Drunk text messaging is a technological progression from "drunk dialing"—which itself was a phenomenon that exploded with the ubiquity of cell phones. (It existed before then, obviously: at one of my first jobs out of college, this inebriated closeted coworker called me at home—feeling compelled to inform me of how great my ass was—and tried to get me to guess who he was and how he got my number. It was Bruce, by the way.)
With mobile phones, you get drunk at a bar and you've got this device in your pocket that gives you access to everyone you know in the world. Including exes and crushes. (It usually seems to involve matters of the heart.)
What's so charming about drunk texting is that it requires additional dexterity and thought. Drunk communication in any form is an expression of deeper feelings that most people are too restrained to express when sober. One of the many magical properties of alcohol is that it can temporarily block out FEAR: of rejection, of judgment, of failure. Thus freeing you to say things that you've been wanting to say. Maybe even things you didn't know you wanted to say. Texting forces you to type these thoughts on a cramped keyboard, which necessitates more focus and consideration. And it leaves some damning evidence for you to reckon with while you're honoring your hangover the morning after.
I somehow manage to NEVER text exes/crushes. (Like I don't negotiate with terrorists: it's just my policy.) I'll text friends and write some truly goofy shit... but somehow, even when I'm plastered out of my gourd, I maintain enough mental wherewithal to avoid texting anyone I might have "a thing for". We're talking about a Jedi Master Level of drinking conduct that's taken years to attain through trial and error.
Of course, it helps to periodically clear your phone of numbers you shouldn't be holding onto. Preemptively saves you from that lonely point in the alcohol binge when you're scrolling through your contact list just looking for trouble...
Just turned in my ballot for the annual Oscar Pool that I've been participating in (to varying levels) since college. I never win. I rarely come close to winning. Every year, I wait till the last minute to fill out my ballot and submit it to our long-suffering Oscar Pool organizer. Most years (including this one), I debate whether to go to the effort of even filling it out. There used to be money involved but now it's just for giggle rights.
Well, it gives us a game to play while we're slogging through the show.
It's early yet. Despite endless evidence here, I am an eternal optimist. Grounded by deadly pragmatism.
I wish you were queen... just for today...
I don't believe in "bucket lists"... mainly because I refuse to watch that movie... but also because I don't believe in the fundamental idea that I need to acquire a set number of experiences in order for my life to be "complete". If I die tonight, none of it will matter. Real life isn't neat. It is what it is and it ends when it ends and there's no purpose in weeping over all of the could-have-beens.
That said... if I knew I were going to die before the end of this year... like really had a guarantee that I'd be dead before this year is out... then I would really be doing some crazy shit right about now.
As it is... I'm guessing a good 50% chance I'll live to see 2012 :)
The ROB VERSUS RUSSELL edition of SURVIVOR plows ahead and Phil the Former Special Agent continues to try to out-crazy Coach the Dragonslayer. His explanation of his gorilla and lion tattoos makes me realize that I need to come up with some more batshit explanations for my own tattoos. How long can the GoriLion possibly last...?
But that's neither here nor there. Did you realize that Jeff Probst has a blog?
I took my boombox, yes I still have a boombox, and I gathered the Survivors around me in a circle. They still couldn’t talk because the game hadn’t yet started. I then put on LOSE YOURSELF by Eminem. I blasted it from the speakers. I had the words printed on a sheet of paper. I went from one person to another singing the song.. well talking the song… well actually just basically screaming the song. I wanted them to feel the energy I felt – that we were sitting on the edge of something really special.
Jesus. I'm sure he's a nice guy in person but Probst does NOT come off well online. Online, he comes across as David Brent. Can you imagine Jeff Probst pretending to be Eminem, forcing a bunch of shellshocked SURVIVOR contestants to listen to him sing "Lose Yourself" right before they begin shooting the season?? I think they should've filmed this and it should've been the opening of the season. I think it should've been the opening title sequence of the season, week after week Probst singing "Lose Yourself".
