Thursday, April 30, 2009

random acts of brilliance (charlie)

a typical saturday night until the following occurred...

“it was one of those unique situations where a deposit for urine was both direly needed and wholly unavailable. a group of us were on a roof deck, awaiting our hosts, when the last few rounds of oat sodas caught up with me, and i suddenly needed to de-water with a severe urgency. luckily, the terrace was decorated with a few small evergreens, conveniently potted in wooden boxes about waist-heigh. due to another small gathering of strangers a few feet away, and our hosts' impending arrival, a couple friends assisted in feigning conversation with me and obscuring anyone's view of my miteration. thus protected, i proceeded to relieve myself upon the pygmy conifers. of course, our hosts immediately appeared, with my tanks only half empty. i'd say this was the part of the performance most deserving of acclaim - in a portion of an instant, my sword was returned to its sheath with minimal spilling/stinging, and my friends and i turned to greet our hosts without skipping a beat. trees were watered, kidneys were drained, and our hosts were utterly oblivious to the desecration of their chic roof deck.”

-posted by charlie “Yeah, that’s right, I can stop pissing midstream” hoxie

for those of you who like to visual non-fiction characters: charlie is tall, visually appealing, easygoing, jocular guy who possesses a stellar mustache that can’t help but make those naked above the lip (below the nose) ring red with envy.

are you a person with above-average intelligence who has committed an RAB (random act of brilliance) and would like to share this moment of glory with your peers in order to be hailed properly? If so, e-mail your story to

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

what rocks? (orange sour patch kids)

orange sour patch kids

(a sexy party in your mouth)

why they rock: year after year, fancy statistics claim that more americans are going to the movie theater. this may or may not actually be valid, but regardless it’s certainly not the flicks that are roping in the theatergoers (see: white chicks, wanted, the love guru). what is it then? is there a lurking variable among us? yes. it’s the candy that puts people in the theaters, more precisely the sour patch kids and even more precisely than that for those bigtime precision fans at home: it’s the orange sour patch kids. aka the most wonderful candy known to man, woman and children of all ages.

why else they rock: because they have a totally excellent slogan. that being:  “first they’re sour and then they’re sweet.” (i tried to vote for this as america’s next top motto, but unfortunately does not quite exist…yet). it truly is a wonderful slogan. sour while being sweet? no, that would be an utter disaster. but sour and then sweet? brillant! it’s as if the candy gods knew me inside and out, as if they were appealing to my inner demons, my outer limits, my complex psychology: betray me with your sour and then win me back with your sweet. it’s the story of my life, but in candy form.

seriously, what’s the deal with their rocking: so we now know why box office figures have been skewed (take a bow, Taken) and we’ve scraped the surface of the freudian reasons why we so love the children of the sour patch, but the question lingers: what makes orange the flave o’ flave? well, it’s primarily a process of elimination. the yellow is too intense, the red is too wimpy and mild and the green is way too gangly and lanky. therefore, as the precocious and parentally-neglected goldilocks might say “the orange is just right.” also, it tastes the most like childhood.

further proof that the orange sour pitch kid has that “it” factor:  

things you probably didn’t know about sour patch kids:

-sour patch kids were originally called mars men (circa 1970)
-mars men were little aliens that were sold for one cent each
-in the mid-1980’s, mars men were renamed after cabbage patch kid dolls
-the yellow one looks strangely like mario lopez.
-sour gummi tape is a second cousin of the sour patch kids
-sour skittles are in no way related to the sour patch kids
-sour patch kids are more addictive than cocaine, heroine, and mario bros. 3 combined 

Sunday, April 26, 2009

an ode to "time"

(oh, and feel free to comment. it's not illegal).

did you ever wonder why are people always complaining about not having enough “time?”
it's because time is awesome, that’s why. so let's all take a step back, maybe even two, and appreciate the wonderful ways that time improves our lives.

tragedy + time = comedy
history + time = repeats itself
sunburn + time = tan
tan + time = cancer
science + time = cure for cancer
science + time + fashion = futuristic lab-coats
good movie + time = remake with sexier actors.
batter + time + preheated oven = brownies
time + overtime = inflated stats
alcohol + time = pregnancy
pregnancy + time = baby
baby + time = bitter, jaded, adult
bitter jaded adult + time = consumer
bitter, jaded, adult + time + romance = eternally happy individual
eternally, happy individual + time + anonymous phone call about wife's infidelity = bitter, jaded, dejected adult
bitter, jaded, dejected adult + time = ultra-consumer
ultra-consumer + time = tragedy
tragedy + time = comedy
tragedy = comedy – time
tragedy – comedy = -time + time = time travel
time travel + time = kill baby hitler + load up on honus wagner baseball cards
kill baby hitler + load up on honus wagner baseball cards = paradox
paradox + time = you disappear from photographs like in back to the future
back to the future + time = remake + sexier actors (circa 2023)

is there something out there that you think is particularly ode-worthy?
share it with us at

