Friday, March 30, 2007

Bud-ding Maturity (Part Deux)


Not that, um, it's a big deal or anything.

I'm just sayin'...

Aren't You That Guy...?

I'm tired of being The Movie Guy. It's gotten so...old.

Don't get me wrong, I love knowing that I have more useless movie knowledge than anyone around, but really...I'm tired of being known as that guy. I was looking at my list of DVDs this afternoon, people, and I flipped out when I saw that I have roughly 575 DVDs (including box sets in their entirety...not just the individual discs within). I mean, yeah, I knew I had a lot--A LOT!!--but that's just nuts!!

But this realization didn't just happen overnight. As I have with so many other blog entries, allow me to go all Lost on you and take you back in time a bit.

I can recall times where I'd be looking at my DVD Web sites and see a title that,
up until that point, I had absolutely no desire or interest in seeing. It could be a movie I'd never even heard of. Then something would just click--or snap, depending on how you look at it--in my brain. I would have to go buy it. It would become an obsession (remember, I am diagnosed with OCD), making me go from store to store, trying to find it (you know you want it. You know you need it. Buy it! Buy it! BUY IT!!!!) One frantic, damn-near-desperate search later and fifteen to forty-five dollars poorer, I would have the DVD(s) in my hot little hands. As soon as I would get home, I'd put it away and make a note to watch it at a later time. This sweat-inducing, impulse shopping frenzy went on for nearly three years until I received the financial assistance from my parents.

I figured that since I'd been given a second chance, money-wise, I probably shouldn't fuck it up. To this day, there are probably at least 100 movies that I've yet to watch. That, or I've watched many of them with no future plans to view them a second time. So many DVDs bought, so much dust gathered.

No wonder my allergies are such a bitch!

These days, I look at my massive collection and I'm overwhelmed with this feeling of self-loathing. I mean, yeah, I won't lie to you, it's an impressive collection, but those suckers are a manifestation of my OCD at its worst. I look at it and I think to myself, what was I thinking?! How much money would I have right now?! I know it's silly to question past decisions, but I go over it again and again in my head: Why was it so bloody important that you had to buy all of those?!

As I mentioned in my previous blog entry, I saw "Children of Men" and really liked it a lot. The next day, I could hear that voice in my head saying, you should really head to Best Buy and pick it up!! And I'll be honest, I almost did. Almost. It was my half-hour break, I had my cars keys on me and was ready to peel out of the Marriott parking lot. Then I just...stopped. For once, I blocked out that little voice and I thought to myself, let's face it: Here's a movie that I really liked, but admitted in my blog entry, the other night, "I can't guarantee you'll want to see it over and over again (it's not that kind of movie), but I recommend you see the film at least once." That was all I needed. I headed back into my building, grabbed my iPod and listened to The Killers for the rest of my break, satisfied with my decision.

Ah, logic. Gotta love it.

I mean, really, at the end of the day, they're just...things. In the end, I can't take 'em with me. So, I've come to the following realization: If it bothers me so much to look at them, maybe I should just sell a good 400 of them or, at least, the ones I don't want anymore. I'm thinking that's going to be my endgame: sell what I want, save the money and use the small fortune I make to help take me to greener pastures (i.e. Minneapolis, the Phoenix/Scottsdale area in AZ or Philly). If there's one thing I'm beginning to learn, it's this: if you want to be happy, then be happy.

In other words, if getting rid of the things that have caused as much grief as happiness--in this case, DVDs, not unlike the weed--is going to improve my quality of life, then so fuckin' be it, man!! Who cares if it goes against what everyone thinks of me?! So what if it cancels out all of the wasted time and effort I put forth in building that monster movie collection?! This is my LIFE!!

I mean, for as long as I can remember, I've been The Guy Who Knows All About the Movies or That Guy Who Has All the DVDs. Hell, for years, I would feel like I had to justify myself when people would get irritated with me for making everything about movies. I'd say something like, "Hey, that's just me!! I'm the Movie Guy!!" I'd wear the moniker with pride. And while that's still part of who I am, I have to believe that I've grown up and have become more than just The Movie Guy.

As time has worn on--especially these last few months--I've come to realize that no one should ever be boiled down to a simple nickname.

Really, we are worth so much more than that!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

These Are the Days...

You know, I wish everyone could have a day like the one I had today. There aren't too many where I can just say it was perfect, but was just that. It was perfect.

Granted, I'm running on less than five hours of sleep (no wonder I'm so happy!!), but today, I awoke with an extra spring in my step. I got ready for work, ate a nice breakfast (Raisin Bran...yes, quite possibly the most boring breakfast cereal in the world, but hey...if Mikey likes it--wait...wrong cereal. Nope. You were right. It is world's most boring cereal. Hate away.) and I got into work early, only to find that my work station had been decorated by some of my friends and co-workers. Not only that, but a (belated) birthday card had been placed on my desk filled with birthday wishes from nearly all of my peers. There was absolutely no white space left. It was filled up. this point, y'all know I'm an emotional guy, but that card hit me deep.

Later on, I made a play date with my friend Christina for next Wednesday. I'm going to cook that Mexican dish I wrote about last week. It will be interesting to see how that works out. Her gas stove is way cooler than my electric!!! The thing is, it's been a long time since she and I have hung out together. Way back in the day, we would get together all the time. Then we had a bit of a fallout. Little by little, I'm starting to learn that my oversensitive nature has the tendency to piss a lot of people off--and rightfully so. Somewhere along the line, I must have forgotten to read the memo that no one likes a martyr. Like I said, I'm learning, but education can be really expensive!! Anyway, yeah...I'm a happy camper. She's like a sister to me and it will be good to spend time with her.

After I left work, I picked up two quarts of Chinese white steamed rice ($4.28?!?! Are you fuckin' kidding me?!?! It's RICE!!!) to go with dinner. Once that was taken care of, I grabbed "Children of Men" at Hollywood Video. I'll get to that in a bit.

Finally, in keeping with my new tradition, I made dinner for my lovely and amazing friend Tina. Before I forget to mention it, she bought me some gym clothes for my birthday. They're frickin' sweet!!! Finally, a pair of shorts that doesn't show off my package in an embarrassing, entirely unintentional way!! I'm movin' up in the world people!! Woo-hoo!!

The dish of the evening was Chef X's Almost General Tsao Chicken recipe. I'll be honest, I was scared shitless about making it. I mean, it calls for so many ingredients!! Plus, things, like, have to boil and simmer!! How the fuck does that even work?! For me, this was
absolutely a trial by fire. I didn't call anyone for help. It was just me, a pot and the good General Tsao.

