12.30.2014

August 2014.

Sleep.
Warmth.
Eyes and hands. Neck and nose. Big features, small head.
What is it? This.
Sleep.
Darkness.
Music.
Shoulders. Temples. The soft spot under the ears.
Back of the knees. Feet. Weightless.
Sleep.
Shudders. Talking soft, laughing at language.
Movements are not how you meant them to be,
or what you're used to.
Warmth. 
Learning. Still searching. Missing the point. Wondering.
Waiting and waiting and waiting.
Asking and answering.
Eyes and hands.
Warmth.
Sleep.

11.10.2014

17 Horrible Things That People Say Because We All Want Love But Are Idiots

Don't say these horrible stupid things. Ever. Don't text them either.

1. "I love women." What the hell does that even mean? Everyone loves women. How could you love all women? You think it's some sort of strange condition that you love women? You think it's an interesting thing about you? It is not, because loving women is a very common thing. What you mean is you are pathologically interested in having sex with as many women as possible, but for some reason you say this other thing. 

2. "He looks lonely." He does not look lonely. You have no idea what a lonely person looks like. You want to go talk to the tall hottie who is brooding in a corner, playing the I'm-complicated-and-hard-to-get game that he learned from a Pickup Artist technique book. You're walking away from an actually lonely person to go talk to a player. Fine. Say that. Don't tell me that he looks lonely and you're going to go fix that because you're such a nice person you solve all the problems of the lonely people in the world. Fuck that. If you care so much about people being lonely, stay here with me. "Didn't think so." - Louis C.K.


3. "..., period." What, you ended all human communication with that period? That period means you are right? All your preceding words are empirical truth because you said "period"? "Cats are avocados, period." Um, still not true. Period.

10.08.2014

空オーケストラ写真

Here's a playlist featuring short teasers & trailers for the karaoke-themed unscripted drama (that's the official way of saying reality show) I've been working on. It has a cool Japanese codename until we figure out what the final title is.



If you would like to support this sort of thing, financially, through social media, or with artistic/filmmaking resources, please get in touch with me. I can say with confidence it is going to be the Star Wars Episode 7 of karaoke-themed unscripted dramas.

Jessika Fett and Boyd Hastings in a scene from A Piece Of Me.


9.30.2014

Asian-American Guy Problems VS. American Woman Problems

This is the clearest way to explain it I think. #AsianAmericanManSplain

2 types of people with glasses. Yet a chasm of experience separates them.
Asian-American Man ProblemAmerican Woman Problem
Nobody seems highly interested in dating me.Every weirdo in every bar seems highly interested in dating me.
I live in a culture that considers me subordinate and docile. I live in a culture that considers me subordinate and docile.
I am the least-preferred ethnic group in online dating.I joined a dating site and got 20 pictures of genitalia in the first minute.
I don't talk about the racism because it's not sexy. I don't talk about the sexism because gaaaaah it's too everywhere.
People assume I'm weird. People assume I'm meat.
Since Mad Men came out I feel pressure to be an Alpha Bro I would never want to be. Since Mad Men came out I feel pressure to date successful alcoholics. 
I am the least-married ethnic group in America. I've been married twice already, it ain't all that great.
I am very anxious about being nice but not seeming "too nice."I am very anxious because everyone who's nice to me also has an angle.
On other hand, the police are usually pretty nice to me, based on a cultural profile I have no control over. Police are usually pretty nice to me, based on a cultural profile I have no control over.
When meeting someone I have to devote energy to both appearing sexually interested and not seeming like the weirdo they are expecting. It's exhausting. When meeting someone I have to evaluate both how much they want to use me for sex and an exit strategy even if I sort of like them. It's fricking exhausting.
I eat meals alone with my phone.If this guy attempts to pay for my food, does he think I owe him a hookup?
I wake up alone. I wake up next to some douche.
Every opportunity for love is kind of a big deal. Ever opportunity for love with a non-stalker is kind of a big deal.
If I lived in New York I could get a date because they're more racially open-minded there. If I lived in Los Angeles I could get a date because the lonely dudes there outnumber me 5 to 1.
Things might go easier if I was gay. Things might go easier if I was gay.
James Franco, John Mayer, also guys with beards. Katy Perry, also girls with nice hair.
People are very surprised if I karaoke Prince, even though Asian guys invented that karaoke shit. People are very surprised if I karaoke a song that isn't pretty or flattering.
Although I have my own preferences, people expect me to just go for whoever's available after Don Draper has chosen.Although I have my own preferences, they are distorted by the availability of dudes who will evidently humiliate themselves for my attention.
Because of TV stereotypes, people expect me to be really good at tech. I'm not. Because of porn, people expect me to be really good at handjobs. I'm not.
Once, I was just standing around and made someone very uncomfortable by clearing my throat. Once, I was just standing around and was invited to a threesome because I adjusted my shirt.
I recognize 100 different ways of being written off. I recognize 100 different ways of being hit on. 
I know who I want but she has never even considered the possibility that the Asian guy has functional baby-making equipment. I don't know who I want, but I am pretty sure it is not all these people who want me.
I actually speak way better English than you.I actually speak way better English than you.

