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Tales of a Post-Grad Nothing

Thursday, August 30, 2007

In Memoriam

A couple of months ago my ancient aunt Edna passed away. I miss her and I think about her a lot, but it wasn't sad. If anything, it was a relief for both her and our family. She was 95 and for the past five years, my aunt made a rapid decline towards human vegetable status. When she was coherent enough to know who you were, she'd openly talk about how she wanted to die, specifically to be with her husband who passed away eight years prior. But this isn't a story about death. It's a story about a funeral. There is nothing like a funeral in the small town South. It's easy to think of Virginia as being quite a long ways from the Great American South, but travel just three hours outside of Richmond and watch how they put someone into the ground. It's hard to deny that it's an entirely different world when you're surrounded by people with names Eula and Noreen (pronounced No-Reen) who sport big hats and oscillate between harmonizing the funeral dirges and wondering when it became acceptable for their grandsons to marry Mexican women.

My aunt was a Primitive Baptist. Her funeral was conducted by two Elders. The service was like listening to a religious version of Mad Libs with my aunt's name shoved in the blanks. Maybe that's just how Primitive Baptists roll, but there was nothing personal about it. None of her friends or family spoke. The Elders barely mentioned anything about who she was as a person. In fact, my aunt didn't really have to be there at all, but she was, hanging out her casket looking better than she has in the past decade and far better than many of the live ones who attended her funeral. I'm not sure if it was the embalming or the make up or simply the act of finally escaping years of declining health but whatever force it was, my aunt looked wholly content and while the Elders were ranting about Jesus and sin, I imagined her sitting next to the man himself, having a quiet chuckle at the expense of the living below.

She was buried in a family plot on a hill, which sounds quite scenic until you realize that it happens to be located across a highway from a tractor dealership and I definitely saw a couple purchase a new John Deere as they put my aunt into the ground. My grandmother was there. My aunt was her last surviving sibling out of six and of anyone in our family, my grandmother is the one impacted the most. More than seeing the body or even saying goodbye, what impacted me the most was watching my grandmother do that thing that people do when they're devastated beyond the point of feeling and are just going through the motions of life. She didn't cry or speak much, but there was a very visible frailty and as she walked from her sister's fresh grave to her brother's grave to her husband's grave and eventually to her own empty plot my heart broke into 8,000 jagged pieces, none of which were comforted by the successful tractor sale across the street.

When I think about my aunt now, I like to think that she's around for all of the best parts of my life she missed in the nursing home. I think about her when I'm singing awful Meat Loaf songs at the top of my lungs in the shower. I think about her when I go to see matinee movies alone on rainy days. I think about her when I call my grandmother on Sundays to hear her intimately discuss the lives of characters from The Bold and the Beautiful as if they're real people. And every time I smile at one of life's subtlely charming moments, I think to myself, "Can I get a high five Edna? This is what makes everything else worthwhile."

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Conversations From Today

Homeless Guy: Hey young lady, my car is broken down and I need some change to get home to my wife. She's dying of cancer and I really need to get home. Do you have any change?

Me: Sure. [hands over $0.32]

HG: I see you're not wearing a ring.

Me: Um...no

HG: You're not married?

Me: No

HG: Girl, what's your address? I'd like to come visit you sometime.

Me: What about your "wife?*"

[Really long pause, at least two full minutes. The longer silence went on, the longer stood there just for spite.]

HG: Well...she act like my wife, but we're not really...um...besides, she'll be dead soon anyway.

And they say good men are hard to find.








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* This was the first time in months that I had an excuse to use finger quotes. I don't have to tell you how exciting that was.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Conversations From Today

Me: I have to go back to Richmond for a few months for work, but I kind of want to keep a place here and start splitting my time between here and there.

Steve: Did you ask your roommate if you could keep your apartment even though you won't be here?

Me: Yeah, we talked about it. He said that I could keep renting.

Steve: At full price?

Me: I don't know, he said that "something could be arranged."

Steve: Be careful. He probably means that something could be arranged between his penis and your face.

