Tag Archives: money

Today, Blockbuster Video Teaches Us Why Life Sucks, and What We Can’t Do To Fix It

23 Apr

Totally unrelated. This picture just creeped me out and I had to let you all get creeped out with me.

There’s a classic Onion video on frumsatire today about Blockbuster video. In case you haven’t seen it, go do it, and then come back, because I’m about to kill a great joke:

Basically, the video, made a few years back when Blockbuster still had stores, pretends an actual Blockbuster store is a historical museum. An actor playing a ‘customer’ tells the listening tour group about how she had to drive 6 miles each way to pick up and return a video. Other people are interviewed expressing amazement at the trouble early video watchers had to go through in order to watch a movie. It’s hilarious and perfectly done, but it still makes me feel sad.

I remember when watching a movie was exciting. You had to go drive to the store and look around till you found one, and actually pay for it. And once you were there, you could pick up a giant box of candy or popcorn or something. Watching a movie was an experience. There was a whole adventure part to it that’s gone now.

And I know I’m sounding a bit stupid pining for the good old days here, not appreciating how technology has made our lives easier and so on. But I think this is a real point. What’s the whole point of watching a movie? To escape the monotony of our lives for a while and live a more exciting one for a little bit, right? And ostensibly, getting the movies faster would save time and money and let us enjoy these pleasurable moments more often too, right? Yet, it doesn’t seem to work out like that. Because actually getting the movie was usually more exciting than watching it. And looking back, I think it’s obvious why. You had to go out on a special mission to find something for you and your friends to enjoy. That was real. Even though the movie itself was fake. Even though the movie didn’t stay in your head till the next week or even day, the trip to get it did. Because it was a break from the ordinary. Because sometimes you met weird people along the way, or encountered small obstacles in your journey that you overcame, or find slightly cool, different types of candy than usual. All the time you spent was fulfilling. You were doing something that mattered. You were getting the best movie so you could have the best time with your friends.

I think that’s the way it is with all of life. And why all the conveniences we have available today aren’t making us (or me, at least) any happier. All the basic things that we used to have to do to survive are done for us. Yes, you can bake a cake, or build a birdhouse, or even shoot a deer for food. But it’s all pointless. Your real value in this world is being a cog in the machine to make something for someone else and get paid for your time wasted. Anyone else can do what you do. Millions of people are right outside the door waiting to take over as soon as you drop out. Unless you find a niche that nobody else is taking care of, you, as an individual, are worthless. You have no intrinsic value. You aren’t needed at all. 

And I think that’s uncomfortable, at a very basic level, for anyone to feel. It makes you uneasy, insecure, even scared. If you aren’t contributing anything to the pack, you can be easily replaced and be out on the street as soon as someone else decides so. You are powerless over your own future, over your own survival.

I think you can do a shit job and be happy if you’re supporting a family. Then people need you, you’re always welcome. But the insecurity of your job can probably kill you even more then. You’re investing your whole worth into this small group of people. If you can’t provide, you have no more value to them. This will always be true on some level. The only people who are free of this are naturally secure people. You’ve met a few in your time, I’m sure. These are people, who, for whatever reason, are confident in themselves. They don’t have to worry as long as they’re still around. It’s not a logical feeling. It’s emotional. Based on a good childhood and probably some good genes too. These people are really living life. Doing what they want to do on this planet.

Religion gets you out of all this. Gives you security, purpose, value, no matter what. But it’s the easy way out. And deep down, most people don’t rely on it. Oh, they tell themselves over and over and try to “work on their emunah”, to “bolster their faith”, but that’s because they don’t have any in the first place. When the chips are down, they’ve never seen God, never relied on it. Many people say they have, yet even though they have plenty of money, still slave away trying to make as much money as they can, to stock away in the bank. They are collecting a “nest egg”, a “parachute”, etc. That’s what people really believe in. That’s the security that lets them sleep at night. 

I know I have no way to prove this, but I’d bet the people who really believe, who really rely on faith, are a tiny percentage. A few guys in lakewood who are dirt poor and DONT survive on federal funds or parents or relatives. Some random other people sprinkled around whose life isn’t spent making money. They may or may not be living a fantasy, but those people are really living too. Meandering rant over.

How To Be Single And Happy

7 Jul

Sometimes I look at my married friends and start feeling bad that I’m single. Does that ever happen to you? Well, the best way I’ve found to get over that is to do what my mother told me a long time ago and count my blessings. Truthfully, that advice didn’t help me at all for a long, long time. Then I realized that what she  really meant was, “Find ways that you’re better than other people”. So without further ado, I present to you my list of things to feel better about:

-Disposable income. That’s right, you kid-laden fools. I have so much money, I need to dispose of some of it. Is that the Ipad 2? I think I’ll get it and dump this perfectly good ipad 1. Whoa, is that me out there? Cause it looks like I’m shmoozing out the window of my car while it’s still running. And what are all these extra 20’s doing clogging up my pocket? I think I’ll go burn them in front of the Yeshiva tuition board.

-Sleeping in. If I don’t feel like going to shul today, I won’t. Nobody’ll make me feel guilty, say mean things, or suddenly not be in mood (see also next).

-Porn. Yeah, you may be having sex with a real person you may or may not be in a loving relationship with, but I get to experience the great wide world of porn. Is plain old porn not exciting anymore? Let me try something with whips and leather. Ok, that was disturbing. What’s this Japanese cartoon thing that just popped up? Can that really go there?

The point I’m making is that you don’t have to judge yourself by other people’s benchmarks. You can make up your own, and judge other people by them.

Inspirational Thoughts

5 Jul

-When I went outside this morning to have a cigarette, I heard the birds chirping really loud and couldn’t help thinking, “What the fuck are you so excited about?”

-People who say that money can’t buy happiness usually don’t have a lot of either.

-WTF: Justin Bieber’s song ‘Baby’ has 550 million hits on youtube. That’s more than the total population of the US, Canada, and Mexico combined. That’s double the amount of hits the thigh massage video has.

-Seen on a bumper sticker: Whoever dies with the most stuff wins.

-They say the best things in life are free. That’s true. Who would have thought we’d see the day when music, movies, porn, and skype would be available to everyone at no charge?

So…what’s brightening your day?