Sunday, December 27, 2009

Season of

Some people just don’t have any Christmas spirit. Ebenezer Scrooge, JetBlue employees who care not if I miss my sister’s Christmas party, that guy in the Subaru who cut me off, the b**** at Hollywood video who wouldn’t let me rent Love Actually because of “outstanding fines” and “improper identification.” (So what if I want to cause myself anguish with a clichéd holiday romance?) People and their anti-Christmas cheer have been getting in my way a little too much this season.

And I’m not the only one who feels this down turn of holly-jolly-ness. The Pope, the leader of this worldwide religious (ish) holiday, has been taken down in his efforts to celebrate. Taken down to the ground by a crazed woman in her second attempt at tackling him during his Christmas celebrations. Yup, this lady has jumped on the Pope twice. She is now in a psychiatric facility, so she may be foiled in making this event a third annual affair.

His speech, where he reached out to those in need, touched many. So maybe it’s understandable that Susanna felt that she had to reach out and touch the Pope. ‘Reach out and touch’ being, of course, a euphemism for the track-style hurdle and panther-style pounce combination she used to take the old guy down.

Interesting though, was the way that the Vatican security interpreted the whole situation. They didn’t seem too worried about anything, explaining that it’s natural for people to want to be near the Pope. …Okaaayyy. Ya, that justification may work for Jesse McCartney or the stars of Twilight who fend off more offensive attacks than Ndamukong, (granted tweeny-boppers do considerably less damage than line men, but regardless.) Security for the Pope, however, probably shouldn’t consider a rouge CRAZO a “natural” occurrence.

And aside from the fact that he’s the Pope, most 82 year old men don’t love getting abruptly thrown to the ground. The statistics we have on arthritis and muscle degeneration tell us that wasn’t a fun experience for Catholics’ favorite senior citizen. He’s been around the block a few times, so Benedict XVI did not quit after the disk-slipping, brittle-bone-breaking assault. He fell and rallied. Pope Benedict XVI went on with his Christmas Eve ceremony, with class.

And that my jaded comrades, is some true Christmas spirit. We have now seen that nothing, not even the Grinch or an agile Susanna, can stop Christmas from coming.
Thank you, Pope, for bouncing back in the way you did, (I don’t mean how you bounced like a fuzzy, yellow tennis ball off the pavement, but that, too, was cool,) you returned the jolly to my holly. As the Grinch so epically ruminated, maybe Christmas does, “perhaps, mean a little bit more.”

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

One more old, lonely girl

A recent conversation with a group of friends about how we will never be as cool as Miley started turning the gears in my brain. I am aging. I may not be over the hill, but geez, I’m appraoching the top awfully fast. Celebrities are now younger than I am. For so many years everyone who was famous and enviable was older than me. Even the Olson twins in the height of their pre-teen fame (Trenchcoat Mysteries: We’ll solve any crime by dinner time… anyone?) at least had a couple years on me. Now, this is not the case and is causing me boatloads of cognitive dissonance.

First of all, I have no idea when it is appropriate to think these youngsters are cool, cute, or attractive. For the first half of the ‘Can’t tie me down’ video I sat there sizing up both of the Boyz, and was pleased with what I saw. Then the line ‘Like I mean, I'm only seventeen and uhhm ahh the perfect couple is only in a dream’ had to jump out and make me feel awkward and dirty. Until recently, this had never been a problem. And no, I do not accept ‘Cougar’ (or ‘Puma’ as with the latest trend) as a legitimate title for this phase of my life.

The final straw happened to me a while ago (read: today in my kitchen) when I spent an hour watching videos of Justin Beiber before he got famous. So I watched videos of J. Beibs pre-puberty (still), pre-record deal, singing and dancing to someone with a handi-cam. This all started because as a budding choreographer (only in the most loose sense of the word) I wanted to see videos of good dancers. My sister suggested Justin, and one hour and twenty video clips later there I was. Justin does have moves and therefore I consider all of this just R and D for my upcoming dance projects. Yet somehow, I couldn’t shake the thought that if someone walked in and saw what I was doing I would most likely stutter, blush, and quickly close the browser.

