Sunday, May 24, 2009

Noting The Day*

*This was originally titled "You Are The Resurrection", in reference to another blogger's post title, but I realized the title had nothing to do with anything.

Ah was quite notable for me, although I'm not sure I can pinpoint why. So here, I began to "journalize". Today at the job, we (some of the employees) were subjected to a particularly malodorousness coming from the basement, where people eat and rest. It appears the water fountain down there began issuing forth this nauseating smell. Over the past few weeks it had been mysteriously clogging up more and more rapidly as people used it; less and less of the water was actually making it down the drain. But today, the drain vomited up flakes of grime and dirt onto the stainless steel basin. Of course, I figured some Draino was in order, but someone else told me about changing the filter, and someone else said something about something else, so I'm not sure how that tidbit was solved.

Tonight, I met some friends for a purposeful dinner on the upper west of Manhattan. A friend was supposed to throw a rooftop party with musicians and comedians and all kinds of theatrics. I'm not a party or a late night person, so I wasn't going. But because I did not (and two others couldn't) pick up the sound guy and his equipment for the party, my friend cancelled it altogether. He felt sullen about this, so we had a dinner get together to pick him back up. But the part that interested me was the trip there. My mother took the car to Conneticut, so I took the train to the East Side of Manh. and walked.

Now, talking to friends from church, virtually all of whom have moved here from some rural area or a farm or small town, made me feel ashamed. They've come with an objective view of the city, and so, took some time to study and know a lot of the areas and parts. Which places of Queens or Manhattan are cheap/expensive to live in. Where goods Japanese or Indian or BBQ restaurants in Brooklyn are. All kinds of stuff. I, master book/video game/movie/hermit guy, never cared about any of this until recently. My old friends would always talk about going to dance at this club, or hop around these 20 bars at forsaken hours of the night, and I hated both of those activities1, see notes below.
In my defense: it's good to explore and get to know things geographically, but telling someone to explore certain parts of New York City is like telling someone to explore Compton2. Unless you have a purpose for being there, it would be much more sensible to just be aware of the place. Example:

I'm on the east side of Manhattan and the restaurant was on the west, on 109th street. I had plenty of time to kill after work before meeting them, so I figured I'd just take the train down to 109th and walk across. Getting off the stop, I came up out of the station......where the Projects3 sat and greeted me with a nice, bright figuratively mocking smile. Groups of guys in red4 playing basketball. Others selling copies of bootleg DVDs and incense on the street. The typical resident sitting outside their apt. window with a cigarette and Bacchata5 or Hip-Hop blaring out. Another group of people playing dice on the handball court wall. East Harlem. I went up to 109th and began walking.

One avenue had bodegas, liquor stores and check-cashing places abound, of course. At some point, I came across a church building that looked like nothing more than a generous backyard doghouse, replete with boney, skeletal folk wearing haggard faces, sitting on the stoop and watching the world spin. However, the total of 2 avenues being crossed, I was immediately hit with towering, crisp, clean buildings behind a street semi-full of running clean-air, hybrid buses and a bustling park6. I've always been aware of this geographical lopside, but it never ceases to amaze.

So, I get to the restaurant an hour early. Luckily, it had a bar where I could sit and kill both time and my liver7. I began talking to some Yankees fan who was throwing back his own glasses of Bud and we began talking about Pacquiao, a recently famous boxer from the Phillipines who is "considered God in his country". We talked about the YMCA (where he works) and about how they've begun taking kids to the library to read books and only go on one trip every two weeks, due to the hail of lawsuits from parents8 whose kids have been hurt on various past trips to places that have actually heard of the word "fun". Hmph.

I shook his hand and left to join my own party. Friends arrived. Food was had. Cheering up was done. I went home and hit the Moleskine to jot notes. Quite the day.

1) It might also have something to do with the fact that I hate people. Yes, I said "hate". What? You wanna fight?
2) A suburb in Southern California, notoriously plagued with gang warfare and drugs.
3) Housing Project–(noun): a publicly built and operated housing development, usually intended for low- or moderate-income tenants, senior citizens, etc. These usually also have the items listed in 2).
4) I suspect these were the Bloods, but I could be stereotyping.
5) A genre of Hispanic music.
6) gen⋅tri⋅fi⋅ca⋅tion [jen-truh-fi-key-shuhn]–noun: the buying and renovation of houses and stores in deteriorated urban neighborhoods by upper- or middle-income families or individuals, thus improving property values but often displacing low-income families and small businesses.
7) Kill two birds with of rum? Efficient.
8) Read: lawsuits from dirtbrained knuckleheads. You don't want your children to get hurt from life? Tie them to a chair next to the water heater and only feed them every 6 hours. Actually, don't feed them.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Shadow Of The Day

Bollocks. New day, different dynamics.

