Monday, March 19, 2007

I had an awesome time at South by Southwest this weekend. The best part was meeting up with some old friends I hadn't seen in a long time, but the music was great, too. I even had a little incident at one concert which I reported to Idolator. (I'm JedTheMime… big bonus points to anyone who can place that music reference.)

The rest of the story is: those girls left after Amy Winehouse's set, promising they'd be back for the next band, Razorlight. Then, my friends ran into them in another part of the club and proceeded to shout at them some more in my defense. The girls never came back to where I was. Maybe my friends shamed them into fleeing or maybe they just didn't like Razorlight. But I like to think they were afraid of me… just a little.

And after that show, I read in about a hundred places that Kirsten Dunst was dating the lead singer of Razorlight, Johnny Borrell. So naturally I kicked myself for not spotting her during the concert. And then… guess who was on my plane back to LA Sunday night? Yup, Kiki herself. Flying solo… in coach… in a middle seat. Stars… they're just like us.

Artists I saw:
Pete Townshend at a showcase presented by his girlfriend, Rachel Fuller. Apparently, he played with Mika before I got there, but I was in time to see him jam with Martha Wainwright. (Luckily, I caught Mika the next day… see below.)

Bloc Party. I've never been a huge fan, but I thought they put on a good show. My friends weren't into it, so we left early.

Seth Lakeman. A British folk-rocker. Never heard of him before, but he was an amazing performer who shredded his violin bow by the end of the show. Go see him if you can.

Scott Matthews. Every time I go on vacation, I feel like I miss some big piece of news. This time, that news was apparently a big ice storm in New York, which kept James Morrison from performing. Matthews was his fill-in. Too bad. I was really looking forward to James.

Amy Winehouse. I love the singles, but to be honest, she seems like she's still gaining her footing on stage. Her terrific voice was overshadowed by her terrific band and backup singers. She's obviously very talented, but I have a feeling she'll be a better live performer in a few years.

Razorlight. They don't get much critical respect in the U.S. And before the show, I probably would've admitted sheepishly to liking a few of their songs. Now, I'll proudly call myself a fan. They put on a truly rockin' show. Memo to Kirsten's boyfriend, though: please put a shirt on and look into some looser-fitting pants. No one likes a heroin chic showoff.

Mika. He was long and spindly like a puppet, and he bounced around stage feverishly chirping his catchy songs in his adorable falsetto. I kept thinking of him as Sanjaya with talent, energy and charm. Already a consummate showman… and he definitely, definitely knows it. He's sure to be a huge star. In the U.K., at least.

The Nightwatchman. This is the solo performing name of Tom Morello, of Rage Against the Machine. He played an acoustic set of rage-filled protest songs in a Presbyterian church, a setting that made for some funny between-song banter. His new songs were rousing if generic anti-establishmen anthems, easy to agree with but hard to remember afterward. He got a standing ovation for an acoustic version of "Guerilla Radio" and another standing O at the end. The concert sponsors at the church asked him to keep his cursing to a minimum, so he censored himself except for one well-placed, whispered "shit".

The Procession. I was hoping to stumble across a set by at least one band I'd never heard of whom I'd end up liking. And this was that band: a fun, quirky pop group with some very catchy songs. A friend summed them up best: "They seem like a band from Sesame Street." That's high praise in my book.

The Honey Brothers. Another casualty of the ice storm. Three-fifths of the band got snowed in, so the other two found some musicians at the restaurant where they were having lunch that afternoon, spent a few hours teaching them their songs, and they all went on stage that night. That's the perfect anecdote to capture the spirit of SXSW to me, and it was a fitting end to the musical portion of our weekend.

Some bands I wanted to see but missed:
James Morrison (snowed in), Aqualung (couldn't get in), Spoon, the Stooges (we didn't even try), The Good The Bad & The Queen (heard they weren't good anyway), the Mae Shi, the Broken West, Gruff Rhys (showed up on the wrong night).


Sunday, February 25, 2007

It's so long past 2006 now that it almost seems pointless to do this, but if the Academy Awards can wait this long, I figure why can't I? Also, any year when I can actually find 10 movies worth writing about is a good year these days. Last year, I only had about 5 I like enough to put in a top 10, so I didn't even bother.

The most amazing part is that I only saw 20 movies total last year (less than half my normal), and a 50% success rate ain't bad. That means movies are either getting better or I'm getting better at picking which ones to see (probably the latter). So for whatever it's worth, here's the last 2006 Top 10 movie list you'll probably read:

1. The History Boys - Admittedly, this is the equivalent of a lowest common denominator movie for me. Lovelorn gay teens. Great 80s music that hasn't been agonizingly overplayed. England. It's like everything I enjoy in movies wrapped up into one. And apparently, getting into Oxford or Cambridge is kind of a big deal over there. So I learned something, too. It had great performances, great characters and it had something to say about its subject matter without really Making A Statement. I saw it right after Thanksgiving, and I ate it up.

2. The Prestige - After darkening up the Dark Knight, Christopher Nolan goes back to the genre he does best, the "WTF is going on?" movie. And this one's almost as good as "Memento". I think I saw the twist coming sooner than I was supposed to, but it was still fun watching the puzzle pieces fit into place. And I guess that keeps me from having to see the movie twice, like the marketing people said you needed to in order to appreciate it. It's a shame most people didn't see this movie at all. Hey, marketing people, next time, just try to get people to see it once.

3. Notes on a Scandal - If I had an Academy Award vote, I'd pick Dame Judi over Dame Helen. I'd also vote for this script, which made great use of voiceover to show us how a woman who seemed shy but noble to the world was really a nasty, hilariously clever misanthrope. It could very easily have become a psycho woman revenge flick in the Fatal Attraction/Single White Female mold, but they never pushed Judi Dench's character past the bounds of believability just to give the audience a few more shivers. She was a real person, and her flaws were real, too, and in a strange way, she was able to remain a sympathetic antihero even as you cringed at the things she did.

4. Little Children - In some ways a similar form of discomfort porn to Notes on a Scandal, the entertainment value came mostly from wincing at characters making bad life decisions for good reasons. It's about two characters trapped in marriages not horrendous enough to get out of, but just bad enough that Kate Winslet and Patrick Wilson seem entitled to seek some extra fulfillment elsewhere. Every storyline in the movie was like watching a speeding train hurtling toward a concrete wall - you knew nothing was going to end well for anyone. And it was all the more affecting, because at least while you were watching it, you got the feeling that half the people in the world were probably living out storylines just like this in real life.

