Tuesday, February 26, 2008

How to Draw Me When I was in College

To show the world what great guys Cyber D and Guyuss Baaltar were back in 1992, I have decided to give the world instructions on how draw a picture of myself when I was in college. This way, everyone will know what type of person they were befriending when they opened their muscled arms for a warm manly-but-not-too-manly embrace.

You have to remember, the largest aspiration of my life up to and including my college years, was to become a Wookie.

How to Draw Me When I was in College

1. Draw a circle.

2. Draw lines coming every which way out from the circle.

3. Add glasses, facial hair, and a smile.

4. Flourish with color.

Now, say, "You look like an interesting guy. I will now be your friend."

A Website So Funny That It Hurts

Here is a confession - despite my best efforts, I am the whitest white guy in the whitey history of white sales. Honestly, I can walk into any room and make everyone crack up by trying to be cool in a non-pasty-man way. In fact, the last time I tried to be cool in a non-pasty-man way, I did my best pimp slide into a room and addressed the assembled populous with a jaunty little, "Whad up, Home Slice? I be chillin' wid the ladies TONIGHT!" and the result was NOT an evening spent chillin' wid the ladies, unless "chillin wid the ladies" can be defined as, "having everyone laugh at you until one of them accidentally released two drops of pee."

So imagine my surprise when I found out about this blog called Stuff That White People Like while listening to NPR.

And, wouldn't you know it, NPR is the Number 44 item on the blog.

The website is supposed to act as a primer when interacting and/or gaining the trust of white people. And we all know the best way to get close to white people is to show an interest in Stuff That White People Like.

I read entire site in a single evening, the entries were that compelling. And, for the most part, I didn't feel like arguing. The site is a great piece of satire, and like all great satire, some parts hurt a little.

I have included excerpts from some of my favorite entries below. Click the links to read the entries, or, better yet, just go to the site and read through it.

#18 Awareness - This one is BY FAR my favorite of the bunch. At one time, I was going to write a similar blog entry but now I don't have to.
An interesting fact about white people is that they firmly believe that all of the world’s problems can be solved through “awareness.” Meaning the process of making other people aware of problems, and then magically someone else like the government will fix it.
#75 Threatening to Move to Canada
Though they will never actually move to Canada, the act of declaring that they are willing to undertake the journey is very symbolic in white culture. It shows that their dedication to their lifestyle and beliefs are so strong, that they would consider packing up their entire lives and moving to a country that is only slightly similar to the one they live in now.

#12 Non-Profit Organizations - Oh, almost all my friends an a lot of my relatives work for non-profits. So, yeah, this one stung.
They like working there for a number of reasons, the most important of which is that it gives them a sense of self importance. This is important so that they can tell their friends and parents that they are “helping” society, and not just working to make money.

#16 “Gifted” Children - Oh, this stings.
I’m pretty sure the last non-gifted white child was born in 1962 in Reseda, CA. Since then, it’s been a pretty sweet run.

#17 Hating their parents - It was a phase! I promise! Just a phase!
White people love to talk about how much they hate their parents, so if you are in a situation where you need to gain a white person’s trust, ask them about their parents. But under no circumstances should you try to one up them, regardless of whether or not you were an orphan, abused, or watched your parents get shot. If you bring this up, the white person will never talk to you about their problems again, and you will be unable to gain their trust.

#32 Vegan/Vegetarianism
As with many white people activities, being vegan/vegetarian enables them to feel as though they are helping the environment AND it gives them a sweet way to feel superior to others.

#21 Writer’s Workshops - Ouch. I really felt the hurt from this one.
It’s no secret. White people want to be writers. Why wouldn’t they? Work 10 hours a week from a country house in Maine or England. Get called a genius by other white people, and maybe get your book made into a film.

#62 Knowing what’s best for poor people

They feel guilty and sad that poor people shop at Wal*Mart instead of Whole Foods, that they vote Republican instead of Democratic, that they go to Community College/get a job instead of studying art at a University.

#38 Arrested Development - Another big ouch.
They also love it because there are a few references to white popular culture, and if there is one thing that white people love, it’s cultural references that they understand (see Garden State, The Onion, and Juno for examples).

Old Friends Made New

One of my many creative side projects is a short film screenplay called "Redux." The film is about a guy who dies and gets reincarnated as himself. And by "reincarnated as himself" I mean he wakes up as a baby in 1930s and gets to live his entire life all over again with full knowledge of how it is going to end up.

Of course, what he sets out to do with his new lease on life is to correct all of his mistakes. So instead of being the eight-year-old lunkhead who jumps off the roof with a cape made out of towel and subsequently breaking his leg, the guy instead convinces his younger brother to jump off the roof, because, dude, that cape made out of towel is really magic.

