Friday, April 17, 2009

Short Story preview: "The Pros and the Cons"

"...This is where she will do it. Screw the rest of the car ride. She will be able to weather it because she will have done the thing and will feel better about herself, freed. It is like she is nauseated. Vomiting will not be fun but it will solve the problem. Hopefully. Their conversations are already stilted, full of silences. There will simply be a different reason for them now.

He is handsome. Pro. But he disdains the New Yorker. Con. He is good at oral sex. Pro. But he snores and flails in his sleep. Con. She does not love him. Con con con con con.

She asked him to go to Italy with her once. He waffled. He had the money but didn't want to spend it. He knows now that this was a mistake (he is still angry at himself for missing such a large blunder), so now he throws money around, trying to prove he doesn't care. He spontaneously pays for her meals, though she has markedly more money than he does. But he still brags about getting clothes for cheap at the Goodwill. As if anyone is still impressed with that sort of thing.

Adrenaline rushes and expands the blood vessels in her muscles in anticipation. She has the sudden urge to jump off this rock and into the open, whipping air. She has always had these morbid fantasies. When she worked at a drug store in high school she would routinely picture herself slamming customers' heads in display cases as they knelt down to look at watches and perfumes. He has crazy-person eyes in pictures. Con.

This is it. They are as far out on the rock as they can safely go. A conversation is imminent. It might as well be the conversation. She is terrible at beating around the bush. Once she has made a decision she is incapable of putting it off. This is a terrible time to do it because it is always a terrible time to do it. She turns to him and says something awful like "we need to talk". She is much shorter than he, so her head is cocked back to look into his eyes. But something is wrong. He is not looking at her. He always looks at her, almost obsessively, con, but not at this moment..."

Friday, April 10, 2009

Terrible Sketch or Short Story Idea

A hipster travels to India and is humbled by the poverty and hardship. He realizes how privileged and self-indulgent it is for him to purposefully dislike everything mainstream. He goes home and promptly reads the Da Vinci Code and the Harry Potter books in one day. The End.

Monday, December 1, 2008


Ok, so the thing about grad school is that it eats up all of your time even when it's not eating up all of your time.

Friday, August 1, 2008

The Hold Steady Almost Killed Me...

Act I: How to be a bad opening act

1) Play far too many songs.

2) Cover the fact that you don't play your instruments all that well by playing them really fast.

3) Preface every song with, "This one is for anyone who..."

It was a shame. I really wanted to like the Loved Ones. Hell, I was at a Hold Steady concert; I wanted to like everything. I wanted the world to be a wonderful place and match the feeling that I had. But the Loved Ones were obviously a charity case. Tad Kubler and Franz Nicolay (lead guitarist and keyboardist for the Hold Steady, respectively) came out and played with the Loved Ones for their final song and they just made the band look like little boys.

Their first couple of songs showed promise, but for the 45 minutes after that they followed a slow downward trajectory towards "Greenday Rip-off". Every song was "for those of you who have lost a loved one" or "those of you who know someone in jail". I wanted there to be one "for those of you who are tired of hearing the same punk songs over and over again" but it never came.

It's a difficult thing to be an opening act because you have to remove the ego from the equation. No matter how good you think you are, 99% of the audience DID NOT COME TO SEE YOU PLAY. They came to see the guys or girls after you. You have to be mercifully short, while taking up enough time for the main act to bet buzzed backstage. You have to be exciting, but not call too much attention to yourselves. You also have to act like no one knows who you are, because no one does. The best opening act I've ever seen was an opener for Of Montreal. They were a white, two-man, bizarro-rap group called Grand Buffet. They did 7 or 8 songs (for one of which they had an awkward looking guy in a poncho be a guest rapper), 5 minutes of hilarious banter ("You have to microwave your water!") and were gone. Like a refreshing slap in the face before the headlining act.

Thankfully, the beer was moderately priced for a musical venue, so I escaped the set a couple of times and medicated myself with Peroni in anticipation of the Hold Steady...

