01 March 2006

Gauntlet, Book Finds, Manny Returns!

I felt like Creskin Monday night watching The Gauntlet. It was funny, too- if you watch that show often enough, they telegraph every twist about 15 minutes in advance. It gets pretty obvious, and makes me feel even more pathetic. Which for some reason, is why I love the show.

Anyway, so the challenge was this ridiculous obstacle course item reject- I won't even get into it. It was done in pairs, and the blue team went first, with their first group getting it done quickly, and then their final group finishing strong. In between, all their pairs shat the bed.

Next went the red team, who had their first team complete the challenge successfully, followed by a string of markedly pathetic performances (including Stelarczyk, who couldn't pull her ass up a ladder). Then it was down to the final pair- everything was riding on this (right?). If they finished in decent time, it was pretty much guaranteed (right?). Up they went, over they went, and back they came- no penalties, and pretty swiftly done. The red team won! Everyone celebrated, Mark Long (In the Tooth) screamed like an X-Gamer into the camera, people jumped into the nearby water, overcome with their victory. The blue team sat sullenly shaking their heads. Their captain, who fucked up herself, tried to show everyone how hard she was taking it- "I am UNGOD-ALLY pissed right now."

But then back from commercial, where I was thinking the entire time that there was more than met the retard's eye, there was TJ (Terrible Job) Lavin giving the check to the blue team. Seems that when you perform better in a given contest, you know- you win. Turns out you can't just decide you won something. Memo to Yankee fans on that, too.

Anyway, this was riotously funny for many reasons, but only funny for a moment, because what happened next was a cavalcade of funny. Really, if you don't watch this show, you're totally missing out. It's like a good corndog- surely made of some disgusting parts, and definitely rotting me out somewhere- but tasty and corny nonetheless.

So anyway, since their team hates her, they were glad that, as a result of their loss, captain Beth Stelarczyk was going to the gauntlet. They all nominated Aneesa to go in after her so that her Mad Max haircut would scare her shitless. As if THAT wouldn't scare her enough, when the Gauntlet category was being spun for on the Big Wheel, Aneesa sat there calmly intoning "beachbrawlbeachbrawlbeachbrawl." When Beach Brawl, in fact, did pop up, she turned into Ray Lewis and screamed, running from the room like a big, scary, Mad Max gladiator. Beth looked like she wanted to fucking cry. I couldn't stop laughing.

So cut to commercial and I thought- there's no way she does this. No chance. She'll just quit. She just likes to go on these things to be on TV and act like a dumb whore. Sorry, it's true.

Back from commercial, they get called out for the challenge- and Stelarczyk's in jeans. For a mission that requires baby oil and a full on wrestling match. As much fun as it is to be right, I had hoped I was wrong. Watching Beth get tossed around in a brawl like that would have been HIGH-larious.

As if the quitting wasn't funny enough (she was like, "Uh, I'm not doing it" like it should have been obvious to everyone watching- which, I guess, it should have), her reasons were fantastic:

"I'm not going to compromise my values for a little bit of money."

It's so funny I'm just going to stop there. Think about that for a second. Jesus.

To finish up the episode, there was an unprecedented move by the red team- a group "fuck you!" sendoff at the end, to the camera. A first in the history of the show.

That's Stelarczyk for ya.

Speaking of funny- but real-life funny, and not "check out these retarded people" funny- I finally caught the Dave Chappelle Inside the Actor's Studio.

(As a sidebar- I, like many people, had considered both James Lipton and his show a bit of a joke for a long time. He's obviously really pretentious, and a show that had seemingly started as a forum for "getting to know" serious, great actors, started running out and letting the Ben Afflecks and Billy Joels and Jennifer Lopezs of the acting world on the show. Then it became the David Letterman show without David Letterman to me.

But then I saw Lipton as the warden on Arrested Development. He was unbelievably funny. Seriously hilarious. So now the show is back to being interesting to me with the right guest.)

First thing I didn't know about Dave- his mother is an unbelievable person. A scholar with, as Dave put it- "a stack of degrees," she started the first (I hope I have this right) PhD program in America for Black Studies. Pretty incredible.

Anyway, I don't have a whole lot to add by the way of interesting commentary on the episode, just to comment on how much more it made me like him- and I already nearly worship the guy. He's bright, articulate, principled, and completely fucking hilarious. Him describing the whole Africa affair was funny, heartbreaking, insightful and kind of sad. But the end- him describing returning to the stage in Cincinnati, nervous ("close to home, so I could run back if I had to")- made the hair on my neck stand up.

Stuff like this reminds you why you like people, I guess. He's humble- but I enjoyed how he never allowed any of this personal revelation sessions ever invade his persona as a stand up. This happens sometimes, I think- it happened to Ellen a little bit, though she seems to have avoided it since. It's kind of hard to define, but I honestly think a comedian has a slight responsibility to protect that persona- whoever they are when they're being funny- with their life. And sometimes, you know, doing a Barbra Walters interview, as an example, is a good way to damage that persona. Dave was pretty adept at avoiding that trap, though I'm not sure I really know "why." I'm making zero sense, aren't I?

Chappelle's the man. End of story.

Remember last week when I got a shitload of books for very cheap? Went to the same booksale today, and got hooked UP. First of all- the paperbacks are .50 cents a piece, 3 for a dollar. I had to sift through seemingly endless piles of romance novels to find the following:

  • Metamorphoses, by Ovid

  • The 42nd Parallel, by John Dos Passos

  • The Big Money, by John Dos Passos

  • As You Like It, by William Shakespeare

  • Le Morte D'Arthur, by Sir Thomas Malory

  • Rise to Globalism: American Foreign Policy, 1938-1980, by Stephen E. Ambrose

  • The amazing thing is the Dos Passos finds- it's parts one and three in the trilogy, all three of which I'd come thisclose to buying at full price elsewhere a few times. I had to put down an old bio of Henry Winkler called Aaaayy! The Story of the Man Behind a Pretty Cool Guy Named Fonzie and a book called Athletes Afire: testimonials from pro athletes touched by Jesus. They both seemed awesomely funny, but totally useless.

    I can't overstate how big a kick I get out of something like this. Cheap used books are like mannah from heaven to me.

    Look who decided to show! It's Manny!

    Baby Bull back in camp...

    New LOST tonight- it's a Claire episode- so more on that, including the 1997 Braves tomorrow.

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