A think piece: installment II

By Will Connors

As I watched the Oscars two weeks ago, I realized a few things.

One: I am one fortunate little bastard. Seriously, though, I am way too lucky in life. I just spent an incredible vacation skiing in the Canadian Rockies with good friends and good beer, a Polish cook, a Jacuzzi, and plush 70s shag carpeting. I am attending one of the best academic institutions in the country (come on now, we should be higher than Dartmouth on that U.S. News list) and getting by without doing too much work. I have supportive parents and three older siblings to watch over me (or beat on me when the time is right). I don’t have a girlfriend, but that’s okay, I’ve still got the Internet. How did I realize all this while I was watching the Oscars, you ask? Don’t worry about it—I think I have A.D.D. Honestly, I really think I could benefit from Ritalin, since, for whatever reason, it took a schmaltzy event like the Oscars to help me realize how spoiled I have become. Sad, isn’t it?

Two: People at this school are truly insane. Again, not related to the Oscars. At this school, when it comes to dating, we say “The Odds are Good but the Goods are Odd.” Well, I have a new surefire way to increase conversation fodder and decrease the confusion that inevitably comes when talking to an even mildly attractive girl here at Chicago. There are two versions. One: “Hey, you’re attractive. What’s wrong with you?” and Two: “You’re kind of cute, what’s your problem?” It’ll work, trust me, and I guess it can be applied to guys too. But this school, it really messes with a man’s head, and I’ve developed a name for this dating psychosis: the U of C Syndrome. I’m having my Med School-bound buddy Tom look into it for us in the hopes that one day it might be treatable. Sad, isn’t it?

Three: Muhammad Ali is cooler than Rocky. Morgan Freeman is cooler than Gene Hackman. Stevie Wonder is cooler than Steve Earle–and pretty much everybody else. Dr. J is cooler than Bob Cousy. Marvin Gaye was cooler than any other crooner. Ever. Barry Bonds is cooler than Jason Giambi. The list goes on and on. I saw this music video recently by this guy named Remy Shand. It was a cheesy R&B song (my favorite genre, remember) with a passable beat and I was kind of digging it. Then I saw a shot of him on stage, vibing like Mark Madsen during the Lakers championship celebration, and I knew it was over. Yep, he was white. Not only that, but I had to find out later that he was signed by Motown. Motown, people. Plus he’s Canadian! Come on, now. Does this guy really think he’s going to make it? I’m still wondering how he got that video gig. These are the kind of things I think about. Sad, isn’t it.

Four: I, unfortunately, am white. It’s true, I am. I like to think that on some levels I’m cool, but when it really comes down to it, I’m not. I sometimes find myself picking out an outfit (lame by itself right there) and realizing that nothing I own is impressive or stylish and that I have no one to impress. I don’t even own a pair of matching socks, for the love! I listen to some fairly good music, but I also tap my feet to Steeley Dan and ‘Nsync. More depressing than all of these things is my fascination with Friends. A couple of years ago I could flip past a showing if other people were around and not feel that bad about it, but not anymore. If one of my roommates is in control of the clicker (which happens very rarely, mind you) and they pass by a Friends episode, I throw a conniption fit until they, startled, change it back. Then I sit there like a freakin’ moron, at the edge of my seat, waiting for the next witty line from Chandler or charmingly ignorant one from Joey, or the obligatory cheesecake shots of Rachel. I don’t even lose focus during the commercials. Somebody help me, I’ve crossed the threshold. Sad, isn’t it?

Five: The Oscars, whew. Does the fun ever start? Hahaha. Seriously, though, the Oscars suck. Not much explanation needed here. Millions and millions of people sitting through all of that crap and just taking it year after year without more than some grumbling about it finishing too late in the night. Someone should invent some sort of bootleg version with just the memorable parts. No commercials, unless they’re good. No acceptance speeches by sound editors or boring personalities. No Russell Crowe. Just make it like a greatest hits album. Is that so much to ask? We have TiVo, high definition TV, and countless geeks with nothing to do (especially here), and yet we have to hear what the costume designer feels about the film and why their husband is so important to them. Sad, isn’t it?

Six: Russell Crowe needs to be hit over the head with a chair by some member of the WWF. I’m serious about this one. Am I the only person who can’t stand this guy? There have to be more of us. Granted, the fight scenes in Gladiator were cool. So what? So were the fight scenes in the Matrix, and you don’t see girlss ogling over Keanu Reeves as if he were a young Brando. I’m not afraid to admit when a guy is attractive, but I just can’t see this one. This is yet another reason why the Oscars are crap, as if you needed one. Two Russell Crowe movies winning Best Picture in back-to-back years? Puhh-lease.

Addendum to Think Piece II: The Five Coolest Places on Campus.

1. The Pub. The hands down winner. There’s really no question. Where else can you imbibe either 120 worldly beers or Bud at a campus-subsidized venue? It’s not that expensive, and there’s consistently good service from my German homey Schneider and his sidekick Kyle, even though the latter wears his Vertical Horizon shirt a little too often. It’s getting kind of weird, dude. Monday nights bring cheap beers and sorority girls, and every other night brings grad students bored with the tedium of their lives and looking for a little something saucy (how ’bout a virile undergrad with no strings, ladies?) The jukebox is excellent, as are the nachos and curly fries. Go. Enjoy. I’ll see you there.

2. Usite Crerar. A definite hangout spot for anyone in the know, and if you’ve been there, you know. They give you headphones for free so you can listen to that new mix CD you made in your friends’ room but are too embarrassed to play out loud on a stereo. You can also print shit for free, and as much of it as you want. You can even play video games on the Internet and nobody will tease you. I mean…I don’t…What?

3. Tom’s room. My home away from home. There’s something strangely alluring about Hitchock, Tha Cock. It’s also a nice plus that he lets me use his computer and watch his TV. People think I’m sad because I still hang out there even though I live off-campus, but they are wrong.

4. The Drunk Van. Do I really have to explain this one? The closest thing to a party bus we’ll ever have at the U of C. Even if you’re not drunk, although you should be, there is always at least one fool rocked off his ass. He’ll provide entertaining conversations and activities for your entire ride, no question. The “Pull Over to Puke or Have a Drunk Brawl” is my personal favorite. Sometimes there’s the couple getting a little too intimate in the back seat, but that’s simply a necessary sacrifice. A little word from the wise, though: when you do call it (702-2022), make sure to have a girl call, and tell her to use her sexy voice. Their response time is greatly improved when this is done well.

5. The bench in the middle of the quads. This one might not be up everyone’s alley, but just bear with me. If you like people watching—and who doesn’t—a bench is only second to an airport lobby. Grab a sandwich from Hutch or the GSB café and pull up a seat. Angle the bench so that you can see all the most frequented pathways and let the passersby come. Prime time is definitely around noon. I’ll see you there.