Friday, March 31, 2006

Naomi Still Searching For Her Happy Place

Apparently America’s Next Scariest Past-Her-Prime Model didn’t hug it out sufficiently on last month’s very special “Tyra” show, and still harbors some rage issues. As has been widely reported, Naomi Campbell went all Russell Crowe on (one of) her housekeepers, throwing a Swarvoski-crystal encrusted (does that just mean bedazzled?) Blackberry at the 42-year-old woman’s head. And, as those who have closely followed the Campbell Chronicles, this is hardly her first offense.

Now, two things on this. First, of course, best wishes on a full recovery to the housekeeper. And when you do recover, sue! Sue like the wind! I mean, if you work for Naomi Campbell, at some point you just know you’re taking one to the head. Be it a Jimmy Choo, a Berkin or the notorious Blackberry, you will get nailed eventually. Make peace with that, and plan accordingly. Try to stay alert and absorb the blow in the most defensive-manner possible. Frankly, it isn’t Schwarzenegger taking aim at you. How much velocity could a woman who has made a living flaunting pipe cleaners for arms really muster? (Of course, this analysis doesn’t account for telecommunication device-hurling performance enhancers such as coke, percocet or red bull). Knowing this up front, you will probably sustain only a minor flesh wound but also a major pay day.

Second, I have a theory. It’s the curse of “Freedom.” Yes, yes, you remember. The George Michael video that put these uber-skanks on the map. As any cultural critic worth his or her salt will tell you, George’s little Freedom-fest, featuring the reigning runway divas of 1990, launched these demonic vamps into the stratosphere of cultural consciousness. (And for that, he owes a debt to society that can never be fully repaid.) But, alas, Freedom has a price. Let’s review the facts:

George Michael – arrested in a London restroom cruising an undercover cop.
Christy Turlington – has promoted several yoga cults in her book “Living Yoga” that allegedly have a history of sexual abuse. (Yoga cults, Christy? What, scientology isn’t good enough for you?)
Linda Evangelista - unknown, but surely involved in some form of human trafficking.
Naomi – see above (and duck and cover).

So watch your back, Cindy. It’s coming. And it won’t be pretty.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Bachelor's in Fertility

I've always known that Princeton produced genius, but I had no idea it also produced miracles.

In case you missed it, there's been some talk in recent years about women's fertility, and about all the potentially dire things that can happen to a woman's womb if she happens to not have made babies by the tim she's 26. Basically, if you wait, you're screwed, seems to be the uninspiring take-away message from all the discussion of late. Oh, and the longer you wait, the more screwed you get. So each additional year of waiting--of choosing to focus on your career, of failing to meet the right man, of frittering away your fertility on the vanities of single life--dooms you more certainly to a life of regretting your decision to put off getting knocked up.

But now there's the Princeton Miracle! I direct you to the class notes in the March 27 issue of the Princeton Alumni Weekly. If you turn to the notes for the class of 1973--whose average age is probably about 55--you'll notice this picture of a woman beaming broadly as she cradles two small infants. According to the caption, this is Jan Hill, proud mother of newborns Anna and Sophia. But Jan is not the much younger wife of a member of the class of '73.

Jan is class of '73. (In fact Jan's husband is older--class of '71). Jan is the 55-year-old new mother of two little girls.

I must say that it's a relief to know that along with a Bachelor's in History and a certificate in European Cultural Studies, I also got a guarantee of eternal fertility with my Princeton degree. Now that's what I paid for.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

If I Were In Charge of the World

How can you blame him? Oh, I don't mean about deceiving the American people about the "evidence" of WMD, taking a short-handed, ill-equipped army to war, failing to create an exit strategy in the face of an obvious quagmire. I don't mean how can you blame him for the incompetence he showed in dealing with the disaster that was Hurricane Katrina. I'm not referring to the issue of domestic spying, his piss poor record on the environment or the ginormous budget deficit that he's created as his legacy. I mean how can you blame Dubya for replacing Andrew Card, his chief of staff, with long time crony, yes man and sycophant-extraordinaire, Joshua Bolten?

