curiously nobody ever includes murder on that list. Not even mass murder. I mean, I know that I’ve certainly made more than my fair share of Holocaust jokes, and yet nobody has ever accused me of promoting the Holocaust.

 (Actually, one person did, but that’s because I was selling t-shirts that read “My grandparents were rounded up and sent by cattle car to Auschwitz, and all I got was this lousy t-shirt.” In that case, the criticism was probably deserved.)

Now that I think of it, one of my all-time favorite jokes is a rape joke. It’s a Sarah Silverman joke, and it’s such a perfectly constructed little piece of comedy:

I was raped by a doctor – which is so bittersweet for a Jewish girl.

That might be the best rape joke ever written. Because it’s also anti-Semitic. When you combine rape and Anti-Semitism in the same joke, I’m sorry, you’ve done something right. The only thing that would have made it better is if she had figured out a way to squeeze the word “nigger” in there.

My intention is never to offend people. That’s not fun. I just like to push buttons, even hot buttons. Even belly buttons. And yes, even hot belly buttons. So I apologize to that girl because I would like her to think that I am funny again. Honestly after I read her comment, I was sad, nauseous and regretful. I felt like I’d just had an abortion.

February 27, 2009

Ski Trip

I’m going skiing with my family this weekend. Skiing is one of those activities that seems like a great idea when you’re sitting indoors talking about winter fun. The crisp air, the snow, the exhilarating feeling of schussing down the slopes. But last time my wife went skiing she fell off the mountain. And that wasn’t that much fun. It’s not easy to fall off mountains because, in general, they are really big. When you are very small in relation to something very large it is very hard to fall off. Unless you are my wife. Then you figure out a way to do it.

We were skiing on the easiest trail they had. It was just a harmless little run with one small turn. The turn is where she fell off the mountain. I was skiing behind her and saw her attempt to turn, not turn, attempt to stop herself by sitting, not stop, and then go over the side of the mountain. When I saw her go over, my first thought was, “That’s pretty funny.”

It took me a few seconds to catch up to where she gone over. When I got there, I looked down and saw her hanging upside down, a fall prevented only by a bunch of trees into which she had somehow lodged her skis. Memory is an unreliable witness, but in my mind if she hadn’t gotten stuck in the trees, she would have gone over a cliff like Wily Coyote. Chances are that’s not the truth, though, because as I said, we were on a pretty small trail. Even so, we could have had a Sonny Bono incident on our hands.

So I was surprised when she suggested we endanger our children in this manner. My kids have a hard time staying upright even on a level surface devoid of ice. Strapping long fiberglass sleds onto their feet and sending them downwards doesn’t seem like the smartest idea in the world to me, but on the other hand I have never claimed to be a good parent. 

The kids are excited about it, and I have to admit that I’m looking forward to the weekend too, even though the last time I went, I actually decided to try snowboarding. Which turned out to be a big mistake. This was in Los Angeles, and I was out there auditioning for television pilots. My friend’s girlfriend and I decided to take snowboarding lessons because we had never done it before, and it seemed like fun. So we spent two days learning how to snowboard. All well and good until the middle of the second day when I fell down backwards for the five hundredth time and felt something give. Was it my wrist? It was. Was it broken? I didn’t know. All I knew was that I couldn’t move it, and after I walked back to the lodge and called Ski Patrol, I passed out.

The rest of my weekend was spent in a haze of hot chocolate and codeine. Upon returning to Los Angeles, I had the wrist examined. Yes it was broken, and the other one was probably broken too. I didn’t get x-rays on that one, though, because it’s cool to be the guy with his arm in a cast. It’s not cool to be the guy with both of his arms in casts.

I decided to ignore the pain in the other wrist because it was slightly less than in the one that was definitely broken. If it was broken, then I would walk around with a broken wrist, but I was not going to suffer the indignity of walking into a network television audition with two casts on my arms. I don’t even know if I could have gotten to the audition because I don’t think you can drive in that condition.

The lesson in all of this: skiing is really expensive and potentially fatal. The perfect family activity.