8.26.2014

Total Eclipse of the Heart.

Third in a set of poems based on the titles of the most-overdone songs at karaoke. Also: Don't Stop Believing and I Want It That Way.




Total Eclipse of the Heart

Virgin moon
Every now and then
Diana breaks out the arrows.
A hunter, she was born in Italy.

Turning tides
Every night the bar is full
and empty at the same time, you know
it kind of waxes and wanes.

Turning on:
the Turned Ons and the Turners
all circle each other, but
sometimes you just run out of time.

Mars and Venus
are just fucking fuckpads
and everyone is mad
at the universe because they're alone.

Virgin moon, bright night
The hunter sees a boy that she likes.

Virgin moon, bright night
Every now and then I fall apart.

Turn away
Every now and then
I watch them work on the street
and then I go and shop for a shirt.

Turn to me
Girls are aware of who's
approaching, boys attune to
who is running away.

Lock and key.
Home and garden. 
Shop for clothes. 
Medium small small medium small.

Virgin moon
goddess Diana's bow is seen
in the crescent phase,
in your belly, in your eyes.

Small sky, big eyes
Moons of your shoulders, sun of your heart.

"Turn around! Smile!"
It's funny how beauty makes everything fall apart.

And I need you now tonight.
We could be alone together.
We could be on our phones together.
I'm overcome, just come over. 

The moon relates to melancholy. 
The moon is in a song.
Okay, Cupid. Okay, Diana. 
The choices are the shadows, don't be bad, don't be wrong. 

The bar is breaking up. Hunters and the herd.
Hugs with cigarettes and a few fumbled words.
I really, really need you tonight.
Whatever's going to start tonight.
Totally. Starting. Tonight.

Early in the day
I was choosing a shirt
Now I lie with you in the dark. 
Tracing out the moon's
actual ellipse from your heart.

Sort of like a circle or
a limaçon with an arrow's sharp.
The imagined shape that you'd see
if you saw an eclipse of the heart.

8.18.2014

Paul.

A version of this piece originally appeared at You Offend Me You Offend My Family.

It was 20ish years ago today…

The first pop music I ever heard clearly was Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, and if your experience is the same, then you scarcely need read this preamble. The vinyl record belonged to my father. I was very young and had only a vague concept of music being in two categories: 1) All my father's classical records, in which I had begrudging compulsory interest, and 2) something called rock music, which was on the radio. Self-image having formed well before musical vocabulary, I knew that rock was the cool category, and that I could not possibly belong to the cool category. In terms of "having musical taste," I mainly knew the opening theme to the Battle of the Planets cartoon. Bach and Brahms and Beethoven were things that happened in an adult world: pleasant, settled, defined. But next to these 3 big B's in my dad's record collection, there was this one record by the Beatles.

