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Monthly Archives: January 2009

PETA, the People For the Ethical Treatment Of Animals, is trying to get people to be vegetarians.  Really, really hard. Just look at their ad, deemed unsuitable for viewing on Super Sunday by NBC. Instead of explaining the health benefits of a vegetarian lifestyle, or the cruelty that pervades the meat industry, or making an ethical argument, they’ve got:

Sex! Studies, (not cited, of course) show that vegetarians have better sex! So, if you don’t care about the ethical treatment of animals, or your health, we still want you on board! We’re gonna lure you with pussy!

Bring your Axe bodyspray and your Jim Beam while you’re at it, and soon, you’ll see more ass than a Barnes and Noble toilet seat!

Ah, what a noble cause. I have seen men go vegetarian for pussy, so I can’t say it’s not effective. But be careful, horny dudes…you may not be able to go back once your body gets used to not meat-eating. I’ve seen it happen.

As for PETA, well, I gotta hand it to ’em…I mean why bother winning over minds when you can win over gonads?

Musings on the value of fancy desks in corporate America

…and a quick Super Bowl fashion review. ” As Michael Irvin would ask, “Is this how you go to work?”

After a couple of days of late nights at work, I finally got home at a reasonable hour and decided not to spend the time watching the news. Mostly because it reminds me that when I’m 65, my kids will ask me where I was when Obama was inaugurated, and I will tell them, “On the toilet, because I really had to finish drafting those tax certification forms, and once I was done, I couldn’t wait. Shouldn’t have put all those raisins in my oatmeal.”

Here’s what I’ve learned watching basketball and mildly surfing the internet:

1. Paul Blart: Mall Cop is the number one movie in America. I don’t regard that as some sign of the apocalypse or anything, I actually thought it didn’t look bad…as a rental. Look America, I know it was cold out, but do you think Kevin James is really an A-list movie star? Because that’s what you just made him.

2. I’ve seen none of the Oscar-nominated movies. Looks like I have to get on that if I am going to anger moviegoers with contrarian blog postings. I still get the occasionally shitty email for my reaction to “There Will Be Blood.” Although I’ll say this right now: No “Benjamin Button”. I saw “Meet Joe Black” in the theater many moons ago, and Brad Pitt, “three hour movie”, and me will never go together again.

3. If you like basketball, and you think Charles Barkley can’t be replaced, check out the comedy stylings of Chris Webber and Gary Payton on TNT while they sub for him.  Here’s a look at their little-seen NBA TV work:

We may have just found the new Wayans Brothers.

4. Jim Beam has a series of ads that are kind of jaw-droppingly sexist, basically, they represent the worst of male fantasies and thoughts, and proudly associates Jim Beam with them. In the one I saw tonight, a scantily clad, hot woman speaks of how she likes slightly fat men with back hair who go to strip clubs. It then says “the girlfriend”, and Jim Beam is “the bourbon”. Yeah, okay. You gotta be drinking a bottle of Jim Beam to think that’s going to happen. When I think sexy girls, I think Jim Beam, that’s what they drink. Yeah, sure.

What’s even worse is they’re trying to mask it as “ironic” by having a video contest where you make fun of these plodding, pathetic, and obvious ads.  So you can make fun of how impossibly sexist they are. Because you know it’s not true, right? Way not to man up, Jim Beam.

Okay, this post is not really filled with any such tips. But seeing  as how I was going to make a renewed commitment to posting, and I had not posted anything in a while, I’m tapping away and hopefully putting together a coherent string of words that you may find useful in your life, or make you laugh, or think, “I could do better than this moron”, and start your own writing endeavor, whether it’s the secret history of your hometown that’s never been told, a journal detailing your ideas for not-yet-named-by-popular-culture sexual positions, or your own blog read by dozens of people a month, then, well, starting with this run-on-sentence was totally worth it.

