Friday, January 27, 2006

I Can Butter My Own Bagel!

My friend Dave, and his friend Marty, came up with something wonderful one year ago. Before OC parodies were all the rage, Dave and Marty decided to pen The HP. Focusing on life in the Honors Program at the University of Iowa, the five-episode dramedy dealt with such issues as self-mutilation, homophobia, academic probation, and farting. The duo even got a nice writeup in The Daily Iowan.

The first five 20-minute-or-so episodes were released in the winter and spring of 2005. Detained by busy schedules, transfer students, and just overall laziness, The HP is ready to debut its finale - the long-awaited Episode Six. After nearly a year of anxious toe-tapping, the cliffhanger will finally be resolved in what promises to be an HP of epic proportions. The creators will package the final episode in a DVD stuffed with bonus features including deleted scenes, blooper reels, actual sex videos filmed without cast members' consent, and no-doubt nonsensical commentary tracks. To tide fans over until the the DVD is ready for distribution, a trailer has recently surfaced on the Internet:

View this clip on Vimeo

When asked for comment, creator and star David Blum had to offer but one word:
Past episodes are available here.
Purchase HP merchandise here.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Mission Accomplished?

The NYPD ended the Improv Everywhere No Pants 2K6 mission today after several agents were detained at the 59th Street Subway stop on an uptown-bound 6 train. Aside from the Fake U2 Concert (which was featured on VH1's 40 Greatest Pranks) when some agents ended up having to appear in court, this is the only time police have halted an IE mission early. Lots of the media were there, so I'll update this page with more URLs as they are released. Reuters, Associated Press, an HDTV channel, Al Gore's CurrentTV, The New York Times, and others were all reported to be there and will no doubt have some sort of report on what went down.

The mission's two of many highlights for me, also posted in the comments of the mission page on the IE website:
1) Sitting crosslegged reading a magazine - pantsless of course - when a young Latino boy of only 5 or 6 years sat next to me with his parents nearby. He looked at me with disgust, but when he noticed one of the photographers taking shots of the mission, he eased up. When the photographer showed him the picture she had just taken of me and him on her camera's display screen, his smile widened. That's why Improv Everywhere exists I think - to make people smile once in a while.

2) The funniest moment for me happened as the cops began to arrive and instruct all riders than they exit the train. I whispered to Agent Kula and asked something to the effect of "Should we get off? What should we do?" Staying in character, unfazed by what was happening around him, Agent Kula responded to nobody in particular "Oh, the train's out of service? Hm, how about that."

