Friday, August 28, 2015

Real Women Have Curves

I *hate* this phrase! Or, rather, how it's being misappropriated by a certain younger portion of the population these days.

I think it's about time I address it. This particular saying that's been gaining traction in recent years, partly in reaction to the rail-thin and often anorexic-inducing trends in the fashion industry. Mostly the professional advertising segment of said industry, which includes modelling.

Now, see, I'm fully behind the idea that women should not feel pressured into looking a certain way. Reducing a person's self worth to how they look on the outside, and ignoring what they have going for themselves on the inside, is a dismissive attitude that can do a lot of harm. People should feel good for what they are, not how they look. This is true, of course, on a general level. Come on, we all know this!

But what is the saying "real women have curves" really about? Is it giving fatty Americans and women from other Western, industrialized nations free license to revel in their largeness? No. If you think that, then you are simply not getting it. The message. Which is, to wit: that it's okay to be naturally not-thin. That's it in a nutshell. And so if she has a bit more cushioning, what's it to you? If she's comfortable with herself, why are you trying to make her feel bad for not being a rail-thin Barbie doll? And I say women only because the phrase itself is being gender-specific. Yet we all know that this issue is not assigned to women alone. Men suffer with body image as well.

So, this is what the phrase should mean. But in actuality, this is not how it's being used by most people on social media and such. To them, the phrase is doing more than saying it is okay to not have a straight and rail-thin physique. And this additional content is what I wish to unpack today. I have a major bone to pick with the way people use this saying. Or, rather, with the way people ab-use it!

So lets start at the seemingly most innocuous portion of the phrase. The last part. The part about "curves." What are curves? I don't know about you, but as a man I think of curves as being natural to all women. All women have curves, especially when compared to a man's physique. Even the skinniest of women have more curves than the average male, simply because of the basic physiological differences between the genders. No deeper scientific study has to be conducted beyond what your own eyes can see! So in that sense "real women have curves" is a rather redundant observation. If all women are *real* people, and all women have curves ... then what the hell is this phrase trying to say? That all women are women? Uh, thanks, but I think we all know they're not alien beings from Venus.

So, okay. Saying that women have curves is not really what this phrase is getting at. Let's not be obtuse here. How the word "curves" is really being used is as a euphemism for size. It's a playful way of saying "fat," basically. Or, I guess the PC term these days is "full figured" or "plus-sized," right? So is that it? Is the phrase asserting that only bigger women are real women? Seems controversial if you ask me. Pretty insensitive, to tell the truth.

And it brings me to the other end of the phrase, the beginning part now. Yup, that's right. This issue of the word "real." What a strange conceit! Are non-curvy women--i.e., non "big" women, in this context--not real, then? Are super thin women not tangible? Are those suffering from eating disorders, even, simply ghosts flittering about the ethereal realm? For shame!

Of course, again, I'm playing Devil's Advocate here. We all know that this is not what's intended by the use of the term "real women." In the context of how the full phrase is most often used, "real women" in this sense is another way of saying the "average" woman; or the common woman, if you will.

So, in effect, if you modify the phrase for clarity--replacing the words "real" and "curves" with synonymous ones that are more specific--you might come up with something that goes like this:

"Most women are not thin."

Straight forward and to the point, if a bit stating the obvious. And utterly boring! What good is a jingoistic, baiting pop saying if it's merely stating the truth? The truth being that: yes, in today's modern society of processed foods, less mobility, and poor health education, people on average are not as thin as they used to be. Not just women, but all people!

So we can't use the more simplistic and matter-of-fact version of this saying, No, no, no. It just will not do, see? We have to sensationalize things, stir up trouble! So it's therefore "real women have curves." And it's my belief that this phrase, in fact, is not what it appears. It's not in fact helping larger-framed women feel good about themselves, but is actually designed to put down women who do not fit the paradigm such a phrase comprises. It's taking so-called "fat shaming" and now turning it around to, in essence, "skinny shame" small-framed women. Women who, through no fault or design of their own, are just naturally petite.

Oh, you didn't know this practice exists? I hate to break it to you, but skinny shaming is all the rage these days. It exists in the "eat a sandwich" campaign, by which naturally petite women are criticized for being too skinny and are therefore automatically assumed to be suffering from an eating disorder. So the hilarious thing to do is shout out: "you could stand to eat a hamburger or two!" to such women.

Seriously? Is that what we've come to, people? When women are being shamed for being too big, is the natural solution really to turn it around and attack skinny women instead? Like, for real? Are we seriously that fucking stupid, America?!

More and more I suspect that the more recent abuse of this phrase was spearheaded by men. It almost certainly was! Only men are that clueless as to take a movement originally designed to combat the disparaging of women's figures by spinning it around 360 degrees and ... disparaging more women's figures! Or maybe insidious is the better word here, not clueless. It's rather calculated, actually. And very misogynistic. For only a man would think to value a woman based solely on her physical appearance. Skinny, fat. They're both labels for a woman's size. Nowhere near as much fascination is placed on a man's size. If we're overweight, we're lovable and a "teddy bear." We're told we have "love handles," or that we're "husky." Big and Tall is a desired trait for a good husband. Conversely, if we're thin we're in great shape and have a fast metabolism, or we're "wiry" and disciplined with our diets. A skinny man is a man who takes care of himself. But a skinny woman, oh how dare she! She's breaking the cardinal sin of being a woman in a man's world: she's not living up to our juvenile, centerfold pin-up ideals of what a healthy woman of child-bearing physique should resemble. And for that she needs to be shamed! For that, we men feel we must reward the women who do live up to this ideal. For you see, in a man's world only curvaceous women are worthy of our attentions. Only real women have curves!

