Sunday, July 31, 2011

Signs Signs Signs, Times Times Times

I like ice cream. Shocking, I know. I try not to keep sweets in the house because I don’t know how to stop eating them. I’m really good at starting but I don’t know how to close a box of cookies, or put away a container of ice cream.

So since I don’t keep that stuff in my house, what happens is I usually end up jonesing for some ice cream, go down to my building’s bodega, buy a ridiculously overpriced five dollar pint of Ben and Jerry’s and stress about how much money I am spending.

Since this summer it has been roughly 32 million degrees in New York every single day, I have been eating a lot of ice cream. I took this as a sign to stop spending my entire paycheck at my bodega, and actually invest in a half-gallon of ice cream from the grocery store. This turns out to be roughly the same price as a pint from my bodega.

So I picked up some Mint Chocolate Chip, brought it home, and upon opening it noticed a little something on the label.

Snaps tight to lock in freshness? Awesome. Safety tab? Umm… necessary?

Safe for who? What is the danger here? Is the danger that the ice cream will spill out and melt all over the floor? Yes, that is a concern, but dangerous? I guess it just depends on your definition of danger. But then again most people’s definition of danger does not involve ice cream. It’s a half-gallon of ice cream, not opium. I think people can be trusted with it.

Now, will somebody possibly eat to much? Sure. Could they get a brain freeze? Yes, yes absolutely. But I am still not sure what the safety concern is. And any danger that can be alleviated by an easy to open “tab” is really no danger at all.

A real danger we face though, is running out of time. Life moves fast and we might not have enough time to get to work, catch the train, etc.

But as busy as we are, I just don’t see a need for this.

It’s called fast food for a reason. You are not ordering Osso Bucco or a Pork Loin or a Flan. It is food cut into squares. And the place has a drive through. From order to delivery it’s like 4 minutes. I don’t care how fresh the establishment claims their food is, Julia Child isn’t in the back whipping it all up the moment you order it.

I don’t see how ordering online speeds up how fast you actually get your food. If it were phone ordering, I would say OK awesome, that is faster. You can do that in the car on the way over. But online ordering you actually have to sit down at a computer (or an iPad you fancy sonofabitch) and take the time out of whatever you are doing to order your food.

Whereas if you had just gone to the drive through, you would have been able to place your order, and then send your emails, knit an afghan or whatever it is you do all while your food is prepared.

Online ordering doesn’t save you any time unless of course you just don’t like being at a fast food location, which means you probably don’t feel good about eating fast food, which probably means you are using the Internet to compensate for your feelings of self loathing. And who can really blame you? I mean we as a society have built up the idea of social networking to such an unbearable breaking point that to live our lives without being constantly plugged in is quickly draining ourselves of our ability to tolerate any kind of interaction that has to take place outside of the comfort of our own social media space when….


Sorry about that.

What I meant to say was, um… just eat healthier.

One way to eat healthier is to grow your own food. I won’t tell you how to do that because I don’t know how. And also because I’ve had 3 plants in my life and I’m only operating at a 33% success rate with having kept them alive.

I know plants need water and that’s about it. But if growing things is for you, you should definitely invest in seeds. From what I hear, most plants start out as seeds.

As for what seeds to buy, I am flipping clueless. But upon a recent visit to the garden aisle of a home store, I realized I do have a preference in my seeds. First I came across these seeds:

Cool, vegetable seeds. That seems straight forward enough. However, when compared to the seeds next to them…

They really pale in comparison. I mean who was the copywriter that worked on this marketing ploy?

Smith: OK so um, I’ve got these vegetable seeds here, so I made a sign that said Vegetable seeds.
Johnson: Good job Smith, what about these seeds over here?
Smith: Oh I don’t know what kind of seeds those are.
Johnson: Well how will you describe them then?
Smith: How about…um… seeds that grow?
Johnson: BRILLIANT! You’re promoted instantly!

What kind of seeds are they? Who cares? They grow! That is all that matters here people and if you don’t understand that, well then you obviously know nothing about plants.

They person who wrote this copy should be working for every brand in America.


Pants that fit!
Candles that burn!
Cars that drive!

It’s just about the laziest advertising there is. I can think of a million other instances where that might work.

But maybe we can just apply it desserts, most specifically ice cream. We could even put it right on the packaging.

