Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Unclenching my Fist...

I figured I would give my take on yesterday's Inauguration. I'm sure it's been written about ad nauseum, but it's my blog and I'll do what I want. besides, being a very opinionated person, I'm sure my thoughts matter immensely. That's what the internets are all about, right?

First of all, I don't mean to blame my bitterness and cynicism in life on George W. Bush. I've never met the guy, of course, but he seems rather boob-ish and ignorant. Were he some uncle that I only saw at family functions, I would laugh at his antics, such as forgetting the names of foreign dignitaries and not knowing the old "Fool me once..." saying. But where he was, in fact, the leader of my country, and he sort had the fate of millions in his greasy, dumb hands, yeah, no, I wasn't laughing. I spent the last 8 years hating him. And I use the word hate here in the way it was intended. I get annoyed by a lot of things (mostly everything), but I reserve hatred for the really bad things, like George W. Bush. And Dick Cheney. And the fires of Hell.

Eight years is a long time. It's a long time to carry hatred in your heart. For awhile, I hated my ex-girlfriend for racking up charges on my credit cards and forcing me into debt and despair. But that faded with time. I also hated another of my exes for awhile, because she was just a stupid bitch. Now I just pity her for being a stupid bitch, because she is stupid and couldn't help herself. The hatred faded. Time heals all wounds.

But I did hate George Bush and Dick Cheney for 8 years, and it never faded. So, while I don't blame them directly for the state my life is in, it weighed on me to carry that around all that time, and certainly didn't help matters. The fact that he was flushing the country down the toilet, and made very few decisions I actually agreed with, didn't help, but I hated him from the first time I even heard he was running, and the fact that people actually voted for him, twice, made me hate him and most of the country. How could people in this century be so blind? Not all of them were, of course, since he didn't actually get the majority of the votes the first time, but... Deep breaths. It was 8 years ago.

I think now the hatred can begin to fade a little. Granted, we're still in a gigantic mess that will take years to clean up, but watching the Inauguration yesterday, knowing that there were hundreds of students in the lobby of CGS watching it on TV's that I had set up, and several classes were watching it on projected laptops that I hooked up (small feats, I know, but it's something), I was washed with feelings of hope and happiness for the first time in 8 years. And it felt wonderful. I may never not hate Bush and Cheney, but I can stop carrying it around so much, because I know we are headed in the right direction.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Who You Run With

In case you missed it (and I'm sure most of people did), Bruce Springsteen won a Golden Globe for "The Wrestler" last night. The song is awesome and is available on iTunes right now. Go buy.

In my journeys on the internets, I recently came across an article written by a guy who has received this nugget from his grandmother:

"Show me who you run with and I'll show you who you are.'

I really liked that one right away. Bet then, I always tend to go crazy over marvelously pithy phrases like that one. Then, I started to think about it a little, and it might not necessarily be a universal truth. It probably could be applied to people who run with arch-criminals (which would make them criminals themselves), but not everybody. I know it means to say a lot to people about their identity, but I think the key is the first part.

I like to poke fun at comic book nerds a lot, which is strange because I buy my share of comics every week. And read them. And file them neatly in a box by number. However, I always felt that the fact that I can separate fiction from reality set me apart from most comic book fans. In effect, I do not run with them. Probably because I'm too judgmental.

But why should all comic book readers be lumped together? There are sports fans and then there are people who paint their faces and go to every game and yell and holler at anyone who will listen about how great their team is, regardless of how great or awful their team really is. It is universally accepted that these people are crazy, but not all sports fans are. However, I feel that all comic fans are sort of lumped into one category: geeks. Despite the fact that there are levels of fandom, just as there are with everything, most people lump us all into the geek group. So, I don't always tell women that I hope to sleep with one day that I enjoy reading comics. maybe I'm just being paranoid.

The point being that I don't run with them. So, who am I, is the question. Who do I run with? Back in high school, with all the cliques and groups, I enjoyed being a sort of floater, a friend to all yet not really "running" with any particular affiliation. Clearly, I was much less cynical back then, but hopefully, I still am that kind of person. Hopefully, I can still be a friend to all. I remember several years ago when I was with my ex-girlfriend and my car had broken down and had to be towed. She marveled at the fact that I could make small talk with the tow-truck driver all the way home, like I was his best buddy, even though he was talking about the weirdest shit you can imagine. We were not similar at all (he was a burly, foul-mouthed tow truck driver. Probably not a comic book reader.) I would not run with this person, but I can carry on a conversation with him.

