Monday, January 19, 2015

A Moment of Reflection in NYC

Somewhere Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is looking down and smiling upon the realization that on the date that honors his legacy, people of all races, colors and creeds, the old and the young, Jews and gentiles, are all gathered together; following the same path, undertaking the same journey, while waiting online outside Momofuku- eagerly awaiting their overpriced brunch.

We may not have reached the mountain top yet, but we are on our way.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Corey Feldman Ascends the Millennium and Blows my Cranium.

6 Ridiculously Bizarre Things about the Most Ridiculous Video of the Summer:

If you think Miley Cyrus’ recent work is insulting to your sense of taste then you probably haven’t seen the video Corey Feldman released this summer that left me feeling like my brain had been twerked by a dancer in the Baby Got Back video.

Corey Feldman releasing a pop song in 2013 makes as much sense as Marty Feldman posing for a spread in Playgirl in 1973. "Ascension Millennium" makes David Hasselhoff’s “Looking For Freedom” sound like “Let it Be” in comparison. It will probably end up being used by the military to force terrorists and ousted dictators out of their compounds; or be embraced as a work of genius by the French. But, the song is the least memorable thing about the video. It’s the video that is so bizarrely ridiculous that it forces you to watch it for a second and third time like a child who can’t stop touching an electrical socket. In no particular order, here are six ridiculously bizarre things about Ascension Millennium (otherwise known as A Day in the Life of Ivan Hasbeenovich.) 

6. Corey’s pool is sponsored by an energy drink. 

Feldman’s pool area is sponsored by the energy drink Neon. In the world of the video, Corey is enjoying a typical day in Feldmandia, in which the camera follows him throughout his home after he wakes up next to a sexy woman in lingerie and struts his way along an existential journey of self discovery that takes him all the way to the pool area and back.
There are branded tents set up all over the pool scene with the Neon logo on it as if the brand is sponsoring Coachella and not Corey Feldman’s pool party. Signage at Corey’s pool during this video is probably a great way to reach the all-important Corey Feldman fan/ energy drink drinking demographic.

5. The Title: Ascension Millennium. 

It is possible that Ascension Millennium is an allegory representing man’s evolution into “Feld-man.”  It is possible that Feldman thinks it is 1999 and the millennium is a current topic but as evidence of his raiding Michael Jackson’s closet, it doesn’t seem likely.  It’s more likely that he just liked how the words Millennium and Ascension sort of rhyme when sung repeatedly and creepily, throughout the video.  It could be that he wrote this song thirteen years ago and had the foresight to realize that it wouldn’t be properly received until YouTube was created. Society probably has not ascended enough since the millennium to truly appreciate Ascension Millennium.

4.  Corey’s Angels. 

The video begins with Corey waking up next to Scantily Clad Hot Babe #1, who is in lingerie and we are to assume he just shared a sweet, sweet night of spooning with.  After he puts on a robe, ala Heff, she opens the shade to let in the light, exposing the fabulous playboy life of Corey Feldman. 

Corey then takes a quick shower to freshen up for his day of preening and prancing around his home and is escorted down the stairs by Scantily Clad Hot Babe #2 (I wonder if their agent told them they were doing a pilot for The Girls Next Door 2: The New Batch.) The two women have become angels but it’s unsure if they are stripper angels or angel strippers. The whole sequence in the video comes off more like a sweet dream from the Suite Life of Zach and Cody as opposed to a morning at Mick Jagger’s house.

3.  The Michael Jackson video dance sequence. 

Hopefully, this video was intended to be a goofy homage to Michael Jackson’s 1980's videos but the perpetual scowl on Corey Feldman’s face throughout the video is confusing, it appears that he might be taking it seriously. The actors hired to join an impromptu dance with Feldman move like they got the job by picking tabs off a flier in a Laundromat and no one seems to be in synch.
Feldman has obviously spent years awkwardly mimicking Michael Jackson’s moves from the Bad video and his dancing in Millennium Ascension is reminiscent of the “Josh Fenderman” dance from the classic sketch series Mr. Show with Bob and David. That sketch was a parody of a Corey Feldmanesque child star that appeared in such classic films as The Goober Patrol.

2.  Corey Feldman’s appearance makes you want to shout Jamon.

In this video, Feldman looks like an If they Made it/ genetic clone of Michael Jackson and Crispin Glover (in the movie, A River’s Edge.)  Actually, he looks more like a cross between Blanket Jackson and Crispin Glover.  He also has a constant intense, almost constipated look on his face that brings to mind one of the Gremlins.   Although, When Feldman puts on that black hat and starts dancing, you are momentarily brought back to a time when it was ok for a skinny, pasty faced man to be dancing in a studded black jacket, wearing a white t-shirt and black leather pants. Unfortunately, that time was around 1987 and you had to actually be Michael Jackson to pull it off.

1. Celebrity cameo by Sean Astin. 

Yes Goonies fans, Sean Astin was somehow convinced to make an appearance in Millennium Ascension. Mr. Astin probably had some time off from living a normal life and made a special appearance in this video in which he seems to have dropped by the house for a visit. The fact that he hands Feldman a rolled up piece of paper that is supposed to be Chester Copperpot’s treasure map is definitely a WTF moment.  If you’re going to have a mini Goonies reunion, why not go all out and hire Jeff Cohen, the man who played Chunk as a boy, to put on a flowered shirt and do the Truffle Shuffle?

