Friday, September 30, 2005

Shalom, Nanoo Nanoo, and Have a Nice Trip!

By the time you read this, Renee will be in the Holy Land, and I'm not talking about the Barneys outlet sale, I'm talking the Big I, Israel, or "H to the Izzay," as members of the Lost Tribe--though not the ones on ABC--might say. She left last night on a tightly secured El Al flight to Tel Aviv, which she barely got on thanks to those fancy nail clippers.

Now many of you might be scratching your heads thinking, "Hey, wait, I thought they were trying to clear the Jews out of Israel these days, not bring more in." And you're not wrong. You're probably a militant Zionist, but you're not wrong. Well, it turns out that Renee, God love her, said, "to hell with politics, terrorists and all those who aren't quite sure how to wrap a head scarf properly, this girl needs her a vacation!" So off she went.

What does this mean for you, dear reader? Well, for the next 10 days-ish, it's likely to mean a lot more postings by this R half of the R&R equation. WAIT!!! Don't leave yet, muttering to yourself "well, now here's a blog I can skip till mid-October." See that's the super sneaky part. C'mon, you have to realize we Jewish girls are an especially wily bunch. So though I'll be providing more daily brain farts for the next while, you should keep checking back because Renee will be doing posts from the road when the mood strikes. She even bought herself a digital camera so she could provide you with photographic evidence of her vacation activities ("Here I am covered in Dead Sea mud!" and "Here I am running from an airborne rock!")

Frankly, this blog only promises to get more exciting. So keep coming back, have a falafel in honor of Renee and pray that she meets a nice Jewish boy packing heat while she's over there.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

20 Years of Spin

Last night I went to Spin magazine's 20th anniversary party at Webster Hall and wow, did it bring up a lot of memories. Sure, some might call them drug-induced flashbacks, but hey, that's rock'n'roll, baby.

Arguably I'm really the wrong person to be discussing rock'n'roll, since, as all my friends know, I have awful taste in music. I also couldn't spot a trend in music if it hit me over the head like the guitar that bashed Nirvana bassist Chris Novoselic when he rather imprudently threw it in the air during one concert. (And I only know this reference because I probably saw it in one of those 100 Most Dumb Ass Moments in Rock on VH1.) But, to give you the perfect example of this, and to relate my own place in Spin magazine history, I'll admit that when I was in college, I applied for a summer internship at the indie, though now institutional, rock title.

Now keep in mind, this was the early 90s, and I went to the interview in their grungy offices in a long flowy floral skirt and heels, just as the rise of the Seattle scene style was coming into fashion. The editor I met with asked me who I liked musically and I think I told him Sarah McLaughlin and Kate Bush. Barely concealing a smirk, he then asked me what I thought of the emerging grunge scene and I told him I thought it was crap and would have no impact whatsoever. And come on, truth be told, flannel is very unflattering. "Grunge will be a flash in the pan," I told him confidentally. Needless to say, I didn't get the job, and we're all better for it.

But at the celebration last night, they did have some very cool musicians play that even I could appreciate: Death Cab for Cutie and Public Enemy. Okay, I might not be the most ardent Public Enemy fan, but when they enouraged the audience to call back lyrics that included: Fuck George Bush! Fuck FEMA!, well, they had me at "fuck."

So happy birthday, Spin! Long may you prosper and keep people like me out of your editorial offices.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Memoir of My Daughter Neenee

Ithaca, September 28 --
Jane Kaplan, mother to the troubled goodie-goodie, Renée "Néenée" Kaplan, has a memoir coming out in January, Her Mother's Daughter. It apparently spells out the none-too-surprising series of trivial events that turned Néenée into the publicly non-descript figure she is today. Highlights: "Renée started in on the sugar when she was 6 years old. She was caught reading abridged Harlequins in the public library at age 9 and was kicked out of every school she attended for kissing the teacher's ass and ingratiating herself like a pliant do-gooder… She took an early stab at geekiness at 12, and successfully became a social outcast whose perpetual fear of getting her period made her a recluse. One Hannukah Eve, she guzzled Karo corn syrup until her tongue stuck to her teeth, then ran out into a field and started making snow angels." But this kind of says everything you need to know: "When she was 4 years old, her father, Steve, would dose her with calculus problems and draw red x's though all the wrong answers when it became evident she would never do well on the math part of the SAT." But Néenée has never been the type to need others to speak for her. Some choice quotes from a recent interview with The Chronicle of Higher Education: "I think if you don't get into Yale -- the minute it happens you're like, 'What the fuck am I gonna do with my life?' That's what's stopped me over the years … I'm the kind of girl you wanna ask for definitions of polysyllabic words, but then you don't want to tell your friends." (Page Six, Spin)