Since it was the only album that didn't have an old man in a white wig on the cover, I was fascinated by its kiddie-friendly colors. And anyway, I had to figure out how this record player thing worked at some point or other. I put Sgt, Pepper on side A and carefully placed the needle.

And the rest, as you know, is Earth-bound magic.

8.16.2014

Poly, a parody of "Polly" in the style of Nirvana

A song about the "poly" (polygamous dating) concept, written to the tune of "Polly" by Nirvana.



POLY

Polly is a poly
I think you have to be cute first
To have a lot of partners
Everyone's a dark horse

It's not for me
Monogamy
Let's hook up
Have a fling
Let me take a ride
With someone else
Want a friend?
Friend yourself
No one's old
No one's cold
Promise you
This isn't true
Let you take a ride
Amuse yourself
I am hot
I help myself

Polly wants it casual
She doesn't wanna be tied down
Unless she wants to be tied down
Wednesdays are so booooooring

Poly says her phone's dead
She's just as bored as me
But she has a lot more options
It amazes me, the gall of hotties

Is it me?
Try and see
Let's hook up
It's not a thing
Not too attached
Don't hurt yourself
Don't want a male
Don't want a wife
I'm very open
Unless you're fat
Or really rude
Or an Asian dude
Got an open mind
And I am sexy
So I wrote a sext
To myself.



Next in this series will be a spoof of "Molly" by Sponge.



8.10.2014

I Want It That Way.

Second in a series of poems based on the most-overdone karaoke songs.


I Want It That Way

I invented fire. 
The one messiah. 
Believe what I say.
I own a desert.

I make a diamond a day.
I invented sex, and also those
yummy walnut prawns at Chinese banquets.
I am pretty lit, by the way.

But tell me why
I can't decide
that you would just walk in
from outside.

I'm friends with a dinosaur
who shits concept cars.
I am absolute truth.
I invented mistakes. Also, cake. 

I made you in my image,
messed up your hair though.
I'm that guy who stays up for four days
and sleeps for three. I'm Pinocchio,
I think in code, I'll love you from
the start of time to
the tallest point of Tokyo.

But tell me why
you can't just decide
to ache for some guy.
I can see electrons,
spit a billion sick syllables,
stop and start a heart,
but I can't make up your mind
and am left wanting, that way.

8.02.2014

Don't Stop Believing.

As part of the ongoing karaoke otaku-ness, I'm writing some poems based on the most-overdone karaoke songs, holding loosely to the song's theme and line structure. This is the first one.


Don't Stop Believing

She stretched out on the street,
her fist a pillow,
she tried to feel comfortable.

He thought about failing to fail.
Not from southern anywhere but
also can't be from a bar.

The scene seen with raw eyes;
two young folk speaking smoke, 
simple minded as spaghetti, don't forget me,
don't forget, I won't forget you.

She sat up straight and attentive,
a shadow passed over like a cloud
in the desert, like an idea. 
The night turns navy towards me
and the pulse of Friday street lamps
taunt and turn into nothing. 

We're always making a movie.
This one's weird title is:
"Heartbreak Goes Around in a Circle
Like Mononucleosis of the Discarded."

Turn around, flip the world,
hold for sound. But don't forget,
don't forget to smile and move,
because movement is love.

She said, "We are all getting smaller
with every one of us,
classroom to cluster to ashes to dust;
But don't stop believing,
don't ever not believe
it isn't true."

I looked up when she said that
and couldn't shake the feeling
that nothing was wrong.






7.11.2014

5 Language Fails Proving That The Backstreet Boys Could Not Speak Goddamn English

I was going to write about something happy and affectionate today, like a girl on a pegasus with a muffin or something. Instead I have this:


1. SHAPE OF MY HEART

At one point in the song, AJ sings: "Sadness is beautiful. Loneliness is tragical."

