Tuesday, December 28, 2010

If I Wrote Old Movies: Volume II

"If I Wrote Old Movies: Volume II"
by Jake Kilroy

"Why, I'd lose my mind if I couldn't have you."

"Oh, Joe, I love it when you talk like that."

"Ah, shucks, Harriet. I'd sure do a lot for you."

"Is that right?"

"Well, sure! Sure, that's right! It's as true as a whistle, ain't it? Why, Harriet, if it were up to me, we'd be together forever."

"So why can't we?"

"Ah, come on, Harriet, you know we can't. You're married! I'm married! It just wouldn't do, you know? Especially not in a town like this. Why, we'd be run outta town! You know that."

"But what if we could, Joe? What if we could? Oh, wouldn't that be wonderful?"

"Oh, that would be just swell, Harriet. But, like I said before, we can't! You know we can't. Why should we get our hopes up? We'll always be married to other people."

"Ah, heck, I wish we weren't. Say...now there's an idea!"

"What is it, Harriet?"

"Joe, I've just had the most spectacular idea! We can be together and our spouses won't speak a word!"

"No fooling?"

"No fooling!"

"Well, how are we going to do that?"

"I kill your wife and you kill my husband!"

"Harriet...no! Oh, no! Now, I may not be the best husband around, but I'm no murderer! And you're not either!"

"The hell I'm not, Joe! I've got something inside of me just dying to get out. And I want it to be for you. I want it all to be for you!"

"Say, what is this? You tryin' to make a fool outta me?"

"Not at all, Joe! No, I'm going to make you something alright, but it ain't a fool. I'm going to make you the happiest man in the world, and I'll do whatever it takes."

"Harriet, you're talking like a crazy person!"

"Maybe I am crazy, but it's love I'm crazy with."

"No, Harriet! Come on, you're starting to scare me."

"I'm going to undress now, Joe...and by the time my last piece of clothing hits the floor, you better be on my side. I don't want you on the other side, you understand? I don't want you on anybody's side but mine."

"Oh, Harriet, you know I can't..."

"This is your last chance, Joe. I either kill your wife or I kill you. But I'm not going to be some married man's parlor trick anymore!"

"Please, Harriet..."

"Joe, you're about to make the best or worst decision of your life."

"No, no, no!"

"I only got one thing left on me, Joe. You better make up your mind quick."

But there were only tears left in Joe's head.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Jake Kilroy's 2010 Review Of His Year In Reading

2010 was my return to crazed, frenzied reading, where I took in as many stories as often as I could. Over the course of the past year, I also got really addicted to talking about books. I was originally going to compile a list of what I thought were 2010's best books, but I realized how rare it is that I read books the year they come out.

So, after being asked for book recommendations a few times in the last month (and always, always wanting some recommendations from anybody in return), I made a list of books I read (or listened to) this past year (or or up until Christmas Day anyway) that I thought were totally awesome. I also included blurbs about what they are and why they were pretty rad. It's a pretty lengthy deal happening below, I know, but, like I said, 2010 was also the year that I got addicted to discussing books too.

1. "The Fountainhead" by Ayn Rand
I finally got around to reading it and, even with the hype, it's one of the best books I've ever read. Even if you disagree with the Objectivism philosophy (and I'm kinda halfsies on it), it's still flawlessly written. The sentence and story structure are cold and perfect, matching the personalities and conversations of the dynamic architects and journalists. It's an epic by the most impossible means, as it relies on people being people to bring about a stunning piece of bold literature. It never loses steam.

2. "Something Wicked This Way Comes" by Ray Bradbury
It's a Halloween story for sure, but it's more about adolescence than anything else. A sinister evil comes to a small town and two boys and a father have to come to terms with age in a spooky reality. The prose is so fun and unsettling and funny, giving way to some serious nostalgia. It reads like the first ghost story you remember retelling.

