Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A Love Letter to Having a Day

Dear Having a Day,

Jesus fuck I love having a day.

Requirements for having a day include:

1) totally unplanned
2) probably hungover
3) two or more persons, at least one of which is displaced from their normal residence by at least 500 ft
4) hilarity

It's not necessarily that you are hilarious (although I'm always hilarious, natch) when you're having a day, it's more that, like, when you're having a day, everything is hilarious. Having a day is something we invented. A term we assigned? No, something we Named.

When we have a day we tend to speak in primitive basics: "We are people and we are having a day."

It's never "Hey, can we have a day tomorrow?" It's always "Come play! We are having a day." Sometimes we try to plan it, but whenever we plan we fail.

Sometimes we can see having a day up ahead like a silhouette at sunset, our terrible, inevitable future: "Uh oh, Rassles. We're going to have a day tomorrow aren't we?"

"Yes, Schmee. I'm afraid we might."

Bloomingdale Trail
Sometimes having a day is just wandering around petting strangers' dogs, or an impromptu bar crawl in rain, or deciding to get drunk but instead we just sit around watching Back to the Future MST3K-style. Sometimes we go to Chinatown. Sometimes we walk down the street and collect high-fives. Sometimes we accidentally end up at the Circus Museum in Baraboo. Sometimes we hike the Bloomingdale trail, but not anymore because they're turning it into a sensible, three-mile elevated park. Chicago loses its wilderness foot by foot, day by day.

Sometimes we go see a psychic who tells us that throughout our childhood our usually-absent father, with whom we do not get along, had a secret family in Georgia, and because of his sins we are cursed to never find love unless we pay the psychic $45 a week so she can light giant candles and meditate and cleanse us of our misfortune and woe. Sometimes that psychic describes, in detail, our damaging miscarriage (????????WHUUUT??????). She says we have good business sense, we love our job cuz its what we do best, we do not enjoy reading and are not terribly creative. Sometimes that psychic also says that no man will love us because we are too ugly and intimidating (it was 6pm and I smelled like PBR and my soft pants had schnauzers on them) so we might want to consider settling with a woman just so we aren't so lonely anymore. Sometimes psychics are stupid fucking cunts that try ruin our day, but they fail, and do you know why? Because we are having a fucking DAY, that's why.

Nothing can ruin a day. Spending $25 on a shitty tarot card reading is worth it, and plus? Awesome. She did not list a single accurate or recognizable trait of mine. It was like the exact opposite of a psychic, treading water in the toilet of lies. Seriously, did this witch divine vibes from a stranger on the sidewalk? Who was this stranger? Can I meet her? Would we be friends? I doubt it, we have nothing in common, and half of my apartment is books. Also, absent father? You kidding me? My dad worked from home. I saw him every day. Too ugly to be in a relationship with a man? Foolish, fuckeyed, gypsy harpy, your mystic science is stuh-rate up slander.

But none of that matters, because Sara and I were having a day.

Sometimes when we're having a day we buy all of the champagne at CVS and drink on the porch and yell at people on the street so they'll join us in our day. Sometimes we stay in and turn off all the lights and drink bloody marys and watch Buffy. Shooting the shit, being an idiot within the safe confines of your friends.

It occurs to me that the majority of them when I'm having a day, Schmee is there. Well done, Schmee. We are people and we are good at things.

Love,

Rassles


...

This Love Letters series is for true. Click here for the list so far.

Friday, April 11, 2014

A Love Letter to Diner

Dear Diner,

I love you.

Sure, you're sexist. Then again, you take place in 1959. If you weren't sexist, this would be a fantasy, and your strength is your realism. 

If any movie perfectly illustrates the dynamics of friendship without relying on stereotypes, this is it. You can keep your buddy films and your bromances and your coming-of-age. 

Diner is one of the only movies that leaves me with: Yes. This is how friends behave. This is friendship amongst a group of equals.  It's not about heroes and sidekicks or mentors and students or rivals that 'respect' each other.


I think one of the main reasons I identify with Diner so much is because there are (please don't hate me for where I'm headed, here) so fucking few healthy female friendships represented in popular culture. Why is it that female friends are always jealous and backstabby? My friends aren't like that. If I met a person like that, I would just not be friends with them.

