Thursday, July 31, 2008

movie oddities

The machinery of public perception are a funny thing. As Twain said, a lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its pants. Couple that with our sheep-like willingness to let other people do our thinking for us, and you have a formula for millions of people agreeing that something is "good" or "bad" without even experiencing it firsthand.
This movie quickly became a cultural punchline, synonymous with big-budget, career-ending disaster (anyone been to an Elaine May film festival lately?). The negative reaction was certainly far too immediate for people to have judged the film on its own merits. I think perhaps this film was a victim of the need for mythological archetypes. We need cautionary tales, we need sometimes to build something up and just as quickly tear it down. I've heard other theories for why this movie was villified so, and this makes as much sense as any. The truth is, and i'm a little ashamed to admit this...when i first saw it, i agreed that it was bad. Had the power of popular perception affected even me, the champion of free thinking? When i saw it the second time (convinced to give it one more chance), i smiled a little. The third time, i quietly laughed. The fourth time i was guffawing, and a comedic legend was a-bornin'. The movie, ranked in 2008 as the 42nd greatest film of all time (by me, you peabrains) gained access to that rarefied place normally reserved for phenomenons like Python or Rocky Horror, where lines became catchphrases. I'm still not sure whether i didn't like it at first because i had bought into the popular perception, or because you need to see it a couple times before you appreciate it.
The Monkees only feature film, released as their popularity was beginning to wane. It was soundly trashed at the box office. The style of the film, which was reportedly a result of the band's own insistence, was radically different from the TV show. The film is an absolute psychedelic head trip. And as such, it is fucking brilliant. Fans of the TV show hated it because it wasn't like the show, and the psychedelic-minded folk who would have loved it stayed away because it was the Monkees.
Okay, it's not a movie, it's a reality TV mini-series. But it's ridiculously appropriate to this category. Why was this little piece of brilliance ignored even by Trek fans? It's one of the most devious, wide-ranging, committed practical jokes in the history of history. The set-up: William Shatner and a Hollywood film crew descend on a small Iowa town (the "birthplace" of Captain Kirk) to film a sci fi movie. They recruit townsfolk as actors and crew. But none of it's real: the dialogue and situations are over-the-top ridiculous, and the behavior of the L.A. cast/crew is an exaggeration of every Hollywood cliche. Simply brilliant.

People can be suckered into believing that a brilliant film is crap. The reverse may or may not be true, but people can certainly be suckered into believing that a good film is great.
A good film. But not great. I offer no room for debate on this one. Whoever has done PR on this film since its release, deserves a bonus that comes in a truck. Any sentiment I could express is trumped by the Godfather segment from "The Family Guy".
Academy award?! Maybe the first film in the trilogy deserved honors. But the only award this film deserved is "greatest practical joke of an unending denouement", or "most intense gay porn scene in a mainstream film".
Fine acting and production values, but it's a second rate kids' film.

The films in this category are not bad. On the contrary, they're quite good, easily 7 or 8 stars. But the soundtracks, in and of themselves, are absolute, 10-star gems.
The satiric brilliance of these songs is almost entirely lost when watching the film, in which the songs are background and abbreviated. The full versions on the soundtrack are funnier by far than this funny movie.
The comedic brilliance of these songs is not, for the most part, lost when watching the movie. As the songs are central to the plot, they receive much attention. Yet the songs are the more brilliant product, including and especially the Folksmen cover of a Rolling Stones ditty. Kum bay ya.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


