This is why I’m a Giants fan. This exact moment. Scratch that: this is why I like stupid, grunt grunt sports in general. San Francisco, this very moment.
It’s legitimately a magical time in San Francisco right now. I have the fortune of working approximately two blocks away from AT&T/”For Christsakes, it’s PacBell” Park, and it’s been absolutely surreal. If a unicorn came around the corner and high fived me right now and said, “Go Giants”, I wouldn’t even take an earbud out. I’d just high hoove him right back and point and smile.
For people who don’t understand why people love sports so much, move to a town where this kind of thing might happen, and you’ll get it.
This team has done something to this city that is unreal. It’s even more unreal because this is San Francisco. Home of the polarizing “I hate your district NO I HATE YOUR DISTRICT LET’S MAKE OUT THOUGH BECAUSE WE BOTH LOVE SAN FRANCISCO” landscape. Hipsters hate marina guys. Marina guys hate hipsters. We judge every goddamn thing on the planet that isn’t organic, and then can’t understand why people judge the crap out of us right back (irony alert). I mean…I work down the block from a fucking artisan grilled cheese store. This town is, by no means, indicative of the rest of the American landscape. We’re just weird, and we embrace the living crap out of it.
And right now, everyone is a Giants fan. Everyone. Your grandma. That homeless guy directing you into a wide open parking spot and then expecting you to congratulate him for his non-feat with a dollar. Right now? I’d give him two. Because this town is effing electric.
You know what? To all the people who hate “bandwagon” fans? Let it go. Who cares. You know who you are? You’re the guy who liked the Kings of Leon and then got mad when everyone else did. You’re the guy who said “this band is SO good”, and then when someone said, “hey I agree” you said NO YOU DON’T ONLY I CAN LIKE THEM. That’s silly. Knock it off. Let them in. Buy them a beer, or a kombucha. Whatever it is. I don’t care. Just let this happen and stop Eeyoring the crap out of our unlimited happiness we’re on the brink of.
I love sports for this reason. Every now and then, everyone just stops being so damn frumpy and acts like our city is just a big college. You ever been to a college town that really loves their team a scary amount? Like, Ray Finkel’s Mom amounts? It’s great. You know why? Because everyone is just actually nice to each other. You have a common bond. And whether or not it’s a bond that is contingent upon a guy throwing a ball or waving a wooden stick, it’s an awesome bond.
I love this time. I find myself smiling at people when I buy coffee. I see my friends who bicker over ridiculous crap calling each other and inviting each other to hang out. I see strangers hugging because a guy from the Dominican Republic is hitting sac fly’s. Marina guys are wearing the same goddamn t-shirt hipster guys are wearing. HOW CAN YOU NOT BOTTLE THIS MOMENT UP? We’re in a vacuum. Enjoy it.
I have grown up with the Giants. My brother and I spend half of our “that’s so adorable that they are ACTUALLY best friends” time talking to each other about them; it genuinely brings us together. It’s in the blood of my family, and I was taught from a very young age to bring a blanket to the ‘stick because it’s never a comfortable temperature in this city. My mother and father brought our family together with this ridiculous game. If you never lived here or you’re just getting on the bandwagon? Let me be your creepy metaphorical father and open the front door and hand you a beer. Welcome. We love you, too.
So fear the Just for Men beard. Embrace the fact that every woman in town is in love with the good guy (THAT NEVER HAPPENS IN REAL LIFE). Embrace the fact that we have a pitcher that resembles one of the greatest characters in film history, one Mitch Kramer (he even smokes pot…how San Francisco is that?). Embrace it.
No matter what happens, San Francisco, embrace it. This is why we like sports. Because they are ridiculous, and they make people really happy when we’d usually just bide the time complaining about what we don’t like about each other.
Embrace it, San Francisco. This is why we like each other. Right now.