Here's a concept: how about we stop telling women how they should feel about their own bodies? How about we accept that real women come in various different body types -- the same exact way that men do! How about we recognize that, in fact, a lot more women are petite and small framed than we realize? They are not starving themselves, they are not living up to some unnatural standard. They are this way by genetics. They come from a long maternal line of petite people, perhaps. Or they're of East or South Asian descent, maybe. Or, hey, they were simply just born that way!

And, sure, I just took a major pot shot at men out there for this shaming behavior. But women are just as much to blame sometimes, especially in the fashion world. Yes, ironic enough, but there has been a trend in recent years to reject the "size zero" mentality of women's fashion. Which, fine, let's not ignore the fact that people are getting fatter on average than our counterparts two, three, four, or five decades ago. So, yes, clothing has to be able to accommodate this trend. But let's not also forget that there's still a sizable portion of our population that does in fact need to shop for petite frames. Should they be made to feel marginalized now? Is it time for a little reciprocity after so many decades of plus-sized women being unaccommodated in fashion?

So, just as with men, my suggestion stands the same: women, stop telling other women how to feel about their bodies. Or, okay, you know what? How about we ALL just mind our fucking business and accept that people come in various shapes, sizes, color, orientation, etc? How about you not glorify one body type over another? How about we represent ALL women?

Real women don't have curves. Real women see the value in all women! And all women should feel good about themselves. Positive self image is rad!

So, let's celebrate the full-figured woman, but let's not throw the petite girl under the bus in the process, m'kay? That's a divisive conceit, and as such this phrase "real women have curves" is suspicious, malicious, and ultimately harmful to other women who are being made to feel excluded from the party.

Real women are women. Period.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The "S" in Summertime is for "Sweating"

At least, this used to always be the case for me.

Confession #1: I hate to sweat! It's really uncomfortable, especially for a neat freak like myself.

Confession #2: I've never revealed this, but my discomfort from sweating is actually one of the major factors for why I claim to hate summer so much. It really is my least favorite season.

So, you see, many years ago when I was a wee lad, I got a summer job working in the produce section of a high-end supermarket in the upper east side of Manhattan. To walk there from the subway, however, took 20 minutes -- part of which was uphill. That summer was also one of the hottest on record. And at that time I still lived at home with my grandmother, which meant no AC whatsoever to come home to after a hard day at work.

I think you get the picture.

I never sweated so much in my life up that point! Ick! You don't know what suffering is until you've walked 20 mins in late afternoon, 98-degrees F heat to a subway platform two stories below ground, and then have to wait an additional 15 minutes for your train to arrive while sweat pours by the liter down your back and sides, and all across your brow and face. Double ick!

My air conditioner for the first 24 years of my life.

Fast forward a few years when I started to put on a lot of weight, and now the sweat factor was beyond gross. It was simply unbearable! Even walking only two blocks in the mid summer heat would have my clothes drenched in sweat. It made it very difficult for me to go anywhere. So aside from commuting to and from work, I used to avoid going out much during the warmest months of the year. Hence why I hated the summertime.

However, back in 2005 when I underwent a major change in my life and began to eat healthier, exercise more, and lose around 60 lbs of excess weight -- a very unintended side effect cropped up. I no longer seemed to be affected by the heat of summer! I mean, like, not at all! I could walk for blocks and blocks down Manhattan streets in 90+ temps and barely crack a sweat. It was amazing! See, after working out so much and losing weight, I had noticed back during the winter and spring months how my body was suddenly colder than it used to be. It used to be that my body simply exuded heat like an oven, even in the dead of winter. I very rarely wore a heavy coat in January and February, and I used to sleep with the windows wide open in the bedroom during those months, too. But once I lost the weight, this all changed. Now during the winter months, I not only kept those bedroom windows closed and shut tight, but I slept under 2 to 3 layers. I also noticed that my hands were cold ALL THE TIME. I had to wear gloves outside well into late March, as I recall.

Sweating while working out
is good ... except when it's not!

Needless to say it took my body some time to adjust to being so much lighter. My ability to regulate body heat had been compromised. Which was great when summertime rolled around. During the hottest days, my body seemed to just soak up all the heat, welcoming it. I would luxuriate in it, actually--like a lizard! I felt like I had super powers. Now, suddenly, a season which I used to hate and fear in equal measure was altogether more enjoyable. I even started taking beach vacations. Me! Can you believe it???

And that's actually where I'm at today. I sweat a ton whenever I work out, especially during my runs. But then, I work out HARD! However, when it comes to walking around outdoors in early August? I barely even feel the heat. Crazy!

We recently had a heat wave here in the city, and all these so-called summer lovers were complaining loudly about the heat. Oh, what sweet irony! Here I was the biggest hater of the season, and yet I could walk around and say: "Nah, this ain't so bad." Pretty wacko.

Yesterday morning while waiting for the train to work to show up, I noticed so many people on the platform fanning themselves. And it only hit me then that it must have been unusually warm. Let that sink in. It took me actually *looking* at other people being uncomfortable to register that it must be pretty hot and unbearable today. Because for me, I felt no discomfort whatsoever. If anything I could say that the air was heavy and stuffy down there in the subway station, sure, but yet I was nowhere even close to breaking a sweat.

Sweating while standing still. Only in New York (and Houston).

