Tuesday, June 30, 2009

If I only had a brain


I seriously WANT this shirt.

Six things: Madonna Live

I never in a million years thought that I would ever see Madonna live once, let alone the four times that I have actually seen her live. I always figured that my shot at seeing Madonna would be when she was reduced to playing the Iowa State Fair Grandstand. Really, I've been very lucky to have seen as many great live performances in person and not just on DVD. This got me to thinking about the best of best, and I thought, what the hell. As usual, in no particular order.

Six Best Madonna Live Performances (that I've actually seen live)

1) "Music Inferno" (Confessions Tour, 2006)
Brilliantly mashing up "Music" with The Trammps "Disco Inferno", I will never forget the massive shot of adrenaline that those opening notes gave the show, after nearly screeching to a halt under "Paradise (Not For Me)". It's nearly a full 3 minutes before Madonna comes on, but this arrangement is just fantastic. Extra credit to the "All right boys and girls, it's time to get your dance shoes on! You're listening to KUNT - it's all Madonna, all the time" spoken intro.



2) "Nobody Knows Me" (Re-Invention Tour, 2004)
The greatness of this performance was THE big surprise of the Re-Invention Tour. I had always been kind of "meh" on the song until I saw it performed live. Actually, using the word "live" is a bit of a stretch because she is at least being heavily supported with a backing track, if not out-and-out lip syncing. The choreography for this was simple and understated but fit the song perfectly. I think it's something about Madonna in boots that gets me. (see "Like It Or Not" on this list)



3) "Candy Shop" (Sticky & Sweet Tour, 2008)
Admittedly, this song is not one of Madonna's high points. But it works so well as an opener for the tour, (shown below complete with the "Welcome to the Candy Shop" opener) that I had to put it on the list. I love the look Madonna has on her face when she comes around on the revolving platform, kind of "Yeah, I'm here. What of it?" Still not my favorite tour opening (that would be this one) but, like the song, I love it in spite of myself.



4) "Frozen" (Drowned World Tour, 2001)
Since Drowned World Tour was my first Madonna tour, I was under a self-imposed media blackout re: everything about the tour. I was mostly successful - I only knew a few songs from the set list prior to going. I had two songs I really wanted to see live - "Frozen" and "Secret" and by God, both were performed. I love how bigger than life this performance of "Frozen" is, the long sleeves, the "ho-ha!" martial arts moves, and she is in fine vocal form.



5) "Like it or Not" (Confessions Tour, 2006)
I have always loved this song, although Jeff feels like it is tacked onto Confessions, and was glad that she performed it live. I love everything about this performance - the outfit, the choreography and especially the chair. For me, it's the chair that cinches the performance. There is something about Madonna performing with a chair (see "Open Your Heart", Girlie Show's "Bye Bye Baby") that is VERY appealing. My favorite part? Dragging the chair down the catwalk to the "no, no you know."



6) "Holiday" (Drowned World Tour, 2001)
After an hour and a half of album tracks and latter day hits (save "La Isla Bonita" naturally), the lights came up for the last segment of the show and the familiar opening notes to "Holiday" played and the crowd went WILD. I will never forget how the crowd just came to life for that song. And to think she almost didn't sing it on that tour! It is arguably my favorite live version of "Holiday" (Blond Ambition's version is a very close second).



Surely I have left some off, but those are the ones that really stick out in my memory.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Seems that the world's got a role for me

I wasn't going to post anything on the death of Michael Jackson. I didn't really feel like I had anything to contribute to what has already been said and it has been years since I really actively cared about his music.

But then last night, while trying to fall asleep, I listened to "Will You Be There". Yes, the song from Free Willy. Shut up - don't judge.



This is one of those lesser known Michael Jackson songs, although it was probably the 75th single from Dangerous, each charting lower than the previous one, but this one managed to hit the top 10 and stop the bleeding. It was popular in the late summer/early fall of 1993, which is kind of amazing as the Dangerous album came out in the spring of 1991. I was back in college, living in an apartment/townhouse with two fellow classmates and really looking for my own footing. I remember those days well - as if they were yesterday. There were so many songs from that time period that bring up those emotions and feelings, and "Will You Be There" is but one patch of that quilt.