I, Robert Nelson Rosenberger Jr. (also known as wrob shineyoung and occasionally poopiepants) being of sound body, do hereby bequeath the following loot into the stewardship of the following people.
I don't say "mind and body" because the mind is of the body, therefore if the body is sound, it follows the mind is too. We'll have no rylesque runarounds in this ol' document. Though i suppose we'll be able to keep functioning brains in talking jars before long, so to avoid legal hassle, i grudgingly testify that my mind is sound, too.
Chirp chirp.
And ownership is an illusion, so "stewardship" is appropriate.
My first will and testament is among my papers, a scrap with almost no detail. I amend that document, naming my parents co-executors of my estate, and stating my desire to have my financial assets divided equally among the members of my nuclear family and John Dailey (unless Jeff or John wish to spend their loot on drugs, in which case their portions go to a deserving nudist organization).
If there are any wrob-remains, freezing is dandy, as i'd LOVE to come back. Burial or burning are okay, under the following conditions. Burial, only if you personally inter my remains, away from the shameful pocket-filling of the burying bidness vultures. Burning, only if it's a proper pyre on a boat. But maybe space sounds nicest of all...release me into that vacuum, so i may dream about discovering whether the universe ends or nay. That would be a fitting marriage of death and infinity, the only two subjects that overloaded little wrob-brain, in life. If there is a ceremony to commemorate my bucket-kicking, i have two stipulations: no religion, and everyone naked. Am i joking? If you need ask, you don't know me. The Weber boys may gather around me to give me a collective "face". If someone slips in a butt rape (that's not what it sounds like, readers), be tolerant, as they never got me while i was alive. Everyone should bring a bucket, and gather in a ceremonial kicking circle. No one goes home with the bucket they came with.
Playfulness aside, no viewing please - NO FLUIDS, NO EMBALMING, NO RESTORATION. No cemetery or mausoleum. I've heard of something called an eco-friendly funeral (i hope it was real, it was how they buried nate in SIX FEET UNDER). If freezing or space ejection aren't available, that sounds fine.
My writings i put into the trust of my co-executors. The most up-to-date versions are on my hard drive, or the USB flash drive which is normally in my backpack, in an orange waterproof necklace. The only file that might be incomplete is the blog file.
My Star Trek and dvd collections go to john, except that first edition TNG novel he covets. On my deathbed, i'll be wiping my ass with that one.
My music collection and M*A*S*H stuff, go to dave.
My pete rose ball goes to bob.
My Orpheus and Red Curtain memorabilia go to amanda parke, and paul longua.
My harry chapin signed poetry book goes to charlie leeder.
My tom lehrer pre-record contract album goes to pat and john gaul.
My comics and marx brother dvds go to isaac.
My Monty Python stuff and edgar rice burroughs books go to aaron.
My Star Wars figures (i know, this is what you've all been waiting for...) are to be divided among dave, jeff, and john.
As for the rest and any details, you'll figure it out.
I loved you, you beautiful, silly bastards!

signed, this 29th day of July 2008

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


Last month i officially officiated my first official wedding.
My first unofficial officiating occurred last summer, when a couple posted an ad looking for an actor to pretend to be a minister at their wedding. They had gotten married in secret months before, but they wanted to stage a wedding for their families. They liked the cut of my jib, and i had so much fun doing it i thought about making it a regular gig, as i actually was ordained in college, on a lark. Reverend Rob Rosenberger, Church of Universal Life, at your service. I am in many ways radically non-traditional when it comes to marriage, but i figured that crazy kids were going to make that plunge with or without me, so why not have my energy and love be a part of it? I got the paperwork rolling, and $15 later i was an official NYC officiant. I posted the following ad online:
Nothing is more humbling than love. I've traveled the world, I've studied great thoughts, and I live one life in the creative world as a playwright/actor/poet. I live many lives, integrity the only thread. Helping you find wedding readings you love, or delivering readings of ones you already love, or helping you create new readings/vows, are talents I can bring to your day. I've a Master's degree in philosophy, and I'm a deep romantic. The philosophies I've been most drawn to are Eastern and existential. I was ordained during college with the Church of Universal Life, admittedly on a lark, but larks can lead to some wonderful places. My own views on marriage are hardly traditional, as most culture's marriage traditions are rooted in female ownership, so any ceremony I take part in will celebrate the equality between man and woman.
yours in friendship, Rob
My first real wedding was held at the Queens Botanical Garden, for a couple of sweet sweethearts. He's a NY cop, and she's an ex-cop herself. I got to know the bride pretty well. There was some family/friend strife in the months before, but the whole event couldn't have come off lovelier. I stayed to the very end, and even got asked out by the most vivacious broad there. I didn't say yes, for three reasons: one, it seemed more appropriate that the Rev not pick up a date, two, she was a drinker (this was obvious even before she asked me out for a drink), and three, she was a little out of shape. The first reason was easily the lesser of the three. Of the other reasons, the third was the biggest deal-breaker. Is that enough honesty for you?
The couple were non-religious, but they asked me to throw in a couple God/Jesus references, to mollify the families. For the couple's peace of mind, i figured it would be better to have someone faking it than have an actual Bible-thumper up there, so i agreed.
No problem.
I'm standing in the gazebo looking out over the guests before the ceremony, and i notice...a nun. Uh-oh. My faking suddenly takes on a whole new aspect, as i'm suddenly faced with the prospect of being asked to share my thoughts on transubstantiation with a fellow disciple of the lord. I've never, y'know, messed with a nun. Have you?
But god (ahem) intervened. Turned out this nun was of the non-English-speaking variety. Goin'-to-hell (ahem) improv crisis avoided.
As my first change to the institution of marriage, i would require that when a couple file for divorce, there be a ceremony at which all the people who attended the wedding are required to attend. Reasons and arguments will be aired, and the officiant will ask those assembled whether there are any who know of a reason why the couple may not be divorced. The congregation then votes on whether divorce will be granted. If the answer is no, the couple must try to work it out.
One marriage down. Step right up, who's next?