5. Thank You For Smoking - My favorite kind of comedy: smart, funny and dark as a nicotine-stained lung. Aaron Eckhart was fantastic as always, and the script was perfect. Plus, it was only an hour and a half, and it's a lot harder to make a good 90 minute movie than it is to make a good three-hour epic. Jason Reitman deserves a lot of credit.

6. Borat - It's best not to think too much about how this movie was made. Were the participants taken advantage of? Was there a script, and does that make it more or less admirable that they pulled off what they did? How staged were the staged scenes and how real were the real ones, and which were which? Ultimately, most of that doesn't really matter. What they ended up with was one of the funniest movies ever made. Sacha Baron Cohen is more than talented, more than a genius: he's a true original. It's too bad that the movie that made his career might have killed it, too. How will he ever pull off another movie like this when everyone knows him now? Here's hoping he finds a way to surprise us.

7. The Devil Wears Prada - Sure, it's formulaic, but there's a reason people use this formula: when it's done right, it works. And instead of just telling us why the devil wore Prada, this movie actually tried to give us some insight into why she was a devil. It helped that the title character was played by Meryl Streep at her most devilish. What could easily have been overplayed as a cartoon character was a real human being, which made her even more hateable -- and loveable, too.

8. The Queen - A rare piece of very recent history and a look at a very private family. It does a great job of showing how a centuries-old institution like the British monarchy and a nearly-century-old woman like Queen Elizabeth can adjust to our very rapidly-changing modern world. Helen Mirren was terrific. It's hard to play a woman whose most notable characteristic is how emotionless she is. But Mirren was able to hint at what was really lurking underneath while maintaining her dignified façade for the public and the audience.

9. Mission: Impossible III - It's a shame Tom Cruise is such an unlikable weirdo these days, because he's still a good actor, and he's still making good movies, even if fewer and fewer people are going to see them. This was the first Mission: Impossible movie that had a coherent, easy-to-follow storyline and that actually got it right: it laid off most of the technical wizardry and political mumbo-jumbo the first two were obsessed with and put the fun first.

10. Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby - This didn't make a lot of people's top 10 lists, but I have to admit, I laughed a lot. I thought it was funnier than Little Miss Sunshine - and more believable, too.


Saturday, January 27, 2007

I know it's late, but here goes.

1. "Modern Love" - The Changes. I hate to say it, but it's true: I'm finally sick of 80s music. At first it was fun to hear "Our House" playing every day during lunchtime on every radio station in town, but after a while, you realize that Madness got more airplay in the 90's and 00's than they ever did in the 80s, and that that has more to do with commerce than nostalgia. So it's a good thing there's music like this that evokes what was good about 80s music without, you know, being 80s music. It has a great, polished-but-not-overproduced, mid-period, never-gonna-cross-over-from-the-alternative-station New Wave sound to it.

2. "No Backbone" - The Lemonheads. What's great about this song is what's great about all the good Lemonheads songs (i.e., the ones that aren't about getting stoned): it leaves you wanting more. The hook is killer, but the song ends before it ever gets repetitive. (It's barely over 3 minutes.) It's full of lyrics that are literate but don't strain to impress you and rhymes so perfectly set up you can't believe you didn't see them coming. But most of all, it suggests a situation and characters you're dying to know more about. Something's wrong in the bedroom? Tell me more... Unfortunately, all you can do is listen again. And again and again and again.

3. "Knock 'Em Out" - Lily Allen. This sounds to me like the long-overdue female response to Young MC's "Bust a Move", wherein a tough chick in a bar tells off the annoying clown clumsily trying to pick her and her friends up by busting his lame-ass moves. And it's just as catchy and hilarious as the original. Maybe in 20 years, some guy will write a song in which a dude returns to his friends after a failed pick up and has to explain why he struck out.

4. "Never Be Lonely" - The Feeling. Such a perfect pop song, it would've been a smash hit 20 years ago. The only hope for it today is if "Grey's Anatomy" decides to give it a spin.

5. "Stuck Between Stations" - The Hold Steady. 2006 was the year indie bands finally discovered Springsteen. Or, at least, it was the year I finally discovered that indie bands had discovered Springsteen. And whether this was an homage, a rip-off or just a soundalike, it was the best one out there. I'm going to get around to doing my 2006 album list if I have time, but when I do (spoiler warning) this will be #1.

6. "Phantom Limb" - The Shins. This didn't get much attention in the year-end critics lists. (It only got three votes in the Idolator poll.) Maybe people just wanted to stick it to Zach Braff. I don't get it, though. It's one of their best songs.

7. "Sewn" - The Feeling. I don't like to put multiple songs by the same artist on these lists, but this was too good to leave off. How is it possible that people have been writing love songs as long as they have, and no one's come up with the lyric "You've got my heart in a headlock" until now?

8. "Quiet Town" - Josh Rouse. It takes you to another place, and even though Rouse clearly adores that place, it's the kind of place I'd only want to visit through song.

9. "Manchester" - The Beautiful South. The same goes for this song.

10. "Side Streets" - Saint Etienne. One of those bands I've always heard about but never really heard. If all their songs are this good, I should listen to them more.

11. "Did I Step On Your Trumpet?" - Danielson. One of the weirdest songs I've ever heard. Also very catchy, very clever and, I hate to repeat myself, but very very very weird. Reminds me of "One Night in Bangkok".

12. "From the Ritz to the Rubble" - Arctic Monkeys. Such a consistent album, I almost could've chosen any one of these songs for the list, but this is the one that sticks with me the most.

13. "Mount Wroclai (Idle Days)" - Beirut. A kid from New Mexico recording under the name of a Middle Eastern city and singing in an Eastern European style. But it works.

14. "Running the World" - Jarvis Cocker. I wish Jarvis were running the world.

15. "Another Sunny Day" - Belle and Sebastian. A little of this group goes a long way for me, which is actually a big compliment if you focus not on the little but on the long way. Seriously, this song is awesome.

16. "We're the Pet Shop Boys" - Robbie Williams. The ultimate proof that it doesn't really matter what someone is saying in a song. It can still be good even if it doesn't make total sense. I mean, he's not the Pet Shop Boys. He's not even a "we". But this is one of the classiest things he's ever done. (And besides, the Pet Shop Boys produced it.)

17. "Luna Park" - Pet Shop Boys. They're probably best known for their high energy dance songs -- or at least for "West End Girls", the only song of theirs most people still remember -- but the Boys also have plenty of songs like this lurking in the background of their albums: slow, moody, haunting. Perfect.

18. "Roscoe" - Midlake.

19. "Become the Enemy" - The Lemonheads.

