Sunday, August 31, 2014

Two Step

As a responsible adult (or, perhaps more accurately, a reasonable hand-drawn facsimile thereof), I don't often find myself hungover, but that is what I am today. Nobody's perfect. Joe E. Brown said that.

I have been nursing my figurative scars (did I really try to sing "99 Luftballons" in the original German at karaoke?) and my literal wounds (Laphroaig is the gift that keeps on giving -- and taking) all day, but instead of drinking a can of Dawn 808, I chose to throw on a pair of headphones and listen to some tunage* to sort myself out, to right the ship. (And now I'm nauseated again because of that metaphor.)

It worked. Sort of. There's no magic cure for a bad hangover, but, at least for today, The Cars' eponymously titled first album was a slight elixir, if not a panacea. It was just what I needed (just what I needed!), you might say.

The Cars is on no one's shortlist of the greatest album ever made**, but it is a great album. And what it has that most albums don't is the very rare species of the 1-song-disguised-as-2-songs closer "Moving in Stereo/All Mixed Up."

And that got me thinking -- which is always as stupid and dangerous as an assault on Precinct 13. What is the greatest 1-2 punch in music? This excludes Abbey Road's medley, The Mars Volta's entire discography, and EPMD's "Jane" songs.

All I can think of right now is Zwan's Jesus I/Mary Star of the Sea***.

I could probably think of others if I wasn't so tired. But I am, so I can't.

* I also typed Raekwon's "Spot Rusherz" into AT&T's Natural Voices, because that's what hungover people do, right?

** yet

*** Pitchfork album rating: 4.8 The Cars: 5.7. Eric B & Rakim's Paid in Full: 7.8. There are people who trust Pitchfork reviews as the gold standard of music criticism. They are, largely, stupid and/or misled. (This footnote is sponsored by Vitamin Water.)

Monday, August 25, 2014

Stratified Sincerity and the Kaleidoscopic Unknown

     Roughly one week ago (nine days, for those with OCPD), a mildly intoxicated friend divulged the most startling of shocking secrets to me: that despite having been a friend of yours truly for nearly sixteen years, she still felt as though she didn't really know me. Others, meanwhile, have stated that it's more than a tad challenging to determine whether I'm joking about something or entirely sincere. With that in mind, let's go over a smattering of statements I have made this past year.

1) "I wish you the best of luck on your upcoming licensing exam."

Sincerity, She Wrote! Seriously, the person to which the preceding statement was made would need Lady Luck to give the scoring computer a blow job in order to pass the aforementioned exam.

2) Came across this on Facebook a short while back:
   and responded with this:

Fifty Shades of Sincerity. Admittedly, this one is a bit tougher to decipher. On the one hand, what the hell do I know about good vibes? On the other hand, I love this song like Bob Guccione loved inserting hardcore sexual material into Caligula: it's all sorts of fucked up, sure, but the heart wants what the heart wants. 

3) In March, I had lunch with a group of people, and as I waited for the food to arrive, I entertained myself by twirling a particularly dull knife between my fingers. This disturbed one of my companions, who stated that she felt uncomfortable with my actions because it made her wonder if I was going to stab someone. I assuaged her concern by stating that I had no intention whatsoever of stabbing someone with the blade in question - a knife, I might add, that would have trouble piercing toilet paper. 

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Sincerity. If I were to stab someone at a restaurant, it would be with a fork. Knives are for slashing(,) people. 

4) "A DBT book might make for a useful addition to your library. You could take that as some manner of insult or a genuine recommendation, as is your prerogative."

CSI: Sincerity. Regardless of my intention, the fact remains that said person would benefit immensely from a text pertaining to Dialectical Behavior Therapy as applied to daily living skills. 

5) "Be sure to give [        ] and [        ] my very, very best of best wishes and kindest of kind regards."

The Price is Right Sincerity Showdown. What's your bid? 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014


In my adolescence, I dedicated much thought and consideration to the hair growing on my body -- or, more accurately, the hair not growing on my body. It's all so trivial now, but as a freshman in high school who would occasionally get teased for my lack of leg hair (although the teasing never approached anything that could today be considered or thought of as bullying), I wondered if I would go through life always with the glabrous legs of an Olympic swimmer. I imagine that many virgins feel the same way about their prospect of ever having sex. I know I did.

As Goethe said (and which numerous episodes of The Twilight Zone confirm), "Be careful what you wish for." By the time I was nearing adulthood, my legs were almost as shaggy as an English Terrier's. (I'm exaggerating, of course, but not by much.) If it weren't against the social norm, I could wear shorts in winter and stay warm. Conversely, wearing jeans in summer is something I religiously avoid, because why wear denim when I already have enough of a problem with the Yeti fur grafted to my lower extremities? Whenever I look at my legs, I'm reminded of a quaint Canadian film from the 80s called The Peanut Butter Solution. I was seven years old when I watched it. I suppose, in a way, that it was a prophecy.

In general, kids are pretty clueless, right? And I don't mean that in a condescending way; they just don't have the life experience or wisdom that comes from growing older. I wouldn't scoff at a ten-year-old and say, "What the fuck do you mean you've never read The Sun Also Rises?" In the same way, I don't begrudge a kid if I see him picking his nose in a supermarket or grabbing at his crotch because he has to pee. You figure that shit out later, hopefully.

Life is not without its share of cruel jokes -- a buxom woman gets breast cancer; a hirsute man's hair falls out from chemotherapy; the second pick in the 1986 NBA draft dies two days later from a cocaine overdose -- and ironic realities. So far, I've largely avoided both, but time is patient. It always will be.

Some years ago, a friend pointed out to me that I had an abnormally long eyebrow hair growing over my left eye. Embarrassed, I tried to pluck it out, which hurt like a motherfucker and made my eyes water. He plucked it out for me. It's easier to receive pain than to inflict it on yourself. Try breaking up with a gorgeous woman versus having her break up with you if you don't believe me.

That lone-wolf eyebrow hair, that ronin, however, would always come back, like a curry burp. Months would go by, and then one day I'd look at myself in the mirror and see it working its way out again, trying to outpace its brethren, to grow longer than them, to what ultimate purpose I didn't know, and still don't.

I eventually found myself starting to care for it. It was, after all, a part of me, and its -- no, his -- constant rebirth and Herculean growth affected me. I'm not delusional; I know that a hair growing on my eyebrow has no sentience...but isn't it pretty to think so?

I never gave him a name (because I'm not that weird), and I suppose I was too rough on him those first few years, twirling him between my thumb and forefinger when lost in thought until he broke, like a kid picking his nose in a supermarket. I was truly sorry when that happened, and sad that I'd have to wait months for his return.

But return he did. And he still does. I've experienced some tumult over the past decade, nothing too major in the overall scheme of things, but nonetheless stressful, and it's always nice to know that I have a constant, something to have with me when I'm otherwise feeling alone.

He's looking a little haggard these days, though. While brushing my teeth this morning, I noticed that he's curled back around on himself, like an Ouroboros. Maybe he'll fall out soon, like leaves in autumn.

If so, I hope he comes back again. Like cherry blossoms in spring.


There are more terrible things than can grow on a person's body than a single rogue hair. A single lone-wolf cell, a ronin, for one.