And that's when I realized just why exercise is so important. I used to think that losing weight made you more resistant to sweating. But now I know it's actually exercise. Because I know really skinny people who never exercise--or rarely do--but who sweat in the summer time just walking around outdoors. They also complain about the heat the same as overweight people. So what's that all about? See, I think it's the lack of exercise. When you don't run your body past the basic movements of everyday life, your heart becomes weak over time and struggles that much more just to pump blood throughout your body. That extra effort produces heat, and that heat raises your body temperature. Add to that the already warm ambient heat outside your skin, and now your body's being bombarded by heat on both sides -- without and within!

A heart more accustomed to extraneous exercise, however, pumps slower and thereby does less work for the same results. I have a low resting heart rate, actually. It's usually between 52 and 57 beats per minute. An average person with a good body weight has a resting heart rate in the 70s or low 80s. My doctor tells me that mine is so low because I must run a lot. Turns out it's actually more to do with weight lifting, I've found. Sure, running does help, but regular and continuous weight training exercise throughout the week builds up your heart muscle even better! I think a combo of the two must be why my heart is so strong. And this must also be why I don't sweat a lot, if at all, even when the temps outside are sweltering.

Something to keep in mind if you, like me, hate to sweat. Or if you find yourself generally uncomfortable by the heat of mid summer. Look to incorporate more strength exercises into your weekly routine.

This pooch knows what it is!

On the flip side . . . if you do not generally sweat a lot and/or don't find the heat unbearable, I'm guessing you probably have pretty good heart health. Congratulations!

Friday, July 31, 2015

Update On The New Camera

It's been around three months now since I decided to pursue this new hobby, and I have to say things have been progressing rather nicely in terms of my education on the basic points of digital SLR photography. You may recall back in April I bought myself a used entry-level camera--the Canon "Rebel" T5i, to be precise, with 18-55mm IS STM lens--for the purpose of teaching myself how to take better photos.

And it's been a whirlwind of discovery ever since! I've attended a couple of 3-hour entry level courses offered by Canon themselves, but for the most part I've been practicing all on my own, reading everything I can get my hands on and watching just about as many Youtube videos on various photo taking techniques as my brain can handle without melting. It's been crazy!

But slowly I feel that I'm starting to get the hang of things. Around 2 weeks after starting to use my DSLR cam, I switched from automatic settings to using semi-manual controls--what Canon calls its "Creative Zone." Around one week after that, I forced myself to venture into full manual mode, supposedly as the professionals do. Although, to be honest, I find that my favorite mode to sit on is "Aperture Priority," which allows you to fiddle with the lens opening on the fly, but lets the camera handle the shutter speed. I still manually select the light sensor sensitivity, though--aka, the ISO. I've been told to go ahead and leave that on auto, too, but I sometimes like to leave the sensitivity low even when there is not a lot of ambient light around. For artistic reasons and, frankly, because, the look this achieves is just my personal taste.

Monday, July 6, 2015

'Cause I'm Close To The Edge ....

Looking back on my life recently, I startlingly came to the following realization:

I don't like doing what's expected of me, or taking the easy way out.

As I focused on this concept and really thought it through, it became increasingly clear just how much of my life has been dictated on this principle. It's actually scary, and it forces me to examine a lot about motivation, ambition, and drive -- or at least why I don't seem to have much of any of these things anymore. It's a sobering realization to come to, I must admit, and may even be my undoing.

Basically, it starts with my father. Yes, that old chestnut. Look, I really don't want to kick a dead horse. I've covered this subject many times on this blog already, so I won't be rehashing any of that. Most of you already know the most salient point, to wit: my father was a lazy bum who couldn't stay true to one woman, nor be there for the three boys he had with her.

Typical deadbeat dad scenario, no?

What does this have to do with me? Well, knowing this about my dad, from a very early age I made it my goal in life to never be like him. Where he was lazy and uneducated, I strove to be the best in my class and to always be a hard worker. I was quite good at my studies as a kid, even math. It was easy, actually. Whenever I felt myself slack off in school, I remembered my dear ol' dad -- and, boom! Suddenly there was my motivation to be different. And the thing is, growing up as a mixed Caucasian/Latino kid in the South Bronx, whose mother was on welfare ... see, no one ever expected much of me. In school I was the quiet, unassuming kid. I interacted with NO ONE! I simply did what was expected of me and went home to where I could just be myself and no one would bother me. I was the UNSEEN in class, and so this had the consequence of everyone around me underestimating me and writing me off.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

My New Sports Crush

With all the news on tv lately about the success of the US Women's National Team at the 2015 FIFA World Cup, I suppose it was only inevitable that my old sport's crush, Olympic Ice Dancing gold medalist Meryl Davis, would be supplanted by someone off that roster. And so it has happened.

Meet my new, new sport's crush:

Oh, Christen Press. Why have I not known about you until now?

Perhaps it's because I barely watch men's soccer, let alone women's? Except at the Olmpics, or at the FIFA World Cup, that is. And so I suppose this makes sense, then. But I only started watching this particular cup last week when the American women's team went up against China. Being that China is my second country (adopted), I was more than a little invested in this match-up. I still wanted the USA to win, of course. And win they did! But it was during that game that I learned a little about Ms. Press:

At first I tried to ignore 26 yr old, 5ft 7in, Ms. Christen Annemarie Press, one of the national team's skilled Forwards. Just another sweaty face on the team, I thought. But when they started airing interviews of her off the grass and before the game, that's when I noticed two things:

1) Just how striking she looked (longish, angular face; thin athletic build; cute mouth and wondrous smile; and -- omg, those green eyes! *swoons*); and also

2) How personable and humble she seemed.

I don't know about you, but something about that combo just gets me EVERY TIME! More so the down-to-earthness of a gal. I hate arrogant, snobbish people. And in athletics, that's pretty much anyone good enough to play on the national or world level.

