Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Saturday, December 3, 2011
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Sunday, November 27, 2011
Saturday, November 26, 2011
Friday, November 25, 2011
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Monday, October 24, 2011
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
It was in the Fall of 2004, and it was very early in the morning. I had spent the past year being driven to high school by my sister, but she had just started at Villanova, and since I was cursed with a late July birthday, I didn't have my license yet. So for the first half of junior year, my rides to school consisted solely of my dad and me. Most of the time these occurred in almost complete silence, not because we hated each other but because we typically had to leave the house around 6:45 AM. That's an early time for anyone to be awake, let alone a 16-year-old who had stayed up past midnight the night before studying for an AP History test (sort of).
But one morning, things went a little differently. Thanks to willpower, effective time management, and an episode of Family Guy airing that I had already seen, I managed to go to bed at a reasonable hour the night before, so I was able to wake up and get ready pretty quickly. By the time it was 6:40, I was already completely ready to go. Rather than turning my world upside down by showing up to school any earlier than I absolutely had to, I plunked down on our family room's couch and turned the TV to the sorely missed Vh1 MegaHits (I mean that "sorely missed" part, by the way. My family only had access to it for about a year, but in that time it helped me find out about Secret Machines, The Killers, and a pre-hey-let's-just-start-canceling-all-of-our-tours Kings of Leon. Everyone who wants Vh1 MegaHits to come back and Vh1 to start airing I Love The 80s all the time again, please raise your hand. Thank you.). At the time, U2 was about to release How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb, an album I'm not particularly crazy about now but was very excited for at the time, especially because of the catchy single "Vertigo." And that's the video that started playing right when I tuned in.
My dad walked into the room shortly after. I expected him to tell me to turn off the TV and get in the car, as he was pretty consistent in terms of getting me to high school earlier than I wanted to be there. Instead, he sat down to watch the video with me. Neither of us said anything while it was on, but when it was over, he looked at me with a satisfied grin and asked, "Ready to go?"
I responded with a grin of my own and a "Yeah" that was actually earnest. Because today I really was ready. Today I had gotten to start things off by listening to a song that I liked and that it turned out my dad liked, too. And this wasn't an old classic that had already been confirmed as "great" by thousands of faceless rock critics. No, this was hip, new music from a band that had reached its peak when I was a little too young and he was a little too old, but that didn't matter because we could still enjoy listening to them together now. For three minutes, we both got to enjoy listening to a rock song that made each of us feel a little cooler than we actually were. I think we both knew this, but I don't think we cared.
So yeah, I'm ready for school. It'll probably be a good day.
Monday, October 17, 2011
"I am now 33 years old, and it feels like much time has passed and is passing faster and faster every day. Day after day I have to make all sorts of choices about what is good and important and fun, and then I have to live with the forfeiture of all the other options those choices foreclose. And I'm starting to see how as time gains momentum my choices will narrow and their foreclosures multiply exponentially until I arrive at some point on some branch of all life's sumptuous branching complexity at which I am finally locked in and stuck on one path and time speeds me through stages of stasis and atrophy and decay until I go down for the third time, all struggle for naught, drowned by time. It is dreadful. But since it's my own choices that'll lock me in, it seems unavoidable--if I want to be any kind of grownup, I have to make choices and regret foreclosures and try to live with them."
-David Foster Wallace, "A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again"
Beautifully written and expressed, but, admittedly, kind of a downer. So here's this:
Thursday, October 13, 2011
This isn't exclusive to Wilco. It would be tough for me to do with, say, TV On The Radio as well. Also with Ace of Base, but that's because I only have one song by them. I do think it's particularly funny that my Wilco fandom has proven so all-encompassing, though, because they're also the only band I've ever actively boycotted.
It was based on a Jeff Tweedy quote in a Rolling Stone article that I can no longer find but that I think came out sometime in high school. He was talking about older bands that he still either liked or didn't like, and he said that The Who's records hadn't held up very well. At the time, liking The Who was a bigger part of my identity than it had any right to be, so the fact that Jeff Tweedy had the nerve to say this was a personal affront to me. I vowed to never listen to Wilco right after reading that line. It actually lasted for about two years, following which I mentioned it to a friend during one of our countless conversations about music. He promptly told me I was an idiot and sent me Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. Honestly, I was still reluctant to give it a try--how could a band who didn't like The Who be worth listening to?--but this particular friend knew a lot about music, so I figured I should give it a shot. And now I like literally every song of theirs I have. So, y'know, keep an open mind about things.
