Monthly Archives: January 2010

Better Than the Jersey Shore

Over the past few months, Jersey Shore has served as the tacit Bible for those who wish to follow the path of  DJ Jesus: a life of immodest tanning, unattractive hair styling, and exuberant fist pumping interspersed with punches in the face.  But now that the show is over, where will we find our future prophets, our next Snookis, J-Wowws, or Pauly Ds?  I’m so distraught that I can’t even deal with The Situation.  But, if MTV decides that they’d like to expand their Shore franchise, here are some recommendations:

  • Connecticut Shore: Clad in blazers, cashmere, and khakis bearing small crustacean logos, our pasty-white cast members will showcase the best of Connecticut living.  With this group, they don’t do hair gel; they do hair pomade… sprinkled with saffron and Bulova gold flakes.  Follow the drama surrounding Bernard’s trust fund tussle, Priscilla’s equestrian meet, and Theodore VII’s late-night car crash while drunk off white wine spritzers.  On the Connecticut Shore, controversy will ensue after Gabriel is found buying a sale item at Vineyard Vines.  Lawsuits will fly after Madison steals a string of pearls for her charity auction, Helping Hedge Fund Survivors.  And love will find a way, as outcast Zoe will fall for a grunge, homeless, starving artist from Brooklyn in a shocking act of Connecticut rebellion.
  • Cleveland Shore: Follow the travails of all-American Clevelandites as they try to find things to do other than drink beer every night in their moms’ basements.  Witness the tension between Joe and Mary during their eighteenth trip to the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame.  Guess if Mikey will ever be successful in his nightly attempts to find LeBron’s house.  And see if sweet Carol Anne can actually summon Jesus Christ into her bedroom by using a Ouija board.  Plaid shirts, overalls, and yellow gingham dresses have never been so hip.  With our hot, denim-clad characters and the scandalous backdrop of Cleveland, you can hum hymns while humping hims (but only if you’re a “her”… it’s still a red state at heart).  And despite the fact that their “shore” is only on a lake, at least it’s a great lake.
  • Monterey Shore: The wine is out, the clothes are off, and the hazy Monterey Shore promises to be a laid-back lovefest of crunchy activists.  Follow Marcel and Kyaaledi (pronounced “Joan”) as they protest the deforestation of the Komodor dog.  Find out if Meadow can sell her rhubarb milk shakes at the beach while competing with the capitalist lemonade stand.  Try not to salivate from the mouth as you watch Isaac play the ukelele naked, just ’cause he feels like it.  With a beautiful Californian cast that includes four women, four men, and an adopted baby seal named Scooter (lone survivor of the club-a-seal booth at the beach fair), the Monterey Shore will get you thinking about more than just fair trade bananas and organic tea parties.  You know, it’s about life, man… and bangin’.
  • Texas Shore: If you want drama, turn off TNT and change your channel to Texas Shore.  In Texas’ own version of the Bloods and Crips, we have our red-blooded God enthusiasts facing off against the cryptic indie film lovers of Austin.  Throw in a side of Mexicans, and you have a hit show.  Texas Shore is full of brawn, religion, papis, and, of course, guns.  Follow George as he drives along the Texas coastline in his pickup, chanting “America!  America!”, with a rifle out the passenger seat.  Watch as Nina (single, bespectacled, bra-less) stumps for outdated causes, like women’s rights and freedom for Native Americans.  Will George and Nina ever find true love together?  Will jean cut-offs meet saggy polyester in an immediate union of love and retired fashions?  And what will happen when the U.S. tries to deport Ricardo in the middle of his American Idol audition?  Stay tuned…
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I Will Be A Great Mom One Day (As Long As Someone Else Has My Babies)

I find it demeaning when people say that all women should want to have babies.  You know, that women ought to perform their biological duty and focus on breeding.  But not all women have an innate maternal instinct to become a mother.  And some would rather have kids the new-fashioned way: sticking their embryos into a lovely surrogate mother, and saving themselves the inevitable mama trauma.

