The Great SeeSaw of DOOOOOOOOM

I look at these people and can’t quite believe that they exist. Are they professional actors? I wonder. Or are they simply laymen who want a lot of attention?

To put them in perspective, I think of being on an airplane. The flight attendant comes down the aisle with her food cart and, eventually, parks it beside my seat. “Can I interest you in the chicken?” she asks. “Or would you prefer the platter of shit with bits of broken glass in it?”

To be undecided in this election is to pause for a moment and then ask how the chicken is cooked.

David Sedaris

Another landmark down

List item #287 that can now be checked off: attending a bigtime college football game.

Not that that’s a huge deal in and of itself, especially for those of you that went to a school with an athletic team. I, however, have never been a huge sports fan (excluding soccer, but even that’s more a playing thing than a viewing thing for me), and went to Montevallo, whose baseball and basketball teams saw smaller attendance than jazz band recitals and theater productions.* That, and Montevallo and UAB (where I finally got my degrees) can’t hold a candle to the size or success that a lot of schools have with their teams.

In the past, I’ve been to a few Braves games, one Cubs game, the ’96 Olympics soccer matches that were held in Birmingham, and a few semi-pro (minor leagues and USFL) hockey and football games (did you know that Birmingham, Alabama, had a long running hockey team?  Crazy, yeah?).  I don’t really feel like I’ve missed out on much, but this weekend, when presented with the opportunity to go see the Alabama/Ole Miss game, it occured to me that I shouldn’t pass up the chance.

Let me clarify up front that the primary reason I went was to hang out with one of my oldest friends (26 years and running) who I don’t get to see as often as I’d like these days.  But still, it was a major thing, different from anything I’ve ever seen.  In fact, I think I may have remarked over ten times that I have no frame of reference for anything like what I experienced yesterday – the closest would be the pre-show ritual for some of the big-name concerts I’ve attended, and really that’s not even close.

Alabama is a huge school with a tremendously strong football program, past and present.  If you’re not from Alabama (mid-state, especially), then you may not understand the emphasis that people put on college football (especially, obviously, the SEC), but it’s comparable to the fan base of big cities with hometown teams like the Yankees, the Cowboys, etc. To can these people fans, some of them, reminds you of the source of that term — fanatic. I’ve seen, over the years, relationships bonded and torn apart by football, fights and riots started by football… For someone who doesn’t live and breathe sports, who doesn’t have a connection to a specific team**, who really doesn’t like extremes, it’s an alien atmosphere.

I have a picture in my head of tailgating, and game day on campus is like that times ten, crossed with a carnival and a really weird family reunion.  I guess it’s like this at other big campuses; again, no point of reference.  And goofy me wearing his Georgia ball cap (to protect the head from sunburn, I swear).  Food stands, merchandise tables everywhere, people walking seemingly aimlessly attempting to buy or sell tickets***… You’d never know that the economy is depressed.  Tickets to the game are upwards of $50 a piece (face value), plus street fair-priced food, t-shirts, hats; it’s unreal, a step outside of the world I live in every day.  The tailgaters — actually, tent people, hanging out with their grills under mini-carports covering the quads — have brought their 50 inch plasma screens so they can watch other games as the morning passes.

And this happens every weekend for the fall.

The game itself is sort of unremarkable, as experiences go.  I’m familiar enough with football to know that Alabama will run up the score in the first half, almost lose in the second.  If football followed the periods of hockey, I suspect that the Crimson Tide would never make the top ten in the polls, because that third period would kill them every time. The fans are as irritating to me as those I attend concerts with — they’re too loud, blocking my view by standing up in front of me when the watchable moments happen, too attached to something that is peripheral to the real world.  But it’s a good enough game, and a fun time with my friend.

I add that either stadium seats need to be spaced a little wider on the bleachers, or people that weigh over 300 pounds should be required to buy an extra seat.  And if you wave those godawful pompoms they hand out, keep them the fuck out of my ears if you’re behind me, please.

I really don’t see how people can do that every weekend.  It’s too tiring.  And too expensive.  Wonder how UA can afford to pay Nick Saban four million dollars a year? Multiplying ticket cost by attendance and then adding in merch and TV revenues, and you realize pretty quickly: they’ve gotten quite the bargain.

Next up: the Grand Canyon, or hang-gliding.  At least those won’t be as loud.

* Probably not true, but having never gone to a game at UM, I can only speculate.

** When I was a kid, I thought my dad had gotten his undergrad from Georgia, since he was from Atlanta.  Turns out he went to Emory, and (ironically) got his Masters at Georgia Tech.  Oops.  Still, the red and black thing sticks with me.

