Monthly Archives: November 2013

Sheehan and Chartock

If you live in Albany, I suggest spending some time listening to this interview of Kathy Sheehan by Alan Chartock. Primary takeaways:

  1. I am so excited for Kathy Sheehan to be Albany’s mayor. She is so smart, competent, and well-informed. Plus, she apparently has the patience to put up with schmucks like . . .
  2. Alan Chartock, who continues to be The Worst. Highlights in just the first 25 minutes of this interview include his confusing affordable housing for public housing, his telling a caller (on Mayor Sheehan’s behalf?) that it was ok that the caller had addressed her as Mayor Jennings because he found it amusing, and a demonstrated inability to understand that being weak and being able to compromise and/or admit fault aren’t the same thing.

Ads for Ads

Along with people bicycling on the sidewalk and/or not observing general traffic law while bicycling, coffee shops using boxed chai concentrate instead of their own mix and yet still charging as though they’re providing something special, and “activists” who are totally ill-informed about their government, one of the things that makes me most feel like a curmudgeonly crank is the prevalence of advertisements on the internet.

It’s not that I mind ads themselves. Ads are fair. Go ahead, I say: try to sell me something, in exchange for this otherwise free content. Of course, I’d prefer a Daily Dish-esque Internet, where we all pay a reasonable amount for the content we consume, but I’m not going to be cranky about that all day. It would be exhausting, and futile.

What I am perfectly content to be cranky about, however, is the growing trend of showing me ads just so I can watch another ad. If I am voluntarily seeking out a promo for Glee, or a trailer for Catching Fire, or-seriously-just a well-made regular ad that I’ve heard is clever, is it really fair to make me sit through an additional thirty seconds of advertising for a totally different product? Weblords, you already have me! I already want to buy something! Why can’t that something be enough? Your insistence on trying to sell me something else is plain old crass.

I’m willing to be reasonable. See how I’m not even complaining about ads that stream before  music videos which, again, are really just ads for the artist/music they feature? I get that there is added value in this case, and that music videos actually add to the content of their base product.

I should probably just spend less time seeking out internet ads, and let them come to me instead. Luckily, ads for ads are encouraging the development of that habit.

Edit: I also think it’s lame to show thirty second ads before content that lasts for less than two minutes, though this happens all the time. Watching at least one thirty second ad has started to feel like a toll for doing anything else on the Internet ever.

Bridalplasty and Me

First things first. You’ve probably never heard of Bridaplasty, which was an E! reality show that ran over the holiday season in 2010. I heard about it from my wife, who watched a Bridalplasty marathon with her best friend, came home, and assured me that that this show was right up my alley. Her evidence: at the end of each episode, a contestant is voted off by her fellow brides-to-be, and the host (who is not the Biggest Loser’s Ally Sweeney, a fact that is sometimes hard to remember) sadly informs the loser that “your wedding will go on, but it will no longer be perfect.”

What a statement!

For me, that by itself is nearly enough to justify the show’s appeal. Once each episode, you get to hear one woman tell another (with an entirely straight and sympathetic face) that their wedding will not be perfect. Done. Go watch all the episodes right now. They stream on Netflix. And then, while you’re there, find out that the rest of the show focuses on competing for individual plastic surgeries, and the eventual awarding of a “dream” wedding, complete with vendors to the “stars.” (As I remember it, the starriest client any of the vendors mentioned was Tori Spelling, but the women on the show seemed impressed anyway.)

From what I can tell, the reaction to the show was about what you’d expect. Here’s some sample sass:

  • “Unfortunately, Bridalplasty doesn’t offer brain augmentation.” (Jezebel)
  • “These are the worst people on the planet.” (Cracked)
  • “Perhaps it was inevitable that we would be attacked with something like ‘Bridalplasty,’ a series that practically invites you to deposit your daughters in a time-travel machine and land them safely in the pages of a Laura Ingalls Wilder novel.” (NY Times)

I’m not going to argue that Bridalplasty was classy or a tribute to 21st century America . . . but I actually found that it, in the end, made me feel better about the state of our culture than worse.