“Ice cream that’s safe.”

Ya know, because of that tab.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

My Bazooka of Peace - Part 2

Walking into a strange place where I don’t know anybody is something I have done many times in my life. However, that doesn’t mean that I am extremely comfortable with it. Quite the opposite, I get nervous, my heart races and I get butterflies.

So I combat that by making jokes with strangers to make friends. This works at conventions, group job interviews, or birthday parties.

It does not work at Yoga.

On my first day of Yoga I am the second person to arrive in the classroom. The only other person there is another guy who is dressed all in white. I’m not really sure what I am supposed to be doing, so I just watch him and mimic.

He rolls out his mat, so I do the same.

He then walks over to a shelf and grabs 2 heavy blankets and a pillow which he then brings back to the mat.

I have absolutely no idea what these are for, but I do the same. So now I’m sitting on my Yoga mat, with 2 blankets and a pillow. Wait, is this a nap class? Nap Yoga? Is that a thing? This is going to be way easier than I thought.

The other guy kneels in front of a small altar at the end of the room, lights a candle and says a prayer to himself. I realize now that he is the teacher and I should probably leave the altar alone.

He then busies himself with some other preparations. Other people have come into the room now. But since I have already grabbed my nap kit I'm not sure what I should be doing. So again, I try to do what other people are doing.

My immediate instinct is to start chatting with people. But before a Yoga class starts, it’s pretty frigging quiet. It is like everybody has suddenly entered his or her own personal space.

People are lying on the floor with their eyes closed, they are touching their toes,  they are standing on their head.

So right away, I’m not going to be able to relax by making friends. And I’m also not going to be able to chat out my nervous energy; I just have to sit there. And sitting still and being silent are two things I have NEVER been good at. I’ve been moving around and making noises since I was in the womb.

What’s sad is that the movements and noises are almost identical to what they were 27 years ago.

Some people are already sitting with their legs folded over each other, and since my body is incapable of that, I just lean back on my hands like I’m sitting in a field.

And I know I should be focusing on meditating and being at peace in the space, but I can’t help but stare at people and think a million things.

How old is that woman?
That chick has an intense yoga outfit.
Isn’t that guy to fat to bend?

And so on and so forth.

At this point all I can hope for is that I don’t accidentally fart during class. I know this is supposed to be a peaceful supportive environment and that is a natural bodily function but I haven’t been able to let myself fart in front of anybody I’ve ever dated, so I’m certainly not going to be able to break peaceful wind starting now.

Class starts and immediately we launch into chanting. I am immediately uncomfortable because chanting “om” out loud is not something I ever do.  And singing “hari om” over and over again takes me right out of my comfort zone. The only thing that makes it better is that our eyes are all closed.

I don’t really know what I’m saying but I’m keeping an open mind. It feels vaguely like when I would go to church as a small child. You stand there mumbling the words to prayers you hear every week without really knowing what they mean but knowing it’s supposed to be good for you.

The only difference is I never had to try and touch my toes in church.

We finish chanting and do warm-ups. And then we start doing poses. It feels good to pose. My crumpled self is slowly starting to come out of its crumpled self. This could work. I can feel the benefits already.

The class progresses and I am able to things like the fish pose, or downward dog, or sun salutation. Though the teacher first pronounces things in their native origin. So what I hear is:

Alright now we will be doing Samjamaramarubadub or Locust Pose.

I am very grateful for intro level instruction.

Then we end the class with breathing exercises and deep relaxation.

The deep relaxation is my favorite part. We lay on the ground with our eyes closes. We should be meditating, but it is all I can do just to stay awake and not add snoring to the list of bodily functions I have exercised in this class.

The breathing exercises are slightly more challenging. One of them involves breathing in and out very quickly 25 times. It’s actually quite simple but I won’t understand how to do it until the third class I take, and instead of breathing in and out, I just keep breathing out and am really shocked when nobody else is wheezing by the 10th breath.

The other breathing exercise involves closing one nostril at a time and then breathing into and out of that nostril. This makes extremely paranoid since this process is what some people use to blow what is called a “snot rocket.”

I’m just trying to get into this Yoga thing, the last thing I need to do is launch a booger onto the foot of the person next to me. I mean it was all I could do not to fart on her.

