October 2004 Archives

Read Part One

Zembla is proud to present the highlights of Sean Keane's performance in "HOU Explorer", an educational CD-ROM produced by the Lawrence Hall of Science. The game takes you inside a virtual observatory where you can learn about stars, supernovas, and just how mind-numbingly boring astronomy can be. Your tour is led by an animated dog/punsmith. At one stage of the game, the dog references "arfstronomy".

I play Alan, a tenth-grader with a burning love of astronomy and a smoldering lust for my classmate, Jen (played by Store Girl). Though I was nineteen years old at the time of filming, I feel I was able to really get inside the character of Alan. I took inspiration from the great fake-teenager actors of my youth. Ziering. Macchio. Carteris. Zabka. The performance speaks for itself, but I have provided captions to help readers understand Alan's hopes, Alan's dreams, and just what the hell is happening with the supernovas.


Scene 1:
Establishing the Character

"I'm Adam, and this is Jen. We're students in Mr. Townsend's tenth-grade science class. We've been looking at some galaxy images, and we think we found a supernova . . . Yeah, 'cause that means we did find a supernova!" Note the coordination on the high-five.

Scene 2:
It's a Fucking Supernova!

This scene occurs after a positive initial supernova identification. "This is so exciting!" A veritable train wreck of exposition and instruction concludes with an extremely flattering freeze-frame. And, remember, when tenth-graders discover a supernova, it goes in all the papers.

Scene 3:
Supernova Match - See You Later

A second successful match confirms the image's supernovaness. Alan is nothing if not psyched during this entire sequence. Eyebrow Acting abounds.

Scene 4:
Older and Wiser

Jen's flirtatious new position and come-hither glance show that time has passed since the early, innocent supernova-identifying days. It's only coincidence that they're wearing the same clothes as before. The trappings of fame and extra computer time have changed Alan and Jen, but they remain humble enough to ask for help with the supernova team. Also, Jen and Alan are totally doing it.

Scene 5:
Lightning Strikes The Same Place Twice

That's right. It's another fucking supernova! What are the goddamn odds? Alan would probably know, that smug bastard. Listen to the disdain as he asks, no, demands to know the type of supernova. Focus on "Thanks".

Scene 6:
Success Upon Success

The supernova love fest continues. Alan thinks the new supernova will increase the chances of publication. But haven't they already been in all the papers? This is the ending you get if you successfully complete all of the supernova stages, the "Thank You, Mario" as it were. There is no animated victory sequence, no scrolling list of programmer names. Instead, more Alan-Jen sexual tension and a threat to come out of the CD-ROM and visit your school. Chilling.

Scene 7:
Check That Shit Again

Jen was sure we'd found a supernova. Wordlessly, Alan concurs. Check that shit again, dumbass.

Scene 8:
Wrong Again, Copernicus

This wasn't exactly what Jen was expecting. Alan is too disappointed to move. After all this rewatching, I feel like I should look Store Girl up, see if she's got some free time, if she still wears the brown sweater.

Scene 9:
Try Looking At The Graph Again

Maybe you missed something. Like a SUPERNOVA. Does Alan have to spoon feed this crap to you? Do you even know what a graph is? Jen's pouty lips concur. Seriously, check it again.

Scene 10:

"We're a little confused by some of your data." 'Nuff said.

This concludes the highlights from HOU Exlorer. Eventually, stills from this landmark CD-ROM will appear alongside a cybernetic James Lipton on my edition of "Inside the Actors Studio".

LIPTON: Your first musical appearance, you played - ?

KEANE: A chorus member.

LIPTON: And your specialty was?

KEANE: I would be paired with the tallest girl in the cast, and when all of the girls fell into their guys' arms at the end of a number, I would fall into the tall girl's arms.

LIPTON: Now, the CD-ROM. HOU Explorer. (Audience gives standing ovation) You played?

KEANE: Alan.

LIPTON: Co-starring with?

KEANE: Um, a girl who worked in the gift store.

LIPTON: The initial discovery of the supernova? One word. Transcendent. (Audience gives additional standing ovation. Cybernetic Lipton kills cue card guy with robotic laser eye beams.)

For the record, my favorite dirty word is "motherfucker".

