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Monthly Archives: August 2009

Sigh. Well, if you know me (highly unlikely), you probably know there’s a tiny little place in my heart reserved for chick flicks.

My Netflix account granted me the power to watch When Harry Met Sally on DVD and to promptly follow it with an internet rendition of Made of Honor. I feel like I’m taking crazy pills, but Made of Honor feels like it’s When Harry Met Sally + ADHD + Scotland.

I think Made of Honor just might be When Harry Met Sally written for our generation. Two smart people meet in college. (Pardon the massive digression, but one of the smartest kids I’ve met got accepted to U. of Chicago and didn’t go, while Cornell is an Ivy League school so you kind of have to assume that everyone who goes there is brilliant. Yet, I don’t remember anyone from my high school’s graduating class going there. I remember kids going to Yale, Annapolis, Harvard, Grinnell and Rice. And somehow, the smartest kids I knew {personally} went to Denison, Case Western and–as mentioned–not U. of Chicago.) They tolerate (hate?) each other and then all the important stuff happens once we get to the ten-year reunion of their meeting. They kiss. They realize they love one another. They don’t talk about it. They face the facts: best friendship between a man and a woman just might mean they should spend the rest of their lives together.

The only exceptions might be that: 1) When Harry Met Sally is kind of awesome, 2) Billy Crystal’s “I love you because…” speech is far better than…well…I guess I’ll get back to you because it might be better than any other “I love you” speech I’ve heard.

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I think I have a theory that just might explain why everything is undead right now.

Don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about. True Blood is a critical success. Twilight has teenage girls fawning over men way too old for them. Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant has previews out before quality movies like District 9 (where everyone except some of the peripheral characters and the three main characters die–no spoiler alert necessary unless you don’t understand basic story structure). You know it’s a dying trend when The CW hops on the train too; they’ll be releasing The Vampire Diaries next month.

And if you think it stops with vampires, you are horrendously mistaken. The main antagonist in the Harry Potter movies will apparently take eight movies (and already took seven books) to die. The preview for Bruce Willis’ upcoming Surrogates seems to imply that technology will one day enable us to live our lives from our couch and not die. Well, that seems to be the case until they introduce the plot and someone starts killing surrogates and, oddly, the surrogates’ controllers start dying too. The preview for Sorority Row seems to imply that the girl who gets killed comes back to kill her friends for letting her get killed. But then, it’s a horror movie–which I hate–and all my basic horror movie structure training leads me believe that the killer is the guy who was tricked into killing her or the girl’s mother. But I digress. Pandorum looks like it’s about zombies in space. Terminator: Salvation was about a dude who thought he was a dude but was really a robot. Everyone went to see Funny People because they wanted to see Adam Sandler die–then he didn’t.

There are some more prerequisites to get out of the way before we get to the theory itself. People have always loved escapism. I’ve always loved escapism. Without it, Hollywood probably wouldn’t exist. Theaters couldn’t get away with charging $13 a ticket and people wouldn’t just download them if they didn’t provide hours of entertainment. However, escapism has skyrocketed recently. Everyone remembers hearing that almost a year ago video game purchases and movie ticket sales skyrocketed. It’s a recession and it makes perfect sense that everyone would start paying to get away from the usual news of assorted cardinal sins PLUS heightened job insecurity. Yet here’s the clincher–we want not only the escapism but to imagine escaping ourselves.

In the preview for Cirque du [Piece of Shit], the protagonist’s adventure begins when he starts yelling about how bored he is. He then goes to a circus where he decides that his life will be fun if he becomes undead (yet, for some reason, the villains want to kill him. He’s fucking undead). So life for this kid can only be fun if he’s immortal. And I think that’s what we all want, too.

It’s fun to imagine we’re invulnerable. That’s why I’ve always loved First-Person Shooter video games and yet always been terrified of actual guns. Guns kill people but when my avatar gets killed in Fall Out 3 I just reload. Infinitely enjoyable without the fear of death. Also, Fall Out 3 has become uncomfortably like the map in my head. The only parts of the map that I’m comfortable going to are areas where I’ve already been. The new places require extensive research and sometimes scouting missions–because I am afraid of dying. That may be an exaggeration; what I mean is, the ultimate fear when I travel is death, but all the intermediate fears–is this the right stop (how do I get home), is this the right day (is it light out, i.e, safe to travel), will I catch the transfer (are there feral ghouls in this subway), am I going to get to eat some chocolate (radroach meat) to calm my nerves (bring my AP back up), etc–are just tiny little fragments that remind me that I’m alive.

The goal, apparently, with these movies is to remind you that you’re alive without any of the fear of death. You can witness their undead-ness and enjoy your life. I mean, you probably don’t want to live vicariously through He-who-must-not-be-named but, when it is the villain who can’t die, it makes it exciting as well because you know that he will, ultimately die. Archetypes have trained you to believe that good will triumph and that the undead will go back to what they are supposed to be: FUCKING DEAD.

However, if you are taking joy living vicariously through the undead protagonist then, although I share your enthusiasm, we should probably stop this. We both know we’re not immortal and that we will never be undead. Perhaps the only way to be undead is to write something that people read even after you’re dead. In the mean time, once we get out of the theater, let’s continue the business of life–the recession will go away and, like my grandma says, “things’ll fall into place.” Also, I kind of just want vampire movies to go away–they’re not all that cool.

