Sammy the Seal

Archive for May, 2008|Monthly archive page

To pine is human

In Uncategorized on Saturday, 31 May, 2008 at 2:41

We’re all entitled to feel dramatic, now and again, so here I go. (But, this is anything but spontaneous and irrational). I was at a friend’s birthday tonight, so this all might not seem so coincidental (and in truth, it really is not, but I don’t want to reveal much), even though I tried to convince myself it was. I had two pouty, pathetic realizations tonight, which I suppose I thought I was too old and mature for, something like that. But you’re never too old to feel insecure, eh?

1) I wish I had a couple more friends closer to my age. I love my people, but just about everyone is at least 3-4 years younger than me. Despite what people tell me (the waitress at the pool hall, even: “you have a baby face!”), it makes me feel old. Now that I think about it, It’s broader than age, more like I feel out of place. A LOT. (Yeah, join the club, I know…)

and

2) I really, really miss being in love.

I think if I had #2, it would solve #1. (At the least, I’d be more carefree and energetic.)

(This, I swear, is coincidence, but I got home, plugged ipod into the stereo, then had a shower. And what, out of 2900 songs, played shortly before I sat down to write this? “Lover, You Should Have Come Over” by Jeff Buckley. Thanks a lot, more wishful thinking.)

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“Most of your daddy is in the belly of a dog”

In funny ha ha on Thursday, 29 May, 2008 at 4:44

To combat the seriousness of the Say Anything post, I’m trying, though in vain, to get some Strangers With Candy footage on here. On the way home from work, I had a bout of random thoughts, and became struck with eagerness to get home and share with you some SWC. But oh pooh. In the meantime, try to locate some yourself. I recommend the second season episode “The Goodbye Guy” (for Janeane Garofalo fans), or the third season episode “Is My Daddy Crazy?” (for David Cross fans). Or the whole series, for Stephen Colbert fans.

So un-pc, so crass, so….inappropriate! (A nod to Clive Clemens.) But oh, so well-crafted, so genius, so utterly hysterical.

Well, at least they have taste in music

In music videos, vinyl on Thursday, 29 May, 2008 at 4:09


Song: Ceremony
Artist: New Order
Album: Substance

Disclaimer, for any of you snobby purists and acolytes: the title is a joke. Honestly, I don’t even care enough about Radiohead to hate them, I just have little interest outside their earlier music. I haven’t even tried, or cared to try, to listen to them. Don’t hate, I’m not. Anyway, below is a cover of “Ceremony” as done by some band. It’s not the original, but they do pretty well by it, no kidding. It’s a fantastic song regardless.

(Look, Alli, another 80s song! 🙂 )

“He’s got that nervous talking thing”

In celluloid, words, words, words on Wednesday, 28 May, 2008 at 19:26

(Note: I’m so fucking pissed because I posted this at work hours ago, but my computer still had the old draft up, so when I turned on my computer tonight, wordpress auto-saved a draft of the unfinished post OVER the already published post. So, not only was the finished post not up, but it was deleted. So this one is not the same as before, and it took me another hour to finish. Grrrrrrrrr!!!!)

So recently, I re-watched an wonderful little trifle of a film I hadn’t seen in a while, Mumford, and went on imdb.com to look up Loren Dean, who plays the title character of that film. It was then that I was reminded that he plays the infamous Joe (“Joe lies/when he cries”) in Say Anything. As I own that film, I figured it a good opportunity to view it again. As I mentioned earlier, I don’t purchase films lightly. I have to have strong affection for a film to purchase it, because I’m choosy. For me, why buy anything if you’re going to buy everything? It either has to be very resonant, or incredibly entertaining.

