Thursday, November 24, 2011

How To "Score" With "Chicks"

When I was a hall director, we had to go through every room in our building at the end of the year and personally assess it for damages. This included opening the closets, all drawers and doors in the room, lifting mattresses, etc., which meant that we looked into all sorts of spaces that students forgot to look into on their way out of the building, and sometimes found odd (and often disgusting) things. The policy at the school where I worked was that everything left behind was considered abandoned, but sometimes we would call students ("Hey, I found your passport in your desk. Do you want me to mail that to your home address?") and sometimes students would call us, like the time an RA called the office and spoke to my coworker, Leandra, to ask if we had happened to notice a "personal item" in his desk.

"You mean your DVD of 'Big Black Bootie'? Yes, we found that."

I don't remember if we ended up mailing "Big Black Bootie" home to him or not, but I do remember that for about a week there we'd just pass each other in the office and blurt, "Big Black Bootie! 6 hours!" (the only words on the front of the DVD case) and then break down in hysterical giggles.

Most of the stuff we found while searching rooms was pretty harmless ("Six rolls of masking tape! Let's take it to the office!"), occasionally usefull ("Oh, hey, I need a powerstrip!"), and sometimes, like when I found an unopened DVD of "The Lion King", kind of like a nice surprise. Then there were the times that we found things that were just weird, which is how I ended up with a copy of Frank Gray's Scoremanship: The Sensational New Approach to Success with Women. I don't remember who, specifically, worked with me when we found this, but I do remember sitting in the office for a few minutes and laughing while reading the really awful parts to my coworkers.

And let me tell you, this book is filled with really awful parts.

I must have put Scoremanship on my "unread books" pile, and then when I moved here it got packed with all of the other books. Somewhere along the way I kind of forgot about it, but when I was pulling books out of the "unread" pile for travel this year (the fact that a book I found over six years ago is still sitting in the unread pile should give you some idea of the size of the pile, which is stored in stacks beneath both my end tables and my coffee table) I found it and thought, "Hey, I remember that book. I wonder if it's still funny?"

It kind of is.

Published in 1969, this gives a window into a very different world, and not just because I'm not really interested in scoring with chicks. Every page drips with sexism, but also with a little bit of hilarity as you try to imagine someone using a line like, "Your lips are so luscious and tantalizing" (suggested on page 118 in the Words and phrases that emotionally motivate and stimulate section) and having that line actually work. I would ask if Frank Gray, the author, had ever actually had any success with an actual woman using this book, but he does provide six helpful case studies at the end that I'm sure he couldn't possibly have made up. I mean, I'm sure that lots of people have hooked up with a braless divorcee in the office of a furrier that they were watching while the owner was out of town, and scored with a model while on an out of town trip for an unspecified business, and yelled out to some girl on a sidewalk who was charmed into his car and then his hotel room by his smooth patter.

All that's missing is the case study where he was a fireman astronaut secret agent.

Anyway, just in case you're wondering how "you can become irresistible to women by using the tested techniques demonstrated in this detailed handbook", but don't have a copy of your own, I've distilled the finer points out for you, a process that involved reading the book and putting sticky tabs on various pages while my parents watched curiously but didn't ask questions.

1) Never call it "having sex". I'm sure this would also include calling it "hooking up" if that phrase had been invented yet in 1969. Instead, you should call it "having a love affair", because "the term 'love affair' dispels the harsh picture a girl may have about being 'used'." Because, you know, she's going to get used, but you want her to think that there was something special about it, and if you can convince her that it was really romantic, then she won't mind.

Why? Well, because...

2) Women can't think, because they have feelings. The book makes this clear over and over. "A woman will not respond to logic or reason any more than a deisel engine will respond to gas" (page 5, in the Understanding Her chapter), Gray asserts, in a manner that makes me wonder how many women have been unable to resist their emotional urge to slap the hell out of him. Not only are women incapable of decision and thought because they have too many feelings, but the secret to understanding a woman is knowing that she "longs to feel them surging through her", since they "cause her to take action" and she'd be completely unable to function otherwise.

