Sunday, August 15, 2010

God, Science and Narcissism

Here's an actual conversation I've had with a co-worker.

--- So do you believe that possums are lucky?
--- No. What? No. Wait, what?
--- Y'know, possums. Do you think they're lucky? Because I saw a possum – the same possum, I think – in my yard three different times and my Chinese mailman tells me that possums are lucky.
--- I believe possums are gross and carry disease.
--- Well what animals do you believe are lucky?
--- Uh... none of them, I guess.
--- You... DON'T believe in Power Animals?

No, because that's ludicrous. I don't believe in ghosts or curses or luck or leprechauns or any of that dumb stuff. That's dumb stuff. For dummies. You idiots. Sheesh. I do, however, believe in God. Despite doing everything that people do that lead to atheism – being raised Catholic, majoring in physics, going to a state school in Massachusetts, I was even an altar boy for eight years in the molestiest area of Christendom – I'm still a believer. I'm no longer Catholic.

I'm terrible at meeting new people. My wife's solution is for me to start going to church. There are people at church, and we already have something in common. That'll serve as a nice starting point. Right? Yeah! I guess. Not really. No. Not even a little. I don't really like talking about my faith with other people. It's distasteful. It lies somewhere between “how much do you make?” at the dinner table and a dick-measuring contest at a funeral.

Sharing a common faith also seems like it's not exactly fertile ground for conversation, either.

--- So uh, how 'bout that Christ, huh?
--- Yeah. How cool was he?
--- Right!? Dying for our sins! Just for us!
--- I know! What a mensch!

*****

I resent being lumped in with other believers. I'm not one of those weirdos who things the Earth is only 5,000 years old and the Jews buried dinosaur bones in 1922. I think gay marriage should be legalized. I abhor the idea of prayer in schools. I hate – HATE – the Boy Scouts. I refuse to vote for somebody if their platform has anything to do with God.

I hate the constant shoving match between Religion and Science. Nothing gets my blood boiling quite like Kirk Cameron and company talking about bananas and how they're proof of God's endless love because they're the perfect food for humans. Aaaaaagh. The bananas we eat are engineered in a Godless laboratory by scientists. And they're delicious!

[Sidenote regarding engineered food: I love naturally engineered food. If you can plant a tree that naturally yields lemons and limes, I'm all for it. Although it'll be tough to figure out what's a lime and what's an unripe lemon. Or the other way around, I forget. It's the scary, creepy Monsanto genetic engineering that bothers me. It's evil and it's icky. My wife's mom's husband (you figure out the relation to me, I don't care to) once suggested I could move to Fresno and work for Monsanto. His heart was in the right place, I guess. I'm still not sure if I'm more repulsed by the idea of working for Monsanto or living in a city whose only major attraction is a bunch of underground trees. Which, to be fair, has a lot of naturally engineered miracles of science. There's a tree that bears like, six different kinds of fruit. Maybe there you've got a crossroads of God and Science. Kirk Cameron ought to look into that.]

*****

What it really comes down to, the more I think about it, is narcissism. What kind of narcissist are you? Are you the kind of narcissist who believes that there is a Benevolent Creator who watches over YOU and cares about YOU and every stupid thing that YOU do? Are you the kind of narcissist who believes that YOU are able to say with absolute certainty that YOU are able to say that there's nothing?

Truly, scientifically, intellectually, the place to start is agnosticism. I started off as an agnostic, then started leaning towards believing, then I became a believer. [Note: I was always a narcissist.] I'm not sure how or when or why. A lot of it came from my love of science. The massive, expansive universe. The same cold, unloving, randomness that most atheists say is the absence of God is the reason for my faith.

There was a discussion a couple of years ago with theoretical physicist Brian Greene. His belief is that, given an infinite universe, using a finite number of unique atoms, there must be an infinite number of exact duplicates of everything. There are an infinite number of Josh Grimmers out there, and an infinite number of Brian Greenes, and an infinite number of everythings and everyones and all kinds of stuff. It's like a cosmic version of the monkeys and typewriters theory. In this talk, he allows for the possibility of something, somewhere, being able to create and control its own miniature infinite universe. (Fucking noodle on that phrase. Miniature infinite universe. Amazing.) He acknowledges the fact that we – our universe – may be controlled by such an entity. This, more than anything, affirmed my faith. Not bananas. Hard (theoretical) science. Maybe I'm tailoring the facts to fit my beliefs. That's what everyone does. We're all narcissists here, we're on the Internet.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

A real imaginary conversation with an imaginary real person.

The Internet, as we all know, is now little more than porn, email and social networking. Well, guess what – those are the only three things I used it for anyhow. Recently Prince declared the Internet dead. Over. Passe. Yesterday's news. Old hat. Six boats – whatever your preferred expression might be. I disagree, if for no other reason than Twitter. Twitter has given me so much over the past few months. Firstly, foremostly, and mostly importantly, Twitter has given me htwoshop.

Three or four months ago, htwoshop started following me. I'm not sure where he came from. I mean, Japan. He came from Japan, and he's probably still there. I'm just not wholly sure how he came to find me. He speaks – at best – horribly broken English. Maybe he's just reading my posts in order to work on his English? He's always tweeting about language. Anyhow – here's what's important: I love htwoshop, and I'm pretty sure he loves me, too. Whenever I'm sad, I like to read his tweets. They keep me sane and grounded.

