Boxers or Briefs? Unzipping the Mystery.

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There is a lot of energy in today’s world dedicated to categorizing us as human beings.   Men more than ever have to figure out whether they wish to be viewed as old fashion, stoic “he-men,” or would they prefer the label of being modern, sensitive “metro-sexuals” when it comes to their approach to man-hood?

Image result for boy george

I wonder what kind of underwear this young “go-getter” prefers?  On second thought, maybe I don’t.

One of the ways you can judge a man is by what they keep closest to their heart….or groin.  Honestly, one has to admit that the first decision of any consequence that every man makes each morning can be traced directly to which pair of underwear they decide to put on.

While women can run the gamut from so-called “Granny-panties” to thongs,  men are really limited to the concept of boxers or briefs.  (I know there are men who have now adopted the “boxer/brief” look, but I reject that concept.  You can’t have it both ways in this world.  Pick a style, and live with your choices!)  There are plusses and minuses  with whatever direction you choose.

Boxer Positives

  1. They are extremely comfortable
  2. You can sleep in them
  3. You can walk around the house in them without barely causing a scene
  4. They allow your “boys” to swing freely.
  5. If they stick out of the top of your pants, you won’t be subject to ridicule.

Boxer Negatives

  1. They give little to no support for your “boys.”
  2. They slide around a lot
  3. They can get caught in your fly
  4. Young men think that the whole world should see them
  5. They’re not shorts
Image result for underwear boxers

Because my parents taught me to be proud of my body, I decided to humbly model these for you.

Briefs Positives

  1. They keep your tummy tucked in.
  2. They give support to your “boys.”
  3. They tend to stay in place.
  4. The elastic seems to last longer than on boxers.
  5. When you’re a kid, you can pretend you are a professional wrestler by wearing them.

Briefs Negatives

  1. They have become the stuff of public mockery.
  2. They sometimes are too tight for your “boys.”
  3. They show all of your “sins.”
  4. If they fall below your belly, they feel annoying.
  5. You should never be seen walking around in them over the age of nine.
Image result for man in briefs

This one is off the charts on the “creep” scale.

For me, there were two factors that forced my hand in giving up the “brief” look, and switching over permanently to the boxer coalition.  First, it was the nickname “tighty-whities” that gave me pause when it came to my choice  of undergarment.  Being a grown man, and walking around wearing something that almost everybody was now referring to as “tighty-whities” just wasn’t working for me.

The nail in the coffin however for my career as a wearer of briefs came from an interview with Brian Cranston.  He was discussing why his infamous character “Walter White” on the classic television program Breaking Bad was seen so often wearing his “tighty-whities” on-screen.  Cranston said that he wanted his character to basically be as dorky as possible.  A complete loser if you will.  Consider me converted.  Hello boxers!

 

The Beauty of Baseball Cards

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It’s inevitable that every generation believes that the interests and experiences of their youth are superior to the youthful experiences of whatever generation that follows them.  It’s only natural to assume that the way things were are always better than the way things are.

 

Image result for classic baseball cards

As a young boy growing up in the 1970s, I was always in awe of the baseball cards from the 1960s which looked to me like they were from another century.  To me, Luis Tiant was a member of the Boston Red Sox.  Who’s this guy on the Indians without a mustache?

If you are a male, and a baby-boomer, then you know that there were few items from your childhood which resonated with more positive memories than your baseball card collection.  Baseball cards were not only a source of entertainment, but they were also a way to measure one’s status.  If you had a “Willie Mays,” or a Hank Aaron “Rookie Card,” or if you were from New York, and you had collected all of the Mets or Yankees’ cards that were available for that series, then you were the envy of all of your friends.

 

Image result for classic baseball cards

This particular card had it all.  The long flowing locks, the tinted glasses, the bizarro Chicago White Sox “softball” jerseys, and the solidly unspectacular Brian Downing posing in a stadium that nobody would ever recognize.