Tragical is a nice idea for an English word, but it is not an English word.

"Tragic" is what English speakers say, for example, when they refer to the Backstreet Boys' fluency with English.

Maybe their powers of vocabulary were distracted by the blonde gal in the video, who apparently is about to go down on Nick under the table. But more likely it's just that the Backstreet Boys could not speak English to save their goddamn lives.



2. MEN STRIKES BACK

At 3:50, Kevin says: "Welcome to VH-1's Men Strikes Back concert."

It's not super-hard to match the subject and verb here. Men STRIKE, Man STRIKES. Men do not strikes. I think possibly Kevin was born in a foreign land.



This concert was also notable for BSB's duet (uh, sextet?) with Sting, doing "Don't Stand So Close To Me." Yes that is a really awesome idea.



3. DOES HIS GIFTS COME FROM THE HEART? DOES HIS FRIENDS GET ALL YOUR TIME?

Strangely, "DO his gifts come from the heart" would also fit the meter, and also be correct English.



We get it, guys. You are so backstreet that you even speak English all street-like. Your love is all you have to give. You certainly cannot give lessons in English.

4. AIN'T NOTHING BUT A HEARTACHE, AIN'T NOTHING BUT A MISTAKE, I NEVER WANT TO HEAR YOU SAY, I WANT IT THAT WAY

Let's try to parse this chorus. Whoops, it's impossible. WHAT is nothing but a heartache? The relationship? You? Okay. There is a phrase you never want to hear me say? Or the state of non-speaking of the phrase is the "way" you want it? What is it you never wanna hear me say? You never wanna hear me say that I want it that way? But you just told me to believe when you say "I want it that way," and so I do believe you want it that way, but that brings us back to this whatever you supposedly never want to hear me say. Huh? SPEAK FRIKKIN' ENGLISH, for the love of God.

Again, from VH-1's Mens Strikes Backs.



5. SHOW ME THE MEANING OF BEING LONELY

Duh. They're asking because they really don't know what is the meaning of the word "lonely." Because the Backstreet Boys don't know how to speak goddamn English.

Also, remember when this was the most popular video in the universe? There are kids out there right now probably still learning English from those Backstreet Chumps. And that is truly tragical.

6.09.2014

Let's Just Go To Nicks 2, and a poem about shoelaces.

An impromptu poem about tying shoelaces, by my friend Amy Chan, pictured in center rear, below.




That's F**king Teamwork

I do it old school,
check it, check it.
This is my style right here.
Double bunny ears,
pull it, cinch it.
Double it, the opposite way
so that it's a lock-knot.
So the tighter it pulls,
the tighter the knot becomes.
And the birthday girl
is good to go.


5.06.2014

At-Home White-Privilege Self-Test: Do You Realize That Things Could Go Wrong?

A lot of talk about White Privilege lately. It's a thing. You don't necessarily have to be white to suffer from it. You just have to be mostly a douche. Still, a lot of people, mainly white-privileged people, claim to not understand what it is.

There's a simple White Privilege test that I apply whenever meeting anyone who may be an unconscious carrier of the White Privilege germ. It is as easy and reliable as the home pregnancy test. That is, the test tells you quickly and with a reasonable margin for error whether a person is White Privileged or a Totally Cool & Down White Person.

The test is this. Just ask the person some version of this question: "Do you understand that things could go wrong?"

"Do you get that things go wrong?" "You know how that might go badly, right?" "You see how that might be a bad idea?" You can ask these questions to yourself as well.

There is no possible way that this could have a bad outcome for anybody.

See, the central tenet/symptom of White Privilege is this: Things Are Supposed To Work Out For You. Thus, you never need a plan. You never need to anticipate anything that happens in the real world. Because, as we all know from watching TV and movies, the white male is the hero, deserves to find love with the nice girl (also the Asian girl, the Latina girl the Black girl and the manicpixiedreamgirl), has a righteous mandate to get rid of anyone who stands in his way, and will always win in the end.

