Wednesday, February 25, 2009

This Is What It Feels Like In Prison

I’m all for keeping the neighborhood clean, but I have to draw the line somewhere. And I draw the line at this poster.

(P.S. Imagine being hired to do the photo shoot for this?

“Okay, we’ve only got one shot here. We’re losing light quickly. Everyone be ready; I want to make certain we catch the poop dangling from the asshole.”

Oh, and you’re British.)

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Best and Worst of the Academy Awards

Every year I try to avoid watching the Oscars on principle, but then I remember that I have no principles. Except “Never trust a man in a hat.”

The least I can do is share my thoughts on the show.

Least Effective Method Of Downplaying Overinflated Importance Of The Academy Awards

What the hell was with bringing out all the past actors’ awards winners and lining them up on stage like The Vagina Monologues? Notwithstanding I fact, I think they should keep this format, but next year instead of bringing out past winners they should bring out five scientists. Like The Woman Who Cured Rabies, and The Guy Who Invented The Robotic Replacement Arm. And it would be like, “Last year, a war veteran came into my hospital with no legs. I fit him with state-of-the-art, composite appendages and this coming Tuesday he will be running in his first marathon. Thank you for totally nailing the crazy Latin lover role.”

My friend John disagrees:

John (11:24:46 AM): i liked the 5 actor thing
John (11:24:55 AM): even if Alan Arkin is insane
Me (11:25:25 AM): i told brooke i would give anything to have christopher walken say something about me.
John (11:27:08 AM): Joseph Daniel're writing is like a Bearcub playing with a soccer ball on a cold winter's night...your performance as a conflicted young man looking for a home in "Bellport to Miami" was superb, and haunted my dreams each night

Good point. But then you also get stuck with moments like . . .

Most Forced Tribute To A Fake Black Man From A Real Black Man

I get that you need a black guy to talk to Robert Downey Jr. about playing a role in black face. I get it. But Cuba Gooding Jr. presenting an award to Robert Downey Jr. is like me presenting Anne Hathaway with the opportunity to bang me. It’s like, “Stop raping me, Cuba.”

Most Extreme Makeoverish Moment

Personally, I don’t think that Milk should have won for best original screenplay since the story is based on real life events. Hardly anything “original” about that. But that’s my cross to bear with the Academy. In the meantime, Dustin Lance Black’s acceptance speech was awesome. It was kind of off-putting at first because you’re all, “Holy shit, real world problems at the Oscars!” but the calm, even-handed way in which he carried himself (whereas I would have been like, “Suck it, Repubs!” while fashioning my trophy as a penis) was truly inspiring.

P.S. I’ll trade you the right to get married for an Oscar on the first major film you’ve ever written and that chiseled jawline. Thanks. (Sorry, Brooke. But we can still share insurance!)

Worst Red Carpet Moment Not Involving Someone Saying “Who Are You Wearing?”

"He doesn't speak English" is the new “Fuck you.”

Best Award Presentation That Makes Me Want To Go To There

Maybe it’s just because you expect it to be so bad that you can hear Tina Fey and Steve Martin pour out a fraction of their comedic talent and think it’s the funniest thing since sliced bread, but I’m not one to squabble. I’ll take my laughs where I can get them, like the Jersey shore.

Least Accurate Observation By A Much More Credible Source Than Me

I saw an article that presented the Most Self-Aware award to Sean Penn’s acceptance speech (where he says, “I do know how hard I make it to appreciate me often.”) WRONG, TVGUIDE.COM. That accolade goes to Kunio Kato, winner for Best Animated Short, whose speech consisted of a long list of terribly mispronounced thank yous, culminating with "Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto." GIVE US WHAT WE CAME FOR, KUNIO!

Most Daring Shout Out

I’d like to think that if I ever won an Academy award for Best Actress that my dad would be in the audience and I could share a moment with him like Kate Winslet did when she was like, “Whistle so you know where I am, dad!” and he produced this high-pitched whistle and everyone applauded. Except I’ve never heard my dad whistle (I’m not even sure he can) so it probably would have been like:

Me: “Dad, whistle so I know where you are!”


Dad: “I’m over here.”
Me: “Oh.”

