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Hipstercrite: February 2011

Monday, February 28, 2011

My Mom Blog

Mom blogs seem to be all the trend. I'm not sure why.
Don't people relate better to self-involved twenty-something blogs? I mean reading long-winded soliloquies about ex-boyfriends and designer shoes is something we all enjoy, right?

Whether it be Dooce or The Bloggess or the ten million other popular Mom blogs, exploiting your offspring seems to be where it's at.

Well, I never told you guys, but I have a daughter. Her name is Luanne and I had her yesterday, actually. She's a fantastic child. When she exited the womb she could already talk. Her first word was, "Jesus!", but I don't think it was in a "I love Jesus!" kind of way, but more like a, "What the fuck just happened?!" kind of way. We'll need to teach her not to take the Lord's name in vain.

Isn't she a cutie patootie?


I gotta tell you though, Luanne was born hairy as shit. In my drug-induced daze I can even recall the nurses putting their hands up to their mouths and pointing. I have a feeling that the sperm bank lied to me when I asked for a Icelandic sperm. The doctor joked that I should name her "Frida". Luckily enough my bracketed foot was in the perfect location to kick him in the face.


Luanne loooooves going on shopping trips with me. She loves spending money. In fact, she already has a credit card but we have to put a limit on it. Otherwise that crazy little bitch will put me in the poor house, won't you, Luanne? WON'T YOU?


Luanne also loves to help me cook. She's a good little sport. She'll climbed right up onto the stove and crawl over to the burner flame, that's how helpful she is. In fact, usually we have to restrain her. One time when I was cutting up some vegetables she shimmied up onto my back with two knives and held them over my head for me to use. Such a good little girl.


Luanne also enjoys helping me take out the trash. I mean, maybe a little too much. She takes it out every day. In fact, one time she took the trash out without telling me and climbed into the bin and stayed there all night. The next morning the garbage truck came and took her all the way across town. I didn't realize this until the next afternoon when we were going to sit down and watch out favorite show, Dr. Oz, together. I went outside and saw a note left on the the garbage bin that read, "Don't come looking for me". That little jokester. Anyways, I trekked over to the dump where I found her playing Gin Rummy with a bunch of the garbagemen.


At night, Luanne and I usually like to wind down with a nice nightcap. She has refined knowledge in mixology, let me tell you. She not only can pour them, but she can sling them back like no other. One of her favorite pastimes is making a drink in a small wash bin and climbing in with a straw. She's a fun little girl.

I gotta say, it's terrific being a Mom! I can't wait to have others, but Ms. Luanne, well, she's a handful already. This morning I found the shoestring of my sneaker tied in a knot around the side of her crib. She was playing with the string around her neck and standing on the edge of the crib, that crazy girl. Luckily, I came in before anything serious happened, but when I tried to hug her, she bit my face.

Babies. Can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em.

What's your favorite Mom blog?

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Top 4 Best Career Redemptions

One of the highly anticipated screenings of SXSW 2011 is the Jodie Foster-directed The Beaver starring Mel Gibson and his hand. The film chronicles the story of Walter Black (Gibson)- a depressed CEO, husband, and father who decides to solely communicate with his family and the world with a beaver puppet.

I posted on Facebook that I was very excited about this movie, which led to a barrage of messages suggesting that there was something wrong with me. Why would I possibly want to see a Mel Gibson movie? He's a anti-Semitic sociopath who conjures up really weird and violent metaphors when venting his anger towards people. Gibson definitely sealed the coffin shut on his career during the second wave of craziness with his ex-baby mama. No one particularly likes Mel Gibson- except for Jodie Foster- who has hung in there with him since the beginning of his downfall. Will she be just the thing to save him with her new movie? Who knows? All I know is that the human story surrounding this movie- a crazy and depressed actor playing a crazy and depressed character who talks to people with a hand puppet- and the actor's attempt at public redemption through an oddball story is fascinating.

The interest in redemption stories revolves around society's fervor to build up and tear down idols. Sometimes the idols stay down, way down, in the gutter, floundering for recognition or survival. Sometimes they pull themselves back up as the people watch wide-eyed, waiting for them to slip, but ultimately cheering as they pull themselves back on top. Below are a few of my favorite redemption stories- whether it be from drugs, pulling your dong out in public, or killing an entire film franchise by your shitty acting skills . Actors who at one point took a big stinkin' dump on their career, but with enough strength and courage reinvented themselves.


What is your favorite career redemption story?


1.) Robert Downey Jr.
It's hard to imagine that at one point this cherished and prolific actor was an absolute mess. Downey was born into a show business family where drug use was common. He claims to have started using drugs at the age of six in order to be close to his drug addict father. Whatever dependencies he had did not slow down his rise to stardom.At 20, Downey became a featured player on the absolute worse years of SNL and then went on to star in a string of Brat Packer movies such as Weird Science (1985), The Pick-Up Artist (1987), and Less Than Zero (1987). Less Than Zero being the crystal ball of his future. The 90's started out with a bang for Downey with an Oscar nomination for his brilliant portrayal as Charlie Chaplin in Chaplin (1992). Maybe it was losing the Oscar to his equatable midget counterpart Al Pacino that made him spiral out of control, but everything seemed to go down hill from there. After starring in a string of mediocre romcoms, Downey's drug abuse became awesome. In the train wreck sense. For the later part of the 90's and early 2000's, Downey could not keep himself clean or out of trouble with the law. Or wandering barefooted and aimlessly around LA. He found himself arrested multiple times and even spent a year in a California State Prison. He was fired from an applauded role on Ally McBeal and it appeared that no one would touch Robert Downey Jr. with a ten foot pole. So what brought ol' RDJr. back from the dead? The fact that he is a damn fine actor, that's what! Also, he has never appeared to take himself too seriously. Interestingly enough one of the few people who hung in there with Downey during this time was pre-messbag Mel Gibson, who repeatedly tried to revive his career and even put up the bond money for him to star his first post- rehab film The Singing Detective (2003). Ever since then, Downey has been on a roll. He not only made a comeback but has climbed his way to leading man and heartthrob status at the age of 45. Downey has another Iron Man and Sherlock Holmes film down the pipeline. Ok, maybe that's a little overkill, RDJr.


2.) Paul Reubens
The story of Paul Reubens a.k.a. Pee-Wee Herman did not revolve around drug use or bad decisions. He simply needed to let go of a load and it ended up killing his career. We all know that Reubens downfall was a complete travesty. In 1991, Reubens was visiting his parents in Sarasota, Florida, and finding himself bored- like I'm sure most people under 40 find themselves in Florida- wandered over to a porn theater. Reubens was arrested for jerking off in the theater though he claims that the police said he was strokin' it with his left hand and he's right-handed. Some rookie reporter recognized Reubens' name on the beat sheet and decided he will be her meal ticket. Bitch. The actor went into hiding at philanthropist Doris Duke's house and Pee-Wee's Playhouse- which was already in syndication- was canceled. Reubens resurfaced a year later with a brief cameo in Tim Burton's Batman Returns (1992) and as the villian in Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992). The 90's saw the actor popping up in brief roles in various cheesy movies and there was so no sign of Pee-Wee Herman ever seeing the late of day again- until now. Unless you live under a rock, you've probably seen Pee-Wee Herman- yes, Pee-Wee, not Paul Reubens, gracing the late night talk show circuit. That is because Reubens brought back our beloved man-child in a string of successful stage shows called The Pee-Wee Herman Show. If you weren't able to catch the actor's show in LA or NYC, don't fret, we'll be seeing another feature-length Pee-Wee Herman movie with Judd Apatow at the helm soon.


