Category Archives: Pop-Culture

Hot Summer Reality TV Shows

I. Love. Reality. Television. More than anything else in the world, reality television has been fuel for this blog. I know, I know…how sad. Or is it? While I could be making social or political observations, I’m watching these gems so that you don’t have to. I view it as a charitable act of kindness directed at you, my reader. And, you’re welcome, by the way.

So, the latest addition to my reality TV viewing line-up is a determined little show entitled Greatest American Dog. It’s a real gem. In fact, Jeff said last night as we were watching that it’s really the Crowned: The Mother of all Pageants for the summer TV season, and I have to agree. If you remember, Crowned was that show where the mothers and daughters competed in a several month long pageant. We were subjected to their “talent,” their cat fights, their public appearances, and their “charitable” acts. Priceless.

Greatest American Dog is ridiculous. The contestants are emotionally unbalanced (the people, not the dogs). The host is a sexy zoologist. Besides the viewers, the real victims are the dogs. All this adds up to one hilarious hour of programming. I don’t think that’s what they were going for, by the way. But I’m not going to fully review the show just yet. I’m still collecting material. It’s gonna be good, though, friends. It’s gonna be good.

Another goodie is Bravo’s Shear Genius, where we see just who is a “cut above the rest.” Hosted by Jaclyn Smith, whose hair is always fabulous, this show features 12 emotionally unbalanced hair stylists wielding sharp objects and a mentor who sounds like Elmer Fudd (Rene Fris). See-wious-wee.

This past week we said good-bye to the only straight male contestant Matthew. I was going to count how many times he mentioned his wife, but I got irritated and quit. I guarantee, though, that he mentioned her at least twice in each sentence. For instance, “It’s good that I got kicked off, because now I can return to my wife who loves me and I love my wife the same…I tried to envision how my wife would look in this dress and how my wife would want her hair done…and when I go home to sleep with my wife, my wife will tell me that she loves me and I’ll tell my wife that I love her…” AAAGGGHHH!!! We get it, you have a wife. You’re straight. Right. Anyone who feels the need to mention their “wife” that much makes me seriously question their “straightness.” Her name is probably George.

I’m sure I’ll have much more to update you on as the summer reality TV season continues to sizzle. I plan to secretly watch the new Bravo series featuring Jo & Slade from The Real Housewives of Orange County. Also, this week Project Runway, Season 5 starts. It’s gonna be good, folks.

275 Smiles

Lately, I have been attempting to “green-up” my life by reading my newspapers online instead of buying them. I realized that I usually only skim through most of the paper anyway, so why buy it? And, I like to read different things from different papers. For instance, I like to read the Money section from USA Today. But, I like to get the world and national news from The New York Times. I get my local news from The San Francisco Chronicle. It just seemed ridiculous to buy three newspapers and read only part of each one, especially when I can get the exact same articles online. Plus, the newspaper sites update the news throughout the day and often have video to go along with the articles. So, there you have it.

Anyway, so I was reading the Times last week and came across an interesting article about Tyra Banks entitled Banksable. I’ve included the link to the video portion because I can’t get a copy of the video that is with it any other way. And, that’s the whole purpose of this post. Tyra says she has extensively studied and rehearsed the smile. And, better yet, her list of “perfected” smiles has evolved into a complete set of just 275. 275 smiles! OK, you all know by now that Tyra Banks has provided me with countless hours of enjoyment. I should send her a “thank you” JibJab (remember, I’m keeping it green.) Which reminds me, check out Jib-Jab. It’s much better than sending regular ecards. You can even put you and your friends faces in videos. Love it. Here’s the Christmas Video I sent out to some of my friends last Christmas:

Anyway, I’ve totally gone off-topic. Crap. Where was I? Oh yes, Tyra’s 275 smiles! 🙂 When you watch the video from The New York Times Magazine article, you’ll be happy to see that she has narrowed it down to just a few important smiles for us. And, I say “why?” Why not give us all 275 smiles, Tyra. Or, are you waiting to put them all in a book? This all got me thinking, “I, too, have several key smiles.” This is what led me to do another fabulous photo shoot for you. I doubt any of these are a part of Tyra’s 275. And, it brings me great pleasure to introduce you to Tyler’s 5 Key Smiles ®:

1) The “Mary Murphy” Smile (from So You Think You Can Dance)
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2) The “3rd grade” Smile (This is what my school picture from 3rd grade looked like)
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3) The “Oh You…” Smile (Oh you…stop it, you always say the funniest things. Also known as the “Renee Zellweger” Smile)
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4) The “I Need a Bathroom” Smile (This look really says it all)
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5) The “Old Geezer” Smile (This one really hurts to do–use with caution)

