Monday, March 17, 2008

Shamrocks and Shenanigans.

Today is St. Patrick's Day, commemorating the death of the man responsible for driving all the snakes out of Ireland, even though there's no physical evidence of snakes ever existing in post-glacial Ireland, and St. Patrick, born in England, only really ended up in Ireland after being sold into slavery. Anyone that needs more of an explanation of why the only widely-celebrated Irish holiday is based on falsehoods and exaggerations can watch me, being roughly half-Irish, drink after work today. As a representative of Ireland, not only will I talk about the above legends because I forgot about them being untrue, I'll probably tell you that I'm a race car driver and/or a professional assassin and/or the inventor of the ampersand.

I was at the gas station yesterday morning and, as I was trying to keep myself from being visibly frustrated by the price of gasoline, I realized that "Too Legit to Quit" by the legendary MC Hammer was playing over the loudspeakers. This made me laugh. First, I realize that this particular Shell station probably relies on satellite radio for its gas-pumping musical accompaniment, and therefore they probably can't really control what song is playing. 

However, somewhere in the world, there is a booth, and in that booth, a deejay is saying to himself, "You know what would be badass? 'Too Legit to Quit'. That would be awesome to hear right now. Let's do this." The end result of this decision is me, a complete asshole stranger potentially hundreds of miles away, looking at the speaker above his gas pump and saying "What the fuck?" silently to himself. It isn't so much the cheesy baselines or the ridiculous premise of a man singing about how he has amassed far too much credibility to quit performing, and then promptly quitting. It's not even the fact that, at one point, MC Hammer stepped in front of a mirror wearing a fitted four-button suitcoat, no shirt, and really, really, really big pants, and said to himself, "All right. Time to go on national television. Let's do this." It's that MC Hammer, his music, his popularity--his existence--is indicative of our collective fickle nature towards entertainment. We thought that MC Hammer was talented enough that his music was worth adding to our collections. We saw his album at the record store and said "I want to listen to this. A lot. Let's do this."

Sure, I had Please Hammer Don't Hurt 'Em, but, in all fairness, I was twelve, and I was probably wearing Umbros and a Hypercolor T-shirt. I also was the proud owner of Vanilla Ice's transcending To The Extreme, right there in my cassette case, alongside Motley Crue, Slaughter, Queensryche, 3rd Bass, Skid Row, Megadeth, and other music that I haven't touched since middle school, including but not limited to House of Pain, once famous for the title of this entry, alongside a song about jumping. If Grunge hadn't shown up when I was in eighth grade, there's a pretty good chance I'd be driving around in a leopard-interior Trans Am with lines shaved into the side of my head right now.

It's not like I've been above embracing trends since I've been old enough to know better, especially in the 1990's. I wore Abercrombie and Fitch clothes on top of Nine Inch Nails shirts to high school. I rocked out the floppy Zack Morris-esque wave until I decided to grow my hair down to my shoulders. I still have the same sideburns I grew when I was a junior in high school. All of this behavior seemed to be pretty average at the time. I suppose it probably always does. My editor, Joe, brought in Prom pictures from 1989 showcasing his mullet. Upon my asking the obligatory, "What the hell were you thinking," he answered by saying that at that point, mullets were somewhat fashionable. I thought about it, and that's about right. Mullets were basically passed from David Bowie to Bono to MacGyver to Joe Martin. He had no way of knowing that the hairstyle would suffer such widespread ridicule in later years, unlike people that proudly wear mullets now, who somehow haven't heard anything about how hilarious mullets are in 2008; in fact, not to show off my amazing prediction skills, but I pretty much knew the mullet was a damnable offense in 1993, and that was fifteen years ago.

The other day I was talking at lunch about something that somehow led to me mentioning hacky-sack as being something that I participated in while in college, and the high school interns looked at me like I was dropping acid. One of them mentioned that he hadn't seen anyone play in seven or eight years, and the other hadn't even heard of the term. Regardless, they both called me a dirty hippie and went on with their lunch. This leads me to ask, what are we, as a society, doing now that might become a laughable atrocity in the near future? What is our generation doing right now, in 2008, that Generation Z, or whatever the hell comes next, will look at in 2015 and think, "Oh my God, that's lame," or whatever slang term is an appropriate substitution for "lame" in 2015?

Actually, more to the point, what am I doing right now that falls into a category of being a dated activity? We've all seen our parents do something ridiculously trendy that we laugh about later. One of my first stealth sips of an alcoholic beverage was out of a Zima bottle, for God's sake. Yes, Zima®, like wearing giant pants and shaving lines into the side of our heads and wearing British Knights® (or L.A. Gear®) shoes and using a Thighmaster® and watching American Gladiators all seemed like pretty good ideas in 1991. Sure, we can claim irresponsibility for those decisions because we were younger then, but what happens when we're fully-fledged adults and somebody catches us wearing neon pink soccer shorts and drinking Zima?