3.) Sofia Coppola
It's easy to forget that at one point this sweet and talented director was considered the sole destructor of the Godfather Series. Francis Ford, being the nepotism-loving Italian that he is, decided to cast his then nineteen year-old daughter, Sofia, as Michael Corleone's daughter Mary in the 1990 film Godfather III. Sofia had few acting roles before this film- she occasionally starred as a baby or child in her father's other movies. So, needless to say it was a great idea to cast a gawky teenager with no acting experience as a pivotal role in the final film of the Godfather franchise. Sofia's performance was so panned that she won the honorable Golden Raspberry award and barely acted in another movie again. It wasn't until the late 90's that she found her niche as a director and hottie. Her directorial debut came in the form of the much praised The Virgin Suicides (1999). She then went on to direct the indie/hipster darling/I still don't see what the big deal is about it Lost in Translation (2003). With this film she won an Oscar for best screenplay (still don't get it). Coppola went on to direct Marie Antoinette (2006) and the recent Somewhere (2010) starring Stephen Dorff- who hopefully one day will be on this best career redemption list- as a confused famous person who tries to figure out what it all means. Awww poor famous person.


4.) Jean-Claude Van Damme
Much like his pony-tailed counterpart, Steven Seagal, Van Damme is the great butt of any a' joke. With his thick Belgium accent, Zen-like wisdom, and string of martial arts action movies he has been an easy target generation after generation. Before JCVD became the cheese-hero that we all know and love, he was a respected martial artist and bodybuilder in Belgium before moving to Hollywood in his early 20's. His first big break came in the form of the 1988 film Bloodsport. Van Damme had a string of successes- Universal Soldier (1992), Time Cop (1994)- before the bottom started to break away in the late 90's. Van Damme was another victim of- surprise!- drug use and found himself in rehab and even out on the streets. Van Damme would not make another movie until 2008 when he starred in the crime/heist/comedy/drama/roman a clef JCVD. In JCVD, JCVD plays a down-on-his luck actor who is held hostage by a dude who looks like he's trying to impersonate John Cazale in Dog Day Afternoon. Though the storyline is simple, what makes JCVD so wonderful is the blurring line between what is fake and what is real. Van Damme gives such a moving monologue discussing his drug use, divorces, and rocky career, that Time Magazine claimed he should have won an Oscar for his performance. Now if that is not a redemption story, then I don't know what is.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

There Was a Time I Watched Way Too Much X-files


On my ride in to work yesterday morning, I had a gnawing feeling that it was a special day. A famous day in history or someones birthday. A day that needed celebration! I thought about it for a minute and then it hit me- it was Dana Scully's birthday!

How the fuck did I remember that, I'll pretend you asked?

Well, I used to be embarrassingly obsessed with The X-files. Like forced my elementary school friends to call me 'Spooky' obsessed. Paraded around in pantsuits at eleven years of age obsessed. Read poorly written NC-17 fan fiction during the beginning days of household Internet obsessed. Lulled myself to sleep night after night with dreams of Mulder and Scully taking off those dismal 90's suits and gettin' busy obsessed.

I had every episode on tape. Every book, every magazine, every newspaper clipping about the show was neatly pressed in binders. I built a shrine to The X-files in my childhood bedroom equipped with posters, action figures, and makeshift FBI badges and guns.

So, it comes to no surprise that after ten years I would remember something like a character from The X-files' birthday.

I began watching The X-files when I was ten years old and the show was just rounding out it's first season on Fox. At this point in time, the show held the Friday 9PM slot and my viewing was enjoyed after a family swim at the YMCA and a doughnut at Mr. Donut. As I selected my one doughnut from under the florescent lighting of the now defunct store, I anticipated what storyline that evening's episode would have. Would it be about violent and hairy Jerseyites? Gender-bending Menonites? Liver-eating escalator dwellers?

Over the course of the second season my interest in the storyline was quickly overshadowed by the thick fog of sexual tension looming between the two lead characters. Being led through the gateway of puberty by two fictional characters who stared at each other for long periods of time but never touched was deliciously painful. Every week I anxiously waited to see if the characters would give me just a lil somethin' instead of leaving me in a perpetual state of blue-balldom. Unfortunately, the consummation of their relationship took another seven years which left me in a arrested state of sexual development throughout most of my teens. Throw in their codependency, Mulder's love of porn, and Scully's seeming long bouts of having sex with no one and I figure I'm pretty much screwed for life.

I will always be a lifelong X-files fan, but I have to admit, I really could care less about the science fiction aspect of the show- The X-files was my soap opera. Don't get me wrong, I really dug scary stuff as a kid. So much so that I spent most of my single digits awake and paralyzed in my bed every evening. However, as the show progressed I became solely fixated on the relationship between Mulder and Scully. They were my Tracy and Hepburn. My Cash and Carter Cash. However, after watching the show again as an adult, my new found grown up cynicism about all things made me question the characters' validity- particularly Scully. For instance- why in God's name would a highly intelligent woman like Dana Scully stick by a man who's carefree approach to danger has caused her to die- multiple times. When Mulder said, "Hey, Scully, fly to this remote location with me where there is a good chance one or all of these things might happen to you: 1.) You'll be abducted by aliens and impregnated by something, I'm not sure what 2.) You'll be raped by the Amish 3.) You'll be raped by a dude who looks like me, but is not me and has a tail 4.) You'll be raped by a dude who likes to collect fingernails. You know, it will be fun!", Scully obediently agreed. If if she questioned Mulder's irrationality, she always ended up sticking beside him.

Also, why was Scully so one-dimensional? I know what you're going to say, "No, she wasn't! She was one strong and intelligent broad!", but let's dissect this for a second- Scully lived, breathed, and slept her career with little to no reward. I mean, if a reward came in the form of alien babies, then she was a champion. She had zero sense of humor. She did not color outside of the lines. She seemingly had no friends or lovers. Yes, we had the occasional glimpse into her family and her emotions, but it wasn't until season 7, when Gillian Anderson had to write and direct an episode about Scully, that we finally saw her as something more than just an ol' stick in the mud. Looking back, I would never want to be friends with a woman like Scully before the episode "All Things".

Perhaps I am sensitive to the subject of Dana Scully due to my unwavering love for her as a little girl. Now being an adult I want to relate to her, but I can't and I'm disappointed that she was often a victim of a stereotyping on network television. Mulder was the interesting one. Mulder was the one we tuned in to watch. Mulder had the charm and the quips and the doe-eyed stare. Scully was kind of boring. Sure she was nice to look at, but we really didn't get to know her until the show was almost over.

Now, I know what you're thinking, "But she was Mulder's exact opposite! He needed a Felix to his Oscar!" and I agree, but with the primary writers of the show being all men, I can't help but wonder the Scully

I'm going to stop right here because my pleasant stroll down memory lane has turned into a feminist rant and all I really wanted to say was Happy Birthday to our favorite Catholic Type A ginger-haired scientist/doctor/FBI agent.

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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Best Song Lyrics for Facebook Status Updates

People like quoting song lyrics as Facebook/Twitter updates typically for one of two reasons- 1.) They've run out of things to say 2.) They think it makes them sound interesting.

However, people often have really shitty taste in music. Take for example this article sent to me by Austin Carnivore from the men's lifestyle blog MadeMan- "10 Good Music Lyrics for Facebook Status"
#1  is Linkin Park's "The Catalyst" and includes moving lyrics such as- "God bless us everyone. We're a broken people living under a loaded gun."

Damn. That's some good shit right there. I'm sure men everywhere are thanking you, MadeMan, for representing the male species' under-appreciated taste in music.

Most of the lyrics I see Tweeted or FB'd are usually pretty hipstery songs that give the illusion that the poster is wise and insightful. Or give the illusion to the poster that they are giving the illusion that they are wise and insightful. Lot's of indie crap and references to Joy Division.

Forget Lady Gaga and Katy Perry- here is what people should be posting on their social media profiles if they want to look pretentious.

Add your favorite song lyric to FB/Tweet in the comments below!
 

