Negative Capability

Putting Out Fire with Gasoline

Negative Capability

Putting Out Fire with Gasoline


When I am dead and gone, I doubt that anyone outside my family will remember much about me, my life or my work. If I can make a lasting contribution to the culture, I would like to coin phrases that gain widespread usage and that people continue to use for years to come. Even if I didn’t invent the original phrase, I still want credit for taking it out of context, making it funny and popularizing it.

When I was kid, I remember that every now and again, a new word would come into popular usage as slang for “cool.” Some people chose rad or gnarly, some went for wicked and I decided to try saying turbo instead of cool. It was a dismal failure. When Swingers came out, everyone was suddenly “so money” and out of nowhere, a word we all knew was used in a new way. But like all fads, we always end up coming back to cool, even if it’s not so cool anymore. And that’s hot.

I am not really sure how to introduce this collection of words and phrases that I have repurposed in this way along with my explanation of the etymology. This piece was originally called “Explaining the Story of the Beginning of the Origin,” but I realized that this is a zine, not a Morrissey song. For most of its production, I assumed that whichever idea I liked best would end up being the title of the collection, which meant that it would be “Putting on a Tit Show.” As I was designing these very pages, I realized that all of the things that I am doing are variations on the “callback.” If I am going to use the term, the least I can do is cut and paste the Wikipedia entry on the word, “A callback, in terms of comedy, is a joke which refers to one previously told in the set. The second joke is often presented in a different context than the one which was used in the initial joke. Callbacks are usually used at or near the end of a set, as the aim is to create the biggest laugh at the end of a comic set. The main principle behind the callback is to make the audience feel a sense of familiarity with the subject matter, as well as with the comedian. It helps to create audience rapport. When the second joke is told, it induces a feeling similar to that of being told a personal or in-joke.”

I tend to regard the people who read this zine as old friends who sometimes like me and sometimes think I am an asshole. I want to reward people like that by making them laugh like crazy, feel smart when they get a reference and feel like they are on the inside of a group, laughing at our inside jokes. These are the jokes that I have been sharing with the people in my life for many years and I want to share them with you, so when I do the callback in a future issue, you’ll get it, get it? I will also include some related video clips in the web version of this story if you are interested in seeing the source for some of these hilarious phrases and expressions.
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The Raymond Segment

As far as I am concerned, every person’s funeral should end with a Raymond Segment because it’s a beautiful way to go. One of my favorite shows of all time for pure bizarre laughs is Space Ghost: Coast to Coast. It’s a crazy, disjointed talk show hosted by a cartoon superhero who doesn’t really care about his guests and regularly assaults his co-workers. On one especially memorable episode (“Hungry”), everyone was very hungry, so they ordered some pizzas. When Space Ghost turned to his bandleader, Zorak, he noticed that there was a little version of Zorak standing next to him. Space Ghost asks Zorak, “What’s with the action figure?” and Zorak says that it’s his nephew, Raymond. They place their order for pizzas and then continue with the rest of the show. Every time Space Ghost talks to Zorak, Raymond just says, “Hi,” or “Hello,” in an adorable child’s voice.

Towards the end of the show, as everyone is getting more hungry and impatient, Space Ghost starts to lose his mind, as always. He starts talking to Zorak and realizes that Raymond is gone. He says to Zorak, “Hey, what happened to Raymond?” and Zorak, without missing a beat says, “Oh, I devoured him.” Space Ghost looks horrified and says, “That’s barbaric!” and then pauses and asks, “Is there any left?” When Zorak says no, Space Ghost says very sadly, “I’m going to miss the little guy...” and then they cut to “The Raymond Segment.” They play sad music behind a lovely montage of all the great moments that Space Ghost, Zorak and Raymond had together: going to Mt. Rushmore, in the bathtub, flying a kite in front of a tornado, and then a beautiful fade out. It’s very sweet and touching to see Raymond’s whole life summed up in a slideshow to sad music and it’s so good that most reality shows now employ the Raymond Segment whenever someone gets kicked off.

The reason it works so well in Space Ghost is because it’s a total mockery of the phony sentimentality that you see on TV all the time. Space Ghost only met Raymond five minutes earlier, yet the instant tribute to the dead is so earnest and sincere that you actually feel sad for Raymond. Why should I care if someone gets kicked off the Biggest Loser? Well, if you play a slow, sad montage of black-and-white footage of the person having fun with a touching song about friendship and loss in the background, you’ll remind me why I cared about this loser in the first place.

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Putting on a Tit Show is more suited to a full view, as you might expect. Click here to view it.

Carpet Monkey

There was a famous study done to scientifically determine whether or not being loved helped in growth and development. Some scientists, who were insane, thought that the reason a baby monkey flourished was because it got to be near a warm, soft body, not because it was loved. So they did this experiment where some of the monkeys got to be with their mothers and a bunch of other monkeys were left alone in a cage with a monkey made out of carpet. It didn’t really even look like a monkey, but it was made of carpet and was meant to simulate the monkey’s existence if it had been with the mother. See, the only difference between hugging a carpet monkey and your biological mother is love. The results were that the carpet monkey babies weighed less, got sick more often and in some cases, they died. That’s pretty fucked up. I hope that the knowledge helps science somehow because I can’t imagine having my mom taken away and being thrown in a cage with a carpet monkey. I don’t know why this particular expression has been so enduring in my life. Sometimes when you get mad at your folks, you wonder if it wouldn’t have been better to be raised by a carpet monkey.

It’s made from monkey come!

Any time my wife and I can’t identify the flavor of something, we say that it’s made from monkey come in a Slavik accent that sounds like Borat. The original speaker was either Bosnian or Serbian, but what’s the difference, really? It’s from the underrated Kids in the Hall movie Brain Candy. In the movie, scientists come up with a drug that makes everyone happy. Mark McKinney plays a surly cabbie (quoted at the foot of this page, talking about his mother) who is driving some kids around when they start talking about the drug. He turns to them with sneering contempt and says, “It’s made from monkey come,” and then explains how they get the monkeys to come so they can harvest it.

Some kind soul posted the clip to YouTube so you can view it below until it gets taken out. They have also posted the entire movie on YouTube but I know if I link to it, they'll take it down. I remember seeing Django Unchained for free on YouTube (I own it, so I was not stealing) and most of the comments were saying things like, "Don't report this!!"

Good from afar, but far from good

My wife’s friend Nathan is the guy responsible for introducing me to this little gem and they both use it so often I had to include it. It’s a roundabout way of saying that someone is not totally repulsive, but not that attractive either and I am sure you can think of at least one person who looks better the farther away you are.

Wash Your Pussy!

This expression may be older than dirt, but I first heard it from Artie Lange on Howard Stern’s show on Sirius. Whenever a guy who you expect to be somewhat manly does something effeminate, like crying at a press conference about retiring from football, the only response to that is, “Take off your helmet and go wash your pussy.” For some reason, my wife thought this was a rude way of saying that someone’s vagina was dirty, but really, it’s a way to call a grown man a woman, because only a woman has a pussy to wash.

What I love in general about inventing catchphrases or jargon or nomenclature is that sometimes other people are forced to say the ludicrous words you've come up with. — Russell Brand

How about one of the best tit shows of all time? Sure, why not.

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