There were no Brooks Pounders, Michael Monsters, or Sequoyah Trueblood Stonecipers in this year’s draft, but there was a Livengood.
#7: Trey Ball (Red Sox)
#45: Teddy Stankiewicz (Red Sox)
#64: Ryder Jones (Giants)
#79: Dace Kime (Indians)
#82: Carter Hope (Royals)
#101: Chase Johnson (Giants)
#233: Forrest Allday (Red Sox)
#235: Kendall Graveman (Blue Jays)
#283: Dylan Manwaring (Braves)
#298: Justin Livengood (Padres)
#322: Coco Johnson (Marlins)
#381: Sicnarf Loopstock (Indians)
#674: Derek Toadvine (Yankees)
#705: Narciso Crook (Reds)
#709: Hunter Brothers (Rockies)
#913: Sterling Sharp (Braves)
#967: Mike Fish (Angels)
In a short-short stories workshop I took a couple of years ago, one of our assignments was to write a story that borrowed characters from a famous story. Obviously, I borrowed characters from Gatsby. The story is a reference to this passage:
“I never loved him,” she said, with perceptible reluctance.
“Not at Kapiolani?” demanded Tom suddenly.
From the ballroom beneath, muffled and suffocating chords were drifting up on hot waves of air.
“Not that day I carried you down from the Punch Bowl to keep your shoes dry?” There was a husky tenderness in his tone… . “Daisy?”
I will blame any criticism of this short story on my word limit because everything is easier that way.
In the years after Hawaiians used the place for human sacrifice and before the dedication of the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in its center, the Buchanans visited Punchbowl Crater. The newly married couple was on their honeymoon, and, having driven up the outer slope, had hiked a short trail to the summit. From the top they looked over the city of Honolulu, beyond the acres of vegetation toward Diamond Head, and down upon the great expanse of the Pacific Ocean.
“Oh Tom, it’s so peaceful up here. Couldn’t you stay forever? What do you think is on the other side?”
“Don’t be silly, Daisy. California’s on the other side.”
She said nothing, choosing instead to breathe in the humid air. Perhaps it was the endless ocean before her and the mysterious thing she found herself searching for hidden beyond the horizon, or maybe it was the patches of clouds moving quickly through the sky, but something made her feel small.
“I want to find the cannons before it rains,” Tom said. It had rained every day since their arrival a week earlier.
“You just want to go back to the hotel and drink.” Daisy could see the Moana Hotel, a solitary and stately white building on the beach.
“Well, so what? That’s what we’re paying all that money for,” he said.
She thought about the hotel and how it stood over the ocean at the water’s edge. She had felt a sense of safety of comfort, something she couldn’t fully grasp, but liked immediately. She had called it love when she lay on the beach watching Tom thrash around in the whitewash near the shore.
“There are no cannons, Tom. Let’s go back.” She wanted that feeling again.
“The concierge said there were cannons. From the old Hawaiians’ parties or something.”
“Cannons are awful. And it’s starting to rain anyway.”
Before they left, the Buchanans looked over the ocean again, where the sun looked like a big red moon slowly sinking into the sea.
“Carry me to the car, Tom. I don’t want my shoes to get wet.”
As he lifted her, Daisy threw her arm over his shoulder. She felt weightless and happy. They descended the trail, surrounded by the sweet aroma from the star-shaped yellow plumeria. Inhaling the place and feeling the bounce of Tom’s steps, she knew their love was somehow connected to the place, and she was certain she, Tom, and the Punchbowl would go on forever, full of love and full of life.
I loved Scrubs up until the last couple of seasons. It was silly, serious, and sentimental, like if you crossed Looney Tunes with Full House sort of. This scene from season 1 has always been one of my favorite scenes.
I recently wrote about interracial couples on television, but only now am I realizing how easily Scrubs portrayed interracial relationships. This scene alone includes a Hispanic woman talking to her African-American boyfriend about problems with her Caucasian friend before the Caucasian main character comes in to discuss race with the African-American, who just happens to be his BFF.
I feel like a Scrubs marathon is calling me now.
