Thursday, May 25, 2006

Ten Things I’m Sick of Hearing About

Just a little caveat for my three dear readers: If you’re not a fan of listening to a overly tired, heavily caffeinated and generally irritated person rant and rave about the things over which he has no control, I’d just as soon suggest you skip today’s extraordinarily lengthy tirade about various topics. However, if you enjoy a “you go girl” moment only found on “The View” (at least before Rosy screws it up), then read on.

Never before in my life have I been so informed about the world around me, the news, the politics, popular trends, celebrity dish and a cadre of informational tidbits that will only prove useful during the year 2025 edition of Trivial Pursuit, and never before have I been so sick and tired to hear a rehashing of the same drivel only to be serves up under new scrutiny, panned off as news, facts, and things I must know. That’s the mire I fall into sometimes; I get caught in the web of deceit propagated by the popular media you’d find in the check-out stand of any supermarket: Top news, why Kirstie Alley lost all that weight. Why? Because she’s being paid to, and her career as a fat actress is far less lucrative as a thin one. Remember “Victoria’s Closet?” Of course you don’t because the show was canned after a dozen episodes or so…overweight Alley doesn’t sell, but struggling to be thin Alley is a tragic tale we’ll fall over ourselves to listen to.

Even the supposedly respected upper echelon of “journalism” plays well into this category. as they attempt to gain an audience by catering to the star struck and the celebritophils ever on the quest to live the life of a entertainment personality, if only vicarious at best.

A couple of years ago, I made the mistake of subscribing to Newsweek and Time magazines (granted it was free, but I still chose them), and I began to wonder why I was reading essentially the same article in each magazine, each week, as they would arrive in my mailbox, Time on Saturday and Newsweek on Monday, oftentimes with the same subject as the lead cover story (last week they both wringed their hands over the wiretapping scandle), not to mention that some of the cartoons and weekly quotes would be identical. I was slightly despondent to think that there were no more aptly current comics strips out there than a small handful, until it was brought to my attention that both Newsweek and Time are published by the same company, probably the same cubical-bound hacks plugging away at the same story to be divvied up between the two at the end of the week.

I felt cheated, somehow, as I thought they were different publications with varying views on the world scene, which is why I was interested in them both. It’s not, and the more I read them, the more things irked me, from the bleeding heart liberal stance on illegal immigration (I’m sorry, they call them migrant workers… if I rob a bank, I’m not a bank robber, I’m a financial liberator). Don’t get me wrong, absolutely nothing against wanting a better life for yourself and your family, but if I were to move to another country in an attempt to better myself, I would do it legally and I wouldn’t drag my old-world customs with me. I'd start by learning the language and refrain from putting my hand out. If I break into a hotel room, I shouldn’t expect the hotel to give me free room and board just because they found me there? Okay, I could go on and on about this, as it does twist a thorn in my foot, but I’ve got a soapbox to get up on and a raving rant to make.

Here goes: Ten Things I’m Sick of Hearing About

1. What celebrities do. I don’t care that Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes had their kid. Good for them. No press agency was around when my kids were born. I don’t care that Lindsey Lohan is in some squabble with Paris Hilton (in fact, I don’t care that Paris Hilton even exists… my IQ drops a few points when I am forced to listen to her speak. See Number Three). I don’t understand how people can be so enamored with the goings on of celebrities, what they eat, what they wear, how they feel about world topics (Whoever gave Angelina Jolie a voice in politics should be banned from living on land) and who really cares about what they think? Usually, their thoughts are trite, overexposed, overanalyzed and over nothing, resulting in a frenzy of honest-to-God passion about whatever they’re oozing over for that moment.