Monday, July 21, 2008

Mr. Wheat!

Two nights ago, i was the precise age john lennon was when he was killed - forty years, eight weeks, three days, twenty-three hours, and fifty minutes. I went to the Dakota, his Central Park home, and stood by the gate where he was murdered. When the clock hit 10:49, i closed my eyes, spread my arms, and counted to sixty.
I wasn't waiting for something mystical. I wasn't expecting to be transformed, or gunned down. I wasn't expecting the ghosts of john and stu to walk by, or meet some person i was fated to meet. There was no particular reason i did this, other than the depth to which john's music has touched me. Not only "Imagine", the single most resonant musical statement i've ever known, but "God", "Woman Is the Nigger of the World", and "Watching the Wheels" are on the short list of songs that have touched my life most deeply.
Certainly, it was a moment to reflect on mortality, and how none of us are ever guaranteed more than the next few seconds. It's fair to say that at least a couple of readers here will die a sudden, unexpected death. One of us might not even make it to the end of this article. What will you do on your last day? Punch the clock? Make a glorious ass of yourself?
I had invited a fellow lennon fan along, then another friend, but i ended up experiencing this observance alone. Appropriate, i guess. After a few minutes, i got on my bike and headed home, where i listened to the following set:
-Imagine (bruce hornsby)
-Woman Is the Nigger of the World
-Happy Christmas/Give Peace a Chance
-Norwegian Wood
-All You Need is Love
-I've Got a Feeling
-The Ballad of John and Yoko
-Free As a Bird
-Watching the Wheels
-Life Begins at 40
-Grow Old With Me
-Empty Garden (elton john)
-Imagine (Blues Traveler)
I recommend to any who observe a similar lennon moment, include a watching of the SNL broadcast of buckwheat's death, which addressed the philosophical question of how long to wait before making fun of brutal slaughter. I like to think john would have laughed. As for me, i'm just living on borrowed time. I'm here today, and i feel fine.
Everyone still alive? Okay, we may get another tomorrow. Shall we share, take responsibility, and love all?
I'm not the only one.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

