The Beatles said
Love is all you need
True, but incomplete
Love is all there is
Name something else in life that can’t be taken by force
The Beatles said
Love is all you need
True, but incomplete
Love is all there is
Name something else in life that can’t be taken by force
When I was 16, I got my first job at a Hollywood Video. I was really excited because I loved movies and now I was going to get to rent them for free (as long as no one else wanted them, and as long as they weren’t new releases).
It wasn’t long before I became the youngest assistant manager in the entire Hollywood Video franchise. I was a workhorse. I loved it. I excitedly drove straight from school to work every day.
I didn’t mind the arguing of late fees with angry customers. I didn’t mind the popcorn vest and tuxedo shirt. I didn’t even mind the bow-tie and the sexual harassment from Gary, the store manager.
But there was one thing I simply could not tolerate: the way I was required to answer the phone in March of the year 2000:
“Hello and thank you for calling Hollywood Video Westwood Village on the corner of Wilshire and Gayley where you can pre-order Star Wars Episode One: The Phantom Menace and be entered to win free rentals for one year. I’m Elan, how can I help you today?”
I’m not kidding. This was every time the phone rang. Arthur from corporate called at least three times a day to make sure everyone was answering the phone this way. This was mandatory.
I only got in trouble once at work, and it was when Gary found out I was never charging customers for not rewinding their videos. When he confronted me the conversation went a little bit like this:
Gary: You really need to charge non-rewinding fees, Elan.
Elan: Why? We have like 20 rewinders plugged in back here.
Gary: I’m not asking you what you think. I’m telling you the rules.
Needless to say, I never charged anyone a rewinding fee. I had high speed rewinders behind the register. It actually took me less time to rewind a video than it would for anyone at home.
After this conversation with Gary, I never followed the rules again. I answered the phone “Hello?” or “How do you do?”
I let kids rent R rated movies.
I played non-approved movies, like Alien, on the big screens.
It only took them a week to fire me. I remember turning in my popcorn vest and red bow tie. It was sad, because I would miss all the movies.
I learned two things at Hollywood Video.
1. Work hard.
2. Don’t follow stupid rules.
Everything’s been pretty good since I learned these two things.
On February 3, 2013, well over 100,000,000 people watched the Super Bowl.
Let’s be honest, most of us don’t really care about football that much. So why do we care so much about this one particular event? Because we want to understand it. We want to know what it’s like to feel the play clock ticking down and we want a single moment in our lives to be our defining one. We want the pressure of the world’s eyes upon us at the moment we have our chance to succeed, to make our mark.
The Super Bowl is so simple. There is a winner and there is a loser. There is the best and then there is everyone else.
Life? Life is a little more complicated. Things just aren’t that clear. But we yearn for it. We need it. We need to feel like at the moment when the football is spiraling towards us in the end zone, the eyes of those that matter will be around to see it, to define who we are, to define our lives, to shed a light on the moments that make us matter.
The strongest pain you have ever felt, doubled over, feeling as if you’ll never recover. But then you do.
The moment you finally are able to make eye contact with that person who makes you nervous.
Telling someone you love them, and meaning it, and not being able to live in a world where you don’t say it every fucking day.
Being there for someone who actually needs you.
These moments. These are our Super Bowls. These are the moments where our actions will change our histories, our stories, and our futures.
Fewer people are watching and fewer people care, but this is when we put points on our life’s scoreboards.
For every flashing camera, for every screaming fan, for every excited reporter, there is a story. And if you take away the flashes and the fans and the reporters? There is still the story.
That’s why we watch the Super Bowl. Because we are all playing in it every day. We just don’t know it.
Win. Win at your life. Win at being. Win.
Until I was 10 years old, I was convinced that my grandfather, Harvey, was a zookeeper.
He lived in Bethesda, Maryland, and about twice a year he would come out to Los Angeles to visit. He would usually bring me and my older sisters a gift or two, but he would always bring his tape recorder.
From as early on as I can remember, he would insist on telling my sisters and me a story or two, and he would always record them. All the stories were about the zoo back in Brooklyn that he worked at for many years. In these stories all the animals would talk and more often than not, they would be troublemakers that my grandfather had to set straight. He had a lion (Leo) and an eagle (Eddie) and even a giraffe.
I wanted to grow up to be a zookeeper, just like him. I wanted to have great stories to tell my kids, just like him, and eventually carry around a tape recorder and tell stories to my grandchildren as well.
And then I got a little bit older and I started asking a lot of questions and I found out that he was never really a zookeeper.
