57 YR Old Man In A Poodle Skirt

This was written (mostly) in 2005. American Idol was rated TV-G at the time and I objected to that.

The show posts a G rating, signifying it is a family show.  Shows with the TV-PG rating suggest parents should guide their children while watching to reassure them that the world won’t end when they see violence or hear profanity. It’s easy to give a PG rating to a show with violence.  Violence and profanity are easy to spot. The censors have lists of things that need to be rated accordingly or otherwise disallowed. Gun fire = TV-PG; Blood = TV-MA; Vagina = Sorry, Nice Try. AmIdol has a G rating because the censors have a hard time spotting the material that requires discretion. (And this isn’t much of a surprise. I mean, we’re talking about people who are paid to watch and assign ratings to TV shows. We’re probably talking about full-on rejects here. I read a book about the financial system, and I learned that the people who work at the ratings agencies- the agencies that determine whether a bond is good or bad- I learned that those people are imbeciles, that they couldn’t get jobs at real Wall Street Firms, where the real money is. I’m guessing that censors had difficulty landing real entertainment jobs.) <— all that being said, I work in a deli. I’m the deli guy at Goldman Sachs.

American Idol holds huge preliminary tryouts at large wide-open venues (normally stadiums) in the cities in which they film the first episodes to air. Producers choose the best and the worst at these preliminary tryouts. The best are serious contenders; the worst are to be sent before Simon Cowell where he will attempt to pop their delusion bubble. Funny thing is, he will pretend that the delusional contestant wasn’t picked for the sole purpose of a nationally televised reality-check. Even better, the check is going to be given by music industry insiders. The entertainment value here lies in the distance between Simon and friends and the delusional contestants. It’s like ten feet but it’s really like worlds apart and that ten feet is going to be as close as it gets for the delusional.  Simon will act as if this is the contestant’s first tryout. Simon will say “you suck” and feign disgust that this person wasted his and the show’s valuable time. Simon won’t acknowledge that this delusional, unpaid contestant was actually playing an integral role in the proven money-making AmIdol formula. Money making, merely money making? I’m leaving it to the reader to insert better words and phrases that capture AmIdol’s decade-long money printing machine into the comment section of this post.

I don’t have much of a problem with AmIdol’s exploitation of the delusional. It’s the reason I watch the show. It makes me feel better. I feel that I’m somewhat delusional and dreamy, and watching talentless contestants attempt to sing on a national stage makes me feel more emotionally stable. I laugh hard, and so does the rest of the family. It’s wrong, but there are greater injustices.

I don’t watch the show when they go to Hollywood and the real competition starts, because I’m not into singers that don’t even try to write songs. I don’t get the lack of effort, or lack of desire to really be heard. Can an artist really communicate anything when he or she is limited to singing songs written by others? They attach their voice to another song and by, oh, shit, going an octave higher than Rod Stewart, are they really saying anything? What is going on there? We don’t really hear a voice when we watch American Idol. We hear “I want to be famous.”

So as I watch the first part of the season, questions arise as I see contestants crying as they walk off the stage- sometimes escorted by security- exploitation time OVER. What kind of parents allows their son or daughter to become so delusional?  What sort of childhood produces this crazy behavior? Did that girl just say she hears voices?  Is this newly rejected contestant really going to walk directly to the street and beg for money as he says he is?  We question the contestant’s self-awareness: “That 57 yr old man in a poodle skirt doesn’t honestly think he stands a chance, does he? He’s  got to know that he sucks!” And I wonder, just as an eight-year old needs to be comforted after a scene of brutal violence; won’t he or she need guidance upon seeing a schizophrenic American Idol contestant?

American Idol doesn’t explore any of these questions; as soon as the laughs are through, it’s on to the next contestant. Oh, and this one is mind blowing…ly good! We go to commercial break with a quick peak of a beautiful 17 year old girl singing Killing me Softly and we see Paula just melt in her chair. We forget about the last girl, the one who was escorted off the stage while doing jumping jacks cuz she thought a display of athleticism was going to sway the judges. No actually, we don’t forget that. How can we forget that? It’s CRAZY.