TEN years ago, my high school sweetheart and I liked to pretend we were disaffected expatriates living in some crumbly postwar foreign capital. In reality, we lived in an affluent New York City suburb.
Fortunately there was English class, where our teacher assigned “The Sun Also Rises,” Hemingway’s 1926 novel about American and British expats who booze their way through Parisian cafes and Spanish bullfights.
Devouring the book, we thought the protagonist, Jake Barnes, a twentysomething American reporter, and his hot-and-cold lover, Lady Brett Ashley, were pretty cool. They were always visiting interesting places and discussing the meaning of life, or lack thereof. And even though their lives were a little messy, they always spoke so insightfully!
Sure, we concluded, Barnes, Lady Brett and other Lost Generation all-stars had dependency, identity, and substance-abuse issues. But in other ways, they seemed like the sort of people we’d be happy to be like when we grew up. They were adults, but they were much cooler than most of the adults we knew.
The summer after my freshman year of college, my girlfriend and I traveled to France and Spain together, Hemingway style, picnicking on the Seine and sipping wine with Basques in San Sebastián. After the trip, we corresponded via telegram-style letters and e-mail messages that went something like this:
Brett Darling: Will come on Greyhound Saturday. Stop. Arriving 6:40 p.m. All my love. Jake.
I was pretty sure I would marry her, just not anytime soon. I also assumed — taking my cues from Hemingway, Maugham and Fitzgerald — that I had years of globetrotting to do before I’d consider settling down with anyone.
The next summer she and I worked in California. On weekends we’d cruise to the Henry Miller Library, an oceanside hangout named after the footloose novelist. It was fun to gaze at the Pacific and quote him to each other.
My own travels would begin to feel Milleresque: That fall I went to Buenos Aires; the following spring, I volunteered on a coffee farm in Mexico; that summer my girlfriend and I traveled to Montana, where I had landed a job baking pies at a roadside cafe.
Thinking of Hemingway’s Ketchum, Idaho, I had looked for a beautiful place where I could write and fish. The cafe owners said they also had work for my girlfriend — they needed line cooks.
In Montana, we were happy living under big skies, among friendly strangers and away from the East Coast. But our cabin was cramped and mouse-infested, and my girlfriend — a vegetarian — quickly tired of grilling burgers.
We quit after six weeks and headed east in her car. The ride felt like a defeat. I broke off the relationship because I was restless. Stop.
More than a year passed before we met for pizza on a dreary November afternoon in Boston. I had come down for the weekend from Vermont, where I was starting to write for a newspaper, to attend a journalism conference.
She was thinking of applying to law school; I wanted to go abroad again. There was no spark between us, but I attributed that to bad timing, figuring we would eventually rekindle our romance in a different place and context. The fact that I didn’t know where or how seemed kind of exciting.
Three springs later, I quit my newspaper job and spent the summer wandering around China and Southeast Asia. I settled in Hanoi, Vietnam, partly because its sidewalk cafes, French-designed boulevards and bustling expat social scene reminded me of books I had read about postwar Europe.
I spent the fall and winter drinking coffee, writing travel stories, scratching away at a novel and dating women from other countries. Soon I would be learning the ropes at a European news agency, playing tennis with diplomats and feeling expatriated in a good, adventurous, Hemingway sort of way.
But I still thought fondly of my first love. From what she’d told me over the phone before I left the United States, I knew she had started law school. I resisted that plotline: I sensed that someday she would decide to come find me.
I hadn’t seen her in three years. Two months after my 26th birthday, I mailed her a letter: Living abroad was fun, I wrote, but I missed her, and I wanted to see her the next time I came home to visit.
She replied via e-mail that she couldn’t see me: she had a boyfriend, and she was happy.
Ouch. I hadn’t been pining for her per se, but I was upset that she didn’t seem to need to see me in the same way I felt I needed to see her. Also: what boyfriend? I had assumed that, like me, she had been drifting through lovers as one floats among so many ocean swells.
