Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The Wingman

It certainly isn't a new phenomenon but for some reason the WaPo decided to run an article about the "Art of the Wingman." The article is very light (and amusing) as it follows around four graduating GW seniors while they scam on women at various DC nightspots. As a complete piece of fluff it should not be taken too seriously but I thought I would chime in since, to me, it painted the role of the wingman as someone who mainly helps his buddies get laid. Not necessarily true. While there are scads of guys using wingmen to score some casual sex (we're all living in glass houses when it comes to that), that is not the ONLY thing a good wingman can or should be used for.

A wingman can also be utilized for less lascivious ends such as simply meeting an interesting female and helping to break the ice. For those of us living in the DC area you can be guaranteed that two subjects will always come up when meeting someone for the first time; where you went to school and what you do for a living. I've lived here for 19 years and I don't know why but this will come up in casual conversation and if you are not blessed with the gift gab and have only these two things to talk about, your job had better be interesting. I would be screwed if I didn't have the ability to ramble incessantly about anything because my job is wholly uninteresting to anyone not in the industry. Remember the scene in Office Space when one of the middling managers is desperately trying to rationalize his position? "I have people skills, dammit!" That's not my job but the sentiment is completely applicable. So if I meet a nice gal and she asks me about what I do for a living, I have to get off the subject within 30 seconds or else her eyes will glaze over and she may go into some kind of unrecoverable coma. I am usually able to talk my way out of a situation like that, but what about the guy that isn't so lucky?

Imagine a scneario where a guy is out drinking with his friends and maybe trying to meet some girl to talk to. (Now I'm not talking about a bar like Adams Mill or the Clarendon Ballroom where your flashy shirt and high B.A.L are all the conversation skills you need but rather a more casual watering hole.) He's a little nervous in this scenario so when he serendipitously bumps into (literally) the girl he's been eyeing all night and attempts to small-talk her, after making apologies for being so clumsy, he very quickly finds himself in the "so what do you do?" portion of the conversation. Now our hero is a little shy so he doesn't really know how to talk his way out of an awkward conversational pause so he keeps going to the well again and again with the "job talk." Compounding matters, this poor bastard has the lamest job in the world like selling fishing bobs or office manager for a car rental agency or anything having to do with AOL. No woman in her right mind wants to listen to that shit for more than a minute or two so if he can't pull the trigger on something a little more interesting, then he is cooked. And that's where the wingman comes in.

The wingman has nothing to lose so he can completely embarass himself by being the Random Conversation Piece in order to help out his buddy. If there's a lull in the conversation and a wingman sees his buddy stalling out he can sweep in and completely turn it around by throwing out a humiliating factoid about himself or positing one of those random questions like, "Who would you rather punch in the face..." It's a little jumpstart that can keep things flowing for a while until the prospective couple find their conversational groove. Now whatever happens next happens, but the point is that the wingman isn't always just there to ward off the fugly friend in order for his buddy to squire away some girl to his shadey apartment. The wingman's task is not always insidious.

Tacking back around, I guess I just wanted to point out that there is a certain nobility to the wingman's craft that the aforementioned article did not touch upon. He plays a crucial role (especially in a town like this) and shouldn't automatically be lumped in with the finger-banging frat boy crowd.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Moving Sucks

Seriously. I cannot think of an activity I loathe more than moving. Well maybe preparing for a move but it's really all the same. I think the act of moving is a Hellenist's worst version of hell; far more terrible than Sisyphus rolling that goddamned rock. Today, my body is in complete breakdown and I consider myself a fairly "in shape" person. I run, I lift, I play sports (is softball a sport?) but none of that prepares the body for the excruciating physical toll of moving. At least athletics mimic real life so the motions one goes through are built into the Grand Human Physiological Plan. But not moving. Nope. Man is not meant to lift, bend, and shuffle like that for six hours. The irony is that I was too exhausted to even sleep last night so I spent most of it lying in bed, muscles throbbing, calculating how many hours it was going to take me to unpack and set up the new joint. The outlook is bleak...

