January 27, 2009

Dan Zembrosky

I met Dan Zembrosky when I joined the MQ, the satire paper where I first learned that the purpose of my life is to write. I soon came to recognize him as a kindred spirit; he romanticized the spit-balling and mugging of the writer’s room as much as I did; he too had found his direction in that tiny, noisy cubicle around the thick, ancient conference table.

Dan Zembrosky is the reason I carry around a little black notebook to write ideas in. I’ve never met anyone so full of ideas, and so in love with their ideas and with the ideas of others. He would open up that notebook and riff off hundreds of article premises, sketch ideas, concepts for sitcoms and movies and kids’ shows, and light up as if the characters and images were appearing in the air before his eyes. I had to have one of my own.

When Dan finished his first (genuinely funny, and well-structured, and human) screenplay, he sent it to me to read. I took it as a tremendous honor. In fact, Dan is one of only two people in the world whose opinions on my writing actually make me stop, and think, and rewrite, without questioning, without arguing. Not that there wasn’t arguing. With Dan I reached the depths of frustration and the heights of exalted creation.

And when Dan asked if I’d be interested in collaborating on a film, I jumped at the chance. It was my first serious filmmaking experience, and it was torture. Together we wrote ten drafts and filmed hours of footage in a rented on-campus soundstage filled with sod we had to haul into a futuristic apartment we nail gunned together ourselves out of sheets of plywood. It was such a wonderful, miserable experience I’ve been making films ever since.

And the killer is, we never did get that thing edited. Which is a fucking shame.

When I moved to Los Angeles, Dan was waiting for me with a writing job and a finely grilled steak. Again, I had the privilege of helping bring one of the escapees from his little black notebook to life. And when the pilot we wrote got ear-marked by the higher-ups for studio pitching a few weeks ago, I was thrilled to get a call from Dan asking if I wanted to come on board as a story editor if the show made it to air.

He was my editor. He was a colleague. He was a writer, a thinker, an idea man. He’d rather talk about a project than eat, something he proved to me over many unfinished Wahoo’s fish tacos. He was a kindred spirit. He was and always will be an influence. He was the life of the party; the size of his spirit was matched only by the size of his jewfro.

He was someone who made me want to write, to make comedy, to make film. He was someone who made me do the things I do, helped make me the person I hope I’ll be.

He was someone who made me laugh.

He was my friend.

He was 24.

Thank you for everything Dan. Thank you so much. Your little black notebook was still too full for this to happen. I love you.

January 26, 2009

Dayy-VID LETTERmannn!

My latest Cracked article is up here, and if you scroll to the bottom of it you can watch Madonna say "act the fool" a shocking number of times in a twenty-minute interview. Then, while you're pondering the implications of that, you can absent-mindedly click here, unwittingly Digging the article and ensuring my ultimate victory. Fools.

January 19, 2009

Mike LiveBlogs Innauguration Ceremony

Wanted to let you all know I (and my fellow Cracked columnists Dan O'Brien and Wayne Gladstone) will be blogging about the inauguration tomorrow AS IT OCCURS. This is known in the biz as "doing it live," a technique pioneered by pundit/possible goblin Bill O'Reilly. You can check it out here. All the action starts at 11:30 EST, which is 8:30 for us Westerners.

S.W.A.I.M., Episode 7!

In honor of the inauguration, and the hope for change engendered by the election of Our Lord and Savior Barack Obama, I decided to make a Cracked TV episode figuring out ways to mock him. Apparently I just can't be pleased.

January 17, 2009

Mission: Wikomplished!

I just wanted to take a moment to send out a big thank you to Brent Donoughe, the intrepid Muskets! fan who answered the call and busted out a radical TAM! Wikipedia entry all over the Internet's face. Peruse it at your leisure, and, if you're so inclined, add information such as who is the handsomest Musket, and with whom you would most like to exchange letters of philosophical bent. It takes a village, so feel free to correct, edit, add, redact (Brent's word), what have you. In the meantime, we're going to sit back, relax, and enjoy some of that sweet, sweet Wikipedia money.

Thanks Brent! You're our official Superfriend of the millennium.

January 12, 2009

Hot Cartoon Action

If, like me, you despair for today's generation of sex-starved kids, then you might get a kick out of my latest article over at Cracked ranking the hottest women from 80's cartoons. And by "kick" I mean...you know, anything. I don't judge.