20. "Breaking Free" - Garbriella & Troy. The fact that people are saying "High School Musical" is "Grease" for today's kids makes me realize how much better we had it. Not that I blame "High School Musical" for being kinda lame. It must've been hard for them to resist that extra 25 years of clichés they had to rip off. But the kids were all pretty talented, and some of the songs were lots of fun, especially this one.


Sunday, October 29, 2006

It's nice to know we live in a time when gay people can have kids. The big difference that remains between us and straight people, of course, is that we can't have kids by accident. We'll never have kids thanks to a busted condom or a drunken night of "What the Hell. Let's just go for it" or because this girl, Katie, in our fourth period English swore that you can't get pregnant your first time. All it takes for straight people to have kids is a penis, a vagina and a six pack. But for Drew and me, it will take planning and fretting and a level of dedication bordering on obsessive -- thankfully, all things of which we are extremely capable.

We've been talking about having kids almost since our first date. The more we talked, the more serious we got. And the more serious we got, the scarier it became. So we made ourselves a promise that we'd stop talking about it and stop worrying about it until 2007, at which point we'd begin seriously exploring our options.

Not talking about kids is a lot harder than we thought. I don't know if you've ever noticed it, but kids are everywhere. And the more you try to avoid them, the more places they pop up. At the park, at Arby's, at the 11 P.M. show of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I'm telling you, someday, these kids are gonna take over the world.

And whenever Drew and I see kids, we share those little, knowing glances that say, "Someday...", and Drew laughs his Little Kid Laugh, and I toss out some random weird baby name just to see what Drew's reaction is. "What about Buster?" "No, that's a dog's name!" "What about "Dexter?" "No, that's a serial killer's name." "What about Fenster?" "No. Just no."

So we jumped the gun a little.

On Friday morning, we met with a family planning therapist. Yeah, I had no idea such a thing existed either. But she's been through this with lots of other gay couples, so she's going to help us figure out the million little things we need to figure out. Adoption or surrogacy? If adoption, then from where? If surrogacy, then who? Should one of us stay home full-time after we have the kid? And if so, who? Whose last name should the kid have? Do we really want to raise a kid in LA? Can we afford this? Are we ready to give up our lives and our freedom? Formula or breastfeeding? Well, okay, when you're gay parents, at least there's one decision you don't have to make.

So this was a teeny, tiny first step in the process. We're talking about it. With a professional. And our first session went really well. We discussed our families, why we want kids, what our fears are, what questions we have and why we know in our hearts that this is going to be worth all the trouble. The best part of the session was near the end, when the therapist threw up her hands and exclaimed, "You guys are terrific!" I mean seriously, she actually said that. One of the reasons I'd always avoided any kind of therapy is that I didn't want someone with professional credentials telling me how messed up I was. It was a nice surprise to find out it could work the other way, too.

And it made me think of this. As an April Fool's joke a while back, I told people Drew and I were adopting a baby. I tried to make it sound absurd so no one would actually fall for it, but they did. Some people fell hard. And some of them are still mad at me over that prank. They're not mad because I made them look foolish. It's because they wanted so badly for it to be true.

One of the reasons I wanted to write about this (since apparently the last event in my life I deemed blog-worthy was getting a new pair of Nikes) was because I know that Drew and I are embarking on our own version of Operation Iraqi Freedom, a long, messy battle that a lot of people won't agree with and which may never, ever end. And at some point after the ten millionth heartbreak along the way, I'll want to look back and remember how I felt when this whole process started.

So how do I feel? I feel happy -- really happy, so happy that I can't imagine how much happier I'll be when and if Drew and I actually do have a kid. After meeting with the therapist on Friday, I buzzed through another boring day at my lousy job as if I'd just had ten Jolt colas -- and probably some crack, too, although to be honest, I've always been too scared to try either one. And that's just at the thought of having a kid.

I have no idea how this process will end. Whether we'll actually have a kid at all, and if we do, then what that little person will be like and what name he or she will have (Mason? Dixon?). But the main reason I wanted to write about this was so that some day in the future when that unknown, nameless kid wants to know why he or she came into the world (or at least into our care), we'll have something to point to to show him where he came from, and how badly he was wanted by his Dad and -- Dad? Pops? Man-Mommy?

Crap. There's another decision to make.


Sunday, July 23, 2006

A few things that have happened since the last time I posted:

1. Suri Cruise was (possibly) born
2. All Hell broke loose in the Middle East (again)
3. I had another birthday (regrettably)

Among my birthday gifts this year were a pair of customizable Nike sneakers. Apparently, if you buy a pair of sneakers on their website, you can choose the colors you want for your laces, your interior lining and, naturally, your swoosh.

But, more importantly for this story, you can also customize the lettering stitched into the back of the shoe. My friend Matthew correctly guessed that a pair of custom-designed Nikes would be a gift that would put a large, appreciative smile on my face. He even had the perfect words to stitch into the shoes. "Krazy" on the left shoe, "Killa" on the right.

Well, it turns out the good folks at Nike have certain standards, and the word "Killa" does not meet said standards. Now, I can totally appreciate a company that doesn't want criminal epithets, sarcastic or not, emblazoned on their footwear. And I doubly appreciate them scanning not just for the word "Killer", but for its abbreviated, hip-hop equivalent as well.

Matthew couldn't think of a suitable plan B, so he left it up to me to decide how to personalize my gift. As a result, the present he gave me on my birthday was a picture of some partially-designed sneakers, an amusing story... and, as I saw it, a challenge.

When there's stitching to be done, I'm not the kind of guy who can just settle on something like "Jerry Rulz" and go jogging happily on his way. Knowing that Nike was scanning for words it found offensive made me wonder just what one could get away with, and determined to push the boundaries as far as possible with the pair of sneakers that would someday arrive in my mail.

Well, as you can guess, when they introduced this service, Nike thought of just about everything people might want to put on its shoes that it would not want to sully the good name of the Swoosh.

Like I said... just about everything. After a lot of trial and error on Matthew's and my parts, a lot of head-scratching and a little thinking outside the box, we finally found something that improbably passed muster. And a few weeks later, I received the following shoes in some beautiful Nike packaging...

I admit, when the words first cleared the search engine, I had my misgivings. Maybe this was just silly and immature. Maybe it was a dickish thing to do. Maybe I was taking advantage of a perfectly good promotional gimmick for no other reason than to see if I could.

But eventually, I gave into that voice in my head that said, "Just do it."