---

@htwoshop Good morning! My name is htwoshop!,,How are you?

@JoshGrimmer Not great, htwoshop. Not great. I just feel... I dunno – empty. You know how sometimes you're eating something super hot and you burn your tongue, and for the next few days you have trouble tasting things? I've had that feeling for a few weeks now, off and on. I know I should be happy – things are going well. I'm just feeling sort of dead, you know?

@htwoshop Rebarezzi is teko~~! On fx! I want to bictoriy.Becouse happy?

@JoshGrimmer Exactly! Happy. I want to be happy. Speaking of “Rebarezzi is teko~~!,” FX has some pretty solid shows right now. Big fan of “Damages” and “It's Always Sunny,” and “Louie” is really coming into its own. *sigh* I don't even really feel like I have time for TV anymore, htwoshop. If I don't have to go to work, I seldom get out of bed before noon, and if I do it's only to eat or go to the bathroom. I just feel like I've hit my nadir, man. I'm about 90 percent miserable.

@htwoshop 10pa-sent! no no no.

@JoshGrimmer I suppose you could look at it that way. I'm 10 percent happy. You've got a point. I think maybe I should write more – writing usually makes me pretty happy.

@htwoshop Today blog title is 「every day 芋」

@JoshGrimmer Every day seems like a bit much. Maybe a couple times a week?

@htwoshop End result is 30 pa-sent plus!!

@JoshGrimmer Exactly! I'd be well on my way at that point.

@htwoshop Net cafe now! I am hangry.But but but sleepy~~~&buzy!...

@JoshGrimmer Well, I won't keep you, htwoshop. Thanks for being so friendly.

@htwoshop Tomorrow is mode change! dedede~~.But no change's good action! ok?

@JoshGrimmer Right! Starting tomorrow, I'll write more. Hey, htwoshop? Uh, I don't know how to say this, but... Uh... I love you.

@htwoshop..........なう。and I love you 弾き終わった

Monday, August 2, 2010

You'd think I'd love a play about hanging yourself to get an erection. Hm.

I feel like I should begin by saying that I love my wife. I love my wife, she's a great actress, and she's not the problem here.

I spent my Saturday night watching the worst play I've ever seen in my entire life. Ever, ever, bar none.

My wife is the type of person who acts. This is fine. I mean, without actors, movies would be, you know, boring and stuff. And I mean, who'd be on TV? I guess there'd still be sports and stuff, but I need my Two Point Five Men (I believe that is the name of the show.) My wife is a pretty good actor. I feel like the more I say it, the less true it sounds, but she really is great.

My wife is so good at acting, she was just in two plays at once. Both at the same theatre, and with the same director. Good for her, right? She likes acting, and she gets to act. A lot. She also doesn't have to see her husband, which is a nice little side effect. It was nice for me, too. Not having my wife around really gave me a lot of time to sit down at the computer and get writing, you know? Just be really fucking prolific. Wait, what? I've only written two things in the past couple months? What the fuck have I been doing then? Oh, right. Work and Twitter. Well, you know, those 140 characters add up.

Anyhow, back to the play. Waiting for Godot. For weeks and weeks, my wife would come home from rehearsal and shout something along the lines of “I HATE MY DIRECTOR AND THE OTHER ACTORS ARE TERRIBLE AND THIS PLAY IS FUCKING AAAAGRHARHARHRHGH.” Pretty much every night. She would eventually regain her composure and ask me when I was planning on coming to see the play. The answer is never.

Some fun facts about this particular production of Waiting for Godot.

--- Waiting for Godot was written for a cast of five men. Apparently Samuel Beckett so loathed the idea of women being cast in this play that he attempted to make it illegal to do so. Since my wife is a woman, it can be safely assumed that he failed in this particular legal endeavor. This did not, however, stop the Beckett Estate from contacting the director and trying to put a stop to the production. Didn't work. Too bad. According to my wife, there was one night where only two people showed up. Apparently the director and Vladimir (using character names because I don't know anybody's real name) decided that somehow the Beckett people went around and started a whisper campaign against this particular production, scaring crowds away. Or, it got no publicity and sucked. Either way.

--- The young lady who played Pozzo is a vegetarian. There's a pretty important part in Act One where Pozzo eats some chicken and Estragon eats the bones. After days of jerking the cast around, deciding whether or not she could even do the play at all, Pozzo finally found out that she'd have to eat chicken. She flipped out and almost quit the play. Now, I was a vegetarian for eight years. I totally get where she's coming from. She doesn't want to even handle the meat or the bones or whatever. I'm back to eating meat, but I still don't like handling meat or bones or whatever. I'm not going to crucify her for having convictions. She's still an idiot for not reading the play before auditioning. Or, you know, being familiar with a famous play. More on Pozzo later.

--- I have a feeling nobody went to the show because of the flier. The image they use is atrocious:
Photobucket

It looks like an ad for the discount Pink Floyd laser light show over at the Hollywood Laserium Cybertheater. The other major problem I have with the flier is the horrible selection of quotes. “The greatest play of the 20th Century ignites the 21th!!!” and “A mind-expanding experience!” Sorry guys, but Inception was easily the most mind-expanding experience of the Twenty-Oneth Century.

