It doesn't matter what you do, you've nothing to lose

by anna at 07:24 PM on February 28, 2004

Pro athletes often find themselves in a rather sketchy position. By definition, unless you count pro bowlers, they have killer bods. Most are rich and in their twenties. They spend a lot of time on the road, living out of posh hotels crawling with jock groupies. All these factors leave them vulnerable to charges of sexual misconduct. Just ask Kobe Bryant. (I believe he stands a decent chance of acquital. Basis: I can't remember ever kissing, hugging and fondling for ten minutes in a hotel room without completing the deed. Well, there was that once but it had nothing to do with rape.)

Oftentimes those accusations are true. Other times it is pure bullshit. I tend to think the true victims are the ones willing to endure the ordeal of a trial, as opposed to those who drop charges in favor of a financial settlement. But ultimately it comes down to a he said she said. Who are you going to believe?

In the increasingly moralistic witchhunt climate of post-Janetit America, this isn't the position you want to be in. Fortunately, there's no need to worry about it. No doubt inspired by a flurry of such lurid cases, somebody came up with a sexual consent form. This raises a host of questions in my mind.

First of all, wouldn't the signing of consent forms put a major damper on both parties' ardor? It's like those times you have to run out and buy condoms. Far better, I think, to come up with an alternate plan. Some of my most pleasurable experiences have stemmed from alternate plans.

Is it necesssary to have the signatures notarized? If not, how do you know the signing itself wasn't coerced? You're right back in the he said she said arena.

Given that no means no right up until full penetration and perhaps beyond, is such a contract even legally binding? Couldn't a woman sign it while all horny and then renege when her partner turns out to be a fumbling oaf who sweats all over during the petting?

For that matter, is this strictly a guy thing? Or do gals too need to secure waivers before knocking boots with relative strangers? Damned if I know.

But in my opinion, the mere existence of this concept is emblematic of how far we've sunk here in the 21st century. Has it really come to...... this?

comments (6)


indicate precisely what you mean to say, yours sincerely wasting away

by mg at 02:20 PM on February 27, 2004

In a month or two I’ll be turning 28. As the average age amongst Bad Sammers seems to skew slightly higher than that, I’m sure 28 doesn’t sound all that old.

But it is. Or at least it feels that way.

cont'd »

comments (14)

chuck woolery

Crack(s) in the Veneer

by chuck woolery at 09:47 PM on February 25, 2004

Mr. Blank's last entry has left me wanting to contribute to the drug discussion because I, unfortunately, deal with the effects of drug use most of my working days.

Please don't tune out now on the basis of this being a anti-drug rant, because it isn't. Truthfully, the vast majority of drug users never come into conflict with the law, and those that do, at least in my community, are users of one of two drugs (or both), crack (freebase) cocaine, or Methamphetamine. The occasional user of marijuana that I run into is almost always a dealer, or someone found with some in his pocket when he got busted for something else. The Meth and Crack heads are something else entirely.

Below is the abrieviated story of one group of people who got into drugs they couldn't handle, and how they sunk from there. I don't pretend to say that it's representative of all drug users, in fact I'll be surprised if I ever see a soft drug user in circumstances remotely resembling these.

cont'd »

comments (23)


Am I part of the cure, or am I part of the disease?

by anna at 09:28 PM on February 25, 2004

Criminals. It’s one of the most derogatory terms in the language. Yet some enlightened folks have come to realize that the solution to petty crime isn’t to lock the offender up in an institution teeming with far worse criminals. Then again, no one wants to be seen as “soft on crime.” So there are 50 million Americans with arrest records. The US has one of the highest incarceration rates in the world.

You really can’t lump them all together. Traditionally lawmakers have thus opted for a hierarchy that goes something like this: Really vile murders, garden variety murder, kidnapping, forcible rape, armed robbery, burglary, shoplifting, vandalism, so-called victimless crimes like prostitution and drug possession and lastly, white-collar theft of millions of dollars from innocent old ladies. Sentences ranging from death to community service reflect this view.

I’m not sure this is the right approach going forward. I think we need to start looking more at motive. People commit crimes for a plethora of reasons, some arguably more heinous than others. Here are the biggies: Desperation/necessity i.e. robbing a store to feed your family, perversions like attraction to children, on a lark i.e. joyriding, being committed to a bogus cause like the 9/11 hijackers, a desire to become richer despite already having more money than they could ever hope to spend as with those Enron and WorldCom execs, drug or alcohol addiction and most inexplicable of all in my opinion, for no discernable reason at all. The latter set would include hackers who unleash viruses and worms for fun, vandals, graffiti artists and serial killers.

