September 15, 2006

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What's Wrong With My Brain? Six years ago, I came upon a report on CBS's newsmagazine 48 Hours that focused on actor Nick Nolte. This was pre-DUI arrest, pre-date rape lawsuit Nolte. At the time, I wasn't necessarily familiar with him outside of his work in films such as The Prince of Tides and Blue Chips, I was immediately drawn in. Nick Nolte, I realized, was a total crazy. In went the cassette tape. I pressed "record," which, upon doing so, has since provided me with a small piece of subversive media that will forever remain dear to my heart. The report focused exclusively on Nolte's determined attempt, at the time, to (wait for it) halt the aging process. Yes, Nolte (formerly declared by the reputable staff at People Magazine as The Sexiest Man Alive, a designation as important to our country as christening Regis Philbin with having The Most Brittle Pubes In Town) is set out, with tenacity and purpose, to live the life of a thirty-five year old man in the body of a sixty year old. The concept of the piece, alone, was enough to satisfy someone as snarky as myself (and my friends, to every one of whom I've shown this video since). But, like any good reporter, Peter Van Sant (and his brilliant editors) delved deeper into learning about how Nolte went about achieving a goal some might call "unreachable" or "illogical." Or "absolutely fucking nuts." Items of Note: “I defy those people that can eat six portions of vegetables a day and six portions of fruit,” says Nolte, who spends thousands of dollars a year in his quest to live forever. “I accept the dying process. I would just like to be as healthy as I possibly can at each step and phase along the way." And, oh yeah, he smokes. Whatevs! The story is reported from such an editorial distance that one must wonder how this isn’t an Ed Helms piece. It’s even a challenge to decide who’s being victimized: a seemingly helpless, naive, and trembling Nolte, or the witch doctor who is undoubtedly robbing him of house and home, but only while voluntarily wiping the drool from his patient’s mouth as he walks on a treadmill. Nolte’s first “test” takes place on the aforementioned treadmill, a scene that reporter Van Sant blindly refers to as “[something] out of Invasion of the Body Snatchers.” Yeah, I'm going to venture to say that the real thing might be a tad more disturbing. For a sixty year old man, it’s safe to say that, without his shirt on, Nolte looks...perfectly fine, if not in excellent shape for a man of his age. He, however, disagrees and half-jokingly claims he’s come to terms with his “decrepit existence.” Well, when you put it that way... Credit is due, though, toward Nolte. He's obviously very dedicated to living a healthy lifestyle, and clearly wants to prove to himself that he can maintain a young, virile body. But the best part - for me - comes during Nolte's face time with the automated computer test. The quick cuts to Nolte banging away at buttons are smiliar to watching a diapered monkey fingerpaint (cute, yet sad), but it's during the breath capacity test that Nolte really drives it home. One cannot help but feel for this man, as right before he passes out, he actually takes a moment to look up at the computer screen just to check on his progress, as if he's even near the state of mind to evaluate the scientific nonsense that surrounds him. Dr. Renna proves the idiocy of both himself and his patient by summing up all the procedures, pill-popping, and tests as “a beautiful thing.” According to him, Nick Nolte, at sixty, is functioning with the “brain composite” of a 45-year-old man. Apparently, Nolte is simultaneously functioning with the “brain composite” of a 13-year-old Japanese girl, as well: Although you might actually feel bad for Nolte, focus should be shifted toward the real victim here: Nick Nolte may appear to be a rubbery ex-addict on the verge of a nervous breakdown, but no dog should have to endure being that man's best friend. Especially in an Elizabethan fucking collar.