So I did watch Say Anything again. And while I admit I’m not as passionate about it as I once was, it’s still special. Ah, a Cameron Crowe film. I’ve said this countless times, and though I only own two of his films, his films tend to be a rarity in this day and age in that his characters are well-drawn, he cares for them, and respects their intelligence, simple as that. I used to feel a little snobby in regards to my tastes, but I don’t anymore, because think about that seriously: does anybody give a crap about story or character, detail or nuance? In art AND in real life. Yes, this is the snobby wannabe artist/writer/bitter romantic talking, but I think every once in a while it’s nice, noble even, to care about something, anything. I had a friend say to me recently that she feels like an anachronism, like she belongs in an earlier time for various reasons, which I can understand, but won’t go into now. But one of the points of that conversation was that no one seems to care about anything anymore. “Reality” tv shows, celebrities, the films we pay to see, the “democratizing” (read: mediocritizing) effect of the internet that leads so many people to think they’re special and clever, the blockheads in political office– mediocrity is now a sign of success. Treading water is somehow a virtue. I know America is an incredibly lazy country, but this is sickening. I mean, there’s not even a standard to lower anymore. (Side note: makes me really appreciate director Brad “Ratatouille/The Incredibles” Bird, not just because of his storytelling, but because those films seem to say the opposite, that doing or striving for something extraordinary is still worth it. To paraphrase a character, not everyone can be great, but greatness can come from anywhere. You just have to give a shit.)

It’s not a coincidence that the characters in this film and in Jerry Maguire, the other Cameron Crowe film I own, are an anomaly in this world. On the commentary and elsewhere, there is the theme in his films of “optimism as a revolutionary act.” By nature, we are drawn to things that we can identify with, and John Cusack’s character is a perfect example of that. What better comparison, his character growing up on the Reagan 80s, any of us growing up in the Bush 00s? In both cases, we’ve earned the right to be disillusioned and cynical. But what makes his character great, revolutionary, as it were, is that Lloyd Dobler chooses to be himself and not get bogged down by any of it. For him, it’s as simple as:

Lloyd: How hard is it just to decide to be in a good mood and then be in a good mood?

Connie: Gee, it’s easy.

So his sister has a point, but still. There is always a choice, at every stage of the way, to be one way or be another way. You’re supposed to get cynical the older you get, but I feel I’m the opposite. I’m more relaxed, or at least accepting of things, than when I was younger. Also his character is incredibly awkward, which I can relate to. His brain moves faster than his mouth, which is also an issue for me. But it’s that disregard for “propriety” that makes him so hilarious. (I have to remind you, it’s a romance, but it’s also a great laugh.) I myself have given up on trying to coherent or “with it”– I don’t think I have it in me. The title of the post might as well be referring to me. Things just spill out. (See Lloyd’s “sold, bought, or processed” speech, or anything at the dinner scene, and look at how the “normal” people react.) But, in my opinion, there is something utterly endearing, and ultimately, appealing, about someone who can’t help but be themselves, regardless of how they look. (No surprise that his character is the stuff of romantic comedy legend, ask anybody.)

My other main praise of the film is, tying in to everything I’ve said so far, its honesty. The honest of character, dialogue, awkward moments, emotional confusion, facial expressions, the complications of life- all the little details are there. The expressions, the situations– I have an affinity for things that feel like great care was taken. I don’t watch typical romantic comedies, but only because I have seen a couple before. Seen one, seen ’em all. Everything here is sincerely romantic and genuinely funny. Nothing is simplistic. I don’t know why people watch romantic comedies, I get furious. It’s incredibly insulting to watch people I don’t give a shit about find happiness, when they don’t deserve it, or even have my sympathy. I know many people in real life who deserve that but haven’t found it yet. Here are characters who are patient with one another, that remind us that we can have levels, and differences, and *gasp* even be respected and loved for them. (One day, my friends, one day…..)

I’ll go ahead and address some common criticisms of the film now. The father subplot, I feel, is necessary, it gives the relationship more meaning. Without it, or with a different outcome, the story becomes too rosy. Without it, their little world becomes too insular. If all we had to worry about was spending time with our beloved, it’d be too easy. But, life doesn’t exactly allow for romance to exist in a vacuum, we have to deal with it and balance it with everything else. Besides, given the stresses of life that we or the characters go through, the fact that love can exist and thrive amidst it all is a miracle in itself, and all the more singular. I will, however, concede that Ione Skye, as Diane, leaves something to be desired in the acting department. Just about everyone else in the film, right down to the IRS agents, is on point, but she seems too uneven and inexperienced. Also, the music detracts from the film, or at least, it makes me cringe. It doesn’t help that the director enlisted his wife, Nancy Wilson of Heart, to write some of the music for the film. Very sappy and clichéd, disappointingly, as it’s music you’d expect to hear in an emotionally manipulative film. It’s not all her fault though, the other interludes and scores are just as cheesy– I had keep my eyes from rolling all the way back into my head.

