“Immense as whales, the motion of whose vast bodies can in peaceful calm trouble the ocean till it boil.”
- Sir William Davenant, Preface to Gondibert
Call me Determined.
Some time ago – never mind how long precisely – I tried to read Herman Melville’s “Moby-Dick.” But being a young man without much patience, I abandoned the novel somewhere about page 100. It was a discouragement to be sure and I found myself grim at the mouth.
“Moby-Dick,” after all, was a classic. One of those “big” books. Nay! One of those “giant” books ranking with Leo Tolstoy’s “War and Peace,” Charles Dickens’ “Bleak House,” and Miguel de Cervantes’ “Don Quixote.”
Alas, I had purchased an ill conceived paperback with print the size of micro-dots. My eyes were left strained and bloodshot and the book seemed an impossible endeavor.
With a damp, drizzly November in my soul, I returned “Moby-Dick” to my bookshelf, where it remained for many years. There it collected dust and the pages turned yellow and brittle. Oh, occasionally I’d finger the spine or pull it off the shelf – the old disappointment returning like a flash of lightning.
The years went by – the exact number is now lost to my memory – but I was older and more mature. One hazy, rainy winter weekend, I quite surprised myself by seeking out the volume and trying again. I spent an inglorious week struggling with the tiny type and the brittle pages.
This time my determination – my utter drive – took me to nearly 300 pages before, exhausted, I once again gave it up in vain. This time, I thought miserably, would be the last. It wasn’t meant to be. I was clearly not robust enough to tackle this weighty masterpiece.
Time continued to tick by – marriage, career change, children – and my copy of “Moby-Dick” ended up in a cardboard box in the basement. No longer would this tome mock me from my bookshelf!
And then – out of the blue – the reasons quite unclear to my foggy mind – I decided to try a third time. It was my copy of the novel – my cheap, tattered edition – that was preventing me from finishing. The brilliance of this insight set me to action.
I stuffed a dollar or two into my old wallet, tucked it into my back pocket, and started for the bookstore. I perused the finery of the stocked shelves. Is there any sight more grand and heart-warming than the glistening volumes of new books waiting patiently for an eager reader?
I found a hefty copy of “Moby-Dick” with big, bold letters practically leaping off the thick pages. Ah, I thought, this is the companion I’ve been waiting for! This is the copy of the novel that will help me to accomplish my mission!
The clerk rang up the sale and I was on my way. This time I am called Determined and I will finish “Moby-Dick.” I will record my adventures here – for you to experience, dear reader. Together we shall overcome the daunting task and my past failures and read one of the greatest American novels of all time.
But no more of this blubbering now, we are going a-whaling! Let us scrape the ice from our frosted feet, and see what sort of place this “Moby-Dick” may be.
Progress to date: Page 41 of 655.
While DaRK PaRTY was doing the painstaking research to select the cream of the crop – a trend emerged. SNL is a man’s game. There have been few women comedians who have successfully used SNL as a springboard for greater success. It would be difficult to get a woman on a top 15 list, never mind the top seven. The closest candidates would be Gilda Radner, Molly Shannon and Tina Fey.
For the purposes of this list, DaRK PaRTY had two criteria:
So without further delay DaRK PaRTY presents the 7 Funniest Comedians from “Saturday Night Live.”
