Friday, September 30, 2011

In Defense of Napping

The purported bastion of housecats and the slovenly, napping has suffered unduly as an affliction akin to alcoholism or loose morals. Enough, I say! How can we, as civilized persons, proscribe napping to an ignoble death without heretofore considering the indefatigable Pros & Cons?

1. Effective restorative—Naps have been proven to fully reinvigorate a grown man in as few as 20 minutes
2. Deceit reduction—Men and women who can freely admit that they are really, really tired—probably from being hungover—have displayed a tendency to tell fewer lies in general
3. More bathroom stall availability—Workers napping at their desks are 75% less likely to doze in bathroom stalls for five minutes in between meetings.
4. Rebalancing of the four bodily humors—Studies* have shown a marked decrease in yellow and black bile levels of regular nappers versus non-nappers

*Modern Mage Magazine, April 4th, 2011 B.C.

1. Noisy—In certain instances, nappers have been know to snore rather loudly and at inopportune times, like conference calls
2. Messy—Non-napping co-workers have reported an up-tick in drool puddles left on the faux-wood tables in the employee break room

As we can see, four pros trump two cons. Therefore, we can safely surmise that zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Book Review: And here’s the kicker By Mike Sacks

The Premise:
Conversations with 21 top humor writers and their craft.

The Good:
This is an outstanding book for anyone who has ever thought about becoming a professional humor writer.

Mike Sacks interviews top humor writers—some luminaries and some obscure—from a wide variety of disciplines, including TV, movies, books, magazines and syndicated columnists. Most of the conversations include stories about how the writers got their start, where they find inspiration and what aspiring writers can do to break into the business.

Also included are “Quick and Painless Advice” sections, which provide helpful tips on submitting work, finding an agent or getting hired fulltime.

The Bad:
The only criticism is that the book is a bit light on female and minority writers, but the industry is notoriously dominated by white males, so it’s not really a fair criticism of the book itself.

The Verdict:
Buy it. Read it. Go back to it over and over again whenever you have writer’s block or want some inspiration.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

If you're not going to stand for something ...

                                                                      ... stand for everything.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Put it in your face.

Brown the meat.
Drain the grease.
Chop stuff up.
Throw it all together in a slow cooker.
Watch some football.
Scoop it out with your bare hands*.
Serves 4 Tads.

 *Don't do this.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Old Shows Worth Watching

It's natural to ask, "what's next", but sometimes it's just as rewarding to ask, "what worked". Here a few shows that can still deliver the goods, even decades or years later.

The Sandbaggers—A simmering, taut thriller from the UK that takes a realistic look at the men and women who have to make the decisions when spies are in the field. Set in the middle of the cold war, it’s espionage without the cocktails and witty repartee.

The Avengers—Campy, stylish, witty, surreal. A superhero show before superheroes were popular.

The Dick Van Dyke Show—I could make a joke about how women should watch this show as a lesson on being a dutiful wife, but that would undermine the sheer joy of watching this idyllic half-hour of television. Still quite funny, both intentionally and unintentionally.

Fawlty Towers—A mere 12 episodes, this PBS-staple (or at least it was during pledge drives) feels more like a 3-ring circus or a stage play than a TV show. And that’s a very, very good thing.

Frasier—One of the smartest and well written shows ever. Skip college—a master-class in comedy writing.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Good shows that just didn’t do it for me.

There are shows that work for me and shows that don't. Are they still quality shows? Sure. Who knows, maybe one of these will be your new favorite show?

Battlestar Galactica—I really liked this show when it first started. Then it started to s-l-o-w d-o-w-n. By the middle of the third season, I almost dropped it. But, thankfully, it picked back up in the last season and sprinted to the finish line. Still, some better direction could have made this one of the better political dramas, instead of just okay.

The Sopranos—People talked about the finale. I never made it that far. I liked the first four seasons, but after a while I just stopped caring.

Bored to Death—Jonathan Ames is a funny writer. Jonathan Schwartzman, Zack Galifinakis and Ted Danson are all game. So why does this show feel so flat?

Archer—At first, I loved this show. By episode three I needed a shower. Dare I say … too crass? Yes, and I've watched Eastbound & Down.

The League—Same thing here. This is a funny show with very funny comedians, but I just didn’t like hanging out with the characters. Probably too close to the guys in my fantasy football league (I kid, I kid).

The Tick—There were a few good episodes, but this show was either ahead of its time or just missed it. Either way, while the actors and writing were good, it just couldn’t sustain itself over a full season.

