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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Growing Up

"It has been my observation that parents kill more dreams than anybody." - Spike Lee

That quote is somewhat true, but I would change parents with adults/adult hood.

When I was a kid, I wanted to be a cartoonist for Disney or comic book artist for Marvel more than anything. I was pretty good at drawing. I took a ton of college audit classes when I was 12-14. I was well on my way.

And then computers came into the world, Pixar took off. Cartoonists were being laid off everywhere and getting jobs designing graphics for companies. Marvel was just about bankrupt.

Even as a young child, I knew my prospects were slim. I was good, but not great at drawing and it seemed the industry was moving toward using cheap Asian labor or eliminating artists all together.

Then as a teenager, I started playing guitar. I soon learned that being left handed put me at a huge disadvantage, I was already behind peers of mine, and I couldn't keep rhythm while playing guitar. My fingers seemed to be much more clumsy that others.

My brief flirtation with the rockstar life style died when I went to college and realized that just about everyone had a guitar. Not only was I not unique for knowing how to play, but I wasn't even in the top 30 percent of song writers.

And now I'm brewing and cooking. I'd love to do it professionally. It's when I'm most happy.

But the realization is hitting me, unless I open my own place, no one is going to bring in a guy that hasn't worked in the industry in almost 10 years at this point.

My knee won't allow me to stand for 10-15 hours at a time. My back isn't going to allow me to sling 50 lb bags of grain across it. It's a young person's game.

It sucks. It really does. I never wanted to become a 9-5'er. Come home, watch TV, repeat.

But I'm coming to terms that likely writing is my defining factor. And I've been doing it more and more.

It's not the worst thing in the world. I like my job a lot. I just don't have a passion for it. But, having this job allows me to pursue my passions. I can buy brewing ingredients because I have a paycheck. I can go and get a full duck because I wanted to learn how to cook it.

I had always hoped that I would be able to make money doing what I want to. And maybe that is still in the future. But, I'm at a place where I'm comfortable knowing that it might not happen.

And don't take this as a declaration of giving up. It's definitely not that. It's more of my readjusting some of my expectations.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Childhood Adventures and the Cell Phone

Last week, Sal and I watched the coming of age classic, "Stand By Me." These are some of my favorite sort of films. Teens going on an adventure and by the end of the movie, they have had a major change in their life.

I started looking for some good coming of age stories like Goonies or Now and Then. I couldn't find much that was made in the past decade. Why is that?

Cell phones. It's got to be cell phones or technology in general. It's also the reason why it's hard to make horror movies work anymore.

If you want to make a story about a bunch of kids that go off the grid on an adventure or a horror movie where a bunch of teens are about to die because they did drugs, you have to spend at least a scene setting up why their cell phone doesn't work, why they don't have access to a computer, and why they don't have a GPS device.

It really takes away some of the magic of these sort of stories. Can we build a coming of age story set in the modern day or will they always have to be set pre-2000?

One of the first novels I wrote in college is going to require a complete rewrite just to account for this. I either need to speak about it as if it were the past or I have to bring cell phones in.

I don't know, this is sort of a ramble. I just feel really bummed out about it. I've sort of been anti-technology the past week or so. Feel like I'm getting sick of it. Maybe this weekend, or even for a day, I'll just turn my phone off. See how it goes.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Being Reflective

I went into my 30th year on this Earth with no grace whatsoever. If it weren't for the beer, I would've spent my birthday rolling around on the dried out grass, in the 101 degree summer heat, balling my eyes out, and in between sobs saying, "I'm not 30."

I still feel like a child most the time. It's a hard realization when I think, "Dammit, I've been out of the safety of school for seven years now. I'm a freaking adult with a mortgage."

But, the thing that makes me feel better, is also the thing that made me feel better when I was 25, and what will probably make me feel better when I'm 40.

It seems like no matter what age people are, they always reflect back 5-10 years as these great years.

Marc Maron was talking about his 40s like that. Chris Hardwick thought about his 30s that way. And I too, think about my mid-20s that way.

To be fair though, if I was still 26 I would still be able to run long distances. (Not that I loved doing that) I would still be able to drink a few glasses of wine without waking up with a headache. I would still have a glorious, non-grayed beard. I could pound a double bacon cheeseburger without the fear of heartburn.

But I would also be making less money. I wouldn't have a majority of the friends I have now. I wouldn't have a high-def TV or be getting ready to go to Europe. I sure as hell wouldn't know how to cook good food. We would still be eating spaghetti and mac and cheese every night.

I guess what I'm saying is, I know there will be plenty of great things ahead. Things that when I'm 40, I'll think, "Damn, 33 was pretty good. And you know what, 36 too."

But as part of that, I need to take care of myself now.

I don't go to the gym because I expect to have a six pack. I go to the gym because I don't want to have a ton of back pain and no flexibility when I'm 60.

I contribute more to my retirement fund than most of my peers. Because I want to be able to retire by the time I'm 70 and not worry about money again.