Me: I hate it when they put that clause in a lease.

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Sunday, August 26, 2007

Confession

Sometimes when I feel down, I listen to AC/DC to remind myself to think of my thighs as "American" rather than "pasty/bulbous."

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Saturday, August 25, 2007

Random Thought

Of all the fonts, I think that Baskerville looks the most cool and collected. I told Justin yesterday that I think Baskerville is the kind of font that would max out its retirement account every year and have placemats that accented the picture frames in its house. Second to that is American Typewriter. Whenever I use it I feel like I should be writing a seedy mystery novel instead of whatever mundane thing I'm actually doing. It's sad when you think "my job simply isn't cool enough for this font."

Friday, August 24, 2007

For Those Who Wish to be Tickled Silly

A friend sent me this this morning along with caption, "There's no question in my mind as to why they call it Hotlanta." Enjoy your weekend internet.

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Thursday, August 23, 2007

Ghost Rider Is Not A Good Movie For You Or Anyone Else You Know

Last night I saw Ghost Rider because...well...look at the movie poster:



It features the worst actor on earth with half of his head on fire. The feeling that I get from seeing that poster is the same thing I would imagine angel tears falling on your face would feel like. That is simply spectacular. What isn't so spectacular is the actual film. Ghost Rider suffers from whatever you call it when the sum of something is far, far, far less than it's parts.

You would think that Terrible Actor + Motorcycle + All the Fury of Hell + The Undead + Eternal Curse + Sam Elliott + Copious Amounts of Fire + Flaming Chain Whip + That Guy That Was All Deep and Broody in American Beauty + Eva Mendes' boobs would = The Greatest Night of Your Movie-Watching Life, but it doesn't. Instead it gave me the same feeling I once got in high school when I had a pseudo-crush on this boy for probably two years and then after I went to college, I was suddenly cool enough to hang out with him, so we went to see a movie once and I realized that despite his lip piercing, he was the most boring soul on this poor planet. Oh...this isn't what I thought it would be at all. Ghost Rider has that same disappointment-bordering-on-pity aftertaste mainly because the film breaks several cardinal rules of awesomely awful film-making. Those being:

#1) The film either has to take itself completely seriously (see: Drumline, An American Werewolf in Texas, Slugs, Boa vs. Python) or not seriously at all (see: Army of Darkness, Snakes on a Plane). Anything in between (see: Ghost Rider) just comes across as awkward.

#2) Pack your film full of ridiculous one-liners. Viewers NEEEEEEEEEED righteously awful dialogue to get them through. It's our brain meat. We need to hear dialogue like the following:

Yelena: Do you know what a wire transfer is?
Xander Cage: Is she for real. Sweetheart is there anything else you need to do, let us big boys have a conversation.
Yelena: Conversation. A word with four syllables. Do you want some ice before your brain overheats.
Xander Cage: Ice. Yeah, you could chisel some off your heart, if you could find it.

Genius. I need to be inspired to turn to the person next to me and say "AWWWWWW SHIT!!!!!!!" at least five times before the end credits roll. Ghost Rider had ample opportunity to do this, what with the film being based on a part-man, part-demon who rides a firecycle through town, but didn't deliver. I did; however, appreciate the line, "Lucky don't cover it. I've got a dog named Lucky - he's got one eye and no nuts. You got an angel looking after you." I'm making it my mission to seamlessly squeeze that into conversation.

#3) A washed up actor would be nice. Someone who used to be on the A-list who now aspires to do VH1 reality shows does wonders. Throw Tootie from The Facts of Life or that guy from Empty Nest in and you're setting yourself up to take home awesomely awful gold.

I also really wanted to see more things on fire. Ideally, there would have been a scene where Ghost Rider walks in slow motion away from an entire town he has just set ablaze while some wicked metal song about bargaining with the devil plays in the background, but none of that is to be had. Instead, you get a PG-13 movie that stops way short of taking the concept of a hog-riding vigilante from hell to it's full awesomely awful potential. Director Mark Steven Johnson, when you are ready to make big boy movies, I will be happy to see them intoxicated and whisper/say at full volume inappropriate things to whoever is sitting next to me. I'm waiting...

