George Carlin was one of the fringe figures of my youth, relegated to furtive moments away from home. I remember sharing headphones with my friends on a glee club trip, listening to Carlin do his "place to put your stuff" routine, cackling and repeating the best lines.
He's been a part of my children's lives through his participation in Thomas The Tank Engine and Cars. I suppose it's a part of an entertainer's career evolution to take on these different kinds of roles late in life -- even ones that are diametrically opposed to his previous image. In time, transgressiveness mellows into nostalgia.
But of course Carlin had a mainstream appeal even during his edgiest days, appearing regularly on network television. It was his singular genius to remain committed to speaking frankly and not pulling punches, even as he became such a cultural fixture that just about anything funny that gets passed around via e-mail eventually gets his name attached to it.
Noel had the chance to interview him a couple of years ago. People often ask Noel whom he's interviewed lately, and while many of those names don't ring a bell with people over or under a certain age, when Noel mentioned Carlin everybody was impressed.
By the way, football is rigidly timed. Baseball -- we don't know when it's going to end! Maybe we'll have extra innings!