 There was one cute moment in the video when Feldman tosses an inhaler over his shoulder to Astin.  Sean Astin comes off as the only down-to-Earth guy in Feldman’s heavenly soft-core B-movie/rock star fantasy. You will have a hard time just watching Ascension Millennium one time as it is bizarrely entertaining at first but you might need an inhaler or an oxygen tank, or some medicinal marijuana to jump start your brain after multiple views as you temporary descend into delirium. 

 If only Corey Feldman’s creepy visage in Ascension Millennium could be melted from my mind as easily as Gremlins were destroyed by water.  There is a reason I only wrote six ridiculous things about this video because coming up with a more appropriate 44 more things would have meant watching it a few more times.  I felt like the guy sitting next to Ted Striker in Airplane, soaked in gasoline and holding a match, after compulsively watching it over and over like I had accidentally come across a porn tape of my 8th grade principal and Kris Jenner dressed up in furry costumes.   

 Listening to Ascension Millennium repeatedly again and again over a two or three-hour period  dissolved an all-important musical taste bud away from my Gene Simmons’ length rock-loving tongue.  The portion of my mind that appreciates music was temporarily fried like a car with an overheated radiator and It took some time before I could differentiate between Van Morrison and Rick Astley. 

The only ascension I want to be doing in the near future is getting ahead of the millennial girls on the line at my local bagel store making their complicated flagel orders. That's a typical beginning to a typical day in my life that I gladly embrace and that oddly enough doesn't involve high-fiving a12-year old Michael Jackson look-alike hanging out by the conveniently placed energy drink signage in my pool area. (Unfortunately, I don't even have a pool, much less a pool area. Living in Manhattan, I'd be happy with just the area.)   I will now gladly move on to my next story and enjoy every aspect of getting back to life, back to reality.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Funny Makes the World Go Round

For the past hour at Starbucks I have been unintentionally sitting in on a meeting between two girls at a table  next to me talking about a project they are excitedly working on (and by girls I mean that they were roughly between the ages of 21- 23.) They seem to believe that their creation is a work of genius that deserves to be applauded, which for men over 40 is a feeling only expressed when one leaves behind a perfectly oblong football shaped BM in the bowl- laces included- and we feel a tinge of sadness that no one is there to confirm its majesty.

They seem to be writing something on women in comedy but they are terribly over-analyzing the sociological aspects of women in society and getting excited over the all the points they are hitting; such as expounding on the biology of the female body and its effect on women performing on stage; all in compiling their numerous theories on what goes into making female comedians funny.  I feel like they not only don't understand funny but they might not understand women either.

Funny is funny. You can debate whether women are funnier than men (they probably are- between shooting a human out of their birth canal and having to deal with the fumbling and pedestrian male body sexually, I’m amazed that every woman doesn’t think exactly like Tina Fey or Sarah Silverman); or whether female comedians have it harder than male comedians in terms of audience perception and less opportunities in a historically male dominated profession. What these girls don’t understand is that funny is funny.

Funny isn’t something that needs to be analyzed and put into a dissertation as if you were in a Women’s Studies course, which is what I hope they are working on.  Sure, being funny is a muscle that needs to be exercised and you don’t become as successful as Louis CK or Kristin Wig without the proper experience, just like Bruce Jenner didn’t win the decathlon without spending years running and training on the track.  (He also didn’t hold onto what’s remaining of his sanity this long without spending years on his couch tuning out his wife and family.)

There’s no mystery to unravel in why women, or men are funny and I would think looking at things from an analytical perspective doesn’t make for an entertaining read.  Comparing and contrasting Janine Garafalo’s stand-up-mannerisms with that of Ellen or Zach Galifianakis is not going to leave you with a mathematical equation solution to what makes women funny. E does not Equal Funny Squared, unless E is MC Hammer dancing, while on ‘e,’ in square pants.

I feel like women get this and most girls do too, funny or otherwise. It is just bothering me that these particular girls are so gung ho over all their Sociology 201 type theories. I really want to chime in and it’s not because one of them looks like she should be an intern at a fashion magazine. For one thing, I feel like I’m sitting in on their creative brainstorming session, which is always one of the weirdest things about being in a Starbucks, as they have become conference rooms-on-the-go for people.  Another thing is they don’t sound like they’re funny people, much less comedy nerds. They were researching the names of comedians that someone writing about comedy should know.

I remember the first time I saw George Carlin’s Carlin on Campus as a kid and it was like a light shown down on me sitting on the edge of my Formica coffee table in my family’s den, offering me another way to look at words and making me appreciate my dad’s sarcastic nature even more.  I must have worn out that homemade VHS tape like a broken cassette of Billy Joel’s Glass Houses that could be found in every home in 1982.

