Saturday, December 4, 2010

On 25: The Crisis Party


Well, we all saw this coming.











They call it the "Quarter-Life Crisis." Nice. This milestone assumes that I will live to one hundred years of age, from which I take away one negative and one positive. The former: Living a hundo years will mean at least forty years of bullshit: senility...diapers (which, hey, might actually be fun), a discernible lack of sex appeal (wait no way..maybe for the rest of you assholes), and consistent pleas for the loud noises to be turned down. The positive? I will live my dream of being alive during the 70's.

Here's a cool article about the supposed crisis which I currently inhabit. Here's another one in the New York Times, which was linked so many times on Facebook I thought it was that video of a turtle trying to fuck a shoe.











Fucking turtles.


I don't know about you, but after reading these articles purporting to describe the 20-something's mid-mid-life dilemma, I feel pretty optimistic. It seems like all of the stuff everybody's saying about our generation is pretty damn awesome.

To recap the Captain Wetblanket naysayers: 20-somethings these days feel isolated, lost, aimless, indecisive, and rootless. We don't know what to do because we can do whatever we want, because we're well-off and well-educated and comparatively well-fed. We sleep around because we have no need to get married and start a family and can buy condoms at the gas station. We don't socialize in person because Facebook and Twitter do it for us ( and thank fucking god...I mean, have you actually talked to your friends lately? yawn.) The economy sucks so we have good reason to be funemployed, sitting around perpetuating the stereotype that we have neither the work ethic nor drive to be productive during the day (also, jesus christ there's a lot of entertainment on the internet [see aforementioned turtle-fucking-shoe video]) while getting money from the government for doing just that. We're going to grad school because we've spent the first 22 years of our lives going to school, and hell, it's all we know (and a great reason to continue to party.)

Does anyone else see a complete lack of crisis here?
All of these factors lead me to believe that there has never been a better time to be 25 years old, like, in the history of the world.

To be sure, age 25 in 2010 A.D. is way better than in 2010 B.C. because you'd be dead, on average, seven years ago. To be 25 in 1010 would have been boring as shit: you try sitting around your local medieval fief listening to Beowulf by your lord over and over again (kind of like fifth grade but without indoor plumbing or eye-glasses.) Check out this dude's 25th birthday party:

25 in 1910 probably saw you trying to get shot in the chest and surviving in an attempt to be as badass as Teddy Roosevelt. 25 in 1950 meant you still couldn't get to third base with a girl because Casey Casum kept ruining the mood.

25 in 1980 would have been pretty sweet.

But 25 in 2010? Fucking Awesome. Being that my birthday coincided almost to the day with Thanksgiving, here are some things I am truly thankful for in this day and (my) age:

1. Air conditioning.
2. The internet.
3. The ubiquity of pornography. Dammit, that'd be under internet.
4. Social media. Internet.
5. A job. I am contractually obligated not to mention the name of the prominent technology company that employs me, but suffice to say that is the best company in the world, makes people happy, and provides fun and interesting work days. This is something very few people get to enjoy. Sure, I don't make much money. But investment bankers are the kings of all douchebaggery.
6. The internet.
7. Improv. Consider for a moment that this didn't really exist until Del Close in the 80's, and now it's everywhere and people are awesome at it and it's my favorite thing to do in the world, even if it sucks sometimes.
8. Corrective lenses. Oft have I considered the fact that in 450 B.C., as a Roman soldier, I would be completely blind and useless to society, and assuredly would have been designated one of the soldiers put at the front line to throw shit aimlessly at the enemy only to be immediately killed, probably by swinging an axe into my own face.
9. College. My parents paid for it, a luxury I really, really don't take for granted. I have maintained since I graduated that I had the most possible fun in the world at college: I drank enough beer to fill Lake Nicomas, lost my virginity, did some great improv, made fun of mouth-breathing nerds, got a kickass education without really applying myself, and got a useless liberal arts degree. What better way to spend the four years of 18-22?
10. The internet.
11. Cell phones. Jesus christ. Consider what your parents did before that. "Hey, text me on my landline"? "Go to a payphone and call me when you're outside?" Can you imagine answering the phone WITHOUT KNOWING WHO'S CALLING? My brain just exploded.
12. My friends. I guess they're ok.


Quarterlife crisis? CRISIS!?! I'm in the middle of the Quarter Life Party, doing it like it's 2010 bitches! To those who say this is the beginning of the end, I say go shit in the ocean! I love being right here right now. Sure, sometimes it sucks. But mostly it doesn't.

Thanks be to you, 2010. And thanks be to me, age 25. And a very special thanks to the internet.


Thanks for reading today.

P.S.
HEY FUCK YOU...

1. ...those who don't respond relatively promptly to texts! Seriously? I just sent you a text message. Unless your phone is rotary/ not in service, it's likely that a message popped up on your phone conveniently letting you know you have received a little note from me. Now, I'm not asking all of you out there to sit patiently by the phone, fingers at the ready, waiting for my text to arrive so you can respond faster than your data network can keep up (I'm telling you to do that.) However, as I often like to illustrate, let's pretend that text messages were actual conversations.
"Hey, what time should I be there?" (current time 1:30pm).
(No response. Seven hours later.)
--"Maybe around 9." (it's 8:45.)
But hey, this is probably happening because no one likes me. So hey, fuck you!