Having said that, if you told me I had to pick a favorite, I would tell you to start reading things more carefully because I said earlier that doing so was basically impossible. So here are two:
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
"Fill It Up"
7 PM on a Friday night
We gotta start the pregame cuz the timing is right
I'm ripping shots with my girls
Drinking beers with my boys
Had too much, time to hurl
On my little bro's toys
But it's fine, boot and rally as we head out the door
To forget about our problems on a sweaty dance floor
Cuz tonight is the night
That we're goin' all out
Gotta grind, gotta drink
Gotta shout, shout, shout!
Only two days off, so ya gotta go hard
Hopefully when we're out at a bar that doesn't card
So it's go, go, go 'til the sun comes up
'Til then fill, fill, fill, just keep fillin' up my cup
Now we're rockin' at the club and we're havin' a blast
Cuz my crew lives every night like it might be their last
Grabbed some bottles of Patron
Washed 'em down with some Skyy
Now I think it's time to roam and get a little bit high
And if the pot leads to coke there's still no need to cower
We'll just tell the 5-0 we found some top-notch flour
Bars and clubs are closing up, but we're still not done
Cuz I just found a girl and she looks like a lotta fun
Tonight she's comin' home with me to keep the party goin' strong
Looks like we're staying in the bedroom all day long
Monday, October 10, 2011
Approximate Number of Times At Least Some of the Water Falls on my Shirt: 18
I feel like this is one of those things I should be too embarrassed to blog about. So is the fact that I just found out "blog" is short for "web log" a few weeks ago.
Sunday, October 9, 2011
Thursday, October 6, 2011
-Jonathan Lethem, The Fortress Of Solitude
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
So maybe the fact that nostalgia can be painful isn't actually anything worth complaining about. That "I Can't Explain" memory hurts like hell sometimes, but that's only because it's a happy one, so I really don’t want to lose it. And as long as “I Can’t Explain” doesn’t change, I don’t think I ever will.
Monday, October 3, 2011
Sunday, October 2, 2011
a) talking about The Simpsons
b) saying that I don't know very much about a subject/am not going to talk about a subject because it's boring and trying to turn that into the joke
c) awkwardly and blatantly hating on George W. Bush
d) making references to my friends/family/Newtown that no one outside of my friends/family/town would understand
e) pointing out that a lot of words throughout American history kind of sound like words that have to do with sex
Still, I remember having a lot of fun while writing it, and there were a few jokes that made me laugh when I read it the second time around. They are reproduced here for your enjoyment in their original Bookman Old Style font:
Saturday, October 1, 2011
Friday, September 30, 2011
And yet, a major villain--and arguably the scariest of the series--was just a giant spider. I think it says something about their inherent creepiness that, when a writer who could clearly use his imagination to invent just about anything needed to come up with a frightening hobbit-eating character, he ultimately went with a bigger version of a creature that actually exists. And you know what? It worked. Just look at this picture. It's terrifying.
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
-Wearing those pants all day anyway because, hey, you already left the house
One of these things did not happen to me today. Try to guess which one!
Monday, September 26, 2011
--One host who attained a minor degree of celebrity years ago for reasons people can no longer remember (anything that was popular during the 1980s is a great place to start looking)
--One television network that no longer has enough money to produce scripted shows
--Six to twelve contestants all seeking the same job/mate/monetary reward/vaccination. These should consist of:
--One genial everyman
--One tough male, preferably from New Jersey or Long Island
--One attractive yet mentally unstable female
--One individual who is medically insane
--One minority (purists recommend a black man/woman, but these
days an Asian or Hispanic should work just as well)
--One easily hateable individual (if you are running
low on contestants in certain regions, the minority can fill this role)
--One to six individuals with no distinctive characteristics
--One arena where all contestants can engage in various physical and mental competitions
--One habitat where all contestants can live for the duration of the show. Specific designs may vary, but it must include one isolated area where contestants can reveal and overreact about inane secrets to a camera
1. Place all contestants in the same area of the habitat. Have host stride into the area in a manner that suggests everyone should already know who he is and explain the rules of the show. Cut to pensive yet determined reaction shots of contestants every time host completes more than 50% of a sentence.
2. Allow contestants to disperse. Linger on shots of genial everyman and attractive yet mentally unstable female interacting for 2-3 minutes to create an artificial aura of sexual tension. Let simmer for 4-5 weeks.
