Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The End

So, I know there has been a severe drop-off in posts as of late and I keep getting asked about what I'm doing blog-wise and otherwise. In short, I've had an almost cartoonish string of bad luck that all culminated into me being sidelined due to a car accident. Right now, things are okay (i.e. I can still move, talk, and type) but the experience itself as well as several other happenstances before and after have hindered my ability to freely write.

Which leads to what am I to do with this blog. Well, for starters, this blog is no longer going to exist in its current incarnation. I may blank out most of it and repost some of the better pieces in a new version. I've also spun off and started working on other writing and comedy projects so that 2010 can be "THE YEAR." I don't know if this will actually come to pass, but whatever.

In the meantime, you can use this blog as a way of finding out what shows I'm doing each week. I'm going to use this as an informal calendar until I figure out what I really want to write about. And as of today I'm erasing all the older blogs that I thought didn't work, or weren't representative of my stuff. Thanks again for reading. Oh...and if you know of anyone hiring a writer, please email me and let me know.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Sex Vets or I Just Want To Get Back To Doing Something Useful

So I know what everyone’s thinking: What happened? I had been faithful and devoted to the blog, then went off on a tangent about comics, then went off another random tangent before quitting entirely for a month. I’ve been having a “Wonder Boys” moment as of late, where I had to take a step back and realize I haven’t really been writing. I’d like to say I was “doing life research” instead but that’s a bit of a copout. I do have notes though. I’m not going to bore the internet by writing about trying to write. But I just updated my Twitter for the first time in 16 days, and I want to say that…I getting there. Where there is, I don’t know, there isn’t a road map to my life right now. But I’m getting out of the rotary, so there’s a start.

Anyway, this is a piece (slightly abridged) that wrote a while ago. It’s probably not relevant to everyone, but again it’s a start and it’s something that’ll help me formulate my own ideas again, instead of obsessively reading other people’s. Sidenote: I wrote this in college where everything's gender-neutral. So there.

WWE: The Sex-Vets

In life, and especially in college, you will find that there are people who have mastered the fine art of promiscuity. They possess an acute sexual radar, own several outfits designed to maximize their availability, and can disrobe at a moment’s notice. You would think that these people exude sexual confidence, that they know exactly what they’re doing. The harsh truth is that these people aren’t necessarily comfortable with their sexualities. They’re probably just sex-veterans.

“What is a sex vet?” you ask. And moreover, what makes them different from sluts? Sex veterans aren’t out to have the best time possible; they’re really out to fill a void (no pun intended). See at the core of it all, all sex-vets seek to pay it forward, to right some sort of vindication.

Here it is: the birth of a sex-vet. Please feel free to stop me if you’ve heard this story before. With the help of some social lubrication (i.e. alcohol), you meet someone. You proceed to have a sexual encounter. You question your behavior and motivations the day after. Some time passes and you inadvertently meet this person again. There is another sexual episode. Feelings begin to blossom: they take root, sprout leaves, develop a healthy green stem. A deliberate third encounter happens and things seem on track. You want this “thing” to be out in the open; you invite the person to do something during the day. No response. Cut to a week or two later—you’re told that this isn’t working out. Common phrases include: “It’s not you, it’s me” or “This isn’t a good time in my life to settle down” or “I’m sorry but I have to be a [pejorative word here] about this.”

This leaves two options, which aren’t necessarily exclusive. Option 1: spend some time in the realm of depression, abusing substances (be it food or drugs) and listening to whiny music until a better prospect comes along. Option 2: Re-invent yourself, refine your radar and proceed to hook up without discretion. If you’ve chosen Option 2, congratulations, you’re on your way to becoming a sex veteran.

So you’ve picked Option 2 and you’re nerves are still raw. You are in extreme rebound mode and your friends have advised you against doing some rash. Against your better judgment, you down a couple of shots and notice the girl/guy/trans across the room you vaguely recognize from that Introduction to Religion class. You two end up talking about nothing in particular, but up the sexual tension to epic proportions. A surge of confidence runs through you; you make a move. And the next thing you know, you’re leaving the party, arm-in-arm with your reset button. Something happens (possibly sex, but your mileage may vary), you wake up relieved. After all, someone found you attractive enough to put her tongue in your mouth. Then the doubt sets in. “Am I really that hot? Could I get away with this again?”

Thus the sex-vet is born. Like a vampire, he lives to prey on intimacy. He raises his guard, makes sure to develop only the skills necessary to capture and ensnare a potential hook-up. He spends weeks obsessing about why he is unloved and yet is incapable of truly loving another. He cannot look at himself in the mirror. God forbid he actually takes a hard look at himself and realizes that (gasp!) he is actually as hurt about his former rejection as he feared.

Why are all these emotions being brought up now? This actually has nothing to do with me. To be completely honest, this is a topic that would fit better if I were still in college. And yet this sort of thing does still happen in the real world. I just spent an hour listening to a friend complain about how he was completely stood up by a girl he went on two wonderful dates with. Before that I was talking to a sex-vet about her dating policies. About multiple-night stands she said: “It’s okay if we hook up twice, but beyond that I feel like you’re just stifling me.”

