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September 28, 2006

The Van Gogh-Goghs' Fantasy SNL League

I remember exactly where I was when I first heard the news that Buckwheat had been shot. I didn’t know then how it would shape my identity, that it would affect changes in me like so many of the Baby Boomers after the Kennedy assassinations, that it would actually lead me into a different path in life. All I knew then was that the show I was watching was live from New York, and it’s was on Saturday night. And it was funny.

“Saturday Night Live” showed me the viability of sketch comedy as an art form, introduced me to new actors that quickly became favorites of mine, even pushed me into this here sketch comedy group (well, we’re more of a comedy collective now, but I bet we still have a performance or two left in us). Mind you, the show can’t take all the credit (or blame, depending on which side you’re on) for my decision to pursue sketch comedy (there’s a thing called Monty Python and a thing called Spinal Tap, but that’s for another time), but it was definitely the first to make me think how great it would be to perform for a living.

This Saturday, SNL begins its 32nd season, which makes me feel very old. Do you realize that some of the current cast members could be the children of the original cast? (Well, come to think of it, it’s probably more surprising to realize that one of the current cast members (Darrell Hammond) is in his 50s and old enough to be the father of most of his fellow cast members. That’s weird. Encouraging to the aging sketch comedians out in the world, but weird nonetheless). Unfortunately, it seems all the news I’ve heard so far about the new season has been negative. Budget cuts and departures have shrunk the cast, and most everyone I’ve talked to thinks Seth Myers as head writer and Weekend Update anchor will effectively finish the job that Charles Rocket and Anthony Michael Hall and Chris Elliott started: successfully killing “Saturday Night Live.” Boy, that’s a depressing thought. Just forget it. Forget I said anything. “SNL” will still be here, it will, it must, it has to! Now excuse me while I gently rock in a corner, murmuring to myself, “Yeah, that’s the ticket!”

Okay, I’m back.

As I was contemplating the new season, I tried to make the ultimate SNL cast, using anyone that has ever performed for the show. I was having so much fun with that idea, I thought I’d get the rest of the Van Gogh-Goghs into the act. But then I wondered, “How exciting would that really be?” We’d all pick Phil Hartman and Eddie Murphy and the big power players. There may be two or three differences, but each cast would be virtually the same. So, like every other great idea I’ve had in the past three years, I readily dismissed it in favor of working on my fantasy basketball team.

At this point, I’m diving into the NBA stats, trying to decide if Chris Paul or Gilbert Arenas would be a better point guard this year, when it dawned on me: we shouldn’t just name our favorite SNL cast, we should DRAFT our fantasy SNL cast, just like my fantasy NBA league (which I won last year… I’m not braggin’, just stating a fact).

The draft would be perfect. Sure, we’d all love to have Mike Myers, but when and over which other cast members would you pick him? Which newscaster would you want behind the desk?

I emailed the other Van Gogh-Goghs the idea, and everyone else agreed that it would be a fun challenge. Just like that, the VGG Fantasy SNL League was born.

I know you see the problem with this already. We saw it, too. How do you score this? With a fantasy basketball league, you can objectively quantify the benefits and risks of the players. If you need blocked shots, you’ll look at Andrei Kirilenko and hope last year’s shooting percentages and back injuries were a fluke. If you need rebounds, and you’re trying to choose between Kevin Garnett and Dirk Nowitzki, you can see that KG grabs more boards. It’s right there in the numbers.

But how do you quantify laughter? Comedy is subjective; you know this every time you meet a Dane Cook fan (is it just me who recalls a Dane Cook who was funny but not a tool? I miss two years of pop culture and now he’s the “coolest” thing around). Is it really possible to compare Dan Aykroyd and Adam Sandler? Gilda Radner and Will Ferrell? John Belushi and Finesse Mitchell? Okay, that last one, maybe you can.

How can we figure out who wins? Well, we can’t. But you can, and we’ll get to that in the coming days.

Before we can decide who wins, though, we have to have the casts. Each team will have six men, three women and a news anchor (more on that later), and can fill the spots with anyone who was a full cast member or featured player. Once a performer has been selected, the performer cannot be selected again. Comedy bits like Mr. Bill and Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey are not eligible to be picked.

As for the news anchors, every actor who has appeared as an anchor is eligible to be selected. Also, the news anchor part of the person is separate from the actor part. For example, if Jason picks Brad Hall as the news anchor, he cannot count in sketches unless Jason also drafts Brad Hall as an actor. If T. Mike picks Chevy Chase as an actor, he can’t use Chase as his anchor unless he also picks him as the anchor. Got it? Good.

