I happened to catch Damien Cave’s article Shock Jocks Booted in Moral Panic in a recent issue of Rolling Stone that discusses Clear Channel Communications’ recent move to dump Howard Stern from its stations and fire Todd “Bubba the Love Sponge” Clem. The article more or less finishes up with the following turn of phrase:
…even DJs at independent stations report that it’s now common to spend hours discussing the legality of penis vs. dick, breast vs. boob or funbag
… [says Fred Toucher, the mornining DJ at 99X in Atlanta:] “There’s nothing like seeing a dude in a suit talk in deadpan whether you can say that your balls are the size of canteloupes.”
I have a question. Why are we even discussing these issues at all? Of all the things one can hear on the radio, why do we get to hear Todd “Bubba the Love Sponge” Clem vocally simulate sex? Why are we listening to some radio personality talk about breasts, boobs, or funbags with such frequency? This is cheap speech. It is titillating speech. It is the kind of stuff put on the air by people who have nothing else in mind when it comes to radio than making biggest, quickest dollar that they can. Of all the things I could hear on the radio, this is probably the last thing I would want to hear.
It is not as if I am against the First Amendment on this. I don’t want this to become a witch hunt. Yet, I find myself wishing that shock radio had something politically or culturally valid to say. I wish that there was something it had to offer other than titillating sexual details and jokes about bodily functions.
Fifty years ago, radio personality Alan Freed was controversial because he played rhythm and blues (some called it “race music” or “jungle music”) on the air, and hosted live events where black and white kids could mingle and dance together to the music of predominantly black artists. That, to me, seems like something worth fighting for. The ability to listen to women plead with Howard Stern to pay for their breast implants seems an altogether more dubious proposition.
I recently read the following quote in another diary recently: “Am meeting a friend… for dinner…so had best go dry my hair and put on something disgraceful. He did say ‘wear something slinky’. Not sure the poor man is quite ready for what that could entail…” Aside from the casual nonchalance of the phrase “something disgraceful”, this passage has been rattling around in my head for the last few days because I cannot help but contrast how I would react to being the “poor man” now versus say, 10 years ago.
I think it ultimately boils down to a recognition of the source of my satisfaction in interacting with the opposite sex. Ten years ago, I largely saw myself as the guy who was always the “friend” to beautiful women, not the “date”. This lead to a precarious sense of transparency when I thought of myself in reference to women, and a strong, unfulfilled need to be seen by women in all my facets, including the sexual ones. This phrase would have implied the allure of possibility of sex… and thereby validating a part of my identity that otherwise seemed lacking. It would generate a sense of thrill and tension that would definitely be exciting.
Today, it means something completely different. Being part of a steady, committed relationship, it seems almost superfluous. Yes, getting dressed up for someone is fun, but, it seems superficial compared with the profound connection that occurs when you really care for someone. It is the way relate and react to each other that seems more tangible and important. It is the way you give yourself to someone else in a thousand small ways each day that is the interesting part. I can’t say that it wouldn’t be fun… because it would… but I look at my interaction with women with different eyes.
On another level, I think the difference in my reaction had to do with knowing what I like when it comes to people and relationships. When I was in my early 20’s, a beautiful woman who dressed in a provocative manner represented the unknown, the unattainable, and perhaps (depending on how she was dressed) the slightly kinky. Being inexperienced as I was in the ways of the world, I did not yet know that appearances can often be decieving and unreliable. I also did not yet know what my sexual tastes truly were, and variety in appearance, I felt, corresponded to variety in bed. Knowing more now about who I am and what I like simply means that it is chemistry that is important, not just appearance.
It was an interesting weekend for Fiancee S. and me. We travelled a few hours by car to visit Msgr. J., Stephanie’s cousin and the man who will be marrying us. It was a beautiful weekend to drive from point A to point B. We also got a bit of wedding business taken care of: we went to see a vintage Rolls Royce that will carry me to the Church for our wedding, and convey Mrs. Geek and myself to the reception after we are married.
Aside from a pleasant Sunday morning spent with Msgr. J., the bulk of our trip was spent in various factory outlet malls along the way. We got some excellent bargains. The food geek in me was glad to find a nice, brand name 8qt stainless steel stock pot for only $25. The killer deal of the trip was a new London Fog top/rain coat for only $60 that I got at a “going out of business sale”. The deal was so good that I got two: one for me, and one for my Dad for Father’s Day. Otherwise, I believe I am now sufficiently armed with warm weather clothing for our honeymoon in Hawaii.
Of course, the trip did tend to underline the basic differences between men’s and women’s fashions in the modern marketplace. Fiancee S. both go into the Gap Outlet. For around $110, I come out with four polo shirts and three pairs of khaki shorts. She comes out with one outfit: a skirt, top, and matching cardigan (which she will be using for the wedding rehearsal.) Also looking at relative amounts of floorspace devoted to men’s and women’s fashions, women’s fashions got about 60% of the space, with the remaining 40% split about evenly between men’s and toddler’s clothing. I got a better deal on price, but suffered from abysmally limited selection when it comes to clothing style. There’s some sort of very basic inequity here… but I’m not sure why it exists.
I was in the herbal/vitamin section of my local drug store the other day when I spotted an herbal with a distinctly unfamiliar name: horny goat weed.
