As we approach the end of the first season, the show has done something magical.
Women love to hate Victoria’s Secret. Never has over-priced underwear caused so much blood to boil.
Melissa Langsam Braunstein
If the video wasn’t fit for television, where it would be watched once, why is it on YouTube, where it will live forever?
President Bush's new hobby is the first time a retired U.S. President has ever branded himself creatively.
R. J. Moeller
Nothing satisfies the soul and sharpens the mind quite like immersion into the well-crafted world of a master storyteller.
Fri. December 6
Katy, please cover up. I’m not sure who thought it would be a good idea for Katy Perry to wear such a skimpy dress on Sesame Street, but they must not have preschoolers.
This summer, my two-year-old discovered Elmo, and all she wanted to do during our rainy August afternoons on Cape Cod was watch Elmo on YouTube. Searching for Elmo videos, we stumbled upon a video of Katy Perry playing tag with Elmo and singing a kid-oriented version of “Hot N Cold”. A fan of both opposites and costumes, my daughter was instantly hooked. Clearly she’s not alone, because the three-year-old video has had over 58 million views.
Every time my daughter asks to watch the Katy Perry video, I cringe. And it seems I have company. The video never actually aired on TV because some parents complained after seeing promotional pictures.
Perhaps it was in some spirit…
Fri. December 6
While news outlets were atwitter with this Cyber Monday’s success as the “biggest online spending day ever,” many of them may have missed one novelty item that’s making history of another kind. It’s a Christmas ornament that retails for just under $30, and it features a red cardinal on a green background: a replication of a painting by the Artist formerly known as President George W. Bush.
Ornaments and fountain pens and paperweights are standard fare in any political gift shop, but this ornament stands out from all the others. Indeed, this ornament stands out from any item associated with any former President in history: It’s the first time a retired U.S. President has ever branded himself creatively.
It’s apparent that President Bush’s endeavor into oil painting was no accident. He is a longtime admirer of another famous painter, Sir Winston Churchill.
Thu. December 5
In the few moments I was able to catch up on news this week, I was struck by a common theme: there is a growing trend in which we measure our love for one another by outrageous, over-the-top gestures and gifts. Recently at Acculturated, Chelsea Samelson made note of how marriage proposals have taken on a life of their own and need to be reined in. I’ve even seen it in how high school students ask one another to be their date to dances: invitations can involve anything from the delivery of a cake with the question on it to asking professional athletes or musicians to help in the process of popping the prom question.
Our need for public displays of love and affection for others by what we get them or do for them undercuts the beauty and intimacy of shared time and experiences between people. It’s time…
Thu. December 5
Jean-Claude Van Damme is back.
His heyday of the 90s far behind him, the former “Muscles from Brussels,” Bloodsport kickboxer, and mulleted action star with the odd forehead lump recently began popping up in GoDaddy commercials, beating bongos and shaking maracas while doing the splits, leering at small business owners and yet inspiring them with a husky “It’s go time.” At the American Film Market trade show last week, his not-yet-released action flick Swelter scored pretty big, selling in multiple territories around the world. But what has really propelled him back into the public eye is his extraordinary, commanding appearance in an epic new Volvo commercial.
Unlike the whimsical, frenetic GoDaddy ads, the Volvo spot has a tranquil, ethereal beauty about it. It features Van Damme staring impassively at the camera with the focus of a Zen master, while the two semis beneath his feat carry him backwards, ever…
Thu. December 5
Whenever journalists report trending eating disorder tactics, a part of me wonders if we’re prolonging their existence. Can the benefits of withholding certain details from news outweigh the cost to society of suppressing information?
According to CBS Atlanta, extreme dieters are swallowing cotton balls soaked in juice to feel full. Nutritionists and health professionals are warning cotton-ball dieters of potential health hazards like intestinal blockage and malnutrition. While the story warns Americans of the diet’s dangers, it may also serve as an idea source for people with eating disorders trying to lose weight.
