I liked high school probably a little bit more than most people. I spent the first 3 years super awkward, mostly focused on dealing with an undiagnosed OCD, taking Accutane and playing sports, while my Senior year was, when pimples disappeared, I did the morning announcements and I lost some weight, a much better time. For someone who would later deal with a lot of depression, I have to admit, I got out of high school relatively unscathed.
But I also don’t really keep in touch with anyone from my alma mater. Not for any reason really, I think I just connected stronger with people I met later in life. I went to my 10-year high school reunion a few years ago, and I still consider it one of the shittiest experiences of my life. Harsh words, yes, but it just kinda felt weird. Outside of about 5 people, I sort of look at it as “times past,” and I’m totally fine/healthy about that. I’d love to run into someone, hug them, catch up and leave within 5 minutes. Not stay in a dining hall for 3 hours and get shitfaced (also there was no food and I get crabby when I’m hungry). It’s probably how Mark Whalberg looks at his time in the Funky Bunch. In no way do I hate anyone I went to high school with, but I’m sure we’re all doing well on our own. Good luck, guys!
With the invention of Facebook and Twitter, it’s definitely a lot different for us than it was for our parents though. Me saying I don’t really talk to anyone from my high school is true, but at the same time I basically know what EVERYONE from my high school is doing. Even if I don’t want to. No offense to hometowners on my FB Timeline, but I know more about your baby than your Pediatrician. And I’m not mad. At All. It’s just different and the way the world works in the 21st century. I was pretty nonchalant about it, until last week.
I’ve been telling jokes on Twitter for a few years now, and recently synched it up to my Facebook account. I’m not a HUGE fan of Facebook and figured since I neglect my account a lot, this would be a good way to keep something going on it. As a fan of validation, it always felt nice to see some of those high school names either “like” one of my jokes or comment on them. No matter how obscure the name, I always unironically smile, happy I may have made someone from my past, with a similar background, laugh. And every once in awhile, I get a really sweet message from someone about my posts, or something comedic I did.
I remember Nicole Russell from middle school. I don’t remember a ton, but I remember having classes with her and she was a really nice. I haven’t seen her since high school though. She is however, one of the 993 friends I have on Facebook. She’s one of the handful of people who had “liked” a joke or two and, every once in awhile, left a comment to either expand on a joke or say something sweet. I had seen her new last name, so I knew she was married and she was working at a website that I believe was an insurance company. In this weird world of the Internet, that’s friends I think.
Especially when back in April, she sent me a really nice note letting me know that I was making her laugh, both with the my status updates and my old music as Hot Karl. I remember being really appreciative, and sending her back a quick note of thanks (and in my Jewish neurotic way, prefacing Hot Karl). I’d look out for “likes” from her, and was thankful someone was reading my stupid jokes, even though we had no real connection in the traditional sense of friendship.
When I was on Howard Stern last month, she was one of the only Facebook messages I got, and I was stoked to get it. Someone being genuinely happy for you is rare. And when it’s someone you haven’t seen in 15 years, and don’t truly remember everything about, it means even more. This person just wanted to thank you, or acknowledge something you did, and that really says something about them. These little notes, that take 3 seconds to write, mean a lot. I know this now.
Nicole passed away on December 28th and I learned about it on Facebook. Less than a month after her last message to me, I read a post from her husband, letting everyone know where the services were being held, and honestly, I didn’t know what to do. I was devastated. The 2011 definition of friendship doesn’t make this easy. Were we friends? It hurt like she was a friend. So yes? We weren’t even really friends in high school. But these little notes, they sort of haunt me a little now. From reading some wall posts left on her page after she passed away, it seems she had reached out to a lot of people on Facebook over the last year, and it meant a great deal to them too. They were her friends too.
I didn’t go to the service, but I did dedicate a lot of my thoughts to her and her family on the day of the funeral. I don’t know really how to mourn someone in this Internet age, but I do know we were some sort of 2012 friends. Those notes meant something to me. I thank(ed) her for them. Those notes are gone now. Just gone. She won’t like another joke. No real explanation, no follow-up, cause even with all that, we weren’t really “friends.” I would’ve known a lot about her life if I ran into her on the street, but we would never set up that meeting. I can’t regret that, or second guess it all. That’s what life is now. It’s something that is plaguing me, but I know I’m mourning either way.