And I wear sunscreen or just stay out of the sun dammit. It's bad for your skin and eyes. And that glowing ball of death is only poking through our atmosphere more and more.

So live on and look forward people. There's some rad stuff to come.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

True False 2015

Sal and I survived another True False film fest. This year was the biggest bust, but still incredible fun.

Since we're going to Germany, we went with the cheapest pass rather than the next tier up this year. We only booked 7 films before they sold out. And of the 7, only 3 ended up being good. Usually we can queue for other films and get in last minute, but it seems like the festival has become too popular. When we queued an hour before the film, we were still 160 people away from getting in the doors.

It seemed to be a sentiment shared across the festival. We kept hearing murmurs of people saying they were unable to get into films. It's sort of a bummer, but something I've expected for years.

You hear about how nice Sundance once was this small festival in the mountains. Now once a year, thousands of the Hollywood elite attack the peaceful mountain town to pretend that they are being "Indie." We've been going to True False for 7 years, and each year it seemed a little larger. People started coming from further away.

This year, there was easily over 50,000 people in Columbia. And not only were there that many people, but there were definitely more people talking with their nose up in the air.

Among the things we overheard was, "I bought the most expensive ($800 a piece) pass because I like to support the arts." Every time this lady said, "I" she extended it out and turned it into "IIIIIII" with plenty of emphasis on it.

We also heard a developer's genius idea for a business he was starting. "You see, it's guitar lessons with an instructor. You do it over the internet. That way, if you have a webcam, you can hook up with an instructor 24 hours a day. And the best part is, there's no overhead, so I can expand nation-wide immediately." While his friends clapped at this genius idea, I couldn't help but think two things.

1. Not only is this not a novel idea, but the website that I get my guitar music from already offers this service.

2. There's plenty of overhead. Servers, bandwidth, a website, marketing... yeah, this stuff doesn't just blow up.

The time change made things particularly fun. We had a late movie Saturday night and didn't get to bed until 1 am. We needed to wake up by 7:45 am in order to pack our things and make it to our first film.

Our phones updated their time overnight.

I get a panicked wake up from Sal saying it was 8:15. We jump out of bed, throw everything we can into our backpacks, skip showering and head for the car.

As I grab my phone, I notice it says it's 9:22 am, meaning there's no way we make this film. Sal's phone now says 8:22 am. We assume since my phone is an hour later, it updated and Sal's did not. So at this point, we're trying to think of where we want to get breakfast since we missed the film.

Jump into our car, and that clock says 7:24 am. So now we have no idea what time it is. We also can't remember if our car is some sort of smart car that can set it's own time. So at this point, I start driving toward the venue while Sal Google's "What time is it in Columbia MO?"

Turns out, we were only running 20 minutes behind and we made the film.

The feel of the festival is changing. I think that would be overlooked if we had more films. Which next year, we will probably just buy the next tier pass again since we basically ended up spending the money we saved entertaining ourselves with food and drinks.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Envy

I suppose in different situations, some of the other 7 deadly sins might be considered the worst. But the one that seems to rear it's ugly head the most in my life is Envy.

I won an award last year. It's a prestigious award. But it wasn't a hand out. I earned it. I was voted as the recipient by all of technology management. 

A guy on my team lost out to me. The year before, he lost out to another guy. This guy is known to have a temper, but I've never really been on the receiving end.

So this guy finds out that he didn't win the award again this year. I had called him for something completely unrelated... you know... work stuff. He started venting to me about how angry he is, blah blah. I listen for a solid 30 minutes. 

I feel bad for the guy cause he did work really hard this year and the only reason he probably didn't get this is because the person that did, who is on another team, has much more interaction with the Technology Managers. 

I feel bad for him. I tell him so. I offer a little advice, but not too much. This seems more like one of those, "I just need to rant." And then the angry envy monster rears it's head.

So as part of this award, you get your picture up on the wall at Wells Fargo for a year, you get a mug, a cash value prize, and a nice plaque.

So this guy starts saying, "I can't believe I got beat by someone on this team in their first year. Sometimes I think about it and get so angry I want to come over and smash that damn mug. I've been busting my ass for an entire year and have little to show for it. I might as well just coast for now on."

He then spends the next 10 minutes dressing down people on our team, partners or our team, the maangement, etc. I guess sometimes you need to just rant, but it was hard as I like everyone I work with pretty well.

It's an award I won a year ago and somehow this guy is making me feel bad for it?

I guess my fuse just isn't that short. It takes a lot for me to actually flip out about something.

Anyway, I looked it up and stats / project-wize, I destroyed this guy last year. I probably would've won the award again if I hadn't just won it. 

Friday, February 27, 2015

Meeting Famous People

I'm constantly reading stories about how people who have met Bill Murray, Jennifer Lawrence, or George Clooney are completely blown away by how nice and down to earth they are.

But you're more likely to hear about when a football player doesn't tip, or a movie star won't make eye contact, or a rock star asks if you can leave them alone.

