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Writer Wrong

Opinions and musings from a know-it-all. Hit RSS to subscribe, snitches.

Conched Out
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Just got back from a week in the Bahamas for work.  We spent four days in the capital, Nassau on the island of New Providence, then island hopped over to the more rustic island of Eleuthera.  It was…. Big and tiring and awesome and sad and to sum it all up, here is a lit of Things I Learned While on My Summer Workation in the Bahamas.
  1. There are worse ways to earn a dime.  From the American Airlines representatives on the phone and at LAX, to the friends and family I told about this trip, I’m guessing being sent to the Bahamas for work is a bit extraordinary.  I get it.  It’s really, really sickeningly nice there and I got a stamp on my new passport and finally popped my Caribbean cherry.  Getting to go was a surprise since don’t typically travel with the team to actually collect the story. I was in paradise. Or should that be “paradise?”  Much worse places to be to get some serious work done.  And did I mention I got to pet a freakin dolphin?!?!  Certainly not something that happens during most people’s workdays.
  1. Similarly, working hard in a place that is so beautiful kinda makes it hard to like that place.  It’s difficult for me to compartmentalize what I did for work and what I did for fun, because for me, the fun-having was so slim (read: I’m boring).  I snapped great pictures on the way to the next set-up.  I saw a beautiful sunset in Eleuthera.  But I also sweat.  A lot.  No likey.    I met tons of friendlies like Mitchell, Winston, Danard, DeVaughn, Louise the server, and the lovely ladies at the Colonial Hilton’s restaurant.   I wonder what my takeaways would be if I just went for fun.  I’d probably think that place had the most overpriced dining ever.  Night #1?  Ate at a crap place across the street from the hotel whose laminated menus had seen their better days and freakin fried shrimp was $30.  Everyone explained that it’s an island and therefore they get a lot of things shipped in so food is going to cost more.  Especially closer to the tourist areas.   Fine.  I’d probably also think that the Bahamas are beyond hot and it instantly turns even the heaviest and most modest people into bare-it-all strippers out of necessity.  Oh yeah, and the water is glasslike in its clarity. It’s almost eerie.  And looking up at the stars…man, that was gorgeous. At night, the heavens are like a spangled blanket curving around the Earth like a galactic hug.  I felt transported back to pirate times when one could sail a boat and clearly navigate their way home. I hope my brain never forgets that image (because my camera certainly couldn’t capture the majesty).
  1. The men are quite vocal about seeing women they fancy.  Not in a New York construction worker way, but in a way that just lets you know they like you. Or that they like your “peas and rice bungy.”  In America, we’d say ya’ big ol’ booty.  I was called “Princess” quite a lot, had a lot of doors opened and it was all flattering and nice.  Especially considering I felt I looked like crap.  No makeup.  The entire trip.  It’s not like I didn’t try, but 48 seconds after I walked out of a door, my sunglasses were fogged up and I was sweating like a cute guy in a prison shower. So even though I wasn’t feeling cute, some of the dudes were feeling me.  Sure, they were a little ghastly in appearance, but …that’s another issue for another bullet-point. 
  1. Smiling and compliments sometimes yield gifts.  Overall, it felt like every request was an imposition on the folks at the hotel.  Maybe that’s because gratuities are included in just about all the service industries we utilized over there.  Regardless of their performance as servers/front desk agents/cab drivers/bellmen, they’re earning money.  And because of strong unions, they are NOT losing their job.  So the kind of suspicious squint of “what do you want now” was a hard blocker to get through. In fact, I’d just said that the Bahamians in Nassau were just really suspicious.  By the second interaction, they warmed up.  I’m going to credit my dimpled smile and peas and rice bungy for a little more openness though. Getting change back from the hotel bar for my drink purchase, I ended up with Bahamian ten-cent coins.  They’re so damned cute.  Shiny silver coins with scalloped edges and adorable images like starfish on them.  I oohed and aahed over them saying “oooh, they’re so pretty!” The bartender gave me more.   Okay, this one probably had more to do with number three than anything else.
  1. I really am motion sick. So on this trip, I didn’t ever get into the ocean.  Mostly because I was working in the daylight hours, and at night, I was scared to go out there. I brought my swimsuit and glorious maxi-dress-like cover up, and was bound and determined to use it.  In Eleuthera, I finally had free time at 9pm.  Put on the suit, hit the pool solo and started to swim.  14 minutes in, I was sick.  Sigh. I haven’t gone swimming in like 11 years since trying to do laps at the Bally’s gym in like 2001.  I got dizzy and thought I was going to be sick (and not from the fear of publicly wearing a swimsuit) and this recent occurrence really sealed the deal for me.  Now, even with Dramamine coursing through my veins, I’m just over the beach and tide pulls and waves and stuff. You know, unless I’m looking at it all from the safety and steadiness of the solid ground beneath me.
  1. White people don’t seem to like the shade.  At least the ones I worked with.  It was like, they were having full strategy conversations in high noon Bahamian sunshine on a cloudless day and there was a perfectly good stretch of shade enough for a few people to enjoy a mere two steps away and …nothing.  Conversation just continued apace.  “Screw you, shade, I need a tan!”  Even though some expert on Oprah said because of the high melanin content, black skin the shade of Oprah’s contains a natural SPF of 60, I like the shade.  It’s my friend.  A white Bahamian said that actually my shade-seeking technique of heat management was lacking.  Bahamians seek out both the shade AND a breeze.  Duly noted.  I will step up my heat management game.  But any port in a hot-sticky-humid storm.  So to the shade I went.  But not the other Caucasians. Which is weird considering my fair-skinned co-worker, while slathering on this third application of sunscreen noted that “White skin serves absolutely no purpose.”   
  1. The Bahamas is the second worst place to be when you absolutely have to be somewhere else immediately.  The first of course being the middle seats in the first five rows of the Batman screening in Aurora, Colorado. 

