Loving the Funnybooks

Originally published in Justifications on December 10, 2007:

This past Saturday night I was huddled near an electric spaceheater in a makeshift room of a live/work loft in the Vulcan Studios community in Oakland, just off San Leandro. Charlie was clinging to a vanishing pang of nostalgia, something he remembered loving about being a boy… something about growing up and the way things were. Unable to properly recollect the memory, he resorted to a description of a typical day growing up with two brothers and a sister: wake up, fight, read comics, fight… “it was so great.”

He asked me if I read comics growing up. Sherice: “He still does.”

My love affair with comics is similarly rooted in those carefree days of youth. Both of my parents worked when I was growing up, so, during my elementary school years, my grandfather would often pick me up after school and take me to his house in Cow Hollow. At least once a week we would walk down to Chestnut Street – a place decades removed from today’s trendy nightspots and Apple stores – and wander into Jack’s, a magazine and tobacco store between Scott and Pierce. Nonno would set himself up in the back, elbows on the counter, and talk to whom I can only imagine was Jack himself, leaving me at the entryway of the store to peruse the comics racks. Continue reading Loving the Funnybooks

2010 in Books, Part 2: Music Edition

You Never Give Me Your Money: The Beatles After the Break-Up by Peter Dogget

Beatles books have come in phases. First was the “authorized” biography, The Beatles, by Hunter Davies, published all the way back in 1968, before the group had even split. There was a relative lack of written work on the band in the 1970’s. Apparently, many people were hoping that their story as a band wasn’t over, and a reunion would occur. The scant handful of 70’s books seemed to take a sociological approach, focusing on their impact on popular culture. After John Lennon’s murder in 1980 ended reunion hopes for good, the floodgates opened, and Beatle-related books abounded in the 80’s, including a new “definitive” band biography, 1982’s Shout: The Beatles in Their Generation by Philip Norman, the gossipy “insider” tome The Love You Make by former Beatle assisstant Peter Brown, and the first major biographical works on the individual band members (Ray Coleman’s 1985 doorstop Lennon, Chet Flippo’s glib Yesterday.)
The Beatles books of the 90’s and early 2000’s assumed everyone knew the “story of the band,” and tended to be technical, encyclopedic break-downs of their live appearances, recording sessions, and equipment. And now, we’ve come full circle, with the basic story being laid down again, with new research and perspectives, for a new generation. There has been a new band biography, once again entitled simply The Beatles, published by Bob Spitz in 2005, an excellent recent bio of John Lennon by Philip Norman (again) in 2008, and now two new McCartney bios. Continue reading 2010 in Books, Part 2: Music Edition

Gather ’round while I tell a tale of great men…

It’s Man of the Year award season again, and while the also-ran’s are busy preparing for the conclave to determine the 2010 winner, it’s time for the rest of us to look ahead to the potential events for 2011. Man of the Year. MOY. These phrases combined comprise 30% of my daily vocabulary. For the unenlightened, check out some bold words from the co-founders, inaugural year Viceroy, and perpetually disappointed-in-the-rest-of-the-field MOY 2008 champion:

http://www.manoftheyearcompetition.org/about/dfInterview.php

The short of it is, we have right here in the SF Bay Area a year long competition amongst the upper tank of manly men to prove who had the best year. The core of this competition being the individual events. We’ve had some hits like the paintball gun duel and the human corn maze, but in an effort to avoid flops I’m asking you readers to vote on your favorite. I submit mostly my own ideas or overheard gems because the 2011 kick-off banquet and gathering has yet to be held, so prepare for some updates in the near future.

Continue reading Gather ’round while I tell a tale of great men…

2010 in Books, Part 1

Comic books and video games are all very well, but those of us who aren’t terrified of aging — desperately clinging to our skinny jeans, cool scarves, bedhead and taste for juvenalia beyond all propriety and decorum — may want something with a little more heft. So here’s some non-picture books for your consideration. (Full disclosure: There’s usually a little section of pictures in the middle.) Pipe and slippers optional, but recommended.

BOOK OF THE YEAR for 2010:

Washington: A Life by Ron Chernow

Unlike the last noteworthy Washington bio, Joseph J. Ellis‘ brief 2004 His Excellency, Chernow’s work is not a cover-the-basics summary for the casual reader. (Not a criticism. That was the book’s purpose.) Chernow delves into amazingly rich detail, while never losing his grip on the forward momentum of the narrative flow. Interested in Washington’s famous dentures? Chernow provides lengthy paragraphs on not only the materials used in their construction (not wood, you simpletons), but how they affected Washington’s appearance and interactions, and deep background on his relationship with his dentists. (Washington was very ashamed of his dental deficiencies, and the letters to his dentists are in kind of a code language, to spare him embarrassment if his correspondence was ever made public.)
Continue reading 2010 in Books, Part 1

2010 in Video Games

Here are the video games I played in 2010 with mini-reviews.

New Super Mario Bros

Possibly the best four player cooperative game I have ever played. But players have to watch out for each other, or else they will end up bouncing off their team members’ heads and knocking them into pits. The difficulty curve works well, starting easy, but by the end the game is extremely difficult. 5/5

Spelunky


Definitely the best free/downloadable PC game I have ever played.  It’s a run and jump cave exploration platformer with 16 levels, pixely graphics and catchy chip-music.  The cave layout is randomly generated every time and there is a lot to discover.  When you first start playing this game you’re going to die a lot, but the pleasure comes from knowing how to avoid that trap/monster/layout next time. There are a lot of powerups, weapons and useful items you can dig up, purchase or steal from cave-dwelling shop keeps. Originally made by just one guy, an X-Box Indie Arcade version of Spelunky is in the works. 5/5 Continue reading 2010 in Video Games

This Used To Be My Playground, Part 3: Cruising With Mushroom Girl

Having a car meant a number of things, not least of which was not having to bum rides off of Kevin Sevier and his vintage Volvo. Kevin had scored his license during the last quarter of sophomore year, and when he grudgingly granted my request for a daily lift (round-trip), I knew my royal blue Schwinn Neu Citi (“The Ford Edsel of Schwinn 10-Speeds”) was retired forever.

