Rent — The worst people in the world

28 Jan

When I did stand-up comedy, one of the jokes I had that I really liked (the audience was marginally less receptive) went something like this:

“I want to have a TV commercial where I wonder if people have had the IRS hounding them for back taxes, and have people give testimonials about the IRS hounding them for back taxes, and I dress up like a lawyer and say ‘If the IRS has hounded you for back taxes … pay your damn taxes, dipwad!’”

Those ads love to make the people seem sympathetic, when most of the time, it’s just some person who didn’t want to pay the taxes they owe. Making a bad guy sympathetic is in fact one of our most tried-and-true literary techniques, from MacBeth to Citizen Kane to Breaking Bad.

And also Rent.

Listen, I love Rent. I listen to the soundtrack more times than I care to count, and picture myself playing the role of Tom or Roger all the time, despite the fact that I can neither sing nor dance nor act. It’s wonderful.

It’s also a story about the worst people in the entire world.

Let’s start with the entire premise: Rent. You know what? I want to make a career out of being creative and being an artist and all that too. But you don’t get to live for free because you’re an ar-teest. Pay your damn rent. I don’t need to feel bad for you for this. Pay your rent. If your films and songs aren’t taking care of it, well, that’s a shame. But too dang bad.

So let’s look at the definitive ranking of the awfulness of the Rent main characters, least-worst to worst-worst. Because let’s face it, they’re all the worst. And you know how I know they’re the worst? When they go to the Life Café after the protest, the manager practically begs them to not rearrange the tables and then they do. Like, if there’s one class of people you think these Bohemian lifers could sympathize with, it’d be restaurant folks, and they’re even assholes to them.

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Everybody has offered their two cents on Anthony Bourdain. Here’s mine.

9 Jun

We want one-size-fits-all advice. All of us. Links that promise “This one simple trick will make any woman fall in love with you!” or “How to win your fantasy league every time” get attention because hey, it’s a cheat code. Up-up-down-down-left-right-left-right-B-A-start, and suddenly life is that much easier. It sucks if life is hard. It sucks that much less if it’s hard but you can pretend you’re that close to unlocking the way to make it not suck. Continue reading

Eulogy for my dad

17 Dec

Part of this is something I started to write years ago. I honestly tried to sit down and write about dad 20 different times over the years. I wish I had really done it, because he was just a fascinating dude, and a story about him written while he was alive would have been a damn good one.

Here’s the part I wrote before:

There is a line of thinking that says that you stop being a “little kid” when you realize your parents are fallible, or at least aren’t invincible. It’s hard to cling to the little-kid worldview when at the same time confronted with the reality that your parents aren’t invincible or close. And by that definition, I stopped being a child really young. It’s hard to win a schoolyard “my dad could beat up your dad!” contest while at the same time having to help care for your dad’s foot after he slipped when cutting the grass and managed to mow his own foot. He had his first major surgery when I was in seventh grade, and from then on we always knew dad could theoretically go whenever the fates deemed it time. Continue reading

Strong opinion sent to the Chicken Tender Store

15 Sep

Presented without comment, here’s a hand-written and photocopied letter that got mailed to O’Charley’s today. Yes, O’Charley’s:

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What happens to a dream deferred?

16 Oct

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The other day at work, my buddy came up to me to talk about my zombie book. A while back, he had expressed excitement about reading the book, and asked if I’d email him the manuscript so he wouldn’t have to wait for the scheduled-for-May publication. (If you’re new, I announced a while back that I had been signed to a three-book deal by apocalyptic publisher Permuted Press.)

Anyway, my buddy — Brent — said that he had sat down to read my book recently, but couldn’t get far into it. “I just don’t like reading on my phone,” he said. “I’ll definitely read it when I can buy the actual book.”

Sounds nice, yeah? Sure, it’d be nice if he was so excited about my work that he tore through it as soon as the words were in his possession, but regardless, my friend was speaking excitedly to me about buying a real, no-foolin’ book that had my name on the cover. Pretty cool, right?

I almost cried. Continue reading

I earned a million karma points tonight

9 May

I love my sister, but sometimes her planning abilities are not up to par.

She had invited me to my niece’s dance recital Thursday night. On the one hand, a bunch of Little Tinys dancing for a couple hours is not an impressive event, but on the other, I had the night off and insist on being a good uncle. So I agreed to go. Continue reading

Story Of My Life

31 Jan

Thursday was my day off from work, which naturally meant I had to get up at 6:30 in order to go pick my dad up for a doctor’s appointment. Haha, very funny, life, you big jerk. Continue reading