Monday, February 25, 2008

My Five-Second Review of The 80th Annual Academy Awards

Oscars
Hold gaze on photo for five seconds.

P.S. Seriously though, I think Jon Stewart did a great job. Considering what he had to work with, he did the best he could. Like Schindler, he couldn’t save them all.

And the Glen Hansard/Marketa Irglova performance (and subsequent win for their song “Falling Slowly” from the movie Once) was awesome. And Marketa Irglova, the musical savant with the stones to come BACK out on stage to deliver a heart-felt acceptance speech even after the orchestra cut her off during her allotted time? Yeah, she’s only 19. Here’s what I would have done if put in that situation at age 19: Crapped myself.

Anyway, right after Marketa won the award, Brooke went on to Wikipedia to see how old she was. She was astonished to notice that, mere minutes after it had happened on live TV, the Wikipedia page was already updated to indicate that she had won an Oscar. Which made me realize this: That there is a whole sub-culture of Wikipedia entry writers, people who anxiously await the changing minutiae of life so they can catalogue and record it for the rest of the world. And these people probably sat in front of their computer for the entire day preceding the Oscars opening up a whole mess of Firefox windows (probably spread out over several computer screens) and editing the Wikipedia entries for every single contestant to indicate that they won an Oscar (except for everyone competing against Daniel Day Lewis). Then, instead of saving the changes, they sat there waiting for the awards show to start, with their finger hovering over the “Save Page” button like Jesse James’ itchy trigger finger, reaching for another Red Bull from a fridge located close enough to the command station to not need to remove the finger from the mouse in order to grab a new can, absolutely needing to be the one who tells the world that Javier Bardem won an Academy award for his work in No Country For Old Men. And then I felt bad for these people, because how pathetic is that?

Then I began to wonder, Who is more pathetic? A Wikipedia entry writer or a blogger? On the one hand, someone who can’t take personal recognition for the time and effort they put into their work and remains satisfied with simply knowing that information is being shared freely and openly amongst cultures across the world; on the other, me – with a profile, email address and cropped photo in the upper-right hand corner of my blog about my life, headlined by a relatively humorless photographic representation of my short-sighted personal opinion about an award show honoring people who have worked harder and achieved more than me.

Then I realized it wasn’t me, because I got laid last night. Booya!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Q&A Friday!

Some might call this snow in New York a nice little treat, a reminder of how beautiful winter weather can be and how much I will miss it when I move to Miami. And, truthfully, I kind of felt it when I woke up this morning. Brooke got out of bed first and opened up the curtains, and as I rolled over in our creaky, devil of a pull-out couch, the sight of pure white drift piled up on trees and tables and chairs was kind of inspiring. We opened up the door to the back yard and Puppy approached it, looking up at us with his signature Concerned Face like, “FIRST YOU TOOK AWAY ALL THE FURNITURE, AND NOW THIS?” So we kicked him out the door and watched him romp around. It was a proud moment, one that made me all the more skeptical about having babies – because from what I understand you can’t do things like this with them, at least not without buying them a snow suit and dressing them in a snow suit and, ugh it just seems like so much work.

So when I wandered out onto the quiet Brooklyn streets this morning, I thought, “Yeah, I will miss this a little.” Then I got off the subway at Wall St. and it was like someone pulled the rug out from under me. Slush, dirty slush, everywhere. Sleet coming down, landing with heavy, wet thuds right on top of your ear. Huge chunks of snow falling down off scaffolding onto your shoulder. Construction workers sweeping the snowy, sludgy mix towards the sewer drains. It was horrific: a winter wonderland on crack. You could just imagine Mother Nature and Mayor Bloomberg high five-ing and laughing it up, like, “I can’t believe this douche bag actually bought it! He thought it would be PRETTY. HAHAHA!”

On to Miami.

On to the questions.