Wednesday, February 22, 2006

I remember one day, back in 1996, I came to the very disturbing realization that kids born in 1980 were now old enough to drive. It was one of the most horrifying moments of my life. I mean, 1980! That's, like, the 80's! Well, actually, it's not just "like the 80's", it is the 80's! These kids were born after Diff'rent Strokes and Blondie and Jimmy Carter. They shouldn't be driving cars. They're young! That was the first time in my life I ever truly felt old.

Well, now it's 2006, and I just realized that this means that kids born in 1990 can drive. Nineteen-freakin'-ninety! Can you believe that? They were born after Cheers and Ronald Reagan, and they think Duran Duran's first hit was "Ordinary World", if they even remember Duran Duran at all, since they were three years old when that song came out. Unbelievable.

And you know what? It feels absolutely fantastic. You know why? Because those little fuckers born in 1980 are gonna start to feel old now.

Ha, ha! Suck it, you little mid-20's snots!


Monday, January 30, 2006

Well, it's been forever since I've posted, but I couldn't let a year go by without doing my best-of lists. Then again, it was such a lousy year for movies that maybe I can let this year go by without doing my best-of list. But it was a good year for music, so, even though 2006 is almost 1/12 over, here are my favorite albums of 2005:

10. Aqualung. Strange and Beautiful. I've already described my creepy obsession with the Aqualung guy's creepy song about obsession. But in a year when the new Coldplay album was so bad that it even made me like the old Coldplay albums less, I was very grateful for the arrival of Aqualung. Besides the title track, Brighter Than Sunshine was such a good romantic comedy theme song it was a shame they wasted it on A Lot Like Love, and Another Little Hole is far better than most third-best-song-on-the-album songs I've heard lately. It's nice that there are still bands out there who knew how to write good Coldplay songs, even if not Coldplay themselves. Download: Brighter Than Sunshine.

9. Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. Original Broadway Cast Recording. Composers have been struggling for decades to make Broadway scores out of rock music. Sometimes they succeed, but usually, their efforts fail both as showtunes and as rock. David Yazbek knows that the more natural link is between Broadway and pop music, so he fills the score for Dirty Rotten Scoundrels with bouncy ear candy. And the lyrics are even better. Sure, they straddle the line between clever and too-clever so closely that there are bound to be a few lines that make you wince ("Her family fortune is obscene/ Her dad invented Orangina/ Now Sit Back and watch/ While I turn up the juice"). But most of them are so witty they make me smile even after the hundredth time I've heard them. And yes, I've probably listened to this album that much. Download: Here I Am.

8. Ben Folds. Songs for Silverman. I think things have finally come full circle for Ben Folds. The guy who was so uncool you had to love him is now so well-loved by his loyal fans that it's cooler to hate him again. Well, whatever. I like this album. I like the snarky lyrics, I like the non-snarky lyrics. I like the Billy Joel inflections as well as the prog touches. I like how he casually mentions playing basketball with Elliott Smith and how he included a song about his daughter on this album because he had a song about his son on his last album, which is only fair, even if she got screwed because her song isn't as good as his. True, at first, I didn't like this album much at all, but by the end of the year, when I looked at my iTunes' most played list, these songs were all over it. Download: Bastard.

7. Hard-Fi. Stars of CCTV. Listening to this album made me think about what a perfect band name The Clash is. It’s simple, it's memorable, it evokes the style of music the band plays, and it sounds just edgy enough that it'll make you think you can piss your parents off by listening to them. Well, it's too bad The Clash was taken, because it would've been a perfect name for this band, too, as Hard-Fi fuses punk, ska and gritty white boy soul much the same way that band did. Instead, by attempting to find a band name that was all of the things that made The Clash such a good band name, they ended up with one of the absolute stupidest-sounding band names in history. It's a good thing the music is good enough to overcome it. Full of anthems about British thug life, Stars of CCTV picks you up and plants you down in the middle of some rowdy pub in the midlands where you’re bound to get your arse kicked within a matter of minutes by some toothless soccer hooligan. Remember that riot Kaiser Chiefs were predicting? Well, Stars of CCTV delivered it. Download: Tied Up Too Tight. (Don't spend $20+ on the import, by the way. You can get it on iTunes for under $10.)

6. Brendan Benson. The Alternative to Love. Brendan Benson has such a gift for crafting simple-but-catchy pop melodies, he could easily have a second career writing songs for the NSYNC or Ashlee Simpson if he wanted to. That's not an insult. As mindless as most pop music might be, you have to admit, the best pop songs -- I'm talking about I Want it That Way and Baby One More Time -- are just plain fun. Imagine an album full of songs as upbeat and perfect as those, but with lyrics written for grownups. That's exactly what Brendan Benson delivers with The Alternative to Love. If you consider the Backstreet Boys a guilty pleasure, welcome to Backstreet without the guilt. Download: Cold Hands (Warm Heart).

5. The Magic Numbers. The Magic Numbers. There are moments of magic all over this album, but, as with all the best magic, if you're not paying close enough attention, you may not notice them. That's because the Magic Numbers know how to make you wait for the best parts of a song, layering in harmonies on the fifth or sixth verse that weren't there before, or adding a subtle violin to the bridge. As a result, the songs never outstay their welcome, they reward repeat listens, and they have an epic feel even if they're no longer than most songs. So while some bands want to wow you with the aural equivalent of making the Statue of Liberty disappear, the Magic Numbers are content just to pull a shiny new quarter from your ear. The tricks may not be revolutionary, but they still impress. I mean, nobody wants the Statue of Liberty to go away, but honestly, who couldn't use a shiny new quarter? Download: Which Way to Happy.

4. Bright Eyes. I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning. It's easy to hate Conor Oberst -- for being young, for being overhyped, for the money you wasted on that crappy other album he put out this year. But you can't hate him for this. Ten gorgeous, moving songs so full of emotion you feel exhausted when you’re done listening to them. At first, that extended spoken-word intro to At The Bottom of Everything sounds way too precious, but by the end of the song - one of the album's best - you couldn't imagine it without it. I have to admit, he's earned the hype. But I still hate him for being like, 12, or whatever. Download: First Day of My Life.

3. Franz Ferdinand. You Could Have It So Much Better. In the self-important world of indie rock, where everyone's out to be experimental and to Make a Statement, Franz Ferdinand have a much loftier goal: to entertain you. And they're good at it. This album is loud, rude, cheeky, coy, it flies by at a million miles an hour, and the lyrics are full of moments that make you go, "Wait a second, did he just say what I think he said?" There's nothing subtle about this album, and nothing edgy or challenging or groundbreaking. But it will kick your ass onto the dance floor faster than just about any rock album you've ever heard. Given the fact that I hear such a relatively small percentage of the music that's released every year, I don't usually like to make sweeping statements I can't back up. But I feel pretty confident saying that this is the most fun album made by anyone all year. The only thing wrong with You Could Have It So Much Better is the title, because it doesn't get much better than this. Download: Do You Want To.

