Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Ohhh yeaahhh!

Weeks ago, I spent gads of money that I really didn't have on a Nintendo Wii. Certainly, as a single man who loves his toys, I do not regret this purchase, but since I had very little money after buying it, purchasing games it play on it was difficult. Once my arms started to cramp up from all the Wii Sports, I decided to figure out how to hook the thing up to he internets, because I had heard you could download "classic" games and play them as new. I used the quotes there because, to me, "classic" refers to things that are really old, like mummies or Clint Eastwood. It shoudn't refer to anything that came about in my lifetime.

My first downloads were slightly underwhelming. Back in the day, I thought Balloon Fight and Super-Contra were the height of entertainment (remember, there was no internet porn!) Now, they were kind of childish. I don't know what i was expecting from twenty-year old video games, but I guess the years had colored my memory. Urged by a friend to download Super Mario Bros. ("You have to get that one! It was THE game!"), I remembered why I actively hated most games as a child. I was a rather impatient little shit, and if I could not succeed at the thing instantly, I was likely to throw some kind of tantrum. I have learned that, while my tantrums are not as pronounced, the attitude is the same twenty years later.

Then I found it. In the list of Wii downloads, one of my all-time favorites: Earthworm Jim. A game I spent hours on. A game I could play. A game I actually enjoyed. And it was just as I remembered, maybe because it was only 14 years ago instead of twenty. And I was in college. And I was more mature, less likely to destroy things if I lost. And I was still good at it. Of course, I don't know how I ever got along in the game without Google, but, still...

** Actually, I think it's a whole other blog post on how the little secrets in all these games got all over the country, even the world, without people being able to just type "Earthworm Jim cheats" into a search engine. I know there were magazines and stuff, but I never had one, and I never knew anyone who did, but someone I knew knew someone and word got around somehow. isn't that kinda cool when you think about it? **

And while Jim has helped me feel better about my Wii purchase, it still leaves me pondering why I had to go out and spend all this money on the latest technology when I primarily use it to play games that are over a decade old. I could have probably went on eBay and bought a Sega for fifty bucks. For that matter, I'm 32, so why do I need to play games in the first place? Shouldn't I be, y'know, doing something with my life?

I've heard people say that, because my generation is the first one in awhile that didn't grow up with a major war or depression to screw up our childhood, that we're the entitled generation, that we feel it's okay to play games and sports and read comics and watch cartoons and do numerous other things that responsible adults need not do anymore. And because modern technology (that our generation has developed probably to fulfill these childish needs) makes it so simple to do, that we are probably more screwed up emotionally than we would be if we had a war.

In Thunder Road (possibly my favorite song), Bruce Springsteen wrote, "So you're scared and you're thinking that maybe we ain't that young anymore," the real joke being that Bruce was only 24 when he wrote that. On Storytellers, he quantified the line by saying, "The Vietnam War has just ended. Nobody was that young anymore." Unfortunately, I'm a generation removed from Springsteen. Fortunately, I am that young anymore. My generation didn't have to grow up, and so we didn't. And I'm wondering if we ever will.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


The Dark Knight Returns

I was watching some of the Dark Knight on DVD tonight, and yesterday while at work (heh), and still marveling at what a great film it was. This, as anyone who knows me can tell you, is a huge thing for me. I don't generally enjoy movies, so to enjoy this one as much as I did is a tribute to how well-made it was.

Unfortunately, this dvd was a tad sparse on extras (I smell an Ultimate Edition, or 2.1 or whatever. Dammit!) However, one of the extras featured a little bit about how they built the batpod. This was one of the coolest things I've ever seen. The batpod (Batman's little motorcycle thing) was real. Not CGI. Not some little toy. It was a real thing that a real guy drove through the real streets while they were filming it from another batpod-like vehicle. A team of experts built a real batpod that could actually come out of the tumbler and drive around.

This is amazing, in this day and age. George Lucas wouldn't have bothered with that, and that's why (one of the reasons, anyway) Dark Knight succeeded where all of those Star Wars prequels failed (and a lot of other films). This kind of attention to detail comes out in the final product. It makes the film seem more real, that it could happen today. Christopher Nolan wanted to have a better suit for Batman because he wanted Batman to be faster and be able to turn his head. So what does he do? He writes in a scene where Bruce Wayne says he needs a new suit because he needs to be more agile and turn his head. Why make up a reason when the real reason works so well?

Finally, I also realized why this movie beats the hell out of most other super-hero-y movies, and it is because that reason I just mentioned: realism. There are no aliens or weird powers, no guy who gains super-powers when he gets close to the yellow sun of the Earth. Maybe I just have trouble suspending my disbelief, but I enjoy that the Dark Knight (and Iron Man, to an extent) was so grounded in reality. Maybe it makes it seem less nerdy. Maybe it just makes for a better story. Whatever it is, I'm obviously not the only one, because Dark Knight and Iron Man are two of the biggest and best comic movies of all time, and just all-around big money-makers. So, the public has spoken, and they are right. For once.

So I guess I'll have to buy that Ultimate Edition when it comes out, huh?

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Christmas in the Sticks

Last Saturday, I attended my first Ed Humphries' Ho-Ho-Ho Throwdown in the quaint little hamlet of Dudley, MA. Now, naturally I was slightly disappointed at the lack of ho's, and slightly freaked out by being in Dudley, which is practically in Connecticut and is also aptly-named. The town is a dud.

However, the party was quite happening. I am always nervous about these affairs because I was certain I would be one of the few singletons there (since I always am), and y'know, it was in Dudley. Most suburban married people have difficulty finding common ground with me, unless we can talk about sports or, well, that's about it. They don't see too many movies that aren't made by Disney, they don't hang out in the same places as I do (mainly bars), they don't really have time to do a whole lot of anything. Ed Humphries appears to be the exception that proves the rule, because this guy knows his movies, his beer and he has a nifty blog, too (Really, click on it). Maybe being in the sub-suburb of Dudley frees up one's time, since there is very little to do other than watch the trees grow.

Ed's Throwdown consisted of a Yankee Swap with a Trivia Twist; each participant, after opening their gift is asked a holiday, pop culture question. if they answer it correctly, they remain in the running for the ultimate swap gift, provided by Ed himself, which must be swapped by the proverbial Last Man Standing after every gift-grabber has answered a question wrong.

And who do you suppsoe this year's Last Man Standing was? Why, interestingly enough, it is the guy who is always the Last Man Standing, the quintessential Last Man Standing in all of life's little endeavors; me.

Yes, even after several beers, I answered all of my questions correctly and was crowned champion. The prize i was awarded was a 3 ft. tall statue puzzle of the leg lamp from Christmas Story. Alas, I had to give it up (This is the house rule to guarantee that at least one gift is swapped), so I traded it to the only girl there who I knew to be single, trying to at least ensure me some kind of conversation piece. However, I don't think that stealing her gift endeared me to her. Oh well, them's the breaks.

Point is, I went to Dudley, the proverbial lion's den, because we all know how much I hate the suburbs, and not only survived, but thrived. Thanks to Ed and the whole gang at the Throwdown for a great time. And I hope I get invited back next year, when I will be sure not to bring a crack pipe as my swap gift. (You had to be there.)

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

More Staggering Genius - Creating Comics

Here we go, part 2 of my adventures in comic-creating.

In May of 2003, my 4+ year-relationship ends and my ex makes it her mission to ruin my life. She nearly succeeds. Though I won't admit it, the lure of writing funny books isn't there. John begins to grow tired and use the skills developed by doing the comic to get actual work in the comic industry, through correspondence with Chi. SM becomes a secondary interest for everyone. As a last ditch effort to see our hard work bear fruit, we call in our friend Jay Penney to redesign our website, with a store and a forum and a WYSIWYG editor so I can write my own posts and take the burden off John's shoulders. For most of 2004, this is what I do. The hits are moderate, the sales minimal. Even Wizard World Philly doesn't generate interest. The whole industry has changed in the couple years since we started this. The web has given license to everyone with the slightest creative bone to make a comic, and the market becomes diluted with poorly-made fluff.

We have some creative conflicts as well. John sees the writing on the wall and just wants to throw every issue on the site and forget trying to print and sell them and just have fun. My ex girlfriend has left me with immense debt, so I would still rather try to make money. Jay feels that we shouldn't go back to fake letters and made-up SM Animated Series Episodes Guides because we'll fool the readers, of which there are few. My hopes continue to wane.

We fall in with Ian Shires, who "runs" a website for indy comics and wants us to be the flagship of his new imprint. Through Ian, we are put in touch with some lawyer, who claims that he has put comics back into Walmart, and he can sell our book by the thousands. It is suggested we reprint issue #1 for a newer, bigger audience. We are convinced that SM will be on the cover of this guy's catalog, due in April, so can we draw him with bunny ears? The more I listen to this guy ramble, I have my doubts and begin to wonder if we would be putting in some money for nothing, which I am tired of doing. Or worse, would we lose the rights to our own character? I ask John and Jay what they think. Ultimately, it is left to me to decide our fate, and I nix the deal. The irony being that the guy who has the least creatively to do with any of it made the final decision. it's just as well, because I'm pretty sure he was a shyster.