I can't even really articulate it well - perhaps it's best left unarticulated, but ever since that time, I have had a very soft spot of "Will You Be There". I remember thinking it odd that Michael Jackson was having a radio hit again. Even then, the backlash had begun, and this was still pre-child abuse allegations, although those were about to come to light.

Much is made of the symbolism of Dangerous being knocked out of the number one slot by Nirvana's Nevermind. I think there is some validity to this, but in the final analysis, Dangerous is just so immensely inferior to Thriller and Bad, that it's not surprising the singles did not do as well. But we'll always have "Will You Be There".

One last thought on Michael Jackson's death - well, actually two. Boing Boing linked to an article this morning that very aptly described Michael Jackson's life as one in which his childhood and his old age were missed. Arguably, those are the two times in your life where you are truly able to be free. Secondly, from this blog comes this very telling quote, one that even as a Madonna fan, I see the truth in (emphasis mine).
His death does make me think about the superstars I grew up worshipping in the 80s, and looking back at many of them is just depressing now. Michael Jackson is the most obvious tragedy, but don't forget the downfalls and tribulations of artists like Prince, Axl Rose, Whitney Houston, George Michael, and Michael Hutchence. That decade ate its young. When Madonna is the most sane and rational of the bunch that's fucked up.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Being alive's her only crime

This is one of my all time favorite Olivia Newton-John songs, one that is sadly been mostly forgotten.



"Livin' In Desperate Times" is such a product of its time it's not even funny. Those cheesy 80s synths, her incredibly large hair, and odds are good that there are some shoulder pads underneath that blue coat. But oddly enough, I think it plays very well now, probably due to the fact that it was not overplayed like "Physical" (which I can only really listen to in its - as Olivia refers to it now - "age appropriate version.") and some of her other more popular songs. I have particularly been enjoying the extended remix (which I have as a vinyl rip) because the version from the CD release of the soundtrack of Two of a Kind is heinously edited.

While the song is great, the movie it comes from is pretty horrible. Two of a Kind was the hotly anticipated on-screen reunion with John Travolta, but the storyline involving an angry God bent on destroying the world unless angels portrayed by Scatman Crothers, Beatrice Straight and Charles Durning can find two honest souls is just God-awful. The dialogue is horrible and while they do their best with what they have, this is not a high point for either Travolta or Olivia. But do you think that stopped me? Heck no. I saw it at least twice in the theater and countless times on HBO.

This song was kind of the beginning of the end for Olivia. Her hitmaking days were at this point rapidly coming to a close. She'd squeak a top 20 hit out of "Soul Kiss" but nothing since then. And it hasn't been for lack of trying. In 1992, she released a retrospective with 4 new songs, fully intending to tour and make a comeback, only to be sidelined by breast cancer. "I Need Love" (to make the sex right) was one of those songs.



Fortunately, Olivia survived her brush with cancer and has toured extensively in recent years. She's a great live act and one I would see again in a heartbeat!

("Twist of Fate" was the bigger hit from this project for Olivia. Whenever I play it, Heidi gets it stuck in her head.)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Lessons

Every time I go on vacation or take any kind of extended time off work, I always have to undergo a certain amount of re-entry trauma. The transition from vacation-brain to real life-brain is sometimes not the easiest in the world, but you know, you can't stay on vacation forever. And really, who would want to? The reason that it's called a vacation (literally, from the Latin "vacare" which means "to be empty, void or free") is because it's not real life. While being on vacation was fun and not having to go into work was nice as well, there is something reassuring about routine and schedules and responsibilities. I think that even if I were independently wealthy, I'd find some way to work that into my life.

This time around has been the easiest re-entry I've ever done. I think part of the reason for that was because the vacation was SO different from what I do on a day-to-day basis. Coming back to the familiar and comfortable just felt right, even though all the problems and issues and what not that were present in my life when I left on vacation had not magically resolved. To expect that would be the height of naivete.

