For those of you who don’t live on the East coast, it was a rainy weekend out here.  New York always seems a little more in touch with its gritty side when it rains.  Everything seems to slowdown and everyone seems a bit more introspective–like a private detective in a dime store novel.  I crashed at Kate’s place Friday night and so found myself spending a lazy rainy Saturday at my girlfriend’s apartment on the Upper West side, trying to think of something to do.

“I’m in the mood to play Monopoly,” said Kate.  I was taken aback, not because of any sort of dismay on my part—I have a love of board games that every only child is cursed with and have spent most of my adult life trying to make up for all those lost nights of rolling dice and plastic pieces.  In college, I organized semi-regular sessions of Clue, Jinga, and Scene-it with my friends disguised as pregamming parties before heading out to the bars.  It was just that Monopoly was never my game. It was one of those games I always lost.  Maybe it’s because I lack any real serious financial know how (It seems I’m always trying to beat out a paycheck). I don’t think I’d ever even finished a game of Monopoly in my life.

I purposed playing Scrapple or Trivial Pursuit, but Kate had her mind set on Monopoly.  After I explained how I wasn’t wild about it and that “I always sucked at that game,” she eyed me much like a predator eyes her prey.  And so we were off on a mission to find the Parker Brother’s classic.  In the pouring rain—Kate’s dog, Marshall, in tow—we searched for a copy of the game.  It took us nearly an hour to find one, get back to the apartment, dry off, and set the game up.

The first game went about as well I remembered.  I bought pretty much every property I landed on and could afford, rolled with my fingers crossed, tried my best to save money, and Kate kicked my ass.  During my last roll, I landed on Park Place with a hotel on it and I had $50 left in toy money.  I threw my cards (deeds for my meager properties) across the table with a “take it” and sulked.  In between pouting I reiterated my hatred for the game and how I always managed to lose.  “Babe,” Kate said, “You’re being a sore loser.”   To which I responded, “Well, you’re being a sore winner.”   Yeah, I know—that doesn’t make much sense.

About thirty minutes later, she somehow talked me into another round and went off to get something to drink.  I took the few minutes I had alone with board game (which was mocking me with it’s tiny houses and hotels) to study it and try and develop a strategy.  I realized that if I focused on buying high-end properties around the corners (ignoring low cost land, railroad, and utilities) and building houses first , I could create an income to expand my holdings.  Around then Kate cam back into the room and asked if I was ready for round two.  “Yeah,” I said.  “I think so.”

And you know what, dear reader?  My victory was glorious.  I was shrewd, I had foresight, I was quick to act, and most importantly—I had great luck.   Here’s a picture of the end of that game, all the houses and hotels are mine:

monopoly

And that’s how I won my first game of Monopoly.

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John Stamos

True Story: I was hanging out with Kate last week.  We were just lounging in her living room.  She was aimless surfing the internet on my laptop while I was flipping through a magazine.  It was one of those evenings when all you can muster to do is nothing, because the work day has just burned away every ounce of energy. When, suddenly, the silence of exhausted boredom was broken.

“Oh, did you hear that thing about John Stamos?” Kate asked, nonchalantly.
“No,” I said, not even bothering looking up.  My general contempt for John Phillip Stamos knows no bounds (He knows what he did!).
“Well, apparently he’s making a ‘Full House’ movie,” said Kate.
“Oh dear God, like a reunion special? You have to be kidding me.”
“No, it’s um,” she said trying to gather the interest needed to continue the conversation, “….like…a prequel. That’s going to be all them starting like just after the Mom dies.”
“What?”
“Yeah and he’s going to get James Franco to play a young Jesse, Steve Carell in the Bob Saget part, and Tracy Morgan as Joey.”
“As Joey?! Really?”
“Yeah.”
“That sounds…actually pretty awesome.”
“I know right,” she said, adding: “Maybe you can finally forgive him for his crime against you and end your feud.”
“Maybe,” I said.

What’s so striking isn’t the concept of Stamos’ “Full House Movie” (in fact, it seems kind of dull), but rather the casting.  It’s so packed with great comic actors (Yeah, James Franco is comic actor, didn’t you see Pineapple Express?) that if handled it right, it could be an avant-garde comedy masterpiece.  Can you just imagine Steve Carell and Tracey Morgan improving off of one another, as “Full House” characters?  That would be awesome.

