July 4

Because I grew up in a hovel

Sometimes I think about what movies my life most resembles.

Selection depends on circumstance.

For example, if I have to eat dinner with Jacquie and her relatives, or if an airplane were to crash into my head, those days would be like Alien and Die Hard, respectively.

There are plenty of other parallels, though, ranging from the obvious to the oblique. When I floss my teeth, of course I’m going to see myself as Dustin Hoffman doing the interrogation scene with Lawrence Olivier in Marathon Man.

But when Jacquie comes home after a difficult, endless day helping Auckland’s mentally ill community, it’s hard to say. Life then seems like a mystifying pastiche of Tina Turner’s segment in Tommy and any adaptation of Jane Eyre, take your pick. Imagine the daughter of a Victorian parvenu, in a mini-dress, overindulging on some ‘queer’ mushrooms she’d found in a cow patty, winding up eight hours later in an asylum, signing over her dad’s estate to the warden, and you’ll get the visuals. Jacquie often comes home in a foul mood, and goes straight over to open the windows because “there are bad airs” in the lounge.

So analogy by film is that handy way I chart my progress toward perfection as a human being, and away from being like Adam Sandler.

This comes easiest, most days, if I compare my life to Star Wars. It’s not just because the original epic bore witness to the final, historic transformation of cinema from theater-based entertainment to brand-based enterprise, but mostly because people tend to mistake me for Harrison Ford.

True, the comparison may strain the credulity of skeptics. Never mind the fact that, like Han Solo, I too have a pet companion that is furry and adventurous and enjoys licking his own rectum. It’s just too difficult for those die-hard fans out there to imagine Han Solo as a nasally, early middle-aged, trade magazine editor whose greatest thrill is to sleep past 8:30 on a Saturday morning. The parallel goes much deeper than that. The women in both our lives condescend to us as their social inferiors.

This manifests in my case whenever Jacquie perceives disorder in our small apartment. There is a constant battle here between tidiness and clutter and somehow I’m always on the wrong team. No matter what I do or don’t do, no matter how dirty or clean the place is, Jacquie always greets me with the same chiding statement.

“I know you grew up in a hovel in the Bronx,” it begins, “but you really need to [insert maintenance request here].”

It irks me that Jacquie uses the Bronx against me. Like she’s the frigging duchess of Kent.

I tell her, “Honey, you’re a Westie. I’m lucky the car isn’t up on cinderblocks in the driveway and I don’t have two kids, one that looks mysteriously like the milkman and another that displays virtuosity on the banjo, but can’t wipe the drool his face.”

What’s really going on? Self promotion

I have to confess that the preceding was not much more than a set-up with punch lines to a couple of jokes which weren’t even funny to begin with.

While some aspects of the back story, such as how I measure my life against my favorite movies, are indeed factual, the narrative as a whole isn’t “really true”.

This disclaimer seems important in this age of dimming. Last week, a Discovery Channel programme drew attention to the network as the fraudulent purveyor of ignorance that it is. This is the cable channel in the US that pretends to take an interest in science, then airs programmes about UFOs and Noah’s Ark. It recently aired a program called Mermaids: The Body Found. Apparently, the channel’s documentary-style “science fiction” was so indistinguishable from its “science”-style documentaries, that the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration felt it necessary to issue a statement to clarify that there is no evidence for the existence of mermaids.

It’s always fun to have a laugh, followed by a long sob, at American ignorance and the Americans that profit therefrom.

Like two weeks ago when Oreo Cookies launched its marketing campaign in honor of gay pride. The campaign featured a speculative cookie made from a dozen layers of colored lard corresponding to the rainbow colors of the gay pride flag.

This, of course, drew the ire of cultural conservatives who decided to “vote with their feet” away from Facebook, where the campaign appeared.

Their reaction stood in stark contrast to the majority’s enthusiasm and support for this blatant, if sensible and correct, marketing overture.

In the minority were those outraged and alarmed by “yet another liberal company destroying our religious values and teaching immorality”. What kind of people feel morally threatened by a cookie? They seem mystified and alarmed that the reality of nature, biology and civil justice has thoroughly encroached on the territory formerly held by the literature and institutions of their Neolithic reckoning. The salt of the Earth. You know. Morons.

They promised on Facebook never to buy an Oreo cookie again. But I don’t buy that. I imagine these are not the kind of people to pass up on corn syrup. I was so irritated and amused by their hollow protests that I decided to “like” the Oreo cookie Facebook page. I held out this olive branch, a “family safe joke that everyone will love: What’s dark and round and full of cream?”

Ok, I have to confess again that the only reason I mentioned the ignorance and Oreo things is because, once again, I wanted to tell more jokes I thought of recently.

So, for real. To make up for the bad jokes, I’m going to close this post with a couple amusing videos.

First, something that actually happened in Auckland

Last week, I went to pick up some takeaways from a new Thai restaurant that opened a block from us.

Soon after I got there, the most hilarious thing happened.

Actually, the funny part comes after this video ends. Basically what happens is a woman comes in after me to put in an order.

When she’s finished ordering, the cashier looks up happily at her.

“Will there be anything else, sir?” the cashier says.

The customer looks puzzled, unsure how to respond.

“No, that will be all,” she finally says.

The cashier smiled and nodded.

“That will be $14.95, sir,” he said.

Which is kind of like something that happened to me and Jacquie on our honeymoon.

And finally, something that happened in San Diego

Lastly, on July 4, there was a malfunction at the Big Bay Boom fireworks show in San Diego.

All the fireworks went off at once. Which I think wasn’t a bad thing. And neither do the hosts of the Young Turks who comment about it here.

What I like more than their commentary is the closed caption from the video. YouTube seems to be Beta Testing some kind of automatic captioning software. But the results aren’t very clear. In fact the translation of the above clip reads more like YouTube has come up with a Concrete Poet application:

right but i will say this
i would have preferred that
as opposed to what I saw last night
at the fireworks show humming different
and sometimes quicker is better um…
interested five no i don’t know
cartoon violence you’ve seen them all
after like after like two minutes I’m like
often alum got I’ve seen this fire
and that’s what I was just another analogy pioneer
that pilots i think is the greatest fireworks as in a long time
part number one i’m so tired of the fifty minute fireworks are you all there
is another log all that what’s going on
that one spread by god and i got it i’ve
seen a for forty two years trade
this indulgence as i a lot
second of all
it looks like a real war
no fireworks that was like you don’t
know but like you to take this they
would get your revolution etcetera
facebook woolworth’s was this already
and there are a lot of stand that looks
like rack urself
rikki that this kind of bats
and all that story the same time
of totally be was a but added that a
civil that was my favorite fireworks and
as long as I remember
once the last time they were prescribed
by next i’d find it highly presitgious
student for like two minutes
you get over it because it’s the same
thing over and over again
stays up but i will say this and just a
little concerned about your obsession
with like how it looks like more of that
so we are
i don’t have a baptism character
now and i like him a look at a bad asses
on l.a. latest like something out of you
see every movement wants security fucked
up lisa
little concern now

Sorry. I know this blog post was rather disorderly. But you can forgive me. I grew up in a hovel in the Bronx.