Links are popping up all over the 'net:
AOL/AIM Today publicizes the mission - everything goes downhill from there
Improv Everywhere alerts the public of the news
Participants begin commenting with their own personal experiences of the mission on the IE website
Photos are starting to appear on the Yahoo! AP Wire (including the one above)
Agent McFarland blogs about his experiences
Gothamist gets in on the action
Newsday reports on the mission
Kate Spencer announces to the world that her friend and fellow improviser, Flynn Barrison, was one of the "detained" agents
LiveJournal user freecroissants tells her tale from start to finish
Agent Nicholson's great photoset on Flickr
The Associated Press turns in their writeup (via Yahoo! News)
The New York Times is kind enough to include a blurb in their "Metro Briefing"
Blog About Town saw this coming a mile away
But of course, the Improv Resource Center has a few things to say
MSNBC decided to run the photo I'm in along with the AP article - I think that's pretty neat
CrimProf Blog has an excellent entry on the legal side of things
The Roommate demands a television program
Gawker gawks it up
The tabloids get in on it, first The Daily News
And then The Post
Chortle, the UK comedy guide updates our friends across the pond
Fark users post their comments in response to the Newsday piece
Gothamist posts again with a slightly updated version
Ladies and gentlemen, The Apiary
Agent Purnell is late, arrives in Harlem disoriented
Agent Nicholson announces on his blog that Charlie Todd will be appearing tonight at 8:00pm on MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann to discuss the mission
Charlie confirms the MSNBC appearance, and also adds that a joke about the mission will be featured in David Letterman's monologue tonight
Dead End June does a bit of copying and pasting
If you have Japanese characters installed on your computer (and can understand them), this might be cool
Hola! Subieron desnudos a un subte y terminaron presos
From Turkey: Metroda pantolonsuz gün!
drgnflyshine's thoughts on Xanga
NYC Life in a Fish Bowl interprets the event as a cartoon with a fish! Awesome!
Letterman's Wahoo Gazette details their "Would You Like to Take a Pantsless Cab Ride?" bit
Some more photos courtesy of Agent Chigirev
Agent Kula tells all regarding radio appearances featuring various agents
Der Nederlands are flabbergasted, and blog accordingly - also something about Bob Saget
Blog About Town questions the Naked Cowboy's safety
The "yes_and" community on LiveJournal gives Improv Everywhere a nice shoutout
Agent Rainswept's photos on Flickr
The transcript of Agent Todd's appearance on MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann
Gothamist updates New York City on the hottest topic in town
Germany's Frankfurter Runschau reports on the mission, available at Gray's Papaya
Radford University knows what's up
Publiziert am 05. Februar 2006 in leisure und great shit
Jesse Thorn voices The Sound of Young America
OFFICIAL! The Improv Everywhere report on the mission is finally up, and it's got everything you need
AUDIO! David Letterman jokes about the mission in his January 23rd monologue
MORE AUDIO! NPR News Trivia Show Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me! uses ths mission in one of its questions - click on "Lighting Fill in the Blank"
VIDEO! The video clip from Countdown with Keith Olbermann on MSNBC with guest Charlie Todd
MORE VIDEO! A clip of Letterman's monologue including the two jokes about the mission
EVEN MORE VIDEO! Sean Bradley of Bethlehem, PA takes off his pants and rides in a taxi cab ride on Letterman
YET EVEN MORE VIDEO! Local news in Putnam covers the No Pants Subway Ride, and then shows that their camraderie is fantastic
WOW, STLL MORE VIDEO! The official Improv Everywhere video documenting the mission

Friday, January 20, 2006


In the DVD section of the Chelsea Best Buy on 23rd & 6th:

WOMAN: "Do you want Mr. & Mrs. Smith in lieu of your coffee?"

MAN: "Shut up."

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Something I Just Googled!

"golden blobes"

Good night, everybody!

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

City of New Haven!

Well, I found out who won that contest in a rather odd turn of events. I noticed I was getting a bunch of hits (yep, it's that sitemeter once again) from a myspace profile that belonged to a person that I wrongly assumed I knew. When I went to check it out I found a comment that read:
"im stoked to read your review and all, but i kinda wish sethcohen had won instead. i mean, c'mon. he is clearly dying a virgin and and think how epically a date with ben would have slid into that spankbank."
Yeah, thanks a lot. Really boosted my self-esteem bunches right there. A little harsh, no?

So apparently it's this girl, Eliz, who won the contest. This girl was far from the top of who I though were legit competitors for this thing. She came off as one of the dozens of other cynical fucks who mocked other fans more than instead saying why she herself should win:
"pick me because i refuse to spend the $45 or whatever the fuck it is to get in. pick me because i have a useless photojournalism degree and would take better pictures there than these 16 year olds with their new christmas-gift canon powershots. i can also use semicolons correctly, and i have an actual vocabulary, so you'll get a dandy little write-up. pick me because i've already met and hung out with ben and don't really give a fuck about doing it again but i'd like to hear what he and nick've got to say to the undoubtedly retarded questions that will spew forth from the masses."

On the bright side, I did manage to be front row, right at the stage for Ben Gibbard's solo set at Bowery Ballroom last night - a great spot for blocking out and ignoring the drunks that apparently filled a healthy portion of the crowd, besides this one girl who stood right next to me and got the wrong rhythm for "Sounds of Settling" making Ben start the song over (which actually came off as flawed and wonderful, much like his botched ending of "Why You'd Want To Live Here"), and she also kept requesting or possibly just declaring "The City of New Haven." WTF. She was cool in my book, though. She bought drinks for my friends for saving her spot before the show began.