2. ...winter bikers! Now, don't get me wrong, I respect what you are doing. And believe me, we all get it. You're such a badass. "Oh, hey, look at me! It's cold as balls and the ground is a a snowice gauntlet and I'm riding on roads with drivers who are already more pissed off at other drivers than any other time of the year. Oh, hey, look at me. It's not cold at all, and yes, I am that committed to green transportation and reducing traffic and getting exercise, and oh hey, whatever, I love riding my bike.

But this does not give you license to blow off what we call the rules of the road. I usually give some lee-way to bikers not following the rules. Hell, I do just that all the time: ignoring red lights, crossing double-lines, not yielding to pedestrians. But Jesus Christ I do that shit during the summer! With the birds chirping and the temperature 70 degrees and my nuts thawed! With two feet of snow pushing what would still be tight two-way side-streets into impassable small automotive intestines, riding your bike against traffic in a one lane gives me the right to stick a cricket bat outside the driver-side window and close-line you in the nipple.

Hey, guess what? Don't ride your bike in the winter. Hey, fuck you!


Sunday, October 17, 2010

From Vergil's "Aeneid:" A Song for the Dumped


I know it's been a while since I last posted myself, so I've been saving up a good long one. Enjoy.




What most people don't know about me is that I was a Classical Languages major at Carleton College. Why don't most people know this? Because it has nothing to do with my life now. I had anticipated this. At college, I spent most of my time doing improv stuff; in fact, I gave little attention to schoolwork, and pretty much phoned-in a Bachelor's from a top-tier liberal arts college. But everyone needs a major.

My academic strengths (if you could call it that- it would more aptly be described as the stuff I was least shitty at, or more specifically the only things I tried to do well) were the humanities, namely history, philosophy, and literature. I had always been a good writer, especially adept at English grammar. I had started taking Latin in the seventh grade, since my middle school, oddly, had a solid Latin program. When I got to high school, I was placed in a high level class, and advanced AP level classes by Junior year. Although quite skilled in Latin, being in AP classes didn't stop me from my other major strength- being a smart-ass.

So I was good at Latin, the least marketable and most irrelevant of academic studies. When Sophomore year of college rolled around, forced to select from a variety of majors that didn't officially include improv, I picked Classical Languages, and true to form totally half-assed my way through it. I figured, correctly, that a liberal arts degree was what it was (essentially worthless) regardless of major.

I enjoyed reading the Latin poets. Caesar wrote some pretty bad-ass accounts of the wars in Gaul, in which the Roman Army rolled in and cut the balls off the ancestors of the French and Germans. Catullus wrote love-poetry and was a moody fuck. Imagine The Notebook in iambic pentameter, full of sexual references and constant bitching about girls who dumped him. Ovid was the ultimate storyteller, and his signature work, Metamorphoses, told the famous tales of Icarus, Pygmalion (the dude who was sculpted by his wife), Daphne, Romulus and Remus, Perseus and Thisbe (later ripped off by an Elizabethan bullshitter and turned into a whiney love-story that nobody cares about.)

But my favorite, and by far the best work of Latin poetry was The Aeneid, an epic poem composed by Vergil late in the 1st century B.C.

Vergil was already a best-seller in stoneback when he was commissioned by Augustus (son of Julius Caesar and the first Emperor) to tell the mythological/historical account of the founding of Rome by Aeneas of Troy. Essentially, Vergil was commissioned to give Augustus a literary handjob (see photo below) to further glorify his reign and justify the complete submission of the rest of the world at the time.
Aeneas was a Trojan noble who escaped getting the shit kicked out of him by the Greeks when they sacked the city in an event completely ruined in film adaptation by Wolfgang Peterson. After dodging a few thousand flaming arrows and carrying his dying father out of town on his back (nobigdeal), he and his crew took to the high seas, destined by Fate to found a new nation on the shores of Italy.

The goddess Juno (Zeus' wife and eternal bitch) plays the role of Roman cock-block, tormenting Aeneas and his crew with torrential weather and other unfair hurdles, motivated somewhat inexplicably by a hatred for all Trojans (perhaps anticipating later failed efforts at contraception? whatever.)

Aeneas and the boys play Deadliest Catch for about ten years, stopping here and there along the road to the glorious founding of Rome. One of the last stops before Italy is Carthage, a city-state located somewhere in modern-day Tunisia, which later became famous for the complete badassery of Hannibal, who after crossing the Alps on fucking elephant-back, took his crew to Rome and didn't even have the courtesy to take any names after kicking so much ass.

Anyways, Aeneas rolls into Carthage and finds Dido, known around the Mediterranean as the "hot" Queen; or alternatively, "I'd give her a 7/10" Queen."
Still quasi-mourning the loss of her husband Synchaeus (he died, and we're not supposed to care how), she's looking for a rebound real bad, and in rolls a dashing prince and soon-to-be founder of the greatest empire the world has ever seen with the boyish good looks of Hugh Grant, packin' heat with a sword and indubitably in his pants. Dido totally pulls a girl boner.

