Every Woody Allen Stammer From Every Woody Allen Movie E-E-Ever

Perhaps they’re secretly on the the National Stuttering Association’s payroll. Maybe they’re competing with this scintillating video from the British Stammering Association National Conference 2011. Or could it be that editors Ben Craw and Oliver Noble have a shared obsession for verbal disfluencies that found its apotheosis in their 44 minute supercut of “every Woody Allen stammer ever from every Woody Allen movie ever”…?   Actually, these guys are staffers at HuffPo, which goes to show there’s entirely too much money dripping down from A-A-A-AOL. But as Woody might say, “Money is better than poverty, if only for financial reasons.”

Wet Dreams: Who Invented the Water Bed?

Waterbed Sale
When considering the advent of the waterbed, there are several pitfalls writers must avoid. Chief among them is conflating the nocturnal and aquatic in juvenile puns like “wetting the bed,” “wet dreams” and, of course, the mafia-inflected “sleeping with the fishes.” Or, with apologies to Bobby Darin, “Splish splash I was taking a nap…” The best route, I’ve realized, is to roll over into a personal query. “Was I, a child of the 70s – arguably the heyday of the “sea of sleep” – conceived on a water bed?”

I called my mom. A moment mercifully passed without any detectable awkwardness (this, of course, is the woman whom referred to my father as her “Larwentian lover,” after Women In Love author D.H. Lawrence, so I knew she was cool). Finally my mother answered: “No, I don’t think so,” though the timbre of her voice made her answer sound even less definite. Perhaps because the waterbed became popular during an era of unprecedented pre-AIDS licentiousness, a sexualized perception persists. The Urban Dictionary, an online repository of slang, lists the term “waterbed” as a verb with the suggestive example “Chris and Emily waterbed every single night.”

To wit, anyone born in the 70s, stand a fair chance of having been conceived in one. To whom do we owe our very lives? We can thank, or at least our parents can thank, designer Charles Hall, inventor of the modern waterbed. Continue reading “Wet Dreams: Who Invented the Water Bed?”

It’s the Anniversary of the Howl Obscenities Trial

It was 57 years ago today that the Allen Ginsberg’s poem Howl was seized by U.S. Customs agents on charges of obscenity (read Carolyn Kellogg of the LA Times piece on the Howl trial). The resulting obscenities trial found its publisher,  Lawrence Ferlinghetti of City Lights, defeating the charges and scoring a victory for freedom of expression and, for that matter, indie publishing.

Part Cassandra myth, part legal thriller – obscenities trials have long been a personal obsession of mine. The list of bright minds who have endured them (James Joyce, Henry Miller, Allen Ginsburg, Lenny Bruce, Oscar Wilde and hundreds of others) is woefully long, especially for a country that does much of its world-beating in the name of free speech and the freedom of the press.

Mine is a simpatico born of self-important adolescent persecution fantasies – the neurotic cornerstone from I’ve chiseled the bedrock of my career. I began this process in earnest during my freshman year in high school when my English teacher realized that I was faking my “current event” assignments. Instead of paraphrasing newspaper articles as instructed, I made up the news entirely. In my opinion, this was a more creative exercise. In lieu of a gold star, however, I received detention. Continue reading “It’s the Anniversary of the Howl Obscenities Trial”

March Madness Bracket: Belgian Ale & Pork Rinds

March_hareWork with me here: Until recently, I assumed “March Madness” was a reference to Alice in Wonderland a la “as mad as a March hare.” Turns out its about college basketball, which, this time of year, enjoys its own pseudoscience in the form of Bracketology. Apparently, Bracketologists predict the winner of the annual National Collegiate Athletic Association basketball tournament using – I’m presuming – that cousin of the parenthesis, the square bracket. Like so: [bracket].
Inasmuch as brackets are used to frame prospective matches between teams, it seems to me they can be used to pair off more than competitors. They could “bracket” potential complements too. Consider the “stunt pairings” trend of last decade, when all manner of foodstuffs and wines were pushed into a dark closet together as if at a teenage house party. Wine and McDonald’s hamburgers were often thrown together, the thinking being that the combination of “high” and “low” culture could break the seventh seal and unleash the apocalypse. Exciting. Turns out it was just a waste of wine. And sometimes Big Macs.

Christopher “Sommelier to the Stars” Sawyer landed himself a profile in Esquire for successfully abstracting the concept by pairing wine with movies. Likewise, Sonoma music scribe J.M. Berry, a.k.a “Winotone,” briefly paired wine and classic rock. Though he didn’t rate an Esquire profile, I’m sure if he’d stuck it out, Guitar Player Magazine might eventually have become his A.A. sponsor or something.

