Monday, May 24, 2010

My Love Affair With Tattoos - 5/24/2010

There are some groups of people that my writing has not yet offended. Don't worry, I will get around to you.

For my generation, tattoos were something that a drunken sailor on shore leave in the Philippines woke up with the morning after a weekend of binge drinking and whoring. Sometimes the tattoo would include the name of a woman that he had no recollection of knowing and the only evidence is the tattoo and painful urination. A really industrious Olongapo City bar girl could have her name adorning several sailors while the fleet was in port. Luckily the treatment for the gonorrhea she gave him would also cure the infection from the back alley tattoo. As this guy has aged, the ravages of time have rendered the woman’s name no longer legible, and the tattoo just looks like dirt on his arm. Though he had spent much of his life back home in Des Moines, unsuccessfully, trying to find another girl named Fatima to marry.

In today’s world, much to my dismay, tattoos are en vogue. Up until 2004, it was against the law in South Carolina to ink people. Now, one of the seedier areas of Myrtle Beach is lousy with tattoo and piercing parlors. I do not think that it should be illegal to tattoo, but I think a five day cooling off period, similar to that for buying a handgun, would be appropriate. While tattoos are a booming business here at the beach, tattoo removal is also very lucrative. I am conjecturing that buyer’s remorse for tattoo acquisition rivals that of owners of really ugly cars. And if you are intent on getting a tattoo, put some thought into it. Many of the tattoos I see around town look like the refrigerator art from my preschool grandchildren.

This article is not directed at men. I have no real opinion about male tattooing, though I am very happy that neither of my sons has ever succumbed to the urge to defile himself in this manner. I am addressing tattoos on women. Not the woman who has a delicate, little, butterfly or flower adorning her goody box. I am talking about real tattoos that sag and fade with age, and become unidentifiable blotches. Tattoos that detract from the natural beauty of a woman.

I walk the beach every day and part of the enjoyment, particularly now that the sun has made its appearance, is admiring the women on the beach. The truly beautiful, head-turning, spectacular women of all ages generally have one feature in common: few, if any, visible tattoos. I am guessing they don’t want to tarnish perfection. And rightly so.

Conversely, toothless, shapeless, hags that look like they either fell off the back of a Harley or the porch of a trailer house are often covered head to foot. Is it a lack of self-esteem that drives women to this extreme? For these women I encourage, “drill baby drill”. I have heard it said that many people get tattoos to be free, rebellious, and independent. That is the same rallying cry I hear from bikers, yet they all end up dressing and looking exactly alike. Nothing independent there. The day is coming soon when my lack of tattoos will be viewed as avant-garde.

Along with the tattoos, it has become fashionable to have intimate body parts pierced and adorned with jewelry. Though I do find a belly button ring on a woman weighing less than three bills kind of sexy, I think there are certain areas that need to be left au naturel. One of the least understandable to me is the tongue. Merely biting one’s tongue is such a painful experience that I can’t imagine intentionally causing trauma by drilling a hole and talking with a lisp for the rest of your life. I have heard reasons for doing so are mainly sexual. I can’t Grok that. I have never thought while receiving oral sex, “wow, this is pretty good, but you know what would make it even better is a sharp piece of steel or a gemstone rubbing against me.”

I know that many people who read this have tattoos and think they are an art form. That is the great thing about America. We are all entitled to our opinions. After all, 80% of the U.S. prison population has tattoos. I am guessing that same percentage holds true for crack whores and welfare moms. If you look at middle management and above in any of the Fortune 500 companies, you will be hard pressed to find any managers that have tattoos, hidden or otherwise. If they are so attractive and stylish, why do you suppose they airbrush them out in nearly every movie role Angelina Jolie has ever had?

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Twilight New Moon or "Dude, Where's My Heroine." 5/16/2010

I have Netflix now so I watch a lot of movies that I would normally probably pass on. Even though I am not a big fan of the vampire genre, I decided to give the Twilight franchise a look. I had seen the first one with my daughter some time ago but nodded off quite a bit so I revisited it. I found it to be watchable. I particularly enjoyed the vampire baseball game and I thought the film contained a great, but hackneyed line: “I don't have the strength to stay away from you anymore.” It was a great line to me as it pretty much summed up a vampire/human relationship.

I have not read any of the books, nor will I. So my opinions are totally from the film adaptation. Those that jump to the defense of the story will not convince me of its merit.

My biggest problem with the franchise in general is that there is no one to root for. I like a strong protagonist in my films. My favorite character is Edward’s cute and crazy sister, Alice, played by the beautiful Ashley Greene. Unfortunately, she doesn’t have a large enough part to keep me interested. The main character, Bella, has absolutely no personality and even less judgment. She is eager to give up her soul to hang out with Edward, who is no great shakes. But she will glom onto any monster that gives her the time of day. If a zombie or a Sasquatch shows up, Edward and Jake are history. She does not have enough charisma to be as surly and moody as she is. In the short term, I can endure lack of character from a truly beautiful woman, but she is not attractive enough to be that lacking. That is why I quit going to the Dog Park. Too many totally unappealing but caustic women lurking about.

