Friday, August 31, 2007

Dorm Fires: Don't Sleep with Candles Burning!

Candle in the Wind
Originally uploaded by The G-tastic 7

I just read an article on The Consumerist that reminds me of a great personal story.

When I was in college, I lived in fraternity house. My room was in the basement if you came in the front door, ground level if you entered from behind. It was a firetrap: mattress on the floor surrounded by every inch of floor being covered by piles of laundry ranging from one or two shirts near the bed to three-foot-high piles around the perimeter. I smoked in my room, but had no trouble ashing and extinguishing appropriately.

I was also a total pothead. I worked two jobs and would get home very late most nights. My ritual involved sitting on the bed and smoking a bong while I listened to music. I worked too much and had too low a self-image to ever get any action, so I had developed this routine.

Well, one night, a Saturday, I got home and got into my groove. For some reason, I was wanting to burn a candle. Not sure why, really. Sometimes candles are nice and comforting, I guess. I had a small votive candle in one of those plastic cups they put condiments in when you get take-out. (Bad idea.) It was next to my bed, on a stack of CD jewel boxes, on my alarm clock, on the milk crate that served as a book-case cum bedside table. I decided to keep the pleasant glow as I drifted off to sleep...

Near dawn on Sunday morning, I drifted fairly quickly into consciousness. Sade was playing on my alarm clock (I'd forgotten to turn it off for Sunday sleep-in.), one of those slow, sultry tunes for which I shall ever adore her. It was soooo powerful, the sound of her voice and the bright, orange light.

Bright orange light! I opened my eyes--ACK! About a foot from my head was a flame that was--like--over six inches high and broad enough to support that height. I bolted upright and, all at once, inhaled as deeply as I could to blow out the flame and said to myself, "Self, you are not going to be able to blow this fire out. Once you confirm this in about two seconds, you're going to have to move quickly. Think fast--run into the kitchen, get a large pot [frat kitchens have pots you could bathe in], and try to smother the fire with that."

I let out a huge exhale, and the fire miraculously extinguished. As I sat there panting, I realized the candle had been a bad idea. Sade was calming me. The flame had clearly spread from the dwindling votive to the plastic condiment container, then engulfed that, and spread to the plastic CD boxes stacked beneath it. Charred remains of Crystal Gayle's Greatest Hits and some early Outkast album were bubbling and sizzling there atop my alarm clock.

Phew, I thought, as I looked up to see that the room was filled with thick, black, plastic SMOKE! Oh shit! It's a Sunday morning, early, and I'm about to alert the whole house to my irresponsible actions by setting off the fire alarm and waking them all up!

I dove for the windows and threw them open, then opened the door to my room and the door to the outside, right next to my room's door. I proceeded to do some fairly energetic fanning, pushing the smoke outside and away from the smoke detectors.

Finally, the smoke dissipated, and I could be sure there would be no alarm. I closed my door and the outside door, leaving the windows open to clear that burned plastic smell, loaded up the bong, and passed out, exhausted, questioning my then-atheism.

So let that be a lesson to you: don't go to sleep with candles burning. Especially if you have them in plastic condiment containers. Especially if you live in a firetrap of a room that could become an inferno in no time flat. And especially if you don't want a sign from the great beyond that you just might not be as smart and autonomous as you think you are.

Update: Many thanks to my friend Anonymous for recalling that one of the best details of the disaster's aftermath was that we discovered all the cobwebs on my super-high ceilings had turned black from the smoke. Also, I recall that an old floor plan of our building labeled my room as "Garbage Room". This made me feel there was a bit of fate at play in my having been such a sloppy guy. (Unfortunately, old habits die hard and once the ghost of garbage past made me start being sloppy, I ended up carrying the curse with me into even the present day.)

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Thursday, August 30, 2007

Two Days 'Til I'm a Dad: Name That Puppy!

Oh, isn't he just adorable? The one on the right? And his spitfire little sis currently called Minnie--isn't she tiny? And the other two are perfectly cute as well, but my little guy is just soooo precious.

And nameless still.

What shall I call him?

I've had suggestions of Zeus and Gomez. I like them both, but I'm going to have to keep the voting open for a while.

Meanwhile, I just want to say that I cannot imagine how expectant parents ever STAND it. It seriously takes all of my will to do anything at all other than freak out about whether the puppy will like his new home and best friend. Will he cry for days? Will he refuse to eat? Will he forget all the potty training he already has?

My heart is breaking for this little guy. Actually, Little Guy is the name my friend who's the breeder calls him. I like it, but not enough to saddle him with it for life. I'd rather, I think, just wait until I'm able to bond with him a little more. I promise I'll blog about real things (fashion, celebrities, maybe some politics) soon enough, but it's more than my wee brain can handle just now with all the space taken up by Little Guy.