Of course, the only action they really need to take is to submit to a man. After all, "she wants you to run the show, even if she doesn't want you to know it". Your job as the man is to make her feel things, because that's what she needs, and to keep her from having to decide things, because that's what she doesn't need, unless the things she's deciding include whether now is a good time to let you score, because that's what she does need, but she also needs you to call it a love affair, not scoring. Basically, if you treat all women like Ron Burgundy treats women, you'll be fine.

Now, at this point, you may be thinking to yourself, "But I know women, lots of women, and I'm pretty sure that they're not like this." I would say you might even be thinking, "But I'm a woman," but we already know from this book that if you're reading this and you are a woman, then you're probably only thinking about your feelings, or you might even have reached the point where "her mind goes blank, and she reacts only with her feelings". You're so filled with feelings that you may not even be able to read this far, right? Maybe you should go sit down and take your bra off, and I'll do the thinking for you, because that's what you feel like you want, anyway.

Back to the point I was making, this book explains that sure, you know lots of women, but you've probably never realized before that...

3) All women fall into easily defined categories. They are Single girls from sixteen to eighteen, which "are to be avoided on the grounds of moral responsibility"; Single girls from eighteen to twenty-five, which are "a good pond for the married man to fish in" (don't worry that being married will keep you from scoring a love affair; being married is what's known as "playing with a handicap" in the Scoreman game); Single women twenty-five and upward, who have either "had a lot of men or very few - there is no happy medium"; The engaged girl or the girl who is going steady, who "may be in doubt about her feelings" and therefor ripe for you to help her into a love affair; The married woman; The divorced woman, who "can be difficult" and "may resent all men because of her bad experience" or, I'm guessing, because of her experience with men like Frank Gray, the author; The beautiful woman; The swinger; and The mod chick, also known as "the instant score".

Types like The widow, The lesbian, and Girls who are intelligent apparently do not exist in Frank Gray's world.

Once you've understood the various types of chicks, you'll need to understand the most important lesson:

4) "No" doesn't mean "no". Perhaps this book should have been subtitled "The exciting world of date rape", because that's definitely where this point, reiterated over and over, seems to be going. "When a girl says 'no' she means 'maybe' and when she says 'maybe' she means 'yes'," according to Frank Gray. If a girl does tell you "no" and seems to mean it, "You can usually stop her with the simple question, 'Why?'", because "girls seldom are supplied with an answer to this question" and she'll be so confused by the fact that you asked it and the struggle to sort through her feelings enough to find a logical answer that you can just go back to what you were doing and she won't even notice. In fact, "you must never take 'no' for an answer; we know she doesn't actually mean it."

Frank Gray left out the part where later, you go to prison.

Just remember, though, that even though all girls want it, they all fall into specific categories, and their overwhelming feelings leave them powerless to resist, you shouldn't decide this based on what they're wearing. "A girl may be an atomic broad with ninety percent fallout, but still not be a player," (Really? Did people actually talk like this in 1969?) means that she might wear "tight, sexy clothes and low-cut necklines" but somehow still not be interested in having a love affair with a stud like you.

Anyway, now that you understand girls, you need to work on yourself a little (even though you're already halfway to perfect by virtue of not being a girl) so that you can attract the right kind of girl. What Gray says, in no uncertain terms, is that...

5) Guys need an image, and it needs to be one that thinks for the girl. This even works for nerds: "Many a man has talked his way into bed by impressing a girl with his intellect," especially since girls are so filled with feelings that they will hear what they want to hear, no matter what you say. "If you sketch the romantic picture, her excited mind will fill in the details." Just in case, though, you should keep yourself in shape, clean, and well dressed. And if a girl ever does question the decisions you make for her, you should be ready to distract her with complicated questions: Let her know that you'll be cooking dinner for her at your place, then ask "What would you rather have - spaghetti, or lasagna?" Just by picking a food, she will have accidentally agreed to come to your place for dinner. (See page 57 for more examples of The Distraction Techinique.)

And it's not just you and your image that might need fine tuning. You should also spruce up your apartment. "A luxurious sofa, soft cushions, books, add to the general romantic atmosphere, as do conversation pieces and, of course, liquor." Wait, I should decorate my apartment with liquor? Like just the bottles, or should I soak the luxurious sofa in vodka? "Always have a variety of wines and liquor on hand", but be careful: "A girl can become angry and hard to deal with under the effects of liquor, or she may completely fall apart and there is no conquest involved." Having been to a number of weddings with open bars, I kind of have to agree with that last point.