And ya know what? It was easy. I didn't have any problems handling the chicken, this time around, I followed the directions nearly to the letter and it turned out beautifully. When I had previously asked Chef X about how long it would take to make, she said it took her about an hour from start to finish. That was pretty much right on the money with me as well. It was so delicious!! Hell, I'll even pull a Rachael Ray (and I can't stand that broad!!): It was YUMMO!! Plus, unlike last week, my dining companion really seemed to appreciate the meal (Derek later spilled the beans--yes, pun intended--that he wasn't a huge fan of the magical fruit...might have been nice to know before I made it. You'd think the whole I'm making a bean dish would have set off some alarm bells, but alas...). She even asked for the recipe after we finished. I was super jazzed about that, thank you very much!!

I will admit, though, that I think I should have doubled the amount of ingredients and chicken, because when it was all said and done, there wasn't a lot to go 'round.
As for the white steamed rice, only one quart was needed--not two ($4.28!!!!)

Oh! As an appetizer, I also served the last little bit of Asiago cheese dip that I made, last Friday. I served it with cut-up pieces of toasted French bread with a little olive oil drizzled on it. OK...Chinese food and Asiago dip...I get's a weird combination, but no one can fault me for wanting to be eclectic.

After dinner, Tina and I adjourned to the living room and watched "Children of Men." It's a great movie; one that has a lot on its mind. The long tracking shots are some of the most haunting pieces of cinema you'll see any time soon. And Clive Owen? The man is just the perfect antihero. He just smolders in the film and yet, he brings a ton of vulnerability to his role of Theo. Check the movie out. I can't guarantee you'll want to see it over and over again (it's not that kind of movie), but I recommend you see the film at least once. It's amazing. You might not get the fuss at first, but it really does stay with you.

Once Tina left, I took the movie back and picked up some more green onions to make another batch of the Asiago dip. See, my best buddy Justin is coming over tomorrow night and I promised the man we'd have some wine, bread and dip (what can I say? We've gone metro!). So, there I was at midnight...making dip. Wow!! If someone told me six months ago that I'd be mixing mayo and sour cream into the wee hours of the morning, I would have though that they were stoned. Of course (hehehe!), if it had been six months ago, they probably would have been, as would I. My, how things change!!

And so, here I am, writing this blog entry. Listen, as you may have come to realize by now, this is not the style I normally write in. In fact, people who write the events of their day like a friggin' boring-ass journal entry make me wanna puke. Today, though--today is diferent. For the first time in years, I didn't think to myself, did I make it?! To those who read this, it may not seem like the most exciting day, but when life can be so complex, melodramatic and oppressive that it's sometimes hard to get out of bed to face it, it's nice to know that the little things still matter.

Today was the kind of day that makes one smile and look forward to tomorrow...

Saturday, March 24, 2007


I was sitting in my car at 12:01 on March 24. Today. My birthday.

No, this isn't me twisting or exaggerating the truth around for the emotional impact of this particular blog entry. It really was 12:01 on my dashboard clock. Kate Bush's "This Woman's Work" was playing on my stereo and then it happened...


I want to take you somewhere very personal in this entry. I want to take you to a different time and a very specific place. It's the night of November 18, 2006. Last year. The place is, well, inside my shower (try and block out the imagery, people). I'm standing silently, hands splayed against the cream-colored tile wall, while a cascade of water pelts me from the side. It is there that a single thought will change everything for me: I want to start my life.

See, up until that point, as I've mentioned in past blogs, I was smoking pot and, well, just doing a lot of other stupid stuff. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed it all. It's part of my life and what's done is done. No regrets. But let's think about it for a second: It's pretty pathetic when the highlight of your entire week is waking up and getting blitzed out of your skull on Saturdays while watching movies alone in your dark apartment until bedtime.

Up until November 18, that was pretty much my life. I was a broke pothead living paycheck to paycheck with an impulse control problem, buying DVD after DVD (think something around 4-5 a week) with reckless abandon.

And then, one night, I took a long, hot shower. I entered as one person and exited as another, new and free. I gathered up all of my pot paraphernalia (i.e. pipes, one-hitters, bongs...everything) and threw it all into a white plastic trash bag. I put my shoes on, grabbed a jacket and headed toward the dumpster. Once I reached it, I looked at the garbage bag filled with things that had, up to this point, been so important to me. It was a bag that represented so many great times, so many memories. I took a deep breath, closed my eyes and heaved that motherfucker into an abyss of rotten food, old magazines and fecal matter.

Somehow, I managed to walk away smiling.

Next, I took my glass container of some of the finest sticky bud you can get your hands on and shook its contents out and into the toilet. I had a mission and I was not about to deviate from it. I flushed the toilet. No,
I won't lie to you. That was hard!! And yes, I waved goodbye as I watched the last bits of herb flush out of my life. I haven't smoke marijuana since that night.

The day after Thanksgiving, I was helped out financially by my parents--it was an early Hanukkah present, my mom said--and by about two weeks later, I was back in the saddle again.

But I still had unfinished business.

To use a line from Good Will Hunting, I had to go see about a girl. You see, earlier in the year (around July), I had met this gal on J-Date (a Jewish dating site) whom I found to be kind of intriguing but also kind of weird since she had this odd thing against using a phone. We chatted a few times and we seemed to click pretty well. Unfortunately, I ran out of money and had to cancel my premium
(read: paying) membership. Stupid me. I forgot to get her e-mail address. What's worse was the fact that I could see that she was e-mailing me all along through J-date, but I was powerless because I couldn't contact her due to the fact that I was, well, broke as a joke and I couldn't afford to pay the $34.99.

Long story short and without going into detail, once I finally got the scratch from my parents (they will never, ever know how grateful I am and always will be for their help and support), I contacted this girl again, we hit it off and became involved for a while and several wonderful memories were made. But alas, it didn't work out. It happens. It sucks, but it happens. For the last month, I've been a raw nerve, emotionally. We've tried to do the Friend Thing, but that might not work out either. Everything is up in the air, at this point. For once in my life, I might have to learn to let go. I will say this, though: I discovered something inside myself during the time that we were together. I became a different person, a happier person--the best person. If it can happen once, it will happen again.

But really, it's just been one helluva year, with so many different experiences.

I lost one of my best friends for five months only to have her return as unexpectedly as she left. I will admit, during the time that she was gone, I was miserable, wondering what it was that pushed her away. I'm thankful that I can say it's water under the bridge. I'd like to think we're better friends than we were before. I honestly don't know what I'd do without her. I'm lucky to have her and my nephew in my life.

And then there's Norman. I met him a little over ten and a half years ago. He was the kindest, gentlest, most wonderful man you could ever meet. He was 85 when he died, about two months ago. He was the grandfather I always wanted. He may never have known this, but I loved him dearly, with every fiber of my being. I'll never forget him. Even when he wasn't making me laugh out loud, the man always managed to put a smile on my face. Norman, I wish I could say I learned a lot from you, but you gave me books to read and all I did was look at the pictures.

