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Post Graduate Life From the Huachucas...and Other Places

Monday, August 15, 2005

Malachai O'Shae! 

What a great name, huh?

So I've had a couple weeks to sit and mill on it...mull over it...simmer with it...do something..ANYWAY...and I think I finally hit on what actually bothered me about The Island. Like I said before, I really liked it--as much as one can "like" a Michael Bay film that isn't Bad Boys--but there was definitely something lacking from it. I thought maybe it was the fact that they put a teeny-bopper, "earn mucho dollars by downplaying adult themes and making it PG-13 friendly" type thing it had going. But, no. I don't think that's it. I think it was the basic problem with the premise. The whole premise--and I'm really not giving away anything that the trailors don't--is that these people are trapped in a place where every part of their lives are controlled in order to keep them in line and to keep them from asking questions because they are actually not "real people" at all, but rather "insurance policies". So they HAVE to keep them under complete control all the time, so they don't realize their lives are in danger; and then they put on a "random" lottery to allow people to win trips to "The Island, Earth's last paradise". But if you're really looking to control people--especially if you actually hate them and don't consider them to be people at all but rather very talkative cattle--wouldn't you actually want to make them extremely downtrodden, hopeless, and lazy as all crap? I mean if you're going to bother brainwashing them into believing in the little make believe world you've trapped them in, why wouldn't you brainwash them into thinking that they are useless and unimportant and totally without power or desire? Why would you allow your method of control to be a hopeful, exciting message, of "You TOO can win!" when you could just as easily beat them down with, "You're not special, unique snow flakes. Do as you're told, watch some t.v., everything'll be fine." Then you have zero percent chance of an uprising because everyone is bored and emotionless. Isn't that easier? Isn't that more real? Maybe this is why I have trouble with Michael Bay films. I'm too negative.


Anyway, a really GREAT movie that everyone should check out is My Date With Drew. It's an indy film that you may not have heard of--I certainly hadn't until we basically showed up at the theater--but it is hilarious! It's a documentary about a guy--Brian Herzlinger--trying to get a date with Drew Barrymore in thirty days or less. I know exactly what you're thinking. Why on God's green Earth would you want to watch that? Well...because it's actually interesting. And engaging. In fact, its "engagingness" is exactly what makes it so interesting.

No one--and I truly believe this--NO ONE hates reality t.v. as much as me. Well, you might hate reality t.v. as much as me, but you definitely don't hate it MORE than me. The whole "normal people as celebrities" idea was worn out on me by Survivor 2. And I didn't even watch Survivor 1. Actually, I take that back, because it goes farther than that. I've always hated the Real World. I tried really hard with Real World Hawaii, but...no. I hate it. Normal people interest me when I get a chance to know them as individuals. But when they're parlayed into demographic representations and jettisoned to temporary stardom with marginal character development..I want to vomit. So, if that's true, then why in the world would I enjoy something that is so modernly typical as a guy videotaping thirty days of his life in a ridiculous, vaguely fictitious adventure?

To be honest, I wasn't sure if I WAS going to want to do that. But Erin and I wanted to see a movie, and we seem to be in a little lull right now in terms of widely released movies that catch my interest. And that's o.k. because I need to rest and save some money before the end of September rolls around and I go see Serenity 50 times in one weekend! Oh, and we saw Broken Flowers last week. That was pretty good actually. Very endearing and enjoyable. But then we heard about this, and we figured, "Hey, if we lived just about anywhere else, we wouldn't get to see this." So we had to. And what's wonderful about it is it ended up being a completely pure and unpolluted look at a young man trying to fullfill a ridiculous dream. It's the complete opposite of what makes Morgan Sporlack (Super Size Me) and--to a somewhat lesser extent--Michael Moore so completely unappealing. The modern documentarian doesn't seem to be as interested in their documented subject as they are in scoring a three picture deal; or at least a recurring guest appearance on VH1 clip shows. But Brian Herzlinger wasn't someone who wanted to break into the film business (although, he did want that) so he decided to make a movie about some vaguley interesting or unique part of his life (although...yep, did that too). This guy just so desperately wanted a date with Drew Barrymore that he was compelled to make a movie to try to get it to happen (and I'm not telling you whether or not it worked because I want it to be as gut wrenching for you as it was for me).

The whole time you're watching this movie, you really wonder if you should be watching it. It seems like an extremely personal love letter/coming of age declaration specifically for Drew Barrymore. You begin to feel uncomfortable seeing so much raw, uncensored adoration that is directed at someone who is clearly not you. One time I saw people getting it on in a hot tub. That was horrifyingly uncomfortable and disgusting. Watching this movie is quite better than that; but you get what I'm saying. Uncomfortable. But at the same time...man, is it enchanting and extremely energizing. You have probably not seen this much pure joy and frustration and good natured human interaction in quite awhile; at least not at the movie theater. So, on top of being very funny and enchanting and wonderfully relatable, our hero in this tale also shows us what it's like to pursue something for the sake of pursuing it. It's just...so joyfull! If he had truly just wanted to make a movie and become rich and famous via this adventure, there's no way this would be as interesting as it is. The reason I know that is because as soon as he began his quest, I thought of about a billion fun ideas and gags and spectacles that I would have done that would have been more interesting than what I was seeing him do. But about half an hour into it, I realized that all the things I was thinking of might have made a marginally interesting film, but there's no possible way if would have gotten me a date with Drew Barrymore. You don't really start loving this film until you understand what game this guy's playing at. He doesn't care if you're entertained. He just cares about having an honest, fleeting moment with a girl he adores. And that, my friends, is true magic.