Here’s how I’d rank them, strictly on a motive criteria: The worst punishment should go to those who can offer no logical explanation for their heinous actions. Like those guys you hear about who kill somebody in some silly dispute where they felt they were being disrespected in some way: "Dude was gettin' on my nerves so I capped him." We’ve got enough to worry about without having to deal with such totally random threats. Pure larks (minor offenses only) should be treated more leniently unless the perpetrator is old enough to know better. As should people who commit crimes of financial necessity. I also think you need to grudgingly give credit where it’s due for people who show the courage of their convictions, no matter how misguided or demented. And I believe we should really lower the boom on those who are already rich and just desire to exploit others to get richer. Kenneth Lay should be disembowled.

What’s more, I think we need to do away with insanity defenses and the requirement that a defendant be competent to stand trial. This way we won’t have authorities force-feeding psychotropic meds to the Paul Westons of the world in order to make them understand that they could die for their offenses.

Aside from far left wing secularists and those equally naive anarchists who plague the WTO, everyone agrees that society has a duty to make moral judgments about the relative repugnancy of various conducts. But there are always pitfalls when it comes to meting out justice. States pass three strikes and you’re out laws and harmless folks wind up imprisoned for life. Do you equate Mohammed Atta’s crimes with those of Timothy McVeigh? Atta, while a despicable excuse for a subhuman being, acted from a fervent belief in his religion. McVeigh acted from some vague dislike of the government or something.

Then there’s the thorny matter of remorse. Few cared about McVeigh’s execution in part because he remained fiercely unrepentant to the bitter end. Yet much hue and cry was heard when George W. Bush took out a demure, born-again Christian woman down in Texas. Sure, she slashed somebody’s throat but she is contrite. She’s found Jesus. And she’s a woman, for crying out loud! My ass. Where were those bleeding hearts when Jeb Bush whacked Aileen Wournoss over in Florida? Why no candlelight vigil for her?

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And while the future's there for anyone to change, still you know it seems it would be easier to change the past

by anna at 06:41 PM on February 23, 2004

Along about the time Valentine’s Day rolls around, I make my annual trek downtown (well actually, the local mall) to visit Victoria’s Secret. To avoid the crowds I usually do so well in advance. But this year I procrastinated. On February 14 at 10 AM, the store opened its gates. A swarm of guys, myself included, were waiting outside. You all know how comfortable I am in the company of men. It’s only worse when they’ve got skimpy lingerie on their minds.

I watch them paw tacky black or red teddies and bodices. I know their SOs will deeply resent these gifts. Really, these are gifts for themselves. And forget those pushup bras when your gal is in her forties. The implication is awful. So I steer clear of more risque stuff in favor of a more conservative set of pajamas. There’s a long, impatient line to check out. Guys are holding these frilly garments as if they were slathered in radioactive waste. They’re thinking about how convenient that crotch snap will be. They are deluding themselves. Their wives and girlfriends will wear the revealing negligees right after they parade into a maximum security prison clad only in stiletto heels.

Now Vicky’s garb comes in hideous boxes emblazoned with pink stripes only Trysta the former Bachelorette could love. They top this presentation off with a black bow. Usually I ask the clerk to tie it for me. But with the line that long and surly, I didn’t feel I could. I am driving home with this sinking angst over the prospect of having to tie a bow.

Back when it was still acceptable to say derogatory things about other people, I was branded as “uncoordinated.” This term lies somewhere between the highfalutin English word “ungainly” and the more common “oafish.” My sister drilled this idea into my head. “You’re a guy. How can you be so damn uncoordinated,” she’d ask.

I’m particu1arly bad when it comes to tying knots and such. Boy Scouts for me was a living hell. To this day I can’t tie a clover hitch or whatever it is it’s called. (My son inherited this aversion to knots. He can tie his shoes but not tightly. Aside from nursing a toddler who is standing up, there is no feeling quite like tying someone’s shoes when they tower over you. Thank God for Velcro stays.)

So I’m sitting there with this rectangular, pink-striped box and the bow with an elastic string tucked inside it. The bow is too long to fit snugly wrapped once around the box, but it isn’t long enough to go around twice. Somehow, I surmise, you’re supposed to use the secret elastic string to make it work. I’m sure this involves twisting the damn thing in some deft way. I fumble with it for a full fifteen frustrating minutes. If I hadn’t broken the string, I’d probably still be languishing in bow hell. Imagine my humiliation when I presented my wife with her conservative pajamas in the hideous box with a mangled bow hanging limply around it. To say nothing of the exposed secret string. Bah!

