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Reader Mail, Part I

Reader Mail, Part I

As promised, I am publishing a few select emails/responses for public consumption.  Feel free to fling in your own query, statement, mad rambling, manifesto snippet, or what have you.


Q:  It sounds like you watch a lot of TV, my friends and I have been having this discussion and wanted your opinion.  Who do you think is the greatest supporting character in sitcom history?  We were a divided group, but came to the conclusion that Kramer, racist tendencies notwithstanding, probably takes the crown.

Terminator1985


A: “A lot of TV”?  Perhaps…there are tons of viable candidates here.  Often the lines of “supporting characters” get blurred as their popularity increases (ie ten seconds of applause when Kramer makes his first appearance).  For argument’s sake I’ll keep Kramer in this category on the basis that many of his storylines took place of camera and his apartment was rarely the center of the action.  Still doesn’t make the cut for me.

I’ll break it into two time periods, so as not to ostracize either my old-ass, or young-ass, readers:

Pre-1990 Best Sitcom Supporting Characters

1.  Ted Baxter from The Mary Tyler Moore Show (Nobody did bombastic blowhard hiding lack of self esteem better)

2.  Radar from M*A*S*H (Could bring the funny or the dramatic, as needed)

3.  Potsie from Happy Days (A total dork, until presented with a microphone.  Then he would invariably rock the house)

4.  Larry from Three’s Company (Brought Regal Beagle hipness, leisure suits to the flyover states)

5.  Squiggy from Laverne and Shirley (Always a bit overshadowed by Lenny’s strong work, but brought a vulnerable pathos to this nuanced role)


Potsie + Tux + MIC = Golden
Potsie + Tux + MIC = Golden



Post-1990 Best Sitcom Supporting Characters

1.   Barney Stinson from How I Met Your Mother (Lecherous ladies man with a soft gooey center is veering dangerously close to star of the show territory; juxtaposition of the role with NPH’s personal life makes one reevaluate the acting in Doogie Howser, M.D.)

2.  Gareth from The Office (The dimwitted but devoted (and more realistic) basis for Dwight in the U.S. version – his attempt to sing along with David at the discrimination seminar remains one of the funniest things I’ve seen)

3.  Sheneneh from Martin (Provided moral texture and adrenaline boost to an underrated program (I used to prevent people from watching Seinfeld on our group TV in the early 90’s to catch up on Martin))

4.  Dave from Flight of the Conchords (Profane, compulsive lying Indian tough guy who lives with his parents and still isn’t sure where the Chords are from)

5.  Matthew from The New Adventures of Old Christine (Updated take on the classic deadpan Nervous Nellie role, plays well with JLD)


Barney illustrating the linear relationship between hot and crazy
Barney illustrating the linear relationship between hot and crazy




Q:  I am thinking of applying to the following business schools: Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, Kellogg, Sloan, NYU, Chicago and Haas.  How do you think I should prioritize these schools, assuming I get in?

Jeff


A: Well, Jeff, first off I suggest you take out a small loan to pay for all those apps – although maybe the absurdly high application fees have dropped in the last ten years?  Anyway, I will offer you the same advice I used to give the bright-eyed B-school students choosing between Lehman, Citi and Merrill offers: pick the one where you think you are the best cultural fit.  It’s tough to do in a vacuum, but longevity at a job is going to be bases on establishing relationships with those junior and senior to you, and the business school experience is also about relationship building and (dreaded term alert!) networking, to some extent.  There’s honestly not that much difference between all these schools, they are all going to have a ridiculously diverse student body and provide roughly equivalent employment opportunities.

I went to a B-school that’s probably at the bottom part of the Top 5 (which is really a Top 12 or so) and offhand I can think of two guys who’ve made at least one eight- (and possibly nine-) figure paydays in the seven years we’ve been out (and I keep in touch with practically no one); probably every top school has similar wealth creation success stories.  They will generally all give you your shot, one way or another.  Not that monetary gain is necessarily the scoreboard of success – I consider myself a winner even though I make -$10/month, since I do all my “work” from the comfort of my underwear.

Each school does, however, have a little different personality; I will leave that to you to figure out since that stuff probably changes somewhat over time.  If forced to generalize, I’d say I personally got along best with the Wharton folks – generally analytically rigorous, fairly normal guys/girls with a boozehound side who could also hold a non-work-related conversation.  Since I think their class size is something like 15,000 it may have just been that I encountered so many of them.

Oh yeah, one other important consideration is the state of the local food courts.  You’ll want to check into that.  Ensure proximity to a Mexican place and a Teriyaki place, at a minimum.  I ate probably 75% of my B-school meals at Anna’s Taqueria.  If you have the means, I highly recommend going to school in the vicinity of one.



