Welcome to a collective of my thoughts, ramblings, writings, musings, and whatever-the-hell else I feel like broadcasting into the vastness of the world wide web.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Summer Movie Season Kickoff: IRON MAN 3

It's the summer movie season! Oh man. I love this time of year. I'm sure there are film purists out there who shy away from the explosions and fight scenes and broad comedy that typically fills the summer movie offerings, but not this guy. I love big blockbuster entertainment. I love it when it's good, I like it when it's ok, and when it's really bad I just don't see it.

The summer movie extravaganza kicked off early this year with Iron Man 3 a couple weeks back. Being as it just rolled past the BILLION DOLLAR mark I assume you've all seen it. I was fortunate enough to get to see it opening weekend with my dad while he was in Austin visting from Alaska. He was confused by the plot and a bit bored with the constant special effects, but he claims he still liked it. I enjoyed it quite a bit. I have long been a fan of Lethal Weapon and Last Boy Scout, which were written by Iron Man 3 writer/director Shane Black. I'm also a diehard fan of his 2005 'comeback' film Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, starring Robert Downey Jr. and Val Kilmer (Tombstone, Heat). His signature brand of hardboiled tough guy dialogue is laced with an edgy and sardonic wit, and it seems tailor made for the mouth of Downey Jr. Here in the Marvel world the edge is toned down ever so slightly, but I was still very happy with what ended up on the screen, and especially the way Black subverts several movie cliches. Having Tony Stark call a young kid a 'pussy' because he's sad about his dad dying was dark, startling, funny, and very Shane Black. Longtime fans of Black will be happy to see that this film takes place at Christmas time.

I'm going to get into the villains a bit here, so if you're one of the 14 people on Earth who haven't seen Iron Man 3 yet, and you also happen to read my blog, which has to be like, 1 in a hundred billion odds, then stop reading now. What was with the Mandarin? That was kind of fucking stupid, right? Understand, I'm coming at this from the perspective of somebody who's never read an Iron Man comic. Didn't know anything about the Mandarin before going in. However, if I had read the comics, was a fan of the character, I think I would have been pretty goddamn furious that they turned such an allegedly iconic villain into a joke, a B-plot that amounted to little more than the great Sir Ben Kingsley (Ghandi, BloodRayne) hamming it up in a waste of a brilliant actor. That aside, what they DID get right was casting Guy Pearce (Hurt Locker, Time Machine) as Aldritch Killian, the real villain of the film. Let it be known that I'm biased to start, as I've been a huge fan of Pearce since I saw Memento in 2001, which prompted me to go back and check out L.A. Confidential and Ravenous, and I've been on board ever since. I've long been waiting for him to get a juicy role in a big movie, and although I would've loved to see him as the Riddler in a Nolan Batman, he absolutely makes the most of his role here. He's great when he's playing it suave and slick like a Bond villain, and he's great later on when he gets a chance to be brutal and savage, going head to head with Iron Man. Also worth noting is James Badge Dale (24, Shame) as the main henchman, a mercenary of sorts that works for Killian and has been dosed with a weaponized experimental treatment that gives him crazy fire-powers. His stony face, cold eyes, and seeming invulnerability made him a suitably intimidating adversary. He had the kind of presence where you knew shit was about to go down if he showed up.

I realize I haven't said much about Robert Downey Jr or Gwenyth Paltrow, but what is there to say really? Downey Jr. basically is Tony Stark at this point, he's as good as you'd expect him to be in this. Paltrow spends most of the movie tied up in a sports bra showing off some legitimately impressive abs, but gets some time to shine late in the third act. Don Cheadle proves once and for all that he deserves his own Iron Patriot spin-off movie. As much as I love Terrance Howard, Cheadle truly makes the role his own this time around.

Ok so that about wraps it up for Iron Man 3. I thought it was good, I had my nitpicks, but all in all it was a fun time at the movies, and what the hell else do you expect from a movie about a billionaire playboy who flys around in a suit of armor and fights supervillains. Well done Mr. Black and crew.

Going to see Fast and Furious 6 on my day off tomorrow, will try and get a write-up of that on here as soon as I can.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Lead up to the Texas Exodus

Four days from now I leave Bend Oregon behind me. On some of my ventures, such as Chico, San Jose, and Colorado, I've left with the intention of coming back here at some point. It's my homebase, the Gotham City to my Batman. This time it's different though. This is more along the lines of the infamous Los Angeles move of 2006. There's no plan to return, no backup, no fallback, just the road ahead and whatever that may bring. Success, failure, whatever it ends up being I've no doubt it will be spectacular in fashion.

