Sunday, April 26, 2009

Foul Balls Make People Do Some Terrible Things

If you want to see the world at it's worst then watch what happens when a foul ball isn't caught cleanly at a baseball game.

I was at the Angel game a few weeks ago when someone fouled a ball straight back. An unathletic and overweight 12 year old was the closest person to it, but he only managed to get his fingertips on it. He was sitting at the front row of the upper deck and the ball just barely got high enough for him to touch it at all. The kid would have been risking death if he'd done any more, and it would have been the greatest catch by any fan of all time. Getting a hand on the ball was more than could be expected from a professional athlete, let alone this young kid who didn't look like much of an athlete. Yet the crowd booed. It was terrible.

Later some dad dropped his 2 year old daughter when a foul ball was hit 5 rows behind him. I mean, the man was sitting on the aisle and the ball was heading for the stairs so he did have a good shot at catching this ball. And he did end up with it. But it's just all that he did to get it. First he dropped his kid. Then he ran backwards up those steps, but he didn't make a clean catch. So the ball rolls down the steps and he bowled down after it, knocking over anyone who got in his way. Like he seriously knocked this other guy sideways, and this other guy fell into his friends. There's bodies all over the floor here, including -- again let me emphasize the point -- his toddler who may have brain damage now, all in the pursuit of something that can be purchased at a store for $4.

So yes. This is a weird and strange world we live in. But then enters your hero Sir Fantastic.

At the Angel game today I made a clean bare-handed catch of a foul ball. Except, and this part stings, I didn't get the standard round of applause from the crowd for a clean catch. I assume it's because I didn't pump my hands in the air like a jack ass. I simply took my seat with class, and am now writing to brag about it with less class.

Speaking of less class, the Jesus pictures are meant to represent my generosity and clairvoyance. I gave the ball away to some kid, and I dreamt the night before I'd catch a foul ball. Maybe this means my unconscious is in tune with the other dimensions where the relativity of time lives? I think that's how that works. Now I just need to develop and hone this superpower.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Things Get Absurd

So it's happened again. The anger in the political sphere has become so absurd that it's driven me to the blog posting. So Obama bows to a Saudi King and shakes hands with a South American blowhard and America has become a groveling shell of it's former self, eh?

Ah man. Well I don't want to spend too much time writing here. It's just that here we are again with the differing standards political partisans hold their leaders up to depending on whether these leaders in the predetermined friend or foe camp. I mean, you got Bush bowing and holding hands in these pictures. And you got Nixon smiling and shaking hands with a virulent anti-American communist dictator.

Funny how the tribal warfare of our political system retards our political discussions. And by funny I mean tragic since the real question should be about how U.S. presidents of all political stripes must pay a little too much respect to the leader of a repressive political regime because otherwise we might not get that oil priced in dollars or maybe they'll stop buying up so much of our bonds.

Anyways, I guess there's also some philosophical differences in here about what it means to be weak or strong. And some people really think that showing kindness to an enemy like Chavez is a sign of weakness. God knows that when you encounter people who can't be kind to their enemies in the day-to-day world, that you know these people have serious psychological issues. Like when you got that friend who won't be nice to your other friend cause of some perceived slight and it's just so unbelievably annoying because if one of them would just sack it up and be nice everything would just wash under the bridge. But then I forget that this approach of treating those that don't like you with utter disgust was the foreign policy for the last eight years. And I forget that our previous leaders were those really insecure douchebags that never had the self-confidence to be gracious. Anyways, I hope that series of pictures above demonstrate the absurdity of this righteous anger over Obama's perceived weakness. Although I am pretty upset about him genuflecting to the pet of a foreign leader. You'd never see Churchill appease a golden retriever like this. Freaking democrats are such wussies.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Art Criticism, Life, Criticism

I was just watching Synecdoche and I'm feeling inspired. My man Phillip Seymour Hoffman put together the grandest play in human history. He did something brave and daring. And I want to join the party. To create something true. On my blog. Sigh. I know. But what can I do? I don't have another outlet. At least not until I sell my script.