When I was working on the acid-gobbling paint crew, one of my assigned tasks was to lash down the ladders. After work we were out on the Beltway, inching along one of the most crowded roads this side of Tokyo. Picture the chaos when a 45-foot extension ladders comes careening off the truck into oncoming traffic. Or the reaction when three tripping painters come bounding onto a six lane highway to retrieve it.

My painting career had come to a screeching halt. But my wife sure did love her conservative pajamas. She even wore them to bed once. Or maybe that was me.

comments (11)


Just roll me over when you're done

by anna at 06:42 PM on February 19, 2004

You may not know it but every single medical procedure has a corresponding five (or more) digit code. 44608, for instance, denotes removal of a foreign body from your anus. It is better known as the Richard Gere Procedure.

Putting these and other codes on medical bills has developed into an art. People go to school to learn how to do it properly. The idea is to get the provider's bill to sail past the insurance company's cost control software and possibly get paid at some point in the distant future. Alas, it doesn't always work out that way. We see to that.

I got a call at work from a Massage Therapist named Sue Ann. Seems she'd branched out on her own from her job at a physical therapy outfit. Since that time, she'd received no compensation for all her back-breaking work. Hers was essentially a one-woman operation so she was trying to code the bills herself. She was complaining that she'd submitted several bills to my company and either received no response or received some cryptic EOB asking for more information. I gave her my standard response: Email us another copy and I will personally see that it is discarded in the recycle bin. Your problems are not my problems.

I then changed the subject. I asked Sue Ann what it takes to qualify as a licensed Massage Therapist. Turns out they have to take a lot of classes to get certified. Nonetheless I was having a hard time taking her seriously. Here's why: I grew up in Falls Church, VA. Just about every boy who grew up there lost their virginity to a Massage Therapist employed at a tacky place called Tiki Tiki Massage Parlor. The Tiki Tiki girls would say things like, "I love you long time. Just 20 da-la more." If you went to Tiki Tiki and only got a rubddown you were considered a dork. It's like hooking up with an escort service and just getting escorted someplace.

I guess times have changed in the world of massage therapy.

Which brings me to this weird debate I heard on the radio. A caller said he'd been visiting a licensed Massage Therapist for years. Out of the blue she flipped him over and started jacking him off. He didn't touch her, he was a totally passive participant in the act. He was asking whether this constituted cheating on his SO. The DJ asked a most salient question: Did you tell your SO about it, even in passing? Or did you conceal it out of guilt, shame or fear of consequences? And I guess that's the definition of adultery these days.

comments (14)


Red lips hair and fingernails, I hear you're a mean ol' Jezebel

by anna at 06:49 PM on February 17, 2004

I don’t know Scott Peterson personally. Nonetheless I dislike his smirky ass. I also disagree with his choices when it comes to women. He was happily married to Laci. She was bearing his child for Christ’s sake. Rather than feathering their nest, he takes up with this Amber woman.

Laci’s friends and relatives describe her in all the generic ways we talk about dead ladies. She was vivacious, caring, loved children etc. And that’s all well and fine. But the thing that is striking to me is the way she is often pictured wearing bright red lipstick many years into her marriage. This is in stark contrast to the earthy, almost homely-looking massage therapist he chose over his own wife.

Given their druthers I think most guys would prefer that women wear lipstick and makeup in general; just as they revere high heels. (Although I must admit that heels ‘n thong combo you see on car magazine covers borders on preposterous. How often do you see that ensemble in real life? And talk about objectifying women. Jeez!)

Admit it. Lipstick simply looks good on a woman. It is seductive and implies that she cares about her appearance. Single woman recognize this. I seem to recall Linz saying that she always puts some on before entering the guy-laden supermarket. Regardless of that, though, it is clear that lipstick is a huge and thriving business. Even in primitive cultures I’m sure women find ways to adorn their lips, maybe with extracts from berries or something.

Now granted, there are drawbacks to lipstick. If you canoodle with someone who isn’t your spouse, telltale traces of it wind up on your collar or....elsewhere. That is never good. It makes a mess of wine glasses. It dries out and requires constant re-application. I don’t care for the medicinal way it smells. There are so-called “lipstick lesbians,” and I don’t even want to know what that means. Old women often miss their lips and wind up looking like circus clowns. Many of the hues they’ve come up with do look outlandishly gaudy. It certainly can be overdone---as with that deal where there’s a penciled line around the contours of her lips. Yuk! Two words: Melanie Griffith.

