Tag Archives: Celebrity

I Think I’d Enjoy Being Rich and Famous

Like everyone else, I spend a lot of time following news about President Trump and his various advisors. I may not agree with everything they say, but I can’t deny that they’ve inspired me. After carefully considering their biographies and their public statements, I have completely changed my life goals. If I had to narrow it down, I guess I would put it this way: I want to be rich and famous.

I thought about just being famous without being rich. It would be nice to have people ask for a selfie with me at Panera. And I wouldn’t mind People running

my-abs

pictures of my abs or an Us Weekly poll indicating that I “wore it better.”  I  could probably make a little money from being famous,  but I don’t want to have to appear at the opening of a Mazda dealer or keynote the annual meeting of payroll accountants in Reno. I’d get sick of telling the inspiring story of how I safely landed that plane, or how I showed the world that a 42-year-old man could medal in gymnastics.

I also thought about being rich but not famous. I could just just sit in one of my open floor plan homes looking at my Apple watch until it was time to go to”the club” or some sort of gala dinner “for charity”. Also, I could buy cool stuff from Pottery Barn that looks like authentic stuff but costs more. And I suppose if people saw me at  one of my houses or my expensive replica stuff from Pottery Barn, they would say “hey, he’s really rich! Well, good for him. Huzzah!”

That wouldn’t happen, though, because no one would know I was rich unless I was also famous. That is why I want to be both. I think this might be confusing to people. Yes, I want telephoto shots of my abs in a weekly magazine and I want to have reproduction tchotchkes from Pottery Barn. But being rich and famous is just a means to an end.

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I want to be rich and famous because I have certain beliefs. I believe that black pepper is a topical cure for colorectal cancer, for example. And that the many celebrity deaths in 2016 were actually assassinations – part of Fidel Castro’s terrorism long game (that bastard’s henchmen took two members of ELP in one year, and we did NOTHING!) And I’m convinced that the Sermon on the Mount is the only proper source of a STEM curriculum for middle schoolers.

Are you laughing at me? You wouldn’t be if I were rich and famous. If I were rich like Betsy DeVos, I could set up foundations with lots of staff and media people to publish lesson plans on Jesus-based technology. I could make big donations to politicians who would pass laws banning ropa vieja and rumba unless and until Cuba released all of its files on Florence Henderson. Sean Hannity would probably have a segment asking why scientists don’t admit they can’t prove putting black pepper in your butt doesn’t cure cancer.

Unfortunately, Betsy Devos will get to make schools safer for rapists  and less safe for grizzly bears while my equally factual and useful positions never get heard. Robert Kennedy Jr. compares vaccinations to the Holocaust, which Ben Carson says wouldn’t have happened if the Warsaw Ghetto had more AR-15s.  Are those opinions better than mine? I say Polish immigrants introduced eczema to the US in the 1920s.  National Security Advisor Michael Flynn says that Shariah law is being imposed in Florida. You can’t say these aren’t all equally serious ideas.

What do these people have that I don’t have? Money and fame, of course. It would be so great to just spitball ideas and theories and then have people buy my books. I could meet Dr. Oz! Bill O’Reilly would probably let me finish my sentences! I bet I could get Kid Rock to tweet out links to my YouTube videos! If I became rich and famous, other rich and famous people would want me at their events. I could be on the red carpet and say things like, “yes, I am wearing Brioni. But you know what matters tonight? That all kids have the opportunity to learn what Jesus teaches about trigonometry.”

No one would think that was weird! I could get my teeth capped and use pomade and Americans would think I must be on to something because I was rich and famous. If Meryl Streep criticized me on MSNBC, Joe Scarborough would probably say “but wouldn’t you agree we have to teach both sides of the debate? There are serious questions about the Poles and skin…” and the Meryl would try to answer, but Joe would cut her off because they have to go to commercial.

