Sunday, August 31, 2014

So who is Karl Wiedergott, anyway?

German-born actor Karl Wiedergott in the movie 2 Days. Inset: one of Karl's many, many Simpsons characters

Bill Clinton on The Simpsons
If you have been following the 12-day Simpsons marathon on FXX, there is one name you have undoubtedly seen in the cast credits but may not be able to immediately connect to any particular role. Born in Germany in 1969, Karl Wiedergott lent his vocal talents to a staggering 248 episodes of the extremely long-running animated series, joining the cast in 1998 and staying with the show until 2010 when he left the United States. In addition to its six principal cast members (Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, etc.) and recurring guest stars (Kelsey Grammar, Marcia Wallace, et al.), The Simpsons employs a talented and versatile troupe of additional voice actors, nearly all of them women. Performers like Russi Taylor, Tress MacNeille, Pamela Hayden, and Maggie Roswell have been with the show for decades, voicing a slew of child and adult characters. The odd man out here, in more ways than one, is Wiedergott. Not only is he male and German, but (unlike the women I just mentioned) he doesn't really have any recurring characters on the show. Instead, along with impersonating celebrities like Bill Clinton and John Travolta, Karl Wiedergott spent his time on The Simpsons bringing life to such parts as "Care Worker," "Angry Man," and "Boyfriend 2." Ironically, this thankless work is probably what Wiedergott is best known for, even though he has appeared in dozens of television shows and movies for nearly 30 years. His CV includes such well-known titles as Coach, Columbo, 21 Jump Street, and Star Trek: Voyager. In 2003, he wrote and acted in Two Days, an indie drama whose cast included Paul Rudd, Adam Scott, and Donal Logue. Other film credits for the actor include 18 Again! (1988) and Breakfast of Champions (1999), in which he coincidentally plays a character named Homer. So there you have it, folks. That's the scoop on Karl Wiedergott. And now you know... the rest of the story.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

A comprehensive guide to the novels I didn't write

"How you, uh, how you coming on that novel you're working on, huh?"

"Me, I'm a cab driver."
"Working on my novel" is one of the great cliches/lies of the Internet, a statement as comforting to those who make it as it is annoying to the ones who have to read it. There's a whole Twitter account devoted to people's laughable claims that they're working on novels. This account has recently been turned into a book of its own by Penguin, an impressive feat since it consists only of retweets from supposed authors bragging about their creativity and productivity. Obviously, if you're on Twitter (or any social media site), you're not working on anything, especially not your novel. And even if you do happen to write a novel, who will actually want to read the thing? Virtually no one. But, still, it's a tempting fantasy. We don't want to admit that we're bank tellers, janitors, or substitute teachers, so we tell ourselves that we're really "writers" and that the things we actually do for money are mere "day jobs." This goes for all the aspiring "artists" and "musicians" out there, too. No one is really fooled by this. And yet the charade continues. It's hardly a new phenomenon created by the Internet either. In the pilot for the sitcom Taxi in 1978, career cabbie Alex Reiger (Judd Hirsch) counsels newcomer and aspiring art dealer Elaine Nardo (Marilu Henner) on her first day as an employee of the Sunshine Cab Company. When she says she's "not really a taxi driver," Alex responds:
"Oh, yeah, I know. We're all part-time here. You see that guy over there? Now, he's an actor. The guy on the phone, he's a prize fighter. This lady over here, she's a beautician. The man behind her, he's a writer. Me? I'm a cab driver. I'm the only cab driver in this place."
And you can see his point. There comes a time when you should drop the pretension and admit what you truly are. Well, I'm proud to say that I am most definitely not working on any novels. I wrote one once a few years ago as part of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). It is called Perforated, and it is profoundly unreadable, perhaps even stubbornly anti-readable. I've tried to read it myself and found that this is impossible. (I dare you to get through it.) Even though 2014 is the first year when I was first actually paid for writing something, I would never ever call myself a writer. I'm not one. Jim Thompson was a writer. Dashiell Hammett was a writer. James M. Cain was a writer. I just work for a market research company. That's the real me, as reluctant as I am to admit it. But there's a part of my brain which won't stop coming up with ideas for novels. I will confess that I've put myself to sleep many nights thinking about these would-be books, imagining both their composition and eventual reception. I'm never going to actually write any of these books, but I want to get some mileage out of them before consigning them forevermore to the cemetery of expired dreams. So here, for your reading pleasure, is a fairly comprehensive list of my "aborted" novels. I'll give you their titles if I have them, plus a general description of their contents. I'm not including The Secret Testimony of Miserable Souls, my never-to-be-completed second NaNo novel, because I actually did finally make a short story out of that.

NOTE: None of these are "joke" ideas fabricated solely for this article. The following are all ideas I legitimately considered fleshing out into novels at one time or another.

Friday, August 29, 2014

The public is the worst part of public transportation

Imagine running into this dude at 6:30 in the morning. Not fun, citizens. Not fun at all.

I hate people. Just flat-out hate 'em. Oh, sure, I can make exceptions for individuals. The person reading this article right now might be a great guy or gal. But a generalized, all-encompassing love for humanity? No way. People are just the worst. Why do I feel that way? Because I've gotten to know them through the miracle of public transportation.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Where the hell have I been?

Archie and the gang reenact the myth of Sisyphus.

I have not been updating this blog much for the last couple of weeks (shame on me), but I have a valid-ish excuse. If you read last week's Ed Wood Wednesdays article (and please, please do if you haven't already), you'll know that I came down with what was either the worst cold of my life or some virulent strain of influenza with a wide range of inconvenient symptoms, including the temporary loss of my glorious speaking voice. (The laryngitis came on strong, subsided, came back, and subsided again.) I'm operating at about 90-95% capacity now, but the last two weeks have straight up sucked. Regretfully, I did not face adversity like a champion. Instead, I wallowed in depression and inertia, accomplishing very little. I kept going to work and meeting my obligations there, of course, but everything else kinda went by the wayside. The only thing I've been writing recently are tweets. That doctored Archie comic up there represents my first creative endeavor of any kind in a while. I've been watching the hell out of the 12-day Simpsons marathon on FXX (I don't really give a damn about the "cropping" controversy), but that's pretty much been the extent of my media intake. Other blog/life updates:

  • My dad had to spend some time in an intensive care unit following a procedure to remove excess plaque from his arteries. I'll admit I was scared by this, but he's home now and doing fine. We had a nice long chat yesterday, and seems to be recovering nicely. Even though I'm an atheist, I've done plenty of praying in the last few days.
  • In happier news, I was briefly interviewed by a reporter named Erik Piepenberg from the New York Times for a piece about Ed Wood. I don't know if any of what I said will make it into an article, but it was cool to talk to a professional journalist about something which interests me. I'll keep you posted should anything develop from this. UPDATE: Here is a link to the completed article.I'm only quoted once in it, but it's right near the beginning. And the article does kindly mention Dead 2 Rights and "Ed Wood Wednesdays."
  • Even when I don't post anything new to D2R, I'm always working on upcoming pieces for this blog. I have some stuff planned which I hope you will enjoy.
  • That's it. I have nothing else to say right now. Think of me often as you enjoy the rest of your day.