So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, goodbye

My goodness, what a long, strange trip it’s been. I may have had to fall off the blog lately (work and lots of overseas travel sucked up my time), but you people have been a huge part of my life for almost four and a half years now — unbelievable!

So how, I thought to myself, can I possibly come up with anything like a coherent post with which to say goodbye? Answer: I can only go back to the beginning (well, sort of). I’d been watching the show since the debut episode, when I busted out laughing at the over-the-top credits and didn’t stop until the end. But you know how it goes with Stephen: you find the show, you love it, you watch it religiously, and after a while you drive your friends nuts with the constant references. (To paraphrase Sarah Vowell — you know that Kevin Bacon game? Well, I was like that with The Colbert Report; talking to me on any subject would invariably lead back to him before long.) And then you get tickets to the show, you meet Stephen, and the real whirlwind begins!

I’ve been lucky enough to attend a number of shows, and I’ve seen highlights I still can’t believe I got to experience live. The original “Singin’ in Korean“? Yep, saw it in the studio! The “Midterm Midtacular” in 2006, when the Democrats took Congress? I was there! On the day he interviewed “Coach K” (Mike Krzyzewski), you can see him pointing to someone in the audience and saying, “Hey — nice to see you!” as he runs over to the interview table. That someone was me! (I’d seen him earlier in the day at a DonorsChoose event). I got to see — and sometimes meet — Stephen at any number of other events: the I Am America signing with Tim Russert, the New York Times Talk he did, the To Kill a Mockingbird book club … good Lord, how did I get this lucky? And best of all, Stephen has been an unfailingly courteous and generous gentleman every single time I got to attend one of his events.

So how does a person pick a favorite? She goes back to the first show she saw live, also the first time she met Stephen, back in 2006. Elephant vasectomies were on the script, David Kuo was the guest, and Stephen brought out his Lord of the Rings toys to dramatize a Rick Santorum statement.

I’d gotten there early and ended up with a fabulous seat in the front row, right in front of Stephen’s desk and with “Killer” crouched at my feet. The Q&A covered The Dana Carvey Show and had Stephen basically acting out a sketch about Eurotrash bands from the unaired episode; he described his Flock of Seagulls hairdo and detailed how they had actually shaped the hair into cereal bowls on top of their heads, containing real cereal and milk. He sang several verses of the song his band had done and followed it with a bit from one of the skit’s other bands (that one was supposed to have been sung by a milkmaid, IIRC). As we all cracked up, Stephen, half-laughing himself, railed at us, “Where were all of you ten years ago?!? I had a baby!”

The show itself was awesome, The WØRD (“Sherlock“) was great, and I was fascinated watching the Stephen-staff interactions during the commercial breaks. My favorite part of the show, however, was the close. Stephen addressed some Santorum comments [drawing an analogy between the war in Iraq and The Lord of the Rings] and brought out his LOtR toys to bring them to life. It wasn’t aired, but he continued to play with the toys after the broadcast went to credits, adding what appeared to be a Gandalf, possibly a Saruman (or perhaps Gandalf the White, I couldn’t quite see), and what I think was either an Aragorn or a Faramir to the mix. So cute!

After the show as I was killing time while awaiting my bus, Stephen came out of the studio, walking towards me and my cohorts and saying, “Ladies.” I introduced myself, and as we shook hands, I asked him whether he could pass along my compliments to his writers, which he readily agreed to do. I mentioned that I had gone to the same high school as one of his writers and we made small talk while he signed my copy of Wigfield and my Season 3 Strangers with Candy DVDs. I mention that it was the Season 3 DVDs because that set has a shot of Paul Dinello in his Speedo on the DVD cover, which led to possibly the most hilariously wonderful exchange imaginable: Stephen started talking about what an unbelievable body Paul has! I could only agree, saying something about how “insanely ripped” he was (yeah, I’m an idiot). But Stephen agreed, and we had a great laugh about it.

To quote a friend of mine: That’s right, Stephen and I had a conversation about the insane hotness of Paul Dinello’s bod!

You know, starting off on a high point like that, you’d think there would be no place to go but down in a fandom. But I got lucky enough to see several more shows, meet the man several more times and, best of all, find a home here at NFZ so I could play among people who’d understand what a joy it is to follow this gentleman.

Thanks, DB, and everyone for making this such a fun, rewarding, and open-hearted place to play for all these years.

And to Stephen and everyone involved in your life and your shows, thank you thank you thank you!!


  1. Karenatasha says:

    Oh, what a wonderful post and lucky you, Ms. Interpreted!

    And I’m in love with the story about you and Stephen discussing Paul DInello’s ripped bod! That is hysterical, and will almost certainly have me snickering for a long time to come.

    Wish I’d met you at the Mockingbrd event. I was there, and was quite sure other Zoners/Completists were, but I didn’t know anyone at the time, really, and believe it or not, I am really so shy that I didn’t ask. (No, most people don’t think I’m shy, but it’s true. That’s why I chose not to full-time teach.) If memory serves me right, I also remember that when you wrote about where you were sitting, it also was very near my seat. Strangers in the night….

    I wish you the best of luck, and I also wish you some sanity in your life. I know you’ve been so busy working and traveling, which I’m sure is exciting. But still, sometimes a little time to settle is a good thing. Take care and hope to see you sometime at a Colbertian event.

    • Ms Interpreted says:

      Thanks — there’s been way too much work and travel lately (the two are combined) — but I’m hoping it’ll slow down. You know, maybe sometime this year. Maybe. At least my flight today got pushed back and it’s looking like I’ll get to enjoy my Memorial Day weekend at home instead of in a hotel on the other side of the world …

      You take care, too, and who knows? We may yet meet at one of these things.

