Saturday, October 2, 2010
People who read this know I'm not a self worshiping tool, right? Right guys?? I promise I'm a nice guy at heart. I just want to establish that for anyone who might follow this blog that doesn't already know me (I'll pretend for the sake of this post that such people exist). Don't get me wrong though. I thoroughly enjoy the reputation of lovable asshole that my close friends seem to spread for me. I can be a dick. I'll go ahead and acknowledge that. But I'm not a mean guy. I'll crack jokes at your expense often enough, so know that going in to this friendship (you're going to be my friend if you aren't already, and you're going to fucking love it). But I'll never intentionally hurt you, baby. I got cho back allatime eeryday.
I don't really know where my cruel sense of humor came from. As a kid I was always really quiet and timid. Maybe I got tired of taking people's shit all those years. Maybe that's why I developed a badass preemptive defense mechanism. You can't insult me if I insult you first, right? BAHAHA. Or maybe I'm just a tortured soul looking to entertain myself. WHO KNOWS?
Thursday, September 30, 2010
In order to prove to you all that I do other activities besides read books all the time, I'm devoting this week's blog post to one of my other passions: cinemaaaaaaa.
In the last week I've been repeatedly asked by a friend to recommend to him movies that I enjoy and deem important to view. Inevitably, this conversation always winds up with my buddy and I listing with fervor our top five favorite movies of all time. This is conflicting- I simultaneously love choosing movies that I feel define me, movies that are of major significance to me and hate limiting my selection to only five. How can one person narrow his or her numerous favorites to just five? Usually I think about it way too much and I struggle pathetically to make that fifth pick. But now that I am devoting a blog post to my Top Five, I've decided it's worth very seriously considering, and as of September Thirtieth in the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Ten, these following five movies are My Favorite Movies of All Time (YES, in order, and no, not necessarily the best-made):
One. Shaun of the Dead (2004)
Have you ever seen a movie a second time, and picked up a couple jokes here and there that you missed the first time around? Yeah, that happens to me every time I watch Shaun of the Dead. And I've seen it maybe twenty five to thirty times. No, I'm not an idiot or anything, but this movie is so densely layered with jokes and references and recurring themes it's unbelievable. I was at a friend's house in maybe seventh or eighth grade, and he told me about this funny zombie movie his uncle showed him, and it sounded decent, so we watched it at his house late one night. I was too timid to ask if we could turn up the volume, so I caught very little of what was actually said initially. However, from what I did manage to hear and see, I was amazed. The "romantic zomedy" is about Shaun, who lives with his best friend, an unemployed, fat slob named Ed, and whose girlfriend, Liz, just dumped him. Just as Shaun thinks that nothing could be worse in his life, a chemical outbreak incurs a zombie apocalypse. Consequently, Shaun and Ed decide to take control, and, cricket bat in hand, save Liz (and reluctantly her friends) and Shaun's mother (but not his stepdad). What I love about this movie is its blatant British humor, its gratuitous use of gore, and frequent quick quips, as well as its multiple eccentric characters. But what really drew me in initially is a scene involving a zombie, a pool table and Queen (horrible quality, I apologize). For some reason, I've never been able to allow any other single movie top this one. I figure everyone has their Favorite Movie, so I want this to be Mine.
