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Posts in Category: Become What You Are

Crazy from the Heat: A Story of Survival

People who know me well know I hate heat. I hate summer. I hate sweating. I hate humidity. I hate insects. I hate that I’m inconveniently allergic to all living things, small or large, especially grass (and it’s not like there’s much of that!). There’s a lot of hate to go around when it comes to summer. I like the chilly decay of autumn and the brutal, nut-frosting cold of winter. The only thing that bothers me about winter is the way traffic grinds to a halt if it starts flurrying. Numerous almost-ending-up-in-a-ditch moments have allowed me to tolerate people driving more carefully in an actual snowstorm, but when there’s salt on the road and barely anything coming down, drive the fucking speed limit or kill yourselves so I don’t have to get stuck behind you, you goddamn retards.

But I digress…

Heat bothers me. Last summer’s career-crisis-induced panic attacks were only exacerbated by the sweltering heat and the terrifying specter of anaphylaxis. I haven’t had an issue with that this year, thanks to months of intensive emotional exploration and some magic pills, but there’s still the heat. The fucking heat!

Right now, as I type this, my desk is sticky with humidity. I repeat: my desk, which is 100% indoors, is hot, sticky-sweet, from its head to its feet, yeah. Which fucking sucks, man.

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Another Pointless Song Post

The jury’s still out on whether or not this post exists to make up for the fact that I forgot to post the “classic” entries last week, or if it’s to punish you for reading this blog in the first place.

Whatever the case, I’m going to share a lot of (mostly worthless) flotsam and jetsam from my illustrious home-recording career. I also intend to share a metric shit-ton of rambling backstory regarding each song or set of songs.

Enjoy!

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A Musical Tribute to Failure

I was gonna change the world…
But I’m not gonna change the world…
I was gonna change my ways…
But I have not changed…

I try not to dwell on feelings of failure, which is difficult considering the heady combination of low self-esteem and poor decisions that guides my life. It’s easy to beat on myself for laying out goals and falling short of them, but there’s something to be said for putting forth the effort, even if I don’t achieve what I want in the exact way that I want it.

Let’s have a seat on the porch while I grab my whittlin’ stick and tell you how things were back in Granpappy Bates’s day. I grew up right on the cusp of the touchy-feely era of the blandly supportive “everyone gets a trophy” mentality. When I was a kid and played sports, and sucked at them, I didn’t get a trophy. I didn’t have a cheerful coach saying, “Good effort!” in an upbeat, sing-songy way. I got yelled at by the coaches, ridiculed by my teammates, and ashamed looks from my dad. That’s the way things are supposed to be. Because it undoubtedly contributed to the kneecapping of my self-esteem, but it also helped me deal with rejection, failure, and the abject humiliation of the hilariously incompetent. It motivated me to find areas where I could excel, such as writing terrible grunge songs and beating the shit out of people who were 1-2% nerdier than I was. I miss junior high.

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Don’t Preorder

[I intended to write a new Cannon Corner today, but I had shit to do, so I didn’t get a chance to watch any Cannon films over the weekend. Let’s say it’ll happen next week!]

I cannot express in words my love for Albert Brooks. For Defending Your Life alone, he sits high on my pantheon of comedy gods, just below Woody Allen and George Carlin. But he also created Comedy Plus One, Lost in America, Real Life, Mother, Modern Romance, postmodern standup (a precursor to the alt-comedy of today, only funny), and even Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World. That last is the shakiest entry on his list of accomplishments, but give it a chance. It goes down more smoothly if you understand how Brooks’s standup works, but even without that knowledge, it has a ton of genuine, big laughs.

When it was announced, after what many (including me) assumed was unofficial retirement from the cinematic auteur game, his first-ever novel would be published, I got excited. Not many filmmakers can make that transition (ever read Ethan Coen’s fiction?), but I figured Brooks would be a natural fit. Like Woody Allen, his films come across like works of the hyper-literate (he’s just not as insecure and show-offy about it as Allen); his comedy comes mainly from deconstructing conventions and contemplating the human condition. Plus, he knows how to construct a joke, which makes it easier to bear the possibility of slogging through crappy writing.

