The “Screw You Guys and Your Ideas” Project – The Berenstain Bears

At first glance this friend-suggested topic seems like a metaphorical kick of sand to the face — “You asked for it, now you’re going to get it, with your stupid everything and your stupid blog. Eat beach, nerd!” *rides off on boogie board*

How could I possibly write a handful of paragraphs about decades-old, moral teaching, children’s books…have you met me? I have the morals of half-starved hyena. I’d hijack your plate of taquitos if I thought I’d get away with it. But, believe it or not, I actually have a history with The Berenstain Bears. Not in a “we used to go out, now things are weird” way; it’s more positive than that.  We did date, but our parting was amicable and we “like” each other’s posts on Facebook regularly. I owned several books in the 80’s, most of which came apart due to repeated use. I even wrote a sketch last year about the Bears turning into hoarders — their tree was overrun with the bodies of mangled hikers. It was not well received.

I have a handful of vivid memories about wanting to be a bear growing up inside a tree. This still seems like an ideal situation; is it too late to change career plans? How’s the Tree market these days? Bullish? But with any childhood memory, things usually appear glossier, sunnier, than they probably were. I loved those books, yes, but should I have? Were they affecting me in a positive way? Their purpose was to instill good living habits into children, like how to accept others, save money, eat healthier, and how to sing the praises of a Socialist regime. So at the surface they appeared to be doing a genuinely decent service to society. Children are essentially sponges — whatever you give them, they absorb. If my parents had given me Pride and Prejudice, odds are I’d be wearing an ascot right now. Call that an opportunity missed.

To find out if Stan and Jan Berenstain had successfully swayed my personality, I decided to reacquaint myself with my favorite of the bunch: The Spooky Old Tree. I read the life out of that book. Can’t tell you why, other than it was placed in my field of vision, and 5-year olds love things they’re allowed to touch with their Skittles-stained fingers.

Of course, I don’t have a copy laying about my apartment (pinky swear), and I’m certainly not going to buy one, so this will have to do:

If your reaction was anything like mine, then, well, you’re fucking terrified/perplexed.

That was not how I remembered it. What was the point? From what I can gather, it was to keep kids from ever going outside, “Stay at home at all times, and don’t have the courage to do things, or an alligator will EAT YOUR FACE.”

Why did I, specifically, like this book (other than because it had my name magic marker’d on the front)? My guess is that I agreed with the simple math: Stay in your room + Don’t face your fears = Don’t get mauled by a giant bear. This. Explains. Everything. Do you want to know how many times I went exploring in the woods? Zero. How often did I leave the comfort of my own house? Rarely. This book, to put it bluntly, turned me into a pussy.

Before I received this as a gift, I was probably a brave young boy. I could have grown up to be a jet pilot, a UFC fighter, or a crocodile wrestler.  But now look at me: blogging in the dark, petrified of the squirrel staring at me through the window. What does it want? Money? Retribution for some perceived slight? I’m pretty sure it’s going to choke me to death after I go to sleep. I didn’t know that was your half-eaten Watchamacallit! Put your name on it next time.

I don’t blame the Berenstains for pansifying a generation — they probably saved hundreds from dying of exposure in the forest. Things could have been worse. If they had written The Berenstain Bears Dispose a Despot, we’d have a bunch of government assassins running around. Well, that might not have been that bad. You hear me, Gaddafi? You’re lucky this went the other way. Next time.

If anything, this was a bizarre trip down memory lane. A childhood favorite, something that brought me hours of joy, has now been reduced to something I blame for my shortcomings. Thanks, guys. I didn’t need that positivity anyway.

1 Comment

Filed under Screw You Guys and Your Ideas

Deadbeat

There’s no excuse for the lack of attention given to this blog.

But I’m going to give you several anyway.

1. My online presence is off the charts, son! Between Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and my extremely active Ashley Madison account (Life is short. Have an affair.™), I just haven’t felt the need to express myself in long-form, unless that long form belonged to a married woman.

2. I got a new job in the Fall that has me racking my head trying to fill a Word document 8 hours a day. When I get home during the week, and all throughout the weekend, the last thing I want to do is stare at a blinking cursor as I attempt (read: fail) to spill out some more thought garbage.

3. Life is kind of boring. I rely on crazy happenings for ideas, and, frankly, things have been kind of Paul Walker around here. Nobody has pushed me down a flight of stairs, nor have I pushed someone down a flight of stairs. This is the longest stair-incident drought of my life; it’s unprecedented.

