Monday, May 16, 2011

Undercover Boss (CBS)

debuted 2/7/2010
60 minutes

"Undercover Boss" is an example of the right premise at the right time. With the country still fighting an economic downturn, it's appealing to watch corporate higher-ups take a turn at the bottom of the ladder. The show debuted after the Super Bowl, with nearly 39 million people tuning in.

On "Undercover Boss," CEOs from across the nation take on a fake identities to work on the ground floor of their companies. Along the way, they get to know the personal struggles of the people who work for them. They witness first hand if the company is delivering on its promises. At the end of each hour-long episode, the CEO featured relays their finds to the home office. And they reveal their true identity to the employees they encountered, who generally receive a reward for their helpfulness and hard work in the face of (generally) tough times.

You probably could have guessed how the episodes end before I told you. No company would volunteer for this without multiple chances to look good. As you can imagine, many parts of the show act as an infomercial for the company featured. It's expected, but still not easy to digest.

The same goes for the fate of the workers they meet. The CEO just happens to be trained by the single mother, or the hard-working newcomer to America, or the aspiring-but-still-in-school entrepreneur. These people were probably put through the same casting process as a Real World contestant.

But i
t's still satisfying to watch them receive their sizable gifts and praise at the end; even if the lessons taken away are temporary for most involved. The CEOs are shown at home with their families, and often confront personal issues themselves. But at the end of the day, they're still the ones with the big check and nice house. Economic realities mean every cashier can't suddenly get health care. But again, it's still satisfying to see some people get to be king or queen for a day.

How fun an episode is largely depends on what company is being featured. They could be visiting a fast food restaurant you and I frequent every week. Or, in typical positive-to-the-company language, we could be visiting the southern United States' largest growing mail-in laundry processor. Whoopee. I watched two episodes, each with different personalities. One was a little more exciting than the other, but both felt a little dragged out.


Even if you take away the positive PR and "coincidental" finding of hard luck cases, it's just not that exciting. Let's compare to another hour-long reality show - "Wife Swap." You know two families are going to have philosophical differences. You know they're going to live in each others' shoes for a week and take something away. But the characters each week are vastly different, the conflicts they encounter are different, and you don't know whether the families will take away something positive from the experience, or something negative.

With "Undercover Boss," I feel like every week will be the same. The CEO will work at their business and witness imperfections. They'll meet good, hard-working folks who could use a helping hand. They'll give them gifts of increasing worth, subtitle the post-script outcome, and roll credits. I could come back to it given the right company, or with some time off from watching again. But based on these examples, I've had enough for now.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Journey - Trial By Fire (1996)

There are many chances for fans of the band Journey to ask "what if?" They had three albums before Steve Perry came along, trying out lead singer Robert Fleischman before making the choice that made them legendary. What if Steve Perry chose to stay home instead? When Gregg Rolie left the band following their double live album Captured, Jonathan Cain replaced him, co-writing a number of the band's greatest hits, including "Don't Stop Believin." What if he wasn't the guy? Two of the band's concert favorites, one a top 10 single, were lopped off the Frontiers album before it went to print. What if...

You get the idea. A major point of debate and divide among fans is Steve Perry's reported slowing down of Journey in the mid-80s. Describing himself as "toast," Steve Perry bowed out in 1987, and wouldn't sing with the band again for nearly ten years. In 1996, fans were too busy salivating over their return to ask what if. Years later, the album and resultant (final) departure of Steve Perry would raise a lifetime worth of new questions and possible scenarios.

It's no secret that Steve Perry's voice was changing. Just two years after Escape went to number one on the Billboard 200 album chart, the familiar hits were sounding different in concert. When Perry toured the Journey catalog with a solo album in 1994, he actually tuned down a key, something as-to-then unheard of with these songs. Aside from that, the band went in a different, softer direction on their last album, Raised on Radio, which saw the dismissal of longtime drummer Steve Smith and founding bass player Ross Valory. The motivation for those changes is up for debate on the fan boards. Given ALL that, with the hitmaking Escape lineup reformed, and time passed, what sort of album would they deliver?