Why if I were in charge of the world, I'd surround myself with people who'd smile at me and tell me what a great job I was doing even if I were leading the country off a cliff, too. Who wants Mr. Grumpypants Realitycheck coming to your desk first thing in the morning to tell you that you've done fucked up something else? Why-oh-why would you willingly install a person who you know's going to give you bad news? So what if that person has a firmer grip on the truth, on public sentiment on, say, the news? Fuck that shit. I like smiley faces! I like to see heads nodding in agreement. Take a memo, boys: I like it when people rub their noses up my butt.

If I were in charge of the world, I'd make Renee my minister of snack foods, and as such, I'd also put her in charge of all international relations. I mean it's not like the woman isn't qualified. She knows how to curse in multiple languages, which is important. Jay would become chief of bottle washing, meaning he'd handle domestic issues. Many years on the New York Water Polo team certainly give him at least as much cred as, say, someone who worked at the Arabian Horsey Association.

If I were in charge of the world, I'd probably run it just like Georgey. I'd hire all my friends and relatives to do jobs they'd not necessarily be good at, but come on, it would at least keep them off the streets. Because unemployment and poverty is for uneducated poor people. And seriously, who cares about them?

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Happy Birthday, Princess!

Just wanted to wish our little Jay bear a very happy 43rd birthday! You've brightened our blog with your snark, your sarcasm and your "humor" in the cutest way, and we didn't want to let the day pass without acknowledging you. So close your eyes, make a big wish (why thank you, I'm flattered you feel that way about me!), and have yourself a very merry beeday.

And don't forget, I want that copy for your Friday posting on my desk by 9:00 am tomorrow morning pronto!

Friday, March 24, 2006

The Family That RVs Together...

It was reported this week that a family was stuck in a snow-trapped RV for 17 days before being rescued. Getting by on a diet of melted snow and dehydrated food, the family of six sang songs, prayed, and watched TV until finally found by some park rangers. As noted in the picture, everyone emerged unscathed and, more improbably, smiling.

Now I’m happy for the Stivers. And no doubt they were elated after being rescued. But I’m going to have to call bullshit on this one. Seventeen days stuck in an RV with your family and you walk out smiling? Uh, death first, anyone? I mean, how many of us get the shakes after just two days at home for Thanksgiving, excusing ourselves repeatedly from dinner to make frantic suicide hotline-esque phone calls to friends while smoking and pacing in the driveway? Gentle readers, indulge me in this experiment. Close your eyes and imagine yourself in a 8x15 tin room with wall to wall carpeting. Your mother is standing over you, running her fingers through your hair, and saying – on loop – “honey, if you just got a decent haircut maybe you wouldn’t still be single and so lonely.” How long would you last? Or her, for that matter. And I’m not sure if having a TV would have helped much. I frankly would have kneecapped my sister by nightfall if she didn’t cough up the remote willingly.

So cheers to the Stivers. God bless your good fortune. Because if it was my family stuck in that RV, I’m not so sure everyone’s walking out.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Not To Dwell

Not to dwell on this prom thing, because after all I'm 32 years old and so out of touch with high school culture that the other day I greeted a 15-year-old high schooler--and she is the first live one I've had a conversation with in about 15 years--with a friendly "Hey Yo!" and she laughed and say I was too old to say that. Bitch.

But it turns out that what I thought was a shallow American obsession with a bizarre coupling ritual in which teenagers get dressed up to look like extras on Dynasty and, frequently, behave accordingly, is actually not just an American obsession.

It turns out that the prom tradition is also thriving in...Skopje, Macedonia. For those of you not intimately familiar with the many countries that spun off from the former Yugoslavia (but who isn't really?), Macedonia is a small country in Southeastern Europe that borders Greece and Montenegro. And while Montenegro may sound like a cocktail made with some sweet brown liqueur and a couple shots of vodka and a dash of cream, well, it's actually a country. The capital of Macedonia is Skopje (scope-ya), which looks and feels as grey and post-communist as its name sounds. The city is polluted, the architecture isn't so much architecture as decaying 1970s leftovers of Tito's lack of city planning, and the dietary staples are grilled animal and feta cheese and a deliciously oily red pepper spread. But the people are very merry. And the young people worship prom.

