Life

The Wistful Decline of Nineties Nostalgia: A Short Story

Max is 25 years old

He and a group of his old college friends had just seen Jurassic World. His friends all agreed it was great. They debated whether it was as good as the original..Chris Pratt movie, Guardians of the Galaxy.

At the bar afterwards, they all laughed as they discussed Game of Thrones with another group of friends on Periscope. He did not participate. “Hey Max, you should really download Periscope,” Jenny said to him from a few seats away. “I think you’ll really like it.”

“I don’t know,” Max replied. “It just seems kind of dumb to me.”

“I feel like you just don’t really understand what it is,” she called back, just getting the sentence out before bursting in laughter at whatever was displayed on the phone Sally was holding in front of her face.

“I understand what it is,” Max said, annoyed. He definitely didn’t understand what Periscope was.

“It’s so great that we’re all back together,” an anonymous member of the group proclaimed to everyone and no one in particular.

“That’s for sure,” Karen replied to the anonymous voice. “I haven’t been able to stop eating all night though. I think I have food baby.”

“IT’S NOT A TOOMAH” Max yelled out, taking a step towards Karen and Sally’s bar seats to feel like he was comfortably a part of their conversation.

The room went silent. The whole group took a break from their separate conversations to turn and look at him. “Uhh, what was that, Max?” Dave said looking both embarrassed and concerned for Max’s reputation.

“Umm… you know…like… from…Kindergarden Cop,” Max replied. He was sweating.

The entire group made eye contact with each other, gave Max a patronizing nod and said “yeah, sure, man” before trying to reengage in their prior conversations. “Wow,” the anonymous voice said under its breath while rolling its anonymous eyes.

“We shouldn’t end the night here,” Karen yelled out. “Anybody have a suggestion for what we can all do later?”

“The new season of Orange is the New Black is out,” Sally responded. “We could all binge watch it at my place. We’ll Uber over there.”

Everyone except for Max seemed pleasantly in agreement that Sally had made a great recommendation. He thought there was still some room to convince them of a different plan.

“OR…we could watch a marathon of Fresh Prince of Bel-Air while we have a Words With Friends tournament! We can order some ‘za from my Kindle Fire. And guysssss… I just found my old Smash Mouth CD! What do you think?!?!”

This time the group refused to humor Max. They all collectively pretended not to hear him. Defeated, Max threw the box of Milk Duds that he had brought with him from the movie theater on the ground and sulked away to an empty booth at the end of the bar.

Dave watched him from the corner of his eye. He and Max had known each other since before kindergarden. He put his hand on the shoulder of Megan, a girl he thought he always had great chemistry with in college but nothing ever happened between them, and said, “Hey, sorry to interrupt, but I’ll be right back.”

He walked over to Max’s booth and hinted that Max scoot over a bit so that he could sit next to him. He took a swig out of his bottle of beer, sighed, and said, “Hey, what’s wrong, bud, you’re acting a little weird.”

Dave, shifted around uncomfortably for a second, took a deep breath, lightly put both hands on the table and stared forward as he spoke.

“I don’t know, I guess I just don’t like how things have changed. I miss the days a few years back when everybody was really nostalgic about the nineties. I remember when I used to post videos and jokes about Boy Meets Worlds and Homeward Bound and Zoo Books on Facebook and they would get so many likes. Those nineties references were gold. I was like Jesse from Full House when I made a good nineties reference.”

Dave rubbed his chin and stared at the ceiling, thinking. “Hmmm, Facebook, Facebook, Facebook…Oh, is that that birthday reminder app?”

“Forget it, man,” Max said in dismay. “I just really miss a particular time, you know? Around 2012, maybe 2013 when the nineties nostalgia craze was at its peak. I just have a wistful yearning for that period of time. I wish there was a word for that.”

“There’s not,” Dave said bluntly. “At least not one that I’m aware of. Look, we’ve known each since when? 1995?”

“I was seven years old in 1995, Dave. How am I supposed to remember?”

“Okay, okay. But the point is that things change, but I’m still here and so are all your other friends.”

Later that night..

Max smiled.

“You know, you’re a pretty good friend. I’m lucky to have you and I’ll always be here when you need me.”

He turned off his Tomagotchi, turned on his Macklemore Pandora channel and drifted to sleep.

Standard
Literature

Tinder in the Rye

 Holden Caulfield would feel sorry as hell for all the girls whose pictures popped up on his phone every time he clicked on his Tinder app.