Two. Annie Hall (1977)
Since last year, I've really gotten into Woody Allen's films. For some inexplicable reason, I identify heavily with aging Jewish comedians, Woody Allen in particular. Maybe it's because he's a hopeless neurotic, and I can't help but over-think nearly every situation I get involved in. Woody Allen's got a huge filmography, movies he's written/directed/starred in, and to be honest, there are some bad ones and some good ones. But the best ones in my opinion are the ones in the late Seventies dealing with relationships and, inevitably, breakups. Annie Hall is especially interesting because it's told in flashbacks by Allen a couple years later. Not only does he narrate the whole movie with unscrupulous and painfully relatable monologues, but also he'll even break the fourth wall at times and talk to people in his memories, providing the viewer with a more well-rounded perspective of the situation. It's pretty similar to how most of us think on events in the past- we retreat into our subconscious and probe our memories for clues or explanations as to why events transpired the way they did. This movie is brilliantly written and smartly filmed in wide shots, and although I laugh through a lot of the scenes dealing with Allen's self-confidence issues and his relationship with Diane Keaton's Annie Hall, there are often very poignant scenes that can't help but make you crack the slightest knowing smile or feel a general empathy for Allen's situation. What also strikes me is the fact that Allen doesn't sugar-coat his movie; he is comfortable in displaying that not all relationships work out like they do in the movies.
Three. In Bruges (2008)
When I saw the trailer for In Bruges during the never-ending slew of trailers before There Will Be Blood, I thought it looked goofy and darkly humorous, and naturally, with the number of actors from the Harry Potter-films' cast in it, I was drawn to it. But that wasn't what kept me going when I finally garnered a copy of it and viewed it at home. What stood out to me was the incredible writing, the kind that you don't often see in movies these days. Not only that, but I was rather impressed with the acting- even Colin Farrell, whom I used to dismiss casually as a cocky, action-film star, was able to adeptly portray the role of a hitman haunted by his personal demons. After a hit goes wrong, Farrell and partner-in-crime Brendan Gleason (Mad-Eye Moody to you) go on the run and are told to hide out in Bruges, Belgium by their snarky and F-bomb-dropping boss (skip to 0:35), played by Ralph Fiennes (Voldemort). "It's like a fuckin' fairytale," he frequently states. The movie gets to be somewhat lighthearted once they arrive in Bruges, as Farrell strikes up a relationship with femme fatale-gone straight for love Clémence Poésy (Fleur Delacour, who happens to be my biggest celebrity crush, but NOT because she's in HP). But after a while, it becomes clear to the viewer that there are hidden intentions for their stay in Bruges, and the movie quickly transforms into a tense, gun-poppin' thriller. But the real jelly in this doughnut resides in the film's final few moments, when several elements from earlier in the film come back into play, and you realize that there's a much deeper message in the whole thing than you realized. It's astounding, and really makes you think when it's over.
Four. Cool Hand Luke (1967)
Aside from Catcher in the Rye, I can attribute any of my non-conformist principles to Paul Newman's role as Cool Hand Luke. Luke is a guy who's been in the Army, and when he gets back to town, he finds that he doesn't want to take any more bull from anyone, so he commits petty crimes here and there until he's eventually arrested and sentenced to work on a chain gang. He learns pretty quickly that it's tough to act out and he starts to pick up the tricks of the trade. After repeatedly refusing to conform to the uniform respect for one of the inmates, Dragline, Luke earns himself the respect of every man in the outfit, as well as a new name: Cool Hand Luke. Because "sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand." It becomes clear after a while that Luke, as usual, doesn't plan on crumbling under authority and remaining in the chain gang long. Eventually he plans escape. And when he gets caught, he escapes again. And so on. I admire Luke, not so much for his brazenness and headstrong refusal to conform to anything, but because he did make me question some of the pointless rules I follow. I figured out that I can "fight the system" quite effectively by just playing it cool and being charismatic. Kind of like Invisible Man- I can speciously "overcome them with yesses" and when the time comes, light out. Also, the movie has one of the greatest accompanying soundtracks for any film, especially evident in the closing scene of the movie, one of the most lifting and inspirational yet simultaneously heartbreaking scenes in any movie I've seen.
