Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Maxim Cover Girl: The Eliza Dushku Story

Barnes & Noble
New York, NY
March, 2009


When I walked into the Barnes & Noble, she was the last thought on my mind. I was only there to pick up a book. But as soon as I entered the store, she caught my eye. I hadn’t seen her in years, but she looked as incredible as she did eight years earlier. She stared at me with those dark, inviting eyes. She played with her long, black, silky hair and was on the verge of cracking a seductive smile. She wore only two pieces of clothing—a black lace bra and matching panties. She was fit. She was sexy. She was hot. It was Eliza Dushku, and she was on the cover of Maxim Magazine once again.







Beaver Country Day School
Chestnut Hill, MA
School Year, 1992-93


Eliza and I have a brief yet memorable history together. It all started back in 1992. For one year, we both attended the same private school called Beaver Country Day School. Yes, it was the real name. And yes, everyone makes fun of it. Beaver was a tiny school in Chestnut Hill, MA. It was grades 6-12 and contained approximately 300 total students. It was so small that everyone knew everything about everybody. And of course everyone knew Eliza Dushku.

She rarely attended school as she was shooting True Lies with Arnold Schwarzenegger during a good part of the year. When she did attend, she could be recognized by her signature Planet Hollywood jacket (a gift from Arnold.) I barely knew her, but wished I did. She seemed nice, was truly beautiful, and was a movie star! I loaned her a pencil once, but that was it. I never knew what to say. I was 15, awkward and shy. It just was never meant to be. Or was it?

Circuit City
Los Angeles, CA
April, 2001


The Circuit City cashier looked at me with a confused, glazed look. I explained the reason for returning my item, but he didn’t have a clue. Across the room, I heard another customer trying to do the same thing. She was as frustrated as me. Her raspy voice sounded familiar, but I was more focused on getting my money back. That’s when I noticed who it was: Eliza Dushku!

Maybe it was fate that brought us together. Or destiny. I don’t know. But I had to speak with her. At that point, she was best known for her role in Bring It On as well as playing Faith in Buffy the Vampire Slayer (a show I watched consistently.) I pre-meditated a plan in my head.
I didn’t want to recognize her as a celebrity and come across as one of those crazy fans [see my Larry David post: http://thecorner33.blogspot.com/2008/12/happy-holidays-from-matt-groening-and.html]

Instead, I played the Boston card; the Beaver Country Day card to be exact.

ME: You look really familiar, are you from the Boston area?

ELIZA: Yeah, I am.

ME: You look like a girl I went to high school with. Where’d you go?

ELIZA: Watertown High.

ME: Ah, my bad. I went to Beaver Country Day School.

ELIZA: I actually went there for one year.

ME: I thought I remembered you. You used to wear that Planet Hollywood jacket all the time, right?

She laughed, and the ice was broken. She totally didn’t remember me, but it didn’t matter. It turned out that she was pretty down to Earth. It also turned out that she lived with another girl from Beaver. (Coincidentally, I used to have a crush on that girl in high school too. I had a chance, but I completely blew it. I hoped the same thing wouldn’t happen with Eliza.)

Next thing you know, Eliza was writing down her phone number on my Circuit city receipt. She suggested that we hang out sometime and gave me a smile. I had trouble containing my excitement, but somehow remained cool. I beamed a never ending smile. Wow!

When I returned home, I couldn’t wait to tell my roommates what had happened. No one was home, but my mail was sitting on the coffee table. The new Maxim, the May issue, had just come out and guess who was on the cover—Eliza Dushku! I carefully took out her phone number, fearing it may disintegrate in my hands. I laid the precious paper on the magazine. I had just got the phone number of the Maxim cover girl.






The next two weeks were a blur. I wanted to call, but I was too nervous. There were three main reasons for my trepidation:

#1 She was a girl.
#2 She was hot.
#3 She was on the cover of Maxim!!!

I was 23 years-old, but it felt like I was in high school all over again. What was I going to do?

My friends demanded that I call her; I’d never get an opportunity like this again. I finally caved in and picked up the phone.

I called Eliza three times; each phone call was more awkward then the next. The first time I called, I was prepared to leave a message, but she actually picked up the phone. I went into shock. I finally spoke and my voice cracked worse than Peter Brady. She was cool, calm, and collective. I was nervous as hell. I finally mumbled something about meeting up, but she was out of town shooting a movie or something.

The next two phone calls were even worse. I remember calling on a Sunday not realizing it was Easter. She was in the middle of her holiday dinner, but still picked up my call. I froze again and the conversation was immediately uncomfortable. For the third call, I left one of those messages where I rambled on and wished I could take back. It was safe to say she would not be returning my call.