Mary Lou Retton

The best thing about being rich and famous is that once you become rich and famous, you will basically always be rich and famous. Someone from New York Times might “discover” that my grabbing the yoke didn’t save that plane, and that I was really just lunging for the female pilot’s breasts. And that maybe my gold medal in gymnastics wasn’t from the Olympics, but from  the Ol’ Impiks, a competition my family sponsors every year in Martha’s Vineyard where I’d impishly hired Mary Lou Retton to dress up like me. It wouldn’t matter, because the people who bought my books and admired my abs would say the media was trying to bring a good man like me down.

When you are rich and famous, people think you can do anything – even if those nerds at Vox insisted that all of my money was from my wife’s family who made it selling tear gas in Birmingham in the 60s. I could start a lifestyle brand, or fund a start-up to develop my idea for a car than ran on safe, renewable kittens. Maybe I could even run for President!

 

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Should You Be Outraged? A Guide to Religious Conflict

Early this year, the Pew Research Religion and Public Life Project published a study claiming that religious hostilities worldwide reached a six year high. Fully a third of the countries in the world had a significant amount of religious hostility during the reporting period, whether it was on the part of the government or the citizenry.

You could believe that inter-religious violence and hostility is only something that happens “over there.” You could believe that, but only if you don’t spend any time on the Internet. Members of faith communities not only want you to know about the appalling and disgraceful attacks on their co-religionists abroad, but also about anti-religious activity right here at home. Why are they sharing all these terrible things with you? Is it because stories of persecution accomplish the three major goals of organized religion in America (fostering community through shared victimhood, justifying antagonism towards other groups, and fundraising)?

No, it’s because they want you to share in their indignation and outrage. Unfortunately, each of us has only have so much outrage to spare. We can’t go blow our entire outrage wad on religious violence and persecution. We have to save some to direct at Roger Goodell, President Obama, and Kim Kardashian. Also, maybe grand juries. Yet we want to support our friends in the various faith communities. To help you find direction for your indignation, I’ve carefully researched this handy guide that outlines the struggles of five of the world’s major religions. Included is who they are fighting with internationally as well as their challenges closer to home. There is also a handy infographic at the end, outlining just who is fighting with whom.

Religion: Christianity
Percent of World’s Population: 31.5%
Victimized Internationally By: Muslims. Hindus. Buddhists. JewsOther Christians. Also, Communists.
Victimized in America By: 
Homosexuals. Secularists. Atheists. Alsoby a society that gives into hypersensitivity and insists that Christmas displays be taken down. This apparently fuels the hatred and intolerance that lead to persecution, according to Dr. Ben Carson.
Should You Be Outraged?: Yes! Fanatical enemies of Christendom are everywhere, whether they go by the name of Boko Haram in Nigeria or cower under whatever “Political Correctness” is in America.

Six reasons for anti-Semitism

Religion: Judaism
Percent of World Population: .2%
Victimized Internationally By:
Muslims. Other JewsChristians. Worse, per the ADL, over a billion people worldwide harbor anti-Semitic attitudes. This is staggering! Slightly less staggering is a survey that purports to represent world opinion by asking eleven binary questions of people who live in countries where they’ve never met or heard of a Jew, but still!
Victimized in America By: Mean jerks who say nasty things about Israel, preventing the Jewish state from ever taking military action or constructing settlements. Also, a major American television network has aired two seasons of a “sitcom” perpetuating the worst possible stereotypes of Jews.
Should You Be Outraged?: Yes! Because of Schindler’s List.

Religion: Islam
Percent of World Population: 23.2%
Victimized Internationally By: Christians. Jews. Hindus. Buddhists. Also, an alarming number of Muslims are killed by other Muslims.  And who could possibly do anything to stop it when something as confusing as that happens?
Victimized in America By: The FBI. NSA. Congress. The State of Oklahoma, which acted decisively to thwart a nascent Islamic state in their backyard by banning Shar’ia law. The ban was overturned by the secular and politically correct courts last year. See anti-Christian victimization, above.
Should You Be Outraged?: Yes! But you already posted that picture of Mala Yousafzai to your Facebook wall, so you’ve done enough.