Q:  What’s your favorite song with spelling in it?

Skiball


A: Skiball, is that Norwegian?  You have struck a nerve here, as I’m something of a spelling aficionado.  (Those of you who have caught spelling, or, even worse, homophone errors on this site, please pipe down.)  I earned entry into our spelling bee as a third grader, an unprecedented feat that has, to this day, not been matched at Sapulpa Elementary School.  I finished third.  The next year, at a different school, I was a huge favorite.  And I got knocked out early as I cockily spelled “believe” “b-e-l-e-i-v-e.”  An “I before E” error!  It was like Federer losing in the first round at Wimbledon.  I’m still pissed about this.  Although I did mop the floor with the competition the next year – leading to the “obscurred” debacle in the citywide bee.

Anyway, I couldn’t narrow down to just one, so here are the winners of a few categories:


Best Song with Spelling That Still Holds up: “Method of Modern Love,”  Hall & Oates

If you you've forgotten how awesome these guys were, I suggest you go to a cafe in Oslo.  They are still rocking over there
If you you've forgotten how awesome these guys were, I suggest you go to a cafe in Oslo. They are still rocking over there



Best Song with Spelling of a Distress Signal That Has an Alluring Video: “SOS,” Rihanna

Worst Song with Spelling: “Hollaback Girl,” Gwen Stefani

Best Song with Spelling from the First CD I Ever Bought: “Word Up,” Cameo

Too bad the other songs - except "Candy" - pretty much sucked
Too bad the other songs - except "Candy" - pretty much sucked


Worst Song with Spelling In Ghey Musical: “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,” Mary Poppins or some shit like that

Best Song with Spelling in Ghey Musical: “Oklahoma,” Oklahoma (no shit)

Best Song with Spelling That May be an Ode to Maria Bartiromo and is Sung by Lady Gaga:  “Money Honey,” Lady Gaga

Best Song with Spelling That Also References Taco Bell and is Awesome: “Glamorous,” Fergie


For real street cred, dine in, don't drive thru
For real street cred, dine in, don't drive thru



Best Song with Spelling That Features Cinder Block Weightlifting By Future-Acclaimed-Actor-and-Underwear-Model-with-Third-Nipple in Its Music Video: “Good Vibrations,” Marky Mark & The Funky Bunch (never omit the Funky Bunch)



I’m gonna split this into a couple parts, as this is getting on the lengthy side.

Chilly17, wasted potential is real

5 TV Shows You Probably Aren’t Watching – But You Should

5 TV Shows You Probably Aren’t Watching – But You Should

One of the nice things about being an unemployed lout is that i can write about anything i want in this web log – sometimes my retarded stories, sometimes my keen observations about pop culture stuff or sports, maybe the occasional complaint about the inconsistencies of the Qdoba staff…but today i’ll fire off something so new, so unprecedented, that it’s probably only been done in about 25 million other blogs to date…brace yourself.

I’m going to discuss some shows you should be watching but probably aren’t – this is both earth-shattering and revolutionary.  I will not bother you with further requests that you watch How I Met Your Mother (Friends with more comedy, drinking and sex) given its improved ratings.  Also I will lay off The Wire (you definitely need to watch this, just get your hands on the DVDs or watch on HBO on Demand, it is like crack and i guarantee you will lose some sleep cranking out the eps) and Mad Men (like a love letter to sexual harassment, pocket squares and drinking scotch in the office at 10:00 AM) because they have been so critically lauded that if you don’t know it by now you’ll never know. 

(I’m assuming most of you have DVRs – like wine/cheese pairings, some shows work better at particular times.  Oh, editorial note: i figured out how to do the pictures better, but i’m not going back and redoing yesterday’s – this 2000 word opus took 3 hours! and isn’t that good! but i am sworn to writing something new every day – tomorrow will prob just be what i had for lunch.  burrito.  done.)

#5.  Chelsea Lately, The Soup (nee Talk Soup) – CL is on Mon-Thur at 11:00 PM on E!, TS is on Monday at 10:00 PM and i think they are re-run like 25 times per week as well

This list was originally only 4 shows long, so i cheated a bit to add these 2 shows that we religiously record – they are basically the utility players in our TV-watching routine.  They can nicely fill 15 minutes here and there or string a couple together for a little mental downtime.  Either way you’ll be catching up on some of the idiotic shit that happens in the world that you wouldn’t normally be exposed to (unless, like me, you are regularly exposed to inane reality tv (like The Hills) and frequently find Us Weekly littering your shelves).  

