World Affairs

Can I get a pass on needing to care about all of the depressing stuff that's happening around the world right now? Sure, it might sound selfish, but I think I have my right to ignore all of that and just focus on my own life. Right?

Maybe I don't. I get the feeling there's some sort of obligation we all have to stay informed about the endangered animals and wars and everything. It's like we're required to be overrun by the world because even if things are going well for us, they might not be for someone else and who are we to ignore it.

I just want a few minutes where I can enjoy what I've been given.

It's not that I don't care about everything that's going on. Net neutrality and the thing at Penn State and the elections and the hundreds of thousands of other things are important. I'm not denying any of that. I just want to be okay for a while.

This is so selfish of me to ask. I'm not denying it. I'm well aware of my own sickness in asking for this. I just think we're all allowed to be selfish time and again. When we need it. When it helps keep us sane and functioning and well.

Of course, I know I won't be able to avoid the news. I have Facebook. I have Twitter. I have an iPhone and a computer and a radio and a TV. One way or another, all the information is getting to me. I set up my life that way.

That's okay though. I shouldn't be kept from it. I should find a way that the needs and hurts of others can operate within my life without destroying it completely.

For now, I just don't know what that way is. I'm too young to come out from under this rock just yet.

The RomCom Is (Un)Dead

Twilight has killed romantic comedies. Wait, don't go yet.

Twilight has killed the fantasy genre too.

There, I think we've covered it now. Let me explain though. I'm not going to just say it and leave you wondering why (though really, are any of you wondering?). No, I'm going to walk you through it.

You see, as genres are pushed forward (and believe me, I use the word forward with as much levity as I'm allowed), going back no longer becomes an option. When you have a "love" story with "vampires" and "werewolves," one with neither will seem needlessly plain. Simple. Boring.

It's why Breaking Dawn ads (and just about nothing else) are on every commercial break. Studios know what's selling so they sell it.

There's a story about that Reese Witherspoon movie from a year or so ago. I think it was called "How Do You Know?" I couldn't honestly tell you because I don't really remember it. I never saw it. Hardly anyone did. That's actually the story.

They spent $120 million on that movie. A romantic comedy. Looking at the numbers, it made about $48 million of that back in the theaters. That's not even half. The question isn't, of course, why it took the operating budget of a small country to produce a movie about characters falling in love. It's more about why close to no one went to see a movie starring Owen Wilson, Reese Witherspoon, Paul Rudd and Jack Nicholson.

Those aren't little known actors.

And sure, we can't blame all of that on Twilight. It was likely just not a very good movie. Crazy, Stupid, Love was a movie in a similar vein (though remarkably better, judging by the reviews for the former). It managed to make $83 million or so at the box office. Not bad really, until you notice that the first Twilight movie almost made that on its opening weekend.

The problem is that good writers and good directors don't want to risk it anymore on romantic comedies. Not unless they're in the Judd Apatow rated-R style.

Once again, it's probably not all Twilight's fault. But if we're pointing the finger at who's to blame for telling us that a good old fashioned love story just doesn't cut it anymore, I think that'd be a pretty good place to start.

Advice To Young People

Now that I'm up there in age, I feel it's appropriate for me to start bestowing some kind of wisdom on the younger ones walking this world. There's a lot of you younger, probably shorter, people running around and I know you're basically bumping into walls not knowing quite where to go, so let me provide a few pointers. Feel free to follow along if you're older than me. If it doesn't teach you anything, you can always laugh at me for taking longer than you figuring this stuff out. Laughing at younger people is one of the perks of getting old, isn't it?

1. Don't Wait. Now. With very few exceptions, you should not be waiting for anything. You should be moving towards, trying out, looking into, exploring, touching, considering, wondering about, discovering, enjoying, hating and realizing new things. You'll always find reasons to wait. The reasons to go now are so much fewer and can be summed up thusly - because you should.

That's all you really need. Trust me.

2. Wait Even When It Hurts The necessary corollary of above, some things are simply worth the wait. Hold on until your fingers bleed and your grip starts to loosen, then hold tighter. No one regrets the moments they persevere. It's the ones they give up that they have to drown in cheap booze. It's never too early to start planning to be a jovial geriatric.