Hollywood has very, very, very low expectations of friendship, especially with women. Stories about camaraderie are usually better friendship barometers than stories about friends.  Movies about growing up that are written or directed by a person who is, simultaneously, coming into their own self, are always the best.
 
Diner's success lies in the level of comfort these actors feel around each other, how they ricochet and couple and strain. I don't think I have a single friend I relate to in the exact same way as another. Friendships are fueled by reflection. It's how you respond to each other, the unique phrases you use, how you reminisce...if you reminisce at all. Some friends are for arguing and debates. Some friends need protection. Some give the best advice, some spill out a slow reveal of our similarities or flagrant differences.

The things that I remember about my friends are the parts that were easy, and those are the things I tell the most.  Staying up all night in on the train to New Orleans with Bobbay, shaking creamers because Muffy told us that if you shook a creamer, it would turn into butter. What did we talk about? Shit, I don't know. Buttermakers? I just know it was effortless and rad, and my favorite part of that trip was getting there. One summer I remember drinking around a fire reading passages from erotic novels with CrazyLiz and Phil and Tyler: I remember the nuances ("You know what word I'm not comfortable with? Nuance. It's not a real word" - Modell, Diner) and stress that each of used and how differently we all read the text. Driving around with Schmee in college looking for cigarettes, refusing to buy our own, just having a day. We weren't out of control or fucked up or anything, we were just...us. Sometimes it's the simple lazy times, when no one is faking it, when you're completely at ease and you don't need to work at anything, when you're not trying, when you're just effortlessly idle. But tthings end, and people grow.

Diner takes place just before the minute hand strikes sixties: the world is about to change, to call out the boys' collective narcissism and smash it up. But no matter what, they'll always have the guys at the diner.

Then they're getting married, having kids, starting new jobs and leaving town. But you know that the next time they're together, Modell and Eddie are going to bicker about absolutely anything and everything, Shrevie and Boogie will remain friendly, but tensely competitive, Fenwick will probably be drunk and brilliant and pissing off everyone else.

And it's stories we all know: the universal, gap-mouthed look Eddie gets when he realizes he just lost a pointless argument, but he still keeps arguing because he must, because he is making a goddamn point, and then later on he brushes it off, why so serious?

Seriously, Steve fucking Guttenberg is a goddamn genius in this movie (words that have never, ever been spoken, and technically they still haven't since I typed them, but whatever jerk). As far as I'm concerned his role (Eddie) is one the most well-actualized characters I have ever seen - because we know him, we can tell how he's going to react to anything outside the sphere of Diner because he does such a fucking perfect job reacting to things. I could go on and on and on, but that shit's boring to list and dazzling to watch. I'll let the movie do it.

In a way, I guess, it's about taking shit seriously: my serious business is much more fucking important than your serious business. Nah, just kidding, super sors, we cool?

Maybe it's because, stripped of the question of masculinity and what it means to be a man and all that bullshit (which I could talk about, but don't want to) Diner is really about learning who you are and admitting those faults, and how none of it matters with the people you love. 

Maybe I the reason I love Diner is because it's like...it's like when an old friend gives you a confident a kick in the ass and tells you to fuck off, so you do a round of shots and make fun of each other for five minutes and feel better about the world. 


Love,
Rassles

...

So I guess I have a Love Letters series now.  I mean, I do. Click here for the list so far.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A Love Letter to Preposterous

Dear preposterous,

Of all the words that mean "contrary to common sense," including but not limited to:

1) ridiculous       2) absurd       3) foolish       4) silly       5) etc.

You are the best.

I'm predisposed towards the preposterous automatically, but only in a very specific way. I like my preposterousness to have intent, somehow. I think it's because preposterous things are best when they veer swiftly from a serious something. When they have a reason and that reason is, itself, preposterous.  All that is probably rooted somehow in absurdism, right?

