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Book Review: Look At My Striped Shirt

Look At My Striped ShirtLook At My Striped Shirt - Confessions of People You Love To Hate by The Phat Phree $10.36 @ Amazon.com First off let me admit that this blog - or at least me - is somehow related to The Phat Phree. I'll give you 3 minutes to Google it and figure it out. If you can't, well then it's of no concern to you. But I did get this book sent to me for free with the understanding that I would review it. Such is the duty of a "Blogger" - we are here to spread the word where no one else gives a damn. Now let me explain a little bit about The Phat Phree. It's an online humor magazine that is about two hundred times more popular than Unsought Input. But then again, uhm...we like it that way. The guys from The Phat Phree are those kids who probably beat you up in elementary school, played sports in middle school and by high school they were all of a sudden really in to drama club and the school newspaper because they were slightly too intelligent to stay in football. They weren't in drama to sing and dance (cuz "that's be gay, dude") or on the newspaper to write scandalous op-ed pieces, but because they like when people listen to them talk or read what they write. They're those guys who fill the large gap between the over-smart introverts and the air-headed extroverts. Now they work office jobs but hope to someday make it big in a way that people will pay money to hear what they have to say. So, nothing wrong with that. Someone's got to fill that gap. They're honing their skills by following the TPP credo: Target. Observe. Ridicule. They're taking "observational comedy" to a different level than we're used to - different than the droning of Jerry Seinfeld's sly jabs at everyday annoyances and not so far as the over-done "people of [my ethnicity] are funny because..." yawn-fest of Carlos Mencia. Look At My Striped Shirt - Confessions of People You Love To Hate contains 73 essays written from the point of view of all of the quirky lamers you work with, ring up at the cash register, run into at parties and, God forbid, are related to. A Spoon River Anthology for the modern day, if you will. The characters in the LAMSS book are those idiots you know you know, but really never cared to think about before. The dude who's "really into philosophy." The jackass with the "GONFISHN" license plate. The guy who wanted to be "fuck buddies" but maybe without the "buddies" part. Your "cool" teacher. The lady who collects ladybugs. And of course, that fella sportin' the striped shirt at the bar who knows that he is totally going to get laid tonight. The Phat Phree writers (all 28 of them) put together an interesting menagerie of characters for this book. They were smart enough to leave out the painfully obvious targets of ridicule - fat people, non-Americans, IT guys, soccer moms, the religious Right - and delve a little bit deeper into the idiocracy that truly makes up most of the American population.
This gangbang is so awkward This gangbang is so awkward...
Many of the pieces do fall flat while others are stand out. Like most Saturday Night Live sketches (and really, a good chunk of Monty Python as well), some of the essays come out swingin' and die halfway through as if they'd be better minus the last three paragraphs. My favorite part of the book is actually the essay titles and accompanying pictures (yes, I read like a six-year-old, thanks.) "You Can't Plinko For Shit, You Dumb Bitch," "This Gangbang is So Awkward" and "Having a Huge Penis Isn't So Great" are some of my favorites. Also much like Python, and the Kids in the Hall, it seems that the Phat Phree writers can't write for women. There's only a smattering of essays written from a female point-of-view (two of the contributing writers are women) and they aren't quite as strong as the others. Although "Seriously, Get This Sweater Off Me" written from the point-of-view of a woman's "rat dog" is one of the best pieces. Maybe chicks just aren't that interesting.
Seriously, get this sweater off me Seriously, get this sweater off me
Since the boys at TPP are so wildly different (read: popular) than us here at Unsought, the book gives me a chance to learn a little bit about people that I would know only if I only left the house once in a while. People that go to clubs, go to after parties, drive nice cars, think they're "just like Sex and the City," etc. I think those sort of people are more ubiquitous than I had previously imagined - although MySpace is changing my perception of the world quite rapidly. Now, thanks to this book, I have some basis for my "who the hell are all these people on MySpace?" snark. If nothing else, this is the perfect bathroom book. The essays are short enough to get through a few at a time during your morning constitutional. Or, if you're like me and spend more time eating than excreting, it's a nice little lunchtime accompaniment. I guarantee if nothing else you'll be remembering a character or two the next time you run into someone annoying, or emailing your friend about how this essay you just read reminds you of him. Check out The Phat Phree Web site which is updated daily with lots of new content. Some of the pieces from the book can be found there, most likely in their "Hall of Fame." Fifty of the essays are brand-new, and can only be found in the book. The Look At My Striped Shirt Web site has a few excerpts plus pod-casts of performances of the essays and some pretty funny wallpapers (see, even they find the titles and pictures funny!) Go forth and read, my friends. Don't read too much, though. I will have more television reviews for you shortly.

