May 1st, 2004

pod

We're no good for eachother

There is perhaps no idea, with the possible exception of "men like breasts and aren't very smart," more played out than "when you're a kid you just want to be an adult and when you're an adult you just want to be a kid again." It is the equivalent of a lockerroom "Oh yeah, I got to third base with her!" for people trying to make witty or interesting observations about the world. That being said, considering how often it's been done poorly in the past I am in no danger of doing any serious damage to it with my own brand of sub-par writing and thus it will be the subject of my current musing.

You ever notice how children want to grow up and adults want to shrink down? (Bet you didn't see that one coming). George Carlin says that life is lived backwards, we start with the wonder of birth and then march inexorably along the path of greater responsibility, bodily decay, and eventual death. I disagree. I don't think that babies have it so great. I mean sure they get to lie around in their cribs all day but they're constantly having to deal with all sorts of things that just aren't issues in an adult's day. When was the last time you recoiled in horror screaming "What's this thing at the end of my leg?" At this point almost everybody reading this journal has learned to accept their feet. Also adults have more than one way of dealing with the unknown. When you're a baby your options are pretty much A) Cry or B) Put it in my mouth. Imagine if we reacted like this to unfamiliar things in the modern world.

Sylvia: Hey Steve, could you hold my purse for me while I go to the…GET THAT OUT OF YOUR MOUTH.

Pete: There there Jim…it's just the new W-2 form. It'll be okay buddy, you can handle this. Let it out big fella, just let it out.

Babies are confined against their will because they're incompetent. Do you really want that? Plus their only appreciation for breasts is as a food source. They don't get to have a steak dinner and then clumsily grope their date as she tries to extricate herself gracefully from their grasps. It's a combination deal. Like having Christmas and your Birthday on the same day and only getting the one present. Babies get gyped.

Being a kid has its upsides and its downsides, but since it's a once in a lifetime opportunity we romanticize it beyond belief. Here's a little tip about once in a lifetime opportunities. They're usually scams. If someone went up to you today and said "Tell you what. I'm gonna let you only go to work between 8:15 AM and 3:00 PM in an office run by an unreasonable tyrant and with coworkers who give you wedgies and will taunt you mercilessly if you so much as look at a girl, let alone talk to one. In exchange you will have NO money, can't drink, can't drive, will be expected to produce the capital of Iowa on demand and have to be in bed by 9. Also there may be algebra involved." Would you jump on that offer?

Still we persist in the idea that adults want to be children. Before graduation from my school (and thus achievement of full on adulthood, except for those who are going to grad school and will remain adolescents into their 30's) they offer a little carnival complete with one of those bouncy castles that seemed like a whole lot of fun back when you were like 5 and didn't know what a rollercoaster was. Now I could take that as an admission of failure on the part of the administration or a not so subtle act of condescension (Congratulations, you have had 4 years of our education. Yeah, we've decided that you're finally ready for the bouncy castle.) but I'm going to assume that less insidious motives were at play.

The way I see it there are two possibilities of what they were thinking. A) Congratulations on graduating. We're going to reward you with an activity that has the best fun to threat of lawsuit ratio we can think of. B) Poor bastards. You're about to go out into the real world and find out what it's like to answer to a boss who not only doesn't give extensions on papers but expects you to explain why he forgot to send his bosses daughter a Bat Mitzva gift. You're going to get eaten alive out there. Might as well give them one last ride on the bouncy castle before reality sticks its boot so far up your ass that your tongue has "Timberland" printed on it.

I think the latter really holds the key to this obsession with childhood. It's when the shitty part of being older smacks you in the face that you want to be a kid again. It's not when the 24 year old with piercing green eyes and pert pale breasts decides to give you a wake-up hummer before she goes off to whatever it was she said her work was (Something with a b? It's downtown, right?). People scream out a lot of weird, crazy, shit during orgasm but "I wish I was 7 years old again" is pretty unusual.

No, it's when the rough stuff hits that we want to regress. I think that this insight could be very useful and have practical applications in the real world.

