Thursday, August 23, 2007

Career Choices

As a child I wanted to be many, many things. My first choice of career, that I can remember, was Jesus Christ. More accurately, I wanted to be the first guy to never sin since Jesus. Sadly, I realized I had ruined that, already, while still stuck in the single digits. I briefly considered being a missionary, but shortly after being told my best friend was going to hell for being Jewish, I stopped being Catholic. So that was out.

After my religious falling out, I wanted to be a video game counselor. It seemed reasonable: I loved video games, I was good at video games, and according to The Wizard1, you could sit in a cubicle and assist autistic kids over the phone. What kid doesn't want to do that? Then, I wanted to be a comic book artist. Then a lawyer. Environmental Lawyer. Movie Critic. Journalist. Screenwriter. Sports Journalist. Then when I realized I would need money(and what was wrong with having lots of it), corporate lawyer.

As it turns out, I am none of those things; I am a web monkey. Which isn't a bad thing, really. Do video game counselors even exist anymore? Did they ever? Not that it wouldn't be cool to be a comic book artist, movie critic or ESPN talking head. Or a professional basketball player. But I strayed. What I should have done was get the lead in a romantic comedy or sitcom. I should have been an actor. Then I could be anything I wanted.

I keep seeing previews for The Bill Engvall Show, where Engvall gets to be a therapist. Alan Thicke played a psychiatrist, Bill Cosby an MD(he did serve at a Navy Hospital, though); in fact, doctor seems to be a very popular fake career. Lawyer is well represented, though it's hard to find too many that look like Calista Flockhart or Laura Flynn Boyle. Or Dylan McDermott, for that matter. Sarah Jessica Parker was a journalist. Cirroc Lofton(Jake Sisko) was a basketball player.

It must be awesome to pretend to be something really cool. In his movie career, Adam Sandler has been a singer, professional golfer, college football player, legal genius, a marine veterinarian, pizzeria owner, professional football player, architect, and a firefighter. What will he be next? What else did he want to be when he was a boy?

John Cusack has been an amateur kick boxer (he actively trains to this day), professional baseball player (a role he somehow managed to play before being a high school kid in Say Anything), a physicist working on the Manhattan Project, a professional hitman, a US Marshall, an air traffic controlle r(eh?), a record store owner, and even a freaking cowboy.

Why, why didn't I study drama?

Just Need Some Sleep

Why do people peer down subway tunnels like they have fucking night vision goggles on? Back away from the platform, you perching little-shits. The train will get here when it gets here.

OK, I'm a little pissed. I had another late night at work. If it wasn't for the fact that I'm moving in with my girlfriend, I'd never see her. Or anyone, for that matter. My sole human interaction would be with my co-workers, fellow commuters, and my good friends at TBS and Adult Swim(basic cable only).

In some ways, working late feels like part of the NYC initiation. You walk faster, get a tiny apartment, eat a lot of Chinese take out, and you work until your fingers bleed.

In other ways, it makes me want to break my keyboard over my knee and shove the head of the annoying woman who sits behind me through my monitor. She has this voice, this annoying, spine-stiffening, gravelly white-bread voice and she speaks with almost no inflection, just a mild, rising tone throughout every asinine utterance.

Sigh, again, late night.

So, yeah, we have an apartment. That's good news. The bad news is I still get mail with my ex-wife's name on it. My girlfriend can be very understanding, but getting a routine reminder of my ex is not something that I think she will tolerate. Thing is, the ex-wife's name still appears on some mail that comes from my bank. Hopefully, after some paperwork I've filled out and mailed, it will end before the end of the month.

In less personal news, it's been a good year for music. I've been listening to the new Spoon, Ryan Adams, Silverchair (seriously), Battles, Common, Art Brut, Stars, and Paul McCartney albums. I'll be writing in more detail about some of these later, but I recommend all of them. The Live From The Paradiso EP from the Cold War Kids is also worth picking up and includes a great cover of Sam Cooke's "A Change Is Gonna Come".