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

On Not Getting What You Don't Want

A good friend of mine, let's call her "Robin," recently told me a funny story about how she didn't get a job that she really didn't want in the first place. What made me laugh was that she said she found rejection at the hand of people she'd thought to be nincompoops utterly horrifying. Way worse than being passed over for a job she really did want, in fact. When she learned she hadn't gotten the job, "Robin" might have even said, "it feels like I just got my balls cut off by the retarded cashier at McDonalds.

What particularly galled my girl was that this was not a job she'd gone after, it came and offered itself to her. She then had to prepare herself mentally for imagining life at a workplace she didn't want to go to. And even though the pay was far less than she hoped for, she realized that she could put off the heart surgery she needed until the health plan kicked in a year later. The interview she felt went fairly smoothly but for her creeping sense of dread that the walls were closing in and that her heart might explode in her chest.

"Robin" then naturally assumed she'd hear back from these people immediately. When a few days had gone by and no "when can you start?" word had been received, she was a little irritated, but not surprised. Clearly they needed someone like her to get the place running properly. When two weeks had elapsed and there was still no contact, she was curious but by no means furious. She called the head of HR two and a half weeks later just to "check in," but was given the old human resources dodge: oh, yes, the person making the final hiring decision is traveling, but will get back to you just as soon as he can. Well, a month and a half later, Robin got a form letter thanking her for her interest, and saying though they had chosen someone else for the position, they would keep her resume on file. That's when "Robin" let loose a flurry of curse words that even made a hardened old potty-mouth like me blush crimson.

I think part of the reason I found her story so amusing was because it's something I know I can certainly relate to--hello Rejection from an editorship at Playgirl!--and I think it's one of those universal "holy shit, did this really just happen to me?!?" things that just sucks hard. Needless to say, that's why I'd love to hear anyone else's tales of mortification, so if you're so inclined, please share and spread the joy of your pain with our community of rejects.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Welcome to Bayou Grand Caillou

All these disaster images, pictures of torn roofs, crushed houses, flooded towns, hurtling winds, pelting rains, downed trees, stranded people, abandoned pets, beleaguered officials--could be disaster images from anywhere, so universal is the pain and shock of witnessing such devastation.

They are disaster images from home, of course. But a home we weren't really familiar with before. Bayou Grand Caillou, Sabine Pass, Chalmette, Vermillion Parish, Bay St. Louis, Lower Ninth Ward, St. Bernard, Orange County, Beaumont, Valdor, Pass Christian--all these places that sound so foreign, but couldn't be more American.

The voices, too, an eclectic mix of Brooklynese-sounding Louisiana twang and the long drawl of the Southereastern Texas accents, sound foreign, so intensely regional are the cadences and accents of the storm victims and county officials we've been hearing from.

That part of the country is Walmart and Applebee's country, just like ours. But it's also another part of the country, obscure, remote, local, unknown to the most of the rest of the United States until now. It's eerie and melancholy that we should be getting to know it only now, transformed, and possibly never the same again.

Playing "The Game"

In this week's New York Magazine, the outstanding sex columnists Em & Lo, discuss the evergreen subject of "players" in the Mating column. Thanks to Neil Strauss (the former NYT pop music writer who has also co-authored books with literary luminaries such as Marilyn Manson and Jenna Jameson) playas strolled back into the spotlight with the release of his book, The Game, a how to con women guide that this week was #10 on the NYT best seller list.

We won't waste time on The Game, per se, or bother hyperlinking to Neil because we don't want to and yes, we're just that petty--at least the Robin half of us is--but we do find Em & Lo's column really interesting. In it, the ladies essentially ask the question, "who's zooming who?," ie, aren't women by players by nature, too?

