November 26, 2014

Thankfully, I'm Not Manly In That Classic Sense of the Word


A few years back, my father's associate, Barney Rickshaw, persuaded him to go down to the boondocks of Argentina to go hunt doves. That's right, doves: the birds of peace.
            At first it was hard for me to swallow. My dad—whose knowledge of shotguns was reserved for golf tournaments—was no killer. I laughed at the prospect of him doing anything so rugged. So manly. I figured it was probably just a good business move, as Rickshaw was one of Dad's best America-fleecing clients.
            Surprisingly, my dad came back from the trip a bon-a-fide killer. Apparently, Argentina for dove season is unlike hunting anywhere else in the world. As the birds fly to and from their roost, they fill up the sky, turning day into night. There are no regulations as to how many birds you can shoot or how many shells you can load. So for those two hours, it's a hunter's paradise—a veritable dove genocide.
My dad showed me a picture of him and Rickshaw, guns in hand, behind a wall of dead doves. It was appalling, from a PETA standpoint. Yet I somehow also felt a tinge of pride. Who knew one of my own could be so … so manly?
To my further surprise, a few weeks later, Dad bought a shotgun. And just like that, we were different; we were gun owners. It felt rebellious. Out of control. And completely out of character.
See, we are not the handy, able, manly, gun-toting type. We don't even know how a gun works. Or a bike. Or a wrench. We don't know how to pitch a tent or build a fire. The only knots we know are for neckties. 
Neither my grandfather nor his building's superintendent could bestow such manly secrets upon Dad. So he could never pass such vital knowledge down my way.
I think that's always upset Dad just a little bit—that other than being a fantastic provider, he hasn't been able to show his kids how to be very manly. Because of this deficiency, my dad's been trying since I was a kid to cast off our hereditary injustice.
His first attempt at defying nature was to move the family from the suburbs of Chicago to the wild mid-west of Denver, Colorado. Unfortunately, we didn't fit in.
In Colorado, men are men of the world. Men who sleep outdoors! Men who climb mountains! Who not only climb, they climb ice! Then sleep out in the snow! Real men. Men's men. Real American tough-guys. Not us.
            In Colorado, my new friends we're corn-fed and blonde. Their parents were contractors, pilots, and military. They all fished and hunted with their dads. They all knew what a carburetor did. They all whittled their own soapbox derby cars, with barely a watchful eye from their able-handed, thickly mustachioed fathers.
When my dad and I tried to make my own soapbox derby car, I had a vision of the Starskey and Hutch mobile, but the wobbly thing we "crafted" turned out lopsided, the wheels didn't spin, and the paint job bled like a scream queen. I won the Most Creative Car trophy out of pure sympathy. It's still my only trophy.
No, Colorado was just way outside of our natural environment. And so nature, the world of men, has somehow always seemed unnatural to me. Always given me this uneasy feeling that I might not survive such a rugged world.
So maybe that's why my dad jumped at the chance to be a dove killer. Not just to show himself that he could, but to show nature—and all the manly men who run it.
And maybe that's why I agreed to go with my father when he invited me to go on the next hunting trip. This time to the Willamette Valley of Oregon, to go hunt turkeys.
In spite of my own nature, or to spite it, I said yes. Why couldn't I be the tough guy for once? After all, what could be more tough-guy then bringing home Thanksgiving dinner?
Or maybe I just thought there'd be Pinot tasting involved.
***
We landed in Portland around noon. It was well past dark by the time we'd gotten our bags, our rental car, our lunch, and gotten predictably lost in an unpredictable forest. We finally got to the Kesterman Ranch around 7:30pm. The girl at the lodge told us that we had missed the hunting party. They'd all gone to bed a good hour back. "Ain't no party like a hunting party," I mumbled.
            We were shown to our sparse cabin, without a bottle of Pinot in site, or even a TV.
***
The next morning started innocently enough, with me asleep in bed, like a morning should. Thunderous knocking shocked my slumbering senses. It was a warning knock.
We were under attack! My most savage of survival instincts kicked in. I rolled lithely out of bed and immediately beneath it. A dust ball met my nose. I sneezed violently.
            A voice on the other side of the door gleefully announced, "Guess what gentleman? It's raining."
            "Fuck," I grunted audibly. I was in the Willamette Valley. With fucking Rickshaw. Fucking turkey hunting instead of Pinot tasting.
