My amazing friend Dyna makes this "Mad Men"-derived desktop art. Here is her December/New Year's image, inspired by the last episode of Season One:
I thought of this episode when I first heard this song off of T.I.'s 2008 record "Paper Trail." It is, like most songs on the album, super-cheesy and earnest and I really, really love it and believe it extra-hard.
Dyna started making "Mad Men" art because a guy we know from UCB, Rich Sommer, is on the show, and commissioned some for his Christmas card. Dyna kept doing it and ended up getting a huge following among people who actually make the show and ended up getting hugged really hard and talked nearly to death by the show's creator. (You can read Dyna's account of that here.)
I started talking to this girl Allison at UCB about "Mad Men" while I was bartending and she was interning and we bonded over our weekly breakdowns of the show and next year I'm going to DJ her wedding.
I like the idea that Dyna will read this and maybe listen to that T.I. song. Dyna is awesome but she is perhaps the least listening-to-T.I. person I know, so I just like the idea that through some nonsense I write I can bring the two together.
And I think that's what I'm getting at, if anything, about this year and next year. I hope we all, and I don't just mean people I know, I mean everybody, keep trying to live the kind of lives that engender these sorts of weird connections where we look around the room and go "how the fuck did I get here?" in a great way. I hope we mix it up. Have surreal experiences. Get really wide open, knowing full well that when we are that open we are way more likely to get disappointed and hurt but also knowing it's the only way we'll ever get anywhere, and it will either be worth it, or we will look back on things and go "I still wouldn't have done it any other way."
I hope we give people the benefit of the doubt, I hope we look each other right in the eye, I hope we see the potential for adventure in everything. I want us to introduce new friends to old friends, and then we all hop on mythical beasts and go fight our way through hell and halfway through we turn around and go "Not only are these people great assets in this fight through hell, but they're getting along famously."
There will be road trips and songs that remind you of next summer that you haven't even heard yet, haven't even been written yet, and by this time next year you will consider some people close friends who are complete strangers to you at this moment. Maybe you've already met them but you just don't know what they'll end up being to you eventually, which I always think is the coolest.
Everything is uncertain so we should go ahead and do what it is we really believe in. Right?
Here's another ultra-earnest T.I. song from 2008 I believe like gospel.
When I was a child I liked to
lay in bed Saturday mornings
and pretend the blankets,
pulled up to envelope me,
were an alien monster stomach
digesting me fully.
I found this impossibly romantic.
I assume this is a common experience.
Dude, you guys! If you like making things, the making-of featurettes on the "Wall-E" DVD are a must-see!
"I remember Andrew talking once about story as kind of a paleontological dig. You're finding the bones, you're dusting off the bones, and sooner or later you're going to figure out what that dinosaur is."
- Derek Thompson, Story Artist
Ever person at Pixar, you guys are gods of specificity, decision-making, perfectionism, and world-changing robot love.
To me, accusing something (a song, a movie, a book) of being sentimental is kind of like accusing food of containing butter, or fat. Granted, too much is bad, but containing those things, that's what makes it good, y'know? You can make something entirely devoid of sentiment just like you can make food that normally has butter or fat without those things, but expect me to be more impressed by it as a technical achievement than I am eager to put it in me.
And I guess there are people who seek more to be proud of themselves for consuming something, to be the kind of person who consumes those things, than they do to actually enjoy something for its own sake. And everybody's taste is different, and variety is important. And I absolutely want to go all over the world and consume all kinds of things, but I will probably be most attracted to the ones that are oozing with the warm sustaining stuff: the butters and fats and oils, the things that take place in your mouth rather than in somebody else's eyes. I want things that contain the good stuff in interesting ways, that contextualize it unpredictably and end up delivering more of a wallop for having been so sneaky. I want it new. But I still want it to contain that good stuff.
I guess what I am saying is, some of the movies you liked when you were a kid are crap when you watch them now because you were a kid and you were just excited to be at the movies and the movie itself is total sugar, and some of them are actually completely resonant masterworks for how simple and honest and unapologetically epic they are, and a lot of them are somewhere in between. You don't have to say your reasoning for having it in your DVD collection is because you think the 80's haircuts are funny. You can go ahead and admit it rules.
And I guess I'm also saying that I am more than happy to be classified as "oversentimental" if it means I get to eat macaroni and cheese and watch "The Goonies."
Friends of mine have been fucking with xtranormal.com for a few days. It's a new site where you input text and it automatically generates a little animated movie.
The new medium has already had its "Citizen Kane." Donald made it, and it's a series called "Howard And Leslie." It's like "Citizen Kane" if "Citizen Kane" were about a girl and the maladjusted guy she dated for a second, and all the characters were big 3-D cartoon dogs who stand near-motionless in a pretty cartoon field and speak in computerized monotone, and it were dispensed in twenty-second episodes.
Gethard called it "maybe the funniest thing I've ever seen," and that's not far wrong. Start here with the first episode and work your way up.
Also: Saturday is my birthday, and my brother's birthday, and my stepmom's birthday, and my cousin's birthday. I will be twenty-four. They will be various ages.
