Tuesday, July 26, 2016

You, Porn, and the Age of Sad Millennials. (+ how to fix it!)

(NSFW language warning and all that, as usual)

A respected friend of mine voiced a strong opinion that porn is bad. 

It treats people as objects, and she wished people wouldn't watch it. She argued that the Actors, and the Viewers, were both poisoned by the porn.

It turns the act of sex, and its participants, into something of far less value. Reducing the act of lovely miraculous baby making into sweaty, apathetic, lubed up grunts for all to see... for a fee.

I had to argue with her a bit on that.
I've worked with people in the adult film industry, and have subsequently seen the other side, as it were.

Now with anything, there are bad apples and exceptions-- but we're talking about the overall industry, at the professional level.

Porn, officially, isn't a slave trade. The actors are enjoying themselves. They're both tested ahead of time, cleaned up, and respect each other. They're getting paid well to do things they agreed upon ahead of time. Mutually consenting adults having fantasized, exaggerated sex with varying degrees of kinkiness. They both feel great because thousands of people want to see them naked.

Imagine how well that does for your self esteem!

This isn't lovemaking. This is plain sex, amped up for the camera. Real sex and porn sex are very different.
The actors know this. They feel and understand the difference. And, just like you and me, they too want loving fulfilling relationships with true, genuine affection. Many actors, after a few years in the business, quit and lead normal healthy lives.

Imagine that. They weren't even ruined!

Anyhow, I'm not going to debate porn and its goods & bads.

After all, porn itself isn't to blame for its popularity. Porn is simply filling a massive need. It's answering a call. Responding to the searches people constantly send.

If nobody wanted porn, it simply wouldn't be there.

But why is porn so prevalent, especially in Western culture? Why can't we just find fulfilling, loving relationships with actual living breathing people? Why do we need porn at all?

Porn's popularity is just a tiny symptom of something much, much larger.

It's a 5-part puzzle that adds up to Sadness - especially for Millennials.

1. It starts when we're young- disguised as helpful esteem building.

"You get a trophy for showing up."
"You are special."
"You can be anything you want! You can be an astronaut rockstar president of the United States!"
"Because of the above things, you deserve the best and nothing less."

So when you grow up, these little statements are swimming in your mind, as you work away in your realistic job (which is probably middle management at best, not moviestarbillionaire.)

It translates to you deserve a fucking ten. The absolute hottest guy/gal on Earth is waiting for you because You. Are. Amazing.

2. All day you're bombarded with images of happy tens.

So you go out into the world with sexual needs. But satisfying those needs requires much, much more than it should normally. Your standards are set impossibly high.

Literally thousands of times per day you see ridiculously good looking people on every product, ad, billboard, and screen. Everywhere a hot face can be photoshopped and placed, it is.

Every man in those pictures is tall with chiseled abs and a thick head of hair. Every woman has a flat stomach, great tits, and tight glutes. They are tens to begin with, then they're photoshopped into twelves.

Near their smiling faces are headlines like





3. You look at them. Then you look at yourself.

Sadness sets in a little bit. A tiny moment of self-loathing. A little twinge of doubt. But you ignore it for now.

If only someone would love you for you.

You still deserve a ten, though. Because inside, you're a ten yourself!

Sure, you're flabby and kinda pale and you're still not a rockstar racecar driver.... yet. But you deserve a ten. Nothing less.

You go home after another long shitty day, and...

4. There you sit, feeling ugly, and the sexual needs are still there. 

And the longer they remain unfulfilled, the more cloudy your head gets.

Soon, that cloudiness invades other parts of your life. It affects your decision making. It affects your confidence at work and in public.

Suddenly innocuous things really bother you.
Randomly, you just get wickedly depressed. Or angry.

You feel at any moment you could burst. Or do something rash, or hurtful.

Then the TV comes on. Happy sexy people again. It's a commercial. They're fishing together, or swinging in a hammock.

"Are you sad? Lonely? Limp penis, dusty vagina?... 


And that, my friends, is how America works. 
They show you the unattainable American dream. They tease you with an impossible reality, so your own seems less than adequate, and you'll buy their products and their pills to try and fill the void.

Forget that.

So instead, you load up a few minutes of porn, have at it, and release some of that mental mess.

Is it ideal? No.

It's nowhere near actual human interaction and affection. But it's better than nothing.

 At least now you won't stutter and drool whenever someone halfway attractive is near you.

Now where's the harm in that? I'd say the porn was helpful to you - in moderation. It kept you outwardly normal for the time being.

So here's what you should do. Take a spoonful of truth with me.

Stop buying into the notion of you being special and deserving a kingdom of admiration for just being alive.

You're not special, and you don't deserve shit. What they told you was a lie.

But it's okay. Most people are not special.

Everything you have, you have to earn yourself! And you might not even get what you want after all that hard work.

