Find the Beautiful

If you need another reason to loathe Trump before he actually gets his pussy-grabbing mitts on the American dream, I recommend that he’s already making people regard Bush 43 as a much better president than W ever was. By proximity, folks are already starting to say “Well, Dubya may have started an unprovoked war that killed 4400 Americans and up to a million Iraqis, but he was a genuine guy doing his best,” as if he was anything like either of those and his administration didn’t openly admit to doing things much more impeachable than Watergate.

Also this bullshit.

(And yeah, I know, Obama, drones, homeland surveillance, spying on reporters. The world is not turning the way it should.)

I got some good writing out of the incessant rage of the Bush years. But those were a different class of idiot — they were fully capable of winning, just not of achieving anything. They were able to get everything they wanted no matter how much they were fought and told it was a bad idea. And then, when that proved true, they weren’t able to push their vision all the way into reality. Just into the mess they were told it would be.

The Trump administration’s not going to be like that. It’s going to be a different kind of bad. And weeeeeeiiiird. There’s no aspect of Trump that isn’t repulsive even to a lot of his voters who shrugged and pulled the lever anyway. If you get apoplectic about the mad carnival whose tent flap we all now pass through, you’ll have a stroke by the end of February. So I’m going madcap with my comedy. Satire was fun, but it needs one foot on the ground.

(By the way, wouldn’t it be great if we all refused to say Trump’s name for four years? Say “The President,” call him 45, just drive him crazy by pretending he’s not there.)

In my personal life, I’m trying a new thing of instead of assuming every errant sparrow on the sidewalk is trying to keep me from catching my train, figuring out what the most sublime aspect is of every scene in which I find myself. Just practice for a strong, sane, mind. Leaving my apartment this morning, it was the dappled sunlight on the western side of the 1 train, reflected from the apartment buildings.

First foray, pretty good. I got off the 1 and walked through the West Village to my gym. Crossing the street by a coffee cart, there was a construction worker with an empty muffin liner in both hands like Holy Communion. As I passed by him, he stepped carefully off the curb, over the bike lane, and shook the crumbs in the buffer zone where the sparrows could eat it safe from cars, bikes, and pedestrians.

I could mine a metaphor or three out of that, but I’ll just take it for what it is. Found the beautiful that morning.


Rejected McSweeney’s Pitch: H.P. Lovecraft’s Fiancée Responds to His Love Letter

The weird thing about HP Lovecraft is even when he smiled he never opened his mouth. There are photos of him laughing with his friends and wife Sonia and he’s still tight-lipped like he’s Woodrow Wilson or something.

The other weird thing is he was toxically racist. And that’s terrible. But so was Neko and her music is still beautiful. Sometimes you just have to take the art and have no time for the artist. Anyway, here’s a thing I pitched to McSweeney’s about by all accounts a nice woman whose husband said anti-Semitic stuff like he wasn’t married to a Jewish woman. People: they’re complex! And also very simple, in some of the wrong ways.

McSweeney’s passed, as they have a Lovecraft piece coming up. Oh well. Here’s my short little ditty I pitched to them in which Sonia Greene doesn’t take any guff from her soon-to-be husband, be they real or imagined ugliness

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Rejected Cracked Pitches: Two Donald Trump Pieces

Two rejected pitches from this year as you go out to vote, as they were submitted to my betters. Thought it might be neat to take a peak into the sausage-making process.

