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

Howl
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”

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”