The other reason being older than celebrities sucks was so well articulated by my friend Cleopatra (name changed to protect identity,) who stated sadly “It means we probably aren’t going to be famous!” Shit, right? This hit me hard too. Up until now this whole college thing was just a ruse, some façade of a normal life to keep me busy until I found my places among the stars. But now people like Justin, Miley, and a few of the Brothers Jonas make me realize that I am probably not on the verge of being ‘discovered’. I’m no spring chicken, I’m past my prime, less appealing that yesterday’s socks and last year’s Halloween candy.

Child stars should be put in their place. Send them rascal hoot-a-ninnys back to where they belong, in movies like Dennis the Menace, Home Alone, and E.T. Tweens need to stop taking up vital space on the airwaves and page six. And if they could stop being so good-looking and hip that would help me feel less washed-up. But my wishes aren’t going to be realized. Tweens all over the continent (J. Beibs is a kanuck) will continue to put videos on youtube and get signed by Usher. So I may as well accept this depressing trend. Crap.

Well, there’s still a couple of hours before the evening news is on and it’s time to take my metamucil, so I’m going to read Dakota Fanning’s relationship tips in Glamour and ask my 12 year old neighbor what the kids are listening to these days.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

You be the judge

I’ve spent a little too much time judging lately. I shot down R. Kelly’s memoir a premature year and a half before it’s release. I shat upon all who purchase fake pets. I swear I am not a Naomi Nay-sayer, a Judgmental Judy or a Disdainful Diana, (although I may be a Repetitive Rachel…) So I want to redeem myself and give 110% in endorsing something that I whole-heartedly love.

This postcard collection in book form is the best thing I’ve ever read. Dawdling through a gift store in my home city my brother and I came upon this treasure. Seconds later we were on the ground, tears a'streamin. Beyond the obvious humor, are the crucial practical purposes these postcards would serve. Think about all the thumb-twirling-eye-shifting-palm-sweating-forced-laughing awkward conversations this would save.

How convenient is that? The itching and burning may be here to stay, but at least you can avoid the uncomfortable chat that goes along with relaying that information. And a few of the latest holiday themed shots are as hilarious as they are soul-crushing. Why allow a child a few more years of believing in magical Christmas joy when instead you can trample on their visions of sugar plums with a blunt, yet adorable postcard?

I say let’s cut the shit. Life can be one big game of ‘beat-around-the-bush’, (and no, that isn’t an erotic board game being sold in the back of Cosmo.) Why not be direct and clear the air. And if you’re going to be intentionally brusque and offensive, you may as well throw some cute lil’ furry guys in the mix to ease the blow. Imagine you get a postcard that says, “You’re the father”. At first you can’t breathe. Then you feel yourself starting to get furious, and overwhelmed, and violent, and… ‘awwww look at the witttle kitty, he’s so small.’ Suddenly the fact that you’ve been hog-tied to a mediocre relationship all because Lifestyles makes a poor quality product doesn’t seem quite so bad.

I find this method of communication (that is, unwanted information paired with cute animals) so effective. I don't really understand why it has taken this long to surface. The long-short-longs of Morse code were used heavily over radio in the 1890's. Skywriting was invented in 1919. The beeper has been around since the 80's for pete's sake. And don't even get me started with hieroglyphics. All I know is I would not want to be informed of Granny's death through skywriting, be broken up with through a two-way, or interpret any impending STD's through Morse code. And if the unfortunate news was delivered next to the droopy eyes of a pup, I wouldn't be any worse for the wear.

Just sayin'.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

R. Kelly: Exposed. (No, don't call the cops, he's exposing his THOUGHTS)

Oprah’s Book Club, get ready, R. Kelly is writing a memoir. The music legend who brought us classics like ‘I believe I can fly’ and ‘The World’s Greatest’ is writing a “tell all” account of his trials and tribulations. And by trials, I mean literal trials. Like the one that ended last year for charges of child-pornography.

I’ll admit it, I like me some celeb juice. I flip through US Weekly at the grocery store and get pumped when there’s a recent issue of People at the gym. But there are some things that I just don’t want to know. If R. Kelly (or Robert as he’s calling himself in this soul-exposing piece) really is going to “tell all”, I don’t think I want to know it all, or any of it. Trapped in the Closet (parts 1-5) already gave me way too much insight into R. Kelly’s psyche.

