Surrender

kveikurI’m never been much for podcasts. I can’t tell if that’s my own biases against being introduced to a new medium or a problem with the medium itself. Did people dismiss early cinema as nothing more than a novelty because they hadn’t yet seen what it could become? It’s quite possible. A lot of podcasts, to me, sound like a bunch of friends shooting the shit. That’s it. I’m sorry, but you need to have more than that if you want me to listen to it. I don’t even have that many friends and I think listening to other people and their friends talk about nothing is boring. Seriously, I don’t get it: What is the appeal of listening to people you don’t know go on random comedic tangents for an hour or more without ever coming to a point? I’m not trying to be dismissive here, but I honestly do not understand why people like some of this crap. This American Life is about people’s lives, and the stories are organized around a theme. Savage Love is relationship advice. WTF With Marc Maron is interviews, although he opens with a story. Even with a podcast, there has to be a point.

Maybe I’m weird, but I like to think of everything as a potential learning experience. Even if I’m just going down the street for a burger, I feel like I’m cheating myself if I’m not looking for a chance to be enriched, entertained, or educated. A lot of new media doesn’t do it for me: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube. That probably does have more to do with the fact that those platforms are relatively new, but I don’t particularly like any of them, which means that I’m kind of an old fuddy-duddy even though I’m in my 20s. I’m getting left behind, but admittedly, it is by my choice. Since I’m straying into well-trod territory here, let me shift gears and talk about a story that is constantly updating: LGBT equality. Specifically, let’s talk about the wide world of sports. More and more athletes are coming out, and while very few of them are doing so at the professional level, it’s only a matter of time. I think what’s holding us back is that even though there are parallels between the gay rights movement and the civil rights movement, there are some differences, and we have to acknowledge that as well.

There is something very primal about sexuality that race and possibly even gender don’t touch. It’s not something that you can often tell just by looking at someone, and that confuses a lot of people. More importantly, it causes a lot of LGBT people to think that there is something special about them if you can’t tell just by looking at them. Sometimes you can, but that’s not the point. It’s been such a lazy stereotype for so long that gay men aren’t into sports that now that we are learning that some of our athletes are gay, we need to stop acting like it’s that big of a shock. Yes, some gay men love sports. And some straight men love fashion. Could you seriously not have figured that out on your own? It’s ironic that sports are typically held up as a bastion of masculinity, because really, what is gayer than slapping on tight pants and shoulder pads and slamming into other guys for a while? Football’s pretty gay too, come to think of it.

I’ve learned by now that people will never leave you alone if you let them do it on their terms. This does not mean that you have to shut everyone out for fear that they will hurt you, only that you have to own your own words and actions, whatever they are. As I’ve probably said before, I have a million regrets. But I’m not sorry for anything. I just don’t have the time. You can roll your eyes when I say that I’m the greatest human being who ever lived, but as far as I’m concerned, I am, and who are you to tell me I’m wrong? It’s all about living in the present, not that I’m all that good at that. I spend most of my time brooding in my room. The only person I can name who hated humanity more than I do is Bill Hicks, and he died at 32 because he didn’t take very good care of his body. I’ve heard multiple people quote George Carlin as saying, “Life is not measured by the number of breaths you take, but by the number of moments that leave you breathless.” Bullshit. Carlin didn’t say that. That’s from a chain email that somebody claimed was written by him. He would never have said something so trite and meaningless.

I have decided that there is one thing about California that I’m going to miss when I eventually get out of here, and that’s In-N-Out Burger. There is no other fast food chain that compares to it. It’s not the best burger around, just the best burger you can get for under $10. Double-double animal style, there is no competition. New York has Five Guys, but aside from the fries, there’s nothing too remarkable about them, and I say that as somebody who used to eat there pretty regularly. We all have our fast food, I suppose.

