New rules for eating and food

June 30, 2014 § 3 Comments

I wouldn’t say that I’m in the midst of another “diet” per se, but I have changed my diet over the last few weeks. Because I’ve added 60 pounds over the last six months or whatever, I need to start eating healthier, but instead of cutting calories, I’m just changing what I eat and how I eat.

I’ve cut out red meat entirely. I won’t eat any more “white carbs” and instead will only use brown rice or whole wheat pasta or tortillas, when I do need a base for my meals. (It’s almost impossible to not have some “base” with any meal, which is why I’ve decided to come up with these new rules for eating.)

I cook almost 100% of my meals, I have cut out alcoholic drinks significantly, I eat a lot more fruit and vegetables, I almost exclusively drink water. I cook with almost no oil or butter, I season to taste but don’t overdo it, I go for a walk down by the beach at least three times per day.

So in my view, I gained 60 pounds in six months, but with the amount of effort I’m making to change my lifestyle, I should be able to lose those 60 pounds in only six weeks. Instead, I’m probably lucky to be losing a pound a week. Yes, I realize that slowly losing weight is considered to be “better for you” and give you a greater chance at long-term success, but that’s the exact bullshit I’m calling out in this post.

If there is a God, then he royally screwed us over on a number of facts about food, exercise, eating, and diet. Everything in the universe comes with a certain give-and-take, but I don’t think that whoever made up the rules about food is giving us enough leeway and cutting us enough slack when we do the right thing. That’s why I’ve decided to come up with a few new rules.

The following are what I think should be changed about the rewards for eating certain foods and doing certain things to be a healthier, brighter, more fit member of society. I definitely like the way I feel over the past few weeks, but I want to move faster towards liking the way I look. Here’s what I would change about food:

You can eat literally all the fruits and vegetables you want

Over the last few months, I’ve made it a habit to buy vegetables every single time I go to the store. I typically get a lot of mushrooms, some cucumber, tomatoes (which are NEVER on sale), celery, baby carrots, and peppers. I also look for good deals on raspberries, blueberries, banan’s, grapes, pineapple, melons, and other fruits. Then I’ll consume these foods. A lot of them.

Now, I realize that fruits and veggies are good for you but I can’t help but think that it’s total bullshit that if I want to sit down and eat, I don’t know, 500 cherries, that I’m doing something wrong! If it came right out of the damn Earth, then I should be able to eat as many as I want. They say that “everything is better in moderation” but I should need a moderator when I’m just trying to veg out (pun INTENDED! PUNS ARE ALSO NOT BETTER MODERATION!) on some celery. And not just celery, but ants on a log! Peanut butter by itself or peanut butter on white bread should come with all the fat and calories expected of peanut butter.

But if you put that tasty, delicious, creamy peanut butter on a VEGETABLE, then it should reduce in fat and calories by at least 50%. I’ve made a sacrifice already of my delivery device of said peanut butter, so please cut me some slack!

Fish that doesn’t taste very good is fat and calorie-free

I love seafood, like most people that aren’t big ass idiots. (haha) In fact, I’ve had shrimp four times this week and I have some king crab legs in my fridge that’ll get boiled up this weekend. I assume this stuff is probably high in some sort of fat and sodium content (but still better than a Big Mac) so I’m good with it. But sometimes I go to the store and buy fish that’s on sale, some cod or some bullshit I don’t know (I don’t really know names of fish, I just buy based on price), and then cook it up and then immediately spit that shit out like I’m an overgrown baby eating carrot puree.

If you’re a fish and you taste like shit, then I’m allowed to fill up on you and it’s like eating air. Sure, I’ll cover up your disgusting fishy flavors with hot sauce and other things that help get you down by gullet, but the fish itself had a daily nutritional value of: Nothing.

Carrot cake is as healthy as carrots

How could carrot cake be bad for you? I personally like carrot cake, but that’s 95% because of the frosting, and because almost all other cakes are amazing.

The game is fucking rigged.

If you put butter on any vegetable, the butter becomes fat-free

This should be a given.

Drinking wine? You’ll be fine!

A beer could have anything from 150-300 calories. A shot of liquor could have anything from 90 to over a couple hundred calories, in just a single 1.5 oz glass. A single glass of red wine might be around 150 calories.

And people wonder why there’s a drug problem in this country! Because weed has zero calories. (ifyoudontcountthemunchies)

I have almost completely given up beer, because it is about the worst thing you can do to your waist line if you’re trying to lose weight and get drunk. The website GetDrunkNotFat.com grades different alcohols based on their individual alcohol-content levels and how many calories per serving, telling you what’s best to drink and worst to drink if you’re trying to lose weight and party. I’m always trying to do both of those things! A pure alcoholic drink like Everclear is basically the best bang-for-your-butt because there are basically no additives that try and make the alcohol easier to drink. Even at 226 calories per shot, Everclear is the best option because you’ll probably pass out long before you end up consuming 2,000 calories. Compare that to a Bud Light, which is 110 calories per can but with only 4.2% ABV. Now, if I drink 10 Bud Lights in 30 minutes, I’ll probably be able to blackout at only 1,110 calories consumed. But if your goal is not to black out, but to socialize at a party or at a sporting event, I could see myself downing beer after beer with only a buzz but gaining 2,220 calories by the end of the day just in liquid wheat.

And I’m the type of guy that likes a beer with a lot of kick, a lot of hops, anything that’s dark and bounces, basically.

I haven’t had a drink in a couple weeks, but when I am drinking I tend to go with cheap whiskey or cheap Merlot. And I don’t add anything to the whiskey except for ice, which turns out to be about as good as I can do (Jack Daniels grades as an A+ on the site) but I’m a big guy so I’m not having two glasses of whiskey or two glasses of wine. I need a little more than that. Humans need an alcohol option that’s basically like drinking water, and I propose that it should be wine.

It comes from fruit. What more do we need to know? I’ve already said that fruits are a-okay from now on, so if I can make fucking ALCOHOL out of those fruits, then not only should you be free-and-clear to drink as much as you want until you pass out, but you’re a god damn wizard!

You can choose one candy

Over the course of your entire lifetime, you get to choose one type of candy, be it a bar, or a bag, a chocolate or a fruit, to be your “guilt-free” candy that you can eat to your heart’s content. Haven’t we earned it? Be it Skittles, Peanut M&M’s, Take 5, 100 Grand Bar, Starburst, or Jelly Belly, you can eat as much of that one candy as you want to over the course of your whole life. Every other candy is the regular amount of 200 calories per serving, but this one you get to have without any of the consequences. It’s your choice.

But if you choose circus peanuts or Necco wafers, you will be labeled a freak and you’ll have to live with that choice. Freak.

Eating while on a treadmill cancels each other out

Yep!

One scoop of ice cream per week = 0 calories

Oh, you’ve worked a long ass week and it’s Friday night and you think you deserve just one big ass scoop of Cherry Garcia???

Me too, go for it. This one’s a freebie!

Soup doesn’t have that much sodium anymore

You compromised your lunch today and had minestrone soup. Yeah, I get it, I like soup too. But it’s still a compromise — no soup other than baked potato soup is on my top 50 foods — and yet you’re sacrificing satisfaction without sacrificing calories, fat, and especially, sodium. How in the hell is that fair? If I wanted salt water for lunch, I’d go swim in the ocean. From now on though, soup actually doesn’t have that much sodium. If you want to relax on a rainy day with a turkey sandwich and chicken soup, go for it and drink all the remnants when you’re done with the chunks. There’s not that much sodium in it, and it’s just as salty and yellow as it was before. Mmmm Mmmm great. 

You ate a salad for dinner? Tomorrow’s dinner will have half-off calories

You made one sacrifice, here’s a reward.

If you go to the trouble of eating a salad for dinner, and I’m talking about lettuce and vegetables only, no chicken, bacon, or cheese, and with a low-fat dressing like Italian or Vinaigrette, then it’s basically like eating negative calories. The more you consume, the more you’ll be able to consume for the next 24 hours. If you eat two pounds of salad today, go ahead and treat yourself to two pounds of red meat tomorrow… at half the calories! Or maybe you eat that shitty salad today and then tomorrow, eat the same salad but slab on chicken, bacon, cheese, and ranch dressing! Then you’ll forget all about that shit salad you ate the day before.

And also be one step closer to looking how you want to look. That’s the way it should be!

 

 

 

Please, son… shit’s actually super funny: Hamlet 2

June 10, 2014 § Leave a comment

This is a series of articles in which I detail comedies that are severely underrated. To put it another way: Please son, shit’s actually really funny. Today I’m reviewing the film Hamlet 2 starring Steve Coogan, arguably the best comedy I saw in 2oo8 and one of my top 10 of the decade.