3. "The Given Day" by Dennis Lehane
A radical piece of historical fiction, the book tells the stories of an Irish family and a black family at the end of World War I. Actual historical events, such as the 1918 Flu Pandemic, the Boston Police Strike of 1919 and a score of other important moments make their way into the threads of the story, told in the cracks of city life. It has about as much history as it does fiction, even with actual people in history playing pivotal and conversational roles. Everyone keeps talking about crime, unions, baseball and the changing modern world. It's incredible.

4. "Gun, With Occasional Music" by Jonathan Lethem
It has all of the classic narrative language of a Chandler or Hammett mystery, but all of the modern sci-fi chaos of a Philip K. Dick novella. The book has noir down so perfectly in so many instances, it comes off as a really good parody or tribute. It has the ever-classic stereotypes, but it's the sci-fi weirdness that stands out, like babyheads (evolved babies with drinking problems) and evolved talking animals (including a wise-ass kangaroo goon). It's just really fun, with a good balance of noir and sci-fi, while also balancing silly and serious.

5. "The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy" by Douglas Adams
Adams is just as absurd, if not absurder, as I expected. And it's way fun. But it's also wildly British. You can spot the silly narrative trends that Adams pioneered for later authors. It documents the end of the world, the outrageous insanity of the universe beyond and it introduces the reader to the tempo and chaos of the series. It's so weird and cool.

6. "Villa Incognito" by Tom Robbins

Even his lesser novels are still better than just about everything else, though I hold Robbins to higher standards. This book isn't as easy-flowing or as perfectly worded as his earlier novels, but it's still just as weird, just as philosophical and just as humorous. It takes mysticism in Southeastern Asia and combines it with Vietnam soldiers going M.I.A. It evaluates the big picture drug trade, the American military in foreign lands and...well, romantic bestiality. It's not the best introduction to Robbins, but it's a lot of awesome craziness if you're already down with his work.

7. "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close" by Jonathan Foer Safron
This book was so unrelentingly heartbreaking, it kind of made the emotion seem cheap. And I think the author was doing that on purpose, so...there's some give and take with it. However, it was spectacularly well-written, combining hope with misery in a nine-year-old narrator. The novel follows a young boy's New York City adventure after he finds a key that belonged to his deceased father. The father died in the World Trade Center on 9/11 and that day becomes the main theme of the book, as a kid just tries to figure out life. It's overwhelming.

8. "Neverwhere" by Neil Gaiman
Consider the possibility that underneath London is a place called London Below, where magic is real and dangerous. Places in London Above are similar but different in London Below. Knightsbridge in London Above is "Night's Bridge" in London Below (where the darkness takes a person from your party as its toll). It's sinister urban fantasy and nobody does it better than Gaiman. And he proves it with his two eternal and amoral murderous assassins Mr. Croop and Mr. Vandemar, who are two of the most engaging characters of violence I've ever encountered in fiction.

9. "The Hot Kid" by Elmore Leonard
It's one of Leonard's longest novels and it's a few-year saga of bank robbers and marshals in the Midwest around the time that Dillinger was charming the nation. There are a few real-life characters in the distance of the narrative, so it's partially historical fiction. But it's mostly just an easy-going read about one young, calm marshal and one loud, obnoxious bank robber. It's engaging with a lot of slow parts. But it also gives you a vibe for the 1920s and the romance of crime back then.

10. "For Whom The Bell Tolls" by Ernest Hemingway
Set during the Spanish Civil War, American Robert Jordan finds himself with guerrilla rebels hiding out in a mountain cave, waiting to blow up an nearby bridge. It has all of the things I love about Hemingway, but it also has all the things he does that I don't care for. It's not the best introduction to his work, but, if you're already a fan, I figure it's a must. The book has several pretty intriguing musings on suicide and politics, including one long story within the book about killing fascists that blew my mind.

