Sunday, June 3, 2018

Susatinable Summer

To all of those advertisements offering summer sales and the sale ends before summer even starts, kiss off. Seriously, it makes me crazy when everyone declares it to be summer when it's not even close. It should be no big deal but it is. In a few weeks you'll see Halloween decorations at the store and you'll ask yourself, WHY?  Why the urgency? I don't know that's why I asked.
Summer will be here soon enough and when it arrives I will be prepared to have a sustainable summer.
The 20 oz. glass reusable bottle is probably just as good as the stainless steel one I got from L.L. Bean about a gillion years ago, but this one's new and shiny so I got it to have a backup. In a way this glass bottle craze is kind of funny to me. When I was a really young kid all of the soda came in bottles and you returned them to the store and the bottling companies picked them up and reused them. Recycling isn't a new concept.
Here's another concept that may not be new but I think it's improved. Bee's Wrap is sustainable food storage from Vermont. I had seen something similar advertised online and I just wasn't sure about it. When I saw it in a store I was able to actually see what it was so I gave it a chance. The only way I can describe it is it's like a tea towel with some magic coating on it that you can seal up around your food. It's made with beeswax, organic cotton, tree resin and organic jojoba oil. I've used it a few times now and they work really well. They're easy to wash off and store until they need to be used again. They seem a bit pricey but if you consider how many plastic bags you would use and how much they cost, it really evens out when it comes to cost. When it comes to being environmentally friendly it far outweighs the plastic bags. As for making the kitchen cabinets less cluttered, that's almost priceless.
Even though it's still not summer I've gathered my pile of books together that I'm going to read. So here's my summer reading list. You can either find the same books and read along with me or wait until I write about them here to let you know if they're good or bad.
Spy in the U.S,
Lee Miller
John Singer Sargent, His Portrait
Sharon Tate and the Manson Murders
His Beard Grew On Only One Cheek
A Savage Place
The Unfortunates
Chase Your Shadow: The Trials of Oscar Pistorius
The Ballad of a Small Player
Songs of the Doomed: More Notes on the Death of the American Dream
The Afterlife and Other Stories
The Film Club
Vinnie's Head
Salvador Dali

Monday, May 14, 2018

Fresh Look at Freedom

A while back I realised if I ever had to move it wouldn't be so bad. Today will be the fourth trip, in two months, I make to Goodwill to donate stuff. I'm not a hoarder by any means, but I am one of those who has a hard time getting rid of crap. By crap I mean five pairs of shoes that I kept saying, oh I better keep those because I might want to wear them, but haven't worn them in two years. Gone, good riddance, let someone else have them who will actually wear them. That's some good feelings of freedom you get by letting things like that go. So many other things in life can chain you down, why be chained to an ugly pair of shoes you never should have put in your closet in the first place? 
The movie this week, sort of a cheat but the box said, "footage not seen in U.S. telecasts", so it's sort of new.  Too bad it's been so long that I watched it that I have no idea what the never before seen footage was. Then Came Bronson, starring Michael Parks, has the tag line "FREEDOM IS AN OPEN ROAD".  You're supposed to get the impression that Park's character, Jim Bronson, obtains his freedom when he quit his job as a journalist and hit the open road on his dead friend's bike. After watching this again I feel like Bronson's freedom comes strictly from his attitude. Bronson is the definition of the saying, like water off a duck's back. He rolls with the punches and doesn't let anything get him down. That's true freedom. 
The book I read last week, Look on the Light Side A Treasury of the Best Anecdotes, 
Verse and Cartoons from Look Magazine. I found it at an antique mall. I know I griped earlier in the post about getting rid of crap but books aren't crap and if I don't like them I donate them too.  I mostly picked it up for the cartoons.  I enjoy seeing the different styles the illustrators have and how a good illustrator enhances the joke. There are a lot of anecdotes without illustrations though.  Some didn't age that well. There are a lot of one liners criticizing women who wear "slacks". "Now dieters who've been too lax overtax the slack in slacks". "Many women let themselves go during the slack season". Who calls them slacks anymore? This one reminds me of when I had to mow the lawn. "Nothing defines a property line more clearly than when your neighbor mows his lawn".  My parents built their house and for some reason left a foot on the side of their long ass driveway and garage. So when I was done with the main part of the yard I had to run the mower down this strip of yard. Why didn't they just make the driveway a foot wider? PFFFFTtttttttttttt. Here's one to think about, "Tolerance is the ability to listen to a person describe the same ailment you have".  