My floating ability will be put to the test soon enough, I suppose, as I just joined the AHS Class of 1994 Reunion Group on Facebook. Wow. Hey, a least Facebook can be good for something. Truly, can I still be friend to all, after 15 years of cynicism and bad breaks? Will people remember me for the guy I was, or the guy I thought I was (who was kind of a weiner.) It will be interesting. Hopefully, I'll be better dressed at the reunion that I was in high school, at the very least.

So, who do I run with? Sometimes, I think it's no one. Sometimes, it seems like it's everyone. I guess that's why I'm so conflicted all the time, because if who you run with determines who you are, and you don't know who you run with, then you may have a hard time figuring out who you are.

Life'll kill ya.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

You're It!

So, my friend Jay tagged me recently, and I completely missed it until now. The idea pf tagging someone's blog is that you are supposed to link to them and "spread the word" so eventually we will all read everyone else's blog and will no longer need to talk to anyone, which will be fantastic.

Seriously, the rules of this game of tag go like this:

  1. Link to the person that tagged you, and post the rules on your blog.
  2. Share 7 random and/or weird facts about yourself.
  3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post, and include links to their blogs
  4. Let each person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.
Simple, right? Sure, except I don't read 7 blogs that I could link to, or anyone else who would bother going to read them even if I did (my friends are a rather unaffected and lazy lot). Also, the idea of sharing 7 random facts about myself disturbs me. For one, I pride myself on speaking my mind a good part of the time, so for me to come out with 7 new, random things seems like I will have to dig deep, which, I suppose, is one of the points (It's a learning experience. Awww.), but it still bugs me out. BUT, I am a writer and so will do the best I can.


#1. I am not a big fan of red meat. It may be the blood, or the sordid-ness of killing a furry animal, but I have no problem eating chickens, because they are so weird-looking (and tasty!). However, I love bacon, pepperoni and hot-dogs, so you figure it out.

#2. I am not nearly as angry at the world as I appear to be. In fact, I am kind of a happy person. I am, however, very opinionated. People seem to get confused.

#3. I can not eat dinner in my apartment without watching something on TV, but I have to have it picked out before I start eating. I can't eat and channel-surf at the same time. In fact...

#4. I rarely channel-surf at all. I am not a fan. If I don't know what I want to watch on TV, then I can probably be doing better things.

#5. I feel religions are bad. All of them. We should all believe in whatever we want, but religion has been the cause of more needless wars and deaths than anything else I can think of. They should all be abolished.

#6. The Internets have given everyone (especially me) license to think they are more important than they are. Go read some facebook status messages and tell me I'm wrong.

#7. Most of the things I spend my life bemoaning (movies, comics, marriage), I actually really like. I just have high-standards for them. I don't see this as a problem. Why settle, right?

I guess that's about it. Let me see if I can come up with a few blogs to tag:

The Ed Zone (mentioned in a couple other posts)

Teacher Trenches (A shout out to my brother)

Indecision Time (My friend Mike, who I think just uses this to tell everyone what he played on his radio show. But at least it's a plug, right?)

Well, to be continued, I guess... Unless I can't come up with anymore. hey, I've written two posts today. I need some rest.

2008 and Beyond... What I Did with Myself

So, it's not the most timely of blog posts, but as was reviewing my recent orders, and happened to notice that you can click on a thing that says "View All Orders from 2008." It got me thinking about what I actually bought in 2008, and consequently what I actually did in 2008. I mean, a year's a long time. What the Hell did I do with myself the whole time? So, I did some research, mostly on Amazon, Swaptree and Netflix, and tried to figure out what I've done with the last year.

The Amazon list would lend one to think I had some stock in Warner Brothers or something, as I bought the Dark Knight on DVD, the Dark Knight Soundtrack, the Dark Knight Film Companion, featuring Production Art and Shooting Script, and a Joker Action Figure. All very cool items, but, that's a lot of DK stuff. Anyway, I also bought Hulk, Iron Man, and a few wrestling DVD's. Basically, that was it on the Amazon front (excluding gifts for other people). I mean, there were a few books for the class I took last Spring on there, but those have already been sold back or traded on, not a whole lot of actual brain-food on that list, but it gets better, because speaking of Swaptree...

