Friday, October 30, 2009

Terror Alert

Fake tits have officially jumped the shark. Former singer/current human flypaper Amy Winehouse is sporting a new pair, the body mod equivalent of putting platinum rims on an 18th century oxcart. She reportedly spent $56,000 on the blokes, money that could have been put to better use hiring a team of dentists. I guess anything that draws attention away from her face is a welcome relief. Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Freshen Your Drink, Skank?

Online dating site has done a study of how to minimize gaffes on a first date. Among the findings: when trying to work your game, calling a woman "pretty" will increase your chances of getting rejected.

Remember, guys- she wants to be respected for her mind, not her looks. Clearly, that's why she's dressed like a porn star.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Easy Writer

Among the myriad languages spoken around the world, Japanese, Gaelic, and English are said to be among the toughest for foreigners to master. Linguistically, the stereotype of the American is typified by the fact that most of us aren't fluent in a foreign tongue (indeed, we have no shortage of ways to mangle the native one) while other citizens of the world often speak a few languages out of necessity. Even my French is rusty, not having flexed those muscles in any real capacity for twenty years. Occasionally, un petit francais will work its way into the boudoir (comme ca!) when Gwen and I are playing "Victor Hugo and The Lusty Chambermaid", but rarely otherwise. As the reach of technology more rapidly exceeds our grasp, I wonder how long it will take for texting shorthand to become an unofficial addendum to the ESL curriculum. Between all the LOL's, IMHO's, ROTFL's, and WTFDYJCSOTPIOTTFAH's- the already grammatically-challenged might be further vexed. Personally, I won't write in text shorthand; despite the obvious economy of doing so, I'm way too much of a word nerd to send texts that resemble vanity license plate numbers. Nevertheless, even those of us steeped in language have yet to master all of its modern abbreviations, which might lead to starkly different messages than those intended. Case in point: until recently, my father (a generally tech-savvy cat) believed "LOL" signified "lots of love". Since my siblings and I didn't realize this, we wondered why every text he sent us seemed so snarky- "Hope you're having a great time. Mom and I miss you. LOL." I've heard of empty nesters happy to have some peace and quiet, but why the mockery? Once we figured it out, we got quite the chuckle (though not before a strangely quiet Easter dinner.) Language is fickle and subject to the whims of cultural evolution. Sometimes, it seems the less we communicate in person, the more forms we have with which to do it.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Chronic Irony

The silver lining to our nation having fallen on desperate times is that scenarios that would have been dismissed out of hand in a healthier economy end up on the table (necessity being the mother of invention, and all). Former Clinton White House COS (and current Obama advisor) John Podesta suggests that perhaps taxing marijuana could help pay for universal health care. The blush of stigma has largely fallen off the pot rose (and it's already part of many a senior and cancer patient's pain management program) so we're long overdue to literally put our money where our cotton mouth is. If we're truly concerned with buying American, let's stop outsourcing our ganja production to Mexico and Paraguay, and start up a real green economy.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Reflecting Tool

"September the 4th, 2001, I stood in the ruins of the Twin Towers. It's a day I will never forget."- President George W. Bush

The natural trajectory for politicians or captains of industry after retiring from "public service" is to write a book or pimp themselves out in the motivational speaker racket. It's of little consequence how unsuccessful said speaker's tenure was because people will still pay top dollar to glean their thoughts on getting ahead in the (usually corporate) world. Today, President Bush is appearing as the headline speaker in the Get Motivated seminar program- specifically, "How To Master The Art Of Effective Leadership". Given the regularity with which Dubya mangles the king's in public (as well as his proven unfamiliarity with the topic) the event seems strangely miscast, like choosing Russell Brand as your NA sponsor. Stacking the deck in Bush's favor, the series is confined to cities in Texas and also includes Colin Powell, Rudy Giuliani, and a dude from Microsoft. In fairness, anyone doubting the Gee Dub's credentials in this arena would be wise to remember that he did motivate millions of people to vote Democrat last November. Eat your oversized heart out, Tony Robbins.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Breakfast Of Champions