I really wanted to fly. I think that would have been amazing, and so fitting with growing up in Alaska with a pilot for a father, flying literally everywhere, even to school. Wasn't in the cards though, so I moved past it and started weighing other options. I already had this forward momentum, I'd already given myself the push, I just needed to find another avenue in which to put forth my efforts. So I did a mental inventory of the things I love, to see if perhaps one of them would hold some monetary benefit for me. After heartbreakingly realizing I would never be a professional Call of Duty player nor a high paid Wet T-shirt contest judge, it seemed so simple. Film, movies, television, documentaries, MEDIA. I've loved movies since I was a kid, and beyond just enjoying a good film, I started getting into cinematography and editing and all the behind the scenes processes at a young age, finding it fascinating. So, film school entered my brain as a possible outlet.

Now I just had to figure out where. Well, if you are going to study film and try to get involved in the industry, there's a few standard places to get your education, being Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, and San Francisco. I'm sure there are good film schools elsewhere, I'm just pointing out the hotspots. Then it hit me, what about Austin Tx? I'd been reading about it for years on the various nerdy film sites I frequent, and it seemed to be a film geek mecca, so I put in some research. The more I read and viewed and talked to people, the more I became convinced I could do well there. They have a thriving film community, with festivals such as SXSW taking place there annually, and many filmmakers are choosing Austin as not just a place to shoot and produce, but to live and work there as well. So I found a school that offers a DVCP (Digital Video Certificate Program) thats been around for a while and is respected as well as connected to the film community in Austin. I went down mid May with my sister on a scouting trip, spent a week taking in the city and the people and the school, seeing how everything fit. It was awesome. Despite the trip itself being a nightmare of everything going wrong, the city still shone through at the end of it all as a place I could see myself waking up everyday. Not to mention Austin is one of the 'most tattooed' cities in the U.S., and many waiters and servers at upscale restaurants and bars had hand and neck ink as well as plugs, so getting a decent job shouldn't be a problem. It's a friendly, laid back city, like a really big Bend with more culture, or parts of East Portland. Oh, and their city motto is "Keep Austin Weird"...serendipitous huh?

Four days from now I leave Bend Oregon behind me. There's so much to miss I can't even list it all here. I'll try to write another post, a Bend retrospective, but it's all going to be so fresh and raw I don't even know if I'll bother for a while.

Austin Marsh is coming with me! The WeezIll, one of the original Weirdie Five, has decided that it's time for him to leave Bend for new and different things as well, and when he heard me talking about ATX he said "Why not." Or something to that effect. So that's pretty awesome, even more so because it's so easy to make Austin-Austin jokes. I'd be doing this even if I was doing it solo, but I can't lie and say it doesn't feel a hundred times easier to be doing it all with one of my best friends by my side, helping watch out for my dumb ass, a cross country wingman.

Get ready Texas, Austin is about to get a lot weirder.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Six's Cinema HitList; Spring 2012

I'm a movie geek. To the Nth degree. I live and breathe films, have since I was six or seven years old. I've seen thousands of films, domestic, foreign, classic, new, hard to find gems, and blockbuster hits. I can rattle off the name's of character actors and writers and directors like they're immediate family. My brain is absolutely overloaded with little bits of trivia and behind-the-scenes bullshit all the way from classic old school works like Citizen Kane to unreleased hype monsters like this summer's Dark Knight Rises. If I'm not watching a movie, or talking about a movie, there's a decent chance I'm online reading trade news and scanning film scoop sites for upcoming tidbits. So yeah, I love cinema. I also love writing about it, so here is my 'exclusive' SixFingers Upcoming Films You Should Probably See.

Right around the corner we have the March 23rd release of The Hunger Games. A lot of people may hate on it for being tweeny Young Adult bullshit like Twilight, and while I've never felt the need to read Twilight, I did read Hunger Games, and quite enjoyed them. Consider me in the 'looking forward to the movie' camp.

March 23rd also brings the U.S. release of The Raid, an Indonesian action flick that's been taking festivals and foreign audiences by the balls. I'm not a big fan of hyperbole and overhyping, as I think it can lead to movies being ruined by unrealistic expectations (I'm looking at you, Matrix sequels). However the trailer and the opinion of several movie guru's I trust has me very much looking forward to this kung-fu and bullet filled flick. Action films have been in the toilet the past decade or so, with only the occasional gem slipping through (Apocalypto, Blade II, anything Korea does). Shaky cam has taken over since the goddamn Bourne Identity did it 'well', and everybody else thought they could do it too. They were wrong, so terribly, terribly wrong, and I'm hoping that the Raid will be a nice throwback the the bone-crunching days of yore when you could actually tell who was hitting/shooting who and where, as opposed to a bunch of blurs and sound effects.