Waiting for a cab, a nice man handed me the obligatory "WatchTower" booklet. As I took it, I wanted to peruse through it because it made me think of this cutaway joke in this one episode of "Family Guy". Peter was a Jehovah's Witness. He went to someone's house and when the man answered and Peter asked him something along the lines of "Would you like to hear about the word of the Lord?", the man said "Ok, sure." Peter, who is used to the door slamming in his face, was at a complete loss for he just described the plot line for "Quantum Leap" and put Christ as the main character. There was also another joke where the evil monkey that haunts Chris became a Witness, but I digress.

The cab driver arrives, a loud, frail man with a salt and pepper moustache and sunken in cheeks. He asks where I'm going and I tell him the address of my job. We began to drive. "Do you work there?" is what he starts with before he launches into having gone through 3 ex-wives, him furnishing "yet another" apartment, and him telling his last wife to "just give him the 19" T.V. that they use the least and she can have the rest". I get out at my job and pay him. As he drives off, I curse my faulty memory for making me leave "Watchtower" in the car.

Subtly interesting day. I'm not sure if I've written about this here before, but about three weeks back, the woman at my job who was a complete nuisance (to put it without vulgarity) was fired. She called another co-worker at my job a "stupid black woman". So, I've pretty much been working the sales floor myself. But one day last week, the nuisance came back to pick up her check. I stood by in my section and listened as she argued with the manager that she got paid less than she was supposed to, because, in her mind, she was supposed to be paid for a week after she was fired that she did not work. Perhaps, she made the bed in her house and, since it was any ole' work, any ole' person should pay her? Perhaps she has three imaginary friends like Russell Crowe in "A Beautiful Mind" who told that she should just be magically paid for no reason? I don't know, but at the end of her fussing I heard "I'm so sick of this (didn't hear).......that's why I'm glad I don't work here anymore." And she stormed out, purportedly murmuring to herself that she could beat up the manager anytime, anyplace. Bloody Hell.

A day in the life.

Friday, May 15, 2009

"Star Trek"

Magnificent. Excellent. All films henceforth will live in its shadows. No, I'm not a Trekkie.

Directed by J.J. Abrams, who helmed "Mission: Impossible 3" and "Alias" (the T.V. show), "Star Trek" is the story of a young James T. Kirk and Spock as they first board the USS Enterprise and battle against a from-the-future vengeful Romulan (alien species) named Nero. The narrative revolves around Kirk's and Spock's histories, dilemmas, personalities and finally, the beginning of their friendship.

James T. Kirk is portrayed by actor Chris Pine, who before this starred in nothing I'd remember because he seemed like a completely new face to me. Apparently he's been in a cornball Lindsay Lohan project amongst other children or teen based movies before this. At any rate, his performance was more than enough to bear the weight of main character status as well as filling in William Shatner's shoes. He was definitely funny, charming and rebellious, channeling Kirk's future spirit but not making fun of Shatner at the same time. Spock is portrayed by Zachary Quinto, who was formerly a serial killing villain on the megahit show "Heroes". His performance was also riveting, although he did not stand out as much as Pine did. Whether this is due to Spock's inherent flat and soulless nature or the way that Quinto chose to portray the character is up to the viewer. Other notable roles include Karl Urban's "Leonard McCoy", the paranoid and constantly frustrated doctor Kirk befriends, and Eric Bana's "Nero", the vindictive Romulan. I think he was a bit overshadowed by the rest of the cast, although he did effective come across as a heartless and bloodthirsty threat in character.

I guess the quality of scriptwriting would be up for debate by viewers and critics alike. I thought that it was brilliant, although a friend of mine believed it to be horrible. According to him, the plot pretty much progressed on a string of unlikely coincidences (Kirk ending up on Delta Vega and meeting with another important character afterwards, Spock timewarping to the moment the USS Enterprise takes its maiden voyage, the fate of the planet Romulus, etc.) Except the Delta Vega meeting, I didn't notice any of these things. The story, especially Spock back(forward?) story and the idea of the mining ship and red matter, as well as the cast's acting, pretty much held my attention throughout. I also enjoyed the history of all the sayings and quirks the Star Trek enterprise is known for ("Dammit Jim, I'm a doctor, not a physicist!", "Live long and prosper."), as well as the Vulcan neck pinch, the invention of teleportation during warp speed and Uhura's first name. I have to warn you though, if I remember correctly, Kirk does not say "Beam me up, Scotty".

