Michael Ian Black vs. Hal Sparks
Bunsen: While Hal Sparks plays a homosexual on television, Michael Ian Black seems like a homosexual on television.
Dennis DiClaudio: My friend and I invented a drinking game for the I Love the … series that’s kinda fun. We call it “I Hate My Liver.” Here’s how it works: Every time Michael Ian Black feigns genuine human sentiment, my friend does a shot of tequila. And every time Hal Sparks acts like an obnoxious unfunny 16-year-old total fucking cuntbag, I do a shot of vodka.
I have another game I play by myself where every time Rachael Harris comes onscreen, I masturbate. I’m not sure if that counts as a game.
Christopher Monks: Game of Pinochle: Sparks. Texas steel-cage match: M.I.B. Sexual ambiguity: Toss-up.
Matthew Tobey: At first you probably think Sparks would win because he has the ability to turn boner jokes into balls of flame that explode on contact. However, M.I.B.’s snarky deadpan creates an invisible and indestructible force-field around him, so it’s really anybody’s game.
I have a hetero male crush on Michael Ian Black. Doesn’t he write shit for McSweeney’s now too? We are all dorks.
Nick Jezarian: I’m honestly not sure which one is which but I always thought Michael Ian Black was the big black dude who was in The Green Mile. “Hal Sparks” brings about a vision of Vicki’s (from Small Wonder) evil robotic twin (fraternal, of course).
Josh Abraham: I find Michael Ian Black’s pokerfaced delivery soothing: The monotonic timbre of his voice is sweetly soporific, like raindrops or crickets or faraway traffic or Ben Stein doing spoken-word on Def Poetry Jam. It’s so sleep-inducing that a weekend marathon of the show not only cured my sleep apnea, but I even discovered my own repressed memories of 1984. And Michael Ian Black’s got an ovoid head with shadowy, pointy little eyes, which give him an eerie, otherworldly appearance like the standard extraterrestrial caricature. Plus, his initials are “M.I.B.” which is kind of spookily irrational in that classic way that movie aliens, monsters, and other miscellaneous villainy have flagrantly conspicuous names that nobody notices are a dead giveaway to their true sinister selves. I’m saying: dude’s an alien life form.
Anyway, what’s neat about Michael Ian Black is that if you watch a few consecutive episodes, you slowly realize that, visitor from Glaxorp-7 or not, his calculated, ironic nostalgia for the last three decades of the 21st century is virtually indistinguishable from that of someone who is genuinely wistful for the last three decades of the 21st century. Also, I really dig how he invented sarcasm.
And I think it’s funny when they write “Queer as Folk” beneath Hal Sparks’s name without indicating that it’s the title of his show, and not a descriptive qualifier. I bet it gives poor Hal all kinds of complexes. Meanwhile, who let him onto the set of Spider-Man 2?
Geoff Wolinetz: If you really want to get some commentary out of these guys, show clips of the gay one ass-fucking on Queer as Folk and the other gay one rubbing his ass in a pile of pudding on The State. That should get some choice one-liners out of them.
The Dancing Baby
C.M.: I loved the dancing baby until I had an actual baby of my own and realized it couldn’t dance nearly as well. Biggest. Fucking. Disappointment. Ever.
D.DiC.: Is there a dancing baby on the show? I didn’t notice.
B: If had a buck for every time I’ve envisioned taking that adorable dancing baby to the Chuck E. Cheese for a mid-afternoon romp in the ball crawl, I’d have enough money to get my real baby back from that fucking bitch ex-wife of mine.
N.J.: That was high fashion in the design world once. I’m still curious how they got that critter to model for them—Isn’t there some child labor law or something? I mean he was showing nipple!
D.B.: I love that dancing baby. I’ve always loved that dancing baby, it’s so fucking stupid. I am going to use it on all my Web pages from now on. Is that public domain? Oh shit, I bet VH1 made it to begin with. So hip, even back in the day. I love VH1 pre-I Love the _0s shit.
J.A.: Ah, an inexplicably popular Internet gimmick as hallucinogenic metaphor for an anorexic TV lawyer’s ticking biological clock. I tell you, that Verne Troyer can really dance.
G.W.: I liked that dancing baby so much better when he was talking backward on Twin Peaks.
M.T.: Oddly enough, the dancing Internet baby grew up to be Hilary Duff.
“I still dance in my underwear!”
B: My favorite episode is the one where they reminisce about the Rubik’s Cube as they fumble with an actual Rubik’s Cube. Was that 1983? ’84? No matter. It so vividly brings back that time in my childhood when, frustrated by my utter inability to solve more than three sides of that damned puzzle, I would pry apart the cube and insert the fragments in my rectum. They’d pass after a few hours of vigorous jumping on the bed, but my actions did precious little to improve my puzzle-solving abilities. Did I mention I must now defecate into an elaborate medical device that signals an unfriendly male nurse each time I move my bowels?
G.W.: I have a hard time picking favorites. Last time, I picked 1975 over 1992. Then 1992 killed my father. I can’t go through that trauma again.
M.T.: “I Love 1988” actually meant a lot to me. When I was 10, I got picked up by the authorities in Montevideo for money laundering and collectible-stamp theft, so I ended up spending the end of 1987 and all of 1988 in a Uruguayan prison. Thanks to VH1, I got a chance to relive 1988 the way God intended. In fact, by the end of “I Love 1988 Strikes Back,” I was actually sick of the year and glad I got to skip it first time around.
C.M.: I’m a big fan of “I Love 1983” because of the segment it had on Wacky Wallwalkers. I wasn’t a real big fan of Wacky Wallwalkers; I just thought that section of the show was well produced.
J.A.: My favorite episodes are “I Love 1970” through “I Love 1975,” because, not having been born, I totally missed the pop-cultural zeitgeist of the era: Starsky and Hutch, Scooby-Doo, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre … these entertainment properties seem so foreign from the movies I know and love in 2004.
D.DiC.: I like the one where Hal Sparks acts like an obnoxious unfunny 16-year-old total fucking cuntbag.
D.B.:Well, the I Love the 80s Strikes Back is fucking weak as hell. They shouldn’t rehash their own shit. Now that VH1 has done that, well… I hate to say it, but they’ve possibly jumped the shark on their good thing going. Ratings would’ve stayed good enough with reruns of what they already had of the decades they’d already taped.
N.J.: Probably the one where Arnold and Dudley get locked in the laundry room Or the one where Arnold prays to God and says, “Hey, God, it’s me, the little black kid on Central Park.”
Donnie Boman battens down the hatches at Left Pedal and Über.
Bunsen sweeps the leg at The Greatest Blog in the World, Bunsen.tv.
Dennis DiClaudio toes the line at (parenthetical note).
Nick Jezarian is coëditor of this humble journal.
Christopher Monks trips the light fantastic at Utter Wonder.
Matthew Tobey, erstwhile Haypenny editor, rocks the sure shot at The City of Floating Blogs.
Geoff Wolinetz is coëditor of this humble journal.