Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014
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Is 'Modern Family' Really the Best-Directed Comedy on TV?

On Monday night, Gail Mancuso took home the Emmy for “Outstanding Direction for a Comedy Series” for her work the Modern Family season five episode “Las Vegas.” This was Mancuso’s second win in a row and the show’s fourth win in a row in this category. This year, Mancuso beat out Comedy Film School favorites Louis C.K. and Lena Dunham as well as seasoned film directors Jodie Foster (for Orange is the New Black) and Mike Judge (for Silicon Valley). Looking even further back, the last time a network show director, in which directing is historically more like house-painting than Picasso, lost to a cable director is in 2004, when [...]

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Dress Your Family In Your Lover's Shoes

I was asleep on the overnight train from Carbondale to Chicago, dreaming about snuggling with my boyfriend, Sam. I awoke to find myself reaching for my seatmate—a newly released convict who did not want to snuggle.

“No,” he said, crossing his arms. I knew he was a former inmate from his grey sweatpants, matching t-shirt, and prison-issued sneakers. The Pinckneyville Correctional Center is halfway between Southern Illinois and Union Station. The midnight train is the cheapest option for shipping freed men north.

He shook his head. “I don’t cuddle.”

“Sorry,” I mumbled. It seemed pointless to explain that I’d thought he was my boyfriend of one [...]

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An Awl Programming Note

Do not adjust your feeds; they are working correctly. Rather than let pieces trickle out over the next couple of days while we sit by a pool or alone on a mountaintop and try to pretend that our lives, like the summer, are not rapidly collapsing into a single point of nothingness, we are trying an experiment in which we publish all of the day's stories at once. If it proves successful, we may consider an entirely new form of publishing, in which we bundle an entire day's worth of news and commentary into a single package that we deliver to your doorstep. It has never been done before. We're [...]

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The Cost of Bringing a Person Into The World Via C-Section

The claims section for my personal account on my health insurance provider's website gives me great anxiety lately. This is why. CLAIM ONE: $24,254.25 $14,489.90 Allowable I OWE: $500 Copay

A few notes:

Did I go to the emergency room ($500)? I did not! I went to triage in Labor & Delivery, which is I hope what they mean. I'll give them the benefit of the doubt, though I have no idea why I would do that.

Did I get an ultrasound ($480)? Okay I did but it was for like two seconds in triage when they checked to make sure he was still head down. That [...]

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The Many One-Season Sitcom and News Parodies of Comedy Central

Having previously tackled Comedy Central's multitude of short-lived reality parodies and sketch shows, this time I’ll be examining Comedy Central’s large quantity of news parodies and warped versions of sitcoms.

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The Cost of Throwing a Pony Party for Your Seven-Year-Old Daughter Who's Really Into Horses

As much as I hope my children will come into their own as individuals, there’s something just overwhelmingly adorable about watching my kids be "into" the typical milestones of childhood. So while I very much dream my daughter will one day be some sort of hip-yet-together hybrid of Kate Bush and that woman who flaks GoldiBlox, there is just something irrepressibly cute about her obsession with all things horses and ponies.

To be clear, her horse obsession is the thing of I-Can-Read novels and made-for-cable movies. Though we live in a somewhat rural area, my wife and I are about as far from horse people as you get—not even [...]

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The Best Time I Met Captain Jack Sparrow in Brazil

There's a tiny island town in Brazil called Morro do Sao Paolo where the idea of "the honeymoon" was born. It takes a winding cab ride through the jungle and two boat rides to get there, but once you do, you’re hit by sweeping ocean views and the smell of passion fruit that mysteriously wafts through the air at all times. This is a place where cars aren’t allowed. Where beautiful Argentinean girls with tan legs and ankle bracelets invite you to parties on the beach. Where you dance to the Brazilian pop song of the moment in the rain at 3 am, while guzzling down drinks made of Cachaça [...]