Like if you have to fire someone, give him a kite.

Don't do it at 5:00 PM after he's had a long day at work either, or on a rainy day. Go into his office right before lunch, hand him his kite and say "I'm sorry Lou, things are tight. It's a beautiful day though. Since you're not going to need to come back to the office this afternoon you should enjoy yourself." People would still see Lou walking out of his office with the kite tucked under his arm and all his office possessions packed into a cardboard box and feel sorry for him. But you know what? They'd feel a little jealous too. Sure he might not have health insurance anymore and his house will probably be forclosed in a few months, but this afternoon he's going off to frollic among the dandylions with his brand new kite while they'll be cursing at "Raj" trying to get password access to the necessary files so that they can get out of the office and home before their kids are asleep/ready for college.

Maybe if Lou's been with the company for ten or more years you could give him like a pez dispenser and one of those bright plastic toys that clack when you twirl them too. You know, to take the edge off. I'm sure that if we gave out kites to terminated employees we'd have a lot fewer office shootings. I mean really, when given a choice between killing your coworkers or dancing along the ground while Spider-Man soars high above you in the sky, who's going to reach for the AK-47?

This would apply to any scenario. "Yeah, sorry about the Leukimia, but you can have two scoops of any flavor that you want!"

"I'm sorry. I can't live like this any more. I've been lying to myself and to you. I'm a lesbian and I have to deal with that. I never meant to hurt you. We'll take a week, go to Disneyland, and then I'm moving into a hotel. You can get mousey ears with your name on them."

Of course where reform is most needed is in jail, specifically on death row. What's more adult than being executed for your crimes? To even execute a kid we have to try him as an "adult." I wonder what the early teens who hear that think. "Oh boy! I'm going to be treated like an adult! Wait, that means that if they find me guilty they can inject poison into me in front of a crowd of people? LAME!"

Death row inmates have lives that really suck. They already have many of the downsides of being a kid. Can't go out. No TV. Have to be in bed by a certain time. The state is going to end your life in 3 months. (Okay, in the case of a kid the state's going to sponser a dance in 3 months where Karen Lowe will make out with Marty Jenkins of all people and it will only FEEL like the end of your life.) Why shouldn't they get some of the comforts?

Max "The Masher" Kizlowski may have ground up 5 young girls and sold them as dog food but that doesn't mean he can't appreciate pizza night. Larry Ziggler might have shot those cops while coked out of his mind, but what harm could he do with a squirt gun (one of those unbreakable kinds that he couldn't fashion into a shiv) He's got 2 weeks left on this earth, pending appeals. He should be able to make the guards look like they went peepee in their pants. Maybe if he'd had a teddy bear back when he was on the street it wouldn't have gone down like that. The whole of death row should be made up in pastel colors with crayon maps of the united states taped to the walls and Pete Sieger music piped in. It would help people keep their minds off things.

As for children, well we already treat them like adults when bad adult type stuff happens. If your parents get divorced you wind up with money, or the gift equivalent. You can stay up as late as you like on the night that Grandma dies.

I'm just suggesting reciprocity.
I know that if I get drafted for the war in Iraq, I'm going to demand a pinwheel.
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    Third Eye Blind
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For one time only make an exception.

About my last entry, an attempt at a humorous essay.

Sometimes everything clicks and the writing is brilliant and hilarious.

Sometimes something like that comes out.

Best to keep on moving in those cases.

When I go to urinate in the morning my cat often crawls in between my legs and rubs against them, trying to stimulate me to go get her some food. This is usually unexpected (I'm groggy in the mornings) and sometimes results in her getting a few drops of piss spilled on her back. Since we all know how cats clean themselves this also has other implications. This is one of the primary differences between cats and human beings. Human beings will generally not intentionally repeat behaviors that lead to them ingesting another creature's urine.

