Why Is That Funny?

Disclaimer: This post is undoubtedly condescending. I apologize for that.

I continue to find myself completely out of touch with pop culture.  It’s not something I really feel bad about, but in my own judgmental way, I wonder what is wrong with people.  Nowhere does this happen more than with movies.

I recently went to see The Hangover, and while I expected not to love it, I thought it would be good for a couple laughs.  After all, the populace in general seems to love it, and it was done by the same director who did Old School, which I found to be quite funny (well, the first and last acts, at least. The second act drags).  More importantly, though, is that the critics tended to like it, as it scores a 73 on metacritic.com.

However, watching this movie baffled me.  I wasn’t exactly baffled that people found it funny, what I found baffling is why people found it funny.  The movie was made up of old jokes from a bunch of other movies of the same genre.  If you’ve seen the joke before, especially if you’ve seen it hundreds of times before, how is it still funny?  But there are other things that I just don’t understand why people think is funny:

  • A man wears a jock strap instead of underwear.  Why is that funny?
  • A wedding band sings inappropriate things, a joke done in a bunch of other films, but also in Old School!  Why is that funny?
  • An old man gets a check up.  We see his ass.  Why is that funny?
  • People get hit, kicked, slapped, punched, and tasered over and over again.  Nothing more to the “joke” than that.  Why is that funny?
  • While transporting a drugged tiger, the tiger wakes up behind them and destroys classic car.  In Tommy Boy, same thing except it was a supposedly dead dear.  It wakes up and destroys a classic car.  So they repeated the same joke.  Why is that funny?
  • Mike Tyson shows up to recover his tiger, and… and… well, there wasn’t any joke there other than Mike Tyson showed up.  Why is that funny?

Of course, to some extent, I do understand why people find some of these things funny.  Male nudity is apparently this generation’s man-in-a-dress.  So whatever the context, people will for whatever reason find it funny.  But why?  That’s where they lose me.

People also like to watch things that they’re familiar with.  So watching a joke play out that they’ve seen before makes it fairly easy for people to comprehend and find amusing.  After all, there was an audience for Wild Hogs.

And always, from well before vaudeville, people find it amusing when characters are physically hurt.

Put all these together and you have the explanation for why people find these things funny, and why people love The Hangover.  The unfortunate problem is that every one of these explanations begs the question.  Why are these things funny?

Cheers,
Charlie

The Quest for “Our Place” – Part 6: Groveland Tap

I never intended the Comrus blog to be primarily about restaurant reviews.  Back in the Xanga days, it mostly contained humorous essays on random things about life.  But since I now have a job, and especially now that I’ve been working overtime for a few months, the desire to sit down and blog has been at a minimum.  The only thing that has interested me enough to finally sit down and write has been my interest in laid-back restaurants, under the heading of “Quest for Our Place,” and even then not so much.  In fact, I haven’t had the motivation so much so that I still have not yet written about my favorite discovery, first visited many months ago.

And so, yet again, instead of a humorous essay, I find myself with another restaurant to talk about (quite briefly, too be honest).  And also yet again, it’s not about the aforementioned favorite discovery.

So, first up in the lineup of places that are far better than The Nook (and believe me, that’s a really long list), the Groveland Tap, 1834 St. Clair Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55105.  Also in Highland Park, the Groveland Tap features wooden booths, a non-dive dive type atmosphere, and a very large beer selection.

As previously described, the purpose of our search is to find a laid back place, with good food, preferably with great hamburgers, where you can also enjoy sitting back and having a few beers.  The Nook failed on most of these counts, and the Groveland Tap quite succeeds.

The burger itself is nicely juicy, with fixings that have flavor but don’t overwhelm.  It does have a nice griddle/grease flavor, but could use a bit more bite and spice.  But otherwise, it’s everything I’m looking for.  It’s anything but dry, and the cheese is nicely melted.  The accompanying fries were nice and fresh.  They weren’t fabulous, but were good, salty, and satisfying.

And yes, for those Juicy Lucy nuttos, the Groveland Tap has those as well.

Perhaps the thing that stood out to me most, though, was the Groveland Tap’s large draught beer selection, including many various pale ales, amber ales, lagers, etc.  Better yet, seven days a week, from 11:00 AM to 5:30 PM, they have Summit pints for $2.25.  That’s the best Summit deal I’ve ever seen in the Twin Cities.

As such, I can certainly see myself grabbing a few pints on their front patio this summer.

One of the main failings of The Nook, not counting the mediocre burgers, is that it’s constantly jammed with people, so getting a table is a process.  We’ve only been to the Groveland Tap once, and it was quite empty when we went, but it was on a Sunday afternoon. Almost undoubtedly, the place gets very busy in the evenings, especially with their beer selection.  But because of the food and the atmosphere, I’d be far more willing to wait for a table there.

Overall, the Groveland Tap is very comfortable, with friendly wait-staff, and very good bar food.