Becoming a celebrity and fast track filmmaker was never his main goal for this project, so it just makes it all the more interesting and fun to watch that happen as a by-product of someone just honestly trying to meet a girl. I actually wouldn't be surprised if we never hear about this guy again after this project. And I also won't be surprised if next year we see this same guy come out with a trilogy about trying to become the President of the U.S. And that would make me hate him. But whatever. Go get 'em Brian!
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Thursday, August 04, 2005

Back with a Splash! ...or... Bash with a Splack! 

Good lord, does anyone read this thing anymore? Probably not. Oh well, we had a good run. Remember Choose Your Own Adventure Day? That was a hoot, huh? And all of Brian's overly angry reactions to things as simple and trivial as movies and as mundane as human ignorance? Ha! Shmuck! Yes...good times. Well, lucky for us all I'm delusional and not all together busy so I'll just type like people are still reading...even if they're aren't. (Please note: I made that typo on purpose...judgemental jackyls!)


Hey, guess, what? I moved to Phoenix! Hooray! I know, I did that before. But this one last move is far more permanent. One thing lead to another, and basically I got a pretty sweet job working as a youth director at a local church, Erin Phillips and I decided that it's about darn time we live together and then we got an apartment that allows us to go shopping for expensive things, make puppy eyes, and go swimming and work out while watching the Daily Show. She gets here tomorrow, I started work this week, and comic books are particularly awesome right now. That may not seem like the best run down of things right now, but I'll let it settle in and pretty soon you'll realize...it's like you lived it!

The Island did not suck nearly as much as I would have thought it would. If I had seen it on any other night, I probably would have been quite enthralled all the way through and immediately uttered words that are reserved for comic-films, "I can't wait until that comes out on DVD!" And then I would have wet my pants. As it turns out, however, I saw it on a pretty strange night and it's really not the movie's fault that I didn't sit anxiously and watch the whole thing. Allow me to explain:

It was Tuesday night and I had started work that day, and was feeling very good about a great many things. Over the weekend I flew to N.M. to visit Erin and her family, and we figured a fun evening out would be to go to dinner (which was lovely), hang out with my aunt and laugh and go buy expensive books at the bookstore (also great), and then top it off with champagne in a parking lot (a little surprise on behalf of Erin and--quite possibly--the most lovely aspect of the evening) and go see a fun romantic comedy called Must Love Dogs. Oh, my lord, the night had been so good!!! And then we were forced to rename that movie Must Love S#*!. Yeah, that's right! It was so awful that we renamed it S-pound-astrisk-exclamation point! The exclamation point stands for "Fuck!" Never see this movie. It's possible that the mere viewing of it causes birth defects in your unborn future babies. My kid's going to have gills and I'm going to have to explain to him that it was because ten years before he was even thought of, I viewed a pile of stinky poo in celluloid form in a dark movie theater while buzzed on parking lot champagne! Boo!

So, anyway, being back in Phoenix, I was anxious to go see another movie that promised to be at least somewhat enjoyable (Ewan and Scarlett? No brainer.) even if the end product was destined to be tirds on sticks. I would say...I don't know...four tirds on sticks? Maybe five?

So I went to see the Island. But--also--I decided to visit a bar in the same parking lot as the movie theater. I don't remember which chain resteraunt it was--because there are three or four of them right next door to each other in this lot--but it was a Chille's or a TGIFridays or something. Maybe an Island's? I don't think it was. ANYWAY...it served its purpose, and I got to enjoy some Jack and Cokes before going into the movie. It was my little insurance policy, just in case the movie was incredibly bad then at least I could still just enjoy staring at the cieling and laughing a bit. So I got my ticket, and seconds later, the clouds opened up and glorious, glorious floods washed upon the earth. Literally. Seriously, while I bought my ticket it was really windy--and Arizona has no reason to have their box offices indoors like some of you Midwesterners are used to, so I'm standing out in the wind and the girl in the booth had a really hard time understanding me because the wind was howling through her little speaker hole--and just as I reached the door to go inside, the wind magically transformed into a swimming pool in the air!! Weeeee!!! Anyone who has NOT lived in Phoenix or L.A. or somewhere like those places in the middle of the summer has no idea how wonderful and welcoming and exhilerating a rain storm can be. And people--this is why I don't get people!--PEOPLE who had been living in 110 degree heat for weeks on end, humans who have had to stare at their hands while walking out to their car after work and mutter to themselves, "Is this what hell is going to be like?", these very same people were running AWAY from the rain! I couldn't believe it. I don't complain about the heat and when people ask me about it, I'll always tell them that I don't think it's that bad...and that's really mostly true, but only because every once in awhile you're rewarded for your modest suffering with a little bit of happiness sprinkled on your head, and some joy soaking in your shoes. So I played in it! I stood in that rain and drank it up--literally! until I realized there were probably some serious health risks to drinking the smoggy Phoenix sulfur water--and I splashed in puddles and I played like I was a five year old with a hard on! Awesome!

So then, I went into the movie, and it was really interesting--except for the previews which were long and totally uninteresting and repeats of ones I had seen before and is anyone truly excited about freaking Kiera Knightly as a bounty hunter? I want the Serenity preview!!!--but the combination of rain outside, a little Jack and Coke in my heart and the message of people trying to control you to hide a greater truth from you...it all made me antsy enough to leave the movie for about twenty-thirty minutes and play video games and dance in the rain some more! I needed change for the video games--they had Time Crisis 3, which has to be one of man kind's greatest inventions--so I went outside to the neighboring Starbucks and got three quarters for a dollar from a group of bikers in tight black leather. It was the best change they could come up with. And they didn't understand why I was so willing to make the trade, and then they understood even less as to why I was saying the movie was good but I'd rather be playing video games but I would still recomend it. At that point I said, "I think I'm more drunk than I thought I was." And one of them said, "What?" And I said, "Thanks," and ran back into the theater. There are times when I really, really hope people find me as entertaining as I think I'm being.

