Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Hmm, It Does Go Well With The Chicken

I'm very sorry I haven't updated the blog in almost ten days, but I went on a dizzying bender to Monte Carlo with the cast of "Babe: Pig in the City." Let me tell you, those people (and the pig) know how to have a good time, and when a roomful of rich tennis players and race car drivers is cheering you on at the craps table, you forget about your measly little place in the blogosphere right quick, as the minorities are saying. I've probably lost three quarters of my readership, so for the two people reading this (self-deprecation is in these days, ask Conan O'Brien or Jon Stewart), thanks for sticking around.

I've had a lot of ideas for this post, and yet I sort of abhor the thought of writing anything, ever. Perhaps I need to work through my hatred of the craft I want so desperately to be respected for. Right now I'd rather be watching TV, or reading with a perverse sense of excitement about the mounting death toll in the Pacific (one of the 436 things that makes me feel guilty on a daily basis--I guess I enjoy extremes in my news and weather), or sleeping, than writing this entry. But of course my sense of self-worth while doing any of the other things will be that much higher after doing this thing. And so I write for you, the people, so you will tell me that I write well. Oh yeah, and to practice.

Right now I'm in an undisclosed location in northern New Jersey visiting my grandarents. I suppose now is a good time to tell y'all that, barring any stunning revelations about my parents' credit history, I am going to move to Brooklyn, New York City in the near future. I've been scouting out apartments with my associates (friends are for pussies), and hopefully the four of us will all be in agreement about something soon. You see, the situation is kind of complicated. Oh, fuck it, you wouldn't understand. The point is that I'm moving.

What's that you're asking? Do you have a job?

Anyway, have you ever noticed how white people dance? It's like they don't have any rhythm. Somebody should really teach them how to dance. Now I'm sounding like McSweeneys.

I've been struggling, as I've mentioned before, to figure out how much of my personal life to include in this blog, and I think one of the better solutions is close to zero. Unless I feel like bragging about something or I shit my pants in a public place, I should probably leave it out. I may have expressed exactly these sentiments in a previous post, so if I did, sorry. If you want to know what's happening in my life, you can talk to me, though you probably won't get the whole story, since I'll leave out a lot of embarassing incidents and thought processes and pretty much tell you about living situations and job prospects and maybe we'll talk about baseball. It depends on who you are and the mood I'm in and the mood you're in and the location of Sirius relative to the North Star.

One of the most comforting noises to hear when you're lying in bed is a far-off train (whistle, or just the sound of the train moving, though then I guess it can't be that far off). I just heard a whistle here, and I definitely enjoyed it. Wow, all this writing has tired me out. I feel a little better for having done it, though this post was about as cohesive as "The Salton Sea." The next post may focus on the mindset of incompetent politicians.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

What It Means To Be From Maine

Last night I went with my parents and my brother and his wife to a performance of Handel's "Messiah" in Boston. It includes the "Hallelujah" chorus, and is apparently Handel's most famous work (I know pretty much nothing about him). The thing as a whole loosely chronicles the life of Jesus, with a small orchestra playing and various singers belting out words that are oftentimes the gist of Bible verses. Jordan Hall, which is where the performance took place, is old and grand, and the group is world-famous. My parents love this sort of thing. Here's what I was thinking about most of the time, when I was awake (I slept through much of the first half):

1) Can I name every American League MVP from 1995 to the present?

2) What are my top 10 favorite movies of all time?

It's not that I don't appreciate the musicianship, which is incredible, or the spectacle of the thing. There's usually something refreshing about going to any theatrical performance; in a culture that's used to things coming at it from a distance, getting up close and personal at a concert or a play or whatever is a reminder of how powerful raw human artistry can be. But for me, this sort of music, and I hate to say it, classical music in general, just doesn't connect. I used to say "maybe when I'm older," but I don't know if I think it will ever click. In the end, all art is personal, and if something doesn't move you, that's it. I've learned that I usually enjoy things more the second time I hear them, and of course you can come back to music you once enjoyed and find it awful and vice versa. All this supports the idea that music is subjective--not only to personal taste, but to time, place, age, etc. Arguing about music (or film, or books, I guess) is sort of a funny concept because all of these things are so intertwined with the arguer's inner life.

