themellowdramatist

I'm just so chill when I'm overanalyzing text messages.

Going Stag on Valentinstag

We had a “Fun and Dating in Berlin” information session at the Academic Center, where we learned the general differences between American and German dating. Compliments to German women tend to make them wary of your intentions rather than flattered, small talk is not sexy, a German man typically meets a woman by making glances towards them until she gets the hint and walks over to him. It all sounded like hogwash to me which was why I had to try it as as soon as possible.

Like was blossoming about in NYU Berlin yesterday. People were finding each other schon all over the place. No matter how single you might be, seeing your friends wearing smiles that only one person could give them is nothing short of wonderful. Made me think, hey, who says I can’t get a date tonight? I play the ukulele, can cook pancakes, read. The things I’d imagine are important in a date. With my hopes higher than Cupid could fly, I went to a party titled “Balkan Swing Burlesque”.

I tried asking a girl if she’d like to dance in German, most likely with the fluency of a four year old. When I retreated to English, she obliged but kept herself reserved. I tried bridging the gap by saying I liked the way she was dancing, which was met with a sashay-away.

Then a middle-aged Balkan woman made her way over and we did some old fashioned Balkan jitterbug. I have no idea what Balkan jitterbug looks like and my footwork showed, but she didn’t seem to mind. Balkan woman and I both just wanted a dance, who did it matter who it was with? I started making small talk about how Indian music is a lot like Balkan music and she promptly waved goodbye. How unsexy.

At the bar, I saw a girl in the corner of my eye and decided I would keep my feet planted until she came over. I waited with a free tap water in my hand, chatting with a few ex-pats and a strangely forward coke dealer (he told an ex-pat he liked his shirt and then listed his prices), and the girl introduced herself to me. I got frank about who I am, telling her things about writing I never feel confident enough to tell people when I first meet them and she told me about how she was going to save the world by building schools where there hadn’t been before because she grew up poor. At around this time, my left hearing aid gave out and I lost her to the ambiance. I kept shoving my ear to her face to catch what she was saying, which was decidedly unsexy. To try and reel her back in, I tried the “dropping-my-hand-on-yours-mid-conversation” thing but the time for that had passed or it was never to come at all. She told me she thought her friends were leaving and we both left the bar.

On our last drinks out, the Balkan music gave way to electro-swing and hell if my friends and I could have resisted that.  We looked stark raving mad and we didn’t give a shit. As long as there are more Tage of Berlin left, there’s more Tage to be gute.

Berlin in the Night

Berlin bars seem to resist street theatricality. Each one I’ve been to has had nothing more than a sign outside their door. I suppose if they’re worried people judge books by the cover, they’ll be satisfied with anything more than a bouncer who frisks all your junk without so much as a hello. 

I arrived at a speakeasy to a bartender who was none too pleased to see us walk in at three in the morning. “You couldn’t have came yesterday, could ya?” He made us promise to leave as quickly as college students could consume alcohol, but an hour passed and Dean Martin’s croons were still in the air. When we returned to the bar with our beers half drunken, he put his hand to his heart. “You know you can finish that!”

Smoke has followed me home after each excursion I’ve made in the night. It’s started to give have a soothing effect as I get ready for bed, reminding me that the paths I’ve taken in the smoke are something I would never had crossed had I stayed abroad. Like a European blanket of smoke. 

Those handles on the mugs are amazing. It’s like drinking a huge cup of tea that intoxicates you. If only they came with scones. 

You aren’t able to get into a club unless you appear to look like you couldn’t care less about the club. All I can say is thank God they don’t serve doner kebabs at Berghain.

I haven’t stepped in any dog droppings. I swear, sometimes this place feels like a piece of heaven.

I’m studying a broad named Berlin

And boy, is she something. 

The owner of the cafe across the street from my dorm told me she was the architect of it as well. She comes in every morning at five so she can set it up with the cook, who she calls her husband. When I asked her how long she was married for, she responded never. They’d just been dating for 18 months and well, she couldn’t just call him her boyfriend anymore. 

My neighbors and I had an impromptu jam session with a guitar, ukulele, empty bottle of Club Mate, trash can and a spoon ladle. We plan to perform Springtime for Hitler at the next open mic, as soon as we can figure out that damn key change. 

I went to an ex-pat bar and realized the importance of the Superbowl. It brings Americans and Swedes and Germans together with the power of Sasha Fierce. 

The baristas here are more than the people who make you tea. They’re the people who invite you to their art shows if you have something more than about how the wifi doesn’t work to them. 

I don’t have a smartphone when I’m on the streets of Berlin but that’s alright. I have the people here as my map. I still get lost everyday, but I find something every Hallo along the way. 

