Doing Things – The Van Damme Way™!

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Ironing a Shirt The Van Damme Way!

Any real man knows that there is no shame in helping out around the house. If you live alone then you have no choice (until someone magically creates a service wherein a person, or persons, comes to your home to take care of light housekeeping duties for an agreed upon fee, but let’s restrict ourselves to the real world, OK?). In either instance, you need to know how to perform a few rudimentary tasks to keep your place and person in presentable shape, i.e. to attract a potential partner, or keep the one you’ve already snared. These are the only reasons to keep a tidy home, so if you are single and have no intention of coupling, pull on one of your wrinkly shirts, put your feet up on your almost certainly fast food container-strewn coffee table, and watch Universal Soldier: The Return for the nineteenth goddamn time.

For everyone else, special skills are required (unless a forward-thinking entrepreneur invents a business where you take shirts and pants to a specifically designated building and leave them to be cleaned, starched and pressed but, again, this isn’t science fiction). Approaching such a task may prove daunting to those not stout of heart, but assuming those are exactly the kind of people who would buy this book, I suggest three stages to vanquish this chore The Van Damme Way!

Ironing Board

Much like eating your waxed beans before tucking into your chicken Kiev, this is the tough work before digging into the sweet, buttery center of the task at hand. Folding out an ironing board without incident takes years of practice. Like any other strenuous undertaking, I recommend stretching. Now your first impulse may be to work your hamstrings for the inevitable performance of the Van Damme splits, but I suggest that your time is better spent working the upper body. In particular, dislocating one shoulder until your fingers are numb—this way, when you pinch your fingers between the board and the legs (and this will happen), you will feel no pain. However, do be careful to note any bleeding on the ironing board: this could indicate the escape of blood from an open wound, and that is no surface upon which to iron a clean shirt.

Warming the Iron

If you have purchased your iron wisely, it has temperature settings based on material. This is very important as improper heat-to-fabric calibration may lead to:  a) under-ironing, a side-effect subtly noticed in the lack of wrinkle banishment (in this event, check that to see if you have the iron set for a multi-fabric blend, if you are in a humidity-rich environment or, failing all other options, see if the iron is plugged in); b) over-ironing, which will make the garment appear pressed only to revert to a wrinkled state by the time you put it on; or c) iron-shaped burn marks on the back of your shirt (while perfectly calibrated for comic effect, this does not suit our purposes as this is not a book called Be a Man—The Larry the Cable Guy Way).

Wait for your iron to warm up. This is an excellent time to stretch for the splits, if you are so inclined.

Many test an iron’s state of readiness by spitting on the element to see if their saliva sputters. This is grotesque and inelegant, completely unbecoming The Van Damme Way! Use the tip of your tongue.

 

 

The Garment

You are now ready to attack and don’t fool yourself—this is warfare. Do not pity your opponent, but do not underestimate him either. Bow before your collared foe, but do not take your eyes off it.

Flatten the shirt on the board so the sleeves dangle on each side like a face-plant victim carried by stretcher from the Kumite circle. Smooth the shirt and then apply steady arcs across the back with strength but also with grace. Be of the shirt but not in the shirt. (Note: do not attempt to iron a shirt while wearing it not matter how late you are.)

Flip the shirt on the left front panel: the buttons are tricky, but you must move in and around them like one dodging pools of blood in the Kumite circle. Repeat for the right front panel, which is now a breeze because, if you have purchased your shirt correctly, there should be no buttons on that side.

Iron each sleeve. Make sure that the fabric is not bunched up on the underside of the sleeve you are ironing as this will lead to your ironing wrinkles into your shirt which, you will agree, is counter-productive.

Run the iron over the collar to ensure proper rigidity, and then hang on a plastic or wooden hanger. Collapse your ironing board, suck on your pinched fingers, and rejoice! Realize that you did not unplug the iron or remove it from the board before collapsing it. Stop celebrating. Retrieve iron (handle first if you can) and unplug. Decide how you will explain burnt parquet flooring to landlord. Find comfort that, if called before a judge in small claims court, at least you have a decent shirt to wear. The Van Damme Way!

