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December 11, 2009

vampire cowboys saturday night saloon

It is that time of the month again.  Tomorrow night (Saturday, 12/12) in a light industrial section of Bushwick that very much reminds me of years ago, the fourth edition of the Saturday Night Saloon, at which episode four of "Jack O'Hanrahan and the Troubluation of Doom" will be performed for the first/last time.  This is a theater-thing that I wrote.  Me!  With words!

And people have liked the first three, or at least taken the position that they liked it when I'm in earshot, so hopefully tomorrow will win the night.  Which would be hard, because there will the work of others as well, and Dustin Chinn and Crystal Skillman both lap me in an effortless manner.

The thing is free free free, and you can drink beer for only five bucks if you are the beer-drinking type.  And not so hard to get to!  A few extra stops on the L, or the B60, which lets you off right in front of the theater.

And to those of you not living in the Five Boroughs: how ya been?

Posted by mrbrent at 11:01 AM

good morning 12.11.09

So yesterday I noticed that this pricking on the top of my left foot while walking, probably a bit of something stuck in there , and I thought to myself, "Just my luck: broken glass in my shoe."

This morning, as I changed from my street shoes to my office shoes I noticed, right next to my chair, a piece of freakin' broken glass.  Happy, and smiling at me.  Looking at my foot like it was Kristen Bell.

And this is not the kind of office in which much glass is ever broken, either.

Officially freaked out.  I should not have read Lev Grossman's "The Magicians" right before bed.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:24 AM

December 10, 2009

just a thing

You know, in the summer after the freshman year of college, me and my buddy got jobs at the same place, as cleaners at a movie theater that had just opened.  We'd get there at seven in the morning or so and then clean until eleven.

It wasn't a lot of work, weekdays, just because people don't see a lot of movies on the off days.  There was sweeping and mopping and vacuuming, but it really wasn't enough work for the four hours.  We somehow made sure that we were assigned as a team.  For a while, we'd hide a tennis ball behind the curtain of the main theater and play baseball with a broom handle every day.  But after a while even that got boring, and we'd ration naps until it was time to clock out.

And there were the characters that we suburban kids hadn't met yet — the supervisor who pretty much knew about the naps but I'm pretty sure was hitting the VSOP while we dozed, and the old smoke with the duct tape holding his belt together, who could wipe down a counter for three hours, happily, and would always exclaim when he found spare change, "One centavo!"

Which was the fun.  We found a shitload of change under the seats, which was all ours.  And most days, since it was the summer and we had little else to do, we would drive down to the bowling alley, where the video games were, and unwind after a long morning of napping by playing first-person shooters until the quarters ran out.  I forget what we played.  Maybe 1945?  The buddy in question has no online presence, or I'd link him up.

I don't miss the goofing off — I'd like to be either busy or not there if I'm on a clock.  But that little grace period, driving down to the bowling alley and killing an hour before we went back to our folks' homes and had lunch?  I miss the shit out of that.

I miss a lot of things, duh.  But I'm having one of those weeks, on account of not being fully acclimated to grown-up-dom.  And of all the pre-adulthood things one would like to go back and redo, that's one I just want to recreate.

Posted by mrbrent at 6:52 PM

goldman sachs: brand new halo

I thought the British law taxing banker's bonuses was a big story and worthy of note but I did not type fast enough because now, as usual, Goldmann Sachs has hogged the spotlight once again:
Moving to quell the uproar over the return of big paydays on Wall Street, Goldman Sachs announced on Thursday that its top executives would forgo cash bonuses this year and that it would give shareholders a say in determining compensation.

The implication that Goldman Sachs is trying to head normal-person-outrage off at the pass is an obvious one, and the fact that Britain acted so provocatively would buttress the argument.  But I say that's cynical!  What is there in the great canon of selfish greed that says that the greedy can never once be gracious and humble, and to demonstrate this grace and humility by bravely offering to accept less?  Did Ayn Rand ever say, "Don't ever do that?"  I didn't think so.