And wouldn't you know it? I left the movie right after the fairly original, really well done expositional beginning, and--almost as if timed--got back right after the mindless action sequences just in time for the "heart felt character change in the form of uncovering truth" portion of the movie.

The best part about the movie is something that Chuck Klosterman touched on in Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs; the idea that the only thing it really makes sense for movies to explore anymore is "What is reality? What is real? How do we know what our existence is?" Everyone's always complaining that way too many movies do that nowadays, but when you think about it...how many other reasons are there to even watch movies anymore? Unless you want to see a comic brought to life, or an attractive performer get naked, or a weird disastrous car chase that supposed to be "entertaining"...what other things are there to do that are even remotely interesting in our modern day cinema experience? Reality is the final frontier. It's the last thing that we have to question because we've explained and tossed aside just about everything else. And--more importantly--out of anything else you can experience in a movie theater, reality would be the topic that most people seem to be the most out of touch with. A little dose of that--or, at the very least, an example of what it looks like to question it--would probably be the only value I see in attending movies anymore. Mostly because they all suck anyway.

Except Batman Begins. And Serenity...I hope to God.
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Friday, July 01, 2005

Batman and Other Belated Things 

This whole "no internet" thing is pretty lame. And now I can't read comments from the blogs for some reason (at least not haloscan ones), so for those of you who left comments on my page...I'm basically assuming that I'm going to have to punch all of you in the face.

Also...Batman f-ing rocked. Have you seen this yet? If you haven't, I don't know what's wrong with you. Yesterday I just thought--very briefly--about what my life was like before I saw this movie and I cried for four hours without stopping. Admittedly, I was also going through a food poisoning thing, and really stressed out from work stuff, and Timmy the doll from Passions was stranded down a well....but MAINLY I cried because there was a time in my life when I HADN'T seen Batman Begins. In the extremely recent past I only had vague images of Michael Keaton, Adam West, Val Kilmer, and/or George Clooney as my only reference points for live-action Bat-fun. Just the thought of that makes me question whether there's a God. It's really an extremely disturbing part of our past. Ranks right up there with Japanese internment camps during WWII.
"What? We put Japanese-American citizens in big camps/prisons to make sure they weren't plotting against us? That is f-ed up. What is wrong with us?"
Very similarly, I say, "George Clooney was in the batsuit? WTF??!! I loved the guy in Out of Sight and everything, but...Jeebus! I need a stiff drink."
All I'm saying is...Batman Begins is the most glorious thing I've seen in a movie theater since--quite possibly--I was born.
And only when you read that last sentence in the James Lipton voice and realize that I am unironically saying it like that will you truly understand how obsessed I am with this movie.
And what I like most about it was that I saw it last night with my friend Anna, who hates comic books (or at least has no experience with them), and we both loved the movie for the exact same reasons. It took a piece of pop culture folklore and transformed it into something...bigger. Something more. It's a step that hasn't been taken with a great many "comic book" movies. And I haven't truly apprecited a film like this in quite awhile. There was so much going on with it that I feel truly divided in my thinking towards it. As a comic fan, I'm sort of sad about it simply because there are many things that could have been done with future Batmovie installments that I don't think would work now. Like a Superman, Batman crossover. Or the introduction of Robin. I feel like they so convincingly grounded this story in a realistic setting that a lot of comic book-type of story lines just wouldn't work with it. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe someone could find a way of uniting those things. But the other side of me--the movie goer side--says why risk it? This was an amazing psychological drama. There were moments of camp, but mainly it was just a really deep look into more universal topics. How do we deal with grief? What drives us to do what we do? What do we fear? How do we let fear control us? What does it mean to be a just or "good" person? It was wonderful simply because it showed Batman for what he always has been. He's the dark, screwed up part of all of us, nothing but a festering pool of hate and rage; but instead of trying to bury that or distract himself with work, he embraces it. He makes vengeance his life's work. He attempts--most of the time in vein--to make something positive out of all the negativity he can't escape.
And one of my huge complaints about almost every movie I've seen in the past few years is that supporting characters get crapped on all the time. Not in this movie. Alfred isn't just a butler. For the first time we truly understand that he's a saint. He's the epitome of a concerned man trying to care for a loved one. Gordon is a good man in a world of criminals. As a police officer he can do nothing, he has literally no ability or power because the system he works for is so messed up. There are times when he looks like he thinks he might be dreaming up the whole Batman thing just to make himself feel better. More than anyone, HE needed a hero. The same could be said for Lucious Fox. Dr. Crane/Scarecrow and mobster Falconi aren't even the MAIN RIVALS for the hero, but they get so many good moments and such liberty to play and make themselves heard that I was completely shocked when they were prematurly disposed of.

And if anyone wants to make the comment that I'm just making all of this up to cover up how I'm actually in love with Christian Bale in the batsuit...I'm not denying anything.

Also, Mark might be right about the Batmobile looking really lame. I don't like cars very much. Many times someone will say, "That car is awesome!" and I just don't think they look any different than any other car you see on the street. So it doesn't look very good. But you can't always be fashionable when you're trying to save your city. Sometimes...you need something that will roll over police cars and cause massive destruction. That just makes good sense.