Realize this: 99.9% of the time, you aren't a 10. Thus, do not expect to get a 10.

In fact, you're likely between a 4 and a 6. That's what most people are.
You might even be a 2. Or worse.

Heck. You could be a 10 in Omaha, but a 4 in Los Angeles.

The sooner you realize what you actually are, the sooner you'll aim for the correct hotness level, and therefore have more success and a fulfilling sex life. This requires some bravery, but I promise you, it'll save you a ton of grief in the long run.

Even a 1 has other 1s that will date them. The trick is aiming for a similar number you are.

Or aim a little higher, but don't expect to succeed.
If you're a 3 and you bag a 5, holy shit good for you. But if you fail and end up with a 3 like you, that's good too!

Basically, lower your expectations a lot, and you'll be happy.

In fact, the best sex I ever had was with a 6. That 6 was the best damn thing that ever happened to me. She was happy with me for who I was, too.

The 8? Horrible. She was an asshole the whole time and I regret it.

One secret though. Don't tell her or him that you read this blog and took this advice. Nobody wants to be told they're less than amazing.

Now get out there and find true love! Even if they're kinda stinky and not exactly ripped.

Then, maybe, we won't need porn anymore.  :)

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Why Men Send D**k Pics. (and it's all your fault)

If you're a happily married adult, or are otherwise in a fulfilling relationship, then you need not worry about this post. Close this window and simply continue living.


But if you're a single woman and you're deep into the dating scene - especially online dating like POF/OKCupid/Tinder etc - then it's likely you've encountered a hefty number of 'Dick Pics.'

A dick pic is a picture of a dude's wiener, sent with the main objective of gaining a woman's admiration or attention. Often the photo has been meticulously crafted with brooding shadows and perfect lighting, a masterful piece of vascular crotch meat chosen from a sea of sad attempts. (Similar to the selfies you ladies take)

Usually said dick pic is sent in place of a "Hello, my name is X" as a way to break the ice.

Straight up. Just here's my penis, I hope you like it. That's it.

Since the invention of the smartphone, I've wondered why any self respecting man would do such a thing as sending an introductory dick pic.

First, it's risky. These days once it's on the internet, it's on there forever. You can get slapped with a restraining order, or worse, be labeled a sex offender.

Obviously that's not the smoothest way to approach a lady, right? I mean there are countless other, better ways to get a woman's attention, I thought.

I'm all out of ideas. Here's my penis!

Then I tried online dating. Years went by.

And now I get it.

I totally and completely understand the logic of skipping all the pleasantries and just going straight for the Dick Pic Strategy:
Here's my penis, take it or leave it. If you dig it, let's do this. If not, simply ignore me like you would have anyhow, and save us both the hassle.

Would I send a dick pic? No.
Well, not yet.

Although at this point I'm completely out of alternative ideas.

Now let's get something out of the way first.
Some guys are just sickos.
They're crude, rude, sloppy, gross jerks to the core. They send their dick pics because that's all they're capable of doing as the misogynistic pigs that they are. Truthfully though, these types are exceptionally rare. They are the 1% of the male population that are just absolute scum. I apologize for them. Us Normal Guys don't want these freaks around either.

But that's only 1% of dick pic senders.

The remaining 99% of dick pic senders started off as decent Normal Guys.

Normal Guys who are employed, have hobbies and interests, shower regularly, have something to offer, and genuinely want to love and be loved for their true selves.

So what happened, you may wonder?
I'll show you precisely how it happens.

Sunday I went on a date.

I found this one on POF. She would be just my 2nd date in the last year. Let's call her Dezi.

  • She was 26 (I'm 30) and was nearly finished earning her Master's in Psychology.
  • She helps families with mentally disabled children, but specializes as a marriage counselor. She boasted that directly telling a man what she wants is the best way to get and keep a man.
  • She was once seriously overweight (cultivating a terrific personality), but exercise and determination has since changed her into a beautiful swan. (so now she's also outwardly sexy)
  • She's single, never married or divorced, attends church. No children, but wants them.
  • She's the oldest of 6 kids, just like me.
That's right. A well-spoken marriage counselor who loves kids and wants her own, but has none. Dezi has an attractive woman's body but with an ugly woman's personality. Men call this The Holy Grail.

As an added bonus, she initially Favorited Me. That never happens. In fact I didn't even know that was possible until her.

I messaged Dezi and she responded with complete sentences. She even carried on the conversation. She spelled words correctly. Her grammar was flawless. Online dating veterans know how special that is.

We exchange numbers. We talk on the phone for hours. We have plenty in common, but also enough differences to keep each other intrigued.

About a week later, after regular chit chat back and forth, we pick Tempe Marketplace on a breezy Sunday afternoon to meet for the first time. Before our date, I notice she has removed her POF profile photos. Perhaps she has high hopes for me? Enough to put her own search for a man on pause.

