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April 2006 Archives

April 26, 2006

What Does it Take to be a U.S. Citizen?

Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue sure loves the Lord - last week, he signed a few bills allowing Georgia's schools to teach Bible classes, and their courthouses to display the Ten Commandments. But his love of God and man doesn't extend to those born outside our borders. While he had his pen out, he also took the opportunity to sign the harshest immigration law of any state, denying most state services to undocumented immigrants. And other states are looking to get in on the anti-immigrant action, too.

Luckily, our President understands the plight of our lowest-paid workers, admitting on Monday that it's just not "realistic" to deport 11 million people back to their countries of origin - especially when we have crappy jobs that need doing right here. Instead, he's hoping Congress can find a way for these folks to work their way toward becoming proud U.S. citizens.

Obviously, in these uncertain times™, we don't let just anyone become a citizen of our United States. So, what kind of people would we welcome as fellow citizens? A quick trip over to the Citizenship and Immigration website - now under the Department of Homeland Security - proved quite instructional. In order to apply for naturalization, you must be over 18 and have lived in the country for five years (or three, if married to a citizen). Fair enough. You must love the Constitution. Well, sure - who doesn't? Then we come to the sticky part....exhibiting " good moral character."

And what constitutes "good moral character"? Obviously, you can't have been convicted of a crime recently - including gambling or drug related offenses, prostitution, or other "moral turpitude." (sorry, GOP!) You also can't be a polygamist (sorry, Bill Paxton!) or a habitual drunkard (sorry, Amy's Robot!).

Good so far? You'll also need to demonstrate that you can comprehend and write English. At your interview, an immigration official will ask you to demonstrate this by writing a sample sentence of his or her choice. But don't worry - USCIS helpfully offers some samples to practice, such as:

All people want to be free.

America is the land of freedom.

Many people come to America for freedom.

People in America have the right to freedom.

Many people have died for freedom.

Prefer something more related to everyday life? How about writing 100 times:

The man wanted to get a job.

It is a good job to start with.

I go to work everyday.

The children wanted a television.

She needs to buy some new clothes.

They are very happy with their car.

They buy many things at the store.

Of course, why limit our future citizens? Amy and I came up with a few other suggestions, including:

How will he pay for the doctor?

Three dollars an hour is a fair wage.

They enlist their sons in the Army.

Any other suggestions to help our nation's undocumented workers become full participants in our great society?

April 25, 2006

Who wants to kill Tom Cruise?

Let's take a look at some pictures from an MTV event for the Mission: Impossible III premiere in Rome. Who looks like they probably want to kill Tom Cruise?

Lawrence Fishburne at MI3 event

Lawrence Fishburne definitely does.

Jonathan Rhys Myers at MI3 event

So does Jonathan Rhys Myers.

cast of MI3

What the hell, the whole cast probably wants to see him dead.

April 23, 2006

Introducing RummyPool™: When Will Rumsfeld Resign or Get Fired?

rummypool

Let's take a look at the accomplishments of "the best Secretary of Defense the United States has ever had", Donald Rumseld, and then guess when -- despite these achievements -- he'll get fired or "resign":

  • Let Osama get away. (Remember him?)
  • Got illegal war off on the wrong foot with "decapitation strike" which only served to decapitate a restaurant and middle management.
  • "Democracy is untidy" remark opened the door to looting, and ultimately chaos, while he looked on bemusedly and did nothing.
  • Has failed to secure the road to the airport in three years.
  • Has failed to secure Baghdad in three years.
  • Has failed to secure anything except death in three years.
  • Management style alienated military leadership, whom he either ignored or intimidated.
  • Has resisted calls for resignation with folksy manner that started wearing thin around the time his boss declared Mission Accomplished.

I could go on, but let's skip to the fun part!

RummyPool™: When Will Rumsfeld Resign or Get Fired?

Whoever guesses the closest date (without going over) will win a prize from Amy's Robot. The winner will be announced when the winner is known.

Your name:

Your email: (will remain private)

Date Rummy will get fired/resign:

results

April 22, 2006

Thank Heaven

Since I consider myself something of a snack specialist, I thought that the best place to learn about cutting-edge snack innovations would be at the recent snack food manufacturers' trade show, SNAXPO™.

