Monthly Archives: June 2014

The Flash is the most boring member of the Justice League

I don’t get The Flash. I mean, I get it, he can run really, really fast. That’s pretty self-explanatory. But I’m just thinking of my own running, I buy a pair of sneakers and five or six months later, those things are all but useless. The soles are, if not completely fallen off, they’re at least severely frayed along the edges. And then the inside cushioning is always usually all but totally worn away, making even the shortest of runs guaranteed to give me a blister or two.


And The Flash, he can run around the world in a heartbeat, right? Well I’m just saying, I don’t get how that flimsy red costume of his is supposed to withstand the wear-and-tear that has to accompany such a physical feat of superhuman strength. Just the friction with the air alone should be enough to melt the fabric off of his skin.

Does The Flash have super strength? I mean, I’ve read a lot of comics, and I’ve never seen him lift anything particularly heavy. So I’ve got to wonder how his body is able to withstand all of that impact. Say The Flash can run a marathon in one second. Right, that’s still a marathon. I run a marathon and I’m totally wiped out, I can’t walk for close to a week. But The Flash runs a million marathons and he’s fine.

And there are so many little things that must constantly be in his way. It’s like when you’re on a long drive upstate. How many times does your car windshield make sudden contact with an insect? They explode right away. What if The Flash took one of those to the eye? Or the back of the throat? And you’ve got to remember that he’s running a lot faster than a car, so impact with even a fly might have potential for a devastating injury. And what if it’s not a bug, what if it’s a little pebble? That happens sometimes.

And breathing. How do you breathe if you’re running faster than a speeding bullet? I know, that’s one of Superman’s slogans, but whatever, it applies to The Flash too. At least Superman has the whole impervious-to-physical-harm powers going on. If he can’t breathe, it doesn’t matter, he doesn’t need to. But The Flash is just a really fast dude. That’s got to be tough when the air around you is flying by at supersonic speeds.

I don’t know, I’m never been impressed with The Flash. Aside from all of the technical problems I’ve already mentioned, I just don’t think that his character is very cool. In fact, I think that he might be a little too fast for his own good.

No, I think that they should make The Flash a lot slower. Still very fast, but just fast enough that it makes sense to think of him as a real person. Like maybe he could run as fast as a car, and that’s it. Which, yeah, I can’t really think of any scenarios where anybody would be in need of someone who could run that fast. Maybe he could go to the Olympics. That would be pretty cool.

I don’t know, would you buy a comic book about a guy that could run just a little faster than everyone else? Yeah, I guess I wouldn’t either. But I’m not buying status quo Flash comics either. Maybe if he had a secondary power, like if he could turn into a car, or make other people pee their pants just by pointing at them. No, I still don’t think I’d buy his comics. But maybe he could be like a sidekick to somebody more popular, like Batman, or the Blue Beetle.

Semi-seedless sour grapes

I bought some seedless grapes at the grocery store the other day, and I’m not even kidding you, they were at least fifty percent not seedless. As in, seeds. And whatever, I’m not a farmer, I don’t know what it takes to get seeds out of grapes, but if you’re going to advertise a certain product, fine, I can see maybe one or two seeds slipping past inspection.


But this was ridiculous. And even worse, the grapes that had seeds, there were like three or four seeds in each one. That’s like, at that point, you’re eating more seed than fruit. And I don’t necessarily mind seeds. Sunflower seeds? Fine. Pumpkin seeds? I’m not a huge pumpkin seed fan, but if you’re enjoying pumpkin seeds, that’s cool, do your thing.

But you never see anybody eating just grape seeds. Why? Because you take one accidental bite of a grape seed and the entire inside of your mouth gets really astringent. “It makes everything taste gross!” this was me, I brought the half-eaten bag of grapes back to the grocery store. Which, yeah, it is a little petty, like who goes back to the store to return grapes?

And like I said, maybe if it were only a few grapes, maybe even like ten or fifteen seeded grapes, maybe I could have let it slide. I would have been pissed, sure, but I’d have gotten over it, eventually. But this bag, it was like every other grape, sometimes two in a row, seed after seed.

“What do you want me to do about it?” the grocery store manager said, and I didn’t know, I didn’t think this far ahead. Now that I had this guy’s attention, it became painfully obvious, the grapes, the store, the money in my pocket, I had no idea what I was doing here.

