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Friday, April 21, 2017

47 Trips Around the Sun: Five Things I'm Sure About


1. Comedians With Guitars


Hey Demitri, Birbigs, that guy, and that other guy. You know who you are. So, I've given it literally dozens of chances, but I'm afraid it's a no from me, dawg. I love your acts, but at the end, when you reach for that guitar, my brain goes, "Noooooooo!" I think the trick is that the acts who present as "musical with a comedic edge" like Tenacious D or Weird Al ‒ those actually do work. But you're a stand-up comedian. That's your core competence. So when you do a whole set, you get us to go along with your narrative, we're digging your stories, your cadence, your timing. Then you pick up that guitar, and everything grinds to a halt. I'm talking smoking skidmarks. Why the guitar? A minute ago, you had us, and now, you're just telling micro-stories in a distractingly stilted manner, while you accompany yourself strumming that same little run, over and over again, and then sometimes, for no discernible artistic reason, you just carol out a random word. It makes me want to punch all the arpeggiated chords in the world. I'm not saying I won't still like you. I'm only suggesting that I'm probably not the only fan of yours who is fast-forwarding through that part of your comedy special.

2. In-One-Jar Foods


It never works. It just doesn't. That peanut butter and jelly in one jar, for example, ends up being a bland, pasty concoction that serves well neither the peanut butter nor the jelly. It doesn't even "spread." It lumps. Mashed between two pieces of white bread, you get a gag-inducingly loathsome sandwich that somehow manages to be both dry and slimy at the same time. Not to mention, why mess with what's possibly the world's best sandwich, the classic PBJ? Two jars.

3. High Heels



I tried, guys. For years, I tried. But I'm out. I can't walk in the damn things. In fact, I recently gave away a super cute pair of red Fluevogs to a friend, after gazing dolefully at the box in my closet for, oh, about seven years. Here's the story on those Fluevogs: I bought them because, as you may know, Fluevogs are rather pricey and these babies were an unbelievably good deal on Amazon. I'm a simple gal, but I look at Fluevog shoes the way your dog looks at you when you're having a cheeseburger. I loved them...and they hurt my feet so much. So much. I kept them anyway, all this time. I would tell myself that they're not THAT uncomfortable, that they don't pinch me across the instep THAT much. Occasionally, just to check and see if my feet had magically changed shape, I'd take the Fluevies out of their box for one teetering, crampy mince around the apartment. No. Then back into the box they'd go. As luck would have it, I have a pal whose little feet fit so nicely inside Fluevies, so finally, I brought them to her. They have a good home now, with feet who love them back. And with that comes the end of my attempts to ever be a high-heels wearing woman. On my "to do" list for this summer is a project to photograph and sell all the rest of my barely-worn collection of high heels on ebay. In the end, I'm just a Doc Martens gal making her way in a Fluevog world.

4. Cheap Candy


It was hot in those masks.
Christmas, Halloween and Easter, the trifecta of candy-bountiful holidays, each one circled in crayon on the calendar of the kid year. Especially Halloween, when we'd take our pillow cases door-to-door, sweating and barely able to breathe in those flammable onesie costumes with the plastic masks strapped to our faces with a bit of elastic that would break after about ten minutes. We'd intone "Trick or Treeeeeeet" in unison at every door, delighting in the growing heft of our loot. We'd get home and overturn our bags on the floor, making two or three treasure piles based on our own personal ranking system. My brother only had two piles, one good and one bad. I had three piles. Into my "thanks for coming" pile went all the worst ones. Smarties, Necco Wafers, Good N Plenty. Anything licorice, sour or gummy. Into my second pile went any fruity or chewy candy, like Bit O'Honey, Laffy Taffy or Starburst -- enjoyable but  not my first choice. My first choices went into the good pile: all the chocolate. Glorious, life affirming chocolate. Hershey bars, Clark bars, Reese's, Chunky, the short-lived Reggie Bar -- which were delicious. Even Snickers and Three Musketeers, but everyone knows those nougat-based poseurs were pushing it. Oh, childhood. Even teenage-hood ‒ into college, even, drug store junk candy was still a real treat. My then-boyfriend, Hub, would set about devouring a whole bag of candy corn, even when acknowledging,"I'm going to be sick." Alas, with each passing year, the window of joy inevitably closes on these brightly-packaged, impossibly-hued factory confections. Did the candy change, or did we change? I think it's us, dear Gen X. If you're about my age, have you tasted Hershey's lately? Because now, those formerly treasured Hershey bars have the same taste & texture to my mouth as those wax lips I used to toss into the "thanks for coming" pile. The cheap brown "chocolate" in the candy aisle at the CVS is "chocolate" in the same way that Donald Trump is "presidential." Now I know what my mom meant when she, a known fiend for chocolate, used to say "nah" to all that candy we plundered every Halloween. She'd say "it's not worth it." Not worth the calories, she meant, or the sick feeling. If you're gonna have chocolate, have real chocolate, she meant. Right again, mom.

5. Hollywood Remakes, Reboots & Adaptations


It used to be that whenever Hollywood churned out a new version of another old favorite, I'd roll my eyes and raise my skinny fist to the sky. "Are there no new ideas?" I'd lament, envisioning stacks of unopened scripts and treatments that have been bottom-drawered, worlds of brilliant stories left untold within reams of unread pages, all because some "expert" deemed these movies un-make-able, while they go ahead and make yet another Batman. But I've decided that the general idea of remakes, reboots & adaptations is not, on merit, unilaterally terrible. West Side Story is Romeo and Juliet. The Steve Martin movie A Simple Twist of Fate is George Eliot's Silas Marner. Hitchcock's psychological thriller Rope, famous for its single-shot camera work, is not only a send-up of the story in Edgar Allen Poe's The Tell-Tale Heart, but Rope itself has been retold a bunch of times. There was even a pretty cool take on its major theme (getting away with the perfect murder) in a Sandra Bullock movie called Murder by Numbers. In the case of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the Johnny Depp edition actually helped me reach this newfound peace with remakes, reboots & adaptations. To be clear, my lifelong adoration of the original 1971 musical will never lose intensity! There will only ever be one Gene Wilder, my first crush, my purple-velvet darling. I will watch that movie whenever it's on, through to the end, singing every song. Having said that, the Johnny Depp version does stick a lot closer to the text of the original book, and I truly adore the Roald Dahl story. The Gene Wilder movie follows the text quite loosely, but every point where it departs from the text make for some of the best moments, not only of the movie but best moments of my childhood. My new philosophy is that I don't mind when creatives re-tell the same story using completely different tools. Because what else is the whole of art and literature but an infinity mirror? All kinds of artists tell all kinds of timeless stories, about people, and those tales get told and re-told through generations. Each re-telling shouldn't detract from any previous versions. Every Icarus that flies too close to the sun, every Cinderella, every Beauty and every Beast finds its own new audience, and I'm okay with that. I mean, you know. For now. 🍰

Related: 47 Trips Around the Sun: An Observed Life

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