In other words, this is the equivalent of that thing Sean Connery told the basketball star and budding writer extraordinaire in “Finding Forrester”. In that movie, he encouraged the kid to prime the pump creatively by simply tapping away at the typewriter without thinking. Even if it meant plagiarizing the first few lines of a magazine article, which helped lead to the movie’s rousing finale where said basketball star, accused of plagiarizing, is rescued by the reclusive James Bond, er, William Forrester, during a prep school tribunal of some sort.

And for sitting through this so far, you’ve earned it. Just go ahead and skip to about the 1:25 mark:

Anyway, it’s not really the wintertime that brings about this ennui that in effect, freezes my blog, it’s work. For those who don’t know, this is my busy time of the year, and although I am working fewer hours this year, actually working at work, full speed the whole time I’m there sometimes leaves me bereft of ideas for when I get home.  But this year, I said I would fight through it, instead of making excuses. Except I’ve been making excuses.

But enough about process. What can I tell you of interest these days? Well, uh, um…nothing really. I’ve been selected to participate in a mock trial at work. I’m sure it would be mad interesting if I was actually a lawyer. What made it worse was that a fellow participant told me what he thinks the case will be, and it’s supposed to be boring as all-get out. No massively great courtroom moments like…

No, I can’t handle the truth: I’ll be bored to death, but breakfast and lunch are free, so I’ll do it.  Heck, I’d settle for that episode of Benson where Benson, acting as his own lawyer, cross-examined himself on the witness stand. Or when the trial ends, and his comic foil, Clayton, is awarded one dollar in damages, Clayton says “It’s like a slap in the face.” Benson then says, “Then here’s ten dollars. Slap yourself silly.”

The only other notable thing for the new year is that I cut my hair, which was turning into something that was not quite dreadlocks, but not quite an Afro. It was like a dreadmullet. It’s a good thing I picked what appears to be the worst winter in years to finally cut my hair. But hey, it’s probably what got me selected for the mock trial.

To paraphrase DMX, I’ve gone on long enough, time to stop being greedy. Thanks for tuning in.

Amongst our high school pals, we have a Secret Santa/Christmas dinner annually. I might pretend to complain about it to my drinking buddies, but it really is one of the highlights of the holiday season. Mostly because it’s the only time I get stuff.

In any case, my name was drawn by my old friend Julie, who decided to show how much care and thought and time she put into this by getting me…the Killers latest album and a $30 gift card to the Virgin Megastore.

Whee! Not really. I don’t think I’ve bought a CD in ages, at least not since Bush’s second term. I would rather had have her buy $30 worth of CD’s and hoped I like them; or just get with the times and buy a $30 iTunes card. I’m not being ungrateful, a gift is a gift, it’s just that I don’t buy CD’s anymore. I download all my music…legally, of course, as far as you know.

So, figuring it can’t be any more harrowing than yesterday’s shopping experience, I headed over to the Megastore to finally spend my gift. I could have used it on books, I suppose. (I don’t really watch DVD’s at home, either to be honest.)

But then I saw that there was a sale. I had forgotten that there was talk that the store will be closing this year. You know what that means:

Clearance, bitches! Or at least clearance-level prices. Many of the CD’s were going for 50 percent off (a standard CD at Virgin is $18 or thereabouts), or they were marked $10 or $5. This inspired me to attempt a maximum bang-for-buck strategy:  Get clearance stuff that you would definitely listen to–but not necessarily pay for.

That led to the following selections:

  • The first, and easiest selection out there: A two-disc George Michael Greatest hits album for $10. You wanna get gay? Let’s get gay! Especially at these prices.
  • “I said CPR, not CCR!” I’ve always liked Creedence, but I’d hardly call myself a die-hard fan. Still I know many of the songs. It was part one of a two-part collection, and this part did not have “Bad Bad Leroy Brown.” Despite that small flaw, it had enough of their songs that I liked at $5. Put it on the card!
  • At $5, how do I not get “Kick” by INXS? I could not believe I hadn’t gotten around to, um, procuring it yet!
  • Another winner! “The Cream of Clapton.” Despite the pornish name, it follows his career from Cream, through his solo works, Derek and the Dominos, and of course, more solo work.  The good news is that it stops in the early ’80s so there’s none of his early ’90s ballad stuff, like “Tears In Heaven” and etc. Not my thing. The bad news is the super-crapfest that is “It’s in the Way You Use It” from The Color of Money soundtrack is not on it. Might be one of my favorite worst songs ever. Still though, $5.
  • Finally in a bout of obscurity, some early ’00s electronica by Hooverphonic, “Blue Wonder Power Milk”. I had a couple of songs from this outfit a few computers ago and couldn’t pass it up. Finally, some mood music for my iTunes.