As purchases go, baseball cards were hit or miss.  Sure, you might snag a Dave Parker or a Pete Rose, but you might also get a pack filled with a couple of Doug Flynns, or Paul Cassanovas.  Baseball cards were also a source of entertainment and competition amongst you and your friends.  Baseball card driven games included…

  1. Scaling
  2. Match-deMatch
  3. Colors

Scaling was the game that most boys played.  If you could scale it and get it to stand up against the wall, you were going home with some cardboard. “Match-deMatch” involved little more skill than was needed to flip a coin.  As for “colors,” I never understood how that game worked, and I’m sure I gave up a few valuable cards over the years to an assortment of schoolyard hucksters.

Image result for classic baseball cards

I’m not sure what Vicente Romo is trying to do in this picture, but I doubt any youngsters fought over his card in order to find out.

If you’re like me, your mother probably bided her time, and when she thought you  had moved on from your card collection, she struck, and threw them all away.  Fret not, thanks to the good people at Amazon, your lost youth can be reclaimed.  The best part of the 1970s, (Aside from platform shoes) is just a click away.

 

 

Credit….Where Credit is Due!

Tomorrow is the universal day in which we are supposed to give thanks for all that we have.  However, in our consumer based society, we sometimes forget all the things that we are supposed to be grateful for.  Let’s face it, some of us aren’t very good at giving thanks, we tend to dwell on the negative.  As my Aunt Sylvia used to say, “If it wasn’t for the pain, I wouldn’t know I was alive”.  However, I feel compelled to point out that it would behoove us as Americans to do a better job of giving credit to those who deserve it.  This seems more substantial than just a generic once-a-year “thanks” to an amorphous higher power who may or may not have interceded on our behalf  while we gorge on canned gelatinous cranberry by-product.  There are many unsung heroes among us, and their contributions need to be recognized.

For openers, how many people know who wrote the Constitution?  It was of course James Madison.  I wonder how many people know the name of the love-child produced by Kanye West and “something” Kardashian compared to those who know the name of the man who literally gave you the “Bill of Rights”.   To be fair, Madison was always a “try-hard” who often lacked the respect you would think a man who wrote the Constitution would merit.  One of Madison’s problems in my opinion was his stature, or lack thereof.  Madison holds the distinction of being our shortest President, only 5 feet 4 inches tall.  This was despite the fact that men wore those “buckle-shoes” with the little heel on them, in the late 18th century,  sort of like Prince or “&” or whatever sign he goes by today, which allowed Madison to artificially elevate.  The problem was that since all men “elevated”, Madison couldn’t grab the edge he so desperately needed.
 “Little Jimmy” MadisonThe Purple One…ready to debate the Elastic Clause

It was not lost on the other Founding Fathers that Madison lacked vertical distinctiveness.  George Washington, all 6 feet 2 inches of him would often egg on the other Constitutional Conventioneers in taunting the diminutive one.  Washington recorded this entry in his diary in early 1787:

“February, 1787, me, Patrick Henry, and that old codger Ben Franklin snuck up behind “Tiny Jim” and swiped his “beloved” Constitution from him and proceeded to taunt him by holding it just above his reach over his head, only returning the scribe  when he would admit, that we were indeed, “His Daddy’s”!”

It appears that Randy Newman may have been on to something when he stated through the gift of song, that, in fact, “Short People…got no reason, to live”  Madison may have been better served by history if he were to have been perhaps our fattest President.  That distinction went to the “Commander in Cheese-whiz” William Howard Taft.  Taft, of the oversized bathtub, specifically designed for his corpulent stature, tipped the scales at over 350 lbs.  It is said that behind Taft’s back, T.R. or Teddy Roosevelt, the avid hunter referred to his protege’ as “Big Game”.
Ah the Pocket Watch, a lost fashion statement!

