Oh Hello, 9 to 5!

30 11 2009

Today, for the first time in a looong time, I set my alarm, dragged myself out of bed, took a bus to work, and sat at a desk in front of a computer for 10 straight hours.  Man, full-time jobs are crazy!

I forgot to eat breakfast, so my stomach was devouring itself by 11 am, but I was afraid to leave for lunch because I didn’t want to look like a slacker-fatty on my first day.  My eyes started burning from staring at the computer screen around 2.  By 4, my muscles were tight and achy from sitting still for so long, and by 6:30, I was so sleepy I had to prop my head up with my hands.

I looked around the room at the end of the day, and everyone in the office was still bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.  No one else needed 12 cups of coffee, no one else had bright red, screen-burned eyeballs.  I know I’ll get used to it, but man, I am seriously out of job-shape!

Don’t mistake this for complaining.  I’m thrilled to have this job.  The staff is smart, the work is fun, this is exactly what I want to be doing with my life.  At previous jobs, I felt the guy in Office Space who would  dream about massacring the fax machine in slo-mo.  This job is cake compared to that.

Still, it’s a tough transition from owning most of my time to being owned by a giant, news-eating superblog.  I feel like Godzilla ate my face.

But, in a good way.

Any tips, you crazy 9-to-5ers?  What is your secret for success?


Fox News: 70% of people back Palin for President, out of 193% polled.

24 11 2009

Back when Sarah Palin was running for VP, I kept reading news stories about how massively popular she was among the American working-class, how she was “breathing life” back into McCain’s campaign.  This always confused me, because I didn’t know one single person who supported her.  My liberal friends obviously thought she was a joke, but even my conservative friends and my aunt and uncle in Alaska hated her.  

Most recently, during a Friday broadcast, good ole Fox News displayed a pie chart illustrating the support breakdown for the 2012 elections.  Apparently, 70% of the people polled back Palin: 

That’s funny… I’m no math major, but I thought pie chart percentages were supposed to add up to 100.  This one adds up to 193.  How can 193% of people show up to take your survey, Fox News?

But more importantly, if the liberals I know hate Palin, the conservatives I know hate Palin, and my Alaska kin especially hate Palin, then how is it that 70% of the people Fox polled are backing her for President?  Who are these people?

Well, my answer has arrived in the form of a YouTube video.  Because Palin has mapped out an all-white book tour that conspicuously skips over most major metropolitan areas, Chase Whiteside of New Left Media had to trek out Columbus, Ohio, where hundreds of white people stood in line at Borders to have their copy of Going Rogue signed by the author.  Whiteside had many of the same questions I do; namely, why do you people continue to support Sarah Palin? 

Lot’s of people talked very generally about “freedom.”  One woman called her a “rockstar” without elaborating, and another gentleman in a Steelers jacket enthusiastically said, “She is the epitome of conservativeness, and I’m tellin you, if the Republican Party doesn’t back her, it doesn’t matter, because she’s gonna get the presidency.” 

Err… no, if the Republican Party doesn’t back her, she actually won’t even be able to run for the presidency, unless you’re suggesting some sort of violent coup.  

One old man worries that Palin can’t win the presidency because Obama is “naturalizing a lot of the illegal aliens,” who will surely offset Palin’s white voters.

When Whiteside asks supporters what specific policies of hers they agree with, no one seems to have an answer.  One woman cryptically says “Fairness. Realness,” another shouts, “Drill, baby, drill!” and a third, more annoyed Palin supporter says, “I’m not sure where you’re going with that.”  

When asked what problems she has with the current administration, a woman replies, “cap and trade, and all that.”  Then when the reporter asks her what problem she has with cap and trade, she laughs and says, “Um, I really don’t know too much about it.”  

That’s fine if you don’t know what cap and trade means, most people don’t.  But don’t go around telling people it’s the main reason you disapprove of the Obama administration when you haven’t even figured out what it is, much less formed a real opinion on it, know what I mean?

One man in the video says he’s read Obama’s two books, and that they clearly outline his policy of “Marxism, Leninism and Socialism.”  Another mentions that he disagrees with Obama’s support of partial birth abortions.  When Whiteside points out that Obama does not, in fact, support partial birth abortions, the man says, “He said he is against partial birth abortions, but he’s done nothing to prove that.”

What??  We are all just a little bit dumber for having heard that.

