Dispatches from Suburbia

If I played an instrument, I would have a band called "The Simon Thomsen Sex Tape"; and other musings, rants, and disconnected ramblings.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Well, Isn't That What Animals Do?

Quote of the Day: "You can think I'm wrong, but that's no reason to quit thinking."
-House, M.D.

Today at work, a man sat at the counter and hit on the woman beside him. The weather was warm enough today for shorts, and this man took this opportunity to sport his blue gym shorts. He had his stool turned so he could face this woman, and his legs were spread just wide enough that we could easily see his nuts.

"Oh my God," one of the servers gasped, "What is he doing?"

I shrugged and said, "Maybe he's trying to attract her with his musk."

Friday, March 30, 2007

Horror Story, Pt. 2

Quote of the Day:
"While all the other kids were out playing ball and stuff, I used to stay in my room and imagine that there was a camera in the wall. And I used to really believe that I was putting on a television show and that it was going out to somewhere in the world."

-Andy Kaufman

High School
, a large sprawl of adobe buildings and portables, rested between Albuquerque and Rio Rancho, close to the Wilson residence, a modest home on the eastern edge of Rio Rancho. Nick, having been up late showering bratwurst slime and Ragu off of his body, made it to his first period anatomy class just in time for Mr. Dunn’s quiz on the digestive system of a cat.

The bell rang just as he took his seat at the far end of class, beside Kaja’s sister Whitney, who had taken his virginity only two months earlier, just before the school year started. Since then they sort of “drifted,” having never been an official couple in the first place. When they found themselves in the same anatomy class, their former fling made it was almost obligatory that they became lab partners since neither of them really knew anybody else in the class and both of them were aware of this. Over the first month of school, it became a sort of unspoken agreement that they wouldn’t be hooking up again, and this understanding gave them a sense of comfort, and soon the awkwardness wore away. So much so that, as Nick settled in his seat and Whitney pulled her red hair into a pony tail, she turned to him with a frightened expression on her face and whispered, “Dude, I’m pregnant.” She held the expression as Nick sat up and stared at her in disbelief. Then he put his face in his hands and mumbled, “Oh my God.”

Whitney laughed and said, “Just kidding!” She had that same wild nature as her sister, a similar quirkiness that allowed her to change topics after such a heavy joke.

“So,” she asked, “did you study?” Nick had no response. She snickered.

Mr. Dunn, a man in his sixties who had gone completely bald up top but still had the dark brown color in his hair with only a few speckles of grey, walked up and down the rows of lab desks passing out quizzes to his students. He was fit and had a dominating presence, with his muscular build showing through his yellow polo and defined jaw and cheekbones that were similar to Charlton Heston’s. Nick swore the old fart was on steroids.

“Hurry it up,” Mr. Dunn said to the class. “This should only take you 15 minutes. If it takes any longer, you should’ve studied harder.” He finished passing out the quiz and took a seat at the front of the class. “Go ahead and start. When you’re done, bring it up to the front and go get your cat from the fridge. I’ll let you know when your time is up.”

In front of Nick was a black and white illustration of a cat’s internal organs, the digestive organs outlined in bold black lines. He was to label everything from the liver to the rectum.

He couldn’t remember which dark splotch was the spleen and which was the kidney (or kidneys). He couldn’t remember which portion of the winding tube was the duodenum, the ileum or even the colon. They all looked the same. Dismayed, he turned in the quiz when the fifteen minutes was up.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Horror Story

Quote of the Day: "Let me explain something to you. Um, I am not 'Mr. Lebowski.' You're Mr. Lebowski. I'm the Dude. So that's what you call me. You know, that or, uh, His Dudeness, or uh, Duder, or El Duderino if you're not into the whole brevity thing."
-The Big Lebowski

So I'm focusing my blog more on fiction writing from now on. So here's some of my newest short story, "Horror Story":

Nick crouched between the toilet and the bathtub and held his guts in place against his stomach. The intestines were covered in some clear slime, something like gelatin, making it difficult to keep a grip on them. Around him, the tiled walls were speckled with blood and gore. Something chunky had dried on the linoleum. It looked like old meat sauce.The tubby guy in a sinister vulture mask—a large, curved beak protruding from the middle of his face—stood above him with a chainsaw, meat and gristle hanging from the blade. He wore bloodied denim overalls and dirty workman’s boots. Beneath the overalls he was shirtless, and his flabby arms jiggled whenever he revved the saw.

