Saturday, July 13, 2013

Donnie Darko, Time Travel, Alternate Universes, and Memphis


Mississippi River From the Shores of Memphis, TN
Why Memphis?  

I was asked that before I left.  I have been asked that while here.

Simple questions sometimes have simple answers.

I'll let Donnie Darko explain.

***

Is it a spoiler if I talk about a movie that came out over ten years ago?  Well, just in case:  

***SPOILER ALERT***  

If seeing Donnie Darko has been on your To Do List for over a decade, don't read this blog.  

Anyway, there is this scene in the movie (one of the best movies ever made, by the way), when Donnie asks Frank, a futuristic, time-traveling, rabbit-costume-wearing man, why he's wearing a stupid bunny suit in the first place.

Frank retorts, Why are you wearing that stupid man suit?

ZING!

I have always thought this was a seminal moment in the film, deconstructing who we think we are/what we are supposed to be.  And, in sum, turning perspective on its head.  Moments later, in fact, Donnie ends up burning down Patrick Swayze's house, which seems downright mean, until we find out that this esteemed character maintains a kiddie porn dungeon. I'm not sure what that is exactly.  Not sure I want to know...but it sounds pretty bad.

In the end, Donnie's actions were justified -- depending on how you look at it -- in this alternate universe.  We just needed the proper perspective.

***

Beale Street
Fried Chicken

Her name was Bouvase, and the first time I heard it, I thought she said her name was Blow J.  I figured her name couldn't be a line from American Pie, so I asked her to repeat it.


BOUVASE, B-O-U-VASE.

Clearly, I wasn't the first person to have a problem with it.

I met B-O-U-VASE after a long day of exploring Memphis, Tennessee.  I did everything someone, I presume, is supposed to do.  I went to Graceland.  I ate BBQ.  I had fried chicken.  I went to Beale St.  I watched the duck parade. I went to the Mississippi River.

Check.
Check.
Check.
Check.
Check.
Check.

But what was I even doing in Memphis?  Why had I even come?

***

There is another part of Donnie Darko that I feel is often overlooked involving a minor character named Cherita, who is an overweight, linguistically-challenged, Asian-immigrant student.  Few people give a shit about this character, which is actually ironic!  She is integral to the who the F are we and why do we do the things we do plot!  No, really.  She is!

One of the few things (besides cynicism) I took away from stupidly(?) majoring in English in college is to notice any sort of character sensory removal.  If someone goes blind, loses a hand, can't hear...THIS is something to pay attention to...and later write a fifteen-to-twenty-page paper about.  Hurray!  

Anyway, Cherita has MULTIPLE self-induced, quasi-sensory deficits going on, so we should be watching her carefully.  First of all, she doesn't want people to talk to her; she tells them to chut up when they do.  This reaction is clearly warranted as some other characters (not Donnie) constantly berate her with racial slurs.   Eventually, she dons ear muffs -- even though it looks to be about 80 degrees outside -- in attempt to stop hearing what people say to her since the whole chut up angle doesn't seem to be working.  She ALSO ends up entering the school talent show and performing an interpretive dance, dressed as an overweight-angel-like figure, which leads the audience to snicker at her silent rendition of innocence.

No one, it seems, understands Cherita or any of her not talking/not wanting to be talked to antics.  

Poor Cherita.  Poor, poor Cherita.

Anyway, towards the end of the film, another important moment happens between Donnie and Cherita, when Donnie confronts Cherita and tells her he wishes things could have been better for her.  She, on cue, tells Donnie to chut up as she runs away -- even though he said something nice to her -- dropping her school books in the process.  

What do we discover?  She has WRITTEN (one of the means of communication that she has not lost/removed) Donnie's name on her book cover, showing love or admiration for him (I'm not going the god or god-figure route here, even though she was dressed like an angel during the talent show and Donnie clearly has god-like superpowers in this alternate universe.  I'm thinking teenage crush).  

So, Donnie is left holding her ear muffs in is hands as she runs away, removing Cherita's ability to block out others, but adding to Donnie's!  And we see Donnie wearing them in the next scene...showing a direct, physical connection to Cherita.  Both can be seen as outcasts:  

  • One being a slowly-going-insane, bunny-seeing, man-suit wearing time traveler, 
  • The other an interpersonal-issue-having, overweight-dancing, ear-muff-in-hot-weather-wearing immigrant.

If we look at them from this perspective, they are pitiful characters.

But from another, we can see them as being the only two truly redeemable characters in the entire film (don't get me started on Gretchen).  They, it seems, truly understand each other because when Donnie dies and saves the "real" universe, only Cherita smiles at her alternate universe interactions with her peer/savior.

