Sunday, June 28, 2009

I'm off to hike the Appalachian Trail and work on my book

In my absence, my staff will be handling the blog and fielding queries and comments (as well as mice).

Please be patient if you do not receive an immediate response. The staff is very busy at present, but will eventually get to your query.

If I manage to get an Internet connection, may post this coming week. If not will be back the week of July 6, hopefully with tan lines.

Pitchman Billy Mays goes Kaboom!

The world has lost another voice (literally) with the death this morning of pitchman extraordinaire Billy Mays, who, like Michael Jackson, was only 50 years old.

No cause of death has (as of this writing) been reported for Billy Mays, who was found dead in his Tampa, FL, home, but Vince the ShamWow guy is being sought for questioning.

Now who will yell at me to buy all sorts of great-sounding but totally useless stuff?! Sigh.

RIP Billy Mays.

UPDATED 8/7/09: According to a recently completed autopsy, OxiClean was not the only white powder Pitchman Billy Mays was sniffin'. While technically Mays died from a heart attack, officials found cocaine in his system, which, they said, contributed to (or brought on) the heart attack. So that's why he was always so hyper and loud....

Thursday, June 25, 2009

First Ed. Then Farrah. Now Michael. I feel like part of my childhood just died.

For all of us who grew up or came of age in the 1970s, this was a very sad week, as we lost three icons of that period: Ed McMahon, Farah Fawcett, and Michael Jackson.

Take a walk with me down memory lane, won't you, as we revisit everyone's favorite 1970s sidekick...

An angel*...

and smooth operator (I just love this ad)

... and pop king (pre-plastic surgery, sequined glove, spandex pants, and chimps)...


*Though she wasn't my favorite; I actually preferred Kate Jackson and Jaclyn Smith and even Cheryl Ladd. I did, however, buy the iconic Farrah poster for a boy I had a crush on, who had a crush on Farrah.

Things that really piss me off (short version, in no particular order )

Because kvetching (in moderation) is good for the soul... and the heart... and the gut... : )

Rain. Enough already. Another few days of this and I'll have to trade in my Mini for an ark.

Renaming the Triborough Bridge the RFK Bridge. What the heck was wrong with Triborough? How many of the millions of people who actually use the bridge do you think remember or know that Robert F. Kennedy was a Senator from New York (or care) -- and will henceforth refer to it as the RFK Bridge? (See "Avenue of the Americas.") Which member of the Kennedy clan was blowing Eliot Spitzer?

Getting addicted to a product sold only at Trader Joe's only to have Trader Joe's suddenly discontinue or stop selling it. (God, I miss Gingeroos. Best ginger cookie EVER.)

The sacrifice bunt. I don't care what the spouse says, it's stupid.

Professional sports teams with losing (i.e., under .500) records that make it into the playoffs. What is up with that?

People who don't use their turn signal -- or flip it on after they've come to a screeching halt or are already halfway into the other lane.

Similarly, people who are so effing busy chatting on their cell phones -- without a headset or ear piece -- that they drive right through red lights and stop signs. (One nearly killed me as I was driving to pick up my daughter from camp today.)

Supermarket baggers who haven't a clue how to bag.

Being ignored in a restaurant.

Bleach splash.

People who cut in line.

Traffic, particularly the kind caused by rubbernecking. (Will there ever NOT be construction on I-95?)

Celebrities who piss away their money in lavish style then whine and cry and seem absolutely amazed when it's all gone and the bank is foreclosing on their house.

Reality TV stars. (See also "people who are famous for being famous" and "being blonde isn't a talent.")

Hypocritical politicians (see Mark Sanford, John Ensign, Eliot Spitzer, Newt Gingrich, etc.).

What are some things that really piss you off? Let me know via a Comment.

(Note: Personal attacks and inappropriate comments will be deleted.)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Spanx for men? Male "enhancing" underwear has arrived.

Wish I had known about this before Father's Day! Well, better late than never. And while Equmen, the Aussie company that makes the high-performance, male enhancing undershirt and skivvies featured in the video, wants you to think that any man could benefit from its high-tech compression clothing, I think not (as the video proves).

Btw, as I recently learned, Equmen is hardly the only maker of men's compression undergarments. Many leading sports apparel companies, such as Nike and Under Armour, sell men's compression shorts (which, frankly, sound painful).

Welcome to our world, gents!