The way those girls subject themselves to the mercy of a left or right swipe of his thumb would be a goddam travesty. A desperate cry of vanity proving they can only appreciate a compliment for about as long as it takes to come out of someone’s mouth.

Then again, Holden Caulfield would have a Tinder account. He’d set up his account with mumblings of disapproval towards the creators and the people that use it. The photos he would use on his profile would look forced and awkward. He would purposefully look distant and uninterested and he would never admit how much a part of him hoped that such a look would be sexy to certain girls.

I had a Tinder account for two weeks before I decided I still preferred meeting women in person. Now I swipe left or right in my head and it’s not a permanent decision. When I would get bored with the app I would extend my radius to 50 miles allowing me to peruse through a nearly endless array of potentially awkward conversations. At one point I thought about the idea of using Tinder in a place as ample in population and condense in size as New York City. A radius of 30 miles in NYC would allow me to judge practically the entire female population of the city.

Oddly enough, this would cause me to think about Holden Caulfield. Eventually I came to the conclusion that Holden basically spent about four days in New York swiping left.

And if Holden did have a Tinder account?

Can you imagine Old Stradlater and all the girls he’d find on Tinder? That bastard. He’d bring some redhead back to the dorms and Holden would admit right off the bat that she was pretty and had a shape to her that made him jealous of Stradlater’s hair for just a few seconds. With locks like that of course any girl would swipe right, only being able to judge him on three pictures; course they wouldn’t be able to tell what a goddam moron he is. Turns out she’d be just as full of hot air so they’d be a perfect match.

The Catcher in the Rye is about a lot of things to a lot of different people depending on when in life they read it. But one thing it’s certainly about is an unfinished product in Holden Caulfield judging a bunch of other unfinished products. Interestingly, Holden might be the most unfinished of all the products. He doesn’t really know what or who he is and we don’t what he will become. But he knows who he isn’t because he stares at and socializes with who he isn’t every day. He resents them. He doesn’t really feel sorry as hell for them but he says he does.

That isn’t a far cry from what Tinder is: a bunch of incomplete pieces judging the incomplete pieces within a 50-mile radius of them; a few pictures that equate to one or two pieces in the giant puzzle that defines you—not even corner pieces at that; just your profile picture that garnered the most likes, from people who actually know and have met you.

….

It woulda made him puke thinking about it. You’d have to be a real sorry sonufabitch to plaster your face on that thing and try to describe yourself in one sentence.

Of course, Holden had his moments of sorry sonufabitch-ness. Quietly swiping through Tinder would allow for a little more preserved dignity than drunk dialing Sally Hayes up in the middle of the night and telling her he’s going to come over on Christmas Eve and trim her goddam tree.

But he needed to talk to someone and that’s why Holden would have Tinder. God knows he’d probably chat up some girl and convince her to meet him at a cheap motel before deciding he just wanted to talk once they’re both sitting on the same bed.

Tinder, above all, is an outlet for judgment. Our hopes to hook up are outweighed by an appeal to our own vanity and the power of being able to judge others.

We crave validation in its most superficial form. Tinder, in its simplistic process, simultaneously allows us the ultimate authority to judge while also forcing us to put our insecurities and ourselves on the line by empowering the judgment of others. The app, even in its crudeness, accomplishes a sort of meta balance.

It’s not a peaceful balance, though. It isn’t a recommended one. It’s like taking a few uppers to balance out a few downers; the balance you reach will be far more chaotic than if you took neither in the first place.

Tinder puts judgment on a conveyer belt. It allows an ever-developing consciousness an outlet to meet irrational desires to judge and be judged. Holden Caulfield’s angst, judgment and resentment towards other people—towards anyone lacking complete innocence—were sad, but they were natural.

He fed it through living and experiencing the world. Thankfully he didn’t have Tinder. He wasn’t staring down at his phone— he looked up in the subway and the park and museum and judged people he could watch move and behave. Empathy is rarely a first instinct. It develops when you live your life around people simultaneously trying to live theirs.

Holden’s journey completed itself and readied him for another. He was by no means a finished product at the end of it, but he did exactly what all young people eventually do: become angry at the world and the people who make it so difficult to live in, flounder in his own limitations and confusion, acknowledge someone or something that makes him happy and makes everything else alright, and then, probably, repeat.

Holden’s journey was more complex than Tinder, but if Tinder had existed then it might have restricted his journey to the simplicity of left or right. I’d a felt sorry as hell for him.