Too soon? 

“Island Time” puts “Colored People Time” to shame.   Getting out of the Bahamas was so problematic, but kind of par for the course considering no one on any of those 700 islands seemed to have any sort of sense of urgency.  “No problem, man” translated: “I’ll get to it when I’m done with this conversations/cigarette/Goombay Punch.”  Our production manager had more than a few run-ins with the super-friendly people of Nassau.  The bellmen who didn’t want to make $20 to help him take gear upstairs, the cabbies who didn’t want to make $20 to drive him to the next terminal at the airport so he didn’t have to walk when the “every few minutes” shuttle wasn’t shuttling by, or (and this one’s my fave) the guy hired to drive around our equipment in Eleuthera who arrived 45 minutes late for his call time heard, “man, you’re late” latey-o’s response was “yeah, man.”  Hang on, folks, lemme get this right.  You don’t want to make extra money while doing your JOB?  Uh….okaaaay.  I just don’t understand how your whole nation’s economy depends on tourism, but you missed the number one and two points of good service: being your word and punctuality/timeliness.  Dummies. Perhaps it has to do with that heat and humidity.  Motion=sweating.  And those folks don’t seem to sweat. At all.  (They also seem to have a distaste for air-conditioning and ceiling fan usage.  I can’t count the number of rooms I entered that had to be about 80+ degrees with ceiling or floor fans sitting there motionless.  Then again, my overuse of energy is probably why the hotel charged an additional $10 a day for its usage.)  By the time I was leaving the Island—and lemme tell you, I think the gang on LOST had an easier time of leaving their island than I did (more on that in a second)—I was OVER it.  I was over being black and sharing these conspiratorial looks with the black Bahamians when something was delivered late.  It seemed like the looks were like “oh, you get it.”   Uh, nope.  I don’t.  I’m white-people-punctual.  I arrive 30 minutes early for movies to get the seat I want.  Like ol’ boy in Drumline says  “when you’re on time, you’re late.”  Bahamas, y’all need to get like me.  #justsayin

  1. I get why tourists visit McDonald’s and TGIFridays overseas.  On this trip, I wanted local cuisine, the dishes the Bahamas were famous for.  Running a close second would be food I couldn’t get in the US.   Some of the foods – cole slaw, mac-n-cheese done casserole style – were instant favorites since they were prepared in what I thought was the Southern way, but might be more an offshoot of slavery, so more with an African influence.  #Thanksslavery!  While in the islands, I had fried grouper, peas and rice, cole slaw, conch salad shots, peas and rice, grouper, marinated sardines, peas and rice, cole slaw, macaroni and cheese, cracked conch & fries, more cracked conch and fries, peas and rice…you see where this is going.  By day four, I was literally conched out.  No más!  I didn’t actually hit the McDonald’s but I understood why the line at the KFC was out the door. 
  1. I look famous.  Two people asked me and one was a US Customs agent.  I thought it was some kind of question meant to reveal something about my actual dealings in the Bahamas.  Then I mentally slapped myself for such thoughts.  Really.  I watch too much Locked Up Abroad.  And yes, I am famous.  And no, you can’t have an autograph.
  1. I hate sweating.  It makes me feel fat.  Plus it does nothing to ease anyone’s concern for your well-being.  And ya know what else?  Makes Customs Agents take an extra interest in your nervous-lookin’ ass.
  1. I hate traveling.  Not being in new places or seeing new things, but the journey.  I fricken H-A-T-E the journey.  In the span of six hours, the Governors Harbour and Nassau airports undid all the goodwill their compatriots had been earning in the name of the Bahamas.  Return trip was awful.  Here are the beats:
    1. Slept through my alarm and shot up at 8am for an 8:45 call time.  Skipped the shower in order to pack up the room and get to the meeting point.
    2. Arriving at the airport by 10 because we were told we could leave earlier on the chartered flight we’d hired.  Didn’t leave until 12pm.  Here’s where the no-A/C policy kicks in.  Decide it’s cooler when you just sit and try to stay as still as possible. Oh, our “chartered” flight was for 11a.  No problem, man, my ass.
    3. My bags not making it onto my flight (there were 13 of us on a 19-seater plane and yet four of us were missing luggage…I know, I know, weight allowances and Aaliyah, I get it….), then being told they’d be “on the next flight out of Governor’s Harbour.”  That phrase would be repeated over 5 times.
    4. The first two planes had nothing luggage-wise for a friend.  He was so pissed, he spoke aloud the phrase that would have gotten him arrested in the US: I will blow up this whole fucking island. Clearly, he has lost his mind due to heat and frustration.
    5. Speak with Tenaco who assures us the bags are coming.  Come back and he’s gone.  This new chick has us fill out missing baggage paperwork.
    6. A different co-worker, wisely recognizing that these people are beyond wack, is standing firm.  He’s not leaving Nassau without his bags because he knows he will never see them again.  Our flight is at 6:30. International flights require that travelers arrive 2 hours ahead to go through security, customs.  We’re pushing it by waiting, but my friend wants to wait until 4:30p.  I try to remind him that getting to the other terminal will eat into that time.  My friend checks in on his laptop; at least they know he’s still intending to take that flight (I checked in the night before).
    7. Bags finally arrive at 4:15pm.  Anthony the baggage handler takes the brunt of my abuse about how I hate the ENTIRE Bahamas.  Later, I will warn my co-workers not to make eye contact because I’m going to take it as a sign of aggression.  I was angry at anyone smiling at me.
    8. Head outside to wait on the shuttle to the international terminal.  And wait.  Anthony gets the stinkeye.
    9. Get to International terminal, check in, get through US customs only to find that our flights are all delayed.  All the co-workers who left the baggage-less in the dust were sitting in a bar pounding down drinks that were nuclear reactor core green.  After checking in for the 6:30 flight out of Nassau, the journey back to Miami and then on to LAX began. 
    10. Arrived in LA at 11:30pm.  After getting luggage, the car at the airport parking lot, and driving my co-worker/neighbor home, I walked in my door at 1am