Still, I'm not directly talking absurdism, here - like the disharmony created by humanity's continuous search for meaning in a meaninglessness universe -  for example: mathematicians rummaging for the secrets of pi, or people who do the "paleo diet" (which is worst name ever, and here's a tip if you want to lose weight: exercise (yes, fine, pots and kettles and their inherent blackness, whatever, but at least I'm not jumping on fads)) because, you guys, we have no way of knowing that Paleolithic humans refrained from starch.  Or Catholicism. Pi, paleo diets, Catholicism. All the same thing. Everything is the same thing, nothing is different, everything is different, everything is absurd, but omg, why? So obviously I agree with absurdism, pretty much, but I don't like the fact that I do. Which is, of course, fucking absurd.

But I'm talking about artistically preposterous, or personally preposterous, or professionally preposterous. The kind of preposterousness that springs from the cracks of too much seriousness rather than a lack of understanding, of the willing neglect of things that are sensible in order to embrace the nonsense, because of the nonsense. It's just more fun that way.

In light of disappearing flights, I'm going to use LOST as an example here: LOST excelled at characterization. Each person portrayed on that show was pompously elaborate, fat with memories and glaring idiosyncrasies.

The plot to LOST was developed, but shittingly preposterous, and that made me love it more. The more entangled and irrational each story became, a pervasive concern arose among viewers: the scriptwriters wrote themselves into fallacy. But then instead of writing themselves out of it they just said, "Eh, fuck it. Let's do this instead: EVERYTHING IS MAGIC."


Look at that foot. Why is the foot there? Because it used to be a statue of Taweret. Why was there a statue? Because someone built it. Probably an Egyptian. Why Taweret? Because she was the goddess of makin' babies, and no one could have babies on the island so the statue was an appeal for fertility. Why? Because some people like babies and the island is magic.

That is my idea of a good time. Instead of solving our problems, let's just use magic.
pre·pos·ter·ous
[pri-pos-ter-us s, -truh s]
adjective
completely contrary to nature, reason, or common sense; absurd; senseless; utterly foolish: a preposterous tale.
Origin: 1535-45; from Latin praeposterus with the the hinder part foremost. See pre-, posterior, -ous.
Synonyms
unreasonable, excessive, ridiculous. See absurd.

Sure, saying that using magic is better could be utterly foolish. Why? Number one, magic isn't real. Two, it's cheating. But most importantly it means taking that thing that we were all wondering: is there a fucking logical explanation for all this? No. There isn't. There is only magic.

But how, do you ask, is that putting the hinder part foremost? That which defines preposterous, which is why this is preposterous and not absurd? Literally, "pre-" meaning before; part of "posterior" meaning subsequent, followed by, hinder; and "-ous" meaning...you know...the part of the word that makes this an adjective. Either way, preposterous magic is the driving purpose. We're well aware of what should be done, if things were right and proper, and we just...do it differently for no goddamn reason.

Things that are literally backwards and preposterous, just off the top of my head: 

  • Looking-Glass magic plum-cakes (hand it round first, then cut it after)
  • “We should forgive our enemies, but not before they are hanged.”
  • Put your thing down, flip it, and reverse it 
  • posting something on Facebook just to see different sidebar ads
  • butt chugging

The obvious preposterous thing to list is "don't put the cart before the horse." But what people always forget is this: horses can push, too. 


Do horses dream of hauling booze or is the very notion of this preposterous?

Love,
Rassles

...

So I guess I have a Love Letters series now.  I mean, I do. Click here for the list so far.

Monday, March 17, 2014

A Love Letter to Bread

Dear bread,

As far as love letters go, I've already fallen behind on these bad boys. I refuse to give up now.

So, dear bread, for you I shall write Shakespearean sonnets. Multiple sonnets written with the same theme, by the way, are totally called a crown of sonnets. How rad is that? I love that. It's like a George RR Martin novel. Speaking of which, if I ever have a son and give him two alliterated middle names beginning with R, will he automatically become a best-selling fantasy novelist? Let's hope. 

My sad attempts at poetry did not go over well in the past, but fuck all. I think it's fun. More fun poetry is what I say. No joke, I walk round shouting it.


Shit. UPDATE:


So the past two months have yielded ZERO worthy sonnets, so I think I'm just going to post some screw ups and notes that I just...it is not fucking easy to write about bread, you guys. 


Ode to Bread #1: The Sourdough

This taste and smell is the hearth of hearts (gag yourself)
Warmed and golden brown, with crunch
Snuggled crumb sponges and flirts
With the cushioned strength to pad a punch  (< punching bread should be a thing. make it a thing.)