Season's still early so not much to talk about. "Redemption Island" doesn't even kick in until next week. Russell already seems to be losing it—made worse by him NOT finding the hidden immunity idol—but the teaser for next week seems to imply that he's about to shake shit up so who knows. I'm still amazed he made it to the end of his last season. Thing is, he seems to be playing the exact same game that he's played for two seasons in a row... and this is the first season where his fellow players know he's shady... so I hope he's got some magic tricks left under his hat.
Because she was pissing me off and wouldn't leave me alone. Why would you keep trying to contact someone after he's called you a cunt?
I personally don't see the appeal but SHE LIKES YOU, Malice!
Why would you LIKE someone after he's called you a cunt?
Because you were so nice to her before you started being an asshole!
I started being an asshole to her because she started being a cunt!
I called her a cunt so she would leave me alone. I called her a rude, small-minded cunt. I did not call her a cunt to endear her to me. I called her a cunt so she would hate me and walk away. I call you a cunt, it's not a fucking speed bump: it's me setting fire to the bridge. Here's a simple life rule: don't try to pursue a relationship with someone who's called you a cunt.
She was crying yesterday, Malice!
Oh God, why was she crying?
Because she likes you and you're being an asshole, Malice!
I haven't even said anything to her in two months! I don't hang out with the circle anymore so she doesn't even have to see me.
She was telling us about all the things you did...
All the things I did in her delusional head? I'm sure she did absolutely nothing wrong. I'm sure she's perfectly blameless in her head. I'm sure that me being cold toward her is NOT a reaction to anything she could have possibly done. If I'm such an asshole, why does she still like me?
Because you were so nice to her when you took her on dates!
How long ago was that? If she's upset, she can go cry on [redacted]'s shoulder.
They're not dating!
Oh really? They're not together. That's not what they BOTH told me.
No, they're not! She just liked him because he was so nice to her after you were so mean to her.
So, what then? She just started getting close to him to get a reaction out of me?
Nooo! You're the one she likes! She LIKES you, Malice; do YOU like HER?
How old are you people? I think she needs to get over this. I think she and her BFFs need to get over this and move on. I think they need to stop reading my fucking blog for clues to some psychotic conspiracy theory that doesn't exist. Here's my rule: someone treats me like shit, I've got just enough self-respect to walk away.
Just finished tearing through Bill Carter's book "The War for Late Night", which I picked up Wednesday afternoon. I just found it riveting. I am fascinated by these behind-the-scenes dramas. When it was unfolding in real time, I watched all the shows, read all the articles and interviews and public statements—yet reading about all the stories behind the stories, from first-hand accounts, gives you a greater understanding of how fucked up it all got. It's also amazing to see how many different ways the situation could have been averted entirely, or played out differently. I imagine in some fringe parallel universe, Conan O'Brien would be appearing as a guest during the final week of THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING DAVID LETTERMAN, with Letterman graciously passing the torch.
Carter's earlier book, "The Late Shift", chronicled the war between Leno and Letterman in the early 90s, when the media landscape was so much simpler. Back then, there were far fewer channels, far fewer late night comedy shows, no internet and no DVRs. Information travels so much faster now, big companies need to deal with the management of news leaks. If something amazing happened on a show you didn't watch last night, you can (usually) easily catch a clip of it online the next day. Today, there is an interaction between the audience and The Show that just wasn't possible back in the day.
Though Carter interviewed Letterman for "Late Shift", he's the one host who declined to be interviewed for "War". Although he does feature prominently in the narrative. Everyone knows that Leno has dominated Letterman in sheer ratings for the majority of their years... but what becomes clear in the book is that Conan, Jimmy Kimmel and even Leno seem to revere Letterman. When Letterman hatches the plan to shoot that Superbowl commercial with Oprah and Jay, Leno doesn't hesitate to leap at the offer, going out of his way to fly to New York to shoot the gag. Leno's been besting him in ratings for years and yet it's Leno who seems more eager to receive some level of approval from Letterman.
No matter what the numbers say, Letterman's always been more respected than Leno. By critics and by other comics.
I was a huge fan of Letterman growing up. And there's something about Letterman that I relate to when I read about his behind-the-scenes struggles.