Breaking Bad’s Sci-fi

The New York Times published an article about last night’s Breaking Bad premiere here. It’s interesting to see where Vince Gilligan gets the inspiration for the wacky science things that happen on the show, as he recalls here:

The idea for this hands-free heist, Mr. Gilligan said, came not from any real-life incident but from the collective deliberations of the “Breaking Bad” writing staff. It was also helped along by Mr. Gilligan’s memories of his film studies at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, where he used a tabletop magnetic device called a degausser to erase audio tracks.

 

“I remember being intrigued by this magnet and wondering if it was going to destroy my watch or sterilize me so that I could never have kids,” he said.

It’s a good read for writers who are afraid about writing sequences that include science. When I watched last night’s episode, I was severely upset because my Breaking Bad spec doesn’t have anything close to the marvel of the magnet sequence. I’ve been racking my brain to figure out scientific elements that could actually be employed in real life and nothing has been as overtly impressive as magnets. But the article shows that the writers took a huge artistic license with the science of magnetic forces. In real life, that heist could have never happened. But you don’t realize when you watch the show, because the episode is about the characters operating the science, not the science itself. Don’t be afraid if your sci’s a little fi. 

 

The OkCupid Diaries: Part 1

I have dipped my toes into the OkCupid waters in the past month and I can honestly say that it was the most memorable month of my life. Not necessarily the funnest month or the month where I had the highest self-esteem or the month I was getting superlaid, but a month I won’t forget. Since June, my life has revolved around whether Cupid will find me a match with his internet arrows or not. And I have no shame in saying that. Sure, I’ve gotten approximately six responses to the 50+ messages I’ve sent out and sure, I have gone past date one with precisely zero of them, but being on OkCupid is not about asking Cupid to set you up with a hottie and him saying “Ok no problem bro”. It’s about Cupid giving you a listing of hotties and you saying “Ok, Cupid. I accept your challenge.”  And what’s a challenge worth if you’re not gonna fail 92% of the time?

Now, since I’ve devoted so many procrastinating hours to this thing, I figured as a treat to you readers I would share my diary entries with you. I think a lot of people have misperceptions about the online dating universe, that it’s only for creepers above the age of 25 and women who don’t get asked out who are over the age of 25. None of those things are true (except for the “over the age of 25 part”. You should see the looks I get when the people at Think Coffee see me gestating the multiple ways on how to say “Hey, what’s up and let’s have a relationship/coffee sometime/sex/a gay old time.”)Internet dating is a really great opportunity to work on being creative with the way you speak to people. People are gonna judge your messages and your pictures and your profiles within seconds because there’s a million other people out there and you gotta give them a reason to waste their time with you the moment you put yourself in their inbox. But if you can, if you can just shove a glimmer of honesty or authenticity or quirk that they’ll want to hear at the precise moment they open your message, well then s/he just might “reply very selectively” to you.

These following messages are the kind that did not make the cut.

“I love ketchup too! I don’t leave in the morning unless the tomatoes in my omelet suffocate in a vat of tomato sugar juice. I apologize if I seem a bit overexcited, it’s just ketchup connoisseurs are difficult to come by.”

Don’t the words “suffocate” and “vat” just turn you on like a light switch?

“I love Italian food! Totally the most generic statement ever, but I don’t go a day without arrabiata.”

To an Italian girl who liked to cook. (Yes, I realized I misspelled arrabbiata. I wouldn’t date me either.)

“I loved the King’s Speech! I’m not sure if it’s because it took place in the 30′s, or because Colin Firth’s the most fantastic actor I’ve ever seen, but I’ve never been so awake during a speech before in my life.”

This girl was British and already said she hated Harry Potter, so naturally I went with the only other British topic I knew about.

“Hey! What have you acted in? I feel like I’ve seen before. I’m sure it wasn’t in my dreams, because there’s no way I’m that much of a cliche. But I have been wrong before.”

If only I had remembered to write “you”. I’d be dating a Stardust waitress by now.

“Hi. Your photos are pretty. The photography that is! And the subjects of them. Whoever that girl is.”

I’m still at a loss as to why this didn’t get a repsonse. Her friend was really attractive.

“I totally understand your love of cats. And Downton Abbey. Honestly, I’m pretty certain they’re the only things that make the world go round. There’s that whole gravitational pull argument, but I say hogwash. How could you say a Scottish Fold is less magnetic than the South Pole?”

To someone with the username “meowton_tabbey”.

Ah. That felt good. Hope you enjoyed, Internet! Be tuned for the next installment of the OkCupid Diaries, where we follow the story of a date that actually happened.

