Man Takes A Pistol to Bristol

16 11 2010

Once upon a time (Monday night), as I was quietly munching on broccoli lasagna, a 66-year-old man in a town that is seriously called Black Earth, Wisconsin, was sitting on his couch watching “Dancing with the Stars” with his wife.    Suddenly, when Bristol Palin entered the screen to perform a Viennese Waltz to the Passion of the Christ theme song, the man got really, really, balls-crazy pissed about her poor dancing skills, and this happened:

“Cowan jumped up and swore as Bristol Palin appeared, saying something about ‘the (expletive) politics.’ Cowan was upset that a political figure’s daughter was on the show when he didn’t think she was a good dancer, the complaint states.

Cowan went upstairs for about 20 minutes and returned, demanding his pistols, which had been taken by his daughter about a month ago for safety reasons. He was carrying a single-shot shotgun, which he loaded and fired into the television.

Cowan continued to yell, demanding his pistols. He re-loaded the shotgun and pointed it toward his wife. She left the house and drove to Black Earth, where she called 911. She told police she was afraid for her safety.

Cowan kept sheriff’s deputies at bay outside his home until 11 a.m. Tuesday, when he surrendered without incident.”

I’m sorry, did you say WITHOUT INCIDENT?  The man (whom I will be referring to as “Lover” from here on out) put a bullet in his telly and held himself hostage for FIFTEEN HOURS over Bristol Palin’s dance routine.  Sounds like a pretty goddamn remarkable incident to me.

How angry do you have to be to actually get out of your chair, walk up the stairs, load your pistol, walk it back down the stairs, and fire a bullet into your TV?  Sometimes when I’m watching really bad reality shows, I can’t even drum up the motivation to get up and pee.  Lover was obviously really, veins-popping-out-of-his-forehead upset over this!

As a reporter by trade, I’ve really had to fight the urge not to track him down myself for an interview, or at least call the police department for comment.  I should definitely refrain from doing that, but just in case the opportunity presents itself (ahem), I’ve jotted down a few follow-up questions I’d like to ask him:

1. How was your weekend, Lover?

2. What did you think of Jennifer Grey’s Cha Cha routine?

3. Were you as attracted to Patrick Swayze in the 80’s as I was, or is this getting too personal?

4. What would have had to happen on Dancing with the Stars for you to actually shoot your wife in the face, as you threatened?  Would a really shitty tango by Dick Cheney’s daughter do the trick, or is there something about Bristol in particular that ruffles your feathers?

5. Boxers or briefs? Do you wax your back?

Sigh.  Honestly, I didn’t think there was a man in this country who could possibly be as passionate about “Dancing with the Stars” as I am, and now that I know he exists, I’ll never be the same.

The Fascinating Social Experiment that is ‘The Bachelor’

2 03 2010

Jake Pavelka, This Season's "Bachelor"

People love to hate on ABC’s dating reality show “The Bachelor” because– well, it’s insultingly cheesy and contrived.  But anyone who has actually watched an entire season understands the extent to which, regardless of how cringe- and puke-worthy the show can be, it just sucks you in like an industrial-strength Hoover.

I personally think it’s genius how the producers of The Bachelor manage to manipulate the emotions of the characters and the viewers, so that by the time the season finale rolls around, the bachelor’s decision as to which woman he will propose to genuinely feels like life-and-death to everyone involved and everyone watching.

If you think about it, their strategy is clear: Find one single, good-looking man with rock-hard abs who is genuinely looking for love (and neglect the fact that his personality is completely lame, because it won’t matter, trust us.)  Then find 25 single, hot, increasingly desperate-to-find-love women who are attracted to him upon seeing a photo.  Throw the women into a big mansion and make them compete for his love through a series of fantasy dates– bungee jumping in New Zealand, flying in helicopters over tropical islands, having dinner in a castle nestled in a vineyard, etc.  Let the women stew in jealousy as each one comes home and raves about her date and her “connection” with Jake, which anyone on that show would feel like she had because she has to fight to get his attention and hasn’t even SEEN another man in several weeks.