Get all that?

It just depends on how you look at it.

***

I Didn't Visit This Place.
During my conversation with the about six-months-pregnant bartender, B-O-U-VASE, I discovered many things about her:

  • She hadn't been to California since she was 13, over 14 years she said.  
  • She's divorced. It seemed like her parents were, too.  
  • She'd been to a nude beach before, and didn't like what [she] saw.  
  • She loved Arkansas...the western part, only.  
  • She had been bartending for many years.  
And when I let her know that I don't particularly like tourist spots, and I wanted to go where the locals go...she gave me a knowing smile and suggested some places, and to let Mouse and Beavis know that Bouvase had sent me when I got there.

It should also be noted that she told me not to give any money to crackheads.  And she meant it!  

***

I have enjoyed every second of getting to chat with people I, otherwise, would have never met.  

I have enjoyed eating food I, otherwise, would have never eaten.  

I have enjoyed seeing things I, otherwise, would never have seen.

Why the heck did I come to Memphis? 

I'm not sure that is the right question.  I'm not sure at all.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

I'm Walking in Memphis. Almost.


Each Danish Individually Wrapped.  For My Pleasure.

There’s some danish in the luggage cart.  Terse.  Uncaring.  Said in a New Yorkian Go-F-Yourself accent.  Reminiscent of that Simpsons episode when Homer goes to file for divorce and the lady behind the counter says, These things happen. $8.00.

Good thing the Amtrak attendant didn’t mean Danish…that could have been seen as rather un-PC (and cramped, for the Danish).  Would probably serve the Danes right, though.  They have a lot to answer for (so start answering, Darron).

But that’s one of the reasons why I’m here (the lady, not the danish/Danish).  I’m on a train to Memphis, indirectly.  I need to go to LA first, then Atlanta, THEN Memphis.  And if I didn’t get on this train, I would have never met that customer service lady on the Amtrak who made me laugh at 7:00 in the morning with her desire for me to choke on my danish (sounds dirtier than it really is).

***

There is clearly a train subculture that (a) I didn’t know about and (b) I have not been welcomed into...yet.  The regulars are greeted quite warmly.  Questions from the staff fly (train?) forth…about the family. The weather.  The kids. 

I was asked for my ticket and pointed to some pastry.

I could infiltrate this world, I’m sure.  But how often am I going to be on a train?  When I lived in the Czech Republic, I was on a train almost every day.  Maybe I was invited into some Czech-train-subcultures…but I probably didn’t understand, even if I were.  I probably just nodded my head, smiled, and asked them in broken Czech where the hairy bathroom apricots were located.  Dude.  It was a tough language.  And obviously like a Mad Lib game?

Anyway, I’m on a train.  Off to Memphis.  To eat BBQ and to see what happens. And Elvis.  I’m going to see Elvis, too.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

#1: That Time I Was Raped and Sued

Yes.  Truly, the moment we have all been waiting for.  After weeks of suspense...and tens, nay, hundreds, nay, thousands of people clamoring to know which blog would be self-deemed as the best blog of all time...the time has come.

But first...let's recap, shall we?

10: Nearly dying the morning of my first marathon from a peanut allergy

9: My dog being addicted to drugs and lying about it

8: The original blog-antagonists: Mark S. Manasse and Eva Longoria

7: Disappointment with a cancelled Ironman, and then rejoice at not pooping myself at another

6: Speaking of poop, that time a girl pooped on my leg

5: Arousing massage problems

4: A shout out to a previous (creative) partner with a Mr. and Mr. Fingers video

3: Investigating a woman's bathroom and discovering all the mysteries within

2: My roommate.  A thong.  Comedy ensues.

Really, though, when you think about it...there really could be no other #1.

This blog is famous (infamous?) because I actually received a lawyerly letter because of its contents.  The version now posted has been modified so that I no longer do things like:


  • State the name of the establishment that this event "allegedly" happened in
  • Post the pictures of any staff members who may have been involved
  • Mention people by name, under their picture, and dare other people to contact them
I have no idea why this place would want me to take the information down.  None at all.

Anyway, this blog really opened my eyes to the fact that (a) people really do read what I write and (b) I really don't like having things shoved in my ass.

Was I *really* raped and sued?  Read on....

Monday, July 01, 2013

San Diego International Triathlon

Every time I wake up for one of these triathlons, and I see the first number on my clock is a 4...I fucking hate myself.  My first instinct is to throw my alarm clock across the room, but considering Tauni is my alarm clock, I (usually) reconsider.  My second instinct is to go back to bed...but I know if I do that, I'll hate myself (more than I already do) later...so I get up, hop in the shower, and spend ten-to-fifteen minutes having the following conversation:

Self: Why don't I just go back to bed?