Getting back to my apartment, though, what kind of books? Current novels, of course, and "some books dealing with sex". That way, if she seems nervous, you can page through one of the sex books together and, again, her feelings will overwhelm her tiny female brain. I wish to God I was kidding. Just in case a book is too long, has too many pages, or not enough pictures, you can use "the better men's magazines, such as Playboy and Esquire" for the same purpose.

Now that we understand chicks, we've remade ourselves and our apartments to be irresistable to chicks, and we've practiced our lines and compliments, let's get right to kissing:

6) There are two kinds of kisses: icebreaker kisses and the message kiss. The message being, "Hey, let's have sex now." To be sure the message is properly conveyed, "Your lips have to be working, moving, talking" and you have to make sure you've properly timed the message kiss. Never hurry, because it shows a lack of confidence, but don't wait too long, because it may give her time to think about whether or not she actually wants to do this.

You should also be sure to grab her breasts. "Some girls will stop you when you start toward their breasts", but that's not because you didn't ask or you're violating their boundaries. No, it's because "many girls are unhappy about the size of their breasts".

Yeah, a straight guy totally wrote this book.

So you've gone ahead and scored. Now, how do you get out of this so you can move on to the next victim?

7) Girls will totally understand if you just stop calling. Don't stop right away. Instead, "you should let time lapse between dates and make the intervals successively longer". You might think you're just stringing her along, prolonging her agony, and giving her false hope each time you do call back and agree to go out again, but really "she will be sensitive enough to realize what is happening, and you will be able to leave her with a glowing impression of how lucky you were to have found each other."

I'm pretty sure that's the glow of female rage, Frank Gray, and that the impression will be delivered somewhere between your legs by a boot.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go class up my apartment with some copies of Playboy.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Thanks for the feedback, Walgreens

Even though today was overcast, I decided to stick to my original plan of taking the pinhole camera to the Old Gray Cemetery downtown, because I'm still sticking with my plan of getting a better feel for the camera by photographing things and places that I am familiar with. I've photographed it in color and in black and white (getting better at black and white was 2010's photography goal), so I figured I might as well photograph it in pinhole, since that's my current kick.

Because of the low light, many of the photos are blurry and indistinct, which the lady at Walgreens was happy to inform me of when I came to pick them up.

"Your photos, they're all really hazy and blurry and weird."

Like your face, lady? I don't come here for your abuse. I have angry Ferro Lad for that. Maybe when you get done building your own camera from scratch we can talk about the photos that you take with it.

Or, you know, maybe I could learn to accept criticism without feeling like the only response is MURDER! SWEET HOT MURDER!

Rather than say any of that, or murdering her, I instead explained that it was a homemade camera with no lenses that doesn't work as well on cloudy days, and she and I had a nice conversation for a few minutes about pinhole cameras, where I learned to make one, and a photography class that she took a few years ago where she read about them. By the time we were done, my photos had gone from hazy, blurry, and weird to "That's so interesting!", so maybe she felt bad about her initial comments.

Either way, she is right. They are kind of hazy and a little blurry, but they also are interesting:

old gray cemetary

That line is a scratch on the film. I can see it on the negative. This line, however:

fallen urns

is some kind of processing error at Walgreens. It's not on the print or the negative, but there it is on the photo CD. I might scan the print in at some point, and replace this photo with the scan.

Or, you know, it could be a spirit photo.

I took several photos of statues, of which these three are the best and clearest:

statue (1)

statue (2)

statue (3)

The rest came out so blurry that you can't even tell they are statues, so I did not post them.

Here's another view of the cemetery, looking downhill:

downhill view

and then these two are tied for my favorite of the day:



I guess I don't have to have a favorite, so I'll just say I like them both.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Sinister Secret of Satan Girl

My friend Steve usually uses an icon of one of the members as his profile picture, which is how I found out that he was also a huge fan of the Legion of Superheroes. Who else but a fan would know who Matter-Eater Lad is, much less have an icon of him? Anyway, we've talked about the icons a few times, and this morning he got someone on Facebook to make me an icon to represent Satan Girl, to use as my profile picture. I, of course, thought this was awesome, but most of my friends didn't get it, and I ended up having to explain to a few who Satan Girl was:

"Oh, she's the villain from the story where all of the girl get a crimson plague and none of the boys can go near them."