Five. Little Miss Sunshine (2006)
I don't remember exactly, but I think I wanted to dislike this movie before I saw it. I think because it was about a little girl, and my whole family fell in love with it, which inexplicably made me hesitant. But I might be wrong. In any case, pretty much from the first scene, I was instantly drawn to Little Miss Sunshine for its quaintness and charm and dialogue (or lack thereof). Every one of the characters is so darn interesting, and you wind up loving them or hating them (hating Greg Kinnear? No way!). From a drug-addicted, beauty queen-molding grandpa to a hopelessly existential, mute Air Force hopeful to the cutest damn girl of all time, there's at least one character each viewer can relate to and strike up an attachment to. Basically, this girl, Olive, winds up qualifying for the Little Miss Sunshine beauty contest to be held in California in two days, but her family lives all the way over in New Mexico. They decide to bite the bullet and make the trek, which you would think would be a fairly simple, two-day car ride, right? Nah. They're confronted with innumerable obstacles, some that you wouldn't even believe unless you saw the movie. One scene that really stood out to me is the nihilistic son's explosive breakdown when he gets really upset because it really allows him to open up and reveal to the audience and his family the deeper, lesser-seen layers of his personality. Which is what the movie's all about, personality and the unity of family. Towards the end, there's a ridiculously hilarious dance scene that really shows you that no matter who you are, through your strengths or weaknesses, your family's always going to come together to support you. And that, aside from the sampling of Sufjan Steven's "Chicago," is what makes Little Miss Sunshine shine with that cute, "indie" flare.
I really desperately want to list a few honorable mentions here, but I just can't allow myself to do it. I would be opening the floodgates, spewing forth an unnecessarily long trail of cinematic vomit, and detracting from the significance of the five aforementioned films. Is that pretentious? "Films?" Is "movies" better for you? Anyway, feel free to post your Top Five in the comments section below, or criticize mine...if you have the guts.
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
What all of these pictures and statuses have brought to my attention more than even the fond memories of my own homecoming is the fact that these piece of crap underclassmen I used to know are now these seniors and juniors of the school. For rulls. Remember those annoying uppity juniors from last year? Yeah the freaking run the place. What's even worse, those sophomores from your sports teams and clubs that used to look up to you and always seemed a bit out of place are now in a position of authority too. Not only are these facts hard to swallow, they are pretty much unacceptable. You know why? BECAUSE NO ONE CAN TOP DUB 10 GET THAT UNDERCLASSMEN SHIT OUT OF HERE.
Here are 6 reasons why they won't never be us.
1. One-One is a shitty cheer. I'm sorry but it is. Actually I'm not sorry. At all. It just sucks. Dub 10? kinda dumb, but awesome. It caught on, it flowed, it was easy to chant and people really got behind it.
2. Remember that time that your entire class bowed to the senior class on toga day during a pep assembly? Oh wait, that was us. WHAT HAS YOUR CLASS DONE THAT WAS COOL?
3. While we're on the subject, you've got about 8 months to come up with a senior prank that tops ours. It should include a stand against bullshit authority and The Man, include the majority of your class and create plenty of chaos. Good luck.
4. Your spirit section sucks. I know you think that you are holding your own just by sheer numbers but if you spirit section lacks luster than that shit ain't worth your time. And if SHG makes the kind of effort it did last year you better step your game up for city.
5. Who does your announcements? Does you answer include Mada Larson and Conor O'Brien? Nope. None of you will touch the eloquence, charisma and class with which Conor and I delivered the morning news every other day. Motherfuckers need to know.
6. Have you seen the seniors/juniors? Via facebook creeping I have seen that this was the slogan for both the juniors and seniors during powderpuff. Kind of funny if you ask me. Also pretty telling. Both classes just aren't that cool. I mean have you seen them. Our class was full of an awesome cast of characters, was as unified as any class I've seen pass through SHS and was generally pretty nice. And by nice I mean that we avoided the typical asshole upperclassmen shit and were pretty cool to any underclassmen who wanted to know/be us. Which was all of them.
High school was interesting time that was admittedly pretty damn but I'm happy to be in a new chapter in my life. One thing I will never forget though, is how hard my class did high school. Which was real hard. We went hard all day every day, we got money, went big and never went home. The people following us will try for years to achieve what we did but it just come down to the simple truth that they ain't ready. Peace out, Dub 10.