January 8, 2009

Superjail! Is Badass

I try to rarely express my own opinions on the site. Frankly, it's considered bad form, which is why comedians are so notoriously soft-spoken and affable. But I just became aware of the new [adult swim] show Superjail!, and I think you should all be aware of it too, for the following reasons:

1. It's the cartoon Tex Avery would be making if he were still making cartoons.

2. It's got some of the most lovingly-done animation in recent memory. The whole thing feels like an incredibly elaborate notebook doodle given glorious life.

3. The episodes are only like ten minutes long, so you can watch the whole first season (here) on your lunch break.

4. David Wain is the voice of The Warden. If you don't know who that is, get the fuck off of my website, then google him, then come back.

5. There are moments where it feels like a comic strip (complete with three-panel sight gags), moments where it feels like Loony Toons (complete with eyes bugging out and tounges wagging down to the floor) and moments where it feels like a bad acid trip (complete with laser time monsters, intestine-drenched combat robots, and a man and his pet bird eating a severed penis).

6. You need something to restore your faith in [adult swim] after the announcement that they're picking up King of the Hill for syndication.

7. I'm making it my official Recommendation Of The Day ®.

Watch it. Lemme know what you think. Or tell me I was an idiot for not seeing this earlier.

January 7, 2009

2012...Realistic Edition

Roland Emmerich's got another movie about the end of the world coming out, and like Independence Day and The Day After Tomorrow, it'll probably be a wild flight of fancy. Well, I'm sick of it, and I decided to bring the film back to a more relevant, pressing real-world issue. That's what I'm all about, after all...keepin' it reeeeeeeeeeeal.

THX 1247 Reviewed

2009 is looking to be an amazing year for movies, running a gauntlet of genre. The year has had a few seats revealed early at the Oscar table, including cowardly robots, has-been wrestlers, and of course, pyromaniac jokers. A late but welcome addition to the '09 family was "THX 1247."

Nothing can fully prepare us for the virtuoso direction of 1247. At its heart, it is a world threatened by the global extermination of the Millennium virus. With the trigger in the hands of a teenage overlord, our salvation lies in a skillful, patient spy (Michael Swaim), who is also teenaged. But don't let the stylized world scare you, this tipsy-turvy thrill ride catches every gasp with a rich soundtrack and the promise of unique characters that only a George Lucas homage could provide.

Once the directors have the audience completely enthralled by the two-man tension of the opening sequence, they place on-screen the drama of a floppy disc (a cinema verite meditation on the glorification of technology). Armed only with a few frames, StormDragon Productions put the film world on its feet in outrage. A cinematic gesture that could put a smile on face of even the harshest critics, though that's just the opinion of this fair-haired film reviewer.

At one point, the film provides what can only be called low-light magic, as the clear nod to Chris Carter doesn't fall short, at least for this hairy-chested fan.

By the end of the experience, you've felt the turmoil of a crime story from the inside out. Its predecessors (Goodfellas, Miller's Crossing) are left in admiration of the achievement of a film that is both academic and universal. I can't think of a better reason to pay the price of admission, but that's just me: a man who has chlamydia.

Written, directed, and starred by a virtuoso team of writer/producers, 1247 knows all its references. Instead of Lucas' lone wolf breaking out, Swaim rather ingeniously plays a man trying to get in. However, like the film with which the title comes, we learn a lesson too frequently ignored: these men are more than just numbers.

I think i speak for all moviegoers when I offer the following to these brilliant new comers, in their own debut's last words: we shall meet again. At least, they impressed me (I have oddly shaped balls).

Abe Epperson
Golden State Review

January 6, 2009

THX 1247 (The Shittiest Christmas Gift Ever)

This is the first (and worst) video I ever had a hand in. It stars a bunch of my High School friends and the fat version of me, and as much as I'd like to deny it, none of it is intended to be funny. The ridiculous title, horrendous dialogue, even the glaring editing gaffs are all things that seemed like a good idea to our acne-riddled brains.

If you can keep that in mind, I think you might enjoy watching this nearly half as much as I do. Watch it quick, before Youtube takes it down for its FLAGRANT copyright violations! Apologies in advance to Our Lady Peace and Moby.

January 5, 2009

S.W.A.I.M., Episode 6!

The first few seconds of this episode may convince you that I am a popular political pundit featured on the Fox News Network. DO NOT BE FOOLED. Keep watching, and I'm sure you'll find some of that SWAIM charm buried just beneath the surface. Get digging.

2009 Those Aren't Muskets!