It wasn’t a free ride, by any means. I paid every day in ritual humiliation as Kevin and fellow passenger Rob Lind would slowly approach where I stood outside my parents’ glorified apartment (“townhouse”) then quickly accelerate, forcing me to trot after them, until I got just close enough to reach the back door, at which point the acceleration was repeated, to the delight of all except Your Humble Narrator. If Kevin and Rob got a really early start, they would park the Volvo a block or so away, and crawl into the dense shrubbery that surrounded my domicile, make a few Monty Python-esque yelps of “Ni!” or “Meep!” then dash back to the car with me in hot pursuit. Every so often, they would call my answering machine and fill it with chants of “we hate your speed bumps, we hate your speed bumps, we hate your speed bumps, God, they suck.” (Yes, the interior driveways of my townhouse facility were practically corrugated with speed bumps.)

But I took it. Because all that was still better than riding my bike to school. And I knew my license was coming soon. Continue reading This Used To Be My Playground, Part 3: Cruising With Mushroom Girl

The List Is Imminent!

Other websites and magazines have published their year-end best-of lists already, but faithful members of the Idle Time collective know that these are all just prelude to the real List.

Idle Time’s Favorite Forty has been rouletted and processed.  Egos were bruised and epithets discharged.  But in the end, we produced a list that we’re all pretty proud of.  Before it’s officially published (although internet adventurers with more accomplished navigation abilities than any of us may be able to figure out how to see the list on our site in advance), we’d like all of you to weigh in.

These albums were all chosen by various other media outlets as the Best Album of 2010.  There’s a good chance most of them also appear on our list.  But which of these did you like best?

The artist formerly known as Coach Hastings

I was thinking I’d post my first blog utilizing a few of the great quotes referencing paths, roads, forks, etc. that people are to travel or have already travelled. Oh B.S.! What a cop out. I mean obviously we all go through life-facing choices and challenges, and who knows what good or bad may come of those choices. I’d like to believe it happens as it should.

I’ve been able to do many things in my years, some amounted to stacks of fun, where as others not so much. If I had to choose my favorite occupation of all time, I’d choose two. The first would be, teaching, I enjoyed the teaching gig very much, and worked with some characters (most of which are on staff with this blog). Many great memories and adventures were had. And eventually I will go back to it.

The second of my favorite jobs would most certainly be bartending, or el cantinero as our Spanish-speaking friends would say. A real funtime fulltime adventure. A job where my UC Davis Psych degree came in pretty handy, a job where I was afforded the opportunity to mix and taste a vast collection of libations. It is from this experience I will be posting.

Not So Fast, 2010

In his second installment of This Used To Be My Playground, Uncle Isey comments on the growing pains experienced by the segue period into each new decade.  2010, despite its efforts to kickstart a new era (what’ll we end up calling this? The teens?  The tens?) will undoubtedly still bear many distinctive connections to the aughts. And when not locked in this identity crisis, wavering in our future reflections as the Year Without a Decade, it’ll likely be referenced in the history books for things like a Haitian disaster, Icelandic volcano, and a Mexican Gulf tarring.

Being ever the optimist, however, I have quickly pulled together a list of things for which 2010 will be remembered quite fondly, at least in my mind.  My Top 5 2010 Highlights.

5. Epic Awesomeness at The Movies

There are certain years that bear rather immediate associations with some of my favorite films.  1977, 1994, and 1998, along with whatever else was going on at the time, will always make me think of Star Wars, Pulp Fiction, and Shakespeare in Love. This year we were treated to not one, but two future classics: Edgar Wright’s Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World and Christopher Nolan’s Inception.

Comic books, video games, and rock n’ roll. The only thing that could have made Pilgrim more endearing to me personally would have been folding in baseball and staging it in Sweden. And as much as I enjoyed Bryan Lee O’Malley’s original comics, this film is truly a rare feat: a movie that might actually be better than the source material.

Continue reading Not So Fast, 2010

Am I doing this right?

Hello.

To get the blog ball rolling, I’m just going to repost something from last June that I uploaded to a little underground google group of the same name. This is all new territory to me, but I’ve always felt that the general public needed to be more aware of my daily musings and groundbreaking insights.

Revelations in Traffic [Now with bonus revelation and updates!]

1. A cool haircut is 90% the product of a cool face. The same goes for fashion trends. If enough attractive people start doing the same thing where the masses begin to notice, the fad will catch on regardless of the validity of the thing itself. Eventually enough unattractive people adopt the same trend until it becomes glaringly obvious how stupid it looks. So here’s to the final few months of retro neon 80s sunglasses, folks.
 

2. If you got rid of the tamale husk and reduced the Chicago deep dish style to a more foldable and less overpowerinig thin crust pizza in the taco town taco joke from SNL, you’d have a pretty amazing meal. If I remember, there was: a soft taco, crunchy taco, gordita, pizza, tamale, pancake, crepe, all adhered to each other with cheese, guacamole, refried beans, marinara sauce, and chili. All of those ingredients are thin enough to actually produce a viable wrap. Let’s make that wrap.

[Editor’s note: Done did. see it here:

http://www.manoftheyearcompetition.org/shenanigans/tacoTown.php ]

Continue reading Am I doing this right?