The Trapped in the Closet series also illustrates the main problem with R. Kelly’s music, they are nearly impossible to relate to. For comparison, take Usher’s Confessions Part II:

These are my confessions
Just when I thought I said all I could say
My chick on the side said she got one on the way

Now, HERE is a message everyone can understand. Chick on the side gets pregnant? Who can’t relate to that? First you’ve got the awkward “Susie the dental hygienist is having my baby” conversations, then you’ve got the child support negotiations and years of therapy for all parties involved, and of course the general cramping of the playa lifestyle. I feel you, Ush, I feel you. But R. Kelly has to take things to the next level.

She said, “Don’t you make a sound
Or some shit is going down”
I said, “Why don’t I just go out the window?”
“Yes, except for one thing, we on the 5th floor”

Umm… infidelity? That may be statistically common. Hiding in a closet and considering a five story fall to avoid the angry husband and his gun? Considerably less common, (unless, of course, you’re the number one golfer in the world and rumored to be addicted to sex.)

I foresee this disconnect repeating itself when R. Kelly releases his life story. He’s expecting that people will read it and finally understand that the whole child porn thing was all just one big mix-up. “Wow, Robert, you are really just another guy, trying to do right by the people.” Sorry, R. Kellz, I just don’t see that happening.

But again, I’m not here to deter anyone from buying this memoir. Who am I, member of the Archie comics fan club, to judge anyone’s media consumption? Feel free to ‘Step in the name of love’ and statutory right down to the bookstore and pick up a copy. I’ll be stepping in the name of fear as quickly as I can in the opposite direction.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Zoot Zoot Riot

Right now I am thanking my lucky stars that I am not a parent of a 6 year old child. Not simply because of what that implies about my life at age 15, but because it would mean I would have to walk into Wal-Mart and ask the underpaid man in the blue apron where I could find an electronic hamster named ‘Chunk’. The Christmas season is here and the hottest new toy is a life-like rodent called a Zhu Zhu. From my brief yet vomit-inducing research I can best summarize this toy as the bastard-step-cousin of Tickle-Me-Elmo, Furbys, and Giga Pets. The Zhu Zhu hamsters come in five different characters; Patches, Mr. Squiggles, PipSqueak, Chunk, and Num Nums.

As a former owner of two hamsters (Fuzzy and Scratchy) and a female (making me innately drawn to anything cute and furry) I am very intrigued and deeply horrified by the idea of these faux-pets. The description on the Zhu Zhu website is particularly problematic.

The best alternatives to real live hamsters, Zhu Zhu Pets™ hamsters don’t poop, die, or stink, but they are still a riot of motion and sound. Darting around in their hamster tubes, busily scurrying from room to room, you never know where they’ll go next! Simply pet the hamster’s back, set him down, and watch him Zhu Zhu Zhu-oom! Zhu Zhu Pets™ like to be picked up and snuggled too! Pet them gently on the nose, and they’ll squeak with contentment."

My first question is, if they don't poop, die, or stink, what similarity do they have to real hamsters? I'm pretty sure that took up most of Fuzzy and Scratchy's time. And "a riot of motion and sound"?! Sure. Fuz and Scratch were mos def a riot when they were slowly killing each other in gladiator-style cage fights. Thankfully I mistook this carnage for playing and saved my innocent mind from the brutal realities of the animal world.

Fallacy number three: assuming hamsters will "dart around" and "busily scurry" from room to room. As the saying goes, you can build a big-ass hamster palace, but you can't make him run around in it and entertain you. When I wasn't watching them "play" with each other, I was trying to coax Fuzzy and Scratchy onto their ladders, to play with their toys, and to climb through tunnels. I'm not sure what the natural habitat of a hamster is, but it sure isn't a plastic monstrosity of colored tubes. Maybe if we let the little guys drop some acid they would be more inclined to do some "Zhu Zhu Zhu-oom"ing.

