Category Archives: Lists

9 Characters That Had to be Fat

When I’m reading a book or watching a movie I often wonder if the details of a character’s description or the peccadilloes he quietly busies himself with are necessary to who the character is. I feel like, on occasion, the particulars of a person can come off as a writer’s arbitrary decision, a superfluous exercise in making a them more interesting regardless of if it makes them more complete.

It’s with that question in mind that I came up with the following list, 9 characters from books and movies that had to be fat.

9. Sheldon Anapol, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay – The ignominious boss that turns the title characters’ creativity into a an endless pile of money and source of unhappiness doesn’t swell alongside his coffers as you might expect him to, but he struggles, physically and emotionally, against his own tendency towards excess right from theĀ  beginning. All those syllables aside, if he wasn’t always sweating from one thing or another, he wouldn’t have been Sheldon Anapol.

8. Uncle Buck, Uncle Buck – As a foil to the tightly wound center of a quiet suburban family choking on its own precepts, Uncle Buck needed to be larger than life in every way shape and form to break down a few walls and shake things loose. From his giant, mind-blowing pancakes, to his bulbous, chainsaw toting silhouette, he’s a necessarily swollen symbol of the idea that sometimes it’s much better to do before you think.

7. Jabba the Hutt, Star Wars – He or she (we really don’t know that it’s not an amorphous lesbian blob) had to be big to fit its name and role as the oozing arbiter of a hedonistic desert oasis. Plus the underlying chance that it would eat anyone that crossed it made it all the more terrifying and awesome.

6. Falstaff, Various Plays by Shakespeare – It wasn’t that Falstaff needed to be physically large to be the overindulgent, goofy, mistake-making, drunkard he was, but the fact that he was one of the first great ‘laugh with, laugh at’ characters informed the archetype for generations to come.

5. Tommy Callahan, Tommy Boy – Not only would the world not have the ‘fat guy in a little coat’ scene and therefore be that much poorer, but a whole slew of other scenes wouldn’t have ever existed. Just for fun, flip-flop the David Spade/Chris Farley roles for a second and imagine the movie. Case in point.

4. Eric Cartman, South Park – Cartman is, along with many other things, a social commentary on the ‘give them everything’ style of parenting that’s been producing a sub-generation of uber-brats across the country. He wouldn’t be an accurate commentary if that didn’t include letting him scarf down Cheesy Poofs and High-Fructose everything in between insulting his wonderfully obtuse and hilariously slutty Mom.

3. Oscar Wao, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao – Oscar’s weight does more than round out his typecast as a fantasy novel obsessed turbo-nerd, it serves at time as a barometer for his emotional condition, and it sets up the idea that much of life happens to us, making it that much better when Oscar happens to his life.

2. Chunk, Goonies – Chunk maybe could have just been a clumsy kid, an irresponsible clutz who gets left behind and befriends the gentle, abused giant chained in the house. But without the truffle shuffle or the fat camp story or the ice cream or the Baby Ruth or…wait, he couldn’t have been anything else but exactly what he was.

1. Ignatius J. Reilly, A Confederacy of Dunces – There is no main character in any form of fiction for whom appetites, both for food and self-satisfaction, are more important. And there is no character in a book or movie who ceases to exist in a more complete manner than Ignatius J. Reilly when you take away all those pounds. Hot dogs to you, Iggy, you wouldn’t have been the same without them.


April Fool’s

April O'Neil, Fools!

Every year my Grandmother tries to convince me my Mom is in the hospital in what has become an annual exercise in hilarious cruelty. Following in her footsteps, my Mom has started to try and zing me every year, but she usually tells me something impossible not to believe like, “I just ate breakfast (pause) no I didn’t, April Fool’s!”. In my mind that technique defeats the purpose of April Fool’s. The idea is to craft a story that might be otherwise unbelievable and get the gullible to travel down its road with you. Instead of continue an explanation, allow me to give you a few ideas for great April Fool’s jokes that illuminate my point.

1. Walk around all day with your hands behind your back like one of those old men that walks around with their hands behind their back for some reason until you finally cross paths with one of them. Pretend you are struggling then produce two, free hands and say, “I’ve broke the invisible shackles! AMISTAD!”

2. In the middle of the day, suddenly jump on all fours, run down the hallway of your place of employ barking like a dog and peeing on everything you see while ripping off your clothes and howling “Twwwiiiilllliiight.” Once you’ve got everyone’s attention, stand up and say, “April Fool’s, I’m actually a vampire.”

3. Talk in an Irish accent all day and convince everyone that you were hit in the head with a potato and it made you talk like that. At the end of the day, preferably nearby everyone you’ve told your story, have a hidden friend throw a potato at your head. When it hits you start talking normal again. Kill that friend to cover your tracks and never tell anyone anything.

4. Pick one of your friends who is married and pretend you hate them for an unexplained reason. Cut off communication for the next 5 years to the day, then show up wearing a t-shirt that says, “April Fool’s”. When they start to laugh, take that t-shirt off to reveal one beneath it that says “I slept with your wife.” Then take that one off and reveal one that says, “The 5 years of silence is unrelated”. Then give them a handshake.

5. Write a post on your blog, pretending it’s going to be a long list of funny stuff, then end it suddenly and without explanation.

Things I Learned in Miami

It’s impossible to go on a 10 day trek from the cold, icy delph of Phila to the sunny, bustling beaches of Miami without learning a thing or two. I, it just so happens, learned nine.

  1. I learned that in Miami, based on a mayoral decree, all DJs, radio stations, bars, cabs, convenience stores, inconvenience stores, street corners and boombox lugging hobos are contractually obligated to play this song at least once an hour, on the hour:
  2. I learned that, surprisingly, no cab drivers know how you can get to Cuba in the middle of the night and the Cuban ones may inspect to see if you are wearing a wire before dropping you off in Little Havana.
  3. I learned that Little Havana is exactly as adorable as it sounds, and is not a neighborhood, but is actually a scaled down representation of all of Havana, small enough to fit inside a city block, complete with lego-sizedĀ  Cubans selling thumbtack Mojitos on street corners and dancing evocatively to the tiny tunes being played by miniature mariachis.
  4. I learned that, despite what we are all told as children, there is no such thing as too much of a good thing. Except maybe that phrase, because of it’s inaccuracy.
  5. I learned that text messages rise in hilarity between the hours of 9-1 before a precipitous crash between 1-3, only to then become more hilarious than ever around 4.
  6. I learned that I actually like cab drivers. For a long time I wrote them off entirely based simply on their trade, like cobblers, but after talking to a few of the funniest taxi-men around, about everything from Lady Gaga to Big Foot to their opinion of break dancing and their fear of robots*, I have a new appreciation for them. Perhaps it’s time to give cobblers a second chance too.
  7. I learned that among the droves of revelers at any once-in-a-life kind of party, there will always be a few forecasters of apocalyptic doom at the hands of a vengeful god, and that these people love when you try and high-five them.
  8. I learned that it is always a good idea to look through everyone’s cameras the morning after a party like in that movie The Hangover. Not only is it a funny way to recount the night, but it’s a great way to figure out ridiculous things you didn’t do so you can properly plan for the night ahead.
  9. I learned that letting your friend write your phone number as well as your blog address on the chalkboard bar-top at Lost Weekends is a great idea if you like cryptic random phone calls and text messages from strangers at odd hours, which I, of course, do**.

*These are all actual conversations I had with cab drivers in Miami, some of which I recorded and will be up here soon for you to enjoy.

**If you read this because you wrote down the address from the bar-top I’m talking about, please go back and erase it.