But enough about that. My favorite movies of all time, in no particular order, are:

Pulp Fiction
American Psycho
A Fish Called Wanda
The Big Lebowski
Fargo
You Can Count On Me
Terminator II
Adaptation
Coming To America
Dazed and Confused

If some fanccy-booklearnin'-lovin' critic made a list of the BEST movies of all time, there would be like one after 1970 on the list, and it would be "The Godfather." I almost put "Some Like It Hot" on here just to include something old, but it felt forced. I love a lot of old movies, but, call me a product of the times, these are my favorites. More on this later, perhaps.

By the way, I couldn't remember who the 1998 MVP was, and I'm not sure about the '96 (Griffey?). I'm about to look it up.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Triceratops Vs. Stegosaurus

I wanted to write a whole entry about Pedro Martinez's exit from the Red Sox, but now I somehow don't feel like it. But I do want to say that when I was a young lad growing up in County Cork, we used to listen to those Red Stockings games on the Voice of America and say to each other "If only we had a few more potatos, we could throw a ball that hard too! Only in America!"

Actually, Pedro is my favorite athlete of all time, and it seems doubtful to me that I could be as excited about another one again (sometimes I used to masturbate to his games. Just kidding). Over the years, he has shown himself more and more to be a prima donna who cares only about "respect," which, as Dan Shaugnessy and Peter Gammons both pointed out, really means money. His accusation that Peter Gammons voted for Barry Zito over him in the 2002 Cy Young Balloting because Gammons was racist (or some bullshit like that) was ludicrous, and though people never seem to talk about it, I think it may have been the proverbial straw that broke the spiny anteater's back and made me think of Pedro as, well, kind of a dick. There are a million other incidents, but that one stood out to me, perhaps because I was tripping on a dose of DXM recommended for "shamanic purposes only" when I read about it on ESPN.com. Again, just kidding.

What I'm trying to say is that when Pedro was on his game, especially in 1999-2000, I would practically be counting down the hours to his next start. Four days between them seemed unbearably long. Almost every time he pitched during those years, you really did have the sense that you were watching something historic and, if you're a fan of the way baseball looks, amazingly beautiful. Pedro not only dominated hitters more thoroughly than anyone I've ever seen, but he did it in the most thrilling fashion. His pitches moved effortlessly and unpredictably, his command was simply unreal, and he had that cock-of-the-walk attitude that, at the time, seemed justified and refreshing. Every time he didn't strike someone out, I was disappointed. Every time he gave up a hit, I was shocked, especially the first hit of the game, since I pretty much expected him to throw a perfect game on every occasion. I know I'm repeating a lot of what Bill Simmons said in his column today, but I genuinely feel the same way, so go light yourself on fire.

What's amazing to me is that in those years, when I would watch myself wind up and throw in various mirrors or reflective surfaces and probably imagine myself as Pedro (I still do this all the time, but I'm not sure who I imagine myself as now), I thought I would be crushed if Pedro were to go to another team. But watching him slowly decline since about mid 2001 (he was good up until this year, but not the same as he was) has been painful. Knowing what he used to be, it's hard not to think every time he pitches that he might just revert to old form. And once in a while there are flashes of brilliance, but usually it's him throwing too many pitches, working out of jams, walking way more guys than he used to, and not striking many people out. I wouldn't be surprised if his pride played a part in his fall--if he learned to pitch a little more craftily, he might be a lot more efficient. Anyway, when I heard he was off the team, it didn't affect me that much. Partly because my general passion for baseball has waned lately compared to the old days when I was truly obsessed. But partly because I know that the real Pedro will just exist in my memory and the occasional ESPN Classic game.

Sniff, tear.

Well, I guess I did write a post about Pedro. It's amazing what you can do when you've been up for three days on a crank binge. Again, kidding. I like to kid. I'm a kidder, and I've said that from day one. And that's a credit to this administration. Alright, fuck this shit, I'm going to bed and dreaming of being a war correspondent for a London newspaper in some far-flung locale where all I do is hang out at a hotel, drink, and go on about the pointlessness of it all. Oh yeah, I also have a fetching mistress in the dream. I recently read "The Quiet American," where I lifted a lot of this from. Good book. In my next entry, I'll talk about how I don't understand how anything in the world works. Peaceout!!!!!!