If breads and scientific theories shared beers,
Sourdough and cosmic expansion would bond
They'd bro around and feed for years
- stories about heritage (because of starters) and stuff. Rhymes with bond?

That slight sour snap is electric, literally
(something about protons, taste cells and triggers)
- With a...goddammit, SHUT  UP.
A thick, snacky respite from life's...rigors? ??? eh?  Visit rhymezone.

(This line is about how bread is delicious)
(This line is about loaves and fishes)


"There is evidence that the protons that are abundant in sour substances can directly enter the sour taste cells. This transfer of positive charge into the cell can itself trigger an electrical response." - kinda neat. mention that.



Ode to Bread #2: Fraternity

You're there when I knead you (ads;lfkjasd;flkjsdfl;kdsf I am hilarious)

Sourdough
omg zucchini bread is soooooo goooood
Breaking bread is universal
share your bread
IT IS A SYMBOL OF FRIENDSHIP

gggaaahahahahaha

punching bread (because frat brothers punch each other? f;aldksjfa;sdlk full circ)
bakin bread (bacon bread?)
makin bread
makin money
gettin paid

Writing about bread is HARD. Like crust. what.


Ode to Bread #3: Shall I Compare Thee

Thou musn't. Shit. Thou mustn't shy from olde Englishe ck olde-type spelling.
If thou shalt hap to fail to rise,
For want of leaven, there's naught so sad
Thine self is leveled! O damn mine eyes!
Condemned me to darkness, my flour comrade


Ending lines, no matter what:

I sorrow for celiacs but fad-jumpers suck
Gluten-free is not a real thing, you fuck. 


Ode to Bread #4: Haiku, Bitches

Bread tastes so damn good
I could eat like a fuckton
just trust me, okay?

...

See, I told you this was hard.

Love,
Rassles

...

So I guess I have a Love Letters series now.  I mean, I do. Click here for the list so far.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

A Love Letter to Assigning Things

Dear assigning things,

Oh, do I love to assign stuff to things! And of course the antipode: things to stuff. It's something I do automatically, usually, and well. It's probably because I have a meager morsel of synesthesia. When I say "meager" I mean it. My synesthesia - chromesthesia - is a dinky shrimp of a concept that sounds a lot cooler than it is, and I don't like to talk about it. For the uninitiated: sometimes I see colors when I hear sounds. Or hear colors. It is not nearly as extreme as you are imagining it right now. A symphony is not rainbow of light.  It's not constant, it only happens during speaking, and again...I don't like to talk about it.

It's a problem because some people sound like they are the most sluggish, defeated fluorescent yellow they could muster, and I automatically hate them.  They could be a perfectly nice person, but I will refuse to give them a chance to prove it.  It's terrible.  If you've been reading this blog for awhile (all four of you lovelies), you would know that I ardently judge people based on the sound of their voice. Sometimes a person has an offensive timbre and they can probably do nothing about it without the help of Henry Higgins, so I graciously forgive them for shrilling like a human theremin, but that doesn't mean I like them.

So I will assign that person to the list in my brain headed "people who sound like drabby yellow grass." Of course, colors ebb and vary depending on the types of vocalization, the modality, etc., but in general, some people have lovely voices that flutter from pale blue to the night sky and others sing in a papal purple and speak in scarlet, but not everyone, just some. There is no mapping logic to it all. But once you've spoken a color to me I will remember it.

And although some people sound like colors, most people don't. Which means I need to find something else to assign to them.

The act of assigning, the deliberate synthesis of one thing and another, whether that thing is a trait or a phrase or a responsibility or a smell...it's different than something as omnipotent as naming. Naming asserts control over a thing. It involves taking into account history and future and the summation of the assigned parts.

When something is named the audience places immediate judgement. Compare Avatar to Ferngully, two terrible movies with the exact same plot.  Regardless of their similarities, the titles insinuate that the focus of each is different: one word is the manifestation of a god on a lesser plane of existence, while the other is a ravine fully of shaded plants.

So naming is power.