Monday, May 7, 2018

Treats to the Mistreated

Yesterday I had lunch with two artists who are not only great at painting but great at storytelling and just being all around great guys. The topics of conversation were broad, but two of us shared stories of how we lost in the parent lottery. This morning as I was making coffee I saw the kids who live across the street leaving their house heading to the car so they could get a ride to school. As they approached the vehicle their mother threw it in reverse and pulled out into the street. WHY?  Why are parents assholes to their children? Not only that, this woman blocked traffic as she waited for the third kid to get in the car. The first two kids looked completely defeated. It's an awful feeling when someone, who's supposed to love and take care of you, goes out of their way to do hurtful things to you. For me it was nice to finally find someone else who lost the parent lottery. When you're in this situation it feels awful because outsiders look at you and think you're the one doing wrong because you're supposed to love your family no matter what. Why should I? There are so many things in this life that we should be tolerant of, being mistreated is not one of them.

Here's a movie I recently watched that also demonstrates the aforementioned topic, but not with parents. At first I felt bad for these guys. They're really trying to make it, still, in the music industry. They aren't the worst group in the world, but perhaps they could find some fresh inspiration? Either way it's a documentary that shows just how hard it is for a band to make it in the music world. When I quit feeling bad was when the abuse kicked in. Yea, it's stressful to be a musician. Borrowing money to make a record and traveling to put on shows, but don't take it out on your bandmates. Aside from all of that it was a good movie.  If you're into documentaries and music I'd also suggest, Hired Gun. 

After watching this one I can never listen to another Billy Joel song. EVER. EVER!

Monday, April 30, 2018

Damn Fine Cup of Dog Beach

Is there anything better than a good book and a good cup of coffee? Of course there is, but right now that's what I'm going to talk about. That and a really fun movie I watched last week. 
Technically I watched a few new, to me, movies but the one that struck a chord with me was 

The Quatermass Xperiment wasn't overly well acted nor were the special effects overwhelmingly good, but the story was, pardon the pun, out of this world. So an experimental rocket crash landed and in come the cover ups. It sounds like it could take place tomorrow.  The twist, the lone surviving astronaut has been infected with some sort of alien fungus. Now the makeup department deserves a nod here because Richard Wordsworth definitely looked the part of an infected by alien fungus astronaut. It was said that this movie is what started the whole Hammer horror films. It's creepy to watch some of these science fiction movies as they all seem to have a lot of true life in them. Quatermass was horrified to learn that this is how aliens could take over the entire earth without ever landing on earth. 
Found the book for last week at the dollar store. So far the dollar store has been pretty hit and miss for something decent to read. My thought on that is, if the book is bad at least I'm only out a dollar. This book  however, was well worth the dollar and I'd have paid more. It was great to find a writer who still writes like this. It's a modern day pulp fiction novel. Hilarious, crass and full of action. I loved it. A young group of film makers are struggling to finish a movie that they don't really want to finish. Unfortunately the man who paid to have the movie made does. In a sort of slap-stick set up he hires someone to go scare the boys into finishing the movie. Turns out the non-hitting hit-man is an out of work stuntman. Instead of getting his knee caps busted the filmmaker hires the stuntman for a movie that he does want to make. It's a really well written, fun read. If you look up John Fusco you'll probably understand why, he writes a lot of good stuff. 
Lastly I want to share my latest and greatest purchase. It's that time of year again when I'm constantly on the road and sometimes in grody hotels that don't have decent coffee.  I found this Stanley coffee press and thought I'd give it a shot. It works just like a regular french press. You heat water, throw the coffee in, pour hot water on top, press the filter down and drink. I love this thing and I wish I had found it sooner. Here's to good cups of coffee in grody hotel rooms. 

