Sunday, May 31, 2009

Music Video of the Day: Joey Potter's Douchey Worthington College Boyfriend Plays Cheap Trick

For some months now, I've been bemoaning my lack of musical talent to any and all who would listen. Any and all in this case is a list of one: blog devote Thumbu Sammy. I told him I should take up an instrument, perhaps the guitar, and last weekend whilst I was skulking about Brookline and Cambridge with Sugarpockets, E, occasional reader A. Frances, and others, Thumbu, who was house-sitting for us, procured a guitar and deposited it in our living room. Veritable gauntlet, dropped. I am so used to my empty threats going ignored, I am not sure what to do with wide-eyed idealist Thumbu's faith in me. Will I finally make amends for those tortured four years from 4th to 8th Grade in which my father forced me to play the violin? Will I follow through on my half-formed ideas about taking up new hobbies? The jury is still out.

But today, I made peace with the fact that my taking up acoustic guitar--in whatever lazy form or fashion--does not mean I share company with that douche nozzle half-assedly playing Cheap Trick songs on West Quad--you know the one, leaning super cazh against that garbage can that really drunk freshman girl threw up in after the Carolina game in '97, the one right in front of the Bryan Center Walkway, right below Joey Potter's dorm room. (See above). No, thanks to Thumbu I learned to play -- more or less -- four notes from "Wild Thing." And I felt like a fucking genius of rock and roll. I felt like these guys. Motherfucking Extreme! Motherfucking Nuno Bettencourt, in tube socks and shorts and combat boots. That's what I felt like. And it felt good.

Thanks, Thumbu. Safe travels back to Detroit Rock City. The Bay will miss you.


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

superfluous and belated movie review of the month: tyson

so i consider "fresh air" with terry gross to be a major source of news. as in, breaking news. i know c4ts and sugarpockets despise terry gross, and i get that to a certain extent. i think she's much better when she is focused on a particular subject (e.g., health care) than when she's interviewing someone as like a character study. did you happen to listen to her interviews with either james franco or drew barrymore? those two actors were as moronic and inarticulate as i thought they would be. a good interviewer would direct these dolts to speak coherently, one would hope. or at least be funny. or brief. anyway, despite her shortcomings and her complete inability to understand humor (e.g., her interview with stephen colbert--mystifying. foreal, did she really think the "wriststrong" bracelet thing was that hilarious?), i continue to listen to her and find her snorting laughter to be more than a little bit amusing.

back to the subject at hand. terry gross recently hosted the creators of the documentary "tyson," about the boxer mike tyson, who were obviously sympathetic to their subject. she also interviewed others who had followed tyson's career as a sort of point-counterpoint. based on this episode i decided to check out the film. i mean, i watched a decent amount of boxing as a kid with my dad and i knew some of the major players: mike tyson, evander holyfield, lennox lewis, etc. like other casual boxing fans in the 90s, i watched in amusement/horror as mike tyson married and divorced robin givens, was convicted of rape, had several half-hearted comebacks, and disappeared disgracefully after biting off a chunk of holyfield's ear.

so i don't know what i expected out of this movie, and i still don't know what to make of it. is the intent to elicit sympathy? is it supposed to serve as some sort of apologia for a man of boundless brute force? is it supposed to be funny? now, i know the answer to that last question is a decided "no," unlike those snickering kids at the theater in cambridge who probably attend a school i shall not name (whose name rhymes with "harvard").

for those of you who may need a refresher, here's the gist of tyson's biography: he grew up more or less as an orphan with only an alcoholic mom in a very poor part of brooklyn. he was fat, lispy and bullied (one particularly sad story involves some local bullies snapping the neck of a pigeon tyson kept as company). after a few run-ins with the law and a stint in juvie, the legendary trainer cos d'amato--whose name tyson pronounces like "customato"--takes tyson under his wing and grooms all the rage and despair into a sort of fighting machine. sadly, d'amato, who is the closest approximation of a father figure in tyson's life, dies when tyson is 19 know the rest.

there are some seriously brutal moments in this movie, and i am not limiting that statement to the boxing scenes. i guess since anyone who has ever watched a boxing match knows the level of aggression involved, the blood and physical force shown in those scenes were not unexpected. but man, some of the things tyson said and some of the interviews...this was some of the most depressing shit i've ever seen. for example, this infamous interview in which robin givens tells barbara walters--in front of mike tyson!--that tyson is out of control and that she fears him at times. unlike the crazy commenters on that youtube page, i don't doubt the veracity of her statements. to me, it's more like, is any of this surprising? i guess the reason why i found this movie so profoundly depressing is that it seems a foregone conclusion that someone without any guidance in his life who has only been taught to express himself through force (which also is the only source of validation and reward) will not know any better. no, this is not to absolve him by any means. still, the inevitability of it all was almost too much to watch.