So when you meet that guy who goes, "Aaah, let's just play it by ear. We'll get there and figure it out. Don't worry. Think positive. I have confidence," la la lah, WATCH OUT.

What that guy means to himself is, "I'll get there, have a beer, talk to the pretty girl, and everything will turn out all right."

What that guy does to the world is, fuck everything up with his ignorant careless know-nothingness.

People of Color and women (that is, about 70-80% of the world) know that Things Go Wrong. They learn it from life. If they don't, it's because their parents own A) a sports team or B) a country.

White People should know that Things Go Wrong, but sometimes they are not given the opportunity to learn. Sometimes you just get the girl, or the job, or the chance, for no observable reason except, things are working out for you.

Being aware that Things Go Wrong, and sometimes you make them go wrong, is a quality that makes you a better person. I think it's Louis C.K. who said (paraphrasing), "When you say to yourself I'M SO STUPID HOW COULD I DO THAT, that's you learning never to do that thing again." It's a far superior way to approach life than the White Privileged way, which is, "Everything I do is okay, because I'm a great person."

When you're aware that things could go wrong, you are a functioning useful part of the world.

- You can notice when things are going wrong for another person, and maybe help them out.

- You can perceive trouble coming down the street, and with your awareness that Shit Does Happen, you can avoid trouble instead of walking right up to it.

- You make plans that anticipate all the things that could go wrong, and you don't absurdly expect that your plans will work, ever. But at least you have a plan.

- You talk to women respectfully, because you understand that you might not get to have sex with them, in fact the total opposite of that might happen. 

- You are not James Franco, Donald Sterling, or any kid who goes to Princeton. 

Look, I don't care if you were born rich or worked your way up out of the widget-selling fields; if somewhere along the way you learned that It Is Not All About You, then you have a chance of living a White-Privilege-free life.

Do you realize that things could go wrong? You do? Excellent. Let's try to do something anyway.

4.25.2014

#LetsJustGoToNicks



"Let's just go to Nick's" is the unofficial slogan of my current favorite karaoke bar, Nick's Lounge. The phrase was coined by the owner, Bryan. The idea is, it's what you should've said at the planning phase of your evening, before you

- searched the interweb vainly for the coolest place to go.
- texted all your friends including James Earl Magotes about what cool thing they are going to.
- went to a place maybe to meet up with whoever, got lost because it's "somewhere in the Mission," paid $35 in parking and gas because it's San Francisco, and paid another 11 bucks for an artisanal cocktail only to find out that you're at the wrong place because you suck.
- noticed that all the "cool" places to go in the Bay Area are in fact expensive, pretentious, and full of brogrammers and princesses. Sometimes gay princesses, but nevertheless.
- crossed Nick's off your list because it has unsexy lighting, questionable bathrooms, is a karaoke bar, and you were there just last night.
- had a miserable time because all people do in the cool bars is talk about obscure liquors and chase each other for sex. There is nothing else to actually do.



I prefer bars where there is one other thing to do, whether it is watch sports, sing karaoke, or play a competitive card game. That one other thing keeps you out of the drinking-loneliness-more drinking-pointless existence loop that happens at most cool bars. And the cool bars are tense, because you have to be in that loop yet somehow divert all remaining Dilithium reactor power towards staying hip.

If you don't know, you never will, but what I usually say at the planning phase of the evening is

- I want to sing a song, and see what kinds of songs other people are singing. If the songs/people are a lot out of step with my personal song preference list, I'll leave quickly.
- I could use a beer.
- Most of all I want to relax.
- Let's just go to Nick's.

4.09.2014

#NotYourMascot: On The Washington Redskins

I'm a football fan. Would I watch Washington Redskins games any less often if they were called the Washington Redapples? I could not care less. I would watch them. Currently, I try not to watch them, because the name "Redskins" is so insulting.