Years on SNL: 1977-80
Style: A classic wiseass personae – known for his dry, sarcastic wit
Best Known Characters: The nerd Todd DiLamuca, who wore his pants up around his chest and gave nuggies, and Nick the Lounge Singer
Break-out Movie: “Meatballs” (1979)
Funniest Movie: “Caddyshack” (1980)
Worst Movie: “
Quote: “We've been going about this all wrong, this Mr. Stay Puft's okay, he's a sailor, he's in
Quote #2: “Lee Harvey, you are a madman. When you stole that cow, and your friend tried to make it with the cow. I want to party with you, cowboy. If the two of us together, forget it. I'm gonna go out on a limb here. I'm gonna volunteer my leadership to this platoon. An army without leaders is like a foot without a big toe. And Sergeant Hulka is always gonna be here to be that big toe for us. I think that we owe a big round of applause to our newest, bestest buddy, and big toe... Sergeant Hulka.” – From “Stripes” (1981)
Years on SNL: 1980-84
Style: A racy ham known for his scathing insults and wink-wink relationship with his audience
Best Known Characters: Mr. Robinson, Buckwheat, Gumboy and Stevie Wonder
Break-out Movie: “48 Hours” (1982)
Best Movie: “Trading Places” (1983)
Worst Movie: “The Adventures of Pluto Nash” (2002)
Useless Trivia: When Murphy’s career sputtered in the late 1990s, SNL’s David Spade during his Hollywood Minute segment, flashed a photo of Murphy on the screen and shrilled: “Look children, a falling star. Make a wish!”
Quote: “Now, a brother's dick is too big, so it'll fuck up his balance... Every time you see a brother in a wheelchair, he ain't always crippled.” – From “Delirious” (1983)
Quote #2: “Before I go, I just want to say one thing. The supercop story... was working. And you guys just messed it up. I'm still trying to figure you guys out, but I haven't yet. But it's cool, though. You just fuck up a perfectly good lie.” – From “
Style: Master impressionist
Years on SNL: 1995-02
Best Known Characters: Alex Trebek, Neil Diamond, Harry Caray, Music Teacher Mary Culp, Spartan cheerleader Craig Buchanan and night clubber Steve Butabi
Break-out Movie: “Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery” (1997)
Best Movie: “Old School” (2003)
Worst Movie: “A Night at the Roxbury” (1998)
Useless Trivia: Ferrell’s nickname since high school is “Wilf.”
Quote: “Dear little baby Jesus, who's sittin' in his crib watchin the Baby Einstein videos, learnin' 'bout shapes and colors. I would like to thank you for bringin' me and my moma together, and also that my kids no longer sound like retarded gang-bangers.” – From “
Quote #2: “I'm gonna punch you in the ovary, that's what I'm gonna do. A straight shot. Right to the babymaker.” – From “Anchorman” (2004)
Style: Smarmy, know-it-all with a heart of gold
Years on SNL: 1989-95
Best Known Characters: Dieter, Linda Richman and Wayne Campbell,
Break-out Movie: “
Best Movie: “Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me” (1999)
Worst Movie: “The Cat in the Hat” (2003)
Useless Trivia: When Myers was nine years old he starred in a TV commercial with Gilda Radner
Quote: “Are those fricken' sharks with fricken' laser beams attached to their fricken' heads?” – From “Goldmember (2002)
Quote #2: “I say hurl. If you blow chunks and she comes back, she's yours. But if you spew and she bolts, then it was never meant to be.” – From “
Style: Classic impressionist
Years on SNL: 1986-93
Best Known Characters: Church Lady, George H.W. Bush, Hans, Garth Algar and Jimmy Stewart
Break-out Movie: “Tough Guys” (1986)
Best Movie: “
Worst Movie: “Halloween II” (1981)
Useless Trivia: Comedy Central lists Carvey at the 90th best in their list of 100 Best Stand-ups of All Time.
Quote: “As Prometheus said to the Athenians, "I need another beer". – From “
Quote #2: “Uh,
Style: Loudmouth buffoon (who sings!)