At least we weren't under attack.
After the initial shock of not just waking at 4am, but being violently shaken at that ungodly hour, I suffered the further shock of seeing myself in the mirror all dressed up in camouflage. Dad came over and checked his own camo-decked self out too. The camouflage actually made us stick out.
We made it to the lodge for breakfast with the other hunters. Manly men with boot knives rounded the table. Next to Rickshaw sat his thirteen-year-old son, Kenny, who'd already bagged six turkeys and was chomping at the bit for his next kill. There was Old Man Kesterman, who owned the lodge and property, and who looked like he may have eaten a Jew recently. Next to him sat his son-in-law, lanky Larry, who would be my father and my personal turkey-hunting guide. To Larry's left sat his 18 year-old son, Quentin, who was in his first year of employment with the ranch and training for the Lumberjack World Championships. His face was painted green. He looked how I felt.
As I was sure was often the case, Rickshaw set the tone of the conversation. "So, Mr. Kesterman, you think you're gonna call in one of them big ol' gobblers today?"
I'm not sure if Old Man Kesterman had to think about his response, or if the delay was just to intuit he was being spoken to, but after a good ten seconds Mr. Kesterman started to speak. Slowly. "Well… I… am… sure… gonna… try… you… know… those… gobblers… are… gonna… do… what… they… do… so… I'm… just… gonna… try… to… get… 'em… to… come… to… the… call… I… guess… I'm… just… going… to… have… to… romance… 'em."
Breakfast was almost done by the time Old Man Kesterman finished his sentence.
Rickshaw went back to the roundtable. "Adam, what about you?" He eyed me with a look I couldn't tell was challenging or friendly. "You excited to see some big ol' Toms?"
            "Oh, yeah. I can't be sure what I'm going to do if I do see one, but I'm excited to find out."
            "You just take a deep breath, pick your pattern just in front of his head, take another deep breath, let half of it out…" Rickshaw let out half a breath, "…and fire. BAM! Easy as that."
            Right, blow his head off. No problem.
The meal commenced. We feasted like men, for the sake of fuel, like we needed the meat to sustain us till our next kill. Every now and then one of Old Man Kesterman's skittish daughters would come in and make sure Pa had enough bacon and butter. The rain thunked hard on the roof. No sign of light fought through the windows.
***
            After breakfast, Larry crammed my dad and me into his dirty Dodge pickup and closed the cell bay doors. We drove and drove, with me cramped in the cab. Little did I know it was the most comfortable I would be for a long time. Larry didn't say a word, like his mind was elsewhere, perhaps in a clock tower somewhere.
After about an hour of cramped silence, Larry pulled over and let us in on his plan. "We're gonna line yous up in the trees and thickets and stuff… then I'm gonna set up on the side of the field and try and call 'em in… I don't know if they'll come, but I reckon they'll be there. I seen 'em there a few days back… heard 'em too."
Larry gave me my shotgun and told me to load it. Then he showed me how. Then he just loaded the thing for me.   
Larry gave me a "chair", which was really just two pieces of nylon attached by Velcro. Dad and I followed him into a field with a huge thicket that grew along a tree line. Larry told Dad to gussy up against one of them trees and look for the birds to come in behind him. Dad gave me a thinly veiled look of manly confidence, swallowed deeply, and disappeared.
Larry and I continued down the thicket. He stopped at what must have been the perfect part, though it looked exactly like the rest of the thicket to me. He gestured for me to insert myself into this wall of barbs. I sneezed at the very thought of what was in there. Larry whispered for me not to shoot my father and moved on.
Though situated smack-dab in rain-soaked Oregon, my thicket somehow remained relatively dry. At first I deemed this to be a good thing, but soon realized I could find no possible position that afforded me the least bit of comfort. I had nothing to lean against save for the "chair", which only gave the illusion of leaning. Whenever I moved a muscle to seek any sort of comfort, I may as well have been an alarm, betraying our stealthy location to any imminently arriving wild birds whose heads we were supposed to blow off.
I sat there trying desperately not to move, failing miserably. I listened to Larry attempting to call in the birds, using a variety of noisemakers that all sounded like farts. As entertaining as that sounds, and despite the pain of my current position, I drifted off, figuring the hunt's necessity of silence would be best served by going to sleep.
***