What they determine is that yes, we are. We really, really are. And I very much agree, but there is a distinction in the timing and rules of play that I think went undiscussed. Of course in a short piece there's no way they could have fit in all the nuances of the subject (clearly this is a story that could be book length...) but the final quote in their piece is from a woman who says, “[W]omen are the master manipulators. And we can get away with a lot more than men, because we’re not as obvious. Take a woman with a plan and a man with a plan and have them both follow through? The woman will always come out on top. Literally.”

My sense is that this isn't true. There's another woman who's quoted in the story who admits to being a player herself because she likes the thrill of the chase--this I buy--and this I might have even uttered myself. But, like the first girl quoted, do women always come out on top? I'm going to go with "no." Certainly not at the beginning of the game anyway because when you're "playing" there's no guarantee that you'll get to the end (if by end you mean relationship.) Sure, one person can always walk away and that's technically an end, but how does walking away put you on top?

I'm curious to hear what you, dear readers, think about this since its a subject I've already spent oodles of playing around with in my own head and years of my life batting around with others...

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Confessions... To Change Your Life

Know how sometimes you buy an object and within a week you think: "Good God! How did I ever live without this thing? My life is now entirely complete!" Yeah, well this happens to me a fair amount. Readers of this blog will recall my recent love affair with a certain new paper shredder for example.

I felt similarly when I purchased my Swiffer Wet Jet, aka, The Magic Mop, two years ago. Kids, let's just say it took my mopping to a whole nother level: A level in which I actually started mopping. Fan-freaking-tastic!

But why am I waxing poetic about an old mop, you ask? Well, because when I read the premise to fellow GCC'er Melanie Lynne Hauser's book, CONFESSIONS OF SUPERMOM, in which her main character loads her Swiffer Wet Jet with every household cleanser she owns, aims, and fires... and passes out, overcome by the fumes, I thought to myself, now here's a character I can relate to!

The character in question then gains super powers, which is another something I can relate to, though I can't tell you why... But instead of me saying anything more, look at some of these reviews:
"Like its title character, this debut novel has a secret's unexpectedly poignant and packs an emotional punch despite the cheery veneer... at the heart of this story is a narrative about a lonely, wronged woman who just wants to do right by her children and stand up to an uncontrollable world. Hauser slips in soliloquies on motherhood and womanhood that, though brief, are moving, showing us Birdie Lee's heart and in that, the wishes and dreams of super moms everywhere. " Publishers Weekly

“This silly but fun twist on the superhero tale comes packaged with a socially responsible message about consumerism, but it doesn’t get in the way of the high jinks.” Booklist

So in addition to purchasing a new object to change your life today, definitely pick up a copy of CONFESSIONS OF SUPERMOM. If not for you, then for a Swiffer Wet Jet Loving Mom near you.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005


Who knew the Turks were so much in favor of the boxer-brief?!

It must be so, since this summer, the city of Istanbul actually forbade men from swimming in their tighty-whities. (See the story in today's WaPo.) Apparently, it's been customary among the more prolo-Turks from Turkey's inner country to sunbathe and swim in their whities (which are actually more loosey, than tighty, and as such, um, a little esthetically challenging...picture grown men in Pampers tanning on the Bosporus). The more Euro Istanbulers found this grossly provincial and basically ordered them all into bathing suits. So while the male packages are now better contained, the contained men are furious: "It was more fun in don!"--Turkish for underpants--they're all saying.

Is there no place left where a man can swim in his XXL Jockeys? I vote that we turn Governor's Island into Tighty Whitey-stan, an independent republic of expat Turks and other brief-wearing sympathizers, where there is no shame or crime in romping in your undies.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Monday, September 19, 2005

Congratulations, You Over-Adulated Actors, You!

First, a personal note of congratulations and a big woooooo-hoooooo to three writer friends of mine who picked up Emmy awards last night for their outstandingly hilarious work on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Rob Kutner, Jason Reich, and JR Havlan, I salute you even if the NYT did call you "a mock tableau of the past -- the Whiffenpoofs, circa 1961." That wasn't nice and it wasn't true: none of these bespectacled white men went to Yale (Princeton and Cornell, yes. Yale, no.) Less nice still was that they shafted all three in this photo.