On a more shallow note, I got a new car (alright, alright,'s a lease!), a new cell, a new laptop, and an iPod!!! Plus, I've gone wireless in my apartment!! I'm proud to announce that I have entered the modern age, people!! That's certainly worthy of a hip-hip hooray in my book!!

I've started writing again, thanks to this blog. I feel more confident, more inspired with each new entry. Soon enough, I will start to re-apply myself, career-wise, and with any luck, I'll be where I want to be. After that, things can only go up. If I let them, that is. I'm starting to realize that I have a lot more control over my life than I initially thought. That has to be a good thing, right?

Look, good or bad, this has been a year of losses, gains, growing up, wising up, romance, redemption, light, darkness, happiness, depression, strength, weakness, empowerment, friends, family, life and death...


...So, there I was, sitting in my car, on March 24, Kate Bush singing her heart out, and then, suddenly, I was overcome with this huge wave of emotion. It's like someone injected me with a syringe full of all my memories as a 25-year-old: The happiness, the laughs, the pain. And I just started crying. I cried harder than I've cried in a long, long time. This lasted for a good 30 seconds. It couldn't have been more than that, really. Unlike most other times when I cry, though, these weren't tears of sorrow, but tears of joy. It was then that, after 26 years, I finally realized...I love my life.

When I finally got out of my car at 12:02, another thought crossed my mind, not unlike the one that hammered itself home in my brain when I was taking a shower on that seemingly ordinary night in November:

I still have so much to do.

Friday, March 23, 2007

The Writer's Curse

It's not easy being a writer. I marvel at how some people can just say what they want to say--no problem, no hesitation. I wish I could be like that. There are so many times where I wish I could just say what I wanted to say--right then and there--and not have to resort to a computer keyboard or a pen to say it. It's not fun. It's not nice. It's not attractive. And yet, there are things that just need to be said in any way, shape or form that you can communicate them.

Today, I wrote something that wasn't easy for me to write. At all. In fact, it broke my heart to write it, because I never thought it would get to the point where I needed to say it.

While honesty truly is the best policy, sometimes, the truth just really fucking hurts.

And it hurts everyone.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The Pampered Chef

Let's get this little tidbit of info out of the way: I eat dinner at my mom's every night. No, this is not an exaggeration. I eat at my parents' house every single night. Well, OK...on Saturdays, I give mom a day of rest from me. Hell, even G-d needed a day off, right?

The sad thing is, three years ago, when I moved into my own place, for the first, oh, week or two, I was a cookin' fool. I mean, I went grocery shopping, I made some pretty cool pasta and chicken dishes and then...well, let's just say that H-Def's grocery lists and recipes went--how do I put this delicately?--up in smoke. Yes, once again, Hal's Stoner Phase comes into play again. After that, there was no more olive oil or ravioli; no more grilled chicken. No more marinara sauce and Parmesan cheese.

But let's just face the facts alright? Cooking had never been my thing anyway. Then again, neither has muti-tasking. I like things done, one at a time. It's just the way I am. I mean, the idea of stirring, slicing, and heating shit, all at the same time, is stressful enough--in my mind anyway--to make a blood vessel burst in my eye. Making a three-cheese, cream cheese omelette's really the best I've ever been able to do. Don't laugh, though. I make a mean fuckin' omelette (secret ingredient? Basil leaf)!! And ladies, just think: This is what you could be waking up to in the morning!! Am I a catch or what?!?!

So, needless to say, tonight was a big night for me. It was the grand re-opening of H-Def's Kitchen. I cooked this tasty-as-hell Mexican chicken and bean recipe that was passed down to me from a chef extraordinaire named X.

Let's rewind just a teensy bit. On a whim, last Thursday night, I went grocery shopping. What can I say? I just felt the urge to do something constructive with my time. Who'd a thunk it, right? Afterward, I felt even more inspired. It was then that I swore to myself that this upcoming Monday, on my day off, I was going to MAKE breakfast. Not instant oatmeal. Not raisin bran. A real home-cooked breakfast.

So, on Monday, I made myself that omelet mentioned earlier, some toast and I washed it all down with some OJ. It was better than any breakfast I'd had in years. Yes, it was even better than leftover Chinese on Sunday mornings--good times!!

So, I thought to myself, if I can do this, why can't I make something else? What's holding me back, right? So, with that, I asked Chef X for a recipe to start me on my culinary journey. She answered with only this: "Make this. This is good."

So wise is she.

Mexican Chicken and Beans

1 lb chicken breast strips for stir-fry
1 package (1.25 oz) Old El Paso® taco seasoning mix
1 can (15 oz) Progresso® black or pinto beans, drained, rinsed
1 can (11 oz) Green Giant® Mexicorn® whole kernel corn with red and green peppers, undrained
¼ cup water
Tortillas, if desired

1. Spray 10-inch skillet with cooking spray. Add chicken to skillet; cook over medium-high heat 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until no longer pink in center.
2. Stir in seasoning mix, beans, corn and water. Cook over medium-high heat 8 to 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until sauce is slightly thickened.
3. Serve with tortillas.

So, it was supposed to be an easy dish. Nothing that would "break the bank" or cause too much stress in its preparation. Yeah, look whose blog you're reading. Yeah, you got it: World's Biggest Freak.

Let's start out by saying, I hate handling raw chicken. It's disgusting. It's wet, slimy and it makes my hands sticky and all ooey-gooey. However, chicken was what X's recipe called for, so chicken it was!! I chopped the chicken up and neatly placed the strips into the pan. I was good to go.

But WAIT!!! What about salmonella?! Shouldn't I rinse the chicken of its nasty juices? What if I don't and Derek (my dining companion/guinea pig) and I eat it and die?!?! I mean, I saw this episode of "House" where he like pulled a 50' tapeworm out of some chick's gut! Could that happen to me?! That would really SUCK!!!! So, I quickly pulled the chicken out and rinsed it in a strainer. After that, I cleaned the pan to get any of that bacteria-infested juice out. THEN I put the chicken in.

Still, there was some clear liquid floating around. Can't have THAT!! I kid you not, readers, when tell you that I had my own little Buster Keaton silent film going on in the privacy of my own kitchen as I attempted to pour out any excess liquid into the sink without spilling the chicken and burning myself. OK, yeah...It got to the point where even I was finally like fuck it. I'll live. Besides, I'm due for another weekly doc appointment anyway.
The last part was a joke, people, so you can stop shaking your heads now. Thank you!

After about 20 minutes or so, the whole thing was done. Yeah, I did it in my own crazed Hal way, but it was sooooo worth it!! It was delicious, sure, but it was great feeding someone for a change.
That is, feeding someone in a way that didn't involve asking whether they wanted some more Triscuits. Truth be told, one of the reasons I don't usually cook is because after all of the work and time put in, everything gets eaten so quickly. What's the point, right? Besides, it's kind of lonely just cooking for one.