Deadwood—Talk, talk and more talk. How could a western be so boring? Oh yeah: too much talk.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Shows you may have missed

Some shows get hyped and some squander in obscurity until someone whose opinion you trust comes along and writes a blog post about it. Hey, I get it. We've all been there.
Pushing Daisies—A modern-day fairy tale, magically rendered. Part romantic comedy, part noir crime drama, this show lasted two seasons before being hastily wrapped up. Still worth every gorgeously shot frame.

The I.T. Crowd—Few shows have actually brought me to tears from laughing. This is one of them. The show follows two I.T. techs and their manager as they deal with all of us corporate idiots on the other end of the help line. Recent seasons of the show have fallen off a bit in quality, but the first two seasons are essential viewing.

Party Down—This show only lasted 2 seasons, but it was essentially a smarter, funnier, more brutally honest companion piece to the glitz and glamour of shows like Entourage. The show follows would-be actors and writers as they work their catering day jobs.

Undeclared—The only show I ever wrote a letter about to try to save from cancellation. Alas, Judd Apatow’s foray into College life was not to be. While it lasted only one season, it still left quite an indelible impression on me and still holds up after all these years.

Extras—By the creators of The Office (UK), this show was constantly surprising and excruciatingly uncomfortable. A parable for the almost famous. The guest appearances by Sir Ian McKellen and David Bowie are priceless.

Flight of the Conchords—Some people I know still haven’t seen this. Ridiculous. Two New Zealand musicians come over to America to make it big. They don’t.  While Brit and Jermaine are good, Murray and Mel are the true stars of the show. And the songs are pretty catchy, too. The creators intended the show to only last two seasons and, despite becoming a hit, kept their word.

Firefly—A western set in space. By Joss Whedon. Often intense, sometimes chilling, constantly thrilling and always fun, the show lasted one season and a movie before riding off into the sunset.

Veronica Mars—A snarky, wise-crackin’ high schooler with a knack for solving crimes? I’m as surprised as you are. The first season is great, the second is okay and the third just doesn’t hang together.

The Venture Brothers—A spoof of Johnny Quest, this animated show wanders into some uncomfortable territory. Often. But the writing is sharp and Brock Samson is a force of nature.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Shows you should have watched by now

Some shows are up for debate. These are not. These are required viewing.

The Wire—The best show about how drugs impact a community (well, until Breaking Bad came along). It starts as a simple cops versus robbers tale, but adds layer after layer until no life is left untouched.
Favorite seasons: 1, 3 & 4

Freaks & Geeks—Who didn’t feel like a freak or a geek in high school? Answer: Jocks. But this poignant coming of age story from Judd Apatow follows a sister (freak) and brother (geek) as they try to make sense of the best years of their lives. Launched the careers of Seth Rogan, James Franco and Jason Siegel.
Favorite episodes: Yeah, just watch it already.

LOST—Yes, it “lost” its way. But no other show was as ambitious or enthralling. At this point, it’s more about the journey than the destination. It may well be the last scripted show that EVERYONE watched and talked about.
Favorite seasons: 1, 2 and 5

Arrested Development—Clever doesn’t always work. But this show wasn’t afraid to mix bad puns with brilliant timing to create two incredible seasons and one average one.  
Oscar:              “And to think I was going to share with you some of my Pop Secret.”
Buster:             “Pop? Secret? Oscar is my father??”
Favorite seasons: 1 & 2

Futurama—Better than the Simpsons. There, I said it. By making the Homer character a robot sidekick named Bender, this show managed to maintain more heart and, let’s face it, plot, than its predecessor.
Favorite episodes: Kra-block, Roswell that ends well, The Prisoner of Benda

Monday, September 19, 2011

What I’m watching

You don’t need the Emmys to tell you what’s worth watching. You just need an Internet connection and the ability to read awesome words. Also, I never remember the names of episodes, so I just kind of vaguely describe them. As you can see, I'm not looking to add any shows, however, if anyone is digging one of the new shows this season, let me know and I may check it out.

Louie—More a series of short films than an actual TV show, Louis CK elevates the medium—and humanity—to new heights. Hilarious, unflinching, heartfelt and, oftentimes challenging, this show is nothing but honest. Favorite episodes: All of them.

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia—And then there’s this show. Crass, offensive, obscene, immoral and depraved? Yes. Fearlessly funny and unpredictable? Without a doubt. There isn’t a topic or situation that “The Gang” isn't afraid to tackle or round kick to the face. Unfortunately, I don’t have cable and have to wait for Hulu to air them, so I'm always behind on the watercooler chatter.
Favorite episodes: Dayman, The Dance Contest, and War Eagles.