I’m not a very good judge of what will take off and what doesn’t. This blog has never climbed very far about 1,000 hits per month, and even then very briefly. Whatever. What I have to say these days doesn’t quite fit into this format, and maybe that’s for the best. Because I want to push outward. I want to find out just what I can get away with and what I’m capable of. And when that’s done, I want time to watch season two of Orphan Black. I go at my own pace, is what I’m trying to say. Don’t try to stop me.

Advertisements

Enigma

douglasThe difficulty with anxieties is that they make you feel nervous about decisions you’ve already made. You get really nervous because you’re seeing your significant other later, and as much as you love them, you almost don’t know what to do with them now that you’ve got them. If you’d dated or gotten laid a lot while in high school and college rather than pining for your friends and masturbating incessantly, maybe you would have an easier time processing this. But since you’d almost gotten used to spending all that time alone, it’s disorienting to have the option to do something else. And of course, there’s sex. Where would we be without that?

I’m still single, by the way. I’m just spitballing.

There’s been talk of making Blood Meridian into a movie for years now. It’s one of my favorite novels, and arguably Cormac McCarthy’s masterpiece. It’s a challenging piece of work. For one thing, it is unrelentingly violent. I don’t think then pages go by in that book without somebody getting skinned, shot to pieces, or their head bashed open on a rock. It’s not exactly beach reading, is what I’m trying to say. For another thing, its point-of-view is, if not nihilistic, certainly more interested in portraying evil as something that is immortal and eternally destructive than in telling the kind of story in which the good guys win. Since the story consists of a bunch of cowboys going on a killing rampage across the Southwest, I’m not even sure if it has any sympathetic characters. Actually, that’s not true. The kid (the nameless protagonist of the novel) is somewhat sympathetic, but only because he kind of just goes along with what’s happening rather than actively encouraging it. With a story like that, you kind of have to take what you can get.

I’m not sure who you would get to adapt such a book. Badlands-era Malick could maybe do it justice, but I doubt he’d want to now. The Coen brothers could probably do it, but they already adapted one of Cormac McCarthy’s books (No Country for Old Men), so perhaps they wouldn’t want to do go there again. Werner Herzog, maybe? Resurrect Klaus Kinski and he would make an amazing Judge. I’ve probably spent too much time thinking about this.

I’m on the last season of 30 Rock. It’s easy to get caught in the trap of taking things too slow when you realize that you’re enjoying something. I love 30 Rock. I think it’s one of the best sitcoms ever, but I’ve seen only a couple episodes of Seinfeld and haven’t watched Cheers at all, so I clearly have a lot to learn about that. There’s a line in Battlestar Galactica where Adama says that he likes the book he’s reading so much that he doesn’t want it to be over. Part of the reason I read, like, five or six books at once is that it’s hard for me to focus on something once I realize I like it. I’m not prolonging it so much as missing the forest for the trees. Because I have fallen into that pitfall of reading something just so you can say you’ve read it or watching something just so you can say you’ve watched it. And you can’t do that. Because then you’re just counting the pages/episodes until you’re done and then you can move onto the next new thing. I might look more composed to other people than I actually am. All I know is that sitting down to actually watch/read something, even and especially if I like it, is way more difficult than it should be.

The thing about 30 Rock is that it is not much concerned with either plot or character. It’s a joke machine, that’s all. When it’s on a roll, it will have you pissing your pants, clutching your sides and howling with laughter, because it is the kind of show that can fit a brilliant sight gag, one liner, and obscure pop culture reference into the same moment. Even the worst episodes have at least a handful of good jokes, and from what I’ve heard, the show went out on a bang, so I’ll be excited to get there. I have so much else to watch, after all.

It can be difficult to reign in your own weird impulses when you’re the only one in control. Especially when you spend 95% of your free time in your room. I’m talking about myself here, in case that’s not obvious. One of my high school English teachers was fond of reading some of our essays aloud to the class. The high points came when he read the bad ones and made fun of them, but he read the good ones as well, and wouldn’t you know it, mine were often featured. Except that one time I didn’t even do a very good job of exploring the topic; I just wrote a really entertaining (albeit) weird piece and he gave it the highest grade in the class because it was nothing if not memorable. Again, it’s easy to go up your own ass when you’re the only one calling the shots. It’s part of the reason I think Kubrick’s last masterpiece was A Clockwork Orange. The man was a genius, but to call him a control freak is putting it mildly.