Most Predictable Cut To An Ex-Husband And His New Wife

Everyone in the world saw it coming. Literally, everyone. There were old Jewish grandmothers in Israel who were like, “Oye, Jennifer Aniston is bombing so here comes the gratuitous shot of Brad and Angelina!” And this, along with an incredible lack of commitment, is exactly why I could never be an actor. Not that Brooke and I are ever separating, but if she banged some other dude and then divorced me, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have the dignity and grace to present an Academy award approximately 25 feet from her without throwing the statue at her face.

Worst Performance By A Movie About A Vaginally-Birthed Old Man

Every friggin’ time they showed a clip from Benjamin Button I thought, “This is it! This is where everyone will collectively come to their senses and realize that this movie is the most awkward thing ever since that tribute poem I wrote to Oreo cookies in the fifth grade.” Then they show a clip of that young blond girl hitting on a wrinkled Brad Pitt and everyone claps. It’s like WHERE ARE THEY HIDING THE BIG MACHINE THAT IS CONTROLLING YOUR BRAINS SO I CAN SMASH IT AND GET THINGS BACK TO NORMAL.

Most Compelling New Fashion Trend

God bless Mickey Rourke for realizing that life is too short not to give interviews with your hand in your pants. I don’t know why it’s so comfortable; I just know that it is.

Best Moment That Made You Think “Funny ‘Haha’ Or Funny ‘Holocaust’”?

Don’t get me wrong – not only do I think that Seth Rogan and James Franco are really funny, but I pretty much have no filter when it comes to making jokes. (I once referred to it as “more like can’t-cer” to a girl whose mother, you guessed it, had cancer.) But between Hugh Jackman’s opening number and Franco and Rogan stoner-laughing at a scene from The Reader, it’s like, “You remember this movie’s about the holocaust, right?”

Outstanding Performance By A Guy Whose Name, If Mispronounced Properly, Sounds Like My College Nickname*

I’d never really formed an opinion one way or the other on Hugh Jackman, except that he was a dandy of a man and in all likelihood gay. Totally my bad! I have a newfound respect for the guy. The opening number was way better than a comedian’s monologue (because let’s face it, they’re never allowed to make the jokes they really want to make). Bonus points for nearly laughing out loud during the robotic tribute to The Reader, which was brilliant on so many levels that I have to assume the show’s writers only did it because “People usually laugh when they see someone doing the robot.” Plus Hugh scores major points in Brooke’s book for having a mid-to-upper attractive, age-appropriate wife. Kudos, Jacky!

* It’s “Huge, Jacked Man.” Not “Huge Jackman.”

Thursday, February 19, 2009

(Brooke and I are walking down the street. We see an abandoned storefront that is being renovated. Brooke stops.)

Me: “What are you doing?”
Brooke: “I want to leave my business card in the door to let the owner know that I want to write about this restaurant when it opens.”
Me: “You can’t just leave a card. You should probably write a note on the back, too.”
Brooke: “Good idea.”

(Writes note on back of business card.)

Brooke: “How’s this?”

Me: “It looks like a four-year old wrote it.”
Brooke: “It’s not that bad.”

(Looks back down at the card.)

Brooke: “Maybe I’ll just leave my number.”

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Taking the Plunge

One of the things people always reference when discussing their love of New York is its “convenience.” Because owning a car in Manhattan is only slightly less unusual than owning a python or an illegal immigrant, people walk everywhere, necessitating the existence not only of distinct neighborhoods, but even smaller subsets of microneighborhoods.

At the very least, these self-sustaining little pockets of activity usually include a bodega, a pizza place, a nail salon*, and a dry cleaner. There can literally be four dry cleaners on the same Upper East Side street, and no matter which one you go to there will be racks filled with clothing. It’s such a comical overflow that I often think they are props – clothing swiped from estate auctions or Salvation Army bins, wrapped in plastic and hung up to create the appearance of booming business. But no – there are literally that many people living in a hundred yard radius.

In Miami, that’s not the case. The city is so sprawling that everyone drives everywhere, and the suggestion of walking even short distances (say, half a mile) are met with such confused derision that you would think someone suggested punching a pregnant woman.

This, of course, is why ginormous chain stores were created. And though chain stores are meant to be bastions of the far flung masses, here I find myself, in my new apartment, living across the street from a Target.

Fucking. Score.

It’s impossible to quantify the convenience of living across the street from a Target, but if I had to try I would say it’s somewhere between “makes me a better man” and “life saving.” Need a picture frame? A corkscrew? Packing tape? Chicken? These are all things I have bought at Target in the past two weeks. It is, for lack of a better word, mynewbestfriend, one who is always there for me in my time of need.