In other underwear-related news... apparently the contents of a man's underwear drawer says a lot about the state of the economy (amongst other things). "If men are wearing threadbare jocks - or worse, undies with holes - the nation is in real trouble, according to a growing number of economists who say the condition of men's underwear is a valuable fiscal indicator," wrote Rachel Wells in the Sydney Morning Herald earlier this month.

CNBC even did a piece on the Undies Index (the video is quite amusing), which is attributed to former US Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan. Btw, on the critical "boxers vs. briefs" question, the former Fed chairman had no comment.

UPDATED 2/8/10: Big news, people: Spanx has just announced it has created... (drum roll, please) Spanx for men! You can read all about it here.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Surfing has gone to the dogs

Watch out, Moondoggie! You've got some real four-legged competition! Who knew Jack Russell Terriers (two of whom won their respective categories) could hang twenty? And just looking at the basset hound and the bulldog (see the video) make me smile.

Btw, all proceeds from the 4th Annual Loews Surf Dog Competition went to its Good Neighbor Partner, Modest Needs Foundation, an organization that aims to prevent poverty before it begins.

Hmm... Wonder what the chances are of getting Felix and Flora to surf...

Monday, June 22, 2009

JibJab reveals Barack Obama's secret identity (video)

During the campaign, Barack Obama was frequently portrayed as Superman, fighting for truth, justice, and change. More recently, after the notorious White House fly incident, some in the press have been comparing the President of the United States to Spider-Man.

But after checking out the latest JibJab video, titled "He's Barack Obama," maybe a modern, hipper (and, okay, bigger-eared) version of Captain America is more appropriate.

Try JibJab Sendables® eCards today!

[H/T to my sister-in-law, who not only told me about the clip but got me the Topsy Turvy Tomato Planter for Father's Day. Thanks JudgeJ.!]

While I think the JibJab video is cute, I don't think it's a great idea to portray politicians (even the President of the United States) as superheroes. They have big enough egos. Ditto athletes.

Just because someone is good at what he does doesn't make him a hero.

Though if Obama does manage to fix the financial mess, help create jobs, get us out of Iraq and Afghanistan safely -- and doesn't get us embroiled in a war with Iran or North Korea, make health care affordable for everyone while keeping the quality of care high, get kids to stay in school, find a cure for baldness, and doesn't bankrupt the country, I will absolutely consider him a hero -- or make sure someone at least names a sandwich after him.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Bottoms up!

I don't know about you guys, but I could sure use a drink after this week. (Just remember: It's always five o'clock somewhere!) And a chuckle. While I'm off fixing myself a margarita, watch this:

[H/T to Facebook friend CS.]

Finally, an over-the-counter cure for those of you who, like me, suffer from feelings of inadequacy, shyness, and wish you could be more assertive... or could just use a good, stiff drink. Hmm... better make that a double.

Wishing you all a good (and hopefully SUNNY) weekend...

Finally a solution to the fly-or-drive dilemma, just in time for the summer travel season!

Introducing the first real flying car (sorry, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang doesn't count), or "roadable light sport aircraft"!

While the flying car -- I mean roadable light sport aircraft -- looks truly scrumptious, does anyone seriously think this is a good idea? It doesn't even fold up into a briefcase!

What's next, personal jet packs?! Oh wait...

Thursday, June 18, 2009

School's out for summer

Or will be at 12 noon today.

I'm not sure who is more excited, the kid or us. I will certainly be a lot happier not having to get up at 6 a.m. every morning in order to drag a cranky, sleepy child off to the bus stop at 7:06 every morning. Though actually our daughter really likes school, including homework, and will miss her friends and teacher terribly; and we will miss having 6 - 8 uninterrupted hours to do work. But we are all happy it's summer. Though we would be a heckuva lot happier if it would stop friggin' raining ALL THE TIME and warm up a bit. Seriously, I think I'm developing gills.

Anyway, in honor of the last day of school, I think it only appropriate to play a little Alice Cooper.

I must now go prepare for our little end-of-school party and make sure the Prosecco is properly chilled.

Here's to a great summer. Cheers!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Barack Obama, killer of flies, promoter of truancy

For those of you who have noted (or been irked) that President Barack Obama is not easily bugged, take note. Yesterday, during an interview with CNBC's John Harwood, President Obama momentarily lost his cool when he discovered he was being bugged, by a very large house -- or in this case, White House -- fly.

