Tag Archives: Los Angeles

I Just Watched the Complete Series of Six Feet Under and All I Got was This Lousy Sense of Existential Dread

11 Sep
Six Feet Under starring Rachel Griffiths, Peter Krause, Michael C.Hall, Frances Conroy, Lauren Ambrose, Freddy Rodriguez, Mathew St. Patrick, Justina Machado, Jeremy Sisto and James Cromwell

Six Feet Under: starring Rachel Griffiths, Peter Krause, Michael C.Hall, Frances Conroy, Lauren Ambrose, Freddy Rodriguez, Mathew St. Patrick, Justina Machado, Jeremy Sisto and James Cromwell.

I am not a traditional television binge watcher, but it took me a little over a month to watch all 63 episodes of the 2001-2005 HBO series Six Feet Under, and today, I can say that I am finished with the series.  The show, which follows the Fisher family, a multigenerational clam operating a funeral home in Los Angeles.  The show opens with the death of its patriarch, the mysterious Nathaniel Fisher, whose life remains somewhat of a mystery to his three children Nate (Peter Krause), David (Michael C. Hall) and Claire (Lauren Ambrose).  To me, the show was a bit dated and filled with references to things that no one speaks about now – Sarah McLachlan, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, and old cellphones, but if you can move past that bit of weird frozen-in-time feeling, you will make it through the series.

One of the things that I believe makes the series very difficult to watch is the low likability of several of the main characters.  We often see some members of the Fisher family and their surrounding characters acting in very selfish and narrow-minded ways.  Rico (Freddy Rodriguez) is one of the characters who only continued to build in his self-righteous and self-preserving ways.  I will never understand why Rico continued his employ and later partnership with David and Nate – he always seemed ready to fight with nearly everyone.  Rico’s character also provides moral conflict when the supposedly upstanding religious father and husband begins an affair with Sophia, a stripper who apparently gives him the best BJ ever, placing his marriage in jeopardy.  This storyline eventually becomes so stale that there is no way audience can continue to support Rico, and his character essentially becomes tarnished for the remainder of the series.

The major theme of the series of course is death, and each episode of the series begins with a death that demonstrates the delicate nature of life and the possibility that death is always nearby and a very real possibility.  Of course, from the pilot opening with the death of Nathaniel Fisher (Richard Jenkins), and the final episode of the series imagining the future deaths of the major characters of the show, the series stays true to its theme.  Despite this strength, the series is marred by a parade of selfish, over-bearing characters who are concerned with nothing but themselves.  Perhaps this is the aspect of the show that is truest to life, as learning that most people are selfish by nature is a part of reality.

Nate Fisher (Peter Krause) is a character who never quite gets over the fact that there is little more to life than getting older, working a job that you probably don’t really care for, and having difficulties in personal relationships.  He is consistently selfish in his interactions with his longtime on-again/off-again girlfriend Brenda Chenowith (Rachel Griffiths), which leads me to believe that Nate is actually the unbalanced person in that relationship, and not the long-suffering Brenda.  A good portion of Nate’s storyline finds him struggling with the idea of death, especially when he learns that he has a medical condition known as AVM, an abnormal connection between arteries and veins in the brain.  This will become important again later in the series.

Brenda, often portrayed as the “crazy one” on the series (alongside her brother), was formerly the subject of a psychology book studying her odd behavior as a child (Charlotte Light and Dark), is thoroughly damaged by her wealthy psychiatrist parents who were openly sexual in front of her and her brother Billy.  Billy Chenowith (Jeremy Sisto) is Brenda’ s bipolar artist brother who has a relationship with Claire early in the series and again once more later on.  Billy, seemingly forever unstable, later confesses to Brenda that he is in love with her – one of the few moments in the series that caused me to audibly gasp out loud.

