Tips for Hiking in Iran: Don’t

The recent arrest of three Americans apprehended while hiking around Iran’s lush, desert habitats has prompted nature enthusiasts and parks and recreation officials world wide to issue a stricter set of guidelines for traveling to the region: don’t.  Many of Iran’s majestic mountains, idyllic waterfalls, and lunaresque, cratorial basins can be enjoyed in the privacy of your own home, officials point out, with the aid of Google images or in one of the  many picturesque coffee table books available at your friendly and safe Barnes and Noble or Border’s bookstore. Your friends will still delight in your stories of looking up at the endless canopy of stars in the Middle-Eastern sky or back yard, tucked into your Eastern Mountain Sports thermal bag, sipping some American-made hot chocolate, savoring your freedom from incarceration and diplomatic uncertainty.  Officials assure that family members and other guests will remain rapt, as you describe the breathtaking vistas of some of the headiest of Iran’s summits, downloaded right to your lap top with high speed DSL; they will hang on your every word, comfortably, without the nuisance of an angry Iranian guard pointing a prison made shiv at your throat, threatening to detonate the bomb strapped to his body.  All the memories you manufacture with the help of photoshop will be yours to treasure for years to come until you peacefully pass away like the old lady at the end of Titanic and not chained to a dirty toilet in an underground prison while a rat gnaws your face off.

Cheerleading Labeled More Dangerous Sport than Bear Bating

It’s a staple of American football and basketball games; a group of perky young girls in short skirts waving their pom-poms, inciting a riot in the name of team spirit and the hometown advantage. According to a newly published study, cheerleading is more than part of America’s past time, it is one of the nation’s most deadliest sports.  The cheerleader’s acromantic twists, turns, leaps, and gyrations are a chiropractor’s wet dream, but that is not the only menace created by this titillating spectacle.  Cheerleading is harmful to spectators watching young, nubile girls spin, dip, hurl, and bend with the freakish grace of a Barbie doll, waiting on the off chance that there might be a flash of illicit cheek or a nippular incident.  The hapless game goer, trying not to look too leeringly obvious, trying to nervously dab at the flop sweat pooling in the collar of his shirt as he worries he might be sitting next to the angry looking hulk of a cheerleader’s father, experiences increased heart rate, a surge in blood pressure, and might even go into epipletic shock trying to avert his gaze from the 30 springing, flinging, kicking, and flashing girls filling the court or field.  No moves have been made to ban the sport, but in an effort to make cheering more safe, the National Association of Spirit Hands (NASH) is launching a comprehensive campaign to recruit less attractive, out of shape, unpopular girls to cheering squads across the country.

John and Kate Gosselin Fearful that No One Actually Gives a Crap

Conservative Talk Show Host Rush Limbaugh Drops 90 lbs! Weight loss Fuels Speculation Republican Icon is Actually Living Jello Mold

For a man who likes to flap his gums, radio personality Rush Limbaugh remains tight lipped on his recent 90 lb drop in girth, including 7lbs in one week.  Health and dietary experts remain skeptical the big, gooey, lovable ignoramus lost the weight using healthy methods.  Many suspect cosmetic surgery or good, old fashioned voo-doo came into play.  Others give voice to what several factions already suspect: Limbaugh’s gelatinous exterior was just that–jello, proving that while there is always room for jello, there might not always be a stomach for it.

Kim Jong Il and Clinton Dish Jo Bros, Twilight, and American Journalists at First Royal Sleep-Over

In an unprecedented move, N. Korean leader Kim Jong Il hosted former president Bill Clinton in a sleep-over to discuss the release of American journalists sentenced to 12 years in a labor camp for allegedly spying on the N. Korean government.  The pair watched the complete 3 seasons of Blossom, ordered sushi-pizza, and made prank calls to Queen Elizabeth.  A tense moment ensued when Jong Il became incensed that Mr. Clinton had texted Lindsay Lohan to tell her Jong Il thought she was “smokin,” but all was forgiven in the name of pajama diplomacy.

