The Dog and Bicycle
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…you might like @FakeMAThesis.

Like A Bridge Over Troubled Water

This one is from sometime in 1994 or 1995. This is my award winning spaghetti bridge. I don’t remember who was on my team, perhaps @jordanmark88, I don’t recall. But I remember that before starting our bridges, we learned about strong shapes like triangles and how suspension bridges work. So that’s what I designed. We had a bridge deck, suspension styling, and lots of triangles. Also, you can see that even 15 years ago, dictionaries and thesauruses (thesauri?) were mostly useful only as a way to prop up construction projects.

Anyway, we won the competition, even though our bridge didn’t hold the most weight. There were a few stipulations that governed the competition. The bridge had to be a certain length, points were given for the weight of the bridge itself, and aesthetics were a consideration. Our bridge was the only bridge long enough to span the gap. Stunning. Our bridge was the lightest but still held the second most weight. TRIANGLES!!! And, clearly, our bridge was the prettiest. You know when you put a fistful of spaghetti in a pot of boiling water and it all gets stuck together? That’s what the other kids built. Giant, forearm-sized glue sculptures. Terrible.

Do kids still get to do this?

The Olden Days

So I found all of these old photo prints in a couple of photo albums. I’m talking paper prints in cardboard photo albums. IRL. Crazy, I know. They date from some time in the early Eighties and extend to some time in the late Nineties as far as I can tell.

They are great little time capsules of recentalgia so I’m going to blog them randomly, periodically, and at times scornfully and embarrassingly.

The first:

Oy, my god, where to begin. The sheer Nineties radiance is blinding. I happen to know that this was 1994, the day before the Lions won the Grey Cup. That’s Mark on the left; when we were kids we used to go visit his grandparents in Vancouver and Grumpy (his grandfather) would schlep us all over town. This time we did all the pre-Grey Cup events at BC Place. So here we are, on the field, posing with a woman wearing definitely the tightest pants we had seen up that point in our young lives. I think I came home with a poster of all the cheerleaders; so many high waists; bangs a-poppin’.

I’m just going to start pointing out awesome shit:

  • Spaghetti plate Canucks jersey before they changed the orange and other orange to red and yellow.
  • The guy behind Mark: great sweatpants. Kudos.
  • My faded, shitty Chicago Bulls hat. That shit was Starter. I paid for it with my own money.
  • Mark’s big shoes: His mom, like all moms, used to buy him stuff that he would grow into. These big shoes caused him to fall on his face, on the field, in front of several thousand people.
  • You might have to look at the original size of the photo to see it, but it looks like there is a guy wearing a matching Miami Dolphins hat and jacket combination. Ace Ventura: Pet Detective came out the same year. Coincidence?
  • Look how skinny I am! First and last time.

More to follow.

You died the way you lived, inside a whale

So I ended up watching Pirates of Silicon Valley last night, a TNT movie about the advent of personal computing by Steve Jobs and its subsequent theft by Bill Gates. Now, everyone knows Gates is a weasel and always has been, but the portrayal of Jobs is very interesting because this film is set pre-iPod. That’s right, the movie came out in 1999, the second to last year of increasing album sales, before the precipitous drop-off starting in 2001 caused in large part by that magical little white box. The music industry and computing were still separate entities in 99. A smart phone was like, “hey, what a smart-lookin’ phone.” And Steve Jobs was an asshole apparently; he may have been a messiah then as he was more recently, but he wasn’t a nice guy. People didn’t feel sorry for him; he was an uncompromising jerk (at least according to the filmmakers). But now, posthumously, and post-iPod, he is remembered as visionary, powerful protector of the greatest industrial designer to have ever lived (Jonathan Ive), a guy in a black turtleneck and jeans who seemed like he would lend you a Credence record for as long as you like. The difference is only 12 years.

And the craziest goddamn thing is that less than 12 years ago, Muammar Gaddafi was hobnobbing with Western political elite and seemed like he might be a gateway to Middle Eastern moderation, and today he’s dead and laid up in a food court freezer and everybody hates the guy. People celebrated his death via social networks on devices created by Jobs.

I guess I’m just saying that Jobs checked out at the right time, not that it was his choice (!?). Gaddafi should have kicked it a few years ago. But maybe once you’re gone it doesn’t matter. Maybe it’s good to be remembered at all.

Teenage Mutant etc.

So I just rewatched the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie. And after 21 years, it holds up somehow. It’s a little noir, a little campy, the costumes and animatronic heads still look pretty good (way better than CG), April is 90s hot but if you remember the 90s that’s okay, and the soundtrack is sort of amazing because it’s all pre-grunge and pre-gangsta rap (Digital Underground FTW). But there are a couple funny things I noticed:

Clearly the only curse word they were allowed to use was “damn.” Not dammit, not damn you, just damn. It appears frequently.

New York City in this film is essentially drug and alcohol free, in spite of the teeming masses of criminals. If this movie were made today, Shredder would have to be a speed freak selling speed to speed-addicted crack babies.

Speaking of Shredder, his introduction feels a lot like that scene from Beyond Thunderdome - “Can. You. DIG IT!!” - with outfit to match.

Virtually every death in the film (of which there are few) is a joke: electrocution, falling off a building into a dump truck, it doesn’t matter, almost every one of them is intended to be comedic.

It’s a little bit racist and a little bit homophobic, but not ironically.

That is all.

Eating Crow

I never saw The Crow when it came out in 1994. The dark and violent film that ultimately killed star Brandon Lee should have been catnip to my twelve-year-old self. I don’t know why I didn’t see it. It’s not like my parents shielded me from violent films.