Thursday, April 23, 2009

what rocks? (tom kruse)

tom kruse
(inventor of hoveround)
(married to catie holmz?)

why he rocks: how many scientologists does it take to re-invent the wheel? apparently none, just a dude with a phonetically identical name to the notorious religion/pyramidscheme's mascot. meet tom "valkyrie this!" kruse, the inventor, founder and CEO of hoveround, the personal mobility vehicle dynamo which owns approximately 4.5% of the power wheelchair market. how, you might ask, did hoveround snag such a respectable slice of the power wheelchair market? well, if you've ever been awake at approximately 3:00 am, the answer is remarkably simple: the infomercial.

why else he rocks:
kruse realized that the best way to make money is simply to "cut out the middle man." truly, american's go crazy for anything sans middleman. it doesn't matter what. i know, i'm one of them. in fact, just last week, this guy in a snazzy tie tried to sell me gardening tools and assorted gardening equipment. i told him no thanks, but he was one of those guys who pretends he doesn't know the meaning of the word "no" (i.e. future rapist). finally, though, his charm started to wear me down and he nearly clinched a deal after announcing that his prices were so insanely cheap because he was able to "cut out the middle man." despite the fact that i don't have a garden, haven't seen a garden in years, avoid people who have gardens and probably couldn't even pick a garden out of a police line-up, i still seriously considered taking up this man on his offer because the idea of getting something without a middleman involved is rather intoxicating. and it's this kind of middlemanless genius that has turned many geriatric frowns upside down.

seriously, what's the deal with his rocking:
it all started with a vision. it's unclear whether this was a literal or metaphorical vision. regardless, in 1994, when tom cruise was off shooting Interview With The Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles, the tom kruse committed to enhancing the overall quality of society thought "let's build a [motorized wheel]chair that can go anywhere that someone can walk." while attending the prestigious university of south florida, kruse became concerned that his mother couldn't properly manuveur her wheelchair through the hallway. so he came up with a concept for a smaller, round, super-maneuverable wheelchair that could “turn on itself" and built the first hoveround electric wheelchair in his garage [why does it seem that most life shattering inventions (and bands) are invented in garages? is it the fumes? the funny garage doors? the inspiration of small spaces? it's the fumes, isn't it]. with a dream to change the way the world wheels and improve his mother's manaveuring skills, on june 28, 1994, kruse decided to bypass the medical equipment dealers who were often committed to other products. he started selling his electric wheel chairs directly to consumers. and the rest is history, a very profitable history, a very profitable history in which elderly woman can roam around the pinnacle of the grand canyon.

The 1st annual Cruise Cup
(where two men with similar last names square off to the death).

-tom kruse is a self-proclaimed entrepreneur
-tom cruise played an self-conscious entrepreneur in "Vanilla Sky."
winner: kruse (because the spanish version of vanilla sky was way better)

-based on an hour of shoddy internet research it is unclear who tom kruse is or was married to. in fact, he may not believe in marriage at all. he may consider the institution archaic.
-based on a lifelong, unavoidable tom cruise entertainment education, it is quite clear that cruise was once married to mimi rogers.
winner: cruise (because he was married to mrs. kensington from austin powers)

-tom kruse has never jumped on oprah's couch.
-tom cruise has indeed jumped on oprah's couch.
winner: kruse (because jumping should be reserved solely for trampolines).

oh no! times's up!

let's tally the votes...

well, it looks like the winner of the first annual cruise cup is...tom kruse (2-1).

stakes: kruse deserves to retain all rights to the name, including the much coveted verb rights (i.e. pulling a "kruse" means doing something that makes people over the age 65+ exceptionally excited). the actor formerly known as tom cruise should therefore be forced to commit harikari or, for all future "acting" performances, cruise should be forced to play only his character his character from tropic thunder. regardless of genre.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

what rocks? (mario bros. super show!)

the super mario bros. super show!
(part cartoon, part epiphany)
(editor's note: this blog is NOT turning into an NES nostalgic lovefest. On the contrary, it's turning into a blog that follows reader's suggestions, nintendo-related as they may be). 

why it rocks: throughout the seemingly infinite incarnations of the mario brothers (be it starring roles in the ever-evolving classic game series or lauded cameos in side projects like smash brothers) little is actually known about the siblings other than the following: 1) they are proud descendents of a decadent italian heritage 2) they like to dress similarly and have committed to colors that they feel best represent their unique personalities 3) they are, supposedly, plumbers. given the oversaturation of the mario bros. in the cultural marketplace, it is surprising that such a dearth of information persists. at this point in time it seems slightly inevitable that certain aspects of their biography will never be fleshed out (i.e. where they grew up, what drove them into plumbing, what exactly does mario do after saving the princess [and luigi, particularly, what is his role in this love triangle]), but this show provided a rare glimpse into the personalities of mario and luigi. one could argue that this short-lived series gave a third dimension to these two dimensional beings.