Yeah. Someone totally approved that as a plot point. As my friend Prole put it: "Was it bring your non-subtle plot idea to work day?" Another friend, who immediately followed her statement with, "Oh, God, don't write on your blog that I said this," muttered grimly, "All the girls get a crimson plague? Really? And you wonder why more girls don't like comics."

Look, it's not as bad as the issue where all the girls get mind-controlled into beating up the boys by the man-hating queen of the planet Femnaz ("Adventure Comics" #326), and girls could learn a lot from comics. In the same way that comics instilled a healthy moral structure, sense of justice, and respect for the difference between right and wrong in me, there could be similar lessons waiting for potential female readers.

Let's take a look, shall we?

From "Adventure Comics" #313 (1)

Our story opens with the girls out doing superheroic chores, and then suddenly falling ill:

From "Adventure Comics" #313 (2)

Dizzy, weak, and turning red... something's terribly wrong. And in a defiant blow against sexism, Sun Boy manages to escort Shrinking Violet back to the clubhouse without asking if she has the vapors or if her humors are out of balance. He just calmly accepts that the girls are striken with a crimson plague, which the boys don't seem to catch, are somewhat suspicious of, and don't want to be around.

Fortunately, they don't have to be around it, because Night Girl, Legion-reject and secret member of the Legion of Substitute Heroes, volunteers to nurse the stricken girls:

From "Adventure Comics" #313 (3)

But she also succumbs to the plague.

Now, I'd like to take a moment to address my nameless friend: Just because this is a story where a bunch of girls who all hang out together are suddenly stricken with a crimson plague at the same time, and another girl joins them and her crimson plague immediately matches up with the timing of their crimson plague, it doesn't mean anything sexist is going on here. This is a story written by men about a female-only crimson plague and how awful it is, not anything sexist.

Let's get back to our story, just in time for Superboy to be a total dick:

From "Adventure Comics" #313 (4)

He's sending the girls into quarantine with a cheery, "You're doomed! I hope we can cure you before you all die!" and then he doesn't even try to find a cure. Nope. He flies away to another emergency, just like that time that hanging ghosts tried to kill his dad.

And also, that ship he made them all fly to Quarantine World on doesn't even have any chairs. Dick.

As soon as the girls are gone, in comes a potential replacement:

From "Adventure Comics" #313 (5)

I don't really think she thought through the importance of first impressions when she was picking out her name.

"SATAN Girl? Why, with a name like that, how could we not sign you up immediately?"

She kind of doesn't take rejection well:

From "Adventure Comics" #313 (6)

Yeah. She wanted to join the Legion of Superheroes, so she named herself after the devil, then poisoned all their female members, and then told the Legionnaires that she did it. I'm wondering if she decided to take superhero tips from Mnemonic Kid or something, because she's going about this all wrong.

Enraged by rejection, Satan Girl goes berserk, and decides to just go ahead and kill the other girls:

From "Adventure Comics" #313 (7)

Supergirl shows up to save them, and Satan Girl gives her a move that I like to refer to as the Full Lois, right into a tree:

From "Adventure Comics" #313 (9)

They fight for a few panels, and then Supergirl shoots her in the face with her heat vision:

From "Adventure Comics" #313 (10)

Is that not badass?

Supergirl doesn't always get a lot of credit from comic fans as someone who kicks ass and takes names, but deciding, "Hey, this girl's pretty tough. I'm going to just go ahead and shoot her in the face. With laser beams," is pretty awesome. Sure, she was trying to melt off Satan Girl's lead-lined mask to figure out who she was, but still, someone who decides that the best way to solve a problem is to shoot someone else in the face with laser beams is someone that I want in my corner.

It's probably also one of the many reasons why God never gave me laser beam eyes.