Other Self:  You're already up...

Self:  Yeah.  But I'm sooo tired.

Other Self: Stop being such a puss.

Other, Other Self: Dude...that redhead from True Blood....soooooo hot.

Self: Shut up, you.  I'm too tired.

Other Self: Why don't you just go to the bathroom...so you don't have to poop during the race?

Self: Don't you think I would if I could?

Other, Other Self: JESSICA!

Self and Other Self: Quiet, you...

Seriously, my entire life existence on race morning revolves around pooping.  When will I go?  Will I go at all?  How many times?  Other times in my life...I kind of just wait like a normal person for the moment(s) to arise...but race mornings are different...and there is nothing worse than having to go while swimming.

This race was especially interesting.  The actual gun for the pro start (fifteen minutes before my wave) was my moment.  I'm not kidding:


  • BANG! And all the professional athletes started swimming.
  • BANG! My stomach told me to RUN (not walk to the bathroom).  
So odd.  Maybe I am pro-gun after all?  

My other personal issue with these races is that no matter what I do, I chafe.  I have learned, over the years, to lather the crap out of EVERYTHING on my body...but without fail, some part of my body burns the shit out of me when I get in the shower after a race.  Maybe this is the key.  I should chafe myself the night before...take a shower...and BANG!  My own, personal starter's pistol.

***

This swim was different for me.  I was trying out a new technique I have been practicing, so I was actually excited to get in the water.  Well, as excited as I could be.  This quickly faded as I got kicked in the face and pelted by a few elbows.  YAY! Triathlon swim starts!  At least the chemicals in the harbor probably diluted all the pee. 

On the bright side, I was faster at some points during this race, but for the love of all the swim gods...I just can't swim straight.  I must have easily swum an extra 50 to 100 yards...maybe they should hand out extra credit medals at the end of the race for the person who swum the farthest!

Another thing I am still struggling with is not having a passing gear when I swim.  When I'm biking/running, I can figure out how to maneuver around people.  In the water, I still haven't mastered how to actually go by someone.  I'm really, really good at having people swim by me. In fact, I've made it an art form.  I almost feel like I'm the host at a restaurant, "Right this way, sir..." 

Actually, for me, the moment of truth in all triathlons isn't the swim itself; it's seeing how many bikes are on the bike rack when I get out of the water in transition. That is my least favorite moment of any race -- my hopes dashed -- when I see how many people have already gotten on their bikes and left.  I catch some of them...but that is such a desolate feeling...like that The Twilight Zone episode where the last dude on earth only wants to read books...only to have his glasses break.

***

One of the reasons I did this race is because I wanted to see where I was physically after getting really sick with food poisoning AND pneumonia/bronchitis earlier this year.  If I can suggest anything to other triathletes out there...don't get sick for a month when trying to train for shit.  You heard it here first.

Illness is what is so odd about all this triathlon stuff.  Triathlons make you feel GREAT, but they simultaneously destroy your immune system.  Personally, I blame swimming, the world's greatest evil. OK. OK.  I don't blame swimming.  That's just stupid.  I actually blame Canada.

Anyway, I found that physically, I was fine...what I was lacking: some mental acuity.  

I felt absolutely dead from mile one to two on the run...and I wasn't getting mental waves of energy...the ones you ride when they come, and hope for when they are gone.  On the other hand, the last three miles of the run, I probably felt the strongest I felt the entire day, which led me to believe that my nutrition was fine and my fitness is recovering...but I was having some mental issues holding me back.  I need to get back to that place where I trust my mind and body again.  Knowing my mind and body the way I do, though...I wouldn't trust them either.  Scary, scary stuff going on in there.

Triathlon is mostly about fear management/believing in yourself.  It's like this microcosm for life.  Except I would like to replace swimming with the redhead from True Blood.  For obvious reasons.





#2: That Time I Found Out What Manties Were

Top Ten Continues....

In 2006, my life was going through a transition.  I had just gotten out of a tumultuous relationship, got a new roommate, was starting a new job, and, probably most importantly, discovered what manties were.

According to their website, this is why one would wear manties: For those nights and days, when you want to be and feel a little special, naughty, and very sexy, these Manties® are for you. Once you have them on, it will be "hard" to take them off. They are made of nylon and have the extra room where you need it, for the most comfortable fit there is. Once you try a pair, you will wonder why you never tried them before. Panties are for the gals. MANties® are for the guys.

Now, how did I discover what these were?...you'll just have to read what happened to me back in 2006...when a series of three events probably (at least) rival any unique roommate stories you have.

Click here --> I find out what manties are.