Archive for the 'Essay' Category

Essay, Movie

When Imagination Can Harm

It’s not uncommon for children to develop an imaginary friend. Perhaps you had one, or maybe a sibling did. I don’t remember having one, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t. My sister had one, she named her Sarah and my young mind assumed it was the triceratops from The Land Before Time. Apparently the only Sarah I knew when I was younger was a cartoon dinosaur. Young life is so awesome.

For the most part people grow out of their imaginary friend, or they get help in moving away from them, or they pretend it’s just their way of organizing their thoughts and that it’s absolutely normal. Or they never outgrow this friend and you probably passed them on the street this morning. Ok, not everyone who keeps their imaginary friend becomes a raving lunatic. Some people are fairly functional members of society. I haven’t met any of these people, but supposedly they exist. Whatever the case I am fascinated by the concept of adults with imaginary friends and what that means. Using three great works of cinema, I’m going to delve more into the made up friends of adults. Continue Reading »

Essay

The Strangeness of Being Earnest

In recent internet news, everyone lost their minds over a review of the Olive Garden in Grand Forks, North Dakota written by an 85 year-old woman named Marilyn Hagerty. Like anything found on the internet today written without a trace of irony, to many people this review reeked of parody. Surely no one could write such a sincere, effusive, and praiseworthy review of a chain Italian restaurant without coating it in about eight layers of winking irony and flawless deadpan. This had to be one of Conan’s writers, right?

Nope. This was just the food critic of the Grand Forks Herald giving her honest to goodness opinion of “the largest and most beautiful restaurant now operating in Grand Forks” a month after it opened because “the lines were long in February.” We all know no one can be serious anymore, lest you get mocked mercilessly for having a real opinion about something, so I’m not here to pile on that stale eulogy. I’m more interested in this question: What does this mean? Continue Reading »

Essay

My Renewed Disdain for the Urban Hippie

(Hoo hoo hoo! Looks who’s back! That byline is correct. We told you this anniversary would be special. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome back to the Cru Jones Society: Senor Limon!)

Those who know me well can attest to the fact that for many years the two things I really despise in this world are hippies and babies.  They both smell bad, they’re incapable of cleaning themselves, neither have jobs and they both basically sit around all day doing nothing with some kind of entitled expectation to have everything they need in the world provided for them.  I suppose that if I had to choose between living with a baby and living with a hippie, I’d probably choose the hippie because if I neglected to take care of a hippie and it died, I probably wouldn’t have to go to jail.  It would still be a close call. Continue Reading »

Essay

The Big Slide

In the movie Sliding Doors we get to see two possible outcomes to Gwyneth Paltrow’s life based on whether she makes or misses the train.  Nice little commentary about how the slightest thing can alter our lives. Since we don’t live in the movies, we only get to see what happens on the one path we choose and the other can only be left to the imagination. However, there are times when we can get a glimpse of what may have been. Perhaps you run into an ex who has gotten incredibly hot, or the car you opted not to buy is recalled for unexplained fires. They’re not always the most significant things, but they usually stop to make you reflect on the choices you made. I recently had such an experience. Continue Reading »

Essay

Hulk Hogan and Unscripting Your Outcomes

When I was four years old, my parents took me to a WWF house show. This would have been sometime in early 1986 as the main event saw Hulk Hogan taking on King Kong Bundy, which was also the main event of WrestleMania 2. The match hit all the standard Hogan beats – Hogan beat up Bundy for a while – Bundy’s manager Bobby “The Brain” Heenan cheated turning the advantage to Bundy – Bundy beat up Hogan for a while – Hogan looked finished – Hulk up – three punches, body slam to the massive Bundy, big boot, legdrop – posing.

I didn’t quite know that formula yet. I was four. And four year-olds are earnest as all hell. As Bundy beat the tar out of Hogan, I grew very concerned for the health of my hero. I turned to my dad, sitting next to me, and asked very meekly and with genuine fear in my voice, “Dad, is Hulk gonna win?”

My dad considered a moment as he looked toward the ring, looked back at me, and said very flatly, “Yes.” This made me feel better, but the absolute certainty in his voice also gave me pause for the first time in my life. He seemed a little too sure of that answer, I thought. How could he possibly know that?