There was FUCKALL pleasant about that trip.  Although the male flight attendant on the MIA to LAX leg was making me smile by asking for my autograph.  Still, I don’t want to see a plane for a while.

That’s it.  The big trip summed up for your enjoyment.  Now, can a sistah just get a freakin’ pedicure to relax?


Love on Lockdown
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I’m a screener.  Since meeting my friend Crystal and then getting the co-sign from Sex and the City girl about town, Carrie Bradshaw, I’ve given myself permission to NOT pick up the phone.  Instead, I just allow the answering machine to do its job – even when I’m home.  It’s a little like having a butler who handles the nuisance of a ringing phone for me. 

Annoying?  Only if you aren’t aware of my policy.  Or if you’re calling me with an emergency. 

Perhaps it’s equally annoying to the inmates of 713-981-0098. 

Yes, I said “inmates.” 

On April 7th, right before I was heading out, I got a call from this number.   The outgoing message announced that it was an invitation to accept a collect call from “Men’s Central Jail” and instructed me on which number to press to accept the charges.  The caller sounded like his name was “Martin.”  I didn’t recognize the name or the voice and quickly scrolled through my mental contacts list to see if anything pinged for me – basically, "which males do I know that would call me from lockup?"   The usual suspects knocked off the list, I decided this was a wrong number.  Wrong numbers happen to me all the time and since I’d learned that accepting the charges for the call would run around $4.00 a minute, I figured it was nothing for me to worry about.

Then the phone rang again.  This time?  Instead of leaving his name, this inmate left a hurried message: Please pick up. 
Then again. I miss you, baby.
Ruh-roh.
The messages continued like that until I had seven new messages from this stranger. Including a whopper: I love you, baby.

And then the sympathy set in for the man on the other end of that phone who was trying like hell to reach his “baby.”  Dude’s locked up AND his girl’s not calling him back?  That’s gotta be a double-ouch, fo’ sho’. 

On the next call on April 8th, I pick up.  I’ll suck up the $4 expenditure to let love live.
I pick up and hear a low voice say “hello?” 
My response: you are calling the wrong number.
Him: what?
Me: You are calling the wrong number.

Him: Jessica?
Me: You are calling the wrong number.
Him: ...oh.  Oh.   (beat)  So how are YOU?
Me: Goodbye.

And with a hard roll of my eyes, I hang up.  Yet the calls keep coming.  If you think I was screening before, I’ve upped the security around here.  Just last night, I got a call at 12:30am!  WTF happened to “lights out?”  Don’t these boys have a freakin’ bedtime? 

My friends are telling me this could lead to a fine romance.  I could be the next subject on Prison Wives  and Lady Gaga’s Telephone could be our song. 
Part of me wants to block calls from that number, the other part is having too much fun with this!  Will the messages get funnier?  More worthy of an update to people on the web?   To make an informed decision, I Googled the telephone number of Global Tel Link, the service who’s routing these calls from the uber-generic-sounding  “Men’s Central Jail” to my answering machine.  Turns out Global Tel Link  legitimately routes calls like these from prisons all over the nation.   Unfortunately for many, some of the prisoners aren’t as legitimate. 

Scam alert, kids!