1. "Born Standing Up" by Steve Martin
I think I've just gotten to a point in my life where I understand that I'll read, watch or listen to anything Martin does. He writes in such a conversational way, you feel like he's just recapping something casual to you. This particular book documents his childhood to the moment he quit stand-up comedy. He shows how an interest in magic, music and a goofy sense of humor lead to him becoming a stand-up superstar. It's hard to believe he's a celebrity because he writes like someone you end up talking to at a party. It's so, so good.

2. "Me Talk Pretty One Day" by David Sedaris
I was years late on this book. I always loved Amy Sedaris and people would tell me to read her brother. I didn't know what that meant. Then this book took non-fiction and turned it into an array of short stories. I'm one of the skeptics that wonders how much is actually true, but it's so wacky, so heartbreaking, so funny and so intriguing the way it makes normal people in their day-to-day lives seem more interesting than everything else.

3. "On Writing" by Stephen King
The first half details King's writing career, from neighborhood kid newspaper printer to bestseller. You see the influence that his family life and childhood had on his writing decisions. He explains why he wrote, how he evolved and what he thought of the whole experience. It's excellent. The second half becomes his own version of a writing class, where he explains what works and what doesn't and how to keep a legitimate writing schedule. Some is common sense, some is good refresher and some is a number of really killer new things to know.

4. "My Custom Van" by Michael Ian Black

If you love Black's aggressive form of deadpan that you've seen in interviews, blogs or on Twitter, you'll dig it. The first few essays had me laughing out loud, but once I understood the formula, the jokes had less of an impact. However, it continued to be really funny. The essays' content is all over the place, ranging from letters to a whorish squirrel to hating David Sedaris because everyone likes him.

5. "Manhood for Amateurs" by Michael Chabon
I'm realizing now how little I read non-fiction, because I didn't think this book was incredible. I thought it was good, but he uses so many unnecessarily big words and overly academic interpretations of really minor things. However, I will say that it did make me laugh out loud sometimes and it did address a lot of interesting moments in a man's life. As a collection of essays musing on masculinity, it's well-organized and Chabon definitely knows how to write and even deliver a solid unexpected punchline here and there.

Graphic Novels
1. "Batman: Year One" by Frank Miller
It's the start of Batman years after Batman was created. Batman, who is naturally awesome, is restarted here and it contains so much in such a short story that it kind of wins for impressiveness. It made me rethink characters I've long known, understood and enjoyed. It was real and intense while also embracing the pulp comic vibe in a really subtle way. It's a really solid work.

2. "Preacher" by Garth Ennis
Jesse Custer may be the manliest of men in anything I've ever read, but he's not aggressively manly. He's just kind of like "a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do." And, in this nine-volume series, Custer has to track down God so he can kick the shit out of him. Seriously. Powered by something horrific living inside of him, southern boy Custer has to take down God with the help of his gun-toting ex-girlfriend Tulip and his new Irish vampire shitbag best friend Cassidy. It's bad-ass, and, at times, campy and/or pretty unsettling. In promises violent adventure and it sticks to its word.

3. "Y: The Last Man" by Brian K. Vaughn
All the men and male animals of the world die off in a single second, except for one twentysomething slacker and his male monkey. Society collapses once half the world is dead, but it is then rebuilt by women, all while pop culture enthusiast Yorrick Brown tries to find his girlfriend while maybe helping save the human race in this ten-volume series. He, along with a few female protectors, must figure out why everything happened and what can be done for the future. It's funny, endearing and apocalyptic. It's also really addicting.

4. "From Hell" by Alan Moore
It's easily the most impressive use of the graphic novel medium I've ever encountered. Drawn in black pen sketches, it becomes a dense work of historical fiction conspiracy theory as it details who Jack The Ripper was and why he committed the murders. It's not a thriller, but, instead, it's a legitimate account of a pretty serious what-if scenario.

