Saturday, January 23, 2016

David Bowie's Lesser-Known Personas

With the recent passing of David Bowie, much of his earlier work has been coming to light. But did you know he had over seven hundred alternate idenities other than Ziggy Stardust and The Thin White Duke? Here are 24 of them:

1. Lance, The Space Concierge

2. Quite Mysterious And Lithe James Jonesington

3. Pointy-Hatted Ronald

4. Lord Xerox And His Many Doubles

5. Sly Skyscraper, The President Of The Universe

6. Four-Wheel-Drive Dave, The All-American Truck Chief

7. Mister Very Tall Shoes

8. Tanned And Tawny General Sprawlsprocket

9. The Dancingest Haberdasher Of Canal Street

10. Sergeant Warm Handshake

11. The Yellow Martyred Man Of Mystery And Mustard

12. Dirty Captain Bungler

13. The Most Beautiful-Smelling Woman On Terrestrial Earth

14. The Surprisingly Lonely Bombardier

15. Paul Voluminous-Chunks, Mountain-Rangin' Man

16. Doctor Nimble Trousers, DDS

17. Quantum Fuck Master Orange Eyes

18. Largely Omnipotent Admiral Z

19. Lightly-Used Leonard, The Secondhand Android

20. International Estate Agent Michael And His Beguiling Assistant Alice Quail (both characters)

21. Sooty Tarnish, The Fabulously Wealthy Chinneysweep

22. Magical Herman Kowalski

23. Sparkle Taptoes And His Majestic Sherman Tank Full Of Great-Tasting Oatmeal

24. The Misbehaving Wolf Wrangler

Friday, January 10, 2014

Apartment Hunting In The Dystopian Future

There's one common thread that runs through the digestive system of the giant animal that is the genre of dystopian dark future sci-fi movies: shitty apartments. Apparently, the leaps and bounds made in other areas in these films -- faster-than-light travel, laser technology, planetary colonization -- do not translate into your average working man or woman being able to afford anything other than a cramped, overpriced hell hole of a flat. The only improvement I can identify in this arena of housing, in fact, is that apartment buildings in the future can be built really, really tall.

So are you at all surprised that a lot of these protagonists are selling their places? Here's a rundown of the latest units that have come onto the market recently. Note: I have excluded any freestanding homes, like Murphy's house in Robocop, or Luke's aunt and uncle's ranch home in the first Star Wars (everyone lives in an apartment in the Star Wars prequels, but they're not even real movies so fuck them). I have also excluded spaceship living quarters.   

Quaid And Lori's 1 BR, Total Recall - 1.2 Million
This place actually isn't that shitty. You got the nice little kitchen where you can make a morning shake using every ingredient in the fuckin house, including ketchup, wonder bread, and - is that a bowl of pierogies? I think they just filmed what Arnold actually ate for breakfast and used it.

You also have the TV wall, which is great for getting info about Cohaagen, when your hot wife isn't blocking you from seeing what's going on in the space news about Mars.

Corbin Dallas's Studio, The Fifth Element - $120K
Granted, it's a little cramped, a point that's hammered home by the filmmakers during the scene where all the appliances pop out of the wall and eat people. But smoking is allowed, pets are welcome, the flying Chinese food delivery boat comes right to your front window, and it has an attached garage. You can feel right at home here, shirtless, bleaching your receding hair and having wry conversations with your old boss, or your mother, or your new boss.

Ripley's Studio, Aliens - $75K
Technically this is a room aboard a space station, but we're going to allow it. As far as I can tell, this place is the only permanent lodging Ripley has in any of the four alien movies, and she's only there for about 3 minutes of movie time. Kind of resembles a more-spacious airplane lavatory.

Still, it's a cozy little space - ideal for having nightmares, absently smoking cigarettes at 3 or 4 AM, or entertaining two guys from the military-industrial complex who drop by for some clear cups of coffee and don't even drink them. Or maybe just kicking back under the full-panel ambient light fixtures and reading a copy of People magazine, which inexplicably came back into print in the late 24th century. Nice mirrors, videophone included, shithead cats OK, smoking OK.

Deckard's 1BR, Blade Runner - 1.5 Million
This cozy spot is perfect for the semi-retired police detective (in all of us) who likes to just curl up with a glass of bourbon and play one or two notes on the (included) piano, or maybe pore over some crime scene photos on his 1980s space VCR/computer thing. Great spot to bring a chick who may or may not be a cyborg for some icky semi-consensual sex. Plenty of artificial light.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

I wish you all the best:

In what may be a continuation of a past installment of this blog, I continue to wish you all the best; I may have already written most of this but here goes anyway: I want only the best for you.

