Sunday, June 28, 2009


Back in 2003, I was rather an angry fellow. My personal life had unceremoniously cratered, I was deeply frustrated about the cul-de-sac my creative efforts had wound up in, and I probably had a couple of really painful zits on my back that kept rubbing up against my shirt. It was in that state that, in a fit of concentrated pique, I started (and briefly maintained) a blog whose sole purpose and function was to mock and irritate a rather pompous individual who frequented one of the message boards I regularly visited. I don't look upon the effort with any particular pride - not that the guy didn't deserve a little tweaking, but I'm a little shocked at how vicious the whole thing reads today - but I will say that my contempt for the fellow did result in a rather amusing burst of creativity. See, in the first entry on said blog (wherein the "author" pretentiously detailed his myriad "achievements"), I linked the phrase "my award-winning book" to a two-page site I hashed together in about half an hour, utilizing some rudimentary Dreamweaver skills, and posted online via GeoCities. The only reason I'm posting its content here is that, with the imminent death of Yahoo!'s free-website-hosting project, it'll soon be gone and I don't want to deprive myself or my fans (for which, read also "myself") of the few chuckles I was able to whip up in the twenty minutes or so it took me to come up with it (and, unlike the blog - which you'll notice I'm not linking to - it's not more mean than funny). Plus, it's content, and that fools me yet again into thinking that I'm keeping this blog a vibrant and ongoing proposition and that I'm not leagues more pathetic than anybody I've ever sneered at. (And I realize now that the Ventures did record a few songs with vocals, so that kind of ruins one of the jokes below, but fuggit.)

"Randomly Handing Out Statuettes Since 1997."

page 1:

Winners of the Maxwell H. Zendorkingham Award for Basic Competency in the Field of Music and/or Media Journalism, Book Division

572. Farley Juxt, Jr., The Gene Rayburn Story, Part 3: Young, Gifted and _______

573. Paul Dvorak, Jim Nabors - He's Dead, Right?

574. Nick Harcourt, New Mexico is Now! - The Taos Free Jazz Scene

575. Dicks Mole, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Etc.: An Inquiry into Values As Seen Through the Ears of a Modern American Genius "Rock Critic" Reflecting on His Times As Only He Can

576. Bat Narwhal, ed., How to Tackle the TV Guide Crossword Puzzle in Under Six Days!

577. Damon Errantstain, Heterosexuals in Hollywood: I Found One!

588. Pete Maws, Sherman, Goldsboro, Gentry: The Great Bobbies of Early 70s Rock

589. Georgio Pillock, The Ventures: The Annotated Lyrics

590. Moloch O'Herlihy, The Complete Guide to Pro-Life Death Metal

591. Gabriel Melgar, Jr., I'm With the Parking Attendant: True Stories of Clueless Groupiedom

592. Anne Hedonya, Helvetica: Font of the Damned

593. Jojo Krumbumb, Here's Your Friggin' Book, Mr. Publisher. Happy Now?

page 2:

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Maxwell H. Zendorkingham Award?

The Maxwell H. Zendorkingham Award was established in 1995 by Maxwell H. Zendorkingham, a philanthropist and Swiss cheese plugger in order to pay tribute to the hard-working men and women around the world who harvest parsley to garnish the dishes of restaurant patrons worldwide. Unfortunately, due to a clerical error (carried out by a clumsy priest who dabbled in inventory management), the expected shipment of 30 award statuettes accidentally turned out to be 30,000. Happily, owing to his generosity of spirit and The Award Hut's iron-clad "No Returns" policy, Zendorkingham decided to expand the award to honor notables in many different walks of life.

Such as?

Excellence in Millipede Neutering, Aptitude in Skipping Yet Somehow Not Coming Off Gay, Best Individuals Named Doug Shaftesbury in or Around Fort Wayne, Indiana, Most Cheerful Rental Car Agent, Basic Competency in the Field of Music and/or Media Journalism (Book Division), Least Whiny Female Yodeler, Individual Most Inured to Being "The Ugly One" in a Boy Band, Outstanding Achievement in Gyno-Ventriloquism, and Basic Competency in the Field of Music and/or Media Journalism (Handbill/Post-It Note Division).