Even though Perfect Couples is an imperfect show, I’m still a bit upset at its being cancelled. The show has its flaws: the first episode was terrible, the characters don’t always make sense, and despite being set in Portland, nothing in any of the establishing shots remotely resembles Portland. Still, aside from that first episode, I could count on the show for some immature giggles. Perfect Couples will be replaced by some Paul Reiser show, who’s never done anything worth watching since My Two Dads (which, in retrospect, may have been one of the most progressive TV shows ever). Also, Outsourced—basically The Office with more racism—hasn’t yet been cancelled.
The real reason I’m upset about the show’s cancellation is Olivia Munn. Despite her Leigh character being an ultracontrolling and often manipulating wife, I still liked her. She wasn’t unlike Monica Gellar from Friends, in that Leigh actually had some redeeming traits, like the simple desire to make life better for other characters. (I understand some people couldn’t get past the differences of Leigh and Munn playing herself on Attack of the Show, but I never saw her before Perfect Couples.) But the main reason I’m upset is because Leigh made up half of the show’s interracial couple.
Part of me thinks that’s a silly thing for me to be upset about. It’s 2011, and an interracial couple on TV shouldn’t be a big deal. But it is a big deal. I can’t think of another interracial couple on any other TV show. (Ironically, the only possibility I can think of is maybe there’s one on Outsourced.) But Leigh is not defined by her race, which makes her a more interesting character. I recall only one time where the show mentioned Leigh’s Vietnamese ethnicity, where she made some spring rolls or something. She is a character connected to her culture but not limited by it, which is how I see myself.
My reaction stems from being a 28-year-old male who is both in and a product of an interracial relationship. (I often tell people I’m the president of my local chapter of Ambiguously Ethnic People). I’m not looking for TV to provide some sort of profound insight into my life or even give me a bunch of characters I can relate to, but I do think it’s problematic that interracial couples are so rare. On TV shows, movies, and even (maybe especially) commercials, couples are all homogeneous, paired off by race. Usually it’s black or white couples. Sometimes there’s an Asian couple. The U.S. Army now has a commercial where an ambiguously Middle Eastern couple chats about their son joining the army. Not only does this make me wonder if that’s how most Americans date, but it makes me wonder if that’s what most Americans want to see. Would consumers (of shows and/or products) be so offended to see an interracial couple selling them Mountain Dew, or would that be too extreme? This is a question I’ve never asked myself. I’ll admit I didn’t even think about the the racial dynamics of Olivia Munn’s character until I found out the show had been cancelled. Being multiracial is not something I think about very often, but it’s so ingrained that it’s probably always in the background of my mindgrapes. I assume seeing an interracial couple is not a big deal to most Americans, either, so I have to wonder why there are so rare.
Esperanza Spalding won the Grammy for Best New Artist. That’s awesome. I’ve written probably 1000 words in this little box where I’m supposed to type letters only to delete them all. It’s all rage and disappointment.
Bieber fans: I understand that you’re disappointed that your boy didn’t win Best New Artist. You’re upset. I get it. But this is not okay:
Right now, “This is not okay” is the closest I can get to articulating my disappointment. I wonder if the person who tweeted that AT Esperanza Spalding understands the underlying racism in her message, or if she’s just being blatantly racist.
For everyone still wondering who Esperanza Spalding is, here she is performing at the White House.
I’ve had this list of topics to blog about for the past few weeks that I’ve done nothing with. The problem (besides general laziness) is the list doesn’t really mean anything. Think about something long enough and everything just blurs together. The internet has that effect on me. I’m saying, “Screw the list,” throwing some words on this interweb machine, and seeing if I end up covering all the seemingly random things I’ve been thinking about.