I thought the Mother Theresa fetish thing was done. She was a mean woman who wanted poor people to STAY poor and thought suffering was the path to god, and thus something to maximize, not reduce. Just hanging around really poor people does not make you a good person. It's only if you're doing something positive for them that you should get credit. I can understand how the religious could support her but the rest of us had better cross her off the "People so much better than me that they make me ashamed to breath" list.

I spent another few hours shooting today. Frank and his girlfriend were significantly late and as they rolled up after I'd spent like half an hour standing in the sun listening to horrible loud music roll out of the campus (it sounded like they had a Limp Bizket cover band but someone forgot the Bizket and they were just plain Limp). I went up to the car and said "Okay this is the third time you've been late. You're either going to have to start leaving earlier or telling me that you're going to arrive later, either way is fine.

Marissa was very impressed by that. Both by my delivery, which was excellent, and by the fact that I wasn't raging mad and screaming at them. Of course there are a variety of reasons for this. For one, SHE was volunteering to help ME and her boyfriend with our video project. She's put in like 10 hours of her personal time with no compensation and a lot of downtime just sitting around. If she wants to waste a half hour of my time that's fair enough. I've wasted more than enough of hers. The other thing is that I don't like being hostile if I don't have to be. Hostility just provokes other people and generates bad will and uncomfortable situations. My time had already been wasted, blowing my stack at them wasn't going to bring it back and I wanted to have a pleasant time rather than one full of tension and hostility. Of course I don't really MIND waiting, I can amuse myself, except that I hate standing around in public. I'm fat and ugly and when I wait around in the same spot for 30 minutes it makes me look like a complete loser being stood up. Also the last few times I've hung around that area there have been LHG sighting. I can amuse myself by looking at the concrete and thinking funny thoughts, but I get self-conscious after awhile. That's not a huge deal though and I get over myself.

It worked. We had a decent time. It was not a particularly good shoot, unfortunately I hadn't bothered to write a script because I wanted to try some improv and that was something of a disaster. It wasn't their fault, more mine. See I was thinking that Frank sort of wanted to co-direct with me when in fact he wanted me to do the directing. I also have some flaws as a director. I watched an interview with Bill Murray once where he said that a good director talks calmly to actors, doesn't criticize them harshly, and tries to help them improve their performances rather than holding them to an impossible standard in his mind and screaming if they don't match it.

This is all good advice, but during one sequence where they were, to be honest, flat out awful I kept letting them run through the whole scene because interupting them with a "cut" would have felt rude. This led to our doing like 9-10 takes of that scene, many more than we should have. They didn't get my direction the first 8 times, and this was because I wasn't telling them exactly what I wanted but more suggesting it. After I wrote out a script of what I wanted them to say things proceeded much better. They liked my version better too, it was much cleaner and real than theirs which was overly verbose and meandering.

I had a headache during the whole time but it was fun nonetheless. I learned some stuff about film-making and that's good.

1) Always overprepare. Even if you're planning to do improv have a script to work off of if you need to.

2) If your actors aren't getting it then explain it to them. You don't need to be mean and you don't need to accuse. Clear communication is important and you look like more of an asshole asking for take after take until they stumble upon what you want through subtle guidance than if you just lay it out for them clearly.

After filming we went and got some food. It was nice although I sprayed soup all over my shirt thanks to soggy noodles and my poor fine motor control. Ugh. They're nice people and it's good for me to spend some social time with some non-geeks. They're not intellectuals, which is not to say that they aren't smart, they just don't talk about Proust or math, and it's good for me to spend time with normals. Of course they are in their 30's which just helps confirm my thesis that I get alone fine with older people and horribly with agemates. That's another issue though.
  • Current Music
    Counting Crows
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These jobs are going and they ain't coming back

Boxing is the toughest sport to watch when the fighter you're rooting for is losing. Team sports aren't generally too painful because the teammates have one another and there's always next year. Even for the Red Sox there's always next year.

Other solo sports are generally bearable because there is usually a chance for redemption next year (even someone who loses in the Olympics can always win a world championship) and besides that there are noble failures.