So we meet at Barnes & Noble at Tempe Marketplace.
Dezi's dressed casually, but conservatively. A light touch of makeup, and long dark hair. Just how I like it.

Conversation comes on smoothly. We each have a beer at Thirsty Lion, her choice. Her body language is attentive, but relaxed, matching my own. Neither of us touch our phones the entire time.

I sense she is someone who needs to be in control. Her standards must be sky high, to be single for 'four years by choice' at her age and stature. She's Mexican, coming from a big family, so there must be pressure to crank out babies by now. But she's held off. Education and career comes first, and I respect that.

Dezi extends the date by suggesting Nectar afterward. We walk to the fruity-aired blender buzzing place. She offers me a taste of her smoothie, I oblige, then she sips mine. Big smiles and giggles from her. Our conversation continues without feeling forced. It bends around topics both light and heavy, silly and insightful. I feel like she's been my friend already.

Eventually we take turns going to the restroom, and at around 140 minutes into the date, she says she has to go. Her Monday paper needs work.

Fine by me, I was running out of extroversion anyhow.

I walk her to her car, she gives me a High School hug, and grins.

I tell her I think she's a sweetheart, and would like to meet her again.

She says 'me too', she smiles again, the breeze teases her hair, and we go our separate ways.

When I get home, around 30 minutes later, I send a short text thanking her for meeting me, and that I enjoyed it.

'Me too :)' Dezi replies.

And that was it.

After that she probably died for all I know, and I wasn't invited to the funeral.

'Ghosting' is the main breakup tactic of Millennials. It makes things worse for everyone.

The next afternoon, I send her a single text asking her if she likes cosmic bowling, perhaps this coming weekend.

I might as well have asked how she likes to be murdered. Zero responses.

Keep in mind, before our date, Dezi was ultra chatty with texts and phone calls. This behavior was the total opposite.

A second day goes by. Still tumbleweeds.

Her POF profile pictures are back in action. She's online now, actually.

I have been ghosted. She ghosted me.

Now for those of you not familiar with the term, 'ghosting' is a way to rid yourself of someone by completely vanishing without any given reason. It's a way of dumping someone without having to explain why. This avoids confrontation, but also fails in helping that person fix whatever caused the breakup in the first place. So they are likely doomed to repeat that same behavior. This not only kills a chance at personal growth or reconciliation, but also may hamper other dates in the future.

Now here's where things get tricky.

Does she owe me an explanation? One could say she doesn't owe me anything.

Even though I paid for the date, and took the time out of my day for her, I don't deserve a single reply text afterward. Somewhere along the way, a thought flicked in her brain that I wasn't the right one.

She can do what she wants, and although she's a MARRIAGE COUNSELOR WHO PROBABLY KNOWS HOW UNBELIEVABLY IMPORTANT COMMUNICATION IS and she specifically stated that CLEAR DIRECT COMMUNICATION OF NEEDS IS CRUCIAL she chose to ghost me. So I have to respect her choice.

But shit, why did I try so hard? I could have showed up chewing on a baby carcass, screaming satanic sonnets, and she would have acted exactly the same way afterward.

Now I've definitely screwed up on dates in the past.
And I've been on a lot of dates (other than lately) so I can sense the immediate moment when a woman flinches or recoils, or uncrosses and recrosses her legs because I said the wrong thing.
I can see when her pupils flare or constrict, or her throat swallows for an uncomfortable second because I did something wrong.

I painstakingly reviewed the date in my mind. Scanned every detail. Every sentence and inflection for possible problems.

I'm accustomed to the tiny cues that highlight my failure.
But none of those happened.

In her eyes, you may make a mistake during a 2 hour date that ruins your chances. 
She won't tell you when it happened though - as if failure was her goal. 

I was 100% Actual Me.
I said some silly things a few times, but she played it right back at me. The flow and mood never died or choked.

I felt like I did as well as I could have. I kept it clean, clear, and consistent. I was the same guy she spoke to on the phone, and remained that guy throughout the date.

So without any failure I could see, my mind begins to eat away at me over meaningless crap.
Did I lean forward too much or not enough? Was that joke too strange? Did that reference offend her? Did I choose the wrong beer? Was I too short or too fat? Did I appear too interested? Is my hair too long? Should I have flirted more or less? Are my shoes too old?

This is what happens when someone gets ghosted. They're left to rot in their own filthy doubts.

Now I wasn't in love with her by any means. Heck, I barely decided if I even wanted her. That's what second dates are for. The first date is nothing more than an interview of sorts.

There was one date, where numerous imperceptible tells were exchanged and ultimately we both left lonelier than before. This is not how dating between intelligent, reasonable adults should be.

Anyway, so back to dick pics.

