Episode 153: "Strings and Levees and Pulleys"

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February 7, 2014


Nicole Byer

Origin of the episode title[edit]

This is what's on the waterproof jacket that Elie Weisel is wearing at the end of "Night"/that woman was wearing at the end of "The Biggest Loser."


R.I.P Jay Leno! Now our healing can begin.

This week's HWYW features some brand new complaints about Los Angeles! But it's okay because the delightful NICOLE BYER is here to regale us with tales of her working for Lane Bryant, witnessing a bottomless nugget of a man in a completely inappropriate setting, and what her sister exclaims when Nicole's one short leg gets in the way of her journey.

Plus! What to do for a twitchy eyeball! Lights that shut off on their own accord! The time NBC actually killed a woman! And the cost of being able to talk to people who read.

A wonderful pre-Valentine's Day treat!


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Episode Link


These are people who sent money through Paypal to klausnerama@gmail.com to help keep the show ad-free.

Monologue Transcript[edit]

Transcription by Amy

Hello everyone, it’s Julie Klausner back for another episode of HWYW. It’s Friday here in Los Angeles. It’s Friday at 10 which means if you are on the east coast waiting for the podcast, I’m sorry; it’s a little late today. I had a late night. We were taping a show of the great Jon Mulaney Program that I am fortunate enough to work with, for, by and about. I also had to watch the last Jay Leno Tonight Show and schedule enough time for me to grieve before bed. It is just really hard to believe that he’s dead. He just seemed like a guy that was so full of life. Every day there was something new with Jay Leno. You never knew what to expect, even personality wise I read that he was so spontaneous. He would eat something different for lunch every day. Yeah, he liked Sears but would he wear the same thing from Sears every day? No. He would wear different shades of denim shirts, denim slacks, good old Wrangler or Lee. I think I am going to… I don’t know if I am going to keep it together when Mavis has to auction off all of those old cars. It is really hard to believe that he’s gone. The way he died…I know NBC, ever since their primetime ratings have tanked. I know you’re thinking Julie’s talking about ratings but I am in the biz. I am in the belly of the biz. I am in the biz.

As you know NBC is not doing well since they cancelled Veronica’s Closet. Their only means of survival in the last three years or so has been that NBC has transitioned to an organization that televises the murder of people. Jay Leno was just the latest in that endeavor. I do know that this week a high profile NBC murder was televised in the form of the woman who won The Biggest Loser. Holy shit did you see the woman that won The Biggest Loser? She makes Fiona Apple look zaftig. She’s not well. This woman is about to die. Just look at the arms, that’s all you have to do. Look at the arms and then call your local congressman and say NBC is murdering people. “How are they murdering people Ma’am?” It’s a long con. They audition crazies to be on a reality show. “What kind of crazies Ma’am?” In this case they are heavy people who want to be healthy and lose weight. “I am listening Ma’am, continue.” By the way the LAPD, I don’t think they are very good at their jobs. Remember when I told you that Woliner was held up a few weeks ago? He had an app on his phone. So he knew exactly where the guys who took his phone were. The cops thought it was interesting. He asked do you want to go in and you know. Well that would be a raid and it would be dangerous. You’re the cops. Ugh.

NBC recruited people to lose weight on television by means of Jillian Michaels screaming at them. It is my worst nightmare to be trapped in any situation with her, even socially at a party. Forget about the desert island scenario. If I was at a party and the person who brought me there walked away after introducing me and I had to chat with her for however long it took me to escape to the kitchen to get something to nosh on outside of the judgment of her steely gaze, I would kill myself. I would rather kill myself than feel like Jillian Michaels is paying attention to me.

