Thursday, 31 January 2008

I had a lot of hate. This is really long. (That's what she said.)

JennieIf I was given unlimited power for one day, the first thing I would do is banish Two and a Half Men from the airwaves. And then? I'd erase all memory of Two and a Half Men from the collective unconscious of the world.

There are a lot of unfunny people on a lot of unfunny TV shows right now. According to Jim. Carpoolers. The George Lopez Show (is that still on?) Pretty much any comedy on CBS that isn't How I Met Your Mother. And let's not forget syndicated shows. Because if I flip past one more goddamn episode of King of Queens I am going to hunt down Kevin James and force feed him his little brown shorts. But the thing about these shows? They're not nominated for awards. They're not consistently the #1 watched comedy in America. Oh no, that honor falls to Two and a Half Men.

That's right. Not The Office. Not 30 Rock. Two and a Half Men. Let that sink in while I tell you why you should hate it.

It's not funny. The characters are one dimensional and that one dimension sucks. As far as I can see, there is not one redeeming thing about it. It even has a laugh track, which I don't find annoying on good shows (see: How I Met Your Mother, Friends), but I find it downright distracting on this show because I spend more time thinking, "wait, I'm supposed to think that's funny? Whaaa?" than paying attention to the story.

Not only is this show not funny, but WORSE STILL, every fan of the show thinks it is the funniest thing to ever grace the airwaves. I know this, because some of these fans are my own family. Every time the show comes up at a family gathering, I feel obliged to say, "I HATE THAT SHOW IT'S NOT FUNNY BLAAARG," and this leads to everyone else saying, "oh, but Jennie, the little kid is so funny and Charlie Sheen is a riot and THE OFFICE SUCKS LET ME JUST GO AHEAD AND STAB YOU RIGHT IN THE HEART."

To prove to you how very NOT funny this show is, I have undertaken the greatest challenge I may ever face. I watched an entire episode. I hope you enjoy this recap more than I enjoyed writing it.

The episode, which TiVo tells me is called "I Can't Afford Hyenas," opens with Charlie Sheen (Charlie) and the kid (no idea what his name is, so let's call him Halfsie, since I'm assuming he's the half a man) watching some game. Jon Cryer (who will be referred to as Duckie for the remainder of this post) walks in and Halfsie is all, "guess what, we're covering the spread," and I'm going to be honest with you. I have no idea what that means. I'm assuming it has something to do with gambling because LATER they talk about Charlie's gambling problem (context clues DERRR). So Duckie is angry that Halfsie is learning how to gamble but then DING-DONG PIZZA'S HERE OOH SOMETHING SHINY. Charlie is all, "I bet that's the pizza," and Halfsie's like, "What's the spread?" and Charlie says, "Pepperoni," like OH HOW CLEVER, SHOW.

Then there are some more gambling jokes and Charlie tips the pizza guy like 800 dollars because he's "not good at math," and "has a beautiful mind," like OH HOW CLEVER, SHOW.

The next day, their fat maid comes over. You may be interested to know that the fat maid is the same woman who kicked Winona Ryder's ass in Mr. Deeds. She tells Charlie she tried to buy groceries with his credit card and they cut it up because HA HA he's not good with money. Apparently he doesn't pay bills. He has "a guy" who pays the bills. And, you guys, I kid you not, but this "guy" is played by guest star Richard Lewis. Who did I piss off to get stuck watching an episode with Richard fucking Lewis in it? I hate that guy. Anyway, I'm sure you'll be surprised to find out that Richard Lewis is this shady accountant with crime scene tape around his front door, who is also on the run from the FBI. ALSO, Charlie is out of money and there's some stupid analogy involving water as money flow and a cup as financial well-being and this goes on FOREVER and basically what it all means is that Charlie is a fucking idiot.

So Duckie's pissed that his free ride (oh! Duckie and Halfsie live with Charlie for some reason and that reason is so there can be a show called Two and a Half Men that makes me want to scrape my eyes out with a dull, rusty knife) is in trouble so he tells Charlie he has to make a budget and then all the sudden some woman just walks right into the house. Her name is Rose and she's that girl from Sweet Home Alabama who brings her baby into the bar. I don't know. She offers to give Charlie some money, but he's all, "no, no, I couldn't possibly," even though last year he apparently spent $80,000 on women and gambling and I'm not sure if they're implying Charlie is into hookers, but if so? That's like the greatest thing this show has ever done because Charlie Sheen = likes hookers. Ha! That will be the only time I laugh for 30 minutes.

THEN, they go to the grocery and Charlie can't figure out how coupons work so he throws a bunch of hamburger helper in the cart because HAHA poor people are hilarious! They eat cheap pasta dishes because a talking hand tells them to! Let us laugh and be merry! He sees a pretty lady and tells her she doesn't NEED the Lean Cuisines in her cart, like . . . real smooth, Casanova, aren't you supposed to be a ladies man? I'll bet he hasn't even gotten his first case of The Syph yet. Amateur. THEN she sees generic cheese and vodka in his cart and is all, "wtf . . . peace OUT," and I'd call her a stuck up bitch, but would you want to go out with someone who might serve you grocery store vodka?

Later, Halfsie and Charlie are watching football and Halfsie can't believe they're not gambling because apparently he's already got a gambling problem. The doorbell rings and Duckie gets his panties in a wad because he realizes Charlie ordered a pizza. The pizza guy, who normally has a huge boner for Charlie because of all the big tips, goes completely flaccid when he realizes Charlie learned about math and won't be tipping him 300% anymore.

Charlie decides to ask his mom (played by Holland Taylor . . . my god, woman, what are you doing?) for money, even though she'll probably give him a huge guilt trip. He makes her a screwdriver out of the generic vodka and a giant carton of orange juice concentrate because HA HA poor people are hilarious! They buy gigantic household products that barely fit in their doublewides! Let us laugh and be merry! Anyway, Charlie asks her for money, she writes him a check, and then he flips his shit FOR NO RAISIN and rips it up. WTF, SHOW?!

Later, Rose (remember her?) comes over and Charlie is sitting at his piano in the dark. She's all, "why is it so dark in here?" and he says, "because electricity is expensive," like OH HOW CLEVER, SHOW.

