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Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Internally Exploding

- Sometimes when I'm playing music on iTunes, I watch as the timer counts backwards to zero and become increasingly concerned that the band won't finish the song in time.

- When I fill in crossword puzzles or sudoku squares, often I pretend I need to finish within a certain amount of time or else someone -- a friend, a family member -- will die.

- When crossing a street, if I see a car coming at me from a few blocks away I'll keep my eyes looking straight ahead as I continue to slowly walk. Then I convince myself the car has sped up and may hit me moments before I make it to the opposite curb.

- The extremely infrequent times I go in a pool, when climbing up the ladder out of the deep end I pause on the second-to-last rung so only my shins-down are submerged. Then I worry someone will grab my ankles and pull me under.

All of this comes from: when I was young, my mother, sister, and I would gather all of my stuffed animals and we'd huddle together on the stairs in our house. Meanwhile, my father would be roaming the first floor wearing an old man mask -- one of those rubber ones that look pretty realistic and terrifying (especially when the mask wearer would stick their tongue out through the mouth hole... shudder...) -- ready to scare us. The idea was, the stairs were a safe haven. And the way the walls were, when you were on the stairs you couldn't see the rest of the house -- it was basically a diagonally-inclined hallway -- so my father was somewhere out there. In the living room? Right around the corner? Who could know for sure? All we knew was at some point, a terrifying old man was going to jump out and scare the bejesus out of us. But here's where the real fun started. My sister and I were still at that age where our stuffed animals were personified. They all had their own character traits and quirks. They were our friends. And so when I would throw Kermit down to the bottom of the stairs, away from the safety of the stairwell and my mother and exposed to the horrors of the old man, I couldn't leave him there. I had to save him. Which, of course, meant I had to sneak down to the bottom, hope against hope that the kooky scary old man wasn't right there, just around the corner waiting for someone to rescue Kermit -- using Kermit (my own friend!) like a worm on a hook -- so he (the terrifying old man) could jump out and terrorize me. My heart would beat faster and faster as I went down each step until I would finally make a mad dash to where my green buddy lay, grab him, and furiously scramble up the stairs to our sanctuary. It was horrifying. It was terrifying. It was wonderful.

I felt like I was going to explode.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Why? Because Like That Joan Jett Song Says Is Why

I'm enough of a music nerd to really get into this. A friend sent me this: you're supposed to put your music player on shuffle (how presumptuous!) and the songs that play answer the questions.

1) How am I feeling today?

"Bitter Tears" by INXS
In the mist
Of my endless search
The best in life
Becomes clear
The rest just begins
To fade by itself
That's a trick I learnt
Though it took so long
Bitter tears taste so sweet

Optimistic, apparently, that the good will stay and the bad will go away - despite feeling bad right now.

2) Will I get far in life?

"Aquemini" by OutKast
Even the sun goes down heroes eventually die
Horoscopes often lie and sometimes "Y"
Nothing is for sure, nothing is for certain, nothing lasts forever

The song version of: "Too hazy to tell now. Ask again later." How ominous.

3) How do my friends see me?

"Honey Pie" by the Beatles
Honey pie you are making me crazy
I'm in love but I'm lazy
So won't you please come home
Oh honey pie my position is tragic
Come and show me the magic
Of your Hollywood song

A legend of the silver screen? (I wish.) Obviously this is my New York friends wishing I'd move back 'cross country. Though they should move out here.

4) Where will I get married?

"Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah" by the Pogues


5) What is my best friend's theme song?

"Deltron 3030" by Deltron (Del tha Funkee Homosapien and Dan the Automator)

This really should have been the Tragically Hip or a Kings of Leon tune. I can't for the life of me justify this one. It's got a spacey, soaring sound and odd futuristic lyrics about crimes against an oppressive government involving technology. It's very Blade Runner or Minority Report. As a finance person for a record label, my best friend hates music piracy, and while I don't think that's what the song is about, if it was it would run counter to his position. Maybe he's not my best friend?

6) What is the story of my life?