A few weeks passed, and I tried her once more, but an agitated Korean woman answered instead. Eliza had changed her phone number. My heart sank, and I realized the dream was over. I had blown it.

ESPY Awards After-Party
Los Angeles, CA
July, 2002


I actually ran into Eliza once more the next year. My friend Chris and I were trying to sneak into an ESPY after party. We stood out like sore thumbs inexplicably wearing Jeans and T-shirts to a black-tie affair. We star gazed for a moment until a group of meathead bouncers swarmed to us. While we were being escorted out, Eliza was on her way in. The bouncer nudged me out of the hotel, but I was able to approach Eliza for just a moment. She smiled bright, was really friendly, and even introduced her date to me. She definitely didn’t remember my name or who I was, but that may have been for the better. I wished her a good night and imagined what might’ve been.

March, 2009, Present Day

I never saw Eliza again. The last time she was on the cover of Maxim, I had her phone number. This time, all I have is a memory. I guess it was just not meant to be.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

GIRLFRIEND-ITIS

How Do You Know If You Have A Girlfriend?

For the answer, allow me to reference a Seinfeld episode entitled “The Virgin.”

Jerry: Well, how long you've been seeing her. What's your phone call frequency? Are you on a daily?

George: No. Semi-daily. Four or five times a week.

Jerry: What about Saturday nights? Do you have to ask her out, or is a date implied?

George: Implied.

Jerry: She got anything in your medicine cabinet?

George: There might be some moisturizer.

Jerry: Ah hah. Let me ask you this. Is there any Tampax in your house?

George: Yeah.

Jerry: Well, I'll tell you what you've got here.

George: What?

Jerry: You got yourself a girlfriend.

For the first time in a long while, I’ve got myself a girlfriend. I don’t believe there’s Tampax in my apartment, but there’s definitely moisturizer and contact solution. The phone call frequency is at 4-5 times a week. And one of the weekend nights is always an implied date.

It takes time to achieve the status of having a girlfriend. The first few months of the relationship are the best because of the honeymoon period. This is the time when everything is fun. The man sets up creative dates. He’s romantic. There’s chemistry in the air. There's no pressure. You can’t get enough of each other. Each party enjoys something new and exciting.

This period halts once the girlfriend title is established. It doesn’t happen abruptly but is more of a slow and subtle transition. But once the title is established, things start to change. The relationship may be successful, but new symptoms tend to arise for the man. These symptoms are a result of girlfriend-itis. All men are aware of girlfriend-itis yet they frequently still fall victim to it.

Symptoms of Girlfriend-itis

Symptom #1: The High-Pitched Voice

Even the toughest man succumbs to the high-pitched voice. It goes something like this. The man is drinking beer, watching sports, hanging with his boys, talking about strip clubs, when his phone rings. When he hears his GIRLFRIEND’S voice on the other line, something happens in his brain. His husky, masculine, deep man voice raises about 10 octaves. He usually cradles the cell to his ear and whispers a pet name into the phone. No matter how hard he tries, his voice continues to increase in frequency. And as a result, his friends make fun of him until they become guilty of doing the same thing.

I am very conscious of the high-pitched voice. I do my best not to use it, but no matter how hard I try, it still comes out on occasions.


Symptom #2: No Urge To Go Out

This is the most common symptom of girlfriend-itis. Men are programmed for only one thing: meeting women. Going out, spending money, getting drunk: this is all done to meet women. So once man has accomplished his mission, he doesn’t know what to do anymore. The game is over. He’d rather just stay in and do nothing.

I never go out anymore! Now that I have a girlfriend, what’s the point? I’d rather stay in, eat a good dinner, watch a movie, and get a good night’s sleep. I don’t feel like getting hammered and spending mass amounts of money. When I do go out, it’s confusing because I don’t know what to do. I can still talk to girls for fun, but I don’t know what my angle is. I can tell them I have a girlfriend so they shouldn’t feel threatened by me. But then again, they might think I’m sleazy for talking to them when I do have a girlfriend. Maybe I’m over thinking the whole thing. Either way, it’s just easier to stay in and be lazy.

Symptom #3: Out Of Shape

When man has a girlfriend, he is no longer motivated to take care of himself. He usually gains weight, wears schlumpy clothing, and shaves only when necessary. Man no longer has to impress women so he becomes fat and lazy.

I am very guilty of this. Although I still exercise a lot, I’ve somehow packed on the pounds. I could care less about my clothing, and I’ve experimented with facial hair. My poor girlfriend has endured my terrorist beard, uneven goatee, mutton chops, fu Manchu, soul patch, and my pitiful, short-lived, 70’s moustache.

