Friday, December 12, 2008

Five Things from FFFFOUND!

(This is gonna be the new Friday feature. I'll post five images from FFFFOUND! for your viewing pleasure. You're welcome.)

1. Barbie Hair

2. Food Chain

3. Morning Coffee in Winter

4. Childhood

5. Faith

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Five Things you Cannot (Should Not) Fuck Wit

1. The Space-Time Continuum

If there's one thing we've learned from science fiction, it's NOT to fuck with the space-time continuum. Sure, time travel sounds like a great idea, in theory. But think about it. Was Sam happy? Yes, Sam from Quantum Leap. Was he? No, he was miserable, bouncing to and fro through time and space, all in an attempt to correct the wrongs of the past. Remember when he leaped into the body of that retarded kid? Do you really think that's what he hoped for when he started experimenting with physics? I seriously doubt it. He was the Sisyphus of String Theory. Learn from his example.

2. Single Moms

We're total fucking badasses. We get more done before 9am then you can muster in your entire pathetic day. We can make breakfast AND lunch simultaneously in less than six minutes. We are always prepared with snacks, wet wipes and succinct answers to our childrens' existensial quandaries. We own the PTA, the grocery store and we're goddamn professionals at reusing, reducing and recycling. If the world were to whither away in a crushing apocalypse, the only people left standing will be single moms and their resourceful-as-fuck children, with a death grip on Glad zipper bags full of tiny tubes of toothpaste, safety pins, band-aids, trail mix, extra pairs of gloves and underwear, and, of course, enough legos to build a brand new house out of.

3. Israel (aka The Jews)

I have to say, I laughed my ass of when, before the election, people started spreading rumors about how Obama was anti-Israel. Ninja, please. Do you really think a Harvard-educated, liberal elite, Smarty McBrainypants like Barack Obama is gonna fuck with The Jews? Hell to the no.


Easy. He's smart. And smart people don't fuck with Israel. Especially when they're running for president of the United States. And, no, I'm not trying to say that people who fuck with Israel are stupid. I'm not even saying Israel doesn't deserve to be fucked with. I'm just sayin' Israel has guns and bombs and money. Lots and lots of guns and bombs and money. And those resources are all pooled for one cause-- protecting their faith (which, is in fact, their culture.) In America, we have guns and bombs, yes. But is our nationalism as strong as their shared faith? Nope. That's why you don't fuck with The Jews. Because a flag is not as valuable to anyone as a ticket to heaven.

4. Omar

I'm only into Season Two of The Wire, but I know this much: Don't fuck with Omar. This dude carries a shotgun, robs drug dealers and sucks dick. He don't give a FUCK. He will ice you down.

5. Crack cocaine.

Whitney and Bobby, Amy and Blake (Formerly) Incarcerated, Pete Doherty and his cat. Their stories are all cautionary tales. Crack is whack. It is not something you "dabble" in. It will, in a short amount of time, turn you into a paranoid-delusional, manipulative, pathetic freak with bad skin and crazy eyes. Put down the pipe. Or better yet, don't ever pick it up.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

FIve Things About LDRs

1. Yes, Long Distance Relationships Suck.

They just do. The only way they can work is if you they're on a timetable. We may not be able to put the war in Iraq on a timetable, but for the Love of Bejeezus, don't enter into an LDR without one.

2. It could be worse.

In my LDR, I found it comforting to check this site, True Military Wives Confessions, often to give me a reality check. These women don't see or hear from their men for months and months at a time. And their men could be blown away by an insurgent at any moment, so it's just nice to get some perspective on things when you're stressing that your S.O. is 500 miles away.