3. After approximately 12 hours, have host remove all contestants from the habitat and bring them to the arena to engage in their first competition. Have host explain that whichever individual does the poorest job performing in this competition will be removed from the show by his or her fellow contestants, the viewers, or a celebrity judging panel. Do whatever is necessary to ensure this happens to one of the individuals with no distinctive characteristics.
4. Repeat step three until all individuals with no distinctive characteristics have been removed from the show.
5. During the first competition after the departure of all individuals with no distinctive characteristics, have easily hateable individual perform an action that slightly inconveniences tough Italian male. Once the two return to the habitat, have tough male explain why he is angry about this to easily hateable individual via a physical altercation. This should culminate in a teary revelation from tough male and a biting, caustic remark from easily hateable individual in the isolated area.
6. Have genial everyman and mentally unstable woman engage in some form of sexual relations. Film using grainy black and white footage to hide the fact that the two do not actually care about each other and will forget each other’s names almost immediately after the finale.
7. Begin the process of using the competitions to remove individuals with distinctive characteristics from the show. It is recommended that you do so in the following order: tough male, medically insane individual, minority, attractive yet mentally unstable woman. However, if you desire a spicier end product, easily hateable individual may be switched out for mentally unstable woman.
8. Pit easily hateable individual against genial everyman in the final challenge. Invite back all former contestants to watch and criticize the performances of the two contestants who have proven themselves to be better at these competitions than they were.
9. Have former contestants, viewers or a celebrity judging panel vote on the winner of the final competition. Do whatever is necessary to ensure genial everyman is proclaimed the victor.
10. Engage in brief yet lavish ceremony to celebrate the newfound fame/money/sexual fulfillment/disease-free life genial everyman will now enjoy.
11. Embroil genial everyman in a minor scandal soon after the finale to briefly keep him in the public eye. Following this, allow him to naturally fade into obscurity until he resurfaces years later to host a reality show of his own.
The above recipe should comfortably serve one populace of a country nurturing a 60-year-old love affair with television and desperate for distractions from such things as economic crises and children. If said populace remains unsatisfied after consumption, add C-list celebrities as needed.
Sunday, September 25, 2011
It’s hard to trust a six-year-old with something important. They can generally only be counted on to ask a question hauntingly poignant in its innocence or make sure Tom Cruise and Renee Zellwegger wind up together, and I wasn’t even very good at those things when I was six. My questions didn’t get much more poignant than “Why do I have to go outside when Full House is on?” and I was still years away from knowing who Tom Cruise was, his appearances on Full House being few and far between.
Still, my parents were good parents, and they understood the importance of teaching me responsibility at a relatively early age. And so it was that, in the midst of enjoying my carefree life staging historically inaccurate battles between plastic dinosaurs in the family room, I was called into the kitchen for my sobering entry into the working world.
“Eddie,” my dad said methodically, “do you see this?” He was holding up a butter dish.
“Yes,” I said.
“Good. From now on, it’s going to be your responsibility to put it on the table every night when we’re getting ready for dinner, ok? Can you handle that?”
I had to think for a second. This was the first job my parents were asking me to do with any sort of regularity, and there were all sorts of implications to consider. The main one was, “What is the fastest way I can end this conversation and get back to playing with dinosaurs?” So I said, “Yes.”
“Good,” my dad responded, breaking out into a benevolent smile. “So tonight, when your mom and I call you into the kitchen for dinner, what are you going to do before you sit down?”
“Put the butter dish on the table,” I said anxiously, as countless thoughts about all the fun things my dinosaurs were probably doing without me ran through my head.
“Exactly!” my dad exclaimed, his benevolence turning into pride. “Do you have any questions?”
“No.” They’re probably in a rocket ship right now. I’m going to go back in the family room, and my dinosaurs won’t be there because they all got on a rocket ship as soon as I left the room. I’ll bet it’s payback for letting my sister play with the stegosaurus last week.
“Ok, then. I guess we’ll see you at dinner.”
My dad turned around, and I dashed back into the family room, relieved to find that my dinosaurs were still insentient and immobile.
Life continued on as normal until 6:00 that evening. My dad called out “Dinner!” and I walked into the kitchen, ready to sit down like I always did. Then I saw my dad’s knowing smile and the butter dish sitting all by itself on the counter. I abruptly changed course, grabbed the dish, and set it on the table before I sat down.
“Thank you, Eddie,” my mom said, beaming with delight. “That was excellent!”
My dad remained silent apart from a nod of approval, but it was enough to make it clear that he was pleased, too. We then said grace and began eating. Or, more accurately, my mom, dad, and sister began eating, and I began moving the food around on my plate and eyeing it warily.