Bella’s dad is the local law and he makes Barney Fife look like Sherlock Holmes. It is hard to determine if he is a worse father or peace officer. He takes for granted that people are being murdered in the woods on a daily basis and makes little or no effort to investigate nor does he make any attempt to prevent people from venturing into those woods, not even his daughter. Chief Martin Brody wanted to close the beach after a single shark attack.

Chief Swan also allowed Bella to stay in a vegetative state for months, after she was dumped by Edward, without any intervention other than checking on her when she continually screamed with night terrors. Also, for a police chief, he seemed to take no notice of the many permanent scarring injuries that his daughter continually sustained. Disappearing to Italy for 3 days didn't even get her grounded.

The guy who plays Edward is the goofiest looking lead character in a movie since ET. His head looks like it was drawn by Picasso and his standard facial expression is the same one Skooter features when he is having a particularly difficult bowel movement or Corky Thatcher trying to solve for Pi. And it doesn’t seem to hurt the storyline that he is a 100+ year old pedophile. He loves Bella primarily because he can’t read her mind. With that logic in place I would fall in love with every woman I have ever encountered. For a guy a century old he is pretty naive. Also after a hundered plus senior classes, Bella is the best he can do? A dull, emotionless, desperate, girl next door. His previous educational experiences must have been military academies or home-schooling. I couldn't have resisted just once in a while going out for sports. We know he can play baseball.

Jake is a nicer looking guy but he attends high school on the reservation, so Bella reduces him to the "friend” zone, though she spends much of her time lusting after his lupine body. Jake can restore a motorcycle; no make that two, from junk to new condition in nothing flat. I lived in the middle of a reservation and I can assure you that 16 year old Native Americans do not have that skill set, or virtually any skill set. Bella also took it in stride that Jake morphed into a werewolf right before her eyes. I don’t think any relationship I ever had would have survived a morphing. Also, there was no full-moon involved. They stole the Incredible Hulk’s “You won’t like me when I’m mad.”

Vampire legend and lore has carefully been crafted so that we all have a basic understanding of their habits, limitations, and abilities. Not these Vampires. Fact: Vampires sleep in Caskets. Not these. They don’t sleep at all. Fact: Vampires cannot go into sunlight. These Vampires get pretty in the sun. Fact: Vampires turn into bats. Nope. Fact: Vampires can be killed by a stake through the heart. Uh uh. Gotta tear these ones apart. Fact: Vampires have to be invited into your home. Edward is a Peeping Tom as well as a Pedophile.

It is indicative of the way I view movies that I can accept Apotamkin and Lycanthrope roaming the north woods of Washington State but am put off by the fact that Bella not only has a passport and huge amounts of cash/credit, but carries it with her so that an immediate flight to Italy is possible. If I allow that to pass unchallenged, I have to get my mind around the fact that she flew roundtrip to Italy from Washington State, completed her mission, and returned in 3 days. Never mind that Forks is over 200 miles from Sea-Tac Airport and the Italian village they traveled to was remote. Never mind that in today’s airline world, I cannot be guaranteed to fly roundtrip to Charlotte in 3 days and that is without an encounter with the Volturi.

As I said, the first installment of Twilight was watchable, though not worth wasting a Netflix pick on. The New Moon chapter was a real snoozer and I am dumber for having sat through it. I could have used my pick to get something with merit, like Witless Protection.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Headaches - 5/14/2010

It is well-documented that I am a huge Seinfeld fan. Huge being the operative word here. My fellow Seinfeld aficionados will know that Jerry went without throwing up for 14 years, from 1980 to 1994. His streak ended, as all streaks eventually do, when he ate a black and white cookie that turned into David Duke and Fahrikan in his stomach.

Why am I telling you this is a post about headaches? Well, I had a similar streak end yesterday. When I was in the Air Force I had terrible migraine headaches. They varied in frequency and severity, but the worst ones caused me to remove my gun from the nightstand and put it in my safe. There is no way I could open the lockbox in the throes of a grand mal migraine. Anyone who has suffered severe migraine headaches knows that eating a bullet is a viable option. My migraines contained the following symptoms (fellow sufferers can relate):

I could not tolerate any sound. A whisper sounded like an air raid siren.

I could not tolerate any light. I had to have absolute darkness. The light under the door was as bright as the sun.

Any movement made me dizzy and nauseous. I had to be absolutely still.

I had to be as cold as I could tolerate. I was constantly rotating my pillows to find a cool spot.