Juno and Venus (goddess of luuuuuv) pull a little ancient Match.com to hook the two up. Their motivations are clear. Juno really just wants to fuck with Aeneas, and sees the perfect opportunity to lay Dido's considerable emotional baggage on Aeneas' proverbial and literal ship. Venus always just wants to see people fuck. They send the two out on a "hunting mission" deep into the woods, blow in a massive thunderstorm which conveniently drops them right next to a cave.

Bow-chicka-Roman-bow-bow.

Now, true to form, Aeneas The Dude mostly considers this a notch on his belt, but tells Dido how in love he is with her and how gladly he'd forget about his Fate-driven, Gods-endorsed mission to birth a nation, and instead settle down with her. Dido The Chick considers their one-night cavestand DE FACTO MARRIAGE. She runs back to Carthage gabbing to all her girlfriends and starts picking out his and hers bath towels and shingles for their palace.

Zeus gets word of the whole thing and sends his mercenary Mercury (the dude with the wings on his shoes) to knock some sense into stud-muffin Aeneas. Reminded of his mission, and no doubt goaded by the fact that his crew has been chillin on the ship, probably deprived of ass while Aeneas got a taste of Carthaginian girls-gone-wild, Aeneas decides to peace out.

The epic literary break-up ensues. I'll spare you the actual text, but the conversation went something like this.

Dido: Aeneas!
Aeneas: Hey...
D: So, the wedding's on Friday, I love you so much, our union has the Gods' favor, I love you so much, I've been thinking we should name our son Dineas, I love you more than ever, do you think this cloth makes my hips...
A: Can I just interrupt for a second? So...you. You! I just want to say, you're great.
D: I love you!
A: Right. So...this...this has been fun, but I really gotta go.
D: Oh, are you on your way to the market? I need some wheat...
A: No, I mean leave. I'm leaving Carthage right now on my ship so that I can go found the most powerful Empire the world has ever seen.
D: What!?
A: ...Yeah.
D: But...but...(weepy)
A: (pause) Well good talk.
D: You asshole! I loved you!
A: And I had a great time too. But we both know it won't work out. It's not you, it's the gods. You know how it goes. They tell me jump, I ask how great and fated of a nation and where exactly in Italy. So...
D: I got divorced for you!
A: He was dead.
D: I'm gonna kill myself!
A: Right. g2g. kthnxbi.

And off he goes. Needless to say, Dido has a hard time getting over it, and a couple of days later, she decides to build a big fire, grab a sword, and fall on it. A little overboard, sure, but let's think about her options moving forward. Nobody wants to be the rebound of a rebound who was the Prince of Troy and progenitor of Rome. Doomed to be Aeneas' eternal sloppy seconds, no way man.

The best part happens a couple of books later. Aeneas finally arrives in Italy. No sooner does he drop his bags ashore when he encounters the Sibyl, basically an all-knowing lady-oracle who, like everyone the fuck else in the epic, has been "waiting for him." She tells him that the only way to proceed and fulfill his destiny is to descend into the Underworld, down to Hades the God of Death himself, see his past and view the future that is to come. Literary metaphor aside, this trip is a crossroads for Aeneas, crossing the barrier between past and present, life and death, Troy and Rome, Homer and Vergil. I know a thing or two about this part of the Aeneid, folks.

I wrote my fucking Senior Thesis about it. Good solid waste of time and paper, but that's college.

After some sacrificial stuff, Aeneas and The Sibyl do a swan-dive down into the Underworld, cross the river Styx (while "Come Sail Away" plays in the background), throw a bone at Cerberus the badass Three-Headed dog, and enter the realm of the damned.
These are the people who decided to take matters into their own hands and kill themselves, a spurn to the Gods for taking fate into their own hands. After perusing the usual suspects, among them Ajax, the great warrior/Schwarzenegger impersonator who bit his own bullet, guess who shows up?

Eeesh, it's Dido. Super. Duper. Awkward. Here's what happens:

Aeneas: Hey...Dido! What are the odds? Didn't expect to see you. (cough) How've you been?
(Dido looks down, no response)
A: Cool. So, what's been going on. I see you're dead now, jeez. Wait a minute, you're in the realm of the damned...did you...oh shit...you killed yourself?
(no response)
A: WTF? I'm sorry, ok? I mean, look, it's not my fault! I loved you so much. Really. I was going to stay, but I had to go found Rome, like I said. Shit shit shit you killed yourself god dammit. I mean, not God Dammit, but, rascals! I'm really sorry. Can you forgive me?
(no response)
A: Really, nothing? Just give me some kind of sign. Tell you what. Blink once if you forgive me. Blink twice if you don't.
(no response)
A: OK, well, my love for you is as strong as ever. Hey...maybe after I fight another 10 year war in Latium, found Rome, and bring glory to my ancestors, and can come back and we can-
(Dido walks away)

How about that shit? I think this is one of the coolest moments in all of Ancient literature.

Not a lot of what was written back then is relevant today. An example would be the sacrificial burning of dead bodies being perfectly legal and, in fact, encouraged. Or slavery. Or man-boy love. Or paying with your weight in salt. Or magical powers. But this is different.