From the spicy Mexican aroma that filled my house to biting into that first piece of (cooked, thank you!!) chicken, this experience filled me with a hope that, even after years of leaching off the parental units' food supply, plus a million more excuses and "I can'ts," it's never too late to start trying. In fact, I've decided to make Tuesday a special night for cooking. That's right, every Tuesday night, I am going to cook a new dish for a special guest (more are invited, too! Y'all don't be strangers, ya hear?!).

As many of you may have noticed, these last few weeks, I really have been trying to see what I'm made of, see what it's like to step outside the big, cozy plastic bubble that has been my somewhat sheltered existence. Now, I know that making one meal doesn't make me Top Chef by any means. I know I'm not the most resourceful person in the world and, yeah, I still have a lot of fears and issues to work on (who doesn't?), but I do think this first step in cooking has made one thing crystal clear:

It's never too late to take yourself off the back burner.

Friday, March 16, 2007

"The Holiday:" Are You Not Entertained?!

So, the other night, after my Moment, I plopped down on my couch and watched Nancy Meyers' ("Something's Gotta Give," "What Women Want") "The Holiday" on DVD. It was light-as-a-feather, clichéd, and and about as predictable as you can get in terms of rom-coms.

And I loved every second of the damn thing!!

The film stars Kate Winslet as love-sick, lonely Iris and Cameron Diaz as the shallow, emotionally-distant Amanda. The simple premise involves the two women switching living spaces on either side of the pond for a two-week, um, holiday. It's during this time, they find themselves and--you guessed it, you cinematic geniuses, you!!--L-O-V-E.

That's it!! That's all you need to know!! This isn't "Memento," folks!!

This should come as no surprise to many people (i.e. The Haters and Pretentious Film Snob types in my life) who know me: I'm a sucker for heart-tugging sentiment ("The Family Stone," "Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants," anyone?), a whore for mindless entertainment (anything from Michael Bay--the director of "The Rock" and Armageddon"--is pretty much irresistible to me. Though, I cross the line at "Pearl Harbor") and indefensible pulp trash (Last year's "Running Scared" was the ultimate example of this and I ate up every single last morsel of it, as if it were my last meal; the year before that, it was Rob Zombie's "The Devil's Rejects").

So, yeah, I like a lot of movies that most critics turn their noses at. Hell, I lost two "friends" for giving the campy--and fun--awfulness that was "Coyote Ugly" a pass, going as far as buying it on DVD, the moment it hit shelves. What can I say? I want to be entertained, dammit!! I know I'm repeating myself when I write this, but I rather be entertained than educated or intellectually stimulated. Personally, watching Cate Blanchett in "Babel" piss herself because of a bullet wound just doesn't have the same emotional resonance as seeing the dowdy Kate Winslet (only in the movies, people!) find a kindred spirit in the portly Jack Black.

Why is it that film critics, these days, have to bash a movie for wanting to do nothing more than give you a good time? I'll tell you: They want to see something that they haven't seen before. They want something that will make them say, "wow! That's so new, so interesting and therefore, so wonderful!!"


As the British say, that's absolute bullocks!! That high-minded, snobbish mentality annoys the hell out of me! See, I've always taken pride in that I'm able to examine each movie at face value. Sure, there will always be movies that resemble other movies (I mean, come on! Everyone knows "E.T." was clearly a generic rip-off of "Mac & Me"). Most movies don't pretend that they are different. Sure, there are bound to be some that, well, suck balls, but it's unfair to punish a movie that is as entertaining, sweet, charming, heartwarming and funny as "The Holiday," simply because it's been done before or that it's not particularly deep.

I mean, what do the critics want? Would they have liked the film better had the emotionally-distant Diaz started making out with the love-sick, lonely Winslet on top of a mountain while they herd sheep?! Ooooh...that would be sooo edgy!!! Maybe shark tooth-grinned Black could whip out a camcorder and videotape the luscious girl-on-girl action a la "Sex Lies & Videotape." How provocative!! Better yet, Jude Law's dewy-eyed single father could pull out a baggie of coke and start snorting it around his utterly adorable kids. The film is so REAL!!

Wait!! OK, yeah, I'll admit it. I'd probably see that film, too. But still...

While it may not be the most insightful, edgy film in the world, "The Holiday" certainly didn't need to be as critically-reviled as it was when it hit the theatres, during this last Christmas season. It was exactly what it set out to be: A sparkling romantic romp about love lost and, eventually, found. What can I say? I was moved. I cried as much as I laughed. The film was just what I needed: Rock-solid entertainment!!

Then again, who knows?

Maybe some sheep really would have just knocked the sucker right out of the park!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Bud-ding Maturity

I had a moment, tonight.

Before I get into it. Please, bear with me and let me give you a rundown of my day.

It was nothing special. I woke up, got into work a little early (9:01, as opposed to my usual 9:06 or 9:07, thank you very much!!). I half-heartedly did my work, stopped at Best Buy to pick up a little Tom Waits, went over to my mom's for dinner (shut up, haters!), watched a little TV ("Lost"...good as ever!) and came home to my lonely apartment. A decent day. Like I said, nothing special.

And then...disaster struck.

I lost the ear buds that came with my iPod. You know, those little white ones that no one really uses but still come with the package, just because those crazy knuckleheads at Apple say to each other: "Well, ya never know...he might need them, one day." Actually, it makes me feel better that I have those guardian angels looking out for me. It's like the techno freak's equivalent to a mom writing her child's name on the elastic waistband of their tighty-whities for swimming day at elementary school. That is, it's nice...but completely unnecessary

So, getting back to the point...

I have, apparently, lost my iPod ear buds. To anyone else, no big deal, right? Well, not for me!! I knew where I put them and I was just pissed as hell that they were not where I knew they were supposed to be: In my room, right next to my laptop. I know, I know...I shouldn't get so angry and frustrated by something I have so little control over, but I couldn't suppress the one thought that kept repeating over and over again in that brain of mine: JESUS BLOODY CHRIST!!! WHERE THE FUCK ARE THEY AND WHY THE HELL IS THIS HAPPENING TO ME?!?! My night was ruined.

That is, until the unthinkable occurred.

After having looked everywhere possible for them, I stood in the middle of my kitchen, running my hands through my hair like I always do when I'm frustrated and at a loss. I was just livid, ready to spit (into the conveniently-placed trash can, of course!!) and, out of absolutely, positively nowhere, I could feel something rise up inside of me. Was it outrage? Acid reflux? What?!

It came as the Shocker of the Millennium when I started convulsing with laughter. I don't know how it happened. I just broke out laughing. I think that after all of the pain and frustration of this last month, my brain finally just said to me: You know what? It's okay. You can let this one go. Relax, breathe and, yes, laugh at the sheer spectacle you've made out of this teeny-tiny little setback, if you must call it that.