why else it rocks: for example, did you know that mario and luigi take great pleasure in rapping? it's true. every episode began with an addictive and artful rap anthem (click above to "warp" into a mario-themed utopia). what else? well, did you know mario and lui are semi-socialite hobknobbers whose roster of celebrity friends include Nicole Eggert, Vanna White, Magic Johnson and Sgt. Slaughter, all who visited them during their television show. also, mario and his brother live in brooklyn, new york where they are gainfully employmed as plumbers. despite a booming video game career, these live-action segments help viewers infer why they continue wih the plumbing vocation: in effect, it is their Clark Kent escape. no matter how difficult things get in Mushroom land, or how feisty King Koopa may be on a particular occasion, mario and luigi can always find a sense of self-worth as well as escape by fixing pipes. not to mention, their plumbing skill set has successfully translated into many a mushroomland savings.

seriously, what's the deal with it rocking: a good writer knows when to yield to an even greater writer. in this case, i feel compelled to let wikipedia inform you about the actor/renaissanceman who played mario. Consider: "Louis Vincent Albano (born July 29, 1933), better known by his ring-name, Captain Lou Albano, is an Italian-American former professional wrestler, manager and actor. With an over-the-top personality and a penchant for boisterous declarations, Albano was the epitome of the antagonistic manager that raised the ire of wrestlers and incited the anger of spectators. Throughout his forty two year career, Albano guided 15 different tag teams and 4 singles competitors to championship gold. A unique showman, with an elongated beard, rubberband facial piercings, and loud outfits, he was the forefather of the 1980s Rock n' Wrestling Connection. Collaborating with Cyndi Lauper, Albano helped usher in wrestling's crossover success with a mainstream audience. Capitalizing on his success, he later ventured into Hollywood with various television, film, and music projects." that's right, a 42-year wrestling career.

because there is no "imdb" for video games, here is an incomplete timeline of our friend mario's rise to prominance. to better illustrate this mercurial rise to those bored by video games, i have compared his progression to that of johnny depp.

1981: mario debuts in the arcade game Donkey Kong under the stage name "Jumpman." (depp burtss onto the scene with a chilling, astute performance in "Nightmare on Elm Street.")

1982: mario gets named "Mario" in the arcade game Donkey Kong Junior. mario shows off his "range," by playing the role of enemy, antihero, antagonist. (depp proves he is no one-hit wonder. he steals a few scenes in "Platoon." people chatter.)

1983: Super Mario Bros is launched in japan for NES (depp books a starring role in "21 Jump Street." He is young, but intriguing)

1985: Super Mario Bros is launched in the US for NES (depp is no longer merely young and intriguing. he is now "wise beyond his years" and utterly addictive to watch).

1987: mario agrees to referee in Mike Tyson's Punchout (depp gives a subtle, oft-forgotten performance in "Cry Baby." he proves whatever he does is something you should care about).

1988: Super Marios Bros 2 is released. it's weird, but cool. (Edward Scissorhands is released. it's weird, but cool).

1990: mario plays a doctor in Dr. Mario. He has a stethescope, it's believable. (depp emotionally doctors a retarded boy in "What's Eating Gilbert Grape." No stethescope, but believable)

1990: Super Mario Bros. 3 takes the world by storm. (depp becomes immortal in "Ed Wood." He makes black and white relevant again).

1992: Mario Paint is released to mild success. (depp isn't bad in "Benny and Joon." but he's not too good either.)

1994: Super Mario World is launched with the SNES console. the world is changed forever. (depp shines in "Donnie Brasco" and "Fear and Loathing" the world wonder what can't this man do? the answer: nothing.)

1994: prominence achieved

Monday, April 20, 2009

what rocks? (the wizard)

the wizard
(a seminal 1.5 star 80's flick)
why it rocks: it's basically "Rain Man...for kids" but with an absurdly superflous amount of nintendo gaming involved. need i say more, or can we simply hand out the retroactive oscars and move on to the afterparty already? but in all honesty, if there were an oscar for "best kids movie that actually kind of captures what it's like to be a kid and also plays out every child's backofthemind fantasy" than this film would most likely be a shoe-in. clearly we need more creative awards (as well as skillful engravers who could fit that all onto the nude, golden plaques).

why else is rocks:
because there was not a single kid in 1989 who saw this movie and didn't instantly desire to switch lives with fred savage. consider the premise: a 10 year old smartass (played by Sir Savage) rescues his semi-autistic half-brother from a nuthouse and then the two of them travel the country, hustling the seedy video game underbelly of america. this premise is accompanied by several splintered storylines that could only be described as "various hijinx." such hijinx include traveling by skateboard, traveling in the back of a hostess truck, traveling with a snappy, dazzling redhead runaway who decides they will go to LA and win the "video armageddon" (consequently receiving fifty grand), financing their mission by playing craps in vegas and eluding a curmudgeonly child bounty hunter. and those are just the "best of the hijinx," there are several more including christian slater as the older brother who can inexplicably fix video games even though this talent has no bearing or recurrence in the film and a young, babyfaced, ponytailed Tobey Maguire as a speechless goon (photo to your above-right).

