Archives for : Pet Peeves

Sportsball

I’m consistently amazed by the things that can become momentarily fashionable on the internet. Most recently – and this was, of course, brought to my attention due to “the game” yesterday – an ANTI-anti-sports sentiment has begun to develop on the internet, possibly kickstarted by this cartoon:

Sportsball

I have no problem admitting that I laughed at this the first time I saw it, even though it feels like it’s directed at me. Maybe because it’s directed at me. The last thing I want to do is take this too seriously, but now that there’s a groundswell of support revolving around the “let people enjoy things” line, I feel like I should probably clear some things up about myself, about people who aren’t into spectator sports, and about how we really interact with a sports-obsessed society.

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Stating the Obvious About Valentine’s Day

Love Day is coming. Brace yourselves.

I know it, because white tents are springing up in the parking lots of grocery stores. They are filled with red and pink and white things. Stuffed animals, boxes of candy, balloons. Everything is shaped like a heart. Soon, sad men will be clustering around these tents, picking through the junk, looking for the perfect knick knack to express their unique and eternal love for whomever. 

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5 Types of Undesired Etiquette

Etiquette, it can be argued, is the cornerstone of culture. The existence of rules, however arbitrary they may be at times, that govern how individuals in a larger culture interact with one another is the purest form of social lubricant.

Of course, for this concept to remain relevant, the rules need to evolve over time. New guidelines must replace old ones that have fallen out of favor (for example, people no longer react with monocle-dropping shock when somebody uses the big spoon for their soup). We all understand this on some level, if only subconsciously, and yet certain rules of politeness simply refuse to die when their time is up – no matter how badly we all want them to deep inside.

Jeeves

Come quickly! A salad fork has been desecrated!

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Back Off The Backing In

A small update while it’s on my mind. Normally this would go on Facebook but the explanation required is just a bit too long-form to fit on a fleeting Status update.

People need to stop backing into parking spaces. Post script: Are we not civilized?

Now I know lots of backer-inners (backers-in?). Some of my closest friends count themselves among them. And on the surface it appears to be a non-issue. When you park anywhere against a wall, you will either back out or you will back in. There is no way around that reverse gear, so whichever way you choose, it doesn’t make any difference, correct?

Wrong! People who routinely back into parking spaces rather than out of them (and it’s them to whom I’m writing), do this wherever they go. So parking this way at home or at work usually isn’t much of an issue. They have done it countless times and have a number of small visual marks to guide their way. However, when backing into an unfamiliar parking space these people often mess it up and have to correct a lot. When parking, you are going from a large area to a small one, as opposed to leaving which is of course, the opposite. Going from a large space to a small one is inherently more difficult, so why add to the difficulty by doing it in reverse? You may believe yourself to a be a most excellent driver, and this doesn’t apply to you, and that very well may be true. But it most likely is not. I see people fail to back into a parking spot on the first attempt frequently, far more often than when going in forward.

The second argument against backing in stems from the first one – you are not only spending your own time doing this, you may be holding up others. Going into a parking space, you don’t have the luxury of waiting for the coast to be clear. If someone is behind you, they must wait for you to park, and even if you nail the back-in on the first attempt, it takes longer than parking normally. Plus, backing in obscures your intentions to the other driver. The driver behind you sees you suddenly stop in the middle of the road and throw on your reverse lights. They may not know what you’re going to do. This can be problematic if the other driver is in a hurry and tries to go past. Parking forward-first eliminates this ambiguity.

So why do so many people back in? This is the part of the argument I can’t really answer, because I don’t know. And the Backers of In I have asked about it don’t seem to know either. Sometimes they say that they prefer to leave a place faster than they prefer to arrive at it. It just comes down to a personal preference and there’s no accounting for taste. But we accept that this practice yields no net time savings. It does, however, increase the likelihood of wasting other people’s time, and that is not civilized.

So knock off the fancy stuff.

5 Semi-Current Fashion Trends That Will Look Ridiculous in 5 Years

The interesting thing about fashion is how many people seem to think that it evolves. It’s a common and deadly misconception that fashion trends are improvements upon what has occurred in the past, when in fact it’s more like filling out a Bingo card that allows repeats. Fashion only changes, and the more it strays from “basic” the more ridiculous it looks in hindsight. But we are a bored species so this is unlikely to change until they finally invent metallic silver jumpsuits, which, as we all know, is the Omega of fashion.

Generally, we’re all in the monkey house with this stuff. We cannot easily discern during the fact how horrible our fashion trends are. But it’s a skill that can be developed if you’re excessively cynical. I’m not great at it, but I’m better than I used to be. I remember looking at myself in giant baggy JNCO jeans with long wallet chain and World Industries skateboarding shirt and thinking “Yeah, I’ll most likely dress like this for the rest of my life.”

We’re near the start of the decade known as “the tens” (I guess), and it’s an interesting transitional period. Several of the fashions from the previous decade known as “the oughts” (I don’t know anyone who calls it that) are still in use but very clearly on their way out. That’s why I estimate these will only take a maximum of 5 years to become completely ridiculous to our eyes. You might look at many of these and say “they always looked ridiculous to me”. If so, how very clever you are.

Side note: How Meta is it that this very article will seem comically dated in five years?