So they found people that wanted to lose weight on television as doctors recommend. The woman who lost the most weight came out looking like the last pages of Elie Wiesel’s Night only in Lululemon. I know that Night doesn’t end with Elie Wiesel looking at himself in the mirror wearing a scoop neck tank and some sort of waterproof jacket with strings, levees and pulleys on it. But shouldn’t it? It was the most upsetting thing I have seen all week. Then they shot Jay Leno in the face last night after he presented a montage of well wishes from celebrities. Jay Leno’s celebrities are different from any other goodbye reel you’d see from anybody else. When Conan went to the Tonight show there were bits where you’d see stuff he’d do with Tina and Amy and Will Ferrell. In this little clip montage portion of the evening Jay Leno got heartfelt and funny goodbyes from Bob Costa. I know Bill Maher did something that was actually funny and I thought this was the most clever moment of the half hour. Then Billy Crystal came out and monkeyed it up. He wore a woman’s blush, a shade of blush that is very popular, nars orgasm. Kim Kardashian was there. Miley Cyrus had a …who cares?

When I see this, I don’t want to say I want to move to Canada because no offense Canada but I don’t want to move to Canada. I am already softened by this weather and politeness makes me feel like I am doing something wrong. Sometimes I feel like I don’t belong. I certainly have been feeling it this week. My New Yorkiness has been surfacing and I feel like look guys I don’t want to mess around here, I’m an outsider. That’s who I am/. That’s how I get my gritty perspective on all of the funny things that I say. I don’t fit in with Melissa and Mark normal.

Why didn’t Dennis Miller say goodbye to Jay Leno? Oh, that’s right he was the executioner. He wore a bag on his head but you could tell it was him because of his body. He just held Jay Leno still while Bob Greenblatt came over and shot him in the face. It was a dignified death. Look, there are worse ways to go. With Conan he just ran away from the shooting squad. Is it the shooting squad, execution? How are people killed legally?

For example The Biggest Loser lady, people here think she’s fine. She looks great. She’s better than before. More women are considered old out here than I have ever, ever, ever, ever,ever,ever,ever lent thought. What can I say? If you are overweight or old, which is very subjective, or if you are not symmetrical physically as a woman you are human garbage therefore disposable.

With all of LA’s conservation efforts and their recycle this and plastic bag that there is no more reckless attitude toward waste disposal when it comes to a fellow human being. Any attitude of resources are precious is completely eliminated when it comes to the notion of can’t we find a prettier girl? How many people would want this job? A million. How many would be qualified? Half a million, so maybe take Cold Canyon home because I am sending you home and I am also giving you directions. I don’t know LA. I don’t mean to pee on you but it’s weird out here.

I had dinner with my parents. They were in town visiting. They were staying at a beautiful hotel, the service staff was more ingratiating and obsequious than I have ever experienced in any dining or hospitality context. I was uncomfortable. It is prostitution culture. I went to dinner with them and a woman gave us menus. She said, “How are you tonight?” “I am great. How are you doing?” “Well I’m a lot better now that you are here.” I am not a negative person. I am not a positive person, but I’m not Andy Rooney in a flattering maxi-dress but stuff like that makes me want to hide in a frozen puddle on the corner of 42nd Street and Broadway.

To all of my New York City listeners I miss you. I am sorry for abandoning you however temporarily. If Jimmy Jazz is listening Renate please take the cat away from the speakers because Jimmy does not need to be exposed to the notion that Mommy has abandoned him. That is not the story. That is not the narrative. Jimmy, the narrative, if you remember, is that mommy had to go to a weird place for 3 month and Jimmy would not be happy out here because mommy is at work all day. Jimmy would hate a plane and therefore when Mommy returns it would be like she never left. Hi guys. I am so sorry you had to deal with the weather this week. I spoke to Nate who confirmed that it was the worst combination of factors-cold, humid, and wet, like Gwyneth Paltrow’s pussy. I know from Instagram and Gothamist and Gawker that people were just steeping into giant puddles of frozen slush on their way to work. Subways were closed and the ones that were open were just packed with wet people in winter coats. Winter coats do not sog in a pleasing manner. There’s no boot that can withstand the amount of puddle exposure that has become necessary. In New York the storm, with de Blasio, I have to say people thought it was a coincidence that I left New York when it was Bill de Blasio’s transition. It was. But am I glad that I am not experiencing his first winter firsthand? You know it.

