Sunday, November 23, 2014

Manly supplements.

Further to yesterday's post on Fred's manliness:

CVS was having a sale on some vitamins.


Three dollars off; buy one get another half price. Sure, what the hell.

I take a multivitamin daily. I know some dietitians think they're unnecessary, but vitamin deficiency is definitely a danger. It would be best to get all the vitamins from food, but Fred's a busy guy, you know? Besides, this is chewable; that makes it a food, right?

It's hard to feel super manly about a product that includes both "Men's" and "Gummies" in the name.

"Why does everything have to be gummies now?" asked the lovely Mrs. Key.

"Maybe a lot of people have trouble taking pills," I suggested.

"Your vitamins shouldn't stick to your teeth."

"Despite being gummy, they don't stick to your teeth."

I'm a little confused about what to make of this turning-vitamins-into-candy phenomenon too. I can understand it for kids, to get them to take their meds, although we've been teaching kids for decades that medicine is not candy, while we make pills for them (that are dangerous in large doses) into candy. Okay, I'm not going to begrudge parents things that help them get the children to take vitamins, if the parents are very careful. And I enjoyed my Flintstone vitamins way back when. But why do we adults need to bribe ourselves with candy vitamins? (Mrs. Key agrees, although she thinks the inventors of Viactiv were robbed at Nobel time.)

There's a commercial for Bayer's One a Day VitaCraves ChewyBites---brownie vitamins!---that has a grown man dancing around while he hallucinates a party after taking one of these pills. It's like one of those ads for kids that have weird, fantastic things happen when kids eat a particular snack treat or breakfast cereal. Do grown-ups need this kind of enticement?

Maybe. I don't know. I bought the gummies because they were on sale. And I thought they'd taste like candy. But they taste kind of like chewing an old-fashioned little yellow One a Day.

I'm not really your go-to guy with maturity issues.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

People who don't need People.

Damn you, People magazine!

Look, I know I never played Thor, or even Beta Ray Bill, but how could you completely overlook me for your Sexiest Man Alive award AGAIN?

Gaaah!

Are you going to let all this macho manliness go to waste?

Srsly, amiright?

Sheesh.

Well, I guess a writer is never going to be voted the sexiest man alive. I mean, first of all, because no one knows what most of them look like, or that they, you know, exist. And second, because, let's face it, there are reasons that people take up writing, and one of them is not because they are exhibitionists.

And it's not enough to be a butch Hemingway type either. These days I think no man is going to get to be People's SMA unless he has guns like Hulk Hogan in his heyday ("24-inch pythons" I believe they were called). Writers are busy thinking about plot construction, character development, synecdoche, symbolism, and whether you really need to take a shower if you don't absolutely know you are going to leave the house; they don't have time to spend seven hours a day in the gym.

In fact, I don't know how Chris Hemsworth has time to act. Those muscles are going to deflate if you don't pump 'em up every day.

Come to think of it, though, I'm not sure how these SMAs come about anyhow. Think about the guys you knew who were big into acting in high school. Were they towering masses of muscles and testosterone? Not in my school, I can tell you that. And don't blame me for bringing down the averages; I was with the literary mag, not the theater group.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Ports authority.

Was passing through the wonderful Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan the other day---really, if you like brown, you must come see it---and noticed a new addition to the decor:


Yep, a stand-up recharging station for your various electronic devices.

At first I thought this was a stupendous idea. Then it got downgraded to a merely good idea the more I thought about it. It's a little strange, which is like everything else in the PABT. My thoughts went like this:

Like most places built before 2010, the PABT only has whatever electrical outlets are needed for its maintenance staff. Now that everyone has some kind of rechargable phone and/or tablet, people are often seen in public buildings sitting on the floor like bums next to an electrical outlet that for decades was only used to power a vacuum cleaner and a floor buffer. People in nice business suits are sitting on newspapers so they can be by their phone (which only has a short power cord) while it's charging. Now that the weather is cold, the bums are moving back in, and there may be fights over floor space.

In walks the dedicated recharging station! Or rather, in walk the electricians to install it. It's a nice gesture for the customers; you're not paying for the electricity, at least not directly. I guess it does cut down on the reasons to punch someone, so it's worth it on that score.

On this recharging station you'll note the plugs are way up there, so you can't lay your device on the floor while it is charging, just on the little table. You'll have to stand. It's too small for a lot of leaning. There's a foot rail, which is a bit helpful, but no seating. If there were seats they would have a bum in them.

The problem is that most devices take between half an hour and for-freaking-ever to get fully charged, so this will have to be a fast stop. I envision the guy whose phone has croaked; he needs to keep the thing juiced up just long enough to call or text home to let them know his bus is delayed (again). For him this is a straight-up lifesaver.