1.) "You got your hair slicked back and those Wayfarers on, baby"- "Boys of Summer" by Don Henley

At some point everyone collectively decided that this song was cool. Like way cool. Long time ago it was not cool. It was a song by the super white dude who sounded like your Dad who was in a band that your Dad used to love. Everything about Don Henley just screamed, "Hey, Dad Dad Daddio Daddy Dad!" Then one day we all grew up and we're like, "Shit, I really wish I was my Dad right now because I totally want to be nostalgic for Deadhead stickers on Cadillacs and hanging out at the beach." On particularly inspired days, everything about this song makes you feel as though you're a Bret Easton Ellis character and no song lyric captures 80's Southern California cool better than the line above. This is the sort of line that makes you miss a time that you never experienced and will make your social media friends who did live during that time comment that it really wasn't that great.


2.)  "I hear everybody that you know is more relevant than everybody that I know"- "Losing My Edge" by LCD Soundsystem

Every line in LCD Soundsystem's "Losing My Edge" is quotable, but this line sums up the gist of the song perfectly -especially is you live in a city like Austin where being on the forefront (or backfront?) of music is not only encouraged, but expected. If you're not up on what the hot music trends are then you are ridiculed by having Right Said Fred CDs thrown at you in the town square. Though released in 2002, this song still sums up hipster culture to a T. Actually, it does such a good job that you end up hating yourself and all your friends while listening to it. On the days that you're feeling particularly self-conscious about your waning knowledge of music, then this is the song to blast on your Facebook profile. The interesting thing about this song? Quoting it will at least make you seem like you're still kind of hip?



3.) "And you may say to yourself, well, how did I get here?" or "Home is where I want to be pick me up and turn me 'round" - "Once in a Lifetime" and "This Must be the Place (Naive Melody)" by Talking Heads

Talking Heads have always been abstractly quotable due to front man David Byrne's minimalistic delivery. Byrne was a man of few words and you never found anything flowery or abundant in his production.  He made thought-provoking statements in short sentences and in almost a child-like approach. Possibly Talking Heads most referenced song is the classic "Once in a Lifetime". Every line from that song is memorable and relatable. Post a "And you may say to yourself, well, how did I get here?" and you'll have instance response on your social media profiles- from people you actually like. However, if you want to go with a little more sweet, a little more introspective, a little more Sean Penn future-movie referencing, go with a line from "This Must be the Place (Naive Melody)". Any line will do...and it will make me fall in love with you.



4.) "I am the passenger"- "The Passenger" by Iggy Pop

Short, simple, and to the point. "I am the passenger"...to what? A glass-roofed taxi cab? David Bowie's rental car? The Popmobile? Everything about this song screams seedy, ominous New York City late 70's- the time we all secretly wish we were shooting heroin in-, next to a naked transvestite named Sparkles. Choosing one line from this song is a difficult. "So let's take a ride and see what's mine" comes as a pretty close second to quality Facebook status updates. This song makes one feel empowered and nihilistic. As though we can drive through the streets at night claiming our turf. On the days you're feeling particularly tyrannical, this is the song to quote.



5.) "Let's get together before we get much older"- "Baba O'Reilly" by The Who

This is the sort of song that makes you want to climb up onto a skyscraper and stand there with your arms stretched out for the movie cameras that aren't there. "Baba O'Reilly" is an inspirational song- even if we have no idea who the hell Sally and the Happy Ones are. "Teenage Wasteland" is arguably the most famous line and the one that people erroneously believe is the title to the song, but I couldn't go with obvious for this song selection. Around birthdays, when we're feeling nostalgic for the years of your youth, then "let's get together before we get much older" is the line to quote. Since we are older now, we need songs like this to give us hope past 30.


6.) "And if it takes shit to make bliss then I feel pretty blissfully"- "The View" by Modest Mouse

Good News for People Who Love Bad News. What an album. The best part of Modest Mouse? Their lyrics make no f'ing sense- but they sound cool. This is one entire album of non-sequiturs. Take for instance the song "The View". What does "and if it takes shit to make bliss then I feel pretty blissfully" really mean? I've never heard the expression that it takes shit to make bliss, have you? I thought bliss was something you typically felt when you were having sex- not when life is taking a big ol' dump on you. However, that is the beauty of Modest Mouse lyrics- they sound profound enough to quote on social media profiles even though no one knows what the hell you are talking about.


7.) "Jesus died for somebody's sins, but not mine"- "Gloria" by Patti Smith

Quoting anything Patti Smith instantly makes you cool, don't you know that? Especially since everyone is reading "Just Kids" right now. This is particularly excellent for the twenty-somethings who are going through an existential crisis and want to share it with the world on Facebook. Or for the angsty girl who likes to write poetry. I'll be honest though, I have barely listened to this song. That is why this blurb is short. So I'm just going to ramble here so it looks like this paragraph about Patti Smith is longer than it actually is. Does this look long enough yet? Hmmm...maybe one more sentence. Robert Mapplethorpelikedtotakepicturesofhisbuttyadayadayada. AND DONE!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin

I often refer to my blog as the ol' ball and chain. At the extreme, I equate it to the monster that Dr. Frankenstein lost control of. Gene Wilder's Dr. Frankenstein that is. If I'm going to be any Frankenstein it's going to be one with an awesome head of curly hair and pencil mustache. On really bad days, I refer to my blog as an animate object and scream defiant remarks at it.

I whine about my blog because as of lately, she dictates my schedule, has minor control over my emotions and dominates my thoughts. This sounds a little extreme but I made a promise to stick with this blog and I have no intention of backing down. Being an only child with a paternal role model who had over 30 jobs, 35 cars, and lived in 13 different states, it's often easy for me not to follow through on projects. This is one instance where I haven't let that happen. I'm committed to my blog and I anticipate a day where a future significant other tells me that I've chosen the blog over them.

Since I've been highly blog-centric lately, I've been doing a lot of thinking about where she came from, what she's grown to and where I want her to be. Recalling each step upward, each opportunity that has come my way has boiled down to one simple fact- this blog would be nowhere if it weren't for the support of my followers both in Austin and everywhere but Austin. My followers are the reason I decided to stay committed. To write every day. The support I have received has been mind-blowing and inspiring...and for that, I thank you.

The feedback I have received made me believe that maybe, just maybe, I can do something with my writing. You've helped a twenty-something come closer to finding her creative path in life.

That's all I wanted to say today.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.
From the bottom of my heart.

As I venture forth in the redesign of my blog, I hope to make this platform a more efficient way to say thank you and to continue a conversation with you.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

My Blah


Grandma: "How is your blah doing?"
Me: "My what?"
Grandma: "You know, that thing you write on? How is it spelled? B-L-A-H?"
Me: "Oh, you mean my blog?"
Grandma: "A what?"
Me: "A blog! Like 'log' with a 'b'."
Grandma: "A blog?!"
Me: "Yes!"
Grandma: "What the hell is that?"

She had a very excellent point. What the hell is a blog and why is not called blah?

My mother and grandmother's behavior has been very 'blah'-worthy as of lately.
Blahworthy being code word for slowly turning into The Beales.
But instead of dramatic New England accents and dozens of cats looking for attention, we have Jewish nagging and my Grandma's boyfriend, Lionel- a crusty old man in the beginning stages of Alzheimer's and looking for attention.

It's all started with my Grandmother's horrible back pain. Being the stoic Depression-born woman that she is, Grandma was in complete denial about it. She walked buckled over in pain, near the point of throwing up, but refused to take any medicine. Wait- let me rephrase that. It has nothing to do with being born in the Depression and everything to do with martyrdom.

Grandma: "Ooohhhh....I'm in so much pain!"
Mom: "Is there something I can do for you?"
Grandma: "No, no. I'll just suffer."
Mom: "Are you sure? I can cook food for you? Clean the house? What do you need?"
Grandma: "No, I can do it."
Mom: "Are you sure?"
Grandma: "Yes. I do everything myself. I'm used to it."
Mom: "But I just offered to help!"
Grandma: "No, I'm fine. I'm just going to get down on the kitchen floor and start scrubbing,"
Mom: "You're in crippling pain! Why the hell would you need to clean the kitchen floor right now!?"
Grandma: "Because it's dirty!"
Mom: "You cleaned it two days ago when you were in horrible pain and shouldn't have been cleaning the floor in the first place!"
Grandma: "Well, who is going to clean it!? No one offers to help me!"
Mom: "I just offered to help you!"
Grandma: "You won't do it right. Now let me go so I can scrub the kitchen floor."