There are people out there that are “Steven Coogan super fans” but I’m not one of them. That’s not because I don’t think he’s incredibly funny (hint alert: he is) it’s just that we all find ourselves firmly obsessed with certain people, and for now I’ve simply found myself hooked to other people. I’ve seen Coogan in his many other famous projects, but I’m only obsessed with one thing he’s done:

Hamlet 2. It’s… incredible.

The film opens up with Coogan’s character in an infomercial, an episode of Xena, a commercial for STD medication; you know, the actors we never talk about. Not Tom cruise or even Tom Sizemore, but the vast majority of actors. The people who make up the thousands (or potential millions) of roles that need someone who is not famous at all. The one-off roles, the decades of work that culminates in a dick pill.

Coogan’s character, Dana Marschz, is so absolutely pathetic that his downfalls are impossible to be mad at him for. He rollerblades in the Arizona heat to his job as a hated drama teacher, finds out that he’s losing his job, and decides he’s going to just go for it and create the play he’s always dreamed of: A sequel to William Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

IF THE PREMISE DOESN’T CONVINCE YOU TO WATCH IT, YOU HAVE NO SENSE OF HUMOR AND SHOULD SEEK PROFESSIONAL HELP.

Let the original premise draw you in — the sad drama teacher who wants to sequelize one of the greatest stories ever told, and one that almost certainly should leave no room for a sequel — but let Coogan do the rest.

His perfect portrayal of a naive high school drama teacher with the best intentions and the worst execution is something I could watch on repeat for the rest of my lonely days. But in addition to that you have Elisabeth Shue playing herself, undoubtedly her best performance since Adventures in Babysitting. (Leaving what Vegas??) Catherine Keener subtly knocking out another comedy home run on her resume. And a slew of young actors that should’ve seen their careers blow up after this film was released, if only it wasn’t so quickly forgotten.

Hamlet 2 was a movie that didn’t just make me shit my pants laughing, the third act also had me shit my pants crying with some really heartfelt moments that made it seem like a real gamechanger in the comedy genre. It’s too bad that it was overlooked over six years ago, but hopefully it finds a second life one day.

Shit’s actually super funny.

 

Pros and cons and cons: A (spoil-free) review of Orange is the New Black season 2

June 8, 2014 § Leave a comment

“Have you ever heard the fable about the frog and the scorpion?”

This is a line spoken by one of the characters in the middle of the second season of Orange is the New Black. It seems like an innocent-nothing sentence, something you’d forget immediately, but it stuck with me. Especially since the character never goes on to tell what the fable is.

“Let me guess, you’re the scorpion.”

I had to look it up myself.

A scorpion comes across a frog next to a river and asks for a ride to the other side. The frog says he won’t do it, because he’s afraid the scorpion will sting and kill him, but the scorpion explains he wouldn’t do that. If he did, the frog would die in the middle of the river, killing them both. That makes perfect sense to the frog, so he obliges the scorpion. However, halfway to the other side, the scorpion does indeed sting the frog. As they’re both about to die, the frog asks “Why? Why’d you do it?” and the scorpion replies, “It’s in my nature. I have to. I’m a scorpion.”

The moral of the story is that we’re all bound to our nature. We can’t help who we are and we must do what we’re meant to do. The scorpion may have killed them both, but it was the frog who was at fault. He knew the dangers and still associated himself with a scorpion anyway. The frog doomed himself, he had no innocence.

In the first season of Orange is the New Black, the show mostly focuses on Piper Chapman, a frog that aligned herself with the scorpion Alex Vause. Even if she’s not a bad person by nature, she was never innocent of the crimes she was convicted for.

The second season still focuses mainly on Piper, but to a much lesser degree. We still get to see Piper traverse her way through women’s prison as a “frog out of water” but the foundations built in season one for supporting characters start to become houses of their own. Specifically, how the other inmates handle a new prisoner, known simply as “Vee.”

Red and Gloria were the heads of their own prison “gangs” in season one, but Vee proves to be a scorpion that’s smarter and more dangerous than any other character in the shows short history. There are a lot of subplots going on in the second season of Orange is the New Black, but Vee’s presence dominates above all, including whatever is going on with Piper. Whether or not her subplot is completely satisfying by the end is tough to say, but overall there’s still enough in the show to keep watching through to the final 92-minute season finale.

If you’ve binge-watched away a weekend like I just did, you still have to ask yourself: “Did this scorpion just sting me?”

Grade: B-

Pros and Cons

Pro – #YesAllWomen

I’m not exactly a “Patton Oswalt” when it comes to the #YesAllWomen bandwagon, but if he’s not a fan of OitNB then he’s a big fat hypocrite. I say that in the sense that this is a rare show that employs the following types of actors:

Women.

Old women.

Black women.

Fat women.

Latina women.

Middle-aged women.

Unattractive (sorry, I won’t name names) women.

In fact, they even hire Taryn Manning and then say, “Okay, let’s fuck up this whole face!” The youngest women in the show are portrayed as meth-heads and as we all know, meth isn’t exactly doing anyone’s face any favors.

Maybe she’s born with it

Maybe it’s Meth!

Manning is hot. Tayler Schilling (Piper) is hot. Laura Prepon (Alex) is so hot that I wanna cut my dick off and become a lesbian. And even then, Prepon is absent for most of the season. (Not a spoiler, this was well-known since last year.) You’d think that a show about a women’s prison would feel the need to hire a ton of hot girls in order to attract male viewers, but overall OitNB is true to what you would expect from a real women’s prison.

I also don’t know what it means that I think one of the most beautiful women on the show is also the one that most looks like a boy (Poussay, the black girl with the short hair) but I’m working through it.

Con – The stakes always stay in the same place

Despite taking place in prison, I never feel scared for any of the characters. In fact, I even had to catch myself a few times when I’d think, “Hmm, prison doesn’t seem so bad!”

I like a lot of these people, but I worry for none of them. Piper never seems to be in any danger, and in this season, had no enemies at all. It was like watching Felicity except it just so happens that Felicity is in prison while all her family/relationship drama takes place.

I like Crazy Eyes, but she’s only a danger to herself.

I like Daya, but her biggest concern is bowel movements.

I love Lorna, and wish she’d stalk me and threaten my life, but nothing ever happens.

In fact, that’s probably been a problem for series creator Jenji Kohan since she hit it big with Weeds. That show was really, really good for the first few seasons because you could feel it building towards something huge and then eventually… it doesn’t. There are no consequences for anyone’s actions. And if there are consequences, they dissipate faster than real life problems do.

The prison just seems to be a setting, and provides no further use to move along the story. There is very little sense of danger for most of the season, except in some of the backstories that take place outside of prison.

Pro – Now that’s comedy!

Much like with Weeds, I can still watch because it’s funny. I’m just not sure how much longer a 60-minute show can hold my attention if it’s mostly just for some laughs. You could binge-watch a season of Weeds on a Saturday and not feel wasted away. I fell asleep four times(!) this weekend and had to keep going back to where I left off.

I know this is a “Pro” and I don’t want to divert away from that. I laughed out loud plenty of times, and I really, really do like the characters.

Con – Timing is everything and nothing

It would be a mini-spoiler to say how much time passes throughout the season but then again, I HAVE NO IDEA HOW MUCH TIME PASSES. We get to know very few of the inmates sentences and how much time they have left. We barely know what they were in for and for how long. That’s clearly a decision by Kohan, but it’s also extremely distracting.

In the beginning of the season, we’re introduced to a new inmate named Brook Soso. (Oh yeah I forgot, Brook is hot.) Then Vee comes in a little later. That’s as much as you can really expect to get out of inmates coming and going.

It’s really frustrating to sit there and not know if someone is in for two more months or 10 more years. They talk about people getting sent to “max” so I assume nobody is in there for life or because they committed murder, but I honestly have no idea.

It’s kept a mystery to us. Even with every episode having a backstory of another character, we still know very little about what got most of the inmates locked up and for how long. Even Piper’s sentence is only mentioned once.

I’d think that your release date and how far away it is would be a common topic of conversation, but it’s possible that it’s the last thing they’d want to think about. BUT THINK ABOUT IT ONCE IN AWHILE.

Overall:

I just wish the show had a little more evil in it. These women are all prisoners, and so far none of them have shown a hint of being innocent, but only one of them (and not Vee) actually made me think “Holy shit, that chick will kill a bitch.” And it’s not who you think. It’s not even a main character.

Prison seemed a lot more like a vacation in season two, and I never worried for anyone. Kohan is one of the great “cliffhanger writers” in TV, but in season two of OitNB, I just kept watching because it’s entertaining enough.