L.A. Times music critic Robert Hilburn has an outstanding new book called "Corn Flakes With John Lennon (And Other Tales From A Rock 'N Roll Life)", about his relationship with the legend after the breakup of The Beatles. The title of the book is reflective of a conversation about what a treat Corn Flakes were during Lennon's childhood, due to the rationing of milk during wartime. In a time when sacrifices of all kinds (including basic staples) were accepted as part of one's duty to country, I have a hard time relating that story to the way we largely view American life today. The concept of sacrifice in any capacity has largely been reintroduced into our lives out of necessity, rather than as a concept that bears merit in general. Then again, he was the walrus.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Saline Away

Since breast implants are the crabgrass of the reality TV lawn, this was bound to happen. The girl should sue her plastic surgeon, by the way. I thought the point of getting implants was so that your tits weren't in your lap.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Live And/Or Let Die

A 39-year-old unemployed man joins the Army to get medical benefits for his cancer-stricken wife. I guess he found a public option. Meanwhile, China announced at the beginning of this year that it will institute universal health care for its citizens within three years. China. A country of over a billion people, governed by a regime with a consistent record of human rights violations is devoting more resources to the health of their citizens, while our citizens are risking death to maintain coverage. It's irony bordering on shameful. With China emerging as the next superpower, our days of claiming to hold the moral high ground are evaporating.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Feel Good Hit Of The Summer

After hearing the story of an acquaintance whose engagement disintegrated into a nightmare, it reaffirms my belief that our capacity to be cruel to one another is boundless. Anytime you feel as though you've been party to an unpardonable offense, you can be sure there is someone else with a story that will make yours read like Dude, Where's My Car? It's a reason why, slowly but surely, people are migrating en masse from organized religion. Our desire to stay connected to something beyond ourselves ("spiritual but not religious", in modern parlance) may be hard-wired into us; a by-product of being the only animal that is sure of its own mortality, yet unsure of what (if anything) follows. As technology increases our ability to indulge, we realize that ancient archetypes of good and evil are no longer relevant because the dichotomy burns and seethes inside each of us. There is no need for devils and demons anymore. They were created to personify consequence to primitive people who could wrap their heads around eternal hellfire, but were millenia away from the complex evils we cultivate now. Like Stairway To Heaven at a high school prom, we still have the oldies-but-goodies like rape and murder, but we've given them free-market competition from the defter hands of emotional abuse, identity theft, cyberterrorism, and a thousand other insidious afflictions. It's not hard to understand why millions of people still cling to superstition- in a world of utter chaos, it orders one's existence. But man is the angel that fell from heaven. Compared to us, the red-horned dude with the pitchfork is a buffoon who simply can't compete.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Outside The Box

Richard Heene is outed as a pathetic, fame-hungry hoaxster. To me, this entire debacle was indicative of how any story involving kids makes us take leave of our senses and drop rational thought at the door. Anyone with a cursory knowledge of introductory physics would have suspected from the jump that a mylar balloon like Heene's "hovercraft" would never reach the altitude it did with a six-year-old boy (on average, fifty extra pounds) inside. No wonder the guy couldn't cut it as an actor- his press conferences didn't even fool viewers who believe The Hills is real. Using your children in a naked bid for fame and fortune is nothing new (the beauty pageant system is based on it) but to be so blinded by it that you don't realize your kindergartener might spill the beans on national television is a fatal miscalculation. However, let's take the kid out of the story for a minute. A disconcerting aside is how quickly the media derides any attempts at invention outside the norm as potentially harmful. There are plenty of people living off the grid who are trying to create things that may affect a positive change in our lives. I realize our culture usually fails to prove its alleged reverence of individualism, but it's dangerous to the pioneer spirit to imply that anything not coming out of Abbott Labs, General Electric, or NASA is suspect. It's a good thing cable news didn't cover Oppenheimer, Einstein, or Edison- they would have been branded as lunatics before their first experiment. Evidently, unless you're a monosyllabic, moose-wrangling Alaskan governor/fashion plate, our message is: keep your "maverick" to yourself. Sure, Heene turned out to be a vainglorious kook, but his foibles in this matter didn't stem from a pile of schematics. His story is painfully mundane- he wanted to be famous. Now that he is, he's discovering that the old axiom, "no such thing as bad press", is as much a crock as the story he foisted on America. Let's hope there's no jail time in his future. That's a version of Wife Swap he'd be wise to avoid at all costs.