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What's So Special About 'The Richard Pryor Special'?

There's a famous story about The Richard Pryor Show — as Richard Pryor's star was rising in Hollywood in the 1970s, NBC commissioned the man to make a 10-episode sketch program to be broadcast in prime time. Family-friendly viewing not being Pryor's first priority, he clashed with the censors again and again until finally they let him off with only four episodes. These four episodes are still credited with an enormous influence over the genre of TV sketch comedy — directly cited by future blockbusters such as In Living Color and Chapelle's Show — and launching the careers of several performers, including the late Robin Williams in one of his [...]

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The Great Hope of TV's Female Crime-Stoppers

I don’t remember how or why I first started descending into Law & Order afternoons, letting bright days slip by in the darkness of my parents’ den with the curtains drawn. I was seventeen or eighteen – a few years before Netflix made marathoning a known verb and acceptable pastime; all I knew was that the show was hypnotic, and USA never aired fewer than three in a row.

It didn’t occur to me that my particular taste for SVU, the sex crimes spinoff in the franchise, was messed up until I moved east and spent a summer living in New York. There I watched episodes on my friends’ parents’ [...]

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What Happens When 'The Simpsons' Becomes Dad Humor?

1. Hey-hey

Nothing lasts forever. Take me: I used to be a medium-funny guy. You could count on me to bring a reliable number of chuckles to social occasions. I wasn’t hilarious, but I made sure to get a few solid laughs at parties, galas, potlucks, and ad hoc social gatherings.

These days, I don’t know what’s going on. Every once in a while, when I crack wise or make a seemingly-sly reference, the oddest thing happens. A few people laugh, but others just look at me, their faces like ash. In those panicky moments when I wait for the bombed joke to pass, a fear grips my bowels. Perhaps [...]

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On Hair, There and Everywhere, and Intra-Cultural Shame

“A girl told me today that I would be a lot prettier if I got my eyebrows threaded. So I told her she’d be a lot prettier if she got surgery to turn her fivehead into a forehead!!”

File that one under the “swing and a miss” column of my sick burn top hits listicle, but biting wit notwithstanding, my mother was unperturbed.

“Maybe you should start threading your eyebrows,” she conceded, staring fervently at the thicket perched above my nose like it was an unsolvable calculus problem.

I was not expecting that response. I was nine.

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Any article trending on the Internet right now can [...]

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Dude Text Decoded

We dudes can be a confusing, emotionally constipated, nearly-illiterate group of horndogs with smartphones. And since it’s 2014 and most people are paralyzed by the idea of speaking into a phone receiver, we must fumble our path to fornication via cryptic texts which barely constitute as flirting, let alone communication, most of the time.

But hey! I’m a dumb dude with thumbs and a libido! So let me pull back the Old Spice-scented curtain and let you peek inside the mind of the modern bro’s texting intentions:

hey = I am scared, unfathomably scared.

sup? = Please do not discover my insane insecurities, I do not feel cool. Ever.

[...]

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Producing a Beyoncé-themed Burlesque Show on a Budget

Part one of a series, wherein the author attempts to answer the question, "Can I produce A NYC burlesque show without losing my shirt?"

It wasn't long after I became friends with burlesque star and producer Calamity Chang through freelance work that I came up with the idea for Beylesque, a Beyoncé burlesque show to take place on or around the pop diva's 33rd birthday. "It could be huge!" I said. "It's underground meets mainstream pop. You could serve birthday cupcakes and have a dance-off/twerkout during intermission."

See, I'm great at coming up with ideas that I absolutely, 100% guaranteed will never follow through with — TV commercials, reality [...]

