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The Digressions announcements, extra content and musings.

The Showdown

Jordan McArthur

digressions_video-showdown

Thirteen weeks ago we were introduced to Preston, Michelle, Theo, Spencer and Kenley. They're not particularly special people - although they're special to each other - and they have a hard time expressing some of the more difficult subjects they deal with as almost-adults. They're pretty bad at it, actually. But who isn't? If everyone said exactly what they wanted to say, exactly how they wanted to say it at every moment - how boring would the world be? Where would we be without our miscommunications, misunderstandings, and rambling side stories that do nothing to drive home a point? These are the things that make life interesting. Even when you think your life is the least interesting, it can be spiced up pretty quickly with a good digression.

Today the crew all comes together for a very special purpose. Spencer finally wants to share his girlfriend, Bella, with the group. But does the group want to share Spencer with Bella? And what happens when you stop digressing and just decide to say exactly what you're thinking? Well...just ask Preston...

We can't thank you enough for watching The Digressions' first season. We've had so much fun sharing with you and are pleased to assure you that this is only the beginning of our time with Preston, Michelle, Theo, Spencer and Kenley.  Stay tuned for upcoming news about the future of The Digressions. In the meantime, this doesn't excuse the fact that you are not - at this moment - liking our shit on Facebook, tweeting our shit to the world, and subscribing to and liking our shit on YouTube. Get on that, will ya?

And now, Episode 15 - The Showdown

The Showdown

Death and Makeouts

Jordan McArthur

death and makeouts

People love to use the phrase "answers to some of life's biggest questions." What the hell does that mean? What are those questions anyway? And if they're some of life's biggest questions, it pretty much goes without saying that they have no answer, right? But we need some sort of comfort.  Some sort of answer. Otherwise we wouldn't be capable of getting out of bed in the morning. People find the answers in many different ways. And Theo's answers seem to be exclusively pessimistic. But that's what he has Kenley around for. To be the polar opposite. To balance out the equation. And sometimes...just sometimes...opposites attract...

Folks - let's get serious here. If you like The Digressions it's meaningless until you have announced it by liking us on Facebook. We wanna be "in a relationship" with you so that the world can see. What's the matter? You don't like us enough? Are we nothing to you? That's not what you said last night! You could at least subscribe to our YouTube channel. Or maybe just one little tweet?

You're going to love this episode. It is beautiful. And oddly satisfying.

We give you Episode 14 - Death and Makeouts

death and makeouts

Getting Sucked Off On The Bus

Eric Pargac

schoolbus

schoolbus Unlike Theo, I have never been in a real fight before. I say "real" fight because in the third grade, I was in something. Something like a fight. An awkward skirmish on the school bus one afternoon. It couldn't possibly have been a fight because a) no punches were thrown and b) I was not written up by the bus driver. Everyone knew that if you got in a fight on the school bus, you got written up, and if you were written up, you got kicked off the bus. I was afraid of being written up. I was a good kid. Well, I was a scared kid.

My parents ruled by fear, and I existed in a constant state of terror that I would get in trouble. For all intents and purposes, fear of getting in trouble is the same a being good except your underlying motive is not to be good, it is to not get in trouble. I did plenty of bad things, but the moments I really remember from doing all those bad things is not the bad act itself, it is the panic of "Please sweet Jesus, don't let me get in trouble for this!" Then the hand-shaking, fist-wringing moments of trying to figure out how to stay out of trouble.

That fear ruled me growing up, and that fear kept me out of fights. When things got tough, all my energy turned to how can I not get into this fight because this will get me in trouble. And that was what I was thinking the day I got into "something" on the bus.

It all started when a slightly younger, slightly huskier kid than me sat by me on the school bus. I think his name was Ronnie, but honestly he lived on my bus route for such a short amount of time that I might be wrong about that. I'll just call him Ronnie for the purposes of this blog. I point out that Ronnie was husky, not to make fun of him, but to show we had some common ground. I too was a husky kid, or rather I teetered on the husky side.

When I was growing up the definition of a husky kid was simple. If you shopped at Sears and wore Toughskins jeans then there were only two sizes: "regular" and "husky." I always teetered. The regular jeans were a little tight for my densely boned frame, but if I tried the husky jeans, I looked like a circus clown. Although I never really wore husky jeans, I knew the husky kids were my brethren. If you're not old enough to have been through the shame of trying on "husky" Toughskins, consider yourself lucky. This was how it was for all jeans. You were either "regular" or some euphemism for a chunky kid. The best day of my life was the day Levis came out with "Loose Fitting Jeans." I finally became normal. But I digress.

Ronnie sat next to me on the bus and we hit it off. I don't remember quite what we bonded over (other than both being on the huskier side), but it must have been one of my two favorite things at that age: cartoons or Gobots, the cheap ripoff of Transformers for all of us less monied children who had to shop as Sears. Things were going great until suddenly Ronnie grabbed my backpack strap. That doesn't sound like a big deal, but then he proceeded to put it in his mouth and suck on it. Laugh and make all the sexual innuendos you like, but we were in second and third grade--who knows what he was thinking.

Regardless, he was sucking on my backpack strap, and I tried to make him stop. He wouldn't. I tried again. He continued sucking. I tried repeatedly, and he kept sucking. Finally, I yanked the strap away from him. Time stopped. Ronnie got a crazy look in his eyes. Suddenly he sprung out of his seat and attached himself to the top of my head like one of the face suckers in Alien, only he was straight up on the top of my head, not attached to my face. I don't know how this little husky kid did it, but he went from sitting to clamping his entire body on top of my head. Not only was Ronnie now attached to my head, but he had also started CRYING, so I had this weeping, husky mass attached to the top of my head.

I was totally panicked. This was a fight now. No two ways about it. I just got into a fight, and I was going to get into trouble. I tried to get him off, but he was hysterical. There was nothing I could do. I realized I had to fight back so I reached up and pushed him off of me as hard as I could. Apparently as hard as I could was pretty hard. There was some muscle under my husk, because he flew off my head and smacked into the window with a violent cracking sound. I checked quickly and the window wasn't broken. I looked forward on to the bus driver and she was eyeing us. "Oh Heavenly Father, please save me! I just got caught in a fight."

The bus driver slowed down and stopped the bus. Ronnie got up and went crying to the front of the bus. I knew I should follow. The bus driver stared back at me in that giant rear view mirror that can see everyone on the bus. I prepared myself of the worst. Then she opened the bus door. Ronnie got off. It was his stop. He simply stepped off the bus and kept walking. The bus driver closed the door, and continued on to the next stop. Other than a knowing glance, she never acknowledged what had happened between Ronnie and I.

That was my almost-fight. Kinda like the husky jeans, I tried it on, but it didn't quite fit. I could carry on with my life in a mildly uncomfortable state of fear, never having actually been in a fight. I was not in trouble. The only thing that happened was a husky kid sucked on my backpack strap… I sorta wish I'd punched him.