And maybe because I’m a loser with nothing better to do on a weekend, but that’s neither here nor there. Maybe if I want more friends, I could get locked up. After all, she makes prison seem pretty cool.

The threads from season one, including Piper vs Red, Piper in love with Alex, Bennett and Daya and Mendez, were just a bit stronger than this year’s which included a lot of time dedicated to a mini-hunger strike and some plumbing bills.

I’d still stick with a B- and if you loved season one, you’ll definitely like season two. Like.

 

 

 

Full House of Stark, episode 1: Ned Stark and the Fool Gladstone

April 29, 2014 § 1 Comment

Lord Eddard Stark sat alone in his darkened chamber barracks, and knew that now only stone and steel separated him from his final fate. King Joffrey would not listen to reason, and only Ned’s head on a stake would put an end to this melee in his eyes. So he could do no better than sit there, knowing that when first light began to peak through the imperfections in the walls of his jail cell, his fate would finally be sealed.

Ned contemplated everything that had led up to this moment. From Jon Arryn’s death to his placement as Hand of the King, something he had so wished to turn down if only Robert Barratheon wouldn’t have asked him to take on the duty in the first place. He was friend enough to ask for Ned’s help, but not friend enough to realize he was putting Ned and his family in the worst position possible. Should Ned have turned a blind eye to what House Lannister had been doing behind thick, black walls of King’s Landing? If he had, then the Stark family would be safe and he wouldn’t be within an inch of his life at this very moment.

But if Ned had simply ignored it, then he would be going against everything that Winterfell stands for. Everything that House Stark had built over centuries of war, dedication, and preparing for another cold winter.

“Winter is coming,” Ned muttered to himself, believing no one else could hear him in this dank, dark basement cell.

“You’re telling me. Did someone forget to pay the heating bill in this castle, or what?!”

“Hello? Who goes there? This is Lord Eddard Stark, and I’ll be the Hand of the King until Valeryian steel separates brain from body, so I command you to tell me, WHO GOES THERE?!”

And deep in the darkness of the dungeon hallway that led to Lord Stark’s cell, a voice bellowed back, “Are you sure that’s Valeryian steel? Because I think I smell…” suddenly a flame erupts into a torch and amber light begins to bounce and reflect off stone wall to stone well, before the torch is held up to the mysterious man’s face and he finishes his sentence.

“Wood.”

“Who are you? Name yourself!” shouted Ned to the man in the hall.

“Shouldn’t my parents have done that?” he replies. The man approaches closer and closer to Lord Stark’s cell and even as his face grows clearer, Ned still can’t make out his face. This isn’t a man he’s ever laid eyes on before, and as a veteran of the seven kingdoms from King’s Landing to Winterfell to Riverrun, this is one man he’s certainly never seen before. His golden locks feathered themselves around his face and tucked behind his ears like some fair maiden. Instead of mace and boiled leather, he wore just a monk’s tunic that seemed to be covering clothes of color and style unlike anything ever seen in this part of the realms.

“I ask you again, sir or madam, what is your name and what are you doing here? What do you mean to do?”

“Lord Eddard Stark of Winterfell, true Hand of the King and a man that is about to be unjustly beheaded by a false king…. My name is Joey Gladstone and I mean to Cut. You. Out.”

That’s when Gladstone pulled out a large device with dual blades and placed it around the lock that kept Lord Stark in place.

“Ser Gladstone? Of the House of Gladstone? I can’t say I’ve ever heard of your house or family, are you allied with House Arryn?”

“Hmm, I can’t say that I am. There was a boy named Aaron that once pantsed me in the eighth grade. And from that day forth I never left home without my Howard the Duck boxers, so that way I’d always get the last laugh.” The stranger Gladstone snipped Lord Stark’s lock away and swung open the gate to set him free. He swung it back and forth as the creak of thousand-year-old steel echoed throughout the chamber halls. “They could really use some WD-40 on these old bars.”

“Quiet, you’ll awaken the guards outside!”

That’s when Gladstone swung forth a brown bag that he had been carrying around his back. “Who, those men that were out front? I wouldn’t worry about those guys anymore, I gave them a chance to leave alive and when they refused, I gave them a HEAD start.” Ser Gladstone then opened his bag and pulled out the severed head of one of the knights from out front. He held it up next to his own face and said, “Ned, meet the head!”

Gladstone used his hand to open the beheaded man’s mouth open and shut while pretending to speak his own words for him. “Hyuk, hyuk, hyuk. W’oooooah.” All Lord Stark could do at this point is look back in confusion. He couldn’t be mad at this stranger, for he had just set him free so that there may be a chance for him to get back to Catelyn, the girls, his sons, but at the same time he did not know what to make of this man.

“What is this?”

“Oh, that’s Popeye. I guess you wouldn’t really know of him yet, but you will. Then I think we’ll all have a pretty good laugh about that little impression. I’m kind of known for my impressions in my own time and dimensions.” Gladstone then gestured him to follow. “Follow the Gladdowstone Road. Just follow the Gladdowstone Road. Bup-ba-dup-ba-dup-ba-dub-bah dup-bee-ba-bup-a-dee-dah!”

Even if Lord Stark couldn’t make sense of who this was and what had been bestowed upon him by the Gods, he had little choice but to follow. His only other option was to lose his head, and how would he ever see his dear Catelyn again if not to follow this fool? And so it was that Ned walked through the gate and followed Ser Gladstone down the hallway, until seeing a light unlike any other open before him and the stranger.

“Follow me, Ned, this is the only way!”

“How do I know to trust you? How do I know you are nothing more than a bloody fool?!!”

And it was with that, the stranger Gladstone had but a single reply: “I know you are, but what am I-i-i-i-i-i-i” as he trailed off, swallowed up by the light, and seemed to just disappear. Lord Stark didn’t know what magic this was, but before the light could disappear, he jumped in behind the stranger, knowing this may be his only chance.

Ned lost consciousness, but what happened next would change his fate forever.

 “Wake up….

Wake up….

Wake up, San Francisco!”

 

(To be continued…)

The age of Tom Cruise’s female co-leads throughout his career, up to Emily Blunt (31) in new movie

April 20, 2014 § Leave a comment

I just saw the trailer for the new Tom Cruise movie, a sci-fi flick called Edge of Tomorrow. I was hoping that it was based off of the making of the theme to Saved by the Bell: The College Years but alas, Hollywood misses a great opportunity once again.

What really struck me about the trailer (it looks like a whatever movie) is noticing that the female co-lead was Emily Blunt. I think she’s a fine actress and all but it’s starting to get to the point of creepy in regards to the age difference between Cruise and his female counterparts. That is if it wasn’t already creepy ten years ago.

Even if it’s not creepy to you, it does shine a light once again on Hollywood’s constant churning of female talent through the ringer for a 2-5 year run as the “it girl” while guys like Cruise can stay on top for 30 or 40 years. How much longer Cruise’s reign will last, I don’t know, but I must admit that even in his new trailer, now almost 52 years old, dude looks younger than I do.

He’s immaculate.

He’s so good looking that we ignore Scientology for the most part.

It’s even rumored now that Cruise is dating Scientologist (not sure if confirmed or not yet) Laura Prepon, who is 18 years younger than him and was just becoming a TV star two years AFTER Cruise was in Jerry Maguire.

Good for him, I’m not hating, but it is nuts to think that over his entire career, only a few of the actress LEADS in his films managed a very long and fruitful career as above-the-title actors. One of which he married (Nicole Kidman), which doesn’t hurt (though it didn’t do much for Katie Holmes career).

What makes Cameron Diaz more special than Valeria Golino? I don’t know, maybe it really is just a talent disparity (movies like Being John Malkovich are a testamant to the fact that Diaz is more than just a pretty face, who has also shown a flair for comedic talent with There’s Something About Mary) but what’s even more glaring is the growing age gap between Cruise and his co-stars.

Top Gun 2 is in the works and while Cruise is of course set to star, I don’t think anyone is calling Kelly McGillis to reprise her role as his main squeeze. They might instead pull someone off of the Teen Wolf set instead.

Here is a brief look at Cruise’s career films, the age he was in the film, the age the female co-lead was in the film, and her age now. You’ll notice that even though Cruise keeps getting older, the ladies say (about) the same age.

McConaughey (45 in November, 10 years older than two-time screen-partner Kate Hudson) would be proud.