If you've ever been dumped, like really dumped, like in a bad way that makes you hurt and wish you had never known the person and wished they would be hit by a truck, then this part of the Aeneid should make you really happy. Because I think we'd all love to be Dido here. Not in the sense of having committed suicide and spending at least 10 years in the Realm of the Dead before applying for parole to Paradise, no.

How much have you ever wanted to be Dido here? Your ex comes back to you. Wants you back. Sure, the right thing to do would be to forgive. But you know what? Sometimes you don't. Sometimes you're filled with anger and hatred and resentment that won't go away, and it feels good to tell that person to just go fuck themselves. And the most awesome way to do that is by saying nothing at all. Stone cold.

Hey, Aeneas: what's that? You're sorry? Well fuck you. I'm not even going to look at you. Go do whatever the hell you gotta do. Oh, and fuck you.

Way to go, Dido. Such a badass move, Vergil. Get that nose fixed.


Go and read The Aeneid. You can tell your friends, and they'll think you're smarter. And if you just got dumped, be sure to catch Book 6. It's a Song for the Dumped Ben Folds would be proud of.

Thanks for reading today.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Guest Blogger Jill Bernard: On (Winter) Biking

Jill Bernard is an improvisor who says "yay!" a lot. She taught me how to morph, like a Power Ranger. Go to her website, then buy her book. Or the other way around, that's fine too.

Max asked me to write a guest blog on biking a while ago, and I wasn't inspired until now. Why now? Because it's October in Minnesota, which means we're just weeks away from winter biking. Winter. Biking. It's a different beast. Summer biking is like an open mic, anyone can do it. Winter biking takes a level of seriousness.

First, you'll want to think about the tires. If you get skinny tires they have the advantage of cutting through snow like a blade. But when you slide, and you will slide, it's going to be spectacular. Suddenly you are Apolo Ohno, emphasis on the 'oh no'. Maybe you choose big fat tires with tread instead, but the treads fill with snow and the tire becomes a flat, slippery, surface – a round ski. Suddenly you're sliding again, less dramatically than before, but sliding nonetheless.

Biking down a city street one Thanksgiving eve, the buildings shielded me until I entered the intersection, and then the wind blew me into the middle of the street, sideways, directly into traffic. My direction did not change at all, I was merely suddenly five feet to the left. There is no stopping winter wind. It is bigger than you.

Your brakes. They won't work. Winter biking is about planning ahead. There's occasional Fred Flinstone braking, let's be honest. And snowbank braking, when absolutely necessary. Mainly, it's going as fast as you can to make headway while going as slow as you can so you have a chance in hell of stopping.

In terms of facewear, I skip the ski mask. It gets too hot, too itchy, and you look like a police sketch. I prefer a gaiter, even though I can't say gaiter without thinking of goiter. I wish they were called 'tube scarves' but it's just not catching on. I keep the gaiter over my face, pulling it down at stoplights to freeze my lungs with sharp breaths of air.

Your hands. They will be cold. When your knuckles are leading the way through a self-created airstream, no number of extra layers of gloves keeps you safe from peeling red knuckles you warm between your thighs at your final destination for as long as you can while no one's looking.

Once I was biking downtown and a bus driver slid open her little window to say, “I don't know if you know, but your ankle's showing.” She was right, I didn't know. My pants had slid out of my sock and an inch of flesh was exposed to the air. It was pink as a hibiscus and completely numb. As it came back to life under water in the restroom it prickled then burned. Exposure, that's the enemy of the winter biker. Exposure to cold, exposure to drivers who don't expect you and also can't really brake. Exposure to snow drifts that rust and snowplows that crush and snowstorms that temporarily blind. Exposure to brain freeze and flushed cheeks and hot sweat against cold air.


I winter-biked one year, in about 1997, just to see if I could do it. I did it, and then decided that was stupid, I would never do it again. I am considering it this year, not because I think it's any less stupid, but because I live just far enough away from the theaters to make walking and busing commutes seem too slow. Does a mile to and fro seem like a manageable amount of winter biking? Enough to wake you up but not enough to get you killed? It seems possible.


See you in the middle of the intersection.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Guest Blogger Andrew Murphy Davis: THIS JUST IN: HBO Hates Money, Loves Multiplying by 1.5!

Andrew Murphy Davis is my best friend and aficionado of all forms of media.


THE ISSUE.


As I sit here watching the Sopranos on A&E (at my parents’ house), I find myself less offended by the usual suspects (a preponderance of slipshod editing, bikini tops, and “bloodsuckers”), than by the original purveyor of this deservedly acclaimed series.


Fuck HBO. Fuck them. I’ve felt this way for quite some time, but with the premieres of Boardwalk Empire, Bored to Death, and Eastbound and Down (sit down and fucking watch it, Max) all aligned along a neat little hedgerow, it’s come to a head.

HBO has always been run by a bunch of pretentious cockbreaths, but their asshole tendencies have reached a fever pitch, which is to say that they’ve refined their dickwad practices to the point of art. Just as their showrunners (Simon, Chase, Milch, and others) have consistently raised the bar of a much-maligned medium, HBO has doggedly pursued excellence in the field of corporate arrogance and (as the French put it) “les doucherie."