But not Christen Press. Something about her is just so endearing. She captivates me! And as if to hammer the message home even more, just this past weekend I saw one of her Coppertone commercials air for the very first time. Must be due to all the hype about the World Cup. Here it is:

There? Do you see what I'm talking about? Full on CRUSH!!!

How can you even question it? Does she not just melt you all the way through to the core? Well, maybe not -- if you're not me. But still! :)

Anyway, I'll be sure to watch more women's soccer now. I'm especially excited our national team is in the semifinals and going up against Germany tonight, of all teams. It's *always* Germany, isn't it? And in the meantime, as I am wont to do, I'll leave you with more Christen Press:


Oh, and ...  ... GO USA!!!

And just for good measure, here is one last video - an interview with Christen and her World Cup teammate, Kelley O'Hara. I love this clip so much!

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Introducing My New Hobby

So, this happened.

I've always been drawn to taking pictures. I'm old enough to remember the joy of taking Polaroids as a wee lad for my first venture into this field. In college I carried around a basic film-based camera, and all the joys that entailed. And for about two decades after that I used various digital point-and-shoot cameras of ever increasing megapixel count. Then, of course, there's the advent of the smartphone, which more and more lately is how I snap the majority of my pics.

But now, I've graduated to the next level. Yes, over the weekend I purchased my very first Digital SLR camera:

I haven't undertaken this endeavor lightly, mind you. I don't intend to just put this camera on the shelf, and only bring it out during family events and the odd holiday overseas. No. I want to put this baby to use! I want to travel all over this great big city I live in and engage in a new art form. Yes, I see this as art, not unlike painting or writing. Another outlet to unleash my creativity, along with my writing. I think it's a great idea, and I'm very excited.

The Canon EOS "Rebel" T5i, or so I've been told by those in the know, is a perfectly good camera with which to begin and learn on. As a neophyte to this level of photography, I must admit to being just a tad intimidated. But I plan to learn as much as I can. To that effect, I've signed up for two entry-level seminars which cover the basics of DSLR photography. These are three-hour classes which I plan to take back-to-back on the same day. I figure I'll take copious notes and ask around a hundred questions. That's the ticket!

Once I'm as comfortable as can be with the basic functions of my camera and rudimentary composing techniques--as well as photo editing--I think I'll spend the following months over the summer visiting different places in New York for prime photo taking. I'll probably look suspiciously like a tourist, but you know what? I don't care. At least this will get me out and about more, and not cooped up in my apartment. In this sense I'm lucky the weather is just now becoming mild and beautiful out there. Something tells me I'll be spending a lot time walking through many of the local parks with my camera in hand.

Some point later, and once I've become very familiar with my T5i, I think I'll enroll in an actual photography course here in the city. I found a 9-week one geared towards the budding amateur photographer such as myself.  That's the plan anyway. Wish me luck!

And in the meantime, here are a few test photos I took with my brand new camera. These were taken in a friend's garden earlier today. I was testing out the macro settings, specifically, and figured some close-ups of pretty Spring flowers were in order:

Not bad. I'm already noticing a substantial difference between this camera and my previous Sony point-and-shoot purchased 5 years ago. These test shots have got me pumped to learn how to use this DSLR properly for more advanced capturing.

Oh, IT'S ON!!!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

A History of Violence

When I was around 4 years old, my mom stopped a friend on the street and began to chat her up for minutes on end. This friend had a much younger son with her, around 2 years old I believe. My brother and I walked off ahead, farther down the block, and this little boy followed us. Bored, and with no one paying attention to us, my brother and I decided to turn the corner and relieve ourselves against a nearby wall.

It's a boy thing.

And we were 3 and 4 years old apiece, remember. Laughing, the little boy tried to imitate us, but he had a hard time getting his pants down. I helped him, pulling them down to his ankles for him. And then I noticed that his shoelaces were untied. I honestly don't know what came over me next, but I suddenly got it in my head that it would be a funny prank to tie them together. Afterward, I grabbed my brother's hand and urged him to race back to our mom--knowing full well that this little boy would take off after us! He did, with his trousers still down and his shoelaces tied together. Laughing, he made it only a few feet before falling over onto his stomach. Next ensued so much crying and screaming. I remember thinking I would be in trouble for that; and sure, I did receive a beating from mom later on as a result. But in that moment .... the image of that annoying little boy falling flat on his face, scraping his knees and bawling? In that moment, for the oddest of reasons, the 4 year old me found it the funniest, most satisfying sight ever. And I *knew* that I had done that.

Yesterday, as I walked home from the subway after work, I came across two toddlers straggling behind an older woman who might have been their grandmother. A boy and girl, around 3 years old each. I assumed they were either siblings or cousins. The children were slurping happily on lollipops they held in chubby, balled-up hands, while holding each other's free hands as they walked up the block. It was the cutest sight! The very picture of innocence. And I thought to myself: wow, children really are beautiful. In their faces, and in the way they so sweetly held on to each other as they walked, you could not doubt the purity of their hearts and spirits. I knew that it was this very innocence that we adults cherish so much in children. Why we feel this instinctive pang to protect and shelter them, for surely children at that age are without guile, without malice.

Or are they?

Where does this concept come from, that all children are born innocent? Is this true? Or is it a construct we adults invent because we tend to read into our young what we ourselves wish were true? But just because we want it so, does not make it so.

When does innocence end? I'm not so sure innocence ever ends. We're all innocent in some way or another. Sure, we probably become more jaded over time as life's hard realities belt us to and fro on the battered winds of lost dreams . . . but not one of us is ever truly, wholly evil. Just as no one is ever completely good. We're human beings, and humans are a bewildering, grayish mix of both forces.

