Saturday, November 22, 2008

Happy Belated Birthday

I just wanted to take a moment to wish me a belated Happy Birthday. It's alright though... I forgive me for being a week behind.

I don't tend to make a big deal out of my birthday. Last year, Cherry insisted on taking me out to dinner. This year she did a whole birthday day. It was nice, and it's nice that I have friends who care that it's my birthday, but the actual events of the day aren't really what I choose to focus on.

It's more that birthdays aren't a big deal to me. I'm not quite sure when this happened. I remember counting down the days to my birthday and then being all excited about the presents and such. But now I count down the days to the next Rock Band related release and am all excited about the new drumkit that I'm going to get sometime. Whenever they start shipping the damn things. But that's another topic.

I took off of work this year because... Well... I don't know really. I guess just in case all of a sudden I started to care that it was my birthday and I wanted to do something? But then when it was actually the day it was just like every other day. Nothing felt different.

Birthdays used to feel magical. It used to feel like it was really my day and everything for the day was about me. It doesn't really feel that way anymore. It's just a day. Oh sure... The day's events were up to me and we could have done anything I wanted, but really that's sort of like any other day. I could probably get a few friends together to play racquetball or go out to eat or play Rock Band with me. These things are fun and nice and all that, but they just don't feel necessarily special.

I don't know... I had planned to write this thing up all week, but have just been tired because of the new work schedule so this is really the first opportunity I've had to sit down and write it. And now I'm not really sure of exactly what I meant to say.

The main point is just that birthdays used to seem special and magical and that they don't anymore. I kind of miss it. I appreciate that Cherry and Emily cared enough to do what they could to make my birthday special for me, but it didn't really work. And it's entirely not their faults.

I think if I had a girlfriend who decided to give me an extra special day it would be more meaningful to me. I don't know how I feel about thinking that. I don't know that I like thinking that a girlfriend planning a special day around me is more meaningful than good friends doing it. I think all throughout the day I felt like it was just another day and that there was really no need for my friends to regard it as anything else, and so a lot of the reason that I didn't feel like the day was successfully special was because I resisted it becoming so.

Ah well, this is an uncharacteristically short entry, but I just don't have as much to say on the subject as I thought I did... Or maybe as I did a week ago when I decided to write this whenever I got a chance.

Basically, I miss caring about special days... Birthdays and holidays. Well, I guess this is growing up.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Because Emily Bitched...

Women. Am I right?

It occurs to me that, inasmuch as anyone reads this at all, my readership is probably mostly women. So let's, you and me, just pretend that I wasn't just being purposefully offensive there. Good. There's a good girl.

While you're at it, why not pretend that I wasn't just being condescending in that last paragraph. There. Now if we just ignore all of my obvious and varied faults, I'm not such a bad guy after all, eh?

Seriously though... This, like the candidates not telling us the whole truth most of the time, is Emily's fault.

I've somewhat been meaning to write up a little bloggy thing. But I really have nothing of consequence to talk about. And then Emily made some sort of snide comment or other when I was ranting to her about how Kurt Cobain was a douchebag that I should be blogging it instead.

So, fine. Now I'm blogging. And I have nothing of consequence to say. So this is going to be probably primarily about Rock Band. And you have Emily to thank for it.

So, Rock Band's good. I approve. There are lots of things about it that frustrate me, sure. But those things can sort of be ignored... Or vast amounts of money can be spent to fix them. I do a combination of both.

The thing that annoys me the most is that there are drumkits out there that people are using RIGHT NOW with the proper amount of cymbals and drums and stuff. And I don't have one. Well, that will hopefully change. I'm not positive how it's gonna work, but eventually I will have a drum kit that works, more or less, the way I want it to. I might eventually end up going all out and putting together an electronic kit. I believe Rock Band is set p to accept midi, so I would have a real kit that also plays my video game. Neat.

The other thing that bothers me a little bit is that my drums keep turning themselves off currently. I put in an RMA order for a new set, but they're backordered at the moment. No matter... It works more or less. And if Aelsis ever releases the Ion for PS3 like they're supposed to I'll be getting that anyway.

The main thing, though, is that I'm not very good. Oh sure, I play on expert and can make my way through most of the songs. But I can't drum my way through the Dream Theater song on the new game. As well as one or two other songs. Painkiller's a bitch, but I can get through it from time to time. This annoyance can be avoided by avoiding the songs that are too hard for me, and sticking to the ones that are just hard enough to be fun and make me feel like I'm better than I am. But damn if John Myung, Mike Portnoy, and John Petrucci aren't all better at their instruments than I am at even their fake counterparts.

Oh well... I'm sure I would be able to play the Wii Music version of Panick Attack just fine. Haha! Man, that was a geeky joke.

Also, I ordered a little dongle thing that would allow me to se a second pedal as a double bass pedal. It doesn't work though. It's more or less cheating, since the note chart is mapped out with only the primary foot because Harmonix knows you're only supposed to have one pedal. But I'm not good enough for one pedal, and painkiller hurts. So hopefully customer service will send me a new one or something.

So, that's more or less that. In other news, I'm working at Kohl's. It's going alright, I suppose. It's not fun or anything, but it's a job. And I seem to be advancing. I 'm working in the shoe department currently, but pretty much any of the supervisors I've worked with have said nice things about me, and it's gotten back to the Asst. Manage, so she wants to move me to customer service. But I think she wanted to do that anyway, because I'm pretty sure she would have had nice things to say about me even if the various supervisors hadn't said anything to her. So, I think that's sort of a promotion. I don't know if it comes with a pay raise or anything, but it's more responsibility and that's always good.

But the praise seems to also have gotten to my General Manager, and I had an interview with him the other day about an administrative assistant position that was opening up that I applied for. He liked me in the interview, even though he hadn't really noticed me much up until then... Or probably more accurately hadn't thought about me because he didn't know I cared at all about moving up in the company. So he said that I shouldn't take that new position, even though it would be a pay raise on what I am currently making, because it's more or less a dead end job. Instead, he enrolled me in a sort of fast track managerial program inside the company. There should be some new stores opening up in the area in the next few years, and he says he wants to try to get me and a few other people in the store that he likes into managerial positions in those stores. So, that's somewhat promising. Except it means that I'll be working at Kohl's. But, I suppose one job's basically as good as another. I don't HATE being there. So, we'll see how this thing pans out. He's got me scheduled for a conference call on Thursday with someone who is in Central Standard time to go over the program details.

So, that's that for the time being. This was a pretty worthless blog update. Maybe I should have expounded on why Kurt Cobain was such a douchebag. But I didn't.

Oh. And I need to find a girlfriend. I'm getting really tired of this being single for years at a time thing. Just thought I'd throw that out there..


Thursday, October 9, 2008

Re: Something Not About Sex

I've been more or less avoiding writing about the election here because... Well, a few reasons, I suppose. For one thing, it's just so big. Where do you really start to write a stupid little blog that will just sum it all up. There are so many different facets worthy of discussion, and I am hardly well educated on any one of them.

For another thing, it's just too mainstream for me. Everyone's writing about it. I'm like that pnk kid in the back of the class with a mohawk who is too cool to talk about all of the things everyone else is talking about. But not because they don't interest me. Just because everyone else is talking about them and so they are lame.

But then Mike wrote a thing about it. And I disagreed with some major points that he had made, and so I decided that this was a wonderful opportunity for a sort of virtual debate. And I just love to argue.