April 6th brings us the great Sam Neill (Jurassic Park, In the Mouth of Madness) and Willem Dafoe (To Live and Die in LA, American Psycho) in Tazmania, with Dafoe hunting the legendary Tazmanian Tiger, thought extinct since the 1930's, but sighted more than a few times since. I'm a big fan of both these actors, and also of cryptozoology, so sign me up.

April 13th should be a pretty good day, despite it's unlucky Friday the 13th connotations, because the new Joss Whedon movie hits! For those of you living under a pop culture free rock, Whedon is the guy behind Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Best.Show.Ever), Angel, and Firefly, and wrote and directed the upcoming Avengers. He also wrote the screenplay for Toy Story, for those who think his talent stops at self referential witty supernatural banter. This is his first official outing in horror (unless you count his much maligned Alien: Resurrection script), written by himself and Buffy/Angel writer and showrunner Drew Goddard. Not much has been released and those that have seen it say that going in knowing as little as possible is best. No problem for me, they had me at Joss Whedon!

April 27th we've got a real hit or miss project coming in the form of The Raven, a fictionalized account of Edgar Allen Poe trying to solve a series of murders that are being based around his writings. As a big fan of Poe I was very interested off the bat. Bringing in John Cusack to star only upped my interest, but also made me a bit wary. I love Cusack, but he can be a bit one note and I'm hoping he brings his full range to what needs to be a complex and engrossing role.

May 4th. A day sure to live in the collective geek memory forever, for better or for worse. For every nerd and geek and superhero fan who ever picked up a comic, seeing a big screen version of The Avengers was always just a pipe dream. I mean, just getting the individual properties off the ground in order to create a lead in was almost impossible by itself, but it could happen. It did of course. We've had two Iron Man films, two Hulk's (but only one that is 'canon'), one Captain America, and one Thor. We've had cameo's by Scarlett Jo's Black Widow and Jeremy Renner's Hawkeye. The stage was set. Even seeing all these movies, liking them all in some way and loving some of them, the idea of a full scale Avenger's film still seemed...unlikely. Yes, the difficult prelude of getting all these individual films off the ground had been completed. However you still have five or six big name stars playing these superheroes, and getting them all into ONE movie at the same time, giving them all adequate screen time, respecting their individual mythos and backstories, and stroking all their ego's simultaneously, it just seemed insurmountable. The replacing of Edward Norton, who played the Hulk in the second go round, was a perfect example of my fears. The fact that out of all the actors from the previous movies, only Norton was replaced is pretty miraculous. I wish he hadn't been, as much as I am a fan of his replacement Mark Ruffalo, I am a big Ed Norton fan and loved his portrayal of the Hulk. Word on the street is he can be a very difficult actor to work with, constantly rewriting his dialogue and whatnot. Personally I think he turns in smashing performances, and if he gets there by fucking with the script or whatever then it seems to me people should back off and let him do his thing. Still, optimistic about Ruffalo's portrayal of the big green mean machine. Won't know until May if the movie is good, or mediocre, or a straight up disaster, but the simple fact that it's happening is nothing short of mind blowing, and I'll be there opening weekend with my geek love on my sleeve and smiling a smile of somebody who's going to get to see something only previously glimpsed in dreams and fantasies.

Oh what a month May shall be. For on the 25th, we get a new Wes Anderson picture! A simple premise of a young boy and girl running away to meet and have adventures get's the inimitable Wes Anderson treatment, complete with a stellar cast. Returning Anderson alum's Bill Murray and Jason Schwartzman will be sharing the screen with no less than the likes of Edward Norton, Bruce Willis, Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand, and Harvey Keitel. From the opening shot in the trailer and the first chimes of music the picture just screams classic Wes, and as a fan of his stuff since Bottle Rocket, I can't wait.

Ok. That bring's us all the way up to the beginning of June, and the start of SUMMER! There are quite a few more potentially awesome bits of cinema hitting then, so I'll type up another one of these encompassing summer films soon. I didn't want this to be too unbearably long, and I'm not entirely sure anybody wants to read about my thoughts on movies, but I like writing about them (and talking about them and watching them and reading about them) so this was a pleasurable way to waste an hour for me.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Update on Life and the Future

I'm back I'm back I'm back!