2. British Sea Power. Open Season. Listening to this album reminded me of tuning into the alternative station back in high school. For me, that was WLIR, which later became WDRE and later still became a Spanish station. It broadcast from Long Island, so the reception where I lived in New Jersey was typically terrible. But back when alternative music presented an actual alternative to what most of the jerks at your high school were listening to, WLIR/DRE would crown one song every week as the "Shriek of the Week" (originally, "The Screamer") and the static that would pervade on my radio would only add to the forbidden feel as I tuned in to see what had made the cut. When I wanted to hear the coolest songs my friends would be listening to in six months -- or, more likely, never -- I would constantly check the radio station for updates on which songs were leading in the voting. It was like taking a trip to an alternate universe where it was cool to be different and where the most popular song in the world was completely unfamiliar to virtually everyone I knew. British Sea Power sound like a lot of the bands that ruled the airwaves of LIR and DRE back in the day but never made it to mainstream stations, from Echo and the Bunnymen to the Psychedelic Furs. And just about any song on Open Season would've made a fine "Shriek of the Week". So it's no wonder this didn't get any airplay and that hardly anyone I know has ever heard of them. But that's part of what makes it so good… even if there's no static this time. Download: It Ended on an Oily Stage.

1. Sufjan Stevens. Come On Feel The Illinoise. Sufjan Stevens' state albums (Greetings From Michigan and this album), with their epic songwriting, sultry crooning and geography-obsessed lyrics, sound like an odd mix of Rufus Wainwright and Schoolhouse Rock. It may not sound like a winning combination on paper, but Stevens’ gorgeous songs take you to all kinds of magical places. Sure, those places probably bear only a passing resemblance to the cities mentioned in the songs' titles, but that's beside the point. Although the lyrics might sound silly at times -- like, yeah, it's cute that alligator rhymes with Decatur, but what does that have to do with anything? – it turns out they're actually impeccably researched, and Sufjan is really just that much of a genius. To top it all off, the album has a title that's so absolutely adorable, it made me not hate puns for a few minutes. If Sufjan is serious about doing one of these albums for all 50 states, I can't wait for Utah Shook Me All Night Long and Sweet Child O' Maine. Download: Jacksonville.


Sunday, December 11, 2005

Good news... A piece I wrote was just included in the new installment of Fresh Yarn! It concerns a whimsically painful memory from my childhood, which might explain a lot about me if you're still trying to figure me out. Here's where to go if you want to check it out.

And for anyone who wandered over here after reading the Fresh Yarn piece, welcome! This is probably the best place to start and will lead you to some of the pieces on this blog I'm -- well, let's be honest -- less embarrassed by. Happy reading!


Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Ordinarily, I would never help someone in need, much less a complete stranger. But the three Korean ladies in the parking structure at the Grove were so nice and so lost, and they caught me at a time when I was bored and in no hurry and seeking adventure. Plus, they walked up to me and said, "Excuse me", so I was kind of stuck.

"Where you know is store?" the one lady asked me in broken English. She held out a crudely drawn map on a sheet of notebook paper. It contained a sketch of the Grove, which was basically a giant rectangle that said "Grove" on it. And inside, in no particular location, was a tinier rectangle labeled "T-Mobil".

They had clearly embarked on a daunting adventure in an unknown land, and this sheet of paper was someone's attempt to help them.

Below the map, someone had written for them a few English phrases: "Indoor mall", "I do not speak English", "I would like to pay my bill" and, optimistically, I thought, "Thank you very much".

"Are you looking for T-Mobile?" I asked.

"Yes! Yes!" all three ladies said excitedly. "T-Mobile! T-Mobile!"

"I think there's one here, but I'm not sure where."

They stared back at me blankly. The lady with the paper took another look at it. "Indoor mall?" she asked.

"Actually, it's an outdoor mall."

"Oh... outdoor mall!" the lady with the map repeated.

But one of the other ladies -- the mean one -- was having none of it. "Indoor mall!" she insisted. "Indoor mall!" She pointed at the phrase on the paper to make her point.

The nice one stepped in to broker a peace. "Indoor mall?" she asked again, hopefully.

"Yes," I said. "Indoor mall."

"T-Mobile!" the mean one said again.

I waved for them to follow me, and we started walking toward the elevator. "There's an information desk downstairs," I told them. "I'll take you there."

"I do not speak English," the mean one said.

The nice one was the only one brave enough to attempt to go off book. "My sister, Korea," she said as we rode the elevator.

"Oh, she's Korean?"

"Yes! Yes! Korean!" She got excited like this any time I simply repeated something she had said.

"Are you visiting L.A.?" I asked.

"Yes! Yes! L.A. Live L.A.!" she said.

"Oh, you live here?"

"Live Koreatown," she said. "English not good. Never English talk Koreatown."

"Oh, that's okay. Your English is better than my Korean!" I said, with a slight chuckle.

Blank stare.

Once downstairs, we waited patiently at the information desk, and as soon as it was our turn, the mean one tapped me on the shoulder and pointed to the employee behind the desk until I walked up to him.

"These ladies are looking for T-Mobile," I explained.

"There's a cart by Santa's house," he said. "Make a right at the fountain, and it's up by Barnes & Noble."

I turned to the nice one, and she was looking at me, confused. She hadn't understood a word the information guy had said. "T-Mobile!" the mean one shouted. I now realized it was my job to take them all the way to the T-Mobile cart.

I waved for them to follow me, and we walked down the paved pathway toward the Grove's main street. The nice one looked at the other two and waved her arms to indicate the vast expanse in front of them. "Outdoor mall!" she said, then she looked at me with a smile.

We got to the fountain just as it was beginning its hourly water show, so that led to a slight delay. "Ooh! Ooh! Water!" the women cooed. They scurried up to the fountain like little children, eliciting a shriek of joy every time a gust of water shot up. Sometimes, they would say something in Korean, which was probably the Korean word for water. I have to admit, it was pretty cute.

Afterward, we started walking again. We walked in complete silence, because I didn't know what else to say that they might understand. Finally, when the T-Mobile cart came into view, I pointed it out and said, "Look! T-Mobile!"

"T-Mobile! T-Mobile!" the ladies repeated. We were all grateful for the break in the awkward silence.