Scam- and rumor-busters at Snopes.com had an informative post about the motivations behind calls from unknown inmates:

Here is the summary: The scammer may instruct the victim to "Dial 72 and then 890-6789," a sequence which activates the call-forwarding feature for the victims phone number and tells the phone company to forward all calls placed to 345-1234 to 890-6789 instead. The scammer can then instruct acquaintances all over the world to call him collect at 345-1234 (or to place third-party calls to anywhere in the world and bill them to 345-1234) the scammer can approve all these charges (because all calls placed to 345-1234 are being forwarded to his phone), but the owner of 345-1234 is the one on the hook for paying for them (because they were forwarded through his number).

The forwarding will continue until the victim issues instructions to cancel it if the victim doesnt receive many incoming calls, he may not even notice something is amiss until he receives his next phone bill and spots the unauthorized charges for hundreds (or thousands) of dollars. (Of course, this scheme only works if the victim had previously signed up for the call-forwarding option with his phone service provider. And although 72 is the sequence most commonly used for call forwarding, some phone service providers may use different sequences.)

The best way to avoid falling victim to this scam is the obvious one: never activate your call forwarding feature at the request of someone you dont know. Only forward your calls when you want them to go somewhere else.

Surprise, surprise.  Even within the walls of a jail or prison, inmates can still scam and commit crimes.  Whodathunkit?   A friendly at http://www.numberinvestigator.com/713981 pointed out that Global Tel Link has also posted a warning about these practices.  Global Tel Link has a system in place to add a telephone number to a block call list which will ensure that one doesn't receive calls from prisoners.  The company can be reached at 877-650-4249.

Looks like a good “call block the cell block” plan is about to go into effect.  Eh, it was fun while it lasted.  And at least I now have recorded proof of the "love" that has been coming my way...
 

I don't have the original recordings, but had so much fun telling the story, I wanted to do a little video of some of the messages I'd managed to save. 

 

 

*Shazam!

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First One's Free
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camshazam

Lemme give you a little background: I have a cat.  No, it's not just because I'm over 30 and single (:: rimshot!::), but it's because I find that taking care of something other than myself is vital to my development as a human being.  Even if that thing is a seven-pound hair bomb with a penchant for destroying couches.  

I chose a cat because I'm a dog person, but find that the type of work I do and residence I've set up wouldn't really allow for a happy experience for either the dog or for me.   Enter the happiness that hit my life when I discovered FooPets.com.  There, I could adopt a photo-realistic cat or dog that would eat, drink, play catch, and be groomed. 

Basically, I just got a Tamagotchi digipet, but with a little more pizzazz.

 
On September 16, 2009, I happily adopted a male boxer I named "Swayze" after the beloved (Dirty Dancing, The Outsiders) actor. Found by a Roadhouse, this playful pup is the only kind of dog you need on a Red Dawn, plus, he might be an Outsider, but he’s perfect for a busy bee like me. Besides, nobody puts Swayze in a corner.  Over time, I adopted two more pets, a male vampire-teeth-baring Nebelung cat named "Mr. Pointy" and a beagle named "Popcorn."   

   

This site made taking care of a pet important – the expectation was that a user took care of their pet at least once a day.  The FooMojo team even introduced a desktop application so pet care would be easier and a mobile app that really made things breezy for me when I was away from home.

The FooPets world operated on currency called FooGems or FooDollars.  Gems could be earned by playing video games (Petris! Yarn Barn!) or doing nice things for your pet or the pets of others.  FooDollars could be purchased and earned through accepting deals offered by third party companies.  Earn 50 FooDollars by signing up for eMusic.com!   Those dollars and gems were then used to purchase food for pets as well as background scenes and items to populate the scene.  Others used the in-world currency to buy breeding licenses to yep, breed the pets and sell the puppies or kittens. 

Over time, I’d climbed out of the “Foobie” ranks and achieved the stats of a FooGuardian.  I enjoyed it and liked checking on my digipets and even though options were presented to spend my real-world money in this digital world, there were still many ways to enjoy the site for free.

Then this morning, I get an email that I think is a joke.  After doing a little investigation, I see that it’s not.   

Starting on April 26, 2011, FooPets will be a subscription only service. If you are not a paid subscriber of ClubFoo or ClubFoo Plus, you will need to subscribe in order to continue accessing FooPets. We are offering both recurring and non-recurring subscription options at different price points in an effort to make ClubFoo accessible to our community.

More information on their website reveals:

This was a difficult decision for FooPets to make since all of our users are very important to us. We would love to continue offering FooPets as a free service, but unfortunately must switch to a strictly subscription model so that we can provide even better service and overall experience to all of our members. We appreciate all the support and love you've shown us over the years and we really hope that you'll continue to be part of this community. Thank you for understanding.

Understanding, eh?  Here's what I get.  I get that this is a site geared for children.  Sure, it’s a waste of time to feed and care for an unfeeling digital pet.   So what if Ron Hornbaker, the creator of FooPets was arrested and served time for blackmail and fraud?   I finally had a dog and was happily chugging along, making sure to get online “friends” to even help with his caretaking if I wasn’t available to do so.