i don't think the following is a spoiler, but if you don't want to know what tyson says at the end of the movie, skip the following paragraph. basically, tyson declares that he's been through rehab, he's reformed his old ways and that he's ready to be a father to his six kids. mind you, this prompted another chorus of snickers from my fellow theatergoers. assholes. i was just left wondering whether he could overcome his limitations.

anyway, apparently tyson's 4-year-old daughter recently died of a freak accident. that's some sad shit, man. foreal.

omg, what a friday downer.'s some nostalgia for you:

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Suspended Animation

First of all, let me be clear from the outset. This post is chaff. Just a throwaway thought to keep honest Anonymous Alex at bay. Somewhere in my e-marrow I can feel he's been prepping another Your Blog Is Dying missive, so I'm going to cut him off at the pass. I'm going to nip him in the bud with my arsenal of mixed metaphors. Here is a post. The blog is alive.

I've been working at my new job for about five weeks. I've resisted blogging about it because while the old job at ________ Consulting Group was temporary, a consequence-free way of earning a living, without having to have a career, the new job is not temporary. It cannot be shrugged off with a midday fro yo, and some clever banter with Adam over gchat. The new job has big-C Career written all over it, and I am trying my best not to fuck it up. That is to say, I'm trying. Part of trying means not blogging about every stupid fucking thing my coworkers do. There is an obvious element of self-preservation in checking myself in this manner. But it also suggests some delusion on my part as well. This blog, read by a discreet and gifted few, will never make its way to the web browsers of the employees at _________ LLP, my new professional home. I would have to morph into an opposite-marriage-supporting, LOL cat with a crush on Obama to achieve the kind of broad internet fame that would bring this blog to the attention of my colleagues. Still, you never know who might stumble here, who might crack through my nom de guerre, my made-up names, and expose me to the world.

So, I've hemmed and I've hawed about how to talk about my job, if at all. But now I've come to this conclusion: what made the old job tolerable, what, believe it or not, made it fun, was knowing that I could catalogue all the day's ridiculousness in these pages. Why deny myself that? Still, I am not going to blog about my new job without first imposing some stringent security measures: Because the new job has me doing some very un-hero-like and very specific kind of lawyering, I am not going to talk about the work itself -- and this is for the best; also, in addition to continuing to invent names, I might try on some composite characters and Hills like reality script tweaking. I expect no love from Oprah Winfrey.

Now, the only question that remains is this: Will I have anything to blog about? These days. I go to work in an office that is mine alone. My sliver of a window provides me with an angle on a tiny section of the Bay Bridge. Work comes in. Discussions are had. I try not to make a fool of myself. I eat sandwiches. I ask the Secretary outside my door questions about formatting documents in Word. I tell everyone how to pronounce my name correctly, and then the next week, tell them all again. I put post it notes on my sandwiches before putting them in the Fridge. I struggle to remember how to make .pdf's. I made an early play for a seemingly unwanted plant before anyone else could score it, and pumped my fist when it became mine. I stare at the dull canvas of beige in front of me and think about putting up something on the walls, but probably won't. Do I really want to make this place homier? Do I want to acknowledge that it is, in fact, my new home? I don't know the answer to that yet.

I do know this. The other day right outside my door, two junior associates, one of whom is quite friendly and the other quite sour, meditated loudly and passionately on whether or not one must have two spaces after a period. The sour one could not imagine a world where teachers and parents alike did not beat their children senseless for their cavalier and lustful use of the one-space. The other was somewhat more charitable, arguing that, "you know, there's no real reason you need two spaces," but conceded, ultimately, only a diseased mind would bunch his sentences together so brazenly. This was about 8 PM on a Friday. I felt overwhelmed by sadness for everyone involved in the discussion, myself included, as I was right then beholding it. I packed my things and scurried off between the two stalwarts of classical debate, and recalled with great joy that morning when I passed Dick -- you remember, Dick, he of ________ Consulting Group fame, he of the extended vowels ("401kaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyy") on my way to work. It was about 9:30 and he was on his second or third cigarette break of the day, circling the block. Suddenly two low-flying pigeons swept in lightly towards his head, but to Dick they were like spray from an M2 Carbine. Their legs lightly grazed his hair. He dropped his cigarette and crumpled to the sidewalk like the first unlucky bastard out the boat at Omaha Beach, and mumbled "shit," mirthlessly and with no emphasis on the vowel. He sat there as I walked by -- I thought it best not to exchange pleasantries . Stunned, he remained half-splayed on the ground for a goodly while. His cigarette burning, wasted.