I hope that someday you will find a flavor of toothpaste that really is to your liking - not just one where you merely tolerate using it, but one where you actually look forward to leaping out of bed and jogging to the bathroom and slathering the toothpaste across your teeth and gums every morning before summarily spitting it out.

I would love to hear that you have come up with a really clever and funny name for your home wireless internet network, and a yet-funnier password to accompany it; a name/passphrase combination so artless and inspired that you can't wait to have guests over who will need to use your wifi.

I dream that you will have occasion to eat unflavored greek yogurt out of a tub late at night while sitting in a basement apartment in a foreign city.

It brings me great pleasure to think that you might be presented with the opportunity to comically leap over the net after a tennis match, or to spike an american football into an official or unofficial end zone.

May you one day take a drag off of your cigarette, looking off into the middle distance, and then realize something very important, which causes you to take off your glasses suddenly, then you take a final quick drag of your cigarette and sort of shake it and go "that's it!" or "yeah!" or something like that, and then you throw the cigarette down and stride purposefully away.

I wish for you to take in the sight of a sprawling vista, just standing there, arms akimbo, legs shoulder-width apart, and perhaps to bellow in a manner not inconsistent with that of Early Man, or Woman, or whatever Early Gender you might choose.

I  hope you get to run down the steps to the subway, hearing the train arrive even as you bobble down the hard stairs, and you make it through the doors just in time, securing a seat on the end of the bench so you can't be sandwiched by humans; and further that as you feel the conditioned air (hot or cold, depending on the season) wash over you and you shudder a little, you are afforded the luxury of watching someone else run towards the train and not make it on in time, and your schadenfreude kicks in, and maybe the person who didn't make it is someone who looks differently than you like people to look, or maybe it's even someone you actually know and don't like, and you get the singular pleasure of shrugging slightly at them, sort of a "too bad for you" face, and they get really mad and maybe yell and point at you or pound on the door, but are ultimately left freezing or sweating on the platform as you glide away in your magic carriage into the dark.


Monday, September 16, 2013


I'm sitting on the train platform, waiting for the M train to take me back to Ridgewood. I love the M train, it's one of NYC's hidden treasures. Not really but it beats the shit out of the L, at least during the week. I don't work for the MTA but they pay me $60 every six weeks to mention the M train to at least 40 people so I figured I'd get that out of the way with this opening paragraph here.

Anyway there I am, outside, it's pretty deserted, it's nice out, oh I should mention that the JMZ is an elevated train line in Brooklyn/Queens (just for all you people who live elsewhere) so yeah I'm outside, in the shadow of the most frightening-looking hospital I've seen in the United States, Woodhull. It's the facility that serves Bushwick and Williamsburg, I believe (although I think they're building some sort of white-person-gas-pains Urgent Care center over on Metropolitan).

"Serves" is a loose term; although I have never been in there myself (through some miracle I have only been in Wyckoff Heights and Kings County hospitals), I and probably everyone I know has heard a story from a friend who walked in with, like, an earache and left three days later in a wheelchair. The building itself looks like a spacecraft from a dark future, some industrial freighter that has temporarily touched down to harvest mineral ores and will at any moment rumble and lopsidely roar into the sky.

A woman comes through the turnstiles and walks over to the bench I'm sitting on and sits two seats away from me. I notice that her shoelaces are untied, in fact they look like they've just been re-laced. She rolls up her sleeve and I see the hospital wristband, even as she brings it up to her mouth and starts biting at it. She rips it free from her arm, in between her teeth, and spits it out in front of her, breathing a heavy sigh of relief.

Psych ward. Back on the streets.   

Sunday, September 8, 2013

This was printed on the back of the pack of gum I just bought

We're looking for the next big thing, we're not sure what the last big thing is, but we're relatively confident in our ability to identify big things. There's something on the horizon that's coming up, it's gonna be big; right now it's shapeless, looming. We're ready for it to envelop us all. It will be a benevolent enveloping, a security envelope with a window, a maximum security envelope. We will spend 23 hours a day inside it. There will be a bubble; and as before, you will expand with it until it bursts.

I'm not sure you undersatand, sir, the idea of the Rewards card. You do not get a reward simply for signing up for the card; although many people who are unable to provide a phoine number and hence do not qualify for the rewards card may consider owerrship of the card itself to be a significant reward, being as it is unattainable/unobtainable by/to them. You get nothing, right away. You get nothing right away (immediately). But over time, after you buy our products, we will periodically reward you, over time, with the chance to buy further products at a reduced rate, and this is your reward - the opportunity to buy more products. Treasure this.

