Monday, April 30, 2012

Superhero Haiku

Today is the last day of April—the last day of National Poetry Month. But don't despair because it's almost Free Comic Book Day (May 5). Let's celebrate with superhero haiku. Super!

Superman flying
cape billowing in the wind
hairs neatly in place

Fantastic Four: stretch,
invisible girl, fire guy;
good band name: The Thing

Wonder Woman flies
her invisible airplane
no one sees her fly

Batman and Robin
hide their true relationship
only Alfred knows

career frustration
for Captain America
can't get to Major

Mighty Thor always
shops at IKEA for his
lingonberry juice 

Avengers unite
fighting against evil foes
what about Enron?

Spiderman sell-out
movies, a failed Broadway show
oh no, James Franco

she's problematic
She-Hulk can't keep her clothes on
superhero porn

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Celebrity Apprentice LSD Recap - Ep 10 - Winning by a Nose

I couldn't help thinking last Sunday as I flipped channels between Celebrity Apprentice and Mad Men (after watching Amazing Race and two minutes of Once Upon A Time at my mom's insistence that the boy in it looks like my boy—he does), that Sunday night TV is trippin,' man. As if in response, Roger Stirling in Mad Men took therapeutically prescribed LSD this week and experienced the clarity that led to the end of his crappy May-December marriage. So, in the spirit of inner journeys, let us review this episode as if in the throes of an LSD experience. It practically is psychedelic that Teresa Giudice is still in the running over Penn Jillette. But I get ahead of myself. Let us review:

With Paul Teutul, Sr. out of the game, that leaves poor Arsenio with Aubrey and Teresa on Team Unanimous. Clay, Lisa, Dayana and Penn are what's left of Team Forte. Trump begins proceedings by meeting everyone in his lavish suite at Trump Towers. WHOA, HANG ON! THIS IS GOING TO BE A BUMPY RIDE.

Swell place, Mr. Trump but where's the slot machines?
Reps from Macy's are on hand to judge a store display for Trump's new fragrance: Success. Teams must come up with a slogan, a display, some take-away device and the satisfaction that comes from promoting a Trump product on a Trump show while he dangles a potential $100,000 for the winning project manager's charity. Capitalism is far out.

Aubrey is project manager and wants to define success as helping people. Wait. Whut? Arsenio focuses on money but because Aubrey doesn't want to share the creative wealth, he backs off and lets her run the show. Teresa continues to stare into the middle distance, like a lizard on a rock. Aubrey goes with the slogan "Trust Your Instincts" along with a of kind of diorama of New York City. Then she adds the mind-blowing element of a silhouette of Eric Trump, made up to look like his father, staring up at the skyline, like a shadow figure, haunting our very consumer consciousness.

Although Clay is the other project manager, he lets Penn come up with most of their plan even though Penn didn't want to be project manager on this one. Penn's slogan "You've Earned It" will be illustrated by a big photo of Dayana hugging a torso of business-suited man while holding cologne aloft. Dayana wants to get naked for her photo but Clay tells her she can get naked on a challenge—just not this one. Clay is a diplomat.

Highlights of the creative process include Aubrey sitting on Arsenio's shoulders, taking photos of the city skyline. "Aubrey had a great idea!" enthuses Arsenio. "She said, let me put my vagina on the back of your neck!" Then he fantasizes about throwing her off backwards to the ground below. In his newsboy cap, Arsenio is a scamp and a trickster, throwing our perception into a clearer view. Aubrey flirts shamelessly with Eric during his brief photo shoot, causing him to wonder if she's looking for "brownie points." Every time he enunciates "brownie points," he sounds like a substitute fourth-grade teacher, causing my concept of reality to shatter. Aubrey then trash-talks her team to Eric while Arsenio and Teresa are out buying vinyl for her diorama. And reality is firmly in place again.

Presentation time: Aubrey's diorama looks like a stage set for a middle-school production of "Guys and Dolls."  A sillouette of Eric Trump as Donald gazes upward in rapt foamboard attention. There are pamphlets. There are cardboard sticks that smell of perfume. Aubrey and her team are thrilled to present this new celebrity smell on the horizon.

