Welcome to the CJS Hot Seat. Since we went ahead and appropriated one old Sportscenter segment for our use, might as well borrow another one. Inside, Hart and Dagger have agreed to a Q&A session where nothing is out-of-bounds, you must answer the question in front of you, and questions will go on as long as they have to. It’s sort of like the early version of UFC, but between two candy asses, and if sparring sessions were conducted over miles of fiberoptic cables.
Here’s the format: One person asks a question, then they get to ask a question. Answers bounce back and forth. This edition will focus on two years of writing the Cru Jones Society. Let’s play the CJS Hot Seat!
First question goes to Mr. Dagger.
Q: Contrary to popular belief, you and I function more or less autonomously in writing CJS articles. This year we’ve taken to coming up with a theme for the week, sketching out general article outlines, and that’s it. But before, it was basically just a free-for-all. My question to you is, what was your favorite co-authored piece (or article series) we worked on together? And why?
Lee S. Hart: My first instinct is to say “The Kentucky Derby Awards,” mainly because that involved getting drunk and making jokes at the TV. It feels like old times and that’s great. It is also a very light hearted piece since we don’t especially care about horses in any aspect. But I think the answer is the “Punk Rawk Mix.” Writing about the music that is most important to us, as well as trying to decide the best songs to help people get interested in punk rock, it just felt good. From a writing aspect I was forced to write some bands I probably wouldn’t choose on my own like Silverstein and My Chemical Romance, not that I don’t like them, just not on the top of my list. It was a chance at something new. Also, Dagger and I spent time discussing the songs and the bands and it that too felt like old times as it was part of how we became friends; bonding over punk rock (and wrestling).
Q: What is one piece you were not particularly happy about but people really seemed to enjoy?
E Dagger: Good question. Even though Disqus wiped out a bunch of our old comments, I seem to remember getting good response to “5 Awesome Supporting Actors” even though I always felt like that article never turned out quite right. I was actively trying to cut down my word count at that point, so I gave everyone the short shrift. I never properly captured what I loved about each actor, and in retrospect, I should have written about J.K. Simmons and David Paymer instead of Joe Pantoliano and James Remar. I just re-read this article, and I’m annoyed by it all over again.
On a lighter note, “Got Papers?” was just some weird one-off piece I wrote probably to cover for Limon working weird hours, and it generated a ton of discussion. I wrote it mostly for fun, and just to work out the weirdness of a throwaway conversation I had with a bum on the way to work, but everyone responded. I was surprised as hell.
Q: I’ve generated several articles as a result of drunken text messages to myself. Give us an example (or examples) of an article that’s arisen from this practice for you.
Lee S. Hart: The main one that comes to mind for me is “Things We Hate #22: People Who Don’t Dress Nice for a Wedding.” As you might expect I was at a wedding, with a limited open bar, which meant double fisting for the first hour. And in turn that meant double drunk in the second hour. The people who were getting married were both raised in Bumfuck, CO so I should have guessed there would be people there in their best Wranglers and those stereotypical cowboy shirts. None the less I was still angry about seeing these people mixed in amongst those of us who own a suit. In my angered rage (as opposed to the non-anger rage I have?) I sent a sawed off message to myself about these jerks.
Then there is the one drunken text message I apparently sent to Dagger and Limon as well which kind of helped spearhead the website idea. It consisted on two words and has brought thousands of laughs and possibilities to us. Those two words: Zombie JFK, wait, is JFK considered one word?
Q: I know you do this, so same question.
E Dagger: The biggest one was “10 Lousy Comedy Club Jerks” that I wrote after getting obliterated at Lady E’s company holiday party. They hired a comedian who told the funniest Grover Cleveland joke you’ve ever heard (I know, right?), and there was one chick in there who had an irritatingly unique laugh. I thought of everyone else that can annoy you while you get your laugh on, and a poorly spelled text message later, an article was born. I checked my phone recently, and I saw a post I had forgotten. I hoped to turn it into an article, but I don’t think there’s enough there. It reads: “Essure is a good thing because ‘despite having three kids, me and my old man are still riding the hobby horse and don’t want another bundle of snot and diapers. We still like the in and out, though.’ Reassurance for the future of marriage.” I think I wanted to talk about how having kids doesn’t necessarily have to end your sex life, but whatever humorous inspiration I once had is gone.