Let me begin by saying that I will NEVER subscribe to HBO. I don’t even have basic cable, and I miss it like an acute anterior rash. But HBO is especially verboten for the following reasons:


1. Lifestyle porn (Sex and the City, Entourage), as a genre, is abhorrent, and I tend to avoid it.


2. No one can consider himself a man that says, "Sorry guys, I gotta go home and catch 'True Blood.'"


3. I highly doubt that anyone’s going to walk out of a Bret Easton Ellis novel and into my living room, poring over the minutiae of my home entertainment system and judging/murdering me accordingly.


4. One word: Netflix.


“But Andrew,” I can hear you saying, “for the same low monthly rate, you get Cinemax and its genre-slumming pals.” Turns out I don’t give a shit, because I can make a similar list... to the MAX:

  1. I’m not a particular fan of fake tits, dry humping, or synthesizer sax music, and also I know how the World Wide Web works, so Skinemax features hold little attraction for me.
  2. Watching "Alexander: the Final Cut" for a 15th time would be a tad excessive.
  3. “I really wanted to see Hancock at one of my five local multiplexes two summers ago, but there simply wasn’t time.”- This has never happened.


So it would behoove HBO to accept that they will never count me among their subscribers and start taking my money by other means. But they’re dicks, and being dicks matters more to them than making money. So here are the two main areas in which they have failed miserably at the deceptively simple practice of capitalism.


1. Downloads

With the Eastbound and Down premiere approaching, I casually investigated the possibility of watching it the way I currently watch the best show that television has ever had to offer ever: Mad Men. I would buy an iTunes season pass and watch every episode on the Monday following the Sunday on which it aired. But this is implausibly impossible.


HBO clearly doesn’t want my money, because they don’t offer downloads of any current shows. No, after a season has finished its run and pirated/DVD versions have dispersed, only THEN shall it be available. Because everyone loves to pay $2.99 a pop (more on that later) for something they can get for free or get from Netflix and rip (which is to say nearly free).


Speaking of the pecuniary question, comments on the iTunes pages for HBO’s shows are dominated by this and similar statements:

Putting aside the utter ridiculousness of comparison between inconvenient pricing of a television show and the securing of goods and services by threat of physical force, AND the idea that iTunes was the entity that deemed an episode of Entourage 50% more valuable than an episode of Breaking Bad, $2.99 for a 50 minute download in standard definition is fucking asinine. The only logical explanation for a web non-strategy so idiotic is branding. In following it HBO positions itself as a hip, web 2.0, (meaningless buzzword)-type company while offering nothing that competes with their omnipresent DVD box sets. Speaking of which...

2. DVD's

So I love certain seasons of HBO shows, to the point where I might consider paying to have them in my home at all times- portable and ready to play, rain or shine anytime, anywhere. What’s the answer? DVD box sets! What’s stopping me? They suck rancid donkey balls.


After running through the complete Sopranos, Deadwood, Wire, Flight of the Conchords, and (sigh) Rome by means of Netflix, I am relatively qualified in diagnosing what pieces of shit these DVD’s are. Let us begin at the beginning.


Before EVERY SINGLE EPISODE of EVERY SINGLE SHOW, HBO reminds us who brought us what we’re about to enjoy:


Out of an ocean of snow/static arrives a monolithic logo set to an angelic chorus- as if God himself is smiling upon the entertainment to follow.


What level of insecurity drives someone to this kind of figurative/not-quite-as-figurative branding? Taking a red-hot “HBO” iron to the quivering forehead of an unsuspecting episode of hard-hitting drama just to let everyone know it’s yours? Great job letting everyone know what a tiny penis you have, HBO.


Now the meat of the episode- which is green, rotten, and ugly. Artificial grain, washed out color and aliasing artifacts are de rigueur in all of these series. DVD transfer is science, not art, HBO- you get what you pay for, so stop being such insufferable skinflints.


Another area in which HBO gets its shit handed to it is in disc efficiency. Notice how other 13-episode drama seasons come as a 4-disc set? That’s because at least four 50-minute episodes can fit on a single disc with minimal compromise of quality made in the compression. But HBO seasons (at least until recently) came as 6-disk sets. Is it because their content is 50% more valuable? No- it’s because they only put two or three episodes on a disc and give extras their own disc so they can mark the set up by (you guessed it) 50%.


And though some may think this is a minor concern, the lack of a “play all” button (anywhere, ever) is evidence of a serious corporate personality disorder. So you’re blowing through the (singular) Wire season 4 and don’t want to stop for breath? Too bad, because HBO considers television a discrete, quantized medium and will make you go back to the fucking menu and see their fucking logo every fucking time.


TO CONCLUDE...


In fairness, none of this would be an issue if HBO didn’t produce some stellar content. If all it was capable of was entertaining trifles with above-average production values (Dexter, Weeds..-fuck it Showtime’s entire lineup), I could terminate our relationship with extreme prejudice. But I have decent taste, and they attract the talent. Thus, we arrive at an impasse.