3. Technology helps.

With IM, anything is possible. And there have been some brilliant inventors out there with gadgets that make it better to be so far apart. Examples:
  • The VIO aka Virtual Intimate Object, "a piece of software installed on a user's desktop, displayed only a single red dot. The dot faded to transparent over time, and would redden again only when the other half of the couple clicked on his or her own dot displayed on a computer screen hundreds of miles away."
  • The Hug Shirt that works "when a person wearing the shirt applies pressure to the shirt's millimeter-thick cloth, the shirt captures the strength and location of the pressure with sensors sewn into its fabric and transmits the hug via Bluetooth to a cell phone. Passed as a text message to another phone in another city or country, that text message is translated into vibration and heat in the same location of another Hug Shirt worn by the hug recipient.

Isn't it cute?
  • And of course, Phone Sex. But be warned...

4. Romance is more important than ever.

Luckily, there's a site that will write a romantic love letter for you. You don't even have to be creative. It's like MadLibs! You just fill-in the blanks. What could be easier?!!

(But seriously, if you want the LDR to work, you'll have to beef up on the romance. The impact of sweet, simple, little things sent by regular mail is immeasurable. And it only costs $.42)

5. Don't give up.

The only thing that can keep it going is your desire for it to work. It will take patience, compassion, understanding, selflessness and commitment. If you don't think you possess these characteristics, it's probably best not to attempt an LDR.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Five Things I Love About Kansas City

1. Murray's

Simply the most delicious ice cream on the planet. And you can't get it anywhere but at the shop in KC. Murray, who is actually a woman, and, yes, actually goes by "Murray," knows dairy. She opened the business with her mother in 1984, specializing in homemade ice cream and cookies. Years later, she's expanded to include a coffee bar, made-to-order ice cream cakes and pies, and the best soda fountain treats this side of the Mississippi. You can get a Green River phosphate or an egg cream made to precision. Best flavor of ice cream: hands-down it's the One Drunk Monk, a frangelico ice cream with perfect-sized bits of hazelnut and chocolate espresso flakes. HEAVEN. But she only makes it at the end of the month. Her 200+ flavors rotate regularly.

Murray is notoriously humble and publicity-shy, which hasn't stopped Bon Appetit magazine or Food Network from featuring her desserts. She has refused franchise offers for years, preferring to keep her business a mom-and-pop that doesn't even have a computer on the premises. She cranks out all the ice cream herself on-site and has the carpal-tunnel to prove it. I worked for her at the shop for six summers of my youth. It was the best job I've ever had, working with some of the best people ever to inhabit Kansas City. Soda Jerks 4 Life!

Oh, and Murray's is on Myspace.

2. Downtown always smells like coffee.

Thanks to the Folger's plant that roasts all day and all night at 7th and Broadway.

3. The River Market

The place where every ethnicity and social class in Kansas City converges on the weekends. You can literally eat a different type of ethnic cuisine from its many restaurants every day of the week. I know this because I work a block away and I've done it. And the amount of fruits and veggies you can get for $5 will feed you and a clan for a week. Also, the history of this area is incredibly fascinating. Brothels, political corruption and gangsters, oh my!

4. Driving down Ward Parkway with the windows down on a sunny day.

This is the Wikipedia entry on Kansas City's infamous boulevard of mansions and fountains.

And here's what it looks like on a beautiful Saturday afternoon in Spring. (This one gets a bonus because it includes Cypress Avenue and the voice of host, Bill Shapiro on the radio in the background. Best show on the radio in KC for 25 years.)

5. The Marching Cobras

Seriously, I want these guys to play my funeral.

Here they are performing on the roof of the Downtown Library.

P.S. There are about 20 more things I could have included in this post, including The Foundation, The Westside, The Nelson, and on and was difficult to narrow it down to five. Maybe I'll do a Part II in the future, but for now this will have to suffice.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Five Things about Skanks

Warning: the video clips and photos that follow are slightly NSFW.

1. Does a sex tape make you famous...or do famous people just make a lot of sex tapes?

Earlier this month, headlines screamed about an alleged Marilyn Monroe "sex tape." My first reaction to this news was utter disappointment. I couldn't decide if I was more upset that it existed at all or that someone would sell it for public consumption? And then I wondered, why is it so much more shocking and terrible for an icon like Marilyn Monroe to be caught in a sex act on film than any one of our contemporary sex tape starlets (i.e. Paris Hilton, Kim Kardashian)?