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E-volveIn what is being hailed as one of the biggest upsets in media history since O.J. Simpson’s white bronco chase eclipsed NASA’s successful communication with another planet, coverage of Supreme Court nominee Judge Sotomayer’s confirmation hearings have trumped everything-post-mortem about Michael Jackson.  With news sites and blogs devoted to Sotomayer’s grammar, hairstyle, hand gestures, and favorite kind of ice cream (Ben and Jerry’s Americone Dream, duhh), the late King of Pop and what he may have had for breakfast the morning he died (Kashi Go Lean, duhh) has virtually disappeared from the news wires.  Self-appointed Jackson spokesperson and lovable family curmudgeon, Joe “Gestapo” Jackson voiced his outraged that the first, female Latina judge in the court’s history would receive more coverage than his freak of nature, rubber-faced, Nosferatu pop star son.  “What’s wrong with people,” Jackson demanded, “I have a hand-written letter from Michael to Bubbles the Chimp and a credible theory that the CIA and Cosa Nostra were behind Michael’s death, which I am willing to part with for several million dollars, and some broad in a black bathrobe gets all the headlines? This is a travesty of justice.”  As if to add insult to injury for the bereaved Jackson patriarch, sources say that sales of bumper stickers reading “Wise Latina On Board” have greatly surpassed commemorative Jackson memorial programs.

A man was killed this week when his car plunged over the side of the Grand Canyon.  A representatative for the McGoo family could not be reached for comment.

Police are investigating the suspicious demise of President Obama’s long-time teleprompter.  Andrew Malcolm of the Los Angeles Times reported on the incident occurring on July 13 in Washington D.C. “As the president launched into his 11 minutes of stimulating remarks, according to eyewitnesses, the old teleprompter simply expired, came loose, fell silently as if in movie slow motion before the stunned eyes of watchers and smashed into many pieces on the hard floor.”  Though no one has been directly implicated in the incident, possible suspects include Power Point, Slide Projector, that guy from the Mac commercials, and Karl Rove.  Authorities are not ruling out suicide as a potential motive.  One D.C. policeperson commented, on the condition of anonymity, “If you had to spend your life spewing out the same ten words over and over to make some other guy look great, you might decide to end things too.”  Investigators are also conducting a thorough search of Teleprompter’s locker, looking for illegal wires, chips, or other forms of digital enhancement.

Liz Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Dick “Buck Shot” Cheney defended her father’s rumored implication in keeping clandestine C.I.A operations secret from Congress.  Insisting he did nothing wrong or illegal, Ms. Cheney hailed her father for helping to keep America safe for eight years.  Cheney, a former state department employee, is also the proud owner of lake front property in Arizona, a bridge in Brooklyn, and traditionally leaves carrots and sweet treats for Santa and his reindeer.

A new USA Today gallop poll published this week reveals the GOP needs a boost to its self-esteem.  The GOP has blamed its poor self-esteem on its nagging mother and stress eating.

Pop superstar Madonna was recently given the go-ahead to adopt a young Malawi child.  This brings the Angelina/Madonna Baby Adopt-Off total to 5-3.  Madonna expressed her desire to give the child a loving home.  A loving home? Maybe, if that includes being raised by an overbearing narcissistic mother who sleeps in an oxygen chamber and whose idea of discussing the facts of life is giving her daughter her Sex book to read.  But hey, it will give her and Suri Cruise something to talk about in group therapy.

June 12, 2009 marks the historical media transition from analogue to digital t.v.  Those without a digital converter box will no longer receive television transmissions and may be forced to interact with friends and families.  In a related story, analogue t.v. will finally be available in Russia.  Russians have been forming lines around the t.v. store since 1975.