Two of these lovely young people, 17-year-old high school seniors Sanya and Lazar, were telling me that prom is a massive blow-out night. The girls spend months shopping for dresses, the boys do dark shirts and dark ties, and the catered affairs take place in the gand ballrooms of such high-end venues as Skopje's downtown Holiday Inn, and the Alexander Palace Hotel. Not sure where the girls get the dresses cuz I did take a spin through the Skopje mall and the dresses seemed more suitable for, say, Ukrainian prostitutes, but that's just my taste.

And the Alexander and Holiday Inn hotels are quite grand compared to the humble hostel where I slept and took my meals of pasta (they called the red sauce "ketchup" and they weren't really being metaphorical) and mashed potatoes (one part powder, one part vegetable shortening), the modest Hotel Tasino Cesmice (it means "little pipe" in Macedonian, but the only pipe I saw was the big industrial chimney pipe right next door that seemed to be smoking black stuff every morning).

And not only are they big into the prom in Skopje, they even have a whole series of pre-prom parties. That's right, for a whole month before the big night, in all the hot discoteques and happening bars of the city, each senior class gets together for a whole series of weekly parties called pre-proms. Basically, given the 10,000-proof Rakia, the local Macedonian firewater, not unlike brandy but with a little more bang for your dinar, if you see what I mean, these kids are wasted for a month. Which is smart, because that way they won't drink and dance on the real big night.

In brief, if they'd had Araki and Ukrainian prostitute dresses in Ithaca, New York, in 1990, I'm thinking that prom might have been a better time instead of an extended attempt to sneak booze into the Ramada Inn before trying to sneak booze into the after-party at the Econolodge.

Monday, March 20, 2006

And They Lived Happily Ever After

Okay, it's true, we do joke about the mail that we receive here at Chat with R&R, and the skeptical reader might occasionally doubt the authenticity of some of the letters we print in our !Ask Robin & Renee! feature. For instance some might call bullshit on a certain missive we said was sent last week by that director guy, Steven Spielberg. (Though clearly you people are also the ones who deny the existence of the Tooth Fairy, fat free muffins and an affordable Manhattan apartment, you cynical bastards.) But when we did finally get around to checking our hotmail account the other day, we were floored, flabbergasted and momentarily terrified to find a REAL letter from a REAL person. (Yes, you may count us among the cynical bastards to which we refer.)

However, this letter did not just come from any person looking to increase the size of our genitalia. No. This letter came from two folks who had been featured in a prior posting on the site. Instead of summarizing, we'll reprint the letter for you (in its entirely real entirety.) But before you read the couple's response, you should probably re-familiarize yourself with the post in which they were mentioned (and that's why you'll note our initial fear of reprisal...) So here's the abridged original entry followed by the amazing response of our new best friends:
JULY 17, 2005
KGB tonight
...The former editor and writer for the New York Observer and I will be doing a reading at the much ballyhooed bar, KGB at 7 pm. For those of you thinking, "much as I love Renee and Robin--and I do, I so do--I've already seen them read before," I will tell you that not only are we reading new stuff, the chances of you meeting your soul mate at this event are tremendous! What do I mean? Well, other serious readers of the Styles wedding page will probably know of what I speak, but for those of you who aren't similarly addicted, I point your attention to p. 12 of the NYT Sunday Styles page. Because there you will learn of the nuptials of Mariah Malone and David Calarco, a cute couple who, it is noted in the final sentence of their blurb (the sentence usually reserved for the shameful admission that the groom's former marriage ended in divorce, as did the bride's previous three marriages) "met in 1998 while following Phish, the rock band, around Europe." So you've got to say hey, if these crazy kids could find one another at a Phish concert where they were undoubtedly stoned out of their fucking gourds, I don't think it's a stretch to assume you have a chance of meeting your intended in a small bar in the East Village tonight.