To say I was a picky eater at this age is an understatement akin to saying that Hitler was not particularly fond of the Jews. I didn’t become a picky eater until around age nine. At age six, it was more accurate to say I legitimately disliked food. The concept of eating was something I did not look forward to on good days and dreaded on bad days. This typically made dinner a very unpleasant occasion. The most notorious of these had occurred a few months earlier when I took a bite of chicken and decided afterwards that I could stomach neither swallowing it nor spitting it out. It remained in saliva soaked purgatory for a good 20 minutes, by which point the rest of my family had already finished eating and was devoting all of their energy to exasperatedly coaxing me to swallow. Their efforts eventually proved successful, but I emerged from the situation so scarred that I had to avoid chicken for the next three days, at which point my mom served it for dinner again and I ate it, my memory at age six not being particularly long lasting.
There were, however, a few golden exceptions to my aversion to food, and butter was among them. Peanut butter was still a little too intimidating for me at such a young age, and peanut butter and jelly was outright terrifying, but a nice simple slice of white bread with some nice simple butter spread over it always made for a very tasty part of a meal. And as I bit into the first of two slices of buttered bread I was allowed at every meal while attempting to ignore the rest of the food into nonexistence, it suddenly dawned on me: the bread itself is not what tastes so good. The reason this bread is so tasty is because it has butter on it.
And I’m in control of the butter now!
It may have been only for the few seconds that it took me to walk from the kitchen counter to the kitchen table, but for those few seconds I had near total authority over one of the few items of food I unabashedly enjoyed. So soon I got to thinking: what does butter taste like? Because if it makes bread taste so delicious, it must taste pretty good by itself, too.
This curiosity gradually turned into an obsession over my first few weeks of dutiful butter carrying. Plain butter was no longer something that “must taste pretty good by itself;” it was something that undoubtedly tasted better than anything else in the world. By not tasting the butter even though I was in charge of it, I was both disrespecting my position and depriving myself of the only possible source of enjoyment I could ever take from food. It was my right, my obligation, my goddamn patriotic duty to find out what it tasted like by itself.
But first I had to ask my mom.
“No,” she said.
“No,” she repeated. “That’s disgusting.”
“Go watch TV or something,” she said, one of the few times she ever uttered that phrase and the only time I was disappointed to hear it. My mother had just doomed me to live my life wondering what butter tasted like instead of finding out.
Or had she?
Sure, my mom had told me I couldn’t taste the butter, but she hadn’t revoked my responsibility. I still held the dish all by myself for about three seconds each night, which in theory gave me free reign to do with it whatever I felt was necessary, regardless of parental consent. And figuring out what it tasted like was something that I had recently decided was very, very necessary.
It took a few more weeks before I actually worked up the nerve to try it. Disobeying my parents was something that did not come naturally to me, to the point where sneaking into the kitchen to taste the butter when they weren’t there never even occurred to me. But eventually, curiosity overcame me, and I woke up one morning determined that tonight would be the night I solved the mystery.
My mom, dad and sister went about their business for the day as usual. Those poor fools in their perfect little bubbles had no idea what was about to happen just a few hours from now. I was fairly certain they never would either, as my sizable streak of incident-free butter carrying meant that my supervision had become very lax.
The evening started out normally enough. My dad called out “Dinner!” at 6:00 like he always did. I walked in towards the counter like I always did. I grabbed the butter dish like I always did, only this time I walked to the table at a slightly slower pace than usual, determined to maximize the amount of potential taste-testing time I would have. And then I slowly, slowly opened my mouth, stuck out the tip of my tongue, and touched it to the butter.
It tasted ok. At least, I think it did. My gustatory memories are slightly overshadowed by the shocked and disappointed cry of “Eddie!” coming out of my mom’s mouth immediately after I made contact. In retrospect, I don’t know why I thought I would be able to get away with licking butter when I was in the same room as two people who had made it clear they did not want me to lick butter. Chalk it up to youthful exuberance. Or, more aptly, stupidity.
My parents were crestfallen. Their first attempt to give their son responsibility had failed. Instead of ennobling him, it had corrupted him. They weren’t raising an Abraham Lincoln; they were raising a Richard Nixon. The only course of action was to dishonorably discharge me from this duty and assign me one that was less edible.
I was ashamed as well. At least, back then I was. But now that we’re in an age where fried butter is the latest craze at state fairs, I’m starting to think I was just ahead of my time.