Thursday, January 26, 2012

Random Subway Thoughts #1

When I'm riding the subway and I see someone with an odd hat, I always assume that its religious in nature. I'm not a completely ignorant person, I am aware of the religious dress for Hasidic Jews and even the occasional Mennonites that come to sing to us heathens. However, once in a while I will see a hat that throws me for a loop.

The other day I saw a man wearing a conical fur hat. It was like a smaller version of a dunce cap, made of a really dark, glossy fur. It was one of the most curious, silly looking things I've ever seen. It didn't even cover the guy's ears! Why wear a hat in the winter if it doesn't cover your ears?

To keep myself from being sent to Hell or some other less than desirable place after I die, I immediately think that it has to be a religious something-or-other. That way I can't think that it was just a ridiculous looking head-wear. Cause it wasn't someone making a terrible decision in hats, it's a person who is so devoted to their chosen religion that despite the ornamentation being silly, they are still completely into their God of choice.

That's something to be admired, not scoffed at!

But then again, it could just be someone with a very silly hat.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

So This Is Marriage

To make up for my lack of posts, I give you an example of what my James and I do when we are bored.

Friday, January 13, 2012

My First Attempt At One Space After A Period. How'd I Do?

An infinite amount of puking kept me from posting this week, and I was just going to say fuck it for today and go have a cup of tea, maybe take a nice bath and read Dune (how many nerds out there just got a boner?) - but then I saw some things on this glorious internet of ours, and I couldn't do anything except comment and write a ridiculous run on sentence.

Keep up, everyone.

I have a system when I get on a computer where I can just fuck around. After checking my email and Facebook, I head to my other websites to read other stupid shit that's been going on. I try to balance it out with a few news websites as well, just so I feel like I'm not a completely ignorant asshole. One of the news sites I peruse is, just to get a different slant on stories.  One story today was completely bananas.

It was a story about this medical team in Mexico getting a heart transplant to its recipient. It was all being done perfectly - it had two doctors accompanying it for its entire journey, it had to be flown on a private jet, then airlifted by helicopter to the hospital where the 20 year old girl was waiting for be given a new lease on life. As they were speed walking from the helicopter to the hospital, one of the guys tipped the cooler over and dumped the fucking heart out onto the pavement.

What the fuck, man?!?!

Ok, the heart was all wrapped in all kinds of crazy protection, it wasn't just laying on the street in the hot sun like a fucking dead fish. Everything was ok and they scooped up the organ, which was undamaged, and stuck it in the girl and it was all good. But how fucking pissed would you be? God knows how long this kid had been waiting to get a new heart. She had probably been put under way before the heart even landed so she would be ready for surgery as soon as the thing got there. They had probably already started the surgery! You can't just wait for the heart to get there before you start hacking someone open, that chest has got to be open and ready for precious cargo!

So you wake up, and you're all cut up and stitched and stapled and everything hurts and maybe for a second you're all, "My ordeal is over. I can start to live a normal life!"  Then you go, "Wait, what the what? This is still the old heart!" (I am assuming you can kinda tell when you have a brand new heart in, it seems like something that would register.) Then the doctor comes over to your bed and goes, "Sooo....Yeah. We were gonna give you a new heart, but we had a little too much to drink last night and we might have been a little stoned and we wanted to see who could throw the heart the farthest. Turns out, it was Juan. His heart-throwing arm is the BEST."

Honestly, for me, I would have preferred that to, "We were idiots and knocked the cooler over, and now you are back to the bottom of the list."  You couldn't even beat the shit outta them, cause you'd be all weak from having a fucked up heart!

If you are interested in seeing the video, its here.

I tell ya, made my heart skip a beat.


I admit, not my best.

The next website I stumbled upon made me really excited. The page title is "10 Kids About To Be Devoured By Zoo Animals [VIDEOS]". That's like Christmas and my birthday all rolled into one!