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'Vowel' Play [NOTE: THE VIDEOS BELOW WERE RECORDED AT A WEAK VOLUME, SO SENIORS READING THIS BLOG SHOULD TURN UP THEIR HEARING AIDS TO "11" IMMEDIATELY] [NOTE #2: SOME BLACK SPOTS ACCOMPANY THE BEGINNING OF THE YOU TUBE CLIPS. IGNORE THEM. BECAUSE I CAN'T BEAT THE INTERNET AT ANYTHING.] Being the overly ambitious child I was (read: kissass), and having spent weekends writing to any “celebrity” whose address I would rip from the pages of The Big Address Book, the gift that would keep on giving (to personal assistants of C-list celebrities), I was no stranger to writing letters. I constantly wrote friends and family, kept pen pals, and collected autographs via the aforementioned hobby that resulted in a bulletin board tacked with signed glossies from Luther Vandross (I was weird), Fred Savage (I was gay), and Brooke Shields (I was really weird and really gay). Having already received autographs from Vanna White and Pat Sajak, I decided to step it up and write a fan letter proclaiming my nightly allegiance to Wheel of Fortune. Several weeks following, the tolerant producers, upon receiving what was surely a ridiculously cute and mildly obnoxious letter, left a message on our answering machine, requesting that I attend an audition for the show at the Marriott Marquis in Manhattan. Delighted, my parents and I drove to the audition (for which I left school early to a classroom of applause) although why they let me out of the house in a full body heather grey sweat-suit that advertised the city of Santa Fe, continues to remain a baffling mystery. I did, in fact, make it onto the show, and months later flew with my family to Orlando, Florida to tape the show at Walt Disney World with my math teacher, Mr. Howe for "My Favorite Teacher Week": Sadly my wardrobe blurred the distinction between teacher and student. My first immediate fuck up was when I nervously referred to him as my “mass” teacher instead of “math.” Nice start. Whatevs. At least I didn’t look like Erin: The moment she opened her mouth, Erin managed to define for me the concept of what it meant to come from “rural Pennsylvania.” Yikes. Paula Poundstone would be proud. Anyway, things did not bode well. Besides not being able to spin the wheel myself (it was quite heavy for a little shrimp like myself), the main problem was Noah and his science teacher, Martin. Actually, the main problem was really just Noah. Noah, who will forever be etched into the collective memory of my family and friends as “That Douche,” somehow gained consistent control of the wheel. Plus, he may have also had luck on his side, as well as, my mom some might argue, the advantage of age, as he was three years older than myself and Erin. Many will claim there to be no skill necessary to successfully play Wheel of Fortune, but that’s a flat out lie. When there’s that much money on hand, you’d better know your English, and you’d best be prepared to gamble accordingly. Noah and Martin did just that, too. Somehow, they avoided every last one of the traps on the wheel, managing to score (and keep) $10,000 the moment that piece was added: At one point, Mr. Howe and I did gain control, and the situation seemed to be moving in a healthy direction with $2150, until Noah and Martin later used a free spin to take control of the game, solve the puzzle, and clean up shop. Erin and I both did a terrible job hiding our disappointment (I looked ready to cry, and she actually did). Even Peggy, Erin’s teacher on whom I’d developed a minor crush, had to let go of the smile, even if it was for just a moment. She’s faking it here. Of course, Noah and Martin went on to solve the final puzzle (which, for the record, was “AUTHOR”), thus securing them each total winnings of over $46,000. And a new car. For both of them. In 1995. When Noah was 14. There would be many, many days in the coming years when I would take pause each time my old Saab broke down or sat in the shop, just to think about what Noah was doing at that exact same moment. He was definitely still a douchebag, I’d decided, and that’s only on the small chance that he’d lived through the inevitable car accident that completely destroyed that terribly unsafe and ugly, doorless vehicle. Fuck you, Noah. I’ve got a blog. (Plus, I walked away with a year’s supply of prune juice and Centrum Silver. Huzzah!) It was a rough game, and a true blow to the ego of a pompous adolescent who, if anything, would make friends through appearing on a nationally syndicated version of Hangman (but with money at stake). In the end, however, the experience was a memorable one for many reasons. But, of everything I can remember from when I was on Wheel of Fortune, one moment vividly sticks out in my mind, one which also proves why Pat Sajak doesn’t entirely suck ass. Throughout the whole game, the avid "Wheelwatcher" (I think I just grew a pussy!) could easily pick up on Pat’s dislike of Noah. Noah was rude, curt, and obnoxious, and Pat made sure to point it out. Me, however, Pat liked, and in the final moment before I exited the stage for good, and just as the cameras were cutting to commercial, this happened: Barely audible over the applause of the audience, Pat Sajak walked by me, and, perhaps noticing the unmistakable defeat on my face, patted both hands on my shoulders and said, “Good job, Eliot.” He knew I tried. Pat Sajak knew I tried, and kindly acknowledged the fact, too. In the end, what is $45,000 when compared to the warm cupping of Pat Sajak's palm on my right shoulder? I was "cupped" by Pat fucking Sajak!

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