Writing
South Africa Officially Says Its Best Show is the One I Write Jokes For

Huge congratulations to Puppet Nation on its near sweep of the TV comedy categories at the 2015 South African Film and Television Awards yesterday. The political satire with puppets — for which I’ve contributed American segments since 2013, like this one and this one — raked in a huge seven awards from 10 nominations, meaning that right now seven evil extraterrestrial tyrants are embarrassingly trying to menace Flash Gordon with tipless scepters. Among the show’s wins were awards for directing, design, and the biggie: Best TV Comedy. Sadly the small minority of losses included the writing award. I take full responsibility for that. It’s because I insisted on having Vladimir Putin say “leathery ass cheeks:”

I Read Uber’s New Magazine for Drivers So You Don’t Have To

Momentum - The Magazine for Uber PartnersAmerica’s leading pleonexia concern, the evil Objectivist “ride-sharing” service Uber, has issued a glossy, full-color fuck you to its drivers in the form of Momentum, “The Magazine for Uber Partners.” This sub-airline-grade magazine comprises a tight 15 pages, not coincidentally the perfect size for Uber’s exploited non-employees to roll and shove right up their asses.

Uber — whose myriad inequities I’ve chronicled, and whose services you should never, ever engage, even if you’re stuck rideless in the middle of a blizzard today, especially if you’re stuck rideless in the middle of a blizzard today, because the company’s “surge pricing” policy will wrap you in the welcoming warming comfort of a $450 bill for a three-mile ride — has demonstrated its utterly backwards priorities in this latest suck-up to the “driver partners” it abuses.

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I’m Unemployed, But I Still Pay the Artists Who Work With Me. Why Can’t This Hollywood Mogul?
photo by https://www.flickr.com/people/vagueonthehow/ target="_blank">vagueontheshow

photo © vagueonthehow

The Internet it buzzes this morning about a “bootleg James Bond” video by producer Adi Shankar, creator of other “fan” videos based on copyright properties, including a Power Rangers homage/parody/rip-off that’s garnered 18 million play-presses. The premise for “James Bond: In Service of Nothing” actually sounds fascinating for a committed pan-media Bond-liker such as me: 1I do, after all, even have a 007 tag on my blog. a retired 007 struggles to figure out how to live when he no longer has to kill. I don’t know if the short lives up to the premise, though, because it’s already been yoinked from YouTube due to a (valid) copyright complaint from MGM.

But that doesn’t matter, because I’m less interested in Adi Shankar’s movie than I am in something he said to Deadline Hollywood while promoting it:

[Shankar] said it was done mainly with all volunteer work, favors and an animation collective. He said the costs were minimal. “When people are passionate about something, they just want to do it,” he told Deadline. “These are the same models that these digital artists are doing. They are doing things for the collective good.”

Adi not only didn’t pay the artists who worked on his movie, he also thinks asking people to work for free for his betterment is a legitimate business model.

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1. I do, after all, even have a 007 tag on my blog.
How to Mail Something
Nancy the Maildog

Nancy the Maildog, courtesy of Kara Vallow

For those of us over the age of 30, mailing a letter is a task as mentally hardwired as dialing a phone or strangling a saber-toothed tiger with our bare hands. We often used to do all three at once. The same isn’t true for those under 20. I’ve on at least three occasions seen bewildered teenagers standing in the post office, envelope in hand, looking as helpless as children left behind at a rest stop. And I’ve heard firsthand accounts of university student workers frantically googling what the hell to do with a vital piece of mail they’ve been tasked to dispatch. This post is a public service for the youth of today. Be not embarrassed, young ones! And fellow elders, criticize not young ones for their ignorance! We shouldn’t expect a teenager today to know how to send mail anymore than we as teenagers should’ve been expected to know how to send a telegram. If you care why I think that, you can read this footnote, 1First of all, remember that digital communication largely supplanted letters and cards before today’s teenagers were born, certainly before they were literate. Now think of what you yourself still use the postal service for. Business documents? Government forms? The occasional bill? Christmas cards? Packages? None of those are things that someone under 20 has reason to deal with. (I don’t think I mailed a bill payment before I turned 18, with the exception of my subscriptions to the Columbia House Record Club and The Uncanny X-Men.) So it’s not at all surprising that a young person would never have mailed something before leaving for college or getting a job. It’s unfair and unrealistic for us to expect them to understand a service they’ve never encountered. I was taught how to use the mail in elementary school, but if I had children today, I’d prefer that lesson time be spent on something more relevant to our time, say how to keep themselves and their personal information safe online. but if you’re dripping panic tears onto an empty envelope, just keep scrolling. 2Note that this guide only applies to sending mail within the United States. International mail requires extra work. If you’d like to send something to another country, I suggest checking with your local post office or the Postal Service’s web site.