Out of the more impressive performances in the series, Frances Conroy as Ruth Fisher, the widowed matriarch, is followed on a near-endless series of romantic mishaps and frustrations.  It is interesting to see an older woman struggling to not only reconcile the death of her husband, but to also seek love in unlikely places.  We think that Ruth finds true happiness and love with George Sibley (James Cromwell), but we see how that relationship has its own flaws.  Ruth’s experiences serve as a mirror of reality for viewers, teaching them that although life is ultimately good, it is filled with endless challenges and surprises.  My favorite character on the show is David Fisher (Michael C. Hall), Nate’s initially closeted brother and the heir apparent of the Fisher and Sons funeral home.  This is the most genuine performance on the series, with David confronting nearly every fear and personal problem possible.  His tumultuous relationship with Keith (Matthew St. Patrick) is a major focus of the show, in addition to the couple’s struggles to have a child.  For a television show produced in the early aughts, this is groundbreaking writing and focus on a committed homosexual couple, which was really never seen before.  Michael C. Hall, who later went on to play Dexter Morgan on Showtime’s series about a moral serial killer, is a national treasure as far as I’m concerned.  There is, however, a very long storyline involving an incident in which David was held at gunpoint by a crazed stranger that continues to drag on far too long.

Overall, the series is a great precursor to Alan Ball’s later work, which of course includes another familiar HBO series, True Blood.   The subject matter of Six Feet Under is daring for the time in which it aired, bringing death, humanity, and sexuality to the forefront of paid cable television.  This is one of the original series that established HBO as a powerhouse, as it originally aired on Sundays, following The Sopranos.

My biggest criticism of the series is perhaps not a valid criticism at all, but I truly was annoyed by several characters on a regular basis.  The biggest offender of this was the character of Nate Fisher, Jr., who is also the protagonist of the series.  In his relationship with Brenda, I found him to be insufferably selfish, and when he later marries Lisa out of obligation (i.e., pregnancy), he becomes even more unbearably obnoxious.  I suppose the goal of Nate’s character was to show us that life really does not have to be something amazing that we imagine in our heads – it can simply be what we have, and our obligation is to enjoy it as best we can.  Nate’s narcissistic worldview that he was worth more than being a funeral director and worth more than being with Brenda was hard to watch.  If you make it to season five, some of Nate’s actions will leave you very upset, including a fateful scene in which Nate crosses the line.

If you can bear the thought of watching a show with the primary theme of death, Six Feet Under is worth watching.  However, be prepared to wallow in thoughts of death and dying for far too long during your day.  This series successfully explores the classic question of existentialism: what does it all mean?

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Going Clear and the Obvious Narcissism of L. Ron Hubbard

4 Apr

Tom Cruise Scientology Cover Photo

I just finished the new HBO documentary Going Clear, and all I can say is: my, oh my.  This terrifying documentary exposes more about Scientology than I ever knew.  What is most clear to me is that Scientology, as a whole, is a product of narcissistic abuse.  If I were to hypothesize anything about its founder, L. Ron Hubbard, it’s that he most likely qualified as someone suffering from Narcissistic Personality Disorder of the cerebral variety.  Hubbard, who started as a pulp fiction writer, eventually wrote Dianetics, which would become the basis of Scientology and an exploration of what Hubbard called “the modern science of mental health”.  This man made the presumption that his book could overturn centuries of development in the arena of mental health.  When that did not happen, he invented his own religion.

In the last year or so I have been in deep research mode of Narcissistic personality disorder.  The reason for this is because I was in a romantic relationship with someone who I very much believe to be a narcissist.  Within the first few minutes of this documentary, we hear excerpts of letters written about L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology by his second wife, Sara Northrup.  Sara asserted that she only married Hubbard because he had threatened suicide.  This is a very common manipulation tactic for narcissists to use in order to get their way.  She also detailed an account about how Hubbard awoke her from her sleep because she had been smiling, setting him off into a rage because he took it to mean she was thinking about another man.  After they had a daughter, Hubbard took the little girl with him and called Sara to tell her that he had chopped their daughter into tiny pieces and thrown her into a river.  It doesn’t get much more abusive than that.

Going Clear also touches on how the church’s two most famous members – John Travolta and Tom Cruise, became so involved with Scientology.  John Travolta was extremely young when he became involved, and he linked his success in acting with his involvement in Scientology.  The use of “auditing” also becomes very important in the case of Travolta, as it appears that the Church of Scientology threatens members with the release of their deepest secrets collected in such sessions.  Obviously the Church of Scientology has something pretty big on Travolta that keeps him there.