seriously, what's the deal with it rocking:
if charlie, from charlie and the choclate factory, retired from the novelty candy racket and got into film, i strongly believe this is the sort of film he would be making. as stated above in the form of a fake-oscar award, this movie feels heavily like it was made for kids, by kids. and i think that's ultimately what killed it, murdered in the form of 1.5 stars, allegations of merely being a "90 minute advertisement for nintentendo" and no dvd release. there are a ton of "problems" with this movie: potholes in the plot, bland dialogue undeveloped and often archetypical characters, etc. but i don't believe these are problems at all, there are trademarks of seeing a story, a world, through a child. to prove this point further is the biggest "flaw" in the movie which is the general "unrealism" of it, personified by numerous occasions where the runaways interact with adults who don't even question this traveling trio. any adult would wonder where the hell are their parents, what's going on here, but in this movie adults never beg that question and that's sort of what makes it beautiful. kids don't think about how adults think about kids. kids are just kids and the world revolves around them. i don't intend to be "that guy" who supports unrealistic elements of movies, but i think when taken as a whole, this film is consistently unrealistic in signficant ways which serves to provide the story with a raw, exhilerating, poignant feel.

[author's note: i feel compelled, both to myself, and to you dear readers, to reveal that the snappy, dazzling redhead turned out to be my first crush. i'm certainly aware that this milestone must account, in some large way, for my affection for this film. what i'm saying is that clearly i am biased, and it's this bias that i wish to explain and inflict onto you because the truth is that biases can be a wonderful thing. it has also come to the author's attention, as of aproximately 10:56 am, that my first crush's name is Jenny Lewis and that this childstar was the lead singer of the band Rilo Kiley and apparently has an indelibly incredible voice. i must admit, though, that i am slightly bummed by this news. i had secretly hoped she was down on her luck and just waiting for an overly wordy writer to sweep her away. damn.]

before/after photo of my eventual wife (a.k.a. hands off):

Friday, April 17, 2009

what rocks? (
(a truly black-belt website)
why it rocks: sick of twiddling your thumbs while waiting for an online dictionary's definition to load? good news: twiddle no longer. now, you can use those nifty thumbs for more ambitious endeavors like hitchhiking, evaluating movies and being generally opposable. is an online dictionary conceived to follow the three core attributes of ninja-ing: 1) they are smart 2) they are accurate 3) they are really fast.

why else it rocks: in addition to the overall flashgordonness of the dictionary, there are two features that might pique your unique-bone: a random word generator that defines words you didn't even know you want to know and a running history that keeps tabs on everything you've looked up thus far. both are handy and add the the fun, nonchalant nature of the website. upon re-reading my previous sentence (as often I do to gain semantic momentum) it becomes clear to me that "nonchalance" is what ultimately makes this site particularly enticing. there is a general conceit that dictionaries must be uptight, rigid and proper in order to serve as a valid parlance resource. but why is this, really? when did stuffiness become a pre-requisite for knowledge? there's probably an answer out there, but whether my question stands as rheoritical or not, it's high-time to annoint is a new sheriff in town, a sheriff who can answer your word inquiries with superb speed and also superb nonchalance.

seriously, what's the deal with it rocking: the big selling point of the website certainly has to be the mental image that inevitably comes with each definition. whether i look up "gargoyle" or "hegemony" or "sartorial" i simply can't help but imagine a wildeyed ninja nimbly jumping down from his hiding spot on the ceiling, leaning into me and then whispering the desired definition into my ear. i will admit, though, that it slightly amazes me how over the past decade americans have recultivated both an ironic and sincere passion for ninjas. don't get me wrong, i have no ill-will towards those stealthy, well-costumed, sometimes knife-wielding shadows of the night. but ninjas, almost by definition, are non-american icons (except for american ninja michael dudikoff). in fact, back in the day, americans craved their very own ninjas and consequently "cultivated" the cultural lore and iconography of the cowboy. basically they did what hanukah did in response to christmas. regardless, ninjas are supposed to belong to the east and cowboys to the west. it surprises me that in an era of protectionism, buyamericanism and rememberthe80sism, we are still appopriating icons from other continents. It's almost unacceptable, is it not? So what I propose is that we ditch this ninja fetish and gallop into a semi-ironic, semi-sincere era of cowboy appreciation. a john wayne revivial of sorts. and don't worry, we can still keep the pirate-worship in tact.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

what rocks? (macarons)

french macarons
(mathematical cookie bliss)
[2 delcious cookies (ground almonds + egg-whites + sugar) x 1 cream-filled center] +/- raspberry jam = a world of no regrets
why they rock: the above equation is so intuitive and decadent that it almost makes math look fun (hell, it almost makes parentheses look fun too). nevertheless, let me tell you what is fun: eating a double-decker cookie with a sweet, sugary center that falls under the guise of "exotic eats," thereby not only satisfying your fickle taste buds, but also making you sincerely more worldly during the masticating process.