So I guess there are some rogue Palin supporters out there.  The good news is, 70% of 193% isn’t even close to half.

What are you thankful for?

21 11 2009

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, mainly because of the fried turkey (yes fried), sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie.  I’m less impressed by the part when you go around the circle and say what you’re thankful for, because everyone always says something obvious and generic, like “family” or “health.”  Family and health are of utmost importance, of course, but being thankful for those two things is kind of a given, right?

I’d like to make a rule.  Only the first two people in the circle can say “family” and “health,” and then everyone else has to think outside the box.

Here are ten things I’m thankful for this year, besides family and health:

1. My abnormally long toes, which kind of function as fingers on my feet.  Surprisingly useful.

2. Bobby-pins.  Nothing’s more annoying during an athletic activity than hair falling in your face.  I feel super lucky to have a stash of bobby-pins to keep those flyaways in check.

3. Philip Seymour Hoffman.

4. Cheese.

5. My landlord, who won’t fix the leak in our roof or let me have a dog.  Whoa, that was passive aggressive.

6. This pink and blue plaid flannel shirt, without which I would have had nothing to wear every day for the past two weeks.

7. Oprah.  She has single-handedly kept the book publishing industry afloat for the past 20 years.  Now she’s dropping it like a bad habit, but I guess I’m still thankful. And bitter. Backstabbing bitch.

8. Facebook. I know, seems like a lame answer, but without Facebook I would have lost touch with at least half of you, so, cheers to me being able to see how annoying your job is, what your babies look like and who dumped you last week without actually having to ask.  ps. You might want to rethink that new profile pic, unless you don’t mind looking constipated.

9. Scrabble.  I always win, which is fun for everyone.

10. Native Americans, for allowing us to continue to propagate that cute and completely fictitious story about the Pilgrims getting along with the Indians for a day. Slash massacring them and spreading disease.

That about does it for me.  What are you thankful for this year?

No Bagpipes on the Beach: The Music/Climate Theory

19 11 2009

Historians often talk about the correlation between race and music in America, and it is a fascinating topic to consider.  Jazz, blues, soul, reggae, gospel, R&B, and hip-hop are all traditionally “black” forms of music, while rock, punk, country, and bluegrass are more traditionally “white.”  

You can trace many of these diversions back to slavery– gospel and blues music arose from an oppressed, abused generation of American slaves who needed songs and spirituality to get them through the day, and the sounds and the lyrics of gospel and blues music clearly reflect that suffering.  Soul music is essentially a fusion of gospel and blues (with some rhythm added in), jazz originated in the early 20th century Deep South among African-American communities, reggae sprung up in Jamaica as a conglomeration of African and European musical influences with a Rastafarian twist, and hip-hop obviously has its roots in African tribal rhythms, which is why these forms of music have always been considered primarily “black” (these are obviously enormous simplifications, but I don’t have 200 pages to discuss). 

A lot of what we call “white” music– namely country– was clearly influenced by the aforementioned forms, but splintered off in the early 20th century, probably on purpose so as to separate itself from the culture of “race records.”  

This is all very interesting to me, but I’ve always wanted someone to push it further.  For instance, why did incredibly different kinds of sounds develop in different parts of the globe in the first place?  I’ve had this theory for a long time, based on personal observations, that the music of a particular nation is heavily influenced by its landscape and weather patterns.  

It can’t be a coincidence that I only go through hard-hitting reggae phases during the summertime, or when I’m on vacation at the beach.  The sounds lend themselves to a hot, sunny, laid-back, slow-paced life, similar to every day existence in Jamaica.  There is no way that reggae music could have been invented in Russia or Finland– I doubt anybody walks to work in Moscow with “Buffalo Soldier” blasting through their headphones.  That song reeks of humidity and margaritas.  

My musical tastes have always seemed to shift with the seasons.  Songs on my iPod that I consistently skip over in the summer suddenly grab me again when the leaves change– namely, high-energy Euro electronic music.  Remember that song “Not Gonna Get Us” by T.A.T.U, the two Russian teenage girls that danced around in their underwear pretending to be lesbians in their music video as a publicity stunt?  I got so used to skipping over that song in the random shuffle this summer that I forgot it was on the list.  Then suddenly, as I was walking to bars the other night in my sweater and boots, it came on and my finger froze.  I let it play, and it was absolutely glorious.  Techno fits in Russia; it fits in Berlin; it fits in D.C. during the colder months.  It doesn’t work in Bora Bora, or Costa Rica, or New Orleans.