5. "The Losers" by Andy Diggle
This two-volume series makes no apology for being straight-up action. From start to finish, it's anarchy and chaos. If you're looking for something in-depth, this isn't it. But, if you're looking something totally fun and wild, it's this, for sure. It's a lot of shooting guns and a shit-ton of fast-paced conversations about American politics. There's a plot, yes, and even some twists, but it's mostly just radical action and high-stakes international espionage and cover-ups.

Friday, December 17, 2010

R. Kelly > Driver's License

I went to a happy hour in honor of a departing co-worker, but I arrived early, so it was just a single co-worker and me holding down the fort/table.

The waitress came over and asked us what we wanted to drink. My co-worker respectfully and articulately said, "I'll have a hefeweizen," while I very awkwardly asked, "Hey, you guys have, like, a super killer dank tasty porter, yeah?"

"Yes, we have a porter," she replied, either completely understanding my space talk or ignoring it entirely.

"Sweet. I'll have that,"I informed her.

"Ok," she said, writing it down and turning away from us, only to catch herself and come back. "Oh, and can I see your IDs?"

My co-worker handed her his license (he clearly had his shit together). Our waitress looked it over, handed it back to him and then turned to me.

"I don't actually have my ID..." I said slowly, squinting, turning my mumbling sentence into a battered question of sorts.

"You don't have an ID?"

"Well, I did, at some point, but I kind of lost it," I said. "Actually, I ironically lost it drinking."

She bit her lip and made sounds, thinking it over.

"I work with him and I can totally vouch for his age. He's well over 21," my co-worker told her.

"Yeah, I'm actually gonna be 26 next year," I said.

"What year were you born?" she asked quickly. It was testing and proving time!


"What year did you graduate?"


She nodded, still thinking it over. I waited.

Finally, I thought of the bonus answer.

"They played R. Kelly's 'Ignition (Remix)' at my prom," I said proudly.

"Alright," she said with a smile, turning to go get our beers. "Good enough."

And that's what got me my beer, mentioning R. Kelly's "Ignition (Remix)!" I swear, that song will somehow help me out periodically throughout the years until the day I die. In fact, holy shit, somebody make sure that jam is played at my goddamn funeral. I want to be buried amid hot sex and slow grinding.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

"occasional music"

"occasional music"
written on a messy stomach by jake kilroy.

hum-drum in the low rungs of the world,
you salvage fast food,
letting the farmers watch,
tearing up at the window,
while we burn the crops,
cackling deliriously and naked,
dancing in merry circles
around the flames.
reading on breaks at the end of the world,
hiding your face
and using your wit,
just so you can pray to the patron saint
of boredom and apathy,
though he never shows
and asks you were you've been.
get sex, have fun,
he says,
and then leaves you with the tab;
drink his wine, call it blood
and never find home,
as you nomad it truly,
sleeping in nice beds
of people you just met
and have seduced;
live long, never die
and bring the apocalypse.

Friday, December 10, 2010

My Older-Younger Brother

On Tuesday evening, I came home to put up Christmas lights with my younger brother (three years younger). Every year, we do it and it very quickly turns into anarchy. I just imagine a car driving by peaceful house after peaceful house and then, as they pass our house, they just hear swear words, dick jokes, blasphemous yelling and maniacal laughter (imagine Rosencrantz & Guildenstern meets Dumb & Dumber).

But, instead, I came home to my brother printing out some documents in nice clothes with his hair combed.

"Where the hell are you going...?" I asked slowly, suspicious and keeping a stifled laughter to myself.

"To a Rich Dad, Poor Dad seminar. I just found out about it. Me and Jay are going. You wanna go?"

I was rather bewildered.

"So no Christmas lights...?" I asked.

"Oh yeah, sorry, man. I can't do Christmas lights tonight. We'll do it this weekend though," he said, bustling around the dining room. "Are you sure you don't wanna go? They're handing out a free small piece of silver."

"No, I'm good..." I said, still somewhat baffled by the scene. "I think I'm just gonna eat a sandwich and watch Die Hard 2."

"Suit yourself," he said. "You're missing out on your financial education!" he added with a laugh and then left.