Just to be clear, none of the videos showed any child being eaten. I don't want to have your hopes dashed like mine were. I saw the words "kids", "devoured" and "zoo animals" and I was so excited that no other words mattered. Apparently, when I get excited to see a child die a gruesome death in the jaws of something big and hairy, my reading comprehension goes down the shitter.

But it is a page of ten videos of kids, probably years 7 and younger, who are ambling around the glass enclosures of huge predators, and said predators being absolutely clear what they would do to these delicious morsels.

One things I don't understand is that in most of the videos the parents are laughing behind the camera as the lions paw and snap at the glass and are saying things like, "Oh, Abby, he wants to eat you!" in that fucking awful, parent-talking-to-child voice. That's a great idea, parents. Make it a cute situation. Yeah, its FUN when an animal that could easily bite your fucking head clean off is clearly threatening your safety. And don't bother getting in between your baby and the animal. Teach your child that if put in serious danger, you're gonna stand off to the side with your fucking smart phone, giggling and recording the whole thing, so maybe you can have a viral video on YouTube. You're gonna say, "Oh, Ashley, but there's glass between the kid and the ravenous monster." When a kid is 5 and below, that's not something that is easily understood. Kids brains take a while to develop into something that can process complex thought.

And I need to know where these zoos are, cause no zoo I have ever been to has a pane of glass between me and a fucking lion, tiger, gorilla or polar bear. Every zoo I've visited has a wrought-iron fence, followed by a moat that's, like, 90 feet deep with spikes at the bottom and sniper towers all over the place, just in case something awful happens.

Let's add to the fact that these poor animals are fucking crazy. They've all lost their minds. They are in an enclosure that is a SHITTY interpretation of the wild places they acutally come from, just so assholes like you and your kids can come and gawk at them. The first video of the page is a huge gorilla going after a kid, and after he realizes that he can't get to him, the animal sits down and you see him process the fact that he just lost his shit. He is humiliated. And he has no where to hide to deal with the shame of going crazy in public, he has to sit in his PEN and deal with it in front of over-evolved chimps.

See, we shouldn't keep animals in zoos. We don't need to anymore. Now that we have cameras, we should let all the animals go. There used to be pride in having gone to a far off land and having seen an exotic animal in its natural habitat. Now we drag our idiot kids to the saddest place on earth to watch beautiful animals slowly go mad, while our offspring are more excited about an over-priced gift shop then the fact that they just experience a magical creature. Not that long ago, most of the world had no idea animals like this existed! You think in the 1800s an Native American had any idea what a fucking kangaroo was?

If we want to see these animals, we should have to make the trek, to go the Africa, India and everywhere else. We should have to sleep in a shitty tent and get a nasty local bacteria from drinking bad water and only just catch a glimpse of a majestic creature vanishing into the wilds. Then you could come home and say, "I think I saw something incredible."

If you want to see those videos, its here.

I may have gotten a little carried away.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Let Me Know When You Figure Out My Rating System

A couple quick reviews for ya . . .

In the last two-ish weeks, I've been lucky enough to get to the movies a couple times, and I thought I'd share my experience to help you make an informed decision on what to see at the theater.

Or whatever.

For my bachelorette party (Ashley style), my dear friend and maid of honor took me to acupuncture, Thai food and to see Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.  I had been itching to see this movie ever since I heard it was being made.  I grew up with British television and movies, and I have to admit, they contain a subtly that very few American movies and performances obtain.  I won't lie to you and tell you every second is riveting.  It is slow in places.  But, interestingly enough, I would imagine the things that go on in this movie - the research, the espionage and whatnot - are actually more true to what real life spy work is, rather than the Mission Impossibles and James Bonds.  One of the great triumphs of this movie is that the director never sat you down and had someone explain what was happening.  There was no prolonged exposition or pontification on exactly what was going on.  Thomas Alfredson (the director) trusted his audience enough to know he didn't need someone to come out now and then and make sure everyone was still on board.  He trusted that his story and his actors were compelling enough to keep you hooked on the tiny hints each character was giving, to see if YOU could figure it out before Gary Oldman.  I cannot stress enough how beautiful the performances were.  Mark Strong and Colin Firth in particular had some truly beautiful moments.  And I was so pleased to see Benedict Cumberbatch in a different kind of role for him.  If you are scratching your head as to who this gentleman is, you should first be ashamed and then be directed to the first season of the BBC show Sherlock.  He plays a modern Sherlock Holmes, and he does it brilliantly.  In that show, he is hugely intelligent, on top of his game and without a doubt a force to be reckoned with.  The character he plays in this film is smaller, more subtle and not very sure of himself.  It was really intriguing to see him in situations where he had none of his trademark confidence. 