I don’t have a problem with the show being on air, or the fact that it’s watched more than any other show. I do have a problem with the G rating. Because the show is f*******cked up. Every time I watch the beginning of an AmIdol season, I think to myself, “This is entertaining, but my kids aren’t going to watch this.” My kids are gonna watch Goodfellas before they watch AmIdol.

There’s a song by Blink 182 about a high school kid who gets invited over to a pretty girl’s house to hang out. It’s supposedly based on a true story. The boy thinks the girl might like him so he peddles his bike to her house as fast as he can. When he gets there, the girl and her friend await him with a garden hose in the front yard. They spray him with the hose.

I believe this isn’t much different from what American Idol does with its joke contestants.  The only difference is the girls in the song are more forgivable because of their youth. American Idol is grown up people making money by spraying others with insults and demonic laughter. Never questioning where the delusional singers came from or where they’re going. To me that’s rated R. Or at least rated “So Aaron Jr., we’re gonna have a little talk now.”

For us to live any other way was nuts. Uh, to us, those goody-good people who worked shitty jobs for bum paychecks and took the subway to work every day, and worried about their bills, were dead. I mean they were suckers. They had no balls. If we wanted something we just took it. If anyone complained twice they got hit so bad, believe me, they never complained again.

-Henry Hill, Goodfellas

My friend Made A Rockin’ Christmas song; I’m Going To Ramble

My grandma is in the hospital. I just talked to my Grandpa he and told me that Audrey Litchfield will hopefully be released today.

I’ve never seen my Grandma angry. I know that when my Dad was a kid, their house was THE house. It was the neighborhood house where all the kids hung around and felt at home.

When all her kids grew my Grandma worked at Macy’s to help save for retirement.

Before I go into New England, and say a thing or two about the water, I just want to apologize for my pedestrian sea-faring vocabulary. When I went back east the summer before sixth grade, my Grandparents drove me from their house in Rhode Island to Boston. We walked the freedom trail, which led to the USS Constitution. We stood at the dock in silence for a second until I said “Yup… that’s a nice boat.” My Grandpa began laughing immediately. The Constitution is not a boat, folks. It’s a ship.

That summer, I stayed at my grandparent’s house in Barrington, RI for two weeks. My cousin Allison, also ten at the time, came along. It was one of my favorite childhood vacations. Honestly, it was the childhood vacation. It was the vacation I fell in love with New England and told myself I was going to move there someday. My Grandparents were in their early sixties. Lately, I’ve grown to appreciate how lucky I was to grow up with such young parents, and relatively young Grandparents (all of mine are still alive. I’m 29.) On this vacation, my Grandpa Litchfield took me out on a rubber boat with a little outboard motor. We carried it to the shore of the Narragansett bay and spent the day on the water. We brought a cooler with soda and sandwiches that my Grandma made. I’m sure that on that day he told me that the two greatest days in the life of boat ownership are the day you buy it and the day you sell it. (In addition to the rubber thing, he owned a real boat) He probably told me that hard work pays off. He probably told me to keep a positive mental attitude. He probably told me as the clouds quickly drifted overhead that if I did’t like the weather in New England, I should just stick around a bit longer.

I love my Grandparents. I love my Grandma Audrey. I call the Grandparents on my mother’s side “Mom” and “Pop.” I call Mom and Pop’s daughters by their first names- Mari,  Megan, and Shanna. Growing up, I saw them more frequently than the opposite-coast aunts and uncles from my Dad’s side. During my New England visit, My Grandma was quick to inform me that my father’s siblings were my uncle Bobby, and my auntie Robin. My uncle Chris and my auntie Sarah.

On that vacation to Rhode Island, Allison and I were alone in the house for a brief time while Grandma and Grandpa were out. As we watched Grandma’s car pull up the driveway we decided it would be funny to scare her. Allison and I positioned ourselves behind furniture and shout-whispered commands to each other. Then one of us gravely suggested that maybe this wasn’t a good idea. Grandma was in fact our Grandma, and that meant she was old. What if we gave her a heart attack? We abruptly abandoned the plans.

As Grandma walked in, we heard her laughing at us. Heart attack. She’d heard us suggest that we might spark a cardiac arrest by startling her. The idea that her little grandchildren could give her a heart attack was absurd. She hadn’t been in the hospital in nearly thirty years- when her last child was born, and she wasn’t going to go back for almost another 20.