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She Forced Me to Do It

I am really embarrassed to be doing this. I thought that I could just leave her alone, that she would slip on past without requiring any further mentioning. But, she’s done it again. This past week on American Idol, Paula Abdul commented or “judged” a performance that hadn’t happened yet. We were down to the five remaining Idols performing Neil Diamond songs. They each performed two songs. The Idols would all sing their first song without any individual judging. Then the judges were to comment on all five of the performers’ first songs at the same time, sort of a quick overview of their opinions for all five (normally, they comment after each individual’s performance).

Evidently, the change was a little too much for Paula Abdul. She started in her usual drugged-up way, lots of rambling about nothing, telling the performers that they were in “the zone” or that they had found “the pocket.” What? Anyway, she commented on Jason Castro’s first song. Fine. And then she proceeded to comment on how she felt about his second song, how it didn’t quite “do it for her” or something. Now, I usually tune out when she speaks and had to tune back in to catch what she was mumbling. The problem was that Jason Castro hadn’t sung his second song yet.

Now, it’s common knowledge that the judges listen to the dress rehearsal performances. And, so, they have often heard the songs before the LIVE! performance. So, Paula had heard the second song. Whatever. I don’t believe that Paula actually thinks about what she says, though. What’s funny to me is that after Randy reminded her that they’ve only sung the first song, she tried to play dumb. Now, watching Paula Abdul try to “play dumb” would be like watching George W. try to poke fun at someone who has poor “grammar skills.” You can’t be dumb and “play dumb.” She said, “Oh, I thought that he had already sung his second song.” Then followed with, “This is hard.”

Really? What part of telling singers–who have much better vocal skills than her–how to sing, or rather, how to find “the zone” is hard? If you remember, back toward the beginning of the season, Paula released her new ‘comeback’ single, “Dance Like There’s No Tomorrow.” I found it very interesting that she didn’t even perform the song on the show. They just played the video. I guess she was trying not to “outsing” the Idol performers. That’s commendable, Paula, because that would be truly difficult, trying to “find your zone” and just be “in that pocket where you are at your best.”

I’m sorry if I come across as being a little too anti-Paula. I’m actually very pro-Paula. I seriously hope that she continues providing us with such an abundance of humorous material. I’m confident that she will. And, when she does, remember, that she forced me to do this.

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I thought it would be fun to review another great moment in Paula history, the infamous “Paula Abdul Drunk Interview.” Enjoy…

Enough Already with the F$%#@! "Path to’s!"

I’ve mentioned before that I love self-help books. Oh yes, there isn’t a self-help book out there that I haven’t longingly flipped through hoping to find all the answers to all my questions. I should also mention that I am quite far along in my recovery… from self-help books. I no longer have a tall stack of these marvelous literary works sitting next to my couch just waiting for my perusal.

That’s not to say that I no longer read self-help books. I just am controlling my impulse to buy every fucking book that has “…the Path to…” in the title. “The Path to Enlightenment,” “The Path to a Healthy Back,” “The Path to a Great Self-Esteem,” “The Real Path to the Right Path…” AGGGGHHHHHH!!!!! Sorry, I think I just had an enlightened moment.

Unfortunately, recently I had a relapse. I gave in to the temptation and bought several self-help books. But, before I get to those books I need to say something. Hang on just a second while I compose myself…

Ok, everyone take a deep breath now. And exhale. I am about to say something that is probably going to get me banned from blogger.com. Wait for it… Wait for it… I’m ready. I am sick of Oprah. I am sick of all the “big gives.” I am sick of her “favorite things.” I am sick of the trips to Africa. And, most of all I am sick of “The Oprah Book Club.” Fuck. I feel better, but now I have to explain. First of all, she’s the self-appointed Mayor of Narcissist Village. That’s enough to drive anyone crazy. I think it’s swell that she wants to make the world a better place. Lovely. But, the Oprah franchise is getting just a little out of hand, don’t ya think? The show. The magazine. The schools. The online courses. It’s pretty sad that her stamp of approval is like winning the world series for a writer. It guarantees an immediate trip to the top of the best seller’s list.