Technically I never went anywhere. I just haven't had the drive or motivation to post. It's been a long long long fucking couple months. Two days after my last post I lost my job. Was still dealing with the height of the Valium withdrawals and missed one day of work too many, and in what I assume was a moment of frustration I was fired. It was a decent job and I enjoyed it most of the time, so I'm kind of bummed about that, but if they were willing to let me go for missing a couple shifts due to coming down from a four year Valium high then I suppose I didn't want to be there anyways. On a positive note I stopped into Zion's Den, the glass shop across the street from the PPC, and chatted up the woman working there for a while. I mentioned at one point that I'd worked in the headshop in the 'Cat across the street and she asked me my name. As soon as I told her her eyes lit up with recognition and she told me that both her and her boss, the owner, had heard numerous good things about me from customers who'd come in after having been to our store. They had heard so much positive word of mouth on yours truly in fact, that they asked me to bring in a resume. They don't even have any paid employees, but they might be looking to have one, and they might want it to be me. Which is awesome because the owners of the shop I had worked at used to get on me about their friends coming in to buy glass from me and then reporting back to them that I didn't know what I was talking about, that I was a poor salesmen, poor attitude, blah blah. Which I felt very strongly was bullshit, I'm a cheery and bright personality behind the counter, and a decent salesmen. So it was nice to get some validation.

So that was in November that I lost my job. And now it's...March?!? Really? It's fucking March? Damn. I still don't have a job. It's hard out there for a heavily tattooed and pierced barista/salesman/lifeguard/pimp. I'm looking though, and it's been long enough that something has to go right soon. Seriously. After as many 'Fuck You's as life has thrown at me over the last couple months it's about time I catch a damn break. Speaking of life bending you over a barrel and having it's way with you, I'm not going to be flying, not as a career anyways. As most people that know me know but promptly forgot, I'm colorblind. Not hardcore greyscale or anything, just a mild case of the red/greens. When I took my FAA medical exam I of course failed the colorblind test, the one with the colored dots that spell out a number. I knew I was going to though, as I've never been able to pass those, but out of all the pilots I've ever talked to (and I know quite a few) none of them has ever flown anything with dials resembling a fucking magic eye illusion, so I didn't think it'd be an issue. The medical examiner told me I'd have to drive over to Forrest Grove and take a special FAA last resort colorblind test called the Farnsworth-Lantern, which sounds like something the Professor would've invented on Futurama to see into alternate dimensions. Just to see what my odds would be of passing, the examiner took me out below the tower at the Bend airport and had them flash signal lights at me from up there while we stood in the parking lot. I nailed every single color without a single mistake. The guy straight up told me that since I hadn't had any issues identifying those single colored signal lights from so far away I'd probably breeze through the F-L exam.

FAIL. I didn't pass. I drove over to Forrest Grove one day with Jenkins and my sister in tow. Took us about 40 minutes of walking aimlessly around campus before we found the Optometry building, but find it we did, and just in time for my appointment. I was ushered in by a young third year optometry student, pretty blonde girl, shy, smart. She set me up in a small room in a hallway lined with identical small rooms, probably thirty in all. She set up a lantern shaped device facing me about ten feet away, and explained to me the test. On the lantern, in the center, there were two tiny light bulbs about the size of the ball in a ball point pen, one on top of the other, so close together they almost looked like a tiny number eight. She explained that the lights could blink in three colors, red, green, and white, and in any sequence of those three, i.e. top red bottom red, or top white bottom green, ect, ect, ect. She would flash ten combinations of the lights, showing each for two seconds, and I had to tell her top to bottom what the two lights were. If I missed more then two I had to run through ten more, and I was allowed three rounds of ten total, no more. Didn't sound too hard. Until I ran through the first ten, and realized around the eighth set that I hadn't said 'white' yet. There was no way there hadn't been any whites yet, and at that soul-crushing moment I knew it was over. I wasn't going to fly. We finished the first set with me not having said white once. She gently asked me if I remembered that it was one of the three colors, not just green and red. I said yes, and we ran through it two more times, I missed more the second and third times. See, the red was fine, the green was fine, the white was fine. Put the white next to red and I could see it, put it next to green and they both cancelled each other out. I had no idea if I was looking at white white or green white or whatever, they just blurred into one color. Which is complete and total bullshit, because a pilot will never (probably) be put in a situation where they have to identify two tiny lights touching each other from a distance. I can identify all the things I need to in the cockpit and in the tower. I've flown fixed wing aircraft and helicopters, and never have I run into an issue knowing what color something was. After failing the Farnsworth-Lantern test though my name was submitted automatically to the FAA stating that I may not receive a commercial pilot's license. So that's that. Bummer.