... Some of Dave's associates who had interacted with him over long periods of time began to look for ways to try to help him cope better with his demons, and dug through psychological tracts looking to match the symptoms of Dave's apparent neurosis. They settled on a variant of narcissism, because the straight clinical condition—the one defined by grandiosity and egotism—didn't seem a match. Dave seemed at times the direct opposite of that. His condition was more defined by a swing between huge confidence and feelings of worthlessness.
(I seem to swing back and forth on a daily basis.)
In any case, it's a terrific read. I recommend it if you're interested in this shit. CHECK IT OUT!
I've been looking for a new scene. A new social circle to replace the one I walked away from. It is a long, slow process filled with trial and error. Even if I go out and don't meet anyone interesting on any particular night, it's still better than staying in The Tomb where there's a 0% chance of meeting anyone.
My latest source of inspiration/ideas is TIMEOUT. A friend gifted me a subscription so the damn thing is coming to me every week, may as well try to exploit it.
Saturday night, I gravitated toward an event that looked intriguing on paper:
Dreams, Nightmares and Hallucinations: A Celebration of The Dream Sequence
Dreams and nightmares have fascinated artists since the dawn of time. For years, filmmakers have been turning to the filmic “dream sequence” as a way to explore freer, more subjective forms of expression within the confines of the narrative structure demanded by conventional film-making. When these dream sequences are taken together as a group, we find a catalog of what could be understood as experimental “films within films.”
Tonight, join filmmaker Ronni Thomas for an exploration and celebration of the dream sequence. Thomas will contextualize the dream sequence within a discussion of its history...
It was the coldest night I'd walked around in a while; the wind battering against me as I tried to get to the place on time. Disappointment occurred almost immediately upon my arrival at the venue. I expected it to take place in an auditorium, but it turned out to just be a smallish room with not enough folding chairs. There were too many people and it turned into an awkward standing-room-only affair.
A projector screen was set up to show clips from movies. I traveled all the way out there, I had to give it a chance.
It began promisingly enough with a surreal clip from a 1961 Canadian horror film called "The Mask".
Thomas offered a brief intro to the clip before he played it from his Mac book. Some really bizarre imagery in anaglyph 3D. (No glasses for the audience.) Real interesting stuff. When the clip ended, Thomas talked about how much he liked it. Then he introduced and played a clip from another movie.
This was the structure of the entire hour-long event.
With a name like "Dreams, Nightmares and Hallucinations: A Celebration of The Dream Sequence", I thought something more profound was being offered. It sounds like a really compelling lecture class. I expected the speaker would make connections between the disparate sequences, discuss the history of dream sequences in film. The nature of dreams themselves and the art of using them as a storytelling device.
There was nothing like this.
It turned out to be just a bunch of clips of dream sequences from movies and TV that this guy really liked. And isn't that cool?
It wasn't cool.
It pissed me off.
More so because I know that I could've taken the same fucking clips and delivered an infinitely more compelling and cohesive lecture. This guy did not even try. And all these fucking people (myself included) came out to see it. Paid FIVE BUCKS to see it. Because it was featured in TIMEOUT NEW YORK. What a rip-off.
More annoying still: I think the majority of the audience liked it. They thought it was good. Because they got to watch some fun clips.
If the bar's that low for entertainment, I bet I could probably host my own event and have it featured in TIMEOUT. That's the only intriguing thought that I derived from attending that piece of fluff. If and when I've got something featured in TIMEOUT, I promise it'll be better than this. Underachievers, please try harder.
New rules. I don't want to hang out with anyone who I pity. I can't avoid this entirely right now, but I'd like to do my best. I want to hang out with people whose company I enjoy. People who've got something to contribute to the conversation. People who are cool. Not just superficially cool but profoundly cool. As relentlessly self-critical as I am, I know that I deserve a better scene.
One episode down. This one looks infinitely better than last season's Nicaragua run.
Here's the thing: with the addition of "Redemption Island", where voted-out contestants have a chance to compete in challenges and return to the fold, I don't see how there's any way to defeat Rob!
Rob is the hardest overall player in the game. He excels at physical challenges, puzzle challenges and strategy. Blind-siding him is extremely difficult—but even if you can manage it, he's now gonna come back at you with everything he's got. We haven't even seen the Redemption Island challenges/duels, but my money is on Rob beating them handily.
