Category Archives: Blog

From My Queue: “Conversations with Other Women”

In an attempt to reduce the amount of digital clutter in my life, I’ve resolved to actually watch the 50+ films and TV shows on my Netflix queue.

I first stumbled across Conversations with Other Women while doing a random search on Netflix.  The film seemed interesting enough to gather dust on my queue for over a year: a man and a woman with a past meet-up at a wedding and re-explore their failed relationship.  Sadly, I’ve been kicking around a similar script idea in my head since I moved to New York (this is why you don’t dick around, kids).

While the film’s dialogue is smart, it sounds and feels like it’d be much better as a play than a film.  This sentiment is amplified by the filmmaker’s choice to shoot and edit the entire thing in split screen.  My guess is that Hans Canosa’s intention was to experiment with the character’s memories of each other when younger and recollection of past events.  While he does find some moments of great storytelling, the effect is more jarring than daring.  I found myself distracted more often than not, and even annoyed, since the split screen rarely embodies a single shot that let’s the viewer ease into the world of the film.  And more so, that seems to only highlight that the script is heavy on dialogue, light on dramatic action, and gets you wondering why not just make it a play?  The story and characters are interesting enough.

Both Aaron Eckhart and Helena Bonham Carter are great; Tom Lennon and Olivia Wilde get a lot out of their limited screen time as well.  By the film’s end, you get what Conversations with Other Women is really all about – regrets, hope, possible redemption.  I wanted to like it a lot more than I did, but seriously – 84 minutes of a goddamn split screen?

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Always Ames…

Bonus post! Why? Because the post I had scheduled for today wasn’t ready yet. As you might expect, this provoked me to spend the night sobbing into a bottle of Dr. Pepper, and calling my ex-girlfriend from kindergarten multiple times (Allison, I’m sorry). Anyway, because I did feel inclined to write about something on the QT – and since this is, technically, a blog – then I can’t begin to recommend one of my more recent favorite graphic novels, The Alcoholic by Jonathan Ames. It’s a sweet, tragic, hilarious tale of the things a man can do while drunk and the ponderings that are left with him the morning after. Lord knows: who hasn’t woken up the next day after a wild night out to discover he spent $20 on 3 bags of Family Size Dorito’s and has 3 text messages from a girl in Wisconsin (true story). Anyway, The Alcoholic by Jonathan Ames. Enjoy readers.

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Sincerely Sedaris…

I was first introduced to David Sedaris via his humor pieces in Esquire magazine. I’ve loved his columns and stories since I was 18. The video above should show you why.

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The Lost Baseball Cards of Diatemacia

Like any antisocial latchkey kid, I went through a collectibles phase. Collectibles were the friends that you played catch with, because you certainly couldn’t ask that from your dead dad. My obsessions were the standard stuff that any 7 to 13 year old boy could love: Star Wars action figures, classic Superman comic books, bootlegs of the Necromonicon that were supposed to help you tell your dead dad you finally got a “B” in math class. But the one thing that always fascinated me in my routine trips to any flea market or antique store were the “lost” baseball cards of Diatemacia. Widely considered one of the most coveted baseball card series in the world, I could never afford a set (a loose pack of “decent condition” cards alone is valued at $2,000). But they are, in a word, unreal.

Diatemacia, in case you’ve never heard, is a lost religion that originated in the American South, sometime between 1860-1890. Not much information on it can even be found on the internet, but we can be glean a bit from the newspaper ribbon in which the cards came packaged. Founded by a wealthy denim producer, Graham Carmichael, Diatemacians believed that the world would one day come to an end, but then be reborn. On the day of rebirth, believers would be “cleansed” by the Divine Babysitter and spend eternity in paradise, contemplating and correcting the errors of mankind. Non-believers would go about their lives as if nothing had ever happened. Except that all male Non-believers would be given enhanced sexual libidos. Because Diatemacians believe that ignorance breeds ineffectiveness, they felt that people of low intelligence had a tendency to also massively reproduce. Diatemacians believe that these people should not be punished for that instinct, but they should learn how to moderate it. That’s why these new libidos will drive men to stick their dicks into literally anything it could fit into: tree knobs, mailbox slots, a hole in their shoe, phonographs, radiators, bath tub faucets, garden hoses, etc. Because God is merciful and wise, he would never make a Non-believer bring any kind of sexual assault or crime upon another Non-believer. On the contrary: around other people, a male Non-believer is no more attracted to a man or woman than he was before the world ended. However, leave him alone in a room full of lamps with no lightbulbs… be careful when you walk back in there.