dear elisabeth

Dear Elisabeth,
Will this be another of Carly's "letters never sent"?
I miss you. There's a little nugget of emptiness inside me that tugs away now and then, at the thought of never again being with you...of never again holding you. Even though i always knew we weren't life-partner compatible, i thought we'd figure out how to be in each other's lives. I thought you'd eventually figure out how my love could make some sort of sense in your life. For a few years, it almost worked. Then last year, something in you said "enough", and i was banished. I accepted it, because that's what love does.
It's so hard to not get caught up in traditional social constructs of how a man and woman must love one another. We feel the urge to measure our relationships by certain roles. Some of that is natural, some of it is not.
I always knew that it just felt so right and healing, being in your arms. Several of the most intense and beautiful sexual moments of my life came in loving you. And there were several moments of simply holding you, that will always be as memorable to me as anything sexual we shared.
And i was never able to tell you one time went by, a little part of me started to think about being with you in a more bonded way...part of me began to want to try it...was this merely the voice of loneliness, just as most surely the voice of loneliness brings me to you today, when sadness and rawness choke down my wounded spirit? I could never tell you i had started to think about being more than an occasional lover/friend, partly because i didn't want to come to you with anything less than certainty...the fact that you are a single mother of a wonderful child only increased my need to never be reckless...
But even now, it's so hard to not send you this note, instead of posting it on a site where you will not see it. Even now, many months after you said goodbye, it's so hard to not show up on your doorstep, a frail human being who only wants to love, and be loved. Even now, i know you are in my spirit forever...
I love you so,

Thursday, July 17, 2008


16) “The Beautiful People”, Marilyn Manson
15) "Stupid Girl", Pink
14) “Gone Daddy Gone”, Gnarls Barkley
13) “Virtual Insanity”, Jamiroqui
12) “Love Will Never Do (Without You)”, Janet Jackson
11) “Steam”, Peter Gabriel
10) "Outside", George Michael
9) "Mama", Genesis
8) “Liar”, Rollins Band
7) “Whip It”, Devo
6) “Closer”, Nine Inch Nails
5) “Dick in a Box”, Samberg & Timberlake
4) “Thriller” Michael Jackson
3) “White and Nerdy”, Weird Al Yankovic
2) “Rock DJ”, Robbie Williams
1) “Sledgehammer”, Peter Gabriel

Saturday, July 12, 2008

three fans and a cricket

A word about my blogging style...often i will edit a piece after it's posted. Rarely will these edits be huge, but they might be significant. I might pick and peck for up to a week. So if a posting particularly touches you, it might be worth your time to re-visit it a week later.
And a word about comments...they bring me much happiness, partly because i don't get many. I sometimes feel I'm writing this blog for three loyal fans and a cricket, based on the paucity of comments. I've very occasionally gotten some humbling feedback, either as a comment or in person...but most of the pieces go un-commented upon. Maybe it's partly the nature of my writing...sometimes i might not have any comment for my blog myself, though i might enjoy it very much. Also, a number of people have told me that due to the vagaries of internet connection, comments they have attempted to post have simply not gone through.
But i love the comments. They feed my spirit. I know there's a way to check how many "hits" a site gets, but i don't know what that way is, and don't really want to know (i try to avoid obvious acts of self-consciousness). But the comments then become my only connection to my three fans and the cricket (he's not really a fan, he just thinks i'm inscrutably ridiculous). I actually have one minor gauge of my site activity, as i can view the number of times my complete profile has been accessed. Once in a while I'll check. It's 147 now, of which 6 or 7 have been me. So that's kinda nice.
Hug a blogger. Leave a comment today.

Friday, July 11, 2008

mahna mahna

Remember that old Muppet song, "Mahna Mahna"? The one with the scatting and the female backup singers?
I may be going to Hades for my mahna actions yesterday. I was biking to work through Manhattan in the morning, and i came to a long stop at an intersection. On the corner, there was an Asian woman handing out literature. She may have been one of the Falun Gong advocates. If you don't know about Falun Gong, they are a spiritual group in China that seems to be undergoing horrific government persecution which is shy of genocide, but not by much. So, you know, not exactly a situation one ought make light of.
And i didn't, i swear.
I think.
Y'see, she kept on calling out a phrase every four or five seconds, as she held up her pamphlets. I've asked a Mandarin-speaking friend what she might have been saying, and came up empty. But if she wasn't saying "mahna mahna"...well then, she sure, um, sounded EXACTLY like a non-English speaker who had been played a tape of the Muppet song, then was asked to stand on a corner and shout the chorus, over and over. I swear. It took me three or four "mahna mahnas" to realize all this. After her next one, i quietly sang the backup singers' "doo dooo de doo-doot". And then i sang again after her next "mahna mahna". She went on like clockwork, and i kept quietly singing. This went on for another five or six repeats.
I was racked with suppressed (and not-so-suppressed) laughter for the next thirty-seven minutes.
Wildflowers amuse easily.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008