"Polly" by the Kinks

The Prodigal Son. Apparently I left home after defying my parents, led a wild and crazy lifestyle in the big city, was the toast of the town and known by all, realized what a mistake it was, and moved back home, apologizing for my behavior. Well, I can't wait for the "swinging scene" part of my life to begin.

7) What is/was high school like?

"If That's Alright" by Uncle Tupelo

Every day is dreamlike
It seems like,
In every way
And that's why
When I look back on my life
It's like a slideshow out of focus

I drank a lot, but not that much. There's also a rueful tone in the way Jeff Tweedy sings that doesn't apply. I did get a concussion playing soccer once, and I don't remember much of that day... it's pretty hazy and weird and dreamlike.

8) How can I get ahead in life?

"Garageland" by the Clash

By not selling out; by staying true to my beliefs. Sneer at those with lesser conviction:

Back in the garage with my bullshit detector
Carbon monoxide making sure it's effective
People ringing up making offers for my life
But I just wanna stay in the garage all night
Contracts in the offices, groups in the night
My bummin' slummin' friends have all got new boots
An' someone just asked me if the group would wear suits

9) What is the best thing about me?

"Soft Serve" by Soul Coughing

Clearly this is a reference to my odd, yet descriptive, imagery in my writing. Or, people are using me assuming I have access to delicious soft serve.

10) How is today going to be?

"Bright Day" by Jack Drag

Well then, there you go.

11) What is in store for this weekend?

"The Book I Read" by the Talking Heads

I do plan on reading a lot. Of course, there is the whole underlying idea of reading someone else like a book and taking advantage of them:

Feel my fingers as they
Touch your arms
I'm spinning around but I feel alright
The book I read was in your eyes

Followed by a slightly-taunting "Na-na-na-na-na" repeated over and over again. So maybe I'll seduce and take advantage of someone.

12) What song describes my parents?

"School" by Nirvana

Oh yeah, my parents loved Kurt Cobain. The fact that that Nirvana was the band of my social formative years - Nevermind came out when I was in 8th grade and so I was the perfect age at the perfect time to be totally swept up by them - was a really pleasant thing for my parents to have experienced. Also, the school sucks! message of the song pretty much sums up their anti-education stance.

Won't you believe it
It's just my luck
No recess
You're in that school again

Or, you know, not.

13) My grandparents?

"Femme Fatale" by R.E.M. (Velvet Underground cover)

Did my grandmother(s) seduce my grandfather(s) and us them? I don't equate my grandmothers with vampy spider women. Though one of my grandfathers cheated on my grandmother, and the other grandmother was married to a gay man for a weekend before the marriage was annulled (not consummated... he was gay, after all... loooong story). So, maybe "Homme Fatale" would be better?

14) How is my life going?

"Hypnotize" by the White Stripes

And though I knew you weren't home
I didn't mind so much 'cause I'm so alone
I want to hypnotize you baby
On the telephone

Depressing... I need to trick the girl I love into loving me back. Though this song implies I lead a rip-roarin' rockin' life.

15) What song will they play at my funeral?

"Stop Dat" by Dizzee Rascal

My funeral is gonna fuck with people's heads.

16) How will the world see you?

"Fillet-O-Rapper" by MF Doom

A jokester genius! Rad.

17) Will I have a happy life?

"All the Wine" by the National

I'm put together beautifully
Big wet bottle in my fist, big wet rose in my teeth
I'm perfect piece of ass
All the wine is all for me.
I'm a birthday candle in a circle of black girls
God is on my side

Sounds like a pretty happy life to me. I mean, black girls and God! This song is basically about a guy being drunk and happy. I'll take it.

18) What do my friends really think of me?

"Four Sticks" by Led Zeppelin

Jon Bonham used four drumsticks on this song, ergo, my friends must really think I'm an unbelievable genius prodigy. Also, that I always run away from people:

Oh, Baby, it's cryin' time, Oh, Baby, I got to fly.
Got to try to find a way, got to try to get away,
'Cause you know I gotta get away from you, babe.

Fair enough.

19) Do people secretly lust after me?