Then she e-mailed to say that she was in Washington, D.C. — Did I want to meet up?
I did. A few weeks later, I hoisted my backpack, hailed a motorbike taxi outside my apartment and began a five-week odyssey of work and travel that would take me from Hanoi to Moscow to Paris to Reykjavik to New York. Along the way I strolled the Luxembourg Gardens, ate crepes by the Seine, reported a story from Rouen, slept in departure lounges and on friends’ couches, rode Amtrak to Vermont, paddled a canoe across an Adirondack lake and caught a train back to the city, where in Chinatown I boarded a southbound bus.
The next day, a sweltering Wednesday, I finally arrived at my destination: the entrance of a Washington Metro station, where my high school sweetheart, in a black skirt and silver blouse, looked more beautiful than I remembered. We ducked into a Mexican restaurant and ordered beers to steady our trembling hands.
She said she had been dating the same guy for three years. I had met him once at a party but I wouldn’t remember. Anyway, now they were living together. She liked law school and had never felt so settled — in a good way.
“What about you?” she asked.
My throat crackled. I had been kidding myself assuming that I would marry this woman: We had each followed roads that the other had no interest in taking, and now she was in love with someone else.
Still: She was looking at me so prettily over the guacamole that I felt like whisking her away. Dearest Brett: Let’s start over together in Mexico City. Jake.
“Let’s have another drink,” I said.
We split the bill — it was almost half a month’s rent in Hanoi — and found a table at a high-ceilinged German brewpub on the next block. The lighting was dimmer there. Loosening up under the alcohol, I said the kind of playful, witty things I knew would make her smile.
Laughing, she said she wanted to hear more about my expat life. “A wire service in Southeast Asia?” I recall her saying. “I imagine you wearing one of those silly reporter hats with the wrap-around brim.”
We left the bar and walked toward the Metro. She pointed out that the station was closing in five minutes. She wasn’t inviting me to come home with her. She joked that she would be sure to send me one of those silly — —
When she noticed that I was crying, she hugged me as one holds a child who has scraped a knee. I held her hands and realized that the next time I saw her — if I ever were to see her again — she would probably be wearing a ring. She might even be a mother.
I dried my eyes on my T-shirt. A janitor was cleaning up. Otherwise we were alone. I scratched my sandals against the pavement. Perhaps I wanted to keep standing there because I had been traveling too much. Or maybe I sensed that I wouldn’t be back. Two or three minutes passed.
FOR the first half of my 20s, the Rest of My Life had appeared to wait patiently. And time, like a gift certificate, seemed like something I could hold on to and cash in later. But that night I felt as if the rest of my life was already upon me. Time was short, and I couldn’t think of anything to look forward to.
I grasped for something winning to say. Nothing came. I was drunk. She walked into the station and didn’t look back.
For a dizzy moment I considered chasing her down that escalator. Dearest Brett: Am lonely without you. Stop. Come to Hanoi. Mike.
The escalator stopped and the trains left. I walked on. I suppose I had my own connections to make.
LOS ANGELES — Have we heard the last (truly memorable) word from Hollywood?
Probably not, but it’s been a while since the movies had everybody parroting a great line.
Like, say, “Go ahead, make my day.” That was from “Sudden Impact,” written by Joseph Stinson and others, more than 27 years ago.
Sticky movie lines were everywhere as recently as the 1990s. But they appear to be evaporating from a film world in which the memorable one-liner — a brilliant epigram, a quirky mantra, a moment in a bottle — is in danger of becoming a lost art.
Life was like a box of chocolates, per “Forrest Gump,” released in 1994 and written by Eric Roth, based on the novel by Winston Groom. “Show me the money!” howled mimics of “Jerry Maguire,” written by Cameron Crowe in 1996. Two years later, after watching “The Big Lebowski,” written by Ethan and Joel Coen, we told one another that “the Dude abides.”