Cheers,
Charlie

The Quest for “Our Place” – Part 5: The Nook

And finally, we get to The Nook.  I’ve been avoiding doing this for a long time, since it’s a big favorite here in St. Paul.  The Nook is perennially on “Best Burger” lists, and has periodically won awards for the best Juicy Lucy’s.  Located at a small site in Highland Park in St. Paul (492 Hamline Ave. South), The Nook is almost always spilling over with patrons.

There’s little about The Nook that I shouldn’t like.  It’s a nice smallish dive-y bar, with a focus on burgers.  In all honesty, the “dive” feel is more of a slightly yuppie idea of a dive, but since it’s not overly yuppie, unlike the St. Clair Broiler, it still can be a fun place to eat.  Unfortunately, though, because it’s always super busy I’ve never felt comfortable just sitting back and enjoying a few beers.  This place is definitely more for meals, so it fails on that note to be the “our place” for our quest.

The main menu items are burgers, of course.  This place has plenty of burger options, but the most popular is probably their version of the Juicy Lucy, The Juicy Nookie.  To be honest, I’ve learned that I really don’t enjoy Juicy Lucy’s anywhere.  They are way too over-rated.  Yes, gooey cheese inside a grilled burger sounds brilliant, but what you end up with is an over-cooked dry burger with cheese in the middle.  If you want gooey cheese, get the cheese on top, so that the burger can be cooked appropriately.

As such, I cannot fault The Nook for having an incredibly dry, tasteless Juicy Lucy.  I can fault them, on the other hand, for vaunting this burger.  It’s a sign about Nook fans that this is one of their favorite burgers.  It’s all style and little substance.  People think it’s good because people say it’s good.  Give me a juicy, spiced burger with cheese on the outside any day over a Juicy Lucy.

Unfortunately for The Nook, the other burgers aren’t all that good either.  Each burger I’ve had has been fairly tasteless.  There’s no bite from the griddle, there’s no juiciness, there’s little flavor.  Worse yet, every time I got cheddar on my burger, the cheddar was only slightly melted, so that it was a burger with a hunk of cheddar on top.  Maybe you do need to get a Juicy Lucy after all.

I’ve given The Nook a lot of chances and every time I’ve been disappointed.  The closest they came to being good was on my last trip when I ordered The Lodge Burger.  This burger is a “spiced” burger (chosen because it was specifically listed as “spiced”) with bacon, cheddar, tomato, and chipotle mayo.  I admit that it was decent, and even had a bit more flavor, but was still dry with an unmelted hunk of cheddar on top.

Luckily for that trip, we did take out.  If I can avoid going to actually eat at The Nook, I do.  I normally don’t like to complain about the service at restaurants, and once seated, the service at The Nook isn’t all that bad.  However, since it’s nearly impossible to get a table, getting the attention of the staff at the crowded bar in order to get put on a waiting list can be immensely irritating.  Every time I try it seems like the bartenders and waitresses have been trained to look away from anyone attempting to get their attention.

It’s a good thing the The Nook has a separate, larger location nearby with the same menu: Shamrock’s, at 995 7th St W.  Shamrock’s has a generic sports bar interior, but it at least allows for far more seating.  It’s a tad unfortunate that it is exactly the same menu, though, since the burgers aren’t good, and they have little else to offer.

And so, with that I wrap up my terribly written pan of a revered St. Paul landmark.  Overrated is an understatement for this place, but I’m certainly not going to be able change anyone’s mind on this (c’mon people, just try to defend the unmelted hunk of cheddar. I dare you).  But seriously, if you’re looking for good burgers in the Twin Cities, there are plenty of better options (e.g. The Convention Grill).

Cheers,
Charlie

The Quest for “Our Place” – Part 5 (or maybe not): The Nook

Wait, maybe I shouldn’t do this.  Everyone seems to love The Nook, even though their burgers extremely mediocre at best.  I might be lynched.

Okay, okay.  I’ll give them one more shot, even though I’ve had them more than five times.  I’ve heard good things about the Alumni Burger.  That’ll be their final chance. 

Cheers,
Charlie

The Netflix Recommendation: Bill Cosby is a God

For a while there, I was thinking that I wouldn’t be able to continue this series as Netflix had apparently given up on me.  In fact, I can still say that, as Netflix only recommends to me around 30 titles (most of which I have no interest in), but that’s still better than when it was at about 6 titles a few months ago.  However, while I have more recommendations, they’ve veered-off from weird to the totally absurd.  And so, we have today’s recommendation.

The Recommendation: Jesus of Nazareth

Because I enjoyed: Bill Cosby: Himself
 

netflix-jesus

See, simply recommending a documentary on Jesus to me is silly to begin with.  I’m a proud atheist-leaning agnostic, and am allergic to almost all things Jesus.  But what makes this recommendation legendary, is that it was recommended to me because I liked a film of Bill Cosby stand-up.  Did I miss something?  Did Cosby recently declare himself the new Messiah?  Does Netflix know something I don’t?  Should I be worshipping at the altar of Huxtable?

I guess it’s time to start a new religion.  I’ll have to quit my job and start writing the Gospel of Cosby.  I wonder if I can become one of Cosby’s apostle.  From now on, call me Theo.