(Post removed for publication elsewhere - internet famousness will be updated as famousness grows)

The elsewhere it's published

new squelch with new keane content

Volume 14, Issue 2 of The Heuristic Squelch is out now, with some brand-new Keane Komedic Kontent™. Enjoy!

The Continuing Adventures of Bi-Curious Frankenstein

Hipsters Rally Around Bush

Issues are available on Sproul Plaza on the UC Berkeley campus, but you can get a .pdf file of the issue here. Pages 10 and 11 feature a Keane Kreative Koncept™ about Spider-Man and his Emotional Spider-Sense, brought masterfully to life by criminally-uncredited writer Aaron Brownstein and artist Anthony Wu. It's a Kickass Keane-Inspired Kollaboration™, and your life will be better for having perused it. Enjoy it with some Adobe Acrobat Reader you love.

Your Guide To Avoiding Drugstore Embarrassment

All of us must make the occasional drugstore purchase of an embarrassing item. To avoid this, maintain your confidence in the face of derision, always have a snappy retort ready, and steer clear of any product that has the word "anus" as part of its name. Don't let those Walgreen's employees rattle you. You're better than them, unless you work at Rite-Aid. Here are some example situations, to give you a feel for the right attitude to maintain.

* * *

CLERK: That's a big tube of anti-fungal cream you've got there. Bad case of athlete's foot?

ME: I'll have you know, this stuff also works on jock itch and ringworm, jackass.

* * *

CLERK: Can we get a price check on these Joe Lube camouflage condoms?

MY GRANDMOTHER: Sean, what are you buying?

ME: Just supporting the troops, Grandma.

MY GRANDMOTHER: Oh, alright.

CLERK: I think this eight-ounce bottle of Astroglide is also on sale.


ME: The lube is made by Iraqi orphans, Grandma.

* * *

MANAGER: We ask that customers not sample our items in the store.

ME: Don't worry, I'm totally gonna buy this deodorant.

MANAGER: (Pause) Why aren't you wearing pants?

ME: Your sign only mentions a shirt and shoes.

* * *

MY SEEMINGLY PLATONIC FEMALE FRIEND: I'm glad this drugstore is still open. Do you think they have Ben and Jerry's?

ME: I'm sure they do.

MY SEEMINGLY PLATONIC FEMALE FRIEND: Great. Some Cherry Garcia will be perfect for when we're watching "When Harry Met Sally".

CLERK: That'll be $9.68. Also, Sean has a big crush on you.

ME: As a friend! I hate this store!

disturbing trends in the triangle

I'm a little distressed by recent outdoor advertising trends in my neighborhood. Since I moved in a year ago, The Triangle has consistently featured many garish billboards for chat lines and internet personals. Sure, every few weeks Manhunt.net would take the place of Gay.com, but nearly all the ads have celebrated beauty and the joy of life. It's comforting.

There was a time when one could navigate to our apartment simply by using fifteen-foot high half-dressed male models as landmarks. "Go past the two guys in leather chaps, and turn right at the shirtless black guy coming out of the pool in a cowboy hat. If you reach the hugging leather boys, you've gone too far." But no longer. The Triangle's billboards are becoming a downer.

Last month, a new one popped up at the end of our street that was hyping the Neptune Society. I've been conditioned to expect that such an ad would likely feature some Prince Namor lookalike, possibly displaying a trident and/or a come-hither glance. Instead, I realized that the ad was actually promoting columbariums; that is, large vaults used to store the ashes of the dead.

Is something terrible happening to our neighborhood? Is everyone giving up on finding love and moving on to estate planning and living wills? Does Clear Channel know something I don't?

I thought the new billboard cycle might bring us back to our usual carefree ways, but no such luck. The replacement billboard announces a service that reports positive STD tests anonymously, via e-mail. I guess it's reassuring that we're back to sex, and not death, looming above us. Still, don't give up on your carefree ways, Triangle advertisers. Leather Pride was only two weeks ago! Cowboys, not crypts! USA! USA!


I have a piece up on the main page of McSweeney's Internet Tendency today. The permanent link for the piece, entitled, "Scenes From A Blockbuster Action Movie Featuring A Technology Expert With Approximately My Own Real-Life Skill Level", can be found here.