I am concerned about de Blasio. I am concerned that he is a man who New York City weather looks on and just (laughter and dismissal sounds) anyway what were we talking about? He is just not a formidable…wasn’t he not plowing the Upper East Side? Let’s think about that particular brand of shade that DeBlasio is throwing. Do you know what would be really funny? If we didn’t plow the Upper East Side. Just fuck those people right? His administration—Yeah…Oh, wow. Have you seen the new David Byrne? “Do you mean Here Lies Love?” Do you want to see it again? “Yeah.” Bill de Blasio makes me nervous. His earlobes are too meaty.

This is what you need to do to know if a woman is anorexic, you look at her arms. This is what you need to do to a man to know whether having sex with him would be too disgusting because of his age; you just look at his earlobes. If they are meaty and they have too much length, get out of there. Get out of there! Are his balls going to be better? They are going to be worse.

A couple of things happened this week. It was the one year anniversary of our friend David Ozanich passing away. In a way it was like a year ago and in a way it was like the other day. I miss him and I am sad to be out in LA without knowing he is here or will be here soon. He grew up in the valley. I never got to spend any time with him on the west coast and I regret that. If you want to get to know David Ozanich please look in the archives of the podcast. Around a year ago we released an interview with him. He talked about Karen Black who was somebody that he really adored. When she passed away shortly after he did I thought about whatever version I either believe in or at least have some kind of coloring book picture notion of in my head, and I hope that those two got a good booth and have good waitress service so that they could catch up over the appropriate amount of cocktails being rotated in and out. When Phillip Seymour Hoffman died this week I also added him to that Where’s Waldo-like montage I imagine heaven might look like. I guess I don’t believe in Heaven. I do believe in certain spiritual structures, notions that are less tangible.

If there were a Heaven and Philip Seymour Hoffman made it up there I just thought about Ozanich seeing him around and thinking, oh god, this is like when I used to see him around in the West Village. What is he doing here? Phillip Seymour Hoffman to me will always be the embodiment of all of the people we can all be, that we all have inside of us. The awkwards, the itchies, the angries, the people that we are that believe that our needs, our wants, our sexualities are disgusting—the people that have contempt for their own needs, the people who are desparate and who can’t hold it in anymore, the people who are beautifully spoken and intelligent but can’t understand how to pass socially so that people don’t know that they are different. His role in Magnolia, Phil Parma, was, to me, the most pure expression of compassion. Just raw unprocessed—oh god, I have been in LA too long, just compassion at its quivering vulnerable essence. If you do want to go back and look at his work—I don’t think I am able to do that right now. I don’t want to have a Philip Seymour Hoffman film festival, it seems very raw. Raw, unfiltered and vegan. If you do I strongly recommend that you don’t watch Schenectady, NY over and over again Jason Woliner but you return to Magnolia and watch Phil Parma as he listens to Jason Robards. What a loss, what a loss in our generation of the best actor I can remember watching.

The other thing was the Woody Allen stuff which emerged the day after I recorded last week’s podcast. I have been pretty vocal on twitter and have talked about Woody in the past on this show. Frankly I think he should have been inter-personally exiled. Just don’t do his movies after he left Mia for Soon-yi that was unacceptable to me. No, no, no, no, you don’t do that. That happened when I was in college. I went to college in NYC and all of the tabloids went insane. God bless them. That was around the same time as the Monica Lewinsky stuff and I remember bearing witness at an important phase in my life as far as realizing how women and men deal with power differently and basically how shitty men can be, while I was coming into my own and starting to and hoping to date. I remember the Mia Farrow/Woody Allen stuff; I couldn’t even imagine what it would have been like to be her. The Dylan Farrow stuff, how on earth are you going to go on record and say I don’t believe her, she’s probably lying?

I am of the notion, consistently, whether it has to do with child abuse, whether it has to do with any kind of sexual assault, rape of a woman, a child, an adult—I always start out believing the victim. I always, always, always presume the woman is innocent. That’s how I roll. I thought the article that Bob Weide wrote on Daily Beast was probably the most disgusting way for someone to spend their time if they are not molesting a little girl. Bob Weide wrote an article on the Daily Beast and the headline was Not So Fast. Two people in my social network, one on Facebook and one on twitter, posted that article and I unfriended them immediately. It’s one thing to not believe Woody Allen it’s another to go on record and say here’s why she’s lying and to pep per that piece with disgusting cutesy-pie jokes, fuck you! What does this have to do with anything? Then he went on to say let me debunk a few misconceptions before I go on and put all of my muscle into assassinating the character of at least two of the casualties of Woody’s life.