I've got special affection for Russell as a player, because he's insane. His game is so much riskier than Rob's. I think it's amazing that he made it to the end TWICE in a row. This is the first season he's playing wherein all his fellow players know who he is up front, so we'll see if he can change up his strategy.
This week, I haven't been able to go to my usual gym location (on 41st Street) because access to the entire block has been shut down due to "falling bricks". Wednesday, I headed up to another location along the Upper West Side. Each New York Sports Club is structured so differently, you've got to carefully explore it beforehand to make sure you don't accidentally walk into the wrong locker room.
While in the area, I went to a Barnes & Noble and picked up Bill Carter's book "The War for Late Night" for approximately TWICE the price I could've paid through Amazon. The cost of instant gratification. And not dealing with unpredictable UPS delivery schedules.
I was a big fan of Carter's book "The Late Shift", which meticulously chronicled the feud between the Leno and Letterman camps over who would succeed Johnny Carson behind the Tonight Show desk. "War" serves, essentially, as a sequel: chronicling the subsequent Leno-Conan debacle.
As in "Late Shift", Carter interviewed almost everyone involved for "War", allowing the reader to be a fly on the wall in intimate scenes. The fight over the Tonight Show was a big public spectacle, but the book offers greater insight.
I'm also a sucker for show business stories like this where managers and agents and producers and executives are all duking it out in a battle royale. More so now that I've got some experience with managers, agents, producers, executives. Not in television, but it's a similar game.
Obviously, Misanthropy Central is a longtime supporter of both Letterman and Conan. In college, I attended a taping of Conan early on in his late night career. Tiffani Amber Thiessen was the big guest. Rip Taylor had a surprise cameo. This was in the really early period where the show was just seen as a joke: a rank unknown given a major network talk show, standing in the shadows of late night titans Letterman and Leno.
I don't even remember the transition when I actually began to legitimately *like* Conan O'Brien. It was gradual.
I'm not a follower of many podcasts, but WTF with Marc Maron is uniquely fascinating to me. Maron interviews a lot of comedians. He's a stand-up comic vet talking to a lot of other stand-up comic vets. And because it's all audio, and there's no explicit time constraints, there's a level of intimacy and depth he achieves that surpasses anything you'd be able to find on late night television. Maron involves himself with his subjects. Sometimes they discuss their shared history, even address some bad blood between them.
Most recently, Maron did an amazing interview with Gallagher.
You remember Gallagher and his watermelon-smashing Sledge-O-Matic, right?
He was the patron saint of prop-comics.
Well, it seems he's been trying to make a comeback and his manager set up an interview with Maron for his WTF podcast, since it's been gaining popularity. Gallagher shows up at the interview, not familiar with Marc Maron and not familiar with the concept of a "podcast". Turns out, Gallagher is an ornery old fuck! At some point, Maron asks Gallagher to respond to some recent criticism of some homophobic content in his act... they start getting into this heated debate... and Gallagher ultimately WALKS OUT ON THE INTERVIEW. You need to hear it. Gallagher sounds completely fucking insane throughout.
After that one, there's a terrific interview with Dave Foley of KIDS IN THE HALL and NEWSRADIO fame. Maron walks Foley through the entirety of his career. It is simultaneously hilarious and *profoundly* sad. Foley's twice divorced and apparently his first wife has committed her life to bleeding him dry of every cent he earns. Basically, if he earns less than a million dollars in a year, he is technically committing a crime in Canada—because, by law, he is required to continue to pay this woman an absurd amount in child support. A fact which explains some of his lesser credits in recent years. Imagine earning a million dollars in a year JUST TO GET TO ZERO.
Foley goes on to talk about how he's just started doing stand-up. Motivated in no small part by his desperate need to make money. He candidly talks about the indignity of trading on his amassed celebrity to *begin* a stand-up career as a middle-aged man.
He talks about the formation of the KIDS IN THE HALL. Talks about his crush on Maura Tierney when he was doing NEWSRADIO. Great stuff. Do give it a listen.
