Thursday, February 26, 2009

Other People's Posts (OPP) - or - Proof That Obama And Gorbachev Are Bad Asses

Those are audio clips from Obama reading his book, Dreams From My Father. He is talking about a High School friend of his, not you, you ignorant mother fucker.
And then there is this video which will hence forth be referred to as The Evil Zombie Lenin vs. Awesome Russian Twinky Hour Of Power With Bimbos.


When The Lights Go Out, Sometimes You Are Just Left In The Dark

This is not like the rest of the things that I put up here. This is a sad post. A truly sad post about other people's loss, people I care about. If you don't want to read about tragedy, death, and the breaking of a beautiful person, skip this one. There is a thunderstorm over Chicago right now. Somehow, it seems fitting...

A friend and coworker of mine, a joyful, attentive, an unbreakably happy woman, had to bury her husband yesterday. He dropped dead in Mexico, on vacation with her, on his way to the pool for an afternoon swim, for no real reason at all. I’m not being insensitive, that is what happened. He was walking out of the hotel and literally dropped to the ground, and then stopped living. My friend is obviously crushed, my co-workers are crushed, I am crushed, it is all very confusing. He had gotten a clean bill of health from the doctors not three weeks ago. He was very active. He ate right. He just dropped dead, in Mexico, in his bathing suit, in his 50’s.

It could happen to anyone. It could happen to you tomorrow. It could happen to me while I’m writing this. It happens all the time. Poof, you’re dead. That’s all you get. Don’t ask why cause it’s not up to you. You don’t get to figure it out. In fact, you don’t get to figure anything out ever again, ever. You are dead, for no real reason; that’s just the way it is. That's how God wants it, if you can honestly believe that God wanted this good man dead.

Maybe it should, but that doesn’t really scare me. It seems totally unfair, but it isn’t scary. In fact, it seems like one of the best ways to go. Pop. It sucks for everyone else. It sucks for my coworker; she just lost the love of her life without warning. It sucks for her children; they just lost their father for apparently no reason at all. It sucks for me, not even close to the same degree, but it has destroyed a woman who is a beckon of pearly white toothy smiles and a non-stop deluge of positive energy. It has destroyed my friend and I wouldn’t wish that upon anyone. She is suffering. She will suffer for the rest of her life. But he didn’t suffer. He didn’t waste away. He was about to go swimming. You don’t go swimming when you feel like you are dying. You go swimming when you are on vacation in Mexico with your wife and you want to spend an afternoon outside relaxing in the sunshine.

I'm going to have to post something good and happy above this so it's not staring you down at the top of the page. I should probably drop the "- or -" title humor for this one, maybe even a disclaimer before I start. No one wants to walk into a bear trap like this. There is a thunderstorm over Chicago right now. Somehow it seems fitting.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

How I Occupy My Virtual Cornucopia Of Free Time - or IATIAWAC

I wrote this for Krumbine, but it should be known that many of my friends were involved in the creation of the list. We thought them up while sitting around a fireplace in a noisy pub in North Chicago. This is my real life here, folks. Cheers!

Props where props are due, gangsta.
Alan Alanson
Reverse Powerball
Sacing the Quarter Back
Nathan Nathanson
Scat Nad
Junk Klunkin'
Phil Colons
Corking the Bottle
Steeping the Tea Bag
Battle of the Bulges

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Response To Krumbine And Heather Maira - or - A One Sided Coverstaion In A 2D World

Ahhh, my two favorite strangers! They broke the mold after each of you were made. I must respond to your comments on my Self Empowerment post. But before I do, I just want to say that you guys fucking rock. For everyone who wants to know what the tips of the proverbial icebergs that are these two iconic personalities look like, here are two links that will give you a bit of an idea.

Krumbine's exploration of the inner workings of his mind, soul, and lower intestine. The Hunger
Heather's take on why we, as a race, have a permanent ticket to ride the failboat. IDEALISM

Krumbine, you are a hit-pandering, singled-minded, uncomplicated, idiotic extrovert if you truly feel that this entire Obsquatch.blogspot project of mine, which spans more than three years of my life, was irrelevant until a second party came along to appreciate it. That being said, I don't think that you are any of those thing. In fact, I love you. But, I must respond to your idea that, "Writing [is] nothing without an audience." This journal of mine goes back years; from the time I had a girlfriend who lived over 4000 miles away, to the day of our break up; from the best days of my life in Chicago, to the worst hangovers I've had in my life; stories of my childhood in Vermont, stories of my closest friends reinventing themselves in their 30's. This is not for you, or Heather, or Grace, or Tripp, or Swampthing, or anyone. This is my record of the things that I wanted to write down, when I wanted to write them down. Much like my video making, there are no drafts, and very little editing, I just plop it out. I agree that for it to be entertainment, there needs to be an audience, but this is not entertainment, it's how I get my thoughts out. Nonetheless, I admire your sense of exhibitionism, your creativity, and your huge balls for writing, producing, and starting in (as all of the rolls) a sitcom that features you having a love interest that is a puppet, who has a love interest that is a zombie puppet, who has a love interest who is a gay puppet, who is a coworker of a large, blue, Welsh-sounding, talking penis named Richard Johnson. Huge balls, man. I admire you.