And, I hate to break it to you, but: children are human beings, too. They're not little godlings flitting about on glowing white wings. They are born with the potential to be the humans we all are. Flawed beings with our many, many bad moments. On that day when I was 4, I had a very bad moment. A moment when my little inner masochist came out and showed his face. As an adult now, I'm horrified by my actions in that one moment of weakness and wretched bemusement. It's haunted me all these years, actually, as I strive to be a moral person in this world. But yet I have to live with the fact that in my past there is a moment in which I was a horrible person to a happy, adorable little baby who didn't know any better than to follow me around like a puppy looking for a friend. It breaks my heart now thinking about it. Why on earth would I have done such a thing? Am I just the lowest of scum for not only inflicting such pain on an innocent child once, but from gaining so much satisfaction from the act as well? I could see someone like Hitler maybe having a story like this from his childhood, but surely not me? I'm a GOOD person!

But, nope. We all have this capability in us. Perhaps I'm being more honest about it here on this blog than most people will ever be, even to themselves. The truth of the matter is: not only do we all carry the seeds within us to do both harm and good, but we were born to this dichotomy.

Seeing those two adorable children holding hands as they ate their lollipops and tried to catch up to grandma, I had to doubt this, though. Could either one of those little cherubim ever do such a horrible act as what I did not more that one year in age away from them? Perhaps not. So then, what made me do it? Who even taught me to do something so radical as to pull a malicious prank on a child more helpless and innocent than myself? Is it something taught, or something innate? Nature or nurture? The world may never know. I certainly never will.

But I wonder: is it really important to find out? Or is it better to take the generalized approach and simply accept our bad natures as being just that -- natural! As I get older, I'm beginning to realize that it's not so much about bemoaning the bad things you've done in the past, but about learning from those moments and doing better not to repeat them.

The more you accept the bad within you, but strive to rise above it and do good, the more of a complete person you will be.

I truly believe this. Don't you?

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Subway Oddities

I've written about the New York City underground rail system here before, most notably in my Subway Survival Guide series. Growing up in this city, you can't help but bear witness to a lot of strange and crazy things going on down in the deep depths below under this great city. Still, even after 38 years of it, I am still amazed by the dumbest things New Yorkers do when riding the trains. Stuff that can, and often does, drive their fellow straphangers batty!

The following are all cases I've experienced first hand recently, presented below in no particular order:

. . . . . . . . . . . . .

Someone on the platform calls out a friend's name who is standing farther down on the same platform. Several people turn at the same time to see the originator of that call, even though they can't all be named "Janet." Why do people do this? If I hear a name called out that is obviously not my own, I ignore it and keep doing what I'm doing. Hell, even when my name is called I don't immediately turn. Not if I don't recognize the voice calling my name. There *are* other Davids in this great big city of 8 million people, after all. And I'm not wasting energy on something that obviously doesn't concern me.

. . . . . . . . . . . . .

I was on the D train this morning and we pulled into this one station. As the passengers were let out and the doors started to close once more, an F train pulled in right across from us. Several passengers leaped out of their seats and rushed headlong into the closing doors, almost causing severe bodily harm to themselves. Just to catch that F train. Here's the thing: if they needed that F train so badly, why didn't they get off at the station when the doors first opened like everyone else? Here's the other thing: The D and F trains meet up at the very next station, and the station after that as well. Seeing as how the D train was just about to pull out of the present station when the F train arrived, why not just wait until the very next stop to get off and catch the F train there? Did you really need to half break your neck tackling the closing doors for a train you could catch again merely 2 minutes later? Think, people. THINK!!!!

You waste all that energy, just for this to happen.

. . . . . . . . . . . . .

Why do very large people (read: fat!) always try to squeeze in between two seated passengers when the space is obviously not wide enough for them? Do you need a seat soooo badly that you are willing to inconvenience and bodily assault other passengers just so that you can be seated? Or are you really that unaware of your bulk? Don't be delusional: you are FAT!!! You know it, your kids know it, your co-workers know it, your dog knows it -- we ALL know it! How about we try and not impose our fatness on others, m'kay? Also: exercise some restraint and STOP OVEREATING!!! And we wonder why so many fights break out on the subway.

. . . . . . . . . . . . .

Look. I'm sorry I knocked you down, little kid in high school. I was riding the 4 train and we had just pulled into my home station. Yes, I saw you standing out there in the cold on the platform as my train pulled in. You who were so eager to get onboard; I didn't miss that point. So eager, that even before the doors opened to let passengers off (like yours truly), you positioned yourself right at the front of the doors, ready to dash on in as soon as they opened. Thing is, you can't simultaneously have people exiting and entering a doorway at the same time. And what your brilliant little plan did not provide for, however, was the factor of the solidly built grown man--who outweighed you by about 50 pounds--blocking your way. So when the doors opened and you immediately tried rushing onboard, I could see why you were so perturbed when that one guy (moi) leading the exodus out shoulder checked your dumb ass and sent you literally sprawling back out onto the platform. Consider this a real world refresher on bodies in motion. Your physics teacher can thank me later.

I don't think we're ever getting off this Death Star!

. . . . . . . . . . . . .

When you ride the New York City subways for even a short amount of time, one thing becomes quickly obvious: there are constant service changes being announced, like, ALL THE TIME! Not rarely, those announcements can mean the difference between you arriving safely at your desired destination, or you ending up at the ass end of Brooklyn on the bad side of a Russian mob turf war (as opposed to the good side of a Russian mob turf war). So do yourself a favor: take off the fucking headphones!!! At least once in a while, yeah? Here's a hint: when you start noticing the people around you looking suddenly pissed off for no apparent reason, or when there is an abrupt and spontaneous mass migration of passengers off of the heretofore express train you're riding ... yeah, you might want to know what that's all about. Just a hunch.