Two general thoughts: 1) An actor and an actress playing opposite in a movie will, without doubt, be dating or married six months after the movie’s release. It’s a publicity stunt. Why do you think Cary Grant was married four times during his movie career and then suddenly (and happily, I might add) single after he no longer pulled in the box office money? He was gay, folks, gay as a marshmellow. The studio made him get married to keep up the macho appearance. Who would believe his “North by Northwest” suave smooth man performance opposite Eva Marie Saint if the audience, quite the bastion of homophobic movie goers at the time, believed he was a little light in his loafers? 2) Open any People magazine and 90 percent of the pictures are of the same people we saw the week before, Jennifer Anniston with new boyfriend Vince Vaughn (who will be in some craptacular chick flick this summer), Ashley Simpson (who should never have been allowed back on the stage after her lip sync debacle on SNL last year...yet we're a forgiving lot, which is probalby why half of SAG is still working... Eddie Murphy can pick up hookers in LA and then entertain our kids in "Daddy DayCare")… and the list goes on. Why can’t we, as a society, hear about regulars people doing extraordinary things instead of quasi-extraordinary people doing regular things? What’s that? Brad Pitt enjoys coffee in the morning? You don’t say. Just because he can earn 20 million dollars making a movie that should allow him the command of the national spotlight for doing something three-quarters of the world does on a daily basis. And what sickens me most is that thousands of people will switch brands after seeing that (see Number Six)…. “I drink what Brad drinks, which makes us the same person, so you must judge me at you would Brad.”

2. Britney Spears and the role models of young girls. She gives redneck, southern, trailer park trash a bad name, and I am so sick of hearing about her. How many pop singers start off with a cute following of pre-teens and then suddenly, overnight, switch from campy songs about boys and first kisses to stripper music and pole dancing? Spears, Christina Aguilera, Avril Lavigne, and a host of others. Sure, Spears has fans, but lets review some of her latest stunts: She announces her pregnancy to the world on the Letterman Show by saying, “Don’t worry Dave, it’s not yours.” She is caught driving around town with her newborn baby in her lap, and then she is seen with him facing the wrong way in the car seat… in a convertible with the top down on a nice baby-skin blistering near-summer day. She dresses like a whore on stage and a trucker on the street, she married a complete moron and she lacks the class and tact befitting someone with all of her riches and talent (yes, she’s no doubt a good performer).

3. Paris Hilton (and anyone who carries a tiny shivering dog everywhere they go). I just can’t say enough about this blight on our social conscious, not to mention the severe detriment she offers to the overall impact on society. You know what is most disappointing, in 10,000 years, archeologist will uncover some ancient, circa 21st Century trash can on Sunset Ave and sift through the strata of debris only to discover an article about Paris Hilton’s thoughts on the world: “I don't really think, I just walk.” And this gem: “Every woman should have four pets in her life. A mink in her closet, a jaguar in her garage, a tiger in her bed, and a jackass who pays for everything.” That jackass is your father, Paris, and without him and his fortune, you’d be slinging hash in a diner somewhere. The sad part is that those archeologists will record these quotes as what it was like in the year 2006, misrepresenting everything important about the world, much like we do with ancient history today.

4. The Price of Gas. How many articles and news reports do we have to endure about the ever rising cost of gas? Yes, we know it is high. It is always high just before summer. Do you know why it is so high? Because the gas companies can charge us that much, that's why. Did you know that Exxon made $100 billion dollars last year? That’s pure, in their pocket profit. The Valdez can wipe out an ecosystem in Alaska, they get a slap on the wrist and then go on to gouge the country and make a profit to boot. I’m all for free enterprise and I despise Big Brother but if there is one industry that should be governmentally controlled, it’s the oil industry. And it isn’t like this flushed-with-money country is doing anything about it. Did you know that sales of the Lincoln Escalade, arguably one of the biggest gas guzzler of them all, is up 130 percent this year while sales of the Honda Civic Hybrid is only at 67 percent?

And don’t for a second think that oil comes from dead dinosaurs. A maverick astrophysicist named Thomas Gold asserted that oil was not a fossil fuel, it didn’t come from dead biological beings, and was in no way a scarce resource in danger of being depleted. He claims the quantities of oil available are hundreds of times larger than all of the estimated mass of biological plants and animals living during prehistoric times. Furthermore, he discovered that petroleum is largely saturated with hydrogen atoms, but buried biological matter (dead dinos) should exhibit a deficiency of hydrogen as it is one of the chemicals lost during decomposition. While we’re talking chemicals, crude oil is rich in helium, an inert gas which biological processes cannot concentrate in the quantities found. In a Radio Free America interview Gold said: “The astronomers have been able to find that hydrocarbons, as oil, gas and coal are called, occur on many other planetary bodies. They are a common substance in the universe. You find it in the kind of gas clouds that made systems like our solar system. You find large quantities of hydrocarbons in them. Is it reasonable to think that our little Earth, one of the planets, contains oil and gas for reasons that are all its own and that these other bodies have it because it was built into them when they were born?”

