Saturday, June 28, 2008

Marie Claire Vs. Details: A Magazine Battle of the Sexes

I've written before about how I much I love men's magazines, and am generally horribly disappointed in women's magazines. Men's magazines are amusing, women's magazines are not. Simple as that. So I was thinking, what if I did a head to head comparison? What if indeed. I grabbed a Marie Claire in the line at Wal-Mart, and while I love Esquire best, I thought Details (which I also have a subscription to) would be the most even comparison. Okay, here it goes:

Category #1: Cover Celeb

Marie Claire: On the cover? Sex and the City (specifically, Sarah Jessica Parker on a magazine cover for the millionteenth time this month). While, as a fashion writer, SATC style holds some kind of minor fleeting fascination, all in all I'm not a fan. Actually, as summer movies go, I prefer Iron Man. There, I said it.

Details: Another summer movie cover, this time Batman Unmasked's Christian Bale. Let's face it, Bale is soooo cool. And wouldn't I rather look at him on my coffee table than SJP? Uh, duh.

MC -- 0, Details -- 1

Category #2: Work/Career

Marie Claire: "How to Survive a Layoff and Spot One Coming." Okay, not bad -- but one of the red flags, it seems, is if "you're only capable of performing one function." Well, shit, if you can only perform one function, your ass should have been gone a long time ago. I'm just sayin'.

Details: "Have You Already Peaked at Work?" This piece assumes that you have already "rocketed up the corporate ladder" so if you haven't, perhaps not be so useful (but on the upside, means you might -- and I said might -- not have peaked yet. Woo hoo!). Also, the advice? Not too deep -- "keep an eye on that intern delivering your mail." Yeah, okay, thanks.

MC -- .5, Details -- .5

Category #3: Sex

Marie Claire: "Bedroom Ethics -- Hooking Up With a Friend's Ex". Okay, now we're talking. But this piece is a first-person narrative about some chick who hooks up with a friend's ex who she has dubbed The Poet. I couldn't even read the rest -- something about he's a jerk, she's my BFF now, best break-up ever, blah blah blah. Next . . .

Details: "Meet the Guys Who Are Trying to Nail Your Wife." Now this is something useful (not for me particularly, but I'm trying to be objective here). It even tells you the types you should look for, signs, how to handle it. A full-on guide which, as a girl, I would have to say might be right on the money. Now that's thorough reporting.

MC -- 0, Details -- 1.5 (for thoroughness)

Category #4: Whining

Marie Claire: "How Losing Weight Lost Me Friends." Didn't read it. Don't care.

Details: "Stop Complaining. No One Cares How You Feel." Also didn't read it, but don't have to. The title says it all. Nice.

MC -- uh, 0, Details -- 1

Category #5: Fashion/Style
Marie Claire: "Dress For The Job You Want." I'm ready, bring on the good advice. Er, except that the article only gives you four jobs to choose from -- High End Real Estate (which is, of course, a perfectly valid employment opportunity for the masses due to that dreaded high end real estate agent shortage); The Art World (possibly the most vague job/industry description I have ever heard); Finance (okay, it's gonna take me a lot more than a pretty suit to crack into this one); and, finally, Modeling (representing the career aspirations of oh, say, a whooping .000000001% of Marie Claire's readership).

Details: "The New Casual Friday: How to Dress Down in Style." Piece by piece (with pictures!) of what to wear to work -- polos, knit ties, cardigans, print t-shirts, suede lace-ups. The ribbon belts (which look like they're actually made out of, well, ribbons) were slightly questionable for me, but whatever . . .

MC -- 0.5 (well, the article looked pretty nice), Details -- 1

Category #6: Quotable Quote

Marie Claire: From a piece entitled "What I Love About Me" -- "I'm lucky that my hair isn't affected by humidity. Being frizz free in Atlanta makes my life easier because it's so muggy." You know, statements like that give women a bad name. And make me never want to read another women's magazine ever ever ever again.

Details: From a short piece directing us to -- "Hi sweetie, Do you know how to google yourself? I heard on the radio that people can google themselves. I've done a lot of things to myself before, but I've never googled myself." Hehehe. Okay, so I have the sense of humor of a 13-year-old boy. Sue me.