Scientology’s biggest star and supporter is Tom Cruise.  Cruise’s marriage to Nicole Kidman is a major focal point of his story in Scientology.  The documentary mentions that Nicole Kidman’s father was a prominent psychologist in Australia, which David Miscavige, the head of the Church of Scientology, viewed as a threat.  Any psychologist or mental health professional, or any person associated with a mental health professional is deemed to be a “suppressive person” by Scientology.  Scientologists therefore aim to “disconnect” from these suppressive people, of course at almost any cost. Nicole, therefore, was deemed a suppressive person, and her divorce from Cruise was apparently orchestrated by the Church of Scientology.  I have heard further rumors that Cruise’s marriage to Katie Holmes was staged and under contract, but the documentary goes no further than discussing an arranged relationship between Cruise and an actress named Nazanin Boniadi.  There were also rumors that one of the reasons why Holmes divorced Cruise was her fear of their daughter Suri becoming involved in Scientology.  Going Clear also notes that Cruise was not really involved in Scientology during his marriage to Kidman, but in recent years, he has been the absolute most treasured asset of the Church.  Cruise is one of the biggest movie stars of all time, if not the biggest, and Scientology depends on him in many ways.

Going Clear is a truly terrifying look at how Scientology is essentially the result of an egomaniac’s own desire to control others.  This documentary is one of the first looks at some of the extreme abuses allegedly committed by David Miscavige and the Church of Scientology.  Perhaps what is most revealing about the Church of Scientology is its financial value (over one billion dollars) and its real estate investment prowess.  I have driven by the Church of Scientology on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles, and it is a menacing sight.  A few people I know have gone inside to take the prerequisite personality tests “as a joke”.  After watching Going Clear, I can say with certainty that there is nothing funny about Scientology and its abuses of its members.

Watch Me Perform Stand Up at the Westside Comedy Theater

28 Feb

Messages Like These Are Why I Deleted My Tinder Account

8 Jan

Tinder scares me.  I deleted my account a few months ago, but I never experienced any benefit from this alleged dating app.  Dating? SMH.  Tinder is nothing more than a digital glory hole for the worst of the worst people.  Are you looking for a horrible person to date?  Get on Tinder.  Are you looking for a night of semi-anonymous erotic embarrassment in a large metropolitan area to which you will never return?  Please, use Tinder.  Enjoy yourself.  Tinder is only one notch above Craigslist, and the only way of knowing you had a successful Craigslist transaction is not getting decapitated.

The texts that follow almost speak for themselves.  I changed this person’s phone number to the moniker “Red Flag” in order to be fair.  Is this normal?  Is this what men are supposed to be like?

Red Flag Text #1

He wants to know how tall I am.  I guess that’s normal enough.  But wait, uh-oh.  He wants recent pictures that are “fully transparent,” which makes no sense.  I indulge him further with an innocent inquiry:

Red Flag Text #2

Yes, he has met women who are older or more overweight than he thought initially.  It’s official.  This individual is shallow. Immediately offended, I tell him I am not old or obese.  Then he tells me that “visibility and transparency” are what he provides.  Bitch, I don’t want to know anything much about you.  Don’t flatter yourself.

Red Flag Text #3

“That sounds so businesslike” may be interpreted as “You sound like Patrick Bateman.”  I did not say “You sound like Patrick Bateman” because this man did not strike me as being a reader.

“And that sounds evasive” is obviously the sign of a potential killer laying in wait.  I stop texting him completely.  The unprovoked texts begin.  He tells me that “most people just answer with “sure””.  Once again, I am not most people and I already decided that I don’t like you. BYE.

Red Flag Text #4

He thinks that because I am a writer, I should have so many things to say.  Little does he know, he is writing a story for me by continuing to text me.  “Why are you scared?” he asks, completely randomly and unprovoked.  Because you are clearly insane.

And finally, the cherry on top:

Red Flag #5

A selfie sent exactly one month after the “Why are you scared?” text.  This is why I am scared.

Goodbye Tinder!!! Auf wiedersehen!!! Ciao!!! Au revoir!!!

 

 

Listen to My Interview on Nick Has A Poolhouse

21 Sep

Hello Fixed Air readers!!

Recently, my good friend and fellow stand up comedian Nick Kaufman had me as a guest on his podcast, Nick Has A Poolhouse.