I didn't post this before in my flurry of Jason-Anderson-song-uploading, so I will do it now because it's seasonally appropriate. Well, not for me. I'm in Arizona and it's sixty-five and sunny. Which is pretty glorious. But I love this song so hard and the third verse (after the Phil Spector drums) contain some of the best-ever lyrics. No joke!
Merry Christmas, you guys! I hope you don't have to do anything tomorrow but eat and drink and sit on couches surrounded by wrapping paper and respond in the affirmative to your nephew asking you if you want to have a snowball fight. May it be awesome!
As a rule I try not to listen to songs over and over again but for whatever reason, for me this one is play-out-proof.
STORIES, REMASTERED! - A couple years ago a weird glitch fucked up a bunch of stories I'd posted. I am (slowly) going back and fixing them. Here are some I've fixed.
It is only now,
staring out the airplane window
over the man in the window seat
reading the USA Today sports page,
cocking my head to see a softened square
containing smokestacks and
that I identify this collection of feelings as sacred:
elation and exhaustion and nerves
and dread and joy and frustration
and gratitude and impatience and
ambition and jadedness and awe.
I’m sure the Germans have a word
that encapsulates it all and saves you like,
I’m sure it was coined by a 23-year-old German kid
who was fed up with the amount of things he had to feel
and his inability to feel them one at a time,
and I’m sure like me he was in love with words
but often disappointed by their failure
and definitely disappointed in this case,
until he remembered that unlike me,
he spoke German,
and he could cram a bunch of harsh sounds together
and pretty much nail it.
And once he did
I’ll bet he realized
he’d left one thing out
and try as he might he could not work it in there,
it would cause his emotional super-cocktail adjective to fly apart,
but the one thing
that was always there at the base
which he hoped would always be there
was a deep thankfulness
towards whoever scripts our lives
and allows us to act in them.
I am back home in Arizona, home to some of the rawest dudes in the game. For instance, Steven Spielberg, Sandra Day O'Connor, and several scenes from "Bill And Ted's Excellent Adventure." RAW!
I will be here until the thirty-first of December.
A lot of hoopla always goes on this time of year on the Internet in regards to people's top albums of the year. Most of the contemporary stuff I listened to in 2008 was albums by rappers offering instructions on how best to hustle, and Jason Anderson. But my favorite non-either-of-those-things album was by a band from New Jersey called The Gaslight Anthem.
They are a scrappy punk band who play music heavily, heavily influenced by Springsteen. If you like hopeless romanticism and references to cool old cars, they are the band for you. And the songs, the songs, you guys, the songs. They write such bleedin' awesome songs.
Here are three of them! I wish I was in New York when they play in two days, but it's also okay that I'm here.
The question was, is that really all it takes to make it super-awkward in this bar, a broken jukebox? The answer was yes. And after you said the answer it was weirdly quiet and you thought, I should go home.
On the subway platform the other night a girl was reading a text message she had received aloud to her friend. It was from a guy she clearly thought was a creep, apologizing if she got the impression that he was awkward around her. She read it loudly in a sarcastic voice. He signed off with the words "all is cool."
"All is cool." I do not know the guy but I suspect that he is guilty of moustache.
When I was a little kid I wore a lot of over-sized T-shirts as pajamas. They were often things my mom would bring home from computer-industry conventions, like I remember a red modernist cartoon head with microchips coming out of it, and a lot of slogans that followed the template "(Verb)ing Solutions." I also remember a couple movie-related giveaway t-shirts, like one from the from the Tom Hanks movie "Punchline" with the slogan "It only hurts when you laugh!," which I feel like explains a lot. I also think there was a "Turner & Hooch" shirt, which explains nothing.
I hadn't been to see any of these movies, my parents would bring the shirts back from when they'd go out on a weekend night. It feels like this happened a lot but it was probably just the two times. I don't know what theater it was that was giving away huge t-shirts with ever ticket purchased to a Tom Hanks vehicle. I hope they are still in business.
As an adult, it seems like you are discouraged from wearing a garment so big you can tent up your entire body inside of it while drinking a glass of milk and treating every minute of TV you get to watch as sacred, no matter what's actually on, before somebody spots you and says, "bedtime."
Two teenage boys get on a subway car
and their friend doesn’t get on because
“Coach told him to take” another train
and his one friend shouts through the closing door,
“They’re the same thing, retard!”
And instantly a woman sitting alone near the door
reading Variety goes,
“That’s not nice!”
and mumbles some more things under her breath,
and the boys are just silent.
Lady: you are fighting the wrong battle.
Telling teenage boys not to call each other “retard”
is like telling the sky not to be blue
or telling the wind not to whisper “retard.”
I had the distinct honor of directing this sketch group, 27 Kidneys, for several months this year. UCB has this thing, Maude Night, which are their "house sketch teams." Each one consists of a writing staff and a team of actors who do an all-new show every month. Directing/head-writing sketch is one of the only jobs I feel legitimately qualified to do, and they asked me to do it and then kept asking me. It was incredibly fun and satisfying to direct people that talented.