In fact, there are entire instruments that I avoid hearing in warm weather, such as bagpipes.  Can you imagine sitting on the beach in Hawaii listening to bagpipes?  But when a blanket of grey covers the sky and the winds pick up and you find yourself in the UK countryside contemplating death, nothing quite captures the mood like a good bagpipe.  It’s no surprise that bagpipes are the national instrument of Scotland (I made that up, but it’s also probably true).  

Man Bagpiping in Crappy Weather

The landscape in Scotland is beautiful and contemplative, but it’s not especially sexy, and the music reflects that.  By contrast, Rio de Janeiro, with its tropical climate, long stretches of beach and jutting cliffs is just about the sexiest city I’ve ever seen.  The people run around half naked jabbing straws into wild fruits and gyrating to samba music, which is some of the hottest, most evocative music you will ever hear.  It can’t possibly be a coincidence.

I’m not sure what my point is, here, except that it’s really interesting to actually sit down and think about those things that feel so natural and obvious to us that we forget to question them, like the music/climate connection.  

…Isn’t it? 


Libyan Leader Attempts to Convert Hot Italian Women to Islam

18 11 2009

Libyan Leader Muammar al-Gaddafi

Every once in a while I come across a random news story that is so absurd and hilarious and disturbing and confusing that I don’t even know what to do with it in my head, much less on paper.

This is one such story.

Apparently, Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi, leader of Libya, was in Rome this past weekend for a UN Food Summit when he decided to take advantage of his sprawling Italian villa by throwing a little party.

According to Al Arabiya news, the Colonel used an agency called “Hostessweb” to advertise his party to a very specific type of Italian woman.  The ad read:  “Seeking 500 attractive girls between 18 and 35 years old, at least 1.70 meters (5 foot, 7 inches) tall, well-dressed but not in mini-skirts or low cut dresses.”

The ad then promised the women they would receive €60 (about $90) and a “Libyan gift” for their trouble.

Intrigued by the ad and expecting a lavish party, some 200 tall, attractive Italian women showed up to the villa where al-Gaddafi was staying.  He then gathered them into a room and attempted to convert them to Islam, insisting that Christianity was a fraud (the man that died on the cross was actually a Jesus “lookalike”) and that women in the West “have often been used as pieces of furniture, changed whenever it pleases men.  And this is an injustice.”  In Islam, al-Gaddafi said, women must only do “what their physical condition allows them,” which is apparently very little.

After preaching for a while, al-Gaddafi handed each woman some money and a copy of the Koran (their promised Libyan “gift”) and sent them on their way, to convert and prosper.

I don’t even know where to begin.  I guess the two most obviously disturbing things about this article are A) that al-Gaddafi only tried to convert tall, good-looking women to Islam (what about the men? what about the short women?) and B) that 200 women actually responded to an ad for a mysterious “party” that offered them money and insisted on both their attractiveness and modest attire.  Where were their internal warning sirens on that one?

But seriously, regarding the first part, how can he claim to take his faith seriously if he is only acting as missionary to a small, attractive part of the Italian population?  Does he think that if he can manage to convert the hot women, then the men and less hot women will automatically follow suit?  Or was he simply hoping to get laid after this convert-to-Islam fest?

He said women in the West are “used as pieces of furniture,” but it looks to me as if he is the one using women as decorative props.  And what did he mean by that statement that a woman should only do what her “physical condition” allows?  Obviously, our physical condition is allowing us to do everything we are already doing, so I’m not sure I see the problem.

This is too funny and absurd to even upset me.  That man is as creepy as he is creepy-looking, and I feel sorry for all those gullible women that got suckered into sitting through his lecture.

‘Unfriend’ Makes It into the Dictionary

17 11 2009

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, at least 500 of the words and expressions we commonly use today were actually invented by the late great William Shakespeare.  “Fashionable,” “sanctimonious,” “laughing stock,” “eaten out of house and home,” “in a pickle,” “the naked truth,” “method in the madness”– they were all coined by the Bard.

Today, we don’t have a genius playwright to invent fun new words for us, so we have to do it ourselves.  The results? 

“Unfriend” is the Oxford English Dictionary’s 2009 Word of the Year. Check the entry:

unfriend – verb – To remove someone as a ‘friend’ on a social networking site such as Facebook.