By the end of a couple months, there will be 2 women left whose parents Jake has met and who have met Jake’s parents.  They’ve gone this crazy experience together of being on a TV show and traveling all over the place, and the emotions are so heightened from having to spend these romantic dates together and then not see each other for a few days that Jake honestly feels like he is in love with both women and they honestly feel like they are both in love with him.

Tenley, Gia and Vienna await their fates.

Neil Lane arrives on the scene and gives Jake his pick of massive diamond rings.  He considers the personality of each girl, tries to make a decision about which one he will dump and which one he will propose to that day.  It seems completely absurd to an outside viewer, but to those who have been following, it seems like a completely legitimate and tragic decision.

One arrives in a helicopter first.  The viewer knows she’ll be the dumpee, but she thinks she’s about to get proposed to.  She walks up to Jake.  He dumps her.  Both of them sob, because the break-up was really so sudden and now he’s going to propose to someone else, so it’s not like they can continue casually dating on and off. It’s over. Both Jake and the girl and all the viewers are sobbing at this point.

Then the other girl arrives.  It doesn’t matter how immature and abrasive and cross-eyed she is– the moment he asks her to marry him, millions of people become immediately convinced that they have the kind of unique love that will last a lifetime, and that this was a true fairy-tale romance.

A montage of their story commences as a cheesy ballad called “On the Wings of Love” plays in the background, and people are made to feel bad about themselves for not having fallen in love on the peak of a mountain in New Zealand or in a mud cave in St. Lucia.

Then the lucky couple breaks up two weeks later, and the cycle begins again.

Genius.  Pure genius.

Pregnancy Pacts, And Other Stupid Decisions

26 02 2010

In the summer of 2008, 17 girls at Gloucester High School in Massachusetts turned up pregnant– more than four times the average number of pregnancies in previous years at the 1200-student school.  School officials and reporters across the nation began to speculate that the girls got pregnant on purpose, particularly after the school nurse noticed that girls were flooding into the school clinic to take pregnancy tests and acting more upset when they received “negative” results than positive.

On June 18, reporter Kathleen Kingsbury made a big splash at Time Magazine when she published an article claiming that the girls had confessed to making a pact to get pregnant and raise their babies together.  The high-school fathers, obviously, were not in on the pact, and were all very dismayed to hear that not only had they been manipulated as part of this master scheme, but that they were likely to be paying child support for life and facing charges of statutory rape for having sex with minors. Whoops– bet the sex wasn’t worth it!

Anyway, I remember being captivated by the story when this article came out after a string of movies that glamorized teen and accidental pregnancies– Juno and Knocked Up to name a few– and wondering whether Hollywood had anything to do with this high school pregnancy boom.  So a few weeks ago, when the made-for-TV Lifetime movie called “Pregnancy Pact” aired, I was sitting on my couch with a biiiig bowl of popcorn and a smile.

My curiosity about these girls and their idiotic decision was insatiable, and the movie did not disappoint.  It followed the girls from the initial stages of making the pact to peeing on a stick at the guidance counselor’s office, to drinking til they passed out at a graduation party when they realized their boyfriends didn’t want the babies as much as they did (uh… duh.).

I had SO much fun watching this movie, in fact, that my friend Ashley and I spent the entire next day watching a marathon of the reality show “Teen Mom” on MTV.  Here’s a clip of Farrah fighting with her parents over the fact that she wants a social life despite the fact that she has a 9-month old to take care of.

If that didn’t steer you teenagers away from getting pregnant, here’s a clip that will, from MTV’s other reality series, “16 and Pregnant”:

Yea– that’s why you don’t let a 16-year-old knock you up, dumbass.  I can’t even believe Nikkole slept with that guy in the first place, much less wanted him in the hospital room while she was in LABOR. What a little twirp.  I would punch him in face if I saw him on the street.

My hope for these shameless reality series is that they shake a little sense into modern teenage girls by showing them the reality of actually being huge for 9 months, then pushing a 9-lb. baby out of a hole the size of a sand dollar, and then having to actually raise a person with or without the help of your idiot quarterback boyfriend.

As to the issue of why I find these shows so personally entertaining– well, I really don’t know.

This is Why I Watch the Winter Olympics

23 02 2010

What do you think they’re saying in their wardrobe consultations?

