Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Losing Your Religion

I did an informal survey of my work-study students recently to see if the younger generation had ever heard of R.E.M. not because I was a fan in my youth, but just to see if things really have changed that much. Several of them (at least half), had never HEARD of such a band. The other half said things like, "Of course I have. How could you not?" So, two extremes, it seems.

To me, R.E.M. was a great band in the 80's and 90's, and have churned out some of my favorite songs, but are clearly not that relevant anymore. Still, for 18-20 year-olds to not even hear of them seems strange. Wouldn't it be like me saying I had never heard of Led Zeppelin or the Rolling Stones when I was an 18-20 year-old? Now I realize that if you were to play "Everybody Hurts" for a lot of these kids, it would probably ring a bell, but they still don't know who the Hell sang it. And for the record, that song blows.

The point is that, yes, we all miss out on classics, I suppose. But my informal survey was actually born out of the fact that I was trying to illustrate a point through what may well be the gem in R.E.M.'s crown, "Losing My Religion."

First off, the students didn't know that one, either, which is weird because it was insanely popular (which is rare for songs that so heavily involve a mandolin.) It reached number four on the BIllboard charts, received several Grammy Nominations, and won Video of the Year. So, big doings, even for people who weren't born before 1991, you'd think.

The point I was trying to make to my students is that "Losing my Religion" is not about religion at all. The phrase "losing my religion" is an expression used predominantly in the south, meaning that you are basically at the end of your rope. The song, according to Michael Stipe himself, is about unrequited love. The idea is that you have this crush on someone, and you think they understand, but you're not sure. And you drop hints and you think they get it, but you're not sure. Basically, you've said too much, but you haven't said enough. And then you drop the "hint of the century," and that's it. You can't take it back. It was the slip that brought you to your knees. And do you the next word in the song?


I've been writing lately about the value of honesty and being straight with people, but my advice to the lovelorn is don't lose your religion, ever, over anybody. I would say if you are at that point, you better be 95% sure that they get you and have some similar feelings, or you'll be brought to your knees, too. Once you say something like that, you can't un-say it, and whatever friendship you had going before you opened your mouth is over, forever changed, and probably really awkward. Was it worth it?

This, I feel, is why anyone, but especially my 18-20 year-old work-study students, should familiarize themselves with R.E.M.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Undisputed Intelligence

I may have hit upon something spectacular. Or relatively cynical. You may decide.

Recently, I met a girl and attempted courtship. After repeated attempts, she told me that she was seeing someone else and, thus, we could never be (not exactly in those words, but...). I suspected this to be false. She probably just didn't have it for me and wanted to spare my feelings, because when I told her it was cool and I hoped we could remain friends, she seemed ecstatic. In fact, this is her exact quote (from her e-mail): "Can we really still be friends?! That makes me super excited. Big smiles over in SMG right now."

Of course, people can say anything in an e-mail, but I was into her quite a bit, so even though we remained friends, I was slightly disappointed. We had also become facebook friends, and I did notice that her relationship status never changed, not that that is a big deal, but I also noticed this week that her status reads, "Giving up the opposite sex for Lent." So, yeah, big lie over in SMG right now.

Still, not too huge a deal. Not everyone is attracted to everyone, especially me. However, I am just now realizing what the problem is, and it is a problem with a lot of people and the whole relationship thing and probably society as a whole. The problem is that I have most probably been lied to, and that is an insult to my intelligence. I would rather her think of me as a gargoyle than insult my intelligence. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, of course, so not everyone is going to be attracted to me, or I to everyone. But my intelligence is my intelligence, and that is undisputed. I know that this girl doesn't know me very well, and I may be reading into something she put on facebook in jest, but I am still 95% sure she was trying to let me down easy with a tiny fib that I could not possibly call her out on.

BUT, I have been around, and I've told a bunch of lies in my time, and I know this game as well as anyone out there, so it hurts that she would think she could put one over on me like that. It hurts a lot more than her saying, "Hey, Matt, you seem like an okay dude, but you eat really slow and talk a lot, and I'm just not feeling anything on this end." Because seriously, no one wants to hear that, but there's no arguing that would be the honest truth, and how can a guy not respect that? Let's face it, when someone is caught cheating, is it really the cheating that offends them, because in my experience, it's the lying that really stings. The old, "How could you do his to me?" line, because they probably had an inkling it was happening, anyway.

