Greetings again, one and all, and I apologize right off the bat if I’ve just put an Elvis Christmas carol into your heads.

This is our first new blog in over a month, and that’s not by accident or laziness or a lack of material — we decided to leave Bob’s last article up longer than usual in homage to Les.  Unfortunately, that also meant that our blog has been rather, well, melancholy; combine that with the fact that we’re now squarely into the holiday season, where the inevitable “holiday blues” tend to rear their ugly head, and it’s left us with a web site that’s kind of been a downer.

Well, fear not!  Despite our somber mood, the universe has stepped up recently and provided a number of unexpected laughs.  For anyone who’s going through the seasonal “blahs,” please check out the following sources of levity; I promise you’ll crack a smile despite the fact that it’s now dark by 4:30 in the afternoon …

•  I know this is a few weeks late, but I can’t write an article about funny stuff without mentioning Neil Gaiman’s pitch-perfect turn as himself, taking the young adult literature scene of Springfield by storm, on The Simpsons.  Neil now joins a very select list of Neconers who’ve played themselves on the seminal animated show (along with Stephen King and Stephen Hawkings).  What really made Neil’s appearance memorable, however, was his own incredible self-deprecating sense of humor.  For those who’ve never had the pleasure to meet Neil, he always, always wears a black leather jacket; therefore, I nearly fell off my couch laughing when Homer referred to him as “British Fonzie.”  Neil, once again, kudos and congratulations on an epic performance … especially impressive considering you “don’t even know how to read!”

Neil Gaiman (in all his animated glory)

•  The following topic is EXTREMELY “Not Safe For Work,” so I’m not going to post a link or give a full web address (you can easily Google it).  However, I’m utterly amazed at the phenomenon which is the “Texts From Bennett” web site.  For those who haven’t caught it, this site simply posts text messages the creator receives from his 17 year old wanna-be-rapper cousin.  They’re filthy and full of swears and misspellings, and they are so stunningly stupid that they are hilarious.

For the record, no matter how many times the creator claims, “This site is 100% real,” I don’t buy it; however, I also really don’t care.  Whomever is writing this material is a genius at writing stupid and making it funny, and trust me, that’s an art form in and of itself.  What leaves me scratching my head about “Texts From Bennett” is the entire process of an underground, viral internet sensation.  There are literally thousands, heck millions of people posting stuff on YouTube and Twitter, and a surprising number of them draw attention, but NOTHING like “Texts From Bennett” has received in such a short time span (I think the site has only been live for about a month).  As I told a buddy of mine, he and I could start a web site, make the site look more appealing, generate better copy, and we’d get two hits a day, one a piece from each of our moms.  “Texts From Bennett” has really caught lightning in a bottle, and to me watching the ride they’re on right now adds as much appeal to following the site as the absurd text messages (whether they’re real or not).

•  So how many people noticed the Necon E-Books reference in the holiday iPhone commercial?  Throughout the ad, Santa asks “Siri” for various information (weather reports, his appointments, etc.); however, the first thing he asks his new smart phone is for “directions to Charlie Grant’s house.”

Honestly, as much as I’d LOVE to believe that someone in the Apple Marketing Department is a fan of Charlie’s fiction, the fact of the matter is that “Charlie Grant” is a pretty non-descript name, so this was probably just an eerie coincidence.  But it did make me notice something — most of the biggest authors in horror have pretty bland, generic names (Stephen King, Anne Rice, Joe Hill, Charles Grant, etc.).  Therefore, in a blatant attempt to stand on the shoulders of giants, I’ve decided to adopt the most boring pen name I can come up with.  Unfortunately, I don’t look good enough in a pilgrim hat to pull of “John Smith,” no one would dare drink the free punch provided at a press event for “James Jones,” and “Bill Bo” makes me sound like a hobbit.  Anyone creative enough to come up with something that’s dull as mud with no baggage attached, please let me know.

•  Finally, staying on a similar topic, who here has caught the latest Cialis commercial?  Anyone who has is probably laughing already; anyone who hasn’t, keep your eyes peeled for it, ‘cuz it’s the funniest ad to hit television since the original Shake-Weight spot.

I’m assuming everyone knows the basic formula for a Cialis commercial — middle aged couple doing everyday stuff, they exchange a look, the narrator explains, “When the mood is right …”, and suddenly they’re soaking in side-by-side bathtubs overlooking a cliff.  Pretty ridiculous in and of itself, but that’s the typical pattern.  What makes the latest one so special is what happens when that right mood strikes for the latest lucky couple.  They’re out doing yard work, she brushes some leaves out of his hair, they smile at each other … and suddenly they’re transported, and their backyard becomes a woodland scene.  It’s what comes next that’s so stunning, as the next shot of the commercial is of … (wait for it) … the couple, together, pitching a tent.

(I’m gonna give that a moment to sink in.)

I’m not just saying there’s a tent in the background as an obvious visual metaphor.  I’m talking  about the man and the woman, on their knees in the dirt, pulling ropes taut and hammering stakes into the ground.  The actual ACT of pitching a tent.  In a commercial for Erectile Dysfunction medication.

I tend to think of myself as a fairly funny guy, but there’s no way I could ever come up with a better punch line for this part of the article than that.  As such, I’m just gonna sign off now.  Happy Holidays in advance, and good luck with any last minute shopping (which, for some of us, means most all of it).

P.S. — I was just seeing how many of you were paying attention; Stephen Hawkings has never actually been to Necon … yet …


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