Another contributor to the betterment of our society who have often toiled in obscurity is the talented Hibachi Chef.  This creature is often found in your standard issue Japanese Steakhouse.  I deem them praise-worthy since no matter which Japanese Steakhouse restaurant  you go to, and I mean anywhere from California to South Carolina, to Buffalo to Intercourse, Pennsylvania, you get the same show, with the same shtick.  We once went to a Japanese Steakhouse in that famous bastion of Japanese culture… Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, where we had a Hibachi Chef who looked like he just resigned from his job as “Pit Crew” chief at Daytona preparing to give us the “stir-frying experience of our lives”.  Sadly, there was a lack of legitimacy.  Perhaps, it was when he asked us in a voice that sounded like Gomer Pyle whether we wanted more Saki?  But, in fairness, the guy built a pretty fair fiery onion tower.
Not Legit!
Legit!

Um, well he is building the Onion Tower!

Whichever Japanese Steakhouse you go to, the food tastes the same, they flick the shrimp into your mouth, they shoot Saki at you,  the chef plays with the big knife, catches an egg on his hat, and it costs a fortune.  Remarkable consistency!

My favorite unsung hero shall remain unnamed and uncredited.  It goes out to whomever invented the hat.  The hat is in many ways mankind’s greatest accessory.    I’m going to throw a morsel of credit to the “chosen people”, the Jews.  They have always believed in keeping their heads covered, but the custom has continued to evolve and grow ever since biblical times.

I believe it was George Carlin, the great comedian and curmudgeon who pointed out that it is hats that separate man from animal, since animals never wear hats, unless a human puts one on them.
Dogs shouldn’t be Knick fans since they don’t live that long, and the Knicks haven’t won anything in 41 years.

I love baseball hats in particular, although if you ever take a good look at them, they’re really just Yarmulka’s with a brim.  Yarmulka’s are good if you suffer from male pattern baldness, they fit right over the bald spot.
Even the Pope knows that.

Hats can define our moods as well as explain our careers.  A top hat means you’re going out for a night on the town….or a chimney sweep.  A bowler means you’re a card player, or the fat guy in a comedy team:
         

Santa needs a hat for his costume to be complete, as do Pirates, Police Officers, Firemen, and Choo-Choo Engineers.   So do maids, Chauffeurs, farmers, (Vietnamese or American), and Communists:
 Workers of the world can’t unite…unless they have a stylish chapeau

I’m still partial to the baseball hat.  You can support any cause or team you want, and people don’t necessarily assume you’re bald.  And, if it worked for the immortal Oscar Gamble, then it’s suitable for anybody.
Whew, talk about “Hat-Head”!

Thanksgiving….Turkey, Stuffing, Potatoes……Kugel??

If you watch cable news, or read almost any website that’s not about quilting, (Although some of those “quilters” can be regular bullies) you’d think we are a deeply divided society.  However, there are a few things that we still share as a nation.  No, it’s not obesity, (I always secretly fear that when they show fat people in news features about fat people, that they were actually filming me, but just putting that little black stripe across my eyes to protect my anonymity)

I’m almost positive I don’t have a coat like that…almost.

it’s Thanksgiving…of course!  It is probably the most shared and celebrated holiday in America.  It really is the perfect holiday.  It combines all of the things I hold dear.

  1. Well of course first there’s the food.  So, so much of it.  I have a really large pair of jeans all picked out already.  Belt…Optional!! (To be said in a flamboyant way)
  2. Football!! (Not to be said in a flamboyant way)  The Lions, the Cowboys, and whoever plays at night.
  3. No Gifts!  Other than bringing a bottle of wine or something to somebodies’ house, you don’t owe anybody a damn thing.
  4. No Religious Obligation – You can give thanks, but you can do it from the comfort of the dining room table.  And if you don’t feel like saying grace, you can start eye-balling the good pieces of turkey, or the crispy piece with the most marsh-mellows of the sweet-potato pie while everybody else is genuflecting, or self-flagellating,
  5. Oh, and a family, yeah, yeah, that goes without saying…right?
My memories of Thanksgiving take me back to good old North Massapequa, where as a child I would wake up and out of some form of guilt, I would watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.  Unlike most kids, I hated parades.  Maybe it’s because they showed us all of those scary Nazi parades in Hebrew School, but I’ve always found them grossly overrated.   It was here where I would watch Broadway stars lip-sing and dance to whatever horrible show-tune that was sweeping the “Great white-way”, all the time waiting for one of those damn floats to go by so Willard Scott could say with faux enthusiasm, “Look everybody, it’s Underdog, bad guys everywhere take heed”!
Eventually I would tire of this and turn to Channel 11, WPIX and watch “King Kong”, the original!  It just wasn’t Thanksgiving until the “big guy” fondled Fay Wray, the little hussy.
Easy….big fella
When that ended, (Spoiler alert, the ape loses) it was “March of the Wooden Soldiers” with Laurel and Hardy. Silas Barnaby, the Boogiemen, scary stuff.  By this time it was almost noon, and it was  time to watch the hapless Lions lose another meaningless game.

