Showing posts from May, 2010

Friday's Favs

(Note: every Friday I'll post a favorite rant from the archives)

from May 29, 2009

W-h-o C-a-r-e-s?

First, let's call it for what it is, not what its title is.

The National Spelling Bee has nothing to do with spelling.

Well, maybe a little bit. But only a little bit.

The Bee is, in fact, a test of one's memory. The ability to remember the order in which the letters of words that no child will ever use, come in.

It's a demanding, almost cruel ordeal we put the children through.

And what do they get out of it, exactly?

Nausea. Cold sweats. Fainting spells -- no pun intended. Wracked nerves.

Besides, the Indian-American kids seem to have this down pat, so why bother anymore?

This year's winner is a 13-year-old girl from Kansas who is now the seventh Indian-American child to win the event in the past 11 years.

Her name is Kavya Shivashankar.

“Spelling has been such a big part of my life,” said the Scripps Spelling Bee 2009 winner to the Associated Press. Kavya has been…

Zero Tolerance

Allow me to toot the horn of my alma mater for a second.

Maybe you've seen the billboards, or read it in the newspaper. (Does anyone read newspapers anymore?)

By billboard, you'll notice it by the three big, fat zeroes under the words Tuition, Room, and Board.

Eastern Michigan University, my haunts circa 1981-85, is doing something no Michigan university has done in some 25 years.

It's holding its rates of tuition, room and board flat for the 2010-11 school year, from the current year.

They're calling it the "Big, Fat Zero" campaign.

This after one of the smallest rate hikes in the state last year---just 3.82 percent.

"We recognize how desirable an affordable, quality college education is," EMU President Sue Martin said. "I applaud the Board of Regents for taking this necessary risk."

The "risk," of course, is financial on EMU's part. A zero percent increase means you can't count on additional dollars in the budgeting process.


Mommy Dirtiest

If you saw mommy kissing Santa Claus, apparently that's not the worst of it---hardly.

As Christine Durst puts it, bad economy makes for some strange bedfellows.


Durst is the CEO of StaffCentrix, one of the actually legitimate firms that hires out work for stay-at-home types.

She says these tough times have seen an uptick in stay-at-home moms working as phone sex operators.

"Some of them are kind of apologetic, and even sheepish," Durst told CNN of the moms she's spoken to for a book she wrote. "They say that they normally would never consider doing this sort of thing."

But, Durst says, not all moms are ashamed or embarrassed.

"Some of them actually enjoy it."

Durst says a phone sex mommy will drop off her kids at school, tease and titillate men for a few hours during the day, and then pick up the kids, who are clue-free.

As for the spouses of these tart-tongued mothers, Durst says for the most part, they're understanding.

"A majority of …

Friday's Favs

(Note: every Friday I'll post a favorite rant from the archives)

from November 9, 2009

Big, Dead John

There's been some scuttlebutt over a new DirecTV ad that features comedian David Spade and his former partner in crime, Chris Farley.

The DirecTV ads are clever, to say the least. They thrust real-life stars back onto the sets of one of their more famous movies, only this time they break the plane and speak to the viewer, extolling DirecTV's benefits.

They do it by doing an amazing job of recreating the scene through CG effects, but that's really Sigourney Weaver, or Charlie Sheen, or any of the others who've appeared in the campaign, talking to us about DirecTV. The Weaver one is particularly fun, as she speaks to us while battling an alien.

So the latest one has Farley playing one of his over-the-top characters, Spade being the straight man. Spade speaks to us about DirecTV as an aside.

The controversy arises, of course, because Farley is no longer with us. But I recall…

May Days

Whatever you think of unions, this one can't go unacknowledged.

The UAW turns 75 this month.

It's true. The United Auto Workers union was founded in Detroit in May 1935. It was first born under the auspices of the American Federation of Labor (AFL).

Seems that the AFL's focus was primarily on craft unions at the time, and some within were getting restless. Then union leader John L. Lewis, at the AFL's 1935 convention, created a splinter group of industrial unions and called it the Committee for Industrial Organization---the original CIO.

After just one year, the AFL suspended the unions within the CIO, so Lewis and his people---including the new UAW---formed the "new" CIO, the Congress of Industrial Organizations.

It wouldn't be until 1955 when the CIO would rejoin with the AFL, forming the aptly named AFL-CIO.

But back to the UAW.

The UAW was one of the first major unions that was willing to organize African-American workers, which is no surprise when you consi…

Can't-Miss USA

She's Miss USA and she's from Michigan. Hooray!

Oh, she's gorgeous, as you would expect---but this time Miss USA looks a little different.

That's because she's Arab American.

Rima Fakih of Dearborn wears the crown today, chosen over 50 other contestants at yesterday's pageant in Las Vegas.

She's 24, of Lebanese descent, and a graduate from the University of Michigan-Dearborn with a bachelor's degree in economics and business management.