Merry Christmas, and get well Grandma.  Now here’s a band new Christmas song from my pal Jason Reyes.



Uh, Excuse Me–Is This the Love Lost and Found?

So I was waiting in the Boston Logan Airport today for my flight to Minnesota, and had the following conversation with the woman sitting next to me:

“I’m sorry, do you know if I should be boarding yet?” she asked.
“Uh, I don’t know, what boarding group are you in?” I asked, because, as much as I may tell men in bars, I am not actually a psychic.  We determined that she was not boarding yet, and that she was sorry for being so distracted.  I said I didn’t mind.  Lull.
“I’m going to see an old flame,” she confided.  This woman had to be at least 45 years old, though she could have been 55.  I really can’t tell women’s ages past 16 or so.  She wasn’t bad-looking, in any case; her eyes were quite expressive, which I always thinks makes people more attractive because at least I don’t need to guess how they’re feeling.  And the joy!
“I haven’t spoken to him in 20 years, and he looked me up–it’s so strange, we both got married, then he got divorced and I got divorced, and so he called me and we got around to finding out we’re both single, and here I am, flying across the country to see him!”
“Wow, that is awesome,” I said, thankful I didn’t need to make insincere small talk.  This woman was totally badass.
“I’ve never done anything this adventurous before,” she said, “I don’t even know what he looks like!”
“I’m sure you’ll recognize each other,” I said.
“Yes, yes, I’m sure we will.”  God, she couldn’t keep the smile off of her face.  Then her boarding group was called and she wished me happy holidays.

Surely, this was a freak occurrence–not just the fact that this man looked up this woman after so many years apart, but they both happened to be single, and she decided to fly across these here United States to spend a few days with him before Christmas.

“Well, you know that happened to your Aunt Lorinda and Uncle Dwayne,” my mom said.
“Ahem, gah-what?” was roughly my reply.
“Yeah, they were high school sweethearts.  Then Lorinda’s mom moved the family to Florida, and they didn’t see each other for years.  Then Lorinda moved back here, and married her first husband.  Well, that didn’t work out.  Then she married her second husband, and that didn’t really work out, either.  She was visiting her mom in Florida, and Dwayne had moved down there for a job.  I don’t know if they bumped into each other or what, but they reunited, and now they’re married.”

So, besides pointing out my obvious ignorance of family history (“Yes, Mom, I’m listening…uh huh, yeah, Grandma was the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic…uh huh…listen, I have to, uh, feed my cat…”), this just proves my theory that my family will always fulfill that 1/1,000,000 chance.  In any category, really, except the fun ones, like winning every lottery in the state on the same day, or getting struck by lightning 5 times.

But then I found this:

Dr. Kalish found that reunions with former boyfriends or girlfriends were common in all age groups. Two-thirds of the participants had reunited with their first loves from when they were 17 years old or younger. Their success rate for staying together was 78%. For the overall sample, the staying together rate was 72%.

Apparently, Dr. Nancy Kalish, a psychologist, did a survey of 1001 people from all over the world who had rekindled with lost loves.  And, for the most part, they ended up going really well.  One resounding response was that the sex was great, and many of the respondents reported feeling a deep, soulmate-like bond with their lost love.  [http://www.suite101.com/article.cfm/romance_retired/5030]

Well, I’ll be damned.  I wish nothing but the best for that cross-country divorcee with enough pluck to frighten a flock of seagulls.


Allow Me to Do Anything but Actually Introduce Myself

Right, so I’m the new contributor/ADMINISTRATOR, and you just know I’m going to bring a sense of legitimacy to this virtual pile of media vomit with a last name like “Loserman,” the same way a young folk singer knew everyone would respect him with the last name “Zimmerman,” but changed it to “Dylan” anyway, just to fuck with people (by whom I mean his parents, who probably felt distanced from their little Bobby.  Nothing sets parents stomping around the house in an impotent rage more than forsaking their name and saying you’ll never go back to your hometown again.  Psh, parents.).