4. So what, who cares?

Take all these excuses, mash ’em up and turn ’em into a stew, because they’re chock full of meaty nonsense. I should have been writing more; end of story. But excuse #3 still has a smidge of validity — wanting to write doesn’t mean ideas will immediately present themselves. So I took the coward’s way out, using a page out of excuse #1’s handbook, and requested ideas through Facebook. Thankfully, I have a lot of friends that are always willing to help out. Unthankfully, I have a lot of friends that apparantly hate me. A large chunk of their suggestions could only have manifested in their unadulturated loathing of my existence. I thought we were cool; I apologized for that thing I did that one time, right? That’s what I get for giving power to the people. I should have Gaddafi’d this thing instead. I look great all robed out. 

But I knew what I was getting myself into — and this I promised you — so I’m going to go through these suggestions in the order they came in, and, hopefully, they won’t be so terrible that you print out a copy just to spit on it. Don’t do that, guys. If anything, you’re just wasting paper.

So look for Part 1 of my “Screw You Guys and Your Ideas” series in the coming days. That name I came up with all by myself, thank you very much.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Music in 2010: The Year of Ke$ha!

HONORABLE MENTIONS!

Josh Ritter – So Runs the World Away
The first three tracks on the new album from my favorite verbose Idahoan – “Curtains,” “Change of Time,” “The Curse” – are so gut-wrenching, it took me several continuous listens before I could finish the rest of the album. Sadly, it couldn’t hold up as a whole, but that start is so strong it can’t be denied.

Surfer Blood – Astro Coast
Like Weezer’s first self-titled album, if it had a little more testosterone and a little less “ooh wee oooh’s.” Fantastic use of distorted power chords and grit.

Sufjan Stevens – The Age of Adz
A wonderful mish-mash of noise, falsettos and complex orchestration. The 8-hour long (ok, 25-minute long) “Impossible Soul” is a love it/hate it closing track – I lean toward the former.

Vampire Weekend – Contra
Yeah, gurl, I’m way into Paul Simon, too. Want to take this pill and see what transpires?

She & Him – Volume Two
Sure, I’m a little Zoeey-biased, but this was somehow an improvement on Volume One. When she “uh huhs” and “mm hmms” on “Gonna Get Along Without You Now,” a million boys/men freak the fuck out. Not that I would know.

 

TOP TEN!

10. Twin Shadow – Forget

It seems like every November I stumble on an album that just dominates my earholes for the remaining weeks of the year. George Lewis, Jr., aka Twin Shadow, put out Slow at the perfect time to take that coveted slot. His Morrissey-like vocals pair up wonderfully with sullen sadboy dance music. Yes, I know, that’s not exactly breaking the mold — it’s just quality synth pop that will remind you that your life isn’t a John Hughes movie. Sad trombone.

 

9. Sleigh Bells – Treats

Noise pop is one of my favorite genres, because it just seems like an oxymoron from the get-go. Noise is just noise, amirite? No, youarenotrite. Sleigh Bells brings heavy, distorted guitars that sound like they’re about to explode, and chanting, pep squad-like, feminine vocals — two things that would drown the other in a toilet — and makes it work, to a high level. These are bouncy sing-a-longs that just happen to be very, very loud.

 

8. Deerhunter – Halcyon Digest

An endearing mish-mash of psych-rock and dream pop. The album cover is my favorite of the year, and I feel like it sums up the album quite nicely — kind of charming, kind of freaky, totally awesome. “Helicopter” is a wonderfully lush experience, like swimming with a manatee that’s totally willing to cuddle with you (simile win!).

 

7. Arcade Fire – The Suburbs

I read a review a few months back that called this Arcade Fire’s “Automatic for the People” — completely accessible and totally brilliant. I feel like this is a spot-on assessment, although I don’t think it can match up with AFTP. That album is R.E.M’s best — it just so happens to be their most radio friendly. Now, The Suburbs is a fantastic album, but it is not Arcade Fire’s best work. I’d put it below both Funeral and Neon Bible. It’s still an incredible homage to growing up in cookie cutter subdivisions, something I can totally relate to as a middle-class white boy. The crowning achievement of the album is how easily “Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)” fits in with the rest of the tracks. It’s euro-disco (see: ABBA) surrounded by anthemic Springsteen rock.

 

6. The Radio Dept. – Clinging to a Scheme

I’ve  already used up “dream pop” and “synth pop” in this list, so I guess I’ll have to describe this album as “shoegaze.” Basically, this was the year my ears lived in Partly Cloudy Drowsy Town. This album was in heavy rotation during a whole bunch of atmospheric nights spent riding on subways and walking through parks. It will put you to sleep and make you dream about girls with bangs. I should email their publicist and have that quote added to their website.

