Tuesday, December 25, 2012


"Is that the Jack Sack you got there? Nice!"

Not recognizing the reference, I could only suppose that he had made a witticism, and I inquired to determine that it had not been at my expense. As it turned out, he was complimenting me on my Rothco military-style messenger bag--the "Jack Sack," as he called it, after Jack Bauer, the enhanced interrogator protagonist of the FOX hit series 24, who notably carried a very similar--if not, in fact, identical--shoulder bag throughout season 5 of the show.

I should point out that I was never personally a fan of 24, and it had not been my intention to cosplay Jack Bauer. I had no idea whatsoever, when I purchased my bag, that it was any kind of "Jack Sack." Indeed, it was rather a blow to my ego to learn that I was not only unoriginal but had even unwittingly aligned myself with the fandom for a show that I really didn't care for. I had been out in public with the bag several times already, and, although none had voiced the observation before now, I shuddered at the thought of how many more people might have recognized it as the "Jack Sack" and privately thought to themselves, "Watch out guys, we're dealing with a badass over here."

In case I didn't quite believe (or want to believe) that it was so, I was forthwith directed to an entire blog that was inspired by and named after the "Jack Sack." Sure enough, there was a picture of Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) wearing an olive drab canvas bag that looked nigh indistinguishable from that I had so proudly obtained some three months ago and was even at that moment (now rather less proudly) still carrying. And, compounding my dismay, this blog extolling the virtues of the Jack Sack seemed written in an ironic tone! It referred to it as "the original manpurse," when I had specifically chosen this messenger bag, yes, because it was both practical and affordable, but also because, with its rugged military styling, it was the most masculine and un-purse-like that I could find.

Researching the business further on my own, however, I discovered that, although indeed the bag had been quite the coveted item once, made so by 24, and that Jack Bauer's carrying it had prominently played a part in making "man purses" slightly more socially acceptable, this was all years ago. Querying the Internet on "Jack Bauer bag," I found that nearly all relevant discussion dated back to 2006, around when season 5 of 24 was airing for the first time. Some more recent results discussed different sacks and packs that the character carried in later seasons, and, by the time the show ended its run, nobody was asking anymore where to buy any of Jack Bauer's bags. Meanwhile, if you read the customer reviews for the Rothco bag on Amazon, you'll find many positive appraisals, none of them describing or acknowledging it as "the bag from 24." It's a popular item still, but probably now again for the same reasons that people used to buy it back before Jack Bauer ever started carrying it--not because it's the "Jack Sack" but because it's practical, affordable, and fairly un-purse-like.

The occasional 24 geek notwithstanding, I now feel reassured that I can resume carrying my bag out into public without fear of any sane person misidentifying me as a Jack Bauer wannabe. Alas, there remains the fear, now greater than ever, that my messenger bag is yet not un-purse-like enough.

"Well, as long as you're going to carry a man purse, you might as well make it the manliest purse."

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

My Secret Identity

"Henry, do you have two email addresses?" she asked apprehensively.

"Of course not," I answered. "I have six."

Here was the breakdown:

1) Personal email. This is given out only directly to the very small number of people I know, trust, and correspond with regularly.
2) Professional email. Given to employers, prospective employers, and the government.
3) Business email. Used for my bank account, bills, online shopping, anything involving money.
4) Fake personal email. When I meet someone and they ask for my email but I don't really want to give them my personal email, I give them my fake personal email. I also use this for mailing lists and newsletters.
5) To save myself having to regularly log into so many separate email accounts, I have 2-4 above set up to forward everything into a single Outlook/Hotmail account, which I keep private.
6) Then, because I have issues with Outlook's functionality, I have my Outlook email set up to forward everything into a Gmail account. The username for this account is random gibberish, and I have never shared it except with my own Outlook email for the aforementioned forwarding purposes.

"That's . . . " And I waited for her to say "brilliant," or at least "sensible." Instead, she gave me "That's crazy. Like, maybe sociopathic."

I'll admit I was a tad taken aback at this reaction.

She continued: "Having a 'fake personal email' is creepy, but everything you said after that is insane. Like, literally insane. Double-forwards? Spies don't even do that!"

Memo to self: Instead of referring to it as my "fake personal email," from now on call it my "newsletter subscription email." Setting that aside, I tried to explain the prudence of my system. This way, even if a hacker gets into any one of the first four accounts, they get access to only one slice of my identity. And the more sensitive the information an account concerns, the lower the visibility of that email, therefore the lower the probability that it will be hacked.

But she only looked at me as though I had suddenly become a stranger to her.

Well, I guess I'm glad I told her I only kept six email addresses.

Monday, December 3, 2012


Although it was not among the Rolling Stones tracks selected for discussion in honor of their 50th anniversary by any of the band members on NPR's All Things Considered, nor one of the 14 Rolling Stones songs to make Rolling Stone's "500 Greatest Songs of All Time", I consider "Angie" to be my personal favorite Rolling Stones song. In fact, it possibly even ranks among my top four favorite songs of all time.

Mick Jagger's face is incredibly creepy and distracting in this official music video, though, so perhaps just avert your eyes as you listen:

They also filmed an alternate video, but he's 100 times worse in that one. Before these high-quality videos were uploaded to the band's official YouTube channel just a few months ago, the preferred "Angie" video on YouTube was this from user EagleMDare, featuring nothing but the album version of the song playing over the unrelated still image of a random gorgeous woman. And the image periodically dissolves to a mirrored version of itself. Ah, YouTube. But I digress.

The one thing that always used to bug me about "Angie" was that I felt the song should have ended on the penultimate lyric "Angie, Angie, ain't it good to be alive?" Or perhaps the line should have switched places at the end of the song with the actual final lyric "Angie, Angie, they can't say we never tried." It's a melancholy song either way, but I felt that "ain't it good to be alive?" would have ended it on a more consoling note, with a perspective toward the future and possibility, whereas I felt "they can't say we never tried," echoing a line from earlier in the song, brought the perspective back again toward the past and regret.

Just the other day, however, as I was in my car listening to the Pink song "Try," I thought of "Angie," and I had a change of heart over that last lyric. And, yes, I realize it's probably sacrilege to be interpreting the Stones through Pink, but I'm only saying that the one song happened to make me think of the other, as happens all the time. Anyway, as I thought over "Angie," I concluded that, after all, this has never been a feel-good song. It has neither aspiration nor obligation to provide hopefulness or a happy ending, and perhaps ending on "they can't say we never tried" is more artistically honest. Hard to say, though, since Mick Jagger, who sings it with such passion--and I can't imagine anyone else ever pulling this song off--isn't traditionally believed to have written the damn thing!