. . . . . . . . . . . . .

Why do people look for trains that they are waiting for? Does this somehow make them arrive any faster? Does a watched kettle boil slower? I guess no one can answer the latter, but as for the former: NO! Plain and simple. So what are you doing? Seems to me that worrying about something you have absolutely no control over is a recipe for a stress attack. Chill out. The train will arrive when it arrives. If it is late, and you are late as a result ... that's just the way it will be. You constantly walking to the edge of the platform and sticking your head out to peer down the tunnel will not change that. Really, it won't have any effect whatsoever! You should all be like me: I simply lean back and lose myself in my own thoughts for a while. As far as I'm concerned, my train will arrive suddenly out of the blue like a dewey-eyed unicorn ridden by a mermaid wearing a necklace of four-leaf clovers. Yes, like a pre-ordained miracle! You should try it sometime, it's amazing!

. . . . . . . . . . . . .

However, despite all of the above, I still love this city. You have to take the good with the bad, you know? Most transplants can't hack it here for long like natives can. Hell, even natives end up leaving for greener pastures eventually. But while we're all here, together we do make for a helluva interesting place to live which is unlike any other on this planet of ours. You may all be crazy, but you're my kind of crazy!

Mwah! (that's the sound of a big, ol sloppy kiss, btw)

Love or hate it, sometimes you join in the crazy.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Miss Crush 2014

This is rather late, I know. I usually post my Miss Crush winner mid-year, and not well into the next year. I guess it's because I got busy doing those Model Spotlight entries, so sue me. But, while similar in theme, I do try to keep my Miss Crushes separate from my Model Spotlights.

Plus, I was finding it hard to narrow down my choices. A year and a half ago, I crowned the lovely Eva Green as my Miss Crush 2013 winner. A decision that apparently was met with mixed enthusiasm if you read the comments section in that entry. For 2014, I had to decide between several lovely ladies on whom to garner the crown. The runners up were:

4th Place:  MILA KUNIS

3rd Place:  ZOE SALDANA


As you can see, it was a very tough decision to make indeed. But in the end, I had to go with honesty. Or maybe ... with freshness! I love all the women listed above, but they've been high on my list for several years now. Over a decade, even, when speaking about Ms. Knightley in particular. And while a part of me wanted to award last year's title on one of these actresses out of respect for the longevity of my crush on them, I just couldn't ignore this relative newcomer to the celebrity scene. And while I'm sure a lot of readers will skewer me with hate comments over this decision, she truly is who I was crushing on the most back in 2014. And still am, in fact.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

It's Been Settled - AKA: Yes, I *Do* Drink Coffee!

It was a little over a year ago that I wrote about that now infamous Great Coffee Experiment of mine here on the blog, and I thought I'd give you all a little bit of an update on that front.

So, just to refresh your memory, I left that experiment not too enamored with the idea of drinking coffee. I gave it the ol' college try, you see, but it just didn't appear as if my body was responding to caffeine in the same way it seemed to affect most people. For me, an "average" cup o' joe did nothing more than make me even more sleepy than before. I suspected it was the warmth of the drink which brought about this contrary effect. Either that, or my body processed caffeine so well that it flushed it right out of my system before I could even begin to feel its power. There are tests I can take to determine the latter, if I cared enough to get them done (I don't).

Turns out the key word here is average, though. See, your regular cup of drip-brewed, watered-down American coffee doesn't do much for me. But give me something stronger and preferably espresso-based, and apparently that makes all the difference in the world!

Because of its ubiquity here in the greater NYC area, as well as its general good standards across the board, I decided to stick with Starbucks as my go-to java establishment of choice in order to continue this experiment. Plus, I liked that they offered a LOT of choices. If I were going to narrow down my preferences, I would need a varied menu of beverages from which to determine. My darling Cin disagrees, though. She thinks I've become a "Starbucks snob," in her words. See, she swears by Dunkin' Donuts' coffee. Which, if you've read my coffee experiment post, you would know I hate with a deep-seated passion!

This American does NOT!

So, despite Cin's adorable protestations to the contrary, I remained steadfast in my loyalty to that Seattle-based company. I started out with a cappuccino from them, but that was too weak for me. I then tried a latte. Better, but too bland. So I had vanilla added to it. Oh man -- so much better! It quickly became my favorite drink. And by adding an extra shot of espresso to the mix, it made it plenty strong and potent enough for even my body to sit up and take notice. I was surprised to find out, in fact, that my productivity in the office actually did pick up a few paces. Extraordinary!

But just to be sure, I next tried straight up espresso. First a single shot (called a "solo" in SB's lingo) served in a tiny little cup, then a double (or, "doppio"). I felt like a little old Italian man sipping on my tiny little dollhouse cup. It was good, but just not enough beverage for my buck. So I tried a macchiato next. This one seemed a bit stronger than a latte, even though it pretty much is a latte made in reverse. At least, this is the way a macchiato is made at Starbucks. I'm sure there are differences if one actually went to Italy.

A Starbucks latte.

Still, at the end of the day I decided to stick with my vanilla latte with extra shots added for strength. It was strong, it was flavorful, and it actually kept me awake and energized throughout the morning. Wow, imagine that?