Finally, I’d like to mention the boombox scene. Most people cite it as the best scene, the heart of the film. I’d like to politely disagree and say “are you crazy??” I’m sorry, but it’s the consummation scene (a.k.a. the scene in the backseat), hands down. Yeah, the boombox in the air is nice, “aww, what a romantic gesture!” (“gesture” being the key word) and all that, but it’s meaningless without the earlier scene. Not coincidentally, that Peter Gabriel song is first heard in the car, and that is what gives the boombox all of its emotional weight. But not just that, I think the backseat is a sweeter scene. If you know me at all, I’m not too keen on symbolism, and the boombox screams symbolism, now that I think about it. The backseat doesn’t symbolize, it embodies. What makes it so moving is how it catches these people completely unguarded. Personally, I find the most beauty in honesty and simplicity, and how much more honest a situation and simple a setting than that? (For those who have seen it, or been fortunate enough to experience it, you know what I mean.)

I’ve heard it said that the more you try to describe or talk about something beautiful or artistic, the more you strip it of its mystique and poetry. (See, writing isn’t all self-absorption, there’s a very real dilemma to worry about.) So, I feel I’ve done my job, heh heh. But hey, I didn’t spoil any of the details, you can find and cherish them on your own. I think I’ve spoiled very little, I merely talked a lot. But, if someone asked you to talk about a subject you’re passionate about, you’d sound as much the blathering nerd as I 😛

Some static started in the pool hall…

In Uncategorized on Saturday, 24 May, 2008 at 4:04

Perfect example of what I mentioned about last post. Tonight I was absolutely beat, but upon leaving work, I was energized about going out with my friends. Fun was had, etc. (my girls are always good for that) but the place closed about 2, and I didn’t want to go home but we all went our separate ways. Makes me wish they were in New York with me, 2 a.m. is nothing! (Hmm, birthday idea…) Others were tired, or had things in the morning I think, etc. But still, doing something or nothing is so much better when you have your peeps with you!

(Now I know how mon amie Liz feels when she says she wants to stay out longer and not go home yet. Let me know next time, I don’t want to be home yet either.)

Brace yourself…

In words, words, words on Saturday, 24 May, 2008 at 3:43

Hmm, maybe it’s a good thing that I’m so tired, I’ve forgotten everything I was mulling over while working today. That, or maybe I’m too excited, as I’ve discovered that I can blog from a work computer. (Shhh!) Myspace and email sites are blocked, naturally, as is Pitchfork, etc., but as you Googlers know, you can circumvent this restriction by reading the cached web page. For some reason, here, a cached blogging page is blocked but the actual site isn’t. (I doubt I’ll ever have the extra time for this at work, an aberration, surely.)

Okay, now that I’ve re-asserted myself as a huge loser… Oh, the work situation. I realize this is all meaningless as this is yet another “pay the bills”-type job but whatever, it’s still my life for now. Well, we’ve been understaffed for a while, and then my friend’s knee went out. Which means one less all over again. This lack of people affects my ability to take a vacation, even for a weekend. The more I’m in town, and the more I keep in touch with friends, the more I am reminded that there is an enormous world outside this little burg. Also, my roommate, due to whatever reasons, is moving out four months early. (Hold the outrage, my name is the only one on the lease.) So, I’m stuck with $600 of rent, which, if I wanted to pay that much, hell, I could do that in New York and not Texas. Also the hospital is restructuring and re-distributing employees, which would be a big deal, if that were my career. But it’s not.

Now to tie it all up. This restructuring takes place in early September, and my lease ends in September, begging the question, what the hell do I do? Also, a couple of friends of mine want to move to Seattle after they each finish school next year, and I’ll be damned if I stay here alone, without automobile. It’s never a good reason to go anywhere solely because of others, and I certainly learned from moving to New York that it’s a really good idea to have a really good idea of what you’re going to do when you move somewhere, much less NYC. That being said, I can’t stay here. Everyone knows this about me. And if I’m left here next year, I’d rather kill myself. So the point of this, really, is a matter of when to leave, not if. (Unless something really really exciting happens to me here.)

