Rants & Ramblings

random commentary about culture, media, politics, technology and whatnot.

feb
12
2004

splitsville

After some 43 years together, Mattel announced today that Ken and Barbie have “decided to spend some time apart.” (CNN: “It’s Splitsville for Barbie and Ken” - 02/12/04) The former couple will “always remain the best of friends.” Barbie’s headed …

jan
24
2004

in passing

Yesterday marked another sad passing of a trademark children’s television icon. Bob Keeshan, perhaps better known as “Captain Kangaroo,” died yesterday at the age of 76 after a long illness. The television program ran for 30 years, from 1955 to …

jan
22
2004

what's with the burberry?

It’s everywhere. I see it on the subway. On the sidewalks. In speeding cars. In crowded lunch spots. At least a third of the people I see every day, it seems, is wearing that trademark Burberry plaid. If it’s not …

dec
25
2003

just say no to fruitcake

This is a couple days old, but I’m posting it anyway because it amuses me. A recent Associated Press story advised air travelers to not pack, among other things, fruitcake. (“Fliers get new guides for checked baggage” - 12/20/03) Books …

dec
23
2003

cost of christmas

The price of Christmas can change a lot from year to year. For the past 19 years, PNC Bank has offered a special price index charting the changing cost of the Twelve Days of Christmas. “My True Love” would have …

dec
22
2003

t'isn't the season

My sister Ashley made a quick trip into Paper Warehouse for small Christmas gift bags … and came out empty-handed. The store had moved all of its Christmas merchandise to one area of the store … to make room for …

dec
18
2003

mistranslation

A Salon.com profile of “Far Side” cartoonist Gary Larson includes a curious anecdote about a “translation” of the comic. (“Brilliant Careers: Gary Larson” - 12/21/99) “The Far Side” was eventually picked up by 1,900 newspapers and translated into 17 languages. …

dec
16
2003

virtual tension

Salon has an intriguing story about how an online newspaper/blog about the community of the game The Sims Online is stirring up trouble with the game’s corporate owners. (“Raking muck in ‘The Sims Online’” - 12/12/02) They say the situation …

dec
07
2003

ap chinese

When I was in high school, I took a number of Advanced Placement classes. Do well enough in the class, and then well enough on the standardized test at the end of the semester, and you can earn college credit. …

fashion slave

I know that I have a tendency to buy shoes that cause me pain. (You — the brown high-heeled boots in the closet? I’m looking at you.) I think there’s just something inherently masochistic about women’s fashion. If you’re not …

dec
03
2003

broken confidence

A few weeks ago, I saw a Washington Post story that described some of Jacqueline Kennedy’s personal pathos following JFK’s assassination, as revealed in the diaries, saved letters and personal recollections of her former priest and published in a recent …

politics and religion

Further evidence, I guess, of our increasingly “red and blue” polarized country: A poll conducted by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press found, among other things, that church attendance can be a strong indicator of party …

nov
24
2003

pre-bolshevik russia … in vivid color

Back in 2001, the Library of Congress hosted “The Empire that Was Russia: The Prokudin-Gorskii Photographic Record Recreated,” an exhibit featuring pre-Bolshevik Russian photographs that have been reproduced in full color. (The LoC site has a section about the now-closed …

down with bollywood?

Apparently not everyone in India is a fan of the country’s “Bollywood” film industry. The UK newspaper The Guardian reports that separatist groups in five northeast Indian states (near or bordering Burma) have condemned Bollywood for corrupting young minds with …

nov
18
2003

busted

Last week’s The Onion struck on what might be some bloggers’ worst nightmare: Mom finds your perhaps too-confessional weblog. (“Mom Finds Out About Blog” - 11/12/03) (Personally, I’m not overly worried about it … mainly because my mom already knows …

nov
16
2003

fairy tale fallacy

I’ve been watching a rash of chick flicks lately. (Ewww … That sounds nasty.) You know the kind — Girl and Boy Meet Cute (TM Ebert), but some contrivance keeps them apart until the very end of the film, when, …

nov
11
2003

shaping perception

Which carton of ice cream looks bigger — the tub or the brick? Both containers hold the same amount of the sugary dessert, but the dimensions of the tub trick the eye and the mind into believing that it holds …

nov
03
2003

catholic (tm)

Does the Vatican own the word “Catholic”? Slate had an interesting story last Friday about the varied usage of the word “catholic” with regard to religion. (“‘Property of Rome’?” - 10/31/03) The article was prompted by the recent case of …

oct
26
2003

moon watch

The Washington Post last week had an article about the curious case of the watch Buzz Aldrin wore on the moon back in 1969. (“Moon Watch Resurfaces In Court” - 10/17/03) The Omega Speedmaster Professional Chronograph was lost 30 years …

moving on

Newsweek has a poignant essay this week about starting over, written by a 93-year-old man whose wife of 67 years recently died of leukemia. (“My Turn: How Do I Move On Without My Soulmate?” - 10/27/03) She is with me …

oct
23
2003

body-conscious boys

Much has been made of the issue of female body image, but I think that only within the last few years has any serious attention been paid to male body image issues. Yesterday’s Washington Post included an interesting article on …

sep
29
2003

comfort food

Researchers have found a physiological reason why humans crave “comfort foods” in times of high stress, the Washington Post reports. (“Grasping Why We Reach for a Taste of Calm” - 09/29/03) Although researchers have had clues that there might be …

sep
24
2003

catholic consternation

This story in today’s Washington Post infuriated me. (“Vatican May Limit Girls’ Role in Mass” - 09/24/03) Under new rules being drafted by the Vatican to crack down on “abuses” in the Roman Catholic Mass, altar boys will be given …

sep
21
2003

retail therapy

There’s nothing like a disaster (or the threat thereof) to get people out and shopping. During the first orange alert, it was all about the duct tape. (I didn’t join in on that particular madness.) I did participate in the …