Endless Love (1981)

Tom Cruise age: 19 (Not the star)

Brooke Shields age: 16

Age now: 49

 

Risky Business (1983)

Tom Cruise age: 21

Rebecca De Mornay age: 24

Age now: 55

 

All the Right Moves (1983)

Cruise: 21

Lea Thompson: 20

Age now: 51

 

Top Gun (1986)

Cruise: 24

Kelly McGillis: 29

Age now: 57

 

The Color of Money (1986)

Cruise: 24

Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio age: 28

Age now: 56

 

Rain Man (1988)

Cruise: 26

Valeria Golino: 23

Age now: 49

 

Days of Thunder (1990)

Cruise: 28

Nicole Kidman: 23

Age now: 47

 

A Few Good Men (1992)

Cruise: 30

Demi Moore: 30

Age now: 52

 

The Firm (1993)

Cruise: 31

Jeanne Tripplehorn: 30

Age now: 51

 

Interview with a Vampire (1996)

Cruise: 34

Kirsten Dunst: 14

Age now: 32

 

Mission: Impossible (1996)

Cruise: 34

Emmanuelle Beart: 33

Age now: 51

 

Jerry Maguire (1996)

Cruise: 34

Renee Zellweger: 27

Age now: 45

 

Mission: Impossible II (2000)

Cruise: 38

Thandie Newton: 28

Age now: 42

 

Vanilla Sky (2001)

Cruise: 39

Cameron Diaz: 29

Penelope Cruz: 27

 

Minority Report (2002)

Cruise: 40

Samantha Morton: 25

Age now: 37

 

War of the Worlds (2005)

Cruise: 43

Miranda Otto (ex-wife in movie): 38

Dakota Fanning: 11

Age now: 20

 

Mission: Impossible III (2006)

Cruise: 44

Michelle Monaghan: 29

Age now: 37

 

Knight and Day (2010)

Cruise: 48

Diaz: 38

Age now: 42

 

Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol (2011)

Cruise: 49

Paula Patton: 36

Age now: 39

 

Rock of Ages (2012)

Cruise: 50

Julianna Hough: 24

Age now: 26

(I saw one scene of Rock of Ages and I’m certain that in it, Cruise was a rock star that was about to hook up with Hough.)

 

Jack Reacher (2012)

Cruise: 50

Rosamund Pike: 35

Age now: 37

 

Oblivion (2013)

Cruise: 51

Andrea Riseborough: 32

Age now: 33

 

Edge of Tomorrow (2014)

Cruise: 52

Emily Blunt: 31

Age now: 31!

 

(These ages were within a year. I did the quick math, not to the exact date)

 

 

Everything stupid about The Purge, part one

April 8, 2014 § 10 Comments

I went to go see The Purge in the theaters during opening weekend. It was one of the rare times over the last few years where I was actually excited enough about a movie to go see it right when it came out. All three of us thought it was going to be a really fun horror/thriller due to a good trailer and a fascinating concept:

Once a year, all bets are off. For 12 hours, you can do whatever you feel like and there won’t be any legal consequences.

Seems like exactly the type of original story from Hollywood that people beg for on a daily basis, but there was one glaring problem: The Purge is one of the stupidest fucking movies I’ve ever seen. All three of us came out of the theater half appalled and half in tears from laughter because of the sheer amount of stupidity. It seemed like it only got dumber and dumber as it went on.

Just when you thought the movie couldn’t get any stupider, it did. In that way, The Purge is worth the viewing. In another way, it’s simply one of the dumbest movies I’ve ever seen. Not quite “so bad it’s good” like The Room or Birdemic, but as far as concepts and character decisions go, it’s more outlandish and ridiculous than anything I’ve ever seen.

I tried to fit everything stupid about The Purge in one post, but I barely made it into the second act before I had filled up a really long post. Here’s the first part of what’s so stupid about this movie.

The opening title:

America. 2022.

Unemployment is at 1%.

Crime is at an all-time low.

Violence barely exists.

With one exception…

“Blessed be the New Founding Fathers for letting us Purge and cleanse our souls, Blessed be America, a nation reborn.”

Why it’s stupid:

According to the Bureau of Labor, the current unemployment rate is 6.7%. That’s down from a high of 10% in October of 2009. The lowest it has been in the last 10 years is 4.4%, as recently as May of 2007.

Isn’t it reasonable then to see our country get down to 3% unemployment… without allowing them to murder and rape and violate each other once a year?!?!

“Crime is at an all-time low… except for that thing where we’ll look the other way, even if you dismember your own children and eat their flesh. As long as it’s only on this one night! Thank God we eliminated crime though, am I right!?”

We have laws to protect us from being murdered and raped and pillaged for a reason, and I don’t know why “Having a little patience before you kill someone” is a reasonable excuse for ignoring that. I agree that The Purge had a great concept, but assuming that it would happen as a way to curb violence (and raise employment? I don’t understand the connection) is stupid.

Opening credits:

We see “Purge Feed” footage of people killing each other in the streets on March 21st of every year (this is also supposedly going to start happening within five years, you guys! Fuck, who did we elect after Obama? He sounds like a son of a bitch.) while Clair de Lune plays.

Why it’s stupid:

Beautiful classical music playing over violence is so fucking cliche. Ugh.

Also we set the scene for this happening every year on March 21st. Maybe I’m picking nits,  but why not set it for the summer? As we see later on, the kids are coming home from school that day. So on the day of the purge, we let our kids go to school, and presumably, it’s a school night! What if one of your kids misses the bus and has to walk home that day?

Oh fucking well, your son is dead!

And I think we’re burying the lede here a bit: Everybody gets to watch CCTV footage of the entire city. Is that a year-round thing or just on one night? Seems like some costly infrastructure to set in place for just 12 hours of viewing every year. I want to see the movie that takes place on a regular day, do people just watch CCTV footage of the local bar, strip club, grocery store, restaurant and jerk off? Tell me more about that!

“You’re number one sir!”

We see our lead, Ethan Hawke, and he’s driving home in his nice car, through his nice neighborhood, and quickly he establishes on a phone call that he sells home security systems for the purge. After that he calls his secretary and asks her if she’s heard the news yet.

She says, “Yep, you’re number one. You came out on top.”

Why it’s stupid:

This is supposedly one of the biggest moments of his career and he found out after the work day was over, on a phone call with his secretary. Why wouldn’t his boss tell him during the day, in a meeting, with a big celebration and a gold watch or some bullshit? This is how he finds out?

AND WHY ON THE DAY OF THE PURGE?!?!

“Great news everyone, we did it. Go out and celebrate! Hope you don’t die though, seriously.”

Talk radio:

Hawke then turns on talk radio and it’s your average DJ taking calls from around the country to find out how people will spend their purge. There’s even more pounding home of how people love their security system. A guy talking about how he’s going to kill his boss.

Then he pulls up next to a neighbor and is like “Yeah, you do your system check like I recommended?”

and the dude is like “Yup, it works great” (remember this stuff for later)

And he’s like “Great, I have the same one. Only the best, my dude!”

Why it’s stupid:

This is what I’m talking about with the whole concept of the purge not working. This guy is like “Yeah, I’m gonna hunt down my boss and kill him.” Would anyone blame him for that? No. And yet the opening title sequence says, “Unemployment is at 1%.” What it should say is “Unemployment is at 1% and bosses being murdered is at 43% so that’s why we keep having to hire new people.”

The concept of the movie is that people need to release all their tension of not being able to murder people by being able to murder people one night a year. It also assumes that everyone is going to murder a stranger.

It’s pretty common knowledge that you’re much more likely to be killed by someone you know than by a stranger. “Hey fuck you, dad! I hate you, mom! Okay, now lock us inside the house together so that nobody will come kill us.”

Also, what are the insurance laws about murder on the purge? Can you kill your wife and collect the insurance money? I’m imagining that on purge night, people just kill their spouses in record numbers.

But thank god you bought that security system from Ethan Hawke!

(By the way, I honestly don’t think that very many people have bloodlust. I fear what the writer of this movie thinks about the rest of us. Or what he secretly wants to do to us.)

The odds of being murdered are very, very, ridiculously low. It was recently ranked as the 16th-leading cause of death in the U.S., and just 1% of deaths a year ago were a result of murder. Out of those, only 30% were the result of an attempted felony, like robbery.

If the number was more like, 15%, then maybe I could see a need for a night of death and destruction. But we’re honestly putting EVERYBODY at risk, to appease like 30,000 people that really wish they could kill someone and get away with it.

Yeah, that makes so much fucking sense. GOD THIS MOVIE IS SO STUPID.

DID I MENTION THEY MADE A SEQUEL?

“Release the Beast”

The tag line for The Purge, the day not the movie, is “Release the Beast.” People keep saying it to each other and on the radio.

Why it’s stupid:

God, that’s so fucking stupid.