Anyway, she gives him the money because apparently she suddenly owns a bank. Just . . . what? Do you see how this show sucks? The storylines are barely storylines, the "humor" is so fucking obvious that you can guess the punchlines before the character even says them, Halfsie can't act, Charlie Sheen wears really fugly shirts THE WHOLE TIME, and perhaps the greatest offense? The show boasts such an annoying theme song that, even if you hear only one second of it, it will be stuck in your head for the rest of eternity. I'd link to it, but I would never do that to you guys. Instead, I will throw myself on this bomb for you and live with that song in my head until my dying day.


Tuesday, 29 January 2008

What's FICA? And why is he taking all my money?

Abs I am so tired of election coverage. I am so tired of pundits and debates and speculation and accusations. I'm tired of the White House and the Capitol and the glorified System of Checks and Balances. So, last night while the State of the Union address was occurring I was watching my favorite politicians, Joey, Chandler, Ross, Monica, Rachel, and Phoebe.

I hate the government and so should you.

Let me say that a little louder. I FUCKING HATE THE GOVERNMENT (and so should you). I have a really good education that we can blame for this rage-filled opinion. In fact, Political Science was the only AP test I passed, so I know my shit, alright? You can preach to me about the Electoral College and whatever, and this is what I have to say back to you:

1. The government steals our money. I get the income tax thing or whatever, but FICA? Seriously? It's like mugging.

2. The government is dumb. It makes rules that don't make sense and then it makes rules on top of those rules until you're so confused you go along with it. It's pretty much a moo point.

3. The government is soooo slow. They've made a science out of taking forever to get anything done.

4. The government doesn't know the meaning of promise.

5. The government doesn't seem to really understand money. They take it from us. They spend it like crazy. They go farther and farther in debt. Rinse. Repeat. Play some Cups.

6. The government has some fucked up views on beauty.

7. There is no way to quit the government.

8. The government is a collection of dumb rules.

So, in conclusion, you should hate the government and you should love Friends. You should probably be watching Friends right now. Because if you're anything like me, you clicked every "related video" link for the above videos.

For the fans:


Abigail thinks she reads enough news to justify how much TV she watches. Don't tell her she's wrong.

Monday, 28 January 2008

Seacrest, Out(side the Law)

heatherThis week's Collective topic: Why everyone should hate [fill in the blank].

People talk about hate like it's the opposite of love, but that's not so much true. If falling in love is an all-consuming desire to know another person, to be with another person, to touch another person, then the opposite of that would be, well, apathy. Hate is an entirely different emotion, one that springs out of fear more than anything else. So if I'm going to tell you what you should hate, I have to tell what you should fear. Omniscience, Omnipresence, and Omnipotence are the abilities to know everything, be everywhere, and do anything. God encompasses all those things, and that's okay; he's a benevolent sort. But what if a man was all three Os. You should fear that man in the deepest places of your soul. He's everywhere; he knows everything; he causes things to happen. You should hate him: he's Ryan Seacrest.

I have long held the opinion that the if the United States wanted to instill Orwellian principles into its citizens, it would have to do so via the entertainment industry. The first thing the government would have to do is create a television show that is universally watched. The show couldn't be a sitcom or a drama; it would have to allow the audience to participate, to become invested. Once viewers were held captive by their televisions, simple instructions would be given to test audience compliance, calling in to "vote" for "contestants" for example.

The host of this show would be key. He would need to have benignly broad appeal. Once his voice became commonplace in the American living room, he would branch out: a radio show, a television program; host of New Year's festivities, awards shows, and major sporting events. He would have his own clothing line, his own toothpaste. His very own website would make the proclaimation: "He is able to reach millions of American eyes and ears." So accustomed would we become to this man's voice, to following his instructions, that when the time came for him to teach us ""War is Peace; Freedom is Slavery; Ignorance is Strength" we would not question him.

My fellow Americans, Ryan Seacrest is that man. We must fear him. We must hate him, for we are all susceptible to his master plan. In fact, once he releases his own cologne, he will have invaded all our senses. I have constructed a simple two-part test to assist you in determining how vulnerable you are to Seacrest's mailice.


Give yourself:

(20) points if you watch American Idol once per week.

(40) points if you American Idol twice per week.

(5) points if you have ever voted for an Idol contestant by phone.

(5) points if you have ever voted for an Idol contestant by text.

(20) points if you've ever said your last name followed by the word "out." (i.e. "Schilling, out!")

(10) points (per CD) if you own albums by the following artists: Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Chris Daughtry.

(20) points (per CD) if you own albums by the following artists: Ruben Studdard, Fantasia Barrino, Jordan Sparks, Clay Aiken.

(30) points (per CD) if you own albums by the following artists: Diana Degarmo, Bo Bice, Katherine McPhee, Taylor Hicks.

(50) points (per CD) if you own albums by the following artist: Justin Guarani.

(2) points a each for any of these names that you recognize: R.J. Helton, Corey Clark, Camile Valasko, Jasmine Trias, Anthony Federov, Mikalah Gordon, Ace Young, Bucky Covington, Sanjaya Malakar, LaKisha Richardson.

(5) points if you cried during Jennifer Hudson's performance in Dream Girls.

(10) points if you cried and clapped.

(50) points if you own a t-shirt from The R Line.

(25) points if you watch E! News.

(10) points if you sometimes accidentally catch the last few minutes of E! News when you turn on your television to watch Ugly Betty.

(5) points if you watch Desperate Housewives or reruns of Lois and Clark.

(20) points if you watched Rockin' New Year's Eve on the eve of 2008.

(Subtract 5) cool points if you did Monica and Ross' dance while watching.

(25) points if you listen to KIIS FM in Los Angeles, home of On Air with Ryan Seacrest.

(10) points if you flip stations in LA.

(25) points if you listen to American Top 40 with Ryan Seacrest.

(10) points if you live in a city that broadcasts AT Top 40.

(20) points if you plan to watch the Super Bowl .

(Go ahead and shoot yourself) if you own the movie From Kelly to Justin.


Identify your location on the following map and note which color your city falls under.

(Click here for a larger map.)

The cities marked in red are where Seacrest's affect was greatest this past year: San Diego, Dallas, Omaha, Charleston, Miami, Philadelphia, Atlanta. (All places where Idol tryouts were held.) And, of course, Los Angeles: his home. The farther away you get from these cities, the less vulnerable you are. However, you can easily see that residual Ryan spreads for hundreds of miles.

