Manly Men

Applebee’s has a new advertisement on the air showing a bunch of guys eating at one of their restaurants. Somebody asks what they are ordering and three of the guys respond with typical guy choices like ribs or steak. The last guy announces he’s having one of the new 550 calorie meals. There’s an uncomfortable moment of silence, then everyone laughs and the good times ensue.

Here’s the thing. I think Applebee’s wants you to believe that the laughter after the silence means all the guys are cool with their friend making a low-cal choice. But at this point in the commercial, I interpreted the situation as the last guy just yanking everyone’s chain. To me, the laughter is basically saying, “Yeah, I was kidding. I’ll have the wings and a side of loaded nachos.”

But no. In the last few seconds we see diet man enjoying his lite lunch and not only are his buds cool with it, they appear envious of his choice. This would not happen in the real world. This is a violation of guy-code and his friends would be obligated to ridicule and cajole the calorie conscious friend and possibly insist he pick up the check.

That’s not to say the guy couldn’t get away with not stuffing his pie hole while with his buddies. There’s always the possibility he had drinks and nibbles with his lady after work before meeting up with the guys and just isn’t that hungry. Maybe the Asiago Peppercorn Steak just looked good. No harm, no foul. But he would not, under any circumstances, announce to the group that yhe’s ordering a meal based on its low calorie count. Not unless he secretly longed to have his underwear pulled up over his head.

On the one hand, kudos to Applebee’s for tying to create healthier choices that appeal more to men. Especially since we are genetically incapable of ordering a salad with vinaigrette dressing on the side. They could maybe show a couple, where the woman is so proud of her man for not ordering the smothered chicken and cheese fries. But do not try to imply that guys night out is going to become limited to lite beer and diet entrees. Especially as we age, we increasingly find ourselves less able to treat our bodies like the toxic waste dumps we used them for in our youth. We will tell this to our ladies while cuddled on the couch watching NCIS. But dammit, we are not going to start admitting that to one another. Not gonna happen.

Oh, and just to be clear… this is still your target demographic.

R.I.P. Air America

The lone talk-radio network on the left of the dial is signing off for good today. Air America has struggled financially since its inception as a liberal alternative to the Conservative ranting of Clear Channel, Rush Limbaugh, and Fox News Radio. But it seems that lefties don’t listen to talk radio.

I’m curious about the implication of this for radio’s demographics. Does this mean that liberals listen to music stations, or is it they just don’t do terrestrial radio? Maybe, given the popularity of Fox News on cable TV, Conservatives are just more plugged in to broadcast media in general. I don’t know. But it does seem a shame that we’ve lost the solitary balancing voice on the air.

Still, Air America can credit itself with launching the careers of Al Franken, Ana Marie Cox, and my personal favorite Rachel Maddow.

It was a good run, but all good things must come to an end. Which maybe explains why Limbaugh and Beck will be on the radio forever.

Waning Patience

Everyone is still flailing on both sides of the aisle trying to figure out what Tuesday’s special election in Massachusetts means. Is it a referendum on healthcare? Is it condemnation of Obama? Is it affirmation of America’s love affair with trucks?

It’s likely many things, which means that anyone reading too much into the election is likely to overreact. But there are some key themes the new reality brings to light.

  • Democrats in general and Obama in specific can’t sit back and assume the nation is behind them. We are an impatient people with a very short attention span. There needs to be a coherent message coming from the left. A message that resonates both emotionally and intellectually with the electorate. Currently that message is missing. Republicans are defining both sides of the conversation. You were elected to lead. Show some spine.
  • Congress needs to recognize that we are fed up with the way business gets done (or not done) there. I can’t recall the time Congress had an approval rating over 30%. We think the legislative branch is fundamentally broken, and nothing happening at the Capitol is dissuading us from that opinion. The back room deals, the pork projects, the palm greasing, the 1000 page bills, the lobbying influence, the rules designed to avoid anyone actually being held accountable for doing anything, it’s all apparent in the light of the 24-hour news cycle. Stop it. Help us, your constituents, or we’ll keep rocking your world at every election.
  • Republicans, sit down at the table. Stop focusing on defeating the other party, and look to improve the plight of the people of this nation. You may be in the minority now, but that will change, it always does. The world is not so black and white as your rhetoric would have us believe. Yes, advocate your ideology. But acknowledge that progress still needs to be made during your stay in the minority, and that means compromising for the good of us all.