February 25, 2009

Favorite Thing Ever

This really appeals to my whorishness and gambling addiction:

BetUS Posts Odds on LeWar - the First Celebrity Twitter War

Bookmark and Share by BetUS Staff

America’s interest in the private lives of celebrities is at an all time high, and with the whole social network and blog craze, celebs are flocking to Twitter to let their followers know what they’re up to in 140 characters or less. Some stars do it to raise awareness, some to stroke their egos, but others do it for all-out bloodshed.

LeWar: the first ever “Twitter War”, is underway, and it’s the battle of the B-List! BetUS has all the odds on the war, but first let’s meet the fighters! In the red corner we have LeVar Burton, whom you may remember as Kunta Kinte from Roots¸ or Geordi La Forge on Star Trek: The Next Generation. “Boom Boom” Burton fills the role of contender in this fight, as he started out on Twitter all the way back in December ‘08.

The newcomer, in the blue corner, is actor/comedian/author Michael Ian Black. “Babyface Black” actually started LeWar with this blog post, but didn’t open a Twitter account until mid-February ’09. He’s gaining followers rapidly as he is very adept at self-publicity, no matter how humiliating it may be - you may remember last July when he threatened to actually fight fellow-author Tucker Max. Michael Ian Black is younger and hungrier than LeVar Burton, and has everything to prove.

However, Star Trek fans certainly outnumber (and probably out-crazy) fans of Black’s projects (Cancelled but hilarious sitcom Stella and MTV sketch show The State.) This will sway most of the odds in Burton’s favor, but take a look at some of our interesting side-bets as well:

First to 100,000 followers:
Levar                 -400      1/4
MIB                  +400     4/1
Neither              +300     3/1

In a war between geeks can either be declared winners?
To be declared unanimous winner of LeWar:
Neither              +100     1/1
Levar                 +150     3/2
MIB                  +250     5/2

Big Swing Vote…
First to be followed by Shaq:
Levar     -700      1/7
MIB      +400     4/1

Desperation and too much free time may cause MIB to turn to Youtube for support…but will he face a backlash for going negative early?
First to put a "Campaign Attack Ad" style video on Youtube:
MIB      -300      1/3
LeVar    +200     2/1

In times of war, we may be forced to ration back at home…
Will Twitter "fail whale" (go down) under the pressure of Lewar?
Yes      +500     5/1
No        -1000    1/10

We here at BetUS are remaining neutral on the subject, and are following both @levarburton and @michaelianblack. Don’t forget to follow @BetUS on Twitter to stay up to date on LeWar and other off-the-wall prop bets, plus sports updates and free contests!

February 24, 2009

Best Week Ever Totally Sides With Me In LeWar!

You might think that Vh1 would automatically take my side in any intergalactic conflict for the simple reason that I am their bitch. You would be right to think that. Ch-ch-ch-check it out. (FYI "Intergalactic" and "Ch-ch-ch-check it out" were Beastie Boys references.)

On the other hand, WorldofWonder.net says, "Isn't collecting the most strangers for no reason other than collecting them already so five minutes ago, even over at MySpace?" As a matter of fact, WoW, no. Collecting strangers for no reason is so TEN minutes ago, but everybody knows that trends evolve so fast in today's post-modernist uber culture that what was hip ten minutes ago is hip again.

Besides, "collecting strangers" isn't the point of LeWar. The point is blatant, mass stupidity, and by that measure I think we are succeeding admirably, both The Visored One and myself. Not only are we creating entertainment, we - all of us - are creating Twitter's first MMOG! And we're doing it old-school. With text! We are creating a retro entertainment revolution one hundred and forty characters at a time. The stakes are, of course, enormous. Soon, one of us will be declared the winner of LeWWI. But the real winner is you, internet. The real winner... is you.


                                 (Everybody wins in LeWar!)

LeWar Update

LeWar Update
04:15:11 GMT

(I’m really excited about using military time and also “GMT.” I was thinking about using Zulu Time but I don’t know if that’s a real thing. If it is, I really want to start using it.)

Those of you who thought LeWar was going to be a cakewalk were in for a letdown today. New fronts opened in England, Finland, and in the Irish town of Shaquille O’Neal. LeVar Burton is proving to be a worthy adversary. He even went so far as to go back in time, plant a sleeper agent on “The Price is Right,” outfit that person in a Reading Rainbow t-shirt and then have him win BOTH showcases. He did this just to let me know he can. Bastard.

