Monday, September 1, 2014

CRUSHES OF PUBERTY

I turned 12 the summer of 1988, which I guess that means I am a child of the '80s, but what it really means (important for this article) is that I was a teenager of the '90s. My puberty coincided with a nice sea change in pop culture, when it was okay for a lovely young leading lady to be dressed like this in a major motion picture...
... as opposed to this ...

And so it was that Pop Culture and the many interests of my brain conspired with my genitals, and gave me a variety of crushes to occupy my guts. I loved punk rock, science fiction and fantasy, and dark comedy. I read about the Illuminati, haunted hotels, and demihumans wielding swords, and watched religiously anything that involved sketch comedy or superheroes. Comic books and role-playing games ruled everything around me.

These were the things that consumed my brain-space, and as such the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue held no sway. I could care less about Madonna, or Daisy Duke, or the ladies of 90210, or whatever else was jumpstarting the average American male libido in the late 1980s. What follows are the crushes that grabbed me by the heartstrings and made me blush as a youth.

KIM DEAL
SURFER ROSA was released in 1988. I don't know if I owned it right then and there, but I definitely remember purchasing it on cassette while bumming a ride to the mall, one town over, with some older friends, at some point in my junior high days. I guess everyone had a crush on Kim Deal. It was a thing.

SAMANTHA MATHIS IN "PUMP UP THE VOLUME"
I remember this movie being mostly terrible with a pretty good soundtrack. For dudes like myself, she was basically the Platonic Ideal of the perfect girlfriend. That bobbed haircut with bangs that she had was a really popular item among girls who liked Einst├╝rzende Neubauten in 1990, right? 

THE OLDEST SISTER IN "UNCLE BUCK"
She was all surly and sassy and while not goth, per say, she certainly dressed in some somber tones and had a morbid attitude. I remember she wore a lot of sweaters with tights/skirts/flats, tights/skirts/boots combos in that movie. That was a good look. That's still a good look.

SUSANNA HOFFS
This is such a classic I don't know that it even needs to be mentioned. The best thing about Susanna Hoffs is that she is still absolutely crush-worthy. Dig this.

She will still be crush-worthy when we are all dead and gone to the cold cold grave. She is an epic-level crush for the ages. She is from Olympus.

THE WAITRESS FROM "THE MUPPETS TAKE MANHATTAN"
This movie came out in 1984, so I imagine I saw it on video at some point in my early adolescence, likely rentedin  one of those big "clamshell" cases where the corners and edges got all dusty and you couldn't ever clean them properly. She was cute as the dickens and a quick google search tells us that she went on to do a lot of STAR TREK work. I APPROVE.

Honestly, she wasn't much of a character, just a cute face to make Piggy jealous. But she wore a pretty awesome baggy flannel shirt, in the one scene where she wasn't dressed like Alice from THE BRADY BUNCH. Or Alice from ALICE.

KIRSTIE ALLEY IN "STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KAHN"
I don't think enough is said about how awesome Kirstie Alley is in this movie. So much more needs to be said. It deserves a WHEEL OF TIME length dissertation. She is PHENOMENAL.

She went on to be super foxy on CHEERS, and in a handful of movies, but she really did the most damage on the bridge of the Enterprise. Rewatching this movie as an adult person, I notice that there's an entire running theme about how all the old dudes of the crew lust after her, like old leches. And rightly so... she's spectacular.

UMA THURMAN IN "DANGEROUS LIASONS"
I don't even know where to start with this one.

I have no idea why I saw this movie when I did; I guess my mom thought it was a costume drama of the literary ilk, and I suppose it is. But where my mom was incorrect was in assuming that people in powdered wigs had no interest in non-stop fucking. So this movie probably seemed like a boring costume drama, when in fact it was a boring costume drama with John Malkovich and bare boobies.

My high school theater teacher was a cruel, entitled piece of filth; the type of guy who wore turtlenecks under oxfords and had hair that was just shaggy enough to say "I like the Grateful dead, but I also grew up going to expensive New England prep schools". He was a never-was of the highest order, and his raging bitterness snuck out here and there. For example,  when I mentioned how great John Malkovich was in this movie, he spat back "Anyone working on Uma Thurman is going to work pretty fucking hard."

Despite that bizarre review of the film, I thought it was quite awesome, with everyone involved dropping some great performances. Uma's role in particular required a startling character arc, and her stellar mix of naivety, innocence, and lust, mixed with a perfect body (a PERFECT body), and eyes that stared right through your sad, pale pre-adolecent husk of a body... it 's almost too much to handle. This movie may have started her on the path to being a huge star, but in my opinion, she never topped this one. Beyond all of that, this movie appeared before my eyes at just the right time to make me fall for these wishes on the wall, as the song says.

So there it is. The greatest of ladies from the late 1980s. According to my puberty. Puberty crushes are awesome.