An unidentifiable spokesperson for N. Korea indicated that Kim Jong Il’s youngest son, Kim Jong Un, has been given the name “Brilliant Comrade,” indicating the start of a new transition to power.  Other names that did not make the cut: Kick Ass Dictator, Wacky Jong Un ’69, and Ashton Kutcher

Former President George H.W. Bush will spend his 85th birthday sky diving.  Son George W was invited to parachute alongside his father, but declined saying “Are you serious? Why on earth would anyone want to throw himself out of a plane on purpose?”

A German teen was hit in the head by a pebble-sized meteorite.  The teen was unphased by the incident as he had been following the meteorite on Twitter.

An Egyptian man from a wealthy family, frustrated over being denied marriage to a woman from a lower-class family, cut off his own penis.  Apparently he’s never heard of eloping.

A new audio message by suspected leader of Al Qaeda and terror master-mind Osama Bin-Laden, condemning President Obama and his foreign policies, surfaced on Wednesday as Mr. Obama begins a diplomatic trip to Saudi Arabia.  Bin-Laden’s last video message came in 2007 prompting analysts to speculate that the terror-leader prefers the less time-intensive audio production to video transmissions, which would make him a PC.

In entertainment news, former Back Street Boy Lance Bass is in talks to record an album with Europe’s sensation Susan Boyle, tentatively titled Lance ‘n Boyle.

Newt Gingrich apologized for calling supreme court nominee Judge Sotomayer a racist. Trying to avoid further controversy, Gingrich said, “I’m sorry; I meant to call her a racist woman.”

According to a new study, images of teens smoking have decreased in blockbuster movies.  On the rise: images of sexually awkward, pre-pubscent, horn dogs with a penchant for fart jokes and a keen sense of comic irony.

“One of these days, Alice,” he says, spittle flying from his lips and the sweat swinging from the Brill Cream slicked tips of his hair. “POW! Right in the kisser!” His meaty fist rests inches from her placid face, blank, like the surface of the moon he threatens to send her to each night.  The audience erupts in shrieks of laughter.

“Oh jeeze, here, the dingbat’s got something to say,” he snidely remarks, hunched into his faded chair, face screwed up in disgust.  “This outta be swell,” He sneers sarcastically.  He sips a beer, obviously disinterested, while she prattles and rambles on about her cousin or socks or her cousin’s socks.  He pretends to nod off to get her to shut up.  She’s unphased. The audience erupts in shrieks of laughter.

“Gee Al,” she whines, her maroon buffant, a shelacked treasure, ensnared in three gallons of hair spray barely quivers, unlike her thrusting breasts. “It sure would be nice to have sex tonight *pause* with a winner. *sigh* But I suppose you’ll have to do.” She uses one of her Lee Press-On talons to clean something out of her teeth, glancing at her emotionless husband.  He stares blankly at the television and says “Aw c’mon Peg, haven’t we punished each other enough? Sex is for, you know, people who like each other.”  The audience erupts in shrieks of laughter.

Today California legislature voted to uphold Proposition 8, the controversial overturning of gay marriage that went into effect in November.  Many gay rights advocates and members of the gay and lesbian community view gay marriage as a foundational civil rights issue, arguing for entitlement to all of the same legal protections afforded heterosexual couples.  Civil Unions, many assert, do not offer the same type of critically important legal benefits (health insurance, tax filing status, or visitation and power of attorney rights in light of medical issues or calamities to list a few).  The promotion of Civil Unions in their various formats enforces a separate but not equal purview.  Opponents challenge these views, of course, claiming that advocates play semantics with these terms and that civil unions are, to quote Forest Gump “fine and dandy.”

Semantics: the different meanings words posess.  Former President Bill Clinton gave us a crash test dummy course in semantics with his cunning, lingual (*ahem*) dance around “that,” “sexual relations,” and “putting my penis inside her.”  Point being, our twenty-first century lexicon grows increasingly malleable to the point where talking points appear on the side bar of the shows of talking heads, later distilled down to Twitterphiles in just 140 characters. Words create the fabric of our realities or fictions.

