1980s, Advertising, Celebrities, Humor

Gee Your Hair Smells Terrific But For The Love Of All That Is Holy, Stop Touching It

I watch a lot of late night television.  A lot.  At the time it actually comes on.  Late.  I don’t record it or DVR it or whatever else people do these days.  I simply know when shows come on, and then I sit in front of the television at that time and watch them.  If I were too busy to do that, I would have to reassess my life.  Many times, when Leno or Kimmel are on commercial, we turn the channel to Letterman, and my husband asks for the umpteenth time why he is still on the air.  My hub has no memory of Dave’s heydey decades ago; all he sees is the crochety beige shell of a host who lost his humor and his sass well before the Towers fell.  He’s like that cantankerous old ventriloquist dummy, Walter.  Sometimes we think, “This will be the night that the Top Ten is actually funny.”  But it never is.  Never.  I tell him I’m pretty sure they did a really funny list in 1993, but then I remember even Conan was funnier than Dave that year.  Crap, that was twenty years ago.  TWENTY.  One score.  Yeesh.

Nonetheless, Dave, Jay, Craig, Conan, and the two Jimmies have one thing in common: guests.  They share the same guests.  We see the same actors in different suits, night after night, promoting the same movie with the same clip and the same set-up that gets really old.  But even this pales in comparison to what really gets my goat.  And a week never goes by without it happening.  Sometimes it happens twice in one night.  And it’s never the actors, only the actresses.  And no, it’s not their ridiculously short dresses that they intermittently tug down, as though they had NO IDEA how it would register on camera, as though a stylist strapped them down in a chair and dressed them against their will, never explaining how fabric bends when one moves from standing to sitting, or worse–some madman appeared just before they went on stage and hacked six inches off their dress with a cleaver.  The nerve!

But that’s not it.  What chaps my hide is how often they touch their hair.  I don’t mean once or twice.  I mean every couple of seconds.  Inhale, touch hair, exhale, be normal.  Inhale, touch hair, exhale, sit still like a composed human being.  And they try to play it off as though they weren’t doing it.  Jay Leno will say a witty retort, and they will laugh nervously, and bang!  There goes the hand up to the face.  Half the time, their hair isn’t even IN their face to begin with.  They just want to touch it, like they’re Kelly LeBrock and they just started using Pantene, and they can’t believe how touchable it is.  It is so annoying.  Sometimes they will take the same strand of hair and attempt to pull it back behind their right ear, but it’s just a TOUCH too short, and so it immediately falls forward, and yet they spend the entire segment, fiddling with it, yanking and falling, yanking and falling.  Katie Holmes is the worst!  And no, it doesn’t make you look cute and sweet and humble, and aw, shucks.  It makes me wonder 1) why are you so damn insecure if you are a famous Hollywood actress millionaire or 2) you need to upgrade your Hold Control on your hairspray.  Can I suggest TRESemme (ooh la la) extreme hold?  That’s like five dollars at Walgreen’s, and that crap’s not moving.  Not in a tsunami.

I’m not talking about hair twirling.  It’s not just a casual, playful thing.  It’s moving it back, moving it out of the face, pushing it away, over and over and over and over again.  Mila Kunis.  Demi Moore.  It’s not sexy.  It’s distracting.  Don’t their publicists tell them to ix-nay the hair-touching after so many repeat offenses?  Look, if you simply cannot control yourself, perhaps you should do what Scarlett Johansson so often does.  Wear an updo with nary a tendril in sight.  Pulled completely off the face.  Then there’s nowhere to hide.  And isn’t that the point?  Aren’t talk shows for shameless self-promotion?  If you still can’t fight the fixation, then just grab the water mug and sip.  Some people do that a lot.  Just don’t take it to extremes.  Maybe you could tug on your earlobe like some hyperactive Carol Burnet.  Bring that one back into vogue.  Or rub that chin hair nub back and forth, the one you plucked three nights ago.   Or–and this is crazy–you could simply fold your hands in your lap and act like a lady–and I can’t believe I’m saying this–like Britney Spears did on Kimmel last September.  She kept her hands in her lap and off her face.  She did have the world’s shortest oufit on, though.  And she was all stiff, like maybe she needed to pee.  But her hair looked fabulous, all Barbarella and sexpot.  And she barely touched it at all.  Go, Britney!