In the modern dating game so far,  I've tried everything that isn't sending a dick pic:
  • Being funny.
  • Being serious.
  • Being myself.
  • Being someone else.
  • Giving up and just letting things happen.
  • Trying hard because things didn't happen.
  • Being busy.
  • Being available.
  • Being affectionate.
  • Being aloof.
  • Fancy dinners.
  • Casual coffees.
  • Working out.
  • Not working out.
  • Being healthy.
  • Fuck it eating pizza.
Only to get ghosted.

So I'm out of ideas. I am completely out of ideas.

All this work, all this time, money, and aggravation and all I'm left with is confusion and self doubt.

I'm at the Crossroads. On the left is Women Simply Telling Men What to Do or Fix on Dates So Things Will Work Out Nicely in Most Cases and on the right is Dick Pics.

We need your help ladies. Just a little bit. We want to be better for you.

So here's what to do.
Here's how to stop the vast majority of dick pics.

If a guy messes up on a date, tell him what it was.
But, and this is key, be HONEST. It has to be the REAL reason it didn't work for you, as harsh as it may sound.

Hell, text it to him if you're afraid of confrontation.

Him: Hey Sally, golly you were swell. Let's meet again.
You: It was great to meet you too, but I don't see it working out. I just can't get over your racist rant at the deli earlier.
Him: But I HATE Samoan dogs!
You: sry


Him: Hey babe, I had fun. Movie next Saturday?

You: I appreciate the offer, but I have to pass, I'm sorry. I have a thing for ridiculously long nose hair. It just ruins it for me.





Him: NOOOOoooo....


See? It's not that bad.

If he then chooses to freak out and get defensive, THEN you can ghost him. You were going to anyway.

At least you gave the guy a chance to think it over and either work on improving himself, or completely ignore it. The next woman he encounters on a date will appreciate it.

Don't you want better men on dates? Then be proactive about it.

See up until this point, millennial men did their best, failed, got confused and thought:

What's WRONG with me? Ugh all that time and effort what did I do wrong? AAARGH! Forget it! DICK PICS FROM NOW ON I have nothing else to lose anyhow.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Andrew's MR2 vs Elise SC vs Alfa Romeo 4C

You know how every car guy has that one story he cherishes forever?

Well today was that day.


So I'm cruising down the 51 South as usual, when merging from a nearby onramp pops BOTH of my personal dream cars.

A black Alfa Romeo 4C, fresh off the dealer lot, and a black Lotus Elise Supercharged.

I'm a couple cars behind them, watching them flirt with each other as they weave through the crowd.

I turn off the A/C, downshift and gun it.

Which in a 230,000 mile MR2 doesn't produce much.

But they run into heavier traffic, so I make it up behind the Alfa.

It's wider than I thought it would be. The magazine photos and internet videos don't do this car justice.
I flip my headlights up and down.
They've noticed me now, the Elise driver gives me a wave out the window.

We trade places few times, giving little jabs of the throttle among each other.

Traffic clears aside, and all three of us short wheelbase mid-engine sportscars exit Camelback.

The light is green as a spring lawn, and all three cars are heard rev-matching a downshift.

Here's the race lineup:

Above: 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C
2487 lbs. 237hp. 0-60mph in 4.5 seconds

Above: 2008 Lotus Elise SC
2041 lbs. 218hp. 0-60mph in 4.3 seconds.

Above: 1993 Toyota MR2 (NA)
2650 lbs. Like 130hp or so. 0-60mph in some time today.

To give you an idea of how small these three cars are, a new Mustang weighs 3526-3705 pounds dry. A new Camaro? Up to 4300lbs.

The Lotus is less than HALF a Camaro. And now its brake lights flash red in front of me as we approach the double S corners at full speed.

Lotus is in front, then me, then the brand new Alfa.

The first left, Lotus and I gas through 100% committed, Alfa isn't sure what to do.

Alfa falls back a bit, he's a mess.

Tight right hand ahead, Lotus knows what he's doing. I match his line from outside left, gas through the turn, kissing the apex, powering out. It's a perfect dance between us.

During those two turns, I was in all my glory. The sounds of their engines mixed with mine, all stretched to the limit, tires chirping, gears winding, pipes blasting.

Alfa gets schooled by me and Lotus, but now the road has straightened out and it becomes crystal clear how far technology has come since 1993.

The Lotus disappears ahead, and the Alfa slingshots by my right side like I'm parked in place.

God, the sound it made. Like a blender of giant hornets and lasers during a hurricane.

The road weaves right then left slightly, and brings us to the 16th street and Camelback intersection.

Lotus and Alfa are grouped together again in the left lane, looking docile at the stoplight.

I ease in behind them with a huge smile on my face.

Alfa driver gives me a thumbs up in his rear view mirror. I return it.

Light turns green, and we all go our separate ways.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Andrew Disappoints a Crowd.

Lonely Saturday night, I have nothing to do.

Figure I'll go to Scottsdale Pavilions car show, because that's where I'm in my element.

So I roll in a bit after 7pm, in my crusty black MR2.