For those who may not know, is a website where you can take your old crap (such as poetry books from class) that you no longer want, and ship them off to someone who wants them, and in return they ship you some of their crap. Simple enough. I discovered it early in the year, and have made 16 trades thus far, mostly old books that I've been meaning to read, most notably, David Eggers' A Heart-Breaking Work of Staggering Genius, which was an okay book, but the ending kind of sucked. Which is fine, since I didn't pay for it. I also didn't pay for Tucker Max's I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell, Jose Canseco's Juiced, Nick Hornby's Long Way Down, the Strangers in Paradise Treasury Edition, David Wallace's Big Fish (and the movie, as well), plus a bunch of old cd's that I always wanted, like Radiohead's Kid A and Dire Straits' Brothers in Arms. Oh, and Team America: World Police on DVD. The good news is that most of the crap that I traded for this crap was stuff that had been left behind by former professors or junk that had been given to me. So, at least I never actually paid for much of any of it. Doesn't change the fact that it's crap. At least I was able to flip the Tucker Max book, which I never paid for in the first place, and ended up selling it on Amazon for profit. Always thinking...

My Netflix queue saw me mostly catching up on TV shows and movies that everyone had told me were awesome and I had never got around to watch, because watching television is such a chore, y'know. Anyway, 30 Rock, Mad Men, Dexter, Californication, Arrested Development and even Dirty Sexy Money, which I've commented on in a previous post, were all on there. Most of the movies kind of stunk (The Prestige being the stand out. Go see it now.)

Oh, and there was that Wii that I happened to purchase. To say nothing of the hundreds of comics I spent gads of money on.

The point is that none of it was very high-brow, and it really made me wonder what I'm spending my time and money on. I mean, I don't feel guilty, because I don't have a wife or children or any of that I should be spending my time and money on. But it somehow feels empty. I mean, should I be growing up, even if it's just a little. My friend Ed Humphries on his blog, The Ed Zone, has a great post where he looks at being 36 and why and how he manages to love his video games and and his family at the same. I have a kind of opposite take, because Ed is married with two kids and a nice house in the suburbs, and I am single, living in the city, and still wonder where I'm going. I enjoy Ed's take, but his take is probably rare. Most of my married friends say things like, "Man, you're single! Enjoy your life!" I think that all sounds good on paper, but I will say this, the Wii is better with more than one person.

The issue is the time thing. I mean, I make a paycheck every week, but once time is gone, you can't get it back. And this is what I'm choosing to do with all this free time I have on my hands, since I'm not spending it on wives and kids.

It's a strange dilemma, really. It is something I think I will have to wrestle with for the foreseeable future, unfortunately. Maybe if I had more money, I wouldn't worry so much about all this, because I would feel my time had been better spent, since I spent it becoming successful. But in my current state, I just don't know.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

The Firestarter Rides Again... Again.

Some things never die.

A friend of mine recently had as his facebook status message, "Is it possible for old acquaintances to be forgot since the creation of facebook?" or something like that. It was a reaction to the new phenomenon of stalking people you used to know on facebook to, let's face it, see how they look now. Okay, I'm kidding around (although, admit it, you've done it, too.) But I have been contacted by several people that I went to high school with that I lierally haven't seen in 15 years. Here's the funny thing; if you're thinking of stalking anyone you went to high school with 15 years later because you want to know what they are doing, I'll save you the trouble. Nobody's doing much of anything. If they were, you probably would have heard about it already. If you truly wish to reconnect with people you may have lost touch with, then by all means, facebook away. If you're just curious to see who is doing better or worse than you, then don't worry yourself. We're all in the same boat.

However, despite my grousing, it is also kind of cool when you can hook up with old friends. I was recently contacted by an old friend who wondered how he could obtain a copy of Dursin the Firestarter, the film we all shot back in high school. Now, I use the term "film" loosely, but it was feature length, and I must say, I've seen a lot worse. Considering we were about twelve kids, a VHS video camera and a couple cans of hair spray. One day, we thought it would be fun to burn some GI Joe figures and film it, and thus, a legacy was born.