Mike's post is here if you want to read it before reading mine. There's a Sarah Silverman video that I may be discussing, but sure as hell won't be embedding. So you may want to check it out.
Originally, I was just going to post a comment to his blog. But then I realized I had lots to say, and it just wouldn't fit inside a comment. It deserved its own post. Here's as far as my comment got, and then I will continue from there:

Citing the Sarah Silverman video and saying "Neat how she just sort of says he has a good foreign policy and will help Israel and just sort of doesn't explain how. Cool" is very much like the politicians you are lambasting for doing the same thing. That is taking what she said entirely out of context. It's not like this was a hard hitting expose on the reasons that you should vote for Barack Obama. This was Sarah Silverman being her usual not-very-funny self. The message of the entire thing was "Sarah Silverman is going to vote for Barack Obama, and so should you." It was not "Sarah Silverman is going to vote for Barack Obama and here are the very important and well thought out reasons why."

Now, the point you were trying to make is that the candidates themselves say this sort of...

And now, the exciting conclusion!:

thing all the time as well. The fact that we don't know where Barack Obama really stands on these sorts of issues is an important thing to discuss, because it is more or less true. The candidates don't really say very much to us, and that's because of a lot of things.

For one thing, I like the way Lior phrased this. Listening to either of them speak or debate each other is like listening to an argument in a relationship. They know what the other person is trying to say, and they realize that the point probably has some merit. But they purposefully and willfully take it out of context, or rephrase it in such a way as to make it seem silly. One could say (and I would agree) that this is what debating is. I don’t think there's really anything wrong or sinister about the candidates doing this. You take your opponent's argument and whittle it down to the lamest sounding 2 second explanation you can, and then you tease it. That is, when you get down to it, a large part of what debating is. The problem here is that because of this offensive onslaught against each other's policies, we get little sound bites about an inane version of their policies instead of a greater understand of what the policy is supposed to have meant. Take, for example, the tax plans.

When watching the debates, or the McCain campaign speak, Obama's tax plan sounds awful. "Obama wants to raise your taxes. In a time where the economy is collapsing and you are having a hard enough time paying your bills as it is, do you really want higher taxes?"

Well, that makes sense. Obama wants to raise taxes to pay down the debt and eventually get the economy back on track, but in the short term, I won't be able to afford it. And what does the long term matter if by that time the higher taxes have put me out on the street?

Except that's not what Obama is proposing. If you look at the two different tax plans, yes, it is true that McCain will lower taxes on all of the tax brackets and Obama will raise them in the higher tax brackets. It is also true that taxes will, in total, be lowered more by the McCain plan than by the Obama plan. Bt that is only part of the whole truth.
The truth is, McCain's tax plain lowers taxes more on the wealthier population than on the middle class and poor population. See, a 1% cut on someone making $250,000 comes to $2,500, while a 1% cut for someone making $30,000 a year comes to $300. Still, though, it is less expensive for the government to cut the taxes of the higher tax bracket than the lower, because there are so fewer of them.

So, in order to ct everyone's taxes, the federal government would have huge bill to pay. McCain proposes cutting everyone's taxes, but the cuts become smaller and smaller as they get further down the line of income. Because it's cheaper to give the smaller group of wealthier people a tax cut.

Obama's plan raises taxes on the people making over $250,000. The money that is raised by taxing those people, the people who can afford it, more is used to give the people making less a higher tax cut. So, with Obama's plan, while it isn't false to say that he is raising taxes, would more accurately be said to be raising taxes on the super wealthy to give a larger tax cut to the average America, who needs it more. His plan will cost the government less, and give the average American more. But you need to hear all of that for the plan to make sense, and you just don't get that level of detail from the debates or speeches. Because it's sort of hard to follow and sort of hard to understand.

Now, the media should be breaking it down for us like that. But it isn't. Well, why not? For mainly the same reasons. It's dense, and most people won't follow it or even care to. The media covers the much sexier, but less important, stories of "what did Governor Palin say that was idiotic today?" I watched the coverage of the VP debate, and I don't really know what was said in it. All I know is that Palin didn't fuck up horribly. Because that is what was important from a media standpoint. We were expecting a spectacle, and all we got was this crummy debate about issues.

Not that I think watching the debate would have made me much more intelligent about the issues. Like I said, the debates are more about sound bites and making the other person's ideas sound stupid and trivial than they are about informing the American public on the issues that they will be voting for.

So, whose fault is this? Well, it's Emily's.

Emily is not a stupid person. I like to tease her and call her dumb, but she's not. She's perfectly intelligent, and fully capable of understanding the complexities of a political debate if she wanted to. And I have a feeling she does understand more than I give her credit for. I think she knows more about the real issues than I pretend to think she knows. And the reason is, she doesn't get excited about that stuff. What she gets excited about is the latest clip of the stupid think Palin said. Haha! She couldn't list the newspapers she reads! What a moron!

This sort of thing, while it has its place, is distracting from the things that are actually important. Like her policies on drilling, or abortion, or foreign policy, or the economy. Bt those things have received a back seat to her apparent stupidity and the fact that she's attractive and winks at you a lot.

And whose fault is that? Like I said, it's Emily's. But what I mean is that it's all of our faults. There's a time and a place for entertainment, and while a general election is, in some respects, both the time and the place for it... Can we please keep that time and place to the late night shows and comedy routines? Places that are actually meant for entertainment?

The reason the media doesn't report on the things that really matter is because the American public is largely disinterested in the things that really matter. And it works in a huge circle that ends in a lack of information. The media will not report on the intricacies of the tax plan, because the public won't watch it. The will report on the stupid sound bites and gaffs that the candidates make, because the public eats that shit up.

The candidates will not talk about the intricacies of their tax plan, because the American public isn't really watching anyway. The public finds out about what the candidates said from the news, and the news is only reporting on the quick and easy things to understand and laugh about.

If we were more demanding of our media, and by extension our political leaders, then this shit would stop. I'm sure that the analysts and anchors on news programs (the ones that are actually balanced... Not O'Reilly or stuff like that) want to discuss some real important issues. But they can't because they need their ratings to stay on the air. And so Washington just becomes another brand of Hollywood. And, ultimately, it is the fault of the public for not demanding more.

In the coverage I was watching of the VP debate, the pundits were asked if they think Obama is going to reveal the details of his economic plan. And their response was "No, probably not." See ... There is no reason for him to do that. So far, all he's really said is pretty much the same things as Sarah Silverman said in that video. I have an economic plan, and it's a goodun. I'm gonna go through the budget page by page and personally reform it!

And that's it. And we won't get more until he is in office, because there is no impetus for him to reveal more, and significant risk in doing so. At the moment, we are satisfied with what he has been saying. Sounds good. He's gonna make it better. He's ahead in the polls, and if he reveals more there's a chance people won't like it. So, don't talk about it.

If we demanded more of our media, and of our politicians, he wouldn't be able to get away with that. The Sarah Silverman video was fine... She's just a shitty comedian. The video wasn't presented as a hard hitting look at the issues. It was supposed to be, more than anything, funny. But, the problem lies in the fact that the actual candidates don't find it necessary to divulge much more information than that video does.

I have just one more, semi-related topic before I put this to bed. I know I haven't done a good job of addressing the issues, or even really making it abundantly apparent who my choice is. But that wasn't what this post was about. I never meant for it to be. Like I said, there are many facets to this election, and I choose lack of information and how it is Emily's (and the rest of our) faults. If you want actual information on some of the real issues, you’re going to have to do some independent research. Cuz the candidates aren't talking about it, and the mass media sure as hell isn't talking about it. And neither am I.