Clay's giant photo of Dayana is lovely and the surrounding Gotham City-like display looks like something you would see in a department store. But he hasn't worked up a sizable presentation, and realistically, what can you say about Trump perfume? (No one used my slogan: Success - You Reek Of It. Now where's my $100,000 for charity?) Clay must awkwardly stand before the Macy's reps while they await his endorsement of useless garbage. I mean, SUCCESS, by Trump. There are no cardboards to hand out.

In the boardroom, Trump gives the win to Aubrey but just barely. Both displays were hit-and-miss. The execs liked the cardboards and presentation by Aubrey's team, but didn't like the faux Trump cut-out. They liked Dayana's photo but hated the phrase "You Earned It," perhaps fearing some tie-in with prostitution. Clay should have made use of cardboard smell sticks. His presentation needed enhancement. Aubrey's team wins. Trump doles out $40,000 to Aubrey's charity, Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network—good deal! And then he gives $10,000 to everyone's charities, which probably adds up to less than he would have paid an ad agency to come up with two promotions for his perfume. But still—good deal all around!

Lisa has had an epiphany and thinks Dayana did a good job on this task. She has nothing but good things to say about her usual arch enemy. Right on, Lisa Lampanelli—you are a child of the universe. Clay excuses her from the boardroom because she is so groovy. That leaves Dayana, who did a good job, Penn who had all the ideas, and Clay who ruled by consensus. "It's fun to brainstorm when you have good ideas and I have good ideas," Penn had opined earlier. This is a man who named his children Zolten and Moxie CrimeFighter, so don't be so sure. Trump wants to fire Dayana because she's been called back to the boardroom six times now, but he can't because she excelled this time.

Trump ping-pongs between Clay and Penn in eeny-meeny-miny-moe fashion. Clay has flop sweat. Penn just keeps agreeing with Trump that he did indeed came up with the hated slogan. This is a trick from the "How to Deal with Difficult People" handbook. Finally Penn is fired and tells us in the town car of purgatory that he can tell us the rules of chess, but he can't tell us the rules of Celebrity Apprentice.

Well, Penn, when the ...white knight is talking backwards, and the red queen's off with her head; remember what the dormouse said: feed your head... And now Celebrity Apprentice on LSD.

Teresa Giudice doesn't get a portrait this time around. But know this: she is chiefly famous for flipping a table over. Are you trippin' yet? I'm trippin'...

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Clay Aiken will be our guide because he seems fairly reasonable and kind-hearted. Warning: whatever you do—don't trip with Aubrey O'Day. Because she appears to be the opposite of that.

Farewell, Penn Jillette—back to Penn & Teller in Las Vegas for you, perhaps the trippiest city in America.

Lisa Lampanelli's sense of self is melting into the ether. Is she nice, is she mean, or somewhere in between?

Dayana Mendoza is like a beautiful dream vision that is best handled while clean and sober so as to not be a babbling idiot in her presence.

Arsenio Halllllllll! would be fun to trip with.

Good GOD! I WARNED YOU not to trip with Aubrey! Sorry for this demented portrait. She really is a lovely girl...

Fantasy of Trump having an earth-shattering philosophical shift in mindfulness. Instead of "You're fired!" which he actually tried to trademark once, his new catch-phrase will be, "You're hired!" The recession is officially over as soon as this monumental development takes place.

"You're hired" because you're all terrific!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Stock photos of beatniks with bonus beatnik movie clips

April is National Poetry Month so it's an excellent time to gather stock photos of beatniks. Here's a fine sampling of beatnik stock photography to illustrate all your go daddy-o needs.

This emoting beatnik - from Fotosearch

This bongo-playing beatnik - from Shutterstock

This 'Jazzy Guy' beatnik - from CrystalGraphics

This happy beatnik - from Superstock
This 'beatnik poet in ragged shirt reading poems' - from 123RF

This 'angry cartoon beatnik hippy man smoking' - from 123RF

Here's the intro to "Beat Girl" to get you in the mood.

Check out "The Beatniks of Greenwich Village"

Phillipa Fallon recites her beat opus, High School Drag, in "High School Confidential."

Los Beatniks shake it up with the Tampico Twist in 1962. ¡Bailes todos!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Celebrity Apprentice Puppet Show Recap - Ep 9 - Puppet Up!

This week, on Celebrity Apprentice, there must have been a pre-show meeting among the Trumps to brainstorm a new challenge. I assume it went something like this:

Donald: I've made a generous donation to the Children's Television Workshop and now Henson Enterprises owes me a favor.

