Monday, March 8, 2010

Cleaning House

I've been extremely busy at work this past week or so as I began to wrap up my (graceful?) exit into whatever step will be next for me, so I apologize for the lack of posts and new material for you all to read.  Alright, so I lied.  I don't have a job and I haven't been busy, I've just been watching Wainy Days nonstop and haven't gotten out of bed until now, because its too funny and depresses me.

The funny thing is, both of those things are true.

This post is just to clear out some random things I have been thinking about over the past few days. We will get to the new material later on this week such as a music post focused on the Rolling Stones, which will dare to not be trite and cliched - hopefully that achievement will occur; a new humorous list ranking something irrelevant to you, but relevant to my manic brain; a brief look into some of the raw material for my next story; and perhaps that long played up book post I have been referring to that will run-down Thomas Wolfe, A Fan's Notes, and the recently (last year) published Family Album.

For now, however, it is time to clean house:

-Have been catching a fair deal of Kobe playing lately.  The Heat vs. Lakers game on Thursday night on TNT was tremendously entertaining to watch.  Kobe was unbelievable.  He was literally channeling Michael Jordan circa 1997/1998.  It is a little eerie to watch being an incredible (who isn't?) Michael Jordan fan.  His ability to make clutch shots is absolutely unparalleled in the game right now.  He seems to hang and fade back just far enough on his jump shots to elude the defender every time, much like a latter day Jordan.  He has also refined and perhaps perfected his pivot moves to the same degree that Michael did as well.  You have to observe closely as Kobe doesn't rely on his speed or complete athleticism anymore. He relies more on cunning, body control and the vast language of the game that he has accumulated.   I have been a begrudging Kobe fan throughout his career, but it is becoming easier and easier to like him as you realize what a student of the game he is and with what knowledge he brings to it.  He still remains calculated and artificial in a way that Michael never was, even though Michael constantly put the brand of Michael Jordan instead of the actual person of Michael Jordan.  There was just something about Michael's version of will and his competitive streak that rang truer than Kobe's does.

- Staying on the Heat vs. Lakers game, Dwyane Wade was absolutely phenomenal.  Check out his line from the game:

                        Min   Pts.  Reb.   Ast.   TO    Stl.
03/04    LAL    42     27     5       14       6        1

You also just have to look at his line from the game before:

                     Min  Pts.   Reb.   Ast.    TO   Stl.
03/02    GS    37    35      6        12       3      4

That line is seriously insane. No one fills up the stat sheet in such a complete way as Wade does. Not even Lebron. It's just painful to watch his team. Wade has to do everything for that team every time up the floor and every time back down the floor on defense.  Wade is working so hard that even Kobe said after the game that he needs help.  I like Wade playing in Miami even if the fans are frontrunners and it is sort of disgusting how the arena always looks half empty when one of the top three players in the world is playing for their team. I like it because its good to have  star in a popular city like Miami where he has already won one title.  He just needs help or he needs to get out, because I can't see him continue to waste his tremendous efforts for a team that is barely making the playoffs.

- I'm also getting excited for the upcoming 30 for 30 Documentary on ESPN called Winning Time.  If visiting that link doesn't excite you, then I just have nothing to say to you ever again.

- With the nice weather this weekend I got a chance like most people to do some walking around my neighborhood and I have to say that Brooklyn is extremely enjoyable on sunny, low 50's days like this past weekend.  I got out and enjoyed some Stumptown coffee at Second Stop Cafe and then also got to play some pickup ball with high schoolers at McCarren Park. They only slightly insulted me by murmuring that I was the "whitest (racial slur deleted) in the gym."

- Listened to the latest Bill Simmons and Chuck Klosterman podcast where they touched on a lot of interesting points about race, basketball, Lost and the Wire.  I recommend checking it out.

- Also checked out that show How to Make it in America this weekend also. I can't decide if its terrible or not.  It is absolutely the east coast Entourage and it does remind me of a few too many people I know and interact with.  However, you can't deny a show that has a strange easiness to it, especially when you are hungover.

- Caught the Oscars last night and thought they were funny as hell.  All the winners just seemed strange to me.  Maybe because I didn't see so many movies this year and I even saw one movie this year (Moon with my man Sam Rockwell) just to go somewhere cool to sleep.  I did see Up In the Air and thought that was a good movie. I liked the younger girl in it.  All the girls looked good at the Oscars last night.