If I was with someone, I would have them put as much pressure on my head as they could muster. That pressure offered a small bit of temporary relief. If I was alone, I would take an ice cold rag and push it as hard against my head as I could.

The hospital personnel at Mildenhall AB, my last assignment, would take one look at me staggering in the door and prepare a cold, dark, room and a hypodermic needle filled with some kind of narcotic. This was long before self-treatment was available. My kids can verify how severe both the illness and the treatment were. Once my son, Josh, called me soon after I arrived home from a visit to the hospital and the conversation went something like this:
“Hi dad.”
“Who is this?”
“It’s Josh.”
“Josh who?”
“Your son.”
“I don’t have a son.”
“Dad, are you ok,”
“Nope, I have a headache.”
“Oh, ok, talk to you later.”
“Who is this?”

I retired from the Air Force in late 1992 and had not had a headache of any kind for 17 years. It is pretty obvious that mine were caused by stress. I pretty much lead a stress-free existence now, except for self-induced tension that I will always seem to conjure up. Yesterday, I had a headache. By anyone’s standards that have never experienced a migraine it was a very bad headache. I think it was a sinus headache, definitely not a migraine, but it still broke my streak. It had been so long since I had a headache that it took some time for me to realize that is what was causing me to feel so poorly. When I awoke this morning, it was gone. I did not even have to take anything. Well, my gun is still in my nightstand and my days without a headache are now at one. I should twitter Jerry and find out how his current vomitless streak is progressing.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Drowning Your Troubles at Myrle Beach 5/3/2010

I was on my daily walk along Myrtle Beach. It was nearly deserted as the sun had abandoned the sky in favor of imposing storm clouds and wind. I noticed a young woman standing in the pounding surf. The waves would vary her exposure from knee deep to above her waist. It probably would not have seemed odd but she was fully clothed and not in any normal beach attire. She looked like she would have been more appropriately dressed for an office than wading. She was facing towards Portugal and even though water was splashing and the wind was howling, it was obvious she was crying.

My inclination was to walk on. Through the years I have developed immunity to women’s tears and a proclivity to not get involved in the problems of others. But there was desperation in this person that seemed imminent. So I walked to the edge of the water, within earshot, but not close enough to be threatening to her. I spoke softly but loud enough to be heard above the combers “are you all right.” She didn’t hear me or chose not to respond. The latter was the more likely. So, being the stubborn person that I am, I spoke a bit louder, using my command voice, “HEY, ARE YOU OK?’ A bit louder than I had planned, this made her body spasm, and immediately look back at me, probably fearing that an attack was forthcoming.

When she realized that I was not moving towards her, she replied unconvincingly, “yes, I’m all right, thank you.”

Her tortured face and tensely fisted hands told me that she was a bad liar and she was far from all right. “You don’t look all right,” I insisted, now engaged.

Her sobbing increased (I can have that affect) and between sniffles she shouted, “Leave me alone, I am going to end it! My life is over!”

But as she spoke, she staggered back towards the shore if only a few inches. I took this as an opening. “What could be so bad that you want to drown yourself?”
“I have nothing to live for.”

“Well, I don’t know you but surely things can’t be that bad.” I got as close to the water as I dared without my new Reebok walking shoes getting wet.

“My husband left me for another woman.”

“That is not worth killing yourself over. Sounds like he wasn’t a prize, anyway. Maybe you are better off without him.”

“He emptied our accounts and took everything.”

“That is just stuff, you can replace that.”

“I lost my job. She was my boss.”

“You can get another job.”

“They foreclosed on my house. I am homeless.”

“Lots of people are experiencing that. They find the strength to go on. There is always hope.”

I noticed a minuscule change in her demeanor and as she turned to face me I realized that beneath the despair she was very beautiful. I urged her, “come on out of the water and lets talk about it. Things are never as bad as they seem.”

She held her ground (or water) but at least her need to commit watercide had been temporarily quelled. She was at least listening. I took the initiative to continue the conversation. “You are young, beautiful, and have at least one nice outfit. You can always start over.”

Though the sobbing had stopped, the tears were still washing her cheeks. “It is so hard. I don’t know what to do. I just want the pain to be over.”

“Well, do you have any family or friends you can stay with until you get on your feet?”

“No,” she said. “All my family live up north, in Boston.” I thought I had detected a New England accent. But at least I had her talking.

“Well, let’s think positive, what do you enjoy?”

“I love baseball,” she brightened. “I am a huge Red Sox fan.”

I cringed. She suddenly did not look quite so appealing, but I managed to continue. This was a chance to save a life, after all. I took the conversation back on task. “The first thing you need is a job. What kind of work do you do?”

Sadly, she stammered, “well, up until today I worked for the South Carolina Democratic Party.”

“You know, you might be right. Life can be a real bitch. If you walk about a hundred yards that way,” pointing south, “the riptides are much stronger.“ I continued my walk up the beach.