Stumbling around the internet this morning I learned that John Hollander passed away a few weeks back. If you’re not a poetry buff, you may not know him, but you really should be a poetry buff. What is wrong with you? You used to be such a intellectual. When is the last time you read something that didn’t have dragons or murders in it—though all the best poetry does, in some ways, John Hollander’s especially. Check him out. Listen to the reading he did in 1969 above or from the DC library. Use your brains sometimes why not?
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I knew Mr. Hollander a little bit (not enough to call him John) because I took a class with him at a Fancy Writer’s Conference almost 10 years ago. He was an old man then, and very cranky, and very very scary smart. He made a young woman in his class (though not that young, she was an assistant professor somewhere) read one of her poems over and over until she stopped doing? That thing? Where you pause? At the end? Of every line? She cried. It was brutal, but, instructive.

A friend of mine was walking with him in the Tennessee summer heat to the dining hall in silence and, attempting to make small talk, mentioned that it was “Much hotter in the sun than it is in the shade…” Hollander squinted up at the object, grunted “You’re right,” and immediately crossed the street to walk under the trees. It was brutal, but, instructive.

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Many poems of JH’s are good, from his incredibly long career, but he will be known mostly I believe for his instructions. His greatest poem will be remembered as his book length guide to prosody, in which he was probably the world’s foremost expert, Rhyme’s Reason. But see, he not only masterfully imitated the style in each section, he also managed to write about the sadness of being a late champion in a dying art, about the failures and successes of historical poets, and, in this section I’ve pasted below, how poetry techniques lend themselves to primal emotions, important things. Beautiful, but, instructive. Rest in peace.

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We have a lot of expectations for the next series of Mad Men. But as the best series on TV (see below) returns, my biggest hope is that we see the nascent roots of the music of failure bloom into full gorgeous orchids of poisoned sadness in the 1970s. With any luck, we’ll be ascot deep in Yacht…

A new place at which I’ll be posting about TV, with some friends. Starting with my thoughts about Mad Men and Yacht Rock as Season 6 begins.

I talked to Marc Maron this week about his podcast and Comedy and what Comedy Is with capital letters like that. He is scary smart that guy. We did talk a little about clowns.

After the conversation he asked me, “What was your name again man?” I don’t know whether that means he enjoyed it or is sending minions to destroy me. More likely he was being polite. Actually that is the least likely possibility.

Me and Reggie Watts made a list of humorous nouns in this interview. I have never gotten a contact high over the phone before, but it was a grand old time.

Got My Own Private Sun: An Essay of Punk Nobility

This piece was recently published in the excellent Metafiler magazine put out by my favorite members of that site. They made my pretentious ramblings look almost professional! Download the whole thing here, it’s awesome.

The Kids in the Hall is still the best sketch comedy that has ever been on TV. Yes, I do want to fight about it.

Oh and Dave Foley is sweet and great. His comments about why empathy is important in comedy should be written on every aspiring snarky stand-ups face in blood.

"A lot of people don’t realize that what we did on Kids in the Hall was never mean-spirited. It could be really dark and maybe uncomfortable, but it was never mean. Never going out and shitting on people and just being cruel. I think there is a lot of empathy in our work, through the characters we play and subject matter we deal with. I know I don’t like dealing with comedy that’s like, “Hey look, aren’t other people stupid?” You know, I’m not a big fan of watching YouTube videos of people getting hit in the balls or falling off buildings. That just doesn’t make me laugh to see somebody to get hurt.  When I see somebody get hurt, I think, “Ow, that would be horrible.”  And I think that detachment from other people allows for that snideness you’re talking about.  I guess is just a lack of empathy. I think that any art form should be imbued with empathy. Whatever it is. To me that’s just the core of humanity that you should not lose for any reason.”

Also, this .gif.

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I talk to nerd-king @Nerdist and try to defend hipsterism against his Wit-sabers. Let’s call it a draw?

toot

Some things are not worth building a new wing on the memory mansion.

This video was made by moi (with Erin as monkey-wrangler) to promote Live From the Lab the Comedy night we are hosting. It hopefully attains a respectable level of really dumb.

Invite Yourself

"Like" "Us"

Watch on youtube here.

He’s not the black Patton Oswalt or the nerdcore Eddie Murphy. He’s just a really funny awesome guy.