Like I said, it was just a brief moment...but it was mine. I know it may mean very little to all of you reading this, but shit...these days? I take what I can get. Moments like that are so hard to come by. I mean, it's so easy to let oneself be enveloped by their own negativity and--let's face it--Drama. Much harder is being able to stop and look inside oneself and ask, In the grand scheme of things, is this really what's important to me? Is this truly what matters?

I know, not exactly the deepest lesson learned. In fact, I'm sure you can turn on any late-night cable channel and hear all kinds of self-help gurus saying the same exact thing that I just said in the paragraph above. The lesson that that I learned tonight, in of itself, is not the point of this particular blog entry. The fact that I learned it on my own, in that lovely moment of mine, most certainly is. The moment also proved to me that there's still hope for me yet.

Still, it would be nice to, um, have those ear buds back.

Little help...?

Monday, March 12, 2007

Shul Ties

Nearly a month ago, I had, quite literally, a Deeply Religious Experience.

I went to shul (a.k.a. synagogue services, for all of you non-Jews out there) with a friend of mine in Minneapolis (yes, you!!) who is far more religious and spiritual than myself. No one knew me there. And yet, I felt far warmer and more welcome in there than I have inside a synagogue in quite some time.

Let's take it back a little. Let me just put it out there: I have never been a religious person by any means. I don't keep Kosher, I barely know any Hebrew and for my parents, it's like pulling teeth when it comes to getting me to go to services, even if it's just on the high holidays ("But daaaad...!!! The Yom Kippur service is, like, a bazillion hours longer than Saturday morning services!!!!!"). After my Bar Mitzvah, when it came to Judaism, I pretty much fell off the radar.

Granted, a few years ago, I tried to regain my spirituality and I showed up for a month or two worth of Saturday morning services. After that, I just...stopped. As sad as this is to say, it was just a phase I was going through. What's even sadder is that I actually really liked going. I felt at peace with myself, for once. Not only that, but people were starting to acknowledge me and grow accustomed to me being there. In a way, I feel like I let them down. Maybe that's one of the reasons why I haven't been back since.

Anyway, after that, despite having Saturdays off for a good year, I can only give one glaring explanation for not going: I was smoking pot. A LOT of pot!!!!!! How could I be bothered to go to shul when the furthest I was willing to go was to the refrigerator for some mad munchy snacks!! That must have been some good,
hallucinogenic green, too, because anyone who knows me knows that I never have anything in my refrigerator!!

Now, let's fast-forward to that moment again, nearly a month ago, where I'm sitting in shul with that friend of mine. I actually felt that peace billow up inside me, once again!! I found myself singing along to the prayers!! I even got to open up the Ark, which I found to be a great honor. It was just a wonderful experience. I'm actually really quite grateful to that person for allowing me the privilege of attending shul with them. It's an experience I won't soon forget.

Since then, however, I haven't been able to get out to my own synagogue in The Big "O." Unfortunately, my work schedule won't allow it. Sure, I could work on Sundays (apparently, it's the other day of the lord) instead of Saturday, but it's laundry day. Go ahead, call me shallow, but hell, even Tevye could vouch for me on the sole basis of it being TRADITIONNNNN!!!!

Still, if that day in shul has taught me anything, there's a spirituality missing from my daily life. I need to get it or, at least, get it back. The question that remains, however, is this: Is it possible for someone like myself, who has never really believed in much of anything--including himself--to find religion?

Why, yes. I believe it is possible and I'm already well on my way.

At that Jewish function I went to, a few days ago, I was having a conversation about Israel. Now, believe you me, folks, when I tell you this: Israel is normally not my usual topic of conversation. And yet, for one reason or another, there I was talking about Israel with the young ladies who organized the get-together. They asked me whether I had been there or not. Of course, I told them the truth. And then they brought it to my attention that there is a program called Birthright, where young Jews, like myself (though, admittedly, I don't feel so young anymore, but anyhoo...), ages 18-26 can go on free trips to Israel. Yes, you read that right: Free airfare, free lodging, free everything (except for shopping and incidentals)!

I was struck with one burning thought: I'm turning 26 in about 12 days. I'm running out of time!!

So, with that, comes my big announcement (well, alright...maybe it's not big to you, but whatever): I have decided to register for the Birthright trip so I can go this Summer. It's not a lot of time and I'll need to work fast, but thinking about it now, this could be the trip--THE SPIRITUAL AWAKENING!!--I've been waiting for.

Besides, at the very, very least, maybe I'll find a nice girl. I hear they've got a great Jewish population over there.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Don't Worry About Me...I'm FINE!!!

So, obviously, I was in a shitty, depressed mood, last night, when I wrote what I wrote. The Question, however, is this: Do I regret writing it?

Well, yes and no.

Truth be told, I did feel a twinge of guilt for inflicting such a heaping helping of Hal-style drama upon everyone and, at one point, this afternoon, I actually considered pulling it. Then a thought crossed my mind: Why should I? If I can't write what I'm feeling and if I don't keep things real and in-the-moment, what's the point? Pulling that blog entry would be going against the one thing I've been saying all along: This blog is for me. Besides, I felt a lot better after I wrote it. It was like giving myself a stiff boot in the ass; a wake-up call, if you will.

At the same time, I wouldn't be surprised if a few people, even after this blog entry, didn't put me on a Suicide Watch list.


Did you NOT see the title of my blog?? There's a reason why it's called what it's called!! Yeah, I'm gonna have days where I want to write a long diatribe about crawling under a rock and why, exactly, Life Sucks. At the same time, if you read the previous blog entry, you'd see that I actually had a really great day, the previous day, and I was actually very positive about the way life is going.

Ups 'n' downs, people! Ups 'n' downs!


On a sidenote: I would like to make a quick little apology to my father. If you are reading this, pops, I love you and I know you were trying to make me feel better when you said that I had "a way about me." I was being oversensitive (hmmm...shocker!!) and I took it the wrong way. Look, it's important for everyone to know that while what I write in this blog is for me, the last thing I want to do is create a sounding board to single people out and/or hurt their feelings. That's not who I am and it's not what I'm about.

So, there THAT is.

Friday, March 9, 2007

The Odd-yssey

There was a time in my life where people would pat me on the back and say, "dude...I may live 100 years, but I will never, ever meet anyone like you again. Ever." I used to beam with pride--even blush a little--when people would say that.

Things change. Apparently, now I'm just odd.

Well, let's face it: I'm this hypochondriac, OCD-afflicted, needy, oversensitive nebbish. And what was once sort of quirky and adorable has slowly begun to curdle into...just...odd. It's getting to the point where, well, it's hard to be taken seriously anymore.

Hell, at the gym today, I even asked my father, " you think I'm...odd?" It broke my heart when he had to hesitate before finally answering: ", um, have a way about you, sure." He said it gently and with the best of intentions, to be sure, and I really tried to not let him see the hurt in my face. Maybe he noticed, maybe he didn't.