I don't want to twist your arm here, I don't mean to put you on the spot. I'm not trying to back you into a corner or anything. I want to make this as easy on you as possible. I'm not looking to make enemies, I think we should all take a chill pill, smoke a peace pipe, and just take it easy. We should just take it slow, take it as it comes, play it by ear, not think too much, don't overthink things. I'm not trying to rake you over the coals or throw you under the bus. This isn't a witch hunt, I'm not on a crusade, we're not making martyrs out of anyone. I don't want to rub anyone the wrong way, or go against the grain. Usually this kind of thing goes off without a hitch or a raised eyebrow. Usually nothing untoward occurs, nothing pops up, no red flags.

There are cats screaming in the yard. I can't ever tell if a cat is screaming in a cat pain compliance fight, or if it's just the sound of cats mating or cats in heat. From what I have read, the sounds are virtually identical. I have seen diagrams of a cat's penis, which show the penis to have little barbs or hooks on it, so once it is inserted, it can't easily be backed out. I don't know why I was ever under any circumstances shown diagrams of a cat's penis, either in school or by anyone else, but it's now information that I have that I'm pretty sure is true but may or may not be true.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Why FaceTime Is Weird And Awkward

Everyone knows it is; or I should say, if you've tried it then you know that. Let me start again: Trust me, FaceTime is weird and awkward. Seems like a good idea, being able to see whoever it is you're talking to - although from what I have read on The Internet, it's mainly good for showing the person on the other end what their idiot children or ugly pets or your malformed genitals look like, since they're across the country or ocean or whatever and their memory ain't work for shit.

The only real article I found (in an exhaustive 8-second Google search) that addresses that FaceTime might be awkward is this one, a sort of point-counterpoint. The first guy thinks that it's awkward mainly because you're used to doing other things while you talk on the phone with someone, either idly or actively, and you're suddenly required to give the person your rapt attention. A valid point, but it doesn't explain why it isn't uncomfortable to have a conversation in person, when you aren't free to browse online or examine your cuticles or unravel the drapes without seeming inattentive. (The other guy in that article disagrees, but then he starts making dumb jokes and I stopped paying attention to his argument.)

There are actually a lot of these, Q & A sessions about what your conversation is literally supposed to consist of over FaceTime. They're hilarious.

My short point is this: FaceTime is awkward and weird because you're FACING the person while you talk to them. It's essentially as if you're standing at arm's length from them and speaking directly into their face. They're watching your mouth, you're watching their eyes - there's nothing else to look at.

Allow me to digress into my own personal semi-coherent observations of human interactions and body language, and wonder if you've ever noticed that you almost never actually Face someone, looking directly At their Face (even from like five feet away or a normal conversational distance) when you talk to them casually. With dogs, facing and making eye contact is perceived as a threat; for people, it's usually reserved for situations like when you first meet someone, or for like when your boss is yelling at you for stealing or lying or whatever (again), or for when you and a prospective sexual partner are both drunk and trying to get in each other's underwear at the end of the night, which I think is frankly disgusting.

If you want to test this theory, simply stand square-on, face-to-face with a person the next time you're having a casual conversation with them. It's very hard to maintain for any period of time. If you insist on continuing to Face them, they may turn sideways, or subtly start almost walking behind you. Or if they're a dog, they might bite you.

Anyway, that's why it's awkward. The end

Friday, June 14, 2013

Strange Things I Saw Yesterday

Yesterday I saw some union members on strike near an offramp from the BQE. They had the signs around their necks and the cups of coffee, engaging in camaraderie, pretty normal; then one of them stepped out into the middle of the street. It was a busy spot, cars and trucks flying off the expressway up to the intersection. He stood with his arms behind his back. If anyone stopped in front of him, he challenged them - or at least that's what I think he was doing; I couldn't hear over the noise of the traffic. They would eventually maneuver around him. He lit up a cigarette.

In Greenpoint, a few hours later, pouring rain, I crossed the street at the same time as two men, mid-block. As I paused at the yellow line to let an approaching car pass, the two men walked in front of the car, and it braked to a sudden halt. One of them dropped to the ground and started doing push-ups, the other stood next to him and gave the finger to the driver. Ten push-ups, ten seconds of the Finger. The driver did nothing. His windshield wipers worked patiently. Then the one guy got up and the other guy put away his finger and the two of them walked into a liquor store.

I write to you about these things. If I write them down and just store them in my phone, I never read them, and then I lose my phone or its data one day. If I write them on paper, perhaps in a notebook, I fill the notebook and carry it from apartment to apartment for years, and never read it.

I could just tell someone about these events, but they'll either not listen, or listen and then forget, which I would understand, because the events are arguably not interesting.

I could just try and remember what happened, but I probably won't. I don't trust my memory. And if I forget, it will be like these things never happened.