But lately, “not so much” — to steal a few words from “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.” Released in 2006, that film was written by Sacha Baron Cohen and others and is one of a very few in the last five years to have left some lines behind.
Maybe it’s that filmmaking is more visual, or that other cultural noise is drowning out the zingers.
“I’m at a loss, because the lines for a while were coming fast and furious,” said Laurence Mark, who had us at “hello” as a producer of “Jerry Maguire,” and is a producer of “How Do You Know,” which is written and directed by James L. Brooks and scheduled to open just before Christmas. (In 1987 Mr. Brooks mapped the media future in seven words from “Broadcast News”: “Let’s never forget, we’re the real story.”)
If film lines don’t stick the way they used to, Mr. Mark said, it is not for lack of wit and wisdom in Hollywood. “What I don’t believe is that the writers are less talented,” he insisted. “I don’t think that’s true, I just don’t.”
Speaking by phone recently, however, Mr. Mark was hard-pressed to come up with a line that stuck with him in the last few years. “I will try my darnedest to think of one,” he promised.
It may be that a Web-driven culture of irony latches onto the movie lines for something other than brilliance, or is downright allergic to the kind of polish that was once applied to the best bits of dialogue. Thus one of the most frequently repeated lines of the last year came from “Clash of the Titans,” which scored an unimpressive 28 percent positive rating among critics on the Rottentomatoes.com Web site after it was released by Warner Brothers in April.
“Release the Kraken!” thundered Liam Neeson as Zeus — spawning good-natured mockery on obscene T-shirts and in Kraken-captioned photos of angry kitty cats.
In truth, a good deal of thought went into the line. “When we came on, one of our conditions was that the line had to be in the movie,” said Matt Manfredi, who, with his writing partner, Phil Hay, joined in revising a script by Travis Beacham.
A predecessor film in 1981, written by Beverley Cross, had used the line, alongside another formulation that called for the Kraken to be “let loose,” Mr. Manfredi recalled. “In terms of poetry, ‘release’ worked for us,” he said.
“Machete don’t text,” from “Machete,” written by Robert Rodriguez and Álvaro Rodriguez, also traveled well on the Internet this year. But “can you imagine comparing that to ‘round up the usual suspects?’ ” said Mr. Mark, invoking a much-quoted line from “Casablanca,” the 1942 film that marked the golden era of movie quotations.
Written by Julius Epstein, Philip Epstein and Howard Koch, based on a play by Murray Burnett and Joan Alison, with uncredited work by Casey Robinson, “Casablanca” placed six lines in a list of 100 top movie quotations compiled by the American Film Institute in 2005, with help from a panel of 1,500 film artists, critics and historians.
“Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn,” was first on the list. Those words, of course, come from “Gone With the Wind,” whose screenplay, based on the novel by Margaret Mitchell, was written seven decades ago by Sidney Howard and a number of uncredited writers.
When the film institute updates its list in another five years, at least a handful of lines from the current era will perhaps have aged into greatness, alongside classics like “Forget it, Jake, it’s Chinatown,” from “Chinatown,” with a screenplay by Robert Towne, in 1974, and “Hasta la vista, baby,” from “Terminator 2: Judgment Day,” written by James Cameron and William Wisher Jr., in 1991.
Great movie lines might communicate insouciance (“La-di-da”), rage (“You talking to me?”) or something more cosmic (“May the Force be with you”). But they are almost never so much about Noël Coward-like turns of phrase as simply capturing “indelible character moments,” says Tom Rothman, a chairman of the Fox movie operation, who has also introduced regular showings of classic films on the Fox Movie Channel.
And Mr. Rothman cautions against believing that the great lines are all behind.
“It just takes a little time to sort the wheat from the chaff,” he said in an e-mail last week. Mr. Rothman predicted, for instance, that “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps,” with a script by Allan Loeb and Stephen Schiff, would have a keeper with “Stop telling lies about me, and I’ll stop telling the truth about you.” (Written by Stanley Weiser and Oliver Stone, the original “Wall Street,” from 1987, will ever be remembered for declaring that “greed, for lack of a better word, is good.”)
