Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Bad Girls' Club, Naked Lunch, and The Wire

What do The Wire (season 2), Bad Girls' Club, and the 1991 film Naked Lunch all have in common?

A) Each features brilliant portrayals of men and women caught in fundamental human struggles central to most classic literature (survival vs. morality, objective/subjective perception, thongs vs. panties, etc.).

B) Each contains compelling performances depicting gay/lesbian/bi characters in lead and supporting roles.
C) Each is best appreciated stoned, or in some other diminished capacity.
D) All of the above

The correct answer is (D), but I'll be focusing on choice (C) here. One of the latest buzzphrases in the field of education is "the curse of knowledge," which I'm happy to report very few of today's youth seem to be accursed with. Actually, the idea is more about teachers: it's hard for an expert to remember what it's like to not understand something.

Fortunately, television/cinema is about having a good time, not actually learning something. For this reason, i'll go with the good old "ignorance is bliss" approach. Most of the stuff we watch these days favors the passive viewer, or at least the one that doesn't really know (or care) what the hell's going on. But let's not equate apathy with confusion here-- we can certainly enjoy something with passion and still not "understand it" at all.

No better example than Cronenberg's adaptation of the novel Naked Lunch. When the film was released, the hardcore Burroughs fans formed two distinct camps: those that trashed and disavowed the film, and those that got trashed and enjoyed the film immensely. As a proud member of the latter camp, I can honestly say I was more fucked up for the ??? Multiplex (somewhere out east on the L.I.E.) showing of Naked Lunch than I've ever been in a movie theater. It was also what I'd have to call a religious experience (especially the harrowing drive home!), no exaggeration. That film was beyond any notions of sense or meaning I'm familiar with; it simply was.

I saw the film about a half-dozen more times, in various states of varying intoxication. Once I was able to approximate that amazing debut performance, and apparently celebrated by watching most of the video completely naked in a 100+ degree apartment in Providence. Naked Lunch was untouchable in its genius until I watched it completely straight. I mean, it's still good, I guess, but golly if that film wasn't a hell of a lot better when shit didn't really make so much sense.

Ditto for the sophomore season of HBO's darling The Wire. I watched most of season 2 high as the top row at Camden Yards, usually "on demand" Friday nights. I kinda did this for the first season too, but nowhere near as consistently as this time. I LOVED season one, and if you asked me then, I LOVED season two as well. It didn't matter that much to me that Ziggy was fucking annoying as hell, or that they probably could've done the whole loading docks story in about three hours, or that nobody really cared that much about most of the new characters... I was enjoying the heck out of myself. I didn't really see what a bunch of dead white girls in the back of a truck had to do with anything I'd seen in the previous season, but I was too busy zoning out on other shit to mind much. Second and third viewings of said season weren't as forgiving, as the critical (focused?) eye revealed a bit too much. What a pity.

Our third example is a bit different. Now I've watched more than a few BGCs a sheet or two to the wind, but I've generally been better described as "diminished capacity." Just plain fucking tired, to be exact. Throw in the fact that I usually watched the show with the sound off, and we're talking about one mixed-up and diminished motherfucker! As far as I was concerned, the Bad Girls' Club had absolutely no plot or concept to it at all! How could anyone not enjoy this show!!!

Turns out the show really doesn't have anything to it. Jury's still out on whether I can actually watch the show without a fatigue-adjusted I.Q. in double digits, but last season's finale (which I stupidly watched completely awake and aware) makes me think I was better off before.

You can't go home again. Actually, you can. Just make sure your doctor doesn't write "no refills" on your script.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Braun 790cc Pulsonic shaver (part 1)

I'm not exactly sure why I started shaving with an electric razor at a young age. In fact, I honestly can't remember ever using an actual blade razor at all (except a trip when my old Braun got jacked out of my luggage in Ft. Lauderdale, forcing me to mutilate my face to comic proportions with a shit razor I bought at a gift shop).

What is it that makes about 30% of men choose an electric shave? I think it has a lot more to do with DNA than grooming styles-- it's passed down like attached earlobes and an inability to correctly pronounce the word "tarpaulin." It's possible that I never stood a chance.

Either way, I've been a happy buzzer for about twenty years now. I absolutely loved my last Braun 7505 model until the switch got stuck in the ON position at 11:00 at night on a weeknight. I had to let the fucking thing just run out its charge in the back of our apartment, wrapped up in a towel but still jerking and humming like a robotic armadillo. A tragic way to watch something you love pass away.

You know what? Let's give my 7505 a proper burial here... I share with you my top personal electric shaver moments:
1. Poughkeepsie, NY - A day or two before my graduation from college, we decided to have a little party at our apartment. I guess we got started a bit early; I was completely shitfaced by 4pm for our evening affair. I vaguely remember assembling bottles of Absolut, Jim Beam, Tangueray, and Bacardi together on a table, exclaiming, "ALL-STAR TEAM!!! FUCKING ALL-STAR TEAM!!!"
I disappeared for a little while, and re-emerged horrifyingly drunk just as our guests were arriving (including my own thin ice girlfriend). I guess I figured I had a little time to get ready before the big crowds showed up, so I strarted shaving right out in plain sight, staggering all around the apartment. My "shave" consisted of random stripes across my face, each of different direction and depth. Think crop circles.
I fell down the back stairs of our apartment and popped a nasty black eye just in time for my parents' proud arrival for their son's graduation.

2. Irving Plaza, NYC - My band was opening for Teenage Fanclub and Yo La Tengo, and possibly in the midst of a tour. I was hanging out in the common area dressing room with random leeches and indie rockers, including Yo La's own Ira and Georgia. In the middle of moderate-level conversation, a faint buzzing sound became audible in the corner of the room. There were bags and cases all over the joint, so nobody knew where the fuck it was coming from. Every few minutes, Ira would pipe in with a "You guys hear that sound over there?" and nobody seemed to give a crap. After about ten minutes I realized that it was my trusty Braun humming away in my road bag. I excused myself and came back when the coast was clear and switched off the noisy little bugger.

3. LaGuardia Aiport runway, NYC - In an eerie twist on the Irving Plaza incident, my wife was discretely summoned to the front of our ready-for-takeoff plane to Oklahoma City by a crew member and quizzed about the contents of her bag. I had no idea what was going on, so after a few minutes I went to the cockpit area and asked what the hell was going on. Apparently my wife's bag was vibrating (!) in the stowing area and required immediate attention. I defused the situation by explaining that my razor sometimes gets switched on, blah blah blah, sorry, I'll make sure it doesn't happen again, blah blah...

I have a pretty good story about an old housemate of mine too, but I'd rather not revisit that one at this time.

So, what about the Braun 790cc Pulsonic shaver? More on that in part 2... 

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Bad Puzzle Night

Last night was one of my worst Friday puzzles in recent memory. It went like this:
1) I jinxed myself by sending a totally unnecessary text to my friend at around 10pm, in which I called him a "dumbass" for asking me who introduced the symbol "e" for natural logs. All was downhill from there.
2) I was more than a little stoned, but nowhere near enough to warrant writing HOTTOMATO for "something passed without hesitation." I woke up this morning and fixed it right away, as if I were pulling on my drawers after a questionable hookup.
3) I was nearly passed out at 11pm when my hand filled in the unspeakable solution to 20 down: REDSOXNATION. I tossed the clipboard off the side of the bed (nearly hitting my 5 week-old little girl in the noggin) and went to sleep, utterly disgusted.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

It's time for baseball!

Can't wait to try out my new cheer when the Mets come to town...