Monday, June 29, 2015

Never go truther on a first date, the Beta Chronicles vol. 1



Have you ever had a time when you bombed so hard that you couldn’t even get out of the metaphorical hole you were stuck in? 

I can vividly recall mine that occurred two summers ago; a day that will forever live in personal infamy.  It was so bad that it will always feel like yesterday to me, too. 

I was so nervous that I couldn’t even look up at the sign of the place where I was supposed to meet her.  Instead, I rummaged through the pocket of my jeans to fetch my cell phone while my eyes were still fixated on the concrete of the sidewalk outside of the bar district downtown.  I began to take a couple of breaths.

“Um, hi,” I muttered as I paced back and forth.  “Do you know where Beer Kitchen is?”

“Uh, the big sign that says ‘Beer Kitchen?’” she laughed on the other end.

Shit, I needed a brown paper bag to hyperventilate into right about then.  Prior to arriving, I even did a damn personal affirmation in the vein of Stuart Smalley from “Saturday Night Live” (“I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and, dog gone it, people like me!”).  Why was I having an anxiety attack?  For starters, I was about to meet a girl; a hot one at that.  She held the elusive trinity of traits I’ve been searching for so long: Pretty, smart, and didn’t want kids.  You’d be surprised how many girls are already knocked up and married by their early 20s here in Fartland, so I was under immense pressure to display my A-game.  I couldn’t fuck it up, or else I would have to settle with the leftover fat chicks for an indefinite amount of time. 

You may have surmised at this point that I already “met” this lady from an online dating site.  It’s true, and your cyber persona pretty much exaggerates on qualities that don’t even exist.  Yes, that was really just a roundabout way of saying I flat out lied.  But hell, I needed to stretch the truth a bit—OK, a lot--in order to have a shot with her.  It’s how you get ahead in this world as I’ve come to learn.  So, for example, I told her I was in sales at this rapidly growing IT service company here in town, lived in a condo with my two other bachelor friends, and previously taught myself (she was a teacher, too).  In reality, I was still living at mom’s due to the lackluster economy (and by investing both my time and money in the lucrative field of “Film Studies” when you reside in flyover country), and then only working as a lowly substitute teacher.  Hell, at least my story got to where I was, but too bad I was simultaneously pussing out. 

My conscience finally caught up with me right before the moment of truth, which, of course, exacerbated my anxiety.  Pretending I was Don Draper driving down the freeway in an Aston Martin convertible while flicking the ash from my Chesterfield and just oozing of swag en route to the date didn’t help at all, either.  The pretend time vanished as soon as I parked my Kia Rio, second only to the Urkelmobile. 
You can’t puss out now, B.D.  Be a man and just open the door.  I needed to snort a couple bars of Xanax before I put my hand on the handle.  Too bad I was uninsured.  Ah!  Fuck it.  I opened the door to the place. 

I told the hostess I already had a table waiting for me and began to survey the place.  It was fairly packed for a Sunday, so like any beta would do, I walked toward the empty back corner of the establishment.
And there she was.  Fuck!  She was hotter than her pictures!  Come on, walk over to her, B.D.  At least my eye didn’t begin to twitch like it had when I had to speak in front of a class or confront a bully. 

“Hi,” my voice cracked.

“Hi,” she replied.

She didn’t give a smile right off the bat, but instead gave me a stern look, like she was examining me.  Shit, was I that ugly in person?  And why am I coming across as being such a little bitch here?  Shouldn’t it be the other way around?  I’m a man, damnit.  *grunts*

For the benefit of the doubt, maybe she was studying my face because she seen me before.  It was true that I substituted in her district.  We both gazed at each other for what seemed like a long time.  It wasn’t that whole thing of each other being mesmerized, either.  She was studying my face hardcore.  From my end, I was just worried whether I had any whiteheads on my face needing to be popped.

“So, where do you live again?” she asked.

Goddamnit, that’s your first question?  I just immediately spewed what conjured up in my mind, hopefully without fumbling over too many words.
“Oh, I live in a house, uh, townhouse, I mean, with a couple of my friends.”  Bullshit, bullshit, bullshit.

“Oh, what do they do?”

Damn it, lady!  “Yeah, one works at Cerner (total lie, but I have to give myself props for the mad improv skills)...and the other is a cop.”  That was a slight fib with a kernel of truth to it.  Whew!  Nice save.