But in the end all of my boogers stayed in their cave and as for breaking wind, well let’s just say nobody heard anything.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

My Bazooka of Peace - Part 1

Based on recent events (and by “recent events” I mean unbearable back pain and my doctor telling me my neck muscles look like that of an “old man”) I have started doing yoga.

Some of you may remember I tried yoga on the beach in Miami with what might be called no success. Unless you define success by sweating profusely, tipping over and falling into the sand so that I looked like a gangly sugared pastry, in which case I was the most successful person in Miami.

I made a commitment to do yoga back in January. So naturally, I bought my own yoga mat in April.

I bought my own mat because the idea of lying on the floor.... on a thin piece of foam.... that hundreds of other people have done whatever on, really, really grosses me out.
Plus I have a friend who got ringworm on her arm from the equipment at her gym and she showed it to me and it was gross. And once you’ve had/seen ringworm it’s reason enough to never ever touch anything ever again.

Plus I figured if I bought a mat, I would be more committed to doing yoga instead of always saying “ohh I don’t have a mat.”

So I got a mat, unwrapped it (It’s blue!) and placed it in the fancy yoga mat holder I purchased for it.

I then moved it out of the way and put it in the corner of my living room. And that is where it has been sitting for the last two months.

It’s not that I don’t want to go to yoga. I really, really do! I am extremely worried that my body will continue to atrophy until I walk around town at a 90-degree angle and start talking to dogs because they are the only things I can make eye contact with.

The main challenge is I don't have very much time in my schedule (what the hell takes up all my time I couldn't tell you) to go and do yoga. And also it’s expensive. I know there are super duper cheap places, but the places in my neighborhood are between 10 and 20 dollars a class.

Weekends are usually pretty full with projects I have invented for myself or I am too lazy or too busy eating two bagels at a time to get my life together enough to go sit in a room with a hunch of strangers and bend my body into a bunch of positions that could instantly snap my bones like a pile of stale churros.

And weeknights are tough because I try to use those nights to write, podcast or if I am lucky enough... see my friends.

Mornings are out of the questions because... well... because its early dude! And while I have a lot of energy early in the day, having the energy for a physical activity is different.

Sometimes I will see somebody at work with a yoga mat and say to them:

Hey are you doing yoga after work?
No, I went before work.

And then I instantly feel the need to put down the box of munchkins I am holding to tell them every healthy aspect of my life that is healthy and natural and good.

But the pain from sitting at a desk is really starting to get to me. I slouch like I’m melting into the floor. I try sitting up straight, but that is usually if I have a wedgie I can’t discreetly get rid of. I don’t try to slouch, it’s just I end up sliding down into my chair which is just more comfortable for me, but then I end up in more pain because the comfortable chair position is killing me slowly.

I tried getting one of those ergonomic chair attachment thingies that slide over the chair and give your back a natural arch. But I think it’s too severe and I can’t help but feel like it is trying to force me to try and type with my pelvis.

I tried different iterations of it, moving it up, moving it down, and turning it upside down. I can’t get the damn thing to feel good.

Since that thing is not really working, and since my doctor made me realize my body is turning into something decrepit I realized it was time to make time to get into shape.

It just so happened that my doctor visit coincided with availability of a Groupon for a month of unlimited yoga at a third of the normal prize. Before I even bought the frigging thing I was telling everybody I was going to do it. After I had told about 7 people I realized I hadn’t actually done anything yet, so I quickly bought the Groupon.

Really it was perfect timing, serendipitous even. The gods of discounts knew that I was both thrifty and out of shape. All I had to do was buy this Groupon and I could quickly become one of those people who swears by yoga, and tells everybody how amazing it is and what it does for them.

I wanted to be one of those people.

So on the day of yoga, I grabbed my mat, slung across my back and walked out the door. Immediately I felt different. I felt like I was important or something. I felt like people must be looking at me thinking, oh yea, he's bendy, he does yoga.

When in reality nobody probably gave a crap about me. I did feel kind of strangely powerful, like a was carrying a cannon on my back. Except, a cannon that made people feel better and more at ease. My bazooka of peace.

And my bazooka of peace and I went to our first class where I would quickly feel better about myself.

But as I would quickly find out, it was not going to be that easy.