Keeping positive though, as much as I can. Spending my time looking for work, reevaluating my life, playing video games, and hanging with my friends. Things will pick up, new leaves will turn over, all that positive shit. I'm looking forward to it. Glad to be off my medications. It will be four months soon with not one single Valium or benzo, and I feel pretty goddamn good about that. It was probably the hardest thing I've ever done, straight painful at times, but it's good to be clear. I feel like I accomplished something, even if it was just a personal victory. If I can do that shit, I can do anything, so bring it on, whatever 'it' may be. Whatever the future may hold, I'm ready.

In the meantime, maybe this post will be the one that incites me to actually post on a regular basis for more than a week. I'll believe that when I see it. Or do it.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Kicking Prescription Habits

I feel a great need to talk about something I've been dealing with lately. It starts with the following words; Technically, I'm a drug addict. I know, it doesn't so much make me look very good but bear with me for a minute. It's not like that, really. A few years ago I was living in Los Angeles with a girl who was going to college there. Sometime about a year in, maybe less, I started having panic attacks, full on shaking sweating can't-eat can't-sleep no-reason-for-any-of-it-that-I-can-tell panic attacks. I went to see a doctor who put me on Xanax, a fast acting short half-life benzodiazepine. I took xanax for about a year, maybe a little less, and then moved through three or four other medications that didn't work well for me before I landed on Valium some two plus years ago. Anybody who knows anything about drugs, and benzo's in particular knows that being on Valium for longer then a couple months is bad news. Being on it for a couple years is fucking terrible news. It's been so long since that first prescription I honestly don't remember how I decided on Valium, or even which fucking doctor first gave it to me. I can say I don't remember the doc sitting me down and telling me about the severity of the drug, or the fact that if I stayed on it for an extended period of time I'd have to go through Hell and back to get off it. 

By the time I moved back to Oregon and found a new doctor, I wasn't even slightly interested in being off my meds, I felt comfortable with what I was taking and didn't see any reason to change it. I'd been on them long enough without any warnings or side effects that I didn't seen a reason to be off them anymore. I want to be clear in that I have never abused my medication, never used them before the refill date and looked for more or shit like that. I took them solely as they were prescribed to me, one in the morning, one at night. Anyways, I started seeing a doc in Bend, and she would constantly yet gently push me to stop taking it, but I wasn't interested. I didn't want to be completely off medication, I didn't feel like I was ready, or in a place where I could handle it. Shortly after moving back to Oregon I was hit with several personal blows, blows that left me emotionally drained and decimated, and thinking about stopping my meds was unthinkable. The doc wanted to move me off the valium and on to an anti-depressant, but I'd taken AD's before and hated every single one. I didn't believe I was 'depressed', just anxious, and wanted nothing to do with any other medication. I was comfortable with my 5mg of V in the morning and another five at night, kept me in a nice warm little fog, one I lived in for so long I quit seeing it as a fog and it became my worldview. So she continued to prescribe it to me casually, keeping me on the same dosage I'd always been on. Did you know that after about a year of regular valium usage you start to lose some mental and cognitive functions? Essentially you get stupider. Anybody who knows me at all knows that for better or for worse I place a lot of stock and pride in my intelligence. I've never been a star athlete (though I was a kickass swimmer), never dated any supermodels, never made a million dollars. I've always and only had my brain to set me apart from the masses, and my taking this drug everyday was literally slowly eroding the bedrock of my IQ. I didn't care. Until about two months ago. 

I reached a point where I wanted to be off my meds for two reasons. Reason number one; I wanted to be off my meds. Period. I wanted to experience life beyond the valium daze. Fair enough right? Reason number two; You can't fly helicopters if you're taking that kind of shit. Gotta be sharp and alert. I decided to become a pilot, and in order to do that, I had to kick the valium. So I started tapering off with the 'help' of a therapist, going down a couple milligrams at a time, then throwing in a second benzodiazepine called Klonopin to be taken every once in a while as needed to cut the severity of the valium withdrawals. For the first couple weeks I went up and down, feeling good one day and less the second. I'd have waves of anxiety that would just come out of nowhere and crash into me like a truck, rendering me largely incapable of performing even the most basic of tasks or social interactions. After every drop in dosage the symptoms would come back for a couple days and then subside, never getting to a point where I really felt constantly aware of them. Until recently. I mentioned before that I had bronchitis a few weeks ago, and when I was so horribly sick I didn't even think about my valium until I realized one morning that I hadn't taken anything in four days. So I decided to see how long I could go. I made it a couple more days before I hit a wall of symptoms that actually scared me, and I took half a pill. Well its been over THREE WEEKS now since I took that last half of a valium. Two pretty decent weeks, withdrawal symptoms not very severe, coming and going, and for full disclosure I have still been taking half a klonopin as needed, usually every three to five days, with the periods in between slowly getting longer. Then came this past week.