The Zhu Zhus have different modes for different times of day. There's "nurturing mode" for when you want to cuddle with Patches, and "adventure mode" where they go roaming around. The only mode I've ever seen is "Imma-burrow-into-these-wood-chips-and-take-a-shit" mode. This really just fills me with regret and feelings of inferiority. Were other girls' hamsters nuzzling and acting like Magellen while mine were semi-comatose? Were my months (premature death was inevitable under my care) with Fuzzy and Scratchy meaningless? I'm starting to feel empty inside...

The most astonishing feature of the Zhu Zhu is its verbal abilities. The thing can make more than 40 different sounds. While incredible, this is terrible unrealistic. In all my conversations with Fuzzy (Scratchy was shy) he never let out anything other than a squeak or a sneeze. With 40 sounds at their disposal these hamsters straight shoot. the. shit. with one another. Either that or they can speak English.

Now I'm not trying to deter anyone from buying one of these little guys. If you've always dreamed of owning a hamster but aren't really down for the poop, death, and that fact that they can't ride a Zhu Zhu skateboard, then Num Nums could be the answer to your prayers.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Rule #47 Don't forget the tickets when your trespassing to get the prof pic with Obama

Everyone has either crashed a party, or at least thought about it. I fell victim to this awkward social practice my freshman year of college. My friends and I (a loud, shiny, lip-glossed herd of oblivious 18 year olds) showed up at a party thinking it was just another everyone’s-invited-keg’s-in-the-corner type affair. Turns out it was a quiet little birthday party for a person who none of us knew. After walking in circles around the house and getting a few too many unfriendly looks, we decided to cut our loses and 88 that shizz. I still maintain that vague text messages can do some damage with misinformation, but I got out unscathed, so it’s all water under the bridge.

Owen and Vince have proved that crashing can be fun and fruitful, (if you know what I mean…) but there are risks. Anytime you combine identity fraud, alcohol, the Macarena, and way too many distant relatives there is the potential for disaster. Two crashers reached for the stars this November when they snuck into a White House state dinner. Tareq and Michaele of the DC area said ‘No’ to Lean Cuisines and Netflix and said ‘Hell, yes’ to sneaking in the East Wing of the White House. While they may not have been faced with trigger-happy Sack or a stage-five clinger, these two should’ve expected some problems with oh, I don’t know…the secret service, the CIA, military personnel, and any other dude with a gun whose job is to protect the life of our nation’s president. But apparently they were very relaxed and having themselves quite the time. The photos are proof that this couple made MOVES on this fete. I mean, these guys were all close and cozy with India’s prime minister and Mr. President himself. Which is a little unnerving, if you think about it.

There are two kinds of parties; ones that you can talk your way into, and ones that you can’t. (This is assuming that you’re never actually invited to the parties. And I’m talking about the figurative ‘you’, not actually YOU, silly. I know you’re always invited you saucy minx.) I’ve unfortunately had a few encounters with the latter variety. I was flat out rejected at the door of one of my school’s more bizarre fraternities by a girl with a foil tower on her head. (This is one of my many solid arguments why girls shouldn’t be allowed to join frats, but that’s a another fish to fry.)

I feel pretty confident that any party at the White House is allowed to be a little exclusive. I’m not offended that Ol’ Obamskis didn’t shoot me an e-vite, I know they need to take precautions. Precautions such as keeping randos out of what should be the most secure building on this continent.

I guess this shows that criminal profiling only works to an extent. Apparently all you need to do to get past the stronghold of national security is be a chubby, middle-aged, average-looking lawyer.
Touché Tareq, Touché.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Game day lineup: Mom v. Turkey

Here in the Pacific Northwest people like to be connected to their food; where it comes from, how it’s raised, what toxic chemicals aren’t used to kill the bugs that live inside it. I’m from the land of granola-eaters and organic-fair-trade-shade-grown-coffee drinkers. People aren’t just eco-friendly, they are aggressively non-eco-hostile. My eighth grade teacher preached the benefits of consumer responsibility with stories about his time spent living off the land in the Oregon wilderness. I was unable to pick up too many pearls of wisdom because I tuned out as soon as he started in with the story on skinning an injured rabbit. “Just tidbits to help you on your life’s journey” he said. Ya, helpful maybe if I was intending to move to Appalachia and live off road kill. But that’s neither here nor there.