This was really like a weird music fantasy auction draft. These are all artists I like and enjoy, but probably would never have gotten off my duff to purchase. Or “purchase”. So, in the end, this became one of the more fun gifts ever. Thanks, Julie! Your reward is this shout-out in a blog no one reads.

The ad campaign that is now bombarding me when I trudge through the Union Square station on my morning commute is the one pimping the film   Notorious”, about the life and times of the rapper  Notorious B.I.G. It opens January 16th.

 

 Half-awake as I made my way through the station, I thought to myself, doesn’t the word “history” mean anything anymore? I mean, somebody’s dead five minutes and they’re making biographical epics? Honestly? Okay, at least this guy is actually dead, unlike George W. Bush, but still, can we get a little perspective on the timeline before we take someone’s life story to the big screen?

 

Then I realized that he died almost 12 years ago.

 

That’s probably more of a testament to my being old and forgetful than a lack of perspective on my part. Still, it was stunning. Twelve years! Earlier this year, I admitted that I wasn’t quite ready for ‘90s nostalgia with the release of The Wackness”, a movie about a guy coming of age in Giuliani’s New York. I guess with the arrival of this movie, it’s here and it’s never going back. Besides, I’m sure the public has been clamoring for an on-screen remembrance of Biggie.

 

What better time for it than before Martin Luther King Day weekend, and the one right before America’s historic inauguration? The only way it could get better is if there was a re-release of “Juice” in theaters. Now that would be a double bill!

 

Not sure if I’ll see it. While biopics can be very predictable, and it’s generally hard to bring anything new to the format, they can be successful if well-done. I saw “Milk” and thought it was very well-done and compelling, so why not the story of BIG? After all, they both end the same way, and half the fun will be in hearing some moron audibly gasp in surprise when it happens. (Slight difference: I would expect far, far, less man-on-man action.)

 

I think once upon a time I might have railed about this movie, But I guess enough time has passed and he’s still an important figure in the hip-hop community. I just hope it brings a little more to the table than just re-enacting scenes from his life; it needs to either give us a sense of the man or the movement. Anybody can re-enact the studio session where he recorded, “Ready to Die”, what needs to be done is to convey they moment, the urgency, and the thought and creative process that leads to a hip-hop classic. What made him unique, what was his vision, if he had one? Or was it a lack of that same vision that led to a beef that ultimately ended his life? This movie has to do more than make you go “Man, it was nice to hear Hypnotize again.” It has to make you understand or interpret the person in a new and different way, enhance your understanding and your appreciation of the artist as a person.

 

I guess I’ll see it if I’m assured I’m getting more than just a really hot soundtrack. It would be nice not to recoil this time from my ever-more distant youth and begin to be able to enjoy a little hip-hop history lesson, mixed with some nostalgia.

 

I’m not going to lie, I am not expecting that.

 

In the meantime, since there’s no biopic for Tupac anytime soon, I’m just going to have to work the following phrase into my vernacular more often in remembrance: “It’s all fun and games until you go to the MGM Grand to watch a Mike Tyson fight.”

 

What? I haven’t even pointed out that I am amazed they managed to find another human being that has fat on his eyelids to play Biggie. Or that the guy’s rap name is “Gravy.”

 

Sometimes, the jokes write themselves…

I am not much of a shopper. At all. Some people like shopping, making an event of it, a delightful way to spend the day. Some of these people are dudes. Some of these people are even straight dudes. (One of my best friends is one of these men.) I am not.