The Fight

Jordan McArthur

digressions_video-player-fight

"I'm a lover, not a fighter."

That's just another way of saying, "I'm a coward," right?  We're long past the time when people had to settle their disputes by bonking each other on the head with rocks (hey, isn't this why sarcasm and withering comments were created?) and yet getting into a fight still seems to be a rite of passage for most men.  Well, Preston is keenly aware of his shortcomings in this regard and is looking to prove himself.  In this episode, we separate the men from the boys (and Preston and Theo from their dignity).

Enjoy Episode 13 - The Fight!

digressions_video-player-fight

Confessions of a List-o-holic

aubreysaverino

url

Who doesn’t love a good to-do list? Crazy people, that’s who. Come on, those little open boxes getting ticked off one by one? Those little check marks filling spaces where there was only emptiness before, check marks that say “I’m accomplishing!” “I’m productive!” “I’m alive!” Really, is there anything more satisfying? Trust me, I’ve spent plenty of time searching the iPhone App store for the perfect To-Do List (enough time to complete an entire To-Do List, but that’s beside the point), and based on the array of applications available, I know I’m not the only one who gets her rocks off every time she ticks off: Check me. Yes! Scratch. Me. Out. Yessss! Oh god, that feels so good...

Excuse me. Having a moment.

Okay. I’m back. And I admit, maybe I’m a little obsessed. Maybe I’m a bit of an outlier in my intense love of the to-do list. I’ve used them for just about everything at one point or another. Of course I’ve made the standard lists for weekly necessities— like: pick up toilet paper and Tom’s toothpaste at Duane Reade, get Gluten-free Brown Rice Tortillas and Tempeh Fakin’ Bacon at the Astoria Fresh Start Market, buy a $4 bottle of Blue Fin Petite Sirah from Trader Joes. Scratch that. Buy 3 bottles.

Now flouride, cruelty AND health benefit-free!

But (here’s a potentially embarrassing admission), I also make Life Lists. Yep. To-Do Lists for my entire life. These lists look something like this (and by “like this” I mean these are direct quotes from lists I’ve made at some point or another): Read 12 new books in the next six months, get into The Old Globe MFA Graduate Acting Program, explore 20 New York sites this year (these can be parks, museums, libraries etc, preferably, but not necessarily cultural), perform in 3-4 plays in the next twelve months...

Ridiculous? Perhaps. But for the most part, these lists worked. For instance, the first year I moved to New York City, I wrote “See 24 shows” on my handy-dandy Life List, and I got soooo excited about ticking off that little check box that I saw every single play I possibly could. By the end of my first year, I had seen 57 plays. And my goodness was I proud of myself. I checked that box off and gave myself a big ol’ pat on the back. Because in a world of complications and uncertainties, this seemed like a very simple equation:

To-Do Box: CHECKED = Goal: ACHIEVED = Life: SUCCESS!

According to this formula, all you have to do is think about what you want, formulate it into a concise sentence, put it next to a small open box, give yourself a specific time frame to check off that small box and WHA-LA! Whatever you want, it’s yours!

But if you don’t check it off?

If you leave an unfinished, uncompleted, necessary action item unattended-- unchecked on that to-do list? And it just sits there? Staring blankly back at you. An empty space taunting you with things you didn’t do, or worse - couldn’t do. What then? What does that say? Because what kind of person doesn’t check off all the boxes on her list? What kind of person can’t manage to check off one measly stupid little sentence on a fucking list???

Not me, surely. I know what I want. I'm a hard working person. Therefore, it follows that not only am I perfectly capable of checking off those boxes, I also should get whatever my little heart desires. At least that’s what my well-meaning parents told me. And my teachers, and Oprah, The Secret, The Artist's Way, and every self-help book every written, and every single fucking inspirational ever movie made in the history of the entire world. Maybe not directly, maybe not in so many words. But it was implied. Know what you want, work hard, and you’ll get whatever you desire. So if my goal is, hypothetically, "to star on Broadway opposite Laurie Metcalf, Alan Rickman and a shirtless Eddie Redmayne in a beautiful new play written by Tom Stoppard, directed by Emma Rice, in a production that is completely and wildly successful -- not in a cheesy commercial way, but in a this-is-what-theater-should-be way, in a this-play-sends-electricity-through-my-head-my-heart-and-my-gut-until-I-am-utterly-transported-with-rapture way, and goes down in history as one of the most influential and memorable performances of the century” then, theoretically, assuming I wrote this goal down (or at least had it clear in my mind), and divided it into short and long term goals, then worked backwards creating individual, achievable steps then, conceivably, I’m up in there on a marquee in Times Square by the end of 2016.

I might have to settle for First Wives Club The Musical.

And if that doesn't happen? If I don’t get what I want, what does that mean? That I set my goals too high? That I didn't try hard enough? That I'm lazy, or worthless or somehow undeserving? What if I did everything I knew how to do? Am I a failure? Should I aim lower next time? Aim for something I can feasibly achieve so I can hang on to that sweet little narrative in my mind? The narrative that says-- you can do whatever you set your mind to, you can check off every little box on your perfect little list...

What’s the fun in that? Where’s the challenge?

I want to terrify myself. I want to be brave to reach for the impossible, to ask for things that are laughably illogical or unreasonable, things that I may never achieve even if I live a hundred lifetimes. But if I really want that, and I truly mean it, I have to come to terms with the fact that, at the end of my life, there will inevitably be a box or two or twenty unchecked, a dozen goals unachieved, and countless attempts utterly unsuccessful. In short, I have to be brave enough to fail. In a sloppy, messy, miserable way.

So, does anyone have Eddie Redmayne's email?

The List

Jordan McArthur

the list

Take stock of your life for just a second. How's it going? Achieving your goals can feel good, but setting your goals can feel...painful. Like, how are we supposed to figure out our purpose in this life and break it down into tiny little hoops that we jump through to ultimately gain supreme happiness and fulfillment??? That's a lot of pressure. Goals are terrifying...

But then what's the other side like? Aimlessly wandering through the world allowing life to happen to you one episode at a time, half-heartedly hoping you'll make a meaningful connection with another human being - maybe share a few laughs? Sounds like Season 1 of The Digressions!

This week Kenley does what she does best. Give advice. And Preston does what he does best. Dash hopes and dreams.

We're having a blast sharing The Digressions with you and hope you feel the same. If you do, take a second to share your favorite episode on Facebook, tweet about it, or subscribe to our YouTube channel! We're at 98 subscribers. We can make it at least 100 today!