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Thursday, August 16, 2007

Chuck Ragan Is a Rock Star (And Matt Skiba Is Pretty Good Too)

I love Chicago. I mean, I love love Chicago in the same way that people who move to New York from the Midwest all of a sudden become hyper-New Yorkians even before they've unpacked their boxes and gotten jobs. The only people in New York who wear the t-shirts are people who were not born there. The only people who walk around Chicago perma-smiling are idiots like myself who are enamored with sketch comedy shows and cheap double feature movies and turtle-racing bars (?!)

One of the main reasons I like Chicago is that there is the sheer number of unexpectedly awesome things. A week ago I went to see Chuck Ragan (from Hot Water Music) and Matt Skiba (from Alkaline Trio) play a face-meltingly sweet show. I don't see a lot of shows, mainly on account of the fact that I'm not cool at all and spend a disproportionate amount of time listening to Meat Loaf and watching reruns of Walker, Texas Ranger (a fantastically awful clip of which can be found here. Warning: Contains red-hot Western showdown action and some pretty sweet slowmo shots of Norris' behatted man mane).

Going into the aforementioned show, I was pretty skeptical about the whole thing since:

A) I hate Chuck Ragan's former band as well as the book of the same name. If I had to list THINGS I WOULD THROW IN A CANYON IF GIVEN THE CHANCE, both the band and the book would be on that list. Thankfully I don't live near any canyons or else my semi cross-eyed second grade teacher and whoever canceled Arrested Development would find themselves in a heap o' trouble.

and B) The opening band was this whiny acoustic trio and as soon as they came out, the lead singer closed his eyes and half-whispered into the mic "This is a song about a long winter." Songs about sad long winters populated by quiet depressed people who probably own a lot of cats and turtlenecks and smoke cigarettes from holders just make me want to break things. All I could think was Jesus, why don't we all just start menstruating and go home to eat chocolate and watch Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants? I'm an insensitive jerk.

Bukowski and bodily functions aside, Chuck Ragan is, as the subject header would indicate, a rock star. The show was awesome. I don't mean awesome in the way that high school kids who smell like Axe body spray use to describe their really "awesome" demo tape they made in their Mom's garage (high five bro!)*. I mean awe-inspiring, awesome in the way that one would describe a volcano or a time machine or a giant squid. Chuck Ragan sounds a lot like Henry Rollins (swoon!) to me and when paired with an acoustic guitar, his music comes across as sounding gravelly and beautiful. It's the kind of music that would be the appropriate soundtrack if you were a coal miner who had lost his wife and kids in a fire and were dead set on drowning your sorrow in gritty man verse and whisk[e]y. Chuck Ragan's music sounds like he's got nothing left in this world but a bindle full of regrets he's hauling down a slow road to hell. I can get behind that kind of depression.

Tonight I'm headed to a Moroccan restaurant then maybe to a karaoke bar. This weekend there are plans in the works for art institute-age and frenzied plays performed at warp speed and maybe a bar that features midget wrestling although the poor reviews make me skeptical. There are also Elvis impersonators and gameboy rockstars and a bar that features "Live Manimals" to be seen. Sometimes when I think about the fact that right this very second Angelina Jolie AND people who describe themselves as Manimals are running around the place where I live, I get the same feeling my friend Newman gets when he drinks too much and goes around the room telling each person exactly how much he loves them. Chicago, you're a dreamboat.

I promise that this will be the last overly gushy post about the windy city. Your regularly scheduled dose of cynicism and angst will resume tomorrow.






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* I make fun because I tried and failed to date every single one of those kids when I was in high school.

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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Midwestern 101

Today someone found this site by Googling "sex sodey." My very first thought was Here they call it sex POP ok?