Track listing:
1 - Message of Love (5:34)
2 - One More (5:28)
3 - When You Love a Woman (4:07)
4 - If He Should Break Your Heart (4:23)
5 - Forever In Blue (3:35)
6 - Castles Burning (6:00)
7 - Don't Be Down on Me Baby (4:01)
8 - Still She Cries (5:04)
9 - Colors of the Spirit (5:41)
10 - When I Think Of You (4:21)
11 - Easy to Fall (5:15)
12 - Can't Tame the Lion (4:32)
13 - It's Just the Rain (5:19)
14 - Trial By Fire (4:41)
15 - Baby I'm Leaving You (2:49) (hidden track)

Something different than anything before it with Steve Perry. You can tell that right away with the lead-off track, "Message of Love." For better or worse, "Message" sets the mood. This song I liked. To give you perspective, I slowly got into Journey through the sheer power of their hits, and I got to love many songs beyond that over the years. This review is my first real crack at Trial By Fire, outside of a few tracks.

"One More" begs the question: since when does Journey use the words "wicked prophets" in their lyrics? Unfortunately, this song helps you notice Steve Perry's vocal ceiling that developed in the off time.

"When You Love a Woman" was the big single, nominated for a Grammy. It's more grandiose than 99% of the stuff from their heyday, but whatever. It's a pleasing song with a more classic sound. It's followed by "If He Should Break Your Heart," a very worthy song that shockingly hasn't been heard in concert yet. It deserved more attention in the long run, and fights doggedly with others for my favorite song on the album. Bears noting that nothing out-and-out rocks so far.

The intro of "Forever in Blue" sounds like part of Van Halen's playbook. The tone of this record being so low-key hurts an otherwise solid thumbs up. "Castles Burning" continues a positive streak, and brings more energy to the proceedings. Once the demonic voiceovers begin, we're clearly not in Kansas anymore, Toto. The song goes on a couple minutes more than it should.

In "Don't Be Down on Me Baby," Steve Perry holds notes to the point of parody. I wanted the song to go somewhere, or be over. It did one of those things. "Still She Cries" and "Colors of the Spirit" are somewhat enjoyable, but could have been pared down a bit in length. Being on an album with such even energy didn't help, either.

"When I Think of You" feels like a classic Journey track - perhaps moreso than anything on the album. "Easy to Fall" makes it two thumbs up in a row, and ends with another good solo by Neal Schon. However, we're still way out of balance in tone here.

"Can't Tame the Lion" has good lyrical hooks and brings a welcome tempo change. "It's Just the Rain" is capable, segueing to the rather dull title track, which I would enjoy as an instrumental to read or relax to. After the album proper, we get a bit of Journey reggae in "Baby I'm Leaving You." Definitely strange, but it didn't offend me like it seemed to offend other fans.

What does it all add up to? An album with good music that's hard to like. Hard to like because of the band's pedigree. I guess, in a parallel to their musical "maturity" here, I've grown to appreciate songs that aren't a textbook 3-minutes-and-fun. I had something of an expectation given
Steve Perry's vocal evolution, and fans' use of the word "dark" in describing the album's direction.

But somewhere, deep down, especially given the returning lineup, I expected something more radio friendly. Is that unfair? Perhaps. But after giving some songs a second and third pass, they really grew on me.


It's the slow burn of Journey albums. It requires some savoring and second looks. If you're in a mood where dialing back from the energy and smiles of earlier Journey work sounds good, then Trial by Fire won't disappoint. In my review of their 2008 album Revelation, I talked about the long runtimes and repetitive subject matter making it a chore to go through as a whole. I find that album a bit easier to pick-up-and-play than this one, albeit "safer." Even though it may not get as many spins, I respect Trial By Fire more for having better music.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Dexter: The First Season

4-disc set; 12 episodes (~650 minutes)

Dexter began its run on Showtime in October 2006, and I've been surrounded by Dexter fever for quite some time. My cousin and her friends watched it with rapt attention in college. My dad gave it a try on DVD recently, and ended up buying every episode available within the month. And two blood-adorned coffee cups. My parents invite my brother and his wife over to watch three or four episodes at a time. Having never subscribed to pay channels, I confess to being out of the loop when it comes to their heralded series. With a four-season Dexter care package arriving from Michigan, I had no excuse to avoid it. And this show makes a strong case for paying extra each month.

Michael C. Hall stars as Dexter Morgan, a forensic analyst and blood spatter expert with the Miami Police Department. Dexter practices a form of vigilante justice. When the scourge of society goes untreated by the hand of law, Dexter tracks them down and deals with them his own way. He interrogates the soon-to-be-deceased on their crimes. He confronts them with pictures of their victims. He adds a sample of their blood to his trophy case. Given his occupation, no trace of evidence is left behind. The room is covered in plastic. His victims are dismembered with power tools, and thrown off a fishing boat in the middle of the ocean.