Ivanka: And...?

Donald: I say the teams have to put on a puppet show.

Donald, Jr.: Excuse me?

Donald: (waving his hands around to demonstrate) A puppet show. And let's make it an improv puppet show.

Donald, Jr.: You mean, like making stuff up on the fly?

Donald: In front of a live audience.

Ivanka: Ohkaaaay...

Eric: (getting excited) And they have to eat a stick of butter while they do it!

(The Trumps stare at Eric for a moment).

Eric: Never mind.

Donald: You and your butter fixation.

Eric: I just want a challenge involving butter. Is that so wrong?

Donald, Jr.: Yes. I think it is.

Donald: (making a telephone gesture with his hand toward Eric) Call your therapist directly after this meeting.

Eric: Yes sir.

And that's how this challenge (maybe) came to be. The teams are dwindling so Clay is put on Team Forte with Lisa, Penn and Dayana. This leaves his buddy Arsenio on Unanimous with Paul, Aubrey and Teresa. Teresa gives a big check to a little boy who has a terrible kidney disease for the NephCure Foundation, which will hopefully help find a cure. This basically evil show makes me cry every week during the charity segment. I wish that little boy and his family all the best. But I don't want him to watch this show, even though there's puppets this week. Because some of these celebrities are out of their minds.

Brian Henson, son of my hero, the late Jim Henson, shows up and introduces the concept of the teams putting on two improv puppet shoes for the ongoing theatrical experience, "Stuffed and Unstrung." This has nothing to do with business or marketing, but nobody brings that up. Paul volunteers to be project manager, even though he could care less about puppets. Fool! Puppets are awesome! Henson puppets are like royalty! Lisa is project manager for her team, hoping to make some money for her charity after losing a bunch of challenges.

Puppets are made. Arsenio and Teresa are puppeteers and Aubrey is their host. Paul has a hurt back and mostly sits around and texts. But he does it with quiet dignity. Lisa and Clay are their team's puppeteers. Clay's a ringer. He's performed with puppets at his church before. His team snickers about that but I've seen a priest perform with an ostrich puppet during the one mass I attended during my two-decade stint in San Francisco. The guy was damn good. And that ostrich made a lot of sense. So I know what Clay's talking about. Penn is their host and although Dayana claims she's been doing improv for more than a year, Lisa cites her 22 years of experience performing and tells Dayana she can make the puppets, but that's it, It's like the opening for Cinderella, or a puppet show about Cinderella.

Dayana is flat-out tired of dealing with Lisa's manipulative and I'm sorry, cunty, behavior toward her. She sulks beautifully while making some very nice puppets. The Henson team tells her they'd hire her in a minute. Take the job, Dayana! It would be so much better than being on this show. Meanwhile, Clay turns out to be a hilarious puppeteer. Lisa briefly makes her puppet into a stereotypical Latina, spouting gibberish like, "Ay caramba!" and "Ay, Papi!" and various exclamations that belong on the site, Yo, Is This Racist? 

When Dayana looks even more miffed, Lisa interviews that making the puppets is plenty to do and that Dayana can then be "ocupado, por favor." She says this with such bitterness. She's like every bad project manager I've ever had. Congratulations, Lisa—you're in very bad company. Also, she tends to close her puppet's mouth when it should be opening. Rookie error, despite her 22 years of experience. Meanwhile, Teresa struggles with reciting a nursery rhyme from memory and tries to figure out how many syllables are in the number seven. It's pretty obvious that Teresa's head is as empty as a...well, a puppet.

Backstage before the show, tensions run high. Clay suggests that Dayana at least be able to hand them props onstage so she's not just sitting there (like Paul), and Lisa blows up. She's not going to allow some prima donna beauty queen ruin her puppet show after 22 years of experience on stage. Clay and Penn sit there stunned, while Lisa yells and yells about what a would-be stage-hog Dayana is. Dayana leaves the room in tears.

Puppet shows! Clay makes the audience laugh and laugh. He and Lisa use props in a risque manner. Oops—it's not that kind of show, and my goodness, Clay! Arsenio and Teresa pull it together but barely since Teresa can't remember the rules of improv (always agree, don't deny, go with the suggestions). Her brassy chutzpah goes over well enough, apparently. Aubrey yelps, "Puppet Up!" every once in a while and keeps her bossiness in check this time around. Paul sits quietly. Dayana sits sulkily.