When Comedians Attack!

Joe Rogan is an animal. After years of being pissed of that Carlos Mencia has been stealing from other comedians he finally had enough and confronted him on stage. It is just brutal. Joe totally takes him apart and Carlos' only comeback is to call Joe a "little bitch" ten times. To add further credibility to his argument Joe shows various clips showing Carlos stealing material. Joe Rogan is definitely the last person I would want in my face like that. He could easily kick Carlos' ass but instead he just totally verbally destroys him. Joe was banned from the Comedy Store where this took place afterwards showing just how much free speech is respected in comedy clubs. Visit joerogan.net for more info and to give Joe your opinion on whether you think he was right or just being an ass. [googlevideo]-7841918711943453918[/googlevideo]

What You Should Be Watching: Post-Holiday Gifts to Yourself

By the time Christmas is over, you're going to have some gift cards to spend and some returns to make. Forget buying books or CDs with your Borders gift card (dude, CDs are so 2005) - instead, stock up on some television show boxed sets. Instead of shoveling the driveway or doing whatever people do in the winter in places where it doesn't snow, stay inside and rot your brain AGAIN with these hours upon hours of television goodness. All commercial-free! The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes The Adventures of Sherlock HolmesThis is hands-down the best Holmes series out there. Jeremy Brett (as Holmes) basically turned himself into a raving lunatic to bring us the most true-to-story Sherlock possible, and the writers of this first series worked hard to keep true to Doyle's works as well. Fans of House and CSI will appreciate the original "so clever it hurts" character after which Greg House and Gil Grissom are often cited as being modeled after. Brett is a sexy bastard as well. There's other Granada Television (of Great Britian) Holmes series starring Brett, such as The Return of Sherlock Holmes and The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes, which are also good but Adventures is the place to start. The original 13 episodes, included in this set, had the best scripts and Brett was still at the top of his game. As the later series came about, the quality of Holmes stories left from which to choose became a stumbling block for the writers. Brett also started losing his mind a bit and his health got worse. By the time The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes was shot (the final series), Brett was literally having to be propped up in order to appear in the shows. But this first series is can't-miss. Sets are amazingly accurate, Brett and David Burke/Edward Hardwicke as Watson give spot-on performances and the scripts couldn't be more accurate. Investing in this series will definitely up your geek cred by letting you discuss Holmes with your bookstorecoffeeshop buddies as if you've actually read the books. Freaks & Geeks Freaks & GeeksI'm a sucker for all things 80's and also for all things geek, so when I picked this box up I immediately joined the ranks of the fans crying "why was this show cancelled?!" The show is about the Geeks - Sam, Bill and Neal - and the Freaks - Daniel, Nick, Ken and Kim - who go to high school in Michigan in the 80's. Their paths both parallel and cross, as Sam's older sister tries hard to get in with the loser/stoner Freaks while trying to shed her actual identity as a Geek. The acting is great and the writing is even better. It stands to reason, as writer Paul Feig has gone on to work on shows such as Arrested Development, The Office and Weeds. And the show's executive producer, Judd Apatow, worked on The Larry Sanders Show, The Ben Stiller Show, and was co-creator of The 40-Year-Old Virgin. So how did this amazing show get canceled so quick? The Jocks, of course. No one wanted to watch a show about those kids no one talked to in high school. Well no one but the millions of people who identified with said kids - but they aren't the ones in charge. Put this one in the pile with Newsradio and Arrested Development as "shows that were too good for television" and trust