Wednesday, July 30, 2008

the cheese stands alone

I could date a celebrity. I'm already prepared for the lack of a private life; I love public relationships. If anything happens in the slightest on the "girl front" I tell everyone. You probably think this is just a product of my egotism. So what if I like to tell my friends when I'm in love, and so what if that person happens to be a Cylon on Battlestar Galactica? Sure, they give me flack about it. "It's a TV show, dude," they chide, "Cylons don't exist... go for Starbuck instead." It comes back to bite me when things don't go well because I have to tell the story a hundo times, but I think public relationships are healthy. It's good to get opinions from outside sources; it keeps you grounded, which is the second reason why I could date a celebrity; celebrities need to stay grounded. How refreshing is it to see a movie star who is "down to earth?" Very, is the correct answer there. You see the reverse all the time. Celebrities become full of themselves; they marry other celebs and live depressing lives in the smoldering heat of the lime light. Mixing stardom with relationships is a dangerous brew.

So, really, it's not just that I could date a celebrity, it's that celebrities need me. Think about it; you're a movie star hottie, and you're featured in every issue of US Weekly and People. The public sees you dating celeb hunks and they put up with you, but really, they're just waiting for you to fail. That one slip of the tongue on Regis & Kelly. "I always knew she was a jerk," they'll say. Now, think about you walking down the street holding hands with some average dude with a "down to earth" job, maybe a middle school teacher or a community organizer or a newsroom intern. Not only will it make US Weekly, but people will love you forever; so, when you decide to be brutally honest on Letterman about how you don't write your own songs (you're a singer now) and you don't ever plan to, people will give you some slack. We'll be the feel good story of all of Hollywood. They'll probably write a movie about us, and we could play us! Wait, that means I'll become famous too...

Here's the biggest hurdle; I'm not very good around celebrities. I have a hard time being myself. That one shot I'll get at some point in my life to talk to an attractive celebrity will be so packed with pressure; I might freeze. But luckily I got a practice swing last week.

I had the opportunity to go see a Kansas City Royals game with our sports broadcaster. We got to go down onto the field while they were having batting practice. It was an especially humid day; so I was sweating as hard as the players. I saw John Buck take some swings in the cage. I brushed shoulders with Gil Meche as he walked by me in the dugout. The Royals were playing the Detroit Tigers, whom one of Old Dominion's former players now plays for, Justin Verlander. Justin's no nobody; he was the second overall pick a few years ago and he's turning into a star pitcher for the Tigers. Justin and I actually had a speech class together my freshman year (his senior year), and we would chat every once in a while. He always had the biggest smile on his face, and he would try and convince me to come out and watch the ODU baseball team play. Every time I heard his name since then I would spout out what I just told you; Verlander, ODU, class together, nicest guy, etc.

The Royals were wrapping up and Bill, the sports broadcaster, said, "Hey, you wanna go see your buddy, Verlander?" Oh no, I thought. He's not going to remember me.

"Sure," I said.

We walked over to the Tigers dugout and sat down on the bench as the players filed out onto the field. I frantically scanned every player to see which was him. I assured Bill that he probably wouldn't remember me, that he's big-time now. Each walked into the dugout, then went straight up the stairs onto the field. One of them took a hard left into the dugout and walked towards us. Oh God, I thought, it's Verlander. Everything came down to this. Verlander was the pride and joy of ODU sports. If he doesn't remember me, I thought, how can I keep building him up to be this old buddy of mine? I remained seated as he walked closer.

"Hey, Justin!" I said, smiling. He looked over at me with a quizical look, "you probably don't remember me, but we had speech class together."

"At ODU?" he said. I froze.

"Yup..." was all I could get out. No 'remember that assignment we had to do?' or 'remember our really feminine teacher?'

I moved on, "Yeah, I'm working in Jefferson City in a radio news room and we're down here covering the Royals."

"Where is that?" he asked. I explained that it was in between KC and St. Louis. I could tell he thought I was lying at this point.

"So, how'd speech class work out for you?" he said, a half-ass attempt at a joke.

"I'm broadcasting now," I said. What an idiot. I could feel the conversation ending. It's over, I thought. Justin Verlander, star pitcher for the Detroit Tigers, thinks I'm a liar, a jerk, and an asshole. He shook my hand, and grinned, not nearly the size of the toothy smile I remember from speech class.

