Archive for April, 2012

Sibling Joviality…I do miss it…

 Southall, UK…1969…Jammin’

Siblings…you hear all sorts of stories about them.  Bad blood, disputed inheritances, jealousies…

It’s too bad.  They say you can pick your friends, but you can’t pick your family – obviously said by someone older who has had a bad experience.  I don’t think anyone who is 12 or younger has ever said that! Why is it that all the problems arise only when you are older?

Really, of all the people in the world, who are you the most similar to?  Brothers and sisters have all the ingredients to be more alike – nature-wise and nurture-wise: same parents, same house, same schools, same toys, same food, same clothes (unless you were lucky like me, and were the oldest).  When and why do we go astray?  Simply age, I guess.

And even if you are fortunate enough to enjoy a close relationship with your siblings, do you ever really enjoy the same closeness, same joie de vivre, and energy as when you were kids?  I know that I enjoy my time with my brother – and would with my sister too (if we weren’t 7 time zones apart) – but when we were kids, oh boy were we inseparable!  And the memories we share – like all siblings, I guess – remind me of the craziness that kids can generate.

I mean, who among us hasn’t damaged a sibling? And I don’t mean figuratively – who has “felt like pummeling them” – I mean literally “almost did them in”.  In Grade Six, pushing my 10 year-old brother to school, on – not in – an abandoned grocery shopping cart, we hit one of those ubiquitous sidewalk bumps  (young Canadian street-hockey players know it well, the kind of bump that rudely jams the butt of your hockey stick into your diaphragm as you are running home dreamily,  leaving you out-of-wind, spasming and gasping uncontrollably on the ground!).  Bumpity-bump bump, and then there was nothing but a whirling Matrix-like slow motion somersault of me over the cart, the cart over my brother, and my brother becoming the human shock absorber.  Thankfully, as the back of his head made full thudding contact with the rough concrete sidewalk, he cushioned my fall!  There was no doubt he was concussed, maybe he even had a fractured skull.  But as he looked at me with dilated pupils, not quite hearing what I was saying, we both knew that there would be hell to pay if Mom and Dad found out.  So after a bit of pleading from me, he toughed it out, suffering through the full school day with the wound congealing under his hair. He definitely put up the good fight. The folks did eventually find out – perhaps the fact that my brother could not remember his name was a clue – but what fraternal loyalty!  Now, before anyone gets on my case (and it was 36 years ago), keep in mind that he was no saint either. Ask my sister about her two front teeth jettisoned forcibly by my brother.  In his best Six-Million-Dollar-Man impersonation, he flying-kicked her “loot bag” novelty bugle during one of her peace-making charges to end a brother v brother UFC match.  Never has the cry, “Ta-da-ta-dahhhh…here comes the cav-a-wee”  been transformed into the piercing shrieks of de-fanged six year-old girl so quickly!!

If you kids do not settle down, I am coming up there! GO… TO… SLEEP!  I was a kid – so you woudl think I would get it as a parent, and let it slide!  I remember the ludicrous sessions with my brother – we did share a bedroom for almost 8 years.  Not being sleepy, everything we said or did – and I mean everything – was “side-splittingly” funny.  We would almost pee ourselves laughing as we did impressions, made strange bodily noises, recited Bill Cosby’s comedy routines, sang goofy songs and told jokes until all hours of the night (okay, in hindsight, maybe it was only until 10pm)…there is nothing like the innocent, uncontrollable hushed giggling of kids as they work themselves into a ridiculous unable-to-breathe frenzy – unless you are a baby-sitter or a parent.  The Giggle Sessions still continue on the rare occasion, but now they seem to be beer or wine-induced! And they seem to be a lot more painful in the morning than I remember.

