“You know, picking up girls at the karaoke bar might not be such a bad idea.”
I considered before turning back to Rob.
“Because, you know, yeah they might be kind of losery if they’re at a karaoke bar at 4pm on a Monday…”
Rob completed the thought.
“But then again so are we.”
As my therapist put it, I was “reaping the benefits of unemployment”, deciding spur-of-the-moment on a Monday afternoon that, while editing my movie was important, karaoke was important too.
I had been meaning to go out karaokeing for some time, as evidenced by my iPhone list entitled: “songs to karaoke”.
I had built up a pretty good reserve of songs, with a little diversity: “Sister Golden Hair” by America, “Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground” by The White Stripes, “White Wedding” by Billy Idol–all white guys who I think I could do a good approximation of.
My strategy for karaoke–for better or worse–has always been stuck in the mindset of a video game. Karaoke was never about doing a song badly. Jesus! If you brought a bad game to Dance Dance Revolution, you’d fail out and lose your dollar entry fee.
No, Karaoke was a man’s game; a test to see whether you could do justice, ironic or otherwise, to a song through your own nasally vocal approximations.
Thus, I had chosen on my list of songs people who I thought I could do well by, songs that I could rock out to, instead-of-half-forget the lyrics, and stuff like Dylan or Counting Crows (Rob’s favorite) that my voice could in some passable way approximate.
Which is not to say such is the only good or viable strategy for Karaoke. Ro-Beardo Malone, my partner in crime for the 4pm Karaoke sesh, loves campy action-movies from the 70s and 80s and some baritone showtunes.
The people at the bar we went to even requested he do his version of “Put on Your Sunday Clothes” from WALL-E by way of Hello, Dolly!.
His version are often lounge-singery, veering towards Richard-Cheese like parody which might be annoying if he didn’t so honestly love these songs. I listened to him do not one, but two obscure James Bond theme songs (“The Man With The Golden Gun” and Carly Simon’s theme from “The Spy Who Loved Me”) with relish and when he was finished the whole bar applauded.
However, drinking actually makes your karaokeing better, unlike every other skill (except for hitting on women, bowling and of course, drinking more) and as the afternoon went on, Rob and I traded song by song as I raised his Hello, Dolly! with some 42nd Street of my own, singing “Lullaby of Broadway” wth a ridiculous bass affected mostly by the fact that they had run out of 3-dollar Stella Artois, so I was forced to drink a hoppy 3-dollar Magic Hat No. 9. Still, the brew did wonders for my Tom Wopat impression as I belted out.
“Listen to–the Lu-La-Bye–of Broooooooooad-way!” I crooned into the microphone.
And the crowd went wild.
The crowd being a gay couple, one of the marketing-research office group people who had ducked out from work and the bartender’s friend from Kansas.
Rob assured me he would have applauded, but that he was busy at the time in the crapper.
“You should. It was the best decision I ever made.” Rob told me.
Earlier in the day, pre-karaoke, Rob and I were sitting around with our friend and incognito 16-year-old Blake LaRue while he applied small labels to cameras and tried to gloat about the Bruce Springsteen concert that he was going to be attending at Giants Stadium.
“His last concert at Giants Stadium–ever!” Blake exclaimed, with a youthful crack-of-his-voice.
“You know, if Jason Lee goes to see this concert.” Rob mentioned, citing our mutual friend. “It will be the third time he’s seen Springsteen this year.”
Jason Lee, a friend and cynical-glasses-wearing Asian, had been engaged in a discussion with me via text-message with me about coded echoes of the Kennedy assassinations at the Bonnaroo Music Festival and how the films of Kenji Mizoguchi could be remade into gay slasher-flicks–
My suggestion: Sansho the Gayliff
–jokes so blatantly film-nerdy and fun that they made me kind of, well, nostalgic.
“But, yeah.” Rob said, returning to the conversation. “You should join.”
What he was referring to was NetFlix, which I did capitulate and finally join.
I realized from my iPhone list of “movies to watch” (iPhone lists being the only way I stay sane in a post-structured world) that I had a lot of movies I just wouldn’t see on my own unless someone sent them to me.
So I added the films people had told me to watch–a diverse list: Shadows and Fog (Allen), Stray Dog (Kurosawa), JCVD (Van Damme), Beerfest (Chandrasekhar), along with some movies I had heard mentioned by Malone and hs Malonesters like Ishtar, Shampoo and McCabe and Mrs. Miller. (By the end of talking to them, I was pretty sure they all just had crushes on Warren Beaty.)
However, even though I’ve done so unsuccessfully in the past, I’d like to open this up again.
Friends, Countrymen, Love-interests-I’ve-(almost)-forgotten, Random-teachers/Stalkerish-friends-of-my-parents!
What movies should I watch?
My therapist told me today that I was “an encyclopedic resource of cinema”, to which I replied to her, dually, “No” and “I’ve wasted my life”.
But honestly, picking out a movie is like picking out where you are going to get lunch: you might pick something finally, but someone could have probably saved you the trouble by just telling you where to go.
So give me a movie to watch–genre is unimportant, good is a genre–and I’ll check it out.
Send me a message.
Because during this time of “fun-employment”, catching up on movies, well, every cloud has a cloud lining.
I finished a video game today.
A sense of mourning came over me.
I only really play RPGs (Role-Playing Games) which are almost entirely story-based, dating back to the original procedures of a game like Dungeons and Dragons, which is literally out of book.
Casting an eye as to why I might enjoy video games so much, other than the idea that they put my brain into somewhat of a narcotic stasis, may have to do with my childhood, reading fantasy novels: LeGuinn, Pierce, Aspirin.
In someways when I accepted the mantle of talking to people and choosing a life of friendship, I gave up a life of books.
And, not wanting to step into the past with all its connotations, books, especially fantasy, became a place of no return.
Maybe video games, RPGs, with magic and robots and the rest, are my way of exhuming my past, of reliving it.
Because really a video game is no more than a story, another world to enter, quick/addictive and denuding at its end.
You wrap yourself in it, warming, a world, for as long as it takes you, until it leaves you cold and alone, scurrying like an animal, towards the next shelter.