From what I could gather, Diatemacians valued style and common sense. In their Holy Book of Holy, dozens of chapters are dedicated to the sacrament of a full handlebar mustache. Not to mention they seem surprisingly progressive for a niche religion, preaching that the beauty of woman was should be judged by how many employees she managed.

The baseball cards were originally marketed towards the children of faithful Diatemacians. Carmichael acknowledged that the gravitas of the faith could be easily lost on kids, so he set out to create an extension of the Holy Book of Holy for a younger audience. The cards featured the patron saints of Diatemacia, who received their sainthood at birth. From there, the Saints were groomed for their destiny as spiritual leaders of their faith. Children could spend months collecting and trading a single series of cards, all of which – when assembled together – told the story of each of the 12 Saints in full. Amongst them was Saint Irma of Birmingham who brought industry to Southern farming, and was also believed to be President Ulysses S. Grant secret night-night storyteller.

Today, the market value of these cards alone makes a single pack worth owning – that is if you can find or afford it. In a recent auction in Laos, a pack of cards from a 1933 12th series sold for $500,000. It was one of the few packs today not owned by Vincent J. Pestonschraud, the last practicing Diatemacian left in this country. Pestonschraud is the great-great grandchild of Carmichael himself, and a noted recluse. His estate can be found in a swamp ranch outside of Jacksonville, Florida. His property is rumored to not be far from the burial ground of his somewhat famous grandfather. Thousands of journalists, fans, and “wanna-be” converts have tried to reach out to Prestonschraud over the years, but he refuses to associate with a world that is doomed to fail. In a statement that his lawyer released in 1995, he famously wrote “You’ll never get my grandfather’s baseball cards, you secular basset hounds. Not for all the tea in China, or $300 – which is what all of that tea is worth. The cards will die here on my property and my corpse with them. Any of you ‘Smithsonians’ try to raid my house to take them, will be met with an unpleasant doom – far worse than what God has waiting for you.”

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To Freddie, with Love

So apparently, I missed that it was Freddie Mercury’s 65th birthday last month (thanks adulthood).  Google released this sick Google Doodle of the Queen classic, “Don’t Stop Me Now”, which coincidentally taps into everything I dreamed of in pre-adolescence: 1) One day becoming a cultural icon, 2) imagining the world as an 8-bit video game, and 3) owning a large collection of full-bodied, Roman onesies.

Thanks for everything, Freddie.  We miss you.

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Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson is my new man-crush

Call it a hangover from my week-long obsession with football (my fantasy teams, more or less, did terribly on Sunday – thanks for asking), but I spent my Sunday night trying to not pay attention to what was happening between the Steelers and the Colts. Instead, I caught up with The Sound of Young America and stumbled upon their last episode with Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson, astrophyscist badass and director of the Hayden Planetarium here in New York. I’d seen Tyson previously on Real Time with Bill Mahr, and found myself equally blown away by his dialogue then as I was in his TSOYA interview; see the link below…

The Sound of Young America

Part of what I find so engaging about him is his ability to make abstract concepts accessible, and also that he makes progressive thought actually sound like a good thing. I’m so gaga over this guy that I’ll also throw in a Q&A he did back in 2009 and how he answered the subject of the 2012 Apocalypse. Enjoy readers…

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Family Meeting: We’re getting divorced…

Kids, your mother and I have something to tell you. We’re getting a divorce. Now, before you begin to assume anything, we want to you both to know that it is completely your fault.

Now, we all know that – “typically” – a divorce never happens because of the kids. It’s because the parents have come to a point where they would be better off not married to each other anymore. This would also be the time to tell you that that’s a bold face lie. Parents are adults, and children are children. Adults can learn how to live with each other, despite their shortcomings. Children are social morons who are led to believe that life is a fairy tale. Truth be told: you’re mother and I would get along great if you two weren’t in the picture. We could keep the house, turn one of your rooms into a separate bedroom, turn the other room into an office or a pottery studio, and continue to share the mortgage as if we were roommates. But apparently – according to all of Mom and Dad’s friends and colleagues – that’s too “complicated” for two children to understand! So we’re stuck doing this: we’re getting a divorce so that you two can have a “healthier upbringing”.