Monday, December 13, 2004

Whoops

I accidentally removed a comment, which claimed that Gandhi didn't actually say that. Sorry to whoever put that there.

Australia: What Went Wrong

I wrote in my first post that I didn't know what I was going to write about post-first-post. As of now, I feel myself shying away from detailing the daily events of my life--not only because a) they're sometimes dull and b) the whole thing feels kind of self-indulgent, but also because doing so would give this enterprise a flavor of more responsibility than I want. For example, right now I'm keeping a dream log, because I've been experiencing the most prolonged period of consistenly vivid dreams that I can remember. Whenever I don't write something down in the dream log, I feel bad about it, because the whole point is to thoroughly record what happened between 2:30 and 10:00 (roughly my usual hours). Having a journal or an outlet to record everything--or even just the interesting things--that happen in my life would quickly become a burden for me, I think. I've tried to keep daily journals before and they died out pretty quickly. I don't feel like trying to explain this any more, so I'll just say that even if I don't write about current events in the land of Foley, current events do happen.

Note: I'm about to negate what I just said. Yesterday night, for example, my parents had a festive Hanukkah get-together with some of their friends, and my mom gave out novelty presents like a lighter in the shape of a fish (you open the tail to get to the lighter). Good times and latkes were had by all. Then my buddy Mike and I visited our friend Josh a few towns away, and then we went into Boston to a bar, and then to someone's apartment where I had a lengthy conversation with a guy I didn't know about whether Tim Wakefield is better as a fifth starter or coming out of the bullpen (I say fifth starter). This guy had a theory that the reason Derek Lowe's numbers dropped off so dramatically from 2002 to 2003 was that he started drinking. He called it a "hunch." After that comment, I felt his credibility was somewhere near (insert Bush administration official here)'s. Anyway, I didn't get to bed until 5, and then today I watched football, applied to a couple of jobs, ordered a large steak, cheese, mushroom and onion sub to be delived to my house even though the restaurant (Villa Pizza, one of the staples of my life) isn't far away, began a letter in Spanish to my homestay parents in Barcelona from last year, ate and cleaned up dinner while singing some Bob Dylan songs in the Bob Dylan voice to chuckles from my mom, and went on a walk in Lexington with my friend while he smoked a joint.

See, that wasn't all that exciting to write about. I should probably restrict that style to particularly amusing moments or anecdotes. Sorry, people, I'm working out the kinks here. As Gandhi once said, if you wanna make an omelet, you first should not be on a hunger strike, because the process will make you unbearably hungry.


Friday, December 10, 2004

Commenting Shock Horror

I have changed the settings to allow anyone who reads this to comment--I didn't realize that you needed to be a registered user to do so before now. Please feel free to go back over the first two entries and explain their shortcomings in detail.

Commence with the Whininess

Right now, it's 1:00 AM, and I'm smoking a post-coital cigarette in my comfortable Brooklyn apartment, listening to Brian Eno's "Deep Blue Day" and the traffic noises outside, tired but satisfied after a long, rewarding day at my comedy-writing job. Katie Holmes is in the kitchen making me eggs benedict from scratch.

Hey, it could happen... MCWORLD!!!!

Dreaming up this sort of scenario doesn't seem to lead me any closer to gainful employment. See, right now, I'm kind of in a rut, and have been for at least a couple of months. I came home to Lexington after the summer convinced that I would a) write more than I ever have in the past (which isn't saying much) and b) throw myself into getting a job if only to once again live in an environment where people leave weed lying around on the kitchen table. Since then, though, my days have slipped by like stealthy MI-6 agents. (Or is it MI-5? I didn't want to use CIA because they've proven themselves to be utterly incompetent). I see friends, I read books, I have intellectually stimulating conversations with my parents, I watch movies, I watch porn, I go out to bars sometimes, I visit that land of milk and honey, New York, sometimes. Today I had a full day which left me in a better mood than usual. But a hell of a lot is missing, and sad to say, my lack of effort to extricate myself from my house is probably the leading culprit in this crime of boredom (I like being able to overwrite with zero consequences).

