Friday, September 30, 2011

Don't Make Me Over (Again)

You know the drill. Installments one and two of my portrait project were big hits, so here's part three. There seem to be a lot of folks out there willing to offer up their photos for me to destroy, and who am I to say no? Enjoy.

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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

What Could Go Wrong?

It snows maybe once a year in Portland, and even then it's usually a light dusting of powder that melts upon impact. For the most part, that's how we like it. We're accustomed to our temperate climes, coddled by the cool Northwest breeze, spoiled by the lush views of endless green. And when that fantasy threatens to fade, Portlanders lose their shit. Such was the case in the winter of 2008 (my first year in Portland) when it actually snowed a great deal. Having spent the previous four years in Boston, I was unfazed by the abundant snowfall, but my attitude was not shared by the rest of the city. People flipped out. The city shut down.

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Walking around outside that winter, it felt like the world had ended. Nobody ventured outside, save for a few brave souls on their way to the grocery store to stock up on Tyson Any'tizers® Buffalo Style Boneless Chicken Bites. It was almost eerie how desolate the city felt.

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If there's a point to be made here, it's this: freaky weather makes people act a fool. I hope you'll keep this fact in mind as you read, and I pray you'll be lenient with your judgements as I recount how I ended up in handcuffs a few weeks back. It began, as most things do, with a girl.

My friend Paige was in town for a couple days and I hadn't seen her in a few years, so we took it as an opportunity to reconnect. We met up for drinks and had a lovely go of it, and everything was wonderful, etcetera, etcetera. Cute story, yeah? Well, no. I don't tell cute stories. I spin tales of sorrow and woe, and you should know that by now. Moving on.

It was unbearably hot during our walk home from the bar. Strangely hot for Portland, in fact, and combined with the humidity, it felt like trudging through clam chowder. After a few blocks we felt disgusting.

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That's when we had the brilliant idea to find a pool somewhere, because we're goddamned geniuses. Thinking back, Paige and I made a number of silly decisions as kids, so this night was par for the course. I brought up Google Maps on my phone and located a high school a couple blocks away. We figured there might be a pool inside and set off down the street.

If you're thinking this story can't possibly end well, then congratulations, you are officially smarter than I am. Now shut up.

We found the school in question and set about looking for a door that had been left unlocked, or a window left ajar, and it didn't take long before I spotted a window that wasn't quite closed all the way. It was on the second floor but easily accessible by a flight of stairs leading up to the main entrance. It looked so simple. The perfect crime.

The window beckoned.

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Of course, I obliged. Paige hoisted me up, because I always have to be first, then I lifted her up after me.

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I closed the window behind us and we ventured forth into the darkness of the empty school, looking for a pool in which to cool off. Unfortunately our search proved fruitless, leading us not into the cool embrace of water, but into the dank depths of the school's basement––specifically the boiler room. We explored a bit, but with little to see, we were about ready to leave the premises and declare the adventure a bust. On our way out, we passed a console against the wall and noticed a flourish of activity happening on the dashboard.

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Suddenly it dawned on us that we had clearly tripped a silent alarm, and we needed to escape. Fast. We tore out of the building like our lives depended on it.

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We'd made if halfway across the front lawn when we were intercepted by a cop.

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Within minutes we were both cuffed, feebly attempting to explain to the officer that we were just looking for a pool. We were met with skeptic looks of disbelief, which gave way to pity at the two idiots who wouldn't even consider a high school might be equipped with any sort of security system. A few more cops showed up, and then the superintendent of the school, who decided to make an example of us and press charges. We were separated into separate police cars, and our information was taken.

I find that in stressful situations, I'm unable to take anything seriously and tend to make jokes as a defense mechanism. Even in the worst situations I find myself making jokes, so the information I gave the cop was borderline nonsense. He asked me what my hair color was and I told him "Dark brown, with some gray. More gray than I'd like, but what can I do, right?" It got worse from there.

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Fortunately the cop had a sense of humor. I found out later that he'd listed my hair color as simply, "gray" and would add several pounds to my weight just to screw with me. On the way to the police station we discussed our favorite episodes of COPS.

In lockup they took all my possessions, fingerprinted me, and told me to settle in. I took a seat, feeling out of place in my polo shirt and Montauk Red chinos, looking like I'd been arrested at a clam bake. I surveyed the folks around me. Most of them were drunk or asleep. I was hoping things would stay quiet when a new culprit appeared, screaming about his arrest to nobody in particular. From his rant, I gathered he'd been booked on domestic assault charges, but according to him, he was the one who'd been abused, not his girlfriend.

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I briefly considered mentioning to him that he meant "judicial," not "judicious," but thought better of it. He marched around the holding area for a while but eventually settled down and commenced mumbling profanities under his breath, and that's when another, even louder guy showed up. This one was clearly high, covered in meth scabs, and it was obvious from his scrapes and bruises that he'd resisted arrest. During the next fifteen minutes he made collect calls to no fewer than 8 people, trying to find someone to bail him out. With each subsequent phone call his story changed drastically, but he always painted himself as the victim. Every person he dialed hung up on him before he could get his full fabricated story out.

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The entire time I could feel my heart rate increasing. I prayed that when the guy finally gave up on calling someone to get him out of jail, he wouldn't sit next to me. I'm afraid of very few things in this world. Zombies scare me, sure, and I'm not too fond of bees, because they'll kill themselves just to make you uncomfortable for a few hours. They're like tiny angry samurai bent on seppuku. No thanks. The only thing that makes me truly squeamish are meth scabs, and I shouldn't even have to explain why. The words "meth scabs" should have been enough to make you vomit all over your computer screen. I'll wait while you wash the Lean Cuisine off your monitor.