As we approached the cart, I thought about how funny a group we must've seemed. Three old Korean ladies and me. I was kind of hoping it would require a long explanation, and I'd get to tell the T-Mobile saleswoman the whole story. "They thought this was an indoor mall! Can you believe it?"

The T-Mobile saleswoman greeted us with a smile. "Can I help you?"

"Yes, these ladies want to pay their bill," I said.

"I would like to pay my bill," the nice one repeated.

"Okay, no problem," the saleswoman said.

"They don't speak much English," I told her.

"That's fine," she said. "I can take it from here." Obviously, my relationship to the women was perfectly clear to her. It wouldn't take any explanation. She could take it from there. I kind of wanted to stay and help, but there really wasn't anything else I could do. I had already given the saleswoman all the information I had, and it wasn't like her Korean translation skills could be any worse than mine. This was my cue to leave.

So I waved goodbye to the women and wished them good luck as I headed to Barnes & Noble. As I walked away, even the mean one smiled at me.

"Thank you very much," they said.


Monday, November 28, 2005

It's probably impossible to separate "Rent" the musical from "Rent" the tragic backstory. But that's not necessarily a bad thing. As everyone knows, nine years ago -- that's 4,730,400 minutes for you "Rent"-heads -- the show premiered Off-Broadway the day after its creator died unexpectedly at the age of 35. Now that "Rent" is a movie, the tragedy hits home in a new way, not just because it's one more thing Larson didn't live to see his creation become but because while watching it, you can't help thinking that if he'd lived, he would've written at least 2 or 3 better shows by now.

As anyone who really loves "Rent" knows -- and I'm not talking about the people who've seen it nine hundred times, as obsession is very different from love, which allows you to see something's flaws -- the show is a mess. It's poorly plotted, has more than a few clunky lyrics (Every time I hear "I think they meant it/ When they said you can't buy love/ Now I know you can rent it/ A new lease you are, my love... on life!", I cringe a little) and isn't exactly clear on just what it wants to say.

What "Rent" the movie does right is understanding that at its core, the show is about the notion of family and how in some ways, the truest family isn't the one we're born into as children but the one we cobble together for ourselves when we become adults. The first time I got choked up during the movie was in the opening scene, which features original cast members from the show belting out "Rent"'s signature song "Seasons of Love" on an otherwise empty stage. It's not just because the song is absolutely gorgeous, the "525,600 minutes" refrain making it the world's first gospel song for the obsessive compulsive. It's because seeing the original cast members reunited as their old characters shows you what else the show created, making a family of sorts out of its actors -- you know, except for the two who got canned.

There's something really heartwarming about seeing 6 of the 8 original cast members back together again, but after watching the movie, I think there's at least one more role they should've recast. They're all good singers, and when you were in row J of the second balcony, that's all that mattered. But the unforgiving close-ups of a camera lens point out the vast differences in acting ability among 1996's most celebrated ensemble. Adam Pascal comes off as especially weak, focusing entirely on the brooding aspect of his rock star character and forgetting that he's supposed to be a man in love. One of "Rent"'s biggest flaws has always been that the song Pascal's character, Roger, sings about not being able to write a great song is infinitely better than the song he eventually writes, a generic power ballad which is supposed to make us think that his writer's block has been broken. It doesn't help that Pascal sings that final-act love song, "Your Eyes", as if he's taking part in a hostage video rather than confessing his love to a woman he nearly lost.

Poor Rosario Dawson has to share almost every scene with Pascal, and he barely ever looks at her. At least she has her character's drug addiction to give her some fulfillment as an actress. I'm sure at some point, the studio suggested filling Pascal's role with an actual rock star like Adam Levine or Jesse McCartney, and somebody fought to keep Pascal instead. It's the one note on which the nostalgia factor hurt the film. Sure, it would've been cheesy to see Ryan Cabrera or someone like that alongside the rest of the cast, but he couldn't have been any worse as an actor, and at least he's used to singing songs as terrible as "Your Eyes".

On the other hand, the best of the "Rent" bunch by far is Jesse L. Martin. Martin is bursting with charisma every time he's on screen, and with the possible exceptions of Dawson and Idina Menzel, he's the only one who ever seems to be having any fun. That's not to say he doesn't have the dramatic chops his role requires, just that he understands that a character can go through extreme pain and still have a soul. He succeeds exactly where Pascal fails, in making us believe that he's in love, with the world's worst drag queen, no less. And his big song, "I'll Cover You (Reprise)" is the movie's highlight.

I've never hated Chris Columbus the way some people have. He could make a hundred bad films, and I'll still be grateful that he brought "Home Alone" to the world. (If that says more than you wanted to know about my taste in films, so be it.) As the director of "Rent", he makes a lot of good choices, like cutting some of the show's worst songs (If only he'd spared us "Today 4 U" as well, I'd say he should get an Oscar) and translating the sung-through transitions into spoken dialogue, which worked surprisingly well. And he even makes some of the mediocre songs, like "Tango:Maureen", better with some clever staging.

Still, I wish he'd shown more imagination with a few of the production numbers. As entertaining as it is to see Jesse L. Martin doing calisthenics on a subway car during "Santa Fe", wouldn't it have been more fun to dissolve to a dream sequence of his fantasy coming true? There he is, with his Vegan Cafe/Philosophy Reading Room nestled in among the gun shops and barbeque pits of Main Street Santa Fe. Meanwhile, Angel sings a torch song in some roughneck bar down the street for a bunch of cowboys who don't realize she's a man... until she leaves the stage and touches up her makeup in the men's room. And then, we come back to Jesse L. doing backflips on the F train. Now, that's how a movie musical's supposed to be.

Some of the reviews I've read have rather nastily attacked the movie for presenting a phony, antiseptic version of bohemia. My main problem with the movie, you could say, is that it wasn't phony enough. It would've been nice to see more surreal moments of movie musical magic like in "Tango:Maureen". Musicals by their very nature are fantasies, and the best musicals realize that. Once you have characters spontaneously breaking into song, you earn the poetic license to make them a little cartoonish. The audience knows what they're getting going in, and nobody expects "Rent" to be "Panic in Needle Park", the same way no one left "Chicago" thinking that women actually sing and dance on Death Row.

Another minor quibble: whoever decided to set the story in 1989 created at least one anachronism, since "Thelma & Louise", which is referenced in a song lyric, wasn't released until 1991.