When it comes to food pairings that A) aren’t merely conceptual art and B) are edible, the benchmark was set in 1928 by H.B Reese when he recognized that chocolate and peanut butter could become something greater than the sum of its parts. It’s in this vein that I’ve recently began bracketing my own pairings in search of two great tastes that taste great together.

Continue reading “March Madness Bracket: Belgian Ale & Pork Rinds”

Tarantino’s Ouvre as Classic Penguin Paperbacks

Tarantino Bookcovers
Among my favorite design trends these past months is the spate of “alternative universe” retro book covers for source material originated in different media. The Record Books of Christophe Gowans‘ (hit records as books) is worth a peek, ditto Mitch Ansara’s I Can Read Movies series, which owes a genetic debt to the work of  Germano Facetti, the art director at Penguin in the 60s and early 70s. London-based graphic designer Sharm Murugiah continues the exercise by filtering the ouvre of  Quentin Tarantino through a Penguin-style lens. The results  play to the strengths of both of Murugiah’s inspirations, while his own wit and sensibility shine through (using the toaster from Pulp Fiction was a nice touch). Click through to see it at the source…

Via  @ LaughingSquid.

Voyager-1 Leaves the Solar System, Cranks Tunes

VgerIn 1977, the same year Elvis left the building (for good), Voyager-1 began its journey toward the outer reaches of the heliosphere. Flash-forward 36 years and the headline this week is that “Voyager-1 has left the solar system.” For good. Like, sayanora. Like, it’s not coming back. So forget those earrings you loaned it.
Why would Voyager-1 return given what’s happened on Earth in the decades since it split? Not to mention Star Trek: the Movie Picture which postulated a sixth Voyager that became sentient and had a cosmic threesome with a bald Indian supermodel and the priest from 7th Heaven.

In about 10 years, Voyager-1 will have traveled so far outside our solar system we will no longer receive its interplanetary postcards. These were mostly planet porn and reports on cosmic rays anyway. In about 40,000 years, it will be within 1.7 light years of a star called AC+793888.

Any place that looks like an algebra equation has got to be far away, right? Below is Voyager-1’s last glance at Earth – just dust in the solar wind. Continue reading “Voyager-1 Leaves the Solar System, Cranks Tunes”

Netflix, Your Algorithm is High

Like most of Gen X, I find myself occasionally doing recon on the 70s – that mystery moment Tom Wolfe dubbed the “Me Decade” for its social atomism and relative self-involvement. Though most of us wee ones were barely allowed to make our fashion choices “let alone find ourselves,” we could occasionally sneak some grown-up fare in the  on HBO and Cinemax while the parents discussed the finer points of  Almaden. This is how I  saw Cheech & Chong’s Up in Smoke for the first time. It would not be the last. That was last week, when I streamed it on Netflix. Now, Netflix thinks I’m a stoner. See:
Netflix is high.

There’s something school marmish in the way Netflix chides “Because you watched…” It sounds punitive. Like I’ve broken the secret “Don’t Watch Cheech & Chong Rule” and now my punishment is having to watch Half Baked and Super High Me. That, or, the service’s suggestion algorithm is high. Continue reading “Netflix, Your Algorithm is High”

5 St. Patrick’s Day Myths Debunked

Irish T-shirt LassMarch 17 marks the one day of the year when those of Irish blood can revel in their negative cultural stereotypes and not necessarily affirm them. Speaking as someone of Irish descent, I can say without risk of racism, that the (pink) elephant in the room is that we’re all raging alcoholics. But on St. Patrick’s Day, everyone looks like a raging alcoholic, so we simply blend in. Then we rule the night – for in the land of the blind drunk, the Irishman is king. As the proverb goes, “An Irishman is never drunk as long as he can hold onto one blade of grass and not fall off the face of the earth.”
I admit my observations may put the ire in Ireland but then my people seldom seek self-reflection beyond what may be viewed at the bottom of a pint glass. Which amounts to a pair of nostrils and weepy eyes. Given the view, most conclude that they must be smiling. I know I am. It’s with great pride and amusement that I recall my first meeting of Irish Anonymous, when I stood up before my “McBrethren” and announced “I’m Daedalus Howell and I am an Irish-American” without even falling over.

Continue reading “5 St. Patrick’s Day Myths Debunked”