The blade spun and came awfully close to Nick’s forehead. Pieces of fat and flesh flew from the saw and spattered his glasses. Something tough and slimy caught in his mouth, and Nick felt the burning sensation of vomit rising in this throat.

“Alright, cut!” Matt called out. He was obviously discouraged. Matt’s spiky purple hair poked out from behind the camera. “Something’s not working.”

Nick checked his watch. It was almost midnight, and the juices from the intestines, which had been formed from a case of raw bratwursts, chicken gristle, and tomato sauce, had soaked through his clothes. “I’m sorry, Matt, but I’ve got school in the morning.” He began to stand, the meat sliding off of his lap.

“Don’t go anywhere,” Matt said without looking out from behind the camera. Kaja, Matt’s rambunctious girlfriend, trotted over to Nick and lightly pushed on his shoulders so he’d sit back down. Her nose curled and she dry-heaved as she readjusted the intestines.

“Yuk,” she said. She stood, looked at her handiwork, and squatted once more to make some minor adjustments.

Matt rose from behind the camera. He wore a loud, orange Hawaiian print shirt and torn jeans. He brought a jar of Ragu to Kaja.

“Perfect,” she said, pouring the entire jar onto the brats and standing once again. She tossed the jar in the waste basket and patted Nick on the leg, living a dainty red handprint on Nick’s khakis. She washed her hands, popped a stick of gum in her mouth, and winked at Nick.

He watched her walk away. She was tall, like Matt, and had her short blonde hair fashioned into wayward spikes. Nick thought she’d be a total fox if she didn’t look so much like his brother. Still, her white sleeveless undershirt (which probably belonged to Matt) hugged her curves and really complemented her breasts, and her tight black Dickies made her butt look pretty damned good.

No matter how good her butt looked, Nick still had to study for his Anatomy quiz. “Hurry up,” he said.

“Ok, this time really scream,” Matt said, “I want you to really squeal like a girl.” He took his seat behind the camera.

“The other motel guests will really love that,” Nick muttered. He eyed the gore around him. “So will the maids.”

“Let’s roll,” Kaja said.

Simon's Current Obsessions:

Shrek 3
The first two rocked, and hopefully this one does too. Anything this anti-Disney is alright by me.

House, M.D.
Eight weeks of brand new episodes. I'm not available on Tuesdays, 8-9 p.m.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Constant Surveillance

Quote of the Day: "A ratio of failures is built into the process of writing. The wastebasket has evolved for a reason."
-Margaret Atwood

Once upon a time, even in our own lifetime's, not everybody had cell phones. Now, I think I'm the only person in the country without one. It's not that I can't afford it--I honestly don't want one.

One day, I'll probably have to break down and get one, when I actually am involved in things so important, like a real job, in which it is necessary to get a hold of me wherever I may be. But right now nothing's important enough that it can't wait until I get home and check my messages. I think a cell phone goes off everyday in every one of my classes. I've even heard one go off at a funeral.

What kind of sick desire compels people to give up every private moment they could possibly have? I think I'll hold off on getting my ankle bracelet.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Or Whatever

Quote of the Day: "At the age of six I wanted to be a cook. At seven I wanted to be Napoleon. And my ambition has been growing steadily ever since."

-Salvador Dali

There is this girl in my Women of the Bible class that wears obnoxious sunglasses and loves to hear herself talk. I call her the class tumor. Oftentimes, without even raising her hand, she'll go off on a tangent, completely monopolizing the lecture and, though my professor hides it well, it must drive her nuts.

What is most irritating is that this girl hardly ever has anything useful to say. She usually interrupts the lecture with some half-baked comment that is only slightly relevant and usually totally wrong. I only raise my hand when I've thought about what I've had to say so that when I do say it, I not only want it to be worthwhile--I don't want to sound like this girl.

Last night I had to give a presentation in Film Theory. Here was my time to shine--the stage was mine, and I was to articulate ideas that I've had quite some time to prepare. Unlike the girl in Women of the Bible, I wouldn't be commenting on Samson when I mean Samuel and bark, "Ah, they're both S's anyway."

The problem with giving a presentation is the awkwardness that comes with the quiet moments. Though the presentation went well, there were a few of these moments. This was unavoidable--I was presenting on an essay about the parallels between Plato's cave, psychoanalysis, and cinema and the essay was badly translated from the French. I'd pored over the piece for over a month, and I'd carefully outlined my presentation, but that didn't stop my presentation from having those awkward, quiet moments. I found myself filling those spaces with the phrase "or whatever." For example, I'd say, "so in this way the Lewin's dream screen, the shadows on the cave wall, and cinema all deal with a projection of reality"--pause--"or whatever." It was an unconscious thing, filling the empty space with a sort of verbal ellipsis.