Well I guess I chose this topic because for all you other vamps out there, hiding from the light, you’re not alone. Everyone goes through the cycle of vengeance and uncertainty associated with the sex-vet status. Even I was converted for about a year (and no I will not share any of my escapades). I will tell you this: instead of finding a warm body, buy yourself a teddy bear and some ice cream. Take stock of your life and figure what you really want. Look before you leap into the arms of a possibly crazy person. And never, ever resort to watching Lifetime; it's too cliche.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Review: Family Guy 7.14 - We Love You Conrad

I just finished watching Family Guy's "We Love You Conrad." And it's actually pretty good. I have to admit I'm of those die-hard Family Guy fans-turned-haters. I used to really like Family Guy, and I'm still impressed that the show managed to come back on the air after two years of cancellation. But the last couple of seasons have been pretty weak. The jokes are too obvious or too outrageous to be funny anymore. And there's too much soap-boxing; we get it, Seth, apparently conservatives are evil. But this episode is refreshingly different.

Now I can't say I'm a fan of Lauren Conrad at all, and depending on how well you know her, your enjoyment of this episode may vary. The only thing I know about Lauren Conrad is that she's a reality star on some silly saga on MTV and she's very freakishly blond. I came into it thinking, "Oh great another false idol socialite." But, it was refreshing to see her act, and against the stereotypical vapid LA girl type.

What really hooked me in to the episode is that "We Love You Conrad" actually has a salient plot and maintains it for twenty-two minutes. It's not as ADD as the other eps have been and the show greatly benefits for it. Plus it's nice to see some advancement on the Brian-Jillian break-up angle. She get's some really classic exchanges - "Oh God are my nuptials showing? It's a very thin bra" is funny as is:

Jillian: He also speaks Orange.
Derrick: Mandarin, sweetie.
Jillian: Mandolin.

The gags in the show are strong. The praying mantis joke legitimately made me laugh and the Desiree bit was enjoyable. And I can't help but like the dig at Sting. Overall, it's a step in the right direction, it's not overly spectacular, but it does capture the unique humor that made Family Guy such a hit show when it re-started its episodes on Fox. 6 Cs out of 7.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Best. 90s Movie. Ever: Batman Returns

First off, a belated send-off to Batman, who as you may or may not know, had suffered a comic book death this January 2009. In honor of the Dark Knight's legacy, I have to discuss one of my favorite Batman movies. And no, I'm not talking about the Dark Knight Returns or batman Begins.

I mean Batman Returns, baby! (1992)

That movie has to rank up there as one of the best superhero movies of our time, as well as one of the best of movies of the 1990s. Between the macabre elements, the deranged characters, the ridiculously gratuitous leather and the dialogue, the movie appeals to so many of my senses. Apropos of nothing (and because I need another blog entry for May), here are my top five favorite quotes from the movie, courtesy of Wikiquotes.

(5) Penguin: [after a failed attempt to kill Batman] He didn't even lose a limb! An eyeball! Bladder control!

(4) Selina Kyle: It's always the so-called "normal" guys that let you down. Sickos never scare me. At least they're committed.

(3) Penguin's Henchman: I mean killing sleeping children...isn't that a little...(Penguin shoots him)
Penguin: No! IT'S A LOT! (kicks the dead henchman into the sewage river)

(2) Batman: Mistletoe can be deadly if you eat it.
Catwoman: But a kiss can be even deadlier if you mean it.

(1) Catwoman: [after Batman hits her] How could you? I'm a woman! [Batman lets his guard down and she attacks] As I was saying, I'm a woman...and can't be taken for granted. Life's a bitch; now so am I.

RIP: Batman (although DC will probs bring you back in 20 issues...)

Nearly Forgot To Advertise: Nouveau Poor Show @ Comix This Friday!!

The line-up may change slightly but the talent, it is strong! Oh, and this has no cover and only a 1-item minimum. Er, and it's not in the basement of a strange-smelling bar, sooooooo really there's no excuse at all for you to not come. Besides, I'll be famous some day (in this decade).

Nouveau Poor: Entertainment For The Financially Insecure

Friday, May 22nd 2009
Comix (Ochi’s Lounge downstairs)
7:00 PM - 8:30 PM

Hosted and produced by:
Calvin S. Cato (Game Show Network, Stand-Up New York, Naked Comedy Show)

With comedy by:
Michelle Buteau (VH1, MTV, Oxygen’s Girls Behaving Badly, NBC’s Last Comic Standing)
Leighann Lord (HBO, Comedy Central, Fox News’s Strategy Room, contributor to Huffington Post)
Ken Perlstein (Eastville Comedy Club, The Laugh Factory)
Jeff Cerulli (Sirius Satellite Radio, Broadway Comedy Club)
Jenny Rubin (Comix’s The Back Room, Chicks and Giggles)

And music by:
Josefin Fundin (Swedish musician featured at Sidewalk Café)
Jamie Scandal (New York Ukulele Cabaret)

No cover, 1-item minimum. For more info, please visit: http://www.comixny.com/ochislounge.aspx#poor.