And now for the philosophical angle. Forget my tastes, forget that I am a snob and think Texas is mostly podunk and backwards. (Sorry, I’ve lived here all but eight years of my life, and I’ve been around the world, and there are no other conclusions to draw.) It’s not so much that I’d be in this city, than that I’d be by myself. Case in point, the same thing happened in New York. Nobody I know, save one person, and yet all that city in which to do stuff. As much as the personality of New York is fabulous and much like my own, I was miserable for most of the time there, and I won’t blame that on clock-punching job #10. Part of that is the fact that you really do have to be tough to survive there, because day-to-day life requires so much (unless you have someone to pay the bills). But I had absolutely no one there to share it with, and being known for my problems in meeting people, that’s how it stayed. And I’ve come far enough to know that I can’t do that well, I know my limitations. Early 20s started out needy and dramatic and needing attention, like any young person, then decided I needed to strike out on my own and develop myself, and now I’ve realized, as is always the case, that I need to strike a balance, between being independent for myself and dependent on those I care about. Neither extreme can work alone, every aspect of life is about balance. As opinionated and erratic and conversationally monopolizing as I can be, everything in my life has little worth unless I have a friend (or optimistically, girlfriend) to share it with. I don’t need someone to solve my problems, just a shoulder to lean on or a stomach to lay my head on would suffice, or even just a laugh, smile, or distraction.

Around the time I quit my job in New York, it became quite evident. Yes, I hated my job (the lack of social opportunities there didn’t help), but I had a total of four friends visit, then two a couple months later, and it put into extremely stark contrast how happy I could be (with my friends) and how miserable I was (with my job). Not coincidentally, a week after they left, I quit. I’ve had blah jobs before, and this one isn’t so great, but the socialize, on any level, is so important to relieving stress, or at least reminding yourself you’re not alone. (I don’t know how I would have made it my last days in Seattle without my friend Nicholl.)

ANYWAY, I have no idea what to do. Get an apartment by myself? Defeats the purpose of coming back here, which was to save money and start over. If I want to pay 500-600 I could do that in Seattle but have a better location. And just who would be my roommate? But if I leave, where do I go? And for how long? What do I do for money? Another crap job? Go to school? Or just keep working, but keep writing as well? Oh, and I’d like to something interesting for my 30th birthday, but with all this crap, I can’t even think about it. I’ve never had a surprise party, I wish I got one this time, if only so I don’t have to plan anything. “Surprise! Pack your bags, we’re going on a trip!” Yeah, if only…

My friend Stacy says it’s possible to be happy anywhere, as long as you have good friends around you, which I agree with, and which also validates my decision to move by next year no matter what. That being said, I still need to work out these next four months though.

Honestly, I wasn’t out to seek advice about this, I was just having a long, draining day (there are other, as yet unspecified, matters on my mind that are too specific and personal right now) and was hoping someone could change the subject or cheer me up. As I said, I don’t expect my friends to change my life, just to remind me of its possibilities.

Like milk on a hot day

In Uncategorized on Friday, 23 May, 2008 at 0:08

Usually, it’s okay. However, I listened to my “aww!” mixes at, and on the walk home from, work last night. Not a good idea.

“It was like a Zorro-type outfit”

In funny ha ha on Tuesday, 20 May, 2008 at 5:11

Everyone quotes “I’m Rick James bitch!” but this sketch is just as good. Honestly, this sketch and all the in-jokes are why I bought the Purple Rain soundtrack recently (you’ll prob hear about it later). As Charlie says, “Prince was THE SHIT.” I’ll never be a Prince fan, but you can’t deny this album.

“What are you angry about? I mean, you know where you got that shirt from, and it damn sure wasn’t the men’s department!”

“Let’s run a play- Computer Blue! Darling Pikki!”

“I wish I could say the same for you and your crew of flunkies.”

