Ambitious Reading List: Born Standing Up By Steve Martin (2007)

As I’m nearing the end of this Ambitious Reading List, I find myself looking forward to the next one and have even started assembling that stack. The problem with that is that I want to burn through the four books I have left with a quickness. While I did return to Devil In The White City and am working my way through it, I started getting a little antsy and wanted some immediate gratification, so I grabbed Steve Martin’s 207 page Born Standing Up and read it in a few days. And you know what? I got exactly that.

The first time I read Crime and Punishment, I was in high school and someone in the class said they wanted to know what happened to Raskolnikov after he was SPOILER imprisoned and the teacher responded that the book would need a new title then. He went on to make the point that stories need to have a focus. Raskolnikov’s story could go on until he died, but Dostoevsky was telling the story of Crime and Punishment, not Crime and Punishment and Whatever Happens After That Until He Dies. Steve Martin took a very similar approach to Born Standing Up. This is not a complete history of the man from birth to the stage, through movies and on to his current turn as a concert banjo player, it’s just about his life and performing career up to the point when he left stand up in the late 70s/early 80s.

I appreciate that kind of focus and while I would definitely be interested in reading another biography about more of his film work and recent endeavors, this book does a great job of telling what feels like a complete tale with beginning, middle and end, something Martin says he liked to bring to every one of his performances. The only real problem I had with Laurie Lindeen’s Petal Pushers was that it didn’t feel like a complete story because she glossed over the break up of the band. I did not have similar problems with this book.

One problem I thought I would have is that I wasn’t sure how serious Martin would be. His comedy lies in the realm of the absurd, so I wasn’t quite sure. Many years ago I borrowed Leslie Nielson’s supposed autobiography The Naked Truth from the library in hopes of learning more about a comedy icon I held in great esteem only to discover a few pages in that it was all a joke, one that I wasn’t in on or expecting. Though I had heard good things about this book, I did have the nagging feeling it might not be as honest as I wanted it to be. Again, that wasn’t a problem.

Martin offers a poignant, honest, real memoir here that not only proves that anyone who works hard can have a chance at making it, but also presents show business in a very truthful light (it ain’t all great). It sounds cliche, but this book really does have it all, ti can make you laugh and cry and really think about life. It’s refreshing to see someone who achieved such huge success — at the time he was the most comedian of all time between ticket and album sales — look back on his life and give a balanced account of what he did and went through. If you’re a fan of Martin’s stand-up and films or the real life portrayal of the life of comedians expressed on Marc Maron’s WTF podcast, do yourself a favor and read this book.

With Born Standing Up out of the way that leave me to finish Devil In The White City and then read The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake and Please Kill Me which I plan on reading in that order. Devil is one of those weird books that I enjoy reading while I’m reading it, but once I put it down it’s almost like a mind wipe and I don’t want to jump right back in, a feeling that grows the longer between reading sessions. I’m dedicated to getting back into it the rest of this week and deciding once and for all if I’ll keep on with it.

Casting Internets

It’s been a while, so get ready for a tidal wave of links.

Hey look, some website called MMERadio thinks it’s okay to steal my shit WHOLESALE off of without linking back to where it came forms or paying me. Classy.

In more fun news, I had a wonderful time playing Famous Objects From Classic Movies–essentially movie-based hangman–until I hit this one and was completely confused. What does that image look like to you?

There’s a new Destructor story starting up today. And I mean fully new, not just new to the internet. Check it out.

Check this out, Tom Spurgeon’s interviewing folks over on, starting off with Matt Fraction.

$0.99 for a 100 word poem? Eh. Oh, it’s written by Neil Gaiman and drawn by Jim Lee? Color me curious. (via Vertigo)

Dig this Street Fighter-themed turn on Failbook. Funny stuff.

Instructables tells you how to make one of the few chocolate candies I love, Cadburry Creme Eggs.

I’m a big fan of Jason Horn’s Shelf Porn over on Robot 6. I’m jealous of his Super Power collection and the space he has to display them and his original He-Man toys!Dave Perillo tackled MASK and VENOM for a commission. Holy crap they look awesome. Click through to see the VENOM piece.

Chris Mautner’s Seth-based Comics College was pretty informative. This column is an excellent resource.