Today’s revelation feels like the longest con, and that I was the unwitting participant in a two-year long “bait and switch.”

I am not happy right now.

When I read my email, I was immediately reminded of the drug dealer hanging out on the school’s playground: “first one’s free…”

I have a big mouth.  So I posted a few things on my FooPets profile, then at their Facebook site (which I almost wrote as “Farcebook”…hmmm) and now am making my concerns heard here. 

 
An Open Letter to the Team at FooPets.com

After two years of caring for my digital pets on a daily basis, this site is going strictly "pay." April 26th, the site I have visited since 2009 will now only be available for a subscription of $4.99/month or $9.99/month.

What all of this actually means is that I'm going to uninstall this program from my desktop, wipe it off my mobile phone and erase all existence of this site from my laptop's cache.

Now that your company's profile has been increased by news stories, facebook and the very users who freely gave of their time to earn FooDollars and FooGems on your site (many of us earning FD's by entering into agreements with 3rd party outlets), now that you have built a significant web presence on the backs of a base of devoted users-users like me who showed up each day to feed, water, play with, protect against fleas, groom and then WALK our digital pets collecting their digital poop and now, now you move to a model in which people have to pay to interact with a digital pet.

How convenient.

I'd say I'm angry, but this is just par for the course. Shine the turd any way you want to, FooPets, this decision is not about offering a higher quality of service to your existing users, it's about making money.

On April 27th, I hope your business model proves to be wrong.
On April 27th, I hope you all awaken to discover that your subscriber numbers have dropped.
On April 27th,
I hope all those "Like" button clickers over at facebook unclick that button

In short, I hope you fail.

Deuces.

Maybe this isn't the most articulate letter ever written.  Fine.  Here's how it all shakes down in my book, people, if you’re offering a free service, keep it free, assholes. (I'm lookin' at you, LiveJournal….)

 

*Shazam!
who is currently hugging her real-life purring kitty, so there!

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Leave of Absence
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Hi y'all -

Due to some other commitments, I must take a break from posting until April. 







...I'm giving you a moment to wipe away your tears and collect yourself.  It's okay.  I understand and mirror your feelings.


Better?
Good.


I'll be back then with more commentary on current events, pop culture and riffs on conversations I've had with my dad.   Who knows,in the down time, I might finally be able to articulate my complete and utter disdain for the Food Network cooking show  Down Home with the Neely's
blech
blech.
 
Or maybe I'll build up the boldness to share old-school photos documenting the changes I've been through with my hair.
hair don't
yes, this makes sleeping a b*tch!


Whatever the topic, it'll be back and poppin' fresh in April. 

See y'all then!



*Shazam!

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WTF: Atkins' New Pitch (wo)Man
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Happy New Year!  

Even if you didn’t have a calendar, there are certain signs that we’ve reached another first month of a new year.  That’s January, y’all.   No, it’s not lakes frozen over with ice.   It’s not even groundhogs seeing shadows  (mainly because that happens in February, dear reader).  Nope!  Nothing in nature tells you the calendar page has turned, quite like good’ ol’ commercials on the boob tube.  Commercials for fitness plans, exercise equipment, lap-band surgery and weight-loss plans (New Year, New You! boasts the Jenny Craig ads). 

This includes the barrage of ads from popular low-carb diet, Atkins.   Here’s the latest ad I saw:

Atkins is a great weight-loss plan that has helped many people drop weight and keep it off.  It’s a perfect plan if you like to eat steak and eggs.  What makes me scratch my head is the pitch (wo)man. 

Courney Thorne-Smith?

Um, say what?  

Courtney Thorne-Smith, star of Two and a Half Men has a lovely figure.  She's so small, she even appears thin on television, which is notorious for adding ten pounds to those being filmed.  Courtney is also the former star of Ally McBeal, a Fox show from 1997 starring stick-skinny Calista I’m-With-Han-Solo Flockhart. 
Perhaps many Atkins folks have short memories, but I don’t. Thorne-Smith’s run on Ally McBeal was ended when she couldn’t deal with the pressure to be skinny anymore.   

The former star of Ally McBeal tells US Weekly that the pressure to be thin ultimately led her to quit the Fox dramedy. "I started undereating, overexercising, pushing myself too hard and brutalizing my immune system," the 33-year-old actress says. "The amount of time I spent thinking about food and being upset about my body was insane."

 

Whatchoo talkin' 'bout, Courtney 
Whatchoo talkin’ bout, Courtney?


Pardon me being so inarticulate on this point, but I’m only able to utter 80’s sitcom catchphrases about this.  Do I really want a bulimic or exercise bulimic selling me a diet, er weight-loss program? 

Chick’s still skinny, no doubt, but having her hock a diet plan is kind of like Oil of Olay using black, Asian and Latina models to sell their age-defying skincare products. 