But the last thing I want to talk about is Jim's perception of the bailout. Jim is willfully ignorant about politics. Let's not get into that at the moment, except as a point of fact. So, his mom told him that the bailout is going to cost each taxpayer $20,000, and he's lucky he isn't paying taxes at the moment.

I find it very interesting that this is the way that is coming across. That the bailout is going to be this horrible burden on individual people in that manner. What that meant to Jim, and I'm sure what it meant to millions of Americans, because Jim is no idiot, is that it would literally cost each taxpayer $20,000. Like everyone was going to get a $20,000 bill in the mail on Monday and have to figure some way to pay it. And that's just ludicrous.

First of all, we pay our taxes and then they go into a big pool l and the government basically decides what to do with it. Infrastructure, schools, law enforcement, hospitals, FEA, military, and yes... Corporate bailouts if necessary. If the government spends more son any of those things, they have less for everything else. But if the government decides to spend our tax dollars on a corporate bailout, we aren't all literally sent a bill in the mail. It just means there's less money left in the pool for all the other things.

And, to say that it costs each taxpayer $20,000 is misleading in the first place. As we discussed earlier, the rich pay far more taxes than the poor. For one thing, each percentage of tax is higher for them, and for another they have a higher percent of income tax that they pay. So, dividing $700,000,000 evenly between every taxpaying citizen and coming up with the $20,000 is misleading, at best.

But, in case you thought you were going to be getting a huge bill in the mail that you were going to have to get a second mortgage to cover, that's just not the way it works.

Our schools are just going to have to live with those 30 year old textbooks a while longer, that's all.

Monday, September 29, 2008

The Road Not Taken

I came out here tonight to write this thing, but I'm finding that my heart just isn't really in it at the moment. That's not really true. I really came out here, primarily, to read Mike's post. Then I decided to write this thing. But the heart comment is still fairly accurate. Oh well, forging on...

It's time for a little bit of what iffery. Hm... I'm not really sure how to get the ball rolling on this topic. See, the thing is, this could be a topic that I could write about for years and never finish. Like... Years straight of writing. Thousands upon thousands of pages. Because there is always a road not taken. .In every decision or happening that occurs, something else could have occurred instead that would make everything that follows it completely different. So, for the purposes of this, I'm going to focus on Jess.

Jess was, pretty much, my first really big crush. In the interest of full disclosure the previous statement is entirely untrue in every respect. My first really big crush was Sarah, back in sixth grade. I asked her out, she said no (the first of... Well, not many... But the first and then there came everyone else I asked out) and then we were friends for a while longer. And then she got really obnoxiously girly, and then I think she got really obnoxiously anti-girly.... The point is, soon after she said no she changed and I was no longer interested in her anyway. And I don't really think I have any friends currently who even know who she is. There's a chance Lior might remember her if I brought her up, but he'd have to try to think back to middle school and there's really no reason to bring her up at all. That was a stupid tangent to have gone on, and I should, but won't, delete it.

So, Jess. I actually don't remember meeting her. I'm sure I must have been peripherally aware of her existence back in sixth grader. And then I changed schools. And then I met her again in freshman year of high school. This is the meeting that I specifically don't remember. What I do remember is coming home after school that day and flopping down on the bed in the computer room and burying my face in the blanket and seeing her face. I hadn't realized that I had a crush on her until that. I still think it's weird the way that happened. How I hadn't even realized it until that moment, and that is the moment I remember all these years later.

That little story was, again, not entirely pertinent to the subject at hand. It was just some unnecessary and sappy background filler.

Okay, well cut to roughly nowish. Jess was down a couple weeks ago and we hung out, and when I was driving her home she pointed out Kevin's house. That was the catalyst for this current line of thought.

Cutting back to ninth grade: I got to know Jess more and we hung out some and whatnot, and the crush got bigger. So, at some point, I decided to ask her out. That was a big deal decision for me back then. I don't know that it would be now if I were in the same situation, but it might be. That's irrelevant. The point is, when I finally decided to ask her, it turned out Kevin had asked her like... The day before or something and they were currently going out. See how that cut came into play? Everything is fitting together quite nicely now, eh?

So, I went through my self destructive depressed phase, like I do, and then I moved on. Jess and I stayed friends.

But what if I had asked her a couple days sooner? Looking back, I'm pretty sure she would have said yes. So then what would have happened? At some point in high school things got really bad for her. I'm not entirely sure why. I think it had a lot to do with her parents, and then that probably extended a lot into her relationships with her friends, which she seemed to have mostly lost. But what if she had been dating me at the time? Instead of dating a string of guys that were, very obviously, bad for her and probably added to the horribleness of whatever it was she was going through at the time, she had been with me, who would have been there for her and to try to make things more bearable? There are little things that happen every day that change out lives tremendously, but could this have been a rather big thing that would have ostensibly changed hers' for the better. All of that is, quite honestly, very possible. Instead of telling her parents that she was hanging out with me as a cover for w hen she was hanging out with people they wouldn't approve of, she could have been actually hanging out with me. Now, some of the people her parents "didn't approve of" were perfectly fine people and there was really nothing wrong with her being with them. But some, probably a lot, weren't. And she would have been far better off not hanging out with them doing the things that they were doing.

So, assuming all of that could have been true, where would that have put me? This is a bit of a tougher question, because with her I was thinking in broad generalities, and with me I am thinking more specifically. Would I have not dated Meg? Or Dana? Or Stacy? Probably not. Not having dated any one... Well... Maybe not Meg... Of those people would have made me, probably, a much different person than I am today. Better? In a lot of respects. Maybe worse in a few. But I think being with Jess would have made up for the ways that those girls made me a better person.

I know I would be better off right now if I had never dated Stacy. And even better off if I were still dating Stacy. If either of those things were true, there's a good chance I would have given my life some sort of direction, instead of where it is now. But let's try to keep this hypothetical train on the tracks and not turn this into the aforementioned thousands page diatribe (i wonder if I used that word correctly)

The problem with this line of thinking is that after the first hypothetical, it leads inescapably into a whole slew of new hypotheticals that can be neither proven or disproven. And any one of them being wrong leads all of the following assumptions in an entirely different direction.

So, here's where the train really comes off the tracks: (I've used that metaphor twice in way too short a time period, and with slightly different meaning) Most of the supposition from earlier wouldn't have happened anyway.

Yes. It's possible that everything would have turned out great and that we would now be living together, both moderately successful and happy. But that really isn't very likely, is it? She would have been my first real girlfriend, and what's more likely is that it would have ended in heartbreak, just at a different time. And so maybe that time period would have extended through Meg. But, in all likelihood, the only thing that would be different if I had asked her out a couple days earlier is that my history of heartbreak would be written slightly differently. In all likelihood, she would still have eventually gone down the same paths as she did. Maybe it would have taken her a little longer to get to them. Maybe I would have staved them off for a little while. But, in all likelihood, we would probably both be in roughly the same place today as we are anyway. Maybe gotten there differently, and maybe we wouldn't still be talking to each other from time to time and hanging out when she's down. But for the most part, things would be the same now as they are anyway.

So, what does that mean for the road not taken theory? Do things work out, generally, the same way regardless?