Sometimes we would have to drive into the “city” to see my aunts and uncles, or  head off to Queens to see my brother who had moved out and gotten married by what seemed like the age of 15.  Traffic was to my father as “Tic-Tacs” are to ballet dancers. (A caloric splurge they simply can’t afford)  He would do anything possible and perhaps a few things humanly impossible to avoid it.  My father’s theory about defeating traffic was simple.  “As long as you’re moving”.  “But Dad, we are going to Queens, and we just past a sign for Niagara Falls”.  Didn’t matter, we were moving.  If you’ve ever taken Merrick Road to Queens….well then you’re out of your gourd, just like my father.

When you get a little older, you learn that one of the best parts of Thanksgiving is the Wednesday night before, especially when you are returning home from college.  It’s the first time you get to come home and see your High School friends, and hang out at your old watering holes.  It also means that you don’t necessarily wake up in time for the “Parade” unless you want to have a pounding headache all day.
I didn’t really hang out there ’cause I would have probably gotten my ass-kicked!

As an adult, I figured that my Thanksgiving Day Parade watching days were over.  Little did I know I’d have children who’d want to go.  We actually got to see some celebrities up close.  We saw Hannah Montana, (I told that Judge that a 100 yard restraining order wouldn’t stop me) and “Steve” from “Blue’s Clues”.  In fact, due to parade traffic, his float got stuck right in front of us.  He waved for a while, and then he seemed to tire of the whole thing.  Mostly it was cold and there was no where to pee.  From now on, the only parades I’m going to watch are the North Korean ones where they parade their missiles down “Lil Kim” boulevard for all the see and fear.
Who’s the “Perv” who took this shot?

When I became a teacher in New York City, many of my students were first generation American.  I assumed that they would eat turkey and stuffing, and pumpkin pie, the usual suspects.  But instead, what I learned from these students who were from Jamaica, Haiti, Egypt, the Dominican Republic, Vietnam etc…was that they did eat turkey on Thanksgiving, but they also ate food from their own ethnic culture.  It was really America at its best, the melding of cultures, but still celebrating that most American of holidays.  I don’t know why I was so surprised though.  My family had been serving “kugel” for as long as I could remember.  “Kugel”, for those of you who aren’t familiar is a fried concoction made up of mushrooms, onions, and something called “U-Need-a-Biscuits”.  What are “U-Need-a-Biscuits” you ask?  Well, for starters they look like this:

The name comes from an early attempt by the National Biscuit Company to market their product so it stood out.  Hence the name “Uneeda”, as in “You-Need-A”, and while they were at it, they changed their name to the more palatable “Nabisco”.  As for Kugel, it had mass and a density comparable to the ocean depths where the wreckage of the Titanic can be found.  I believe the formula could be calculated by C=MC2, or Cramps = movement/constipation to the 2nd power.  Kugel’s look like this:
Soooo very dense!

Perhaps the best thing about Thanksgiving is that it begins the entire holiday season.  Once its Thanksgiving, Hanukah, Christmas, and New Year’s are just around the corner.  Once it’s Thanksgiving you can listen to Christmas music, you can eat as much as you want since the calories don’t count, and you can watch all the good Christmas movies.  But best of all, you can take time to reflect on all you have in your life that you can truly be thankful for.  In another shared slice of Americana, many have found a way to demonstrate their thanks:
Black Friday!!!!