Both hosts are excellent – Chelsea Handler is a well-known comic who has written two popular books and likes to brag about how much she drinks and gets laid.  She’s particularly fond of black guys so about 85% of the guests so far have been rappers.  The guests are like a 45 second portion of the show – the real highlight is the roundtable, when she has 3 guest comics (warning: may include Carrot Top) go through the day’s pop culture headlines with her.  They are viscious towards the news subjects and each other – very cringeworthy.   Bonus points if you like midgets as they get a lot of play on this show.  

The Soup is what they are now calling Talk Soup – the show that spawned some pretty successful careers (John Henson, not sure what happened to you, brother, but the world hasn’t really been kind to people with random white spots in their hair.  Rasheed Wallace is the only exception that comes to mind).  They have changed up their format were they don’t just skewer talk shows – they will rip reality shows (including ones you have never/will never heard of)  and scripted series as well (although calling Grey’s Anatomy “scripted” is probably pushing it, seems just as likely to be a collection of words from the proverbial monkeys on typewriters, or maybe a simian Boggle tournament).  Host Joel Mchale is genuinely hilarious – like Chelsea Handler he gets bonus points for a deadpan approach to some of the ridiculous topics and open mockery of the E! network.

Chelsea Lately and Talk Soup are best paired with late nights (a few cocktails before viewing really opens up the shows) or can easily accompany 15 minute burrito breaks mid-afternoon. 

#4.  Breaking Bad Sundays at 10:00 PM on AMC

If you liked Bryan Cranston as the swinging Dentist on Seinfeld or the manic Dad on Malcom in the Middle, you will love him as the terminally ill crystal meth dealer on BB!  Plot: Protagonist learns he has terminal cancer.  He is a brilliant science teacher (just missed making billions on a biotech startup, too noble to take handout from his old partner who did cash in).   He has no money.  So he decides to deal some meth (with the help of a low level former student/drug dealer) to make some quick cash to set up his family before he meets his maker.  It’s basically a ripoff of Everybody Loves Raymond, but you’ll get over it.

 

they are about to cook up some drugs
sometimes tightie-whities, sometimes elaborate biohazard suits.

 

 

The show boasts great acting – Cranston is awesome, and not afraid to rock tightie-whities in about 75% of his scenes, strong (if somewhat far-fetched) writing with plenty of unforeseen twists and turns, and a fair amount of dark (very frickin dark) comedy.  Lots of people getting their asses kicked too – lending further credibility to my theory that spending time with drug dealers results in a much higher likelihood of receiving a vicious beating.  

Season 2 is just starting this week, bust out Season 1 on Netflix to catch up.  You can probably also glide straight into season 2, as the above paragraph basically has you up to speed.  Almost – i forgot that Cranston had no balls before he found out about the cancer and they are progressively growing as he gets seedier – now you’re up to speed.  This show is best watched as part of a double feature – should be the first act, with something lighter to follow (see #s 1-3 below).  Do not drink (or do meth) and watch this show, you will feel degenerate enough stone cold sober.  

#3.  Flight of the Conchords – Sundays at 10:00 PM on HBO (yeah – i noted you need a frickin DVR at the start of this, there are some conflicts)

This definitely didn’t seem like a show in my wheelhouse – two Kiwi (that means from New Zealand) folk singers struggle to make it in NYC.  Couple of musical numbers per episode.  WTF?  But FoC really make it work, and work hilariously (sample song – The Most Beautiful Girl (in the Room)).  Rapid fire, fairly acerbic humor.  Extremely strong supporting cast – one groupie, a buddy who owns a pawn shop, their manager who also works for the NZ consulate.

FoC consists of two members – Jemaine Clement (taller, dumb looking one) and Brett Mckenzie (shorter, hairier one – played an elf in Lord of the Rings!).  Their situation is pretty appropriate for the times – they are so broke that they have to share a fucking coffee cup.  They are unlucky with the ladies.  But they have pretty sweet rap alter egos (The Rhymnocerous and the Hiphop0potamus).  Murray (their hapless manager) and Dave (pawnshop owner who is profane enough to make even me blush occasionally)  are perfectly incorporated, hilarious and have exactly the amount of screen time they deserve.

foc12
the show is not this ghey, i promise

Although this looks like typical hipster fare it’s really non-ironic, in my opinion, and is one of the few unabashedly happy/optimistic shows you’ll find in a world which increasingly values angsty bullshit.  F0C is pretty good to watch any time – pair it with a glass of syrah from NZ!  Not shiraz, that shit is from australia and as the show accurately depicts, there is bloodlust between kiwis and aussies.  So give the yellowtail a break when F0C is on.  This show convinced me that i could tell the difference between NZ and Australizan accents.  I went to Australia for work last year.  i in fact could not tell the difference – you can’t really understand any of those guys down under, even though it’s allegedly the same language.