Religion: Hinduism
Percent of World Population: 15%
Victimized Internationally By: Muslims. Buddhists. Other Hindus. Also, American academics who write dangerous books about Hinduism and sexy, sexy, sex.
Victimized in America By: We are all complicit in the theft of yoga from the Hindus. Also, prominent Hindus on TV only pursue non-Hindu men and others talk in affected accents and lack machismo.
Should You Be Outraged?: Yes! The flashbacks in Slumdog Millionaire are very upsetting.

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The Embarrassing Face of American Buddhism

Religion: Buddhism
Percent of World Population: 7%
Victimized Internationally By:  Muslims. Communists. Other Buddhists. Also, evangelical Christians believe that the biggest problem facing Tibet is that they aren’t Christian enough.
Victimized in America By: It’s bad enough that every liberal arts student becomes a Buddhist for four months after finishing their comparative religion class.  It’s quite another to for Buddhism to be appropriated by countless celebrities, so that the face of American Buddhism is the fat, stupid face of Steven Seagal.
Should You Be Outraged! Yes! Do you want a washed up B-movie action star representing your religious community?

Boy! That is a a lot of violence, persecution, and oppression. It’s almost as if some members of religious groups will always find a reason to fight other religious groups and if that gets boring, they turn on members of their own faith in a neverending cycle of attacks and retaliation. Actually, that pretty much sums it up. Here’s a handy summary chart that you can clip out and carry with you for a handy reference for the next time a person of faith tells you that theirs is a religion of peace.

religious violence

It’s probably too easy to get depressed by all the violence and strife in the world caused by intra- and inter-religious conflict. Look at it one way, and it’s like the NFL – pointless barbarity for the sake of score settling based on manufactured rivalries where young men face all the risk, recruited by wealthier folk who somehow never get their hands bloody.  Look at it another way, religious groups are like the NFL – if they didn’t have their rivalries, what would they do with their time?  Look at it a third way, and it’s like the NFL – to people who don’t follow it, the stakes seem incredibly low. All that struggle for a lousy ten yards or that stupid patch of dirt where a guy supposedly saw something he couldn’t explain.  That might be the biggest outrage of all.

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How Not to Get Worried About Creationism, Ray Rice Costumes and Twitter – Pt.1of 2

The other night I got a survey call. I don’t know what kind of survey it was, because I hung up once the automated voice started. Sometimes, if an actual human identifies themselves, I ask if the survey pays. It never does. I ask them why I should give them something for free that they’re going to make money from. Then I hang up. Also, I use Google Voice to block any telemarketing or survey number that’s ever called before, and I block unknown callers.

I don’t think I’m particularly clever by doing this. When I hung up the phone, I realized that everyone I know probably does the same thing. Why wouldn’t you? Any smart person would realize that there are kids to feed, laundry and dishes that need tending, a dog to walk and things to read. Even a smart person with nothing better to do probably has toes and noses to pick, space to stare at…any number of things better than talking to a survey taker. In fact, real-life, actual survey takers back me up on this: the Pew Research Center notes that the response rate to phone surveys in 1997 was 36% and by 2012 had fallen to just 9%. Americans are getting smarter, and not wasting their time on the phone.

You heard me: America is getting smarter. Yes, places like CBS News want you to think that 80% of Americans support a quarantine of US aid workers returning from West Africa, and 56% support a quarantine of visitors from those countries. Gallup wants you to think that 42% of Americans believe in creationism. That might lead you to think that a majority of Americans are credulous, ignorant goofballs. But look at the methodology of that Gallup survey. There were only 1,028 people surveyed, and 42% of them said they believe that people were created by their invisible friend. That’s 431 whole people. Put another way: Gallup found just over a thousand people who still accept calls from strangers and don’t hang up immediately on survey takers, and of that small group of dupes, only 431 of them prefer to have the world explained to them with fairy tales. That’s super encouraging, and a sign of a country that – except for those 431 people – is relatively smart.