His power is mighty indeed.

But we are strong, too. Already my soldiers have began sorting themselves into rank. Some of the popular ranks today: haberdasher-in-chief, minion, chimney sweep, and girl with big hair. No trollops yet, but I suspect those are coming. If there’s one thing Patton taught us, it’s hold your trollops in reserve. And also stand in front of a really big flag whenever you get a chance because it looks cool.

Where is LeWar heading? Towards victory, of course. Surely there are those of you who want to hear my blueprint for my eventual and inevitable conquest. I could tell you exactly how I am going to win, but I don’t want to tip my hand. The internet is filled with spies, saboteurs, turncoats, and “Reading Rainbow” fans. They are a treacherous lot. Worse, they can read.

No, I am going to have to play this one close to the vest. Of course, first I’m going to have to get a vest, but Banana Republic is having some very good sales lately so that shouldn’t be a problem.

To my army, I say this: victory will not come easily. More blood will surely be shed before we may lay down our weapons. Take heart. Our cause is righteous. Exactly what our cause is, I do not know, but I know it is righteous if for no other reason than it’s fun to say the word "Righteous!"

Nobody desires peace more than I, of course, but there will be a day for peace. But friends, that time is not now. Now is the time for LeWar!

February 23, 2009

LeWar Rages On!

Since issuing my clarion call to defeat LeVar Burton in the world’s first Twitter War, thousands have heeded my call. They come from all walks of life: butchers, bakers, candlestick makers. And of course, lots and lots of unemployed bloggers. If I’m honest, it’s 90% unemployed bloggers. Even so, we are united in one purpose: to equal or surpass LeVar Burton’s legions of Tweeter followers. The initial numbers are looking good. In the three days since launching LeWar, my follower numbers have increased 3,000%. His? Less than 10%. Even so, he still has me outmanned over 10 to 1.

I am flanked on all sides. My resources are thin. My ammunition limited to what I can type in 140 characters or less. But we will not give up. We will never surrender. We may take several snack breaks, but we will never surrender.

Already, many have earned distinction on the field of battle. There is General Poopy-Butt, who dispatched his many soldiers to the fight. There is Colonel Grabbyass, she of the grabby ass. There is Mayor McCheese, Sergeant Toast is Delicious, and so many more. Yes, I am randomly assigning ranks and childish noms de guerre to whoever asks. Because that’s how you win! With stupidity! And with lots and lots of free time.

So march on, soldiers. The battle is joined, our ranks are swelling. Soon Mr. Burton will find himself waving the white flag. To the victor go the spoils; the spoils I want? LeVar Burton’s nicotine patch impaled on a wooden spike.

Photo 164

                                      (Your proud commander)

February 21, 2009

It's LeWar!

The Visored One has responded:

LeVar Burton@michaelianblack has declared a Twitter War on me. It may be necessary to go Kunta on his ass!

I did not know that LeVar played Kunta Kinta in "Roots." Am I impressed? I am.

                         (LeVar Burton before the robot eyes.)

However, my respect for LeVar Burton only increases my bloodlust since respecting your enemy makes his ultimate vanquishing all the sweeter. Since the stakes have been raised, let me re-raise sir: if you are going to go Kunta Kinta on my ass, I am going to go Johnny Blue Jeans on yours.

I hope you enjoy the smell of pleather, sir, because you are about to get a noseful.

Furthermore, I am hereby appointing Wil Wheaton as my second-in-command. Whether he wants the assignment or not, in times of war, we do not shirk from our duty. We rise to it. If the Klingons taught us nothing else, they surely taught us that.

I'm looking for soldiers. Set phasers to kill, gentlemen, and let loose the dogs of LeWar.

It's War on LeVar

My internet guru Steve alerted me to the fact that somebody was masquerading as yours truly on Twitter. Even though the person was only linking to my blog, which I actually thought was a lovely thing to do, it wasn't me and I grew alarmed. What if he/she started Twittering inaccuracies about my life? That's my job. So I unleashed my phalanx of rabid lawyers on his/her ass, and reclaimed my Twitterhood as my own. Once I did that, I decided the only correct thing to do was to start Twittering myself. Much to my surprise, it's good, clean fun. Much to my amazement, LeVar Burton has over thirty thousand people following him. For some reason, this outraged me. LeVar Burton? C'mon!