Advertising, Humor

Generation Medication

My grandfather grew up during the Great Depression, and he fought in World War II. As of this moment, he is alive and lucid and self-sufficient and, per Tom Brokaw, a member of the “greatest generation any society has produced.” Mad props to Granddad. Since then, lesser generations have spawned the title of Baby Boomers, as well as Generations X, Y, and Z. But what comes after Z? Look, I’m no Tony Danza or Bruce Sprinsteen, but if I were the Boss, I would suggest this: Generation Medication.

Here’s the part where I’m supposed to fill you up with staggering statistics of how sales and consumption of prescription meds have increased exponentially over the past several decades, but you evidently have access to the internet, so you can do that yourself. But just to humor you, here goes: Back when flannel shirts and Nirvana were en vogue, 9 million prescriptions were written for anti-depressants alone. By 2009, more than 39 million were written. In 2000, pharmaceutical companies spent $2.5 billion on advertisements, and by 2003, it had increased to over $3 billion. That’s half a billion in three years, if I did my math right.

But you don’t need these statistics. You have friends whose kids are doped up due to ADD. Your parents might be struggling to afford all their meds, even generic ones. And heaven knows there are a handful of people at your job who are flat out crazy. You may thank God that they ARE medicated. You’ve overheard their phonecalls. And each of us knows someone who’s tried Viagra or Cialis. The point is, most of us are medicated. Even now I’m on a “severe cough and cold medicine,” and two hours into it, it has failed to relieve any symptoms. Granted, it’s not prescription strength.

I admit I have never been a fan of medication. Never even liked taking Advil or Tylenol, even when high school cramps clean laid me out, propped against the cool tile of a bathroom stall, begging sweet Jesus to take me, please take me. But when insomnia came knocking at my door several years ago, everything changed. Desperate for remedy, I discovered that doctors LOVE doling out meds, as well as mousepad and pen freebies, to make you feel that much more special. And when I called to tell them that the medicine, days later, had still failed to put me to sleep, they never apologized. They simply phoned in another med to try, at another $45 or $60 co-pay, depending on how desirable and recently released the med was.

I spent hours reading the drug information sheets, becoming well-acquainted with their side effects, many of which contradicted each other, like constipation AND diarrhea. And almost all the side effects included death. Really? Isn’t death enough of a deterrent for anyone to opt against a drug? In addition, I began to discover that many of the drugs I took weren’t even intended to cure insomnia; that was just a common side effect. I became so familiar with these drugs that when I discovered a blue drug rep pen on stage at church during last week’s band practice, I couldn’t help but yell out, “Whose Seroquel pen is this? Which one of you bipolar schizophrenic freaks is on Seroquel?”

After a year of dozens of medications, including Lunesta, which offered an aftertaste kin to fresh acidic wretch, and Ambien, which actually gave me six hours of sleep for a few weeks, but with the added bonus of vise grip headaches, I officially gave up on western medicine. And all of the doctors and pharmacists who lied to me. But I am in the minority. Drugs are so prevalent, so commonplace, that I think I can safely assume that the new generation will be entirely medicated. Maybe they will name their kids Zocor and Zestril to make a little side cash. Farfetched, you say? Remember those kids in the U.K. who sold their space face to advertisers to pay off their student loan debt?

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I am reminded of all the tobacco ads I used to see in print. In my teens, there was an ad for Newport cigarettes that portrayed two men carrying a pole, with a woman hanging upsidedown from it, one arm dangling down to the ground (read into that what you will). The intention, I suppose–like all Newport ads–was to show friends and lovers (almost always young and vibrant) “alive with pleasure.” I’ve done a lot of things in my life, but it has never even occurred to me to catch a free ride on a pole being schlepped by two buddies, especially since I know the intense pain of bulging discs that could cause. But at some point in my adult life, cigarette ads disappeared from magazines.

There was a lull. And then suddenly, out of nowhere, prescription drug ads appeared, or DTC (Direct-To-Consumer) ads, intended to appeal directly to patients, rather than doctors. All we had to do was fall prey to the ad with the lady spinning on a hilltop of flowers, mention the name to our doctor, and the bottle was in our hands faster than you can say, “Why didn’t I buy stock in Walgreen’s twenty years ago?” It was great for drugstores, great for doctors who declined to educate themselves, choosing instead to memorize and spout off the pharmaceutical company literature, and seemingly great for the consumer, because we got to self-diagnose and self-medicate, and frankly, alcohol hasn’t been doing the trick. I admit it’s easy to get caught up in it: The actors singing “CELEBRATE! CELEBREX!” are enough to make anyone wish he had arthritis.