Enjoy. Tell your friends, relatives, and high-profile Hollywood talent agent acquaintances. Zembla will eventually feature something besides self-promotion and semi-humorous, over-long pieces about baseball, but maybe not until after the League Championship Series.

(After their poor performances this season down the stretch, San Francisco Giants closers Matt Herges and Dustin Hermanson will surely be seeking other employment. Where, you might ask? Read on, friends.)

Adult Movies

HERGES: So you spread your fingers like this, Destiny, and put pressure on the ball with your fingertips.

DESTINY: Don't you mean "balls"?

HERGES: Excuse me?

DESTINY: Anyway, thanks for the tip, Matt. I still think the knuckle curve sounds like it would be painful.

HERGES: Maybe a little bit, but in my experience, it's important to change speeds. Say, did you see where my friend Dustin Hermanson went?

DESTINY: I think he's on set with our featured actor, fluffing.

HERGES: "Fluffing"? What's that?

DESTINY: It means he's blowing the lead.


FIRE CHIEF: Hermanson, get over here and grab this hose!

HERMANSON: Chief, I was thinking. Instead of spraying water directly at the blaze, why don't we aim about a foot to the right?

FIRE CHIEF: That's idiotic, Hermanson.

HERMANSON: Over and over again, spray after spray, just outside of where the water needs to go. That's a good strategy, isn't it?

FIRE CHIEF: Just grab the goddamn hose, Hermanson! And where the hell is Herges?

HERMANSON: He's throwing buckets of gasoline into the burning building.


HERMANSON: Is that wrong?

Real Estate

RICHARD ROMA: Look, the statute says that you can change your mind three working days from the time the deal is closed. Which, wait a second, which is not until the check is cashed. Whats the earliest the check could have been cashed?

JAMES LINGK: Today, I guess.

ROMA: So, you have three business days to . . . (Office manager FELIPE ALOU approaches ROMA, waves right hand.) You're taking me out?

ALOU: Herges is going to close the deal. (ROMA hands ALOU his briefcase, walks out. MATT HERGES enters.)

HERGES: How's it going?


HERGES: (pause) You know we sold you some worthless Florida swampland, right?

LINGK: Wha- what did you say?

HERGES: Yep, worthless. Also, we already cashed your check, last night.

LINGK: I - I gotta go! (LINGK runs out)

ROMA: You stupid fucking asshole, Herges! You just cost me six thousand dollars and a Cadillac! You fucking child. I'm going to the restaurant! (ROMA exits)

HERGES: (to ALOU) Is this be a bad time to tell you that me and Hermanson robbed the office last night?

ALOU: You mean, you took the good leads? The Glengarry leads?

HERGES: That's right. All the leads are all gone, because of us.


PRESIDENT BUSH: What my opponent does not acknowledge is that my economic program has helped millions of wealth-, er, ordinary Americans. We must ensure that America remains prosperous, and the way to do so is through a bold and fair tax relief plan.

JIM LEHRER: Mr. Hermanson, you have 90 seconds for rebuttal.

(HERMANSON steps off podium. Paces around. Picks up rosin bag and drops it. Tugs cap. Returns to podium.)

HERMANSON: Could Jim Brower answer this one for me instead?

JIM LEHRER: I'm afraid not, Mr. Hermanson. You still have 75 seconds.

HERMANSON: Um . . . Tax . . . relief. Relieving . . . taxes. Relief. (Pause) Not my best area. OK. (Deep breath) The American people need to give the IRS a free pass, no, a series of free passes, to raise taxes as much as they want, until our economic recovery is irrevocably lost, and the hopes of America's fans are horribly, horribly dashed.

(CROWD boos)

HERMANSON: I'm sorry. Octavio Dotel prepped me for this debate. Just vote for Bush, I guess. I'm hitting the showers.


JUNIOR LIFEGUARD: Come quick, Mr. Herges! Dustin Hermanson can't breathe!

HERGES: What happened?

JUNIOR LIFEGUARD: I'm not sure. He was eating hamburgers with Lance Berkman, and all of the sudden, his face started turning blue, just like last month with Andruw Jones.