On the bright side of things I finally have a place of my own and I've inched even closer to The Distrcit. When my folks came by to check out the new place my mom exclaimed, "it's so young around here." As in, look at all of these single twenty- and thirty-somethings wandering around. Exactly. By the time several young ladies in mini-skirts had sauntered past the entrance to my building my dad finally realized why I was so incredulous when he suggested I am too old to be "pissing away money on rent" and should instead buy a condo in Loudoun County. Perhaps it is a bit myopic of me to be "investing" in my social life rather than a mortgage and The Future. But I have the rest of my life to be old and eventually move out to the exburbs and die. I'll settle for "living in the now" a little while longer.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Holiday Road

20~30 assorted CD's (titles TBD)
1 case IC Light tall boys
1 case PBR
1 acoustic guitar
1 wiffle bat
24 wiffle balls
Various grillables and marinades
1 air mattress
2 books (titles TBD)

My packing list for the annual Memorial Day Weekend excursion to Lake Monticello. This is one of the best times of the year as 15+ college friends and I descend upon The Lake to do absolutley nothing. There's tubing, beach v-ball, Risk, wiffle ball, Spades, drinking, drinking, drinking, lots of eating, general merriment, and most importantly a whole lot of nothing. This ethos is best exemplified by a comment a friend made to me when upon returning from a boat outting one year he found me in the exact same position on the deck in which I had been left two hours prior: "P, I respect your dedication to leisure."

Goddamn right.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Pop Therapy

Last night I acheived closure. Pretty cool, huh? In fact, I was so proud of this little emotional milestone that I texted a friend telling him so just moments after the revelation occurred. His response was that it's good when one can be "all adult and shit." Indeed. It was an adult-like moment which means I must be coming around. Of course I shouldn't get too far ahead of myself. The one time I recall my friend using the term "closure" was in reference to the death of his estranged biological father. (Real Life) I, on the other hand, used it to detail the conclusion of an unsustainable fling/infatuation the ultimate significance of which may be that it provides fodder for a future Nick Hornby rip-off. (Not So Real Life) This probably goes a long way in explaining why he is making wedding plans and I am planning on going to Best Buy today to purchase the recent reissue of a marginal Dinosaur Jr album.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Riding On The Metro

DC Metro on a Sunday morning is such a good opportunity for people-watching. The mix of riders is usually the same but they never fail to delight and entertain. You've got the over-acheiving brunch crowd looking their cosmopolitan best, the green-horn tourists from the outter limits of exburbia fixated on the metro map and constantly asking aloud "How many more stops?", eager Nats game attendees such as myself hustling to get to the ballpark in time for BP, and of course my personal favorite, the Shame Riders.

The Shame Riders are always sprinkled about the cars with their wrinkled clothes and just-got-fucked-bed-head hairdos. Yesterday, the Shame Riders were represented by one struggling individual I could not help but feel sorry for. He was standing next to me for most of the ride and possessed all of the classic features. Our friend was wearing a suit with just a dirty t-shirt, held a crumpled dress shirt in his hand and cradled a large bottle of Orange Gatorade in the crook of his arm, and on his face wore a weary expression of hungover pain mixed bits of regret and disbelief. He even had the classic Metro Hungover Pose which is executed by leaning against one of the vertical rails, grabbing the nearest overhead rail, and then resting one's forehead against the back of the hand with eyes half shut. I've seen it a thousand times (done it once or twice myself) and it never gets old. It's like a great painting in that with one captured moment it tells you everything about all of the moments leading up to it.

Friday, May 19, 2006


The following is the frankest answer I have ever received from a female friend in response to a question regarding the...complexities, yes, complexities of the female psyche. We hadn't talked in a while and were catching up on things and of course when queried about my love life I turn into the spigot that won't shut off. After positing the standard sweeping "bitter guy" generalization about women (cloaked within a rhetorical interrogative) I get:
Yes, actually, in all honesty, all women our age are slightly crazy.
Conceptions (whether correct or not) that we are really getting old and should
be setteled down by now are in constant battle with the fact that we may not be
ready for that yet. Thus we are constantly walking a tightrope of what we
actually feel and what we think we are supposed to want/feel. Last time I was
home, at least 4 different men asked me if I was worried that I'm not married
yet. This is what I'm talking about. So when considering a new guyat
this point, there is a very delicate balance between knowing that he is open to
marriage as some not too distant point, and knowing that we will also be
guaranteed complete freedom to do what we please (since that desire is why we're
not already married to begin with). Sooooo you see, no one could possibly
give off the vibe that they can guarantee both things and, therefore, the plight
of the 28-year old single woman is to fly from not-quite-right guy to
not-quite-right guy until we totally subcumb to the marriage pressure, have a
complete breakdown and marry the first guy who asks.
To be sure, I think this response has more to do with a degree of exasperation over her current long-term relationship than anything else so I am taking it with a pound of salt. However I was taken aback because usually when I get frustrated about dating, look for reasons other than myself as to why it's so tiresome, and ultimately blurt out "Are all women crazy?" the responses are more along the lines of "You're an asshole" or "Maybe it's the women you choose" or "Your mom really screwed you up."

