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12:56 pm - Sunday, Nov. 17, 2002
Sunday Moanin'

Sunday Moanin'

SUN 11/17/02 10:10 am

I'm having one of those times where a lot of thoughts are crowding my head, all demanding equal time. And even though I can type much faster than I can write--one of the appeals of doing this on computer rather than in a book--I still can't really keep up the rush of thoughts, can't figure out what I want to say first.

But I'm gonna try...

I'm feeling slightly melancholic today. Had a bad night's sleep--Felt like I was awake more often than not--which I don't think helps, but it's some other stuff too.

Something is wrong with Leo. He's not eating. There's only one small, loose stool in his litterbox, and he's lost weight.

I tried to entice him with some canned food, but it looked like he just licked up the gravy and left the food. Then I bought dry Friskies--what I've fed him most of his life--and tossed the cheap stuff I've been feeding him lately to save money, but still...nothing.

If there's no food gone from the bowl tomorrow, if there's nothing new in the litterbox, I'll have to take him to the vet tomorrow.

I feel guilty that I've been so inattentive, that I've maybe let this go on longer than I should have. And I feel stressed over the notion that I'm going to have to spend money I don't have--and who knows what the problem is, or how much it's going to cost?--and I feel guilty for putting money, and my convenience, ahead of his health & happiness.

Again, I think I'm someone who shouldn't be allowed to have a pet...


Riding my bike in to work yesterday, it suddenly struck me how silly it is, my mooning over Kyle.

I don't want to put myself down here. I know I'm bright, and funny, and personable, and what-have-you (Can I put "talented" in there? I don't see how it really enters into a relationship, except maybe to make it more difficult, but it's something I'm proud of, anyway).

But I think it's unlikely in the extreme that this attractive 25 year old woman, one of my bosses at the bookstore, is looking at graying, balding, overweight, impoverished, 16-years-her-senior me and thinking "Oh yeah! I gotta get me some of that...".

I'm going to call Cressandra again, today or tomorrow, if I don't hear from her first, and see if I can't get something actually happening on that front. I've felt the enthusiasm and mild optimism I had kind of ebbing---I don't know anything about anything regarding dating and whatnot, but it just doesn't seem like a positive thing, this lengthy "lag time" between the asking and something actually happening. Maybe the idea of "momentum" being lost is just in my own mind, but I'm feeling it nevertheless (Perhaps my fear is that with all this time to think about it, she'll figure out the last thing she really wants is to go out with me).

But I feel a need to not just let this drop. I started something here, something positive, and whether anything actually comes of it or not, I think it's important that I take the chance, and not just let anxiety or fear of rejection shut me down.


I made arrangements at work so I can do the Best Damned Sports Show audition tomorrow (It's at 3:30. To play it safe, I said I could be in at 5:00, though if this goes like the others, it'll be over quick, and I'm not that far away from work. But I don't want to say I'll be in by 4:00, then end up being late).

Now that the way has seemed to become clear for me to do these auditions, my newest anxiety is all the lost work time. But what can I do? I have to just trust that, if I do my best to go forward here, that kind of thing will work itself out.


A couple weeks ago I saw the movie Comedian, the documentary about Jerry Seinfeld in the year after he threw out all his old stand-up material, and created a new act from scratch.

The stand-up existence looked, in one sense, pretty tough to me--Lots of travel, lots of lonely down time, tough crowds, dying on stage--but it also looked exciting. Exciting enough that I found myself thinking afterwards about how people how often asked me if I'd ever considered stand-up (The answer? Yes I have, for a moment or two at a time. Seriously enough to have read a book and made a token stab at writing some jokes. But I've always been cowed by the demand of having to get up there and be funny, with no help from a script or other performers, no matter what the crowd, no matter how you feel. I perceive myself as a person who is naturally funny, a person who understands comedy, but I don't kid myself; There's a world of difference between getting off a funny comment at the bookstore, and standing up by yourself in front of a room full of strangers and making them laugh).

While it wasn't really a predominant part of the movie, the thing that struck me most afterwards was the love/hate relationship comics have with the audience; there's obviously a need there, and at the same time, a resentment of that need, of the power the audience has.

