Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Dark Knight

Hey Folks

I'm sure I'm not the first or last person to write a blog about the new Batman movie. In fact, I think the intersection of people who blog, and people who have a lot to say about that movie is a fairly large one. That said, I'm going to anyway, because certain things probably shouldn't pass mention.

I saw the movie on Wednesday night. I knew about 5 minutes after walking out of the theater that I would have something to say about it. I just wasn't sure what I'd say, and it's taken me until now to really get my brain around it. I'm not sure I have yet, but it's also gotta be fresh, so here we go.

First, Ledger...

God damnit am I sad. It's weird...the guy died in January and I was a little sad about it at the time, but it wasn't like...on my mind very much. I wasn't particularly invested in the guy. I loved him in Brokeback Mountain, and Monster's Ball, and well...pretty much everything he'd done, but I wasn't really affected too much.

Not even halfway through The Dark Knight...that feeling of loss was changing. You could tell from the very first time you see him on screen for more than a second (the scene with all of the criminals) that what you were witnessing wasn't something common. Or even something slightly uncommon. What you were seeing was a performance of such odd artistry and thought that I think the performance would get the same level of hype were Heath Ledger able to attend every premiere. I sat there watching this guy... no older than me, doing something legendary. If you took this performance and you took away the "Comic Book Movie" mantle, and the character were just a sociopath doing the exact same things in the exact same way, but there wasn't a Batman involved... We'd all be talking about this being his "On the Waterfront" or his "Philadelphia" or his "Taxi Driver". I really believe he was that good.

Because of that, this enormous sadness has been sort of hanging over my head every time I think about the movie. We'll never see him create another character like that. Don't get me wrong..when you watch Brokeback Mountain and see his portrayal of Ennis...you knew he was that good. Or at least had great performances in the holster from time to time. This one.. this is singular is it's weirdness... it's uniqueness.

I'm gonna move on, because you get my point. Ledger makes this movie more than a Comic Book Movie. He makes it a movie. Comparable to every Flags of our Fathers, and American Beauty, and The Last Emperor. He brings it out of it's genre and makes this movie something even more.

Second, Aaron Eckhart

No one is talking about Aaron Eckhart. That is a tragedy, because the guy is always great.. (See "Thank You for Smoking" some time, and tell me something different.) Harvey Dent is a tough character to play. In the first part, he's almost TOO good. He's too clean. He's too virtuous. That's hard to make interesting. He really does. Then there's the transition to Two Face, who is almost TOO evil. Too unbalanced. Too cruel. You could argue otherwise, what with the coin flipping fairness and all, but the disappointed look in his one good eye when the coin saves someone from his gun is all you need to see. That's tough to play too... When a character is so insane that there's no root in reality, it's hard to identify. That's what makes Ledger's portrayal so stunning. There's literally NO sanity in the Joker, but somehow what he says starts to make an odd sense.

Eckhart does that same thing. He makes the gallant White Knight side of Harvey Dent someone you root for, and someone that you can understand Bruce Wayne believing in, in spite of his personal feelings toward the girl between them. It makes the turn into the utterly unredeamable Two Face all the more tragic...you know that somewhere deep in his brain is the same guy...but it was corrupted by the depth of cruelty that was the Joker. It's too far gone. But you still hope it's there somewhere. I found myself really caring about this. I'm a hard person to invest in a movie.

Third, the script..

Best dialogue I've heard in a while. There are so many good lines, and good exchanges, and the story itself, while possibly needing a tiny bit of trimming was gripping from beginning to end. I love the debate regarding the nature of people, and what kind of symbols they need. I love the debate it brings up regarding the troubles people get into when they throw in their lots with the unknown. It's just phenomenal.

I could really go on, and I realize this is a mostly incomplete ramble. I may take this down and replace it with more developed thoughts at some point. Those thoughts would have to materialize a little more clearly first.

Go see the movie. Marvel in Heath Ledger's performance. I'll miss him more now than I ever would have. I am officially more bummed about him than Phil Hartman. That says something.

Monday, July 21, 2008

JFK Airport; Where Hope Goes to Die

A few thoughts on my excursion to New York City on Saturday...

1) As much as I dislike the Yankees, I really have to hand it to their fans... It was a good, solid 90 degrees on Saturday, and Yankee Stadium was fucking PACKED. Most people wore Yankee gear (or Anti-Red Sox gear) and they were into every pitch. Even from where we sat (not close by any stretch), the fans were tuned in. I have to admire that, especially when compared with the mostly well informed, but entirely too passive fans of Cincinnati.

2) I know that it's not exactly a revelation, but every time I'm in a big city like New York or Chicago, I'm struck by how ethnically diverse they are. I mean... There was one point on the subway (we spent a lot of time on the subway) where I looked around the train and thought "Wow.. there are more ethnicities represented on this one train than would be represented in a week of walking around downtown Cincinnati." There's something very appealing about the experience of walking down the street and smelling shish-kabob and hearing the pan flute. Or Falafels and Maracas. (That's a good name for an improv troupe... "Falafels and Maracas". )

3) There is really nothing like sitting in Yankee Stadium (now that I've been there, I'm even more bummed they're getting rid of it) and sipping on a cold beverage and eating a Nathan's Hot Dog. True, my cold beverage was a diet coke (in a souvenir cup that eventually became the most annoying souvenier ever) and my "eating a Nathan's Hot Dog" was really just two bites of the one by dad bought. Still... Best Hot Dog I've ever eaten.

4) WHY? Why in the world do those people need more money badly enough to tear down a stadium so full of history? Babe Ruth played right field there (right in front of where I sat.) Lou Gehrig gave his speech there. The Pope said mass there (actually... THREE Popes). Roger Maris. Louis vs. Schmeling. Just kinda bums me out.

5) Finally... JFK International Airport. God damn this place. So many things that could be said, but I'll just say this... There should never be that many pissed off people in one place at one time. Not ever. I honestly felt like Harry Potter dealing with the dementors, where he says that he felt like he'd never be happy again. There was a point where there were 9 flights all scheduled to board from the same tiny gate. All 9 flights were delayed at least 2 hours. No one from Delta was saying a word. There had to have been 300-400 people sitting/standing/near-rioting at this one gate, and I was so edgy that I felt like I could lose it at any minute. You couldn't hear ANYTHING. The display boards were completely useless as they still listed a flight that had departed an hour before as "Boarding" and none of the other 9 flights were listed at all. It was absolute fucking chaos. Anarchy was moments from breaking out. It reminded me of that scene in the bad Tom Cruise remake of War of the Worlds where every person in New York is trying to leave the city via the same tiny road.