 

5. The Tallest Man on Earth – The Wild Hunt

My love for The Tallest Man on Earth, or Kristian Matsson, has grown exponentially this year, thanks to this album and an EP that subsequently followed (Sometimes the Blues is Just a Passing Bird). Matsson’s debut Shallow Grave was an incredible example that sometimes a voice and a guitar is all you need (the opposite example would be Jack Johnson *hacky sack!*). No complex instrumentation, deep production, nothing. The Wild Hunt takes this model and mostly sticks to it — only occasionally does Matsson throw in a second guitar or a piano. Ain’t broke, don’t fix, you know? Yet, somehow, this sophomore album is an improvement. At this pace, his 4th album will cure cancer (hyperbole win!).

 

4. Ben Folds & Nick Hornby – Lonely Avenue

This is a bittersweet choice for me. It is easily Ben Folds’ best album since Rocking the Suburbs — it may even be better — but it can’t be called a “Ben Folds album.” Nick Hornby wrote the words, Ben wrote the music. This was 100% a collobrative effort between the two. Does this mean he does his best work when he has a little help, a la Ben Folds Five? Ugh, probably, but let’s look past that for now. This album could have easily been a short story collection, which is not a shock, given Hornby’s profession. Each song has a character, or characters, and a story to tell. Combine that with some of Folds’ best melodies and orchestrations in a decade, and you have an instant classic. “Belinda” is the best song Barry Manilow never wrote (totally not a backhanded compliment).

 

3. Beach House – Teen Dream

DREAM POP! SHOEGAZE! ATMOSPHERE! Man, I’m starting to paint myself into a very specific musical corner, huh? But what sets Beach House apart from acts like Twin Shadow and The Radio Dept. is Victoria Legrand’s vocals. They are physically over-powering, like getting caught in a tornado. You find yourself stepping back during tracks like “10 Mile Stereo.” The driving rhythms paired with her husky voice — they just pick you up and carry you along.

 

2. LCD Soundsystem – This is Happening

Now I’m not one to dance in public — only on special occasions, like when I black out from too much boxed wine — but James Murphy’s latest puts a little spring in my footwork, no matter where I’m stepping. His lyrical combination of self-deprecation and eye-opening truisms speak to me, MAN. He gives you hope, while at the same time keeping you steeped in snarky reality. That’s hard to do. Thus, I am his disciple and I will white-boy shuffle in almost-but-not-quite perfect unison when he asks.

 

1. The National – High Violet

There’s just something about The National that — for the lack of a better term — speaks to me. When I listen to their albums, I feel involved, like these songs were my own creation. High Violet struck a very specific nerve: feeling isolated while surrounded by millions of people. Matt Berninger’s social anxiety, that lingering feeling that he could suffocate out in the open under the weight of his own thoughts, is at the forefront:

“You’d never believe the shitty thoughts I think. Meet our friends out for dinner. When I said what I said, I didn’t mean anything.” – Conversation 16

“This pricey stuff makes me dizzy, I guess I’ve always been a delicate man.” – Lemonworld

“I live in a city sorrow built. It’s in my honey, it’s in my milk.” – Sorrow

“You said I came close as anyone’s come to live underwater for more than a month.” – Anyone’s Ghost

This album is soaked in melancholy, despite it reaching new heights musically. Berninger pours his heart out with his almost mumbly baritone, while grand sounds rise and fall around him. No wonder he feels the crush of it all.

4 Comments

Filed under music

How to Make a Cop Laugh in Your Face: A Tutorial

Officers, when you put me in this position I can't do my work.

New York can be a confusing place for a recent transplant. You don’t want to look like a tourist, ripe for the picking for the thousands of nogoodniks, ruffians, and roustabouts. So you concoct this faux-bravado that should, if successful, make you appear invincible to a week-long vacation in the ICU. You walk with a purpose, defiant against those that want to stop and stare at pigeons –“Yes, that one’s black. Amazing. Now get your Tommy Bahama shirt out of my way.” You hide behind sunglasses, mean mug like someone just told you the Cheesy Gordita Crunch has been permanently discontinued, and you certainly  don’t openly wave about your gaggle of Apple products. You are local, and just like your close friends, The Wu Tang Clan, you are not to be fucked* with.

But you also don’t want this facade to turn a tame interaction into the perfect shitstorm. You want to be prepared for anything, but this can lead to something the French like to call, “le wacky situation.” An example would be, say, thinking somebody is attempting to rob you, so you react as any tough-as-nails New Yorker would: with violence. Only this person isn’t trying to rough you up. You have done something stupid. You have egg on your face. You look ridiculous. You may soon have a court date.

This was me last week. Only I decided to boost, Jamba Juice style, my wacky situation by almost physically assaulting a member of the NYPD.

I have never been in a fight. I’ve never so much as slapped a bully for getting saucy on the playground. So if I had received my very first felony for accosting a cop, the Irony Police would have been on my ass for giving them too much paperwork. This surely would have sent me spiraling toward a life of breaking into Paint Your Own Pottery stores to huff fresh acrylics. I do not deal with Job-esque trials very well. This was a close call.

