Sunday, May 27, 2012

Pet Peeve: The Duct Tape Lie [VIDEO]



I grew up around Duct Tape. I'm from a small town and watched a lot of Red Green so I learned at a young age that almost every household problem can be solved with Duct tape. That's why I've known all my life that placing a strip of tape over someone's mouth will have little to no effect at stopping them from speaking.

And yet movie after movie and tv show after tv show uses this trope incessantly, often basing their plots around it. From Mission: Impossible to 24 to even Once Upon A Time during their season finale. Simply put: It. Does. Not. Work. But why tell you when I can show you. Watch the video.

(read more after the jump)


It's no knock against Duct Tape. The stuff has saved my life at least twice and in Jr. High my wallet and the suit I wore to the halloween dance were made out of it. That last one was a very bad idea, not only is Duct Tape not a flexible or breathable material, it has a very distinct smell that can become overpowering when you're covered head to toe in it. Whoulda Thunk?

So, for leaky pipes, a makeshift sling or a wobbly table leg: use Duct Tape. If, however, you're a villain/psychopath/terrorist and need to keep someone quiet I would suggest the butt end of a gun or, you know,  a bullet (I'm old school like that.)

Monday, May 14, 2012

A Quarter Century: To All The Girls I've Loved Before

I've been putting this post off but I had to get around to it eventually. Every post is better with pictures, and yet I have to assume most of these women would prefer to never have been associated with me.

Then I remembered: They're married and happy while I'm Los Lonely Ben. Who cares what they think?

Relative Youth and Inexperience

Like any growing boy, there were girls all throughout grade school whose hair I pulled and whose cooties I coveted. But for all realistic purposes the list doesn't begin until I was 14 and met Jency.

There are two women that I compare every female to, Jency is one of them. Since our budding romance took place before digital cameras, the iPod and Snuggies I have no photographs but of all the women who have torn my heart to pieces, Jency is the most beautiful. She was everything a geeky 14/15 year-old with acne could dream of: funny, smart, outdoorsy, artistic, stunningly-beautiful. In our awkward adolescence we weren't really old enough to "date" so we just spent a lot of purgatory-esque quality time together where I wondered "what we were" and she just sat there being beautiful. The ambiguity tormented me.

I got frustrated, angry even. I remember I told her that I was "done with whatever this is" on the school bus back from a basketball game. If I remember right she cried and If I remember right I felt powerful and vindicated as a result. I rebounded by "going out" with Megan, the punky-alternative girl whose father had been charged with vehicular manslaughter. Megan was my first kiss, on the floor at her house while our friends watched The Rocky Horror Picture Show. My first kiss -- like so many others in my life -- was the wrong girl, and it haunts me still today.

High School

At Weber High I mostly struck out for 3 years. My Jr. year I met Kristen. She was punky and alternative (I had a thing back then) and she was a swimmer. We both liked Dashboard, back when it was OK to like Dashboard. I took her to the homecoming dance for our first date. By the time I got back to school on Monday she was mad at me for reasons I still can't explain so a few days later we had a big, public snafu at a football game and that, as they say, was that.

We didn't talk for a year and when I ran for SBO she got her swimmers to stage an "A Vote for Ben is a Vote for Communism" campaign. Oddly enough, after I lost that election I went through a personality crisis and became a better person, and Kristen and I subsequently became friends again (one of the few women of my past I can call a friend.)

From there I had a series of romantic failures. I was in love with Hot-Sexy-Haley for 3 years but she didn't want anything to do with me. I even asked her to Prom and she turned me down. I was in love with Kathryn for 2 years, but she didn't want anything to do with me. I was in love with two different Kelsey's for one year. Kelsey 1 was perpetually mistreated/breaking up with/getting back together with my friend Tyson while I watched, longingly, from the sidelines. Kelsey 2 smelled like soup and cried when I asked her to Prom because she wanted to go with someone else. We were Prom royalty together. She talked during movies.

Which brings me to Camille. She was blond, blue-eyed, leggy and we were two hormonal teenagers who couldn't keep our hands off each other.

Camille was my first "girlfriend" even though I never actually used that word. We dated something like 7 different times over the course of a year and a half, which believe me is SO healthy. One time when we broke up she let the air out of my tires. She always felt like I was only dating her because her friends had turned me down. Really, I was dating her because of how great she looked in tight jeans. When I moved away to college she showed up unexpectedly at my doorstep a couple of times. Her parents walked in on us making out constantly. We broke up in person, we broke up on the phone, we broke up over email. The final breakup occurred over MySpace.