It's called Motel For Dogs. It's about a dog couple who take up residence in a cheap motel after falling on hard times. But since no one is biting on the script, dog or otherwise, I can only assume that the movies people want to see are those that offer an escape from our current economic problems. And this movie does just the opposite, by looking unflinchingly at the depravity and crushing despair a down-on-their-luck dog might sink to. The couple first turns to drugs for comfort but then their habits eventually come to consume them. The climatic scene is when Freckles' (female lead) litter of crack puppies are forced to watch their mother satisfy a corrupt police dog to pay off another of Rusty's (male lead) gambling debts. I'm holding out hope that a courageous studio exec will see this as a modern day Lady and the Tramp. Fingers crossed everyone. These student loans aren't going to pay off themselves.

As you can tell I'm writing this post at 4 in the morning on a Saturday. I should be asleep but I turned down offers to go to drink, laugh and let the cares of the world disappear. Instead I wrote more of the novel I'm never going to finish and watched Synecdoche. And my God what a movie. Charlie Kaufman is a genius. It was better than an orgasm with a woman you love while eating ice cream and watching Synecdoche.

But while I was marveling at how brilliant this confusing movie was, it got me thinking about a spirited and drunken debate me and my buddies got into after we saw No Country For Old Men. One buddy, Zack, said it was the greatest movie yada yada. My other buddy, Mark, believed otherwise and said something like, “Yea? And how about the end? It’s like from Arrested Development when Maeby says 'Just stick on something nonsensical and since no one wants to look stupid people will say it’s brilliant.’”

And Mark kind of had a point then and maybe he's got a point about Synecdoche. Especially in the jumping between characters and time and Jesus I still can't process the different layers of what is real and what is the play parroting reality. Nonetheless. This movie is so good. Maybe it’s just because I see myself as a man obsessed with his own death who is incapable of ever finishing his opus or having a successful relationship with a female. Especially since, like Seymour Hoffman, these women care more about the salad they ordered than the words coming out of my mouth even while I’m saying all these things I think are brilliant. And while I'm yapping they’re wondering how they’re going to get out of this awkward food eating experience and never see me again because, let’s face it, prior experience tells them I'm also fairly disappointing in the sack. Jesus H. Absolutely brilliant. Anyways, if there’s one movie you should have seen last year then it’s this one.

Point number 2. The Office sucks now. There’s no ifs ands or buts about it. I date the show's decline to the middle of the 3rd season. Right after the merger stuff was finished, since that's when the American writers could no longer steal the story lines from Ricky Gervais' tightly wound and perfectly executed 14 episode series. So once the American Office became rudderless the writers started throwing out cheap gags that wouldn't have hooked us on the show if that's how it had started. I mean, the pull of the show was always the awkward-attention-seeking-unloved boss and the tension between a well-matched couple who because of fear didn't express their affection for each other. Those story lines were touching, and they allowed for an unforced comedy, but once the over-the-top absurdity became the central focus, well then the show became average at best. (Really, Dwight burns his feet on hot coals to get a promotion or Michael drives his car into a lake to prove a point?) In other words, I feel like The Office and I got off to a great start but now it's clear that this isn't going anywhere. And I want out. But it's so hard to get out, you know? Those times were great. Some of the best times of my life. So for now I'm still watching but I'm thinking of other TV shows I could be watching instead.

Point number 3. What Happens in Vegas was better than I thought it would be. Now I know that’s going to open me up to some criticism so let me be clear, we’re talking about baselines. I thought it was going to be absolute shiite and it was just plain terrible. But I’m only talking about that movie because of the development of Cameron Diaz’s character who (I would say spoiler alert but I'm pretty sure that anyone who would be upset that the plot to What Happens in Vegas is ruined for them has already been murdered (justly so) by their parents or significant others.) quits her demanding job because it's not making her happy. Is there any more hackneyed device these days? I mean, maybe this criticism is unnecessary since the Depression 2.0 will change my generation's mentality towards work and we won't have to deal with the overuse of this device anymore. But in case that doesn't happen I want to emphasize how common this tired story line has become by listing movies that use it:

Waitress, Waiting, Valkeryie, Dark Knight – ok so I'm having trouble proving my point here. Those first two movies definitely do it. I guess it’s too late for me to think straight but it’s true. Once you start looking for the unhappy protagonist who quits his/her job and this is portrayed as heroic and not short-sighted or childish then you’ll see it all over the place. Maybe I’ll write a comment that proves this point later but for now take my word for it.