Now, using the following color-key, add the number of points from PART ONE with the number of points your city earned in PART TWO.

Anything under (50) points and you're a liar.

(50-100 points) Be on the lookout.

(100-200 points) Be sore afraid.

(200-300 points) Behold, he comes.

(300+ points) The Apocalypse is nigh.

Yes, hate is a strong word, friends. But don't you see that it's necessary?


Heather! Anne! is the author of Tyra Banks: America's Next Top Public Enemy and Zac Effron: Pretty Mouth, Ugly Intentions. She is also a blogger and avid user of Google Reader. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia with some cats.

Friday, 25 January 2008

Phone It In Friday: Everybody Should Like....

So apparently The Collective likes . . . stuff. We're thinking you like stuff, too. Maybe you want to tell us what stuff you like that you think we should like. It could be anything. Puppies? Willy Wonka? Porn? Only you should assume that we already like all those things. Anyway, it's your turn to tell us our business (be gentle), so leave us a comment or link to a post on your own blog.

Thursday, 24 January 2008

and everybody, yeah, tries to put my sloopy down

Jennie Someone once told me that the only thing worth doing in Ohio is . . . you know what? I'm not going to tell you what he said, because it's inappropriate. But, as much as I complain about living here, it really isn't THAT BAD. Only, this week's topic isn't "Why You Shouldn't Think ____ is THAT BAD," it's "Why You Should Like ____." So I'm not here to tell you why Ohio isn't THAT BAD. I'm going to tell you why you should LIKE Ohio. Maybe even love it.

No. Not love it. That's excessive.

Ohio is home to the Smucker's plant. Smucker's JELLY. Or jam. Whatever, it's delicious. Remember when you were a kid and your Mom would drop you off at the movies with a jar of jam and a little spoon?

Wright-Patterson Air Force Base is something else Ohio can be proud of, for it APPARENTLY houses a UFO. Or UFO parts. I've never seen this UFO or even any bits of a UFO, because this one time I accidentally got lost over by the base, and a nice young man with a gun stopped me and asked me to turn around.

OSU is smack dab in the middle of Ohio, but I'm not even going to talk about that, because OSU fans are so rabid and crazy (yeah, I said it), I'm afraid of what they might do to me if they thought I didn't give the Buckeyes enough praise.

Eight! US! Presidents! are from Ohio. Or, really, seven were born here and another one was living here when he was elected or something, so it counts as eight. Don't argue with me. Ohio is called The Mother of Presidents because of how many US Presidents burst forth from her loins. You know, according to the Internets. I've never heard it called that before, but I'm not very observant so the fact that I've never heard of it? Means NOTHING. But anyway, is your state The Mother of Presidents? Did your state squeeze eight fully grown men out of its hooha straight into the White House? And they weren't all crappy Presidents like Zachary Taylor (lame and also . . . not from Ohio) or our current one, who is not from Ohio either, so let us add another point to the pro column, shall we?

Um, anyway. Lots of famous people are from Ohio. SOMETIMES famous people are even the mayor of Cincinnati before they're famous. But whatever. Famous non-mayors include: Wes Craven, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Halle Berry, Martin Sheen, Toni Morrison, Stephen Spielberg, Bill Watterson, Dave Grohl, Drew Carey, Bart Simpson*, Dave Chappelle, Dr. Karev, Katie Holmes AND Tom Cruise (dude, I know he's crazy, but he's also crazy famous, so suck it), Allison Janney, the Lowes Rob and Chad (that is three people from The West Wing!), Paul Newman, John Legend, John Glenn, Neil Armstrong (!), OK, I'm tired of listing people, so just go look here. I think everyone in the world might be from Ohio.

Also! Some of my favorite fictional characters are from Ohio. Like Alex P. Keaton. Ted Mosby, ARCHITECT. And (doctor) John Michael Dorian. Also the Solomans. They were technically from another planet, but they chose Ohio for their Earth-home. Plus, I'm from Ohio. I'm not fictional, but some of the stuff I say is.

Also! I almost forgot the Wright Brothers. Which is ridiculous because A) they are from the same TOWN as me, and B) I really like flying in planes. I mean, don't you like being able to fly to Vegas and pick up hookers and/or get married whenever you want? Well, you can thank Ohio for giving birth to the Wright Brothers EVEN THOUGH she was probably really tired after raising eight US presidents. And North Carolina? Will you stop trying to steal our thunder with this "First in Flight" business? Please. The Wright Brothers may have flown their first plane at Kitty Hawk, but they did all the work in Dayton. All the BRAINPOWER came from Ohio. It's like, Ohio was the brain and North Carolina was the body that had to do what the brain told it. So just . . . stop. You have the ocean! THE OCEAN! STOP TRYING TO TAKE THE WRIGHT BROTHERS FROM US.

There is something even more important than the Wright Brothers, though, and that something? BIG BUTTER JESUS (aka Giant Jesus aka Touchdown Jesus). MAYBE YOU'VE HEARD OF IT.

Also! Kat's favorite band is from Ohio. I'd say that pretty much clinches it right there. I'm not trying to say my state is BETTER than yours. Just that it's pretty damn good, OK? So stop talking shit about Ohio or I'll kick you in the (buckeye) nut.

*my mom went to HS with her

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Air turns to water when dioxide tempts the hydrogen.

When assigned this week's theme, I fretted and worried about what to write, because even though I am an ornery little girl, I happen to like a lot, like Ryan Adams and Wes Anderson movies, crossword puzzles, t-shirts, bugs, swearing, some of my ex-boyfriends (but not all of them), my current boyfriend (but then again, so does everybody), booze and books and ice cream cake and Jude Law and did I mention booze? And also cooking and birds and live performances and Howard Zinn and booze and hats and scarves and mittens and solo acoustic Mike Doughty (but not wussy Dave Matthews-ified Mike Doughty) and the occasional recreational drug use. (Sorry readers of Heather! Anne!, but my parents didn't love me enough so I act out in inappropriate and often illegal ways.) And also booze.

So when it came time to write this post I panicked a little, Procrastinated a lot (see Abigail!'s post below), and pondered and pondered and pondered once more. And then it hit me! The one thing that every single everybody should like is water, of course.

Now before you get all up in my grill, all up in arms about this radical suggestion, hear me out. Water. Is. Awesome. And now I'll tell you why, in three easy pieces.