Because Marilyn Monroe represents a time in our culture when selling your sexuality was nuanced, and, arguably, more artful. The idea of Marilyn engaged in fellatio on film just seems wrong on a fundamental level. Her image is inherently associated with class and mystique. And this legacy doesn't make room for the overt type of sex Paris and Kim K. are selling. These girls became famous after their sex tapes surfaced. Marilyn Monroe continues to command fame decades after her death. If this Marilyn film had surfaced at the outset of her career and was shown at every movie house in middle America (the equivalent of the internet then)...would she still have a legacy at all? Would she have ever been exalted to the status she enjoyed during her life? I doubt it. Yet, here we are in 2008 making mainstream stars of people who are profiting from the exploitation of their most intimate moments with past lovers.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to compare Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian to Marilyn Monroe. That'll be a cold day in hell. And the Marilyn film ended up being bogus anyway, but I just think it's an interesting example of the contrast between sexuality in society today compared with 50 years ago. Oh, and apparently Jimi Hendrix has a sex tape now. Which is a whole 'nother talk show.

2. Miley Cyrus is the new Britney Spears is the new Brooke Shields.

Exploiting your kids for profit is not new. It's probably gone on since the beginning of time. That being said, parents walk a fine line when they manage their kids' entertainment careers. They're responsible for guiding the child through the process of becoming famous. And sometimes becoming famous means, unfortunately, selling your sexuality. But is this a symptom of greedy, irresponsible parenting or the logical effect of a society bent on an unhealthy obsession with Lolitas?

Who's to blame for the Vanity Fair/Miley Cyrus/Annie Leibowitz scandal? Should we even be making a big deal out of it? Haven't we been here before?

Britney Spears, then 17, graced the cover of the April 1999 issue of Rolling Stone. Controversy ensued.

*Had to take this image of Brooke Shields in Pretty Baby down because I was getting major traffic through Google image search for "lolitas."*

In 1978, a 12-year-old Brooke Shields did full nude scenes in the historical drama, Pretty Baby. Shock! Horror! But hey it was the seventies...

It's hard to draw any conclusions here considering what happened to Britney didn't happen to Brooke. But let's look at some extreme examples of how this kind of thing can get out of hand.

a. "Teen Model" sites--Yes, underage girls as young as 9 are escorted by their own mothers to the offices of photographers who run these "members only" websites where their daughters are shot dressed in bikinis and posing seductively. And the mothers claim it's a step towards their daughters' success in the entertainment business. I'm not even going to post what these pictures look like, but if you must know, here's an investigative piece from Capitol Hill Blue that includes the shots. (Note: you are not linking directly to one of these sites. Promise.)

b. Fathers who drive their daughters to jobs at brothels--yep, Tyra puts the T in WTF. Here's a clip of a dude who takes his 18-year-old daughter to work at the Moonlight Bunny Ranch in Nevada. Right after HE GIVES HER A BIKINI WAX. Sooooo creepy.
3. But what if you're old enough to know better?

When I was a kid, Madonna was the one pushing everyone's buttons with her SEX book and her album, Erotica. She came from a repressed upbringing in the Catholic church and felt it was her mission to liberate people of their sexual anxieties and to "promote tolerance of sexual diversity."

Here's an interview she did in Europe in 1992 to promote the SEX book/Erotica album.

Now look at Belladonna. She's exactly my age. And she's a hardcore pornstar. Like Madonna, she was raised in the repression of the Mormon church. According to her blog, she's also hoping by doing what she does, she'll open people's minds to being sexually liberated. This is an interview she did in 2003 with Diane Sawyer. PrimeTime Live had been following her since her porn career started when she was 18 and were doing a follow-up on how she's progressed. The real reason for showing this interview is to note what happens about 4 minutes into the interview.

So, what's the difference between Madonna and Belladonna in these interviews?