Have you guys been looking at Eli Kochalka’s Monster Attack as posted by his dad James on American Elf? What a rad thing for a dad to do for his kid.
There’s just too much cool Doctor Who art out there like RedBubble‘s T-shirt mashie of the band The Who and the Doctors. (via Shirtoid)

Tobe Hooper might be directing a haunted house movie called Djinn. I don’t know, you guys. Dude earned a career’s worth of good will after making one of the three greatest horror movies of all time, so I want this movie to be good. I just don’t know if it’s possible. (/Film)
Oh man, that Charlie Sheen is completely out of his mind. At least it’s lead to a funny Tumblr called Sheen Family Circus. (via Spurge)

You want to know when you’re screwed? “The ‘Kryptonian killing machine’ has come for Eradicator and only the Outsiders stand in his way.” It was nice knowing you, Outsiders. (The Source)

Finally, I agree, this is how Harry Potter should end. I actually had a lengthy conversation with my wife about this. She used a lot of magic excuses. (via IHC)

Jimmy Fallon & Ben Stiller Play Jerry Stiller & Anne Maera Play Charades

I caught Jimmy Fallon’s show last night and it was pretty great. Ben Stiller was the first guest and I just had a feeling that after talking about Little Fockers, his parents Jerry Stiller and Anne Maera showed up. And that they did! After the commercial break, they played Charades and the results were hilarious. Enjoy!

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Casting Internets

My buddy Heather sent me this link about the new Heinz ketchup dip and squeeze packet from a site called The Fire Wire. Apparently, it’s the first change to the ketchup packet design in 42 years. I like the design, it makes sense for dipping and squeezing. Hit the link for more pictures and a video in case you can’t quite grasp the concept from the pics.

Meanwhile, over on CBR, my buddy Kiel reports on a rumor floating around that Christopher Nolan, the brains behind the latest and greatest Batman flicks has been put in charge of the next Superman movie. I’m hoping this is a case where they expect him to go “dark and gritty” on Superman, but what he’ll really do is expertly get to the heart of the character and what makes him tick like he did on Batman. Do we really need a repeat of the late 80s/early 90s grim and gritty comics market on the big screen?

Speaking of CBR, the Robot 6 boys posted this movie of the 3 foot tall wooden R. Crumb figure that’s been making his way around the internet. It’s a mini stop motion type thing that’s really entertaining if you’ve ever read or seen anything about Crumb.

While waiting for tonight’s episode of Lost and kicking around the internet today, I realized I didn’t link to Sean’s thoughts about the season premiere.

Finally, I spotted this panel from the recent Black Widow #3 which made me laugh, so I had to scan it and post it. Watch it with those hands, girl!

Confessions Of A Danger-ish Mind: I Watch Ray J

Yeah, that’s right. It’s true and I’m not proud of it. I blame a lack of good daytime programming and VH1’s unusual decision to play episodes that will be premiering later that night during the day. Oh, plus the show is completely ridiculous in a way very similar to their other dating shows I watch from time to time. Normally, I wouldn’t subject myself from the embarrassment of admitting this in such a public forum, but the episode that will be on tonight was just too funny not to tell people about. I came in with a half hour left, so I don’t know what happened in the beginning, but the part I saw started with Ray talking to Snoop Dogg about the girls! Who doesn’t love Snoop? Soon after that, he went out to the pool area where all his buddies were hanging out with the girls (there are three left at the beginning of the episode) and asks them to come in and talk to him about which one they think he should choose. Instead of actually helping their friend out, the dudes start talking about and then singing a song about one of the girls smashing the homey. For those of you who might not know, that means one of the girls slept with one of Ray’s friends. They’re singing so loudly that the girl in question actually comes into the room and yells at them.

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But that’s not the best part, though I love an impromptu song as much as the next guy. The best part was, while going around the room asking about the girls, Ray all of a sudden says “What do you think Tom Green?” The camera pans up and there the man stands in all his pasty, bearded glory. I’m sure he appeared earlier in the episode, but the way I watched the episode it came as quite an unexpected and hilarious shock. Tom even joined in on the smash the homey song, even though he wanted that particular girl to win. Awesome.

Michael Cera Chills With The Jersey Shore Gang

I’d be remiss, after posting the video of Michael Cera battling with Conan O’Brien on The Tonight Show, if I didn’t hunt down the videos of Cera actually hanging out with the Jersey Shore gang. The first video is much longer and has more material, but there are also several mini trailers for Youth In Revolt that get a little annoying. Even with all those, I like it because it has him trying on Ed Hardy shirts and explaining why he’s hanging out with the cast.

This one’s shorter, but doesn’t have the trailers.