The interest wanes more as time goes on. We still decide to print issue #1, since we were on our way to doing it anyway. John removes the bunny ears and uses that catalog picture as the cover. We try a new creative direction with Secret Monkey Vol 2 #1, with less focus on crime-fighting and more just bizarre, Family Guy-style weirdness. It lasts three issues. The deal with Ian fizzles out, and I think he sold maybe $20 worth of comics. Our website,, dies a slow death, and John and Ray (whom we brought in back in '03 to help write some funny stuff) start, an off-shoot for SM and the skads of other strange characters we created over the years. I have one hope left; Wizard World, one of the biggest shows of the year, will be in Boston in September of '05, and I plan on getting our own table.

Sadly, it is one of the smallest Wizard World cons ever, and even though we sell most of our wares over the three days (including giving a bunch away), between paying for the table and all the other expenses, we take another financial hit. Also, it's not very fun because we are way in the back corner and nobody really pays much attention unless you throw the comic at them.

On Sunday afternoon, the last day of the con, John and I have a pseudo-heart-to-heart, and confess that the book hasn't been fun in a few years and we should move on. I apologize for trying to hard to make lemonade out of a lemon. We endeavor to make a fun place, and we do, for awhile. Dursin's Dungeon, my regular rant column, returns. Fake letters and a fake intern get space on the site, as do all the comics we ever did. No store, no printing, no selling.

Eventually, however, life gets in the way. John makes real strides in the industry thanks to his skills developed working on SM and his contacts through Chi, so it did do some good. Jay lets the site expire, having lost some money and precious time developing a site that became a cautionary tale. Benchcomics faded away. Ian is apparently still in business, selling comics and giving indy creators a place to go. John and I are still working on getting our own comic rolling, except it's for a company instead of self-publishing it. So far, we are waiting for the artist to get drawing.

The real irony? Well, printing your own comic these days is cheaper than ever, as is maintaining and paying for a website. For his birthday, I just bought John a five-issue Secret Monkey trade paperback, the only one of its kind, printed at for only $7.00. And you can print them on-demand and sell them through Amazon or Barnes and Noble, with your own ISBN and everything. And webcomics are more popular than ever, so you can even clean up that way. I keep going back to that line by the Joker from The Dark Knight:

We weren't crazy. We're just ahead of the curve.

My Own Heart-Breaking Work of Staggering Genius

The tagline for Blogger says, "Share your life in a blog. It's fast easy and fun!" Or something like that. That's what I will now do, because it's sssoooo much fun.

It is the year 2000. About a year earlier, I had begun what would become my job, a job I still possess. I'm also about two years into a relationship that will be the measuring stick for all others to come after, good or bad. this is mostly due to the timing and duration of the relationship, not really because it was all that amazing. It's the benchmark because I was 23 and it last a long time and I had nothing meaningful to compare it too.

Anyway, with that perspective, the story begins. At some point, my friend John e-mails me and asks if I am interested in starting our own comic. He plans to resurrect two ideas from our youth, one funny and one serious. As it turns out, the funny one is a lot more enjoyable to work on, and we end up moving ahead with that one. It becomes the first online adventures of The Secret Monkey. The Secret Monkey is a monkey from the year 2525 who is trapped in the present day. To pass the time, he fights evil wearing only a paper bag with eye holes as a disguise. And I should add that John comes up with the plots, draws it, colors it, inks it, letters it and posts it on the actual website, while I write cheesy dialogue. But it is fun.

We go to a comic convention in Boston in November of 2001, after completing three issues and number of weird ancillary funny things like Mad Libs and fake fan letters written by us. At the Con, we hand out Bag's o' Fun, which are paper bags with eye holes printed on them that contain stickers, magnets and assorted other SM-related goodies, all of which we printed on our home printers. We handed out about 300 or so, and the hits on the website saw a noticeable bump. A couple weeks later, in December, John calls me to ask if I had seen the new issue of Wizard Magazine, the premiere comic magazine. Secret Monkey is mentioned, and praised. They even got our names right. The hits skyrocket into the thousands, practically overnight. Unfortunately, I can only focus on the fact that we have nothing on the website that we can actually sell to all these people.

We attempt to correct this. We print Secret Monkey #1 through a company in England that also offers to distribute the book. We attempt several times to get into Diamond Comics, basically the only company in the States that distributes comics to comic book stores. They reject us every time. Undaunted, we print issue #2. We are given half of a friend's table at a podunk convention in Attleboro to help us sell the book, and that same friend offers to put it on his shelves and hand out Bag's o' Fun at any show he attends. I also hand-deliver issues to several local stores that agree to sell them on consignment. About 6 years later, SM #1 still sits on the shelf at New England Comics in Allston. All the while, we are writing more and more comics, branching out to create a mini-series for the Heroes United, SM's group of super-secondary characters.

Eventually, we catch on at Benchcomics, a web distribution company that looks rather slick and cool, and promises to one day devise a way to charge people to read their books online. This is good, since we are hundreds of dollars in the red on this thing and I am of the belief that no one wants to buy a comic they can read online for free. Although SM proves to be one of the most-popular comics on Benchcomics, and we are even interviewed by a comics website, we see no actual money from it. It does, however, put John in touch with Chi, creator of another comic on the site, which will come into play later. We do work on a crossover with his book, which becomes the ill-fated Secret Monkey #9.

While my life was starting to crumble (said relationship was dissolving), we are given a glimmer of hope yet again when FM International, the second-largest comic distributor in the U.S. (and I mean distant second) picks us up and orders an astounding 11 copies of SM #1. Thinking we finally made the big-time, I pack up 11 copies and ship them off. As I recall, orders of issue #2 in FM drop to somewhere around 3. And I may be wrong. They they not have bought any. By the way, I'm pretty sure that out of those 11 copies, the distributor takes 60%. In all, we have still not made a cent on Secret Monkey.

End Part 1. Even I know it was getting too long... but has the fun begun yet?

Monday, December 01, 2008

"They" Aren't Always Right - My Take on Dirty Sexy MOney

For some time now, "they" have been coming up to me suggesting television shows that I should be watching. And when I say "I," I mean specifically me, like as if Show X was written just for me. Once in awhile, They are right and I do like the show (Arrested Development, Firefly). Most often, I have a lukewarm reaction (30 Rock), but sometimes, They are way off.

Dirty, Sexy, Money.

I thought the title alone would draw me in, plus I really like Peter Krause as an actor. Sadly, I Netflix'd the first few episodes this weekend, and was quite disappointed. Now, I know that the first few episodes maybe isn't enough to get a real feel for the show, but if they can't draw you in in the fiorst three, how does a show expect to last? Alas, I heard after watching the first two episodes this weekend that the show is being cancelled, so I guess I'm not too far off here.

The problem, as I see it, is that the writers are trying to portray the Darlings as this helpless lot of foosl that need theor lawyer to help them through life, which is a premise for hilarity, right? Sure, until they write plots involving murder and deception and adultery. Where's the hilarity there? Plus, if the Darlings are such idiots, why should I care that Jeremy is sleeping with his sister's arch-nemesis, who is only her nemesis because one of them (I can't remember which, and who cares?) wore bangs before the other one. I don't know any family where that would be an issue, let alone take up two episodes. Hell, I don't think I've ever dated anyone who my family liked.

"But, dude," you may be thinking, "You're being too harsh. In fact, the characters are actually learning and growing thanks to Nick's influence. You're just a crumb-bum." True enough, but here's where the show fails. First off, in order for normal folk to identify with (or even like) obscenely rich people, they need to either be human in some way, or completely over-the-top, like in the aforementioned Arrested Development. Seeing these stupid people complain about their lives just makes me hate them all the more. So, William Baldwin is cheating on his wife with a transvestite, and I'm supposed to feel bad for him because he doesn't want to run for Senator because his daddy is pushing him into it? Boo-friggin'-hoo. And the lying, cheating Reverand with the bastard son is the worst, because he is totally dispicable and hateful, yet I'm somehow suppsoed to care about his dilemma. I kind of wish he would just get what he deserves and die a painful death. And thanks to the miracle of the ratings system (or whatever laws govern TV cancellations), he shall.

The sad thing is that the acting was actually pretty good. Donald Sutherland and Peter Krause both deserve a better fate than this, but I'm sure they'll catch on somewhere else. It's just a bummer really, because there was potential for real laughs here, but they decided to go another way, and thus, the show suffered. G'night, Darlings. We hardly knew ye.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Working From Home

When I talk about my job to people, they always raise their eyebrows when I tell them that I have worked there for nine years now. I don't know if they feel bad for me, for never having the balls to leave such a dead-end job, or are impressed at my ability to stick with something for that and not burn out. Of course, the lack of burn-out may be attributed to the first five years of it being only a nine-month position, so I got another job for those summers. And now that I work summers, it is a much different job anyway. Plus, throw in Christmas and Spring Break and there are enough breaks to help keep things fresh. The job has changed a lot, anyway, so it barely resembles the one I took nine years ago.

But since it would take too long to explain all that to someone I'm just having a casual conversation with, I usually say something like, "I enjoy the people I work with and I don't have to take my work home, so I'm free to do other stuff." This is important, even though most of the "other stuff" consists of drinking and sleeping. Still, not taking my work home is a huge deal for me, separating me from all the faculty that I work with, who constantly complain about the papers they have to grade. Hey, no one made you become a teacher. You have all summer to whine about it on the beach.