I know that there is a general consensus that talking during a movie (especially at theater) is a major no no, and all that partake in this action deserve whatever cruel punishment is given to them, but I have an all-new problem. How should one handle a person who chooses to dance in their seat, through the entire movie, because the soundtrack is "rockin’?" Not only is one disturbed by any noises but also ones eyes must be disgustingly drawn to the figure in the theater that gets a groove on during every action seen where the music is upbeat. I would like advice on how to be politely insistent on stopping one from conducting this disturbing behavior and also, a non-polite way incase the person is “non-English” understanding. Thanks!

S.T.
Washington State

Just so you know, I’m really behind on my Q&A Friday questions. This is from like July. Luckily, it’s a timeless problem. Rumor has it that even during Shakespeare’s times, audiences were constantly disturbed by uncontrollable dancing. And the music in Shakespeare’s plays sucked! Imagine then how hard it must be for a man imbued with rhythm and groove to resist Flo Rida dropping the beat in Step Up 2 the Streets.

Personally, I’ve never been great with confrontation. I once waited an extra month to break up with a girl because I wanted to do it over the phone while she was in Spain. So in movie theaters, I usually employ the “Stare and shake my head” tactic if the person is in front of me, or the “Half look over my shoulder and shake me head” if the person is behind me. One time I asked an elderly couple sitting next to me to stop talking to each other so loudly, and I felt bad about it because it was likely just that they were going deaf, but I was confident that I could take down grandpa if it came to blows.

For a movie-seat dancer, it’s a bit more difficult because they may not understand that what they are doing is wrong. “But dancing makes me feel so good!” they’ll say innocently. So what you need is a good excuse for why they can’t dance – something way better than “It bothers me.” I would try this: Lean over to the person and say, “Excuse me, but could you please stop dancing in your seat? My friend here is deaf, and she can’t hear the film through all your movement.” It has all the qualities a great lie possesses: it’s confusing, it’s sympathetic and it can’t be proved wrong.
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Oh Dan, Dan, Dan,

Please help me! My boyfriend of 7 1/2 years broke up with me without any explanation besides he was "unhappy". A month prior the our breaking up. he told me he had purchased an engagement ring (for me) and was going to propose to me at any moment. Then, all of a sudden, he's gone. Now he's dating a "friend" of his from work. I can't get over it!!! All I think about is the jackass and the new whore (Not that I'm implying I was the old whore). How do I get past the breakup? Help me, Dan Murphy, you're my only hope.

Thanks for your attention,
Brenda

Wow, I feel pretty bad. This one’s from the beginning of December. It pains me to think that poor Brenda has been relying on me for guidance, and every day she has sat down in front of her computer and refreshed my blog and instead of answers she’s gotten self-indulgent rants and semi-coherent observational humor. (I fear I just got a glimpse into fatherhood.)

Anyway, let’s get down to business. First of all, you need to start spending more money on your boyfriends. Like fine scotch glasses and cashmere sweaters, you can’t get your boyfriends at Target. 7½ years and then one day he’s “unhappy” – actually, I can accept that. Not that it’s right, but let’s face it: People need to make themselves happy. Would you really want to be with him if he was miserable? Like that aptly titled movie, “Misery”? Of course not. And if he’s too immature to realize that one doesn’t find true happiness in the shaved vagina of one’s slutty co-worker, well that’s a lesson you need to learn with your doctor and a penis swab.

What I have a problem with is that he told you that he was going to propose to you. I mean, Huh? Who says, “I’m going to propose to you”? Isn’t that like saying, “I’m going to throw you a surprise party”? Why not just say, “I’m going to break up with you”? Regardless, he’s what Brooke would call “an asshole” (Brooke uses the same words as everyone else). And the only way to get over relationships with assholes is to sleep with a bunch of black guys.

(Brenda, Facebook me in times of need. I’m a good listener, and I have some black friends, too.)
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Dan,

I recently found myself at a party in a hotel room with about 45 women, including my girlfriend (who is hot) – I was the only man there.

We did not hook up with any of them for our first threesome. Does this mean that it’s never going to happen?