If nothing else, every actor should see this movie to see how to tell an audience something without saying a word.  I highly appreciate that in films, and I give Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy a resounding Awesome Sauce.

This past Wednesday my James and I went to see the new Sherlock Holmes movie, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows.  Have to say, I was disappointed.  And mostly I was let down by the lack of motivation.  No one really knew why they were doing anything, but they just kept doing stuff.  It was never even completely clear why Moriarty was doing the things he was doing, he just did them.  At one point he alluded to money being the driving force behind his evilness, and I have to call bullshit on that one.  After chatting with my resident Sir Arthur Conan Doyle expert, I have confirmed that Moriarty is the perfect foil to Sherlock.  Very often we are reminded that Sherlock is behind in the rent, needs money, etc.  He doesn't do what he does for the money, he does it for the thrill of the chase, in order to be the one who discovers the truth behind the lie that initially stumps him.  Moriarty is evil, because he is evil.  Money is nice, and he would get money as a result of being evil, but it would never be his sole aim.  Think of The Joker as a proper British man.  And a little quieter.  He just likes to make things terrible, you know?  He would never kill, maim or destroy just for a paycheck.  He is more sinister, more conniving.  And in the end, that is a much more terrifying villain than someone who just wants to add to his bank account.  If he just wanted that, why didn't he just rob a bank?  He could probably very easily have it done, and get away with it.  There was one interesting moment in the film, when Sherlock and Moriarty were about to fight, and Sherlock goes through the fight ahead of time in slo-mo.  Moriarty then does it back to him, to show him that he can play that game just as well as our dashing hero.  It was intriguing and exciting to see Sherlock stumped. 

So, this movie gets a Could Have Been Worse, Could Have Been Better label.  Definitely needed a better villain.

Now, last night I went to see The Artist.  I have to say, this movie was wonderful.  In case you haven't heard of it, its a silent movie, in that old style of silent movies.  No dialogue at all.  This movie relies solely on the expressiveness of the performers and a few sparsely placed frames of dialogue (like in the old fashion silent movies) to get the story across to the audience.  Jean Dejardin and Bérénice Bejo accomplish this perfectly.  They are beautifully watchable, and talk about a movie that doesn't over-explain!  By giving himself the challenge of not using dialogue, the director, Michel Hazanavicius, ensures that there cannot be any moment that is burdened with heavy handed exposition.  I found myself more willing to interact with this movie, too.  By interact, I don't mean that I was speaking to the figures on the screen.  I mean that by knowing I wasn't going to miss any dialogue, I felt more freedom to laugh, to sigh, to have a moment.  I left the theater feeling really good.  My best good lady friend (who was with me) and I wanted to dance down the street afterward.  It was a glorious return to Old Hollywood, and I loved every second.  Those of you who have seen Singing in the Rain will see similarities - a silent movie actor dealing with the rise of the talkies - but it was just different enough to keep me thoroughly engaged and excited for the characters. 

I have to award this movie not only with Awesome Sauce, but also with Deliciously Charming.

Fun fact, my maid of honor, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle expert and best good lady friend are all the same person. 

Hows that for a fucking twist, M. Night?

Saturday, January 7, 2012

I Guess I'm No Elizabeth Báthory de Ecsed

Raise your hand if you love serial killers!

Let me re-phrase.