Later on, I came across one of the guys whom I met last night at the Jewish 20's and 30's shindig. He saw me, just barely nodded his head at me, and kept right on walking. Was I too outgoing, last night? Do I alienate people by putting myself too far out there, by being too eager to please? I always thought it was a good thing to be yourself, to stick out. Yeah, I understand the concept of the Happy Medium, but where's the fun in staying at one constant level? Booooring....right?

Yet, lately, my quirks seem to be taking control of my life. I'm ALWAYS on: My mind races. I talk and talk and talk without ever pausing. I second- and third-guess every move I make. The other day, I finally confided in a friend that it's just--it's fucking exhausting!! Really, I would just love to have one day go by where I can get through it without having to ask myself...did I make it?! A day where I'm not constantly monitoring my own behavior and I can just be.

So, yeah...maybe I am odd. But is it too late to change? Has it really gotten to that Point of No Return; the point where I just have to move to a brand new city or state to start fresh? To a place where people won't constantly think to themselves the one line that consistently enters the minds of every person I collide with:

"Chalk it up to Hal."

Oh, don't get me wrong...I like me. At least, the person I am at the very core: the sweet, witty person who tries to make people happy. I love that person!! I think that person is the reason why people continue to stick around as long as they do before things become tedious. The rest, though, is just--it's not really who I am. And yet, I've been this apologetic whirlwind of insecurity and self-doubt and self-depreciation--this grotesque, cartoon character version of myself--for so long, is it even possible for me to just go back and find The Real Me?

When exactly is it too late to start over and become the best version of oneself?

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Livestock and Sea Hags and Gnomes...Oh, MY!!!

So, tonight, I went to a Jewish get-together for 20's and 30's--normally, not my cup o' tea. I often feel like I'm one "moo" away from being part of a cattle drive at these things. Sadly enough, that's actually the least of my potential issues at shindigs such as this one.

Normally, at these types of events, or any social function involving new people for that matter, I find myself standing off in a corner, eyes glazed and cast downward, looking somewhat unhappy to be there. In fact, most times, I'd be pretty shocked if at least two or three people didn't make the comment, "ewwww...who had the bad taste of buying that freakish gnome statue over there in the corner!!"

If I'm not huddled in a corner, I'm drinking waaaayyy too heavily for my own good, in order to compensate for my paralyzing shyness when it comes to meeting new people. When that happens, make no mistake, I end up impressing no one, especially when I'm eventually afflicted with that ancient ailment we all know as Beer Goggles and begin making out with crusty ol' Miss Sea Hag at the bar, who's sporting her very classy, extremely fashionable and über-chic "Silly Homos--Dicks Are for Chicks!!" T-shirt and waiting for that G.I. of hers to return home from 'Nam. Yeah, I'd agree: Not my finest hour.

Tonight was different, though.

Sure, I apologized a lot more than necessary. That's a Hal self-esteem issue that I am still trying to work on. But did I crawl into a corner? Nope! I was out and about, talkative and happy to be there!! Did I drink too much? Nah (of course, as I once asked a police officer who pulled my friend and I over, what's a lot?). And I actually did a good job of keeping up with the conversation. In fact, I even managed to control many of the topics we talked about. To you, readers, that might may not seem like a lot, but for was a nice surprise.

Lately, whether it be through the advancement of personal relationships or just motivating myself to try new things, I've been surprising myself a lot. Ya know, there's nothing better in this life than learning that you're made of so much more than what you initially thought. The most gratifying thing in the world is not so much proving yourself to other people, but proving yourself to, well, yourself. At the end of the day--at the end of this life!!--you are only the person you push yourself to be.

Plus, I met some really cool people who actually seem to have their heads screwed on tight. And these days, that counts for a lot. The fact that they're Jewish is an added bonus because I really don't have any MOT (Members Of the Tribe) friends, here in The Big "O."

So, with a sigh of relief I can say that, yeah, tonight was a good night.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

The Art of NOT Letting Go...

Since, you will come to realize, I'm not above using a cliché, here and there, I will go ahead and throw one your way, readers, right off the bat: I've always been horrible at goodbyes.

Even when it came to school, I always wanted to stick around. I never wanted to just...move on. I remember coming home from my first day of high school, crying to my mother, exclaiming "I just want to go back to middle school!!" And briefly, for about five seconds, she was gonna "look into it" (that is, until my dad elbowed my mom and, with a bewildered look on his face, said "you can't tell him THAT!!") Love ya, mom!

When my paper, The Omaha Pulp, shut down, I stopped writing for over two years. In fact, what you're reading right now, as we speak, is probably the fourth thing I've really written since that time. Until now, I just haven't been able to let go.

Letting go: It's never really been my thing, especially when it comes to severing ties to The Women of my past. In fact, it was easier for me to quit smoking than it ever has been to wean myself off those gals. I just can't do it!! The rest of the general population of souls that have crossed my path, problem! LATER, people!! But The Women...

Well, they're different.

Failed romantic relationships be damned, I've never been able to--or willing to, for that matter--cut myself off from them. I've allowed myself to enter into the dreaded "Friend Zone" with each and every one. Truth be told, I think it exasperates the hell out of my friends to watch me go through that awkward, somewhat ungraceful metamorphosis of going from romantic interest to reject to Platonic Guy Friend. After all, why go through it when you can start fresh, move on...right?

In order to make it through this particular change, you have to be willing to do three things. And folks, it's not easy. First and foremost, you must, must, MUST be willing to accept failure. Second, you have to be willing to distance yourself for a while, as hard as it is. Third...and this one is, by far, the most have to be ready to watch them walk away from you and to another.

There is one major reason I put myself through this insanity, people.

The Women of my past are some of the loveliest, most wonderful and giving people out there. They have become some of the best friends a high-strung, neurotic Jewish guy like myself could have. With each and every one of them I share an experience that, good or bad, is mine to learn from and mine to grow from. I have grown so much wiser because of them. Certainly, the initial feelings of infatuation and possibly love that I may have felt, over time, have given way to those of respect and admiration. They have touched my life in the most profound ways--all of them. Who am I to just let go of them altogether? They would never do that to me.

Look, as trite as this might sound, every relationship is its own journey. In every great journey, you're bound to reach the wrong destination the first time around. It happens! But when that happens, the only thing you can do is dust off the map, retrace your steps and hope to find a new route, a new way. And for all the pain and suffering experienced, all the sweat and sleep lost, sometimes you're lucky enough to find yourself in a better place than where you started.

Ya know, I've never understood the phrase "women: can't live with 'em...can't live without 'em." Personally, I think the people who use it have probably never known the kind of women that I know.

If they did, they'd realize that there is only one absolute in that statement.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Cinematic Wrist-Cutting...And How to Stop It!!

