Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Wednesday Wa Pic - For shirts, you gotta go uptown

Found in the dictionary under "extreme niche marketing."

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Famous duos I'd like to see duke it out

I was a kid when the Adam West "Batman" was first on TV, and I "BIFF-POW"'d my way through recess in elementary school. To me, the darkness which has been foisted on the Batmen for the last two decades in film is a weak choice. Dude saw his parents murdered, grew up, realized he was rich and got over it. No brooding required.

I finally watched "Batman v Superman," and I do not think I have ever seen anything so dark and incomprehensible except maybe this election cycle. But it got me thinking—what other famous pairs would I like to see take each other on? The list is long.

  • Han Solo v Chewbacca. When Chewie spoils one too many of Han's blind dates by stinking up the apartment with a burned skillet of bandaras, it's ON. Projected winner of the fight: Han. He's totally willing to go dirty. Plus, with that bandolier across his chest, Chewie's got no reach.
  • Macaroni v cheese. Cheese always gets the credit. It's the Jerry Lewis to macaroni's Dean Martin, but somebody's got to provide a base. Macaroni on its own is bland, but without it, what have you got? Cheese. Are you French or something? Projected winner: macaroni, because it's got backup in the neighborhood (fuggetabouddit.)
  • Chip v Dale. A cage. Two chipmunks enter, one chipmunk leaves. Projected winner: Dale. Decades of second-billing have fostered a resentment with teeth in it. Chip has always been portrayed as the clever one, but as reality TV has taught us, bitter beats clever every day.
  • Simon v Garfunkel. I would pay so much to see this. I picture the rabbit punches and the rolling around the floor and the "You'd be nobody without me!" Projected winner: too close to call. It might just come down to each individual pacemaker manufacturer.
  • Fish v chips. Like Simon and Garfunkel, the qualities of the two are so evenly matched it is hard to appreciate them separately. I give the edge to fish, because it was at least, at one time, sentient.
  • Lady v Tramp. I know you wanted a happy ending, but real life rarely obliges. When Lady catches Tramp sucking spaghetti with Perdita from "101 Dalmations," alert Elton John because the bitch is back. Projected winner: Disney, with its first animated film rated R for violence, "Tramp Stamp."

On the undercard: Chips v salsa, Thelma v Louise, Snoopy v Woodstock. The edge: salsa, Louise, Snoopy.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Wednesday Wa Pic - If you have to ask, it's too late

If I were in charge of every museum display everywhere.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Substitute teaching, bored kids, and a nervous disposition

I was recently transported back in time by finding some old notes I made during a brief stint as a substitute teacher 15 years ago. Once I had given a class its task, I stood at the podium and pretended to write important teachery things, when in fact I was just capturing, for my entertainment, the flavor of the room.

I was not what they call, in teaching circles, a "natural."

Since it is back-to-school season, I thought I'd share some of these anecdotes with you. I only taught high school. My first morning of subbing ever, I was apparently not that stoked. I wrote: "Kids are flowing toward the school entrance like dirt down a drain." And this:

"Oh. The nervous sweaty butt. This morning I had the nervous sweaty butt in spades. My father always complained of sweaty hands when he got nervous. Me, my butt sweats. Sweats right through pants. I wonder for a moment if I can manage to teach three classes today, for four and a half hours, without ever turning my back on the students."

"It's dark so that the overhead projection can be seen better, and it seems like a cave. A cave full of unruly and disinterested bears."

"I make my 40 copies and head back to the classroom. I wonder if there is a way I can rub my butt to test for soak-through without calling attention to myself."

"They break into 'motif groups' to answer five questions, one of which is 'What is the function of the mule in Chapter Six?'"

"I collect whatever they have deigned to write a little before the period ends. Groups of them gather at the door like parole is finally coming after 10 years."

"These kids were born around 1987. Perhaps their mothers were pregnant during 'Hands Across America.' These are Cyndi Lauper babies, born during the Great Reagan, back when September 11th was still just a lot of kids' birthdays."

"I must seem like an idiot to these kids. I wonder if they are looking at my butt."

"I feel woozy, like I have lost blood, like I have had hundreds of little bites taken out of me."

"Five minutes before class ends, the 'VROOP' of the fire alarm goes off. I dismiss the class early by saying, 'Go check if there's a fire.'"

Taxpayers may rest easy knowing I did not make teaching my career.

. . .

So tell me...what makes YOU nervous? And where do you sweat when it does? Leave a comment below.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Wednesday Wa Pic - The Marines' unofficial motto?