A part of me always knew that, but for a long enough time I really wanted to believe him, and I wanted to believe that the animals could talk and that he could talk back to them, and that they would listen.
But then I got a little bit older and it wasn’t cool to believe, so I didn’t.
And then, when he was 85, he came to live with us because he was very sick, and he could tell that I didn’t believe him anymore, so he stopped telling the stories.
Until one day when he asked me, as a favor, if he could just tell me another one. It wasn’t about a rambunctious animal who’d gotten loose. It was about a buffalo that was sick and was dying and was lost. And the only happy part was that the buffalo got to say goodbye to his kids before he closed his eyes for the last time.
A few weeks later, my grandfather died in our home and I walked in and said goodbye. And that was the only happy part of that night.
If I could change anything, I’d probably go back and convince myself to believe for a little bit longer. Maybe I’d have a few more tapes to share with my kids.
I’ll try to play every one of those tapes for them, but I’m not going to play the one about the buffalo until I am very old, and if they ever ask me what my grandfather was like, I’m going to tell them that he was the world’s finest zookeeper.
Jane and Scott had grown up in the same town but they had never met.
But yet, here they were in seats 13A and 13B on a small regional jet going through a monstrous patch of turbulence. Their elbows had been touching for nearly 45 minutes, but neither of them had said a word.
Scott was glaring at the “Fasten Seat Belts” sign and had been doing so since he first felt the slightest bump in the air. In his mind he was having a very lengthy conversation with God. At first he was begging for mercy, but had since given up and was pleading for life on behalf of the two toddler’s he had seen board the plane after him.
Jane was thinking about how if she was a cloud, she would be really annoyed by planes. “Let’s give ‘em a jostle,” she thought, while in her cloud persona, “that’ll really show them.” Then she thought about how she didn’t care how planes worked. It was enough for her that they worked and that she was headed home to see her mother and if some clouds had to be disturbed, than that was fine with her.
The flight attendants took their seats in a hurry and Scott tried his best to read their expressions. Were they used to this? Is this normal?
He sipped the last bit of his second vodka and soda, praying that somehow his need for service would call into action a global series of events, stopping the turbulence and allowing the flight attendants to resume their duties.
Jane named a cloud ‘Walter’ and then she laughed a little bit and looked over at Scott. She expected him to laugh at first but then remembered that he was not in on the joke.
Scott turned to her and politely returned half a giggle.
“Do you know that clouds are just water?” Jane asked.
“I’m sorry. What?”
“Do you know that everything is water? Even air is water. And right now we’re just swimming?” Jane said.
Scott hadn’t noticed Jane before. Jane was gorgeous.
“What are you getting at?” Scott asked.
“You look nervous.”
“I am. I’m not a good flyer.”
“So don’t think of it as flying. Think of it as swimming. Are you afraid of swimming?”
“No,” said Scott.
“You’re mostly water too,” Jane said. “You and me and the clouds and the air, we’re all water, so there’s nothing to be scared of.”
Suddenly Jane placed her hand down on the armrest and let it brush gently against Scott’s hand. He looked down and was immediately embarrassed by the whiteness of his knuckles, the clamminess of his palms.
“Do you think the clouds have feelings?” asked Jane.
“So they don’t care if you live or die?”
“No. I don’t think they care,” said Scott.
“Good. So there’s nothing out to get you.”
The plane began to really shake. An overhead bin in the first class cabin dropped open and a leather case fell out. Nothing big enough to injure anyone, but a sign nonetheless.
“How about that?” asked Scott. “Doesn’t that scare you?”
“What’s the worst that could happen?”
“Well, we could die. We could be scared the whole way down.”
“I wouldn’t be. What’s there to be scared of? If we go down, we both know what’s going to happen.”
The lights in the cabin started to flicker. Scott could tell that the flight attendants were not as calm as they wanted to pretend to be,
“I don’t want to die,” said Scott.
“You don’t know what ‘die’ is. You didn’t even know that we and the clouds and the air were all water.”
“I’m fine. Don’t worry about it,” Scott said, turning his head slightly away.
“I guess what I’m trying to say is that I think you’d be better off being afraid of the things you understand instead of the things you don’t.”
As soon as Jane said this, the lights came back on, the “Fasten Seat Belts” sign was turned off, and the flight attendants took to their feet.
Scott let out a long breath and pushed his call button, ready for another vodka soda. Maybe a double this time.
Jane flicked Scott’s plastic cup and said “This is mostly made of water too, you know. And the ice also.”
“What’s your point?” Scott asked, low on patience.
“I guess I’m just flirting,” said Jane.