"Good to see ya," he walked off.

I spent the next couple hours thinking about what I should have said, how the conversation should have ended. That's it, I realized, no second chances.

And that's what separates the men from the boys. You've got to perform when it's all on the line. No second chances. So, when I'm reading at a coffee shop and Carrie Underwood walks in and orders a cafe latte, I'll know what to do. I pull out my gun and hold the place up. I yell at everyone to get down. I go to the register and demand that they open the safe and bag the money, as well as scan one of those gift cards and put $1000 on it (any more than that would look suspicious when I use it at other Starbucks). As they're bagging the money I look around and act like I notice Carrie Underwood for the first time. I say something like, "Are you Carrie Underwood?" After she affirms that she is Carrie Underwood I say something about a "change of plans." I take the money and I demand Carrie comes with me. I lead her out to my car by gunpoint and tell her to get in the driver's seat and drive. She starts driving as I continue to point the gun at her in the passenger seat, acting really nervous, by the way. Hopefully, it's humid so I am sweating profusely. She notices I'm nervous and starts to ask me questions like, "How are you going to get away with this?" After we drive late into the night I tell her to pull into a motel. There are some awkward moments because the only room available is a single bed. She sees that I'm really a gentleman when I tell her that she can have the bed, and I sleep on the floor. She realizes I'm just mixed up, and starts to care for me. Sure, I go to jail when I give her back a couple days later, but we'll have made a deep connection by then, and she'll probably write a song about me. Later we'll date, but break up after I become famous.

I need to get that concealed weapon license...


Also, here's a song I wrote:

Sunday, July 20, 2008

hire greg

My good friend Greg was asked to make a minute-long video resume for a website called, which is built for job-searching using video. Greg's video will be used as a template. The professional that Greg is, he knocked it out of the park. The video (apart from its poor quality) is well done and has just the right amount of humor to attract attention, but not away from Greg's qualifications. I'd hire him:

Greg inspired me. I decided to use his video as a template for my own video resume. I gave it my best shot, but making the video only made me realize one thing; maybe I'm not exactly ready for the real world...

Also, here's a video of Greg as a kid (he used to want to be a cop).

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

not everything is good for the gander

I took an early lunch yesterday at around eleven, and I was feeling quite professional on my way home. The reason for the early lunch was that I had to be in the booth by 12:30 to do the 1 o'clock news cast, and then the 2, and the 3. Jarred, fellow intern, heard that I was doing the newscasts earlier that morning and came to visit me at my desk.

"Newscasts, huh?" said Jarred, "not in the booth, practicing?"

"Nah," I replied.

The truth is I was actually thinking about practicing, mostly so that my voice wouldn't sound hoarse during my first cast. But as soon Jarred suggested that I needed practice, I put the kibosh on the idea. Practice? Me? I don't think so. Don't need it. So, I entered the dark, chilly apartment (we keep it at 68), unpracticed, and on my lonesome. I decided to take advantage of the seclusion and put on some of my music. Yeah, good music. I plugged in my new ipod touch to the stereo and blasted The Dodos. Not too loud... neighbors. I turned it down, but just a little. I snapped my fingers as I perused the cabinets and refrigerator. Velveeta mac and cheese, thank you very much (don't worry, it's the 2% milk version, half the fat. daddy's taking care of himself). I sat down at the table with my piping hot bowl of mac and cheese, popped a lactaid pill, and grabbed the latest issue of the Economist. Needless to say, I was feeling pretty good at this point; my music was playing via my sleek ipod touch, I was gearing up to do three newscasts without practice because I'm that good, I had a copy of the young liberal's Bible in front of me, and lactose was successfully being broken down in my body, thanks to lactaid. At this point the roommates had arrived and were rummaging through the kitchen; so I turned the music down, but just a little. I was jamming out, scooping up the mac and cheese, flipping through the Economist, when i arrived at a particular article about Thomas Paine. Hey, I know about Thomas Paine, I thought. I wrote a paper or two about him while getting my Poly Sci minor. I at least know enough to throw out little nuggets here and there to impress friends: Common Sense pamphlet in 1775, state of nature, men are good, etc. I'm not sure why I remember Paine so well; maybe it's because of my infatuation with the movie Major Payne.