I really, really didn't want to go see this play. At least my wife knew it. My only hope was to work every Friday and Saturday night for five straight weeks, that way I'd have an excuse. Things were cruising along nicely until Saturday night. I had the night off, and it was closing night for the play. I couldn't not go. My wife gave me directions from work to the theatre, and even pre-bought me a ticket. No escape.

By the time I got to the theatre, I was exhausted. Waking up at 6am, working nearly nine hours at the Dream Factory, never, ever sleeping – all of these things add up to a very tired Josh Grimmer. By the time I made it into the theatre, found my seat and began to wait for the play to start, I had fallen asleep. My hope was I'd be the only person to show up, and they'd cancel. Sadly not the case. I was startled awake by the director, Ross, making the pre-show announcement. He comes out, tells everyone they're there to see Waiting for Godot. Good start. Then he tells everyone where the bathroom is. It's behind the stage, and to the left. More on the bathroom – and Pozzo – later. Instead of telling everyone to hold their pee until intermission, he said “If you need to go during the show, that means you'll have to walk through the stage! Maybe our actors will interact with you! The magic of theatre in Los Angeles!” This, apparently, was not what he was told to say. Luckily nobody got up during the show to pee. He had to be reminded from backstage to tell everyone to turn off their phones. It was like a visit from Arclight Petey, but somehow even less funny.

---Act One---

Lights off, curtain drawn, all of that. Lights up, and holy shit Vladimir is loud and bad at acting. He's shouting, mugging, prancing and gallivanting about. At one point he leans forward, into the first row and shouts in the face of the people right in front. Like, three inches away, if that. A few minutes later, they walked out. Then Pozzo and Lucky make their grand appearance. The most tragic kind of overacting is when the actor decides to go over the top in an attempt to disguise the fact that they don't quite understand the material. Pozzo was very, very guilty of this. Oh, and she was dressed like a Droog. That still wasn't the worst thing about her. I was sitting in the sixth of eight rows. I was tired and weary and glassy-eyed. I could still clearly see her nipple piercings beneath her shirt.
Photobucket


Now, I'm not the mayor of Squaresville, Daddyo. I like a good nipple piercing. (Nothing bigger than a B, by the way. Looks kinda weird.) I like tattoos, weird hair, crazy make-up, whatever. If you alter your body in a way that makes you more interesting to look at, then I'm game. However, I assure you that your character doesn't call for pierced nipples. I'm not saying you should take them out, just, you know, wear a bra.

Side note: One of the problems with Ross telling the audience that the play might take a turn for the interactive if someone went to the potty was it gave me a nigh-irresistible urge to heckle. I didn't, but boy did I want to. “We could hang ourselves!” “PLEASE DO.”

In addition to Vladimir screaming at the people in the front, Lucky has a giant screaming monologue that he delivered to the last person in the front row. It was awful. Just awful. Nobody else walked out, but it was really fucking uncomfortable. Apparently Vladimir and Lucky were asked by the other actors to step back a few feet for their screaming, but they refused. THIS IS THEATRE, MAN. THEY JUST HAVE TO FUCKING DEAL WITH IT. Yeah, except they paid you money.

---Intermission---

Lights off, lights on, intermission. I made a bee-line for the bathroom. As I got there, Pozzo was leaving. She had the same look on her face that you get when you hit a seagull with your car. She had shit this bathroom up like nobody's business. After I had done my business, I made it a point to leave the seat up so that it was perfectly clear that I wasn't the source of that horrifying stink. Back to my seat. Back to sleep.

---Act Two---

I woke up about five minutes into Act Two, when Vladimir started screaming again. No rest for the patron of the arts, I guess. The thing that bothered me the most about this particular performance was the remaining audience member in the front row. He was laughing and guffawing with with an intensity normally reserved for Gallagher shows. He was loving this shit and snapping pictures with great joy. I spent much of Act Two drifting in and out of sleep, checking text messages (bad patron!), and sighing loudly. I have no idea how women fake orgasms – I can barely fake watching a play. As Pozzo and Lucky roll around blindly on the floor, Vladimir screams and Estragon makes snide remarks, I could do little to keep myself from screaming and running out.

Finally, the play ended. Turns out, the guy who loved the play was a repeat customer. He spent a lot of time talking to Pozzo after the show, looking at her nipples. To be fair, I'd do the same if given the chance. The people who walked out during Act One, right after Vladimir shouted in their faces? Personal friends of Vladimir, who came at his behest. My wife thanked everybody for a singularly awful experience, and we left. On the way home we talked about how bad the play was, how much she hated Pozzo's stench, how Vladimir spits when he talks, and how much of his spit landed on my wife's face. She was given a check in the amount of fifty dollars for her efforts. Whoooo.

---

I really do love my wife. I think she's just fantastic, at pretty much anything. Maybe not dancing. Okay, she's a terrible dancer. But she is – she really is – a great actress, and I'm willing to support her in any way I can. Unless it involves going hours out of my way to see a play that we both know is going to be awful. I don't know how many more plays I can take. I really do try to care, I just have such a hard time. When she did A Company of Wayward Saints, I saw that probably five or six times. It was a great play, she was great in it and – most importantly – it was six blocks away from our apartment. I just honestly can't remember the last time I went to one of my wife's plays and had a really good time. I want to be a good husband, I just don't think I have the energy to see another shitty play where some guy screams about his prostate.