Heather. I was sad to see you leave YouTube, mostly for my own sordid reasons, but also because I knew there was more to know about you, making you in the great words of Donald Rumsfield, a known unknown. I think that I said it best on your site when I said YouTube isn't going to miss you. YouTube will forever ogle you like a false idol, or in this case, an amazing pair of false idols. The snippets of the real you that you put out there (my favorite was the, "devil is doing us a favor" post, which, alas, you have pulled down) wasn't what the mindless, dick-waving, e-zombies wanted to see, and they let you know it. And to a degree, you pandered to their interest, and to a degree I'm sure you loved the attention. But in the end, it seems to have bitten you a bit harder than you thought it would. You are smarter than they are. You have thoughtful, controversial, and meaningful ideas that you wanted to share and contribute. Meanwhile, the drooling masses took up the chant, that you yourself admittedly started, and all but drowned your ideas in a sea of "Boobs!" I continue to check out your site, I like reading your entries, smiling at your cynicism, nodding my head at your lack of faith in humanity, and gagging at the poems. I'm not a poetry guy, except for Kafka, and Dante, and to a lesser degree, Whitman. So, I'll do my best to stop drooling and will look forward to the next thing you have to say. I admire you for being more than MissPacman08.

So, there ya go. That should clear up a few things for you Krumbine, and that should make you want to be my wife, Heather Maria. And with that, I will now vanish in a puff of smoke. I'm Batman!

Flux is Flux by Aminiature

Friday, February 13, 2009

Stolen Lines #2 - or - APTP Saved My Life

"Ghosts definitely live here," I say.

Maybe only one, and I talk to her sometimes.

You might think that I’m an asshole. You might think that I drink too much. You might think that I’m self-centered. You might think that I am awesome. You have a knack at being right.

APTP is bouncing through my head today. APTP stands for Albany Park Theater Project. It is a youth theater company, which was founded by David Finer and his late wife, Laura Wiley in 1997. This company is impossible to describe. APTP brings art, hope, success, and pride to kids who, in all honesty, don’t get any of these things from the community that they live in, the schools they attend, and even their families. How the hell am I going to describe this theater company? This is an example of a review from one of their recent shows.

“Scorchingly graphic and emotionally crushing…a thrilling piece of art made all the more potent by the presence of such young but exquisitely honed performers”
-Chicago Sun Times.

They are showered with rave reviews, but the actors have never taken an acting class in their life. They are simply involving themselves. They are honestly living the story on stage without pretension or ego, which is unheard of in the real world of actors. APTP’s productions, which are acted completely by neighborhood teens, are simply unbelievable. True stories of prejudice, neglect, abuse, genocide, and rape are not uncommon to their stage. And a large majority of the stories come directly from the actor’s real lives. The stories are grim, distressing, and tragic, but they are real, and there is redemption. Not in any standard entertainment sense, where the clouds part after the rain and everything is perfect and glorious. Real life redemption, “I’m getting better,” style redemption. “I survived hell and am here to tell you all about it,” style redemption. “I will be more than the sum of my tragedies,” style redemption. This theater company does nothing short of save lives. I worked on Laura’s last production, God’s Work. I was hired as the sound technician. God’s Work is a story of a girl, Rachel, and her ten brothers and sisters who are forced by their exceedingly religious father to live in the basement of his house. He barely clothes and feeds them. He forces them to memorize bible passages. He beats them if they dictate the passages incorrectly. He beats them with his fists, with his belt, with any number of instruments that he has collected, with a police baton named Mr. Brown. He beats them regularly in God’s name. He forces them to beat each other, as it is God’s will. There are complex relationships between the siblings as they try to protect each other from their father’s wrath, relationships that are not “acted out,” but rather put on display. There is redemption for Rachel in the end, but the last scene has the rest of the brothers and sisters still crouching in the basement as she begins her new life. It was intense, heart wrenching and beautiful. I know Rachel in real life and she is funny, smart, and attractive. She is attending college. She is succeeding. She has a life beyond that tragedy. Many of her bothers and sisters (there are sixteen in real life) came to see the show. They were embraced by the cast and eventually talked with us about some of the more brutal scenes, as well as some of the more serine ones. There is a scene where the only thing the children have to play with is a ball of lint collected from a carpet. And another scene were the boys see how many wasps they could each kill because there was a dumpster outside the basement window and wasps would get in and sting the babies. There were always babies being brought down there. The mother was perpetually pregnant as Niko, the father, thought he was doing God’s bidding by bringing more children into the world. Even now, the story chills me to the bone.