To me, having a child is like getting a gift in January, and then being told that you have to wait until September to open it.  Not only do you have to wait an unbearably long time (I want to open it NOW!), but you have to endure something that you’ve tried to avoid your entire womanly life: you get fat. You get cankles.  And you get stretch marks so bad that you could practice calligraphy on the lines along your waist.

After being forced to learn about “The Miracle of Birth” in high school, I am traumatized by the entire process.  And honestly, I don’t understand how anyone can call birth a “miracle”.  How can you call something a miracle when it’s happened more than 6 billion times?  If this is the case, then you could call yawning a miracle.  And come on — you can’t control miracles.  I couldn’t pop a pill and stop the U.S. from beating the Russians in 1980.  A true “miracle” birth would be if I were on the pill, got knocked up, attempted an abortion, and still gave birth to a 100% Caucasian baby with the bone structure of a centaur.

Since I am Asian and not fond of horses, that would truly be a miracle.

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That’s Why I Chose Harvard

Even though we’ve produced embarrassing YouTube clips before*, Harvard really can’t beat the following admissions video from Yale.  “That’s Why I Chose Yale” is a 16 minute musical that was recently released by the Yale Admissions Office.

In the video, we’re welcomed into the magical world of Yale, where students sing about “college” and “knowledge” (2:05), gawk over Brian Williams (6:43), and perform synchronized dancing in the courtyard (13:30), complete with gyrating Chinese lion in the background.  Of course, there is no mention of Death By New Haven or George W. Bush, but every school must hide their skeletons when producing the ugly stepsister of High School Musical.

Yale, this is one time where we’ll let you be #1.  And now, for the award of Best Campy Admissions Video More Suited For a DeVry Institute of Technology Commercial:

Sadly, Harvard could never make such a musical because of our disyllabic name (“That’s Why I Chose Harv-ard” just isn’t suited to rhyming and song).  But, in response to the video, Harvard can come up with a new admissions slogan that fits in with their catchy tune: “At Least We’re Not Yale.”

* Harvard Quidditch, Harvard crawling champ

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Do You Want Fries With That EKG?

Everywhere we go, Americans are used to getting the up-sell: “Do you want fries with that burger?” … “Would you like to buy an extra coffin while it’s on sale?” … “How about a silencer for your new handgun?”  It seems that we can never escape the hordes of people telling us that we want more, need more, must buy more.  As every truism is brought to life by a Beyonce song, it’s fitting that salespeople always want to Upgrade U.

So, instead of buying a regular package, we’re compelled to buy the Gold, the Platinum, the Supreme, Extreme, Marginally Better But Has a Cool Metallic Name So Must Be Worth It package.  And with aggressive salespeople pushing the up-sell, we’re often shamed into buying things we don’t actually need.  We buy two ShamWows instead of one.  We send a letter with delivery confirmation, insurance coverage, and a limited-edition stamp featuring Roseanne Barr.  We get mozzarella sticks.

The up-sell… it fools us every time.

Are there any places where we don’t get the up-sell?  I used to think so.  I used to think that doctors were honest people, filled with good intentions and the sole ambition to save lives.  And for most of my life, this belief held true.  But then I moved to New York City, and I was proven wrong.  Doctors are just salespeople with advanced degrees and the ability to scare you with a scalpel.

Last August, I decided that I would go in for a check-up.  I had just recently moved to New York, so I found a doctor through my health insurance company.  The guy seemed legitimate enough: undergrad at University of Pennsylvania, med school at Michigan.

The first red flag was when I entered his “office” — located in the basement of an apartment building.  Basement offices are not uncommon in New York City, except that most are occupied by tarot card readers and dog fighting rings.  But I disregarded this as a product of the recession, and introduced myself to the doctor’s secretary as “the 9 AM.”

The next red flag was when I met with the doctor himself.  He was a kind, older gentleman, who seemed like the type of guy who would end up in a nursing home and forget his grandkids’ names.  He took down all my information by writing it on a blank yellow legal pad.  “Name?” … “Age?” … “History of diabetes?”  Now, I know that digitized medical records may be a thing of the future, but the doctor wasn’t even filling out some kind of standardized form.  He didn’t even measure my height and weight.  I could have told him that I was 6’4″ and weighed 300 lbs, and he would’ve written it down on his trusty notepad.

