Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Random stuff that really rankles.

There are many things that qualify for that umbrella heading, but I have three particularly in mind at the moment. In truth there were just two until I logged onto AOL this morning, where I was confronted by a headline item about singer Faith Hill:

Still Sexy at Age 41
Imagine that! Here we have a woman who has passed the age of FORTY (!!!) and is still worth looking at!

I must tell you, little in American life pisses me off more than the tacit notion that women somehow dry up and become utterly undesirable when they reach a certain age and/or have a kid or two. (Maybe if Sarah Palin can do nothing else for America, she can help put that misbegotten idea to rest.) And in truth, this Faith Hill item is hardly as bad as it gets; not even close. I've seen cover lines in Cosmo and other "youth-oriented" fare that talk about how a girlif she's extra-careful about what she eats and how she exercises and staying out of the sun and the rest of itcan continue to attract men even into her 30s....! This is precisely the kind of neurosis-inducing, advertiser-driven drivel I had in mind when I wrote my SHAM subtitle about the self-help movement making people helpless. Look at the messages we're sending to the readers of such magazines, then tell me that this is really helping anyone except the makers of health and beauty products, dietary supplements, etc.

It's an entire industry that survives on the commodification of self-doubt.


Empty Tank?
Football fans will know that the Dallas Cowboys, after getting off to a fast start (and being prematurely awarded a Super Bowl birth by most sports savants), have lost three of their past four. They're now a very ordinary 4-and-3, the latter number representing as many games as they lost during all of last season. And how does veteran Dallas nose-tackle Tank Johnson diagnose their malaise?

"Our identity is missing," Johnson told reporters. "We need to realize and figure out wh
o we are and what we are going to be and be it and live and die by it."

Actually, Tank, I think one of your problems, certainly this past week (when the 'Boys were embarrassed by the lowly Rams), is that your QB is missing, what with Tony Romo nursing his broken pinkie. What's more, one of your key defensive players, the much-troubled "Pacman" Jones, also is missing, and now in alkie rehab after being suspended indefinitely by the NFL. Oh why oh why, whenever a team suffers a bout of adversity, must we go reaching for these biz
arre, quasi-spiritualistic explanations? We need to realize and figure out who we are and what we are going to be and live and die by it. First I think they need to figure out what that sentence might mean, if anything. And what gets me is, the beat writers just nod and copy this stuff down and report it uncritically, without asking follow-up questions like, "Um, Tank? Could you just clarify one little thing for me? What the hell are you talking about, man?"

Which is why I wish there were more Ozzie Guillens. Ozzie (shown) manages the Chicago White Sox, and is considered something of a flake in baseball circles for many reasons, one being his refusal to follow the pat script in such matters as "team chemistry." See, Guillen doesn't
believe that there's any such thing; he believes that you win ballgames by putting the best talent on the field, day after day. I agree, which is why I once wrote in an essay, "Give me nine sociopathic misfits, all of whom refuse to hit behind the runner, high-five (or even talk to) their teammatesbut all of whom also hit .320 with 40 home runsand I'll bring you home a championship trophy every year." And I would, too. I invite some visionary baseball GM to give me a shot. I'd settle for a fraction of what the Dodgers are paying Torre.

Sick Bay?
Bay Buchanan is fast becoming my Worst Person in the World, to borrow the name of a popular feature on Keith Olbermann's show. The difference between the way Olbermann uses the term and the way I use it here is that Olbermann* generally showcases a different person each night, whereas I'm thinking of nominating Buchanan for permanent worst-person status. Last night on one of the talk shows she was sharing her thoughts on what McCain needs to do to salvage this election. And she said he needs to just keep bringing up whatever he can
Ayers, Rev. Wright, etc.to sully Obama's image and "plant doubt" in voters' minds. But what about the truth? she was asked. Doesn't it matter if there's any real substance to these doubts McCain is frantically planting? Buchanan dismissed the question with a polite smile (no doubt deeming it naive). The important thing is to win, she replied. This is hardball; you do what you have to do to make the other guy look bad so you can win the election.

Notice, there's no mention of what's ethically right (what a laughable thought!) or what's good for America as a whole. Just win, baby, win!

* None of this, btw, changes my feelings on Olbermann's inappropriate handling of hard-news topics, or MSNBC's decision to yank him from its Convention coverage.

15 comments:

Elizabeth said...

little in American life pisses me off more than the tacit notion that women somehow dry up and become utterly undesirable when they reach a certain age and/or have a kid or two

Wait, Steve... You mean, we don't...?

But Freud said a woman after 30 is a useless wreck! And Freud knew things.

No, seriously, apart from all that, an airbrushed magazine photo cover can make an armadillo look sexy. This stuff should not be taken seriously, either way. The beauty magazines editors, like political pundits, seem to live in the world of their own making, light years away from reality.

(Then again, a quick visual survey of average 40+ American women is not encouraging. Just sayin'. Please do not write letters of protest.)

And, yes, the 40+ Palin is so darn adorable! And sexy. And charming. A pleasure to look at, when you turn the sound off to mute that screechy-preachy PTA mom's voice and the venom it articulates.

Never have I seen anyone so cute spewing such stupidity and vileness with such utmost smugness. It's an utterly confusing (and jaw-dropping) spectacle, to me.

Yours truly,
A woman of a certain age.

Elizabeth said...

On the same day Faith Hill photo (in a bikini! at 41!!) is making news, this item has surfaced too:

Middle-aged women drive rise in U.S. suicides

http://tinyurl.com/6y9sp8

Anonymous said...

