Sunday, April 30, 2006

Forget cancer. How can I avoid wrinkles?

Dear Newsweek. Can we talk?

I have some questions about your April 24 cover. It's stamped with "Health For Life" and "With Harvard Medical School" labels and trumpets the headline "Why Women Can't Sleep." All very impressive. But...there is something incongruous about the bulleted sub-heads under the headline: "Pregnancy & Depression" (a crucial topic to be sure), "HPV: A 'Cancer Shot'?" (still with you), and "Secrets for Youthful Skin."

Um, huh? You think that the war against wrinkles warrants equal bulleted status with depression and cervical cancer? For serious?

I guess so, since not only do you attack the gruesome horror of visible aging with gusto but you place this daring manifesto on wrinkle creams BEFORE the article on the relationship between pregnancy and depression. Yes, we may be sleepless, depressed, and riddled with cancer, but medical science is working overtime to make sure we don't look it. As if we don't get enough of that nonsense from the REST of the media. Shame on you, Newsweek.

Is there really any wonder we're depressed? While men work on their stock portfolios so they can afford a younger woman in their old age, women are still encouraged to see our bodies as our most important commodity. God forbid that we should age and depreciate in value; wrinkles on a woman are like rust on the bumper of a used car. They kill your Blue Book.

I read the skin article, by the way, thinking maybe the cover line was misleading and the piece actually addressed skin cancer or something important. Alas, the first line: "Every woman dreads the day when she glimpses the first wrinkle in her otherwise smooth skin." SIGH.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006


I don't even know why this delights me so.

I bet that fancy weather camera would give a great colonoscopy

It's storm season in Oklahoma, time for our dedicated local weather forecasters to earn their pay for the other 10 months of chanting, "It's going to be windy tomorrow. And dusty, in a reddish sort of way. Also hot."

I sympathize with their boredom, truly, and I can see why they become excited when actual weather appears and their little instruments start beeping and flashing--but must they then inflict boredom upon ME? Because I really, really do not need TWO FUCKING HOURS of coverage for every storm that farts across the state. No, really. If a tornado forms or plague-like hail appears? Please break into my local program to advise. Totally need to know that, thanks. But the epic drama of the Killer Storm of April 2006 that you produced last night will never sell to a broader audience, because it was FUCKING BORING.

The first hour consisted of shot after shot of wall clouds in various places. They weren't hurting anyone, just hanging there ready for their closeups, preening at all the attention. Every few minutes the giddy forecasters would break away from riveting cloud footage to babble in front of their radars and point and click and scribble like John Madden on Monday Night Football. They clicked and zoomed and colored so many incomprehensible things so quickly that we had to use the pause button to stop the stupid map long enough to find our town on it.

Then the unthinkable: One of those cheeky wall clouds spat a funnel! (Me: "Oh, SHIT, now they'll never shut up.") It banged up some planes at a small airport where, thankfully, everyone had already gone home to have dinner and watch clouds on television so no one was hurt. End of story, right? All's well that ends well!

Of course not. Cue SOLID HOUR of OHMYGOD DIDYOUHEAR ATORNADOCAMEOUTOF ONEOFOURCLOUDS!!1!!1! More pictures. Amateur viewer video, quickly downloaded and sent to the station, making me wonder why I thought the expanded availability of technology was a good thing again. Then--I kid you not--a good twenty minutes of gazing at radars and talking, with naked disappointment, about how the storm "really did a number on us" by falling apart so fast. Yes, storms that fail to hold together long enough to allow for, say, four hours of blithering nonsense. Those are the ones that really suck.

Meanwhile? The rest of the civilized world is watching The Apprentice, which is what I showed up for. And do you know what those MORONS did? After showing not one second of The Apprentice? They sent us back to regularly scheduled program at 8-fucking-55. At 8:55 I was programming my DVR to record the CNBC rerun of the episode I had just missed because it was more important to televise a giant circle jerk of weather forecasters. Suddenly, the colors and lines all disappeared and I was looking at Trump's boardroom, where Trump was ripping a hole in one of his wannabes big enough to hide from storms in. Which means I now know: which team lost the task, which team members ended up in the boardroom, and, most likely, which one of them was fired.

Are they kidding me with this crap? Was that the punch line of the whole ridiculous evening's joke? You've been jerking off all night AND YOU CAN'T HOLD OUT FIVE MORE MINUTES??

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Biggest Bitch on Earth? You make the call.