I just today completed a full seven days in between k-pin halves, still haven't touched the valium, and good sweet Mary mother of FUCK was it a hell of a week. The worst of the withdrawal symptoms kick in towards the end, once you've been cold turkey for more then a couple weeks, and explaining the horrific nature of them is quite difficult. 'Sensitivity to touch', check, sometimes it hurts to just have clothes or my sheets touching me. It hurts the bottoms of my feet to stand. This brings me to 'general pain', which holy shit I have. It hurts to blink, to move, to turn my head. My body is in a near constant state of feeling like it's on fire and at the same time immersed in a bath of ice, it's bizarre. Reality is different, and this is the most difficult symptom to explain. I see things differently, I perceive them differently, and I'm able to watch from some balcony in my mind as my speech pattern changes, the way I move changes, and I can't do anything about it. Personality changes are common to see during withdrawals from valium, lasting weeks or months sometimes. Everything looks odd, objects I look at are razor sharp, like I'm fucking seeing in High Definition and I'm acutely aware of EVERYTHING, while at the same time it all looks fake and computer generated. The very essence of how I view the world, the people and situations and interactions around me, it's all CHANGED. I feel like I'm on a bad drug trip that won't stop, and in a way I am. Usually when that happens though you can just wait it out, tell yourself it'll only be a couple hours and you can soldier through it. Not this though, this fucked up ordeal is going to last anywhere from a couple more days to a couple months. It's not all bad in the end I tell myself. The sense of accomplishment as I make it through another day without valium is massive. I'm not quite in a mindset where I can calm my thoughts enough to appreciate it fully, but that will come and I can't fucking wait. In six months the oppressive side effects should have fully dissipated, and in one year I will have regained any mental or cognitive function lost during the last two years, and will essentially be 'me' again. At least as much as anybody can truly be themselves. 

So congratulations to myself, because what I've done/am doing is not easy, and I'm proud of me. Near the end of this road now, I'll be getting on a much better road, and if you asked me where it goes I'd tell you "Anywhere."

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Big City Drug Deals

You know what sucks? Buying drugs. Now now, we're not here to discuss the morality or dangers of drugs, or the ethics of buying or selling them, we're here because I wanted to tell a story. Should I not tell this story because it involves some R-Rated subject matter? Or would that just be pandering. You're an adult, you can choose to do what you want and read what you please. Here, lets get if over with, ready, reaaaaady, I've done drugs before. Still here? Ok then, proceed. Regardless of how you may feel personally, there's no disputing the fact that lots and lots of people enjoy doing drugs, but I'm pretty confidant about saying there's probably nobody who likes buying them. It's typically a nervous, dark, shady type transaction that goes on, often involving nervous, dark, shady type people. It can I suppose be no big thing for some persons because they know their supplier intimately, but this either means you hang out with drug dealers or you do enough drugs to know them well. Either way is not perhaps the best position to have put yourself in. Also, I won't deny that it can, at TIMES, be a somewhat exciting experience, something that will get your blood pumping as you enter a world probably quite different and a little bit more dangerous then the one you live in day to day. The allure of a pill or powder or plant that will take away the burdens of social anxiety and lift you up and set you on a nice comfortable cloud for a few hours, well that is high enough for many people to deal with the negatives of buying. Here's a story that encompasses three aspects of the drug buy; the good, the bad, and the surreal.

It all happened on my birthday one year, in a large city, with which I was largely unfamiliar. I had been there before, several times in fact, but mostly stuck to bars and poolhouses, hadn't really taken the time to wrap my head around my greater surroundings. The city was close to where I was living at the time, and myself and a couple of friends had driven in and gotten a motel room for the night to celebrate. Allow me to set the mood for you. Our motel was in one of the dingiest, dirtiest little holes in the city, a fact we weren't privy to until after arriving and observing the plethora of lowlifes and hookers hanging out in our parking lot. This of course did absolutely nothing to deter us, if anything it just raised our heart rates a little bit and made us want to drink faster. That's the trick see, you bring a whole mini bar with you in your bag and mix drinks for yourselves in the motel room for a few hours, then take a cab downtown to the cluster of bars and upscale strip joints. I digress. We had decided on the way into the city that afternoon that today was a special day, my birthday, and just going into the city and getting roaring drunk and carousing with our friends wasn't enough. We were going to need some drugs, not no marijuana either, we had that, we needed some REAL drugs, some party-all-night-with-a-smile-cemented-to-your-face drugs. We weren't the kind of people who do those kinds of substances often, and it was a special occasion, so it seemed like a good idea.