Symptom #4: Stupid Fights

As the man and woman get closer, they begin to argue and bicker over inane, unimportant topics. After a period of time, it just becomes natural to argue over stupid things.

Last week, my girlfriend and I had a one hour debate on whether it was normal to warm up a muffin at home. The discussion should’ve ended with a laugh, but I was intent on proving that it was a normal thing to do. I went into Larry David/George Costanza obsessive mode. I googled “toasting muffins” and texted a bunch of friends. I just wanted to prove that I was right. When you order a muffin from a diner, how do you think it gets hot…by sitting on it?

Long story short, I found no evidence to help my argument. I acted like an idiot, and even worse, we wasted an hour arguing over something stupid.

Symptom #5: Little Things Start to Annoy You

When man really cares about a girl, she can do no wrong. But once she becomes his girlfriend, even the greatest girl will get on his nerves. It may be the way she orders food, a facial expression, how she loses the remote control, how she mispronounces a word, how she’s always just a little late, her belief that women comedians are funnier then men, etc. Whatever it may be, this tiny, little minuscule quirk will drive the man crazy. This symptom is also common with family-itis, close friend-itis, and roommate-itis.

My girlfriend came up with several quirks about me that annoyed her (a common symptom of boyfriend-itis.) After thinking long and hard, this is the annoying quirk that I came up with about her:

My girlfriend uses the term: “I’m not gonna lie” all of the time. For something good: “I’m not gonna lie…these brownies are delicious.” For something bad: “I’m not gonna lie…this movie is boring.” For something neutral: I’m not gonna lie…tomato is a fruit.”

I know you’re not gonna lie! You don’t have to preface each statement with it!

I used to get frustrated until I watched an amazing episode of How I Met Your Mother entitled “Spoiler Alert.” The last line sums everything up:

“When someone’s bad habits are pointed out to you, it’s hard to ignore them. But if you love them enough those bad habits are easy to forget.”

For a list of things that annoy me in general, check out: http://thecorner33.blogspot.com/2008/09/little-things-that-annoy-me.html

Symptom: #6: The Check-In Phone Call

Once man has a girlfriend, he must be in communication with her daily. This is often referred to as the check-in call. If nothing has happened since the last verbal exchange, the man has nothing to say, and doesn’t know what to do. The girlfriend tends to repeat the same questions: “How’s it going? How are you? Whatcha doing? How was your day?” The man uses expressions like “I’ll let you go” and “It’s getting late” to avoid talking about nothing. If the man suffers from girlfriend-itis, he will always make the call.

My girlfriend is pretty cool with this one. If we don’t talk on the phone, we usually send a few texts or emails. She, like me, prefers to converse in person, and is not a big phone talker.

Symptom #7: You Are Whipped

Once man has a girlfriend, he does not want to lose her. As a result, he will be at her beckon call. He will sacrifice all of his interests to make the girlfriend happy. For example, he may miss the big game so he can go apple picking. Or he may miss guy’s night out so he can go bowling with his girlfriend and her grandmother. The man’s friends will tease him until they are guilty of doing the same thing.

My girlfriend and I have an understanding. We can do whatever she wants as long as it doesn’t interfere with the Celtics, Patriots, or Red Sox. So that leaves a few days throughout the year. The reality is that I don’t mind being a little whipped because I just want my girlfriend to be happy. But really, I’m totally whipped.

The Cure

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, you may be suffering from girlfriend-itis. Doctors are in the midst of researching and developing a cure, but it won’t be on the market for some time. The good news is that girlfriend-itis is not life-threatening. I’ve had a case for months and I’m doing just fine. And I'm not gonna lie, it’s growing on me, and I kinda like it.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

He's Just Not That Into You


I have to admit that I’m a sucker for anything that discusses dating/relationship advice. It’s like when I’m waiting in line at the supermarket and I see that Cosmo on the shelf. There’s a hot girl on the cover and one of the headlines reads: “How to Please Your Man 100 Different Ways.” I’ve got to pick it up just to see if they know what they’re talking about.

That’s my excuse for seeing He’s Just Not That Into You.

I never read the book, but I’ve heard the ubiquitous title uttered many times. So I dropped a dozen bucks to see if these people knew what they were talking about.

What I Learned From the Movie

According to this cynical movie, women are annoying, obsessive-compulsive, and stupid. And men are idiotic, horny, and untrustworthy. There were a few exceptions (something the movie preaches), but most of the characters are portrayed as silly one dimensional clichés.