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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Clarification: Flip-flops on Men vs. Flip-flops as Men's Fashion

Well Hello feet!
Originally uploaded by saraab

I blogged recently about the absurd column I read pushing flip-flops to men as one of the five it-clothes to have for summer. As I'd spent a good bit of time annoyed with that fuaxhawked fashion-ick-sta, I left that post feeling good about life again. I'd said my piece.

Some of my friends have pressed me, though, to post a clarification. I did not mean to say that men should not wear flip-flops. As I thought I had indicated, men with lovely feet (such as those in the accompanying photo) are welcome to wear flip-flops any time, all the time, provided they can keep them on their feet.

What I believe to be abhorrent about them is the recommendation that they are: fashionable; appropriate for men at large to wear; and can be worn into the evening. To hear that sort of crud from someone who's a "guide" to fashion is to hear someone recommend that the street is the coolest type of playground. That's just irresponsible.

You got purty feet? Wear 'em away. Don't try to tell me they're appropriate for evening--or fashionable--but feel free to wear them.

I hope this will put the matter to rest. My soul longs to have the darkness of the flip-flop flap behind us.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Who's Writing Your Copy?

Okay, one benefit of having a degree in English and a lifelong love of language (did you see what I did there?) is that you get to be bitchy about bad writing. I'll never get rich because I didn't learn marketable skills, so I get to be mean when people are apparently being paid to do something poorly.

Earlier today, I was posting about pet supplies. In particular, there was a dog bed in the shape of a Ferrari: a Furrari. This is being sold by a site called; they have neat stuff and a nice design, but whoever they're paying to write copy should be fired. Here's why:

Share your love of luxury Italian sports cars with your furry friend with our Furrari Bed. This luxurious pet bed is a parody of the infamous Italian sports cars. This bed measures 32"x24" so it may only be suitable for smaller pets.

Infamous? As in, "Of very bad report; having a reputation of the worst kind; held in abhorrence; guilty of something that exposes to infamy; base; notoriously vile; detestable; as, an infamous traitor; an infamous perjurer"? That "infamous"? 'Cause why would I want to drop two hundred eighty-two bucks plus shipping on something for my sweet little doggy that's a parody of a car with a bad rep? And furthermore, since when does a Ferrari have a bad rep according to anyone but whoever's writing copy for Wrapables and clearly prefers syllable-count to accuracy?

I'm just sayin'...

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Name That Puppy!

I haven't been able to post for days because I have puppy on the brain. I'm getting my first-ever pet since childhood, an adorable chihuahua puppy. I've been visiting the litter for eight weeks, waiting until the last possible moment to take my kind friends up on their offer to let me have first pick.

At long last, I've bonded most substantially with the little gray and white one in the background there. And I'm sure you can see why he holds the strings to my heart and manages to keep me from being able to focus on anything but preparing the puppy nursery chez moi.

So my big worry now is what to name the little feller. I'll probably spend a few days with him in my house before I choose a name, but I invite you to weigh in on possible name choices in the comments.

There he is again! Couldn't you just cry to think of all the joy holding that wee one close to you would bring?

Meanwhile, I'm having a crazy time with puppy supplies. Now, in our parents' days, you got a dog, a bowl, a bone, and you were done. Collar, sure. Leash, yeah. But in the good old US of A these days, there's a gazillion dollar industry of stuff for your pets. In Fagland, USA there's a boutique on every corner with stuff you feel you just have to have for your pet. I'm trying to resist going down that lane.

I mean, of course I had to get the puppy playpen. I'm a slob and my little guy needs a puppy-safe zone so he doesn't teethe on my bicycle tires. And these guys are wee and my apartment is drafty; and their current owners have explained that the only possible bed for my baby is a kind of doggy sleeping bag they can crawl into for warmth or just to get away from the madness that is me. (Yes, it just so happens the cheapest one I could find online or in person happened to be available only in faaaaabulous leopard print.) But I'm eschewing the Furrari. At least until his first birthday.

Hey, don't forget to help me Name That Puppy in the comments.

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Friday, August 24, 2007

Blue Friday: "What About Blowjobs"

Leave it to my friend C. and Margaret Cho to introduce me to the best stuff on the internets. This time, it's Reggie Watts.

Mr. Watts offers some sound advice, though I personally feel that the hand-on-shaft portion is only necessary when the mouth isn't up to the task. And the crossroads he describes at the end puzzles me as a gay man: why do all that work and then skip the payoff? "Get out of the way," he offers; that's like leaving the cake out in the rain, in my opinion.

By all means, though, do "cradle the balls."

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Thursday, August 23, 2007

Planet Unicorn Heeyyyyyy!