HBO is aware of this, as their entire brand is based around challenging fare and creative freedom. But like all brands, at its heart lies a hypocrisy. Coca-Cola urges you to open happiness, rather than an ice cold can of sugar crashes, childhood obesity and sad Colombians. Nike has always associated itself with the purity of Primal Sport (“Africans Running,” as longtime CEO/chairman Phil Knight likes to call it), but what they sell is expensive body cargo that does nothing to improve performance or prevent injury. While HBO may sell itself as a salon extending complete freedom to creatives too edgy for networks or basic cable, and as a vendor for deeply personal, affecting material, it has what can only be called a compulsion to control every aspect of its consumption. Its end goal is for consumers to receive their content simultaneously and without intermediaries-by purchasing a monthly subscription. Nothing you want to watch this month? Fuck you, you’re getting it anyway. This archaic, purely hierarchical model of media distribution is antithetical to the progressive image they project. Absolute top-down control of the viewing experience also costs them money and is, therefore, anticapitalist, irrational, and perverse.


Plus, they passed on Mad Men. So fuck ‘em.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Changing of the Seasons


On Fall













I've been trying to construct an elaborate metaphor to describe just how much ass Fall kicks, but then I realized that to do so would inevitably fail to capture how epic it is, and so I will say to you simply that Fall is the Fall of seasons. There, now you get it.

If I were not prohibited by law due to several prior offenses, I would buy Fall a Surf-and-Turf dinner, put my leather jacket on a puddle so Fall wouldn't get its feet wet, bring Fall back to my place where I'd classily be burning Vanilla Yankee Candles with roses leading to a silk-sheeted bed, and proceed to give Fall a go-around like it's never had before.

Here's how it breaks down, in my book: Summer and Winter are stagnant seasons. Nothing productive happens- they just sit there, mostly pissing you off with extreme weather. Seriously, think about it: in Summer, shit just stays hot. Winter, cold. No changes, nothing pretty, just the same old bullshit every day.

Fall and Spring, on the other hand, are transitional seasons. During these times, we move between the lard-ass, couch-potato seasons. I prefer Fall for a few reasons: first, we're cooling off. The most rewarding moments of Summer are walking into an air-conditioned room from a sweltering, hotbox exterior space, right? Fall does that for us. It's cool, but not cold. Second, it's just beautiful. Leaves changing, sun moving further south in the sky and producing some amazing sunsets, cool breezes and crisp mornings.

Now, compare this with Spring. Indeed, there is something to be said for the re-birth, the perestroika, finding new life after the winter of death. Yet consider that if we look at Fall and Spring as aforementioned transitional seasons, Spring is the awkward puberty of the yearly lifecycle. The huge puddles of melted snow are the greasy, pimpled face of a budding teenager. Like teenage hands hesitantly probing sexual organs, Spring really doesn't know what the fuck it's doing, and so neither do we. Is it time to start biking? How about running outside? Is it even ready to be warm? Sometimes it just snows again, like a 13-year old that tonight just isn't the right time to jerk off for the first time to Skinemax, and instead pulls out a comic book, and jerks off to Wonder Woman...for the third time this week. Haven't you noticed how awkward it is to masturbate between April and June?

Fall, on the other hand, is the aging process: becoming older, wiser, less of a douche. Fall is not getting old, no; Winter is old, marching towards death, spending the last ten years of life in diapers, getting dementia and constantly asking that things that make noise be turned down.

Indeed, Summer brings with it the vigor of the mid 20's and 30's. Warm, strong, productive, re-productive. But Summer at its essence is a fucking yuppie; thinks its a real hot shot, invincible, infallible. Summer thinks way too highly of itself, and is setting itself up for a...

Fall, with it's slow and steady transition. It is a time of reflection. Life is and has been good. Don't worry, we still have time left to be great, be our solid selves; but it's time to chill out, mellow out, and enjoy the leaves. Gray hairs start to appear, we can't exercise or fuck like we used to, but whatever. We've got money and kids and a Subaru and a lake house, so let's enjoy it now before we get ready to die.

I don't know about you, but I'm looking forward both to the Fall of life and the life of Fall (please ignore the annoying pretension of that last sentence, and if you see me, punch me in the face for it.) I'm tempted to want Fall all year round, but you see, that would defeat the purpose. Fall is so great because of the failings of its surrounding seasons.

So I'll take my wintry Medicare, my Spring boners in science class, my Summer power-lunches. Then I'll sit on the porch and drink a single-malt in Fall.

Thanks for being awesome, Fall. And I promise, after dinner, I'll use protection so you won't end up getting super preggers or contracting FallAids. (ha. pronounced "fuh-LAIDS.")

Thanks for reading today!

BT DUBS
1. Seriously? Why hasn't everyone realized how ball-numbingly stupid Facebook relationships are? Do the pros of declaring your relationship on an already masturbatory social network really outweigh the cons of the incredible awkwardness of becoming "single" again and allowing your stupid friends to comment things like "watch out, ladies!", "oh, no, what happened?", "don't worry, you'll bounce back" or "there's plenty of fish" in the fucking "sea." They don't. Witnessing facebook relationship developments makes me want to stick toothpicks stained with scabies into my retinas. STOP DOING THIS. Friends, if your relationship needs validation on Facebook, break up now.