There's something I relate to in stand-up comedians, somehow. Yes, the majority of them have deep emotional issues, but there's something about the way they think that I tend to relate to. I think it's something that I might be good at if I really committed to it. It's an idea I've flirted with, here and there over the years. Never seriously enough. I think it's one of the hardest things to do in show business. Even rockstars have the back-up of a band behind them, or the shield of a guitar. To walk out in front of a room full of strangers with just a microphone... that takes some serious brass.
On BLOGGER, I can create entries that are scheduled to be automatically published at any point in the future. When I go through the EDIT POSTS tab, I'll see a list of entries that have been published and, at the top, a list of entries that are "scheduled".
On Monday, an untitled entry was published that had been scheduled to be published for a full year.
It is strange to create an entry a year in advance and have that year transpire and see the entry automatically publish.
For a year, that one entry was at the top of my "scheduled" queue. Waiting patiently. The original meaning behind it blurred over the course of time. Its final, anticlimactic release only serves as a reminder that an entire year has gone by... and what are we doing?
Saturday night, I went to one of those awful "Anti-Valentine's Day" parties. One of those dreadful MEET-UP parties choking with irony, appearing to be a refuge for singles on a holiday built exclusively for couples. In reality, a clumsy pile-up of 200+ strangers looking for something they're not likely to find.
"Why would you attend something like this, Malice? And ALONE, no less? It seems out of character..."
How much blog entry evidence do you need before it's clear that I am a glutton for punishment? I'm always looking for ways to push myself out of my comfort zone. And I lost most of my casual friends in the great New Year's Eve War of 2010.
To add a game component to the awkward night, each party member was given a torn playing card. If you found the member of the opposite sex with the other half of your card, you could both claim a free drink. Nobody appeared to spend any effort to actually do this. Somewhere out there, I'm sure there's a remarkable woman with half an Ace of Diamonds card who wishes I hadn't left early.
Greg Laswell's melancholy cover of "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" repositions the narrative of the frothy 80s grrl-empowerment pop confection so that we're witnessing the male perspective. A young man who's had his heart torn out by the whims of a girl.
GRRL VERSION MESSAGE:
Let the girls be girls! Let them do what they want to do!
GUY VERSION MESSAGE:
Girls will do whatever they feel like doing, regardless of how it breaks your heart.
Phone rings in the middle of the night...
My mother says, "When you gonna live your life right..?"
Reminds me of when I had to try to explain to my mother why my wife walked out on me.
The tune has been so linked with Cyndi Lauper that, until recently, I never realized that her iconic version was actually a cover of song originally written by Robert Hazard:
So curious to imagine that this song originated from the male perspective. I think it's more poetic.
Big plans for the V-Day weekend, sweethearts...? I'm doing a series of things that I'm too ashamed to blog about. Yes, it's true, there are things I won't even share with YOU, dear and constant blog. Are you suitably scandalized?
O, where does the time go...? Middle of February and 2011 is just zipping by relentlessly. What's the rush? The universe is fast-forwarding toward my death scene. My lonely, violent death scene.
Not waking up to an alarm clock every morning. Not dealing with dress codes. Not chasing after trains to get to work on time. Not having to call in sick when you feel too sick to get out of bed. Not training an eye on the clock to make sure you get back from your lunch hour.
I don't miss those things.
The trade-off, however, is the feast-or-famine freelancer lifestyle.
You get a score and you ride it out for as long as you can until you can get another score.
Still waiting on detailed feedback notes for the 1st draft of a script I turned in a few weeks ago. Hopefully, I'll get it sometime this week. Notes almost always suck... but you break them down and do your best to address them, one by one.
Waiting is the biggest pain-in-the-ass about screenwriting. When those notes come in, I've got to dive into this second draft and take it to the next level. My future hinges on my ability to accomplish this in a timely manner. I'm at that midpoint between feast and famine where I'm still all right but I'm beginning to be more cautious about every penny spent. I've got to ask myself, What don't I absolutely need in my life?
[As I was writing this entry, one of my managers called. There's a producer who's in NYC this week who wants to meet with me about another potential project. Could be something, could be nothing, but it's always encouraging to have more than one hope for a score.]
