Thursday, July 23, 2015

BoJack Horseman Is Weird In All The Right Ways

            It’s bizarre, unconventional, disturbing at times, and often downright depressing.  The entire series revolves around talking animals living side by side with humans in an oversatirized, animated version of Hollywood.  Think Entourage meets Family Guy, but instead of a happy ending, every episode inevitably ends in tragedy.  Netflix’s BoJack Horseman brings a dimension to animated comedies that is unprecedented on television.
            The lead, BoJack, played by Will Arnett, and his sidekick, Todd, played by Aaron Paul, share with us their daily lives as former Hollywood star and freeloading roommate.  Amy Sedaris (Princess Carolyn) and Alison Brie (Diane) also play key roles in this underratedly talented cast.
            But, this isn’t a review.  I don’t want to spoil the show for people who haven’t watched it yet.  I also must admit that many people have found BoJack to be uninteresting and not worth their time.  That’s because it’s not the mindless time-killer that Family Guy has become.  This series must be watched from the beginning, in order, to truly appreciate the intricate society and character development that creator Raphael Bob-Waksberg has so delicately employed.

            Nevertheless, I watched the entire first season in one day.  The second season just came out, so now both are available in their entirety on Netflix.  You could watch the show in its entirety in less than 12 hours.  I’d highly recommend starting with season 1, episode 1.  Without further ado, enjoy, and let me know what you think.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Don't Settle

            When I was in elementary school, if someone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I answered without hesitation: second baseman for the Baltimore Orioles.  It was so na├»ve, but my face lit up every time I said it.  To put it simply, I loved baseball, and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else for a living.  Then a couple years went by, and a couple more, and at some point it became evident that I was never going to be a professional baseball player.
            Some say, with age comes wisdom.  In my experience, however, with age comes cynicism.  Not only do I no longer believe that I’ll play baseball professionally one day, but worse, I fear I’ll never find a job that brings me true enjoyment.  By some miracle that I cannot comprehend, many of my peers seem to know exactly what they’d like to do with their lives.  Meanwhile, I can’t decide whether I’d rather be a plumber or an investment banker (or more likely, neither).
            So, when did the future shift so dramatically from being a dream to a nightmare?  For most of my life, the future meant opportunity and independence, infinite possibility.  After all those years, though, this “future” is inevitably coming my way in May, and any sense of opportunity I once had has been replaced with fear and angst.  I can hardly explain what a marketing job entails; yet, I’m expected to find one that pays well enough that I no longer have to rely on my parents for support.
            Suppose I do find a job out of college, and I don’t hate it, and I’m not broke.  Perhaps, I’m doing something meaningful for this world.  I even have my own place and friends to share it with.  I get season tickets for the Orioles and play golf on the weekends.  My life is shaping up exactly how it’s supposed to, exactly how everyone expects it to.  This reality is not outside the realm of possibility.
            Yet, for some reason, that prospect doesn’t quite do it for me.  For kids, the promise of growing up one day is often enough motivation to push forward.  The question I keep asking these days is what happens when you’re already there?  If I figure it all out before I graduate, then what will I have left to live for?

So, in the end, I’d rather not worry too much about what I’ll be doing next year.  I have no plans of peaking at age 22.  While everyone else treats graduation like the be all and end all of our young lives, I’ll keep looking in the same direction I always have, forward.  That first job is undoubtedly important, but so are the second, and the third.  I’m not concerned about making it to the next step; I always have, one way or another.  After all, we’re too young to settle down, and more importantly, we’re too old not to strive for something more.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Chapter 3

Chapter 3: The Bar Mitzvah Experience
            Flashback to April 2007.  Miguel Tejada was the Orioles starting shortstop.  Don’t Matter by Akon was #1 on the Billboard Top 40.  Disturbia was at the head of the box office, with Shia Labeouf convincing every teenage boy that it was okay to spy on their neighbors.
            At this point, Jake had been to about 40 Bar Mitzvahs, but it felt more like a million.  Every weekend he went to synagogue and watched his friends chant Hebrew verses, voices cracking, white teeth covered in steel wire and neon rubber bands.  He was now an expert at putting on a tie, and it wasn’t even a zip-up.  He went to more Saturday night parties in seventh grade than the average college student.  Back then, Jake didn’t fully appreciate his father’s willingness to be his personal chauffeur.
            On this particular evening, when he stepped out of his dad’s Volvo convertible, Jake had a plan.  He’d had enough of the corndogs and chocolate fountains.  Airbrushed t-shirts, glow in the dark sunglasses, and Guitar Hero were no longer of primary interest.  He’d been waiting a long time for this night (since last Saturday to be exact), and there was no room for distractions.
            His first step was locating the DJ.  Any seventh grader at Jewish day school knew that befriending the man in charge of the music was the key to a successful Bar Mitzvah party experience.  Of course, 99% of the songs that would play that night were guaranteed to be poppy crap, but the other 1% was of the utmost importance: the slow song.
            At the time, You’re Beautiful by James Blunt was all the rage, but Jake knew better.  So, he calmly approached the booth and explained to DJ Mikey Mike that he absolutely must play Collide by Howie Day before the night’s festivities were over.  Of course, Mikey knew Jake well—a local high school student, he had handled at least a dozen Bar Mitzvahs for them already.  Mikey grinned at the eager youngster and promised that he’d make it happen.
            An hour later, after Jake had gone through the make your own ice cream sundae bar twice and had almost forgotten his earlier request, the lights dimmed.  The DJ announced that it was time for obligatory, awkward, middle school slow dance (although he undoubtedly phrased it more eloquently).
Jake scanned the room for her.  She was the love of his life, or so he thought in his thirteen-year-old naivety.  Alison Goldberg was the cream of the crop when it came to middle school females.  He spotted her across the ballroom and began walking towards her, finally ready to proceed on his over-calculated night’s plan.  All he had to do, now, was ask her to dance.
But, before he could make his move, he was interrupted by a gentle tap on the shoulder.  He flinched, and spun around, only to find a face that he hardly recognized.
“You’re Jake, right?”  This strange girl with curly, brown hair and a pointy face asked him, as if he was supposed to know exactly who she was.
“Yeah,” he replied, although his mind was clearly elsewhere, “what’s up?”
“I’m Jessie,” the girl smiled sheepishly, “I’ve heard all about you.  Would you like to dance with me?”
He tried to hide the shock on his face.  This definitely wasn’t the plan, but she was kind of cute.  He looked up and Alison already had another boy’s hands around her waste.
There was no choice now, so, Jake said, “Sure,” and Jessie grabbed his hand, dragging him to the middle of the dance floor.  She held him around the shoulders, and stared into his eyes, as Howie Day sang his favorite lyrics over an acoustic guitar.  Almost immediately, he forgot the name Ali Goldberg, entranced with this new, mysterious, specimen.
A few moments later, as the song came to a close, Jessie leaned in and kissed him on the cheek.  He didn’t know how to react—this had never happened before—so he just smiled, blushing.  Then, just as suddenly, she walked away.

Jake wouldn’t see her again for quite some time.