Saturday, April 23, 2011

Love, Nerd Style

I adore the television show Fringe. It's smart, funny, and oh-so-well written. I mean, the writers actually remember what happened previously and then build on it. Unheard of, right? Too many times I encounter shows where the writers seem to have creative amnesia. Characters switch personalities from one episode to the next, and plot threads are dropped, never to be picked up again. (I'm lookin' at you, Glee.)

The Fringe writers remember everything. That little something that happened way back in the third episode that you didn't think had any importance? They'll go back and transform it into a major plot point. And unlike shows that dangle a carrot in front of you only to rip it out of your reach over and over and over again (Now I'm lookin' at you, X Files!), Fringe presents its viewers with both mysteries and answers on a regular basis, always chugging forward toward bigger and better stuff.

The show does a great job of giving you characters you care about as well as intriguing puzzles for you to try and solve--food for the heart and the head.


Being the dork that I am, I love a good opening titles sequence, and Fringe's intro is terrific. It's dark and mysterious, and it reads like a quick cram session for the viewer. Words like "astral projection" and "parallel universes" float across the screen as if to say, "This is the kind of weird stuff we'll be spending our time on, so buckle up."

In the second season, after spending a lot of time referencing a particular character's work in the 80's, an episode ended up being set entirely in 1985. To the delight of the fans, the opening titles followed suit with 80's-style graphics and such unheard of terms as "personal computing" and "cloning" floating across the screen. Fun, right?

Even further into the second season, the show's protagonists traveled to a parallel universe, and the show's intro changed yet again. From that point on, viewers would have a quick way of being able to tell in which universe an episode was set.

Finally, a word to the wise: Don't ever try to eat anything while you're watching Fringe. Just trust me on this one.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

An Exercise in "Arrogance"

I work at a television station, and at my station we have something that countless other workplaces have the world over: a break room. It has a handful of vending machines, some coffee makers, two microwaves and fridge. See? We TV people are just like you!

Unfortunately, we also have similar problems: "disappearing" food, an overstuffed fridge, and people who can't be bothered to clean up after themselves. Now I'm the first to complain about having to play housekeeper for my more slovenly coworkers. Having lived with a roommate for the majority of my adult life, I'm very familiar with seeing a mess, sighing, wondering how anybody could be so rude, thinking about leaving things how they are just to teach 'em a lesson, and then cleaning up anyway. This scenario has played out again and again, both at home and at work.

However, one of my coworkers clearly got fed up, specifically with inconsiderate behavior around the coffee makers. On a java run one morning, I found a printed note attached to the little basket that contains the sugar packets. It read as follows:
Please through [sic] away your used sugar packets instead of leaving them here. This basket is not for your trash. Thank you.
Or something like that.

Several thoughts crowded my mind. The Top Three were: (1) Amen! (2) Should I find a pen and change through to throw or is that being too obsessive? (3) This is not going to end well.

Sure as you're born, on my next trip to the break room for a refill, another coworker came in, saw the note, sniffed in contempt and called the writer of the note "arrogant". Now, I agree there's a touch of hoity-toityness involved in typing up such a note and leaving it for the plebeians to find - an absentee slap on the wrist, so to speak. I'll give you passive-aggressive, but "arrogant"?! His reaction seemed a bit extreme, which immediately made me think that he was the offending party.

The note eventually disappeared, but not before someone wrote in the margin, "Seriously?! Don't you have anything more important that you could be doing?"

Take a minute to let the irony wash over you.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Festing with the Best of 'Em

Nashville has a pretty damned good film festival (NaFF for you anagram addicts), and every year I go apeshit trying to see as many movies as possible. I read the synopses and scan the schedules, planning my method of attack with an eye for maximum celluloid exploitation. Sadly, this year I only have plans to attend three screenings for reasons both good (too many conflicting social engagements) and bad (very tight budget).

Last night I attended the opening night screening of Weekend, a British film about two men who, after a one-night stand, find themselves spending the majority of the next two days in each other's company. They drink, screw, talk and do a LOT of recreational drugs. In their short time together, despite having very different approaches to life, they become very close.