Using his superhero lightning reflexes, though, the POTUS quickly put an end to the interloper, who was not on the approved visitor list.

In other Presidential News, while Barack Obama says it is vital to provide our children with a good education, so they can successfully compete in a global economy/marketplace, his actions say otherwise.

Just last week at a presidential town hall meeting in Green Bay, Wisconsin, the President went out of his way to write an impressionable 10-year-old girl who was playing hooky from school a note excusing her absence. While some may say the girl's father, who had been selected to ask the President a question at the meeting, was at fault here, having allowed his fourth-grade daughter to miss a day of school so she could attend the meeting with him, we know who is ultimately to blame...

Barack Obama, promoter of truancy.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Who you calling a great big cow?

Forget cock fighting, my friends. If you want to see some real action, just get a few big ornery cows together in the same pasture and let them lock horns to determine who will be the queen of the herd.

No, I am not referring to a PTA meeting. I am referring to the centuries-old Swiss Alps tradition of cow fighting. No bull.

Indeed, the competition to see who will be crowned the queen of the cows is taken very seriously in the Swiss canton of Valais, where every summer, starting in June, locals and tourists alike -- thousands of them -- gather to see which cow will reign supreme. There is even an official website.

And while there is no prize money for winning, the thrill of seeing your cow crowned queen is considered quite an honor for the owner -- and can result in a hefty price for the heifer, should the owner decide to sell her.

(Note: Locals, officials, and even tourists who have witnessed the cow fighting say it is humane and that the bovine beauties do no real damage to each other, just to their egos.)

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Did you hear the one about the kosher search engine?

If I hadn't read about it on this morning, I would have thought Koogle was the punchline to one of those email jokes my mother-in-law is always forwarding to me and the rest of our extended family. You know the kind:

Avi: Did you hear some Israelis invented a kosher search engine?

Shmuel: No! Really? What is it called?

Avi: Koogle!

But the recently launched "kosher," ultra-Orthodox-rabbi-approved Israeli search engine is for real -- and you can find it at FYI, it helps if you read Hebrew.

While Koogle can probably help you find the nearest mikvah or a good kugel recipe, it will not display religiously objectionable material, such as pictures of scantily clad women. (Think more Golda Meir.) There is also no searching on the Sabbath (though I am assuming this would be Israeli Sabbath hours).

Good searching and biz shpeter!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

A year without Tim Russert

A year without Tim Russert is like -- or just is -- a year without good, meaty yet objective political discourse. Russert, I miss ya. And I bet a lot of other political junkies, pundits, and politicians do too. (Okay, maybe not the politicians so much, who were often nervous in your presence, though considered an appearance with you on "Meet the Press" an acid test, or proof they had arrived.)

It was a year ago today, June 13, 2008, when Tim Russert, the beloved and respected moderator of "Meet the Press" and head of NBC's Washington bureau died suddenly. I had just entered Washington, D.C., by car, when a friend texted me the news. And for the rest of the weekend, I was glued to the TV and/or radio, seeking information on Russert's untimely and unfortunate passing.

A political junkie since high school (who went on to receive a BA in Political Science from Hillary Clinton's alma mater and an MA in International Relations from the university where Barack Obama taught law), I made a beeline for the Newseum shortly after my arrival in D.C. and was greeted by floor-to-ceiling images of Tim Russert that had been erected overnight in the lobby. It was a bit overpowering, or overwhelming, as was Russert, but a fitting tribute to a man whom both Democrats and Republicans, Liberals and Conservatives, called friend -- or at least respected.

There was much talk in the coming weeks and months as to who would become the new moderator of "Meet the Press." (There was no replacing Russert.) The temporary assignment went to former NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw, who did a fine job. But he was no Russert. Then in December NBC announced David Gregory would take the reins as moderator of "Meet the Press."

While I like David Gregory, he is no Tim Russert. And I no longer sneak off to the gym or time my Sunday laundry to catch at least a half hour of "Meet the Press." Instead, if I happen to be near a TV around 10:30 a.m. Sunday morning, I flip between "Meet the Press," "Face the Nation" with Bob Schieffer, and "This Week with George Stephanopoulos."

And it's not just Sunday mornings that are different since Russert's passing. Last year's historic presidential election, particularly the presidential debates, just weren't the same without Tim Russert there.