Scott looked at Jane for the first time. Golden hair and a slightly imperfect smile, bigger on the left side than the right.
The flight attendant hovered above Scott and then tapped him on the shoulder.
“Oh, I’ll have another vodka soda. And whatever the lady is having,” Scott gestured over to Jane.
“Oh thanks. I’ll have a water,” said Jane.
The flight attendant walked away and Scott looked back at Jane. She was relaxed. She must always be relaxed, he thought.
“I guess I’m not good at flirting” said Jane.
“No. I’m not sure you’re very good at it at all.”
“Can I try again?”
And suddenly there was a flash of bright, bright light and then there wasn’t anything else.
The clouds looked on. All they could see was Jane not being afraid. Not afraid of Scott and not afraid of them and not afraid of anything and they thought her quite silly.
These skies can be very dangerous.
Here’s some advice you should take this flu season:
Don’t get the flu.
You want to know why? It’s not because of the aches and the pains and the chills and the blinding headaches and the vomiting.
No, that’s not why. Because THAT is child’s play compared to the grueling, painful, unbearable, stupid advice that people will give you when you are sick.
Literally, when you are even mildly sick, people treat you as if you were an infant, crawling on your hands and knees, wide-eyed and unaware of the world around you.
They say things like:
“Get lots of rest”
“Drink lots of fluids”
“Have a lot of soup”
As if you have NEVER BEEN SICK BEFORE. As if you had never considered any of these COMPLETELY OBVIOUS AND WELL KNOWN remedies. AND, they actually act like they are doing you a FAVOR by giving you this advice. As if they are the ones with the secret and if you listen to them you’ll feel better and then they can feel like they helped you.
“Have some tea”
“Tea? What’s that. I’ve never heard of it. I’ve only been alive since the beginning of this conversation so thank you almighty and wise friend for bestowing upon me your wealth of knowledge.”
I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, but seriously, if someone is sick and they haven’t DIRECTLY asked you for a cure, SHUT YOUR DAMN MOUTH, you’re getting germs everywhere.
The only thing YOU can do to help a person who has the flu is kill them. But if you’re not willing to do that, then you should probably just let them be.
Here are some free screenplay ideas. I have a cold and will probably die from sneezing so you can use these if you want.
1. Dinosaur Love - In the year 2104, dinosaurs have been brought back, shrunk to pet-size, and have learned to speak English relatively well (they sound a little bit like maybe they’re from Italy but its hard to be sure.) Krumholt, a well-mannered language teacher at an all-dinosaur high school falls in love with one of his student’s mother. The catch? She’s a pterodactyl. Will he be able to teach her about love or will she literally fly away?
2. Dino Might - Exactly the same as Dinosaur Love but instead of a teacher falling in love with a pterodactyl, all the dinosaurs parents crash a DPTA (Dinosaur Parent Teacher Association) meeting and hold the teachers hostage and demand a better arts program.
3. Untitled Paul Rudd Project - It’s a movie with Paul Rudd. Basically it writes itself.
4. Texas Chainsaw Extreme Home Makeover - Leatherface turns good after seeing a couple of documentaries about the inner city and uses his chainsaw to build new sheds for a group of terrified teens.
5. Love Thy Neighbor - In a small Pennsylvania town, the local hermit casts a spell over all the inhabitants, causing them to fall in love with each other. Naturally, jealousy takes over and everyone dies in a tragic riot.
Okay, actually these are all pretty good. Please don’t steal my ideas
This is a personal post about what is happening inside of my body. Do not read this if you are not interested in me or my body.
I am three weeks into an extreme detox. I only eat raw vegan food. So basically, I eat vegetables and fruits in their natural form. Also, I supplement this with 16oz of dehydrated Kamut water every morning, a 20oz green meal smoothie with coconut oil, sprouted live flaxseed, and soy lecithin granules, followed by 26oz of filtered water with concentrated food grade hydrogen peroxide. I drop a teaspoon of oregano oil directly onto my tongue after I finish ingesting six 20 billion unit probiotic capsules, six fenugreek seed capsules, three coconut oil pills, and twenty or thirty tablets each of chlorella and spirulina. I cap off the day by ingesting a detox clay cocktail. Then I get in bed and pray for the sweet angel of mercy to sweep down from the sky and end this madness.
Oh, and by the way, for those of you that know me, this also means no coffee…and NO WINE. So, basically, I’m in hell.
I have one week to go.
Currently, I have a cold or a flu or some kind of terrible side-effect of detoxing. My brain feels like it is going to explode and my sinuses feel like the bad-guy car from Grease with the dangerous wheels has driven through them.