But aside from being thrilled for my friends, mainly what I felt last night was that queasy 'am I really watching this?' sensation that I often experience during award shows. It's a feeling of "are you kidding me? We're actually spending time honoring overpaid, overvalued ninnies who have NOTHING to say other than the words other people put in their mouths? We're really celebrating folks because they look good in clothing and are photogenic enough to glow under good lighting? That's bologna. That's bad repeating bologna."

I know I'm biased, but it seems to me that actors should take a back seat in these shows. They are truly only a tiny portion of what makes the programs or movies work. And they get an outrageously big slice of credit already. Sure, I know an awards show dedicated to honoring writers, prop masters, and sound guys would get ratings as high as a show about the paint-drying process, but come on, people. Should we really care what Doris Roberts has to say? Unless it's been written for her, the answer should be "no."

Friday, September 16, 2005

Ohhhhhhh Renee....

I don't wanna play all holier-than-thou, and I would never dreaaaaaaaaaaaam of implying any kind of I-told-you-so, but since the A-list actress in question is also my namesake, I do feel a kind of sisterly sense of entitlement to ask...WHAT THE HELL WERE YOU THINKING, IDIOT?

It's all over between Renée "No Eyes" Zellweger and Kenny "No Hair" Chesney, after just a few months of marriage. But of course they got married after just a few months of...acquaintanceship? Sex on the beach at Kenny's house in Caribbean? Frankly, if they didn't get married sooner, it's probably because the pre-nup wasn't ready. And one almost wishes it had taken a little longer, so that Renny and Kenny could maybe think through the options. Like how about you just be my boyfriend and I'll just be your girlfriend and we can "see how it goes," test out what it's like to "have a relationship." Maybe we could just "be together."

Why is it that celebrities can't, say, not get married?

Thursday, September 15, 2005

!Ask Robin & Renée!

We finally got a few letters in the old mailbag, which means it's time for our favorite recurring segment "!Ask Robin & Renée!"

Dear Robin & Renée,

As you and the rest of the world probably know, my hero, Britney Spears, and her adorable husband, Kevin Federline, gave birth to a baby boy yesterday! :) It was the happiest day of my life!!! :) My question to you is, what shall I send them to congratulate them on this most beautiful and blessed event? :)


A: Birth control.


Dear Robin & Renée,

Brit & K-Fed are parents!!! This is the biggest news EVER!!! Isn't this just the coolest???

The Editorial Staff of Us Weekly

A: Dear Slave Laborers,

Stockholm Syndrome got you down? Dudes, get a grip: this loin product will simply be the sum of its parts, meaning it won't know how to wear a baseball cap properly, it won't understand the concept of wearing an undershirt UNDER a SHIRT, and often it'll find itself scratching its head wondering, "how did I get here with so little natural talent?"

Now knock it off and get back to reporting on the important matters like whether Nick and Jessica are really getting separated, or whether that whole Johnny Knoxville thing was just a clever plot thought up by master planner Joe Simpson to create a publicity maelstrom... well, you get the point.


We got about 3,500 other letters about the excitement over the B/K spawn, but this was all we could handle answering for today. Simply put, we were exhausted by the coverage and couldn't stand thinking about it for one second more lest our heads explode.

But if you, dear reader, have any other questions concerning any other subject, please feel free to either post them to the comments section or email us directly at and we'll be happy to tackle your trauma with the perfect mixture of love and callous disregard.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Fairytale America

Every child dreams of living a fairytale life, and every once in a while some lucky, fairy-dusted children actually do. Like the eleven children in a small town in Ohio who--like Hansel and Gretel!--were discovered on Monday to be sleeping in cages. (See the brief in the NYT).

The cages are 40 inches high and 40 inches deep, and the children, ages 1 to 14 and all either adoptive or foster children, had no blankets or pillows, and the cages were rigged with alarms that sounded if opened. Doors to some of the cages were blocked with heavy furniture. This is so story-book Grimm might have to sue for plagiarism!

