The Glutton becomes a one-man army – for rock!
I go to movies by myself. I suppose the first time I did it I was a bit embarrassed, but I got over that pretty quick. In fact, I pretty much only go to movies by myself these days. There are two reasons for this, the first being that my wife and I have extremely different tastes in film. I usually prefer something involving a person chowing down on a live octopus or a posse of killer robots, while her two favorite movie stars of the past decade are Hugh Grant and Mandy Moore (which makes it even more surprising that she was only lukewarm on American Dreamz, a film seemingly cast solely for her). The second reason is that one of us usually has to be home with the kids, since we never seem to get our act together to secure a competent babysitter. So I got to movies by myself.
But this isn’t altogether too odd. I sometimes see other people hanging out by themselves at the multiplex. So I decided to take it to the next level the other week by flying solo at a concert. Truth be told, the tickets fell into my lap at the last minute so the wife couldn’t attend, and I did try to guilt a friend into going with me, but when she couldn’t make it I became my own one-man army for rock! The venue: an ornate old theater on 175th Street. The act: the Stooges.
I guess a little background is in order. The Stooges are my favorite band ever. Unfortunately, the original lineup disbanded before I was born, but I went on to see their lead singer, Iggy Pop, countless times while growing up. I also caught the reunited band on their first tour back together a few years ago. They were awesome then, and I knew they’d be awesome again, so not only would I go see them by myself, but I would in all likelihood go see them by myself while wearing a San Diego Chicken costume if that’s what was required. (C’mon, you know you loved The Baseball Bunch, too! Don’t even front!) Apparently, I am the only one who felt that way (or, perhaps more likely, the only one dorky enough to not have a friend), as everyone else there was in groups of two, four, or even more. But as my millions of hours of solitary television-viewing should have taught me, company is overrated. Once the songs start, who wants to talk, anyway? And if you do try to converse, the person you’re with can’t hear you and you start to yell, and then they yell back, and then you both nod pretending you understand what the other person has said, even though in actuality, neither of you have a clue. (This exchange is usually punctuated with a high five of some sort, as a universal way of acknowledging that while you may not know what the other is saying, MAN DOES THIS ROCK F$ING ROCK!!!!)
That’s my observation on attending concerts by yourself. But this show was particularly enlightening in another way as well: Age really is a state of mind. First, you have Iggy Pop, now 60 years old, running, jumping, punching, and stage-diving for 90 minutes straight. The guy was a nonstop lunatic, even allowing his ass crack and ”Little Iggy” to sneak out on occasion. Every time I see Pop, I expect him to slow down and he never does. What was far more curious, however, was during the punk-rock anthem ”No Fun,” when he invited the entire theater-full of fans up on stage with him. About 100-200 people took him up on the offer. Now, this is not the first time I’ve seen folks flood the stage, but it is the first time where the average age of the person banging into other sweaty bodies was in the 40- to 50-year-old range. There was one cat wearing skinny pants and no shirt with a huge ”I NEED MORE” tattoo sprawled across his entire back. Again, not all that unusual. But the fact that he was completely gray and probably in his 60s certainly was.
I have to say, seeing this was the most exhilarating part of the show. It was one of the most communal rock experiences I’ve felt in a long time. The Stooges were always at their best when it felt like they were gonna tear down the place, and in this instance I actually found myself wondering if the stage could possibly collapse. Honestly, if it had, the people up there would have most likely been even more psyched. I’m not yet as old as some of the revelers that evening, but when I am, I hope I still have that fire in my heart, that passion in my belly, and someone to catch me when I no doubt awkwardly crumple to the floor in a pathetic heap. And who knows, maybe when that day comes, I’ll even have someone there to share it all with.
OBSESSION OF THE WEEK
What I am obsessed about this week is the guy I recently sat next to on a Los Angeles-bound plane. Youngish person — probably college age or just out. Extremely polite. He was riding with his girlfriend and, about an hour into the flight he pulled out — ta da! — Entertainment Weekly. It was the Grindhouse issue from a few weeks back. He sat there reading the magazine, and I sat there watching him read the magazine, looking for any clues as to his reaction. He was obviously a big movie buff, and spent a good deal of time on the cover story. The other TV and music features didn’t seem to interest him as much. As he started to work his way through the issue, I realized that my column was on the back page. In a matter of minutes I would not only be looking at him looking at my magazine, but looking at him looking at me (or at least an illustration of me). The whole thing felt a bit surreal, like I was in a Charlie Kaufman film or something. But it was exciting as well. What would he think? How would he react? Should I offer to autograph his issue? He worked his way steadily through the reviews section, pausing to explain to his girlfriend the genius of Children of Men, and how Fox and CBS were in a hot ‘n’ heavy ratings battle. Finally, he made his way to the back page, where my column about being a serialized drama junkie lay waiting for him. He spent what I would conservatively estimate to be about 2.6 seconds on it, shut the magazine, and then said to no one in particular, ”This guy’s a turd.” Or maybe it was to someone in particular. Maybe he did recognize me, but was too nice to call me a turd to my face so figured he could just tell off the illustrated version instead — and, to be truthful, the illustration does kind of make me look like a turd. In any event, I thought that whole thing was pretty hilarious. I’ve always said that I love the instant feedback that writing a column for the Web generates, but in this case, the magazine version took the cake.