And I had just asked for a new pitchfork/torch set on the Christmas list I give my family.  Alright, everyone, I guess we should give Goldman Sachs a big hug, big enough to not notice them picking our pockets.

Posted by mrbrent at 2:59 PM

graeme mcmillan on thoughtless plot mcguffin

If you are the sort that is still reading the funny books, or contemplating going back into the funny books, let me recommend this brief essay by Graeme McMillan which pretty much tracks with my mixed feelings concerning the last five years of stories coming out of the publisher they used to refer to the House of Ideas (and will soon just be called The Mouse):
Wondering how long it'd take for the events of September 11th to go from real life tragedy to thoughtless plot McGuffin?  Marvel's new mega-event Siege demonstrates that the answer is "eight years, and we can kill even more people."

Oh sure it's continuity-heavy and requires at least a little knowledge of the so-called 616 Universe (which is shorthand for the comic book reading faithful for the world in which Marvel Comics characters live), but to me the heart (or at least the lungs) of the past decade of dark/gritty superheroics is a certain nihilism, and a joyless one at that, as if once the barrier fell for Lot's O' Killin' in the pages of a comic book whose main character is older than you are, then creators started to get mayhem-y just for the sole reason that they could.

Si think of the essay as not about the intricacies of the gears that drive the fanboys to the stores, but about the greater issue of an author's responsibility to the world created by such author.

Posted by mrbrent at 12:14 PM

paparazzi ruin my day

The walk to work was upset by a little snapshot of life today in this big city, and why everyone who hasn't gotten off my lawn should get off my lawn.

A lady is getting in a cab in a fashionable Manhattan neighborhood.  I'm standing up the block from her on the Avenue, as she comes from the sidestreet and enters the cab like a normal person would.  Then all of a sudden a big guy comes darting from the side street to the door of the cab and crouches.  Both his hands are up at his face, so while menace was emanating from this douchebag, it didn't look like he intended violence.  It's a camera, of course, with one of those lenses with soft rounded lines, that looks like it was grown in a vat.  The cab takes off down the street, and as it passes me the passenger has her back to the door, shielding from the paparazzi.  But as the cab passes me by fifteen meters, the lady looks back, amazed (and smiling, not upset).  Seeing her face, I place her as Stephanie March.

Now Stephanie March is a classy lady and a decent actress, but I do not think that my mother and my sister, pop culture mavens both, could place her on name alone.  Nor would any of my aunts buy a copy of OK! Magazine because it contains a picture of Stephanie March getting into a cab.  So, really?

Looking back to the pap, a surprisingly nimble largish guy with a piggish look on his face, requisite bad-guy's day's worth of stubble, shrugged as he checks his shots and he stumbles back to whatever nook he was hiding in.

It was a violent thing to watch and it makes me despise a culture that has room for such venal bullshit.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:30 AM

December 8, 2009

prurience used to be fun

Dear God.  I know I am not the only one that occasionally calls to attention the fact that The Huffington Post may spend its days as a respectable news aggregator but at night will stoop at pretty much nothing to milk an extra click out of a tired pair of eyeballs, but this afternoon I see this story displayed on their front page:

Sure, you can say "douche" on TV and all that, but the fuck?  The news in there would be that a burglary is foiled, so then that goes in the police blotter.  But to listen to the woman as it happens?  Is it too late to shove the Faces of Death back into the shadowy corners that they used to live in?

Granted, maybe is a nice break from endless posts based entirely looking down the shirt of Tiger Woods' sex partners, but it's the wrong kind of break.  Prurience used to be fun, God dammit.

Posted by mrbrent at 5:10 PM

that's two d's in tedd, right?

If you're gonna have to go to a memorial, let it be for a great man or woman, and that is exactly how I spent last evening.  It was heart-swelling and moving and collegial in that well-met-in-the-darkness sort of way.  And then it got like unto a wake.  And now my head is hurty!  Oh, I feel like a punchline.