So, we’re getting screwed at the pump, by our government, by the oil companies and by the carmakers who are always insisting on putting premium in your tank. What’s the difference between 91 and 97 octane… a slightly different additive package, but the crude oil base, which is 90 percent of the overall volumn is exactly the same. It’s like asking the difference between Kelloggs’ Cheerios and store-brand Honey Oats: the box.

5. Global Warming. This is scare tactics at its best. Feed the world with fear that we’re going to drown when the ice caps melt and you’ve got sheep at the poles if you present a plan to stop it. If you’re a failed politician (I’m talking to you potatoe-spelling Gore) and you need to get back into the game, just champion the mystical cause that is global warming and all of the horrible things that go along with it. We’re killing the planet, because I was suckered into believing every frame of the movie “The Day After Tomorrow” as the gospel on global warming! The ice age was 10,000 years long, but it can be activated and fully into its frozen cycle in less than two days, as if everyone in the world left the fridge door open to air condition the world. Yes, humble, lazy, inept little mankind is causing great harm to this huge planet that has been around for over five billion years and will be around for another 10 before being engulfed by the sun.

In the last 100 years, the air on this planet has never been cleaner, thanks to a lot of emission controlling laws, of course. If you read any part of David Copperfield or Oliver Twist you would have read about how choked with soot and pollution London was during the industrial revolution, and if we didn’t tear the o-zone away from the atmosphere then, why would we think that it would happen now? I read on last week that Japanese scientists discovered that the o-zone would be completely repaired by 2050. Isn’t that nice? But what should come as no surprise is that we did absolutely nothing to change that fact; it's the earth in one of its cycles. And if the polar ice caps are melting, there is absolutely nothing we can do to stop it…and, rest assured when you’re teasing your hair up into a frizz with that aerosol can, you did nothing to start it. That’s just Mother Earth changing gears like she likes to do every 10 millennia or so. Roll with it and get some sun tan lotion.

Okay, we’re over half way… why don’t you get up and stretch your legs before we continue? I know you’re tired, but all you have to do is read this; Imagine me, I had to type it out, you know, and it’s 2000 words so far. If only I was getting my rate for this.

6. Brand Placement. I was reading through Best Life a magazine, brought to me by the good people at Men’s Health magazine, and it very mildly caters to the celebrity scene, which is a nice change from the normal men’s magazine (think smut purveyors Maxim and FHM magazines whose sole existence is to tease us with photoshopped images of flawless skinned women and pedestrian articles about sex, false images of masculinity and various vices), but it came at a price. A few months ago, they featured Jake Gyllenhaal (from “Brokeback Mountain”) wearing a pair of Frye Boots that I rather liked, and since I haven’t been able to find a decent pair of casual boots—my cowboy-style boots sometimes just don’t cut it—I thought I’d get a pair of those. Upon visiting Frye Boots’ website ( and attempting to order their $180.00 Engineer boot, I was told that it was out of stock due to the article. Gosh. I know what you’re saying: This smacks of the Brad Pitt coffee reference earlier and makes me look rather hypocritical, but the difference is that I didn’t want the boots because of Gyllenhaal, I wanted them because they look cool.
“Jake Gyllenhaal wears these boots you know?”
“The cowboy guy from that gay cowboy movie.”
“You mean Electric Horseman?”
“No, the other one.”
“Oh, Rhinestone Cowboy?”
“Just forget it.”
“Midnight Cowboy?”
“I’m walking away now.” Of course, not in the boots as they’re on back order for six months. Why is it that there’s a commercial everywhere, from our sports arenas to the sides of cows. Pretty soon, I’ll look up at the full moon in the night sky and it will be blocked by a massive solar sail with a Coke logo splashed across it. Can I go anywhere without having someone try to sell me something? Probably not, but a unibomber-style shack in Montana is looking better and better each day.