My girlfriend is doing this detox with me. She seems totally fine.
I’ve basically avoided all human interaction because when you’re sick people tell you to have some soup or drink some tea, which are things that I can not do, for detox reasons.
“Why put yourself through this?” you may ask.
Well, honestly, there’s no super compelling reason, but I will tell you this: Other than the last few days of sickness, I’ve never slept better, and that’s reason enough to maintain. But more than that, the reason to do things sometimes in life is because you said you would.
It’s a commitment and a promise, to myself, to my girlfriend, and kind of just to “the world.” It’s easy to stick to a diet or an exercise plan when you feel great. It’s easy to make your appointments and remember to return phone calls when you feel like a million bucks.
It’s really hard to do anything when the roads get tough, but that is when you’re really doing anything.
So, next time you’ve made a commitment to something and you feel like it’s the last thing in the world you want to do, that is the time to figure out what kind of person you are.
As for me, I’m going to go eat some raw kelp noodles and drink some beet juice.
Because I said I would.
A young man woke up and realized that he was on a boat in the middle of the ocean.
He had no idea how he got there or even where ‘there’ was. He had nothing in his possession other than a blank map.
For three days and nights he begged the sky for answers. The sky gave none.
He became tired and he became hungry.
For three more days and three more nights he begged the sky for mercy. None was to be found.
He became thirsty and cold.
For three more days and three more nights he begged the sky for justice. None was delivered.
He became weak.
For three more days and three more nights he begged the sky for peace. There was none to be had.
He became frail.
On the 13th day, he begged the sky for love and then he went to sleep.
The next morning he woke up and the woman he left behind was on the boat with him. He was too frail to speak and she held a finger to her lips, telling him that she understood.
In her other hand she held up the map which was no longer blank. It was rich and colorful and could guide him home.
He closed his eyes and took her hands and let the tides take them to where they began.
With all his might he thanked the sky.
Life is fragile.
Consider the orange for a moment:
Hi, I’m an orange. I live in Florida and basically I just hang out and I enjoy the sun a whole lot. Every day, I just drink in the water and basically sleep a lot.
Then, one day, I look down and a guy with a translucent blue glove grabs me and takes me away from my permanent hat. I think to myself “Okay, let’s see where this goes,” but then it always goes to the same place:
I go down a series of metal slopes until two metal plates squish me together and kill me and that makes about 1/24th of a glass of orange juice.
Anyway, I hope you really enjoy your orange juice. All it took was my entire life to make what you basically consider backwash,
You’re horrible. Have a nice day, jerks.
On my tenth birthday, I decided that I was going to become a professional baseball player. I was too short for basketball, too weak for football, too fat for soccer, and I had already been kicked out the tennis club when they told my parents that I was “obscene.”
I wasn’t very good when I first started in Little League. I played right field and never saw a ball come my way. When I was up to bat I would just pray for the ball to hit me so I could make it to first base.
But in time, I got better and better and better and eventually I was actually pretty good. In my mind, I was good enough to make it to the big leagues. Before you get too sure that I was totally crazy, let’s keep in mind that my competition was a bunch of Jewish kids from Encino.
It’s a sad day when you can’t play Little League anymore because you’re too old. In truth, when I think back to my childhood, baseball is pretty much the only thing I’m nostalgic about. That, and trampolines, and also not paying taxes and never having any disappointing sexual experiences and also never being hungover. And being driven around was pretty cool. Also, I wasn’t crushed daily by the ever-looming dark cloud of death hanging above me. Okay, so there’s a lot of things, but baseball is one.
Then I got to high school and I tried out for the baseball team. This was the next step towards my only goal in life: Dodger stadium.
The day came to announce the team and believe it or not I was on it! I was going to be playing third base for the University High School Warriors. I went out with my mother and bought the requisite royal blue socks and the orange undershirts and got ready for my first day of practice:
When I got to the field, there was a sign by the locker room letting me know that our first practice was actually just going to be a team meeting, taking place in room 142. I was dressed for playing and had a glove on my left hand as I walked into the classroom where Coach McCarthy was standing next to a Christmas tree. It was early September.
I looked around and everyone else was dressed in street clothes. Great. I’m that guy.
McCarthy got started right away:
“I just want to start off by congratulating you all on even being selected to be on this team. But playing baseball is only one part of being part of a team. T-E-A-M, team.”
At this point he handed out some pieces of paper.
“If you wanna be a part of this team, you have to help make this team thrive and that means selling Christmas trees.”
And now I’m confused.