Now I have to do some work so I can go sit on a boat for a week. Quick side note: If you're ever about to go on a really extravangant vacation, where the main focus of the trip is to be waited on hand and foot and eat and drink more than anyone ever should while swimming on a boat in the middle of an ocean....don't start reading a book called The End of Poverty In Our Time. When going on a giant trip of exhausting wastefulness, start reading your hippy literature about how devastatingly poor the rest of the world is and how we're not doing anything to help them...save that for AFTER your trip. Because otherwise you feel like a giant penis.
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Tuesday, June 28, 2005

HAPPY STELLA DAY!!! 

Tonight Stella premiers on Comedy Central. EVERYONE SHOULD WATCH IT! If this show fails, I'm blaming each and every one of you! I have no cable, so I am missing out on the amazingness, but--luckily enough--I will also not be held accountable if it falls right down the crapper. I'm broke and without cable. Not my fault. But the rest of you are getting hot chilli poured on your crotch if Showalter, Black and Wain don't become the wealthiest most revered comedians in America. F America, in all of the North Western hemisphere! (anything beyond that and you have to compete with Eddie Izzard and that is not a contest I could possibly judge...nor would I wish the judging on anyone.) Erin is kind enough to record it for me (I think) so I won't miss out entirely. It'll just be a couple months before I can bask in the glory.

So, everybody's watching it. I might go to a baseball game or something. Or there's a gay bar in town that is known for its public viewings of cable shows like L Word and Queer as Folk. Is Stella gay? At least a third of them? Maybe? Michael Ian Black was in those Sierra Mist commercials. That's close enough, I think. So maybe I can watch it there.

Also, life is good and internet is still flowing like Arizona wine (as in..not so much). Just finished with camp from last week and it was an amazing time. Chris and Rachel come to visit tomorrow. Next week I will be on a cruise in the Carribean. Now that my life is no longer entitled "The Suck" I will be selling front row tickets at $15.00 a pop. Wanna be me for a day? Fork me over a Jackson and it will be so!
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Monday, June 13, 2005

Uno mas para el muchachos! 

Before I walk away from the internet again for awhile (probably a couple weeks) I wanted to share a little something for the men. Or, you know...Mark. And maybe Tony. Or possibly Joe. O.k. so maybe guys do read this thing, the point is this:

This weekend I received the new Esquire. I'm very pleased with how timely they've been getting issues out lately because for the first part of the year, I was getting my copy WEEKS after the stores got theirs. But now they have a much more prompt delivery service. Kudos. This month's issue--as is the case with the June/July issue--is focused on what it means to be a man. Just in time for father's day, the quintessential "men's magazine" takes on more than their standard front "manly man" section and uses the entire issue to explore the many things that go into being an American Man. This year they've collected ten men from around the country and they write exposes on them and they let us know that "every man in America is exactly like, at least, one of these men". I found this intriguing. They did something similar four years ago, and Jon Stewart was on the cover and that was the reason I started reading the magazine in the first place. One of these ten men relates to me in some way...and that could, perhaps, help my understanding of myself. This is simple and brilliant.

Well, I'll let you know what happens with the rest of the article, but right now I'm four people into it....and I'm not feeling very represented. I'll demonstrate what I mean:

Val Kilmer--He's actually towards the back of the list, but he's the first one I read because the amazing Chuck Klosterman did the interview. Klosterman wrote in an article last year sometime that he thought Kilmer was the best working actor of modern times. And I would agree that, for the most part, I am very intrigued by Kilmer on screen. Although, Angela and Lenka would tell you that he is not the guy you want to star in your musical. Or, at least, not your biblically themed musicals. I might take it a step farther and say that he doesn't really have the intensity of presence that you need for any kind of stage work at all...but maybe it was just a bad matinee. ANYWAY...The most fun part of the interview is how Klosterman manages to really humanize Kilmer a lot more than anyone else has bothered to in the past decade or so. I always think of him as being tripped out on something, or just naturally, biologically, insane. But now I don't think so. I just think he's very full of himself, and possibly portrays actors in general in an unfavorable light...but he's also a really nice guy. And did you know that he ACTUALLY MARRIED SORSHA???!!! His love interest in Willow? They actually got married and had babies. They're divorced now, but doesn't that make you feel kind of good knowing that Madmartigan and Sorsha were actually together?? No? Maybe it's just me. Anyway...wow.
So nothing too interesting, except that I think Klosterman is ALWAYS interesting; but still I find myself relating a lot more to the interviewer rather than the interviewee. Perhaps the next choice will have something more profound to say about "manhood".

Billy Bob Thorton--Then again...maybe not. He feels the need to deny the claim that he "eats orange fruit". Apparently Bad Santa mirrored his life in a lot of ways when he made it--which, for those of you who haven't seen the movie, isn't really what you want to hear. And, apparently, sleeping with a supermodel can be "literally like fucking a couch." Which, if those were his actual words, means that this man has sex with furniture. Lots of other interesting details about him in there...but they make me queezy to think about, so you can read them yourself if you want. Still...thank God...I'm not seeing a lot of me in this guy.

Seth MacFarlane--Creator of Family Guy--which we can all agree is hilarious--and American DAd--which we can all agree is Family Guy with an alien--and apparently that is his entire life. This is why you don't let someone write their own article when their series is about to be relaunched on t.v. There's kind of a funny comic strip starring Brian the Dog, but then there's also just his life story, which I guess is "I created Family Guy. Whoot!" Oddly enough, this guy represents me the best so far simply because I am worried that, whatever I end up doing, I will only be known for that one thing. I would much rather be a "renaissance man" or something. A jack of all trades. Adventurer and general nice guy! Horray! But from the sounds of things, MacFarlane is perfectly content just being known as Family Guy. And if I created something that was hilarious and had a cult following and made me lots of money...yeah, I'd probably settle for that too.