Monday, August 13, 2007

I'm Not Saying They're Demons, But I'm Not Entirely Unconvinced That They're Not Demons Either



The Olson Twins scare the shit out of me.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Confession

Hey Maura:

I'll see your confession and raise you this:

In the seventh grade I made up a boyfriend named Roger because, you know, Roger is a really contemporary name for my generation. Roger was in high school and drove a motorcycle and was really into making out and buying me Hello Kitty pencil cases. Roger was especially hot because he was not into looking at Stacy Hawk's big dumb boobs unlike my sixth grade boyfriend. I spent the majority of that year drawing ROGER IS MY BOYFRIEND AND NOT YOURS on my shoes and carefully crafting steamy details about our relationship that included things like "Roger likes to kiss me with his hot face" and "Roger and I sometimes read books and then French." Sometimes I think that Roger and I's relationship was one of the healthiest I've ever had.

Your turn internet. Leave deliciously guilty confessions in the comments or e-mail me the extra seedy ones.

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Thursday, August 09, 2007

Brain Flutters vs. Stomach Butterflies

People say that the best part of meeting someone new is the stomach butterflies, but that’s not true. The best part is the brain flutters. Brain flutters are what you get when you’re not immediately attracted to someone, but they happen to say something so perfect that it turns your cerebellum from an articulate fully functioning brain into a ticker machine that can only spit out commands like BLUSH -- GIGGLE -- SAY SOMETHING DUMB -- FALL OVER -- MAKE A REFERENCE NOBODY WILL UNDERSTAND -- LAUGH TO YOURSELF BECAUSE IT REALLY IS CLEVER AND IF THE PERSON YOU WERE TALKING TO JUST KNEW WHO NIELS BOHR WAS THEY WOULD THINK IT WAS FUNNY TOO -- TRY TO EXPLAIN WHO NIELS BOHR WAS -- GET TOO EMBARASSED TO FINISH EXPLANATION AND FADE TO AN INDECIPHERABLE MUMBLE -- DRINK TO PREVENT YOURSELF FROM TALKING ANY MORE -- FALL OVER AGAIN -- DIE INSIDE. Those are the commands that my brain spits out at least.

I love the brain flutters. I live for the brain flutters. For the past three weeks I’ve been getting a very serious case of the brain flutters thanks to an ongoing e-mail correspondence with a boy who lives literally on the other side of the planet. When I have something in my inbox that says “You know I can recite the first 20 elements from the periodic table right?” or "The weather here is shocking. It's really putting a damper on things...get it?...DAMPer?" I have no choice but to giggle girlishly and fall over sighing. E-mailed brain flutters are the best because you have the power to edit things and because it takes forever to figure out that someone’s really an ass over e-mail. You have weeks of selfishly imagining that said person is charming and witty and generally a decent person before realizing that they have a weird Drakkar Noir/mothball smell or they hate fat people for no reason or they really want a girl that’s just like their mother. Also, I’m better with crafting charming e-mails than with navigating through the sweaty-palmed world of hanging out in person. With the mighty power of editing, I can hide the fact that I have no social skills. They can hide their character flaws. We can both be content in delightful best-foot-forward pseudo-anonymity. Most days, I’m much more excited to just have a charming e-mail sitting in my inbox than actual dates on my calendar.

This morning I woke up and after turning various shades of purple while reading three full pages on how extraordinary the Saturn V rocket really is, I unfortunately made it this part:

“…it costs a $68 entry fee to see the Saturn V which I'm more than fine with, but serves as a spiked barrier to the jews i'm traveling with…”

Classy. I’m not sure if I’m more disappointed that my brain flutter is the kind of kid who makes casual ethnic slurs or that he’s grammatically too lazy to capitalize them. Either way, the fantasy is over which is sad because I was way more in love with the clever, quirky, collected, cool-sounding chick in the e-mails than the anxious, awkward, insecure one who spent an embarrassing amount of time writing them. But that’s why pseudo-anonymous brain flutters are much more dangerous than real live stomach butterflies. It’s not the blissful idea of a perfect someone. It’s the blissful idea of a perfect you which is infinitely harder to say goodbye to than a well-dressed, physics-lovin, deliciously-accented man geek from across the sea. It was really nice while it lasted.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Bringing Sexy Back One Floor Covering At a Time