Negotiating a Raise The Van Damme Way!

A quick checklist:

  • You’ve worked there a long time
  • You are underappreciated
  • You’ve figured out the ultimate time-saving route to the office, shaving precious minutes off your commute and, as such, are reluctant to find another job
  • Boss still calls you “Skip”

That sounds like one bullshit workplace environment. You have but two choices: find another job or get yourself a raise. Otherwise you’ll resent every second you spend crunching numbers or making deals or whatever the hell it is you do. Plus, nothing dries up a vagina quite like a low annual wage (other than a cigarette habit or approaching menopause). You don’t want to spend the rest of your life in a crappy bachelor apartment. Do you?

Assuming the answer is “no” (and assuming that you are straight because, seriously, what self-respecting gay man would live in a bachelor apartment?), an increased salary not only improves your bottom-line but will do wonders for your self-worth and your value in the dating market. You’ve put in your time, and you’re hardly ever late on consecutive middle-of-the-week days. Goddammit, you deserve this!

Hold on there, pal. You don’t just kick in your boss’ office door and make demands. What, do you think you’re some guy named “Skip”? You have to consider your approach, and that is determined by many factors such as on-the-job performance, personal comfort zone and kicking ability.

The Ninja Way

You are a quiet performer, content to put your nose to the corporate grindstone and get shit done without tooting your own horn (or keeping track of your metaphors). Essentially, calling you a “ninja” is a nice way of saying you’re a wimp, a complete train wreck of masculinity. That’s OK. You’ve still got options and I’ll talk you through them, ensuring that I don’t make any sudden movements that might startle and cause you to pee in your pants. You disgust me, you pathetic, supine, wormy little wastrel.

First, you have to believe in yourself! Make a list of your accomplishments and be ready to present yourself as the hero of any anecdote. Remember that time you screwed up the courage to ask out that girl with all the piercings in the mailroom? She didn’t laugh and make you lick glue off the floor—you took her out and totally banged her.

Think tales of conquest have no place in the workforce? You need to show your boss that you’re a guy who gets results, and if that means bragging about fictional yet meaningless sex, then so be it.

Who am I kidding? You’ll just rewrite an email thirty times asking for a raise and never send it, so I’m wasting my time on you. Jesus, you make me want to puke.

The Kumite Way

This is for the employee who makes the effort to play the game: knowing the boss’ middle name, his wife’s favorite dish, what sports his kids play. You see yourself as a player, but everyone else thinks you are the world’s biggest brown noser. So what? They don’t have to pay your phone-tapping and spy camera bills.

You know asking for a raise is a battle and like any warrior stepping into the ring, you know that preparation is the key. Before you step into this corporate Circle of Death prepare by arming yourself with the ordnance of information:

  • Is the company financially healthy enough to pay for a raise? Best times to ask are after the announcement of record quarterly earnings, post cash infusion from outside investors, or when the boss is drunk
  • Stay alert to unannounced signs of liquidity, such as office renovations: use this as an ice-breaker for your request, i.e. “Who the hell chooses pastels and beads of neon—a set designer from Miami Vice? Since we’re throwing money away…”
  • Understand how you are perceived in the office: has that nasty public indecency rap from the Christmas party blown over yet? Underline the substantive difference between “moral turpitude” and “acquitted due to flood in evidence room”

One of the cornerstones of successful negotiation is possessing information that your opponent does not. Knowing your own style of underwear is not sufficient and points out a recurring flaw with this tactic. I say that more important is the possession of information that your opponent does not know you have. You’ve spent enough time hacking your boss’ email and having him shadowed by a private detective. Ask for your raise and slide a lurid snapshot of his affair with that dreadlocked white guy at the pet food store. Given enough time, you should be able to write your own cheques.