A Guide to Third-Party Candidates

I really wanted this one to fly, I’ve had the idea for years of nominating a dog to the presidency, and campaigning on messages we can all back, like “Dog Like you. Why Not Dog?” and arguing it couldn’t be any worse if we chased our collective tails for four years. At least we wouldn’t be continuing to screw up the world. Alas, ’twas not to be. Also, I think a Cena/Rock ticket would be a beautiful union of  the “Unexpected Cena” meme, this “Love Has No Labels” speech, and the Rock’s limitless likability.  It was pitched to Cracked like so:

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Cracked: ‘Frozen’ Fan Theory: Hans Is a Pawn

I had never heard of Frozen  the night I went to see it, appropriately, in a blizzard. I just wanted to try a new ramen restaurant with my lady, and we didn’t want the evening to end. So: tip — you can give Jin Ramen in Harlem a miss; it’s pedestrian. Go to Ippudo or Totto instead. If you’re that far uptown, hit up Tampopo. But as long as you’re in the neighborhood, do visit the AMC Magic Johnson Theater, which is everything a neighborhood movie theater should be.

Anyway, I enjoyed the movie very much; it’s a funny film that overturns tropes like Prince Charming, Love at First Sight, and the Wicked Queen. It ended the only way it really ought to have.

Two things stuck weird with me, though: first, it feels way more like a Broadway musical than a Disney musical. Second, Hans’s reversal comes out of nowhere. It’s kind of a neat trick, and I don’t think it requires foreshadowing, but it’s so contrary to everything he does, that it klunked with me. It’s one thing to play wholesome while crawling towards your sinister goals. It’s another to thwart those goals throughout your journey. Hans is sending mutton stew back to the kitchen and protesting “No thank you, I don’t eat that because as you can plainly see by my clothing, I am a sheep.”

Anyway, that was about that till my buddy Steve told me he had pitched a fan theory to Cracked that Hans was never the true culprit of Frozen. It having recently been approved, he invited to write it with him. I heartily accepted, as that point had stuck out at me so sorely. Also, I don’t think we as a popular culture are talking enough about the fact that Elsa has the power to create sentient life. That’s a really disturbing power for a hero to have.

I gleefully accepted, but didn’t have much to add to his very well-structured points. I noticed a few details, added some one-liners, cut and condensed, and a few rounds of collaboration and a week later we had a complete story. This was a fun one.

This way down the rabbit hole.


Whiskey in Space!

Over at Thrillist I crafted you three new articles

First, with the lovely Zofia Maria of Otto’s Shrunken Head, we devised Jose Cuervo cocktails unlike any you’ve had before (and by we, I mean 100% she did. I just nodded approvingly).

Second, I crafted you a perfect first day in five U.S. cities, which is mostly eating. So much eating.

And third and most intriguingly, I looked up all the weird stuff that distillers do to whiskey, including playing hip-hop to get that whiskey’s legs stomping. It’s illustrated by Dan Evans, who is rad.


New Thrillist: Bourbon, beer, and big-time party

Hello, did you know I’ve taken an editorial job at Thrillist? Of course you did not, because you’re not a creeper. Well, now you know. Dig it, here are a few of my latest scrawls when not editing other writers’ work:

La Hora Loca Is, By Definition, the Craziest Hour at Any Party

The 11 Best Small-Batch Bourbons, According to Experts

Is Sierra Nevada’s Beer Camp the Biggest Beer Festival in History? (Nick Leftley wrote most of this; I just ran down the beer descriptions.)

Booze and food and fun! I have the best beat. Except for whomever is covering the “Chocolate, Lingerie, and Stirring Orchestral Music” stories over at Billionaire Monthly.

 

 


Super Delegates, as Explained by Andrew J. Heaton

My buddy Heaton is a smart guy and also a funny guy, and when you put the two together, you get savvy explanations of the political process. I like Andrew because we can disagree on a number of political points and then he can explain in very real terms why he’s right and I’m wrong, which you just don’t get in most of the discourse today, which is gut-based and therefore tied to word vomit.

Anyway, here he is comically explaining what a super delegate is and whether the fix is in (it is!) to great effect even though he hates Bernie Sanders like some kind of socialist-hating communist.

If you don’t lose it at “Actually we’re going to play soccer,” I am disappointed in you.