However, since I am the only one in my building who does my job, I am often called upon to go above and beyond the call of duty, and often I do, if I feel it is for the greater good or I am getting paid. Occasionally, I do not. Like last Friday.

While on my way to the movies sometime after 6:00 p.m., I received a call from a gentleman who wanted to put me on the phone with the B & G staff to tell them that it was okay to let this gentleman into my sound booth. I haggled with him for a few minutes while I pondered his worthiness. First of all, you should know that I had dealt with his group the night before, when I happened to be working (for money) and told them to contact me during the day on Friday if they wanted to use the room over the weekend. they never did, so phooey on them. I did tell him to put the B & G guy on the line so I could talk with them about it. then I waited a minute or so. Finally, after much silence, I said, "Hello?"

"Oh, you want me to get him now?" the gentleman asked, his worthiness slipping rapidly.

After another couple minutes of listening to him wandering around the building, he said he would call me right back. Since I was going to the movies (in an hour, but still...), I proceeded to shut my phone off and never spoke to the guy again. I did however listen to his 4 voice mails.

Saturday night was much the same, except this time I did not pick up, until about the 7th call from this man, when I screamed into the phone for him to leave me alone, that this was my personal number and I could not help him. I then hung right up (I do miss old phones that you could slam down.) Like some jilted lover, he called one more time, but I did not answer.

That's what happens when you take your work home. I have no idea how he even got my personal cell number, or what made him think that I could/would help him out of pure kindness. This is also the danger of being too kind and too good at what you do, and I suppose notable enough that people know to call you in certain situations. I may have overreacted slightly, but that's how I get when my job comes home. It's the only rule I have. I'll do just about anything while I'm at work, but when I go home, I want to do what I want. When I get calls when I'm not on the job, that's when Hulk get mad.

Let this be a lesson to everyone. You want to work somewhere for a long time, leave it there. It works for me.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

What is the Opposite of a "Tough Act to Follow?"

So, I don't want to toot my own horn too much here (mostly because I completely forgot I said this) but I made this comment 4 years ago on my friend's blog.

So, I am a smart guy.

With this one in the books, I suppose we can all reflect. Obviously, this is good. In fact, I swept the election his time around, so I should be happy. Unfortunately, I'm never happy. I'm always something else. Now, I'm worried. Like I said in my last post, the country's a little screwed up. President-Elect Obama is inheriting a financial, environmental and political mess. I won't go down the list, but it's safe to say that, much like my 8-year old nephews, George Bush and friends have been playing with their toys for 8 years and have now left them lying around for someone else to clean up. I keep saying this to people and all they can say back is, "Yeah." I can't help thinking it's a little deeper than that.

Facts; the U.S. can't simply pull out of Iraq without leaving the place in serious ruin. We have to fix the problem before we just yank everyone out (as much as I wish we could just bring 'em home and forget out it, we can't). The economy is in the worst shape it's been in since, well, God knows. That will take a long time to figure out, and I have no idea how it will be done, but I'm sure my taxes will have something to do with it. Then you've got the gas prices, renewable energy sources. stem cell research, health care, foreign policy (which has been in the dumper the last several years), all those little pecadillos that the President has to handle along with meeting the kid who sold the most Girl Scout cookies. Things that have all gone down the crapper while the Republicans were in office.

On the plus side, Obama only has to be a marginal President to look a billion times better than Bush. The down side is that it will take him at least a term to get the wheels back on, so he better hope that he gets re-elected if he has grand plans for what to, y'know, actually do with this country. The way I see it, he'll be essentially vacuuming up someone else's mess for the next four years.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Yeah, I voted. Relax.

Let me recount a conversation i had with a friend of mine this morning:

Friend: (wags her "I Voted" sticker at me.)
Me: Good.
Friend: Did you vote?
Me: (grumbly) Of course. I just don't think it's that big a deal.
Friend: All right. Get out.
Me: I don't mean it like that. I just mean the last two elections have ruined the whole thing for me. Like, I have this horrible fear that Bush is somehow going to win again.
Friend: He can't.
Me: Yeah? Well, I didn't think he could win the last two times, either. He found a way.
Friend: It's the Dempcratic process. It's exciting.
Me: I guess it would be if your vote counted.

Okay, that was really an amalgamation of several conversations I had with just about everyone I came in contact with. But the point is the same. Everyone is excited to get a new Pres, and to see if pot will be legal apparently. I'm not that excited, for a few reasons. Mainly, like I said, because the last two have taken it out of me, but also because, no matter who wins, they are inheriting a completely fucked-up country that won't be set right for many, many years, no matter what they do.

So, yeah, I voted. And I voted for who I believe is the better man for the job, as I have the last two elections. And look where it got us. Maybe I would care if my guy hadn't won eight years ago and yet didn't actually become President. Maybe if the guy I voted for four years ago wasn't a complete jack-ass, yet slightly less of a jack-ass than the otehr guy, I would be excited. But with all of that history to reflect on, I really have a hard time feeling bright and rosey this time around.

Hopefully, that pot thing will go through. Maybe then everyone will be a little happier.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

This is Halloween

"What are you doing for Halloween?" is a question I get frequently, and the answer is usually brief: "Nothing." I mean, I may act juvenile sometimes, but I'm not a kid anymore.

And I'm not being a curmudgeon here. I love Halloween. But it seems like adults that I know care more about it than the kids did when I was a kid. I remember I was one of the last kids in my neighborhood to give up trick-or-treating, even tacking on a couple years by acting as a chaperon for my friend's younger sister. I really just wanted the candy at that point, but I also enjoyed the idea of trick-or-treating. And it seemed like I was holding onto something that everyone else thought was kids' stuff.

As an adult, I've done the Salem thing, I've dressed up and handed out candy, I've gone to the haunted houses and crazy parties and the whole shmear. It seems like I've had more fun as an adult than I did as a kid. Even not being able to actually eat the candy did not daunt my spirits. I was into it!

This year, and the last couple, I guess, I just haven't had the energy. It's the opposite of when I was a kid. now everyone else is into it and I think it's just kid's stuff. Sure, there's creativity in coming up with a costume, and it's fun to see everyone out and having a good time (and I love the old movies), but really, sometimes it seems like an excuse for some people to dress slutty and act stupid. Not everyone of course, but a lot of people (I guess for a lot of people, Saturday is a good excuse to do that.) Maybe this is another one of those days that is better when you're with someone than when you're single, like New Year's Eve or..., well, okay, that's about the only other day I can think of where it's better.

I guess what I don't understand is what Halloween is all about. Is it a day for little kids to get candy and have a good time picking out a costume, or is it a day for adults to party and drink and have a good time picking out a costume? I guess it can be both, I just don't want to seem like some kind of Grinch when I say I just don't care anymore. I mostly just wish it was a real holiday so we could have a day off.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


This is going to be a bad one. You've been warned.

A few days ago, October 25th, 2008, would have marked my ten year anniversary with my late fiancee'. Hah! No, she's not dead (that I know of, although the girl I knew ten years ago died a slow and painful metaphoric death around 2003). I just thought I'd shock everyone.

Anyway, point is, we would have been together ten years the other day, and I would probably have been married with children, and possibly even divorced with children by now. Or worse, living in a quiet house in the suburbs, commuting an hour or so into work on the train, eating dinner every night with my wife and kids and dogs and cats, getting old and fat and watching prime-time soaps that we TiVo'd from the week before. Sound familiar to anyone? I'm sure it would have turned out something like that, anyway. Whew! I narrowly avoided that fate five years ago, and I feel like I've lived an entire life in those five years. Ah, good times.

That was the life that the Ghost of Christmas Future would have shown me were I Scrooge. It's a life I see many people living every day. I think, if I were Scrooge, and I saw that life, I would not suddenly become a caring, giving person. I would run out and get a vasectomy as my gift to everyone. Peace on Earth, in other words.

Please, don't be offended. Have your kids, and love and cherish them for the rest of your life. But don't yell at me if I look at you with the same pity that most people reserve for me. You may think my life is sad and barren, but I look at your life and think to myself, "My God. If I had to be like that for one day, I might go insane."

Before you think I'm just a bitter asshole, think of it like this; in the 50's and early 60's (or in other words, on Mad Men), women were simply baby factories, put here so men could breed, or have affairs with, and cook and clean and take care of the children. Women working in offices or doing much of anything else were looked at as really strange people, or at the very least hussies, (if they were having sex out of wedlock, that is). That was less than 50 years ago. Is it irrational to think that in another 50 years or so, people's philosophy will change again and we will produce less children? I believe at least the smart ones will continue to put it off, if for no other reason than the simple fact that the planet can't hold all these new people.

See, let me again quote the great Heath Ledger as The Joker: "I'm not really crazy. I'm just ahead of the curve."

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


I haven't written much lately. I've been trying to actually be a nicer, not-as-bitter person. It's difficult in the face of some of the craziness in the world. For instance, I was asked to work last Saturday, and the college where I work is rented out on weekends to what is called the German Saturday School. It is a bizarre bunch of German people (probably all of them in the Boston area) who seemingly get together to sell things to each other and have their kids run freely around the halls. I have never seen any actual learning going on, in fact, which is odd for a school.