No. This flight of fancy didn't, realistically, happen to pan out into the perfection that my earlier posturing suggested that it might. But the little paragraph about Stacy would, I believe, have me in a completely different place than I am. And so I still believe that the little things, like manning up and asking out a girl just a couple days sooner, can have a drastic effect on the entire life that follows.

There are also other things that would have changed as a result of having asked her a couple days sooner. Assuming she said yes, which I choose to, I presently wouldn't have been rejected every time I have asked someone out. And that little fact could have changed my life drastically--maybe more drastically than the ensuing relationship has been shown to probably not have done.

But, I really don't feel like going into how.

Monday, September 15, 2008

I Want To Make Myself Cry

I'm pretty tired at the moment, and I have work in the morning, so I should be going to sleep right now. Bt I wanted to come out here and write a blog. I don't really have a blog to write, bt I would like to write one so here I am. I'm sort of divided about whether this is a good thing or not. On the one hand, I think it's important to have something to write before trying to write it. But on the other, a big part of writing is forcing yourself to do it. Forcing yourself to work through the times where you don't have anything to write, but to write them anyway.

Let's be clear thogh... What I'm doing here isn't really writing. Yes, I'm typing words into a, for the sake of argment, computer for the purpose of commnication between myself and anyone who chooses to read it. But let's not confuse this with things that authors do.

I've noticed that the posts I have been making recently have two main categories that they fall under. They've been either about relationships and the theory therein, or abot writing and theory about that, or how I'm not good at it. So maybe that tells me something. Maybe I should be putting myself ot there more in trying to actively find a relationship. This blog isn't about that. And maybe I should be putting myself out there more in terms of trying to be a more, or at this point any degree of, prolific writer. This entry is more about that. But only slightly.

There are some things that I watch over and over again. Aaron Sorkin shows, some other shows... That sort of thing. And there are things that I read (or listen to) over and over again. That's relegated more to Terry Pratchett these days.

Terry Pratchett is a wonderfl athor. On first glance, and certainly at the beginning of his career--the earlier dDiscworld books--he may appear to be just a Douglas Adams clone. Not that that is a bad thing, but itisn't what he is. Oh, I'm sure he has his Doglas Adams influence. I'm sure he's read The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. But his books have a depth to them that Douglas Adams was only able to valiantly fail at achieving. There's parody, to be sure, in them. But there's also a good deal of genine philosophy, and some adapted physics. There are messages to his books outside of pre entertainment, and he is able to accomplish all of this while still being entertaining. There are also moments in some of the later Discworld books, and the non discworld short serieses, that are geninely sweet and touching. It's these moments that I choose to focus on today.

As I said before, there are things that I watch/read/listen to again and again. And there are moments in some of these things that I find genuinely toching that bring me to tears. On film, there is a degree of atmosphere that is created by lighting and score and all of the other aspects of direction and filmmaking that adds to the heightened emotion of the scene. So, the fact that I know a given scene is coming and yet it still manages to elicit the desired emotion is not so surprising. But with books it's just the words doing it. And even though I know that Vimes is going to lose it and start bellowing the manscript of "Where's My Cow" into the darkness in a feeble attempt to read it to his son, who is miles away, at the agreed upon time, it gets me every time. There's something magical about that.

I really want to write something that has that sort of power. I don't think the trick for this is to have a great idea for a story. I think it can be done with jst a mediocre idea. Of course, I don't really even have any of those at the moment, but I choose onot to focuus on that aspect of the predicament at this current juncture.

This is as far as I've gotten in my thinking on the subject. I want to write something that, when I go back and read it months, or years, later--enogh time for me to have gained enogh distance from it that it feels like reading someone else's words instead of my own--it will bring tears to my eyes in the way that Terry Pratchett is able to. I want to be able to make myself cry.

So, that's that. I would have liked to have had more of a conclusory feel to that, but I told you from the beginning this post was sort of half baked. Another topic I had consdidered writing in thisspace was going to be about "The Road Not Taken," and what if I had asked Jess ot just a few days sooner back in freshman year of high school. But I wrote this one instead. I still have that other one in me, so it very well cold be my next post.

As a qick, unrelated, addendum: I saw Burn After Reading yesterday. I would write up a review and send it off to Shannon for her to post it on the Coral Springs Teen Website thing, as my free admission to the theaer was intended for, but it is rated R, and so it isn't allowed to be discssed in that space.

I liked it alright. It is no Big Lebowski, but the Coen Brothers have been disappointing me lately with their movies, and this one was at least not disappointing. It kept me entertained far better than No Country did, and at least it had a coherent ending.

In fact, the ending was really the whole point of the movie. Generally this is true of most movies, but with Burn After Reading I got the feeling that they wrote a fnny little scene and then went back and crafted a movie to get them back to that scene they wanted to shoot. The entire movie felt like a bild p to the punchline of the end scene. It was a really, really, long winded joke.

Not that the movie was overly long, or long winded. I think it clocks in at around 90 mintes. Maybe a bit more. But the very end sort of neatly smmed up the previous 90 minutes of movie in roghly 30 seconds in a way that felt very much like the punchline to a joke.

The beginning dragged a little bit. It spent a bit too much time introdcing the characters--specifically John Malkovich's character. And then after that it sort of kept on dragging. At least in my opinion. It wasn't boring, but I didn't know what they exact story was that I was supposed to be following. So, when the climax arrived, I was nsaware that we had reached the climax. It sort of felt like the movie was jst rising action, only I didn't knonw where it was rising to. For this reason, I think itn wo uld benefit greatly from a second viewing. A second time throgh where I understand the story that is being told and don't have to feel myself searching for it in all the mayhem and hijinks.

I probably won't see it again though. At least not for a while. Movies just don't hold the same appeal for me that they once did. An hour and a half to three hours with a group of characters and plot just isn't enogh for me anymore. I much prefer getting to know the characters and setting in the serialized setting of a television series.

I have some new thoughts that I put together very briefly while watching this movie on the differences between telling a story throgh a serialized format and a movie format. It has to do with how much nonsense and filler you can afford yourself in a shorter format. Everything in a movie has to be important to the central story or it doesn't belong. A big storys can be told in those 90 minutes of screen time, bt it has to be truncated in a way that keeps the movie flowing and still fits in everything that needs to be told for the story to make sense. I have somhe more on this topic, but I'm tired and I havenv't worked out how to say it effectively. So it would end up being a lot of restating myself and trying to work my way around to a point that cold have been made in a third of the time. So, I'm going to go to bed instead. Goodnight.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

There is Only One Aaron Sorkin

This is not supposed to be a revelatory statement. Obviously, I hold him in high regard, and obviously there is a reason for that. And just recently I've realized just how far from understanding what that reason is I am.

As I've said, I'm watching through the West Wing again, after about three years. Right before I came out here to write this, I finished off watching season five. That's the season where the show went drastically downhill.

Now, I think I want to preface this by explaining a little bit about Aaron Sorkin shows. They're all, fundamentally, the same. There's three of them. One is about the guys running a sports news program, one is about the guys running the country, and one is about the guys running a sketch comedy show. Already you can probably see the formula, though I wrote that last sentence in a way to specifically make it blaringly obvious. The formula for the types of things he does isn't really "Guys running x." Really, it's a behind the scenes look at something, and the characters are very passionate about what they do. But that is the overarching formula of the types of things Sorkin likes to write. That's not going to be my point here, though now it seems I have made you wade through a mostly erroneous paragraph.