But assigning...assigning is mine. It's my personal association. Assigning could be interpreted as a claim to ownership, but to me it's more like a claim to relationship. Yes, this thing, this person, this place, it means something to me and I to it. We are relevant to each other. 

Maybe when I assign things to stuff or stuff to things, it's a plea to my personal vanity. Or is it a way to organize impressions, or memories?  Is it a way imbue immortality? Or is it my own personal confusion of the two concepts?

I've assigned sentences to the stars and certain behaviors to the trees on my street, smiles to people with a tendency to frown, friends to flashbacks and flashbacks to friends, degrees of douchiness to flavors (what is going to be the kale or cauliflower of 2014? I need to make a list), gravity to versions of nostalgia, lovability to myself, unfair judgement to drug addicts, giggles to puppies, personalities to letters, stamps of approval to restaurants that sell cream of chicken and rice soup on days outside of Sunday, activities to days and emotions to weeks.

The following is a non-exhaustive list of things I've assigned to humans with or without their knowledge:

Speaking of animal personalities, I'm a bear. 
Which means, I'm sure, that I would be a cinnamon bear.
  • animal personality (but only from this particular quiz, and I don't so much as assign animals as take the quiz for everyone I meet always)
  • toys
  • Hogwarts Houses (one time I assigned a Hogwarts house to every US President)
  • Myers-Briggs personalities
  • colors
  • actors and actresses
  • biography authors
  • walk songs
  • weather
  • nicknames
  • type of circus performer

Sure, all of these are the makings for a fine Buzzfeed quiz, but not really.  Because it's not like I assign things to everyone, and I don't assign the same things across the board. I assign colors and feelings and objects to humans. Durrr.

Still there's a problem: this turns humans into characters, and explaining away behavior by saying, "well, she runs from confrontation because she's a cottontail rabbit who speaks in peach." It's always unhealthy to turn a fleshy, living person into a character. That's objectification, not a relationship.

I used to objectify myself completely. I thought, "I want people to think I'm this way" and so I would live up to what I thought other people's expectations would be of the person I wanted to be. Then I placed judgement on myself based on how I assumed other people perceived me and tried to anticipate and thwart those assumptions by berating who I thought they thought I was. Like in the mirror.

Honestly? I still do that. Sometimes. But now I realize what I'm doing, and I'm correcting it. Do not objectify everyone. We are people, and therefore unique and unknowable. Stop sucking.  

But assignments help. They reinforce knowledge...I don't think Emi is a gently carved bolt of affable lightning, I know she is. I know Fraya is a bouncy ball with an orange sunset singing inside, Xtine is a crown of perfectly roasted marshmallow stilettos. These are things I know. I have assigned things to them that will last forever.

So thank you, assigning things, for being a thing I love to do.

Love,
Rassles

...

 So I guess I have a Love Letters series now.  I mean, I do. Click here for the list so far.

Friday, January 24, 2014

A Love Letter to The Last Unicorn

Dear The Last Unicorn,

Fucking hell, I seriously love every aspect of you in every way.  Those links, by the way, are the times I've dropped your name on this blog, but shit is about to get all Bad Boys II up in here.  Not in the Michael Bay kind of way, but seriously: shit's getting real.

We become who we are by living up to the expectations of our gods, or whoever: parents, the Buddha, Harry Potter, a friend who died when you were seven, or a lovely young woman who used to be a unicorn as old as the moon.

This fairy tale is like a god to me.  I don't hold it sacred, but I praise its gospel.  I can only hope that someday I'm able create a story half as tender, tragic, and goofy as hell.

You guys, I own like all of The Last Unicorn paraphernalia.  I have the novel and the graphic novel, I have the movie on DVD and VHS, I have the soundtrack (by America, which is FANTASTIC). Whenever I list my favorite movies, I always forget to include this one, which is a crock of shit on my part, because The Last Unicorn is perfect.   It's a haunt on my heart, always lurking just outside of my the corner of my eye and glittering away like a dream I forgot to write down.

It's pointless to describe the plot here, because anyone can do that.  All I can do is say what I love about it, and hope that it makes at least one person read this book.  Because everyone should.  You might be thinking that this is lame.  That's the thought process of someone who doesn't know what the hell they're talking about. Don't let the title fool you.  This isn't about the magical ponies and their whimsical friends trotting around a land of rainbows.  Even though it's about a unicorn and a magician and giant red bull that is, like, always on fire...it's about princes who read magazines and carnies that tell dirty jokes, and the reason we need heroes.