Finally, when the pain became unbearable, she asked my mother- who lives across the street- to take her to the Emergency Room. That is where they told her that due to falling and Osteoporosis, she fractured her back...in multiple places...and that she would have to wear a body brace for 5 weeks...and take narcotics.

This did not sit well with my Grandmother who owned a clothing store and despite being 84 years of age, is still the sharpest dresser I know. Forget that the body brace felt like strapping a turtle shell to your back- it was visually displeasing to the eye. This fact may have finally been the clincher in convincing my Grandmother to take her narcotics and forget about reality.

So, Grandma's drugs. This plays an important role in a the story I'm about to tell you.

My friend Levi told me I'd be blogging about this story in no time. I didn't believe him. I figured he was just saying that to pull back from the figurative ledge I had just climbed up on and was positioning myself to jump from. However, it's six days later and I'm blogging about it, so I must be over it. I just hope TO DEAR GOD that my mother doesn't decide to take a gander over to my blog today.

In short, last Saturday, my Mom was absolutely convinced I was lying dead in the gutter and she not only contacted all my friends on Facebook, but sent the police to my house.

This panic came when she could not reach me for four hours because I was AT MY FRIEND'S HOUSE TRYING TO RELIVE MY PAST BY WATCHING FOUR STRAIGHT HOURS OF KIDS IN THE HALL, OK? I had set my phone aside and attempted to zone out for a bit.

Mistake.

My mother had talked to me no less than 24 hours prior to this freak out, yet because I was unreachable for those four hours, I was decapitated somewhere in East Texas or shredded in a wood chipper, obviously. I even spoke to my Grandma a few hours before my mother's meltdown, but because she was higher than a kite, she couldn't remember if she spoke with me that day or the night before- when my mother last spoke with me. As I mentioned earlier, my mother worked herself up in such a frenzy that from New York she called the police and sent Facebook messages to everyone she knew I was friends with in Austin. Including people I'm not particularly close to who were probably like, "What the f?"

I came out of my Kids in the Hall dreamland to finding 20 missed calls from my Mom, a few from her friends, and a couple from my friends. I called my mother back and she was wailing. The sound of a woman who was 100% convinced that her daughter was dead. She told me what happened and I started yelling. Then I started crying. Nowhere in there was I laughing. I was upset at her for overreacting, but was trying to  empathize with a woman who thought she just lost her daughter. My mother has been particularly stressed dealing with my Grandma and Lionel's respective ailments and her nerves have been frayed.

Me: "I talked to Grandma a few hours ago! What the hell do you think happened to me in that time?!"
Mom: "She couldn't remember if she spoke with you this morning or the night before!"
Me: "I talked to her for almost an hour! She doesn't remember the conversation?!"
Mom: "She's on drugs, Lauren, ok?"

She was right. My 84 year-old Grandmother was on drugs and I was mad at her and I was mad at my Mom for using Facebook as her parental bullhorn. And I was mad at myself for being mad at them. How could I be upset with them? They love me. A lot, apparently.

I think my biggest frustration was the realization that we're changing. Life happens. Parents and grandparents get older. They do weird things and the only way I can deal with it is by exploiting them through my blah.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

I Still Look Up When You Walk in the Room

Holy crap! I wrote a really long story for the hell of it. 
Let's just say that I've been listening to waaaaay too much Fleetwood Mac lately.

The absolutely best part of the story is when the song he wrote about me came on the radio while we were physically fighting.

That was the hysterical part. What are the odds that that song would play while he was holding my throat against a windshield? I mean, so what it reached #1 back in 2002? Even in my slightly incapacitated state, I found the irony perfect.

I guess this would be the worst part of the story. He held his hand against my throat long enough to make me start to black out but our drummer, Seth, flew out of what seemed like the second story balcony of the hotel and body slammed Ryan to the ground. It seriously was like Spiderman shit. I saw Seth coming in and my eyes must have widened to the size of saucers. Ryan really had no idea what was about to hit him.

They wrestled around on the floor for awhile and the parking lot attendant kept asking me if I was ok, but all I wanted to do was scream. Nothing would come out. Not a note, not a squeak, not a sigh. Nothing. "Great. You killed my voice!" I kept shouting to Ryan over and over in my head. The concierge insisted that he call an ambulance, but I gathered my purse, which had spilled everywhere, and ran back up to the room. I knew what was going to happen. The police were going to be called and Ryan would be thrown in jail and we would have to perform the show without him.

He wrote that song during our first break-up. We would get back together one more time after that, but for only six months. That break-up really signified the beginning of the end. With the success of the band growing, Ryans' subsequent imbalance of isolation and partying, and me coming into my own as an artist, it was apparent to everyone but us that the ship was sinking- fast.

We held on way too long. What were the reasons? I don't know. Maybe we liked the drama. What we were able to take from it creatively. Maybe we didn't know how to live without each other. Shit, I met him when I was seventeen for crying out loud. I hadn't dated anyone else. Living for that man was all I knew. Putting food on the table while he sat for hours and hours writing songs on his guitar. He was our meal ticket out of that 100 square foot apartment with no hot water. His talent was going to take us to the next level- and that's precisely what it did.

Maybe that's why I stayed with him. Because I felt like I owed it to him. All the money and the fans and the adulation- that was because of him. And don't think for a second that I enjoyed becoming the "star" of the band. That is not something I asked for. It just happened and Ryan never got over it.

Either way, when the fighting just became too much and we couldn't even record together without serving insults back and forth like a game of table tennis, I knew something had to change. At this point we were sharing a house in the Hills and I told him that I was tired. Tired of walking on eggshells. Tired of the second guessing. I was done and would be moving in with our bandmate Katie.

The look on Ryan's face was priceless. In fact, I wrote a song about it. It's called, "Your Face". For the first time in the ten years that I knew him, I saw all the smugness sucked from his belly. It was as if my words came in the form of a Hoover Vac that ate up every ounce of his misplaced confidence and impregnated them into my psyche. I walked away from that house thinking, "I'll never see that prick again!"

Of course, I'd be seeing him in the recording studio the next day.

Ryan walked into the studio on Sunset Boulevard the next morning looking like the incarnation of death. He had stayed up all night writing angry songs about me which he proudly played for the band. One song in particular called, "Whore", was particularly upsetting. Of course this is the song that went on to become our biggest hit and played during our confrontation. The line, "My little whore, that's what you are. Just riding on my coattails, watching from afar" particularly got me worked up during concerts and on more than one occasion I made my anger apparent by picking up Seth's beer bottle and chucking it towards Ryan's head.

Every song on that album was about our relationship. Even Katie, the third songwriter of our band, ended up writing these very dismal and depressing songs about life and heartbreak because of how much our crap permeated the room. Twelve tracks of longing and bitching and crying and shit-flinging. Of course it went on to being triple platinum and we were forced to spend more time together due to award nominations, touring, and interviews.

After being on the road for three months of the eleven we were committing to a world tour, complete disgust turned into horniness and Ryan and I got back together. Just for six months. Let me tell you, after you perform a concert in front of 20,000 plus people for two hours, singing about anger and love and heartbreak, you walk off stage thinking, "Oh man, I think I really need to fuck something right now. If I don't release this adrenalin rush, I might have a heart attack." So when you're walking off stage next to the person you despise the most on this planet, there seems like no greater option.