I can't be sure how long I let myself drift, but my hunting instincts proved to be quite keen, as I woke up, the rain subsiding, an eerie haze clinging to the wet ground, and five prancing birds not twenty feet in front of my nose.
Too groggy to move, I stayed in my still position, even as I realized there was a loaded gun atop my very sore knee. I may very well have been dreaming.
In my brief instruction back at the lodge, Rickshaw showed me a stuffed turkey and told me to look for the long red beard and big black spurs of a Tom, the term for a male turkey. The lodge bird had a longer beard than Billy Gibbons, sharper spurs than the Pale Rider, and was damn near bigger than me. If it came down to it, he could probably serve me for Thanksgiving dinner.
But in the mist of this cold morning, the five birds in front of me didn't look anything like that big stuffed gobbler in the lodge. The three birds leading the pack had brown heads and no beards at all. Like huge pigeons.
Then I focused on the two birds strutting behind. They weren't big, but they weren't brown. They both bore the red head of a Tom, but without the pronounced tail feathers and hanging gullet I'd seen on the beast stuffed in the lodge. Then I looked at their chests. The one closest to the huge pigeons had the makings of a miniature beard, or at least pronounced peach fuzz, no more than an inch long. But a definite beard. And the bird behind him had a beard three times that, maybe not ZZ Top quality, but he at least looked like he was a couple months into the Stanley Cup Playoffs. It was all the recognition I needed.
I raised my gun, immediately alarming the birds to my presence. While the rest of his friends fled, the bearded bird sadly stalled, distracted by the prospect of some easily attainable tail. Oh, he had intentions of running, but those intentions met squarely with my reaction to fire. Without thinking, without waking really, I pointed, not aimed, at the too-slow bird, and unloaded in his general direction.
The boom instantaneously jostled my grogginess as it swept the turkey soundly from his feet, blasted to the ground.
Reacting, I ran to the felled beast as he gasped for his last labored breaths. His bare head turned from red to blue, then quickly to grim, ghoulish grey. His laboring stopped as quickly as it started. I could see his soul rise as the dead air escaped from his lungs.
"Aha!" I heard my dad scream as I hovered over the carnage. I looked over to see my camo-covered father emerging from his hiding place, gun in hand. "You did it!" He came over and patted me on the back. He looked shocked, like he didn't know I had it in me. Or like the deafening blast cutting the silence of the peaceful morning had just woke him up, as well. I looked at him like I just broke a window with another errant lacrosse ball.
"That was worth the price of admission right there!" Dad's initial shock was replaced with pride.
Larry came over to have a look. He extended his right hand and I shook it, tentatively. "Well, you did it. That's a fine Jake."
"A Jake? What's a Jake?"
"A male turkey… who's not quite a Tom."
Nobody told me about Jakes. "What do you mean not quite a Tom?"
"Not quite growsed up enough."
"Like a boy?"
"More like a teenager."
Great. Not only was I a killer, I was a baby killer.
***
It was only about seven o'clock in the morning by the time I murdered my Jake. Since I only had a license for one turkey per day (one more than I deserved), I didn't have to hang out in any more thickets. But my Dad still had some killing to do.
             As the morning became optically official, we set up in four different spots with no success. On our fifth attempt, Larry situated my dad in someone's bushes – someone who apparently was used to live firearms going off in the general vicinity.
            I was jarred from another nap by another shotgun blast filling the quiet peace of a rainy Oregon morn. I got up in time to see my dad standing over another dying Jake; this one had less of a beard and a life less-lived than my own.
When I saw the super-sized Toms the rest of the hunters brought home, I knew we'd killed in vain. Rickshaw said I couldn't be picky; it was my first hunt. He was just glad my dad and I both got a bird. Of course, Rickshaw also said that if it weren't for hunters, the globe would be overrun by wild beasts.
***
As we flew home, with a cooler full of BB-crusted turkey stowed safely below, I looked over to my father. "Well," I said, "that was about the dumbest thing we've ever done."
            "Son, you know we could have just golfed Pebble Beach for what we just spent?"
            "We didn't even drink any Pinot."
            "Well, now we know."
            "How did we get ourselves into this?" I asked.
            "I don't think I had a choice. I'm just glad you came with me."
            "At least Thanksgiving will be good."
***
Of course, Thanksgiving wasn't good. Karma wouldn't allow it. About two weeks before Turkey Day, the downstairs freezer just up and broke. Nobody was home for a couple of days, and by that time our slain Jakes had turned rotten to the core.  Like my soul.
And so, our hunt turned out to be solely for the sake of slaughter. I did not feel manly.
But my father didn't panic. We still had thanks to give, so my dad did what any good provider must: he made reservations. We went to a very nice restaurant. I had the duck. My dad had the prime rib. And the whole family gave thanks for a delicious bottle of Pinot Noir, straight from the Willamette Valley.
# # #