Best regards,
Simon

Because economics and sex go hand in hand (and I know so little about both), let me try to explain it thusly:

When the supply vastly outweighs the demand, you have what is called a surplus. A surplus is the ideal market for buyers, because when all the demand has been satisfied, there is still a supply left which needs to be sold. This overstock can then be had at a steep discount.

So basically that night in the hotel room was the perfect storm of economic surplus. It would be like if Christmas was canceled on December 20th, and every tree salesman was left with a lot full of Douglass Firs and you were the only one on the lot with him, and it just so happens that you’re a hobbyist wood-sculptor. Right place, right time, right everything. All you’d need to do is back up a flatbed and load them on, one by one, and count yourself blessed.

The problem is, there’s also something called “The Law of Diminishing Returns,” which states that if one factor of production is increased while the others remain unchanged, the overall returns will decrease after a certain point. So up until this point, you’ve been widdling away on one stump at a time. Carving raccoons, gnomes, bird houses, what have you. Suddenly, you’ve got 30 yards of lumber in your back yard and a stack of purchase orders to match. But it’s still just you sitting on your back porch widdling away while listening to Willie Nelson tunes. So while you’re footing the bill for the lumber and the flatbed truck and the extra lot you had to rent to store all the Douglas Firs, the fact remains you simply can’t widdle any faster than you could when it was just that one log.

The point being, just put on some Willie Nelson and fuck your girlfriend and consider yourself blessed, because you’re not a businessman, Simon. You’re a hobbyist. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

(Think you’ve got what it takes to have a question? Email me at redactedblog@gmail.com)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Moving and Shaking (With Pure, Unadulterated Terror)

8:59 Today is moving day. I woke up at 8:00 and immediately yelled at Brooke. I may as well have said, “I’m tired and stressed and you’re not helping because my father never taught me that a girl doesn’t really ask questions so much as she thinks out loud, so that every single one of my “answers” will be nothing more than a springboard for her negative criticism!” But it came out more like, “Ugh.”

Brooke says: It didn’t come out like “Ugh.” It came out like, “Rooaarrr! Get in the SHOWER! I am mean!!”

9:18 As we speak, there is a man outside my window over my left shoulder. He is a mover waiting for the truck to arrive. Brooke made an attempt to communicate with him through the window – some sort of hand gesture that is meant to mean “cold?” or “coffee?” or “shitty job?”. But now he is just standing there, like a silent supervisor of the biggest change my life has ever witnessed.

Brooke says: What I was trying to communicate is “My boyfriend is yelling at me. Do you want to be my new boyfriend?”

9:29 The truck has arrived. A team of five men file out like a brawny clown car. I’m always a bit intimidated by blue collar workers. There’s something about the fact that they could punch you out that’s just off-putting. I mean, in a situation like this, social status means nothing. Holding up my blog in front of my face isn’t going to do much good. In fact, the two guys in front of me right now wrapping up my bed seem wholly unimpressed, indeed almost angry with the speed with which I type. In makes me feel strange.

Brooke: I, too, feel strange when confronted by two burly men and a bed.

10:00 We were screwed with the weather. The unusually mild winter has decided to take a day off. With our front door open, it’s about 30 degrees in the apartment. I posit that it’s a blue-collar tactic to make us sympathize with their harsh working conditions, leading to a bigger tip. Brooke thinks it’s a good reason to put some liquor in our coffee. Advantage? Brooke.

Brooke: It’s medicinal drinking, like in Russia or rehab.

10:51 I’ve been trying to look at the Lindsey Lohan pictures all friggin day, but every time I get them up on the screen one of the movers comes over to ask a question and I have to close it real quick, like I’m at work, or 15 again. Also, I just farted and one of the workers caught me. I gave him a knowing, blue-collar look. Advantage? Even.

Brooke: Yes, I was aware Dan was looking at nude pictures of Lindsey Lohan naked (her boobs are huge!). No, I was not aware he had farted.