 

But sometimes, it just has to be done. Especially when you have a hole in your shoe. And everyone hates your emergency winter coat. And you need gloves. And you cut your uncombed but fascinating locks to sport a closely cropped haircut. So all these forces combined and forced me out of my office and into the streets to buy things. Oh, how I dreaded the thought. And today’s shopping experience did everything to live down to the hype.

 

My expectations, by the way, for any shopping trip are much like my expectations for hooking up with someone I know I really shouldn’t. Yeah, I need it and I want it, and I have to have it more than I care to admit, but it’s going to feel far too long, and I am going to be so relieved when it’s over and I can get the hell out of there.

 

Armed with my debit card, a grim determination that “Hey, at least I’m not at work,” and sheer necessity as it rained lightly in the streets of New York (meaning my socks were getting wet and therefore, I was possibly courting some sort of disease or newfound respiratory infection), I headed out of work and headed downtown.

 

First and foremost, the shoe situation had to be rectified, if only because nothing is worse than wet, stank socks when you take them off. I don’t like to see my feet, let alone smell them, thank you very much. So I headed to the same place where I got my last pair of shoes for work, two years ago,  DSW Shoe Warehouse on 14th Street. If you want as low-stress a shopping experience as possible when shopping shoes, this is it. No salesmen, no sullen teens in referee outfits, and waiting for someone to come back just to tell you “No, sir, we don’t have a size 13. But you can get this shoe in 12 or get these really ugly shoes that look even uglier at size 13.” The stock is right below the model, so you can register you disappointment quickly, without waiting, and move on. Eventually I settled on these

 

myshoe

 

Kenneth Cole boots that were simple, brown, and most importantly, without laces. I have never been good at tying my shoes, for whatever reason, and after three decades, I have given up. There was a short line, I paid, and other than the horrific techno song that constantly plays in the hallway, it was a pleasant shopping experience.

 

Next, it was on to Burlington Coat Factory on Sixth Avenue near 23rd Street to get a coat I could be proud of. Now I had been there a couple of weeks ago, but that was to buy a different sort of coat. This winter is shaping up to be a brutal one in the Northeast, so I thought it might be a good idea to get something simple, cheap and warm. Sure, it would definitely not be styling, but as my mom and other moms have said, “You’re not going to a fashion show.” So I bought a big gray, ugly coat with a hood. It’ll keep you warm and dry, that’s for sure. What it won’t do is get good reviews, as I had to endure shots of all sorts from many of my alleged friends.

As my friend Rod put it, “You look like you’re wearing your father’s coat.” A legitimate criticism, since it is probably two sizes too big from a fit standpoint. “He looks like he’s going to rob us,” another one, is just plain mean.

 

Well, the plan was to get a more stylish coat in a couple of weeks, as the big gray monster everyone hates is really only supposed to busted out for truly brutal winter’s days. So I went back to the scene of the crime hoping to get a reasonably priced three-quarter overcoat. I didn’t like what I saw at all; the prices seemed a bit steep, even by Burlington standards. I was about to give up on the three-quarter coats and was looking halfheartedly at the shorter ones when somehow, buried amongst the short coats was a pretty decently priced Joseph Abboud number! I couldn’t believe it was sitting there in the wrong spot; I felt lucky, as I looked around for any George Costanza-types hoping to hide the coat and get the deal. Not like I knew if there was a deal, all I knew was that I liked the coat, the style that I wanted and it was cheaper than the standard $120 most of those coats cost. I tried on my $80 find and was pleased to see that if fit perfectly. (a major mistake made with the gray coat. Yes, I hate shopping so much I don’t even like to try things on if I can avoid it, even if it makes sense.) With little time to waste, I headed for the register.

 

But here’s where you find out how much you really want to save money: the price for finding a nice bargain coat at Burlington Coat Factory is the line. No matter what time of year it is you can count on:

1.     It will be too warm. Somehow.

2.     You will be stuck behind some lady who insists on looking at the accessories like pantyhose, knockoff handbags, and cologne stolen—ahem, procured from Caesars Palace, while trying to keep her place in line.

