Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Who's Bad?

Longtime readers (HA!) may remember my post about the movie Juno awhile back. if you don't, you can read it here. Okay, I know you won't bother, but it was a good one, so I'll give you the short version: It was basically every Lifetime MOW with better acting and should have been about Jason Bateman's character and the tragedy of marrying the wrong woman. It's as American as apple pie.

Anyway, Juno was on HBO recently, and I watched it again (Well, most of it.) I still really liked Jason Bateman and kind of hated Juno (especially that part where she says she's 16 and she knows stuff. Whatever, kid. Go get a job!), but did find more sympathy in Jennifer Garner's character, so I'm not a total wanker. Am I?

This came on the heels of Season 2 of Mad Men showing up OnDemand, which I ravenously dived into. So far, I think Don Draper is written even better this time around, and I actually found myself rooting for him to have affairs. I was talking about it at work, and one of my co-workers said that she watched most of Season 1 in a marathon one holiday weekend. Another colleague asked if it made her want to slit her wrists. Que? That thought would never cross my mind. Just the opposite, in fact. I would be in Heaven.

These are not isolated incidents, by any means. I may be going to a level beyond cynicism ("showing contempt for accepted standards of honesty or morality by one's actions, esp. by actions that exploit the scruples of others," according to I may be shifting into evil. It would be kind of scary, if I believed in good and evil.

I believe that there is no right or wrong, just what you do or don't do, which is determined by whatever values you have in there. I choose to do what I feel is right, just like Jason Bateman's character in Juno, and Don Draper on Mad Men. It may not coincide with what a lot of other people feel is right, but that's their opinion. But when you look at these two examples, we see how times have changed. Juno is a hero for getting pregnant at sixteen and giving it up for adoption. Peggy Olson, the cute-as-a-button-secretary-turned-copy-writer from Mad Men, is scorned for having a child out of wedlock and giving it up.

I don't mean to turn this into an analysis of two pop culture polar opposites. That all just came to me. The point is, I guess, that not everything should be looked at one way. Juno was universally praised for depicting a heart-warming tale of an irresponsible teenager fucking up and then whining about it a lot. Mad Men is also universally praised for depicting grown men behaving like teenagers (only there's far less whining), but there's nothing heart-warming about it. It's a dark, angry show that makes you think about things, and suicide, I hope, is not one of them. For me, sometimes being bad can be good.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Green Monster

I admit. At first I did it to see a free game.

My affiliation with Boston University garnered me a spot on the Fenway Park Green Team. Technically, I think the Green Team is mostly supposed to be comprised of students, but I've taken classes, so be quiet, you! Anyway, the Fenway Park Green Team walks the aisles during the game and collects the plastic bottles and cups and helps save the Earth and keeps Fenway Park clean. Green team members are given a free, very bright green t-shirt and a voucher for a free hotdog and soda. And you are at Fenway Park during a game without paying billions of dollars. You can't lose.

So, when I got my e-mail saying that I was selected, I was all, "Cool! Free game!" Obviously, I'm a Red Sox fan, but more than that, I have come to realize that Fenway Park is possibly my favorite place on Earth. So, any excuse to be there is fine by me. However, I am also a bit of an environmentalist (I'm not going to chain myself to a nuclear reactor or anything, but I recycle a lot), so it's basically win-win. I get a free game, and the Earth gets saved.

What I did not realize going in was that Red Sox Nation would also be into this. At first, I was a little nervous that I would have to wander around telling at the top of my lungs to get people to throw their plastic cups at me. But as the game began, and a lot of beer was consumed, all I really had to do was get the ball rolling a little by picking up a cup here and there, and pretty soon I had folks clamoring to recycle their plastic. One lady, waving her coke bottle, yelled, "Hey, Green Team Man! Over here!" I told her that I was indeed "Mr. Green. I'm so serene." I had people asking me how to get on the Green Team (incidentally, you can probably find out more info here.) I had one guy ask me if the bottle caps are recyclable, because he heard they weren't. I actually felt bad that I didn't know, although I had been recycling them all night, so I hoped they were. At least he cared to ask.

But what really gave me the warm fuzzy was all the people who thanked me for collecting their stuff. Honestly, I was grateful for them to be giving me the stuff. Why were they thanking me? One gentlemen even said that I was doing a good thing. I wanted to say, "Really? Getting into a free game?" I admit, it was tiring, although I was really enjoying being at the game. But my friend Heidi (who volunteered with me, and incidentally filled 4 times as many bags as I did, thanks to her yelling technique, and, I suspect, the fact that she's a cute girl.) pointed out that we were in fact volunteering, and that is always a good thing. And when I told my brother about it, he said, "Hey, just because you're getting something out of it, doesn't mean that it's not a good thing."

