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.

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.

Call Me By My True Name

I think we need to retire the phrase “check your privilege”. It doesn’t mean anything. It’s nothing more than a backhanded way to tell somebody that their opinion is less valid because they are in the majority. Privilege exists, but there is no way to check it. My existence is my existence, and if I were a wealthy, straight, white, Christian male, I would not be any more able to separate those aspects of my existence from who I am than I would if I were a poor, gay, black, Jewish female. Generally speaking, I would be inclined to take the latter’s word over the former where matters of discrimination are concerned. But ultimately, you don’t speak for anyone except yourself.

I have a tendency to dwell on old conflicts. I might have even mentioned this one before, but if you want to, click on this link and scroll down to my second comment, where you will see me get pummeled by the other commenters for, as far as I can tell, daring to suggest that the readership for 50 Shades of Grey is predominately female. To this day, I have no idea why this is offensive.

It is always a bad idea to get offended on behalf of someone else. That’s why I stood my ground. The other commenters wanted me to stop bashing 50 Shades of Grey, yet none of them made even the slightest attempt to defend it. At one point, one of them even claimed that by implying that women are sexually repressed, I’m slut-shaming and driving the book’s sales up even higher. Dude…do you even live on planet Earth? From a very early age, women in virtually all cultures are socialized to be ashamed of their bodies. Almost every woman alive has had to deal with sexual repression at some point or another. So if it’s all the same to you, I will continue to associate sexual repression with being female. Because reality.

The most troubling accusation in the whole thread is the claim that gendered language perpetuates violence against women. Last time I checked, the words “he” and “she” are gendered, and everyone still uses them. I do not believe that gender neutrality is the best antidote for sexism. I believe that men and women are different in ways that go beyond what we are socialized to do and say. I also believe that there is nothing wrong with this. “Different but equal” does not mean “separate but equal”. It’s time we understood that.

I think the real reason people were so angry at me is that I pointed a finger not just at the book, but the readers. The readers, however, are part of it, too. The whole point of art is that the artist and their audience are engaged in an active dialogue. If I believe that a book is not only abominably written, but glamorizing sexism, I have to ask why so many female readers (and I’ll be dollars to fucking doughnuts that 50 Shades of Grey‘s readership is almost exclusively female) would be complicit in something like that. Art doesn’t exist in a vacuum. If somebody wrote a book in which a Gary Stu got into an abusive relationship with Christina Grey, it would not sell one one-hundredth as well. And you damn well know it.

There is nothing sexist about saying that women can do better. Anyone who says that I should just lay off the readership has no idea how the world works. I’m not a fan of Larry the Cable Guy. He used to do mediocre comedy under the name of Dan Whitney, and now he does awful comedy that caters to the prejudices of only the most stereotypical of rednecks. Dan, from what I’ve heard, is a really nice guy. That doesn’t excuse his shitty comedy, but it does make you wonder how much blame he deserves for essentially just going with what works. In all the mania over 50 Shades of Grey, the person I’m least angry at is the author. I can’t say the same about Twilight.

You’re not going to get anywhere in life if you can’t give anyone the benefit of the doubt. The reason I still think about this argument months later is that everyone made up their mind about me the instant I used to word “estrogen”. My attempts to clarify came off as nothing more than “the lady doth protest too much”. But if the clarification makes more sense than the original statement, go with the clarification. I don’t think the original statement was all that sexist anyway. Roger Sterling says worse things every week on Mad Men. I think my views on gender are a little bit more evolved than his.

There was an incident some months ago in which Amanda Palmer wrote an open letter to Sinead O’Connor criticizing her for her open letter to Miley Cyrus. Basically, Sinead thinks Miley needs to realize that she is being exploited and stop exposing her body to make people like her, and Amanda thinks Sinead should stop slut-shaming. Amanda Palmer is full of shit. I’m a casual fan of her and a huge fan of her husband, but supporting women doesn’t mean supporting everything a woman does. And I don’t support reading 50 Shades of Grey. If that makes me a horrible person, so be it.