This Sunday on "Meet the Press with David Gregory," David Gregory will be interviewing Vice President Joe Biden. (An "exclusive," as they say in the biz.) I have no doubt it will be entertaining and informative, and that I will watch a few minutes. But I know as I watch that I will be thinking of Russert... and I bet a lot of other folks will be too.

R.I.P. Russert. You are missed.

Friday, June 12, 2009

As Seen on TV or How I Was Seduced by Infomercials

Admit it: We have, all of us, at one point, bought or seriously thought of buying some product we saw on an infomercial. And no one would blame you if you had. After all, who could resist Vince's siren call for the ShamWow ("You'll Say WOW Everytime!" Or not.) or the cozy comfort of the Snuggie ("The Blanket with Sleeves!") or the ease of the Ronco Showtime Rotisserie and BBQ Oven ("Just set it and forget it!") or the George Foreman Grill (I KNOW you have one) or the natural healthy goodness of Jack LaLanne's Power Juicer ("the ultimate juicing machine"), especially at 3 a.m.?

Typically, I have little patience for infomercials (though I occasionally find them entertaining), or desire for the products those larger-than-life pitchmen hawk. (Every time my daughter sees Billy Mays pitch something she says "Mommy, someone should give that guy a Riccola.") But every once in a while, when I am in a mentally or physically weakened state, I succumb (hence the ShamWows). And I fear today I may succumb again as I am "this close" to buying us the Topsy Turvy Upside Down [isn't that redundant?] Tomato Planter. (Mmmm.... tomatoes.) And really could you blame me?

I have been sick with one thing or another (severe allergic reaction to God knows what last Friday... then migraines... then a stomach bug) for a week now and was finally forced to spend the entire day in bed yesterday. On an emtpy stomach. Light headed and bored. Worse, I just finished my 519-page book and had nothing good to read. Which left just me and the TV.

And as amazing as this sounds, I have not watched more than a few minutes of TV during normal work hours, even though I work from home, since, oh, I was in graduate school -- and back then it was mainly to watch General Hospital. So you can imagine my shock and awe turning on the set yesterday morning. Whoooooaaaaa.

As it happened, we had been watching the Mets game the night before, and now the channel was showing an infomercial for a miraculous device called The Contour ("For the best abs you'll ever have without a workout!"), with this incredible looking topless male model, "Jeff," and Contour's spokeswoman, "Leah," showing me how I could get firmer abs in just a few days. In seconds, I was hooked.

My friends, take it from me, The Countour is nothing short of an abdominal MIRACLE. Forget crunches and sit-ups and those crappy "core" exercises to get rid of that dreaded "pooch," that bilious beer belly, and those unlovely love handles. To get the sexy abs you've always wanted, all you need to do is wear The Contour! It's like a pacemaker for your abs! (Their line, not mine.)

And you just know The Contour works because infomercials don't lie. They even had REAL PEOPLE giving testimonials -- and a DOCTOR (okay, so he's a chiropractor, but "Leah," the Contour spokesperson, kept referring to him as a doctor, and you know doctors don't lie). And it's FDA approved! (Though which FDA I'm not sure.) Best of all, it's only $14.95 -- for a 30-day trial.

Anyway, I was "this close" to starting my free trial when I had to go to the bathroom. And that broke the magic spell.

I then proceeded to watch Food Network for, like, two hours, which was akin to watching pornography as I hadn't eaten and couldn't. And even now, just thinking about all those delicious delectable goodies Giada and Ina and Sunny were cooking up, I start salivating.

But I digress.

Getting back to infomercials.... They are EVERYWHERE. And I'm not even including the 24/7 shopping channels, which are really 24/7 infomercials. Anyway, around one o'clock I turned on the on-air TV guide, trying to figure out what to watch, when I saw a style show that sounded interesting, only to discover it was an informercial for Sheer Cover ("The makeup that's actually good for your skin!") with Leeza Gibbons. And I was "this close" to ordering some foundation when I remembered I don't really wear makeup -- and quickly flipped over to HGTV.

But this morning, albeit no longer bed-bound, while watching The Weather Channel with my daughter (who MUST see the weather report at least three times before going out to the bus), I saw the ad for the Topsy Turvy Tomato Planter, and my stomach started gurgling, and damn if those tomatoes didn't look bigger and juicier and tastier than the ones at Stop & Shop and... And then a little voice next to me said, "Mommy, can we get that? Pleeeeeeeeeaaaase? Those tomatoes look SO GOOD." And, I could be wrong, cause I still haven't eaten anything yet, but I think I promised her that right after she got on the bus I would go online and order some.