1. Your very own human body is anywhere between 55% to a whopping 78% water. It therefore stands to reason that if you hate water, YOU HATE YOURSELF. And trust me, nobody likes anybody who hates themselves. You want to be popular, don't you? THEN LIKE WATER.

2. Why, you may ask yourself, is my body so watery? Well the answer is simple. Water is vital both as a solvent (allowing your body to maintain homeostasis) and as an essential part of metabolism (the sum total of anabolism and catabolism). In other words, the water in your blood helps it to carry oxygen to all of your body's cells, without which your cells would DIE and your body would DIE and you'd be DEAD. Plus you need water to help your body digest food and remove waste, so without water you'd stop PEEING and POOPING and then you'd be full of shit and nobody likes anybody who is full of shit. You want to be popular, don't you? THEN LIKE WATER.

3. You need water to make booze. AND BOOZE IS AWESOME. You want to be popular, don't you? THEN LIKE BOOZE.

Basically, if you don't like water then you won't have any friends or you'll be dead (or sober), and nobody wants to be unpopular or dead. (Or sober.) So for all these reasons, and a very many more (having to do with booze), it is my personal opinion that water is important and therefore everyone should like it.

The end.

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Why Everyone Should Love Procrastination


There are four types of people on this earth: procrastinators, people who think they are procrastinators, people who wish they're procrastinators, and people I don't understand. I have an open mind, I'm no hater, and so I mean no harm when I target you un-procrastinators, you get-things-done-ers, you spell-checkers and shoe-tie-ers. But first, let's separate the wheat from the chaff.

College Roommate, reading the book the weekend before it's due instead of two weeks before it's due is not procrastination. If you wait until the night before it's due AND give yourself about 1.5 hours to read instead of the 6 hours it should take THAT, my friend, is procrastination.

Friend From College, remember when I would have to stay up all night long and not sleep because my paper was being written? While I loved the way you stayed up with me and worked on your term paper, we both know that your term paper wasn't due for another five days. When you slumped over breakfast in the morning and complained about how tired you were, I rolled my eyes.

Roommate, how do you do it? Always making your lunch before you go to bed? Folding your laundry right away? Graduating early? Getting the best job ever? Being the most awesome person ever? Doesn't it get tiring?

(The rest of you, my people, the procrastinators, can just nod along to the rest of this and please add your own compelling arguments.)

Procrastination is awesome because it gives the gift of TIME. And in so many ways. For example, I've known I had to write this post for a week. I've had seven days. Some other writers (you know who you are) wrote their post seven days ago. And then they edited it. And rewrote it. And edited some more. And sure, maybe that helped the post. But listen to all the things I did instead of writing this post:

-went camping
-watched A LOT of Unsolved History on the Discovery Channel (apparently the show doesn't have an official site, wtf)
-told A LOT of people about A LOT of stuff they probably didn't care about history
-tried to go the library twice
-successfully went once
-listened to Bunny Tales reading while camping
-went fishing
-worked a lot
-saw some movies
-talked about the movies a lot

I mean, those are clearly ALL things I couldn't have done if I had been working on this post.

Another way it gives the gift of time is the way that you can accomplish stuff faster. I don't always do things very quickly (I get distracted easily, I get bored, I am thorough, take your pick) but if I am up against a DEADLINE I become the Master of Efficiency.

Well, I think I've proved my point.

Monday, 21 January 2008

Why Everyone Should Like Batman

heatherLet's pretend for a moment that you have stepped into my office for a job interview, and rather than asking you to tell me a little about yourself, or reading over your resume, or pointing out that on your resume you've stated that you fix asses, as opposed to, you know, being proficient at managing fixed ASSETS (It's a one-letter difference, okay? It could happen to anyone.), I tell you that I am going to ask you a series of yes or no questions. Ready? Just relax and answer honestly.

Tell me, are you capable of withstanding a poisonous kiss? Can you resist hypnosis? Are you able to extinguish an inferno? Survive a gas attack? Do you always win a coin toss? Can you rappel down a building? Can you climb back up the side of that same building using only a rope with a boomerang attached to the end? Can you make a criminal confess in a long-winded monologue? Are you capable of training a sidekick? Breaking a chokehold? Taking a kick in the head? Can you solve riddles under pressure?

Assuming you can answer yes to even five of those questions, I'll let you enter the second stage of the interview process. This time there is only one question--again, it's yes or no--and it's simple: Are you willing to take this abuse for free? That's right, this job doesn't pay. In fact, I'll need you to foot the bill for your work space, your company car, your office supplies, and your medical expenses (of which there will be plenty). You'll be working mostly nights. Still interested?

Okay, one final question: If you were forced to choose between your One True Love and Getting the Crap Kicked Out of You on a nightly basis, would you choose the latter?

Nu uh. You could not do the things I asked you to do. You would not do them for free. And you certainly wouldn't choose them over sex. (I'm assuming your One True Love wants to have a lot of the sex.)

But you know who would and could and has done all those things? Batman.

It's easy to love Superman because Clark Kent is handsome and righteous. It's easy to love Spider-Man because Peter Parker is geeky and sweet. But Bruce Wayne? He's a tortured soul, driven less by justice and more by vengeance. Superman can fly! Spider-Man can swing from building to building with his webs! But Batman? He is just a man with gadgets. Gadgets he has to build himself. Superman and Spider-Man smile. Batman broods. To put it Austen-ly (and why should we not) Batman is Mr. Darcy to Superman's Mr. Knightley.

Says Knightley to Emma: "My dearest Emma, for dearest you will always be, whatever the event of this hour's conversation, my dearest, most beloved Emma..."

Says Darcy of Elizabeth: "She is tolerable; but not handsome enough to tempt me; and I am in no humour at present to give consequence to young ladies who are slighted by other men."

See the juxtaposition? The kindness to the cantankerous.

Yet--and this might surprise you--you should love Batman most. Firstly: he's just like you, only better. He doesn't have superpowers, but he heroes it up anyway. Secondly: he makes the most of bad situations. If you got poison-kissed, you'd just give up and die, lips first. Batman, he'd take some antiallergents and fight through. Thirdly: you can barely complete a medium-level sudoku puzzle, but Batman can solve riddles and equations when people's LIVES are on the line. Fourthly: he's got the raddest costume ever. Fifthly: what other superhero can pull off this sentence: "I've just perfected an Electronic Hair Bat-Analyzer which may hold the key to this baffling question."