From : Mariah Calarco
Sent : Friday, March 17, 2006 3:34 AM
To :
Subject : posting on your blog on 7-17-05!!!!!

Hello Ladies,
So, my husband randomly decides to Google us the other day to see if anything comes up. I think he was trying to see if our wedding website was still working. Well, it wasn't, but what he found was a million times better...The entry on your site dated July 17, 2005 had us rolling on the ground in laughter for a good half hour. Why? Because we are David Calarco & Mariah Malone (now Calarco) the couple to whom you refered in the style section of the NY Times. Boy were we surprised to read that!! You have a great sense of humor in your writing, and I just wanted to let you know how damned funny we thought that was! I immediately forwarded it to all of my friends and family because, hell, that is the closest to fame I have ever come!! Thanks for that!! I have to say I am quite curious about the reading you did at the event you were promoting that night. Anyway, just wanted to give you a shout out for giving us that pee-in-our-pants-fuckin'-funny moment- it was a lot of fun.
-Mariah Calarco

I ask you, who needs Spielberg when you've got this?

Friday, March 17, 2006

I Dream of Ninja

Like most other kids, when I was asked what I wanted be when I grew up I never hesitated with my answer. Ninja. (Much like Robin and Renee, I’m sure.) And, bless their hearts, my parents inexplicably supported this dream. Otherwise normal and caring people, they approved of their 11 year-old son’s obsession with throwing stars (shurikens, for those in the know), a blow gun, grappling hook, hand and foot claws (to climb the side of the house), tabi socks (the ones with the split toe) and nunchucks (foam, since one tends to smack oneself in the face – a lot - while practicing). An 11-year old’s nominee for parents of the year? Yes. Competent caregivers in the eyes of the law? No. Honestly, one trip to the house from Child Protective Services and I would have been shipped off to some Mormon family in Utah.

Ultimately, though, the ninja career didn’t pan out, and I, like most abortive ninjas, went to law school. No longer a faithful servant to the ancient art of assassination, I now get my fix through the woefully underappreciated genre of ninja movies. (Frankly, I believe the ninja movie should have its own Academy Awards category, although, I’m quite certain that Dame Judy Dench would, somehow, still manage to snag a nomination each year). Hence, for the uninitiated, I’d like to profile two of the all-time greatest. Enjoy with someone you love.

“American Ninja” – For those who prefer their ninjas to have a vaguely surfer quality, this is the movie for you. Starring Michael Dudikoff, it tells the gripping tale of Joe Armstrong, a young felon turned soldier who singlehandedly fights off a small army of ninjas who have kidnapped the general’s daughter. I’d explain more but there isn’t much point. The draw here is simply Dudikoff. Picture James Dean with crazy martial arts skills and you’ve pretty much got it. (For those needing more Dudikoff, I highly recommend “American Ninja 2: The Confrontation” which features a mad scientist who engineers an army of mutant ninja clones).

“Ninja III: The Domination” – I would describe this movie for you, but IMDB has put it better than I ever could: “The body of a sexy aerobics instructor is invaded by the evil spirit of a dying ninja. At first, changes in her behavior is limited to having strange interactions with an arcade game, doing sexy things with V8 juice, and being attracted to an unusually hairy police officer. But soon enough, she's systematically killing, ninja-style, the officers responsible for the ninja's death, and can only be stopped by another ninja!” Seriously, if I was dying and was granted one wish through the Make a Wish foundation, it would be to make this pitch to a movie studio. And the movie completely delivers. It is so eighties-esque that it almost seems as if Joan Collins is donning the black mask and just knocked Linda Evans silly with a pair of nunchuks.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

!Ask Robin & Renée!

To say the mailbag overfloweth here at Chat with R&R would be a complete understatement (in a vastly overstated kind of way). So it's high time we do some spring cleaning and take a look at what we've got in the box (in a decidedly non-ESTy way). That's right, faithful reader, it's time for !Ask Robin & Renée!