All of this happens under the direct of his late foster father's "code." A former police officer, Harry Morgan took Dexter in as a child, and discovered he had a need to kill. Harry channeled Dexter's desire into something (arguably) good for society. If he was going to kill, the thinking goes, he should at least do so to people who "deserve" it. Harry taught Dexter all his tricks, stressing that he mask his emotional detachment from the world and "act normal." As a result, Harry's biological daughter Debra never quite got the attention she wanted. Both Morgan children join the police force in his honor, with Debra starting off the season trying to become a detective.

The first twelve episodes of the series revolve around "the Ice Truck Killer." Spoilers ahead, of course. This season is based on the book "Darkly Dreaming Dexter" by Jeff Lindsay. After this season, the TV show splinters off from the written plots.

Dexter – Right out of the gate, Dexter goes after a priest who molests young children, and kills him in a way we'll get used to as the series goes on. I knew coming in what it meant to "Dexter" your victim, so this rather open exposition of the character felt odd. Afterward, Miami PD finds a dismembered body in a hotel swimming pool. The strange part? There's not a drop of blood. The sight confounds Dexter. He lets Debra, who's working undercover as a prostitute, voice a theory that the killer is icing his victims in extreme cold. And we know something's up when Dexter receives a similarly dismembered Barbie doll at his home. Because we aren't yet invested in these characters, the episode lacks something. Thumbs in the middle. But as a viewer, you no doubt want to carry on. A lot of interesting ground is laid out.

Crocodile – Dexter examines a crime scene where an officer was killed. This officer was working undercover to stop a drug lord named Guerrero. Turns out Sergeant James Doakes was sleeping with the officer's wife. Again, given the relative youth of these characters in the viewer's mind, this whole plot is a jumble, and isn't satisfying to watch. What IS satisfying is another look into how Dexter finds his victims (he sees a family crying outside a courtroom) and a new lead in the no-blood case. Debra uses her free time to search for a refrigerated truck the killer might be using to cool down his victims. She not only finds the truck, but new evidence - fingertips frozen in a block of ice. The fingernails are each painted a different color....just like the doll left in Dexter's apartment. Just like the doll that's no longer there. Somebody's been inside again. These developments don't save the episode entirely, but they do succeed again in making you tune in next week. Thumbs in the middle.

Popping Cherry – A new victim is found chopped up in a hockey goal at the local ice rink. The surveillance tape sees a security guard placing the body parts, but it's suggested the real killer was off camera directing him. In the previous two episodes, Dexter's girlfriend Rita is unable to have sex due to her abusive past. This relieves Dexter, whose disconnection makes the whole thing awkward anyway. Here, Rita's past continues to haunt her, as one of her ex-husband's drug dealers takes her car as deferred payment. Meanwhile, Doakes turns up the heat on the drug lord from last week. Other members of the precinct provoke the drug family, retaliating at Doakes for sleeping with a colleague's wife. Elsewhere, Dexter targets a 15-year-old murderer, but spares him when he learns the kid might be "taking out the garbage" like Dexter does. There's a lot to learn about the character here. Coupled with the development of our running plots, it adds to a very worthy thumbs up. Quote from the opening funeral scene by Dexter: "Most people have a hard time dealing with death. But I’m not most people." The show ends with Dexter giving Rita a car from evidence, declaring it a win "for the little wooden boy." Is he becoming human?

Let's Give the Boy a Hand – Lt. LaGuerta's politicking hits one of its first major snags, as her much-ballyhooed lead suspect turns up...parceled out in pieces by the real Ice Truck Killer. The severed limbs are left in spots gleaned from Dexter's family photos. Sgt. Doakes is kidnapped. Turns out his enemies on the force used him as bait to get Guerrero. Doakes comes out unharmed, with perhaps a lesson learned. Dexter follows the hands and feet to another memory-filled location - the hospital - where he finds one-time suspect Tony Tucci all prepared for a Dextering. He chooses instead to give the tip to Debra, who's getting the short shrift from her superiors. The Ice Truck Killer flees the scene, but not before snapping a Polaroid of Dexter. The hits keep on comin'. Thumbs up.