It reminds of those high school girls and boys that tend to use "like" between every word. I used to find it annoying. Next time I'm about to judge them I'll have to think about my own speaking tendencies. I've heard that this is a sign of working through our thoughts, trying to find the right word. At least I'm trying, and not settling for the hit-and-miss class disturbance that has been adopted by my classmate.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Sadism at the Movies

Quote of the Day: "Do you find me sadistic? You know, I bet I could fry an egg on your head right now, if I wanted to. You know, Kiddo, I'd like to believe that you're aware enough even now to know that there's nothing sadistic in my actions. Well, maybe towards those other... jokers, but not you. No Kiddo, at this moment, this is me at my most masochistic."
-Kill Bill
In Film Theory, we're discussing some fairly dense material about a spectator's participation when it comes to watching a movie. It real brain twisting stuff. For example, here's an excerpt from a paper I wrote in response to Kaja Silverman's essay "Suture":

"The shot/reverse shot helps us to find comfort by having our own being replaced by an element in the film. The shot/reverse shot allows us to 1) see something from the point of view of a character, 2) see something from the point of view of an object (she [Silverman] uses the envelope of money in Psycho as an example), or to 3) see something from the point of view of an 'absent other.' This form of gaining comfort is what is referred to as 'suture.' If we consider our perception and our own capabilities of forming a narrative as an extension of our body, it’s easy to see how the surgery analogy fits. I find myself mostly fascinated by the concept of the 'absent other.' One might think that if we are not in the point of view of a tangible character or object we must be in the point of view of the viewer—but this is totally wrong because then we would have total control. Instead, we are guided by this 'other'—'the speaking subject of the cinematic text, a subject which…finds its locus in a cluster of technological apparatuses.' The term I prefer to 'speaking subject' is 'narrator,' because this 'other' is a totally omniscient guide, taking us places that, due to our lack of knowledge of what’s outside the frame, we certainly crave to go, and even allowing us to step away from the view of this 'absent one' and into the shoes of a character of object."

So has your mind been blown? Probably not. Anyway, the whole discussion leads to sadism and masochism, and in the end I'm left wondering if I'll ever be able to enjoy a movie again without worrying about my own participation as a spectator.

It's mostly disconcerting when these readings discuss the ways we give up our own "being," or how our "being" is replaced by elements within the film to ensure our participation. I'm not a film major, I'm an English major, so this material is not as applicable as it is to others in the class (though it may come in handy in my scriptwriting). Still, being an English major, I can't help but notice the existential slant, the questions of our being, though in film theory the discussion is not only about the art form, but the spectator's own relationship to it, how it is a process that "castrates" the spectator by removing his being, and "sutures" it through the narrative process and the manipulation of the spectator's perception.

It gives me the willies.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Stewart and Lily

Quote of the Day: "The piano's been drinking, not me."
-Tom Waits

Since Tom Perrotta's Little Children has me on a "dark side of suburbia" kick, here's an excerpt from a short story that I adapted from our "American High" script. Stewart, a teacher, is developing feelings for a student. Enjoy.
Throughout the semester, his main interest became Lily. He'd notice
her in the halls, applying lip gloss at the locker of her best
friend, Vivian Hughes, and he just knew that he had begun to
understand Lily better than anybody. Like everyone at American,
Stewart knew who Vivian was. She was the gorgeous brunette, the
leader of the dance squad, the daughter of a popular English
teacher and a girl who was so dark and cynical and just plain cool
that the guys would do anything simply to be with her. And, unlike
Lily, Vivian did not even try to look pretty. Her beauty was just
natural; her brunette locks cascaded and bounced upon her shoulders,
she wore little make-up (her amazing blue eyes did the work for her),
and she looked phenomenal simply wearing sandals, a t-shirt, and
Lily, on the other hand, simply stood in Vivian’s shadow and
constantly primped. Stewart, more often than not, would find her
fixing her blond bangs or applying mascara or lip gloss or concealer
or whatever else she carried in that little pink makeup bag. How he
wished he could walk up to her and snap that compact shut and, with
a warm smile, tell her that she needn't try so hard, that he saw that
there was something attractive about her beneath the cosmetics.
He began to resent Vivian, though she did nothing wrong. He imagined
that Lily resented Vivian also, that Lily hated how Vivian dated Jake
immediately after Lily and Jake had broken up (he carefully monitored
whole saga). He wanted to say to Lily that Jake was just a drug
dealer--everyone at American knew this--and that she was better off
without him, that she truly deserved better.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Oops, I Did it Again...