“We got an hour before commencement.”

There are 62 minutes until the start of The Annual Purge and Hawke gets home and kisses his wife Lena Headley, who is just making dinner all la-dee-frickin-da and having a great, wonderful day.

Why it’s stupid:

This is like the fifth or sixth year of the purge, you know, that night where you can rape and murder people and do whatever the fuck you want, and this family is acting like it’s just another day. Like it’s the fourth of fucking July.

How could you possibly be used to the purge already? THIS ISN’T A FUCKING JOKE, YOU COULD BE MURDERED TONIGHT.

This scientist:

Lena Headley then sees her attention turn to the TV of this scientist talking about why the purge is necessary to “contain societal violence.”

Screen Shot 2014-04-08 at 12.46.48 PM

Why it’s stupid:

Oh, five seconds ago you were acting like the purge was no big deal and now you’re interested in what this scientist has to say about it?

Also, fuck this scientist.

Purges: How do they work?!

Lena also tells Ethan that their daughter Zoe has been a real bitch all day and he needs to take care of this “Henry situation.” Really? Hasn’t she been at school all day? As we’ll see in a second, she’s also in her room with Henry, so how much have you actually seen her today? For like, two seconds before she ran up to her room to fuck her boyfriend?

“Let’s growl”

We see Zoe and Henry kissing up in her room and I’m pretty sure he’s about to fingerblast her when she says, “I love you.”

Then Henry says, “Let’s growl”

Screen Shot 2014-04-08 at 12.50.22 PM

Why it’s stupid:

Henry suggests that instead of saying “I love you” like everyone else, they should growl at each other.

I seriously want to jump off of a bridge.

“You have to get home before lockdown”

Zoe tells her stupid boyfriend (If Ethan Hawke doesn’t kill this growling moron, I will. This is the only reason for a purge; to kill douchebags like this one. “Let’s Growl”!? Holy fucking shit.) that he has to get home before lockdown. Which must be like 50 minutes away by now.

And he’s like “Aww man.”

Why it’s stupid:

Seriously, how can Ethan sell all these home security systems when it seems like nobody is actually all that concerned about the one night a year where I’m legally allowed to do whatever I want to you and your entire family?

Not that I have the bloodlust, but apparently some people do!

Get your ass home and be with your family, and hope they don’t kill you, you fucking idiot. “Let’s growl” fuck you!

“Let me sharpen my machete here in the backyard”

As Henry is leaving, we see Zoe’s neighbor sharpening his machete in his backyard.

Why it’s stupid:

Even if it’s legally allowed, doesn’t anyone in this purge universe have any moral obligations to themselves and everyone else? Or am I the only one that doesn’t want America to turn into the Tutsis and the Hutus?

“Oh, hey Mr. Smith! Nice looking machete! Whatcha gonna do with it?”

“This little thing? Gonna chop off my wife’s arms and legs tonight while I have the chance!”

“Okay great! Good luck! I totally don’t think you’re a creepy weirdo, since it’s the night of the purge and all.”

“That makes total sense.”

“Agreed. Total sense.”

My goodness. So stupid.

“I made you some fucking cookies, I don’t hate you at all, look at how much I’m smiling, this isn’t weird!”

So then the neighbor-lady Grace comes by bearing cookies as gifts for Lena Headley. Seriously it’s 30 minutes to the purge, get in your fucking houses.

Then this other dude and his wife drive by and they are all smiles too. Seriously, everyone in this movie is so damn “happy.” “Those cookies are crazy-good” says the guy driving the car.

Then Lena grabs the cookies but the bitch Grace won’t let them go. (Hmm, what’s that about?!) and they start walking up to the house. Grace is like “Oh wow, the new addition to your house is sick as fuck. You guys had a really good year, much better than the rest of us. Your husband sold a security system to everyone in this community. Some people think we basically paid for the addition to your home. We bought this shit and what did you do for us? Just gave us the security systems we asked for.”

Then she literally does say to Lena, “You’re too sensitive.” because she got offended by the fact that all the neighbors hate them for selling them shit. What a bitch.

Why it’s stupid:

Beyond the fact that the movie is now giving us all this seemingly-needless exposition (spoiler alert: why the fuck would they keep bringing up the money, the success of the family, the security systems, the cookie plate she won’t let go of, the false niceness, if it wasn’t coming back for an even more pointless “surprise” later on?) it’s also just really fucking stupid.

“You’re a real sensitive piece of shit. All I said was that the whole neighborhood hates you for selling us stuff. We’d have more money if we hadn’t bought stuff, and you’d have less money if we hadn’t bought stuff from you. Bitch.”

Charlie

So Lena and Ethan also have a really stupid-looking son named Charlie. He creeps up behind his mom trying to look up her dress with this creepy looking doll on wheels. It’s like a Roomba for Charlie Manson.

Screen Shot 2014-04-08 at 1.11.01 PM

He’s controlling it from a hidden little cubbyhole in his closet. I’m sure this won’t come back again later.

Why it’s stupid:

Who wouldn’t worry about their son if he took a doll, burned half of it off, added a red LED light to it’s eye, put it on wheels, added a spycam to it, and drove it around the house sneaking up on his mom and seeing what she’s up to?

At least Lena Headley is used to “family fun” from her days on the Game of Thrones set.

“It’s stupid”

Ethan and his family are sitting around the table and says, “Okay, everybody tell me about your day.” and then Charlie has some sort of heart condition and says “It’s nothing to worry about” but has to check his vitals or some shit.

Then Ethan is like “Okay Zoe, tell me about your fucking day.” and she says “I don’t want to do this anymore. It’s stupid.”

Why it’s stupid:

Finally, somebody says something in this movie that is fucking reasonable. I like to think that the actress playing Zoe was actually looking at the director when she said that. It wasn’t a line in the script. She was just speaking openly and honestly:

“I don’t want to do this anymore. It’s stupid.”

Also, Lena says that there are “no carbs” in their dinner that night (This is exposition that I actually think we DON’T need) but I’m 99% sure that the only food I definitely see is carrots.

Carrots have carbs, honey.

“I did it.”

But Ethan Hawke actually just wants to tell the family HIS news.

“I did it. I did it. All sales are final, and I’m on top. My division sold the most upgraded security systems.”

He’s so fucking excited. Like, it’s the best thing that has ever happened to him. And the result is… “Way to go, hon.” “Good job, dad.” and that’s it. Even Ethan is like, “Okay, what’s next.”

Why it’s stupid:

It reminds me of the scene in Birdemic where Rod makes a sale for a million dollars (with a 50% discount) and is like “Yes. Sweet. I did it.”

The Purge is, on many levels, as stupid or dumber than Birdemic.

The Ferrins are having a party

Grace’s family is having a party on the night of the purge. It seems like people can go in and out.

Why it’s stupid:

…..

…..

…..

…..

THE FERRINS ARE THROWING A FUCKING PARTY! ON THE NIGHT OF THE PURGE! BECAUSE WHAT A FUN FUCKING NIGHT TO PARTY AND HAVE ALL YOUR GUESTS OVER AND GO NUTS! WOOOO! PARTAY!!!!!

Lockdown!

Finally, it’s time to lockdown. Honestly, it seems like a lot happened in that “62 minutes until Annual Purge” but whatever. Ethan and his family look over the neighborhood with their many, many security cams (but hmmm… could they have still overlooked something? He’s only THE SECURITY GUY.) and they lock shit down and he gets his gun.

Also, this is a gun that Ethan Hawke owns.

Screen Shot 2014-04-08 at 1.25.06 PM

Jesus, man.

And I’d also note that this is the year 2022, but really all of the technology seems in line with what we had in 2013. They lock shit down with iPads, basically. Man, we really stopped trying after Steve Jobs died.

Why it’s stupid:

Because this whole movie is stupid. I’m exhausted. I’m only 15 minutes into the movie but I’ve been writing for two hours.

What a stupid, piece of shit movie.

“Police, fire and emergency medical services will be unavailable until tomorrow morning at 7 am, when the Purge conclues.”

That’s a message, word-for-word, on the TV screen at the start of the purge.

Why it’s stupid:

I have a couple of questions. First of all, what’s going on with time zones? Did we eliminate them? 7 am ET? Is it a rolling purge, like New Years? Can I start in New York then if I still feel like killing more people, start heading west? How does this make any sense? Is school and work cancelled for the next day? What if I have to go to work at 5 am? WHAT THE FUCK IS THE POINT OF ANY OF THIS?