Jonny Auping

 

Standard
Movies

15 Movies That Must Be Made

fraser-brendan-fraser-29845003-1280-1024

For part of my childhood, I was determined to become a famous Hollywood actor when I grew up. 

Now, I didn’t always have this career aspiration. Actually, for the first eight years of my life, I had no aspirations at all. I was perfectly content being the gap-toothed kid who constantly got in trouble at school for eating rollie pollies during recess.

In 2002, things changed. After being absolutely mesmerized by Brendan Fraser’s Oscar-worthy performance in “The Mummy Returns”, I immediately knew what I wanted to do when I grew up. I wanted that Brendan Fraser money, and I wanted those Brendan Fraser honeys.

Motivated by my new dream, I tried out for the lead male role in my middle school’s upcoming rendition of “Romeo and Juliet”. I knew that if I could just secure this gig, my stunning portrayal of Romeo would attract the top Hollywood scouts, and I’d be be living that Fraser life in no time.

Alas, it was not meant to be. Instead of securing the lead role of “Romeo”, I was cast as a lesser-known character called “tree in background”. (nailed it, for the record.)

While my acting career may have been short-lived, my affinity for movies has remained. I’ve even got a few ideas for what movies should be made next. I have no doubt in my mind that these films are bound to become classics. Just Venmo me later, Hollywood: 

50 Shades of Foreplay:
This PG-rated film shows two tight-bodied 20-somethings about to get real kinky, but cuts out right before you see anything cool.

Fast and Furious 9:
Three words. Ghost Paul Walker. 

Mission: Impossible 5:
Tom Cruise tries to get his career back on track.

How To Train Your Children To Realize Dragons (And Their Dreams) Aren’t Real:
Starring Ghost Paul Walker.

Liar Liar 2:
In 7th grade, this girl named Becky farted during Spanish class. Red-faced, she turned around and looked at me, immediately announcing to the class, “OMG Clark farted!”

My classmates roared with laughter….it was almost as if they didn’t realize that farts were simply just flatulence brought to the rectum by specialized contractions of the muscles in the intestines and colon.

What the hell Becky? We both know it was you, not me. You totally farted, you dick.

Toy Story 4:
Andy finds a different type of toy that comes to life in his girlfriend’s bedside drawer.

The OBAMA IS A SOCIALIST Network:
The captivating tale of young Mark Zuckerberg and his creation of a ground-breaking social media site that finally gave racist simpletons a chance to share their thoughts. 

Lego Movie 2:
Just a constant loop of your dad cursing after stepping on the legos you left out.

Spiderman (reboot):
That Seabiscuit guy gets bit by a radioactive spider and dies. The end. 

Seabiscuit 2:
Literally just biscuits in the ocean.

Gone In 16 Seconds:
A movie about a guy who swears this never happens, its just been a while, ok?

Titanic 2:
After nearly drowning, the Titanic sets out for revenge on that evil iceberg. Starring Liam Nesson as the Titanic.

Harold and Kumar Just Ate White Castle:
90 minutes of two friends sitting on the toilet, discussing how miserable their decision to eat White Castle was.

The Grand Holiday Inn Express Hotel:
A quirky indie film about a hotel with a built-in Bennigans near the freeway in Dayton, Ohio. 

I Know What You Did Last Summer:
Because I crept all the way into the “70 weeks old” photos on your Instagram.  

-Clark

 

Standard
Life

DIY Tips for Preparing Your Dog For Its First Snowfall

It’s that time of year when certain states across America are soon to receive their first snowfall. You know what that means; thousands of adorable little puppies will watch snowflakes flutter through the air before landing on their wet little noses leaving them both utterly confused and excited.

But did you know that 972 dogs die each year of cardiac arrest because they can’t handle the shock of seeing snow for the first time? It’s important that your dog enters this winter prepared for what’s to come. These simple tips should really help:

 -Wake your dog up one morning with an aggressive foam machine in the corner of the room. Place a piece of bacon at the foot of the machine and have your youngest daughter scream, “IT’S A MIRACLE!” repeatedly while your dog nervously navigates through the foam on his way to the bacon. This reenactment is as close as your dog is going to get to his first experience with snow.

 If you don’t think your pup is capable of such a high intensity drill then simply start by showering him with confetti while your grandfather downplays the existence of global warming.

 -Sit down with your dog while the two of you watch the 2002 film “Snow Dogs” and make sure he takes time to consider the peculiar career arc of Cuba Gooding Jr. Does your dog even realize that “Snow Dogs” featured rapper Sisqo playing a character named “Dr. Rupert Brooks?” Then how do you expect him to process the inexplicable?