Quote of the Day: "After all, what was adult life but one moment of weakness piled on top of another? Most people just fell in line like obedient little children, doing exactly what society expected of them at any given moment, all the while pretending that they'd actually made some sort of choice."
-Tom Perrotta, Little Children

First of all, I have to apologize for the Britney Spears reference in the title of the post. Don't worry, this isn't yet another Britney post (I've grown rather bored with her). What I've done yet again was forgotten that on Thursdays I include my current obsessions on my blog. If you haven't noticed, it's Friday.

I'm a terrible blogger. Anyway, here it is.

Simon's Current Obsessions:

Little Children, by Tom Perrotta
I bought it two days ago, and I'm halfway finished. The characters are so real, and I love the way suburban life is dissected and exposed in the novel. Great stuff, and nothing's more compelling than infidelity.

As an English major, I'm supposed to frequent smaller, independent coffee houses. I'm a sellout. I can't help it--nothing beats a drive-up window when you need that drink that packs the caffeine equivalent of half a pot of coffee. Not even meth dealers have drive-up windows.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Conclusion to "Tragedy T.V."

Quote of the Day: "So kill your health and kill yourself/
And kill everything you love/
And if you live you can fall to pieces/
And suffer with my ghost."
-Soundgarten, "Burden in my Hand"

So here's the premise: The narrator has created a hit reality T.V. show in which all the stars are people with terminally ill diseases. He has fallen in love with Cherisse, and does not know she has an allergy to mangoes, while she does know. Unknowingly, he feeds her mango, and here is the conclusion to my story:

By the time we even realized that Cherisse was having an allergic reaction—she was so quiet, so graceful about it—both of her lungs had collapsed and she’d begun to drown in her own mucus.

The cameramen swarmed upon us as I stood in a panic. Our determined medics pushed through the throng, carrying their red medical bags with white crosses on the sides. A huge microphone brushed the side of my face as somebody forced it past me. Surrounding Cherisse with the audio/visual equipment, the tourists, the medics, and the other contestants, I was back at my father’s side. I had known the exact moment he’d died. He was there, and then he wasn’t. We’d felt his life exit his bedroom and a stillness took its place like a cool breeze.

I watched Randall, awkwardly standing on his toes and craning his neck to find the source of the commotion, and I thought how he kind of looked like me, in this confused state of wonder. I imagined Phil Lawrence, waiting at his desk for a confirmation of Cherisse’s demise before popping the champagne. Dan carefully sat on a step away from the crowd, looking winded and not in the least bit surprised, a look that suggested he’d seen it all before. He became my grandfather, watching the death of his own son. Then Lucy shuffled up next to me. She wore an expression of astonishment on her shrunken face, and she became my little sister, who had looked up to me with watery eyes as soon as that moment occurred, as soon as Dad slipped away, and said nothing. She just gave my hand a small squeeze and turned her eyes back to the corpse of our father.

A cameraman stood next to me, his hat turned backwards, all of his focus on Cherisse’s demise taking place in the middle of the frenzy. Bill approached, red-faced and glistening with sweat, and he forced himself beside me without even an acknowledgement of my presence. He gripped the cameraman’s shoulder and said, “Please tell me you got that.”

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Rummaging Through Old Books and Other Lives

Quotes of the Day: "[the Song of Songs] deserves to be destroyed in order to prevent simple souls from being ensnared by it."
-Meir of Narbonne
"The whole world is not worth the day the 'Song of Songs' was written."
-Rabbi Akiva

I went to the used book store today. I love these places--the musty smell, the disarray that, I can imagine, would be what my office would look like if I had one, and a quiet clerk happy to answer any questions in their mild-mannered way.

I picked up two books: For Kim, Anthropologist on Mars by Oliver Sacks; and for me Little Children by Tom Perrotta (which, I must add, is excellent--I'm already 70 pages into it). I love used books. I love new books to, but used books always seem to have that extra layer of depth. Inside of Little Children, I found a white plastic coffee stirrer from McDonald's and a small, yellow slip of paper with "to do" notes, one of which was "call Cynthia Izaguirre-KOAT" (Izaguirre is a local newscaster). So, along with Perrotta's richly drawn characters I've been given a glimpse into the lives of even more. The notes on the slip of paper were weren't in what looked to be female's hurried cursive, though I've known men with fairly "feminine" handwriting. Anyway, I've given the former owner a sex and I've deduced that they drink coffee from McDonald's. And, for some reason, they have to speak to a local newscaster about something.

