Things I Wish I’d Written #5: The Onion’s 9/11 Coverage

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Apr 042012

The Onion's 9/11 Coverage

I never, ever thought I would be able to laugh about 9/11. The Onion is the only thing that has ever made me laugh about it, and it’s probably the only thing that ever will. I still can’t believe they pulled it off. The front page is to the left, and you can see it larger here. Yahoo did a retrospective of it on the ten year anniversary of 9/11, and it reminded me of how funny it was.  They provided links to the stories, and they are posted below. They really are funny, and best of all they do so while remaining true to the way we all felt. That’s some exceptional writing, and that’s why I wish I’d written it. Here are the stories:

American Life Turns Into Bad Jerry Bruckheimer Movie

Not Knowing What Else To Do, Woman Bakes American-Flag Cake

U.S. Vows to Defeat Whoever It Is We’re At War With

Hijackers Surprised To Find Selves in Hell: ‘We Expected Eternal Paradise for This,’ Say Suicide Bombers

God Angrily Clarifies ‘Don’t Kill’ Rule

Things I Wish I’d Written #6: The Princess Bride

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Apr 032012

This is true love. Do you think this happens every day?

There are a gazillion reasons to love The Princess Bride. It’s just all magic: Westley and Buttercup’s romance, Inigo’s quest for revenge, Fezzik, Vizzini, Prince Humperdink, I could go on and on.

But none of that is what puts this movie so high on my list.

The reason it is #6 on my list is the boy and his grandfather. Without them, it would just be a great story. But as Peter Falk reads it, and his grandson protests, it became more than just a story. It became our bedtime fable. We became Fred Savage, a sick, bedridden child sitting in bed, hoping for better days. Peter Falk was reading it to all of us. It’s our fairytale.

William Goldman wrote both the book and the movie, and it was his stroke of genuis to include the grandfather and grandson in the film. The dude understood that what he had written was a fairytale, and that what fairytales do is give us hope of better days. This movie did that, making us laugh and cry and rejoice with some of the most memorable quotes ever. Put it all together, and that’s why I had written this movie.

Things I Wish I’d Written #7: Seinfeld “The Contest”

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Apr 022012

The contest begins!

The Seinfeld episode The Contest is the single funniest episode of television ever. You can argue with me about that, but you would be wrong. And it is comedy writing at it’s absolute finest.

I’m sure you remember this episode, it’s the one where George’s mother “caught him…he was alone.”  I’m not going to say anything more because part of the brilliance of this episode is that they didn’t need to say anything more, but we all know what they meant. It was so simple, yet so effective, but there was also more. Every single line of this episode was perfect. The economy of words was amazing; there was not an extra word spoken, and yet it was all hysterically funny. Each and every line was hilarious. I have no idea how they managed to do it. If you to see a short video on the creation and production of this episode, check this out, but it won’t give away the secred to their genius because there isn’t any. It was just genius, plain and simple, and you can’t recreate genius. You can only enjoy it and celebrate it.

I have never laughed so hard at an episode of a TV show in my life, and I probably never will again. It is a painfully uncomfortable topic handled in a painfully funny way, and is the best comedy writing I’ve ever seen. That’s why I wish I’d written this episode.

Palm Sunday Sermon Podcast: An Even Keel

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Apr 012012

As we celebrate Palm Sunday, we look at how Jesus made his entry into Jerusalem on that day. With full knowledge of a great trial ahead, how did Jesus respond, and how can we do the same? That is our topic this Sunday.

Things I Wish I’d Written #8: Cars

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Apr 012012

Lightning McQueen had to get lost to find himself.

It is very hard to write a story without a bad guy. We managed to pull it off in Get Low, but there were massive headaches. For a long time we thought we needed a bad guy, because there have been few films that succesfully pulled off not having one. Of the films that did it, my favorite (other than “Get Low”is Cars, which is part of a long line of great Pixar films. “Cars” has no bad guy, and that’s hard to do. It’s much easier to create a protagonist and an antagonist, and then just let their inevitable conflict be the engine that drives the movie. “Cars,” though, wasn’t about a conflict between a good guy and a bad guy. It was about a bad guy learning to be good. Ok, so Lightning McQueen wasn’t really a bad guy, but that’s what makes it all work. He’s just lost his way. How does he find his way again? By getting lost, of course! His journey of self discovery is what makes “Cars” an absolute gem of a movie.

It’s very hard to not have a story with no bad guy. Pixar couldn’t manage to do it again, and they created a bad guy in Cars 2. That’s why it wasn’t as good, and why it could never have been as good. The magic of “Cars” is that it’s a journey of self discovery without a bad guy. I love that, I love “Cars,” and that’s why I wish I’d written it.