Last year, Ryan Fleck's little indie film, "Half Nelson," about a junky school teacher (starring my pick for last year's best male performance, Ryan Gosling) was ranked as number two on my year-end list of Top 10 movies. The movie that beat it for the number-one spot was....wait for it!..."Little Miss Sunshine." Now, which one is the stronger movie is debatable and, admittedly, I grappled with the choice. They're both amazing movies in their own right: All-around stellar performances, sharp, beautifully-written screenplays and sure-handed direction from first-time filmmakers. So, ultimately, what made "Sunshine" take the top spot?

Well, that's easy: In the end, with its positive--albeit twisted--message about family values and hearty laughs, "Sunshine" didn't make me want to slit my wrists the way that "Half Nelson" did!!!

No, I'm not suicidal and no, this blog of mine is not a means for me to write a dark and, yeah, probably long-winded suicide note. On the contrary, I'm just saying that lately, I have trouble watching depressing films that make me want to take a flying leap off our First National Bank skyscraper. It's like, "yeah, just what I want to watch!! Yet another movie that tells me just how shitty the world is and that we're all bad, bad people in need of souls!!!"

I think this trend of mine to only watch happy or upbeat movies started last year when I watched "Magnolia" for the gaziillionth time with my friend, Matteo. Don't get me wrong, Paul Thomas Anderson's brilliant, epic film about the intersecting lives of troubled souls in the San Fernando valley is certanly right up there in the pantheon of my favorite movies.

But let's face it: it's depressing shit.

And there was a time when that would'e been fine, no problem, because I used to love watching depressing movies, but as I've gotten older and lonliness and the kind of jaded disillusionment that seeps in with people my age or older ("I'm never going to find anyone;" "If only I had taken that job;" "My life would have been so much better if...;" "WE CAN'T AFFORD A PUPPY, TIMMY!!") starts to take hold, I've started to realize that yeah, I'll gladly take watching Toni Collette find that nice Jewish boy in "In Her Shoes" over watching the latest Holocaust movie. I'll RUN to the theatre or TV screen to watch the Zach Braffs and John Cusacks of cinema fall in love with the Natalie Portmans and Diane Lanes! Hell, I'll even watch Ashton Kutcher romance Amanda Peet in "A Lot Like Love!"

In fact, to this day, "Forrest Gump" is STILL the movie that I'll pick over "Pulp Fiction." Why, you ask? Well, when I watch a movie, I rather smile and stare saucer-eyed than grimace and cover my eyes.

Now, the movies I previously mentioned may not be High Art for some (Save "Pulp Fiction"), they may not be about Real Life and I'll probably lose a lot of Film Geek cred, but being entertained, these days (for me, anyway), should involve watching something that doesn't so closely resemble the drudgeries of this hard, bleak world we live in.

Re-watching "Half Nelson" again on DVD, last week, made me finally realize something: When it comes to watching movies, I want my glass to remain half full.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

'Zodiac': David Fincher's Own 'JFK' (or...How I Was Finally Able to Sleep After Watching 'Se7en')

Before I get into the review portion of this, well, review, I need to give you a little peek into my fragile psyche, when it comes to the oeuvre of David Fincher. What has become sort of a well-known secret among all of my friends has not, until now, seen the light of internet day. Here goes: Mr. Fincher’s "Se7en" is the scariest movie I have ever seen.

Let’s take a step back in time, shall we?

I saw the director’s second film with my mom and a comrade of mine when I was 14 years old, a wee lad just entering high school. From its grimy-brown cinematography—courtesy of Darius Khondji—and shockingly gruesome murders (how scribe Andrew Kevin Walker managed to complete his script without slitting his wrists first, I don’t know...nor do I want to know!!) based on the Seven Deadly Sins to the slow-building tension toward its tragic and terribly unsettling ("WHAT’S IN THE BOOOOX?!?!) denouement, "Se7en" was a horror movie that I just couldn’t wrap my young noodle around.

And not because the film was too outrageous. If only it were that simple. On the contrary, this movie was too much for me because it was so steeped in its own nightmarish reality. That, and one single fact that seared through my brain: There are people like John Doe (Kevin Spacey, in his least showy performance, but also his downright creepiest! Take that, Verbal Kint!!) who walk amongst us, every waking moment of our day!! And we don’t even know it when they brush by us!! I mean, that’s a helluva concept for a kid my age to grasp!!!

I shuffled out of the theatre with a morose, intense feeling of unease. See, my pops has always traveled a lot on business and, as it happened, he was out of town when we saw this particular flick. Needless to say, I reeeeeaaaalllllllly didn’t have any desire to come home to a dark, empty house with my mom, who’s only defenses against the dark forces of the world were our 15-year-old daschund, Snuffy, and her silly-looking-as-hell mouth piece (hey, the gal grinds her teeth in her sleep!! What is she gonna do, right?!). I went to bed and I lied awake until my alarm sounded off at 6:30am.

This went on for two months.

Yeah, I had an active imagination, back then. I still do. And yet—And YET!!—while it no longer instills the kind of sweat-inducing, profound fear within me that it once did, "Se7en" still holds a place in my memory, if only because it held such power over my life. Enough so, that I have entered each and every one of David Fincher’s movies with a sort of trepidation, as if I were taking one step at a time toward that wobbly edge of a high dive, where the metal bars of safety no longer exist.

Which brings me to his newest film about serial killing.

Late last night, I returned to my lonely little one-bedroom apartment, with much trepidation, after just having seen Fincher’s "Zodiac." I tell you no lies, people, when I write that the fear that "Se7en" held over me returned. But only ever so briefly. For reasons being that I’m older and wiser in my years, I was quickly able to overcome and discard those queasy feelings of dread that I had previously experienced from Fincher’s sophomore film. Of course, it could also be simply because I was able to look past my fears and recognize the film for exactly what it is: Brilliant.

Working from James Vanderbilt’s layered screenplay, Fincher and his crew have obviously done their homework, meticulously reenacting the real-life Zodiac murders in all of their horrific, detailed glory, as well as the recreating the look and feel of California as the famous serial killer butchered his way through the late ‘60s, into the mid ‘70s. In fact, with Harris Savides’ glossy, ghostly and breathtaking cinematography—the first part of the film has, yes, as critics have described, a nicotine-stained tint, while the second half is a little more colorful—sometimes, the whole cityscape seems to become a character of its own, not unlike the gloomy, unnamed city in "Se7en."

The performances are uniformly excellent as well, with Mark Ruffalo being the stand-out as Detective Dave Toschi. He’s so sincere in his performance and so likable that it killed me watching him go through from confident to desperate, as he endured pitfall after pitfall, dead-end after dead-end in the case. His imperfect hero is heartbreaking to watch as he’s left with few answers and countless more questions.