11:02 I’ve always had guilt over people working for me while I sit by and watch. I made a few attempts to “help” but just got in the way. So to make the situation more comfortable, I’m sitting here on my laptop pretending to work. Every so often, I squint my eyes and pretend like I’m thinking real hard. The last time I did it, I was actually opening up espn.com. Unfortunately, the sports highlight video on the homepage automatically started playing loudly. So I squinted even harder, trying to convey something like, “Hmm, yes. Interesting. This will be hard work, indeed.”

Brooke: I assuaged my do-nothing guilt by continually assessing the situation, i.e. walking back and forth from room to room, drinking my “coffee.”

11:07 Fucking great. The first time that someone actually asks for my help, I fuck it up. The guy waves me over, and I move to get up off the couch, but apparently I’ve been sitting in such a weird position that my leg fell asleep. So I hop up and almost fall down. Then I limp over shaking my leg. It was like, “Everybody stop! White collar guy’s got pins and needles. Let him shake it off.” Embarrassing.

Brooke: HAHAHHAHAHA. Dan fell!

11:42 They’re all in the bedroom now – four guys packing up one dresser while the fifth stands outside watching the truck (sucker). The banter is off the wall. One guy’s cell phone won’t stop ringing, so another guy (with a thick Irish accent) comments, “Who’s that, ya girlfriend?”

“Yeah, she won’t stop calling.”

“Why don’t ya just marry her. That’ll shut her up.”

I have no idea what that means, but I’m pretty sure he’s right. It must be some Irish proverb I’m unaware of.

Brooke: Yes, Dan, it’s true. If you marry a girl, she shuts up. Try it.

12:22 I can’t believe that in just over two hours, all our worldly possessions (except one couch, one table and a weeks worth of clothes) were packed into one truck, with room to spare. It makes you wonder what it all means – why we spend so much time surrounding ourselves with an accumulation of possessions when all we really need is one couch, one coffee table, two laptops, stolen Wi-Fi, Sidereel.com, some nice jeans, a few cashmere sweaters, Chinese take-out, our cell phones, DVD’s of “Lost” and “Friday Night Lights,” and beer? Why? What void are we trying to fulfill?

Brooke: What he said.

12:25 The workers have left and the “manager” man comes back into the apartment to have us sign some papers. He also has a thick Irish accent. Brooke and I have already established that the accents, plus the gruff exteriors give the men an air of suspicion. So when we give him the sizeable tip, and he immediately asks to use the bathroom, Brooke and I shoot each other a sideways glance. Clearly, he is going into the bathroom to siphon off some cash before dolling it out to the workers. I would tell Brooke that she should accidentally open the door to the bathroom to surprise him, but she actually already did that once today and I don’t want everyone thinking she’s “that kind of girl.”

Brooke: I am that kind of girl. Seriously, I have to pee a lot.

4:03 Brooke: Well, they took everything. Except the couch, where Dan’s sitting. We moved it away from the window because it's cold. Which means our sole piece of furniture now looks out the window. Mailmen, neighbors, school children, to all that walk by, we look like some weird modern art piece. Alone. In an apartment. Watching.

Dan: Apparently, this whole experience has turned Brooke into a noir film director. I’ll let it play out until she turns the hose on an elderly woman outside our window for “ruining her shot.”

6:00 Lacking a proper bed, Puppy settles, begrudgingly, for a stack of clothes.

Puppy: Dude, where’s my stuff?

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

There’s Two I’s In Miami

Let’s recap:

28 years ago I was born. At the time, I was presumably lacking in self-awareness, though local lore claims that I didn’t utter a single word until I was two and a half, at which point I woke up one morning and asked what was for breakfast – suggesting that, at the very least, I was smart enough to milk a good situation for some attention and bide my time before absolutely HAVING, at the threat of eating one more sub par bowl of oatmeal, to communicate with the outside world.

Flash forward to senior year of high school. I am smart and lazy. College applications qualify as “paperwork,” which isn’t very high on my to-do list. I decide I can go one of a few ways: I can go to the University of Miami and be a marine biologist; I can go to Loyola in New Orleans and drink; or I can stay local and go to Fordham in New York. In the end, I decide to stay local, because my high school girlfriend will be nearby, and ultimately I am a sucker for romance.