This is a rug that's for sale near my house:



Whenever I pass by and see it's exoticism staring me in the face, I try to imagine a context...any context...where that particular gem of a household accessory would fit in. The only image I can ever conjure up involves someone whispering "I love your musk" and a lot of Sinead O'Connor's "Nothing Compares" playing in the background. Also this guy plays a pretty prominent role:



Every time I pass by that rug, I'm left with the overwhelming conclusion that my life isn't nearly decadent enough.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Item #7186 on the Thank God I'm Kind of Broke Since Any Money I Gets Me Paws On Would Definitely Be Squandered on Items Like This List

This is on sale in my neighborhood:



It's too ridiculous to even be snarky about. Rappin With Jesus is like looking glory right in the eye.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Conversations From Friday

Setting: Subway, 5:50-ish PM

My friend Steve: Have you ever wondered what it would feel like to cast a spell?

Me: What?

Steve: What do you think it would feel like to have magic come out of your fingers? Like do you think it would tingle to have stars and powder and stuff come out of your hands? Couch, if you were a wizard and did fingerguns, you could have real smoke come out.

Me: I'd want cartoon flags to come out of my magic fingerguns. I think you'd probably be able to feel magic if it were coming out of your hands. You can feel sweat on your hands.

Steve: Which is like magic...sweaty gland magic.

Me: You can feel static electricity. That's what I think it would feel like, only more star-shaped.

Steve: Do you think wizards have holes in their fingers, you know, where the magic comes from?

Me: Like big wizardy finger pores?

Steve: Wizard pores gross me out.

Me: I'm going to put all of this on the internet when I get home.

Steve: Yeah, I know.

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Saturday, August 04, 2007

A Short List of People I'd Like to Know

1. Whoever designed this site.

2. This girl.

3. The guy who created this. I'm pretty much enamored by anyone who can inspire a discussion about whether Munch's Make Believe Band is racist. Bonus footage here.

4. This guy, but mainly just to see how high on the creepiness scale he ranks.

5. Sting.

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Friday, August 03, 2007

James Lee Burke is the New Dan Brown

I love everything about this subway ad:



* Presence of extra manly cowboy hat: Check
* Author who looks like the kind of guy who'd give hearty handshakes and say ridiculous things like "I knows my way around some barbecue now:" Check
* Blurb from Entertainment Weekly that compares cowboy-hatted author to someone I've never heard of: Check
* Book that is as giant as the author's entire torso: Check
* Tagline that's impossible to read without hearing the movie trailer guy voice in your head, adding an extra dun, dun, duuuuuuuuuuuun! at the end in place of the elipses: Check

Also, isn't mentioning the real post-Katrina storm while we're still in the middle of cleaning up the New Orleans area kind of like telling Holocaust victims "you haven't seen the real tragedy yet [dun, dun, duuuuuuuuuun]?" My favorite part of the ad, which you can't really see from my grainy cell phone camera work there, is the cover of the book which features a man playing saxophone with what looks like a burst of flames behind him. Awesome. Play on man, even if the Titanic sinks and the entire town burns to the ground behind you. Play on.

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Thursday, August 02, 2007

Confession

I know it's juvenile, but I keep a copy of this picture:



in my wallet just behind my subway pass and every time I have to go somewhere, I'm kind of surprised by the fact that a hilariously screaming child is staring back at me and I laugh out loud to myself, sometimes for a good 30 seconds. I'm almost 100% sure that the woman who works at my subway stop thinks I'm mentally retarded and she gives me this look of confusion and pity every time I come through. I never say anything because explaining that not only do I carry around a picture of a terrified child receiving a "You're Adopted!" message via a cat bursting forth from a birthday cake, but I also routinely forget that it's there and laugh with delight every single time I rediscover it, makes me sound even more disturbed than just being the kid that laughs for no reason at subway stops. It's a really sad day when you think to yourself, "Just let the subway lady think you're retarded. It's way better than the truth."

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