First: I’ve been thinking a lot about Fight Club, both the movie and the book. Unlike most books and movie adaptations, these don’t seem to exist independently of each other because, despite their differences, the book and film are strikingly similar. I’ve been thinking about Fight Club a lot simply because they are fucking great works of art. In my undergrad, I wrote a number of essays on Fight Club, and each time I surprised myself with how badly I misunderstood it. God, I wanted to be Tyler Durden so badly. Who wouldn’t, though? Dude basically said, “Fuck the world, let’s start a pointless revolution!” and suffered no consequences, but I guess that’s a lot easier to do when you’re not a real person. Only after I realized that Tyler is essentially Fight Club’s villain did I really understand it. I say essentially because yes, the consumerism and masculine identities raged against in Fight Club are also villains. We shouldn’t want to be like Tyler Durden, but we shouldn’t want to be like Jack, Joe, Cornelius, Rupert, or whatever the narrator’s name might actually be. The point is to find a balance between the two (and their values), otherwise you end up like Heath Ledger’s Joker or at the top of a skyscraper watching buildings crumble on top of explosives you created:
What a beautiful ending. It’s perfect, really. It’s also beautiful and perfect because it’s a direct rip-off of this ending:
which is also beautiful and perfect because it’s a rip-off of Hemingway’s ending to The Sun Also Rises:
“Oh Jake,” Brett said, “we could have had such a damned good time together.”
Ahead was a mounted policeman in khaki directing traffic. He raised his baton. The car slowed suddenly pressing Brett against me.
“Yes.” I said. “Isn’t it pretty to think so?”
I also find it funny that the movie would take inspiration (however indirectly) from The Sun Also Rises when Chuck Palahniuk admits Fight Club is essentially an updated version of The Great Gatsby. Hemingway and Fitzgerald are sometimes inseparable in my head because of their friendship, which I imagine involved a lot of drinking, teasing, punching, maybe some tickling, and a ridiculous amount of passive aggression. For example, Hemingway might do something like write an essay about meeting Fitzgerald that may or may not be completely untrue and publish it in A Moveable Feast. The authors’ relationship may not have been so different than Tyler and “Jack.”
Fight Club as an updated Gatsby has always intrigued me as well, and I think it’s because Tyler Durden is basically the antithesis of Jay Gatsby, even though both fragmented personalities were manufactured to pick up unattainable women. Rather than explaining Tyler would burn all the money Gatsby was so bent on acquiring, I’ll assume you all get it. Instead, I’ll point out how ironic it is that Fight Club initially reentered my brainspace because it suddenly began popping up all over my Tumblrverse. Tumblr (and the internet in general) is cause for all kinds of identity fragmentation.
People create online identities for a number of reasons, and some online identities are in no way related to the actual person. The internet makes it possible to present yourself in the way you want to be seen instead of the way you see yourself when, in reality, the truth is probably somewhere in between. I often wonder if people younger than myself negotiate these worldwide webs better than I do because the internet has always been confusing their mindgrapes. (Which is why I found the Frontline documentary “Growing Up Digital” interesting).
Who guys are in
fight clubTumblr is not who they are in the real world. Even if you told the kid in the copy center that he had a good fightyou totally loved that picture he posted of dancing puppies, you wouldn’t be talking to the same man.
I don’t think I present a different image of myself to the online community than the one I present in person, but I could also be wrong. With me, it’s more a matter of withholding information. I self-censor in ways I normally wouldn’t while speaking face to face. (I don’t self-censor on the phone because I am almost completely unable to function on a telephone.) Interweb me is almost completely devoid of any mention of work, simply because there are few good things to say about my job. This is stupid. I say nothing about how unhappy my current job is in fear that prospective employers might see it and not want to hire me. If my current experience barely transfers to any other workplace, why should anything else? (That’s an exaggeration, and that declaration of hyperbole isn’t quite self-censorship but points out that I thought about not typing it). My current situation sucks so much that it’s hard to believe anyone when they tell me it gets better. But yes, I know they’re right.
Here’s a little nugget of information for you, internet, that not everyone in real life knows about me: I am crazy scared of water. Put me in the ocean, a lake, or even a pond, and I’ll have an anxiety attack. It won’t happen right away, though. The pleasure comes before the panic. Sooner or later though, I won’t be able to handle it. It’s hard to explain, but it feels a little bit like swimming through cement.