 -Assuming you read to your dog every night, begin reading him Robert Louis-Stevenson’s “Winter Time.” Pay attention to his tail as you read the words “And tree and house, and hill and lake, are frosted like a wedding cake.” If his tail is curled under his body then he still isn’t ready. If it wags two or more times then he is prepared for snowfall.

 -Once your dog is ready to handle snow you’re not out of the woods yet. You don’t want that rascal tracking dirty snow into the house. Teach him to shake snow out of his coat by playing Taylor Swift’s “Shake it Off.” If he is able to shake off the snow by musical cue then Swift will personally take down your Christmas decorations come January. 

Here are a few snow related tips for pets outside of the canine species:

Cat: Put it in a box in the basement until winter season has ended.

Gerbil: Fill its roller ball with processed sugar so that its entire existence resembles a snow globe.

Human Baby: Cover it with vegetable oil before taking it out so that it is resistant to snow and will not become mysteriously trapped in the lower portion of snowman.

 Reptiles: No preparation needed. Lizards and snakes are naturally equipped to handle cold weather.

-Jonny Auping

Standard
(Short) Stories For Sunday, Life

Bugles and Americana

With each passing year the tides change, the leaves turn, the snow melts and the fingertips of America’s youth remain adorned with Bugles.

As one calendar year gives way to another the climate of our globe warms as glaciers melt, artic polar bears starve off extinction in search for environments that permit survival and you look sort of like a witch until you bite off each witch finger because witches can switch back to normal-looking people whenever they want, plus you have more Bugles, anyway.

 From the millions who died in Vietnam fighting a war they could hardly comprehend to the questionable half-truths we’ve accepted as motives for entering Iraq and Afghanistan, America continues to showcase its superiority and powerful intimidation upon the rest of the world while operating in a blurred gray area of what is ethically acceptable and the salt from the Bugles has entered the cut on the cuticle of your index finger and your eyes begin to water.

While the family road-trip to American landmarks such as the Grand Canyon, the Golden Gate Bridge and the Statue of Liberty remains an outlet for domesticated life, what once occupied that travel time with spoken games while gazing out the window as Americana flies by has since been replaced with apps and vain expression through social media. Unchanged is the country gas station where your parents allow one snack each and finding the Bugles never takes more than a minute. Of course, your younger sister, Sally’s dumbass got Sourpatch Kids instead. It’s only a matter of time until she is complaining about her tongue being numb and you’ll probably just stab her in the eye with one of your Bugle fingers.

 It was 1966, as the country was growing weary of the status quo and evolving into a new era of acceptance and expression, that the Bugle was invented. Its early adopters were sitting on their back porches listening to Creedence. They were replaced by the generation sedating themselves with Bugles and the Ramones only to be cast aside by the next era of youth. But no one stopped believing in Bugles when arena rock came around. The Bugle was a place of comfort for those experiencing teen angst during the grunge era. While the music cherished so deeply by each generation became ridiculed by the next, the commonality remained that whether it was a flower dress, a leather jacket, big hair or a flannel shirt, the tiny crumbs of Bugles would eventually rain down on all of them.

 With political scandal inevitably finding prominence in the newspapers and the self-serving motives of politicians becoming only more discernible, we bicker and disagree over the merits of republicans and democrats, of liberals and conservatives. All the while social compromise becomes a sign of weakness rather than the strength needed for a country to thrive. You look down into the bottom of your bag and realize that the last of your Bugles are simply crumbles, no longer in the shape of a cone and you think to yourself, “Do these things even taste good?”

-Jonny Auping

Standard
Life, Television

Should Puppy in Drunk Driving Ad Still Be Worried?

Don’t drink and drive. The people who sell the number one product leading to bad decisions don’t want you to. But don’t avoid it for them. Don’t avoid it for your boyfriend/girlfriend, husband/wife, sister, brother, mom or dad. Don’t avoid it for your friends. Don’t even avoid it for your own life and all the great things you have yet to accomplish. Avoid it for a good looking guy’s fictional dog.

Budweiser really dropped a bomb on driving under the influence recently with an anti-drunk driving ad featuring an incredibly adorable puppy-turned-dog. Will this dog prevent people from endangering their lives and the lives of others on the road? Who knows, but if we spread it around on social media enough then we might all have the courage to ridicule anyone who even thinks about it. I’m happy to do my part. Anything for this cutie:

So we solved the drunk driving problem.