In the boardroom, Lisa cries when asked who she'd bring back for firing. She tells Trump, no one. No one leaves  her act in tears, she explains, according to her showbiz credo. Riiiiight. Her team ends up winning and Paul is fired for not being a puppet-show kind of guy. He's back to making badass motorcycles, which is how it should be. Lisa's charity, Gay Men's Health Crisis, will get the $20,000. Good deal.

I want to do a puppet show with Clay Aiken. Something like this:

Once upon a time, there was a beautiful puppet named Dayana, who was kind, hard-working and care free...

That is, until the evil Puppet Project Manager Lisa came along and ruined everything with her abusive and maniacal tirades.

Teammates, Puppet Clay and Puppet Penn, were no help against the onslaught of negative spew that came from Puppet Lisa's fabric lips. All they could do was watch, sitting very still to try and keep Puppet Lisa from noticing them too much. But it was hard. Her big, popping-out eyes were everywhere.

Puppet Dayana spoke of how it felt to be so unfairly treated. But Puppet Lisa only got more defensive and offensive.

Over on Team Unanimous, they had their own troubles. And Puppet Project Manager Paul was sent packing.

In the boardroom, Puppet Master Trump was well pleased.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Celebrity Apprentice Incredible Hulk Recap - Ep 8 - Ad Hawk

It's been a season of laughs and tears on Celebrity Apprentice and now it's...not even close to being over. Unless Lisa Lampanelli's head implodes and everyone goes on hiatus. I could see this happening. She's gonna blow! She's gonna...

Where was I? This week's episode has the teams making a commercial for coupon pushers, But first Arsenio Hall Skypes Magic Johnson to tell him about $50,000 he won for Johnson's foundation. They bump heads against their computer screens as a sign-off. Awww. This reminds me of one of my favorite bits on the Pee-Wee's Playhouse Christmas Special when Magic Johnson is hanging out inside Magic Screen. Pee-Wee exclaims, "What are you doing in Magic Screen?" To which Magic Johnson replies, "Magic Screen and I are cousins!"

Magic Johnson displays more charisma in his brief talk with Arsenio than anyone on this show has to date. That reminds me, Teresa steps up as team leader of team Forte while Dayana volunteers for Unanimous. Previously Arsenio and Lisa had a tiff after he describes Aubrey (who had left due to all the negativity) as a bitch and a whore. Lisa blew her top, telling Arsenio YOU DON'T F*beep!* CALL A WOMAN F*beep!* BITCH AND WHORE! Or words to that effect. DON'T TELL ME WHAT WORDS TO USE WHEN I'VE BEEN DISSED said Arsenio. WELL YOU'RE GOING TO ALIENATE WOMEN AND YOU ARE REPRESENTING YOUR CHARITY AND SO DON'T F*beep!* DO IT! said Lisa. And so on and so forth.

Let me say this about the usage of the words bitch and whore. I've heard women call each other bitch and whore. I've heard men call each other bitch and yes, whore. There's a long history of people calling each other bitch and whore. In the heat of the moment, someone might be inclined to call Aubrey a bitch and maybe a whore. Mostly she's really negative and catty, so whatever words work to that effect.

Anyway, she doesn't want to be bullied since she's representing an anti-bullying organization (poor them), so she confronts Arsenio and they work it out. Arsenio tells her she doesn't know what he was going through but it was bad (his cousin had recently died of AIDS) and she should understand that he was in a terrible place at the time. Basically he doesn't deny that she's a bitch or a whore, but she accepts his explanation for the time being. Arsenio regrets using those words, but personally, my sense of womanly solidarity is not threatened by Arsenio Hall. Perhaps I am embracing my inner bitch and whore.

After all this hoopla, the teams get along surprisingly well. Even Lisa and Dayana work well together, despite Lisa insisting, to their faces, that Lou and Dayana are brain dead and useless. It's a testament to both of them that they hold it together throughout the gulfstream of mouth pollution that comes from Lisa Lampanelli's maw.