What this vacation did for me, in hindsight, was to help ramp me down from what was really an unsustainable level of overfunctioning and anxiety. When you get right down to it, I just needed to be rebooted, and I think the trip did just that. It was exhausting at times, and right around the time we left L.A., I was suffering from some serious vacation fatigue (give me my own bed damn it!) but surprisingly, upon arriving home - even after driving 14+ hours the last day - I did not feel like I needed a vacation from my vacation.

I did learn a few other things as well.

1) You can drive over 4000 miles around the country and NOT meet an untimely demise.
2) Space Mountain at Disneyland is worth a 2 hour wait in line.
3) L.A. is SO not the Midwest. I enjoyed it, but I am really and truly an Iowa boy.
4) Hollywood was more congested than Manhattan the night we were there (both from a traffic and pedestrian standpoint).
5) There is no such thing as cruise control when driving in the mountains.
6) I-70 between Glenwood Springs and Denver is a modern engineering marvel.

I worked yesterday but had today off (the one day stretch did me in) and while today was not as productive as I would have liked, I'll take what I can get.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

And starring...as Alexis

Watch this all the way through to the end. It is so worth it, I promise.



OK, it's probably funny only to those that watched "Dynasty" and can separate the less obvious fakes from the people that were actually on the show. I have gone on record as saying that "Dynasty" has aged rather poorly and that it's hard to watch now. But back in its hey-day, nothing could keep me from it. Every Wednesday at 8pm when I was in junior high and early high school, there I was, watching "Dynasty." I also read Joan Collins' autobiography Past Imperfect in the 9th grade. Sad, but true.

I think the reason those types of shows play so poorly for me now is that I have a much lower tolerance for melodrama than I used to. I truly discovered this when I lost my taste for daytime soaps. I religiously watched "The Young & The Restless" from 1988 through about 1994 until such time that I realized the ridiculousness of it and gave up. It was like suddenly that Carly Simon lyric "now melodrama never makes me weep anymore" made perfect sense. That did not stop me from watching equally soapy shows like "Melrose Place" but even that tried my patience frequently.

Truthfully though, I can still watch "Dynasty" but its best watched with Jeff because his running commentary through the episodes has me doubled over in laughter 90% of the time. Perhaps we aren't meant to weep at the melodrama, but rather to laugh at it. Is your show a success or a failure when something that was supposed to be dramatic ends up funny? I suppose it depends on your perspective. I was listening to a podcast tonight about favorite comedies, and I think that I would have a hard time coming up with a list like of conventional comedies, because a lot of the things I find funny are unintentionally so and steeped in bathos or are such an integral part of my history that I find them funnier than they probably actually are.

Which is probably why I found the above alternate credits freaking hilarious.

Name game

I stumbled across this quite randomly this morning. It is basically, as the site name states, a baby namer, but the fun wrinkle that sets it apart from the run-of-the-mill baby name site is the "drawbacks" section. Basically, it looks at the name and lists all the annoying nickname variants that can be derived from it. I was unable to resist it, so I put in "Daniel" and here's what I got for drawbacks.
  • Kneel
  • Dandruff
  • Fanny Danny
  • Danube
  • Dan, Dan the Garbage Man
  • Dano
  • Daniel San (from The Karate Kid)
  • Dancy
  • Dan the Man
  • Lieutenant Dan (from "Forrest Gump")
  • Dan L
  • Danimal
  • Ding Dong Dan
  • Danny boy
  • Daniel, Daniel, Cocker Spaniel
  • Daniel Boone
  • Daniel Paniel
  • Danielle
OK, first off, I completely don't understand the first one. I suppose it's a riff on the "niel" section of the name, but still it's a stretch and certainly not worthy of the first drawback to the name! Reading through this list, I have actually been called many of these names, although most have not been used to refer to me since high school. The music director at my high school frequently referred to me as "Dan L" (pronounced "dan-el"). A kid in elementary school called me the cocker spaniel one (only with kind of an R-rated bend - I was a spaniel with a very large something). "Book 'em, Dano" has been used more than I would like to admit when people talk to me, even now. "Dan The Man" and "Daniel-san" are in use by many people to this day when referring to me.