A 12-year age difference, that's what. Madonna was 34 when the SEX book came out. She'd had enough life experience to deal with her sexuality and to own it. Belladonna was 22 in that interview. I remember being 22 and I know I didn't have the capacity to deal with much. I was always having some kind of identity crisis. And to add a porn career to that would've been irreversibly damaging. Maybe Belladonna has escaped the damage thus far and has moved into a healthier state of mind. I don't know...the only thing that is certain is her porn career is bigger than ever and she's set to become a millionaire at 27. Meanwhile, I'm scraping by paycheck to paycheck, overwhelmed by student loan debt and living on a prayer. Who's the exploited one again?

4. The Skank Effect.

So, what does Science have to say about all this? (Ah, Science. Glory to thee in the highest. We pray to thee.) According to the APA's report from the Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls,
Sexualization occurs when

* a person’s value comes only from his or her sexual appeal or behavior, to the exclusion of other characteristics;

* a person is held to a standard that equates physical attractiveness (narrowly defined) with being sexy;

* a person is sexually objectified—that is, made into a thing for others’ sexual use, rather than seen as a person with the capacity for independent action and decision making; and/or

* sexuality is inappropriately imposed upon a person.

The report goes on to say that in the media, women are more often sexualized than men. This gives many young girls the impression that these models for behavior are appropriate. And there are consequences. Surprise! Here are the highlights:

  • Cognitively, self-objectification has been repeatedly shown to detract from the ability to concentrate and focus one’s attention, thus leading to impaired performance on mental activities such as mathematical computations or logical reasoning.
  • In the emotional domain, sexualization and objectification undermine confidence in and comfort with one’s own body, leading to a host of negative emotional consequences, such as shame, anxiety, and even self-disgust.
  • Research links sexualization with three of the most common mental health problems of girls and women: eating disorders, low self-esteem, and depression or depressed mood.
  • Sexualization of girls has negative consequences in terms of girls’ ability to develop healthy sexuality. Self-objectification has been linked directly with diminished sexual health among adolescent girls (e.g., as measured by decreased condom use and diminished sexual assertiveness.)
  • Girls and young women who more frequently consume or engage with mainstream media content offer stronger endorsement of sexual stereotypes that depict women as sexual objects...They also place appearance and physical attractiveness at the center of women’s value.
  • More general societal effects may include an increase in sexism; fewer girls pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM); increased rates of sexual harassment and sexual violence; and an increased demand for child pornography.

There's more good stuff in this book:

Girls Gone Skank: The Sexualization of Girls in American Culture by Patrice A. Oppliger, available at Amazon.

5. Mommy, I want to be a stripper when I grow up.

I'm not a prude, people. I don't think porn is bad, I don't think strippers are (all) skanks and I owned that Erotica album when I was 12 years old. But I have to say, if I had a daughter, I would not want her goal in life to be a millionaire porn star...or a sexy teenage pop star...or a best-selling sex tape actress. I would support her no matter what, of course, but ohmigod please don't let her think her only assets are her tits and ass. That's what bothers me most. These women are banking on things that will fade, parts that will naturally transition over the years, leaving them to rely on other competencies, skills, etc. I, for one, think Brooke Shields got it right. She got naked and provocative at a young age, but then she went to Princeton. Ditto Jodie Foster. Bottom line: if your daughter wants a life in the spotlight or she's just heavily influenced by those who are in the spotlight, do you drive her to a risque modeling shoot or an acting class where she keeps her clothes on? You make the call. And then think to yourself What Would Brooke Shields Do?

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Five Things about Twitter

1. "Why would anyone want to know what you're doing all the time?"
This is the first thing I thought when I heard about Twitter a year ago. I was skeptical and uninterested. But as of a few months ago, I've become a regular Twit Monkey. I'm still a newb, but I follow about 65 people and roughly 45 people follow me.

So, what is Twitter?