I think I was really shocked because of late, I had become rather disillusioned by people's lazy and sometimes gross attempts at recycling (the soiled diaper I found in the paper recycling bin at work may have had something to do with it.) It never faield to irk me when I see plastic bottles being carelessly thrown in a bin clearly maked PAPER ONLY. I mean, if you're thinking about it enough to not throw it in the garbage, how much more thought does it require to throw it in the bin marked PLASTIC? and there are those people who think it's all a myth and that the planet is actually okay. Well, fuck you. Take a trip to Greenpland and stand on the cost for awhile. Betcha fall in in a couple days.

So, I think this experience has made me a little more positive about the whole thing. There are a lot of people who care about the environment and want to recycle (if the small sampling of fans in sections 19-23 of Fenway Park on Saturday night are any indictaion). I may not have saved the Earth, but in the end, maybe I was the one who was saved.

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Geek Post: Selling Comics

My friend Brom has asked me to help him sell some of his comics on eBay, using the strength of my 900+ feedback to make some room in his condo. I am fine with helping him out, and I might as well admit now (after so many auctions) that I get a kick out of selling crap, especially other people's crap so I don't have to worry as much about how much money I make. I also kind of like to think of it as a race. How long will it take me to sell off that many comics?

I started off doing my research and seeing what was selling, so I started with some Manga stuff, and and Wolverine, because he's really popular right, and the first appearance of the Thunderbolts, that should be good, and the Infinity Gauntlet should bring in some gap. Since I had two full long boxes (which I think is around 500 books), I decided to try other methods as well, so I went to and sold some books over there (even throwing in a few of my own) and netted about 28 bucks.

Anyway, there were some underwhelming results, at first. I had to relist several of the lots and lower my prices in order to just sell them at all (I only live in a one bedroom, man.) So, as I went along, I started getting to what I considered the dregs and started going with Buy It Now auctions to see if that would work better. To my surprise, the Rocket Raccoon limited series from the mid-80's sold for 5 bucks. Six issues of Count Duckula sold for $8.50. Thirteen issues of Groo the Wanderer sold for $6.99 (Buy it Now). And the coup de grace, his ALF comics sold for $5.99 (again, Buy It Now. Kind of wish I had let the auction play out.) Seriously? ALF?

Now, I've sold a lot of weird crap on EBay over the years, but I thought I knew a few things about comics and what was worth dough. Clearly not, since the Wolverine comics totaled $12.99, which is slightly more than 6 issues of Count Duckula. I know Wolverine under-performed at the box office, but that's kind of an insult.

So, because things started to fizzle on eBay, I tried Craig's List. My logic here was simple; if I can get a comic fan into my apartment, maybe I can unload more comics. It worked. My listing of Avengers/Fantastic Four/Dr. Strange/Alpha Flight sold to a kid from Salem, who then went through the long boxes and bought some more, and I got an extra five bucks out of him. Very pleased. I think the Craig's List thing works because you don't have to rely on the very few people interested in these comics happening upon your auction for the seven days it's there.

Still, as I consider myself an eBay guy, I was shocked that I didn't quite get as much on there as I thought. Now, there is not a whole lot you can do to hype up your stuff on there. If no one wants it, then no one wants it. And this whole experience has me thinking (along with the fact that my local post office is now closed): after almost a decade of selling my old crap (and other people's old crap), I an starting to wonder where all the money has gone. I have sold hundreds of items, and yet I am still below the poverty line. I'm not sure if I should ask myself where I would be financially if I hadn't sold all that stuff, or where I would be if I had not spent so much time wandering to the post office and listing this stuff. Other than my car, I've never really made good money on anything from eBay, so maybe it's time to take a break and see what happens.

After I empty those long boxes.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Playing... for Money

With the pending bloom of Hollywood East, we have recently seen and heard of a plethora of movies being filmed in the Boston area, and the entire state seems to be aflutter. Literally.

Last Friday, my friend and I attended a casting call for a Ben Affleck movie being shot in the area called My Town, or The Town, or Our Town (okay, not that last one.) In some ways, this was not your typical cattle call, because they specifically asked for people with a Boston accent, and even asked each attendee to read a line to see if we had what it took. Of course, what I took were classes to try and get rid of my Boston accent, so alas, my size card was not adorned with the "BA" initials. Which I learned did not stand for "Bad Actor" or Mr. T's character from the A-Team. It stood for "Boston Accent." So, I probably won't get my line, but I'm not sure if I'm terribly disappointed in that fact. I'd rather not sound like Ted Kennedy all the time than tell people, "Hey, I once had a line in a movie and sounded like a dope."