42

People used to tell me to trust my instincts. I got sick of that. They’d treat it like one’s gut feelings are something that one carries around in their back pocket or something, that can be pulled out and consulted at will. I really thought that I might be able to fix my computer by installing a new operating system, but if I can’t even get that working, what’s the use? Money is tight enough as it is, what with my impending move to Brooklyn, a trip back to California (hopefully) in the planning stages, my debts to pay off, and only a low-wage, part-time, temporary job to help make ends meet in the meantime. Of course, my parents will help me out if I ask them. But I’m not Mitt Romney, so the $20K I need to really get me started is probably not forthcoming.

I feel that I should talk about comedy. You see, the old expression is that comedy equals tragedy plus time. That’s true, but it’s easy to misinterpret. The amount of time is not set. It’s not as if a 9/11 joke made ten years after the tragedy is fine, but a 9/11 joke made nine years and eleven months after the tragedy is not. The amount of time is as long or as short as it takes us to process the catastrophe. Comedy is a very serious thing. It’s everything else that’s funny. A good 9/11 joke should be less about the people who died than about how we are supposed to live in a world in which shit like this can happen. Louis CK joked that you can tell how bad of a person someone is by how soon after 9/11 they masturbated. (“For me, it was between the buildings going down…Otherwise, they win.”) Because everyone has a moment after losing something they care about in which they realize that they still have to make dinner, go to work, and come on their spouse’s face.

One of the best deadpan comics I’ve ever seen is Tig Notaro. You might have heard of her. She had a rough year in 2012. In the space of about six months, she got pneumonia followed by a bacterial infection that ate away at her digestive tract, her mother died in a freak accident, her girlfriend broke up with her, and she was diagnosed with breast cancer in both breasts. Her album “Live” is available through iTunes, and if you’ve got six bucks to spare, you simply must download it. It’s some of the best dark comedy I’ve ever heard. (My favorite line: “Guys, it’s gonna be okay. It might not be okay, I’m just saying…”)

I think what I hate about people telling me to trust my instincts is that it usually leads to me felling confident about something, and whenever I’m confident about something, I’m wrong. I can’t think of any exceptions. A few days ago, I was confident that I could get this new operating system up and running. Now, I’m looking on CNET.com for reasonably priced laptops. I could ask the I.T. guys for more help, but what’s the use? They’ve done all they can, and the new operating system was a last resort anyway. Maybe they just didn’t want to have to be the ones to tell me to get a new computer. It’s going to sound like a lot of whining, but I don’t give a shit: I don’t fucking deserve this. I am very fucking tired, and I have enough shit on my plate already. There are people out there who are way more careless than I am, but don’t have to deal with shit like this. Fuck them. I deserve better.

I don’t do this for anyone else, in case you’re wondering. I do it for me. So if you’re thinking of responding to something I’ve written (and really, I invite you to), just bear that in mind. See, it’s been my experience that if you’ve made someone angry, the best thing to do is either leave them alone or apologize. If you feel sorry, say so. If you don’t, don’t. It’s that simple. There’s nothing I can’t stand more than somebody who insists they haven’t done anything wrong, but won’t leave you alone even though you’re clearly angry at them. That’s called abuse, and it’s the worst thing you can do to someone. For the time being, let us say no more about this.

Random: The new guy (well, a dude returning from a year abroad) at my job looks a little bit like Joffrey from Game of Thrones. joffreyListening to the commentary tracks, I am amused by how far out of their way the other people on the show go to specify that actor Jack Gleeson is a really great guy. It’s almost as if they’re scared that people will recognize him and start throwing rocks at him. They’re much more likely to say, “OMG, it’s Joffrey! I love you on Game of Thrones!”

I didn’t go to Pride. I went a couple years ago, and by now, it’s starting to bore me.

If anyone is wondering if these posts will grow less esoteric, rambling, and self-aggrandizing anytime soon, don’t count on it. Some dbag in middle school told me that I’d be more popular if I didn’t wasn’t “so smart all the time”. This assumes that I would want to even share a planet with a tool like that, let alone be well-liked. Sometimes, it’s nice to be liked. But I find that my misanthropy gets more manageable the more I double down on my weirdness. That, by the way, is the meaning of life.

don't panic3

Spring Cleaning

When I look at all of the shit that needs to get done in the next few months, I can’t even work up the energy to cry. The voices in my head aren’t just screaming; they have somehow acquired instruments and are playing marching band music 24 hours a day. I haven’t even been able to follow much of the news lately, which is sad, because I gather that some very interesting stuff has happened in some New England town not too far to the north of here in the past week.

