Criticism. Essay. Fiction. Science. Weather.
1"Mark it 8, Dude." Get it?
Plus, fake facts are for sissies. 2The reality of the unreal
and the art of chewing. 3Getting interrogative with the Dark Continent
and ants are the Internet's idol. 4The author displays his clothes in piles on his bedroom floor. And 1,000,000 Rhode Islanders can't be wrong. 5One size counterfeits all, plus there's a run on limes and the movies don't talk good no more. 6The sweet and no-so-sweet of time travel
and the rigors of uncancellation. 7Personal Parties and Friend Finders considered 8Gamers of the world unite too much
and the new Star Wars scores. 9This week: one guaranteed way
to make yourself more famous. 10Awkward and tacky journalism in celebration of journalism. Plus, individuality now more expensive. 11There are balls in your head
and buds in your heart. 12The upsides of federal incorporation.
The downsides of shoddy adevertising. 13The first 90ways Quaterly Review begins!
1, 2, 3 pieces of Criticism! 14Not being able to look away from
bad grammar and junk material but still LMFAO. 15Spam can be fun if you don't
mind the corporate pimping. 16Some movies go Direct-To-Video.
We feel their pain. 17What the American media doesn't
want you to know about the Tour. 18Dumbing down The Honeymooners for
the preschool set; plus, pain as upper. 19It's 2005. Do you know what your
building's ecological ethic is? 20That building is whispering
ethical nothings in your ear. 21These movies will never know the
warm embrace of a projector lamp. Direct-to-video reviews return! 22The English language is growing & 90ways is on the case.
Neologisms Spoken Here. 23The American frontier is back and ugly as ever:
Here comes Sheriff Privatization. 24When making a British book into a British movie, it's all about the British, no matter what galaxy you're in. 25Condi bites the big one, Apple bites Condi, or Apple just bites. Plus, all the news that's packaged poorly. 26The Second Quarterly Review cometh... 27The rap album based on [adult swim]
has already been leaked. 28The road to Blockbuster is paved with good intentions: Direct-to-Video reviews are back! 29The preschool set belongs inside the lines
and the rain belongs in It. 30They're what everyone's talking with:
Neologisms Spoken Here. 31What time is it?
It's Standard Candy Time. 32Transportation is overrated.
And underrated. 3390ways' investigators go into the field.
And are vaguely saddened. 34See it again, whether you want to or not.
Picture this, in spite of yourself. 35Old comedians don't die,
they just get taken seriously. 36Pro: It's a 90ways debate.
Con: Both sides are just so salient. 37As long as Brokeback Mountain is sold out, we'll keep giving you Direct-to-DVD Reviews... 38At least we can all agree those people who say "Happy Christmas" are insane. 39The Third Quarterly Review
is ringing out the old year! 40New words for the new year. 41False starts and happy endings.
There's value in dead-ends. 4290ways has a confession to make.
We made up our history, too. 43Bringing you the latest from the world of dissembling: 90ways inaugurates the Hoax Report. 44It ain't about the facts, ma'am.
It's about the truth. 45Oscar nominations have been handed out. Direct-to-DVD movies snubbed again. 46What are the 90 points of it all? 47Spring: new growth, redemption,
Spring Traning. 48Technological advances notwithstanding, there's a whole new kind of static over the 6 o'clock news. 49O'Reilly's on the warpath.
The Chinese are not. 50The Hoax Report returns. And Canada beats Team USA. (That last part's actually true.) 51There's a lot packed into that intro and we feel no need to approach it in an organized manner. 52It's a surprise;
that's why you should have seen it coming. 53It's our party and we'll cry if we want to. 54Now that big, gothic banner looks positively antique. Plus, who cares about which cares about baseball. 55Being proud of Junior and bored in June. 56Every time I hear that song, I see a Cornell alum hitting a home run. 57What do heroin and Christian prayer have in common? They both star in the Direct-to-DVD finale! 58The cutting room floor in the desert.
The recording studio at first base. 59Tinted contact lenses and poorly delivered jokes. Foolproof. 60If you can't make a real quick 70 mill, how else do you justify a $125 million budget? 61Landmark case of 2006:
Orchestra v. Organ. 6290ways is interested in the words here, too. 63Everything in Criticism today is not quite right. 64Sports Utility Vehicles. Sort Of.
Sports. Golf, anyway.
65It's our Second Annual First Quarterly Review! 66Behold: The return of new word reviews. 67Bringing global warming in from the cold,
one dollar at a time. 68Don't believe the zinc industry's hype. 69It's crazy on the street.
It's best-selling on the teevee.
70Still crabbing about lost CD revenue?
Time to learn to shake your new moneymaker. 71Thrown into a plane.
With snakes. 72Space and Worlds and
snakes on planes. 73One giant vehicle is for war,
the other is for one day sales. 74It's all laid out for you.
From the numbing consumerism to the noble freedom. 75Sure the natural majesty was great,
but how about that Motel 8? 76One of life's great mysteries:
An Arby's in Mountain Time. 77Fall teevee is upon us.
Maybe some of it won't suck. 7852 + 26 = 78.
One and a half years of Ways. 79The smell of pigskin is in the autumn air. 80Someone needs to speak up in the name of common sense. 81New words are all around us.
Neologisms Spoken Here. 82What Dallas is now to someone who never knew it before: The Nostalgia Watch. 83Oh. The Horror.