This list did leave off what I consider to be the worst permutation of my name. My driver's ed teacher in high school took to referring to me as "Dandy." *shudder*

That's the thing with nicknames - they are frequently assigned without consulting with the person getting the nickname. Believe me, there was no part of my 15-year-old self that wanted to be referred to as Dandy. Even "Danny" has been a bit of a persona non grata in my life. A history teacher in high school has been one of the few people that called me that and got away with it. For some reason, it was okay coming from him. A person at work calls me Danny every now and then, and it is just so jarring, I can't bear to correct her. Fortunately, I don't have much contact with her so it doesn't happen all that often.

As a kid, I was militant about being called Daniel. But as I meandered through my adolescence, I became Dan (much to my mother's chagrin) and it just has kind of stuck.

The funny thing about all those drawbacks is that my last name really does have the perfect drawback. If I had a nickel for every time someone has said "Hey Culligan Man!" I could retire more than comfortably. What's even funnier is that every time someone says that, they act like they're the first person to ever come up with that. Yep, never heard that one before!

(via)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Four states in one day

Unfortunately, though, it was not lying in the depths of your imagination. We trekked nearly 600 miles across Nevada, Arizona, Utah and Colorado today after spending the night at the Stratosphere in Las Vegas (for 35 bucks!!) on Tuesday night, finally arriving at our destination of Glenwood Springs, CO at around 10pm tonight. Here's the route we took.

As Mary would say, I simply couldn't stop thinking about my ass for the last 100 miles of the trip. Google Maps says 8 hours and some-odd minutes, but it was closer to 10 hours after you factor in our bazillion bathroom breaks and some significant time lost in the mountains of central Utah. It was up and down the mountains in the rain - just what I was wanting to do today! Mountain driving is challenging as it is, and when you throw rain into the mix, it is even more difficult. The only way it could have been worse was if the road had been under construction as well.

I am very glad to be stationary for a couple days. The only thing on the agenda for tomorrow is a trail ride about an hour from here. We might, if we are crazy enough, try to push on to home on Friday. Google Maps says 12 hours from here to home, so we may have a date with a hotel in Grand Island, NE.

And if there is any one thing I have learned about myself on this trip, it is that I am more of a wuss than I thought. I got all the way up to the top of the Stratosphere in Las Vegas and could not go through with riding the Big Shot. Propelled at 45 mph to a height of 1149 feet above the Strip? Fuck that shit. Seriously, I don't need that kind of stress in my life!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

They wanna make it in the neighborhood

No trip to L.A. is complete without heading up to Hollywood - and that's exactly what we did last night. Say what you will, but I am kind of a sucker for the touristy stuff.

We saw the Hollywood sign (from quite a distance, I might add) and walked up and down Hollywood Boulevard on the famous Walk of Fame. We also hit Grauman's Chinese Theater and some of the souvenir shops up and down Hollywood Boulevard.

Somehow or another, we hit evidence of many MANY gay icons on the way. It was as if we were drawn to them. Photographic evidence below:

Joan Crawford - outside Grauman's Chinese Theater. "May this cement our friendship!"

Going down the stoney end, I never wanted to go!

With the star of my first celebrity crush!

Oddly, the only Golden Girl with a star.
Judy Garland's cement block at Grauman's Chinese Theater.

We also managed to find Joan Crawford's star - it took us quite a while to find it (with the help of a star map which cost 6 bucks!) but it was totally worth it for this photo which Anna took.


Album cover

We hit Manhattan Beach today, and I snapped this picture.

When I got to looking at it the end of the day today, I realized that it was actually quite similar to this album cover (albeit from a much greater distance).

So even if life does not always imitate art, you can be certain that it can sometimes imitate a great early Streisand album.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Pacifically speaking

It only took 37 years, but I've finally been to both U.S. coastlines.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

By the time I get to Phoenix

Much in the style of XO's mixtape posts, here's a bunch of random catch-up bits and pieces.