I have to come clean, though. I am guilty of buying books because I saw them on her show. And, I am also guilty of enjoying some of them. For instance, I loved “Eat, Pray, Love.” But, after recently buying “The Secret,” “The Power of Now” and “A New Earth,” I am over it. First off, let me tell you just how much I hated “The Secret.” It’s Awful. Horrendous. I was so offended by that book that I got rid of it after reading just about 4 chapters. I gave it all the chance it deserved to prove to me it was good. And, it failed. I love the concept that there is power in positive thinking and even in negative thinking. But, to take it to the level of blaming the Holocaust on the Jews and cancer on one’s own negative thoughts, well now, that’s just fucked up. Sometimes bad things just happen. Or, sometimes they happen because an evil, inhumane ruler decides to try and wipe out an entire group of people.

Oh, crap. I’m really on my soapbox today. I had better watch my “stinkin’ thinkin’.” All I will say about the other two Eckhart Tolle books I purchased is that I about choked on the amount of conceited, self-congratulatory back-patting that I found in the introductions alone. According to the books, I guess I’m just not “enlightened” enough to be ready for them. In the words of Chelsea Handler, one of my favorite comedians, Mr. Tolle can “suck it, suck it real hard.” There.

I guess I’m not as evolved as I thought I was.

Saint Dominique

Look out Mother Teresa, there’s a new girl in town. And she’s hungry. Well, not in a Calcutta sort of way, but more like an ANTM sort of way. This is the type of shit I live for. I mean seriously. I sit watching America’s Next Top Model just waiting, hoping for someone to give me some precious jewel that I can take and run with. So, I’m just gonna get straight to the good stuff.

And, I quote…

“I wanna be like freakin’ Mother Teresa, but in a diva kind of way, okay?!”

–Cycle 10 contestant, Dominique

Wow. She said this shortly after she’d named several others whom she wanted to emulate. People such as Donald Trump, Oprah, etc… This girl from Columbus, OH, has got some serious narcissistic issues. To the point of being completely delusional. I love it. And to think that all the girls on the show hate her. This is where reality TV is really great, because you can’t edit this stuff in. No matter what context you put that clip into, Dominique just looks like an ass. I think I’m really starting to like her.

I don’t know what made that resonate with me so strongly. Maybe it’s the fact that she is putting Donald Trump and Mother Teresa in the same category. And then, to suggest that’s what she wanted for herself. Bless her heart. Dominique has such a healthy ego. Her version of self denial (if she even knows what that means) is restricting the number of times she compliments herself a day to less than 30. Also, I doubt that Mother Teresa ever had aspirations of being a Top Model. I could be wrong, though. I mean, they do share a certain man-ish quality. A certain je ne sais quoi. And, maybe late a night when she was all alone she practiced her wide-eye squint. So, Let’s compare photos:

Here’s our Blessed Mother Teresa looking fierce…

And, here’s the fabu St. Dominique…


I will admit that I did have to look hard to find a picture of her that was less than flattering. Damn Photoshop, damn you to hell.

I guess it’s not fair of me to single out St. Dominique when there are so many other seriously odd looking/behaving girls on the show. She just has made herself such an easy target. Which is the reason that I absolutely will never ever be a contestant on ANTM. I, too, have man-ish charateristics. As Tyra (or least I think it was her…) puts it, “There is a lot of ugly in the business of being pretty.” Truer words have never been spoken, Tyra.

Are there really any new ideas?

Everyone likes to think that they are original. I know I do. But, if you look at the numbers, this may not be the case. I went to howmanyofme.com (Isn’t the internet great?) and found out that there are 319 people with my exact first and last name. Also, There are 138,087 Tyler’s out there. And, 701,057 people share my last name. This, of course, is only in the United States. (According to the U.S. Census Bureau–which I worked for one summer and would make an interesting story!) On top of that, I decided to do a search of how many people have ever lived on earth. No one really agrees, but, estimates range from 70 to 110 billion. If you just look at the earth’s current population of 6.6 billion, the chances of originality are pretty small. Somewhere, sometime, someone has probably already said what you think is originally yours. Somewhere, sometime, someone has already dreamed up what you think is your million dollar original idea.

Of course, unless you are Paris Hilton. I’m pretty sure she was the first person to coin the phrase “that’s hot.” She actually registered the phrase in February 2007 and has already sued Hallmark for using it. It’s interesting to see the phrases that people “own.” It’s important to remember that just because you trademark a phrase doesn’t mean you were the original one to say it. We just have this insatiable desire to be original. Paris, a blond with not much intelligence, who lives off her family’s name and money in Southern California, now that’s original.