That film was written by Aaron Sorkin and directed by David Fincher, and in a bit of dialogue that inspired Web parodies galore, it has the Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg “talking about taking the entire social experience of college and putting it online.”
Mr. Roth said that he deeply admired “The Social Network,” and that he thought that it could secure its place in history with a simple bon mot.
But “is there a great line” in it? he pondered. Its best lines, Mr. Roth said, were not as “sophomoric” as his own much-quoted speeches from “Forrest Gump.” Who could forget “Stupid is as stupid does”?
Neither are they quite as angry as Paddy Chayefsky’s mad-as-hell work in “Network,” from 1976, he noted.
But, Mr. Roth said, there is still time for viewers to find a word or two that will sum up “The Social Network” — much as “plastics” did for “The Graduate,” with a script by Calder Willingham and Buck Henry, in 1967. Besides, memorable words have a way of popping up when they are least expected. “The minute you write this, you’ll be proved wrong,” Mr. Roth predicted.
As Quentin Tarantino wrote in “Inglourious Basterds,” just last year, “That’s a bingo.”
Later that night, I thought about how frequently people (myself included) are too scared to speak. We worry about what someone might think of us, or we talk ourselves out of going after what we want because we don’t believe we deserve it. And then we wonder why we’re dissatisfied with the situations we’ve created for ourselves.
Vulnerability is often seen as a sign of weakness, but paradoxically, the more you embrace it, the more courageous you become.
“Choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there,
unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black,
and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.”—Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar, Chapter 7
This song is like the [modern-day] answer to David Byrne’s [only] love song. The speaker and the subject are in love, but the subject is unsatisfied. I think the song is meant to depict the complicated mix of emotions involved in love, whereas Byrne’s vision of being there (home) was rather myopic. You can be there and still be apprehensive. One may call it “settling,” but I think it’s more about readjusting our unrealistic, overly simplified expectations about the complexity of love (and life—I do feel this theme is also intended to apply more generally to the confusion and complexity of being human and trying to relate to others but still feeling alone). The last line (“until the night”) is especially indicative of the premise that life and love are only simple and easy in one’s dreams.
Like a lot of people, my first boyfriend was Jesus. I pined and pined and pined after him because it was the only way he’d pay attention. Well… that, or you break a leg on the beach. When that happens, he picks you up, and walks along the shore. You know, instead of calling an ambulance, which is the sensible thing to do. But no, he has to do it all. And everyone gets to watch and they fall in love with him thinking “oh he’s so strong and mighty and rad.” Then you just look like a drunk loser.
My second boyfriend was my dad. Don’t worry, I don’t mean we got biblical. Ew. I mean, I worshipped him and he took care of me. And pining and pining and pining after him was the only way he’d pay attention to me. He left anyway. Then he came back.
Men love their exes more than anything. Take Jesus for example. He’s sent people out soliciting me since I left for college. (Can anyone say arch-nemesis hey-ooo.)
A friend of mine once described me as “a girl girlfriends hate.” Not because of sex appeal, or because I broke any homes, but because I demonstrated no loyalty to anyone, and therefore demonstrated loyalty to everyone. Including men with girlfriends who wanted to be their One. I was “anti-singularity” despite myself before I could articulate, break down, and cry about the fact that I was actually “singularity disabled.”
For the record, I’ve only been “the other woman” once. And for once, I want to be The One to someone who is The One. [This would be a great time for me to make a programming joke about 1s and 0s.]
So in case you were wondering, THAT is the biological clock. Not babies, not hormones. It’s knowing you’re running out of time finding that Godforsaken “One.” And I don’t mean marriage. I mean True Love. And by the time you’re in your 30s, you’ve been in enough relationships to know the next one probably will end in fire. Well… that, or you break your leg on a beach and you’re sleeping with your ex again.