Unlike Billy Joel’s music, I never got sick of George Carlin’s comedy and I have thought of Carlin's brilliant use of language during everyday moments throughout my life (like when I googled synonyms for "shit" for this post which reminds me of Carlin's brilliantly hilarious point that "You don't take a shit, you leave a shit.")  So, the more I listen to these girls talk about comedy in an unfunny way, the more it’s beginning to bother me.  After an hour of listening to their theories notes and data compilation, I feel like Bea Arthur’s Dorothy in the Golden Girls after listening to one too many of Rose’s stories about St. Olaf. I wish I had “You’re killin’ me” tattooed on one palm and “Smalls” tattooed on the other.

 I want to hone my inner Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society and ask them to step on their desks and rip out their Pritchard handbook to measuring comedic reasoning.  I want to ask them to close their eyes and imagine them waking up next to a strange guy in Brooklyn (whose hairy back is only surpassed by his hairy front) after a night of drinking and tell them how to quickly describe the scenario of finding their bra that’s disappeared into the abyss of the mess that is this guy’s bedroom; without waking him or his roommates up.

As they slowly describe a madcap walk of shame dash to find a cab, they begin to see the light and even ask me to pull their finger. To my surprise, this releases an End Of Days level air biscuit that rips across the Starbucks like a Tsunami knocking down the male barista with the goatee and no chin, sending his lip ring flying across the floor, like he was Naomi Watts on an Indonesian vacation.

 If I hear one of them say they are getting paid for their work and that this is going to end up in Teen Vogue  or Time Out New York or even Time Out West New York, I'm going to smash my underpaid hand on my desk, spilling my drink all over my crotch while whimpering like a frustrated child before running out of the Starbucks with my arms flailing in pure spastic (Phoebe from friends) style only to get sprayed by a puddle of  water from a passing bus that has Lena Dunham and the cast of Girls staring back at me in an ad on its side as it pulls away from my “New Girl in the City” momentary breakdown.  Now, that would be funny.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

More Tales From the Dark Coffee Side

Oh coffee, my coffee.  I have forsaken my local Starbucks and taken the bean less traveled and that has made all the difference. I’m sitting at the new Coffee Bean that opened close to my apt. which has unshackled me from my local Starbucks' magnet like hold on my looking-for-work-week/freelance soul and offered me a more comfortable, less cramped but similar outlet to plug into.  I am currently watching the steam rise up from a cup of tea that a girl has asked me to watch while she attends to whatever business she has been attending to for the past few minutes.

It has been ten minutes now and the steam in her cup has fluttered away along with my attention to my own work as I lift my head to notice the apple beacon facing me from her laptop and seemingly looking down on my Netbook with a brightness and an air of superiority that seems to have Ironman qualities to it.  Although quite handy in size, my Netbook is a little dandy in terms of its tech capabilities and in terms of its super hero coolness factor, it probably rates somewhere between Aquaman and the guy who sells Silver Surfer his Mr. Zog’s sex wax.  

Actually, this Netbook is an upgrade over my old Netbook which I had spilled Chai tea latte on, which forced me to lug a wireless keyboard around with me just to use it, which made me look like a writer who is serious enough about his craft to carry a separate keyboard with him wherever he goes. This makes me even more approachable and the kind of guy who you might ask to watch your expensive personal belongings, which at a coffee shop is pretty much whoever is next to you.

There are a few people who you probably wouldn’t trust to follow the unwritten code of laptop users and coffee drinkers. I’m referring to those who are so "out there," they stand out among the many who hang out at Starbucks and seem disconnected while connecting online. Such as, the non subtle types who blurt out brief nonsensical conversations with themselves that gives people a glimpse into their universe, before returning to a silent, glossy-eyed gaze out the window for the next half hour.  For example:  “Ohhh. Yarlsburg cheese. I love Yarlsberg.” (Followed immediately by) “Ahhh. What!  Swiss! Swiss! Come on!”  

Ok, It has been another ten minutes and this pony tailed girl in the yoga pants, red hoodie and aviator sunglasses is nowhere to be found.  Is it possible that she’s just moved to another table with friends and she has just blended in with all the other cute girls wearing yoga pants, hoodies and aviator glasses that make up the Murray Hill matrix? Alas, that is not the case. As I nonchalantly look around the room, I do not see the distinguishable red hoodie and her laptop is still there, open no less, naked and inviting if you will, for anyone walking by to sit down for a minute and calmly walk away with it. Not to mention a full cup of lukewarm tea.

It’s not like I was taking my responsibility of guarding her tea and laptop seriously. I believe that if someone asks you to watch their laptop while they go to a bathroom in a coffee shop, they have also bestowed upon you the right to check/delete their emails and change their screen saver to puppies humping kittens.

Her disappearance has awoken my curiosity and senses more than the iced coffee I’m drinking. Just like Mr. Wolf in Pulp Fiction, I like my coffee Iight and sweet, but unlike Mr. Wolf, It would surely take me a hell of a lot longer than a half hour at 8 a.m. to organize the cleaning of brain and blood from the inside of a Chevy Nova.  It takes me about a half hour at that time just for my cell phone alarm’s horrifying combination of car screeching sounds, old fax machine dialing noises and early morning pigeon wails that create the right cacophony of irritating noises that pierces my subconscious’ dream du jour.