Much like wi-fi, it can be pretty rare.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Smile though your heart is breaking: a history of Sept. 11

This is a somber date in American history, but elsewhere, not so much. If it is true that laughter is "good for what ails ya," as my mom says, it is in that spirit that I offer you September 11th down through history:
  • In 1390, as part of the Lithuanian Civil War, a siege of Vilnius is begun by the Teutonic Knights, who later make it to #3 on the Billboard charts with "Aš esu savo meilės ponis , ir mano meilė tau miega atsistojus." ("I am your love pony, and my love for you sleeps standing up.")
  • In 1541, indigenous warriors destroy Santiago, Chile, led by warrior Michimalonco, whose name, upon victory, is disappointingly not chanted by his troops, because of differing opinions on pronunciation.
  • In 1609, explorer Henry Hudson discovers the island of Manhattan, and by a stroke of dumb luck also invents a new river.
  • In 1714, the city of Barcelona surrenders to the Bourbon armies. The defeat goes down exceedingly smooth, with a woodsy finish and notes of apricot.
  • In 1789, Alexander Hamilton becomes the first U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, setting into motion a series of events which will result, 227 years later, in me waking up with these Broadway lyrics stuck in my head: “I’m past patiently waitin’ I’m passionately smashin’ every expectation. Every action’s an act of creation!" Thanks a lot, Alex.
  • In 1857, Paiute Indians and Mormons massacre 120 pioneers in Utah. But that's a different musical.
  • In 1897, Menelik II's forces capture Gaki Sherocho, the last king of Kaffa. I know what you are thinking—where's Frodo?
  • In 1922, the Treaty of Kars is signed in Armenia, swiftly followed by the Treaty of Airplanez and the Treaty of Motobykes.
  • In 1941, construction of the Pentagon begins, but costs increase exponentially when the contractor belatedly reveals that the fifth side is considered "extra."
  • In 1943, the German army occupies Kosovo-Metohija. Speaking of which, ever since an ill-advised game of trampoline basketball in the '90's, I have had a crick in my Kosovo-Metohija.
  • In 1968, the International Association of Classification Societies is formed. Several onlookers have to be rushed to the hospital with yawning injuries.
  • In 1972, the Bay Area Rapid Transit ("BART") system opens, dodging the public mockery which would have occurred if they had kept the rail service's original name, the Frisco Area Rapid Transit system.
Charlie Chaplin said it best—smile though your heart is breaking, 'cause somewhere, there's a fart joke in the making.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Wednesday Wa Pic - Over the rainbow and down the drain

 If you can train your dog to use it, you can win a lot of bar bets in Kansas.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

That feeling when your favorite soda goes extinct

If public outcry could save the Twinkie, why not my beloved, discontinued Moose Wheeze? I do not want to be accused of advertising, or of using this platform to lobby for a pallet of my favorite now-extinct soda to be delivered to my house (cough cough.) 

Let's just say a beverage company which rhymes with Pistol Miser has suddenly stopped manufacturing my favorite carbonated fruity drink, which rhymes with Moose Wheeze. They announced that their sales could not keep up with their costs. (That never stops the government, does it?)

My attachment is partly sentimental. I first encountered the drink 20 years ago when it was handed to me from a frosty ice chest in the hatchback of my boss' car after a brutal hike. Even disregarding the "team-bulding" aspect, it was delicious. Moose Wheeze has been in my fridge ever since. 

My boss, an irreverent and hilarious New Yorker with a deep, inexplicable hippie streak, died unexpectedly a couple of years ago. Being Jewish, he would be amused at my Communion-like remembrance of him whenever I open a bottle of Wheeze. 

When you reach a certain age, almost everything reminds you of something or somebody else. Moose Wheeze to me is Jack. Grape Crush is my Uncle Paul. There are those retro soft drink and candy stores around, but what they really sell is nostalgia. Moose Wheeze will never make the shelves, though. Although it was a favorite of mine, it evidently only ever attracted a small, discerning cadre of admirers, like "Eraserhead" does for film buffs.

Remember "Seinfeld" when Elaine began to hoard contraceptive sponges because the company stopped making them? Once a commodity becomes finite, be it an artist's work or a case of wine, each unit of it becomes instantly valuable. Unless, of course, the commodity is VHS copies of "Dr. Doolittle." 

I am aware that Moose Wheeze is not exactly the iconic Twinkie, and will rally no hordes online for reinstatement. Pistol Miser is owned by a Japanese corporation best known for, I kid you not, a sports drink and an anti-psychotic drug. I do not think these are people to whom you make sentimental pleas.

Ah well. My daughter miraculously found some Moose Wheeze for me on a recent road trip to Northern California. I may well own the last two bottles on Earth. That girl is SO getting a car for Christmas.