Box Office Poison

“Death is a funny thing. Not funny haha, like a Woody Allen movie, but funny strange, like a Woody Allen marriage.”
― Norm Macdonald, Based on a True Story

Funerary Figure (tau-tau) Dallas Museum of Art Dallas, Texas

I saw today that Norm Macdonald passed away. I usually don’t go all social media when a famous person dies. Especially since I don’t know the person personally – their death won’t really affect me at all. Their artistic output is still there. Now there are some exceptions – I still think about the music that Stevie Ray Vaughn would have produced….

At any rate, I have always been a fan of Norm Macdonald. He had that combination of unique dry odd humor and political incorrectness that is rare today. He will be missed.

I suppose everyone has their Crackerjack YouTube moments they can come back to when feeling a little blue. One of mine – one of my very favorites – was a Norm Macdonald guest stint on Conan with Courtney Thorne-Smith. I saw that Conan re-uploaded a good quality version onto YouTube today, in honor of Norm… and that made me happy.

I know you’ve probably seen it before – but if you haven’t here it is. Be sure and watch ’til the end – one of the best lines ever… I still wonder if it was really impromptu (never say to someone like Norm Macdonald “Do something with that, you freak,”) – I like to think it is.

Short Story day 7 – Sea Oak

7. – Sea Oak
George Saunders

This is day seven of my Month of Short Stories – a story a day for June.

George Saunders is a writer that I’ve heard a lot of good things about, but have never been able to sit down and read yet. Mary Karr, in Time Magazine (in its 2013 list of the 100 most influential people) says, “For more than a decade, George Saunders has been the best short-story writer in English — not “one of,” not “arguably,” but the Best.”

Well, that certainly sounds like a recommendation.

In particular, I had wanted to read his collection, Pastoralia, and am not sure why I hadn’t. Therefore, I was happy to find today’s short story, Sea Oak, – one of the selections from Pastoralia – online, served up on a glowing, rectangular platter courtesy of the Barcelona Review.


I’m going to have to read more by George Saunders – I am not yet convinced – though I feel there is some greatness here.

I should like this more than I did. It’s amazingly well written, extremely imaginative, and exquisitely crude. The problem is that he has set himself up as a satirist of our modern world – and to satire reality television, rampant consumerism, spreading idiocracy, and the general breakdown of society into a foam of ridiculousness… well, welcome to my life. That stuff is sort of self-satirizing.

To make something like this worth your while, even as funny, sad, and well-written as it is – you have to care about the characters. At least one of them. Sea Oak… well, I almost cared, but every time I began to think about these as real people, the author would throw in another witty flourish, push the freakiness up one notch, turn everything up to eleven. I don’t mean that in a bad way, really… but it left me a little cold.

Maybe I was too tired when I was reading. After a day fighting futilely, desperately, and hopelessly against the very subjects of his fiction – it was wearing to have it thrown right back in my face.

So maybe I’ll rest up and read some more George Saunders… I know I will and I’ll almost certainly enjoy it more. I’ll let you know.

At Sea Oak there’s no sea and no oak, just a hundred subsidized apartments and a rear view of FedEx. Min and Jade are feeding their babies while watching How My Child Died Violently. Min’s my sister. Jade’s our cousin. How My Child Died Violently is hosted by Matt Merton, a six-foot-five blond who’s always giving the parents shoulder rubs and telling them they’ve been sainted by pain. Today’s show features a ten-year-old who killed a five-year-old for refusing to join his gang. The ten-year-old strangled the five-year-old with a jump rope, filled his mouth with baseball cards, then locked himself in the bathroom and wouldn’t come out until his parents agreed to take him to FunTimeZone, where he confessed, then dove screaming into a mesh cage full of plastic balls. The audience is shrieking threats at the parents of the killer while the parents of the victim urge restraint and forgiveness to such an extent that finally the audience starts shrieking threats at them too. Then it’s a commercial.
—-Sea Oak, George Saunders

Kelsey Gunn – Wasting your time, but not very much

As I scoured the depths of YouTube for bits of amusement to stick into my one per week “lazy entry” that I call, “what I learned this week” I kept stumbling across these little jewels of odd humor done by the folks at 5 Second Films. These were only eight seconds long (the three second title sequence doesn’t count) and would cram more story, characterization, and humor into those tiny slices of time than any SNL sketch.

As I watched and collected the ones I liked, I noticed that the same actress kept showing up in my favorites. She was always referred to as “Kelsey” and it wasn’t hard to figure out that she was Kelsey Gunn.

So I have become a fan. Why? I don’t know – she is funny, of course, and has that nerd-girl pretty quality. So now I’m subscribed to her on Facebook and watch her Vimeo Channel and  follow her on Twitter and watch her 5 Second Films, and See what she’s up to on IMDB (She’s Actually Kelsey Gunn (II))

Will Kelsey Gunn ever become famous and win Oscars and stuff? Is Batman a Transvestite? Who knows?

Oh, here she is at 2:16 in  “Meter Maids” – I’m not too sure about her Southern Redneck accent (but then again, I am a cono-sewer of the type) but the “Sexy Dance” is up there.

WordPress Blogs:

5 Second Films: Wasting Your Time, But Not as Much as This Article

Forget The Lengthy Summer Blockbusters. Michael Rousselet Talks To Kevin & Bean About 5-Second Films

The Joy of 5 Second Films

5 Second Film’s “Another Spider”, w/ the 5SF debut of Juliette Lewis

5-Second Films With Patton Oswalt        –      Part Two

Favorite YouTubers

5 Second Films Compilation

5×20 Seconds of Fun

Sweet Gender Divide Bro