July 27th, 2008

christmas 2008

"American Teen" - truly a slice of reality on film...


Late Thursday night, one particular Facebook status update caught my attention. It implored me to "go see AMERICAN TEEN this weekend. It sums up the high school experience. and i have a special place in my heart for them." I popped over to the movie's site, watched the trailer, and was hooked. I wanted to see this thing with a quickness. The movie's site said it'd open "in select cities" on Friday. Only after subsequent navigation to the movie's Facebook page did I discover that "select cities" really meant "three theaters in Los Angeles and two in New York." Fortunately for both me and the person who posted that update (I'll call her "ThePublicist" - and she did have a vested interest in the movie), New York is only two hours' drive from New London. Not only that, I was already thinking about heading to the city for another reason - seeing this movie made the trip a done deal.

Despite paying twelve American dollars to be admitted to the Sunshine on East Houston Street, I found American Teen both funny and moving. I missed the first few minutes, but the remainder that I did see was more than worth what I paid. It captured so much of what it was to be in high school. Barely a minute went by without me reflecting on some aspect of my own teenage years - or laughing hysterically. Each of the five characters' experiences brought something back for me. While Colin, Mitch, and Megan only reminded me of particular experiences, Jake and Hannah really resonated. I've got to give it to Jake for having the stugots to keep after a girlfriend. He was certainly a braver man than I was a decade ago. His love of the video games (because he always gets the girl at the end) was familiar to me, as was the desire to retreat to a world where I could ensure an ultimately favorable outcome. Jake had the most memorable line of the entire film, when he confessed his fear that the future would be the same as - or worse than - the present. It was exactly that fear that completely dominated my senior year. I loved Hannah's vulnerability, and the way the movie portrayed the hurt she felt after losing her love. When I saw her in the party, all the popular kids socializing around her, and completely ignoring her - I'd been there. She also won major points from me for bouncing back (twice), staying true to herself, and standing up to her parents. I'll lay money that if she'd been in my shoes five and a half years ago, she wouldn't have joined the Navy or any other service. There were so many other things about this movie that were just done right. Megan's college acceptance scene was perfect - I was apprehensive as she was handed the (false) thin letter, and then relieved as she opened the fat envelope. Colin's need to secure a basketball scholarship to finance his college education reminded me of just how fortunate certain circumstances fell for me - circumstances that put the Ivy League within my reach.

There were some things that I found unfamiliar; despite being exposed to them many a time over the years, I never got to experience them in person. Two in particular came to mind as I watched - the mentality toward athletics and the post-graduation plans of the class as a whole. In both cases, myself, ThePublicist, and the three hundred fifty-six others who graduated from Northport High nine years ago most probably had the atypical experience. Of course, by setting the movie at a school in Indiana, basketball would have to play a part. You really see how the entire Warsaw community tends to turn on the fortunes of the boys' basketball team. The sports angle isn't explored in nearly as much depth as was seen in Varsity Blues or Friday Night Lights, but it still reminded me that I came from a place where there wasn't a huge premium on teams' performance. And instances of people not being able to afford to go to college were rare in Northport a decade ago - given the continued accrual of affluence there, I'm sure they're nearly nonexistent today. Though I was lucky to have things go right to get me the funds to attend Cornell (funds that I completely repaid to my parents, mind you), there was really never a question of me going to college or not. I might have ended up going to a public school, but I would have been going nonetheless. I can't honestly relate to a situation where my failure to perform on the court (or in my case, the lanes, because bowling was the only sport I did in high school) would prevent me from going to college altogether.