But then I got a crazy thought, I imagined this guy in the back of the store, like a drug dealer cutting his Colombian snow with flour or baking powder, he was carefully measuring a select amount of seeded grapes to sell alongside the premium products. He’d run some numbers on a really old-fashioned calculator and, after figuring out just how much he was squeezing out of us, the unwitting customer, too meek to even challenge his little grape ring, he’d start to laugh, slowly at first, but increasingly more menacing, until somebody from the floor had to check in on him, to make sure there wasn’t anything wrong.

But how to express concern about such a potentially legitimate albeit highly unlikely scam? So I just said to him, “I don’t know man, but these grapes were terrible.”

“Yeah, well, how long did you keep them in the fridge for?”

And I was like, “I don’t know, five days? A week?”

And he just shook his head, “Nope, sorry, no returns on produce after three days,” and he held out three fingers, just in case I wanted to count along.

“Hey man, I didn’t say anything about a refund, OK, I just …”

And what did I want exactly? Again, a refund would have been nice, but after denying me one before I even had a chance to suggest restitution, now it wouldn’t make sense to argue for my money back. And yeah, I did eat like half the grapes.

“Well, can you at least get rid of these for me?” and I handed him the bag, pretending to then storm out of the grocery store. But really, I was watching him from the outside. I wanted to see if what I thought was going to happen would actually happen, that he’d take my rejected seeded seedless week-old grapes and mix them in with the fresh produce. Then I’d storm in and go, “Ah-HAH!”

But he didn’t. He just threw them in the trash and then started yelling at some box boy for stacking the boxes on the shelves the wrong way.

When I was a little kid, my family had a pet owl

When I was a little kid we used to have this pet owl. I’m pretty sure it’s super illegal to keep owls as pets, but that never crossed my mind when I was younger, he was just kind of there in the background of my childhood, Oggie the owl. I’m not even sure that’s how you spell Oggie. I’ve never had to write it down before. My dad brought him in the house after having found him lying wounded by the side of the road. My little brother at the time was barely old enough to talk, and he kind of toddled into the living room where my dad was wrapping up the bird’s injured leg in white gauze and mumbled something unintelligible in his two-year-old baby voice. Something he said must have sounded like Oggie, because everyone laughed and it just kind of stuck.

Owl in a cage

Every memory that I have regarding Oggie is really fuzzy, probably because we were all so young, and so whenever my brothers and sisters and I talk about our family mascot, there’s really very little in the way of verifying any of the sounds and images we all have kicking around in our memories. And another part of the uncertainty has to do with the fact that we can never talk about any of this stuff when my parents are around. They absolutely forbid even a passing reference to the bird. I’m pretty sure somewhere along the line, someone got word of the owl, that someone gave my dad a pretty serious warning, about how they’re protected animals, how you can’t just go caging them up inside.

It was a pretty big cage. At first Oggie didn’t need a cage, because he was injured, his leg was really messed up. And so my dad just put him in this cardboard box lined with newspaper and Styrofoam packing peanuts. It was fine, he wouldn’t move much. But once he started regaining even a little bit of his mobility, it became clear that we needed some boundaries. I remember one time my little sister, she wasn’t even walking yet, she crawled over to Oggie’s box with that cute I-want-to-play-with-my-pet-bird look on her face, and Oggie surprised all of us by hopping out of the box, fast, he was like face to face with my sister, and he let out this insanely loud screech. Worse, I mean, his feet were still heavily bandaged , so there wasn’t any real danger, but he started pawing at my sister’s face. Imagine if those talons were exposed, that would have definitely been a trip to the emergency room, at least.

My dad confined Oggie to a corner of the living room. He bought some chicken wire at Home Depot and affixed it floor-to-ceiling right next to where we had the TV. He cut out a portion of the wire and that kind of served as a rinky-dink door, so we could clean out his cage, tend to his wounds, and give him some food.

I remember that being a problem, figuring out what he’d eat. My parents did a little research and discovered that owls in the wild were predators, that they eat things like live mice. But my mom, who already wasn’t really too crazy about the whole owl-in-the-house thing, I remember her putting her foot down at one point, telling my dad, “There is no way we are keeping a box of live mice in the house to feed that goddamn owl!”