I believe we have a Biggest Bitch Alive awardee. No, it isn't me, though it's an honor just to be nominated. It's not even Judge Judy, may she live and rule forever. It's the plaintiff in the case below.

Video is just over four minutes, thanks to my mad video editing skillz. I cut a commercial out of the middle, but I'm so slick with the software you probably won't even be able to find the splice. Seamless!

You tell me if there could be a nastier more hateful bitch than this one:

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Is your stupid dryer a piece of crap or isn't it?

This blog topic can't touch the Master of Peru story or the horror of Jeff Probst's nakedness, I realize, but I really need to vent (ha! get it?) about my new clothes dryer.

The dryer itself is just fine. It was delivered well within the specified window of time. It dries things. Holla.

What wasn't so pleasant was the dryer purchasing experience. It's not like I've never been offered a service contract before; I understand that almost any product comes with the opportunity to spend even more money for a service plan that, ironically, you hope never to need. But this guy at Sears pushed the service contract so aggressively that he almost scared me out of buying the dryer.

As is so often the case, at the beginning of our relationship he was all about the positive. The dryer I had chosen? A gem among dryers. Stylish but affordable, reliable, respected, able to eliminate the most stubborn moisture in a 90 minute cycle, etc. Whatever. I just wanted the one that matched the washer I bought last year.

The joy soon faded. Moments after I signified my intent to purchase this fantastic dryer, Mr. Sunshine began showing me all the things that might break before I even got through socks and underwear, much less towels. "See this door? It's built to hold your basket, but these hinges here can get bent and keep the door from shutting properly, and there's nothing you can do to fix them except get them replaced." (Um...) "I can't tell you how many people end up with a burned out dryer motor right after the one-year manufacturer's warranty expires." (Er...) "They used to guarantee these things for five years, but the manufacturers have stopped doing that. There are so many parts of an appliance that can malfunction, and then you find yourself facing repairs that cost as much as a replacement."

On and on. And they want like $120 for this service plan! For a $350 dryer!

So which is it, Sears? Is your dryer a reasonably well-built appliance worth $350 or a piece of shit that won't last the first year? I mean, you really can't have it both ways. Can you? Either Kenmore produces quality products and stands behind them or not, right? It's just such a bizarre position in which to place themselves: They have their sales force telling campfire horror stories to customers about the product they're trying to buy. ("And then she turned slowly and saw . . . ALL OF THE JEANS WERE DAMP! And . . . she . . . had . . . NO SERVICE CONTRACT!" [eeeeeeeeeeek!])

I didn't pay for it. I imagine I'm screwed.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Have I mentioned I love Judge Judy?

This guy sued his former landlady for wrongful eviction. Her defense? A month prior to her deciding to illegally lock him out of the house he "sexually battered" her. Her description of the traumatic event:

Yeah, she lost.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Why are these idiots still attacking Harry Potter?

Board to consider request to ban ‘Harry Potter’ books

By Rubina Madan Staff Writer

LAWRENCEVILLE — The “Harry Potter” book series may soon be taken off the shelves of all media centers in Gwinnett County Public Schools if a parent’s appeal is successful. A parent of students at J.C. Magill Elementary School filed appeal forms for each of the books, requesting the wildly popular series be removed from public school libraries. On the forms, she wrote that she objected to the series’ “evil themes, witchcraft, demonic activity, murder, evil blood sacrifice, spells and teaching children all of this.”

She wrote she had not read the series because it is long, and she is a working mother of four.

A public hearing will be held on the matter at 2 p.m. Thursday, in accordance with the Gwinnett County Board of Education’s policies for “Instructional Materials Selection.” An appointed hearing officer will hear testimony from the parent, school system officials and oncerned residents. Both the local school and system media committees have recommended the books remain on the shelves. Based on all the testimony, the hearing officer will prepare findings and recommendations to the Board of Education. The final decision will be made by the school board within a few weeks of the hearing. Any Gwinnett County resident who wishes to speak at the hearing will be able to do so by submitting a written request. Requests may be mailed to the Superintendent’s Office, Gwinnett County Public Schools, 437 Old Peachtree Road N.W, Suwanee, GA 30024, or may be faxed to 678-301-6030. All written requests must be submitted no later than 48 hours before the hearing.

First of all, I recommend that this parent shift the focus of her limited free time toward reading some fucking books instead of filing ignorant claims with the school board. With a little effort in that regard she might become less of a moron.

