Archive for August 2009

In Print

I’ve decided to kick it old school and revert back to my prior days as a print journalist. Check out my first column in the Syracuse University student newspaper at www.DailyOrange.com  (search “Andrew Bank”).

Real Men of Genius: Part 1

In honor of one of the greatest advertising campaigns of the 21st century (launched for Bud Light in 1999), I’d like to begin a potentially ongoing blog-series paying tribute to those who have have reached Real Men of Genius status in my mind.
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Today we salute you… Mr. Flem-Capturing Handkerchief Lover.

(Mr. Flem-Capturing Handkerchief Loverrrrrrr)

Too sophisticated for Kleenex, you prefer hurling your snot-rockets into your great- grandfather Irving’s beloved mucus rag. Your nasal neatening skills show true class, as there are few things more elegant than stuffing a re-usable booger sponge into the inner pocket of your freshly pressed Hugo Boss suit.

(I got it at Men’s Warehouseeeeeee)

You think you’re being traditional and sanitary when wiping your nose with that absorbent cotton square, but in doing so, you’re contributing to the proliferation of the most inexplicably tolerated disguting behavior known to mankind.

(Watch me unfold itttttttt)

Like a chivalrous knight, you graciously offer your prized possession to others when duty calls. Always there to lend a hand for a nostril in distress. ”I wash it,” you say.

(Did somebody sneezeeeeeeee?)

So crack open an ice cold Bud Light, Mr. Flem Capturing Handkerchief Lover, because a gentleman like you really “nose” the way to a lady’s heart.

(Mr. Flem-Capturing Handkerchief Loverrrrrrr)

I’m Back

Friends,

I apologize for the hiatus. I’ve been busy working and enjoying what’s left of the second-to-last carefree summer of my life (it can’t possibly be the same once you have a full time job, right?).

Although I haven’t written in approximately two weeks, I have plenty on my mind. I’m going to take this opportunity to rant a little about what’s going through my head…isn’t that what bloggers do?

THE RETURN OF MICHAEL VICK

So Mike Vick is back. Bring on the witty jokes about how he’s playing for an NFL team named after an animal (14 of 32 organizations qualify). While Vick’s crimes were undoubtedly evil and inexcusable, he deserves the opportunity to seek redemption. The former Atlanta quarterback wasn’t one of these celebrities that got off easy…he served his time in prison and truly seems like he has turned his life around. At 29, Vick is still young enough to revitalize his pro football career in Philadelphia, and contrary to what most animal activists believe…this would be best for their cause! I’ve always believed that arguably the most abused power in the world is that of celebrity. Vick can positively use his influence (notoriety isn’t always a bad thing) to become the kind of flawed spokesman for change America loves. No, it isn’t hypocritical for a former dogfighting supporter to preach about the cruelties of the “sport.” In fact, Vick’s experiences make him a credible expert on how dogfighting is dangerous to both the animals and people involved with it. Animal activists must not make Vick their public enemy #1. Instead, they should embrace the former star and use him to steer others from following in his footsteps.

FENWAY PARK

- Anyone who has never been to Boston’s Fenway Park…go. Now. I recently saw Paul McCartney perform there, and it was truly one of the most special live events I’ve ever attended. Forget the fact that Sir Paul is still (at 67) the world’s greatest performer, Fenway is an age-defying wonder in its own right. I will be heading back to Beantown next week for a Yankees-Sox game, and I can’t wait to see Fenway in its true light.

THE OREGON TRAIL

- How freakin’ good was  The Oregon Trail? This fantastic computer game played a pivotal role in the development of my entire generation! Sure, you thought you were guiding a group of travelers on a journey to prosperity in the midwest…but you were actually picking up essential life skills (along with dysentery and the measles). Teachers knew what they were doing when they put this program in our elementary schools. We all believed the game was an escape from class, but it was really an incredibly powerful educational supplement.

While deciding how to cross various rivers (R.I.P to all of the drowned oxen…you are truly missed), whether or not to trade fruit with strangers, or how many animals to kill while hunting (shooting 3500 lbs of roaming buffalo was okay, just as long as you knew only 200 lbs could be carried back to camp), we were actually learning first-hand about the importance of Charles Darwin’s Survival of the Fittest.