Will let you know how it turns out.

P.S. If you can't spend the day in bed, you can still get those "as seen on TV" products by going to Happy shopping!

UPDATED 6/13/09: Went to Bed Bath and Beyond yesterday with my daughter to inspect the Topsy Topsy Turvy Tomato Planter (only $9.99!) for ourselves. What a ripoff. All it is is a bag and the nutrients. And the box did NOT make it easy for you to tell what was included and what was not, though it was pretty obvious it did not come with that six-foot hanging device/pole they feature on the TV ads. YOU have to supply the tomato plant, the soil, the hanger or pole, and the TLC. The verdict: Not worth it. (Though I did nearly buy a box of StrapPerfect, "The Ultimate Bra Strap Solution!")

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Father's Day Gifts He'll Really Appreciate

Father's Day is June 21st this year, and if you haven't already gotten dad a gift, allow me to suggest the following....

Cheers to Dad!

Dad like beer? If so, give him a subscription to the Beer of the Month Club. It's a gift that will keep on giving (or at least for 11 more months). And we're not talking your basic Bud or mass-produced Miller, my friends. Oh no. Each month, dad will receive a carefully selected, highly delicious, hand-crafted microbrew, delivered right to his door. And if you're real nice to him, he just might share.

Oh Captain My Captain

Allow dad to boldly go where few Star Trek fans have gone before with this official replica Star Trek Classic Captain Kirk Chair. (Note: Blonde babe not included.)

Per the manufacturer: "This full-size recreation of the U.S.S. Enterprise's captain's chair is designed from detailed drawings supplied by Paramount Studios and is approved by Paramount. It delivers all the accents and details from the historic prop, along with modern lighting, sound effects, and phrases designed to thrill any Star Trek enthusiast!

"The unbelievable chair measures 41-inches tall x 42-inches wide x 39-inches deep. It weighs about 215 pounds! The working swivel seat with wooden handles, leather seat cover, and armrest controls make this the perfect addition to any collection, display, home theater, or museum!"

You can beam one up by clicking on the link above.

(Note: If the captain's chair is a bit beyond your pay grade, a Star Trek Phaser from also makes a stunning gift, at an eighth the price.)

For the Guy Who Likes to Be in Control

Introducing the Control-Your-Woman Talking Remote, from a company called "Perfect Solutions." (You wish.) I'll just let the product description speak for itself:
"Why waste precious time and energy trying to control the thoughts and actions of your significant other when you can automate the process? Let our talking remote controllers do it for you. Heard all you can bear to hear? Just push a button. Need an instant attitude adjustment? Just push a button! Wanna turn up the romance? Just push a button!

"Each controller delivers 18 hilarious verbal one-offs and accompanying sound effects sure to put your guy or gal on the right track while ensuring your right of self expression! Who knew controlling your mate could be as easy and entertaining as surfing the channels?!"
If only....

Last, but not least...

For the Dad Who Could Use a Little Help in the Grooming Department

Introducing the ManGroomer Private Body Shaver, for below-the-neck grooming. 'Nuff said. (Though, is it just me, or does the ManGroomer bare a striking resemblance to the FURminator?)

And for the man with a permanent hair shirt, there is the ManGroomer Electric Back Hair Shaver, which also makes a nice gift -- for him and for her.

With these personal grooming products, dad will be a smooth customer in no time. (H/T to Amy of i could cry but I don't have time, who called this to my attention. Seriously, what did we do before Bed Bath & Beyond?)

UPDATED 6/11/09: For the Dad Who's a Steak-Lovin' Cowboy at Heart, or to make sure no one (except maybe mom) messes with dad's meat, how about a personalized steak brand? Talk about a gift that sizzles. You can buy brands with his initials, the word "Dad," his favorite team, or even his political party.

Wishing you and your dad a happy Father's Day....

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Rain. Again? Really? Just shoot me.

I cannot believe it is raining. Again. Make that pouring. Enough already. If I wanted to live in a rainy climate, I would have moved to Seattle. At least in Seattle there's good coffee and gelato.