Love American Style – Rita finds one of her co-workers at the hotel crying. Her husband is trying to immigrate (illegally) from Cuba, and he's gone missing. Dexter investigates, ending up with a new target of his own. Tony Tucci is brought in to the hospital, where Debra suggests blindfolding him in an effort to see what he can remember about the Ice Truck Killer. I guess the killer likes cough drops. And I guess he left his fingerprints on one of the wrappers. Despite enjoyable streaks of humor, I was feeling more thumbs in the middle about this episode. Dexter was out of the Ice Truck proceedings. The stuff with Angel and his wife growing apart was blah. But, a deviation of plan (in more ways than one) made this one exponentially better in a heartbeat. Thumbs up.

Return to Sender – Typical morning. Dexter's at Rita's, gets a call from work. This time though, he's called back to the scene of HIS crime. As we saw at the end of the last show, somebody was watching Dexter do his deed that night. Stories like this always make me uncomfortable. Even on the most pithy of sitcoms, I don't like to see the main character vulnerable when the viewers know he or she is in the right. We get to see the Ice Truck Killer's calling card here. The smiley face. As Dexter goes to dump his evidence, he finds one etched in a blood slide. The clue leads him to plant the evidence that grants him his freedom. Despite squirming over Dexter's possible capture, this gets a thumbs up. Elsewhere, Debra goes to dinner with Doakes and his family in something of a romantic subplot that never quite goes anywhere.

Circle of Friends – Big episode here. The Ice Truck Killer is caught (or is he?). We get a callback to Dexter's catch-and-release a few episodes back, and Rita's abusive ex-husband is introduced, recently released from prison. The husband joins a line of broad characterizations in the supporting cast, but doesn't succeed in that way as well as the others, looking more like a caricature. Despite him, this show gets a definite thumbs up. An exciting log jam of elements.

Shrink Wrap
– Dexter's next potential victim is a psychiatrist. On a recon mission to plan for the big event, Dexter ends up finding release in therapy. The idea of Dexter self-reflecting has potential, and in this episode, a good payoff. I started to pine for a weird plot twist where Dexter would keep his therapist hostage to figure out his own head. It was a neat insight into the character, and we got to see him humanize, albeit slowly. Debra's feelings grow for her latest beau - Rudy, the doctor who gave Tony Tucci his prosthetics. The end of this episode made me say "SHIT" out loud in an empty room. What a punch to the gut. Stellar. Thumbs up.

Father Knows BestDoakes stops his patrol car to kill a man, and tells a different story than the blood spatter reveals. While they try to get a grip on the sergeant, Dexter gets word that his biological father died and left Dexter a home in the will. Dex has no doubt - this isn't real. Harry told him about his past. The Ice Tr- I mean Rudy, talks with Deb about her brother needing help at this difficult time. So it's a double date with Deb, Dex, Rudy and Rita all cleaning up the home. You'd think the meeting of Dexter and...*ahem* "Deb's boyfriend" would be unreal, but this was more of a simmer. When Dexter finds a familiar thank you card at the home, things come together. Joe Driscoll, now revealed to be his biological father, donated blood to him at a young age when he faced death on the operating table. This episode pushes along our larger narrative, but lingers a long time on a dull B-story with Doakes. The ending felt telegraphed early on. Thumbs in the middle. But now there's doubt in the relationship of Harry and Dexter.

Seeing Red – This one started really down. I know, weird to say on a show about a serial killer who goes after other serial killers. Dexter is sent to a crime scene that's swimming in blood. The sight takes him back to a terrible childhood memory when HE was sitting in a pool of blood. Angel finds a hooker with painted fingernails matching those found earlier in the case. Because it's a prosthesis, he talks to Rudy, who nobody suspects yet as the killer. The sniffing around is enough to make Rudy defensive. He secretly stabs Angel in the parking lot. Meanwhile, Rita's ex-husband Paul is winning in court after Rita fought back physically. Paul makes the mistake of threatening Dexter, though, who knocks Paul out with a frying pan and plants drugs by his body. Dex goes back to the pool of blood, on Rudy's encouragement, where he realizes the gruesome scene from his childhood was actually his biological mother's murder. With all these developments, and superb execution therein, it's a slam dunk thumbs up.