#2.  Friday Night Lights – Fridays at 9:00 PM on NBC

I’m actually going to try and not spend too much time on this one – i’m fairly certain that almost everyone has been subjected to threats of “WATCH THIS FUCKING SHOW OR I’LL PUNCH YOU IN THE FACE!” by some rabid fan.  Unfortunately the rabidity is inversely proportional to the total number of viewers – people who watch are pretty desperate to harvest more viewers so that FNL lives to see Season 4.  Seeing some of the other drivel on TV – not to harp on Grey’s Anatomy again, but fucking a ghost?  Really? – it’s shocking to me that quality programming like FNL has to sweat it out every year.

fnl1
seriously, the, like, plot and stuff is really good

FNL is essentially the story of Texas high school football coach Eric Taylor, his family and the players on his team.   The strongest aspect of the show is probably its seemingly realistic depiction of their relationship; his wife also works at the school which leads to some conflicts.  Why is this a great show?  Because there’s really something for everyone – strong show for couples to watch.  Serious eye candy abounds (for all genders and orientations).  Girls like the relationship stuff, guys dig the football stuff (every game ends with an 85 yards in-the-air hail mary pass! not really).  Superb casting and acting (bunch of no names who seem perfect for their roles).  One downside is that one of the females stars is having relations with Derek Jeter – i fucking hate the Yankees.  There is also, i’m pretty sure, an albino cast member.  Where have all the albinos gone?  There were 2 in my elementary school.   One was an african american albino girl.  that is an unfortunate genetic combination – the melanin gods work in mysterious ways.  Anyway, WATCH THIS FUCKING SHOW!

I find that FNL  is better when you have a couple three eps you can watch together.  one just isnt enough, you’ll be left wanting more.  suggest toward the end of like a thursday night – might want to drink like a Coors or Bud if you are going to imbibe – keep it consistent with what they drink on the show.  Although the mom does drink some wine…hmm… Keep it sober so you don’t miss any nuance.

#1.  America’s Best Dance Crew – Thursdays at 10:00 PM on MTV (HURRY SEASON FINALE IS THURSDAY!)

I suspect i am in danger of losing some of my hard-earned credibility here.  This seems stupid, I know.  But i defy anyone to watch an episode of this and not get into it.  Have you ever seen dance crews working for tips at like Central Park or the Met?  But they actually don’t do shit because they spend like 45 minutes building up anticipation?  Tis not the case here – these are some of the most athletic, creative groups you will ever see.  Apparently breakdancing has evolved quite a bit since the moonwalk and your standard lockin & poppin.  You have likely seen the Jabbawockeez – the breakout winners of the first season who have gone on to appear in Gatorade commercials and dance with Shaq at the NBA All Star game.  There are other groups who i believe would trounce those guys – Season 2 winners Super Crew, this seasons finalists Quest Crew (unreal) and Beat Freaks.   I am seriously going to learn how to do air flairs once i find a nice flat piece of cardboard and about 1200 more square feet.  (given that a 3 mile run has me hobbling around like Willis Reed, this may not be such a great idea.)

Music selection is generally pretty good and if you’re an old ass like me this will be one of your few chances to hear some of those newfangled songs they play on the internets.  The judges are also phenomenal – the wisdom espoused by Lil Mama (in some strange combination of English, Ebonics and i think Latin) should be preserved for future generations.  Shit i almost forgot: AC Slater is the host!  Mario Lopez really has carved out a niche for himself basically holding a microphone and reading hokey lines off of cue cards. I don’t have much more to say – check it out and if you honestly think it sucks and i’m an idiot i will give you your money back (haha – i’ve seen that joke used before in like 150 other internet columns and now i’m using it! that’s hilarious!)

ABDC best paired with a good mood and following a session with a few of your favorite cocktails.  you’d think a 40 would be appropriate for this show given the b-boy vibe, but it is actually ruled by Asians!  Who knew asians were better dancers than black people?  and white people, for that matter?  Maybe we really are growing as a society, our prejudices and predispositions falling by the wayside…except for that one about asians not being well endowed – i think that’s still accurate….maybe that explains why they are able to do insane shit like a backflip from sitting indian style (while not using hands!)…this clip won’t do it justice, but you’ll get the idea of the insane athleticism involved – the storylines and competition are also pretty compelling…seriously…