Lou-ie Lou-ie Lou-Advertisement

Alright, guys. The third season of Louie premieres tomorrow night on FX at 10:00pm and we all have to watch it. “Why,” you ask, internet reader. “I watch comedies all the time. MordernFamilyParksandRecreationHowIMetYourMother2BrokeGirls. I just don’t have time for another sitcom.” I understand, internet reader, you’ve got your Hulu sitcom setlist packed to the brim. But that doesn’t matter. Because Louie ain’t no situation comedy, girl. It’s a situation. Period.

Okay, maybe not THAT kind of situation.

It’s the realest situation out there on television. Louie C.K. is the sole writer, director, star and until this upcoming season, editor of each episode. EACH EPISODE. He has no executives breathing down his neck telling what can and can’t be on his show. Every installment of Louie is his little baby. That he fathered on his own. Each each episode is like a little Jesus.

All blatant Messiah allusions aside, Louie is able to speak about a certain kind of truth most TV shows can’t. New York blows. Not in a like “Oh, the pretty girl I have sex with all the time won’t call me back so now I have to find a new woman to hook up with” blowing (I’m looking at you, How I Met Your Mother). Like real blow. The real Windy City. Reason it blows is because it’s so awesome. You can eat the best hot dogs in the world and there’s free wi-fi all over the place.  This is all sounding really incoherent but I promise this has a point. Louie’s show addresses the small things that give him grief. Apartment hunting, dating people who can’t wait for the night to end, masturbation, ungrateful children, being alone on a Saturday night. All the usual sitcom fodder, but these things don’t just function as excuses to crack jokes out for twenty-two minutes. They exist to tell the truth about the way those particular situations effect a particular person. The show’s a bit divisive, as you have to be able to relate to Louie C.K. to enjoy it, but  for those who can, you’re getting so much from it.

Take for instance season two’s episode 10, Halloween. SPOILERS ABOUND SO IF YOU DON’T WANT TO READ ON, LET ME JUST ASSURE YOU THAT IT’S AN AWESOME EXAMPLE OF AWESOME TELEVISION MAKING. Starts off with Louie taking his two daughters trick-or-treating in the West Village, dressed as a fairy and Fredrick Douglass. (The daughter is really into history.) Adorable. The night takes a really bad turn the moment Louie relents to his daughters’ pleas to go trick or treating past midnight and some creepers start following them. Now, I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced how unsettling New York creepers can be, but on Halloween, when they’re dressed like monsters, the last thing you want to do is be cornered by them. Especially if you’re with your kids. The segment is drenched with a surrealist tone, making it like a dream and a nightmare at the same time. The resolution is probably the most un-cliche thing I have ever seen in my life. Watch Louie, and see life be resolved in ways it always is in real life but never shown on television.

“My thing is, if you’re…

“My thing is, if you’re a writer, you write. Period. If you aren’t writing you just don’t want it that badly.”

From an interview with Writer’s Assistant Jess, current internet girl of my dreams, over at Amanda Pendolino’s blog on everything television and film here.

For those who don’t hear “Yes, and”

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People leave the PIT better people.

Yesterday, I had the immeasurable pleasure of attending the Improdome show at the People’s Improv Theater on 123 East 24th street with my dear friend, Michelle. PIT truly lives up to its eponym, as the Improdome show allows for any audience member to sign up to perform improv in teams that are selected randomly during each show. On a high and on a buzz, I signed up to participate. I hadn’t done any improv outside of my tenth grade theater class and hadn’t performed in front of an audience in practically ever, but at that moment I was pretty sure I was the funniest man on the planet (Michelle particularly enjoyed my freestyle on the origin of my stage name, “Saleem Sauce”) so I wasn’t too worried. 

Precursor: I have a hearing problem. I wear two dandy hearing aids which attempt to capture all the sounds my ears miss but only about 70% of the noise that is directed towards me in a day is actually received. I do quite well for myself around people I’ve spoken to for a bit, but I’m pretty lost in new conversations. (Online dating was practically invented for my kind.) 

So we enter the theatre and watch the selected audience try to make us laugh. To our enjoyment (and my slight apprehension), these cads didn’t have to try. They listened to one another for their jokes, and conceived some of the most immaculate collaboration I’ve ever seen. SNL could have taken a chapter out of their books. What was great was, as opposed to some people who to walk onstage with their own spectacularly witty thing to say to get a cheap, whorey laugh (hi folks!), they brought a ball and passed it around. And they said “Yes, and” alot. 