Yaya don't use this product

I promise you, the women in these ads didn’t use Oil of Olay anything to get that gorgeous skin, likewise, I’m pretty damned sure Courtney didn’t use Atkins to get skinny.  She may use it now ‘cause something tells me these advertisers hooked ol’ girl up with some vouchers, but her admission tells us being thin wasn’t about Atkins. 
 

Perhaps her compulsions are under control and she’s letting us know that Atkins helped her get there.  Perhaps I'm all confused because I’m not forgiving.  Okay, not “perhaps”, but “probably”, but y’all, I still call bullshit and am more than a little insulted by the irresponsibility of this advertising campaign.   What next? 

 

Hi, I’m Michael Richards asking you to give to the United Negro College Fund.

Um,...whaaaa?


*Shazam!

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Cinematic Wrap Up 2010
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Somewhere between continuing to add items to my Amazon Wish List and catching up on my latest RSS Blog feeds, I stumbled across a posting of this video.  It's a mash-up of "every movie released in 2010." 

I'm not sure who did the fact-checking on this, but I'm just gonna trust that a Tyler Perry movie made it in this cut.   This kind of reminds me of those year-end "rap"ups this guy Skillz would do of R&B and hip hop music that had come out that year, as well as any beef/news/current events.  I have an mp3 of the one from 2002 (apparently, the first he'd ever done) and it's like a little time capsule of awesome and even more of "what the heck is he talking about.  That was eight freakin' years ago."   Here's the one for 2009.

Watch it for yourself and enjoy the buttload of work this SleepySkunk person put into such a thing.  And hit me up if you're not the only person who's convinced in 3:54 that Hollywood isn't the whitest. place. ever.   Big ups to Craig Robinson (Hot Tub Time Machine) and Jaden Smith (The Karate Kid) getting some black-people-face-time in this video.


*Shazam!



Holiday Warning: Beware Public Enemy #432
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Seasons Greetings, Y'all - 

The holiday season is here in full swing.  Many might use any down time to take in a festive feature film.  A word to the wise.  Before you go, beware the latest run-in I had with a silent but deadly foe…


…wait, not so deadly, but definitely pretty damned annoying.

 

Public Enemy # 432: Kicky McKickenstein

Hey you.  Guy with the restless leg syndrome.  Yeah, you.  The one with your feet on the back of my chair at the movies*.  That’s great that you’re all anxious about Tron: Legacy, but can we try not telegraphing that boundless enthusiasm for rehashed material to me via my seatback?   

Or you could just, I dunno, take something for that.      take a chill pill  
“Thanks,” she said with all the drippy sarcasm she could muster.

(*McKickenstein also appears on cross-country airplanes and sporting events.)

Keep your feet offa my seat, Thumper.

Perhaps I’m sensitive to this stuff because I suffer from motion-sickness and don’t need any kind of rocking, especially when I expect to be sedentary.  Or maybe I’m extra-vigilant because I live in Southern California and sudden tremors trigger my flight response.   Either way, I don’t like being jostled and think I have a right to my space, which naturally extends to the chair in which I’m, to be a jiggle-free zone. 

I just don’t get why Kicky McKickenstein is not only super-anxious, but also super-dense.  Really?  No awareness at all that your fidgety shifting and bumping and Thumper-like tapping might be grating?  Really?  No awareness that your foot is making contact with something in front of you and that said something contains a human being complete with senses that will feel and possibly be disturbed by you?

I get it when I’m on that flight to Atlanta (and that little kid behind me is swinging those legs and kicking and needs to be told to KNOCK IT THE FRICK OFF, but you, Kicky?  You are an adult.  A big boy.  At what point does a turned head or a passive-aggressive hard shove from the seat back of the person sitting in front of you not give you enough notice that what you’re doing is annoying?  I guess someone has to spell it out for you sometime.  Fine.  That someone will be played by me and that sometime is now.

Ahem. 

You are allowed to be nervous, anxious, excited and restless. 
You are not allowed to continually kick my chair while feeling all those things.  Got it?
As many a mom has said, “Feet are for the floor.”
Don’t make me cut you.

Knock It Off 


*Shazam!


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New Movie: Waiting for "Superman"
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So, I just saw the documentary, Waiting for "Superman."   It's directed by the same person who did Al Gore's film An Inconvenient Truth.  I can guarantee that this is a film that after seeing it, you will be changed. 

The film deals with the failings of the public school system, and in the midst of all that failure, the system has surprising levels of achievement in creating “Dropout factories."  Yay!   The documentary shows us how public charter schools Like Geoffrey Canada's Harlem Children's Zone (yeah, the guy you saw in the American Express commercials!) dodge bureaucracy to produce high-achieving students even in some of the most money-deficient neighborhoods.   That’s “poor”, y’all.  Most importantly, we see how the looming fear of being swept up into this mess is affecting the young lives of students in New York and California: Anthony, Bianca, Francisco, Daisy and Emily.

I really loved the film.