However, if your boss is stronger than all that or in an open relationship with his wife, you can always rely on persistence: if you do not receive your pay increase, refuse to leave the office. The discussion isn’t over until you get what you want or get dragged from the room like a beaten man pulled from the Kumite. In this case it will likely be in the form of a security guard and not a crooked Asian corner man. Also, instead of it happening after a bloody beating, this will probably end with one in the company parking lot. Try not to get blood on the guard’s pant leg: he makes a pitiful wage and is responsible for his own uniform.

The Van Damme Way!

Kick the door in and make demands. If you don’t get a pay raise, consider negotiating for perks such as an extra week of vacation or a company cell phone. There’s no shame in that.


Be a Man—The Van Damme Way™! An Entirely Unauthorized Guide to the Films and Virility of Jean-Claude Van Damme

Here’s a book proposal of mine that never went anywhere. It’s a shame, but no so much of a shame that I wouldn’t put it up here.

 

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Hey men—tired of not knowing how to be a man?

Hey ladies—frustrated with men who don’t know how to be    manly?

Would you read a book that sorts out all these confusions and makes for a more fulfilling life? Of course–what a stupid question!

Introducing Be a Man—The Van Damme Way™! (in no way officially affiliated, endorsed or medically recommended by the greatest action hero actor of all cinema, Jean-Claude Van Damme). This book and, by proxy, its author (me), strive to achieve the impossible: review the entire canon of JCVD’s work, film by film, and reveal the Rosetta Stone of masculinity that exists therein. Hard to believe? Which part, the “masculinity” part or the “entire canon” part?  Seriously, not a stupid question: dude has made almost fifty films.

You can point to your Schwarzeneggers, your Stallones, your Seagals, your Willises, both Bruce and Todd Bridges (Willis of Diff’rent Strokes, who did appear in the Insane Clown Posse opus Big Money Rustlas as Scruffy Scrub #3 so, I appreciate the chance for confusion), but they all embodied a hollow form of manliness that is best summed up as Macho Regan-Era Ass-Kickers: a whole lot of  1980’s “we don’t negotiate with terrorists” plus “trickle-down economics” with a dash of “sado-masochistic homoeroticism”. Pre-heat the oven at four hundred degrees and bake. For how long? As long as it takes for that fucker to kick the door open and dispatch your sous chef with an Uzi and a “witty” yet monosyllabic one-liner, that’s how long. And in today’s hectic, dog-eat-dog, drive-thru culture, who’s got the time?

Now God knows we need good ass-kickings now and again. But if fine classical musicianship is as much about the notes not played as the ones played, then true masculinity is in the eyes not gouged. Correspondingly, if showing vulnerability is the true sign of strength, then doing so while performing the splits on two edges of a kitchen counter to avoid an electrocuted floor, then that person is so much the stronger (see Timecop).

We need absolutes in times like these. When women make up a greater percentage of the work force but men are still expected to pick up the cost of the abortion, we require a magnetic north to cross such treacherous waters. I suggest that Jean-Claude Van Damme is just such a geomagnetic verging of magnetic declinations.

After years of cinematic study and manliness failure, I have determined that the entire spectrum of positive male traits is prevalent in the films of Mr. Van Damme. One might suggest that my failures in masculinity are directly linked to my years of Van Damme investigation, but these are people who miss the greater point, i.e. my ex-girlfriends.

The proof in JCVD’s films and his finely wrought performances are endless: whether peeling back the layers of a widowed cop confronted with the ethical choice of using a time traveling device to save his late wife or just to apprehend bad guys in Timecop (Why couldn’t he just do both? A good question…); a cyborg programmed for warfare coming to grips with an emerging humanity and the virtues of pacifism in Universal Soldier; a hard-working father deciding whether to save his son from a hockey arena held hostage by terrorists before or after suiting up as goalie to win the Stanley Cup for the Pittsburgh Penguins in Sudden Death; to a cyborg genetically-engineered to track down a serial killer who comes to terms with his emerging humanity in Replicant. Even his stunning debut as “Gay Karate Man” in Monaco Forever shows a bravery in portraying every color across the masculinity rainbow.

Those leery of my thesis would benefit from regarding the totality of Van Damme’s work in the same way one should view Proust’s A la recherché du temps perdu: if you watch Street Fighter the same way you read In the Shadow of Young Girls Flower, well you’re just not getting the whole picture.