Now, I don't drink this every day, mind you. Not even every other day. I only hit up Starbucks maybe twice a week, if that. Especially now that we're in full blown winter mode here in the city, I find that a nice tall vanilla latte really hits the spot when it is freezing outside. Sometimes I even go all out and splurge on SB's 16-ounce size option, called a "grande." That's when I'm feeling especially indulgent.

And this is how it's gone for the past year or so. That is, until last week when my good friend and author, Cindy Pon (different Cin, no relation), recommended something different. A beverage she herself orders from Starbucks on the regular. Behold, the Americano:

Add a little more steamed milk for that "misto" effect!

An "Americano" in Starbucks' terms is espresso coffee like the Italians enjoy, but with a lot of hot water strained through it in the American drip-brewed fashion. So in other words, it's espresso with a whole lot more hot water added to it. You would think this would taste awful, but it's actually not bad. And that espresso kick is still quite strong. Stronger than regular American coffee, at least. Cindy actually recommend that I order it "misto," which is to say with steamed milk added. An Americano Misto is basically a fuller-bodied latte -- just less milky, and more of that special caffeine kick. And it's just about perfect. Add a couple of pumps of vanilla syrup for yours truly, and it really is perfection!

This. This is my preferred drink all of a sudden. I just love it!

What's yours?

Friday, January 9, 2015

You Probably Never Saw This Coming . . .

Yes, I have a confession: I like watching Friends.

I could just end on that statement right there, drop the mic and walk off the stage. But I guess I can spare a few more words to explain. Ha!--A few? *ahem* Anyway ...

So, you see, recently Netflix decided to put all 10 seasons of the hit NBC show, Friends, up for streaming. And it's weird because I never actually liked the show at first. Nor did I have any friends who liked it, either. It was never really targeted for my demographic, appealing instead to the naive, vanilla-white college students where I went to school and whom all thought that they would move to the big city after graduation and live like these characters do. Only, I came from that big city -- and it looked nothing liked the one depicted on the show!

Friends is about six 20-somethings living in New York ('though filmed on a back lot in L.A., naturally), who stumble through every-day and often comedic encounters as they filter through life's ups and downs, break-ups, promotions, firings, relationships, etc. You know: the basic sitcom formula, but with very adult themes considering that the show was not centered around a core family in the traditional sense, but rather the familial bond made between friends living far from home in a large metropolis.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

The Bimillennial Man's Top 10 Posts of 2014

So it's that time of year again . . . the start of a new year, that is! Historically, with my mother's passing on this date 29 years ago, New Year's Day has never been a time for celebration on my part. There have been years where I've tried to go out and have fun, sure, but usually this is a somber time for me in which I hole up at home and play things very down key.

And yet, the New Year is always a time of hope and renewal. I'm not immune to the changeover, and can honestly say that I'm very much looking forward to a brand new year. 2014 was not really the best of years, but it was not the worst. And it was definitely a step up from the previous three years before it, which were terrificly shitty years in my life. Probably the worst ever!

But with 2015 upon us, I thought I would continue with this little tradition at The Bimillennial Man of reflecting on the blog posts of the previous year. I started this tradition last year, as some of you may recall, in which I listed the Top 10 most successful posts of 2013. And by "successful," I mean the threads which had received the most views. So let us see how 2014 faired, shall we?

To set the scene, I just want to briefly mention that 2014 saw a huge explosion of new visitors and traffic to the site. I don't have the exact numbers on hand, but by my estimation this site had FOUR TIMES as many visitors as the previous year, despite the fact that I only published half as many posts in 2014 as compared to 2013. It's true I didn't have much to say this past year, apparently, but I'm happy that this hasn't stopped the site from becoming even more popular and very searchable on Google---which is still the number one search engine being used to find this blog. Thanks a bunch, Google!!!

So then here is my list, in chronological order, of popular posts for the year, followed by tally numbers of total unique visitors to each post as of this date:

My Top 10 Threads of 2014

1.  State of the Batista Union.   (114 views)

2.  Top 10 Crushes From Hollywood's Golden Age.   (356 views)

3.  Game of Thrones: Season 4 Anticipation Begins . . . NOW!   (154 views)

4.  Living Single.   (1,370 views)

5.  What Girls Don't Know We Know They Know.   (205 views)

6.  Dream Come True -- I'm An Actor Born!!!   (140 views)

7.  This Kid Is A'iight!   (134 views)

8.  Dear Dad: A Letter To My Father.   (149 views)

9.  Model Spotlight: "Nazneen Contractor".   (234 views)

10. My Quick(ish) iPhone 6-Plus Impression.   (167 views)

Click on any link above if you're curious to see why a particular post proved to be as popular as it was. Hint: the ones with lots of pics are usually the most viewed. Hmmm, I wonder why?

Tuesday, December 30, 2014


Okay, by now it should come as no surprise that I'm a fan of Bollywood movies. I mean, I'm a HUGE fan! Some of you may recall my post on favorite Bollywood music a few years ago (click here), as well of course as this here Model Spotlight series, in which more often than not I'm posting up some famous Indian beauty from the movie scene. And it's really a good thing I watch Bollywood, too, otherwise I would be missing out on so many hotties from the sub-continent. DAYUMMM! Case in point, today's entry.

Name:  Deepika Padukone
Age:  28
Profession:  Model/Actress
Hometown:  Bangalore, India
Accolades:  2005 "Model of the Year" - Kingfisher Fashion Awards; Filmfare award for "Best Female Debut" on the 2007 film, Om Shanti Om; and Filmfare award for "Best Actress" on the 2013 film, Goliyon Ki Raasleela: Ram-Leela.
Best Known:  As Veronica in the hit Indian romantic comedy-drama, Cocktail (2012).
Current:  Finalized filming on Piku, a comedy-drama starring alongside her childhood idol and legendary Bollywood actor, Amitabh Bachchan.