 Problem was we didn't know anybody in this particular city to get drugs from, and it's something we were only comfortable doing with somebody we had been connected with. Buying drugs from complete strangers is hard for one, because it's hard to find said stranger, and dangerous, you don't know what the fuck is going to be mixed in with whatever they give you, if it's even real, if they are going to turn out to be a cop, or a psycho. No, we needed somebody who'd been vouched for who could hook us up with something of premium quality for a fair market value price. So we called a friend we trusted back in our town, somebody who had lived for a good while in the big city and would know about such things. He said he'd make a call and get back to us straight away, and within an hour he called back. "She'll meet with you. But she's paranoid, so here's what I told her, which she'll expect to hear you say..." He proceeded to explain to us that this was somebody he very much trusted to be on the level, and to hook us up with exactly what we were looking for. However, he said, she was paranoid, and intensely so, only agreeing to meet with us after our friend told her that we had grown up together (we hadn't) and that he'd known us for over ten years (nope) and that we could be trusted (of course), so she consented based on that voucher. When I arrived at her place, he said, I had to tell her about my friend, where we went to school together, and where we grew up. This was all sounding like a lot of work at this point, but we were already starting to feel the thrill of the buy not to mention the desire for what she was selling, so we moved forward. We got her name (fake) and number (real) from him and called her up. She spoke to us on the phone for probably 15 seconds, confirming who was calling and that there were only two of us coming, and then giving us an address and hanging up abruptly. Ok, whatever, drug dealers are weird, let's go. One of my friends and I hopped in the car leaving the others in the motel room to drink, plugged the address into the trusty GPS, and off we went.

 We arrived at our destination about fifteen minutes later and circled a large dark building a few times looking for her place before we realized we were already there. The large dark creepy building towering above us contained penthouse apartments, and that was apparently our where we needed to be. We walked into the lobby and my first thought was Holy Shit we're in the Shining hotel. Old carpet and dismal lighting, a front desk with nobody behind it, a light flickering off and on, some kind of string music playing somewhere, almost inaudible. We exchanged a look to confirm the other person was equally uncomfortable, swiftly confirmed it, and moved to the elevators. Way up there, above the twenty-something floor, was the penthouse floor, containing the penthouse suite, and so we hit that button marked P and began our ascent. What seemed like an hour or two later the elevator rumbled to a stop and the doors jerked open suddenly. We were standing facing a doorway. A doorway at the end of a scary-ass hallway that seemed about half as long as a football field, nearly pitch black, with a single light above the door at the end. I was almost surprised at the lack of a monstrous wave of blood rushing towards us. As we stepped out we realized there were other doors, down the sides of the hallway, and as we walked past these dark inlets two of the doors proved open a crack, shutting just as we walked by, mumbling voices behind them. Unnerved and walking quite close together, we made it to the final door, took a second to compose ourselves, and knocked. Almost immediately the door was yanked open to the chain, a shadowy dark haired woman peering out from the crack. Right away she quizzed us on the questions we'd been told about by our mutual friend, and we both spoke at once, stepping on each others sentences in a stammering effort to prove we were who we were supposed to be. The door closed, and for a split second I thought it was over, that she hadn't bought it and our quest had ended, but no, it opened right back up again, just enough for us to turn almost sideways and step through the archway and into the apartment.