The Tea Partiers are right. We need to take this country back. But not back from the Socialist Fascist Commies. Back from the corporations and their career politician puppets in both parties. We are supposed to be a government of, by, and for the people. Well clearly that’s not the case anymore. We are mad as hell. We’re not sure what to do about that just yet, so mostly what you’re seeing is random temper tantrums. But keep pushing us and we’ll figure it out. We’ll find a unified voice, because as any good Drill Sargent knows, nothing creates a cohesive team like a common hatred.

Fix it. Do it now. Or you’ll make us angry. You won’t like us when we’re angry.

Bed Buddies

Especially this time of year, the worst part of climbing into bed is getting the chill out of the sheets. No matter how tired you are, that bracing first few minutes gets you alert again and makes it all that much harder to drift off. Sure, flannel sheets are a good alternative. Making sure your partner goes to bed 10 minutes before you is another popular solution. And my sister and her husband have recently become fond of fleece sheets, but that may just be a Little Bo Peep fantasy thing gone amok. Yet all are valid ways, to achieve that chill-less immersion into the bed.

But what if you’re traveling? Alone? Stuck with crisp hotel sheets and no one to con into warming them up for you while you brush your teeth? Not to worry, the Holiday Inn has you covered. They are currently running a trial in London and Manchester where a complementary human bed warmer will show up at your door in a one-piece bunny suit and snuggle under your covers for you for five minutes. Problem solved.

That is, unless you spend too much time pondering that these bed hoppers have snuggled under who knows how many others’ sheets before yours. You can bet those bunny suits don’t get changed between rooms, and all those sheets aren’t laundry fresh either. Remember the fat guy two-doors down with the pile of greasy room service trays outside his door? His funk is now on your sheets. Remember all the screaming and thumping from next door last night? Well guess what you’re pulling up under your chin in a few minutes? And what about the bed warmers themselves? Are they all hale and hygienic?

Dr Chris Idzikowski, director of the Edinburgh Sleep Centre, said the idea could help people get off to sleep. He said: “There’s plenty of scientific evidence to show that sleep starts at the beginning of the night when body temperature starts to drop. The decline occurs partly because the blood vessels of the hands, face and feet open up and release heat. A warm bed – approximately 20 to 24 degrees Celsius – is a good way to start this process whereas a cold bed would inhibit sleep.”

Cold I can shake off. What’s going to inhibit my sleep is a vision of some big harry guy named Nevile who was lounging on my sheets mere moments ago.

Beware of Students with Initiative

A San Diego middle school was evacuated last Friday on suspicion that a student had brought a bomb into the school. It turns out that the “bomb” in question was a homemade motion detector one of the students had been building, which he had brought in to show off. Ironically, the school in question was a Magnet School that specializes in science and technology education. The school’s Vice Principal spotted the device which had electrical wires on it and immediately assumed it might be a bomb. Cue the requisite evacuation, police investigation, search of the family home, etc.

After many hours it was determined that the Vice Principal over reacted. Apologies were issued to the student, his parents, and the community, and the VP was scheduled for some training such that in the future he might recognize real vs. imagined threats.

Yeah right. Actually, the police decided that no criminal charges would be filed and tried to make the family feel grateful that they would also not be seeking to recover the costs of the pointless investigation. The student was admonished for violating unspecified school policies, but found to have no criminal intent. Finally, the entire family was recommended for counseling. Seriously.

So let’s recap. A school official decided a science geek in a school devoted to his ilk was acting suspiciously by having some home built tech on him. The official determines the next logical step is an evacuation and a call to the bomb squad. And as a result the student must undergo counseling. The only way this makes sense is if the counseling is to teach the student how to avoid dunderheaded bureaucrats like his Vice Principal in the future.

Let that be a lesson to you kid. You should know better than to undertake any projects not assigned by the school. For cryin’ out loud, if you’re going to show that kind of initiative, keep it in your garage from now on!