By then I was probably sweating profusely looking like the beta Ben Stiller in one of his movies.  Despite her giving off a “square vibe,” which inevitably means we probably wouldn’t click, I wanted to know why I liked her so much other than the aforementioned three traits.  Maybe it was because she seemed to have her shit together: taught the handicapped, intelligent, and not to mention she allegedly had her own place.  She was the kind of girl I could bring home—as in meeting my family, not to literally hang out, mind you.  Her normalcy would offset my quirks.  Most of the time you can’t explain why you like a particular person, though.  It’s just that inexplicable attraction.  In other words, you just do, am I right?  Plus I have to add that she didn’t resemble the type of girl you’d expect from a dating website. 

Before you finally meet in-person you absolutely must have no expectations (go see the movie “Catfish”), and this girl caught me completely off guard.  I confess that I met a couple girls from there before and let’s just say they tend to not look like their pictures.  But my god, she was definitely a white girl: listens to John Mayer, runs 5k’s, and reads The Glass Castle.  Was that her appeal?  That I finally had the chance to score with an all-American girl next-door type instead of the usual inked lady with cellulite in her legs?

I ordered a beer despite having to drive afterwards.  As you can imagine with my uber anxiety, I get hella paranoid.  Perhaps a pint would finally lighten me the fuck up.  We began to discuss teaching, how I used to be one and such.  Ha.  Finally, some common ground to break the tension.  But eh, it became boring to be quite honest.  Shouldn’t the conversation just naturally flow and, more importantly, be fun?  It felt like a job interview, and in fact I even awkwardly blurted it out at one point.

We proceeded with the incredibly vague topic of food.  All I was thinking by this time was please don’t notice my Robin Williams palms.  (I should post a pic of them and you would totally understand.)  They were laid across the table and I was wondering whether I should put them in my lap or inconspicuously hide them behind the plate of appetizers. So, in hindsight, my mind wasn’t exactly focused on picking a fun topic.  Damn, does dating suck or what?  I mentioned that I refuse to eat any kind of fast food or drink pop.  Plus I said I shop at Trader Joe’s for groceries.  “But doesn’t that get expensive?” she asked.

“Well, yes, it does, but I would rather pay for it now than medical bills down the road,” I explained.  God, I am surprised that I didn’t pull out my AARP card at this point.  I should have aborted this topic immediately.  Where was that charismatic guy who could recite “Step-Brothers” movie quotes or could talk about that one time in Tijuana?  For fuck's sake, I am basically Brendan from that movie in real life, anyway!  But nah, “You’d be surprised how much crap is in our food.”

My nerves overrode my non-existent comfort.  I continued on about food which ultimately led to this: “I mean, have you noticed the recent spike of cancer diagnoses?”

I just did it.  I actually went full truther on a first date.

Subsequently some crickets chirped after that, and I received a perplexed look from her.  Somehow I kept trucking along with the c-word.  Yeah Brandon, that’s how you’ll swoon her over: by talking about freaking cancer.  “Everybody has a cell phone attached to their heads, too.  Not to mention all these electronics people use.” 

She could have bailed at this point, but as I am writing about this, I am still shocked to this day that she stayed there.  Virtually all girls would have used either “I left a candle burning at my place” or the clich├ęd “My grandma is in the hospital” excuses.  I resorted in sounding like a certified tinfoil hat wearer.  Never reveal your conspiratorial side on a first impression.  I heard the bomb whistling down towards ground zero.  “Sheryl Crow got a brain tumor, after all,” as I downed my pint.

“Oh yes, that's right.” she stuttered a bit.  Maybe by adding a pop musician to the cancer topic wouldn’t completely rule me out as some member of the lunatic fringe.  Thank you, Sheryl.  Maybe Lance gave you some “C” with his testes?

“You know, if I had it my way, I would be a farmer,” I stated.  Where the hell did that come from?  Who was this guy that I was being and why was he so incessant on talking about food of all things?

“Oh?”

I just got done reading Joel Salatin literature at the time and it just popped up in my mind.  I was pulling anything out of my head in order to avoid the awkward silence.

“What’s that?” I abruptly asked pointing to the plate of appetizers.

