Friday, July 31, 2009

Life imitates art far more than art imitates life

Oscar Wilde once said it. I figured it would be a good quote to kick off this entry, which may or may not result in a barrage of entries.

On a whim I went to go see "Funny People" earlier tonight. The movie itself was nothing great - a few good laughs, halfway decent storyline, but it just dragged on. One thing that kept me interested enough to stay seated was the connection I had to the characters and situations in the film. It was nothing very deep, just being able to relate to Adam Sandler's character who blew it with his one and only true love, neglected family and friends, and in turn was left alone in despair at what seemed to be the end of his life.

Okay, so I am not a lonely, dying, world famous comedian, but as far as relationship regrets go, I have mine. I may or may not have let that "one true love" go, I am pretty sure I have neglected family and friends, resulting in strained relationships, and it is for certain that I have had moments, if not hours, days and weeks, of desperation. But, I have gotten through it all, I feel it has made me a better person, and I am definitely in a better point, if not the best, in my life.

But, I will get into the details of that stuff later (in future entries). Back to the topic at hand: life imitating art.

So, while "Funny People" was not worth an hour of my hard labor, there was an inkling of a lesson to be learned from it. (TEASER ALERT: Skip to the next paragraph if you do not want to ruin the end of the movie.) After an extremely long drawn out series of events, "George" (Sandler's character) ends up without his ex (the love of his life). Not what you would expect from your typical romantic-comedy (which, despite what the trailer may want to believe - this film is). It's kind of refreshing, the not-so-happy ending. (Oh god, how badly I want to see "500 Days of Summer")

If you've ever read "Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs," or have half a brain, you know that media, or "art" has so much influence on our lives, on so many levels of consciousness. Hence, life imitating art, in my humble opinion. In other words, I almost forced that connection I had with George. I took the character I felt I associated most with, and made him, me; or me, him. Either way, I checked my id and ego at the door and let "George" and Ryan become one.

This is not the first time in recent memory that I have let myself slip away into the oblivion of media: television, film, music or otherwise.

I have been making an attempt at songwriting lately. Problem is, I am not a musician. I consider myself a decent poet, but I lack the ability to put my lyrics to any sort of beat or melody. In other words I can not make art of my life (musically), so instead I take music and relate it to my life. I listen to songs and figure out how they relate to my life. It's not hard to do, considering the things I've been through in my 25 years, but it just seems so lackluster, so pointless. It can be very therapeutic, and at times even inspiring, but I fear that my art is simply an imitation of someone else's art, which might be an imitation of yet, someone else's art.

So, in a way Mr. Wilde makes a point. But I only think his words are true because life imitates art far more easier than art imitates life. To put it another way, in a society such as ours - full of capitalists, uberconsumers, wannabes, celebrities, celebrity wannabes, posers, robots, ignorance and the like - original thought is a dying art, like letter writing or chivalry.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Malaise & Magnificence

I have been avoiding a lot of things for awhile now. While I can rightfully chalk it up to a bunch of exterior problems (the dogs, Jim being away, a new love interest, etc.) the truth is that I just have not had the energy to commit to anything outside of my day-to-day lately. My lifestyle, along with my recent bout of [love] have handicapped me. Or, as my friend Chris would say: I am in a state of malaise.

To speak of the devil, while contradicting my last statement, I have been in a magnificent mood lately. This is thanks to the aforementioned bout of [love]. I say [love] because I am scared. I recently gave up on the idea of "love" entirely.

With divorce rates as high as they are here, looking into other cultures which either view marriage as a joke or have no concept of it at all, and losing what I thought was the love of my life to some invalid(s), I came to the sobering conclusion that love is much of a fairytale as Santa Claus.

I suppose such is life: a battle of ups and downs, a story of opposing forces (just like Star Wars). Though, it's not always about good and evil. Sometimes it's about me and you. And we both have good and evil inside of us; so essentially we are battling ourselves, our ids and our egos. Which is about as retarded as it gets.

Why, as humans, do we hold back from happiness? Why are we so insecure? Why are we so afraid of life? It must be that we have become so comfortable with death. We no longer fear death, so we must fear life. Epic fail.