Of course, there are more blatant forms of plagiarism than others. For instance, politicians seem exceptionally prone to plagiarizing one another’s speeches. I’m not talking about stealing an idea or theory. I’m talking about using word for word excerpts from each other’s speeches without giving credit to the other’s speech writer. Because, of course, politicians don’t even create their own original material. What an interesting society we live in.

But, I’m getting carried away here. I’m sure this topic has already been written on many, many times. I could do a search on it and come up with 1,000,000 hits. Or, actually 12,500,000–that’s how many hits there were when I searched “originality.” I guess it’s quite the popular subject these days.

I guess my point, if I have one, is that I don’t care. Does it really matter if I was the first one to come up with an idea? Not really. Does it make me less creative if someone came up with the same thought or idea before me, if I didn’t know about it? In my mind it was original. And, the important thing is that we all continue to think and attempt to create new ideas. Because, statistically speaking, the odds are pretty good that out of 6.6 billion people, someone will eventually have an original idea that will improve our lives.

"Butcha are, Blanche….ya are in that wheelchair!"

I’m quite an easy target when it comes to my lack of knowledge concerning gay history. I’ve really had to work hard to fill in the gaps in my knowledge. To be more specific, I’m especially lacking in the Bette Davis era of gay pop culture icons. (If you didn’t already know, the title of this post is from What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? starring Bette Davis)

Early on in Jeff and I’s relationship we were at our friends’ apartment enjoying a game night. It was a fun game night, really. We each were given a picture of a gay celebrity or icon to place on our forehead. Then we were to walk around the room and give each other clues as to whom was taped to each other’s forehead. It wasn’t long until I was the only one in the room still wearing his iconic crown of shame.

“She’s a brunette.”

“She played Rachel’s mom on ‘Friends.'”

“She starred in ‘That Girl.'”

“She’s on those St. Jude’s commercials.”

And it continued…

Finally, after much prodding they just “came out” and told me. Clearly expecting the light bulb to final light up, they exclaim, “It’s Marlo Thomas!!!!” I have no clue who Marlo Thomas is. And, I can only vaguely remember the pretty brunette that played Rachel’s mom. I say, “Seriously. I don’t know who Marlo Thomas is.” The next sound heard in the room was that of about 6 chins hitting the floor, followed by silence and disbelief. I think that Jeff was over in the corner crying with embarrassment.

Clearly, something was wrong with me. And, that’s when it happened. The first time, anyway. My gay card was taken away. To a room full of gay men and my straight friends Shahla and Rich, who both have “gay cards” in their own way, it was like finding a gold mine. Several years later they still joke about it.

Several weeks following the horrifying event, Jeff and I went back over for dinner. Immediately after we finished dinner, our friends Kirk and Jaime held a gay intervention for me. They made me sit and look at a stack full of pictures of gay icons. Actually, it was another game. Name the icon. And, I guessed about 75% of them correctly. Not surprisingly, I had trouble with the older ones. Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, Charles Pierce, etc. etc. The important thing is that, technically speaking, I passed. So, I received my card back. For the time being, anyway.

Honestly, I never knew what I was missing. Growing up in rural Iowa and then going to Bible college–I just wasn’t really ever exposed to these fabulous people. And, what’s worse is that I didn’t know anything about Harvey Milk or the Stonewall Riots. Fortunately, I have educated myself on these and other important moments/people in gay history. But, up until about ten years ago I had a gay IQ of about 2.

I knew 2 things in high school:

1) Guys gave me a funny feeling in my stomach.

2) I loved the Pleasantville High School Drill Team.

Those heavenly girls on the drill team squad rocked my world with their flashy sequined outfits and glitter-filled make-up. Of course, in 1988, boys weren’t allowed to be part of such squads. So, I sat on the sidelines in a bedazzled trance. I may not have had all the greats to look up to and imitate as a child. But, at least I had my drill team girls to give me the inspiration that was needed to create world-class flag and pom routines in the basement and front yard of my childhood home. And, if that didn’t earn me my “gay card,” then no amount of Bette Davis one-liners ever will!

***UPDATE***
Almost immediately after this post went up, I received an interesting comment that can be read below. Evidently, you can’t just say you have a gay card. You need to pay the “Fairy Gay Mother” a hefty price and she’ll be happy to send you one. Fun website. Not so fun prices. Clearly it is expensive to be gay.

Here’s me and “That Girl.”

Here she is now, my claim to shame, Miss Marlo Thomas!
Marlo Thomas