"In the year 2117, an eight year old gay boy named Shannon found a magic lamp. He was granted three wishes. The first: a fur jacket. The second: a flying car. And the third was a planet full of unicorns. This is the story of that planet."

This is simply the coolest, most twisted cartoon I've ever seen. Careful: once you get it in your head, you're likely to be hooked.

Oh, and just so you know before you hit play, it is G- to the A-Y.

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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Why I Love The Internets: LOLcats

When I was in college, I lived in a house with about thirty men. [And, no, there were no circle jerks or other such things one always hears about frat life. I was darn disappointed by that--so much so that I had to move to San Francisco only to learn that we only have hot mansex in the streets like two or three days a year. And it's only a couple of streets even then. Freakin' myths.] One thing we did for amusement occasionally was to take a photo and stick it to a piece of paper, then smack that up on one of the bathroom stalls with a pen on a string. People would write heeeelarious captions.

Well, that was the stone age. The internets have essentially made that stall wall available to everyone. You can take a photo, smack it on a page with a caption, and flush it through the "series of tubes" that is the Internet, and soon the whole world can giggle about the juxtaposition of a funny photo with a few words.

Which brings me to the LOLcats phenomenon. I only learned of it recently, though I gather it's been around since 2006. (As is true of most of what I know, I learned this from wikipedia.) Take a cat photo, attribute a quote to the cat, giggle, and share:

photo: Blair Decker via

Anthropomorphism is not new, certainly. But for some reason, this particular meme really nails it. And I'm interested in why this is so. I have had cats in the past, so I'm familiar with that hunch one has that the cat knows more than humans can fathom. The biggest earthquake I've felt in San Francisco freaked my cats out a full thirty seconds before the earth moved perceptibly to me. After nine-eleven, when I was totally freaked out for about a month that the Bush regime was getting ready to screw up the world and besmirch the glory of my beloved country, those cats just sensed that I needed them, and they provided me with oodles and gobs of comfort. And I have a dear friend who hates cats, which I've always believed has something to do with the fact that he's a superior intellect made a bit uncomfortable by that vast unknown connection they seem to have with the oversoul.

For me, the inherent humor in LOLcats is the strange spelling and syntax. It's sort of the opposite of taking a photo of George W. Bush and superimposing the word "genius" over it. Like, right, yeah, these cute little critters who are psychic can't spell.


Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Fashion Footwear for Men on the Take

I read a post on a year ago--maybe two--that made me cringe. While I don't recall what brought the post to my attention, I remember feeling as if someone had just stood atop a mountain and prophesied that the safest way to drive is with your eyes closed. Okay, the topic was men's fashion, so the stakes were not quite that high.

The article was about "The Perfect Casual Look for Spring and Summer" from a guide specializing in men's fashion. There were five must-have items for that perfect look, and one of them was so ridiculous I had to write the "guide" and ask him for clarification if not beg him to retract. When the guide, we'll call him Assclown, failed to respond to my message, I filed away in my head that some day I would have a blog and I would proclaim to the world the disservice he'd done to well-meaning men everywhere with his terrible advice.

Among the list of must-haves were a couple of eyebrow-raising items. Polo shirts! Well there's something I'd never have imagined one would wear in the warmer months. "Premium denim": that's what the kids these days call designer jeans. Sunglasses--move over Men's Vogue 'cause this guy wearing the ridiculous-though-once-trendy hairstyle in his guide photo is a freakin' prodigy! But the one that really got me going:

My Top Picks in Men's Thongs / Flip Flops
I buy a pair of flip flops every spring and I get lots of use out of them. They look great with your favorite pair of jeans and can be worn into the evening on those warm summer nights. Plus, they just look cool and summery.

Flip-flops? As a fashion item? For men? Otherwheres than twixt the dorm room and the gang showers? Surely you jest, oh faux-hawked arbiter of sartorial skill.

Where do I begin to explain why this is terrible advice? Flip-flops on a man, when not paired with a towel or a swimsuit, are simply wrong unless you're carrying garbage to the curb or in the privacy of your own home. Even with all the metrosexual craze going on these days, most men do not have pretty feet. We should never have to see them. The nails are all gnarled and yellow and--well, you've seen it. I'd urge caution whenever wearing any sort of open footwear while in the possession of a Y-chromosome. I have nice feet (as I can see and have been told,) and I'm a sucker for comfort, so I do own sandals. If I had a nickel, though, for every time I've seen a pair of flip-flops on a man and thought, "Someone should tell him we can see his ugly feet," I wouldn't need to have ads on this blog. My sandals, though, are certified street-wear and provide more comfort, support, and coverage for my feet than shower slippers.