The problem is that Gallup didn’t send out a news release that said “431 Americans Live in Ideological Dark Ages.” Instead, they boldly claimed that their outdated methodology said something significant about America as a whole. And then that story got picked up by various news outlets. Concerned rational people wrung their hands about how forty percent of Americans could fail high school biology.

And this brings me to Twitter. Once you get past the people whose reputations are built elsewhere, the professional writers and the occasional clever celebrity, Twitter is the conversational equivalent of a 24-hour diner full of drunks at 3am on a Tuesday. You might hear something interesting, but you’re much more likely to get puked on. We could all be very upset about all of the general misanthropy on Twitter or we could realize this: most people lose interest in Twitter pretty quickly. A year ago, barely a quarter of Twitter accounts were what the company considers “active.” It’s important to note that Twitter defines “active” as logging on once a month. By this standard, parents of an infant are sexually “active.”

If you accept this definition of activity, and you shouldn’t, that’s something around 220 million users. Impressive, until you consider the number of inactive users: at the end of 2013, that was 651 million accounts. That means that lots of people logged onto Twitter so they could “be part of the conversation,” found a worldwide game of “no, you are!” and left. And surely some of those who stayed did so only so that they could send angry messages to American Airlines. The rest of the users in the United States, being very smart, went to go find something better to do. That’s key: according to Twitter, 77% of its users are outside the United States. If we accept 284 million users with their bogus definition of “active,” that means Twitter has 93 million US accounts.

Does that still sound like a lot? Consider: the median Twitter account has a single follower. Late last year, you could be in the top 10% of all Twitter users with fewer than 500 users. So, most people with Twitter accounts don’t use them regularly if at all, most people have few if any followers, and most people don’t actually click through links to read anything they see on Twitter. The average rate is in the neighborhood of 1%. This is clearly the next big thing.

And yet the drunken “conversation” on Twitter is talked about constantly. Bits of flotsam take on meaning in a relatively small corner of the internet, and then they get magnified on podcasts, in print and on the radio, and on other social media. This is how we end up deeply concerned about an Ebola outbreak in the United States that infected far fewer people than were shot in Chicago on a given weekend. This is how my Facebook feed explodes with outrage about a couple guys who went as Ray Rice for Halloween (above). Statistically speaking, basically no one in the United States has Ebola and no one dressed as Ray Rice. But search for “Ray Rice Halloween” on Google, and enjoy a couple pages of opinion pieces on how misogynist and racist this means America is. Needless to say, the same three pictures were all the rage on Twitter.

America is a smart country. But we have a really dumb hobby: getting all worked up over things that aren’t happening to very many people, if anyone. A vanishingly small amount of people respond to surveys. Relatively few people use Twitter, and no one cares about getting more than 140 characters of information from it when they do.  The most tweeted topics in 2013 weren’t stories underreported in the rest of media. They were the same stories that were big everywhere. That’s the good news. The dumb news: the most retweeted tweet of last year was the girlfriend of the dead guy from Glee sending out a picture of him. I’ll give you a buck if you can name him right now. But don’t worry, because this — the most retweeted post last year – was  only retweeted 394,000 times. In the wide world of web, that’s basically nobody.

In part two (which is shorter), basically nobody and the election of 2014 

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Why Does God Have to Take the Elderly and the Reckless?

Hey Everyone,

Natalee coming back at you! Thanks for checking in for the next post by yours truly. I was originally going to write another dream journal today, because I gotta tell you, I am having CRAY-CRAY dreams about food. Like, I pretty much only dream about food these days. Especially those new banana chocolate chip muffins at Dunkin’ Donuts! You had me at chocolate chip, AND then put a chocolate swirl on top?! AMAZEBALLS.