I know the Potter wars are old news, and all of the arguments have been made at this point, but I saw this article on and couldn't let it pass. Do these people who clutch their pearls over the "themes" in the Harry Potter series feel the same way about the Narnia series? How about the Bible? Let's see:

Evil themes? White Witch, Satan, temptation

Witchcraft and demonic activity? White Witch, "the old magic," Satan, demonic possessions (demons driven out by Christ)

Murder and evil blood sacrifice? Aslan, Christ

Spells? Eternal winter, creation, turning water to wine, resurrection, miracles

Teaching children all of this? Um, Sunday School

So when Aslan and Christ allow themselves to be sacrificed for the good of others, this is a sacred lesson worthy of universal worship and teaching. [*SPOILER*] When Dumbledore does it? Evil. I mean, I know I sound like a smartass, but I'm really serious. I do not get the problem with Harry Potter among fundamentalist Christians. They're the ones who believe all the magic in the Bible to be literal! So how is magic bad? Their entire view of the universe is predicated on a belief in the supernatural. The Potter story represents the archetypal battle between the forces of selfish, power mad evil and the forces of selfless, benevolent love. The strongest magic in the narrative is the love of a mother for her child. SOMEONE TELL ME HOW THIS PROMOTES EVIL.

The whole thing is about FIGHTING EVIL YOU STUPID JERKS.


I'm sorry. I have to stop now. The red fog is obscuring my vision again.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Happy Vernal Equinox!

We've got family in town for the weekend so I probably won't find time to blog properly until Monday.

In the meantime, you may enjoy the title link above that discusses the origins of the Easter holiday right down to the eggs and rabbits.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Man, I thought Paula was a friendly drunk!

I did not watch Paula Abdul on Jay Leno, because even I have some standards, but the New York Post (link above) says she bagged all over Ryan Seacrest, and if it's true she kind of sucks. I mean, Ryan isn't sacred to me or anything, but he's harmless and not there to defend himself. Of course I thought she was harmless, too, so shows what I know.

Here's the text of the article:

April 12, 2006 -- PAULA Abdul says Ryan Seacrest is steamed over being snubbed on the cover of the most recent Rolling Stone magazine.

The cover features Abdul and fellow "American Idol" judges Randy Jackson and Simon Cowell lying in a bed with one of Abdul's dogs - and a tiny photo of Seacrest on the front and back cover of a book held by Jackson.

Abdul, guesting on Monday's "Tonight Show," says Seacrest was angry at the slight - and she also used the occasion to take a swipe at the "Idol" host's love life.

Abdul made her comments after "Tonight Show" host Jay Leno held up the Rolling Stone cover for his audience to see.

"Now Ryan, he's not on there," Leno said.

"Well, he's down there," said Abdul, pointing to the tiny photos of Seacrest. "I guess that didn't go over very well."

"Oh, was he mad about it?" Leno said.

"I heard plenty mad," Abdul responded.

Abdul told Leno that the photo was taken with only her - and Jackson and Cowell (and the Seacrest "book") were added in later.

"You know, the brilliance of this is none of us were there," Abdul said.

Leno also asked Abdul about the rumored romance between Seacrest and "Desperate Housewives" star Teri Hatcher, who were photographed smooching.

"He only kisses the mirror," Abdul said of Seacrest. "And, honestly, do you think Teri Hatcher is that desperate of a housewife?"

"There is no validity to what Paula said about Ryan on 'The Tonight Show,' " said a Seacrest spokeswoman.

"Ryan hasn't spoken to Paula about either Rolling Stone, or his personal life."

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Girls are so lame

If someone had killed me yesterday like I asked, I wouldn’t have been subjected to this paper this morning. I hope you’re happy.

One of my young men decided to write about his pink water bottle and highlighter. Some excerpts:

“[In addition to being pink,] my water bottle is completely plastered with pink, girly, sparkly stickers. These little details have raised many concerns pertaining to my pink water bottle and my pink highlighter. People laugh when they spot these objects, probably due to the fact that I carry around property only a female should own.”

“A guy that can sport pink is a man who is confident and comfortable with himself. Traditionally, pink represents the stereotypical, ditzy females. If a man can overcome this preconception, he is a man of self confidence.”

I don’t even know where to begin. Maybe with how much I hate this new trend of calling women “females”? And how this teenaged boy seems to think that grownup “females” look any more mature and sane carrying around glittery Strawberry Shortcake paraphernalia than a “male” would?

