Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Alpha Male Update!

Have you ever thought to yourself, “Y’know, self, that damn pope is just too damn liberal.”? How ‘bout Pat Robertson?... Now there’s a guy who could toughen up a bit. At least he’s not a sissy, though, like that pansy, peace loving hippy, Jesus.

REAL men know the truth… if you want the Almighty’s will to be done, you need a real straight shooter - someone with a 70’s porn star mustache on his face, a top-notch toupee under his ten-gallon hat, and a round-house kick powerful enough to knock Richard Dawkins straight on back to the stone age, where he’ll see once and for all that marriage means one caveman / one cavewoman, and a steady diet of fresh, hot bronto-burgers for all.
At long last, Norris: Texas Ranger - star of Cannon Films classics like “Hero and the Terror” and “Missing in Action 2: Still Missing” and all round alpha male extraordinaire has finally stepped forward to choose His candidate from the exciting field of Republican contenders.

Chuck Almighty has granted His divine province to Republican Mike Huckabee, in order to help the candidate do battle with the Democrat’s cold-chance-in-hell contender, Satan’s magik imp, Dennis Kucinich.

Asked for comment, Kucinich repeated the famous incantation from his book “The energy of the stars becomes us. We become the energy of the stars. Stardust and spirit unite and we begin: one with the universe; whole and holy; from one source, endless creative energy, bursting forth, kinetic, elemental” at which point, rainbows shot from his nose.

Dennis Kucinich at a recent campaign stop.

Norris is the second major religious figure to announce their support for a candidate. Last week, the goddess Kali vowed to support Tom Tancredo, so long as the Colorado Republican continues to sacrifice brown people in Her name.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Alpha Male Wednesday!

For the first entry in my “Alpha Male Wednesday” series, I’ve chosen “Brand of the Werewolf” by Lester Dent - featuring Doc Savage – Man of Bronze. I picked this novel up at Half Priced Books, a labyrinthine temple of the written word located in downtown Engleweird; past the Gothic Theater and the paranoid-survivalist outlet store, just around the corner from the creepy Catholic Supply Shop that looks like Sissy Spacek’s living room in “Carrie”. If Mayor Hickenlooper’s office ever chooses Robert E. Howard’s Conan stories for its “One Book, One Denver” program, this would be a good place to find it cheap.

The story begins with Doc Savage and company on a north bound train, headed for some R and R on a nature reserve belonging to Docs’ uncle. En route, the man of bronze receives a telegram from his uncle, stating emphatically that he and his friends are not welcome, making Doc suspicious that there may be trouble afoot.

Why this is the case is anyone’s guess; the man of bronze states that he’s never met this uncle, and he’s headed to his home without ever having heard back that it was okay to do so. It never occurs to Doc, for even a second, why his uncle may be just a little dubious at the prospect of having six well-muscled single men crashing in his rumpus room, eating all his Doritos. Did I mention the reserve is in Canada?

Now, I have to admit, once I committed myself to reviewing these testosterone-laden books, I became concerned that they would appeal, perhaps, to a more conservative audience. Alas, I had nothing to worry about; Doc and his gang (referred to, affectionately, as The FABULOUS Five) are gayer than Senator Larry Craig’s porn collection. His compatriots (represented here with the help of a quick Google Image Search) include:

“Renny” Renwick! – Construction Engineer. Dent continually mentions Renny’s ability to smash in doors with his “enormous hands” (and you know what THAT means…)

“Monk” Mayfair! – Industrial chemist, nicknamed for his simian appearance - the group’s resident bear/daddy.

“Ham” Brooks!
– Lawyer and token metrosexual – the requisite ladies man, but possibly bi. He carries a CANE, for crissakes.

(ahem) “Long Tom”! – Electrical engineer and… uh, he’s long. Yeah, that’s about it.

"Johnny" Littlejohn! – Archeologist. He and Long Tom are like the red-shirts on Star Trek, except they never die. You’d think Doc would want to round out the team with a weapons expert, maybe a judo master or something; but… whatever.

Together, they are a crack team of globe-trotting do-gooders, like the special-ops division of the HRC.

Also on the train are Corto Ovejo, his daughter Cere and a “swarthy” man named El Rabanos, who is continually referred to throughout the book as being “girl-faced”; so - while it’s meant to be a mystery - it’s pretty clear he’s the villain. (Again, that would be misogyny, not homophobia, on Dent’s part). If that didn’t tip you off on who the antagonist is, whoever did the copy on the back cover wrote “Stalking them every inch of the way is the archfiend, El Rabanos…” so the mystery is about as thin as “Who is Darth Sideous?” in the Star Wars prequel trilogy.

Cere and her father are on the run from baddies who want to learn the Ovejo family's secret - involving a pirate ship, a hidden treasure, and an ivory cube that holds a map that will lead to both. You know, your typical, run-of-the-mill family skeleton type stuff. To keep the family at arms distance from Doc and company, El Rabanos convinces his traveling companions that the Queer Eye for the Straight Guy gang is trying to kill them.