6) Once on the flight, I sat next to a very friendly girl. At some point during the 45 minutes our plane sat on the tarmac with the engines off, waiting for the TWENTY planes ahead of us in line to take off, she pulled out a bottle of Dr. Pepper and opened it. I was then sprayed full in the face, shirt, and pants with exploding Dr. Pepper. The only thing that redeems that from being just another miserable moment from the JFK Airport is that she was soaked even worse than me, and it sort of became a bonding experience. Certainly made for fun conversation the rest of the flight back to Indianapolis.

7) Oh yeah.. Indianapolis... I forgot to mention... So we get to the airport for our flight to Cincinnati, and we were looking pretty good on the standby list, as there were something like 4 people listed for the flight, and 87 seats were available. By some strange twist of fate, that plane had a "mechanical issue" and the entire flight was canceled. Color me shocked... a trip with a half-empty 757 was canceled due to "mechanical issues". I guess that's probably true if the "mechanical issue" was the "the plane can not mechanically function if the airline can't afford the fuel to fly it." So in any case, that added 4 hours to our time at the airport, and not only that, but because of the 100 or so inconvenienced PAYED passengers that needed to get to Cincinnati now that their flight was canceled, we couldn't get home. So we had to fly to Indy. Awesome.

Really though, it was an awesome time, and I'd do it again.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

To Tattoo or Not to Tattoo

I kinda love that title.

In any case, Hey Folks!

I have been notoriously bad about gifts for my sister for her birthday or for Christmas or whatever. It's not that I don't love her, because I definitely do, but money's sometimes tight, or I don't see her right on the day or basically other bad excuses.

Well, when she turned 18, I told her that I would purchase her a tattoo, and that I would get a matching one. She really liked that idea, and so we planned on it. It's now 2 years later. I finally have a little bit of money, or at least...enough money to purchase completely frivolous things like tattoos. So, about a week ago, I told her that it was time, and we got together to talk about what we'd like to get. (It not necessarily having to match, but at least be cohesively themed.) We got together on Sunday and talked it over. After some discussion about initials or horses or some such, we came upon the idea of Koi fish.

Why Koi Fish? Well... A number of reasons I guess. We both liked the idea of doing a traditional type tattoo, and Koi are pretty traditional. Some people would say that "Traditional" in this case is code for "Common", and maybe there are a lot of Koi tattoos around, but we also really liked the symbolism of the Koi. It represents perseverance, family, loyalty...those kinds of fun things. I mean... I'll be honest, there hasn't been a lot that she and I have had to "persevere" over together, though we all have stuff individually, right? Still... "Family" and "Loyalty" are good things. Plus, there's a huge amount of variation that can go into a Koi fish, which gives us a modicum of individuality within our cohesive theme.

So anyway, I have a friend from my Starbucks days named Sarah, and she dates a REALLY good tattoo artist. He's a good dude too, so I figured I may as well give him my business. It's kinda hard to argue with the "nice and extremely talented" combination. So tonight Briana (sister) and I (and her boyfriend Drew) went out to Milford to meet up with Jake (the artist) and talk to him about placement, price, and style. After talking for a bit, I settled on a black, blue, and white fish (the colors that, when in Koi form, represent the 'masculine') and Briana chose something a little softer with Reds and Pinks (feminine).

I gotta tell you... I'm really excited. We don't have our appointment for a couple of weeks. (Jake is both busy and not often there), but I think it's gonna be pretty awesome.

I hope Briana likes her 18th birthday present... 2 years late.

Didn't really have that much to say tonight, so you're stuck with the details of my tattoo preparation. My bad.

Below is a drawing by Chris Garver from Miami Ink. It's...a Koi Fish.




Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A blessing and a curse

Tonight was my friend Bill's birthday. (Hi Bill!). We went to an Irish bar, had fun playing with party favors, and then went to Game Works, which is sort of an arcade for adults. I mean... they don't ban kids from being there and there's not naked games or anything like that, but they do serve alcohol and whatnot. So anyway, while I was there, I realized something about myself...

I am the most unmarketable talented person ever. By this, I mean that I have certain skills that are far more developed than they reasonably should be, and yet these skills have little to no real-world application. Allow me to provide examples...

1) Pop-a-Shot.
I am the best pop-a-shot player I know. I go on crazy streaks where I beat all challengers for 8-10 games at a time before my arm gets too tired from the ass-whooping I'm handing out. On my birthday, I beat these 3 teenagers who were talking a lot of trash about the chubby white boy. Not only did I beat them. I beat them badly. Today I won 9 out of 10 games, including a 58 point game where the next best competitor had 27. Now... you'd think I was a good basketball player (a marketable skill) and I'm not BAD. I mean...I can shoot just like most white kids of Jewish descent. I've got a sweet stroke, but that doesn't matter because I can't run. I can't jump. I can't play defense. I'm not a good ball handler (that's what she said.) So basically, unless there's a competitive H.O.R.S.E league starting up soon... My pop-a-shot skills do me no good. You can't even win prize tickets at it.

2) Water drop noises.
I always joke that I learned how to make the water droplet noise while in Spanish class my junior year. Well...that's actually true. I sat in the back of class, determined to teach myself how to do it, and after hundreds and hundreds of fruitless flicks to the face, I'd mastered it. Is it a neat parlor trick? Yes. Could I be a stand-in for the Mac Error Noise? Yes. Is it fun to make babies laugh? Yes. Can this go on a resume? Maybe an acting one, but other than that? NO. Same goes with the "Whistle-Hum". It sounds awesome, but unless I'm trying to fool a 7 year old into thinking that I control the elevators in my building, this also has little practical use.

3) Finger tricks.
Another great party trick, but aside from the glee I feel when I really really gross someone out, what good does it do? Well... aside from the ones you may be able to better imagine if you could see them....Ladies.... ehem. In any case, my ability to dislocate my thumbs, or twist my right ring finger all the way around, or flap that finger around like it's dead, or show my loose knuckle joints, or any one of another 20 things....those things get me exactly jack. It's not funny enough to get on some talent show. It's not gross enough to be in Ripley's, and even if it were... are those things in which to aspire?