The film was shot in a primarily hand-held camera/cinema verite style, and that, coupled with the very solid acting by the two leads, made the movie seem more like a documentary than a narrative film. I found myself having very visceral reactions to what was happening, as if they were real people making bad decisions right in front of me. This speaks strongly to the quality writing, which was very solid and never brought attention to itself - something that is especially important when it comes to this sort of film.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the movie's refreshing approach to the sex, specifically gay sex. The filmmakers did not shy away from showing any aspect, from pit-licking at the beginning to wiping up at the end. Everything was just ... there. It always seems that movies will sidle up to showing gay sex, but there's still a great deal of mystery to it, provided by a convenient bed sheet or creative shot framing. It's like the character Glen says: "Oh, we don't want to scare the straights!" Fuck 'em. We're here. We're queer. And we have sex. More films need to adopt this take-no-prisoners approach. Perhaps then big movie stars would finally be able to justify how much money they make.

One last thing: I'm in love with Chris New, who played Glen. He's the one with the tape recorder in the trailer, which you'll find below. I found him on Twitter today and complimented him on his stellar performance, and he responded almost immediately, thanking me and wishing me well. Isn't that sweet? Yup. Insta-boner.

Fun Fact for folks who scrolled past the video: Remember when I mentioned they show the guys wiping up afterward? Yeah, well, the lady behind me was absolutely scandalized by the sudden appearance of fluids. She gasped once loudly and then quietly at least four more times. I hope someone got her a paper bag to breathe into after the movie.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Entries from Brian's "Favorite People on Earth" List

This weekend I was lucky enough to enjoy a visit by two of my favorite people: Kirstin and Charlie. If you were to total up the time that I've spent with either of these two people (who, incidentally, only just met each other this weekend), you'd get a relatively low amount compared to some of the other people in my life, but with both of them, it's all about quality over quantity.

I met Kirstin in 2006 in New York City. She was rooming with two other girls (Morgen and Jenny) in a cute apartment in Harlem. It was my first trip to the city, and my travel companion Adam was staying with them while I was staying with my friend Mark and his boyfriend in Gramercy. On the second or third night of the trip, I came up to meet the girls, and I fell in love immediately. They were welcoming, kind and funny---everything you could want in people you've just met. Since then, there have been great intervals between meetings, but it's always as if no time has passed at all.

Adam and I visited Europe in October of 2010, primarily because Kirstin was going to be finishing up with graduate school in Edinburgh quite soon, and she wanted to be able to show us the beautiful city before she had to leave it. It was a fantastic trip (which I'll chronicle soon, I promise), but what made it truly special was having friends there who could truly show off the city in a way that a guide book never could. Kir was an inimitable host, and I was truly saddened when we had to leave. It could have been any city on Earth, and Kirstin still would have made it a pleasure.

I met Charlie roughly a year before I met Kirstin, in the kitchen of a midtown apartment in Nashville. Adam and then-boyfriend Blake had invited both Charlie and me out to the club for an underwear party. (Something I wouldn't consider doing now for all the tea in China.) I arrived first and began to needle the boys for details about our mystery guest. Beyond "he's cute" and "you'll like him", they didn't give me much to build a mental image from, but when he arrived, I discovered that "he's cute" and "you'll like him" didn't even begin to cover it: He was (well, is) insanely attractive and I was smitten with him the moment he walked through the door.

We went to the club and had a fantastic time, although I was doubly self-conscious about being in my undies now that a cute boy was in the mix. (And by that I mean "new" cute boy; Adam and Blake were then - and continue to be - quite fetching.) We all danced and got ogled by older gentlemen until very late-thirty when we headed back to the guys' apartment. Did I mention that at this point in my career at the television station I had be at work at roughly 3 a.m.? Oh, yes, that was one superfun morning at work, I tell you what.

I saw Charlie twice more before he headed back to the Pacific Northwest, and by the time I saw him off at the airport, I knew that he'd always have a special place in my heart. Corny, I know, but that's the way it is. Like with Kirstin, there have been large periods of time between meetings, but time doesn't seem to have any effect on our affection for each other.

I'm not a religious person, having rejected the denominational teachings I was raised with, but I really can't think of any other way to word the next sentence without using the Big Guy's name, so here goes: Thank God for having such wonderful people in my life--people I'll always care about and who will always care about me.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Untimely Travel Tales - Seattle Edition, Pt. 4

At looooooong last I present to you...