Teresa's team produces a risque ad featuring Aubrey and an actor as teens doing stuff in her bedroom that "father" Paul (done up in fatherly nerd drag) mistakes for sexual shenanigans. Dayana's team does a more traditional ad with a couple going through dating, marriage and settling down while using coupons throughout their adult lives. The clients pick Teresa's commercial as the winner and so we get a seemingly endless segment of Lisa raking Lou Ferrigno over the boardroom coals because she's tired of Lou's lack of ideas. Dayana wisely stays quietly beautiful while Lisa and Lou have at it, thereby avoiding being fired. Dayana is smarter than Lisa thinks.

Lou does seem fairly out of his league in these business and marketing situations. He's admitted several times throughout the season that his hearing impairment tends to temporarily affect his ability to listen and understand what's going on with his team. What seals his fate is that when asked by Trump which commercial he prefers, he answers honestly that he likes Teresa's better. Oh, the disloyalty to his losing team! He's then unable to stem the tide of Lisa's raging onslaught on his abilities and is fired. At one point Lisa proclaims that Lou uses his hearing loss as an excuse when it's convenient for him and that makes him manipulative.

This is the one of the worst things I've ever heard anyone say on a reality show. Even if it's true, how is Lisa to know? She can't experience the world as a deaf person who must read lips to communicate with others. So it isn't her place to make this offensive accusation. Lisa has managed to offend me more with one sentence than all the bitches and whores that have been said in reality TV history. Go figure. Teresa's charity The NephCure Foundation will receive a large donation. Good deal.

It's the lack of loyalty to his team that got Lou fired, claims Trump. Trump spawn, Donald Jr. and Ivanka, both agree before trailing their father down the hallway in slow motion like the Borgias, to scheme and plot to the top of the heap for another day. In the town car of purgatory Lou says he's proud of himself for playing the game and doesn't regret his honesty regarding the quality of the two commercials. "And my team lost, so I was right!" he exclaims, smiling big. Don't ever change, Lou!

I'm going to honor Lou's 1977 to 1982 run on the TV extravaganza, The Incredible Hulk, because it's 110% better than anything Donald Trump has starred in. My brother watched this show every week and so I did too. Bill Bixby's sympathetic and physically unimposing Dr. David Banner would morph into the mentally challenged, snarling Hulk two or three times in every episode. Shirts ripped, pants shrunk, loafers split and there appeared Lou—a mean, green raging machine, swinging telephone poles across oncoming Mack truck grills with impunity. Yet he was sensitive and able to pantomime very effectively for such a big guy.

According to interviews, the Hulk makeup took more than three hours to apply and another hour to wash down at the end of the shoot. Then it was off to the gym to pump iron for an hour before dropping into bed in order to wake at 5 A.M. to do it all over again. He loved the character and gave it his all. So hat's off to you, Lou.

A quick sketch of The Incredible Hulk, ready for a day of rampaging crime fighting.

A one-liner of The Incredible Hulk in a pensive mood. A one-liner is just what it says it is—a drawing made with one line. 

 A scribble-sketch of The Incredible Hulk emitting his catch-phrase, "AARRRRRGH!"

Although Lou didn't "Hulk out" on Donald Trump in the boardroom, he did say, "Take it back. I don't want to be fired," before shrugging it off and entering the elevator of shame. Imagine the following scene with Trump as co-star and I think you'll agree—that's entertainment.

Towel-snapping bullies vs. Hulk's alter-ego David Banner (the late, great Bill Bixby). Stupid jocks—only brute force will work on them. Featuring tight shorts and steam-room rage.

The softer side of The Incredible Hulk as he goes shopping in what appears to be either a mall or a mad house. (HULK SMASH ANNOYING TOYS.) And falls in love with a mannequin.

The Hulk takes on a high-security mental institution. I'm sure Lou felt like this several times throughout the course of Celebrity Apprentice. Now that he's fired, he's free, truly free.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Kimbanguist Symphony Orchestra - Classical Music in The Congo

60 Minutes featured a wonderful story this week about the 200-member Kimbanguist Symphony Orchestra. It's the only symphony orchestra in central Africa and the only all-black orchestra in the world. Former commercial pilot, Armand Diangienda, taught himself how to read music and play several instruments after his airline shut down. He began the amateur orchestra in the city of Kinshasa from literally nothing in one of the poorest, war-torn countries in the world. Some of the musicians travel miles over rocky dirt roads to come to rehearsal. Their dedication to classical music is very moving. Listen to them take on Beethoven's daunting Ninth. Amazing.

The full story is here.