Andrew Kenny (of American Analog Set) opened. He came off as sort of a poor man's Elliott Smith. Matthew Caws (of Nada Surf) was next, and he showed a great sense of humor, and played some fantastic upbeat songs, along with some new stuff. Ben said people must've been wondering why he was playing this show, and said that they were in town for SNL at the end of the week, and just sort of threw the show together at the last minute. He declined most requests - including mine for "We Will Become Silhouettes" and "Earth Angel" (which Death Cab covered for the Stubbs the Zombie sountrack) - and played what he wanted to play, which really made for a superb set list:
Brand New Colony
Title and Registration
You Remind Me Of Home (from the Home Volume V EP)
(This Is) The Dream Of Evan And Chan (Dntel)
Why You'd Want To Live Here
It'll Be A Breeze (Long Winters cover)
Recycled Air
Crooked Teeth
Title Track
I Hate To See You Cry (Alan "real geeky stuff" Hull cover)
Farmer Chords (from the Home Volume V EP)
Look Out Here Comes Tomorrow (Monkees/Neil Diamond cover)
The Sound Of Settling
Such Great Heights
I Will Follow You Into The Dark
A Lack Of Color
Hold On (Spiritualized cover)
Melissa hasn't sent me the photos from last night yet, but minaka's flickr has some great ones of Gibbard and Kenny. More pictures along with other accounts of the show are at Stereogum, Central Village, Brooklyn Vegan, and thegoodlife_863's LiveJournal. Looks like Central Village and Stereogum were right behind me, and minaka right next to me, or they have awesome cameras.

Here's Death Cab's cover of "Earth Angel" and them doing "Photobooth" from the live John Byrd EP:
M4A: Death Cab for Cutie - Earth Angel
M4A: Death Cab for Cutie - Photobooth

Jidiots: Part Deux
On another note, Kelsey Flynn gave me my requested call while I was out to lunch and more or less told me that there was nothing to talk about. It was a brief conversation she didn't really seem like she wanted to have. She's also blogged about it some more. Still no apology to me, though, only to Susannah and Liz, who e-mailed her after she was concerned the relationship between the Jidiots and Mission: IMPROVable might've been damaged. No pressure, Kelsey. Let's just stop keeping score, everyone. Please.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Project Beard - complete.

Project Beard - complete. 010
Originally uploaded by sgtpepperzl.
I shaved off my huge, over two-month old beard, and had a little fun in the process.

Full photoset here.


Well, I didn't win that contest. Really disappointing, too. I thought I had a pretty legitimate shot to win, and the only other person I though that had a shot (Izzy, the "tattoo girl") didn't win either. What bummed me out is that I waited around after 11:00am when the contest ended like a total nerd, because I knew the winner had to go pick up the ticket by 7:00pm. After hearing nothing, and nothing being posted on the blog until 5:00pm, I decided to comment asking what's up. Turns out, a winner had been secretly chosen and notified, and that we'll find out who it is when the report is posted after the event. Laaaame. Well at least I'm still seeing that awesome concert tomorrow.

I'm not sure if it was this contest or what, but my blog has been getting tremendous traffic lately. First off, I noticed that I was getting a bunch of hits from a blog called Hawkeye Nate. It didn't strike me as anything unusual at first, because Blogspot randomly throws users to others' blogs if you click a certain link. But I was getting more than just one or two hits from this guy, so I went over to check it out, and was pleasantly surprised to find this. Thanks, Hawkeye Nate, I think you're pretty grand too!