I was returning from one of my usual late nights at a Starbucks near Times Square (streaming episodes of Becker on Netflix, of course), heading toward the 42nd Street subway stop. I had my headphones on — another tactic used to look unapproachable in the city — so I was not living in the land of the hearing-abled. When I reached the end of the stairs leading toward the platform, I felt a hand pushing me from behind, trying to lead me around a corner. Given that I couldn’t hear a thing, I just assumed that I was about to be shanked to bits in the darkened catacombs of the New York underground. So I pushed the hand away from my back, and spun around ready to wildly destroy a man’s holy of holies with my fists. Luckily, I wasn’t high on fresh kiln fumes and I had my wits about me, so I immediately recognized the man in blue with the shiny piece of metal attached to his chest. I shouted out, “OH, MY GOD, I COULDN’T HEAR YOU!” and waited for the warm embrace of electricity to overtake my body.

Presented immediately to my left, the very direction I was being guided, was a table for bag checks. And sitting behind the table was another cop, trying not to laugh in my face. The officer behind me just shook his head and said, “Random bag check, sir,” and walked away. I continued to apologize to the laughing man, who politely said, “Maybe don’t play your music so loud. Have a nice night,” and sent me on my way to Fresh Change of Pants Island.

Is there a moral to this story? Perhaps it is to not automatically assume that everyone in New York City wants to shatter your inner goodness. Possibly. But I’m going to go with the ever popular “Rock and Roll is the work of the devil and should be destroyed through prayer.” If I hadn’t been listening to that filth at such a dastardly volume, I never would have found myself in such a quandary. Now I’m off to watch The Food Network to count how many times someone says the word “loins.” EVERYONE KNOWS THAT PORK LOINS ARE THE CREATION OF THE GAY CHEF AGENDA!**

* Sorry, mom. For Mother’s Day this weekend, I vow to hold my curs-ed tongue.
** For the record, I’m on board with this agenda. Have you seen Brian Boitano’s show? Dude can cook!

Leave a comment

Filed under idiots, New York City

An Erotic Haiku for Henrik Sedin

Just let it happen,

It’s a huge honor to be

boned by the champ.

2 Comments

Filed under erotic haiku, hockey

The Golden Age of Television: A Haven for Sex Offenders

For decades, it’s been an unwritten truth that Richard Dawson was the molestiest of all molesty game show hosts. He blatantly smooched, groped, and flat-out accosted wives, daughters, and grandmothers on the Family Feud. This was accepted at the time, because, as we all know, women had no feelings, nor did they deserve to have feelings, in the 1970’s. But to Dawson’s credit (I guess?), he kept his lips and fingertips in a strict adults-only realm. Sure, he was a pervert, but he wasn’t a pedophile. Enter Fergie Olver, the host of a long-dead Canadian game show called Just Like Mom. I defy you to make it through the entire 2 1/2 minutes in one sitting. It took me 25 minutes to watch the whole thing:

I know. I’m sorry. But could you imagine Marc Summers doing that on Double Dare? That would give a whole new meaning to the phrase “physical challenge.”

What creeps me out the most is Olver’s wife was the creator of the show. This means she approved of this schtick. Someone needs to inspect this couple’s basement. I’m predicting a minimum of 25 human skulls and a box full of VHS tapes with Olver practicing his catchphrase “Hey, what’s this rag smell like?” on possible contestants.

3 Comments

Filed under awful shit, television

How to Turn the Subway into a Creative Outlet and Not into a Crime Scene

"Don't mind me, just keeping reading your book. I love Dan Bro...knives? What knives? Oh, these knives. *sharpens knives*

One of the main attractions of a large city, at least for me, is the subway system. There’s just something about riding in a large metal tube several feet underground that makes me absolutely giddy, and it has nothing to do with my lifelong dream of becoming a supervillian named The Trainiac. Public transportation mostly gives me the opportunity to abandon the fierce rage that boils within when I drive a car. The only time the urge to scream at my fellow man overtakes me is when I’m on the highway, most often in stopped traffic.

True story: I once yelled, “Turn signals keep you from crashing and going to hell!” at an elderly woman. Sure, my windows were up and she couldn’t hear me, but Jesus could, and that doesn’t bode well for my chances of becoming an angel. Papa wants those wings, so driving needed to become a thing of the past. So for both the betterment of my mental health and my “eternal soul,” I sold off my car and moved to the land of cheap(ish) transit.