(Hey grand kids! I’m FUCKING DEAD. Hahaha.)

I guess I haven’t been around one in such a long time that I hadn’t thought about it. I called my mom yesterday and told her that I’d discovered I love every minute I spend in the Hardware Store; I don’t even have to buy anything, I just like being there. She sort of nonchalantly stopped my overt enthusiasm with a curt, “But you’ve always loved the hardware store.”

It’s just so goddamned practical. You want a hammer? We have those. You need to mount a picture? We have wire and nails. You need screws? Guess what? That’s our specialty. A toolbox? Of course. When you check out, we’ll give you a paper bag so the screws have a harder time escaping from your plastic bag. See you tomorrow.

Most of the time, they have things that I might not ever need but I think I just like knowing someone somewhere keeps these things in stock. For example, my hardware store sells 5-foot clamps. I have literally no idea what I’d need a 5-foot clamp for, but it’s reassuring to know that if I ever need to glue something, say, two feet thick to something two and a half feet thick, I can.

I also love that they sell sledgehammers. My new lease has a clause that specifically says I cannot renovate and thus, I get the impression that I wouldn’t be able to use my new sledgehammer for over a year. I tell everyone at work that my favorite tool in the entire stockroom is the rubber mallet because it’s the second most used and the most helpful and yet I constantly wish there was a reason to have a sledgehammer at work. It would promptly replace the rubber mallet as my favorite tool and replace the pliers as the most used. Shit, if I only needed it one day at work I would buy my own sledgehammer to bring into work that day. Then I guess I could use it to decorate my tiny apartment: “…and this wall where I keep my larger-than-life Miranda Kerr poster I got from work. As you can see, that corner right under her is where I store my my sledgehammer. It’s not practical or anything–I used it once and now I just pick it up every once in a while to remind myself of the awesome power of my inner Shiva. No, you can’t touch it.”

At any rate, I thoroughly enjoy being able to browse a store that caters to every need I might someday have.

I done gone and moved all up out of Brooklyn. Here’s a miniature retrospective in list form:

Five things I’ll miss:
1. Street Cred. I can’t count how many times I used to say “I live in Brooklyn” and then watch eyebrows raise. If people knew Brooklyn, the “Crown Heights” specification would engender a “Holy shit, really?” Not only will I miss that but I’ll also miss affordable rent.
2. Bodegas. I haven’t seen any around my new apartment in Manhattan and I get the impression I won’t see any for a while, either. I particularly miss how some of them were open 24 hours. There’s something nice about feeling like you’ve contributed to a family’s livelihood.
3. Local Eateries. Kingston Pizza–an Italian Pizza restaurant run by a bunch of Mexicans. Surprisingly delicious culture mismatch but then again, one of my favorite Italian Restaurants in Manhattan is run by a bunch of Japanese dudes. Mendy’s–the best place to get some kosher food as well as to get cut in line for being a gentile. Seriously–I can’t count how many times I’d go in, get treated as “less than” and then enjoy some unbelievably good falafel. Oddly enough, all the people who cooked were Mexican, too. That Chinese Food Place–whatever it was called. They made some cheap and delicious chinese-style food goods that was, for some reason, not made by Mexicans.
4. How Brooklyn is close to Manhattan. I love the subway. Really, I’m that guy who takes the subway over a cab. I’ll also take the subway over the bus, but that’s just normal, right?
5. Brooklyn Public Library. This behemoth of a public library was like three stops away on the subway and was awesome. The local branch was immeasurably terrible but the central branch was plain old awesome.

Five things I won’t miss about Brooklyn:
1. Shitty Grocery Stores. The store was like three blocks away, the chicken constantly smelled funny and there were like four aisles. Now there are two grocery stores that aren’t even a block away. Both even sell beer. Eff Fine Fare, I’m going to Gristedes or Western Beef now.
2. How Brooklyn isn’t really that close to Manhattan. I mean, compared to living in Texas, Brooklyn is close to Manhattan. Try to get your friends from Manhattan to come visit you. Free food and liqour can only entice them once or maybe twice if they really like you. Apparently, not everyone else likes the subway as much as I do.
3. My inflatable bed. I used it when visitors came over but the downstairs neighbors moved in a month ago and asked to borrow it three weeks ago. I made just about no effort to get to know them and moved out without bothering to ask for it back. I have a chair-bed for visitors now. Kind of more adult-like, right?
4. How just about everything is far away. You name it, it’s far away. Trader Joe’s. The (good branch of the) library. Museums (The ones people want to see. The Brooklyn Museum, apparently, is not one of those). Concerts. My friends. Bars. Work. Only exceptions: the park, the Brooklyn Children’s Museum and the local elementary school. All were across the street, but guess how much I went to any of them.
5. How Street Cred is directly linked with survival. I made it out and now my street cred is nil. I mean, I’m still the white guy at work and people I work with still say things like, “I keep forgetting you’re white,” but now I no longer worry about stupid things like break-ins or stepping on shoes. In the old apartment, something like 4/8 apartments were hit. I don’t know, I think someone got robbed, too, but I know for sure one apartment lost all their laptops. My list of things I can’t survive without (beyond food, I guess) follows thusly: 1. a computer w/internet access 2. some means of playing and listening to music 3. access to books. How am I supposed to survive if all the most important things I own are either stolen or if I have borderline anxiety that it will be stolen? I miss my street cred but I’m not sure I miss the street.