Nick asks me about how having a bad set can affect my mood, how my parents’ marriage influences my the state of my current romantic relationship, why I get sad sometimes, and one of the most embarrassing moments of my life.

Please take a listen through any of the links below:

http://goo.gl/NtPRT0

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/nick-has-a-poolhouse-a-podcast/id641881902

http://westcastnetwork.com/nick-has-a-poolhouse-2/

Please like Nick Has A Poolhouse on Facebook and subscribe on iTunes!!

Nick Has A Poolhouse Photo

Why Tinder is the Bane of Our Society and Needs to Die

6 May

tinder-logo

Tinder is an alleged “dating” app that allows people to troll for D and P in their local area.  By “D” and “P,” surely you will know what I mean unless you are completely innocent or some type of Mormon or an Amish person who accidentally stumbled onto this blog.  (Although for the Amish that would be quite a feat. Welcome.)

Anywho, I had a very lame experience with Tinder quite recently.  To make a long story short, I have been seeing the same guy for a a pretty long period of time now, and I like him very much.  However, due to reasons beyond my control, we are not consciously exclusive in our relationship at this time. (Please spare telling me what I already know.)  As I sat on the barstool in this bar, the girl next to me started a conversation about men.  I said that I had been seeing someone.  She asked what he looked like. I obliged.  The words that next fell from her mouth left me in a stupor: “He sent me a message on Tinder.”

WTF.  This is what raced through my mind as I sat there like an idiot, looking at this guy’s face.  I am an idiot. 

Okay, so do not panic.  Do not panic.  You’re panicking.  I thought about what I should do.  Should I confront him? Should I say anything at all? First I took a shot of tequila and pretended that everything was okay.  Everything is not okay!  Think about this.

I managed to not say anything for almost 24 hours.  I consider myself to be the David Blaine of relationship self-control after achieving that feat.  We discussed and resolved the issue.  I realized that I cannot be too critical unless we are in an exclusive relationship, and really, I should be striking out on Tinder myself.

I simply downloaded Tinder to see what the fuss was about, and quite honestly, Tinder is trash.  You can spot a weirdo on there almost right away, and like almost any other online dating resource, Tinder seems to be delegated to the ultra-awkward and ultra-douchebaggy anyway.  One guy spent way too much of his energy talking about my lips.  It was really gross and showed me why he’s probably on Tinder to troll women.  Tinder is not for people who like meeting in natural settings.  Tinder is for wannabe sluts, plain and simple.

But really, what are the odds of my little encounter?  Tinder is basically pitting every single person in vast metropolitan areas against one another in a never-ending attempt to get laid.  There are over 16 million people in LA, and I ended up in one specific bar (which I frequent), sitting next to one girl (who I had never met before) and learning that this girl was hit on by a guy I was seeing.  To conclude: 1 city, 16 million people, 1 bar, 2 barstools, 2 women, 1 dick.  That is the reality of what Tinder is doing to this world.  It eliminates options before there is even the chance to meet someone in person.  Tinder is gross.

If Tinder continues to grow at the same rate, and if people continue to use the app to hook up or do whatever it is they use it for, there will be no one left. Everyone will be eliminated from dating and sex pool eligibility via Tinder.  Tinder is a Darwinist dating app.

Tinder, in its purest form, is the worst thing in American society at this time.  It is impersonal, disingenuous, and fleeting in a time at which personal connection is already dissolving.  I prefer to meet people organically and as my life unfolds.  Tinder is another way of forcing connection, and connection, as rare as it is today, is something that should come naturally.  Please, do your part, and ban Tinder.

This has been a public service announcement by Fixed Air.

The Hardest Thing I’ve Ever Done: Saying Goodbye to My Best Friend

1 Sep
My favorite picture of Dave - tebowing at the Pueblo Riverwalk.

My favorite picture of Dave – Tebowing at the Pueblo Riverwalk.

The absolute worst moment of my life so far was the approximately ten minute phone call I received from the police on Saturday, July 13th.  The call explained why my best friend had never answered my multiple phone calls that week, nor shown up to our sushi date that past Wednesday night.