Of course, I’m not trying to argue that people don’t hulk out on the subway on a daily basis, because, believe me, they surely do. On certain lines at certain times, you’ll find cars packed to the brim, bits of people rubbing where they shouldn’t be rubbing, and in an instant, someone will blurt out, “I COULD JUST KILL A MAN!” That’s when I apologize meekly and slink out onto the platform. I jest, of course, but the only reason this doesn’t actually happen is because I’m not in the safety of my own personal vehicle. Anyone in a family sedan can find the cajones to scream out a window if the fear of a violent retribution doesn’t exist, but having an outburst in a crowd full of crankies, some of whom are carrying shivs? That’s when common sense overtakes the power of hulkamania.

In my time here, I’ve slowly developed a method for avoiding peculiar interactions (read: getting molested) on the train. This is for people like me that do not like to read while in motion. Sorry, nerds, I get headaches, so burying your face into a book is not an option for prolonging awkwardness/death. My method is threefold:

First, do not make eye contact with anyone. I don’t care who they are — an 80-year old woman carrying a purse full of yarn or a teenager with eyeball tattoos — you just never know who will peer into your very soul at first glance.

Second, select a spot either above or below to direct your gaze. This means either involuntary signing up for online technical school, thanks to superbly designed advertisements, or developing a shoe fetish. I’ve chosen the latter. Sure, I could earn another useless degree, but becoming intimately familiar with the entire line at Shoe Carnival? You can’t put a price on that kind of education. You gain this profound knowledge, because dozens of pairs of shoes are presented before you in a nice, little row — an urban vegetable garden of sorts — except this one grows orthopedic nursing shoes. Edible? Your call, boss.

Lastly, having chosen your target, do whatever you can to maintain your focus. Sing a song, list off the starting lineup of the Harlem Globetrotters (don’t forget El Gato!), use the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh to achieve Nibbana, you know, whatever works for you. Personally, I like to use writing exercises. This means taking your surroundings, whatever you see or hear, and turning them into something original, like a joke or a story. Effective, beneficial, nerdy — it gets the job done. My favorite? Without taking into account the people attached to them, create a character based on whatever shoe you see at the moment. Where has that shoe been? What has it seen with its shoe eyes? Does it have scars/scuff-marks? This may sound ridiculous at first — mostly because it is ridiculous — but it really does help get those stubborn creative juices off the futon and into action. To help illustrate that I’m not completely batshit, here’s what I came up with on my commute this afternoon:

What I see: A size 17 Reebok basketball shoe, visibly worn, originally white with red fringe, but now more of a beige.

What’s its story: This shoe has seen the floor of dozens of college gyms throughout the country. It has become very familiar with the floor, because it rarely moves more than a few inches off the ground. This shoe is attached to a former Division II college basketball player named Sergei, a 37-year old, 7’2″ Slovakian with a dream — to play for the New Jersey Nets. Sergei and his Reeboks have been through a lot: thousands of line sprints, rebound attempts, posterizations by more athletic players, the works. But they do not give up. After every slamajama humiliation, they pick themselves up off the floor and run back on offense. They will impress the scouts. They will make the league before their 40th and 19th birthdays. So they will continue to play garbage time minutes for D-League teams throughout the country. It is destiny, even if Sergei is starting to get liver spots on his legs and the Reeboks smell like death tastes. It shall be done!

Now I have a character with a background to work with. This could be an amusing story, yes? Just agree with me, for argument’s sake. Instead of getting into a staring contest that can only end in tears with a smelly guy wearing ancient gym shoes, I created something. Win/win, if you ask me. Of course, it didn’t occur to me that staring at someone’s feet and suddenly starting to cackle like a lunatic might be a little unsettling for a select few. This is still a work in progress, so if you get smashed to bits utilizing one of my methods, expect a full refund within 5-7 working days (The unemployed don’t have working days, suckers!).

Leave a comment

Filed under New York City, writing

This Day is NOT Going Well

I’m 13 blocks away from a Double Down. This is an unmitigated disaster.

Leave a comment

Filed under Double Down

Live Bloggin’ the Oscars; Or, Avatar Molests Babies (It’s True)

Oscar Night is like second Christmas for me. All awards season I wait in anticipation, much like the holiday season, even with the possibility of being let down on the big day. Sometimes I think I’m going to finally get that Wii (a win for The Hurt Locker), I actually get a stocking full of oranges and Happy Meal toys (a win for Avatar). It’s certainly a love/hate relationship, because often I do get that game console (No Country for Old Men). This is what keeps me coming back, the slight possibility that I’ll go to bed not wanting to curb stomp a battalion of puppies.

So, tonight, I’ll begin this live bloggins with a positive attitude. We’ll see how far into the hate abyss I go after having to listen to the noises emitting from James Cameron’s mouth hole with every win. Let’s do this!

(Note: I’m going to completely ignore The Barbara Walters Special, because, fuck her, you know?)

