Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Weather Outside is Frightful

It was co-ooold this week. I realize that to yankees reading this, the twenties are reason to wear sandals and wifebeaters, but for Florida, it's cold. Cold enough that I ran around like an asshole covering up plants that will end up dying through my neglect anyway and wondering if I should run the faucets like the news tells me to do.

Since my house was built in the '20s, it offers little in the way of insulation. I probably would have been warmer outside, especially since my heat decided to die over the weekend. I'm too cheap and frightened to buy a space heater, mostly because I feel I've already cheated death with one earlier and I don't want to push my luck.

Back in the mid '90s my roommate Todd and I had a pretty awesome house. I had what was originally the living room as my bedroom, and he had an actual bedroom. It didn't have heat or AC, but I don't remember it getting too hot, mostly because my mattress was in the corner between two windows and there was always a nice breeze coming through. Winter was different, however. The same windows that made summer so pleasant let in a never ending stream of arctic air thorough my sleeping body. So I came up with a solution.

We found a couple of ancient space heaters up in the attic and each took one. These things were almost rusted through with layers of electrical tape wrapped around the cords. They would constantly trip the breakers, requiring us to walk out in the cold to fix it.

Since the heaters didn't have much range, I came up with an ingenious solution. I placed it on a board on top of a milkcrate, aimed the thing at my feet (which were about a foot away, covered in every blanket I owned, all both of them), then went to sleep. To this day, I'm not sure how I managed to not burn the house down with this invention.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Greetings!

The streets were pretty dead today after lunch, I guess most people figured out how to start their Christmas vacation early. But there is a woman walking a few steps ahead of me, and a smattering of bums here and there to add Dickensan Christmas spirit.

"Merry Christmas," shouts out a bum on the corner, presumably to the woman in front of me.

The woman keeps walking.

"That's kind of shitty," I think. "She could have at least given him the head nod or something."

Now the bum's looking at me. "I guess I ought to say something," I think. "He's making eye contact. I guess that failed Merry Christmas also covered me? Alright, here goes..."


Guess that Merry Chrstmas didn't cover me after all.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Reason for the Season

This graphic design association, AIGA, sponsored a toy design and remake ...event for Christmas. Basically you could make a toy or redesign one and put it up for sale. One of my coworkers decided to enter. Instead of making a toy, he decided to remake one. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you "And That's What Christmas is all About, Charlie Brown:"

Here's a view from the top:

You could say it's a meditation on childhood innocence and the evil lurking slightly below the surface or an ironic take on the Norwegian Black Metal church burnings. Or you could just say it was a funny way to mess with Charlie Brown.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Boredom, Boredom

Kids today never have to be bored. What a strange feeling. From what I remember, boredom was an essential part of growing up and taught so much. It taught you to look around you for something to do, to make up lies or invent things to annoy siblings or parents to pass the time. Sort of what I do here, only utlizing the internet. Boredom also taught you how to shut down, to be in a space physically while taking a little nap mentally. This tactic would save my life many times, from soul-deadening jobs to death treks through bead stores.

As a kid I couldn't imagine being able to watch a movie in the back seat of the car while on vacation. Or being able to play a videogame while trudging through the grocery store. Smarter people would insert a sentence here about how these kids are using someone else's imagination and ideas instead developing their own, but I mentally checked out of that last paragraph like two sentences ago.

My parents were like the Wonder Twins of boredom. On their own they frequented some pretty dull places, but together they could form an unstoppable force - the antique store. The thing that killed me about antique stores is there was always a chance of seeing something cool there - swords or old stuffed bear heads or Nazi helmets or ancient artifacts looted from cursed tombs - but it always ended up being me walking through rickety hallways full of glassware and furniture.

Still, antique stores at least gave the illuson of adventure. This was not the case in fabric stores. I have no idea why a big chunk of my childhood seemed to be spent in these horrible places. I don't remember my mom making her own clothes or anything, but man, were they terrible. About the only way to amuse yourself was to look through the big books of Halloween costumes.

"Hmmm...that kid's a tiger. That looks cool."

"That girl looks pretty happy running around dressed like a witch. I think we've actually passed like 3 Halloweens since we got in here."

Since growing up and having to spend more time in fabric stores (I got married) I've noticed something. They always put them in strip malls far, far away from anything remotely cool. There's no saying, "OK Honey, I'll drop you off. Come get me at the fireworks and puppy store next door when you're ready." Nope, they're always next to a discounted bread warehouse or a Food Lion or something.

Sometimes when my Mom got tired of making me walk through fabric stores, it would be my dad's turn. My dad's tactic was a little better, only because his stop had the promise of adventure. Have you ever had to go to a car show as a kid?

"Oh boy! Car show! That sounds awesome! How many cars can we race?"

"You can't drive them. In fact, you can't even touch them. Don't even breathe on them."

"Well, is there anything cool there, like the Batmobile? A car that shoots missles?"

"Nope. There's gonna be nothing like that at all."

Then I'd end up walking around a field for hours, watching the car guys (always guys with white mustaches and baseball caps) glare at me for even thinking of doing anything fun with their cars.

I'd like to say that being bored taught me something, that I gained a rich inner fantasy life, but most of that inner fantasy life I stole from TV. It did teach me the shutdown technique, which has been handy for decades, but if I could go back in time, I would pack a smartphone or portable DVD player in a second. I mean, amusing yourself looking at Halloween costumes kind of loses its charm after hour 3 in the fabric store.