The Cover Song of Life

Pardon the Construction, I'm Trying to Build a Voice

Fear Off

Inspired by (and sent to) Paul Gilmartin’s wonderful podcast The Mental Illness Happy Hour, a list of my fears (part 1)!

I’m afraid my narcolepsy will kill me in a very embarrassing manner, like driving into oncoming traffic or falling into an industrial folding machine in a factory. Someone will then post the footage to Youtube creating a viral sensation that will eventually receive commentary/narration by Tom Bergeron.

I’m afraid there will never be a cure for said narcolepsy and I’m stuck taking pills that help for an hour or two before the next tidal wave of exhaustion.

I’m afraid the diet that I’m on as a means for more energy will only cause me to lose the little weight I have, rendering me the lifeless husk I was as a teenager.

I’m afraid I’ll never know what it’s like to feel well-rested and refreshed.

I’m afraid that my parents have become too codependent to actually have friends, thus causing a “Where the Red Fern Grows” effect when one of them inevitably dies.

I’m afraid my brilliant brother will, once again, burden himself with so much work that he’ll lose his mind, but this time he’ll follow through and kill himself, leaving me only with an immortal guilt and a stack of his old computer games.

I’m afraid the reason no one speaks to me in my workplace is that everyone thinks I’m a creep, but no one will say anything about it except to my supervisor.

I’m afraid to get lawyers involved in any civil situation even when I know I’ve been legally wronged.

I’m afraid that any new friends I make to replace the ones that have forgotten about me will inevitably repeat this cycle.

I’m afraid I will be unable to break free from the stagnant, joyless life I’m currently leading, stuck admiring friends off having adventures in foreign countries while I have shouting matches with out-of-touch old men about getting a standing office.

I’m afraid my last relationship was far more emotionally abusive than I had ever considered and I need serious help in recovering from it.

I’m afraid the girl from that abusive relationship will continue to haunt my dreams forever, always serving as a symbol created by my subconscious as “A desire I can never have,” leaving me a crumpled mess, sitting in bed shaking violently.( P.S. My subconscious is actually Lars Von Trier.)

I’m afraid I will never learn how to spend a weekend by myself without being a complete waste of space.

I’m afraid I will never take satisfaction with anything I create or accomplish, even if it gets me the kind of creative job or attention I desire.

I’m afraid I’ll die from a mysterious disease that has never been documented, but they’ll name it after the asshole doctor who stood by and watched me rot.

I’m afraid that if I ever get the balls to perform standup or some other recorded medium, my first attempts will be met with complete silence.

Quirking Overtime

I sometimes leave on my headphones after shutting off my MP3 player. Occasionally, they won’t even be plugged in. This is usually done to let people know that I’m too busy rocking out to be bothered with whatever fire they’re trying to warn me about. I’m sure smoke inhalation while pretending to listen to Andrew W.K. isn’t the worst way to go.

I often assign drastic symbolism to trivial objects or tasks. I had a scarf that I took immense pride in, for it had a precious memory infused into it. I wore that scarf with full San Francisco Giants gear to game 1 of the NLCS in Philadelphia. On the train ride home, standing as the only person in black and orange amongst the Red Sea, a college-aged gent in a bucket hat shouted, “Hey San Francisco (Note: Not actually my name), nice scarf! It looks very fashionable!” I would like to re-emphasize the bucket hat here. Anyway, my response was “Thanks, my Grammy made it for me!” The guy immediately dropped the subject and my father congratulated me on fending off a drunken heckler, knowing full well that he had purchased that scarf at a second-rate department store for me as a Christmas present. What my father does not know is that if this guy had made a crack about my Grammy, I would’ve brought him into this asking, “You gonna let this punk kid talk about your mother like that?” (I left that scarf at a Red Robin. For all the positive emotion I hold toward that scarf, I possess a similar level of contempt at that burger establishment for losing my scarf within 30 minutes of my departure.)

I adore factory seconds and their fascinating irregularities. They remind me of people, so similar yet containing just the slightest imperfections that make them all unique (SEE ABOVE). The bag of Jelly Belly factory seconds are so cute; they’re called “Belly Flops.”