why else they rock:
for years, the "macaron" has been unfortunately confused with the "macaroon." has there ever been a more concise and delicious situation of less being more? it's like, okay, macaroon, we get it, you've added an extra "o" into your name, but dont' you dare think that makes you anywhere close to better. who do you think you are, speghetti-o's?

seriously, what's the deal with their rocking:
everyone loves an inspirational rags to riches story (except for socialites whose wealth is inherited). well, like a struggling musican toiling for a "break," the macaron existed for centuries in the kitchens of anonymity. things changed, however, in 1792 when two carmelite nuns seeking asylum in Nancy during the french revolution baked and sold macaroons in order to support themselves, thus becoming known as "the macaron sisters." (relatedly, a screenplay about these devout siblings may or may not have been recently optioned by paramount vantage. currently attachments to this project include ellen paige and queen latifah as the sisters, rob corddry as the cookie-tester, and nate corddry as the cookie-tester's blacksmith brother, who gets slapped repeatedly for suggesting the sisters try creating a human macaron...with him in the middle. no director is currently attached, but there are rumors. there are always rumors).

this submission was conceived and inspired by ms. tina yeh whose inordinate love for the macaron stems from her belief that "one bite into this sinful little thing, you are brought back to your first kiss under the brightly lit porch at your parents' house while your entire family stared on from behind the curtains while attempting to remain hidden." thanks, tina!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

what rocks? (lehman brothers)

The Brothers of Lehman
(former investment bank; potential terrorist?)
why they rock: america, apparently, hates bailing out enormous, greedy, arrogant banks. so, if that's truly the national sentiment, then we ought to love lehman brothers! not as much as the mario brothers, but certainly more than the menendez brothers. after all, lehman didn't go through the whole song and dance about wanting money, getting that money, wasting that money and then asking for more money. no, lehman chose to do it classy and go chapter 11 from the getgo. and you know what, that takes balls. or at least 1.5 balls.

why else they rock:
perhaps they couldn't have their cake and eat it too, but they still have their cake. uranium cake, that is. according to a hard-nosed bloomberg story released on april 14, the princes formerly known as lehman brothers own about 500,000 pounds of yellow cake uranium. the idea was that uranium would make a particularly kickass alternatve energy source, causing their ownership of this commodity to (Warning: Pun Ahead) explode as crude oil eventually skyrocketed. this alleged skyrocketing has yet to occur.

seriously, what's the deal with their rocking:
well, the good news is that lehman's radioactive material is partly stored in canada. enjoy the fallout, you canuckle-heads! the bad news is the terrible reputation that uranium and especially urinals have given "cake" in recent years. after all, cake is a wonderful, delicious and often mesmorizing thing. I recently polled a dozen friends and 58.3 percent of them said they would request cake as a dessert with their last meal if ever wrongly or rightly accused of a murder and sentenced to death row. shouldn't cake be spared the heartache via syntax? after all, there's no such thing as a urinanal cookie.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

random acts of brilliance (nicholas)

"this is a short story about Ben Burlap - my freshman year roomate and good friend - family from Indiana, they owned a pretty nice turnip farm outside of Indianapolis, one that received a good deal of subsidies. anyway, Ben was polysci, pre-law, did his interships every summer at the governors office in kid all around. i started to think, "this kid is probably going to go somewhere." i'm not sure where, but def gonna have some clout in that town one day. anyway, i went and swooped a variety of domain names that combine combinations of his name...sort of an investment, you know? Oh, and Ben has no idea that I've done this. So don't tell him."
-posted by Nicholas Ribeiro, amateur cybersquatter.
Nicholas has continued to show faith in his investment/friendship by annually renewing these domains since 2007. When this long-term investment pans out, he plans to spend his small fortune helping orphans learn to play golf.
are you a person with above-average intelligence who has committed an RAB (random act of brilliance) and would like to share this moment of glory with your peers in order to be hailed properly? If so, e-mail your story to

Saturday, April 11, 2009

what rocks? (uncle o'grimacey)

Uncle O'Grimacey...