4) Limitless wealth of trivial knowledge.
I know...I could go on Jeopardy...well...it's not that simple. I am certain that were I to get on the show, I'd at least hold my own. I know there's a lot that goes into it, like timing and whatnot, so I would never be so bold as to make a prediction (for this entirely imaginary act), but I know I'd do well. Certainly not embarassing. So...aside from the one game show that rewards us trivia freaks...what can I do with the Elmer Gantrys and Quetzalcoatls and Wyoming Toads that are floating around in my brain? Nothing. It's just information for the sake of information, which isn't a BAD thing, but it certainly is useless. About the best I can hope for is to get into the Cash Cab with 60 blocks to go. The odds of that are pretty staggering indeed, since I've not been to New York in 10 years, and when I go next week it'll be for a day. Let's not even get into my ridiculously complete knowledge of the secrets of Walt Disney World. There's a whole book on that somewhere. But can I remember something useful like the betting strategies for Craps when I'm going to Vegas in 2 weeks? Nope. Fuck.

5) Amazing Cunnilingus Prowess.
Seriously? What's the point? (Just seeing if you're paying attention. )

Anyone else wanna discuss their useless talents?

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Age-Old Question

Hey folks...

Tonight while hanging with my sister, who will be 21 next May, a question has arisen, and I am feeling the need to sort out my thoughts.

First, a little background. My dad and step-mom have made a sort of tradition of taking us kids (Yes...I'm 28...shut it.) on special vacations when we turn certain ages. When I turned 18, I went to New York where I saw Chicago, Ragtime, and 1776. A great trip. When I turned 21, they took me on my first trip to Vegas. When my sister turned 18 they took her (and fortunately me as well) to Disney World. So... now the time has come to start thinking about where she's gonna go next year when she turns 21. The de-facto option, and ultimately where she'll go is Vegas. Seems obvious really... I don't blame her. I love Vegas. The parents love Vegas. She's a Vegas type of chick.

Still...that got me thinking... What vacation spot do I like better? Disney World or Las Vegas?

I know that it would seem to be an obvious answer, what with my Mickey Mouse tattoo and my insanely detailed knowledge of everything about and surrouding Disney. Well... granted. I love that fucking place.

That said though... Vegas appeals to my adulty, debaucerous side as much as Disney appeals to my childlike, innocent, idyllic side. So I'm gonna try to do this scientifically...

Weather:
Orlando is pretty effing hot. Seriously. And it's humid. Las Vegas is pretty effing hot. And it's dry. So, I'd be inclined to say that Vegas wins, because sweating sucks ass, and while you sweat in both places, at least the air isn't working against you in Vegas. BUT... Orlando has days when it's NOT 90 degrees. I've been there in November, December, and January when it's absolutlely beautiful and not sweltering hot. So... DISNEY

Priciness:
Let's face it...both are pretty fucking expensive. Disney gets you on all of the hotels, entry fees, souvenirs, air-fare, and food. Vegas gets you on some of those things, but I'm gonna give the advantage to Vegas here, because while both are pricey, when last I checked, in Disney you don't at least have a shot to bring more money home than you left with. VEGAS

Kitch:
Both have unbelieveable kitch-value attractions. The Magic Kingdom is full of silly, dated attractions that are vaguely racist and offensive. Definitely misogynistic. The Carousel of Progess alone can provide a sarcastic person more material than they'd ever need. Vegas, on the other hand, may actually be the world capital of Kitch. The LIBERACE MUSEUM. Elvis' Wedding Chapel. Sigfried and fucking Roy. Celebutainers. Seriously...it's the most ridiculous (and awesome) place on earth to see cheesy things that probably were never cool, but definitely aren't cool now. Except that they ARE cool, because of how fucking sqaure they are. Get what I'm saying? VEGAS

People Watching:
This would seem to be a no-brainer, because after-all, Vegas passes out free alcohol in every casino and encourages as many drunk people to walk around in the street as possible at all hours. And yeah...that's fun and all, but let's be honest...I don't really LOVE watching drunk people after like..the first dozen. On the other hand, at Disney you have the wonderful experience of people from every foreign land you can imagine, taking in the wonders of the most homogenized American experience you'll find anywhere. The Latin ladies who are clearly in charge of their macho husbands. The weird Germanic dudes wearing what amount to be not much more than a glorified speedo. The Japanese family eating at the Japanese restaurant in Epcot, and sighing with relief at the first familiar food they'd eaten in a week. The older British couple who appears to be enjoying people watching just as much as you. True, you're unlikely to watch the beautiful Comedia d'ell Arte piece of drama unfold in front of you when the "incognito pimp" tells his "incognito ho" to "make some mo'fucking money" at Disney World, but you're unlikely to see a little child take a sloped corner a little too fast in his wheely shoes and wipe out into a topiary while in Vegas, and that's just something that can't be missed. DISNEY

Founding Visionaries:
Sammie will probably have issue with me not meaning Billy Wilkerson here, but for Vegas, I'm assigning Bugsy Siegal. For Disney..well... Disney obviously. And really that's the crux of the argument here. I realize I'm biased, but I think the most amazing thing about Disney World (Disneyland too) is that it was basically conceived by one dude. Walt Disney. The man single-handedly orchestrated the greatest public entertainment project ever created. He created the Theme Park as we know it today. His parks essentially created 2 major cities. (Anaheim and to a larger degree Orlando). I could go on about his specific ideas about marketing, and tourism, and entertainment for hours, but I won't. Just know that I'll do my best to argue for Bugsy, but he's gonna lose. Bugsy was basically a mobster who came up with a place close enough to Los Angeles to attract all of his rich friends. He didn't invent the idea of Vegas (Wilkerson did, with the legalized gambling and off-track betting), but he did sort of glamorize that, and he paved the way for Trump, and Steve Wynn, and Sheldon Adelson and you gotta hand it to whomever it was. Vegas is pretty fucking amazing. Still... Walt.. DISNEY.