But like I said. That only lasted six months. During that tour, Ryan's recreational drug use manifested into a hobby of how far detached he could bring himself from humanity. His resentment towards me always bordered on hatred and about one month after we broke-up for the second time, he just snapped. We were in the middle of practicing my song "Our House in the Hills"- a song I wrote about the imaginary domestic facade we were trying to hold onto so many years ago- and he stood up, started screaming about how much he hated the band and that we were holding him back and he was done with the tour and done with all of us. He threw his guitar as hard as he could on the stage and took a taxi straight to the airport. Luckily, there were only three more shows left in the tour and even though I was beside myself with anger that Ryan could do this to the band, I felt like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders.

Ryan went on to start his solo career, as did I. That was eight years ago and we hadn't really seen each other since. Except for the occasional business call between the band or the very rare occurrence we bumped into each other at a party.

But when an up-and-coming singer that covered "Whore" was nominated for a Grammy, we were asked to reunite and sing onstage with him.

And that brings us to the story that happened earlier today.

So why did Ryan strangle me? Because I told him that I never loved him.

"I'm sorry" he said over and over from the doorway as I got ready for the show.
Ryan lucked out. Due to his celebrity, reps from the recording label quickly broke up the fight and whisked Ryan off in a limo and left Seth at the hotel to tend to me. The head of security at the hotel asked if I wanted to press charges, but what was the point?

"I'm under a lot of stress and I didn't slept well last night and- I mean, it's no excuse. No excuse at all. What I did was unforgivable. I'm sorry, Maddy. Maddy? Maddy, will you look at me?"

I hadn't ackonwledged Ryan the entire time he was in my room.

He walked up and knelt down on the ground. He reached up and grabbed my hand and I noted the irony of the dual roles his hand played that day.

I turned to him.

"Why do you hate me so much, Ryan? What did I do to you to instill such wrath?"

"I guess I never stopped loving you, Maddy."

It was the first time I ever heard him admit defeat. After  so many years of angry songs about how I failed him and the band, how he moved on and found someone better, about what a no-good lousy bitch I am, he finally said the words I never thought would leave his mouth.

Later that evening, while playing our most famous song onstage, I saw a completely defeated man.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

An Open Letter to the Kids in the Hall

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Hey, feel free to pass this on to any of the Kids in the Hall if you know them. 

Dear Kevin, Dave, Scott, Mark, and Bruce,

I'm a grown woman. I'm 27 years old now. I'm at the age where I would have finally figured out how to balance my checkbook properly if we still used checkbooks.

However, something happened to me when I watched your new show Death Comes to Town yesterday. I resorted back into pubescent 15 year-old nerd girl who used to make Headcrusher home movies in her basement instead of hanging out with kids her own age. The dweeb who used to fantasize about Bruce McCulloch's little man dance jerks instead of Justin Timberlake's not little-man dance jerks. The kid who anxiously fidgeted on the school bus ride home every day, contemplating what back-to-back episodes of Kids in the Hall were recording on the VCR and what flavor of Hot Pocket she was going to gorge herself with..

While enjoying your latest production, I could distinctly recall the surge of, let's just call it "stimulation", that I felt after I watched an episode of the Kids in the Hall. I've been a fan of your troupe and subsequent individual ventures for a very long time, but truthfully, Death Comes to Town is quite possibly your greatest achievement yet. I lapped up all eight episodes in one sitting and was heart-broken when the viewing was over. I miss you guys. I miss the days of being a little girl and thinking, "I want to grow up and move to Canada!" I miss the days of forcing my friends at emotional gunpoint to reenact your skits in the basement. I miss secretly wishing I was a flamboyant gay man in a velour jacket, a misunderstood half-chicken, and a dude who had produce for a head.

I distinctly remember the first time I saw you. I hated you. Your off-beat humor, overtly sexual jokes, and depressing personal subject matter made my tween ignorance uncomfortable. Not even aware that you had a television show, my friend Dan rented your movie Brain Candy and I was positively disgusted after the film finished.

And piqued.
And intrigued.
And dare I say, aroused?

I went home later that evening thinking about scenes from your movie and just couldn't get you out of my head. It was like masturbating for the first time and being simultaneously appalled and pleased with oneself. The only other movie to do that to me was Monster's Ball and the similarities between the two films is uncanny. I decided that a film that would give me such a reaction deserved a second viewing. Watching Brain Candy for a second time, was liking watching it for the first time, but instead of sweating and violent knee-jerks, I felt enlightened. Transformed! It was after then that I decided I absolutely adored you. I wanted to know everything about you and I discovered that you once had a TV show. A TV show! How delightful! Now I could have hours upon hours with you guys. At that time, Comedy Central was syndicating two episodes a day at 2:00PM and 2:30PM and I was in heaven.

I religiously watched your show. I still have an entire library of VHS tapes lining the back wall of my childhood bedroom. Ever though the film has probably eroded away, you will never be discarded for those tapes symbolize a portion of my childhood where creative pursuits were illogical and ill-conceived. A time I miss dearly. You amongst few others- including Pee-Wee Herman, Gene Wilder, and David Byrne-  helped define my path to working in the film business. And though I didn't become a comic, and though I'm not even remotely funny, your writing and frankness has always remained a breath of fresh air creatively for me. An inspiration that humor can be found in all aspects of life- whether it's one's drunken dad, emotionless mother, flaming sexuality, f'ed up relationships, or dead-end dreams.

I saw you live four times. Five if you included Kevin's recent one-man variety show about the Kids in the Hall and his alcoholic father called Hammy and the Kids. My mother ventured through the snowstorm of a century in Buffalo, NY to make sure us kids got to your show. We met you. My boyfriend at the time said something to you, Dave, about how Phil Hartman's death sucking and you just blinked at him. I would have too. I then ventured through another murderous snowstorm- we were stopped many 'a times due to people flipping their cars on route 281- to see you in Washington D.C. A few years later I saw you in the other armpit of New York state, Syracuse, and I don't really remember that show. I'm sure it was great. However, the most notable show, for me, was the four-night only, new material set I caught at a tiny theater in Hollywood. I was a big girl now. Having made my way to Los Angeles. Someone told me about your barely publicized show at the Steve Allen Theater. You all came out on stage and made a joke about what skits to do and suggested that maybe you should rape Kevin. I didn't laugh. In fact, I was like, "Awww, man! What the fuck is this crap?" But as soon as the theme music kicked in and you got the show rolling, I found myself welling up with tears of pride. All my kids have grown up- and turned into my Dad.

I've enjoyed some but not all of your endeavors post-Kids in the Hall, but yesterday, yesterday I saw your masterpiece as a whole. Your Twin Peak-esque comedy about murder, soul-snorting, and retarded children. is magnificent. And that is not a hyperbole. I truly mean the dictionary definition of magnificent- "glorious and wonderful". I was taken aback by your seeming ease in resurrecting the form of characters that made you so popular. It just seemed so natural- as if no time had passed at all- but was even better this time around. Everything about the writing and the acting just seemed to gel. I found myself not only laughing at your legendary irreverent humor, but completely engrossed in the storyline. I wanted to know what was going to happen. That is something that never happened before, and is not particularly easy for a sketch comedy team. Everything about your new show just....worked. It was as if the years enabled you to bring a whole new dimension to your work.

Will you make more goodness, please? Help this young woman to desperately hold onto the past?

Yours always,
Lauren

More reading:
Hipstercrite- Kids in the Hall vs. The State- which is better?
WTF with Marc Maron- Dave Foley talks about his messed-up first marriage and court ordered stand-up


Monday, February 14, 2011

Try a Little Tenderness

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 "I haven't been in love in a long, long time," she said to herself in the best Otis Redding impression she could muster up. Heightened emphasis on the first "long." Eight 'o's'.

"I haven't been in love in a loooooooong, long time," she kept repeating just enough so the purpose behind the sentence meant nothing anymore.

"Hell, I'm not even sure I've ever been in love," she laughs to herself. "I've been in infatuation and then something thereafter, I think?"

This prompts her to sing the Rod Stewart song of the same name, but it's not as enjoyable as her made-up Otis song.