This is why I read Esquire and GQ instead of Vogue and Cosmo. The writing is better and there are no horoscopes.

RevRon's Rants said...

"...women somehow dry up and become utterly undesirable when they reach a certain age..."

Perhaps to folks like John Derek, who traded in some of the most beautiful women in the world when they grew mature enough to surpass him emotionally and secure enough not to buy his Machiavellian control. I find myself drawn to women who have long since traded in their baby fat and can hold their own in the face of my arrogance. Now *that* is sexy!!

"an airbrushed magazine photo cover can make an armadillo look sexy."

now Eliz... you're implying that the official state mammal of Texas is ugly? Careful! (BTW - They're pretty good eating, too!)

If attitude does have an effect athletes' performance, I would think that apathy borne of some twisted sense of entitlement hurts them more than anything else. I just laugh at the sports "experts" when they try to assign some cosmic significance to a game.

Bay, Coulter, Hannity, Rush... I wouldn't elevate any of them to any list of exceptional individuals - not even exceptionally *bad* individuals. They are parasites, pure and simple, grabbing a few crumbs of fame from those who actually do something.

roger o'keefe said...

You're a fan of devil's advocacy, Steve, so I'll try some here. First of all, what's wrong with admiring youth? I'm not saying there isn't such a thing as an attractive older gal, and I think my wife is well aware that if I had a chance to spend some quality time with Helen Mirren I don't think I could pass that up. On the other hand how many women that age look like Helen Mirren? Let's face it, younger women are simply better looking. They have better bodies, their faces are flawless and unmarked, nothing sags. They wear their hair longer and it looks luxuriant and feminine. Am I wrong about any of that? I don't see how anyone can argue the point. By the way, though we seem to "allow" our male actors and other celebrities to keep their appeal longer, there aren't that many Sean Connerys either, are there?

Incidentally I think it's interesting that you're using a very old photo of Faith Hill from when she was in her 20s, unless I'm mistaken.

Steve Salerno said...

I think I sense some fur about to fly.

RevRon's Rants said...

"Let's face it, younger women are simply better looking. They have better bodies, their faces are flawless and unmarked, nothing sags. They wear their hair longer and it looks luxuriant and feminine. Am I wrong about any of that?"

It's pretty hard to be "wrong" about something as subjective as individual taste, Roger (Notwithstanding the never-ending torrent of verbal abuse I caught from one commenter when I stated that I didn't find rap "music" aesthetically pleasing). Just don't expect your own personal preferences to be universal... it's the first step down the slippery slope of abject narcissism.

Much of why we *appear* to prefer the post-adolescent look is a result of PR flacks who *tell* us what is attractive. Not to say that some don't like 'em young without that influence, but an awful lot of what we expect is what we're conditioned to expect.

That said, I would be lying if I said that I would be offended, should a naked Liv Tyler appear on my doorstep, cheeks all flush with passion and fire in her eyes. However, I'd have the same reaction to Linda Evans or Jaclyn Smith. To my "credit," I'd want Connie to be a part of any festivities that occurred (standard-issue male fantasy disclaimer). And in the "real e-world," I've found some of the more "mature" contributors here more enchanting than some of the younger ones (though no names will be mentioned, so as not to alert the stalkees). :-)

Steve Salerno said...

So let me get this straight, Rev: Ideally, it's Liv Tyler, Jaclyn Smith, Linda Evans and Connie? There must be something really special in those bran muffins...

RevRon's Rants said...

Wow! I hadn't gotten around to fantasizing about *all* of them!!

And for the record, I don't bake bran muffins (but I *do* cook up a pretty mean batch of brownies!!). And that's all I'm gonna say. :-)

Anonymous said...

Tell you what: I'm 44 (female) and I have never turned as many male heads at 20 as I do now. Who knew?

Anonymous said...

"Tell you what: I'm 44 (female) and I have never turned as many male heads at 20 as I do now. Who knew?"

Yeah, I get more attention at 38 than I ever did at 22, especially from the 22 year old males.

Anonymous said...

'By the way, though we seem to "allow" our male actors and other celebrities to keep their appeal longer, there aren't that many Sean Connerys either, are there?'

Sadly, Roger, even Sean Connery in the flesh isn't the Sean Connery we lust and slaver over in pics and on the screen. In real life he's just another golf-mad grumpy old man.

The endless power of dreams with which to delude ourselves.

But then sometimes, like chocolate, nothing but a glorious grand delusion will quite hit the spot.

Elizabeth said...

Off topic, somewhat, though still about foxy women, sort of.

Palin just gave an "interview" to a CNN "journalist," which is mind-boggling (both the "interview" and the "journalist"). It's surreal, what can I say. A collage of cliches -- and that's when she manages to be coherent. She contradicts herself and/or lies through her teeth and it's not apparent whether she knows that she's lying or she believes her own crap (sorry).

This woman is a disgrace. And it's mightily disturbing what her candidacy says about the state of this country: that someone like Palin would be even considered for the VP post... There is just no appropriate word to describe it (or I exhausted them).

Here is the transcript of this "interview:"
http://tinyurl.com/58zq3h

RevRon's Rants said...

Elizabeth - While there may be no single word to describe the absurd thought processes that actually consider Palin a viable president-in-waiting, there is a particularly southern acronym which I find appropriate: FITH. The last 3 letters stand for In The Head... I'll leave the first to your fertile imagination. :-)

Elizabeth said...

My fertile imagination has filled in the blanks, Rev. The first word is fantastic, of course. ;)

P.S. You're right, armadillos are adorable. My apologies to armadillos and their fans.