I wouldn't mind so much about the rain, but the sudden change in barometric pressure has brought on yet another migraine, and the pain is unbearable. It's so bad, I can't even joke about it -- or anything else.

So, sorry for the lame blog post. I'm heading back to bed, after I go throw up.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Horse racing has gone to the Birds

First Mine that Bird comes from seemingly out of nowhere to win this year's Kentucky Derby.

Then that bird -- okay, filly -- Rachel Alexandra upstages the boys to win the Preakness Stakes.

Now another bird, Summer Bird, Mine that Bird's half brother, ridden by jockey Kent Desormeaux, has won the third leg of the Triple Crown, the 141st running of the Belmont Stakes.

Great race, though I missed Rachel Alexandra, whose owner decided not to run her in the Belmont.

In case you missed the 2 1/2-minute race, here's the video:

You can also read about the race in this New York Daily News article.

Reason No. 17 why you need a riding mower

Because you never know when you'll need to make a beer run with a buddy.

According to authorities in Maine, a 51-year-old man from Vassalboro, apparently in need of libation, took off with a neighbor on a beer run. On his lawn mower.

The man, who had recently had his driver's license revoked, was spotted driving erratically by several eagle-eyed passers by and the authorities were duly notified.

The cops eventually caught up with the lawn mower riding duo at a local liquor store, where the neighbor was emerging with two cases of beer. (No word on which brand.) The driver of the mower was charged with "operating under the influence."

No word as to how the two got home or what happened to the two cases of beer.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

My Tipper Gore Moment: Is it OK to let my 11-year-old daughter listen to Top 40 radio?

Seriously, you cannot turn on any Top 40 or rock FM station these days without hearing at least one song in the span of 10 minutes that doesn't have raunchy or sexually explicit lyrics. Go on, I dare you, try it. It's gotten to the point, said my neighbor, G., to me this morning, after asking me if I had heard the song "Birthday Sex," (I had not) which she said is played seemingly every 10 minutes on one station or another, that she doesn't want to turn on the radio when the kids are around. And I have to kind of agree with her.

Some background: Until relatively recently, or so it seemed, my daughter had no interest in pop or really any other kind of "adult" music. Indeed, for a while we thought we would never be able to listen to anything other than Raffi or The Mother Goose Jazz Band or Singin' in the Bathtub or that Arthur CD or something other than Sesame Street in our cars. Then, some time last summer, everything changed. Suddenly, our 10-year-old was singing Top 40 songs and asking for an iPod for Hanukkah. And -- gasp! -- she actually started asking me to... turn on the radio when we drove together.

I was initially thrilled, especially as we tended to like the same music. Suddenly I could once again listen to my iPod and to WPLJ and z100 and WBLI and most of my other pre-programmed radio stations without a little voice in the back chirping "Mom, could you turn off the radio, PLEASE?!" (Hey, at least she said "please.")

Then, one day, while listening to the Black Eyed Peas' song "Hey Mama" on my iPod with my daughter bopping to the beat in the back seat, I had my first Tipper Gore moment*: Will.I.Am just said WHAT?! OMG, and he just said it, like, seven more times.

"Um, sweetie, let's change the song, OK?" I called out to the back seat. "Why mom?" asked the cherubic voice behind me. And so, I told her. And I told her why it wasn't appropriate for her -- and us -- to listen to. And she agreed.

And we were good -- until my (and her) infatuation with Britney Spears, specifically with the Britney song "If You Seek Amy," the chorus of which contains a naughty pun according to some listeners (though it escaped this listener). Then my daughter noticed that radio stations were suddenly playing versions where "if you seek Amy" had been changed to "if you see Amy" or repeated "ha ha hee hee ha ha ho ho" instead of "if you seek Amy" in the chorus, and she asked me why. And I told her.

So we developed this kind of unspoken rule about which songs were appropriate for 11-year-old girls (and boys) to listen to (my daughter having turned 11 end of May), which I'd rather not go into here but you can guess, and we adhered to it (for the most part). (For the record, we are very strict, probably much stricter than most parents, about which movies and TV shows our daughter can watch, as well as which Internet sites are OK to visit, but we hadn't really thought about what music or songs were appropriate until recently. Sigh. Let me just say, being a parent is way tougher than you think.)

And then came Lady Gaga, real name Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, that nice Catholic girl from Yonkers. HA!