2002. I graduate college. Someone older and wiser tells me that the world is my oyster, and I respond that I don’t like oysters. It sounds like some quippy line out of a mediocre indie movie, but it’s the truth: Sushi hasn’t really taken off yet and for the price of three oysters I could get a chicken parmigiana hero. I decide to stay in NY and hone my craft. At this point, my craft includes programming my first generation TiVo, drinking in the afternoon and emailing my friends forty times to discuss the nuances of adulthood, like food shopping and pooping in a communal corporate environment.

2005. Tired of being a cliché, mid-20’s poster-boy for the lost technological generation, I decide to start a blog. Five weeks in, I read an article in the New York Times about how blogging is the wave of the future. This has me ambivalent: On the one hand, I’m so happy to be a part of the future. On the other, if the Times is reporting on it that means it was the future about three years ago. I decide to stay the stale course. I am smart and lazy.

2007. I meet a girl. Not just any girl, but a real girl. One with hair, an education, and a bewitching guile. And what’s more, I meet her through my blog. I consider writing an op-ed for the New York Times entitled “Blogging Is The Wave of My Future (In Bed),” but stress over the stylistic impediments of having to refer to my girlfriend as “Ms. Brooke.” Instead, I start another blog and move to Brooklyn. I inherit a dog. I shop at FreshDirect. I have two TiVos, two computers, a refrigerator with a bottom-level freezer storage drawer, a home office and a love/hate relationship with Ambien. I consider the real possibility that I am peaking.

But wait . . .

January 18th, 2008. I’m at work. I get an email from Brooke with the subject “OMG!”

“Cute,” I think.

I open it up.

“Do you like Miami? I hope so, because I just got a job there.”

Now, I’ve never passed out before. The closest I ever came was in 6th grade when I broke my wrist after falling out of a tree. The doctor had to reset my bone. The nurse held my forearm down, and as the doctor yanked hard on my hand I felt a wave of darkness pass over me – my mind’s way of saying, “Eh, I’ll sit this one out.” That’s pretty much what happened here, except instead of my wrist, it was my whole body. And when I came to, the worst that had happened was that I’d spilled my coffee.

Now, a little back story: We’ve talked about moving for a long time now. I’ve been on the Escape From New York Bandwagon ever since “Lost” premiered and I found myself agreeing with Locke that, sure, while hunting for your food and reusing the same dirty water bottle over and over aren’t exactly the apex of success, it might not be such a bad life to be stuck on that island. Then I went to Tuscany for two weeks, and it was decided: I am a man who enjoys being disconnected from modern life; one who will eventually throw off the yoke of a commercial existence and work a vineyard in Italy. And blog about it. And read all the comments on my Blackberry while I till the soil.

This plan, of course, had to be revised once I started researching international immigration laws. More paperwork. No thanks. But I didn’t give up, surprisingly, and my stick-to-itiveness was an indication to me that moving must be something I really wanted. In the past, I solved all my problems by watching TV or starting a blog. Now, I was actually looking outside the TiVo box for solutions.

Back to January 18th.

My first reaction was an audible, “Who?” Words didn’t seem to make sense. Job? Miami? I thought, Is this what a stroke feels like?

My second reaction, born of my need to rationally understand everything and research endlessly to get the best price, was to Google “Miami.” It wasn’t much help. I was reeling. I needed new bathing suits, new sunglasses. Do they allow dogs in Miami? I began to sweat.

Just then, an email popped up on my screen. It was from an attorney requesting some forms and an edit to a contract. He signed his email, “ASAP, Steve.”

It hit me: I would have to quit my job.

It hit me: I wanted this.

