Sunday, January 31, 2010

BananaGram

Old friends of mine know this story, but I thought I'd set it down.

Years ago -- circa 1992, I think -- a couple friends and I were in a bar in Newark, Delaware, listening to a band that I believe was called Grinch. (If you're interested, here's their Facebook page. This story's not about them.)

Between sets, we ended up talking to this other guy in the bar, who was just starting up a local independent newspaper.There'd be comics, and band reviews, and that sort of thing. And my friends and I, writers all, were hooked. He needed writers, and we needed to get published. Win-win, right? So after regaling us with his plans for his paper, he invited us back to his place to check the thing out. We skipped the second set (sorry, Grinch!) and followed him a block or so to his apartment. Eager young writers were we.

And there, he showed us his fine publication -- an orange tabloid with a demented yellow fruit on the cover, called The Powerful Banana. Which was an odd name, but Newark's a college town. It sees odd every day.


Then we flipped the paper open and paged through it. I can honestly say, I don't recall any of the articles in the paper, if there were any. (There had to be, I guess, but they've faded from my memory. You'll see why in a moment.) I remember seeing some bar calendar advertisements, too, and later wondered if the Stone Balloon had any idea what it was paying for, and was happy with what it got. Because the main thing that caught my eye were the comics.

There were three comics strips, and only one had a punchline. And I have to admit that I remember it to this day. I don't think that's a testament to the humor (it couldn't be), but simply my brain's recognition that there are some elements of shock it wants to remember forever, as a defense mechanism against similar situations in the future.

The strip with the punchline was called "The Gassy Guru." This featured a lotus-sitting guru held aloft by his own farts, who eventually pees on one of his followers, saying "urine lightened!"

Ha!

This was the punchline.

Of the other two comic strips, one was called "Runny & Spooge," about a cat and his hairball (I don't know which was which, but really, does it matter?), and the other one was called "The Violent Pervert," which, well... it had truth in advertising going for it, at least. It was vile. Its only saving grace that it was so crudely drawn that you couldn't really see what was going on.

And my two friends and I just deflated. This guy wanted us to write for his newspaper, and until a few moments before, we'd been absolutely giddy. And then we saw the damn thing, and it was clear to each one of us that not being published anywhere, ever, would be better than even once getting published next to "The Violent Pervert." We made some polite noises about sending him some material, maybe, someday, although things are really hectic right now, and oh, look at the time! And we hightailed it out of there as soon as we could.

Somewhere, I think I still have my copy of The Powerful Banana. It later served as a prop in a short film one of those two friends made, and became such a strange artifact that I couldn't bear to throw it away. But it's followed me through a couple moves by this point, and I'm not entirely sure where in the house it is. Which is probably for the best.

Still, for some reason the other day, I was curious about The Powerful Banana, and decided to look it up online, just in case any vestige of this pre-Internet publication survived online. As far as I can tell, it hasn't. But the name lives on! A Japanese band has been playing under that name since 2001, from what I can find out. You can hear some of their music on their myspace page.

The Powerful Banana is dead. Long live the Powerful Banana.

Rob
(photo from Blobby's Blog.)

Friday, January 22, 2010

At least it wasn't a cricket.

This morning I was on the train, trying to concentrate on a little editing, when I heard a little voice.

"Rob? Rob?"

It was saying other stuff, too, but I couldn't make it out. But I heard my name, clear as day.

I'd just gotten off the phone with Kathy, so I checked my cell to make sure we weren't somehow still connected, despite my having hung up and closed the phone. No dice; it wasn't my phone.

I checked my mp3 player. I've heard voices from it before, but it's never said my name. But I'd been listening to a podcast, so it would have been speech, at least.

But, nothing.

So I thought, This is how my mind finally snaps. At least I'll have someone to talk to.

And then I heard the woman in front of me talking on her cell phone. She mentioned someone named Rob, and I realized it must have been the person she was talking to that had said my name. Twice. Miles away.

So good news! I have super hearing!

Rob

Friday, January 15, 2010

Blindsided

It looks like Jay Leno was trying to defuse Jimmy Kimmel's impersonation of him the other night by inviting him on the show for a 10 at 10 interview. Kimmel played along for a couple of questions -- enough for Jay to get comfortable -- and then just dismantled him. Whatever home field advantage Jay had as the interviewer just evaporated... but because of the format, he just doggedly kept going through question 10.

Wow.



Rob

Thursday, January 14, 2010

"Hey! There's that guy from that Daily Show segment!"

I'm sure that's the greeting I'd hear on the streets, if I ever were to leave the house. Because among all the supporters and protesters at last Thursday's vote, there was also Wyatt Cenac, a correspondent for The Daily Show. And in between the interviews where Cenac gives the protesters enough rope to hang themselves, there's a shot of me and my friends Sharon and Andrew, standing in line waiting to get into the State House. Our appearance is at 3:18 in the vid: Sharon and Andrew are on the right side of the screen, holding up their signs for the camera. I'm next to them, in the tan coat and black hat, oblivious.






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As aired on standard TVs, Andrew was cut out of the shot. He was an HD bonus, most likely because he can only be truly appreciated in hi-def.