Re-visit-ability
This is a hard one (that's what she said). I think that the majority of people will say Vegas is obviously more re-visitable, and they're probably right. Unless you're an insane person like me, there probably is a limit to the number of times you experience The Great Movie Ride before you know the dialogue and can critique specific performers, and that limit comes long before you can do that. With Vegas, however, things are constantly evolving. New shows, new entertainment, new hotels. And more importantly, there's SO MUCH to do that you probably could take a whole vacation and never leave the Bellagio and have a good time. It's just so fucking big. That does have an appeal. So...as much as it pains me, if I'm looking at it objectively...VEGAS

Food
This one's easy...Vegas has every restaurant that Disney does, and Vegas also has about 40 extremely high-end restaurants that Disney doesn't. There's great food at Disney, especially in the Hotels, but c'mon people... VEGAS

Family-Friendliness
As much as Food was a home run for Vegas, this category might as well have "Disney" engraved into it as part of the question. Like... "The Disney World Memorial Family Friendly Award" or something. Vegas ain't the place for tykes. In fact, one of the bid draws of Vegas is that the kids are typically few. (I venture to say, though, that if the category was about how many kids were conceived, Vegas would kill it.) DISNEY

The Verdict.
In EIGHT categories, we end up tied. I love them both. I would go to both each year if I could. The question really comes down to where I'd go if I could only go to one. And for me... It's Disney. The reason is that for whatever reason, I have this nostalgia about Disney that Vegas will never provide. I'll never forget my first trip there when I was 13 (maybe even a little too old to love it as much as I did). Still my favorite vacation I've ever had. In fact, I think it's safe to say that of the top 5 vacations I've ever had, Disney has 3. Vegas has one. My road trip is probably the other. I have so many fond memories of driving down with my family. Of seeing Epcot (E.P.C.O.T. at the time) for the first time after years of seeing Mickey waving from on top. I mean... The first game of slots I played at Ceasars Palace back in 01 was pretty fucking sweet, and Mystere is still the greatest thing I've ever seen. They just don't have the same profile in my memory.

So I'm glad I did this. It was closer than I thought. Go ahead...commence the mockery.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Salty...Not Sweet.

Okay...so...the other day, I was shopping for various items, and I was unfortunate enough to find myself in the mall which is fine when you're with other people, or when you know where you're going.

Sadly, I didn't fall into either of these two groups, and I was wandering a
little...to the point where I had that sort of dazed "the re circulated
oxygen is crushing my soul" look in my eyes. I'd just gotten off the phone
with my dad and I was passing by the kiosk area when this vaguely
attractive (though not as attractive as she thinks) girl of potentially
middle eastern descent kinda steps into my path and extends her hand in a
gesture of greeting.

Now.. If I had been paying even a lick of attention, I would have noted
right away that this is not a normal way for a stranger to behave toward
another. Again, see "dazed" above. So, dumbass me sticks out my hand and I
say "Hi, how are you?". Aaaand now she's got me.

She turns the friendly handshake of fellowship across our lands into a
death grip. My hand buckles under her clamping fist and I have no choice
but to follow her lead out of the main walking area and into the land of
"The Dead Sea". The following is a transcript of the exchange. Please
picture her speaking in an absolutely outlandish Israeli accent.

*Leading me toward her devilish workshop*
HER: Hello baby, have you even swimmed in the Dead Sea?

ME: Uh...no..look I...

HER: Do you know of her healing powers? with the salt?

ME: Yeah, actually...
HER: Let me show you somethings amazing!

ME: I really don't...
* She starts buffing my middle finger nail on my right hand with some
blocky thing. Dust flies every which way. *

HER: Okay! Now you'll see how the salts from the Dead Sea, near where my
brother Yuri and me growed up can restore anything!

ME: Wow...yea. Okay...
*She finishes doing whatever the heck to my finger and still won't release
me. *

HER: Promise not to screams when you see?

ME: No. I may screams.

HER: Heheeheeeee YURI! He says he may screams.

YURI: *Something inaudible and grumpy*

HER: Look at your beautiful finger!

ME: *screams*
*My nail is super shiny and looks like it's been polished. My one nail.*

HER: Isn't that amazings?!

ME: Yeah, it's..wow. I really have to go. I'm meeting someone in 3 minutes.
(I wasn't, of course, but she wouldn't let go of my hand.)

HER: Now, let me show you one more thing! Yuri, bring me the man lotion!

ME: The man lot....
*She immediately starts rubbing this weird hand lotion all over my captive
hand. babbling about dead sea salt, sloughed skin, and whatever else pops
into her mind. *

HER: Now...how much would you pays for allllll thiiiisssss?

ME: I really don't know...I have to go.

HER: Wait now! I'll give you this, and this, and this...a packages that
usually we sell for 79.95. I'll give you 2 whole packs for 59.95!

ME: That's a really great deal, but I don't really need any of this

HER: How about 39.95? FOR TWO!

ME: I'm sorry...I can't right now...

HER: YURI! *speaking in Hebrew for a moment* OKays! I'll give you 2 whole
packs for only 29.95. Thats the best deals I've ever gived!

ME: I'm sorry. I can't. I am late now!

HER: Okay goodbye!
*She abruptly releases my hand and turns away.*

Monday, July 7, 2008

Boo Fucking Hoo

Alright, so things are happening in my life that are totally bumming me out (a phrase that I seem to be using more and more frequently.) In any case, I'm an asshole, because things are actually pretty good, and even the good things are bumming me out. Let me list the ways:

1) I auditioned for 2 plays this past week. I have an acting degree, but since I'm employed in a "real job" and not a professional actor anymore, I actually hadn't auditioned for a show of any kind for almost 2 years. It'd literally been since August of 2006. Well... my schedule changed (I'll get to that in a sec), so I now have the freedom to perform again. Great right? Yeah. So...I pick 2 shows to audition for...one in the Fall(Noises Off), and one in the Spring (Messiah on the Frigidaire). So I go on Tuesday for Noises Off, it goes well, and I think I've got a pretty good shot. I go on Wednesday for MOTF and again...things go well. I'm especially excited about that one, because there are a couple of people I've wanted to act with for a while, and I figure I'll get the chance.
I know it seems like I'm gonna say I'm bummed because I didn't get cast in these shows. You'd be incorrect if that was your guess. In fact, I got in BOTH shows. I was cast as Lloyd in Noises Off. The LEAD. And awesome as that is... I'm bummed. Why? Because I didn't get the part I wanted in the other show. Waaaa waaaaa. I'm such an asshole. There are people who audition for 20 shows a year with the hopes of getting in 1, and I am 2 for 2 and I find shit to bitch about.