Truth Be Told – Doakes' suspicions about Dexter grow tenfold when he discovers he's been lying about his connections to the Ice Truck Killer. Dexter finally uncovers records of the crime scene where Harry found him. The crime scene where his mother was murdered. Paul's in prison and he doesn't know why. Rudy is persistent in meeting with Debra, who doesn't want to leave the office amidst breaks in the Ice Truck case. He manages to get her on a boat for dinner and proposes marriage. And then he renders her unconscious. By the time Dexter puts the pieces together, the ship has literally sailed. The show in this position just HAS to be good. And it delivers. All the loose ends are swaying neatly together, ready for a huge load to be blown in the next episode. Cree. Pee. Thumbs up.

Born Free – Here it is. The reveal of all reveals. Dexter and Rudy - or should I say Brian - finally meet under their true identities. The Ice Truck Killer is Dexter's biological brother. He was with Dexter when their mom was brutally murdered. And now to solidify their bond, Brian has presented Dexter with Debra's body, just how he likes it, asking Dexter to end her life. He chooses to spare Debra, and Brian runs free. It's Brian's expertise, professional and private, that would turn out to be his undoing. A perfect cap to a wonderful season. The killing that ends this episode has to be one of the most intense moments in television history. Lots is left brewing for next season. The usual heavy-handedness with the side action wasn't felt here, because the main plot was just so intense. Thumbs up.

The count (up-middle-down):

Obviously any good TV show wants you to tune in to the next episode. But Dexter is top notch at stirring things up with the right energy and pace to make you want the next episode NOW NOW NOW. Viewed anew on DVD, you get the luxury of watching them back to back, and it's hard to stop once you get going. The top-of-show recaps are particularly well done, varying widely in technique from episode to episode, and aptly reminding of you details from the last show so you're well-equipped for the one you're about to see.

Dexter being such an interesting and multi-layered character presents problems elsewhere. Spending any significant length of time with supporting characters often feels boring. We have a habitual killer practicing his own moral code in one corner, versus a guy who's sad to be divorced (Angel) in another? Perhaps because of their length of time on screen, many of them end up as bold, loud characterizations. Doakes is a fireball of emotions. This sort of bluster entertained me in "The Departed," and it (mostly) succeeds here. The foul-mouthed Debra is another example. Because they're so over the top, we learn about these characters faster, and have more time to enjoy Dexter's plots. Like I said regarding the first two episodes, we're just not invested enough to care yet about anything else. We've barely gotten to know Doakes, and yet we're alluding to a convoluted past? I'd rather see what Dexter's up to. But after this season, it's practically impossible to turn away from the show. This momentum gives the writers and producers a chance to develop everyone else next season with the foundation they've built here.


If the idea of watching a serial killer practice his own form of justice doesn't turn you off, then absolutely dive in and watch this season now. You won't regret it. DVD extras include commentary (of course), chapters of a Dexter novel, and much much more. Frankly, you'll be too eager to get to season two before you even think about watching any of it.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Star Munchkin (2002)

by Steve Jackson Games, for 2-6 players

Back in grade school, I had friends who played Pokemon, friends who played Yu-Gi-Oh, friends who played Magic: The Gathering. I had my own way of playing Magic we tried a few times. If somebody left their card collection behind, we'd take turns grabbing handfuls and throw them at each other. I would ramble about abilities and points as I threw stack after stack towards my opponents. There was a lights-off version that increased the strategy, as you had no idea where the next attack was coming from.

With that said...Star Munchkin is a card game with sci-fi theming and jokes that should resonate with fans of Star Trek and Star Wars. You start with a hand of cards, and your character at level 1. The first player "kicks down the door" to a "room," which is theme-speak for drawing a card. That player could find themselves in a trap, gain an item to use later, or end up toe-to-toe with a monster. If engaged in combat, players use cards to try and defeat their enemy.

If you get lost like I did - since these games aren't my bag - just imagine all the slots you can fill with the different cards. Your character can have one ship, one race, one class, and one sidekick. Your character can also
wear something on their head, and also put something in each hand. As such, you could be a psychic cyborg holding two laser guns with your trusty sidekick "The Lovely Assistant" at your side. These modifiers basically change the ways you're affected by winning and losing the battles. They also increase your ability to defeat monsters (sometimes allowing you to hold more weapons).

Combat is a basic assessment of how many points you have (level plus weapons plus abilities) vs. the point level of the monster. You can play temporary cards to overcome a deficit; or your opponents could do the inverse and make the challenge harder. Defeating monsters comes with the reward of more cards and advancing your character up a level. If you find yourself at a disadvantage, another player can negotiate to help (usually at the cost of splitting the loot). If you can't defeat the monster, you roll a die to attempt "running away," where you avoid the negative consequence(s) of losing. Cards can also be sold off at face value in exchange for levels. Players take turns kicking down doors around the table until one reaches level 10. The first player to reach level 10 wins the game. You can buy your way up to level 9, but you have to be successful in combat to get that final level.