Still, I daresay we can stipulate that on balance, loud lipstick is a good thing---or at least that it isn’t hurting anyone. So why then do so few married or otherwise attached women seem to wear it anymore? It would be easy to say that in the harried juggling act that is the MOOA lifestyle, there just isn’t time for lipstick. But most MOOAs still get their hair done. They pluck their eyebrows, get bikini waxes and shave their legs. Attachment doesn’t preclude preening.

(In the movie Bugsy, Annette Benning played singer Virginia Hill. Her character was practically defined by the bright lipstick she wore at all times---that and her propensity for hurling ashtrays at Bugsy Siegel. In real life she captivated the heart of lifelong bachelor and ladies’ man Warren Beatty. They ultimately wed and had a slew of kids. I wonder if she still wears lipstick around the house.)

I think the reason is this: In Siegel’s day, young women tried to look older, more sophisticated. To this end they’d wear loud lipstick, put their hair up in buns and don/doff elegant suits. They’d take up the then-glamorous practice of smoking. Nowadays the older MOOA women are striving to look younger. They tend to shun bright lipstick in favor of more subtle shades, lip gloss or nothing at all.

It's all good, I spose.

comments (20)


Slip Sliding Away

by ezy at 04:28 PM on February 17, 2004

If you guys haven’t noticed, I haven’t been around as much as usual. There is a good reason for this; I swear.

Last Wednesday started out comfortable enough. The temperature had soared to a balmy forty degrees which was a huge improvement from twenty five, let me tell you. I woke up, had breakfast with Amy, and made my way to work. I arrived at nine AM and started into the office. I didn’t quite make it. There happened to be an ice slick just before the sidewalk and, having walked on ice all winter with no mishaps, I decided to run the gauntlet again for a short cut. Well, I found out something that was filed away in my brain but I had forgotten; ice gets much slicker when there is water melting on top of it. I fell. No, that doesn’t quite describe it sufficiently. I busted my ass hard. I hadn’t taken a hit like that since playing pick-up football in high school when I had my wind knocked out and broke my nose. I had to lay there for a minute and take inventory. Everything moved and nothing felt broken so I got up. I strolled around the side of the building trying to walk it off.

cont'd »

comments (11)

jen x

the few, the proud, the horny

by jen x at 12:15 PM on February 16, 2004

Well, Linz's been giving me a hard time about not updating the world of badsam on the status of my boy stuff, so here we go. 'Cause I know you've all been on tenterhooks just dying to find out.

Not enough posts use the term tenterhooks nowadays. I feel so proud for having done so.


cont'd »

comments (9)


Alone again, naturally

by anna at 08:26 PM on February 14, 2004

I am alone in my cavernous tomb of a home. This is not a normal state of affairs. My wife works from home and I have a 13 year old son. Even when she does go out somewhere he is usually here.

Those of you who live alone probably take this for granted. You can do whatever you want whenever you want. You can surf Internet porn, invite people that your SO disapproves of over, get falling down drunk, smoke dope, snort coke, gorge on verboten foods, dance naked to old songs, play air guitar, masturbate openly, anything really. Those who don't know exactly what I'm talking about here: Living peaceably with people involves compromise---lots of it.

Tonight my wife went to my stepdaughter's house, where she is babysitting the other stepdaughter's baby (Valentine's Day, don't you know.) Out of the blue my son received an invititation to sleep over at a friend's house. So here I am, by myself for once.

I almost feel as though I should be doing something naughty. But I don't have any interest in Internet porn, partially because it always seems to entail such a hassle. There's always this bait and switch aspect to it. I don't have any drugs stashed. Whenever my wife returns from the baby thing we will no doubt go out and eat, so that's out too. She'd be like, why aren't you hungry? I've long since lost touch with all the pals she disapproves of, so we can't get together for a drink or anything. I could do what I did the last time this happened, which was go out to a bar by myself. I would not recommend doing that to anyone, no matter how desperate their circumstance.

AMC is showing Scent of a Woman. Al Pacino, my favorite actor, won an Osar portraying an irrascible blind guy in it. I guess I'll watch it and pour myself another glass of champagne. Happy Valentine's Day everyone!

comments (3)


When the sun goes down and you're home all alone, think of me and try not to laugh

by anna at 07:30 PM on February 13, 2004

Every morning I wake up at 3 AM, very thirsty. I stumble out to the kitchen and drink juice right from the carton. I look down and notice that I am sporting wood. It is straining against my briefs. There isn't much I can do about it. Masturbating at that hour would be pathetic. And besides, I don't do that anymore. My wife wouldn't appreciate having her slumber disturbed. So I go back to sleep with this raging hard-on.