Robert Davidson Teeter was my best friend, confidant, shoulder to lean on, and the person I was closest to in this world.  He had also been my boyfriend for a long period of time, and kind of still my boyfriend when he passed away in July.  I do not know how else to define our relationship.  It was complicated, but we loved each other so much, and I hope he knew how much he truly meant to me.  I knew something was wrong when he never called me on Wednesday.  We had dinner plans to go to Musashi’s, a restaurant that he had begged to take me to for a while.  Dave never broke his plans with me, and when he failed to call or text on Wednesday, I was unsure of what to think.  Dave was one of those people who could disappear for a few days and no one would think anything of it when he resurfaced a few days later.  However, on this final occasion, my worst fears turned out to be true.

As I sit here, I am overwhelmed by the amount of things Dave will never be able to do.  He will never get to see New York City, which was his biggest dream.  He will never have children, and he will never have a wife.  We had made a pact to get married to one another in ten years if neither of us was married at that time.  I’ll never get to hold his hand, kiss his lips, or feel his embrace ever again. And yet, even though the sadness of those things is amplified by my current delicate state, I know that Dave would want for me to move on.  He would want me to pursue my dreams and have the life he wanted for me.  He’d want for me to fall in love again.  In the deepest part of my heart, I knew that Dave and I had a limited amount of time together.  Whether I knew that our time together would end in death, I am unsure.  At the end of June, I went on a trip to Vancouver and Seattle.  He called me the day before I left, saying that he was worried we’d never see each other again.  That he had some sort of eerie feeling.  My first thoughts went to the fact that I’d be traveling by plane.  My imagination took hold of me and I worried about dying in a terrific hellfire over the Pacific Northwest.  Even though we did see each other again, and spent as much time as possible together before he passed, I cannot help but think of the significance of what he said.

Even in the days leading up to the worst phone call I ever received, something was off. The Friday before the police called I was sitting at my desk at work and suddenly became inexplicably and overwhelmingly sad.  It was as though some strange feeling had taken over my body.  I was immensely distraught.  The next day, I went to Dave’s house and banged on the door as hard as I could.  There was no answer.  I thought about using my credit card to jimmy the door open as I had many times before, but something stopped me. I got the phone call a few hours later, not long after a deep wave of nausea overtook my body.

Everyone who knew him called him Dave, even though his first name was Robert.  He wasn’t a Robert at all; definitely a Dave.  He was so special and so unique.  He had so much love in his heart for so many people.  It was something I admired and tried to learn from.  I know that I will never know someone like him ever again.  We met during the summer of 2010 by chance.  A guy I had met at a bar invited me to hang out with some of his friends.  Dave was there.  A few weeks later, he asked a mutual friend for my number instead of asking me directly.  He texted me some time later, saying it was nice to meet me.  From there, our conversations grew, and we would sometimes spend hours on the phone talking.   That’s what I’ll miss the most about him.  The fact that he loved conversations with me, and that he asked me questions about my life, feelings, and hopes and dreams.  He was genuinely interested in me as a person, which is a quality that appears to be rare in such a convoluted and disconnected time.

We loved going to the movies together.  He hated when we saw “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”; he thought it was much too long.  The last movie we saw together was “Man of Steel”; he did not care for it as much as some others we had seen recently, including “World War Z”.  He liked that one a lot.  He was my go-to buddy for everything.  The only person who understood me in a sea of those who do not seem to care about anything but themselves.

In the last six months or so leading up to his death, we had dinner together at least three nights a week, and we’d get lunch on Saturdays without fail.  We had our first date at Amanda’s Fonda, on the edge of Manitou Springs.  I drank a margarita about the size of my head that day.  He forgave me for getting drunk and slurring.  Not long after that, we both fell in love.  We were official sometime in September 2011.

I'll love him forever.

I’ll love him forever.

People who knew Dave were aware of his selflessness.  From the age of fourteen or so, he’d taken care of his mother Jacqueline, who suffered from MS, almost entirely by himself.  He cared for her until her death on January 26, 2007.  My birthday happens to be on January 26th.  Dave told me that he would not celebrate the day his mother died, until he one day commented that perhaps I was born on that horrible day to satiate his loss; that I was, in fact, a gift to him.  It just seems too perfect and coincidental to not be on purpose.

