Last night we went to Gus O’Connor’s Pub in Doolin, Ireland. This city is known as the birthplace of Craic or traditional Irish music and this pub is the epicenter of it all. There is a table with chairs around it in the center of the bar where the musicians gather. They show up from all across Ireland with violins, flutes, accordions, guitars, piccolos, little clicky clacky finger instruments and their voices. They all take turns playing songs and leading the way for the others to follow. As the night progressed different people sitting around me would get up and sing a song of their choosing. The old man beside me who I assumed was another tourist got up and sang a traditional Irish song without any accompaniment in the most beautiful tenor voice I’ve ever heard. Basically, at any point any old jolly drunk from around the bar would get up, take the stage and amaze me. Most of these folks were in their 60s and 70s singing, playing and cheering each other on until the early morning hours. I hope I get to do something I love with my friends in this spirit til I’m that age. It was truly an amazing and inspiring night at Gus O’Connor’s.
I used to sporadically keep a blog called “What I Took Away” where I’d write down my thoughts on a book I just read or a movie I’d just seen so I could revisit them later. I’ve decided to simplify things and just write about that stuff here now. So here ya go.
I just finished reading The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz. I’d heard good things about Diaz and the book, so when I found it for $3 at a used book store, I bought it. It’s the first book I’ve read in a long time that I didn’t want to put down. Diaz’s voice is totally unique and engaging. He’s writing in a style that is completely his own. Oscar Wao is a nerd, a bookworm, a hopeless and tragically misguided romantic, a Dominican-American, and a lot of other things. I suspect Diaz is a lot of those things himself, and he unapologetically incorporates every bit of it into his writing. He writes in English and a little bit of Spanish, he mixes language you might here walking down a block in the Bronx with Oscar’s extensive vocabulary and references to Battlestar Galactica. He describes his characters and their reality in such a unique and vivid way they can’t help but take shape in your mind. For instance, he describes a neighbor lady a prepubescent Oscar was infatuated with as “a thirty-something postal employee who wore red on her lips and walked like she had a bell for an ass.” He sprinkles in real Dominican history with some good ol’ fashioned mysticism.
It’s a good, interesting read. It’s engaging because it is so unique. My takeaway from The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao is to strive to bring my own originality to my creative endeavors. I have a tendency to worry about what other people will think about my work as I’m working. I think a lot of people do that, especially if they’re being paid to create something. I’ve written sketches and taken on projects because I thought they’d appeal to the general public or because a boss thought it might go viral or at least get some clicks. That stuff fades away and gets forgotten almost instantly. I think if you want to make something that people enjoy or at least find interesting, you should strive to make things that capture what is unique, honest and interesting to you.
The new Clipping album comes out tomorrow. Here’s a taste for those of you who like hip hop.
When I was a freshman in high school, I made a series of battle plans along with my older brother and his friends that detailed how we’d take out our entire school once we obtained guns and bombs.
This happened while huddled over my dining room table, and it was funny. We drew blueprints. We made maps. We organized lists of ammunition and inventory and all the different things we’d need to make our military raiding of our own school a success. We figured we’d all have cyanide pills to take ourselves out before we got arrested. We knew we had to take over the nurse’s office first – it’s where all the medical supplies were and it also had no windows, which made it a perfect place for our final showdown when we were inevitably backed in by police as we burned out in a blaze of glory in our bold last stand.
Chris Gethard, nailing it again.
I found out that Nathan was an artist the day I caught him stocking one of the piles of mysterious Diamon Lion postcards that had appeared in some theaters around LA. Diamond Lion is my improv group - none of us had any idea where these postacards had come from. I grabbed one and said “Did you make these??” He just sort of nodded and smiled.
He ended up making a bunch of posters for Diamond Lion. He hand made each of those Rankin and Bass christmas characters (and if you don’t know what we look like, trust me - he nailed it.) Later he made weekly posters for my stand up show, Big Money. My co-host, DC, and I particularly liked the “weird” one he made us for April Fools Day last year. He also drew me that “ferociously cute” dinosaur - which is one of my favorite things, and is the background to my twitter page.
I wanted to post some of the art that he made for me, and the posters, and some stuff he made I just liked, because I want people to see them. But I don’t feel comfortable showing them to you by linking to his blog, because his suicide note is at the top of it, and I guess now it always will be. Even writing the words “suicide note” feels so personal and dramatic, like taping someone’s underwear to the blackboard. Sorry, Nathan.
I don’t have any wise words to finish this with, besides life is short, no matter how it ends. So do everything, dream big, hold tight and when someone tells you your work is remarkable, try to believe them.
The first of three spots I did for Paddy’s Irish Whiskey and CollegeHumor. Basically, being 30 sucks.
This is weirdly mesmerizing.