Friday, August 15, 2014

COMPLAINING ABOUT COFFEE SHOPS





beatniks ruined everything

Living in Brooklyn, as I do, one is surrounded by coffee shops. They all tend to blend into one entity, spread across blocks like identical spores from the same fungus. There are the same mismatched dishes, trays of artisanal pastries, and jars of loose tea. A clone of the same slightly overweight, bearded, greasy indie rock fan is always making bagels and sandwiches behind the counter. However variety does exist in the details. Two shops that look like twins sitting on opposite sides of the same block can have wildly different personalities, or at the very least, one will have less sticky tabletops than the other. People get attached to their favorite coffee shops and they become an important part of your daily routine.

I don't care. Complaining about coffee shops is cathartic. It is worthwhile. It is awesome.

(This post was written in 2011.) 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

A podcast I was on

Check it out.

I was a guest on "Jason Sims Puts You In Your Place" which is super flattering, as it is one of my favorite podcasts.

Jason is a good dude and people should subscribe to his podcast, which is wildly interesting and typically has much better guests than I.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

INSOLES

Much like ALKA-SELTZER and good shower-heads, replaceable insoles are an item I came to appreciate far too late in life.

I placed too much faith in those who designed shoes. I assumed they knew what they were doing. Boy, was I wrong. People who design shoes spend an awful lot of time mixing mesh and suede, and deciding where lace-holes go. They make treads that look like Navajo rugs and  no doubt give hours to arguing the width of decorative stripes. An insider in Big Shoe told me that deciding whether or not the side of the sole had a raised logo or not caused weeks of debate.

All of this fuss over shoe designs, yet when it comes to the insole, it's usually just an unfinished piece of particle board. If you buy an athletic shoe, maybe you get a thin piece of burlap for cushion. This is no way to live.

Any corner drug store will have a supply of insoles, and suddenly you go from a Roman Empire era religious zealot traipsing across the rocky shores of Galilee in thin sandals to a middle aged playboy in the 1970's wearing calfskin slippers on a shag carpet. And only calfskin slippers. 

My job occasionally requires me to be on my feet for 10-18 hours at a time on the concrete floors of convention centers across the nation; floors that have been hard-baked by years of fluorescent lighting and pounded firm by the steamroller feet of a million drunken salesmen and sales rep and sales directors, all burning calories like coal furnaces trying to shuffles appliance fixtures or medical waste disposal systems to and fro between themselves. In the few years I have been on the convention circuit, I have slowly learned to always have a few items on hand and ready to go. The first is a full, cold water bottle, easily refillable and wide-mouthed like a mason jar. I will chug away at that cold wet stuff like a hillbilly drinking Coors. The second is cash, in large bills, as convention center ATMs are rare and expensive, and you never know when you will find a HOWARD THE DUCK 7/11 Slurpee cup from 1977 in Near Mint condition that you need to own immediately. (Trust me on this one, I've been in those particular trenches.) The third is insoles, trimmed and fitted into whatever stylish footwear you managed to remember to pack. Your feet will spend the rest of your life thanking you, if you always remember number three.

One year for Christmas I thought it would be a great idea to treat all of my friends to this amazing discovery, and wrapped up several dozen sets of orthopedic gel insoles in bright wrapping paper with little snowmans. This was truly going to be the best Christmas ever. Suffice it to say, everyone looked at me like the Grandmother they secretly don't really love. I might as well have given them tube socks or walnuts. All the odd looks and low appreciation paid off as the years passed, however, and all of those ingrates eventually confided, secretly, in the days to come, that those insoles were the best present they received that year.

Because insoles are AWESOME.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

AQUARIUMS

 
i went to see fish and then i made a movie

I love the big aquariums. The kind with sharks. Where you might see crusty old dudes in scuba gear scrubbing the glass, surrounded by catfish. Pira├▒a and whatnot. Octopi.

(I also like zoos and aviaries.)

Hell, small, apartment appropriate aquariums are pretty cool too. When little kids have a tiny tank with neon betas swimming around, and they get all proud and proprietary...

That's pretty awesome.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

MY BAG

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With the coming global super-collapse, and an extra-dimensional Lovecraftian apocalypse on the horizon, I believe it's important to prepare for an every-man-for-himself post-Rapture world. Much like Mad Max, all we will have to survive is the companionship of a mangy dog, and what we can carry on our person.

Knowing that this is what we all face, I have been acclimating myself to carrying a "go bag", with all the things I might need within. I am getting vital practice in shifting my center of gravity to accommodate an extra 40 pounds on one side, and developing shoulder callouses for the long march across the Wasteland, looking for clean water among the ruins.

My bag is a standard issue Brooklyn Industries Messenger bag. It is nondescript, but functional. Waterproof, spacious, and sturdy. I would recommend this model. I have no reservations in such a statement.

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POCKET ONE

This pocket contains a small pair of wool cloves, fingerless. An iphone charger. Eyeglass repair equipment. Advil and alka-seltzer (see previous article). A chapped lip therapy item. A padlock. The padlock is for my gym locker, but I keep it in my bag all the time because Dungeons & Dragons has taught me that it is always handy to have a padlock nearby. So far I have only used for my aforementioned gym locker.