But what about those like me? Who are so wrapped up in their own minds, either by design or choice, that the mere act of joining in on a joke is a process in itself? Those who are perpetually confused by the muddled voices that are attempting to transmit to broken receivers? We, the deaf, the socially awkward, the impaired, the hesitant, are desperately trying to communicate but can only move along at our own pace. Can we perform improv? Can we let go of our fears of saying something stupid because we don’t understand what we’ve heard and bare our soul to make a Wednesday night audience laugh?

I deeply worried about this for approximately fifteen minutes after the show. I mean, what good is improv if it can’t improve anyone’s life? But as I left with Michelle, shooting zingers about how obnoxious the How I Met Your Mother ads in the city have been lately, I came to the conclusion that joining in on jokes is only a rigorous process for those who are removed. It’s quite easy to say “Yes, and” to your dear friends, which means it’s quite easy to say “Yes, and” in any situation. All you need to do is forget that you are hesitant, even if you didn’t catch what was said. You don’t need ears to pass a ball around. 

Of course we can! We just need to take improv classes. 

Harmon’s search for Harmony

 

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Dan Harmon will not be working on the fourth season of Community. As he recounts here, he heard the news through his cellphone at roughly the same time it became common knowledge. The people at NBC didn’t negotiate any of the terms of his new position as consulting editor, which Harmon believes him the authority to “sharpen pencils and stuff.” He wore the biggest pants in the Community writing room for three years and now his bosses have ripped the pants right off of him. I imagine it must hurt. 

Harmon has complicated history with his “Community”. Now I don’t know the guy, but between him insulting Chevy Chase in front of his family and telling his composer the music has on occasion made him want to blow his brains out, his ability to work in a team setting might not be his strongest suit. Regardless of that, Community is his child. I don’t even think my there’s as much of my parents in me as there is Dan Harmon in his show. From the evolution of Abed to his story embryo things, everything in the chemical make-up of Community comes straight from Harmon’s writer-sperm. Only thing is he isn’t the one who holds custody of it. 

Scott Myers put it more eloquently than I can, but screenwriters sell their scripts before they get produced, especially in television. Harmon’s shit situation is something every creator signs up for when they get their show produced. They get the prestige and creative control, but they lose all parenting priviliges. They don’t have the final say. Not in what their schedule will be like, not in the shows it hangs out/is placed with, not in whether can survive cancellation or even to stay with it until it’s finished. Hollywood is a lot like real life. You often don’t outlive your children. And even if that means your baby is given to new parents, at least it’s not canceled. 

What Love Will Be Like

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My feelings about being loved aren’t more significant than anyone else’s. I may concern my thoughts about it every hour of the day, but the girl sipping her latte behind doesn’t think twice about how I feel about love. The idea of being in love turns us into islands, despite the fact that love can’t live if it’s not shared.

But today, I don’t feel like sharing anything. I would like to stay a castaway. 

I imagine the moment love hits me, the ground and the sky will swirl into one. My body will involuntarily forget where to put my feet.

I will be planning the funeral of my debit account. 

I’ll smile when the wind hits my face, thinking no other reaction will be appropriate.

Whenever I feel my arms are too weak, I’ll do push-ups. Who cares if we’re in a restaurant? I’m struck by love. 

I’ll stop running to my destination. If the “don’t walk” sign is up, then I won’t walk. I’ll make sure to see the street I’m crossing before it passes me by. 

While I wait, I will block every finger off of a “don’t walk” sign except the pinky so I can Instagram myself making a pinky swear with a street pole. 

I won’t stand with my back up straight. I won’t have anything to prove. Whether my chest sticks out or I fashion a mini-hump, I’m still me. 

I will find myself enjoying the The Notebook. Cuz if falling in love won’t, then nothing else will. 

I won’t scramble around at night to find someone to see, something to do, someplace to be. I’ll realize that we are always in the midst of doing something and that the things we really want to do come to us if we are willing and patient. 

I stop wasting money on lip balm because I will be dropping in majorly on another things you can buy at a deli. *

I’ll enjoy reading the unfunny and contrived in my work. I will nurse the script back to health. 

I will finally the Midnight Cowboy “I’m walkin’ here!” on a cab. I will finally conjure the bravery for it. 

I’ll forgive myself for what I regret. 

I will hire a barbershop quartet to perform “You’re the Apple of My Eye” with me at Washington Square Park. I will allow myself to forget barbershop quartets are not sexy. 

I’ll take up the opportunity I felt too small to capture before.

I will permanently grow into that genetic belly I have been able to ward off all these years and not care, because I can finally eat cookies for breakfast. 

I’ll just be aware of what I’m blessed to have. Like my health. Before it suffocates under the mountains of Cinnabons I’ll inhale. 

*Flowers, Internet. Geez. 

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