Anyway, I watched it this morning. Thoughts, in point form, follow:

  • It looks like it was directed by a drunk-ass Tim Burton.
  • Why does The Crow choose leather pants? Restrictive.
  • The green screen work looks terrible. I had forgotten that bad overlays used to exist.
  • The soundtrack is representative of the time and does not suck at all. JAMC FTW.
  • In which year is this movie supposed to have taken place? It looks like 1989 and 1889.
  • The explosions are unreasonable: some are too big, some are too small. A car loaded with multiple sticks of TNT explodes like a box of H-ween sparklers. A pawn shop with a gallon of gasoline on the floor goes fucking Hiroshima.
  • The phrases “stupid ass hair” and “what the crap” are both used as expletives.
  • I really want The Crow’s apartment. It’s sweet.

So yeah, weird film. I don’t get why it did so well with critics and at the box office. I guess people like to see a recently dead actor on the big screen, right, The Dark Knight?.

Dana Who?

I’ve been listening to a lot of “alternative” comedy lately. This genre is mainly podcasted by people like Chris Hardwick (Nerdist), Doug Benson, Scott Aukerman, Paul F. Tompkins, et al, and features all of their very funny associates, like Reggie Watts, Garfunkel and Oates, and a whole bunch of others. And so many of them cut their teeth in the mid-90s and are always referencing the short-lived Dana Carvey Show.

If you’re older than, I don’t know, let’s say 25, you probably remember Dana Carvey being funny for things other than Wayne’s World. And he was, but I hadn’t seen anything from him in years, so I decided to check out the eight episodes he made in 1996, to check out what today’s funniest people, in my opinion, thought was funny, and whether it holds up.

So I’ve watched two episodes. And all of it is funny, but watching it feels like opening a time capsule. In two, 21-minute eps, there was a sketch about hockey that showed the spaghetti plate Canucks jersey; a sketch about Oliver Stone and Antonio Banderas; another one about Paul Hogan refusing to make another Crocodile Dundee movie; constant Johnny Carson impressions; and a fake top ten list of new names for Princess Diana, in which Carvey as “Church Lady” calls Diana a slut over, and over, and over. 

If you’re keeping score, the Canucks have been bewhaled since ‘97, Stone hasn’t been relevant since ‘99 (Any Given Sunday), Banderas since ‘98 (The Mask of Zorro, which, I know, is a bit charitable), Paul Hogan made the third Dundee film in ‘01, Carson retired in ‘92 and died in ‘05, and Diana was murdered by the media only a year after the first episode aired.

And the craziest god damn thing is that I have had conversations with people who were born after most of this went down. So if today’s best comedy is referencing comedy that is a complete mystery to today’s young tastemakers, is that why Dane Cook gets work?

I have to go ice my knee and finish this bourbon. G’night.

On Sadness

Which scenario is sadder?:

-Talking puppies begging for their lives while being mercilessly slaughtered by crying, masturbating Pagliacci clowns


-Eating a footlong subway sandwich while weeping during the last episode of Firefly on your computer and dripping mayonnaise into the keyboard

Let me know on twitter @shuttersteed

My attention span is starting to…

I think they’re right about the internet - it’s killing my attention span. With the sheer variety and availability of interesting shit online, I can’t seem to get locked in on anything these days. Reading a novel is a herculean effort, made more shameful by the fact that I once was a literature student who could knock off a novel in one shift at the video store. I’m obsessed with movies, and I used to have no problem sitting through four-hour silent melodramas. But the other day I got a little restless in the middle of Gamer starring Gerard Butler. Maybe I’m just getting stupider.

Maybe it’s Twitter’s fault. New tweets, most of which are funny, roll into my feed every couple of minutes. The upside is that I’m never bored. The downside is that every couple of minutes I get lost in a maelstrom of puns and clicks.

It doesn’t help that my work day is filled with short tasks and consults. Almost nothing I do lasts longer than half an hour. Which, again, is great for alleviating boredom, but I think it’s killing my ability to focus.

So I think I’m going to focus on people. Like, actual humans, because they’re harder to ignore and offer more in terms of interaction. I’m going to let the internet be distracting while I’m alone, but I’m going to try to be better to humans. So if you see me being an asshole, assume it’s my iPhone’s fault and start a conversation with me.

For god’s sake, use your turn signal you bastards

I have been employed for the last 2.5 weeks. I have ridden my bicycle to work 10 out of 12 work days. TEN PERCENT OF THOSE BIKE RIDES HAVE ENDED IN INJURY TO MY PERSON. This is madness. It’s not because people are speeding (they are), it’s not because people are swerving or talking on the phone or trying to run me down because they hate crackers. It’s because no one signals when they turn right, and no one shoulder checks when turning right. 

The right turn is the devoted nerd the head cheerleader takes for granted. He’ll always be there, ready to be taken advantage of, without any consideration to the consequences. And me, on the bike, I’m the nerd’s feelings. And mostly, the nerd is angry.

So I yell at everyone. A lot. Every day. 

Today I reached someone. A woman turned right in front of me without signalling or shoulder checking; I was paying attention, so no injury was sustained. As I pulled past her dull grey mini-SUV, waiting to turn, I bellowed, “How about a turn signal!” at which point she rolled down her window and said, “I’m really sorry, I’ve had a terrible day.” Now, I don’t know why having a terrible day would make you forget to signal, but the way she said it made me believe that she is ready to change, to be a better person, to kill at least fewer cyclists.

So as long as I scream at one person every day and have a 100% success rate, it should only take about 100,000 work days to safeguard my trip to work, which is only 260 years. Bring it on.

Follow me on Twitter @shuttersteed

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