Sunday, July 10, 2011


I don't watch a lot of TV. I used to, but not anymore. I’ll watch the games during football season, but that’s about as regular as it gets. People make fun of me for this. A lot of people start conversations with me that go, "Hey Rich did you see.... oh yea, of course not."

I don't watch much TV for several reasons. First off, I don't have cable so I only get like 8 channels (not including the 15 Spanish channels my TV receives). My TV is also a monster. It’s from my parents’ old basement. And it’s like a 46 inch TUBE TV, so it weighs about 23,000 pounds.

But really the main reason is that when I am watching TV, I am not doing anything else. I don't write as much, I don't consume as much culture I just kind of… exist on my couch.

Since I rarely watch TV, when I do watch it, certain things get burned indelibly into my brain. Things like commercials.

And what bothers me about commercials is that they suck. Not just that they are bad (although most of them are bad) but the fact that the story telling is so falsified.

I mean I know believing everything you see or here in commercials is dangerous. And I don't do that, but even still, they are so way off that I can't even handle it.

For example, take commercials for paint. I have painted before. I painted my entire apartment. I know what it’s like, how long it takes, etc. But TV paint commercials are completely misrepresenting how difficult it is to paint a room. The people in paint commercials are freaks of nature.

First of all they always paint in khakis, a polo shirt, and a do rag. And they always just kind of look around the room in beautiful reverence paint a little bit, and then cut to them admiring their work they finished on the same day.

And they never have any paint on them! Not a drop. There's no paint on the floor, there are no drop cloths, no painters tape. It's just time to start, oh look let’s paint perfectly together beautiful spouse of mine, oh look at that we’re done.

Oh and how about that, our clothes are still in perfect shape. Oh wow and we just painted 12 walls and our backs don't hurt and hey look its still light outside. Let's go for a jog!

Now if that were real life it would be pitch black outside, those people would have paint in their eyelashes, and they would be curled up in the fetal position on the floor holding a beer and a slice of pizza. But no, paint commercial couples look at each other, grab each other’s hands, and skip off into the sunset.

Shaving commercials also piss me off. Like most people, I have very important things on my face... like my mouth. And if I shaved my face as fast as those guys in commercials do, I would have shaved it off. They shave so fast that at the rate they show, every man should be able to shave his entire face in 29 seconds.

People in commercials shave while smiling and looking at the camera instead of at the BLADE IN THEIR HAND! Hello! That is a blade, or in the case of today's razors, 12 blades. Be careful with that shit and stop telling me how I can swipe it across my face the same way I might wipe chocolate sauce off my cheek. It is a sharpened piece of steel, not a napkin.

And all these commercials where they “surprise” men in gym locker rooms shaving their face to challenge them to use a new razor. First of all, nobody believes that’s real. And second of all, do you know what the legal ramifications would be for sneaking up on somebody holding a razor next to their face?

Every shaving commercial should have the same message:

Hey guys, do you have hair on your face? Do you use our razor? Well be careful! Our razor is ridiculously dangerous!

But shifting to non-violence, my last commercial frustrations are those for laundry detergent. Apparently the science behind laundry detergent has really come leaps and bounds the last couple years because it is so concentrated now it seems like you can go 20 years on the same bottle of detergent.

It’s 3 times concentrated, not it’s 5 times concentrated, no 10. Use a half a cap full, no a teaspoon, no a drop, no actually just wave the bottle of detergent above the washing machine and it will do the work magically. You don't even have to open the bottle. On bottle will last you a lifetime.

I fully expect to walk into the detergent aisle of the store and just see some product that comes with an eyedropper for you to dispense your cleaning liquid.

I have a hard time believing all of these claims since when I do my laundry and start to pour the tiniest bit into the machine I almost always doubt myself and say, no you know what, I should add more. I just feel safe with too much as opposed to too little.

But I suppose part of it is my own fault since I buy the unscented detergent, I can’t tell if my clothes smell clean just… not dirty. Who knows, maybe I am not the target clientele for these advertisers. Maybe there is some other breed of super human to whom these products apply.

But then again if you can shave your face in 29 seconds and paint your entire house effortlessly without spilling a drop, you probably have no need for detergent anyway.