Common Craft makes great instructional videos and this is the one they did on Twitter:

Twitter is a microblog, an instant messenger, a social network and a community all in one place. It's also a backchannel for connecting with influential people in Marketing, PR, Media and Tech. Jeremiah Owyang has a very thorough post on his blog about ways marketers can use Twitter as part of a web strategy.

There are also a ton of apps that have been developed to further advance Twitter's usefulness.

I use TweetScan a lot. You can use it to search words/phrases being tweeted by everyone on Twitter. You can even set up alerts based on these keywords and TweetScan will send you an email digest of all your keyword-related Tweets for that day. I was searching one day for people tweeting about blues music and I came across my new Seattle friend, Anna. She works for Reclaim Media and was converting a BB King live recording and tweeting about it. Through our subsequent tweets, we discovered we may very well be BFFs who've never actually met in real life. And now we have a standing date to drink wine if I ever get myself to Seattle. Thanks, Twitter.

2. Mainstream media's breaking news is sloooooowwww compared to Twitter.

Example: a 5.3 magnitude earthquake happened in February in England. The news was instantly all over Twitter. The BBC didn't have info on the quake until 45 minutes later.

A lot of people on Twitter will "liveblog" an event...sending periodic updates in real-time during the shebang. I twittered the Obama rally at Municipal Auditorium in KC back in January. One of the Twitterers I follow recently twittered the path of a tornado near her town in Oklahoma, apparently providing some of her local Twitter friends with important storm warning info when their power went out and couldn't tune into the local news.

Twitter as a breaking news source has manifested in BreakingNewsOn, a Twitter profile you can follow that tweets breaking news as it happens in 140 characters or less. Which essentially breaks down to streaming headlines. It's proven to be incredibly quick and comprehensive in my experience. Certain headlines they tweet don't make it to broadcast or print for up to two days, if ever.

3. Twitter can often feel like a high school cafeteria.

Ok, let's talk about the Twitter cliques (Twiques?)...these are the groups of A-list bloggers, Web 2.0 PR/marketing types and early adopters who basically run Twitter. They're the popular crowd. They have eleventy billion people following them and in return, they only follow and respond to the upper eschelons of twitterers. I still haven't quite figured out exactly what the criteria is for entering in to this elite club. So far, I've determined you must author a credible, high-traffic blog, be in your thirties or forties, own a Blackberry or a Mac and have very little actual, face-to-face interaction with human beings. Hence being able to twitter and blog and podcast at the rate these people do it. And the fact that I meet none of these criteria might explain why I haven't updated my ultra low-traffic blog in two weeks.

And then there's the shit-talking and gossip. Yeah, big surprise, the popular kids say mean things about each other and spread rumors and go on and on and on and on about how important they are and pat each other on the back all day long. It's pretty boring, but you can't just un-follow them on the small chance they might actually one day let you sit at their table.

4. I kinda wish everyone Twittered.

Imagine what it would be like if everybody in the world was on Twitter. Who would you want to follow? And what would their tweets be like?

Here are some of the tweets I'd like to see:
BretMichaels staring at boobs. it kinda turns me on.
TyraBanks my vagina itches. hmmmm do i smell a topic for my next show?
AmyWinehouse visit @BlakeIncarcerated went smooth. smuggled in some junk in my ballet slipper. shhhhh...
KatieHolmes I ♥ koool-aid. Zenu ftw!
RickAstley blimey! rickrolled again...i fall for it every bloody time.
GaryBusey watercolor soul window doused in flames of beehive buttery sandpaper drivel. it all went up my nose. i'm painting with my nostrils. namaste.
TimGunn What's all this Strum and Draung about Google's announcement?

5. Twitter can make you a better version of yourself.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Five Things I've Learned in My 26th Year

1. My six-year-old son is, hands down, the coolest person I know.

I mean, how could you not be madly in love with this kid?