I enter through the back, to avoid the busy rows, where all the popular cars are.

And there I see it.

In the shadows, unnoticed.

A real Noble M400.

Now, most people don't know what a Noble M400 is, so I've provided a picture.

This is exactly what it looked like.

This is a rare gem. For the price of a Corvette, the Noble annihilates everything. It puts Lamborghinis, Porsches, and Ferraris to shame regularly. The body is British, the engine is American, twin turbocharged 6 cylinder.

It weighs 2300lbs. To give you an idea of how stupid light that is, a Mini Cooper weighs 2,895.

I park the MR2 beside the Noble. They are about the same size, but the Noble has 4 times the power, and infinitely faster at 3.2 seconds to 60mph.

I'm admiring the Noble's curvature, its design meticulously planned with one single purpose- perfect performance.

I hear a voice behind me.

"Soo, what is it?"

I turn around, it's an older gentleman, with his two young sons.

I tell them what the car is, and smile proudly.

"A what?"

So I explain what kind of engine it has, where it's from and why. How for $60,000, you can either buy a Corvette like everyone else, or get this Noble and be king of the world.

His sons are in love with it, and ask to take pictures with it. I say sure, just be careful.

Now a couple in their 20s nudges closer. She's looking through the window, in awe of the sparse, racy interior.

Her boyfriend asks me this and that about the Noble. So I answer him too.

Suddenly there's a crowd around me.

They think I own this car.

I look at my shoes, I'm dressed nicely, after meeting a client. I seem to know everything about a car no one's seen before. Clearly I must be the owner.

The Noble and I are completely encircled now. People are taking pictures, filming me explaining who manufactures the M400's body, and how you can buy one.

I'm given about a dozen handshakes. The crowd keeps getting larger, with whispers of "Who is this guy?"  "Wait isn't he from that one show you like?"  "I don't think so?"  "He looks familiar."  "I wonder what he does!"

For 22 minutes, Andrew Centrella was a Somebody.

Not once did I say the Noble was mine.
They all just assumed it was.

So after a mom thanked me for letting her kids pose for a picture with the Noble, I shook some more hands, and said it was time for me to go.

I took out my keys.

The crowd perked up.

They were going to hear the Noble come to life!

Oh, what thunderous music would bless them now!

I wave to them, they step back...

and I unlock the MR2.

"W...what." I hear a man say.

"Oh you gotta be shittin me..." another groans.


The people disperse, I smile and drive away, dripping bits of oil in the process.

Friday, January 16, 2015

I did something absolutely stupid crazy. But I'm glad.


So I'm sitting outside Pizza Heaven, near 7th st and Colter, eating a slice in my car and listening to the Suns game.

It's a small parking lot, filled up with 10 cars.

I'm parked at the far corner, facing the sidewalk. There are rows of apartment buildings across the street, which is six lanes wide.

Rush hour is over. The remaining traffic is infrequent and sleepy.

Al McCoy bows out for a commercial break, so I turn it down, deciding to people watch for a moment.

Perfect timing.

I'm facing the street, so I have a clear, almost panoramic view.

Across it is a slender girl walking in a hurry along the sidewalk.
She's wearing jeans and a hoodie, her arms wrapped tightly around herself. Something seems off. Anxiety. Fear.

"Fuckin BITCH what the fuck you doin?! I'm talkin to YOU! FUCKIN IDIOT!"

The voice echoes. A raspy 20-something male's. It's an ugly voice.

Shortly after the hollering appears its source.

This guy is loud and mean. Skinned head. Black sweatshirt, baggy jeans.


She's got about 40 feet ahead of him. He's not running after her, but he wants to.

Between each awful, abusive scream at her, he looks around, hoping no one's noticing.

But we all are. It was almost surreal. Who yells like that in public?

A person appears in a window of the apartment building, and says something down to him from the top floor.

Skinhead stops, looking up at the person and screams obscenities at them instead.

Good. It buys her another 20 feet.

I quietly step out of the MR2, being sure to grab the last slice of pepperoni and a napkin.

I'm not certain what I'm doing, yet. I'll watch and see. Might have to call the cops or something.


He's continuing after her now.

I'm discreetly walking on the opposite end of the street, keeping pace with him from a distance.

A couple on bicycles ride up to me. I share a nod with one of them as they pass, and keep following Skinhead.


This guy is bad news. I don't know the whole story, but no one deserves that kind of evil abuse screamed at them.

I have to stop him. But I'm no superhero.

And this pizza is really good.

We've passed at least a dozen other people. Men, mostly. They all saw and definitely heard Skinhead. But no one's doing anything. No one's saying anything. They all want to, but no one is. The girl is completely alone with an absolute psycho jerk after her in plain sight.

I've hurried my pace. Now I'm even with Skinhead. The girl is ahead of him, but he's closed some of the gap.

He notices me with a quick glance. Then stops and stares.