If that doesn't convince you, consider this: when your city is in peril, Batman would rather save your ass than get laid.

Can you say that about yourself?

No, no you cannot.

Batman deserves your love. But if you try to hug him, he might punch you in the face. When you regain consciousness, he'll have disappeared into the shadows and slipped away. Don't be troubled; it's just one more way he's better than you.

Friday, 18 January 2008

Phone It In Friday: Last Book Read

The Collective loves books. No, strike that; The Collective looooooooooves books. And we loooooooooove books so much that we don't want to be friends with anyone who doesn't love books, too. So tell us about the last book you read in the comments, or link to a review on your very own blog.

Thursday, 17 January 2008

you and me and the bottle makes three tonight

JennieIf ever you feel guilty about having that extra glass of wine with dinner or heading into work with a hangover headache, all you have to do is read Dry by Augusten Burroughs and you will feel SO much better about that beer belly. Last week, after having a couple of drinks with . . . myself, I crawled into bed with this book and attempted to read about Burroughs' struggle with sobriety. It was a bit difficult to read through my buzz blur, but I managed.

As much as I joke about being an alcoholic, I do, in fact, realize that alcoholism isn't funny. But if anyone can make even the most dire situations seem hilarious, it's Augusten. I feel like I can call him Augusten because we have so much in common. I mean, sure. He's a tall, balding, gay man whose mother gave him to her psychiatrist when he was thirteen but WHATEVER. These are just details. I know that deep down, we are kindred spirits IF ONLY because we both believe we control the world with our minds. Also, he hates babies!

So anyway, on the surface, Augusten has everything going for him. He works in advertising and makes about a million dollars a day (exaggeration), he lives in NYC, he's young, he's handsome, he has no problem getting laid blah blah blah, but what you DON'T know is that he gets completely shitfaced EVERY SINGLE NIGHT. And when I say shitfaced? I don't mean he feels a little hazy the next morning, I mean he's still drunk when he goes to work and everyone knows it because he has enough booze oozing out of his pores to make everyone in his office a martini. And he does this every day. He does it on Saturdays and Arbor Day and on the Lord's Day, but ESPECIALLY on the weekdays. Naturally, his employers have a problem with this behavior (I think he blows off a bunch of meetings and shows up to schmooze an important client smelling like a distillery . . . maybe he also runs through the conference room naked . . . probably not, but YOU DON'T KNOW, DO YOU?), and eventually his boss makes him go to rehab or he's fired. So he's all, "whatever, I'll go to rehab for thirty days and when I come back I'll be able to drink like a normal person," but then he realizes that he's way fucked up as a result of living with a psychotic psychiatrist and his progeny during his childhood (see: Running With Scissors) and he thinks, "hmm, perhaps I SHOULD stop drinking a bottle of scotch every night," which really is a good idea, if only because that can get REALLY expensive. I'm assuming. When he comes home, he realizes what a shit hole his life has become and goes to AA and tells his friend the drunk undertaker (you heard me) that he's DONE drinking and then he meets this really hot guy in one of his addiction groups who is a rich crack addict. And hot. But, you know . . . a crack addict. Did I mention he's hot? Well, he's hot. I'm not going to tell you whether or not Augusten stays sober because that would ruin the ending, wouldn't it? And then you'd be all, "I don't need to read the book because Jennie told me how it ended." Well, fuck you. You get NO MORE INFORMATION.

For some reason, Augusten Burroughs is often compared to David Sedaris. I suppose because they're both hilarious and gay and men. But stop that. I love them both, but Augusten's books are so much darker than David's (I can call him by his first name, too, because we are also kindred spirits). There are moments in Dry when I wanted to put the book in the freezer, because I was getting so sad I was afraid I might have a feeling. I can't remember ever wanting to do that with one of David's books. I CAN, however, remember wanting to put down Me Talk Pretty One Day because I was laughing so hard that the book was shaking all over the place and I couldn't see the words anymore because they were all blurry, but that is . . . irrelevant.

Sometimes I wish that more bad stuff had happened to me, so I could write a deep and touching memoir like this one. Then I think, "Jennie, that is the stupidest thing you've ever said," but really it's not (stay with me) because after all those shitty things happened to Augusten Burroughs, he made SO MUCH money.

What's that you say? He worked really hard to funnel all those shitty experiences into witty and well-crafted memoirs? It wasn't just "ooh, I've had a rough life, POOF, here's some money?" Well, then, LA LA LA, I'M NOT LISTENING.

Wednesday, 16 January 2008

How to make me swoon in 50,000 words.

The Great Gatsby led the Fitzgerald rediscovery and restoration of 1945-50 because it is a miracle--though not his only miracle. Literary miracles are the work of writers who come closer than other writers to expressing what is in their minds through innate genius augmented by control, technique, craft.
-Matthew J. Bruccoli
The University of South Carolina, 1992

The last book I read I read and then read again. I read it again as I do on the first of every year, read it again and wondered at all the people in the world who've never once picked it up, or picked it up and read the Cliff's Notes instead, or picked it up and thought, "Nah. I think I'll read Gossip Girls.

I've written about this book twice before, and certainly there is nothing I could say about it that hasn't already been said. So rather than write again about my very favorite book, I will instead write about my very favorite subject: moi.

You cannot really know me I've always said until you've read this book, and the first person to try and know me was my college sweetheart. Unfortunately for him, or me, or what the fuck ever, he decided to read it only after heartlessly dumping me. My own boyfriend, aliterate as he is, has avoided it these seven years past, ostensibly because of "all that shit written all over the pages." I read my books with pencil in hand, you see, and as time has flittered by I've run out of room for all my notes.

I have also always said that you can tell when I've been reading Salinger because I start plagiarizing Salinger of course. But what is less well known is that I plagiarize Scott with every word I ever try to write. For example [said in the voice of Hermione Granger, via Emma Watson, circa Sorcerer's Stone], in a section of my most very most prized possession and labeled in pencil in this particular margin with perfect structure!:
The largest of the banners and the largest of the lawns belonged to Daisy Fay's house. She was just eighteen, two years older than me, and by far the most popular of all the young girls in Louisville. She dressed in white and had a little white roadster and all day long the telephone rang in her house and excited young officers from Camp Taylor demanded the privilege of monopolizing her that night, 'anyways for an hour!'
Of course I would label this passage perfect; it holds everything I love so dearly: hyperbole, polysyndeton, parallel structure. It is the formula for every paragraph I seem to write nowadays.