Monday, July 13, 2009

When the Cubs win the World Series

Reminiscing while watching the Home Run Derby.

I have few complaints about my life. My past has had its flaws, just as my present does and there is no doubt my future will, but the positive moments and experiences have far outweighed the negative ones. But I would hate to die without seeing the Cubs win the World Series.

Don't let anyone say that it's just a game.
For I've seen other teams and it's never the same.
When you're born in Chicago, you're blessed and you're healed.
First time (every time!) you walk into Wrigley Field.

I don't remember my first Cubs game. I wanna say this is because I was too young. Born and raised to bleed Cubby Blue, I'm pretty sure this is the case. Unlike my dad, who got to go to countless games as a child (when tickets were affordable), I only get the chance to go to a few games a season, but I think that makes Wrigley Field an even more magical place. Just ahead of the racetrack, Wrigley is my happiest place on Earth.

Our heroes wear pinstripes; heroes in blue.
They give us the chance to feel like hero's too.
Whether we'll win, and if we should lose

I never really had a "hero" growing up, but if I had to choose one person I admired as a kid it was Ryne Sandberg. His name was close to mine, and he was the star player when I first remember being a Cubs fan. But I really looked up to the whole team. And today I do as well. The Cubs have not won the World Series in 101 years, but they still draw more fans across the country than pretty much any other team out there. There is something to be said about both the team and their following.

We are one with the Cubs, with the Cubs we're in love.
Yeah hold our head high as the underdog.
We are not fair weather but foul weather fans!
We're like brothers in arms in the streets and the stands.

Anytime I meet someone new, one of my first questions is "Cubs fan?"
If the answer is yes, there is an instant bond. Whether you grew up in Wrigleyville or South Dakota, if you're a Cubs fan, you are a Northsider.

There's magic in the ivy and the old scoreboard.
The same one I stared at as a kid keeping score.
A world full of greed I could never want more.

It's really the simplest thing two people could bond over, baseball. It's more interesting than the weather, the season is the longest of all professional sports (leaving only a few months of irrelevance), and everyone has a unique opinion about their favorite team. No wonder baseball is synonymous with apple pie regarding being "American."

And here's to the men and the legends we've known.
Teaching us faith and giving us hope.
United we stand and united we'll fall
Down to our knees the day we win it all.

As Americans, Chicagoans and Northsiders, we share this superiority complex: we love winning and hate losing. As Chicagoans we are used to winning. Look at the Bulls in the 90's; we had, arguably the best basketball star to ever play the game. But as Northsiders we have been losing for over 100 years now, and we continue to pack the stands and back our team. We have had some great talent come through our town but nothing resembling the likes of MJ. We had a great #23 of our own, a #10, a #14 and my personal favorite, #21. But these numbers are just few of the greats who have played for the Cubs over the years. We never had a Jordan, but we've always had a solid team: a group of talented players who knew how to play the game as a team.

Yeah Ernie Banks said, "Oh let's play two."
Or did he mean 200 years?
In the same ballpark, our diamond, our jewel.
The home of our joy and our tears.

Speaking of good, old #14...
The thing about the Cubs is that they are more than a team. They often refer to the Cubs as an organization. Once a Cub, always a Cub. Ask any player in the MLB. Everyone wants to be a Cub. Best fans, best park, best city. Sandberg coaches in the farm system, Santo is as much of a legend as a broadcaster as he was a player, and countless vets scout, report or coach for this team. The Cubs are a family.

Keeping traditions and wishes made new.
The place where our grandfathers' fathers they grew.
A spiritual feeling if I ever knew.
And if you ain't been I am sorry for you.

Even Cards and Sox fans agree, Wrigley has a feeling about it. Everyone should see a ballgame on the Northside once in their life. It is the only place where a seven dollar Old Style is justifiable.

And when the day comes, when that last winning run,
And I'm crying and covered in beer.
I'll look to the sky and know I was right.

Being a Cubs fan is a privilege and a responsibility. You have to be born or married into it. And from that point on, you're cursed for life. But you'll never know a better time than getting wasted in the bleachers with your fellow Cubby Blue. And when that fateful October night finally rolls around...