Sure enough, not more than five minutes later, the Hulkster no-sold Bundy’s “Avalanche” finishing maneuver, wagged his finger in Bundy’s face, dropped the big leg, and posed for the excited Denver crowd.

If I had to trace my career, my two degrees, and the way I view the world back to one moment, I trace it back to that singular response from my dad. Continue Reading »

Essay, Movie

Love Actually And My Changeup

Closing pitcher Huston Street has a habit of keeping the final out ball when he converts a save. Seth Smith was unaware of this as he haphazardly tossed a ball to some fans. Street was downtrodden, but with the aid of technology and social networking a call when out in hopes of retrieving the ball. The fans came forth and were more than willing to give Street the ball. This act of selflessness apparently got to Street as he didn’t take the ball, but rather autographed it and gave to the fans.

I like to think most of us felt some happiness when we hear a story like that. The idea of someone doing something that benefits another more than it benefits themselves is an idea that keeps the world from feeling like a cold heartless place. At least that’s how I feel.

However, if this is true then why does a film like Love Actually, which glorifies selfish behavior and shows the selfless being shit on, tend to make me happy? Continue Reading »

Essay

Where Occupy Wall Street & Millennial Douchebags (Should) Diverge

The view from my office looks right at the State Capitol, so for the last couple of weeks I have gazed upon the vagrant tent city comprising “Occupy Denver.” I find the spirit of this movement somewhat ingratiating and their execution haphazard and mediocre at best. The night the police told them to disperse, I awoke the next morning amused and annoyed by the news report of the evening’s events.

White dudes with dreadlocks stood there yelling at police about how they have a constitutional right to protest their government and the police’s orders to disband were tantamount to tyranny. While it is legal and constitutionally protected to protest the government, it remains illegal to camp overnight in Denver city parks, which is what they were doing. The city has the right to enforce the law, and exercised that right. No one said they couldn’t protest, they just can’t break municipal ordinances. Yet, there was Dreadlocks McGee shouting at the police all blustery about tyranny.

Considering how many members of my generation participate in the “Occupy Wall Street/Denver/Kirk Herbsreit” movement, I’m reminded of how idealistic and driven we can be, but how that drive and determination can turn us into myopic jackasses. Continue Reading »

Essay, Field Trip

Look What Happened

Sometimes I think it seems like only yesterday that I was in high school doing high school things. It only seems that way though. Turns out it was actually like ten years ago and I know this because I have a concept of time and can do simple arithmetic, but also because I just attended my ten year high school reunion. And contrary to what TV has shown me for years, it was not in our high school gym adorn with banners and some shitty band playing all those shitty songs designed to remind us of a time that once was, though Kristatothemax did force the jukebox to play The Darkness, which is kind of the same.

So the reunion was not what I expected. Or maybe it was. I really didn’t know what to expect. So I threw on my letter jacket and headed to the Wynkoop brew pub ready to embrace whichever weirdos decided to venture out as well. Continue Reading »

Essay

Defining What’s Real: Realizing There’s No Definition

“What is ‘real’? How do you define ‘real’?” – Morpheus, The Matrix

No mainstream film of the last decade and a half dealt with the question of how to define reality better, or more extensively, than The Matrix. It took what we saw as fundamental truths about the world and created a universe that turned every last one of them upside down. It subjugated the world as we know it to a world of fantasy, created to nourish the human mind so that our future robot overlords (Who I, for one, welcome!), could continue to harvest us and lord over the world or whatever the fuck (this was the one part of the movie I was unclear on).

While the question of what is real is a fundamental question to humankind and one that has been wrestled with since the dawn of civilization, it’s not one that figures into day to day life for most of us. I probably think about it more than most because I work in a trade where perception is reality, but most of my engineer, geologist, and finance compatriots function in spaces where reality is generally drawn with clearer borders. That’s why it was with great interest (and a note of muted glee) that I was so happy to watch my professional world thrown into minor upheaval, and why I realized the documentary is simultaneously the most powerful and most dangerous form of entertainment today. Continue Reading »

Essay, Movie

How to Make a Movie in 48 Hours

This weekend my friends will make a movie. They don’t know what movie they will make, but they know they will start it Friday night at 7:00 pm, and they will turn it in by Sunday night at 7:00 pm. They can’t tell you what it will be about, where it will take place, or even what the main character’s name is. They can’t tell you about the film’s exciting moments or quippy one-liners. They can’t tell you what kind of movie it is.

