Monday, December 31, 2007

Top Ten 2007

My Top Ten Moments of 2007.

My GGR, my culture plays a game called "top ten lists". It is a very common game at the end of a year. First, an explanation. By "my culture" I am referring to my little world of experience and the parts of which I assume that the people I know also experience. So, mass media, which reaches everyone I speak with, is part of my culture whereas my sore ankle is not (although, if everyone I knew had a sore ankle from a similar basketball injury then I would consider this shared experience to be culture).

I call "top ten" a game but that's not really the language we would use. There's no popularized word for the specific filters that mainstream culture encourages us to use to experience the world. Top ten lists have been around as long as I can remember. I call it a game because it is puzzling, challenging, and creative task to prioritize things into an order which can be debated. The mass media often organizes entertainment into top ten (or even top 100) lists. Everyone in my culture has a general sense of the top ten television shows, movies, and people (yes we are even given lists that rank people). At the end of the year the "top ten" game is commonly used to reflect upon the past 365 days. We are bombarded with top ten lists. Even top ten moments within the top ten television shows. So I'm going to play the game of top ten with my personal recollections of 2007. I present them in the order that I remember them. There's no regular criteria for a top ten list (allowing them to be endlessly debatable). I suspect the underlying criteria for most entertainment lists is ability to generate advertising revenue.

1. Performing on stage and announcing that I would like to take the next step to being an artist worthy of watching: and that step is total honesty and full disclosure. I asked the audience if they had any questions to challenge me. The whole day I was worried they were going to ask me what images I find sexually arousing and in the end they only asked me what I am most afraid of (death) and if I had ever hurt someone (of course, I told a story about the only completely malicious prank I pulled).

2. Finishing the writing of my feature length script. It was late, I was delusional, and one of the last scenes was so heartfelt that I started to cry. I hope everyone watches the movie on little sleep.

3. My final MEI trip was a masterpiece. I was very aware that I had hit my stride teaching philosophy and helping to lead the trip through Spain and France. I still feel I have a lot of history to learn. I know little about India, and reading Rebellion in the Backlands reminds me I know next to nothing about Brazil. But I am proud of my knowledge. Nothing surprises me in European history anymore. I feel like I have the whole picture and I know exactly where new puzzle pieces will fit.

4. Communication. Writing a script put a lot of thing into perspective for me and I feel like I have emerged as a greater conversationalist -speaker, and listener. I am honored that people trust me more and consider me unnervingly insightful. It's definitely related to becoming a better lover. I guess this is more of a theme than a moment.

5. Haunting of Matt Lemche. Technically, this was last December, but it carried through 2007. Making a short film with Matt was a great experience. It was quite rushed and I'm still proud of the quality.

6. Stand up. I don't relate to comedians who feel they have to test material in front of audiences before they can craft a longer show. I've always felt that I could write a show in my head and an audience would enjoy it. I proved that to myself in February and I just did another show in December. I know that I always perform to people who already know and like me but I also feel that my best work is on its way. Those shows were still a personal triumph. Each show of support is a reason for me to keep to creating comedy.

7. MEI Spring 2007. An all-star staff. A fine crew of students. I'm glad Matt was there because it was nice to go to the same places with someone who was new and appreciative. I felt like this was my victory lap around Europe. Late one night Lauren, Matt, and I snuck down to the beach. The air was cool and we were draped in hotel blankets. Lauren memorably claimed we were three wizards. That memory is a gateway to a thousand fond memories from that trip. Matt playing guitar. Playing frisbee in the rain. Playing ping pong during an ISU (each student does two "ISU"s. They are essentially extensive interviews with a teacher).

8. Building a steadicam. Classic engineer Dad and brother to the rescue. A quality homemade product with respects to the DIY strand of the internet.