In a way, I've created a character. It feels a bit like a writing exercise from class.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

A Real Action Hero

Quote of the Day: "I am so clever that sometimes I don't understand a single word of what I'm saying."
-Oscar Wilde

When I was younger, I used to spend most of my time playing with G.I. Joes. My cousin and I would throw them from their plastic armored vehicles in immense fake explosions, imagining ourselves as the only surviving figurines (those that still had limbs remaining), as true action heroes, saving the world from the dark forces represented the Cobra Command. I think that I had this idea of growing up to be some kind of gun-wielding muscle man, dodging explosions and flying bullets to be the one true saving force of the country, or even the planet.

Now, I'm a line cook and a college student. This is how my life usually goes: I spend the day cooking at a restaurant and doing homework on my breaks. My routine rarely strays, except for today. At work we ran out of yogurt, bananas, and brown sugar, so I was asked to drive over to another location and pick up said items.

Since it was on the way, I decided that it wouldn't be so bad to stop by my parents' house. I felt like a total rebel, being on the clock and blatantly defiant as I visited my parents' home.

This was the high point of my day. That, my friends, is excitement for you.

Monday, March 19, 2007

High Tension

Quote of the Day: "I won't let anyone come between us any more."
-High Tension

I've never been a huge fan of horror flicks. I could be considered a gore junkie, I suppose, with my attraction to war films and Scorcese pictures, but I tend to shrug off horror movies. Maybe it's the bad acting.

Tonight, I made an exception to my movie-watching habits and rented High Tension. Honestly, I was impressed. Good acting, and there is an often overused twist (which I won't give away) that is actually presented in a new way. Voyeurism, as with any good horror movie (think Hitchcock), is acknowledged, and the final frame of the film even acknowledges the audience--maybe it's even an implication. Why do we go to a horror film? To be scared? Or is it to fulfill some unmentionable desire to see others in pain?

They're uncomfortable questions, and what's even more uncomfortable are horror films that don't ask them. High Tension, though an admittedly audience-pleasing bloodbath, does not avoid such ideas, making it even more worthy of the term "horror."

Also, this one--rather than presenting us with bimbos and meatheads being slaughtered--gives us a lead that we can root for. Questions of sexuality, and society's version of sexuality and the "norms" are raised, all of which are crystallized in the final act. To explain more would give away too much. Let's just say that I couldn't help but sympathize with the slasher.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Exhaustion Can Be Fun!

Quote of the Day: "I have always been a huge admirer of my own work. I'm one of the funniest and most entertaining writers I know."
-Mel Brooks

I had to be at work at five this morning, which is a shame because I stumbled to bed around one or one-thirty last night. When my alarm went off at four-thirty, I lay in bed pretending that it wasn't happening, that the sounds coming from my clock radio were just part of a terrible, terrible nightmare, until Kim finally pushed me out of bed.

Still in a drunken stupor, I arrived at work and did a very half-assed setup of the kitchen. It was my worst open ever, but I was tired and nobody can be at the top of their game every day. Plus, yesterday was St. Patrick's Day...

After a while, exhaustion took over and I became a giggly mess, clapping and singing "Karma Chameleon" in front of the restaurant's perplexed guests.

Thank God spring break is over. I don't think I could possibly survive another week of this. My back still hurts from sleeping on the bathroom tiles.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

A St. Patty's Sandwich

Quote of the Day: ""Work is the curse of the drinking classes."
-Oscar Wilde

Well, I'm not sure of St. Patrick's significance, but I'm sure he was a fine lad so Happy St. Patrick's Day to everybody! Enjoy your green beer and corned beef and cabbage!

I was thinking that one year I'd like to break the mold ever so slightly by having a corned beef and cabbage sandwich. It's called a Reuben (I'm not sure if that's supposed to be capitalized or not). Actually, any excuse to eat a Reuben is fine with me. There is no such thing as a bad Reuben.

To tell the truth, I'm not just a Reuben fan, I'm a sandwich fan. My brother once declared himself the Sandwich King. Ha! I usurped the throne when he claimed that pickles would be terrible on a barbecue brisket sandwich.

Pickles make the barbecue sandwich. I piled my brisket and pickles onto the bun and cried out, "Call me Dagwood, bitch!"