A couple of things happen to me when I'm in a rut like this. One is that in the short run, it seems impossible to get out of--even though I haven't tried hard at all (story of my life, people! Or so insist the people that say I have talent), and a small push in the right direction would probably do wonders for me. The lack of stimuli sets in to form sort of a general state of constant, intractable ennui. (Dictionary.com's #3 definition for "intractable"--"difficult to alleviate, remedy or cure." Probably not the optimum usage of the word, but you get the idea).

Anyway, time becomes something to fear when you pay this much attention to it. I want to learn Spanish fluently and play more guitar and write something great and find women and jump out of a plane and see all the right movies, all in the span of the next few years. Is this possible for a lazy fucker like myself? The fact that I am asking myself this question may not be good for me in the first place. Constant motion in life can be great because it allows for mimimum thinking and reflection time, and then one day you find yourself looking in the mirror at Mel Gibson's villa in the island he bought near Fiji and thinking, "I've seen a lot of interesting shit in my day." That has, to some extent, happened in my life before, and I'm pretty damn sure it will happen again soon, but thinking about when it's going to happen rather than beginning with the constant motion now (maybe by running really fast in place like Roadrunner) is no good. That's why STARTING TOMORROW, I am going to get some shit done. Seriously, I mean it this time. One last hit, I can quit anytime.

Next entry preview: I'll either whine some more about my current situation and regale the reader with various unpleasant memories, or do NFL picks. Or both, or neither.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

My name is Axel Foley

Let's get the introduction out of the way. My name is Axel Foley, and I'm a detective from Detroit. I started this blog because my good buddy Mikey got killed back home, and, against the orders of my boss, I'm attempting to solve the mystery of who killed him by myself. I figure a little internet exposure might get me in contact with people who might know something. So far, my investigation has taken me to Beverly Hills, where I'm marveling at the beautiful women, eccentric characters, and well-appointed police station. I'm pretty sure this sinister Brit Victor Maitland is somehow involved in what went down, so if anyone has any information on him, let me know.

Ok, time to come clean. This isn't actually Axel Foley writing. It's Ben Hart (jesus, I hate my name). Benji/Benjamin/Benjilien(my grandmother's nickname) Hart. Anyway, I'm not a detective from Detroit who's experiencing culture shock in sunny California. I only wish it were that simple. Actually, the reason I'm starting this blog is that for someone who always talks about writing as some nebulous career goal ("nebulous" is one of my favorite words), I sure as hell don't write enough. It is foolish to think I can improve at something I always put off, so my hope is that by writing semi-regularly, I can use words like "avuncular," "edification," and "peripatetic" more regularly and dispense with those tiresome articles. (Honestly, who wants to see another "the?") I consider obscure vocabularly the mark of a talented writer, so once you don't understand me, I can move on to bigger and better things, like music reviews.

I don't really know what I'm going to write about, though the idea of ranting about which friends/family members are pissing me off, my various neuroses and so on and so forth (as Schwarzenegger would say) doesn't particularly appeal to me. On the other hand, I don't just want to write about how much I fucking hate Republicans, either. So I'll need to strike some sort of balance between the personal and the global (or something). I should probably mention that judging by my past track record, you can expect this blog to last about four days before I discontinue it.

To set the scene for this historic launching, and to update that guy/girl who has my IM name and whom I haven't talked to in four years: after having graduated from GW (that's THE George Washington University, if I ever get introduced on Monday Night Football), I am currently living in scenic Lexington, Massachusetts, with my parents (awesome!) Actually, they're not so bad (except for the beatings! I have to stop using so many fucking parentheses). But my life is, shall we say, not at its optimal enjoyment level. The reasons are many, and I'm sure I will delve into them in subsequent entries, if this venture lasts past tonight. Who knows, if I get drunk enough, I might sloppily and ungrammatically elaborate way too much for my own liking, and expose my life as the absurdist comedy it sometimes seems to be. But for now, I just want to say hello to everyone on the internets and announce my coming reign as king of all whiny journals.