Well, I'd better get to bed. Another long day(probably) awaits.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

On My Way Up

I've been doing a lot of work at a client downtown in a huge multi-story office building, working on the ninth floor. Every day on the elevator ride up, I pass heaven. Or at least the closest thing in the Internet world, Google.

Google has offices on the fourth floor, and they are hard to miss. The elevator doors open and you're bathed in a warm, soft light, a choir of beautiful blond angels sing the Hamster song, and you see the only page with info on your ex is some stupid college alumni page. Oh, and there's a huge Google logo over the desk. There's an abacus near the receptionist for some reason. One of those multi-colored expanding plastic balls sits on the floor, as if to say, hey bitches, we're Google and we have so much money nothing has to make sense.

Beyond that, I have no idea what it's like. Only the lucky people who work for Google do. They all look pretty happy. They all have iPhones. I'll bet they have unicorns, ambrosia, and free snacks, too. Must be nice.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Shallow and Pedantic

There is something that I hate that I often do. I hate being the person who, when conversing or arguing, can only repeat what he's read. Whether it's from a book, a newspaper, or an online article, all of it is just a prop, filling in for true insight and understanding.

Worse, if you can fool people well enough, it's a crutch. Why bother digging deeper and learning if you can convince people you are a knowledgeable, well-informed person anyway? Besides, if your really good at faking it, you get to have sex1. But, props only hold for so long; eventually, someone will know you're just reading the Times to them. Worst of all, they won't call you out for it -- rather, they'll just file you away in a folder marked "Uninteresting, Unoriginal, But Still Attractive Individuals".

To wrap this up in the most unoriginal way possible, here is a video that clearly state my point:

1It should be noted, that after talking to my girlfriend and learning the actual reasons I and other men get to have sex, I feel like one of Pavlov's dogs.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Thank God It's Sunday. Oh Wait...

What a week. As the entire world knows(because anything that happens in New York is very, very important), flooding brought the Subways in Manhattan to a standstill. Torrential rain the night before -- three inches in an hour, apparently -- caused the severe, unexpected flooding. I slept through that, and awoke to a sunny, albeit damp, morning. Finding my Subway stop ridiculously crowded, I was perplexed.

I tried buses. I tried other Subway lines. I considered taking a cab, then remembered that they would all be taken and it would take forever to get downtown. So I walked to work. About 30 city streets/blocks, it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. I had some good tunes from the iPod("Free Bird" is great walking music), and New York is always scenic. Sometimes the scenery smells, curses, elbows or runs you over, but it's scenic nonetheless.

The rest of the week wasn't nearly as entertaining. I did have to work Saturday, but at least it was quiet.

This week, however, should be very, very interesting. My girlfriend and I have to find an apartment. I have deadlines piling up. I'm already planning on buying some comfort booze for when I slip into my apartment, concluding each grueling, stressful day. This is the worst time of the year to look for an apartment.

Monday, August 06, 2007

An Adult Moment

Recently, while at the grocery store, I thought:

You're an adult now. You can buy whatever you want. Remember how you always wanted some Chocolate Eclairs? Those delicious, chocolate ice cream treats that you could only buy from the Good Humor Man because your mother would never buy them when she went grocery shopping? As a child your freezer was empty and useless, and only the rapid chime of that blessed ice cream man's bell gave you hope during those hot summer months. That's the only time you saw an Eclair. Well, there they are Mr. Adult, behind the glass doors of the frozen food section. And your mother is not here to stop you. Go ahead, champ, ring that bell.

So I bought some.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Music & Movies

I think "Ms. Robinson" is the best example, that I can think of right now, of a song so intimately connected to a movie that you can't hear it and not think of a certain scene. Or at least it was. We are generations past "The Graduate", and I'll bet a fair number of people -- all younger than me, thank you -- associate the song with Stifler's mom and "American Pie". Some probably just think "Simon and Garfunkel sure were great", or possibly "My high school algebra teacher sure taught me a lot about...the quadratic equation".