At least it was revealed afterward that I had been snuck in, and my wife didn't have to give Ross eight dollars. Gotta feel good about that.

Monday, June 21, 2010

They've gone and taken him away, boo-hoo

Today, just now, like 20 minutes ago, I learned that the Dr. Demento Show went off the air on June 6, 2010. You may recall from a previous post that I grew up listening to the Dr. Demento Show every Sunday night. It was like church, but funnier. That's not to say that church wasn't funny, it just wasn't “ha-ha” funny. I haven't listened to the Dr. Demento Show since I was probably 14. It hasn't been syndicated anywhere I've lived since then. For all intents and purposes, this show died for me over a decade ago.

Still, I'm crushed.

Radio is a personal medium. It's piped into your head. You can experience it with your eyes closed. It becomes very intimate, especially late at night. It's you, the DJ, the music and the static. Sorry if I'm getting a little purple in my writing. I love radio. I'm a product of the radio. I was barely parented, and I didn't get a TV in my room until well into high school. Radio was all I had. Radio and books – but I can barely write, nevermind read.

The death of a radio show is something that affects me deeply. The thought that another two hours of broadcast time can be chewed up by a glorified iPod Shuffle makes me really miserable. Losing a radio show is like losing a friend. A friend who talks to you – You – every night before bed.

Podcasting has taken the place of the syndicated radio. I listen to podcasts before bed, on my commute, when I'm cleaning. Even when Adam Carolla had his nationally-syndicated morning radio show, I'd wait until the show was over, download the podcast and listen to that. No commercials, no breaks, no interruptions. Sadly, I'm fairly certain that that behavior is what's killing terrestrial radio. I listen to the podcast of Tony Kornheiser's Washington DC local radio show. They pay the bills by doing live commercial reads and incorporating them into the show. Next time I'm in the DC area, I plan to stop at Bagel City at 12119 Rockville Pike. I can call them at 301 231 8080. I've heard that address and phone number every weekday for about three years now, and damned if it doesn't make me want to eat their home-made rye bread and beautifully decorated smoked fish or deli platters.

---

I learned about the passing of the Dr. Demento Show from an interview I heard today on NPR. It was really, really, really fucking depressing. Dr. Demento sounded, at best, defeated. I was listening to a nearly 70-year-old man being interviewed about how he was more or less forced into retirement. It was like watching the clip of Groucho performing Lydia the Tattooed Lady on the Dick Cavett show – it looked like it took Groucho a week to gin up the energy to perform a song that was basically muscle memory. Similarly, at the end of the interview, Dr. Demento signs off with his standard “Stay deeeeeeeee-mented!” But it wasn't the same. It was sad.

The Dr. Demento Radio Show is dead, but the Doctor is still in. He will continue to record a weekly show, more or less a podcast, available to stream for a fee. I'd like to encourage everybody to do that. Stream the show, give your money to a quality product.

Sadly, I don't think I'm going to do the same. It's not a matter of being cheap or broke. I'll pay to be entertained, and the price is low enough that even though I'm kinda-sorta broke, I can certainly afford it once in a while. The real problem is I just haven't got the inclination to sit at my computer and stream the show. I've been spoiled by the convenience of podcasts. I want to listen to it WHERE I WANT TO BECAUSE I AM UNREASONABLE.

The other thing is... well, I'm... a grown up. I'm not sure the wacky noises and squeaky horns and Whimsical Will's Demented News speaks to me like it did when I was in middle school. In fact, I know it doesn't. I still love the music. I still love the Doctor. I'm just not sure I love the show.

Fuck, I'm old.

Stay deeeeeee-mented.

Dr. Demento's interview with NPR can be heard here. The written article can be read here.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Everything in its Right Place

I'm awful at keeping my apartment clean. Things pile up – laundry, garbage, dishes, empty Diet Coke cans, old magazines. I'm pretty sure I'm not a hoarder, as I'm not against throwing stuff away. I just never really get around to throwing stuff away. More accurately, I hate cleaning. I hate the act of gathering all my crap in a pile, deciding what to keep, what to throw out, what to put on the bookshelf, what to put in the closet, what to put in the desk. This is made doubly difficult by the fact that I live with another person. I'm okay with putting my stuff away, but for some reason I'm loathe to put my wife's books back on the bookshelf – what if she can't find them? What if she doesn't think to look for Catch-22 on the bookshelf? I have stupid anxieties, right? This week I decided I'd had enough, by which I mean I had enough time off of work that if I didn't clean the apartment, I'd probably kill myself from the boredom.

---

Dollars and Cents

The incredible thing about cleaning – we'll say once a year, maybe? - is that you find a lot of spare change just hanging out all over the place. Buried under papers on your desk. Underneath your kitchen table. Batted under the couch by your fucking cat. All kinds of places. In the time it took me to clean my apartment, I became probably about seven dollars richer. I'm going to head down to a Coinstar machine tomorrow so I can trade all of that money in for a soy latte or something. I feel that I have earned a moment of idiotic spending.