The thing is that most of the people there would love to have that line. And not because it was a little more money and a better meal than the extras. They are all looking for their big break, and I guess they think that one line in one movie will catapult them to stardom. And of course! I mean, think of the many interviews with famous actors that you've read that featured an answer like, "Yeah, I was hanging out in Extras Holding when a PA came up to me and said, 'You! You're my star!' and the rest is history." I know there's resume-building and all that, but the desperation in some of these people's faces is amusing, if it weren't so sad.

Despite my history as Dursin the Firestarter, Dr. Demento and Ookla from the planet Zonk in my early filmmaking career, I have never fancied myself an actor. In fact, I think I kind of stink. Maybe I could be passable in a comedy, but probably only the kind I'm used to, where there wasn't actual dialogue to memorize and I got to just say whatever the Hell I wanted. I'm not really one for "the process" of putting yourself in the character. In reality, it's just playing, much the same way my friends and I would play in the yard when we were kids, and I insisted on being Spider-Man or I would go home crying.

The actors I've met (which isn't a lot, I admit) are a rather pretentious lot, considering they are doing for money what I did as a kid for my Saturday afternoons. This is coming from someone who over-thinks everything in the world, but when they handed me "copy" at the door (a crumpled up piece of paper with 4 lines of dialogue on it, 2 for men and 2 for women), I was quite shocked, and almost refused. Still, I filled out the size card and got in line, while my friend poured over the copy, which was fine for him, because he wants to be an actor. I was just there for the money. The very effeminate casting director asked me how I was and which line I was going to read, and I read the shorter one. Something about going around back to the cargo bay (or cah-go bay), and we hit him right there. I don't remember because I don't care. To the King of Over-Thinking, I feel that was one I could let slide. Acting may be a difficult job, but for that one line... Well, I think I gave it its due attention.

Maybe it's because I spent time in L.A., or maybe because I've done the audition thing a couple times (Once, I was actually approached by a casting director in L.A. who was putting on a stage production of Jesus Christ Superstar and wanted me to play Christ, simply because I had a beard.), but I put acting up there with most other high-paying jobs. It would be nice work if I could get it, but I'm not going to go to any great lengths to learn the trade. In my mind, I'm already a character. Why would I need to play anyone else?

Friday, July 10, 2009

The New Women

Let me start off by stating that I am an unmarried, child-less, heterosexual male in my early 30's. I believe this makes me a minority, and probably subject to some sort of benefits or special treatment. Okay, I wasn't born this way (the early 30's part, anyway) but at least I should be entitled to something, like for people to listen to my complaints. (Why not? All other minorities do it.)

Here's a complaint: why don't guys man-up anymore?

Seriously, when did we all become such wusses? And I don't mean in the drink-beer-and-belch way. Men still do that. Hell, women do that, so I'm not being sexist or anything. When I say "men are wusses," I'm talking about emotions. For instance, having them. Or, more accurately, showing them. I suppose the men in ancient Rome had emotions and appreciated beauty, they just never told anybody about it for fear that their buddies would scoff and probably rape his wife, and possibly him as well.

Sometime in the last half-century, men have been domesticated, like the common dog. At some point in the past, women said, "What are you feeling?", and like Pandora's Box, they all came flooding out. While the men were crying, the women said, "Someone's gotta wear the pants in this family," so they took the reins. And instead of saying, "Hey, those are my reins," the men handed them over.

This paradigm has resulted in men literally becoming the new women (like pink being the new black). Men now get jealous, and lonely, and selfish. Let me give you an example from a friend of mine. Her boyfriend was upset because my friend was using what precious little vacation time she had to hang with an old, college girlfriend, this guy all but saying, "What about me? Sniff." My friend is much nicer than me, but I think she was probably stifling the question, "What about you?" She sees this guy all the time, while her friend was traveling down from Toronto. Is this something that people need to discuss? And seriously, turn the clock back a few years and can't you see the girl worrying about the guy spending time with his friends and not having enough for her? Am I the only one who notices this stuff?

Think about it for a minute. Back in the day, men were the head of the household (and not necessarily in a mean, domineering way). How many men do you know are the head of their household these days? I think I know one. And again, I don't mean that a guy who does nice things for his wife or girlfriend is a wuss. Or that men should be working while the women stay home and bake the brownies. All things being equal, things would be equal. However, all things are not equal. In fact, nothing is equal. And so we have divorce, because things can't really be equal, because Domesticated Man can't make decisions on his own. Surely, that would upset his wife, and that cannot happen. Therein, I feel, lies the rub. Upset Woman leads to many, many problems. God forbid we upset anyone in these days.

Some may be thinking, "This is why this guy isn't marred." And if you said that, YOU'RE RIGHT!!! Maybe I'm not married because maybe I'm not a wuss. I'm the head of my household. I make decisions based on what I want, because I don't have to worry about anyone not approving. I approve of everything. In my life, anyway, all things are equal.