How does one qualify for a Maxwell H. Zendorkingham Award?

Through a lengthy and torturous nomination/ratification process, including the testimony of at least five non-relatives as to your skill in the relevant category, your non-Jewishness, and your ability to uphold the level of excellence and the attendant responsibilities of your specific craft for four to six years after receiving the award. Or you can send $3.95 and two Proofs of Purchase from a box of Wheat Chex to Free Awards Thing, PO Box 5868, Skirmish Lake, MI (zip code withheld by request).

Are you standing on my foot?

Oh, is that your foot? Terribly sorry. Here, have a Maxwell H. Zendorkingham Award.

Why does the Maxwell H. Zendorkingham Award look exactly the same as the Peter N. Khakky Award for Ability to Make Exact Change From a Fifty?

It's not. Tommy soldered on a rosette or something. It's there. Unless it fell off.

Monday, June 22, 2009


A couple of links and an embed or two while I crack my knuckles and attempt to resume regular narrowcasting:

Jonathan Franzen reads and discusses two classic "casuals" from the New Yorker archives, "Love Trouble is My Business" by Veronica Geng and "Coyote v. Acme" by Ian Frazier here, a podcast that makes me feel anew as if my limp efforts in their respective directions are like trying to read Proust while strapped to a rocket sled with the corpse of Mr. Reagan harnessed to my back like a proto-neo-conservative parachute.

ABC is presently engaged in an odd variation on the time-honored tradition of Summer Burn-Off Theater, in which the low-rated show whose unaired episodes they're filling the dead, dancing-and/or-dating-show-deprived weeks of June, July and August with hasn't been cancelled yet. The show in question is Better Off Ted, which I watched for the first time today via's new and evidently improved online viewer. And once past the groansome show title, the omnipresent wacky-sitcom music-cues (the hey-morons!-this-is-where-you're-supposed-to-laugh imposition that has increasingly replaced the laugh track for single-camera network sitcoms) and my ambivalence towards its titular hero (who has grown on me already over the course of the three episodes I've seen so far, but I have to ask in light of both this and How I Met Your Mother, what is it with sitcoms with stellar supporting casts and bland-unto-irritating protagonists named Ted?), it turns out to be pretty damned hilarious in the vein of Victor Fresco's previous TV excursion, Andy Richter Controls the Universe. So I encourage you to throw your support behind BOT before it goes the way of that other worthy effort, and once you've exhausted your laughter, you can use the beta player to mourn the passing of the smug comedy geek's shorthand for lame, soulless laugh-hackery. But dry your eyes, fellow yuk-snobs; we'll always have Dane Cook.

The following is very low-quality and not otherwise particularly substantive, but kinda interesting-unto-surreal all the same: watch, if you dare, as one-half of Monty Python (and their female foil, Carol Cleveland) shares a stage (and, in one case, a lap) with one of the oddest assortments of mid-seventies celebrities you're ever likely to see, from a 1976 installment of The Mike Douglas Show. (Full disclosure: this posting is mainly here to win the coveted title of Most Blog Posts Featuring Bizarre Talk Show Appearances by David Soul, sponsored by Which One Was Starsky Again? magazine.)

They don't make talk shows like that anymore, I'll tell you what. In fact, I'm increasingly convinced that they shouldn't make talk shows at all anymore, at least not the bits where the host actually talks to people. Other than the occasions when David Letterman has a guest that either interests, irritates or slightly frightens him, what passes for conversation on these shows is mostly just so much canned airtime. Oh, you get some decent, ephemeral amusement with reasonable frequency, but man, what I'd give for one of these guys to engage their guests for real, get into scraps or scuffles that can't be explained away as publicity stunts, rip the skins off at least some of their guests and let us take a good, hard look at the machinery underneath. Or just get them the hell out of their comfort zones, publicists and pre-interviews be damned. How much more interesting would, I dunno, Shia LeBoeuf be if he were questioned about his personal traumas while being waterboarded? Yeah, you're right, probably not that much more interesting. Failing that, then, why can't we just enlist Robert Smigel's right arm and simply unleash a nightly torrent of anthropormorphized abuse on all and sundry? Don't even give the fuckers a chance to answer. Wouldn't you rather see a vulgar, cigar-chomping puppet mutt like this poking up behind a desk night after night? I know I would...