The alarm rousts me at 6:30. I still have the boner. But I go about my business, getting ready for work. Now it's annoying to be sure, but I didn't know until recently that it was a life-threatening medical emergency. Yes, I'm watching TV and I hear....this: Erections lasting longer than four hours, though rare, Require Immediate Medical Attention.

Who knew? I am sure there is a feminine equivalent, where she's walking around secreting copious quantities of vaginal fluid for hours on end. I'm sure it happens around Brad Pitt all the time.

Of course, seeking Immediate Medical Attention is easier said than done. In my case it requires the blessing of my PCP, the same one who stamped my chart thusly: "Drug Seeking Behaviors Noted. Do Not Dispense Narcotic Painkillers to Him Under Any Circunstance." Yet twice, she has assented. Once I sustained a nasty gash on my hand. I tracked her down and she asked, "Would you say it is oozing or gushing blood?" I said, "Well, I'd say it's spurting." The other time a hemmorhoid burst and blood was flowing profusely from my ass. My wife tried gamely to stem the tide to no avail. (Forget the ass/mouth thing. This is the definition of True Love.) So I go to the ER and am left cooling my heels for half an hour. There's a gathering pool of blood at my feet. When the intake nurse deigned to speak with me, I swear she asked, "So what seems to be the problem today?" Seems to be? There seems to be blood pouring out of my ass and down my pants leg. I've only got about a quart left to carry oxygen to my brain. Other than that, everything's cool.

But let's just suppose you could run the gauntlet laid down by your HMO and gain an audence with the surly intake nurse like Dorothy groveling before the Wizard of Oz.

Intake Nurse: So what seems to be the problem today?
Prospective Patient: Well, I've had this raging hard-on for four hours.
Intake Nurse: So what?
Prospective Patient: Mike Ditka told me to get back in the game but I never imagined it would be like this. Here, look.
Intake Nurse: That will be quite alright. Sir, take a look around you. There are people with gaping head wounds, people with comminuted fractures. You have the nerve to waltz in here and complain that you've got a boner that won't quit?
Prospective Patient: Well, yeah.
Intake Nurse: Might I suggest you stare at this for a while?

comments (4)


Everybody's talking about the new kid in town

by anna at 10:09 AM on February 08, 2004

When I was sixteen, a stranger-to-the-sun pale girl came sashaying into our midst. (I have a yearbook picture of her scanned into Easy Photo if anyone would be so kind as to tell me how to add it as a link to a comment.) She immediately created quite the stir. Other gals took an immediate dislike to her. But guys talked about her endlessly. She’s from Boston, and all those northern girls are unapproachable, they’d say. So far as anyone could tell she didn’t eat, smoke or drink, which only added to her otherworldly image. Plus she wore these funky thrift store ensembles. They had to revise the already rigid dress code just to deal with her wardrobe and its frequent malfunctions.

Now I grew up very close to my prom queen sister. She’d always complain that guys were afraid to approach her for fear of rejection. So I knew the supposed aloofness of pretty girls to be a myth. The only question was what kind of ploy to use. (The other teensy problem being that I’d never approached anyone for a Real Date. For those too young to recall this archaic ritual, suffice it to say that in terms of traumatic experiences it’s right up there with awaiting Simon Cowell’s response to your lame audition.) I learned that she was obsessed with David Bowie, or as he liked to be known in those days, simply Bowie. I scored tickets to his concert and asked her if she’d like to go. She wasted no time in accepting my invitation. On the way to the show she shared her life story with me. It was kind of sad.

To make a long story short, she became my first true girlfriend. We dated for two months or so, an eternity in high school. We developed a real friendship as well. But then one day she showed up with her hair dyed jet black and cropped real short. It clashed terribly with her alabaster complexion and delicate features. Shyly, she asked me how I liked it. Tactful as ever, I blurted out, “It looks ridiculous on you. Why don’t you change it back?” I can still recall how crestfallen she looked as she explained how she’d thought I’d like it. And how she sensed that our nascent relationship was already flagging. She thought the change might rekindle things between us. Key difference between males and females: Where I saw merely a bad hairdo, she attached great relationship-impacting significance to the dye job and my reaction to it.

She did try to dye it back to her natural (?) blonde, but alas, hair dye technology wasn’t what it is today. Her mane came out a color they don’t teach you in kindergarten. It was kind of like a sickly pink/green mixture. She took to wearing a scarf over her head to cover it up. My friends started ribbing me unmercifully. “You have got to lose that chick. She looks like a freak show,” they said. I could hear catty girls giggling at her follicle misfortune. Of course, at that age, peer approval means everything. It’s as if these are the only people you’ll ever know. So I ditched her pronto. She took it in stride. The hair grew out.