Flash forward to today. The past month has been ridiculous – an amalgamation of every stress I have experienced in my life thus far, condensed in time and complicated by about 1,300 miles. There was an impromptu trip to Florida one weekend, apartment hunting, job quitting, job hunting, mover interviewing, packing, family and friend informing and complete lifestyle adjusting. And we’ll get to all that, but the bottom line is a big truck is pulling up in front of my apartment tomorrow and they’re driving all of my stuff down to Miami. And on March 1st, Brooke and I are getting on a plane, and when we get to Miami, our stuff will be there waiting for us. And we’ll live there. And despite the decidedly unsettled nature of my predicament, I couldn’t be happier.

So, to recap:

Job? Non-existent.
Income? Paltry.
Health insurance? Good fortune and a strong constitution.
Future riddled with uncertainty, insecurity and a dramatic increase in budget allocation for sun block? Bright.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Q&A Friday!

Q: Where the hell have you been?
A: Miami.

(Full story to come next week. Be sure to tune in; it’s a doozy.)

Monday, February 4, 2008

Five Reasons To Love The Super Bowl Even If You Didn’t Love The Super Bowl

1. The Underdog Story. Hey, does everyone remember that movie “Little Giants”? Me neither (wink, wink), but apparently it was an inspiring tale about a bunch of misfit football runts who, against all odds, defeat the superpower team from across town. In the climactic, victorious finale, everyone watching the movie cries and their girlfriends get mad at them. But, HELLO, maybe you see a few similarities? “LITTLE Giants”? “BIG, RICHLY PAID Giants”? Starting to ring a bell? I thought so. And yes, I cried. Again.

2. NY / Boston Rivalry. I try not to alienate any of my readers by showing preference for any particular city, but let’s just say that if Boston was on a list with 999 other cities and someone came up to me on the street and was like, “Can you list these cities in an order ranking them from worst to best?” I’d at least know where to start.

3. The Commercials Make You Think That You Could Have a Successful Career in Advertising If You Ever Wanted To Not Work As Hard As You Currently Do. But seriously, does anyone have a better job than Will Ferrell? Bud Light Probably paid him $2,000,000 to show up on the set dressed like a clown and spout out a few lines, which he probably came up with on the spot. I can just see the ad people handing him the script and him replying, “I pee on scripts.” And everyone laughing and him saying, “No, really. I pee on scripts.” Then throwing the script on the floor, taking out his dong and urinating on it, finishing off with a few muffled grunts and one pronounced shake and saying “Now let’s do this thing.”

4. Its Educational. If you tuned in late, you unfortunately missed out an informative lesson on the history of the United States. Even more unfortunately for me, I kind of dozed off and woke up after the introduction, so all I saw were people dressed like it was 1680 again. Which was confusing, because I’m like, “You’re broadcasting in the latest HD technology, though.” Anyway, basically what happened is THEY READ THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE. Before a football game. Welcome to Odessa, TX everyone – It’s Sunday Night Lights.

I will say this, though. The Declaration of Independence has one hell of a publicist. I bet its Facebook page is going to blow up today. I’d call it the comeback of the night, but . . .

5. Paula Abdul. If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to see your mom perform at the Super Bowl, you’re in luck. I just don’t see how this decision gets made: For Paula Abdul to want to attach her name to a new song (I won’t even say “sing”), for a record company to want to support Paula Abdul’s comeback, or for FOX executives to think that the Super Bowl was the right venue in which to show off her super-sexy gyrations. I understand there’s the “American Idol” connection with FOX, but if anything that should make them more worried. The worst part? How everyone got really excited when she started off by singing “Forever Your Girl.” Then it was like, “Oh. She’s not singing an old song, she’s covering a Madonna track.”

BONUS REASON! History Making Performances. Sure, the Patriots didn’t blow up the record books with a 19-0 season, but they can hang their hat on the fact that no other team in NFL history has gone 18-1 and lost the Super Bowl. That’s kind of a record, right?

BONUS BONUS LEASON! Racism. I know it’s not technically racist. It’s was just some pandas doing some funny accents. It’s not like they opened up a huge laundromat and drive away at the end and caused an accident on the freeway. But don’t you just get the feeling that something is a little off? Personally, I think it’s the Waspy Genie.