And so my secret is out: I am a total fraud.

Gamecocks, ho.

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Tales from Inside the Bunny: A Book Review

I'm in love with the idea of a tell-all biography. To me, it feels the same as sitting down with the author, doing shots and getting her to tell secrets. So, when I came across Bunny Tales: Behind Closed Doors at the Playboy Mansion by Izabella St. James at the library I had to get it. I have a long-standing obsession with The Girls Next Door so it was an easy decision.

I thought, hey, easy book to review, I'll be all snarky and copy/paste quotes of the crazy. I thought I'd be making of fun of Izabella, the author, and yet, I can't bring myself to do it. While often writing too informally, she is articulate and honest and obviously still conflicted. I'm a sucker for people being honest about their flaws (see: every mistake I've ever dated) and so I excuse her for walking out of the California Bar Exam, for abandoning international law. "We knew we were spoiled," she says repeatedly. She admits to surgeries, cattery, resentment and so I waded through one-too-many chapters of her early childhood years to get the real stuff: Hefner.

Some things you need me to tell you:

All of the Girlfriends are not dumb blondes. Some of them just die their hair that way.

But really, Izabella is pretty smart. I mean, she excelled in high school, college, and law school, and managed to get someone to throw money and gifts at her for no reason.

Oh, and then, when she saw that there was an industry based on her experience, she wrote a book. Genius.

Hugh Hefner has a lot of diagnosable problems. Definitely narcissistic personality disorder and OCD.

Apparently he has a Marilyn Monroe obsession. She was the first magazine centerfold and--get this!--he bought the gravesite/crypt/thing next to hers. Creepy?

Every week the Girlfriends had to come to his room during a very small window of time each week to get their allowance. He would withhold it if they had displeased him in any way.

Also, I learned a ton about Holly, Hef's Number One Girlfriend and star of the TV show. I guess she worked really hard to be the perfect girlfriend: she had her nose done like Hef's former Great Love Barbi Benton, and she got her hair done like Marilyn Monroe.

Hef got really mad at her after the Marilyn hair thing. Anger was attributed to his hate for change.

Bridget is married. Yup.

Hef pays for all their surgeries but they do have to ask for it. He makes them ask for everything because he is a controlling douchebag. Yes they get cars and boobs and dogs and parties but they have to manipulate and plot their ways of asking.

Also, they can only go out at night after 9 pm if they are with him. Even then they only stay in the clubs til around midnight when they come back for Sex Night.

Sex Night is two nights a week and no one is required to participate. Sometimes there is pressure from other girls, but Hef never forces you into the bedroom and never forces you to take your underwear off.

Since this is a family place (hi mom!), I'm not going to go into explicit detail about the sex, but Izabella does. And it's pretty much nothing to write home about. There are no orgies. No weirdness. One man has sort-of sex with several consenting women. It is not fun.

The mansion has a full-service kitchen (can feed up to 1,000 guests!) and the Girlfriends are allowed whatever they want whenever they want. They simply dial 0 and request fries or a sandwich or a milkshake or whatever they want ever. HOWEVER, they are never allowed in the kitchen themselves because Hef doesn't want them fraternizing (aka sleeping around with) the help.

CEO of Playboy Enterprises is Hef's daughter, Christie, and Christie (and the Playboy Board of Directors) believe Hef's spending to be frivolous and a huge drain on the corporation.

Izabella (or her publishing company protecting her from libel) withholds certain names. Stories about married celebrities propositioning her, sometimes other Girlfriends doing stuff they shouldn't have, that kind of thing.

I've watched a ton of Girls Next Door and the E! True Hollywood Story, Hugh Hefner: Girlfriends, Wives, and Centerfolds so I was surprised to find more things I didn't already know. If you're a fan of the show, you have to read this book. I've always wanted free stuff, and the playboy mansion IS only like 20 miles from my house. Should I dye my hair blonde and pin on a bunny tail and have not fun sex with Hef in hopes of getting them?

Probably not. (See again: Hi, mom!) and also (mistakes I've dated.)

(If you have any questions regarding Playboy, Playmates, the Playboy Mansion, or Hefner's eating habits, I can answer them. Just comment.)

Monday, 14 January 2008

You Know You Love Me: a Gossip Girl Book Review

heatherSometimes you have to say to yourself: Self, what you’re about to do just there, it’s going to make you dumber. But you go ahead and do it anyway, because pleasure is greater than intellect, and that’s why I bought not one, but three of Cecily von Ziegesar’s Gossip Girl—um, what does the bookstore call them? ah, yes—novels. Novels in which I unearthed such literary gems as this: “[The dress] was long and black, cut low in the front and back, with a dramatic white ruffle that flapped around her ankles. He thought she looked like a tiny black-and-white angel. An angel with the best set of bazongas he had ever seen.”

The Gossip Girl novels (of which there are twelve) are narrated by the pseudonymous Gossip Girl herself: webmistress of, a blog dedicated to laying bare all the drama and debauchery of a clique of well-to-do teenagers that attend elite prep schools and social functions on Manhattan's Upper East Side. I went to high school in a small town in north Georgia, and on Saturday nights we’d all go to the Waffle House and eat bacon and hashbrowns, and then go on home because everyone had to be up early in time for Sunday School. So I don’t really know how accurately these books portray the lives of UES teens Blair Waldorf and Serena van der Woodsen. What I do know is that Blair’s erstwhile boyfriend, Nate Archibald, smokes so much weed that every time he pops up in a chapter I have to go out for snacks.

