Saturday, December 31, 2016

What to Wear Cross Country Skiing: A Guide for Noobies

Most people are their own worst enemies when it comes to dressing right for cross country skiing. The possibility of being cold gives noobies panic attacks. They think to themselves, "It's better to be warm than cold because you can always take something off."

I'll grant you, there's some logic there, but only if you dress so it's possible to remove a layer and not be left in only your sweaty underpants.

If I were a brand new, or almost brand new, cross country skier, this is what I would wear. But first, let me run through my assumptions:
  • I'm assuming you will fall down a few times. It's almost inevitable, even if you are a downhill skier. Some of the best schadenfreude I've ever had the pleasure of indulging in was watching cocky-ass downhill skiers put on a pair of cross country skis for the first time ever. It takes them about five minutes to get their shit together, but those five minutes are bloody terrific.
  • I'm assuming you'll be doing a bit of standing around, either to listen to an instructor or to pause at the top of a hill and wait for everyone to clear out of your potential crash zone.
  • I'm assuming you are not skate skiing. In fact, I'm assuming you don't even know what skate skiing is. 
Also one last fashion pointer for downhill skiers:
  • Pretty much don't wear anything you wear downhill skiing to go cross country skiing, except maybe your underwear and socks.
  • This means, do not wear your hat, your coat, your pants and under no circumstances, your goggles.
Without further ado, here's your cross country skiing outfit checklist:
  • A running t-shirt, but take two with you so you can change at lunch. Something like this:



  • A thermal long sleeve shirt (not fleece). Something such as:
  • A vest. This vest should not be puffy, it should not be fleece. Go with something thermal with a high neck and a zipper in front like:
  • If it's really hella cold out there (like 20 degrees below freezing), or if you know for a fact you'll be standing around a lot, you could add this on top of everything aforementioned so you can easily remove should you start steaming in your own juices:



  • A shell jacket. This jacket should not be insulated, just windproof and breathable:


  • On your legs, wear one or two pairs of running tights or one pair of long underwear, not cotton. If you're going the long underwear route, get some polypropylene or whatever the new fangled version of polypropylene is called these days.
  • Some sort of waterproof shell pants. These shell pants should be breathable and not insulated. It's best if they have legs wide enough that you can get them on or off over your ski boots so you can strip 'em off when you go in for hot chocolate in the lodge:
  • Bring along three pairs of heavy smart wool socks so you can change if your feet get sweaty. Definitely not cotton. If you want to get fancy, wear one thin pair of smart wool socks, and then one thicker pair. This helps avoid blisters. Another way to avoid blisters is to put silk tape all over the back of your heels and then smear Vaseline all over it. You're welcome, tip of the year, there.
  • For your hat, wear a hat you'd see a runner wear. Some kind of low profile knit affair. Or wear a beanie or a doo-rag and a knit cap over the top of it. It should look like this:




  • Wear a fleece scarf or some sort of scarf big enough that it can cover your chin and mouth when you zoom down a black diamond or the wind starts blowing.
  • My hands get cold, so I wear lobster claw gloves. It'll be a little trial and error to find a pair of gloves that work for you, so bring every glove or mitten you own and try them all out. If you have a pair that are windproof but not too bulky, those might be your winners.
  • Hand warmers and toe warmers.
  • Tie your long hair back. It's a disaster if it starts snowing and your hair gets wet and plasters itself to the side of your face.

If you click on any of the links to Amazon above, apparently I'm supposed to get some sort of cut. They say I'm supposed to mention this. Check that box, even though I've had this blog for ten years and have never, not even once, received one red cent from anybody clicking through on anything. Not sure if this is because my biggest fan is my mother and she has a high tolerance for consumerism or if I never actually set up my Amazon account right. Either way, consider yourself in the know and have a great time skiing!

Saturday, December 03, 2016

A Penny Arcade Discussion Guide

To be candid, I was taken by surprise last night at Penny Arcade's performance at St. Anne’s Theater in DUMBO. Apparently, when I buy tickets to shows, I’m more of a “look at the pictures” kind of online shopper. Here’s the show promo:


I thought we signing up for some sort of drag cabaret. I thought there might be cake. I was wrong. 

In case you are unfamiliar with the work of Penny Arcade, as I was until yestereve, let me clue you in. She’s a 60ish ingenue formerly of the Andy Warhol set. She's hell bent to rage against the machine for 90 minutes. Except it’s not a rant. It’s art. This was a thing in the early 80s downtown.

I can distill 90 minutes with Penny Arcade into four bullets, and I mention this because it’s actually my main point. But here we go:

  1. Penny Arcade considers herself in the “control group” immune from the idiocy perpetuated by uptight suburbanites and their entitled lily-livered, gay and straight children who indulge in artisanal ramen and fancy cocktails and cry great wailing sobs when someone calls them by the wrong pronoun or dares to say something the hive mind rejects.

  2. Penny Arcade is in this "control group" because she has never seen Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Arc or Sex in the City.

    Also because in the east village in the 70’s, a plus-sized, topless beatnik jabbed a meth needle in her ass, right through her clothes, and she learned a valuable lesson that night.

    And lastly, because she is very smart. Much smarter than anyone who didn’t go to Max’s Kansas City every night for a decade and have words with Patti Smith.

  3. Penny Arcade bitches about slow-walking tourists who don’t look where they’re going and run right into you. She dislikes Hummer-sized baby carriages in Park Slope. She also has a problem with hipsters and cupcake shops. She pinpoints gentrification as a problem because local communities lose their unique identity.

  4. Maybe because of her "control group" status, Penny Arcade seems unaware of the 400-500 stand up comedians and 90% of the NYC journalism community who have already beaten the tourist, baby carriage, hipster and gentrification memes into one big-ass vapid chestnut.

    I gather there’s a certain cohort who loves Penny Arcade and it’s not a crew I particularly want to upset. First, she's well-loved by your old queers (her term) who were part of the larger-than-life Lou-Reed-ish scene back in the day, or at least were part of it in their imaginations. 

    Also there’s younger white folk sporting vintage hats hooting and clapping and desperately seeking… something. It could be truth. But I thought of another audience end game. It’s possible I’m rationalizing my evening.

    I could certainly watch Penny Arcade in the same way I watched the new Twisted Sister documentary. Or that biopic on Hugo Chavez or Anthony Weiner. The point isn’t trying to find the lessons in what comes out of anyone’s mouth, but to ponder why they believe what they seem to believe about themselves and about everybody else.

    It's all about the context-- seeing the chess board top down, not taking a queens-eye view on blind faith and because she lectured you for an hour and half. 

    In an ironic twist, I'd bet money that Penny Arcade would fucking hate to be anything other than the all-star big star of her show. In another ironic twist... she did berate us endlessly to think for ourselves. So maybe in the end Penny Arcade had her masterful way with me.