Like yesterday morning.

It was a normal morning, if on most ordinary mornings you wake up and clog the toilet. But it’s not even that I clogged the toilet, it’s that the toilet got clogged. I’m not going to go into it, but I will say that there are distinct philosophical differences and one involves something that rhymes with shoop and one involves our world’s increasingly troublesome environmental crisis and the toilet industry’s misguided attempts at helping with low flow technology, combined with my love of flushing things (it’s like a magic garbage).

Anyway, no plunger. This shouldn’t seem odd because we just moved in and everyone knows that you never, ever move a plunger with you from home to home. It is one of those things like light bulbs that you leave behind to whomever should live there next as a housewarming gift. Something to say, “Good luck living here!” Unfortunately, we were the first people to live in this particular apartment, breaking the altruistic cycle.

At that point, I knew two things: 1. That I had to go to Target to buy one, and 2. That I definitely did not want to go to Target to buy a one. The idea of an unshowered guy walking into Target at 9:30 in the morning to buy nothing but a plunger was beyond sad. I may as well have worn a large posterboard sign reading WHOOPS! I’M HAVING A BAD DAY.

Still, it had to be done. I put on the most inconspicuous outfit I could think of (khakis, a white tee shirt, hat, flip flops, and sunglasses), and then I walked over.

Immediately upon entering, I realize I have no idea where to find a plunger. I try hardware first, and it’s not there. Then I head over to the cleaning supplies. Nothing. The store is huge, and plungers seem to defy categorization, being half-tool, half-cleaning supply, all gross, and nowhere to be found. I cave and ask a salesperson.

Me: “Do you know where I could find a plunger?”
Her: “A what?”
Me: “A plunger? You know, for toilets?”

This last sentence is accompanied by a reflexive, though highly regrettable hand motion that was intended to illustrate how plungers work.

Her: “I think they’re in Bath. Follow me.”

While I couldn’t say “No thank you,” the last thing I wanted to do was be led by this woman to the bath section where she would present to me (perhaps with a flourish of her hand) a large display of toilet plungers. Luckily, once we arrived all we found were three plungers, all the same, tucked behind some ornate trash bins.

Now, when I think of a plunger, I think of a crude apparatus. Wood handle, eraser-colored rubber head. That’s it. This plunger was . . . well, so much more.

It’s made by a company called Room Essentials (so true) and features a translucent faux-glass handle adorned with a decorative, orb-shaped tip. The head is made of glossy black rubber. It does, dare I say it, live up to its name: Deluxe Plunger.

Whether this made me feel better or worse about buying it is debatable, but fact is I still had to get out of the store. I got on the express line and stood there as casually as I could, holding the plunger more like a dapper cane, hoping people may think that I’m not buying this plunger because I need it, but because I just like the way it looks.

The woman in front of me is buying a compact of blush and the guy behind me has a loaf of bread and a carton of eggs, all things that a normal person may purchase on any given morning. There I stood between them, trying hopelessly to seem at ease with a deluxe plunger in my hand. The woman buying the blush looks back at me and smirks. I don’t blame her. The guy behind me won’t put his bread and eggs on the conveyor belt with my plunger. Don’t blame him, either.

After taking my money, the cash register lady tries to bag the plunger, but due to its odd shape can only wrap the head in a plastic bag and tie it in a knot, thus drawing more attention to it. It’s at this point that I totally give up being embarrassed about buying a plunger at 9:30 on a Tuesday morning. “Hey world!” I might say. “My toilet isn’t working properly!” And everyone in the store would stop what they were doing and say, “Been there!” (including the attractive woman buying the blush) and we would, in that moment, all feel like a neighborhood, everyone united by the occasional failings of modern plumbing.

Indeed, upon entering my building at home I waved the plunger at the concierge in the form of a big hello. He didn’t look at me funny. In fact, I don’t think he looked at me at all.

* How a manicure became as ubiquitous a necessity as food and clean clothing I’ll never know, but ask Brooke what she misses most about New York and she’ll tilt her head to the side, lost in a pleasant memory, and sigh, “Koreans.”

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Brooke and I Are the New Jeffersons

(Because we’re “moving on up.” Not because we are black.)

It’s not often that one blog spans three home moves, unless your online diary happens to be called, in which case I stand totally corrected.