He cracks me up everyday. Some of his greatest hits?
  • He writes songs with titles like, "Life's So Hard" and "We're All Just Friends." And he really puts thought into the lyrics. He told me if I take a video of him singing his song "Life's so hard" I should be sure to show it to people who are having a rough time because, "it will cheer them up."
  • His dance moves are sick. He has one called The Elevator where he cranks down to the ground to the beat.
  • He declared this week in our household to be "Fashion Week," where we will all have to pose and take pictures of each other.
  • When he turns on the lights in the living room, he precedes the flip of the switch with a dramatic "Lights. Camera..."-flip-"Fashion!"
  • There's a song in my laptop titled "How to Fight Loneliness"...he was looking over my shoulder at it and asked me to pronounce the word 'loneliness.' Then, without missing a beat he goes, "You can't fight loneliness."
  • He owns a still-in-the-box action figure of Princess Leia in her Jabba's Palace bikini.
  • He knows every word to Rehab by Amy Winehouse and emphatically gyrates his pointer finger when the chorus goes, "No, no no..."
  • He has a crush on a girl in his class named Talullah because "she's smart."
  • Once, when we were playing the dozens...just throwing random insults at each other to stretch our imaginations...he called me a "blog."

2. Boundaries are important.

I came to a realization this year that I'm tired of being a victim. Yeah, some crazy shit has happened in my life...some of it as a result of my own choices and some of it at the hands of others. It dawned on me, though, that I've used these negative experiences to justify my most unsavoury behaviors. This breakthrough also helped me realize I can be proactive about this pattern in my life. I can set boundaries with people. I can let them know how far they can go with me. I can put a stop to being the victim by defining and asserting my personal boundaries. In putting this into practice, I was surprised at the people in my life I found myself distanced from. But it feels good to be able to say, I'm not a victim anymore. Certainly, I can own my role in the crazy shit that has played out, but I can also stand by my decision to not let the other parties involved dictate my success and happiness.

3. Professionalism is giving your all when you have nothing left to give.

It's a lot like being a parent, actually. To be a professional, you have to be able to put your own needs, gripes, unhappiness and angst aside to what's best for the organization that employs you or--to put it on a more micro level--to do what's best for your career. And I like the idea of thinking of your career as an extension of yourself in the same way a child is just that. It makes sense.

4. It's easy to be a cynical asshole.

It's infinitely more difficult to be a good person, standing by your convictions and keeping an optimistic outlook. Everybody gets shit on. Everybody knows the world can be a harsh place. The easy way out is to expect the worst, to reciprocate every blow you've been given with your own venomous lashings and to roll your eyes at anyone who has the audacity to keep a positive attitude. Staying off this path is the real challenge.

5. Music can heal you.

Last Fall was a reeeeeeally low point in my life. I was in a dangerous living situation, my family was in chaos and turmoil...and I was beyond broke and without the resources to remove myself from any of it. Luckily, in the midst of this crisis, I was scheduled to go on my first cruise. A client of mine runs the Blues Cruise, a weeklong cruise featuring more than 20 of the world's greatest blues artists playing 70+ shows in the ship's many venues. I went on the trip to represent my agency. I realized quickly that the fallout from my personal drama had followed me onboard. I found myself unable to let go of all the anger and sadness I had accumulated throughout the ordeal at home. Then I got sick. I stayed in my cabin for a day and a half feeling miserable, vomiting and everything. And when I finally emerged from the depths of seasickness/food poisoning, I went to watch Earl Thomas perform at the Queens Lounge.

Earl Thomas is a soul singer and songwriter. As is customary in blues, he invited some other artists on stage to jam with him. He began to sing the old gospel song, "This Little Light of Mine." And as the other singers joined him, the entire room of mostly middle-aged white people began to sing and sway along. Then this tiny woman named Chick Rodgers got up for a solo. Her voice and her intensity brought tears to my eyes. I walked out of that room feeling refreshed. I really believe the energy in that room healed me, brought me out of my funk and helped me to move on. It was a life-defining experience and I often think back to it when I'm spiraling towards those depths again.

I've heard people say before that music saved their life. I feel like I kind of know what they're talking about now.