Should we share news even if it’s detrimental to some people’s behavior? I recently read a review on a book written by Kelsey Osgood, a recovering anorexic. Because of her own tendencies to adopt advice on extreme weight loss, she intentionally withheld details from her book regarding the tactics she used.
Wed. December 4
I confess: I shopped on Black Friday.
There were, though, no stampedes at the Stony Point Fashion Park in Richmond, Virginia. The most galling social impropriety I witnessed was a German shepherd relieving itself on a tree (presumably after drinking at the doggie comfort station). The longest line was a well-behaved serpentine waiting to check out at Anthropologie.
Now, I should observe that my family couldn’t afford many of the stores at Stony Point, but we’re fortunate enough that we were able to find some gifts here and there. We figured, correctly, that an upmarket shopping center would provide a respite from the crowds.
Meanwhile, it is fashionable to fix a glowering gaze on Walmarts and other downmarket retail outlets as the rabbles converge. Respectable people do the usual tut-tutting about how consumerist our society is, and we all feel like we’ve engaged in righteous self-reflection.
Wed. December 4
Last year at this time I offered up a list of novels and works of fiction that I thought worthy of your attention during the course of 2013. There are plenty of entertainment distractions to fill your spare hours with, but even someone with a mild-to-strong case of ADD like myself can honestly say that nothing satisfies the soul and sharpens the mind quite like immersion into the well-crafted world of a master storyteller.
This year’s “Recommended Reading” list has a slight twist to it: aside from a few of my own personal favorites, I’ve asked some friends from across the cultural landscape to chime in with recommendations of their own.
I hope you take the time to check (at least) a few of these out. Happy reading!
January: Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky – In my humble opinion, no one since Saint Paul has written a better…
Wed. December 4
Delivery Man, starring Vince Vaughn, tells the story of a decent, well-intentioned guy, David Wozniak, who finds an opportunity to make something meaningful of his life when he simultaneously finds out that his girlfriend is pregnant…and that he is the father of 533 children through sperm donation, over one hundred of whom would like to learn of his identity. Vaughn’s character embarks on a search into the meaning of fatherhood, at times deliberately chosen and at other times when it comes as a surprise. In the end, he and his children form an intentional bond, though one that must be tempered. David’s children rather generously understand the fact that their father can only offer them so much, given that their number exceeds the biological laws of natural reproduction.
Though the movie knits together some vital philosophical questions about the nature of family and the importance of biological kinship,…
Tue. December 3
It’s no secret that Miley Cyrus doesn’t care what people think. Her quote: “The biggest thing people say to me is that ‘I love that you don’t care what people think.’”
I don’t claim to be very skilled at logic games, but this strikes me as a fun challenge:
1) Miley doesn’t care.
2) People love that Miley doesn’t care.
3) Miley loves that people love that Miley doesn’t care.
So, she does care. I think.
It’s confusing because we live in culture of IDGAF, which is SMS shorthand for “I don’t care.” We are urged to reserve judgment (“only God can judge us”), which feels good. But not caring: That doesn’t really feel good. You would never tell a friend you don’t care.
So maybe the better paraphrase for…
Tue. December 3
The other night, as a friend and I hovered over a stubbornly red tenderloin roast in our skinny jeans and heels, it struck me: It’s time to bring back Home Ec.
As we puzzled over the roast, I recalled some recently imparted kitchen wisdom from my mother-in-law. Cook meat on the bottom shelf. Bake on the middle. Broil on the top. We moved the roast. Within 15 minutes it was flawlessly done.
I don’t really even know what Home Economics was. Learn to carve wood and cook things, I think? But we friggin’ need it back.
I am guessing they got rid of Home Ec under pressure from old-school feminists who worried about women being locked up barefoot in the kitchen. The feminists trying to destroy any difference between the genders. But let’s be honest, women have the world at their fingertips now. Today more women graduate from college…
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