Now enjoy Episode 12 - The List!

the list

10 Things That Happy People Do That You Don't, You Miserable Asshole

adahly

behappy

If you frequent Facebook you've seen them. Lists accompanied by new age-y images, delineating the behaviors that happy people engage in that presumably make them or keep them happy. Smile more! Fuck you. Don't hold grudges! Go eat a dick. They're meant to be encouraging, but they come off sounding pompous and completely patronizing. "Oh, you're not happy? Well, that's YOUR fault. Just change these 10 deep-seated-inextricably-intertwined-with-your-personality behaviors and you'll be fine!" Choke on a rusty cock. Will do. Getting right on that.

Language, I know. But this stuff does actually drive me a little crazy. I saw one list online that was twenty two items long (twenty fucking two!) and contained such gems as "Eat Well", "Live Minimally", and "Establish Personal Control". Oh GOD! All I have to do is establish total personal control and I can finally be happy all the time?! Well, what have I been doing all these years?! Seriously, that's like saying that the way to succeed is to be successful. THANKS! That's HELPFUL. And you know what sort of people "don't hold grudges", "avoid social comparison", "never compare themselves to others" and "live minimally"? Vegetables.

Literally.

Much more informed people than I have written about this sort of thing but I'm incredibly wary of the constant pursuit of happiness. Life is insane and random and unfair plenty of the time and people who are not affected by that sort of thing are LIARS. And I don't like being around liars. I've always wanted to start off a first date by saying, "You know, we're going to die some day. Some day soon in comparison to the length of the universe. Not theoretically, literally. How am I supposed to function?" And when I find a person who responds with, "I KNOW! What IS that shit?" then I will get down on one knee and we will live terrified ever after.

"Let's get this over with."

And look, everybody has to live their lives. I recognize that the majority of the world has gone through much more serious, genuine adversity than I have. So, if you've been through the ringer and you just need to put on a smile and ignore the dark side of life - there's no way for this not to sound patronizing - go for it. Seriously. The caveat to everything I'm saying is, at the end of the day, do what you gotta do.

But if we could all be a bit more honest about feelings of sadness, anger, frustration, impotent rage, etc. I think the world would be a better place. So much great art comes from an intimate relationship with pain. And there's happiness too, in art and in life, of course. But when the endgame is always death it's hard for me not to find happiness at least a little false. Pleasure, yes. Joy, sure. Happiness? I don't know. And I love a good comedy but do you think there might be a reason why Shakespeare is much better known for his tragedies? A reason why movies like Citizen Kane, Casablanca, and The Godfather routinely top "Best Films of All Time"-type lists? And even good comedy so often comes from deep, deep pain. Woody Allen, Louis CK, etc.

"How bitter a thing it is to look into happiness through another man's eyes!"

A therapist would no doubt have a field day with what I'm saying here, and maybe one day something truly crushing will happen to me and I'll be forced turn in my gleeful frown and my gallows humor for some meditation and gratitude but for now I will embrace my inner dark side. My inner Theo, if you will.

You won't? Ok, got it. Sorry.


Something that will make you happy: watching previous episodes of The Digressions. Check them out here!

Cheaters

Jordan McArthur

cheaters

What happens when your friend does something that doesn't quite fit into your idea of who they are? It kind of throws things out of whack, right? Here's one better. What happens when you've known that person for a long time and you realize...that's not even the same person I became friends with all those years ago?

Do we ever only know ourselves in this world? Are we doomed to live alone, merely brushing elbows with strangers from day to day? Should we all just give up, stay inside and watch House Hunters all day?

Well of course not, but all those things probably ran through Theo's head when Kenley made some interesting confessions to him on this balmy night in New York City. Everyone needs to have their impressions of their friends shaken up once and a while. It keeps things fresh and makes you appreciate them even more.

Check out the episode to see if Theo agrees. Something tells us his conclusion won't come without a bit of freak out.

Hey - did you know that there are only 5 episodes left of The Digressions in Season 1? If you're reading this post you're probably one of our more loyal followers and we want to thank you for coming back week to week! We'd love for you to help us spread The Digressions around. Even just liking or commenting on one of our episodes can help us reach a whole bunch of people who might have never found us otherwise!

Now enjoy Episode 11 - Cheaters:

cheaters

We Just Worked

adahly

ipod2

Sometimes it all just comes together. If you've been watching carefully, you'll notice that, "The iPod Maneuver 2", or "iPod 2" as we call it, is the first episode of the season that happens outdoors at night. And while we don't shoot the episodes in order necessarily, it happened to be our first time shooting this way as well. And it almost didn't happen.

A lot goes into making a web series - even a modest one like ours. We don't have much physical action - no special effects, no long scenes or trick shots - but the amount of effort and care that goes into making sure the lighting and sound are uniform and convincing on each episode is significant. So, at a certain point last summer we decided to help ourselves out and enlist some more technical assistance. Eric, who plays Theo and is our resident technical expert, has a solid amount of camera experience but he is but one man (and is often IN the episodes), so we were excited about bring in some new blood. One of our cast members (who shall remain nameless) knew a couple young filmmakers who had recently moved to the city and were hungry for projects. They had cameras, equipment, and, most importantly, experience. We met up with one half of the duo at a greasy Thai restaurant near Union Square to discuss the possibility of working together. Our new friend was clearly very confident, capable, and surprisingly assertive. The only problem (besides the seaweed salad I ordered, which tasted like worms) was that the duo was tired of simply shooting projects and wanted to be more involved in the creative decision making process. An alarm went off in my brain. I'm not against creative input; I collaborate well. But I'm very careful about whom I collaborate with. We are, again, a modest web series but we've got a good thing going. The four of us have a strong democratic partnership. We know each other very well at this point and know how to give each other input, advice, and direction. We have a clear vision and a specific and, might I say, airtight style. So, I was hesitant.

After the meeting, the rest of the team was much more optimistic than I. This is essentially constantly true (I have a touch of the cynic in me) but I was still a little surprised. They thought we could involve our new friends in creative decisions without having to make any concessions. They even thought the new duo didn't entirely mean what they had said - that they would be happy to be involved and wouldn't feel the need to manhandle the style. We planned a rehearsal as a sort of dry run of the collaborative relationship.

We met up at Aubrey and Eric's UWS apartment and began working through the script. It quickly became clear that the duo was unaware that we had already a) written a bunch of episodes b) decided on a season order and c) shot several of the episodes. Distressing. We discussed possible changes to one joke (that was already fine) for a half hour. Upsetting. One member of the duo started all of his/her comments with the phrase "what if…?". No bueno. They tried to give Aubrey notes about her delivery on one of her lines. Aubrey's a pro and considered their notes respectfully but I could see her bristling. We mercifully segued out of discussing the script and began to go over how we would approach the episode in a technical sense. This conversation went markedly better. They had a lot of great ideas about shots and were excited about finding a good outdoor location for a night shoot. They were enthusiastic and confident. This was encouraging.

We parted ways under the agreement that the duo would scout and confirm a location and we'd shoot the episode in five days. We were cautiously optimistic. We still hadn't worked out exactly how to handle the creative input but the added technical boost seemed worth it. And things so often just work themselves out.