Gentle reader and seeker of masculine wisdom, I am here to help. For not only do I intend to look at each of JCVD’s films in detail, with special attention paid to lessons learned by men at any pivotal stage in their lives (loss of innocence—see Kickboxer, sins of the father—see The Order, the moral quandary of a clothing counterfeiter drafted by the CIA to break an international producer of forged designer jeans that conceal “microbombs”, as opposed to genuine designer jeans which almost never explode—see Knock Off), I will provide many handy examples of how these modes of masculine behavior can be applied to your everyday life—The Van Damme Way™!

JCVD_2Much like a Shakespearean tragedy (but only if Shakespeare had the stones to finish his off on an “upbeat” note), we shall review Van Damme’s films in five parts:

  1. The Rise Begins: from uncredited yet head-turning roles such as Car Driver in Missing in Action to Spectator in First Dance Sequence in Breakin’, we detect a sensibility that will become readily apparent when Van Damme blade kicks his way into the spotlight.
  2. A Star Is Forged (alternately known as The Cannon Years): From Bloodsport, where JCVD takes the title, center stage, and pummels the shit out of our hearts, to Hard Target, where he introduces John Woo and flocks of slow-motion doves to North America. Boys and inebriated men the world over try to mimic his famous ability to do the “Atomic splits”. Hamstrings are snapped, testicles are ruptured, cases are settled out of court.
  3. Superstar: Timecop sees Van Damme headline a major studio picture (and tame his mullet from Hard Target), play a member of the elite foreign legion in Legionnaire (note to filmmakers: do not title your film after a disease and expect anything but box-office poison: also, don’t release theatrically and to DVD at the same time), and live out every boy’s dream of embodying a video game hero to destroy an apparently AIDS-ravaged boss villain in Street Fighter: The Movie (poor Raul Julia). The pressure of being all men to all mankind wears on JCVD and the cracks start to show. The ballooning cocaine addiction doesn’t help.
  4. The DTV Slide: We see what is, by now, an all-too familiar trajectory—a series of direct-to-video cheapies shot in Eastern Europe for quick name-recognition cash. This is not a surprise for more one-dimensional action heroes such as Wesley Snipes and Steven Seagal (with a hotel room in Prague reserved for Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, presumably), but a shocking decline for our hero. From Inferno to The Shepherd (a film notable as much for its critical stance on America’s War on Drugs as it is for being Van Damme’s sixth time playing a character whose surname ends with the letter ‘X’), Van Damme puts in his time, cleans up his act, and finds his kin geri (stomach kick) is no match in his battle against rapid cycling bipolar disorder or most divorce lawyers.
  5. Redemption: JCVD is made, a quasi-autobiographical account of an aging action film star holed-up in a botched post office robbery. This film presents the entirety of Van Damme’s artistry, both martial and acting. It plays at film festivals around the world and he is suddenly a hot commodity once again. He uses his most valuable instrument, his voice, to appear in Kung Fu Panda 2 and achieves a circle-of-life moment by playing hard to get for Stallone before finally signing to appear in The Expendables 2: Of Course We Cast Chuck Norris.

Think it can’t get any better? Well go back to your thinking spot and think some more! Edifying and life-changing essays will sparkle throughout, including a winsome, yet rib-crunching piece on the Death of the Action Star: nowadays it takes a $200 million budget and twice that in publicity to launch an actor-proof franchise like Batman, whereas in 1985 even a charisma-challenged mannequin like Kurt Thomas could open a dud like Gymkata (a fine form of martial arts, provided villains don’t know enough to stay away from back alley appearances of  a pommel horse or the uneven bars); a true-life event that actually happened that I just thought up, Meetin’ J.L.G. (JCVD vs. JLG), a one-act play depicting directors Van Damme and Jean-Luc Godard nervously awaiting the debut of their films, The Quest and For Ever Mozart respectively, at a prestigious film festival in Albany; and a definitive assessment of Van Damme’s signature move in The Splits: A Useful Tool In Your Martial Arts Arsenal Or Just A Waste Of Warm-Up Time?