2) Work's been crazy lately for a couple of reasons. Still, you should be aware that it's been crazy because of my promotion. Or... I'm sorry.... "Job Restructuring" to provide me more responsibility, and a different job title, and other things. Thta's good right? Welllll....I'm sure I can find some fault with it... The thing is...it's been kinda stressful. The schedule has changed, so I'm no longer on a 4 day work week. I no longer have 3 days off in a row. I have to drive to work one more day a week. Oh...and a dude I thought was my friend seems to be upset with me about it. I know... I'm upset because a dude who wasn't "restructured" and whose schedule has been changed to accommodate MY "restructuring" isn't busting with glee at the changes. I have it so fucking hard, huh?

Oh...and now I'm talking to a pretty cool lady (literally talking...not that code where "talking" means "sort of dating") who actually seems to enjoy talking to me, and instead of just enjoying the conversation and being my fun self, I am a huge downer because I'm stewing about this other shit that has nothing to do with her. Smooooth.

So I guess the moral of this blog, which may very well be deleted by tomorrow, is that I seem to be able to find negatives in what should be positive sitatuations. I'm in two plays that I wanted to be in. I'm being "positively restructured". I'm actually not hating my social life. Nope...not good enough. I should just shut the fuck up.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

My Favorite Theory. (A reprise)

Here's another one from the vault.

Original Subject: The Theory of Artistic Masturbation
Original Posting Date: 8/30/2005
Original Posting Site: Xanga


The Theory of Artistic Masturbation.

I know...I know...it sounds so scandalous, but really it isn't. I had a professor in college who told me that all literature was based on a combination of 3 things: Sex, Death, and Food. The more I thought about it, the more I realized he was right. Look back at all of the great works of literature in the history of the world, and you'll realize it's true...Hamlet? All three. The Odyssey? All three. The Bible? All Three...(I can defend if necessary.)

My theory has little to do with any of those things on a literal level, but I do believe that giving my theory a sex-related title makes people more likely to read about it.

So...here it is:


All art falls along a spectrum. Now, please remember that this is not a value judgement. All art has value and merit in it's own way. It just falls along a line. On one end of the spectrum there is art that I like to refer to as "Masturbatory Art" and on the other end there is art I call "Hooker Art".

The premise for this concept is that all art is categorized based on the relative affect it has on it's audience and on the artist. It's really that simple.

If a piece of art is more fulfilling to the audience than it is for the artist, that art leans toward the "Hooker Art" side of the spectrum. If a piece of art is more fulfilling for the artist than it is for the audience, that art is closer to the "Masturbatory Art" side.

What is masturbation? It's an act of self satisfaction. That's it. Some would call it a sin, some would call it a necessary part of life, and for the most part, everyone is right. It's a little bit sinful, and it's a little bit necessary, and the same goes for "masturbatory art". Whether I like it, or you like it, it's necessary in it's way. The tried and true example I've always used for this side of the spectrum is performance art.

For those who don't know, performance art is a genre of art where, more often than not, the artist is the medium for the piece. For example, I once saw a performance art "installation" that featured the artist taking his clothes off, and then writing racial slurs all over himself with a thick black sharpie marker. Oh...did I mention that the stage was dark, so you really couldn't see what he was doing or what he was writing?

Well...yeah...

See...this is what I'd call artistic masturbation. The artist trying to make himself feel better about the world, and trying to convince himself that he was deep and meaningful, and the audience being a true outsider to both the reasoning and the process. This was for him and him alone, and it really didn't matter if there even was an audience, because it's not for them anyway. It was a solitary act of...artistic catharsis, and it really isn't for me to interpret anyway.

Perhaps my favorite example of Masturbatory Art occured while I was visiting an artist friend of mine in Chicago. His name is Paul. He and I were walking toward his dorm in downtown Chicago, and we passed by this homeless person who was panhandling for money. I reached into my pocket for some change, because this was truly the homeless-est homeless person I had ever seen. Paul stopped me and said: "Don't give her any money."

This kind of threw me a little for 2 reasons..first, Paul had always been very generous with the homeless in the past, and second, I was pretty sure that the homeless person was a guy, and not a "Her" as he referenced.

I asked Paul about this, and this is what he told me: "You shouldn't give her any money, because she isn't homeless. That's a graduate student in performance art at SAIC (School at the Art Institute of Chicago), and she's doing her thesis."

Clearly this sounds crazy, but this girl got up at 6:30 every morning, put on the nastiest clothes she could find, covered herself in garbage and dirt and feces, and applied a fake beard, and commenced to pretend to be homeless for 8 hours a day. THIS WAS HER THESIS!!! For a while after this experience, I joked around about it, and I got a little indignant about it too, like "you can go to school for this? You can get a masters degree in this?" The anger has left me now, and has been replaced with appreciation, because I now have the greatest example of artistic masturbation EVER. The audience for her piece didn't even realize there was a piece. They just thought she was homeless. There wasn't any statement the audience was getting...they just got a whiff of stink. So...who benefitted from the art? Clearly, it wasn't the audience. I'm a firmly believe an audience can only appreciate art when they know there is art to be appreciated.

Now..."Hooker Art". What is the meaning of "Hooker Art"? Well, basically I had to come up with a term that would convey the polar opposite artistic value to Mastubatory art. A hooker is a person whose job, in it's entirety, is to please others, without any regard to themselves being fulfilled. I also like the second layer of meaning here, where money becomes the motivator for the artist, as opposed to the joy of making art.

In my theory, "Hooker Art" is art where the artist derives little fulfillment from the creation of that art. It's typically impersonal. Typically homogenized.

Some examples? Wedding photography, sitcoms, school portraits, pop music. "Hooker Art" is art that is ready for mass human consumption. Again, this isn't a value judgement of the artist. There are some amazing photographers who make a great living taking wedding photos, and even some of those wedding photos can be very beautiful. There is some really fun, catchy pop music. However, few wedding photographers would claim to be artistically fulfilled by it. Ask Jason Alexander (George Costanza in Seinfeld), why he did Seinfeld, and he'll say..."Well, I wasn't making any money starring on Broadway." Sitcoms are probably the most universal example of this form of art. There's nothing too deep or challenging, but the audience LOVES it, and the paycheck can't be beat. You'll see sitcom stars in other things, just absolutely killing themselves with effort, and perhaps they may get more spiritually, but nothing compares with that sitcom paycheck. Are we getting the idea?