Before long this tall, handsome older guy in a tasteful leather jacket started pulling up to school in his hot-rod Z-28 Camaro. He would whisk her away after school, as everyone else shuffled onto the bus. Needless to say, the other girls were seething with envy. Their dates picked them up in mom's station wagon.

Oh well. Once she told me that she wasn’t a girl’s girl. She was from a military family and had lived in many places. But wherever she went, girls shunned her like the plague. She thus lived in fear that when she got married, she’d lack bridesmaids. (This was in the days before you could rent wedding parties or mourners.) Part of the reason we clicked was because I then realized that I’m not a guy’s guy. Guys tend to make me uncomfortable, especially those of the gregarious he-man variety. Yes, just as Michael Jackson does children, I simply prefer the company of females. (Oh wait, that didn’t come out right.) They’re not nearly as threatening and they smell a whole lot better, usually.

And I think that distinction, far more than race, religion or sexual orientation, is what divides mankind into two camps: those who feel more at ease with their own gender for companionship and those who prefer friends of the opposite sex.

comments (39)

jen x

I feel pretty... oh so pretty

by jen x at 10:56 AM on February 06, 2004

So, I decided that it was time for a change. I'm tired of being overlooked and having lame hair, especially in the middle of winter when life is blah anyhow.

I shored up my courage, got a highly-recommended name (from my coworker friend with crazy hair), and took my plain boring self on down.

This is the before picture:

cont'd »

comments (15)


If flesh could crawl my skin would fall from off my bones and run away from here

by anna at 07:30 PM on February 04, 2004

CBS is dead set on averting a reprise of its Super Bowl breast-baring fiasco. And with the Grammy telecast upcoming they face a daunting challenge indeed. After all this is an event that attracts the exhibitionist likes of Britney, Christina, Pink and Li'l Kim. Now that Janet has broken the boob barrier, these gals will have a lot of catching up to do, no? CBS shirts are scrambling to devise special technologies to thwart those efforts. Round and round they go, in a pointless game of cat n' mouse.

Talk about making a mountain out of a molehill! (*all groan.*) I mean, with deadly poison being mailed to senators, a swelling budget deficit, bird flu and roadside bombs exploding everywhere you look, who cares? For that matter, who cares about the Grammies? Every year it's the same, much self-aggrandization, self-serving acceptance speeches and feigned happiness at others' good fortune.

Of course I'm just guessing cuz I never watch the stultifying spectacle. But I do read about who won what and mostly I haven't a clue about the artist. When I do I'm always struck by how boringly mainstream they are. Rest assured that Linz's beloved Coldplay won't win squat this year. Their music is far too moody and eclectic for the Grammy people, whose taste runs to Bette Midler's sickening rendition of Wind Beneath My Wings.

Likewise, Jim Carroll's edgy debut Catholic Boy got snubbed back in the 80s. In it the onetime promising prep school athlete bared his soul, detailing his descent into heroin addiction and his horror at watching all his friends die one by one. His harrowing tale was made into a little movie called The Basketball Diaries. I could relate on more levels than I care to share.

That album rocked, as did Garbage's 1995 debut. Lead singer Shirley Manson's rage and paradoxical vulnerability were palpable throughout. Was this effort Grammy-worthy? Hell no, Best New Artist honors went to Sheryl Crowe that year.

Fact is, all these awards shows have degenerated into farcical parodies of their former selves. And part of the problem is the entertainment industry's egotistical refusal to admit that it's just a producer of products no more important than coat hangers, beer or sausage. Fed by fans' adoration and the cottage industry that has grown up around watching their every move, they've come to fancy themselves as Artistes with a capital A. That's why they bore you with such highbrow fare as A Beautiful Mind, Shakespeare in Love and Schindler's List. All of which won a slew of Oscars. None of which fared real well at the box office, which is all that matters. In fact, of the top 50 grossing films, only two won Best Picture. Guess which ones.

The ancient Greeks had Zeus and all their lesser gods to worship. People of the Wild West had such notorious gunslingers as Billy the Kidd, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. We're left with these vacuous nitwits and their endless backslapping. Bah! is right.

comments (14)


Go on, take the money and run

by anna at 08:42 AM on February 03, 2004

Every year Ian has to do a science project. It’s a big deal as he’s enrolled in this advanced math and science program. If he gets a C in either subject, he’s booted from the program. The project counts for a large part of his grade. (Let me add that to attend one of these science fairs is to know that practically every parent in America ignores the rules that say the kid has to conceive and execute the project. This is their chance to avenge all those science fair humiliations of their youths---not to mention disastrous football, debate club or cheerleader tryouts. It's their chance to shine anew.)