Like Spinning Plates

Things I have too many of: Cups, pots, pans, coffee mugs (we don't own a fucking coffee maker!).
Things I only have two of: Full-sized plates. This needs to be changed. (What I am saying is send me your plates.)

Scatterbrain

I live in a really small apartment. Granted, it's a pretty big really small apartment, but still. It shouldn't take me eight hours to clean it, even if I only clean it once a year. The problem is I have so much other shit to do instead of clean. Important shit like check my email then my Facebook because I got an email saying somebody commented on something I said on my Facebook page and then since I'm looking at that I may as well check my Twitter to see if somebody said something funny because I don't want to miss that and hey since I'm already here I should check out espn.com to do some scoreboard watching boy I hope the Yankees are losing and hey you know what would help me clean is if I made an apartment cleaning playlist in iTunes what should I listen to I've been listening to a lot of Sonic Youth lately maybe I should put something else on but what else is there oh forget it I'll just go and clean again hey look there's a book underneath this pile of clothing and oh man I was using a movie ticket as a bookmark boy I remember when I saw the Brothers Bloom man that movie is really good I wonder when Rian Johnson's next movie is coming out I should check Wikipedia (and then I pass out.)

Go to Sleep

My wife always tells me that the first thing you should do when you get out of bed is put on a pair of shoes. That way, you won't be tempted to go back to bed and waste the rest of your day. Guess what – it takes me less than six seconds to kick my shoes off, and about half as long to fall asleep. The real key to not going back to bed when I start cleaning is to do some laundry, and make a big pile of it on my bed. That way, if I want to take a nap, I at least have to fold my laundry and put it away first. It's like that move that people do where they set their watch five minutes fast so they trick themselves into thinking they're always running late so they'll show up to things earlier. For some reason that never worked for me – oh wait, that's because I'm not so stupid that I don't remember that I set my watch five minutes ahead. Sheesh.

Fake Plastic Trees

One of the many benefits of having a nice, clean apartment is I can really take a look at things and figure out how I want to decorate it. I probably should have thought of this three and a half years ago, when I moved in. Whatever. Right now, there are four living things in this apartment. Me, my wife, Peepopo the Unhelpful Cat and a nice little bamboo plant named Julianne Wiebalk. Now that the whole apartment (minus the two boxes of Goodwill stuff and the area underneath my wife's bedside table) is clean, I'm thinking it would be pretty nice to have some more plants in here. I'm thinking maybe some kudzu.

My Iron Lung

My mom smoked when she was pregnant with me, so I was born with asthma. I more or less outgrew my asthma, but I missed not being able to breathe, so I started smoking cigarettes. I quit smoking a few years ago, but luckily I can recreate the feeling of smoking all the time without the fun of actually smoking. All I have to do is clean anything in my apartment – a cloud of dust, hair, pet dander, old thumbtacks, dirt, whatever, shoots high into the air, filling my lungs with horrible death - all without any of the nasty side effects of smoking, like relaxing, consuming nicotine, or getting to set something on fire three inches away from my face.

---

Apparently the easy part of cleaning your apartment is actually getting it clean. The hard part – according to my crackpot wife – is keeping it clean. I figure if the easy part is cleaning it, and the hard part is maintaining, then why not just forgo keeping it clean? Skip the hard part, go right back to the easy part? I'm sure if I explain this to my wife, she'll see things my way.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Great Big Mousebed 2010 Summer Movie Preview!

I work at a movie theatre, and as such I'm expected to have thoughts about the upcoming summer movie schedule. I don't.

---

MAY 28

Sex and the City 2 – Unpleasant women crowing shrewishly about shoes and dick length. An instant classic.

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time – Is nice movie, bro? Action movie?

JUNE 4

Get Him to the Greek – Finally, a vehicle for Jonah Hill to do some gross-out humor.

Killers – See, Ashton Kutcher uses guns and Katherine Heigl doesn't. Hoping for a Brandon Lee in The Crow style incident.

Marmaduke – Sorry, I'm holding out for the live-action adaptation of Heathcliff.

Splice – [INSERT JOKE ABOUT FAILED GENETIC EXPERIMENT VIS-A-VIS ADRIEN BRODY'S NOSE]

JUNE 11

The A-Team – Steven J. Cannell presents: The Losers!

The Karate Kid – Pat Morita's still got it, and I heard he's doing all his own stunts in this one.

JUNE 18

Jonah Hex – Josh Brolin in a western, eh? I knew No Country For Old Men was missing something, and that something was Megan Fox.

Toy Story 3 – Promises to be the best Tim Allen movie since Wild Hogs.

JUNE 25

Grown Ups – David Spade, Chris Rock, Rob Schneider, Adam Sandler, Kevin James – So who plays the title character?

Knight & Day – See, Tom Cruise uses guns, and Cameron Diaz doesn't. Hoping for a Katherine Heigl in Killers style incident

JULY 2

Avatar: The Last Airbender – Sheesh, it took James Cameron 15 years to make the first one, and he's crapping out a sequel in six months. Can't be as good as the original – avoid.

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse – I'm pretty sure in this one the sad girl gets tag-teamed by a sad Frankenstein and a sad mummy. Look for a cameo from Abbott and Costello!