It was Laura’s last production before she died of ovarian cancer in 2007. She was 41. I’ve never met such a strong woman, and I used to tell her, “You are the strongest woman I know, and I’m glad I’m on your good side.” I visit her grave sometimes. I don’t do that for anyone else, but sometimes I find myself driving out there and walking around. I find her headstone, say hi, and talk out loud about my life and how important she is to who I think I am. Working with her, David and all the members of APTP was one of the most gratifying jobs I have ever had. Granted, it was also one of the most stressful as I was flying by the seat of my pants praying that the sound system didn’t crash as it always seemed to do in rehearsals. There was only one malfunction for the entire ten-week run of the show. The computer froze up and I remember looking over at Laura and saying through clenched teeth, “we have a little problem.” She simply patted my shoulder in the dark as I sweat bullets restarting the system. Later she told me it was all she could do to not bust out laughing at the panic in my face as I said, “little problem.” She and David taught me about “Tikkun Olam,” the traditional Jewish phrase / idea / value which means healing the world. I asked if I could be part of APTP’s college prep program and began tutoring some of the kids who were failing Chemistry. One of them raised her grade from a D- to a B. Maybe I didn’t heal the entire world, but I really nailed that column on her report card. She’s in college now, also. There is no question that she wouldn’t be had she never walked through APTP’s doors.

I am working with APTP again. Yesterday, I got a phone call asking for some technical assistance on the new show, Remember Me Like This, which opens tonight, in a matter of hours actually. They were having some trouble with the sound, so I jumped in my car and headed over there. It was really only a matter of tweaking some setting and twisting some knobs, but I was happy to be there. It felt so good to walk into that theater again. I only know two of the actors in the cast of sixteen, but they were happy to see me, and still as edgy as ever. The new cast is very young, some are in eighth grade. They made fun of my hair and head band, asking me if I was a time traveler from the 70’s. Adorable little punks. I ran sound for their final dress rehearsal yesterday and was completely floored, again, by the production. It is a heavy, brutal story about a girl’s struggle with immigration, disownment, drugs, rape, depression, institutionalization, and suicide and it is amazing. If you are anywhere near Chicago, make it a point to visit APTP and relearn what real theater looks like.

I stole the first line of this post from You'll Never Eat Lunch in This town Again, by Julia Phillips as part of Law With Grace’s Stolen Lines Project #2.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Self Impowerment Means Being A Total Ass To The People Who Like Me - or - It Must Be Almost Valentine's Day.

There are three videos that I’ve shot since my last rant about how great life is. I will post them at the bottom of this… madness. Before you get to see those, I should let you know a thing or two. I’m starting to get nervous about this on-line life of mine. My real life is starting to be comparable with it a bit too easily recently; in all the wrong places. For the most part, this is a hobby, a way for me to sit alone in my room and amuse myself while expressing things that I don’t express outside of this room. Most everyone who comes along and actually reads these things doesn’t take much notice and that is the way I like it. I don’t get comments, I don’t get kudos, I also don’t get threats, and I don’t become a target of hate groups. I am by no means elevated to Guru of the Bowling Alley status. I am just some unknown guy with a picture of a swamp nailed to the wall in a corner of the web that is free from ads and scams. I get this tiny space to rant about whatever the fuck I want, and I don’t want anything in return for it because I do it for me, not for you. You might like it, but for the most part, I’ll never know, and honestly, I don’t really care because you, in the context of this webpage, have nothing to do with this. You are barely an audience because you are not present here. So, for all accounts and purposes, you don’t exist and thus, you don’t fucking matter. Sorry if that ruins your day. What matters is that I like my little corner here. What matters is that I get the shit out that I need to get out, or that I get to chuckle at the things I find amusing. And if I feel like taking a dump on the middle of the floor and naming it Harry Pooper, than that is exactly what that space on the middle of my floor needed in the first place.

I’m not nervous that I will take a dump on my floor. I know for a fact that that scenario, although possessing momentarily high levels of self-amusement, and could potentially draw a large number of people that don’t fucking mater (just like you) to this site, is highly unlikely to ever happen. What I am nervous about is the dissemination of my mood swings, which are becoming increasingly more drastic and unpredictable. What I am nervous about is that I’m leading my real life in a similar fashion to the one on this online swamp of self-deprecating, self-celebrating, self-centered selfishness. For instance, over the last week, I made three videos about mostly nothing beyond my own "three inches off the ground" carefree life and my self-induced madness. In the real world, I must have told twenty people how hard it is to find a job these days. In the real world, I talk about school, about politics, about my disdain for the general population, and how I feel the world is cursed. I am no closer to having a new job, even though work has picked up on the jobs that I have. How many times did I go out during that time period? How many ways can I avoid the need for me to stop focusing on me as I am right now, and change something fundamentally wrong, my own personal fatal character flaw, so that I don’t live my life like the crazy, pissed off, happy-go-lucky, simpleton that I cast myself as in my fun little videos? When am I going to apply to Grad School? When am I going to volunteer at the learning center? What the fuck am I waiting for? A script change?

Facing An Dark Problem, Finding Retribution, And Snack Time

The Grunt (Part 1) by The J.B.'s (James Brown's Band)

The Steelers Didn't Win The Superbowl, I Did
Rex by Ratatat

I Had The Longest Weekend

Thursday, February 05, 2009

The Onion

Due to my complete lack of publishable creativity, I can only post this fine piece of unbiased journalism.