To this end my son and I have measured bean plants’ growth, frozen and heated fruit flies and subjected miniature cars to extreme temperatures to see what colors absorb the most heat. This year we decided to go with behavioral science. I went to the bank and confounded the teller with a highly specific request for a wide array of coinage. She was especially perplexed by my professed need for dollar coins. I figured the coins would be less likely to blow away when we placed them on the sidewalk outside 7-11.

So we placed pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters, fifty cent pieces and dollars on a bank envelope inscribed with the words “Not Yours.” We then counted passersby with camera in hand. Each trial must have a minimum of 100 subjects who’d either pass up the found money or pick it up. I took pictures of the latter while Ian recorded the results.

Before I get to the actual findings I'd like to share some decidedly unscientific observations we made over a three hour stretch spent crouched in my wife's car. First of all, the vast majority of folks didn't even notice the money there in plain sight. They were too caught up with talking on cell phones or looking at lottery papers. Secondly, kids were far more likely to notice than adults. And the most joyous recipient was this guy who snagged a penny. Go figure. Lastly, those who did pick up the cash invariably rifled threw the envelope and then threw it on the ground in disgust when they found only paperclips inside.

Here's what we found: Of 17 people who noticed the money, 1 picked up the penny. Two picked up the nickel but nobody went for the dime. Four snagged the quarters but just two the fifty cent piece. Nobody went for the dollar coin. Yet, when we switched it to a dollar bill, traffic picked up. Six out of seventeen people grabbed it, all with shit-eating grins on their faces.

So we did show a correlation between denomination and the likelihood that someone would bend down and pick it up---albeit a tenuous one. One could easily postulate that the dime was too small to register in anyone's mind and that they were too unfamiliar with the 50 cent piece or dollar coin. Quick, whose likeness is on either one?

It's no leap to conclude that for all our faults and folly, people are basically honest. They saw the sign and took it at face value: this doesn't belong to me. Like Sally in A Charlie Brown Christmas, they just want their fair share. They just want what's coming to them. Now for those who believe in the inherent goodness of mankind, this is most encouraging. For a cynic like me, it's downright dumbfounding.

We couldn't afford to extend the experiment into higher denomination like $5, $10 or $20. But it would have been interesting to determine at which point greed overcomes that innate honesty. What do you think?

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Travelling swallowing Dramamine

by ezy at 02:01 PM on February 02, 2004

Have any of you guys just jumped in your ride one day, pointed it in a general direction, and drove without worrying about a destination or consequences? This is a story about that kind of freedom.

cont'd »

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we are like-minded individuals, sharing a common vision

by mg at 01:02 PM on February 02, 2004

If you watch the “Game” for the game, you were treated last night to one of the best Super Bowls in recent memory. Disregarding the made-for-TV ending (a field goal to win with only 4 seconds on the clock), there was never a moment where I found myself wishing I’d drunk enough to pass out before Aerosmith’s pre-game show (as I did during much of last year’s Tampa/Oakland abortion of a game).

Now, if you watch the “Game” for the commercials, it was disappointing as a four-plus hour erection. It is certainly a sign of the crap state of the economy that the Super Bowl commercials sucked more ass than that German cannibal. The commercials also had a not-to-subtle gay undertone – from NFL stars singing show tunes, to a quarterback fondling his center’s ass, to so many people discussing their penis’ that I actually had to tune over to the Queer Eye marathon (more than once), just to see some real men.

And, if you tuned in to the “Game” for the half-time show, what are you, insane? The half-time show is traditionally a cluster f., and this year was no exception. I’m not sure what marketing executive at Viacom figured that Janet Jackson, Nas, and Justin Timberlake satisfied the average football-watching, over-drinking, wife-beating demo, but lets hope that person noticed all the ads, because they should be looking for a new job.

What’s worse is that during the “performances” there were more lips flapping with nothing coming out than at a pre-pubescent game of spin the bottle. I hate lip-syncing with a passion. And even more annoyingly, none of the other networks counter-programmed. No Playboy edition of Fear Factor, not even the Simpson’s. I couldn’t even find an infomercial for Ron Popeil’s “Set it and forget.” So I actually had to watch these “super-stars” perform songs, that at best were more than a year past their prime, and at worst (Rhythm Nation?) were more than a decade old, and sounding it.

