Monthly Archives: January 2016

I Miss the Bermuda Triangle

What ever happened to the Bermuda Triangle? Growing up in the 70s and 80s, it was everywhere, and as a kid I couldn’t get enough of it. If it wasn’t being featured on the premiere 80s mystery show “In Search Of,” (by the way narrated by Leonard Nimoy), it was the topic of some Sunday night television special. We were dazzled with unexplained ship and airplane disappearances. One minute planes and ships were innocently flying through the airspace off the coast of Florida, and the next minute *BAM*! They went off the radar and were never heard from again. And of course there was never any evidence of wreckage or survivors in life boats. Believe me, before people got to see all kinds of crazy stuff on the internet, this was freaky.

For an 8th grade school project, I read the bestseller Bermuda Triangle, by Charles Berlitz. As part of the project, I wrote him a letter — hand-written in my best cursive and mailed in care of the publisher. How quaint, I know. He responded with a typed letter, hand signed. A real writer wrote me back! I think I asked him about his research, and as I was an aspiring writer, how to write a whole book on one subject, or some such star-struck nonsense.

I wished I’d kept the letter, especially to revisit the “research” part. The other day I went out to dinner with my friends Chris, Joe, and Mike — named in alpha order so there are no favorites (except you all are my favorites, I promise!) — and in “Sex and the City,” fashion, I boldly asked, “Whatever happened to the Bermuda Triangle?” I thought maybe it had fallen out of pop culture favor, what with those Kardashians and the celebrity-of-the-week seen prancing around on the beach in a bikini distracting people from really important pop culture topics like the Bermuda Triangle. But, sadly, no. Seems it’s been explained! Countless hours of video and film, thousands of pages devoted to this amazing mystery. Explained.

I was crushed.

Chris said that some sort of ocean gas had been determined to be the culprit. At least I think that’s what he said. I was taking solace in an excellent glass of red wine. But I couldn’t accept that as the final decision, and so I went to Wikipedia, and while I was grateful that there was even an entry, what I found there was even worse. There were a whole bunch of reasons debunking my beloved Bermuda Triangle, including that the *ahem* research was rather spotty for many of the books written about it. Charles, how could you! The authors seemed to leave out crucial details, such as when you look at the data, ships and planes disappear equally from all parts of the ocean. Turns out it’s big, empty, and likes to kick puny human ass with ginormous storms, and yes, there are those gas thingys Chris mentioned. All of which amounts to accepting that my childhood fascination is less significant that the Kardashians. And that’s a bitter pill to swallow.

But I’ve learned a thing or two about the internet. All I need is a new, unexplained disappearance, and then I can use social media to let everyone know.  I can reach a whole new audience who has never heard about the Bermuda Triangle, and all I need is one baseless, yet authoritative assertion to get the ball rolling. Maybe I can contact Charles Berlitz with a ouija board. I just can’t let it go without fight.

Well maybe I can. As the night went on, Joe decided if I had a pseudonym, it should be Sexy Pants La Rue. That’s how awesome my friends are; we can cover the waterfront of engaging topics. So if I can’t get the Bermuda Triangle back on the map, at least I have a cool pseudonym. Take that Kim.

 

Hell’s Angels Are Back, the Four-Legged Version

I pulled out some little used breakfast bars from the rotating shelf of my cupboard the other day to find they had already been enjoyed by small furry things that are not our hamster Marble, who is too nervous to leave his cage, even if you leave the door wide open; forget about going on safari to the kitchen. No, these hooligans had managed to find the only food I haven’t sealed up in a plastic box. After moving to this apartment two years ago, the ne’er-do-well marauders showed up. I’d had mice at my last place, and learned the hard way not to leave unsealed food around. The mice at my other place had also discovered our hamster’s food supply. One night I passed the cage on the way to the bathroom, and saw the hamster running in the wheel, ignoring the startled little hellion tearing around the cage and frantically squeezing himself between the metal bars. As he shot out of the cage, he catapulted into the nearby Kleenex box, and then panicked and ran around blindly in the tissues, while I picked up the box up and sent him on his way to meet his maker. It was like a goddamn miniature Cirque du Soleil.

But when I moved I became lax at the new place and had unsealed food in the cupboard, on my counter, and in my pantry.  Once I saw out of the corner of my eye the telltale dark blur dart across my white, tiled kitchen floor, I heaved a sigh, and went about sealing up food, setting the traps, and was ready to resume my mouse-free life in a few weeks.