Comix | 353 West 14th Street
(between 8th and 9th Avenue)

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

What's In A Name

If you are an up-and-coming entertainer, it is a well-established fact that you will Google yourself at least 8 times a day. In the course of said internet searches, there will always be one person who either has your name or a very similar name who seems to be neck and neck with you as you vie for the top spot. My Google nemesis is Kelvin Cato. He’s a basketball player who’s been around for a while but is now a free agent. His career isn’t particular stellar (I could probably beat him) and it’s frustrating because we have such similar names that googling “Calvin Cato” will pull up articles about him or message boards saying “Calvin Cato sucks at b-ball and life.” Granted I have a small but critical fanbase, but come on people, start searching for me and clicking on my relevant shit.

Why I’m angry is that I had stupidly used this Google feature through my Gmail to up my blog to the number one spot on the page thinking that, “Hey if people want to find Calvin Cato’s blog, bam here is the blog of Calvin Cato.” As it turned this only shows for me whenever I’m logged into my Gmail, and I’m constantly signed into my email. All. The. Time. So I signed out, and to my horror, not only is my sadly neglected MySpace page first, not only is that damn misspelled Kelvin Cato article there on page 1, but my blog has fallen to the bottom of page two. This is sacrilege I tell you, sacrilege. Sure I’ve been less prolific and I’ve petered out on some of my writing projects, but come on people. Boost this blog back to page 1 at least. How many times do I have to say Calvin Cato is important in a blog entry before Google connects Calvin Cato to Calvin Cato’s blog? I mean seriously, Calvin Cato works ridiculously hard blogging for Calvin Cato because Calvin Cato is a Calvin Cato kind of writer writing Calvin Cato stuff for Calvin Cato’s constituents. Give Calvin Cato a break, statisticians!

Calvin Cato.

Monday, April 20, 2009

This Friday April 24th is Nouveau Poor - Free Comedy/Music Variety Showcase @ Comix!

As you know it's promotion time again! I won't bore you with the super long paragraph that I can't be bothered to update, but faithful readers you should come and check this ish out. Plus there may be a documentary crew filming the show (I wish I could say it's for me but it's not [sad-face here]). Anyway, try to come and I've linked to the Comix website directly for more details!

PS: I really REALLY hate the new Facebook. I needed to hit up an FAQ to find out how to make an event and then the damn thing kept crashing when I tried to invite people. Now the thing is that I wanted to invite strategically (i.e. not people who don't live in New York City) but that didn't work so now almost my entire list was invited. So basically I'm sorry if you live in Alaska and got an invite and I'm sorry if you actually live in NYC and didn't get an invite. I'm workin' on it!

Whoever thought the "New Facebook" was a good idea needs to be put out to pasture. Hell, I didn't even like the old New Facebook. Enough curmudgeoning, here's the info. And without further ado:

Nouveau Poor:

DATE: April 24th 2009 (Friday)
LOCATION: Comix (Ochi’s Lounge downstairs) – 353 West 14th Street east of 9th Ave
TIME: 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM
COST: No cover, 1-item minimum

Comedy By:
Jiwon Li (NBC’s Stand Up For Diversity, Comedy Central’s Open Mic Fights)
Dan Hirshon (Boston Comedy Festival 2008, contributor to The Complete Idiot’s Guide To Jokes)
Selena Coppock (Detroit Comedy Festival, Texas’ Ladies Are Funny Festival)
Joe Pontillo (Broadway Comedy Club)
Desiree Burch (featured in New York Magazine, 52 Man Pick-Up)

Musical Comedy By:
Kelly Dwyer (Hysteri-Killy, a one woman show – featured in New York Metro and Go Magazine)

Special Music Performance by:
Adam Dunstan (featured MySpace performer, as seen on That 80s Show)

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Nine Inane Thoughts That Should Never Be Posted On Twitter

1. I had the best shower ever! Ever!

2. Who’s using mint-flavored toothpaste? I am, I am!

3. Rice AND beans? I’m eating like a king!

4. No. Wire Hangers.

5. Yay a call! Let’s pretend it’s my agent.

6. Arm hairs feel like silk sometimes.

7. What…is the weather?

8. Oops forgot to upload those fun pics on Facebook.

9. Wonder how close I can get to 140 characters without going over…will it be now or now or...hmm let's try now? Is it now? Wow 140 is a lot of

Friday, April 10, 2009

Grin And Bare It At The Naked Comedy Show

Tonight is the night, when I choose to do the Naked Comedy Show. Yes, I am going to stand in a room full of strangers, friends of mine and possible exes and attempt to tell jokes that will make the audience laugh and distract them from my penis. God help me.

Every year I ask to do the show, then forget that the major conceit of the show involves being naked, then start panicking and get third-degree burns from shaving and Nairing myself. A small part of me does it to prove that I have the balls to do it, which I inevitably find out after a nice trim (ew). Another part of me is doing it for the resume boost (a very small part because while I am career-oriented, it's not an agented showcase by any means). But as to the real reason why I’m doing it, well, I can do a nice little speech about how it’s art and it’s a representation of man’s inhumanity to man or some bullshit like that, but the honest truth is that…it’s kind of fun.

Here’s the thing: I’m not really comfortable with myself being naked in front of people…or bright lights or spacious rooms. I’m a clothes-on kind of guy; I like the mystique that a hoodie, sweater, t-shirt and thick jeans affords. I’m a fan of necessary nudity (like in a shower or a strip search) but I don’t need to have genitals on the couch. The thing is that I have to get out of the mentality that bodies are gross and this show helps me do that.