Now, as infuriating as the half-time show was, I’m glad I tuned in. I was able to witness something I never thought I’d see. An ironic table-turning suitable for an episode of the Twilight Zone. In an outrageous turn of events, a young boy molested a member of the Jackson family.

Justin Timberlake was the surprise guest of the show, and he came out to perform a song with Janet, Miss Jackson if you’re nasty (and I am). At the very end of the performance, he ripped off part of her bra. Now, I couldn’t quite believe what I saw, and though it nagged at the corners of my mind for the second half of the game, I, for the most part, put it out of my consciousness. I mean, they couldn’t really have shown Janet Jackson’s boob on TV, could they? No way.

Well, when the late local news came on, they had a story about all the concerned calls CBS got about the boob-slippage. “So, it really did happen,” I thought. Immediately I sprang to the Internet to see what I could find. And find I did. Here is Janet, sans her right boob cover. Here is a close up of Janet’s nipple. Here is the look of “surprise” on Janet and Justin’s faces.

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Food for Naught

by anna at 09:17 AM on February 01, 2004

Maybe you needed to know about this, maybe you didn’t. Nonetheless, you do now.

Who knew that such a cult of personality has come to surround the world’s “top eaters?” Guys like Godsmack and Paul “Totally Apauling” Lawrence, who rides into competitions on his signature cow tongue-mobile. These massive guys have flair to spare, but they’re running scared of one Sonya Thomas. Thomas is described as “competitive eating’s 2003 rookie of the year.” Her gastronomic feats include devouring 167 chicken wings, 65 eggs in just under seven minutes and 7 3/4 pounds of duck, turkey and chicken in twelve minutes. In the latter contest she bested “415 pound reigning champ Ed ‘Cookie’ Jarvis” by a razor-thin margin of a 1/4 pound. Bearing in mind, a 1/4 pound is the size of a hamburger at McDonald’s. Would you like fries with that? How about a handful of aspirin to save your life in the event of a heart attack?

This girl is an all-you-can-eat buffet owner’s worst nightmare. She weighs in at an almost anorexic 99 pounds. Ah but she’s anything but anorexic. Her secret for remaining so svelte despite her power-eating pastime consists of one huge midday meal and two grueling hours on the treadmill. (Forget Atkins.) Of competitive eating, she insists, “It’s not stupid. It’s the same as any sport. All sports are about mental and physical toughness.” I guess that helps explain where all that food goes once inside her lithe frame.

Thomas is Korean-American. I only mention this because there is this stereotype of Asians as stoic, mentally focused people who can shatter lumber with their bare hands. But of course, the vast majority of Asians would merely fracture their pinkies, just like anybody else. (Some might say we have raunchy comedienne Margaret Cho to thank for dispelling many of these silly notions about Asian-Americans.) Just as the vast majority would gag on their third or fourth hard-boiled egg or cow tongue morsel. Not this Thomas, who won a $17,000 car in the Wing Bowl. She defeated a 384 pound prison guard. That prize was atypical, however. Most of the time the top eater goes home with a grand or so, barely enough to cover expenses. The rest go home with a major case of the bloats. Gas-X!

So it’s not about money---at least not yet. Rather, it seems, competitive eaters and their loyal fans are just out to have a good ol’ time. The eaters are also engaging in what sounds like an extremely unhealthy practice. Look for our nanny-state government to get wind of it, appoint a commission to study it and then pass laws regulating the caloric content of competitive food. See: Extreme Fighting.

Lawmakers will call in experts to lament the “crisis” of obesity in America, particularly among our youth. Seems Americans eat bad food and lounge around playing video games or surfing the net. And I tend to agree. You do see a lot of overweight people around these days. One of them works at my office. At 32 she has diabetes, hypertension and some sort of kidney ailment. I saw her with her family, devouring mass quantities of food at the mall. Her husband and kids were all bulky and not in an NFL-lineman kind of way. It kind of amazes me that the offspring of obese parents don’t subsist on a steady diet of nothing like Calista Flockhart or Lara Flynn-Boyle. You’d think they’d see dad huffing and puffing after using his riding lawnmower and think, man, that’s not going to happen to me---in much the same way that many children of alcoholic parents eschew booze---especially when you consider the genetic predisposition angle.

Looks like the Super Bowl XXXCCI Pre-pre-pre-game Show Brought to You by Lexus is coming on. Pass those buffalo wings please. Oh wait, I don’t eat buffalo. I guess I’ll just gnaw on the celery sticks they serve on the side. Mmmm...celery.

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