Saturday, March 24, 2007

Too Much Information (About Me)

Hey all,

Like most guys, I think it'd be cool to have a son. Sometimes I think about being a father, how I want to raise my kids and the experiences I want them have. While chatting with my girlfriend the other day, I began detailing to her how the internet is ruining an important rite of passage for growing boys; the joy discovering the beauty of naked women courtesy of Playboy & Penthouse magazines.

When I was a youth, a few of my friends had fathers with Playboy magazines hidden in their closets or under their beds. My friends and I would sneak into their rooms and peek at the magazines, sometimes only pulling up the lower or upper edges of the page with hopes of catching a glimpse of bare flesh and fears of getting caught doing so. I remember one day my friend snuck a Playboy into the woods. I was in awe. The covers of the magazines were sexy and provocative and photos inside were like nothing I'd ever seen before. There was something forbidden and alluring about viewing those pictures. It was a time before I'd ever really thought about sex and never imagined anything beyond kissing a girl.

Sadly, with the advent of the internet, and the ease in which pornography can be accessed, it's just not the same anymore. I do not want my child to discover pornography searching the internet for information on the 'beaver' for his 3rd grade science report. I do not want my future son to discover the beauty of the female body via some triple-x website. Conversing with my child about the naked female form should be a time for father and son to bond, and a moment without the awkwardness of having to explain what a gang bang is. Pornographic websites are about getting off, plain and simple. As a young kid, that was not the object of the looking at the nude women on the glossy magazine pages. It was about curiosity and discovery, not sexual gratification. That's an innocence that, once it is gone, cannot be recaptured. Then again, sex fucking rocks, so no complaints here.

Too Much Information!!
I don't usually talk about my personal life too much in my blogs. Sure, I'll rant and rave about current events and hot button issues, which obviously give a glimpse into the way my mind works (scary, huh?), but you probably won't glean much about my personal life from my blogging. I've decided to change that with this week's blog. Rather than fill out some lame MySpace survey about my current crush or my favorite flavor of ice cream, I've decided simply to jot down 17 random things about me in a feature I'm calling…"17 Random Things About Me." Why 17? Simple. I was born on the seventeenth day of November. That's a free-bee. That doesn't count as one of my random things. Some of these things may come as a surprise, while others may not. Happy reading!

17 Random Things About Me
1. I do not drink alcohol or do drugs. I've had a few clove cigarettes with friends, but nothing otherwise. I'm not trying position myself on any moral high ground. These are the choices I have made and I'm proud of them, though I understand that they're not for everyone.

2. I have a rare liver disorder called Biliary Atresia. It basically means 'the partial or total absence' of bile ducts. I was a jaundiced (yellow) baby, but was very happy and always smiling. When I was six weeks old, I had surgery in which they repaired my bile ducts using my small intestine. It left me with a chance to live and a cool scar! And yes, this directly relates to #1.

3. My favorite ethnic food is sushi. At lunch the other day, my portion of the bill alone was almost $50. This is one area in which I have very little self control. If I won lotto, I would hire a full time on-call sushi chef.

4. I love Three's Company. I own the entire series on DVD. Yes, you can predict most of the jokes and yes, they're often cheesy. But none of that matters when I'm watching John Ritter's hilarious physical comedy and zany antics. Two dates one on night, Jack? Why don't you pawn one girl off on Larry? She thinks you are Larry? Only Jack Tripper…

5. When I was in fourth grade, I won $100 at school for selling the most candy bars for our fundraiser. I spent my winnings on G.I. Joe figures and accessories.
6. I love 80's metal. I grew up hangin' out with guys who were four and five years older than me and they introduced me to the wonderful world of rock n' roll and heavy metal. There will always be a place in my heart for Josh, Chuck, Brett, Ricky, Derek, Matt and the rest of the gang from Woodbury Circle. I remember countless Saturday nights with the radio tuned to WCCC's 'Pirate Radio' program, which broadcasted all the new tunes from bands like Poison, Ratt, Slaughter, Iron Maiden, Guns N' Roses, Enuff Z' Nuff, Warrant, Faster Pussycat, Skid Row, White Lion, Motley Crue, Great White, Whitesnake, Cinderella, Metallica, Megadeth, WASP, Anthrax and tons of others. Then, back when MTV actually gave a shit about music enough to play it, there was Headbanger's Ball, which captivated to me to no end and brought another dimension to my love of all things rock n' roll. Funny enough, of that group of guys, I'm probably the only one who hasn't ditched the hair metal for hip hop. Throw your devil horns in the air and wave 'em like ya just don't care!

7. My favorite comedian is George Carlin. I've seen him perform four times so far, including just a couple of weeks ago in New York. I admire the way he looks at the world. He's a bit cynical, a bit pessimistic, yet there's some optimism there if you look hard enough. He's not afraid to say what's on his mind and he's got a unique way of seeing through the bullshit that I find so incredibly refreshing. He makes me laugh out loud, yet he's so smart and thought provoking.

8. My first rock concert was Live w/ P.J. Harvey and Veruca Salt at the Meadows Music Theater (now known as Dodge Center) in Hartford, CT in 1995.

9. I'm comfortable enough in my masculinity to admit that I've seen Tori Amos in concert four times. My high school girlfriend was a huge fan and got me hooked. I scored front row center seats in 1995.

10. My high school rock band, Radium Therapy, performed its first headlining show on May 12, 1995 at the HK Coffeehouse in Haddam. I was 14! We played a two hour set for friends and family.

11. One of my biggest fears has always been tornadoes. A weather condition that can pick up cars and hurl them through the air into the sides of houses? Pass.