me on this one. And, if you're buying it from Amazon, don't be afraid to bundle this purchase with the Undeclared boxed set too. Undeclared is sort of a follow-up to this show, also created by Feig and Apatow. Different characters and different time frame, and it takes place in college, but the quality is still there. The Simpsons (Seasons 1-9) The Simpsons"But I've already seen all of the episodes of The Simpsons!" I know you have, Spiff, but I think you can watch them again. Each boxed set comes with over 9 hours of episodes PLUS commentary on every episode. The first couple of seasons got off to a rocky start, but once the writers and actors hit their grooves the show became a classic. Now that the show is in season 18, people are complaining that the air is slowly leaking out of the Simpsons bag. Fair enough, but this didn't become one of the top television shows ever for no reason. For those of you who feel a little left out when your pals start quoting every line, picking up the boxed sets and watching every episode through will not only make you more culturally aware but kill a lot of time. For those of you who are doing the quoting, the commentary for each episode is worth the price of the set. And watching The Simpsons without commercials sort of takes away the pain when an episode isn't wowing you right out of the gate. Seasons 4 through 12, I think, are the best to look for (obviously, they've only released up to 9) so if you're not seriously into it you can pass up the first few seasons. This may not be a series you can watch again and again but you can be sure that if your current Netflix selection is a little dull or if you need some indoor activity for these insanely long hours of winter darkness, popping in a few episodes of The Simpsons will bring you a few dozen hours of solid comedy television. The Office (UK) The OfficeI can't believe how people love The Office (US) so much and keep telling me they're not interested in the UK version. The ORIGINAL version. Starring Ricky Fucking Gervaise for God's sake. What's your hangup? Sure, Steve Carell is awesome and that kid who plays Jim is alright but they can't replace the original. Gervaise is, to put it in words you will understand, "off the hook" - an even goofier boss. And Tim (the UK's Jim) is more sad (and played by Arthur Dent!), Gareth (Dwight) is more pathetic and the entire office has a bit more of that very creepy and depressing vibe to it. Now, I'm not knocking the US series. From what I've seen of it, it's cool. Plus it's on TV right now which is more than we can say for the UK version. But you've got to see Gervaise doing "the dance" and see Mackenzie Crook (Gareth) wearing bike shorts. You've got to see the pub quizzes and the Christmas parties and "the kiss." Everything you love about the American version is here and perfected the first time around. The UK show only lasts 2 seasons (with a Christmas special) and is quite neatly wrapped up with no loose ends. Trust me on this one - it's like the difference between American Coke in a can and Mexican Coke in a bottle (made with real sugar). The American version is great and handy but if you can get your hands on the "original" it'll be pure enjoyment. The Kids in the Hall (Complete Set) The cleverest sketch comedy show ever. Took forever to get these shows to DVD so count your blessings and pass the Tim Horton's. Newsradio (Seasons 1-4) When was the last time you thought about this show? Oh...every time I mention it on this blog. Right on. Well, what are you waiting for? Jeeves & Wooster (complete set) I said it before in this entry and I'll say it again - Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry kick ass. This is one of those shows you can watch over and over again and not get bored. Like Holmes, it's a perfect adaptation of classic British literature. It's fun to watch and it makes u look sm4rt. Arrested Development (complete set) I know it's almost a cliche to say this is the funniest show on television ever (American television - see The Office (UK)) but it really is friggin' hilarious. It goes by so fast, you have to watch it a couple times to fully appreciate it. Which is why you need the boxed set.