Whew!  That’s a lot of book. Maybe too much? Bullshit!

The book is called Be a Man—The Van Damme Way™! It must include a system for living your life in a balanced, well-rounded masculine manner (if not to justify the title, then at least the trademark).

Included in The Van Damme Way™!

  • Defuse a situation without violence and possibly through dance—The VDW™!
  • Kicking crazy amounts of ass—The VDW™!
  • Ironing a shirt—The VDW™!
  • Negotiating a raise—The VDW™!
  • Marital bliss—The VDW™!
  • Beating Van Damme in a fight—The VDW™!
  • International diplomacy—The VDW™!
  • Romance your lady—The VDW™!
  • Self-awareness—The VDW™!
  • Talk about yourself in the third person—The VDW™!
  • Defending yourself in nature specifically by punching animals—The VDW™!

In the end, there is no book like it in the world (see exceptions below).  This makes it difficult to encapsulate for the average writer, but I’m made of sterner stuff, so here goes: this book is part off-beat film analysis, part sociological study and part self-help book—but all man.

The Van Damme Way™!


Considering Which Member of Willliamsburg’s Autoharp Ensemble “Zither and Yon” Is Fucking Your Wife

Originally appeared in Points in Case

If the state of my pillow covers means anything, this douchebag uses a ton of moustache wax. That narrows it down to eleven out of the fifteen band members.

The guy is likely a racist because I found a crumpled up piece of paper on the bedroom floor that had a list of potential band names. He might be an idiot, too, because “Low-Cut Niqab” was the best of the lot.

My best friend Jack likes the current band name because he thought of it. He’s in the band but is the only guy who isn’t an autoharpist; he plays the metronome (he studied at the Sorbonne and everything!). At first, he thought it couldn’t be one of the band members but then he remembered how married women throw themselves at him all the time. But he doesn’t act on it because “metronomists have morals”. There’s also the fact that he heard my wife say autoharps make her wetter than pictures of a young Boris Karloff so, yeah, he came around to my thinking. It’s got to be one of those damned string pluckers.

Also, I found one of the matching barbershop quartet jackets all members of the band wear. It was crumpled up underneath the bathroom sink and stank of skunk weed and Febreze. So, we’re back to every member of the band as a suspect.

It might have to be one of those day-job-type musicians, given that all evidence points to quick lunch-hour couplings (messy sheets on a bed I make in the morning, cap off the KY lube that’s left on the new issue of GamePro–the one with my letter to the editor!). At a Knitting Factory after party, I heard one of the guys in the band say that he freelances for an ethical IT firm, so maybe he’s the culprit. What does “fair trade Wi-Fi” even mean?

Whoever he is, dude left his skinny suspenders slung over the gaming trophy shelf I had Jack install right above the headboard. So it’s probably the guy who fucks up the polyphonic cover of “Single Ladies” by constantly pulling up his pants during the bridge.

But I have my suspicions that guy is gay. Maybe it’s the way he talks or possibly the rainbow flag he has dyed into his immaculately trimmed chest hair, which I believe is cultivated by his husband of seven years.

My wife and I have been married for almost seven years. Whenever I bring this up, she counters that Xbox has probably broken up more marriages than office Christmas parties. Then she follows up with statistics, or a story, or something else I don’t hear because finding the bharals in Far Cry 4 takes more than just natural skill. You need all of your concentration.

I don’t think it’s the guy that’s seven-feet tall; my wife once said she couldn’t sleep with a man she respected too much and she always admired tall guys like they’d earned their height. They haven’t placed in Major League Gaming’s “Halo World Championship North America Regional Finals” three years running, not like a certain you-know-who here. So she’s got that to admire me for. Which, if true, would also explain the three-month dry spell in the sack.

Maybe it’s the one who wears the bowler-and-monocle set and legally changed his name to “Axe Jeeves”.

Or the guy who’s side project is a one-man Color Me Badd tribute band.

