Thursday, May 22, 2008

Not My Favorite Director, But As a Pitchman, Michael Bay is AWESOME!

I've never cared much for Michael Bay's movies, but I'm not much for explosions and such. And I do own TRANSFORMERS, so I guess I don't hate his stuff. It's just not my cup o' tea most of the time.

But I love me some Verizon, and I love me some clever commercial, and the two have been combined in a television/internet spot for Verizon FiOS that can only be described as "awesome!"

("Awesome pussycat!" I laugh every time I see it.)

Something in Bay's delivery makes me think he's a huge Stephen Colbert fan. But then, who isn't?


Thursday, May 15, 2008

ANTM Cycle 10 -- Go (Full) Figure!!!

Okay, I'll admit it. I had Anya Kop picked as ANTM Cycle 10 winner from the fourth week of the show. Quirky accent (sort of Eastern European meets native Hawaiian meets imitation of Cycle 8's Natasha Galinka), "broken" nose, gamin, elfin, ethereal and characteristically sized two, the tow-headed Kop seemed to embody everything ANTM has always held dear -- edginess, beauty, the ever-touted body angles. Every week, she took gorgeous picture after gorgeous picture, won challenge after challenge. I picked her as the winner, in fact, after she won a challenge that earned her a discreetly nude photo shoot with ANTM judge, Nigel Barker. The unearthly results were breathtaking, and I was sure that Kop would walk away with the whole burrito.

Ironically, it was walking that proved to be her downfall. In the final stomp-off (semi-finalist Fatima -- she of the female genital circumcision and perennial whine -- having been thankfully eliminated by her stilted Cover Girl TV spot), it was down to the battle of the blondes. In a glittery runway show for House of Versace, each girl strutted in two gowns chosen for her by Donatella Versace herself. As lithe and long-limbed as Anya was, when it came down to it, she simply didn't rock the dresses. Whitney's first gown -- a curious gold number that was pretty enough, but was a bad choice, cut- and color-wise for the full-figured model -- didn't wow the judges. But her second gown -- a raspberry satin-and-chiffon mini with an amazing, billowing cathedral train that had a life of its own -- seemed like it was made for her. In spite of her difficulties in taming the wild train, Whitney was a vision in swerves, curves and hot pink on the runway. In the end, the judges felt it was Whitney who brought the stomp, and they fabulously defied my cynical expectations by choosing her Cycle 10's Top Model. I hope Versace lets her keep that raspberry dress, because it won her the competition.

After she was selected, Tyra made the point of correcting the oft-misquoted term "plus-sized" model by saying, "The correct term is 'full-figured'." There is a distinction. In modelling terms, apparently "plus-sized" is size 12 or larger. Whitney, a solid sized 10, is just a normal sized girl who happens to photograph like a high-fashion model. Go figure.

Now, frankly, I like Whitney. She's a little catty and has a bit of an attitude, but in a harmless, kind of sweet way that Southern girls have. And, let's face it, plenty of her predecessors have been bitchier and more evil. I rooted for her week after week, sure she'd be eliminated any minute now (she was in the bottom two four times during the cycle). But Whitney is smart and she's funny -- she has a bigger, more impressive personality than any of her predecessors (with the possible exception of the aforementioned Galinka, who has actually built a little career as an entertainment correspondent here and there). My favorite Whitney line has to be, "I never met a potato I didn't like." Atta girl. You speak for all of us.

So congratulations, Whitney. Go out there and break the trend of ANTM models who win, then vanish into thin air. (Where in the world is KariDee, by the way?) In your honor, I'm gonna go make some breakfast!


Monday, May 05, 2008


A horse is not fully grown until at least five years of age. The bones are not knit. The tendons and cartilage are not set. Hence, the tendency to refer to racehorses as "colts and fillies," terms for immature horses.

When you watch, bet on or in any way support American horseracing and their inclination to run horses from one to three years of age -- including the Triple Crown -- you are advocating and supporting animal abuse. Pretty hats and lovely rose wreaths do nothing to alter the fact that forcing thoroughbreds -- bred these days with spindly, thread-like, porcelain legs because it's prettier -- to run a mile and a half at top speed is a cruelty.

The death of promising filly Eight Belles, who placed in the Kentucky Derby this past Sunday, only to break down after the finish with two broken front ankles, is the result of this capricious foolishness. It's vicious and hateful. Anytime you go to Santa Anita or Hollywood Park and bet on a horse, or go to an OTB parlor, you support the abuse and cruelty that is American horseracing. Please see past the pomp and circumstance of this idiotic and brutal "sport." If we're so interested in seeing who the best jockeys are, let's let them run the races from now on. Perhaps people would find it a tad less interesting if we were euthanizing a jockey at the finish line after he broke down because he was asked to run too far, too fast, way too young.

I'm not saying we should ban the sport. I'm only asking that we start setting age minimums and shortening distances, so that we don't have yearlings, twos and three-year-olds running these grueling distances at full-bore. These aren't Dixie Cups. These are living, breathing creatures that we have responsibility for. If we started viewing horseracing as we do dog fighting, Eight Belles might have lived until her fourth birthday.

Rest in peace, Eight Belles. You were a hearty lass.


Sunday, May 04, 2008

A Lovely Party Gift

As most of you already know (because you saw the now-gone ticker at the top of the site), I left my job of 13 years on Friday, to pursue a life of freelance work as a writer/teacher (hopefully)/copy editor/literary bon vivant. (Okay, that last one might be pushing it a bit.)

As a tribute to this major life transition, my friend Gerry forwarded me this link* on a talk by Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, a neuroanatomist who built a career studying brain disorders (her brother is a schizophrenic) and how to treat them. One morning in 1996, Dr. Taylor awoke to discover she was in the middle of having a stroke.

In this nearly-19-minute talk, she relates her experience as she watched each of her left-brain functions (walking, talking, reading, writing, memory) shut down, one by one, and the ensuing enlightenment that she acquired from the experience. Take 20 quiet, uninterrupted minutes and listen to what she has to say. It is all we fear, all we hope for, all we imagine in our wildest imaginings.

In the end, I promise you won't regret it. Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor didn't.


"How many brain scientists have been able to study the brain from the inside out? I've gotten as much out of this experience of losing my left mind as I have in my entire academic career."
~Jill Bolte Taylor~


* The transcript of her lecture can be found here, but I encourage you to watch if you have the time. She exudes an energy and passion that can't be captured in the printing of her words.

P.S. According to Dr. Taylor's website, she has been named by TIME Magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world. That's her, right there, under the "M."

(cross-posted at MySpace)