"The Big Country" by the Talking Heads

Interpreting my interpretation of this song as it pertains to the question:

As we're flying 'cross country, somewhere over Nebraska:
ME: Hey! Do you lust after me?
NARRATOR: Um... Hey, look out the window! Farmland!

Your silence on the subject speaks volumes.

20) How can I make myself happy?

"Tear Out My Eyes" by Tricky

I wanna take my clothes off
Tear my mouth and nose off
And take out my eyes
I deserve to die because of lies
It's crazy lies
We have to die because of lies

A lot of people are dying for lies today. World affairs and the current administration do not make for happy thoughts. Mutilation to the point of separating myself from the world is one way to go, I suppose...

21) What should I do with my life?

"Wonderwall" by Paul Anka (Oasis cover)

Be a cheesy shithead? (DISCLAIMER: My interpretation is biased. I've had a, um... run-in let's say, with Paul Anka. Fuck that fucking fuck.) Maybe I should have told that asshole off even more? ("Today is gonna be the day / That they're gonna send it back to you")

22) Will I ever have children?

"The Big Three Killed My Baby" by the White Stripes

Yes, but they will die as a result of rampant capitalism as represented here by the automobile industry. Probably.

23) What is some good advice for me?

"Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Pt. 1" by the Flaming Lips

Stay strong and fight evil. Never quit.

... a black belt in karate
Working for the city
She has to discipline her body
Cuz she knows that
It's demanding
To defeat those evil robots

24) What is my signature dancing song?

"Graceland" by Paul Simon

Holy crap, I am a cracker-ass cracker. How white can I be?

25) What do I think my current theme song is?

"In This Home on Ice" by Clap Your Hands Say Yeah

Now that I'm so sad and not quite right
I could dance all night
I could dance all night

Apparently to my Paul Simon song... But this really is a lovely song. If it preceded me everywhere I went, I could dig it.

26) What does everyone else think my current theme song is?

"Theme From New York, New York" by Frank Sinatra

WTF?!?! I'm a Mets/Orioles fan, I hate the Yankees!

27) What kind of men/women do you like?

"Mother's Little Helper" by the Rolling Stones

Depressed homemakers on pills.

28) Do you enjoy meat?

"Wonderwall" by Oasis

Two versions of this song came up on the shuffle play this close togteher? I don't know if this is a song to vegetarianism about the evils of eating red meat (i.e. "I said maybe / You’re gonna be the one to save me") or what.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Art v. Love

So my kickball teammate the Constant Gardner is hosting the final round of an Everything Idol contest. Random things, concepts, and creations have gone against each other and put to a vote over the past few months to determine the Greatest Thing Ever. The two finalists are Love and Art.

Not all of the "things" in the Everything Idol contest were abstract concepts. Off the top of my head, some of the others vying for Greatest Thing Ever were Neutral Milk Hotel's album In the Aeroplane Over the Sea, Christmas, "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" by Mark Twain, and the pulley. It was quite a mish-mash.

But anyways, it's down to Love v. Art. I don't see how anyone can argue against both of them deserving to be here, but you can argue about which deserves to win.


To a lot of people it's all that matters in life. It's an emotion associated with one's most intense and important relationships. Friends, family, and significant others. In the spirit of what I believe Gardner means by "Love," I see it manifesting itself in three ways: phile, eros, and agappe; or, friendship, romance, and selflessness. The first two are obvious. The third has a very religious -- specifically Christian -- connotation, as in giving yourself fully to God, but I think this kind of love can also be used to categorize love or devotion to a greater cause, or even Humanity itself. Like Mother Theresa or the Dalai Lama. Or, even in some horrible twist of the concept, that guy at the bar in the Lakers shirt and the face painted purple and yellow. In all three cases, Love makes you feel better because you find meaning and comfort from without. You are not alone within yourself. Love can turn a bad day into a good day, and make a horrible day bearable. Like J, P, G & R said, "all you need is love."

But there's a dark side. When love goes away, the loneliness and sadness can be overwhelming. The horrible feelings are so horrendously horrible; its sudden absence a constant reminder of what was, and what was good. Similarly, the feelings you have for someone/-thing out of Love can act as an Achilles heel: when bad things happen to those we love, you feel it 10x stronger, it seems. Seeing someone you love in pain is so much worse than when you feel pain. A much lesser poet than the ones previously mentioned has said: "love is suicide." And make no mistake, before you reap the benefits of Love, you'll receive its boot in the face. Over and over and over again.