JULY 9

Despicable Me – The Sarah Palin Story. [NOTE TO SELF: REPLACE SARAH PALIN PLACEHOLDER JOKE WITH SOMETHING THAT ISN'T FUCKING HACK]

Predators – Finally, the definitive documentary about Nashville's unlikely appearance in the 2004 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

JULY 16

Inception – A psychological thriller featuring Leonardo DiCaprio. All I know is it's a mental hospital. For the criminally insane.

The Sorcerer's Apprentice – The kid from She's Out of My League gets a bunch of buckets to mop his boss' house. The guy from Knowing is unhappy.

JULY 23

Dinner for Schmucks – Paul Rudd, Zach Galifianakis, Steve Carell – why, I haven't seen so many sure-thing comedians were in a movie together since Year One!

Ramona and Beezus – Double Fudge this.

Salt – Starring Angelina Jolie as a shitty joke about Lot's wife.

JULY 30

Cats and Dogs: Revenge of Kitty Galore – Not sure if I should spend my talking CG dog movie money on this or Marmaduke. Aw, hell – I'll splurge on both!

Charlie St. Cloud – Zac Efron in a surprising role as the weather girl on the DeKalb Channel 4 Action News team. Is that Oscar buzz I hear? (Yes.)

AUGUST 6

The Other Guys – The long-anticipated return of Anne Heche to the Silver Screen! Also, Will Ferrell uses guns.

Step Up 3-D – I'm hoping this will serve as the death knell of either dance movies or 3-D movies. Since it probably won't be both, I'll settle for dance movies.

AUGUST 13

Eat Pray Love – The remarkable true story of a bunch of shitty platitudes.

The Expendables – Should I wear my ill-fitting TAPOUT thermal or my ill-fitting AFFLICTION t-shirt? Oh wait, I'll just jack off into my own mouth – less humilating.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World – Michael Cera can finally spread his wings as an actor in this role, an unassuming iGeneration 20-something who falls in love.

AUGUST 20

Lottery Ticket – Any day that I don't watch Ice Cube act is a good day.

Nanny McPhee Returns – Here's the cast, first names only: Emma, Maggie, Ralph (pronounced “rafe”), Maggie, Rhys, Ewan. Mon dieu! So many French people!

Takers – This is the companion piece to that film where Liam Neeson tries to find his daughter in France, told from the perspective of the kidnappers.

Untitled Vampire Spoof – I'm thinking they'll just settle on “Vampire Movie.”

AUGUST 27

Going the Distance – Cake documentary, right? Gotta be.

The Last Exorcism – I'm hoping this will be half as good as The Final Sacrifice.

Piranha 3D – It took what, nine months for the sequel to Avatar, but 29 years for James Cameron to make the follow-up to Piranha 2? What gives?

---

Tune in three months from now, when I'll be reviewing the holiday lineup. Until next time, this is Josh Grimmer saying see you at the movies. (I'll be the one in the uniform.)

Friday, May 21, 2010

And I thought I didn't like him!

Now it's over, I'm dead and I haven't done anything that I want
Or I'm still alive and there's nothing I want to do.

They Might Be Giants - Dead


The other day I got a call from my wife. She told me that one of her friends had died. Later, we found out it was suicide. She took it fairly well, suffering only a minor, semi-unrelated breakdown the next morning when her boss told her she needed to buy new work shoes. She and another friend who knew the deceased decided they ought to go out tonight and have dinner and discuss his life, and maybe try to figure out why he killed himself. This, on its own, is fine. The real problem is that she wanted me to come too. I'm okay with death – it's strangers I'm not great around. Social anxiety isn't a huge problem with the dead.

While listening to my wife and her friend talking about a guy I met one time – and am unlikely to meet again – I was stuck with my own thoughts. Chief among them is the fact that nobody close to me has ever died. No suicides, no freak accidents, no overdoses. Only a couple grandparents with whom I was never actually close. I think maybe the two deaths that really got to me were George Harrison and Mitch Hedberg. George had cancer, so it was a matter of time, but Mitch Hedberg came like a hammer to the skull. It was easily the nicest day Bridgewater had seen in months. Everybody had taken their couches out of their dorm rooms and put them on the lawn. People were tossing around frisbees and footballs, there were a couple of Wiffle Ball games being played. Somebody had turned their stereo speakers out the window so we could listen to the radio broadcast of the Red Sox game. I got the call from my friend (later girlfriend, then fiancee, then wife), who told me that Mitch Hedberg had died. I had the unenviable task of telling everybody else in my dorm. Party over.

That's basically it, though. I've never had to deal with death. Not the deaths of people, at least. I've had a few pets die on me, in various sad ways. Not a lot of fun, but I can't imagine it's worse than the death of a friend or loved one. Again, I got to thinking – whose death would really fuck me up? Really nobody in my family. Maybe my dad or brothers, but more because if my dad died, that would mean my mom would have to take care of them, and that's too awful to contemplate. My brothers, of course, are just so young that their deaths would be sad and tragic.

Who else though? My wife, certainly. A few of my friends, sure. Probably a dozen or so? If that? I feel like I should care more, and about more people. Is my problem that I'm too much of a solipsist for the deaths of others to affect me? Then again, if I were truly a solipsist that would serve to explain why nobody I know has ever died. I'm keeping all of you alive through sheer force of self-absorption. I'd like to think that my relative calm about death comes from faith in an afterlife, but I never really think about that. I figure I'll worry about the afterlife when I'm there. If my friends and family are there too, then great. I want to be affected by death. I feel like there's something inside every truly good person that aches as a result of a loss of life. If I don't feel that ache, does that mean I don't care for my fellow man? Does that mean I'm fundamentally broken?