Thomas Paine has always been a confidence booster for me, but his use has really only been in the form of the random fact. The skill I learned best as an English major is how to communicate just enough about a subject to seem knowledgeable, which is essentially bullshitting. The random fact has always been my intellectual crutch. There are really only a handful things I know anything about. For example, I like to remind the average Feist listener that she used to be in a band called Broken Social Scene, a Canadian post-rock experiment group. It's important to mention when Ben Stein is on TV that he was once a speech writer for Richard Nixon. When the OC was on, it was always nice to quiz people about what movie Marissa was in as a kid (she was the throw-up girl in the Sixth Sense). And if someone is reading a newspaper or a magazine, I like to slyly bring up the fact that paper comes from trees.

I began to read the article about Thomas Paine feeling very proud of the fact that I already knew something about an Economist article before reading it. I got to about the third line. An Arkansas legislator was attempting to pass a bill to create a Thomas Paine day... What for? I read on... To educate the people about the impact he had on our independence? Oh no! I mean, sure, he did have a huge impact, but I don't want everyone to know about it. If everyone knew about Thomas Paine, not only would everyone else be getting smarter, but my relative intelligence would go down. I became angry. The bill didn't pass, phew. " effort to institute a Paine day in all 50 far nine states have passed such resolutions, including...Virginia"?! What the hell? What did I even get my minor for if everyone's going to already know what I learned due to a stupid holiday? Going to school was never about educating myself; it was about being educated more than others.

This was a blow. My mac and cheese started to taste more slimy than good, The Dodos' constant banging began to annoy me, and I started to get nervous about my afternoon broadcasts. Why didn't I practice?! This was just like the other day when my roommates and I were watching Arrested Development. I tried to throw out an apparently ancient random fact in a last ditch effort to look informed.

"You know Gob and Amy Polar are married in real life too," I said.

"Yeah, we know," everyone said in near unison.

Here's the problem; not everyone can be intelligent. Some have to be uninformed for others to be informed. Good cannot exist without evil, light without dark, etc. We need to limit what we pass on to the uninformed, for the sake of people like me, the marginally intelligent. People like me cling to the few pieces of knowledge that get clogged on their way out "the other ear" after we learn them. Sometimes, what's good for the goose is not good for the gander.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

the greatest game ever

I was riding on a heavily delayed flight from Baltimore to Kansas City yesterday, squeezed between two older folks, one one of whom smelled. I couldn't quite pinpoint the source of the smell, but since one of the older folks was a dapper woman, I guessed it was the frazzled old man. The old man was reading a book about a 1958 football game between the Baltimore Colts and the New York Giants. I leaned back in my chair and attempted to sleep, but being unable to doze off, I decided to open my left eye and skim what he was reading every once in a while. I think he noticed what I was doing, and let me know he didn't like it by turning towards me to look out the window whenever he thought I was doing it; so I had to keep my head completely forward. You know the drill. The book was entitled "The Greatest Game Ever", and towards the end of the flight we began to chat about it. Apparently, he was at the game (he was older than I thought) and he told me it wasn't actually that good of a game. Either way, I dispute the title. The greatest game ever is not a particular football, basketball, or soccer game; it's not even Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time for N64 (that's #2). It's sardines. A game of sardines in a big, dark house has never failed me, and it never will. It's guaranteed fun. Our game in Annapolis, Maryland, the night of July 4th was no exception.

If you don't know what sardines is, it's the opposite of hide and seek. Instead of everyone hiding and one person searching, only one person hides and everyone else searches. When the hider is found, the seeker hides with the hider, until eventually one seeker is left; ie, the loser. The loser is the next hider, get it? The game takes place in a house, preferably a large one, and all the lights need to be out, the darker the better. It gets even better when you meld it with 7 minutes in heaven, at least that's what I hear...