T-Shirts with lots of crazy shit on them

Most popular in douchebag circles and peddled by Affliction (among many other brands), T-shirts of the 2000’s became a miniature arms race to see who could cram the most nonsensical, vaguely-masculine imagery onto a single garment. Common objects included skulls, crosses, eagle wings, entire eagles, fearsome animals, old English lettering, and generic mottos including the words “truth”, “live”, and “honor”. My theory is that shirts developed this design philosophy in order to blend in with the collection of douchey sleeve tattoos found on the dudes wearing these shirts. They only got more ridiculous as time went on, adding rhinestones, additional stitching, and metallic foil fabric. It even infected other garments and started appearing on button-up shirts and even the ass pockets of jeans.

I admit with great shame that in the early days I flirted with T-shirts of this style. Not because of all the crazy shit printed on them (which I hated), but because these shirts were commonly made of ultra-thin fabric and fitted (which I loved). I still have a long-sleeved black Affliction thermal hanging in my closet which I would never wear in public, despite the fact that it is very comfortable. I keep it as a reminder of my shameful past, the way Mark Wahlberg most likely hangs on to a single pair of white briefs.

Giant bug-eyed sunglasses

Nobody cares what Paris Hilton is doing anymore, which to her means she may as well be dead. And with her, these giant sunglasses should die as well.

Here’s the first rule of pre-determining whether a fashion statement is bound to look ridiculous in the next decade: If you take a thing and make it excessively big or excessively small, it will look ridiculous someday. Which leads me to….

Skinny jeans

In the 90’s it was all about making our jeans excessively big. For men, it was the entire jean, with back pockets large enough to store a laptop (a 90’s laptop no less). For women, it was just the bottom part, called “flared”. At the turn of the century men’s jeans briefly transitioned to “boot cut” (“flared” by another name, which itself was “bell-bottom” by another name), before finally going full skinny. Striking a blow for gender equality (I guess), men and women alike are now wearing skin-tight jeans that taper all the way down and form a weird arch in the crotchal region. Here’s another rule just for pants: If the fit of the pant makes the pockets totally impractical, it’s going to look ridiculous soon. You shouldn’t need needle-nose pliers to retrieve coins from your pocket.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and risk future embarrassment to declare what I believe to be the only “timeless” set of variables for (men’s) jeans: Mid-to-low rise on the hip, straight leg, fitted (but not tight) in the thigh and just long enough to break slightly at the ankle. No bedazzling or ostentatious stitching anywhere. No faux distressing or destroyed look.

Boat shoes and mocassins

I hate this trend. No, I Hate this trend. Capitalized Hate. It’s the most current of the fads on this list and one of the rare cases where I can look at it the moment it hits and say “that is retarded”.*

What shocks me the most is how suddenly the boat shoe or mocassin became the default shoe for men. No one seems to understand how insane this is. One day I could walk into an H&M or Urban Outfitters store (both the domain of hipsters, I admit) and pick from a variety of shoe styles, and the next I got to choose between one ugly suede shoe and another ugly suede shoe. Here’s another oddly specific fashion rule I just invented: If you can’t distinguish a shoe from a slipper, it looks ridiculous.

This is to say nothing of fur-lined boots worn with Summer clothing and Crocs worn by non-nurses, both of which were out faster than they were in.

* Another instance of this happening was when pre-wrinkled shirts started appearing in stores for three months in 2002.

Deep V-neck T-shirts

These possibly emerged as a Hipster response to the T-Shirt With Lots of Crazy Shit on it trend. The deep V-neck is commonly one or two solid fluorescent colors (or basic stripes) and has a V-shaped neckline that extends low enough to see the entire bony sternum and hairless chest. Naturally, this only works on skinny dudes. These shirts are usually small enough for your girlfriend to wear but if she actually did she’d be showing an inordinate amount of cleavage.

Bonus trend: Suit jackets worn over T-shirt and jeans

I’m marking this as a “bonus trend” because even though I’ve always thought it looked stupid, it seems to have surprising longevity. Men’s Health magazine has been telling me to “steal this look” for what seems like ages. Underscoring the fact that I know nothing about fashion, I could never tell the difference between a nice blazer and a suit jacket. So when I see a black or navy blue blazer worn over a T-shirt and jeans to me it looks like one of those moves akin to wearing casual sneakers with a suit and tie – comically dressing down fancy clothes. Of course, Men’s Health has also been recommending I do just that, so I guess I really don’t know what I’m talking about. paperopus.com

Please resolve the spelling of your name

The English language is very irregular. It was comprised from a mishmash of incompatible cultural influences, archaic words, and defiant grammar rules. But when it comes to names, we have a unique opportunity to resolve some incongruities. I understand that most names have as rich a heritage as anything else, but I think with it being The Year of Our Lord 2010, we’re ready to start streamlining.

I believe that if a person or place’s name is pronounced opposite of the spelling, it deserves to be mispronounced. We need to come together as a society and decide – will we keep the spelling or the pronunciation? But when a word includes very clear and unambiguous spelling rules, but the pronunciation ignores them, we have no right to be annoyed when a person mispronounces.

Here is a list of what I’m referring to:

  • Newfoundland, a Canadian province, pronounced “NEWfinland”
  • Anna Faris, actress, pronounced “AH-na”
  • Spokane, a city in Washington, pronounced “SPO-can”
  • Alonzo Bodden, comedian, pronounced “BOH-din”
  • Poughkeepsie, a city in New York, pronounced “puh-KIPsee” (that one really gets stuck in my craw)

Of course, I had more examples in my head but I didn’t get my blog started quickly enough to retain them all. But you see what I mean. The thing that really chaps my ass is that people who are used to using these names love to condescendingly correct people who mispronounce them – people who may have only seen them in print and were following established spelling rules. If we’re married to these pronunciations, we need to edit the spellings, period.