The Sibling Fights…ahh, epics.  Now with three of us, there were always alliances and allegiances and double-crosses: boys against girl, youngest against oldest, all against the middle (mathematically, I think that is  3!/(2!1!)  – Grade 13 Relations and Functions for those Ontarians that are old enough to remember, or care!  Just think of it as my attempt to do a Conjunction Function). Early childhood fights were all so simple…what show to watch on TV, whose toy it really was (and if – at the time of the transgression– the owner was really playing with it), who really broke the lamp, who cheated playing a Barrel Full o’ Monkeys, who was supposed to take out the garbage (that cost my brother his beloved replica Led Zeppelin Concert t-shirt), or who Mom or Dad loved more (c’mon… seriously… parents can’t love ALL their kids equally ALL the time – can they? ) The fights were epic…pushing and pulling, pinning and holding, kicking and punching, biting and pinching…all good cage match/roller derby stuff. But in the end,  it never mattered who started it, or why – as the eldest always gets the blame. “You should know better!”, “You are supposed to look after you little brother/sister!”, “Grow up!”, “What kind of example are you setting!”…the usual the refrains heard all over the World, and ironically at our house usually punctuated by a good parental smack or two to reinforce that violence was never the solution to conflict.  Aaahhhh…good times.

And then there was my parents’ favourite strategy to keep me out of trouble when I was a teen – forcing me to take my little brother with me…I assume he was just as thrilled…but boy did he get an education!  I suppose it was the guilt of almost fracturing his skull that motivated me not to ditch him.

But when you grow up, you naturally drift apart.  Different towns, different careers, marriages, kids…the bonds flex and elongate – but, if you are lucky, and  nurture them, they will stay elastic.  Sometimes close, sometimes far…but alwas there.  And sometimes when they are stretched and thin,  I think back to the fun crazy times I shared with my little brother and sister – with a happy smile. And though the relationships have changed  – no more a question of oldest or youngest, biggest or strongest, smartest or funniest, girls versus boys…you realise it is more about knowing you share the same roots and same DNA.   And no matter what,sooner or later, you will get together and giggle uncontrollably again. When next my Sis’ and Bro’ meet to jaw about the old days, I’ll bring the beer (I am the oldest, after all…)

Think of your siblings and give’em a hug, eh? Not everyone is so lucky.

Later,

ASF

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What happened to the cape?…

What happened to the cape? I mean when I was younger they were so cool – where did they all go?

As for me, I have worn a cape – seriously, mind you – twice in my life…once when I was three years old –  a safety-pinned old blue towel and I was Batman – and the other was in my early twenties, as part of the ceremonial dress at Military College.

While one was definitely cuter than the other, I have to admit that the Scarlet jacket and the dark blue/black cape (worn with the one side thrown casually over the right shoulder, with the red-silk lining showing) were pretty dashing. It sort of captures everything good about a cape. Unfortunately, not the best look to meet the ladies at The Sting, or The Forge, in Victoria BC!

So…where did they go?  Once upon a time they were everywhere…on TV, in comics, on pop-stars, on daredevils.  Wherever anyone looked, there seemed to some cape-wearing star.

There were the glitzy, flashy ones….like Elvis’s.  Sadly it was not the cool 1960s black-leather Elvis, but the later Elvis…the puffier, sweatier one. Older, flabbier but, somehow, still a panty-magnet! Wise men say… it must have been the cape.

And then at the other end of the over the top cape-scene was Liberace.  Polished, svelte…playing it safe and appealing to both sexes…panties and boxers flying everywhere…

And who could forget Evel – before the jumps he would get that cape flowing as he did wheelies and practice runs up the ramps – teasing everyone that this might the flight over the gap.  The cape on my toy SST Knievel never flowed as well as his real-life one.  Funny, I never saw the cape at Snake River Canyon…

And after that there were the ones that graced the pages of Marvel and DC.  Capes that created the mystery, the power, the persona.  The superheroes and the villains…goodness and malevolence…colour and form….a world where capes were just part of the wardrobe.  So many styles and so many heroes…so easily replicated by a toddler sporting a pinned towel.

And then there were the monsters…the monochromatic, black and white ones, that scared the bejeezus out of us on late nights or 35mm film…back when the frights were all implied – not the graphic nastiness of today that leaves nothing to the imagination.  It was a time when Karloff and Lugosi and Chaney ruled…and all you needed to fight off the baddies were Abbott and Costello . And who could forget the badass  cape from Star Wars…”No. I am your father…” just wouldn’t have had the same impact without the menace of a helmeted, asthmatic capester.