Change the name. Could you make any more profit, as a team in the NFL, the most lucrative sport in America? Not really. Would your profitability suffer? No chance of that. Football is not going anywhere, so to speak.

Is it an opportunity to make the world a finer place? Yes it is. Because the name "Redskins" speaks to a history of injustice and suffering. It describes an immature America that we'd all do well to leave behind.

A new name for the team would gain new fans. And honor.

The name "Redskins" speaks disparagingly to the people who created the U.S.A. It derides the people who lived here originally, and reminds us that the people who came here were capable of genocidal violence and hatred.

Nothing about this opinion is new. But a new name would be.

Also, let's face it, a new name would GUARANTEE that you beat the Cowboys. And as a Niners fan, that's also something I would stand behind.




3.25.2014

5 Things I Learned From Standing In Line At Gordo's Waiting For A Burrito

...which is something I do at least once a week.


1. People in Berkeley still have no idea how to order a burrito. "Do I want regular or super?" "I want it with the boiled chicken." "NO HOT SAUCE." "Should I get guacamole and sour cream? I'm ordering it for a friend." "Did you put tomatoes in it already?" "What's in a carnitas?"

Fellow Berkleyans, in terms of component ingredients used, there are fewer menu options at Gordo's than even In 'N' Out. Every choice is literally in front of you, in heated trays, when you approach the counter. And you clearly don't know what you want, so you might as well stop trying to have it the way you want.

2. Young parents will, remarkably, discuss not the order, but the intricate process of ordering their family takeout dinner with the cashier, as if it is somehow his responsibility. "Are there 3 burritos? But I have 4 kids in the car. Maybe one of them is not eating. But I should get 4 burritos in case he wants to eat. Hold on, let me call. (A great eon of phone-fiddling passes.) Yeah, I guess he's not eating. Do you think 3 burritos is enough?"

Dude, guess what, it's your family, YOU get to keep track of this stuff. I don't take a Facebook poll and quiz the staff before deciding whether to get an extra burrito or not. Of course you want to order more, it's Gordo's! Fatten that kid up!

3. Quesadillas do sorta become the same thing as tacos when you order the quesadilla on a corn tortilla with hella meat and stuff on it.

4. Some people think that "Super" indicates an actual cooking method or some kind of specifically arcane carnality within the burrito. It does not. "Super" only means that this burrito will make you fatter than the normal burrito. It is, however, a Spanish word, so you can pronounce it that way if it makes you feel better about yourself.

5. I went to a Chipotle for the first time recently. Tripped me out. As in Subway, at Chipotle you get to, have to in fact, verbally confirm every element or lump that is put in the burrito before the guy proceeds down the conveyor belt. You get it exactly the way you order it. I think Chipotle's adoption of this absurdly high-maintenance service model, with its "If you say brown rice, we say how many grains?" philosophy, is probably contributing to the problems of the Gordo's line in modern times.

By introducing the possibility of micro-managing every ingredient in your fatty fried takeout meal, Chipotle/Subway has infected the populace with the idea that it might actually be necessary to do that.

Need I mention that the Chipotle iBurrito's meat had nowhere near the succulence, its rice none of the chew, its salsa none of the life, as the thing you get from Gordo's if you simply walk up to the counter and order "burrito"?

People, the whole point is it's supposed to be fast. Get the carnitas on whatever, and keep moving boldly towards the future.





2.14.2014

14 Reasons You Don't Want To See This Stupid "Endless Love" Movie On Stupid Valentine's Day

So for whatever reason I saw a preview of this movie Endless Love that is coming out today, on Valentine's Day 2014. I want to encourage you all, if you have plans to see it tonight, to abort those plans. Romantically speaking, you'd be better off re-watching Silver Linings Playbook. Spoiler alert.