The formulas that I am talking about are a little bit harder to identify, but only slightly. All it really takes is watching the three shows and paying some slight bit of attention, really. For one thing, the dialogue style is very unique and parodiable. There's a sort of Sorkin cadence that the dialogue inhabits, but that's a very vague way of discussing it. For one thing, characters repeat each other a lot. Far more than people repeat each other in real life. That is probably the most defining characteristic of Aaron Sorkin dialogue, and it is easy enough to replicate. But there's something else about it. I don't really know what it is, but I'm working on it.

Beyond the actual dialogue, there are only just so many frameworks Aaron Sorkin uses. If you watch just West Wing and Sports Night you will notice that there are a few episodes which are pretty much identical. Everyone watching an event on television that is annoying at first because its happening is casing everyone to be idle waiting for it to end, and so they take the time to write letters to their parents. And then they get excited about the participant and end up rooting them on. That's one example. I have a few more in mind, but don't feel like expounding on them, because that could be an entire essay all on its own and I realized while typing the abbreviated explanation of the last one that it is incredibly boring when boiled down to the bare essentials necessary to explain the similarities in the episodes. Suffice it to say, a lot of the basic story frameworks are reused in new settings.

Sorkin uses the same character names all the time. He obviously comes up with new ones as well, because there are a lot of characters in both the West Wing and Studio 60, but if you pay attention to the names being thrown around you'll start to recognize them. There are phrases that are used a lot too. "Her legs go all the way to the floor" "Like shooting fish in a barrel"... Only it's not exactly that line... He writes it slightly differently and I can't remember the exact wording, but when I hear it his way I know it was him who wrote it.

I am not the foremost expert on Aaron Sorkin and his writing style. Not by a long shot. He didn't write The West Wing all by himself. He had staff writers helping along and such. They worked with him on scripts, and as such I'm sure they understand his idiosyncricities far better than I do. So, with all of the formula present in his shows, you would think it would be easily duplicated. But it just isn't.

Aaron Sorkin, through the character of President Bartlett, has this so say on the subject: "Words, when spoken out loud for the sake of performance, are music. They have rhythm, and pitch, and timbre, and volume. These are the properties of music, and music has the ability to find us and move us, and lift us up in the ways that literal meanings can't. Do you see?"

Up until recently I sort of thought it was okay to try to replicate Aaron Sorkin. I mean, I sort of do it. My writing style, specifically my dialogue writing, has shifted towards his a lot since I started watching his shows and movies. That's not a bad thing. Influences are fine. But up until recently I hadn't consciously understood that trying to replicate his writing style is no good.

The forth season of the West Wing was the last season written by Aaron Sorkin. I just finished watching the fifth, and it is not nearly as good as the first four. I hadn't realized how far from the first for seasons the rest of the show was until I just went back and started watching the whole thing marathon style. When I watch things marathon style I gain more of an appreciation for the story and the flow of the series. I hadn't watched the non Sorkins stuff in this manner before, and I'm finding it a bit of a chore to get through, which is somewhat odd.It isn't poorly written. It's still a pretty good show. And all of the groundwork laid by Sorkin is still there, for the most part.

All of the characters are still themselves. They react in a predictable way to the events surrounding them. I don't mean that in a bad way. What I mean is, you grow to know and understand these characters, and they react in the ways that they should. Their characters remain in tact from the time Sorkin stopped writing the show all the way through to the end.

And it's not like the events stopped being interesting. In fact, they became more interesting. When I think of the prominent stories of the show, I remember the president and Josh getting shot, I remember the MS scandal, I remember Zoe getting kidnapped and the speaker taking over as president, I remember them putting a liberal and a conservative judge on the bench at the same time, Donna in a car bomb, bringing peace to the middle east, and the final two seasons of the presidential election. That list is in order of when the events happened, and Aaron Sorkin left by starting off the storyline where Zoe gets kidnapped. Everything after there wasn't him. So it's not like stuff stopped happening. In fact, the episodes that stand out to me that Aaron Sorkin wrote were fairly mundane in the actual plot.

Oh yeah... And they killed off Mrs. Landingham. That was the end of season two or three.

So, you would think the show wold be just as engaging with the formulaic nature of his writing and the major, interesting events continuing. But it just isn't. And I don't really know why. I can sort of tell why when I'm actually watching the show, but I don't know how to put it into words. It's an X factor that I hadn't fully realized until just recently. The characters all interact the same way they used to... It's just not the same. The conversations aren't as inherently entertaining. The jokes are still there and the back and forth still works, but just not like it did.

On a peripherally related subject, I suppose I am a Writer. I am not an Author. Claiming Authorship requires that you have Authored things. And that you are continuously Authoring. To be an Author you need to want it and live for it. It needs to be what you think about when you wake up and what you want to be doing all the time in between. Or, a t the very least, you need to have a considerable backlog of thing that you have e written of which you are proud. But I am a writer. It's the way I view pretty much everything, I suppose.

Most people, I think, wold just watch these serieses and like them or not and leave it at that. But me? I think about why they are written the way they are and what is different in the writing between the seasons that I like and the seasons I don't and why. And it doesn't just stop there. Earlier in this post I used the word "erroneous." I didn't really know exactly what it meant, and I had no idea how to spell it, but I knew it fitted there. I could have said "superfluous" instead, but I wanted it to be erroneous. Erroneous fit better. There's no real reason why it did, it just did. They both would have satisfied the intent of the statement, but it had to be erroneous and not superfluous, so I looked it up. That sort of thing happens to me all the time. I know there is a right word for what I am trying tot say, and another word will just not do, and so I will have to find that word before I can move on. I sometimes stop conversations trying to find the right word to finish my thought. Even if I can find another way of conveying the thought that is effective, I need to figure out what the right word is that I was looking for that belongs there is before I can continue the conversation. I imagine it is rather annoying to others, but it has to be done.

I recently started working a part time job at Kohl's. During the interview process and the orientation, there was a video that basically went into the history of the company and company propaganda and whatnot. But there was one line in the video that annoyed me, and it was on a loop, so it annoyed me every time I heard it. The narrator said "Kohl's is expanding its business and has opened up 400 (i don't remember the real number) stores in 26 (again... No idea what that number should be) states in four months. That's more than most businesses open in just one year!" And that is really all I remember about the video. Because that line is wrong. It's just wrong.

There's a symmetry to the statement they were trying to make. They were trying to say that Kohl's is opening up all these stores and that is noteworthy because other places open up far less stores in a far greater amount of time. So it started out fine. You start with up playing the accomplishments of the entity to which you tare trying to grandeurize, and then you want to downplay the accomplishments of the other entity. So you say that they have opened less in a greater amount of time. But you don't want to downplay the amount of time it took them to do less. You want to make that amount of time seem gigantic in comparison. It's not "In only one year." It's "In an ENTIRE year!" Every time I heard that line it was grating.

There isn't really any greater point that I'm trying to make with this line of discourse. Just that I view the world through the eyes of a writer. The West Wing thing was more of a focused point than this, and really I suppose I should have ended there. Go out strong. But I chose not to. I chose to end not with a bang, but with a whimper (That's Eliot!)

Friday, August 29, 2008

Revisitting the West Wing

I'm not working at the dry cleaners anymore. There was.. Well there was a thing and then a small grade fight and then a shortish conversation. Anyway, I'm not working there now. I'm starting a part time job at Kohl's now. There's really no reason why you should care that these things are true, except that the lack of time spent idly at the dry cleaner's is the reason why updates in this space have been and will most likely continue to be, less frequent. I like calling it "this space." It makes it feel like I'm writing for something that matters. Like it's space that needs to be filled otherwise it would just be barren wasteland. It's not, of course... But it's nice to pretend.