Years on SNL: 1990-95
Best Known Characters: Cajun Man, Opera Man, Bono and Charles Manson
Break-out Movie: “Billy Madison” (1995)
Best Movie: “50 First Dates” (2004)
Worst Movie: “Little Nicky” (2000)
Useless Trivia: One of Sandler’s best friends is fellow SNL alumni Norm MacDonald
Quote: “I'm not a homophobe, I'm a pulling-out-my-penis-in-front-of-you-ophobe.” – From “Anger Management” (2003)
Quote #2: “I am good. You know what, you're a lousy kindergarten teacher. I've seen those finger-paintings you bring home and they SUCK.” – From “Happy Gilmore” (1996)
Age: Died at age 33 in 1982
Style: Overbearing buffoon and party animal
Years on SNL: 1975-79
Best Known Characters: Samurai Futaba, Jake Blues, Elvis Presley, Joe Cocker and Larry Farver
Break-out Movie: “Animal House” (1978)
Best Movie: “Animal House” (1978)
Worst Movie: “1941” (1979)
Useless Trivia: Belushi was the hero of SNL’s Chris Farley and once said he wanted to live his life like Belushi. Both comedians died of an overdose of heroin and cocaine at the age of 33
Quote: “Over? Did you say "over"? Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed
Quote #2: “It's so quiet up here, you could hear a mouse get a hard on.” – From “Continental Divide” (1981)
Runners-up: Martin Short, Chris Farley, Dan Aykroyd,
After reading Bret Easton Ellis’ fifth novel “
Take a gander at these two sophomoric passages of piss-poor writing:
“Yo?” I said, checking the incoming number.
“It’s me.” It was Jay but I could barely hear him.
“Where are you?” I whined. “Jesus, Jay, you are one lost bastard.”
“What do you mean, where am I?” he asked.
“You sound like you’re at some kind of party.” I paused. “Don’t tell me that many people showed up at your goddamn reading.”
“Well, open the door and you’ll see where I am” was his reply.
“Open which door?”
“The one you’re behind, moron.”
“Oh.” I turned to Aimee. “It’s the Jayster.”
“Why don’t you just let me out first,” Aimee suggested, hurrying toward the mirror to make sure everything was in place.
And this gem:
“Well, you should by now,” I said encouragingly, but also confused about why a girl so proud of having learned the alphabet should be reading “Lord of the Flies.”
“I know the alphabet,” she stated proudly, “A B C D E F –“
“Honey, Bret has a big headache. I’m gonna take your word on this one.”
“—G H I J K L M N –“
“You can identify the sounds letters make. Sweetie, that’s really excellent, Jayne?”
“—O P Q R S T U V –“
“Jayne, would you please give her a sugar-free doughnut or something?” I touched my head to indicate migraine approaching. “Really.”
“And I know what a rhombus is!” Sarah shouted gleefully.
One wonders if Ellis was buying the adverbs by the bushel.
This is just bad writing. It is ponderous, choppy, and bloated with excessive baggage. But even worse, these passages are parts of longer scenes that neither reveal character nor propel the plot. They’re just there – doing nothing. But their greatest sin may be that they’re not even interesting. Unfortunately, “
The self-parody is amusing for the first 40 pages and there’s hope that Ellis might finally have pulled off his first successful book since “Less Than Zero.”
The novel descends – quite rapidly – into a ridiculously awful horror novel. The plot is so convoluted and slap-dash that it would be too tedious to outline here. Suffice to say it includes the ghost of Ellis’ estranged father, a possessed stuff bird (who at one point crawls into a pet dog’s ass), several missing boys, and Ellis’ Patrick Bateman character (from his most notorious novel “American Psycho”) come to life.
If this sounds interesting – don’t be fooled, because the plot matters little. None of it comes together in any coherent conclusion and no explanation is offered for any of the bizarre occurrences.
It’s been clear for sometime now that Ellis – once the literary darling of
Ellis’ characters, on the other hand, are all vapid, self-obsessed yuppies. It’s like being stuck in a room full of martini-fueled Wall Street stockbrokers who are all Yankee fans.
I have a theory about Ellis. He was a one book author. “Less Than Zero,” published while he was still a college student in 1985, became a best-seller for its flat style of writing and realistic portrayal of nihilistic college students. He was dubbed the voice of Generation X.
That’s a lot of fame and pressure on a 21-year-old writer. He’s been struggling to keep up ever since.