Robert Downey Jr., as chain-smoking, coke-snorting, alcoholic star reporter Paul Avery, is dynamite as well. However, this isn’t exactly a new role for him. No, I’m not referring to the actor’s substance-abuse problems of the past (well, I hope they’re in the past…but ya never know with Downey Jr. I thought he was clean and sober and then he made the decision to star on Ally McBeal….and then I knew his sobriety was too good to be true!! Oops! Did I say that out loud?!). Downey Jr. has made a career out of playing characters with hyper-kinetic, ADD-afflicted personalities, my favorite of these being the gay brother Tommy in "Home for the Holidays." Here, he’s essentially playing a darker, sadder version of the same variety. Don’t get me wrong, he’s stunning to watch in this film and, yeah, I agree with many of the critics that come awards time (gawd! I don’t even wanna think about that, right now!! I’m so award show-ed out!! Uncle!! UNCLE!!!!), he should be up for a supporting actor nomination, but it will be nice to see him play against type in the upcoming "Iron Man" superhero flick he’s signed on for.

As Robert Graysmith, the former political cartoonist who assigned himself to the Zodiac investigation after police had thrown their hands up in resignation as well as the writer of the book this film is based on, Jake Gyllenhaal gives the performance of his career bringing, like Ruffalo, a sincere desperation that, to me, kind of reminded me of Richard Dreyfus in "Close Encounters of the Third Kind."

And then there’s one other actor I’d like to give attention to. Some of you film buffs might remember John Carroll Lynch as Marge Gunderson’s sweetly lumbering husband in "Fargo." Here, his performance of a boogie man in-the-flesh is about as close to banal evil personified as I’ve seen in a movie. He plays Arthur Leigh Allen, the most well-known suspect in the Zodiac investigation and the one that Graysmith and Toschi believed, and this film speculates, was the Real Deal. I still get chills thinking about this actor’s portrayal. It’s damn-near one of the scariest things I’ve seen, brief though his onscreen time might be in this nearly three-hour opus.

Therein lies the one flaw of this movie.

At the end of the day, it’s a nearly three-hour movie about an unsolved investigation and, while speculation can be a fascinating thing, there are times when this movie feels like a three-hour movie. Oliver Stone’s "JFK"—the film that this movie most closely resembles—had the same problem: He made a big, star-studded movie with a lot of theories that may or may not be true. And let’s be honest, here…there’s really no other way for a filmmaker to end a movie like "JFK" or "Zodiac" other than to shrug and say, "well…you be the judge." And that’s fine, but it’s also a little anti-climactic; a bit of a let-down after all the pulse-pounding investigation that has come before it.

The truth is, we’ll never know.

And that’s also why this film is so marvelous. As one character explains, "Just because you can’t prove it, doesn’t mean that it’s not true." It’s the line that sums up the movie. No one—not Graysmith, Toschi, and certainly not Fincher and Vanderbilt—will ever know the real truth. This scary, sad, smart film is about four mens’ desperate, unsuccessful hunt for a killer and the toll that such a formidable task had on their souls.

You know, there was a time when David Fincher was a Director to Watch.

After this, as well as "Seven," "The Game," "Fight Club," and "Panic Room," it seems to me that, these days, he's one of the only filmmakers worth watching.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Welcome to My World...

Hello, Ladies and Germs!!!

I guess the best thing to do would be for me to introduce myself. My name's Hal (I also go by H-Def, Haldawg, Halibut or any other number of nicknames...none of which include Late For Dinner). Here's the deal: I'm a writer. It's what I do and it's really my only discernible talent (seriously! don't get me anywhere near a car...or near a mayonnaise jar, for that matter). But mainly I'm an entertainment writer. I was the Entertainment Editor, weekly columnist (Hal Definition ROCKED!!!) and movie, TV and music critic for The Omaha Pulp, an alternative weekly news rag that went under (not my fault! Pinkie swear with a kiss!!). I'm only letting you know this so YOU know that I know what I'm doing. But not really.

Good. That's out of the way. Now, let me take this time to give a shout-out to everyone; those familiar with me and my style, as well as to those newbies, out there, who will no doubt poop their pants (or panties) when they read my shit and cry foul. For those writing purists, let me make this clear: A lot of the time, I write the way I talk...very Stream of Consciousness. So, now that THAT'S out there, if you want to bitch and moan about the way I write or my style, take a looksee at the little box with the "X" in the upper right hand side of your PC screen and click on it.

Whew! I'm likin' this ALREADY!!!

Annnnnnyway, I've wanted to do the whole Blog Thing (I that supposed to be capped? Eh! Whatever!) for a while, now, but for two major reasons, I have yet, until now, to jump on in. Reason one is because I've been so disillusioned about my paper closing down, I just really haven't felt the need to write anything. Think of it as the Depressed Man's version of writer's block. Reason number two is just that I've been so intimidated by the whole blogging enterprise. So many people, so many little time. I mean, what the hell do I have to offer, right? I'm that Jewish, OCD, hypochondriac guy that falls backwards, onto his ass, whenever people cough in his general vicinity (thank god, I don't get nose bleeds!!).

Why would people want to read this?!

Well, how should I put this gently? This blog is for me. Not you. Me. Don't get me wrong, I want you to read what I have to say/write and I DO want your feedback. I do. Make no bones about THAT!! But that's mainly because I'm my own worst critic and I love it when people talk shit, especially when it's about Yours Truly. Hehehe!!

So, maybe now you're wondering how I got past my Blogaphobia and decided to go to town with my rantings and ravings? Good question! Allow me to answer!!

A couple of nights ago, I was in a really bad way. Really bad. I had a whole bunch of, well, personal shit, going through my head and I just didn't know how to say it out loud. I was going batty, bonkers, and a few other words starting with B. So, I hopped downstairs to my parents' computer (no, I'm NOT one of those middle-aged, sweaty-palmed, balding, overweight, ax wielding freak shows who happen to still live at their folks'. I just happened to be there, alright?! Besides, I'm gonna be 26 in 24 days!!) and started writing down what was in that ol' noggin of mine and guess what! I fuckin' felt so much better!! Imagine that, right?!

So, here I am.

While many of my friends and peers might argue with me, tooth and nail on this, I've always been a better writer than a talker. Ask any of them and they'll tell you that that cat LOVES to do some T-A-L-K-I-N!! But really, writing has always been what I'm good at. So, this is gonna be my blog (yes, you can feel free to say, "well, duh!!") Every night (or whenever I can get to it!!), I'm gonna go Doogie Howser on your asses and write what I'm feeling about anything and everything that comes to mind, whether it be about movies, music or just my weird, out there, SINGLE (just putting it out there for the ladies) my own warped and shattered style. Yeah, I know, it's a glorified diary, journal...whatever you wanna call it. But it's mine.

Besides, it'll probably have lots of curse words, if that's the kind of thing that strikes your fancy. You know who you are.

So, with that, welcome to Neurotica.