Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Obsessions for Men

My good friend Jesse has issues with food because his stomach doesn’t always do its job correctly, and as a result he can only keep down certain victuals. He understands that this limits his diet to a pretty bland smorgasbord of unseasoned breads and tall glasses of water, and he’s at peace with this arrangement.

Sometimes, however, Jesse bumps into a genuinely delicious, succulent morsel of something his stomach will actually accept, and then over the next three weeks he’ll eat almost nothing but that one delicious food (And who can blame him?). For example, senior year of college it was these apple muffins, which I’ll admit were pretty stinkin’ yumtastic.

The point is that Jesse’s food isn’t the only example in history of someone growing temporarily obsessed with something. We all do it, and the following is just an assemblage of a few of my own current obsessions…

Paper Back Swap

You can ask Amy; in a lot of ways I’m a cheap S.O.B. I unplug the Nintendo Wii all the time because even when it’s off the little yellow light still shines, and that’s energy that could be saved. I’ll say no to cheese on my Whopper at Burger King because it banks like 20 cents a burger. I even saved money on Amy’s engagement ring by just turning a quarter in one of those little jewelry dispensers in the Wal-Mart lobby.

So when something comes my way touted as “free” when I normally would’ve spent money on that something, I get incredibly happy. Like REALLY happy. Sometimes I even pee a little.

And paperbackswap.com made me pee a little.

Basically what happened is that I joined this site (it’s free) and sent out all of my old crappy books to people who inexplicably wanted them, and in return I got several “new” used books from other members for free.

I’ve been reading like a fiend of late, tearing through the new novels that arrive in my mailbox with faithful regularity. Let’s face it—nothing is more fun than getting a package in the mail, even when you know exactly what it is. And now I’m getting packages in the mail all the time. FREE packages!

This is my website du jour, and I highly recommend any of you bibliophiles out there to check it out. I know I’ve suggested this to many of you before, but I mean it this time. Go trade free books.

Oops… Amy plugged the Wii back in. Be right back…

Dexter

Let me drop this premise on you and see what you think. There’s this serial killer who’s been jacked up his whole life, but because he was raised by a good cop who could tell the kid had issues, he was taught to kill only bad people to satiate his urges, and also how to avoid being caught.

So this kid grows up killing all these people who deserve it (a la “The Boondock Saints”) while also working as a blood spatter analyst for the Miami forensics department. He uses his knowledge as a serial killer to help catch other serial killers for the city, and he uses his resources at the precinct to help him track down his next victims.

That’s the premise of the show “Dexter,” which sadly appears on Showtime but which non-sadly can be rented on DVD at your friendly neighborhood video store. Season one is out, while season two is just getting started back up on Showtime. Amy and I are infatuated.

The greatest thing about this series is that it’s based off of books written by Jeff Lindsay, who is a pretty fun author to read. Season one of the show was based off of “Darkly Dreaming Dexter,” and I can only guess that season two will be based off of “Dearly Devoted Dexter.”

The new book, “Dexter in the Dark,” comes out in a couple of weeks, and I want it. If anyone feels like purchasing me a gift for no reason at all, that would be a great place to start for ideas.

Home Videos to DVD

Thanks to Kevin Clark—a friend whom I have worked closely with over the last few weeks to defeat the Crystal Cup on “Mario Strikers,” an awesome arcade-style soccer game for Wii—I now have use of a DVD recorder, which is basically a VCR that uses blank discs instead of blank tapes.

So I’ve begun the process of transferring Amy’s and my old home videos to DVD. I could easily just record each tape and leave the disc as is, but I want fancy menus and chapters, so the technological hoops I’m jumping through right now are keeping me nice and dizzy.

The end result will be worth it, because the tape of my first birthday is one I don’t want to wear out. I smash cake in my face and get it all over the place, a habit I have yet to break to this day.

There’s also the classic in which four-year-old Amy sings the alphabet, coming to the climactic part of the song where instead of “L-M-N-O-P,” she strings together, “M-N-L-N-O-O-P.” It’s just the cutest damn thing. But not as cute as me smashing cake into my face at age 12 months. We’ve got to keep things in perspective, here.

Jonathon Safran Foer

I watched “Everything is Illuminated” a couple of years ago, which stars Elijah Wood, and I did not like it. I think this was for two main reasons:

1. I loathe, detest, and abhor Elijah Wood as both an actor and a human being, and:
2. The book “Everything is Illuminated” is so thoughtful and descriptive and complex that turning it into a movie could only bastardize the poetry of the original version. Since I hadn’t read the book before watching the movie, I absolutely didn’t get the point of the film.

Of course, once I finally did read the book I felt so much more involved with the characters and wrapped up in the story. It was almost mythological, fable-like—but also funny and thoughtful and prosaic.

The author is my age, which perhaps helps me relate to him more, but for whatever reason I finished the book bewildered. In a good way. Like when you were a kid and you’d spin around and around in circle for twenty minutes for no other reason other than when you finally stopped, it would feel cool.

More recently I read “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close,” also by Foer, which follows the sad adventures of a child prodigy named Oskar Schell. It got me thinking about life and family and love and fortune, and by the time I finished reading it I felt emotionally cleansed. I can’t wait to read it again. And “Everything is Illuminated,” too, for that matter.

Foer is young, but he’s a great author, and I can’t wait for the next one to be written. I’ve actually considered writing him a letter to thank him for such great work—something I’ve never done before—but that seems kinda fruity.

Besides, why spend the 41 cents on a stamp? I’d need to skip the cheese on my next two Whoppers to afford that.

1 comment:

Wade said...

now how can i buy you the book if i dont know your exact address anymore? email me wadekoehler@gmail.com