Yeah, probably.

---

For the first hour of the dinner, my wife and her friend talked about the deceased. I picked at my shepherd's pie, making a point of eating slowly so I wouldn't run out of food, my excuse to not talk. Later, I was chided into joining the conversation. We talked about other stuff. Living people. Twitter. Anything but the dead guy. The fact came up that neither my wife nor myself own a car – or even a bicycle. My wife's friend told us that her boyfriend sells bikes, and even recently sold one to the dead friend. I refrained from exclaiming “Hey, free bike!” and my wife decided not to make a joke about how he killed himself because he couldn't make the payments. I'm happy to know that if somebody close to me does die, I'll be able to write some really solid material for the eulogy.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Magic Number

First and foremost, I'd like to thank all of you for coming here tonight. When I sent out the e-vites, I was sure that I'd get quite a response – but I'm so thrilled that nearly five hundred of you came out to this parking lot on such a cold night. Thank you, thank you, thank you. It warms my heart to know that even in this electronic age, that so many people – many of you strangers to each other – are all so willing to meet up in order to find the definitive answer to one of life's oldest questions.

Now before I get too caught up in my own ego, I know we're not exactly curing cancer here. Regardless, I think that our findings here tonight will put an end to decades of speculation. Years from now, March 23, 2004 will be remembered as the night that they – and in this case, “they” is us, you, me, all of us – the night that they finally figured out EXACTLY how many Arby's roast beef sandwiches can fit inside Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Memorial Skating Rink.

I know that this project will come to fruition through a significant financial cost to all involved. Obviously it's not a coincidence that this was planned concurrently with Arby's new “40 roast beef sandwiches for six dollars” ad campaign. I figure between the lot of us, it shouldn't cost more than a few hundred bucks each to get this done. Now, before we get started here, I'm sure you've all got a few questions. Please, raise your hands and when I call on you, state your name so that we can all get acquainted. Yes, you – sir. In the green knit hat. Your name and your question?

--- Uh, yeah. Well, my name is Chip Dipson. My question is this: are we planning on filling the entire rink with delicious Arby's roast beef sandwiches, or do you have a plan to say, cover the entire floor with them, and figure out exactly how tall the rink is at its highest point and do some calculations?

Excellent question, Chip. And quite a name, I must say. Well, you've nailed it on the head. We're going to cover the entire surface of the floor with sandwiches, and then yes, we'll stack the sandwiches from center ice to the ceiling. It shouldn't take much more than a basic understanding of geometry and algebra to puzzle out the rest. Next question? You, miss, in the partially-charred ski parka.

--- Hi there! Soooo, I'm Megan O'Halloran, and I was wondering what, exactly, we plan to do after getting the sandwiches in there? Are we planning on eating them? Or donating them to charity or something? Maybe transport them to a nearby soup kitchen?

Good question, little lady. Most of the sandwiches we'll be using will end up being more or less inedible, due to the buns soaking up the water from the ice. The remaining sandwiches will be auctioned off for charity, with all proceeds going to Arby's House. A couple more before we get started. Yes, sir. You appear to be an albino. Your question?

--- Well, first of all, yes. I'm an albino. Second, my name is Alabaster Stitz, and I'd like to know if we plan on using the sandwiches as they're given to us, or if we plan on unwrapping each sandwich before adding them to the count.

Another good question! Well, Mr. Stitz, we're going to be unwrapping each of the sandwiches. You'd think that those wrappers wouldn't make much of a difference, but they'll add up and alter our calculations. After we're done, I plan to take the collection of wrappers and auction them off for charity, with all proceeds going to Arby's House. Last one before we begin. You, in the stripey shirt.

--- Hello, my name is Jean-Claude Impormable. I had one question, but I think I have another now. First, what happens if the police arrive? How do you plan on dealing with the long arm of the law? My second question is, well, what exactly is Arby's House? I've never heard of such a charity.

Two good questions. I'll answer them in reverse order. You ever heard of Ronald McDonald House? Well, Arby's House is very similar. They're devoted to making sure that the less privileged children of North America have access to roast beef sandwiches. And second, how easy do you think it'll be to get Johnny Law off our backs when we offer them delicious Arby's roast beef sandwiches in exchange for turning a blind eye on tonight's activities? Now without further ado, let's get to it!

~SIX HOURS LATER~

Phew! I can't believe we did it, guys! Things were a bit touch-and-go in a few parts, but damned if we didn't get all those sandwiches in there! Now before we gather up the remaining edible sandwiches and the thousands of wrappers to be auctioned for charity, I'd like to give thanks where thanks are due. First, of course, to our main engineer, Professor Dip Dobson. Without your efforts, I'm certain we'd never have been able to determine our asses from our elbows, nevermind calculate how many Arby's roast beef sandwiches could fit in the Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Memorial Skating Rink. I feel a round of applause is in order! Professor Dobson, you've helped us all immeasurably, and you deserve great thanks and gratitude.