8:01 – Thirty seconds in and we have a Kathy Ireland sighting. 13-year old Matthew just took his pants off.

8:03 – All five supporting actress nominees are together, or as I like to call them, Mo’nique and the Four Women That Will Always Hate Mo’nique.

8:08 – Zac Efron is here and he’s a good 6 inches shorter than host Kathy. Perfect viewpoint if he has an adam’s apple fetish. (Sorry, Kathy. You do have a man-jaw)

8:10 – Overheard description of Miley Cyrus, “It’s like the guys from Deliverance had a chud baby and named it Miley.”

8:11 – Sherri Shepherd has no idea who Helen Mirren and Christopher Plummer are, not shocking considering she’s the same woman that thinks time started the exact second Jesus was born. Seriously, she said that.

8:15 – Here’s J-Lo, nominated tonight for Best Jenny From the Block. Her only competition: Jenny Craig. Also, her worst enemy.

8:19 – Someone at this party just spoiled the ending to Remember Me. He just saved everyone in this room the zero dollars they wouldn’t have paid when they didn’t go see it.

8:24 – It’s official: Jeff Bridges IS The Dude. It almost ruins that performance knowing he just showed up in his own clothes/robe and started riffing.

8: 26 – I’m sorry, but I don’t know her real name, but Precious is looking good tonight. Good on her. Sadly, her interview was followed by Taylor Lautner, who is a mouth-breather. Just goes to show that abs are totally irrelevant. Right? Right?!?

8:32 – Why isn’t Neil Patrick Harris hosting? No offense to my secret boyfriend Steve Martin, but this man is the best thing that ever happened to everything. NPH is my not-a-secret boyfriend.

8:38 – But really, though, these two hosts are wonderful. Steve’s showing his age a bit, and Alec is still, well, fat, but they work perfectly together. Now that I’ve properly insulted old people and fat people, I bid you a’goodnight. Time to retreat into my sleep incubator that will forever keep me young and slight.

8:40 – Did they have to give Precious two seats? Is this a Southwest flight? Someone call Johnnie Cochran. Oh, he’s dead? Ouch.

8:42 – Kathryn Bigelow: Makes Pants Gigolo (I’m not proud of that one)

8:46 – Best Supporting Actor is first. Can we just skip this and give it to that guy in that thing? Matt Damon, duh. He played rugby! That ish is hard, y’all.

8:50 – Shocking, a foreigner won. We outsource our awards every single year. Christoph Waltz, I hope you get deported.

8:52 – The star of The Proposal is here to introduce a movie starring the star of The Proposal. Coincidence? Of course, totally. Get your head out of your ass.

8:58 – Fantastic Mr. Fox SHOULD have been nominated “like a real movie.” Better than UP, guys. Better than UP.

9:03 – Randy Newman is a national treasure. I say we get rid of Sandra Bullock as “America’s Sweetheart” and install Randy in that role. Immediately.

9:14 – Robert Downey Jr. could read Mein Kampf and I’d be enthralled. Wait….that’s the worst compliment possible.

9:18 – As much as I loved The Hurt Locker, it wasn’t great because of the screenplay. That award belonged to Quentin Tarentino. Now QT’s going to drown his sorrows in a mountain of coke. No way that would have happened if he had won. No way.

9:22 – This whole room is enraptured by the John Hughes montage. Well, until She’s Having a Baby showed up. That movie was the pimple on the back of Hughes’ career.

9:25 – Judd Nelson has never been happier that Hughes died. “I get to be on TV? Thanks, John’s frail heart!”

9:30 – So the guy that made Ray won Best Short Film sometime in the ’70’s? Can we fire up the flux capacitor and go make sure somebody else wins? Or at least go back and convince Jaime Foxx’s mom to join a nunnery.

9:33 – Wallace and Gromit lost to Ronald McDonald? Look to the skies, people. The Horsemen should be on their way soon.

9:39 – Oh, Ben Stiller. Always good for the obvious joke. He’s like Frank Caliendo, but not a worthless piece of shit.

9:45 – Hey, A Serious Man, would it have killed you to put a few Palestinians in your movie? So biased. This is why we’re at war.

9:48 – Everyone in this room broke out in applause during a toilet paper commercial, because the star of said commercial was sitting on the couch next to me. I know famous people.

9:52 – Lenny Kravitz is happy that Precious won Best Adapted Screenplay. Sign #1 that it didn’t deserve to win. Jason Reitman is running home to burn his “Are You Gonna Go My Way” 7″.

9:57 – And here’s Robin Williams to formally apologize for Old Dogs. Also, Robin Williams gets to present in place of Heath Ledger? That makes sense. Was Larry the Cable Guy busy?