Art for the artist = artistic masturbation

Art for the audience = artistic prostitution

Somewhere in the middle lies the ideal ground (in my opinion), where the artist and the audience both are satisfied equally. You'll often find things like "Shawshank Redemption" and The Rolling Stones and "Harry Potter" in this area. ****SEE NOTE **** The artist hasn't compromised their art, but the audience devours it anyway. I haven't found a good, universally acceptible term for the middle. As any theory, it's a theory in progress.

Ironically, since no one ever seems to read these things I write, I suppose this very essay would fall into the masturbatory category.


**** In the 3 years since I wrote this, I have since changed my mind about Harry Potter. I still like it. I'm still entertained. It's also created for the masses, and I do think Rowling compromised more than she'll admit. ****

Elevators. From the Archives

Another quality post from the past. Enjoy.

Original Subject: Beefy Muchacho's Laws of Elevator Etiquette.
Original Posting Date: 1/29/2006
Original Posting Site: Xanga


"The Beefy Muchacho's Laws of Elevator Etiquette"

1) Do NOT speak to strangers on the elevator. There are a few exceptions
a) You may speak to an attractive person in a playful manner. Careful to keep it PLAYFUL
b) You may speak to a stranger if they engage you in conversation first. They may have broken the social contract, but that doesn't give you license to be rude.

2) Do NOT take the elevator up only one floor. There are a few exceptions
a) If you are crippled or injured in some way, you may use the elevator. I mean...I'm not heartless.
b) If you are carrying something that is 20 pounds or heavier, you may use the elevator.

3) Do NOT take the elevator DOWN either one OR two floors. The same exceptions apply as in Law #2.

4) If you are in a conversation with someone and your respective destinations are different floors, choose 1 of those floors and get out to finish the conversation.

5) Do NOT stand in front of the elevator while people who are currently ON the elevator are trying to exit. (This is so damned annoying. How is it any different than standing in a doorway, blocking the way out for others. Just wait your fucking turn).

6) Do NOT, if you are on the 2nd Floor of a building, press the "Down" button and then take the stairs if one of the elevators don't immediately open. This causes all of the elevators to end up on the 2nd floor, a place where it should never be in the first place.

7) Do NOT hold the elevator door open while you complete a conversation outside the elevator. It's nice that you don't have to be somewhere, but other people might.

Okay...that's all I have to say about the elevator codes for now. Please...for the love of Pete, take the damned stairs folks. PLEASE.

The Car Chronicles (A re-post)

Hey Folks-

These 2 posts comprise my experience of buying a new car last November. Enjoy.

Dan

Original Subject: My Car is _____
Original Posting Date: 11/3/2007
Original Posting Site: Xanga and MySpace


My Car is _________
If you said any of the following, you'd be correct:

A constant disappointment
A cesspool (apparently)
A bitch
An embarassment
Slower than a snail in January (assuming the snail has not actually frozen to death)
Expensive (to maintain)
Slowly killing Dan.
Mocking me.
Dan's least favorite reminder of his extremely awesome grandfather.
On thin fucking ice

There are more.

So yeah...my car has been in the shop twice now in the past week. Once by the hand of Jiffy Lube, who decided to start poking at the hoses with a sharp stick or something. I guess because they were tired of scraping the scabs off of their arms with the straight razors. Yes..that happened.

And now once, by it's own hand (apparently). My car has simply decided it no longer wants to live, so it's going to just start spitting out parts until I relent and assume a car payment again. I guess it noticed it had 100,000 miles on it, and felt that was enough.

I would like nothing more than to take pity on old Simon the Silver, but I kinda like having money. I guess since I'll no longer be spending money on food coming up, that I'll have some extra cash., and that I should just suck it up.

Fuck.
__________________________________________________________________
Original Subject: R.I.P. Simon the Silver
Original Posting Date: 11/7/2007
Original Posting Site: MySpace

Ladies and Gentlemen, this entry is a final ode to my car. It's long and rambling and not that poetic, but it needs to be said.

The Story of Simon the Silver.

I take you back to Thanksgiving of '01. I was feeling...overextended, and as a result...kinda queasy. I'd been at a fancy dress-up dinner at a country club where my aunt decided to add President Bush to the pre-dinner grace. It was like the most clinical Thanksgiving I'd ever had. I left early to shower and change clothes before going over to Bridget's family's gathering in Kentucky. (Was that a double possessive?)

When I get to my Dad's; he, Dee Anne, and my grandpa are just finishing their meal and are chatting. I change and shower and get ready to go and I stop to say hello to grandpa (who'd at this point had a few glasses of wine). My grandpa and I had a good relationship, and in some ways I think I was the only person he ever was able to talk to after my grandma died. (Yeah, I AM a narcisist. Why do you ask?) Anyway, he always asked me about my cars, because I sort of notoriously had owned a couple of shitty ones. I now will recount as best as I can the full conversation (almost exactly 6 years later):

"Danny...how's your car doing?"

"It's fine. Wanna buy me a new one" (I said fully in jest)

"How much do you need?"

"How much what?"

"How much money would you need to buy a new car?"

"I don't think I understand the question."

"How much money does a new car cost?"

"I dunno...Dee Anne, how much did you just buy your car for?" (She'd just bought an abomination of a bright yellow Ford Focus)

"It was around fifteen thousand" (Said Dee Anne)

At this point, my grandfather asked me to go get his coat. I did, and he pulled out his checkbook and wrote me a check for that exact amount. I honest to God had no idea what to say. I think I actually threw up. My dad told me not to do anything with it. He said we needed to wait until Grandpa was sober before we asked him if he was serious. Turns out he was.

So...the next week I skipped a day of school (I was a senior in college), and my Dad and I went to a few car dealers. We checked out some of the lower end new cars, and I settled on a brand-spanking-new Silver Dodge Neon.

I named him Simon the Silver. Cousin of Simon the Gold (my 1990 Mercury Sable). Nephew of Simon the Red (1988 Sable and first car).