Rob

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Oh, Hell, Just Call It a Post with a Lost Link and Leave It At That*

Alan Sepinwall has liveblogged the TV press tour's Lost panel. Some of the highlights (major spolier for the season 5 finale, minor teasers for the final season):

  • Terry O'Quinn didn't realize he wasn't playing Locke anymore until he got to the point where we found out ourselves. (Highlight over the space for the season 5 spoiler.)
  • They're relieved that Obama's State of the Union address has moved from the day of the Lost season premiere. Lindelof: Lindelof: "What's amazing is how fickle your political affiliation... I'm a lifelong Democrat, but when I heard they were considering February 2, I was like, 'That motherf--ker!'"
  •  Michael will be back... as will Libby.

Rob
*I'd been thinking of stealing a lyric from Elton John's "Island Girl" for the title to this post...until I looked up the lyrics to Island Girl. No wonder I haven't heard that song in 20-odd years!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Alma

A great little animated short film from Rodrigo Blaas. If you want to do it justice, click onto Vimeo's site and watch it on full screen in HD. 


Alma from Rodrigo Blaas on Vimeo.

Rob

Draft... from BEYOND!

There is a cold, cold, COLD spot in our house, right at the foot of the stairs, in front of the wall-mounted air conditioner.

I can only conclude this means our house is haunted... probably by someone that the air conditioner killed.

Rob

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Prune of the Future!

Courtesy of Stan Freberg and Ray Bradbury.



Rob

Friday, January 08, 2010

Forgery

When we were in Trenton yesterday, there was a preacher from Philadelphia who was brandishing a handwritten sign that said "No Gay Marriage. -- God"

I'm no handwriting analyst, but I'm willing to bet that it was written in the preacher's own handwriting, not God's. If it were so important to God to stop equal marriage, he'd pick up a friggin' sharpie Himself, y'think?

Nice forgery, dude. Next time, sign it "Epstein's Mother."


Rob

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Today in Trenton

Never have I heard a "Hallelujah" sound so ugly.

We were in the overflow room of the NJ State Senate in Trenton, waiting for the vote on the marriage equality act, which would have given same-sex couples the right to marry. We'd listened to a number of speeches about the bill, some of them excellent. We'd spent the morning in the cold, holding up signs and singing. The afternoon we spent tracking one particular senator in the hope that she could be persuaded to have the courage and foresight to buck her party affiliation and vote yes (like her colleague, Bill Baroni). And then, there we were, listening to speech after speech, explaining why the senators were voting for the bill (Baroni gave an excellent one, as did Senators Ray Lesniak, Nia Gill, M. Teresa Ruiz, and my senator Barbara Buono) or against it (these speeches were uniformly wrongheaded, but the standout was Sean Kean's craven "I love the gays, everyone should have some in their neighborhoods because they really spruce them up, but I won't let them marry, and stop calling me a bigot or afraid of a primary challenge" speech, that at times had the coherence of a reading of a Scrabble board.).

As the senators for equality spoke, there were regular explosions of applause... but short bursts, as the crowd wanted to hear what was said next. There were more frequent -- and much smaller -- bursts of applause for the anti-equality Senators, from an enthusiastic contingent on the other side of the room from us. (Applauding more often wasn't a problem; there weren't enough of them to drown out the speeches they liked.)

Then came the vote. I'd been expecting a voice vote, like the white-knuckle experience I'd had watching CNN at 1 in the morning a few weeks ago to see the U.S. Senate pass healthcare reform. Instead, the vote was represented in scoreboard form. 14 to 19 in favor of the antis... and then a 20th vote against. The equality bill was defeated.

And then, upon hearing it declared that her fellow citizens would not be allowed to marry the people they love, some woman across the room shouted, "Hallelujah."

I can picture her, years from now, looking back with regret on her joy at this moment. Sitting with her grandchildren, all of whom have grown up knowing married, same-sex couples and their children. Kids who have grown up with marriage equality as the fact that it soon will be, no matter the cowardice of the senators who abstained, no matter the calculations of those who weighed their own political careers against securing rights for their fellow citizens. All of that will have faded into the past, and women and men will have long been free to marry each other, and the world will have kept turning. Change will have come, and brought countless couples into each other's arms.

And she'll think of this day, way back in 2010, when she was foolish enough to praise God for standing in the way of love.

Rob

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Why I Am Going to Trenton Tomorrow

Over at Center of NJ Life, Sharon writes why she is going to Trenton tomorrow. Geoff at Gay in Public eloquently, and regularly, expresses why he is going to Trenton tomorrow.

The nuts and bolts of it is here: The NJ State Senate is voting on marriage equality tomorrow, and we're going to show our numbers and to speak to legislators before the vote, to urge them to vote for an equal right to marriage.

And I've been thinking of saying why I'm going to Trenton tomorrow, but I can't narrow it down to one reason. So here's a handful of them. It'll probably come as no surprise that a few of them are selfish.

1. I like weddings, and I don't want to wait until my nieces and nephews and my friends' kids are grown to go to more of them. But most of my straight friends are already married.

2. I don't like exclusive, segregated clubs. And as a spouse, I belong to one: The Married People of America. It's not a club I'm willing to quit, so it's on me to help open the doors for everyone. (Luckily, they've already started opening, and momentum is on our side.)

3. I want to see my friends happy, and treated equally under the law.

4. I want to see people I don't even know happy, and treated equally under the law.

5. I want to see my enemies miserable, and treated equally under the law.

6. I'm an American, and believe that each of us was created equal. Any law, any regulation, and any tradition that doesn't recognize that equality is unacceptable. We can do better.

And tomorrow, we will.

See you in Trenton.

Rob