I’m listening to Rent as I write this. It’s not bad. I listened to it as a high school theater nerd and thought it was the best thing I’d ever heard. I don’t still feel that way, but I sympathize with Mark, Roger, and Maureen. Maybe they are entitled assholes who don’t contribute anything. But they’re trying to. Roger’s music sucks and I’m not sure if Mark’s movie would really be any good, but honestly, who are they hurting by squatting in that loft? (Also, I saw somebody play Maureen as a dumb blonde once. It worked surprisingly well, especially her performance piece, which is actually really funny.) Benny doesn’t need the money; he can let his old friends stay there for nothing, and at the beginning of the show, he’s asking them to pay rent on the year they’ve already stayed, which seems like a half-assed way of trying to throw somebody out. I know people who hate that musical. I think it’s overlong and sentimental, but still powerful. Maybe I’ll think differently in another ten years. Then again, maybe not.

Suddenly, I have so much more respect for One Direction.

Let’s Talk About Subtlety

Those of you who are on Facebook have probably noticed people sharing those videos that are a look back through all of their time on the site. I suppose for some people, this is a charming bit of nostalgia, but I can’t help but wonder why I need to be reminded of all the time I’ve wasted on a website that still provides no valuable service. Yes, it’s nice that everyone liked my status where I made fun of Justin Bieber, but I really don’t need a photo of it complete with sweeping music. I am not going to watch a highlight reel of my time on the Book of Faces. If you find that touching or something, fine. But seriously, who gives a shit?

I’ve spent a lot of time talking over the past months about my fascination with YouTube. I don’t watch cute cat videos, but I follow a lot of vloggers. A big part of it is that I considered becoming a vlogger before turning to this. I think I’m reaching a tipping point. YouTube is not a total wasteland. There are vloggers out there who are talented and interesting. And there are a couple, like Tyler Oakley, who are perfectly fine, but really not my thing. It’s the subgenre of gay YouTubers who intrigue me. They all hang out with each other, as if the only thing that you need to do to be accepted into their little clique is be gay and make YouTube videos. I’m being a little harsh, I know, but that’s because my patience is wearing thin. Their worldview just strikes me as being rather simplistic, as if they had no identity before they came out, and now that they have come out, everything about them is defined in relation to that. It’s not only limiting; it poisons everything else.

Put it this way: Relationships are messy. Sometimes you have to accept the fact that your relationship is going in directions you didn’t expect, and you have to deal with that. But some people don’t want to. They want to sanitize everything. Putting an aspects of your life on the internet means sharing things about yourself that you’d rather not share. You sacrifice some small degree of privacy in the hopes that someone else might identify with you, and then both of you will feel a little less lonely. You don’t have to share everything, nor should you. But you have to be willing to let people see you at your worst. You can’t always be performing, because then there’s no you anymore, just an internet persona. I kind of feel like Justin Bieber’s problem is that once you get past his douchebaggery and shitty music, there’s just nothing there. His fifteen minutes are up, and barely a year ago, I remember people saying, “His music isn’t my thing, but so what?” No, that’s the kind of thing you say about One Direction. Justin Bieber is a little shit who needs to go away.