Friday, March 16, 2007

E.R. Eavesdropping

Quote of the Day: "Though it nearly took a miracle to get you to stay/
It only took my little fingers to blow you away."
-Elvis Costello, "Watching the Detectives"

So, yesterday Kim had some severe pains in her arm. She called her primary care physician, who said that she needed to get to the ER.

Alarms went off. We're thinking blood clots. As with any ER's, it was a series of hurry up and waits. The doctor said that it wasn't even a situation for an emergency doctor. Boring.

Meanwhile, I listened through the curtains to all the excitement taking place around me. An older man, who had apparently been pissing crystals, was told that he had a 6.2 mm kidney stone. "That's a little bigger than a pencil eraser," the doctor said.

On another gurney was a man with a bruised rib. A doctor awoke the man, and to thank the doc for his painkillers the man said, "You're a miracle worker."

The most interesting was a blonde who was no older than 30. A nurse lead her to a gurney as she frantically said, "I need help. I want to die, so I came here." The nurse instructed her to change into a hospital gown. Then he closed the curtain and left.

Later, I listened in on her conversation with a doctor. I learned that she'd recently been through a divorce. That she could not live with herself. That if they discharged her, she'd kill herself that night.

All of it--the kidney stone, the bruised rib, the emotional train wreck, was engrossing. This must be why I like House so much.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

I Finally Remembered!

Quote of the Day: "I went to a restaurant that serves 'breakfast at any time.' So I ordered French Toast during the Renaissance."
-Steven Wright

Today, I'm actually remembering my Thursday feature! Tomorrow, don't hesitate to return and read about today's anticlimactic visit to the ER that include lots of yawning and eavesdropping on far more interesting lives.

Anyway, here it is:

Simon's Current Obsessions:

Despite the contrivances--such as the American couple's children ending up in a similar international fiasco--this writer/director team (21 Grams, Amores Perros) prove that they are more than capable filmmakers. They know how to take a central image (or several) and manipulate it to its deepest effect.

Pastrami Burgers
Ate one at a bar recently. It changed my life almost as profoundly as puberty (minus the zits and despair).

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Manipulation and Perception

Quote of the Day: "Well, it would've been, could've been worse than you would ever know./
Oh, the dashboard melted, but we still have the radio."
-Modest Mouse, "Dashboard"

I built a fountain in my backyard. I used this nice green pot from Mexico, and I placed it atop a bucket that I buried. I filled the bucket and the pot with water, and I rigged up a pump so that water overflows in the pot and trickles into the rocks below. It looks cool, and now I get that zen-like sound of trickling water.

What I find rather ironic, however, is that the fountain looks so fluid and serene, as if it was put there by the natural elements, and to get this natural look takes such manipulation.

I wrote this same idea in a Film Theory class. "
The 'natural' effect of film," I wrote, "requires such manipulation of both the images and the narrative. The camera is often compared to the human eye...yet we perceive time as an unstoppable, continuous force, whereas film pieces together images to create a sense of continuity. Film can stop and go at any moment."

Perception is totally peculiar.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Cold Tiles and Vomit

Quote of the Day: "I do not take drugs. I am drugs."
-Salvador Dali

Last night, I slept on the bathroom floor next to my friend Mike. My other friend, Brian, and I had earlier decided on a whim that we fancied some Irish car bombs. A case of Guinness, a bottle of whisky, and a bottle of Bailey's later I was kneeling before the toilet, heaving everything I had in me, including soap. Yes, in our drunken stupors we convinced each other to chew on soap. I guess we found the cold bathroom tiles quite comfortable, for that's where we stayed. I was told that at one point we were even spooning.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Soundtracks of our lives

Quote of the Day: "I am the passenger
I stay under glass
I look through my window so bright
I see the stars come out tonight
I see the bright and hollow sky
Over the citys a rip in the sky
And everything looks good tonight
Singin la la la la la-la-la la"
-Iggy Pop, "The Passenger"

I love burning mix CDs. Maybe it's because I imagine my life as a film, and I like having a rockin' soundtrack, as if the music I listen to defines me as a person.

Iggy Pop's "The Passenger" tends to end up on several of my CDs, as does the Danger Mouse remix of Jay Z's "Encore." A friend of mine once got in a pretty pad car accident, and he remembers exactly what was playing on his stereo: Jimi Hendrix "Angel." I can just imagine what a surreal that moment must've been.

Some are taught to wear clean underwear to church, in case they pass out, fall over, and accidentally expose their underthings. I have a variation of the same idea: Keep good music in your car stereo. You never know when you may get in accident. God forbid the paramedics catch you blasting The Backstreet Boys.

