Big Wednesday, my friends

“…in the old days, I remember a wind that would blow down through the canyons.  It was a hot wind called a Santana, and it carried with it the smell of… warm places.  It blew the strongest before dawn, across the point.  My friends and I would sleep in our cars and the smell of the offshore wind would often wake us… and each morning, we knew this would be a special day…”

So begins the opening credits to Big Wednesday.  A rite of passage movie about friends and friendship starring Jan Michael Vincent, Gary Busey (a precursor to him becoming crazy), and William Katt (pre Greatest American Hero).  I can’t remember the first time I saw this movie, I just remember always loving it.  It captures that spirit of friendship and youth and the love and loss that is so powerful when we are experiencing the world for the first time.  Careening through life without a governor, without rules, and without caution.  It speaks to the way we come to understand what being a friend means.  What it should mean.  What it doesn’t.  At one point in the movie, Jack Barlow (William Katt) reluctantly partakes in a toast with his estranged friends.  “What are we drinking to?” he asks.  Bear (Sam Melville) touts,  “To nothing but your friends.  To your friends come hail or high water.”  It is the toast, the mantra of friendship. that brings a smile to Barlow’s face and reunites him with his dear friends, Matt Johnson (Jan Michael Vincent) and Leroy the Masochist (Gary Busey) in spite of their checkered history and old wounds.  It’s a universal theme.  If it were a beer it would be called St. Pauli’s Girl.  Cuz you never forget your first.  And those childhood friendships stay with us too don’t they?  They become the standard.  The nostalgic weight.  The classic memory.

And for me, as I follow the myriad of friends Facebook says I have and the myriad still outside the social media realm, I can’t help but get a little nostalgic about the ones who shaped and molded me growing up.  We’ve all got at least one that pops in our head even now as we ponder… The one who got in to trouble with us.  The one who dared us and we did it.  The one who pulled us back from where we didn’t need to be.  The one who dragged us where we thought we didn’t want to go.  Yeah.  We’ve all got at least one.  So let me just say ala the Bear, “To your friends come hail or high water!”  And with those words let new friends be included as well.  The ones who are there for us now as we live in our day to day.  The ones who know the value of a true friend because they remember their own impressionable moments once upon a time ago.  The ones who know who they are even as they read.  Am I getting too… sentimental.  Maybe.  But the truth is, friends are found in the most sentimental of places.  Right at the heart.

Super Tuesday – It’s not Clark Kent’s Birthday

Ever take a random sampling of news stories?  Proceed with caution should you choose to do so.  Every time I do I am reminded why I loathe the news.  It’s depressing.  It’s sensationalist.  It’s delivered with intent.  To sell itself.  To be viewed, read, observed, seen, ingested, and absorbed by the masses.  To what end?  Sometimes I’m not sure.  To inform?  To report? purports the following mission statement: “the central purpose of journalism is to provide citizens with accurate and reliable information they need to function in a free society.”  If this is true, please tell me how Lindsey Lohan’s rehab trials or Rush Limbaugh’s diatribes are better helping me function in my free corner of the US.  Please remind me how all the back-stabbing, side-swiping, slandering, issue-skirting, and general “campaigning” taking place in the race for the presidency is helping anybody move toward a better functioning country?  Forgive the rant, but it’s hard for me to even care about things in the news anymore, even something touted as super.  Yes.  Super Tuesday is today, which basically means we find out exactly who’s going to be front and center in our nations race to back-stab, side-swipe, issue-skirt, and campaign for president.  Why do I care?  Won’t the newspapers and e-zines tell me exactly why I should care and what to care about anyway?  It’s like the assumption is that we’ve all lost the ability to decide how we feel.  As if we’re all sitting around saying, “I’m not sure if I agree with that yet, because Wolf Blitzer and Anderson Cooper haven’t told me what to think on that particular issue.”  I think I’d rather get my news from Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart.  At least they are open and honest about the fact that our nation’s political – dare I call it a – system, is so effed up that it has become pure entertainment.  And I’m sure that’s not all it’s capable of but still… It is  Entertaining.  Us.  Like a big variety show talent contest full of dog and pony acts or perhaps I should say Ass and Elephant skits.  Would anyone even flinch if Simon, Paula, and Randy started doling out the criticisms following the presidential debates?  We could call it American Idle.  Where the candidates talk and the country idles…  Ok, I guess it wouldn’t be the Idol folks anymore.  So it’d be Christina and Cee-Lo and Adam.
Still, no one would bat an eye at the amalgamation of politics and entertainment because that’s how it’s been for a while.  Otherwise how could Bill Maher still have a job? But surely I digress.  Journalism’s first obligation is to the truth.  Maybe we should say a prayer for the journalists out there or simply say good luck to the ones trying to siphon through all the BS spewing forth on the campaign trail.  I’m not taking sides.  No need to.  It’s coming from all sides and our country is neck deep in it, but honestly, can you think of a worse responsibility than having to determine what is true and what is just strategically planted BS by the other side to help boost polling numbers?  Super is the last word I’d use to describe what our political process and procedure has become, which is why there’s so much entertainment value in it.  A vicious, beastly, merry-go-round. Which begs the question, who or what would you describe as super on this Super Tuesday of Tuesdays?  For me, I think I’d have to start with Clark Kent, because the truth is, our country could use a little help from Super Man.