It's a weird situation where one person is so excited to meet someone they've only seen on album covers or movie screens. It's like something in their brain shuts down. Usually their brain would say, "that's a stranger, stay away from them." But the excitement takes over and their body moves without permission from their brain. Next thing you know, they have stumbled up to Brad Pitt's table while he's having dinner and they blurt out, "Mr. Pitt, ILoveYouSoMuchCanIGetAPicture."

Now the unfair onus is on the celebrity. They have a few options.

1. "Please, I'm having dinner. Can I have a little privacy?"

In this situation, they have to hope this this person isn't going to immediately post this to Twitter how much of a jerk they are.

2. They wipe their mouths off, hand the camera phone to someone at their table, and say, "Sure, let's take a picture."

3. They say, "Why don't you pull up a chair? We'll get another glass for wine."

And then they become an internet celebrity for the next 12 hours.

I've only had run-ins with minor celebrities.

I sat right behind former NHLer Jamal Mayers at the Blues game last year. My plan was to let the game end and then ask him for a picture. However, Blues were winning 3-1 going into the third. Jamal sat down and then the Senators came back and won it 4-3. I decided that his time with the Blackhawks was bad mojo and stayed away from him.

The Riddlin Kids and I hung out in Mississippi Nights parking lot until roughly 12:30, cutting my sleep down to about 5.5 hours the night before I took the ACT. Really awesome guys.

I busted my forehead open in a mosh pit in college. As I was heading back to clean up, I ran into 4 members of Reel Big Fish. They actually stopped me and asked what the hell happened and after I flipped out for a few seconds on them, I had them sign a ticket stub. I pulled out this immaculately crisp ticket stub that didn't go with the image of my bloodied head and torn shirt. They were amazed I had kept it that crisp.

I met both Fall Out Boy and All American Rejects when they were openers for punk bands I was seeing. Pete Wentz bought me a beer and Tyson Ritter talked about music and how to record without a major label getting involved. Both incredibly nice people.

The only incident I had that was awkward, is the reason I thought about this blog.

It was high-school. I was moody as hell and loved yelling and being angry. Finch was one of my favorite bands at the time and I ran into 3 of the members at a Pointfest.

My dumb body turned my brain off and I sprinted across the blacktop and ran up to them saying, "Holy crap, you're Finch."

They said, "Yes."

I hadn't really thought about what to do beyond this point so I said, "I really like you guys."

They sort of awkwardly stared at me waiting for the "and then..." from me. But I had nothing. It was spur of the moment. Camera phones weren't a thing yet, so I couldn't even do the picture. So, after 30 long silent seconds, they just said, "Well, we're going to go watch the Used now."

It wasn't until much later that I thought about how much the "celebrity" has to work to make that interaction now crazy awkward. They have to be friendly, in a good mood, they have to have some standard questions they can ask to get a small conversation going.

I feel like I would be pretty good at making the general populas happy. But then there are days where I feel really tired and I just don't know if I could do it.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Candyland

We aren't a very big candy family. Really, we rarely crave any sweets other than ice cream. We crave that pretty often.

But the candy we have opinions about, we have strong opinions about.

I love Sour Patch Kids, dark chocolate, Baby Ruth, and red rope licorice. Sal is really into Dots and Cadbury Creme Eggs. Those are pretty mainstream and I feel like we could both find a group of people that agree.

I also defend candies that many people abhor. Peeps and Candy Corn... both my jam. Love 'em. But comedians and most people seem to really hate them. Like to the point where I fear physical violence from their reaction.

It's not like I melt Peeps and Candy Corn together to make a solid candied ball that can live in my insides forever. They are candies that I appreciate in moderation during the appropriate holidays.

But if you thought Peeps and Candy Corn were crazy candy choices, just wait until you get to my wife.

Sal loves all the candies I tried once as a child and wanted to throw up.

When I was a kid, my cousin Ryan and I took swim classes together. At the rec center there was to this day one of the best stocked vending machines I've ever seen. We systematically went one by one through the machine, buying a few snacks a week, figuring out things we loved and hated.

There were many things that we deemed were either lame or for old people.

The lame category was the mixed bag of peanuts or the normal potato chips. Stuff that either didn't have a ton of taste or were freely given out at all times.

Then there were the candies that we deemed were for old people. Zero Bars, Good and Plenty, black licorice. All disgusting candies that seemingly seem to be inspired by depression years. (After a short amount of research, all of these apparently were created during boom years, so maybe we were feeling too good about things and had to take it down a notch)

There's a Venn Diagram you could make. It would be pointless because it would essentially be one circle that said both Sallie's name and "Old People Candy."

The purpose of this post wasn't necessarily make fun of Sal's awful candy pallet, but was more of a plea not to let any of these candies into our house because they will sit on a shelf, mocking me with what should be a good thing.

But also, yes, I'm married to an 89-year-old man. Next time you see Sal, ask her if she has a Werther's Original in the bottom of her purse, my money is on "yes."