Yearly Archives: 2016

NATIONAL LAMPOON: An Oral History of Space Jam

It’s the 20th anniversary of cinema’s greatest work about Looney Tunes vs. space monsters starring Michael Jordan, a hot mess that should by no means work, considering it’s the same era that gave us Extreme Toonz. But did! To that end, here’s my PA’s-eye-view of how the film got made over at National Lampoon. Friends, I give you Space Jam: behind the scenes.

Also, the Merrie Melodies era was superior. You know it, I know it.

UPDATE! National Lampoon got overhauled again, so here’s the piece:


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 — whom I shall now, for SEO purposes say was HP Lovecraft’s 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. It’s always a weird question about when the art is so good you can make time for it even when you’re horrified by the artist’s beliefs. Anyway, here’s a thing I pitched to McSweeney’s about — by all accounts — a nice woman whose husband constantly said anti-Semitic dreck as if he wasn’t married to a Jewish woman. (Tip: you shouldn’t be saying those things anyway, HP!) People: they’re complex! And also very simple, in some of the wrong ways. She tried to raise his consciousness, but he wouldn’t have it.

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


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:


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.