12. I once ate an entire foot long steak n' cheese sub immediately after devouring an entire foot long bologna sub from Subway. That's two feet of sandwich in under an hour. And you know what? I was still kinda hungry.

13. I used to have long hair down to my shoulders. I usually kept it pulled back in a ponytail and as far as I know there are only two (2) pictures in existence of me wearing it down, though I can't seem to locate either of them. I cut my hair short on Feb. 9, 2000.

14. I started playing guitar at about age 9 (5th grade) and began playing the bass guitar in 6th grade. I've been involved music and bands ever since. In 2006, my acoustic group, Championship Vinyl, released our first CD, which is on sale now. I also recorded a solo CD in 2006, which I will gladly send in mp3 format to anyone who wants it.

15. I've always been a bit behind where technology is concerned. I didn't have internet or use email until I was in college. I didn't own a cell phone until after I had graduated college.

16. Two of my biggest pet peeves involve the shower. The first is when a person uses the shower and then turns the shower off by turning only the water off, and not the shower function. So when I go to shower, before I can adjust the water to a temperature of my liking, I'm hit with what is usually very cold water. The second pet peeve of mine is when a person uses the shower before me and doesn't towel off before stepping onto the bathmat and leaves it soaking wet. These people are, in my book, monsters.

17. I have always wanted to live in a warmer climate. By the end of 2007, I hope to relocate to Miami, Florida

Sunday, March 11, 2007

D & G

That's a rape!
Fashion duo Dolce and Gabbana pulled an advertising campaign that depicted a woman lying on the ground with one man arched over her, holding her wrist, as a few other men looked on. While D & G called it an 'erotic dream', critics dubbed this a 'fantasy' rape. Rape. Wow. Now, I realize that there are groups whose jobs it is to be offended by everything, but don't you think you're trivializing rape here? I mean, rape is a horrible and violent act perpetrated on both men and women. I can't help but feel like the emotional impact of the word might be lost a bit if someone calls rape every time a guy exerts, or appears to exert, any kind of power (physical or otherwise) over a woman in an advertisement.

On a personal note, I've heard numerous women say that they like a guy who isn't afraid to take charge and go after what he wants in the bedroom. I don't recall any of those women saying they want to be raped. Despite what National Organization for Women might want you to think, there's a big difference. So let's stop using "rape" as a buzzword to satisfy personal agendas and save it for when it actually means something.
Here's the link to the article for anyone who wants to read an interview with D & G.

Rings a Bell!
This kind of thing gets me thinking back to my graduate student days. During college, I took a couple courses that basically consisted of sitting around, looking at ads, and trying to find ways in which they demeaned women in order to have some debate. And guess what? If you try really hard and take your mind to ridiculous realms of thought, you can pretty much say that any ad that even features a female is offensive. Hint: the girl who used the word 'patriarchal' in the first class of the semester was a sure sign that things were gonna get interesting.

And they did. One class, she comes out with the idea that diamond rings are "rings of oppression." She explained that in the long long ago, men would tie their women up to symbolize that the women were like property. Fast-forward many moons, and now diamond rings are a remaining symbol of a man's ownership over a woman. While I agree that the former is possible, the latter is just pure bullshit. Always the one to try and stir things up, I asked, "So when your boyfriend proposes with a ring, you won't accept it?" She shot back with, "I'm going to marry a musician so he won't be able to afford one," which is a total cop-out response and a thinly veiled attempt not to make a hypocritical ass out of herself.

Try This At Home!
This is for the men. When it comes time to take that next step in your relationship, instead of buying your girlfriend an engagement ring, use the money for a down payment on a house, or perhaps start a savings account for your future child. Explain the reasoning behind not adorning her finger with a diamond. Then see if you can count to ten before she dumps you.

Or better yet, if you're already married, steal your wife's ring and pawn it for cash. Then use that cash to buy something less oppressive, like a flat screen plasma TV or a Playstation 3. Explain it's for the greater good of her gender. I'm willing to bet she says something like, "What stupid cunt told you that?"


Oh, and by the way, men wear wedding rings, too. Ms. Feminist never accounted for that simple, yet vital, fact. Who's oppressing whom? Fucking idiot.

What's a timing belt?
Most of the debate of women's depictions in advertisements center on gender roles and stereotypes. These issues are not limited to the media. Speaking from my experiences, it seems as if certain women appreciate gender stereotypes, but only when not applied to them. For example, a girl expecting me to open the car door or pay for everything on a date is supposedly less sexist than me expecting her to be able to cook or sew. Women want men to have the best of both masculine and feminine traits, but expecting women to have some of those same feminine qualities is somehow sexist and wrong. Some may have the opinion that a guy is less of a man in if he can't fix a car, which seems to be somewhat acceptable, yet if I were to imply that a certain female were any less of a woman because she couldn't cook, then suddenly I'm the asshole.

Come one people, let's get real. Our genders beget certain expectations. It's reality. It's the basis of attraction and of traditional gender roles, many of which are perfectly reasonable and not archaic in the least. It's the reason when I go out, I don't look for the chick with the mullet arm wrestling the bouncer for fun, nor do most girls look for the guy braiding his friend's hair in the corner booth. It's not always right, but it's not always wrong. I'm not into cars, but I don't get offended when an ad depicts an ultra muscular handsome guy as the driver/owner of Brand X car. Everyone benefits from gender stereotypes, yet we all lose out a little, too. There will always be gender roles that you'll fit, while others you may not. There are always gonna be expectations that you'll meet and exceed, while others will always be unrealistic. Most girls are not size zero supermodel types, but most guys don't have six pack abs and bulging biceps. While gender relations are not perfect, the playing field is more level than it's ever been. So let's just all shut the fuck up and enjoy each other for what we are: human beings.