Anyway, here are some more songs that, to me(and that part is important, because I'm sure some of these will make you question my taste and memory), can never be separated from their celluloid companions.

"What A Wonderful World", Louis Armstrong, from Good Morning Vietnam. DJ Adrian Cronauer, played perfectly by Robin Williams(perfectly meaning absolutely nothing like the actual Cronauer), dedicates this song to a bunch of GIs that inspire him to get back on the air after a bureaucratic shit-storm. It plays over scenes of a chaotic, war-torn country -- rice fields being napalmed, suspected VCs being rounded up and executed -- and ends with Williams echoing Armstrong's wonderful "ohhhhhh yeahhhhhhh...". Other memorable songs from Vietnam in include "Sugar and Spice" by the Searchers and "I Got You (I Feel Good)" by James Brown(the first song Williams plays).

"Something In The Air", Thunderclap Newman - from Kingpin. This song plays during the bowling competition in Reno. Woody Harrelson, in possibly his best performance ever(and I'm being serious), plays Roy Munson, a down on his luck, one-handed bowler. He gradually gets his stride back to a song that most people as old as my parents probably remember from "Easy Rider". Before the final match, Urge Overkill does a great rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner". Other good songs from this movie include "A Beautiful Morning" by The Young Rascals and "The Sound Of Silence", played after Harrelson succumbs to a really indecent proposal from his landlady, played by Lin Shaye("What is it about great sex that always make me have to take a crap. You really jarred something loose there tiger!"). And of course, who could forget the final duel between Munson and Ernie 'Big Ern' McCracken (Bill Murray), set to ELO's "Showdown":

"You Can't Always Get What You Want", The Rolling stones, from The Big Chill. You knew this was coming. Even though it was immediately disqualified from the Top 5 Songs About Death in High Fidelity for it's association with this movie, "You Can't Always Get What You Want" is still great, in my opinion. Another song that the crew from Championship Vinyl may disregard in future discussions is "Ain't Too Proud To Beg" by The Temptations, for its use in the whitest dance scene in music history.

"One More Night", Phil Collins, from The Color Of Money. This can only be me. I was am a pool nut, so of course I watched The Hustler and it's sequel obsessively as a teenager. Paul Newman, in his thanks-for-everything-here's-an-Oscar reprisal as "Fast" Eddie Feslon, first notices Vincent(in, and I'm serious, Tom Cruise's finest performance) as Collins softly plays from the bar jukebox. The other winner is, of course, Warren Zevon's "Werewolves Of London", the soundtrack to Vincent's manic, cue-as-a-sword escapades, complete with Karate yells. Also memorable is "It's In The Way That You Use It", by Eric Clapton.

"Where Is My Mind", The Pixies, from Fight Club. The never-named narrator tells Marla "Trust me, everythings gonna be fine. You've met me at a very strange time in my life", the explosives go off, the buildings come down, and in comes the unforgettable screeching guitar notes that start this song. Perfect.

"Rebel-'Rouse", Duane Eddy, from Forrest Gump. There are lot of songs from this nugget of Americana -- "Everybody's Talking At Me", "Blowing In The Wind" (performed by the luscious Bobbi Dylan), "Fortunate Sun"(playing alongside the chop-chop-chop of an army helicopter), "All Along The Watchtower", "For What It's Worth (Stop, Hey What's That Sound)", "Break On Through (To The Other Side)", "Volunteers", "Love Her Madly", "Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head", "Free Bird"(played during Jenny's almost-suicide) -- but it's the lonely twang that begins "Rebel-'Rouse" and the speedy, energetic instrumental that follows that gets us and Gump's football career started.

"New Slang", The Shins, from Garden State. Zach Braff really, really owes Natalie Portman for this one(and The Shins too, for that matter). Face it, even the most ironic hipster melted in his vintage t-shirt and Chuck all-stars when Portman flashes that incredible smile as this song comes in strong("Gold teeth and a curse for this town/ were all in my mouth/ Only, i don't know how they got out, dear.").