7. People who think they’re above the law. Get this: Naked moron Richard Hatch of the first season Survivor fame won a million dollars for doing the show. I saw him do it, and no doubt someone from the IRS had a passing interest in the show as well, and I imagine it piqued his interest to review Hatch's tax statement for that year when, lo and behold, a cool million is mysteriously missing from his 1040 and in its place is a sad sob story about how he had a negative income that year and claims nearly $5000 in returns. I think his excuse was that he forgot about it. And just the other day, I misplaced a check for $10 million somewhere. You know how it is. So, last week, they sentenced him to 51 months in jail, where, I’m sure, he will be sure to keep himself fully clothed; I’m sick of people getting off scot free just because their name appeared on the cover of the latest National Enquirer. What makes them so special? If I were to slap a cop, I’d probably still be in jail (Zsa Zsa Gabor); If I were to drive drunk, pile into a guard tower on Capital Hill, would the police be sympathetic and drive me home (R.I. Rep. Patrick Kennedy). If I were to kill my wife and her lover, lead the police on a slow-speed chase with a gun to my head, get an attorney to use the Chewbacca defense and try to stuff my hand into a glove that obviously fits, would the jury let me off?

8. Today’s Youth. I’m not a codger quite yet and I’m not going to regale you with tales of my travels to school in the snow, but I’m sick of the attitude of most people around the age of 20 to 25. They’re inexperienced, cocky, arrogant and self-satisfied that they represent the crème of the crop. They thing they deserve everything before they’ve earned it. I worked with this yahoo who wondered why he didn’t get a raise and a promotion after only being with the company for six months. He earned it how? By doing is job, just like everyone else?

They have this sense of entitlement, that because they show up, they should be given the key to the executive washroom, and the severe delusions they develop. Watching the casting episodes for “American Idol” makes this completely evident; when they reject someone because they obvious couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket, they don’t take the criticism with a grain of salt and make amends to try harder next time. No, they storm out slurring explicative deletes demanding that they be given another chance.

Where did this maladjusted attitude come from? Their parents, of course, who made sure that everyone went home with a trophy or ribbon even if it was ninth place, that nobody be labeled a loser or a failure…and they told them that they could do anything if they wanted to, don’t take “no” for an answer, we’ll bail you out each and every time, you won’t have to worry about standing on your own two feet and enjoy your college experience, never mind about actually learning anything. That’s what really brings me over: What happened to getting an education in college? Now, they strive for the “college experience,” and what exactly is that but a $20,000 annual excuse to do stupid things, get drunk, skip classes, and squeak by with a barely passing grade. Did you know that everyone’s up in arms about the high school exit exams, and people are saying that it isn’t fair to keep a kid behind because he didn’t pass that particular test. Who are they kidding? If the kid is so stupid that he can’t pass a test covering the very minimum basic elements of a high school education, then he doesn’t deserve a diploma, he doesn’t deserve to go to college and he doesn’t deserve to be later supported by welfare because he didn’t properly prepare himself for the real world. Alright, let’s move on.

9. Weight loss programs. This is an easy one. Exercise and eat right and you’ll lose weight if that’s what you wanted to do. I knew a guy through the magazine who was terrifically overweight, and on day he decided to do something about it. All he ate all day was popcorn, unsalted, unbuttered popcorn. At night he had a decent dinner and then went for a walk… soon he was running, and it took a while, but he lost about 70 pounds. Don’t get suckered into a weight loss program, especially if you saw it on TV. Ten bucks says that ever single actor in the commercial was never a pound overweight his/her whole life.

10. Saddam Hussein’s trial. I saw some of the coverage of the trial recently, and why does that tyrant get such a comfortable chair? Have you see it? It’s this wide leather swivel with great looking armrests and a plush cushiony back…it’s a farce. He should be sitting on a wooden plank with his hands cuffed to his feet. Kill one person and you come to court in a full-body chain suit; kill thousands and you get to wear a double-breasted suit and sit in an executive leather chair. They should just string him up and get it over with, and if that makes a martyr out of him to his followers, so be it…at least they’ll come out of hiding.

Wow, okay, so I’ve got some issues, yes, but you’d be surprised how nice it feels to unload all of that on unsuspecting old you. If you made it all the way through this to the end, you really must have some of your own procrastination issues, as you are surely stalling for some reason or another. But I feel nice and liberated. Of course, it is after 3am, so I don’t know how nice I’m going to feel tomorrow morning when I put on my cape and mask to become SuperDad!

Next entry will be much lighter, I promise.... I've got a couple of thoughts on hot dog relish and baked beans I'm sure you can't wait to hear.

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