After the doctor penned an essay on my medical history, we finally got to the examination.  He used a stethoscope to listen to my breathing.  All of a sudden, the doctor stopped, looked at me with concerned eyes, and told me that I had a heart murmur.

A heart murmur.

This is what happened next:

I ask the doctor what that is.  He says that it’s a condition that could lead, eventually, to death.  I ask the doctor if this is something that I could just develop.  No, the doctor says that I probably had it since birth.  I ask the doctor why no one has ever caught this before.  Well, it’s very delicate, he says, and it’s hard to hear it sometimes.  I ask the doctor if, perhaps, he should turn off the fan in the examination room.  The doctor says I should get an electrocardiogram.

Ah, the up-sell.

I didn’t get an EKG.  But, it’s hard to say no to extra fries when we’re dealing with our health.  (Especially when the fries are getting paid for by insurance companies.)  If I dropped dead from a heart murmur, I would feel terrible for not listening to my crackhead doctor.  I would also be dead.  Lose-lose.

So, that’s why up-selling doctors do it — it prevents them from getting sued, and the bill is covered by someone else.  But the practice isn’t just to cover the doctors’ butts: it’s also immensely lucrative.  Last December, I went to the dentist to get a simple cleaning.  A month later, my insurance company got the bill.  One of the items listed on the invoice was $146 for “Oral eval”… the dentist had used a digital camera to take four pictures of my mouth.

Of course, I ordered the Dentist Supreme.

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As the Peacock Turns

Hey, Jeff Zucker.  Congratulations on pulling a Jason Mesnick from The Bachelor (for the highbrows, this is a John Kerry 2004 reference).  Yes, over at NBC, they’re spreading a flippity-floppity flu.  One day they like Jay… the next day, they like Conan.  Oh wait, back to Jay.  Conan.  Jay.  Conan.  Jota.  Conando.  Pretty soon, neither Jay nor Conan will want to fight this middle-school battle anymore, and The Tonight Show will end up in the hands of Carson Daly and a host of former VJs from TRL.  Hey, you can’t lose ratings if you ain’t got none.  With this kind of competition, at least Letterman can start banging staff members again. 

The Jay-Conan-Jeff Zucker love triangle has become such a big story that Maureen Dowd chose to write about it instead of bashing on Sarah Palin’s Fox News debut.  Dowd giving up a swing at Palin?  That’s like Mark McGwire going to bat without juice.  It almost never happens. 

But now that Zucker’s pissed off Maureen Dowd and almost everyone at NBC, he needs to fill the 10pm time slot.  His two main competitors have already developed their niche audiences (ABC’s programming is family-centric, CBS’s is murder-centric).  Given that there is only so much crap being produced in Hollywood, how can Zucker complement his 8-9pm crap with more terrible programming at 10pm?  What should follow the surefire-disaster that will be Parenthood on Monday nights

If NBC can’t do family or murder, what’s left? 

The answer?  Idiots and socialites.

Look at the success of Jersey Shore and its own sticky Situation.  Look at how many people watch the vapid Real Housewives franchise on Bravo.  Yes, these shows can’t carry on the legacy of classy NBC shows like E.R., but perhaps they can bring in ratings.  And in this capitalist little game of TV broadcasting, ratings will bring in prestige, money, and as many staff members as Dave can handle.

Without ratings and the shows to back them up… well, then, NBC is just a fancy distribution company.  Called Comcast.

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When Doing Butt Clenches at the Office is Not Enough

Most of us sit at a desk for more than eight hours a day, staring at a tiny monitor, writing humdrum reports, and risking carpal tunnel in our fingers. The most exercise we get is from walking… on our way to the bathroom, or to a meeting, or once in a while, to lunch. Multiply this by five (or more) days a week, and it’s amazing that we can still squeeze through the doorways. A recent article described the habits of another group with “squat, furry bodies” akin to ours:

“Pandas have been ridiculed for their decidedly non-bearlike vegetarian diets, their apparent lack of interest in — and aptitude for — sex, their tendency to spend the majority of their time sitting, eating, scratching, and defecating (about 40 times per day) — even for being, shall we say, plump.”from MSNBC

While our nation’s best politicians have shown that humans do not lack interest in sex (where is Eliot Spitzer these days?), we seem to be more like pandas than ever before. The growing incidence of obesity in the world has reached over 300 million people worldwide. About 1 in 6 humans globally are considered overweight, and this ratio is even higher in industrialized countries. Indeed, perhaps much of this can be attributed to our workplace routine, where most of our days revolve around sitting, eating, scratching, and defecating… albeit at a much lower rate.