It’s not that we don’t love you, we just don’t love you enough to act as if this isn’t a huge pain in the ass for us. You’re our kids, you deserve to know the truth. I mean: why do you think we’re raising you as atheists? It’s because there’s no such thing as bullshit in this family. When your Mom and I got together, we had it all planned out. We both were marine biologists. We were able to afford this house at 25 years old. We were going to live the perfect life. That’s why we decided to have children, because we thought it’d go great with everything else. But… the neediness. We didn’t expect that it was going to be an all-the-time kind of thing. I know right after you were born, Benjamin, we had a three-week vacation to the Bahamas all planned out. It was going to be a treat to ourselves after 9 months of dealing with the whole “pregnancy” thing. But guess what: that had to be scrapped because a newborn apparently needs to be cared for all the time. Do you know how much “non-refundable” costs?

Anyway, I should reel this back in, because I can feel myself going on a tangent. What your mother and I have decided is that enough is enough. A person can only take so much. And, given our current state of mental well-being, you two deserve better, too. That’s why neither of us have elected to take custody of you. Rather you’re going to go live with Uncle Pierre in Singapore. Singapore! Doesn’t that sound exciting! Clean streets, excellent education, corporeal punishment – so don’t even think about growing up to be some kind of smart aleck, Allison! Pierre’s already got you enrolled in summer session at The Academy of Obedient and Gifted Children so you’ll be all caught up by the time fall rolls around next year.

What, Donna? Oh right, I should have asked: do you two have any questions?

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10 Things I Hate Less Than Your Face

1. Being forced to listen to the entire “Gin and Tonic” era of Billy Joel’s career.

2. 100,000 socially awkward hugs.

3. Personally dressing up gila monsters to look like business people.

4. Getting stuck in a conversation with somebody who believes that Dave Matthews Band is overrated.

5. Bees who believe their stings feel like rainbow kisses.

6. That commercial for NFL Sunday Ticket where fairy Deion Sanders is delivering “the good news” to a Dallas Cowboys fan he can watch games on his Droid, and it never once occurs to him or his wife that the fairy is, in fact, Deion Sanders.

7. Passing the certification exam to become a professional shark masseuse.

8. Trying to order a lithium transmission for a 1925 Baron-X Danger cycle without having to pay the grandfathered-in “German Apology” fees.

9. Waking up at 7:00 a.m. on a Saturday to spend the whole day at a cater waiter job for The National Association of Stiff Tippers.

10. 200,000 socially awkward hugs. From my boss. Who I just bumped into a karaoke bar. At 1:00 a.m. on a Sunday.

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Cup Full of Tom Waits

I’ve now spent an hour trying to come up with something original to write for Friday. Not much luck with anything. HOWEVER! Good news: you can expect at least 3 new pieces of writing next week, and God knows what else. In the meantime, I figured since it’s Friday, you’re most likely reading this because you are a) at work and bored, b) unemployed and waiting for Judge Joe Brown to start on TV, or c) you are some kind of blood relative of mine. Either way: you’re looking for time to kill at the end of the week. Why not spend it catching up on one of my favorite musicians, Tom Waits?

There’s not much to say about Tom that hasn’t already been said by many and more articulate people than me; all I can add is that I’ve loved his music since freshman year of high school. Bittersweet and comedic and far out, his work remains unlike anything else ever produced in the mainstream. Listening to anything he produced while on Asylum Records (all of the ’70s and early ’80s) moves me in a very special way, because it gets me thinking about my dad. I guess because he wanted to be like a character in a Tom Waits song, or maybe he actually was one – fun fact: the man did use to work as a pizza delivery man and a cab driver to make ends meet when I was a child. Anyway, here for your approval (and to curtail my rambling), I present some of my favorite Tom Waits clips off of YouTube. Enjoy. Have a good weekend. Come back on Monday – I’ll make coffee, and I promise to not ask about your husband’s foot problem.

From the film Mystery Men

From the film Coffee and Cigarettes

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“Put It In My Video” by Childish Gambino

In honor of Community returning next week, here’s the track “Put It In My Video” by Childish Gambino (a.k.a. Donald Glover). Truly a force to be reckoned with, this guy.

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