For those whose bus is not leaving for half an hour, this is an annoying place to stand while you wait.

There's still a crummy bar or two in the PABT. While on your visit to see the highlights of the world's biggest and busiest bus station, stop in a crummy bar and ask the bartender if you can use an electrical outlet while you sip your dry martini. That might work out better, although you might miss your bus.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Move on, Movember.

Further to Sunday’s rant about charitable organizations: I’m not unsympathetic to the aims of the Movember movement, a movement designed to raise awareness of men’s health issues by encouraging men to grow a mustache for the month of November. Like, maybe the sight of all those lip caterpillars will encourage some dummy to make that appointment for that colonoscopy. I have no idea. But I am a man, and I have a certain amount of health, so men’s health issues are issues of mine.
 
I’m not wild about awareness raising. It’s been going on so long by so many people in so many ways that my awareness is about as raised as it can get. If it gets any higher I will lose contact with it altogether. Then I guess I will be unconscious.
 
But worse is my secret sorrow,* my woeful confession that tears my soul and makes me withdraw silently from participation in the jolly japes of Movember:
 
I grow a lousy mustache.
 
The Movember guys want us to grow a mustache for the thirty days of November as a means of raising awareness and sparking conversations. But it's futile. It would take more than thirty days for my mustache to become detectable with the unaided eye.
 
A pity, too, as we may be heading into a mustache Renaissance in which I cannot participate. Early American males were clean-shaven, emulating Ancient Rome, I suppose; in the next century all hirsute hell broke loose. Then we returned to an era of the naked face. Now we're deep in Beard Country, but it may lead to an invasion of the body 'stachers.
 
Should I give it another go? It's a tough call. It's like getting a tattoo, because it's not enough to just decide to get one; you also have to select the one you want.



Then again, maybe some faces just are not meant for mustaches.


*Not so secret, since I’ve admitted it before: “I don’t think I ever tried to grow one without the accompanying beard. My face is a bad neighborhood, and no mustache would want to go into it alone. Maybe when I was a teenager; some teenage boys grow mustaches for months on end and no one ever notices. I had that peachfuzz thing going on too." Read more about the decline of the American mustache here.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Indiana Bat vs. Tuxedo Anti-Gamblers.

A bat is standing between the town that gave the world the tuxedo and casino gambling. And that's how the town likes it.

It's complicated.

In a nutshell: Voters in New York last year approved a casino bill, allowing for casinos to be built in the state. Voters may have been thinking it would be great to revitalize the many crappy areas, like the old Borscht Belt---but these voters have apparently never seen a real casino and its environs. Even if the casinos, which invariably can maintain peace only with the most thuggish means, is not itself a cesspool, the area around it is. Or it will be. Add to that the fact that we're so overloaded with gambling in the northeast that four of 12 Atlantic City casinos have gone bust this year, with more on the way. No American community I have ever seen was made happier with casino gambling.

Tuxedo seems to feel the same way.

Tuxedo is a town, and it contains Tuxedo Park, which itself is not a town so much as an enclave, and an enclave of people with lots of dough at that. It has been that way since even before the railroads started running north of the city. The Lorillard family built a castle there on tobacco wealth. Griswold, one of the later Lorillards, started the fad in 1886 for the new men's dinner jacket named for the town that later swept the world.

Tuxedo Park is still loaded with people who are loaded, and they do not want to host a scummy casino full of people in sweatpants playing nickel slots. A Malaysian resort company named Genting wants exactly that. Maybe they intend to do something more high class, but it's like running a liquor store in a city---you want a twee little place with wine or artisinal vodka tastings, but to make ends meet you sell Night Train Express and Wild Irish Rose. It's all booze in the end, right?

Well, this little dude wants to put a stop to it.

Indiana Bat; photo thanks to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
He doesn't actually care, but he is an endangered species and he is in the area, and foes of the casino have latched on to the plight of the Indiana Bat as a means of stopping the casino from being built. They may really care about the bat, or some of them may, but I think it's a case of: when you got to beat a dog, any stick will do. Even a bat.

And that's what environmentalism has become in this country now---nothing but a means of stopping some people from doing what other people don't want them to do.

As you can gather, I'm not a fan of casinos. Of course I live nowhere near Tuxedo---I'm no tobacco millionaire---but I don't want a casino there or any closer than that to me. But it makes me uncomfortable to see the way care for the environment has become nothing more than a means of forcing some people to conform to the will of others in the land of the free. One could easily begin to wonder if environmentalism ever meant anything other than forcing other people to do what you want.

Well, go get 'em, Indiana Bat, I guess. I don't like the bugs you eat and I don't much care for the casinos you prevent. Just stay away from my attic and we'll be fine.