Monday, June 15, 2009


The silly brilliance (silliance, if you will) of Peter Serafinowicz and Robert Popper never fails to tickle me in those hard-to-reach places. Look Around You ranks with the first series of I'm Alan Partridge and the whole of The Day Today as one of the landmarks of recent British comedy - their combination of the meticulous and the ridiculous vaults them into the top rank of parodists (and I will stand tall in defense of LAY's unfairly maligned second series). Check it out (it's been running on [adult swim] for the last few months and it's readily available on YouTube). I bring 'em up because they've been adding to their legend online lately with their website on their brand-flagellatingly-new religion, Tarvuism (a taster for a forthcoming TV series) and the premiere radio station of the afterlife. Gut-busters both; enjoy.

And here's their "Birds of Britain" film, similar to but almost wholly different from the one from the final episode of LAY. Silly bee.

Sunday, June 14, 2009


7:30 PM - Hell is for Texans and Certain Oklahomans (1937). Ill-fated attempt to make a star out of Rex Knipper, "the Singeing Cowboy." Knipper plays George "Wild Bill" Hochfliesch, a Sheriff enlisted to clean up the lawless town of Cordwood. Keeping a promise he made to his wife on her father's deathbed, he vows to do the job without killing anybody. Instead, he shoots with undeadly accuracy and burns the ends of his enemies' eyebrows and facial hair instead, making them so crazy from the smell that they leave town. Bart Herckmann directs with his usual flair, keeping the camera pointed at whoever is speaking at the moment three out of five times. (78m, b/w)

8:50 PM - Short Film: Hollywood's Golden Goiters! (7m, b/w)

9 PM - Freak-Off! (1968). Exploitation master Rod Cowper (Deathsponge '70, Schwinn Sadists) sent Damiel Flelm (The Dampening) to San Francisco to research, write and direct the definitive cinematic exposé on the then-burgeoning "peace and love" generation. Despite being 47, slightly deaf and cursed with inadequate handwriting, Flelm delivered the goods as only he could. Wide-eyed innocent Joanie Edswiller (Gertie Whettnap) heads across country in search of her runaway sister and quickly finds herself right at the intersection of Hake and Ashburger, where she falls in with a band of pet-smoking, antacid-eating youngsters whose motto is "tune up, turn over and drop it." An ASPCA letter-writing campaign and a protracted lawsuit from Tums kept this film out of circulation for years, but it remains a worthy artifact, with strong-smelling performances from G. David Schine Jr., Huntz Hall III, and, as the charasmatic "Dr. Drug Supplier," Christine Jorgensen, not to mention its shockingly accurate depiction of the horrors of cat-smoking. The haunting theme song ("Psycho Deli [Meat Platter of the Mind]") is by the Banana Split Infinitives. (97m, color)

10:40 PM - Documentary Short: Cold Remedies of the Incans (16m, color)

11 PM - The Glorious Event (1953). Seventy different full-scale sets spanning six continents, a shooting schedule topping 36 months, a screenplay co-written by John Steinbeck, Eugene O'Neill and Evelyn Waugh, and the largest international cast assembled in motion pictures to that time came together to produce this four-hour CinemaScope epic about Len Paltrow (Eddie Bracken), inventor of the dickey. (235m, color)

2:55 AM - Profiles in Celluloid - Myrna Loy: Christ, What a Whore (35m)

3:30 AM - We're Discussing Movies Over Here with Bendix Cratt (a PDMC original). This week, Cratt discusses the art of film with director L.N. McKittrick (Flaming Chiropodists, A Gilded Cyst, Cats Have Strokes Too). As McKittrick died six years ago, he does both parts. We didn't think anything of it until afterwards. (60m; last show of the series)

Friday, June 05, 2009


(first in a series of musings too bloated for Twitter but not substantive enough for a paragraph)

The template for every biography I've read over the last few years: troubled youth/flash of genius/success/excess/alienation/alcoholism/bloating/attempted cleanup-slash-renaissance/relapse/lonely, pathetic death. Either I need to switch genres or find a better class of role models.