Most failures in boxing aren't noble. They are bloody and bruising. Boxing is the only sport where you have to watch the guy you're rooting for literally get beaten into submission. Generally speaking there's little chance of redemption either, fights that are televised are critical to a fighter's career. More than 3-4 losses and you can count him out forever. He may dabble at the fringes or win a minor title but he's mostly just a test for future young pups or a tune-up opponent for the big boys.

Watching an old fighter lose is the worst. I always root for the old guys. Greying beards, a little bit of sag in the once tight stomache no matter how they train, and the faint look of desperation in those eyes. Boxing is not an occupation that is good to its alumnae. The ones who make it get rich and if they're lucky retire without debilitating injuries. The ones who don't are often carried out of the ring with empty pocketbooks and scrambled brains.

Watching an old fighter take on a young buck I hope that the one who's pushing 40 can turn back time a few years and whip the young whelp. He needs the money, the pride, and the opportunity more. The young guy can always come back, or he can retire early and healthy and find another profession. The old guy's past his prime and he knows it. He is just trying to keep his family fed and comfortable for as long as possible, sacrificing his body and his future for a few more minutes under the fading lights and a few more presents under the Christmas tree.

He usually loses.

For the first few rounds he'll look sharp, snapping back the kid's head with stiff jabs and keeping him at bay with veteran defense and slick movement. The scorecards will go in the vets direction and he'll be looking good. The pup will be frustrated, seething at his inability to find his elder's head and lacking the composure that comes with experience.

It doesn't last though. Old bones don't move as quick as they once did. Old nerves can't fire as fast and the youngster is learning, always learning. He catches gramps with an overhead right and you swear you can hear the slap of the leather through your window as well as the TVs speakers. Suddenly old legs are not as steady as they once were and it's just a matter of time. The next few rounds are pops trying to survive, trying to find a way to fend off the barrage and get back in the game. He won't be able to though.

Around round 5 he gets cornered on the ropes and a quick combination puts him down on his knee, dizzy and confused. He gets back up at the count of 7 and tries to steady himself. It's at this point that I usually leave the room. I don't want to see what happens next. I don't want to see a couple more rounds of misery, a few glimmers of hope in a sea of savage blows and gasps for air. I don't want to see eyes get cut up and blood start to flow down wrinkled cheeks. I don't want to see that last moment when the final blow lands, like a steel rivet to the head, and old knees turn to jelly before the body slams into the mat, sweat and blood spraying up. I don't want to see the old man flop around like a fish out of water, unable to rise before the bell. I don't want to watch the victory of the kid where he thanks god for helping him beat the living daylights out of one of his elders and goes off to party. I don't want to see the old guy slink off back to his family, knowing that his shot is done and he doesn't have enough money to keep them going. Knowing that he's got to do something but not knowing what it is.

Of course sometimes the old guy wins. He teaches the whippersnapper a thing or three about gumption and heart and he edges out a decision or even sends the kid to the canvas with a lesson eloquently delivered by a counter left that arced over a right glove left a little low. He grins like the cat that ate the canary and focuses on his next fight. He's only got a few left in him, make them count. The kid will come back to fight another day, besides he doesn't have a wife and kids to provide for. Gramps wanted it more and he got it.

That's rare though. They don't showcase young kids on TV to have them beaten up by fading 37 year olds who never made it big. They don't want the old guy to win.

But I do.

Don't get me wrong, boxing can be a great sport to watch when it's two younger fighters who both have time to recover from a loss, or two superstars so rich that they don't need to worry about the future, they're doing it for the love of the game. There's nothing like the thrill of an action fight, with more bombs than the basement of a mosque and sweat and blood sprayed everywhere. Or the beauty of a tactical match, where the sweet science earns its name and intelligence matches with pure physicallity to produce a fight that's thrilling even if it's destined to go to the cards.

I like boxing. I don't think it should be banned.

Call me sentimental, I just don't like to see the old guys lose. Nobody does TV shows on what happens to them afterwards, but it's not nearly as pretty as Oscar De La Hoya's left hook.
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    Bruce Springstein