Dear Robin & Renée,

Lately I find myself getting ticked off at the most insignificant things. The random change in weather patterns, the broohahas over various "fake" writers, the photos of men in their underpants on the front page of the New York Times. What gives? Why I am so angry all the time?

Sincerely Pissed
Oh Piss,

We feel you, we do! Matter of fact, we, too, have found our equanimity in a twist over some of life's smaller matters: the unstoppably precocious brothers Foer for one. (It's like yeah, thanks, we get it, you boys are bright! A best selling novelist, the editor-in-chief of a well-respected magazine, the winner of the national memory contest, Dahyenu! Leave a little naches for some other jewish parents, okay?) We were also angered to distraction yesterday by the guy sharing the mat with us at the gym who, despite the fact that there wasn't enough room, was so into his music that he started shaking his ass and head all around, splattering us with the sweat off his hair. We were, in fact, so incensed by this we pushed him to the ground, gave him a towel-whipping then shouted, "Hey Olivia Newton-John, you're not in Xanadu anymore!" And we just can not believe--we CAN NOT believe--that South Dakota has decided to go communist.

Then we realized something: it's March Madness time! It's that crazy period where everything stops so that people can celebrate the recruiting practices of not always honorable college basketball coaches. Your hysteria fits into this larger context of national madness, Pissy. So don't fret, if you're anything like us, you'll no doubt be returned to your state of slacker apathy soon enough. But in the meantime we suggest you do something constructive with all that anger, say, learn a foreign language, do some spin art, kick a hipster. Ultimately it's all about making the world a better place.

Truly, madly, deeply
Dear R&R

I've started reading Neil Strauss's book, The Game, a bible-shaped tome detailing the writer's journey to becoming a pick up artist. I'm embarrassed to admit this, but I kind of like it. Does this make me an asshole?

Seriously, I love you,

Dear Chumpy,

While we're tempted to answer with a smug "yuh-huh," we won't. Since we're familiar with the work of Mr. Strauss, and we're actually familiar with Mr. Strauss himself--or we were in his pre-makeover New York days--we'll just say we always thought he was a good writer but we also realized in many ways he's always been a jerk and a liar. We feel the same way about The Game. We find it entertaining for sure, but we caution that believing in his "transformation" or anything he says or writes might take you more into JT LeRoy territory than that of your beloved Cassanova.

Not yours, not his and definitely not Mystery's,

Dear R&R,

When are they going to make the movie of SHAKING HER ASSETS? Can't wait!

Steven Spielberg

Thanks for your interest but we've decided we don't want to let Hollywood have it right now. We're artists and we can't be bought*.

*unless we also get points on the back end.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Girls For Sale!

Dear NBC Universal,

Congratulations you big media company, you! A little bird just told me you recently purchased my bestest blogority sister, iVillage, for $600 million.

iVillage, the pink and puffy site dedicated to women! Amazing. Who knew? Now far be it from me to demean another girl trying to make good, but seriously NBC Universal, did you really I dunno, look at the site before you pulled out the credit card? Or did you just say, "what the heck, my husband isn't looking?" and buy it with the loose change at the bottom of your handbag?

See as soon as I heard of your purchase, I immediately did a little research to check out the competition (yes, we women do that, ugly but true -- though I'm guessing that's not something you're going to read about on iVill.) Sure, iVillage had 13.4 million unique visitors from the United States in February 2006 compared to SHAKING's 11 (3 of whom just might have been me, Renee and Jay), but the site's "you go, girl" content will no doubt set poor dead Betty Friedan spinning in her grave. (Not that anyone really cares about Poor Dead Betty, even though I think that would make for a pretty good band name.) Under the iVillage Banner: GET SMART! the site offers classes on "scrapbooking, photography, computers and more!" Just curious, what courses would be offered under the banner GET DUMB? One of the fun exercises you can do is examine photos of Renee Zellweger then "track the Oscar winner's fluctuating size from pin-thin to va-va-voluptuous. You decide which weight looks best!" Va-va-the-editor-who-wrote-that-should-be-force-fed-till-she-explodes.

