Tag Archives: john mccain

Justifying Our Love for David, Justin, Britney, And Of Course, Madonna

It starts with shortness of breath. Next comes the hyperventilating, the eye twitches, the body spasms, and mangled speech. The flailing arms come out soon after, trying to seek reassurance from anyone passing by: “Did you see that? Did you see him? That was him! That was him!” Deep breaths. Regain composure. Put the crazy face away, and try to look nonplussed that David Beckham just walked RIGHT by you, and grazed your shirt with his arm. David Beckham. His arm. Your shirt. That shirt will never get washed again.

Sound familiar, or likely?

It can be easily argued that we live in a celebrity culture. With resources like People.com, TMZ, and the ever-infallible Perez Hilton, we know more intimate details about celebrities than we do our own friends and family. I may not know the name of my best friend’s ex, but I do know that Jared Leto used to date Cameron Diaz, who used to date Justin Timberlake, who used to date Britney Spears, who used to date Kevin Federline, who used to date nobody famous… that is, before dating, impregnating, marrying, and divorcing, Britney Spears. Through the celebrity-stalking bible known as Us Weekly, I’ve learned that Michael Phelps likes Chinese food, Ricky Martin likes boxer briefs, and Lindsay Lohan likes women. From watching E! News and listening to Ryan Seacrest on the radio, I have developed a wealth of celebrity trivia that would make my high school US history teacher cringe. What year did Madonna’s first album come out? 1983. Who played the little girl in Remember the Titans? Hayden Panettiere. What did Jessie take that got her “so excited” but yet “so scared”? Caffeine pills. No, I may not know exactly what Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac do, or where to find Pakistan on a map, but I can tell you that back when they were married, Dennis Quaid cheated on Meg Ryan. (Plus, I’m guessing that Fannie/Freddie and Pakistan/Iraq aren’t all that important anyways.) It may be hard to justify, but celebrity stories trump news stories every time.

For many of us, celebrities are just incredibly fascinating. Typically most of us would think that it’s crazy to camp out on the sidewalk for hours, just to get within screaming distance of a children’s book author. We would find it odd to reach out and grab at random strangers’ arms, legs, and (other) body parts. Perhaps we want to get close enough to verify that celebrities are, indeed, human. And so we change our shopping route to follow them at the supermarket. We stare at them, enraptured, as they do mundane things that all of a sudden seem fascinating. We try to take a picture of them buying carrots with our camera phone. Maybe all of it is just to confirm that they too eat food, walk places, and have boring days. Maybe it’s to reassure us that they are, kind of, just like us.

Then again, if they were really just like us, they wouldn’t be celebrities. So we live vicariously through their awards nights, champagne parties, airport rampages, and drug busts. We dedicate our whole day to wait in line for tickets to see Madonna, and we set aside The Shirt That David Beckham Touched for framing. It may not be right that we place celebrities on a higher pedestal than prime ministers, Congressmen, royalty, philanthropists, teachers, doctors, firefighters, police officers, community organizers, war veterans, environmentalists, public defenders, public servants, social workers, human rights activists, and often in the case of young people, parents… BUT, celebrities have brought us entertainment in the form of Britney & Kevin: Chaotic. So, I feel quite justified.

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I’m Voting for the Candidate Who Agrees that the Yankees Suck

They say that when you grow up in Boston, it’s in your blood. It seeps into your mind, your heart, and your soul. There is no denying it, and there is no cure. In life, you may change jobs, political affiliations, or even genders, but you will always, always be a Boston Red Sox fan.

The Red Sox are an institution in Boston. This is a city that bleeds red in October. It is a city that jams thirty-thousand-plus people into a green concrete box on game days. It is a city that goes crazy when the Red Sox win, and self-immolates when the Red Sox lose. If you were walking the streets of Boston today, and asked a stranger about the three happiest moments of his life, the first two would be some variation of the typical answer: when my children were born, owning my first home, the day of my wedding, the day of my divorce, etc. However, the third happiest moment would likely be repeated by most everyone you meet: the Red Sox winning the 2004 World Series. Seriously: everyone. Or at least 90%.

But even though us Boston fans are undoubtedly consumed by our sports teams, this fanaticism isn’t limited to Massholes. In fact, there are some places that may even be worse. After all, grown men wear dresses and pig snouts to support the Redskins in Washington. Detroit fans help out their basketball team by sucker punching opposing players. And infamous Cubs fan Steve Bartman received death threats before he was forced into hiding… all because he interfered with a foul ball.

Some might think that our country’s infatuation with sports is strange: you have millions of people on the edge of their seats, fixating over an event they can’t control, with participants they don’t really know, in a game they’ve probably never played. Even though we may give ourselves credit for our team’s victory (“during the whole game, I didn’t move my right arm, because the last time I did, Favre threw an interception”)… really, telekinesis has yet to hit NFL playbooks.

So why are we so obsessed? Why do we set aside our Sundays, neglect our work, and force our arms to go numb? Why do we let two-point conversions and last-second threes and outcomes (over which we have no control) impact our mood? Why do we allow the fate of a foul ball decide how homicidal we want to be today?

Much of it has to do with the sense of community that comes with being a sports fan. Our teams serve as a common thread between fans, an easy conversation starter, and a way for us to showcase our townie pride and bash on our rivals. Our allegiances also grow stronger if there is a common enemy: for Bostonians, we collectively cringe when Peyton Manning’s 17th commercial comes on, and we all agree that the Yankees do indeed, suck. The rivalry is what makes is interesting, and it’s what draws us to our teams even more.

