Lists for an Anniversary

balloon love

Photo courtesy of raspberrytart on Flickr

Come Monday, Zoe Says turns three! Wheee! August 8, 2008 was the inception of my storytelling via weblog and it’s been a heck of a ride. I began with the intention of seeing if I could blog for a year and the fact that it’s been three and I’m still going strong gives me such a feeling of accomplishment. Thanks to all who have been with me and enjoy reading what comes from my head and heart.

I don’t know if I have spoken very much about my love for lists and stats but I have a secret passion for them. For a creative person, I am “right-brained” enough to have a hard love for numbers. (Or is it left-brained? Anybody know?) I’m not saying I like to solve mathematical equations or anything à la Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting, but I enjoy working with numbers/figures as they pertain to money, and statistics as they pertain to blog/website hits.

I don’t have any stats for you today but for those readers who have just recently (and very kindly) subscribed to this petite blog, I decided to put together two “Top Ten” lists. One is very simple and lays out the top blog posts that have gotten the most reads. The second is a batch of my personal favorites. This way, you can catch up if you want over the weekend or just marvel along. It’s kind of cool to note what the public prefers over what my favorites are. Here we go!

Top Ten Twelve Zoe Says posts of all time based on pure stats:

  1. The Obligatory Courtesy Smile (by far – not even a competition)
  2. May: the month of a gazillion birthdays
  3. Let’s focus on what’s important: Britney’s comeback (This one has stayed strong and steady since 2009! The power of Britney.)
  4. Baker’s Dozen: We Know It’s the Holiday Season Because… (My very first Freshly Pressed post!)
  5. Sebastian Maniscalco: stand-up comedian, funny, Italian, metrosexual  (I have no idea what’s going on but this dude is POPULAR. People search for this guy DAILY and find this post.)
  6. The Acceptable Man-Purse: a.k.a. The Messenger Bag  (I get so many searches that end up hitting this post.)
  7. Literally, the most misused word
  8. My one-time experience at the Bloomingdale’s makeup floor
  9. Bottom line, these are awesome  (One of my personal favorites so I love that it has gotten all the way up to the top!)
  10. My Very Personal Relationship with HGTV (This one is in the top merely because another article has a link back to this and people flooded my page once reading about my thing for House Hunters and Mike Holmes.)
  11. Minty the Candy Cane – Obsessed! (Warning: the theme song will get stuck in your head!)
  12. Total Rant: to the people at Xerox who make my copier/printer/scanner/fax machine (People love reading a good old-fashioned rant and this one is no exception. I think it has to do mostly with the photo I put up from Office Space.)

Zoe Says a few of her favorite posts from the past three years in no particular order because she loves them equally:

  1. The Psychology of Tuesday
  2. Those Three Little Words
  3. VERBOTEN! Day 2
  4. Kringley, Jingley, Cookies and Trees, Gluttony, Family Gatherings and Obligatory Gifts: sounds like Christmas!
  5. Onions? Or…B.O.?
  6. If you don’t know what Tremors is, you’re insulting Kevin Bacon
  7. Please Reheat Responsibly
  8. My Stereotypically Midwestern Yet All-American, Comprehensive & Inappropriate Relationship with Ranch Dressing
  9. Signs I’m Over 30
  10. Sick Pen Obsession
  11. My primal, Sunday baking urge
  12. No. You didn’t SEEN anything.

Sebastian Maniscalco: stand-up comedian, Italian, funny, metrosexual

On the occasions when I need a break from work but have to remain at my desk, I go on to YouTube to browse any new comedy videos that a fellow comedian fanatic might have put up. Lately I’ve had a real affinity for watching two comedians from the Axis of Evil comedy tour,  those being Ahmed Ahmed and Dean Obeidallah. Seriously funny stuff. (Check ’em out!)

About a month ago, I was at home watching a standup comedy marathon on Comedy Central and I happened to catch a half hour special by Sebastian Maniscalco. I laughed loudly and heartily and had a feeling he was a strong up-and-comer. I didn’t know at that time that he was one of the comedians chosen by Vince Vaughn to participate in Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Comedy Tour. That’s going on the Must Rent list. And so, on one of the days that I needed a laugh break, I looked up some new clips of Sebastian on YouTube. The video clips posted were so funny that I went onto his website and dropped twenty fat ones to get his DVD.