- One thing about the Oscars. When I was watching it, I was secretly hoping that the Academy would pull a classic WWF move, where the award is given for Best Picture, but then the presenter of the award hits the winner with a chair and either a) takes the award for him or herself or b) takes the award and gives it to the winner from last year (in this case Slum Dog Millionaire) and declares to the world that they were in cahoots the whole time.  I feel like this would spice up the Oscars a little bit.  Then again, what do I know. When I see two people present at the Oscars I assume they are married. And yes, sex has no bearing on that.

- The comedy sketches will be coming soon. However, I also want to develop an idea I came up with last summer for a series of videos called Caught! This idea is comprised of a series of short videos of people doing mundane things, but getting "caught" by somebody. An example would be "CAUGHT! Using the dimmer switch," or "CAUGHT! Licking ice cream off of a spoon." I think this would catch on very quickly. It's either that or the other idea I have had recently for a character with the catchphrase "I'll eat that."  Have to develop that a little further.

That's all the random thoughts I have cleared out for now.  Look for the Stones post up tomorrow night as I frantically try to jot down some initial notes tonight to get kick started. Keep yourselves safe, enjoy the weather, and let your souls rage out to any Talk Talk albums you can get your hands on so that you can stay as un-Tiger as possible.

Now, the next installment of From Here to the Last Mound of Dirt:

James exhaled and passed his hand through his hair.

“People love you for something else and I can’t see it so clearly right now.”
If that was what his father said to him, it was difficult for James to imagine what his mother would say to if she saw the way he was acting.  He knew that Eve saw the difference, she’d confronted him about it the night before.  However, she let him off the hook easy.  She loved him in the way that only a soul mate could.  Eve would be satisfied with his stammering answers about his family, because she’d do her best to be right there with him.  That is why he married her: she challenged him in the ways he needed to be challenged. She respected what he truly wanted, because she knew him and knew that he didn’t want anything easy, but in the end she loved him and would let him off the hook – not because she had to, but because she wanted to.

James wasn’t sure what his mother would do.  She had raised him to be a man, a well-rounded man.  She wanted him to treat women with respect, he treated women with respect.  She wanted him to seek the good in the world, he tried his best to seek the good in the world.  She wanted him to be humble, he was humble when he wasn’t drunk, and even when he was, very rarely was he brash.  His mother had dressed him in a red bow-tie when he was a baby.  There was a photo of him wearing it from Maggie’s fifth birthday party.  Their parents had sat him next to Maggie when she was going to blow out the candles.  Maggie wanted her friend Nicole to sit next to her.  The picture was of Maggie with a frown, cake on her hands and James, in his red bow-tie and vest, smiling with cake frosting all around his mouth and cheeks.  Ben stood behind Maggie.  That photo always made him tear up with both a sense of joy and of sadness.  There was a joy in looking at himself as a child dressed up properly in a man’s clothing.  The red bow tie became more than an accessory, it was a sign of his mother’s care, her embrace of motherhood.  She had loved his little body  and cared about his entrance and his appearance in the world.  However, there was a sadness because that little boy in a red bow tie now wore red ties, blue ties, and nice grey coats to work and he was a man, but he could not face the fact that he had created another life.  There was a piece of him growing inside of Eve, a new child who he could dress and shape in his own image – but he wasn’t sure if he liked that image.

What also made James sad when he thought of the photo and of his mother was the that the fact he had a worn a bow-tie as a child only reminded him that maybe his whole life had been formed by his mother’s vision of what it should be.  And it wasn’t only true for him; it was true for Maggie, Tom and Liza.  Maggie was the first child and a girl, which naturally made Rose take an aggressive approach towards parenting.  She didn’t know how to be a mother, there was a feeling inside of her that felt very natural, but she didn’t know what to do in each circumstance.  So she tried very hard to make Maggie into a sweet little girl, which was easy to do because she was very striking and cute with her red brown hair, especially when it was pushed up in  pigtails.  However, what she failed to realize, in those early days, with all of her intuition was that it was Maggie’s spirit that defined her, the non-feminine, non-sexual fire that always kept her seperate.