MC -- 0, Details -- 2, just because it made me laugh

Total scores (using my completely arbitrary scoring system):

MC -- 1
Details -- 7

Okay, that was too easy. And I could go on, but I won't. Because this is an hour of my life I will never get back. Crap.

Children Can't Fly

I've lived in this house for a year, and just the other day noticed this warning label on the window in the basement laundry room:

!!! Caution !!!
Children Can't Fly!

Screens are not designed to restrain children from falling through an open window. Please take proper precautions.

Good to know. The funny thing is that this is on a basement window -- meaning it's at ground level. Literally.

Should writers of safety warnings attempt a sense of humor? I'm on the fence here . . . but if anyone knows of a job opening, I'm pretty sure I could pull this gig off . . .

The Ballad of a Writer Who is Not Writing

(Er, if you're not really interested in reading about my not writing, you could read this riveting post instead. Just a thought. Proceed.)

I am resisting writing lately. What's up with that?

Let me just say I make it a practice to never write about writing. Well, I've probably done it once or twice but don't want to make that mistake again. It's freakin' boring. But what about writing about not writing? Ummm, I'm guessing that's even more boring. But here I am.

I enjoy a list, however, so I will put my ruminations into list form, just for fun. Whoopee.

1. I have writer's block. Except there's no such thing as writer's block. Either you choose to write or you don't. Something will come out if you sit down to write. It always does. Like this for example, though it's not so impressive thus far. Moving on . . .

2. I am rebelling against myself. Or something.

3. I am harboring writer envy. In a half-assed attempt to "inspire" myself I am reading various print materials (short story compilations, quick read crime fiction, the writings of the Dalai Lama -- I am nothing if not eclectic), as well as a various random blogs. Instead of inspiration however, I am feeling small. Very small. And since I'm spending so much time reading, who has time to write? That would be Excuse #324. I'm keeping a list of those as well. Also very time-consuming.

4. I am writing this in order to force myself to write. It's not going very well so far. I'm sorry you've been caught in the middle here. You should scroll around and read something else, quickly. That's what I would do.

5. What do you call a writer who doesn't write? In my case, a substitute teacher . . .

Oh, that image has nothing to do with this post -- I did a search for images on "not writing" and that was on the first page. Being too lazy to look further, I used it. I got it from a blog called "Letters from Kamp Krusty", by the way. He, in fact, does seem to be writing.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

I Feel Dis-Orientated

Quick -- oriented or orientated?

I'm sort of a stickler about the English language (imagining, of course, that I have a reasonable handle on the beast). Lately, I've been hearing the word "orientated" being bandied about more and more frequently -- in conversation, on television, etc. And it's been buggin' me.

I've also been walking around all smug in the knowledge that what folks actually mean to say is "oriented." Today, with the sole intention of proving myself correct (allowing me to be even more smug in my own head -- working alone at home tends to have this effect on you, trust me) I did a quick search online -- only to discover that "orientated" is actually the common British usage. Damn. And I can't even pull out that lame argument that "we're in America here" because I always spell "theater" as "theatre." Because it's cooler. Isn't it?

I was led, however, to a site after my own heart, Mother Tongue Annoyances, which I enjoyed . . .

Friday, June 13, 2008

New York Times Quote That I Enjoyed Today

This New York Times article on how the Japanese government is mandating weight loss among citizens would be interesting enough, but the following quote (from a Tokai University School of Medicine professor) took it to the next level for me:

“I don’t think the campaign will have any positive effect. Now if you did this in the United States, there would be benefits, since there are many Americans who weigh more than 100 kilograms,” or about 220 pounds, Mr. Ogushi said. “But the Japanese are so slender that they can’t afford to lose weight.”

Damn! We Americans just can't get a break. Quit dissin' us Ogushi! This wasn't our idea . . . we're still stuffing our faces with donuts around the coffee maker at work . . . mmmmm, donuts.

By the by, apparently the preferred Japanese term for being overweight is "metabo," which sounds more like a cuddly little cartoon animal to me. I'm just sayin'.

Thursday, June 12, 2008


I got nothin' today, but here I am with this blank "create new post" window in front of me, and since you've shown up, a bit of randomness for you:

1. Foo Fighters, Everlong, acoustic version. I have been watching this video over and over again (when I should be working, natch) and it never gets old. Dave Grohl is kinda brilliant. Will be seeing the Foos this summer in St. Louis. CANNOT wait.