(exiled mcdonalds spokesperson)
why he rocks: because he is the eccentric irish uncle of Grimace, the bemusing mcdonald's icon. and despite living in his nephew's strangely shaped shadow, O'Grimacey manages to always find a way to take off the month of march for his annual trip to mcdonaldland. why? because that's just the kind of uncle he is.

why else he rocks:
...or is he? let's just say Uncle O'Grimacey is no stranger to ulterior motives. as luck would have it, it appears these "visits" are actually shameless self-promotion tours to try and unload "shamrock shakes," a rare, yet delicious minty and frothy beverage that is sold around St. Patrick's day [note: only in certain, lottery-lucky, geographic regions]. Grimace realizes this sad, capitalistic truth, but pretends as if his uncle is a wise, caring, devoted surrogate-parent and O'Grimacey skillfully plays his part in this mutual self-lie. consequently, this relationship may very well be the most relatable aspect of the mcdonalds universe.

seriously though, what's the deal with his rocking:
in the 1980's mcdonald's decided to streamline their characters (not unlike the russian purges orchestrated by j. stalin during the hurkey-jerky years of1936-1938). this left Uncle O'Grimacey on the outside looking in. his frosty beverages are banned at most mcdonald's locations and their creamy aftertaste has been relegated to little more than a flicker of nostalgia. whereas most mascots would have responded to this type of rejection with, perhaps, random acts of vandalism, this green behemoth has chosen a far nobler path. recent sightings have pegged in the new england area; spotted at a degrading mascout audition for a new wnba expansion team and multiple times in the bathroom of a chic gay bar with the boisterous Phillie Phanatic.

what’s the deal with bromances? (feature essay)

this essay is apparently somewhat long. feel free to skip around.

Jerry and George are more than just friends. There’s a nasty rumor going around town that they are beyond buddies, pals or even compadres; supposedly, they are in the midst of a bromance. Sure, there's an abundance of evidence that makes this allegation relatively easy to swallow. Then again, watermelon-flavored chewing gum is relatively easy to swallow, but that may or may not riddle your innards for seven long, grueling years. True, Jerry and George hugged and high-fived like there was no tomorrow. They shared a stash of secrets, frequently traveled together and had inside jokes built into the walls of their inside jokes. They were a lot of things to each other; classmates (John F. Kennedy High), teammates (softball), scheme-mates (the “switch”), inmates (the finale) and, above all, consummates of bachelorhood. But the truth of the matter is that if you look squarely at the facts and abide by the wonderful rules of semantics, there was nothing particularly bromantic about their relationship. And it’s important for you to spread this anti-rumor in order to cancel out the original rumor.

The phrase
‘bromance’ was coined in the early '90s by Dave Carnie, the editor of a skateboard magazined called "Big Brother." He was specifically referring to the kind of intimate yet relaxed relationships that develop between skaters who spend a great deal of time together (note: if I were still in Cubscouts, this is where I’d receive my Wikipedia badge; also, did you know that bromance is a portmanteau, which means that two or more words are blended together to form one, big, super word?). Though it may have been coined over a decade ago, it seems the phrase has only been fully minted in the past few years, personified by an absolute explosion of usage across the entertainment landscape that makes Vesuvius look like a hiccup.

I think
now is likely the best time to define what, exactly, is a bromance. Like all tangents of romance there are a thousand voices, a million echoes and not one concrete definition of what it does, could and should mean. Despite the multitude of entries in the urban dictionary, it seems pretty clear that in the condominium of love, bromance is the elephant in the room who says “yo” and high-fives the other elephant in the room with no sexual agenda, only an unspoken desire to engage in future high-five marathons. In short – and without elephant allegories – a bromance is the intimate friendship between two completely heterosexual males whose respect for each other fuels an affection which generally goes beyond the boundaries of normal camaraderie. In an unspoken fashion, it seems to mimic and even emulate the process of romantic relationship; complete with a courting period, a honeymoon phase, and a readjustment stage as things progress to the typical tide that is to be sustained. And as a corollary, though not an absolute necessity, the bromance honors honesty and emotional openness more than a run-of-the-mill friendship. Unlike the typical male-female romance, however, there is seemingly an arrangement to treat emotional breakthroughs and borderline epiphanies with the same casual attitude as sarcastic remarks and lunch orders. As such, the context of the relationship remains without hassle. At least, in theory.

It’s important
to note that a bromance is not a mancrush or a variation of such. They are different, quite different. Conceptually, they aren’t even cousins. A mancrush is centered around one man’s admiration and perhaps even desire to become the other. The mancrush exists outside the scope of reality, in a land of idealism and emotional vandalism. It can exist (and often does exist) from afar, with no relationship necessary between the two parties involved. You can mancrush anyone at will. You can mancrush your boss, your mechanic, your male nurse, or just the guy in the spiffy striped suit who whistles a catchy tune as you watch him through your binoculars. Basically, the mancrush is exactly what it sounds like: a man possessing a crush on another man for a reason of his choosing. Except, like the bromance, it is theoretically completely heterosexual.