Even at my level, with what I've done and what I want to do, I've sometimes felt ambivalent about audiences. In my case, I don't think it's so much that I resent the power they have over me, or feel demeaned somehow--like I think Seinfeld might on some level (Because he's a big successful guy who still has to get approval from drunks in a comedy club)--but that, if I want and need the approval of the audience, what does it mean if I don't always like or respect that audience? How can you make your life's work getting the respect of people you don't always respect yourself? It doesn't seem to make much sense.

I think one thing you have to get over is the idea that you're ever going to do anything that appeals to everyone. You have to, best you can, if and when you gain enough control over your career, just pick things that you respond to, and hope enough people come along that you can make a living from it (That probably sounds obvious and easy to a lot of people, but for a performer, I think it can be a big leap to make. It's not easy to put yourself out there, realizing that, no matter what you do, not everyone's going to cheer and applaud your efforts).

(For the record, I would define my own tastes as pretty solidly middlebrow. I think I can appreciate some things on either end of the cultural spectrum, but I'm not going to be going to seeing Jackass, the Movie, and I probably won't be getting season tickets to the LA Philharmonic. I feel like I'm somewhere in the slightly-smarter-than-average middle.)

When I saw 8 Mile, the thing that stuck with me was the "rap battle" at the end.

(If you haven't seen the movie yet, and plan to, I'm about to blow the ending. You've been warned...)

In the very last "battle", when Eminem's character is going up against the reigning champ, he loses the coin toss, and the champ picks him to go first. Now, that would seem to put him at a disadvantage, because the other guy will get to play off--and pick apart--whatever he just said (Basically, the bottom line to these things seem to be variations of "I'm great, and you suck").

But "Rabbit"--Eminem's character--starts his rap by saying "I already know everything you're gonna say...", and reels off every insult about himself you could imagine, while still cutting the other guy down to size, at one point seeming about to tell the audience to go fuck themselves if they don't get what he's doing. In the space of a minute, he communicates his anger, his sense of humor, his sadness, and of course, monster rapping skills (And you can agree or disagree with what he says in his raps, but if you think there's no talent there, you're just not listening).

When it's the other guy's turn...there's nothing left to say.

That scene hit me on two fronts...

When you lay everything about yourself out there, you attain a certain invulnerability. I think about Howard Stern, another guy people have thought was the end of civilization as we know it; While I got bored with him after a brief infatuation, I was always struck by how, while he would say horrible things about people, it was never any worse than the things he was just as ready to say about himself. He might be crude and vulgar or cruel or whatever, but he was just as ready to skewer himself, maybe more so, and to me, that was what made him more interesting than any number of people who have tried to do the same schtick (I think where I lost interest was that his obsessions are just too narrow, too juvenile. And I was never entertained by the "freak show" aspect of his show. He'd have people on his show who's only distinction was that they were exceptionally fat or ugly or stupid, and then just laugh at them. And more than any moral objection--After all, no one forces these people to debase themselves-- I just found it boring. Like Jerry Springer, you might watch an episode to see what people are talking about, and it might even be entertaining in a horrible kind of way. But when you tune in the next day and it's exactly the same thing, you turn off the tv ).

It's one of the reasons I prefer Letterman to Leno (Actually, my feelings about those two are stronger than a preference; I really like Letterman, and actively dislike Jay Leno). I'll take cranky-but-real David Letterman over Jay "The Joke Machine" Leno any day of the week.

It's why I think Richard Pryor was a genius, maybe the best standup ever.

And it's why I like Eminem.

I've never been one to dismiss rap, but at the same time, I've never been that big on it either. There just hasn't been much to interest me in a lot of rap; "I've got a big house, I'm a bad ass, I'm the greatest rapper", blah blah blah. If done with enough style and talent, it can be entertaining for a time, but it gets old pretty quickly, because there's no real content there (Again, it's not about objecting morally to what's said--I feel like I'm pretty much immune at this point--but about there just not being much there that speaks to me. And feeling like it's all "attitude", with nothing very interesting or real behind it).

But I feel like Eminem's operating at a different level.

(For the record, my knowledge of Eminem consists of the "Slim Shady" video on MTV, The Marshall Mathers CD, that Mike V. back at Schulers burned for me, and now 8 Mile. I understand that some of what he says might be objectionable, and it's not stuff you want to necessarily expose your five-year-old to. But from what I know, and what I've heard, I think he's a genuine artist).


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