At many points during American Teen, I wondered to myself, "what is (s)he thinking?" Usually, too much drama was being introduced into the situation, or a character was making something bigger than it needed to be. But I continually reminded myself that I had the benefit of nine-plus years of post-high school experience. If they - or any high-schooler - suck at that point in time, that's totally fine. Watching this brought back to me, in stark detail, how much I totally sucked in the late nineties. What matters is that they avoid the thinking that befalls so many high-school athletes - the belief that their life will peak at seventeen or eighteen. The one thing I took away from this movie more than any other was the desire to reassure the characters that their trials and tribulations were normal, and that their best days were unquestionably ahead of them. American Teen is well worth both the price of admission and an hour and forty minutes of your time - and it should get a wider release so more people can experience it.
christmas 2008

I love New York...

Photobucketa little bit of history...

...but no, Tiffany Pollard does not figure at all into this post. Ambience is provided by Cascada, whose most recent album is titled "Perfect Day." Friday was damned close.

I awoke to my alarm at 10 am, and sat down to my computer to discover an IM from RB. He related that he and his ex-girlfriend had tickets to the night's Mets game at Shea Stadium; apparently, he'd read my entry from Thursday night, and was compelled to inform me. That, along with certain Facebook status updates from the previous night, sealed it up - I was heading to New York City for the first time since December 2006. I quickly formulated my game plan - drive to the vicinity of Shea, buy my ticket, take the subway into downtown Manhattan, consume film, subway back out to Queens (with a dinner stop), watch the game, and drive home. Driving into and out of NYC meant that I wouldn't be drinking; thankfully, a live sporting event is something I don't need any alcohol at all to enjoy. The drive in got nasty in the Bronx, but my pimp-ass navigational skill kept me moving and got me to Flushing in good time. Just one problem - the game day box office wasn't open at 2 pm. I waited for about half an hour, and then decided I'd purchase admission later. Thus I boarded the John Rocker Memorial Line - the "7" train; along with the "4", it got me to SoHo a bit later than I'd have liked. After viewing "American Teen," I took a combination of several lines to Penn Station. Why Penn, you ask? Because it was the closest stop to the one White Castle in Midtown. After that dinner, I got back on the subway and got myself back to Shea, counting myself fortunate to catch an express "7" train.

Upon reaching the ticket window, I still had no idea where RB would be seated, so I took the first available seat offered to me - and it was way up the third-base line. The location wasn't bad, and once I was seated, I commenced calling and texting RB to discern his location. He finally got back to me at 7:20 - the second inning. He was on the complete opposite side of the stadium from me, and I resolved to meet up with him later. The game started slow, but the Mets gradually got rolling. One in the third, two in the fourth, and three in the fifth gave the Amazin's a comfortable cushion, and it was more than enough for Mike Pelfrey, who only yielded one run over seven innings. The home run apple made two appearances - Carlos Delgado brought it up in the fifth, and Argenis Reyes' solo shot (above) gave the Mets their last run in the seventh. That jack was extra special, as it was the first career homer for the young second baseman. Albert Pujols was booed at each appearance; his performance, 0-for-5 with three strikeouts, was most welcome. Also booed was Cardinals catcher Yadier "Pennant Stealer" Molina. Despite a scare in the top of the ninth, New York won 7-2. Another highlight was seeing WFAN's Steve Somers update the countdown of games remaining at Shea. Not so cool was the fact that nearly all public address announcements were made only in Spanish, as it was "Merengue Night" at Shea.

Also not cool was NOT seeing RB! In the middle of the eighth, I crossed Shea's upper deck to find him and catch up. I resumed calling and texting him, but to no avail, nor could I find him in the stands. I hung out for about ten minutes after the game, but he wasn't there. My guess is that he left once the Mets had the game safely in hand, not wanting to fall victim to the traffic that had plagued his transit into the city. I assured him, via voicemail, that we'd discuss it when I return to my ancestral home next week. Once that was resolved, there was little for me to do but roll the Minivan o' War back up here to New London. I must make quick mention of the fact that the eye candy shop was in full effect on Friday. In every direction I looked, beautiful girls, prettily dressed. All in all, a great trip. I can't call it perfect because I didn't see RB, I didn't meet Razzy, and I didn't get laid - but still, it was a great way to start off leave.