But to quote PonyBoy and Soda Pop…that was then, this is now.  Who really wears a cape today…fashionistas like Lady Gaga (meat or hair, take your choice (Bleccchhhh), or Little Red Riding Hood (on the internet at least)…

Now that I think about it, I suppose capes are no longer cool. (Hey, I figured that out all by myself – I did not even need a teenager to tell me that.) Such a shame…I was hoping they would make a come-back.  Guess I’ll throw out the torn towel and utility belt now…

Later,

ASF

Hair today…gone tomorrow…I hope.

At least he has nice teeth and a nice jacket…

I have just noticed the ridiculous number of ludicrous hair styles among some obscenely paid professional athletes.  It is as if, to stand out, they are trying harder and harder to outdo each other.  Flowing locks, curled locks, tethered locks, coloured locks, braided locks, beaded locks…it is all there on the pitch.  It is absolutely hair-raising!  And then, like when all you can do is think of elephants when someone says don’t think of them, I noticed male haircuts and hair styles in other sports, and on rock stars, and on American Idols [Idles] or on Britain’s Got [No] Talent, and on the London Underground…everywhere in fact.

And I can say, with the solid backing of the Experimental Method, that outlandish coiffures are not the sole domain of the rich and the wannabes. Men with bad haircuts are everywhere…

Now, to be honest, I have had my share of hair disasters…when I was young, my dad tried to save a few bucks and cut my and my brother’s hair.  That may not be a bad idea – if you understood anything about the mechanics of the buzzer, the geometry of the human head, how to layer and most importantly, how to cut in a straight line.  But Dad did not appreciate any of that, and my late primary school and early junior high days were a misery…it is hard to look cool when your bangs look like the top of a castle wall and your head looks like it lost a fight with a weed whacker.  He would have done 1000% better if he had used a cereal bowl. For those that were at my 40th , you have seen the pic enlarged to preposterous  proportions  – it remains an absurdly comic tragedy. For the rest of you – here’s a scan…be kind, I am still scarred and not keen to have that snap show up in an internet search for Bad Haircuts!

But I was 10 years old – I had no choice. I had to march down to the unfinished basement, sit under the bare bulb, wrap the torn bath towel around my neck, and then face the tools of shame – in retrospect, it all had a bit of a hostile interrogation feel to it.  I was trapped, so I suppose I have an excuse; being kind, may be others with bad haircuts have an excuse, too.  BUT, that kind of logic is kind and pure and honest and worthy.  Those sentiments have no place in a blog!

So I will put those virtues aside, and will maintain the aim – the aim of today’s blog is to entertain and run through the Best of the Worst…haircut choices that just make you ask, “ Why?”

So here goes with the easiest first –

The Mullet.  The Mississippi Mud Flap just says, “Business up front, party out back”.  This haircut just begs for a number of descriptors:  hillbilly, redneck, NASCAR, Whitesnake, 80s, squirrel pie, bad judgement, acid- or stone-washed denim, European Hockey Star (ask Jaromir Jagr) …add your own to the list– its fun! And I am sure you have some good ones…

The Afro.  The Afro still sends a political  statement.  It still denotes all the 60s “black-pride” – Soul Train, TV shows like Good Times, the bad-asses on early Dirty Harry flicks, disco, the Jackson 5.  Black Afros are styling…I just don’t get the White-fro…that is a totally different statement: “I am Shaft – a pale Shaft, mind you…or I am a huge Gino Vanelli fan.”

The Fauxhawk (aka the Cockatoo…by me anyway).  The Mohawk is bad enough – and unless you have a safety-pin nestled in your cheek and hang around London’s Camden Market, or are entering the Thunder Dome sporting hockey shoulder pads before  your grudge match with Mel Gibson, you have no right to wear one. But a Fauxhawk The FH says, “I love the haircut, but I don’t have the cojones to go the Full Monty. I lack the strength to commit.”  If you like the Mohawk so much…do it right…not half-assed.  No one that I know would tangle with a guy (or gal) wearing a real Mohawk – if they are crazy enough to get one of those, then they are crazy enough to do anything.  But unlike its cool and intimidating cousin, a FH just dares the onlooker to gawk and ridicule the wearer. (As an aside, during the last rugby game I saw, a fellow spectator had a lovely statement of originality…a Fauxhawk that ended in a Mullet….I call it the “Hawklet”.  I would define the Hawklet as a misguided attempt to look mean and fun-loving at the same time – and while not committing to either, he failed to convey that happy-go-lucky toughness he so obviously intended.)