One was Soon-yi is not mentally retarded. Whoa! Really, ok? As you were. The most condescending thing in this article is he said that Dylan accused Woody of taking her into a room and then he wrote, “Shall we say touching her inappropriately.” The ‘shall we say’ set me off. Anyway, I wish Dylan Farrow peace and happiness. I think what she is doing is really brave. That’s my statement on the Woody Allen thing. It never occurred to me that Soon-yi might be mentally retarded.

American Apparel has a woman who is over 50 in one of their underpants ads. Everyone is making a big deal about how cool that is and that beauty exists at any age.—eeew. Let’s remember what we are talking about everyone. You are basically saying even old ladies can be sexually objectified by creepy creeps. Don’t give into this stuff, ladies, come on, watch you feminism. Remember how easily it’s manipulated. “But I have a different opinion about that.” You shouldn’t.

The Olympics are happening which is disgusting. Every year I get upset that TV just becomes sports. I am especially enraged because there is some sort of toilet situation in Russia, and on top of that they also execute gay people. Of all the fucking things, winter sports, a place that sent those nice ladies Pussy Riot to jail, am I wrong? Then they hate gay people? They hate gay people and they like winter sports? What the fuck is this some sort of bizarre land of everything I hate?

I have a twitch in my right eye that I have developed since I go to Los Angeles. I don’t know exactly when but it has only been here since I moved to LA and it is annoying and disconcerting to the extent that I took it upon myself to look it up and WebMD claims that it is likely harmless but it could be Bell’s Palsy. That’s something I put on an index card and then take a pushpin and put on the mental bulletin board in the front of the bus. My brain is a bus by the way and there is a nice bulletin board above the driver’s seat. There’s a bus driver right? Listen, I have a twitchy right eye, just the lid, it goes (twitchy noise sound) It’s hard to notice unless you are looking for it. When I look in the mirror I see my eyelashes going (twitchy noise sound) involuntarily. It is weird. I switched out my caffeinated drinks yesterday and it was a little bit better.

My pal Dan Levy who I write with, who is a good man and thorough mentioned that he had the same thing and he got Botox for it. I want Botox. I am not planning on getting addicted to Botox. All I needed to hear was Botox, and I thought yes that’s the solution! Clearly that is the only solution for this eye twitch I have decided is unmanageable. I am excited about getting Botox in my eyeball or very close to it. Do they hold the tiny eyelid skin out and then inject it? How do people who have tattoos on their eyelids, I know they are all prisons, but I guess they have to close their eyes while they are getting it. Is your eyeball being tattooed as well? Let’s think about this. Are eyelid tattoos still a thing? I guess people still get permanent make-up tattoos, which is a beautiful way of communicating with your body and therefore nature.

When ladies close their eyelids in 80s movies and it says I Love You on their eyelids? I know it is not a tattoo; it’s probably just a plain Bic pen. It has to be weird to write on your eyelids. I wonder if when your eyes are close and you are putting pressure on your eyelids whether your eyes start seeing; I wonder what you are seeing. I am going to get Botox on my eye. I can’t wait. I am going to ask for the full Kidman.