Unfortunately, not everyone in the blogosphere loves me these days. I also noticed I was getting a bunch of hits from this blog. I found her January 6th entry and was fucking floored by this thing. Apparently, one of the members of her improv group was Googling themselves, and they found a year-old thread on the Improv Resource Center message board. The entire thread is accessible here where I evidently criticized her improv group, Northampton's Villa Jidiots. I have no recollection of saying those things OR seeing this improv group asit must have happened so long ago. I don't even think I've seen the group, I think I had only been familiar with the name and confused them with a group from Hampshire College. Nevertheless, this woman is very offended and hurt by this incident (which, I reiterate, happened so long ago I don't even remember it). I honestly can't tell how much of her entry is in jest or if it's all genuine anger. Does she get that they were mentioned initially as a joke? I showed Susannah this thing, and she responded back to me saying she had sent an apology to this woman. Another post appeared on her blog today updating the situation and acknowledging that she had received an e-mail from Susannah, yet continues to berate me (probably because I chose not to send her an e-mail) and even asks me to "stop keeping score." Wow. I didn't send her an e-mail, because I really didn't know what to say. I don't even know how to apologize for something like this, besides explaining the situation from my point of view. I mean, I don't even remember this! Apparently, Mission: IMPROVable, the short-form group linked to IWA (the group I'm involved with), has a rapport with the Jidiots that goes back many years. It was never my intention to cause any break in that relationship. Serious blogging drama right here. Quite honestly, though, I feel like you're over-reacting just a tad. "This is war?" Please. And I promise, I'm not keeping score. I encourage the Jidiots to maintain their relationship with Mission, and not base the entire improv scene at UMass on some silly and offensive remarks I made a year ago. I have sent an e-mail to Kelsey Flynn, the author of the "Some Girl" blog, including my phone number so she can call me to discuss this whole ordeal. I just feel like this has been blown out of proportion so much, it's ridiculous.

Don't worry, Hawkeye Nate, I still think you're grand.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

The Fancymen

The Fancymen
Originally uploaded by sgtpepperzl.
Happy New Year from the Fancymen of the 19 McClellan New Year's party in Amherst, Massachusetts.

I'm going to the sold out Ben Gibbard (of Death Cab for Cutie and The Postal Service) solo show at Bowery Ballroom one week from tonight. I snagged tickets the moment I saw it announced on the Brooklyn Vegan post . Matthew Caws (of Nada Surf) and Andrew Kenny (of American Analog Set) were recently added to the bill, and this is sure to be a really fun and unique show. I'm looking forward to hearing Ben bust out some older Death Cab or even All-Time Quarterback stuff, as well as a few Postal Service songs. Cover songs will most definitely be featured as well.

Gibbard's doing this just two days after he and fellow Death Cab bandmate Nick Harmer take part in The New York Times Arts & Leisure Weekend TimesTalks series, which is completely sold out as well. Stereogum is running a contest for one fan to attend the event and report on it for their website. I've entered, and I think it would be a really fantastic and fun experience. I might be losing points, though, to the girl who has a tattoos based on of two of Death Cab's album covers. Still, I'm envisioning this almost as if it's Inside the Indie Rock Studio. Except without pretentious James Lipton.

Monday, January 02, 2006

My Top 13 Favorite Albums of 2005

Artist: Stars
Album: Set Yourself on Fire
Release Date: March 8th
Label: Arts & Crafts
Comments: A runaway choice for me. This Montreal-based band blew me away with the strongest set of the night at a Central Park concert also featuring The Decemberists and Death Cab for Cutie. Every song on this record is incredible, and although they've flown under the radar for quite a while, being featured on The OC Mix 5 might change that.
Key Track: Your Ex-Lover Is Dead

Artist: The Decemberists
Album: Picaresque
Release Date: March 22nd
Label: Kill Rock Stars
Comments: March was a good month for music. The Decemberists own the number two slot on this list, which makes them the best current American band. Their songs are less rock songs and more accurately described as short stories set to music. Colin Meloy is able to craft these fictions with seashanty melodies along with elements of humor and intellect.
Key Track: The Engine Driver

Artist: Sufjan Stevens
Album: Illinois
Release Date: July 5th
Label: Asthmatic Kitty
Comments: I've driven from New York to Chicago. So has Sufjan Stevens. He's alright by me.
Key Track: Chicago

Artist: The New Pornographers
Album: Twin Cinema
Release Date: August 23rd
Label: Matador
Comments: This record was finally released at the end of August after a summer of anticipation, and did not disappoint. AC Newman and Neko Case's Canadian supergroup keeps pumping out the power-pop hits with their third consecutively strong album. This album also served as the constant soundtrack to my first week of classes in the Fall semester.
Key Track: Twin Cinema

Artist: Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
Album: Selftitled
Release Date: Early Summer
Label: Self-Released
Comments: The most talked-about band of 2005 shows up at a respectable number five. Extraordinary what blogs and a catchy name can do for a unknown, unsigned band from Brooklyn.