So strap yourselves in, space cadets–this recent college grad has no prospects besides basic unemployment, a constant hangover and a chip on her well-formed shoulder.  That wasn’t an off-handed compliment to myself, it’s just science.


The famed folker, after he "grew up"

Boston Colleges

This is really about the most annoying colleges in Boston. In the summer of 2009, I had the idea of writing about Boston’s annoying colleges and I took some notes.  I never got around to writing it beyond that. I figured I’d have to talk to more people and ask questions and do research. Eventually, I forgot about the idea. That’s my creative process- Enthusiasm, frustration/doubt, bury.

Some of the notes from my notebook:

“Talkin about the most annoying colleges in Boston. As measured by their students.

1) Berkeleyeyeyey College of Guitar Backpacks And 15-yr-Old 18-yr-Olds.

2) Note here, Number Two was inspired by a conversation I overheard from a group of young Harvard lads [probably freshman/sophomore] in what seemed like a pretty typical beginning-of-semester conversation.  They were exuberantly talking about people, perhaps slightly more veteran Harvard crewman that were likely to row in the Olympics and make billions of dollars out of the gate that sits at the front there on Brattle street or JFK.  The name of a Senior Crewman was dropped by one of the Young Men of Harvard who went on to unveil that this Fully-Realized Man of Harvard they were speaking of was from Argentina or something. The other Young Man of Harvard exclaimed- “Chalk up another person I know from another country!”


Gravitas, Hometown Buffe-itas, Chalk-Up-Another-Person-I-Know-from-another-country-itas.

3) I have a few friends with Emerson ties, so the following was a struggle.

Emerson- Not #2 for Allie’s sake.”

I asked my friend Gabriel what he thought about the annoying college thing and he told me he felt that MIT was lame because of their “pretensious seclusion.” Allie agreed and added that their self-sustaining college was almost a “sovereign freaking nation, with folks smoking freely in the halls and such.”

Sort Of

Natalie Portman said “sort of” about three times in a one-minute span the other day.  I was listening as she talked about her new ballerina movie on NPR.  I thought perhaps she could use other words and phrases to describe her dancer film.

That’s what the dictionary says that Sort Of means somewhat or rather, though Natalie used in in a capacity that isn’t yet listed in the dictionary.

“Sort of” is now often used in casual conversation when someone is trying to describe something and maybe not confident in their ability to convey.

Example:  “Ballet sort of forces you to do things that your body sort of isn’t able to do?”

“Sort Of” statements like that begin sounding like one is in fact describing something, but then the person “sort of” loses confidence and throws in the towel with respect to describing anything. The “Sort Of” sentence basically ends sounding like a question- as if the describer is asking the asker if what’s being descibed is making any sense, whatsoever. Example:

“-that your body…sort of…isn’t able to do?”

Portman’s use of sort of stood out to me because I’d heard another Harvard grad who used sort of in casual conversation (Interesting note: I almost finished the sentence I’m in the middle of right now as follows: “…another Harvard grad who used “sort of” in casual conversation KIND OF often. Basically I’m a huge idiot) quite often.

So when I heard Natalie Portman say “sort of” 3 times in 1 minute, I thought of Becky Lou, the girl I met at a gay bar the first month I lived in Boston, who’d also graduated from Harvard- and get this, you’re not gonna believe this-Becky Lou had NAT PORTMAN for a lab partner. Where they perhaps developed a sort of constricted, elitist, I’m-real-smart-and-have-lots-of-positive-reinforcement-from-home-but-maybe-I’m-not-like-as-brilliant-as-I-think-I-am vernacular.

Which brings me to the sentence I thought of while cleaning the bathroom, (Yeah, I know it’s my week in the rotation, but um, ladies, maybe coulda cleaned up after you HAIR-CUT hmm? Conspicuous timing in the cleaning rotation for the HAIRCUT.) …So the sentence I thought of while squeezing the trigger of the tub cleasner along to the beat of TEMPTATION by New Order was this: “Hmmm, maybe shake up the vocab a little bit, HARRRR-VARRRRD?” The prior sentence made me step down off the fence and into the yard belonging to “Yeah, it’s worthy.”