Born in Copenhagen in 1986, Deepika's parents returned home and settled in Bangalore just a year later to raise their daughter and, eventually, her little sister, Anisha, as well. Her mother was a travel agent, and her father the famous Indian pro badminton player, Prakash Padukone. And for a while there it looked as if Deepika would follow in her daddy's footsteps, becoming quite proficient at the sport of badminton, even to the point of competing on the national level. But in high school she realized her true dream was to become an actress, and so she dropped out of sports to focus on a career in modeling and movies.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

I Don't Know, It's Just The Way I Am!

You know what I get the most tired of people asking me? "Why are you so quiet all the time?" Seriously, I wish some of you would stop asking me this nonsense. Barring that, I wish you would just understand. If my silence makes you uncomfortable, look to your own reasons for why this is so. Don't blame me for your discomfort.

I came across this pin on Pinterest earlier today, and it's basically the motto of my life. I wish more people would follow this advice:

How true is this? Everyone has a different story, a different reason for why they are the way they are. The reasons for why I'm usually more content to listen in a group rather than be the center of one is many fold. I had a harsh and disciplined childhood. I had some really shitty things happen to me at a young age. I was always the youngest kid in class. I had a physical disability very early on (extremely poor eyesight) which made me the butt of schoolyard ridicule and made me retreat within myself even more. Yadda, yadda, yadda.

But the truth is: I was born an introvert. And society acts as if this is a bad thing. It's not! More people are introverts than are extraverts. Did you know that? Other countries do. America is one of the few that caters to the extravert, and it's damn annoying! In our society, the person with the biggest mouth is usually the one that everyone listens to. No matter the fact that such people are often brash, immature, judgemental, intolerant, and best of all -- usually wrong!

And just to clear things up: I am NOT shy! There is a world of difference between being shy and being an introvert. The two are not the same. I can speak before a large crowd when I need to, and I can look you directly in the eye when conversing individually. I can answer you perfectly well when asked a question, and I don't stutter or mumble my words. I'm not afraid of you ... I just sometimes wish you would cut out the small talk and only engage me when you have something interesting to say and worth my time hearing. Seriously, that's it in a nutshell.

Interesting enough, I was just reading this article on The Huffington Post the other day which covered pretty much exactly how I feel on the subject of introverts--i.e., people just like me. It lists the 10 ways that introverts interact differently with the world. To read the whole article and truly understand what makes me tick, click on this link for the full text. One passage in particular I want to highlight here:

"Shyness is about fear of social judgment," Cain said. "Introversion is more about how do you respond to stimulation, including social stimulation. So extraverts really crave large amounts of stimulation, whereas introverts feel at their most alive and their most switched on and their most capable when they are in quieter, more low-key environments."

Yes, exactly! I really take this to heart. When I am surrounded by large amounts of stimulation--crowds of people all trying to talk over one another are the worst!--I can figuratively feel the lifeforce slowly draining from me. I start to feel sluggish and numb, and all I want to do is get the hell home and crawl into a good book or Netflix documentary! Or work on one of my fiction stories. These activities rejuvenate me, make me feel whole again. I didn't really know how to express this all until reading that article. I mean, wow!

So this is who I am. I'm old enough now to no longer care what anyone else thinks about my peculiar traits. I don't need to fight it anymore. I am what I am, and this is just the way I am!

And, yes, the title of this post is an Eminem reference to one of my favorite of his rap tracks off the original Marshall Mathers LP. Take a listen why don't you? Warning for offensive language, but of course.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The 12 Nights of Christmas-Not Flims

Now then, this is the time of year I look forward to the most! No, not so much because of the holidays, although those are nice. No, the real cause for my excitement is the fact that I usually take the last two weeks off from work, thus commencing a long stretch of doing absolutely NOTHING! Call it a harken back to the days when I was just a school kid and we used to get 3-week recesses, I suppose. My brain is just hard-wired to taking half the month of December off after having done it for most of my life. You know how it is.

For the most part I tend to use this time off to relax. In addition to shunning the office job, I also take a break from my daily workouts and refrain from the pursuit of any task or situation that will cause me stress. So in other words, I basically watch a lot of tv, play a lot of video games, eat a lot of (bad) food I don't normally allow myself to eat during the rest of the year -- and devise movie marathons. 

Oh yeah!!!

This is probably what I associate most with this time of year, watching movies. And not just movies that are out in theaters at the end of the year, although I do make it a point to catch all the Oscar-bait films currently out. I'm talking about home theater viewing, you see? One year I had a Lord of the Rings marathon that took all day and into the wee hours of morning to slog through. But it was so much fun! Another staycation, I binged on Spaghetti Westerns. See what I mean? Oh what fun!

This year, however, I had a different idea for the season's movie marathon. This year I decided to screen, every night of Christmas, a single movie which was released in theaters on or near the holidays. More accurately, these would be movies that I personally saw during the holidays in past years. I stress this part because, as with some of the movies on the list I'm about to provide below, a few titles were released back in October or November of their associated years, but which I didn't get around to catching in theaters until--yup, you guessed it!--my annual end-of-year staycation. In addition to said criteria, these are also movies that were considered really big box office draws at the time. Some of them were even the holiday centerpieces of the year, if you will. The biggest grossing movies ever! And, then, some were only modest successes, but which played big in both my memory and in my heart. Regardless, they all had a hand in capturing the holiday season for me, resonating with me in a major way, and representing some of the best carefree movie "escape" experiences of the season. And for that, I am forever beholden to them.

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