I do.

Remember your first few days of college?  I do.  I was a freshman at UC San Diego.  I was entirely too cocky, and fairly sure that all the movies I’d seen about college were true.  And then she walked into my dorm room, said hello, and walked out.  I married her six years later.  The rest is… meant to be, confusing, fulfilling, frustrating, gratifying, reassuring, happy, sad, misunderstood, scary, incredible, indescribable, crazy, exciting, anxious, angry, painful, beautiful, sleepless, everlasting, unsure, wonderful, heart wrenching, heart pounding, heart felt,…

Is it possible to feel all of that at once when you look at someone?  The truth is… I do.

Open Letter to the Man Upstairs

Dear God,

Thank you for 80’s movies and Pop Rocks.  Thank you for the nineties so we could all un-peg our pants.  Thank you for Mr. Pibb and his courage to be satisfied with a masters degree.  Thank you for mullets because we like to laugh at pictures of ourselves posted on Facebook.  Thank you for Facebook.  Mark McDonough likes this.  Thank you for love songs like Tesla’s Love Song cuz darlin’ we’ll find love again, I know.  Thank you for peanut butter and the dogs that get it stuck in their teeth.  Thank you for Hermione Granger because she’s the one that figured everything out in every Harry Potter book.  Thank you for quiet moments interrupted by SBD’s because really they’re funnier than the unexpected loud ones, though maybe not as much as the ones that want to be SBD’s but get too excited at the very end and make that little put put sound.  Thank you for chocolate bars melted in diapers at baby showers.  That’s just weird and gross and hilarious all at the same time.  Thank you for friends who’ve got your back, every time… even when you’ve been bitten by a rattlesnake on the ass and you need the poison sucked out.  Thank you for cozy socks.  Not because I wear them but because seeing my wife wear them makes me feel… well… cozier.  Thanks for Mona Lisa’s smile.  I think she’s smiling about the SBD she just let slip and everyone is about to catch wind of.  Thank you for wind and not being able to see it, but to see its effects… kinda like you…  Thanks for clearing up misunderstandings so that no mother is ever murdered by her child because said child is told by papa to go aks mama.  Thank you for Lucky Charms.  They truly are magically delicious, like when a mother takes a bite of strained peas and says to her infant child, “seee?  mmmmm!  yummy.”  Thank you for do overs.  You know how much we need them.  Thanks for laughter.  Thanks for second chances.  And thirds.  And um fourths.  Thanks for unconditionally loving me.  Thanks for being patient and kind and never failing me.  The truth is, I could learn a lot from you.

Much love,


Sincerely Yours, the Breakfast Club

Every once in a while a movie phrase pops in my head, or a song quote or even a joke and I do my best to filter it before it manifests itself in casual conversation… for example, when somebody gets up from a chair in the room or from the table in a meeting, I inevitably channel John Bender from Breakfast Club and have an almost touretic urge to cry out, “How come Andrew gets to get up!  If he gets up, we’ll all get up, it’ll be anarchy!”  Whoa to those at the table who don’t get my Breakfast Clubisms,
but I really can’t help it.  I’ve been doing it since high school… just ask Andrew Alvarez from GHS.  Alright, that may be a little vain on my part to think he would remember, but then again it’s been twenty years and I still can’t keep myself from doing it.  Half the time I give in to the urge to call out.  I succumb to my tics.  The other half… the tics swell as though full of non-sequitor, type-A plasma drawn from the proverbial blood bank of movies, TV shows, and songs in my brain.  And when they do burst it’s oh so satisfying, like a popped pimple that’s splattered across the freshly windexed mirror.  Some are of course more satisfying than others.  I list a few of my favorites down below.  There is one, however that has never satisfied, and yet it pops in my head almost daily.  It’s another John Hughes quote (man, the guy was a genius when it came to movies) and it’s again from Breakfast Club.  I include it below for reference, but know this first.  As I type out the quote, the sense of un-relief builds relentlessly, for you see, the quote is a joke told by Judd Nelson’s character John Bender as he crawls through the duct work of the ceiling to distract himself from the precarious situation he’s put himself in.  He crashes through the ceiling before he ever gives the punchline:

John Bender:  “Naked blonde walks into a bar, poodle under one arm, two foot salami under the other.  Bar tender says, “I suppose you won’t be needing a drink.”  Naked blonde says… ” ?  ”