Not having read the back cover, the Ovejos take El Rabanos at his word, in spite of (or perhaps, because of) Cere’s attraction to Doc. Doc is the prime suspect when the train conductor turns up dead, the image of a werewolf engraved on the victim’s door.

*Spoiler Alert!* or maybe, more appropriately, *Disclaimer!* … at no point does Doc Savage actually go mano e lupine with the werewolf represented on the cover. It’s mentioned more than once in the book that Doc Savage is not a super-human, but a man trained to the peak of mental and physical perfection (which probably speaks to the fact that supernatural skeptic Harry Houdini still captured much of popular imagination at the time of publication) so his adventures aren’t generally of the occult. And hey, the “let’s scare ‘em off with an obscure local legend” thing always got a pass from me on Scooby Doo. But really, the whole werewolf thing in the book is less a red herring, and more just a non-entity; it would be like calling Raiders of the Lost Ark, “Indiana Jones and the Girl With ‘Love You’ Written on her Eyelids”.

Anyway. Doc’s uncle has been murdered prior to the start of the book, because he was in possession of the aforementioned ivory cube. Doc’s cousin Pat ("It’s Pat!”), and her big fat Native American maid (who, like her “half-breed” husband, is treated here with such pathos, sympathy, and dignity, let me assure you) are kidnapped by the bad guys - which of course is a recipe for much high adventure and swashing of buckles.

The main female characters, Pat and Cere, are both described as “beautiful”. Of course, for Pat, that’s coming from the FABULOUS Five, so I’m guessing a few extra pounds and a page-boy hair cut. I concur: hot. Cere at one point attempts to seduce Doc with her feminine charms, and of course, we get the usual story about how Doc remains chaste, to protect potential mates from his enemies. Which is what Senator Craig says when his wife starts hinting around about a Hello, Kitty make-out party. Really! She said so on the Matt Lauer interview.

The climax of the book involves a hidden, booby-trapped pirate ship – if you’ve seen The Goonies, you pretty much know how that goes. Just no Sloth, and they don’t get to keep the treasure… they hand it over to a museum instead. Because Doc Savage is bigger than than anyone else on his team. And if you don’t do the honest, honorable thing while in Doc's employ, he will "Man-of-Bronze" your ass.


So, what did I learn from this book about being an alpha male?

I learned that the alpha male is not born that way. No, the alpha male is forged, from birth; raised from the cradle by his stern, taskmaster parents to become a world-class righter-of-wrongs. He is molded by a two-hour daily mental and physical exercise program; a regime that would cause a lesser man to curl up on the floor in a puddle of his own urine. His skin is baked (some would even say, “bronzed”) by the scorching sun he’s encountered during his travels throughout the exotic jungles and rain forests of the world.

Of course, requiring that sort of pedigree is bad news for the aspiring alpha males out there who were raised on a steady diet of grilled cheese sandwiches and “Thundarr, the Barbarian” cartoons.

But, hey, what are you gonna do? After all, somebody has to write these blog entries.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Whoop-Ass by the 12 Pack

I have a story in next week’s A.V. Club called “Around the World at a Mile High” (unless the editor changes that… he’s got a better handle than I do on oh-so-clever titles). In it, I showcase all the different international markets that Denver has to offer; the specialty cuisines they sell, the idiosyncratic packaging (Hello, Kitty on EVERYTHING. Swear to god, I half-expected to cough up a hairball after choking down a stick of Pocky); the sugary sweet junk food confections that are anathema to our less-refined ‘Merican taste buds (in South America, Nutella is considered the most delicious, creamiest manna ever to be brought down by Zues from on high by. And hey! Did you know that the Frito Lay Company sells cheese-less Cheetos to our lactose intolerant friends across the Pacific? Did you know there were any dairy products in Cheetos at all?)

I kept the coffee references to a minimum for this one, seeing as 3 of the 4 stories I’ve had published so far revolve around the stuff. Still, I couldn’t help but make reference to the brewing equipment available at the Jerusalem Market. Especially considering that, along with smoking paraphernalia, they didn’t sell much else.

Entirely purged from the article is my love of Asian canned coffees. After all, it’s something I’ve covered extensively enough on this very blog. And I’m trying – trying - to avoid that “alt-weekly” writer thing where all my stories read like a hipster’s diary entry about “Hey, look how interesting I am. Aren’t I just fascinating, what with my juxtaposing interests in all things low and high culture?”, those little trademark touches, kind of like how Kevin Smith puts his stupid friends in all his movies, or how Quentin Tarantino puts his foot fetish on display in all of his. (Particularly a problem, as he focuses so often on Uma Thurman’s nasty-ass dogs. Yech.)

Not only that, but I’ve pretty much been through all of the varieties that you can get here in Denver. There’s a big, wide world of other options available out there, like 12 oz., recyclable holy grails, all of which I have yet to get my hands on.