She takes a moment to think back on them all.

It started with Adam. He was the only one to run the course of infatuation, to post-infatuation, to end of the road.

Adam is married and lives in Kansas City and has a second baby on the way. Three weeks after he ended their four year relationship seven years ago, she stopped thinking about him. It scared her how quickly she got over him. It was then she realized how she had been trying to keep a dying connection alive for much too long.

She had moved to a new city and he stayed behind. Their relationship wasn't important enough to outlast these two truths.

The reason she got over Adam so quickly, the person who helped her do this, will forever remain an important character in the story of her life. A novella could be written on just the Freudian undertones of the short, ugly, but inevitable liaison. However, for now, it will be labeled away as one of the few secrets a woman may have.

In the big city, she dated a handful of men and the little girl in her innocently believed it was all something more than it was. For as self-aware and intuitive she likened herself to be, the truth was, she was completely childlike in her dealing with the opposite sex. Her development arrested by the fact that she grew up with no male figure in her life, and a lack of examples on how a relationship works. What she knew best, what made her most comfortable, was to be inactive player, one who stood in the forefront with a smile and a twinkle, but completely motionless. Though it's easy to look back and romanticize the histrionics of her dalliances, it was not an enjoyable time in her life. It was a time where she watched tiny chips of her heart float away in the wind.

She watched again and again as she gave a piece of herself to someone who didn't really want it in the end.

The filmmaker who watched her from behind the camera for six weeks. Studying every nuance of her personality and deciding at some point that he really liked his subject. Or the poet, who lived in the woods, who could open his heart in words, who would hold her close every night, but couldn't give anything else.

That's not to say that she didn't have boys who wanted to take care of her. To give her the world. The problem was, she didn't want them. They scared her. It was combination of the game being too easy and the idea being completely lost upon her. To not have to grieve for a man, to not have to wait by the window for a father who may or may not show up just seemed... foreign.

She was aware of her actions, but only partially. Over time, she learned to be objective of her behavior in relationships, but not enough to release her.

Unbeknownst to her at the time, leaving the city would bring her closer to that freedom.

She's 27 now. Years ago she would have been considered an old maid. Now, she's still carrying the "kid pass". She's not really expected to be thinking about settling down or finding the one quite yet. And neither does she want to. She's focused on her career and her goals. However on certain days, not on days like today, but on days like the one yesterday, where she watched a movie about love conquering all, she thinks, "That's it! That's what I want!"

Because at the end of the day, though she may believe love is a privilege, she looks forward to the day it could happen- to me.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Another 7 Indie Valentine's Day Movies You Should Watch

Yesterday I posted my top 8 favorite indie romantic comedies/dramas for Valentine's Day. The truth is the list started out as 12, then got chiseled down to 10, then down to 8. Sometimes I get tired of writing a post. Sometimes I look at my post and I resent it and I don't want to write it anymore and I want to whisper how much I hate it into it's ear if it had an ear. That's how a list goes from 12 down to 8.

However, yesterday's list did not accurately relay my favorite indie romcoms and romdras and so many wonderful readers pointed out quintessential films that I missed entirely. I wanted to continue the list with Another Top 7 Indie Romantic Films That I Got Too Exhausted to Talk About in Yesterday's Post.

And, yes I know some of these movies aren't actually indies. Like I mentioned yesterday, "indie" is the code word for "hipster". I just didn't want to overuse the word "hipster" this week (though it's used maybe nine 900 hundred times in this post).

Enjoy!


1.) Say Anything (1989)
Yes, this movie should have really been number one yesterday. This movie gives hope to nerdy, angst-riddled young men with penchants for long raincoats that they will one day get the girl of their dreams. Lloyd Dobbler is the guy that every girl wants. The truth is, every girl has had a Lloyd Dobbler or two in their life and they didn't want him. It's much better to fantasize about the fictional Lloyd Dobbler that we confuse for John Cusack. Lloyd Dobbler loooooves valedictorian Diane Court. Like wants to have her babies love. Everyone tells Lloyd that Diane is out of his league, but Lloyd being the confident dude that he is, asks her out. Low and behold Diane says yes and though they have absolutely nothing in common, a relationship ensues. However, like any good three-act structure, an obstacle develops in the way of their ever-lasting love. You see, Diane Court is a winner. She's going on to become a very successful but completely alienating and unrelatable career professional. And Lloyd, Lloyd likes kickboxing! Pshaw. Oh, and he doesn't want to make, buy or sell anything processed for a living. Get with the times, Lloyd! Diane's Dad tells her to drop that loser martial arts tard-o and focus on becoming the next ice queen. They break up and something propels Lloyd to hold a heavy boom box over his head (something he'd probably never want to make, buy or sell). It isn't until Diane finds out that her beloved father is stealing from the old people that he takes care of that she goes running back into the arms of Lloyd. It always boils down to daddy. The movie ends with Lloyd and Diane flying off to Europe together as Diane begins her freshman year at some fancy-ass school. If the film continued after this point, we'd discover that Lloyd and Diane quickly break-up- like most high school sweethearts do- and Lloyd is left to doing kick-boxing tricks on the Paris street corners for dough and Diane goes on to become a successful boom box manufacturer.


2.) 500 Days of Summer (2009)
Gosh, I barely remember a thing about this movie, other than that I liked it....and....there was a lot of Smiths-referencing? I guess any movie that stars Zooey Deschanel is deemed "hipstery" whether they want it to or not. She optimizes what every "young, male creative urbanite" fantasizes about- she dresses like she's in Mad Men, she"sings" in real life, and she has piercing blue eyes under a canopy of rich brown hair. If I recall correctly, the movie centers around Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and Summer (Deschanel). They both work at a greeting card company. Tom develops a huge crush on Summer and the two start hanging out. How am I doing so far? Their friendship turns into a relationship, but it is apparent that the two have different views on love and life. They do a lot of hipstery things together like watch The Graduate and contemplate life and sing karaoke. One day they break up and Tom goes into a deep depression. Is this right so far? After running into Summer at a wedding, Tom discovers that she is engaged to another man. This puts Tom into a deeper depression, but catapults him into taking charge of his life. He runs into Summer one more time who explains to him that she now believes in love, but the love she needed wasn't with Tom. Tom goes on a job interview and meets a girl named "Autumn". Uh, duh. Brilliant! 500 Days of Summer is a very simple, but sweet love story that many young people can relate to. Wait a minute, who am I kidding? Who the f actually works at a greeting card company?


3.) Garden State (2004) (recommended by William Trinity, Melanie's Randomness, Trina Estrada, Carissa McAtee)
This film came out right when I moved to Los Angeles. I saw the trailer and was like, "Oh my God, I'm Zach Braff. Big schnoz and all!" I was a big fan of this film due to my instantaneous feeling of disconnect from my friends and family back in NY upon moving to LA. I was a tool. Written, directed, and starring Zach Braff, Garden State follows the story of actor Andrew Largeman who returns to his hometown in New Jersey to attend his paraplegic mother's funeral. While home, Andrew reunites with old friends who haven't gone much of anywhere since high school. He also meets a young woman by the name of Sam, played by another adorable hipster idol, Natalie Portman. Sam is a pathological liar and she wear headphones all the time so you know she's cool. Andrew spends a few days home learning more about himself, weening off of anti-depressants, and rebuilding a relationship with his father who blamed Andrew for his mother's paralysis. Just as Andrew and Sam really get to digging each other, it's time for Andrew to go back. Sam tearfully says goodbye to Andrew at the airport, but does Andrew actually get on the plane? I'm not going to tell you because I've done a pretty awesome job of spoiling lots of movies for you with these posts. Garden State is known for having a kick-ass soundtrack and making millions of people respect Zach Braff- even if it was for 5 minutes.