1. It steals everything that can be stolen from the far-superior teen romance film Say Anything, mainly the plot.
There's a girl with good grades who doesn't have any friends. A dude from the wrong side of the tracks has a crush on her. Despite his friends' warnings, he pursues her. There's a wild graduation party which validates her and makes her feel one with the normal kids. He has dinner with the family and the dad interrogates him awkwardly. Her dad has a dark secret. The big problem is she is going away to a fancy school at the end of the summer. They eventually end up on a plane. The only plot beat that deviates from Say Anything at all is the part where a house catches fire, and the main characters are, unfortunately, not consumed by an inferno.

2. It steals actual dialogue from Say Anything.
Before they make love for the first time, it's raining or cold or something, and the gal says,"You're shaking." He replies, "Good shaking." This is basically exactly what they say in the car-consummation scene in Say Anything, except somehow in Cameron Crowe's film it conveyed a true moment of happiness, and in Endless Love 2014 it is just some crap that two idiots say before hooking up.

3. The screenplay was written by someone who has never loved anyone.
The movie is not even about love, exactly. It is much more about gender role definition via the Cosmo/Details magazine school of male/female fantasy ideals. The guy is handsome and tall; complicated without being intelligent; deferent but he punches anyone who disrespects his girl; good with cars. The girl is blonde and rich, and that's pretty much all we know about her. (We are asked to believe that she is smart because her father pulls strings to get her into medical school.)

4. The writer of the original novel doesn't like it.
Scott Spencer, author of the novel Endless Love (credited as the source material for this film as well as the 1981 Endless Love, starring Brooke Shields and Who Gives A Hoot) writes eloquently on what happens when Hollywood makes your book into two movies in The Paris Review.

5. It stars a British guy doing an American accent who has a black sidekick doing an Ebonic accent.
We know the hero's okay because his best friend is black and funny and is named "Mace." He also is a good singer and dancer and way more charismatic than the lead character. Somehow, Mace does not die. But neither does he truly live.

6. It is kind of white privilegey.
It is a white-privileged idea that love can include pursuing a girl to the point of stalking, and she will somehow interpret it as dedication. I mean, this also happens in Say Anything, but there it's more cute.

7. The music is terrible. 
The song "Endless Love" doesn't happen. "In Your Eyes" doesn't happen. Honestly I would've settled for a song from fucking Dawson's Creek.

8. It isn't enough about the two fathers. 
The only potentially interesting part of this flick is the conflict between the two fathers, played by Bruce Greenwood and Robert Patrick, a.k.a. Captain Pike vs. the T-1000. Here are two men, caught between the indignant stupidity of their children and their own personal grief, who must make hard decisions regarding the future of their families. You could make a good movie about that. Or you could make Endless Love.

9. The two lead actors are way too pretty.
They are that kind of pretty that is not even good-looking. They are like schematics for how to draw a person. After a while you kind of want to shoot them.

10. It gives you really bad advice for life.
Many films perpetrate the convenient idea that "you must fight for love, because love is all that matters." A good film makes you believe it. Looking at you, Slumdog Millionaire.

11. At one point there is a joke where the dad confuses Hulu for Uber.
It's cute until you realize that this will be the high point of witticism for the entire movie.

12. It will make you angry at women.
Because evidently all women want is a dull hunk of meat who will punch their dad.

13. It will make you angry at men.
Because apparently all men want is the bland rich girl they never talked to in high school.

14. Because, love.
Love is still important, as Michael Jackson said. ("Love, L-O-V-E.") Love deserves films like Say Anything and Wall-E and Punch-Drunk Love and Love Actually and Broadcast News. Love is a thing that happens between people, not Hollywood-composite perfect-hair androids. So, in the name of love, let Endless Love bomb.