On Thanksgiving there is so much food around it is impossible to not consider where it came from. Some things are still pretty straight forward. Like the green bean casserole I created like magic entirely out of canned goods. Despite the simple deliciousness of the casserole, I don’t feel connected ethically or morally to this piece of preservative laden genius.

My mom, on the other hand, has a very involved relationship with our turkey. It’s intimate, raw (literally), and sometimes gets so graphic that I have to look away. It begins at the grocery store, where she finds the king turkey, the alpha male of the frozen poultry aisle. This is generally when I ask if everyone within a mile radius of our house is coming to dinner, that being the only logical reason for a turkey of that size.

Once home from the store the thawing process begins. Although seemingly simple enough to warrant a one-touch button on the microwave, thawing in my mother’s hands is a multi-step process that takes the attention of caring for an infant. The turkey is constantly checked on with maternal diligence and loving pokes and prods. It’s a frequent topic of conversation, ‘do you think the turkey is okay?’ ‘How do you think the turkey is doing?’ The rest of us just look at her blankly. ‘I’m sorry, mom, the turkey wasn’t alive when we first became acquainted, so I can’t really say…’ She doesn’t mind. She knows that none of us are on her level.

Then things get serious. Mom gets the pan ready and sizes up the toddler-sized bird floating in the sink. Her demeanor changes, the turkey is no longer something to be doted on, it’s something to be overcome. She looks at it like a worthy opponent, one that deserves respect but can be conquered. She greases her hands and starts rubbing the wrinkly, pale skin of the turkey with surprising strength and vigor for a woman of her size. The first time I saw this, I had to suppress a fit of dry heaves. My gag reflex was not prepared for the explicit scene happening in my kitchen. The stuffing step is done with speed and efficiency. And I have fewer mental images of this event because by this time I’m in the corner breathing into a paper bag.

Once the bird is in the oven, my mom feels as though she is rounding the final corner. The race is almost over and she is in the lead. My only remaining task is to rid my mind of a horrors I witnessed in time to eat the results of this exhausting process. Once I am dressed in my Sunday best, sitting in front of a plate of steaming Thanksgiving prizes, it is impossible to look at my plate and not see a fallen soldier. ‘I know what you’ve been through’ I think to myself as I stare into the shiny, brown bird stuffed with bread and celery. And all of a sudden I feel all too connected to my food.
Happy Thanksgiving. Bon Apetite.

Hug your children and kiss your wife

There is about to be a HUGE blow to the cosmetic surgery industry in America. Last week three men in Peru were arrested for killing overweight peasent farmers and draining their fat to sell on the black market for use in anti-wrinkle cream and other cosmetics.

I will pause to allow you to re-read the sentence. Breathe it in.

The men were caught running through the forest with syringes of liquid fat (WTF? LIQUID HUMAN FAT?) when caught by police. Apparently their extractions are worth up to $60,000 on the black market. This story raises so many questions it’s almost too much of a task to even think about. But I guess we should first celebrate, we have found a cure to obesity! I mean, why are gangs running rampant through the Peruvian jungles taking the lives of innocent, chubby farmers and sucking their fat out with needles when there are thousands of Americans who pay to have this done? (Sans the killing part, of course.)
Can’t you just see Quinn Quadbypass sitting in the doctors office stunned to learn that his years of double-fisting Big Macs are finally going to pay off?
“So let me get this straight, you will pay ME to suck the fat off my bulging abdomen?”
People helping people, it’s a beautiful thing.

