Ben Stiller Is My Avatar

Hi there. I think that last week’s post, Damages, was intended as the first part of a pen diptych. But now a week has passed, I’m not entirely sure what the second half was meant to look like. Maybe it will have come to me by next week.

It’s yer age, duck

[Sign up for the apoplectic Tiny Letter to get the perfect soundtrack for today’s post.]

But, as trailed, my Masters class’s reading night took place at the Bongo Club on Tuesday. And a good time was had by all, I think. Healthy turnout, and some of the kids who hadn’t had much experience of presenting their work in public had a chance to get up on stage and share with an appreciative crowd. I had a chance to further their education by slipping Birds Fate’s classic Kaleidoscope into the pre-gig playlist.

Towards the end of the night, I got up and related the story of my experience of meeting Susanne Whyte. It looked a little a lot like this:

That’s me in the spotlight…

The picture is by my pal, Olivia, who posted it on the Facey Book. The ensuing dialogue went something exactly like this:

Me:        Awesome work on the hair in this one. Yay!
Olivia:   I like how the light makes it look colourful….
Maybe something to consider for the next midlife

Me:       Well, I’ve done the bike and the tats….

What do you do when you’ve done the bike and the tats and the band? I went to Ben Stiller for advice…. I know that sounds like a bizarre choice, but Son of Jerry has acted as a sort of harbinger, an ice-breaker, for my life. (Writing this post, I’ve just read that he directed ur-GenX movie, Reality Bites.)

When I was first moving to Brooklyn, one of the apartments I looked at had recently been used for the exterior shots of his movie with Drew Barrymore, Duplex. Our House, as it was called in the UK, tells the story of a young professional couple who find the perfect brownstone in Brooklyn, with disastrous results.

Don’t do it, man – I had to stuff a towel in the gap in the window!

The director of his latest movie, Noah Baumbach, previously wrote and directed The Squid and the Whale, an “arthouse comedy-drama” about a couple divorcing in Park Slope. It’s good stuff. Captured the old ‘hood pretty well.

So, when Longsufferinggirlfriendoftheblogbeth and I found out that While We’re Young was previewing at the Cameo this weekend, we decided to pop along. It’s about a middle-aged couple in New York City who start hanging out with younger folks and experimenting with hipsterdom. I don’t know what was in it for young, fresh-faced L-SGFotBB, but I went to the movie in a PBR t-shirt gifted to me by a Brooklyn barman in a band. And a classmate recently told me

You know, you could be my dad, if you’d made some really bad decisions.

Well, to be fair, he’s turned out to be a lovely young man. Congratulations on your engagement, Big Yin.

No. More Scottish.

What was in it for Beth, it turns out, was a movie set among our old stomping grounds. Furthermore, while being kinda all over the place, hit a bunch of topics of interest to the Xer and his Gen Y L-SGF.

  • What is authenticity, and how is its nature changing?
    A: Not making a joke about claiming to be 42 when you’re acually 44, when you’re actually 49. Unless that’s a super-meta in-joke. Then, especially not.
  • Should we digitise all our music and dump the CDs, when you can’t get much decent artwork for an artifact that’s smaller than 12″x12″?
  • Would a doctor in a New York-set movie prescribe “Paracetamol” for arthritis? Surely Tylenol or Advil or something?
Take one CD-sized example of good packaging twice a day, and see me in a week

Funnily enough, it turns out that just this once I’m ahead of a Stiller character. It’s only towards the end of the movie that he realizes he needs to start noticing the good things staring him in the face in his everyday life, every day.


But Alex in Duplex did use his unfortunate experiences as inspiration for his next book, which became a best-seller. Keep on harbinging, Ben.

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4 thoughts on “Ben Stiller Is My Avatar

  1. Two things

    1: Your blog is full of something I can’t define, but I know when I see it; and
    2: When I read this at a cursory glance earlier in the day, I thought the quote from the classmate was “You know, You could be my dad if he’d made some really bad decisions”, which is a completely different meaning, and I wasn’t quite so sure why you were so nonchalant about something so mean.
    3: Which just goes to show, changing just one word can make a huge aardvark
    4: That’s three things, actually, I guess

    1. Ha! Tearing myself out of the wiki entry, I’m reminded that, while I liked wurdz and that, math(s – both of them) was my favourite subject in primary school. Then I drifted further into English and Economics in sixth year, then law. Partly because, regardless of the grades, you get a feeling for what you actually have some kind of talent for. I mean, I got a ‘1’ for Standard grade German, then dropped it immediately, because I knew I was terrible at it.

      And it’s axiomatic that lawyers – particularly finance lawyers – can’t cookie.

  2. I don’t do stages. But kudos to you. I guess I should force myself to one day. I know at least a couple Mothlike events have been held here though I haven’t been.

    Also, I didn’t know The Squid and the Whale was set in Park Slope. I have it but haven’t watched it yet. The most recent movie I watched was Perks of Being a Wallflower. I expected it to just be cheesy YA teen angst but ended up loving it. It totally reminded me what it was like to be young.

    1. I can see you on a stage. But it’s weird; once, I could have seen L-sGofBBeth on stage really easily, too. But she just doesn’t fancy it. I wonder if you two have a similar issue – being smart enough to know what makes something less than properly good, and being aware of how many people get up not because they’re properly good, but because they like the sounds of their own voices.

      Luckily, I’m not that smart, and I really like the sound of my own voice.

      But, yeah. Get along to some Moths. The Brooklyn ones kind of set off my bug properly. A good reminder of the requisite looseness that I’m still striving for.

      Oh, and the trailer for Perks looked good. Must add to the list. You got any access to Kimmy Schmidt? That’s been rather fun.

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