I also owe you guys a post on my theory that J. Crew is trying to make women all self conscious by making their sizes smaller. Tell me this isn’t happening! Size 6 4 life, amirite? But I’m feeling pretty down today, because I learned on Twitter that Sid “Uncle Miltie” Caesar died. The man was stupid funny!  How can we forget that thing where he would say to that chick  “say goodnight, Gracie,” and the chick would say “goodnight, Gracie!”? Hysterical. And he totally launched the careers of all those Jewish writers, like that one guy who married his daughter. If it weren’t for Uncle Miltie, Jews would still only be famous for killing Jesus. The man was a pioneer of comedy. I think it’s safe to say that without Sid Caesar, there’d be no Grown Ups. We are in your debt, sir!

Of course, I’m still processing the loss of Shirley Temple and Philip Seymour Hoffman. You know what they say: bad things always happen in threes. The Lord works in mysterious ways, I guess. I know that some of you remember PSH from Mission Impossible III or maybe you were old skool and went back and watched Twister. But did you know he was a big theater actor, too? This article in People said that he was a “consummate professional who revealed new depths in the character” when he played a guy named Willy Loman, which is from that play by the guy who was married to Marilyn Monroe! Barney Miller? Anyway, crazy to think that Philip Seymour Hoffman was like one degree away from Marilyn Monroe, right? God bless you both, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Shirley Temple. You went before your time and you will be missed!

Nelson-Mandela-Paul-Walker-Cory-MonteithI hope that we’re not about to have another year like 2013. You guys, I’m still bummed by the guy
from Fast and Furious dying. I don’t remember his name but he was sooo kyoot! I didn’t see The Fast and the Furious, or 2 Fast 2 Furious, or Fast & Furious, or Fast Five, or Fast & Furious 6, but I was excited to see what he would do next. Between him and Nelson Mandela, I spent pretty much all of December looking at People, US Weekly, Star, OK!, and Entertainment Weekly. And then I got behind on TMZ, Perez Hilton, and Gawker. It is just so sad, you guys. You just don’t expect someone to die from crashing into a light pole at 100 miles an hour!

Do not even get me started on Cory Monteith. I will probably start to cry.  Why do God and heroin always have to take the good ones? We’ll never know if Cory or the guy from Fast and Furious would go on to take serious roles like Matthew McConaughey. Remember that movie where he’s a lawyer and he asked that jury to imagine the rape of that little black girl and then he asked them to imagine if she was white? I just watched that again in December, as my tribute to Nelson Mandela. I was in my office when I found out that he died, and I ran and found our computer guy, Jagdish, and I just hugged him and wouldn’t let go, because I knew Mandela did so much for his people.

Sometimes I just don’t understand why old people, addicts, and the reckless have to die, you know? God, please bless these angels who are with you now in heaven. Oh, hey! Someone brought in muffins!

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Magazine Review: Grape Disappointment

For years, I got Newsweek as a free premium for giving money to Chicago Public Radio. Having a subscription to Newsweek for the last decade was exactly like the time my grandfather hit himself in the balls showing me how to yo-yo. It was painful, and there was a moment when you realize that the old guy wasn’t as nimble as he used to be, but it was also funny enough that I can still hear the noise he made when wood yo-yo met Papa’s crotch: “hoooooo….”  Newsweek just kept hitting itself in the balls, devolving eventually into a distance learning catalog with a few editorials thrown in. When it went all digital, I didn’t even bother to transfer my subscription.

Now I get Wine Spectator. I suppose I could just turn down the magazine my munificent low three figure gift entitles me to, but like any good American, I like free stuff. Except of course free freedom. Because freedom isn’t free. Operation Enduring Freedom has cost about $500 billion so far. Maybe we should give Afghanistan magazines. They’ll have something to read on the toilet, and the magazines will have increased circulation. Everyone wins, unlike our current plan. Barry, you’re welcome.