In the next 6 years, I drove the hell out of him. I drove him to Chicago twice. To Nashville. To Cooperstown. To Cleveland and Bloomington and Indianapolis. I drove him for the following shows:
Twelfth Night, The Civil War, Rocky Horror Show, Richard II, Blue Jacket, Jacob Marley's Christmas Carol, Comic Potential, Godspell, H2SIB, Barefoot in the Park, The Bible Abridged. Ragtime, 1940's Radio Hour, Children of Eden, Of Mice and Men, 42nd Street, Proof, Complete Works, and Seussical. (I feel like I'm missing one or two).

I was driving him when I realized I was in love. I was driving him when I found out my grandpa died. I drove my cousin to my other grandpa's funeral. I drove him on my first dates with several girls. I drove him to my first and last days at all of my post college jobs. Teaching. Support Central. Time Warner. DAE. I drove Pippin home for the first time. And Disney (the cat). I drove him to my first apartment. To the first home that I bought.

In short. Simon the Silver saw my last 6 years first hand, and he rarely let me down.

The last few months were hard for Simon. He didn't like living in Covedale and working in Erlanger. A big hill each way. He hated Warsaw and hated the cut in the hill more. Never was his power (or lack thereof) so evident as in the last few months when more and more I'd curse his hesitancy and shyness. I'd get angry at his greedy gas guzzling. I said some pretty nasty things to old Simon. Still, the poor guy powered through and hit 100,000 miles a few weeks ago. He had heart.

This brings us to last Wednesday. A week ago. I had a couple of hours before an appointment, so I took Simon to Jiffy Lube for an oil change and a new headlight. No biggie. I even authorized a radiator flush, which turned out to be the fateful decision. They broke the radiator, and over the next 4 days Simon decided he'd had enough. He'd rally, then he'd fail.

On Sunday, I knew. I went to pick him up, and his wipers wouldn't stop. He passed out when I turned on his headlights. He'd rev up all the way, but not go into drive. It was the final gasps of a dying car. I decided then that it was time to let him go. To pull the plug. I called my dad. I told him. I canceled my trip to Denver. I made arrangements.

Today was the day. (Tuesday). I drove Simon the Silver for the last time, as we took a trip to 32 Ford in Batavia. I sang along to Once on this Island. I didn't think about the end.

As I was driving my new (to me) car options, my mind would occasionally shift back to Simon. He was small, but he was comfortable. More comfortable that the Grand Prix that I drove. Probably more comfortable than the Taurus. I knew that car with my eyes closed. Sure...he leaked. He shook over 60 mph. He blew tires like a hooker blows truckers. But he got me where I needed to go.

Anyway, as I took the small box of personal items out of him and removed the antenna topper, I realized I may never see him again. I stopped and patted him on his roof and said goodbye. And I thanked him. I know that's really weird. In fact, looking at the words now, I question whether I should tell people I thanked a weak, broken car. An inanimate object. Well, I did thank him. And I meant it.

I sincerely hope that my new car, a 2001 Honda Accord (4 doors, manual transmission) will serve me as well. It's faster and cleaner and nicer. I hope he has as much heart.

Now I just need a name. Any thoughts?

Highlights of Muchacho Blogs Past

Original Title: A Thank You Note to God
Original Posting Date: 12/27/07
Original Posting Site: Myspace

Hey folks!

So, it's been an interesting holiday. Not great (I missed the Steps), but not bad (I had a nice day with my mom, and saw a few good movies). One thing that did happen made me pretty damned sure that not only does God exist, but that he loves me the most.

Take a moment to take that in. I am The Big G-Unit's favorite. Suck on that Humanity!

Why this sudden realization? Sit back, grab a cold beverage, and let me spin you a tale.

So, last week I went to the movies at Cincinnati Showcase Cinemas in Norwood. For those of you who don't know, the place is pretty old school, and also my favorite of the Cincinnati movie theaters. It doesn't have the stadium seats or the gourmet food or whatever, but it has a certain color, and the seats are comfy. Whatever. It's also super close to my new place, and I like taking a few hours of a day off to sort of chill by myself and catch up with my movie watching.
This week, it's around 1 in the afternoon, and I'm going to see I Am Legend. Oh...the last thing you really need to know as setup is that this theater has a drop off lane that is separated from "Parking Lot Proper" by a 5 foot wide curb with a break in the middle and bushes lining it on both sides of the break, which you can walk through. This is very important, so picture it starting NOW.

I park my car and I approach the theater. As I near the little separator curb, a doofy, somewhat pudgy (I know..I'm one to talk. Shut it), 17ish teen wearing a Chad Johnson jersey approaches from the other direction, coming out of the theater. He's striding with a vague purpose...I mean...it's more like really heavy skipping, but he's on the move and feeling good about himself. He heads toward the little curb and sort of tries to...I dunno...leap it? It's hard to say, because whatever it was he was aiming for, he failed so miraculously... Basically he sort of tried to leap the entire 5 foot wide curb, and he misses. His foot hits the far end of the curb and he falls.

It's not the falling itself that makes it super awesome, but the way he falls..like...you know how when YOU fall, you sometimes feel like you're falling in slow motion? As though God wants to give you the chance to see all of the ways you could stop yourself from looking like a goon, if only you were athletic and quick enough to reach out and catch something, or adjust. Well, you're not any of those things, so instead you just fall super slowly.

For the first time in my life, someone else fell super slowly, almost as though God wanted to show me how awesome the fall I was witnessing was, and he wanted me to take note. So the kid falls in slow-mo and his feet are still up on the curb, and his body and face are like...lying flat in the road, but he fell so slowly, that you can almost see every inch of his body make contact separately from every other inch. I can't explain it any other way, and I can honestly say that I'm so grateful....

Still, there's more.

As the doofy kid starts to get up, his face is absolutely drenched. Literally dripping. I look around and I don't see a puddle, and it hasn't even been raining. I can't figure out why he's so wet. Then I see it. Apparently the kid was trying to smuggle a can of Mt. Dew into the movies. As he fell, the can tumbled out of his pocket and pierces itself on the ground, stands straight up on the curb, and is straight up spraying the kid in the face. Not a little. Not sort of in his face area. IN HIS FACE. Like it's on purpose. And the bestest thing of all is that the can is jjuuuuuussssst out of reach. He's tilted downward on the curb, and he's reaching for this can and the whole time he's getting sprayed by a seemingly endless stream of Dew. Finally, after what seems like minutes, but must have only been seconds, he manages to knock it over and it rolls away (spraying him still as the can makes each rotation.)