HERGES: You mean . . . ?

JUNIOR LIFEGUARD: Yes. Dustin Hermanson is choking. Again.

HERGES: Hang on, buddy! Here comes the ol' Heimlich maneuver. (HERGES wraps his hands around HERMANSON's throat and begins strangling him. HERMANSON struggles briefly, then collapses.) No! Why, God, why? (In frustration, HERGES throws his whistle through the air at 85 MPH, in a straight line.)


HERGES: I'm afraid not. Just like the woman last week who hit her head on the diving board and died, or the kid who drowned in the baby pool yesterday, or that game where I gave up two home runs in the ninth inning against the Rockies, this is another blown save for Matt Herges.

JUNIOR LIFEGUARD: Gosh, how do you still have a job?

HERGES: Peter Magowan is too cheap to hire a competent replacement.

Game 2: Texas Rangers at Oakland Athletics, September 15, 2004

If you're heckling relievers, take care
Duck your head if they reach for a chair
Even though Doug Brocail
Is as fat as a whale
It's A's pitching that'll make you despair

The Rangers and A's have only occasionally had a rivalry through the years. Mainly, that's because the Rangers have been terrible. They were a competitive team from 1996-99, and that's been about it for their 32 years in Texas. Since the Rangers' only decent stretch in their history (three division titles, one playoff win) coincided with a rebuilding phase for Oakland, there's been little actual competition between the two teams. Even though I have a passionate hatred for the Dallas Cowboys, and a knee-jerk dislike of all things Texan, I find it hard to work up much anger toward the Rangers.

Two nights before our Two Dollar Wednesday excursion, all of that changed. Just after the Rangers tied the game in the top of the ninth, a heckling exchange between the Rangers bullpen and some nearby fans turned violent. Players rushed the stands and reliever Frank Francisco hurled a metal chair into the stands, breaking a woman's nose. The game was delayed for twenty minutes or so, one of the Rangers had an asthma attack, and the A's eventually won the game in extra innings.

Public reaction was swift. After a verbal confrontation caused a gang of physically imposing millionaire athletes to attack paying customers with blunt objects, sportswriters all across the country rose as one to condemn . . . heckling. Oakland and its fans were condemned for drunkenness, for racism, and, bizarrely, for a lack of security, even though no fans left their seats and nothing save insults was tossed at the players. Security guards generally don't even face the field, which was where the violence was coming from.

Look, the Oakland Coliseum is basically a shithole. It's a converted football stadium. The old views of the Oakland hills are now blocked by massive slabs of concrete. The grass is poorly maintained on the rare occasions that it hasn't been torn up from football games. The A's don't hire much in the way of service personnel, they don't refill paper towel dispensers in the bathroom, it takes at least ten minutes just to get condiments, and the public address announcer often sounds clearly intoxicated. The team won't spend money on players and it won't spend money on the stadium, yet the fans that do show up are routinely demonized for their lack of support and behavior. Going to the Coliseum is punishment enough without having furniture hurled at you by obese relief pitchers.

Reports have it that the infuriating heckles involved:

a) pitcher Doug Brocail's weight, and
b) a fan's query, "Which of you guys is gonna blow it tonight?"

While not kind remarks, I must mention:

a) Doug Brocail is a mediocre pitcher who weighs at least 240 pounds
b) Reliever Francisco Cordero, a target of the heckles, did in fact give up two runs in the bottom of the tenth inning to blow the game

So the Rangers were close to the A's in the standings, and their players had attacked the Oakland fans. The stage was set for a blood feud on Wednesday night. There was extra security personnel all over the park, most bizarrely in our section, the third deck above the right field line. Theoretically, a fan with incredible aim could hit the Ranger bullpen from that distance, but if such a fan could, they'd probably be playing for the Rangers already. Nevertheless, our section was guarded for nine innings by two uniformed Oakland cops, both of whom spent most of their time drinking soda and eating free ballpark food.