As a man, I didn’t really care if they made fun of our gender. Generally, when men act stupid on screen, it’s kinda funny. But I actually felt bad for women— you guys have flaws, but this movie makes you look like morons. From my experience, most women are beautiful, intelligent and charming. (Am I earning any brownie points?) Sure, there are some psychos. But I just wish the movie showed a mixture of psychos and normal girls.

The movie follows several characters whose lives intersect. There were a few IFBIT (“It’s funny because it’s true.”) moments, but a lot of them were forced. I understood many of the jokes, (like women obsessing if he’s gonna call) but they were dragged out and a little ridiculous. I was disappointed because the ideas were there, they just weren’t executed very well.

SIDENOTES

Jennifer Connelly did not look very good, but Jennifer Aniston looked awful; not even attractive. I feel evil for saying this, but If I was drunk at a bar, I don’t even know if I’d hit on her.

Scarlett Johansson is HOT. I’ve brought this up and many of my female friends have chastised me for this statement. They completely disagree. Are they jealous? Am I wrong? She’s got to be hot—why else would she play a sexpot/mistress/cheater in most of the movies she’s been in? (Match Point, Lost in Translation, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Home Alone 3, and finally He’s Just Not That Into You.)

Ginnifer Goodwin is like a new and improved version of Drew Barrymore.

Ben Aflleck played the only likable guy in the movie. Who knew?

In one scene, Justin Long is watching the Knicks game and yells at the TV (“Come on, Marbury!”) It always seems so forced when actors pretend to root for games on TV. Do we really look that stupid? Maybe we do.

My theatre was a mix of women, their boyfriends, and me. The women laughed the most. The men chuckled a few times. The most laughs came from a cherubic women two rows behind me. My point is that women will probably enjoy this movie more than men.

Conclusion

The best part of the movie was when the credits rolled. 1) Because it was over. 2) Because they had a mini-documentary where each character was interviewed. You learn more from the characters in that two minute span, then from the whole movie. Maybe this idea could’ve been added throughout the movie to make it more enjoyable and give it a little substance.

Overall, I just wasn’t that into it.

Dating Movies That I’m Into

If you wanna see some better dating/relationship advice movies from the past few decades, check some of these out.

The Tao of Steve (2000)

An underrated movie which follows an overweight womanizer. His game comes into question once he meets a girl he really cares about. Dex (Donald Logue) uses philosophy and Taoism in his quest to meet women. Some of his rules are: being desireless, being excellent in front of women, and then finally retreating from women so they want him.

Best Line: (Fat Dex is talking to his buddy Dave) “Look at me. Look at me, okay? Technically, I shouldn't be getting laid, but I do. And do you know why, Dave? Because when I'm hanging out with a woman, that's all I'm doing is hanging out, talking, listening. I'm not sitting there thinking about how to get in bed with her. And this completely confuses them because they're saying "Wait a minute. I'm so much better looking than this guy. Isn't he attracted to me?" The basic principle: We pursue that which retreats from us.”

Rodger Dodger (2002)

A scumbag player in NYC takes out his 16 year old nephew and teaches him how to pick up women. Although some parts are pretty dark, Roger gives some great monologues on meeting women.

Best Line: (Roger speaking to his nephew at a bar at 10 pm) “Who is the greatest basketball player in the history of the game? Michael Jordan. Why was he the greatest? Because he paced himself. Because he always had something left at the finish. Magic Johnson called it ''winning time.'' See those guys over there? Those guys think they're kicking ass. Believe me, it is early. We are a long way from winning time, so pay attention...champions refuse to lose. Be like Mike.”

Hitch (2005)

The love doctor is in. He helps ordinary Joes meet the girl of their dreams. He points out how difficult is it to approach women, and that they should give us a break. Thanks, Hitch.

Best Line: “Basic Principles - no matter what, no matter when, no matter who... any man has a chance to sweep any woman off her feet; he just needs the right broom.”

Swingers (1996)

A group of aspiring actors try to meet women in LA. This is like the bible of men’s movies on relationships and dating. It’s impossible to go to Vegas or the Dresden in LA without quoting this movie (“You are so money, and you don’t even know it.”) The movie discusses the rules of the game: how to meet women, why you shouldn’t be intimidated by them, how long you wait to call, how to get over your ex, etc.

There are too many quotes to choose from. I’ll with Vince Vaughn’s short speech to Mikey in the bar.

Best Line: “I don't want you to be the guy in the PG-13 movie everyone's *really* hoping makes it happen. I want you to be like the guy in the rated R movie, you know, the guy you're not sure whether or not you like yet. You're not sure where he's coming from. Okay? You're a bad man. You're a bad man, Mikey. You're a bad man, bad man.”