For Tom, perhaps she had indulged him too much.  James thought of how Rose was always protecting Tom.  She never pretended that he wasn’t guilty of being odd.  When Tom’s friends’ mothers came over to report that Tom had told their sons there was no Santa Claus or when their CCD teacher called and told Rose that Tom had stated that he did not believe in God but only the air, Rose always made him apologize.  She made him come to the door or come to the phone no matter how old he was.  However, afterward she would always pet his hair in a strange way.  James could remember sitting at the kitchen table doing his homework when Tom had to apologize for telling his friend Jeremy that he didn’t care what it would be like to be an NFL wide receiver, he only wanted to know what it would be like to be dead.  Tom was seven and James was fourteen.  Tom had apologized to Jeremy’s mother and Rose kneeled in front of him to make sure he understood how serious she was about him saying upsetting things to his friends.  But then they walked back in the kitchen and she pet his head; it was some symbol telling him that she knew he was different.  James never wanted to let Tom have that, though.  Tom was too smart not to know the things he was doing; he knew the way the world worked, yet he did these strange things, not out of some kind of malice, but simply because he saw the world.  And the way he saw the world was his way and although he  knew all the different ways the world could be  and was seen, he never let those ways intrude on his vision.

He wondered if Tom could survive in the world.  Despite the fact that Tom stuck to his view, he was extremely sensitive to other people and their pains and struggles.  James felt that was something they had in common.  Yet, there was a small difference that seperated them.  James wasn’t quite sure what it was.  He knew it had something to do with their mindsets.  Tom took everything to heart and had difficulty differentiating the empathy he felt for others with his own pains, fears and ambitions.  James knew where the lines ended and where he could do nothing more than help – his short coming was never knowing when to quit. There was something abstract in the way Tom related to other people and the world.  James remembered a conversation he and Tom had a few years before.  James had been home for Labor Day and Tom was going back to school the next day.  They stood at the edge of the garage door, where the white concrete met the black tar of the driveway, there were a few leaves already stuck in the divot between the two.  They stood drinking beer and listening to the crickets. James remembered the eve of the first day of school from when he was a child, he smelled the slight coolness of the air and his heart beat  uncontrollably.  His mind was wandering away, thinking about how he hadn’t changed so much since he was a student.  Then, Tom had spoken.

“Jimmy,” he said.

James laughed. “Yes, Thomas.”

Tom bowed his head and looked out into the dark.  James tried to follow his gaze but the darkness pressed and all he could find was a backlight glowing from the neighbors yard.  He didn’t know what Tom saw.

“Do you ever get that feeling when you smell the freshness of the air?  I mean the freshness of a cool summer night?”

“Yeah, you mean that school day feeling?”

“No,” he paused.  “I mean.” He stammered. “I mean, I mean, that feeling that makes the edges of leaves strange to you.  That you don’t understand exactly why they’re there, or how they live and make air and make the world go on the way it does.  Then you keeping thinking about their edges and you remember school, and you remember a sunny day in summer and always wanting to flop down underneath them in the shade and not care about anything else in the world.  When I smell that air, when I smell the trees or the night I think about how nice it would be to just lay down under a tree and just die.  Become part of the rest of it, you know? Not walk around to smoke cigarettes and drink beer, just cry and fall and lay down and die to become a leaf too.  Or a piece of grass.”

James didn’t know what to say.  He felt strongly that the throbbing feeling in his chest was the same feeling his brother was talking about, but he simply couldn’t see it in that way.  So he pat and held Tom’s shoulder.

“Its funny to get older, Tom. All of that is the good stuff, though.  Summer days and nights growing up around here.  Those are all the things you remember.”

Tom turned away from the distance and looked at him.  His lips were pursed and his eyes were wide.
Then his face focused, his lips tightened and he frowned.

“Are you afraid to get married?” he asked.


“Do you love Eve?”

“Yes. I do. What are you getting at?”

“Nothing,” Tom looked away, back out into the dark. “That must be nice.”

James stared at the side of his face and took a drink of his beer. 

“People love you for something else and I can’t see it so clearly right now.”

The phrase caused his stomach to churn again.  He shook his head unconsciously and stood up.  It occurred to him that he and Eve had been kneeling too long.  James took Eve’s hand and they walked back to the chairs.  James shook his head again, he hadn’t even thought of Liza.  He looked at her in profile.  She looked like Tom in a way.  They had the pointer features.  He admired her chin and thought, poetically, that it looked like a crescent moon.  James noticed her smoothing her skirt against her thighs,  her hands moving out from the center where the thighs touched while her knees nervously bobbed. He shook his head once more as he sat.  There was too much to pay attention to and that was one of the reasons he had always hated coming home.  He imagined each of the people he loved in a list and could not help seeing the boxes next to each of their names, the boxes that his mind would check off when he felt he had satisfied them, or satisfied his idea of what they needed.  James hung his head for a moment and then looked up at his father.  He wanted to tell him he would be a grandfather.


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