I’m not a fan of plastic surgery, but I’m not naive enough to think that my distaste for it has any ability to change whether or not others think it’s a good idea. I would have expected that a show offering free plastic surgery would have drawn women with long lists of the types of work they wanted done, and it’s true that the show had each contestant put together such a list. If and when they won a challenge, they got to select a surgery of their choice from that list to get done. What was interesting was that the show repeatedly showed most women stating that they really only wanted one of the surgeries on their list–and, indeed, the two women who won two challenges each selected tooth veneers as their second surgery. Tooth veneers are about as un-plastic-surgery-y as you can get. Amy Poehler talked about loosing one of her tooth veneers on a talk show recently. They’re not a big deal.

The contestants’ motivation was twofold, but limited:

  1. Get them their top plastic surgery, which was almost always a pretty reasonable choice (if you accept that plastic surgery is ever a reasonable choice). Rhinoplasties for women with big noses; liposuction for heavy women; tooth veneers; one (ok, totally unnecessary) boob job. Even the woman who won ended up not pursuing all the surgeries on her list (as was her “right”), but instead just went to a fat camp to lose some weight.
  2. Get that Celebrity Dream Wedding. In fact, most of the ladies seemed a little more focused on the wedding than the surgeries–which is no different than any other reality show where people are motivated by cash.

In a culture where we’re all are expected to be beautiful and rich, I was sort of reassured that the “worst people” the show could find just wanted some money (albeit to spend on one specific thing) and one plastic surgery. Good for us.

p.s. NY Times: Have you read Little House on the Prairie and/or do you know anything about history? Not actually a great time, just in general, what with the near-starvation, rampant disease, and poverty, and particularly not a great time for women and girls.

Tanked

Did you know that there is a reality show on Animal Planet called Tanked? The entire show, which is in its inexplicable fifth season, is about a family that goes around creating ridiculous aquariums for people. This is the sort of thing you can learn when you have a nine-year-old brother-in-law who spends a lot of time watching cable.

We watched an episode featuring the installation of a custom-designed aquarium for Tracy Morgan’s octopus. This was apparently the second episode focused on a custom octopus aquarium for Tracy; the first involved the creation of a Jaws-theme tank for his shark. The octopus episode was just as great as you’d imagine, with two standout moments.

The first came during the reveal of the finished aquarium to the Morgan family/posse. Tracy did not offer any immediate smile or hint of approval, but instead walked up to the tank and proceeded to carry out a brief whispered (and, I assume, one sided) conversation with his octopus, who is named Bwyadette. He then smiled and announced that Bwyadette liked her new home, and so did he.

The other great moment came when the aquarium guys revealed to Tracy that they had surprise-installed a baby-bottle shaped goldfish tank in his infant daughter’s nursery. They explained to him: “We know you said you want your daughter to share your appreciation for marine life.” Maven, the child in question, is maybe five months old in this scene. Tracy’s response was to nod slowly and seriously.

“Yes. Yes I do.”

Michaels vs. Robinson

Because this topic deserves a stand-alone post. Here is a list of ways that Rachel Robinson (of MTV’s Road Rules and the Challenge) and Jillian Michaels (of Jillian Michaels) are similar:

  • Abs
  • Arms
  • Both have really low-budget, infomercially feeling personal fitness websites that predominantly feature pictures of themselves in sports bras. Rachel’s is http://www.rachelrobinsonfitness.com/; Jillian’s is http://www.jillianmichaels.com/. Rachel Robinson has an excuse for this, as she is just Miami’s Jillian Michaels, but Jillian Michaels should really get a design school student in there to help her ‘build her company’ since she is legitimately famous. 
  • Both of them seem to like the beach more than I thought people could.
  • Both of them really like animals. Jillian is more into horses; Rachel is more into rescue dogs.
  • Both of them very regularly post pictures on social media of themselves with large groups of late-season L-Wordesque groups of lesbians.
  • Both of them have cultivated multi-ethnic families that include at least one adopted child and one brunette wife.