“Uh, hummus?” she answered with a grin.  Insert foot in mouth.

“I don’t know.  I think I became conscious with food ever since my bout with diverticulitis.”  I detonated the bomb.  It was over.  Diver-fucking-litis?  I haven’t heard such an admission since that “Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo” movie or Mary Catherine Gallagher.  I was being the poster child of bad dating experiences.  Hell, at least I was groomed.  I went to Kohl’s prior to the “date”.  However, I then realized I had a pair of white New Balances on like all middle-aged dads wear.  #Cool

And to top off my exceptional topic-picking, "Did you know that McDonald's fries have over 15 ingredients in them?"  Houston, we have a problem.  I was relentless.  In hindsight, maybe I truly did have one of those panic attacks.  I was hellbent on discussing food conspiracies.  Cue the "Psycho" screech melody.  I am also surprised the Red Cross didn't barge into the pub to rescue her from this horrific disaster.

I wondered if I looked like Alex Jones.  You know how he is, where his stone face squints into the camera a la Clint Eastwood while hovering his desk with that faux Texan accent proclaiming the globalists are increasing the cancer rate for population control.  I hope not.  At least I didn't pull out my iPhone and let her view the documentary "Loose Change".

Now she should have definitely walked out.  I have to give her kudos for actually sticking around, but she was an educator, after all, and they are trained to handle awkward situations.  Simply put, I was one of her students—and let me remind you that she said she taught special education. 

After that approximate 20 minutes of dating hell she attempted to alleviate the conversation by sharing an anecdote about her clumsiness.  All I could hear was “wah-wah-wah” like Snoopy on Charlie Brown.
The waiter soon gave us our checks, and mistakenly gave us the wrong bill.  I could have taken this as a sign to pay for the meeting like a man.  But nah, I was cheap, and honestly broke.  That was a final nail in the coffin.  Men, never go dutch.  No matter how broke you are, always pay.  Chivalry is and always will be prevalent.  It will always seal the deal, regardless what your intentions may be.

We walked out, which actually I was kind of glad to be doing since I would finally get a relief.  “I’ve had a fun time,” she said in her perky yet phony educator kind of voice (trust me, I know the tone all too well).  Cue exaggerated eye roll in 3, 2, 1… 

I wanted to apologize.  It just dawned on me that her online dating profile said she was in search of chivalry.  Well, shit, I was being the antithesis of that this evening.  I wanted to say I’m sorry.  This was a total disaster.  Why don’t we start over and I can take you on a proper date?  Let’s pretend this didn’t happen.  But no, I just admitted defeat by extending my hand for a shake.  I’m pretty sure it was sweating like a pig, too.  She shook it and darted to her car.  I never had seen someone bolt out of there so quickly.  She acted like I was an investigative reporter for the news and avoiding me at all costs.  I walked back toward my own car with my head down.  Cue the somber, jazz piano melody...

That following night I watched the “Schindler’s List” of Nicolas Cage movies, “Leaving Las Vegas,” to raise my spirits.  It could have been worse, I guess.  The next morning I became impatient and forgot about the three day rule by texting her.  I told her I had a good time (yank-yank) and wanted to know if we could hang out again.  Her response said there were no fireworks (well, no shit), and that my “kooky conspiracies” made her laugh.  Argh!  If she only knew that wasn’t even the tip of the iceberg of my conspiracy knowledge!  And to think I've actually admitted that I liked one song by John Mayer to her, too!  Ugh.  I immediately deleted that ass hat off my MP3 player.  But alas, as Led Zeppelin said on their Presence album, it’s nobody’s fault but mine.  I should have just come clean and ask for a redo.  But, I didn't; regrettably so.  I was subsequently friend-zoned at 10:14 a.m.

Later on, I actually read a part of this Glass Castle memoir she praised earlier.  It turns out that the father character in the story gambled frequently, had acute paranoia with the government, and wanted to build an efficient abode that ran on solar energy.  Sounds like I was Rex Walls in her eyes.

Less than a year later, fate would have our paths meet in some way again.  I was a reporter for a local paper at the time and was assigned a tribute story for an area pastor who succumbed to the c-word.  It turned out that he was the father of the girl whom I had the infamous date with.  During the weekly meeting with the rest of the staff, I practically jumped on the conference table and cried, “But she rejected me!”  Oh, I forgot to mention that I was the only regular reporter of weekly news, too.  I had no choice; that or get canned (which later happened, but that’s for another day). 