My friends are not being coy or difficult. They can’t tell you about their movie because they don’t know anything about it either.

This is the 48 Hour Film Project. And while I will not be joining my friends in their quest for two day cinematic glory this year, I can tell you what it was like last year. Here is the Nebulus Visions / Cru Jones Society story of the 2010 48 Hour Film Project. Continue Reading »

Essay, Movie

The Importance Of Movies

Last summer debate raged over the ending of the movie Inception. I suppose before I go any further I am obligated to inform you of a possible spoiler alert. I will go ahead and just preface this by saying there are several of those throughout this article. Everything I’m going to talk about will be at least a year old. It’s not like I’m telling you how Harry Potter ends (though I’m sure most of you know that), or the big twist in The Zookeeper, or that JT and Mila Kunis can’t just be friends with benefits and end up falling in love. There is a real possibility I am not mentioning anything you haven’t read somewhere else on the internet, but just in case I have warned you and I apologize if I ruin a movie for you.

Now, back to Inception. The end of the movie had everyone wondering if Leo was in a dream or if it was reality. They were picking at every detail to help their case; the house was different, the kids were in the same clothes, the clock read 3:07 which can’t exist in dreams. Any kind of bullshit that helped them to find an answer. All of this bogged down every internet movie site and annoyed the hell out of everyone! Even the film’s writer and director Christopher Nolan who eventually said there is no answer. That’s just the end of the movie. Now shut up. I’m paraphrasing.

I figured Nolan would know what he’s talking about so I dropped it and moved on with my life. Then fast forward to the point when Inception makes its way to my TV and I watch it. I try to just enjoy the story and the amazing effects but I can’t stop myself from picking up little things that may tell me what really happens at the end. I can’t help it. But I’ve noticed I am not the only one. Continue Reading »

Essay

The Loud and the Confused: One and the Same

As I watched the All-Star Game this year – way to go National League! – I found myself thinking about Casey Anthony. It’s not that Casey Anthony was a can’t-miss power hitting 3rd baseman or anything (that would have been awesome), it’s because Tim McCarver and Joe Buck, who are both awful, kept talking about Derek Jeter.

McCarver thought Jeter “owed it to the fans” to show up, tip his cap, and make the celebration of his 3,000th hit a national thing, not just a local one. That’s horseshit. And for several reasons. 1. We all have cable and/or the internet, so anyone who wanted to see it could already watch it in perpetuity over and over again. This is 2010, not 1962 when there were 3 channels and racism was still sort of okay. 2. When have ever had to do that before? I don’t remember having to drop what I was doing to continue to applaud Craig Biggio or Tony Gwynn. 3,000 hits is nice, and quite an accomplishment, but several SportsCenters in a row dissecting it is enough. 3. That means Jeter would have had to fly across the country, continue to get hounded by media, then fly back, and play Thursday. That’s not rest, that’s unnecessary PR hassle.

That didn’t stop McCarver from bitching about it, which led me to think about all the noise about Casey Anthony. People who shouldn’t even have an opinion about it were going on and on, and the dialogue was becoming less and less cogent.

In today’s feature, let’s look at three pressing issues (two national, one personal) and try to figure out what the fuck is going on. We’re squawking, but do we even know why? Maybe, maybe not. Continue Reading »

Essay

The Death of Weird

That Charlie Sheen thing didn’t last long, did it?

From approximately early January (I can’t be certain of the exact begin date considering a search of the AV Club’s archives turns up 164 answers to the query “Charlie Sheen”) when the country learned of Charlie’s crazy substance abuse superpowers, his desire to create a porn family, the tiger blood, winning (duh!), and all the other seemingly unbelievable (read: Holy shit, this is actually happening in reality?!?) until about – what, May at some point? – when CBS announced Ashton Kutcher as Sheen’s replacement on “Two and a Half Men” we were all fully within the crazy Charlie Sheen vortex.

Think about the elements of this story for a moment. You’ve got the star of the #1 sitcom in the United States, hookers, cocaine, Twitter, the president of the #1 network in the United States, something called “vanity cards,” porn stars, an eager public, and professional publicity exploiter Dr. Drew all involved. It’s a huge fucking story, but lasts only 4 months.