But not as much of a punchline as Tedd Petruna, the alleged foiler of an airplane hijacking, who says that that's his story and he's sticking to it, but he can't talk about it because he's talking to lawyers about suing all of you for defaming him by quoting from his email!  And I only say "punchline" not because I personally think that Mr Petruna is in any way a punchline, but rather because he's inspired a Twitter hashtag which utilizes Mr Petruna's name for comedic effect. 

Hence, punchline.

So let's get this day off the road.

Posted by mrbrent at 11:34 AM

December 7, 2009

pareene wins day

It's tempting to cut and paste the entirety of this post by Alex Pareene because it is so vicious and perfect, but that's not playing friendly with each other.  In this post, Pareene notices that Jonah Goldberg, well-known conservative tool, got hisself a new book deal.  This is my favorite mean/brilliant sentence:
His last book, Liberal Fascism, was based entirely on the fact that someone told the 40-year-old Goldberg that "Nazi" stood for "National Socialist" and then he basically stopped listening.

Sorry so short, but it's only eight sentences long.

Please remind yourself that being mean to people in print is a grand tradition of literature in the English language, and I'd hate to see it slip into disrepair.

Posted by mrbrent at 3:33 PM

listicles: driving the economy

Maybe Bob Iger is right, and the industries that may well fuel us into prosperity down the roads are not the ones you'd ordinarily think of.  Iger suggests that entertainment and tourism should not be ignored.  Hurrah!  I work in entertainment and tourism is something I'd love to be able to afford to do, ever.

But really, maybe we should concentrate on one of our most valuable exports — the listicle.  Fashioned exclusively for the American attention span, the listicle could do boffo business as industrialized nations join us in our race to the bottom.  Soon, they will be asking themselves, "Now why did the stuff we used to read have so many words?"  My friend, I have the answers: eight of them, bullet-pointed.

And as this is not only the end of the year but also the end of the decade, now is the most natural time for us to demonstrate our dominance in the listicle field.  In fact, this opportunity will not arise again in, what?  Ten years?  And in ten years, we will have moved on from the listicle to the charticle, which has even fewer words!

The future is now, and I and everyone else I know needs a new pair of shoes.

Posted by mrbrent at 11:11 AM

a place that is not a hotel that sucks

Further to the school of thought I am building which I refer as the "Gastrohipster Counterinsurgency" — we met up last night for the last 40th birthday parties of the season (until the next crop catches up with us) at a Gastrohipster Cocktailpub (which shall remain nameless) in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

Fabulous room, all faux distressed tin and absinthe fountaines!  Delicious cocktails (on the pricey side)!  But terribly, fatally flawed.

First was the service, which we can call "intermittent" and still remain generous.  Blame could be directed at the single server taking our orders in this back room, but the poor girl was clearly overtasked by volume.  No, clearly at fault were the sleeve-gartered and vested celebutantes behind the bar, shaking and swizzling.  They were not just languorous: they were blithe, dragging ass like it was a badge of honor.  It's no secret that I love bars and specifically the small industry of bar workers, and the two doxy barmen not a year our of their trucker hats make the worst bartender I've ever known, the one that would stop working for a half hour to play a few songs they just wrote and then nod off well before closing half-in and half-out of the doorway, look like Sam Malone.  And the place was packed.  I shudder to think the amount of drinks that went unsold because of the bartenders gazing admiredly at their reflection instead of hustling booze to the thirsty.

And as if that was not a fatal flaw (it was), the check came, for me and my beautiful wife, with an added gratuity.  Funny, I thought that gratuity was an elective thing, and sometimes, if you have the steel to break taboo, you can tip less than you ordinarily would if you thought that the service did not merit additional remuneration.

So yeah, the place sucked, and it represents a good part of the Gastrohipster groundswell that sucks as well.

Fortunately, the company was delicious.  Happy Birthday, fellas.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:46 AM