Book Review: What Should I Do With My Life?

February 28, 2008

What Should I Do with My Life?: The True Story of People Who Answered the Ultimate Question
by Po Bronson

Like many of us, the author (Po Bronson) sought to answer this question about his own life. And, like most of us, he had to approach it in his own way. He decided he would talk to people who had answered this “ultimate question” – nine hundred of them, to be exact. He talked to about seventy of them in detail, even lived with a few, and ultimately included fifty of their stories in his book.

Despite the reader’s understandable expectation of an answer to the book’s title question: What Should I Do With My Life? Bronson doesn’t offer any career-guides or self-help advice in this book. That’s important to understand. Any guidance or judgments are purely anecdotal. If you turn to this book looking for clear-cut answers, you will quickly learn that there are none. See this post for more about that. [Read more]

The A-Word?

February 28, 2008

I sometimes think that in another life, I could have been a linguist, for I am always fascinated by language and how it evolves, how certain vernaculars, colloquiums, and slang develop within a area that shares a common language.

You ever heard a New Yorker and a back-woods Georgian talk to each other? Oh, it’s a Bach symphony for my ears.

Yet what I find truly interesting about the evolution of language is how words develop certain connotations irrespective of their initial denotation. This manipulation of these connotations can be a very effective tool in political rhetoric, something of which the Conservative Right have been true masters. It is as if ever Republican for the past sixty years really paid attention when the teacher went over the major themes in “1984” in English class, and so are now putting them to practice. [Read more]

Movie Review: Undertow

February 28, 2008

The notion of the “American Film-Artist” sounds a bit oxymoronic. The independent fever of the late 80’s/early 90’s has subsided into a flurry of productions that essentially share the same qualities as the big major Hollywood studios, only on a smaller scale. Even in the independent realm, films are created with the sole intent of telling a good story, or more importantly, a strong narrative. The screenwriter writes the story which (ideally) has a solid three-act structure, while the director’s main job is to merely “add the pictures.”

UndertowFilmmaker David Gordon Green does more than just “add the pictures.” In fact, if one were to regard his earlier efforts (“George Washington” and “All the Real Girls”), his films are ABOUT the pictures. Green is not so much interested in just “telling a good story” (though he ultimately does so), but rather he seems more drawn to moments, gestures, [Read more]

Review: How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman

February 27, 2008

You might not consider sitting down to read a cookbook from cover to cover, but with some cookbooks you should. Through the onslaught of celebrity chefs, catch phrases and cleverly named shows on Food Network, and the bandwagon jumpers of reality TV competition format TopChefHell’sKitchenAmericanIronChef shows- its good to find out that some people still write down recipes intended for us, the huddled masses, to cook.

I have been a fan of Mark Bittman for some time now, ever since I went off to college and received his first How To Cook Everything. Honestly, Mom, I was a little insulted. “I can cook!” I thought. But with Bittman, I could cook Everything. His first book was incredibly easy to follow, versatile, and allowed me to make a meal out of whatever was crammed in the mini-fridge and some strategically spent cafeteria money. Since that first book, Mark Bittman has entered the realm of the celebrity chef. He has a weekly column in the NY Times and has a show on PBS, but I won’t hold that against him. [Read more]

Review: Radiohead, In Rainbows

February 26, 2008

Immediately hectic and enormously satisfying, Radiohead’s latest installment revisits the bands straight-forward style. But, don’t expect business as usual – this is the most low-key album Radiohead has made to date. While the band is clearly speaking the same sonic language they have spoken since OK Computer, In Rainbows is unmistakably more eloquent. It’s warm and inviting, with a densely layered mellifluous vibe that oscillates in complexity throughout the album’s 10 tracks. In Rainbows is a pretty smooth ride from beginning to end, with the possible exception of the final track, “Videotape.” Although not a rabid fan myself, I know die-hard “Radiohead-Heads” will enjoy what could be considered a traditional closing track, as “Videotape” harkens back to the similarly-styled finale cuts of former Radiohead albums such as OK Computer and Kid A.

Much has been made of the method in which Radiohead chose to release the record. They allowed fans to pay whatever they wanted to download the tracks via the band’s website. As little as $.01 was enough to purchase the entire album, with the only instructions reading: “It’s up to you.” [Read more]

The Right to be Wrong

February 25, 2008

I’ve been thinking a lot about right answers recently. In high school the world revolves around the right answers. We are trained, even before that, that right answers get you ahead. The best perks are saved for those of us who can figure out how to translate their right answers into tenths and hundredths of points of a GPA. Those people are the ones who are going to succeed in life. Or at least that is what we are told.