I decorate my room with ludicrous objects that people question why such a thing was even made. Example, 12” suicide bomber action figure, complete with explosive vest and pajama pants. Another example, an empty box of Neopets cereal. What about a hamburger puzzle box?

Web forums frighten me. Specifically, the negative energy stored within. It’s like some secret wormhole to the negaverse. This may also be the reason I haven’t found anyone to discuss my extremely specific and likely outdated interests. Ultimately, I feel it’s just a place for people to release all the stress and ill-will they generate from their daily grind and it’s probably healthier to do it at strangers on the Internet than at their family or significant other.

My house could burn down and I could lose everything and the only thing I miss would be my mattress. C’mon I could probably just buy all those books again. And those few I could probably just get autographed again. And I could write in them and underline them all in the same exact spots. Or at least close enough.

I’ve been driving the same car for 7 years and I just found out it had cruise control. Also, I learned what cruise control means! I thought it was just something made up for Speed.

I own a Zune. And a Pez Dispenser. And that 1989 Fleer Billy Ripken card with the obscenity on the bat handle; it sits next to his brother Cal’s 1997 Fleer Metal Universe where it looks like he’s running from Satan.

Math Nonsense

The only number that is the same as its value in Scrabble is twelve.

Love Off

Inspired by the recurring segment of Paul Gilmartin’s The Mental Illness Happy Hour podcast, I tried the exercise of creating a list of loves in my life. I’d love to add to this at a later date, although I intend to try the Fear Off next.

I love eating something, often a dessert that involves the words “peanut butter” and “chocolate,” that makes me close my eyes and shut off all other senses other than the euphoria present in my mouth.
I love the support from the sidelines my parents have given me throughout the years.
I love the inspiration my friends provide, especially the ones that have ventured toward unorthodox goals.
I love the efforts of my closest friends to assist me in developing into a person I’m proud to be. I still don’t know what that will be like, but that will come in time.
I love taking a nap in the afternoon, especially if it’s outside on a bright spring day.
I love making a strong throw from third base to gun down a runner at first.
I love when strangers initiate a high-five with me.
I love receiving a hug from someone outside of my family.
I love the moment when someone cannot hold themselves up straight from laughing so hard at something I’ve said, for that’s truly what I strive for.
I love finding someone new that will play with me.
I love watching someone that’s better than me at a given hobby perform.
I love taking a part of the day for introspection.
I love hearing the other side of the story (taken from Bald Bryan Bishop)
I love when someone can connect and riff with me on silly subjects.
I love removing my belt at the end of the day.
I love taking the first bite of some disaster created from a brand new recipe.
I love when a friend asks me to help them.
I love curling up in bed with sheets fresh out of the dryer.
I love hearing suggestions or criticisms
I love the efforts of entertainers to bring a little extra sunshine to everyone’s day.
I love the feeling of satisfaction after completing a physical feat for the first time.
I love The New Sincerity.
I love out-of-genre cover songs and art that blends pop culture with drastically different styles.
I love being pleasantly surprised by the people around me.
I love receiving hand-written letters and the mail and book orders from Amazon.
I love new ideas, no matter how ridiculous or cumbersome they may be.
I love being the only car on the highway.
I love finding out that a new friend is secretly into the same things as me.
I love the moment on a date when both my own and my date’s nervousness disappear.
I love introducing someone to a form of entertainment or hobby and watching them run with it.
I love being cared for when I’m sick.
I love when a waiter or waitress engages me in conversation before ordering, especially if I’m eating alone.
I love the “Eureka!” moment when I successfully comprehend a confusing part of my past.
I love excessive positivity and the effect it has on my mental state.
I love dollar coins. I’m not sure why, but I get mega-excited when I can use one in a vending machine.
I love attending a professional baseball game.
I love receiving a book autograph.
I love the potential that’s out there waiting for me.