So I do too. I stop and stare at him, eating my pizza.


I watch him, chewing my pizza. It has just the right amount of crispiness, and the mozzarella is respectable.


Swallowing my bite, I pause.

"A crazy guy," I say. Loud enough so he can hear, but matter-of-factly.

I smile and take another bite of my pizza at him.


I made my eyes as wide as I could make them. I stretched my smile so wide it hurt.

Dropping my slice to the ground. Arms at my sides.

And froze, just like that. In the dark.

She's far away now, but my eyes stay glued to him. Swollen and piercing.

He's completely weirded out. Big time. Changing from aggression to confusion, to fear, now back to confusion.


I still haven't blinked. My cheeks are starting to burn, holding that grin.

"GO AWAY! LEAVE ME ALONE!" he swipes the air in front of him.

I open my mouth now. As big as I can, keeping my eyes wide open, directly at him. I thought of Zoltar and became him.

Skinhead steps into the street, a car dashes in front of him. He steps back.

Skinhead's breathing hard now, unsure of what to do. His gaze flicks to the side, then back at me.

The girl is gone. He's lost her. Now there's some fucking weirdo staring at him with pizza sauce and a creepy smile on his face.

On the inside I'm freaking out. What the hell am I doing? Is this actually working? She got away, at least.


My smile goes away. I tilt my head at him and frown. That did it.

He hurries into the Starbucks behind him. Looking over his shoulder at me a couple times.

The door closes behind him.

I light a cigarette and enjoy the breeze.

He'll find her eventually. But not tonight. She got away for now. I'm happy about that. I turn south, returning to Pizza Heaven where the MR2 waits.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Andrew Tries Skateboarding as an Adult

So the other day I saw how empty The Wedge Skate Park was. It’s a mile from my apartment, so I figured I get to skate there all day, with the park to myself! A childhood dream!

I got today’s schedule cleared. It’s skateboard day. I’m doing this. I have plenty of disposable income, and I deserve something nice.

So I roll up to Scottsdale Sidewalk Surfer, relieved that it’s still there after all these years.

I park in the tiny lot behind the shop.

There’s a guy about my age crouched in the shade, having a cigarette and a Rockstar energy drink.

“Good afternoon!” I say, too excitedly.

“Heyhowsihgoin,” he tells the ground.

I skip around to the front door. Nostalgic stickers of brands from the good old days cover the entrance.

The door glides open, and I’m slapped in the face with things I don’t understand.

Who are these names, these companies, what is this. No.

Most of the store is packed floor to ceiling with clothing, shoes, sunglasses, stickers and other accessories. Everything related to skateboarding without actually skateboarding.

Behind some massive sale racks of shorts and hats, I see the wall.

Yes, the wall of decks. I’ve missed it.

A lone employee, college aged, is handling a gaggle of 12 year olds and their mom.

They’re keeping him busy, perhaps a little stressed.

It’s okay, I want some alone time with this place.

I scan every item in the glass cases. The engineering behind all the bits has changed. They’re sleeker, lighter and stronger now.

I recognize a few brands, like Spitfire. There’s a dusty Element deck, signed by their skate team from 1999 hanging up high. It’s a farewell deck.

Those old pro skaters are probably fat and nursing a bad hip by now.

I look back at the door, then the kids, and I feel like leaving.

But then I see it. A classic Black Label deck. It’s got the little elephant on it. I like it. Behind that one is the memorable Toy Machine devil, but the deck is 8.75” wide, too big for my taste.

Okay, everything’s going to be okay.

I’ll just… I’ll just ask for what I remember and hopefully they understand me.

The kids are ADHD and are pointing at stuff and touching things they won’t actually buy.

Then a backdoor opens and shuts.
The guy from outside emerges.

He sees the noisy kids and tries to remain unnoticed.

“Hey, would you mind helping me for a moment?” I say to him.

“No problem!” he thankfully heads over to me. We’re on the opposite end of the service counter, where it’s dimmer. More pleasant.

“So what’s up man?” he says, scratching what remains of his surfer dude hair.

“I’d like an entire setup. But it’s… it’s been a long time,” I tell the wall of decks behind him.

“How long, brosef?”

“At least 13 years.”

“Ah. Well you’re in the right spot. This is the classics section.”

“Wha… what? Classics?”

“Yeahp. I hear ya,” he grimaces and gives a nod to the kids, “We’re old now, man. Shit’s different now.”

“How different?”

“Whale, y’see these trucks here?” he points to some sleek new truck set. I don’t recognize it.


“Freakin made a hollowed out titanium now. Feather light and strong as hell.”

He hands one to me. It’s laser-cut, perfectly shiny, barely heavier than air.

“Do… do you just have like… you know the regular kind?”

“Stickin to whatcha know, eh? My kinda guy. I keep a set of oh-gee Independents hidden away just in case a guy like you shows up.”