Porn Stars Galore: The Unaired Man Cast Weekly Episodes

My last full day at CBS was spent editing our final three podcasts, which, to my knowledge, never aired. They featured four porn stars (only two of whom beat the living hell out of me with a beer flight paddle) and two very funny comedians. All three were a lot of fun to record (except for the part where I got hit). I’m especially grateful to Sean Donnelly for being so flexible when about half of everything that could go wrong did. Go laugh at his album, Manual Labor Face. He’s a hilarious human person.

I have copies of the edits but until I’m sure it’s okay with CBS to air them…enjoy these summaries.

jayden-lee-paul-schissler
Record date: 2015-12-08
Title: Would You Drink Breast Milk?
Summary: The boys sip eggnog and bourbon with porn star Jayden Lee who has some unusual questions for them…
Tags: Jayden Lee, Paul Schissler, sex, manly, manliness, men’s interest, beer, liquor, booze
Hosts: Brendan McGinley & Paul Schissler
Quotes:
“What’s your drug of choice? Don’t say love.” —MCD
“I went on a date and the guy wore Crocs.” —you have to impress Jayden
“It makes them want to go wild,” —Jayden on why you shouldn’t restrict kids too much
“Hey babe, you’re like a cow, and I love that about you.” —Paul
“I hope we’re freaks, man.” —Paul wants to get wild in marriage
“Now I’m scared that cats have human faces.” —MCD gets trippy
“You were born an old man.” —Paul

layton-benton-sean-donnelly

Record date: 2015-11-19
Title: Memoirs of a White Castle Romance
Summary: Comedian Sean Donnelly talks astrophysics & porn star Layton Benton plans to open the most profitable bar ever. Creeps need not enter.
Tags: Sean Donnelly, Layton Benton, comedy, stand-up, porn, sex, manly, manliness, men’s interest, beer, liquor, booze
Host: Brendan McGinley
Drinks: Sam Adams, Skyy cranberry
Quotes:
“Doesn’t the whipped cream get stinky under stage lights?” —MCD
“Is that your way of flirting? It’s cute.” —Layton
“I would love to do some animation voiceovers.” —Layton
“I love bad boys. I can’t stop. But sometimes I like nerds.” —Layton

alexis-tx-nikki-benz

Record date: 2015-11-16
Title: Swing for the Bleachers
Summary: Porn stars Nikki Benz & Alexis Texas hogtie and beat us after winning a staring contest, and explain what a belfie is. Wow, this episode is explicit even for us.
Tags: Nikki Benz, Alexis Texas, porn, spanking, sex, manly, manliness, men’s interest, beer, liquor, booze
Host: Brendan McGinley
Drinks: Skyy Cranberry vodka
Quotes:
“Why should we contain ourselves because other people don’t know how to act?” —Nikki
“As long as it’s taboo, people are always going to sexualize it.” —Alexis
“Being good is never good. Being bad is so much better.” —Nikki
“You just want to kill me. This is essentially a kidnapping.” — MCD
“The true psychological issues are coming out tonight.” —Nikki
“I like to scare people—well, mostly men.” —Nikki
“It’s the best job ever! But it’s still work.” — Alexis on porn
“I’ve discovered new horizons within myself that I’ll run screaming from the rest of my life.” —MCD
“I cry every 2.5 years.” –MCD


New Thrillist Piece: The Best Free* Viewing on Amazon Prime

Hey, look! New article by me at Thrillist: The Best Shows & Movies to Stream on Amazon Prime, in which I run down the broadcasts most worthy of your time, both native and immigrant to the streaming service. Is Veronica Mars on there? You’d better believe Veronica Mars is on there. And also some neat stuff you’ve probably never heard of.

Moment of honesty: I don’t have Amazon Prime, so I had to go by critical reviews on a lot of their original programming. But now I really, really want to see Mad Dogs.

 

*Assuming you paid for Amazon Prime

**Why’s that article say I do? I dunno! Why does the BBQ book solicit copy say I’ve “long been a darling of the NY BBQ scene” before such a thing even existed and has ever done so without me? Life is strange.