[Aside: I'm a man. I have nothing against whatever a woman chooses to put on her foot when she's not jamming it into something stacked and sexy. I feel those women from the Northwestern lacrosse team who showed up to the White House in flip-flop-type shoes might have crossed a line--even though they were going to see George W. Bush, who merits little in the way of panache. Aside from that, I'll leave it to the brilliant vixens over at Go Fug Yourself to weigh in on women's fashion. This is between me and my bros.]

While Assclown thinks they "can be worn into the evening on those warm summer nights" and "just look so cool and summery," I'm inclined to think they can be worn to the laundromat on those warm summer nights and just look so insubstantial and plastic-y. But the real trouble, ugly feet and questionable taste aside: most men can't wear them because they can't keep them on their feet. If I'm standing next to a woman who's wearing flip-flops, I can look down and see lovely, pedicured feet, relieved to be centered on a slim bed of plastic flatness. Replace that woman with a man in flip-flops, and I see a V-shaped collision of grungy plastic on one side, ugly foot heel-to-pavement on the other, with a gnarled mess of toe-jam, nail fungus, and corns in the middle. That is not fashion.

Of course, now that I have had some time to air this festering peeve, I feel a little bit better. I've noticed, for example, that each of the must-have items on the guru's list of five is practically smothered in links to purchase some of these fashion items. Which makes me suspect (though I dare not allege) that Mr. Sunglasses-Are-So-Summer might get a referral fee when his fave styles are purchased via said convenient links. And since these styles range in price from $35 to over $100, I think I can breathe a sigh of relief. It's just the same old spin that sells stuff and keeps those factories in China busy. So, please, men who aspire, don't take that flip-flop thing seriously--just feel smug that you had a hunch about those polo shirts being seasonally appropriate.

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This kid is a superstar!

I've been watching a video on YouTube at least once a day for about a week. It's a young boy who has brilliantly reproduced Beyonce's choreography for the "Irreplaceable" video. (Actually, it doesn't match the video per se, but when you watch this pint-sized performer, you see bootylicious weavetastic Miss Knowles.)

What I like about this video is the way the kid is so talented. I can't move like that and probably never could. I have a friend who's a professional dancer, and he's floored by the kid's chops.

There's an all-out battle in the comments over on YouTube. Some people say the kid's going to be gay because he likes to cover Beyonce. My question: who with so much talent would want to cover Jay-Z instead of Beyonce? You sit in front of music videos for a while and tell me who has better choreography, is more visually interesting. It's prob'ly not a dude.

Plusly, I don't think the kid's particularly effeminate. He looks like a cocky little cute kid who happens to have mastered some of Beyonce's trademark facial expressions and is limber enough to mimic her choreography. I hope that whoever this little guy is, he keeps hanging out with whoever was smart enough to recognize that he's effing brilliant.

Really, there's very little I can say--watch the video and you'll see what I mean.

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Monday, August 20, 2007

He's bringing sexy back?

Justin Timberlake "Huh?"
Originally uploaded by jurvetson

Okay, so, let me get this straight. I can see that Justin Timberlake might be bringing scruffy back. But I've failed to shave regularly since before he needed to. Is it perhaps the sexy that was sucked into a void during his boyband days that he's willing to let return by virtue of having ceased to perm and highlight his hair?

Golf is not sexy. Not shaving is not sexy. You have to be sexy to be sexy. Justin's cute. And the boy can move. But sexy? Not so much.

I know the world takes all kinds of people, and that one man's sexy is another man's wtf. I'm glad to let anyone who cares to say so identify anyone as sexy. Brando, for example, hit such heights of sexy as to have been locked in right up until he drew his last breath; if someone said "I think Marlon Brando is totally sexy in Last Tango in Paris," I'd be okay with it, 'cause that man smoldered back in the day. [Plus, I just looked up some stills from that film, and he was still smokin' hot, though less fresh.]

So, I guess what I mean to say is, "Justin, nobody took sexy away, and it will take more of a man than you to bring it back. Keep bustin' your moves--you're seriously super talented as a dancer. But if I have to hear one more time you proclaiming to the world that you're so sexy you're bringing it back, I'm gonna start shaving more regularly in protest."

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Thursday, August 16, 2007

I Can't Believe I Got This Blog Address!

Okay, blogs have been around for--like--a while now. And they're all pretty much what anyone on earth has to say about anything and everything. So it seems like there would be a bit of a run on simple things like "This Is What I Think" or some such. But here I am in August of 2007 getting the blog address

Un. Be. Lieve. Able.

UPDATE: I'm a ninny. I didn't get that blog addres. I got inmyopinon--no "i" before the -on. A typo has doomed me to have the wrong blog title forevermore. Fitting that a blog being snarky has a typo for a title.