I am completely fascinated by the serial killer.  Even before Dexter I would look up old cases like Gacy, Bundy, Kemper and, of course, the Zodiac, just to see how these frightening true stories turned out.  Call it a morbid curiosity, but I can't help but find something compelling about these (predominantly) white, late 20s, early 30s men who feel the compulsion to end another's life.  Often not for any personal hurt or financial gain, but for . . . what?  Often they can't or won't even say why they do the things they do.

So, I thought I would sit down, light some incense, make a nice cup of tea and think about killing.  Specifically, what kind of serial killer would I be.

Let's see ...

First off, classifications.

The Medical Killer - This one (according to the Crime Museum's website) is relatively rare.  Most people drawn to the medical field want to help people, or just get rich.  But some join the ranks of the medical elite in order to play out their sick fantasies on the ill and dying.  Often people attracted to medicine have a semi-God complex anyway, a great interest in the power of life and death.  Some take this to the extreme.  I read a story about Dr Harold Shipmen, supposedly the greatest serial killer the world has ever known.  He killed 459 people with morphine overdoses, and was only caught when he forged the will of one of his victims that would have left all her estate to him.  Even the notorious H. H. Holmes enrolled in medical school to have access to cadavers, to practice playing out his madness.

I probably wouldn't be that one.  I mean, you have to go to med school, and that is so expensive now.  And all the studying!  Fuck that, I quit.

The Disorganized Killer - Now, these guys would be the ones other serial killers look down on.  Right away, even if they weren't brutally murdering their fellow homo sapiens, they wouldn't be people you'd want to hang out with.  In most cases they have a below average IQ.  Severe social ineptness, living alone and not dating.  Highly unstable family, often an absent or abusive father.  Hygiene is normally in the range of nasty, sweaty, and smelling of urine, living space is usually also messy.  These are the people that need to return to the scene of the crime to relive the act.  They are often very - to put it technically - fucked up in the head, hearing voices, seeing visions, etc.  Richard Chase was one of these gentlemen, who killed 6 people in a month, and with the majority of the remains engaged in necrophilia, cannibalism and . . . "bathing-in/drinking-blood"-ism.  Very poorly organized overall.

I think we can all agree that I am not anything like this breed of killer, as I am attractive, shower often, am incredibly pleasant to talk to and generally keep a tidy home.

Not to mention my slight OCD would never allow for the mess killings like this would engender.  THAT would drive me crazy!

Mission-Oriented Killer - I feel like we hear about these guys all the time.  These are the ones who go after prostitutes, gay men, blonde young ladies and the like.  For what reason?  They feel they are vindicated in what they are doing, as they are "justly" removing a certain group of undesirables.  Think Hitler without the government behind him.

I don't hate any one group of people enough to kill them.  Not a whole group, anyway.  I don't have any problems with prostitutes.  In the olden days, my profession wasn't defined much differently than theirs, so in some ways we are soldiers in arms together, just (for me) no coke or cock.  If I had a problem with homosexuals, I would need to find a new profession.  You can't go into any casting without tripping over a whole bunch of fabulous gentlemen and ladies!  As for blondes, meh.

You can't be a serial killer if your attitude is "meh" toward the people you're killing.  Why waste the effort if that's the case?

The Thrill Oriented Killer - The act of killing gives these people an intense thrill.  They find it exciting, I have even read that rather than the sight, its the smell of blood they find exciting.

I have studied too much story structure to do something this intense that didn't have a theme or deeper meaning.  And again, it would just be messy.  I would end up more irritated than when I started, and the whole point behind this is release!

Lust Killer - ...I think this is self explanatory.

Um, gross.  I don't want to do that.

The Organized Killer - These are the big granddaddies of the serial killer world.  These are your highly intelligent, meticulous monsters.  The crime is very carefully planned out, the victims sometimes watched for days before they are approached at all.  They leave little to no evidence, and oftentimes the impetus for killing is the thrill of stumping the investigators.  This would be akin to Hannibal Lecter and even the Zodiac Killer.