Like most young people thrust into the spotlight at a young age – he fell to drinking and drugging. He published “The Rules of Attraction” in 1987 and it pushed boundaries by portraying his characters as sexual ambiguous and self-destructive. But the novel was horrible – and ultimately pointless.
In an act of desperation, Ellis wrote “American Psycho” in 1991. The novel was an intimate look at psychopathic serial killer and featured graphic murders – many of them of young women. The original publisher dropped it in protest – but the controversy only fueled sales. But the book was ultimately a carnival sideshow attraction – borderline pornography. You get the feeling that only reason it was written was to save Ellis’ sagging literary career and garner him attention.
His two other books “The Informers,” a short story collection published in 1994, and “Glamorama” (1998) barely caused ripples. And it should be noted that most of the short stories in “The Informers” were written by Ellis when he was still in college.
So what’s a poor, attention-whore of a writer to do? Well, why not return to graphic murders and mayhem? It worked so well with “American Psycho.” Enter “Lunar Park” in 2005. As I mentioned already – it even features the main character, Patrick Bateman, from “American Psycho.”
But I suppose we shouldn’t blame Ellis. He’s just trying to hawk badly written books. We should blame his enablers in the literati. The New York Times called “
One wonders what novel they were reading. If you really want to read Ellis – go buy “Less Than Zero” and read that again. It’s not a bad book.
Less than good.
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DaRK PaRTY: You grew up in a family of artists in
Harry: It’s funny; I’m convinced my ‘calling’ as an artist came very early on in my life. In fact, my mother still has a terrific conte crayon drawing of my umbilical cord I’d done in utero.
DP: Your artwork has been on the cover of 17 New Yorker magazines. Can you tell us your process for developing a cover for one of the best known magazines in the world? And which cover has been your favorite?
Harry: Creating covers for The New Yorker is all about ideas and it’s no different that cartooning for the magazine or my syndicate (Tribune Media). Essentially, ideas come to me all of the time, I take notes, discuss their relevance with friends and then decide which ideas are worthy of pursuing. If I feel strongly about one concept, I’ll draw it up.
I get ideas from other people as well. I have three gag writers and their contributions are extremely helpful. Thirty percent of my cartoons are collaborations and I love working this way. In the end, it’s not about ego… it’s about funny.
New Yorker covers…well, I send cover sketches to my editor and if she likes the idea, she’ll show it to the editor in chief and if he digs it, they call me…it’s that simple. These days I’ve been focusing on my cartoons, not so much covers, plus my children’s books take up a great deal of time.
DP: You also produce "Bliss" -- a one-panel comic featured in daily newspapers around the country. How would you describe "Bliss" to those who have never read it?
Harry: ‘Bliss’ is probably the best single panel gag cartoon out there, no shit. It’s smart and funny and not afraid to offend readers – I get a lot of mail. I got two letters recently. The first one read: “I loath your comic strip.” That letter slayed me when I read it – really funny. I enjoy sharp criticism as well as praise. The second letter thanked me for filling the hole left when Gary Larson retired.
I work my ass off on the panel (not a comic strip!) and when readers write to me and tell me how they feel about the panel, it helps…not sure how, but I’m sure on some sub-conscious level I’m processing all of it and it has to effect my work. The panel will always evolve, if it doesn’t, I’m fucked.
DP: Your humor in "Bliss" is edgy and laugh-out-loud funny. Two recent cartoons stand out for me. The one with a couple in bed and the husband waking up the wife and saying: "Wake-up, baby, I figure out how my insomnia is all your fault" and the one of two parents addressing their young son with their fingers crossed behind their backs swearing they never tried drugs. Where do you get your ideas for the strip?
Harry: The ideas for Bliss come straight from my life…enough said.
DP: What comic strips do you find funny? And what illustrators working today do you admire?