Luckily, though, for those of us land locked and without the ways and means to go meandering across the globe at the drop of the hat, there’s this site. Seriously, the Japanese know how to turn even the most mundane consumer experience into a veritable cornucopia of high-kitch stimulus.

Go. Now. Dig!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


On New Years Day, driving through streets still buried under the blizzard from the week before, the wife and I got in a conversation about our resolutions. She’s really good about that stuff; writing them down to make them tangible, so they can be mused over, considered and reconsidered… “words that stay” like Gelfling Kara sez in “The Dark Crystal

Me, I’m not as good at expressing such concrete thoughts. My goals, like everything else in my life, tend to be sort of transient, vague. In my head, I went through my usual litany of hopes and desires; to write, to travel, to get in better shape, find a better job, to be more assertive… yadda yadda yadda. But when I finally opened my mouth to put it out there to someone else, so there would be no shirking it the next day, I said my Resolution for 2007 would be, ”to embrace my inner Alpha Male."

Yeah, she laughed, too. She signs the checks for all our bills, drives, when we’re both in the car, and (occasionally) watches the sports on TV. I, on the other hand, put the kids to bed, fold our laundry with the precision and intensity of a master ninja, and listen to Erasure. With apologies to the GLBT community, she’s the “Butch”, and I’m the “Bitch”.

But still, I have perused my goal with some small successes; I’ve got a little-bit better job, I hit the gym 5 days a week, I’m writing for dollars (Hey! Did I mention I’m freelancing for The Onion? What’s that? “With the same frequency that Emily Elizabeth talks about her big, red dog”, you say? Oh. Sorry. Forget I brought it up.)

One of the things that’s always stood in my way as far as being the ideal male was concerned (besides my love of Erasure, that is) is my tendency toward overall “flightiness”. My friends always joked that the reason for some of my more random, illogical (read: downright stupid) actions was that I was “missing part of my brain”. And the only thing that could calm me down? The one and only substance that could get me to think straight?

Yep… coffee. The stuff didn’t just wake me up… it tightened the screws… made me altogether sharper.

So, now, smack-dab in the middle of the whole self-improvement, self-discovery, and all round self-centeredness kick I’m currently on, I'm diagnosed with ADHD… a fairly acute case of it, as matter of fact. I’m taking a medication called Adderal (which is one more reason for me to resent the fact that my insurance company paid out FIVE GRAND for the piece of crap Scientology Indoctrination Unit I rear-ended).

Adderal is a stimulant. More accurately, Aderall a speed-ball; a veritable crack-house fire sale's worth of uppers. A chemical cocktail which features Benzadrine, the drug that Jack Kerouac took in liberal doses in order to write “On the Road” over the course of a few weeks on a single, continuous scroll over paper.
Which, hey, would explain my last blog entry. This one too, maybe.

But I digress (as I’m known to do… hey, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and my ADHD won’t be cured overnight.) I have a lifetime of learned behavior that I’ll be trying to undo w/ the help of a therapist. But the meds do focus me. The speed is, generally speaking, good for me.

Make that some speed is good for me. As such, I’m slowing down a bit on the coffee. No, dear readers, not all the way; just enough to ensure that I don’t claw my way up the ceiling at 11 am every morning.

So this blog, which recently has really only ostensibly been about coffee, will probably be even less so now. And to be honest, I haven’t been too inspired to write about the stuff lately anyway. Everybody needs to change up their focus, every now and again. Paul McCartney and Yoko left The Beatles and started “Wings” ; Jerry Seinfeld tossed his whole act a couple years ago, just to stay fresh; even Jack Kirby left Marvel to mix up his Oeuvre. And now it’s my turn.

I’m starting a new feature… say, TUESDAY… where I’ll be exploring what it means to be an “Alpha Male” – what that has meant, traditionally, to us as a culture. As such, I’ll be reviewing the tomes; the literature* of the so-called alpha male. **

Nietzsche? Bah! Hemmingway? Yeah… running FROM the bulls is more like it.

No, I’m talking REAL men. HEROES! Guys who fight evil while with their shirts are in tatters, like on the cover of a romance novel… but there are no women around!

I’m talking Doc. Savage! Tarzan! Conan! Sherlock Holmes! Mack Bolan e Remo Williams, yo!

I’ve been up to my under-muscled chesticles in new-age sensitive guy-isms for most of my life. Get ready to roll with the Ted’s-tosterone!

* That's pronounced "Lit – aw – ra –tchoor", for you plebians.

** Yeah, yeah, I know, it's called COFFEEcrush, right there in the title. But you know what? When I dropped out of high school, I used to work at a store called "Just Pants". And do you know what we sold? Shirts, and belts, and walets. And, oh yeah, pants... Z Cavarichi's and whatnot. But the point is, that wasn't all we did. Why, my whole job was explaining to a bunch of jokester mall-walkers why a store called Just Pants could sell B.U.M Equipment sweatshirts. Remember the boobie grabbing grandpa in Sixteen Candles? Guys like that. You don't wanna be that guy, do you? I didn't think so.