Honestly, in the end, I don't think serial killing is for me.  I like to think that I would be The Organized Killer, eluding police for years, all the while leaving bodies and taunts in my disastrous wake.  However, if I am going to be completely truthful, I think I would be more like the Laurel and Hardy of serial killers.  Nothing would go as planned.  I would end up killing the wrong person, I would leave ONE finger print somewhere stupid.  Actually, no, I would probably leave a bill with my address and phone number on it by accident.  No other evidence, just my fucking license.

It just so hard to commit a decent murder these days.

And in reality, I just don't have time for another hobby.

Friday, January 6, 2012

I'm Not Changing My Last Name, Though.

I have to get a little profound here for a second.

This past Monday marked the three year anniversary of the day I met my James.  I had been called into audition for a play, and the man reading opposite me was to play my husband in the performance.

Although I had no idea at the time, he would fulfill that role in my actual life as well.

This past Monday my James and I stood up in front of 15 of some of our dearest friends and family in our apartment in Astoria and vowed to love, honor and protect each other for our whole lives.

Yeah, we got married.

This was not a last minute or brash decision.  We've been engaged for two years and we always knew we wanted to have a small wedding.  James had proposed on a New Year and we figured it would be best to keep our anniversaries all bundled up in one place.

We were also a little sick of people asking when we were going to do it.

I didn't know if I would actually feel different when I said my vows and got that all important kiss.  We'd been living together for over two years, we've talked about the possibility of having children, we've worked on our credit together, we're in the midst of raising two trouble making cats - what could a ceremony do that would change anything?

Ceremony.  I don't think we understand the significance of that word anymore.  The notion of a ceremony, a ritual.  You understand why we do these things?  Why the Catholic church uses incense, Muslims face the sun to pray and Jews wear a yarmulke.  It has everything to do with us, as humans, honoring something too big for us to understand.  While we have our religious differences all over the world, honoring the unknown in any small way is a huge deal.

The idea of two people joining to live a life together is an aspect of religion that goes back many thousands of years.  Before Jesus walked on water (or just told his Disciples to tell people he did after he fell in cause he was all embarrassed), standing up in front of witnesses and your chosen deity and promising to live a life working together has been a basic tenant for time out of mind.

When I was standing in our living room with our friends around us, listening to our magnificent minister read our ceremony, I got a sense of that.  I was joining in a tradition that has been and is being practiced all over the world.  We didn't bring the Almighty into our situation as I have enough imaginary friends to begin with, but I couldn't help but feel a very powerful intention being created by my James and me.  This was different than lying in bed holding each other, extolling our love and promises for the future.  By standing in front of people and promising to be faithful and loving, I was suddenly not only responsible to James, but to everyone I loved who was watching us.

It was an odd, empowering feeling.

I can say without hesitation that I am very happily married.  That I cannot imagine hitching my life to anyone else's, but that wonderful man who had tears in his eyes as he clasped my hand and promised to worship me with his heart and soul, who laughed through his tears when I said my vows and who is just as beloved to me now as the cold February night I fought with him on that subway platform when I yelled at him that I was falling in love with him.

I wish everyone the opportunity to love someone to the extent that I do.  It's messy and complicated and uncomplicated and pure and deep and powerful and it hurts and it soothes and its comforting and confusing and funny and serious and everything and nothing and it always changes.  And just as soon as you've found a definition, just as soon as you've found a way to grasp it, you realize that, no, that's not quite it.

Marriage is an practice that needs to be protected and honored, and that has nothing to do with the genders of the people participating.  It has everything to do with making a promise.  A vow.  That's an important word.  Vow.  That is something you cannot break.  That is giving a piece of your soul away with no thought for it back.

I mean, if you have a spouse who is beating you nightly or is driving you to debt with a nasty coke habit, yeah, there are extenuating circumstances that allow for ending a marriage.

But if you've known each other for a week and a half, maybe give it a little more time before you decide to have and to hold.  Remember, anyone can have a wedding.  A marriage is different.

