Friday, June 12, 2015

Limerick Friday LXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXIV: FIFA Empties Itself Of Sepp’s Blatter, Plus A Hectic NBA Finals

FIFA an utter disgrace, you say
Headlines bash soccer all day
Corruption was always known
The story that’s hidden alone
Is why Hope Solo is allowed to play

In the Keys, secrets, murder and booze
The biggest liar is hard to choose
“Bloodline” reeled me in with its trailer
Led by a chunky Coach Taylor
Red eyes, broken hearts, can’t lose

Insults they were hurled
As LeBron danced and twirled
A battle of have-nots and haves
An Aussie propels the Cavs
As Mozgov dunks on the world

Friday, June 05, 2015

Limerick Friday LXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXVXXXIII: Now What Will Local “Media” Do To Defend The University Of No Control?

The allegations read
Words to be dread
By every Tar Hole
Lack of Institutional Control
“Burn it down,” they said

A seven-run lead
With five outs to bleed
Then a meltdown from hell
Bad karma, alive and well
NC State Shit, indeed

They tried to play coy
Exhausted every ploy
The cover-ups kinda worked
‘Til Willingham twerked
Will they finally shit-can Ol’ Roy?

The low point of the sports year
Punctuated by a yawn and a beer
But summer has arrove
Beach-goers in droves
Family time is finally here

Friday, May 29, 2015

Limerick Friday LXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXVXXXII: Summer Reruns Lead To Cinematic Revelations, Plus Pack9 Chases Rings

Portrayed on the silver screen
The Village folk scene
“Inside Llewyn Davis” for the win
The Coen Brothers did it again
Oscar Isaac, poignant and serene

Cleveland vs. Golden State
That’s the rumor, at any rate
LeBron vs. Steph Curry
But still, I’m in no hurry
To watch these games on so late

Here comes springtime cleaning
Of possessions, I’ll be weaning
But you stumble across
Things you just can’t toss
Boxes full of memories and meaning

Spying that can’t be quantified
On Snowden, “Citizenfour” testified
A whistleblower’s plight televised
Had me completely mesmerized
But also, more than a little terrified
With a title they were flirting
Missing out had them hurting
The Pack Nine like a shooting star
So close, yet so far
Is State’s perpetual burden

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Subversive Comedy Amidst The Mothballs: How Dave Letterman Became My Comedic Hero

In my early teen years, I spent many hours lying on the floor of my bedroom closet, watching “Late Night with David Letterman.”

Let me explain.

Back then, you see, Letterman’s show came on at 12:30 a.m., after Carson. My parents thought that seemed a little late to be staying up, especially for someone who had the appalling nerve to sleep past 8 a.m. on occasion as it is.

So I got all McGyver down at the Radio Shack. I found a black & white TV in the garage that probably last showed “I Love Lucy,” strung coax cable underneath my bedroom carpet, into the closet, behind a small cutout door, and into an attic extension/storage area. I hooked up the TV, pummeled it several times, and was in business. I mean, I could sort of tell it was a person talking on a decrepit TV—but the audio was loud and clear.

This all seemed important to me. Because Letterman was this comedic force that had blasted everything you thought was rote about late-night TV in specific and comedy in general right out of the water. Here was this gangly, gap-toothed awkward figure who seemed to be ill-suited for the medium and looked like no one you’d ever seen on TV.

But this goofy-looking Midwesterner was raw, unfiltered, original comedy in physical form. He asked the questions no one else would, he ego-checked the celebrities that no one else dared, he Velcroed himself to things that no one else considered, he threw things from heights that no one else wanted to. He was Uncle Dave, a buzz-drunk prankster out to impress the neighborhood kids—and piss off the HOA at the same time.

Letterman became this anti-establishment cult figure, not just pushing the envelope, but dousing it with gasoline, lighting it on fire, taping Rolaids to it, and seeing if it would float. He commandeered his show with barely disguised disdain, as if someone forced him to host a late-night show, so he figured he would keep pressing buttons and spinning dials until someone got up enough energy to fire him.

The Atlantic dubbed his style “alternative comedy,” with David Sims writing that “In his earlier days, Letterman came across as someone who had stolen a camera crew and broken into an empty studio.”

In those earlier days, he also had a contempt of marketing façade and publicist-created celebrities, and he could slice, dice, and essentially end careers with his on-air interviews. He mellowed considerably after his open-heart surgery and the birth of his son, but he never slowed down—fast, clever, and timely with his on-the-fly remarks to the end.