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1. First of all, remember that digital communication largely supplanted letters and cards before today’s teenagers were born, certainly before they were literate. Now think of what you yourself still use the postal service for. Business documents? Government forms? The occasional bill? Christmas cards? Packages? None of those are things that someone under 20 has reason to deal with. (I don’t think I mailed a bill payment before I turned 18, with the exception of my subscriptions to the Columbia House Record Club and The Uncanny X-Men.) So it’s not at all surprising that a young person would never have mailed something before leaving for college or getting a job. It’s unfair and unrealistic for us to expect them to understand a service they’ve never encountered. I was taught how to use the mail in elementary school, but if I had children today, I’d prefer that lesson time be spent on something more relevant to our time, say how to keep themselves and their personal information safe online.
2. Note that this guide only applies to sending mail within the United States. International mail requires extra work. If you’d like to send something to another country, I suggest checking with your local post office or the Postal Service’s web site.
NotFoolingAnybody.com Lives!

Hat Creek in Austin, TXOn May 3, 2012 I drove past Michelle’s Donut House on Santa Monica Blvd., a hilariously mangled former Winchells Donut House. I snapped a picture and then lamented on this blog that I couldn’t submit it to the long-lived but defunct Internet chronicle of such beautifully stupid storefront conversions, Not Fooling Anybody. Well, today I can. Not Fooling Anybody lives, and lazy entrepreneurs should not sleep well at night.

I daydreamed in that post about taking over and resurrecting NFA, but it turned out that its founder Liz Clayton had never given up on the site. She just needed a hand to resurrect it after a hacking and guide it into the twentyohteens. So I lent her one, and this week NotFoolingAnybody.com stepped out of its limo onto the red carpet (discreetly covering its personal area) just in time for its tenth anniversary.

The site now features 171 joy-inducingly awful repurposings, captured by an intrepid group of rangers from across North America. A couple of my favorites are below, but I encourage you to improve your day by perusing all 171. Better yet, submit your own. Any of my Milwaukee readers want to grab a shot of Siva Truck Rental and Leasing on W. St. Paul Ave.? It’s the place with the backwards Avis sign.

See some hilarious crap →

Which of You Canadians Wants to Pay Me to Write the Annotated 007?

Well, Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels are now public domain in Canada. We grungy Americans won’t get our hands on them until 2059 and even Fleming’s fellow Brits have to wait until another 20 years, but the laws of the Great White North, along with nationalizing an entire strain of bacon, mandate that books enter the public domain 50 years after the death of the author. It’s been just over that long since 007 creator collapsed and died after dinner at the Royal St George’s Golf Club.

So if you’re an American who wants to spite sentient jalapeño popper Rush Limbaugh, who dimwittedly insists that Idris Elba can’t become the next cinematic 007 — despite being the first choice of Sony Pictures co-chairman Amy Pascal and many Bond fans — because Elba is black and the literary Bond is white, now’s your chance to move to Vancouver to write and publish a 007 novel in which James is a towering Anglo-African with a six-song hip-hop EP. 1While I think Elba would make a great Bond, I wonder what Rushtopher would think of my current first choice for the part: Anglo-Indian actor Raza Jaffrey, most recently seen as Pakistani intelligence officer Aasar Khan on Homeland.

More importantly, now’s the chance for a Canadian publisher to hire me to write The Complete Annotated Ian Fleming’s 007. I meet at least the minimum requirements of having read all the books and possessing a valid library card. There’s no belletristic job I’d rather take on, and it seems only fair to throw me a bone since another Jewish TV writer, Anthony Horowitz, not only was selected to write the newest authorized Bond novel but also authored Moriarty, a Sherlock Holmes book sanctioned by the Conan Doyle estate. Since Horowitz now has control of two of my favorite fictional characters, and therefore it’s only a matter of time before he becomes the next showrunner of Doctor Who while writing the Indiana Jones reboot and tongue-kissing the ghost of Anita Ekberg, I don’t feel like I’m asking too much. 2As envious as I am that one writer landed both of those gigs, it’s not unprecedented. John Gardner, who wrote the first post-Fleming 007 novels and actually authored more than the man himself, also wrote three Moriarty novels.

To prove my devotion to this project and enthusiasm for all things north of North Dakota, I’ve compiled a list of hilariously named actual Canadian newspapers:

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1. While I think Elba would make a great Bond, I wonder what Rushtopher would think of my current first choice for the part: Anglo-Indian actor Raza Jaffrey, most recently seen as Pakistani intelligence officer Aasar Khan on Homeland.
2. As envious as I am that one writer landed both of those gigs, it’s not unprecedented. John Gardner, who wrote the first post-Fleming 007 novels and actually authored more than the man himself, also wrote three Moriarty novels.
This is a 1968 Mercedes-Benz 250S

It didn’t work. I fixed it.

 
I’ve only been trying my hand at car repair for a couple of years, and this is the first car that didn’t run that I brought back to life. It involved removing and rebuilding two carburetors more complexly designed than the toilets in the International Space Station, not to mention replacing the fuel pump and fuel line, all without a garage and without really knowing what I was doing. It also involved several tows while the car was comatose in temporary no parking zones instated by the city of Los Angeles, likely just to spite me.

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