Dave was everything to me.  He was that one person I loved to hang out with on a lazy afternoon, the person I told all of my secrets to, the person who understood my dark sense of humor and all of my neuroses, bad temper, and sensitivities.  That was the bond we had.  It was so strong, special, and something I will never forget.  There’s no one I’d rather love, no one I’d rather hold and kiss again.  I wonder what will become of my feelings for Dave years from now and if I’ll ever love someone that deeply again.  It seems so faraway and completely out of reach.

If anything, Dave’s death has shown me how important it is to appreciate those you love, and how to ensure that they know how much you love them.  Anyone can be gone in a matter of seconds.  With Dave gone, it feels as though everyone is a bit more selfish, and a bit more distant, if that is possible.  I get offended easily when people do not respond to my texts.  It’s a lot of effort for me to want to talk to anyone at all these last few weeks, and when I’m met with short responses or no response at all, I find myself fighting tears.  I wonder who will actually read this all the way through; who will somehow empathize with whatever it is I am trying to say.

Those who are close to me know that I’ve been through many difficult times emotionally in my short life.   On the outside I am a bit grizzled and not quick to open myself to just anyone.  Those who are not very close to me almost immediately label me a “bitch”, “difficult,” and “too much”.  However, on the inside, I am an extremely sensitive and feeling person.  Dave understood me perfectly.  My biggest fear is that this will never happen again; that I’ll spend the remainder of my time here on earth clawing and combing for a comparable relationship.  It’s just been so damn hard.  There is no other way to say it.

Sometimes I wonder why this happened.  I have no explanation for it.  I’ve done my best to take this horrible occurrence to try to change my life for the better.  One month after Dave’s passing, I packed up my car and left for Los Angeles.  He would have been so proud of me.  It is of this notion that I must remind myself; that he’d want me to pursue my dreams in spite of everything.  Also gone now are endless nights of imbibing double vodkas in a dead-end town, wondering what my life would be if I left.  In spite of this misery I feel so intensely right now, I know that somehow, things might eventually work out to be okay.  And okay would be a good thing for me.

Let Us Discuss Los Angeles

31 Jan
Sunset

Sunset on Santa Monica beach

The city I live in now, if one can call it that, is a complete dump compared to Los Angeles.  I went to LA for my birthday and to explore the city in preparation for my move.  I was completely and pleasantly surprised by my experience. Here’s some of the great things LA has to offer:

1. Gorgeous Scenery

The stereotype is that LA is a smog-filled wasteland consisting of nothing but cement buildings and gang members. This is so far from the truth. There are trees and mountains, a blue sky, and fabulous sunsets that overflow with orange goodness.  Sure, there are less pretty areas of LA, but overall it gets a thumbs up for looking good.

The view of Hollywood Hills from the LACMA.

The view of Hollywood Hills from the LACMA.

2.  Thriving Arts Scene

Young people flock to Los Angeles with hopes of making it in music, film, comedy, and more.  Really, only two cities are important when you’re trying to do artsy fartsy things (No, the other one is not Austin. Shut up about Austin, hipster people.) As someone who hopes to write for television and film and pursue a stand up career, it is the perfect place to be.  LA is also home to some amazing art museums. I recommend the Stanley Kubrick and Caravaggio exhibits at the LACMA.

3. Hot Men for Days

Colorado Springs leaves something to be desired in the men department.  First off, the guys in Colorado are not men. They are boys. Second, Colorado boys seem to have no real ambition – at least the ones I know.  LA offers hot single men on every street corner and in every bar.  Not only are they hot, but they are super-confident and will talk to you. Then you will get asked out three times in three days.  Amazing.

4. Friendly, Interesting People

I bet you’re surprised by this one. I was too, at first. I expected everyone in LA to be a shallow bag of dicks. People were so overly friendly that it really sealed the deal for me.  It’s amazing how people will strike up a conversation with you on a whim in LA.  I am so down for some positive energy and vibes, and the people seem to have this down very well.

Venice Beach

Venice Beach – photo by me!

5. Actual Things to Do

I have spent the last three years of my life wondering what the hell I should do all day long. Why is this? Because there is nothing to do in Colorado Springs.  LA has museums, clubs, parks, restaurants, bars, theater, comedy clubs, and way more to offer.  If you need something to do, go to LA. That’s where I’m going to be.

Here's me at Red O on my birthday with a phallic-shaped bottle of tequila.

Here’s me at Red O on my birthday with a phallic-shaped bottle of tequila.