December 28, 2012

Life of Pi

Life of Pi: 92 Points. Definitely an escape, and a beautiful one at that. The only time I really felt out of the story were moments I’m pretty sure Ang Lee wanted me to feel out of the story – to give pause, to assess my own situation. It’s hard not to assess your life after watching Pi’s extraordinary adventure. It’s hard not to assess your faith. And if you don’t have enough, you might leave the theater a bit bereft, a bit jealous of those who can believe so fully. But if you think about it a bit more, let the lost-at-sea story sink in, you might also be able to see it as good reason to have faith in something other than a higher power: humanity.

November 18, 2012

Denial is For the Birds


I’m not very good at denying myself things; I can’t say no to any of my myriad compulsions. I’m a slave to them.

While it’s a close race, my most powerful of cravings is my need for Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie. If the idea sneaks into my mind, the idea must be eaten.

Maybe because I can’t see the point. Why shouldn’t I have what I want? Why should I try to deny myself what my base instincts so desire? What’s wrong with pleasure? I believe in pleasure.

However,  thanks to my Hebrew upbringing, I also believe in guilt. And where there’s guilt, there can be no pleasure.

So, in defiance of my upbringing, and to see if I could deny myself something – anything – I decided to give up ice cream for lent.

I almost made it too.

The Wednesday before Easter Sunday, I caved. And it wasn’t like I was so craving Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie that I couldn’t live one more hour without it, it was that I couldn’t remember why I was trying to deny myself the stuff in the first place.

Denial is for the birds. What’s the point? Why not live my life as it’s meant to be? Yeah, yeah, I’ve heard the arguments. Rise above your beastly nature and let your civility rule you. But that’s crap. Who’s to say our natural selves aren’t as moral as our civilized selves?

I don’t believe it for a second. But fortunately, I have guilt to keep me from doing anything really stupid.

August 20, 2011

religion

That last blog post I created was the first one i did in some time. Not since i started working, coincidentally. Does it show how much effort i put into it?

Anywho, i have a tendency to over-edit myself, which has been holding me back from getting anything posted; that and the fact that all i wanna do is nothing once i come home from using my brain all day long.

So during this nothingness, i was coasting Facebook and noticed one of my "friends" posted the following: "if you want to increase your page views, tag your blog post with the keyword religion!"

i was intrigued. But in order to attempt the experiment, i would first need to post something. Anything! But it's been just so hard to post even anything. So hard to have my own thoughts after cranking out work thoughts all day. And twice as hard to edit those thoughts to the point where they actually communicate and entertain.

But for some reason, I really wanted to tag my blogpost religion. So I just did it. I threw caution to the wind. I barely even edited! I just up and posted that five-word sentence! Like Marc Zuckerberg!