I'm pretty sure that GLEE is one of the dumbest shows ever. It started off with promise, succumbed to its own built-in pitfalls and now coasts by with an undiscerning fanbase that is content to hear song covers and watch corny high school drama.
And yet I keep it on as background noise because I rely on a constant stream of distractions to quiet my mind.
I continue to wrestle with meditation. Went to the zendo again on Monday night to retake the beginning meditation class. There were less people there and a different teacher who was more helpful... and still, it was a battle to try to clear my head for any stretch longer than a few seconds at a time.
What becomes clearer is that there are layers of thoughts. There are the surface thoughts—noticing the sound of a police siren dopplering by, catching yourself thinking about groceries or someone you want to kill or some project you should be working on. Then there are these deeper thoughts that you begin to catch... random things further back in the head... you think that you're focused on your breathing and then you realize that you're recalling a memory from childhood or wondering about the girl who's sitting across the way. Often, there is nothing profound or pressing about these thoughts: they are just NOISE. And it's maddening.
I want better focus to become the person I know that I'm capable of being.
Your Prison is Walking Through This World All Alone
You can't hate Valentine's Day. That's the rule. Because if you're militantly anti-Valentine's Day, you risk betraying the fact that you actually just hate not being in a relationship on Valentine's Day.
So you've got to suffer the drug stores filled with heart-shaped boxes and the signs for Valentine's Day specials at restaurants. It's bloody obnoxious, yes. It's a trivial non-holiday that seeks to throw stones at single people. You can't fight it, though.
And we're focused on bigger things this year, aren't we...?
New York Times Building. I walk by it to get to my gym each day.
Wednesday, it was a crime scene.
A large section of sidewalk blocked off because of the ice falling from the building. I don't know anything about architecture, but is there no way to account for this in the design of a building? It's New York City: it's going to snow. Falling ice is something that happens when you're dealing with tall buildings. It just seems that blocking off a large section of the sidewalk with crime scene tape every time there's a slight warm-up after a snowstorm... is inconvenient.
(Of course, the crime scene tape just blocked off the area around the NYT building—you could freely take your chances walking down the rest of the sidewalk where ice was hurtling down.)
Thursday night, Howard Stern and Naughty By Nature were on Letterman. I checked a calendar to make sure I hadn't accidentally traveled back in time.
It was a great show. The real kick-in-the-pants was that Howard Stern actually talked about how he's been practicing Transcendental Meditation since he was 18! I cannot escape this meditation thing...
Mr. Gaffney is a photographer who teaches photography and digital media at Colby-Sawyer College in New London, NH. His website informs me that he is also a "46er", whatever that could possibly mean. (I can only assume it's related to alcoholism.)
It is also possible that Mr. Gaffney attended college with me, but this has yet to be verified.
As it is apparent that my blog is an inadvertent wishing well, my next expressed desire is to date Winona Ryder. Not to go on *a* date with Winona Ryder. I would like a serious, extended, committed relationship. For good or ill, really. The ultimate fate does not matter as much, as long as it produces offspring. Make this so, Mr. Gaffney.
This is the second article I've encountered that details how Facebook drags you down...
The human habit of overestimating other people's happiness is nothing new, of course. Jordan points to a quote by Montesquieu: "If we only wanted to be happy it would be easy; but we want to be happier than other people, which is almost always difficult, since we think them happier than they are." But social networking may be making this tendency worse. Jordan's research doesn't look at Facebook explicitly, but if his conclusions are correct, it follows that the site would have a special power to make us sadder and lonelier. By showcasing the most witty, joyful, bullet-pointed versions of people's lives, and inviting constant comparisons in which we tend to see ourselves as the losers, Facebook appears to exploit an Achilles' heel of human nature. And women—an especially unhappy bunch of late—may be especially vulnerable to keeping up with what they imagine is the happiness of the Joneses.
People don't typically post about their fears and desires. Their insecurities. Their disappointments. Some do, but more often than not you are looking at a scroll of bragging interspersed with link detritus.
People getting married. People having children. People going to Disney World.
People attending red carpet premieres. People promoting their new shows.
People crowing over their recent weight loss or job acquisition/promotion or relationship milestone.
And the question that Facebook is always asking you is, What the fuck have YOU been doing...?