But lo, there I was for the third time in two years: packing up my belongings, throwing away a year’s worth of junk, rationalizing why I need that collection of cologne samples, and spending a solid three weeks being generally constipated with the stress of uprooting yet again.


It all started back in March of ‘08, approximately two weeks after Brooke and I moved into our first Miami apartment. Totally overestimating our affection for each other, we decided that we could both comfortably work from home together in a one-bedroom apartment.

It didn’t take long for us to realize that the reason Jack and Rose’s love was so pure was because he drowned before they ever got the chance to spend eight hours a day working a mere ten feet from each other. It was then that we decided we would go one year (the relationship equivalent of David Blaine living in the stomach of a whale for 14 days, or whatever it is he does) and then move into a two-bedroom apartment, like God and our couples therapist intended.

For both of us, the prospect of moving isn’t anything new. For me, this will be my tenth apartment in ten years. For Brooke, I think it’s twelve. Clearly somewhere down the line we got it in our heads that home isn’t where the heart is, it’s where the cheaper rent is, or where your ex isn’t, or basically anywhere different. Maybe we’re holding out for the day where we’ll walk into a new apartment, and there will literally be a heart dangling in the doorway by a string, at which point we’ll turn to each other and say “This is the place!”, but that has yet to happen.


This move, though, was different for several reasons. For one thing, this will be our second apartment in Florida, which makes me laugh a little bit because holy shit I live in Florida. It didn’t hit me until JUST NOW. I guess when I moved down here, I thought of Miami as an extended vacation, and the next time I packed it would be to ship my belongings back to New York in boxes marked “BEACH TOWELS” and “WAY TOO MANY SHORTS.” Suddenly, here we are making long-term plans, ones with rational decision-making factors like the up-and-comingness of a neighborhood and our ability to utilize patio furniture.

But most of all, due to a general downturn in the economy (have you heard about this?) and living in a city so overbuilt that there are quite literally more apartments available than residents willing to inhabit them, this will be the first time I can actually afford a grown-up apartment. I don’t know about Brooke – apparently at one point she lived in a house (?) in L.A – but so far the grown-upest apartment I’ve ever had was our place in Park Slope, which had two closets, one bathroom, no dishwasher, and a mouse problem. The fact that it had two bedrooms was besides the point when you take into consideration that we stored extra toilet paper in an antique armoire out in the entryway and ate every meal hunched over the coffee table.

So in January when we started looking at apartments, the shock value was considerable. We were like victims of abusive relationships registering at eHarmony. “The balcony comes with the apartment? Both bathrooms have showers? THERE’S AN ICE MAKER?!” Some real estate agents even gave you puppies to walk around with, which would have been enough to convince Brooke to rent a room in the local penitentiary.

In no time at all, we were transformed from humble renters who were happy with good water pressure and a fresh paint job to a couple who might say things like, “I can’t believe the pool isn’t heated” or “I like the 15-foot ceilings, but the northern exposure is a deal breaker.” In time, I grew to hate myself with the correct degree of intensity (enough to compromise on flooring, not enough to give up water views) and after a long, intense search (as opposed to how it works in New York, where you basically have to run in and urinate on the wall to mark a $1,500 studio as yours) Brooke and I found our new home.


Adding to the aforementioned David Blaineness of the whole thing, we decided that with all our combined experience, we were ready to take moving TO THE NEXT LEVEL. So in between the time when we found our apartment (January 12) and when we moved (February 3), we planned a week-long trip to New York.

It wasn’t all that voluntary (it was a work trip), but it wasn’t rape at knifepoint either. We’d broken our current lease a month early to move ASAP, fearing we’d end up a Dateline special entitled “Murder in a One-Bedroom” should we stay any longer. But that decision, combined with official responsibilities, gave us approximately ten days to find movers and pack up everything we own before flying to New York, flying back, living off takeout and inside-out underwear for two days, then moving our lives to the other side of the Biscayne Bay.

Oh, and maybe you haven’t heard, but packing sucks. It’s one of those endeavors that is so simple in concept (pick up item; put in box; repeat), but in practice bores away at your soul like Andy Dufresne’s rock hammer in The Shawshank Redemption. Pots become “those fucking things that don’t fit anywhere,” anything glass becomes a fragile timebomb waiting to explode, and after packing ten boxes of books and realizing you have an entire bookshelf left, literacy just doesn’t seem worth the trouble.