I'm no marriage expert, it hasn't even been a week since my wedding day.  But I know my James, and I know how to love him.  James knows me, and he knows how to make me laugh and how to make me feel precious and loved.  That is no small service for one person to give another.

Ok, back to your regularly scheduled program.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

NYC Subway Etiquette - Keep Yourself Alive

As the holiday season in New York City ends, you can feel the residents of this great city begin a careful, controlled sign of relief.  The winter holidays are a difficult time for us New Yorkers.  Its cold, yet we're expected to be festive.  Homeless people badger you a little more because its the "season of giving".  Everything your friends and family want can only be found at that one specific specialty shop and costs a fortune.

And more importantly, its tourist season.

Those of you who live in sunny, beach-y destinations will understand what I am talking about.  I'm sure traffic gets all gnarl-y with the influx of people and ignorance abounds.  For example, many tourists who come to New York feel it is completely acceptable to stop in the middle of the sidewalk, four people across, look up and gawk at a building.

Let me be the first to tell you, this is not cool.  Yes, you may be on vacation, but some of the thousands of people on that very same sidewalk which you are blocking are trying to get to work, to class, to an audition.  Such idiotic behavior could cost someone a flippin' job.

My biggest issue, however, occurs when tourists attempt to ride the subway.

Oh, I get it.  You want the whole experience.  You want to see how the locals live, so you get on one of the most heavily trafficked public transit systems in the world.

Just for you adventurous morons, I have put together some unspoken rules about the subway.

And away we go . . .

We will begin very simply.  Let's just enter the subway.

1.  Not everyone in your 24 person family needs a subway card.

How often are you actually going to use the subway?  Maybe twice, before you go back to taking cabs?  Putting $5 on every individual card is unnecessary.  When you are dealing with cash cards and not unlimiteds, you can use a single card more than once.  Just put $25 on a single card and stop piling up in front of the card machines so those of us with perishable groceries can get a card and get home.

2.  Move aside, people!

In America, we drive on the right.  Those of you from other countries should learn this, and those of you actually from the states need to stop being idiots.  It goes to follow, that when using stairs or escalators that you need to move to the right.  Eight of you lined up across a stairway will only earn you the everlasting hate of New Yorkers who just missed that train that would have gotten them to the office on time.

3.  Subways are not elevators.

When those doors are closing, they are closing.  Sticking one hand in between the doors is only going to hurt, slow the train and piss off the people in that car.  Putting a bag, shoe or family member in the way of the doors will probably mean you will lose that item.  Slowing the trains also fucks things up for THOUSANDS of people.  Believe it or not, the trains are actually on a schedule.  Making a train stop and wait until you figure out if you need to go uptown or downtown is not a way to win friends.

4.  Move to the center of the car.

We know you're scared and this experience is wholly new and different.  The subway car will not eat you, and very few New Yorkers bite when unprovoked.  By huddling around the doors you are getting in the way.  You are not made of air, and the rushing inhabitants of the Big Apple cannot pass through you like a ghost.  We are not below shoving and pushing, however.  And use the poles.  Each time the train starts one of you falls over, often on a poor woman who is exhausted and just wants to get home.  You have not improved her day.

5.  Don't go to 11.

The cars are not huge.  Yes, they can be a little noisy, but that does not constitute the attempt to be the loudest person on that train.  You can slightly raise your voice and speak to your neighbor.  No need to scream across the car, disturbing (in some cases) the only peace a person has had all day.  Turn the volume down.  This is helpful to you as well.  Speaking loudly and with a dramatic Southern accents makes you a target for pickpockets and muggers.  Low profile, guys.

6.  Exiting.

Follow rule #2 when leaving the station, only now we are going to add a little choreography.  Once you have reached the top of the stairs/escalators/whatever, quickly step out of the way.  Congregating in the threshold of the station means that anyone in front of you trying to get in and behind you trying to leave, can't.  Hop, skip and a jump and you are out of the way.

Huh, just noticed that most of these rules can be summed up with "Get Out Of The Way."

I guess I could have just said that.