Notes about this Post:

  1. In speech and writing I use empty words and idioms quite regularly. Examples: Maybe. Kind of. Quite. Very. Probably even “sort of” FAIRLY often.
  2. I recognize that Portman might have been nervous when she was talking to the NPR guy. And what’s with the high standard? She didn’t get a degree in English, so I could probably relax a bit with respect to this topic.
  3. I also recognize that Portman is hotter than sin and were I to encounter her in public I might say something like this:

“Hey, umm, Natalie Cole, I mean Portman geez ur hotter than sin Um hey I saw you in um The Professional which was like so cool wow ur like on the beautiful side of beautiful- I also saw you on that show- I think it was like a reality TV cooking sort of thing or was it like  a fashion model thing or wait, was it both?  Oh, no, it was Jessica Alba, oh yeah, they like made dresses for JessAlba and she wore the dress of the winning fashion contestant- oh and yeah, she looked so much hotter than Heidi Klum. I DON’T LIKE Heidi Klum she bugs me- anyway Jessica Alba was hotter than sin too geez OH YEAH DUH, you were on that cooking show, and you were (probably still are) vegan so they had to make you vegan food which was like challenging and whatnot – anyway um, I sort of… have a crush on you?- I hate my life I mean what’s the point?- Yeah so I love you let’s get married- but seriously what’s the point? I’m 29 and I slice meat for a living-

Reviews: Movies that I saw a long time ago and/or vaguely remember.

We Were Soldiers

After he enjoyed Lethal Weapon glory but before he suffered international admonition, Mel Gibson played a Vietnam Colonel. The movie begins with typical lightheartedness. A scene shows Greg Kinnear and other “wild animal” soldiers playing baseball with beer cans, I think.  I remember the point is to show that Greg, (best actor in this movie) is a free spirit. Perhaps he doesn’t belong in the army, doesn’t like rules and stuff.  I’m not positive that the players in this expository baseball game pitch and hit beer cans instead of baseballs, but the point is to show rowdiness, and fun. Lots of shirts off. Yelling and loud laughter.  A Credence song probably blaring, and Credence is good.

So still cheery, sunny, and safe at home in a USA army base, we watch as movers move books into Mel Gibson’s new house.  Two privates or otherwise low-ranking boyish soldiers note that the new Colonel must be smart cuz of the books. This shows that Mel isn’t your ordinary stupid army person I suppose.  I remember this movie sucking because Kerri Russell…you know what? that’s enough.  Chris Klein is in it.  He sucks. It sucks.

This Movie, I Only Caught The End

A LOOONG time ago, when I was maybe 14, I turned on the TV and caught the last five minutes of a movie that consisted of messages left on answering machines.  Shots would show the answering machines and the empty rooms they were housed in.  For instance, one setting would be of an answering machine on a nice wood desk in an office of a nice home.  The shot would show the desk and behind it, a sliding glass door with the curtain drawn, exposing beautiful Southern-Californian foliage. I can’t remember what was said in the messages but I remember them as bittersweet and nostalgic.  Perhaps a female’s voice mentioned characters and places I would have been familiar with had I watched the first two hours of the film.  Perhaps Cindy called and left a message that she was eating lunch at Highland Kitchen when she saw Luzy and Stevo.  And they looked so lovely!  Another answering machine might have been in a darker setting, like clearly a single and wealthy male-  A shadowy apartment with expensive but cold looking furniture.  A bit of sadness in the voicemail left on this machine.  Maybe it’s Dale, and it’s the third time he’s called.  Maybe he nervously laughs after he asks “We still friends Stevo?”  Maybe there’s an invitation for Stevo to go to lunch at Highland Kitchen.

If not cold, rich, and single Stevo’s apartment, most of the answering machine shots showed sunshine and greenery out the windows and sliding doors and whatnot.  It was very late-80’s/early-90’s and it was very LA.  Birds of Paradise and Ice Plant were definitely on display. Birds of Paradise existed before 1985 and after 1993, but I feel like they were very much in their prime in the late-80’s/early-90’s.  I think the Brat Pack should consist of Emilio Estavez, Rob Lowe, Everyone that was ever in a John Hughes movie, and a Bird of Paradise plant. This movie, the name of which I’m unaware of, is probably better than We Were Soldiers.