Yes, all of these questions are meaningless for the time being, but I'm almost kind of glad that I'm recording them for posterity's sake. That way, when I'm reading this in 2020 on a transparent hard-light screen in front of me while I'm flying to work by way of my rocket belt, I'll say to myself, "I know now that I never should have assumed that cargo pants and Rockstar Energy Drink® were going to be around forever."

Time to go drink green beer.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Cristal and Offensive Facial Expressions.

Here's another illustration that I've done in the past couple of days; it's for a story from one of our contributors about how he and two of his buddies ran into Mark Cuban, dotcom billionaire/Dallas Mavs owner/reality television dance hero. They subsequently became part of his entourage and got shitfaced drinking Cristal out of the bottle.

I can't really say that I've had very many brushes with celebrities, at least any really notable ones. I was sitting in the lobby at the Mid-Ohio Comic Con a few years back and, upon accidentally making eye contact with David Carradine, I managed to stammer out, "Hey, how's it going?", to which he responded by winking at me on his way to the men's room. Yeah. David Carradine. "Kung Fu" David Carradine. "Kill Bill" David Carradine. Winked at me.

According to my major internet obsession Wikipedia:

The wink is an intentional facial expression made by briefly closing one or both eyes. To wink is to close and open either one or both eyelids with a rapid motion; to blink suggests a sleepy, dazed, or dazzled condition in which it is difficult to focus the eyes or see clearly. A wink is a form of semi-formal communication, which indicates shared, unspoken knowledge.
A “naughty wink” can silently indicate a shared secret, such as if a salesperson gives a customer a brochure and says, “Here you go; it’s free”. Infrequently, it may also mean “got it” or “yes, I understand”.
In Western cultures, women may wink to men they are interested in dating, but this has grown out of fashion, though still used occasionally. Winking is also done by men to women, often to convey a message of “I like what I see here” or “Hello, I am interested in getting to know one another if that is agreeable with you.”
In Latin American cultures, winking is also a romantic or sexual invitation, but can also be used a casual sign of recognition or of acceptance of behavior among friends.[1] In Nigeria, winking is a signal for children to leave the room.[1] Many Asians, especially Chinese and Indian women, consider winking to be rude.[1]

I would take to time out right now to rip on whoever wrote this Wikipedia entry for their hilariously robotic sense of casual slang, but...well, I'm just not going to. 

To the point, I don't mean to say that David Carradine was hitting on me, because that wouldn't make any sense; he probably just wasn't thinking about what he was doing with his face while he was politely trying to avoid talking to me. As a matter of fact, in college, I'm pretty sure I used to wink at people on a pretty regular basis for no apparent reason, which I'm pretty sure was a conversational side-effect of my ever prevalent mass ingestion of alcohol. Unfortunately, this gesture carried over, on accident, to my job working in amusement parks, and I often found myself winking involuntarily at people in situations where it could easily be considered inappropriate, especially since most of the people I was accidentally winking at were high school girls that were anywhere from five to ten years younger than me.

Me: "Hey, what's up with your cash register?"

Oblivious High School Girl: "I don't kept beeping at me. That cash register hates me."

Me: "Cash registers feel no emotion and lack the cognitive capacity necessary to judge you. Here, look...judging by your log tape, you've had it set on 'void' for your last twenty-seven transactions. I'll fix it."

Oblivious High School Girl: "Oh...oh God. You're not going to write me up, are you? I'm already covering other shifts to make up for being late."

Me: "No, it was an honest mistake. Just don't do it again, or we'll have to work you (wink)." 

My Inner Monologue: (Oh, no...did I just wink again? Oh, shit, did I just say 'work you' to a high school girl and then WINK? Fuck. FUCK! What the fuck is WRONG with me? How could I possibly...

Red Alert! Shields up! Port and Starboard Eyelids, blink uncontrollably. All right, good, keep it up. Right hand, jam Right Index Finger into Right Eye on my mark! And...MARK. Good. Index Finger, rub Right Eye. Dammit, be careful around that contact lens, Index Finger! 

Okay, okay...that's it. Right Hand, abort the operation, I repeat, stand down. We've done all we can. All we can do now is wait.)

Oblivious High School Girl: "Okay. Thanks! Hey, what's wrong with your eye?"

My Inner Monologue: (False alarm, false alarm. Jesus, that was close. Legs, take us out of here, three-quarters maximum walking speed.)

Me: "Nothing. My contact lens has been bothering me all morning. Make sure you call if you need anything else from me (wink)."

My Inner Monologue: (DAMN IT!)

In retrospect, things like narrowly avoiding potential lawsuits because of misplaced facial miscommunications probably made me the paranoid reactionary that my employees had to deal with on a regular basis. So I have to forgive David Carradine for winking at me, because I'm just like David Carradine, except for the extensive background in Tai Chi. And the acting. And the age difference. All right, I am, admittedly, nothing like David Carradine, except for the tendency to accidentally wink inappropriately at people.

Wow. I dare myself to make less sense.