This may pry me out of one of my old standby dreams in which I’m floating over my old high school as the young Christina Appelgate (by young, I mean cute Christina with bangs from “Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead,” as opposed to the sexy mallrat/burnout late ‘80s look she personified in Married With Children)  waits for me wearing a prom dress and a look of nervous anticipation  before my doppelganger pulls up in a Clown Dog car and drives her away towards the beach as I grasp out and shout “Nohhhh. We’re supposed to watch the grunion run. That was my idea.”

As my voice fades into nothingness, I struggle to get out the words- ”Damnit, I’m right on top of her Rose…” I disappear into the clouds above, before emerging in my room, wiping the crust out of the corner of my sleep-weary eyes and rolling over on to the cell for another ten minutes of subconscious misadventures.

Another similarity to myself and the Mr. Wolf character is the fact that I do look pretty sharp in a tux and would love to wear it casually a few days a year, like when riding the subway with a messenger bag strapped across my cumber bun or when spending time on my laptop in the coffee shop my body currently resides in as my mind drifts.   

I had hoped the iced coffee would spark my brain cells to construct more than my usual early morning thoughts, which mostly consist of me noticing that the sky is once again blue or bastardizing the lyrics to the Brian Adams medley in the shower that has been in my head since 1985. I have been mashing “Cuts Like a Knife” with “I need Somebody” with “Summer of ‘69” with the theme song to St. Elmo’s Fire and Steve Perry’s “Oh Sherry” since before my voice had changed and I had grown my still countable, chest hair patch.

As I sit staring at the now-dimmed apple logo facing me from the laptop of the girl whom I have affectionately named Amelia Earhart, I catch myself bopping my head and whisper-singing to Howard Jones' "What is love?" The song is playing at the Coffee Bean at the exact same time as a college girl sitting at the table alongside me asked her friend "Why do they choose this music?" It’s a moment that causes a brief feeling of youthful embarrassment combined with a realization that I am indeed older than anyone in here who doesn’t look old.     

I do agree that choosing a playlist in a coffee shop in 2013 that is just '80s, '70s or ‘90s music is a lazy option that will not go over well after the first two cringe worthy songs are played and/ or the Verve Pipe song “Freshman” begins its depressing chorus.   But, that 1985 Howard Jones album was underrated at the time. His hair might have been as poofy as The Romantics and the Kajagoogoos of his New Wave ‘80s era but that Dream Into Action album was more than simple synth pop-forgettable fluff.

Those songs blend in very well with the more recent indie/new-new wave songs in my spotify playlist. You don’t need to have seen the comedy classic “Better Off Dead” to have the song “I’d like to get know you well” in your brain’s playlist ready to force you to click play whenever you hear it on the radio.

35 minutes into my watchdog duties and this girl is nowhere to be found. I’m seriously contemplating taking her laptop and leaving mine in its place.

“Heard it from a friend who… heard it from a friend who… heard it from a friend you were messing around...”  Damn you REO Speedwagon? Why must you force me t o sing along to your hauntingly sad lyrics?  Damn you.

I’m now in full blown observer mode and I notice a stunningly attractive girl with short hair come in to meet her friend, which normally would not register with me, except for the fact that they're both wearing page boy hats. That just seems like there was some sort of preparation involved, as if they texted in the morning to see if they both were wearing their identically uncommon hat that will enable them to uniquely stand out in the exact same way.

A vintage page boy hat seems like it would be a very specific article of clothing to wear when meeting up during a weekday in the most suburban part of the city. I guess it’s possible they both were grabbing a coffee before beginning their shift handing out newspapers to passersby and shouting “Get ya paper. Paper Mista. Read all about it. Al Jolsen to star in talkie.” Since we were not backstage at the musical Newsies or living in the 1930s, I have to assume that they face-timed in the morning before putting together their retro chic, hipster ensemble.

After my interest started waning in the very specific wardrobe choice of the two friends, I see a woman walk in with a take-out pizza box and begin to eat a greasy pepperoni slice. One of the baristas approaches her to inform her that she couldn’t eat non-kosher food there because they are a kosher establishment. Leading with the kosher thing seemed odd in her confrontational approach, as opposed to just saying, "Hey, you can't bring in outside food,” which wouldn’t prompt the "Seriously? Kosher Coffee?” response.

In true New York City fashion, the girl eating the pizza gets quickly enraged for no reason, as if she and her whole family were just insulted and actually gives the employee the finger for good effect before walking out in a huff. I’m surprisingly surprised and amused by her angered response. She obviously bought the pizza at one of the numerous pizza places in a 3 block radius of the Bean.  Why would she bring pizza to a coffee shop? 

She doesn't even have a laptop, so why wouldn't she just eat it at the pizza place and then come here. Not to mention the fact that pizza and coffee aren’t exactly two great tastes that taste great together. Of course the other oddity of the situation is the whole kosher establishment rule. Not only is all their pre-packaged salads and assorted muffins blessed by a rabbi but you can't eat non-kosher food of any kind, which now explains why I see so many orthodox Jews here. It's got the Schlomo seal of approval. This might also explain the two women with page boy hats and I briefly wonder if they’re the world’s only cool Hasidic women and if they party with Matisyahu after attending Shule.

