Saturday, December 31, 2011

Autostereogram Fun! (II)

The purpose of this entry is twofold: first, I wanted to log an even 20 posts for 2011 before the new year (a pathetic goal, I realize. Here's to working on spending even more time not pursing a job in favor of writing about myself in 2012). Second, I recently accessed Google's statistics for my blog and figured out the only post regularly bringing a LOT of people in is a random image of an autostereogram I put up about a year ago. Apparently if you Image Search autostereograms you get my blog near the top of the list. Go figure.

So, in a shameless attempt to up my numbers all across the board, here for your viewing pleasure are some more fantastic autostereograms! Happy 2012, yo.


Cool vortex!

Penguins on ice!

Maybe just for good measure, and perhaps to fuck a little with Google's SEO, I'll type autostereogram one more time: autostereogram. Only on Minor Fiascos.

Thursday, December 29, 2011


I've shied from appreciating film and television as serious art forms lately in favor of using both mediums as a means of straight-up escapism. Life, man... sometimes you get enough of an emotional roller coaster as is. At any rate, last night I felt up to the challenge of sitting down and digesting a movie that had potential to be quite heavy, and I'm so glad I took the risk. I've waited for the 2011 British indie flick Weekend's DVD release for several months now, seeing as I missed it in theaters due to my dating a guy who simply had no interest in artsy excess. Lo and behold, Weekend is actually now available on Netflix instant and has no set date for a home release, so I'm glad I caught it while I can.

I should say now I'm a sap for most movies featuring gay protagonists (always more than one lead character in gay films). Brokeback, Milk, My Own Private Idaho, Mysterious Skin... each hooked me in a way most films don't, probably for so shallow a reason as that I'm actually able to identify with the relationships unfolding onscreen, whereas with most mainstream movies I'm really not all that able to connect emotionally to a straight man staring wistfully at an equally straight woman. I know what I'm supposed to feel is between them, but it doesn't bowl me over head-on, plus 99.98% of the time it's going to work out in the end for the happy straight couple, so yay. Mystery solved.

Weekend was written/directed by the up-and-coming Andrew Haigh and stars Tom Cullen and Chris New as the most appealing two guys I've had the pleasure of getting to stare at for 97 straight (ha!) minutes. I have a lot I want to say about this one, but I think what I'd like to focus on in particular are two of the quieter moments I noticed that will likely resonate more deeply with gay audiences than straight ones. The first is situated very early on: Russell - a quiet, amicable, and emotionally lost twenty-something - leaves early from his best friend's dinner party with the excuse that he's tired. The next several shots establish his solitary journey home, and it was during this sequence that I knew how honest the film was going to play out. Because Russell doesn't end up at home, but instead soon sits alone at a gay bar, drinking and staring and eventually trying to check someone out in a bathroom.

What's so telling is that he actually *chooses* this isolation over the fine time he was having at the dinner party. His motives are the same as mine whenever I make an excuse, leave early to go home, and end up somewhere completely off the radar: I'm used to operating this way, and I do it every time with the hope that something more might come from abandoning my straight friends in the straight world and running off into the night. He's lonely, repressed, and wants connection... even if it is just drinking and staring. This same sequence is likely viewed by a heterosexual audience (and I can make an educated guess at this because I actually did watch the movie with two straight girls) as: guy leaves dinner party, guy changes mind about going home, guy ends up at gay bar. What's lost in translation is the knowledge that this action wasn't an impulsive decision on Russell's part, but a routine aspect of his life that takes place beyond a veil of white lies serving to keep his straight persona separate from his (potentially viewed as) seedier nighttime tendencies. And that very distancing is what fuels the loneliness, the repression, and the shame. Russell's not closeted, he just believes that in order to remain an upstanding member of Britain's contemporary heterosexual culture, he needs to fit in with the straights.