I forget:
does art imitate life, or does life imitate art? Forgive me, I tend to get confused. In an era of uncertainty, of over-choice, of the under-esteemed, the logical place to turn for progress in the big, small and even medium-sized screen (that is, a big flatscreen). Over the past decade, film and television have charted the evolution of the mano-y-mano relationship, so much so that the process of charting likely advanced the direction of the graph. In short, the revolution was and still is televised. Joey and Chandler succeeded where Bert and Ernie failed; they showed us roommates who liked each other, who really liked each other, but never gave off a whiff of homosexuality. Joey and Chandler made it fun to openly bromance, to change the range of a friendship to include awkward hugs and moments of immense grief broken up by laugh-track worthy one-liners. As the title of the show indicated, they were nothing more than friends. Things then evolved quickly, exponentially even, with examples everywhere. George Clooney and Brad Pitt made it openly cool to bromance. J.D. and Turk made it quirky. Seth and Ryan made it altruistic. Alan Shore and Denny Crane made it sophisticated. The 40-year-old virgin and his non-virgin friends made bromancing essential to self-esteem resurrections. Michael Cera and Jonah Hill made it possible for children of all ages to try it at home. Seth Rogen and James Franco made it acceptable for stoners to join in on the fun (a.k.a. bromancing the stone). As entertainment often does, it tickled an emotion within us, but in this case it went beyond, capitalizing on this unmentioned and untapped feeling and turning it into a norm.

As Wayne
once quoted while in his world: “Was it Kierkegaard or Dick Van Patten who said ‘If you label me, you negate me.’” I’m pretty sure it was the German with the unpronounceable name who put forth that idea. He was talking about capturing ideas in the imprecise cages that come with naming things. It’s natural and frequently extremely useful habit. But when you try put a bowtie on something that never stops changing, things get tricky. That’s what Wayne was trying to say. To try and define the volatility of human relations is a dangerous business that nudist beekeepers wouldn’t even touch. And who better to outdo a nudist beekeeper then, well, Brody Jenner? (Answer: anyone).

Brody Jenner,
the prodigal son of Olympic decathlon champion Bruce Jenner, took the challenge upon himself to call a spade a spade. On December 29, 2008, Mr. Jenner launched a show in which he searched to find a new best bud following a vicious fall-out with his previous best friend, Spencer Pratt. Nine men competed in challenges in an attempt to win a “bromance” with Brody Jenner on the cleverly titled “Bromance.” This should have outraged the bromance community and led to around the clock protests. Joey and Chandler must have been spinning in their metaphorical graves. And for good reason, this monstrosity of a tv show nearly caused extinction of the bromance. Did John and Jake Doe truly want to enter the type of relationship that brought to mind Brody Jenner’s saccharine smile? I’ve never met John or Jake, but I wouldn’t. Luckily, though, bromance didn’t go the way of the Baxter or the Coyote Ugly. It was revived, resuscitated and cemented into the cultural scoreboard with the recent release of “I Love you, Man,” a clever, somewhat realistic comedy that demonstrates the value of having an intimate heterosexual relationship. More importantly it spawned a new genre of buddy movie: the bromance and an explicit cultural acceptance of the concept without letting the outlines of labeling ruin the simplified complexity.

As with
any new, exciting term it can be fun to pull the label gun out of holster and retroactively re-dub personalities, situations and relationships. There is, however, a strong danger in doing so; it makes us trigger happy. Since the outburst of bromance has changed the face of the world (from Marlon Brando to Paul Rudd, that is), the phrase has been overly used and overtly used incorrectly. Like finding Waldo [note: okay, sure fine, I accept that Waldo has some kind of deluxe time-machine. That’s fine. But I don't accept that upon arriving in the Past, he makes no attempt to change his wardrobe to assimilate. Why, then, are his peers not gawking at him, wondering who is this freak in the striped shirt?] it has become a gladly accepted challenge to spot the bromances thoughout history. Some of the more popular false claims include Jules Winnfield and Vincent Vega (Pulp Fiction), Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen (Chicago Bulls), and Bill Clinton and Al Gore (the re-inventor of "is" and the self-proclaimed inventor of the
internet). I can’t help but mightily disagree with all of those examples. There seems to be an overwhelming desire to label any strong relationship between two very intriguing male characters as a bromance. This is absurd. One cannot trek back throughout the torrid course of entertainment history (and real history) and declare a romance between any two intriguing male and female characters. I mean come on, let’s be civilized about all of this.

back to Seinfeld. Did Jerry and George truly bromance? Can they be considered forefathers of a cultural movement that has changed the way that men interact with each other? Should they be properly memorialized in the bromance hall of fame? On paper, Jerry and George seem to make wonderful bromantic candidates. They rant, they ruminate, they recluse themselves from the world in favor of each other’s company. Their relationship is intense, intimate, and intrinsically honest. In fact, they know each other so well they’d likely toast competitors on the Newlywed game. Despite this supreme heterosexual closeness, though, Jerry and George cannot be classified as Bromeo and Juliet for a very simple reason: Jerry does not feel the same way about George as George feels about Jerry. At the end of the day the most critical tenet of the bromance is reciprocity. Both "partners" must have similar goals and intentions or you're doomed from the getgo.

