So it’s St. Valentine’s Day again. A holiday some see as cheap, outdated, and as manufactured as those chalky heart candies with sappy phrases on them like “Be Mine,” or “Fax Me.” I actually L-O-V-E the novelty aspect of holidays. It allows me to segment seasons and adorn my mental calendar with cute symbols like stars, hearts, and horseshoes, clovers and blue moons. Wait . . . that’s Lucky Charms. Well, you get the picture. Holidays are great time markers, and, for many, Valentine’s Day is that kitschy, kissy, mushy, gushy, knick-knack-paddy-wack-give-your-man-some-bone kind of celebrations. It’s the Queen of Hearts in the holiday hierarchy. I remember the excitement of handing out my Duck Tales and Captain Planet valentines in the second and third grades. And getting $5 and a sentimental card from my grandmother every year. And reading the Whitman’s Sampler chocolate chart like a treasure map. In high school, my best friend and I licked the red letters off those heart candies, re-wrote messages like “Eat Me,” and left them in random places for people to find. It’s those fond memories that have always set the day apart for me and made it a treat. Now don’t get it twisted, I understand the marketing aspect of Valentine’s Day, too. I see it just like every other holiday — arriving three months early — screaming into a megaphone: THE MORE YOU SPEND, THE MORE YOU CARE! followed by that annoying Parisian police siren. I totally see it as a means for big business to turn a profit. Some people feel really pressured by that aspect, or hate that the man is pressuring them to prove their commitment through purchases, but I don’t buy into that, “Valentine’s Day was created by card makers,” stuff. Not because I don’t believe it’s true, but because I literally don’t buy it. I JUST ENJOY THE HELL OUT OF SEEING IT. So peep this, sweethearts — in honor of the big V, let’s gain a little perspective on how our history of this celebration has always been a little bit sweet and a little bit fucked up via some of my favorite vintage valentines from the past. A time when . . .
food puns were in vogue and extra corny . . .
spousal abuse was an Olympic Sport . . .
love caused chlamydia . . .
racial prejudices were, AWWWW, super cute!
vaginas had code words . . .
virginity was sacred . . .
confidence was a virtue . . .
condoms were an afterthought . . .
Satan wrote, directed, produced, and starred in every porno . . .
Valentines, like most of these cards, are Made in the USA, and have become a glittery, ruffled symbol of love in a consumerist nation. But there’s something about old-timey Valentine’s Day nostalgia that blankets the heart. It’s our need for the good ol days that fuels this modern machine until, eventually, it outpaces us for good. And maybe that’s ok, because, although love is a universal language, there’s something inherently American about blowing your entire affectionate load on one day — it translates as efficiency — with a creamy caramel center. Enjoy!
HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!
When I was younger I loved playing detective and was fascinated with the various gizmos my favorite artoon characters used to solve crimes. Inspector Gadget was a brilliant amalgam of both. I wasn’t so much interested in his hat-copter, or even his finger tip skeleton key, but more so with his niece Penny’s computer book and communicator watch. I probably asked Santa for a computer book four Christmases in a row, imagining a geek squad of elves could make it happen. Sadly, it didn’t, and since late 80s, early 90s mechanization wasn’t up to par with the animated world, I improvised . . . with the Bible. I penciled radars and dials throughout Revelations and crayoned multicolored buttons all over Leviticus. Despite my utter devotion to the digital tome and all its features, the communicator watch that Penny used to contact her best pal and humanoid pooch, Brain, remained my personal favorite. Fortunately, I had a great representation in the form of a digital Super Mario Bros. game watch. It beeped, it blinked, it was next to perfect. Every trip to Kmart or Food Lion with my parents became an Inspector Gadget case where Dr. Claw manned all the cameras in the store, and I could be seen (or not) between racks of Jordache acid wash jeans and Lay’s potato chip displays whispering to a cartoon dog through my watch.
Now, twenty years later, THE FUTURE IS HERE, and cartoon fantasy has become reality through the innovations and technological advances of companies like Microsoft, Google, Facebook and Apple. The Apple iPad was the first tablet computer to gain real commercial success upon its release in 2010. That’s when I realized that a tool once powered only by my imagination had come to life. Here was Penny’s computer book — slim, mobile, adept — tangible. As if that wasn’t enough to perk up my inner-child, rumors have been swirling about an iWatch prototype. WHAT?! Uh huh, Penny’s communication device could soon be within my wrist’s grasp, that is, if Apple decides to go forward with development. Reports say the iWatch will be wound with iOS, the same operating system as the iPhone, iPad and iPod. Suffice it to say, if there were a re-boot of Inspector Gadget, Penny could very well chat with Brain via Face Time. My only query is if kids today would even consider utilizing these high tech inventions to expand what only my imagination could conjure once upon a time, or if they would simply be sidetracked by games like Fruit Ninja and Angry Birds Space. Wowsers!
(not my wrists)
After months of success in the box office, and recent wins at the Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild Awards (snagging best directer and best cast), I finally decided to see “Argo,” Ben Affleck’s third film as director and second film starring himself and co-starring his rockin’ abs. Unlike their wicked-hot sculpted, sweat glistening debut in, “The Town,” it’s Affleck’s abs’ delightfully hairy performance in “Argo” that rockets the audience into the 70s time period and clearly overshadows countless butterfly collars, chevron mustaches, and that one banana-colored Pontiac Trans Am on the freeway. Although appearing in a mirror for mere seconds, Affleck’s abs are, in totality, a testament to the science fiction aspect of the movie. HUH? you say. What about Iran? The rescue mission? The fake Hollywood script? No. If you saw the movie, you also witnessed the horrible, fatty-fat carb-o-loaded fast food diet Affleck adopted after a split with his old lady — the Chinese take-out boxes lining his hotel bed, that McDonald’s Quarter Pounder with Cheese he wolfed down while on the phone with his son — If those hard, but gently rolling fur mounds aren’t proof that aliens were somehow involved in his workout-less lifestyle, I don’t know what else to tell you. What I can confess is that while the film’s core performance didn’t inspire me to go crunch crazy, the wonderfully punny signature line, “Argo fuck yourself,” was a great piece of instructional advice — I have the hairy palms to prove it.