I guess we all have to get used to this. Distant friends, close tragedies. This post has very little direction, I know, but her death has me questioning the closeness of the Internet and what all this shit means. I barely understand Facebook, but I’m starting to get it. Sure it’s kind of too personal, and a bit of an overshare, but this is our world. Keep connected, even from afar, cause it all means something - the good, and the bad. All from watching a timeline, but not actually living it with them. As I continue to try and define it, I know I’ll be letting people know, even with a one sentence note, that I appreciate them. Even if they don’t remember everything about me. Cause it made me smile, then hurt. Crazy to think I can’t get someone out of my mind, who wasn’t in it for so long.
My annual tradition of listing my top movies (it fluctuates between 10 & 20 yearly) has been in full effect since I was 15 years old. First created with my childhood friend B.J. and placed on our family fridges with a magnet, this list is now in line with my ongoing Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. If I don’t write it up, my whole family will die in a car fire or my business will go bankrupt because a nefarious Illuminati group set me up for tax fraud. It’s that easy.
As always, it’s my list, not yours. So it’s opinion based. I’m not wrong. Also, I haven’t seen EVERYTHING. I list what I haven’t seen below.
Some background - my favorite movie last year was True Grit - and here’s last year’s entire list. And here’s 2009’s list. Also, I know I picked a #1 that basically no one else will have, which is rare. That’s fine with me. Just a small note worth getting out of the way. I sometimes make changes to the list as I see the movies I missed (a former #1, The Squid and the Whale, didn’t take it’s crown until maybe 5 months after the list was created). OK, here we go for 2011.
An early 2011 release, but this one I didn’t see until the last week of December. It was actually released in 2010 overseas, but it was only shown on 5 screens this Summer in the US in June. This movie is edited completely out of order, jumping before, during and after Plummer’s sickness, so I’m not spoiling anything you can’t read on the box, dick wad. Ewan McGregor and Christopher Plummer (who is genuinely standing ovation brilliant) star in this uplifting and touching movie about living, getting old, dying and coping. McGregor is a graphic designer, who’s father (Plummer) comes out of the closet after his wife of 40 years passes away. Plummer, who is well into his 70’s, lives up his new sexuality, until he is diagnosed with terminal cancer. We watch as McGregor, and his father, deal with dynamic changes, the impending death and what exactly life is all about. As someone who lost his father to cancer, a few years after a move to Vegas where he changed his lifestyle completely, this one hit close to home. No one can ever brace you for what it feels like when a parent dies, but this film, especially with McGregor’s shock, odd behavior and inability to keep a relationship, does the best job I’ve seen yet. Great movie that no one saw.
9. Fright Night
This is one of those remake ideas that made everybody groan, so when I started hearing rumblings that it was actually good - I raced to the theater to see it. I LOVED this movie. So much fun, especially since I don’t really hold the original very close to my heart. Colin Ferrel usually annoys me terribly (ugh, Horrible Bosses and in real life), but here he was great in an over-the-top way. As was Anton Yelchin, McLovin, and David Tennant. If you are looking for an exciting, somewhat brainless, vampire movie, look no further, an amazing double feature option for Lost Boys has arrived. There’s a Kid Cudi song in it too, but don’t hold that against it.
I can’t imagine anyone wanted to see this movie as badly as they should have. I know I didn’t. For starters, I think it was somewhat funded by TapouT, and has speaking cameos from the founders of the clothing line. Also, it was heavily marketed as an MMA movie, which it isn’t. That would be like saying 8 Mile is about battle rapping or banging Brittany Murphy in a factory (RIP). As much as I’d like to see a sequel to Bloodsport, this was more of a Ben Affleck Boston family drama than something Dana White might use to promote his sport. There are great action sequences though, and great acting from Nick Nolte, and the two meatheads who play the lead brothers (Inception Bane & another guy who’s gonna be Tom Buchanan in Gatsby next year). Well done movie. Unfortunate Whitney-esque marketing.
7. Attack The Block
I feel like this also could’ve been a #1 for me, especially considering I’ll probably watch it once a year forever, but it also just feels right coming after Fright Night. The bastard child of Ghoulies and Goonies, it’s an almost perfect alien adventure movie. Produced by the always list-making Edgar Wright, this movie tells the story of a group of young gang members in South London who have to protect their block from an alien invasion. Throw in an incredible soundtrack from the legal names of Basement Jaxxx, and this movie will be in your collection for quite some time.