The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra, The Lost Enjoyment of MST3K

(Note: One of my objectives in writing here is to really clean up and organize my thoughts on various subjects. This one is terribly scattered and disjointed, but I decided to post it anyway and then work on a heavily edited version later. I’ll likely leave this one up for comparison’s sake. As always, I’m open for any critiques, criticisms, flames, screaming matches, and the like)

I, like many other white kids growing up, enjoyed the hell out of Mystery Science Theater 3000. Joel Hodgson, Mike Nelson, and the voices of Crow and Tom Servo (Trace Beaulieu/Bill Corbett and Josh Weinstein/Kevin Murphy for when I watched) gave us all a tutorial in identifying just how ridiculous some films were and in providing relatively benign, family-friendly humor at the film’s expense. While I’m likely falling into confirmation bias territory, kids don’t understand that movies have variable quality. For boys, it often comes down to if the movie has any action in it whatsoever, possibly with accompanying silly animal voices. Growing up, my father allowed me to choose the movie we’d see because that’s the sort of person my father is, willing to suffer through whatever nonsense appealed to eight or nine year old sensibilities. As a side note, this was a recent realization and I recently felt it necessary to tell him how much I’ve loved him for that (Request: Tell your dad you love him and not because it’s Fathers’ Day). This is a man that suffered through Speed 2: Cruise Control, Pokemon: The First Movie, and Joe’s Apartment in theaters just to have a day out with his son. I remember very little of any of these, except that I came out with a smile for each and every one. I didn’t know any better or at least until my exposure to MST3K. Then, suddenly Bad Movie Nights became a thing. Friends would get together and joke their way through Robo-Vampire, Scarecrow, and The Nail Gun Massacre, pointing to glaring flaws in makeup, storytelling, acting, or really any other aspect of the movie and, upon reflection, this practice feels pretty darned uncomfortable.

There’s something misanthropic about watching terrible movies with friends. My landlord (a recurring character, I know) once explained that he loves watching directors put out shoddy work because he feels rewarded in taking down a person he believes takes pride in their craft. Isn’t that a terrible thing to do? It’s such a bullyish tendency to cut someone down for their efforts, assuming that all persons involved in the film put in significant effort. While critique and criticism are essential toward any form of development, doing so from the couch, simply to boost one’s own self-esteem is cruel. Is there a common practice of visiting art galleries just to insult the artist’s paintings or sculptures (aside from being a New York Times critic)? Get some friends together and let’s go to Applebee’s, just so we can laugh at the wretched taste of the food we eat! More importantly, I don’t understand why I should watch a terrible film when there are so many beautiful ones out there, waiting to awe and inspire. This is where I feel mixed about The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra.

Spoofing the early schlock horror genre inserts the MST3K vibe into the movie itself, consistently asking me to reminisce of terrible films of yore. I’m sorry, movie, but my watching habits have changed since the days of Bagel Bites, Store Brand Cola, and Bad Movie Night. While your dialog was certainly lively and silly, I don’t really need you bludgeoning me over the head with the few tropes in early horror dialog over and over again; However, you did give me the guilty the urge to invite all the guys over for a Bad Movie Night Redux, which just meant you met your objective. You’re just not the sort of film I’m going to admit to liking on a first date.
At least we did find out the origin story of Siouxsie Sioux – she’s made of forest animals! (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6xlcYcSX_fM)

On The Budding Issue Of Taste

My landlord truly fascinates me. To some end, all people fascinate me because the insides of our bodies are absolutely insane and icky and I have no idea why all our gross insides all got together to form the garage band of our bodies. I lack most understanding of why our bodies work, but also why people do things. Why do we pay equal price for fruit on the bottom yogurt if we’re just going to mix it anyway? Why do we still offer blessings after someone sneezes, but not for any other nonconsensual body emission? Oh, that’s a burp; that one’s your bad. Not everyone I misunderstand at the same level however. For example, I possess a relatively healthy level of comprehension of my parents and the ways they raised me. By contrast, I likely couldn’t explain anything about any of my exes (although I probably do understand why each one left, or at least more than I’d care to admit). My landlord fits in with the latter category of understanding, the “I give up, let’s go play air hockey or something” category.

