Growing Up With South Park

I distinctly remember the first time I watched South Park. Bundled up in my bed at around 10:10 on a Saturday night, I flipped on Comedy Central to see this bizarre, low-res animation show featuring a fat, angry child who wanted to be abducted by aliens. I was confused but obviously intrigued. After watching wide-eyed for a few minutes, I started screaming for my mom to come into the room and share in the fun. Odd, isn’t it? While this was the same woman who refused to let me play Mortal Kombat or watch Beavis and Butthead, she also gave me my first good taste of comedy, sitting me down for Marx Brothers movies, I Love Lucy, and her reluctant acceptance of my love for The Simpsons. I wasn’t looking for approval as a parent, but rather as a lover of comedy.

She rushed in, sat on my bed next to me, and watched. Seeing her vacillate between abject horror and gut-busting laughter made me question what was more entertaining: her reactions or the show itself. While I was dying at every joke, she was still on the fence (both as a parent and a consumer of comedy, I’m sure). Then Kyle asked Ike to do his impression of David Caruso’s career. She nearly fall off the bed. I sat there, confused. It was that moment that cemented South Park as must-see television. Sure, there were great, funny jokes, but it also had stuff that went over my head, things I had to search out to understand. Comedy Central ran the next three episodes of the first season in a mini-marathon and we both watched, enthralled. My mom kept reiterating that she should leave, but never made a move for the door. Her better judgment keeping her where she needed to be.

It is my most indelible memory of sixth grade.

Since that time, I’ve gone into and through middle school, entered high school, got my license, decided I wanted to become a filmmaker (no doubt through the influence of shows as brilliant as this one), graduated, attended Boston University, fell in love with a girl, dated her for two years, broke up, turned 21, graduated college, and am currently in New York trying to become a TV writer myself at 25, nearly the same age as when Matt Stone and Trey Parker made their animated Christmas card “The Spirit of Christmas” for producer Brian Graden, which led to this very show. Looking back, that’s a staggering amount of time for me.

Imagine what it must feel like for Matt and Trey.

Continue reading “Growing Up With South Park”

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Charlie’s #winning, We’re Losing

Malcolm Gladwell’s novel Blink proposes that we don’t nearly give our gut instinct the proper amount of credit.  After seeing something over and over again our brains become conditioned to almost instantaneously figure out a conclusion.  This explains why seasoned baseball fans stay in their seats while others jump up at the sight of a fly ball; they know what a home run ball looks like right off the bat, why drivers can tell which cars are angling to cut them off, and why we watch movies and criticize computer-generated imagery as being fake, because we have a lifetime of experience of seeing things that are real.  In nanoseconds, we can suss out real versus fake, danger versus safety.

But if that’s the case, and we are a consumer base that has watched an incredible amount of “reality” television, how can we not tell what’s real or what’s fake?  Why can’t we differentiate between “Charlie Sheen,”  the wacky character and Charlie Sheen, the broken-down addict?

Continue reading “Charlie’s #winning, We’re Losing”

Top 10: Simpsons Episodes

Everyone loves a good Top 10 list, right?  With this in mind, my good friend Ryan Lambert, he of The Two-Line Pass blog and a writer for Yahoo’s Puck Daddy hockey blog, recently took it upon himself to come up with “the best” ten episodes of “The Simpsons” ever made.  Considering he is quite the “Simpsons” aficionado, this has to be the best ten period, right?  Enjoy, and debate the list’s merits in the comments….

Recently I had a discussion with a friend of mine about what is the best Simpsons episode. We could not come to an agreement, as, I’m sure, could most people who are deeply devoted fans to a show that has been on television since 1989.

But “The Simpsons” has a somewhat unique problem: Any show that has been on television for 20-plus years is going to turn bad at some point, and while many fans may disagree with me, I personally find that point to be at the conclusion of its eighth, and greatest season. There are some highlights in Seasons 9 and 10. There are none, that I’ve seen, after that.  [Ed. note:  this is 100% unadulterated fact] Continue reading “Top 10: Simpsons Episodes”

Analyzing CNN

Finding the news isn’t getting any easier for us.  As our pathways to information get broader every day, our inability to decipher what’s real and what’s fake or what’s fact and what’s opinion grows at the same rate.  It’s quite the paradox:  our reach has never been wider and our intelligence has never been questioned more.  We get pandered to, yelled at, and told how to think, what to think, and when to think it.  This movement is exacerbated–possibly caused exclusively by–the cable news networks, a group of channels who use the term “news” as a placard to bring you in, but rarely produce on that promise.

I glean this knowledge from experience.  This past Tuesday, I took the plunge and devoted literally half a day towards watching CNN’s coverage of the day’s news and events.  The Cable News Network is the network of record, the bastardized New York Times of cable news, and, in the interest of objectivity, my network of choice when I follow big news events.  I’m not proud of this fact.  After mainlining the stuff like I was Bubbles on The Wire, let me tell you, I’m damn near ashamed of this fact.  Continue reading “Analyzing CNN”

Losing My Sanity (And Watching 12 Hours Of CNN)

So the day has finally come.  Buoyed by my trip to DC for the Stewart/Colbert rally and a challenge (of sorts) from On The DL Podcast‘s (among other places) Dan Levy, I’m about to watch twelve straight hours of CNN.  Why?  Because I love news.  Well, that combined by with how little I enjoy 24 hours news.  It’s a sensationalist trap of fear tactics and sweeping camera pans, and I’d love to see just how deep that hole is that CNN has put itself in.

Throughout the day, I’ll update this post on my status and with some short quips about the shows, the hosts, etc. with an eye to do a fully-damning report tomorrow on my entire experience.  I have two giant white boards with which to work on and keep track of numbers – and holy hell are there going to be a lot of numbers.  Call me a news sabremetrician.  I’ll essentially be live blogging 24 hours news…which, if done in all seriousness, might be the worst idea ever.  So I’ll try to keep it light.  For example, did you know Wolf Blitzer’s beard takes up 10% of his total body mass? Continue reading “Losing My Sanity (And Watching 12 Hours Of CNN)”

Postponment

I have unfortunately been called in to work today directly in the middle of my planned CNN marathon that was to begin in a few minutes.  Because of this obvious kick in the pants of my schedule, the CNN experience will have to be done next Tuesday.  Same rules apply – 11 AM to 11 PM, nothing but CNN (and tears…many, many tears).  Hope you’ll all come around next week.

Now, to re-read the first half of a first draft.  A 1/2 draft?  I might make up for this with two posts tomorrow – we’ll see if my brain can cash that, uh, mouth check.

CNN…at least for half a day

A week or two ago, I was listening to the On The DL Podcast, a show that talks about sports, the media’s involvement in sports, and the media in general, and the show’s host, Dan Levy, was discussing a recent trip to jury duty.  The poor bastard forgot his headphones, so he was forced to watch an ungodly amount of CNN as he sat and waited to say he was a racist and wanted no part of that case (isn’t that what we’re all conditioned to regardless of what the case is about?).  When he went on his show the next day, Dan implored that someone should take 24 hours and watch just how truly awful CNN is.  Well, I’m not that man.  I’m going to be the guy who puts in 12 hours. Continue reading “CNN…at least for half a day”