Time after Time is playing now and Cindy Lauper’s voice brings my thoughts back to Amelia and to what Lost island of bizarre, interconnected existential  happenings she was taken into while being sucked down the toilet bowl in the Bean's bathroom.  She couldn’t possibly be in the bathroom for this long unless she was one of those teen moms who didn’t know she was pregnant and is giving birth on to her hoodie while hovering over the bowl. But, I had already seen people coming out of the bathroom, so I knew she wasn’t in there. It’s possible she went across the street to grab something and had to perform CPR on an old woman collapsing in front of her and was waiting for the EMT workers to arrive.

It is also possible she had to mail a letter and bumped into her old college boyfriend, (who she didn’t think lived in the city) on his way to work and the two of them sparked up a conversation that rekindled the passion they’ve always had for each other; as they impulsively rushed up to her place to rip each other’s clothes off and knock her headboard loose, all while keeping their current relationships a secret from each other that will ensure that they end up as two ships passing on 2nd avenue in the early morning. 

Alas, life is not a Nicholas Sparks book and this Amelia Earhart of Kips Bay is just as likely to be Wonder Woman who forgot where she parked her invisible plane or even more likely just someone who obliviously thinks the world revolves around her.

Just as I was actually beginning to get angry at her disappearance, as if it had tethered me to the chair I was in any more than my own desire to get out of my apartment and people watch had; she nonchalantly walks back in, sits back down, takes off her aviators and smiles at me. It was such a carefree, friendly smile that I completely forgot about the fact that I had just been obsessing over her whereabouts. I returned the smile instinctively and we exchanged a knowing nod. A song begins to play through the speakers overhead and I found myself singing “Do-do-do, do-do-do-doo.  Do-do-do, do-do-do-doo...” under my breath.

This time I wasn’t alone as the girl formerly known as Amelia Earhart began quietly singing and bopping her head at the same time as I did. I looked over at her and noticed for the first time she had a little gray and white dog that must have been in her bag and was now resting comfortably at her feet while its collar was being held in place under the chair’s leg.  As we both sang to ourselves and together I felt a wave of familiarity and kinship with the girl and her fluffy companion.

 We got louder and more animated as we belted out “The sky it was gold, it was rose, I was taking sips of it through my nose and I wish I could get back there someplace back there” and after both stumbling through the next line as the tempo picked up again we stopped, laughed and went about our business.

“Do-do-do, do-do-do-doo.  Do-do-do, do-do-do-doo...”

Monday, April 22, 2013

This Post Is No Longer Trending

The following post was conceived while the sports-watching nation winced simultaneously as Kevin Ware broke his leg awkwardly and painfully during the NCAA Tournament. I never quite got back into my initial thoughts for my story in the aftermath of the incident that at the time was analyzed like the Zapruder film of the Kennedy assassination; as I’m easily distracted by life.   

It’s only been a few weeks but I barely remember the Final Four and after this past week’s focus on the chaos in and around Boston delving into the ramifications of one basketball player’s broken leg seems pointless.  I am in no way intending to make a grand statement on the fragility of an athlete’s career or to delve deeply into the comparison of the media’s focus on one athlete’s broken leg with the loss of limbs and life sustained in Boston. In fact I can assure you this is the last time I use the word delve in this story.

As I get back to the normality of my random pop culture thoughts I realize Kevin Ware’s injury is now as topical as Psy appearing in commercials running in March promoting his love of eating pistachios “gangam style.” Watching that ad about three months after his 15 minutes of “trending” viral fame had reached its crescendo, made him seem as relevant pop culturally as the Macarena guys, Dana Carvey’s George Bush Sr. impersonation or “The Noid.”

I personally spent a good portion of high school not going out on dates on Saturday nights, with the only benefit socially in college being an expertly honed ability to mimic all of Dana Carvey's impersonations. It’s a shame that I rarely find the opportunity now to break a lull in a conversation with a well timed- “Not gonnnnna doittttt. Not gonnnnna doitttt. I don’t think I’ll have another Keystone Light at this juncture. Bitter beer face is badddd. It’s badddd.”

I have spent the past 20 years or so making sure that I live a “Noid” free existence and this might have cost me a possible relationship or two along the way but it was well worth it. For those of you under 35, who have no idea what I’m talking about, the Noid was a demented claymation character in late’80s Dominos Pizza ads that for some reason was hell bent on ruining the inherent goodness of Dominos pizzas.

I don’t know how associating your brand of food with an annoying bug-like creature could possibly have been thought of as a great idea for an ad campaign; even if you’re thwarting the Noid's nefarious intentions and delivering Dominos pizzas to your target audience of overworked, single parent/ divorced households in Phoenix and anyone enrolled in college saving money for beer.  For one, the Noid resembled some sort of Ritalin addicted combination of the the Heat Meiser & Cold Meiser, with rabbit ears, except it only spoke in high-pitched mumbles (as opposed to catchy song and dance numbers.) He also wore a red costume and a mask for some reason as if the Noid was hiding his secret identity as Mark Mannix, mild mannered Metropolis food inspector. 