In all your mix CDs, make you sure you have a good mix-and-match of awesome tunes, an awesome trail mix of jams. Recommended reading: Nick Hornby's High Fidelity. He knows what I'm saying.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Elvis the Pelvis

Quote of the Day: "We're bigger 'n Jesus."

-John Lennon

The following is from a story I wrote last semester:

When Mom went missing, Gramma took me in. I suppose that once it was learned that Mom had died, Gramma was stuck with me. She was living in that tiny house all alone (three years earlier a heart attack had killed poor Grampa) and certainly she needed the company.

We spent much of our time in the living room, me watching the television while Gramma knitted. Sitting on her favorite chair, a plaid recliner with deflated cushions, Gramma often set her knitting aside to cry out, “Toby, for Pete’s sake, turn down that T.V.” Whenever I watched my cartoons on Saturday mornings, I sat on the floor directly in front of her recliner. This didn’t stop Gramma, with her poor hearing and worse eyesight, to yell as if I were three blocks away. “I swear that goddamn box put your Grandad in that casket,” she’d cry. This was in response to Grampa’s often vehement reaction to the Ed Sullivan Show or to American Bandstand. Of course I wasn’t born at the time, but I’ve heard enough stories involving Elvis’s suggestive dancing and Grampa’s violent reaction that it’s become family legend, how Grampa would leap from his chair and point and shake his hand at the television in this same living room, spit flying from his lip as he damned Elvis to hell. This was such a spectacle that I think Gramma, perhaps traumatized, has equated all television with music television, and now she thinks that Elvis gyrating his hips in the sixties put Grampa in the grave in the seventies. Grampa had a decade-long heart attack.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Yesterday's Feature, Today

Quote of the Day: "Don't use semicolons. They are transvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing. All they do is show you've been to college."
-Kurt Vonnegut, "Here is a Lesson in Creative Writing"

I realized today that I forgot my Thursday feature on yesterday's post. In fact, I think I forgot it last week. Sorry.

So here it is.

Simon's Current Obsessions:

South Park: The Complete Ninth Season
Really, really disgusting. And really, really funny.

The Best American Non-Required Reading 2006
As always, a great collection. Thoroughly entertaining from the first page and on. It starts with a bang: the first story in the collection totally rocks.

The weather
Finally, the weather grew warmer. I played tennis today and yelled at some kids starting a fire in the park. Everybody's out enjoying the weather.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

That's just nuts

Quote of the Day: "Men compelled by fear/ To praise, may be by fear compelled to hate."
-Seneca, Thyestes

Today I had no desire to be at work--it's midterm week, I'm exhausted, and we were slow anyway. I figured that discomfort might convince my general manager, Shelly, to allow me to leave.

"I have a dull pain in my left testicle," I said. "I might need to see a doctor."

Saying nothing, she walked away. I figured that guilt might convince her. "What if it's cancer?" I called to her. No response.

Later, I said, "I sure hope they allow me to keep my testicle after the surgery. Then I could bring it in jar and show it around." By this point I'd been bugging Shelly so relentlessly about the fake pain in my manhood that I think I even had myself convinced of my cancer diagnosis.

One of the girls that works the counter overheard. "You'd need to keep it in formaldehyde," she explained.

"You're right," I said, thinking about what I could do with my nut after the hypothetical surgery. "Or I could dehydrate it and where it as a necklace. I could just macrame some hemp. That be pretty sweet." Shelly rolled her eyes.

So I didn't get sent home. But with such engrossing conversation, the day went by in no time.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

See My Movie-film

Quote of the Day: "We support your war of terror."

Last semester, my Bible as Literature professor began a class for apologizing for being unavailable the previous evening. Flushed, she rolled her eyes and, in her southern twang, said "I saw Borat last night, and it was some kind of funny."

She loved it. First of all, you must understand that this professor is a true scholar, somebody I would trust completely in guiding me through a book as complex as the Bible. And this scholar, this truly knowledgeable human being, is a fan of a movie in which a skinny mustachioed man and a huge bearded man wrestle each other, nude, even assuming a 69 position.

I finally watched Borat last night, and I must say that it was a deceptively simple critique of American society. Am I giving the film too much credit? Maybe. But I find it incredibly clever how the film's absurdities have been played alongside footage of unsuspecting interviewees, shocking footage of "real" people bearing it all to this strange little Kazakh.