I figured Wine Spectator would have some interesting lifestyle/ travel pieces or recipes. I haven’t been this wrong about something since I spoke up on behalf of Use Your Illusions II as a meritorious artistic work in a college music class. Wine Spectator, it turns out, is a magazine for crazy people (of the type I’ve written about previously). There’s nothing lifestyle about Wine Spectator, unless your lifestyle was previously washing your hands 200 times a day or slowly pulling your own hair out. This is a magazine for batshit stalker John Hinckleys, but for wine instead of Jodie Foster.  The strange thing is that the magazine for wine obsessives has a lot in common with magazines for people obsessed with celebrities:

1. An insistence that you’re not crazy because famous, beautiful  people and you have a lot in common. You may be aware that Us Weekly runs a feature called “Stars Are Just Like Us.” This features boring photos of Lindsay Lohan on the beach, showing that just like you, Ms. Lohan has pasty white thighs. You can also see a picture of someone named Robin Thicke at a playground. This will make you feel better, because he has a wanker haircut – just like you! In Wine Spectator they feature a celebrity who – wait for it – likes wine! How rare. What the two magazines have in common is the elastic use of the term “celebrity.” My first issue featured the king of late 90’s mid-tempo Dockers rock, Rob Thomas. Apparently, he is still alive and making “music.” During the production of his latest album, he drank wine! Just like you when you worked on that project that no one gave a crap about! (Oddly enough, Rob Thomas described his favorite wines as “smooth,” noting that they were “just like the ocean under the moon.”)

2. Use of bizarre language that’s only intelligible to your fellow head cases and your neighbor’s homicidal mind-controlling dog. Would you want to drink something that tasted of leather and tar? No? You clearly don’t know wine. Sure, it’s probably what the toe of my shoe tastes like, but it’s also just two qualities of a good Chardonnay. Another wine was described as being “round and fleshy.” Surprisingly, the name of the wine was not “Newt Gingrich’s Big Fat Face.” I just read a Glamour review of some dress Gwyneth Paltrow wore as being “the stuff of legend.” Legend! There’s Arthur and Guinevere, Helen of Troy, and The Sideboob.

3. Maintaining the yin-yang of columns contradicting previous columns. In my careful research, celebrity magazines will often feature an article called something like “Six Steps for Killer Glutes.” The next week, there will be a feature called “Six Things That Will Make Your Ass Look Like A Fallen Souffle.” These will be the exact same six things. My first issue of Wine Spectator featured a column making a bold argument for twist-off caps. After years of insisting that fine wine be corked, now it can be sealed in the same way as Boone’s Farm or Arizona Iced Tea? Where’s the cache, the flair, the aw-nuts-there’s-little-chunks-of-wood-in-my-drink beauty in a metal cap? I’m waiting for the rebuttal in the next issue “Twist-offs: For Lazy Posers.”

The above are comments on the editorial content, and it must be said that fully half the magazine is nothing more than pages of rankings listed in tightly packed columns. Are we to imagine that somewhere in a Pottery Barn-bedecked McMansion a salt and peppered gentleman is running his finger down the columns and is suddenly crestfallen  because his beloved ’06 Honig Scab only scored a 90? There’s nothing else this guy could be doing, like spending time with with botulism- or pneumatically- enhanced wife (depending on whether she’s his first or second)? I am basing this scene on the fact that Wine Spectator is written by and for men, and originates in the same universe as Cialis commercials, where women 20 years your junior are always trying to get in your pants even though – or perhaps because – you look like Dennis Franz.

Maybe the wine enthusiast just needs to diversify, perhaps by subscribing to Wine Spectator’s sister publication Whisky Advocate. While wine allows one to passively act as spectator, whiskey clearly requires that one actively serve as an advocate on it’s behalf.  It’s like the man said:

First they came for the vodka, and I did not speak out–
Because I did not drink vodka.

Then they came for the tequila, and I did not speak out–
Because I did not drink tequila.

Then they came for me – and there was no one left to speak for me, because all I do is talk about alcohol all the time and who wants to spend time with that guy?

 

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