As those of you who regularly read the blog know, I am a big fan of techno pop/new wave music and really like Lady Gaga's song "Poker Face." So when I heard she had a new song out, called "Love Game," I wanted to hear it. (Btw, you can see the "official" video of "Love Game" here.) But when I happened upon the song while driving with my daughter the other day -- the first few lines of which, which are repeated several times, are "Let's have some fun, this beat is sick, I wanna take a ride on your disco stick" -- she immediately piped up "Mom, I don't think this song is appropriate!" So I changed the station.

But we didn't have to wait long to hear it again. Again, I changed the station. But by the next time it came on, we just left it. I know: Bad mommy. But by that point we both were curious to hear it (call it "forbidden fruit syndrome"), and I figured she was bound to hear it at some point. So I just let the song play.

Lest you think I have utterly caved, though, know that now when the song comes on, before we listen, I tell her in my strictest, sternest mommy voice, "Under NO circumstances are you to go ride on any boy's 'disco stick,' understand, young lady?!" Which makes me feel a bit better (and embarrasses the heck out of my daughter, who freaks out when her mom or dad try to discuss basic sex ed with her, or tease her about boys, forget riding on some guy's "disco stick," though I know this will change soon enough.)

For the record, Flo Rida's "Right Round" and Ciara and Justin Timberlake's "Love Sex Magic" are still on the verboten list, as is the 1987 classic "Boom Boom," by Greek-American hottie Paul Lekakis (not to be confused with the Black Eyed Peas' new hit, "Boom Boom Pow").

*In 1984, when Tipper Gore's daughter Karenna was 11, Mrs. Gore bought her daughter Prince's album Purple Rain. Gore had heard of Prince, but didn't listen to his music -- or rather his lyrics -- and was shocked to hear how explicit some of it was, in particular the song "Darling Nikki." Soon after, she launched a movement, the Parents Music Resource Center, to get record companies to put warning labels on records marketed to children, and even went before Congress. Many in the music industry objected and mocked Gore, who claimed she did not advocate censorship just awareness.

At the time of the controversy, I didn't see what the big deal was. Now, however, as the parent of an 11-year-old female, in an age where you can hear songs called "Birthday Sex" on mainstream radio in the middle of the afternoon, I think Gore had a point and am wondering what the heck happened.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

How to get him to stop snoring... or a non-engineer's guide to getting a good night's rest

Tired of your mate keeping you up at night with his (or her) snoring? Wondering which over-the-counter cures work the best? Well, wonder no more my friends. J-TWO-O is now your one-stop-blog for the skinny on snoring cures.

And speaking of skinny, do you know that skinnier people (are you paying attention guys?) snore less than heavier people? Indeed, excess pounds are a primary cause of snoring -- as are smoking, drinking alcoholic beverages close to bed time, and sleeping on your back.*

After doing some -- ahem -- field research, I came up with the following Snore Prevention Methodology Table, which rates different anti-snoring methods/products on a Zzz scale. The more Zzz's, the more effective the product or method was at preventing snoring -- or helping the person sleeping next to or near the snorer get a decent night's rest.

(NOTE: Click on the table to see a larger view.)

Here's wishing you a good night's sleep tonight and every night.....

*Note: There are also serious medical conditions that result in snoring, such as sleep apnea, but I'm not going to go into that here. Just click on the link to learn more.

Monday, June 1, 2009

This version of "Total Eclipse of the Heart" is literally awesome

For those of you unfamiliar with the genre, literal videos are versions of real music videos which have been cleverly dubbed so that the singer sounds like he/she is singing about what is actually happening in the video. Dust Films claims to be "the official home of the original Literal Videos," and features literal versions of A-Ha's "Take on Me," Tears for Fears' "Head over Heels," Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Under the Bridge," and Billy Idol's "White Wedding," all of which are all kinds of awesome, especially if you know or remember the original. (Click on the Dust Films link above to check out the videos.)

Now someone has come out with a literal version of Bonnie Tyler's 1983 hit "Total Eclipse of the Heart," which friend of the blog Larissa sent me a link to earlier this morning. The video had me laughing so hard, I had tears streaming down my face (and the spouse stopped in my office to see if everything was okay).

And now, without further ado, I give you "Total Eclipse of the Heart: Literal Video Version":

Btw, had I, back in the 1980s, known that boarding school boys were that hot, I would have gone. I also have a whole new take on fencing.