What were the fucking odds—and I am a gambling man, after all.  I wondered if she even remembered my name.  I played it safe, and too much of a pussy again, by only interviewing the pastor’s co-workers and members of the church.  I actually didn’t avoid speaking with her and her family because of our disastrous encounter, but instead of what we, or I, talked about: cancer.  He sounded like he was the Mr. Rogers of our hometown after learning about him.  I was also right in my predictions; the chick was totally a square.
Was I kind of hoping she would make contact with me again?  Yeah, not going to lie, but she never did.  Hell, she lost her parent.  Like she was going to make contact with the guy who gave her the most horrific date she has experienced yet.  Well, I remember telling her that I liked to write.  I actually followed through with what I told her.

A month after I wrote the tribute story, I had to shot photos at the school she taught.  Coincidentally she was standing near the main entrance.  We just walked down the hall without saying a word to one another.  Evidently my man card was lost a long time ago, but she was honestly kind of being a bitch, too.  Oh well, she had a nice ass in those shorts…and both of our profiles are still up on the online dating site.






Thursday, April 23, 2015

Danny Tanner should come out of the closet and Uncle Jesse is now a hipster--musings on Netflix's 'Full House' reboot

Virtually all of us millennials watched the late 80s/early 90s corny sitcom "Full House" in syndication right after school.  We thought Uncle Joey was more funny than he actually was, there was something about Danny Tanner that we couldn't quite put a finger on at the time and wondered how suave Uncle Jesse didn't make it to the A-list after the show ended (thanks, George Clooney).

"Full House" rode high on the crest of the family sitcom wave two decades ago.  The early to mid 90s was an era when sitcoms with saccharine story lines reigned supreme.  You had the now cliched quirky next-door neighbor and obligatory episodes at Disney World since it originally aired on the ABC network, topped with catchphrases and a bevy of tender moments at the end of nearly every episode.  "Full House" was essentially "The Brady Bunch" of the 90s.

I, for one, can't even convey why it was popular back in the day.  Was it because we millennials simply grew up watching it?  Has nostalgia alone tricked us into holding the paint-by-numbers show in high regard this whole time?

Regardless how you felt about the show, Netflix is giving the classic sitcom a reboot.  John Stamos, in his latest attempt for relevance despite recently filming Greek yogurt commercials, announced on "The Tonight Show" that the Full House reboot, called "Fuller House," will feature D.J. Tanner as a widowed (and pregnant) veterinarian with two kids moving in with sister Stephanie, who apparently followed her uncle's footsteps by becoming a musician herself.  Plus someone (miraculously) impregnated Kimmy Gibbler, who also is going to be a regular on the 13-episode first season.  (I guess she finally invested in some Odor Eaters?)  No word yet on whether Danny, Joey, Rebecca Donaldson or even Michelle will return.

Is this all they could come up with?  Fucking lame.

First off, in order to be considered a "reboot," you need all of the original cast members to still be living under that damn roof in San Francisco; hence "Full House."  With the possibility of some not returning to "Fuller House" constitutes the reboot as merely being a spin-off; big difference.  Not to mention the name of this new spin-off is entirely misleading.  UPDATE: The last name of D.J's deceased husband was "Fuller."  Double lame.

If Netflix wants a future hit in their hands, they need to renegotiate-and be more accommodating-with the remaining principal cast to sign-on the new show.  This shouldn't be that much of a challenge considering none of them made it big after the show anyway, minus the Olsen twins and their enterprises.  But arguably they too haven't been in the spotlight as much since their made-for-video movies.  Their younger sister, Elizabeth, is actually more of a star than her two successful siblings nowadays.

Once Netflix gets all of the originals on board (including D.J.'s former boyfriend, Steve, who now suffers from Type 2 diabetes and recently had his stomach stapled from raiding too many refrigerators and eating ice cream for dinner), writers totally need to revamp the spin-off's premise by taking into consideration the following ideas by Yours Truly, which modernize the Tanner household by including contemporary trends and norms--all while keeping the show's kitschy schtick intact.  (Can you now hear the hokey saxophone musical interlude inbetween scenes?)  In other words, my recommendations/character profiles give the "reboot" a proper update, along with preserving the family-friendly tone.  Believe or not, a lot has changed since 1994.  It would be cool to see the same multi-camera show's signature corniness in a 2010s world.  