Heidi did a great wrap-up-so-far of the trip here. Much like Madonna, you know they try to imitate her, but they just can't duplicate her, so I'll just link to it. She has also uploaded all of the photos we have taken so far (minus the bad ones) to Picasa. Those pictures can be found here.

We have been in Chandler, AZ for the last couple days. We arrived Tuesday night and have spent two days mostly recharging and relaxing at the home of my brother and his wife. It's been a much-needed rest after 4 days of being on the road. Don't misinterpret that, however. For all the nervousness I had in the run-up to the trip that it would exhaust me and that I would need a vacation from vacation, the driving hasn't been so bad. I also added up my gas receipts, and counting the gas I bought today in anticipation of the drive to L.A. tomorrow, I have only spent 190 dollars! To put it in perspective, that is not even one airfare to and from Phoenix.

This afternoon, my brother Ryan put Heidi's crown on her implant. This has been two years in the making, with the implant being placed in October of 2007, the impression of her mouth to prep the crown done at my parents' house at Christmas last year, and now, the process is complete. I have the best brother ever because he refuses to take any of my money for this. Seriously, him doing this saved me probably a 800 bucks. As I said - best. brother. ever. He has a brand new practice that he just opened this year - check out his website here.

I finished The Mysteries of Pittsburgh last night. After finishing it, I read about the movie and can totally see why it was panned. I don't ever need to see it. Leaving out main characters is just never a good idea! Apparently, the screenwriter and director also de-gayed it significantly, which significantly alters the original story.

Consequently, I am on to Aliens: Nightmare Asylum. Total trash. I'm also 2/3rds of the way through it and I started today.

I drove my sister-in-law's Mazda Miata convertible the other day. I had never driven a convertible before and everything you assume about how fun it is to drive them is true. You just try not to think about the certain death that would befall you were there an accident.

Casey Stratton has an amazing new project out that has started to serve as the soundtrack for this trip. With Altered States: Remixes Vol. 1, Casey took some of his best known songs and remixed them himself. Mostly, these are trancy -club remixes, but a few are not, especially the ballads which seem to be "rearranged." In any event, the result is fantastic. I am hoping that the Vol. 1 moniker means that there are more to come. In an ideal world, what I would really like to see is him apply this arrangement to a whole album of new songs, aimed squarely at the dance floor. But I never tell a man how to run his business (and I can't for the life of me remember what movie that is from!). Anyway, pick it up because it is excellent, excellent, excellent. Now if only he'd do a bit more touring, then life would truly be good.

We are missing Capital City Pride next weekend. It is sad because it has the potential to be the best Pride ever because of the marriage equality decision rendered by the Iowa Supreme Court in April. While we will not be there in body, we will be there very much in spirit.

Finally, I am a bit nervous about L.A. traffic tomorrow. A guy I was talking to at my brother's office who had me seriously freaked out about rush hour traffic. The plan is to leave as close to 8AM tomorrow so that we can avoid the worst of it. We have to drive through 4-5 hours worth of desert, so I picked up an extra thing of coolant, which guarantees we won't need it. Minor aside: my Mazda 626 has performed beyond my wildest expectations on this trip.

Till next update. Next stop - California.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Mountain passes

Today we navigated our way down from Denver to Cortez, CO by way of US Highway 285. It was not the way I was planning on going, but I will say that it was a beautiful drive. It took us from the an elevation of around 5000 feet to all the way up to some 10,000 feet at the Kenosha Pass. Let me tell you, you can feel every little bit of that 5000 foot rise in elevation. The roads are winding, the up and down is incredible and there is no such thing as cruise control while you're driving this route.

We also managed to find ourselves on the Wolf Creek Pass in southwest Colorado. This route has absolutely nothing on Kenosha. It is beautiful country, but some of the curves through the mountain are no-shit 25 mph and they mean business. There were several corkscrew turns and at least two complete U-turns. Heidi about had heart failure. It's a good thing she wasn't driving.

But apparently, the mother of all mountain passes in Colorado is the Red Mountain Pass. Looking at this picture, holy crap, I don't think I'll be attempting it EVER. At least Wolf Creek Pass was 4 lanes!

Some of our own pictures (not of Wolf Creek) coming in the next few days.