Or the one with the beard that doubles as an apron.

Maybe it’s Fred Armisen.

My wife wants me to think that she might be sleeping with my best friend Jack. She manages this with sly insinuations like waving a ripped-open condom wrapper in my face and saying, “These are Jack’s favorite, he says they feel like silk.”

Which is ridiculous, because I know that Jack hates silk. Or at least he hated the silk shirt I bought him for our friend-versary. But still, I have seen his eyes linger over her backside a few times. And he came out of the bedroom after installing my trophy shelf more out of breath than the task required. Especially seeing as he had my wife there to help out.

In my darkest moments, I consider whether Jack—a second son to my father, the guy whose college graduation my dad actually attended—might be fucking my wife.

But my best friend Jack does not play the autoharp, so I always have to start over again.

Maybe it’s the clumsy guy with the scraped knees. That guy is so clueless.


If New Slow Cooker Recipes Were Pitched the Same Way as Television Programs

beef-stewINT. OFFICE – DAY

A swell office, if you like IKEA furniture and clear glass awards. Oh, and posters of old, classic slow cooker recipes that the person sitting behind the desk wishes he was involved in developing.

Speaking of, a slim and nerdy type sits behind the desk, chewing on an arm of his glasses while he flips through recipe cards: this is BLAINE, our Recipe Development Executive.

Sitting in front of him is ERNEST, the Recipe Writer, a pathetic wastrel of a chef, chewing his nails and tapping his feet.

BLAINE

Meh…I don’t know. Is this based on a previously existing recipe?

ERNEST

Nope. One hundred percent original!

BLAINE

Too bad. It would really help us if there was already an established audience for this.

ERNEST

The last time we spoke, you said the world needed a new beef stew recipe. It was time, you said.

BLAINE

But, really—beef stew? Doesn’t Campbell’s already have a beef stew?

ERNEST

Surely there’s room for more than just one—

BLAINE

Have you thought about cumin?

ERNEST

I’m sorry?

BLAINE

OK, maybe ginger. Or how about ras el hanout? People like spicy.

ERNEST

I guess I could consider—

BLAINE

You know what, if you take out the beef and put in a root vegetable, we might be able to sell to a younger demo of chefs. Vegan is so hot right now.

ERNEST

I don’t know if roots are really part of my vision.

BLAINE

How about lamb? Lamb is skewing younger these days.

Blaine drops the recipe cards on his desk top and puts his glasses backs on. Leans forward on his elbow, serious now.

BLAINE

I’d like to think that my MBA leaves me uniquely qualified to tell you how to best cook food. Even though I’ve never been in a kitchen in my life.

Ernest considers.

ERNEST

Maybe something kind of Moroccan?

BLAINE

Sounds kind of spicy. People don’t like spicy. Also: do we have to tell people you’re from Toronto? That plays like shit across the country.

ERNEST

When I was growing up, I had a cousin who lived in Fenlon Falls.

BLAINE

(pensive)

Small town. Plays to the hicks. I like it. But, I’m going to have to pass. I just feel as if your recipe lacks focus. It’s all over the place.

ERNEST

Oh. I felt pretty confident about it before I came in here.

BLAINE

Sure you did. You’re an artist! By the way, we have a few chicken noodle recipes we’re having trouble cracking. Do you want to take a run at those? For no money, of course.

ERNEST

Come on. I have some self-respect.

Blaine gives Ernest a knowing glare.

ERNEST

OK. It’s just nice to get email from a recipe company. Makes me feel important.

BLAINE

That’s the spirit!

Ernest rises and exits. Blaine leans back and puts his feet up on the desk.

BLAINE

(smiling)

I’m an awful human being.

FADE TO BLACK


In Memoriam: VHS and the Philosophical Rewind

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On September 15th, 1830, William Huskisson died because the world sped up and he didn’t notice.