Another feature on the site is a show with Dr. Bob Berkowitz that goes inside the male mind. I know what you're thinking, how can they do 22 minutes on this? Well, invariably what Dr. Bob does is he sets out a question like, "is sex on the first date a bad idea?" then he gets a few men on the street to give their opinions, then he goes back to the studio where a woman breaks it down and makes sense of the information. That's right, the girl is giving the final analysis of what's going on in a dude's mind. One of the burning questions answered was: Can he handle your success? If I were the girl expert, I would answer that question in 1 word: Ha!

Anyhoo, NBC Universal, it's not that I'm trying to give you buyer's remorse here. I'm totally happy that you bought the equivalent of Good Housekeeping/I can't believe this is my life, how did I become such a boring cliche? online. I'm just saying that maybe now that you have the woman who you consider the appropriate bride, maybe you'd like to consider dropping a few sheckles on slutty sister, SHAKING. I think I speak for my co-writers when I say we here at Chat with R&R would be more than happy to show you a good time. We're a bargain at half the price! Just leave the money on the night stand. I know you know where...

Much love,

Friday, March 10, 2006

Seven Strangers, Picked To Self-Destruct....

As familiar as any rite of spring, seven strangers recently welcomed themselves back into our lives. That’s right, MTV has unleashed yet another season of The Real World and this time the Paris Hilton clones and A&F doppelgangers have headed south to America’s armpit, Key West. The formula at this point has, of course, become numbingly familiar. Plop seven emotionally stunted navel gazers into a garishly outfitted McMansion, throw enough booze and food money at them to keep them alive for several weeks and roll cameras. True to form, the hijinks have already begun in a perversely misguided campaign to help the obviously anorexic roommate, one that will undoubtedly end up in some bizarre Stockholm Syndrome-esque living arrangement.

Sadly, this isn’t how the Real World series started out. If you recall, the first season boldly picked out seven fairly independent, career-oriented individuals who varied more demographically than socially. While undoubtedly most of them saw the show as a launching pad in their own music/art/writing career, at least they had a direction in life prior to moving into the infamous loft. Now, the show is the direction and goal itself. MTV stopped casting autonomous young people and opted instead for abs, blond streaks and perma-tans. However, since it is difficult to fill up an entire season on just these qualities alone (and Lord have they tried), the producers mix in the obvious personality disorders (rage, codependence, probable childhood abuse) with A LOT of alcohol and let the sparks fly. (True fans of the show will recall the definitive turning point in the show’s modus operandi as the time when MTV decided to broadcast the “Casting Special” where viewers were treated to a look at how the show selected its cast by having twenty or so semi-finalists compete for attention over a long weekend at some resort. Astoundingly, when the cast was selected A Chorus Line-style --- after shamelessly hyping up any and all afflictions/disorders/life tragedies ---- “winners” elbowed their way past their sadly well-adjusted and boringly normal counterparts and proceeded to break into tears of misplaced gratitude for what must have felt like some form of life affirmation. Not even the deeply cynical failed to see the producers licking their lips and rubbing their palms in eager anticipation of the impending meltdowns, hysterias and blackouts). Well, mission accomplished MTV. Anyone who watched last season noticed that the show doesn’t even really try to make them work anymore and simply follows them out each night to one of three local bars. (Painfully, last year’s job, the impossibly cool opportunity to produce a documentary about a few bands at the local South by Southwest music festival, was utterly ignored by the cast. Other past jobs were equally doomed, such as the ill-fated decision to make the Chicago cast lifeguards despite only one of them being able to swim).

But here’s my real point. I was shocked to learn that these show ponies often go on to have lucrative gigs on college speaking tours. WHAT??? Who the hell is showing up to these things? And what possible words could come out of those drool holes that have any relevance to anyone? Seriously, I want to know. Because the only thing I could think to ask would be: “Does club soda remove vomit from a bed spread?”