 Kevin Ware’s broken leg is probably only still being discussed this week in barber shops in Louisville in which Kevin Ware happens to be waiting in,  but it is still more relevant than the story I have been thinking about since the early ‘80s and will eventually devote the proper time and energy into. The working title is “Nellie Olson. TV’s First C**t.”  But, that is a subject for another day and now back to our regularly scheduled programming.

Since my school had already been eliminated in the Sweet 16, as Arizona is historically prone to do and I did not fill out a bracket sheet with the other random assortment of freelancers/ med students/ 23-year- old girls having informational interviews with former sorority sisters, schizophrenics,  women knitting the hat current resting on their head, and Jews for Jesus members hanging out at Starbucks-  I was not watching the Louisville-Duke game when Kevin Ware suffered the gruesome bone break that was heard ‘round the world and unfortunately around the court.

I read about it on Facebook and started noticing the shocked comments building in rapid succession comparing it to when a rampaging Lawrence Taylor accidentally snapped Joe Theisman’s leg. The way Ware's leg twisted in almost cartoonish fashion as he landed awkwardly after jumping to attempt a block  made him look like a G.I. Joe doll  that was tossed against a wall by a hyper 8-year old.  It seemed the entire sports watching world was having a collective moment of shock and a guttural, physical repulsion that reminded me of Tone Loc wiping his tongue dry after noticing Ace Venture reveal Lt. Einhorn’s ‘winky.’

I am in no way trying to make light of the pain that a young basketball player suffered. I understand the physically and emotionally taxing road he has ahead of him in rehab and I hope he makes it back to the court. It’s the collective, seemingly primal reaction that everyone who saw it seemed to experience at once that made me take notice.  I was watching a replay with my girlfriend who has had her share of ankle sprains from a childhood spent dancing and she hid from the replay on the news like there was a mouse about to leap off the top of the TV.

I feel like anyone who has ever experienced any sort of sprain or broken bone in their life felt a psychological twinge of residual pain, like when a twin who lives across the country gets hit by lightening or stubs a toe really hard and the other twin feels a slight shiver down their spine while calmly washing dishes.

This is how the psychic twin phenomenon was presented to us in old sci fi movies and TV shows and what I’d like to believe is true but if extreme pain caused a slight shiver, wouldn’t an incredible, leg shaking orgasm of a woman in California illicit a goofy grin or a raised eyebrow from her twin drinking coffee in Seattle.  I’m not saying she should all of a sudden grab the hair of the guy serving her a frothy latte and hold on while she shakes the cup as coffee spills onto the table and her hand. But, if there was anything to this twin psychic mind meld, you’d see a lot more women and men smirking and saying “Hey now” for no apparent reason and this supposed phenomenon would have been proven a scientific fact long ago.

Does it make me a desensitized-to-violence, inhuman cyborg that I can watch footage of someone breaking their leg like Sea Biscuit and not want to immediately switch the channel to anything less abhorrent to the senses, such as a rerun of the show Yes Dear or a live E! News Special Report from Kim Kardashian's  uterus?  Besides muttering "Holy crap, that's fucked,” I still felt the need to watch it over-and-over again on YouTube to see just how awkward his landing was to cause that severe a break.  

Does that make me as analytically cold and removed as Dexter dissecting a corpse or Sheldon trying to dissect a human feeling on The Big Bang Theory? Am I doomed to wander the barren emotional wasteland of the NY dating scene again as my girlfriend re-evaluates her decision to share a bed with someone who purposely looks up footage of a man injuring himself that caused her to cringe in residual pain and hide under the covers?

Possibly my curiosity stemmed from the fact that I have never broken a bone or even sprained an ankle, so even though I can imagine what it must feel like it prompted more of a curiosity than a repulsion. I have been lucky in that my athletic prowess lies in my ability to play air hockey, which outside of a few bars in Edmonton, is a pretty much a non-contact sport.

There are many questions about the amazing power and frailty of the human body and mind that I will never answer. As for myself, my pain-filled curiosity was short-lived and my attention switched to other trending topics of the day that resonated with me for as long as it takes to read a few hash-tagged comments.

 I may have the occasional mildly sinful thought at inopportune times and in random places (like waiting on a line at CVS) but I’m a good person who loves his friends and family. One of the secrets to sanity surely has to be surrounding yourself with people who you don't find annoying.  Even though we can’t always avoid pain and suffering in life, isn’t it somewhat comforting to know that we can always avoid the Noid?  I think so.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Lighten Up Francis

 A few hours after Monday's bombing at the Boston Marathon had occurred and enough time had passed for it to resonate with those tuned into social media or watching the news, I read someone's purposefully rude response to a friend’s post on facebook.  She made a comment on the stupidity of facebook’s always changing ways, like anyone on facebook is wont to do on a seemingly daily basis. 

On a day not marred by a senseless tragedy it would’ve garnered a few likes. But, this guy seemed like he was incensed at her for having the gall to change the subject from sorrow to the mundane and talk about anything besides the tragedy in Boston. 

This was after the simple outpouring of thoughts and prayers with the people of Boston had begun to blend in with the creative memes posted online, like ones using quotes from Mr. Rogers, or photos of a red sock bleeding onto a red apple. (I didn’t see that one but the copywriter in me thinks it would’ve made a stark image.)

