Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Personality Disorders

Around 7th grade or so, my female classmates and I started to read the teen magazines on the grocery store shelves. This was when we discovered the “personality quizzes.” Each issue usually contained a quiz with a title like “Are You A Good Friend?” or “Is He Into You?” And when you took the quiz, you were told very important (and scientifically accurate!) things about yourself. Also, there were often only two possible outcomes. So, if the quiz were called “Will He Make A Great Partner?”, then the guy in question would either be in a fairy-tale marriage with you for fifty years; or he would lock you in the basement and father seven incestuous children with you. (And he wouldn’t even give you a Peerless Boiler.) If the quiz were called “Do You Have Good Fashion Sense?”, then you were either the best-dressed girl in the school, or you made perfect strangers weep at your awful appearance. There were no in-betweens. At any rate, I’m sure that these quizzes didn’t skew any girls’ perceptions about the future.

I was hearkened back to those years when I discovered that someone had created an Imus in the Morning personality quiz. No, seriously, they did. Entitled “From Imus to Rob to Bernard to Chris to Charles to Bo,” it was spawned from that root of all evil, Myspace.

Now I shouldn’t be knocking this quiz, because it likely came from a young person, and it’s well-intended. And a personality quiz with this subject could easily be funny or cute. But this one is… kinda odd.

First off, it was not written by a native English speaker. It was instead created by a person who speaks part tween, part All Your Base Are Belong To Us, and thus reads as if it were poorly translated from the Japanese. If any teenaged American girls are reading this, take heed: it is a tragic failing of the economy when Americans lack the skills to write their own personality quizzes, and are instead forced to import them from Asia.

For example, if you are the I-Man, you get this result: “ Your are the host on the show. You like to spend most of your time by help kids, and is nice and kind to everyone!” He must feel honored.

There are lots of other quizzes available on the website, like “Are You A Good Person?” or “Are U Ready To Have Kids?” So try to sort out your other burning life questions while you visit there, and when I get back, I hope that everyone will have solved all of their major life crises. Meanwhile, I will be out of town until next Sunday, and I will be spending most of my time attempting to redeem my soul after making jokes about the Austrian incest case. (Alas, I won’t be visiting Parsippany, which is where you should go in order to see “the guys that different charater.”)

And finally, in case you’re wondering, I took the quiz and I got Charles. This means that “You are the news person on the show. You take everyithing serious, and nice to people.” Wait, EVERYITHING serious? I does not!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Black Beatles Will Not Be There...We Think

Rob Bartlett will be at the Comedy Shoppe in Parsippany, New Jersey next Saturday, May 31st, at 7 PM and 9:30 PM. You can buy tickets here and find more information here. Or, you could just go to robshow.com.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Hamilton Jordan

Read this article and be wowed at all of the things he accomplished in his lifetime. I admit that I hadn't heard of him before I listened to Imus, since the Carter administration was a bit before my time. But I'm so glad to have heard his story, and I wish that his passing was more widely reported.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Most Soul-Crushing Commencement Speech Ever

It could easily be this one:

PBS journalist Gwen Ifill knows that no matter how riveting she is when she speaks at Rutgers-New Brunswick on May 21, students will probably have other things on their minds...

Even though she didn't go to the university, she feels connected to the school after getting involved in the flap over radio personality Don Imus' cutting remarks about the women's basketball team last year. Speaking out in a column and on Meet the Press got "such an amazing, unexpected outside response," Ifill said.

And it may make a compelling topic for her speech, which she hasn't written yet.


Wow. That's like five shades of heinous right there.


The saddest thing? You know that Ifill wasn't chosen for this speech because of her accomplishments, or her expertise, or her character. No, she was chosen because she was called bad names by mean people on the radio.

That said, it doesn't surprise me that the college administrators are clinging to that last bit of positive press from April 2007. The school was portrayed in a good light, so naturally they want to squeeze their fifteen minutes for as long as they can. (From my experience, most university administrators have the same moral compass as "radio executives.")

There's also another unfortunate part to Ms. Ifill's tragic tale: it likely didn't happen. I would be inclined to believe her story if it went something like, "When I heard those words come over the car radio, I pulled into a gas station and cried." But no. She claims that she heard from a friend, who heard from another friend, who said that someone had called her a cleaning lady, maybe. Oh, and it also happened two or three years ago. So, in other words, it's like the real-life version of that REO Speedwagon song.