A special Halloween installment of The Hoax Report. 84It was awful.
WomenAndChildren awful. 85It's like Carrie, but even better.
And somehow that became a great movie. 86He's in the corner.
And he wants to help you sleep. 87Up in the air. It's a bird. It's a hot-air balloon.
It's the 90ways Hoax Report! 88Tearing through the sentimentality and the water-colored memories: It's the Nostalgia Watch. 89Of all the Anabaptists in all the world... 90It's the week we've all been waiting for. 91We're reviewing the quarter to ring in the new year. 92Ringing it in is a burden we all carry. 93Am I my brother's keeper? 94This is all true. 95Notes to Notes.
Sometimes ears taste better than pens. 96Neologisms Spoken Here.
New words created through misappropriation. 97The lies of the diamond dealers. 98Crime, punishment, and the bits in between. 99Same name.
Different albums. 100All the forensics in the world can't
turn up any evidence of character. 101What makes America great
and not so great. 102Fanboy hand-wringing. Shocking. 103Panic in the streets,
Monsignor style. 104It's our second anniversary.
Break out the cotton. 105He kills for all the right reasons. 106The World's Cheese Imagination is within our grasp... if only. 107It's never an easy choice. 108Just give me one thing I can play for.
The Unfunny Old
Jerry Lewis has been on the move. He has a new book out about his relationship (professional and personal) with Dean Martin and has been on the talk show circuit to promote it. For a man who used to be one of the world's most popular comedians he is shockingly unfunny.
When interviewed, Lewis is a man who takes comedy very seriously, apparently because he no longer has the chops to make it funny. He waxes rhapsodic about what it means to make people laugh, the grave dangers of falling down for a living, and the kind of man Martin was. On NPR's Fresh Air, Terry Gross managed to set Lewis off on a serious discussion of how horrible it is to be stalked. Gross can encourage even the funniest guests to take themselves very seriously, but she was hardly alone in treating Lewis with a reverence that kept him safely away from anything resembling humor. One and all, those men and women assigned to do a story on Lewis essentially hailed him as a great former-comedian. So great in fact, that he is now to be taken very seriously and not laughed at at all.
The few times Lewis cracked out his trademark buffoonery for Gross, she chuckled politely and moved swiftly along. His act is tired and pathetically dated. Even leaving aside the very real question of whether his antics were ever funny, it is clear that now they are not. If Lewis is to appear on news and entertainment programs, it must be as a sort of living legend, an excellent exhibit from Madame Tussaud's, the most expert talking head on the subject of himself. He is recast as an over-earnest Jerry Lewis historian, no longer a funny man.
This is what happens to old comedians. The great ones get shuffled into a category reserved for successful people whose highest highs of popularity are behind them. The exact nature of their achievement becomes less important than that they were successful. The scope and breadth of that success gives programmers and interviewers something else to talk about. Lewis and his contemporaries are moving into that category of people who provide the bulk of the fodder for Biography, AFI top 100 specials, VH1 programming, and specials across sweeps months.
A love of nostalgia, top ten lists, and legends brushes aside the question of humor to get at the success, the greatness, the wonder. Tweedy-looking historians and frowning talk show hosts can intone things like, "At the peak of his popularity, Jerry Lewis was the funniest man in the world" with very straight faces. Nothing funny about it. We're talking about a legend.
Shows that traffic in sincerity and sentimentality, shows like Oprah and the news magazines, revel in getting funny people to be serious. If comedians were always funny how would the viewers at home know when they weren't being put on? How would they learn what comedians are "really like"? Comedies only win best picture Golden Globes because they have their own category, and listening to someone tell jokes is not enough for Katie Couric's audience to truly get to know him. People like Lewis make this transition from comedian interview to soul search easy. He's eager to be brought in on the act. He seems to relish this new role, finally taken seriously after so many years of playing the clown.
Comedy is about the unexpected and the new. Mr. Lewis and many old comedians are very much neither. They chose not to reinvent or reinvigorate themselves, perhaps cannot even find the space to do so in an entertainment industry that prizes the guaranteed financial return of formula. In short, they are out of the joke telling business. Still, it is bizarre to suddenly wax so philosophical about men and women whose job was to make us laugh. To take them so seriously, even if they have craved it all these years, seems a disservice. If we want to convey how funny these people once were why must we go about it in such an earnest, Bob-Costas kind of way? Couldn't we simply show an old Martin and Lewis act or film? Isn't the best way to really appreciate Johnny Carson to watch an old episode of the Tonight Show, rather than listen to the current crop of hosts wind on about how important he was? Instead of hearing how profoundly important Robert Klein was, let's see an old act of his. Instead of watching interviews with Bill Cosby opining about how it feels to be funny, put on one of his old records and listen to him be funny.
Canonization is not the only way to honor men and women who were funny and now have decided to spend their dotage off the edge of the unexpected. Dean Martin would know exactly what to do if he were still alive. He would roast Jerry Lewis within an inch of his life. Comedy Central has made a run at keeping the roast alive with its occasional airing of Friars Club events but when Pam Anderson is getting roasted one gets the sense they're taking the format in a different direction than Dino did. Nonetheless, laughing about, with, and at old comedians offers a more organic way of understanding and discussing people whose job is humor. Or at least, it allows us to acknowledge how influential Lewis was and still ridicule him for being a nattering simp.