This day, I walked past a German woman changing her young child's diaper on the floor in the middle of the hallway. Maybe my San Diego adventure has dulled my senses to such things, because I walked right on by. About fifteen minutes later, I walk down the same hallway to find that said dirty diaper has been deposited in the PAPER RECYCLING BIN!!!

What is wrong with people? I'm sure even someone who can't read the sign can discern between a trash barrel and a paper recycling bin.

This is why I will not have children. I'm sorry to all the parents out there. if you choose to have children, then go for it, but please dispose of your diapers properly and leave me the fuck out of it. Something happens to a lot of normal people the second that kid comes out. A lot of parents suddenly forget how the world works and will do things like change their kid over my food or throw their dirty diapers in recycling bins, and I don't want that to happen to me. I want to retain what little sanity I have, thank you.

This probably sounds like an angry rant, but think about it like this for a moment (I mean, really think). Humans are animals, so therefore it is in our nature to breed. However, as humans, we have brains (well, most of us.) We have the ability to make choices. We don't have to succumb to evolution. We can do whatever we want. So why do we want to make babies? Because we want to populate a planet that already has a few billion too many people on it? Because diaper shit is awesome? Humans have children because we like having sex, but more importantly, because society says we should. Society says we all should go to school, get a job, get married, make babies, lather, rinse, repeat. Am I the only one who has stopped to ask why? The looks I get from people when I say I don't want to have kids is the same sort of look I would get if I told them I liked to kick puppies. Why? It's just a choice I'm making. I don't begrudge your choices.

And no, I'm not waiting for the right girl, and it won't be different when it's my child. Diaper shit is diaper shit, and all kids smell and cry and are stupid and then when they stop being stupid they hate your guts until they're in their mid-twenties or so. Sorry to be the bearer of bad tidings, but, it's true. And before you start thinking, Wow, what a bum, let me just say that yes, I am a bum. The real reason I don't want to have children is because I am selfish (or so you would think). I know that my life, as I know it, will be over, and that is not a sacrifice I am willing to make. And no child deserves a father who doesn't want it. So, there's selfishness for you.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Giving it Up?

So, last week while I was toiling at Harvard University's Sever Hall Media and Technology Services, and one of my duties was to assist a professor with a DVD player for this class. While waiting for this professor to show up, I noticed all the students had Syd Fields' books on screenwriting. I saw this kind of beatnik-looking guy walk in (a little like Peter Tork of the Monkees actually, only scruffier) and figured he was the professor, so i approached him.

*** Note: Since so many adults take night classes at Harvard, it is often difficult to tell the instructors from the students. The fact that this guy was holding the DVD clued me in, but also my personal experiences with writers allowed me deduce that this beatnik-looking guy was in fact the professor.

*** Note #2: I use the blanket term "professor" to describe anyone who teaches a college course, but I realize there are professors and instructors and adjuncts or whatever. Faculty would be a more appropriate term, but who cares? The point is, while this guy does have an MFA, it seems odd to refer to someone like him as "professor."

So, I mentioned to this man (while helping him with his DVD player, I might add) that screenwriting was my field when I was an undergrad. His response?

"And you gave it up, huh?"

Que? Gave it up? Why? Just because I'm doing this monkey job? Fuck you, you lousy beatnik. You're not exactly lighting Hollywood on fire with your one credit on that crappy Luke Perry sitcom from last year (according to, anyway). Besides, he doesn't even know me. How does he know that I'm not some really big indie writer? And where does he get off? He can't even shave.

I swore revenge on this man. I swore I would sabotage his DVD player next time, tear the thing out of the rack and scream, "Hah! Now you have to teach for an hour! How ya like them apples?" But actually, he turned out to be a nice guy, especially since I had a little problem making his Mac show up on the screen and had to get help. He was okay with it and actually thanked me for my effort. Ruined my whole perception of him. Still, he shouldn't have said that to me.

So, I went home and wrote a few scenes, instead.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Workin' for a Livin'

I can barely remember a time when I wasn't quite so busy.

It was maybe six or seven years ago. My job was simpler. I didn't have 2 jobs. I didn't have a mountain of bills to pay. I didn't constantly try to impress women all the time. I had more hair (Okay that has very little to do with being busy). I could be content to watch Seinfeld re-runs until I was blue in the face.

I'm not even sure what I was doing with all my time, but I wasn't this tired. Or bitter.

Just as an example, I'll give you a little job story. I was always under the impression that my job was to serve the faculty and staff of my particular college, not the college itself (as in the building). Somewhere along the line, this changed, and every Tom, Dick and harry who uses the place gets referred to me. For awhile, it was okay because I wasn't so busy all the time and I wanted to be helpful, until I realized that not only am I not being paid (enough) to help these people, but they are getting away with free A/V service that their department or group or whatever should be paying for. Cheap bastids.

This probably applies to everyone's job, but I feel a little bit of forethought goes a long way. A few years ago, a conference room was constructed in my building, and it was decided a conference room should have a conference phone. Seems logical. A phone line was put in and a phone purchased. The first time someone needed to make a conference call, they said, "Matt, can you hook up the phone?" Because I'm the tech guy, it suddenly became my job to know how to work this funky, Star Trek-looking phone. What's next? they call me when the fridge blows out? But I wanted to be helpful, so I figured it out. That was probably the same logic that led the college to purchase a podium for every classroom a few years ago, and call me to install them. "Matt, can you put these in? Is this your job?" Frankly, no. I don't believe that large, wooden blocks have anything to do with me. But I wanted to be helpful. Same thing when they decided that our lobby renovations should include huge display screens, before they asked who would maintain them and actually put stuff up to display. Guess who made the first three presentations? Me, who has never actually made a powerpoint presentation before in his life. I didn't mind doing it, if that were actually my job. I think I just would have liked someone to call me and say, "Hey, we're doing this, and it's going to be your job." That's all. Forethought.

This is becoming a ridiculous rant about my job. I know we all have done things outside our bailiwick, and we all have days where our jobs drive us crazy. For the most part, I like being the person that everyone can depend on, and I don't mind helping out whenever anything in the building needs to be carried, fixed, assembled or basically just dealt with. I guess I'm just saying I hope what they say about karma is true (not that she's a bitch), because I'm wondering how much longer I can really be this helpful.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Kiss of Death

So, a couple weeks ago I got an e-mail from ING Direct about a promotion that said if I invested $50, in a few weeks they woudl give me an additional $25. So, having never invested in any stocks before, I figured, "What the Hell?" I thought it might be fun to dabble a little. What have I got to lose?

No sooner did my $50 go through and the market crashed and my $50 is down to $33.09. Not a huge loss, but still a disappointment. I guess it was good to learn that lesson right away. Before I lost billions!

Truly, I was just trying to have a little fun. Not only did I invest in the companies that Sharebuilder suggested (the fairly safe ones), I also threw a few bucks towards two of my favorites: Marvel Entertainment and WWE. Why not? I've given them enough money over the years, it's about time I got some back. WWE does pay dividends, apparently. Probably not too much when you only own .3 shares, but still...

I don't really know where I'm going with this whole thing, except that I'm trying to actually have a little fun with my money for a change, rather then simply give all of it to Chase. My first consolidation payment went through this week, so here we go. I am on my way to financial sobriety.

Now I just need those dividends to pay out.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Taking Issue with an Issue.

I don't usually get political in this blog (I don't usually get anything.) But I just read that John McCain would not make any changes on the current stance on embryonic stem-cell research.

That article (which, okay, is from Wired or something) states that such a farce would probably not survive in Congress, it still speaks to the ignorance of John McCain, not to mention that he used to be pretty much all for stem cell research, so now he's waffling. Look at it this way, McCain is probably too old to even work a VCR remote, so do we really want this guy as President, making decisions on things like stem-cell research? I actually don't hate the guy (compared to Bush, he would probably be an amazing leader! But then, probably so would I.). I just think John McCain is too old and out of touch to make the right decisions. And Sarah Palin? Well, I honestly think her heart is in the right place, but that soccer-Mom, minivan, apple-pie crap doesn't fly with me in the real world, so I really don't want it in my politics.

The rub? It will fly with a whole lot of people. I'm betting the majority, in fact. I'm sorry t be a downer here for all those begging for a changes in the White House, but I just don't see it happening. I like Obama, I will vote for him, and I think if he can keep his foot out of his mouth, he would be a good President. But the Democrats have done it to me before, and I honestly don't see them pulling this one out, either. They just don't have the balls.

So, if I'm right (and believe me, I hope I'm wrong), we will have to deal with four years of a President who is a war-monger, and who probably doesn't understand the importance of things like doing medical research on aborted fetusus which were going to be disposed of anyway to save countless lives. That whole abortion thing is still too close to the bone I guess. Why bother curing all those diseases that kill millions every year?

Rub #2: The campaign is heating up, and any decision one way or another could cost each candidate some votes, so now we get to see everyone involved take the high road. Suddenly, McCain isn't so into stem cell research. It's more a comment on the horrible voting system in this country than anything else. It doesn't matter where they stand on the issues, because once they get in, they can do whatever the Hell they want. It's like pillow talk for Presidential candidates. I'm willing to bet that neither John McCain nor Sarah Palin, nor George Bush, nor Dick Cheney, really know what's going on with stem-cell research, but they will say whatever it takes to get elected.