Second of all, YOU’RE TURNING OFF 911 and ALL MEDICAL, FIRE SERVICES? I understand police, I guess, but what if my grandpappy has a heart attack?! It’s 12 whole hours, how many thousands of people will die of accidents and other shit that they didn’t deserve? I guess you’re just absolutely FUCKED if anything happens to you during the 12 hours of purge, even if it’s not due to the purge.

Jesus. JESUS. WHAT THE SHIT!? WHAT THE JESUS?!!!!!!! GOD DAMN THIS MOVIE.

I am only 17 minutes into the movie and quickly approaching 3,000 words. I need to take a break. We’ll see if I can even bother to continue this, but look at how much stupid we already have… and Oh God, the ending is the stupidest part.

 

 

What I’ve learned after doing one week of open mic comedy

March 17, 2014 § 4 Comments

I’ve written a bunch of posts here on my blog that are presently in draft mode. The reason that they haven’t been published is because I think they’re all terrible and haven’t felt like posting terrible stuff (even though that never seemed to stop me before.)

(Ooh, there’s that self-deprecating humor that you’ve missed so much!)

I also just haven’t had as much time to write for myself lately and that’s probably a good thing. In addition to my 40-hour-a-week full-time job, that I’ve been mostly-displeased with lately, and my 20-40-hour-a-week job as a sports blogger, I’ve also taken up a third “job” as of the last week: Stand-up comedy. After years of speculation and curiosity, I finally got the nerve to go to an open mic and see what it’s all about. I had spent years using the excuse that I needed someone else to motivate me to go do an open mic, to have a partner-in-crime, but it was finally time to come to terms with the fact that none of my friends were going to do it. With little else to lose at this point in my life, I looked up some places where open mics were happening around Los Angeles and drove 45 minutes to a dive bar last Sunday night.

Though I was very nervous at first, as I usually get when going to a place where I won’t know anybody, and having the typical “I should just turn around and go home” when I first see the joint, it didn’t turn out to be that bad at all. I sat around for two and a half hours (okay, that part sucks) and what I saw was… a lot of bad comedy. Some good comedy of course, but mostly bad. Mostly just people getting up there and getting zero-to-little reaction from the crowd. That’s when I realized that absolutely nothing mattered and absolutely nobody was really judging you; they just want their five minutes. I might as well be doing comedy for a room full of cats, except only like three cats, and maybe cats might actually be somewhat interested in what you have to say.

I did my five minutes and got one good laugh from a guy in the back. That’s more than I even needed.

In the last week, I’ve done five open mics. There’s been a lot of waiting (I’d say that I’ve waited about eight hours to do 20 minutes on stage) and a lot of learning. If you’ve never done an open mic before and your curious about what it’s like, as I was for years before finally just doing it, here’s what I’ve learned so far:

- Most people are bad at stand-up comedy. This isn’t an indictment on the dozens of amateur comedians I’ve seen so far, it’s just a matter of the fact that we misunderstand what it takes to become a successful comedian. Whoever your favorite stand-up comic is, they were doing comedy 7, 10, maybe 15 years before the first time that you saw them. Everybody assumes that Louis CK and George Carlin and Richard Pryor just got on a stage one day and immediately rose to the top, but that’s just not how it works. Some people are naturally the types that should try stand-up comedy, and some people aren’t. That’s a definite fact. But that only means that they should start honing that craft over many hours of practice. Eddie Murphy seems like the type that had success at a young age, and he did, but he also started getting together comedy routines when he was 15-years-old, possibly younger.

People don’t give stand-up comedy the same credit that they give other professions, but it’s really not any different. You wouldn’t give your car to a mechanic that just seemed “naturally awesome at fixing cars” but had never looked under a hood before. Most people at open mics are bad not because they aren’t funny, but because they’re looking under the hood for the first time. As far as I’m concerned, the people in this business that are successful aren’t the funny ones. A lot of people are funny. It’s the hardest working ones…

- If I’m going to create a career in the comedy field in any respect (I’m more interested in writing than actually doing stand-up, but I need to get into this space somehow) it’ll be because I out-worked you, not because I out-joked you.

On my second night of stand-up comedy, I met a guy who happened to go to the same college as I went to. (It’s a really insane coincidence because we went to a school very far away from Los Angeles.) He first did an open mic six months ago and he said he’s done… six of them. As I said before, I did five in the first week. My impatience has always been a burden to me and probably those around me, but it’s also what’s driven me to get places faster than the next guy. I always feel like every moment that I go without getting closer to my goal is another moment where I’ve drifted further away.

I honestly hope that’s the last time that I do five open mics in a week. I need to do a minimum of seven and probably more like 10-12 depending on how long it takes me to get a good schedule down. If you do one open mic per week, that’s 3-6 minutes per week that you’ve spent honing your craft. If you do 10 open mics in a week, that’s up to an hour that you’ve spent on it. If you think about it, it’s probably one of the toughest jobs to fine tune due to the fact that there’s a limited amount of space with which to practice. Though joke writing can be done whenever, that’s not the most difficult part of doing stand-up comedy.

Not for me at least.

- Getting comfortable on stage takes time and creates a lot more problems than you may expect.

I’ve always felt that I was naturally comfortable in front of large groups of people. When I was in high school, I did a freestyle rap in front of my entire class in order to win the electoral vote for Vice President. I do karaoke on the regs. But this is a completely different beast, especially when you’re trying to remember to do a number of different things at once.

Do you remember your routine? I always think that I do, and if I just sat here and read it to you it would probably take an hour to do so, but then I still somehow manage to come up short of things to say when I still have over a minute to go.

Are you able to get out your words properly and coherently? It’s not that easy.

Can you keep your composure with six people staring at you deadpan and not making a move or a sound when you deliver the punchline that you SWORE was gonna kill?

What do I do with my hands?

The only way to get comfortable on stage is to be on stage. The only way to be on stage is to hit up as many open mics as possible, and in Los Angeles there’s no excuse for not being there. Trust me, I’ve tried to come up with so many good excuses over the past week, and none of them pass the smell test.

- Make friends or at least be friendly. You’re not going to get along with everybody on the open mic circuit but you’re also not going to make friends with everybody at a Phish concert. It’s certainly a competitive field but I don’t see the other comics as my competition. The only competition you have is yourself and the only thing about it that I know for a fact is that the “Me tomorrow” needs to be funnier and better on stage than the “Me today.” (Thanks, McConaughey.)

That’s it.

Over the last week, I’ve met a bunch of really cool, really helpful people. I’ve met people that were on their first day like me, and I’ve met people that have been doing it for 1, 3, 6, or 8+ years. I’m sure it won’t be long before I meet people that have been doing it for even much longer than that. Not a single person that I’ve talked to hasn’t given me advice that they felt (I assume) would help me get further along in this business, as long as I’m willing to put in the work. There will probably be days (often) that make it seem obvious that quitting is a lot easier than moving forward in a business with so few rewards in the first five years, but if I fail, I fail. I just know I won’t fail today. And having confidants to pick you up and express encouragement, will definitely be a big reason why I won’t.

- Doing comedy for money is a job that you won’t get unless doing comedy for free is something you treat like a job.

I wrote for over a decade before I got paid to do it. Nobody was going to pay me to do it unless I proved that I actually could. That took many years of practice, despite what my many friends have said to me about how they “can totally write too, I should start a blog and immediately be paid for it!” There are countless infuriating posts on Kickstarter of people that want YOUR money so that THEY can write and publish their shitty book, make their shitty documentary, or finance their shitty invention. I’m not talking about a Veronica Mars Kickstarter where the money is going to dozens or professionals that have experience in this field, I’m talking about lazy 22-year-olds that think you should give them $10,000 to backpack around Europe and document it. Yes, that really happens. Another person wanted $8000 so that he could watch the entire Imdb Top 250.

WHAT?!

You can’t just talk about doing it, you just have to do it. You can’t ask for handouts because there’s something to be learned from going through “the struggle.” When Jay Leno started doing comedy in Hollywood, he moved out to LA from Boston in 1972. He had $50. He left his apartment in Boston and told his neighbors that the door was unlocked and to take what you wanted. He slept on the streets outside of The Comedy Store until he could get paying gigs and he refused to take any other job besides being a stand-up comic. He was even arrested twice for vagrancy because he so vehemently refused to do anything besides comedy. I honestly don’t think I have that much dedication, but I’m going to give it as much as I got.

Just because you aren’t being paid for it, doesn’t mean it’s not a job.

- Finally, I don’t know shit about what it takes to be a stand-up comic. As Barenaked Ladies (and my favorite comedian, Scott Aukerman) once said, It’s been one week since I started. I’d like to think that I know a bunch but in reality I only know one week’s worth of information on stand-up comedy and there’s still so much to learn.

And I’m very excited to find out what that is.