Click here to learn more or to donate to the Kinshasa Music School.

"Kinshasa Symphony" is a 2010 German documentary about the orchestra. Trailer:

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

San Francisco Haiku for National Poetry Month

April is national poetry month—not day, week, or bi-weekly—poetry MONTH. Because poetry is worth celebrating for approximately 30 days. So here are some San Francisco Neighborhood haiku, just in time for the tourist season. It's pretty much always tourist season in San Francisco and its surrounding environs, but spring and summer really bring it in a big way.

Nothing rolls out the red carpet quite like a series of haiku. At least in my estimation. Are you visiting San Francisco anytime soon? Take along these haikus and explore the wonders of 5-7-5-syllable travel.

landing in water
seems completely plausible
ha ha! Just kidding

Candlestick Park
freeway bay view park
wind blowing hotdog wrappers
baseball memories

The Upper Haight
Haight Ashbury sign
stolen again and again
boutiques sell their wares

The Lower Haight
do you need a drink?
or a falafel sandwich?
still affordable

The Castro
Rainbow flag above
an Art Deco movie house
welcome home, people

Dolores Park
Sunshine, royal palms
oops, I just tripped over
twelve fucking hipsters

Noe Valley
strollers, espresso
rolfing, yoga studios
and more: pilates

The Mission
when I was fifteen
my cousin brought me here
tacos from heaven

The Mission #2
dot-com boom brought change
invasion of the hipsters
higher-rent tacos

The Forgotten Zone
hello, Cow Palace
blocks away, Daly City
three o'clock windstorm

Golden Gate Park
greenery, horned owls
buffalo, model boat club
and sometimes a kid

Ocean Beach
whoa, whoa, whoa—don't go
in that wicked undertow
chill out, get windblown

The Hills of San Francisco
you're over the top
you're driving into the Bay!
ha ha! just kidding

The Marina
populated by
high school seniors all grown up
prom night royalty

North Beach
yeah, yeah, yeah, I know
this was a real neighborhood
good luck with parking

Golden Gate Bridge
iconic all right
made for crossing, not jumping
stick around, my friend

Bonus—Oakland haiku!
yes, visit Oakland!
New York Times gives the okay
organic sorbet

Photos are from the Playland at the Conservatory exhibit in Golden Gate Park (ends this week!) Be sure to visit.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Celebrity Apprentice Etch-A-Sketch Recap - Ep 7 - Walking Papers

Etch-A-Sketch is back and requires no batteries, Wi-Fi, or downloadable apps to work properly. So welcome to the Celebrity Apprentice Etch-A-Sketch recap. This was a double episode—more than three hours of Celebrity Apprentice on a night that also featured Mad Men and for those with premium cable, Game of Thrones. That's a shitload of decent TV. Imagine if Amazing Race had been scheduled as per usual. My head would have exploded. Even so, I could barely sleep later on Sunday night with all that television dancing around in my head.

For all its bulk, this was an entertaining outing for Trump dynasty productions. The first challenge was an NYC guide book sale that was based on how much money the teams could haul in. The best guide book would win a bonus, but fundraising was the main determiner for the winner. Dee Snider and Teresa Giudice stepped up as project managers.

With self-publishing on their minds, the women head into the city to photograph themselves in various locations. The men, figuring the fundraising is the main component of the challenge, head up to the roof of Trump Tower to lordly pose over different NYC neighborhoods. Lou Ferrigno briefly fantasizes about pushing Penn Jillette to the street below. I think he was kidding because he's laughing during this segment, but creative ventures can sometimes have that element of homicidal brainstorming as part of the process.

The women split up into factions with Lisa Lampanelli and Debbie Gibson snapping photos of themselves quickly, then heading back to the workroom to put it all together. Teresa, Dayana Mendoza and Aubrey O'Day are late, getting too caught up in their photos to help out on the editing phase. "GRRRRR!" say Lisa and Debbie, who scramble to complete the task and decorate their kiosk for the sale. Lisa truly despises Dayana at this point, telling her to shut up multiple times when Dayana suggests they write out subway directions for each location. Get some talent and some brains, interviews Lisa, making "yapping" motions with her hands, and maybe you'll amount to something. What kind of put-down is that for an insult comedian? I expect better. The men are moving things along in a jokey manner, as usual. Arsenio Hall gets Jay Leno on the phone and Jay promises to send over a blank check for the next day. That was nice.