And so it begins.

Monday, August 25, 2008

What if This is as Good as it Gets?

Friday night I made out with a she-male. A big, hulking, old, leather-y, busted man-woman.

Ya like that? usually I tell the story from beginning to end, and build up to the big finale. I think this time I just wanted to grab the reader. Much like I was grabbed and molested on Friday night.

I had dinner with my friend Brom, and after dinner, he called our mutual friend, Lara, and arranged to hang with her. She was apparently bringing her friend Denise. Because I'm such a suave and caring person, I quoted Tom Cruise from Magnolia: "Denise. Denise the Piece." Well, Denise, or perhaps more appropriately Dennis, was not a piece of anything, except manliness. She talked liked Patty and Selma from the Simpsons if they were from Southie, and towered over me. She had no breasts to speak of, and was apparently 45 years-old, but I would have guessed 55. Needless to say, I was instantly repulsed by Dennis.

Well, we ended up at Tommy Doyle's, and all four of us sat at the bar, which confused me because there were tables. So, four across the bar and I somehow was situated next to this thing. And we're having a few drinks and I'm talking and figuring that any minute now we would be moving to a table. Well, that never happened, and I was hearing all kinds of ridiculous stories about this woman's time in Hollywood (she was an aspiring MODEL!), and how Jackie Mason was hitting on her. So, I decided to drink some more, to get through it, her with her Coors Light and me with my Harpoon. I even ordered a shot, which I never do. I think shots are usually pretty lame actually, and this one was no exception. Jaeger and Peach Schnapps or something. Whatever. It tasted like grape juice, and it certainly did not improve my situation. In fact, I think Dennis was getting more drunk and frisky by the minute, even telling me at one point, "Order me anotha be-ah!" Que? Order your own fucking beer.

Finally, she asked for the bill, and since it was under her card, I actually tried to screw her on the bill a little ("Here's $14. That cover me?"), which was ungentlemanly, I know, but I thought maybe it would sufficiently turn her off. I ended up throwing her a twenty and we left. Outside, she grabbed me and said, "Is that a Hahhhvid frat house over there? Let's go see if they'll give us some of their be-ahs."

"Well, it's empty," I responded. It's summer."

"Let's go check!"

Bad. Very bad. She dragged me over to the dark corner of the street, and laid one on me. With tongue. Mind you, I have had a few drinks, but not so many that I am not conscious of what was happening. Clear thoughts raced through my head, like, "What am I doing? This isn't good." Yet I did not push her away. Somehow, I guess I would have thought that rude.

Thankfully, it was brief, and we rejoined our friends, but not before she gave me her "cahhd," and asked me to give her call sometime. Which I will never do. She also told me that I am "a good kissah." I wanted to say, "Compared to what?"

This was a low point. Probably worse than the Audra Blue Ball Incident. I have a list of people I've made out with, and up to this point, it was all good. This taints the whole thing. And yet, I couldn't help but think, after it was over and I had rinsed with powerful mouthwash for three hours, that maybe this is all I'm capable of. Maybe I can't do any better than Denise the Piece. Like Jack Nicholson, I was left to wonder, "What if this is as good as it gets?"

I refuse to believe that, deep down. I've had better women, more fun, and I do truly feel that better days are ahead. However, until that someone better comes along to make out with, I will still have that lingering thought in the back of my head: What if this is as good as it gets?

Friday, August 22, 2008

Some Random Thoughts of the Day.

* First off, I'm back to a Bostonsportz gig. Although no Heroes to rant about, I rambled incoherently about Misty May and Kerri Walsh winning their second straight Gold medal here. Those chicks were sumpthin' else.

* I like to check out where the random people who find this blog are from, and feedburner is nice enough to provide this information. Upon checking it today, I saw one reader was from a sleepy little town called Freehold, NJ, which just happens to be the hometown of one Bruce Springsteen. Maybe it was him. You don't think...? Maybe he wanted to read my take on the show in Foxboro. Or he just wanted to know what was up with those empty eBay auctions.

This is really random, but a few years ago, I sold a book or something on to a guy from Freehold, and I had to ask about Springsteen. I sent him a brief e-mail, apologizing for my silliness, and asking if Bruce still comes around (or even if he knew him. It's a small town.) Apparently, Bruce still keeps a house there, but only comes around to visit old friends once in awhile. He moved to L.A. pretty young, but he's still identified as a Jersey guy. I guess they need something to cheer for besides Bon Jovi and Eli Manning.

* In perhaps the most random discovery of the day, Star Wars LEGOs are apparently worth some money, probably due to the video game, but I'll take it. Years ago, when my office was gray and dismal, I decided to buy things to spruce it up a little. Being me, I bought toys, mostly Star Wars LEGO sets, because not only were they neat and different to have around the office, I could pass some downtime at work by putting them together. Believe me, there was nothing better I could be doing. Those were the days when my job was a lot less stressful.

Anyway, my office was eventually remodeled, and so I put the LEGOs in storage for awhile, not needing so much decoration, and wanting to look slightly professional. I recently unearthed them while cleaning some stuff, and reassembled some of them. A few still adorn the office, but again, being me, I did a quick ebay search for Star Wars LEGOs. Zounds! Some of these things are selling! Apparently, some of the tiny little figures are hard-to-find, and some of the sets have been discontinued, so they are rare and that means money in my pocket. I mean, sure it's sad, but so is poverty. I'll say this; you'll have to pull my Jedi Starfighter out of my cold dead hand.

I guess that be all. I'm going out for the first time in awhile tonight, so I must prepare (which basically means having money and eating enough so i have food in my stomach and don't get too pasted.)

Carry on.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

It Ain't Me, Babe

My friend Brom and I were talking the other night, and he brought up the fact that of all the people we knew and hung out with in high school, only one has managed to procreate (that we know of. There is always the chance of a few bastards.) That got me thinking about all of my current friends, as well, and how very few of them have children. There's my friend Jay (who is the one that Brom and I were talking about) and my brother, and... I can't really think of any others (apologies to anyone who considers myself a friend who may have children. I just went through my cellphone and didn't find you, so...).

I'll ask the same question I asked Brom: Are we weird? Immature? Smart?

Obviously, I have made my distaste for children into a lecture on many occasions for anyone who would listen, but surely that's not the reason. I don't think I'm that persuasive. I don't think it's because I have a lot of lesbian friends, either, because they could have kids if they wanted. Anyone can have them these days: artificial insemination, surrogates, adoption,.. Hell it seems hard not to have them these days. Anyone who has heterosexual sex at the proper time of the month could end up with one. No intelligence or sobriety test required.

I think age plays a factor. Years ago, an unmarried woman of 30 was definitely looked down on as an old maid. But 40 is the new 30, I guess, and more and more people are putting it off to have a career. It all makes sense, of course, but I wonder if we're getting a little close to that movie Idiocracy, where Luke Wilson was cryogenically frozen and woke up a hundred years later to discover that the only people who had children while he was asleep were morons, and that eventually leads to inbreeding and eventually the only people left were the morons. It was scary, and vaguely plausible, I thought.

They say that woman are more apt to have children with birth defects if they have children after 35 or so (or something like that.) So my friends are probably hearing the clock ticking. or maybe not. I think a good deal of it has to do with the fact that everyone else is having kids, so you want to do it, too. So, maybe the reason that my friends don't have any kids is because they don't have any kids, so there's no pressure. It's entirely possible that nobody wants kids (and I was right all along), but sometimes it's just a biological thing, right? All species do it, right? Time comes, a suitable mate is there, and WHAMMO! It's just science.

I don't even know where I'm going with this one, but I just wanted to point out that I'm not the only one. I'm just the most vocal. Or maybe it is me and I've just surrounded myself with people who don't want to have children. And I'm certainly not complaining about it, because I'm not a big fan of Christenings and stuff. Just sayin' is all.

Or maybe I am just that persuasive.

Friday, August 08, 2008


Like that cool Aimee Mann song from Magnolia, I have momentum. I'll even post some of the lyrics if you've never heard it:

Oh, for the sake of momentum
Even though I agree with that stuff about seizing the day
But I hate to think of effort expended
All those minutes and days and hours
I have frittered away.

(Side note: It's funny how you're listening to a song you enjoy, and you think the person is singing one thing, and then you actually read the lyrics, and then you go, "Oooohhhhh. well, that's even cooler.")

The momentum I'm referring to is that I have taken steps to (hopefully) better my future self. I have entered into a debt consolidation program, something I was always ridiculously opposed to, figuring I can handle this crap myself. Well, I can't. So, for the next few years, I'll be paying a few hundred dollars a month to get rid of this credit card debt, instead of several hundreds of dollars a month and not see the debt go anywhere. Also, I signed up for a class for the Fall semester: Ancient Greek and Roman Literature, which I am told does not require the student to know Greek (Longtime readers may remember that last Spring I signed up for a Greek Mythology class that was actually in Greek. Like everything Greek. This time I made sure.) Once I complete this, I'll be more than halfway to my Masters degree. This is, of course, coming on the heels of the conversation I had with a friend who said that he makes twice as money as his wife, even though she has her Masters and he has no degrees at all. Makes me sort of wonder why the Hell I'm doing this, but hey, it's free.