“These Christmas trees are gonna buy balls and they’re gonna buy bats and they’re gonna buy bus tickets. If you sell enough trees, we have a season, and if you don’t…well, you’re not really a part of the TEAM then, are you?”
So here I was, a Jewish kid in a pair of polyester pants in the middle of September being asked to peddle Christmas trees to who? My Jewish neighbors. I had nightmares immediately. Walking up to the doors of my neighbors…
Hi, would you like to buy a Christmas tree? You wouldn’t? Why not? Is it because it is September? Oh, no, don’t worry, these won’t be delivered until the week before Christmas? How will they arrive? I have no idea. I’m not a tree delivery guy. I’m just a baseball player who needs to sell you this Douglas Fir or else I’m off the team. As you might know, my ability to catch a fly ball is directly correlated to my ability to sell a Christmas tree to a Jew.
And then I looked around at all the other players on the team as they nodded and flipped through the pages of the tree pamphlet. And no one else seemed the slightest bit confused. These people may be great baseball players, but they were also total idiots.
Coach McCarthy then told us to “go out and sell some trees” and everyone cheered and I walked out of the room and threw the pamphlet in the trash can and I never played baseball again.
One of the greatest lies ever told is the one of tofu.
If you ask vegetarians, vegans, or doctors they will all tell you that tofu is a food product made out of soy beans. LIES! LIES! LIES!!!
What they won’t tell you is that tofu is actually an adorable, and highly endangered animal. Violently harvested from the warm waters east of the Philippines, tofu may look like a man-made product, but these cuddly, square-shaped swimming creatures are torn from their families, packaged in plastic, and cold-heartedly served up to the American public as a healthy food!!!
Tofu may be square in shape, but they are living, breathing creatures with mothers and fathers and hopes and dreams. So, eat your tofurkey and your tofutti cuties with all the reckless abandon you desire, but PLEASE bear in mind that these are nonviolent creatures that only wish to live and love and multiply.
Next time you bite into a delicious bite of tofu, think about the life you are taking: a peaceful life, floating peaceably amongst the coral and sponges, hoping for a better life for their children than the ones their parents gave them.
Hold your heads up high, vegetarians, as you decimate a loving population.
RIP TOFU E. 2013 ETERNAL
I haven’t written to you in almost two years, but I feel like now is the time. I just feel this terrible need to get all of this out at once. I met a girl and I love her very much but I’m not sure that she even knows how I feel about her. We’ve been on six dates and on the fourth date I kissed her and then on the fifth date I didn’t but then I did again on the sixth date. I put my hand on her waist and most likely I touched the top of her butt, you know, where the back meets the butt, but I didn’t want her to think I was sleazy, so I made it seem like an accident.
When we were at dinner she reached for her wallet and I got super excited because gosh who can afford dinner for two people AND wine, but then I got even more excited because DAMN IT I am going to buy this dinner and then I did and pretended I didn’t care and I smiled like it was no big deal.
Anyway, I really like this girl. I think she might be the one. I hope. I pray.
You haven’t talked to me in almost two years. I don’t give a shit.
Go fuck yourself.
I began this blog exactly 1 year ago.
I didn’t really have a good reason. I didn’t really have a mission. And above all, I didn’t think I had anyone who would read it.
But I needed to write it. I needed to write it, for me.
I think the thing I felt most at this time 1 year ago was stagnation. I felt still and quiet and useless to myself and to others.
365 days have passed. Everything has changed but nothing has changed.
I have done some of my favorite writing. I have met new people. I have found love. I have lost love. And I have found love again. And I’ve interacted with you. You.
I didn’t know what this blog space was going to be for me and I still don’t. I wanted a bed to lay my thoughts upon and this was it. I shared. I was open and I was honest and I allowed you to judge me. It was terrifying.
But if you’re reading this it’s probably not the first post of mine you are reading.
So let me quickly just say “thank you” for allowing me to flood your brain, your eyes, and if I’ve been even moderately successful, your heart.
Thanks for reading and responding and making this quiet voice feel loud.
And for people like me, let me say this:
1 year ago I could not imagine that anything I was sad about would change. In the past year, some things got better, and some things got worse, but EVERYTHING changed.
So if you’re ever feeling, as I often do, that life is a monotonous routine, I encourage you to start writing things down so that in one year (as I am doing now) you can look back and realize that everything is shifting, changing, collapsing upon itself and then rebuilding.
Maybe I’m crazy to think that anyone cares, but when I stop being emotional and start being rational I realize that people care because PEOPLE CARE.
Open up. Let us in. Come in. Let me in. Let’s do this together.
Thank you for being with me this year. Let’s do a couple more.
I love you.