Cheers,
Charlie

The Quest for “Our Place” – Part 4: St. Clair Broiler

It’s been a looooong time since I last seriously blogged.  I blame Twitter for the most part.  I mostly blogged as a way to get out opinions that demanded to be released on the general population (or, at least, to the couple people who stumbled upon my blog).  But Twitter has usurped that outlet, and as such it’s been months since I last seriously wrote anything, even if such opinions needed to be expressed in more than 140 characters.

However, I have been a bit remiss in not revisiting my “The Search for ‘Our Place'” series.  While my wife and I have not been out searching for very many new places of late, mostly due to economic reasons of course,  we have gone to a couple, and have probably come to the closest thing to what will be “Our Place” that is possible. 

Before I get to that (that’ll be in a later post), let me start with a place my wife and I visited today.  The criteria for what we’re looking for in “Our Place” has been laid out in previous posts within this category, so I won’t regurgitate them here, with the exception of saying that we’re looking for a laid-back hangout, probably a bar-like place, with something special, particularly in regards to the food.  Finding great hamburgers was a big element of what caused this search to begin with.

And so, with that in mind, we head off to the St. Clair Broiler, at the corner of Snelling and St. Clair in St. Paul.  Now, this place doesn’t fit our theme exactly, as my wife has been there many times before when she was in college.  In fact, on one of our early dates we had gone there.  My wife raved about their fried chicken drummies (she is a bit of a fried chicken nut, actually), so I had to check them out.  Back in the day (i.e. ~3-4 years ago), the place had a bit of a dive diner/malt-shop interior.  I don’t remember much about the food back then, but I remember thinking the drummies were decent, but were in serious need of spice, and the rest of the food was rather average.

Given that, it was surprising how interested I was in visiting the restaurant today.  I really shouldn’t have been.  See, if you’ve read the previous posts in this category, you’d pick up on the fact that I like dive-y places.  They’re generally more fun as they have more style than your average restaurant, especially your average cheaper restaurant.  And that’s the main thing the St. Clair Broiler has screwed up.  They recently renovated, and now offer a décor that can only be described as generic Highland Park yuppie “diner.”  Or, as my friend aptly described it, it’s no longer the St. Clair Broiler, but rather the St. Clair Bistro (that actually applies to the menu as well).  It is completely without any style at all.  It reminded me greatly of the damage that was done to the Shantytown Grill (about which a mini-rant can be found within this previous post).

But, of course, since this place was never going to be a hangout given its relative lack of drinks (it does have a beer and wine license, but it almost feels like ordering a beer at Perkins), the atmosphere isn’t the be all end all.  The food is what matters.

In addition to making the style of the restaurant very bland, the owners also neutered the menu.  It used to be a dive-like menu, with a few options for burgers, chicken, and sandwiches.  It’s now a menu the likes of which you’ll find absolutely anywhere.  Don’t get me wrong, the menu isn’t really anything to complain about, but they took away the style.  They also took away the drummies.  For shame.

But really, the place is about the burgers and malts anyway, so I ventured forth… and didn’t order a malt.  To be honest, I just wasn’t in the mood.  I had recently gotten a terrible, terrible DQ malt (I know, redundant) right before I got really sick, and I now have the connection of bad malts and nausea in my head.  Luckily, good malts are safe, but since I wasn’t thoroughly impressed with the Broiler last time, I didn’t want to risk it.

I did, however, have a burger.  It came with everything I generally desire with a burger: cooked onions (although I’m good with raw too), tomato, pickles, and mayo.  The burger itself looked nicely grilled, and I looked forward to biting into grilled-burger goodness.  And then I was disappointed.

The burger wasn’t bad.  Most importantly, the burger wasn’t tasteless.  It was, however, only a little distinguishable from your average Burger King burger.  Both are flame-broiled, and both are rather dry.  Worst yet, the burger was overly charred, so that I tasted little besides the charring.  And for a burger with that strong of a “flavor,” the onions need to be raw, not cooked.

I do have to repeat, the burger wasn’t that bad.  It was tasty enough, but there’s absolutely nothing about it that would make me choose it over almost any other burger place out there.  I had the burger with a side of kettle chips, which were also decent, but again nothing to write home about.

My wife had a grilled ham and cheese, and when she ordered it, she asked for sourdough instead of white bread.  On the menu, they have sandwiches listed as having sourdough, after all.  The waitress told her that while the menu does say that, they just actually use white bread in those sandwiches.

Yeah, that’s something you probably don’t want to admit.

Anyway, the St. Clair Broiler, used to be rather average food, but with decent style, now has very average food with no style at all.  For the love of Bob, my burger even came on a rectangle plate.  Yuppie-ville.

As for the place that will probably finally be “Our Place,” as mentioned, I’m just going to have to delay that until next time.  I have also just noticed that I have somehow not written about The Nook, besides a really quick blurb-slam.  We’ve since moved only a few blocks from The Nook, and I do have a different perspective than when I originally blurb-slammed it.  But let me tell you, it’s still not good (and there’s your blurb-slam #2).  Until then…

Cheers,
Charlie

Remember When I Used To Blog…

Remember when I used to blog?  That was awesome.

Cheers,
Charlie