The witch in Hansel and Gretel had her reasons for lodging her charges in cages, of course, just like the parents here, Mr. and Mrs. Gravelle, do. They said the children aren't abused at all. It's just that some of them have autism, fetal alcocohol syndrome, and mental disorders, so they need to sleep in cages for their own protection. Frankly, it would be a crime to let them sleep, say, in a bed, or to not, say, lock them up--no child, especially not a mentally ill or autistic child, needs his freedom at night.

Mrs. Gravelle's mother, who must have been spending time with Barbara Bush in the Astrodome observing how much better off the underprivileged evacuees are, is angry that people don't see how good her daughter's kids have it! "This year they have played and had fun and laughed like no other children have, which they have never been able to do," she said.

Maybe after this fairlytale the kids can pop by the Neverneverland Ranch for a visit. No cages there, though, just big beds and a friendly bedmate.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Do Not Call. DO NOT CALL. Do Not Call.

Today is an election day here in New York and if I get one more freaking recorded message from one more stupid person I don't know urging me to vote for another yahoo I don't know, I'm not going to vote at all. Hey, you stupid politicians, I'm on the "Do Not Call" list--you know, that list of people who find unsolicited solicitations REALLY FUCKING ANNOYING. The Do NOT Call list, you irritating morons. You know, the list that you ever-so-cleverly exempted yourselves from?

Well, stupid politicians, this ANGRY voter who has received so many calls she now has a big phone zit on her chin, she's mad as hell and she's NOT GOING TO VOTE FOR YOU.

Monday, September 12, 2005

His Epidermis Is Showing!

Oh, Andre! Though I'm certain you're feeling worse about your heartbreaking loss in yesterday's U.S. Open than I am, I must say I really was rooting for you to win. Was it because I wanted you to prove that one's best days are not behind you when you reach your mid-30s? Um yeah, partially. But I was also cheering you to victory (though evidently not hard enough) for a much more sporting reason: I dig your dome, baby.

The way the lights at Flushing Meadow reflected off your shiny mopless-top, well, that was hot. Though not every man can carry off the baldness thang, most genuinely do look substantially better when they go bold and go bald. Whether it's that old chestnut about bald men having more testosterone that gets me, or whether it's that crush on Kojack that never quite healed, there's just something about that "King and I" look that I find very refreshing. (Hello, world champion surfer, Kelly Slater!)

So though we don't usually spend much time here discussing what goes on in a man's head (since those discussions generally go something like this: Q: "Why do they have to be so stupid? A: Because they have rocks for brains, Next subject..."), I just wanted to salute Mr. Agassi for his very conscious decision to go lock-less, and to encourage any dudes who might be reading this to show us your pates. It probably won't help you win the U.S. Open, but it just might help you win over the ladies.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Je Regrette

Bush, like Rumsfeld, like Cheney, will go to his grave (or in the case of Cheney who already walks and talks like a living-dead automaton, back to the lab for a new battery) regretting nothing. Or, rather, he will go out in a huff of petulant insistence that he regrets nothing. There is no such thing as a gaffe or a miscalculation in their world, let alone a gross error in judgment that led to the death of over a thousand Americans, thousands more Iraqis, and a brutal quagmire that's costing us billions. The triumvirate admits to nothing, regrets nothing, apologizes for nothing.

Colin Powell does. He admitted in an interview with Barbara Walters airing tonight that he considers his speech before the United Nations, in which he held up a test tube and described in detail Iraqi weapons of mass destruction that did not exist, a permanent blot on his record. Bravo for Colin, living proof that it doesn't kill a man to say he's sorry.

But it's a shame that although he was representing the United States before the Unites Nations--and the world--he does not actually speak for the United States today. He might speak for the majority of Americans who now think the war was a huge mistake, but sadly he does not speak for the Americans who took us to war, who continue to deny the realities of a relentless insurgency and a failing occupation. He doesn't speak for the three blind mice in Washington who evidently continue to hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil. They just are evil.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Wives and Sisters--and Murders

Chilling, real and totally gripping, are a few of the words that describe Natalie Collins' second novel WIVES AND SISTERS. Natalie is a fellow GCC author, and WIVES AND SISTERS is set in the country where Nathalie herself comes from--Mormon country--and it gets at all the complex questions about culture and religion that feed our fascination with the Mormon community.