Annie Hall (1977)

This follows Alvy Singer (Woody Allen) and his on and off again relationship with Annie Hall (Diane Keaton.) This was one of the only comedies ever to win the Academy Award for best picture (It also won best director, best screenplay and Diane Keaton won for best actress.) It addresses the ups and downs of relationships and sex, and it’s one of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen.

Once again, there are so many quotes, but I’ll go with…

Best Line: “I thought of that old joke, y'know... this guy goes to a psychiatrist and says, "Doc, uh, my brother's crazy; he thinks he's a chicken." And the doctor says, "Well, why don't you turn him in?" The guy says, "I would, but I need the eggs." Well, I guess that's pretty much now how I feel about relationships; y'know, they're totally irrational, and crazy, and absurd, and... but, uh, I guess we keep goin' through it because most of us... need the eggs.”

When Harry Met Sally (1989)

This follows the on and off again friendship between Harry (Billy Crystal) and Sally (Meg Ryan.) Another great movie that discusses the rules of relationships. I really think it was inspired by Annie Hall (similar music, both men are neurotic and obsessed with death, the use of split screens, the interactions between the main characters.) WHMS discusses breaking up, the ticking clock, the fake orgasm, why men and women can’t be friends, etc.

Best Line: “Yes, that's right, they can't be friends. Unless both of them are involved with other people, then they can... This is an amendment to the earlier rule. If the two people are in relationships, the pressure of possible involvement is lifted... That doesn't work either, because what happens then is, the person you're involved with can't understand why you need to be friends with the person you're just friends with. Like it means something is missing from the relationship and why do you have to go outside to get it? And when you say "No, no, no it's not true, nothing is missing from the relationship," the person you're involved with then accuses you of being secretly attracted to the person you're just friends with, which you probably are. I mean, come on, who the hell are we kidding, let's face it. Which brings us back to the earlier rule before the amendment, which is men and women can't be friends.”

The Brothers McMullen (1995)

Three Irish Catholic brothers from Long Island struggle to deal with love, marriage, and infidelity. Part of me loves this movie because I’ve got two older brothers. The other part of me loves it because it talks about love, dating, and marriage with candor and originality.

Best Line: “Man is like a banana. Strong and firm, bright and phallic, and he's protected by his all-important shield. But, when a woman comes along, you know, she sees this bright phallic beast and she wants it. So, she starts peeling away your all-important shield. [peels the banana] First, she wants to see your romantic side, then she wants to see your passionate side, finally she wants to see your soft, caring, feminine side. She keeps peeling and peeling until your left there buck naked, totally exposed with your balls blowing in the wind. And that's when she gets her knife, and she cuts away your manhood piece by piece until she's having your cock in her corn flakes.”

About A Boy (2002)

Hugh Grant is a player that discovers recently divorced women tend to crave something casual (i.e. sex without commitment.) He pretends to be a single father, and joins SPAT (Sing Parents Alone Together) so he can meet more chicks. But ladies, don’t hate. Hugh ends up becoming buddies with an adolescent boy who teaches him how to treat women the right way. Hugh stops being a jerk, and realizes that women are awesome.

Best Line: “The thing is, a person's life is like a TV show. I was the star of The Will Show. And The Will Show wasn't an ensemble drama. Guests came and went, but I was the regular. It came down to me and me alone. If Marcus' mum couldn't manage her own show, if her ratings were falling, it was sad, but that was her problem. Ultimately, the whole single mum plotline was a bit complicated for me.”

The Bachelor’s Degree (?)

This movie is still in pre-pre-pre-production. I heard the guy who wrote it is enormously talented, but hasn’t caught his big break yet.

It’s about a dorky senior in college who seeks out the help of the stud freshman to learn to live his last 6 weeks of college the right way. The movie talks about relationships, how to pick up chicks in college, and of course true love.

Best Line: “I’ll tell you what you learned. You learned to take rejection. Once you’re immune to rejection, you’re invincible. Now you have the ability to go up to any girl you want. And you gotta remember it’s a numbers game. You hit 5 out of 20 foul shots, you’re Shaq. The media’s all over you. But in this world, anything over a 0 is a win.”

Love Actually (2003)

This movie will melt even the toughest guys around (i.e. my brother.) The movie follows
8 very different couples during Christmas time in the UK. The movie shows us that love is all around us and can appear in lots of different ways.

Best Line: “Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinions starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don't see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often, it's not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it's always there - fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know, none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge - they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I've got a sneaking suspicion... love actually is all around.”

So if you're having trouble meeting someone or your relationship is on the rocks, just remember: There's lots of great movies you can watch to pass the time.