I also sold about 150 old comics to a small Asian man yesterday. I felt a little bad because I was pretty sure they were worthless, but he seemed pleased to get so many books for a mere $25. The hook is I fibbed a little and pretended not to know anything about comics when I posted the ad on craigslist, hoping I would lure in someone looking for a diamond in the rough. Looking at it this way, he offered me twenty-five dollars sight unseen. Plus, if he was looking for a hidden treasure for a cheap price, then technically, he was trying to screw me out of it, too. So, I think all's fair, y'know.

Now, I think the momentum ends here. I'm off to the Cape for a week, doubtless unable to post on here. Will you miss me?

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Money Matters (It Really Does)

So, I have recently come to the conclusion that just about everyone I know has more money than I do. And I don't mean a few more bucks in their wallet, necessarily (although right now I have $1 in my wallet). I mean they are worth a lot more than me. This was not the case a few years ago. Somehow, I was left behind... again. Interestingly enough, this directly relates to the other aspect of life where I was left behind: coupling.

Being the virtual Last Man Standing has its drawbacks, and I am now discovering one of them. I'm poor. Now, one of the reasons I'm poor is the copious amounts of beer and pizza that I consume, the large DVD collection, and ridiculous other things I spend money on. However, everyone else I know spends money on these things too, and doesn't have the money woes that I do. It really does go back to Keri and our break-up. not only did she charge a lot of crap to my card in the months leading up to the split, but after I was forced to move out of our apartment for my own sanity, I had to charge things just to survive, like food and car payments (I was still only a nine-month employee here back then and making very little money, to say nothing of the whole first/last thing on my new place.) So, interest rates being what they are, I'm still paying for all that, five years hence. It's like paying for the sins of the father.

So, if that wasn't bad enough, I am now one of the few people I know who does not live in some sort of double-income situation. Granted, many of my married and coupled friends have separate bank accounts and all that, but let's face it, they buy each other shit. Plus, they probably split the rent, the electricity, the cable and whatever else. "hey, man," you may be thinking, "Why don't you just find a roommate?" Well, I did, and it was great, but it can't go on forever, and incidentally, the main reason my roommate and I parted ways? Money! She moved out to save money, which was very smart of her. I'm just too damn stubborn.

Finally, let's throw in one more small factor. Very few people I know live in the city, where things cost more. Much more. "So, dude, quit complaining and move to the 'burbs," is what you're saying, right? Good idea, except I'm stubborn, remember? And I'm not really complaining. just reporting the facts. Plus, I'd have to buy a car and pay to gas it up, and I have no desire to do that these days. So, not only do they split the bills, they have smaller bills. if I lived out in the boonies, I'd probably be a millionaire and be able to score with easier women. Well, nice as that sounds, I love the city, I work in the city and am staying in the city.

I think what I can conclude from most of this is that one of the main reasons people couple together is that it's just too damn hard to go it alone. And to that much I will attest.

But I will try.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Let it Rain

Saturday night, I saw Bruce Springsteen and the Heart-stopping, Booty-shaking, Viagra-taking, Pants-dropping, etc., Legendary E Street Band at Gillette Stadium. I had asked my brother to go as a birthday present to him and because I wasn't sure who else I could go with who would appreciate the band's talents. See, he saw Bruce at the same venue (well, in its former life) twenty years ago, in 1988, on what I believe was the Tunnel of Love Tour (TOL was released in 1987. Not necessarily a high point in The Boss' career, but coming off of the success of Born in the U.S.A., there's only one place to go.) Anyway, so he told me it was an interesting way to circle around again, 20 years later. Plus, I don't think he gets out much anymore, so it was definitely a good thing. The one drawback for him: he does not own Magic, and only heard Radio Nowhere the night before the show. Some fan. Hopefully he'll go buy it now and even use my link so we can all be happy.

Nevertheless, I was slightly nervous we wouldn't see a show at all. Lightning and torrential downpours delayed the start by a little over an hour. However, it did not dampen the spirits of the crowd (even Bruce mentioned that "a little rain agrees with us.") This was a really "up" crowd, perhaps the most I've seen since Fenway 5 years ago, and I've seen Bruce 4 times in those last five years. Yeah, I'm a little nuts.

I don't want to just do a review of the show itself, but there were personal certainly high points. I've read online that Bruce fans across the country, with the exception of maybe Jersey, are slightly jealous of us Bostonians (or Foxboro-ans) because a lot of his shows are viewed as warm-ups for us. This is because when he was a nobody in the 70's, he played to appreciative and loyal fans on the local club scene, possibly because we were the only ones who would have him. While I've never seen a show in a different city (and I don't know if I could tell the difference), but the energy at Bruce shows is way beyond any concert I've ever seen. He certainly seems to be enjoying himself out there, and after over 30 years, it may be difficult not to phone it in some nights. I definitely have days where I don't feel like working.

How do they do it? Especially tour after tour, night after night? Some of these songs have literally been played on every E Street tour for the last 30 years (If you went to a show and didn't hear "Born to Run," wouldn't you feel a little funny?) The key may be a little variety in the middle. Springsteen amuses himself between E Street albums with his solo stuff (Devils & Dust and the Seeger Sessions tour over the last few years), throwing commercial success out the window and satisfying his creative hunger a bit. And on this tour, instead of showing their age (as was the case when I saw Duran Duran earlier this summer) the band is taking advantage of their experience by taking requests; fans in the pit area are encouraged to bring signs asking for their long-lost faves. Saturday night, I think he played five requests, including "Little Latin Lupe Lu, " originally by the Righteous Brothers and covered by many, including Bruce ages ago. Weird one, but at least it wasn't, "PLAY AIN'T GOT YOU!"

In all, the requests were kind of a mixed bag; I could probably go the rest of my life without hearing "Hungry Heart" ever again, and "Does This Bus Stop at 82nd St?" is a little too far back for my tastes, but for the encore, Bruce grabbed a few more signs, saying, "We have here the rarely played and even more rarely requested..." and he turned the sign around to reveal "I'm Goin' Down." This song is one of my guilty pleasures. While I see the hokey factor, if you look closer, you can understand that it is about a poor young dude who is in a failing relationship that he can do nothing to save. The girl is just bored with him. It's hopeless. He's goin' down. The funny thing was that Mark and I had a discussion earlier in the day about what a silly song it is, and I tried to explain the sadness of it, and after hearing it live, he was forced to re-think his stance. the requests ended with a birthday present for someone: "Jungleland," which was just awesome.

Not to get too gushy, but here's the clincher. After going way passed curfew for Foxboro, Bruce played the Seeger Sessions' "American Land." After reviewing setlists for months, it seemed to be his closer, except in Jersey, but that's expected. The band all came together and took a bow, and the roar was amazing. Bruce encouraged us to get even louder, and louder, and loude, and we did. He yelled, "Boston, Rhode Island, Connecticut, wherever the fuck we are!" And then he played "one more fairy tale from Jersey:" Rosalita. Yet another song I had assured Mark he would not play, having already played "Mary's Place," the nouveau "Rosalita." The boy was psyched.

I know performers have to make it seem like every city is their favorite and that the fans are special everywhere, but I believe in my heart of hearts that "Rosalita" was not on the original setlist. It was a small reward for sitting on wet seats in wet clothes for over an hour to see him and still being incredibly loud and appreciative for the almost three hour set. And what a reward it was. As Bruce might say, "A Beautiful Reward." People need a Reason to Believe, and I will always believe that he did it just for us, and in this, I cannot be jaded.

How many Bruce songs can I quote in one paragraph?

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Deconstructing Juno (well, one character)

I was honestly a little hesitant to watch movies again after Dark Knight because there wasn't much out there that could hold a candle to it. I felt more like that after seeing Hellboy II, because that was totally horrible. So I saw Dark Knight again the next day (and it was even better.) This was while I was in San Diego, so it was mostly to kill time, but I really did enjoy DK more the second time.

So, it was with a little reluctance that I watched Juno (I know what you're thinking: Fag!). It had been sitting on my table for several days in its little, red Netflix envelope. I was almost thinking about sending it back unopened and just ordering some old wrestling DVD instead. At least then I wouldn't be setting myself up for disappointment. It's weird, because for a little while I thought that Dark Knight has restored my faith in movies, that it was still possible to make great films that live up to my (admittedly high) expectations. Then the glass became half-empty, and I realized that DK would be a tough act to follow. I comforted myself with the fact that it is at least a completely different kind of movie, so maybe I can enjoy it.

So, Juno... I did enjoy it, on some levels. It had a few kinks; the writing smacked of some young, hip screenwriter who wanted to use big words to impress everyone into thinking that these were smart, witty characters. Please, that trick is as old as I am. It does make for good dialogue, and actors love to chew on that shit, but really, is that how people talk? "What's wrong honey? You look morose." No one's ever said anything like that to me, and I probably look morose a lot.

It seems like the witty banter was just a smokescreen to cover up the fact that the plot was basically every Lifetime movie with a better soundtrack. Oooohh, teen pregnancy... well, there's a wrinkle. BUT, Joe Movie-goer doesn't have as discerning an eye as I do, and wants to believe in things, so that fact is glossed over. But I'm not Joe Movie-goer.