The second small moment takes place much later, and again focuses on Russell. He's sitting at his goddaughter's birthday party, surrounded by good friends and happy children, and his face is completely detached from the situation. He's there, but he's not. It's not as though he's not paying attention - he smiles and actively participates - but his eyes continue to stare, vacant, and the camera lingers at such a distance that the audience can actually feel the level of detachment Russell is experiencing. A straight viewer might interpret his stoicism as a pronounced anxiety over the departure of the man he's spent this titular weekend with , and to an extent they're right. What's more, though, is that Russell's opened himself up enough to his emotions to realize that the world he's currently sitting in (read: one populated by straight adults with their own children having a ritualistic birthday party) is one he'll never, ever get to legitimately be a part of. His gaze is vacant because mentally he *cannot* truly connect to the situation around him. There's just no common undercurrent of understanding: these people will *never* know what it is to feign tiredness as an excuse to slip off to a bar populated by their own kind in an attempt to feel a true social connection, just as he will *never* know what it feels like to birth a child into a heterosexual culture and participate in all events and rites of passage therein. He is destined to be an outsider in this world, unable to connect because he simply does not have the common wiring necessary. Russell's two days with Glen have enlightened him to the extent that his routine unease in birthday party-type situations is finally making sense. And let me tell you, that's a crushing realization to reach.

Otherwise, the cinematography is naturalistic to the extreme, the dialogue is real without ever once teetering into a severely boring moment, and the audience is treated to some fantastic nudity. What's more, if Weekend's objective was to tell a story as truthfully as possible in an effort to foster a connection between itself and an isolated viewership, it succeeded admirably. I felt good after the film was over, mostly because I knew other guys were going to watch it and connect, and that very connection proves none of us is so alone in our thoughts as we might think. Russell and Glen part ways with a sense that life is for the living, and you've got to embrace who you are before you can take an honest shot at making the most of it. I'll definitely be re-watching this one... a good three or four times.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Letter

I made it back to good ol' Bend, Oregon today (That's right... again. I'm almost up to a free trip on my punchcard.), and one of the first things my mom had to say was that *everyone* was angry with us about my not sending a letter along with our Christmas cards this year. She let me know that some people - whose names she wouldn't reveal because she didn't want me talking with them - have gone so far every year as to save each one "in those little plastic page protector things, which they put in a binder, which they keep in a special drawer so the collection isn't lost." Then she told me I'm a star and one day I'll be a success, and that I just have to keep trying and it's not easy for anyone, except for all the kids with jobs whose parents she's talked to. The ensuing shoulder-squeeze-from-the-back-seat maneuver she pulled left me squirming awkwardly out of her grasp, at which point the proclamations ended and she started letting me know I needed a serious attitude adjustment towards those who actually loved me in life.

The point is, I'd actually completely forgotten about writing a letter this year. It hadn't crossed my mind a single time. I started soul searching for possible explanations as to the how/why of it, and all I came up with is that I really have no fucking idea what mom, dad, and brother bear were doing all year, while I myself was mostly a worthless heap of angsty nonsense. All in all, it doesn't add up to much more than some pesudo-whiny monologue where I actually have to talk about three other people in addition to just myself. In short: it would've been just like this blog, but less narcissistic.

I contemplated writing a letter for this post, so that the eight of you who actually claim to read Minor Fiascos would be the only eight souls in the world who knew that I actually *did* produce a letter this year, but letters are like super hard to write, and again with the whole me not knowing what anyone else did all year thing.

So just take my word for it: 2011 was a half-n-half year: a good chunk of it delighted, and an equally good chunk crushed my will to live. I used to be that eighth grader who hung out on the playground's fringes, eating Corn Nuts and listening to Blink-182 scream about how nobody likes you when you're 23. "It's so true," I thought. "Nobody does like you when you're 23."

And then 23 actually came. And went. And now I'm 24, and I finally understand what Mark and Tom were singing about. I understand that from a third-party perspective I may appear to have a lot going for me. Internally speaking, though, my accomplishments mostly serve as cruel reminders of the person I *could* be if someone would ever willingly hand a job opportunity my way. But I digress. The points of this post: no Christmas letter, but it's cool because if you're reading this it means you read my blog and so enough said, and also 23 is a super harsh year in terms of adult realities and adolescent idealism just completely fucking crashing up against one another.

