Monday, November 30, 2009

13 Conversations About No-Thing

It's a few days ago now, but what kid of writer would I be if I didn't write about my 15-Year High School Reunion? (A much less annoying and self-involved one?)

The reunion of Abington High's Class of 1994 is slightly noteworthy (to me, anyway) because it largely came about due to Facebook. Our class never had a ten-year gathering, and I think a lot of people probably figured that we may never have one. But thanks to the miracle of technology, and the nature of people to want to stalk those we used to know, several of us became Facebook friends over the last couple years, and someone along the line suggested a reunion. And so it came to pass.

Personally, I went back-and-forth over whetehr I even wanted to go. Although, if I am being honest with myself, I think I look better than I did 15 years ago (less acne, not as dorky), I do have less hair and even fewer actual accomplishments. Plus the fact that I have to children to talk about, I was afraid I would have very little to talk about with anyone. Two things won me over; the realization that no one I graduated with became President or famous in any way, and the open bar.

On a personal level, I enjoyed not only the open bar but the fact that at least some, dare I say most, people seemed to remember me with fondness, and as a funny person. I think those who knew me then would attest that I was pretty much a wiseass, and the only difference between then and now is that I am maybe less mean and slightly more sensitive to the feelings of others. other than that, I'm still trying to be the funny man, and it seems like that's how people remembered me. Not someone they would ever sleep with, but at least a guy who tried to make them laugh most of the time.

The best thing (besides the open bar) about the reunion, and I suppose all reunions, was that it was one of those "Shared Experience" things, where a large group of people are there at that exact same time and can lose themselves in the genius of the moment. It wasn't really about the time Mike Donaghey threw the book through the window (although, that was quite awesome). It was more about genuinely catching up with people that you don't get the opportunity to see anymore, but you lirterally spent every day with them for four years. In the end, it seems like it is the same conversation over and over again ("What are you doing?" and "Where do you live?"), but it's not just about "stalking" people or seeing who put on a few pounds, because most of them really do care where you live and what you are doing. And when you get closer to the end of the night, and the remaining people are a little looser and liquored up, it becomes less about what you do for work or what you've been doing over the last 15 years, and it becomes about what you are doing at that very moment: having fun with old friends.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Tonight in Zombieland

It has often been said that I hate movies (often said I hate everything, in fact.) But every thousand lifetimes, a movie comes along that I really do enjoy, and that's how people should know that it's worth seeing. As I read that over, I make it seem like I'm some kind of authority, or that I'm the only one who likes a certain movie, and ti sounds pretentious. But I believe that I could be some kind of movie barometer because I do have a discerning eye. So take heed, all ye looking for an enjoyable romp: my thousand lifetimes is up, and Zombieland has come.

My first impression of the trailer was that this movie may have some comedic moments, but it is most probably mindless drivel. Most comedies are, and I got the feeling that most of the funny moments were actually in the trailer and the rest was pretty stupid. I was glad to be wrong on this one. It is not mindless at all. In fact, there are oodles of subtle jokes that I found myself being the only person in the theater laughing at (granted, there were only about ten people there.) There was also a decent bit of character development (especially Woody Harrellson, one of the most underrated actors going), a not-entirely annoying love story, and a good amount of action and violence. Of course, there was some mindless, goofy, stupid humor as well, but that is perfectly acceptable in the small doses that it was worked in. Structurally, I can't think of any flaws. My God, who am I?

Because the villains are (SPOILER WARNING!) zombies, people will compare Zombieland to Shaun of the Dead, which I enjoyed, but yeah, kind of falls into the Mindless area. The writing in Zombieland was way better, as was the acting, and the special effects, and just the overall fun factor. I'd sooner compare it to Army of Darkness than anything else, even though there really aren't that many movies that can compare to this one. Maybe it's because it wasn't a re-make or re-imagining. Maybe because I've lost my taste for heavy dramas and sappy romantic comedies. Maybe it's because I would have made a movie like this if I ever did persue my Hollywood dreams (on my best day, but still... And that's not even me being pretentious. There are jokes in here that totally would have fit in Secret Monkey.) It may be a result of all those things, but I think it's just a good script, some money, and the balls to make an unconventional horror horror/comedy.

