August 2006 Archives

"Cats in the Cradle" tells the story of a neglectful workaholic father and his son, who eventually turns into the same kind of workaholic man as his dad. But what if your father is attentive and loving, but you still turn into him? Here's how "Cats in the Cradle" would have gone had my father written it, instead of Harry Chapin.

Cats in the Cradle

By Sean's Dad

My child arrived just the other day
Came into the world in the usual way
But there was football to watch
And chess to play
He learned to talk, I was home that day
Though he was talkin' with a lisp, I still understood
He said, "I'm gonna be like you, Dennis"
"You know I'm gonna be like you."


Cats in the cradle
And an ugly couch
Gargamel, Gandalf,
And Oscar the Grouch
When you coming home, Dad?
At 6:42
Tell Mom to pick me up at BART
Remind your mom to pick me up

My son turned ten just the other day
He said, "Thanks for the crosswords. What a great birthday!"
"Do you know a French word for 'sword'?",
I said, "It's épée".
He filled in 19 Down and put the book away
And he walked away with a pen behind his ear and said,
"I'm gonna be like you, Dad."
"You know I'm gonna be like you."


Well, he came home from college just the other day
So much like a man I just had to say
"Son, I'm proud of you, can you sit for a while?"
He nodded his head and said with a smile
"What I'm feeling like, Dad,
Is watching soccer on TV
Can you hand me some of that salami and cheese?"


My son got a job, seven blocks away
I called him up just the other day
"I'd like to see you if you don't mind"
He said, "I'd like to, Dad. I've got plenty of time."
"You see, my new job's laid-back
And my car's out of the shop
So I'll drive by and pick you up
I'll drive by and pick you up."

And as he locked the driver's door before pumping gas (even though I was sitting in the car) chewed blue gum, wrote a to-do list on the back of his receipt, and whistled a Grateful Dead song off-key, it occurred to me
He'd grown up just like me
My boy was just like me!


tower of power


Tower Air was maybe the worst airline in the history of the world. Flights were routinely delayed for hours with no explanation. At the New York terminal, the X-ray machine sat in the middle of the room, where it would violently eject baggage directly into the wall. Employees routinely engaged in shouting matches with travelers and with each other.

Tower had nothing going for it at all besides rock-bottom prices. Both they and their customers knew it. The disinterested, confrontational service seemed to say, "If you had any money or self-respect, you'd have flown with someone else."

From Wikipedia:

Early in its history and certainly by the mid-1990s, Tower Air became notorious for poor service and questionable maintenance. By 1995 it ranked fourth in the number of complaints per mile among leading U.S. airlines. The 1997 Zagat Survey placed Tower Air 59th out of 61 ranked carriers, only edging ahead of Valujet and Aeroflot.[1] In February 1998, the Federal Aviation Administration proposed two civil penalties totaling $276,000 for continuing to fly aircraft that required maintenance action.

My favorite Tower memory came on a flight back to San Francisco in 1999. They'd made us wait for an hour and a half on the ground in New York, and something else delayed us for another hour in the air - turbulence, or wind, or a tear in the duct tape holding on the wing, or a pig getting loose in the cabin. To make up for the delay, the flight crew decided to waive the charges for cocktails, much to the delight of the Canadian tourists behind me. They proceeded to get wasted and beligerent during the in-flight movie, shouting Canadian things at one another and falling out of favour with our crew.

When the flight finally landed in San Francisco, two Asian passengers stood up while the plane was still rolling toward the gate. They politely nodded when the flight attendant asked them to sit down, and more politely when the captain stopped the plane and came on the intercom to demand they sit down. They even nodded politely when the Canadians started heckling them: "Sit the fuck down, John Woo!" "Jackie Chan! Plane's still moving, eh?"

Finally the head flight attendant walked up to restore order. "Let me handle this," she said, moving her frazzled comrade aside. She stood a foot away from the nodding, confused Asian men, and proceeded to clarify matters.

"YOU NEED TO SIT DOWN!", she shouted.

Unfortunately, the added volume did not overcome the language barrier, and only some creative sign language from another passenger kept the Canadians from going Flight 93 on their asses. I walked off the plane, confident that I would never fly Tower again. At least not for more than $225, round-trip.

come fly with me

This weekend, I flew down to San Diego in the company of Concrete Skyline himself. The last time we flew together was on a trip to New York City, way back in 1997. It was a red-eye flight on the now-bankrupt Tower Air, the discount air travel provider to New York during the 80's and 90's. More on Tower tomorrow.

The flight was slowly filling up when Gene and I took our seats. We were on the left side, next to a middle-aged guy who looked like a business traveler. As we sat through one of Tower's inevitable runway delays, Gene began discussing an article he'd read recently. Appropriately enough, it was about plane crashes.

According to the article, people who survived plane crashes were not the ones who remained calm, and tried to exit the plane in an orderly fashion. The passengers who survived were those that shoved their way to the front of the plane, knocking over the orderly people and going over them, if necessary. If our plane were to crash, Gene informed me, he would be taking out whoever he had to in order to get out.

That was when the business traveler abruptly decided to find a new seat.

We sat together again this year, on a Southwest flight. Everything was calm until five minutes before takeoff, when Gene began discussing a series of plane crash videos he'd discovered online.