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Potty Humor

Sometimes you don't even have to go looking for the juvenile potty jokes. Sometimes they just come to you. From yesterday's New York Times:

Standards Australia, the group in charge of the country's design rules, said it would probably recommend "an increase in the strength of toilet seats to accommodate the increasing size of humans." The percentage of Australians who are overweight or obese has jumped about 10 percent over the last decade, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. It is expected that the new standard will accommodate a 330-pound user.

So were 300-pound Australians actually cracking toilet seats? Or were they merely experiencing discomfort? Might they prefer a slightly larger circle to accomodate their buns? Or is it just a stronger circle to accomodate their buns? Or do they want to keep the smaller circle--who wants to feel like they must supersize?--and just reinforce it structurally? How do you structurally reinforce a toilet seat?

How the hell did the question of the toilet seats ever come up down there?

Friday, March 03, 2006

Torino's Guide To The 2006 Winter Olympics Ice Dancing Competition

Yes, I know many of you are devastated that the Winter Olympics have come and gone, exiting the airwaves with all the fanfare of an episode of "That's So Raven." But we do have a treat for those of you who remain mystified by the Games' most curious sport, ice dancing. Or, as I like to call it, Emmanuelle on Ice (that's for you Cinemax fans out there). So, straight from the Torino Games, an official copy of Torino's Guide to the 2006 Winter Olympics Ice Dancing Competition.

"Benvenuto a Torino! The I.O.C. would like to welcome everyone to today's ice dancing competition. To aid in your enjoyment of this dynamic sport, we have compiled this informative brochure to address some of the more frequently asked question about ice dancing. Divertiti!"

Q: Ice Dancing? Really?

A: Yes! Since 1976, in fact. And Olympic history buffs will be interested to know that ice dancing narrowly beat out several other sports that were also up for consideration that year. It is widely believed that ice dancing's bid ultimately succeeded after a strong push by the French delegation who viewed it as their only shot at an Olympic medal.

Q: Are there any rules in ice dancing?

A: No, not really. The name pretty much says it all.

Q: What should one look for?

A: The true fan of ice dancing looks first and foremost at the outfit. Toreador uniforms, pirate tunics, anything worn by Cher. The importance of the outfit simply cannot be understated. It's generally accepted that a couple could basically do the Shimmy for four minutes and still expect to win if their outfit is first-rate.

Q: I've seen ice dancing competitions where the women appeared to be wearing little more than lingerie. Are there any limitations on one's choice of costume?

A: Just one: "The outfit must not give the effect of excessive nudity inappropriate for an athletic sport." This is also known as the "no pasties" rule. [N.B. Curling and Luge have similar restrictions.]

Q: How is ice dancing different than pairs skating?

A: There is no lifting or other strength moves permitted in ice dancing.

Q: How is it different than the Ice Capades?

A: The Ice Capades does not award medals.

Q: I remember some kind of judging scandal at the last Olympics. Has the sport addressed this issue?

A: Indeed. In the past, medals were often awarded based on reputation rather than performance. Nowhere was this more evident than at the Salt Lake City Games. As you may recall, several eyebrows were raised when the Russians took gold despite a nasty spill by the female that left her unconscious and crumpled on the ice, a spastic leg twitch her sole contribution for the last half of the performance. When pressed on why the couple received the gold, several judges regrettably maintained that her leg was, in fact, twitching to the beat and thus did not detract from the overall performance. The new system should prevent similar incidents.

Q: Has ice dancing been tainted by the performance-enhancing drug scandals currently afflicting other sports?

A: Quite the contrary. The I.O.C. long ago decided that steroids provide absolutely no conceivable advantage to ice dancing. In fact, many of you might be interested to know that the competitors often aid their performance by ingesting many of the same substances that you take for that extra boost of confidence on the dance floor. Vodka Red Bulls, Jaeger shots, even a hit of Ecstasy. All staples of a winning regimen.

Q: Is that why one of the skaters started licking the ice during the last Games?

A: We're not sure, but most likely.

Q: My neighbor thinks I'm crazy but I swear I saw the silver medalists' from the last Games smoking during their free skate. Did I?