Hopeless Romanticism

Years 21 through 23 were a perfect blend of when I was beginning to have emotional maturity but hadn't yet become jaded by a steady stream of disappointment by the opposite sex.
First there was Merry, named for her Dec. 25 birthday. She was awesome. She loved movies. She was brunette. BUT she lived in Boise. Idaho.

 I made a few attempts at the god-forsaken 4-hour drive between but it was doomed. My friend Ben married her friend Natalie and for 3 days I lived in Idaho and everything was perfect. Then I returned my Tuxedo, drove home and, except for a few well-intentioned phone calls, lost complete contact with her. Complete. I hope she's doing ok. We had great baklava once.

And then, there was Katie. We worked together at the bakery. She wore hippie skirts and peace-sign jewelry and sang along to terrible folk music. She was adorable. She had just broken off an engagement and swore off men so I pursued her relentlessly until she succumbed to my advances. Things were great for 2 months and then she went to Chile.

When she got back, she didn't want to date me. I hated her for 6 months and chased a string of younger women out of spite. Then, one December night, we decided to be friends. The next day we were dating again. Things were great for 4 months and then my fear of commitment reared its head and we broke up.

We remained friends. I went through The Dark Times and she was a trusted confidante. Then, one December night we started dating again. Things were great for 2 months and then she moved to Norway. She's still there.

I have a tendency to date girls multiple times. I don't trust any relationship that hasn't ended at least once.

I told you earlier there's 2 girls I compare everyone to. Katie's number 2.

The Dark Times

We don't talk about The Dark Times.

The Jerk Store called, they're running out of me

I've been a jerk before. I have a tendency to become smitten at the drop of a hat, rush into a relationship and realize after a couple of days that I'm actually not compatible with the person at all. Such was the case with Cami. I met her on a Saturday, took her out the next Saturday, we were inseparable for exactly 14 days and then I told her I wanted to "slow things down" and walked away. I'd post a picture if we had dated long enough to take one.

At other times, I've been the jerk who drops a girl like 3rd period French to get back with an ex. These sting especially because I left them both for The Dark Times, and because I really wish I hadn't.

First there was Jenny. She was my neighbor, she was beautiful, shy and totally awesome. It took 7 months before she would come out of her room and hang out with the gang. My friend Tyler was in love with her and like a gentleman I asked his permission to ask her out. Things were going well, we went to California together and spent the whole time pretending NOT to be flirting with each other and then, just as things were about to really happen, I gave her the cold shoulder to go dig my own grave. In my own defense, Tyler asked me to back off and, like a gentleman, I used that excuse as justification for leaving her hanging with no explanation whatsoever.

Amanda was a little different. We actually dated for about a month before I inexplicably broke of all contact with her and started running around with another girl. To be fair though, when she moved home for the summer semester we agreed to not be "exclusive." Yeah, I'm a monster.

Amanda was a freaking bombshell, the smoking-hot red-headed dynamo that I'd always dreamed of dating. She had great bone structure, which my children will desperately need. She was a picky eater though, and was way too obsessed with Big Bang Theory. Then, when I was feeling on the fence, she forced me to watch She's The Man. Game over. Plus, I may or may not have tried to date her older sister once. I'd post a picture, but they all seem to have been deleted from Facebook -- I'm sure that's just a fluke.

She got married recently. She posted her engagement pictures on Facebook and looked phenomenal. When I saw them I spent the better part of an afternoon verbally abusing myself.

Amanda and Jenni, if you're reading this I want you both to know that I'm sorry for how I treated you and that I'm overwhelmingly jealous of your husbands.

Recency

I wasn't going to write this section, but then I remember that I'm a journalist and I don't hide from the truth. HUZZAH! For the most part, the last year's romances (pronounced Ro-maaahhhn-ses) have been pointless casual flings. For example, my dear friend Anna and I spent some time in a grey area between heated political debates (for some reason I date a lot of uber-liberal feminists). She's completely ridiculous and knows it, whereas I'm a pompous A** and I know it. Between the two of us we licked the platter of non-committal dalliance clean. She lives in D.C. now and in all likelihood I'll never see her again. Good Riddance! (She knows I don't mean that).