Finally, I’d like to go off on a somewhat-related tangent: As November nears, all of us will be forced to choose allegiances in another competition between opposing rivals. In this contest, however, the implications are far worse than a weekly depression because the Dolphins lost again. Instead, we have to wait four years to turn this one around. And while we eagerly anticipate the next Sox game at Fenway, our engagement with the upcoming election is minimal, at best. Not too many people plan on packing the bars to watch the debates. Not too many anticipate dressing up as a gun-toting book Nazi to support their favorite Russia expert. Very few people are on the edge of their seats.

So, a suggestion: As sports are so popular, let’s try it with politics. For this election, let’s get some form-fitting red and blue jerseys, and see how well our candidates do under pressure. How are Obama’s skills on the basketball court? Can Palin can shoot a moose with a bow and arrow? The ultimate decider could be an American Gladiators course, the true test of patriotism and strength. I want to see Biden battling it out with Siren. I want to see Palin jousting with Mayhem. I want to see McCain get lit up by Justice. If this doesn’t get people interested in the election… well, at least they’ll have football on Sundays to get them through the next four years.

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Perhaps There’s Hope for Paris Hilton After All

Over the past year, we’d heard it all: the economy was in a tailspin, gas prices were soaring, banks were failing, and glaciers were melting.  It wasn’t looking good for Americans, in the wake of lost jobs, more ads for Cymbalta (“where does depression hurt?”), and the resurfacing of Paris Hilton to the national spotlight, with energy plan in tow.  While Debbie Downer was enjoying the party, ordinary Americans were at the bar, our heads in our hands, wondering if Lindsay Lohan might have some advice about our mortgages. 

However, there has been better news over the past few months: the dollar rallied, New Orleans dodged Hurricane Gustav, and the Olympics provided a much-needed jolt to our battered psyches.  Watching Nastia and Shawn, Misty and Kerri, and the redeem team dominate in Beijing, we forgot all about our shrinking pensions.  Instead, we came together as a country, united by our universal obsession with Michael Phelps and our collective distrust of Chinese girls on floor exercise.  

But the most uplifting story of the summer did not come from our athletes’ accomplishments in Beijing.  Instead, it came from a little podunk town in Alaska, from a soon-to-be-GILF, and from the Republican party, no less… Yes, moose-eating, gun-toting, baby-bearing Sarah Palin is the star of the feel-good movie this summer.   

When Palin was first announced as John McCain’s VP candidate, Maureen Dowd said it best: “Why do men only pick women as running mates when they need a Hail Mary pass? It’s a little insulting.” Yes, it is, and McCain’s selection of Palin was easily the most transparent case of pandering to politics in recent history.  But even after she was thoroughly vetted by the media (after all, someone had to do it), Sarah Palin has still come out of it reasonably clean, and with her fascinating story intact.  While Barack Obama has been running his campaign on the theme of “hope”, this does not come close to true, Sarah Palin-brand hope.  True hope is when you believe your team can come back from a ten-run deficit in the ninth.  True hope is when you think that Michael Phelps will see your sign and say yes, he will marry you.  True hope is when you’ve served as governor of Alaska for two years and you think it’d be nice to get invited to your party’s convention (family vacay in Minneapolis!)… oh, and then they ask you to be the vice-presidential candidate. 

This is why Sarah Palin is the feel-good story of the year.  It’s all about hope:  Sarah Barracuda shows that we too can reach the highest offices in our land.  Heck, all you need is a great nickname, an attractive family, the label of “Christian reformer,” and you’re one Viagra-down-the-wrong-pipe away from being the leader of the free world.  Thus, all other unknown governors and small-town mayors should start studying up on Iraqi politics.  Anyone with managerial experience should refine their healthcare plan.  Beauty queens should brush up on their wave… You never know when a presidential candidate may need a saucy new running mate to draw attention away from the real issues. 

Because even while Sarah Palin’s story is uplifting, it’s distracted us from what this presidential election should be about: the issues. 

Palin’s speech last night was full of heartwarming anecdotes but little substance.  She tore apart Obama’s plans while offering no solutions of her own.  Instead of giving us her opinons on important issues concerning Americans, she spent most of her speech attacking Obama for being too well-spoken and well-educated…as if those were bad attributes.  It’s disappointing that right after the Olympics, when our nation was at its peak of togetherness, we were forced once again to hate thy Democratic or Republican neighbor.  The vitriol hurled back and forth during these conventions can make one believe that the opposing candidate is truly as vacuous as Paris Hilton… so it’s no wonder the majority of Americans hate politics.

In the end, we all focus on the sound bites that reaffirm our current beliefs.  For Republicans, Palin’s nomination reinforces McCain’s maverick streak and adds a new spark to the conservative base of the party.  For Democrats, the Palin pick is a sign of desperation and an insulting attempt to attract women.  For everyone else, well, we’re just waiting to see who Nader chooses as his VP.  Since the Dems have a black guy, and the GOP has a woman, does anyone know if Carson Kressley is free for speaking engagements in November?… If not, then I’m sending in my resume and highlighting my executive experience managing a student organization in college…  One can only hope, right?

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