Pick up any magazine, from Bon Appetit to The Family Handyman, and you will be barraged with DTC ads.  And not just one page ads, like the cigarettes used to be.  No, thanks to the good people at Pfizer, these are three and four page ads.  And who doesn’t want their magazine full of filler trash?  Who wouldn’t want to spend an afternoon reading about NSAIDS and Botox?  Frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised to open up a new Bible and find Humira ads tucked between Galatians and Ephesians–for when a miracle just isn’t enough.

But as for me and my home, we will steer our kids away from medications that address the symptoms, but rarely the cause.  I want my kids to know emotions are natural, depression is natural, pain is natural.  Does it suck?  Yes.  But the answer isn’t always pills.  Don’t get me wrong; drugs are not innately evil. Drug companies, perhaps, but not drugs. I know a little girl who is alive today due to the grace of God and the miracle of modern medicine. Her medicines don’t clutter the pages of my Marie Claire. The issue here is so many medicines being overprescribed, unnecessary, and ill-researched. And what about user error? Check out the stats on prescription drug-related suicides and accidental overdoses.  Now that’s a bitter pill to swallow.

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Celebrities, Food, Humor, TV

Guy Fieri and Odium Ova

The truth is, I couldn’t find a word meaning hatred of eggs.

This post is not to slam the Captain of Flavor Town (the media has done that enough lately), his spiky bleached highlights, or his two different shirt styles (the Charlie Sheen character on 2 1/2 Men, which is essentially the Kramer shirt from Seinfeld–or the one with flames that always makes me want to launch into a rendition of “Greased Lightning.”) I genuinely enjoy the show, and I don’t want Food Network to “disappear it” the way they did Throwdown with Bobby Flay. At the end of each show, Bobby would inquire, “Ask yourself this? Are you ready for a throwdown?” I speak for many American women, when I answer affirmatively. Yes, Bobby. Yes, we are.

Sorry, back to Guy. My concern is that a purported connoisseur of diners, one-third of the show’s title on Triple D, should love eggs. Not even just LIKE eggs, but love eggs. Incredible, edible eggs are what make or break a diner. How can one so vocal of his abhorrence of them possibly assess the merits of any establishment whose reputation rests on its ability to prepare eggs?

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Does he have a right to detest eggs? Absolutely. Everyone out there loathes something. I’m not keen on ketchup-swathed meatloaf or plastic-y processed Kraft Singles. And I imagine there exists a Gentile somewhere who doesn’t like bacon, perish the thought. I suppose my beef with Guy is that eggs are so versatile. I get it if you don’t like sunny side up, if you don’t want a runny yolk hardening up in seconds on your plate. And I accept that egg dishes cool down very quickly, so you’ve got to shake a tailfeather if you’re going to consume them, and not dawdle about. But there are so many options, so much variety to choose from. It’s the first question your waitress asks. “How do you like your eggs?” Scrambled, hardboiled, poached, over easy, over hard. Oh, what about eggs in a nest? Where you put the egg inside the toast? I’ve seen this done with a heartshaped egg inside the bread. Just precious.

Maybe I didn’t grow up in Flavor Town, but I did grow up in Austin, aka Brunch City, USA. Every weekend, we ate brunch. It was a given. We never tolerated a restaurant waiting list (we’d stomp right back to the Nissan Sentra and go elsewhere), unless it was for The Omelettry. It was worth the wait, worth the smell of patchouli wafting off aging hippies reading The Chronicle under ball moss-infested oak trees, worth the teensy graffiti-riddled bathroom with Jenny’s number on the stall. A broccoli sour cream omelette with gingerbread pancakes! Or maybe migas? Scrambled eggs with onions, tomatoes, cilantro, jalapenos, cheese, and tortilla strips, with a side of black beans and home fries. THAT is what’s really money, Guy! Eggs.

Nevermind how protein-packed eggs are or however high in cholesterol, and ignore the superiority of free-range chickens; it’s about TASTE. Why would anyone’s tastebuds say no to eggs? Even my eyes love eggs. I’ve actually ripped a page out of Martha Stewart Living just because the photograph of deviled eggs was so simplisticly beautiful: just smooth scooped-out egg white filled with gorgeous pilloy yolk, sprinkled with paprika. Sigh. Even my April 2011 Food Network Magazine has a two page spread of “All-Star Deviled Eggs,” with recipes from a dozen notable chefs. Guess who’s not represented? Go figure.

Nonetheless, Guy has a standing invitation to my home for brunch. He can fuel up on bacon, biscuits, and hash browns, and wash it down with freshly-ground coffee. And when I try to entice him with a plate of delicious Tex-Mex migas and he politely declines, I won’t be offended. Flabbergasted, but not offended.