Back to the story, there are several pages of Satan Girl chasing Supergirl and the Legion across the galaxy, continuing to zap the girls with her crimson plague beam and then deciding that she should probably just go ahead and kill Supergirl, too:

From "Adventure Comics" #313 (11)

Despite being dazed and weakened by kryptonite poisoning, Supergirl maintains her newly minted badass status by opening a fresh can of whoop-ass: She sics a pack of angry, vicious animals on Satan Girl:

From "Adventure Comics" #313 (12)

The Legion of Super-Pets.

First she shoots someone in the face with laser beams, then when that doesn't work she throws a cat, a dog, and an angry monkey at them and lets them get trampled by a horse.

Supergirl is stone cold, people.

Defeated, Satan Girl is finally unmasked...

From "Adventure Comics" #313 (13)

And she's also Supergirl! Supergirl is so badass that she spent an entire issue beating up herself, thanks to the wonders of red kryptonite, which created a duplicate Supergirl who had to siphon off all of the red kryptonite energy or die. She shot herself in the face with laser beams, just to watch herself die:

From "Adventure Comics" #313 (14)

So, what did we learn?

For starters, first impressions are important, especially when you're choosing a superhero name.

Second, sometimes the best way to solve a problem is to shoot someone in the face with lasers and then let your pets maul them to death.

Third, sometimes girls are stricken with a crimson plague, and boys should avoid them during these times.

And finally, Superboy is, more often than not, a total dick.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

More Pinhole Camera!

I continue to experiment with the pinhole camera that I built last weekend, although some of it turned out to be a bust. I tried some nighttime pictures with a four minute exposure, but all I got was blurry smudges. Either the pinhole is not good at full dark photos, something that the book of other people's photographs that came with it suggests is not true, or I need to leave the shutter open for much, much longer.

For the rest of the photos, I took the pinhole camera to familiar places, as I have the idea that I will learn how to manage it better if I practice on things that I already know and am used to photographing. Since I was already on campus for Open House, I figured I might as well start there.

startling whirlwind, via pinhole

I've mentioned before that I think that sculpture is pretty ugly, but it's softened and almost non-offensive here.

McClung Tower

McClung Tower came out in surprisingly sharp focus, but "Europa and the Bull" in front of it is pretty indistinct:

Europa and the Bull

(Side note: My class seemed rather surprised when I told them the myth behind that statue early in the semester, and that Europa was riding the bull and, later, riding the bull in a whole other sense. Yay for learning!)

I stuck the camera on a random tree branch, too, and got this shot, which I think is really pretty:

tree with yellow leaves

Completely unexpected, but that's part of the fun, I guess.

Before I left campus, I drove up the hill to Ayres Hall, which is recognizable even in this format:

Ayres Hall, through the pinhole

Here's a photo I took another time with my regular camera, just for comparison:

Ayres Hall, renovated

It looks almost like an older photo, the kind you'd find in your parents's photo albums, and I was definitely right last week about things being clearer if I open the shutter for just a second or two longer.

I walked around campus a little more, taking some ugly photos with bad exposures that I didn't like and don't want to share, and then headed downtown to World's Fair Park. I was supposed to take pictures there last week, but ran out of film just as I got there, so this week I made up for it by studying the bridge:

clinch avenue bridge (1)

clinch avenue bridge (2)

under the clinch avenue bridge

and the Sunsphere:

pinhole sunsphere

And I accidentally took a picture of myself:

sunsphere accidental portrait

I guess I need to learn to lean a little further over, to get out of the frame, but there's always time for that next time.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Pinhole Camera

This weekend, I built a camera myself, with my bare hands, out of metal and bronze, because I'm a man, and that's what men do. They build things. OK, it might be slightly more accurate and truthful to say that I built a camera out of cardstock, tape, glue, and tears.

A lot of tears.

But either way, I built a camera, and it works! I am a rockstar.

It all started when I saw this kit at Barnes and Noble:

the kit

with Jeannie and Kristin, when we took Jeannie out to help her recover from her really terrible day. At the time, I carried it around the store for a while, then convinced myself not to buy it and that I didn't need it. Then I went back two days later and bought it anyway, because I convinced myself that it would be easy and fun.

This will be totally easy and fun! It even says so on the box!