Don’t’ misunderstand; I’m not a hippie at all, but there is something rather neat about the fact that we spend so many weekends trying to crawl into bed with someone in a sexual context and yet try to completely avoid looking at the naked form. As a society, we are so afraid of looking at junk and yet it is such a voyeuristic pleasure. I like the idea of removing the veil and saying “Look, this is me. Now decide if you want to hit this, or friend me or not.”

In college, our school used to have Naked Parties, which were exactly as advertised. I went with two friends of mine who were freer about their bodies than I was at that point. I kept worrying about it being an orgy or accidentally groping a boob or random fluids and when I got there with my clothes on, I actually felt out of place. There was no eroticism, no shower of condoms, it was just people talking to each other, holding Dixie cups, naked. It was probably the least sexual experience I’d ever been through. I remember getting to the “changing room” and thinking “I don’t know if I can do this.” I turned around and saw my friends run out of the room naked. At that point, I felt compelled to take off my clothes and join in. I’d be lying if I said my eyes didn’t wander at the party but it wasn’t that serious. I was like “Oh well that’s a penis, that’s a vagina, wow that looks like high maintenance value, good for you!” And again, there were people who didn’t fit that retarded unrealistic Hollywood/porn star mold but it was beautiful simply because these people chose to express themselves.

I spend so much time cowering in fear of my imperfections when the truth of the matter is that I have to learn to embrace myself before I can feel like a real artist. Does my sac affect the quality of my life? It shouldn’t. I’ve had friends go to the show and talk to me afterwards and, other than a couple of below the belt jokes, everything was normal. I think we as a society would learn a lot by having naked performances of their own, maybe not in front of strangers throwing dollar bills at you but start small. Have a naked dinner party or a nude movie night (don’t watch Jaws though, trust me on this).

I always think about this piece from Margaret Cho’s set when she talks about some fashion magazine’s tips about how to look hot while having sex. Her abridged response was “Fuck that. I’m going to sweat and look ugly and you should be happy to be here fucking me.” I feel the same way about this show; it helps me boost my self-esteem ever so slightly (unless I bomb but I’m trying not to think about that). And even if I do bomb, fuck it, at least there was an audience curious enough to give me a chance.

If you are free here are the details:
The PIT (People’s Improv Theatre)
154 West 29th Street bet. 6th and 7th Avenue
8 PM
Run by Andy Ofiesh and Rob O'Reilly

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Why I’m Too Dumb To Have A Job: A Dialogue

Big Boss: Well it was wonderful meeting you. I’ll be going back to the home office tomorrow morning.
Me: Oh, well it was great meeting you too.
Big Boss: I realize we didn’t get to talk much one-on-one but I should be back in a few months and we can talk more personally then.
Me: Well…uh…thanks for shaking my hand.
Big Boss: [pause] Okay, cheers then. [Leaves]
Me: [headdesk]

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Let Them Eat Cake? No Thank You!

As we all know and heard, the government gave $170 billion in taxpayer money to AIG (American International Group). And even thought the company reported a loss of $61 billion, they somehow are managing to pay executives $165 million in bonuses (I guess for setting a record or something). Needless to say, the not-royal we were not amused. And our government’s big response boils down to: “You should feel ashamed of yourselves.” Seriously? You fail, government.

What is with the 21st century turning everyone into pussies? I remember back in the day, whenever there were too many rich people blatantly stealing from the poor there would be a revolution – complete with guillotine, anarchy and a short guy in charge. Or warriors from up north or far east would start marauding and pillaging, storming castles and sending a hail of fiery arrows down on helpless defenders. Back in the times when European monarchies mattered, if the ruling body was displeased, entire bloodlines were eliminated. But now, the government can basically hand over a blank check to corrupt gout-sufferers who proceed to spend the money on themselves and the best response is a whiny “Give it back!” I didn’t realize that Congress is now that 5-year-old trying to grab his Wolverine toy back from his too-tall big brother who’s holding it hostage at arms length.

Why can’t we, oh I don’t know, give the taxpayer money back to the taxpayers?! I paid my bills on time, don’t use limos to get to work, and I’ve managed not to screw over families and other people’s futures. All I got back was $200 from Uncle Sam. That can’t even support a Wall Street stockbroker’s cocaine habit for the day. What. The. Fuck.

If you’re pissed, don’t just write a scathing editorial. These execs obviously don’t feel ashamed, not when they can bounce to some island and hire prostitutes to boost their egos. This shame based society bullshit isn’t working anymore. Let’s all go to Home Depot, buy some pitchforks and tiki torches and do this thang old-school (or medieval-school, whatever). Although, we’d probably have to use Google to find out where these people live, but still. Old-school!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

March 27th Show @ Comix (Ochi's Lounge)

Thanks to eveyrone who came to the first show! This next show is looking fantastic with more music and grass skirts than you can shake a stick at. Details below: hope to see you next Friday!