The books never get around to mentioning the vocations of these kids’ parents, but their careers must be similar to the ones on Days of Our Lives, because everyone seems to have an unlimited supply of money and time. And also booze. Basically the plot goes like this: Serena van der Woodsen has been BFF with Blair Waldorf since before either of them could even say Manolo Blahnik. While Serena is away at boarding school (read: traveling around Europe), Bair falls in love with Nate Archibald. Serena gets kicked out of boarding school (read: her parents realize she’s been spreading van der Woodsen all over Europe instead of, you know, prepping for the SATs) so she returns to the UES, where Nate confesses that Serena actually spread her van der Woodsen all over him before she left. Blair decides to hate Serena and love Nate, but Nate starts loving a little ninth grade gal named Jenny Humphrey (the one with the bazongas). Jenny’s brother, Dan, loves Serena, and Serena’s film class partner, Vanessa Abrams, loves Dan. There is also a Chuck, and he loves date rape. Blair’s mom gets engaged to a guy named Cyrus, who has a son named Aaron who loves Blair. Aaron’s best friend also loves Blair, but mostly Serena, because everyone, including Blair’s own mother, loves Serena best. Really, though, in a mostly-non-sexual way, Blair loves Serena and Serena loves Blair, and their friendship, best friendship, is the crux of the entire series. (And also, kinda, of life.)

I started reading Gossip Girl because I started watching the show on The CW. And I started watching the show on The CW because I fell in love with Jacob, the guy who recaps the show for Television Without Pity. Parenthetically, Abigail found and loved Jacob first; thus, apparently, Abigail loves him most. I like to read Gossip Girl novels on the weekend so I can watch Gossip Girl the show on Wednesday so I can read the recap the following Tuesday and just be right there with Jacob. I was explaining Jacob’s appeal to my own BFF like this: “You know how there are, like, a dozen words that mean the same thing?” She said that yes, she was in fact familiar with the concept of synonyms. I said that even though there are loads of similar words, there is always one right word, and that Jacob, in addition to being insightful and uproarious, always chooses the right word. Jacob is a better writer than The CW and the CW is a better writer than Cecily von Ziegesar, but don’t let the hierarchy fool you; there are some really important life lessons in these books:


"Jenny watched the fare on the meter go up and up while they stood still. She could have bought three new MAC lip glosses for what this cab ride was costing her."


[A Dan Humphrey original poem, written for Serena]

When I cut myself shaving, I think of your teeth on my lips and the pain becomes pleasure.


"Jenny stared at his hand for a second, then reached out and took it. 'I’m Jennifer,' she said. Jennifer sounded so much older and more sophisticated than Jenny. From now on, she promised herself, she was going to be Jennifer."


"Nate noticed Jenny’s chest. Man, was it ever huge. He couldn’t let her get away, not without Jeremy and the other guys getting a chance to check it out."


"If it weren’t for the fact that she was head of Constance’s social service board, leader of the French club, and chairwoman of all the worthwhile junior social functions in the city, Blair would have told Becky to fuck off. But Blair was a role model: she had a reputation to uphold."


"Dan inhaled too quickly and nearly coughed up a lung, Then he lit another cigarette with the one he was already smoking. He was going to chain-smoke until [Serena] showed up. He might be dead when she got there, but at least they’d be together."


"I know hate is a strong word and everything, but it’s okay: we’re teenagers."


"Kelly green is great if you wear it ironically. But Marjorie looked like she was actually serious about it."

And, um, more Romance

"The way to any girl’s heart is to tell her she looks tiny. Girls kill to be tiny."


My favorite book is To Kill a Mockingbird, but my favorite author is Jane Austen. My favorite Jane Austen book is Emma, but the Austen I read the most is Pride and Prejudice. Charlotte Bronte hated Jane Austen, but I love Jane Eyre. Bronte for Bronte, Charlotte is better, because Emily’s Wuthering Heights makes me want to poke my eyes out. My thing, literature and life-wise, is British. Why, then, am I spending my days reading trashy American teenage smut? Because I want to feel closer to Jacob, the Television Without Pity recapper.

We all have to have goals.

Take Vanessa Abrams for example:

“Vanessa picked a ball of lint off of her fishnets and flicked it onto the bar floor. She couldn’t believe she was actually flirting with Dan. She hadn’t even broken up with Clark yet! But it was kind of fun to be such a slut.”

I’ve said before, and I’ll say again: Jane Austen is my girlfriend. If you tell her I am cheating with TWoP Jacob, I will Blair Waldorf you. Trust me, you don’t even want to know what that means.

Slut, indeed. You know you love me.


Heather Anne

Friday, 11 January 2008

Phone it in Friday: Assholes

The Collective thinks it's safe to say that that we are all assholes, but we suspect you are all assholes, too. So while we're off getting drunk and phoning it in, you tell us what makes you an asshole too.

Leave your reasons in the comments, or link to the post on your very own blog.

Thursday, 10 January 2008

could I BE more of an asshole?

1. I am constantly yelling/singing/whistling.

My dad and I had a habit of whistling constantly when I lived at home, because it drove my mom nuts. I mean, you have to be a special kind of asshole to do something ON PURPOSE to drive someone else crazy, and well . . . I'm that kind of asshole. (Also, my normal speaking voice when I'm excited? Is yelling. And, I sing as loudly as possible the minute I walk into my apartment, usually Oasis, but sometimes SOMETIMES, if my neighbors are lucky, The Sound of Music.)

2. I can't keep a secret.

I mean, if it's a BIG secret? Like you told me where the Pope Stone was? I could keep that. But if you tell me that you like someone or that you stole the Pope Stone? I'd find that person I could and be all, "psst, so and so likes you and also stole the Pope Stone," but I wouldn't tell them where you hid it.

3. I never answer the phone.

It's not that I don't want to talk to you, it's just . . . yeah, I don't want to talk to you.

4. I'm a wonder killer.

Like, if you're innocently wondering why the sky is so clear tonight (mutant ozone) or why orange juice tastes bad after brushing your teeth (because you brushed all the plaque off, OJ always tastes that bad) or why zombies come back from the dead (crazy monkey virus)? You don't want an answer, right? You're just wondering? Thinking out loud? Too bad. I will provide an answer, regardless of whether or not I really know the right one.

5. I know everything and am always right.

Don't blame me. It's genetic. My father's family knows everything and I learned it from them (also, so did my DNA). They know the right way to do anything and everything and if you're not doing it OUR way? You're doing it wrong. I'd publish a rule book, but I'm pretty sure you have to marry into it.

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

I'm an asshole.

1. I think I'm better than you.

And I'll definitely make sure you know it.

Don't believe me? Don't say I didn't warn you.

2. I'm smarter than you.

Let's ignore the fact that I took two bar exams at the same time--including the dreaded New York exam--and passed both WITH FLYING COLORS, that I graduated from one of the top 20 law schools in the country, that I triple majored in college, that I graduated 11th in my high school class. Yes, let us ignore all of those very persuasive truthinesses and focus on the absolutely, positively STUNNING fact that I scored a 780 on the English section of the SATs. 780 in 1995 points, that is, which translates to ONLY ONE QUESTION ANSWERED INCORRECTLY.