Key Track: The Skin of My Yellow Country Teeth

Artist: Death Cab for Cutie
Album: Plans
Release Date: August 30th
Label: Atlantic/Barsuk
Comments: Say what you will about this OC-ified band's first major label release. Despite being whored out on MTV, this record is an indie-pop gem. Get out your Hollister polos, kids.
Key Track: Crooked Teeth

Artist: The Magic Numbers
Album: Selftitled
Release Date: October 4th
Label: Capitol
Comments: Engaging harmonies and energetic songwriting are what makes this little-known band from the UK so great. Another British invasion maybe?
Key Track: Forever Lost (Live on KCRW)

Artist: Architecture in Helsinki
Album: In Case We Die
Release Date: April 12th
Label: Bar None
Comments: They went from being total unknowns from Australia when I saw them open for Ben Kweller and Death Cab for Cutie in April of 2004 to being quirky sensations of the indie community in a matter of months. Their sophomore release is just as strong as their first.
Key Track: It's 5!

Artist: Ben Lee
Album: Awake is the New Sleep
Release Date: February 22nd
Label: New West
Comments: This lesser-known third of The Bens doesn't get enough credit. Lee's albums are consistently fantastic, and this catchy record is no exception. The music was even featured on Laguna Beach! Come on!
Key Track: Catch My Disease

Artist: Ben Folds
Album: Songs for Silverman
Release Date: April 26th
Label: Sony
Comments: Ben Folds left his Five behind, and it was four years since his catchy Rockin' the Suburbs was released (9/11/01). Ben is all grown up, and this mature record of piano rock shows that he hasn't lost his stuff.
Key Track: Jesusland

Artist: Spoon
Album: Gimme Fiction
Release Date: May 10th
Label: Merge
Comments: With a larger than expected back catalog, Spoon intimidated me when I attempted to become a fan of their's after I discovered them through The OC. I picked up their new critically-acclaimed album in Haight-Ashbury when I was vacationing in San Francisco over July 4th weekend. I was not disappointed. Everything they say about this band is true.
Key Track: Sister Jack

Artist: Feist
Album: Let It Die
Release Date: April 26th
Label: Arts & Crafts/Interscope
Comments: Sometimes openers are even better than their headliners, as was the case at a Broken Social Scene concert I went to a few months ago. Simple and beautiful songs and a soothing and tender voice has this only solo female artist on the list. Bright Eyes tries to cover her, and fails miserably.
Key Track: Mushaboom

Artist: Tim DeLaughter of The Polyphonic Spree & Elliott Smith
Album: Thumbsucker Soundtrack
Release Date: September 13th
Label: Hollywood
Comments: Great soundtrack to accompany a great film. All original music scored by Tim DeLaughter of The Polyphonic Spree along with some great songs from the late Elliott Smith as well.
Key Track: Move Away and Shine

Honorable Mention
Artist: Hartley Goldstein
Album: Songs in the Key of Zoloft
Release Date: Late Summer/Early September
Label: Self-Released
Comments: I didn't feel quite right putting this on my actual list since it's technically only a debut EP, but I've played no other artist more than Hartley Goldstein since I discovered him back in late September. His tongue-in-cheek songs comment about being a bearded Jewish sensitive indie rocker, Woody Allen films, and growing up New York City during the 80s watching WPIX. Need I say more? Plus, he's a really nice guy.
Key Track: A Love Song for Annie Hall

Song of the Year
Kelly Clarkson - Since U Been Gone