A couple days passed and we didn't hear anything. I sent an email to the two of them, checking up on the location scouting. I received a short email back saying that they hadn't looked yet but were thinking of shooting on the sidewalk outside a bodega at 125th and Broadway. Another alarm went off in my head (I have many at the ready). This location was problematic for many reasons, the main two being that a) it's a loud area, which would be a nightmare for editing and b) it's a highly trafficked area. Shooting outside is not especially illegal (at least not without an expensive permit) and the more busy the area, the higher the chance of finding ourselves in a conversation with the police (rarely pleasant). We were worried but put our faith in our new collaborators. What else could we do?

By the day before the shoot we still hadn't heard much. Aubrey and I were out in Astoria drinking margaritas when we got an urgent email from one half of the duo saying that the other half had sprained his/her ankle in a pick-up basketball game and was in horrible pain. They weren't going to be able to make the shoot and they were so, sooooo, sorry. I sent an e-mail back inquiring if the ankle injury was somehow so serious that it had affected both of them or would the ungimped half of the duo still be able to make it? But I already had the sinking feeling that was this their way of bailing without really bailing. I never heard back from either of them.

Now what the hell were we going to do? We had 24 hours, no location, and no real prospect of one. I sent out an alarmist e-mail to the team recommending that we either switch to an indoor shoot or cancel entirely. Eric, as always, had a significantly less doomsday outlook. He e-mailed back that he was already out and about on the UWS, scouting locations and had found an elementary school near his and Aubrey's apartment that was relatively well lit and located on a lightly traversed block. He e-mailed us pictures that looked promising. We were back on.

We gathered at Casa Pargacerino the following evening ready to rock. We grabbed the equipment, some snacks and bottled water and headed out. The part of the school that Eric had scouted the previous evening was now gated so that option was out, but we were able to find a small ledge by a stairwell a couple doors down that would fit Aubrey and Jordan nicely. I was on sound duty and space was limited, so I stashed our gear near a planter on the sidewalk, trying to keep a low profile from passersby and police. Cars would zip by with unsettling regularity and there was a surprising amount of foot traffic for a weeknight. And it was sweltering. Temperatures had flirted with 100 during the day and weren't a whole lot lower by 9 pm. We knew that episodes surrounding "iPod 2" in the season would have a fall/spring look to them and didn't want to have an episode full of tank tops and shorts sticking out like a sore thumb, so we forced Aubrey and Jordan to suffer in light jackets and pants.

And the lighting wasn't right. The overhead fixtures at the school created a sickly glow and some unsightly shadows on Aubrey and Jordan's faces. We had a portable LED light that we could use but couldn't find a good place to set it. So, I went on a duct tape run. I had had a bit of a taste of the "hurry up and wait" style of film/tv shoots (I was an extra on The Fast and the Furious 3: Tokyo Drift. Oh yes.) but it still surprises me from time to time how different the whole thing is from theater. For theater you essentially need bodies and you can go. For film so much time and thought goes into the technical preparation. If you need to take two hours to set up a shot, you take two hours to set up the shot. If you need duct tape for a light for a shoot that was supposed to have started already, you go get the duct tape.

We taped the light to a part of the school's fencing and fired it up but things still looked a little off. And cars and pedestrians kept zipping by, feet away. We tried a run-thru of the scene and things just weren't right. Jordan and Aubrey wouldn't admit it but it was clear that the nearby traffic was making them nervous. People would walk by and stare at the two actors sitting on the steps of an elementary school late on a weeknight and Jordan and Aubrey couldn't help but notice.

I raised the idea that these were less than ideal shooting conditions but Eric wanted to press on. We had already sunk thought and time into this location and Eric didn't want to bail on it without giving it a solid go. This is a common occurrence in my life. My pessimistic instinct to distance myself or give up on things outweighed by wiser parties. Surround yourself with good people.

Then a janitor came out of the school and began gating and locking an area identical to ours a couple doors down. Clearly our little stairwell would be next. We were out of options. I suggested throwing in the towel. It was late and hot and we could always shoot another night if we needed to; we were on no one's schedule but our own. It was then that Eric suggested shooting on the roof of their apartment. This was a wild card option that had been mentioned before but quickly dismissed as dangerous. We didn't know if we had access to the roof, if there was anywhere to set up a shot, or if our clomping around would cause the residents of the building to call the police. All I'm saying is I wouldn't do well in prison.

Eric was confident that we could make it work, so we put our trust in him (usually a good call). We took the stairs up to the top floor and cautiously opened the door to the roof. Mercifully, it wasn't locked or alarmed. The second we got out onto the roof, our worries began to dissipate. There was room to sit and set up shots. We could arrange it so that we were only walking on the part of the roof directly over Aubrey and Eric's apartment. The sides of the roof extended high enough to block out a little of the New York night sounds and there also happened to be a pretty gorgeous view of the skyline. We couldn't find a reasonable place to set the LED light so we lugged up a standing lamp, duct-taped the LED tight to the top of it and led an extension cord back down to their apartment. DIY filmmaking at its best.

It was almost midnight at this point and the temperature had dropped to a tolerable 80. Aubrey and Jordan were no longer uncomfortable in their outerwear and the roof made it seem as if there was no one around for miles. We had carved out a tiny little space for ourselves, above the hubbub, below the stars. It's incredibly difficult to find solitude in New York. I often don't notice it until I've stumbled upon a little pocket of it. We had created a little solitude.

I leaned against the doorway leading back down into the building and set up the sound equipment. Eric began framing shots and Jordan and Aubrey ran lines a couple times. We soon found that the LED light made it impossible for Jordan and Aubrey to see anything but each other. Like or dislike this episode, love it or hate it, I don't care, but I think it has an intimacy that's sometimes hard to find. There's a quality, an ease, in their performance that the technical side of filmmaking can sometimes encroach on.

We took our standard shots (wide, two shot, close-ups from both angles) as well as a shot from each angle that changed focus from time to time. Eric would adjust with each take and I would make sure the audio was clear and complete. Jordan and Aubrey tried out several different choices for various moments and jokes. And we just worked. For three of four hours on a hot summer night in New York we did what we wanted to do, the way we wanted to do it, together. It can get crazy here in New York city (slash life) and it can be easy to question one's place, one's…correctness. But for a little while we felt like we were in the exact right place at the exact right time.

Somehow it all works out.


To see this episode and others, check out our Episodes page.

The iPod Maneuver 2

Jordan McArthur

ipod 2

Holy crap, that guy's leg, right?

Now that we got that out of the way - what's your fantasy? Not really talking rose petals and that little teddy with the slits in the bra part that you can untie. More like - what are the things in your life you engage in to just trick yourself (even if for only a moment) that things are better than they are? This is the really good stuff. Like going on vacation to Puerto Rico and pretending you're on an exclusive island in Fiji. Or buying a Groupon for a creepy massage parlor in Chinatown and pretending you're in a ritzy spa in SoHo.