Johnny Weir: “I want to look like a gay popsicle, dipped into a sweaty NBA jersey and then clawed by a tiger.”

Michal Brezina: “For this routine, I’m thinking underage caddy prostitute in pink.”

Tomas Verner: “I really wanted my costume to resemble a normal man’s outfit, but I just can’t resist this cherry red sailor scarf.”

Evgeny Plushenko: “You make the red sequin vest, my mullet will take care of the rest.”

Heidi Montag: A Modern Frankenstein!

22 01 2010

Heidi Montag, star of MTV’s “The Hills,” before:

Heidi Montag now, after having 10 plastic surgery procedures in one sitting:

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, this lady may look 35, but she is actually 23 years old.  Shocking, I know.  This is the stuff science fiction movies are made of.

In case you can’t watch the video, which I HIGHLY recommend, here are some of the highlights:

-Heidi says her new boobs are “triple D’s or F’s, pretty much,” but she really wanted an “H, for Heidi”

-She details her creepy procedures, including having her ears pinned back and sewed to her head “because I couldn’t wear my hair up ever on the red carpet,” having the bones of her jaw sawed down, and having the muscles of her back and her spine carved out for a “curvier look”

-When asked to move her face, she can’t

-She says her ordeal was a “spiritual transformation” more than anything, because she “almost died…like Michael Jackson did” (she also told another interviewer that her main message to teen girls is that “Beauty is on the inside,” but she said it with a lisp because she was still getting used to moving her jaw. haha.)

-She explains how plastic surgery is a blessing to mankind and says, “If Cleopatra were alive now, I’m sure she’d have triple D’s and all the works done like a lot of people I know”

Errrrr… Actually, if Cleopatra were alive now, she would probably release a poisonous snake on your big plastic boob.

That poor girl.  She looks like she needs a hug.

True Blood

11 01 2010

I tend to instinctively avoid those cultural phenomena that everyone seems to be talking about at a particular time–the books everyone and their moms have read, the movie that makes a huge splash and wins all the Oscars, the TV shows that everyone constantly recommends.  It’s not cultural snobbery, per se– things are just less interesting to me when the entire world has already experienced them and told me all about them. I like to discover things, sans expectations.

For this reason, I have successfully avoided reading any of the Harry Potter books and the DaVinci Code series, I still haven’t seen Avatar or Gossip Girl, I held off on Twilight for a loooong time before I cracked, and I am only just now discovering The Wire, several years after its final episode.  I’m not particularly proud of having avoided these things, and I’m quite sure that I’m missing out on some quality entertainment in most cases (especially Harry Potter— I know, I know. I’ll get around to it), but I really hate watching or reading something that has already generated so much buzz, because it’s almost always a disappointment.

With that said, I was really bored yesterday afternoon, so I decided to finally check out True Blood On Demand, which people have been recommending to me for years.  Yea yea, it’s set in Louisiana.  Sure, it’s about vampires, like everything else nowadays.  How good could it really be?

Um–It’s good.  Like really, really good.    I’m going to go ahead and say that it’s one of the smartest, sexiest, funniest, most ridiculously addictive pieces of television I have ever come across.  It immediately sucked me into its vortex, and I watched five episodes in a row on the edge of my seat.  I couldn’t make myself get up to eat dinner, to refill my water glass, or to go to the bathroom, even in between shows… I sat on the couch, hungry, thirsty and needing to pee for five straight hours, totally mesmorized by the idiot box. Healthy?  No.  But worth every minute, from the stunning opening credit sequence to the cliff-hanger end of each episode.

Sookie and Bill Compton of "True Blood"

For those of you who haven’t seen it, here is the brilliant premise, which I’m kicking myself for not having come up with:

The show takes place somewhere in rural Louisiana (you’ll have to get past the fake accents), where vampires are living in relative peace among humans thanks to a synthetic blood beverage developed by the Japanese.  Of course, human blood still tastes better to the vampires than synthetic blood, so the occasional killing still occurs, which stirs up a certain kind of fear-based “racism” among the humans.  Clever.