The text-heavy cards are daunting. As a new player, having a card's pluses and minuses laid out plainly would have been preferred. But doing so would likely hinder the humor. I drew parallels between this and The Mad Magazine Game. The classic humor mag put out a board game years ago where you tried to lose money. The conventions of board gaming were lampooned in the cards, rules and board spaces. Like that game, the fun in Star Munchkin drops off once you've seen the jokes.

And the game isn't strong enough to overcome that. Players basically let each other gain levels in the early goings. Once someone gets to level 9, their next battle brings every negative card out of the woodwork. It makes sense, but it's eye-rollingly predictable. I played a 70s game called Big Deal once that had the same thing going on. Lots of nice art and clever cards, but it boiled down to a final climactic roll. In Star Munchkin, you go through stacks of preamble to find out if the first player to level 9 has enough cards to combat what everyone else has. Maybe a final battle would help, where the first two people to level 10 face off for ultimate victory.

Was Star Munchkin devoid of fun? Not at all. I enjoyed some of the humor, and that humor was further exploited by the group I played it in. Do I recommend having it on the shelf? Out of five stars, Star Munchkin gets...


Star Munchkin is merely one in a series - a standalone sequel to a game called Munchkin that had a dungeon theme. There's something I don't like about getting people to buy a so-so game over and over again just for new jokes. If you have friends that would enjoy this kind of humor, Star Munchkin is worth playing a time or two. But space those playings out. You probably don't want to be the person out twenty or thirty dollars either.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Freestyle 5/3/11 - Poker "Pro" League, Twitter

There's a report in USA Today about a budding new poker league whose plan is to showcase the game's professional players. The spearheads - a former World Series of Poker commissioner, and star player Annie Duke - talk about qualifying criteria involving tournament wins and cash earnings. More interesting than pocketbook poker is the requirement that you "cashed" at least nine times since 2008. This puts emphasis on power players with skill - as much as that term can be used in gambling, I suppose.

As a one-time casual fan of the game, I'm intrigued. Like many people, I got poker fever by tuning in to the World Series that Chris Moneymaker eventually won. Watching subsequent Series meant seeing more and more people trying to rise from obscurity like Chris did. That meant more poker websites gaining popularity. Said sites gave away berths to the Main Event in their tournaments. The poker explosion meant a bigger field of players. That meant higher odds against seeing your favorite through, and less chance for those gaining fame in the game to be at the final table. As somebody who got into poker that year because of the bold characters and their exciting play, I wasn't inspired to stay tuned if everybody I saw was an unproven entity.

GSN's "High Stakes Poker" is still chugging along, with much of the same appeal this new league wants to have. Well-known poker players with money to burn play a cash game on TV. But is this league's effort too little too late? Poker's been in decline with the masses for some time. The shutdown and investigation into three major online poker houses was a major blow. ESPN quickly downgraded coverage for the next World Series, and namely, poker in general. I imagine there's a good number of players online whose love of the game doesn't extend into finding new, trustworthy places to play. The new league will need a high-profile spot on television to gain traction outside the poker community, and maybe win back casual fans like myself. Perhaps more dubious at this point is the league's 200-plus list of qualifiers. The list represents who can play, but not who will be playing.

I recently got re-energized with Twitter. No longer just a medium for me to plug new posts here - feh! Sure, I want you to follow my pithy tweets. But allow me to suggest some real quality feeds to help make your day funnier.

If you don't already follow Fake AP Stylebook, shame on you. As a former journalism student, I got the joke instinctively. But it's not necessary knowledge. Basically, the real AP Stylebook is used by journalists to help standardize abbreviations and capitalization on political titles, when to use words like eager instead of anxious...the list goes on. The Fake AP Stylebook creates would-be entries on recent news trends. It's a scream.

It seems everybody knows to follow Steve Martin and Conan O'Brien. But do you read Kevin Nealon? His output is right up there, if not better. And if you respect and enjoy him on TV like I do, you'll enjoy the tweets of one Tom Bergeron. He's even funnier there than I could have guessed from his hosting gigs - and he's funny with a capital F doing those.