We all tell little white lies to ourselves in order to deal with reality. Even when we don't even realize it. Whether it's Bella's brand of white lie or Michelle's.

This week poor Spencer can't seem to shake Bella's little private sex concert, so he turns to a female friend for help. But is Michelle really in the position to give sound relationship advice? Honestly, she's been complaining about her significant other all season. (And being totally unfair to Kevin, if you ask us. He's a GREAT guy.) Perhaps if nothing else, they'll be calmed by the tranquil rooftops of New York City at night. In a city of a million problems, isn't it nice to know you can still escape and make yours seem like the most important of all of them?

And in an internet of a million webseries, isn't ours the most important? Well then tell us so! Like this week's episode on our Youtube Channel, share it with your friends on Facebook, and tweet it to Barack Obama in hopes that he'll watch in on a smoke break. Bozie would want it that way.

Enjoy Episode 10 of The Digressions, The iPod Maneuver 2:

ipod 2

Raised By Muppets

jordanmca

jim henson

When I was a kid, nothing got me going like puppets. I was crazy for them. I couldn't get enough of them. I wanted to live and breathe puppets. It was to the point that I still, to this day, think about the obsession fairly regularly. Mostly in the "I was so weird" sense. But sometimes in the "whatever happened to that" sense. It kind of haunts me, actually. Let's start with a little background first. It's no secret I was an odd child. Much of my time was spent figuring out what could come after the phrase, "Hey, wach this!" And even if I didn't have anything planned, I couldn't be stopped. I would just spew nonsense and gyrate until someone looked at me. And I played like all kids, of course - but it was on a different level for me in some way. It was like an early childhood career choice. And I don't think it was my fault.

Mostly I blame Fred Penner, but that's a whole other blog post. And if you get this reference we have now entered into an unbreakable bond.

You see, my father and his two brothers were serious about playing. Pathologically serious about it. When they were kids, they built elaborate sets for turn-based war games played with hundreds of tiny, meticulously painted lead figures (wash your hands afterwards!), they once created a giant underground fort made entirely of an elaborate network of tunnels dug by hand in their backyard (with sandy Michigan soil - deathtrap anyone?), and they also invented snowboarding (actually called "snurfing"). Their childhood was like if Boy's Life Magazine and Opie Taylor had offspring. And it didn't stop after adolescence. My dad has spent the greater part of my life thus far building a professional-grade model train set and once berated me to the point of tears because I didn't make good enough exhaust sounds while playing with Matchbox cars.

The shit-eating self-satisfaction of original Matchbox lovers was apparently a top-down side effect.

His younger brother, however, was the king of playtime. Nothing was off limits for Jamie. My mother once had to very firmly put her foot down as he plotted to put me into a climbing harness and hoist me to the top of a hundred foot tree just for the hell of it. To me, though, he was like some kind of magical wizard that only ever had the coolest ideas anyone could ever think of. So, of course, he gave me one of the best gifts I will ever receive - he built me a puppet theater.

At age 5 I couldn't think of anything holier in this world than watching and playing with puppets. I had a whole cast of characters in my basement and they would get dragged out for a few weeks at a time while the puppet theater was in business. And thanks to my dad, they all had names and distinct personalities. There was the plastic dinosaur that was some Pizza Hut promotional item from the original Land Before Time. There was a troll doll puppet dressed as a policeman who, in a throwback to comedian Bill Dana (I later learned), only said one thing: "My name is Jose Jimenez." There was also the shy green finger puppet that looked like a booger, and a pink snake-looking thing made of felt with yellow yarn glued to its head that my sister's Bible School teacher let her have since she was just as obsessed with this shit as I was. Its recurring bit was to gag and heave until it eventually turned itself inside out.

At first I was wondering why I was allowed to have these, and then I saw this. 99 cents for your bratty kid to shut up and entertain himself for hours?! Guess what's for dinner!

Sometimes I try to think how this even came about. We're all products of our environment, right? So who was telling me to obsess over puppets? I mean, I guess it makes sense. In the late 80's and early 90's they were everywhere. I was raised on Sesame Street, Fraggle Rock, The Muppet Christmas Carol, Eureeka's Castle, The Neverending Story, Mr. Rogers, and a worn out VHS tape of classic Muppet Show segments. It's no wonder that I was making sense of the world by continuously talking to my own hand. Was it healthy? I think that still has yet to be seen. It certainly played into my "you can be anything when you grow up" child of the 90's mentality. I would watch hours of behind-the-scenes featurettes taped off of network tv specials where Jim Henson would lovingly explain how animatronic Doozers worked and think to myself - "This is a totally reasonable life-pursuit."

Jim Henson's death was the first time I remember having the whole concept explained to me. RIP, old friend.

Somewhere in there I decided that I would rather be the puppet and got two laborious degrees in acting, only to discover later what I knew all along - I would much rather be the one with the hand up the ass than the ass-hand-recipient. No one wants to be Kermit. At the end of the day Kermit is just a felt sack of reticulated polyfoam. What we actually want is to be Jim Henson - Kermit's heart and soul. I want to be the one that can suggest the iconic humble-pie-eating-gulp with a slight shift of my knuckles. I want to make Lady Elaine piss you off with one jerky twist of my wrist. I want to be the one who undercuts Billy Baloney's self-centered movie pitch with shifty eye movements, revealing his own deep seated insecurities about being a lowly ventriloquist dummy (deep cut for all you puppet lovers).

It's funny because, as I continue to tread my path towards being a proverbial puppeteer, I can't help but notice that maybe I had it right from the beginning - even if I was simply making Count von Count tally his own farts.

Poor Sweet Kevin 2

Jordan McArthur

Poor Sweet Kevin 2

Remember saying goodbye to your safety blanket, whatever it was? An actual blanket, a stuffed animal, college? The safety blanket was old, misshapen, and smelled like a decade of dried spit. Saying goodbye was bitter-sweet; a slow-burn of a hurt that seemed unnecessarily self-inflicted but necessary for your dignity. Kind of like a good break-up.

And that's where Michelle is today. At a crossroads. Desperate for some validation when in comes to bumping the blanket, but all she seems to encounter is an enabler at every corner. In Poor Sweet Kevin we asked ourselves, "Is there such a thing as too nice?" Today we ask ourselves "Does it really matter how anyone answered that question besides me?"

And now we're desperate for some validation! We love sharing our stuff with you guys, and want you to help spread the word! Something as simple as liking our Facebook page can help someone find The Digressions who might have never known it existed! Take a minute to tweet about us and subscribe to our YouTube channel. We'll buy you a drink.*

Now put in your headphones, pretend you're listening to a voicemail archive so your boss doesn't get suspicious of why you're hunched over with earbuds in, and enjoy Episode 9 - Poor Sweet Kevin 2.