Here's hoping the one that gets me a job wins out.

Monday, December 19, 2011


The other night I found myself ordering a Super Taco at El Rancho Grande, the local mexican food joint that's open well past midnight and features a kickass salsa bar. The Super Taco was fantastic, but is not the subject of this post.

On my way out the door, I took a moment to examine the flyers and neighborhood postings taped to the wall. My time with Nonchalance taught me to demonstrate extreme curiosity regarding walls covered in flyers, as they're a super obvious opportunity for an intriguing mystery to begin taking shape. How else these days could anyone looking to screw with people address an audience with complete anonymity? It can't be done any other way, I tell you.

At any rate, I quickly spied a nondescript sheet of paper taped near the bottom of the collage of colorful ads for guitar lessons, used furniture, and Spanish tutors. This piece of paper was plain white, and featured a totally normal typeface that read: "Help Pan with the MAZE. Helen wandered into the MAZE weeks ago. She hasn't been seen since. This MAZE needs our attention. For more information, please contact Pan." The bottom third of the flyer was devoted to tear-off tabs that all sported the slogan "Help find Helen" alongside a web address.

I was floored. Clearly this was the start of some brand-new mystery. Who was Helen? Why was MAZE capitalized every time? What did any of this mean? I grabbed a tab and started walking home, super anxious to look up the website and fall into another grand adventure.

Fuck, I love adventures.

But it turns out I was kind of drunk (hence the Super Taco at 1 am in the first place), and in the course of gesturing wildly to my fellow drunkards on the walk home, the slip of paper with the address escaped my jacket pocket. I realized what had happened after it was too late, and no amount of googling the relevant keywords revealed anything useful. I went to bed a sad man, and awoke having completely forgotten the incident.

On my walk to the coffee shop that next morning, I found myself practicing a routine eyes-to-the-ground maneuver in an effort to avoid contact with a crazy guy yelling at a bus on the street corner, and at the exact moment of looking down I stepped over the scrap I'd dropped the night before! Normally I don't pick anything up off the ground in this city, but such is my ravenous hunger for intrigue that I lunged for it. Triumphant, I marched to Cafe Abir ready to be blown away by whatever lay in wait.

As it turns out, "Pan" referred to the small Pan Theater in the East Bay, the MAZE is the humorous nickname its volunteer workers have given the series of hallways you have to navigate to reach the stage, and Helen is a poor elderly soul who got lost in the hallways on her way to view a performance this past holiday season. The whole effort that necessitated the flyer in the first place is an ongoing grassroots attempt to raise money to demolish the hallways and erect a new theater entrance that minimizes patron hassle/confusion, and that's the extent of it.

I was mildly crushed. I mean, I wanted to trip into a hallucinatory world of sleuthing, and instead got to feel bad for this crone Helen. On the other hand, I had to applaud the Pan Theater people for creating a flyer so nondescript and intriguing that I actually took the time to look something up that ordinarily wouldn't have piqued my interest in the slightest.

This is the future of advertising: subtle trickery. I can't wait until the day that mysterious opportunities left and right end up leading participants to the new flavor of Doritos in the chip aisle at Safeway, or a website for the redesigned 2013 Nissan Xterra. Let's hear it for creative duping!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

They Pegged Me...

My result for The LONG Scientific Personality Test ...

INTJ -The Mastermind

You scored 45% I to E, 32% N to S, 52% F to T, and 16% J to P!

You are more introverted than extroverted. You are more intuitive than observant, you are more thinking based than feeling based, and you prefer to have a plan rather than leaving things to chance. Your type is best described by the word "mastermind", which belongs to the larger group called rationals. Only 1% of the population shares your type. You are very strong willed and self-confident. You can hardly rest until you have things settled. You will only adopt ideas and rules if they make sense. You are a great brainstormer and often come up with creative solutions to difficult problems. You are open to new concepts, and often actively seek them out.