WIVES AND SISTERS opens with a look back at the sudden disappearance of Allison Jensen's best friend, who was kidnapped while playing in the woods near home. One moment her friend was beside her; then she was gone. When no leads emerged, she was given up for dead. Now, years later, Allison still gets no answers from the Mormon community in which she lives, so she's determined to find them herself. On the surface, the book is a thriller--and a white-knuckle thriller at that--but it gets at so much more than that, as Natalie takes us on an intense insider's tour of the dark reaches of a mysterious, closed-off culture.

Natalie is an author and journalist with over 20 years of writing experience. She was also an editor for the 2001 and 2002 Sundance Film Festivals. A lifelong resident of Utah, raised a member of the Mormon Church, she lives there with her husband and two daughters.

The praise so far is pretty much unmitigated--so don't blame us if you can't put the book down:

It's a white-knuckles ride all the way. Expert depiction of a young woman's struggle with the oppressive "family values" of one kind of fundamentalism. Newcomer Collins is a talent to watch." --Kirkus Reviews

"Startling and compelling--I could not stop turning the pages. Natalie Collins weaves an absolutely riveting tale." --Tess Gerritsen, New York Times bestselling author of The Sinner

"A dark, powerful debut novel. Natalie Collins pulls no emotional punches crafting this searing tale of one woman's search for justice." --Lisa Gardner, New York Times bestselling author of The Killing Hour

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Rest In Peace, Gilligan!

More sad news to report: Bob Denver--Gilligan--the star of the 70s sitcom, "Alice," and the man who filled thousands of hours of my youth in his lovingly bumbleheaded quest not to get off an island, has died.

Oh, Gilligan, today I tip my white sailor's cap to you to thank you for the memories. I can still remember sitting right back, and hearing a tale, a tale of a fateful trip... you know the one, the one that was supposed to be a three hour tour. A three hour tour! Instead, Gilligan, that trip of yours lasted so long, the muscles of my legs atrophied as I sat immobile and googly-eyed in front of the small Epstein family television set, awaiting your rescue.

You know, when the Harlem Globetrotters came, I felt sure, that, that was going to be the day you and the other castaways--the Skipper (brave and sure), The Millionaire and his wife, the Movie Star... and the rest--would return to the civilized world. But it was not to be. They left you stranded on that island with a witch doctor, with cannibals and a young Jeff Probst, who was the real threat, already lurking in the brush, waiting to kill your sitcom with the advent of "reality" TV.

But today is about remembering you as a cultural icon, and Bob Denver, you will be missed. Thankfully, though, I'll be able to see you on reruns in perpetuity. Rest in peace, little buddy, rest in peace.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Scratch 'n' Sue

A recent posting on an obscure but very delicious gossip site,, starts off with the best lede that journalism has, possibly, ever seen: "Although it may seem so, everything is not perfect for Paris Hilton and her fiancée [sic], Paris Latsis..." Awww. And you'll never guess why: Paris--the girl--is being sued by Paris--the boy's--ex-girlfriend. Zeta Graff, the ex of Paris I Can't Believe He's Hetero Latsis, claims the Hilton "camp" is planting all sorts of nasties about her in the press. So she's suing for $10 mill.

But it gets even more genius than that. Zeta Graff--yes, Graff like the diamonds--was once married to a Graff scion (does marriage last anywhere anymore?). Aside from the fact that Zeta probably already has baubles and dollars up the wazoo, Paris I Can't Believe She Can Cross the Street Alone She's So Stupid Hilton was wearing a $4 million Graff necklace the night of a Zeta-Paris melee, and Paris claims that Zeta tried to rip it off. The rich are so silly--can't they just be happy with their own Graff? Why do they always gotta take other people's Graff?

The best part is Paris Hilton's alleged rejoinder to Zeta, the kind of sophisticated reply that all of us should learn to toss off to our frenemies with the same poise: “You’re a [bleep]ing [bleep]. I’m going to destroy you.”