Here’s the big twist: In addition to the vampires wanting to suck human blood, the humans have discovered that they can get really high off of vampire blood, or “V,” which seems to mimic the effects of Ecstasy and Viagra in addition to its strengthening and healing powers.  This has created a kind of fetishized vampire culture– the particularly depraved humans like to either have sex with the vampires and allow themselves to be bitten for kicks, or capture them and drain their blood to sell it on the black market.

Synthetic Blood Beverage

This brings us to our main character– Sookie Stackhouse, a virginal waitress who can literally hear people’s thoughts (which explains why men never make it past the first date).  She develops an interesting romance with Bill Compton, a virtuous, “mainstream” vampire, because he’s the only person she’s ever met whose thoughts she can’t hear, and that’s a huge relief for her.

Bill Compton is a relatively old vampire, having been murdered as a soldier in the Civil War when he sought refuge at a vampire’s house.  He doesn’t feed on humans because he is striving to be accepted by mainstream society, but he hangs out with a bunch of evil vampires who do occasionally nosh on human necks.

Sookie’s best friend Tara, “the only black woman ever named after a plantation,” is an incredibly sharp-witted, attitudinal feminist who likes to mouth off at dumb white people.  She has some of the best one-liners I’ve ever heard.

Lafayette, another fantastically original character, is the lovable, flamboyant line-cook/drug-dealer/gay prostitute at the restaurant where Sookie and Tara work.  He deals vampire blood to pay the bills, although he doesn’t drain vampires for it– he seems to have a “working relationship” with them.  When one of the rednecks at the restaurant makes a joke about his burger (being cooked by Lafayette) having AIDS, Lafayette personally delivers the burger to the redneck, beats the crap out of him and then sashays back into the kitchen.  It’s one of my favorite scenes.

Lafayette of "True Blood"

True Blood tackles serious issues like racism, sexism and homophobia in a smart, progressive way while still managing to entertain your pants off with its amusing, original, often shocking story-lines.  I won’t give away any more about this show, but you need to watch it (if you don’t have a problem with nudity, graphic violence and occasional graphic sex– it’s very R-rated).  Seriously, thought, it’s crack for the imagination.

Bring on season 3!

This is Why America’s Fat

6 01 2010

Have you seen the commercial for Taco Bell’s new Drive Thru Diet? It’s a gem.

I honestly couldn’t tell whether the commercial was serious or not when I first saw it.  I thought it might be a spoof, so I rewound it a few times to watch it again, combing through it for hints of sarcasm.  Nope.  Dead serious.

I think it’s hilarious that the Taco Bell marketing team has Christina slip in little ambiguous lines to cover their asses, such as “These results are exceptional,” which could mean both “These results are fantastic!” and “These results will not happen for you!”

Taco Bell, the public is not as dumb as you think I wish I could say the public is not as dumb as you think, but unfortunately, there are millions of people out there who are just begging for a reason to continue eating and feeding their children fast food. You are all enablers, and you should be ashamed of yourselves.

I actually know someone who tried Taco Bell’s drive-thru diet.  She didn’t turn out to be one of the “exceptions”– but she’s only on day 4,567 of the diet, so there’s still room for improvement.

She was bummed she didn’t make it onto the “Drive-Thru Diet” commercial, especially considering how faithfully she’d followed the diet, but the Taco Bell marketing execs told her she wasn’t exactly the image they had in mind.

Taco Bell is revolting.  I used to eat it on the road sometimes when I was feeling especially hungry/lazy, until one day I ordered a Meximelt that tasted like petroleum.  Seriously, something was wrong with it. My stomach wasn’t the same for days.

I think that little “Yo quiero Taco Bell” chihuahua was the closest Taco Bell has ever come to an honest, effective campaign. Of course the chihuahua wants Taco Ball, their meat is only one grade above dog food!  (And let’s be honest– that commercial taught us all a little bit of Spanish!)

But with this campaign, Taco Bell marketing execs are preying on dumb people and blatantly contributing to this nation’s obesity problems.  How about instead of a “drive-thru diet,” we call it a walk-thru diet, but instead of walking thru Taco Bell, you walk thru a grocery store and buy yourself some squash.

Just a suggestion.