Old school EW readers know that I am a sucker for reality television. But what’s more fun than watching reality TV? Running into a reality TV personality out in the real world (as opposed to The Real World). Honestly, I couldn’t care less about talking to Tom Cruise or Denzel Washington, but get me in a room with the cast of Married by America, and it’s all good in the ‘hood. Inspired by a chance encounter last week on my vacation, here are the Top Five Most Random and/or Awkward Encounters With Reality TV Personalities.
1. Tara from Amazing Race 2
Back in the day, CBS used to throw super-elaborate parties after all the Survivor finales. Even better than all the finger food was the fact that they were smorgasbords of reality TV has-beens. My favorite moment came at the Survivor: Marquesas after-party, when I was introduced to Tara from the just-completed Amazing Race 2. Not one week prior I had referred to her and her boyfriend Will as ”whiners” in the magazine. Evidently, this had been brought to her attention, and in-between extended periods of face sucking with her new boyfriend Alex (who had just outrun her and Will in a footrace to win the million bucks) she let me know that she wasn’t too thrilled about it. I told her I’d make it up to her by buying her a drink, casually neglecting to mention that all the drinks were free. She eventually focused her attention back on Alex’s tongue, and I slithered over to the far more welcoming arms of Kevin and Drew.
2. Candice from Survivor: Cook Islands
This was the one from last week. Went to a restaurant in Washington, D.C., at an ungodly early hour, which is what you do if you have unruly kids who need a nice big empty eatery to take over. There was only one couple in the entire place, and as soon as we sat down, the woman walked over to say hello with a big grin on her face. It was Candice. I could tell my college buddy who had joined us was all, Man, how the hell does Dalton know this insanely foxy blonde? Unfortunately, my wife also had a look that screamed, How the hell does Dalton know this insanely foxy blonde? Being in N.Y. and L.A. you expect to run into fame-seeking reality stars, but not in D.C. Anyway, it was cool to catch up, but I found myself perplexed by her love for the current Survivor: Fiji. Not as perplexed, however, as by her love for Adam on Cook Islands.
3. Roddy from Big Brother 3
I sat across the aisle on a plane from him once — yes, in economy. I still haven’t figured out what was saddest: the fact that I recognized him, the fact that I was excited to recognize him, or the fact that I was too intimidated to say hello. Probably a three-way tie.
4. Jeff Probst from Survivor
I’m a local barbershop guy. $13 trim, and I’m all set. However, as part of an arrangement with NY1, for whom I have done TV reviews for a few years, I am allowed to get free haircuts and stuff at a fancy salon. I finally decided to try it on for size, even while knowing that the tip would cost more than my regular haircut up the street from my suburban Jersey house. Big mistake. I can’t even begin to describe what this guy did to my hair, but it was only slightly less mortifying than the stylist who — when I was a teenager — decided to ”surprise” me with something and promptly gave me a rat tail. (I cut it off the second I got home.) Anyway, I looked stupid, and I knew it, but of course was too timid and lame to ask the guy to fix it. So as I’m walking to work after this follicular fiasco, who should I run into on the street but Jeff Probst, who was in town co-hosting Live With Regis and Kelly. We chatted, and he didn’t say anything about the new ‘do, but I could tell he was thinking to himself: What the hell happened to this clown? Is there a Kajagoogoo reunion show I don’t know about? I still have nightmares about that haircut.
5. Marcellas and Erika from Big Brother: All-Stars
Okay, I have never met either of them, but someone forwarded me this curious YouTube clip from Big Brother: All-Stars in which (about 3:30 minutes in) Marcellas says that I hate him, and then they talk about how that must be because I am gay, which certainly is a newsflash to me. It also raises the question: Should I ever meet either of these people, should I just play along and go gay, or should I assert my heterosexuality?