I chose to go to a college that didn’t have grades. New College of Florida was my absolute utopia for four years and I scoff at the day that I thought I wanted to go to “big state university far from home.” I can’t speak for other people’s college experience, but at least at mine, I started to develop the concept that right answers get you somewhere, but your wrong answers are valuable too. Instead of grades, we had evaluations that told us what we did well and what we could work on. So while I was learning from my wrong answers, the right answers still prevailed as a goal- something to achieve. [Read more]

The Enjoyment of Unemployment

February 24, 2008

The Enjoyment of UnemploymentSlacker, underachiever, no-good, detriment to society, straight up loser; how could someone with any sense of value take pride in unemployment?…well I’ll tell you how.

I’m a twenty-five year old college graduate with a degree in Film and Television. Two years ago I walked across the Graduation stage and took a hold of that prestigious piece of paper. It was my greatest achievement to date (step aside ’93 Little League all-star appearance), and filled me with a sense of satisfaction and success. To be honest it made me a little giddy. I was light on my feet as I walked across the stage. It felt like a pair of hands lifted me across, guided me, and reassured me with their guidance that everything was going to be ok. It was an incredible feeling and one that I’ll never forget.

In six months time those same hands were back but with a little different feeling this time. Instead of lifting me across the stage they were slamming me…in the gut…over…and over…and over…and over. Yes, my bright and shining future had a $100,000 black cloud of debt looming overhead and there was/is nothing to do but take the punches and deal with it. [Read more]

Surfing For Love On The Net

February 23, 2008

Surfing For LoveIt all started shortly after college. I was working a soulless “Office Space” job creating 3D bombing trainers for the military. You know, the type of job that gives you that warm fuzzy feeling inside about your contribution to the world. I had lived in the same general 100 mile vicinity for my entire 23 years of existence. The days of playing Mario Kart all night long while sharing drinks with good friends were becoming few and far between. I was trying so hard not to let the college days slip out of my grasp, but they were already gone. The only responses I received from companies I sent my resume and demo reels to were rejection letters. My last serious girlfriend was nearly 5 years prior and any date since then had been a joke. Maybe it’s because my idea of a good first date was taking them surfing in Florida hurricane swell, rock climbing or to a hard rock concert. The way I saw it, if they couldn’t deal with a little extreme sport action, the outdoors and a good rock concert, we ultimately were not going to get along.

What happened to all of my hopes and dreams? Was the past year an indication of what the rest of my life would become? A lonely one track path through the halls of corporate misery… [Read more]

Marriage: Is It For You?

February 22, 2008

Is It For You?A couple of weeks ago, I attended my cousin’s wedding. Normally, I could care less about weddings, but it was my Italian cousin getting hitched. And every time I get invited to an Italian wedding, I check that “Will Attend” box faster than an overweight ninja on a buffet line. Why?

Because at Italian weddings, you know the food is going to be nothing short of orgasmic. And let’s not forget the plentiful booze.

I know, I know. I shouldn’t reduce such events to superficial elements. Weddings are about two people acknowledging their love and dedication to each other for the rest of their lives. It’s a ceremony of beauty and –

Who the hell am I kidding? 50% of these marriages go down the toilet, so obviously these fools that decide to tie the knot aren’t really THAT committed. Just because they had a delusional fit and buy into this “sanctity” bullshit doesn’t mean I should as well. If you’re dumb enough to get married and pay thousands [Read more]

Is The Bro Still Alive?

February 20, 2008

I truly value my college years, especially during my undergrad in Orlando. My time at the University of Central Florida was one of the most enlightening experiences in my life. Within those four years, I became fully aware of how much I didn’t know about anything, let alone what I THOUGHT I knew about my passions, film and literature. I was so eager to soak in all the knowledge my ripe brain could absorb. I remember vividly driving to school and being excited about going to class; I actually LOOKED FORWARD to school, a sensation I never possessed before. Every semester I made sure that I had one or two film theory classes, a lit class, a writing class, and a philosophy class to keep me invigorated.

On top of going to class full time every semester (including summer: I was, after all, double majoring), I worked part-time as a manager at a video store (an awful chain that rhymes with “Lackluster”). With that kind of heavy workload, I was very particular about how I spent my free time when I wasn’t at school, at work, or doing homework.

My extracurricular activities consisted of: playing trivial pursuit; partaking in Mario Kart tournaments; going to [Read more]

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