The Pony Tail.  Okay, this one is not for me, but apparently it appeals to men of all ages. What does the pony tail say?  Does it say, “I am confident enough to sport long hair, but practical enough to know I must leash it?”  Or does it say, “ I am a non-conformist, and I single-digit salute The Establishment?” Or is it just a guy who is too lazy to go to the Barber.  It is such a popular style that it comes with several variations including…

  • The beaded El Divin Codino (the divine ponytail…)  worn by Roberto Baggio – famous for missing the entire 192 square feet of goal in the penatly shoot-out.to hand Brazil the 1994 FIFA World Cup
  • The Steven Segalan old guy just trying to look hip. Give it up Grandpa
  • The Beckham…which I also call the School Girl…actually, when you search for Beckham hairstyles you will find he has been a veritable coiffure chameleon…how posh!

The Page-boyOkay this one is plain creepy. Famous page-boys were  John Paul Jones circa 1970 (before he joined TCV and just looked stylin’), Damien from The Omen, Velma Dinkley (who is not a man, but had a great page-boy), and lastly, sported with creepy creepiness by Anton Chighur – the relentless “Unstoppable Evil” from No Country for Old Men…Damien, Anton, Scooby’s girl-bud….brrrrrrr. Shivers, man, shivers.  

Now, before I discuss the last few styles…let’s share just a few word about male pattern baldness.  Some will look at us follicly-challenged and say, “Poor bastards…lost their hair already – they’re just not complete men.” They will try to sell us Rogaine and Propecia and toupees and a million other hair remedies.  But really, early hair loss is not a symptom of losing manhood – it actually means too much dihydrotestosterone (DHT)…(and if you were wondering  DHT has about three times greater affinity for androgen receptors than testosterone and has 15-30 times greater affinity than adrenal androgens.  During preganancy,  it has an essential role forming the male external genitalia…it’s simple, more DHT, less hair but bigger man-bits!)  So take that, those of you with full heads of hair are just slightly lower on the male hormone scale than us baldies.  Public service announcement over…

But sadly, there are those that just can’t accept that their follicles are under siege (and losing) and will go to all the lengths of a complex military operation to avoid it – camouflage, deception, denial.  They deploy a series of tactics to hold off the inevitable, including:

The Perruque aka the wig, the toupee, the hairpiece, the rug, the squirrel, carpet… 

The Comb-Over.  Yes!  You were probably waiting for this one…the King of the Denial styles.  Sort of like the ammoniated beef of haircuts…not quite a lie, but as close as you can get to lying without crossing the line.  The Comb-Over screams, “I cannot be a man without my hair!” 

The category has one Überlord – The Trump. Check out the complexity of his C-O: four distinct grooming phases, four distinct growing regions. Would love to see it exiting the pool….it would be awesome to behold and probably look like “Cousin Itt”.

 

These fellas can justify their grooming choice however they wish, but the Comb-Over says only one thing to me… “Mock me – please. I am insecure.”.  Give it up Comb-Over Man…nature has given you lemons – drink the lemonade.

So that leads me to the best haircut to adopt.  Without a doubt it is the Wilstassier (pronounced will-stah’-see- yay).  The WHAT – you ask? 

It is the Zero on the Wahl …the no mess, no fuss, no sh*t haircut…sported by the one man one who brought down Hans Gruber at the Nakatomi Plaza…worn with pride by the Cockney who took on the Mob and brought pikey Brad Pitt into the bare knuckle boxing ring…and the same “ ’do” that led the Oilers and the Rangers to Stanley Cup nirvana. Yes, the Willis-Statham-Messier.  You just do not mess with these guys…or their haircut.  Look around, they made male pattern baldness cool!

And that is how a man should be…straight up.  No gel, no dye, no primping, no hair appliances, no stylist, no beads, no jheri curl…just clean, smooth, bald beauty – Yul Brenner style – self-administered by the Mach III or the Braun.   That is the way real men do it – just before they eat their Quiche.  So go on lads, shave it down to the wood…liberate yourself. Be free.  No one mocks The Wilstassier…at least not to your face…

Later,

ASF