When it came to interviewing movers, we took the buckshot approach, and made fifteen appointments for burly men to come survey our home and give us a price, which ranged from ‘kind of acceptable’ to $1,500, to which I nearly responded “Oh, I didn’t realize you could transport an ottoman while blowing me,” save for the aforementioned burliness.

In the end, we went with the cheapest guy, who may have had a lazy eye, but it was a kind lazy eye – one that ensured us that even if he tried to run off with our belongings, he wouldn’t get far.


There’s a lot I’d like to say about the new apartment: how I like the slight grittiness of the neighborhood (there’s a pawn shop down the block, which is just like eBay except with an added element of danger); how yesterday I looked off my balcony and down below there was a topless woman at the pool (thanks, Europe); how there’s a concierge who phones up to me when the food delivery guy is here and asks “Would you like me to send him up?” and I have the option of saying “No” if I’ve changed my mind about dinner. But I think what I liked most of all was the feeling I got when I heard that my friend John and his girlfriend Kristen were coming down from New York to visit – a mere two weeks after we moved in.

Of course, my initial emotion was happiness. Then fear, then anger, then hunger (I’m an angry eater), then anxiety, but finally excitement. Sure, we had all of ten days to unpack and set up the entire apartment, but that was nothing when compared with the fact that we had a second bedroom in which friends could stay and poop (the bathroom, not the bed) in private. It all felt so . . . adult. It was enough to make me consider deleting my porn collection.

Unpacking and setting up an apartment that is bigger than three of my Manhattan apartments combined posed some unique difficulties. (And to those of you who are like, “I just got fired and have hepatitis C, don’t talk to me about your white middle class problems,” I say – well, actually that would shut me up pretty good. Hep C is intense. But good luck with the job hunt.)

Not knowing where to start, Brooke and I went with the familiar and engaged in a few days of intense arguing about where things should go, which naturally blossomed into conversations about my inability to communicate emotionally, Brooke’s insistence on “taking a tone” with me, and the role of women’s rights in modern America’s shifting socio-political landscape, all of which culminated in me storming out of the apartment and taking a drive to a nearby CVS where I stood on line with a bottle of water for ten minutes behind two mid-20’s black gentlemen who somehow made it a four man job to buy eight gallons of grapefruit juice, for which I have to imagine there was a good and specific purpose but to this day cannot figure out what it is.

After that, were ready to unpack.


The next three days unfolded like Extreme Makeover, except instead of a huge team of good hearted volunteers, there was me, Brooke, and Puppy, who was largely useless.

Couches nearly tumbled off balconies, new curse words were coined (“mother cocksuck!”), but no project was more daunting than the building of the closets. I had actually been excited at the prospect, considering myself above-average handy and a romantic when it comes to working with my hands (that’s what she said). I envisioned myself out on the large balcony, shirt off, sanding large planks of maple in the sun – classic man vs. nature, or at least man vs. Home Depot.

It just so happened, though, that our move coincided with Florida’s worst cold streak in years, and my dreams of glistening with sweat like a lumberjack in a lurid but well-written romance novel turned into realities of whining about the cold and saying things like “This would never happen at West Elm!”, rendering me as unmanly as I was when my Christmas tree fell over in apartment #5, or when I lived with a pigeon who flew in my kitchen window for two days in apartment #2.

As of the flattening of the final unpacked box, though, no major injuries had been suffered, no drinking problems became “concerning,” only one small fire was started, and no one went all Chris Brown on anyone. (You know you’ve been gone a long time when even your domestic violence jokes are a week old.) And the apartment? Well let’s just say that while I understand that being a mature adult is more than just the space you are in (say, having a career you are passionate about, or not making a conscious and pointed decision to use the word “poop” a few paragraphs up), I still get the distinct feeling that this is what it feels like to grow up.

(Click to enlarge to dream-like proportions)


Puppy remains unimpressed.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Punch the Koala

It’s my new idiom for any stress relieving activity. Like last night, when Brooke and I laid in bed, surveying the many moving boxes* creating a fort-like structure around the room, I turned to Brooke and said, “Man I really gotta punch the koala.” She misunderstood, and we ended up having sex (which worked, too) but I remain intent on making this catch on.

* Oh yeah, we’re moving. Again. Apparently we were raised to believe that like sex-based relationships and uncured meats, apartments go stale after a year. More on this soon. Meanwhile, punch the koala, bitches.