What does she say?  What.  Does.  She.  Say.  For the love of God, John Hughes, please tell me what she says.  I swore I would ask him one day, but then he died.  Please tell me the hidden punchline didn’t die with him?  I like to think that somebody out there knows how this joke finishes.  I know there are a few out there who could finish it on their own and write in their own punchline.  I beg you all.  I implore you all to give me the answer or at least post a comment with an alternative.  I like to think the Naked Blonde says, “Oh shit, I forgot my pencil.”  Why, you ask?  Because those are Bender’s next words in the movie so that’s all I’ve got to work with.  Do you have better?  Yes of course you do… please, tell me.  But still, if no one dares to project their own quirky humor into a feasible punchline so that I might find some relief then I’ll just have to go to plan B which is to see Mr. Hughes when I die.  Although even then, I picture him as difficult to get a hold of, so I’ll have to write him a letter asking for the punchline.  His response will of course be written in a letter because I’ll have given him a SASE – Self Addressed Stamped Envelope – to ensure he doesn’t slight me ( I guess my version of heaven is wanting when it comes to accessibility to celebs)  My favorite part will of course be the answer I’ve been waiting on for twenty years now.  That wonderful and mysterious punchline.  Because the truth is, we all need punchlines in life, no matter how long we have to wait for them.  Life’s just too…

I forgot to mention, my second favorite part of Hughes letter will be when he signs it.

Sincerely Yours, The Breakfast Club.

A Few Favorite Quotes for casual conversation:  Please share some of your own.
That kid’s getting on the escalator again! (MallRats)
Bird is the Word (song by Surfin Bird, Ornithological quote by Peter Griffin from Family Guy)
I am Gladiator (Gladiator)
Dishes are done!  (Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead)
Look at the brain on Brett! (Pulp Fiction)
Do you have any idea how disrespectful that is!  (Weird Science)
Damn Gina! (Martin)
And the List (Beat) goes on Dahda Duhm Dah Duhm Dahda (Eminem, Lose Yourself)

Words and Music:

Words and Music: A Little’s Enough.

Words and music… they go together.  They need each other.  That’s what Eddie (Michael Parre) told Word Man (Tom Berenger) in the movie Eddie and the Cruisers.  Perhaps they do go together… like driving in the car and singing out loud.  You know you do it.  The question is with what words and what music?  And yes, I’ve had Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” blasting in the car.  I’m man enough to admit it.  And when it happened just that one time on that totally random day (I swear) … I owned it baby.
But today it was Temple of the Dog and I was on a Hunger Strike.  Oh yes.  And I sounded good.  Eddie Vedder good, and I don’t care what the carload next to me thought when I turned and saw them laughing during my Chris Cornell Falsetto… I looked them in the eyes and belted it out! “I’m going Hungryaaheeeyyyyyeeeahhhh!”  Ok, maybe I’ll stick to the lower register from now on.  But really it doesn’t matter how I sound, because in the car with the radio up, I always sound good.  And so do you.  And it’s in those moments that the lyrics have a tendency to sneak up on us and we suddenly hear them in a new way that is unexpected and it changes our perspective on the day, or on a person, a friend, a spouse, a child.  Yeah.   It’s happened to you.  And today it happened to me too.

The Band: Angels and Airwaves.
The Song, “A Little’s Enough.”
The Lyrics: Sorry, I have to say it but you look like you’re sad, Your smile is gone; I noticed it bad, the cure is if you let in just a little more love, I promise you this; A little’s Enough

You see, the truth is, you’re gonna be in your car riding solo soon enough.  And you’ll find a song that makes you think of someone or something that matters (because words and music do that), and when you do, you can keep the song and the emotion to yourself by locking it back up in the car or you can take it with you when you get out and remember that it’s not that much of a stretch to go from keeping it with you to sharing it.  It’s just a question of who you share it with.  And well, if you do share it, I promise you this, a little’s enough…

Why we should care about the Oscars and All Star Weekend

Meryl StreepTonight belonged to the Oscars and the NBA All Star game.  The Artist won best picture and the West won by three with Durant winning MVP.  Streep won best Actress and Bryant surpassed Jordan for most career points scored over thirteen All Star appearances.  Wow, Meryl is a good actress.  Wow, Kobe can play.  Can you hear my sarcasm?  Not to say that Streep isn’t arguably the best actress of all time or that Kobe isn’t possibly the greatest basketball player ever to play the game, but really, when I   wake up tomorrow it won’t have made a difference in how my day plays out.  Not this time.  Not in a long time.  How sad right? All Star Game  Because if it’s not movies and basketball or books and music or work and cooking shows… then what is it that keeps us caring?  I say us, because we all get disenchanted.  Don’t we?  Is it just me?  Why should we care so deeply about the moments in a film or the physical efforts of a game that happen in our absence, that are forgotten in spite of us being there to witness them?  Why bother with the red carpet or the All Star weekend at all?  Why should they matter in the least?  My answer simply is because they foster moments of greatness and moments of greatness remind us of who we can be.  Of who we want to be.  And if in those moments we can catch a glimpse of what motivates us in our own lives then perhaps we just might have a better day tomorrow, with a better outlook.  And every once in a while, don’t we need just that?