Monday, July 4, 2011

Age Before Beauty

Let me be clear about something. This is not a rant about how I am so old and I know so much and my life is so full of experience etc. No. I am pretty comfortable with my position in life. I’d like to be smarter, I’d like to be more successful, but other wise, I am pretty comfortable.

My body on the other hand, seems to have different ideas about things. My body seems to be aging rapidly in some discreet (and not so discreet) ways that I don't notice on a regular basis.

The first is my gray hair. Now I have been going gray for a while, pretty much once you get your first gray hair you are "going gray." I was like 18 or 19 when I saw my first. I didn't think about it much.

But seeing as I am only 27, there is a very bit of the gray music playing its way around the sides of my hair. And people feel the need to point this out to me on a regular basis. But they always do it in a way that actually leaves no response.

Ohh going a little gray there are we?
Um... no. No we are not. This is not a joint venture. I am doing this by myself. In fact I am not doing it myself because I'm not doing anything. It's just happening.

It's like when people ask me if I am growing a beard. Well, technically by nature of being alive I am always growing a beard. But even still, it is not something I do intentionally. I just trim it once in a while so the question should be are you trimming your beard.

And did you ever stop to think that maybe I’m not going gray, maybe you are just going colorblind?

I don't notice my gray hairs as much as when I get my hair cut and notice a fair amount of the ones falling into my lap are of the silver variety.

Which brings up another point. People always say you are going gray. They never say you are going silver. No the adjective silver is reserved for the highest complement you can give an aging man which is to call him a Silver Fox.

This is something I have been called several times recently.
Oh Richard, you're going to be a Silver Fox.

Here is what I know of a Silver Fox. They are somebody who has gone prematurely gray and is thereby more handsome because of this seemingly bemusing appearance.

So when people say I am going to be a silver fox, what they are essentially saying is that I am going to be attractive one day, which means I am not yet attractive, which means...

Well, let's just leave it at not yet attractive shall we?

Everybody is so concerned with what they are going to be. I don't want to be a Silver Fox, I want to be a Rich Boehmcke. In fact, I AM a Rich Boehmcke. Here I am. Look at me, unfox-like as I am.

What is the opposite of a fox? What is the opposite of something compact, gray, and sleek? Maybe a... Giraffe? I guess that's what I am,  a brown giraffe. Yeah, now that's a compliment. Actually Brown giraffe makes me sound like my skin has the capacity to tan. OK, Pale Giraffe. Now we're talking.

But one way in which I am not like a fox or a giraffe is that fact that I am incredibly out of shape. I don't appear to be out of shape upon first glance. My pants fit and I don't eat Doritos for breakfast, but it’s a more covert out of shape.

When my life has gotten busy, as it is currently, I only work out like once a week or once every other week due to what is scientifically known as "laziness."

But when I go to do something extremely physical I might be able to perform at the level of competition, be it playing basketball or going for a jog. But for days afterward my body feels like an old erector set that was left out in the rain for a month. I can actually hear my joints oxidizing.

This past week my company started its softball league. We had a lot of fun but I didn't see that much action in the field and I only got up 3 times. Granted I ran like hell each time. The first two times I got up, I singled. The third time I fouled off a pitch and ran hard to first base. It wasn't until I got there that I realized it was a foul ball. So i jogged back to the batter's box, picked up my bat and immediately thought to myself:

Oh my god I’m going to pass out. There’s no way I can remain standing. Dear god give me the strength to swing this bat.

My legs were trembling. My arms were trembling. I think my ears were even trembling from the exhaustion of having to flap in the breeze as I ran like a speeding... sheep.

So I swung and hit a long fly ball into the outfield and luckily adrenaline took over I was able to make it to first base, second base, all the way to third. I was able to stop only because I no longer had the capacity to run.

We ended up losing the game, which was fine. We went out for drinks and had a good time. However, when I woke up the next morning I felt like I had been beaten by a gang in a dark alley.

In fact I was so sore I could barely walk without moaning. When I sat at my desk I couldn’t cross my legs without a winch and pulley system. This is a pain that has yet to go away.

So while I may not complain of being an old man, my body is apparently trying to beat me to the punch. So instead of striving to be Rich Boehmcke, an attractive man, I’ll just have to settle for my newest aspiration:

Rich Boehmcke: The Gray Giraffe.