Poor bastard.  Huskisson, a man whose chief talents apparently lay in a facility with the French language and inheriting great sums of money, dove into British politics after witnessing the dawn of the French revolution as a young man. He served several constituencies with consistency if not distinction and yet will never be remembered for any of his middling achievements. Instead, he is remembered for his appearance at the opening of the LiverpoolManchester Railway, whereupon he stood on the edge of one train while misjudging the speed and proximity of another (George Stephen’s Rocket) approaching on an adjacent track. Never mind his work reforming the Navigation Acts as President of the Board of Trade and Treasurer of the Navy—Huskisson has become known for being pulled under the wheels of a train and forever after as the first railway fatality, to say nothing of his pioneering work as patron saint of klutzes.

Perhaps his story is less an ode to the comic ballet of fatal disfigurement beneath the wheels of a locomotive so much as it is a cautionary tale; one about speed, the rush of advancement and the simple pleasures of not being killed by a train.

Our family VHS machine was a JVC top-loader. Hitting ”eject‟ was followed by a glorious whirl of gears and gathering hush of elegant hydraulics, which only heightened the anticipation of a young boy whose palm gushed sweat over his rented copy of Code of Silence (which chronicled, if the video box was to be believed, Chuck Norris as a “good cop having a very bad day”).  Over time, the action of that ejection became less graceful and more like a dog cacking up a bone fragment. But when it was new, it lifted up slowly and came to a cushioned stop with an adorable sigh.

As much as I loved that sound, and the confident interlocking of cogs as the tape was pulled from the casing and run along the video heads, I loved even more when the movie was finished. Before watching the second movie (and there was always another as video renting was the last gasp of the classic double feature viewing habit), you had to rewind the tape. Instead of frustration at the curse of sitting idly by in a hopelessly pedestrian analog world, this demanded, and inspired, patience. You could always pull the tape out and slap in the next, but rewind fees were usurious and a silly thing to pay for, like the privilege of taking your own money out of the bank.

Better than forced meditation, the rewind offered a quiet break to discuss the movie you’d just watched. Later in the arc of VHS history, you were able to watch broadcast television when the tape in the VCR was stopped. But in the early top-loader days this was not an option. To press stop meant a black screen and silence. And to rewind the tape meant the same but accompanied with a lulling hum from the machine; slow at first, the wheels struggling to pull the tape back right from the end, then picking up speed mid-way. This provided the perfect rhythm for conversation, shocked into silence from the sudden halt of the end credit music, then the slow slog into review.

“So. What’d you think?”

“It was good.”

“Yeah. Yeah, it was.”

“I liked the music. It was by a band called Tangerine Dream.”

“Really?”

“I think that’s their name.”

“No, I mean you liked it? It sounded like elevator music.”

“That’s a little harsh.”

“No, it was just… not what I expected.”

“It does give it a weird feel. Not like any other teen comedy.”

“How many other teen comedies have the lead guy running hookers out of his parent’s house?”

“Point taken.”

Before long, a list of Risky Business virtues were judged greater than the comparative sins of Private School and all were in agreement that Tom Cruise was a better star whereas Matthew Modine was the better actor.

Then technology had to rear its ugly, ergonomically-correct head and ruin the whole thing. Once DVDs arrived we could bid farewell to the double bill (one viewing of the movie plus a cursory trip through the extra features and Jimmy Kimmel was on), to say nothing of the rewind. How, pray tell, is the modern-day film watcher supposed to accurately digest and analyze The Fast and the Furious without this forum for the free exchange of ideas?

Now I don’t want to come off sounding like a linear-minded veranda-squatting crank yelling at these digital kids to get off my damn analog lawn. There are many changes born of technological advance that aren’t soul-sucking harbingers of the coming apocalypse: self-defrosting freezers, universal remotes, online socialising that allows for contact without the messy human component. I propose that advancement simply because we can isn’t always worth the collateral damage. Haven’t we learned our lesson from Frankenstein? No? Of course not, because we haven’t watched it and then taken the time to discuss during the rewind (or at the very least reckon with the more suspect directorial choices made by Kenneth Branagh).