For the past few years, there has been a deepening wound in my spirit. A loneliness and rawness in my core.
The reasons and layers are many and varied. I will attempt to do justice to them all, but in writing about a topic this deep, there will surely be holes and omissions.
I have long been one of the most contented and happy souls i know. We live in a society which by its very nature is contrary to inner peace. For all our evolvement, we still live in barbaric times. Future generations will understand this in ways that most of us can grasp only partially, or not at all. We are immersed in violence and superstition from first breath to last.
In spite of this, i have come much closer to inner peace in my life than most ever will. I would like to take some credit for this, that my intelligence has pushed me to foster the rare ability to live in the moment...has made me pursue the simplicity of laughter and touch...yet of course, a very large part of my inner peace i cannot take credit for. Genetically speaking, i think i've just been dealt a very rare hand.
But for the past few years...
There have been obvious surface reasons. I find myself lacking the close circle of friends i always imagined i'd have. For most of my life, my closest friends have lived far away. To have the love of friends at all is a deep blessing, but the day-in, day-out companionship of beloved friends has mostly eluded me. In the past decade i have lost two of the closest friends of my life, one of whom i turned away from, and one of whom turned away from me. Over the past half-decade i have had to let go of the only two women i've ever been in love with. Even though i have my doubts about the naturalness of monogamy, and i reject the idea of being "completed" through love, there is a part of me that is deeply, profoundly romantic. A part of me is writing a love story that will be written indelibly into the fabric of infinity. It may be wildly unconventional. Or not. It may not even be between two. I don't know.
I know that in some ways i've been one of the most well-hugged humans you'll ever meet, due to the times i've worked with children and the mentally retarded. But i come to this point in my life realizing that for the overwhelming majority of my two decades of adult life, i have lain my bones down at night alone and unheld. I didn't mind this for a long time, as i have great reservoirs of patience. For one year, i knew what genuinely intimate and healing human love could be. Having had it, i became determined to never settle for less. But fifteen years of loneliness later, i find myself so wounded from lack of touch and love that "settling for less" almost seems the only option. What we do affects what we become, and it is unacceptable to me that i become "the person who wasn't held".
Part of my reality is that i've become so singular that the average human almost seems a different species. Compatibility becomes a holy grail. People who say i shouldn't seek someone like myself miss the point. I don't wish for a carbon copy, but if i found a woman who shared my core values, rhythms, and humor, i might literally shake from stupefaction. Do i want a female version of me? Childless mother of GOD, yes.
There are plenty of parts of my spirit that reject traditional concepts of family, marriage, and fulfillment...and there is a part of me that is comfortable with the idea that i will never have children, that my creativity is so essential that it must be my focus in life. And on another level, i've become so good at being "me" that i don't know whether i'll ever want to give up as much of myself as having children would require. But the thought of having children is somehow a part of all this. I've long known that having children is the only life path i'm genuinely conflicted about, being able to see two paths very clearly. I would be a good parent, perhaps one of the best. And there is something deep and elemental, the desire to project oneself into life's future through children. But it also seems such an alien thought to me, as i've lived two adult decades without ever ONCE meeting a woman who made me say "this could be the one". If that statement isn't as 100% true as it once was, it's still essentially true (one of the two women i alluded to before sometimes almost scared me, when she would reveal yet another pocket of personality compatibility between us that blew my gourd). I think if i met the right person or people, all these concerns would easily disappear, one way or the other. Meeting certain people...makes certain things, our own desires and needs, suddenly simple and clear. I'm just sad at the thought that, decades from now, i might experience some deep childless sadness. Yet i also know that right now i'm so raw that i'm drawn to do something like impregnating someone, only to have it come crashing down on my head a year or two from now, how simply and utterly wrong that person is for me. I sometimes also think a certain solitariness is a part of who i need to be, in terms of what i can bring to the world. The Piper, the Puck, the Pan, the perfect uncle, and hero to those who dream of freedom. Can i take my own advice, if i say that some people shouldn't be parents? Would i thrive in domesticity? For two decades i've been responsible for only myself, mostly. What, you say i can't take the next seven hours to write? But i'm inspired! The child has a dance lesson i agreed to monitor, and we need groceries and...i don't know, like i said, when you meet the right person or people things become simple. So none of this is worth any great concern.
Another layer of this is simply about age and virility. Now, i'm expecting a profoundly long life...i do consider another century a distinct possibility. And i expect chirpy erections for any number of decades to come. I have 'em most every day, and my morning wood is as woody as can be. But i've found over the past few years that my erections are less automatic than they once were. Perhaps it's that with any partner i've had in recent years, there's always been something missing. Perhaps it's because my taoist sexual training has had the effect of slowing down the start of intercourse, not just extending the act itself. Perhaps it's that for so long the overwhelming majority of my sex life has been solitary, so my erections have been trained to react most readily to my own touches. Perhaps it's something to do with the Buffett line "I'll jumpstart you, if you quickstart me". Perhaps the angle of my bike seat has been too high. Perhaps it's some of all of these, or just what men my age go through. But for whatever reason, this element has added a little bit to my almost reckless state of mind.
Sometimes i feel like a faker, almost willing myself to feel these sadnesses, because they are so contrary to my nature (and, uhhh, maybe they'll make me a better writer?).
I find myself willing to dive into relationships, even when i know there are considerable incompatibilities. Or i experience almost self-destructive impulses, pondering relationships that are inherently not me at all. It's like deep down i'm waiting for someone to reach into me and say, "It's okay, stop just need to be you, and you will be loved and held, and we will heal and laugh and play naked together...feel my heartbeat, because it's going to wrap into yours, and you WILL die one of the most held human beings who ever lived, just as you know you must." All my life i've been patient and strong...and mostly alone. If i come across a relationship that needs me to be patient and strong these days, a part of me just wants to hide and run away.
And that is how i am on this beautiful day.