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The Breast of Times: Ten Years of Irrational Nipple Controversy

No body part inspires puritanical pearl-clutching in decent Americans quite as much as the humble nipple. Ten years ago, Janet Jackson slipped the nipple heard ‘round the world, prompting comic levels of outrage and morality policing. This summer, the MPAA banned Eva Green’s Sin City 2 poster for hinting at the possible existence of a nipple through her sheer robe. In between, there was a decade’s worth of similar incidents regarding this particular brand of anatomical exposure:

Janet Jackson at Super Bowl XXXVIII

The nipple-baring that started the national conversation about wardrobe malfunctions took place at the 2004 Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show. When Justin Timberlake dance-ripped Jackson’s top, viewers [...]

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The Cost of Climbing

I have been known to joke (repeatedly, like a dad who’s come across his favorite pun) that when you cross the border into California you are issued your choice of the following: hiking boots, a surfboard, or climbing shoes. When I moved to California two years ago I picked the third option and never looked back. It's gotten expensive.

This is what rock climbing has given me: a place to direct my over-analytic, grad-school-fried brain instead of ripping my own hair out and/or developing a drinking problem; mad shoulder and back muscles that look pretty great underneath my back tattoo; the ability to open any jar, no matter how stubborn. [...]

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How I Became an Adult Backstreet Boys Fan

"Sorry, we went with another candidate."

I briefly considered putting this on my tombstone, but then I realized the better idea would be to get cremated and have a trusted friend blow my ashes into the eyes of job fair recruiters. If I were to die this instant, that is. You don't want to hire me? Too late, I fired myself from being alive.

"You'll get something,” my mom assures me. "How is your writing going?"

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I spend all my extra money on a video player for the TV. It's small and compact enough that I could probably lose it if it didn't have wires attached. I [...]

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The Service Was Terrible and I Won't Be Coming Again: A Yelper Reviews Some Dicks

Tim, 29, Los Angeles, CA (✮✮✮☆☆): This dick used to be great, like, three years ago. But it’s really taken a turn for the worse over the past year—now the lines are huge, it takes forever to be served, and when you finally get your dick, it’s usually cold and too salty, but they won’t take it back and get you a new one because they’re “too busy.” I blame the neighborhood influx of hipsters—ugh, go back to Ohio, you guys! Anyway, I’m giving it three stars for all my memories of how good this dick used to be, but I guess it’s time for me to find a new [...]

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37 Is Objectively the Funniest Number

In his classic book A Theory of Justice, philosopher John Rawls argues for liberalism as a political ideology with a thought experiment. The subject is in the “original position” where “…no one knows his place in society, his class position or social status; nor does he know his fortune in the distribution of natural assets and abilities, his intelligence and strength, and the like.” In other words, you could be anyone in this hypothetical society. Now: what political ideology would be the best?

I would argue that when using this “veil of ignorance” to render obsolete all particulars about the joke or certain context—for example, sometimes it’s funnier to use [...]

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Apologia

Have you seen that Pantene commercial that’s been making the social media rounds? The one that asks why women are always apologizing?

I’m the first half of that commercial. I am an apologizer. You know: one of those insecure, irritating, thoroughly un-empowered women who can’t stop saying “I’m sorry” even when they haven’t done anything wrong. “I’m sorry, can I get past you?” “I’m sorry, I ordered this with no mayo.” “I’m sorry to bother you, but our meeting was supposed to start half an hour ago.”

It’s the worst type of un-feminist stereotype: the woman who feels ashamed of existing, ashamed of taking up space, ashamed of asking [...]

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A Room in an Elderly Stranger's House, and Other Places I've Lived

August 2010-December 2010, May 2011-December 2011 Orren Street NW, Washington, D.C., $700-$735/mo.

Besides me, David Sedaris is the only American I know of who spent a big part of his early 20s rooming with an elderly stranger. He describes this time, during which he took up residence in a Chapel Hill boarding house out of some vague, misplaced nostalgia for an erstwhile age, in his 2007 essay "This Old House." But the four months I spent with C.C. were a little different. This was no humble matriarch whose living quarters provided a rustic escape from modern-day campus life. No, C.C. was instead a 60-something globetrotter in the international medical [...]

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