The aforementioned bit about the complexities of our body truly terrifies me. With so many interlocking and dependent pieces, it’s only natural that some part is found to be defective or some piece goes awry. After all, it would be foolish notion to run a massive manufacturing plant in China and believe there to be no chance of injury, mental breakdown, or health violation. In my landlord’s case, there appears to be such a vast quantity of minor deviations in him that I cannot even begin to comprehend how the whole functions at all. Imagine a construction site, a building in progress, where all the lumber is bowed, the labor lacks any construction experience, and the location provides a level of comfort somewhere between Superfund site and Chernobyl. Yet against all pleadings and catastrophic predictions, the job was, by some miracle, completed. And what wonder the finished product brought, snatching stability from the icy grasp of gravity and maintaining the remarkable appearance of a playground designed by MC Escher. In this case, I pay that playground my rent every month.
While I could (and probably will later) go into many of these fascinating anomalies, I would like to focus on the matter of taste. Not in the field of pop culture, mind you. This is not a proper medium to complain about another’s love of Family Guy references and Troll 2. Rather, I believe the man has no taste buds. There’s a fine line between having bizarre taste preferences (making tea with hot dog water, for example) and no taste at all, so I’d like to walk through how I’ve come to this conclusion.

I hold weekly movie nights as an effort to inflict my own personal taste on those around me (these are the films mentioned throughout this blog). Being the gracious (ie neurotic) host I am, I often supply popcorn and Stewart’s sodas to guests (Hint hint, show up to my movie nights!). I specifically get Stewart’s since I don’t often drink soda, so when I pick some up, I might as well splurge for the slightly better stuff that doesn’t have the weird pretentious photography all over the sides that Jones has. Cola preferences aside, I think everyone can pick ol’ Stewie’s over Dr. Thunder or Mountain Mist or Walmart Orange Soda. In a recent instance, the landlord grabs a Stewart’s Black Cherry and walks out of the room. Upon asking where he’s going with such a delicious drink, he replies, “Oh, I’m going to pour some Monster into it.” End scene.

Monster is rancid. Its odor is downright, I’m sorry, monstrous. Even the people that drink the stuff like its coffee admit that they just ignore the taste. Combining its alchemical properties with Stewart’s would create some unholy Frankensteinian beverage and would ensue in a similar riot. It’s the equivalent of watering down your top-shelf with Mad Dog 20/20 “just to give it a home-made feel.” This is actively destroying flavor and might just be a crime in many states and commonwealths.

He once held a party at our house and many guests brought various snacks. While there was a table of colorful, store-brand means of intravenously putting sugar into our veins, my landlord introduced me to the “High End” snack table. Now what would you imagine constitutes “High End” snacks? Are these items one would expect to find in the High Rollers room at a casino? Maybe some caviar? A fruit tray? Some hors d’oeuvres? Alas anyone expecting so much as Pigs in a Blanket from “High End” snacks would be gravely disappointed to find a bag of Chips Ahoy (regular) and a package of Fig Newtons. If Fig Newtons are “High End” I’d love to know what Peddridge Farm cookies would be. “Sorry son, you’ll get to have chessmen at your wedding, but only if you marry a rich girl.” “We’re not famous enough to eat Famous Amos’!” “Archway Cookies? Son, we have to siphon gas to get home here, so grab a package of Hydrox and let’s go.”

Now these stories aren’t enough to justify a complete lack of taste buds. However, the hypothesis might become a theory when I throw in pizza with fried calamari, Rice Chex dumped into a Healthy Choice meal, and brownie mix straight out of the box (Brownie mix out of the box while watching a Hoarders marathon – Truly the face of depression). Another housemate explained that several years ago, the landlord used to wander around the house just sticking random objects – car keys, paper clips, chess pieces – into his mouth subconsciously, as an infant would. When asked about it, he wouldn’t even realize he was doing it. Can an adult with taste buds not realize they are sucking on their own car keys? I would imagine not. Can an adult with taste buds use an entire container of cocoa powder for one mug of hot chocolate? Doubtful. Can an adult with taste buds dump orange juice on a salad because “It’s close enough to salad dressing.”? If they do, then I truly understand less about people then I thought.