Before you think me a monster for ragging on this heart-warming, coming-of-age tale (To quote The Joker, "I'm not really a monster. I'm just ahead of the curve."), I did identify strongly with one character in the film more than the others ('cause, lets face it, isn't Juno MacGuff a bit of a shit?), and I'm sure close friends know who it is. Gumbo! It's Jason Bateman. The poor guy who married the wrong woman, a woman who pushed him around and made him give up on his dreams and live a nice, quiet, boring life in the suburbs, a woman who made him stack his guitars, his comics, his life in the basement because they didn't fit her ideal of what life should be. his character was the most brilliantly written and acted of all of them because it was very subtly done from the first time you met him. He comes down the stairs, obviously uncomfortable in his faggoty, blue sweater, and yes, my first reaction was "What a geek!" Which was exactly what the audience was supposed to think. It's only as the film goes on that we see that he wasn't always like this. He had a band and a prom date and he loves gory horror movies, but at some point he got married to a hot chick and Whoosh! Buh-bye. My favorite line may have been when he said something like, "Vanessa lets me keep a room for my stuff," and Juno sarcastically says, "You're on a long leash, dude." When Jennifer garner comes to yell at him for playing his guitar, I felt ssssooooo bad for that guy because I've seen it with enough of my friends to know a terrible truth: that scene was as real as it gets for them.

Take heed, ye men, of Mark Loring. He may be the villain of this movie, because it was from Juno's perspective, but it could just as easily have gone the other way. Like One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, where if you flip-flop it and look at it from Nurse Ratchet's perspective, this crazy dude just comes in and fucks up her whole life. I think a really seasoned screenwriter could have taken Juno and called it Mark Loring, made you care about him, have the same result, and we'd still have an Oscar contender (but okay, Ellen Page is cuter than Jason Bateman, so they chose the easy road. Who can't sympathize with a pregnant teenager?)

In many "guy" circles, it's a big joke. The leash, who wears the pants in the family, cracking the whip, what have you. We laugh so that we do not cry, my friends. But there's nothing funny about it (Take it from me. I'm The Joker.) Look at it this way: at least Mark Loring had the balls to leave.

Monday, July 28, 2008

San Diego Comic-Con V 2.0 - Party Time!

Yes, before you even start to ask, I went to Comic-Con again this year, even though I had a horrid time last year. And yes, I do spend a great deal of time making fun of the kind of people who go to Comic-Con, and yes, I did just spend four days with them. Four days with arrested adolescents invading my personal space for 100 yards in every direction. Honestly, it wasn't that bad.

One of the major differences was that my friend John (who is a comic professional, which is the real reason we went) knows a few people in the biz, so we actually went to a pseudo-after-party the first night (probably the same one we were supposed to go to last year, but missed out on because I can't remember the difference between Hilton and Hyatt.) and met some nice folk, who invited us to a party the following night. So, that's what it's really all about. Not rubbing elbows with people dressed as super-heroes. Drinking with people who make the things that the other people dress up as. No wonder I had a crappy time last year.

Not only did we actually party this time, but we also had a better hotel, and had more time to see some of San Diego besides a one-mile radius of the Convention Center. We even hung out with my cousin on Sunday, who I haven't seen since we were eleven, I think. And we had some time on Sunday before we had to go to the airport, so we saw The Dark Knight, and I liked it even better the second time. The whole thing was just more relaxed this time.

But it wouldn't be a trip without a story, so here goes; John and I were at lunch one day at an rather cramped Irish pub. Two couples are seated next to us, both with small children, and since I am in the booth-half of our table, I get to share the bench with the baby bags and stuff. Before you think I'm being harsh, these people weren't dressed up or anything, but I did christen them the Flinstones. Anyway, I'm about half-way into my chicken sandwich and I think I hear them saying something about the baby needing to be changed. John mouths to me "Are they changing a diaper?" I turn to see the mother laying a clean diaper out on the bench, not 2 feet away from me and my plate of food. I try to block this out when suddenly they discuss how they are going to change this baby's diaper: the plan is for the father to hold up said baby pretty much directly above our table, and the mother will yank the diaper off from the bottom. This I must protest.

"Look, I'm sorry. There are restrooms."

"Uh, well..."

"Really, I don't mean to be a jerk, but we're trying to eat here. I mean, come on."

The father angrily grabs the diaper and teh kid (all the while spitting the word "Fine!" as if I asked him for someting outrageous) and goes to the restroom to change him. I thank him for this, although I don't really know why. What the hell was he thinking in the first place? The other father, who had an older child, one who might actually enjoy some of the events at Comic-Con, whereas this infant has no idea what's going on, says to me that it is sometimes really hard to change a diaper in a restroom. I wanted to say that it's really hard to eat lunch with diaper shit in my food, but I just sort of shrug. I should have said, "Not my problem. Go to Chuck E. Cheese next time."

Honestly, lunch is ruined anyway, so I might as well have just let them do it because the very thought of someone changing a diaper in a crowded restaurant right above my plate took away my appetite. I actually could not believe the number of strollers at the convention. Why would someone torture themselves like this? It's like pushing one through South Station at rush hour after a train has been disabled, backing every other train up. And rush hour would last all day. Like I said, the child has no idea what's happening, and I can't imagine the parents are enjoying themselves because they have to care for the infant. So what is the point? John and I eventually came up with a joke that these people must have met a year ago at Comic-Con, fornicated, and now they all have three-month old children.

I hate to be the wet blanket, but if your child is incapable of walking the aisles at Comic-Con, it's maybe best you hold off on it for a few years. Or leave it with your in-laws or whatever. Just because you had sex at the appropriate time of the month doesn't give you the right to change your baby wherever the Hell you want. How would you like it if I crapped on your table? The truth is I'd be thrown out and probably fined or whatever, but the Waltons get to do whatever they want because they have a child.

Still, all in all, it was a good time. Don't let the bastards get you down, right?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

900 and Counting

The other day I reached a feedback rating of 900 on eBay. I believe the one that got me over the top was a toner cartridge from a copier we no longer had at work which I, of course, was given permission to sell. I was going to get into a whole big ebay retrospective about what I've sold and whatever, but what I'm really thinking about is where all that money went.

It's a pretty big number for a just a schmoe selling his old crap (and his friend's old crap, and his job's old crap). Well, that was the case with most of it, anyway. A few were purchases, and some of them were things that I flipped, or bought new just to sell, which has rarely actually worked. The best case I can think of that working was a rare Daredevil Action Figure with his yellow costume. I bought it at K-Mart for $6.00, listed it the same day and it sold for $60.00 to some guy in India. Of course, I was still a rookie at the time, so I shipped it as cheaply as possible, and I think it took months to get there. However, I was bitten by the bug. Maybe there was something to this flipping thing.

There usually isn't. I know there are people who say they buy crap in bulk and sell them for profit and whatever, but I have yet to find a cheap way to do it (For one, I have very little to spend on an initial investment). It's like selling stock at auction. You want to buy low and sell high, but there is no guarantee that you will make money on certain items. Unless you shill bid. In my experience, the times I've made real money are on things that I didn't expect to make real money on. I sold an old camera lens a few weeks ago for over $100. I started the bidding at $9.99, figuring maybe one person in the world may be looking for it. Even in the last few hours, it was only at twenty bucks. It went crazy in the last few minutes. I had no idea anybody would have been interested in it. To me, it was garbage. If it weren't for the fact that I'm so broke and have now been trained that there's a market for almost anything, I would have just tossed it.

I know one of my major problems is that I never go all the way even when I do have something that may make me money. In the past, I've put a ridiculously low Buy It Now price on something, figuring that maybe I can get some impulse buyer, and it sells in minutes and I think, "Damn, I wonder what I would have got if I let it play out?" Most of my transformers fall into that category. Now go onto ebay and search for old Transformers toys and see how much I could have gotten. I could have probably gotten more for a toy robot that turns into a car than I did for my real car.

I've also under-charged for International shipping a few times, but that probably gets made up for the fact that I've over-charged some people as well. I write that off as a cost of doing business, and when you throw in the fact that I have never paid for a box or padded envelope since there are always plenty of used ones around the office, I think that evens out in the end.

And that's the rub. I think mostly the over-900 ebay transactions I've had in the last seven or eight years have pretty much equaled out to breaking even. I mean, I guess you could say, "Where would you be without that money?" or whatever, but in the end, I've never made enough money to make it seem like it was making a difference one way or the other. At this point, it's pretty much the thrill of the hunt. So maybe I'll climb up to 1000 and see where I stand. And on that day I'll probably find another rare action figure and keep going.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Finally! -- The Dark Knight Strikes Me

We all know I hate movies. I hated the beloved Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. I hated The Great Debators. I hated Gone, Baby, Gone. I hated Freakin' Forrest Gump. All cinematic pap. So, I hear about this new Batman movie coming out, and I think, "Great!" then I hear about it, and hear about it, and hear about, and then people start talking about poor Heath Ledger, and that adds another element, and I start to worry. There's no way this movie can live up to all this. In my mind, no movie can. but maybe, maybe Christopher Nolan can deliver.