*** Want to recover from the stock market crash?  Buy Alabama home game tickets in pairs, then show up on campus on game day.  Name your price.  Drive home and eat steak. Holy Christ, scalpers at concerts don’t have a clue!


We will miss her dearly but she is in a much happier place now.

Lilium Cruentus (Deus Nova)
On the Loss of Innocence
Music, lyric and arrangements by Daniel Gildenlöw

A Scene in Brown and Yellow:
At first I don’t know why your presence fills me with unease
Though I’ve missed you more than Life itself
I freeze
It’s like you’ve been lost and now you’re glad to see my face
But as you sit down my confusion turns to distress
Not knowing how to let you know that you are
(I wake up sweating)

They tell me you are better off
Where you are now
Well, I don’t care
They tell me that your pain is gone
Where you are now
Well, you left it here
See, I need to be strong
Need to be brave
I need to put faith in something
How could I live on
Not hoping we will meet

A Scene in White and Grey:
Under the icon’s weight the old thoughts lay
Under the cross so still and pale
The flowers usher the stale breath of Death away
And someone tries to sing
But the bird of song has lost its wings
Now it twitches
Rips the stitches of a chest where tears are torn
And where all loss begins

Life seems too small when Death takes its toll
I need something to blame for this pain

A Scene in Amber – Flawed:
And have you ever had that dream
Where one you love passes away?
And you wake up crying to a world
Where she’s long since gone
But you feel the pain
So close
As if she’d died today

But I need to be strong
I need to be brave
I need to put faith in something
How could I live on
Not hoping we will meet
Some day?

Earth to Earth, Dust to Dust
A verse we know too well
Like a nursery rhyme
Just in reverse
‘Cause we are all the little tin man
With hearts like little tin cans
And as we line them down with tears
Over the years
They inevitably turn
To rust

Life seems too small when Death takes its toll
I need something to blame for this pain
I try, I fail, I fall, like anyone you know
I break, I bleed, like anyone you know

A Scene in Blood on White:
Where the linen’s changed just for tonight
And somehow we beat her to this sight
This ghostly room of Exit
That she enters by the flicker of candle light
And in her breast
A desert storm is taking form
An old thirst that can never be quenched or killed
Sweeps over the cold
Broken but thousandfold

I think that if I ever should go deaf, it might be the one thing that I would be incapable of recovering from. I’m realizing consciously how much I rely on music to express myself — not just other people’s words, but the music itself.  It can serve as a catalyst for physical release, a pillow when I’ve pushed myself too hard, a gateway into waking dreams.

Today, music is my blanket against the cold of the world and the best way I know to shine a light on memories of a departed friend.

Perhaps inside you
You were messed up like me
But to them you were whole and strong
A friend in their need
And what you left behind you
And what swept over me
Says that your life’s work
Rolls on and on
A piece of eternity
Brian May, Just One Life


I understand that, as the frontrunners in the polls, the Democratic Party people are hesitant to stoop to pointing out the negatives — and that, in an ethics light, Palin doesn’t look too different from Bush (or, to be fair, 99% of politicians in the world).  BUT… really, +/- 40% of the polled public, is this sort of thing acceptable to you?  You can just look the other way — but a blowjob in the oval office is wrong?  REALLY?

(ANCHORAGE, Alaska) Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, whose reformer image took a hit in a report concluding she abused her powers to settle a family score, has skirted state ethics rules before for personal benefit and used her office to help friends and supporters, according to an Associated Press review of records. (article online at Newsweek)

He thrusts his fists against the posts and yet insists he sees the ghosts…

The Nines

Watching John August’s directorial debut, I was reminded that the best films are the most challenging.  I’m looking at you, Donnie Darko and Southland Tales, L.A. Story and Playing By Heart. They’re the movies that seem lost in themselves, maybe, too clever for their own good, or Frankensteined out of disparate pieces that make no sense outside of their original context.  Just when you’ve almost given up, though, something compels you to stick it out until the end, and the resultant feeling is so ethereal that it defies being put into words, like a good dream or that  weird orgasmic feeling you get when your favorite song plays on your iPod.

I’m (somewhat surprisingly, at least to me) largely unaware of movie writers. For the life of me, I can’t remember the name of the DD/ST tales creator (quick Google search says: Richard Kelly. Oops.).  But I know John August, because he was one of the two judges who gave me the right to tack “Award Winning” as a prefix to my screenwriter label. He wrote Go (which I’ve always liked), and Big Fish, and Corpse Bride and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  And Charlie’s Angels, which I’ll hold against McG instead. And — though I can’t find them at the minute, buried as they are in a shoebox in a trunk in my shoebox apartment — he wrote me some very kind script notes which eventually were worked into the short film of Muckfuppet.

Because I recommend watching it — especially if you’re a writer — I will say as clearly as I can that his directorial debut is far better than mine.