In other aeronautic happenings, check out the scene at JFK in this video, from an up and coming New York Times video journalist. If hard-hitting airport footage doesn't give you a boner, never fear. There's an accompanying ad featuring Dr. Drew talking about impotence. I think he gets a keychain if enough people click the link to this story. There's also a good one on medical research in prisons.

sean keane at 50 mason, 8/5/06

After a triumphant fourth-place finish at the Comedy Competition (OK, an eleven-way tie), Sean Keane will be returning to the San Francisco Comedy Club on Saturday, August 5th. It's my fifth headlining spot at 50 Mason, which means I get to join the prestigious Five-Timers' Club. You get a framed headshot on the wall, a congratulatory phone call from Elliott Gould, and a romantic serenade from the Tenderloin hobo of your choice. It is a very special milestone in a young comedian's life.

Please join me, along with Travis Curry, Walter Pierre, and host Antonio Sparks at 8 PM, at 50 Mason. We've got a shorter lineup this week, which means the funny is longer, stronger, and even more down to get the friction on. So ladies? (Yeah!) Ladies? (Yeah!) You wanna watch some stand-up comedy? Dial 1-900-MIX-ALOT, and...well, hang up, and then dial (415) 398-4129 to reserve your spot.

Also, you can now chat to me via this very web page, thanks to Meebo. It's technically still an instant message, but you'll feel like you're having the conversation in The Future.

The official show promo is after the jump.

lenny bruce is not afraid

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It started with an earthquake (though without birds, snakes, nor an aeroplanes), just a few minutes ago here in San Francisco. I was in the bathroom. If you're in the bathroom, a seismic event can be a lot like the end of a prom night after party. The whole thing consisted of a few seconds of random, aimless vibrating. I was scared and confused the whole time. When it was over, I zipped up my pants and tried not to cry.

As a California resident, you can get jaded about earthquakes. The event lasts only a few seconds. Afterward, unless there's a fire, or your power goes out, or a freeway collapses, all that's left is to confirm that you did feel a real tremor and are not hallucinating.

If you experience a hurricane or a tornado, I can see how that can lead to some good conversation. You drove away from the storm, you hid in the shelter, you saw a cow get picked up by a funnel cloud, whatever. There's a narrative to a storm story.

Earthquakes are non sequiturs. They happen without warning, so there's never context for an earthquake story. The narrator rarely realizes what is happening until the event is nearly over. It's a dramatic event presented by the most limited witness imaginable. Even the best earthquake story boils down to, "I was in a weird place", or "This thing fell."

Still, when enormous tectonic plates shift in the lithosphere, you need to tell someone, even if there's nothing to tell. According to Sonoma County community service officer Al Tuppman, "Nobody's called for assistance, no one's reporting any problems. They were just letting me know that they felt it."

brett favre is in mid-season form

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Brett Favre threw five interceptions in training camp. It's good to see that he's picking up right where he left off last year, with his league-leading 29 interceptions. Even in the pre-season, Brett Favre is a gunslinger! I'm pretty sure that John Madden and Peter King were still impressed by his performance.

In Week 4 of the 2005 season, Favre battled back against the Panthers, only to fall short on the final desperation drive. The AP game summary discussed the "vintage" Favre effort at length, how he battled back, how he cavred up the Carolina defense, and how impressed the Panther players were afterward. The writer only mentioned his two first-half turnovers around the twentieth paragraph.

After the game, Favre said, "You ask yourself: 'What more could I have done?' That eats at you." My dad suggested, "How about not fumbling deep in your own territory on your opening possession?" Favre also sevred up an interception that led to a Carolina touchdown. When you give the other team 14 free points, you don't desevre to win.

I have a theory that Favre's "gunslinger" nature makes him more likely to make comebacks - not necessarily because it's a great style, but because it's so variable. There have been many games where Favre leads a comeback in the fourth quarter, but I think there have also been a significant number of games where the Packers are down seven to ten points, and Favre throws killer interceptions to put the game completely out of reach.

When Favre throws up wild, 50-yard bombs and they get caught, he's a hero. When those passes get intercepted, it gets forgotten, since the team was already losing at the time, and Favre's still a hero. I mean, did you hear what happened to his house after Hurricane Katrina?

The best example of the free pass Favre gets from the media came in a 2005 playoff game against Minnesota. The Packers were behind, but driving for a touchdown. Favre threw a pass from something like five yards across the line of scrimmage. After that play, which would have been gotten Favre benched in a Pop Warner game, and may well have ended Green Bay's season, the announcers were actually laughing about it. That's just Favre, that's just what a gunslinger does, forgetting where the line of scrimmage is. He's all heart, that Brett Favre! What a line-of-scrimmage-ignoring competitor!

I like Brett Favre, I really do. I like that he shows so much enthusiasm on the field. I like that he starts every game. I like that he shaved his head out of solidarity when his wife went through chemotherapy. I like that he successfully petitioned the league to let him drink beer while he was rehabbing from Vicodin addiction. I liked him in There's Something About Mary. But broadcasters and sportswriters are making me hate him.

If just once, Joe Theisman would call out Favre for a bad pass, or if Peter King would skip a press conference where Favre announces he's still making up his mind about retirement, it would go a long way to redeeming Favre for me. Failing that, he could promise to keep gunslinging through the Week 14 game against the 49ers. Come on, Brett. Niner fans are stavring for some cheap wins. Don't let us down, buddy.

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This page is an archive of entries from August 2006 listed from newest to oldest.

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