The logline would be something like "a crazy man is accidentally imbued with the ability to shoot flames from his hands, and uses his powers for evil." And that was pretty much the plot of our first seven-minute short, with about five minutes involving said burning of action figures. Then they kicked me (Dursin the Firestarter, natch) into the a lake and I was done. Thing is, people really dug it, so we made another, where I returned, burned more figures, until I was run over by the good guys. We started to make other movies, but got bored so we figured we'd go for a trilogy. this one was longer, but was still basically me pretending to shoot fire and burn action figures (Boy, I could have made a fortune on eBay with them) until the good guys finally kill me dead.

While word spread around Abington High that some of my friends and I were doing this, more people wanted to see what was going on. We submitted to public opinion and made Dursin IV, set in the future where Dursin is the ruler of his own country. Wow, a plot. I don't even think we burned many figures in this one. In fact, I think Dursin even had some kind of mind-control powers. Anyway, it was still silly, but somehow we stretched it to last around 45-minutes, even throwing in the origin of Dursin, although what it actually entailed escapes me. I'm sure someone will help me on that.

Finally, after our other films failed to live up, we decided to shoot one more Dursin movie, this one combining elements of the four previous ones to make the definitive version. It grew and grew, mostly because my friend John had actual vision and ideas. This one still involved a guy shooting fire out of his hands, but we also had an all-powerful orb being studied by the army, a foreign power hoping to recruit Dursin as their emperor, and our first-ever onscreen kiss. of course, it was still pretty bad, but the imagination is there, even if the acting and budget was not (I distinctly remember several members of the crew piling into a station wagon to drive to the local school to film a scene, and everyone throwing in some change to pay for the gas to get there. We bought just over $2.00.)

It's all about perspective. I mean, when you consider the fact that Joel Schumacher had millions of dollars to make Batman & Robin, and we couldn't pay for gas (and this was with 1993 prices), and we still made a better movie, then you have to wonder where the true creative vision really is. And honestly, I never forgot the good times making that thing (in the pre-Youtube era, we were only doing it for the fun of it.), but to be asked about it on facebook 15 years later, and to be asked where my old friends can get a copy, well... that's not something I would have ever predicted. So I bemoan facebook, but it will say it does also giveth.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

The Walking Montage

You've all seen it on those prime-time soaps. It usually comes at the very end of the show. After all the events of the episode, after the various characters have had their inner struggle or differences of opinions with each other neatly wrapped up, they walk somewhere, usually home through snowy or rainy city streets. Occasionally they are already home, or wherever they were going, but they are, of course, alone to illustrate how the events of the episode have taken their toll. and there is music, usually a song by some hot, young artist that will be eventually found on the show's soundtrack. I think Ally McBeal actually started it way back when (David E. Kelly was the master of the Walking Montage), but everyone does it now.

Including me. I find myself hearing songs in my head (like Aimee Mann or something slow and meaningful) as I walk home some days, or when I listen to my iTunes library while at home with a drink, I get this ridiculous feeling like the characters in those ridiculous shows that I'm in the middle of my very own Walking Montage, and I wonder what the other characters on my show are doing. The funny thing they are probably doing nothing, much like their imaginary TV counterparts. Since when did walking home brooding make up a scene, anyway?

And that's just it. For most of 2008, I think I walked through my Montage, brooding, and then moved on to the next episode, with the show never really changing from week to week, season to season. Yes, I realize that life is not like these TV shows, but on The Matt Dursin Show, the story of my life, of which I am the star, the same rules apply. Some of the characters may be written out or get their own spin-off show , but I remain constant, like Dr. House or Chuck. The show simply can't exist without me, and it's not an ensemble cast, and there will be no Dursin: New York or Dursin: S.V.U. This is it for me. So, I do the best I can, week to week, season to season. It just seems like, in the end, the storylines start to all run together and the ratings never change.

So, my goal in 2009 is to maybe get picked up by another network (I'm pulling for HBO), maybe hire a new writing team, and hopefully, bring in a very attractive, talented actress for some guest spots. Until then, we all walk on, brooding.