Monday, April 9, 2018

Giants, Dragons and Teeth

Can there be anything more agonizing than seeing garden centers pop up everywhere and having fresh snow on the ground? Whoever pissed off Mother Nature could you please make it right with her? She's punishing us all. Surely there are more agonizing things in life but we'll just add this one to the pile. This is your cue to go grab some popcorn and a beverage, this is a long one.
ClayBrite Toothpaste
My cousin told me this story that I clearly remember, except for the part where I threatened her. When I was a kid someone gifted me a set of flavored toothpaste. I guess it was manufactured to encourage kids to brush their teeth.  There were five tubes, all colourfully packaged with cute cartoony fruits.  Some of the flavours were cherry, grape and banana. The banana flavour was enough to make anyone run in fear from any form of dental hygiene. Artificial banana flavoured anything is the work of Satan's demons. So the story goes I pulled my cousin into the bathroom to show her my fancy tubes of toothpaste.  She was excited/curious and wanted to taste them. Yea, like it was candy or something. I remember thinking, oh well if she wants to, maybe I could pawn the banana off on her.  After thinking about what we did I told her I'd never talk to her again if she told anyone what we did. When she told me that story, YEARS, later I laughed so hard. I remembered the incident well.  The threat probably came from two places, one my mom would have beaten me with whatever was handy and two how could I explain to anyone that we were hiding and eating toothpaste?  That's something weirdos would do. So here I am being weird and telling you about another tube of toothpaste.
A few months ago I was at a health food store to pick up some tea and candy, because candy from the health food store is health food.  As I looked at stuff while waiting to pay this black tube of toothpaste caught my attention. Charcoal toothpaste. I draw with it why not brush my teeth with it? I bought it and use it every day now. Once I got home and tried it out I read more of the label. Fluoride free and gluten free, this made my eyes roll.  A few years back a guy was preaching to me about why I shouldn't drink the tap water because the city puts too much fluoride in it. Then he went into the whole spiel about how fluoride is a chemical that's supposed to make people more submissive. In doing some search for the fellow torch carriers I found an article titled, "Yes, Fluoride Makes You Stupid". I think it should have been titled, Freaking Out About Fluoride Makes You Stupid. It's true, too much fluoride is bad for you, but too much of everything almost is. If people on the anti-fluoride bandwagon did a little more research they'd learn that escaping fluoride is harder than just not drinking tap water. Baked potatoes, black tea, carrots, grass, flowers and oh yea anywhere there are burning fossil fuels you'll find fluorides and they'll find themselves in the rainwater. There's no escaping fluorides, but yea maybe that's what's causing the mass stupidity problem. Here I thought it was the onset of reality TV shows. ANYWHO, the ClayBrite toothpaste also states that it's sugar free. That one was a curve ball for me. I honestly had no idea that other brands put saccharine and sugars in their product. I grabbed out the big named brand tube and checked the ingredients. Sure enough it had sorbitol as the number one inactive ingredient. Why does my toothpaste need sugar alcohol? Evidently sorbitol is used to sweeten the paste and since it's "not a decaying sugar" it's labeled as acceptable. WHAT?  I'm not sure what to make of all of that. I've brushed my teeth my whole life with Crest and I still have my teeth so I really don't know what to believe. I did switch to the Claybrite activated charcoal toothpaste though because I like it better than the Crest. It's strange since I switched I did try Crest again and it seemed like it was too sweet. It's like drinking unsweetened tea and someone giving you sweet tea instead. With the ClayBrite it just feels like I cleaned my teeth. With the Crest it's more like I just made my mouth minty. Which isn't a bad thing but cleanliness should be the number one goal here.
What good is toothpaste without a toothbrush? I remember being a kid in the dentist's chair and he explained to me that even if you don't use toothpaste you can still brush your teeth with just the toothbrush. My parents are assholes, in case I never mentioned that before, and when I was a kid they'd put stuff where I couldn't reach it. Understandably they should've put some stuff out of reach but the toothpaste? Assholes. (P.S. they put that crappy fruit flavoured toothpaste under the sink, where you're not supposed to store stuff but I could at least reach it.) So that's a possibility for those of you who are fluoride-phobes. But now there are people telling me that my toothbrush is unsafe too. We can't win! Plastic is bad. Plastic is the devil. OK so what do you do about a toothbrush? Someone pointed my eyes in the direction of this Giving Brush.  The brushes are made out of bamboo, which is supposed to be more sustainable and easier to recycle. This particular Giving Brush was "FREE".  Free with the price of $6.99 for shipping and handling. That still seemed reasonable for doing my part to help the environment and possibly put Mother Nature's temperament back to normal. It arrived in about two weeks from placing the order and it was creepy. Creepy enough that I have yet to use this brush. Yep, I'm still using the evil plastic one my dentist gives to me after my checkup. The brush arrived in an envelope with no indication who it was from or what was inside. It also came from China with only Chinese information which would be fine if I could read that language. I opened it to find a crumpled up box with my "free" toothbrush inside. Am I crazy for being scared to use this thing?
The movie I watched was "The Red Dragon".  I searched for a trailer but sadly couldn't find one for this particular Charlie Chan film.  It's purely coincidence that I watched this film and all of a sudden a new form of outrage is taking place on social media. Molly Ringwald wrote an essay about revisiting the movie The Breakfast Club. It's about how, years later, she looks back at it and sees how inappropriate some scenes are. There is a scene in this film where a man goes after the maid, but it's done in humor. She slaps him across the face as he tries to "pick her up" and it gives everyone a laugh. If you read Ringwald's essay it makes you think that even this scene should not be allowed. But where do we draw the line from entertainment to real life? I have to admit I'm on the fence about all of it. While I find Donna Reed in dark makeup dressed up as Sacagawea an abomination I'm not sure if implying that a boy looked up some girl's skirt is a crime. What I am sure of is that there's no need to censor these things. How can we learn from our mistakes if we destroy our past? There once was a time when heroin was prescribed as a cough suppressant. Thalidomide was prescribed to pregnant women to help with morning sickness only to find out it caused malformations in the babies. My point is man has made far bigger mistakes and learned from them.  Going back 20 or more years to pick apart the underlying themes to a movie is like a teacher going back and correcting that paper you turned in 30 years ago and realising that you actually failed. Let's take back your diploma then and everything you've done since then. It really makes one wonder if the fluoride does make us stupid.
Last but far from the least is the book for the week. I'll admit I cheated, this isn't a new book but I re-read it for a piece I'm wrote. It will be live at Librairie Z News & Reviews, so I won't say too much here. I will say this, it made me cry. Twice. If you're thinking humanity is broken now you'll be sad to know that it's always been that way and this book demonstrates just how horrible people can be. Or we're all just too stupid from all the fluoride floating around.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Fairy Legends