But this turned out to be the Hell’s Angels gang of mice, with particular tastes. I had followed the advice of my previous exterminator and the online experts and set the traps with peanut butter, the most effective bait, they all assured me. Except if you have a roving gang of hooligans. Then they sit around the trap, laughing at the untouched peanut butter, smoking cigarettes, swigging whisky from a flask, and nibbling on the M&Ms and the chocolate chip cookies they scored from unopened bags.

So I thought I was being clever and began baiting the traps with chocolate, but they had another good laugh at that. They ignored the chocolate and had moved on to terrorizing taco sauce packets and the boxes of juice bags stored away from the other food. At least ten bags had little bite holes slowly leaking out juice everywhere. I started to think these were urban super mice that had escaped from some university lab where they were being bred to taste-test foods for marketing companies. But something had gone horribly wrong and they were roving the streets pillaging, rampaging, and making me feel like Bill Murray’s character in Caddy Shack.

When I told my sister about them, she had even weirder food stories about the mice in her and my brother-in-law’s house in Vermont. Those freaks seemed to have some sort of chemical dependency and chewed through a box of Brillo pads. Then they moved on to an entire bag of honey menthol cough drops. When that source dried up, they needed a bigger high and chewed a hole in a bottle of Clorox. And their big eff you to her was piling a perfect pyramid of sunflower seeds hulls under her pillow in her bed. Mind you her bedroom is on the floor above the utility room where the seeds were stored. No low-class mucking about in the mudroom for these entitled little bastards. They were sitting in her bed, reclining against her pillow and patting their filled bellies, high on Clorox, watching TV, and flicking the clicker, which they also enjoyed chewing on. You can’t tell me these are just animals going on instinct. I think they watch us and then do the things that will piss us off the most.

So how did I get rid of the first round of mice? I put sweet and spicy food near the trap and caught a few stupid young ones that way, and then sealed up everything else. The mouse gang got bored when there was nothing left to laugh at me about and moved on. All was well for two winters until my recent discovery of the telltale nibbles in the only place the last gang was never able to get to–that rotating shelf in the cupboard. God knows how they are getting to it. The shelves don’t touch the walls and then center pole is metal. I think this new gang is some sort of high-tech ninja team, rappelling in with Mission Impossible skills. Like the hooligans, they were also very specific about what they ate. Yes to the Nutri-Grain and Quaker bars, but no to the high-fiber cereal until it was the very last thing I sealed up. Welcome to middle-age you little bastards. I hope you pooped yourself to death.

Photo credit: http://rudlinconsulting.com/tag/bandai/

 

The Re-Flex Flex Flex

My friends and I have many fond memories and bonding moments over Duran Duran, that fabulously stylish 80s band that saved MTV from the early years of music videos. This was a bleak, dark time when videos were new, and music producers would cover a set with shiny plastic or satin sheets or whatever they could find hanging around the office, throw the band in, with or without their instruments, and say, “Go!” (I’m talking to you Flock of Seagulls in “I Ran” and Billy Squier in “Rock Me Tonight.”) Duran Duran changed that by being stylishly dressed, good-looking, and creating lush visuals that were like mini indie movies. They may not have made any sense, but they were wicked fun to watch.

My dancing friend Mike and I share a particular fondness for the song “The Reflex,” and the video is part concert footage, part classic Duran Duran arty presentation, and part animated waterfall crashing over the audience. This is ground breaking stuff, people. One scene in particular captured our imaginations, and we revere it to this day. In my highly reliable memory, the video pans on a guy dancing way up in the nose-bleed seats and he has this fantastic bouncy move — legs and arms completely match the beat of the song. This is no shot of screaming fans generically bouncing up-and-down with hands in the air. Oh, no, this guy has the moves. Mike and I always copy that move whenever we are dancing to the song, we always mention him when we hear that song, and heck, we talk about him randomly even without the song. It’s not an overstatement to say he’s our video dancing hero.