"Good Enough", Cyndi Lauper, The Goonies. This video for this song, as seen in the film, plays right before Sean Astin and company tie Astin's older brother to a chair with his own exercise band. In the real video, producer Steven Spielberg makes a cameo. God bless DVD extras. And God bless the Truffle Shuffle:

"Cruel Summer", Bananarama, from The Karate Kid. A perfect fit for Daniel LaRusso's first day of school in sunny California, exiled from his native New Jersey. And of course, who could forget the classic fighting montage song, "You're The Best (Around!)" by Joe Esposito. A true 80s piece of art.

"Mandy", by Barry Manilow, from Can't Hardly Wait. For most people Can't Hardly Wait is a very forgettable late 90s teen-comedy, but it met me at the perfect time: heartbroken and barely out of high school. My heart was broken by a girl named Amanda, the same name of Jennifer Love Hewitt's character, who pulls Ethan Embry's heart strings. It doesn't hurt that it's named after a Replacements song either(which of course appears on the soundtrack as well). But it's this Barry Manilow song, that convinces Embry that destiny is going to bring him and Amanda(Mandy) together, that stands out. His best friend dissuades him, telling him it's about Manilow's dog. Later, crestfallen about his failure to win Amanda, Embry wonders: "Wasn't that song Mandy a sign? What if it was about a dog...was I supposed to buy a dog? No, no, it had to be a sign! How often do you hear Mandy on the radio? I haven't heard that song in years!" before learning it's Manilow's birthday and the radio station is playing "Mandy" every hour on the hour. Another interesting thing about this movie, besides a pre-fame appearance by Seth Green, is how many people from it went on to star in the series "Six Feet Under": Lauren Ambrose, Peter Facinelli, Freddy Rodriguez, and Eric Balfour.

The best part, though, was the impromptu performance of "Paradise City" by Hook's Charlie Korsmo(an MIT alumni):

"Dry The Rain", The Beta Band, from High Fidelity. Rob Gordon(John Cusack) plays this song at his record store after boasting "I will now sell five copies of the The Three EPs by The Beta Band". Sure enough, it gets his weekend crowd hooked. A patron asks who it is, then tells Rob that the song is good. And Rob replies with every music snob's favorite line: "I know,".

"Bad Days", The Flaming Lips, from Batman Forever. Sure, there's "Kiss From A Rose" and the U2 song "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me", but this song became seared into my brain when I heard the lyrics "And you hate your boss at your job/Well in your dreams you can blow his head off/in your dreams/show no mercy". A perfect introduction to the just fired, about to become the Riddler Edward Nygma, played by Jim Carrey.

"Summer In The City", The Lovin' Spoonful, from Die Hard 3. As it stands, I think me, my brother, and my father are the only people who believe the third Die Hard movie is brilliant. Maybe this is because we first watched it at four in the morning. Either way, this song opens the movie, and "Die" and "Hard" come together right in sync with the opening drum line and keyboards, as does the subtitle "With A Vengeance". I just really like that, because I'm a dork.


"Stuck In The Middle With You", by Stealer's Wheel, from Reservoir Dogs.

"Let's Stay Together", Al Green, "Son Of A Preacher Man", Dusty Springfield, "You Never Can Tell", Chuck Berry, "Girl, You'll Be A Woman Soon", Neil Diamond(performed by Urge Overkill), and of course "Misirlou" by Dick Dale and his Deftones(it's the surf-sounding title theme).

"I'm Shipping Up To Boston", the Dropkick Murphys, from The Departed. This is my new Irish Pride song. A great song to get pumped up for a night of drinking. Which is really what an Irish Pride song should be.

"It's The End Of The World A We Know It (And I Feel Fine)", by REM, from Tommy Boy. Face it, you can't sing along any better than David Spade and Chris Farely could.