I want to complain about the lights in rooms out here that automatically shut off after a half an hour. It is not ok. I get that California really likes conserving energy and resources. God bless them for being environmentally conscious, however, when I turn a light and then am not moving around in the room constantly like some sort of maniac, I like to know that the light isn’t going to shut off when it feels like it. This especially happens in my office. Here’s what I do in my office when I am not sitting at the desk, I lie down on the floor. I have a yoga mat. Do I do yoga on it? Absolutely not, I lie down on it. I have a foam roller, a couple of bricks. Not bricks that you throw through someone’s window with a note tapes to them, they are foam blocks. I lie on the floor and give my back, neck and shoulders a little break. When I am on the floor the lights go out because they don’t think there is a person in the room moving around because that’s the only way these lights stay on. This happens in my bathroom also when I take a bath. I am lying in the bathtub and all of a sudden I hear ‘click’. It goes dark. What the fuck guys? Is there some way to shut that off? Do I need to bring pencils with me everywhere so I can throw pencils in the air? Will the lights react to the pencils? I don’t know. At least it will be fun to have a thing. I’ll be the throwing pencils lady. I ordered bras from Amazon which was really fun. I needed some new bras. Since I have been out here I have been uncomfortable in the bra-wers I am wearing. So I ordered a couple more brawers. The great thing is I ordered them to be delivered at my office. One day one of the nice people I work with said, “Julie you have a package. It’s in your office.” I go into my office and there’s this box that says on the return address Bra-wers, or Better Bra-wers, Button Bra-wers or whatever it was. This is very funny. I got three bra-wers delivered to me at work. This must be what it is like to be the female president.

I want to send more compassion to New York as far as their weather is concerned. I have been vicariously weighing the pros and cons of living somewhere that is so expensive and so brutal, and the weather is so punishing. Is it worth being able to talk to somebody who doesn’t know who Leighton Meester is? That is the eternal New York City conflict. Is it worth suffering through the weather and the cost of living in order to be able to have friends that read? It is really tough. I don’t know the answer. Right now I think it is but I am not the one stepping into frozen puddles.

Did you guys like the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Bruno Mars at the Super Bowl? Did you watch the Super Ball? Did the Super Ball winners make you happy that they had won the Super Ball? The Red Hot Chili Peppers were very topless. They were doing that thing where their torsos are slowly getting shorter like Tom Cruise in Rock of Ages where they had to make him arch his back in every scene because otherwise he just looked like a short torso character with long, long legs like R. Crumb had drawn him when he was tripping on acid. I thought Bruno mars was great. I think he’s a showman. Do I like his music? What are you insane? But I think he is terrific. He is very good at what he does. He’s a little package; he’s a cute little package. Congratulations once again to the Pepas for doing that thing that they do.

Jay Leno is dead, I covered that. I didn’t really deal with it, but I have covered it. At the end of the celebrity montage when celebrities were wishing him well and it was Jimmy Fallon and he gave the most sincere, it didn’t even have a joke in it—Thank you, I can’t wait to make you proud. Why the fuck am I watching this? At a certain point with men inheriting institutions just, just, just make these men literally jerking themselves off. Then there would be hand jobs on TV which everybody wants and it would be more literal. Cut to the chase, jerk each other off.

I saw a great documentary called The Act of Killing with Jason Woliner who paused Schenectady, New York for enough time for us to watch a documentary about war criminals that reenact some of their most horrendous crimes. They film and stage them themselves. That was a really good movie. It was very upsetting. I wonder if there’s something wrong with me. Do I get upset when I hear of people being murdered? I do, but unless they are being killed in front of someone they love I have a hard time, I don’t want to say empathizing…but when I hear about rapes I got unspeakably…it’s almost like hearing someone was abusive to an animal or a child. That I can’t handle.

So when these war criminals were talking about all of the people they killed, that they strangled with wires so there wouldn’t be blood, I thought this is horrible. When they talked about raping girls, I thought it was more upsetting than I could handle. Is there something wrong with me that I think rape is more upsetting than murder? This is a fun party conversation. You should bring this to your…what’s the next get together in America now that the Super Bowl is over-Valentine’s Day. Maybe? Someone? Anyone? That’s something that occurred to me.

I am very grateful for the people that wrote in with hot tips for Hotlips. That’s what we are going to call our new tip Spoony initiative. Spoony as you know is the fathair of a daughtair, who is a beautiful daughtair. Her name is Nico. Ryan Hotlips Houlian is our producair, editair—he does everything. He works harder than everyone in Los Angeles on a totem pole of some kind. They are all combined. Wouldn’t it be nice if they were combined in a symmetrical way? They don’t have to be. Tip Spoony please on paypal.com… It’s time for the show. We have one guest because...