Seems Spring is being a bit timid this year. A snow filled weekend made for a nice April Fool's day joke.

What's no joke is the movie I watched, Killer Legends. It's a documentary which seems to want to discredit every urban legend that keeps people on the straight and narrow. What does that mean? It means don't go "parking", be more responsible and be more diligent about safety. I've always been under the impression that urban legends were tales made up to make you too afraid to do bad stuff. The health class teacher in middle school was full of them. However, she couldn't back up any of them with a minute amount of evidence. One was a story about two boys who were sniffing glue near a basement window well. One passed out and fell headfirst into the window well and died. She hated that I had too many questions about the swiss cheese of a story she told, but her point was that she was trying to prevent a bunch of 12 year old kids from doing drugs, sniffing glue, eating paint chips, or whatever. She told another story about a girl who traveled to Europe and met a guy, had pre-marital sex with him then when she got on the plane to go home she received a gift. When she opened it there was a tiny coffin in it with the note, welcome to the world of AIDS.  Supposedly her one night stand was with a man who was intentionally spreading AIDS to everyone he could. At the time she told that story it was highly unlikely that it actually happened. Now there are people in prison for doing that. Which sounds a lot like the stories in this movie. The tainted Halloween candy and the man who ruined Halloween. JEBUS, what is wrong with people? There were many urban legends about kids eating poisoned candy or candy that had pins or razor blades in them. It put most parents on edge and they would check your candy before you ate it. According to the documentary there has never been an actual case of tainted candy, except this one. This man took the urban legend and brought it to life by feeding his own children Pixy Stix filled with poison. What a monster. Another urban legend was turned into a movie and what the documentary filmmakers discovered was that most of the people now tell the urban legend with information that was made up for the movie. This is an interesting revelation into basic story telling. If the wrong information keeps being repeated it slowly becomes the truth even though it's not. They say that necessity is the mother of invention. A lot of people need these invented tales to keep a little bit of fear/excitement in their lives. Over time the stories need to be embellished because sometimes the things that frightened our grandparents don't seem that scary to us now. The documentary is well done, entertaining and informative, the only gripe is the cheesy parts where they go out at night with flashlights. It's like those lame ghost hunting shows that make you want to believe that ghosts only come out at night. 
The book I read this week, Fairy Tales Every Child Should Know. You might be thinking, I'm too old to read fairy tales but you might be thinking incorrectly. I got this book in an attempt to find a story to illustrate and what I found was a book full of unfiltered versions of stories that I've read before. Are these the original versions of the stories? The updated and Disney versions of these stories are so watered down and it's funny how the Disney versions of these tales are becoming the stories that people know and believe to be true. (Not true as in real life true, but the true version of the story). These tales are much more exciting and at times more frightening than the versions I remember. So why should children know these tales?  I have no idea. People are still trying to blame video games and movies on real life violence.  These stories can give you nightmares. They can also give you a few hours of entertainment as well. 