He reaches down low inside a hidden compartment, and reveals the Independent trucks I remember.

He blows dust off them and rubs them carefully with a cloth.

“I still run these. These make sense. Don’t tell the kids workin here though, they’ll make fun of us.”

“I too fear change,” I reply.

We both laugh.

He tells me his name. Aaron. He works here for fun. Has nothin’ better to do, he says.
I ask him what happened to Black Panther, the bearings I used to love. He said they ‘kinda dropped off’ and Black Label has broken into sub-brands. Emergency is a new brand of old skaters stuck in their ways. The ‘classics’ he kept saying. That’s the stuff and the names I remembered and understood.

Aaron builds my skateboard, which seems much faster now than it used to be.
He had this little compression tool thing that put the bearings in the wheels in seconds. He asked if I wanted logos or cutouts in my grip tape. I asked if they just have the normal kind, like Black Magic.

He nodded with a knowing smile, and found an old strip of it.

He mentioned that the wheels now are better, harder plastic. Not rubbery, no more uneven wear, he said.

So I let him pick the wheels: 56mm ‘Bones’ wheels.

I take the free stickers that came with all the glossy new skateboard parts and noticed something.

These logos, all of them, are warning signs of what’s to come.
Not even trying to hide it. Like its sole purpose is to scare me away from doing what I’m about to do.

Look at this jagged fireball. Heartburn. Pain.
Bones. The logo is literally broken bones and a skull.
There’s a cutout for spray paint, so you can vandalize easily. Next to it says “CHOOSE DEATH”

14 year old me would have been all over that. Current me worries about how irresponsible I’m being for not having health insurance.

The other customers have long cleared out. I pay for the board. $157, built entirely how I wanted it.

“Well ya wanna go try it out, man?” Aaron asks, holding it out to me like I’m about to be Knighted.


“Okay, I’ll watch!”

So we both go out front.

I step on the board, cruise up about 10 yards along the sidewalk.

“Wow this is smooth as silk! These new bushing designs are too loose for my liking, but buttery smooth. Not a sound from the wheel bearings either!”

“Sweet huh!” he calls back, lighting a cigarette, “Do an ollie!”

An Ollie. Easy. I can do those.

My brain tells my feet, hips and legs what to do but that’s not what happens.

What happened was a contorting seizure of rocks and scrapes. A hard clatter of softened 9-5 office job body on hot pavement.

The board rolled out lazily into the street, mocking me.
Cars honked and drove around it.

Aaron’s laughing his ass off. I would be too, but I’m too busy moaning in agony.

When did this hurt so much? God. Oww my back. My knees, my ear, my left elbow. Why. What happened to me. This was a poor decision.

It took a good few minutes for me to stand up and retrieve the board. One hand rubbing my spine. 

Aaron’s still laughing.

“Maybe I should just learn to golf?” I holler to him.

“Golfing SUCKS though!” he yells back, smiling.

He gives me a fistbump-goodbye and I hobble back to the MR2, already sweaty.

But happy.


Sunday, August 10, 2014

I Watched The New Ninja Turtles Movie So You Won't Have To.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014) movie review

At first, I wanted someone to go see Michael Bay's new teenage mutant ninja turtles movie with me.

Then I stopped and realized that would be a terrible idea.

Odds are I'd be pissed. Maybe even get sick halfway through.

So I went to Scottsdale Fashion Square's Harkins theater alone. 4:30pm show, on a Sunday.

Matinee showings usually have much smaller crowds.

But it's during the day, so although there are less viewers, many of them are children.

I got there early. Bought a small popcorn and a small root beer from a munchkin girl, for like $50.

F* it. I'm doing this. I'm going all the way.

As the preview for Dolphin Tale 2 concluded, I had already finished the bag.

Picking kernels from my teeth, I moved down to closer seating. Front and center. I needed to see and live every frame of this film. I needed to give it the best possible chance.

The movie begins with hints of weaponry slicing assorted fruits and cinder blocks, that appear from darkness.

The creators must like Fruit Ninja, a cellphone game they probably play in the middle of a first date.

No, no. These turtles live in a sewer. So they have to practice on whatever floats on down, right?

Slicing up turds and used condoms wouldn't make the PG-13 cut.

So it's gotta be fresh seedless watermelon for sewer ninjutsu development training.

Sigh. I'm already defending this film two minutes in. This isn't looking good.

Please, please be good. No, just. Just be halfway decent. I love you, ninja turtles. Please, please don't hurt me with this reboot.

Megan Fox appears right away. In case half of you were already leaving the theater.
Bay uses her as cheap, desperate bait. To make sure you realize how hot Fox is, every other line is someone hitting on her.
She's supposed to be April O'Neil.
With dark, flowing hair that should be red. Or at least a deep auburn. I don't know.