DATE: March 27th 2009 (Friday)
LOCATION: Comix (Ochi’s Lounge downstairs) – 353 West 14th Street east of 9th Ave
TIME: 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM
COST: No cover, 1-item minimum

Auld Lang Syne has come and gone, but the entertainment keeps on rolling! Calvin S. Cato (Game Show Network, Stand-Up New York, Naked Comedy Show) presents a comedy/music variety show with wonderful recruiters and raconteurs who’ll regale you with jokes, songs and humorous job tips! Oh and did we mention that everyone who comes to the show gets a free resume? So if you're unemployed, underemployed, or looking to hire someone who knows Microsoft Office, come by and check out the only show that has 100% talent, 0% health insurance.

Comedy By:
Sean Crespo (Comedy Central's Root Of All Evil, Comix’s Drink At Work Show, Television Without Pity)
Liz Miele (Live At Gotham, featured in the New Yorker)
Del (BET's My Two Cents, Caroline's on Broadway, Comedy For The F&%* Of It)
Scout Durwood (MTV’s A Shot At Love, Miss America pageant contestant!)
Chris Conway (Comix’s Roots)

Music Interlude by:
Joe Yoga (artist-in-residence at Under St. Marks Theater)

Special Music Performance by:
Sonic Uke (Midnight Ukelele Disco, New York Ukelele Cabinet, and they’re New Zealanders)


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Interview With Bad Slava

Interview Update: Here is a better link to the interview: Interview With Calvin Cato.

Also, I just want to let you guys know that I’ll perform anywhere: bars, restaurants, basements, hell even Jeffrey Dahmer’s house. Sure, the place is musty but at least he has a captive audience.

Speaking of basements, catch me tonight: March 12th at 8:00 PM at Tagine Dining gallery for Nouveau Poor. Address: 537 9th Avenue (just south of West 40th Street). All the info and the press paragraph is below (no I didn’t change it, though I should have been more creative). Check it out if you’re nearby!

Auld Lang Syne has come and gone, but the entertainment keeps on rolling! Calvin S. Cato (Game Show Network, Stand-Up New York, Naked Comedy Show) presents a comedy/music variety show with wonderful recruiters and raconteurs who’ll regale you with jokes, songs and humorous job tips! Oh and did we mention that everyone who comes to the show gets a free resume? So if you're unemployed, underemployed, or looking to hire someone who knows Microsoft Office, come by and check out the only show that has 100% talent, 0% health insurance.

Comedy By:

Matt Nagin (Comix's Intermission, Under St. Marks Theatre)
Mo Diggs (writer for The Apiary and Dead Frog)
Chris Laker (Comedy2go)
Adam Lash (Caroline's, Comix's So You Think You're Funny)
Brendan Fitzgibbons (New York Underground Comedy favorite)

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Nouveau Shows Coming Up

First of all, thanks to everyone who came out to see the show at Comix! It was standing room only packed! The next show is March 27th and there will be a ton of emails about the whole thing, but for now, here are some shows I'm doing for next week. I'm all over Twitter now so check that too for details.

President Jackson Show
Monday March 9th: 9:00 PM - 10:10 PM
Produced by Joe Dixon and hosted by Calvin Cato, this show has nothing to do with a white president and is run by two black guys who wear argyle. Did your irony meter explode, because it should have! We feature comedians with credits, without credits, with drinking problems, whatever. Seriously, it's a fun show and there are 2-for-1 drinks. Check this out!

Tickets: Free
Pinetree Lodge - 326 East 35th Street (between 1st and 2nd Av)
Nouveau Poor
Thursday March 12th: 8:00 PM – 9:30 PM
Tagine Dining Gallery

Calvin S. Cato presents a wonderful blend of comedy and music in a cool Moroccan venue. We have comedians who've been featured on MTV, VH1, Comedy Central, and top comedy clubs in the city as well as musicians who've played at the top indie venues in New York City. Plus, there's belly dancing and hookah afterwards! Check out the only show that's like Casablanca in Technicolor.

Tickets: Free
Tagine Dining Gallery - 537 9th Avenue (just south of West 40th Street)

Thursday, February 26, 2009


Yesterday I asked to borrow my dad’s camera so I can take pictures for my show on Friday…and he said “No.” Can you believe he had the nerve to say no after all I’ve done for him? I mean, I let him wipe my butt when I was a baby and I let him see my vulnerable side when I would throw tantrums and scream “I wish I’d never been born.” He had the luxury of watching me beat Street Fighter II over and over as a kid, stopping him from watching the oh-so-depressing 10 O’Clock News. Or all the cultural events I’d take him to: like the movie “Batman and Robin” or “Six Flags Great Adventure.” I offered to pay but he insisted on it, and ticket takers don’t like being paid in sacks of quarters. I thought he liked the fact that I put him up on a pedestal…sure it was for ridicule but still. And I would always talk about my dad in such positive tones, like “I’m positive my dad is trying to ruin my life!” or “I positively can’t stand him!”

You know what, dad? No more! I see now that you don’t care about my career path. I get that when you would say things like “I don’t understand why you couldn’t have been a doctor” that that’s not an old Jamaican saying, that was [gasp!] the truth. Or when you bared your teeth when I told you I wanted to a writer/comedian – I know now that that wasn’t’ a smile; it was a grimace. Listen here buster, the time for fun and games is over. Now I’ll be calling you less (unless it’s for money, in which case I’ll still call you on the 1st and the 15th…but now we won’t talk about what I need the money for).