The next day, I did a little research online and found a bunch of articles about the movie and blogs about how great it was going to be.  And then I found this source article.  There’s no movie, it’s just Stamos talking out of his ass on the red carpet—a “dream project,” if you will.  Anyone can come up with awesome movie ideas based on classic TV shows. Look, here are three I just made up:

  • A MacGyver movie, staring an aged Richard Dean Anderson, in which MacGyver is an old man and uses his bag of tricks to escape from an assisted living facility, but is frightened by modern technology which he can’t understand or work.
  • A Smurfs live action movie in which we find out that the Smurfs are just Gargamel’s hallucinations and don’t really exist.
  • A Doogie Howser prequel where he’s working his way through Med School and beginning puberty at the same time.

See John, it’s not that hard.  Oh, and the feud is still on!!

inmcqueenLast week, Kate (My girlfriend, who am I seriously considering giving a pseudonym/nick name to use when referencing her in the blog–like how Bill Simmons calls his wife the “Sports Gal.”  Ninja Girl, maybe?) spent the weekend in Brooklyn.  We decided to take her dog, Marshall, to nearby Tompkins Park which supposedly had a dog run that our friends Chris and Ari were going to with their dog, Jack.  Now, Marshall may look like one of the thousands of pampered toy dogs that are practically everywhere in the city (he’s a bichon-poddle mix), but he’s far from it.  He’s got some miles on him at nine-years old (52 in dog years), walks with a limp (a previous owner was abusive and broke his leg which didn’t heal correctly), and has a semi-cantankerous personality much like an old man.  I like this dog.

At some point on the walk over, Kate passed me the leash.  Just as we were arriving at the park, we ran into our friends, who were on their way out.  As we stopped to chat, I noticed a guy walking by with a pit bull.  Marshall perked up and pulled me over so he could greet the large dog with the obligatory canine ass sniffing (I know no better way to describe it).  I glanced away for a second, then heard the unmistakable sound of growling and snarling, and turned back to see the pit bull standing over Marshall—trying to fit his jaw around the head of my girl friend’s dog.

What lasted only a few seconds felt much longer.  While Kate screamed and people stared, I tried to wrestle Marshall (who had started to fight back) from the much bigger dog, while his owner tried to pull him off.  It was obvious that both dogs wanted nothing more to do with each other, but they’re wiggling bodies had become tangled and intertwined—creating more tension, snarling, and biting.  Then, just as quickly as the fight had begun, it was over and Marshall was free. Obviously, Kate was upset and kept yelling “What happened?”  I couldn’t understand if she didn’t fully witness the exchange, or believed that it was caused by me and the other dog’s owner, Roy (he seemed like a nice enough guy), encouraging the dogs to start their own fight club.  Marshall wagged his tail.  He would walk away with only an ear infection from a small cut in his ear and another cut on his cheek.  I was surprised by my reaction, that I didn’t loose my cool and join in the screaming, or just freeze up and watch.

“You’re good in a crisis,” Kate said.  In fact, this is something she’s said before and pointed out when Marshall had a seizure on New Year’s eve (yeah, this dog has problems) that was I the one who rationally found the phone number for an animal hospital, phoned, described the situation, and then got us into a taxi. To be honest, I was never the calm one.  I was always pretty flighty and panicky in a desperate situation, either voicing my frantic feelings or keeping them inside and waiting for the moment to pass (though I usually could never shut my mouth). Sure, I could be counted on to lend a calming hand to a friend in dire straights, but that was because it was from an objective perspective—if it affected me, I’d lose my shit.

Being good in a bad situation was always a value I wished I possessed.  My father’s method for dealing with insane moments is to vent his frustration by loudly cursing and then barking orders (he’s ex-military).  Effective, but it lacks style. I always liked Steve McQueen’s grace under pressure in movies like the Getaway, Bullit, and the Great Escape.  A cool exterior that exudes confidence.  Rescuing my girlfriend’s dog from being mauled may be a bit different from winning a shootout or escaping Nazis via motorcycle, but it’s the closest I’ve come so far.

I think that it has more to with the older I get.  I’ve lamented here before my disappointment that I’ve not had an adventure filled life at this point, but my experiences have not exactly been dull either. I’ve had my fair share of stranded scenarios and close calls that required improvising and quick thinking.  Maybe each one has helped me outgrow my previous condition of panicking and finally become the cool operator in a pinch that I’ve always wanted to be.