See? I don't hate everything.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Halloween Memories

Halloween is kind of a weird day in my mind. When you're a child, it was very exciting. You dress up in a sometimes silly costume and bug your neighbors for candy. Half the time your mother made you wear a jacket, covering up the costume you were so excited about, but you still got candy, so whatever. I don't remember specific Halloweens that much, but one of my favorite memories from childhood is the post-Trick-or-Treating Candy Exchange that would take place at my friend's house, where my cronies and I would gather to trade off the candy we maybe didn't want for stuff we did that was given to someone else. For some reason, no one but me liked the Sweet Tarts. God times.

As I got older, I wanted to hang on to the Trick or Treating as long as I could, so I would find some younger friend to walk around with and still net myself some treats. I thought it was brilliant, but a lot of my peers had given up on the whole thing. I loved it, though, so why stop? Again, no specific memories come to mind, but it was cool to get free candy.

When even my young friends got too old to go Trick or Treating, I finally had to give it up. Eventually, in my early twenties, my girlfriend and I used to dress up to hand out the candy at her house. Plus, we did all the local haunted houses and visited Salem every year. One year we even had a party, and I was Indiana Jones. I don't remember much else, but I'm sure it was fun.

Nowadays, Halloween has become like New Year's, where everyone asks you the next day what you did (and you better have had something to do.) Almost everyone I know dressed up as something to do whatever it was they were doing. I was shocked. Where were all you people when I was thirteen and I was the only one still clinging to the traditions?

I live in an apartment in the city, so no kids ring my buzzer, but I did take a little walk through the neighborhoods of Brookline to get into the spirit. I saw plenty of children (and parents) dressed up and getting candy, and it really warmed my heart (the fact that it was about 70 degrees out didn't hurt. No jackets required. Thanks, climate crisis.) But it was good to see in these cynical, uptight times that kids will still dress up and run from door-to-door demanding treats, and people will still give them. It may be the one day a year that I don't hate children. Of course, I don't have to answer a doorbell every five minutes.

For the adults that I knew that all had "something to do," most of them got dressed up and went to parties, and it wasn't about the candy for them. Granted, for a lot of them it's an excuse to dress like a slut or make a fool of yourself, but still, they are having a good time. I guess that's the only "candy" adults need, really. I mean, as a kid, you rely on Halloween for your candy intake for most of November (at least), but as an adult, if I want some candy, I can just go buy it. What I can't buy is a good time at a party with friends, and the memories that go along with all that (assuming, of course, you do remember it).

With all that in mind, I had a very interesting Halloween memory the other night. I was on my way home in the wee hours, and I hailed a cab. The cab driver, a gruff, middle-aged fellow, told me to sit in the front seat. That was creepy enough, but then he said, "We're gonna get some pussy."

I wasn't sure if he was taking the "trick" part a bit too far. "Okay?"

Then he asked, "Can you talk? Are you good at talking?"

I should have said, "Nope. Sorry," and jumped out then, but I wanted to get home. He proceeds to pick up a girl wearing one of those cloaks that Afgan women wear, and she was covered from head-to-toe. this was obviously her costume, because she was carrying a sign with some sort of political statement on it that I don't recall. She said she lived on the way to my place, so she got in and away we went.

It took Crazy Cabbie two seconds to start hitting on her, even going right for the phone number. I was like, "Dude, she could have two noses under there. You have no idea what's going on." He was undeterred, and soon they were speaking in Arabic to each other, as she said she was a student learning the language. he complimented her on her diction, too. This guy was a real smoothie, and I was wondering why she was talking to him at all, in any language.

I asked if she was a BU student, since she lived in the area, and she said she was. When I mentioned I worked there, she said, "Hey, I know you. You're the A/V Guy at CGS!"

Sigh. Small world. So, we chatted about that for a couple minutes, and soon enough we were in her neighborhood (at least, she said it was good and got out. I'm pretty sure she didn't want either of us to know where she lived.) I decided I had heard enough, too, so I paid the fare and walked the rest of the way. The girl offered me some money, but I felt she had suffered enough, so I refused. I wonder if he ever got any.

It was an odd ride on many levels. For one, I happened to be wearing leather pants, so there was at least a 50-50 chance that I wasn't even interested in women. Second, there were probably thousands of half-naked drunk chicks looking for cabs at that time, so why pick up the girl in the burqa? And to top it all off, she knew who I was?

Now that's a Halloween I won't soon forget.