One of the leading groups that rallied around Proposition 8 and its current status was the organization Protect Marriage, protectmarriage.com.  The mission statement is simple, people coming together to “restore traditional marriage.” Restore. Traditional. Marriage.  Judging from our vast wasteland of pop culture, often carved out in our own reflections, that seems to suggest a ruggedly handsome white man reading the paper in his comfy chair while a beautiful and cheerful woman prepares dinner and gives him his slippers.  The kids play quietly at his feet.  Maybe it means a bored and lonely woman, devoting herself to her husband and family, meting out her hours in quiet desperation accompanied only by the soothing, numbing presence of her good friend Percodin.  Traditional. Oh! Ok, traditional marriage, a young man and young woman find themselves unexpectedly “in the family way” and decide that marriage is, after all, for the best, and hey, now that the good folks at Protect Marriage have restored it, might as well take advantage of it, right? Immature and inexperienced, they get married, they fight; there are stresses that no one could have prepared them for, he stays out with his friends and sometimes does not come home until the following day, she cries on the phone to her mother every night.  They have a second child, a band-aid solution to a bullet hole problem; they are  divorced and dating new people they met Match.com by the age of 23. Or was that not the fate facing Bristol Palin? We’ll never know since the curtain fell on that farce once the political cameras stopped roving and the clothes had been thoughtfully donated to charity.  In these cases, why would any self-respecting gay or straight man, woman, or beast want any part of this social and personal contract?  And is it lost on anyone the surreal irony that California has become the epicenter of this moral debate? California, where Hollywood and Los Angeles are located, right? Where I can turn on the t.v. and learn about a pop star’s 15 second marriage or find out who was caught cheating, again, on their wife of 25 years, or discover who is leaving their wife or husband for the scandalously younger co-star, live-in “Manny,” pool boy, or hot new studio producer? Right. Traditional marriage it is.

Change, change, change

Change, change, change

If you follow the “logic” of a group like Protect Marriage, the crusade is even less about homophobia or prejudice or even poor judgement in the annals of civil rights and more about protecting some type of implicit-Disneyfied version of “traditional marriage.”  Semantics.  Marriage is defined in the dictionary both as a “social institution” by which a “man and woman” establish their decision to live as husband and wife through legal and spiritual channels and as “any close or intimate association or union.”  Protect Marriage worried (real hand wringing here) that California’s turn to gay marriage would open up the doors for any number of odd pairings.  Too late. Miriam-Webster, Oxford, and American Heritage are way ahead of you.

Marriage has legal facets that are crucial for the health and well-being of the people involved, the people involved, not the purple, red, Communist, gay, straight, or masochistic, but the people.   And that’s why all people should have access to these rights, protections, and other legal mumbo jumbo.  How you choose to conduct yourselves in that marriage is your own business, go be the star of your own freak show, nightmare, or dreamy Broadway musical fairy tale, but do us all a favor and leave the sanctimonious indignation to the experts on t.v.

Semantics. We’re on to you.  And oh, get me beer, Edith, would you?

If only this headline were true, it could enjoy some prime real estate nestled between “Women Switched at Birth Find out 56  Years Later,” “Ghost Hunters Inspect 180-year-old New Mexico Hotel,” and “Are Triad Marriages Next?” Supermarket tabloids feed our lowest common denominator appetites for salacious gossip and completely fictionalized annals from the bizarre and sublime.  We love to hate’em, but cannot seem to avoid trying to surreptitiously sneak a copy into our O Magazine or Simple Living while waiting for the diligent bagger to independently wrap every tomato and double bag the frozen spinach.  The same might be said for some of our more incendiary, infamous infotainment networks such as Fox “News” where the above headlines originated (except for the stuff about Zombies, though I am sure Mike Huckabee has a team of “serious investigators” working to verify some kind of connection between Zombies and Nancy Pelosi’s domestic help).