I like to compare The Oregon Trail to dodgeball, because in both games, champions manage to find the perfect balance between assertivness and patience. In the latter, O’Doyle rules…but only if he is able to know when he should hold back and avoid being targeted by the opposition. In the computer game, players must lead their fellow migrators swiftly, but also demonstrate patience during the treacherous winter months (taking a proper number of resting days was one way to ensure your safety). Those who tried to get to Oregon too fast, often got snakebitten along the way (literally, and figuratively).

While I wrote all of this before seeing the video below, I suggest watching if you haven’t ever played The Oregon Trail.

DISTRICT 9

Quite simply, District 9 is the most intelligent and entertaining science fiction film since Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report (2002). I don’t want to ruin anything for you, but if you enjoy occassionally embracing your inner nerd, go see this film. It accomplished everything inferior films like Cloverfield (enjoyable) and Terminator Salvation (miserable) could not. Virtually unknown actor Sharlto Copley’s Wikus Van De Merwe will certainly be a sci-fi character talked about for years to come.

Camp

Last weekend, I took a little road trip with some friends up to our old summer stomping grounds- Tyler Hill Camp. Located in the heart of Wayne County, PA., Tyler Hill’s the place I called home for six summers. This annual pilgrimage is a highlight of my year. After all, there are few things greater than good times with old friends and fine hillbilly air.

While I miss my experiences as a camper and regret never working at my camp, returning to Tyler Hill for a weekend always helps me remember and appreciate this place and the people that shaped my times there. Now, I don’t mean to get all Wonder Years narrator on you, but it’s hard to reflect on camp experiences without sounding sentimental.  I grew up a lot during my time at camp, and going back reminds me of how much my summers meant to me then and now.

Perhaps the greatest thing about camp is its ability to reinforce that it’s people and relationships (whether brief, or long-lasting) that guide us most throughout our lives. Collective experiences are typically the ones we individually value most…and I can’t think of any place where I had more of these than at camp.

I know now something I didn’t back then- life in a bunk with twelve friends and three Canadian counselors was just like fraternity house living, only without the booze and women (still, camp life always managed to be crazy). In fact, camp and my fraternity house have many things in common, such as decrepit bathroom facilities, prison-like cuisine, and strange, wandering wildlife. And like a fraternity, camp also serves as a common bond between myself and others who were also part of it.

Returning to camp gives my friends and I the chance to re-visit our youth through a different perspective. While we were once confined to the pristine campgrounds, we now get to explore the many attractions of the surrounding community. Whether enjoying a stay at the luxurious local motor lodge, or eating at the famous  Diana’s Place (a diner that, I shit you not, prominently displays a sign reading “You Kill it, We Grill It…Proudly Serving Roadkill”), it’s hard not to relish the pure redneck awesomeness.

While the world is constantly changing, very few things look different up here. It’s as if camp, and its neighboring people and places are part of some kind of time capsule (I was glad to see that the trucker-hat-loving maintenance man “Mumbles” is still cruising through the camp on his John Deere). Making the trip to camp is incredible because it doesn’t feel any different either. Regardless of where we are in our respective lives, my friends and I make it seem as if we’ve never left.

Sure, most of my camp buddies came from similar backgrounds as me, but the diversity of personalities is what I’ll remember most. It’s hard to explain, but to this day I still consider my Tyler Hill crew to be my best friends (even if I only see some of them once a year). I guess its because we don’t spend enough time together to get on each other’s nerves. We keep things simple and fun, without having to deal with the issues most other relationships face.

After returning home from my trip last weekend (along the way we passed plenty of highway roadkill that would look great on the Diana’s brunch menu), I thanked my parents for providing me with an invaluable camp experience… one that they were not privileged enough to enjoy. Sometimes it takes a little reminder to see how fortunate we truly are, and that’s why my annual return trip to camp is not only fun, but good for the soul. While every new year brings about more responsibilities and stresses, camp has a way of keeping things real.

Only 358 more days until next year’s trip.

The Old Days

The Old Days