                                         (Such bullshit)

Yes, LeVar was on "Star Trek." Yes, he hosted "Reading Rainbow." But do thirty thousand people need to know what he's up to at any and all hours? Are thirty thousand people feeling their mobile phones vibrate and thinking to themselves, "That must be LeVar."

Well if that many people follow He With the Visor, shouldn't I have at least that many people reading my every missive? Shouldn't thirty thousand people know when I am meeting with a group of former astronauts, as LeVar is doing today? I think so.

If you would like to follow me on Twitter, you can find me under "Michaelianblack."

February 19, 2009

Here Is Your Winner

His name is Justin, and here's what I can tell him about from this picture:


First of all, this is a guy who knows how to take a picture. A lot of people would have just held up the camera at arm's length and snapped a photo or maybe cropped an ex-girlfriend out of a photo he had somewhere on his computer. Not Justin. He took the time to compose a celebratory shot and then had a friend or co-worker snap the photo. And judging by the image quality, this wasn't a one-click deal. I'm guessing they took several stabs at this photo before nailing it. And nail it they did. Every detail is perfect.

Consider the setting. A cubicle. The humblest of work environments. A workspace that says, "I'm going nowhere." The low ceiling, the drab lighting, the khaki pants, the mysterious object bulging in his front pant pocket. All of it adds up to a perfectly captured image of entry-level desperation and erectile dysfunction or perhaps erectile over-function.

We also learn a lot about Justin the man. When you add up the empty water bottles, the empty bottle of sports drink, the thermos, and the blue plastic cup, we learn that Justin is a man who likes to stay hydrated. That's good! No wonder his entry was so fresh; because he himself has plenty of liquid coursing through his veins.

We know that Justin is not married because he does not wear a ring. We know he does not have a girlfriend because of the lack of photos and because of the tie he chose to wear. We know that Justin is not a man given to frivolity. How? Consider his haircut. Somebody who was into superficial nonsense would have said to the barber, "Give me a haircut where the hairline does not angle at an alarming rate across my forehead." Not Justin. He doesn't care about that stuff. Because he's an artist.

How do I know he's an artist? Because he has an artist's soul. Not only did he write the winning entry to my contest, but look at his screen saver - a luminescent fantasyland cityscape. Only somebody who does not care if anybody thinks he's gay would have that as their screen saver. And that kind of person is called an "artist." Or a shaman. But Justin doesn't look like a shaman. No friends, Justin looks like a winner.

February 18, 2009

We Have A Winner!

What a contest! What a blisteringly brilliant contest! So many delightful entries. So much tension. So much tension. So much milk? (Not so much milk.)

First of all, thank you to everybody who participated in my Million Viewer Contest. Most of you did not win. Because most of your entries were not very good. That doesn’t mean I didn’t appreciate them, just that you need to know your strengths. Some of you might be better at needlework, for example.

But there were many terrific entries. Too many to count, in fact. (When I say there were too many to count that is an exaggeration. I could have easily counted the terrific entries but chose not to because it would have been a pointless exercise.)

Here are some of my favorite, non-winning submissions:

    From Dave – I work at the Ion Mill, making millionths (Slight lisp.)

I don’t know if Dave meant to write “Iron Mill” or not, but I like it either way. Nice job, Dave. Sorry you didn’t win.

    From Charley – I need some prizes to prop up my broken sofa.

This was good. It painted a picture of poverty and disdain for my prizes. Nice work. It didn’t win.

Then there was this gem:

    Andy – I have freshly baked cookies. Think of the children, Michael.

If only this one made a little bit more sense it might have won. Unfortunately, I couldn’t quite wrap my head around why Andy couldn’t give the cookies to the children without winning the contest; in the end it raised more questions than it answered. Good try, Andy. But you lost.

    Satur9 – I’m only participating to win the old rice. I’m starving.

Also very good. Shows proper disdain for the prizes and, again, paints a picture of poverty, which I like a lot. Anything involving poverty was good. So nice job. But not nice enough, loser.

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