This video has been floating around the internet for awhile, and I could watch it a million times without easing any of the anxiety it gives me:
I both admire and fear everything going on in this video. It reminds me of a recurring dream I have that seems to come up when I am unhappy. In it, I jump off a cliff, and below me is ocean. That’s the whole dream: I jump, I fall, and I wake up scared as hell. It’s the type of dream stereotypical therapists in shitty movies ask about, and it’s the type of dream that is so stupid that stereotypical characters in shitty movies respond by telling the therapist he’s wasting everyone’s time. It’s also somehow become what I think about when I can’t sleep. It calms me down because I realize it reminds me that nothing is accomplished without taking risks. It makes me feel small, but like a small thing that aspires to be huge.
The internet is full of things that make me feel small in this pleasant way. I suppose that’s why we have Tumblrs and blogs and all the other stuff. Molly Lambert might agree, though she might use some different terminology. But the internet isn’t that different from the real world. It’s just a device that brings the real world to us. The internet does allow me to ramble on for 1000+ words about Fight Club and the ocean without making a whole bunch of sense. It’s easy to drown in the internet. My goal is not to drown, but to rise up like an angry ship eating monster bear.
I was making a list of subjects that I want to blog about, and the list got really, really long. I’ve been wanting to write more, about anything and everything. I get very restless, antsy, and unhappy when I don’t write. The creative energy just swirls in my brain until I forget just enough of the details that I couldn’t write what I initially intended to write, yet just enough details remain so that it bugs the shit out of me even more. Usually the lists don’t help, either. What ends up happening most of the time is any list becomes hand-written documentation of my procrastination, and of course, that makes things worse.
So why even write about the thrilling topic of creating lists in the first place? Well, because I never thought I’d be the type of person to make “To Do Lists.” I was one a bit of the “art kid” in high school. You’ve seen this “type” of character in any high school or college TV show or movie. He or she is the quiet, shy, depressed kid who uses his/her tormented life to create drawings or paintings that only he/she likes. At some point during this time, I also learned that lists were for those boring left-brain thinkers who based their lives around the logic of arithmetic.
I was right-brained. I was an art kid. Math, numbers, and lists definitely had no place in my life. (Also, it seems I conveniently abandoned my conviction in thinking I didn’t fit into a category of any sort. I played baseball but didn’t fit into the “jock” type either. But that’s also beside the point, because I knew almost no person fits so easily into any given category. I often let my brain go off on semi or completely unrelated tangents.) Now I write three or four different “to do lists” a day—one for work, one for home, for example—each one further compartmentalizing my life. The unfinished business of each day flows on to the next, over and over, until it feels like I’m accomplishing nothing in all the fragmented parts of my life.
I know this isn’t true, even if it’s written (in my own handwriting) right in front of me. The crossed out items of finished tasks should be evidence enough, but carrying even one thing from one day to the next makes the days blur together. At some point, I start to feel stuck in the past, tied to the very first list, even though nothing from that first list has carried over this far.
A few days ago I reblogged this post by Stephon Johnson at Snare Drum Go about his favorite albums of the past 30 years. Before I post my own list, here’s an admission: 1980 was chosen because it’s close to my lifetime (I’m 27), it’s an nice even number, and so I could include Appetite for Destruction.
The conversation referenced in these tweets stemmed from thinking about Billy Corgan’s statement that people don’t listen to albums anymore because their “listening patterns have changed” and the fact that, when you play Appetite for Destruction from the beginning, those first few chords embrace you and even warn you that the next 53 minutes will be an audio experience, not just a group of unrelated songs. I started thinking about some of my favorite albums. Despite using the 1980 cutoff date, it was fun to not have a limit to how many albums could be included. The thought process of including/excluding albums became more about, as Stephon put it, albums that have had a lasting personal impact and even shaped the person I’ve become today. Unlike Stephon, I don’t have very much hip-hop on my list because I didn’t really get into hip-hop until fairly recently. I believe most of the albums on my list are from the mid- to late-nineties, since that’s when I was an angst-filled, music discovering teenager. I realize this a lot like those Facebook and email chains of “music that changed your life!” and whatnot, but I don’t care because I’ve been rediscovering some great music for the past week or so. On to the list!