How I Met Your Mother—This show should have been four seasons long. It’s on its sixth (or seventh?), but Neal Patrick Harris’s “Barney Stinson” is legen … wait for it … dary. Favorite episodes: Slapsgiving, The Bracket, Robin Sparkles

Modern Family—The most traditional of the shows (even with a homosexual couple) is still a pretty consistently funny one. If I had to write a slogan for the DVD cover, it’d be “Zany with a touch of heart. $14.99.”
Favorite episodes: Halloween/Spiderman, Manny’s Date, Fizbo.

Community—Genre-bending. Week to week this show is redefining what a sitcom could be and should be. Is it a bit overacted? Sure. Does that just make it more endearing? OF COURSE!!!
Favorite episodes: Dungeon & Dragons, Paintball Wars, The Trampoline one

Parks & Recreation—I have a confession to make: I’m only through season 2. And I resisted watching it for a long time because I felt it was a retread of The Office (USA). But people kept recommending it to me and I’m glad I caved. There’s not a weak link in the cast and the show just keeps getting funnier and funnier.
Favorite episodes: Ron “F-ing” Swanson, Tom Haverford’s divorce, 94 meetings

Fringe—Yep, not caught up on this one either. So feel free to ruin it for me. But this finally feels like a J.J. Abrams show that works and will have a satisfying resolution (Alias fell off after season 2 and Lost was divisive).
Favorite episodes: I don’t even want to mention them because the less you know, the more you’ll enjoy this show.

Burn Notice/Chuck—These shows are pure popcorn. Spies save the world and/or Miami on a weekly basis, with over the top action sequences and witty banter to boot? Affirmative.
Favorite episodes: Every single season finale. Always cliffhangy!

Breaking Bad—Flat-out the best, most intense drama on TV. It takes a few episodes to get going, but once it hooks you, you’ll never forget it. Unfortunately, I don’t have cable, so I have to wait for the DVDs, but I am caught up through Season 3.
Favorite episode: The Basement one, Heisenberg, Fly

Friday, September 16, 2011

From the opposable: disposable.

Our thumbs and our brains (and some would say our rugged good looks) are what truly separate us from the rest of the animals. Sure, the lion is the fearsome king of the jungle, but ask one to open a jar of pickles and it’s no better than a mewling babe. Our ability to make and create is seemingly without limit.

Consider the miracle that is a glass bottle. Austere in form, robust in variety and essential to modern convenience, the glass bottle starts as desert sand (silica) and, ironically, with enough heat, becomes capable of capturing and holding water.

And that’s just a glass bottle. Cars hold people, houses hold lives and technology holds memories.

So it’s frustrating when these things fail us. And when they fail us consistently, we have a choice to make: Fix it or forget it?

My trusty scanner has been acting up lately; it won’t talk to my computer. Apparently they had a falling out when I was busy drawing an inspirational cartoon called “American Magic” of an eagle carrying a baby unicorn, because when I went to scan it in, I received an error message. It’s like I’m a coach trying to get his two star players to work together again as a team.

“Scanner, remember that time Computer commented on how nice your resolution was? And Computer, didn’t if feel good to hear that Scanner liked working with you over any other machine? Guys? Guys???”

So I brought in some outside help: I downloaded a new driver, installed it and … nothing.

Basically, the manufacturers have given up on my scanner. They’ve moved on. The last available software update was in 2005. The body is willing, but the brain is obsolete. To rejuvenate my scanner, I have to build a time machine. Go back several OSs until they are compatible again. But trapping a relationship in amber, freezing it in a perfect, crystalline moment in time, isn’t any more real than my eagle/unicorn picture (although it is pretty amazing).

Maybe the question isn’t “fix it or forget it”. Maybe it’s “accept it or reject it”?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Tauntlet™: 13 Questions with Unsanctioned GARBAGE PARTY

I recently sat down with (emailed questions to) the creator of the just launched, but extremely funny, Unsanctioned GARBAGE PARTY (that's how it's spelled). Let's just say things got a bit "messy".

Who are you?
I’m the guy behind the Garbage Party website and Twitter page. Both just launched this week. I do all the writing, and I design everything on the site. As of today I literally have ONE follower on Twitter. I’m not gonna lie, it feels good.

Is it presumptuous to assume you have friends?
Is that what this is about?