2. I think I finally appreciate capitalism. Why? Because I am starting to hate people who get pissed off at having to pay for goods or services. I'm also generally upset by people who choose to purchase things and then demand royal beejer treatment for their actions. Consumers seem to forget that their money, especially discretionary money, can be spent anywhere. Some people don't understand that extra stuff generally means paying extra, because, you know, shit really isn't free.

3. Update 9/19/10: all party buses traveling along Hennepin still have not been rigged with explosives. I remind all: the longer they live, the higher the chances we will kill them, so let's just get this over with now.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Guest Blogger Andrew Murphy Davis: Captions for My Photos of Atlanta

Andrew Davis arrived at Carleton College in the fall of 2004 and soon thereafter was known as "Murphy Davis." While the reasons for this are not widely known, the general consensus is that "Andrew" is a bullshit name and the world is more likely to be pwned by a dude named "Murphy." And true to that form, Murphy generally rocks the shit out of whatever he's doing at the moment. He was my neighbor freshman year and my roomate Sophomore and Senior years. The most important thing to know about him is that, at any given time, he is really pumped about one of the following: an upcoming movie, video game, television season premiere, album, comic book or graphic novel, natural phenomenon, or video game. He was raised in a small town in South Carolina and readily acknowledges how much (insert your lame-ass thing here) blows ass.

I was fortunate to spend a week with him recently at his home in Atlanta. Over the course of this trip, I took several pictures. Murphy has been kind enough to provide the captions. Enjoy.

ATLANTA: WHERE THE MEN ARE STRONG,
THE WOMEN ARE SWEATY,
AND IT RAINS COKE-ZERO

"A woman asked us: 'Who's Tim and Eric?' I said, 'He's Tim and I'm 'Go Fuck Yourself.' Then she took our picture."


"What's that Max? You want one? Well maybe you should bring your ID next time like one of the big kids."



"I approve of any place selling anything by the slab."


"What is good in life? To see your potatoes mashed, see them made into salad before you, and hear the lamentations of the women..."


"...followed by a convivial Coke Z."

"At the time, Max said this was 'very Wes Anderson.' But now all I can see is the 'enter' arrow getting all up in his business.'"


"This is a one of the whale sharks the Georgia Aquarium has managed not to starve to death. Give them some time."



"GRAAA!!!!"

"Max has crabs. Crabs a meter wide feeding on seafloor detritus."


"AAARGH!!!!"

"These seals are basically like fuzzy underwater torpedoes that HATE YOU."

"A woman asked us (in front of this and many other nearly identical fish), in all seriousness, if we knew which ones were Piranhas. 'Certainly not, madam. These are insufficiently ferocious.'"

"Here we share a cold one with the inventor of Coca-Cola (and anticipator of Coke Zero.) Truly, a life well-spent: in pursuit of flavor."

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Guest Blogger John Heydinger: "Last Note from the Last Frontier"

BERRY PICKING:
"SO LONG, IT'S BEEN GOOD TO KNOW YA"



















Out surveying vegetation in an area wetland last week, I was introduced to the cloudberry by a friend and co-worker.

Now, I have next to no botany experience and generally wouldn't trust myself to grab an assortment of tasty-looking foliage and include it in my diet. However I was assured that we on the Kenai Peninsula are in the midst of berry season, and the summer is drawing to a close.

So with a slightly used yogurt container in hand, I set off across the bog in search of my quarry. The cloudberry itself looks like a multi-berry explosion and goes by the latin name rubus chamaemorus meaning something along the lines of "grounded mulberry". When ripe they have a pale orange color and can only be described as just this side of tart; the sort of delicacy that takes a couple of tries before you develop a taste for it.

Searching along the spruce outcroppings surrounding our bog I was able to pluck enough cloudberries, and to my wonder and surprise, blueberries, to make up the bulk of my lunch. Returning to my work in the afternoon I inquired to my knowledgeable friend about the prospect for making my own cloud and blueberry jam. After a ten minute explanation involving implements such as cheesecloth and ingredients like pemmican, I decided that perhaps the whole process was a little more than I wanted to undertake in my last week in Alaska.

I guess I just don't have what it takes to go native up here.

It is getting colder up here (though it was never particularly warm to begin with) and nights are taking on a decidedly darkening pallor. (That is to say that night is actually becoming night-like for the first time in months.) Already there is an unmistakable aura of autumn and that is my cue to exit, stage south. The bears have retreated from the salmon streams and are gorging themselves of berries for the coming long, dark cold - the kind of place that a true Minnesotan might feel right at home in their despondent Lutheran Winter, when all anybody can do is not complain and hope that things will get better. Though unquestionably a Minnesotan, I have no patience for such Midwestern virtues, for I have seen places where the sun shines everyday and do not wish to resign myself to our particular brand of fatalism.

The bears are going away and so shall I.
We each make our retreats
to more comfortable climes;
they to there dens, and me back home.














Thanks to the Last Jew Standing for encouraging these posts over the summer.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Guest Blogger Jill Bernard: "I Was A Leaf"


Jill Bernard is an improvisor and a jar of olives. She likes living in Minneapolis although she does travel around the country, mostly to places where they don't have a lot of improv. She is my friend, and not only when she's coaching me organic improv. She eats organic improv because it's raised without harsh pesticides and the improv is treated humanely.

