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December 10th, 2004

Well Yeah, But...

Snagged from satyrblade: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory trailer.

Um, well, it looks like Gene Wilder's version crossed with Austin Powers. If you want to go on a Willy Wonka retro fest, that's all well and good and I applaud the impulse, but seriously, why not just watch Willy Wonka?

And ... um ... why does he look like Edna from The Incredibles?

-The Gneech

Joeys, Mommies, and Vinci and Arties

Holidays make Tyson's Corner get even weirder.

Tyson's, in case you don't know, is a minor artificial city shopping center and business district here in the D.C. suburbs, wedged in handy proximity to the Beltway, I-66, and the Dulles toll road, thus making it a handy nexus of stress and corruption. Forty years ago, it was farmland as far as the eye could see, but to look at it now you'd think it was one of those places where humanity has always been. And in the center of this blight on the countryside is the office where I work -- and more importantly, where I go out to lunch.

Tyson's is where the money is, where the hip and happening zoom around being upwardly mobile at each other. So going to lunch around here, you have your choice of the sort of blue-collarey sandwich shop downstairs, the shopping mall, the local Franjipani[1], or sit-down restaurants which take a minimum of an hour and $50. laurie_robey and I generally stick to the blue-collarey sandwich shop, but we do occasionally go to the shopping mall or the Franjipani. At either of these places, during normal lunchtime, we are usually assaulted by waves and waves of Joeys.

What are "Joeys," you ask? Joeys are a particular type of yuppie male, named for their resemblance (at least in hairstyle) to the character from "Friends." Joeys are all 25- to 35-year old metrosexuals (there's that word again) who have dark, close-cropped hair with a little tuft just over their forehead, khaki pants, wharf shoes or some other brown loafer type, and usually a dark sweater or turtleneck. Some may also have heavy, rectangular-framed glasses as seen on Macintosh TV ads.

These guys are everywhere that's even slightly upscale, talking about the game or last night's episode of "Survivor." They're not geeks, not really, but they'd like to think they are. These aren't nerds who grew up and blossomed into sensitive new age guys, they're mainstream guys who have adopted a new mode of living for their quasi-urban environment. Rough and rugged is not the order of the day, here: charismatic and stylish -- without being too stylish -- is what it's all about. (I don't have a term for the female counterpart to Joey, y'know that woman in the black wool coat and polyester slacks over there talking on her cellphone? They're out there too, usually in pairs, but they don't seem quite as likely to haunt the same places we go. Not unless it has a salad bar, anyway.)

But as the holidays arrive, the Joeys get crowded out, especially at the mall, by the mommies. And of the two, I gotta say, I'd rather hang out with the Joeys.

You see, Washington D.C. is one of the stressiest places in the universe, and Tyson's Corner is nothing but a jangle of nerves at the best of times. Add children to this mix, and you've got a constant low-level whining noise guaranteed to drive the nicest person into a frothing, wild-eyed neurotic. Nobody in the greater Washington metropolitan area has any business even having children -- but if you absolutely cannot resist the urge, then you should either move elsewhere, or hire a babysitter. Whatever you do, don't take your children to the shopping mall, are you insane???

Kids WANT stuff. They want it NOW. They've GOTTA HAVE IT!!! That's what they do. That's how they're built. It's not like they understand it, it's hardwired. Developing the intellect to get over that is a vital (and sadly often incomplete) part of "growing up."

When the answer to "I WANT!" is "no," kids then start going through their standard procedures to GET, which range from "sulk" and "get depressed" at the socially-acceptable end of the range, to "wail like a banshee" and "turn into a two-foot ball of impotent rage" at the other end. It's not something you can blame them for, they're kids! They have no power in the world other than what emotional manipulation they can wield. But at the same time, it's incredibly, mind-bogglingly annoying to be around as an adult.

What do stressed-out, charismatic-and-stylish jangles of nerves do when kids go into GET procedures? Duh, they snap. Parents yell at their kids, which makes the kids cry even louder; parents verbally (and sometimes physically) browbeat their children in order to get them to STFU FOR TEN MINUTES. The kid turns around and either learns this same browbeating behavior (because kids instinctively learn by imitating their adults), or internalizes it and grows up with the whacked-out self-esteem issues out the wazoo.

So if you love your children, and don't want them to spend their lives in counseling, don't take them to the mall. They'll be happier, you'll be happier, and your neurotic fellow citizens will be happier. (They won't be considerate enough to thank you for it, but that's a topic for another post. Doesn't mean you shouldn't do it.)

On a Completely Unrelated Note...
For quite some time, I've had a policy of "if a comic isn't e-mailed to me, I don't read it." It's not something I did for principle, it's purely a matter of practicality. However, there finally came a point where there was enough stuff out there that I really wanted to read on a regular basis, that I have created a page o' webcomic links for myself and have been gradually adding stuff to it. Just because I'm in a sharing mood, here's what's on it at the moment:

Webcomics
21st Century Fox
Bloom County
Carpe Diem
Catena Manor
A Doemain of Their Own
Freefall
Gene Catlow
Greystone Inn
Kevin and Kell

The ones that get e-mailed to me and aren't on this list are Bruno the Bandit, Class Menagerie, Newshounds, and Sinfest.

Some of these are recent additions, so I don't know the backstories; Doemain and Vinci and Arti, for instance, are ones that I've only read in fits and spurts, even though I enjoyed those spurts. I have this idea that there used to be other comics out there that I liked to read before my life go so friggin' busy, but I've forgotten most of them, and I don't have the time to go trolling around looking for new ones. (Man, I miss Surf Rat and Spencer! Didn't I used to read something with a perky female skunk in glasses? I know I used to read GPF...)

Oh well, I'm sure I'll add them back in as the desire comes back to me. Having the mental bandwidth and interest to approach comics as a consumer again rather than just a producer is still something I'm not quite used to.

-The Gneech

[1] "Franjipani" is not the name of the real place, in case you're wondering. It's a term I came up with during a conversation with cody_frost and have been mentally using for that type of place ever since. The word "frangipani" actually refers to a tropical plant also referred to as a "temple tree."

While I'm on the topic, I'd like to mention that somebody on Websnark spotted and correctly identified the model for Franjipani and declared it to be "so true!" My work here is done. ^.^

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