In a similar vein, there was also Allison during my sojourn in New York City. Another uber-liberal feminist. I convinced her to read Atlas Shrugged and she blocked her mind against it like Professor X did to Jean Grey. Whenever we would talk politics she would make this funny frustrated face when I cornered her into accepting facets of a Conservative viewpoint as logical, like how spending money that doesn't exist isn't sound financial policy.


Allison is the one on the right of this picture. Conveniently, Natasha is the Brunette on the left so this picture pulls double duty. Tash was my last college girlfriend. We dated in May and June, then broke up when she moved to New York in July. When I moved to New York in September we decided to be friends. Yadda yadda yadda she may or may not have told people we were getting married and may or may not have woke up one day convinced that I was dead. I wasn't. At least I don't think I was. If I'm dead then it's pretty ridiculous how bad my allergies have been lately.

That's a wrap

There were others of course, many of whom deserve their own paragraphs: Amy, who the timing was always off with; Melissa, who I didn't fully appreciate until she got her braces off (but by then it was too late); The Dark Times, who can die a violent death for all I care (I don't mean that...I might mean that); The Divorcee, who I'm currently in love with but am also confident has only marginal knowledge that I even exist. Not to mention a steady string of string of near-misses, outright failures and at least one girl whose name I can't remember. Becky? Becca?

Each of them has helped meld me into the man that I am today –– A bitter, cynical, depressive, high-functioning introvert with mild agoraphobic tendencies.

All's fair.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Movie Review: The Avengers





Considering how The Avengers just posted a record-shattering $200+ million opening weekend, this review is likely irrelevant. You, like every other American, have probably already seen the movie.

You already know, for instance, that writer/director/fanboy-extraordinaire Joss Whedon seamlessly blended heart-pumping action, side-splitting comedy and tear-inducing tragedy into a thrill ride of dazzling imagery.

You already know that the pace never lagged for a minute, while the story jumped around the world reuniting some of comic book lore's and hollywood's largest properties.

You saw for yourself the deft maneuvering as 4 different film franchises were sewn together to create a fifth, giving each character their due while still introducing new faces.

You witnessed the superb performance of Tom Hiddleston as the shakespearean tragic Demi-god villain Loki, as he turned in a performance that was both riveting and fragile that in other, lesser hands would have resulted in pure camp.

You watched as Whedon's script was both satisfying to hard-core fans and accessible to everyday moviegoers.

You chuckled, or perhaps guffawed, at the brilliant doses of hilarity that were inserted with a master's touch into the non-stop action and rapid-fire dialogue between the competing A-list bravura.

You imagined, within yourself, Michael Bay crying in a corner moaning "How? How does this virtually unknown director with a TV pedigree achieve so easily what I have pursued for my entire career?"

You saw Mark Ruffalo charmingly take over duties as The Incredible Hulk with equal parts class and calculation and, despite your own preconceptions, watched as the big green mass became one of the most enjoyable parts of the already delicious film.

You giggled, like a spoiled school-girl, as the team assembled and battled an invading alien force in Manhattan, complimenting each other's powers in an endless grab bag of superhero-combinations.

You also giggled, like a spoiled school-girl, as the "who would win between..." arguments you wasted so many hours debating as a child (read: adult) played out in front of your eyes on the big screen.

So, since you've already seen it, since you already know everything I would tell you, let me merely add my voice to the countless others that have already sung their praise. The Avengers blew my mind in a way that I have not experienced since I was 6 years old watching Jurassic Park for the first time. It is Popcorn Entertainment at it's best, a marriage of sheer mind-numbing spectacle and creative storytelling.

To Joss Whedon, who already had me at Firefly, I say, Thank You. A

Friday, May 4, 2012

One Wood Uke: Landslide

Why do I keep posting these videos? It’s for the Uke, really.

I’m “homely” at best by my Uke is freaking sexy and since I live alone and am not prone to receive many callers, it doesn’t get the recognition it deserves.

I had actually meant to film “Landslide” a while ago but I woke up one day with some of the worst blisters I’ve ever had in my life, which made the slap strum excruciatingly painful. Who knew Ukelele music was such a contact sport!

Sadly, my mother/accompanist Susan wasn’t available for backup on this one. One of these days I’ll have to film a video with my dad playing his goofy washboard. Now THAT is something that begs to be seen.