In the dark, desperate hours of construction last night I went back and checked, and it doesn't actually say that anywhere on the box. It says "Not a toy" and "Not intended for children", but nowhere does it use the words "easy" or "fun". I just imagined those words there, the same way that I imagined this would be a short, amusing little project.

I imagined so many things, before the page gluing incident.

I had so many dreams.

Anyway, I read the book that came with it, learning the mechanics behind pinhole cameras. If you don't feel like reading the wikipedia entry, in short it's a simple camera with no lens. Light enters through a pinhole to expose the film, and you open and close the shutter yourself. The pinhole camera in this kit is pretty simple, starting out with a few dowel rod pieces, a film cannister, a couple of pre-punched pinholes, and two sheets of cardstock that you punch the pieces out of:

the supplies

The instructions were fairly well written, but should have had a time on there, because there was a lot of gluing, clipping the pieces to hold them, and then waiting for glue to dry:

building the camera (1)

A lot. Like waiting for a total of a couple of hours.

And in between there's time for non-crafty people like myself to realize that they've glued pieces together wrong, to realize that they've glued the shutter closed by accident, and to realize that they had glue on their fingers when they turned the pages and now the instructions are glued together and then a calm, rational person like myself who faces crisis with a level head and common sense has a complete meltdown and almost sets the pinhole camera on fire in the sink.

From Facebook:

OMG. I had glue on my fingers when I turned the pages and now part of the instructions got glued together and when I separated them part of the words got ripped. What if those words were important?

I'm not George Eastman. WHY AM I BUILDING MY OWN CAMERA? I own three cameras already. This is worse than when I took that shop class in seventh grade because they made us and I had to make that little motor and my damn motor wouldn't run for like 3/4 of the semester and everybody else had moved on to birdhouses and screwdrivers and I was still working on that effing engine so I wouldn't fail that damn class.

I'm going to go make some chocolate milk because I'm melting down like Shelley Winters in the back half of "A Place in the Sun" and I'm still waiting for glue to dry and at this point I have probably glued the camera to the countertop and not even noticed.

Yeah. Sometimes home projects are stressful, and different people cope in different ways. Also, if you haven't seen "A Place in the Sun", just click here, got to Part 6, skip to 9:20, and imagine me as Shelley Winters.

Eventually, though, the camera started to come together:

building the camera (2)

and actually look like a camera:

building the camera (3)

and then I was done, and ready to go:

finished pinhole camera

I took it for a pretty long walk, covering two or three miles, and the bright sunlight helped a lot. The pinhole pictures have a weird, blurred quality, and in a lot of them you can see the round edges of the exposure. I think I need to leave the shutter open longer to bring them into sharper focus, but for a first try I think it came out pretty well, and I'm excited to try again.

For comparison purposes, here's a photo I took with the pinhole camera:

gay street viaduct

and one I took right after that with my regular camera of almost the same view:

train tracks (1)

The pinhole picture has a fuzzy, almost dreamlike quality. I guess I could get the same effect by digitally manipulating the photos, but these give me a sense of accomplishment. Some of them didn't come out so well, and some I overexposed by accident when I screwed up the winding for a couple of frames, but overall I think they make an interesting set:

ut gardens (1)

ut gardens (2)

(the wind was blowing the rosebushes in that one, which is why they're so blurry; because of the long exposure, the camera has to stay still and the subject does, too)

ut gardens (3)

henley bridge and docks

(that's the Henley Street bridge reconstruction in the background)


bridge over neyland

walnut street (1)

walnut street (2)

market square and stage


lightpole and ribbon

That's a lightpole with a Veteran's Day ribbon tied around it; I put the camera against the pole and hoped for something interesting.

While I was on the bridge taking the one of the traintracks, a real photographer with a fancy camera arrangement saw what I was doing and heard me counting the seconds out loud, and came over to ask about it. I was very excited, and still am. I haven't used film since I moved to Tennessee, having switched almost entirely to digital, and I forgot what it's like to not know how the pictures look until you pick them up, and to have to wind and think about where the sun is and not have an immediate do-over if you don't like something. I also forgot that you need to carry extra rolls, and ran out before I got back to the car.

That just means I have more film for next weekend.