Poor Sweet Kevin 2

*Of tap water.

A Compromising Position

aubreysaverino

banana

I am probably the most annoying person to invite to dinner. Not because I'm actually annoying (I hope), but because it can be a pain in the ass to accommodate my specific dietary needs-- I’m a vegan and ninety percent gluten-free. The only thing worse would be having a nut allergy so severe you couldn’t take me anywhere within a five mile radius of Pad Thai. The percentage of me that's still addicted to gluten.

“Dinner with Aubrey? Great. Guess I better Yelp ‘vegan-food-that-doesn't-taste-like-cardboard restaurants, NYC'. What’s this? Three places off a train I’ve never heard of in Brooklyn and one place in the East Village that only serves organic kale and cabbage soup cooked at forty degrees Celsius? Awesome. I must really love Aubrey's exceptional conversational skills and charming smile…” (right, friends?).

You may be wondering how I came to make this bizarre and inconvenient lifestyle choice (or you may just be wondering why the guy sitting next to you on the subway smells like burning tar and Cool Ranch Doritos). Frankly it's a long story that includes a high school speech competition and an upsetting experience with a gallon of milk. Suffice it to say I've spent way too many hours searching YouTube for "animal rights", "factory farms", and "Hamlet The Mini Pig Wants His Bottle" (don't ask). The point is, it's a decision I made years ago based on a number of factors that were, and still are, deeply and personally important to me.

Can you see where I'm coming from here?

But I know how it goes. You hear "vegan" and think you'll be spending the evening with someone who will look askance at the rack of ribs on your plate and ask, just as the first delicious bite passes your lips, "Um, did you see Forks over Knives?"

I promise I won't do that. I've spent years attempting to balance between strength in my own personal convictions about what I put in my body, and respect for other people's choices about what they put in theirs. But it isn't always easy. Especially when new friends, or frankly, in-laws from Texas, are involved. I hate offending people, hurting people's feelings or asking people to make concessions for personal choices I've made - especially choices that have nothing to do with them. But we all have to eat somewhere, right? And if I don't speak up I could be stuck at a steakhouse eating pickles and lettuce garnishes for the rest of my life just to keep other people happy. And I love food WAY too much to do that.

TEETH!

So what do I do? Do I give up on ever enjoying a satisfying meal and sit there with new friends or family members, sulking on the opposite end of our culinary-taste table? Do I compromise and eat the way other people think I should eat? Ugh. Compromise. I hate that word. It has terrible connotations. Say for instance, someone is in a 'compromising position', or someone's email account been 'compromised', you don't think-- "Yay! How awesome for them! I wish I was being compromised right now!" Why? Because compromise sucks. Be honest. How many times have you been thrilled to give up something you wanted, so someone else could get what they wanted? I'm sure you've done it. We all have. And making little sacrifices now and again for the good of a relationship is a necessary and important thing to know how to do. But it's about as fun as scrubbing a public toilet in Times Square with a toothbrush.

Ah Times Square - where even the toilets are sponsored. Don't be fooled - still a hobo shower.

And how does all that compromising stuff work anyway? You'll eat at my favorite vegan sushi place one night and I'll eat at your favorite BBQ place the next? What if I can't eat anything at your favorite BBQ place? Ever? What if every time we go out to eat you're the one who has to compromise for me? And each time you do, your soul erodes a little bit until one day, as you are swallowing that last bite of tofu cheesecake at Peacefood Cafe on the Upper West Side, you erupt in a murderous rage and scream "WHY THE FUCK AM I EATING SOYBEANS FOR DESSERT??".

You know, maybe we should rethink this entire relationship. Maybe we should just admit that it will never work. Think of all the things we'll never be able to do together -- we'll never sip the same Cookies and Cream milkshake from two straws at Johnny Rockets, or split a pastrami sandwich at Carnegie Deli, or enjoy a late night gyro at a the 53rd St Halal Cart after drinking too many Irish Car Bombs at The Pig n' Whistle. So maybe the best thing for both of us to do is save ourselves a lot of future heartbreak and give up on this whole thing right now.

Or maybe we could just get coffee.


Want more from The Digressions? CLICK HERE to get caught up on our webseries!

Fool Me Twice

Jordan McArthur

Fool Me Twice

The absolute terror of knowing you're alone in this world. It's paralyzing. It probably has something to do with why Theo moves so slowly and methodically, never raising his voice above a terrified murmur. There has to be someone we can turn to in this world when there is no hope. When you know that you have met your match and there's no chance for survival. When your worst nightmare comes true.

Right?

Well we hope you have someone, but in the world of The Digressions everyone seems to be turning to Preston recently - and the results are never satisfying. Do you have that friend that is lacking empathy? Why would anyone keep that person around? Why would we open up to such a cold hearted crab?

Because if we can get that person to finally crack and show some compassion - wouldn't it mean that much more when they did? If that person felt our pain that pain would really mean something.

But it rarely works out that way. Just ask Theo. Poor guy keeps coming back for more. Lucky for us it's hilarious.

And speaking of empathy, wouldn't you like to know our every feeling? Believe it or not, you can! Just like us on Facebook, follow our Twitter, or subscribe to our YouTube channel. It doesn't cost you anything and it feels so right. Like peeing in the woods.

And now, Episode 8 - Fool Me Twice:

Fool Me Twice

Searching for (Burt) Sugarman

jordanmca

moonshoes

I think it's fair to say that I was an odd child. I viewed everything through the lens of a film or stage production - still do, in fact. And I was kind of scared of being alone - even if people were in the next room - so I would carry on a continuous mental conversation with all the inanimate objects around me. And I had a thing for digging through the office supplies in my dad's old desk drawer. For fun. Just the thought of that kneaded eraser in a Walkers shortbread tin is making me antsy.

I also had this recurring childhood fantasy that one day there would be a little box invented where you could just say whatever you wanted to see and it would play for you on a little screen. Music videos, movies, home videos, whatever. I was just totally in love with the idea that you could capture anything in this world and then replay it infinitely. That probably has something to do with why I sat on a boombox and recorded my farts, only to play them back a million times while cackling with pride.

I was reflecting on that weird little daydream about the Enchanted Video Box the other day and realized that - HOLY CRAP - that thing was invented and it's called YouTube.

Since its inception, YouTube has literally become one of my best friends. Whenever I need a personal recharge I just type in the words "soul train" and my day is instantly 1000% better than it was 5 minutes ago.

Clicking this will be the best decision of your life.

But why is this? Why do I turn first to "The Tube" (that's what I call it - I'm trying to make this catch on, so join in kids!) for these little infusions of joy in my day? Why not read a book? Or watch a classic movie? Or study a new language? Or learn how to draw?

Well, first of all, those search terms would all pull great results on YouTube. And second of all, why would I read a book and have someone else string together tired ideas for me when I can curate my own perfect entertainment-a-thon from the world's largest collection-of-everything-that's-ever-existed?