But what makes "Rent" worth seeing, and remembering... and seeing again, is those songs. I don't mean all of them, but I mean the more-than-half of them that are absolutely stunning. "Seasons of Love", "I'll Cover You" (and its reprise), "Santa Fe", "Take Me or Leave Me", "Rent", "La Vie Boheme", "What You Own", "One Song Glory", "Will I?". "Rent" has more pure showstoppers than just about any musical I can think of, each one both insanely catchy and deeply moving. It's the work of an extremely talented guy who had a deep connection to and love for his subject matter. "Rent" isn't perfect, but genius rarely is.

During the movie's finale, which features another great song, the characters attempt to crystallize the movie's message with lines like "There's only now/ There's only here/ Give in to love/ Or live in fear". Whether or not you'll swallow those lyrics comes down to how the actors sell them, and it's telling that Jesse L. Martin seems to be the only one who's smiling. It's a shame the other actors don't seem to realize -- or weren't directed to express -- that they're singing a song about hope. After nine years of riding the "Rent" train, it's the last moment they'll ever play these characters, and it would've been nice to know that they'd enjoyed their trip, to see them hugging and making eye contact and such, instead of staring into space as if struggling to convey some really heavy message to the cosmos about What The Audience Should Take Home With Them. I think this was the movie's biggest mistake, and it's the reason "Rent" is ultimately not about hope, as it so desperately wants to be, but merely about loss. And lost opportunity.



I'd like to make a plea to all the aspiring filmmakers out there: Please don't see "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang". I know you want to. I know Shane Black -- your hero, your Salinger, your Jesus -- is back, and that you're dying to see what he's been up to. I know it will be an orgasmic experience for you just to bask in the glow of his seven-figure-paycheck-earning greatness. When I saw it, many of you were in the crowd laughing your asses off and simultaneously plotting out your next screenplay in your head. And that's exactly why we need you to avoid seeing this. For the future of cinema, please, stay away from this film.

To everyone else, I fully recommend going. "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" is the first great movie to come out in eons. Well, okay, maybe it's not that good. But it's the first movie worthy of hyperbole in at least a few months.

It's nice to see Shane Black back, because he has a lot to atone for, since he ruined movies and everything. Okay, so he ruined movies the same way Steven Spielberg and Quentin Tarantino did, by mastering a b-grade genre so well that he inspired countless people less talented than him to imitate him. But whatever cinematic pleasures Shane Black has given us in the past are more than overshadowed by all the bad movies we've had jammed down our throats by Shane Black wannabes desperate to cook up their own "Lethal Weapon" franchise.

In this movie, Black uses a sarcastic, self-aware narrator who makes Hollywood in-jokes and chastises himself whenever he screws up the storytelling. It's very funny, but it's not like he invented this. He's doing a slight twist on the standard film noir voice-over. To his minions, however, it will seem revelatory. It's the kind of gimmick that can be immensely entertaining in the right hands. And when done well, it also seems very easy to do. Aspiring filmmakers, please be aware when you see this movie that you're watching the work of a talented professional. For all our sakes, please don't try this at home.

Because it's a Shane Black movie, there also has to be a vaguely homoerotic male duo at the center. Only this time, it's a lot less vague, because one of them is actually gay. We know this because his character's name is "Gay Perry", and I would be willing to bet that it was actually printed that way in the script over every line of his dialogue. This isn't the kind of movie where a character just happens to be gay, either. This being a Shane Black film, Gay Perry's homosexuality is like his superpower. It's a factor in every single thing his character says and everything that is said about him, and more than once, he uses it as a tool to get him out of trouble or to thwart the bad guys. In the climactic scene -- okay, I won't ruin it, but let's just say being gay saves the day.

All the gay stuff is too silly to be offensive, and I get the feeling Black meant it to be progressive. I'm sure he'll be stunned when it fails to win him any honors from GLAAD. But it won't get him in any trouble either, and it'll probably do more to make gay people seem cool than a thousand afterschool specials ever could.

The plot of this film is utterly confusing, and when I walked out of the theater, I was still trying to piece together exactly what had happened -- which is to say that Black totally nails the storytelling techniques of film noir. I've never understood one of those damn movies, but it's rare that I find any of them half as entertaining as this one.

Oh, and Robert Downey Jr. is fantastic. But you already knew that.

Ultimately, "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" is the kind of movie made by someone who loves movies and who makes his love contagious.

And that's exactly that contagion that I'm afraid of.


Tuesday, October 11, 2005

The only thing worse than finding out your TV show's ratings are in the toilet (well, except for, you know, a massive hurricane destroying your city or an earthquake that kills tens of thousands of people or getting the bird flu or whatever happened in Iraq today or about a billion other things) is finding out your TV show's ratings are in the toilet and then realizing you still have six more episodes to produce. That's seven weeks of exhausting, depleting, stress-filled work that consumes you from dawn to dusk and then, thanks to anxiety-induced nightmares, until dawn again. All for a show no one's watching.

You start telling yourself things like, "Well, the experience has still been amazing" and "Hey, the money's good" and "If nothing else, I got to meet Omarosa". She was friendly and funny and she didn't abuse me like she abused the producer on "The Surreal Life". She brought a digital camera because she wanted pictures, and she even asked for a picture with me -- me! She took down my email address so she could send me a copy. Sure, she never sent it, but the point is: Omarosa has my email address! What could be better than that? Then those thoughts pass and you think about getting your resume ready -- fast. And then you wonder if you should even bother putting this show on it.

You google your show for hours hoping for some kind of validation on the internets, thinking somehow it might all be worth it if some cult band of loser kooks were obsessing over the product of your endless, soul-depleting labor. After hundreds of hyperlinks lead to nothing more than a TV listing rehash of the network's last press release, you treasure a post like this. Tell me more, random craigslist poster from Beijing. Please expound on the word "masterpiece". Please tell me why you're "betting on this one". Please tell me where you saw Kathy Griffin. I'm sure she was in there if you say she was, but I sure don't remember her ever coming to the set. Maybe the Beijing version of the show is somehow different than the one they show over here. I'm sure that's it.

You wonder what you can do to change things. If I get all my friends to watch, and they get all their friends to watch and they all have their parents watch, too... nah, it won't work. Joe's parents don't even get cable.

I got excited when I saw that my show was on Then I realized that every show was on, and that we only had one vote to save us -- mine. No one even cared enough to vote "I don't care either way".

It's gotten so bad that I've started to cringe whenever one of my friends tells me how much they like the show -- not because it's so tough to tell them how poorly it's been doing, but because every time I find out someone in our audience is a friend of mine, our ratings seem even less impressive. Isn't anyone besides my friends watching?