This one isn’t easy to write about. After first seeing it, I was obviously impressed by the directorial work of Nicolas Winding Refn, the soundtrack and the acting of Ryan Gosling. And I’m still into all of those things. I’m a fan of the movie. Sitting on it for a few months though, it didn’t quite resonate as long as I expected and looking at the movies now in my top 5, it just seems more appropriate to really celebrate them. I still really do like the movie, and I look forward to seeing it a second time. And truth is, I can’t hate ANYTHING that Albert Brooks is in. This wasn’t the best movie of the year, no matter what you say Guy Who Lives In Sliverlake or Brooklyn, but I do still like it - I just hate it as your Halloween costume.
Math. Baseball. Dialogue. These are a few of my favorite things. Bay Area nickel-and-dime baseball gets the spotlight as Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill tell the story of the Oakland A’s attempt at competing with large market baseball teams while on a shoestring budget. Not sure everyone will dig this movie as much as I did, but it’s a great underdog story and gives some insight on Jeremy Giambi, which makes it a good movie all on its own.
4. The Descendants
Alexander Payne has a former #1 (Election) and looking back Sideways probably should’ve been a #1 too. I think Payne and Tom McCarthy are really the two best writer/directors currently, when it comes to conveying human emotion without being too over the top or obvious. Realistic dialogue, touching stories and uncontrollable, uncomfortable, laughter. I thought I’d hate George Clooney playing age appropriate (which is weird), but he was great, as was MATTHEW ILLARD and Rob Huebel. I loved this movie, again about the mortality of loved ones, so consider me goth and in a bad place.
Stay in that bad place, cause it’s cancer time. Writing this out I realized how many films directly spoke to me this year, as I had a pretty serious cancer scare myself in 2011. But here Seth Rogen and Joseph Gordon Leavitt tackle the disease with what I consider the funniest, and saddest, movie of the year. Based on the real story of writer, and close Rogen friend, Will Reiser, 50/50 is a triumph and an example of what makes me love movies in the first place. Much like The Descendants, it’s a beautiful story that can make you laugh wholeheartedly while trying to catch your breath from sobbing. Anna Kendrick, Bryce Dallas Howard and Anjelica Huston all stand out and even though it’s hard to get anyone to see a movie about cancer, you’re really missing out on a gem if you pass on this movie. Please support it, it’s that good. I don’t want to have to stop talking to you.
2. The Muppets
I would’ve never guessed I’d love this movie to the extent I did. Working with Disney in 2009, I was privy to an early early cut, and I hated it. I’m a Muppets die-hard fan (I have Waldorf & Stadler tattoo’ed on my arm, so I’m also stupid) and I have strong opinions. But the final product that hit screens to end 2011 was exactly what I wanted it to be. Silly, full of heart and nostalgic. Jason Segal and Nicholas Stoller pay homage to Jim Henson and the Muppets we grew up with, while still injecting their own style without offending purists. With the success of The Muppets at the box office expect this to be just the start. I just hope as much as heart as was put into this reboot continues to stay with the product, because my support will be endless.
1. Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes
Somewhat shocking, I admit it. I just like seeing Armenians represented in Hollywood. I kid. I assume I’m alone with this being my #1 pick, but it was hands down the most fun I had watching a movie in 2011. I had no expectations going in, as I love the original Rod Serling Apes, hate every sequel and despise the Tim Burton attempt (like every human should). It had been so long since the original, I gave up hope. The concept of a good Planet of the Apes movie was becoming the Dr. Dre’s Detox of cinema. A total unknown to me, Rupert Wyatt, directed what is essentially the best popcorn flick I’ve seen it years. James Franco is great, Andy Serkis is tremendous (he NEEDS a nomination, but won’t get one) and John Lithgow is John Lithgow. I suggest this movie to everyone, especially in the “Let’s stay at home and rent something” era. So happy this movie exists and so happy to put it at #1.
Honorable Mention (no particular order) - The Artist, Cedar Rapids, Rango (would be my #11), Win Win, Like Crazy, Captain America, Thor, Bridesmaids, Midnight In Paris, Take Shelter, Young Adult, The Adventures of TinTin, Submarine
I have not seen (which in turn might make my list shit) - Source Code, We Need To Talk About Kevin, Hugo, The Tree of Life, Martha Marcy May Marlene, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
Movie you loved that I hated - Adjustment Bureau