As a romantic partner, you can be both fascinating yet demanding. You are not apt to express your emotions, leaving your partner wondering where they are with you. You strongly dislike repeating yourself or listening to the disorganized process of sorting through emotional conflicts. You see your own commitments as self-evident and don't see why you need to repeat something already expressed. You have the most difficulty in admitting your vulnerabilities. You feel the most appreciated when your partner admires the quality of your innovations and when they listen respectfully to your ideas and advice. You need plenty of quiet to explore your interests to the depth that gives you satisfaction.

Your group summary: rationals (NT)

Your type summary: INTJ

FURTHERMORE (from Wikipedia)...

Hallmarks of the INTJ include independence of thought and a desire for efficiency. They work best when given autonomy and creative freedom. They harbor an innate desire to express themselves by conceptualizing their own intellectual designs. They have a talent for analyzing and formulating complex theories. INTJs are generally well-suited for occupations within academia, research, consulting, management, science, engineering, and law. They are often acutely aware of their own knowledge and abilities—as well as their limitations and what they don't know (a quality that tends to distinguish them from INTPs). INTJs thus develop a strong confidence in their ability and talents, making them natural leaders.

In forming relationships, INTJs tend to seek out others with similar character traits and ideologies. Agreement on theoretical concepts is an important aspect of their relationships. By nature INTJs can be demanding in their expectations, and approach relationships in a rational manner. As a result, INTJs may not always respond to a spontaneous infatuation but wait for a mate who better fits their set criteria. They tend to be stable, reliable, and dedicated. Harmony in relationships and home life tends to be extremely important to them. They generally withhold strong emotion and do not like to waste time with what they consider irrational social rituals. This may cause non-INTJs to perceive them as distant and reserved; nevertheless, INTJs are usually very loyal partners who are prepared to commit substantial energy and time into a relationship to make it work.

As mates, INTJs want harmony and order in the home and in relationships. The most independent of all types, INTJs trust their intuition when choosing friends and mates—even in spite of contradictory evidence or pressure from others. The emotions of an INTJ are hard to read, and neither male nor female INTJs are apt to express emotional reactions. At times, INTJs seem cold, reserved, and unresponsive, while in fact they are almost hypersensitive to signals of rejection from those they care for. In social situations, INTJs may also be unresponsive and may neglect small rituals designed to put others at ease. For example, INTJs may communicate that idle dialogue such as small talk is a waste of time. This may create the impression that the INTJ is in a hurry—an impression that is not always intended. In their interpersonal relationships, INTJs are usually better in a working situation than in a recreational situation.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Third Space

definition: Any place in the world that is neither your home nor your work. The Third Space is also mostly open to the public, and is generally hurried through by robot citizens so as to avoid close inspection of its intriguing alleyways and trap doors.

When it gee-wowed me: Again, during my stint as a copywriter for Nonchalance. Those people are obsessed with the Third Space, and I have to say I'm now pretty into it as well. Case in point: during Phase One of the Games of Nonchalance, a player finds himself sitting in the reception area of a 16th-floor office space in downtown San Francisco. Suits hurry by. Important-looking people whisper together urgently on their way to the elevator. All the furniture is dreadfully void of character. The player feels like he doesn't belong here. "Is this right?" he thinks. "Don't I need some kind of clearance to be sitting in this reception area of the 16th floor of this random downtown building? Am I going to be arrested?"

Well, no. Turns out a huge portion of the world is open to everyone, all the time, always. Aside from the obvious sidewalks, parks, freeways, alleyways, and public restrooms, you've also got entire skyscrapers, hidden parklets, back stairwells, parking garages, cemeteries, churches, and office building hallways that are all designed to give off the impression of exclusivity, when in fact they're anything but. The best part is that no one can really do a goddamned thing about you being in any of these places.

That security guard at the front door? Yeah, he's totally useless. Go ahead, ignore him.