But now that I’m fully invested in this dog’s happiness, I’m concerned about something else entirely: Who is “Dave” and should the dog be worried about him?

At the end of the ad, the owner of Aware Bud (I have given the dog this name as we aren’t provided one in the ad. It’s a play on Air Bud, drunk driving awareness and the fact that Bud is owned by Anheuser  Busch, otherwise known as “AB,” which is Aware Bud’s nickname given to him by Gary, the name I have made up for his owner who we think died in a senseless drunk driving accident, but was far too caring for such a mistake) says to him, “I decided I shouldn’t drive home last night. I stayed at Dave’s.”

You’re going to have to do better than that, Gary, if that’s even your real name (it almost certainly isn’t). This dog just went through an emotional roller coaster. Those wimpers have haunted my dreams since this commercial was first posted on my Facebook feed a few days ago. I’m indescribably relieved that AB’s owner isn’t dead, but I’m a little worried that this “Dave” character could be a problem. Here are a few possibilities:

1. Dave could be another dog.

Could Gary be cheating on AB? He’s clearly the type of guy that talks to his dog like it’s a human, is it that farfetched that he talks about dogs like they are humans?

Look, we’ve all seen this story before. Good lucking guy finds the perfect partner and they get together in the early days. In the beginning it’s all fun and games: early morning snuggle sessions in bed and trips to the lake. Over time things begin to get repetitive and mundane. He doesn’t look at his partner the same way anymore. He develops a wandering eye. He is constantly grabbing six-packs of beer and mysteriously staying out late while his partner remains at home, worried.

2. Dave could be a human he is romantically involved with.

This in itself isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it could be great. Maybe Gary and Dave are truly in love. Perhaps the three of them will form one happy family with incredible Christmas cards.

BUT why are they always staying at Dave’s place? Maybe Gary just isn’t ready to tell AB about Dave and he will when the time is right. This is a delicate matter, he has to be sure first.

OR maybe Dave is allergic to dogs. Then we have a real problem. I’m all for love and romance, but Dave, if you tear these two apart, with God as my witness, I will send so many twenty-something female Facebook users in the direction of your profile so fast your head will spin.

3. Dave could be a cat.

Jesus Christ, Gary.

4. Dave could be one of these guys:

Budweiser has sold us cuteness before. They showed us an adorable dog befriending a clydesdale and reuniting them in a touching moment in between Doritos and Go Daddy Super Bowl commercials. The two animals had nothing to do with beer, but we all bought Bud Lights anyway.

This commercial has about as much to do with drunk driving. It’s a story of a guy who didn’t drink and drive and his dog who really loves him. It’s a commercial for Budweiser as much as it’s an anti-drunk driving commercial. You’re much more likely to think about that little pup when you’re in the beer aisle than when you’re slurring your words and trying to unlock your car.

I’m glad that Budweiser used their powers of cuteness for good, but ultimately advertising is effective with simple cases of association. The association with that dog is the Budweiser logo. That’s what will stick.

Even if adorable #friends aren’t #waiting, don’t drink and drive. You could die. Or kill someone else. If that’s not a good enough reason, then just do it for them:

Jonny Auping

 

Standard
Life

16 Brussel Sprouts That Are Having a Worse Day Than You

It’s only Tuesday. Ugh. It’s going to be awhile before the weekend roles around and nothing seems to be going right for you. Your check-engine light just turned on, you poured a bowl of cereal before realizing you don’t have any milk and your phone’s 4G is being really annoying. Well, maybe this will cheer you up. Here are 14 Brussel Sprouts that are having a way worse day than you are.

The eight brussel sprouts next to the stalk are only 2.1 centimeters in diameter as opposed to the typical 2.5-4 centimeters that brussel sprout farmers are accustomed to finding.

A slightly below average sized brussel sprout? That’s about as useful to a brussel sprout farmer as a can opener is to a penguin. 

This goofy sprout lacks the proper amount of glucosinolates compounds that help reduce the bitterness that would otherwise be found in many edible brussel sprouts. Talk about a bad day for this Bitter Betty.

This ragtag gang of brussel sprouts were served to a heart patient who is regularly prescribed anticoagulants, which, as we all know, is a huge no-no considering excessive brussel sprout intake isn’t recommended to such people because the high levels of Vitamin K  could lead to blood clotting. Talk about embarrassing. 

This brussel sprout was yelled at by Kanye West for not standing during his concert. Is it Friday yet? It is just not this Brussel sprout’s week. 

I hope you feel better.

-Jonny Auping

 

 

 

Standard