The memes and quotes posted were designed to sum up our collective urge to scratch our heads at humanity or a lack thereof, in visually creative ways and the sharing of which is somewhat of a slight bonding mechanism for people. We live in a society that has now connected people who may or may not know each other well or at all and can read each other’s random, spur-of-the-moment thoughts, which should for the most part be taken with a grain of salt.

It has always annoyed me when someone goes out of their way to point out the so-called social faux pas that others make, which is much douchier than the actual breaking of a social norm.  Several years ago I was stuck in my thoughts waiting for an elevator door to open. (This seems a more appropriate description than the term ‘riding’ in an elevator. The act of riding in or on anything seems like it should require some anticipation of enjoyment, like riding a roller coaster, or riding on the back of an ATV  as your 8th grade friend who had an iguana and got the Showtime channel in the early ‘80s drives it over the creek in his backyard.) As the door to the elevator is about to open the woman in front of me, who had her back to me, sneezed.

She turned around and said “Bless you” while over-enunciating and dragging out the youuuuuu. Her cartoonish and childish response and "put off" reaction to my ambivalence brought to mind  Francis, Pee Wee Herman’s arch-nemesis in Pee Wee’s Big Adventure. The sour puss expression on her face reminded me of my 7th grade Math teacher and like her, I think it's not too far off of a presumption to say she might have been going home to an old cat named Mr. Squiggles and an angry looking vibrator named Mr. Tickles.

She acted as if I had just  lifted up my shirt and picked a piece of lint out of my navel before asking if she wanted it as a memento of our ten-floor trip together, when I was just clearly following New York City protocol of not letting things strangers do register with me. It seemed such a misplaced reaction that I was caught off guard and had no immediate response to her bitchiness.

 I was too stunned to reply back with a response like “Oh, I’m sorry. Did I fail to acknowledge that you blew germs out of your mouth into the air hovering above the enclosed space we unfortunately are forced to ride in together during flu season, your royal highness? I’m such a fool. Take my 1950s era handkerchief that I keep folded in the pocket of my hoodie sweatshirt, please. (In my anger I would assume I wouldn’t have had the time or the desire to go into why “ride” is not the best word to describe travelling in elevators.) But, alas my mouth was stuck in a half-smile/half amazed grin as she left the building in a huff.   

There was another occasion of public ridiculousness that I encountered that I will surely not soon forget. I was walking past a bar in my area that was as "Jersey Shore" as you can get on a weekend night in Manhattan and I saw a girl doing something that left me in a state of pause.

I graduated from the University of Arizona and live in Murray Hill, so I have come across the occasional drunk, young guy urinating in the street.  Most guys pee facing a wall, usually with one of their friends as a lookout. This inebriated young lady who I happened to come upon, was holding up her skirt as she relieved herself into the avenue while squatting with surprising dexterity and leaning against a wall next to the bar. 

  I stopped in my tracks with my mouth open once again, at first disgusted by the act itself, but then I became kind of awed by the fact that she was nonchalantly propelling this high-arcing stream that seemed to want to touch the sky. I felt like a tourist standing in front of the Fountain at the Bellagio hotel in Las Vegas. I was transfixed for a longer-than-expected moment and didn't know whether I should toss a coin at her feet and make a wish or take a photo.

 I decided against the photo, since she didn't need me pointing out her social faux pas and making a spectacle of her abilities best utilized at a Tijuana bachelor party. My favorite part of stumbling upon this public showing of a private act was the fact that she had two friends that were flanking her on both sides; as if it was possible to camouflage the fact that she was blissfully spraying the length of the sidewalk like she was Larry Bird floating up a continuous array of old-school three-pointers out of her urethra.

I’d rather think about this random act of craziness than the crazy act of horror like the senseless bombing on Monday in Boston.  The fact is there are people out there who seem to want to disrupt our Facebook obsessed, Game of Thrones watching, Target shopping society.  An act as despicable as this will unfortunately stay in the back of our minds but we can’t dwell all the time on fear and chaos or the crazies win in the end.  

The reason Israelis don't wake up every day and play Russian roulette while drinking fizzy bubbly/crystal meth cocktails (otherwise known as a Very Dark and Stormy) is that they don't let fear control their daily lives. Hopefully, cowardice bombings won't ever become a common occurrence in this country that we have to get used to, but there's nothing wrong with talking about other things that happen in our lives during times of distress, and especially after an unimaginable act of evil. 

The use of humorous, well timed sarcasm as well as complaining about the day-to-day stuff that bothers us provide a necessary release from thinking about things that can weigh us down emotionally. I’m not saying not to acknowledge that the world can be a fucked up, hate-filled place, because it obviously can. But, it’s also the world that gives you beautiful little everyday treasures, like the smell of a fresh pot of coffee percolating in the morning, Buttermilk Eggo waffles with syrup on top toasting in the kitchen, and waking up with a morning erection, next to a beautiful woman who has just percolated your coffee and buttered your waffles. And that’s just the amazing treats we enjoy before leaving our homes and noticing the budding cherry blossom flowers on our streets and the clear blue spring sky.