The last five minutes of the film — when the pieces finally fall into place and you can start making sense of what’s been happening for the past ninety minutes — are, plainly, breathtaking.  It’s apparent even without the special feature documentaries that there’s a strong autobiographical connection, and it’s made all the more natural and real because of it.

Again, having a hard time putting this into words. But I recognized a lot of Muckfuppet in The Nines, and it’s not a talent or ability thing (not at all — August is, arguably, a better artist (and inarguably a far superior craftsman) than I.  It’s an intangible reality, that place where allegory and the world that we experience every day somehow become one.

All this to say: ignore whatever reviews you’ve heard about the movie, good or bad.  Give yourself two hours distraction-free, and watch the movie.  It’s not without flaws, but I’ll be damned if the big picture revelation at the end hasn’t erased specifics from my mind.  Ryan Reynolds and Melissa McCarthy both do great jobs — anyone who thinks Reynolds is only good for smartass Van Wilder characters can find proof otherwise in this — while Alex Wurman’s score is beautiful and haunting.

And then drop by and tell him how great it was.

The Nines

Live[twitter]ing Debate #2

This should have been more fun, I think. You’ll just have to imagine the times — I know I did.

  • McCain sounds very grandfatherly. My grandfather was always tired and more than a little cranky and repetitive, too.
  • Why self-impose a time limit if neither one of you can follow it?
  • This sounds a whole lot like Bush Sr.’s “No new taxes” speech, Mr. McCain.
  • Any second now McCain’s gotta snap and call Obama a liar. Waiting… waiting…
  • “I’ll answer the question, Tom.” Which makes McCain/Palin a truly balanced ticket.
  • …and still, not answering the question at all.
  • Obama sounds thoughtful and collected. McCain sounds creepy. “Want some nuclear candy, little undecided voter?”
  • $10 says Brokaw will snap first…
  • But, Senator Obama, is healthcare a commodity? … Never mind. Y’all are on a straight talk express. Sigh.
  • “Well, maybe this healthcare candy will get you into my van…”
  • @McCain – I’m math kinda guy and I can’t follow your healthcare numbers.
  • I’m probably one of the few really moved by the fact that Obama just admitted that he doesn’t understand everything. I like that.
  • Mmmm. A non-answer from Obama. And the McCain Doctrine? “Ah, whatever the other guy wouldn’t do.”
  • Eep. McCain’s hero had Alzheimers. Probably while in office.
  • Wait – is it Reagan or Roosevelt?
  • The strategy in Iraq worked? The people supported us being there? Maybe McCain has Alzheimers, too. Just like my cranky granddad.
  • If he knows how to get bin Laden, why hasn’t he shared that info with Bush and Petraeus? Geez, John, you gloryhog.
  • Losing McCain’s Russia talk in favor of HDTV digital picture interference. Yawn.
  • Ah! more “fuck the UN!” talk. And then appeal to the alpha male. And oooooh… Holocaust. Check, Senator Obama…
  • Good response- encourage talking AND work in your energy platform. Diggin’ it.
  • Peggy from Amhearst wins question of the night. Obama: circumvents the question. Damn. McCain: a little clumsy, but at least on topic. Damn.
  • Final thoughts: … wait, whaddya mean it’s not over until November 4th? *really*?

From the mouths of Tweets

Follow my ongoing adventures at Twitter:

  • Does Sarah Palin really want to attack people in Obama’s religious past? Really? Well, researchers of the world, turnabout is fair play… 2:45 PM October 06, 2008
  • Wall Street is the new 18 car pile up. I just can’t stop rubbernecking! Where’s the decapitated body? I know it’s there… 9:45 AM October 06, 2008
  • You do NOT want to be involved in a brown alert scenario. 02:10 PM October 01, 2008
  • I think more teenagers would drink Red Bull if it gave you your red wings. 10:31 AM September 29, 2008
  • Austria will allow 16-year-olds to vote. Whoopee. You don’t even need an IQ of 16 to vote in the US. 03:53 PM September 25, 2008
  • If you really believe that God will help McCain win the election, show your faith. Stay home and let God work. 10:55 AM September 25, 2008
  • People complain about pork in government, but I think more bacon never hurt anyone. Except those with heart conditions. 09:19 AM September 25, 2008
  • Whores. Good god y’all. What am I good for? 05:36 PM September 22, 2008 from twitterrific
  • MILF: it does a body good. 02:37 AM September 21, 2008
  • Slurring and saying “Arrrrrr” a lot works well for ‘Talk Like A Pilot’ day too… 01:04 PM September 19, 2008
  • Oh, man. I thought they said “Talk Like a Pyrex Day”. No wonder everone keeps walking away. 12:24 PM September 19, 2008