10:01 – Why is Mo’nique so upset? Were there sinister forces behind the scenes trying to prevent all past Queens of Comedy from winning major awards? I hope so. If Adele Givens wins Best Director next year, I give up.

10:10 – Screw this art director from Avatar for actually making me want to support that movie. Stop crying, ya turkey! Gets me every time.

10:14 – I’m sorry, Precious, I didn’t see your movie. Mainly because Mariah Carey is in it and seeing her makes me want to beat up my morbidly obese black daughter. Which one? The older one. She totally has it coming.

10:20 – To present the horror film montage, here’s the frightening future of film: Taylor Lautner. I hope Jack Nicholson shows up at the end and cuts him down with an axe. All mouth breathing and no talent make Taylor a dead boy.

10:27 – First losses for Avatar and more wins for The Hurt Locker in sound editing and mixing! This is a good sign that I will not have to cry myself to sleep tonight. Fingers crossed.

10:32 – Quote from the room: “Eli Roth is a human bobblehead. He’s a giant that forgot to get giant.”

10:34 – Is Yaz the main sponsor of the Oscars? As a staunch Roman Catholic, I am now a strict Golden Globes guy.

10:39 – For the In Memorium presentation, here’s someone whose career passed on after The Scarlett Letter: Demi Moore.

10:40 – I always feel bad for those that only get sporadic applause during this presentation. Our bad, writer Larry Gelbart, you weren’t in Clueless, nor were you the star of The Wiz.

10:47 – When I think of the music from Sherlock Holmes, I think of hip hop ballet.

10:56 – Someone order a round of beefcake? Yes? Here’s Bradley Cooper and Gerard Butler. Excuse me while I go rethink my choice of lifestyle. Nature/nurture? More like nurture/nurture.

11:03 – Time for the Documentary awards, or, time to go check your Twitter feed.

11:08 – Tyler Perry is here to remind us that the African American community still exists. Yet, Medea Goes to Jail was totally snubbed. Did you die in vain, Malcolm X? (Too soon?)

11:11 – Keanu Reeves is here to present The Hurt Locker, because he knows what it’s like to bomb. *trombone slide, face palm*

11:19 – Upset of the night for Best Foreign Film. No WAY El Secreto De Sus Ojos was better than Das Weisse Band. NO WAY! I’m composing an irate letter to my local congressman ASAP.

11:26 – For Best Actor, we’re going to bring out anybody that’s willing to beat off the nominees with their words. Julianne Moore, I thought I knew you.

11:31 – I take it all back. A Shawshank Redemption reunion with Robbins and Freeman. I’m bawling here. I hope to see my friend and shake his hand. I hope the Pacific is as blue as it has been in my dreams. I hope.

11:36 – I haven’t seen Crazy Heart, but I’m still happy for The Dude. This Oscar will really tie the room together.

11:41 – If Sandra Bullock wins, I’ll be afraid for my life. Everyone here is armed to the teeth and ready to riot.

11:42 – Oprah’s here! YOU ALL WIN A NEW OOOOOSSSSSCCCCAAAARRRRR!!!! YOU’RE GETTING AN OSCAR, YOU’RE GETTING AN OSCAR, YOU’RE GETTING AN OSCAR!

11:47 – Stanley Tucci should not be groveling to Meryl Streep. He was incredible in Undercover Blues as El Muerte (Too obscure?).

11:50 – And the winner is……Sandra Bullock. Boooooooooo!! Bow down to her. Bow if you want, the Queen of Slime, Filth, Refuse, Boooo, BOOOO!!!!!

11:55 – Barbra Streisand is here to remind us that Barbra Streisand is still alive. I resent her for this.

11:57 – You have no idea how happy it makes me to know that the director of Point Break is an Oscar winner. Somewhere, Johnny Utah is smiling.

11:59 – Also, Kathryn Bigelow is 58 and the hottest woman in the room. Was she the inspiration for the Na’avi? Probably. The tail is the biggest hint.

12:01 – Tom Hanks just delivered the happiest news since the end of World War II. Thanks, Forrest. Life really is like a box of chocolates. A box of chocolates that James Cameron is allergic to. Suck it, sci fi nerds.

12:05 – The Hurt Locker was my favorite movie last year, so obviously I’m the smartest man alive. Well, it wouldn’t have killed the academy to nominate Drag Me To Hell. At least create a Beat Projectile Vomit category, at least.

2 Comments

Filed under oscars

NYC Story of the Day – 1/27/10

Before we made the move from Cincinnati, Margaret-Ellen (my roommate) assured me that if I couldn’t find a full-time job right away, she could easily set me up with some promotional work. For the uninitiated, or more specifically, for the non-actor, promo jobs turn you into a second-rate “Barker Beauty” from The Price is Right. You show up to a supermarket, or a street corner, and promote a product, whether it’s a new bottle of wine, a slab of ribs, or a mafia-run comedy club. It’s a quick way to make money, and I certainly don’t blame anyone for doing it. You work short shifts, like four hours or less, and they cut you a check. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy.