Secretly though, I think he’s mad because I didn’t send him a Facebook invite to the show (which is this Friday at 7 PM in Comix’s Downstairs Room – 353 West 14th Street just east of 9th Avenue. Subtlety is my middle name).

Monday, February 23, 2009

Madea Can Kiss My @$$

Recently, one of my good friends went to see the new Tyler Perry movie: Madea Goes To Jail. For those of you who aren’t familiar, Madea is a large sassy black matriarch who talks like a Maury Povich audience member reprimanding a baby daddy on stage. The role of Madea is played by Tyler Perry, a black man who clearly doesn’t get that this stereotypical acting was so last century and went the way of the sitcom “Martin.” Quite frankly, I’m not surprised Madea went to jail considering she spends every single movie threatening to “get all up in someone’s ass” or punch out a strumpet. Hell, she’s at least facing aggravated assault charges.

People ask me why I’m not a fan of Tyler Perry’s movies. The short answer is because I have a high school diploma. The long answer is because I’m tired of these tired tropes. See, I used to work retail in a video store where the televisions looped popular videos all day. I had the displeasure of watching Diary Of A Mad Black Woman on loop and it does awful things to your head. I would always be embarrassed when non-black people would ask me about the movie as though I had a connection to it. I mean, if you were using this movie as a way to learn about black culture, you’d think all black men are dogs and all old black women have a 5 o’clock shadow.

Now there are people who can enjoy his movies qua frivolous entertainment, but I’m not easily entertained by a “No she di’nt!” and a finger wag. Honestly, if I wanted to watch a black guy crossdress and fail to make me laugh, I’d go to Eddie Murphy’s house. I can at least tolerate Eddie’s trademark chortle.

Friday, February 20, 2009

[New Title Pending]: Rapid Rack Reads 2

Dark Avengers #2:

In which the team wastes half an issue shooting the shit before rushing in to save Dr. Doom from bitter ex-girlfriend Morgan Le Fay. Cue Sentry doing something ultra-violent, which in a neat change of pace, doesn’t work! So next issue, we’ll see the real fight.

You know, I just don’t know what to think of this book. It’s Bendis sticking to formula and he’s on rather good form here. The Deodato art is wonderful as always; the layouts are eye-catching. And yet, taken within the context of the entire Marvel Universe, this book feels…well, wrong. The climactic event where the Sentry ends it by ripping off Morgan Le Fay’s head is a cool scene, but when you think about it, you realize this action doesn’t remotely befit his character (and the whiny “Did I do good or bad” line made Sentry look pathetic not conflicted). It would have made more sense for Ares (a violent war god) to deliver the blow without equivocation (which would have built on his bad-ass attitude established in Mighty Avengers). Or the scene between Moonstone (Ms. Marvel) and Daken (Wolverine) where she says “I have no idea who the %*&^ you are.” Surface thought: clever. But upon deeper inspection Moonstone (as a trained psychiatrist) is never that blunt and Daken (a young powderkeg) would be much more offended at that statement. Or even the Bullseye joke about killing his mom. Sure, he has a sick sense of humor but the lines don’t jive with his temperament at all. The man’s homicidal, not matricidal. These characters don’t sound like themselves; they sound like snarky football players toweling off after defeating their rivals. And the Morgan/Doom fight was rather boring and poorly plotted. Generic purple blasts equals yawn. I feel conflicted because there’s some wonderful potential here and a gold mine of character conflicts that could be set up but the dimensionality of this team isn’t there. The story’s not bad but I just don’t see why I should care. 3 Cs out of 7.

X-Force #11:

In which we find out the motivations of Eli Bard, New Resident Bad Guy, as Warpath tells the team of Eli’s past as a shamed patrician/general in the Roman Empire who Selene (yay!) manipulates into falling in love with him. This ends badly when poor old Eli effs up Selene’s spell to steal all the souls of Rome. A pissed-off Selene curses him with eternal life and spurns him for centuries. But now he’s back to make good on stealing a bunch of souls for her…from dead mutants. Or techno-zombies. Or something.

I honestly have no grounding in this new X-Force and I only picked it up for Selene. The backstory itself was interesting and sad. I mean this guy basically got shit on his whole life and is cursed with immortality and an undying love for a psycho witch. An issue-long set-up for a major villain seems a bit much but the art (especially the past scenes) and the dialogue make it a nice read. Plus, it features a back-to-basics approach with Selene as a covetous demi-god wanting power for power’s sake and pulling the strings of “mere mortals” behind the scenes, which was always one of the stronger aspects of her character. I’m not too thrilled by Eli; he hasn’t shown any other sides of himself beyond lovesick lap-dog. But we’ll see what happens, and hopefully there’ll be some betrayal or triple-cross or something. Overall, a good story arc intro. 5 Cs out of 7.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Nouveau Poor Is At Comix Next Friday!!

Next Friday, I’m at Comix. I’m even on their website!

Here’s the blurb und drang:

TITLE: Nouveau Poor
LOCATION: Comix (Ochi's Lounge: The Downstairs Room) – 353 West 14th Street (just east of 9th Avenue)
COST: Free, 1-item minimum
DATE: February 27th, 2008
TIME: 7:00 PM – 8:30 PM

Auld Lang Syne has come and gone, but the entertainment keeps on rolling! Let these wonderful recruiters and raconteurs regale you with funny stories and humorous job tips! Created by Calvin S. Cato (Game Show Network, Stand-Up New York, Naked Comedy Show), this is the only comedy/music variety show that encourages people to trade resumes as well as laughs.