2. Best break-up/relationship transition (depending on what side you're on, of course) song ever: Red Hot Chili Peppers, Million Miles of Water. This is the b-side to "Dani California" and is the far superior song if you ask me. The bassline alone, particularly during the chorus, is worth repeated listenings.

3. And finally, some important rules to keep in mind this month: June 2008 (Rule No. 794 seems particularly vital, though I'm not sure why).

Now, it's a beautiful day and you should really be outside, shouldn't you? I, for one, am heading to the pool as we speak . . .

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Esquire Magazine Quote I Enjoyed Today

I love Esquire. Yup, not a guy. But I prefer it by a mile to the female-targeted counterparts like Glamour, Cosmo, etc. Because Glamour and Cosmo don't make me laugh, ever. Esquire does. A lot.

My favorite quote thus far from this month's Esquire, from the always enjoyable "What I've Learned" section:

"A lot of people like to fool you and say that you're not smart if you never went to college, but common sense rules over everything. That's what I learned from selling crack."

-- Snoop Dogg, Rapper, 36, Los Angeles

He had me up to that last part. But, he's actually right . . .

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Questions That You Must Answer Before You Leave This Page

Blogging is a lonely business. After a comment-free post or two, it leaves me dangerously susceptible to posting some exceedingly dull and self-indulgent navel-gazing (it's a pretty nice navel, but still). Soooo, I am reduced to begging. Please please please leave a comment (Colin J and Wisconsin Mommy, you are already on board, so thanks for that).

But seriously -- I envision blogging as an interactive experience, and while I would never discourage a reader (and you are out there -- I know this because I am obsessive about my Google Analytics stats -- it's a sickness) I would enjoy this far more if I were to hear from you. Er, you may argue that reading this is supposed to be about your (potential) enjoyment, not mine, but that may be selfish of you. I'm just sayin'.

Okay, now I'm alienating people. Redirecting . . .

New tactic: I will try to make it more interactive by giving you reason to respond. And how do you get people to respond? Just like that, actually. Asking questions. Who can resist? See, there I go again . . . Alright, getting on with it, sorry.

Today's Questions That You Must Answer Before You Leave This Page (or TQTYMABYLTP -- catchy!):

1. What was the first thing you thought of when you woke up this morning?

2. If aliens invade, what's your plan?

3. If you go off the deep end, where do you end up?

Ohhhh, I feel as thought I'm setting myself up for failure here. Don't let me down people.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Time Does Go By . . .

Well, so much for blogging from Florida -- down to my last few hours on vacation, and found that once I was here, I had very little interest in my computer. Go figure.

In brief, stuff I learned:

~ There are few things more wonderful than kneeling in the bathwater-warm waters of the Gulf while tiny fish circle you and you are thinking of absolutely nothing. Fantastic.

~ Blue Moons enjoyed on a restaurant deck with old friends on a steamy Florida afternoon are especially delicious.

~ Also delicious: Robert Downey Jr. on the screen for two-plus hours in Iron Man. Okay, didn't need to go on vacation to figure that out, but it's true. Mmmmmm.
~ While tanning is widely discouraged in the medical community, I just look really good with one. Sorry.

Oh, that picture up there was the view from my beach towel. Palm trees make me strangely happy.
Okay, back to real life . . .

Thursday, June 5, 2008

The Number 33

Okay, I'm certain this is coincidence. Well, relatively certain. Though I am someone who has a tendency to want to attach meaning to things where there may be none. I am working on that.

Anyway, lately I seem to be hyper-aware of the number 33. This has been happening for the last few months, increasingly so, though some would argue that I am now looking for it. And this may well be true. I am a reasonable person, so I can concede that point. Done.

However, it still strikes me -- especially since it's been happening only since I've been attempting to navigate some serious personal issues. And while I find it exceedingly weird to talk about favorite numbers (because, really, what's the point?) I must admit that I've always had an affinity for the number 3. Something about the balanced nature of it, I suppose.
Did a quick Google search on 33 and found this: the chemical element Arsenic has the atomic number 33 (that's encouraging); there are 33 vertebrae in the human body (Is this about my posture? Because it could use some improvement); the number 33 has long appeared on the Rolling Rock label (Should I drink more beer? I'm on it!); and it's purported to be the number most revered by Masonists (oh crap). Umm, that didn't help.