Here's a great example of an instant YouTube pick-me-up. Take a look-see at REO Speedwagon's 1978 hit "Roll With the Changes". Go ahead. I'll wait.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eGgLPriZUSA&ref=0]

Feeling good? I figured. Like you could hop on a 1971 Triumph Tiger 650 and leave your small town problems in the dust? Same.

Everything about this song and video is absolute perfection. The performance is taken from Burt Sugarman's long-running late night musical program called The Midnight Special. Take a long, hard look at Kevin Cronin's closeups. Some tv director knew what was up when he was calling the shots on this one. The intensity of those hazel lady-killers, the inexplicably beautiful pillow-wreath of curly brown hair perfectly framing his face, the way his thin lips are constantly kissing the mic like it's some sort of magical rock and roll ice cream cone he must gently sup upon to continue to emanate the musical genius pouring from his maw - it's all a flawless recipe for feelgoodism.

You know - it's the opposite feeling you get from listening to Mumford and Sons.

Not afraid to be self-referential.

And without The Tube where would I ever have seen this time capsule of a performance? How else could I have learned that my cultural tastes point to the fact that I was supposed to be born in 1957? In what other arena could I guiltily and inexplicably watch 30 straight minutes of live Bee Gees performances?

Like it or not, I don't think YouTube is going anywhere. And as our computers become more and more a part of our bodies - so will YouTube. Which actually makes me feel better about my co-dependency, oddly enough. So the next time you need a little kickstart to your day, pull up The Tube and type in a phrase - I suggest "Stevie Nicks", "Queen Live Aid", or "The Digressions" - and enjoy the comforting caress of an old friend who just so happens to know everyone and everything.

The iPod Maneuver

Jordan McArthur

the ipod manuever

We've discussed the dangers of iPhone dependency here before. Little computers you take everywhere with you aren't going anywhere anytime soon. In fact, you better get used to the idea of wearing one. Either that, or some guy who's wearing one will be taking pictures of you at inopportune times and plastering them all over the internet without your permission. But do we really need our media everywhere? I mean obviously we do while on the way to work, watching tv, taking a dump - but...everywhere?

Check out our newest episode and we think you'll catch our drift. It's more relationship talk this week - but the other side of the coin - the manlier one. Just how will Preston counsel Spencer's sensitive relationship issue? Only the YouTube will tell.

Enjoy The iPod Maneuver.

The iPod Manuever

And - hey - what's the fun in laughing if you can't share it with someone? It's true - you should definitely be distrustful of social media. But not when it comes to us. So share that crap on Facebook. Tweet about it. And subscribe to our YouTube channel. It makes you rich. Like in a life way. Like you'll have a rich life.

Swallowing Like A Woman

aubreysaverino

britney

Oh for goodness sake, get your filthy minds out of the gutter! What would your mother say if she could hear those thoughts? (Btw, hi Mom!). Just to be clear, this blog post has nothing to do with sex or the exchange of bodily fluids.  Who am I kidding? It has everything to do with sex and the exchange of bodily fluids (sorry, Mom), but in my defense—what doesn’t?

This maybe?

If you are a particularly loyal follower of our blog (first of all, we love you), you might remember when Andrew Dahl got his testicles in a twist after discovering the pill he was prescribed to stall the inevitable shrinking of his precious hairline, could also cause shrinking of a different kind... His article got me thinking about another little pill. A pill I swallowed every day for ten years, since I was seventeen — the same pill popped by approximately eleven million women in the United States every year.  In fact, it’s so popular, let’s just go ahead and call it THE PILL.

In some ways, it’s a bit of a miracle drug. By simply swallowing one tiny pill a day, college co-eds all over the country can avoid some seriously nauseating morning-after regrets -- you know, those ones where you wake up after a particularly wild night at the Alpha Tau Omega White Trash Bash in a cold sweat, absolutely convinced that you are now carrying the offspring of a guy whose only claim to fame is holding the fraternity record for the longest keg stand… and then you realize, wait a minute -- you’re on the pill! No babies! Hooray for science!

Not that I was ever quite hip enough to experience those thrill-seeking regrets. I went to a catholic school most of my life, where “don’t have sex” was the extent of our sexual education and like a good little girl I vowed I would wait until marriage (and I tried Mom, really). But still, every responsible, respectable girl knows it’s better to be safe than sorry, so freshman year of college I marched over to the health clinic on campus and got myself a prescription for birth control. At the very least it curbs cramps and clears up your skin, right? I mean, it couldn’t hurt, right?

Typical day at a catholic school. Nothing sexual here.

A couple months later, I settled into a steady relationship with a nice boy from Iowa and my “wild nights” were spent rehearsing Shakespeare or Ibsen or Chekhov, or curled up on the couch in the boy’s quad while my boyfriend and his friends played the latest version of Tony Hawk or Goldeneye 007 on the Nintendo 64 (you’re jealous, I know). So by sophomore year, when that same steady boyfriend and I decided we were ready to take the next step (holding hands, Mom), I had been on the pill for six months. In fact, I stayed on the pill for the entirety of my six-year relationship with that sweet boy from Iowa, through my very brief bout of single-hood (consisting of a couple dates with a cute biologist who studied snails and a two night stand with a guy I met at my best friend’s bachelorette party), and was still on the pill when I met the man who would eventually become my husband (and also, coincidentally, star in episodes 2 and 3 of The Digressions).

Hubba hubba husband.

So what’s the problem?

Well, about two years ago I stumbled upon something my doctor neglected to mention when she first put me on the pill (or maybe she did, but it was like those commercial voiceovers that detail the various side effects of the latest drug so rapidly you can barely make out what you think are the words “internal bleeding” and “possible death by crocodile”) and it sent me into a full blown panic attack.

First of all, I found out that the pill puts a big ol’ wet rag on your sex drive. Yep, that’s right. Apparently it decreases your level of testosterone (otherwise known as the horny-making hormone), lowering your libido and decreasing your orgasms. Stop. Wait. What? I’ve been on this thing for 10 YEARS! Are you telling me that I could have been having more sex and more orgasms for 10 YEARS? I want my money back! How much is an orgasm worth? 10 dollars? 50 dollars? I want to be reimbursed for every orgasm I never had on the pill!

Another satisfied defendant.

But that wasn't even the worst of it! I kept digging and discovered an actual scientific study called The “Sweaty T-Shirt Experiment” (who funds these things?), where women were asked to sniff T-shirts men had been wearing for a few days with no showers (who participates in these things?). The research found that most women were attracted to the scent of men whose immune system differed most from their own. Makes sense, right? Find a guy with a different immune system, combine forces, swap fluids and have tons of super-immunity babies. Evolution is brilliant. But here’s the kicker: women on the pill didn’t respond to the same kinds of sweaty-scented men! They couldn’t sniff them out and sometimes sniffed out men with immunity too similar to their own. Think of the biological implications! Think of all those sickly little children born to genetically modified freaks! Like me! Oh god, I thought (and here's where the fear really set in), I was on the pill when I started dating my college boyfriend AND when I met my husband! What if my sense of smell was out of whack? What if they didn’t smell the way they were supposed to smell and I just wasted years of my life with the wrong sweat-scented, immunity-deficient men??? 