Someday we'll go all the way.
Yeah! Someday we'll go all the way.

...It will have all been worth it.

I kicked today's ass.

Having Mondays off is probably the best thing ever. You can actually get the stuff you said you we're going to get done over the weekend, done. Plus you get to see the dead look on the faces of all the poor saps who had to go back to work today.

Anyhow, I figured I would sleep in til nine, which I did, took all three dogs for separate walks/bike rides, got back to catch the second half of Price is Right and got to hang out with one of my new favorite people before she had to go to work (sucker). For me that sounds like a pretty decent day. But that wasn't even half of it.

First, after bidding ado to my female friend, I went to get my paycheck. Getting paid on a day off is awesome. I then rode the bike to the bank for cashing and headed downtown to enjoy this beautiful weather. There I stopped at Exile on Main Street and picked up the Crusive/Ladyfinger release (left over from Record Store day) and the Wilco EP (to go along with the new album).

As I rode through downtown Champaign I came across two very interesting individuals. First there was this black dude (looked like he could possibly be homeless) standing in front of the vacuum store yelling about "salvation," "revelation," and "the truth."
I see homeless guys yelling all the time (mostly in Chicago) but this guy was louder than any street crier I have heard before. It was pretty crazy.
Then there was the world's creepiest old man, dressed in all white- shoes, socks, pants, shirt, jacket and hat, along with a white as snow beard to match. The creepiest part was that he was standing directly in front of the door to the adult arcade, as if to block anyone from entering or exiting. Creepy. I wanted to take his picture but then again...

So after leaving downtown and heading home I found a bike seat just lying on the sidewalk. It was one of those soft, comfy ones (as opposed to my hard as a rock one). So I grabbed it and once I got home removed my crappy seat and replaced it with the new one. You can thank me now or you can thank me later, ass.

Also, I stopped at the Dollar General where the woman in front of me had a cart full of cheap crap, totaling $138. At the dollar store. I think she had bought one of everything. I laughed and I think she heard me but whatever, she's crazy.

Anyhow, it's only five o'clock, so I hope this day continues to be awesome. Actually, it is right now, because I'm about to play my new vinyl and eat the Toblerone I purchased at the DG. Haven't had one of these in years. Yum.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Let's go to the movies!

I haven't been to a movie theater since I moved down here, and even before that it had probably been a month or two- so in total, nearly a year since I had seen a film on the big screen, until last night.

Even since seeing the first trailer for "Bruno" a couple of months back, I have been telling my roommate that we would see it at midnight. And I'm not a midnight movie person. I'm not a big fan of the "epic series" films such as "Lord of the Rings" or "Batman," but have been dragged kicking and screaming to these debuts on numerous occasions. I fell asleep during the 3D Harry Potter and at least two of the "LotR" films. I despised "The Dark Knight" though the overall experience of the night (hosting an hour and a half long rock-paper-scissors tournament in the theater prior to the previews after drinks with a group of a couple dozen friends) was fun and well worth the nine dollars paid for admittance. But the idea of having to be the first to see a film just seems absurd to me.

So this is where you call me a hypocrite. While my roommate was out of town, I did find a coworker who shared my interest in "Bruno." We looked online and saw that both theaters in the area were having midnight showings.

Unlike in the suburbs, where one must buy tickets days in advance, get to the theater at least two hours before the show and stand in lines filled with ridiculous fanatics dressed in costume, I figured we could get away with showing up at 11:15, buy tickets and get decent seats with time to spare.

Well, we walked into the Savoy 16 theater and stood at the box office counter for five minutes as a crowd of 20 or so people gathered behind us. The employees were cleaning the concession stand, which didn't even appear to be open and completely ignored us. Finally I walked up to the nearest worker, figuring the show was sold out.

"We have no midnight show. Sorry."

Damn you lying internets!

So, as we walked out, severely disappointed, I had to be the bearer of bad news to the remainder of moviegoers hoping to see "Bruno." They also had been misinformed by the web.

We called Carmike Theater in Champaign as we crossed our fingers and drove North. They indeed did have a midnight showing, and tickets were still available! We paid $5.75 for a seat(!) and had time to stop at concessions for a beverage, walked into the theater at 12:00 on the dot, and had our pick of adjacent seats.