I loved that it echoed a few stories I'd heard on NPR's hit show This American Life about "teacher rubber rooms," the frustration of progressive teachers and it highlighted the successes of schools that got around district rules and red tape in order to positively impact their students.  I love that it echoed that stunning season of drama provided by The Wire in its fourth season.  More than anything, I love that it pointed out something my mom, a public school science teacher, noted about five or six years ago - that "no child left behind" is crap. 

No wonder Oprah devoted a whole episode to this film.   On her website, there’s a video response from the national teacher’s union that’s worth checking out since we want to keep things fair and balanced.  Draw your own conclusions about the boogie-monsters identified in this film, but you will be moved.

I’m the product of a public school education.  I went on to a great university and am (sometimes) a fully-functioning member of society.  I’m also the product of having two of the pushiest parents who made sure my achievements weren’t held back by lazy, mean or dismissive teachers and education administrators.  Then again, there were whizzes I had in the classroom.  Ms. Cason and Ms. Boland…. Ms. Thames, Ms. Johnson, Mr. Zvornac and Mrs. Hershey (hooray for the school store!!) in junior high school.  Ms. Ivey who broke her back to teach me calculus (of which I remember jack squat), Senor Castaneda and Ms. West.  And I can’t forget the band instructors who essentially taught me fractions: Mr. Puckett and Dr. Swor.   These folks took over the reins for my parents in the daytime and at night, my parents bolstered their efforts at our home.

Were there bad apples along the way?  Absolutely.  I’ve been humiliated in front of a class by a teacher who told me I was a “disgrace to my race,” thunked in the head by a teacher, and given countless marks of being “distracting” when talking in class.  No one escapes high school unscathed.  No one escapes from bullies, even if those bullies stand at the chalkboard.  Not even the nerd who played flute in the band and managed to bust up the curve on science exams. 

Watching this film, I get how lucky I was. 

Judge for yourself.  Invite your friends to the film and continue the discussion.

For show times and actions you can take:

http://www.waitingforsuperman.com/action/

 

*Shazam!

Baby-Makin'--, nope, Baby-SHAKIN'-Music
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Here I was, minding my own business whilst clicking around the Miss Manners column over at the online pages of the venerable newspaper: The Washington Post.  After reading the most recent etiquette column answering if it is acceptable to consume soup with a teaspoon (nyet, vile heathen!), something in a sidebar caught my attention.  It was a lovely little blurb that represented some trending topic about Facebook and I, being a one-person champion for those of us not so digitally linked, just had to click it.

Florida mother pleads guilty to killing baby after crying interrupted her game of "Farmville."

The Associated Press
Thursday, October 28, 2010; 3:29 PM

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A north Florida mother has pleaded guilty to shaking her baby to death after the boy's crying interrupted her game on Facebook.

Alexandra V. Tobias pleaded guilty to second-degree murder on Wednesday and remains jailed.

The Florida Times-Union reports that she told investigators she was angered because the boy was crying while she was playing the game FarmVille.

The paper also reports that she told investigators she shook the boy, smoked a cigarette to compose herself and then shook him again.

She will be sentenced in December. State guidelines call for 25 to 50 years, but a prosecutor said it could be shorter than that.

A telephone message and an e-mail sent by The Associated Press to her attorney weren't immediately returned.

Information from: The Florida Times-Union,http://www.jacksonville.com




Yes, folks, it's another Facebook-related crime.  So it's not enough that posting status updates about its lack of occupancy can lead burglars
straight to your home.  Now, obsession with Facebook games can spiral out into murder?  This one goes in the "Is it really that serious? Really" file. That Farmville game must be a real mutha!

I beg of you, Florida judicial authorities, please throw the book at this woman when she faces sentencing in December.  Suggested additional punishments - kind of like a garnish to the main course of prison time:

give out her name, lift any restrictions and allow anonymous Internet folk to post comments to her on her wall.  Opportunities like this are honey to cyber-bullying bees!  Let them do their worst

gift her with a cell mate who is obsessed over playing Farmville.  Affix a shock collar to Mommie Dearest so that with a push of a button, she yells out at inopportune moments in gameplay...

...and after kooky stuff like this report and this, you still wonder why I don't get an account....
 


*Shazam!
 
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Bad TV Gets Good Spoof (Rachel Zoe)
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I cannot stand The Rachel Zoe Project.  High off of watching every season of Project Runway (on Bravo), I figured watching a fashion stylist to the stars at work would be another win for me.  Nooooooooope. 

Vapid.  Self-involved.  Depressingly skinny.  
And that was just Brad!

Seriously, I literally would get sick to my stomach hearing the grate of Rachel's voice, what couture she would die for and what alleged disaster was bananas.  My eyes would itch looking at her bedhead and OlsenTwins fashion aesthetic I just did not get.  I know we generally say things like "she's so skinny, she could wear anything," but the garbage bag clothing I think she hangs on her gangly frame is really pushing the envelope.  
ew
Ew.

Within mere moments of watching, I went "not for me."  

Mercifully, I'd watched enough of it to get the jokes in this hilarious send-up of Rachel Zoe's show from the folks at the B-Side BlogAll you need to know is Rachel loves fashion, has two assistants who also love fashion, a doormat of a husband who knows his wife's career comes first and rumors of a pregnancy. 