Then, last week, I found out what was worse than finding out the ratings were in the toilet and realizing there were still six shows left to produce: finding out the ratings were in the toilet and being told there were no shows left to produce. We've been cancelled. I thought I'd never again feel as bad about a TV show being cancelled as I did with "It's Your Move" in 1985. But as it turns out, when you're earning a paycheck from it, it's worse.

It's not like I really spent a lot of time dreaming that the show would run for ten years or that they'd have lavishly-produced DVD box sets where I could reveal backstage tidbits on the commentary tracks like, "They put bars on the contestant benches to keep them from sitting comfortably" or "Originally, those mannequins on stage were naked, and it looked really creepy". The only daydreaming I ever did was about selling the format overseas, and that was only because I wanted to see what weird twisted things other countries would do with it, like a soft-core flesh parade in Belgium or a sadistic game show in Japan where losers were administered electric shocks. If I hadn't come up with this idea, I'd tell myself proudly, the flesh on Natomi's arm would never have been singed by 900 volts and she wouldn't have won that six pounds of crab meat.

Sure, it could be worse. My show will live on in a drastically scaled-down form on the internet for the next six weeks, which is more than most cancelled shows get. But it's sad to see how fast all the work we did could be undone. The set has been broken down, the contestants won't be flying back to LA again, most of the staff has been fired (though thankfully, not me -- yet). Maybe next time I read that a TV show gets cancelled, I won't be so snarky about it. And along those lines, might I offer my deepest, most sincere condolences to everyone at "Just Legal".

I need some cheering up. Omarosa, if you're out there, send the picture, please!


Tuesday, August 23, 2005

That Kyle is a smart boy. He knows the best way to get me to post again is to tag me with a music meme. So, here goes...

The instructions are:
List ten songs that you are currently digging... it doesn't matter what genre they are from, whether they have words, or even if they're no good, but they must be songs you're really enjoying right now. Post these instructions, the artists, and the ten songs in your blog. Then tag five other people to see what they're listening to.

Here's what's currently floating around my head:

  • Forever Lost - The Magic Numbers
  • It Ended On An Oily Stage - British Sea Power
  • Twin Cinema - New Pornographers
  • All These Things That I've Done - The Killers
  • No Surprises - Radiohead
  • Another Little Hole - Aqualung
  • I Hope Tomorrow is Like Today - Guster featuring Ben Kweller
  • Lives of Crime - Fruit Bats
  • Me Plus One - Annie
  • Yesterday Threw Everything At Me - Athlete
I'm tagging people I know who also like to post about music, or who also haven't posted much lately. (I'll let you figure out which category you belong to.) Karen, Drew, the Joes, Mikey, and Hilary.


Sunday, August 07, 2005

My favorite song right now -- and the way my mind works, this is a designation that changes almost hourly -- is called "Strange & Beautiful" by Aqualung. It's an insanely pretty ballad that's far more complicated than it seems at first. There are multiple levels of deception at work, starting with the fact that Aqualung, according to reports I've read, isn't a band but rather just one multi-talented guy who tries to pass himself off as a band, much like the Eels or Prince & the Revolution. And although "they" are named after a Jethro Tull album, the name Aqualung doesn't quite fit the group's sound. If Aqualung Guy wanted to pay tribute to a band that influenced him, he would've been better off naming himself Parachutes.

What's so intriguing about "Strange & Beautiful" is that it belongs to that creepy subgenre of romantic ballads which were clearly intended by the songwriter to be heartbreaking tales of unrequited love, but which come across to the listener more like the desperate ravings of a stalker. The all-time classic of this genre, of course, is "Every Breath You Take" by the Police, which is sung by Sting with so much heartache and despondency that you can't help but feel sorry for the song's narrator (kids, this was ages before "Brand New Day", and yes, as your grandparents will tell you, at one time, the guy was cool). But just when you start to hope he'll someday get the girl, young Gordon Sumner caps it off with "... I'll be watching you", and you instantly want to both take a shower and call 911.

The Aqualung song also starts off innocently enough:

I've been watching your world from afar/
I've been trying to be where you are/
And I've been secretly falling apart.../

Aw, what a poor, sweet loser, right? Your heart breaks for the guy. Then he gets to the chorus:

I'll put a spell on you.../
You'll fall asleep/
I'll put a spell on you/
And when I wake you/
I'll be the first thing you'll see/
And you'll realize that you love me.

He's so proud of his spellcasting ability that he makes "I'll Put a Spell on You" the subtitle to the song. Okay, so maybe the whole spell thing is merely intended as some sort of lovelorn daydream, but it's the kind of daydream that's predicated on breaking and entering into some girl's home, not to mention the possible use of rohypnol. The only thing that would complete the image for me is if the video featured that absolutely adorable young man on the album cover standing over the woman's bed with a bloody knife in his hand and a tear running down his cheek.

This guy wouldn't hurt anyone... would he???

Still, in spite of the weirdness of it all, the song has been in my head all week. Then again, maybe it's because of the weirdness. I kind of enjoy putting together a backstory around it. Poor guy from Aqualung got shot down a few times and figured maybe he could win the girl over with a song. "Oh, shit," the girl said the first time she heard it. "It's that guy from the bloody pub." And then she double-bolted her door and called to have her phone number changed.

I'm mean, we've all been down the unrequited love road a few times, haven't we? There are healthy ways to deal with it, and unhealthy ways. Isn't it comforting to know that the most you ever did was write a blubberingly confessional email that you never actually sent, or make a life-sized cardboard cutout of your crush and share a romantic dinner with it, then snuggle up on the couch afterward to watch "Say Anything" together? Then again, maybe there are no healthy ways to deal. And if you're going to be weird about it, why not go all out?

Sorry, girl from the pub. It may not have worked on you, but cute Aqualung Guy has definitely put a spell on me. Now, why won't he return my emails?


Monday, July 25, 2005

For about five years now, and in two different apartments, I've had the above poster from "The Graduate" hanging up in my bathroom. I probably use my bathroom at home an average of five times a day, so if you do the math, that means I've seen that poster about 9,125 times, or roughly about half as many times as I've seen the movie itself.

But it wasn't until this weekend, when I hung the poster in the new condo and saw it for the first time on the wall of my new bathroom that I spotted something I'd never seen before. Notice the shadow cast by the candle on the wall...

No, I'm not just the victim of my own dirty mind. Look closer and you'll see the shadow doesn't match the shape of the candles themselves. Very subtle, United Artists marketing department circa 1967. Very subtle...

And before you suggest I got stuck with a copy doctored by some merry prankster, here's a poster shop where you can buy a copy just like mine for yourself.

A discovery like that can make a guy feel like a real private dick.


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