The subtle art of complaining about life’s little annoyances, affectionately known as kvetching, has gotten my ancestors through thousands of years of nomadic craziness and persecution, not to mention Brooklyn in the 1940's. I believe it was the immortal words of Alfred E. Newman, who once said “What, me worry?” I also believe that it was the slightly less memorable words of my Great Aunt Silvia who might have said on more than one occasion during The Great Depression- “10 cents for a loaf of bread? What am I made of money?”

Monday, April 8, 2013

Siskel & Ebert Give Think Fink Two Shrugged Shoulders Up.

I don’t want to eulogize Roger Ebert here because I don’t know anything about Roger Ebert, the man. His passing has gotten me reflecting on his career as Roger Ebert, the critic and how his movie reviews influenced my views on movies for almost as long as I have been watching them.  

Roger Ebert, along with his former partner in crime, Gene Siskel, brought the film critic out from behind the cloak of a newspaper byline and on to the Sony Trinitron TV resting on the trunk in my family’s den.  Being part of the first cable generation, I devoured movies on TV, like other kids consumed Pepsi, Sprees and Cool Ranch Doritos, which is a perfect combination to suit the discerning palate of any 12-year-old foodie in the ‘80s.

As an aside, the reason foodies are more annoying than hipsters, although one can easily be both, is because most people have never opened a conversation after sitting down at a restaurant on a first date like this-”You know I read about this place in New York Magazine and I have been dying to try it. I hope you don’t mind that it’s a bit expensive but the chef supposedly once worked in the kitchen at Babbo. Have you ever been to Babbo? I love Babbo.  I’m kind of on a truffle oil kick right now. You know, I have to admit, I’m kind of a foodie.”

If you offer up that you’re kind of an anything to show off your knowledge of something in the first two minutes of meeting someone, you’re usually kind of an ass.  

My digression into a rant on food snobs has nothing to do with Roger Ebert except for the fact that he was a master at pointing out things in movies that annoyed him.  I started watching Siskel & Ebert: At The Movies around the same time that video stores began popping up in every suburban strip mall. If you got a 'Thumbs Up' by both Siskel & Ebert your movie was most likely going to do well.

Their entertaining bickering, Laurel and Hardyish appearance (or Spade and Farleyish appearance for those too young enough to remember black and white comedies on TV) and opposing viewpoints on whether a movie was worth a “Thumbs Up,” lead to a perfectly natural on-screen chemistry. They not only engaged you into thinking about why you should or should not see a movie but they also introduced you to what was playing at the theaters in a time before Google. I’m pretty sure Ebert would have hated the film “A Time Before Google” for its predictable ending and wooden acting performances but Siskel might have given it a reluctant thumbs up for its surprisingly satirical script and tight dialogue.

Ebert’s review of the movie North is remembered for breaking the record for the amount of times the word hate has been used in a review of anything that a human has ever had to endure. His quote from his review for Freddie Got Fingered is equally as classic. "This movie doesn't scrape the bottom of the barrel. This movie isn't the bottom of the barrel. This movie isn't below the bottom of the barrel. This movie doesn't deserve to be mentioned in the same sentence as barrels."

If Siskel and Ebert were to review my blog, I’m sure it would go something like this:

Siskel: “The next blog we’re going to review is Think Fink. It is filled with a random collection of fictional stories and observations from a man who clearly has too much time on his hands. At the same time, he doesn't post often enough for the viewer to get sucked in to his haphazard, yet whimsical observations. There is something here though and even though he tends to put himself in the center of his mostly fictionalized tales that often go off on major tangents in the middle of thought processes, I liked where he was taking me. I found myself laughing out loud on more than a few occasions and I give it a reluctant but surprising 'shrugged shoulders up'."

Ebert: “Gene, I agree with you in the fact that the voice behind Think Fink seems to get as distracted in his own thoughts as a child trying to recite lines in a school play while fireworks suddenly go off outside the window. But, that's kind of what this new ‘blog’ medium is all about. The writer is no longer limited by the narrative rules of a screen play or novel. His sensibility seems to have grown out of a steady diet of John Hughes movies and Pop Rocks and you get the feeling there is a bad ‘80s sit-com constantly going on inside his head but I found myself rooting for his ‘Fink’ character. I even thought about it afterwards. albeit briefly."

"There is a romantic, hopeful side that is pervasive throughout his sarcastic pop culture references. In the story about climbing out of barrel full of monkeys, you want this likable dreamer to get out of that figurative barrel and get ‘the girl in the dorm room next door.’ Normally, I would have stopped reading at his Greatest American Hero song parody on experiencing a "fridgid finkie" which on the surface seems as infantile as a porn title, but what can I say, it sucked me in.  This writer might not be ‘the greatest’ or even a hero but I found myself enjoying the view from his world and I give “Think Fink” a less reluctant ‘shrugged shoulders’ up.”

In short, Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel helped me learn to articulate why I like movies, why I hate movies and why I love to hate movies that other people like and for that I'm grateful.  I'm not sure if Roger Ebert would phrase it quite this way but you know, I have to admit, I’m kind of a goonie.