As in, “I decided to unfriend my roommate on Facebook after we had a fight.”

Other candidates for Oxford Word of the Year include “tramp stamp,” “sexting,” “funemployed” and “intexticated.”  Yea, I just threw up in my mouth a little. 

Friends, commenters– I think we could do a much better job updating the OED than these old British creeps.  I’d like to suggest a few entries myself:

tenderoni – noun – Your significant other; your boo. 

As in, I just got this new tatt for my tenderoni. 

Palinize – verb – To publicly mock an especially uninformed conservative woman for her general incompetence.

As in, Carrie Prejean claims to have been Palinized by the media.

whoopsidaisies – exclamation – Oh no, a minor accident just occurred.

As in, “Whoopsidaisies!  There go my trousers.”

asshat – noun – A person with very few redeemable qualities.

As in, I just wasted three hours of my life haggling with the asshat at the DMV.

poach – noun – Porch.

As in, “We sittin’ on da poach.’

Any other suggestions?  Come on, guys, this is our chance to make history.

Twilight and the Jonas Brothers: Chastity Gone Wild

16 11 2009


I love how companies like Disney and Random House determine the relative “wholesomeness” of young adult novels, TV shows and pop stars by the extent to which they preach chastity and abstinence, when it is precisely that purity-preaching that fuels the fire of teenage hormones.  The enormously successful Twilight series, for example, is essentially a virginity parable, as Evgenia Peretz points out in the latest issue of Vanity Fair:

“In case you’ve been living in a remote forest, the series tells the story of Bella Swan, a shy newcomer to the town of Forks, Washington, who falls in love with Edward Cullen, a vampire since 1918, when he was bitten, who will be 17 years old for eternity. Though they are hopelessly in love, if they were to really fool around, Edward would lose control and bite her, turning Bella into a vampire as well—all of which puts the two in a permanent state of unquenchable lust, not to mention abstinence. This doubtless plays well with parents and bluenoses, like the author’s fellow Mormons. In fact, the whole setup could be seen as a metaphor for hanging on to your virginity.”

But somehow, instead of inspiring teens to hold onto their virginity, the book series and first Twilight movie have sent teens as well as their mothers into a raging sexual frenzy.  An article in Jezebel today entitled “…I Had More Sex When I Was Reading Twilight Than The Entire Few Months Before” addresses “the whole sexual element to Twilight” that is fueling “cougar” fantasies around the nation.  And let’s be honest– if a young adult novel can put the spark back into a 20-year marriage, it’s certainly not going to make teenagers zip their pants.  Robert Pattinson told Peretz in the Vanity Fair interview that he can’t leave his hotel room without being swarmed by horny teenagers trying to rip his clothes off as they cry and faint at his feet.


"Don't eat this juicy red apple, kids, and don't have sex, either."

The Jonas Brothers phenomenon is equally puzzling.  All three of them wear “purity rings” to announce to their fans that they will be virgins until they’re married.  These rings, along with the band’s “wholesome” lyrics, are supposed to set a good example for teens, and mothers pay thousands of dollars to get their young daughters into Jonas Brothers concerts as a healthy alternative to watching over-sexed pop stars like Britney Spears and Madonna.

In reality, Disney has taken three good-looking teen brothers, dressed them in tight rock-star jeans, put “Haha You Can’t Have Me” rings on their fingers and let them loose into a stadium full of screaming pre-pubescent girls.  The Jonases are then free to do borderline inappropriate things in the name of “good clean fun,” like spray massive amounts of white foam into the crowd with giant hoses (seriously).  Please see this clip of a hilarious Southpark episode parody on the subject:


or, see the entire episode if you have time, because it’s absolutely hysterical:


The irony of it all is that a Jonas Brother singing about the purity of his love and a book about two teenagers that desperately want but can’t have each other will get teenagers far more sexually excited than a slightly bloated Britney Spears with nipple tassels and a toddler on each hip, singing about her divorce and subsequent mental breakdowns.

Telling a teenager not to do something is the absolute worst way to make him or her not want to do it.  Perhaps a better strategy to virginify your teens is to tell them they better eat their vegetables, do all their homework and have sexual intercourse before 11 pm every weeknight or they’ll be grounded for a month.  That oughta buckle their chastity belts, no?