Point number 4. So I didn’t read many reviews of Watchmen but what I did read rated the movie negatively. And that I can't tolerate! I mean, I don't know why I went for the exclamation point but it felt more appropriate than a period. Maybe it's because I didn’t read the graphic novels or anything so I came in with zero expectations. Watching the movie was my first exposure to the story line and holy Mother of God. What a story. I mean, it turns an escapist formula like comic books on its head. Moral ambiguities are generally not explored so you'd think you're going to experience the clear demarcation of good and evil with that reliable catharsis of good heroically triumphing. But then that clarity is cleverly muddled and by the end you're no longer sure who your God is. "You want to sit in a theater and forget your troubles? Fuck you. Think of the shitte you'd do if you had unchecked power. Evil lives within us all. Deal with it fatso." God it's so good.

Watching this movie also made it clear why Heroes Season 1 was so good, since it stole the good stuff from the the tightly wound and perfectly executed graphic novel series that I assume Watchmen must have been. I mean, the whole moral ambiguity of superheroes and the Armageddon as a false cleansing of evil, Heroes obviously just ripped those ideas straight off. (I assume. Until I see something that predates Watchmen that Watchmen obviously ripped off.) And once Heroes couldn’t steal any more ideas the show became rudderless and the writers started grasping at straws with lame devices and ratings fell, etc.

I guess the point of this is well done to those of you who steal others great ideas and then get really rich from them. I can't wait to see the pirated version of Synecdoche on television in 20 years. I just hope that Charlie Kaufman gets the same executive producer credit and bundles of dough that Ricky Gervais did, otherwise I'm going to be pretty livid. So in conclusion, I'm reserving judgment on whether our society is headed into moral decay where good artistic ideas are perverted by profit driven men who think only of the material goods and shapely women their thievery will secure. U.S.A.? U.S.A.? U.S.A.?

Sunday, April 5, 2009

The Funion Part II -- The Refunioning

After the poor reception the last Onion post got I wasn’t sure if I’d ever do another Onion themed post again. But then the hand of God interceded. So here we are.

So here are my fake Onion stories with their mini-write ups:

1. Area Woman Crazy- The article examines how this woman does objectively crazy shiite like cry during sappy movie previews. Or upon seeing a friend’s wedding dress. Or while sitting in traffic on a bad day because she’s hungry and there’s nothing to snack on in her car but she purposely deprived herself of car snacks because she’s worried her arms are getting fat. This woman also believes that the time of year in which people are born and the corresponding arrangement of stars billions of light years away influences their suitability as mates. Additionally, she’ll fly into pouty rages when her boyfriend doesn’t pay enough attention to her or sleeps with one of her friends.

2. Man Who Believes in the Apocalypse Terrible at Making Plans- The article is about how the guy won’t ever commit to anything because of the impending end of the world and how this frustrates the people in his life. His friends never know how much food to buy for the bbq, or how many to make the reservation for, etc. His family complains how obviously last minute their Christmas and birthday gifts invariably are, while his girlfriend is convinced that he’ll take their relationship to the next level.

3. Jim Cramer’s Wife Now Thinks of Jon Stewart During Sex – This one is pretty self-explanatory.

4. Law Clerk in SVU Unit Unsure if Coworkers Talking About Case or Their Own Relationships- This is another autobiographical fake Onion headline. It comes from my days in the sexual assault division at the district attorney. I used to get to the office pretty early. So it would be me and just a few staffers for the first hour and a half. While the office was relatively empty, the lady secretaries would feel comfortable talking loudly about their online dating. But this one time it seemed like they were talking about cases from the unit as well as the dating. Like they were going back and forth between potential mates' profiles and open cases? So it wasn’t clear what the hell was going on. Anyways, I want to keep things family friendly but you get the idea of where this article goes.

5. Area Man’s Friends Don’t Read His Blog- The article examines how his friends remember hearing he has a blog. “What’s the address again?” One friend asks on Gchat for the 3rd time, even though that friend will forget the answer within a few seconds. “Yea I’ve been meaning to check it out but I’ve been so busy. Since we’ve had lay-offs my work load has really increased.” Another friend says before refreshing the Drudge Report for the 10th time. “I’ll read a bit of it from time to time, but mostly I just skim it so I’ll have something to say if he asks me about a recent post. He can be pretty sensitive you know, and I don’t want to hurt his feelings.” Says a friend who used to cowrite the blog with him but now spends her days playing online Sudoku and Word Twist.