And how did you do?

3. I'm prettier than you.
You know how I know? Because I was on the Homecoming Court in college, and everybody knows that the only thing that matters in college is how pretty you are. And also how drunk you are, which I assure you I AM RIGHT NOW VERY MUCH SO THANK YOU.

But please, don't take my word for it. Here are some testimonials about my unsurpassed beauty that you can find around the internets. Assuming, of course, that you're smart enough to know where to find them:
Abigail says: You are fucking awesome.

Anonymous says: You have a beautiful soul, to match your pretty face.

And also: You are very attractive, and I believed that before I even knew what you looked like.

And also: You are both pretty and a talented writer, which under most circumstances would make me hate you a little.

Ashbloem says: You are so pretty.

Brandon says: WOW

Dustin says: Hawt.

Heather says: You could not BE any cuter.

Jennie says: Gangsta.

Jenny says: super cute

Jill says: You're too cute. I can't even stand how cute you are.

Sarah says: Adorable. Don't deny it.

Sheryl says: That is so adorable

Trisha says: Wowsa!
Do you want more? No? I don't blame you. It's hard to face just how damn pretty I am.

4. I'm good at everything I try.

Seriously. I was a high school All-State soccer player. I am a published poet. I skied and ice skated like a pro on the very first try. I cook. I knit. I embroider. I paint.

Have you made an origami Yoda? I think not. AND, to add insult to injury, I wrote the perfect post.

So you should stop trying already, because you'll never be as good at everything as I am.

5. I just don't think I'm better than you, I actually am better than you.

True story.

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Five Reasons You Can Call Me "Hey, ASSHOLE!"

I probably think you're annoying.

It's either the way you talk or the things you talk about or the things you bother me with so you can have someone to talk to about them. I'm very intolerant. Even if I'm just looking at a picture of someone I've never met, I start making judgments left and right on whether or not we could ever be in the same room. The number of people I can spend 24 hours straight with? Very small.

I can't help it. I swear.

I have people who work for me that are paid to do my dishes.

I mean, sometimes, that is just what assistant means. They're very helpful.

I get the road rage.

I absolutely hate hate hate asshole drivers. So, obvious solution was to become one. When a lane is merging and there is at least a mile of WARNING! LANE MERGING! signs and people STILL act like a lane is still there, I get so so so mad. I slowly inch my car back to the right, narrowing the un-lane more and more until I'm straddling both lanes. Some people (fuckers!) still risk side-swiping their car and go around but mostly, I seem to control the situation. It is very unsafe and I'm often scared that someone will follow me home and try to kill me, but I like to tell myself that before I die I will yell, "YOU WERE AN ASSHOLE FIRST!"

I don't keep in touch.

If you're directly in front of me (or inside the magical box on my desk) I can chatter for hours but, as the saying goes, out of sight out (near) mind. I manage to remember you enough to feel extremely guilty about ignoring your existence. Unless you're one of those annoying people.

I'm one of those people at Starbucks with the super special order.

I don't think it's all that special: Tall Nonfat Peppermint LATTE with whip.

I always have to emphasize LATTE because if I don't they make a mocha. Which I think is too sweet. I don't like foam so I ask for whip and the un-nonfat milk gives me a tummy ache. It doesn't seem a lot in my head, but people always make fun of me. So fine, whatever, I'm a Starbucks asshole.

Monday, 7 January 2008

Five Things That Make Me An Asshole

1) I don’t like babies.

I know I am supposed to have some sort of visceral reaction when I see tiny baby fingers and pink baby skin, that I’m supposed to ooh and coo and hear an internal clock ticking, but you know what? I do not. I do not like babies. Babies cannot eat or drink or change the television channel on their own. They cannot even hold their heads up to watch television properly. You can’t talk when babies are asleep and it’s not okay if your dog licks a baby’s face. Also, babies? They poop their pants. One time Jennie texted and said she almost punched a baby in the face and I laughed so hard that everyone in Target stopped what they were doing to look at me. The only sound you could hear when my laughter died down was, of course, an inconsolable baby, screaming its pretty pink lungs out.

2) I wish I was reading.

Sometimes (a lot of times) when I am out with people, I fantasize that I am home reading. Also, if people interrupt me when I am reading, I get really, really pissy. President Garfield and I have that in common. I hope I don’t get shot in the back by a member of a plate-makin’, free-lovin’ cult. I also hope not to be a Republican. (Oh, and I use arcane historical references to illustrate my points.)

3) If I say, “I’ll make a note” what I really mean is “Go away, I am too busy to deal with the trite things you’re saying to me.”

Double that if I don’t look up from my desk.

4) I can’t shut my gob in the cinema queue.

When I’m in line at the movie theater, I have this… compulsion to comment on every patron’s ticket purchase. “Oh, good call, sir. Philip Seymour Hoffman really nails the dialogue in that one. You’ll want to go home and pull out your West Wing DVDs.” Or: “Doh! Bad choice, lady. Vince Vaughn will make you want to poke your eardrums out with the straw from your oversized soda, because oh my God, could he be more annoying?” Or: “I read the reviews and the dog dies! Don’t see that!” Or: “Seriously? Just pick something. You’ve been in line ten minutes, and now you’re at the ticket counter and you don’t know what you want to see? It’s called Fandango or, you know, just plain manners. Try it!”

5) I put Kathleen Kelly’s Shop Around the Corner out of business.

There is an independent bookstore with friendly and knowledgeable employees very near my house, and I am sure if I needed to know the names and order of publication of The Shoe Books, any of the women there could help me. But I shop at Barnes and Noble because I like cheap books and legally addictive stimulants. Sometimes, when I’m in a pinch, I shop at the independent bookstore. Like today when I needed the next two Gossip Girl books. But I lied and said I was buying them for my niece. (I don’t have niece.) “I need some help. I am looking for some books called… I think… Gossip Girl. Young adult fiction, maybe? They’re for my niece. Kids, right? I just finished up a third reading of Chaucer. In Olde English.” So, I guess what I am trying to say is I’m an asshole and a poser. My BFF is a heartbeat away from tattooing Nate Archibald’s name on her ass.