But if you are aware of who I am, you know the idea of selling something to a stranger on the street, or even just handing out coupons in a busy area, makes the bile rise up from my stomach. I’m getting acid reflux just thinking about it. What made me extra uncomfortable is most companies require a headshot. I certainly don’t blame them — I wouldn’t want an uggie on my payroll either. But only those in the entertainment business have headshots; I have camera phone shots of me mean-mugging at karaoke bars. I’m not about to get turned down for a job standing in front of a strip club divvying out VIP passes because my sunny disposition doesn’t burst forth in a picture. So while I certainly appreciated the offer for work, I chose to remain poor and keep whatever shred of self-worth I had left.

Cut to late October and I’m still without work. My self-worth had been demoted from “hangin’ in there” to “the plug should have been pulled weeks ago.”  When I received a call from Margaret-Ellen about a possible job one weekday afternoon, I was willing to accept practically anything. You want me to wear Victoria’s Secret angel wings in Chelsea? No problem. Promote partial birth abortion at a Catholic picnic? Let’s get this party started. Luckily, or more specifically because Margaret-Ellen knew I was more likely to accept this exact job, this one entailed driving a van and driving a van only. There was to be no mingling with the populace. Just pick up the staff and materials, take them to the spot, and wait. This I could do. I can sit in a van and play thumb war with myself for $25 an hour. I have a Ph.D. in Loafing About.

My only remaining apprehension involved my minuscule ego, which would not shut up about our “qualifications.”

“You didn’t go to 20 years of college to drive a van,” said myself.

“But you have rent to pay, and there’s only so much time you can waste browsing the Ikea website. You already have three Liatorps.”

“But they’re economical and they really tie the room together!”

All this inane inner dialogue immediately became moot when I began working the jobs. No matter how overqualified you think you are, nothing beats actual work experience. Humility, it’s nice to make your acquaintance.

On the first day, I managed to get a parking ticket within the first 20 minutes, loaded thirty more boxes into the van than necessary, and arrived to the event nearly a half hour late (thanks to the extraneous boxes). However, I did get to spend several hours watching a failed actor do push-ups in the middle of Times Square.

On the second day, I couldn’t find a parking spot close to the event (near Madison Square Garden), so I had to park it in a garage (added expense). This led to my having to go back and forth several blocks for three hours carrying forty boxes of bagged popcorn. The union that represents my body had a meeting that night, and, thank god, they decided not to go on strike. But I did receive a written warning.

On the third day, I dropped a box full of drug store coupons (about 500) into a puddle about six inches deep, and immediately exclaimed, “Oopsie daisies,” in front of a bodybuilder in a fireman costume, to which he replied, “Need a little help with that, Miss?” A little while after this fantastic conversation, I failed to properly secure a hose on a contraption used for pouring out coffee, and when it burst and sprayed hot coffee all over the ground, nearly scalding the guy in the fireman suit, I shut my eyes tight and waited for the punches to lull me into the waiting arms of a sweet, sweet coma.

On the fourth day, everything was going swimmingly — I found a place to park, NPR was playing decent music, nobody called me a woman, etc. But with about an hour left, I got the urge to drive a few blocks over to a McDonald’s. No big deal, right? What I failed to realize is that most drive-thrus are not designed to support large vans, so when I tried to turn right out of the parking lot, I scraped the entire side of the van against a concrete pillar. What went through my head? Mostly obscenities, but also thoughts of endless debt thanks to endless repair shop bills. There was no talking my way out of this one. No chance the rental company wanted a red racing stripe on the side of their van, even though it did look pretty rad. To top it off, by leaving my cushy parking spot, I had immersed myself in stopped traffic, just in time to be unavailable to drive the staff home. This led to several not-so-happy texts from women named Destiny and Brittnee. I assumed I was fired, so I didn’t even bother to drive back to the office. I went straight to the rental company, showed off my handiwork, and was told there would be a $500 deductible. This was a little comforting, even if it was still a little more than I could handle. Eventually, after a few hours of softly sobbing into a pillow, I emailed my boss and explained the situation (not The Situation). He replied shortly thereafter with a terse sounding, “Don’t worry about it. We’ll take care of the damage. Talk to you soon.” I was grateful to be off the financial hook, but it is safe to say that the job offers went from “daily” to “every other winter solstice” with this company.

So what’s the moral of the story here?

Put on the stupid fireman’s costume and leave the heavy lifting to the professionals.

Leave a comment

Filed under Ineptitude, New York City