among those goals and intentions, whether they be creative, athletic, emotional or timekilling, they certainly cannot veer away from heterosexual. Consequently, as straight as George may be, there is still a subtle hint that he seeks something more than friendly from Jerry. There is a sense of unrequited something; shreds of this je-ne-sais-quoi can be seen in the subtle pleasure he derives from mistakenly being “outed” with Jerry or the strange way that George opts to spend his “summer of George” as a pseudo-member of a bizarre three-person relationship that Jerry enjoys with Amanda Peet. The producers of the show further explicitly explored this area of intrigue before signing off (or for you diehards out there, before "sein-ing" off). In the final season, George dates a girl who looks almost identical to Jerry. Kramer refers to her as a femme-Jerry. Even George can't deny it, realizing that perhaps he might finally be content if he could have "what he has with Jerry, but also be able to have sex with her.” It's a tangled web, George weaves, but a web in which he secretly hopes to find Jerry caught one day and have him too realize that they ought to swear off women and live happily ever after in unabashed togetherness.

It's a tangled web indeed.
But it's not a bromance, nor a romance, nor even a mancrush. What Jerry and George are guilty of is a trophy friendship. Their entire relationship is based on Jerry being the hero, the winner, the alpha, the trophy. This therefore makes George the opposite of all those qualities; the foil, the loser, the beta, the sycophant. But don't send out the invitations to the pity party just yet, because actually George likes it this way. And so does Jerry. Their relationship may not be reciprocal but the disparity of their coolness feeds their self esteem. Whereas Jerry is the one who must decide between girlfriend and roommate, George plays the vital role of coming up with the scheme to help his buddy pull off the switch. In short, George loves that he gets to hang out with a guy as cool as Jerry and Jerry loves that he gets to hang out with a guy who thinks that he’s so cool.

The trophy relationship
is severely common and predates the bromance by quite some time. Countless examples are etched into our memories, highlighted by Fonzie/Richie, Yogi/Booboo, Bueller/Cameron, Batman/Robin, Norton/Durden, and even Vince/Eric (though this one is actually the reverse of what it should superficially be). These relationships are unbalanced, yet entirely symbiotic, particularly because of the misbalance. There is, however, something entirely flammable about these tight-knit arrangements. If, for some reason, the foil supplants the hero as the alpha, your in for a twelve course meal derived from a recipe known as disaster.

George can never succeed where Jerry has failed. George can never get the girl or steal the spotlight. He knows this and accepts this. This is what defines their relationship, their trophy friendship. That's why any time George seems to surge ahead of Jerry, if only for a moment, he immediately self-destructs. When he usurped Jerry at Career Day with increased intelligence due to abstinence, he quickly slept with his maid and reverted to his old self. When doing everything "the opposite" landed him a wonderful job with the New York Yankees, his first decision as assistant to the traveling secretary was to disastrously change the team uniforms to a very shirkable cotton. These decisions may have seemed odd at the time, perhaps even like plot twists out of left field. But I assure you they were not. They were the only thing that George could have done. After all, that's the type of friend he is. He's the lovable loser and he requires that love to survive. Not that there's anything wrong with that.


Friday, April 10, 2009

what rocks? (battle royale)


(a kickass novel by koushun takami)

why it rocks:
because it's a story about 42 Japanese middle-school students sent to an island where they are forced to kill each other until only one student remains. plus, it's well-written. 

why else it rocks:
because they are sent to this fatal island by the government. it's true. beyond the superficial literary bloodbath, the novel turns out to be a clever dystopian tale, featuring a totalitarian government regime which makes big brother look like little brother (or, at least, middle brother). in this bleak future, rock and roll has virtually been outlawed, leading to posters around the city that menacingly warn to "Stop Rock!" 

seriously though, what's the deal with its rocking: 
 of all the books annually force-fed middle, high and summer school students, "Lord of the Flies" tends to be one of the favorites. consider this book, then, lord of the flies 2.0. it's a quick compelling read that moves with the the speed and plot of a pulp, but with the velocity of powerful, realistic char acters. so, if you find yourself missing Piggy, Ralph or just conch shells in general, check out this instant-classic. 

[Oh, and also, this book inspired the movie "Battle Royale" which inspired quintin tarantino to "borrow" characters and concepts for his Kill Bill duology, which inspired david carradine to do a series of yellow book commercials which were pretty cool and more importantly made carradine relevant again, a status he parlayed into a guest starring role in a jonas brother video called "Burnin' Up" in which he teaches karate to a young, but zealous unspecified jonas brother. prizes will be awarded to the first, seventh and nineteenth person to correctly identify which sibling is absurdly learning roundhouse kicks from mr. carradine. please choose from the teeniebopping toocooltosmile hooligans below:]