A: Good eyes! Yes, the French pair was, in fact, smoking during the free skate. Another little known fact about ice dancing is that competitors are allowed to smoke discreetly at any point during their program. However, this rule has been revisited after numerous complaints from health organizations and, thus, this year all smoking will be relegated to the post-skate score booth.

Q: Do the competitors choose their own music?

A: In a manner of speaking. Competitors are free to choose their own music so long as it comes from the Celine Dion oeuvre. This rule has grown in importance ever since the disaster four years ago when the American pair made the impulsive decision to hit the ice to Ol' Dirty Bastard's "You Don't Want to Fuck With Me."

Q: Any surprises on board for this year?

A: You bet. Rumor has it that the Canadians have nailed the Centipede in several recent competitions and there is hope that the Swiss will attempt the first ever triple toe loop Running Man in Olympic competition. No one's cleanly landed one yet.

Q: I've heard that ice dancing can be very sensual. Is it family friendly?

A: More than ever. We are very cognizant that many people still associate the sport with that unfortunate incident in the late eighties when it was determined that the French team basically dry humped for a good portion of their original skate. You'll be glad to know their silver medal has since been revoked.

Q: Why haven't the Germans done well in ice dancing?

A: Good question. Most experts point to their athletes' repeated struggle with White Man's Overbite. It truly has been the bane of the sport for them. It's still early, but reports so far list Gunther as day to day.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Senator Franken

So this is cool. My old boss and current Air America radio host extraordinaire, Al Franken, called me this morning to announce his candidacy for Senator of Minnesota. Well, okay, it was less of an official announcement than a "Hi, Rob, how are things with you? Good, good. Me? Yeah, I'm doing well and I'm running for Senate in Minnesota," type of a call, but I still think it was pretty cool. And I'm not saying I'll definitely get Chief of Staff if he's elected, but I've been thinking of floating the idea to him. (Al always enjoys a good laugh.)

Right now Al's in the money gathering stage so he can mount a decent campaign against the war mongering/anti-choice/anti-education/anti-poor/pro-spying/corporate lackeys currently in office. He's set up a political action committee, which, if you love I dunno, freedom, you should really check out. Here's the link: Midwest Values PAC.

No doubt this will mean a great deal to the voters of Minnesota, but I hereby endorse Al for Senator. He's smart, he's thoughtful, he's his own man, he's too busy to eavesdrop on your phone calls, he's wise, he's witty and an all around great guy. And best of all, I have his cell phone number!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

It's the Prom issue!

March is finally here, and we all know what that means: prom season!

It used to arrive in late Febrary, bulky and heavy, wrapped in plastic and with a binding thick enough to rival the September issue of Vogue. It was the Seventeen magazine March prom issue, and it sent my heart aflutter with the delusional hope that maybe, just maybe, I'd graduate to the ranks of normal this year, that Jason, the varsity soccer forward would totally finally see how beautiful I was--well, at least how much potentially I had, and above all, what a stunning, crowd-stopping prom date I would be! This year I'd be like the popular girls, the ones whose mothers actually took them to big shopping mall in Syracuse that had real department stores, stores that carried a whole department just for Juniors, with whole racks of bubble skirts, irridescent taffeta, sweetheart necklines, shirred lame, and stretch sequin and chiffon dresses.

It was clear to me that the right prom dress would change everything, it would reveal the real irresistible me to the whole school and they'd all wonder where I'd been during the first three marking periods of the year! I just needed for Jason to see that inside the mousy chipmunk-cheeked dweeb who walked by his locker everyday between 3rd and 4th periods there was, like, a Seventeen prom issue model lookalike just waiting to fill out her Gunne Saxe gown.

Because what was the prom in the 80's without Gunne Saxe and Jessica McClintock? And guess what: the house of pearls and lace and countless fashion trainwrecks is back! They have mysteriously spawned a third label, Scott McClintock, who must be their designing son, genetically engineered to come out the womb flamboyant. The good news is that he designs JUST like his parents...

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