So there was a lot of trial and error. It would have been nice if he’d taken to any of the various bird foods that my parents bought at the pet store. But after a full two days of being surrounded by several bowls of different types of seeds and pellets, Oggie still hadn’t even considered eating anything we offered, and he started freaking out, hopping from spot to spot, gnawing at various parts of the chicken wire, and eventually, that shriek. It got to a point where all he did was stand there and let loose with that piercing cry.

My mom was worried that the neighbors were going to call the cops, so in a desperate attempt to shut Oggie up, she cut up some raw chicken from the fridge into these bite-sized strips and laid them out on a plate and pushed it through the slot in that fence. It worked, and it was weird, the whole owl-chicken thing. I remember asking my mom, “Mom do you think Oggie gets sad that he has to eat other birds?” and she told me something like, “No, that’s how they do it in the wild,” which seemed like a good enough answer at the time, even if I couldn’t make sense of why they’d waited so long to give him chicken, trying out all of those bird seeds that, still kind of just lying there scattered around all of those bowls toward the back of his cage, steadily attracting lines of tiny ants.

From my little kid perspective, I remember it like he was always there in the corner, not responding to our calls, swiveling his head from side to side, occasionally staring at one of us intently and almost menacingly for hours upon end. But really he could have only been there for a few months, tops. Eventually the house started smelling terrible, my mom wouldn’t let us have anybody over the house, telling us not to talk about Oggie with anybody at school, not like anybody believed us.

But we all got the sense that it was coming to end, the way my mom started cursing under her breath whenever she’d cut up Oggie’s chicken, or the late-night fights my parents had behind their closed bedroom door. One day we came home from school and Oggie was gone, along with any trace that we’d ever had a pet owl.

“We donated Oggie to a zoo,” was all that my mom offered as an explanation as to his disappearance, changing the topic abruptly with, “But good news, now you can have all of your friends over later this week!” Which wasn’t good news at all, because even though my parents told me not to mention Oggie around my friends, it was practically all I could talk about. Every time we had arts-and-crafts, I’d draw pictures of him, I’d mimic his screech out in the playground, I was owl obsessed.

And I could just see it in my head, all of my friends coming over, the first thing they’d say is, “See, I told you he didn’t have a pet owl,” which they all did. And my mom kind of laughed it off, like, “Pet owl? Ha!” all while giving me that look, like, you told them about the owl? What did I tell you about talking to your friends about the owl? You just wait until everybody leaves.

My brain is empty

Sometimes I can’t get my mind to think about anything. A lot of the time, I’ll just start writing about how I can’t think of anything to write about. But this is different. I’m sitting here and I can’t even describe what’s going through my head right now. It feels like there’s nothing turned on . It’s like, usually if I’m really struggling I can at least start by just acknowledging where I am, what I’m doing.


Like right now, I’m sitting here at my kitchen table, I can hear the birds outside doing their thing. Sometimes just writing out an observation like that will jog something, all of the sudden I’ll realize that I haven’t been thinking about nothing, that there’s always something going on inside that I just haven’t been aware of.

But right now? I don’t know. I’m just sitting here. I’m typing on a really old laptop that my parents gave me after my house was robbed a little over a year ago. I remember at the time it felt like life was over. They got our computers, my XBOX, it was a mess. But now it doesn’t really feel like a big deal anymore. I don’t get to play video games, but that’s probably a good thing, because every once in a while I’d lose five or six hours at a time playing some online first-person shooter, getting yelled at by twelve-year-old gamers kicking my ass from all around the world.

And this computer is old, but it works fine. I bought more memory, upgraded the operating system. Aside from the cosmetic differences, it’s more or less the same than any new computer. Although, a couple of months ago, the screen died. I thought that it was going to be this huge deal, getting a replacement part, having it installed. The guy at the Genius Bar was like, “Even if Apple still made parts for this machine, which it doesn’t, it won’t make sense to put more money into an eight-year-old computer. Sorry.”

So I was a little bummed about that. But then on a whim I took it to one of those “We fix computers!” shops all the way downtown, and this Chinese guy took the computer out of my hand, unplugged it, plugged it in, started and restarted it a few times, and then held down command, option, r, and p, and bingo, it came to life. I couldn’t even understand what he was trying to tell me, but he wouldn’t accept the money I was holding out.