Plus, you've gotta hand it to a guy (and the same goes for his costar) that would allow himself to engage in that wrestling match on camera. "My mustache still smells like testes," he says later in the film.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Dumb Animals

"You'd be damned to be one of us girl/ Faced with a dodo's conundrum/ Ah, I felt like I could just fly/
But nothing'll happen every time I try."
-The Shins, "Australia"

At work we serve free-range chicken breasts. I've been told that these chickens are massaged like Kobe beef, they play music during the killing, and the chickens are fed all-natural organic meals. The chicken costs a fortune, and it tastes just like any other chicken.

Chickens are the stupidest animals on the planet. They live in their own filth, they have wings but can't fly, and to top it all off, as a food they are the most boring protein on the planet. Don't get me wrong; I like plenty of dishes that include chicken as an ingredient. But it takes a lot to make chicken special-there's not a lot you can do with it. I just think it's ludicrous to spend so much on it.

As for the humanity of free-range chicken: Do they really recognize that they are being massaged? Here we get into a very existential discussion, and even Plato's allegory of the cave comes to mind, but do the chickens realize the difference between death by a quick beheading and death with massage.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

A Trip With Paris

Quote of the Day: "I'm coming over to lay some tracks."
-Paris, the mystery man

Yesterday, Kim received a call on her cell phone from some guy named Paris. "Tell Simon I'm on my way over. I'll be there in half an hour."

So Kim called me at the house and told me Paris would be there in about half an hour, and I asked, "Who is Paris?"

"I don't know," she said, "but he's on his way."

She gave me the number from her caller ID and I called Paris.

"Hey Simon, what's up Bro?" he asked. "I'm on my way, dawg."

"Do I know you?" I asked.

"Yeah, bro," he said, and he sounded offended. "I'm coming over to lay some tracks, remember?"

I figured this was urban slang for recording music. Plus, I don't have any railroads nearby.

"Um, I don't have and equipment to...lay tracks?" I said, raising my voice at the end as if answering a question.

"This is Simon, right?" he said.


"Kyle's cousin?"

I do have a cousin named Kyle, so I said, "Well, yeah."

"Yeah bro, Kyle. The one with 'Katie' tatted his arm," he said. Wrong Kyle.

"Sorry, but that's not my cousin Kyle," I said. There was a moment of silence.

"Do you live on Seven Bar Loop?" he asked.


"Whoa," he said, with the same kind of stunned laughter that comes after a mind-blowing bong rip. "That's a trip, bro."

"Um, that is a trip," I said. And that concluded our conversation. It was a trip.

Saturday, March 03, 2007


Quote of the Day: "While, in dreams and hallucinations, representations appear in the guise of perceived reality, a real perception takes place in cinema, if not an ordinary perception of reality."
-film theorist Jean-Louis Baudry, "The Apparatus"
(Now did this quote blow your fucking mind? Or are you scratching your head like I am?)

This weekend is the annual Fiery Foods Show. We made our pilgrimage there today, and we stopped at practically every booth to try the diabolically hot sauces, the spicy jellies, the barbecue sauces with a bite, the mustards that burn up to the back of the nose, and other flaming this 'n thats. My tongue is raw and my lips still burn, and I'm left wondering just why New Mexicans are so into this form of masochism.

It's almost like a wine tasting. We move from one booth to another, saying things like, "the garlic overpowers the other spices," or "the heat takes away the flavor." Except at this tasting there are paramedics on hand.

At one booth, a man in African garb offered me a strange liquid fromthat he said would boost my immune system. It took less than an ounce to sear my tastebuds and cauterize my throat.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Kitchen Conflict

Quote of the Day: "I was 32 when I started cooking; up until then, I just ate.
-Julia Child

We have a new dish at work--a tasty jambalaya dish that is a tad more complicated than our other menu items to prepare. It is done in the sautee station over a burner, and it includes cooking three different proteins--chicken, chorizo, and shrimp--in the same pan. All three must be put in at different times for them to cook all the way through, and it requires undivided attention in order to keep the garlic from burning.

Our weekend sautee cook is slow, and he can't cook. In a way, I'm dreading Saturday and Sunday, when I know he's going to go down in flames, but for whatever reason I'm kind of looking forward to it. It'll be a real spectacle. Why do I do this?

The other day, I coworker told me that the night before he had gotten into a fight with his girlfriend. "She even slept on the couch," he said.

She worked later that day. I couldn't wait for her to get there so I could see the crackling tension between them. When she arrived, her boyfriend said, over-enthusiastically, "Hi!"

"Hi," she said, and she followed it with a fake grin.

"Wow," I said. "That was awesome."

Why do I thrive on conflict? I feel like a sadist.