Wednesday, May 20, 2009

LA Is Strange

I went out to a bar last night with my friend C and my cousin N. Nothing particularly swanky. A dive bar. The kind of bar where, if you go up to the pool table and plug in some quarters, you'll be approached by a guy named OP challenging you to a game (I held my own). Not too bad.

After a few beers, the three of us got to talking, and I threw out the following nonsense theoretical question: Given that he is presumably more famous, richer and successful with people of his chosen gender of interest than you will ever be, would you want to be Steven Seagal? -- accepting that you would have to live your life as the washed-out star of such horrible action movies as Fire Down Below and Under Siege 2 (tagline: "It's exactly like the first movie - but on a train!").

We debated this question for a little bit (general consensus: "No. Why the hell would I want to be Steven Seagal?") before being interrupted by an onlooker. Apparently, said woman's boyfriend used to be Steven Seagal's chauffeur, and she proceeded to regale us at length with a story of her boyfriend getting pulled over for speeding only to be waved on when the officer realized who his passenger was.

I suppose this made us something like three steps removed from Mr. Seagal, so not the most direct connection. But still. Strange coincidence.


  1. Wellll I'm not sure I would mind being a washed-out star so much; just 'cuz it's what you're known for doesn't mean it has to define you to you, and the nice pile of money could be fun.

    Also, he's a Tulku and gets to pal around with lamas -- I'm sure that's a kick. I actually have vague memories of him coming and visiting here when I was a kid:

    So your SS# was already 3 or 4. Weird, huh?

    P.S. Allow me to leave you with this most excellent line that has stuck with me (regrettably) since early childhood: "I missed. I never miss. They must be smaller than I thought."

  2. Oh, man! I totally forgot The Seagal was a reincarnated Lama! That totally changes my vote!

    "I'm going to take you to the bank. The blood bank!"

  3. The answer is an easy "no" for me. If I were to suddenly be transmogrified into Steven Segal, than presumably I would suddenly inhabit his body, which at this point is fifty seven years old.

    He is over thirty years older than me. If I were to suddenly become Steven Segal, I would lose the experience of being a thirtysomething, a fortysomething, and most of being a fiftysomething. That's not something I'm willing to forgo. The question is basically "Do you want to become instantly old, with life expectancy zooming at you?" No, absolutely not. I'd prefer to have a future of my own making.

  4. SonicLlama, that's a good point, and actually a (admittedly: silly, embarrassing) mental exercise I'll use when I'm feeling depressed and unaccomplished: no matter how much someone has achieved and how awesome they are, I wouldn't trade places if it meant losing more than about, oh, 5 years. Simply being alive and young really is one of the best things ever.

    Of course, when I'm old, if I still don't stack up, I'll be bitter as hell. But soon after that, I'll be dead, so at least it won't last too long. :)

    Anyway, to make the question more interesting, would you transmogrify into the young SS?

    (Oh, hey, also, does SS get to choose his reincarnation again when he dies, in his belief system? That's got to be a significant comfort to him, if he believes that.)

  5. You know, Erin, I've done the same mental exercise.

    Anyway, let's go through this, irrespective of the age thing.

    I'm going to assume that I retain my own mental layout, and suddenly inhabit the body of a 28 year old Steven Segal. If I were to "become" him and have only his memories, beliefs, mental quirks, etc., I would consider that a loss of self and wouldn't do it.

    Let's look at some of the advantages-

    Sex: Presumably, Steven Segal can have all kinds of sex with lots of people on a regular basis. Sounds nice. However, I've been fairly satisfied with my sex life thus far. I've gotten to sleep with some pretty awesome people, and, barring horrid disfigurement or the institution of an odious personal trait, will probably continue to do so.

    Now, I like fucking smart, interesting people. The kind of people with whom you can have a good conversation with after having a go with them. I'm going to go out on a limb here and assume that the sort of people who found Under Siege 2 to be an erotic experience generally aren't all that incredible, brain-wise. A steady flow of floozies would be viscerally satisfying, but probably not mentally so.

    If I had the choice between having sex with seven standard-issue blond chicks versus two hot nerdy girls, I'd pick the two hot nerdy girls. On this issue, I'd stay me.

    Money: This is actually more tempting for me than the sex part. When I fantasize about money, I think about paying off my student loans and being able to travel more. However, one need not be Steven Segal to do that. I fully intend to do both of those things in the near future, and if I get a government job like I'm planning to I'll be able to afford a reasonable amount of travel and other amenities.

    Luxuries and white elephants don't really appeal to me. I don't know what I'd do with, say, an exotic pet or an expensive bit of statuary, and don't really want the responsibility of either one. The only thing that I'd really want to do with massive gobs of money would be bankroll political causes that I find worthy, and I don't think Steven Segal has enough money to personally tip the scales in an election.

    Nevertheless, it would be nice to get those student loans paid off. Steven Segal wins this round.

    Fame: Segal's fame is a strike against him, but there is the possibility of rebranding. John Travolta was rescued from an eternity as a disco hunk by Pulp Fiction, so there is always the possibility that washed-up actors can have a movie where they really nail it and get interesting again. I don't know if I'm a good enough actor to do that, though, and don't know if I would like acting enough to try. On this issue, I stay me.

    The last issue, though, is the most important one. Assuming that I were to become Steven Segal, there would be no entity holding the place of what is now known as "Joe." The fact of the matter is, I like myself too much to abandon me. I don't like Steven Segal very much, and would probably just go "hmm" for a moment or so if I were to read of his tragic death. So, for reasons of self-love, ego, and enjoyment of Joe-ness, I stay me.

    Oh ,Philosophy 101, you can be so much fun sometimes...

  6. That is really strange...both the original conversation and the commentary and the fact that someone who actually sort of knew SS showed up in the middle of said original conversation. Strange...very strange...