I don’t really believe that being in a relationship is the finish line. I don’t believe that it’s the one thing that you need to make your life complete once you’ve gotten everything else in order. There was a time when it felt that way, but then everything else in my life fell out of order, and I’m starting to wonder if I shouldn’t just try online dating already. I doubt it will solve all my problems. It’s just that I kind of feel like if the universe isn’t going to throw me a bone soon, I really should go live on a fucking raft already.

winter

My favorite season

It’s been my experience that the people who are truly happy almost never refer to themselves that way. Occasionally, they do, but anybody who says “I couldn’t be happier”, is experiencing a fleeting moment of joy, nothing more, nothing less. It’s like all those humblebrag Facebook posts where somebody talks about how they are so blessed to have these wonderful friends and family. Whoop-de-fucking-do. I don’t really believe that the pursuit of happiness is what life is all about, anyway. I think you have to just make your own choices and tough out the bad times that come with that. If your goal is to be happy, what do you do when your kid dies? Sure, you can take steps to prevent that, but it can happen anyway. You can’t be happy all the time. But you can take steps to address the problem. What could I have done to prevent this from happening? There usually is something, even if it’s not apparent.

I stayed off of social media for the bulk of last Sunday because I was reeling from the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman. He was a once-in-a-generation talent, easily one of the greatest actors in the world, and I regret that I never got the chance to see him performing live. (He was in “Death of a Salesman” when I moved to New York, but it was sold out. I believe he played in Iago in “Othello” at one point. I’ll bet he crushed it.) But he wasn’t just versatile and relatable; he was prolific. And yes, we got a lot of good work out of him, but to have him taken from us so suddenly when he should have had several decades’ worth of work left in him is just fucking unfair. I added “Mary and Max” to my Netflix queue because I heard that was good, but never saw it. I’ll have to drown my sorrows in that.

I’m not a big fan of social media, but what I really hate about it is the way that it generates instant nostalgia. People put stuff up on it so they can remember shit that just happened. It’s such a waste of time. I’m still on it because it has one or two uses, but this won’t last. There are better ways to feel better about yourself.

Blur

It used to be that I was annoyed all the time. I spent most of my summer in a near-constant state of irritation. The New York heat and problems with my computer coupled with my unexciting social life and lack of concrete plans for the future made me into a man who was pretty much always angry about something, even if it was something as minor as his earbuds not working. These days, I’m just tired. Living with that psycho roommate in Queens for a month broke me. I was, by all appearances, quite close to securing a full-time (if not exactly high-paying position) working for a cause I believed in. I had a nice apartment and was just thinking about how I was going to furnish it. Then my roommate turned out to be a total cockwad, and all that went to shit.

YouTubeThese days, I have enough trouble just getting out of bed in the morning. My job at the coffee shop is dependent largely on my open availability, and while I could probably get a second job and find a way to integrate that into my schedule with this one, I’m just too. Damn. Tired. It’s been three months since I moved back to California, and still, it’s a struggle not to just sit around watching YouTube videos all day. Most of my friends live over an hour away, so if I want to hang out with someone, I have to go way out of my way to do it. And my father is thinking of moving to SoCal (dependent on my mother finding a job there, which she might, so there you have it), which means that the clock is ticking here. I’m not ready to move again. I’ve done it enough times over the past few years. You ever find yourself unable to sleep when you have to get up early the next morning? You keep glancing at the clock thinking that maybe you can get just a few hours’ sleep before you have to get up. It’s dangerous and unhealthy, and it happens far too often. I am very tired, but I’m trying to stay active.

Pretty much everyone who works in customer service has a story about a shitty customer. Here’s one that happened to me a few days ago: I was working the morning shift at a register that was off to the side of the registers that we normally use. I noticed there was a gentleman at the front of the line who didn’t realize that there was a register open. “Sir?” I said. He didn’t respond. “Sir?” I said, a little louder. Again, no response. “Sir?” I tried once more, about as loud as I could without shouting. He stared at the pastries, not even looking my way. The person behind him shrugged. If I remember correctly I helped them instead.

A minute later, that man came up to me. “You can ‘sir’ me until tomorrow, I’ll come up when I’m good and ready.”

I stared at him. That was a much stronger response than anything that I had said warranted. “That was pretty fucking rude,” he continued.

“Okay,” I said, because I will be goddamned if I apologize to somebody over something that minor.