But what bothers me the most: I heard a rumor which stated that if this remark was ever uttered, it was said in the context of a character monologue on the program. (In other words, by a General Patton or a Dr. Phil.) Obviously, when writers and actors create a satirical monologue for a character, they try to make that point in a way that the character would make it. For example, if the monologue subject was "Hillary Clinton," a Dr. Phil character might talk about the dangers of post-traumatic stress from sniper fire. The problem is that a character's beliefs don't always match those of the writer or performer. (Yes, I know that this is Comedy 101, but there are some people who will never, ever understand this.)

We all know that comedy can be a powerful force, but rarely is it considered an oppressive one. And that's what gets me the most. When colleges pick a famous speaker for commencement addresses, they often pick those who are successful, or who beat challenging odds to achieve greatness. I'm not saying that Ms. Ifill hasn't achieved anything; she certainly has many journalistic credits to her name, and she likely overcame many obstacles to get where she is today.

But in this case, she is not being honored for being a successful black woman, or for being a high-profile journalist in a difficult field. She gets a speech because she overcame the oppression of the comedy skit. These days, surviving a joke from Larry Kenney or Rob Bartlett or Charles McCord will get you a commencement address at a major university. Some performers wonder if their work affects people, and that skit - if it ever existed - certainly did. That monologue, which probably aired in 1994 at 6:15 in the morning, is now considered as powerful an obstacle as poverty or illness or social injustice. The Imus comedians should feel honored...and that's no joke.

On another note, maybe someone will mail a tape of this speech to Mr. Garbus...

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Radiothon!

If you want to donate money, click here.

If you want to look at the auction items, click here.

If you want to ensure that your money will be spent on the little sick children - as opposed to it being spent on crack and hookers - then click here.

If you want to read a well-written article about the Radiothon, then don't click here. You will want to click here instead. (I'm just checking to make sure you're reading this). Thanks to Pat for the article.

That seems pretty easy, doesn't it?

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Keeping the Faith


I had lots of exams last week. Lots of exams beget studying, which in turn begets procrastination. And, more often than not with me, procrastination begets Youtube.

And one of my favorite Youtube videos of all time is the infamous discovery of Terry Bradshaw's religious album. In case you haven't seen it, Terry spends most of his time in the video verbally abusing the I-Man and going into waaaaaay too much detail about his incontinence. Meanwhile, everyone mocks his unfortunate musical choices.

As great as the clip is, the best part by far is the gospel song itself. Now, if Terry had sung a standard hymn, it would still be a little odd - this image of the MVP quarterback singing Jesus music - yet it would be endearing. But Terry did not sing a "standard hymn."

Full confession: I consider myself a follower of "the baby Jesus," and of the adult Jesus as well. Yet this song is one of the creepiest thing that I've ever heard. It's called "Dime Store Jesus," and it's about the misadventures of a woman who, it is implied, works for an "Emperors' Club" type establishment. Check out these lyrics, reminiscent of Flannery O'Connor:

Sarah was a seeker, wanderin’ through the night
Seeking lovers in the darkness, seeking Jesus in the light
Lovers she found many, but Jesus not at all

She bought an 8-by-10 from the five and dime...and nailed Him to the wall

Sarah prays to Him each night before she goes to bed
She whispers peace and lovin’, sweet visions in her head
There’s no power in that plastic, we cannot even call
He’s an 8-by-10 from the five and dime, nailed to Sarah’s wall

Don’t you know, Dime Store Jesus and the Lord are not the same

Can’t you see, Dime Store Jesus cannot save you from the flames…




This is wrong in so many ways. So, so many.

There's the last rhyme, which is brilliant for all the wrong reasons. There's the fact that the protagonist whispers "peace and lovin"...to Jesus.

But mostly, it's the fact that she had to nail him to the wall. She couldn't "hang" him on the wall. She couldn't "place" him on the wall. She couldn't "put him on the bedside table." No, no. She had to use a verb that invoked A) the Crucifixion and B) the act of doing it in, no pun intended, "the Biblical sense."

Terry claims that this is a very popular gospel song in some congregations. I want to find these churches. ("Turn to page 436 for our opening hymn, 'Dime Store Jesus.'") They would make Reverend Wright's congregation seem normal.