If you need a moral to savour, then I humbly suggest this: time-saving developments are only as good as the activities we undertake with those newly discovered moments. As long as conversation is trumped by nattering, and interaction confused with connection, we’ll never tease out the subtle ambiguities of the Kevin Smith oeuvre and that, ladies and gentleman, is a world I shudder to contemplate.

Bonus feature moral: watch for on-coming trains. They are moving faster than you think.


Vladimir Putin’s Christian Mingle Profile

putin on the shvitz

Autocratic outdoorsy-type seeks same.

 

ABOUT ME

Height 6’ 4” (and not 5′ 7″ as some people have reported…certain missing people. LOL)
Build Athletic, like Rocky in Rocky IV
Hair Auburn, like Brigitte Nielsen in Snowboard Academy
Eyes Piercing Blue
Relationship Status  Recently Divorced (careful, I’m sensitive…but I’m all man!)
About Children I have two children and do NOT want more (they’re great, but I don’t want to have a baby while I’m trying to advance my career through theatres of war the world over…it wouldn’t be fair to the kid)
Children home 0 (they divide their time between their mother and the Federal Protective Service Nanny Division)
Smoking On occasion, when things get hectic at work (if I’m telling the truth, I was up to a pack a day during the Olympics)
Drinking Frequently (I mean not Yeltsin bad but, you know, up there)
Church I was raised in Orthodox, if you consider crossing yourself in the shower going to “Church”
Church I attend now Baptist
Church Attendance once or twice a month (it’s tough finding a place to pray when my business takes over so much of my spare time…plus, Sunday mornings are when the best yak shows are on)

 

FUN FACTS

Self-description I’m a Marx in the boardroom and a Lenin in the bedroom (but with a shredded core)
Music Russian chanson, Soviet marches, Tiesto
Favorite bands and musicians Lubeh (before all the retrospectives and cover albums), Demis Roussos, KISS solo projects
Movie Action, Romantic Comedy, Michael Moore
Favorite movies and actors Top Gun, Wayne’s World 2, Asterix and Obelix movies; Peter Lorre, Spalding Gray
Favorite TV shows Friends, Fox & Friends, The Graham Norton Show
Outdoor activity Bear hunting, moose hunting, Bloody Knuckles, getting naked to the waist for no particular reason
Indoor activity Sudoku, Nicholas Sparks novels, bedroom gymnastics if you know what I mean (I have a pommel horse next to the credenza)
Favorite season The two weeks between June and July when we don’t have snow…am I right?
My idea of a great trip Sevastopol is nice, especially when you arrive on the bow of a ship like Alex the bloody Great
Food Anything I’ve killed with my bare hands
Mentality Eternal Optimist
Politics No comment
Living quarters Spacious but humble Italianate mansion #notbragging
Fashion sense Joe Pesci in My Cousin Vinny  by way of Tom Ford
Who I am looking for You are an attractive, confident lady who looks good both in evening wear and camo (our first date is dinner but for the second date, you’d better bring your own crossbow!). You must have a thick skin as you will likely be despised by a large number of the Western Devil Media Elite. Also, I’m a big believer in going dutch for the first three months. And by that I do not mean invading the Netherlands (*wink*).

Distracting Thoughts I’ve Had When I Should Be Writing

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  1. Is that someone at the door?
  2. My elbows sure are dry. I should probably moisturise before that gets out of hand.
  3. How many litres of Coke Zero is too much?
  4. “Windows Configuring Update for Your Computer”? Guess that’s it for the day then.
  5. That has to be someone at the door. Can a strong wind press the door chime?
  6. If I started working out, would a trainer think me wimpy for wanting more repetitions versus heavier weights?
  7. It would be horrible if my tinnitus became full-blown deafness. I hope that it won’t happen all-of-a-sudden and that I have many, many years to avoid having my hearing checked by a doctor.
  8. Is it wrong that I laugh so much at misspelling “shenanigans” as “shenanigangs”? Couldn’t an improve troupe rightly be called a “shenanigang”?
  9. Whatever happened to Fountains of Wayne? Are they still recording stuff? I loved “Hackensack”.
  10. Why didn’t I get a trade under my belt, like plumbing? That was poor planning on my part.