Harry: I think Danny Shanahan and Jack Ziegler are great cartoonists. I like Alex Gregory and Charles Barsotti, too. I’m not a big fan of most of what I see. The cartoons are either too generic or they’re simply humorous captions with superfluous drawings. One thing to remember about good cartoons is that the drawing and the caption must rely on each other. One shouldn’t exist without the other.
There have been many of bad rock n’ roll bands. But to make this list, DaRK PaRTY set a few strict rules:
These are the bands that deserve to be completely eliminated from the annals of rock history. These are the bands that – to get cerebral and quite academic – suck. They bring nothing to the table except massively delusional fans (who will protest like 3-year-olds having temper tantrums when they see their band listed below).
So without further ado, DaRK PaRTY gives you the worst bands in rock history:
It is hard to believe that
Factoid: The first name for the band was “The Tradewinds.”
Worst Album: Pieces of Eight (1978)
Boy George introduced the Amish hat into 80s culture and was responsible for helping make popular oversized shirts that hung down to the knees. At the same time he was destroying the fashion world, he was also helping drive a stake through the heart of alternative music. Culture Club’s pop-laden fluff is so sickly sweet and the lyrics so sugary that diabetics should avoid it at all costs.
Factoid: Boy George sang as “Lieutenant Lush” with Bow Wow Wow before joining Culture Club.
Worst Album: Kissing to be Clever (1982)
Gag Inducing Song: “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?” (the answer, of course, is a responding yes).
Factoid: Part of the resurgence of
Worst Album: Monolith (1979)
Gag Inducing Song: “Dust in the Wind”
Factoid: The song “Heat of the Moment” is sung by Eric Cartman and the U.S. Congress in an episode of “
Worst Album: Alpha (1983)
Gag Inducing Song: “The Heat Goes On”
Soft rock is an oxymoron and Air Supply was king of the soft rock bands. The band performed love ballads that made the average person want to saw off their wrists with a sharp razor. The most difficult part about writing about Air Supply is coming up with their most gag inducing song – because all of their singles fill your mouth with bile.
Worst Album: The One That You Love (1981)
Gag Inducing Song: “Here I Am (Just When I Thought I Was Over You”
Worst Album: The Final Countdown (1986)
Gag Inducing Song: “Carrie”
Some people (deranged people) will argue against Huey’s inclusion on this list. Harmless, they’ll mutter. They’ll say: Wasn’t “I Want a New Drug” kind of a good song? They’ll add, didn’t the band win an academy award? Don’t listen to these nut jobs. Huey Lewis & the News were awful – so light weight that it’s amazing they didn’t just float away.
Factoid: Huey Lewis has a cameo in the movie “Back to the Future.”
Worst Album: Fore! (1986)
Gag Inducing Song: “Hip to be Square”
Here’s a mid-western arena rock band famous for power ballads. Can someone just shoot us in the goddamn head? And they’re still around – sometimes touring with
Factoid: The name REO Speedwagon comes from a truck built by REO Motor Car Company.
Worst Album: You Can Tune a Piano, But You Can’t Tuna Fish (1978)
Gag Inducing Song: “Keep On Loving You”
THE MOODY BLUES
This band came over with the British invasion that brought
Factoid: The band broke up in 1973, but alas, they reformed several years later to put out the 1978 album “Octave.”
Gag Inducing Song: “Nights in White Satin” (ARRRHHH!!!)
Journey may be the most annoying band on the list because Steve Perry may be the most annoying singer in rock history. Describing his lilting voice as “grating” would be doing a disservice to cheese graters. The band was famous in the early 1980s for its “power ballads” – another word for loud, sappy love songs. And now they simply won’t go away, mostly because they are extremely popular in
Factoid: The band was formed from members of Santana in 1973. Obviously, there was a reason Carlos kicked them out of his band.