The next day, I checked the stats. He was right: in a 24-hour period, I got the second highest number of page views ever. Granted, everyone who viewed it hated it, but that's not the point, is it?

Anyway, this blog has been tagged with the keyword religion.

April 6, 2011

The Fried Pig Belly Sandwich

My wife is trying to train me to share restaurant food with her. She wants us to start splitting everything, apparently in some sort of fairytale effort to make me eat less, save money, shed cholesterol, and learn about the widespread benefits of sharing in general.

She formally proposed the idea about three weeks back. “Honey,” she said while looking over the menu. “Let’s split a salad, an app, and an entrĂ©e?” Then she got all excited, like it was the best idea she ever had: “Yep! That’s the plan. Every time we go out!”

At first, per usual, I thought she was out of her mind, and told her so. Splitting meals? What kind of a man splits a meal? Not a proud American man like myself.

I ordered a steak. And I ate the fat.

Obviously, that wouldn’t be the last time we talked Sharing. Oh no, it’s in her head now. But she’s wizened up since that first attempt. She’s refined her strategy. She’s put those other sharing benefits on the backburner and placed all her guilt-laden emphasis on the one sharing virtue I can readily buy into: saving money.

Saving money is stellar, I’m naturally cheap. But in AdPock’s World, saving money shouldn’t come at the cost of keeping the restaurant dining experience special. No, if dining-out ceases to remain special, then I will have become spoiled. And I want very badly to remain fresh.

So when I’m out, I like to order special food. Out food. And I like to not think about anything unspecial, like cholesterol. Since my wife knows I remain steadfast on this point, and since she really wants us to Share, she’s temporarily giving up trying to get me to give up ordering rich food and has merely focused on the money saving benefits.

Or at least that’s how she pitched it last night when we went out to eat. Being an open-minded guy, I agreed to give her sharing idea a try, with one bona fide caveat. “I’ll share,” I said, “if you let me order whatever fatty dishes my saintly heart desires.”

Which she happily and readily agreed to. And as the meal went on, I realized that sharing’s great! Instead of just one dish, I get three! I get to try more savory tastes and get all the choice bites and mmm… warm spinach salad with bacon… mmm… mac n’ cheese with chorizo… mmmm… fried pig belly sandwich… mmm.

And all of it was delicious. I had shared. And it was good.

But of course, she hated it. All the food was far too rich for her dainty stomach. It ruined her meal. Which subsequently ruined mine!

Me trying to make her happy, by sharing, and her trying to make me happy, by letting me order what I wanted, made neither one of us happy. 

I'm not sure what that says about happiness, or about sharing in general, but hot damn that pig belly sandwich was good!

April 3, 2011

Attentive AdPock

Fourteen minutes into his epic percussion solo, AdPock realized he had to finish putting away the dishes and stop smoking weed.

March 24, 2011

The Big Picture

After finally finishing a painting I’d been working on for weeks, I proudly displayed my handy-work to my wife. “Well,” I said, “Wife, what do you think?”
Wife looked over said painting for all of two seconds before she decided, unequivocally, she was unimpressed. “Eh,” she said.
I was shocked. How could she not like it? My hard work and ingenuity created it. It is me. I am it. We are one. If she didn’t like it, then she didn’t like me. And if she didn’t like me, who would? She’s supposed to be my biggest fan and all. Right?
“Maybe I don’t have to like it.” Said Wife, rationally, like it didn’t matter in the slightest. Then she went back to doing whatever it is she does and I painted over my painting with thick black paint.
Of course I disagreed with her at the time, as my instincts usually tell me to, but after six weeks of deliberating, I’ve decided that actually, against all odds, I’m wrong, and she’s right: she doesn’t have to like the painting.
Because, as shocking as this is to swallow, not everything I try is going to be great. It can’t be. There’s only so much greatness in the world, and if everything is great, then nothing can really be all that great. This is a very liberating lesson to learn, because if everything doesn’t have to be great, then I’m much more free to try everything.
No, she doesn’t have to love every little thing I do. She doesn’t have to love every meal I attempt to cook. She doesn’t have to love my Supercuts’ haircut. She doesn’t have to love the way I rearranged the furniture. And she doesn’t have to love every picture I paint. Just the big picture.