The idea is similar to the one behind Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind - the way to deal with your mistakes is to erase them. Or, in this case, to do them over. (This is also the secret philosophy behind Super Mario Bros.)

I have made a lot of mistakes in my life, and many of them involve losing contact with perfectly decent people.

Perfectly decent? I'm being too polite.

Totally awesome, kick-ass people who totally rock everything and who were once in my life but are no longer there.

Correction. WERE no longer there.

Thanks to the power of Facebook, I have reacquainted myself with Cyber D and Gyuss Baaltar, two great friends I fondly remember from my good ol' college days.

Here's how it happened:

I got this little note on Facebook that went something like, "Hey! It is Cyber D. Remember me? I was that devastatingly handsome guy in your dorm. I was the guy who the women all loved and the men all envied. But those the men couldn't envy me enough to hate me because I was so darn likable, and, to top it off, I loved Dr. Who." (And we all know that Dr. Who fans cannot truly be hated. It is one of the cornerstones of Newtonian Physics right up there with "Polkas are an acquired taste.")

And I responded with a polite little, "Of course I remember you! You drew that awesome picture of Gyuss Baaltar with his head stuck up his own butt." And then I clicked Send.

And then I had a little panic attack.

When we were young, we had to behave like juveniles thanks to Federal Mandate E.B.0/1144-07c, or, as we like to call it, the "Kids These Days" Act of 1954. But that doesn't mean I should treat this one juvenile act like it some sort of defining characteristic. It would be too much like a mean ol' high school bully going, "Dude, remember that time in second grade when you accidentally farted in the reading circle? And then we called you Farty Fart Farts until you graduated? Well the taunting won't stop now that you're a grown up! FARTY FART FARTS! FARTY FART FARTS! AH-HAAAAAAAA!!!"

So I sat in a big pile of fear, waiting in front of my computer for the response, fully expecting a cutting retort along the lines of, "Geez! Immature much? That was, like, over ten years ago! I'm a respectable member of society now."

Instead, the response went something like, "Yes! That was the best thing I ever drew."

And then I remembered not only why I liked Cyber D, but exactly how much I liked Cyber D.

And THEN, just to prove what an awesome, kick-ass guy he is, Cyber D wrote a totally awesome, kick-ass blog entry about me where he compared me to a girl next door who grew up to be an exotic dancer. (Which is an ironic choice of words, because in high school I was voted "Most Likely to Get Beaten Up by an Exotic Dancer's Thug Boyfriend.")

Anyway, the past few days have been a whirlwind of fond memories and wild blog entries. Because when Cyber D writes a blog entry about you, thousands of people from his blog comment on your blog. And you comment on the comments. And the comments get commented on. And that gives you an idea for a new blog entry.

It is good to reconnect. It is good to find old friends and let them know that I am ok and to see that they are ok, too.

The only drawback is that I wish Guyuss Baltaar included a recent photo so I could see if he still spends 45 minutes each morning perfecting his sleek pompadour and two-pronged goatee before throwing a feather boa around his neck and heading for class.

After all, we went to a Liberal Arts College. Such attire was encouraged.

Monday, February 25, 2008

The Last Wife Corollary

I wrote about my Theory of Ex-Girlfriends, so it is only fitting that I also write about the Last Wife Corollary.

The name of this corollary comes from a friend of mine who was getting married to this lunkhead of a guy - her first, his second. Whenever someone pointed out that she was headed for a rocky romance, being his second wife and all, she would respond with a, "Honey, I am his last wife. Ain't no one gettin' outta this marriage alive."

I live by the Last Wife Corollary - it took me long enough to get married, and now there is nothing I want to do to screw it up. I am with my Last Wife because ain't no one gonna get outta this marriage alive.

In fact, during our wedding, right after the groom (me) made his vows and the bride (my wife) made her vows, EVERYONE IN ATTENDANCE was asked to stand and make a vow to do everything within their power to keep our marriage together forever. People who just came for the free cake and punch were a little taken aback when they were asked to make a solemn vow before the entire community and a couple of preachers and God. And this put us in a position where, if we ever had to split up, our plan would involve moving far away and wearing Groucho Marx glasses for the rest of our natural days.

So how does the Last Wife Corollary apply to the real world? It means that my wife becomes the golden standard of all things woman.

I no longer say things like, "I like redheads." Instead I say things like, "I like women whose hair reminds me of my wife's." If my wife changes her hair color, I suddenly develop a fondness for that shade. If she puts on a few pounds, I gain a fondness for women with a little meat on her bones. If she loses weight, I like 'em bony. If I decide to crush on Katherine Heigel it is because she says or does something that reminds me of my wife. If I think Diablo Cody has a wicked sense of humor, it is because Diablo Cody has a bit of the wit and insight I normally only find in my wife. Because she is the last wife I will ever have.