Inevitably, the following idea for advertising horny goat weed sprung to mind:
[Scene: neutral colored background, very old looking man standing foreground wearing white shirt, bowtie, and suspenders, caption at bottom of screen reads “Eustace P. Taylor, aged 103”]
When I was was a young whippersnapper, me and all my friends used to consume “Dr. Stanhope’s Horny Goat Weed Elixir” before going out with the ladies. It lead to some high times in the back seats of the Model T Ford, let me tell you. Then Dr. Stanhope was put in jail for violating the Mann Act in 1931 and was never heard from again. I sure missed that Horny Goat Weed, especially when I met my first wife Hazel, let me tell you.
Now Renfield Pharmaceuticals has introduced a new pill called Luvemol (loo-vem-all) that has all the Horny Goat Weed extract I’ve been missing all these years. I took one the other day, and my second wife Ethel (age 85) and I haven’t had that much fun since the Johnson Administration!
Announcer: Luvemol — the new dietary supplement that has the Horny Goat Weed for all the horny goats like you…
I happened on an article being hosted by Wired News today entitled Outsourcing Report Blames Schools. Here are a few choice quotes:
“Companies aren’t outsourcing only in order to obtain cheap labor; they are also looking for skilled technology workers that they increasingly can’t find in the U.S.,” said Matthew Kazmierczak, senior manager of research at AeA, and one of the authors of the report.
Noting that roughly 50 percent of all engineering, math and science degrees awarded by U.S. universities now go to foreign nationals, AeA researchers also called on the federal government to give green cards to all foreign nationals upon their graduation with master’s and Ph.D. degrees, in an effort to keep these people — and their skills — in the United States.
This tends to underline my theory that the current move to “offshore” high tech jobs is because we’re suffering from a reverse “brain drain”. We’ve trained up enough people from other places in science and technology that they now feel they can comfortably return to wherever they came from and participate in sizable technical communities there.Perhaps the only advantages that remain with the United States are very stable political and physical infrastructures, and, a relatively fluid social structure that allows you to get a better life even when you aren’t from the right family, ethnic group, or part of the country (though these factors still are influential.)
*sigh* The United States seems determined to become a nation of lawyers and MBA’s that will LOVE to give you a cost/benefit analysis associated with crossing a street and be willing to sue someone if a car comes within two feet of a pedestrian attempting to cross. No one is willing to go to school to learn how to build new things, however. We all love playing computer games, but, we don’t want to learn how to create them. That would involve learning about things like MATH and SCIENCE which we all know are just way too hard and uncool for most people to be interested in.
Wow. Bitter, much? About this, yeah, a little.
Meeyapeede had a fascinating little monograph concerning feminist ideals and the exploitation of physical beauty in her diary yesterday. It has me thinking about Anna Nicole Smith… especially since she’s back in the media spotlight because she lost 69 pounds. She raises some issues about physical beauty that don’t resonate well with some of my closer beliefs.
Anna Nicole Smith is an embodiment of the exploitation of physical beauty. Although she may be a nice person and loved by those who know her best, the only reason that America even knows she exists is because of her physical attributes. She has exploited this to its fullest possible extent, first by getting breast implants to get better stripping jobs, then by marrying a rich man in ill health who was old enough to be her grandfather, and then by agreeing to be the star of a reality TV show. People first enjoyed watching her rise in the pages of Playboy, then her fall on Court TV after the death of her husband, her life at the bottom on her TV show, and now her rebirth… since she’s lost 69 lbs.
I can recall a TV critic writing an early review of Anna’s show saying that he didn’t find Anna to be a likeable TV personality. He missed the point; people don’t watch her because she’s likeable, they watch because she’s a train wreck. They started watching because she was a very attractive woman once, and wanted to see what had happened to her. Now they watch because she’s making some effort to transform herself.
I’ve seen a few bits of her show recently and I find the effects of her weight loss on me unsettling. Losing a large amount of weight is one thing, but, I find myself looking at her consciously or unconsciously in a different light. I find myself wanting to think that this change has been brought about because of some new inner transformation. Yet when she moves, she talks, and she decides, she seems to be the same old Anna Nicole Smith. That should erase any admiration I have for her rediscovered zaftig beauty… because ultimately, all that probably happened was that she was talked into losing the weight for money. Yet it doesn’t, at least not completely.
That bugs me. It makes me wonder whether or not I need better eyes when looking for virtue in the world. Perhaps I just need to develop a better sense of Buddhist detachment to see beauty and ugliness as the illusions that they are. I definitely need to try harder to avoid watching any of her show.
Fiancee S. got some great news this morning.
As I mentioned a while ago, Fiancee S. was going to be laid off from her current position as a 5th grade teacher because her school is reducing the number of classes per grade, and, she has very little seniority. The layoff was not unexpected given the way events had transpired during the last year, but, was still unwelcome. It represented another big change in twelve month period full of major changes (moving in together, getting married, and now, changing jobs.) It also lent a degree of uncertainty to the start of our married life because we weren’t sure how receptive the job market would be.
Well, the job market proved very receptive. Fiancee S. went to a job fair about 10 days ago. Within the following seven days, she had two job interviews with schools and one interview lined up for early April. This morning she got a job offer to become the Computer Teacher/Technology Coordinator at a school not too far to the south of us. She will most likely accept.
We’re both thrilled with the prospect for a number of reasons. First off, she knows where she will be working after we get back from our honeymoon and we will be able to enjoy that to its fullest. Next, her graduate degree is a Master’s in Education with an emphasis in Educational Technology; she will finally be able to use this training to its fullest extent. Finally, this position represents the chance to acquire additional practical skills (technology planning, system administration) that will only make her more interesting to other employers down the road.
Contratulations Fiancee S.!!!!!