4.) Singles (1992) (recommended by Chelsea at Bella Vogue)
Another classic by the king of movies about young, alternative love- Cameron Crowe. Singles takes place during the height of the grunge movement in early 90's Seattle. We follow the love lives of five people- urban planner Steve (Campbell Scott), environmental lobbyist associate Linda (Kyra Sedgwick), narcissistic musician Cliff (Matt Dillion), clueless waitress Janet (Bridget Fonda), and desperate ad exec Debbie (Sheila Kelley). Steve and Linda fall in love, but do everything possible to make it not work out of fear. The innocent Janet is in love with Cliff, but Cliff wants to keep his options open. Debbie is creepy. She makes really weird personal ad videos to try and land herself a boyfriend. They all fumble blindly through the tunnel of love as they try and figure out what they want out of life and relationships. The great thing about Singles is that though it takes place almost 20 years ago and the outfits may be a little different, young people can still relate to the characters fear of commitment and settling down. Another wonderful aspect of the movie is the absolutely adorable Campbell Scott (son of George C. Scott) who I wish could have stayed 30-looking forever.


5.) Reality Bites (1994) (Recommended by Inflammatory Writ)
I forget this movie takes place in Houston. I bet you did too. Nothing about this early 90's alt-romcom says Texas. In fact, most people think it takes place in the same city as Singles (Seattle). The even weirder part of this movie? It's directed by Ben Stiller. Yeah. I know! Like when he was still kind of cool. If Singles is the story of late 20 twenty-something professionals trying to find love, then Reality Bites is about their slightly younger, aimless counterparts. Reality Bites follows the love sandwich of Lelaina (Winona Ryder), Troy (Ethan Hawke), and Michael (Ben Stiller). Oh, also their is an a la carte story of Janeane Garofalo worrying that she has AIDs. Lelaina and Troy are bff and self-centered artsy types, but we all know that self-centered artsy types can never work out. They'd be constantly trying to outdo one another with their big ideas that go nowhere. Lelaina meets Michael who has his shit together. Of course Lelaina doesn't really like dudes who have their shit together. Sounds familiar. Drama ensues all while Janeane Garofalo tries spewing her sarcastic and witty observations upon everyone. In the end, Lelaina must chose between the sweet and successful Michael and the loser musician Troy. Hmmm...I wonder who she's going to pick? Side note- some of Reality Bites was shot in Austin and the screenwriter was 25 when the movie got made. Bitch.


6.) Lars and the Real Girl (2007) (Recommended by Tag Brum)
I think this movie is due for a second viewing. I liked it, but I didn't love it. However, I recall the film having a very long scene where most of the live version of Talking Heads' 'This Must be the Place (Naive Melody)' played and that makes ANYTHING ok in my book. Everyone knows that the live version is better than the studio version. It had 'Genius of Love' by Tom Tom Club too. Oh, and it also stars Ryan Gosling and even though he looks like circa 1975 pedophile, he's still irresistible in my eyes. Lars and the Real Girl follows the story of an emotionally unstable man who dresses like a lumberjack and his love for a blow-up doll. You see, Lars has trouble relating to humans and he truly believes his blow-up doll, Bianca, is real. Unfortunately, she doesn't look anything like Bianca Jagger which would have made the movie even cooler. Lars takes Bianca with him everywhere and his family is forced to treat her as though she's real as well. Lars' equally "off" co-worker, Margo, has a crush on him, but he's too clueless to realize that. After a whirlwind romance with Bianca, Lars eventually lets her "die". At Bianca's funeral, Lars and Margo walk off together insinuating that one day they may have weirdo babies just like themselves. Lars and the Real Girl is a dark and slow romantic comedy-drama written by one of the writers of Six Feet Under. Though the film may be unrelatable in that we've never fallen in love with a plastic doll, it shows us what can happen if we go off our rocker and how our family should prepare for it.


7.) Secretary (2002) (Chris Hoffman)
Secretary is in my top 10 movies of all time, but for purposes of romance, it gets pushed down this list. This movie is definitely an atypical love story. The romance doesn't really kick in until the end. Up until then it's a completely degrading and depressing roller coaster of emotion. This film stars Maggie Gyllenhaal and James Spader right before he got fat. Lee (Gyllenhaal) is just released from rehab for cutting herself. She gets a job working as the secretary to weirdo lawyer E. Edward Grey (Spader). Lee is passive and weak- everything Grey secretly loves to hate. They begin a master & servant sort of relationship and Lee deludes herself into thinking that he cares for her. As Lee's life begins to spiral out of control due to her father's drinking, Lee looks to Grey for support. He fires her, she proclaims her love for him, he tests her by telling her to sit at his desk FOREVER. Being the good little masochist that she is, she does. Her family and pseudo-boyfriend Peter (Jeremy Davies) try to save her, but she remains still. After a few days, Grey is like, "Well, shit. I guess I have to marry this chick now", and takes her home and treats her nicely. The end. Interesting side note- the short story that this is based on is NOTHING like the movie. No happy endings. In fact, the story ends with the secretary being fired and months down the road someone knocking on her door asking about her experiences with her former boss. Come to find out he's running as an elected official and they want some dirt on him. Secretary the film is actually quite a beautiful love story, with one of the best character developments I've seen in a film. If you haven't seen it, go rent it. It's actually not that raunchy and focuses more on the cerebral aspect of of domineering/passive relationship.

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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Top 8 Indie Valentine's Day Movies

Indie being a code term for "hipster". I already used up my one allotted use of the word "hipster" this week.

Many of these films aren't even indies, but they are just quirky enough to earn a place in the hearts of millions of pretentious young people like myself.

So, in honor of Valentine's Day and with a little help from my friend Levi, here are the top 8 best indie/alternative/hipster romantic movies for the death-obsessing, mixtape-making, Smiths-loving couples out there.



1.) Harold and Maude (1971)
Harold and Maude chronicles quite possibly one of the most unconventional, but beautiful relationships captured in contemporary film. Directed by a dude with one of the coolest old-man name's, Hal Ashby (Shampoo, Being There), this ground-breaking film follows the May-December romance of the young and somber Harold and the Jurassic and vivacious Maude. Harold comes from a wealthy family and he's bored with it all... and really into death. The 1970's goth kid came in the garb of polyester suits and turtlenecks. Everyone is obviously too dumb for Mr. I Have a Better Comb Over Than Donald Trump, until he meets the quirky 79 year-old Maude at a funeral that neither one was invited to. The two start talking and discover that though they have nothing in common, they both can offer a lot intellectually to one another. Harold falls for the old broad and plans to marry her. They bone. Maude announces that 80 is the perfect age to die. They share one lovely night together and then...oh, I've said too much. Harold and Maude is a classic story that continues to resonate with new audiences due to it's championing of atypical love and the idea of living life to the fullest. And watching old people gettin' it on.


2.) Annie Hall (1977)
No movie captures the love of two completely f'ed up 30-something narcissists like Annie Hall. Woody Allen sure knows how to take completely unlikeable people in real life and make then adorably non-punchable in the movies. Alvy Singer (Allen) meets Annie Hall (Keaton) during a really awkward game of tennis where she whips out her ol' reliable "la-di-da's" to win over the affection of the Jewish midget. Though the relationship starts off sweet and romantic, we watch the realities of how two people can grow apart. Unlike Blue Valentine, which makes you want to rip your heart out and then eat it in hopes of saving some part of it, Annie Hall is bittersweet but optimistic in knowing that Allen will go on to bang a lot of dames totally outside his league. Annie Hall is the sort of movie that gives faith to self-centered people that they will indeed find someone just like them one day- and then lose them.