Monday, September 05, 2005

The Mongolian Cow Sour Yogurt Super Girl Contest

Who would have thought eight little words could bring such joy to 400 million people? (Actually, make that 400 million and one, as I find myself pretty tickled by them, too.) But what is The Mongolian Cow Sour Yogurt Super Girl Contest, you ask?

Though I'd like to tell you it's a battle royale among Superheroines, involving daredevil antics, invisible planes, lassoes of Truth and big cuff bracelets, really it's just the Chinese version of American Idol. (The show is sponsored by Mongolian Cow Sour Yogurt.) Still, the competition has taken China by storm. According the NYT, the number of people who tuned in to watch Li Yuchun, a student from the Sichuan province, become their very own Kelly Clarkson "eclipsed the population of North America." (And, ironically enough, like our own Kelly, apparently Li can't really sing, either.)

But what's more, Li is no traditional pageant winner-type. Described as "boyish" or "androgynous" by Chinese commentators--and oh-so-kindly referred to as "tall and gangly, with a thatch of frizzy hair" by the New York Times--she's possibly even, GASP, a lesbian.

It seems that the impact of the "Super Girl" show is rippling out to the broader Chinese culture, causing at least a few of those 400 million to question the offerings of China's Central Television, an arm of the Communist government's propaganda machine. And once that starts happening, Wang Yao, bar the door!

So even if this show's success means China will start producing similar dross to what we see on our networks here, I have to admit, I think that's a great leap forward.

Friday, September 02, 2005

What Can Be Said?

Sadly those with the least lost the most, and if they didn't think the government cared about them before, well, now they know for sure. I can't begin to fathom the devastation the victims of Katrina have experienced, I can only pray things get better for them. And I can send money. You can, too, at these charities that are accepting donations for Hurricane relief:
The Red Cross
Habitat For Humanity
Charity Navigator

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Party Like Sex Is Legal

It's a relief to me to know that somewhere in the world--and certainly not in this craven hell-hole of immorality that is New York--family values survive. Nebraska, Kansas. Swaziland.

It appears there was a little incident at the palace this week, when the King of Swaziland's daughter was busted partying with the people. She is 17 years old, and was celebrating the end of her father's ban on sex for girls under age 18. There was drinking and dancing and girld, girls, girls at the party, including the reigning Miss Swaziland. Well, the princess was busted by her father's aide--as we all were in our day--and the good man took it upon himself to, ah, beat her. Gave her a whuppin' like she deserved for evincing such dee-lec-tation for the sin. (See the brief in the NYT.)

But apparently the really offensive part of her behavior is that she was partying, not only with the people, but on the very eve of Swaziland's most important holiday: the reed dance, in which tens of thousands of bare-breasted maidens dance before the king in a stadium. The king, who, by the by, recently took a 14-year-old as his 9th wife. He did reprimand himself for violating his own law and paid a fine of one cow.

I don't doubt the princess has learned her lesson, and that in the future she'll only bare her breasts in a stadium. For her father.

Another Reason Why I Hate Hollywood

The Pitch: A Series About Wacky Terrorists. This article tops the Arts section in today's NYTimes. Here are some of my favorite quotes from the article and the brain trust at work in LaLaLand:

"'The Cell' as this exercise in envelope-pushing is titled, has been making its way through Hollywood for more than a year, cracking up development executives and their assistants."

"The script's writers, meanwhile, have landed three assignments thanks to 'The Cell.'"

"I'm sure there would be a lot of people that said you can't do this, but that's what they told me about 'Will and Grace.'" -- Warren Littlefield, former NBC Entertainment President

You hear that, gays? You've blazed a trail for terrorists! If desert camo is the new black, terrorists are the new you!

Look, in entertainment, is it important to push boundaries? No doubt about it. "Hogan's Heroes" did it well, and making hay about Nazi Germany definitely offers a good counterpoint to the 'how can you joke about something like this, you sick fuck?' argument that was my initial response. But here's the difference with this show: the heroes in "The Cell" are the terrorists, not the allied forces.

Now I haven't read the script and no doubt most of the jokes come at the terrorists' expense, but what I find almost as offensive as the premise is the idea that the entertainment community is patting itself on the back for thinking themselves so "edgy" (one of their fav. words) and progressive that they find this stupid concept "hot."

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