Monday, September 27, 2010
When you lumbered up to me and asked, "Hey, do you have much more to do on that machine?" you had to have known that there were only three possible outcomes of the ensuing conversation. One, I would happily inform you that I was, in fact, done using this machine and that I would go away now for you to exercise in peace. Two, I would say that I was almost done before hastily doing a final set and getting out of your way. Or three, that I would tell you that I do have more to do on this machine so why don't you go try and take somebody else's.
This analysis leads me to believe that you were just asking on the chance that I would scurry away in a bid to avoid confrontation, leaving you in control of my pull-up bar. I suspect you were hoping that I would not respond with the third answer.
What you didn't know is that I have a pretty unpleasant cold, and you took to the bar before I could wipe it down. Joke's on you. I bet those undead malice-filled strings of RNA are rupturing your lipid bilayers right now.
Dear rest of everybody besides myself and maybe a few other college students,
There is no reason for you to have that many shoes. Let me explain what shoes are for: shoes can be for absorbing the pressure delivered to your feet while running, for preventing your feet from freezing, or for simply protecting your feet from things on the ground.
But by all means continue to spend money on buying cute name brand shoes for every outfit. I just want you to know that I will never ever notice what shoes you're wearing, and I wouldn't be able to care less if I did.
Also, can we talk about what holds a shoe on your feet? I've noticed that most shoes have ties. Why on Earth are we still using those? They look like an unattractive lump on top of your shoes, even when you tie them well. Plus we have to spend a week of kindergarten teaching all the kids how to tie shoes. And to add insult to injury, you probably have to re-tie them every couple of hours anyway. I always had velcro shoes up until 7th grade, at which point I couldn't understand why I had to downgrade. Fortunately I discovered birkinstocks and the rest is history.
You are a constant source of amusement to me. Every single time I walk downstairs looking forward to eating dinner, you make a point of shooting a dirty look at me. There is a reason that my response is always to chuckle at you. You see, I've never talked to you and I don't plan on talking to you. So either you do this to everyone, or else something in the way I look and dress and eat elicits some sort of indescribable disgust in you, both of which are laughable possibilities. So by all means continue to make that face in me and I will continue to find you endlessly entertaining.
Dear readers of Classic Brian,
I think that I've now satisfied my whining for the week. Carry on. I will hopefully have something more substantive to say on Monday.
Today I walked outside and realized I needed a jacket. Hell. Yes.
Summer is over. Autumn is here. It's my favorite season of all the seasons; bonfires, jackets, dead bugs, harvested corn, pumpkins, squash, stuffing, football, chilled air, crispy leaves, visible breath. It's a beautiful time. It gives me the official right to reflect on this past summer as if it were a thing of the distant past. It was, far and away and without a doubt, the best summer ever ever, but I want to get more specific than that. I want to introduce you to the three most interesting men I met this summer.
Not Eliot, Nick and Conor. Sorry, guys.
The first interesting man I met was named Harry. Once upon a time, I had problems, so I decided to walk them out - all the way from Springfield to Farmingdale. I wasn't planning on walking all the way to Farmingdale, but that's where I ended up by the time I turned around. About 2/3 of the way there, shortly after I decided Farmingdale to be my final destination, I got really really thirsty. It was a really hot day, and I brought nothing to eat or drink, so I stopped at some farmy looking place that had the word "Cuisine" on a sign. Cuisine = food, I thought, so I walked around the place looking for human life and water. After a while of looking, I spied an old man through a backdoor kitchen window, and I motioned him out. Turns out, he was a hired man doing some dishes while the owner was away. Cuisine = catering service, making me a creepy trespasser.