As evidenced by FOX’s short-lived series Man vs. Beast, humans have never been able to claim physical dominance over animals. Eventually our collective obesity could deem humans as nature’s next “evolutionary mistake,” a term typically reserved for our plump panda friends. Given that the white-collar workforce is at the forefront of our nation’s expanding pants size, here are a few workplace exercises that may help ease our gravitational burden:

  • The (Silent) Scream: If you ever thought that your face looked fat in a photo, try the silent scream. By stretching your lower jaw and neck muscles, while not actually emitting any sound, you can minimally improve the girth of your face. It’s also guaranteed to make your co-workers think twice about invading your personal space.
  • Office Chair Rowing: Think about your office chair as a poor man’s Bowflex. Start with some sets of butt clenches at your desk. Then try some air rowing to gain momentum. It’s always impressive when you can make your chair move without pedaling, and it’ll tighten up that derriere as well.
  • Lunges Combined with Stapler Curls: Make every trip to the bathroom exciting; not only would lunges help build those quad muscles for tree-climbing, but working up those biceps with staplers is a great way to keep in shape. And once you get a handle on staplers, you can move on to the three-hole punch, coffee pots, and perhaps even reams of legal-sized paper.

Finally, just a note: we acknowledge that there are fundamental differences between humans and pandas that make such a comparison preposterous. However, pandas are cute, hard-working, and relatable. If their impending extinction doesn’t make us start thinking about our own love handles and sedentary lifestyle, then what will? So for all of us, the plight of our chubby panda pals can give us a directive: either get on the can 40 times a day, or start doing some lunges.

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Reaching for the Stars and Failing

Whenever friends ask me for advice, I often find myself giving them wonderfully canned responses, like “Hang in there,” and “You’ll get ’em next time.”  Even though I actively try to resist repeating things like “Keep at it,” I inevitably end up reciting the same cheery platitudes over and over again.  Some of my most-used phrases are entirely meaningless, although they look great when written in big, capital letters against a starry banner: “Make it Happen!”  “Life is Good!”  “Happy Face!”  It’s like I’ve been infected by Oprah’s word diarrhea, and I can’t get these nuggets of forced inspiration out of my head.

I’ve never stopped to realize just how ridiculous some of our motivational sayings are.  Take, for instance, “Make a Difference!”  It can sound really upbeat and positive (make a difference, change a life!), but you can also take it the wrong way.  If I shot my friend Tony in the leg, I’d be making a difference and changing his life…  But I doubt that one-legged Tony would thank me for my contribution.  In fact, he’d probably want to make a difference in my life, and shoot me back.  (I am pretty confident that this is how wars are started.)

The worst part is, we’re inundated with clichés mostly when we’re young, when our brains are still gooey.  Therefore, these platitudes become entrenched in our impressionable, developing minds.  In my elementary school, our class slogan was “Reach for the Stars.”  Now, besides being a mediocre S Club 7 song, “reach for the stars” is a terrible message for kids.  Hey kids, aspire to do something that is utterly out of your grasp.  Yeah, try to reach for a giant ball of fire in the sky.  Real smart.  So, not only are we setting kids up for failure, we don’t even want them to succeed.  If they ever did succeed, well, it’s “Hey Mommy, I reached for a star and caught it!  Now I’m an exploding mass of plasma orbiting the sun.  See you in a billion years!”

So, for all my friends, if you ever come to me again for advice, I will save you the trouble of listening to my babble of thoughtless idioms.  Instead, I will hand you a copy of Chicken Soup for the Soul, and hopefully you can figure it out for yourself.

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