“The Future” vs. My Future

I would like to get this out of the way first; this movie freaked me the heck out since Miranda July looks eerily similar to an ex that I have, both in appearance and in mannerisms. Did that mean I particularly enjoyed the downward spiral to oblivion that she faced in this movie, by consciously creating a facsimile of emotions between the two? Of course not! That would be rude to all parties involved! And everyone who knows me will tell you first and foremost, “That man is polite to arthouse directors and actors.” That’s usually how I get introduced. Weird, but I’ve heard worse.

Actually, The Future struck me in another way-too-close-to-home way. Miranda July and Hamish Linklater attempt to reinvent their unfulfilling lives by torching their old bridges and rising from the ashes as this grand culturally fulfilling phoenix, ready to live the way most college grads dream about for the first few months after graduation. Of course, this approach ignores fixing the problems that caused the couple to sink into depression in the first place. Please forgive my two sentence summary here, but most character-driven pieces can be haphazardly summarized in probably less. My housemates would probably summarize it with three words, “That was weird,” since it was not as personally impacting.

For a considerable time now, I have felt trapped in my current location. My place of residence, my employment, my geographical location all contributing in bogging me down. The simplest conclusion was that the latitude and longitude lines were the root cause. Moving to another location full of excitement and opportunity and unicorns would solve everything! It’s a sentiment I know is shared amongst many my age. As The Future states, the location or the circumstances aren’t the problem. Me. I am the problem. So how do I cause all of these worries?

To begin with an example, my abject loneliness was a result of not adapting to my social environment. I still don’t know how to meet people or talk to strangers. Moving across the country would not make me a shining beacon of extroversion, but may actually create a worse scenario – similar circumstances now with no safety net of friends or family nearby. Is the local area boring? Then I’m not looking hard enough. Educating myself on how to truly live is going to be a long, arduous, and probably painful process, but yet it has far more potential than shipping my goods (both my material possessions and you know, my “goods”) to Seattle or Los Angeles or Transylvania and being worn and pitiful and lonely.

A friend asked if I would recommend this movie and I’m unsure that I can. My opinion of it is a solely personal and emotional reaction that will likely fluctuate wildly, as such emotions do. Think of the American Beauty trend, where a viewer loves the film for several years before they feel shame for ever appreciating it (which is pretty ironic, given the subject). Maybe Ms. July’s film will hold the same fleeting place in my heart, but for now I’m going to give it all the respect and adoration I possibly can. You’ve spoken to me, Ms. July, and I can empathize all too well.

Shortcuts in Friendship – Facebook

Recently, I met someone new, someone friendly, someone willing to pick a fight with me over who has more freckles. (For the record, although I have a great interdivision record amongst us brown-haired people, brunettes and whatever the male equivalent is – brunes or brunos or something, my record really suffers in interleague matchups with the National Redhead League.) As us shallow youthful techno-savages do, we became official “Facebook Pals” and despite the initial conversations had upon greeting and introduction, the true test began. While you may not be able to judge a book by its cover, I’m fairly certain you’re allowed to judge someone by their cover photo. Or in this case, by their online activity.

In the vast majority of cases, I truly do not mind the unusual lifestyles of others. How could I when I live with two people who believe they’re descended from dragons? I only ask that if you claim you have certain beliefs or lifestyles, actually follow through on it. If you say you’re a Catholic, go to Mass. If you identify as a starving artist, I want to see your ribs through your vest. If you say you’re into Olde Religion, I want to see you raising a new stone for your druids’ circle. That being said, when exploring the massively creepy shortcut to friendship known as “FRIEND’s Facebook Activity Feed,” I was bordering on the need for resuscitation to find “FRIEND likes Michelle Bachmann’s Status.”