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Case For Bulimia

I think this qualifies as an eating disorder, no? (And, I think comedian Jim Gaffigan came up with this first. As a joke.)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Reality Bites

When will we collectively get over referring to America as "the greatest nation on Earth"? Given the evidence to the contrary, it's time to graduate to something more meaningful. Let's take the health care debate, a major cause of righteous indignation all along the ideological spectrum. According to the WHO, the U.S. spends a higher portion of its gross domestic product than any other country but ranks 37 out of 191 countries according to its performance. Not horrible, but not the greatest. Out of 194 countries ranked by obesity rates, we came in ninth. How about the military? Obama has been equivocal about his promise to repeal the childish "don't ask, don't tell" policy. Dozens of countries support gays in the military, while the U.S.- equal opportunity when it comes to cannon fodder- still indulges petty prejudices rooted in religious superstition. Israel allows gays to serve openly and they're more hung up on God than we are. Howzabout education? Most empirical data shows us firmly in the middle of the pack; a global C student. In spending, we're behind Jamaica, where the kids have learned the best side on which to properly pass the dutchie. So where do we derive all our aforementioned greatness? Bacon flavored chocolate? Neon license plate frames? Kim Kardashian? (Actually, strike that one. She's a stone cold fox.)

These are not criticisms for their own sake; they're facts, and you only criticize something you love. Wrapping ourselves in the Snuggie that is the American flag and nodding off to sleep muttering, "we're Number One" is an immature anachronism that allows us to detach from actual engagement; we're pandering to ourselves. We live in a fantastic country, but we should be less concerned with being "the greatest" and figure out how to just be better in the ways that count.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Coming In Number Two

Sorry, runners- this negates whatever bragging rights you get for doing 26 miles. The Chicago Marathon was this past weekend (yes, a Kenyan dude won again) and I've had friends run it, but this year was the first I had heard about runners who succumb to the green apple splatters along the route. Long-distance runners are a cultish bunch who buy into the whole "pushing yourself mentally and physically" thing, and it is an impressive feat. But I don't see any spiritual transcendence or triumph of the will going on here. What other sport accepts loss of bodily functions as a given? Lance Armstrong doesn't pinch one off while he rolls up to the Champs-Elysees. Derek Anderson doesn't take the Browns to the Super Bowl while waiting for the snap (the only time you'll see "Browns" and "Super Bowl" in the same sentence, I might add.) If Jordan had dropped a deuce at center court of a Bulls playoff game, he would have been sent to a psychiatrist, not handed a cup of Gatorade. Then again, it looks like a cup would have come in handy for this guy.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Blue Carpet

Marge Simpson will be the cover model for Playboy's November issue, and also be featured in a traditional centerfold layout. Really? I guess after 20 seasons, The Simpsons had to jump the shark at some point. Playboy says it's an attempt to lure a "younger, 20-something" audience to the magazine. Set aside the fact that The Simpsons is largely a Gen-X phenomenon, does Playboy really think that dudes raised on PPV HD POV porn are gonna pop a greg over a naked cartoon character?

On the plus side, Marge will be the most lifelike model they've had in that magazine in years (though I'd still rather rub one out to Lois Griffin.)

Monday, October 12, 2009

Jon & Kate Plus H8

Slate's Hanna Rosin makes a compelling case for why Jon Gosselin might score lower on the douche-o-meter than we thought.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Jackin' The Vox

The Japanese have developed a humanoid robot that can sing using electronic voice technology. It seems only fair since American pop and hip-hop stars have been sounding like robots for the past five years. Who knows? Without auto-tune, Lil Wayne might sound like Kathy Griffin. On a side note, why are the Japanese so hell-bent on phasing out humans in favor of robots that will do everything from pole-dance to dry clean your suit? Blade Runner was pretty badass, but not exactly a vision of utopia.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Head Meets Ass

On Friday, I wrote about Chicago's failure to be voted host city for the 2016 Olympics. Responding to the utter disbelief at the decision among Chicagoans, I said, "the fact that we were 'shocked' to be eliminated illustrates how clueless we continue to be about the world's perception of us." Now comes this. As with any poll, what is true today may be false tomorrow. But for the moment, an amendment to one of my pricklier posts.