Exactly a week after the incident with Marshall and the other dog in the park, Kate and I came home to her place after a full day to find her roommate freaking out. “There’s a pigeon in the apartment!” She yelled. I hate pigeons.  What snakes are to Indiana Jones, that’s what pigeons are to me.  There are not enough words in the English language that can describe my abhorrence of pigeons.  And I felt them all as I watched this rat with wings flutter and perch itself near the ceiling. I shuttered (on the inside) and turned to Kate and her roommate.  “Get me a broom and stay back,” I said.

[Pic via Imdb.com]

I'm so close to 30.

I'm so close to 30.

Last weekend, I turned 26.  It was gruesome.  There was a nice dinner with the girlfriend and then a whiskey soaked night partying with friends that is now just a very blurry and gap filled memory montage somewhere in my brain.  I’ve basically been recovering until yesterday (i.e. drinking lots of water, swallowing lots of aspirin, and returning a goat to wherever my friend Kirch was able to rent a goat).  This explains my lack of posts, as well as the sick day from work, my suddenly appearing limp, and the notice for a court appearance in regards to an “indecent exposure with a farm animal.”  But as the nausea and pounding headache subsided, something hit me: pure and utter anxiety about where my life was going.

I find myself doing the math whenever I read the profile of someone successful or a celebrity, trying to figure out how old they were when they got their first big break. Thoughts like “When did they do it?” or “How much time do I have?” run through my head.  It’s as if I’m trying to figure out how much longer I can afford to not really accomplish anything substantial, to just seemingly dick around with my life.

It’s not that I think I’m a loser or anything. I just always figured that by this point in my life I’d have reached a higher level of success.   Growing up, I imagined a moderate level of fame, warranting a magazine cover or at least a profile on a major network news show.  I always thought my life would be filled with adventure and some danger.  I mean come on, I should be solving the occasionally murder or wrangling the slimmest of escapes via my trusty pocketknife and knowledge of science.  I should be getting into fistfights on top of moving trains or battling wits with a crime lord of some kind.  Today, my most exciting days are the ones where I can afford to buy my lunch and eat it at my desk (I’m a big fan of those $5 foot long sandwiches over at Subway).

Call it narcissism. Call it an identity crisis. Call it another poisoned mind of a generation that was told since kindergarten that they “can be whatever you want to be” and then met the cold reality that not everyone can be astronauts, rock stars, a-list actors, or crime solving geniuses.  But then there’s the realization that I came to this on my own.

Whatever turned my life into whatever this is, didn’t happened overnight. I made the many decisions that led me here.  And maybe I’m just looking for the wrong accomplishments.  Maybe I should remember that since my last birthday: I’ve quit smoking, gotten a handle on my personal life, reached some level of financial security (for the moment), and even began making progress (measurable in molecules of length) in my career.  But seriously, how cool would it be to solve a murder?

star-trek“Babe, there’s something I need to tell you,” I said to Kate as we sat down for lunch. “Mmmhhhhmm?” she said, her eyes looking over the menu. “Anything important?” she inquired, paying more attention on trying to figure out what to order than what I was saying. “A little,” I said, adding: “you might get mad at me.” At that, she looked up at me. I saw her mind began to put it together. Asking her to go lunch in a public place, where we could “talk,” so she wouldn’t create a scene. “Wha…what do you need to tell me?” she asked. I took a deep breath. “Kate,” I said. “I’m a Star Trek nerd.”

Kate’s mouth dropped open and her eyes widened as tears began to form. “I knew it!” She yelled, slamming her fist down on the table—rattling the place settings and silverware. Obviously, the girl had no qualms about making a scene. People began to turn and watch. Kate bent down low and spoke in a harsh whisper. “I told you when we got together that I could only handle dating a man obsessed with one science fiction franchise,” she hissed. “You said that it was Star Wars. I wore that Princess Leia gold bikini for you!

“I like Star Wars too,” I replied. That seemed to make things worse. “You lied to me!” She moaned before burying her head into her hands. “I didn’t mean to,” I said. “I used to be into it as kid. My parents took me to see Voyage Home (the one with Whales) in the theater and I watched TNG with my Dad. But I thought I grew out of it.”

“Wait…” said Kate, “what’s ‘TNG’?” I paused, knowing that she wouldn’t like the answer. “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” I said. “Dear God,” she muttered, “you’re already speaking in anagrams.” After a few minutes of staring at our drinks in silence, Kate spoke again: “So how did you realize that you didn’t outgrow it?”