 The first thing we were struck by was the light, after being in that dim and depressing lobby followed by the Hellway we'd just walked through, we apparently hadn't expected the place to be so well lit. It was almost luminescent. The second thing that hit us after our eyes adjusted was the realization that this women was gorgeous, long thick hair, pristine white skin and striking features, as tall as I am (6') lifted by her reverse skyscraper high heels. She turned and motioned us to follow her through the entryway and into her apartment, which was dazzling to say the least. High vaulted ceilings, giant windows overlooking the city lights, artful cubicle style rooms to each side of us, and then we were in the living room. Expensive art adorned the walls and fine furniture the floors, and sitting on a gorgeous white suede couch was a very well dressed man. He looked exactly, and I do mean exactly, like the character Charlie Runkle (Evan Handler) from Californication. If you don't know who that is google him and then come back, I'll wait. She introduced him to us as a friend, they were going to go out that night. He didn't bother to get up to greet us, but quickly engaged us in small talk about our night and whatnot while his lady friend disappeared into a bedroom. This guy was smooth too, speaking with a lackadaisical confidence that betrayed the importance and severity of the man behind the Charlie Runkle exterior. At some point our conversation turns to where we might be headed that night, and we mention a classy strip joint we'd read about and were going to check out. Oh, he says, that's where *the female drug dealer* dances, he tells us casually. We again exchange quick looks, as if by making eye contact with the other we could be sure we were indeed on this plane of reality still. Our drug dealer for the night was a stripper. Who lived in an apartment that was obviously anything but modestly priced, steep enough that it seemed unlikely our dancer/dealer friend was paying for it all by herself. Who knows though, she was involved in two industries where the right people can make a lot of money. I have my suspicions that her male companion wasn't a just a harmless stockbroker or something of the sort, but we never did find out. After a couple awkward minutes of bullshitting with Mr. Armani, she reappeared with what we'd come for, money traded hands, we gave the usual goodbye pleasantries and were escorted out. I don't think we spoke walking back down the hallway, too busy listening for doors closing, and it wasn't until the elevator opened to the lobby that I realized I was holding my breath. I don't know if this accurately conveys the deep strangeness and unsettling aspects of this tale, but I've tried. We later that night saw Charlie Runkle out at a club with our new friend, and after saying hi to them outside we watched him take three completely different, equally gorgeous and unattainable women under his arms like he owned the world, and walk away in the night. We live in completely different worlds, but at times we overlap and interconnect, and its always a trip, always something new, something strange. Sometimes more then others.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Winter Musings

Ay it's past midnight, which would mean it's now the first day of November in this year of our Lord Two Thousand and Eleven. The month of Thanksgiving. It just makes me think of time gone by. A year ago this time I was living in a van in various parking lots around Breckinridge Colorado with Stephen and Erik. It was bitter cold to the point that we would go to bed in the van wrapped in four to five layers of clothing, sleeping bags, and blankets on top of those. We still woke up in the night bitter and shivering. I remember one day about two weeks into our van livin', and tempers were flaring, edges were being reached, boundaries pushed, and my solution became to not talk for an entire day. I did it too, relaying any important information to my van mates by typing on my phone and holding it up, but otherwise I was completely silent and non participatory. At times it was an annoyance to them, but they got used to it and it ended up being quite the zen day for me. All that aside I'm thinking about this stuff right now because of the change between last year and this. The van we lived in is now in the process of being sold and taken away, and as much as it may have sucked at times, living in that thing for three weeks in such an extreme environment was a trip, and an experience I wouldn't trade. It bonded the three of us in a way, there's no denying that. Colorado, last winter, actually the start of this very online scribbling endeavor, it all seems so far away. Not so much the scribbling, he says as he scribbles. The winter though, the thrill of picking up and just blowing town, taking off for somewhere you've never been because you can, and because you want to get in some world class skiing. Moving across the country, uprooting everything and packing up some cars with some close and true amigos, and hitting the road. It was all so desperately exhilarating and spontaneous, the future constantly and excitingly unpredictable, something new around every bend in ever road. So many mountains and lifts and ski runs we could have rode there for a decade and not have tracked every summit and dropped every cornice, hit every run and memorized every back alley tree shoot. I miss coming home from work at the fuckin' corporate bookstore to my roommates, all six of them, watching tv, reading, cooking, drinking, doing whatever. I miss having family dinners with Stephen and Erik and Garrett and Colleen and Amanda. I miss jamming all of us in a car to mob to Vail or Keystone or wherever we felt like riding that day. I miss packing a car full of 6 or 7 of us and rolling out to the bars in Frisco or Breck, getting way too drunk and typically starting a dance party somewhere. Well, mostly I watched, but there was more then a time or two when I would break out my dancin' shoes, and usually after enough drinks that I would feel it necessary to dance somewhere like on a table or the bar perhaps. Don't know why I'm thinking about this so much. It's not that this winter won't be great, or won't live up to last year. It's a different time. Different isn't anymore a bad thing than it is a good thing. It just is. Still. I love my friends I have now and the life I'm working on making for myself, but there will always be things I miss. I'll always remember fondly a lot of things about the good ol' 970 and the six months I spent there in '10-'11. That is all. For now.