Monday, January 26, 2009

Did you ever know that you're my Guitar Hero?

I have a new roommate. Nobody told me another guy was moving in, he just showed up one day with all his stuff and started sleeping on our couch in his underwear.

I guess it’s fine. I’m never going to be able to sit on that couch again, but I’ll be fine. The new roommate seems like an OK guy, a little on the obnoxious side, but nice enough. I guess it just bothers me that no one asked me about it, let alone inform me that it was taking place.

I had to find out about it by asking one of my roommates, “Who the heck is the guy sleeping on our couch and can we get him some pajamas or something?”

But I guess he is here to stay, so I had better get used to it. I’ve only got four months until graduation, at which time I will move out and put this place far behind me, so it’s not worth arguing about. Plus, I’m too passive to initiate any kind of confrontation.

I asked another roommate why I wasn’t told and he said it was because I’m never around and I don’t ever “hang out,” which is true. That’s probably because I have adult responsibilities like a job, an internship and a full college course load. Fancy that. I’m also trying to have a social life outside of my apartment and Facebook. So yes, I will be out of the apartment from time to time.

The good thing is the new roommate does seem to blend in with the old roommates, so some days I don’t even notice he’s here. Often he’s just another dude watching sports while yelling at the television, playing video games non-stop and making huge messes in the kitchen.

I’m just jealous, really. Just once I’d like to be the one waking up at noon. Just once I’d like to spend all of my waking hours watching television, eating and playing video games.

Oh well. I suppose I can console myself with the fact that at least I’m not as maladjusted as they are. For example, I was listening to some music the other day and the new roommate walks up and says, “I bet I can beat this song on Guitar Hero.”

Not knowing what the heck he was talking about - and feeling obligated to humor him - I said, “Oh, so it’s one of the songs on Guitar Hero, then?”

“No, I’m just saying that it if it were a song on Guitar Hero, I could totally beat it. On expert.”

Right. I couldn’t help thinking that if he put the amount of time into practicing the real instrument that he does into playing Guitar Hero, he’d be Jimi freaking Hendrix. So I suggested it.

“Oh, no way!” he replied. “I don’t even like the guitar in real life. Plus, I don’t like to practice. Too much work. I just can’t identify with that kind of work ethic, you know? Doing something over and over and spending hours and hours of your life on it? That’s just stupid.”

Stupid indeed.

Monday, January 19, 2009

The truth about reality TV

It all began a long, long time ago when a bunch of television executives got together to have a meeting on the state of television and one of them said, “I am so over scripts.”

Then somebody else chimed in, “Me too. Let’s just film regular people doing stupid stuff. That way we won’t need writers or professional actors, just people who want to get on TV, and there’s no shortage of those.”

And so it was agreed, and “reality television” was born. The jury is still out on whether that was a good thing or not.

Either way, it’s too late now. Several years have passed and now reality TV is all grown up and has reproduced like crazy, taking over the airwaves and spawning all kinds of shows about all kinds of weird things that get watched by all kinds of people.

Nobody can quite pinpoint why reality TV has become so popular. There are lots of different types of reality TV shows, and people like them all for different reasons.

Sometimes we just like to watch people in their natural habitat, so we watch Dirty Jobs or Little People, Big World.

Sometimes we like to feel good and fuzzy inside, so we watch Extreme Makeover: Home Edition and watch Ty Pennington renovate a house for some poor people.

But by and large it seems that we love to see people pitted against each other under pretty much any circumstance. We love to see people bicker and backstab to stay on some island and win some money, and have been watching that particular scenario for 18 going on 19 seasons now. We love to see people fight and claw to be the next big pop-star, chef, model, fashion designer, etc. etc. We even watch people compete to lose the most weight.

Why is it so fascinating? Maybe we just like to see people at their worst. A lot of times reality TV is just so shocking we can’t help but not watch. It’s like some perverse kind of voyeurism where we like to peer anonymously into the bizarre lives of complete strangers who do completely out-of-control things. Or maybe it’s like a car accident: we know we shouldn’t be looking, but we have this morbid curiosity and can’t tear our eyes away.

Take Rock of Love, for example. It’s currently in its third season, only it’s called Rock of Love Bus now. How does a show like this survive one, let alone three, seasons? I guess the better question is “Who wants to watch a mob of silicone-y skanks sink to all sorts of degrading depths to win the affections of some has-been butt rock hair metal singer?” Apparently, everyone.

And, for better or worse, it looks as if reality TV is here to stay. Major networks and even cable channels are choosing to fill more and more of their slots with reality television. Sure, it may change forms a little bit, but it’s such a huge part of our culture now, I can’t picture living without it. Only time will tell.

Meanwhile, I’m rooting for Britanya.

* Just in case anyone is confused, I am not really rooting for Britanya. That is TOTALLY a joke. I would never. Nor have I ever seen an episode of Rock Of Love Bus, nor will I ever see one. I would rather chew off my own leg.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Pop music has ruined me OR Don't sweep me off my feet, I have bad balance

I’ve been listening to a certain CD lately and it depresses me. I won’t say who it’s by, so I can keep a little bit of street cred, but all she sings about is “romance.”