Monday, July 7, 2008

why i should father your children

At 5'10" and 130 pounds, i'm lighter and stronger than average. My body fat has always been around 2%, and at my most recent physical the doctor said i had a body mass index he had only observed in professional athletes. I've biked 35 miles in 100 degrees, can do 100 push-ups and 20 pull-ups, and have played volleyball for seven hours straight.
My I.Q. is 152. I was too free-spirited to be a scholastic achiever early on, but graduated summa cum laude with an M.A. in philosophy.
I've had almost no cavities or broken bones, no diseases save chicken pox, and almost no allergies. I've had one hospitalization for a concussion. I have an arachnoid brain cyst, which the doctor says is of no concern and has probably been there since childhood. My grandparents all lived average lifespans or longer. There is obesity on my mother's side, but that's from bad habits. There has been no mental disease in my grandparents or nuclear family. My hearing is perfect, and my eyesight is 20/40 with one color band missing. I'm blood type O negative, the universal donor.
I've never struck another human in anger (except my bullying older sister when i was nine). I don't smoke or do recreational drugs, alcohol included. I'm a nurturer. I've never had a one-night stand, and have averaged one lover every three years. I'm tactile (massage training) and comfortable with my body (nudist). I'm a pacifist, vegan, non-materialist humanist. I have a non-addictive, non-obsessive personality. I'm almost sociopathically honest. Children and non-humyn animals like me. I've written two books, and many hundreds of poems and essays. I've acted in ninety plays, directed fifteen, written ten, and founded two theater companies. I'm an extrovert and a lone wolf. I excel in activities requiring patience. In a house of wimyn, i've been the clean one. I exhibit alpha characteristics, but am a listener and watcher who gives the spotlight to others. People confide in me. I empathize with most types, having been the baby child, the first son, and the middle child. I am at once profoundly responsible and uncommonly easygoing.

Females of exceptionality, please initiate your respective interview processes...