Why? Our culture churns and burns this stuff at a clip thought previously unimaginable and turns the page like a meth addict reading a manual on how to smoke meth more efficiently. The Charlie Sheen thing left with barely a whisper about Ashton Kutcher as the new star of the nation’s #1 sitcom, and was promptly shown the door by the revelation that the most recent former Governor of California, not to mention star of no less than 7 movies that grossed over $100 million, banged his house maid, fathered her child that is the same age as one of his children whom he had with his wife, and is currently trying to make some sort of Terminator reboot. This event, it bears mentioning, is greeted with a mere shrug among the people I know despite it being abstractly the biggest political/celebrity scandal in over 10 years.

What’s the point of all this? Weirdness is dead. I am simultaneously shocked all the time, and yet surprised by nothing. Our culture has reached satiation point and there is nowhere left to go. Good luck. Continue Reading »

Essay, Movie

The Last Cinematic Feminist Argument We Should Ever Need to Have

“It isn’t enough for Bridesmaids to be a great comedy; it has to be a comedy that transcends the lady-movie ghetto, thereby becoming the thing to which all lady movies aspire. We don’t have the vocabulary to talk about what it is, so we elevate it into something it isn’t: a paradigm shift, a game-changer, whatever.” – Genevieve Koski , “Why Bridesmaids won’t save the ‘chick flick’ and shouldn’t have to,” AVClub.com

Lady E and I saw Bridesmaids this weekend and both laughed our asses off. Like most of Judd Apatow’s oeuvre, the movie has a laugh out loud quotient higher than almost anything else out there thanks to spirited and inventive profanity, humor driven from fully realized characters, and gross out gags that don’t hold back. Also like the rest of his work, the movie underlines a very sad protagonist that balances the comedy with understated poignancy. Real problems don’t have easy solutions, and the troubles faced by the characters in Bridesmaids don’t resolve easily either.

For as interesting a piece as Bridesmaids is, what I found more interesting was the dialogue Lady E and I had after the movie over giant mason jars of beer. I made the crack that we both should have been wearing our “This is what a feminist looks like” t-shirts while we chatted, but ultimately I came to realize something similar to what Ms. Koski argues above. I have very little distinction between male and female comedy anymore. Funny is funny. And that’s a good thing. Continue Reading »

Essay, Sport

R.I.P. “Macho Man” Randy Savage

When I was a kid, Randy’s Mother (aka Macho Mom) would always make sure that Randy would put aside tickets for when the WWF or WCW would come to Chicago. During a show in 1992 or 1993, me and my brother were actually granted the opportunity to go backstage. For the 6-year-old me, this was the most awesomest thing possible.

I don’t remember what happened during the show, but I do have a vague memory of what happened when I was able to go backstage. I’m not sure of what my expectations were of going backstage, but at that point in my life I was sure of 3 things: Wrestling was 100% real, there were Good Guys who were super heroes, and there were Bad Guys that were super villains.

We were met backstage by some WWF people who were leading us into the locker room area, and we were brought to Randy to say hello. There were a bunch of other wrestlers around, which was really cool but there was one problem: the good guys were hanging out and being cordial to the bad guys! Seeing good guys like Brett Hart sharing laughs with bad guys like Jake “The Snake” Roberts was almost traumatic to see; like seeing your Dad french kiss your aunt. It simply wasn’t supposed to happen.

I was sad, scared and confused. I gathered up the courage to ask why the Good Guys were friends with the Bad Guys. Randy said, “We’re not. We’re just tricking them. You’ll see.”

After this, a WWF rep was showing us some other areas of the backstage. I don’t remember what we saw, but I know when we circled back to the area where Randy was, all of the wrestlers I had seen before were back in character. Bad guys were yelling at Good Guys about how they were going to kick their butt and Good Guys were holding each other back from attacking the bad guys.

This. Was. Awesome. It IS real! Of course it is!

Randy didn’t know me too well, but he cared enough about a young fan and professional wrestling to keep the illusion and innocence alive.

While, as I said earlier, I cannot claim that we were particularly close, I do send my condolences to those in our family who were. He made a lot of people happy.