The point of this entry is this....

Today happens to be her birthday. Happy Birthday, Christie! Marrying you was the best thing I've ever done.

Quick Impressions of things I've Experienced Recently

Partly because I don't want the most recent blog entry to be political jibber jabber, and partly because I have a real backlog of halfway finished entries on my movie blog, I have decided to put some quick little reviews of things I have watched or read recently right here in this space. There is a nice mix of comics, movies, a CD and a novel in here.

Annihilation and Annihilation : Conquest - I read these comics thanks to the strong and consistently positive word of mouth. Well, the word of mouth is only partly right. The Annihilation story is divided into three separate books, only the last of which is interesting. Right now, I believe the Annihilation : Conquest story will be divided into two books, and, so far, the Annihilation : Conquest series is better than the first Annihilation series. The first part of Annihilation reads like bad DC books - basically the comic a big inside joke because there is zero characterization coupled with an expectation that you will study all of the attached encyclopedia entries simply to understand the comic you just finished reading. The comics get better as the story goes along with good characterization and a decent plot combined, but the first two books of Annihilation are practically unreadable. Unless, of course, you find encyclopedia entries a good substitute for storytelling. In that case, have at it.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer - Dorian Wright said out of the twelve combined seasons of Buffy and Angel, only about four were good. I'm halfway through Season 5 of Buffy and Season 2 of Angel, and I'm tending to agree with him.

Doom Patrol - Never read this until now. Been told I just had had had to read this for years, but I am very hit-or-miss with Grant Morrison. However, this comic series has totally knocked my socks off. Just finished Book 3 of his run and am halfway through Book 4. This is some really amazing stuff in here, on a conceptual level, a design level, and a storytelling level. I would love to read the scripts of these books because some of the drawings are so insane, you have to wonder how they were described.

The Descent - Would I watch it again? Probably not. Would I own it? Not really. But I thought it was a decent enough movie with a good story and good acting (as much as screaming and being eaten by cave monsters counts as acting). Just perfect for a lazy Saturday afternoon in front of the television.

The Host - This one suffered from over-hype for me. It is a lazy Saturday afternoon film about a giant gila monster that eats people, not an art film or a political film or a dysfunctional family dramedy or any of those other things it was pitched to me as. When the most compelling scenes in the film involve a giant lizard thing swinging through the air by its tail, it is not an art film. In this sense, The Descent is much better because it doesn't think of itself as a grand statement of anything - it is about underground cave creatures eating people.

Heima - Maybe this was a little over-hyped by me. Basically, it is a concert film of Sigur Ros doing Takk in Iceland. Some pretty Icelandic countryside and, of course, the music. But the band interviews don't knock me out as much as I thought they would. It is very pretty to watch, though.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang - This definitely had the potential to suffer from over-hype, but it turned out to be a very real pleasant surprise. In fact, the more I think about it, the more I like it. I like films that win me over when I come to them with my crabby barrel of prejudices. For example, I don't like crime films. Or meta films. Or Val Kilmer. And, despite being confronted with a meta-crime film, starring Val Kilmer, I had a genuinely great time. Translated, this means means that I loved the movie. Even when Robert Downey Jr loses a finger, gets it reattached, and loses it again. If the tone is off just the tiniest bit, the moment would be absolutely ruined. But it works out beautifully.

100 Days, 100 Nights - I did not know that this was a two-disc album. The second disc is a live(?) recording of "The Ghetto Funk Power Hour." This is a really fun album and I just about love Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings.

Porgy and Bess - I was surprised I knew more about this story than my opera-loving wife, but the Dallas Opera production is really worth the ticket price. Very pleased with it overall, even though after three-and-a-half hours in those uncomfortable Fair Park Music Hall seats made my butt feel nine kinds of numb.

Soon I Will Be Invincible - Technically, I'm only halfway through this book, so it might get better. But my issue with it so far is that if you are writing a super hero story as a novel, you need to make it something special. I understand paying tribute to the genre, but if all you do is a paint-by-numbers genre piece, your story isn't special anymore. As it reads now, comic books like Astro City blow it out of the water.

The Theory of Ex-Girlfriends and My Dumb Political Views

I don’t like writing about politics, because – quite honestly – I don’t want to be one of those people who write about politics. I don’t have great insight or knowledge, and my political ideas are a little wonky. (Case in point, my take on the whole gay marriage issue is to proclaim that government should not have any say on the subject marriage whatsoever – if it is a government-recognized common-property partnership used to determine taxable income rates, it should be called a civil union instead of marriage. Ta daa! Problem solved.)