I straight up wrote the TWL: Gatorade post while completely blitzed. I reviewed it sober, but decided not to change much of it because I thought the drunkenness added color to the post. Good times!
Q: Like my “Sleeping Over With Friends” post, what was a post that was born out of panic because you didn’t have any idea what to write until late, late, late in the evening?
Lee S. Hart: “Four Underrated Muppets” was an 11th hour idea. I thought it was an article I wanted to do but I only had Cookie Monster’s Mom on the list. But after getting about three paragraphs into whatever lame ass idea I was working on, which was probably something like why I prefer triple A batteries to C Volts, I knew I needed something better and so I went where I knew, the Muppets. But the fact that it was a last minute change is why I went with only four Muppets. We all know I could talk about Muppets until the cows come home. That phrase is still relevant right?
Q: What is your writing process like, as far as do you put on some Enya and lock the wife out of the office so she doesn’t nag you about going to her sister’s or cleaning the gutters? My knowledge of married life is based on sitcoms, by the way.
E Dagger: Since the stupid real job doesn’t end until 6:00 at the earliest each night, I usually come home and eat dinner with the wife. We’ll watch a little television, enjoy our dinner, and then I retreat to the cave to craft the brilliance you read every other day. Most nights Lady E is either exercising her brain by reading more books in a month than I read in a year, or keeping up relationships better than I am. In other words, she leaves me alone, which both sucks for me personally and is great for the site. I try to finish up by 10:30 so I’m not wrecked the next day for work, and I hit the gym on my off nights and on the weekends. In grad school I almost always wrote between midnight and 6 am, but since I’m approaching 30 and have a real job and a life, I have to focus. Almost all writing occurs between 7:30 and 10:30, and I try to bang things out in under two hours (where I usually fail). I outline ideas during breaks at work, email them to myself, and try to have most of the leg work done before I craft the funny.
Q: Any aborted article ideas you can tell us about?
Lee S. Hart: Not really. When I abort an idea I usually tend to leave it lying there on the floor. I never think about coming back to it and eventually it leaves my mind all together and I can’t even remember any that I changed my mind on and kicked to the curb. I also feel it is kind of like deleted scenes on a DVD. You watch them and then you go oh, ok I see why the director deleted this. Wish I didn’t just watch that. I’m going to trust the director to know what not to put in his movie. So just know that the ideas I have rejected have been utter crap and you’re probably better off not knowing about them.
Q: What is your favorite part about doing this website?
E Dagger: Rather than going corny, I’ll go practical. Every day at work, with my wife, and in society in general I make references that no one understands. One time I was at Red Robin or Ruby Tuesday or one of those fucking places, and the waitress asked me, “Can I offer you one of our draft beers on our 2-for-1 All the Time Happy Hour Special?” So I responded, “If it’s an ‘All the Time Happy Hour Special,’ doesn’t it cease to be ‘special’ and just become the way?” Her brilliant retort was “Huh?” Now I have a place to drop obscure references, point out idiotic bullshit, and remark on the absurdity of our world that, thanks to the magic of the internet, chances are much greater that someone somewhere will get it. That’s my favorite part. That and the comments from the Regulars. You never know how someone will react to something you write, and you never stop getting surprised by the reactions. That shit’s exciting and addictive as hell.
Q: Same question:
Lee S. Hart: Along the same lines. I have a lot of time to myself but that doesn’t stop me from making jokes. This website gives me the opportunity to share such jokes, and I then I can feel like I am not the only one laughing at the things I am saying. Also, doing the Happy Friday posts help me keep up with current events, important current events, not like healthcare bills but like Bernie Madoff getting beat up in prison. If I wasn’t doing this website I would be spending way too much time playing Mario and not knowing what was going on in the world, the real world.
That’s all from this edition of the Hot Seat. Join us for the next one when we discuss the A-Team.
24 Mar 2010 CJS Staff