What is your favorite catchphrase?
Whatever is just past its prime and starting to get old. That’s when I like to act as if I just found out about it.

If you could have a superpower, what would it be?
Leaving dotted lines behind me like in The Family Circus.

What is your credit card number?
Hold on…

What’s wrong with you?
I don’t think there's anything wrong, per se…but, I’ve got my issues. What you mean, specifically?

Why don’t you do something with your life?

What?! I did. I mean, I am. I thought that’s what this was about.

What is your favorite food?
I’m not sure how that’s relevant to anythi…

What is your favorite animal?
What, am I six years old?

If we had flying cars, but they were all Ford Festivas, would they still be cool?
Hell yeah! They still fly, right!

Why can’t you get anything right?
Listen, if you don't like what I do, that's one thing...But, right now you're being aggressive

Can you be any more annoying?
Yeah, I'm about to get more punch-y too.

Finish this statement: “My lover(s) knows that I ___Well, I gotta get back to work. Take care of yourself.____?”

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

How to Talk Trash

I get that I’m opening myself to all sorts of public ridicule with this topic. I do. It’s like talking about how to fight and then getting knocked out with the first punch.  

That said, dear readers, some of you need a crash (course) in the trash.

1. Figure out if you can take a joke. The golden rule is that if you dish it out, you have to take it. No exceptions. If you can’t, stop reading now.

2. Think of trash talk like a good practical joke—a lot of thinking and planning goes into pulling it off, no one gets hurt, nothing gets personal and everyone has a good laugh.

3. “Your mom” is not an acceptable retort. Some people take it personally and, as a joke, it’s older than, well, your mom.

4. Start small. There’s no need to bring up the early 1990 Buffalo Bills out of the gate. Save that for when it really counts.

5. Remember that trash talk is a spectator sport. Be creative with your comebacks. Work on your timing. Play to the crowd. Don’t sign autographs—it’s too showy.

 6. Familiarize yourself with conventional joke structures. A classic is the old: Your (mom/quarterback/taste in music) is so (old/fat/out of touch) that (her wedding ring started as coal/linemen feel thin/it’s come back around).

7. Dive in. Try something out. Take your lumps.  Learn from them. And one day, maybe, just maybe, you’ll be lucky enough to get made fun of by me (see what I did there?).

Monday, September 12, 2011

So you want to compost?

I have a confession to make: I compost. I know, I'm just as surprised as you are. Now, before you call me a dirty, smelly hippie, let me explain something: I don't have a green thumb, but give me a house plant and I'll kill it in a week. So I'm playing to my strengths, really.

 First, I read a bunch of books. Okay, one book. It was by the Urban Worm Girl ( and she covers both outside and inside composting.

For the unfamiliar, composting is basically controlled decomposition. You take your non-animal kitchen scraps, place them in a container so animals can't get at them, cover the pile and all sorts of bugs, mainly worms, and micro-organisms, like bacteria, eat the garbage and turn it into nutrient-rich soil.

There are a ton of expensive, elaborate and convenient options. For me, I chose to go the basic route: a hard-rubber garbage can with lid and a bungie to hold the lid down.

You'll also need a drill to get started.

Drill about 20 holes in the bottom and around the base, so that earthworms can get inside and work their magic.

Next, dig a hole in the ground, deep enough to cover the holes around the base.

Once you have table scraps, lawn clippings and such, throw them in.

Cover the pile with old bathmats, carpet scraps, etc. to hold moisture in and encourage those worms to get busy.

Secure the lid and strap down the bungie. Add scraps as needed. Once in a while, turn the pile with a pitchfork.

Now, if you're like me, you won't want to run out to the composter 3000 every time you eat some food. So, what I do is fill a simple Tupperware container with my scraps, place it in the refrigerator and take it out when it gets full. 

Just don't mistake it for lunch. Good luck and great composting!

This Week: Trash

They say that one man's trash is another man's blog post. They do. They actually say that.

From composting to garbage people to talking trash, That Tad Guy is going to show you, dear readers, how to turn your trash into treasure, your garbage into gold, your refuse into respectability.

Friday, September 9, 2011

If your body is a temple ...

Friday Funnies? Nah, I just thought I'd explore a series of cartoons, all with the same setup. Yuk yuk.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Endorsed by: The Blog Stalker

A friend of mine refuses to make any comments on the blog, but will send me follow up emails signed "The Blog Stalker". So I made them their very own logo. And consider it a sort of implicit endorsement, like the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval. So "Huzzah!" to being blog stalked.*

*If my blog ends up on an episode of Law & Order: SBU (Special Blogging Unit), you heard it hear first.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Book Review: Design Is How It Works By Jay Greene

The Premise:
Design can be the difference between success and failure. Whether it’s product design, designing an experience or both, Jay Greene looks at companies that he believes have embraced a culture of design and have succeeded in the marketplace as a result.

