And then sometimes roommates are totally worth it

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Tight Five on Boyz II Men

So Boyz II Men has a new album coming out this November. Aren't the Boyz like 40 years old now? Hasn't the journey implicit in their name pretty much taken place at this point? They're now "Just Men."

Double Features

The Double Feature: you buy a ticket for one movie, and then time it so you leave one movie right as another is beginning, so you end up seeing two for the price of one. As far as schemes go, it's about as dastardly as eating a few grapes at the supermarket for free, but hey! It's how I've been spending my weekends lately. Here were the last three I did with the roomies:

The Bourne Ultimatum + Sunshine

One thing to consider, when doing a Double Feature, is the order in which to see the movies. I generally find that if there's one movie you're really amped to see and one you're just kinda meh about, go see the one you're excited about. By the end of a double feature, it's not uncommon to have a kinda Styrofoam-feeling in your head, the sense of watching huge images dance around for a bit too long. Bourne was a whole bunch of fuck yeah, really just a perfect summer movie -- fast and quick and just complicated enough to convince me I was seeing something somewhat weighty, when in reality I was just watching a standard action thriller. Sunshine was great for the first third or so, especially in really instilling a sense of fear and danger about the sun, but quickly devolved into retardation, where I spent a while wondering, "What the fuck is going on? Is Freddy Kreuger the sun?"

Spiderman 3 + Transformers

Another thing to consider when doing the Double Feature is that there needs be a nice sense of balance in the two movies, one complimenting the other. This pairing failed; it was like eating a Whopper followed by a Big Mac. Different, yes, but essentially the same thing. Spiderman 3 was all right, and the action sequences were at least good for letting my brain go slack and watching Spidey punch people in the head, but Transformers was just a big ball of disappointment. I let the trailers fool me into thinking it would awesome, and while there were a few moments of "oh my fuck" thrown in, for the most part Michael Bay's hypershaky camera style just meant I couldn't tell what the hell was going on in fight sequences. And yeah, Shia LeBeouf is gonna be a massive movie star, but forty minutes of him bumbling his way around a girl is not what I wanted to see in Transformers.

Hostel 2 + Ocean's 13

YES. This is what I'm talking about when I say a Double Feature. It's like two things that shouldn't work together, say, peanut butter and onions, but if you give them a shot you realize they were almost meant for each other. To go from the hypergore of Hostel 2 in which a guy literally gets his junk scissored off to the easy breezy boy's club of Ocean's 13 is like rolling in the snow and then jumping into a hot tub. It's such a whipsaw cinematic experience, we left the theater with a kind of giddy weirdness, and my dreams were of Eastern European bank heists and Ellen Barkin bathing in Matt Damon's blood. The Double Feature by which all other Double Feature's will be measured by.

Back of the bus

I always go for it, no matter how many times I've been burned, the last row at the back of the bus, the bench row. The thinking is this: it's a row of five seats all the way at the back. Say it's empty, so you grab a window seat. The next person to sit in the back is gonna for the other window. The third person in is gonna pick the middle seat, the only seat available where you aren't sitting next to someone. From that point on, if everything goes according to plan, we're all happy. The bus will fill up, people will stand, because squeezing in to one of the two remaining seats is awkward and weird and means that you automatically have two people with their legs and elbows and no doubt odd smell on either side of you. When it works, it's the best deal going down.

But like a lot of my irrational behavior (a piece of bronze I found is a lucky charm; I'm alone in the elevator and I'll remain totally alone and it's therefore completely kosher to fart) it doesn't work so well in practice (the lucky piece of bronze has been present at several tragedies; the elevator door slides open one floor down and I have to scurry off and take the stairs the rest of the way down to avoid epic embarrassment). Because the bar is raised for who will and won't take those weird fourth and fifth bench seats, eliminating many of the more normal and reserved people on the bus, those that DO take the seat are much more likely to be exactly what I'm seeking to avoid when I cram myself into the corner. The mumbling man, the twitch-itch woman, the sweet yeasty alcoholic with a Gatorade bottle full of of electolyte-infused vodka. The loud-talking post-frat professional on the cell phone, the elbow-flaring newspaper reader, the hyphy girl with hella drama.