So one day after yet another reference to The Reflex Dancing Guy, I had a hankering to once again see him in action. I watched the video breathless, waiting for him. At first I was swept up in the rush of 80s fabulousness as Mssr. Simon Le Bon crooned, swaggered, tossed his 80s hairdo around, and pranced about the stage. The arty flashing of random images of light and shadow on profiles and naked torsos, the sparkling, in-sync dancing back-up singers, the double screen shots — all food for the 80s soul. My god, they were music video geniuses. But after about a minute, I slowly came to my senses. Where was Dancing Guy? I looked harder as my heart rate elevated. More Simon with closeups of his beautiful face and pouty lips and his wicked cool hoop earring. Left ear only, which all the cool people knew meant he was straight.

I started breaking out in a sweat. Had I imagined Dancing Guy? In my mind he took up a quarter of the video or at least was shown two or three times; I mean, he’s got those moves. Where the hell was he? Finally, there he was at time stamp 1:31, and whoops there he went by 1:32. If I had looked at a text message, I would have missed my glorious hero.

Huh. He must come back again, I thought.

But no, The Reflex Dancing Guy got only his 1.5 seconds of fame. Don’t get me wrong. I thoroughly enjoyed the rest of the three minutes of this delicious slice of 80s, including the girl who lifts her head from her hands with tears streaming down her cheeks. This is the real deal my friends. All videos that followed have Duran Duran to thank, and I can say that because I was forced to watch the pre-Duran Duran Buggles singing “Video Killed the Radio Star,” a hundred times.

But I have to admit that if I were watching the video today, I might have missed The Reflex Dancing Guy who changed my life. I can only surmise that my deep love for Duran Duran and MTV’s merciless rotation allowed me to see this guy enough times for him to become my fantastic dancing icon. So, thank you, Dancing Guy. I can only hope to inspire anything similar in anyone for any amount of time.

 

How to Be a Resolution Rock Star

I find resolutions fascinating, mostly because people have such strong reactions for or against them. Folks tend to fall into two camps:

  1. I must lose 20 pounds, work out more, finally get through War and Peace.
  2. Resolutions are stupid, self-destructive, and are the end of civilization as we know it.

Of course there are entire industries to support both options. There are experts to tell you in great detail how to lose 20 pounds, work out more, and get through War and Peace. I’ll bet you could rattle off some of the tips without so much as a Google search. “Set realistic goals, have an exercise buddy, stalk your high school English teacher on Facebook and see if he or she will accept a report on War and Peace from you as a way to be accountable.” Blah, blah, blah. Who among us can honestly say we haven’t been sucked into one of those lists of top 10 ways to succeed at your resolutions? Liars.

The anti-resolution people are just as adamant and have their own lists of why people fail. These experts maintain that most people making resolutions are doomed and their failure just reinforces the bad feelings that led them to the resolutions in the first place. Then the bad feeling forces the hapless resolvers to do better the next year, with the same results. It’s a vicious cycle that the anti-resolution people seem to kind of enjoy writing lists about.

The truth is that probably most people start off in the first camp and get so pissed off they become members of the second camp. But let’s get real. Both sides have their points, and there’s every reason to believe you are good enough and smart enough (and gosh darn it people probably like you) to continue on with your life without having to lose 20 pounds, work out more, or read War and Peace. That is unless you were that person in front of me who was still stopped, even though the traffic light had turned green, because you were texting, watching a kitten video, or checking your Twitter feed. Then you really are as bad as your resolutions are going to make you feel, and I hope you fail miserably every year.

I don’t think it’s a bad idea to review once a year where you are in your life and what you have become, especially if you have become a phone zombie. If you feel like you could make a few changes, take heart and listen up. The problem is people set their sights too high. Forget about all that “make specific, manageable goals” poppycock. The key my friends is be less specific and keep the bar low. For example, if you want to lose weight, downgrade it to eating better. The beauty of this is that it can mean anything you want. Just inhaled a Snickers bar? No problem, eat an apple chaser. Better eating. Done.

Family driving you crazy? No worries. Your resolution could be to have more patience with them. So next time Uncle Bob is hocking a loogie at the dinner table, just go to your happy place. You get credit for not launching yourself at Uncle Bob and pummeling the loogie out of him. See? More patience. Done. God, how I love that disgusting phrase, hock a loogie. My resolution is to work it into my daily life at least once. Oh, look! I just did. Done. And I also resolve to use the fun word “poppycock” in a sentence. Yes! Two for two!

You are now a resolution rock star. You’re welcome. Happy New Year!