True, false, or just marginally out of scope I was so happy to read that because for at least a little while longer I can carry on deluding myself and believing the explanation, "Really Jason, it's not you it's me." Of course it is.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Pretty Girls Make Graves

I went to see PGMG at the Black Cat last night and would rate the show as a B-/B. A lot of energy on the band's part but sonically something just seemed to be missing at times. It could have been the mix as I find the Cat to be spotty at times when it comes to sound. (But I still love seeing shows there.)

I was feeling very old man-ish last night because I was tired and really had to motivate myself to get out the door and get downtown. I vastly underestimated the start time and got there way too early as the band didn't come on until 11pm. (As a rule, I generally skip out on opening acts although I did happen to catch this potty-mouthed indie chick, who looked and sounded like she was all of 15, do a weirdly interesting cover of Chris Isaac's Wicked Game. It was like seeing Nabokov's Lolita perform the Marilyn Monroe version of Happy Birthday.) Compounded by the fact that everyone in the crowd, save for an old friend I ran into, looked liked they were in high school, I felt very tired at 11:45pm and split.

I probably would have stuck it out but the set was starting to bleed together. PGMG is a cool band but not all of their songs are very...distinctive. Anyway, I need to get used to aging much much faster than the crowds at the shows I go to.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

The Peach Pit

Recently, a buddy compared our peer group to the cast of Entourage and assigned each of us to the character we most resemble. According to this individual I am "Eric." Mostly, I suppose, because Eric is grumpy, moody, easily set off, and haplessly romantic. Now that I think about it, he's probably right. But this became an even more interesting little exercise because it got me to thinking about how relatable we (my friends) are to other TV characters, especially characters from shows about young (or young-ish) circles of friends. And so of course whenever I wax nostalgically about television, thoughts always turn to Bev 9'er.

During my junior and senior years of college I had the worst class schedule imagineable. All four of those semesters my classes were scattered across the day such that the only way to manage them was to stay on campus from 8am to 4pm every single day of the week. It was awful; it was like having a job. The upshot was that I got most of my homework done on campus during the day so that when I got home each evening I had nothing to do but goof off. So what better way to deflate than by watching two hours of Beverly Hills 90210 reruns. The answer is none, so that is exactly what I did. And in doing so I gained a lot of character insights into the West Beverly Hills High gang that no straight, rational individual should ever possess...even though it comes in handy when typing online about nonsense.

Getting back to the original train of thought, if I were assigned to a 90210 character it would have to be Brandon because his "game" is the only one I could be capable of pulling off. (Early seasons David Silver with his total lack of game may be even more appropriate but I'll give myself tiny bit of credit.) Dylan's bad boy rap would look ridiculous on me as I tend to be a rule-follower. While my rhetoric can be seemingly anti-authoritarian, this is the same person who never missed an 8am class in 4.5 years of college. Not a one because on principle, you shouldn't skip a class. So cutting out of school in my Kelly McGillis Top Gun Porsche to go surfing doesn't seem feasible. As for Steve, he was practically a date rapist in the early years so there's not much of an attraction to that dating style either. That really only leaves Brandon, the upstanding, workaholic, overly courteous, "can I drive you to the malt shop in 'Mondale' the family station wagon," old school romantic. And you know what, it worked really really well for him.

Many years ago, very drunk and very bored, myself and a few other 90210 appreciators (of course appreciated ironically only) decided to tally up all of the tail that the major cast members were able to pull over the seasons. Guess who was the biggest slut by a landslide. Brandon. For all of his nice-guy formalities he was cutting through the ladies faster than Dylan and Steve put together. Perhaps it was all just a scam on his part. Maybe he knew exactly what he was doing. If that's the case, then I don't want anything to do with a dating persona like that. It's too sad and calculated.