It’s not guilty feet or careless whispers that’ll stop me from ever dancing again (yes I made a George Michael reference shut up and enjoy the song. As a friend pointed out yesterday, the song could run backing to any pivotal scene in a film. So I think I can use it for a tumblr post huh?).
I’m never going to dance again because my dancing partner doesn’t want to dance with me.
Now brace yourselves. I’m turning this table 180 degrees.
I’m never going to dance again because I want, more, than, anything on Earth not to want to be that idiot pining for one person, and if I can’t have One, dammit, I’m not going to dance and break another leg.
Ray Charles - Born to Lose (Editor’s note: I went to the far reaches of the internets to find this gem. It’s a bootleg from a set he played at Austin City Limits in 1979. It’s way better than the studio recording, with the unnecessary strings accompaniment.)
When my dad gave me a stack of his old college paperbacks, I think the education he hoped to foster was aesthetic, not erotic. But one of the books was Lolita, and to a twelve-year-old boy with passable reading comprehension skills, the twelve-year-old girl with the “honey-hued shoulders” and the apple-patterned dress was, above all else, sexy:
There my beauty lay down on her stomach, showing me, showing the thousand eyes wide open in my eyed blood, her slightly raised shoulder blades, and the bloom along the incurvation of her spine, and the swellings of her tense narrow nates clothed in black, and the seaside of her schoolgirl thighs.
At least Nabokov was teaching me fresh vocabulary. I had to look up nates, of course, but another new word, nymphet, was helpfully defined throughout the book. Suddenly I saw the world through wiser eyes. Who among my seventh-grade classmates, I wondered with a frisson, was such a creature? What girl had that “soul-shattering, insidious charm” that, while invisible to me, made the antennae of certain adult males tremble?
For much of middle school, I’d been enamored of a smart and introverted girl in my grade. I’ll call her Anna. Red-haired, freckled, and painfully pale, Anna was hardly a dead ringer for Dolores Haze, but I was observant enough to recognize the “ineffable signs—the slightly feline outline of a cheekbone, the slenderness of a downy limb”—that marked her as a nymphet.
My imagination required a corresponding nympholept, and the Humbert Humbert of Brunswick Middle School could only be our affable fourth-period teacher, a tall, handsome, offhandedly suave man who was soon slipping in Anna’s bedroom window to ravish her—and be ravished by her—on a nightly basis, as a perturbed cocker spaniel looked on. (I’d once overheard her mention her dog at school.) I loathed and admired him. How could I ever hope to compete?
What Nabokov prettified with a murderer’s fancy prose style, I saw with bracing clarity. This was 1995, and hardcore Internet porn was not yet easily accessible to twelve-year-olds, but my imagination was ambitious. No permutation of heterosexual sex escaped it.
Let me re-emphasize that their trysts took place entirely inside my head. I spent most fourth periods in a daze, playing obscene scenarios on a mental loop. Whenever I tired of one (her parents are sleeping, and Anna and our teacher have to be quiet), another effortlessly assembled itself (our class goes on an overnight field trip, and Anna and our teacher have adjoining rooms). I was like the narrator of James Salter’s A Sport and a Pastime, constructing an elaborate erotic saga that starred two people I hardly knew.
Underneath it all ran a current of guilt. Even if I didn’t quite grasp the nature of my radical misreading of the novel—Humbert’s a predator, not a competitor—I understood that for the majority of readers it didn’t tend to provoke reactions like mine. How weird and fucked-up was I?
Years later, in high school, Anna became my first girlfriend. Occasionally I’d look at her and remember with a jolt of mortification the six weeks or so she spent as one of my mental sex puppets. We had a running game of asking each other, “What are you thinking?” at unexpected moments, and the unspoken rule was that you had to answer honestly. I always did, but she never asked at the right time. That was probably for the best.