We were able to corral 7 players for our ID4 game, (Austin, Greg, Mark, Emily, Corie, Hanna, and I) which was just right. The game started at 1 a.m. and ended at around 3:30 a.m. It was, without a doubt, the creepiest game of sardines I have ever played. The house was, as Emily pointed out, the size of a 'manor' and was so dark I couldn't even see my own hand in front of my face. During the first game I attempted several times to convince the other players that we needed our cell phones, which were confiscated at the outset, to give us a chance of finding the hider, but really I was just scared and wanted a phone to call to my mommy. Austin was the first hider, and after a while he got tired of hiding and started banging on the walls of the deep closet he was hiding in. I immediately knew it was Austin, but knowing is only half the battle. The slow deliberate banging still managed to creep me out. And knowing that Austin would surely jump out and scare us (the wily bastard) didn't keep me from jumping when he screamed and leaped out at us. I wasn't the only one scared; the usually tough Greg, who has never officially been scared by a movie his whole life, was panting harder than a woman in labor after Austin jumped out at us.

Greg wasn't the only one to lose his innocence that night; I about peed my pants feeling around several dark closets (I later opted for just kicking around the closets with my foot so I wouldn't have to actually go in. it's probably better off I never found anyone in there; they would have received a swift kick in the gut), and Hanna was peer pressured into smoking her first cigarette. I didn't realize we had actually 'peer pressured' her into it until she said, "I can't believe I'm doing this" and started coughing after her first inhale. Corie, on the other hand, claimed she "didn't know how to inhale." She was probably just lying and wanted to not die of lung cancer. I know, lame, right? This wasn't the first time I had played sardines with Corie, but at least this time she didn't insult me. A couple years ago, we were playing in my old college house and Corie was hiding in a closet with someone else. I found them, but naturally, the savvy player that I am, I wanted to shake the company I was in; so, I left the closet and said something like, "garsh, where are they?" and led them astray. I then went back to the closet and quietly hid with Corie and the other hider. I was so sly, in fact, that Corie didn't even know I had joined them in the closet. I know this because she whispered to her co-hider, "Jon just looked in here, and didn't even see us. what an idiot!" This was followed by a few seconds of silence and me saying, "I'm right here, Corie." I'll let you decide who the real idiot was...

I also cheated. By the third game, I had lost the jitters and was boldly swiping my hands through dark closets and under beds, but I wanted to win; so, I cheated. Mark, my best friend, was the hider. I broke off from the group and whispered Marks' name in every room, knowing he'd cheat with me. Of course, Mark had beaten me to it, and was already cheating by rotating between two hiding spots. I should have known; Mark has always been a great cheater. I remember a particular game of capture the flag on a youth group retreat in 8th grade where Mark had somehow procured both teams' colors (each team wore sashes or bandannas with their team color on them) and was able to go into both bases and secretly steal both teams' flags. I remember him running up to me and saying, "Look what I have!"

Corie, Mark, and I were sitting on washers and dryers in the laundry room awaiting our turns to go search the dark manor one last time when I asked, "Why don't adults play sardines?"

"I don't know," Mark said.

"I mean, how old are we all here? 23? We're adults," I said.

"Are we?" Corie answered.

I've realized that most real adults don't really play sardines by the unimpressed looks on people's faces as I've recounted how much fun we had playing. Will I one day wake up and adjust my suit in front of the mirror in preparation for work, and think about how childish I once was? Or, will I get home from work some day, and take my suit off in preparation for a good game of sardines with friends? And why does every scenario have me wearing a suit?


Btdub, here's a commercial I was in a couple months ago:

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

expecto patronum

This might be old news to all you Hogwarts students and Leaky Cauldron regulars out there, but JK Rowling has written a Harry Potter prequel! Here's the catch: it's 800 words long, handwritten, fits on the front and back of a note card, and there's only one copy in existence. Rowling wrote the prequel for a charity auction, as well as several other authors (Neil Gaiman, for one). The rules for the authors were that the story had to be handwritten and could fit on a note card. Well, Rowling cheated a little and stretched hers out onto both sides of the card. But how could she not, if, as she says, "I did feel like a relapsing addict as I sat down to write - the words poured from my pen with frightening ease."

The story is said to feature James Potter and Sirius Black about three years before Harry is born, and it involves an altercation with a policeman, and, of course, there's magic involved. The story went for the equivalent of around $50,000. Rowling did make it clear that she is not writing a prequel... boo!

Listen to this BBC reporter read a snippet of the story.