April 25, 2013 | Lists
Urinals exist because pub owners were fed up having perfectly good ceramic ruined by drunk guys who couldn’t wait for a stall. In theory, they could be convenient for the vast majority of men who pee standing up – we’re not here to judge those who do so sitting down or after having thrown a roll of plastic over a motel room floor. But in practice it is far preferable to wait for a stall than to stand in front of the porcelain and be subject to the numerous breaches of civilized conduct taking place at nearby stations.
Here in an extension of our earlier guide to Bathroom Etiquette, we offer our male readers – and any female dexterous and bold enough to give it a go – 8 tips to ensure civilized conduct the next time you see a man about a horse (and by that we mean excuse yourself to urinate in a public washroom):
1. It goes without saying that conversation is verboten in this environment even if one utterance from you over your mobile phone could save the lives of thousands.
1b. Whistling is acceptable so long as you keep it at a lower register and don’t modulate to anything too grandiose.
2. Elbow depress the lever. Even industrial strength Purell would be no match for whatever strain of globe-annihilating super flu resides on its handles.
3. Flush that handle as if you’re dynamiting an enemy base — full way down with an eye peeled to ensure it all goes down. Nobody wants two nostrils full of your asparagus lunch.
4. Aim for the middle cake. Much like an eye patch cures lazy eye, you can train your urethra for future snow John Hancocks.
5. The most absurd configuration in the history of pub/restaurant bathroom design is the combined toilet and urinal in the same room with no dividers. Protest against this aberration by using each facility in a manner typically associated with the other.
6. If there’s splash-back, treat the sink like a baptismal pool and explain away the wetness being too close to the road when a car went by (hint, this is much more effective if it’s rained in the past 12 hours).
7. Anyone who’ll eat a urinal cake on a bet for less than what it would cost to buy mid-sized sedan should be electronically tagged and set loose in the wilderness.
8. If you enter a bathroom in which another urinal is in use, pick your spot as strategically far away from the person using it as possible. To judge if you have left enough space, imagine whether you would be able to hit the individual if you decided to stop and turn midstream. If so, move further away.
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April 10, 2013 | Celebrities
Charles Bukowski was not enamoured with Hollywood nor did he find any glory in the cinematic tradition. Growing up, he recounted his experiences at the cinema in terms that would suggest that he did not have a transformative experience out there in the dark while the projector shone – at least not a positive one. In Bukowski’s novel based on his experiences filming Barfly, Hollywood, he writes:
I had seen most of my movies as a kid, all very horrible movies. Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Jeanette McDonald and Nelson Eddy. Bob Hope. Tyrone Power. The Three Stooges. Cary Grant. Those movies shook and rattled your brains, left you without hope or energy. I sat in those movie houses, sickened in the gut and soul.
His literary hero, John Fante, made his living through and had his creativity crippled by Hollywood. His best novel, Ask the Dust, was not a commercial success*, but he did find well paid work in Hollywood where he was put in the mill with other great writers for a buck, his deep talent as a novelist only recognized years later.
Bukowski’s Hollywood reflects this, most of the people in the industry are portrayed as either venal or so completely gone in the absurd world that they have created around them that they are incapable of having a genuine moment. The character in the book that he seems to have the most genuine affection for, oddly, is a film critic. He’s presented in Hollywood as Rick Talbot, though it’s clear that Roger Ebert was the basis for the character. (Ebert’s encounter with Bukowski was also wonderfully captured in this comic).
Some excerpts from Hollywood.
“Sarah and I sat in a booth. It was Friday night and there was a good feel in the air. We were sitting there when Rick Talbot walked in and sat down with us. There he was in our booth. He only wanted a coffee. I had seen him many times on TV reviewing movies with his counterpart, Kirby Hudson. They were very good at what they did and often got emotional about it all. They gave entertaining evaluations and although others had attempted to copy their format, they were far superior to their competitors.
Rick Talbot looked much younger than he did on TV. Also, he appeared to be more withdrawn, almost shy.
“We watch you often,” Sarah said.
“Listen,” I asked him, “what bothers you most about Kirby Hudson?”
“It’s his finger…When he points his finger.”
Ebert had suffered from alcoholism as a young man, joined Alcoholics Anonymous, and went to his grave without a drink. Surely drinking with Bukowski on the set of Barfly would be enough to test the steel of even the most ardent non-drinker. Bukowski kept on ordering the rounds, but Ebert abstained. And he was having a great time.
“I don’t think I’ve ever had such a good time on a set,” said Rick Talbot.
“What do you mean, Rick?” Sarah asked.
“It’s a feel in the air. Sometimes with low budget films you get that feel, that carnival feel. It’s here. But I feel it more here than I ever have…”
He meant it. His eyes sparkled, he smiled with real joy.
I called for another round of drinks.
“Just coffee for me,” he said.
Later they spot “Sesteenov”, maker of the film “Pet Cemeteries”, a director Ebert recognized and was delighted to see. Actually it was Errol Morris, the great documentary film-maker, and the movie was not the Stephen King thing about Poochie rising again with murder on his mind, but the brilliant Gates of Heaven, one of Ebert’s favourite films.
We slid over to let him in. The booth was full.
“Care for a drink?” I asked him.
“Double vodka,” he said.
I liked that, waved to the barkeep.
“Double vodka,” he told the barkeep while fixing him with his crazy eyes. The barkeep ran off to do his duty.
“This is a great night,” said Rick.
I loved Rick’s lack of sophistication. That took guts, when you were on top, to say that you enjoyed what you did, that you were having fun while you did it.
And therein lied Ebert’s appeal. He was the most influential film reviewer of his time by a mile, but he didn’t wear it and there was no pretense there. He enjoyed conversations and had millions of (one-sided) good ones with the people who read his reviews. Ebert was kind enough to retweet us a few times — The 10 Horniest Cult Leaders and the “You Suck” Files, Christopher Hitchens’ best putdowns — and for that and more so his great work, we’re grateful.
*(Though he did, however, have one of the best “reasons the PR screwed me stories” ever – his publishers could not afford to promote his book because they had to printed Mein Kampf without securing the rights, leaving them with hefty legal fees when they had to settle up for the crime of violating the Fuhrer’s copyright. Recounted in his son Dan Fante’s excellent memoir, Fante: A Family’s Legacy of Writing, Drinking and Surviving).