So what gets me home, lately, has been WNYC's RadioLab. It's essentially This American Life but more, like, science-y. It's not without its flaws: Hosts Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich sometimes fall into Car Talk kitsch, and the show's stereo pans and dialogue overdubs can be flashy in a way that, at least on headphones, can be annoying. But it more than makes up for it when some honestly amazing little stories that manage the split the difference between gee-whiz science and human drama. For me, the moment when I really fell in love with the show was their final segment on the Zoo episode. It's the story of Alan Rabinowitz, a guy who established the first jaguar reserve on the planet, and while his story is pretty amazing and should be a movie, the part that knocked me sideways was the the beginning. Rabinowitz had a terrible stutter for the first twenty years of his life, a stutter that kept him from establishing any real human connections. Except: He could take his pets and go into a closet and there, for the only time in his boyhood, he could speak easily, fluently, breathing words at the small life in his hands, there in the dark. How this gift of language in presence of animals plays out over the next thirty years of his life is some sort of real-life Dr. Doolittle story. It's just great stuff, even if your seat mate is carefully, carefully tearing up a sheet of newspaper into a long parallel strips and eying you with suspicion.

Earthquakes and Skyscrapers

There was an earthquake this morning, around five. I woke up as it rattled everything in the house. It felt good, like the Magic Fingers thing I vaguely remember in skeezy hotel rooms as a kid. Earthquakes, so far, have just been kinda fun thing. There was a 4 point something earthquake one day when I was working at Wired, it was the perfect little way to shake up (sorry, I suck) the routine, like how a fire alarm was in junior high.

So I'm interning right now at a magazine that is, almost assuredly, going under. They're putting out their September issue and shutting down at least the print side, is what I've been hearing. It's too bad -- it seemed like the place where I could've written some longer stuff and also just built up my journo chops a bit more. In the meantime, I'm doing some fact checking for the next couple of weeks and then, I dunno. I feel the worst for the people that have actually worked here a long time -- the ed-in-chief was choked up at the Wednesday morning rundown meeting. It's a bump in the road for me, but the end of an era for others.

I will say that I am absolutely going to miss my view. The offices are in the 29th floor of a building downtown in the Financial District, and while the intern bullpen doesn't have the best view of the bay, I can still sit here in the quiet and watch clouds drape shadows over buildings and seagulls wobbling on the wind currents in between buildings. I've never worked in a skyscraper before, and I can see the appeal. Not so much in the Gordan Gecko-esque sense of like surveying my kingdom, but in the strange, dreamlike sense of being suspended above everything, and how everything looks beautiful from a distance.

I think that's a Bette Midler song. Jesus. Weekend, here I come.

Interim

So I was interning here here, and now I'm gonna be interning here, but in the meantime I've been working for these cats here.

It's data entry, what I'm doing. Scraping info from websites and sticking it into spreadsheets. What I've been doing is drinking one of those energy drinks that look like tallboys and just slamming through it. You get enough taurine in your system, and anything is fun. So far I've tried:

Red Bull (3 hours of high, thoughts of moving to Ireland)

Nos (2 hours of high, thoughts of hurting myself and also convinced my apartment may be haunted)

Vitamin Water Energy Drink (4 hours of high, thoughts of turning into a being of pure spreadsheet, like an angel only with definable fields)

Rock Star (1.5 hours of high, thoughts of past relationships and how I've failed -- not very Rock Star at all)

Coolah (2 hours of high, thoughts of a wicked awesome World of Warcraft-type game, except it's World War Z and you just hunt down zombies all day)

Hyphy Juice (no high, thoughts of reading more websites about Top Chef)

Transformers: The Novel

Here, as promised, is a review of the novelization of the upcoming film Transformers, written by Alan Dean Foster:

It's pretty shitty.

You don't really want details. I was thinking of doing this sorta tongue-in-cheek type review of it, where I open up with a quote from Flaubert or Faulkner and quote from the book and, you know, take it seriously as a way of poking fun. But yeah, it's just substandard fantasy/sci-fi writing draped over an action movie screenplay. The prose itself is overwrought and strains to be clever, the action sequences are confusing and poorly described, and the characters are barely there. It's a Michael Bay plot without any explosions -- an amusement park ride that turns out to just be a description of what would happen if you chose to take the ride. The fact that I spent a grand total of seven bus rides out of my life reading this makes make me sad like when Optimus Prime died.

For tomorrow: Man Vs. Wild vs. Survivorman: two survival shows enter, one survival show leaves.

Hello

I've done this before, kept a blog. This time it will be a different creature, though, because I'm going to be serious about it. The last blog, it was more a big sandbox that I played in, and while it was fun, sometimes the cat shit in that sandbox. This time, the blog is going to be a quiet room with leather furniture and heavy-bound books and thick, rich sunlight dazzling through slowly falling motes of dust. It will represent an important step for me, both as a person and as a writer, as a chance for me to step away from the ephemera and trendy dispassion of my youth, and move towards a future in which I am fully engaged, fully awake, and fully alive to the possibilities of my words and my world.

Coming up for Monday: a review of the novelization of the upcoming film Transformers by Alan Dean Foster.