9. I'm not sure if my memories are from this year or somewhere within the last three years. I'm thinking of things like stenciling t-shirts, the Vipassana retreat, celebrating car-theft day, first book club meeting, having Luis and Liz construct a movie set for me from stuff around the house, and I'm just trying to settle on some memory that is older than December but still in 2007... Well, this one was quite recent but I have fond memories of my brother, Andrew (who has now started a blog), deciding that we should roll the largest snowball. It had just snowed and the texture was what we call quality packing snow. So we rolled a ball that we could barely push. Then in one tremendous heave it split in two. I fell over the first chunk and was uppercutted by the second. Fantastic.

10. Today my brother is having a birthday party. I'm reminded of his last party back when I was testing a board game I invented. Only to find out that someone else had invented it before me. They had a better scoring system whereas I had better questions. I should get back on the making a game train.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Crying My Eyes Out

Today we shot a scene for our short film. M@ had to cry in the scene and, even though I was behind the camera, I thought it would be a neat idea to see if I could cry. I don't think I could weep through acting. By that I mean pretending to be someone else. As a sidenote I understand why actors prefer to say "becoming" or "portraying" rather than "pretending". Even thought it accurately describes what they do, it puts them in a mindset that makes it difficult to continue. It's the same for the military. Every soldier is part of a defense force, not an offensive, killing one.

Anywho, my secret to crying, and I turned out to be quite adept, was to picture delivering eulogies for my loved ones. I'm an extrovert in my family and have been called upon to deliver eulogies for grandparents. It's difficult but I was also called upon to be MC at my sister's wedding and that was sweet. I hope to become a quality eulogizer. It seems like an important skill but we never even mentioned it in twenty-plus years of school. I know it seems like a morbid assignment but I'd rather have a culture of brave acceptance than fumbling final speeches. Additionally, we should celebrate the Day of the Dead.

My memory is probably exaggerating (like when we think the movies of our childhood were quality) but I seem to remember a touching and funny eulogy delivered in the film Mr. Saturday Night by Billy Crystal. I hope to some day get there.

Back to tears. I have a vivid storyteller's imagination and I can quickly picture tear-jerking scenes. Like my mom crying in a peculiar new way. Or, a week after the funeral, me yelling at a friend and then, realizing I'm lashing out from my own depression, saying "I just want him to be back". It was thoughts of losing my youngest brother or my dad that proved most effective today. I imagined my Dad was hit by a car on the highway -while trying to help someone in the snow change a tire. He's a really helpful guy, see how that adds to the tragedy? I know, I'm a sadness genius. You should have seen me weep. What a fine species we humans be.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Best at Sex

Great Great Grand, this is what sex is like in my time.

Growing up the topic of sex is never overtly mentioned but it permeates many aspects of our culture. The media (particularly television and films) provides a general image of sex as a white male lying on top of a white female as she moans. They are naked and sweaty but often semi-covered by bedsheets -we never see their genitals. This is because that would change the rating that a Decency Board (through a secret but generally accepted process) assigns to each piece of fiction. In reality the term 'making out' was often used in my childhood. Making out includes activities such as extended kissing, touching 'forbidden' body parts (men have one -the penis, women have two areas, their vaginas and their breasts), and kissing said body parts. There are many euphemisms for sexual intercourse, the most popular is saying "I slept with him/her". This makes it impossible to simply state that you have slept with someone and not had sex with them.

My mind was thinking about this topic because Feministing.com is asking for submissions for their anthology on rape culture. In my opinion, we don't have a very positive sex culture particularly because so many things are left unspoken. We have laws against sexual harassment (using sex to make someone uncomfortable, from touching to insults) but most of my friends have experienced some form of it without any action being taken. Most of these incidents are caused by males taking an aggressive approach to sex and many others turning a blind eye because it is considered common, expected, and unpreventable. Example: a male friend jokingly tells a female colleague to "suck his dick" even when she is made uncomfortable by the joke. "Suck my dick" is a violent demand for fellatio used a) as an insult and b) to be sexually suggestive. It is occasionally used in rap music but, more importantly, reinforced by eager listeners who alleviate themselves of guilt by quoting a song. I say guilt because it is very widely known that these instances of sexual harassment are "wrong" but they are very rarely confronted. This gives a good indication where we're at.