I went back and read one of my early blogs about phrases people (mis)use. I liked that entry a lot. It was entertaining and had nothing to do really with updating you poor suckers who bother to read this drivel on the current nowhereness of my life. Don't get me wrong... Periodic updates are somewhat important to me. The main reason I started writing here was to keep in touch in a very laxidasical way with Mike, so I like it when time to time he has a real life update. But other than that, I think it's just boring to be recording the things that are going on in my life here. Of course, I don't really talk about them very much outside of this space (I did it again) so I suppose there's something to be said for letting people who care know these things in some fashion. But, well, I'd like it if I had more actual things to rant about in an entertaining way. I wonder if any of my old livejournal blogs are still around... And I wonder if any of them were entertaining at all. I remember I wrote one about the passion of the christ that I turned in as an essay to a teacher I liked at the time and he liked it. I wonder if I can figure out how to find that again. Probably not.

The main point of writing this entry tonight, really, is because I haven't written one in a while. .That's about it. I haven't had anything much to say, so I haven't said it. I've wanted to write a substantive and fun entry, but haven't had a topic. There have been little things... I remember wanting to write something about politics, but not Mike's kind, and something about how much bigger and at the same time smaller everything gets as you get older. But those wouldn't have been enough of a topic to have really filled enough space for me to bother writing about them. And they wouldn't really have been that much FUN.

Both of those topics, though, arose from watching the West Wing again. I didn't have anything that I really was excited about watching, and so I'm making my way once more through the best television series aired to date, a position I will hear no arguments on. Watching the West Wing is kind of a big thing for me. It's a Stacy thing, and only mildly interesting and not very entertaining, so I will be keeping this somewhat short.

The West Wing was a big part of mine and Stacy's relationship. At around that time I had fallen in love with Sports Night. It's funny... I had never really thought about the writer of a movie or TV series before that. I had wanted to write, and was aware that shows were written by someone, but it just hadn't occurred to me to follow the writer of something I liked from one project to the next. Actors, and even directors, I had been paying attention to. But somehow the writer, who I now consider to be one of if not the most important facet of the medium, had somehow escaped my scrutiny. Aaron Sorkin and the West Wing changed that.

On a side note, there was another entry I had thought about writing about how until I got into Friends pretty heavily I had never thought about television shows in terms of seasons and beginnings and endings. There's not too much meat on that topic either... Just something I had thought about for a minute or two the other day.

Back to the issue at hand. So, I had fallen in love with Sports Night, and then there was a Winter Break or something that put me and Lior both in Springs at the same time. We were hanging out at Stacy's place because he was dating her at the time and that's what we did, and there was an episode of the West Wing on television that we watched. It was Celestial Navigation. That was the episode. I didn't really' understand the underlying themes of the episode. I didn't understand that they were trying to put Mendoza on the bench of the Supreme court, or any of the other plot lines running through the episode. But I enjoyed it. All of the things I loved about Sports Night were present, plus a much richer story that I , at the time, didn't follow. So I started downloading and watching the series furiously.

It was one of the first things Stacy and I sort of bonded over. Another was the fact that we were both up late nights and talked during roughly the time the sun was coming up regularly. But, seeing as I was downloading the series anyway, and she liked it too, my first excuse to see her, though at the time was a platonic excuse, was to drop off the dvds of the series that I made for her as I accumulated them.

When we started dating, watching the West Wing together was sort of our thing. It was more important to me than it was to her... But I suppose that could be said about the entire relationship. We never got through the whole series, but the time I looked forward to the most back then was laying with her on her couch or her bed and watching The West Wing with her.

When she broke up with me, I finished off watching the series proper, because it was still running at the time, but it wasn't as good. The reason it wasn't as good had more to do with the fact that Aaron Sorkin had left the project than it did with the fact that it was our thing and now there was no more us. But after the series ended, I never went back and watched it again. I was afraid it would hurt to watch.

But recently I decided that I now, finally, have enough distance and have left her behind enough that I can go back and enjoy it. And I have been. It's really a fantastic show, and I can't imagine that I won't find myself watching through the whole thing again sometime once I've finished with this viewing. Every once in a while a character will say something and I'll think "Hey! I say that all the time! So that's where I got it from.

I could continue to talk about the reasons why I love the show, and specific scenes or just specific emotions that scenes evoke for a long time. But this is already longer than I executed it to be, and I don't really feel like writing more. And if I did feel like writing more, it would be to explain the topics that I said I had contemplated writing earlier. But, no. This entry ends here. The point I was trying to make is that watching the show again is a big step for me, and I'm very glad that I'm finally able to make it. Not just because it's a further sign that I've left her behind me, but because the absence of the show from my life for son long has really been a shame.

When I finish it, I'm going to revisit Sports Night also, which I have been avoiding for just as long and for much the same reason, and that is almost as much of a shame.


A long time ago, video games used to be different than they are now. It used to be hard--really actually hard--to get to the end. Nowadays, the total length of a game is included in the review, or the summaries, of the game in much the same way as the length of a movie. Everyone is expected to play the game from beginning to end. But it didn't used to be that way.

Back in the NES days, the point of video games wasn't to follow the story, or to play with tons of people around the world, or even your friend across town. The graphics were serviceable--and every iteration would be marveled at--but really the graphics were nothing to look at. The games were inherently fun. There was a little score bar at the top right hand corner of the screen, and that was the point of the game. Most people would never "beat" most of the games they bought. They wre hard, and the point wasn't to win. It was to play.

If you died, usually you got another life. You usually got 3 lives. When you lost one of the lives, you had to start the level you died in over. When you lost all three of your lives, you lost the game. But wait! You still had your continues. Now, your score goes all the way back down to 0, but you get to keep on playing from where you left off. You get three continues. But then, that's it.

Once you've used up your three continues, you have to start all over again from the beginning of the game. That was always the part that I didn't like.

I wanted to keep playing, but I didn't want to have to deal with all that easy bit in the beginning. I already did that bit. It's no longer fun. It's just the work I would have to put in to get to the bit that I was up to now. And it isn't always easy. Not only do I have to do it again, but I have to do it well. Better than I did it before, cuz otherwise I won't be able to advance any farther than I already did. So I would be faced with wanting to continue a game that I liked, but nob wanting to have to put in all of the workt to get to the new and interesting parts... Or even the part that was old and hard and I had died on previously, but wanted to try again at.

Sometimes I would put in the game and try from the beginning, but eventually I would get bored of it. Of playing that same part over and over. I didn't want to start from the beginning. I didn't want to do all that grunt work over. Limited Continues was a pain in the ass.

Now I'm gonna make the parallel to relationships. The beginning of relationships is fun. It's all full of getting to know each other and all that stuff. It's new and exciting. Everything goes well in the beginning. It's not till a few months, or maybe just one, that it becomes sort of a real relationship. That's when the "honeymoon period" ends, and maybe you have your first fight. Now you aren't getting to know each other anymore. Now you know each other and you're learning how to live with each other. (not necessarily, and hopefully not so quickly, actually sharing a home... Just deal with the stuff that isn't perfect like it seemed until now) This is the part where it starts to become a real relationship. You've gotten past the first couple easy levels, and now you're starting to lose a few lives. Maybe even waste a continue.