1.03.2014

5 Inviolable Rules of Civilized Karaoke (in public bars)

(for more karaoke-related stuff, please visit melancholyball.com and https://www.facebook.com/melancholyball)

1. Do not sing "Don't Stop Believing" or "Bohemian Rhapsody."*
Often seems like a good idea. Is not. If you feel you must sing Journey, make the journey home. If you are feeling Queenish, may I suggest "Fat Bottom Girls" (the guitar groove is sexy, irrespective of actual singing) or "Somebody To Love" (its rolling 12/8 meter will evoke "Piano Man" sentimentality without actually being "Piano Man," and its lyric describes what most people in bars are thinking anyway).

2. If you must rap, do not use the n-word.
This is a 3-shot foul. Doesn't matter how street you think you are. But, one occasionally wants to do "Hypnotize," so. Have a word prepared. "People" or "brother" are usually acceptable. Or a sharp intake of breath.** Or, I'm told, "ninja" also works.

3. Know whether your song is Sexy, Heartached, or Obscure.
Karaoke culture reveals that there are only 3 genres of song: Sexy Songs, Songs of Heartache and Loss, and Songs That No One Has Heard Of. Of course, that last category includes much wonderful, deathless, genius music. For the purposes of karaoke, doesn't matter.

  • Sexy Songs can be rock, soul, hiphop, country, whatever; they make you want to dance and drink and flirt and get good and naughty naughty. These songs are often stupid. But they are necessary. "Umbrella." "La Isla Bonita." "Mr. Brightside." "Poison." "Beast of Burden." "Always Be My Baby."
  • Songs of Heartache and Loss create the other desired emotional color of a healthy karaoke bar. The feeling of Love: unrequited and blue, sentimental and warm, momentary and true, often involving a key change up for the last chorus. "Alone." "At This Moment." "No Woman No Cry." "Fake Plastic Trees." "Rocket Man."
  • Songs That No One Has Heard Of: again, this category encompasses Most Good Music In The Universe. The catch is, you have to sing an "obscure" song very very well in order to endear it to mass virgin ears. Otherwise, you are being purely self-indulgent, and more or less wasting everyone's drinking time. The personal attachment you have to the [deep album track]/[quirky one-hit wonder] is Strictly Only In Your Head, unless you can somehow sell the song as sexy or heartachey. "Birdhouse In Your Soul." "Red Rain." Most Bowie. Any Of The Other Songs By A-Ha, Of Which There Are A Surprising Number.

Hybrid songs, which fall into 2 of the above categories, do exist. Generally they are mid-tempo snare-heavy tunes with a pretty chorus. Songs that are both Sexy and Heartachey: "Beast of Burden." "Como Al Flor." "Man in the Mirror." Macklemore's "Same Love." The song that is all at once Sexy, Heartbreaking, and You Haven't Heard Of It Before? Very rare, and many far greater musicians than me are always searching for it. The closest one I can think of is Talking Heads' "This Must Be The Place," but it's not quite obscure enough, just very obscure in karaoke books.

4. If there is a choice, don't pick the version with the video. 
Karaoke videos are a beautiful and unsung (so to speak) sub-genre of short film that often take place in the 80's, or in Kuala Lumpur, or both. However, they are usually accompanied by an 80s-era dinky MIDI-based instrumental track, as opposed to the more faithful instrumental tracks which have words only and a snare drum sound that more closely emulates the song you were looking for. Screw it man, it's all about the music.


5. Do ask members of the opposite sex, or whatever your favorite sex is, to sing a tune with you.
It's fun and mostly harmless. And it's a way of opening up interaction in a bar where people are feeling self-conscious and solipsistic. But be able to sing the song that you suggest. Or failing that, make sure the suggested song is at a high grade of Sexy or Heartachey, preferably familiar enough that you can stumble through it no matter what happens. "Up Where We Belong." "Super Bass." "Under Pressure." "A Whole New World." 

*(Other Songs That You Should Reconsider Singing Because Everybody Does Them: "Total Eclipse Of The Heart." "Sweet Caroline." "I Want It That Way." "Friends In Low Places." "Hotel California." "Closing Time." "China Girl." "A Whole New World.")

**Unless you're a black person, in which case it's different.