Of course that critique doesn’t even address the more staggering catastrophes of thought represented by the essay, like the idea that there’s nothing more terrifying and hideous than girl cooties, and only the Realest of Real Men could survive the stigma of being associated with girlness. A Man must have a surfeit of Manly strength to offset the pussifying power of pink sparkles and retain his testicles; thus, this writer demonstrates his godlike hetero studliness by facing the sparkles head on. He dares the sparkles to try to emasculate him. He welcomes their attempt. Go ahead, sparkles. Make his day.

I am trying to see the humor—he’s just a kid, a nice one at that, and he’s going to be mortified when he finds out he offended me—but it’s so damn depressing. Many of the perceptions he takes completely for granted here contribute to our worst social problems. He’s practically written a primer for homophobia, which is an offshoot of misogyny as much as it is anything else. His whole concept is that people can’t understand why someone who has everything right—a Man—would lower Himself to the status of the feminine. His answer? I am so confident in my superiority that I can slum it without fear of taint.

I could just cry.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Ugh. Sorry.

Grading, grading, grading.

Grades are due tomorrow and I still have 27 essays to read. Kill me.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Tip for Tat

What is with all the tip jars these days? It seems like everywhere I go there's a tip jar beaming guilt waves at me from the counter. I honestly don't understand. Why should I tip someone for simply working a cash register correctly? Aren't they being paid a full wage?

The place where I ate lunch yesterday has a tip jar by the register. I went up, ordered my food, and then came back to pick it up when they called my name. No one brought my food to my table or kept my drink filled for me; when I wanted more Diet Coke I had to go up and stand in line again and ask for some. So for what would I tip them? For handing it back without dumping it down my front? For filling it with actual Diet Coke instead of water from the sink?

Don't get me wrong--I've got nothing against them. They seem like nice folks, capable of providing me with a lovely baked potato without fuss. That's their job, though, right? It's nothing above and beyond the call or anything. They didn't run outside and wash my car while I stood in line for that second Diet Coke. I'm not trying to be a bitch about it (shut up) but I sincerely don't see why they feel they can expect extra from me for the privilege of standing in their line.

I never put anything in these pushy new jars. I don't like to feel manipulated. Am I the jerk here?

Thursday, April 06, 2006

This town is so weird

Personalized license plates observed on my way home from work today:


Um, that's nice for when you're home or at church, but driving? Eyes on the road and hands at ten and two, please.


This one was accompanied by that sticker featuring a prostrated Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes (what is the obsession with saving Calvin, anyway?) and the rather confrontational sentiment "Every knee shall bow." (Even children's knees! Even cartoon children's knees, damn it!)

This town is weird.

Leave me alone, school! I graduated already!

My son's school drives me crazy. There's this whole movement now to force parents to do all kinds of work under the guise of "being involved," a kind of blackmail I don't appreciate and a pedagogy with which I'm not sure I agree. Is there really that much to be gained from assigning grade schoolers projects that they can't complete on their own? Where's the autonomy, the personal ownership, the leaving me the hell alone for two seconds so I can watch bad television?

I won't even go into the myriad and complex ways in which schools now beg for money. Well, maybe I will: When my son brings home his weekly folder, it is FILLED with more and more exhortations to put myself out to provide the school with a few pennies. We do the Box Tops. I clip the fucking Box Tops and send them in, OK? It's not the very first thing on my list every damn day, but I'm doing it! I feel like Basil Fawlty seething at Sybil, "I'm doing it, DEAR," with these people, with their constant reminders and requests and "Tuesday is [insert name of local restaurant] night! Eat there and say you're from our school and they'll give us three cents!" Every day of the week is sponsored by someone. Leave me alone, school! Quit trying to orchestrate everything from my breakfast cereal choices to where I take my photocopying business!

I'm a teacher myself, so I could never be unsympathetic to teachers. I get how frustrating it is to communicate with non-communicative parents. But things have gotten out of hand. My son, as a third grader, is supposed to read for twenty minutes each weeknight. Great--we're a readerly household, for obvious reasons. Why, though, do I have to sign off on each day's reading three different times? There's a form that lists his homework for each day--including "read for 20 minutes"--and I have to initial it. THEN there's a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT calendar-looking sheet on which I'm supposed to write "20 minutes" every day and sign off on THAT. THEN there's this other section that has the calendar separated by weeks and I'm supposed to add all the "20"s together and sign off on his having read 100 minutes each week. The hell? Isn't there some kind of "excessive paperwork" law for employees? How about for ME? It takes me longer to sign all of this crap than for him to do the homework. It's ridiculous.