Fox “News,” you are a vast playground of whimsy, irreverence, and entertainment not experienced since P.T. Barnum’s American Museum of Oddities unfurled its great doors to the nineteenth-century American public.  You are equal parts Dad shaking his stern fist at the carefree youth whose laisez-faire attitude will no doubt lead to pot smoking, rock-n-roll, and fun and sweaty-toothed madman prophet holding up his cardboard signs announcing the end of the world.  Oh Fox “News,” you can’t fool me; you’re simply funny.  You’re here for my amusement, and it is rather amusing to watch your colorful cast of characters “strut and fret their hour upon the stage,” sometimes fixing the camera with both mock outrage and disbelief at the latest activities to come burping out of the Washington beltway.  No one delivers the “news” better than you in these moments: pensive, aggressive, anxious, like a diabetic grandmother three ice cream sundaes from her next insulin shot.  It’s an action movie and a Judd Apatow comedy all rolled into one!

And thank you Fox “News” for spoon-feeeding the masses your delicious, saccarine, 1000% more carbs, trans fat-i-fied, Yellow #9 Dye, earth unfriendly diet of information.  I simply open up and swallow, no thought or even effort required!  When Ann Coulter (love child of Jar Jar Binks and Eva Braun) tosses her willowy mane, much like Mr. Ed and snorts (also much like Mr. Ed) that “dunking someone’s head in water” is certainly nothing akin to torture and waterboarding is as harmless as any antics pulled by Springbreak-Interrogators-Gone-Wild, I laugh along with Ann “Eat a Steak” Coulter. How pithy of her to suggest such a thing and doesn’t this make me sleep better at night knowing eight years of clandestine and illegal policies were really the stuff of a Grisham novel? Phew!

When Glen Beck peers into the camera, his doughy face contorted into painful sincerity, urging me to follow the lessons of the white, privileged, some morally bankrupt, founding fathers of our great nation and return to simple values (like giving small pox to foreigners and hanging female dissenters on Boston Common), I…I want to believe.  I sink into his 4th-grade logic and second grade grammar like a waitress sinks on the couch after pulling a tripple shift at the interstate Cracker Barrel.   I can practically hear the Elton John and Tim Rice Disney-fied musical score soaring in the background, lulling me into comfort that the world really is black and white, have and have not, right and wrong, and there’s P.T. Barnum O’Reilly waiting to greet me and act as ring master and tour guide for this increasingly dizzying place we call planet Earth, here and now.

Zombies say brains taste like chicken, and they should know, having consumed a steady diet of intellectual junk food for eight years thanks to Bill, Sean, Glen, Ann, Karl, and the rest of the li’ll rascals at Fox “News.”

Urban Brood

Living in a city is like being in a relationship with a person that your friends “don’t get” who will cheat on you with your sister, steal your identity, and burn a hole in your grandmother’s heirloom dresser while giving you the most amazing, spine busting sex you’ve ever had in your life.   That’s why it’s so hard to break up with a city and even harder to hate on the city that you live in, no matter how many times it lies right to your face or borrows money it will never pay back.  Because much like the same way a relationship leaves its indelible marks or proud scars, cities give us invisible medals, the equivalent of a Girl Scout survival badge, or the veteran’s Purple Heart.  Those in search of the easy prize at the bottom of the Cracker Jack box, need not apply; Mayberry, Sleepy Hollow, and the state of Montana are waiting for you.

The key to surviving any city is understanding its vibe.  Every city has its own jet stream of energy, burrowing through its grid and tunnels, carving out its own atmospheric Grand Canyon.  D.C. is self-importance cloaked in subterfuge, a cradle of American history, it is thrumming with the engines of progress and corruption.  Chicago is comfortably unrefined; it is the rough around the edges, lovably scruffy college buddy who lets himself in to crash on your couch and cook you breakfast of Perogis and sausage in the morning. L.A. is an asteroid that crashed to earth transplanting its alien species, an invertible revolving door to the biggest sideshow in America outfitted in Armani suits, blue tooth technology, and shackled to trendy travel mugs filled with lattes or vodka.  Take note ladies, L.A. is not the marrying kind. And then there’s Boston.