So, what do you say, America? Let’s come together to Save the Fat Farmers. Poor guys. Not only is Peru the world’s second leading producer of cocaine, on international watch lists for human traffiking, has one of the highest murder rates in South America, and has a decrease in cave habitats which has led to a great number of Vampire Bat attacks on people, BUT NOW there are gangs running around at night killing fatties. How are people supposed to get a good night’s sleep? Hide in a bat-proof cage with an AK-47 and a sign on the door saying ‘Down with Trans- Fats’? This can’t go on. The farmers of Peru do not deserve to fear that every bite of tamale is one step closer to getting shanked by some guy with a big ass needle. There’s enough causes for guilt in this world as it is. I know I couldn’t handle it if while I ate a life-changing meal of blue-cheese burger and bacon cheese fries (last night’s dinner, jealous?) the little devil of guilt was sitting on my shoulder whispering “Bacon or your life, it’s your choice.” That is a scary thought on so many levels, first being that when I thought about those two options I hesitated for a long moment before deciding that my life probably has more value than a strip of fried pig product.

My other main concern with the recent events in Peru is the fact that there is human fat being put into cosmetics. Like, what?! And who buys this stuff? I can’t really imagine my mom at the department store being like “Hmmm, so none of the 300 anti-wrinkle creams here really do it for me, I think I’m going to go see what’s new on the black market.”
But since these men were going to get paid such a ludacrisly large amount of money for these vials of human fat, then clearly there is a demand. Maybe…. (conspiracy theory ready, set, go!) this human fat is being sold to corporate cosmetic companies. Which means, that there are people walking around the face of our pretty earth wearing the fat from deceased Peruvian farmers on their faces. This is when the life choices of log-cabin-dwelling hermits start to look really attractive. I get it now, I get why you would choose to sell all your worldly possessions, buy a goat and a Leatherman and embark on a self-sustaining existance in the middle of the woods. The world is a scary mother-f****** place.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

You'll be the prince and he'll be the princess

So it’s Thanksgiving. Which means signs of the holiday season start popping up here and there. There is egg nog in the fridge and my Pandora is suddenly set to N’Sync’s Christmas album (…who touched my computer?!)
Around my house we love holiday music. And by holiday music I mean we really only like two songs: ‘Santa Claus is Coming to Town’ by Bruce Springsteen and ‘All I Want for Christmas is You’. My childhood being free from any religious education I associate Christmas with two things: Santa and romance. My brother, sister and I can sing the lyrics of Bruce’s Christmas classic, the live version, complete with his stutters and cheers to the crowd. The holiday season is a miraculous time, because it’s absolutely incredible that I haven’t gotten sick of this song. Nothing gets me more excited for the holidays than the Boss belting out lines about The Fat Man’s arrival. By the time he gets to the “and I’m tellin you why” I’m filled with the warm, fuzzy, secular, American holiday spirit.

Bruce's jam will always be my favorite, but coming in at a close second is, of course, Mariah’s holiday hit. Not only does this song encapsulate the majority of the Christmas wishes of everyone over the age of 12, but it has joined the ranks with the select few chick songs that are okay to be loved by men. A few others in this unique category include Taylor Swift’s ‘Love Story”; and Miley’s ‘Party in the USA.’ Qualification for this high honor requires a specific scientific formula; a song must be catchy and simple enough to sing along to and be cheesy enough that the manliest of men can claim they appreciate it on ironic terms.

When ‘Love Story’ was performed karaoke style every week at the bar near campus a female was rarely seen near the mike. It was just a gaggle of shaggy, inebriated boys being like “Man, isn’t this hilarious? Me with my 5 O’clock shadow and Timbs singing about crying on the staircase?! Frikken HILARIOUS, right? Cuz crying on the staircase is that absolute opposite of what I do, that’s where the humor is, get it? Ha….”

I am by no means opposed to this phenomenon. It means that my brother isn’t mad when we put Mariah on repeat, and in fact, he requests it. (He also lets my sister and I give him pedicures when we’re on vacation, but that’s a story for another day.) I like the acknowledgement that legends like Mariah, Taylor, and Miley are getting from my male peers, even if it comes with a facade of sarcastic disdain. There is just something to be said for lyrics that hit home, whether it’s coming from a snaggle-toothed teeny bopper, a has-been pop goddess, or The Boss. So I’ll be on the couch if you need me, with my egg nog, headphones, and a very exclusive playlist. All you meat-eating, flannel-wearing, power tool-using, crotch-scratching men out there feel free to do the same. I won’t judge.

Romeo save me i've been feeling so alone
I guess I never got the memo
Cuz all I want for Christmas is you.
You baby.