Our party was excited for the game, but the A's didn't quite show the same kind of enthusiasm. After Ranger starter Ryan Drese walked the bases loaded in the bottom of the first, the A's failed to score. They took a 2-1 lead in the third, but then the Rangers began pounding the ball. Doubles, home runs, and line drive singles abounded. It was as if the baseballs themselves had been heckling the Rangers. Perhaps a chant of "hey batter batter saaa-wing batter!" had backfired horribly. Perhaps the ball had suggested that Ryan Drese was a belly-itcher, not a pitcher, and his teammates were defending his honor. As it turned out, the A's may have been better off if starter Mark Mulder had spent the evening belly-itching.

There's a certain detachment that sets in when you're sitting far from the playing field and the home team is getting pounded. Enormous home runs like the ones Mr. Mulder surrendered are quite impressive from such great heights, though the poets are wrong if they think his curveball looked perfect from far away. After a while, your attention starts to wander. You make bets on dot racing, on the cap dance, even the animated BART train race (net gambling: -$1 on the evening - goddamn blue dot holds a lead worse than Francisco Cordero). And, you begin to notice things, such as the announcer's apparent drinking problem.

Mike was the first to notice this at the previous Wednesday game. During dot racing, he decided to choose an "Olympics" theme, assigning each of the colored dots the name of an athlete. I think the white dot was Michael Phelps, the red dot was Carly Patterson, and the blue dot was Tyler Hamilton. However, during the race play-by-play, the announcer confused the names from the very start. He started calling one of the dots "Natalie Coughlin", then switched to "Tim Gatlin" who I believe is not a real athlete. By the end, he was lagging behind the race results, and announced the winner as something that sounded like "Agslalian", who he explained was "the Argentinian horse that threw its rider."

This time, his speech seemed slurred, though it could have just been the Coliseum speakers. Not that I blame the guy; if I had to announce a race between animated dots 81 times a year, I'd probably be sniffing glue or shooting up in the booth. Most of the fans are too busy making up insulting rhymes about Erasmo Ramirez's name to notice anyway.

By the time the ninth inning came around, the A's were down 10-2. They'd given up two runs in the top of the inning, on another enormous home run and a walk/wild pitch. To win the game, the A's would need a miracle. Resorting to tired superstitions like rally caps or cheering was not going to inspire a comeback. We needed something dramatic, something punishing. Rally Mustard.

The concept of Rally Mustard was not a sophisticated or well-thought-out custom. It only came about because Christine was smart enough to bring in her own condiments to thwart the lines. Before Bobby Crosby was to bat, I explained the concept. Before each at-bat, you squirt a bunch of French's yellow mustard directly into your mouth. That creates good luck, as well as a tiny hole in your esophagus, and the A's ride the positive energy to victory. Sure enough, Bobby Crosby reached on an infield single. Next, our imminent heartburn inspired Mark Kotsay to draw a five-pitch walk. The potential tying run was a mere six batters away! Even Dustin, lifelong adversary of mustard, took a Rally squirt. Marco Scutaro grounded into what looked to be a double play, but the second baseman, possibly distracted by our foul breath, threw the ball away. A few more foul mouthfuls of mustard later, Eric Chavez drew a walk.

The eighty remaining fans began to stir. The Rangers changed pitchers. Giddy from mustardseed, I announced that if the A's got within four runs, we'd switch to dijon. Disastrously, after the Rangers changed pitchers, we changed tactics. If mustard was lucky, wouldn't a combined ketchup-and-mustard squirt be extra-lucky? The answer was no. The lazy sweetness of the ketchup neutralized the Rally spice of the mustard. Four pitches later, the game was over and the A's had lost.

On the BART ride home, we considered the lessons of Rally Mustard. Maybe we could tailor the Rally condiments for each hitter - Rally Salsa for Erubiel Durazo, Rally Mayonnaise for Scott Hatteberg, Rally Barbecue sauce for Jermaine Dye. Maybe the thwarted rally was our punishment for ignoring Dirty Harry's anti-ketchup wisdom. Maybe if we were sitting near the rangers bullpen, Doug Brocail would have snatched all our condiments and eaten them while he warmed up. And maybe Dustin had sacrificed his taste buds for the no damn reason, just because of alcohol and peer pressure. And when you think about it, isn't that the greatest Two Dollar Wednesday lesson of all?

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This page is an archive of entries from October 2004 listed from newest to oldest.

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