Monday, March 26, 2018

Alarming Secret Lives and Motorcycles

Hunter S. Thompson said, "Love is that feeling you get when you like something as much as your motorcycle". If you don't have a motorcycle the sentiment still applies. Whatever gives you that feeling of freedom and happiness.  You might be asking how a motorcycle can give you a sense of freedom. Just think back to when you were a kid and what gave you your sense of freedom.  For me it was a bicycle. Once I got on a bicycle I could go wherever I wanted. Sure the same can be done with a comfortable pair of shoes on your feet but you could go farther and faster on a bike. Also, running down the makeshift bike ramps isn't the same as sailing through the air between the doubles. So maybe love is that feeling you have all day just before the street lamps turn on and your mom yells for you to come home. 
One of the most iconic motorcycles you'll ever see. It's also one of the ugliest. When I was a kid the word sissy was a pretty big insult so why anyone would modify there bike to put anything with the word sissy involved is beyond me. Anywho, my latest adventure took me to the National Motorcycle Museum and it was amazing. From floor to ceiling there are motorcycles and that's not an exaggeration. 
The book I read this week, The Secret Life of Lobsters, by Trevor Corson. It's about fishermen, scientists and lobsters. You wouldn't think the life of a lobster would be so interesting but it's the life of a lobster that touches the lives of others that makes this a good read. It begins with the description of fishermen heading out for the day's work. One uses old school navigation, siting rocks and trees that tell him when to turn. The other takes a different route to meet up with a ship full of scientists. The scientists are trying to learn why the number of lobsters has gone down. Are they being over fished, are they sick or are they just going somewhere else? One thing that got me thinking was the discovery of a four foot lobster. In Maine there are laws stating how big a lobster must be in order for fishermen to sell them. The body, basically from the eyes to the tail, the minimum size is 3 1/4 inches and maximum is 5 inches and considered "jumbo".  The next time you put a teaspoon in the dishwasher step back and look. The teaspoon is about a "jumbo" lobster, the dishwasher, from floor to counter is probably just shy of four foot. It makes you wonder if we really need genetically modified food.  Do we need to pump growth hormone into our food sources or should we just let them grow? On another note, how are we preparing ourselves for an attack of the 20 foot lobsters? 

The movie I watched this week, "Cause for Alarm".  If it weren't for TCM I'd miss out on a lot of movies I've never heard of.  A lot of them have me curious though, the stories don't seem well thought out and it makes it look like they used to make movies about any old thing. This one turned into something but I doubt there's a genre of film called, anxious housewife. It begins with a woman volunteering in the infirmary to help wounded soldiers. When she mistakenly helps a soldier who isn't injured, just a bad hangover, she foolishly falls in love with him. The war took its toll on him and he returned home with a bad heart. She's desperately trying to keep him happy and healthy but he's an ass. She should've seen that coming when he took advantage of her kindness in the beginning. The twist is that he's going crazy too and believes that she's trying to kill him with the aid of his doctor. He writes a letter to the district attorney explaining that when he dies it will be at the hand of his wife and his doctor. He tricks her into mailing the letter and it all goes off the rails from there.  It's crazy to think how one must keep it all together, and keep up appearances at the same time.