19 November 2007

A Festivus miracle.

This past Friday was spent as Fridays are meant to be spent: getting stressed out and then having fun in spite of oneself. I attended the celebration of young Robert's passage into his 23rd year. There were rites and feasting... and by "rites and feasting," I mean "tequila and quesadillas" in Cambridge. Spending time with Wheaties is always nice. One Eye (aka Emily) and I almost immediately regressed back into our symbiotic college-era relationship: she nearly made me snarf frozen margarita and I was her interpreter for the evening. A couple of gems: You made me laugh I was crying so hard! and everyone's favorite, I know that the alcohol is working... because I want to touch people. And a conversation between One Eye and I...

Alec: I have the phrase "a Festivus for the rest of us" stuck in my head. Do you know what I mean?
One Eye: "It's a Festivus miracle." "An aluminum pole - I find tinsel distracting." "WE WILL NOW HAVE THE AIRING OF THE GRIEVANCES!" ...[deadpan face] I have no idea what you're talking about.

After dinner, we headed to Good Times (the formal title of which is "Good Time Emporium.") Senior year, we were dropped off at Good Times as our surprise senior outing. And it was a surprise, alright. The picture above was taken during one of the "Ladies Wrestling Nights" (which no one in our party attended... to my knowledge), but I'm just including that to illustrate its unique atmosphere. What can I say - I went for the birthday boy.

I was rereading Josh Ritter's blog this morning. Obviously, the man can write. Poetry. Prose. What have you. It would be amazing if he wrote a book. Yes. Josh Ritter should write a book. I'm sending this persuasive message through the power of the internet: Josh Ritter - write a book. Anyway, I liked this excerpt from his time in San Francisco, in particular:

...I stepped out into the street, where, wonder of wonders, there didn't seem to be any street. My foot caught on some kind of pylon, and as I fell I noticed that I was falling on to the tram tracks. "How cheesy," I thought to myself. "Dead on the tram tracks." After all these songs about trains, to be wiped out by a train's cousin, no matter how iconic a landmark of San Francisco it is, would be a back-handed irony. I waited for just a moment to get my breath and thankfully there was no tram close by. I got up and dusted myself off and started stating the obvious to passerby as people do when they do things like inexplicably fall. "I fell," I say to a group of Japanese tourists as they cross in the cross walk all around me.

I laughed. And not just because of the irony (though it's rather compelling), but rather because everyone has done something like that. We've all inexplicably explained ourselves to a group of Japanese tourists, literally or figuratively speaking.

For better or for worse, one of my most visceral memories from Firenze was slipping off one of their notoriously steep and slickly worn sidewalks on my way to class, and not predictably, falling all the way down and meeting the cobblestones, but rather, swooping towards the earth in a bizarre serpentine fashion, only to swoop right back up again like a stunt plane at a 4th of July air show while no part of me, other than my feet, touched the (questionably clean) streets of Florence, Italy. I was being followed by a group of young Italian men who laughed at me and earth-bound flight. The irony was that these laughing, grown men were all sporting mullets, tight acid-washed jeans and fanny packs, circa 1987.

But as I fell, I expelled one of the weirdest noises I think I've ever made. And this noise could only be described as a yelp.

Every time I think of that incident, it reminds me of Dave Eggers' "They Learned to Yelp" (here in The Guardian) from his collection of short stories, How We Are Hungry. It's one of my favorites from that collection. It's a relatively strong collection of work, and while I'm not a huge fan of short stories as a rule, I recommend it.

I met Dave Eggers very briefly at a book signing at Brown University this past summer. He was promoting his new book, What is the What? with Achak Deng, the Sudanese refugee whose life the story is based on - an "as told to" situation. Mr. Deng was cheerful and beaming as he signed my copy, happy to do so, and slipped it over Mr. Egger's side of the table. I should say that I really enjoy Dave Egger's work. He's one of my favorite contemporary writers, if not my favorite, and his other projects (McSweeney's and 826 National) are wonderful. Grass roots-ilicious. But I hate those 2 second book signings. You want to tell someone what their work means to you, that you hope they get half as much joy in creating it as you do devouring it... but you're there, with your name Sharpie'd on a post-it note so they doesn't even have to ask how to spell it, and you're left feeling like a jackass because all you managed to blurt out was "you're an amazing storyteller..." though I did sound less of an idiot than the girl in front of me, so I'm glad of that. ("You could get your Masters here at Brown!" He could also get a really good piece of pizza down the street, but that's not why he's here, either.) He smiled and thanked me like he hadn't heard that 6,000 times, and I left Brown's ironically hideous art building with a personalized copy of my least favorite Dave Eggers book (my qualms with the text stem from something that perhaps I'll explain at another time.) You just want to say, "I'm cooler than I'm coming across. Let's get a piece of pizza and I'll tell you my 'yelp' story. Complete with near-reenactment."

Some time this week, being that time of year, I'm sure my dad will hold the annual viewing of John Candy's opus, "Planes Trains and Automobiles." I remember the moment I found out Eryn's dad did the same thing. It was then that I knew we would be friends for a long time.

I did not see "No Country for Old Men," as I have been dying to, but thanks to a loud Starbucks employee this morning, I now know how it ends. I'll still see it, but talk about rubbing it in my face. But I revisited "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" this weekend. I somehow always manage to forget exactly how amazing that movie is. I always say it one of my favorites, but it still gets me every time I watch it. It's beautifully shot and directed; the writing is different and new, but not, for lack of a better word, polarizing. Strange and wonderful. My kind of movie.

"I wish I had stayed, too. Now I wish I had stayed. I wish I had done a lot of things. I wish I had... I wish I had stayed. I do."

Have a Happy Planes Trains and Automobiles day and may your babies not come out siiiideways.

1 comment:

Eryn said...

i laughed so hard and "gratefully" at your Planes and Trains (as my dad calls it quote) about the temp being one.

steve martin says it with such a deadpan face...it's great.

the part that always gets my dad the most is when steve martin gets stranded on the runway and then verbally assaults the plump lady at the rental car place.

which reminds me, Avis really "f&*#ed" us over on our Thanksgiving trip.....rental car places over thanksgiving SUCK!

Car Rental Agent: [cheerfully] Welcome to Marathon, may I help you?
Neal: Yes.
Car Rental Agent: How may I help you?
Neal: You can start by wiping that fucking dumb-ass smile off your rosey, fucking, cheeks! Then you can give me a fucking automobile: a fucking Datsun, a fucking Toyota, a fucking Mustang, a fucking Buick! Four fucking wheels and a seat!
Car Rental Agent: I really don't care for the way you're speaking to me.
Neal: And I really don't care for the way your company left me in the middle of fucking nowhere with fucking keys to a fucking car that isn't fucking there. And I really didn't care to fucking walk down a fucking highway and across a fucking runway to get back here to have you smile in my fucking face. I want a fucking car RIGHT FUCKING NOW!
Car Rental Agent: May I see your rental agreement?
Neal: I threw it away.
Car Rental Agent: Oh boy.
Neal: Oh boy, what?
Car Rental Agent: You're fucked!

i know you can hear the cheesey 80s music as he's walking to the rental counter with the scariest look on his face ever........and esp when he whips off his tie.......classic!!!