I half-assedly asked the kid if he's okay, because clearly I am almost exploding right now in my brain. Also, he probably doesn't want much attention brought to him. So he grunts that he's fine, and he heads toward his car to, I suppose change his coat (because he ended up back inside, in my movie).

So, with that, I'd like to write a short thank you to the Big G. The Main Maker.

Dear God-

Thank you so much for my Christmas present. I know it was for me, because it was so fucking awesome, and also because I was the only Earthly witness to this great cornucopia of physical comedy. You made me witness to a pratfall so wonderful that it could never be naturally recreated realistically enough to be believable. Thank you for giving me such a great gift, and showing me that not only do you exist, but how I am obviously your fave.

You're the best.
Dan

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Getting to Know You (well... Me)

Hey Folks (as of now "Folks" may not actually BE anyone. I am just going to assume that as my blog sweeps the nation, people will want to read past posts, and they'll feel more included if I say "Folks" as opposed to...well...something less inclusive.)

Wow... a whole parenthetical paragraph right off the bat. Strap on your seatbelts. I am out of control.

Anyway, I feel that I should tell you a little bit about myself. With that, I bring you:

The Beefy Muchacho's 10 Most Important Facts About Himself!

-- I have a B.A. in Drama from Thomas More College. I am literate, even though I colleged in Kentucky. I do contribute to society, even though I am also a shiftless actor. Oh..and I often feel like a sellout, and will perhaps discuss that very thing right here.

-- I am pretty much the epitome of "Nice Guy". This is not a thing to brag about. I think a lot of people confuse "Nice" and "Pussyish". Probably for good reason. Listen ladies...I want to be a dick. I just feel too bad after. I'm fielding suggestions. I am starting to think I need someone literally telling me how to behave. Like effing Cyrano.

-- I have a really terrible mouth. Like...really terrible. You'll note in the previous paragraph I said "effing". This is not to censor myself. I have no issue saying "fuck". In fact, I say it often. I just think "effing" is funny. Some people say that using profanity is lazy, because there are better words. Those people can go fuck themselves.

-- I am a snob. It's true. I embrace it. I am (in my mind) someone who is awesome enough to judge others. That's just how it is. I said earlier that I'm a nice guy, and that's true. But I can also be fairly critical. It's not personal. If I see my friend in a show...they may not like to hear my opinion. Of course, it helps that I typically don't befriend untalented people. So feel special!

-- I have had a ton of jobs, and at least one of them will almost always be applicable for an anecdote. Before I'd graduated college I'd worked at a camp, delivered pizza, worked for 2 different Blockbusters, made sandwiches at Subway for 3 years, been in several professional theatre productions, torn tickets at a movie theater, done golf course maintenance, worked at the Zoo for 2 years, made bagels, worked retail for Warner Brothers, and bartended. I value all of the experience I've gained. People may think that the 6 months of pouring coffee at Starbucks would be somehow below them, but few places have prepared me for dealing with assholes better than The Bux. And I've never worked with more people that I'd wanted to, and have, become friends with. Good people.

-- I have 2 heroes in my life. My Dad is one. He may read this, so I'm just gonna say that he's the best person I know. I hope that I can one day be half as accomplished, half as generous, half as kind as him. The other hero is Walt Disney. In my opinion, no person has ever shaped popular culture more than he did in the 20th Century. He INVENTED feature animation. He INVENTED the modern theme park. He basically created 2 whole cities. (Orlando and Anaheim). Before him, they were swamps and orange groves respectively. He was a true innovator. An artist. A visionary. If I could meet one person living or dead, he's who I'd pick. No question.

-- This is sort of an extension of #5, but I LOVE Disney. I mean... I love it. I love the artistry of the old movies. I love the parks. I love the absolute capitalistic commercialism. I know that makes me a bit of a Republican (I'm really not), but I don't care. The way I see it...there are 2 primary goals of the company. 1) Make artistically interesting movies. 2) Make boatloads of cash in order to justify potentially disappointing box office results for the products of goal #1. I think #1 is addressed these days mostly by the Pixar division, but God-Damn is it addressed. Has Pixar made a bad movie? #2 is addressed by the High School Musicals and Hannah Montanas and whatnot, and I'm good with that.

--I had bypass surgery nearly 6 months ago (will be 6 months on the 9th of July) and I have, as of today, lost 146 pounds. I only mention this, because a blog may include discussion of vomiting, or my insides exploding, or even food related daydreams I have. This will make more sense if you keep in mind that I am in a perpetual state of hunger and deprivation. I do not complain about it...I brought it on myself. Just another piece of the puzzle.

--I have an up-and-down relationship with my mother. I love her. I think she's one of the 5 smartest people I know. (That's a fun, and possibly divisive blog right there.) She's got a great heart. I also think she's totally insane and sometimes completely irrational and narcisistic. I probably don't help the situation sometimes, and I'll own that. In any case, it's volatile sometimes, and that will probably come up occasionally.

-- I'm perpetually torn between my desire for different types of lives and loves. I desperately want to move away from Cincinnati. I have for years. Florida is a constant option in my mind. Dallas came up briefly this Spring. Denver. Chicago. Las Vegas. That said, I also love it here. It's the only home I've ever known (aside from a couple of Summers in Summer Stock). Almost everyone I love is here. I also wrestle with the pull of art, of theatre versus the pull of my full time job. My security. My lack of confidence that somehow prevents me from just going and doing. This is why, as I mentioned earlier, I feel like I sellout sometimes. I think I've got the ability to go and do and be wherever I want. On the other hand, I have a good, secure corporate job that I really enjoy and well...it's comfortable. I'm a pussy basically. (Like how it all comes around again and again?)

So...that's me. Or at least a snapshot. If you asked me to come up with the same list tomorrow, I wouldn't be at all surprised if many of these didn't appear. I'm mercurial. One thing you can be certain of is that these topics will all appear in my blog at one time or another. Well..these topics...and cunnilingus.