I said in my previous post that opponents of gun control are defensive and insecure. But it’s not their guns that they’re afraid of losing, because if they really opposed gun control, they wouldn’t mind me handing a loaded Uzi to an infant and would support the sale of tanks, bazookas, and nuclear warheads to ordinary civilians. No, I think what they’re scared of is change. It’s been this way for too long. It’s time to get off your asses and do what’s right. If your kid died in Newtown, you’d be singing a different tune (that, or you’d be a total sociopath). Like Senator Rob Portman, who opposed gay marriage until he learned his son was gay, it’s time for the far right to understand that the only reason they believe what they believe is because they’ve never been hit where it really hurts. For their own sake, I hope they realize their folly before somebody else gets hurt.

I should take some time to talk about my time management skills. See, I spent the bulk of my afternoon working on an assignment that requires decent spreadsheet skills. If mine were good, it would have taken me about 30 minutes. But since mine aren’t, it took me fucking hours. And it was only the first part of a much larger assignment. I wish I were good with computers. I wish I were tech-savvy. I wish I at least knew how to work a damn spreadsheet. And learning to do those things is, I have discovered, tedious and kind of painful. I guess that serves me right for not going to the recitations. And there was so much else that I was thinking about doing today. Oh, well. Also, my mom didn’t call, which is unusual for her. (FYI, I’m writing this part on Sunday, even though it likely won’t be published for another day or two.)

I’ve fallen behind on my reading. I was trying to read A Storm of Swords, but haven’t gotten very far since starting over a month ago. And since it’s hard for me to pay attention, I am now splitting my time between two audiobooks rather than one. The problem is just that no matter how much I get done, I still have moments where I’m just sitting around trying to figure out what to do next. I don’t get out all that much, honestly. It’s not just that I can’t find the time to do a lot of shit, but I’m not really sure if enough time even exists. As always, I can almost hear the older and wiser amongst us saying that of course there is. All I know is that I haven’t checked some of my favorite blogs in ages and have applied for only a couple of jobs.

It has nothing to do with anything, but David Cross has done a better job explaining why “literally” is the most misused word in the English language than I ever could.

While I’m at it, I should say that for some reason, I’ve had this inexplicable desire to watch more Hollywood blockbusters lately (as opposed to the art-house shit I normally see). I’m really excited for the upcoming Star Trek movie. Many purists feel that the new movies are too watered down and action-oriented, and while there is some legitimacy to that, it doesn’t bother me all that much. The characters are basically the same, so for my money, it’s still Star Trek. Watching the new trailer, however, I was reminded of one smartass who quipped, “It’s a relief to see Star Trek, at long last, returning to its roots as a dour exercise in British dystopianism.”

Justin Bieber said something really stupid lately. The response from the offended party was surprisingly classy, but Bieber is still kind of an ass. I’m waiting for him to crash and burn. Not hoping for it, but let’s face it, how long do you think his moment in the sun will really last? He thinks it’s all about him, but it isn’t. He’s a product, nothing more, nothing less.

There is nothing more annoying than lying awake trying to get some sleep. Whether it’s early in the morning, late at night, or even in the middle of the afternoon, it always sucks.

Carlos Mencia is unique in that he is the only comedian I know of whose work makes me so angry that I actually want to do harm to him. How anyone can even speak to him without punching him in the face is beyond me. Jeff Dunham is racist, kinda, but since his humor is so dumb, it’s hard for me to care either way. I find the old guy dummy kind of funny, though. The Blue Collar Comedy tour is fairly lame, but Ron White is pretty funny.

I don't think Jack looked much like this.

I don’t think Jack looked much like this.

I’ll get around to talking about the whole terror Boston thing soon. There’s so much to unpack. One thing I will say is that true psychopaths are difficult to spot. They don’t sit at the back of the bus muttering to themselves. They seem friendly, but have a smile that is a bit too wide. Something just seems…off. It’s hard to tell right now, but I think that’s what these guys might have been. Bye for now.