Also, not everyone finds love in this world. And, even worse, "Love" can be perverted and misunderstood and twisted and make people do all kinds of fucked up shit. Love is powerful going in both directions.


I believe Music was it's own thing in the Everything Idol contest, so here I take Art to imply painting, sculpture, drawing... the visual arts. Or, rather, more "traditional" visual arts since I'm also pretty sure movies had their own category. Art can inspire a range of feelings, and can accompany you on your road to happiness or comfort you in your despair. Art has a dual nature in that it reflects the world onto the viewer at the same time the viewer puts into Art his/her own understanding of things. Or, Art can allow you to escape the world as you fall into the canvas or get lost in the nooks and crannies of a sculpture. A Picasso painting can awe you; a Dali painting can confuse you; a Lichtenstein painting can make you laugh; a Basquiat painting can make you think. Art is a hobby, a business, or a calling. Great art is astounding. Think of Pablo Picasso's Guernica or Vincent Van Gogh's Starry Night. Two obvious examples, but they both really are great, and they both do a lot for the viewer. Plus, art can pop up anywhere. The cover of a magazine, the tile mosaic in a NY subway station, hanging on a wall, or drawn with chalk on the sidewalk. These surprises can alter your mood and change the momentum of your day.

Plus there's everything Art does for the artist. It allows you to express your feelings, frustrations, politics and ideology, opinions on specific topics, or just recreate a really pretty flower. It can calm you. It can define your life and leave your mark on the world long after you're gone. For most artists, it's not even something they choose to do: it is them. All of this from a few strokes of a brush or the manipulation of some stone.

On the other hand, there's a lot of bad art. Offensively bad. Art that doesn't do anything but waste people's time and hurt people's eyes. Ultimately pointless creations wasting time, energy, and resources. I suppose everything is relative and so we need the bad art to provide a definition of "good art" but still, one downfall of Art is that it's not guaranteed to be good. Also, a pessimist could argue that there is an inherent impotency with Art. Sure, Guernica is awe-inspiring and hauntingly beautiful and epic in proportion, but all those people in Spain are still dead. The truth is Franco allowed Hitler to bomb the city, and the people are gone. Poof! As far as remembrances go, Picasso's painting is a lovely one, but I think those people and their families would rather have them back alive. (Of course, the obvious retort to this is well, by keeping the memory alive the Art "will not let us forget," to steal the rallying cry of 9/11. And in fact, I'm sure there is/will be a lot of really truly beautiful stuff to commemorate that infamous day. But again, Art is kind of powerless to do anything but make us "remember" and in this fucked up world, do we really expect People to change? I mean, people-with-a-lowecase-p as in specific people will certainly change and be profoundly altered, but People-with-a-capital-P as in mankind will always consist of asshats and douchebags.) What can Art really do?


So which way will I vote? What do I think deserves the title of Greatest Thing Ever? Well, another thing to consider is that Love, as an emotion, is more basic and fundamental than Art. Art evokes feelings, but Love is a feeling. In fact, Love is a term and concept that can be associated with Art -- a painting can remind the viewer of a loved one and conjure up all kinds of memories and feelings associated with this loved one. And this is a very powerful thing, but isn't it really the resulting emotion being evoked, i.e. the Love in this particular case, that makes the experience of looking at that specific piece of Art so worthwhile? This seems like a chicken and egg argument, but it's not. In the Art-Love Wars, if there is no Love, then a painting *about* Love would never evoke such a feeling. The Art is there, but the feeling is not. However, if there is Love, then that Love is always there.

But another thing to consider would be: if Love has been lost, then this Art-about Love painting would conjure up all kinds of bad sentiments and feelings. Whose fault is that? The Art's? Or Love's? If Love hadn't done such a good job of messing the viewer up, then the Art wouldn't have stirred up the stinking wretchedness. There would have been no real reaction upon first looking at the painting. Maybe the viewer would have *misread* the Art and gotten a whole different meaning out of it.