Mike Sagar--The journalist googled his name and then went cross country to meet as many different Mike Sagars as possible. This is a great idea for a story. Learn about yourself and your identity by meeting the people who--at least superficially--share that same identity. Cool. I guess this guy is like me because that seems like something I would think of...but he is very much NOT like me because he ACTUALLY went out and did it. And my name is not Mike Sagar. So in terms of the philosophy of that story...I don't even really exist. And if I do, I'm not important. Again, in a strange way...this does represent how I tend to look at myself. (tear...sob)

I haven't had time to read the others--which are longer and more detailed and are probably more likely to relate to the question of "man" as a whole, but the other contenders are Howard Stern, Donald Rumsfeld, Billy Bush--the Hollywood Bush cousin--Shaq, Brian Williams, and military minister Kent Svendsen...who I feel will probably be the most interesting.

Man: I don't know know if I am one.
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No Internet, But Tons of Life! 

There is so much life going on right now! Life is in progress! Entropy has begun!!
All right, that last one doesn't make any sense, but that's o.k. I don't have access to the internet on a daily basis anymore. It's pretty much a once a week type deal (at the most). So updating is not happening, as you may have guessed. But what's fun is that once a week I get to play catch up on the rest of your lives. And well done my friends. Life is going!
I'm impressed by this mainly because I feel I have had more life experiences in the past two weeks than I did all year long. Really that's a totally unfair white wash of the history of my year, because I did live--for better or worse--in a pretty specific fashion. And I grew and matured and whatnot. But last night I saw a stand up comedian, after spending the day sitting pool side at a remote desert resort; and a few days before that I saw live music, hunt out with friends, did some drinking, saw some movies; and a few days before that I sat a coffee house chatting about pop culture and gay rights, and I'm not even going to attempt how many times I've found myself curled up in a book store or next to a roaring fountain with a good book and then writing stuff for myself. So much life. And then tonight something will happen and tomorrow night I will see Batman Begins at midnight and then I'm going to go run a summer camp for a week. I'll just run it. Set it up, talk to people, give some hugs, talk about life, send everybody home. Then I'm going on a cruise. Just because. And I have a full time job in the middle of all this. That's sort of the point. A full time job that also helps me do all these other things. That is freaking mind boggling and more luck than I think I deserve.
And I almost wish that it wasn't this fun right now simply because I tend to get into competitions with myself. Like, "If this is THIS much fun now, how am I going to top that next month, or the month after?" And then I get sad when I've discovered that things have sort of leveled off for awhile and stopped progressing towards Maximum Fun. But whatever. I'll take some low times, if that's what it's going to cost to have an above average amazing time for the first half of the month, then that's a-o-k.
Also, let me say that live comedy is pretty good; but the show I saw last night actually took a back seat a lot of the time to my fellow front row audience members. My favorite was this one lady who was so completely drunk (it seriously looked like she was consuming an entire bottle of vodka by herself...even though I'm almost sure that couldn't have been going on) that she would attempt to pour herself more of her drink from her bottle and spill it everywhere and just laugh about it, and then hear a joke that the performer said and she would laugh louder and louder until she felt like pouring another drink and she would get most of it on the table, and then the whole process repeated itself. And it was this loud, ferocious laugh that you just couldn't ignore, but it wasn't really annoying or anything either. Wonderful.
I say give it up for living! Give it all up! Emtpy your pockets, do your stipper dance, find that love glove and snort some white powdery luck muffins up that six shooter of yours!
what the crap is he talking about?
I'm talking about life, friends. And it is so very vivid.
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Monday, June 06, 2005

So much to say, so MUCH to say!! 

Wow. This has possibly been the biggest few weeks of my life. I can practically count the number of times I've sat down on one hand. I didn't sleep for about two and a half weeks while we got ready for graduation and the end of the school year, and then Erin came to visit and we played and partied all over AZ and then I started my summer job IMMEDIATELY after school got out, and we just got done with a big training weekend. Dang... I sat still long enough to do two things, and they were both yesterday:

1. I saw Kicking and Screaming finally. As most of you know, Anchorman was the greatest thing that's happened to comedy since...I don't know...let's say Charlie Chaplin. So I was extremely excited to see what Will Ferrell would follow that up with. Kicking and Screaming is by no means Anchorman, but it absolutely possesses something I've been really interested in seeing, and that's Ferrell's movie legacy. Obviously he isn't going to be writing and producing everything he's in, and before Anchorman his only main roles were Frank the Tank and Buddy the Elf, so it was really hard to tell where he was going. Is everything he does just going to be some take off of his SNL-type of characters, or are we going to see him evolve into something else? Turns out, I think what we see is what we get. Which is totally fine with me because everything the man does is f-ing hilarious. But what I realized after Kicking and Screaming is it isn't about a specific character type or a general "inability" to pull off different characters. I think it's more that what makes Will Ferrell so unique and wonderful is that he seems to have a pretty sound philosophy and moral code when it comes to life, and he has no fear of using that as the basis for everything he does on screen. He's at his best when he's channelling all the absurdities of the world around us, and weather he's mocking it or simply saying, "Look at what is out there...are you not scared?" it's always a little more revealing and full of life than say...I dont' know...Rob Schnieder saying "You can dooooo it."
So Kicking and Screaming isn't what I would call a good movie. It drags on a lot. When it ended, I figured I had been in the theater for at least two hours, but it was more like an hour and a half. GGGoooooooodddddd....But it definitely had its moments all the way through. Completely predictable and contrived storyline, but with enough really likable elements to not make it terrible. Some really amazing cameos from bit players whose names I can't think of (including--I'm pretty sure--Bill from Freaks and Geeks, huh-zah!) And then the last half hour or so is just wonderfully hysterical. If that had been the entire movie, I would see it five more times. Because that's when we got into a few things that actually felt relevant. Coffee as lifesblood. Winning and dominating at all costs. Status over personality. All sorts of delicious little jabs at suburban culture. And, really, based on the previews, that's what I thought the whole thing was going to be, which is why I made sure to view the movie in the one of the greatest and snobbiest and ridiculous of Phoenix suburbs. When the movie was really working the way I wanted it to, it was like watching a Discovery Channel documentary while sitting in the middle of a Rhino cage at the zoo. People have professional dog walkers, for God's sake. And a Carnival Psychologist is almost a believable profession. There's some absurd things out there, and Will Ferrell's going to help us laugh at them. I am glad. Also, as opposed to Anchorman, the majority of the audience was laughing at all the things that I laughed at with this movie. Which made me glad because it means that either everyone's sense of humor is slowly becoming better OR they are able to recognize how absolutely ridiculous that majority of them seem and they can laugh at themselves...which is awesome. And the last thing I will say about it is that people need to stop trying to cast legendary actors in comical roles simply because it seems funny in theory. It worked for Robert DeNiro in Analyze This and Meet the Parents. That's about it. So everyone needs to stop doing it. If there's something that screams, "We NEED Robert DuVall for this!" then that's fine. But how much greater would this movie have been if someone who could have pulled off the broad comedy aspects had been Will Ferrell's father? What if Fred Willard had been there instead? Dear God I would have wet myself many times over. Jerks.