It arrived via snail mail a week or so later, a handwritten return address on the top left corner (my post office is a convenient 15 blocks down the street from me – a real treat), and I watched it immediately. It’s only an hour long but it’s very well done, and much to my delight and surprise, his performance takes place in St. Louis! He’s originally from Chicago, so it sort of makes sense, but still. What’s up homies from the Lou?

The Arch in all its shining glory

The Arch in all its shining glory

But anyway. Sebastian’s persona is that of a macho, Chicago-accented Italian pretty boy. He comes off very close to New Yorkish but you can’t mistake his Midwestern accent. He’s very clean-cut and presents himself well; which he jokes about later when he talks about people who are slobbish when going to places like the grocery store (people like me who “roll out of bed and then [they’re] in the fruit section”). He prefers to scrub himself down thoroughly and put on six sprays of cologne, style his hair and then he’s ready to hit the food store.*

One of Sebastian’s strengths is that while he has the occasional dirty joke, he doesn’t saturate his material with them. I personally find that if a stand-up comedian can be hilarious without always resorting to talking about men and women and sex, s/he can consider him or herself successful. (Let me just insert that I am biased and think men make better stand-up comedians than women. I know, I know. It’s completely going against my own sex but I really do think men are funnier when it comes to this profession. However, people like Ellen Degeneres and Bonnie Mc Farlane give the guys a run.) Sebastian inserts the occasional nuts joke but nothing cringeworthy. Big kudos to you, Sebastian!

Speaking of Kudos, there’s a joke about Kudos snack bars in his act at the grocery store. Can’t miss it.

I watched the DVD on my own and then went over to my girlfriend’s apartment to watch it all over again while we munched on Mexican takeout. The second viewing solidified my decision to write a raving post about the guy. I don’t know if it’s because he’s Midwestern or not but I like that he’s not quite up to speed on all things technological. He refers to “new features” of cell phones like texting and accidentally activating the Web browser for his cell phone material. He then proceeds to compare the people at the gym who have all their music on their “Pods” (on the bicep, no less) to himself, who still wears a portable CD player on his waist. I mean seriously, how old school can you get? But the self-deprecating jokes are fantastic, even if there only a few.

One of Sebastians classic facial expressions.

One of Sebastian's classic facial expressions.

By far one of his best jokes is his “downtown Beirut” joke, referring to a cheap store relative to whatever city he’s in, this one being TJ Maxx. In this instance he is dead-on-balls accurate, since in St. Louis, TJ Maxx is absolutely a nightmare. It’s right up there with Marshall’s. Nothing is where it’s supposed to be, everything’s a mess and chances are, you’re saving money because whatever you’re buying is damaged, or as he refers to it, “irregular.”

Sebastian’s delivery is full of fantastic facial expressions, some physical humor (including the Beirut joke) and lots of sarcasm.

I won’t ruin all of the jokes for everyone but the material flows nicely from one joke to another, and he ends with one of his strongest, that being about Today’s Man. Hints: apple martinis, frappuccinos, flip flop sandals. See the YouTube clip at the end!

I rated his DVD “Going Up” (no idea where that comes from, unless he’s referring to his climbing the stardom ladder) four stars out of five, which is pretty high up there in my lowly opinion. I’m not a stand-up expert but I do consider myself an amateur connoisseur since paradise for me would  be a stand-up comedy marathon sprawled on comfy furniture with good friends and good drinks. I frequently seek out stand-up on my movie channels and Comedy Central, I love the show Last Comic Standing to see new faces and new material and I have even written my own jokes on the side, never to see the light of day.** I love going to comedy clubs but since it can be a pricey adventure, I don’t go very often. I’m content to stay home and laugh my boisterous laugh in the privacy of my home.

As to the “wrap the gift” joke that I refer to in the headline, I will leave that to you to find out on your own. It’s great advice and hilariously delivered.

See him. Decide for yourself. Support one of the next famous faces of comedy. Embrace the mirth. Since my YouTube clips keep getting pulled, go look for a current one to tantalize your funny bone.

*The phrase “food store” is something I had never heard of in my life before I moved to New York and dated a New Yorker. I even Googled search terms looking for it and if Google can’t come up with any relevant information for this phrase, pretty sure hardly anyone uses it except for said ex-boyfriend and his family. Oh and my friend Jim once used it. Maybe now it will catch on. I just say grocery store like most people.

**Note about me: I have incredible stage fright and while I can crack myself up at my own jokes, I would never be ballsy enough to actually perform them.