Face Off (1997) review: We are all two people once

January 18, 2014 § 3 Comments

Almost 40 years ago to the day, there was a book published called The Inner Game of Tennis. I don’t know the ins and outs of legality and copyright infringement on a book that I’m sure few people are picking up new copies of, but you can read the whole thing online for free. That’s one of the nice things about not actively seeking books to read until you’re in your thirties.

Most of the good ones are just out there to be had and won’t cost you a dime over your regular monthly costs of having the internet.

Now to be honest with you, I haven’t read the entire thing. As with most things that are written, I mostly just started it and I hope to finish it one day. I can tell you however that it didn’t take long to get the gist, and it was easy to understand why Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll considers this book to be one of his greatest inspirations, despite being about a completely different sport. In fact, the book has little to do with sports at all.

The author Timothy Gallway was on the Harvard tennis team and then went on to be one of those club pros that teaches rich moms, dads and their kids how to “play” tennis. After awhile, Gallway started to get bored of simply allowing his clients to fail — as you can imagine most of them would — and began to look for ways to actually improve a person’s game. And it wasn’t about strategy, it wasn’t about stamina, it wasn’t even about technique, but instead he started trying to think about how the mind reacts to commands and then how to make the body best follow through with those commands. 

See that?

Mind + Body. Two separate entities in the same ‘parental’ unit, i.e. You.

Think about a time when you’ve tried to do something right that you were new at or not very good at. Take bowling for example. I am one of the worst bowlers you will ever meet. I know that a lot of people say stuff like that, but the reason that I know I am one of the worst bowlers is because naturally everybody bowls in groups. Nobody bowls by themselves except for actual bowlers — it’s not like playing video games or shooting hoops. 

If you went to the bowling alley on your own, rented shoes on your own, bought a lane on your own, stood next to actual groups of people playing in groups as friends and family on your own, then you’re either a bowler, want to be a bowler, or an alien trying to fit in with humankind as best you could calculate. But you miscalculated somewhere from the Degobah System to Albuquerque. 

Because people bowl in groups, I’ve been able to judge my skill against the skill of every group I’ve ever bowled in, and in every group I’ve ever bowled with I’ve finished in last place. Dead last. I’ve never hit 100. Not once. Not “one lucky night,” not one night of cheating with the bumpers, never. 

I am one of the worst bowlers you will ever meet. But it’s not like I’m not trying!

Every single time I bowl, I pick up my ball and slide my fingers in nice and gentle. I feel the weight of the ball in my hand and I stare at it while I rub my right hand (I’m a lefty) on the outer crust of the ball. I caress it. I hook it like a Longhorn in my left hand while I start to take the steps up to the front of the lane, while aligning myself on the little white pyramids that point me towards the Glory Land: 

Those 10 little pins, just begging to be put down so they can go for a ride and do it all over again.

I stand to the right so that my left arm lines up better with the target, which is that cocky little sumbitch that stands in front of the rest of the pins like he’s Cmdr. General Bowlinpin. I have no idea if I’m standing in the right place, as I have had no formal training except for 25 viewings of Kingpin. (Which is better than learning from 25 viewings of There Will Be Blood, otherwise I’d be killin’ Paul Dano over and over again. Spoiler alert?) 

(You deserve to have TWBB spoiled. That was like seven years ago.)

Now that I’ve ritualized every precise moment in the dance, that’s when everything goes wrong. 

I start a little stutter step towards the lane while I begin my arm’s descent. *Okay fingers, put your seats in the upright position and your tray tables back up, hopefully this will be a smooth landing* That’s when I begin to make the most fatal error that anyone with my skill level can make. 

I start to think about it. 

I think about how hard I’m going to throw the ball when it’s finally time to let go.

I think about the direction of the ball and the placement of my hand when it’s finally time to let go.

I think about when it should be time to finally let go.

I think about not thinking about it.

I finally do let go and it’s like…. It’s like if I told you to down down from 3 and slapped you in the face halfway between saying ‘3’ and ‘2.’ That’s usually how bowling goes for me because you release and sometimes you’ll know instantly that it’s going in the gutter and sometimes it just instantly goes in the gutter. For me at least. 

When I’m talking to myself about everything that needs to go right, that’s when everything goes wrong. When I’m just about to give up, it’s almost like a Michael Corleone moment. JUST WHEN I THOUGHT I WAS OUT, THEY PULL ME BACK IN!

If I’m a horrible bowler, I’m a worse golfer. I’ve played golf — with a serious intent to do good — about 10 times. At most. Less than 200 total holes, probably way less. But I remember with perfect precision, detail, and vividness, the best three shots I ever hit off the tee. And on every single one of them, I had completely released myself from “doing good.” 

The best shot I ever hit was two years ago on a public course here in Los Angeles. I walked up to the tee, probably the 11th or 12th of the day, so I had already known I was about +5 on every hole up to that point, and I still had a cigarette in my mouth. I didn’t care anymore. It was a par 3 and I had that cig in my mouth, and while my three buddies were jibberin’ and jabberin’, I just swung.

“Fuck it.”

The ball came within a foot of a hole-in-one. 

Can you imagine how dismayed my friends would have been if me, the worst golfer that they have probably ever met, had gotten a hole-in-one in his career before any of them had? Even on a shitty par 3 that was probably 150 yards (or whatever they measure in. see how much I’m paying attention?) that’s a big deal. All I had to do was stop caring about it.

So what did I do on the next hole? I thought really super hard about how I’m not going to think hard about it and I fail, of course. Because learning how to unteach yourself to teach yourself so constantly in the moment, takes years and years of practice. Anyone can do it once by cosmic chance but to actually lose yourself — an actual athlete like Michael Jordan may refer to it as “the zone” — on purpose, is something special. I may not get in “the zone” as an athlete much, but I probably have areas where I’m comfortable enough to do that. Just not in sports.

There are other areas where I can probably start to bind the mind and the body together so that they’re not just talking to each other, but working together in perfect silence. We all have that. When we can just get our second self to shutup for awhile. 

I think about my “second self” a lot lately, but in a different way. I think about things I’ve done in the past, embarrassing things, things that I would never actively want to do again, though I know I’ve done it at least once before. I wonder to myself, “Who is that?” 

That’s you.

“Why did I do that?”

I literally do not know, but you did.

“Can I not do it in the future?”

Of course.

“But will I not do it in the future?”

I can’t answer that.

“But you’re me!”

Well, you’re you too. 

“Like your favorite band.”

You could not resist.

“You know me. I love puns and wordplay.”

That’s one thing, my friend, that we can both agree on.

*self-effacing high-five*

(or maybe even *self-facing high-five*?)

Everybody should be at least two people, all of the time. Not in a schizophrenic way, not in a psychotic way, but just in the way that we constantly need someone to check ourselves. Or in the case of zooming your zoomzoomzoom, to wreck ourselves. I’m not just talking about conscience, I’m not talking about the angel and the devil on either shoulder, and I’m not just saying the person that you talk to when you’re bowling. 

Maybe more like Marty McFly when he goes back to back to 1955 and sees himself the first time he went back to 1955. The times that we have to face the choices that we made and reconciling with yourself that you were the person in your memory playback, but are you the person in the memory playback? 

Did you actively seek ways to change or do you need to change at all? You’re always two people at once, but you’re also always one person that one time.

Face/Off was a movie that was released in 1997 starring Nic Cage and John Travolta. They switch faces to kick off the second act, and apparently the FBI has first crack at science and technology that is still not available (that we know of) 17 years later. It makes less sense than most movies I’ve ever seen. Not just movies though, but ‘things’ in general. It’s nonsense.

I give it 4/4 Nic Cage’s

 

This is a movie blog now

January 8, 2014 § 5 Comments

It’s been awhile since I have written on KennethAuthor.com, the blog that I started awhile ago to talk about anything I wanted and am currently paying to own the domain name rights to. (Back off other authors named Kenneth that give a heck!)

I don’t want to say it’s because I didn’t have enough time. I have the same amount of time, really, as I did a year ago.

I don’t want to say it’s because anything terrible happened in my life. It’s the same amount of terrible as it’s always been.

I guess my absence just sort of happened, and like taking “just one day off from the gym” or “eating just one chip,” a little turned into a lot and so a few weeks after my last post, I return. Sort of. I have returned to say that I’m returning, though I don’t know how often the posts will be up. They’ll either be a lot, or a little, or somewhere in between. But the other thing is that rather than have a place to write about “whatever I feel like that day” I’ve decided (again. I’ve done this before.) to narrow the topic down to one thing.

Flims.

No, wait. Damn it! Films! Movies! Moving pictures! Hollyweird, California, you see!