Saturday Night Live Shocks America

The shock is that it's actually funny. [youtube]1dmVU08zVpA[/youtube] And in case you missed it, the other funny sketch from the past 5 years: [youtube]SRkFW1gjeL8[/youtube]

The British Have a Strange Sense of “Funny” (comedy movies)

Jason is confusing Cyber Space with Meat Space again and referencing something I'd said at a party regarding England's Channel 5's Greatest Comedy Movies Ever list (not Bravo, as he had thought). Being a fan of British "humour" I figured my top movies would be spot-on with our friends from the island, but instead I was incredibly disappointed by their idea of what is funny when it comes to comedy movies. I'll wait for you to click on the link and we can discuss. First off, some of my favorite comedy movies are thankfully listed. The Blues Brothers, Shaun of the Dead, Life of Brian (my #1 as well), Groundhog Day, Dr. Strangelove, Ferris Beuller, and Spinal Tap. There's also Wayne's World, which is one of those movies one tends to forget about until you see it on some sort of "Greatest Ever Comedy Movies" list and say "yeah, that was a good one!" But I have a beef with a good number of the British population's choices (or at least the population that watches Five.) First off...the animated movies. Southpark, yes. Very funny. But Shrek? Toy Story? The Incredibles? Perhaps rip-roaringly funny if you're seven, a good laugh if you're 12, but faaaar from the funniest things I've seen as an adult. Home Alone, while not animated, is also a kid's movie. Fun on Christmas but not even close to something that comes to mind when I think "greatest ever" and "comedy." That's four slots on their list that could have been filled with Christopher Guest or Mel Brooks. Next is their lust for Ben Stiller and Jim Carey. Dodgeball, There's Something About Mary, Meet the Parents, Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls (not even the original movie!) and Dumb & Dumber. Puh-lease. I am surprised with their love of fart and semen jokes that the list only includes ONE Adam Sandler flick (Happy Gilmore). I'll concede Dodgeball, though, if they must have a Stiller. It is indeed a funny movie. Some more "family" movies I didn't even realize were that funny: Mrs. Doubtfire, Father of the Bride and Men In Black. I also think that American Pie is waaaay to high on the list. #3. Above The Blues Brothers, above Shaun of the Dead...luckilly they were smart enough to put it behind at least Blazing Saddles and Life of Brian. So what do I think is missing? Glad you asked: Airplane!: Absolute comedy gold with more one-liners than you can shake a stick at. Nary a week goes by without me hearing or making an Airplane! reference. Apparently the movie never made it to England, because they managed to find Naked Gun funny but not this. (Naked Gun IS funny, don't get me wrong. But it's no Airplane!) History Of The World Part I: The history of the goddamn WORLD, in comedy format. Hullo! Monty Python and the Holy Grail: Some days this is my favorite comedy movie, some days it's Life of Brian. I'd say this one spawned more catchphrases than Brian and also got more general play. You'd think the Brits would at least give it a top 40 spot with all the French bashing... Young Frankenstein: Do they know Gene Wilder in England? They know Blazing Saddles...why not this? Oh yeah...they've got Stiller. It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World: Nearly THREE HOURS of America's finest comedy legends racing around the desert trying to find "The Big W." What's not to like? Special props to the "updated" version called Rat Race, which holds a very very special place in my heart mainly because it has both John Cleese AND Rowan Atkinson in it. 40 Year Old Virgin: I bet you thought I hadn't seen any new movies in 20 years! Psych! Steve Carell is on fire these days, and Jud Apatow (of Freaks & Geeks and Undeclared fame) never lost his stuff. I was prepared to yawn at this one and ended up busting a gut. Those are some fucking funny movies. England's picks...not so much. It seems as if England is now comprised of soccer moms (footie moms?) and frat boys (soccer hooligans?) Their whole idea and embracing of "alternative comedy" must have left office with Mrs. Thatcher. I mourn for England...