“And I’m being rude because I think one rudeness deserves another,” he said, because God, what was I thinking saying “Sir?” to him like that? I might just as well have punched him in the face, then pissed on his shoes. One rudeness deserves another, seriously? First of all, no, it doesn’t, and second, I fail to see what was rude about that. My job, as an employee, is to actively engage with customers. This dude was at the front of a line, for Christ’s sake. If he wasn’t ready to order, he could have simply turned to me and held up his index finger. That would get the message across. But instead, he said nothing, apparently expecting me to intuit that he could hear me perfectly well, but was too big of a douchebag to reply. Fuck. You. Obviously, I can’t talk back to people like that, but if he had pushed me just a little bit farther, I think I would have been perfectly justified in refusing to serve him. After he finished chewing me out, he placed his order (oatmeal), paid, and fucked off. That was that. Except it wasn’t.

Shitty people have a way of getting under your skin. I knew perfectly well that this guy was a fuckwad and that I handled things about as well as I could have. But you can’t help but wonder what happened to this dude to make him so shitty. Did he just get dumped? Do his kids not speak to him after that one time he threw hot gravy in his son’s fiance’s face over Thanksgiving dinner for calling him “sir”? Most likely, he was kind of a shithead to begin with, but I have to say that while I can get cranky when somebody interrupts my thought process (even when it’s for something perfectly reasonable, such as a customer approaching me with a question), I don’t think I’ve ever spoken like that to anyone, certainly not for just doing their fucking job.

I’ve been working there long enough that the days are starting to blur together. You know the feeling, like when the first few days/weeks of school consist mostly of you awkwardly adjusting, then eventually, things start to snowball. So maybe I should look for a second job/internship/volunteer opportunity/anything else, really. But I think I’ll wait until after the holidays, maybe. Because I still have a lot to learn.

This, by the way, is hilarious. One Direction is not a good band, but they’re nowhere near as hateable as the Biebs. Personally, I think all internet arguments should be reenacted by elderly Englishmen with dramatic music backing them up.

Another Fucking Disney Movie

There is a YouTuber who drives me insane. His name is GayGod, and he reminds me, of all people, of Justin Bieber. Let me explain: In basically every cultural medium, there is a genre or subgenre that is targeted at [insert minority group here]. LGBTs are no exception. I used to spend relatively little time on YouTube, but I find myself spending more and more time on it these days. A lot of it just goes down so easy. It’s the sort of thing you watch when you need to unwind, but can’t work up the energy to get invested in a TV show. So it’s not surprising that there are dozens/hundreds/thousands of channels on YouTube on which people talk primarily about gay [whatever]. A few of them are good. In fact, here is my favorite. He has an easygoing sense of humor and even though he is totally upfront about his sexuality, he doesn’t expect it to make him interesting all by itself.

Mmmm....

Mmmm…

The same cannot be said about GayGod. In fact, there was a video posted by an angry British guy in which he tore GayGod a new asshole that has since been taken down. I’m not sure why. It was amazing. But to give you an idea of what I’m so angry about, watch this video. Better yet, don’t. Just listen to me describe it. Popular YouTuber Davey Wavey (whose channel is basically gay candy, in that it has little substance, but is so sugary and flamboyant as to be kind of addictive) asked a bunch of other gay YouTubers to talk to straight girls about how they should treat their gay friends. It’s cute. Kinda. I agree with some of it, but ultimately, I don’t really give a shit. I have both male and female friends, and have never wanted or had a “hag”, let alone felt the need to watch Mean Girls with one of them while eating Ben & Jerry’s and making catty comments. (I liked the movie, but I saw it only once. Tina Fey is awesome. Moving on…) GayGod, you may notice, is the most ostentatiously gay of all the people in the video, not only wearing a rainbow shirt, but dying his sideburns rainbow colors. Maybe this seems like a strong reaction, but it actually kind of makes me nauseous. Gay Pride matters. I haven’t been to the parade in years (and even then, only once), but I do think it’s a valuable reminder of how far we’ve come from Harvey Milk to AIDS to the recent SCOTUS rulings. It would be one thing to just put that on a shirt, but why does he have to dye his hair? That’s chintzy, tacky, and actually, kind of ugly. Geez, you’d think a gay guy would have a better sense of style.