This is my problem with almost all manner of relationships, romantic or otherwise. Most of us are not honest enough with each other. I admit that I do it, too, and I lie about all kinds of things, but I would hope that at least the people I care about know exactly where they stand with me. That is really all I have to offer the world, but it's more than a lot of people seem capable of. And if you're reading this and don't know where you stand with me, pay attention!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The World Has Turned

If Future Me came to Present Me on February17, 2005 and told Present Me (who is Present Me 2010, if you follow Me) that the people that I know that are getting married would be getting married and the people that are splitting up are splitting up and the people that are having children would be having children, well, I'd think that Present Me had to lay off the booze because Future Me is obviously feeling the effects.

I'm not sure what to make of all this, really, except that life is pretty unpredictable. That's not good enough, though. I'm a pragmatist. I need to ponder why things happen. I need to over-analyze things and then apply them to my own life, even though they seemingly have nothing to do with me, apart from slightly altering the schedule of who I go drinking with. Before you judge, however, let me just say that if I did not apply other people's situations to my own life, I would really have nothing to talk or think about, other than comics. See, nothing really happens in my life.


I may have hit upon the problem.

Maybe I'm just getting to that age where shit starts to hit the fan (although I really thought I was well past that point.) Maybe I was too stubborn to see that while I was preaching my version of the good life, everyone else was thinking about the future. I was too busy having a good time and doing the stuff that most people do in their 20's. Future Me didn't exist back then. Even in the most remote corner of my brain.

I'm not saying I've been wrong all these years, or that I'm jealous of my friends getting married or having children (especially the ones having children. I'm still pretty firm on that one.), but perhaps a thought or two about Future Me wouldn't have been the worst idea ever. I'm not turning over a new leaf or anything, but sometimes a man does a little thinking, sitting in his one-bedroom apartment, after yet another grilled-cheese-and-Dorito dinner, with no money and nothing to spend it on, anyway. And he wonders if maybe, just maybe, the outlook could use a little tweaking.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Oscar Suckage

I recently wrote a Facebook stats message that said something about the ten best Picture nominees being about 8 too many, and that I haven't seen ten Best Pic caliber movies in the last three years. then I started to think if I've even seen that many. Then I started to think that maybe my standards for Best Picture are too high. Then my head hurt.

So, I thought I'd try and see if I could come up with ten good movies from the last three years, and skip the whole Best Picture thing (The stupid Oscars are all political, anyhow.) Granted, my viewing over that span has been limited, but that's partly because I wanted to reduce my stress level from seeing all those bad movies, and financially, it just ain't worth it to waste money on crap anymore.

But this is about good movies, so I'll try and be positive. Here goes:

I actually saw three of the Best Pic noms for the 2008 Oscars, but the one I enjoyed the most (and was actually, totally robbed) was There Will be Blood. Paul Thomas Anderson is one of my favorite directors (Boogie Nights, Magnolia), and Daniel Day-Lewis is just unspeakably awesome in this role. It's interesting because not a lot actually happens, but that's where the subtlety of the performances comes in. Good writing and good acting will always triumph in the end. Eventual winner No Country for Old Men was not a bad movie, and had the good acting, but really only won because people seem to have a hard-on for the Coen Brothers. They should really stick to quirky/funny, because these slow-paced dramas are just too bland for me. And fellow nom Juno? Well, I think I've said enough about that whiney piece of fluff. My opinion, Blood should have swept.

In 2008, I saw a more good movies than I had seen in awhile. Maybe it was because a lot of comic book movies came out. Dark Knight was tops, but we also got Iron Man and Hulk. Now, obviously, those aren't best Pic quality, but really, if you're going to nominate Avatar, then you should consider DK. if they had nominated ten movies back then, maybe they would have. And besides, I did say that this is just about the good movies. And there was something for those who don't live in their parents basement as well, as Mickey Rourke and Darren Aronofsky (and Bruuuuuce!) gave us The Wrestler.

Last year wasn't so horrible, really. I was unbelievably surprised by the re-make of Star Trek, and Quentin Tarantino served up what may be his masterpiece (so declared by Brad Pitt in the final scene) in Inglourious Basterds. And if I haven't written about Zombieland, it's only because I can't say enough good things about it. Just one of the most creative and funny movies I've ever seen. Seeeeeee iiiiiiiit!!!

Wow. That's 8 movies that I actually liked enough to purchase on DVD that came out in the last three years. I'm probably forgetting a couple, but I was out to prove a point, and I think I did. the point? Those Oscars sure do suck.

So much for being positive.