Sunday, January 21, 2007

webstalking that guy who pissed you off thirty years ago

UPDATE: Turns out the site was a hoax created be Weiner himself. Silly me.

When I first started reading the National Lampoon in the mid or late 70s, my favorite writer there was Ellis Weiner. It wasn't because he was the funniest writer; he was one of the funniest writers, but they were all pretty funny.

No, I liked Ellis because he was the only writer who had a real sense for people. I think the first thing I read from him was the Shear Hype Report, a take off of the Shere Hite Report, a book in which a woman simply asked hundreds of women about sex and printed what they said. Just as in the original book, there's a lot of talk about how women wish guys would cuddle more and be nicer, but at the end of the Shear Hype Report, the author admits that she just made up all the answers to get her boyfriend to cuddle with her. And even though this is only a paragraph or two, you actually feel for the author; it's just kind of sad.

Weiner's characters seemed to actually have feelings, unlike other writers like P.J. O'Rourke, who was brilliantly funny but whose articles were always just rather callous jokes strung together. It is interesting to note that P.J. O'Rourke, who as a writer had no sense of humanity, later became a right-wing writer, whereas Ellis, who always seemed to have real feeling for people, now blogs for the liberal Huffington Post.

I didn't actually know this until yesterday, when Weiner popped into my head and I wondered what he'd been doing. I haven't read anything by him since his novelization of Howard the Duck, a book every bit as funny as Douglas Adam's Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy that had the misfortune to be based on a movie that is considered one of the all-time film turkeys.

Turns out he's been busy, writing books and articles, and I should probably track down one of his books and read it. But what really got my attention in my search was The Unofficial Website of Ellis Weiner (UPDATE: at some point after I wrote this Weiner apparently got control of the site), because it is run by someone who seems to have a sick hatred and fascination for the guy.

The webmaster is an assistant professor at some college I've never heard of, but from the F.A.Q. and the bio of Ellis it seems that at one point he was an aspiring satirist who had some sort of dealings with Weiner, who was a submissions editor at the National Lampoon.

And so he has created a website, that on the front has a note from Weiner saying that his lawyers tell him he can't do anything about the site but that he isn't happy with it. He lists some of Weiner's books, which he puts down and in at least one case chops up reviews to make them sound more negative (i.e. “Breezy, often funny…there’s some…writing…”).

The question is, does the professor realize how nuts this is. He's going after a guy who I guess (there are no specifics on the site) rejected his stuff or criticized it too much 30 years ago. The site might as well be called, "I am a bitter, possibly insane guy convinced that a single editor somehow managed to destroy my writing career." I mean come on, even if Weiner was, as suggested by the professor, a mean bastard, he was just one guy at one magazine. No editor owes a writer a boost up, you're actually supposed to go after what you want and prove yourself.

You'd think the guy would at least try and prove that he's funny; you know, mock Weiner in a clever way that proves to everyone that yes, this guy would have made a great satirist and it's a shame he was struck down by Weiner's cruelty. But nope, there's no indication this guy is funny.

It all reminds me of a biography of David Bowie I read once by some guy with a peripheral connection to the singer who clearly hated him with a passion and spent the whole book trashing him. It just makes you look pathetic to attack and whine about people who have accomplished much more in life than you have.

Still, I love seeing people nakedly and unconsciously expose themselves, so I wanted to share the site with others who would appreciate its pathetic nature. And make sure to read Howard the Duck and Weiner's Dune parody Doon. Hilarious stuff.


  1. Judging from the writing style, I would say that the whole site is a pisstake done by Weiner himself.

  2. My guess is the above comment is from the guy who runs "Pisstake" sounds like something he would think is funny.