And did I say gorgeous?

Fakih works in marketing at the Detroit Medical Center, and she's got the Arab American community atwitter.

"This is unbelievable," gushed Rami Haddad of Livonia. "It's a dream come true. I can't express my feelings."

"This is the real face of Arab Americans," said Zouheir Alawieh of Dearborn. "Not the the stereotypes you hear about. We have culture. We have beauty. We have history, and today we made history. She (Fakih) believed in our dreams."

I had no …

Friday's Favs

(Note: every Friday I'll post a favorite rant from the archives)

from December 2, 2009

Revving Up with a V-8

Wow---I really could have had a V8.

Rummaging in the fridge the other day, in the post-Thanksgiving version of nuclear winter, I happened to take a gander wayyy back on the third shelf down.

There they were: a few six-ounce cans of V8, "Extra Spicy" version.

I actually enjoy V8. A lot. Yet it's not something I think about buying. I cruise right by it in the grocery store.

The company's longtime tag line is spot on.

"I coulda had a V8!!"

Forget how good it tastes as part of a bastardized Bloody Mary; V8 is surprisingly refreshing (considering it's made from...VEGETABLES!) and has one of the best after tastes you'll ever find in a drink---especially one made from...VEGETABLES!

This isn't tomato juice, by the way; let's get that clear right off the bat. It looks like tomato juice, yes. And its primary flavor is clearly culled from tomatoes. Bu…

Their Days Should be Numbered

Including area code, there are 10 digits to any garden variety telephone number.

Tell that to the folks at Progressive Insurance.

I'm sorry to pick on Progressive, but they're the most egregious example of what's been making me cranky lately.

I find that as I get closer to 50 years old (I'll be 47 this summer), it doesn't take much to crank up my crank machine.

Progressive, if you'd like to call them, pumps a phone number that defies logic and that makes its own rules for dialing.


The "area code" for purposes of this number is the toll-free 800, thus leaving seven digits to dial a proper, legal phone number.

"Progressive" contains 11 letters.

I think you see where I'm going here.

What the Progressive people want you to do is use the name of their company to better remember their phone number. On the surface, I understand that sentiment.

Two problems.

One, you have to dial four superfluous numbers.

Two, the new "smart" ce…

The Final Horne

The Lady and Her Music may be gone, but they'll be far from forgotten.

That was the title of Lena Horne's one-woman Broadway show, but that was far from all she was.

She was much more than a lady and her music.

Horne died yesterday, 92 years young. And I mean that sincerely.

Horne, even near the end, had skin like porcelain and Fred Astaire eyes---they danced.

Folks used to make fun of Dick Clark for never showing his age. Lena Horne had Clark beat in a route.

Horne entertained for about 60 years and some change. She was a dynamic performer---one of those precious few whose mere presence in the room created a buzz. If you knew Lena Horne was backstage about to perform, you didn't settle back to watch---you strapped yourself in and made sure your tray was in the upright position.

Alas, Horne was another performer whose political views (read: left of center) got her blacklisted during the Red Scare. She marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Washington in 1963 and was quite th…

Friday's Favs

(Note: every Friday I'll post a favorite rant from the archives)

from February 3, 2010

Ain't it Funny

"60 Minutes" was chatting up The Great One---and I don't mean Wayne Gretzky---and they had a simple yet probing question.

This was Jackie Gleason, of course---the original Great One, and the question came as he relaxed with the ubiquitous drink nearby.

"Why do you suppose," the query began, "The Honeymooners is still so popular, after all these years?"

Gleason smirked beneath that pencil-thin mustache of his.

"Why? Because it's FUNNY."

Well said.

Gleason is another of those entertainers that no mother has been able to spawn since he was a part-owner of the television airwaves back in the 1950s. And he's right; The Honeymooners has stood the test of time because it was, as Gleason said, funny. As hell.

And to think that most of the action took place on a sound stage so small that the camera barely had to pan left or right during any giv…

Seeing Red

I used to have a crush on Lynn Redgrave.

I've always had a thing for redheads, though I'm married to a gorgeous Italian woman with dark hair.

In the 1980s and '90s, I was the only member of my own little Lynn Redgrave Fan Club. I found the actress's British accent and her red hair and her class to be very attractive.

She wasn't a classic beauty by any stretch, and there may be others of the male persuasion who'd argue vehemently that Redgrave wasn't even good looking, period.

But I always thought she was.

I remember in the early-1990s she was appearing at a local celebrity golf outing and the TV station I was working for sent a camera crew there to get some show IDs from as many celebs as they could.

You know---"When I'm in Detroit I watch 'The Sports Guys' with Greg Eno."

Stuff like that.

They got ice skater/analyst Scott Hamilton and a couple others to pump our local shows, including my sports gab fest.

When the crew came back, someone mentio…