March 22, 2011

Appropriate Adpock?

AdPock spent hours on end, trying to put himself in Binky’s shoes. But Binky didn’t wear shoes.

March 11, 2011

The Rivalry

My wife and I play tennis. It’s our thing. If you don’t have a thing with your wife, I highly recommend you get one, otherwise you may find yourself without a wife. And I don’t know about you, but that would seriously disrupt how well I eat.
Anywho, I really enjoy this tennis thing for a number of reasons, foremost being because I get to compete with my wife. But while competition is a healthy part of any marriage, I don’t believe it can be the main part. Most of marriage should be about teamwork.
If you can’t get your competition out on the tennis court, odds are it will come out in a battle for space. Or more appropriately, for boundaries – the walls which protect our space.  
I used to let my wife win a game or two, to help with her self-confidence. Then, one day when I was particularly hungover, she took advantage and won four games! She pushed it to a series of deuces at 4-4 before I finally resorted to hitting nothing but drop shots, which her bad ankles don’t let her properly defend, at least not without a great deal of pain.
But it wasn’t that she had me on the ropes that had me so concerned. No, that was fine. I think I actually liked that because it made me play my best to win, which is the most fun you can have on a tennis court. No, it was that after she took those four games, she got all flippin’ mouthy. Just yap yap yapping away to all our friends: “Did AdPock tell you I almost beat him at tennis the other day?” “Did AdPock tell you I took four games?”
No, AdPock failed to mention that. And I haven’t given her a game since. She’s earned a few, which is what’s so great about our “rivalry”, but she hasn’t come close to winning since.
Now it’s personal. No more points where I let up a bit just to make sure she’s enjoying herself. No more wimpy first serves. Nothing easy.
See, I can’t let up. Or she will beat me. Because I know, in my Jewish athlete’s heart, that she’s good enough to beat me. Especially if she learns how to take advantage of my gentle psyche and starts talking a little trash. 
But if she does beat me, then that’ll probably spell the end of not just our tennis, but our marriage. My ego just couldn’t take it.
Or at least I keep telling her that, just to give her something to think about, in case it’s ever her match point.

March 7, 2011

Love and Sandwiches

I love everyone. And I love that I love everyone. I pride myself on my open-mindedness almost as much as my ability to slap da bass in a dirty-song band.

When my fraternity brother came out of the closet about ten years ago, I reacted by hugging him and telling him, “Mazel Tov!” Though I found out a moment later that’s not really something he considered congrats-worthy, I was still pretty impressed with how easily I accepted the news. It was a true test of my homophobia, and I passed with rainbow colors.

I guess it’s one of the reasons I moved to Los Angeles in the first place: to be in a wonderfully diverse community. I live here because I love everyone, and because most everyone here seems to love me. We feed off that love to create a more beautiful world. 

But when you throw around a word like love as easily as I do, you’re liable to get yourself in trouble. Because I also love Chic-fil-A. And apparently, from what I read in the New York Times, Chic-fil-A doesn’t love gays.

Again, I’m not just throwing that word around. I fucking love Chic-fil-A. Like when I go there, I don’t take anything to read, as I normally would, because I like to look at my food and ponder its glory as I chew.

Sometimes, on days it’s prepared just right, I’ll even have a little love talk with my sandwich. I’ll say, “How’d you get to be so good?” And she’ll say nothing at all. Looking plump and tender and moist.

And I’ll say, “You know, you make me want to be a better man.” And she’ll just sit there, steaming. And for a minute, I’ll believe there may be such a thing as a Mormon higher power.

Then I’ll give her a look that says, “Let’s go.” And I’ll chew my bite, nice n’ slow.

So you see, it’s a bit of a love affair. It’s one of my longest-standing relationships. And here I am, caught in a vicious love triangle. Because, I also love gays. So does my love for Chic-fil-A prevent me from truly loving my gay friends? Do I really have to choose? 