2. The second awesome thing I was able to take time to experience yesterday was a book called The Know-It-All by A.J. Jacobs. I'd been looking forward to this for awhile. This guy is an editor and contributor at Esquire and he took on the task of reading the entire Encyclopedia Brittainica. Amazing, yes? So then he wrote a book about him reading the entire encyclopedia. This may only sound interesting to freaks like me, but trust me...it's hilarious! Have you ever wondered what it would be like if Mark wrote a book? I know I wonder about that a lot (and I still do...Mark, get on that), but this seems very close to what it would be like. Jacobs' sense of humor and ability to take seemingly boring tasks and turn them into amazingly insightful quests is just wonderful and really intersting. So that's the next book everybody should read, I think. Plus, it's like reading the Cliffs Notes of the Encyclopedia, so you get all the really interesting and hilarious facts without having to take a year out of your life to read the thing yourself. Mmmm....brilliance.

Now I work for several hours and then explore Phoenix night life, which...I must say...is FREAKING AMAZING! Everyone needs to come visit me this summer. I'm kind of busy, but you would not regret a trip out to Phoenix in the summer time. So much to do, so much to see, so much amazingness to be had. It's almost unspeakable. But I will try to speak of it more often. Tonight I'm going to a club to see the band of this guy I met at a brewery. So much fun...everyone should come visit. Must leave now.
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Friday, May 13, 2005

A Second Look at Walter Kirn...or...Rethinking Hate in National Magazines 

I have a link to Megan's blog on this page. Everyone should go check in over there because she has recently stumbled upon one of the truly horrific examples of irresponsible journalism...the kind that I feel should start rebellions or riots of some sort. It's this awful guy Walter Kirn, and while I was looking into different "Men's Magazines" to see which one was the best, I found this guy's article in GQ. Under the ADVICE comlumn. So I dealt with my confusion and rage the only way I know how...I tried my best to belittle it. So I wrote a little thing that I've been holding off on putting up here because I only made it through half of it before my rage took over and I had to kill a puppy. But the thing is, Megan is completing grad school, and she decided to use this guy's article as the topic for a really interesting, intellegent paper. And then she posted it on her blog. So now I feel it is an appropriate time to put my own response to the evil that is Kirn, so everyone can have fun comparing and contrasting. Everyone should go read the full article by itself on Megan's page (it'll be a post from around last week sometime), and then you should read her paper about it. It's all wonderfully well done. THEN you should come back here to read another response to it that is not at all well done, but--I think--kind of childish and HILARIOUS. Or, if you're lazy and you like fairly unoriginal cuss words gettin' slung around like dirt in my backyard...just read on. But no matter what you do...get ready to feel some rage.

Walter Kirn is an Asshole.
Or
My Goal in Life is to Keep Women From Ever Talking to Walter Kirn.

Do you ever find yourself sitting around and saying, “I wish I could read something that, at first, seems harmless and then eventually unravels into a solid, picture-perfect view of everything that is wrong with the culture in which we live?” Well…GQ is the magazine for you!

I was actually going to write a pretty straight forward, kind of humorous bit about why, in my opinion, Esquire is the only “men’s magazine” worth reading. It was going to be pretty in-depth and funny, and the main contender was to be GQ. Simply because all the others barely—if at all—mask their true purposes for existing, which would be to peddle soft core porn and stereotypical views of masculinity to audiences of all ages. I think that’s fine. I think if that’s what you’re into, there’s nothing wrong with having it out there. Even if I don’t agree with what they’re saying—and I rarely, if ever, do—I think everyone will find their own path when it comes to stuff like that. Some twelve year old will sit down with a Maxim, and perhaps they will discover that secret place inside themselves they never knew existed and they’ll see the benefits of being a gay man in America. Or they’ll beat their wives. Either way, I don’t blame the media very much for the actions of individuals. I do, however, think that the media is an interesting mirror to use in order to reflect the status quo of society in general. This is why GQ and Esquire seem to be similar in my mind. The other mags make no secret about their target audience being guys with intense needs for erections and i.q.s that probably match the size of their testicles, whereas GQ and Esquire consistently sport headlines and taglines that claim they will make you “a better man”.