The draft is a 10-round snake draft (the order of drafting in odd-numbered rounds is reversed in even-numbered rounds; this levels the playing field in that the one drafting at the end of the first round gets to pick first in the second… trust me, it’s the best way (if you don’t trust me, that’s fine, because T. Mike doesn’t trust me, either)), with our draft order randomly chosen. That order in the first round will be:

Charles (that’s me)
T. Mike (which is probably why he doesn’t trust me about the snake draft)

We’ll begin announcing the results of the draft next week, starting with the first two rounds on Monday. Once the casts have been selected and the requisite comments made, it’s time to settle it once and for all: who has the best SNL fantasy cast?

September 18, 2006

Lobotulism Epidemic

For those of you who thought that wearing one of those Bluetooth cellphone earpieces was only good for making you look like a self-important prick, I have some very good news: it also makes you look like Lobot!

Yes, in addition to making people think you're a loon who's loudly talking to himself, you can also brighten the days of your contemporaries by reminding them of one of the most fondly overlooked characters in the Star Wars mythology.

To corroborate my theory, I'm including here a picture of a guy I saw at the airport and Mr.Lobot himself. I hope this gives Bluetooth headset users some much-needed perspective:

September 13, 2006

American Scientists Create World's 3rd-Most Humpable Meerkat


Finally bringing American meerkat-eroticism on par with the great European teams, scientists unveiled the world's third-most humpable meerkat at a well-attended press conference in the Sensual Biology Amphitheater at Caltech in Pasadena, CA.

Meerkats, long known in the animal kingdom for their remarkable lack of ability to exite sexual urges in humans, have recently been the subject of a great deal of gene-splicing and DNA recombination experiments directed at making the mammals more sexually interesting to humans. Up until this announcement, Scandinavian and English scientists have dominated the field, with Japanese teams making exciting breakthroughs. This is the first serious American entry into the field, which makes the incredibly strong showing all the more remarkable.

The Global Erotic Meerkat Ratings Board, the established multinational standard of determing sexy meerkat ratings, had previously listed the top three most humpable meerkats as ones produced by the Swedish National Meerkat Research Council, a privately-held British research society called MeerexUK, and the meerkat produced by Sony's biosexuality division in Hokkaido, Japan. The newly-announced American entry has ratings that place it third, effectively knocking the Japanese entry to fourth place.

"We couldn't be happier or more excited, both emotionally and sexually," says Dr. Malcom Towbridge, lead scientist of the Caltech project. "Making a meerkat sexually interesting at all is a grand achievement; I mean, we're not talking about panthers or dolphins here."

"What's really amazing, is just how powerful this meerkat's eroticism is," Towbridge continued, his pants now visibly tenting under the strain of his erection, which increased in size and urgency the more he discussed his group's achievement. "I mean, just look at this meerkat..."

Dr.Towbridge trailed off his speech and removed the meerkat from its locked and padded crate. The meerkat, its fur worn away in several large patches on its back, shoulders, and rump, writhed and whimpered in an exhausted, but strangely alluring manner.

"The actual traits of sexual magnetism, or 'humpability', are really quite tricky to define," continued Towbridge, stroking the meerkat while adjusting his pants, "It's really got very little to do with what we conventionally consider "beauty." This is not the same reaction we undergo when we say, look at a pretty human woman; this is something far more basic, more ingrained and sensual."

Dr. Towbridge then paused and ran his tongue up the length of the meerkat's spine.

"Of course, achieving this incredible goal makes me appreciate the work of my collegues. The British meerkat, especially. I was permitted to examine it in detail at the Global Conference (of Meerkat Sensuality) in Oslo last year. The animal possesses an incredibly sensuality of form, a remarkable, humid sexuality in its slim, silken body, permeating it's every musky...musky, damp..."

Dr. Towbridge at this point suddenly broke off speaking and began to violently dry-hump the award-winning meerkat, vigorously thrusting onto it as he held it against the podium at the amphitheater. Dr.Towbridge could not be roused for comment after this action, and the exhausted meerkat was injected with Gatorade and returned to its crate by two female lab assistants.

"We have nothing but respect for the American achievement, but, to be quite frank, they still have a long way to go before they get a meerkat as humpable as ours," says Dr.Als Jaringe, Lead Scientist of the Swedish team.

"I mean, look at this. Sweet lord, this meerkat is hot," Jaringe continued, stripping down to his underwear and pinning their world-beating meerkat under his body on a mat placed on the floor of his office, as his buttocks began to clench and unclench rhythmycally. "I mean, fuck."