Day of sale: the teams desperately hawk guidebooks and call friends and family to obtain more money. Penn has rounded up his partner, Teller, who donates $20,000, right there on the sidewalk. Then Penn leads the Blue Man Group down the street with their puppets and drums and they explode some giant balloons full of cash, causing complete pandemonium on the streets of New York, where celebrities and public alike scramble to gather bills to either donate or stuff down their pants and run away. Clay Aiken is PISSED about this, claiming he was punched in the face a couple of times trying to wrestle cash away from people. Penn shrugs it off as a moment of art meeting commerce. WHO was right? Exploding balloons of cash are fun but they do tend to disrupt the flow of charity a bit. Anyway, Clay and Penn pretty much hate each other.

Regis Philbin shows up to judge the quality of the guidebooks. He decides the women's book is more personal and colorful and so they're rewarded with an extra $35,000 donation. Even so, they lose to the men's team by $14. Looks like Clay taking punches to the head did pay off. Arsenio breathes a sigh of relief as his Leno check was held up in traffic so he brought no in dollars whatsoever. Dee wins $325,000 for his charity, The March of Dimes. He gets to hold a baby who was born prematurely when he presents the check. It's so sweet. Dee is my favorite Republican after Abraham Lincoln. That's the extent of my "favorite Republicans" list. You're in good company, Dee.

The women are left to claw at one another once again. Teresa brings back Dayana (as usual) and Debbie into the boardroom but Dayana is safe because she brought in a large amount of donations. Debbie brought in less and so she is abruptly fired. Just like that—Debbie Gibson is gone! Trump tells Teresa she should have brought back Aubrey because she brought in the least amount of money. So we might have been spared another episode with Aubrey, but that turns out to be OK because...

We pause for some Etch-A-Sketch portraiture.

Trump on the Zooper Sounds Etch-A Sketch, which looks like an 80s toy even though it came out in 1996. I can find very little documentation of the Zooper on the Internet, so I promise to make a film eventually featuring its bizarre array of boops, bleeps, blurps and electronic song snippets. I think of Trump as an 80s phenomenon so this is the Etch-A-Sketch of choice here.

"You're [*boop! beep-blurp! bliddle-bleee!*] fired!

Dee Snider - winner on Celebrity Apprentice, for now
In lieu of a portrait, I'll feature Gibson's epic "Electric Youth." I wish she'd write a sequel called "Acoustic Middle Age." I'd download that.

Onward to part 2—I'll be brief. This was a 'Walk with Walgreens' presentation and graphic photo-cube health event. Trump splits up the teams because the women are such losers. Aubrey and Teresa are with Arsenio, Clay and Paul Teutol, Sr. I forgot about Paul! He's hanging out under the radar. Dayana and Lisa are with Lou, Penn and Dee. Arsenio and Lou are team leaders. I'm sure Lou will flex his arms and give 110% as always.

Arsenio HATES Aubrey. Well, everyone but Lisa does, but Arsenio can barely contain his ire as Aubrey shoots out her multiple plans for Walgreens domination, takes a bad photo of Arsenio and calls him a "diva" when he tries to nix it, interviews that he better learn to like his face, wrinkles and all, because that's what he looks like, and suggests that his walking quote should be about how he walked away from his career. "But I don't mean it in a negative way," she clarifies as Arsenio glares at her with dagger eyes. Fun!

The presentations commence. Penn, on one hour of sleep after flying in from a show, accidentally says "Walmart" instead of Walgreens. "Not good," says Trump later in the boardroom. No truer words have ever been spoken by Donald Trump. Dee finds Dayana helpful, pleasant and intelligent, driving Lisa to a red-faced, pop-eyed fury that has me worried for Dayana's safety. Ultimately Dee is fired for making a lame Walk with Walgreens cube, for equating walking with words like 'scratching' and 'itching,' and for not giving 120% like Lou. One day you're on top and the next...wait, that's another reality show. Anyway, Arsenio holds his team together enough to win the challenge. He will receive a large check for The Magic Johnson Foundation—made more poignant when he breaks down over the recent death of his cousin from AIDS, which is terribly sad.