I like movies and I want to spend more time delving into them in the same way that I get to write about and delve into football and the Seahawks. Yesterday, I created a big spreadsheet containing information on every Nicolas Cage movie. What am I going to do with this spreadsheet? I don’t know yet, but I never gather information with a specific goal in mind. I just gather it because I “need” it, and who doesn’t need more info on Nicolas Cage?

Who doesn’t NEED more INFORMATION(!!!) about the great and almighty NICOLAS “FUCKING” CAGE WOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!

My first thought is that I’m going to watch everything Nic Cage has ever done as an experiment. To prove something? No. To gain something? Almost certainly not. But just because I can.

Where do you start with Nic Cage? From the beginning, with his short appearance in Fast Times at Ridgemont High or perhaps Valley Girl? Maybe during his action trilogy that shot him into the stratosphere, starting with The Rock? His Oscar-winning performance in Leaving Las Vegas or maybe his Oscar-winning performance in Trespass. (That’s an incredibly funny joke that I have to explain with this parenthetical because most people have never heard of Trespass, the movie that made 16-THOUSAND dollars at the box office.)

I actually think that one of the key moments of Cage’s career came in 1995’s Kiss of Death co-starring David Caruso, which happened to come out just before Leaving Las Vegas, and was Cage’s first big flop. It’s an interesting point in his career that could have gone either way, but luckily for him, things worked out.

For awhile.

But I think I might start with Zandalee (1991) because it’s a movie that very few people have ever heard of or seen (straight-to-video) despite having quite an all-star cast. Despite the cast, it appears to just be an awful and terrible film… that is available in it’s entirety on YouTube! 

If you want to watch it in prep for an article or podcast about the movie, then just go to that link. Until then, I’ll see you next time here at KennethAuthor: A (nicolas cage?) Movie Blog!

 

Preparing for the 10 best years

October 11, 2013 § 7 Comments

When I was a kid, I always used to come up with something that my next birthday represented. This can probably go back as far as when I was 9-years-old, but maybe it goes even deeper. My memory of childhood isn’t so good (if that’s because of repressed memories, please never let them unpress) but this action I took on my birthday’s is something I often think about.

When I turned 9, that was the last year of being in single-digits.

When I turned 10, that was my first year of being in double-digits. (And if I was a little genius kid, I probably would’ve said something about binary code but to be fair, the internet was not even around yet for the public.)

When I turned 11, that was identical-consecutive-numbers.

When I turned 12, that was proper-numerical-order-numbers.

Of course 13 is a big one, because that’s the first time you are a teenager. And then you are classified quite succinctly as being “a teen” and all that it implies, for the next seven years of your life. When you turn 13, you really become a classification of your age, you’ve truly entered “decade assignment” and from now on you might have tasks to perform before your next decade, goals to reach or otherwise be considered a failure.

I don’t know how many of those goals that I properly hit as a teenager. I didn’t have my first girlfriend. I can’t believe I’m even going to admit this, but I didn’t even have my first kiss as a teenager. I got drunk for the first time. Smoked a bit of weed and didn’t care for it because I got way too high. (I’ll never understand this apparent notion that you don’t get high your first time; I thought I was getting high for the first time and also dying for the first time at the same time.) On that note, I didn’t care for the first time I got drunk, aided by my sister’s boyfriend-at-the-time and a bottle of whiskey. Why would anyone start a young kid on whiskey, if not only because that dude turned out to be a giant asshole.

I did the normal things. I got my driver’s license, turned 18 and bought cigarettes and dirty magazines, graduated high school, got into some trouble, went off to college, and before you know it I’m in my twenties.

The funny thing about turning 20 in this country is that it’s the most anticlimactic of all the decade change-overs. Nobody spends their adolescence waiting to be a 20-year-old. Turning 20 is only another roadblock in front of the true goal: Turning 21.

I really wasn’t even much of a drinker when I turned 21. I wasn’t much of a rabble-rouser as a teenager, I didn’t do drugs or get drunk except for on sporadic occasions, and when I turned 21 I went over to my friends apartment with one of those mini-kegs of Heineken that my mom had given me as a gift, and maybe drank half of it. I wasn’t even drunk; that didn’t become an interest of mine until literally the next semester at college, when I made a new group of friends and now had full access to the bars. Now I consider it to be one of my favorite hobbies!

What are the goals of a person in their 20s these days? It used to be that by the time you were 25 you better have a career, a spouse, a bun in the oven, and a house for your spouse with an oven and some lovin’. Start preparing for your retirement 40 years before it’s due. My understanding is that you’re supposed to hire an accountant named Ira so that he can help you save up 401,000 dollars by the time you are 65.

Those goals don’t seem to apply to the 20s anymore. Now your goals are to not have goals, to travel, to date a lot, to use protection to avoid putting any buns in any ovens, entering the housing market is a terrible idea, and “most people really don’t even have their careers figured out until they’re 40 so don’t worry about it!” This current generation of 20-somethings is now sort of the “eh, it’ll work itself out!” generation. It’s the generation that puts the drinking bird toy by the keyboard so that it keeps hitting the proper button to keep Springfield from having a nuclear meltdown and goes out to watch Naked Lunch. Your twenties is literally the time between being a teenager and being a 30-something, and that is literally how people in their twenties interpret that time in their lives.

“We don’t want to leave behind the time in our lives where nobody held us responsible for anything but we also want to be treated like adults!”

By the time I had hit 27 I was already itching to get into my thirties. Don’t get me wrong, I also don’t want to be held responsible for anything, but I’m also fine with surrounding myself with people that don’t expect me to be an adult. When I’m at a business place — like work — I consider myself to be more of a “three kids in a huge trench coat” that walks around pretending to be an adult.

“Business! Reports! Filing things! Print!”

I turn 31 in December and I’m already starting to think about what it all means. What the clock on my life is doing. When will I be “too old” to do certain things? I don’t really worry about things like “playing video games for an entire weekend” or “eating a Lunchable for mid-morning snack” because those are timeless, but there are plenty of other bigger life decisions to consider.

When will I be “too old” to date a girl that’s 26?

When will I be “too old” to have a kid?

When will I be “too old” to quit my job and travel Europe?

When will I be “too old” to consider myself “too legit to quit”?

I look at myself as someone in my early-30s and I think to myself, this could be your last chance to not be “too old” to do anything you want to do. Nobody has ever told me it’s a bad idea for me to quit my job and risk being poor, because I don’t have anyone to support. The age difference from 31 to mid-20’s isn’t bad at all, and if the opportunity to date anyone arises, I’ll let you know.

And there are going to be plenty of grampas that “Do the Hammer” in about 30 years, so don’t you worry about that last one.

But I start to look at other people now, older people, and start to consider what I’ll look like when I get there. I start to wonder “How am I going to look when I’m 45?” or “How will I come off to younger people when I’m 50?” I don’t want to be a creep but at the same time, I don’t want to be an old fogie that doesn’t know how to boogie. (May have just nailed my own coffin there.)

I sometimes go to a bar near my apartment and it’s one of those “locals hangouts” with the same 15 people every night (and about 5000x less charming than Cheers) and I see this group of old men hitting on young women and I think “Oh God no. Not me. Never” and it freaks me out to think about becoming one of those dudes if I don’t either settle down before I’m 40 or develop an anti-aging potion-slash-lotion.

(And really, if I develop that point/lotion, I’ll be so rich that none of the rest of it really matters, so yes, I’m working quite hard on that too.)

So I look at myself now, and I look ahead, and I think:

This is it. This will be the best 10 years of my life. My first 10 years were so stupid that I barely remember them! The next 10 years seemed to have me missing a lot of what you’re supposed to experience when you’re a teenager and I tend to look back on that with embarrassment and regret. The next 10 years were all well and good, but they are gone now and you can’t dwell on that. The next 10 after my 30s will be the first time that I really start to resemble “the dad” of pretty much everyone I knew in school. When you’re 40, you’re perfectly capable of having a kid that’s going off to college. That might not be as normal these days, to have a kid when you’re 19 or 20, but it’s not extremely abnormal either.

I’m not only not ready to be an actual father, I am equally unready to look like a father.

(I picture Maury Povich yelling at me: “Ken, you are NOT the father….  Buuttt.. you could be. You look the part. Technically, you’re not, but I would not have all been surprised if you were the father of this 15-year-old.”)

There’s no choice now but to enjoy it. I’ve lived nearly the first full year of being in my 30s and it’s not like each year is going to be better than the last. At some point you peak, at every point you are one second further from a person that is 26-years-old. And then one day, you’re 40.

(At which point, I’ll bargain that that is the best 10 years.)

 

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