Archive for January 2008

January 29th, 2008

My Face! My Valuable Face!

I have to say I’m pretty proud of myself for sticking with this bike-commuting thing. I’ve been doing it almost every workday for three months now, retroactively earning the new wheels I’ve already bought myself.

The only conditions under which I allow myself to take my car are when I have to transport something too large to handle on a bike, when it’s raining, or when the temperature outside gets below 32°. And that’s air temperature, mind you. I don’t go by the windchill. Mostly because, what kind of a pansy would I be if I went by “the windchill?” But also because, on a bike, you’re subjecting yourself to windchill far worse than what’s forecast anyway, so that number is basically meaningless.

On the 33° or 34° degree mornings, when I begrudgingly climb onto my steed and start pedaling, things tend to get quite blustery. Chilled air moving rapidly over naked hands and faces can have some extremely unpleasant results. Thus I got some gloves, and proceeded to grow myself a beard (often called “the gloves of the face”).

It’s really doing it’s job protecting me from the elements. In fact, the bushier it gets, the more like some sort of invincible superhuman I feel. So I decided I’d lay off the trimmer and let it grow out for while, a la that guy from Iron & Wine or Santa Claus.

And speaking of Santa Claus/beards (this is not yet another post where I go on and on about biking, here’s where I’m really going with it) for Christmas this year my sister got me a seriously manly shaving set. It has a brush and foam and some aftershave whose packaging informs you, very insistently, in 14-pt. type, that it is “alcohol-based” as if it actually has extra alcohol molecules infused into it somehow just so it burns you more and screw you and your “sensitive-skin face lotion.” The pièce de résistance, however is one of those old-school metal straight-headed “safety” razors and some shiny new blades. The razor is by a British company called, I kid you not, “Wilkinson Sword.” Upon receiving all this, I had the strong urge to shave my face.

I didn’t want to give up my beard, and therefore my imperviousness to the cold, just yet, but the area around a beard requires the occasional shave, so I’ve used my new set-up a few times for this, being very careful and deliberate with what is really just the implement that people nowadays use to scrape paint and stickers off of windows, at the end of a stick. The first four or five shaves went great. Nary a nick on my noggin. I got the hang of holding the handle at the proper angle right away, and it seems to get closer than today’s razors do.

Well, I guess I got cocky or took too much time between shaves and allowed my muscle memory to revert to what it does when I use my forgiving, pivot-headed Mach3, because two days ago I haphazardly picked up “The Sword,” placed it way up under my eye — ’cause sometimes those stray hairs sprout really high up on your face and don’t you act like I’m some hairy apeman and this only happens to me — and, for some reason, I moved it about half-an-inch to the right, horizontally, slashing the bejesus out of myself. It didn’t hurt at first since the blade was so freaking sharp, but it bled like crazy. I thought for a minute I might actually have to go for stitches, but it clotted quickly.

I’m sure this slice will heal and disappear eventually, but in the mean time I’m going to have some explaining to do. The size and vicinity of the wound are closer to an embellishment suggested by the Hollywood make-up artist’s handbook in the chapter about “pirate crews” than a shaving mishap. I’ve already had a few exchanges where someone’s asked me what happened and I’ve said “I cut myself shaving” and their gaze has shifted down to my puffy beard and I’ve explained “I was touching up around it.” At which point they’ve focused back on the length and shape of the cut, which I think might be physically impossible to get with a modern razor. “I was using one of those old-fashioned safety razors,” I say. Then they sort of step back and take in the whole picture and notice that the cut is way up under my eye, and I guess they either conclude that I’m lying and I run a knife-fighting ring in secret, or that I am a werewolf, and walk away.

What really sucks is this would be a pretty cool scar if I had a better story to go with it. Maybe I’ll just start telling people I took a crazy spill off of my bike. ’Cause I was riding to work carrying a big-screen TV. In a thunderstorm. In sub-zero temperatures.

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January 23rd, 2008

Hey Bass Playa!

\”Yesterday I Heard The Rain\” Tag

My good friend Jerry Updyke, normally a humble bass guitarist, performs all four part to the ending tag of “Yesterday I Heard The Rain.” I can’t tell which aspect of the video is more impressive: his ability to harmonize or his facial expressions.

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January 17th, 2008

“John” from the Recent Apple Product Videos Quits His Job “At One of Our Apple Retail Stores” and Gets Into Organized Crime

“Hi there, I’m John, one of the guys from Vinnie’s gang, and tonight I’m here to collect on those gambling debts you owe us.

“As you may know, Vinnie has made paying your gambling debts easier than ever. All you had to do was put the money in an envelope and drop it by any of our many, easy-to-locate bookies, during normal business hours. It’s easy.

“The only other thing you had to remember was to drop off your money within the specified amount of time Vinnie gave you and with the proper amount of interest included. It seems you’ve failed to do that though, so now I’m going to use some intimidation.

With intimidation, I can get Vinnie the money he’s owed more easily than ever. Let’s take a look at some of intimidation’s innovative features.

“Before starting intimidation it’s a good idea to drink a few martinis in a seedy bar, as I’ve done tonight. Martinis will give you the edge you need to use intimidation to it’s fullest potential. In fact, drinking martinis and then using intimidation works great not only for collecting money, but also for hijacking, racketeering, even extortion.

“I’m going to use a specific piece of hardware for intimidation tonight, called “a crowbar.” A crowbar integrates seamlessly with intimidation, allowing me to break things like your ribs, arms, and ankles and send the message that if you don’t cough it up soon you’ll receive further bodily harm. Here, I’ll show you how.

“There. That sensation was your kneecap shattering into a hundred pieces. Vinnie has always insisted on using things like a crowbar. They really work. Now, as you’re down on the ground writhing in pain, I’ll be punching you in the nose. Punching you in the nose is a great thing to try out when you’re using intimidation. It’s a time when all these gold rings that working for Vinnie has allowed me to buy really come in handy. Punching you in the nose might break it, or it might just bleed a lot. Either way, it’s going to hurt. That’s what’s so great about punching you in the nose.

“As you can see, you’ve gotten a stunning amount of blood on the windbreaker I’m wearing. (The windbreaker is the preferred jacket for many rank-and-file members of organized crime syndicates.) Just for that, I’m going to kick you in the stomach a few times with these alligator shoes.

“Now I’m simply going to tell you I’ll be back to collect Vinnie’s money soon. Some mobsters out there give you very limited amounts of time to do this. We don’t. Vinnie is providing you with a stunning, easy-to-remember two-day window in which to find the dough.

“So that’s how I’m going to get Vinnie his money back, in a nutshell. Remember, you can always check that back alley behind the social club downtown for more information on any of Vinnie’s preferred methods for collecting money, or any of the other great services Vinnie has to offer. Thanks.”

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