This is a video written and narrated by Kidneys writer Lee Rubenstein. I drew the pictures.
Let us now praise some awesome guys!
Nick Kocher and Brian McElhaney are a very good sketch duo who came out of NYU. They perform and make videos under the name BriTANick. I was bartending at UCB one night during their show, only some of which I caught because I was eating dinner and doing bits in the box office, but what I did see I liked and this video blew me away:
It's an I-wish-I'd-thought-of-that premise, awesomely executed. They are both super-nice dudes in real life. As an actor who will presumably be going out for the same roles as them, I'm intimidated by the fact that they're attractive and at least a year younger than me, so I will say nice things about them here in hopes that when they career-devour me, they will do it gently.
Their website is here. Their videos are well-crafted. I once pitched this as a tagline for a comedy group consisting of some friends of mine that didn't end up happening, but it applies here: The Future Of Comedy Is White Dudes.
Some noir-ish DERRICK fliers I made. They feature the photographs of Weegee. (Actually, I think the second one is a picture OF Weegee taking pictures. Either way, it has a big fake gun and some fire escapes in it, so you pretty much can't go wrong.)
Please do not throw around
the word “love” so much.
There are some of us
who like to make mix CDs
really, really, really early
in a relationship.
So early that the word
might sour the whole
I mean, Christ:
Have you been out here?
Please write fewer songs
of no-preconditions devotion.
We are set for songs
that say “forever.”
If you could do us all a favor
and pen a few
that would be great.
We, the pre-emptive mixers, would be so grateful
we might even start paying for music again.
Or at the very least,
when you come through town
I will come to your show.
If you really nail this,
I’ll be bringing somebody along.
That's two guaranteed ticket sales
for just a little cageyness,
a little dressed-down emotion
for the modern-day cling-phobic lonelypants.
Well, this gets a dude right where he lives. If I ran a blog like Kanye's where pretty much all I did was publish links to neat things, I would annotate this one "ILL!"
Via Will Hines.
That a guy from a bar
you forgot you gave your number to
could call you…
This seemed unfair,
letting your worst night
call you on the telephone.
She half-expected him to be
calling through time
from that night,
Come pick yourself up,
you’re a mess.
I listen to this song when it is early and I have to go do something important. I used to listen to it mornings when we were on the movie and you'd have to get up before dawn and you could not believe the alarm clock. Like, not understand it as a concept.
This is from the album that was going to be "The Carter III," but it leaked, so Lil Wayne said, "That's fine, I'm going to record a whole new album instead." And now he's nominated for seven Grammys.
That's a standard of un-protectiveness, trust, productivity, and just plain balls we should all try to live up to. Sometimes when you first wake up it seems impossible, so we have songs like this one that help us to say: "I will go out there and get it, you will or won't understand."
My friend Alison says in high school she knew a set of super-hot female twins who were genius-level smart, and their mom let them smoke in the house. Their mom was a syndicated newspaper columnist and she was no slouch in the looks department either and they all wore high heels and on vacation, people would call them triplets.
My friend Rebecca told me about her great-aunt, a very strong woman who they're pretty sure was poisoned by her second husband. After she died, her family tried to get the husband to mail a painting of Maude, done by her first husband, back from where they lived overseas. The never-brought-to-justice poisoner rolled the painting up the wrong way and it self-destructed as they unpacked it in America.
People are always telling you tiny awesome movies from their past.
Today seems to be a good day
to loudly apprise your female companion
of your opinion about everything
if you’re a guy in the park at lunch.
“Guys are stupid, women are irrational!
You know this!”
screams the Orthodox Jewish dude
at the girl he’s with.
“Genetics is bullshit!”
screams the tall Asian guy
at the girl he’s with.
I promise any woman kind enough to dine with me
kind attention and nice periods
I guarantee a harangue-free lunch hour.
Unless you bring up the modern American theater.
I’ve got a corker of a rant prepared
about that shit-show.
Warning: the following song is a terrific winter song. I listened to it in Michigan a few weeks ago because I am a fan of pointlessly geography-and-time-specific culture-consumption experiences. (For the same reason, I always read "Catcher In The Rye" in December in New York. Try it! It rules, if you're a complete geekazoid.)
If you go way back in the archives you will probably find me saying something very similar about this song when I was in high school. I am hard-pressed to front on the emo/pop-punk of the late nineties and early two-thousands. In fact, I probably fronted on it more when I was in its target demographic, in high school. I thought I was cool. Now that I'm sure I'm not cool, I am free to enjoy things.
Also: I think a good name for a band would be "The Mouth-Fucking Runaways." Our influences include Violence Beach and Cough Syrup Sleep. We are searching for a drummer, a bassist, a guitarist, a lead singer (who is hopefully also a songwriter), a girlfriend to go through a messy break-up with the lead singer/songwriter that inspires the material for our first album, and a roadie/merch guy who will get maybe too big of a kick out of telling people in small towns we're driving through the name of our band, but is also a physically imposing enough dude that none of them will do anything about how creeped out and offended they are by it.
No one need apply.