I guess therein lies the danger of too closely associating oneself with a TV character. As the seasons pass and storylines become more convoluted, the characters tend to completely flip out. By the end of the show Brenda was gone, Kelly went from slut to militant prude, Donna was far less vapid and even a little bit savvy, David lost his naive innocence and discovered more vices than he could shake a stick at, Steve actually had a soul, whatever nice guy laid beneath Dylan's tough guy exterior was replaced with a complete lunatic, and in the end it turned out Brandon was a big dick.

Completing the circle, I wonder what will happen to Eric on Entourage. I hope he has a better fate than Brandon.

Friday, May 12, 2006

A Sign

When I got home last night a hump-backed cat ran across my driveway. Literally. I think the poor thing had some kind of feline scoliosis or other malady that gave it this huge arching hump in its back.

In terms of omens, I wonder if this is better or worse than seeing a black cat. With my luck of late I doubt that it augurs well.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The Nothing

I've been thinking about writing again. Not just about specifically writing something that may ultimately be publishable (that too) but also about writing in general. What it means, what it takes, what qualifies someone to refer to himself as a writer, and even the worth of it. I don't think I could have been a writer fifty or even twenty-five years ago. I'm no student of literature but that strikes me as a time when all writers had to be well, writers. You had to have an actual story to tell with developed characters and an engaging yet relatable plot. That seems really really hard to me.

Fortunately it has now become quite acceptable to write as non-conventionally and as self-absorbed as one chooses. Call it meta fiction or post-moderen referentialism or whatever but writing a stream-of-conciousness yarn about oneself and jumping in and out of random asides is now book worthy if it's clever enough. It's hard to imagine someone like David Eggers or Chuck Klosterman getting published a generation ago but today people find worth and entertainment in their unique writing styles. And I think we have Seinfeld to thank for that.

The first show about "nothing" proved that talking/writing about nothing could actually open a story up to a whole lot of somethings. The same is true of pop culture. Pop Culture really is about nothing. Taken in a vacuumn, there is no substantive worth to Saturday morning cartoons, Star Wars action figures, Junior Great Books, dodgeball, or any other piece of modern trash culture of a certain generation. But talking about them leads to insights about the person telling the story, or his friends, or his home, or any other intersecting object in his world. It leads to "something." And I think that's cool because I could never write a relatable tale about life in a gulag, or dying of cancer, the French Revolution, or true love. I don't know anything about those subjects and I'm certainly not creative enough to invent a complex allegory relating all of them to Man's Quest For Truth. But I do know a lot about all of the little nothings I taste, touch, and see every single day and how they may or may not be a part of a larger but equally meaningless picture. That I know, and I about that I can at least type.

I guess I'm just glad that people's attention spans have shortened, their tolerance for the weird and random has increased, and that maybe because of Seinfeld I can opine on pop culture, writing, and my personal worldview and tie it all together with a title that is an obscure reference to The Neverending Story. I love the 00's.

Maybe it's my car.

It just occurred to me that the last three times I have been dumped, blown off, or stared over the precipice of a terminating relationship I have been sitting in my idling automobile. Each and every time, I was dropping off some young lady at the end of the evening and listening to disquistions on the Need For Space or waning interest in further my car. And now in a desperate attempt to convince myself that it can't be me that's the cause of these relationships that burn out like sparklers I've come up with a new hypothesis; maybe it's my car.

Is it possible that my vehicle has some hex, or bad juju, or simply was not manufactured for sustaining a relationship in the metro area? It beats the hell out of the alternatives. Let's look at some of the evidence. I drive a Jetta which on numerous occasions I have been told is the automible of choice for high school cheerleaders. Strike One. The soundtrack to every one of these little epsisodes is the sad-bastard indie rock that's always spinning on my car stereo. Strike Two. (Though in all fairness, what girl wouldn't be creeped out by hearing Teenage Fanclub's "Ain't That Enough" three times in one night.) When the weather is warm I refuse to use the A/C and instead drive around with the sunroof open and all the windows completely down (except for those goddamned kiddie-proof windows in the back) with the wind whipping into the cab competing for audio dominance with the stereo. Strike Three?

Maybe it's not the specific car, but just me driving a car in general. If that's the case then I'm fucked. I'd love to start walking everywhere but the DC Metro area has me over a barrel on that one. It's too big and there isn't sufficient public transportation to get me everywhere in a timely fashion. I'm one of the few people lucky enough to live within walking distance of a metro stop but odds are any woman I meet is not. Having her pick me up at the "intersection of Wilson and Highland at the top of the escalator" would more than likely doom any first date. Bicycling is out of the question as I have made fun of way too many people on bikes and the ultimate irony of me pedaling down the street could be potentially lethal. Cabs are pricey and as inefficient as the metro given the sprawling landscape of the area.