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Words and Meanings

I'm experiencing a bizarre stage of my life in which I have begun to question the meanings and definitions of common words and concepts. What does it mean for something to mean something? What does the word mean mean? And there, I've used the word I'm trying to define in a question asking how to define it. Well, for something to mean something means for something to signify something, right? But what is "signify"? What does it signify for something to signify something? And it is at this point that I usually give up, drink a beer, and watch something nihilistic like Aqua Teen Hunger Force. Then this whole episode ends up being an unsettling metaphor for my entire life. And if a metaphor is an idea that stands for a reality, what does it mean for something to stand for something?!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

New York, I love you but you're bringing me down.

Things that I will miss about New York City.

1) The accessible public transit

I got into a bad and lavish habit of taking cabs near the end of my stint in New York, but that didn't detract from my love of the New York subway system. I had approximately nine subway lines running close to my apartment and I was always blown away by the comprehensiveness of the system.

2) The restaurants on 9th avenue

Small, ethnic restaurants (I love that description - ethnic - as if there is a type of food that doesn't have an ethnicity. Water, maybe?) abound between 42nd and 59th on 9th ave. Wondee Siam, Bombay Express, Island Burgers, booyah.

3) Greenpoint

The one place in New York that I would truly love to live in, were I able to ignore the potentially cancer-causing underground oil seepage. Blooper! I have a perverse love of suburbia that Greenpoint fulfills in every way possible. It feels like a neighborhood, it's full of families, and you get a gorgeous view of the Manhattan skyline from the roof of any building.

4) The concert venues

Music Hall of Williamsburg, Bowery Ballroom, Webster Hall, and Irving Plaza all in the same city. Incredible. My fear of spending money kept me away from the majority of concerts in my first year, but I eventually got my head out of my ass and took advantage of the bustling music scene.

5) Drinking beer in movie theaters

This is a weird one, but I developed this habit of going to movies (sometimes alone) and smuggling in Bud Lite tallboys. The monolithic, faceless movie theaters on 42nd St. made this an endless possibility. It added an illicitly fun element to movie-going that I probably won't be able to recreate elsewhere.

Things that I will not miss about New York City.

1) Summer trash smell

Mmmmmm, what is this wafting into my nostrils? Feces. Feces and milk.

2) Surliness

Call me a softy but I don't love the tacit agreement in New York that everyone is allowed to be a huge dick. People on the street, people serving you food, people in the subway: dicks. It infected me after a while as well. At one point recently, I got bumped on the street and turned around ready to glare. It was a mother with a kid in a stroller who apologized profusely. I felt sad about myself.

3) The scene

Everyone's a little obsessed with image in New York. Even hipsters, who aren't supposed to care about anything, name-drop endlessly. The anti-scene is itself a scene. Again, I don't absolve myself of this sin. I got a little caught up in the restaurant-going, the bar-knowing. I spent some time in the West Village. None of us is clean. None of us.

4) Critters

This isn't a characteristic of New York alone. You'll find creepy crawlies anywhere in the world; in fact, they're probably more prevalent in non-urban areas. But the confined spaces in New York make everything a little more unsettling. I saw a house centipede (I dare you to google-image that shit and not get creeped out) in my apartment in the first month of my New York stint and had trouble sleeping for weeks. On my birthday in 2007, my friend Liz bent down to pick up her shoes in my living room and saw three mice caught in the same trap. The night before I left New York, my girlfriend awoke at 4:45 with a sizable cockroach on her face. Enough. Said.

5) The weather

New York spends ninety percent of the year in meteorological extremes. The temperature is either less than forty degrees or more than eighty. Spring and fall tend to last about two weeks tops. At any given time I am either wearing three sweaters or sweating my balls off.


Goodbye, New York. You were good to me. It took me a while to get used to your ways, but I acclimatized and it was...exciting. I've never spent less time being bored, and for that I will always thank you. And chances are I'll be back in two years, so see you soon.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Two suggestions for when Dartmouth eventually gets around to choosing a mascot.

1) The Dartmouth Depressed Beached Whale

He would be airlifted and placed at the 50 yard line during halftimes of important Dartmouth football games, where he would utter his catchphrase: "Don't push me back in. Life's not even worth it."

2) The Dartmouth Townie

A rangy young man wearing a mexican poncho who would skulk around the vicinity of various Dartmouth sports arenas. To each approaching fan he would hold up a hacky sack and mumble his slogan in a smoky voice: "Wanna hack?".