Friday, June 05, 2009

We're ready

Or as ready as we're going to get. And, as usual, we have Heidi to thank. Thanks to her inner Virgo, she has organized us over the last couple of days better than I could have over a couple hundred years. But she is a Virgo, after all, and Virgos are at their sexiest when they are organizing.

I'm kind of past my apprehensiveness of last night's post and am ready to just do it. Last night, as I was trying to sleep, all I could think of was how it was just our luck for gas to jump by about a dollar a gallon in the run-up to our trip. This epitomizes my mindset of late and the stupid things I have chosen to be anxious about. Yes, the timing of that sucks, but really, what the hell are you going to do about it? So why waste precious energy fretting about it?

In the meantime, I've packed 4 books to read while on the trip. I harbor no illusions that I will finish them off, but I figure too many is better than not enough. Here they are - they're a bit eclectic but I guess that kind of stands to reason:



























A well-regarded debut novel, a trashy sci-fi pulp, a zombie book and a gay book. I nearly chose Larry Kramer's Faggots over the latter, but I am kind of sucker of Andrew Holleran, even though he can be insanely depressing.

So there we go. 6249 songs on the now unsynced iPod. And now, I must sleep. Tomorrow starts sooner than we'd like to think.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Westward ho

It's hard to believe that in about 32 hours, we will be leaving Iowa's comfortable confines and headed to Arizona and California (via Nebraska, Colorado and Utah) for two weeks. It seems like we aren't even close to ready, even though I know we are doing better than either of us are willing to admit. What I will admit to is a bit of apprehensiveness, but as someone pointed out to me today, driving vacations can be so much fun, because it is the thrill of the open road. This, not surprisingly, made me think of the Gary Barlow song of the same name.

But she is right. I haven't driven this far EVER, and haven't been on this kind of driving vacation since the early 90s. Our ultimate destinations are Phoenix (where my brother will finish Heidi's implant) and L.A. (where my sister is now living, after spending the last several years in the frozen Arctic of Northwest Territories, Canada.) Along the way, we're planning to hit a couple tourist stops, not the least of which is the Grand Canyon which I have not seen since 1986. I doubt it has changed much save the skywalk that has been built, but there is no way I'm paying 70 bucks a person to walk on that thing.

I am nervous about driving in L.A. but I have driven in Chicago so I figure it's not like I'm completely incompetent. I have never been to California before, so I'm looking forward to it. I feel like it's a crime to get all the way out there and not see the big trees but you just can't do everything. Anna is going to get to go to Disneyland, which is much less expensive than I was anticipating and I am looking forward to spending a large amount of time on the beach.

There may be some blogger meet-ups while I am out west - the logistics of which remain to be worked out so we'll see. I will be blogging from the road as well as uploading stuff to Facebook. I'm not sure how many updates there will be. It'll kind of depend on how worn out from driving we are and how much is worth reporting. I promise nothing but to endeavor to do my best.

Vacations of this sort kind of stress me out a bit, but the stress is completely self-manufactured. I am nervous that I will come back more tired than before I left. I still worry a bit about money, but that has been worked out as best it can. The thing I'm going to try to do is not get attached to outcomes. Rather, each day will be a new adventure and whatever happens will be part of that adventure.

So it will be fun and regardless of what happens, it will be memorable.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Gently remove your tampon

I met up with my friend Matt last night to go to see I Love You, Man at the dollar theater. It had been quite a while since we had been to see a cheap movie there - I think the last one was Indiana Jones & the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. I Love You, Man was kind of one of those movies that I really wanted to go see, but just couldn't justify paying 8 bucks for when it was playing in the first-run theater.

Many of my friends saw this movie, and it was universally declared that this movie would be right up my alley. Jeff went so far as to say, "Dan, you need to see this movie. It is a movie that was made for guys like us." He was, along with the rest of the people that recommended the movie to me, correct. For those that don't know, the movie's basic plot is probably appropriate for a Tweet, because I'm not sure it would take 140 characters to do it. Paul Rudd is about to get married, finds he has no male friends from which to choose a best man. He tries to find friends, meets Jason Segel, and the unlikely duo become fast friends. Typical romantic comedy insanity ensues.