3.     A ghetto-fabulous family full of screaming kids

4.     A couple who can’t stop kissing because the guy finally gave up and has allowed his lady to dress him

5.     Just when you get close to hearing the magic words “Please step forward to register number….”, some fool will get into a pricing dispute with the staff, and for some reason, instead of one manager handling it, all the other cashiers will slow down what they are doing to get involved and rectify the situation. I mean, it’s great that they’re unified and all, but shouldn’t someone be, you know, in charge?

 

Finally, though, I was able to get out of there. But surprisingly, they had an incredible lack of accessories, leaving me completely without a scarf, a hat, and some gloves. I could try to go without them, I guess. But years of nagging from women of all ages going “Where is your hat?” and “Where are your gloves?” may have finally gotten to me. (However, I’ll never cave in to the question, “Where is your underwar?” Never!) So, it was over to  Filene’s Basement for some accessories. I got a hat that I will use to keep warm and not to be styling. Because people don’t wear hats anymore. That was accompanied by new gloves and, a far less festive scarf than my current one.

 

This trip would not have been all that noteworthy if not for the line at Filene’s, where some kid kept ramming herself into the bag with the new shoes. Her mother kept imploring her not to be rude, yet the kid kept running into my bag, then looking up at me dumbfounded that the bag was there, as if it wasn’t the first three times she did. I told the mom that it wasn’t a big deal.

 

Only because what I really wanted to tell the mom was that maybe her kid didn’t have a politeness problem, that maybe her kid might be suffering some sort of developmental problem, and that the kid might need help. Okay, I would not have been so nice, and influenced by the movie “Tropic Thunder”, the words “full retard” might have come out. And that, kids, is why they say discretion is the better part of valor.

 

I finally escaped the child and paid for my goods and I was done. The problem was, in the course of going to these three stores, I had failed to take care of an urgent personal need. That’s right, I really, really, really needed to pee. I drink a lot of water, tea, and apple juice at work. A lot. It takes quite a desire to get shopping over with as quickly as possible for me to not pee for a solid 2 1/2 hours. I can’t sit through movies that long without being dehydrated. Holding it in whilst dealing with annoying people and carrying three bags is another matter entirely.

 

The problem with that was, when I walked out of Filene’s, I had to pee badly. I remembered that the Bed, Bath, and Beyond upstairs had a decent public restroom, but I wasn’t sure how obvious it would be that I had no intention of being a paying customer. This was a bad time to find out that the Barnes and Noble on Sixth had closed. Long a public urination staple, it was no more, as the printed word apparently continues to die. So, left with few options, I headed for the McDonald’s. I knew the bathroom would be open, and I also knew there was no way I was not going to walk out of there without eating. The convenience was too great, not to mention the obviousness of my presence with three bags of burden shuffling through the store. They knew of my existence, and they would be watchful of my exit. After all, the bathroom says “customers only.” I didn’t want my precious new shoes getting taken away as collateral for bathroom use.

 

So I had an Angus Mushroom and Swiss meal with the sweet tea.

 

So tonight, as I make frequent trips to the bathroom and occasionally wonder if that weird sensation inside my chest is either a heart attack or a stroke, I can justify my poor nutritional decision on one thing: shopping. For some people, it’s a great way to spend the day, a productive means to express their beings, their spirit, and their identity through consumerism. For the rest of us, we may like the stuff we bought and can’t wait to wear it tomorrow, but we’re so glad the process is over.

1.  An average posting rate of  four times a week.

2. Continuing to build on last year’s gym usage in my efforts to move toward looking more and more like an emaciated hipster.

3. More fiction! I like making stuff up.

4. Keep the room cleaner.

5. To have better than a fifty percent rate of asking New York sports figures to be fired. (see previous post.)

6. Get a new job. It’s tough in this economy, but so is going through the motions five times a week.

7. More original photography.

8. Keep being staggeringly awesome. (or loathsome, depending on your view of things.)

Happy New Year.