Anyway, Nonchalance's games and projects are all intended to make players more aware of this great big beautiful public space around them, to have them step out of their regularly scheduled walk to work - even if only five feet in the wrong direction - and examine that one alleyway with that one giant cat spray painted onto that one lonely wall. If you've never noticed it's there before, it's because you're not letting the world thoroughly batter your senses with stimuli. You've let the man tell you that your place is this one stretch of line between Point A and Point B, and god help you if you ever try and shake it up. I mean, holy hell, you'll probably end up murdered or raped if you step out of line. Or worse.

And who knows what you'll find if you follow the alleyway to the lonely cat. Mystery and intrigue lurk behind every corner.

Conclusion: Nonchalance also champions Pervasive Play - a term coined for taking this newly reclaimed Third Space and turning it into one giant adult playground. After all, what happened to the world between ages 9 and 30 that made it so uninteresting? More appropriately: what happened to you? The next wave of totally immersive entertainment would be foolish not to maximize Third Space use. It's free. It's near-limitless in size. And it has so much hidden potential just waiting to be discovered.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Joan > Conan

I've watched two documentaries on comedians lately: Conan O'Brien Can't Stop, and Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work. Both are strikingly similar in that they follow two stand-up personalities as they attempt to claw their way back into stardom - and, accordingly, cultural relevance. Throughout the course of both films, Joan and Conan also reveal wildly unexpected offstage personalities, touching/strained dependencies on assistants-turned-family, and dogged work ethics that quite literally left me feeling exhausted on my couch just from watching.

The reason I'm writing is that I've always been a huge Conan fan, and I've always thought of Joan as that semi-funny bitch on the red carpet with all the plastic surgery. And that's pretty much where my opinion of her ended. If I wanted snark, I had Kathy Griffin.

Fast-forward to the present. I still think Conan's great: stellar onstage presence, deliriously absurd (yet intelligent) bits, and a willingness to make a complete ass of himself - and half of rural America - through preposterous prerecorded segments. I won tickets to see him live during my summer in LA, and he was just as charismatic in person. The problem with his documentary, though, is that it bares completely the unpleasant, real version of Conan. He's a dick to his staff, he makes an uncomfortable level of fun of Jack McBrayer during a backstage visit (seriously... I was fidgeting and almost unable to look at Jack's upset face), and he goes on and on about how much he hates personal encounters with fans, despite needing their adoring presence to survive as a performer. Its a hypocritical, stodgy, honest portrayal of a guy who I wanted no choice but to love, and now that I have a choice, I'm not sure I'm so into it anymore.

Joan, on the other hand, came out of nowhere like some whirling dervish - all fists and elbows and attitude. As I said earlier, the annual Academy Awards had turned her, in my mind, into some red-carpet bitch. A well-edited trailer for her documentary was really the only thing that drew me in. Well, that and boredom.

Turns out, the lady's fucking hilarious. And I say "fucking" here because she's also the most profane 75-year-old woman I've encountered. Watch as Joan spends a year jetting from one run-down venue to another, desperate to entertain and willing to do literally *anything* to keep people laughing. The difference in personality between her and Conan is astounding: while both are on their "last leg," Joan's approach is to appreciate everything. No fan is too unimportant, no venue too tiny. She gets by on just a few hours of sleep a night between cross-country flights to increasingly desolate middles of nowhere, and the downtime she does have is spent awash in self-doubt, an agonized appreciation of the little she's perceived herself of achieving, and a desire to ensure everyone everywhere knows how much she appreciates their presence. It's a polar opposite approach to the entertainment business, and while a lot of it may have to do with Ms. Rivers' reluctance to fade into the obscurity of old age, she remains charming.

Maybe I'm just getting gayer, but I think I'm more into Joan. Her rich history in show business, her wall of joke files (seriously astounding), and the fact that within 15 minutes her personality had triumphed over the strange wreck that is her face all have me rooting for her continued floundering, if not downright success. Conan, however, can suck it. I've seen what he thinks of fans like me.