But I have this great theory about how presidents are determined that I call The Theory of Ex-Girlfriends, and I want to write about it. So if that means writing about politics, I will have to write about politics. Do not worry, this will not become a habit.

The Theory of Ex-Girlfriends is this – your next relationship is determined by the most annoying thing about your most previous relationship. If you were in a relationship with someone who had fidelity issues, suddenly faithfulness will be the number one thing you look for in a next relationship. Who cares if she is crazy and bipolar, if she will stick with you no matter what, you are in love. Of course, if you break up with the crazy person, suddenly mental stability is the most important thing ever. Who cares if the new significant other is about as exciting as a patch of moss, that person is mentally stable and you are in love with that stability.

I love this theory and I use it for all sorts of things from restaurants I don’t like to employer evaluations. For example, during job interviews that begin with the questions like, “Why are you looking for a job?” you can respond with a blues song that begins, “That no good HR rep done me wrong (duh duh dah daaaaah duh). That benefits package was at sub-market levels (duh duh dah daaaaah duh). And I just wanna company that shoots straight with me on their dental plan! (crazy explosion of music) I need a new job, baby. I need a new job. I need a new job... right now.”

Anyway, I think Presidents are determined by the Theory of Ex-Girlfriends. In 2000, Bush’s basic campaign was, “Hey! I’m not Clinton. I may be a lot of things, but I won’t cheat on my wife with an intern and then try to weasel my way out of it by saying oral sex isn’t real sex.”

And, to that extent, he was exactly right. Throughout the entire Bush presidency, he has not cheated on his wife and subsequently landed himself in a sex scandal. Hooray for Bush on that single count! But that isn't enough for me to rewrite the constitution and stick with him one more term. We are breaking up and Bush is now the Ex.

Now that we are breaking up as president and constituent, I am using all of the bad things I don’t like about Bush to determine who I am going to vote for in the next election. So… what has been the most annoying thing about the Bush Presidency?

I have a co-worker who often points out that the Bush Presidency is not the Reagan II Presidency as much as it is Nixon II Presidency. Both Cheney and Rumsfield were old Nixon staffers and run the office like they're about to break into the Watergate hotel just for old time's sake, and the entire idea of “executive privilege” is much more in line with Nixon’s handling of the office than Reagan’s. Heck, even the wiretapping law in the news now is a holdover from the Nixon presidency.

A lot more parallels can be made between the two presidencies (for example, look at the way independent investigatory committees are treated by the two administrations), but what interests me more is how the nation reacted to Nixon when he became their ex-girlfriend. (And, for the sake of good metaphor, I pretending Ford is that one-off fling that never really happened. Ah, denial.)

How did the nation react to Nixon as an Ex?

They elected Jimmy Carter.

After feeling lied to and fleeced by the Commander in Chief, the American people turned to someone who was charismatic, decent, and above all, honest. He didn’t have all that much inside-the-beltway experience, but who cared. He wasn’t shifty. He was open and good. He inspired hope.

And the office of the presidency chewed up and spit him out.

Do you see where I’m going with this?

As much as I think Obama is a wonderful, charismatic speaker, as much as he makes me feel hope and makes me realize America could be a great place again, he could very well be the next Jimmy Carter. I like Carter and I think he is a great person who has succeeded at pretty much everything he has done, except, of course, being President.

I freely admit that this is a terrible attitude – essentially I am going into a new relationship thinking about what the break up will be like. But I am talking about politicians here. They have term limits, which means that we are going to break up eventually. Which is one of the reasons some people get upset when Bill Clinton shows up, because, didn't we already break up with you? Aren't you over us yet? Why are you stalking us like this?

Anyway, I guess what I'm getting to this this - one of those Seven Habits of Highly Effective People is "Begin with the end in mind." Becoming President in 2008 is not the end. It is just the beginning. So let's start thinking of it as the beginning of another presidency, not the end of the old one.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Another Sign I Work for a Great Company

Just now, a group of three of us developed an idea for a new reality television show. Here's the pitch - Divorce Court for Little People. Midgets and dwarfs who are no longer in love decide to end their relationship in front of a reality television show judge who helps them settle their differences and go their separate ways.

Here's the killer part. The title of this show would be Short Dumps.

Trademarked and Copyrighted by us right here right now on this blog.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Further Proof I Married Well

Got this in an email from my wife:

You may be entertained to know that I was told by a sales exec today that he saw _Juno_ and thinks I talk like Ellen Page's character. Weighing whether I think that's good or not.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Oh, I do like stuff like this.

Yes, I like Lost, and, yes, I know Sawyer doesn't give people nicknames anymore. But that still doesn't mean I can't have fun with the Sawyer Nickname Generator.