How does your Great Great Grand fit into all of this? Well I had a very sheltered childhood. My parents have still never spoken to me about sex. Through school I was given some very straightforward explanations of what sex and puberty were. I applaud these sessions. There was one in grade six that I particularly recall. There was so much for me to learn that I don't remember really understanding intercourse at the time. I could not relate to any sexual issue that was explored through mainstream media. I thought that elementary school relationships were made up for television. Additionally, years of recycled storylines have created a large expectation about people having sex on their prom night (a senior high school celebration where we act like wealthy people. We rented a limo (a car that is fancy because it is long), dressed nicely, ate a meal, and danced). You should know, my Great Great Grand, how silly I feel describing these things so matter-of-factly. Our "prom" was not called prom. It was called "formal". I never worried about having sex at it.

There's so many other stories I'm sure you're interested in. Even if the future is a dismal, highly censored, oppressively moral world, I'm sure you are interested in your GrGrGr's sex stories. How did I "discover" masturbation? When and how did I have sex? How was it that I became the best at it? These are great questions.

I'll cut the shit. I'm sure you only really care about is how to be the best at it. There are a couple of tricks that have made me impressed with myself. Don't worry, I haven't always been the best so there's hope for you.

1. Balance.
Enjoy the sexual gratification of your partner. This is such a key secret. If you're selfish in bed you're f*cked and not in a good way. Don't play the martyr either, keep that sh*t balanced. I'm shooting for a one-to-one ratio in orgasms. Some people argue that male and female orgasms shouldn't be treated as equivalent. It's widely accepted that men reach orgasm much easier than women. In my experience, this is true, men are usually holding back from ejaculating to prolong sex and women are building to orgasm. But it's not that f*cking difficult.
2. Communication.
Talk about what feels good. Only be in sexual relationships with someone who wants to make you comfortable. Then you can be holy shit honest. You should shock yourself with how forthcoming you are about your sexual thoughts, desires, opinions. And you should keep asking your partner to explain more of their own sexmind to you. If you can speak openly and honestly then you have surpassed sex and become as god.
3. Perspective.
Sex is no big deal (Except having a baby; that will change your life so safesex that sh*t). We're robots with buttons. Press and lick them in the right sequence and we spasm and juice. Keep it all in perspective: maybe the person you're with is not up for having an orgasm that session, bottom line: are you both having a good time? Yeah, well what was gooooood? Have you planned any legendary encounters? You may notice that there aren't any physical tricks here about what direction to rotate your tongue. Don't get attached to them; understand and adapt to the partner at hand.

Also, if you want your partner to do something then bare minimum you should be comfortable having it done to you. Bare minimum. My GrGrGr, in my time there are three taboo but popularly known sexual practices that come to my mind: anal sex, swallowing sperm, and having sperm on your face or body. I am responding to many of the heterosexual men that I have met in my life. I am often disappointed by the amount of males that I have known who are turned on by these things but would never consider having them done to themselves. Actually, they would consider it degrading and use the imagery as insults. In that fact is everything you need to know about the state of sex in my world.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Forced Thinking

I put a great deal of energy and focus into jobs that I am assigned to do. I love exceeding expectations. But I worry that I am more obedient to external deadlines than to my own. One of the skills that I have is knowing how to finish my work. Even in school when I didn't want to do the work as the deadline approached something took over within me and I always completed my assignments on time. I wish I could live with that urgency every day.

These are the things I wish upon my mind each morning:
What have you made?
Live up to your talent, asshat.
Tell them now.

I was thinking about being on a plane that was about to crash and everyone trying to have a rushed and poorly organized orgy. We are on a plane, it just takes about eighty years to crash.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Catch 23 Tonight

Tonight (Monday December 3rd) at Clinton's (doors open at 8:30... if you pay them $5) I'll be performing at Catch 23 with Alex Tindal. I am excited.