This is interesting to me. Two magazines that claim to have the same goal of bettering man kind. Not human kind, but the race of MEN. Obviously they have a few philosophical differences, otherwise there would be no need for the two to exist. So I was excited about comparing them, and after a careful debate choosing a winner. I was going to do this by comparing the April 2005 issues of both magazines and weighing the pros and cons of each. It was going to take time and patience and probably involve me doing some really critical analysis of the periodicals and how they relate to the world around us. That’s how it was supposed to go. Then I read a single article in this month’s GQ. And the game was over. Esquire wins. GQ is more likely to turn you into a serial killer than it is to make you a “better” anything.

To prove my point, I will now give you the article that I read in its entirety, with the added bonus of my annotations that give you a peek into my head as I sludged through each and every stupifying, perilous word.

The Forbidden Word:
It’s the A-bomb of the English language—the four-letter word a man can use to destroy everything with a woman. You know it. At some point, you’ve probably said it. WALTER KIRN unpacks its power.

My thoughts will be in italics. So, this will be a comical romp through one man’s inability to effectively relate to women and the trouble his hot temper and limited vocabulary have caused him. Quaint.

We were fighting. I was losing. She’d already called me a bastard and an asshole, and I’d already called her an evil witch. We’d lost track of what had set us off by then, but it still seemed important that someone come out on top, if only so we could go to bed that night in complete despair and mutual agony and set the stage for a morning of sobbing apologies followed by hours of tender, remorseful sex.

I sort of want to be in this guy’s shoes. Simply because whenever I’ve had that kind of all out argument with a significant other, I’ve never found that a night of restless, frustration-infused sleep magically births a new day where all differences of opinion are mystically erased and everyone’s loins are just a-bursting, waiting to satisfy the sexual desire that is only natural following a night filled with hatred and loathing. I’ve just never been able to make it happen. But this guy can. He must be awesome.

Unfortunately, my girlfriend had stopped playing. She’d gone quiet and cold. Her car keys were in her hand. And I couldn’t stop her. I was out of ammo. Except for the C-word, that is—my verbal fragmentation bomb and possibly the last word in the English language that keeps on hurting even after it’s spoken, echoing across the months and years until it reemerges in a divorce proceeding or as part of a woman’s defense for spousal homicide.

Oh, wait. This guy’s an asshole. I take back everything I just said.

It’s not a word I like to use in arguments because…

Um…because it’s hurtful and vulgar and has no place in any sort of conversation with someone you supposedly care about?

…because, by and large, it can be used only once.

Of course. How silly of me. It’s about the math.

Afterward, there’s little more to quarrel about, because the relationship isn’t worth preserving. Love is dead, at least on her side.

Well it’s sweet of you to be big enough of a man to still love the cunt, but yeah, I’d say she’s about done with your ass. Hopefully.

Still, when I find myself cornered by a woman, my very masculinity in jeopardy, there is something more important than love: making her feel filthy and subhuman. And there’s only one way to accomplish that.

At this point, I have some really extreme and violent reactions to this person, but then I take a step back and realize, I really don’t know what it’s like to be in his shoes. Apparently, this man has been in a position where he was “cornered” by a woman who threatened his “very masculinity”. I can only imagine that some Xena-type woman has taped him to a chair and spent hours on end poking at his nut sack with a pair of hot pliers, while gently lashing his penis with a strip of barbed wire. And, from the sounds of things, this very situation has happened numerous times! Given that situation, can you really blame him?

“You stupid cunt,” I said.
She put the keys down. Her eyes regained their ferocity and focus. “What did you just call me?”
I hesitated.

And flashed back to that time when she physically assaulted me and made me fear for my life.

“Grow some balls,” she said. “Say it.”

What a cunt!

I kept my peace. Once you’ve played your ace, you’ve played your ace.

Ah…nothing makes me sympathize with a poor, misunderstood man like a poker analogy.

“It’s over,” she said. And yet she didn’t leave. She stood there, awestruck. Our stalemate had begun.

Can you say “awkward”?

When affection goes, only stamina remains.

I think that’s what they stitched on my grandparent’s 40th wedding anniversary pillow.

In a way, it’s astonishing that the word still works.

You say “astonishing”, I say “completely incomprehensible! The women need to get over this one!”

After all, that’ all it is—a word. It doesn’t bruise. It doesn’t leave a mark. Yet women treat its deployment as tantamount to an act of nonphysical domestic violence.

Didn’t you just refer to it as your “fragmentation bomb” that “keeps on hurting…across months and years”? Maybe I’m paraphrasing?

Use it and you have every right to ear a call to the police within five minutes. “That’s it,” you can imagine your partner saying. “I’m packing my stuff and going to a shelter.”

I can really only assume that this actually happened to him.

Even worse, most shelters would probably take her.

Not so, my friend. Most shelters have an inscrutable screening process with a five month waiting list and mandatory “Trial by Fire”. It’s getting so that getting in an under-funded crap fest shelter is harder than joining Club Med! So don’t you fret, when you feel like verbally and emotionally abusing your woman—and yes, those are actual things—she has nowhere to go! Lucky devil.

Nothing inspires female solidarity like a vivid story of verbal combat retold in a caricatured male voice: “And that’s when he put the TV set on mute, looked up at me from the couch, and said…” The horror.

???

Slap on the handcuffs, call in the attorneys. Never mind what she called you. Insult a man with caustic slang and hey, that’s life, pal, but call a woman a you-know-what and you’ve committed a heinous political thought crime.

Um…are you trying to say “hate crime”? You were close. We’ll give you points for effort, but…just so you know next time…”hate crime”. That’s what it’s called. It’s just easier to say.

It’s a mystery why this should be, one of life’s abiding semantic puzzles.