It’s 13 of the mushiest songs you ever heard, 13 tracks of high school nonsense. Luckily for her, they’re also super-catchy. I guess the joke is on me because I find myself humming them all the time.

So why does it bring me down? Because the woman is singing about all kinds of messed up ideas about love and romance and she’s passing them on to other women. The dude she sings about “looks like an angel,” kisses like a dream and says all the right things to make her “melt.” Oh, and when he's not around she can't breathe.

And the silliest thing she constantly sings about is kissing somebody in the rain. Why is this romantic? What is it about kissing and precipitation that makes it so great? Kissing + Being Soaking Wet = Romantic? I don’t see it. Does that mean I could kiss somebody in, say, an automatic car wash and it would be super romantic? I’m confused.

Why is it that when something is ridiculous that automatically makes it “romantic”?

These pop-music ideas get perpetuated in movies too. I realize that when you go see a movie you want a happy ending, that's why you pay $9. If you wanted reality you'd watch the news for free. I understand, all I'm saying is we need to understand the difference between fantasy and reality.

Once a girl did me pretty wrong, so I told her it was over. I had just gone on vacation and was enjoying my time off, when early one morning she showed up on my doorstep. Turns out she had harassed my friends, figured out where I was staying and driven over 12 hours to try and fix things. The exchange went about like this:

Her: I thought about what you said and I drove all night to tell you that I love you and that I want to be with you and only you!

Me: That couldn’t have waited until 9 or 10? [I’m not very tactful in the morning.]

Her: I wanted to see you as soon as I got here!

Me: So you bothered my friends, drove all night with no sleep, burned up, like, three tanks of gas to get here and you’re missing your college classes to wake me up? You could’ve just called. We have the same cell phone service, you know. It’s free. That makes a lot more sense.

But isn’t this romantic?

No. “Creepy serial-killer-stalker,” more like. What would’ve been “romantic” is her being nice to me from the beginning. And not crashing my vacation. Consistently treating someone with respect, in my mind, is what romance really is. That way you'll never need extravagant (or creepy) gestures. I don’t think I will ever understand anyone with two X chromosomes.

She kept getting in my space too, expecting me to kiss her or something, because that was what was supposed to happen next in the chick flick that was playing in her head. But I just told her “No, thanks” and sent her on her way.

I think the popular view of "romance" sets a lot of people up for disappointment. People that have asphyxiating absences, look like angels, speak meltingly and kiss like a dream might make cool pop songs, chick flicks and vampire novels that get made into vampire movies, but I’m afraid they aren't found in nature. Just saying.

And yet I'm still humming.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Chick Magnet OR Dating and marriage according to my parents OR Love and ice cream

In my family and culture, you’re expected to be married and have started a family by the time you reach your mid-20s. If you don’t stick to that schedule, you’re in trouble.

So as far as my family is concerned my wife is long overdue, and I even have a few overdue kids by this time. They don’t let me hear the end of it.

For instance, there was a party with lots of single people in attendance that my brother Brennan and I didn’t go to. We were going to go, but then we realized it conflicted with a band that was playing that we really wanted to see. Oops.

My mom heard about it and became annoyed. She said, “You guys care more about going to rock shows than you do about finding a wife! What if the girl you were supposed to marry was at that party?”

“Well, if she's anybody I want to marry, she was probably at the show,” Brennan countered.

Touché. Basically my mom thinks dating is super easy, but really she just doesn’t remember how annoying and scary dating is. She got married, like, 100 years ago and it was an arranged marriage or something. My dad gave my grandpa a cow as part of the exchange.

So I’m bad at dating. Who isn’t?

For one thing, I have the rest of my life to be boring and married, so why the rush? You can’t force it, and finding a woman who is not crazy is harder than it looks. Finding a woman who is not crazy and “loves me for who I am” aka “puts up with me” is even harder.

And I would be lying if I said the fault rests entirely with the women. Recently I’ve been accused by several people of being “hot and cold.” I accept that. I get close to being serious and then I abandon ship. I know it’s not good, I just get hung up on that word “forever.” FOREVER. That is a long time, in case you were not aware.

When I was about 14 my dad laid it out for me like this: “See, it’s like Baskin Robbins. There’s 31 flavors, right? And there’s free samples, right? Only one day you’re gonna have to buy a scoop and that’s all you get. EVER. So you better try a lot of samples and make darn sure you like Rocky Road or Mint Chip or whatever you choose because you’re stuck with it, man! Rocky Road every single day of your life. Every. Single. Day.”

Never had ice cream sounded so depressing. The scary part is I see people around me putting the same amount of thought into who they’re going to marry as they do into ordering lunch at a fast food restaurant. On second thought, I’d say a lot of them put more thought into that lunch order. Sometimes it’s hard to choose between a number five and a number seven because some days you feel like beef, some days you feel like chicken, you know?

I’ve also talked to newly married couples and oftentimes they will tell me that married life is “hard.” Seriously? I can imagine it would be a fair amount of work, but it shouldn’t be “hard.” If that’s the case then I would just as soon stay single.

So I'm just trying to find a balance between cynical and delusional. I'm hoping for "realistic" and, with any luck, "optimistic."

Let’s make a deal: I will take dating more seriously if everyone will promise to stop harassing me.

See you at the show!