IMO, the spoof far outranks the show in quality and yuk-yuks:



*Shazam!

New Movie: Hereafter. a.k.a. "Blech. Take me now, sweet Jesus"
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F*ck Clint Eastwood.

   and I mean that sh*t

Sorry to greet you with such harshness, but 12 hours later, I’m still upset about my most recent movie-going experience.

MILD SPOILERS AHEAD (unless you watched the trailer)

Courtesy of the good people at Warner Bros, I attended a pre-release screening of Dirty Harry’s Clint Eastwood's newest film, Hereafter. It’s a drama that follows three parallel stories in San Francisco, London and Paris about how three characters are affected by death.  George (Matt Damon) is a psychic who can actually communicate with the dead, therefore his life is super lonely because the dead cannot keep secrets.  Marie (Cécile de France, isn’t that a great name?  I’m changing mine to "Camshazam of America."  Just sounds like a title and less like a name, no?) is a French television journalist who miraculously survives a tsunami.  And twins Marcus and Jason (Frankie and George McLaren) are the only support for each other dealing with a junkie mom.  Bryce Dallas Howard and Jay Mohr also show up in this picture.  I’d love to say nice things about them, but I’m not gonna.

 

I’m not mad about the lack of black people in his latest film: Hereafter -- shoutouts to Jenifer Lewis for her one scene and for not playing a shrew! -- I’ll leave that to madder’nhell folks like Spike Lee.   What I’m upset over, violently so, I might add, is just how freaking indulged Eastwood is as a director.  And for what?  A story that actually ends up going nowhere. The film only runs 126 minutes, but good googly-moogly, I felt like I was watching back-to-back director’s cuts of all three Lord of the Rings flicks, you know, but minus the pesky anything-at-all-happening.  Oh, what’s that word they use in Hollywoodland?  Action!  That’s it.  This movie had verrrrry little action.  So my butt got bored fast.  In fact, anytime something exciting happened, Eastwood would put the film on ice and just bring you all the way back down to a resting heart rate again.  It was as if he dreaded allowing anything to happen to these characters.  In my mind, I can hear him soothing the audience like scared children, “hush, don’t worry, that will never happen again.  Only one bad thing can happen to each main character in my movie.” 

This feels like yet another offering of Clint Eastwood’s that proves his star power and less of his skill with the edit button.  My email to a friend last night:

I wish I was on "the other side" right now from that slow-assed movie.  Someone needs to point out to director, Clint Eastwood that he's not obligated to include every frame of film he shoots.  In fact, movies are best served with aggressive editing of the indulgent and or unnecessary.  sheesh. 

I skipped a real dinner for this?

This is exactly the kind of experience that has me dive gut-first into a tub of the most fattening fried comfort foods available.  Not because the movie was so emotionally charged, but because it was like an endurance run challenge on Survivor or MTV’s Real World/Road Rules Gauntlet.  I went into the movie pawing around for tissues, mentally kicking myself for walking into a film about death and the afterlife and what does it all mean-ness of it all sans Kleenex.  In my case, those tissue went unneeded.  Every time I was close to feeling something for someone, they got hit by some stealthy sneak-attack car.  Or Clint would have some god-awful overplucked guitar string music cue that happened that just snatched me right outta the moment.  Instead of crying, my friend Jason and I ended up committing several types of imaginary suicides during this film.   

It’s official, Clint and I are over.  I have to say no más to the films he directs.  I can’t take it.  My bored butt can’t take it.  I’ve given this guy a lot of shots: Gran Torino (cooler car than a movie), Changeling (Angelina Jolie on roller skates?), Letters from Iwo Jima (a LOT of reading), Flags of Our Fathers (how can you have all that action and still be bored?), Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (snoring in Savannah), The Bridges of Madison County (will NOT watch this thing).  I can pull out one or two good scenes from each of these movies, but as far as actually liking an entire Eastwood picture?  That ended with Million Dollar Baby and Mystic River

Clint, perhaps the economists who study films are right.  We do like simple action and straight-ahead storytelling.  Perhaps it’s time to let the machines do the work of writing and directing films.  Now, in retaliation for the time-suck of this film, I now must destroy in the most violent way possible, my screening copy of Invictus I don’t care how good it is, me and Clint are done.  O-V-E-R. 

...at least until the next Oscar season.  (I see you’re in pre-production on Hoover,Clint,)

Observations:

Bryce Dallas Howard looks like an alien sometimes.  No?  She’s very pretty and did some nice work in the film.

 

When did Jay Mohr’s hairline and jawline get so jacked up?  I remember loving this guy as a charming videographer in Picture Perfect.  Now?  He just looks like the guy who’s always going to get cast as the sleazeball.  Seriously, the dude rocks a leather blazer in San Francisco.  Is that even allowed?


 
*Shazam!


Writer's Block: MAKE IT STOP!
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What was the last song you couldn't get out of your head no matter how hard you tried?

The Bed Intruder song from The Gregory Brothers and Antoine Dodson.


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