An effusive New York Times review and compelling Adam Carolla interview had me salivating for it. I did something I’ve never done before: preordered a book at a reasonably high price.

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Podcast: Subject to Change, Episode 5: Readers

D.B. gets bored waiting for Tarini, so he amuses himself by playing a couple of Bruce Springsteen songs. Then, he and Tarini talk about the various and sundry horrors of script-reading, prompting D.B. to talk about Choose for the 983rd time. Tarini also reviews Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (contains spoilers!).

Press the “Play” button to listen.

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Reader — Chapters 32-34

I had something in my head to complain about yesterday, but I never got to blogging, and now I forgot it. So, instead, here are three 100% context-free chapters of the novel I’ve been working on, Reader. They’re unpolished, first-draft chapters, which means they’re going to be awesome. Enjoy!

For those interested in the progress, I’ve divided the story into five sections, giving it what I pretentiously think of as a Shakespearean five-act structure. These three chapters come toward the end of the first section. Right now, I’m early in section three.

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Chickenshit, or: Is It Really a Good Idea to Keep Telling My Readers to Go Fuck Themselves?

So here’s the thing: I drive like the sanest maniac around. Some might consider my driving tactics worrisome, but my mind is blazing like an octocore system solely devoted to the task of what, back in driver’s ed, they called the IPDE process. Identify, predict, decide, execute. That is all I’m doing, and my combination of rapid analysis and hair-trigger reflexes causes me to brazenly weave in and out of traffic at 10-15 miles per hour over the legal limit without fear for my personal safety or the safety of others.

I know what some of you are thinking. “That won’t get you any further in the long run. Slow and steady wins the race.” Fuck you! And fuck Aesop. Rush-hour lights are on timers. When you drive the same route day in and day out, you memorize the timers. So yes, it will get me further in the long run, because if I’m not blasting down the road at 55 miles per hour, a very long light will turn red before I barrel through the intersection.

But I use my powers of maniacal driving judiciously. I don’t go any more than five over the limit down residential streets, usually hanging at the speed limit because you never know when some half-retarded kid on a bike will speed past an intersection without clearing traffic. So then I become the guy who people tailgate because they’re fucking dicks who don’t care about the children and small animals who are either too stupid or too slow to get out of the way.

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Critical Ambivalence

Let’s talk about likability.

I don’t mean characters. This isn’t a screenwriting lecture. This is an arbitrary observation about the likability quotient of an overall film. A borderline intangible subject, I realize, but I don’t have anything else I want to write about in such a public forum, so this is it. Instead of watching a Cannon film this weekend, I watched The Claim.

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New Girl

I swear to God, at least two people who barely know me have asked this question, and since I couldn’t think of anything else to write about it, why not make it this?

Zooey Deschanel, my lady love since ~2002*, will be starring in a weekly sitcom called New Girl. This seems ideal, and yet—here’s where the blog-specific controversy kicks in—the creator and executive producer is my arch-nemesis, Liz Meriwether, writer of a script entitled Fuckbuddies. Now, Fuckbuddies made me angry, but one terrible script isn’t quite enough for me to cast aside my beloved Zooey. The fifteen endless, painful minutes I spent trying to watch No Strings Attached—that’s enough to cast her aside, and then some.

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On Punch-Drunk Love

In what’s bound to be my most topical post in months, I’d like to talk about Paul Thomas Anderson’s 2002 film Punch-Drunk Love. I haven’t seen it since it came out, at which time it ranked as my least favorite Anderson film and my third-favorite Adam Sandler film. (This is the one opinion of mine that hasn’t changed; at the time of its release, I’d only seen Magnolia and every Adam Sandler star vehicle ever made. Since then, I’ve caught up on Anderson’s filmography and found myself blown away by Hard Eight, then There Will Be Blood, and finally Boogie Nights.

About a year ago, I had a hankering to see Punch-Drunk Love again. It’s taken me this long to get to it, and the results will in no way surprise you: it remains a big, ramshackle mess, almost anchored by a career-best performance from Sandler and beautiful, artsy-fartsy cinematography by Anderson’s go-to cinematographer, Robert Elswit.

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