Comedy By:
Sean Crespo (Comedy Central's Root Of All Evil, Drink At Work Show @ Comix, Cracked.com)
Hilary Schwartz (Eastville Comedy Club's, Jewish Princess of Darkness)
Jermaine Fowler (DC Comedy Showcase, opened for Patrice O'Neal)
Del (BET's My Two Cents, Caroline's on Broadway, Comedy For The F&%* Of It)
Roman Rimer (Magnet Theatre's, Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Trannies)

Music Interlude by:
Kierstin Gray (Award-winning songwriter, performed in LA and Tokyo)

Improv by: Black Boxes In The Corner (Boston Improv Troop)

Sunday, January 25, 2009

[New Title Pending]: Rapid Rack Reads 1

As some of you may know, the freelancing has been not-so-successful as of late but I promised new reviews. So here's my brief summaries until I can raise capital to do full-length reviews again (read: until I can afford to buy the comics and take them home). Basically, I read these in the store so I might have missed some of the subtle stuff but the overarching themes are there. Also, I know New Avengers came out a little bit ago, but I just read it. So there.

Dark Avengers #1: Brian Michael Bendis (writer), Mike Deodato (artist)

PLOT: Norman Osborn and his assistant Ms. Hand set to work on creating the Dark Avengers (which in case you didn't figure it out is half ex-Thunderbolts, quarter ex-Avengers, the rest other people's characters co-opted from talented writers - I use the term loosely in Daken's case). And not a moment too soon...because Morgan Le Fay shows up to attack Doctor Doom in one of those classic time-traveling-boy-meets-sorceress-girl-and dumps-her-by-going-to-the-future-with-her-army-forcing-her-to-spy-on-him-through-a-magical-reflecting-surface-and-finding-him-not-only-alive-and-well-but-in-the-company-of-two-other-women situations. Ah love!

POINTS: Love the art! Mike Deodato's work rules! It's a first issue, which does the job of getting the team together and it does rather well. However, the whole story feels hollow and artificial and more could have been done. While there were some clever touches (the HAMMER gag in particular, Maria Hill and Ms. Marvel's reactions to Norman Osborn, and Moonstone and Ares's interactions) and great conflict set-up, there just isn't enough real action or justification for this team. The book feels so Thunderbolts-lite and I don't want to get into this book feeling biased but I do, because this is basically Ellis' team in shinier costumes. Everything feels very generic and all these "gather the team" gimmicks have been seen way too many times in the past year for me to be enthused anymore. 4 Cs out of 7.

New Avengers #48: Brian Michael Bendis (writer), Billy Tan (art)

PLOT: Yet another gather the team issue. But this team serves a couple of purposes: (1) Get Luke Cage and Jessica Jones' (a.k.a. Worst Parents Ever - Really?! Abandoning your child to go fight aliens?!) baby back and (2) Provide a resistance for the Dark Avengers. Oh and Mockingbird is back for good, people. Apparently because someone Loves The 80s (VH1 TM).

POINTS: Really just see the Dark Avengers review. The set-ups sound promising and the potential for conflict is there. There is a higher action quotient which adds to the entertainment value and the pro-activity of the team is a majorly refreshing change of pace from earlier issues where the plot was to have the team stare at each other from across a table until Spider-Woman blurts out what shady organization she's allied with this week. I'd be more impressed if the "Let's fill the reader in on the new status quo" issue didn't appear...oh...5 or 6 other times in this series. I have less patience for this book because it's been a lot of hype that hasn't gone anywhere and it's going to take a lot more than snappy dialogue to turn me around. Plus I still fail to see why Mockingbird is back, when Black Widow could have very clearly filled that spot on the team. 20:1 odds they'll be fighting ninjas within 5 issues. 3 Cs out of 7.

Uncanny X-Men Annual #2: Matt Fraction (writer), Daniel Acuna & Mitch Breitweiser (art)

PLOT: Emma Frost proves she's still got it by seducing Namor, taking on her former employer Sebastian Shaw, and showing she can stand eye-to-eye with the nastiest of the Marvel Universe. And finally readers understand why she's swept up in Bendis' Dark Reign. Plus, a Selene sighting!!!!*

POINTS: You know, this was actually well done. Considering it's linked to Dark Reign (which was a super-contrived follow-up to Secret Invasion), I wasn't particularly happy with the "SECRET HISTORY REVEALED" banner placed on this comic. And yet, the characterization really sold me. The comic did insert new White Queen history but it clarified a lot about her motivations and her change of heart. Frankly Sebastian Shaw and the Sentinel connection was something that never felt adequately addressed in any X-Book and Fraction does a great job of shedding light on that plot point and how it affected Emma. Plus Emma bags a prince of 70% of the world. The art was beautiful as well, with the flashback scenes rendered perfectly. It's really worth getting, not just as a tie in to Dark Reign but as a wonderful character study. 6 Cs out of 7.