But that initial phase is the bit that scares me at the moment. Sure, it's great when it's currently happening, but I'm more interested in the part where I'm starting to lose some lives. That bit that I haven't been able to get past so far.

I'm not at the point where I'm giving up on the game entirely, and ready to trade it in at Gamestop or anything. Once I'm actually playing it I'm sre it's gonna be fun again. It's just hard to find the motivation to load up the cart knowing I've gotta start all over again.

Of course, with me, all of my relationships have started more organically, and by the time I realized I was playing I was already up to the second level... Past that first level which was really just a glorified tutorial. But I'm not in a place now where I think that sort of organic beginning is likely to occur. I've gotta actually go out and by the game this time. No friend is going to be bringing it over, and I'm not just going to stumble across it in a video arcade.

I've never done the classic dating thing before... I guess it really never seemed like a real thing to me. Just sort of the thing that happens in movies and on TV, but not so much in real life. I guess I'll find out, though. (man this line is cheesy....) There's a new game coming out that I'd like to try.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008


we live in such a different world than that of our parents. I know this is in no way a revelation and it’s been discussed to death, but I wanna discuss it some more anyway.

mostly when this topic is brought up it’s all about technology, or the state of society. and yes, these things are all true to some extent. computers and the internet make daily life much different than it was before. the dewey decimal system, for example, is no longer all that important to learn if you don’t plan to be a librarian. I know i chose something inane to point to as my example, but that’s pretty much where this thought process is going. so get used to it.

i was listening to a podcast (lets ignore for the moment that i was listening to a podcast, and not a radio broadcast. or that I’m posting this in a blog and not to my private little journal. and that I’m typing it on a bluetooth keyboard connected wirelessly to my cell phone) and they were talking about movies and stuff, because it was a podcast about movies called the triple feature. I’ll plug it here because i think these guys are at the point in their careers where even the nonexistent publicity this blog generates is noteworthy. it’s called the triple feature, and it’s weekly monday night live broadcast by three guys who do movie webcomics. I’ll put all the urls at the bottom of the post. anyway, they got onto the question of what order they plan to show star wars to their kids. 1-6, or 4-6 and then 1-3 like the rest of us saw it.

okay... well i think i saw it 1-6. not sure i actually bothered watching 4-6 all the way through. i’m not really a fan. but that’s not the point. from now on kids are growing up knowing star wars not as the holy trilogy, but as this six part thing.

i mean... that’s a little hard to grasp onto for me. maybe not that in particular, since star wars was never a big part of my life, but other little things like that fascinate me. my parents grew up in a time where "I’ll be back," simply meant that someone was going away and they would return. and it was not said in a stupid austrian accent. Michael Jordan would one day be the Michael Jordan of basketball, instead of saying that kobe might possibly be the next michael jordan, or david beckham is the michael jordan of soccer. the beatles were new and exciting; not the cornerstone of music as we know it today. (seriously... their influence is in pretty much any modern music, whether the artists know it or not)

i can fathom life without video games or cable television or internet or cell phones. but was there really life before full house and saved by the bell? those things have always just been there. there was really a time when they weren’t? also, there’s always a number after the superbowl. what was it like to live in a superbowlless world?

i think there is going to be less and less of that as time goes on. there are some things that seemingly all kids are in to. like pokemon and power rangers and hannah montana. and so the kids that were all that age at that time will have a fad that they all share and look back on fondly. and then they’ll be bastardized into multimillion (or billion, in the future) dollar movies a la transformers. but i foresee less and less all encompassing phenomena as time goes. i don’t think there will be another beatles. the entire world is not likely to be behind one band in that way ever again. and there is no longer a tv show that absolutely everyone watches every week. the closest we have is American Idol, and even that doesn’t get the same audience that the last episode of MASH got. there are so many choices now, and no many different niche audiences, that a global phenomenon is just no longer super likely.

i would say that maybe video games will one day bridge that gap, but that’s not true either. even a game like halo doesn’t have the mass appeal that something like space invaders had. everyone played some space invaders. even tetris.

but i seem to have wandered from my point a little. not that i necessarily had a point. i wasn’t presenting and defending an argument (even though i suppose i ended up doing that) but rather just saying "You know... there was a time when ’rock and roll’ was a genre that didn’t need to be subdivided" sort of thing.

on that note: There are oldies stations, and they play the golden oldies. what type of music will oldies stations play in twenty years? pop? rap? what’s the defining genre of or generation?

i grew up watching nick at nite. it was i love lucy and mr ed and get smart. (i’m cautiously looking forward to the get smart movie... it looks a bit too slapstick. and i didn’t hear any of the catch phrases in the trailer.) now if you turn on nick at nite it’s full house and roseanne and fresh prince. that’s classic television now. it was just yesterday that it was tgif.

i know there was other stuff i wanted to talk about. i wanted to talk about the moment of wonderwall in rock band that just completely blew me away. i tried explaining it in an email to jess (who, if she’s reading this, has yet to write me back by the way) and i just wasn’t able to do it justice. so i don’t think i’ll try again. but i think i’ll be able to relate that song to that moment from now on instead of to stacy, which is a good thing. it’s a pretty song.

i’m sure there were other things that i wanted to discuss, but they were fleeting. like this topic i settled on. if i hadn’t decided to actually come out here and type it up tonight, i never would have remembered to another day.

so, in closing, i’ll post the urls. check out the triple feature and related comics if you’re a movie fan. they’ve got all the spectrums covered quite nicely actually... there’s a movie snob, a guy who just enjoys total crap, and the guy who sort of goes both ways.

i tend to agree with joe (he loves crappy movies) that’s the only positive thing i can derive from my time with stacy, is an appreciation for stuff that really isn’t good.

some stuff just isn’t supposed to be good. it’s just supposed to be entertaining crap. or pull at your heartstrings crap. it’s nice to be able to enjoy crappy movies for what the are instead of pointing out all the reasons they are bad.

don’t get me wrong though... if they fail to entertain or to be funny or whatever, then they are a bad crappy movie.

anyway. good night, and good luck.

I forgot to post the URLs... I was supposed to do that in post.
The Triple Feature , Theater Hopper , Multiplex , Joe Loves Crappy Movies

Monday, March 3, 2008

I Should Be Teaching

There really isn't a valid reason why I'm not. I've always maintained that I can always fall back to teaching. Not that I've done it before... but it's my fallback career. If I can't think of or find something that I really want to do, I can always fall back to teaching.

Well... it really is about that time. Past that time, really. I don't really have any valid excuses for why I'm not doing it.

Oh... I've got invalid excuses. I've got invalid excuses for everything. Most of the time, I don't feel capable of conducting a class. But I know that's crap. There's really nothing that I'm incapable of doing. But teaching's a year long commitment, and there's no real training period. Day one I'll be in the room by myself with room full of kids. And, for one thing, I don't feel like I have anything worth imparting.

But if I absolutely hate it, I'm stuck for a year.

But I probably wouldn't hate it. I'd probably be fine. So at this point, it's really probably what I should be doing. Now, whether or not I will is another story.

I should get myself certified to sub, and get a little bit of experience in a classroom for the remainder of the school year. And then in the fall I should look for a job teaching high school english. That should be the plan, and for the next few days I'll probably think it over, and then I'll probably dismiss it again, like I always have.