The above is not my story, but it’s my favorite tribute to “Macho Man” Randy Savage I’ve read over the last four days. It belongs to a gentleman named Adam, who was Randy Savage’s second cousin, and it was sent to Drew Magary of Deadspin who included it in his latest edition of the Funbag

“Macho Man” Randy Savage died Friday of a car crash in Tampa, Florida. This is my tribute to him. Continue Reading »

Essay

How It Feels: The First Tattoo

It’s the Sixth of May and you’re probably asking, “Where the hell is Hart’s annual Cinco de Mustache post?” Well, it’s half-assedly right here. It’s not to say I didn’t grow a stache, because I did and it has driven my female friends away in, well, droves. Keithage’s, though, caught the attention of one waitress last weekend. She wouldn’t leave our table alone, and was all about him while practically ignoring me. She even took his order then left without taking mine. Oh well, it just meant I could watch the hockey game and not pretend I cared about what she had to say.

Anyway, I don’t really know what more I can write about this holiday every year. I’ll start brainstorming and plan something for next year, but for this all you get is that picture above and a song.

I thought I would instead talk about another change my body recently went through. Continue Reading »

Essay

Helpful Tips from your Friendly Neighborhood Burglar

I realize I’ve been wrong. I’ve been myopic in my focus, lacking in nuance in my approach, and needlessly limiting myself to but one form.

Why have I merely limited myself to poking fun at simple relationship articles, when there’s a whole internet full of stupid shit to make fun of?  

And first up: That bastion of delightfully pointless claptrap you don’t even bother to read in the waiting room of your dentist’s office – Reader’s Digest! Continue Reading »

Essay

The Simple Majesty of the Podcast

At the intersection of technology and obsolescence sits the podcast. Without a doubt, the technology of the iPod revolutionized the way we consume our culture in its sleek appearance, easy-as-pie interface, and seemingly limitless storage capacity. The iPod made all technology from the charmingly archaic Walkman, the comparatively cumbersome Discman, and the thoroughly misdirected mini-disc player look like relics from the Temple of Doom.

Yet, what is one of the fastest growing formats played on this tiny little morsel of technology? It’s the most outmoded form of social interaction you can possibly have – a long, meandering conversation with someone else free from interruption, format restrictions, or FCC constraints. A conversation you can have at a pub in 2011, or on the goddamn prairie in 1835. Sure, the content would be different, but the spirit remains very much the same.

The podcast is the perfect marriage of technological advancement and that which we decry is missing from many of our interactions in day-to-day life: real depth, real connection, and real conversation. Technology we blame on alienating us is also bringing us together in unexpected ways. It’s a culture come full circle, and I’m here to tell you why it means so much to me. Continue Reading »

Essay, Nonsense

Random Musings for a Monday Morning

With Food Sex or Cars now in the rearview for 2010, we turn toward closing out the year which means going to some our stock articles until the end of the year. We plan to look back at the year that was, writing one big old obituary for all the celebrities we lost, and tackling once again the red and green menace that insists upon your attention like the demanding mistress it is.

But before we get there – it is only the second week of December after all – here are five random things deserving comment that I can’t figure out how to weave into a cohesive narrative. Continue Reading »

Essay, Internal

How Not To Partner in Social Media

Subject: RE: Guest Post for Cru Jones Society?
From: <edagger@crujonessociety.com>
Date: Thu, November 11, 2010 5:29 pm
To: ___@mydogatemyblog.com

[Name redacted], 

I am not happy with the way this cross-promotional effort has gone. We have been promoting your stuff for a week on our mainpage, our Facebook page, and on our Twitter account. We dressed up your guest post with pictures and the appropriate title.
 
What have we gotten in return? Our post mistitled, buried on the third page of your blog with no promotion the day after it was supposed to run. I have received no explanation for this and can only assume you don’t care.
 
Unless I hear from you by the end of the evening with an adequate explanation for why we have been treated this way, in what should have been a friendly cross-promotional effort, with a plan for recourse, I am publicly going after My Dog Ate My Blog tomorrow and I am going to shame your site.  I will be available by email until 8:30 Mountain Time this evening.
 
Sincerely,
 
E Dagger
Editor-in-Chief
Cru Jones Society

That email was not returned, so welcome to a public shaming. Here is:

How NOT To Partner in Social Media (Or… “How My Dog Ate My Blog Fucked CJS”) Continue Reading »

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