All clean? Great. While I listened to this dude blather into the phone, all I could think about was him sitting next to me and his nasty methy scabby skinflakes rubbing off on me.

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Fortunately he retired to the bathroom after that, then treated us to an off-key rendition of Hot Chocolate's "You Sexy Thing" from behind the closed door. After that he ceased making noise entirely, and we forgot about him altogether. Come to think of it, he might've died in the bathroom and none of us would have known. I can't say I'm too torn up about it. I still feel itchy from thinking about his scabs. If I ponder on it too much I can almost taste them, and... I just... I need a moment. My throat is closing up...

The rest of the night was uneventful, and after a few hours they notified us of our court dates and released us into the early morning dawn. Exhausted, Paige and I had one thing on our mind, and that was coffee. Like a beacon of hope, we spotted a Starbucks on the corner.

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Properly caffeinated, I bid farewell to Paige, confident that our time in the clink had cemented our friendship for life.  Jail changes you forever, and we now shared the unspoken solidarity that only hardened criminals share. I made my way home and just before climbing in bed, decided to check out the mugshots of other folks who had been arrested for trespassing, and discovered I was in good company.

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In the end, the judge downgraded my crime to a violation, meaning that after some minimal community service, the incident wouldn't appear on my record. Now nobody would ever have to know about my awful decision.

Except now everybody knows. Oops.

My troubles didn't end there. As if to kick me when I was down, fate saw fit to assign me jury duty the very next morning. I reported to court the following week and was chosen for council. During the interview process, I was asked a few questions by the defense, one of which was "have you ever been to court before?"

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Marching out of the court room, I thought to myself, "Would I rather spend a few hours in the clink, or days, possibly weeks on a jury for some girl who shoplifted a tube of mascara?" In an odd way, the circumstances had turned out for the better. A few hours in lockup had saved me from a God knows how long session of jury duty.

Moral of the story? Apparently I can do whatever I feel like and it'll all work out in my favor.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Beard Maintenance: A Guide

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"Adam!" said nobody. "How do you keep your beard looking so fancy fresh?"

Well, figment of my imagination, I'll tell you. It's not easy. It's a commitment, but since you asked, I'll do my best to impart my beard wisdom upon you.

First of all, beards aren't for everyone. If you aren't able to grow a full beard, then you must sadly abandon the endeavor. Beards are for strictly for manly men and ladies with hormonal imbalances. My own beard is something of a necessity, I've found. I grew a beard young––annoyingly young, in fact, and I discovered it was easier to let it grow freely than chop it off on a daily basis.

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This doesn't mean beards are an excuse to be lazy. Far from it. Being a beard owner is a full time gig, and my own beard took years to master. Once I figured out what I was doing, though, my beard became my crowning achievement. I may not have a lot going for me; I can't throw a ball, or change the oil in my car, and I weigh 74 pounds soaking wet. But my beard strikes fear in the hearts of men and makes ovaries explode.

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So, is a beard in your future? Perhaps. The first order of business is to do a bit of soul searching and decide what type of beard suits you best. Think about the message you want to send with your beard and proceed from there.

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If you're a woman, fear not. A hair-beard makes a perfectly suitable alternative to a natural beard.

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Once you've made the important decision of beard style, it's time to commit and nurture your new companion. Treat your beard like a friend and take care of it, and it will return the favor. Neglect your beard, and it may turn on you.

Imagine for a moment that you had a tiny, malformed Siamese twin attached to your side. Having a beard is sort of the same thing. If you don't take care of your mutant Siamese twin, he might grow unruly. The same goes for your beard. Nobody likes a sleazy unruly beard, except for maybe Ke$ha, and she's really not the person you should be concerned with impressing.

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Letting your beard get too massive can be problematic, as it will begin to take over your face. You want to own your beard, not the other way around. Also, it's a known fact that spiders like to live in giant warm beards, and that's just frightening. You know how they say that in your lifetime you'll ingest 8 spiders while you sleep? Well that's technically true, but the average is thrown off by dudes with giant beards. They have thousands of spiders living in their beards, and probably eat 8 spiders every night.

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So how do you know when your beard is getting out of hand? Well, for starters, you should make sure it's a proper beard––as in, on your face. If it extends too far below your jawline you'll start to look like a bum. There's a definite line between acceptable beard territory and the neckbeard danger zone, and neglecting this boundary can send the wrong message entirely.

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Make sure your beard stops just below the jaw, and keep your neck cleaned up with a razor. Likewise you'll want to keep your actual beard clean and trimmed, and there are a number of tools at your disposal.

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When maintaining your beard, it's paramount to do so within reason. Overly trimmed beards can look fussy, and before you know it you're AJ McLean from the Backstreet Boys.

This brings me to my final bit of advice: overly trimmed beards are certainly a faux pas, and under no circumstance should a beard be utilized to substitute a jawline. If you're a heavier fella, or you simply weren't blessed with a visible mandible, then I'm afraid you've gotta go big or go home. A full beard is your only option, unless you want to invest in, like, a courtesan veil.

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There's not much to it other than that. Basically, don't let your beard get gross and you should be golden. In a few months, the ladies will be fawning over your beard, and you can sit back and bask in the sublime bliss that is beard ownership.

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