The universe is filled with them — geeks, that is. Which was plain and clear from the massive response generated by the last Glutton column, in which I outed myself as a major-league science fiction dork. As a fan and friend, I loved getting all your feedback and — as always — read every single e-mail. Here’s a sampling…
Your column on being a sci-fi geek was one of the funniest things I’ve read in a long time. I am all the things you referred to, plus, I’m a girl, so that gives me a ”one up” on you. I do get picked on constantly for being a sci-fi geek, and I love it. I constantly use the term ”frak,” and my husband looks at me like I grew another head. If it’s on the sci-fi network or has the word ”star” in the title (Stargate SG-1 and Atlantis, Star Trek (TNG, DS9, Voyager) or BSG, I’ll be watching right along with you. You did forget to mention the fact that the love of sci-fi might be genetic; after all, this is coming from a person whose brother’s name is Kirk. —Kim Brunner
You’re right, Kim, it could be genetic. After all, my son is now an insane Star Wars fan, although that may be due to the rigorous indoctrination I put him through. And as for the gender thing, I have to admit I was shocked to discover that about 70 percent of the mail this week came from female readers, meaning there are either many more female sci-fi fans out there than I had previously suspected, or I am an insane chick magnet. The smart money is on the former.
I enjoyed your “geek” column in the April 20th issue, and I admit to being a geek, probably for more years than you’ve been alive. But I have a geek pet peeve that drives me crazy: When visiting the science fiction sections of Amazon.com and my local Barnes & Noble, why am I inundated with books about elves and witches and fairies and all that crap? Maybe you can explain it to me? (Oh, and you stumped me with the CSM acronym.) — Denis Kistner
Ah, the fantasy genre is of what you speak. Yeah, I’m definitely less of a fantasy guy myself. I mean, I thought Lord of the Rings was good, but not the masterpiece of cinematic greatness that most people did. I suppose Willow had a few funny moments, but I agree that there should be a clear line drawn between the two genres. As for the missed acronym, I got hundreds upon hundreds of emails asking me to identify them all. Answers are forthcoming…
Good gorram it, Dalton! How can you mention sci-fi and not mention Firefly? The show that turned this casual geek into a full-on Browncoat, complete with Chinese cursing. I just purchased the blueprints for Serenity to hang on my wall. When your pin-up poster is a spaceship, you know you’ve become a true nerd. And that ain’t no piece of gou shi. —Barbara Sirois Doyle
I’ve already been slammed enough in the past, Barbara, from Firefly fans for not acknowledging the show’s greatness, which I don’t really understand. I liked both the show and the movie, but simply didn’t love. Again, I liked it. I am not a hater. We’ll just have to agree to disagree on this one.
I must be a certified geek. I had chemo last year and had a ”portacath” put in to help with the treatments. We referred to it as my ”Borg implant,” and I gave myself the designation 2 of 3, primary adjunct to unimatrix 3. I would end emails to my family with the sign-off, ”Resistance is futile.” When I had the port removed, I sent an e-mail to my family to let them know that I had been separated from the collective and that I was totally organic again. Pretty sad, eh? —Beth Heiss
Beth, there is nothing sad about this story. Dorky as hell? Sure, no question! But not sad. Just think — you are an inspiration to nerds everywhere. Granted, as Anthony Michael Hall says in Sixteen Candles, it is somewhat akin to being ”king of the dips—s,” but it’s better than having no kingdom at all.
I thought I might get through the sci-fi geek quiz without a scrape. I own both of the V miniseries (what’s the plural, miniserieses?), but on VHS, not DVD. And I’ve gone out in public in an Admiral Ackbar mask, not a Wicket W. Warrick costume. So, I thought that technically I was NOT a geek. Until you got to the fan fiction part. Usually, I’m comfortable being a nerd, but, yes, I have written fan fiction, and I am ashamed. But I’ve never posted it online or let anyone read it, so does it count? I need to know. It was Earth 2 fan fiction. I guess I am an uber-geek now. Oh god. I just hope being an attractive chick redeems me somewhat. —Nat Wheaton
Oh, Nat, please. Don’t even try it. Admiral Ackbar is about as geeky as it gets. YOU BASICALLY PUT A GIANT RUBBER ALIEN FISHHEAD ON YOUR BODY!!!! C’mon, that is totally out of control. Throw in the fan fiction thing and you might as well battle Beth out to be Commander-in-Geek.
That is a good list of acronyms, but let’s see if they are correct: TNG = The Next Generation; HRG = horn-rimmed glasses (from Heroes); ESB = Empire Strikes Back; BSG = Battlestar Galactica; TARDIS =Time And Relative Dimension(s) In Space (from Dr. Who); and this one’s a toughie: CSM = cigarette-smoking man (from The X-Files). Please let me know if we missed one. Thanks. —Jim Banks
Jim Banks, ladies and gentlemen! The only one to write in with all the correct acronyms. I wish I could tell you that you won something, Jim, but I guess you’ll just have to settle for winning the respect (and perhaps fear) of the entire EW.com online community. The force is strong with this one…
Ever go to a concert alone? Spot any reality TV stars out of their element? Think you can outgeek Beth, Nat, and Jim? Send your questions, comments, and quibbles to firstname.lastname@example.org, or just fill out the handy-dandy form below. See ya next week!