I was wrong. Screw conferences. You want to study snacks? Wait until a 7-Eleven opens on your street.

Now, I grew up with a choice between Store 24 and Cumberland Farms, in an area where convenience stores could only be successful by a) selling gasoline or b) supplying a parking lot for teenagers to hang out in and pay homeless men to buy wine coolers for them. So when the 7-Eleven opened on 42nd Street, I thought, how could a store that gives away free coffee with every breakfast sandwich possibly succeed in an enormous retail space in one of the highest-rent areas in Manhattan?

After I returned from SNAXPO™, still unable to bend my fingers due to salt consumption, I decided to investigate for myself. And that is when I realized that 7-Eleven is SNACK NIRVANA. For one thing, not only does the store stock the most creative brand extensions around, it also employs some of New York's most knowledgeable and aggressive salespeople.

Emily: What is this....some new kind of Tic-Tac? Tic-Tac BOLD™?
Clerk: Yes! They're very good!
Emily: Hm...they look neat - but I don't really like Tic-Tacs.
Clerk: Oh, these are much better than regular Tic-Tac.
Emily: Really?
Clerk: Oh yes! Much better! But we still have the old kind, too.
Emily: Ok, I'll take one of each. And those Chile Picante Corn Nuts.

Besides Tic-Tac BOLD™, which comes in a pleasing squeezable container updated for the 21st century, my 7-Eleven is currently featuring:

Seven flavors and shapes of Cheez-its™, including Fiesta Cheddar Nacho™ and Twisterz Cheddar and More Cheddar™ (don't bother; they're really just regular Cheez-its™ with a coating of Kraft Mac and Cheese powder)

so many cheezits

A wide assortment of my favorite candy ever, Laffy Taffy™, in bold flavors such as "Sparkle Jerry Cherry", which is not only approximately two feet long, but ALSO has a sparkly sugar coating

so much laffy taffy

and Heineken Mini-Kegs for $19.99.

the bounty of 7-Eleven

But 7-Eleven's boldest, most daring product - I dare say, even more creative than Burger King's Chicken Fries, which are designed to fit in your car's cupholder - is almost too much to comprehend.

"Why waste all this space on our hot dog roller grill," 7-Eleven marketing executives must have said to themselves, "When we could appeal to people who want hot, cylindrical foods other than hot dogs? And what do Americans love more than hot dogs? Pizza!"

And so, the 7-Eleven Twista™ was born. (Not, of course, to be confused with the Cheez-it Twisterz™ mentioned above)

the greatest snack food in the universe

While the Twista™ and its roller-grill companion snack the Taquito still appear to be in the pilot phase, I applaud 7-Eleven's ingenuity. I can only hope that these are but the first of many snack foods, like the Chicken Fry, that are tailored with our unique American cultural tastes* and habits** in mind.

*By which I mean, salt and fat
**By which I mean, laziness and gluttony

April 20, 2006

The Squeaky-Clean Bettie Page

Gretchen Mol as Bettie Page

I don't know about you, but before The Notorious Bettie Page, I wasn't too impressed with former almost It girl Gretchen Mol. She was totally forgettable in Rounders and Donnie Brasco, and even on stage in Neil LaBute's play The Shape of Things just didn't have the same presence as other actors like Rachel Weisz and Paul Rudd.

All the attention she's getting for her performance in this movie could bring her, as one critic put it, "a comeback on a Heath Ledger-like scale. " What's so great about the movie and this characterization of Bettie Page is the way it totally redefines "dirty" pictures and 1950's pornography. Gretchen Mol plays her sort of like Dorothy Gale as a pin-up model.

In the movie, Bettie Page herself sees no shame in posing for pictures--after all, there's nothing inherently dirty or profane about a woman in her underwear, or sitting naked in the woods. And staged bondage photos in themselves are more goofy and hilarious than they are salacious. Whatever dirtiness there is in photos like Bettie's is projected onto them by alarmist Senate sub-committees or creepy, self-loathing "fans". The photos themselves show Bettie as a powerhouse of positive life energy (hokey, I know, but how else to describe her?)