The following occurred yesterday, Friday The 13th. Jill woke up and was a leaf hanging from a tree. After realizing what she had become, she was confident in her place in the world, as a leaf, ne'er to be shaken from her given tree.
No one was around except the other leaves and the tree, but legend has it that this is what happened.


"Autumn is for assholes.
That'll never happen to me.
Imma stay on this tree.

foeva!
Man, it's getting windy.
Wha?
AAHHHH!!!!"


www.jillbernard.com

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Like Sands Through the Hourglass, this is The Epic Live-Tweet of Days of Our Lives


holy shit! everything's coming together! days of our lives!
about 1 hour ago via TweetDeck

according to the internet...

Faithful viewers have been watching Days of Our Lives since it debuted on November 8, 1965. Days takes place in the fictional midwestern town of Salem, with most scenes shot at University Hospital or the Brady Pub. Today, Salem is home to the respectable Horton and Brady families, as well as the evil DiMeras. Since the show debuted more than 40 years ago, matriarch Alice Horton has been portrayed by award-winning actor Frances Reid. In the 1980s, the "Salem Stalker" and "Salem Slasher" brought romantic adventure to the forefront, while in the 1990s, Dr. Marlena Evans-Black (Deidre Hall) was possessed by the devil.

Thursday, August 5th, 2009

twitter.com/lastjewstanding

when i see commercials for Vagisil, I wonder: would the world accept the product "Penisil"? How about Penisillin?
about 2 hours ago via TweetDeck

comforting to see the exact same intro as when the show premiered...also wishing LBJ was still president, because maybe this show would make some fucking sense in the context of The Great Society.
about 2 hours ago via TweetDeck

Sierra: "mommy? why aren't you coming back?"
about 2 hours ago via TweetDeck

mommy: "mommy did something wrong. I am very sorry. Sorry that I didn't believe what you told me about the wallets and mommy's lipstick."
about 2 hours ago via TweetDeck

"I'll be back someday." -Sierra: "Mommy, is someday a long time?" -Mommy: "I think so." Obvi. These are the days...of our lives....
about 2 hours ago via TweetDeck

I hope the guy who wrote the score for "bum bum BUMMM" gets royalties every time DOOL uses it
about 2 hours ago via TweetDeck

creepy nun in a hospital, moonlighting as nurse, i can only assume
about 2 hours ago via TweetDeck 


“dr.” scott: (scared woman behind curtain,) your surgeon relies on me and my input. open the curtain for me and let's take a look.
about 2 hours ago via TweetDeck

hair-gel addled Brady: I want to talk about this five million bucks. -Shannon: "there were lots of other men, men that I loved, but not the way I loved you."
about 2 hours ago via TweetDeck

Shannon: "you even forgave me for switching Mia's baby with Sammy's. give me one more chance, Brady." Yeah, Brady, give her another chance.
about 2 hours ago via TweetDeck

every commercial during DOOL assumes viewers have either a. asthma b. overactive bladder c. massive debt d. all of above. All caused by watching DOOL? How can it not be?
about 2 hours ago via TweetDeck
dr. scott is just trying to "see" the woman behind the curtain. something's fishy here. musical score reaffirms this.
about 2 hours ago via TweetDeck 


we’ve reached the half-way point, and Sierra still has been given no clear answer as to why mommy is going away
about 2 hours ago via TweetDeck

what is this goddamn nun doing in a hospital? What is she, some kind of nun-nurse hybrid? There's no catheter training at the Convent, last time I checked
about 2 hours ago via TweetDeck

dr. scott: miss, do I know you? if we've met, this will not change how I assess your condition. I get a sense you want my help. about 2 hours ago via TweetDeck

alright, Sierra. mommy's gotta go. mommy, go and do your time. for serious. just do it. Let's all just move on from this.
about 2 hours ago via TweetDeck

Brady: "that's great that you love me, Shannon, but i want you to do something special for me. Come down to the police station with me."
about 2 hours ago via TweetDeck

Grandma: "whatever is going wrong, i know damn well it's your fault Bo!"
about 1 hour ago via TweetDeck

Brady's being a real dick about Shannon bringin' in 5mil through illicit means. Get down from your Axe Body Spray infused Ivory Tower, Brades.
about 1 hour ago via TweetDeck

Grandma really having a hard time understanding....no matter what though, it's Bo's fault. Fucking Bo.
about 1 hour ago via TweetDeck

FAVORITE LINE OF THE SHOW ALERT!

nameless detective: "he's committed some mean stuff. i'm talkin' life in prison kind of stuff." -Brady: "sounds crazy." -detective: "yeah i like it, myself."
about 1 hour ago via TweetDeck

fuck yeah! Beggin Strips commercial! That dog's on bacon-crack! BEGGIN!
about 1 hour ago via TweetDeck

Jesus f-ing Christ, Sierra. mommy's gone, get over it.
about 1 hour ago via TweetDeck


And so it ended. Wasn't expecting a cliffhanger ending to this episode. Suppose that's how the show keeps going for 55 years. 'Til next time, Brady, Shannon, Mommy, Sierra, Bo, Grandma, Detective, Dr. Scott, grossly misplaced Nun, and frightened woman behind the curtain. Continue to keep it real.