  2. Mr. Arkadin says:

    Wow! Ms.Interpreted. With all you’ve seen and experienced, you’re even MORE awesome then I thought! :)

    Take care. You have nothing but my best wishes.

  3. Ms I- Those are great stories! I have missed seeing you around here- not that I have been as active in the past year as I have been in the past. Ah, life!

    I want to thank you, a while back, we had a discussion in a thread (may have been two years ago now) about books and you suggested several. I picked up a Sarah Vowell book based on our conversation and I think of you and NFZ everytime I see it on my shelf. Best of luck to you! Hope to see you around the interwebs!

    • Ms Interpreted says:

      You’re welcome, and I hope you enjoyed whatever you picked up. It’s always a dicey proposition, recommending books, because if you recommend something to someone who has slightly different interests or is just not in the right mood when they pick up the book — whoosh! There goes any credibility. :)

      • Nope- it was perfect and I have since recommended it to others! You really took the time to find my likes and interests. Thanks again and I hope your job calms down soon! Best of luck to you!

  4. My favorite part of your wonderful story was hearing that Stephen acknowledged you and your friends while you were waiting for the bus by saying, “Ladies…”

    What a gentleman!

    What a great story… How wonderful to hear it affirmed yet again what a gracious, open and caring person Stephen is. Thanks so much for sharing!

  5. Gratefull says:

    Amazing, MsI, just amazing … best wishes to you and safe travels … hope to catch you around!

  6. I am insanely jealous that you got to A: talk to Stephen and B: talk to him about Paul Dinello’s hot bod :)
    Great post! Thanks for sharing your stories, and thanks for all of the work you’ve put into the site! Hope to catch you down the road!

  7. Thank you, Ms Interpreted for all the great stories and articles you shared here on NFZ and thank you for sharing in this beautiful letter your experience and memorable TCR moments with us.
    I hope this is only a temporary good bye. Looking forward to read more of your wonderful posts on the new NO FACT ZONE section of Colbert Nation. All the best to you!

  8. leorabk says:

    what a great story!! my fear is that when i meet stephen i’ll be too godstruck that i won’t even be able to talk and i’ll look like an idiot- but i guess all i have to do is mention paul dinello’s bod and i’ll have a great conversation ;)
    I’m gonna miss nfz soo much!!

  9. christiane says:

    You and Stephen discussed Paul Dinello’s amazing body? BRB DYING!!!!!!! :D

  10. lockhart43 says:

    That was a truly great story to read, MsI. I always love reading other people’s stories about meeting Stephen, and yours was no exception. I especially love that he pointed to you in the audience at the taping you attended; it’s cool that he remembered you (it’s also cool that the remembrance was from a DonorsChoose event). And the thought of him sitting at his desk, playing with his LOtR action figures in a suit and tie makes me smile. Thank you for everything! I cannot say that enough.

    • Ms Interpreted says:

      Not sure why this comment isn’t posting normally, but …

      Thanks! Those toys were adorable.

      I had so much fun re-watching this episode when I was trying to figure out what to post; the elephant vasectomies bit was great! Especially since I was just in Kenya last year; the eles there were so impressive, and there really were a lot of them in the park near Kilimanjaro where I was. Not that I’m advocating the vasectomies, you understand, those creatures still face unbelievable threats. (I even adopted a baby elephant from Sheldrick’s Elephant Orphanage; she’s a sweet thing that sucked my fingers into her mouth and plays soccer by the mud wallow where the visitors are allowed to watch the ele orphans for an hour a day.) But that segment was hilarious.

  11. That’s a wonderful and funny story, Ms. Interpreted! I hope to be as lucky as you and every other Zoner someday in being able to attend Colbertian events and to actually meet and talk to Stephen himself (hopefully multiple times!!), although, like leorabk, I’d probably be either too shy to even approach Stephen (mostly due to lack of confidence and feeling that maybe I don’t deserve to meet him), or if I’m ever in close proximity to him, my body will probably let me down by unleashing an anxiety attack (convulsions, stuttering, the works) and make me end up looking like a fool in front of him (it’s happened when I’m under immense stress on the spur of the moment). We’ll see. Thanks for everything that you have done for NFZ, Ms. Interpreted!

  12. Ms Interpreted says:

    Thanks, y’all. It’s been fun. And to those of you who haven’t met him yet, I wish you luck (assuming you’re not stalkers, that is). ;) It’s a surreal, exciting, memorable, and thoroughly enjoyable experience, and he and his staff are wonderful people. I won’t pretend it’s not a giddily nerve-wracking thing, but once you get used to the feeling that your internal organs are swing dancing — or maybe having a Chinese fire drill! — you realize that you’re just having a lovely time, standing there talking to a person with a big, kind, gentlemanly heart.

    • Oh I can attest to everything you just said….that’s exactly what it felt like for me.

  13. I know I’ve seen that story about you and Stephen talking about Paul’s hot bod before — can’t remember if it was in another post somewhere or in an email — but I will never get tired of it. It’s too funny!

    One of the best parts of being in this fandom has been to be in Stephen’s presence. I’ve been to numerous tapings and several live appearances where I had the opportunity to talk to him, however briefly. He truly is a kind gentleman with a generous heart. And when you’re in that studio for a taping, the joy that radiates off him is contagious. I leave those tapings feeling like I’m walking three feet off the ground.

    I’ve loved reading your commentary on TCR for years, not just here but also at the TWoP boards back when we both had time for that. One of the best things about being part of the NFZ family has been making friends who share the same passion for Stephen and his work. I do hope you’ll keep in touch, when you have the time!

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