1) Danny Tanner is now out of the closet.

The Tanner family patriarch has finally come to terms with his obsessive-compulsive disorder, as evidenced by his abnormal tidiness (also, this peaked when Jesse and Joey caught him washing his cleaning products in the kitchen sink during one episode), plus is currently in a relationship with another man, whom he met during a widower's support (or cognitive therapy) group.

The gay Danny Tanner argument is greatly supported by his inability to remarry after the premature death of his first wife (or beard), Pam Kastopolis.  (I believe Vicky accepted a new job in Chicago because she also knew about his secret.)  His cleaning tendencies can also be viewed as feminine, he suspiciously left his sports broadcast reporter gig for a morning show co-host, and, most obvious of all, he resides in San Francisco, the gay capital of the United States.

As for never professing his love to Joey Gladstone, whom he known since grade school, I believe it was strictly a brotherly love between the two life mates.   

What would make the modern Danny Tanner more endearing is the fact that he would clash with Bob Saget's real life persona.  His stand-up routine is chock full of offensive, dirty material; the anti-thesis of what propelled him to stardom.

Envision a 2010s Danny Tanner with a canary yellow sweater, immaculate hair, designer spectacles and putting his arm around...former "Double Dare" game show host Marc Summers in the living room couch.  (Hey, Summers also did suffer from OCD, too.  It would make sense.)

The new Danny Tanner suggestion can be, of course, vehemently opposed by the mega Christian, Candace Cameron Bure.  (Maybe that's why Netflix went with such a trite premise since D.J. Tanner is apparently the lead.)


2) Uncle Jesse is now a hipster in order to hold onto the last remnants of his youth.

Now that rock, as Jesse Kastopolis knew, is long dead, plus financial woes at The Smash Club that eventually forced him to close it (presumably because he booked so many outdated acts in an otherwise very trendy part of the country), he is attired in girls jeans, thick black framed glasses and a Ramones T-shirt, while helping his twin sons, Nicky and Alex, mix their latest house or techno wave effort in his old studio downstairs at the Tanner home.

Uncle Jesse, the once beloved hearthrob, is in the midst of finding solace in obscurity.  In order to maintain his envied coolness, he morphs with the times.  He still straps on the guitar now and then, but is mainly focusing on mixing deep house tracks on his MacBook, plus DJ'ing at various dance clubs across San Francisco.

The lack of success over the past decades ultimately lead to his divorce with Rebecca Donaldson, too.  Still, it is 2015, after all, and the d-word is hardly anything but taboo.  Both he and Becky have managed to raise their sons without major problems.  Aunt Becky, meanwhile, has since left "Wake-Up, San Francisco" and moved back home to Nebraska, where she now owns an organic line of assorted produce that is sold to major distributors. 


3.  Uncle Joey has since shed his old and clean comedic act for something more edgy.

Joey Gladstone would be the most meta character in my proposed reboot.  His squeaky clean comedic material has gotten stale over the years; so stale that it doesn't even allow him to land a role in a kid's sitcom on a network that parallels Nickelodeon or the Disney Channel. 

He's fed up and is currently making self-produced content on YouTube or Vine.  Call it a mid-life crisis.  Appearance-wise, you could see him resemble Jesse in ways, but always wearing a hoodie or even a beanie on some occasions.  His material isn't necessarily raunchy per se, but more "TV-14" to possibly appeal to older viewers who grew up with the show; a needed break from the constant sap.

After a failed stint in L.A., Joey has since returned to Danny's house.  His buddy, comedian Brian Posehn, frequently hangs out at the Tanner family home.  He is the new Kimmy Gibbler of sorts by frequently dissing the Tanners, which his material would be a borderline parody of the series.  For example, he talks to Jesse and says, "Are you Greek because everyone else is white?"  Zeitgeist humor like that.  (This could very well work since Posehn has previously worked with Saget a number of times.)


***


In conclusion, I find the absence of the three male leads in the old "Full House" series the result of the modern female fad; case in point D.J., Stephanie, and Kimmy apparently being the main stars in the spin-off. 

That's for another post, though.