1. Refused - The Shape of Punk to Come
2. A Perfect Circle - Mer de Noms
3. Kanye West - The College Dropout
4. Tool - AEnema
5. The Toadies - Rubberneck
6. Sufjan Stevens - Illinoise!
7. Sunny Day Real Estate - Diary
8. Stone Temple Pilots - Purple
9. Smashing Pumpkins - Siamese Dream
10. Radiohead - OK Computer
11. Michael Jackson - Thriller
12. Mars Volta - Deloused in the Crematorium
13. Mars Volta - Frances the Mute
14. Foo Fighters - The Coulour and the SHape
15. Grizzly Bear - Veckatimest
16. Jane’s Addiction - Nothing Shocking
17. Jimmy Eat World - Bleed American
18. Dr. Dre - The Chronic
20. R.E.M. - Automatic for the People
21. Outkast - Stankonia
22. Outkast - The Love Below/Speakerboxx
23. Common - Be
24. The National - Boxer
25. The Faint - Danse Macabre
26. The Shins - Chutes Too Narrow
27. Failure - Fantastic Planet
28. Gorillaz - Gorillaz
29. Queens of the Stone Age - Songs for the Deaf
30. Aimee Mann - Magnolia soundtrack
31. Nine Inch Nails - Pretty Hate Machine
32. Cake - Prolonging the Magic
33. Jurassic 5 - Quality Control
34. At the Drive In - Relationship of Command
35. The Strokes - Room on Fire
36. Everclear - So Much for the Afterglow
37. Reel Big Fish - Turn the Radio Off
38. Aesop Rock - Labor Days
39. Blackalicious - Blazing Arrow
40. Guns n Roses - Appetite for Destruction
41. Bjork - Post
42. Deftones - White Pony
43. Prince - Purple Rain
44. Jay-Z - Black Album
45. Guster - Keep It Together
46. Everclear - Sparkle and Fade
47. Possum Dixon - New Sheets
48. Black Star - Black Star
49. Blind Melon - Soup
50. Yann Tiersen - Amélie soundtrack
51. Blackalicious - A2G EP
52. Ice Cube - The Predator
53. Aerosmith - Pump
54. The Strokes - Is This It
55. Postal Service - Give Up
56. Far - Water & Solutions
57. Live - Throwing Copper
58. Weezer - Weezer
59. Bare Jr - Boo-Tay
60. Dave Matthews - Under the Table and Dreaming
61. Rage Against the Machine - Evil Empire
62. Cat Power - The Greatest
63. The Toadies - Hell Below / Stars Above
64. Built to Spill - Keep it Like a Secret
65. Belle & Sebastian - Storytelling soundtrack
66. Pearl Jam - Vs.
67. Queens of the Stone Age - Lullabies to Paralyze
68. Radiohead - The Bends
69. Temple of the Dog - Temple of the Dog
70. 2Pac - All Eyez on Me
71. The Faint - Blank Wave Arcade
72. Fiona Apple - Tidal
Awhile back, I started a blog called Hapa-Haole. I intended to read and write about what I called “my halfness.” I only wrote three posts: the introduction to the blog, a book list, and a response to Garrett Hongo’s Volcano. Anyway, that’s all lead-in to the following:
I’ve had Kip Fulbeck’s book, Part Asian, 100% Hapa sitting on my shelf for about a year now. It’s a collection of photographs of people who are—to use a term I’ve applied to myself jokingly for years now—ambiguously ethnic. For those who don’t know, Fulbeck’s website defines “hapa” as such:
ha•pa (hä’pä) adj. 1. Slang. of mixed ethnic heritage with partial roots in Asian and/or Pacific Islander ancestry. n. 2.Slang. a person of such ancestry. [der./Hawaiian: hapa haole. (half white)]
Flipping through the 250+ pages of photos of people of mostly unidentifiable ethnicities gazing straight ahead is, for me, a bit like looking into a flipbook of mirrors, especially reading the accompanying pages in which the the people define themselves in short statements that are both contradictory and truthful. For example, one man writes, “I am 100% Black and 100% Japanese.” This can be read as celebratory, as if he fully embraces both of the cultures of his bloodline, or it can be problematic, as in a person being pulled in two different directions. I prefer the former because I have more in common with the latter. I like to think there are people who do successfully embrace their numerous cultures. I, on the other hand, feel almost completely disconnected from the numerous places and cultures I am supposedly “from.”