Now, a few other people I'd like to thank for their efforts and support before I reveal the final number. All the thanks in the world to my beloved wommyn lifepartner Donna. Without her support – both emotional and financial – I'd never have been able to draw up the plans for this project. Other people who helped include Kerrin Durrigan, Sheila Johnson, Graham Larceny, Kennir Dunnigar, Blixa Bargeld and of course, Hapax Legomenon. Now, without further ado, the moment you've all been waiting for. Dip, the envelope please... the number... of Arby's roast beef sandwiches... that can fit inside the Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Memorial Skating Rink... is...

Three million, five-hundred and fifty-six thousand, two-hundred forty-eight!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Missed connections, crossed wires and total delusion

The famous person wears the same size water skis as me
She's got three cars, as many years I've lived in this city
Her hair is blonde and mine is brown, they both start with a “b”
But when the phone inside her ribcage rings, it's not for me.

They Might Be Giants – The Famous Polka


The other day I went to Amoeba Records over on Sunset and Cahuenga. This wouldn't be particularly notable but for the fact that the cute girl behind the counter totally started flirting with me. She told me she liked my shirt – a Boston Celtics shirt, if you were wondering – and I told her she was wearing a very pretty dress. It matched her strawberry blonde hair. She gave me a particularly lurid look as she was taking the anti-theft devices off of my CDs. I couldn't help but notice the slight remnants of a regional accent. She told me she moved to Los Angeles from Austin about five years ago – I told her I moved from Massachusetts four years ago. We talked about how we preferred the weather out here over our native climates. After a few brief but blissful minutes, the transaction had ended. She put my CDs in a bag and met me at the end of the counter. I took it from her, and she held it for what seemed like ages. I thanked her, left the store, and in an instant our romance was over.

Let's look at the facts:
1: She was really cute.
2: She told me I was wearing a nice shirt.
3: When I told her she looked good, she didn't recoil in horror.
4: She's grew up in Austin, I grew up about an hour and a half south of Boston. Those two cities rhyme.
5: We were talking about the weather, and you know the old saying – Talking about the weather leads to talking about breakfast.

These five facts provide absolute proof that this girl wanted more than anything to run away with me to a place where we could sit and drink coffee and gaze longingly at each other. I've been combing the missed connections sections of LA Weekly and Craigslist in an effort to find true love.

Except not really. This girl wasn't flirting with me. She was being a pleasant person. She was probably interested in me in the most basic sense. I wanted to make a purchase, she was being paid to facilitate that. We will probably not be friends, we will certainly never be romantically involved, and quite possibly may never meet again – nevermind the fact that I'm married.

The barista isn't flirting with you. Neither is your waitress, the librarian or the gal at the DMV. These people are all being nice. Especially the barista and the waitress – they work for tips. I know this. I've known this for years. Every guy knows this. Academically, we're all very aware that more than 99% of the women we meet have no interest in us outside of a social context. Regardless, I'm convinced - convinced - that every time a woman is being nice to me, she must be flirting. I'm not alone.

It seems like some time around age 12, guys develop this hypersensitivity to the actions of women. They study every word, every physical cue. We're trying to gauge how interested they are in us. We take in all of the data, crunch some numbers and check the readouts. More than half the time the result is “Very Interested.” It's a confusing ouroboros of low self-esteem and narcissism. The thought process goes a little something like this: “Hm. She's talking to me. Girls don't talk to me unless they want something. I don't have anything. What does she want? Oh man, it must be me. She's totally into me. This chick totally wants me. Awesome.” Between friends, co-workers, service industry employees and complete strangers, this happens anywhere between three and a thousand times a day. It never leads to anything, but every time the cycle repeats itself. Like I said, it starts right about age 12 and ends when you die. I'm sure I'll be in my death bed, covered in my own drool thinking, “Man, this nurse brought me soup AGAIN. I still got it.”

I was talking to my wife about this the other day, and she told me that it's not just men who assume that everyone is flirting with them. “You know, when guys hold the door open for me, I sometimes think he must think I'm cute.” First of all, who the hell is holding doors open for my wife? I'll hunt them down and kill them. SHE'S MINE. Also, “he must think I'm cute” is fleeting. I'll spend hours deconstructing conversations I have with strange women – usually right up until the next time it happens. One night I was doing laundry, and it happened that another girl in my building was doing hers at the same time. We kept meeting each other in the laundry room and talked a few times while moving our clothes around. The next day, I got an email with the subject line “I NEVER THOUGHT IT COULD HAPPEN TO ME,” which, for the unfamiliar, is how each letter begins in Penthouse Forum, a magazine where guys write about their sexual encounters with strange women – usually in the laundry rooms of their apartment buildings. A few minutes later, there was a knock on my apartment door. My first thought was, of course, the girl from the laundry room. She must have found me so fascinating, so interesting, so viscerally attractive that she had to track me down. We were destined to run off together, hand in hand, into the sunset. Living on a thin budget would be hard, but the love that we undoubtedly had for each other would be more than enough to keep us warm and sustain us. Turns out it was the maintenance guy, checking to see if our bathroom sink had been fixed.

He was a terrible lay.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

We're BAAAAACK!

Yes, Mousebed is coming out of retirement on this most important of days. For the love of Franzblau, chime in!