Champaign continues to amaze me. Life down here is so much easier in so many aspects.

Anyhow, the movie was ridiculous, in a good way. Not quite "Borat" but never a dull moment in 83 minutes of film. Sasha Baron Cohen is a genius and I hope he continues to shock the world with this kind of stuff. It's not the same old, same old, which half of what makes it work.

Amongst the crowd, composed almost entirely of 17-25 year olds there was not one obnoxious person. Sure, the younger ones talked the the previews (consisting of flop comedies and a Megan Fox horror flick), but once the words "Feature Presentation" came on the screen you could hear crickets...

For about five seconds, until "Hi, I'm Bruno..." and the audience simultaneously burst into laughter.

The whole experience was great. And despite the lackluster coming attractions, I realized that there are plenty of movies worth paying at least $5.75 for in the near future.

Call me what you will, but a)Zoey Deschannel is HOT (and an awesome actress/singer/songwriter) and b)"500 Day of Summer" looks to break the barrier of what the past ten years have defined as "romantic comedy." Of course, there have been a few diamonds in the rough: "Garden State," "Love Actually" and "Eternal Sunshine," but the genre itself has become a joke in recent years.

I'm just pumped about seeing movies again. I have been renting/downloading/catching old classics on cable lately but there really is nothing like the movie going experience. Thank god there are finally films worthy of a "date night" rather than something that begins with "Not Another" or ends with "3," "4" or "5."

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Working on a Dream

Since Day One, I have been working on a dream. Perhaps I found it at one point, or maybe more than one, but I lost it. Or maybe it's all part of the "grand scheme."

I really don't know. I don't think anyone does. No one has any clue what life is all about and if they say they do they are kidding themselves. Life is not about figuring things out- it's about enjoying it; and once you are able to do that, things will figure themselves out. (Wow, the "old me" has finally reemerged.)

I loved questioning everything, but life is too short for that. You have to take risks, live everyday like it's your last, dance like no one is watching and dream... as if there is no tomorrow while hoping for eternity. Like James Dean and Elanor Roosevelt said.

Days, weeks and years pass. Hopes and dreams are great, but we can not hold onto the past nor live in the future. The present is all we have. So, seize the day. Carpe Diem! The only moment that matters is this one.

Kids, the best piece of advice I ever received was this: BE HERE NOW. So, make the most of every waking moment. Never be afraid. Look fear in the eye and say, "FUCK YOU!"

Don't forget your past, but don't dwell on it. Forgive and forget, and move on. Don't think too much about the future, because nothing is promised. Accept the here and now, and more importantly, embrace it. Take in the sights, sounds, smells, and the company. Love your fellow man. Don't hate. Open your mind and your heart to what is standing in front of you right now, and love it.

No matter where you are in life, down and out or rich and famous, you must know that others have been in worse conditions than you are now. So, focus on the good in life. Not material things, social status or the like, but your happiness. You have it, deep down, we all do as humans. We all have an inner happiness. Meditate. Or f you can not, listen to a favorite song (sad or happy), or a favorite radio station, or call a friend. (My phone is always on.)

We need to come together as a race, the human race. We are all in this together: rich, poor; famous, forgotten; male, female; black, white and otherwise...

I know this is not a typical blog entry of mine, but I will leave you with the lyrics to a very special song to me, and hopefully it makes sense...

Do You Realize - that you have the most beautiful face
Do You Realize - we're floating in space -
Do You Realize - that happiness makes you cry
Do You Realize - that everyone you know someday will die

And instead of saying all of your goodbyes - let them know
You realize that life goes fast
It's hard to make the good things last
You realize the sun doesn't go down
It's just an illusion caused by the world spinning round

Do You Realize - Oh - Oh - Oh
Do You Realize - that everyone you know
Someday will die -

And instead of saying all of your goodbyes - let them know
You realize that life goes fast
It's hard to make the good things last
You realize the sun doesn't go down
It's just an illusion caused by the world spinning round

Do You Realize - that you have the most beautiful face
Do You Realize