Oh, he was fallible; make no mistake. He was overly acerbic at times, was an admitted alcoholic, and tended toward self-flagellation. He creeped a bit too hard on young actresses and later owned up to taking advantage of his position by sleeping with subordinates. He must have come close to losing his gig more times than anyone truly realizes.

But through it all, he never pretended to be anything other than a hick from Indiana who woke up every morning thinking, “How the hell did I get a TV show?” He changed the tone, tenor, and look of comedy, and his impact was felt in all corners of entertainment. During his stretch run, I was blown away by how many big names were moved to tears by Letterman’s impact on the course of their lives—from Adam Sandler to Ray Romano to Jimmy Kimmel to Norm Macdonald to Conan O’Brien.

“He was the North Star for me and every comic of my generation,” said O’Brien.

Personally, I always saw Letterman through the lens of generational conflict. My Mom didn’t like him; found him too coarse, too sardonic, too mean-spirited. He belonged to the rebellious youth, all rumpled with a too-long tie and unscripted barbs, while Jay Leno was your parents’ choice—the staid, polite-chuckle presence, a cue-card reader, milquetoast in a pressed suit. Half out of exasperation and half out of my ability to make her laugh, my Mom often suggested I consider writing for late-night TV; now that she’s passed, in my heart of hearts, I know she really meant, “Go write for David Letterman.”

But writing took me in a different direction, and I’ll have to settle for living vicariously through Letterman as my comedic hero. And maybe I’ve mellowed like Dave over the years, a husband and father of two more likely to watch “Doc McStuffins” than toss a microwave filled with marbles off an office roof.

Part of me, though, will always be on the floor of that closet, awash in black and white, breaking the rules of the house to watch a one-man laugh revolution break all the rules of comedy. Waiting to be discovered by my parents. Waiting for the renegade camera crew to show up. Waiting for Uncle Dave to do something outrageous.

Waiting for one last laugh that’ll always be just out of reach … yet never completely lost.

Thanks, Dave. I’ll leave the closet light on for you.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Limerick Friday LXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXVXXXI: From B.B. To M.M., From Yepremian To Letterman, A Week Of Difficult Farewells

Emotionally heart-rending show
Perhaps too tied up like a bow
Found himself in his chi
Inspiration found him by the sea
Sad to see Draper and “Mad Men” go

Undisputed king of the blues
Crestfallen at the B.B. King news
Transcendent with your Lucille
You made every listener feel
What a treasure to lose

To marketers everywhere it spoke
When advertising was less of a joke
And at the very end
You might say of “Mad Men”
It was an eight-year ad for Coke

A bald little kicker he was
Loved him like every Fin fan does
Was funny enough to get away
With a Super Bowl boneheaded play
Gary Yepremian will be missed by us

A self-described Indiana hick
Pulled off a stupid pet trick
Of course, the top 10 list
Among what will be missed
Of Dave Letterman’s original schtick

Friday, May 15, 2015

Limerick Friday LXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXVXXX: The Hammer Falls On The Deflatriots, Plus “Mad Men” Ponders Painful Farewell

A collection of cheating tools
With zero respect for the rules
Brady got held to the fire
For being a habitual liar
Belicheat plays the NFL for fools

As the days dwindle past
Denial has set in fast
The Letterman finale is near
For an icon we hold so dear
Let’s make every punchline last

A pitching staff to be feared
But an offense that’s disappeared
Young arms carry the Mets
But bats as bad as it gets
First place does feel kinda weird

A Pete-Trudy happy ending
Walkabout Don’s fate is impending
Peggy is off on her own
No mention of Roger or Joan
Betty’s lung cancer a bit heart-rending

Will he finally be Dick Whitman?
Will we see Megan again?
Will Roger stick with Marie Calvet?
Will Ken have his final say?
Hoping it’ll make us remember when

Friday, May 08, 2015

Limerick Friday LXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXVXXIX: “Mad Men” Chases The Contrails, Plus Shhhhhhh … The Mets Are Still A Thing

Don turns into Dean Moriarty
Roger’s empty-office drunken party
The strands beginning to unravel
Separate ways they start to travel
“Mad Men,” for the sentimental and hearty

A solid draft for the ‘Fins
Making up for previous sins
Firepower at wideout
Playmakers throughout
Now, who will coach them to wins?

A Pacquiao-Mayweather whatever
One more boring endeavor
Pacquiao fought with a bum shoulder
Mayweather danced and got older
Now can Floyd go away forever?

From the team that brought you Spygate
Now comes the art of deflate
Documented cheating yet again
Belicheat breaks rules to win
Goodell covers it up, just wait

The Mets keep bubbling along
Winning just feels kinda wrong
Have hit a few rough patches
Seem to go scoreless in batches
But steady on is their theme song