Mmmm...Twi-like...

So in a moment of complete panic, I cancelled my prescription, threw away my pills, and waited to find out what the heck would happen to my body when it wasn't being flooded with synthetic hormones. Would I still be attracted to my husband? Would I have better sex? More orgasms? Or would I run directly to the nearest strong-jawed man I smelled sweating on the Astoria Subway platform and demand to carry his genetically superior children my belly?

To tell you the truth, two years later I still don't have any concrete answers, but I do trust that whatever happens inside my body now, happens the way mother nature intended (and sometimes mother nature can be a real bitch).

Poor Sweet Kevin

Jordan McArthur

Poor Sweet Kevin

Is there such a thing as too nice? What do you do with a person who is so supportive and innocuous that it's offensive? Teach that jerk a lesson.

Here are some standard consequences for being nice:

  • Decelerating slightly next to a merge lane to let someone merge onto a crowded highway, only to have 3 other cars nose their way in.
  • Standing up on the subway for a pregnant woman, only to have a grumpy construction worker force his way into the empty seat first.
  • Sharing your Netflix subscription with a friend, only to have them fill the queue with old episodes of Charmed.

In the newest episode of The Digressions, Michelle contemplates doling out her own brand of justice to the nice in "Poor Sweet Kevin".

Are you craving more Oscar-appropriate humor in your life? Something that can appeal to everyone regardless of race, gender or orientation? Uh...well...we don't want to make the promise that our stuff fulfills that requirement, but you can definitely give it a try over on our YouTube channel, Facebook page, and Twitter! And hot damn, our blog is funny too.

If you haven't already, why not take a moment to subscribe to our YouTube channel? We hear it makes you more virile. Here, we'll make it easy:

Subscribe to me on YouTube

Now let's digress!

Poor Sweet Kevin

The Brink Of Tears

jordanmca

rock of love

She held the bar at chin-level, shuddering like a seasoned alcoholic suffering from fresh withdrawal. The weight on the other end of the contraption seemed immense to the point of metaphor. It carried the realized burden of her fears and insecurities and every unkind word she had ever spoken against herself. As she slowly looked to her right she saw a woman of comparable size completely outstretched - hanging on to an identical bar with only the tips of her fingers. She knew if she could hold out for only a second more than her opponent she would prevail while the other hurtled down 20 stories, screaming in defeat. "I can do this," she thought. "A stranger looks at me and only sees weakness at first glance. But they are wrong. I am strong." And with that last thought a well of strength arose in her and she felt her shaking arms steady. As she dared to open her eyes and take stock of her opponent, she watched the adversary let loose the bar. And in an instant the challenger disappeared down the side of the building - only leaving behind the shriek of defeat. For the first time in her life, she had won. She could have held on to the bar for an eternity - strengthened only by her pride - but it was no longer called for. And as she released the weight from her grasp she released her self-loathing and savored every last millisecond of plummeting 200 feet. Immunity...

And then I ALMOST shed a tear. I do that a lot. And not just while watching The Biggest Loser. It can happen during The Bachelor, SYTYCD, Diners Drive-Ins and Dives. Sometimes it will happen when I'm looking at a piece of art...or a screensaver. I mean, what's wrong with me? Am I pregnant?

Do you blame me?

Like many man-boys, I spent my early puberty perfecting fart jokes in an attempt to ignore the fact that a crazy whirlpool of feelings had taken up permanent residence in my gut. Crying was out of the picture. No way, no how. And after years of not-crying practice it was as if I didn't even remember what it was like to cry. As if the organs it took to kick off the whole affair had become vestigial.

But then I started doing grown-up things: moving 3000 miles away, paying income taxes, trying and failing, trying and failing again, trying and failing again again, abruptly succeeding in ways I didn't expect, watching my wife walk down the aisle. And suddenly, crying seemed more appropriate - even if the mechanics of it had been long lost to some strange, personal forced-evolution.

Stop crying or I'll hit you with this stick.

These days it's very rare that I can bring forth a full-on cry. It more often pops up as a throat lump. And as I get older I actually find that I've started to crave that feeling. It's like a wet rag that wipes the emotional slate clean. And, dude, I get my fix in the absolute weirdest places. Like I find myself pulling up the closing number of the 1979 Bob Fosse autobiographical fantasy film All That Jazz on YouTube just to let the pure imginativeness of it all wash over me and overwhelm my creativity-meter until there's a rock solid lump in my throat. How did that guy come up with such a fantastic, narcissistic freak fest? It's amazing. I've never even seen that movie all the way through, but just the immense idea of the whole thing makes me teary.

Bye Bye Dignity

Crying is like the perfect expression of all emotions wrapped up into one. At the same time, it can be sad, fearful, happy, hilarious, proud, surprised, scared, in love, out of love, Rock of Love.

Permanently Ashamed

Why then can't I just let 'er rip and turn on the water works every week or so to cleanse my palette? Why can't we all just do it whenever we want? I'm sure the world would be a better place if we all had a designated cry time every Sunday at 7 pm.

I suppose it's just that everyone has their hang ups and we're all too damn busy to break down and admit what a mess we are on such a regular schedule. But I imagine that if I continue at my current rate, I'll break the cry-barrier somewhere around the birth of my first child and proceed on that path until I'm nothing but a blithering idiot by his or her college graduation. Which is the perfect age, incidentally, for me to be past embarrassment and onto embarrassing; bestowing upon my progeny a world of their own hang ups about crying.

Mad Blood

Jordan McArthur

Mad Blood

Did anyone else think that Michelle Obama presenting the best picture award at the Oscars was totally weird? Do all our public figures have to be connected to Hollywood in some way? Has the American Dream boiled down to a voyeuristic viewing of one's life 24 hours a day by millions? Has our nation become nothing more than a breeding ground for the motion picture industry? Does every single person in America have an original screenplay in their back pocket?

Yes.

And today you can join Theo as he hesitantly broaches the subject of his million dollar idea with Preston. And we've copyrighted it, by the way. So don't get any big ideas.

Speaking of attention-whoring and screenplay writing - did we mention we have 4 other episodes? You can watch them on our Episodes page or check out our YouTube channel (subscribe while you're there!). Every week more people are discovering The Digressions. So if you're new, welcome! Get on the horn and share that crap! Tweet it to yo mama. And if you're one of our loyal followers, we owe you a big fatty. Creative interpretations encouraged.

Now here's Episode 5 - Mad Blood.

Mad Blood