Boston is my hometown and its vibe may be summed up in two words: pissed. off.  It is the beer drinking, habitually unemployed uncle who stands on the front porch on December Sundays in his boxer shorts and tank top, loudly belching and scratching himself, rooting around in the college fridge for a can of Coors or a bottle of Cobra. Its geography is designed to confuse and divert, laid out from the ruts of seventeenth-century cow paths, and maintained just as frequently:

Ya, aaarrr roads probably won’t get ya ta where ya goin. Some of ’em just end arrr dump ya out in the rivah and ya know what? Fuck you! Thats what ya get fa tawking on yar cell phone er planning yar vacation on the Vineyaaaahd instead of watching where the frick yar goin! Christ!

Its glittering skyline and enticing waterways beckon, come to Boston, stay, drink with us. Drink with us for 5 hours each night because the bars and clubs close by 1 a.m. and the MTA or T stops running at midnight.  The only city in America where your curfew is determined by a thousand year-old train system:

Ya, so what? Arrr bahhhs and clubs close at a decent hour, whats the problem? If you wanted to stay out all night with ya friends and buddies ya should do so the way the good Lawwd intended: with ya 40 onces or 12 pack of Millah gettin shitty in ya friend’s parents’ basement in Mefawwwwd,  savin yar sick for the next day in the bahthroom at I-Hop on route 1. Ya don’t realize how good you even got it; we used ta drink caahhh coolant. We didn’t need no dance club arrr sportz baahh. You know what we did for a sportz bahh? We drank whatever was in our parents’ licka cabinets and shot bee-bees at each other in the back lot, Christ!

That millenial train system, older than Ebola and twice as foul, is like Boston’s built in caller-ID, screening people who aren’t cut out to handle the rest of the town. Just listening to it lumbering down the tracks, screeching like a virgin offered up on the volcano’s edge, stinking of hot funk, barely outpacing the fatted rats running along side its murky tunnels is enough to send those with lesser sack fleeing for Miami or Sante Fe:

Ya, arrr T is frickin OLD, so what? Yar lucky to have somethin to get yar to yer parole hearin, Christ. I mean, in my day we had ricshawwrs. My friends and I used to earn beeah money by pullin the ricshawwrs around from Mauuuldin through Bahhston and ova down ta Glauuuuustah. Yar..in the snow…with no shoes arr feet even. Yar true stowrry, my friend Dominick Santori was born without feet and his family was poor so he usually just wore Schlitz boxes on his stumps. Yar, I mean, compared to those days, the T is like some frickin limo ride arr some’in. Christ.

Boston is ornery, but people continue to come here and build lives and careers and plant roots in its cranky blocks.  I think people (myself included) respect the kind of city that tells it like it is, that isn’t afraid to say “yes, those pants DO make your ass look fat.”  There is something refreshingly honest and liberating about a place so unapologetic: it’s going to take you out, get you drunk, get you laid, leave you in an alley with your clothes on backwards and a new tattoo on your ass, and call you Friday night to see if you want to go out again. It turns us into crazy co-dependents; sure, we might break up with you one day, but that doesn’t mean we won’t heed your booty call:

The Chahhhhles is dirty, yar..so what?! When I was a kid growin up in Bright’in we drank gravel. That’s right. We drank gravel and pissed concrete and were grateful to have a dumpstah to play in, well those families that were ya know, well-off had dumpstahhs, the rest of us had a cahhhd board box that we pinched from some guy’s dumpstah. Those were good times. *Sniff* Frickin good times. Pass me a Millah, would ya? Christ.