And still another thing to consider: returning to the idea that Love is a more fundamental notion than Art, is that even necessarily true? The urge to create Art has clearly been imprinted into Man from the beginning of time. Just look at the cave drawings. The need to express oneself is a pretty basic and fundamental part of what it is to be Human, and the Art that results from the creation process is this primal urge of Expression and Creation brought to its logical conclusion.

And still another thing to consider is: if you take away Art, and you take away Love, which will impact you more? Which would be worse to live without?

All of this has been me trying to logically work my way through the question: which is the Greatest Thing Ever, Love or Art? But you can't logically speak about Love or Art. Love is an emotion. There is no objectivity with it, it's all subjective. That's sort of inherently built into the idea. Logically speaking, Romeo and Juliet were idiots. But I get it. And Art? I can understand why certain pieces of art are good, but that doesn't mean I react well to them overall. Since I know music better, try this: I know that there's some really great jazz out there. Intellectually, I get that some of it is almost ridiculously good, so good that it's almost incomprehendable that a human being could create it. But I just don't care about jazz. I don't really appreciate it. Another example of why trying to be logical about this Art v. Love debate is foolish is exhibited by the existence "guilty pleasures." I am well aware of the fact that Billy Joel is kind of cheesy. But, I also can't help but love "Scenes from an Italian Restaurant" even though it's a little over-the-top and too much. I'm embarrassed by how much I love that song. But that's the way it is. Logic has nothing to do with it.

So despite the fact that I had an agenda, and tried to logically argue for Art over Love, I can't do it. I just really love my friends and family too much to trivialize the connection I have with them by relegating it to anything but the Greatest Thing Ever.

EDIT: Today Gardner put up one branch of an argument for Art, claiming that Art helps us understand Love. He used songs to explain this line of reasoning. I thought that was interesting since in my arguments I posited that the Love would have to be there to understand the Art. Then I claimed Art v. Love seemed like a chicken and egg type thing, but actually wasn't. In light of Gardnet's post, now I wonder if it really is. This is tricky!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

No Business Like...

Finally. I have 5 minutes.

The past few weeks have been pretty busy for me. We're in the middle of pilot season and are actually producing a pilot this year, so the hours at the office have been long. In a city where everyone wants to be an act-or/-ess, who knew casting was so difficult? A couple of years ago I worked on a pilot that was shut down a couple of days before we were supposed to start production because they couldn't cast a couple of the roles. When the producer told us why we were shutting down, my friend looked at me and said, "Can't find actors? Give me a dead cat, I'll go to a restaurant and swing it. I guarantee I'll find them some actors." Except it's not that simple. Everyone has to be just right. It's not enough to simply be a good actor. They're judged on their looks, height, attitude, how different their look/height/attitude is from other already-cast actors. I kind of dislike actors immensely, but I sort of understand why they're such fragile, insecure people, despite the beauty and lifestyle. And then producers, casting agents, studio execs, network execs all have their own "it" in their minds for what the roles need, and sometimes these "its" come into conflict. Then you find someone you like, and the contract negotiations begin. If they fall apart, back to square one.

But anyways, the pilot got cast at the 11th hour and we had a table read and so things are moving forward.

Except now that casting hell is over, production has started. I show up at the office between 9 and 9:30, which is great except I get home at 9 at night. Which, again, is fine -- I really don't mind the hours -- but then I need to make dinner, and clean up, and there's laundry, and my car needs some work done on it, and God knows when I'm ever going to get to the bank because I can't leave the office, and I have reading to catch up on.

And then there's my own writing with my writing partner which I've been really bad about lately and need to start getting serious about. It is, after all, my raison d'etre out here in Los Angeles. If I'm not actively trying to "make it" I may as well get the hell out of here.

But so anyways, take this as a very long apology for why this blog hasn't been updated. I have stuff to say, but no time to say it.

Monday, April 03, 2006

No One Else Cares

This Wednesday, at 1:23am and 1:23pm, it will be 1:23 4/5/06.