Too many good quotes, a truly inspired performance by Dave– hell, just watch the damn clip:

Update: It appears this video don’t work anymore. You can watch part of it, but not all, here

“That dance-y shit slid through/we had to stay hood, ’cause that’s what we been through”

In vinyl on Tuesday, 20 May, 2008 at 4:58


Song: Back in the Game
Artist: Wu-Tang Clan ft. Ron Isley
Album: Iron Flag

Just a groovy-ass song, with an Isley Brother (an Isley Brother!) on the chorus. He started innocently enough, with “twist and shout”, though now his refrain is “caught me some weight now.” Laid-back tempo, but still hot, and though it’s only five of the nine MC’s, each verse is solid, and I’m not just being polite. The charisma and skill that put them on the map in ’93 is on full display. (From the album Iron Flag)


Songs: Broken Face, Gigantic
Artist: Pixies
Album: Surfer Rosa
(Both songs are embedded. Use the forward and back buttons as needed!)

Included both because they’re tracks 4 and 5 on the album, and pair up perfectly. Start with less than 1:30 of melodic thrash and touches of goofy Frank Black, then you’re rewarded with a big, crunchy, messy, glorious pop song– the song perfectly embodies its title. My suggestion: crank ’em! (From the album Surfer Rosa)

Movie of note: I re-watched Bergman’s Smultronstället (translated very roughly into English as Wild Strawberries) last week. I think I was too young to appreciate it the first time around. I know he’s known as a depressing, pensive director, but this film was very affecting– solemn and reflective, and yet uplifting, even. The story is small in scope, it’s very personal, but nonetheless rich and universal. Give the mundane a rest and take a look, if you have the mind for it. Besides, those rare moments of poetry and transcendence are what make life truly worth living. A very accessible and marvelous film, and it was only an hour and a half long! Honestly, as soon as it was over, I began to strongly considering purchasing it. (For those don’t who know me so well, I don’t take film-purchasing lightly– that’s why my library is so small.)

Here goes my blogging cherry

In words, words, words on Tuesday, 20 May, 2008 at 3:42

First off, a very belated, but sincere thanks to my awesome journalist friend Stephanie who suggested, ages ago, that I start a blog if nothing else to get me in the habit of writing. Belated as in, I was months from leaving Seattle, autumn 2005, and Stephanita was still in school. And here I am now, 2.5 years later. (Sorry, girl, at least I finally started.) Not to sound too touchy-feely, but she qualifies as inspiration for this thing here, most def. I admitted this to her, but I feel bad, because it was great advice, coming from someone who, like myself, is a writer, and I just took my time. Honestly, like I let her down. Or at least disrespected her.

I guess it only makes sense to write during times of flux, as these next few months will prove to be. After all, what can you possibly write about when nothing but work is going on? I won’t go in to the issues now, there’s plenty of time, and I don’t want to give away the farm. And it’s late and I don’t want to stay up forever. Let’s just say it involves where I will be living, here in San Antonio, or back in Seattle, e.g. School, work, how these figure in? This requires its own post, certainly not this maiden post.

My kitty cat finally left. It’s hard to focus when you have a furry belly to rub and neck to scratch, all within arm’s reach. I’m not morbid, but when I’m enjoying something things are going great, my perspective reminds me of the eschatology of it all (to borrow a word from Strangers With Candy, thank you Mr. Colbert)– roughly translated in the show as the study of the end of things– and how one day this little gray soft, striped mass of lovin’, so abundant of energy and life, will someday be an empty husk. I suppose it’s a way of reminding myself that you’d damn well better appreciate everything you have while you have it, and on its/their own terms. But, she’s not even a year old, and it’s so amazing how much life has coursed through her. The good news is she’s got another dozen years of love left in her. I can only hope someone can say the same for me one day, and she’s only a cat! It’s been said she reflects many of my own traits, which is actually quite true, and I hope this is one that holds.

I was going to write what I’m watching or listening to, but I’ll make separate posts for those. Please forgive me as I wrangle with this. The content and design will leave something to be desired until I have a better grasp on how to use this. Or, it may very well end up like my myspace page– scarcely updated, bare-bones design. Not to sound like an old person, but who has the time and/or interest to zealously update and design their pages? Not me, said the little brown man. Think of me less as an old codger, and more of an implicit proponent of substance over style.

Ta!