Time Travel Vacation

After re-rewatching 24 Hour Party People I’ve become obsessed with the idea of being in a place at a particular point in time—the moment that a place, a culture and a people come into sharp focus. So just for exercise, let’s assume that in the next 20 years time travel becomes freely available and cost-effective to the point that we are forced to decide between vacationing to a place now or then. What time and place would you choose to spend your two weeks per year on?

I find that most of my friends choose a moment in history when a particular culture or subculture is on the brink of being recognized. For me it’s Manchester in either the late 70’s or the late 80’s, and for other’s it’s Soho in the 60’s or Athens at the height of the Greek empire. The thing that strikes me about these time-places is that we all seem to be excited by the prospect of visiting a moment that defines us, but we were unable to experience.

The irony of this experiment is that if we really did travel to these historic venues, I’m sure we’d be much more excited about being there than the people involved. Of course they don’t know how important their moment is, and how could they, they’re living in it. I’m sure there’s thousands of moments right now that people of the future would be willing to pay a year’s salary to be a part of, but we won’t know for years exactly what we should be jealous of.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I wish time travel was ubiquitous and cost-effective so that I can visit all of my favorite places in time. Or maybe all of the most influential pieces of history were actually footnotes in the textbooks until future time travellers went back and made them popular. Damn the time travellers.

Freudian T9

Do you ever feel like your cat can read your mind? Mine can, but that’s beside the point. I think this “technology” that they’re calling “T9” is actually a lot more sophisticated than I’ve given it credit for. In fact I would go so far as to say that “T9” isn’t “predictive,” it’s “mind reading.”

A little bit of background at this point would help. I hate eggs. Don’t get me wrong, I love to bake and I’ll even eat french toast, but the sight, smell and texture of cooked eggs has always made me gag. I have distinct childhood memories of being given eggs and wanting to yack. My mom even says that I used to spit them out as a baby (before the memories started). And I’m not militant about it—I have nothing against people who like to eat unborn fetuses.

Another piece of context that might be relevant to the story (it’s coming, I swear) is that while in Ireland recently I became a pretty skilled text messager. I’m not quitting my job as a grad student just yet, but I can walk down the street, write text messages without looking, and avoid traffic, all while juggling and eating ice cream. But seriously, I don’t look at the phone anymore, I just proof let T9 do it’s business and proof the message before I send it.

So I’m walking home today and a friend sends me a message that she’s looking for some eggs. Of course I keep eggs around for baking purposes, but I don’t really use them that often, and I don’t know how old they are. So I write her a message to convey this information, and this is what I got:

i hate eggs but i can’t touch them since i only able with them and i haven’t baked in a while.

Which of course is not what I meant to write, but by golly, it was nearly coherent and pretty much true. The real message, after a couple of corrections:

i have eggs but i can’t vouch for them since i only bake with them and i haven’t baked in a while

I’ve come into some pretty funny T9 substitutions in the process of writing messages, but this is the god darndest, most stupifying experience I’ve ever had. T9 people, I bow down to you.

Beat Rick Fox!

fox and jackson, sitting in a treeCome on, we all have a reason to hate the Lakers. If it’s not Rick Fox and his beautiful wife, well, it’s Rick Fox again with his I wear a facemask because I don’t want to hurt my beautiful smile attitude. Or maybe it’s the way that they always squeak out a lucky victory that makes you want to rethink statistics. Or how about Rick Fox? Did I mention Rick Fox? Well, I hate to break it to them, but if you flip the coin enough times, eventually it’ll come up tails, and the entire country will rejoice in your defeat.

The only other dynasty in my sports-watching years was the Bulls, a charismatic team led by a charismatic Michael Jordan. When MJ pulled up for a jumper at the buzzer you were convinced the Bulls would pull it off, and that luck would not be a factor. How can two teams so similar in prowess create such a different reaction from America? My answer: Rick Fox.

I watched the Blazers lose three rough playoff battles (well, rough for me) to the Lakers, and that kind of anguish is bad for a player like Rasheed Wallace. This guy already gets technical fouls without agitation, and you make him guard Mr. Myself-AND-Vanessa-Willams-think-I’m-hot Rick Fox, and you’re bound to give the poor guy a heart attack. It gave me such pleasure tonight to watch Rasheed embarass the Lakers (and Rick Fox) wearing a Detroit uniform. I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a team in sports as widely hated as the Lakers, and with this defeat I feel like we can all go to work tomorrow with a little less tension in our shoulders. With only one technical foul tonight, it might even add a few years to Rasheed Wallace’s life (courtesy of Rick Fox).

Metrosexual marketing

man creamToday I received a curious little book from Nordstrom’s called “The Grooming Game,” which features a host of men’s hair and skin products (available online as The Men’s Grooming Guide). Up until now I had thought Nordstrom’s figured me for a woman since they regularly send me lingerie and dainty dress catalogs. This book though is an extremely tactful piece of marketing, with ambiguous writing and suggestive photography. The opening page says it all: an image of a man shaving, staring off into the distance in Narcissian gaze, reaffirmed by the text, “think strategically: forget vanity—sharpening your image lets you take your big self out in the world. If life is a game, why not play? When it comes to grooming, Nordstrom knows the rules.”

Every page features some sort of beauty—er—masculine product, from face care to cologne, even a man-blush (a Jean Paul Gaultier product called Better Than Tan Matte Bronzer). There is also a host of Queer Eye wisdom, such as “look the part: natural may be nice, but sometimes you’ve got to buff your bluff,” or “keep them guessing: maintain your fresh face by moisturizing at night.” For the man with all the products they even offer an Alpha Lipoic Acid Face Firming Activator from N.V. Perricone Cosmeceuticals in 2 oz. bottle for $95. The question on everyone’s mind: what the hell is a cosmecutical?

My friend Zach has been saying for quite some time that metrosexualism is the cosmetic company’s solution to a saturated market. In this age, it’s nearly impossible to sell a woman another product regardless of its quality, innovation or ingredients. What these companies need is a new market, and what better than an untapped population equal in size to women? I’m sure that Queer Eye is just the beginning, and that over the next few years I’ll be inundated with enough eye creams to make me sick (even if I don’t eat them). I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve had a facial before, and I tend to use moisturizer in the morning, but I’m not sure I’m ready for the onslaught of advertising I’ve been able to ignore up until now. It’s just a matter of time before I get my first Loreal catalog.