This movie is very much in the vein of Rudd's previous comedy, Role Models - complete with bawdy jokes, funny physical gags and the kind of irreverent humor that straddles the line between funny and offensive. Unlike in Role Models which I found balanced that line less adeptly, I found pretty much all the humor in I Love You, Man to fall on the funny side. I also found it odd that for basically being a "buddy movie", the relationship between Rudd and Segel hit all the typical romantic comedy plot points like clockwork. This is not a bad thing - it has been years since Hollywood cranked out a really good romantic comedy. What was interesting was how this formula was applied to the platonic relationship between the two male leads. The semi-awkward dance of the first "dates", the giddiness of the new relationship, the faux breakup and eventual reconciliation - all these turning points were present to drive the narrative along.

Not surprisingly, I found this movie not only funny, but also kind of sweet. Rudd's Peter Klaven is a caricature for certain - I don't think anyone is that socially inept at the male code - but I found his earnestness in trying to find a friend charming and a little bit cute. He and Sydney (no less a caricature than Peter) are a bit of an odd couple, but Sydney brute machoness serves as a good foil to Peter's macho-not-so-much. There were times in the movie where the chemistry between the two of them didn't really work for me. I couldn't believe that someone like Peter would want to hang out with someone like Sydney. I think that had Sydney been painted a little less broadly it would have been a little more believable. I say that, but truthfully, as a man, I will say that you never know with whom you are going to bond and that sometimes its the differences that cement the friendship rather than the similarities.

Watching the movie, I obviously connected much more with Peter than I did Sydney, even though there were things that Peter did that were truly cringeworthy. I think I recognized a bit more than a sliver of myself in him, as the not-as-masculine guy who has always had "girl friends" as opposed to the kind of buddyship portrayed in this movie. I am always a bit jealous of those types of friendships, but looking back on my own life, it's not like I had any trouble filling up my wedding party nor do I lack for people in my life right now. Additionally, my own experience tells me that the depiction of the relationship between Peter & Sydney was also unrealistic on a few levels, not the least of which was the speed at which they became such close friends. The thing I've learned about those kinds of friendships is that they are simultaneously born out of an organic reaction that you can't force and then cultivated by hard work. You can't force it, you don't dare force it, and sometimes, it takes years. Granted, that was not going to happen in a 90 minute comedy, but still.

I have written on this blog before and will continue to maintain to my last breath that while wives and girlfriends are undeniably important in our path as men, we cannot and should not underestimate what we have to offer to each other. We need each other, for sometimes we just need to be guys. No matter how hard women work to do that, they are not a substitute and are limited by their experience as women in how much they can relate to our experiences as men. I feel like I Love You, Man, while undeniably a farce, showed the truth that our friendships with each other can be as intense and as necessary as our marriages.

May we all be as fortunate as Peter and Sydney.

The previews at the movie last night have led Matt and me to three more movies to see at the dollar theater: Star Trek, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and Friday the 13th. Check, check, and check.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Neurons firing

Nabbed from Boy Culture:



I usually am hard pressed to watch YouTube videos longer than 90 seconds, but this one had me for the entire 6 minutes. Watching this reminds me of why I have been a Madonna fan for 25 years - just look at the body of work she has behind her. Each image fires off neurons in different sections of my brain all at once. Images from the "La Isla Bonita video" set my 14 year-old brain to memories of standing in P.E. talking to Jeff about the video (and amazed I knew someone else who shared my obsession). Flickering shots of from Sex remind my 20 year-old brain listening to Erotica in solitude. Even Madonna eras I'm not terribly fond of have something positive to give - the "4 Minutes" video will forever be linked to my first time in New York City.

I have taken my fair share of shit over the years for being a Madonna fan, but it is not an experience I would trade for anything in the world. As Matt Rettenmund said in his post - she *is* me, well, sort of. But these images are something that all Madonna fans share. I'm not sure where she's going these days (hell, I'm not sure that even she knows where she's going) but the fans really do share in this body of work.