Monday, October 5, 2009


Turns out The Bible is guilty of too much "liberal bias". You know- socialist hippie shit like, "love thy neighbor", "the last shall be first", caring for the poor, etc. The Conservative Bible Project plans to return Scripture to its right-wing roots (who knew Jerusalem was a red state?) One of the things fundamentalism breeds is lack of irony and it's too bad, because there's plenty here. For example, the group seeks to discontinue "dumbing down" the intellectual force of the Bible's teachings- unsympathetic to the common belief that the word of God began in the oral tradition because most people at the time of Jesus couldn't read. They also prefer "conciseness" over liberal wordiness, because why would anyone assume that a Supreme Being had a few things to get off his chest that wouldn't fit on a fortune cookie? Don't get me wrong- the liberal "Green Bible" (which places environmental "green references" within the text) is just as kooky. It never ceases to amaze that the people most convinced of the divine infallibility of The Bible seem to have the least trouble manipulating the language to suit their purposes. I wonder if they'll remove that radical liberal "Jesus Christ" guy?

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Kama Sutra Burn

Bad news for horndogs: Love makes you creative; sex, not so much. I guess it depends on whether or not your significant other is down with trying the "rusty bike pump".

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Worldwide Pants Down

David Letterman stunned his audience Thursday night by admitting to sexual affairs with female staffers on the show, while detailing an extortion plot against him by a CBS news producer. The studio audience laughed nervously and reaction from fans has been mixed, running the gamut from support to disgust. Letterman's revelation is hardly a shocking one- 99% of relationships are based on proximity and dipping one's pen in company ink is never advisable, but it's predictable. The cliches of celebrity and talk of "power issues in the workplace" aside, I'm more bummed that Dave will now become a punchline similar to the celebutantes and politicians that he's jabbed for the past two decades. I've always admired Letterman for his candor and his willingness to be unliked in the service of a comedic point of view. Post confession, his image may take on the pall of the pervy boss, overshadowing the cranky iconoclast we've come to appreciate. On the other hand, he may be holding onto a very provocative kind of Top Ten list and who among us isn't curious to know what was in "the box"?

Friday, October 2, 2009

Brazilian Whacks

Despite an unprecedented effort by President Obama, his wife, Oprah, et al to bring the 2016 Olympic Games to Chicago, it was the first candidate city knocked out of contention by the IOC today. (I'm guessing that a week of high-school kids being beat to death on YouTube may not have screamed "host city".) The pro-lympics contingent contended that the games would have been a boon to the local economy in the form of construction jobs and increased revenue from global tourism to our fair city. However, the civic pride that we would have felt now would have completely dissipated by the time 2016 rolled around and hard reality had set in. Chicago is a city whose infrastructure is already under immense financial strain and the Olympics are historically known for plunging host cities into colossal debt, to say nothing of the attendant graft and corruption. Mayor Daley's usual shoot-first-ask-questions-later approach to city government thankfully met with greater resistance on the global stage, a clear sign that President Obama is not a silver bullet rendering anti-American sentiment inert. We're already hosting an unpopular war on multiple fronts and our financial institutions are being blamed for leading the world to the brink of financial ruin; there was no way that an international committee would see fit to entrust us with those colored rings. The fact that we were "shocked" to be eliminated illustrates how clueless we continue to be about the world's perception of us. Besides- with thousands of bikini-clad Brazilian girls in attendance, I may actually watch the Olympics for once.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Army Of Snarkness

It remains the natural order that when an original concept reaches a certain level of popularity, it will be replicated ad nauseam. Nowhere is this more prevalent than in television, where imitation remains the most dubious (and cost-effective) form of flattery. Currently, this creative photocopy is happening with The Soup, a goofy compendium of inane clips from other television shows, expertly narrated and parodied by comedian Joel McHale. The show began in the early nineties as Talk Soup, with the format confined to mocking clips from the fertile crescent of daytime talk shows. Greg Kinnear, John Henson, Aisha Tyler, and Hal Sparks all launched their careers by hosting but the subsequent tsunami of reality television has made the show most prominent in its current incarnation. With production values hovering above zero (green screen + video clips + pithy jokes= a show you can shoot in a supply closet), it's no surprise that the format is being relentlessly copied, albeit with dull hosts on channels no one watches. Among the replicants: Sports Soup on Versus (where jokes about pro athletes seem redundant), Web Soup on G4 (kind of a Tosh.0 for nerds), and The Dish on Style Network (where jokes about models seem redundant). Ironically, it seems the only cable channel to not have a Soup rip-off is the Food Network, since they already have shows about actual soup.