Sold Out

Never talk to the Girl Scouts. Nothing good can come of it. You either get fat or you’re a jerk.
Is it my fault they sold out of Thin Mints? I understand they’re trying to make a buck for a good cause, but don’t the laws of supply and demand still hold? If you’re out, you’re out. I shouldn’t be made to feel guilty because I don’t like your Tagalongs with the same sort of worth-the-calories abandon that I feel for the mints.
It’s your fault. Not mine, Girl Scout. So back off with your over-salesmanship, and give me some goddamned consumer space!

March 3, 2011

AdPock Thought...


Sure, AdPock was a bit saddened that his therapist chose to let him go. But in a way, it was mutual; she was looking for someone to agree with her, and he was looking for someone much more enabling.

February 28, 2011

Alchy AdPock?

AdPock was fairly certain that both he and his wife could live without wine. But he was 100% positive they couldn't live together without it.

February 27, 2011

Oscar Winner Wieners

First of all, some impressions of the show:
-Was James Franco snorting lines of Ambien backstage? He looked like he was about as excited to be hosting the Oscars as I would be to go jeans shopping with my wife. 
-Was anyone else relieved when Kirk Douglas didn’t die?
-Anne Hathaway was great, but she would have been much better if she were naked the whole time.
-That Coke commercial with the awesome Temper Trap song inspired me much more than anything else the entire evening.
-I didn’t see Biutiful, but I cried during the clip they showed for Javier Bardem’s Best Actor nomination, so he gets my nod.
*
Now, my thoughts on the year’s best films, or at least those nominated by the Academy. (Please note, I only saw five of the ten films because I’m not buying into the Academy’s new 10-film format; I know it’s just a ploy to raise ticket sales and it puts way too much pressure on a guy who just wants to be part of the conversation.)
-The most interesting part of the movie Winter’s Bone is that John Hawkes got nominated for Best Supporting Actor while giving a performance in which I only understood about one sixth of his lines. I guess Daniel Day Lewis won for less when he played the guy with a well-developed left foot, but I don’t think it helped Hawkes' cause.
-Toy Story 3 gave me some thrills, but come on, best picture? I need actual actors acting for a best picture nod. Who Killed Roger Rabbit would have qualified, because it was only partially animated, but unfortunately it was never nominated.
-Inception was a movie that made me made me fall asleep and dream about a movie where I gave a crap about the characters.
-The King’s Speech. Yes, it was good. Yes, we knew it would win, because Academy members all believe British films are inherently more important.
But no, I still don’t like boring British movies that only serve to stroke that nation’s ego with regards to an old world order. Remembering the past is great, but only as it pertains to the here and now. Here and now is not really addressed. Is it? Sure, there is the universal theme about man’s indomitable spirit, but really the movie isn’t telling us anything we don’t already know.
-The Social Network is far and away my winner; I don’t give two shits what the Academy says. It is the seminal film of our times. It’s a movie that shows us the possibility of taking the ideas in your head and bringing them to billions of lives. Ideas building on ideas building on ideas, all creating a more connected world.
It raises issues about privacy, and our right to it. About business ethics and whether that’s an oxymoron. About having bold ideas and believing in them, and believing in a world where such ideas can come to life. The fact that all these themes are present in our every day lives, and that the story of Facebook is still unfolding upon our very own screens, from Egypt to Wisconsin, is testament to the vitality of this film. If they only spoke with British accents, I'm pretty sure it would have won. 
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Cherubic Mike

Check out day 24 of my main man Mike Krum’s effort to record and post one video a day during the month of February:


To hear Mikey sing is to love him. Honestly, I have no idea what his lyrics are ever actually talking about, except I know he makes really good, groovy sense.

His songs are scary and glorious, all at once. There are a million ways to really hear him. He’s mad. He’s channeling the universal. He’s breaking down. He’s totally correct. He’s misled. He’s wayward. He’s ideal. However you hear him, the results are different each time. But emotional payoff is always insured.

It’s one of the reason’s I love Mikey’s songs. There’s so very much to him. There’s so much that makes no sense, and yet, at the end of each song, you’re sure he’s onto something. Something vital. Something necessarily human. Something so good.