*[ASIDE: Any Selene sighting usually bumps a comic up, because...well she's just that friggin awesome. Marvel, please put more Selene cameos in your books.]*

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

[New Title Pending]: On Female Superheroes or Vaginas Are Not Evil

I was checking out Jezebel and I came across this article, which had a link to another article on Rope of Silicon about why there aren't any successful female hero movies. I was actually talking about a very similar topic just the other day with a couple friends of mine.

We were talking about a potential Batman 3, and who should be the next villain. I'm really championing Catwoman because the first two movies, while excellent, were such a testosterone fest and it would be nice to see Batman go up against a cunning female equal. But they're picking super-obscure male characters (which in fairness sounded cool, but are general unknowns). We were then on the subject of obscure characters when I tossed out the idea of a Batgirl movie, which I'd like to see but I think would never work. To which they responded with "Yeah, who wants to see a chick Batman?" That line irked me, because my point isn't that she's Chick Batman, but because writers wouldn't be able to write or view her as anything other than than Chick Batman.

It really does bother me that I can think of virtually no successful superhero movies with females as developed viable leads. There is something strangely homoerotic about this obsession with male superheroes with big muscles and bigger codpieces. Even though society is so afraid of showing a penis in a major motion picture, there is no problem with having sweaty shirtless guys fight each other to verify their manhood. And there is still an endemic problem with using female characters only to further the male characters' angst (either by killing or raping them).

And it's not like strong female-centered stories can't be written. For example, I can think of Marc Andreyko's Manhunter (which manages to telling a compelling tale of a hard-working prosecutor who doesn't get her hair pulled by some jerk every issue) or Gail Simone's Birds Of Prey (which has women who can kick ass and joke about things that have nothing to do with boys or money or ponies)*.

I mean I am a guy, but sometimes (most times) male writers just have wrongheaded ideas about women. I was a huge fan of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, but there were just so many virginal/whore tropes that undercut the idea of a strong female character. Hell, every time sex was brought into the picture, someone died or went evil or got pregnant and gave birth to something evil (which usually ended up killing the woman who bore the thing in the first place). And I saw these same disturbing tropes in his run on Astonishing X-Men. Kitty Pryde actually has sex with Colossus and bang, she's shot out into deep space and probably died (Colossus walks away unscathed). Mr. Whedon, I love your work but vaginas are not evil. I don't see why it's so difficult to have a confident woman who wears spandex and happens to have some nookie on the side.

And don't get me wrong, I loved The Dark Knight Returns, but I had to agree with Thera Pitts, Rachel Dawes was irritatingly underdeveloped. Here was a strong intelligent law-abiding assistant DA who ended up being little more than a casualty/footnote in Batman's crusade against the Joker and Two-Face's blind twisted vengeance. The only other major female character was Anna Ramirez, a tough street-smart cop, who ended up being a(n extremely minor) henchman who gets punched in the face by a man. I don't say this to cry "Sexism!" but it does speak to a major issue at hand about how male writers, directors and artists view women as viable characters.

I would like to see a successful Catwoman movie, or a Storm television miniseries, or yes a Batgirl movie. I guess you could call me a fe-man-ist, but I want to see these characters come to life too and become a successful franchise. I just wish we as a society can move on from our 1960s Batman thinking where women are only good enough to kick high and be untied from train tracks.

*NOTE: Gail Simone is no longer writing Birds of Prey. I lost track of who's writing it now and the book is getting cancelled (sigh!) so I don't know what the fate of the Birds are. But you should grab back issues (I believe it's issues 70 - 110) or buy it in trade.

Monday, January 05, 2009

My City

This week is going to be my last week telemarketing; I haven't told my employers yet but I figured this blog can do it for me. Maybe I can send HR an e-mail saying "Here are the reports, and by the way, have you checked out my blog? Here's the URL. See you, uh, soonish...for uh...my paycheck..."

Nah, seriously I will tell them. I'm just trying to stay motivated as I live in what I can only affectionately call "The Frathouse." My room is sub-arctic and my overhead light socket is broken, so I am writing this entry by dim lamp light. I wanted to just go full-on and write by candle-light but I don't know where the fire escape is and I refuse to die in a blaze of poverty.

The sick part is that I like this. This is what real New York Living is like. And also why I have no respect for that new MTV show "The City," another one of those faux-reality shows where bleach-blond girls giggle a lot at the camera and complain about barely getting by, even though they're handed gobs of money and never have to go to work (or do any work once they're in the office). I know I've expressed my dislike for shows like these in the past, but the whole concept of this show is just silly.

Living in New York and wanting to work in media does not involved an automatic lease on an Upper East Side apartment or taking a cab to the gym that's within walking distance. If you have not had a life-or-death battle with vermin, or had to learn a different language to communicate with the super, or seen homeless penis on the subway, then you are not living in New York City. Period. And if you're chasing a dream in New York City, you don't have time to blink rapidly and vapidly at a camera. At best, you have the time to crack open a beer and cry-sturbate while listening to Blur (I'm not saying that's how I spend my weekend, but I took an informal survey and that was the #1 answer).

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go take a shower in boiling hot water because the cold knob is broken, step over lead paint chips, and get to bed so I can wake up early and head into a soul-crushing job that I'm leaving soon so I can go pursue my pipe dream. Like a real Manhattanite.