He did. It is the best movie I have seen in a long time. I liked Iron Man and Incredible Hulk, but The Dark Knight blows them both away. It blows away almost every comic book movie, except Batman Begins and X-men 2. And we'll see how it settles (A good movie is like a good meal), but it will probably end up as one of my favorite movies EVER, comic book or otherwise. And remember whose blog you're reading.

So, why was it so good? (Here's where I talk about the movie. Don't read if you're one of those people.) Well, first off, it was totally believable and intense from beginning to end. I actually didn't know if The Joker was going to get away with it, and there was a part of me that was hoping he would get away with it, because he was such a great character (kind of like you root for the outlaws in cowboy movies, and gangsters in gangster movies.) I am never fooled in movies, unless they are done really well. I knew Spider-man would always come out on top in his movies. I never doubted for a second that Iron Man would beat the baddie, I just enjoyed watching him do it because Robert Downey, Jr. was pretty funny. There were parts of X-men 2 that got me, like when Magneto reversed the mutant-killing guy to make him target humans was cool. That was big. And this one did it, too. The Joker always seemed to be one step ahead of everybody, and I thought it was fantastic. I actually wanted him to blow everybody away. I actually was hoping that the last we would see of him was him sauntering off in his little nurse's skirt after he blew up the hospital. I know that it would not have been the best send-off for Heath Ledger, but what a finale for The Joker.

So, anyway, every review and podcast will say the same thing as I could say here. the acting, the action, the blah, blah, blah. That's all true. But I expect that out of all my movies. All movies should have great effects and great acting (This isn't live television here. These guys have months to make a movie perfect.) So, what it boils down to, for me, to make a great movie is the writing and the subtle nuances within the characters. For instance, Christian Bale goes to Morgan Freeman and says, "I need a new suit." Morgan immediately remarks that a three-button is a little 90's. Obviously, Bale is talking about a bat-suit, but I thought that line was hilarious (even though no one else in the theater I was in laughed), and it was a very subtle moment that showed you what Lucious Fox was all about and how he works with Bruce Wayne.

I could go on and on about the subtleties of Heath Ledger as The Joker (The two different origins for the scars on his face, the creepy tongue thing he did) but you've read it all before. Let me just say that this will go down as one of the all-time movie bad guys, and deservedly so. Even better than jack Nicholson in the Tim Burton version (Basically a fat old man in a clown suit). And we all know that a hero is only as good as the villain he faces, so there you go.

Just so you know I'm not being all fanboy-gushy about this, I did have a couple small problems with Two-Face. For one, they really beat us over the head with this White Knight of Gotham business. We get it. He's a good guy, and we know he's going to be a bad guy at some point. And my other problem with him was the coin-flipping. I realize that it's a big part of his character, but we only see him as Two-Face for the last half-hour or so, and I think he does the coin-flip about 853 times. Once or twice is probably enough to realize that's his schtick.

Nevertheless, I won't let that take away from my good time. I didn't even let getting caught in the rain on the way home ruin the movie for me. See, every once in a great while, a movie comes along that restores my faith in humanity and makes me realize somebody out there gets it. Natural Born Killers, American Beauty, Saving Private Ryan and now The Dark Knight. I realize that is an odd collection, but that only proves my point. It can happen anytime, anywhere. This one brought me back to my younger days, before I hated everything, before all movies were ruined by film school. It reminded me(to quote James Earl Jones in Field of Dreams) "of all that once was good, and can be again."

People will come, Ray. People will most definitely come.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

One Man's Trash Part II

About a week ago, I placed an ad on Craig's List saying "A couple hundred comics for sale." The deal I was giving was for someone to come over to my apartment, go through a couple boxes of comics and take anything they want for a quarter each. Not bad, really, except a lot of these books are from when I was a kid, and I had pretty much read the hell out of them (plus, my cats used to use my long boxes as a scratching post.) I also threw in a bunch from the box I found on the street a few weeks ago, which looked like they had been in an attic for decades. It was really just a way to make some room and some money off of these old books that were virtually worthless in any other market (Believe me, I tried.)

The beauty of comics is that there are collector's everywhere, however, and I figured there would be people willing to take some of them off my hands for a rare treat that may be in there. I have to admit, though, I can't take credit for the idea. I answered a similar ad about a year ago. The person who placed the ad happened to be a very attractive young girl in Brookline who had apparently lived with a guy for a while who ended up skipping out on the rent and leaving his comics behind, so she was selling them a way of trying to recoup some of the money. She knew nothing abotu comics, so she was selling them for 25 cents out of ignorance. This, in fact, was a brilliant sales tactic in disguise. According to her (we spoke at length, as I was trying to hit on this beautiful young lady who was selling comics!), collectors came out in droves, so by the time I got to her, everything had been picked over, probably by speculators who thought they could turn a quick profit by buying Giant-size X-men for a quarter. Well, that's why I was there, anyway. I ended up buying a bunch of old Fantastic Four books for $5 that a sold on eBay for, well, about $5.00.

Alas, I did not take her stance, and so I only received one response (Well, two, but the first guy never showed up.) This guy (typical fanboy, too: slightly overweight, beard, old t-shirt) came to my apartment the other day with a backpack and one of those wire cart things, sifted through the boxes, and bought 24 books. Six bucks. I mean, good for him, but he told me he came all the way from Central Square (plus a long walk to the T, he said), stayed for about ten minutes, and then dragged his cart back on the T and left. I hope he was happy with his comics, because that's a couple hours travel time for a pretty small return. But that's the thing. He seemed quite happy with what he took (especially some of the old horror books I had found on the street), and I'd bet the house that he wasn't a speculator, just a fan.

Why can't I be just a fan? Why do I feel that everything has to be an investment? Why can't I just enjoy things for what they are? Oh, I know. Because I'm POOR!

In fact, if I re-list this ad, I might take the naive seller approach, inspired by that cute girl, and see what kind of response that gets.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Rush on The Colbert Report

The first time on American television in 33 years. Even I'm not that old.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Un-Wanted Analysis

So, maybe I was a tad hasty in my complaints about my extra work on The Surrogates. I got paid yesterday (which is pretty quick for Hollywood) and the check was way more than I expected. It came out to more than two weeks at my old Harvard job, and a little less than half of what I would make here in a week (with all the taxes and stuff taken out), for one frikkin' day. Of course, it was a long day, which almost equals half a week here at BU, so it almost balances out. But, needless to say, I'll be on the look-out for calls for extras when that Mel Gibson movie comes to town soon. I'm such a paradox.

The funny thing, I really do not enjoy the actual work. it's so far from actual movie-making that it's ridiculous (as I've stated a billion times before). It obviously bugs me more than it would an average person because of my film background, but that's just another part of the Curse of Film School, I guess. Still, film degree or not, I hate the whole "Hurry Up and Wait" culture on a movie set. I hate the boredom between takes. I hate the way everyone on the crew is seemingly having the worst day of their lives. I hate the disorganization. I hate the pretentiousness of some of my fellow extras, some of whom think that this will actually get them somewhere in Hollywood. But I like the mon-aaaaayyyyyy. I'm such an American.

I did realize something about movies after seeing Wanted this weekend. It was a totally ridiculous movie based on a pretty interesting graphic novel, and I expected nothing less, so i didn't actually hate it. however, I saw it with my brother and his wife, and my brother is the eternal optimist, so he tried to explain to me the intricacies of the plot, which I am going to talk about now, so you may stop reading if you don't want it spoiled. First, though, let me assure you that there were no intricacies to this plot, so feel free to read on.

The book (if I remember correctly) is set in a futuristic kind of world where this fraternity of bad guys pulls the strings behind the scenes and basically controls everything in secret. So, every one is basically a bad guy except working stiffs. So, when Wesley (the main character) starts killing people, he knows he's killing bad guys because everyone is a bad guy. No moral ambiguity. The movie seems to take place in our world, so the bad guys who need to be killed are determined by this bizarre weaving device that spits out threads in some kind of binary code that somehow gets translated into names. These names are people who will apparently do something terrible down the road (like kill Angelina Jolie's dad), so they have to be rubbed out in the classic "Ends justify the means" thing. I don't really get it either, but the point is you have to believe this stuff or the whole point of the movie is down the crapper, and guess which handsome blogger wasn't buying that premise.

Right on.

My brother the optimist (Bless him) was trying to legitimize this movie for me, but really, there was no changing my mind. I didn't buy the whole fate/weaving business, so the moral core of the movie was gone for me. I didn't mind the action sequences and liked seeing Angelina's ass for a few seconds, but the point of the movie, the moral center, kaput. After discussing this fact the entire ride home, I finally asked my brother why he was trying to make lemonade out of this somewhat sour lemon, and he said, "I don't know."

Therein lies the rub. most of the movie-going public is optimistic, and they want to be entertained, so they'll take films like Wanted as it comes and accept it for what it is. I myself cannot. And it's not just the film background. It's mostly the pessimism.In my mind I know that Wanted wasn't meant to win any Oscars, and I know that the thousands of rat-bombs that Wesley apparently made over-night were a completely unrealistic, yet stylistic, choice that most people will just swallow (Truly, it smacked of a writer sitting in his house and thinking, "What's never been done before? I got it! Rat-bombs!"), and I know that we are not meant to analyze Wanted for any more than two minutes after the thing ended.

But I must.