The Good:
When the profiled companies fit the premise, this book is chockfull of insights on how to create and implement a culture of creativity. Some of the best, to me, were:

Bang & Olufsen—No designers on staff; all freelancers to avoid office politics and bureaucracy

Porsche—“In the beginning, I looked around but couldn’t find the car I dreamt of, so I decided to build it myself.” –Ferry Porsche

LEGO—“If you put guiding principles in place, you empower people to make the right decision.”—Paal Smith-Meyer

OXO—“We asked the wrong question, set the wrong criteria and got the wrong answer.”—[I liked the quote but forgot to write down the attribution. Sorry! –That Tad Guy]

Clif Bar—An example of failure as a prototype

Virgin—A blueprint for being aggressive in lean times and how to consider experiences like a theatre set

ACE Hotel—A working example of how design can create personality and differentiation, inexpensively

The Bad:
Some of these companies were a forced fit and some provided the same design example (or had considerable overlap) as other, more relevant companies. Also, more than a few seemed to be chosen simply because Mr. Greene had a contact at the company and the chapters ended up feeling like filler. While I can appreciate the hard work that went into this book, I do wish that each company provided a distinctly different example of a design solution.

The Verdict:
Buy it for your client, CEO or team leader. Put it in the hands of anyone who can actually, truly influence how a team or process operates.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

An homage to The Onion: University wishes Alumnus had less pride in school.

SEATTLE, WA—A graduate from the University of Washington caused a stir on Tuesday when he affixed a purple “W” decal to the back window of his faded and rusted 1990 Honda Accord.

“Officially licensed vanity plates and license plate covers are nothing new, but most people usually have a vehicle worth having some pride in first—like a Lexus or Mercedes or at least a car from this century,” said UW Head Coach, Steve Sarkisian.

“While we always encourage our alumni to have pride in their alma mater,” said UW Athletic Director, Scott Woodward, “we feel there are more appropriate ways to express that pride, like with a check or donation.”

When told of the situation following the Huskies’ victory over EWU, UW President, Mark Emmert, said, “Look, while we appreciate the thought, no one is going to come to the University of Washington because they saw a window sticker in the back of a Honda Accord. Especially not that one.”

Saturday, September 3, 2011

A day in the life of the people shooting Paul as seen by Paul and Not Paul of

My friends just launched a site called where you can control a live paintball gun and shoot them. And yes, it hurts. A lot.

Friday, September 2, 2011

How to instantly improve football: let the team with the ball call the timeouts.

Why is a coach allowed to call a timeout? He’s not on the field. He’s not a player. He’s an advisor. Only a player on the field should be allowed to call a timeout. And only the team with the ball should be able to call a timeout. Why? Because they have control of when play starts, therefore only they should have control over when a timeout can be used. The defense doesn’t have possession and therefore should be ready to go at anytime, barring injury. Why is this an issue? Two things: “Freezing the kicker” and “TV timeouts”. They are both horrible and should be punted. Yeah, I said it.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Offensive D-fenestration

I could out coach any coach using one simple rule: do the unexpected. Coaches, as a whole, are too conservative on offense. It’s insulting how predictable they are and, honestly, you could have a computer program coach a better game. It’s that bad. With rare exception, coaches have forgotten that the goal of an offense is to be unpredictable. If I were a coach, I’d get rid of the specialists and go for the athletic specimens. I’d recruit guys with speed who can throw. Get me 11 of them. And place the best three in the backfield. Forget Quarterback, Halfback and Fullback. Make all of them a potential throwing threat and a receiving threat. And a kicking and punting threat, too. When you bring out a specialist to kick, everyone knows what play you’re going to run. When you eliminate certainty, you create opportunity. And for the worst teams in the league, this might just be your best opportunity for a winning season.

Now, when it comes to defense, throw the playbook out the window. All you need to accomplish is this: disruption. Defense is based on one simple tenet: given enough time, a “quarterback” will always find a receiver, even if that “reception” is a handoff to a half- or fullback. The goal, therefore, is to shorten the amount of time a passer has to find a target—both through a combination of pressure from a pass rush and spot-on coverage of their targets. That’s it. Everything else is just overpaid guys trying to justify their salaries.