Category Archives: Pop-Culture

30 days

One of my favorite shows on TV is Morgan Spurlock’s 30 Days. It’s just one of a few “serious” shows that I’m watching this summer. My TV diet right now is heavy on ridiculous reality shows, which I do enjoy. It’s nice to balance the fluff, however, with some substance. 30 Days does that for me.

The basic premise of the show is to take someone and place them in a particular environment that is unfamiliar to them for 30 days. Some of the episodes just involve Morgan working in a coal mine for 30 days or Morgan living in a prison for 30 days, that type of thing. The really good ones place people outside their comfort zones. For instance, they had a Mormon mother move in with two gay dads who had adopted several children. Another one of my favorites involved Morgan and his wife moving to a different city and having to live on minimum wage for 30 days.

One of the most powerful episodes I watched was about animal rights. They had a guy from North Carolina who was a hunter move in with a family of vegans who worked with PETA. He had to work in an animal rehabilitation center, spend time with the PETA family, and actually participate in several PETA events. I don’t necessarily agree with everything that PETA supports or the way that they tend to protest. But, I do have to admit that the useless mistreatment and killing of animals needs to stop. It was amazing to see the hunter open himself up to another way of thinking.

I guess the thing I most like about the show is that it follows people while they explore different ways of life beyond their own. Not all of the people on the show make changes or expand their worldviews. For instance, the gay dads and the Mormon mama’s parting of ways was barely cordial. They spent most of their month in disagreement. It was extremely uncomfortable. I may be biased, but Mormon Mama just looked like an idiot. The gay dads always could defend why they believed what they believed. Mrs. Mormon’s best defense for her beliefs about gays was “this is the core of what I believe. And, I’ve always believed it. I just know that it’s true. I can feel it.” Not exactly a foolproof argument.

If you’re going to go on a show that places you right in the middle of something that you disagree with, you probably should be able to at least defend your beliefs. She just kept on complaining that everyone was ganging up on her. Someone seriously needed to remind her that she chose to go into a home with two gay dads. And if you’re gonna tell them to their face (in their own home) that they are going to hell and leading their children down that same path, you’d better have a stronger argument than “this is just what I feel to be true.” I can respect someone who has different beliefs if they can at least give a good reason why they believe it. Or, at least have the guts to say “I don’t know, but I’m trying to figure it out.”

Oh crap. Damn. There I go a-preachin’ again. The show makes me think and gets me riled up at the same time. Well, this has become a longer post than I’d originally intended. I just wanted to share my thoughts about 30 days. Check it out, the first season is already on DVD.

Starbucks closing 600 stores…

I guess I should stop apologizing for admitting to thinking certain things. That’s kind of the point of my blog, right? I’m neurotic. Who isn’t, though? I think sometimes that people try too hard to appear like they aren’t neurotic. I say, embrace your neuroses!

OK. So, now that I have the formalities out of the way, I’d like to go on the record and state that I actually downloaded the PDF file of the list of 600 Starbucks stores that are closing. Not only did I download it, but I also went through the list to see which ones would affect me. I was relieved to see that only 2 were in San Francisco and both were downtown. Only 1 have I ever visited. I had my moment of mourning, observed a moment of silence, and am now trying to move forward in these difficult and trying times. I would like to thank you in advance for your condolences.

I couldn’t help but feel sad as I looked through the list and noticed that the good people of Hickville, NY, would be losing their beloved Broadway Mall Starbucks. They will now have to get their Starbucks’ coffee from the store that probably sits in the parking lot of the Broadway Mall. Or, possibly the one that is on the way to the Broadway Mall. These are trying times indeed.

It’s not that I love Starbucks. I actually prefer to get my coffee from H Cafe, which sits approximately 20 yards from my front doorstep. It’s a privately owned and operated coffee house/café with a lot of character(s), depending on how you look at it. But I travel for a living, and Starbucks at least provides me with a consistent cup of coffee while I’m on the road.

My home flight attendant base is at the Oakland International Airport. Up until about a year ago, there wasn’t even a Seattle’s Best or a Peet’s Coffee. Now out of nowhere, there are 4 Starbucks! 2 are open and 2 are soon to be open. This might not be a lot for say, LAX or Chicago O’Hare, but Oakland only has approximately 30 gates. Not that I’m complaining, it’s nice not to have to walk more than 50 yards to get to the closest Starbucks. And business seems to be pretty good for my OAK Starbucks, too. The other day the closest one to me had a line of about 30 people.

It’s nice to see that when God closes one Starbucks’ doors, He opens another.

p.s.- I kept the list…so if you are curious to see if one of your Starbucks is closing, just ask… 😉

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…