Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The Bearista Agenda

Do People Still Use the Bandana Code?

We got a Starbucks in the hood a couple of years ago, and I became slowly, insidiously inculcated into their cult of ridiculously fancy cawfee drinks. It doesn't hurt that everyone plies me with *$s gift cards at holiday times or when I do favors for them. And since they actually filled a grande-sized void in the No-Man ghetto (we didn't have any local cafes that were open before or after work) I had no qualms about drinking the koolaid latte and becoming one of them.

As most of you know, Starbucks sells peripheral tchotchkes like mugs, horrible horrible CDs, and bears dressed in seasonal costumes, or as other animals, because that's what bears do in the wild. The smallish plush bears are called bearistas because that's funny if you're the *$s marketing veep. They've had the adorable goth bearista--a bear wearing a skeleton suit--the bizarre Easter Lamb Bearista (bizarre because really, what bear would dress itself up as a sacrifice? They're not that dumb), the kitschy Holiday Snowglobe Bearista. This season's bearista was the Gardener Bearista, a cute tan bear dressed in jeans, and a sun hat (not to be confused with the Constant Gardener Bearista, who had a gun disguised as a spade). How adorable! The bear also had an apron, and a pale blue handkerchief/bandana-looking thing in its back pocket.

What? What does that bear need a handkerchief for? Does a bear not want to wipe snot on his sleeve? And why in the back pocket? Surely it could have been designed to go into the pocket in the apron. Well, some of you may be aware of something called the bandana code, and now I will tell you that this link is NOT SAFE FOR WORK, nor is any discussion of the bandana code. Do not under any circumstances bring up the bandana code at a business lunch or especially not when having brunch with your parents.

How widely known is the bandana (sometimes called the hanky) code? These days not very. I think the heyday of the code was the 70s. I learned about it when I went to visit my aunt in San Francisco and I used to go for walks so I could smoke. I was 13. I'd walk around up and down Castro Street and once I finished my Malboro Light I'd wander into Hot Flash, an adorable store that sold condoms and dildos and pillows shaped like breasts, and publications. Informative publications! With things about local bands and bars and the hanky code. If you learn about the hanky code when you're 13, you never forget it. The hanky code teaches you about behaviors you can't even believe people think about, let alone participate in. They do what with what? How does it fit?

Anyway, the gardener bearista has a pale blue hanky in its back left pocket. At least what the bear wants isn't too outrageous, although red with black stripes may have been more appropriate.

Most of the Starbucks are sadly sold out of the gardener bearista, but you can find the on ebay if you have any friends who are aficionados of the hanky code.

Now, I'm not saying the gardener bearista designer is aware of the hanky code. However, most designers I know are well-versed in pop-cultural references. I'm just saying is all.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Live Book Blogging

Today’s Book: The Areas of My Expertise by John Hodgman

I’m a big fan of the concept of live blogging. No, I’m lying. I think it’s self-indulgent and it indicates that the blogger has a much bigger sense of self than is usually warranted. Also, sometimes it’s better to sit and think about things. That’s what I learned, every time I did something stupid when I was a kid. Binky, go in your room and think about what you’ve done. Usually I came to the conclusion that I didn’t go far enough, and perhaps if I had thought things out beforehand I wouldn’t be sitting in my room thinking about things. I’d be at the hospital or the police station thinking about things.

That said, I have decided to join the world of live bloggers. Not because I think what I have to say “on the fly” is that interesting, but it’s just easier than having to consider my essay and structure it and so on. That’s such a lot of work! I’ve already live-blogged Puppy-Bowl II, but actually, that was a lie. I wasn’t really live-blogging. I was tivo-blogging. So, I guess that makes me a real journalist now!

My first live blogging experiment will be John Hodgman’s The Areas of My Expertise. Of course, this led me into a sticky corner—how to live-blog a book? I suppose I could bring a tape recorder with me when I read on the subway, and record my thoughts as I read, but I don’t have enough hands. Also, then I’d join the ranks of crazy people who talking into tape recorders about books on the subway.

So my solution was to simulate live-blogging, by trying to remember what I thought while I was reading on the subway, and also listening to Chris Weingarten’s best of 2005 mixtape CD. I know that’s kind of an oxymoron—there was no “best of” in 2005! And the CD bears that out beautifully.

At the beginning of the book, Mr. Hodgman invites the reader to write if he/she finds any actual facts that have accidentally gotten into the book. Unfortunately, there are too many facts, so I have decided to keep a list of the errors to those facts, most of which I think were entirely unintentional.

1. Mr. Hodgman, your name is misspelled. It should be Hodgeman. That’s on the cover. Oh, did I tell you we’re going in sequential order by age? We are.

2. How is it that my edition is the 4th printing? Really?

3. This book is paginated in the European fashion. That’s a bug, I believe, and not a feature.

4. I was not reading your Good Evening chapter in the evening, nor did I have a window to gaze out of. Now I feel as cheated as when I found out that the vinyl version of De La Soul’s 3 Feet High and Rising was missing a song that was listed on the jacket. I’ve forgotten which song, but it was the best one.

Page 34: my cats say that illustration is photoshopped.

Page 36: The zipcode for the fake PO Box is incorrect. It should be 10116.

7. Damn, this song by The Streets f. Kano, Donae’o, Lady Sovereign and Tinchy Stryder sucks. Also, why did it take so many of them to make such a terrible song?

8. Lady, make your kid sit still. Also, next time? Go a little lighter on the parfum.

Table. 9: You cannot be a lawful neutral Paladin. You have to be lawful good.

OK. More to be added.