Love. Above all, hold onto love.

3. Find What You Enjoy It's impossible to be unhappy in just one area of your life. It's an acid. It will eat through that container and spill out everywhere, pouring into the areas you thought you could keep safe. Because of this, it's important to quickly eliminate the things that destroy us.

Bad jobs. Bad relationships. Bad anything. If you don't need it, get rid of it. It'll do so much less damage in the long run. You only have so much time. Spend it where it deserves to be spent.

4. Do What's Necessary. Just because something's hard doesn't mean you can run the other way screaming. There are necessary evils like electricity bills and hard conversations. Deal with it. If you're old enough to read this, you're old enough to handle them.

That thing telling you you're not yet? It's wrong. It's always wrong. Anything discouraging your growth is.

Wedding Bells Chime

There's a good chance you'll be reading this on the day my only brother gets married. What a weird time for me. I feel like I should be more grown up than I am, being the best man in the wedding and all. I don't know. Maybe you just never feel old enough for how old you are. That might not make sense. I'm writing this at 2:00am, after all.

I just always thought I'd eventually hit a point where I finally realized I was all grown up. I'd be a man. Ready to face the world. I haven't hit that yet. If that point even exists. I don't know that it does anymore. Maybe being a man and facing the world is all about being a man and face the world, even if you don't feel like it.

I hope that's what it is. I really want to be grown up.

But I don't think I am compared to my brother. All at once tomorrow, he'll become a husband and a father. And I'm supposed to be the one toasting him for making it that far? How can I when I don't even know what that far looks like yet?

All I know is what I see in front of me so many times. What skeptics like myself usually try to deny but just can't seem to - when you find love, when it's right there, you take hold of it and never let it go.

That's what I think being a man is all about. So here's to my brother, one of the many lately who have shown me just what that means.

Steve Jobs

I doubt I'll be the first one to tell you this, but Steve Jobs has died. Maybe you don't care because you didn't really know him. Maybe his death doesn't affect you. I don't know how you feel. But I did know him. And his death does affect me.

Before you jump ahead of me, I feel I should say that I never met the man. Never even dreamed of it, really. In fact, I didn't even really think about him much until the other day. I always sort of admired him, but I just had no reason to dwell on him. He just made the computers and phones and mp3 players I liked to use. There was nothing more to it than that.

At least I thought there wasn't.

It's a lot like when Heath Ledger died. I knew it was tragic and I knew it was awful, but I just didn't see how it had any direct effect on me. Then I saw The Dark Knight. That's when I realized the world had lost an artist who still had a lot more to give.

It's the same way with Mr. Jobs. It wasn't enough for him that he made Apple into the most successful business in the world. It wasn't enough that he revolutionized the phone market, the laptop market, and the tablet market. He had to keep working. Keep improving things. Keep creating.

The world has lost another artist.

I hear stories about how controlling he could be and they make me cringe a little bit. That isn't a pretty word. It usually makes the one labeled with it sound mean and selfish. Our heroes aren't generally painted that way. They're usually selfless and sacrificing and all about everyone else.

But can an artist be? Should an artist be willing to compromise his work to spare someone else's feelings or thoughts? Or should an artist believe in what he's doing and defend it against any outside forces? I know I'd go to the mattresses with anyone who tries to make me bend or break my work for their purposes. Maybe controlling isn't so bad all the time.

And as I thought all of that through and sat in my bed and honestly cried a little, I realized why we need the Steve Jobs of the world. We need them like we need the space program. Why? Because these are the people willing to look for "what's next" when no one else is.

"We went to the moon. Do we really have to go to Mars?" "Yes." "Why?" "Because it's next. Because we came out of the cave, and we looked over the hill, and we saw fire. And we crossed the ocean, and we pioneered the west, and we took to the sky. The history of man is hung on a timeline of exploration and this is what's next." -The West Wing

Steve, thank you for reminding us to look for what's next. I don't think it's a coincidence that you named your early company NeXT. You were always looking for it. Hopefully we'll be able to find a little bit of it on our own without you.