Later, as I sat in my room, eating my awesome sandwich and watching John McClane try his absolute best to save the airport, I had to wonder what the hell had happened. My brother went to a finance seminar and I watched an action movie. This seems strange, I told myself, he's three years younger than me.

Then, last night, I came home and my brother and I got into a two-hour debate regarding American economics and personal finance. This then evolved into a jog with our dog while discussing financial plans, the proposed value or flaw of investments, the failure of standardized education and The Fountainhead (which turned into the reoccurring argument of Howard Roark vs. Peter Keating in society). We also talked about starting a new secret society like the Free Masons, though it wasn't as funny as it sounds. It was actual schematics and plausibility.

Once we got home, we both said, "Good talk," high-fived, and then I had another daunting moment of confusion. But I was too tired from the run and I just thought, fuck it, my brother is now my stepdad, time to get over it; and then I took a shower.

Monday, December 6, 2010

"cigarettes for breakfast"

"cigarettes for breakfast"
truly by jake kilroy.

cigarettes for breakfast,
gin and tonics for lunch,
i haven't had a good meal today,
but i've got one hell of a hunch.

slumped over myself heavy,
in the backyard of a friend's,
reciting replacements lyrics,
and hoping the rain ends.

wearing yesterdays clothes,
rethinking evenings before,
losing my battles easily,
with sights on winning the war.

now come together for a night
so we can make a toast,
at least to hear that we're here,
always with dear ones close.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Godspeed, Samantha Who!

Last night, Rex, Grant and I got all messed up and watched Grey's Anatomy, just like the old days. We had watched the first three seasons at The Madison, yelling at the television screen and sharing sharp opinions of the harpy doctors. However, back then, we watched the first episode of the fourth season and kind of lost our group interest when Izzie had to revive a deer for Jacob from Lost. But, after a few-year break, we decided to give it another shot. And I'm glad we did, though something else caught our attention pretty intensely.

Rex went out for a smoke break and Grant put the disc in. We sat there waiting through the previews and one of them was a long sensational commercial for Samantha Who. Grant and I were talking nonsense before but were then silent through the entire Samantha Who preview. We didn't say anything for the two or three minutes the thing was going.

When it finally ended, I said, "Holy shit, are we way too messed up right now or did that look like the best show ever?"

"Yeah, dude, I was thinking the same exact thing," Grant said excitedly. "We should watch that instead."

"Oh man, that'd be awesome," I said, dazed with the awesomeness of Samantha Who.

Rex came back into the room.

"Hey Rex," Grant said, "have you ever seen Samantha Who?"

"No," Rex said, amused. "Why?"

"Dude, we need to watch that," I told him. "Like, as soon as possible."

"Ok," he said with a laugh.

"She just wants to find out who she is, Rex," Grant said.

"Oh my god, I hope she does," I added.

"I bet she does, dude," Grant reassured.

"But what if she doesn't?"

Grant thought this over carefully.

"We need to watch that shit," he said finally.

But we didn't. We watched Grey's Anatomy instead, like we planned. And the first episode, where that dumb bitch Izzie revived the deer, made me realized how poorly written the show is. It's like a parody of itself. It's like a soap opera you see in a comedy movie. But, as I sobered up, either the writing got better or you need a clear mind for the show, because that shit got real awesome real quick. It was almost comforting to be that overwhelmed again. But it'll never (ever) compare to the quality Grant and I assigned to Samantha Who. Nothing will. Seriously, for one moment, Samantha Who seemed like it was better than everything else I had ever seen before, as if it were what a person needed to see to find out who they actually were. For just that fleeting instant of an evening, I thought Samantha Who was the best goddamn fucking thing ever and would have gone to war for it. But then I sobered up and went to battle with a sandwich. Guess who won? Me. And I won it for Samantha Who, wherever she may be, whoever she may think she is. Oh man, poor Samantha Who. She just wants to know who she is, goddamnit!