It's not surprising that a writer/director like Mary Harron would take this approach. In her first movie, I Shot Andy Warhol, Valerie Solanas is a compelling but mentally unstable character, but Andy Warhol's arrogance and total disregard for the people around him casts him as the bad guy. American Psycho was also about an outrageously vain man projecting all his self-hatred and sickness onto (mostly) female victims. One scene in The Notorious Bettie Page shows a radiant Bettie ordering orange juice in a NYC bar (and being called a "square" by Lily Taylor, who runs the photography studio Bettie works for) being approached by a fan who clearly expects Bettie to be a cruel, domineering bondage queen, not the smiling, gracious person she really was.

Thankfully, the movie doesn't dig too deep into the psychological reasons why Bettie chose the career she did, though some horrific abuse and violence in her youth probably led to her detached approach to relationships and marriages, while throwing herself enthusiastically into erotic photos that featured her either alone or pretending to spank other women. And the movie ends with Bettie's decision to devote her life to God, though doesn't get into the mental breakdowns she suffered later in life (some details in this account of her life.)

Lily Taylor and Chris Bauer are especially great supporting actors as the brother/sister owners of a small-time smut shop who act as Bettie's surrogate family in NY. They don't seem to get the allure of 8-inch heels and whips any more than Bettie does, but are happy to provide their customers with what they want. They have a really cheerful, business-as-usual attitude in the photo shoot scenes, like, "OK Bettie! Time for your ball-gag!"

And as an added bonus, if you go see the movie at the Chelsea Clearview theater like I did, you might get a little handout from a guy who comes through the theater before the previews that says "Are you into fetish and kink?" and provides lots of helpful information about bondage-oriented club nights and parties around the city. Great tie-in! (ba-dum-bum)

April 18, 2006

Who'Dat?™: Bongos

I'm always heartened to see exceptionally desirable and hot actors who have accepted their increasing age, and graciously advance in years still holding onto their elegance and attractiveness. Sure, they'll never be as gorgeous as they were in their youth, but some celebrities find a way to retain the handsome features and classy poise that made them stars in the first place.

Playing the bongos in public is not the way to accomplish this.

To play Who'Dat?™, see if you can identify the celebrity in the picture below. Then click on the picture to see if you are right.

who'dat?

April 17, 2006

Why God hates America

Easter Egg Roll

Westboro Baptist Church protest

Here's some photographic evidence of exactly what has prompted the legendary and energetic Westboro Baptist Church, of the famed godhatesfags.com / godlovesfags.com scuffle, to start picketing funerals of soldiers killed in Iraq with placards saying "Thank God for Dead Soldiers".

From the NY Times article about state legislation banning them from funerals: "Embracing a literal translation of the Bible, the church members believe that God strikes down the wicked, chief among them gay men and lesbians and people who fail to strongly condemn homosexuality. God is killing soldiers, they say, because of America's unwillingness to condemn gay people and their lifestyles."

Gee, and all this time I thought soldiers were being killed because our government deployed the military to fight a war in Iraq.

Above, top: Same-sex couple Christina Burke and Victoria Burke, both from Salisbury, Maryland, pose with Mrs. Bunny and their daughter, Phobe (6 months old), on the South Lawn of the White House during the annual 2006 White House Easter Egg Roll in Washington, April 17, 2006.

Above, bottom: Members of Westboro Baptist Church demonstrating in February in Anoka, Minn., near the funeral for Cpl. Andrew Kemple, who was killed in Iraq. People opposed to the church's views carried flags nearby.

See also: God Hates Shrimp

April 10, 2006

Who's Older?™ Second Career Game Show Hosts

Earlier, we mentioned our - delight? confusion? befuddlement? - over the selection of John O'Hurley as the new host of television's Family Feud. Sure, he has the charm, but does he have that little bit of sleaziness to make middle America uncomfortable?

Well, if he doesn't, there's another actor turned game show host who's making middle America uncomfortable right now on Deal or No Deal. Is it the bald head? The serial killer smile? Whatever it is, later-day Howie Mandel is just creepy.

But frankly, that doesn't matter. We don't really care who's the better host. All we care about is - Who's Older?™

howie mandel serial killer
john ohurley snacking



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