“The trailer for the new J.J. Abram’s reboot,” I said. “It looks so amazingly awesome. I can’t wait to see it.”

“Who’s J.J. Abrams?” she asked.

“He’s the creator of the TV shows Alias and Lost. He also directed Mission Impossible: III and created Cloverfield—that Godzilla like monster movie that…”

“Shut-up, nerd!” Kate screamed.

It seems that one of the worst thing you can call someone is a Star Trek (or Star Wars) nerd. The connotation is simple: you dress up in as character as you wait in line to see horrible movies created just to make you pay to see them (Star Wars) or go to conventions to pay money for cheap crap as “memorabilia.” These people deserved to be pointed out and mocked. As such.

How did this happen? Both franchises were meant to inspire and get people to imagine the possibilities of the future—to see what adventures science can eventually take us (humanity) on. It used to be that if you were a Star Trek fan that meant you ended up working for NASA as a rocket scientist or that you wanted to be an astronaut. Instead, losers and outsiders adopted the mythology and hero worship of a fictional universe to create common ground amongst themselves and thus form their own sense of community. The hardcore Star Trek fans who wear Vulcan ears, learn to speak Klingon, and get into raging debates about the childhood of Captain Picard, betray everything the franchise stands for. They’re not real Star Trek nerds. They’re posers

Will you be my "It's complicated" on Facebook?

Will you be my "It's complicated" on Facebook?

Before we begin: a bit of personal exposition.  Over the summer, I found myself single for the first time in many years and in November I began seeing a girl—let’s call her “Kate,” because that’s her name.  And after a couple months of chess like moves testing each other’s qualities as a possible significant other (I always find asking varying levels of Star Wars trivia knowledge a key factor.  You want a woman who knows the difference between a Wookiee and an Ewok, yet doesn’t know that Bobba Fett, though raised as his son, was actually Jango Fett’s clone.), we decided to make things serious between us and date each other exclusively. In the old days, this was called “going steady” and is what the kids today call “friend with benefits numero supreme.”

There are certain rituals at the beginning of a new relationship.  You meet each other’s friends, which for me always feels like that cliché where someone finds a bloody corpse and then absent mindedly picks up the murder weapon, just as the cops bust in and he has to convince them that he’s not a murderer.  You explain the origins of scars and tattoos.  And of course, you change your Facebook relationship status.

Is this really where things have ended up?  I’m not against sharing my personal life online, but whenever something is expected of me—I question it.  Kate brought it up a few days ago and asked what my thoughts were on linking our profiles to one another.  I explained that I was fine with selecting “in a relationship” as my status, but was apprehensive about directly linking to her profile.  I felt uncomfortable with people I’m Facebook friends with, but not real world friends with (it is the nature of the beast), judging, or even worse (as in the case of my ex’s) stalking, the woman I’m dating. “I’ll be stalked anyway,” she shrugged.  I could tell she was frustrated when a little while later she declared,  “I bet Ryan Gosling would link to me on Facebook.”   Damn that Ryan Gosling and his scruffy dreaminess.

As much as I enjoy Facebook, along with the hundreds of millions of other users, it just seems that the whole idea is based more on the “appearance” of who you are and not the real you.  Now, I can go on a whole diatribe summing up Plato’s Cave or Barthes and the foundation of Semiotics, but I’ve got a better analogy.  A Facebook profile is the equivalent to those opening montages in movies where the camera floats around the main character’s bedroom or office, showing the photos tacked on the wall and the “things” that not only demonstrates his or her back story, but also their “unique’ personality.  The problem is that people are complicated and messy animals.  Although we wish it weren’t so: we are more than our good times or our favorite movies.  You don’t post pictures of the moments of complete ennui that you suffer through at work everyday or list the movies that you can’t stand.  So it seems to me that the Facebook profile is more a depiction of how you want others to see you—happy, popular, cheerful, etc. And personally, I’d rather work on the relationship than worry about what other people know about it.

In the end, my whole reason is moot.  Kate and I made a deal.  I’d link her profile to mine and she agreed to think about possibly, someday, (maybe) modeling a gold-Princess-Leia-bikini for me.  Wow, I never realized how much of a Star Wars Geek I am until this post.

Note: I must give credit where credit is due.  Though I myself found the picture used in the post and paired it with the caption, the idea came from this xkcd strip.  You can also learn more about xckd on my  “What I’m into (for now)” page.