The tricky thing about sexuality and gender identity is that they’re facts. They can take a while to figure out and own up to, but with very few exceptions, once you figure it out, there isn’t much to do except accept it and move on. You just live your life and try to be you, being conscious of the fact that people are going to look at you a little differently while acknowledging that you can’t be exactly like your straight/cis-gendered friends, no matter how non-stereotypical you are. It has to be a part of you without defining you. Nothing drives me up the wall faster than gay Republicans claiming that “being gay is only a small part of who I am”, or that “I’m more concerned with whether everyone has a job than whether everyone can get married.” Really, douchebag? If you’re facing discrimination thanks to that small part, then it’s not a small part at all. And if you seriously think that a steady job is likelier to help you through the rough patches in your life than a stable marriage, you’ll be lucky if you ever find either. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I hate gay Republicans even more than I hate most other Republicans, which is saying a lot.

But back to GayGod. GayGod (real name Matthew Lush) is defined entirely by his sexuality. If he weren’t gay, he’d probably pretend to be gay anyway just so he could prance around demanding attention and being a drama queen. That’s not how it’s supposed to work. It’s not supposed to be something that can be easily separated from who you are, but that doesn’t mean it should be the first, second, third, and last thing everybody knows about you. What does this have to do with Justin Bieber? Simple: He’s the lesbian equivalent of that. I tried, but I just can’t find him sexy. As with GayGod, there is something so empty and vapid about his existence that all of the pandering Never Say Never bullshit in the world can’t change. What, exactly, is inspirational about his story? Who said “it” could never happen? What is “it”, anyway? I don’t see how it’s a triumph over adversity that a cute white boy who writes generic pop songs and had the backing of major industry players could make it as a musician. I keep hearing that Justin Bieber is just like you and me, but that just means that he is like all of the insufferable prima donnas that I’ve known. I’d love to ignore him, but he’s inescapable.

By contrast, look at One Direction. I’ve mentioned them before on this blog, but basically, they’re just a bunch of pretty white boys (with one minority thrown in for good measure) who sing bland pop songs. Nothing to get too angry about. Occasionally, I’ll hear one of their songs when I’m in the supermarket or whatever. I shrug and go on with my day. Their music is not targeted at me, so I simply ignore it. Maybe one of them will stick around after the others’ fifteen minutes have faded and they are reduced to appearing on reality shows or acting in crappy movies. Maybe he’ll pull a Justin Timberlake and start a solo career that doesn’t suck or act in movies that don’t suck. Maybe. But either way, I have nothing against them. They’re probably nice guys.

I don’t know where the fuck I’m going with all this. I was going to talk about Planes, that shitty new Disney movie that is a knockoff of what was already Pixar’s worst film series. But I don’t have much to say that hasn’t already been said. That film stars Dane Cook. Cars starred Owen Wilson. As Dane Cook is to Owen Wilson, Planes is to Cars. I won’t be seeing it either way. I’m just getting tired of the way that Disney has to piggyback off of the success of everything hit movie they make, as with those braindead direct-to-video sequels of all of their 90s hits that suffered through a few of. I’ll just say that I have a lot to worry about right now: finances, jobs, roommate. So I’m trying not to let anything get to me.

Here’s a great video that circulated the internets not too long ago. Mumford and Sons has shown that you can water down folk and make it radio-friendly just like any other genre, so it’s fitting.

And since I didn’t mention queercore in the part about culture, let me give a shout-out to Pansy Division.

The reviews say it’s not as good as District 9, but I think I’ll see Elysium sometime soon.