Please, tell me more…

How can one syllable possess such power, particularly in an age when most obscenities can be freely spoken on cable TV? Bitch lost most of its impact years ago when women adopted it as a feminist boast.

Actually, that reminds me of a funny story. Just the other day, my mom said we were out of milk, and I jaunitlly replied, ‘Oh, you bitch.” We laughed for hours. I’m sorry to interrupt…go on…

“I’m such a bitch,” they say, and grin, meaning that they’re empowered and uncompromising.

Yeah, I know, that’s what I’m saying. Hilarious!

And they sling around whore and slut now like they’re nothing—just so much ultra-modern hip-hop trash talk.

Actually I think “biznitch” and “fuck-ho” are more of the hip-hop style. But, yes, we totally get your point.
Also, I believe they’re reclaiming the “C-word” as well. I’m almost positive I’ve seen a national bestseller called something like…oh…what was it? Um…(thinking noises)…um…Cunt? Is that what it’s called? Cunt…written by Inga Muscio? Is that it? Hmm…well, I’ll keep thinking about it.

This ongoing business of claiming their sexuality has made women as potty-mouthed as any man. More so, in fact, because they’re still intoxicated with the novelty of it all.

Really? It’s a FACT that women are more “potty mouthed” than men? I guess it could be true, since you’re a pussy who says “potty-mouthed”. I just didn’t know that was a cold, hard FACT. As in, indisputable bit of absolute truth. Hmm…you learn something new everyday.

The few times I’ve been forced by urgent need to use ladies’ restrooms, the graffiti there has shocked me.

Man, this guy really has been FORCED into some bizarre situations. Don’t you just ache for him?

But you’ll never hear someone call herself a cunt, let alone call another woman one. It’s as if they have a silent agreement, a genderwide Geneva Convention. If one of them should be rude enough, or drunk enough, to come out with the C-word, a chilly silence falls. Faces go blank. Backs turn. You’re on your own, girl. The only time it’s acceptable for a woman to speak such vileness is when she’s quoting a man and seeking sympathy for the wounds he has caused her.

Whereas it’s apparently o.k. for you to spout off at the mouth in a national magazine. Sometimes, life truly isn’t fair.

Maybe part of the problem is the hard c. Face it: The word is an ugly sonic package, as compact as a stone, with a dense ballistic heft that makes it perversely enjoyable to hurl at people. In the moment before you say it, a pressure builds at the back of your mouth, against your palate. Try it.

Wow. You know, you’ve given this a lot of thought. Maybe I should take your point of view more seriously?

Exciting, ISN’T IT?

Nope. You’re a cum-bucket.

Like cocking a pistol. Now pull the trigger.

Good, a gun analogy too. I was worried this guy wasn’t manly enough.

What a sweet release—a miniature orgasm of anger.

Do you have any unsolved murders in your area? Because, we may have found the guy who invented murder.

And then there’s the muffled, metaphysical thud when the round hits home. Could it be that women’s displeasure in hearing the word is related to men’s pleasure in speaking it?

DO YOU THINK THEY COULD BE ONE AND THE SAME??? I DON’T KNOW!!! MAYBE!!!!! HEY, THAT REPORTER LOOKS A LOT LIKE SUPERMAN, BUT HE’S WEARING GLASSES!!!!

Then again, most four-letter words are ugly. The terms for the male reproductive organ are just as hard and strong and pointed, but so is the organ itself, ideally.

Stop sharing personal information, Limpy.

…which makes those words appropriate. Most men just aren’t offended by obscenities that reduce them to a sexual part; indeed, they may even find such words complimentary.

Let’s test that theory. I get to tie you to a chair and take possession of a sledge hammer, and then you get to call me a name. Let’s see if you’re right.

Depending on the situation, I like being called a dick from time to time. It’s a tribute to my vigor, my alpha status, my swollen, overbearing potency. At least I’ve made an impression, is how I feel. It makes me want to whip the big guy out, slap him down on the table, and say, “You’re right, babe.” In truth, if I’ve gone too long in a relationship without being called a dick, or something like it, I start to wonder what I’m doing wrong.

At this point, I’m willing to allow any woman the opportunity to kill me. Just murder me. Slay me as violently, painfully, and publicly as possible. Think of it as the least the male population can do to make up for shit like this. Seriously, I will not be mad, nor will any charges be pressed. My life—and that of all my fellow cocks—should be forfeit.

The female reproductive organ…

Is there only one? Is the vagina the only part of the woman’s body that is responsible for creating life? Could you also explain to me the mysteries of menstruation? I believe you alone have the answers I desire.

…by contrast, is supposed to be flowery, delicate, mysterious—a Georgia O’Keeffe painting rendered in soft pink flesh.

This may be the first time I’ve heard of Georgia O’Keeffe’s work being referenced by someone who doesn’t get the imagery.

Men don’t quite see it that way, but women do.

Seriously, who the fuck are you?

They don’t appreciate being made to feel like they’re carrying a small pigsty between their legs.

You’ve obviously never been to Vegas. OOOOHHHHH! Zinger!

That’s why even the filthiest male pillow talker knows to avoid the word. It spoils the mood. (Her mood, that is—the only one that counts.)

In a Groucho Marx voice: Hey folks, I haven’t seen a guy THIS enlightened since Stalin.

It crops up now and then in porn, but only in hard-core, plain-brown-wrapper porn, not in the atmospheric hotel-room porn that’s meant to be viewed while sipping minbar wine.

Note to self: Remember to establish a filing system for all your porn. It seems to be a handy organizational tool, and obviously helps you think better. Also, spend some time researching the perfect sipping beverage for Muffy the Vampire Layer.
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