If Days One through Three were the beginning of a love affair with Seattle, Day Four was the consummation, because that was the day I was introduced to ... Fremont.

Also known as the Center of the Known Universe, Fremont is a unique Seattle neighborhood that revels in its peculiarity. (The unofficial motto is "De Libertas Quirkas" - or "Freedom to be Peculiar" for the non-Latin speakers.) Public art is absolutely everywhere, and you can spend a very satisfying afternoon rubbernecking your way through the streets. In fact, that's exactly what my handsome host Blake and I did.

Here's a partial list of the neat things we encountered:
  • A multitasking signpost pointing visitors toward such random locations as the North Pole, Machu Picchu, Solaris, and Xanadu.
  • A huge statue of Lenin salvaged from Slovakia after the fall of Communism.
  • The Fremont Troll - a huge concrete beast hiding under the Aurora Bridge with a captured Volkswagen under its huge hand.
  • Two large topiary brontosauruses purchased from a children's museum.
  • A huge cold war-era rocket attached the corner of a building.

We wandered through a handful of fantastic vintage stores (including the Fremont Vintage Mall - where I bought tiki-style salt and pepper shakers - and Deluxe Junk - with what I later discovered was a Dutch french fry mascot standing outside) and hit Roxy's Deli for some french fries (What can I say? I'm highly suggestible.) and an Irish coffee. Oh, and a hot as hell waiter whom I surreptitiously videotaped so that I'd have a visual reminder of him. Please don't judge me.

We left the Fremonsters behind, and traveled to Gas Works Park. While we were there we saw two bums and a gaggle of nerds beating one another with foam swords. I loved seeing the remnants of the gas light plant, but we had to leave pretty quickly as we were rapidly losing daylight.

As we headed to Kerry Park and its beautiful view of the city, Blake told me about a recent controversy regarding underwater billboards. I was immediately intrigued. Late that August, signs for Ivar's - a local seafood chain - had been found anchored to the bottom of Puget Sound. Supposedly, restaurateur and renowned self-promoter Ivar Haglund had believed submarine travel through the Sound to be inevitable and wanted to get a jump on the competition, submerging the signs back in 1955. A mere week before I arrived on the scene, the folks at Ivar's admitted that the whole thing was a hoax. I don't care. Still neat.

We returned to Blake's apartment where he cooked us dinner, which we unfortunately had to wolf down in order to get to a screening of "An Education" on time. After the movie, we visited a - ahem - lovely little gay bar called The Cuff. The place had fake "stone" wallpaper stapled to the walls, so you can take it from there. After some exhausting rounds of drinking and judging, we left, stopping by Dick's for some late night eats, and no, the irony isn't lost on me.

It was a relatively sedate end to a fantastic trip. Big love to Blake, Charlie, Dean and Brett for introducing me to such an amazing town. I will be back.

Didn't read the other installments? Click here!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Blog Every Day in April 2011

Dearest readers,

It goes without saying that I've neglected this blog. It's been nearly eight months, for pete's sake! That's almost 3/4 of a year! And the most recent blog entry describes a trip that occurred in the fall of 2009?! Hell's bells, I've been to New York, New Orleans, and EUROPE since then. Bad Brian! I'd spank myself, but that would prove more reward than punishment.

In the interest of sloughing off stagnation, my friend Chris has suggested that he and I attempt to Blog Every Day in April. (It's a "thing" apparently, so that's why it's all capital-y.) I suppose technically for me this would be a reattempt, since, while Chris successfully documented his life on a daily basis (with pitchers even!) back in April of '09, I failed spectacularly. I clocked in at a measly 11 entries, and one of 'em was simply me bitching about the task at hand. If it had been Feed a Baby Every Day in April, the poor thing would've starved to death. Well, actually, maybe not, but it probably would have ended up feeble-minded due to malnutrition at such a critical time in its early development.

Now the more observant among you will feel that's important to point out that it's already the 7th of April. I'll say first of all that the gauntlet was only thrown down yesterday. Secondly, I'll suggest that you refrain from being such a smart ass.

So fasten your seatbelts, boys and girls. We're gonna blog the fuck outta this here interwebs.

Facetiously yours,
Brian 5