But I've skipped over the most intense moment (I guess—I never watched this show before) in Apprentice history when Arsenio does a complete take-down of Aubrey in the board room in front of Trump, Trump's offspring, both teams, and whatever is left of America watching after Mad Men and Game of Thrones have started. Perhaps the cloistered existence of reality TV living creates a vacuum where narcissistic personality disorders will not be tolerated by the slightly less narcissistic. Maybe Arsenio's family situation got to him. Maybe Aubrey just had it coming, but everything she says in the boardroom is countered with Arsenio's (correct) notion that "She puts the 'I' in team." Eventually, even Trump turns on her saying he's known people like her and some of them crash and burn. Ouchie! This clip is the aftermath of Arsenio's insistence that he spent the entire challenge just massaging her ego enough to get through to the win.

And so it goes. Portrait of Aubrey, just before she's character-assassinated and stalks off in a huff, claiming she can't take all the negativity. After weeks of her catty bitchery, I must say: that is typical.

Desperately over-achieving, psychotically ambitious young lass (an apt description from Simon Doonan's book, "Gay Men Don't Get Fat" - not specifically about Aubrey, just young overly ambitious interns in general, but it works for me.
Retro Arsenio Hall from the days of his show before he "walked away." Sorry about your hands here, Arsenio. Hands are tough, even when not drawn on an Etch-A-Sketch.

Retro Arseniooooo Haaaaallllllll! - winner on Celebrity Apprentice, for now

Monday, April 02, 2012

Daniel Clowes Exhibition Coming to The Oakland Museum

Fans of Eightball, Ghost World, Wilson, The Death-Ray, and so on: Daniel Clowes has his first museum show at the Oakland Museum of California this April 14 through August 12. Marvel at the technical artistry and storytelling prowess of one of the greatest comic book artists of all time. It's not hyperbole if it's true! Photos here.

Will Clowes' rich storytelling abilities come through in a gallery-setting art show? I'm not sure. Comic-book art tends to wow me on the page, where I can enjoy not only the lines, shadings and colors, but also the background perspectives, dialogue bubbles, narrative boxes with their fine, even lettering, plus the page-turning qualities of the storytelling. Looking at illustrations on a wall is an entirely different concept. Still, the monograph, The Art of Daniel Clowes: Modern Cartoonist, was compiled with his complete cooperation, according to the Museum site, so that's a good sign.

Dan takes the NY Times on a tour of his neighborhood columbarium in Oakland here. If you've never visited The Chapel of the Chimes, you really should go. They host jazz nights there. There's all kinds of happenings going on at the Chapel of the Chimes. It's a lively place, despite being a columberium. The Annual Summer Solstice Concert is something you will not soon forget.

"Nostalgia and Paranoia" - a 2002 documentary on Daniel Clowes.

Years ago I encountered Dan Clowes at a book signing. I had brought my copy of Eightball along and when I got up to the table, I admitted I couldn't decide where I wanted him to sign it—on the panel of a stand-in of himself, sitting at the back of a bookstore of a sparsely attended book signing while his protagonist, Enid Coleslaw, cowers in the shadows at the leering sight of him—or on the forehead of a bald, possible Satan worshiper that Enid secretly stalks through the streets of a Berkeley-like city.

"Well," said Daniel, fixing me with his laser eyes like a cobra on a rodent. "DECIDE!"

Instantly I ascertained that Daniel Clowes did not like me. Not at all. And I wasn't too sure I liked him either. I pointed to the dome of the Satan worshiper, where he signed his name very nicely. Then I scooted away quickly, without looking back—much like Enid Coleslaw herself. What a moment!

Here's a fresh-faced Dan Clowes interview from 1991 (at 3:10), talking about his early influences and Eightball. Back in the early 90s, Dan was the man. He still is. Kudos!

"Ghost World" trailer, from the screenplay written by Daniel Clowes and Terry Zwigoff. This is perhaps the best trailer (of a damn fine film) made in the past two decades. A rare coming-of-age movie about girls worth watching.

"Art School Confidential," the second collaboration between Zwigoff and Clowes, made decent hash of the bullshit inherent in an art school education, but lost me on the noir aspects of the plot. Still—John Malkovhich! Always worth a look-see. Definitely get your hands on the comic, acerbic satire of the highest caliber.

Do yourself a favor. Go to your local comic book store and buy a bunch of Daniel Clowes books. Keep the economy running while enhancing your existence. A panel from Ghost World.