Worst Album: Infinity
Lead singer Dee Snider describes Twisted Sister as “Slade meets the Sex Pistols.” A more accurate description would be “KISS meets a wood chipper.” This glam metal band popular in the 1980s had better marketing than music. The heavy guitar infused heavy metal breaks no knew ground and the lyrics so sophomoric as to be insulting to sophomores.
Factoid: Dee Snider used to be a regular on “The Howard Stern Show.”
Worst Album: Stay Hungry
Gag Inducing Song: “We’re Not Gonna Take It” (1984)
Radiohead should have been a one-hit wonder for its “not-bad” single “Creep.” Unfortunately, they kept releasing “art” albums and they may be the most overrated, over-hyped band on the list. Radiohead’s music is overwrought, dense, and sounds like it was recorded inside of a toilet. Lead singer Thom Yorke is a graduate of the Steve Perry school of singing.
Factoid: The band members met while attending
Worst Album: The Bends
Gag Inducing Song: “High and Dry” (1995)
Cinderella was encompasses everything that was wrong with glam metal: Bad hair, tacky outfits, and little talent. If you like melodramatic love ballads screeched by a parrot-voiced singer and surrounded by mediocre guitar riffs and drumming that sounds like a homeless man banging on garbage cans – then Cinderella is the band for you.
Factoid: Cinderella opened for Bon Jovi during the band’s “Slippery When Wet” tour.
Worst Album: Still Climbing
Gag Inducing Song: “Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone)” (1988)
Foghat deserves some credit for being a rock band during the disco era and for the song “Slow Ride” (which is a middle-of-the-road 70s rocker), but the band created some damn mediocre music. The problem with Foghat is that the band doesn’t have an original bone in its rock body. Listen to a best of album from Foghat and you’re left perplexed. Best of what?
Factoid: The band is “This is Spinal Tap” is supposedly based on Foghat.
Worst Album: Rock and Roll Outlaws
Gag Inducing Song: “Ride, Ride, Ride” (1973)
Is there a bigger whiner in rock n’ roll than Billy Corgan? He may be the most ego-driven, weak-kneed front man since Boy George. The band’s sophomore effort “Siamese Dream” had one interesting single in “Cherub Rock,” but the rest of the album feels like your reading Corgan’s diary (which one imagines as pink and locked with a little brass key). Their music – a mix of goth, alternative and electronic – generally sounds like yowling cats being crushed in a cement mixer.
Factoid: Billy Corgan worked in a record store in
Worst Album: Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness
Gag Inducing Song: “Tonight, Tonight” (1995)
Each member of Manfred Mann should be locked up for giving sports stadiums the nauseating “Do Wah Diddy Diddy” – and that’s their best song (They have tunes with titles like “Ha! Ha! Said the Clown” and “Trouble and Tea.” The band rode the British invasion of the
Factoid: After the band broke up, Manfred Mann worked writing advertising jingles
Worst Album: My Little Red Book of Winners!
Gag Inducing Song: “Do Wah Diddy Diddy” (1964)
What is there really to say about this bland 1980s rock band? The song “All You Zombies” is the only reason why any sane person could even be considered a fan. The rest of the Hooter’s repertoire induces cringing a strong desire for the member of Aerosmith to hunt them down and beat them with electric guitars.
Factoid: Rolling Stone Magazine named the Hooters the best new band of 1985 (its amazing the magazine recovered from such an enormous mistake)
Worst Album: Nervous Night
Gag Inducing Song: “Hanging on a Heartbeat” (1985)
The best part of this glam metal band is its mascot (which appears on just about every album cover): a straight-jacketed psycho in a metal hockey mask. Other than that – Quiet Riot offers little in the way of auditory pleasure. The music is loud, but predictable and non-threatening (despite the mascot). It also has the ability to induce a headache.
Factoid: The band appeared in a Simpson episode as a born-again rock group called “Pious Riot.”
Worst Album: Condition Critical
Gag Inducing Song: Metal Health (1983)StumbleUpon | Digg | del.icio.us | Reddit | Technorati | E-mail