Which brings me to this whole home project craze. I recall having to concoct science projects or history projects here and there, but the volume of such things now--and at much younger ages than what I remember doing--makes me wonder what the bloody hell they do when they're AT SCHOOL. I'm not even going into the most recent ordeal because the trauma is too fresh, but I will say that at least it was for his gifted class so the intensity of it makes some sense. What really annoys me is the barrage of bullshit such as what we're facing now. The third grade is reenacting the land run of 1889. Each student must have:

• $3.00 cash (naturally)
• a wooden stake with students' names (they form "families" of 3-4)
• disposable pie pan
• western wear (to be worn to and from school)
• a covered wagon (one per "family") or a stick horse
• an old blanket or beach towel to sit on during lunch

You know what? This activity sounds fun. You know what else? If they want to provide this awesome fun they should put together goddamn covered wagons AT SCHOOL. The instructions mock me, advising, "Covered wagons and stick horses are to be constructed at home with adult supervision. Students may wish to gather together after school or on the weekend to do this." REALLY? You mean, since they have to do it but cannot do it at school they'll need to do it during the other times of the week? Thanks. Also, screw you.

And what's with the "to be worn to and from school" thing? I guess that means they won't be allowed to go in the bathroom and change into something costumey? So they want me to buy a real western outfit? My son's wardrobe has two levels: sports, which includes uniforms and shorts and tees with Nike basketball shoes or cleats, and Old Navy, which includes just what you imagine with either Vans (complete with funky argyle shoelaces) or flip flops. There is no way I'm going to purchase cowboy boots for one day of pretend. The child is getting a button down shirt and a bandana around his neck, and if they think he needs something more authentic they're free to put my three dollars to whatever use they deem fit.

I remember we used to decorate floats for the homecoming parades, and we always worked for hours and hours, twisting those little squares of tissue around a pencil eraser, as a class--at school. I don't understand why that's not appropriate anymore. Or why something like this has to be so complicated in the first place. Whatever.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Up your nose with a rubber hose

Why didn't anyone tell me Gabe Kaplan was a professional poker player? Still alive AND a professional poker player!

I walked in on my nine-year-old son watching a recorded epsiode of High Stakes Poker this morning and went, "Hey! Is that Gabe Kaplan?" He said, of course, "Yeah, why? Who is he?"

I found I couldn't explain "Welcome Back Kotter" in any accessible way. "Like, there's this guy Epstein who always has a note from his mother?" It doesn't translate. I doubt today's kids would get many of our old sitcoms, "Nick at Night" notwithstanding.

My son doesn't even know what a sitcom is since I don't watch any. I always get comments from reality show haters when I post about them, and I respect that perspective on the world, certainly, but it's when I hear people effusing about "Friends" or "Will and Grace" that my gorge rises. I HATE those shows. The utter phoniness of it all, the characters speaking in ways that no real person has ever spoken, entering stage left, hitting mark, futzing fakely with grocery bag, delivering "funny" line, pausing obviously for laugh track, exiting stage right, and AAAAAAAAAAAHHHH.

I can't take it!!!

I swear I'm not lying: Sitcoms make me nervous. It's all SO FAKE! They give me actual anxiety--that's how much I hate all the over-scriptedness and transparent punchline setups and LAUGH TRACKS oh god please kill me. I feel embarrassed by their trying so hard, by their pointless walks across the stage where you can practically see the "x" on the floor where they're supposed to stop, by their dumb lines and . . . I'm sorry. I'm doing it again. But I hate them so much.

I caught a few minutes of a "Will and Grace" rerun just the other day and decided to watch a bit to see if maybe it was so popular because it was a new breed of sitcom or something. They say face your fears, right? I lasted about 5 minutes, which seemed like an hour. It was HORRIBLE. Some cookie cutter Wacky Best Friend characters were over-acting all over the place and I knew exactly what was going to happen next after every setup and hated myself for knowing and please, please don't ever let me face my fears again. I prefer to avoid my fears. I sleep better that way.

I don't know when this terror struck me because, as implied by my delight in seeing Gabe Kaplan alive and well, I liked several sitcoms as a kid. We watched Gilligan too, though I don't remember why. Do I need a therapist to help me root out the traumatic event in my past that caused me to associate sitcoms with hideous psychological torture? Or did I finally just discover that they suck?

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