What fear does to us to a man.

__________ Consulting Group, you are the gift that keeps on giving.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Nothing Is Impossible

"We all know who the real number one is. Quite frankly, I'm the best in the world....I've been writing, but I haven't been writing. In my mind I've been saying I want to write, but I haven't actually physically picked up a pencil and started writing...So that is my next challenge, to actually to sit down and do it. No (not my life story). A screenplay. Nothing is impossible."-- Serena Williams

One night during my freshman year of college, when I instead should have been living the life that Asher Roth --anti-Christ de jeure--celebrates in his brain-grating ode "I Love College", I found myself watching the television program Friends with a dorm-mate. We got into a spirited debate about the import of liking characters in order to like that in which said characters appear. I advanced the theory that we need not like characters (in books, films, etc.) in order to like the larger works in which they star -- in fact, only lesser intellects would think that. And I don't mean "like" in the moral sense. No one likes Hitler, but we'd all read a book about him with a sense of intellectual curiosiity, I suppose. I'm talking about like in the sense that their lives interest us. I am talking about things like the show Friends, which was, as we recall, peopled by a stunning array of unlikable characters, three of whom could drop dead on screen and I would carry on without a sliver of remorse; Rachel's selfishness when she and Ross were on a break, her pettiness, her impossibly cavernous West Village apartment, her astonishing careeer success (barista to Ralph Lauren), Ross' inexplicable sexual successes, the subdural itch brought on by Phoebe's "quirky" personality , the lot of it made me want to reach out and throttle those three. But still, I liked this show. (Look, we're all going to have to get over ourselves: it's okay to like things that are popular).

While I would have taken garden shears to Jennifer Anistons tips, if only to murder the cultural chatter surrounding her inane haircut, Lord Christ in Heaven above, I fell out of my seat when she accepted Joey's mistaken wedding proposal. Note I am not talking about hate-watching here (e.g., of the kind done with regard to those two human shaped turd sculptures on MTV) -- that's a phenomenon popularized later by reality television and Elizabeth Hasselbeck; I'm talking pure unadulterated hate for characters in a narrative that one otherwise loves. I am talking about hate and love coexisting. My friend with whom I was watching the show that night could not understand my theory -- for him, Rachel was sex on shapely legs, Ross was goofy and funny, and Phoebe was so quirky; he loved them all. And thus he loved Friends. And if I didn't, what the hell was I doing watching this show on Thirsty Thursday whilst munching on my food-points-purchased Subway sandwich. To love Friends was to love every sarcasic toss of Rachel's hand-of-God-crafted head.

So, what does any of this have to do with Serena Williams, epigraphed above? Well, I hate her too. She is vile and arrogant, dismissive of her rivals, and she is also a pure pleasure to watch. The quote above is taken from a press conference in which she claims to be the best player in the world despite the computer rankings now favoring Dinara Safina. To be fair, nobody would dispute Serena, it's just that it's so unbecoming of a true champion to draw attention to the obvious fact that she couldn't give a shit less about the lesser tournaments that Safina has been cleaning up in, and plays only when she feels like it, so fuck the system. Serena will show up at the French Open out of shape and cranky, use the opening rounds to get in shape, scowl at various overmatched opponents, bitch about how little respect is afforded to her, win the whole damn thing, and then take the next few weeks off, the whole beginning of the grass season, to design a new unitard or write a screenplay. That is just how she rolls. I hate her, but I will watch her matches when she plays the French because it is a thing to watch such a ridiculously talented ingrate decimate the poor little girls who devote 23 hours a day to the sport and who have no Hollywood ambtions. And I will watch for another reason: who knew it would take a ridiculously talented and possibly moronic ingrate (Serena Williams is sponsored by Nike; "Nothing is impossible" is Adidas' slogan) to give voice to my slogan for this blog -- "I've been writing, but I haven't been writing..."?

ps -- The video above is what I got trying to find youtube of "Joey" and "sandwiches."

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Music Video of the Day: Matt & Kim, "Lessons Learned"

Many years ago I had a very taxing job. I was a school teacher, which means I spent my days getting mad at small children. When I'd come home my favorite thing to do was to watch music videos, usually on BET because, well, that was the only place where you could watch music videos in those days. Anyway, the art form, as we know, has more or less died, or at least the medium has, so it's with a heavy dollop of nostalgia that I continue to post videos on this site. Still, it is curious that Matt & Kim insist on making really awesome videos, in addition to just being awesome themselves.