Pretty short, straightforward review here. I, for the life of me, cannot find a problem in the film to nitpick on. So........go see it if you haven't.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Light In The Murk

I'm going to write about something I was thinking about last night. Usually, because of its heavier religious tone than my normal posts, I'd put it into the journal instead of here. And this, in addition, is not because of any shame of being Christian at all, but for fear of alienating readers (which in itself I'm ashamed of fearing). Reading it back, it seems to have some corny, melodramatic parts, but such is the nature of the content itself. I've come to the conclusion that it's plain English and not anything that you need a particular viewpoint to understand. The only crowd that I write for is the intelligent one.

In last night's church service, instead of a sermon we had a panel discussion between three members about our church community and what we can do to outreach to the people in that neighborhood (when I say outreach, I mean make a positive difference with food or awareness or one of those things). To open up the discussion, a woman who used to be an actress and was a member from the church's first opening came up to tell her story. It was probably one of the most fascinating talks I've heard at that church thus far, listening to her talk about the conscience and listening for a voice of light to bring you up out of the darkness of self-doubt and pity and absence of rational pride. The disillusionment of your life being perfect and happy after you accept Christ.

This woman, she used to be a cutter. She tried to kill herself once. She went to the doctor at some point, to discover that she is bipolar along with some mental disorder. At 19, she began drinking heavily. Under the influence, she got into a car accident and tried to drive away from it, only to run smack into a pole a few minutes later. She was hospitalized, arrested and jailed for a few days. She came out and went to rehab for her alcoholism and her mind………and then went right back to drinking.

On Easter service at my church a few weeks back, she was supposed to show up and say something to the audience before our sermon. But the night before, a friend invited her out for a few drinks at a bar and she accepted the invitation. They went. She binged for 9 hours. I didn't even know it was humanly possible to drink that much, not to mention how much money she probably spent that night. But I digress. The usual occurred: someone volunteered to put her in a cab from the bar to her house. Someone called one of her roommates so they could tell the cab driver where she lived, since she herself was nowhere near able to put forth this information. All the buildings she passed by just look like various blurs, and she was too busy with vomiting on herself anyway. She got home. Her friends undressed her and washed her. She cried. They said they loved her. All she could think was "I'm a failure." But she said she could hear Christ say "I still love you. Come back."

She is now in a mental health program and rehab, working to get better and deal with her illnesses. I think that she as a person will be much better for it though, because she knows Christ will help her cope with everything that's there, and doesn't expect Him to "delete" it all.

I think……a certain kind of Christian uses Christ as an illusion to keep themselves happy. A run-to, in order to not address the uglier aspects of life. The drinking. The smoking. Sexual addictions. Suicidal tendencies. Crack and ecstasy. Attention from men/women. Money. Perhaps even murderous tendencies. They keep an image, an impression of the person of Christ in their minds in order to sweep all of these things under the figurative rug. But I think what Christ actually does is quite the opposite. I think that part of the purpose of accepting Christ into your life is so that you'd be able to face all of these things head on. To see what's being expressed in these actions and to reconcile them in something better, healthier.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

My Own Summer (Shove It)

Title to an old alternative song by Deftones.
It's been a long time. I shouldn't have left you…….without a blog post to step to.1

Summer is a comin'. This means good dining outside with white tables of champagne and Italian dishes. Preferably at a place with a backyard and not on the public sidewalk, where cars'll be coughing out black fumes and people on cell phones will accidently flick their cigarette stubs into my plate. This also usually means heavier bar circulation with friends (not that heavy). I will try to get to more concerts this year, preferably of the mosh-pit, crowd-surfing, head-thrashing kind (perhaps Killswitch Engage will play this year, although Paramore live would be great). More book and poetry launches. And all of this done while trying to save up for the bigger goals in life. I figure I'll stop monetarily supporting all the unnecessary habits, like eating, buying clothes or carfare, cell phone.2

I also really have to start drilling into the novels. Writing them I mean…..which reminds me. I watched an episode of a show last night called "Flashpoint", with Amy Jo Johnson, who used to be the Pink Power Ranger, and Enrico Colantoni who was on "Just Shoot Me!" and "Veronica Mars". The episode, called "Perfect Storm", was about a bullied kid who decides to bring a gun to school to make the bullies pay. The SRU (Strategic Response Unit) has to storm in there, look for the kid and defuse the situation before things get bloody. You know, I have yet to see any creative media capture the high school shooting theme right. In this episode, the bullies were cheesy and stereotyped (I guess, for the purposes of getting the point across in a short time). Simple strategic fighting back would've gotten these idiots off of the main antagonist. There was no real oppressive feel for him to result to grabbing the gun (although in the show's defense, the kid never did any severe damage to the student body). I will attempt to fix this though……….fix the high school shooting story, not the damage to the student body.

  1. Reference to an old hip-hop lyric by Rakim.
  2. I'm sure there are people who will not realize I'm being sarcastic.