3.) Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) (Levi)
Michel Gondry finally gave the twenty-somethings a gift they never thought they'd receive. A compelling, nuanced, serious performance from our generation's Bill Murray, Mr. Jim Carrey. And before you cry foul, riddle me this, how many times have you quoted a line from Ace Ventura, or Dumb and Dumber...that's what I thought. But Jim Carrey's performance in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind showed us a real character with believable grievances. Kate Winslet began the road to perfecting her near-perfect acting technique, and who the hell doesn't like Mark Ruffalo? It's a great love story told from a completely new perspective by chronicling the decline of a relationship in reverse, so at the beginning of the film you see how a once-loving, quirky relationship reached its breaking point. As the movie progresses you arrive at the fairy-tale, carefree happy ending... which is really the beginning...like, whoa. (the young'uns can substitute “like, whoa” with “that's so meta” if they so choose.) In the end, I don't recommend it as a first date movie...or a middle date movie. Watch it if you're alone, so you remember what it's like to be happy by dwelling on the past. That's healthy.


4.) Edward Scissorhands (1990)
If you were born in the 1980's, then you love this movie. Like love love. And if you don't, then there is something inherently wrong with you and you should be taken out behind the barn. Who thought that a love story could be so heart-breaking between a young girl with a terrible dye-job and whatever the hell Edward is. Like most fairy tales, the story of Edward Scissorhands is simple- weird robot dude with scissorhands is built by Vincent Price in a castle at the end of the street, Avon lady tries to sell robot dude some lipstick, realizes he's pretty pathetic and brings him home, his Robert Smith-demeanor charms the pants off of the young daughter much to Anthony Michael Hall's man-boob chagrin, robot dude makes some really awesome bush and ice art and wows the neighborhood, Bitch Tits tries to mess things up for robot dude, robot dude goes into hiding, the two get into a fight, Bitch Tits dies, robot dude has to stay in hiding forever at the castle at the end of the street while Bad Dye Job swirls to Oingo Boingo as an old lady. See? Like most classic fairy tales.


5.) High Fidelity (2000)
High Fidelity is the sort of book/movie you wish you made. Everything about this movie is perfect. From the pop culture references to the wisdom of break-ups to the realities of life, this movie gives me a huge bone-bone every time I watch it. Rob Gordon is a much like the 30-somethings in Annie HallAwww....real love. What makes this movie so special is that Rob has a top song list for everything that happens in his life. It also makes legions of young hipsters want to stay perpetual losers well into their 30's.


6.) Waitress (2007)
When this movie came out, I stayed away from it for two reasons- 1.) It had Keri Russell in it, and considering I only knew her from Felicity, I assumed it was going to be stupid ass and 2.) I thought it was a chick flick and I try to not think of myself as a chick though I really love The Notebook. What made me check out the movie was the sad fact that the writer/director/co-star of the movie, Adrienne Shelly, was murdered before the film was released. I'm so glad I gave this movie a chance because it is one of my all-time faves. Waitress follows the story of Jenna (Russell), a sweet waitress trapped in an abusive marriage and dead-end town. She disappointingly discovers that she's pregnant and she begins telling the unborn baby how much she hates it. Que doctor Malcolm Reynolds with his smoldering good looks and Jenna finds herself intrigued by the affection of someone other than her deadbeat husband. Romance ensues, a lot of pies are made, and Keri Russell charms the living pants off of everyone.



7.) Grosse Pointe Blank (1997) (Levi)
With an impeccable soundtrack by Joe Strummer, witty inside-banter-like dialogue and a relationship that's too cool for school, Grosse Pointe Blank became a hipster cult hit before hipsters could grow facial hair. In the film, hitman Martin Blank (John Cusack) gets invited to his 10 year high school reunion and reluctantly attends when an obligatory killing contract brings him to his home town. Blank reignites his relationship with Debi Newberry (Minnie Driver) through a flurry of “what could have been” scenes, until ultimately, the only way Blank can win his love's trust back is by killing a whole lotta guys to protect her father – the man he was sent to kill. If anything, watch it for one of the best uses of Queen/Bowie's “Under Pressure.”


8.) Punch-Drunk Love (2002) (Levi)
Probably one of the most underrated love stories of the past 20 years. P.T. Anderson's take on the socially awkward and pudding collecting character Barry Egan also fulfills the casting fantasy of actually liking a performance from Adam Sandler. In fact, I felt somehow robbed of faith in Hollywood when Sandler didn't get a nomination for best actor. But like “The Big Lebowski” before it, “Punch Drunk Love” leaves you guessing at your feelings toward the film. Was that a comedy or was I supposed to be taking that seriously.? There are parts that make me shit my pants with laughter (a date turn-off, by the way). Like when Sandler's character tracks down Dean Trumbell, the man responsible for roughing up his love, (expertly played by Phillip Seymour Hoffman) he's still clutching the phone receiver and cord he tore from the wall in a fit of rage from the previous scene. And their confrontation? “I'd say that's that, mattress man.” Classic movie line. Then there are parts where you're witnessing ooey gooey love sequences with the marvelous Emily Watson, who loves Barry even though he's one of the strangest men on earth. Definitely not for an uneducated couple, they wouldn't understand the nuance – then they'd complain to their local Blockbuster for giving them an unfunny Adam Sandler movie. Highly recommended for a smart, attractive couple with a regular sex life, because if you both enjoy the greatness of this film, you should probably stick together.

Honorable Mention:
-The Baxter (2005)
-Lars and the Real Girl (2007)
-So I Married an Axe Murderer (1993)
-Wild at Heart (1990)
-True Romance (1993)
-Moulin Rouge! (2001)
-Badlands (1973)
-Say Anything (1989)
-500 Days of Summer (2009)

What are your favorite indie romantic comedies/dramas? 

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Monday, February 07, 2011

This Must be the Place


Sunday was a quiet and simple day.

The sort of day that every person looks forward to. Sunny, warm, and sweet.

I wandered around the house pondering what to do. I was bored and feeling completely stalled.

Boredom blurs the lines of content and ambivalence.

I paced the house, I picked up and moved an object or two, I sat down, I stood up, I did 8 push-ups, I turned on the TV, I turned it off, I listened to 2 1/2 minutes of a song, I turned it off.

Finally, I stood in the doorway and looked down at the ground. Seven years ago, I thought, seven years ago this behavior would have culminated into me having a drink, me writing a bunch of nonsensical lament in my notebook, crying, then falling asleep fully clothed with streaks of mascara running down my face.

I was 20 then. I was in a new city. I knew no one. I worked 24/7. I felt utterly and completely alone. I was bored. I paced the house. I overthought. I discovered that I had insecurities. I had my heart broken by adults. I realized that not everyone was good. I drank for these truths and I cried for these truths.

Now... now I don't do any of that.

One day, I stopped feeling alone. Insecurities began peeling away and I started playing the game. The curve balls hurt a little less all the while my skin grew thicker and thicker.

I could sit alone and feel completely ok with myself.

My rite of passage came and I stopped being the insecure twenty-something who wanted to take everyone down with her.

I grew up.

Now my life is quite simply normal.

... and it's boring as all hell.

A few nights back, while having drinks with an acquaintance, I tried explaining how I sort of missed the days of emotional extremes and bad decisions. "Be careful what you wish for," he said. I knew he was right. I began shaking my head 'no' even before the words left my lips.

I don't want to return to that girl.
I didn't like her and she definitely didn't like herself.

The girl that dated certain men and deluded herself into thinking it was love. Now, now I know it isn't love, so I wait for the real thing.

It's been kind of quiet.

The girl that sat like a rag doll in front of the mirror, taking snap shots of her drunken droopy face as a reminder of how low she felt at that precise moment.

Now I barely drink- alone or socially.

The girl full of words like 'why?' and 'sorry' and 'can't' and 'no' when it should have been 'yes' and 'yes' when it should have been 'no'.

Now I'm filled with the understanding and confidence of the decisions I make.

So why do I miss her? Why do I miss those confounded days?

Because it was the beginning.
It was what I was supposed to be feeling.
It gave me something to write about.
All the questioning and scouring and longing made me feel something.
All the bad decisions taught me and all the searching brought me to...here.

The place that I am currently bemoaning.
The place I longed to be seven years ago.
The place I'm supposed to be.


Do you miss the days of twenty-something melancholy?