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POCKET TWO

The other side of the bag is where I keep my pens, a Mag Lite brand flashlight, an extendable magnet, a Victorinox brand Swiss Army Multi-tool, a notepad, eight feet of coiled rope, and a small (but comprehensive) First-Aid kit. People routinely mock the rope and First-Aid kit, but those are easily the most frequently deployed items that other people need. Then they feel like Big Jerks for mocking me. I am a hero in those instances, just because I had a Band-Aid. A HERO.

MAIN POCKET:

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Art Supplies. I don't draw for fun as much as I used to, but I do try.

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A net-book and charger. This will not be as useful after the fall of civilization.

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A novel (in this case, I am re-reading A ROOM WITH A VIEW by E.M. Forster), a sketchbook (again, I don't draw for pleasure as much as I used to, but carrying a sketchbook everywhere is a habit I probably won't ever be able to break), and a bandana. Bandanas are super useful. I always have a clean one handy, if possible.

This bag has carried biking supplies (extra inner-tubes, pumps, chain), water-bottles, granola bars, smelly gym clothes, extra shoes, shower and hygeine kit, comic books, prophylactics, tupperware filled with meals, sewing kit, keys, and anything else that might seem prudent in my many adventures. It keeps me prepared for the thousand little obstacles that face us between bed, sidewalk, train, bridge, sidewalk, gym, work, leisure, train, and back to bed. I feel naked without it. Fully nude, with my stuff on display, like some filthy animal.

And when the Great Old Ones come back from their waking slumber in the Outer Dark, witness the final battle between the God of Thunder, and Jormungandr the Midgard Serpent (he who eats the roots of Yggsdrasdil the world tree, since the dawn of time), and destroy us all in flame and desolation, I will be prepared to face the Cursed Earth, if I am unlucky enough to survive.

The Freemasons will have won their ongoing struggle to bring about the dawn of their three-headed tribulation god, and be distracted with Revelry. They will not help you. The Republicans will retreat to their ant-farm of bomb shelters, eventually starving after they allow the one remaining billionaire to eat all of their canned food, and the Democrats will be torn asunder in the indecision of trying to please everyone. The Bavarian Illuminati watch everything from the Dark Side of the Moon, after they are rescued by the Mothmen. They will not help you. There is only yourself to count on. So pack well, my friends. You will probably want a sword.

My bag is awesome.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

THE MANY BEACHES OF NEW YORK CITY



I have never considered myself a "beach person", in the traditional sense. Surfing seems like an alien pursuit, I rarely wear bermuda shorts, and I do not tan. I was raised hours inland, nestled in the hilly bosom of this Great Land's Appalachian expanse. Before moving, at age 18, to the Coastal regions of Our Splendid Republic, I could count my trips to the ocean on one hand.

I am still a human person, however, and the allure of sunshine, surf, sand, salty air, and scantily clad ladies is not lost on me. I am not cold-blooded. I have a heart. I understand that these are good things. My robot brain allows me some small pleasures in this life. Not all that is good turns to dust and ashes in my mouth. I like the beach.

New York is the city where I live, and it is a city that I know things about. I have spent many desperate hours exploring this stupid place, particularly Brooklyn, home of the Cyclones, Paul Giamatti, and Uncle Louie G's. (It is also, in recent months, the home of more single speed bicycles than I ever thought possible. The ride of choice among people with oversized sunglasses, tattoos of birds, and tight pants, these inefficient things vex me at every turn. It's okay to shift gears, you guys. Your calves and thighs will thank you for breaking convention with your peers this one time. Also, enough with the expensive, artisanal versions of shit like popsicles and pickles and doughnuts. And can we cool it in general with the arts and crafts already?)

Brooklyn is not primarily known for its beaches. College kids with cocaine in their ironic mustaches, and Mos Def probably top the list, while Coney Island is maybe in the top twenty. It is a disgusting beach, but if you like your swimming to come hand in hand with funnel cake tummy aches and Russian men with a pelt of back hair, it probably will quench your thirst.

Brighton Beach has less fried dough and other junk foods, and way more Russians. There is no better way to remind oneself of the fierce strength of the USSR's military than to go to Brighton Beach and see the multitude of amputees. Between the gorgeous girls with amazing nails and the hardcore men missing limbs, this beach is less about suntanning and swimming and more about mad respect for our former Cold War adversaries.

Rockaway Beach is on the Brooklyn end of Queens, and relatively easily accessible from both Boroughs. It is notable for it's proximity to Rockaway Tacos, which has earned a well-deserved reputation as being a destination joint for the best tacos on the east coast. With a belly full of tacos, Rockaway is mostly clean and wide and good for finding space to hang out. It is also on the same peninsula as Jacob Reis beach, which is a great spot that is usually not crazy crowded, and has some cool old municipal buildings, if you are into the architecture of old military facilities and whatnot. (Who isn't?)

There are more things to say but I am bored of this topic. Summer is almost over. It is better to enjoy beaches than write about them. Nevertheless, New York has some beaches that are awesome.