OK, so I just wrote about my computer. It was boring, but it was something. And I don’t think that I was thinking about that story before I started writing about how there was nothing going on inside of my head.

Right before I sat down to the computer, I got out an ice-cold can of Coke Classic from the fridge. I don’t drink soda that often, but I love it. I love drinking soda. I try not to keep it in the house because I know that, if it’s there, if there’s ice-cold Coke at my disposal, I’ll always go for it. Like right now. I don’t know how they got in there, but there were like three cans just right there, I noticed them yesterday.

And so I’ve been drinking them. And I don’t know what your opinion is, but to me, Coke is at its absolute best when it’s drank right out of the can. It just tastes better. You know what never tastes good? Coke out of a twenty-ounce bottle. It always tastes less carbonated, not as flavorful. I keep thinking that there has to be a reason, but nothing really makes sense in my head. So maybe it’s just that, maybe it’s all in my head. Maybe I don’t know what I’m talking about.

Maybe this is as good as it’s going to get today, talking about old computers and Coca-Cola in a can. Is that better than nothing? I don’t know. I’m trying to think about it but I can’t come up with any conclusions. My mind’s a total blank.

The ABCs of Astoria, Queens

A is for Astoria is the best place in NYC.


B is for the Bel Aire Diner, the best diner in Astoria, and therefore, in the whole city.

C is for Christos Steakhouse, the greatest steakhouse in the history of steakhouses.

D is for Ditmars, second only to Broadway in being the most awesome thoroughfare in the borough.

E is for the everything bagel that I always get when I go to Brooklyn Bagel on Broadway.

F is for the free can of Coke that I always get when I order a combo meal at Fatima’s Halal Kitchen, the best Chinese food place on planet Earth.

G is for Gleason’s Pub, where one time, my trivia team almost finished third place. (We blew it by wagering too much on the last question.)

H is for the Hellgate Bridge. It’s so fucking cool. And it’s in Astoria.

I is for Icahn Stadium, where I saw the Warped Tour when I was in high school. It’s really close to Astoria. You just have to take the Triboro Bridge and get off before entering Manhattan or the Bronx.

J is for my friend Jim, he lives on 36th Street in between Broadway and 31st Ave. He has this ridiculous setup in his apartment with a gigantic projection screen and an XBOX Kinect. We have so much fun playing video games together. Hey Jim, if you’re reading this, what’s up man? You want to play some DDR later tonight? (If you don’t have plans already, that is.)

K is for Kans, a sports bar on Steinway. It’s OK … just OK.

L is for Loukaniko, some sort of a Greek sausage. They have it all over Astoria. It’s awesome.

M is for Manhattan, currently in a four-way tie for second-best borough in New York City. (A distant second, I might add.)

N is for the N train, which takes you to Astoria.

O is for Omonia, the bakery that made the wedding cake for the box office hit, My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

P is for Passion Hair and Nails on Broadway, where they just raised the price of a men’s haircut from ten to twelve dollars. (It’s cool. I still love them.)

Q is for the Q train, which also takes you to Astoria. (Just not late night or on the weekends.)

R is for the R train, which has several Astoria stops. It’s also for the Rite-Aid on Broadway and 21st, which just had a massive renovation, and is now open 24 hours.

S is for Socrates Sculpture Park, where one time I let my dog off his leash, and he started terrorizing some neighborhood kids. A park guy came up to me and was like, “Hey man! Get your dog under control!” and I was like, “What do you mean? I thought this was a leash-free park!” and he was like, “Nah man, not until nine. Either before nine or after nine,” and I was like, “Isn’t it always technically either before nine or after nine?” and then he just got really pissed off.

T is for the taco truck on Broadway and 36th Street. The best tacos in North America.

U is for Uncle George (RIP.)

V is for the V train (RIP.)

W is for the W train (RIP.)

X is for X-Men: Days of Future Past, which I saw at the Regal Theaters on 38th Street in Astoria, the best movie theater in the city.

Y is for Your favorite neighborhood in the city, Astoria.

Z is for Zenon Taverna (I’m not sure if it’s spelled with a Z or an X, but you pronounce it Zenon Taverna.)