Anyway, Megan Fox whines lines as best as she can. The scenery is overly saturated, vibrant brightness to exaggerate her tan and blasting pink lips. It looks like Michael Bay's Transformers movies immediately, in this way.

I'm about to fall asleep when suddenly there's a turtle tease.

Forget what you know and remember about ninja turtles. These aren't them.

These new guys are huge. Massive, muscular, vascular, CGI tanks.

When Leonardo reveals himself for the first time, flipping down from like 300 feet in the air, cement cracks and crumbles under the sheer impact of his extremeness.

These guys are 15 years old. 5'3'' or so. But not in Michael Bay's world.

Michael Bay shot the ninja turtles up with steroids, then turned their lovable faces into something between a shaved hamster and a disfigured premature infant.

You know who looks more like the real ninja turtles? Whoopi Goldberg. She's in this movie.
With shaved eyebrows. What the F is that. Why?

Stop it, Andrew. Stop it. This isn't the '90s. These are new turtles for a new audience. You're old. You're a has-been. This is what people want now. This is making millions and millions of dollars. Michael Bay knows what's good. Not you.

Splinter appears. He's a tough sensei in this one. For the first time ever, he's shown as a super kickass fighting rat, utilizing his tail like a doom tentacle.

Splinter is clearly better than the turtles. He holds his own quite well against Shredder. Who's basically Iron Man now, but with more blades.

The Shredder, let's talk about him. His real name is never uttered (Oroku Saki), his motivations aren't either. He's just a bad guy. He's gonna do bad stuff because he's bad. Luckily, not a single police officer exists in New York City. So it'll be super easy.

Tohoru Masamune plays Shredder when he's not being a giant bladed robot thing.
He gets a couple little scenes, speaking in thunderous japanese. He's scary and tall. I like him, and wish there was more of him.

Karai, who should be a merciless ninja assassin, is just there because somebody has to be.
Her bones should have shattered when she was steamrolled by a turtle, then thrown like a ragdoll into a brick wall.
But next scene her hair is still lovely, and she's shouting orders to forgettable Foot soldiers, bright as can be.

The origin story of the ninja turtles has been completely redone. That's right, they exist because Megan Fox saved them.

Fuck you, Michael Bay. Just for that.

.. at least they aren't aliens. For a second there, Bay was gonna make them aliens.


Throughout the film, when Megan Fox isn't being hit on, the turtles do their best to be funny. Michaelangelo almost works. Unfortunately, he's been turned into an annoying club bro "hey gurl, come on gurl, yeaaaa gurl DJ Mikey bruh" who also hits on Megan Fox every chance he gets.

There's an 18 minute scene of them falling/sliding/exploding down an icy mountain. No reason, really. There just is.

I know. Suddenly right outside New York City is a snowy mountain four times taller than Mt. Everest. And they slide down it at like 200mph, having regular conversations during all of it. With explosions and slow motion bullets, as you would expect.

Now we're on top of a building downtown, there's a 20 minute fight scene with Shredder. No cops. No news crews. No helicopters. Shredder doesn't have anyone with him, he's working on a computer in his robot suit doing bad guy stuff. I'm still not sure why he's doing all of this.

I don't think he does either. He just wakes up, knows he's a bad guy, and he's gotta do bad things today.

The turtles, each the size of an Escalade, get their 'asses kicked' by Shredder. That was cool. Please kill them, Shredder. Come on man, do it for me.

By the 92nd minute of the film, Megan Fox should have died 27 times. I kept a notepad with me, I'm certain of this detail.

One missed opportunity in particular was Eric Sacks (evil scientist who exists) forgets how to just walk up to Fox and shoot her.

Seriously. Megan Fox is hiding 5 feet away from him, and he sees her, he just forgets how to walk. Deciding to shoot random things around her instead.

Still no cops.

The word 'vigilante' is used a thousand times, and then the day is saved.

Turtles can turn invisible after a massive public scene, and we've returned to one of apparently 10 secret lairs they have.

Everything's cool.

They're keeping a low profile in a dubbed out green van with green neon all over it, now.

Fox starts to respond to Vern's hitting on her.

Then Michael Bay realizes he hasn't blown something up in 8 minutes!

Shit, blow that car up!

So he blows another car up.

Then the movie ends.

I can feel collateral products being sold already. Cash registers beeping and clanging, stuffed with cash for ninja turtle t-shirts, cups, bed sheets, action figures...

I can feel the world getting a shade darker under Michael Bay's cackling shadow, drinking in millions of dollars.

I need to go home and lie down.

The crowd empties the theater around me. They're positive, upbeat. Tiny children are happy, making explosion sound effects from their little faces.

None of them care about the real ninja turtles. And the adults, if they weren't fans before, they definitely aren't now. "What's the big deal, it was okay, I guess. Who cares."

My head hurts. My stomach hurts. I have to get out of here.

I hurry out of the mall, arms tightly around myself, as if infected with an incurable disease.