All I'm saying is this: if you haven't read this book, whatever you're assuming about it, right now, is probably fucking wrong.  But anyone who enjoys this book should probably have a penchant for nonsense. And sorrow. And love.  So if your ideal author is John Grisham, you are not going to like The Last Unicorn.  Grisham has no fucking time for whimsy, as serious and true as that this brand of whimsy may be.  

The problem with this story is its extreme definitiveness. Everything Peter S. Beagle slipped into the story is now my personal truth.  Butterflies communicate in snatches of songs and poetry.  They know the lyrics to "My Wild Irish Rose." Of course they do.  Duh.  And...and bands of outlaws idolize Robin Hood and eat tacos.  This makes sense to me. They fundamentally must be raging taco hounds.

So now, because of fucking Beagle and his goddamn book, stories that are earnestly garnished with anachronistic fantasy are nearly always superior to those that aren't. It's an unpredictable surprise that lends a bit of credibility to a fairy tale that is by all other means governed by the rules of any classic fairy tale, although it supersedes and deconstructs them in every way.

I love it because it makes me feel everything. And because I always forget the little pearls.
We are not always what we seem, and hardly ever what we dream. 
- Schmendrick the Magician, Last of the Red-Hot Swamis

The Last Unicorn is about the ways you cope when someone fucks with who you are as a person, with the very basic structure of your psyche.  It's about the ridiculous things you will do for the one person who gracefully carries your heart around like toilet paper accidentally tucked into a perfectly fitted pair of pants.  It's about how priorities change because of things beyond our control, it's about picking up discarded quests, it's about how worship can dangerously become a cage.  We refuse to see what is plainly before us while we assume we can see what is plainly before others.

It's about memories and mortality, and how we confuse the two.  And it's about what happens when you judge yourself, and others, by what they possess.  But I mean possess in a decorative way, something ornamental that really doesn't belong to a person but they claim ownership of it nonetheless, or how what others possess reflects in yourself, or as a phrase like, "He's a nice guy, just a little sexist sometimes." If we do not love people based on how they behave, how can we truly identify with or love anyone at all?
What is the matter with your eyes? They are full of green leaves, crowded with trees and streams and small animals. Where am I? Why can I not see myself in your eyes?
- King Haggard
The movie was written by Beagle as well, which means each line of dialogue is pulled directly from the book, although sometimes they're spoken confusingly and rarely how I read the line in the book.  But that gives the movie a bewitching, elegant affliction that serves its medium.  I saw the movie first and read the book years later, but I think because I was able to independently enjoy them both that effects me to this day: I always prefer to watch a movie before I read the book.

It's just better that way.  There are always new things to discover in a book after I watch a movie, but if I read the book first I can only focus on the missing pieces.

I could go on for hours, probably, if you let me. I want everyone I care about to read this book and love it, even though I know that's impossible.  Differing opinions are important to the world, and to me.  But I want that to happen all the same.

Instead I will just post another quote, and it's a silly poem from the book.  It might turn people off.  But maybe someone will read it and think, "There's wisdom in that.  I should read this book."  Yes, you should.
"I am no king, and I am no lord,
and I am no soldier at-arms," said he.
"I'm none but a harper, and a very poor harper,
that am come hither to wed with ye."

"If you were a lord, you should be my lord,
and the same if you were a thief," said she.
"And if you are a harper, you shall be my harper,
for it makes no matter to me, to me,
for it makes no matter to me."

"But what if it prove that I am no harper?
That I lied for your love most monstrously?"
"Why, then I'll teach you to play and sing,
For I dearly love a good harp," said she.
I dearly love The Last Unicorn.

Love,
Rassles

...

So I guess I have a Love Letters series now.  I mean, I do. Click here for the list so far

...

Later Edit:  DUDES.
http://www.tor.com/blogs/2014/01/havent-you-ever-been-in-a-fairy-tale-before-peter-s-beagles-the-last-unicorn

Is this a thing now? Is The Last Unicorn finally going to explode?