I don't know. There aren't many alternatives but I might have to give the boot to the theory that my car is screwing up my love life. It looks like I have to own a car in order date and the car can't be the cause of my dating disasters because there's no way I've done anything in life bad enough to be stuck in that sort of Catch-22. So the car isn't my problem. I'll have to come up with something else because it sure as hell can't be me; I'm charming as fuck.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


I've been inspired, but have yet to flesh it out. The Fight Club Theory of Dating. More to follow...

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Han fires first!!

I just received the best news I have heard in months, maybe even years. In the middle of the second game of a softball double-header last night, my budddy called me up to tell me that Lucasfilm Ltd. has agreed to finally release the Original Star Wars Trilogy (unaltered, non-special edition) on DVD. To quote Napoleon Dynamite, "yessssssssss."

For the uninitiated (those of you who aren't as patently pathetic and lame as myself), the original trilogy was re-released in theaters in 1997. The films were labeled "Special Edition" because George Lucas had gone back to the original film stock and digitally restored it so that it finally brought to life the grainy VHS versions so many of us had been lugging around for years. However, unbeknownst to most fans during the run-up to the theatrical release, Lucas decided to digitally alter the original films and make what he thought were "improvements." Would Van Gogh ever go back and touch up the Mona Lisa? No, because why mess with perfection. Well George Lucas in all of his megalomaniacal glory had no such reservations and added new non-sequitur scenes (in all three films) to show off the expanding digital capabilities of Industrial Light and Magic, changed the music during the Ewok Celebration at the end of Jedi, and in the most blasphemous of sins altered the Cantina showdown between Han Solo and bounty hunter Greedo.

In the original release, the film immediately establishes what a badass Han Solo is by having him casually blast Greedo, mid-conversation, while sitting in a booth after realizing that the bounty hunter was either going to rob him, kill him, or both. For unfathomable reason, Lucas opted to digitally alter this scene for the "Special Edition" to have Greedo fire his blaster first and then have Han shoot him in an act of self defense thus completely altering the tone of his character. It was one of the worst things I had ever scene and since that time Lucas has maintained that the "Special Editions" represent his ultimate vision for the films and that the original versions would never see the light of day on DVD. Well all that has changed.

We are finally going to get what every dork has dreamed of for years; the greatest film experience in modern history in pristine digital format in all of its original unspoiled glory. Is this a big deal? Yes, it is fucking huge. For a generation of dorks who grew up ensconced within the culutre of Star Wars, it is such a releief to have a beloved character returned to his rightful place as the baddest muthafucka in the galaxy. (Yes, even badder than Boba Fett.)

Wednesday, May 03, 2006


And people think the Red Sox were cursed. How can one franchise be so fucked up?

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Let Down

So for some reason I felt the need to take a jab at Radiohead in my previous post. I really dislike them due in part to the fact that I used to like them so much. I still do like them, or rather I still like an era of them. My window of Radiohead fandom runs from Pablo Honey all the way up to track 5 of OK Computer. And it pretty much falls off the map from that point on.

It is therefore a little bit ironic that one of the last times I got high, so very very long ago, Radiohead played a prominent role. For several reasons, actually one overarching reason, my dalliences with drug experimentation never made it past smoking a little weed in college so I remember some of those occasion quite vividly. One in particular involved smoking way too much, coming home to eat a peanut butter sandwich and half a bag of BBQ chips, and then locking myself in my darkened bedroom where I had programmed my stereo to play "Subterranean Homesick Alien" and "Let Down" over and over again while I laid in my bed. I thought that was just about the coolest thing ever and for 90 minutes it was.

College was a long time ago and now I hate Radiohead for several reasons, actually one overarching reason, but I still listen to those old albums and fondly recall days gone by.

I hate metal...

...but I dig Tool. Their new album drops today and I cannot wait to pick it up. Two of the best shows I have ever seen, and we're talking a LOT of shows, were the two Tool shows I saw on the Lateralus tour. I'm not into metal and generally hate any show held in an arena or "civic center" but wow. Really good stuff.

On the hater end of things, I read that the most pretentious and self-absorbed band on the planet (Radiohead) has announced a North American tour for the summer. Who cares?