Weird Al-related question: Lamest claims to fame

Lame Claim to Fame isn’t the best track on “Weird Al” Yankovic’s No. 1 album Mandatory Fun, but it’s worth a listen, and the video entertains:

And now it’s stuck in my head. Whenever I think of some tenuous connection I have to a celebrity, I hear the song.

So here’s a quick brainstorm of my unimpressive third-hand connections to famous people:

– My mom interviewed Kim Basinger before she hit it big.

– My freshman roommate went to work in the record business and is thanked on the liner notes of a couple of Barenaked Ladies albums.

– My granddad met Christie Brinkley while she was visiting Florida for a swimsuit shoot.

– My mom’s roommate married Ted Turner. (No, not Jane Fonda.)

– I’ve interviewed David Beckham 1-on-1. (OK, so that’s actually kind of a big one.)

– Alex Morgan called me an idiot on Twitter. (Coincidentally, I stood three feet away from her on Wednesday night.)

– I caught a page of George Will’s speech when a gust of wind blew it away at Duke commencement.

– Colin Baker, the Sixth Doctor, once commented that my name was better than being named Bo Diddley.

– I checked into a hotel immediately after Gretchen Bleiler and talked about hotel amenities with her.

– I rode a ski lift with Sarah Hendrickson.

– I saw Bobby McFerrin perform before Don’t Worry Be Happy.

– Belly’s bass player told me not to wimp out and switch to acoustic guitar.

– I replaced Ben Folds as a percussionist with the Duke University Wind Symphony. I know that doesn’t make a lot of sense — Ben Folds didn’t go to Duke. (He actually went to Miami and studied percussion but didn’t graduate.) But he was recruited to go on the Wind Symphony’s Fall 1987 semester in Vienna. That was my freshman year, and I had no idea what the Wind Symphony was but got drafted into the group to play string bass. (Which ALSO makes no sense.) I stayed in when the Vienna group returned, then switched to percussion partway through my sophomore year.

I had no idea that this was the least bit significant at the time, of course. I just knew a couple of dudes in Wind Symphony kept telling everyone to go see Majosha play. Turns out that was Ben’s band pre-Ben Folds Five. I didn’t even realize Ben had gone on the Vienna trip until — today, when I asked Wind Symphony alumni about the tie between the Wind Symphony and Majosha.

My journalism career is cheating in a way. I’ve obviously met and spoken with many famous soccer players and MMA figures. I was once in a mob of people interviewing Clint Eastwood (jazz concert at Duke). I did a phone interview with guitar legend Richard Thompson. In the one Duke men’s basketball game I covered, I asked a question of Mike Krzyzewski in the postgame press conference and spoke briefly with Grant Hill. I was in a small group for a postgame interview with N.C. State women’s basketball coach Kay Yow. I’ve met a couple of TV people — Bob Ley, Ian Darke. And I’ve exchanged friendly texts with a couple of legit celebrities.

Anyone else have some good lame claims to fame?

Jason Biggs, Challenger and coping with tragedy through humor

You may have heard Jason Biggs, associated with either American Pie by people my age or Orange is the New Black by those a little younger, got in a bit of trouble for a tweet about the Malaysia Airlines downing.

Biggs joked, “Anyone wanna buy my Malaysian Airlines frequent flier miles?”

Bad taste? Compare with a punchline everyone of my generation knew:

Need Another Seven Astronauts.

Remember the joke? It was viral before “viral” was a big thing. We had no Internet, but this joke and many more somehow spread after the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger in 1986 killed seven astronauts, including teacher Christa McAuliffe.

That was how we coped. A sense of humor has long been our psychic defense against a tragedy we cannot prevent.

So what’s changed? Why is Biggs so vilified?

Is it because these jokes were always tasteless, and it’s only with today’s social media tools that the response can come so quickly? Or are we more sensitive these days.