My first stage of dealing with such a find was denial, of course. It had to be an ironic gesture! However, that sort of Internet hipsterism might actually be more upsetting then just showing your backing of the words of a certified crazy person. It took a bit of reflection to remember that sometimes crazy folks have something brilliant to say and sometimes the only way to express agreement with such sentiments is to click a little tag underneath it on Facebook. Heck, I bet that if you glanced through the list of my role models, you’d probably find someone that you think is a lune. That’s just how it goes.

Further investigation showed that this new friend of mine also works for Glenn Beck’s campaigns for morality or whatever. Again, this may appear as a red flag to nearly everyone I know, but this goes back to my point about druids. If you’re going to do or believe something on your own accord, at least be passionate about it.

Shit My Landlord Says

- “I’ve never found the women in Playboy attractive. They all just look like characters from The Sims.”

- “It’s not confirmation bias! I’ve met a hundred Chinese people and none of them were weird. Therefore, I can’t see how China can have weird people.”

- “I went to the BDSM Dungeon last night to see if I could find a girl with a, you know, normal side.”

- “I’ve had this massive stomach pain back as far as I can remember. I just figured that that’s how everyone else felt too and it was just how people are.”

- “If the police or township asks, you’re not here commercially.”

- “You’re like the mother of this household, which is nice because my mother died young.”

- “Hey, it’s not my fault that I have a lot in common with seventeen year old girls.”

- “Whenever I eat brownie mix out of the box, I like to watch Hoarders too so I don’t feel so bad about it in comparison.”

- “I really want to move to Sweden. Did you know the age of consent there is fourteen?”

- “I first got the feeling my dad didn’t like me when he was supposed to drive me to school and instead dropped me off at a children’s mental institution.”

 

I have a weird relationship with my landlord.

Traffic Flow And The End Of The World

I am one of those noble troopers, one of those brave souls that muster up enough courage to face the nigh infinite terrors that assault them daily. I am one of those assholes on the road with a lengthy commute. To be fair, the numbers aren’t bad. Forty miles of highway driving, averaging forty-five minutes a pop? Sounds like smooth waters for this cruise controller, facing another straightaway with whatever Podcast was downloaded that morning. This is not a battle, however, that I fight on my own soil. This is New Jersey. And New Jersey driving is chaos. The unpredictable becomes more frequent than normalcy. All driving rules are demoted to “guideline” status by some pirate captain at the board of transportation. Given the doom, the carnage, the vehicular manslaughter, it will not take forty-five minutes unless the winds blow just right. Last night, a dark wind howled.

One look at the roads yesterday and everyone would have assumed the end of the world was coming early. The sky vomited green and black, taking the appearance of a giant bruise stretched across the sky, having been punched by some drunken deity (probably Dionysus). Rain fell in strange patterns. Parked in traffic, my car remained dry as the poor sap in front of me was getting drenched. This had to have been the influence to Stephan King’s “The Mist,” a day that when assessed in the common unit of Vibes, measures at “weird.” The weather patterns weren’t exactly The Day After Tomorrow, but pseudo-science toward the apocalypse has to start somewhere.

Yet spotty weather was not the cause of the many delays. That went to a particularly cruel sight, possibly the most disturbing vision I’ve seen on the road. For such a claim, please understand that the very week I started my current job, I witnessed a car wreck that littered the highway with corpses (True). In this particular instance, there were derelict cars littering the highway. Not off on the shoulder, but just parked in the middle lanes, imitating the music video for R.E.M.’s “Everybody Hurts.” Several in a group might show signs of an accident, but these ghost cars were strewn about every half mile or so, leaving us leftovers of the rapture from some extremely picky god. Deserted cars are usually the first scene of any post-apocalyptic setting, after all, leading to the ultimate conclusion.

The Weekday Warrior lives and dies by his routine. Any deviations from this routine are viewed as the symbolic end of the world, each additional minute spent waiting for coffee creating another crack in the earth’s very structure. An inconvenience is the path to the workman’s Armageddon. However, in this daily commute. The deviation was the beginning of the actual end of the world. Yet I made it home in the end. It wasn’t that bad.

Now come on world. I’m prepared for the real thing.

OBLIGATORY ALTERNATE ENDING: And I feel fine.

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