Luckily, I was forgiven of my crimes, invited to sit, and supplied with homey cup after homey cup of ice water. The man had a plump, round belly, and a scraggly head of wispy white hair and a thick gray beard. He looked like he could easily pull off Santa Claus at the mall if he dressed over the white wife-beater showing off rogue chest hairs. He certainly wasn't prepared for a summer formal, but he was friendly enough. He introduced himself and immediately launched into dirty joke after dirtier joke, to the point where I didn't think I should have been allowed to hear them at 18 years of age. They were funny though, but eventually he launched into dirty story after dirtier story. True stories. Like how he liked to walk around naked inside all the time, or how his friend and his friend's wife liked to put a ballgag in the husband's mouth and lead him around the house on a leash. I finished the last cup of water and didn't hesitate to leave, and he closed by letting me know that he goes to the Family Video on Macarthur a lot, in case I ever see him there. I haven't been to that Family Video since then, but for some reason I remember Harry fondly. At least he was friendly.
The second interesting man I met was named Will. I went into the wooded area behind my dorm one day to relax by the brook and do some homework. As I walked down the path to what I hoped would be a secluded area, I saw a shirtless man lounging on a rock. I waved hello, intending on turning and finding a new, lonelier location, but the man shouted a hearty welcome and beckoned me over to his spot on the rock. I obliged, thinking I would get along with this gentleman and get some good reading done in peace next to him.
The man was aged about forty, and was probably warmed considerably by a coat of light brown hair, enveloping his chest, rounded belly, shoulders, legs and face. His dark shorts covered but to his middle thigh, and his Burkenstocks clung to his feet as if desperate to cast a tan line somewhere on his skin. A faded old Confederate bandana held back the sweat from making the long journey down his upper-back length hair to his body, or from becoming lost in the short but thick beard on his face. He was well past the age of caring what the world saw in his appearance, which was kind of enviable.
“I am just the product of a woman,” he said, humbly but defiantly. With a male-dominant mindset of a classic sexist, Will went on to describe within a rigidly narrow frame the characteristics that all women share. First and foremost, they are all too ignorant to understand what they’re doing, which they compensate for with incessant complaining. Second, their ignorant, childish anger is nothing to be given much heed to, as they will always forget their anger and come running right back. Third, that, if they don’t come running back, it’s no real worry, because they are all replaceable in a heartbeat. He mentioned the three women who were currently upset with him, one of which would be returned to him by the next morning. He was either shamelessly cocky or wildly ignorant.
After absorbing more information than I needed about foraging berries on trailsides, sleeping in natural cave insets, and escaping DUI warrants, he eventually shifted his focus to the government. Within moments his speech derailed far from any semblance of free-spirited sanity onto a new plane of radical, wildly generalized tirades. People needed to die, he said. Somebody needs to revolt, he said. They’re watching him, he said. It was as if the wires that made up his thoughts were abruptly cut in mid-conversation. His political rants were entertaining, but nonsensical for the most part. Eventually, after missing my entire journalism class, I bid him byebye and went to lunch. It was worth missing a lecture.
The third interesting man I met was my uncle Marty. A few weekends ago I biked about 40 miles southward to Jefferson City, MO, where Marty and his wife own a farm another 20 miles from their house. I spent a large chunk of the weekend hanging with Marty, and he showed me the ropes on everything he could think of, whether I liked it or not. He was resourceful, peaceful, stoic, hardworking, and well-intentioned. His graying wisps of hair and aging body did little to reflect his work ethic. He always had something to do around the house or the farm, be it sifting corn he found on the roadside, hunting down pipe-clogging beavers, patching a canoe, or debarking some felled trees no one wanted. He was also highly intelligent in craftsmanship and in nature. He was a very practical-motivated man; all his smarts were focused in on things that improve quality of life. His practical knowledge is something college can't teach and a big reason why I want to spend a lot more time at the farm in the future. Consider him my favorite relative now.
It’s really super late at night now, and I can see my breath. Yessssss. As fun as summer was, I’m definitely looking forward to the fall months and the people I’ll meet now.