God, I hate me.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Just Like In the Movies

To a certain extent I live my life like a movie. Obviously not in the activities of my life, as those are few and far between, but the way that I think. And at the moment, I want to pontificate on movie scenes... or television... or even books really. Fiction scenes. The ones with the slow piano dominated soundtracks where the character is reflecting, or gripping a sentimental object. Or destroying/throwing away said object. Do people really have these scenes?

I know I do. But I contrive them. I've held an object and tried to grip it so tight that it left an imprint on my palm. And I've tried to just sit for hours just reflecting and sobbing. But I never have really felt the way that I think I'm supposed to while doing these things. I do them because I feel that cinematically they are what I am supposed to do. I can never get it to have a real emotional effect on me the way it's supposed to.

I end up only sitting and sobbing for a minute or two before I get bored and turn on the teevee. And then my mind is occupied by what I was supposed to be pining in cinematic reflection on, and whatever the television wants me to be paying attention to.

I'm really just sort of curious as to whether or not other people do these things, and whether they have the true desired emotional impact on themselves. My guess is that they do, and that I'm just not built that way.

I think it's sort of the same idea as writing for yourself. Emily Dickinson wrote her poetry for herself, and never really intended to show it to anyone or publish it or anything. I don't know if that's because she just thought it wasn't good and no one would be interested, like the plot we've seen played out in countless movies replacing poetry for art or singing or whatever... But probably not. There are countless people who really do just write or paint for their own enjoyment, and it doesn't matter if anyone else ever sees it.

I don't do that. I live for the outside world. I tried to keep a journal once, but it didn't stick because it just seemed trite, and no one was ever going to be reading it anyway so what's the point? Whereas this is equally as trite, but it's out there for people to read... whether or not they do. There is an intended audience I am writing to who is not me.

I guess there isn't any sort of greater point that I am trying to make... and there isn't a particular here-and-now real life occurrence this is relating to.

I was just thinking about it. And I wish life was more like a movie. I wish things worked out the way that they are supposed to and that everything was cinematic. I really believe it could be. I guess that's one of the major differences between us. I believe that life could have a fairy tale ending. You just need to believe it can, let it, and do a little bit of work to help it along. And have a somewhat loose interpretation of what "happily ever after means."

I moved this paragraph from the beginning to the end, because I wanted the entry to start on a more interesting note:

I really should be working on the pilot instead of this drivel. I clearly have the time to be writing, and I'm not really even sure that I'm blocked at the moment. I could probably write at least one of the scenes that it is my responsibility to write tonight. The pilot's almost finished now, and I really like the way it's turning out... but I'm not really pulling my weight. But that's not what I want to talk about here.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Be Kind, Rewind

It's been an interesting week. For one thing, really the most thingy thing, Lior showed up. Also I took a career assessment thing... I'm not sure what to do with that, but it brings up an interesting topic sort of.

First, I had thought that Lior had blocked my screen name and basically didn't want anything to do with me anymore. He says he didn't block me, he just ghosts... and while I have my doubts on that score, it doesn't really matter all that much. It was nice to spend time with him again. We went to medieval times. he seems to have lost contact with pretty much everyone, but there's still a part of me that feels he shouldn't have let himself lose contact with me the way we have. but oh well, moving on.

the one thing that came out of the assessment that find interesting, so far, is something I've been saying for a long time now, and thinking for even longer. the night before my parents went over the results, which they did before I did, I had a conversation with Lior about how I basically have no ambition or drive, and he kept saying basically I need to create ambition and drive and I should write more and practice writing and just always be writing. my response was that I don't really like writing. certainly not enough to practice at it and really hone my craft. I've been saying this for years... I'm a good writer. I could probably be a really good writer. but I just don't love it.

oh sure, if I have a great idea and can write a story that I really like, it feels great. but that hardly ever happens, and I don't enjoy the pursuit. writing is something that I would truly like to want to do, but not really something that I, in actuality, want to do. don't get me wrong, my dream job is still writing for television. but not enough to put hours daily into that pursuit and do the things that are necessary to making it a viable possibility. I would also like to win the lottery. if the opportunity arises, I'll jump at it. but in the meantime, I'm not buying tickets.

the interesting thing is that when my parents looked over my career assessment results, they said that the results listed writing as one of my abilities, but not really so much one of my interests. they said that they've known this for years, dating back to high school, and were surprised when I chose it as my major because it was clearly not something I love. I don't recall them actually ever having said this to me, but that's okay. I knew it anyway... I just had to pick a major is all.

switching gears, I saw be kind, rewind yesterday and would like to talk about it. I did not like it, but I find it interesting enough to warrant discussion on why it was not good.

I went into the theater knowing nothing about the movie except that it starred jack black. the last thing I had seen with him was nacho libre, and I was expecting something similar. at least it wasn't that.

this is not a jack black film. it's just a movie that he happens to have a lead role in. he does play his character the same way he would play a school of rock or nacho libre role, but it isn't the focus of the movie.

the movie fails on several levels. for one thing, there is a subplot of the movie about a famous jazz musician that was said to have lived in the small town the movie takes place, and have been born in the building which the titular video rental store occupies. the movie opens with the story of him, and for a good twenty minutes the opening left me confused as to what the movie proper was going to be about. it turns out the jazz musician guy thing was just a very forced plot device to sort of tie the movie together and give it an ending. it was not necessary, and didn't add anything to the greater idea of the movie.

then jack black's character tries to sabotage an electrical plant, and receives an electric shock which lifts him in the air, and holds him there. he, unbelievably, survives. even more unbelievably, he becomes magnetized. this is magical realism. I do not like magical realism, as a rule, and this instance is no exception.

magical realism is generally a forced plot device. if the guy hadn't turned into a bug there would be no metamorphosis. in the case of be kind, rewind, this is the second massively forced plot device. this one is used to destroy the inventory of the vhs rental store. the magnetism is later remedied in a somewhat throwaway scene where jack black takes a massive magnetic piss when the device is no longer needed to propel the plot.

the characters of the movie straddle the space of being realistic and not. often times minor characters will say or do things that are just plain stupid in an obvious attempt to move the plot forward without figuring out a realistic or meaningful way of doing so.

there is also an implied crush/love interest relationship between Morgan freeman's character and one of the minor characters which is never explored.

all of this would be acceptable if the movie was funny. but it isn't. which is made all the more annoying because it really could have been. it creates a lot of opportunities for great comedy, and then just plain falls short. specifically, the entire sequence where they are making their first movie remake of Ghostbusters. that could have been an hilarious (an, not a, before a word beginning with h) sequence. but instead it garners only one or two minor chuckles.

the most frustrating thing about this movie is that the premise has so much potential, and consistently falls short.

the ending of the film is also very forced. forgetting for a moment that it ends with the previously discussed forced plot device of the jazz musician, the final note of the film is the town congregating around the video store watching the last film these guys have made before the store is demolished. this would be a fine final note, except that the rest of the movie was never about bringing the town together. it was about saving this video store through the production of these "sweeded" films. the town coming together in that way doesn't warm the heart like it would in a Disney film ending on a similar note, because that aspect hasn't been introduced before. it's just there as a period to a sentence that was in need of some other sort of punctuation.

so, steer clear of this movie... unless of course the stuff I have to say about it makes it seem endearing in some way. if, for instance, you really like magical realism and clever ideas that try but fail to bridge the gap between just a clever idea and something that is actually funny or interesting.

and just because I didn't mention it, that doesn't mean that Stacy has become any less of a burden to my psyche over the past week. just saying.