Yes, I have seen that Jim Carrey movie about the number 23, and no, I don't believe it's a conspiracy. Yes, as you may know, I also watch Lost, a show in which recurring numbers hold a great deal of meaning (What do they mean though? Don't know yet.). So perhaps I am unduly influenced by the pop culture experiences I surround myself with. Noted.

But even if it's in my head (it is) I can't discount the fact that it keeps cropping up, even if it's just a mechanism of my own subconscious. Okay, hold up -- this is going horribly horribly wrong. I am now wondering about messages I am sending to myself in numerical code. Good lord.

I am curious however, if anyone has had a similar experience. Or has anything to say about the number 33. Or would like to direct me to the nearest mental health facility. There, you have 3 choices -- how's that for symmetry? Nice.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008


Just a quick one today, then I'm off to the beach . . .

I seem to have lost my fear of flying. Which was a delightful and unexpected surprise to me. Perhaps this fearlessness I'm attempting to cultivate in other areas of my life is actually taking hold. Nice! At any rate, during those first few moments of hurtling down the runway, when I'm usually gripping the armrest and attempting to discover faith, I actually was enjoying myself . . .

I did note, however, just as we were about to leave the ground, a very large sign along the runway that said "Think Safety." Hmmmm. Now, I'm not sure if this was meant for the pilots, the ground crew, or me. But yes, please "think safety." Excellent advice in this particular setting. Hopefully no one actually needs reminding about that, but there it is.

Also, prior to takeoff, I was perusing the safety card for a little pre-flight entertainment, and was reminded of Fight Club (naturally) where Tyler is telling Ed Norton's character about how the smiling people in the illustrations are meant to lull passengers into a false sense of security. I was thinking about this as I noticed my cards had photos of actual people performing the emergency procedures. They were not smiling. The didn't even look very sure of themselves. I did not feel reassured. I want my smiling people, damn it.

Not that it mattered, now that I am no longer afraid. Flying is great. Or could it be that the airlines have found some less obvious way to lull me into complacency? I prefer to take the credit, but I do love a good conspiracy theory . . .

Monday, June 2, 2008

A Change of Scenery: Florida Edition

Okay, as of tomorrow I will be spending the next week blogging from Florida, as I am taking a little much-needed solo trip to mull over all those major life questions that keep us up at night. Well, keep me up at night. Because I'm sure you have problems of your own.

Anyway, I say I will be blogging, but of course I will be doing other stuff too. Fun stuff. Important stuff. Stuff that involves the sun, the ocean, a bikini, beach towel, and . . . well, that's really all I need. Maybe a margarita. Make that two. Okay, that seems about right.

I keep getting off topic here. I will try to focus. I am hoping that some interesting things will happen to me so I have something more interesting than this to blog about. For example, I am flying alone for the first time in, oh, 17 years. Knowing me, I will screw something up there, so that will be fun. My main goal is to not think about the flying part, actually. As my favorite TV show is "Lost." Which is about many many things, but partly a plane crash. Which is a scene that keeps running through my head. It doesn't help that I've watched the season finale 4 times now, which is an indication of two things -- 1) that I don't appear to have much of a life at the moment, and 2) that is was AWESOME. My only disappointment was that in the final scene bearded messed-up Jack was not listening to Nirvana this time around in his pimpin' classic Bronco as he readied to break into the Hoffs/Drawlar Funeral Home (I am still oddly tickled by the fact that Hoffs/Drawlar is an anagram for "flash forward." I enjoy cleverness). What was he listening to? Must find out.

You may (probably) have no idea what I'm talking about at this point. However, if you don't watch Lost, you really should. There won't be another new episode for 8 months so that gives you plenty of time to watch the first four seasons. As a matter of fact, I would recommend taking several days off work to do so in one big marathon. Your boss will understand.

I have no idea where I'm going with this. Oh yeah, Florida. Well, I have nothing more to say about that. Except, in the interest of full disclosure, you should know that instead of a four-star beachfront resort I will actually be staying with my parents in a gated, over-55 community. Mostly because I am broke. Mostly. But I actually do like my folks quite a bit, so it's all good. Plus, there might be plenty of blog fodder there . . .

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Follow-Up: Bug Eaters

I enjoyed this particular exchange with a reader so much, that I decided lest anyone miss out (because God forbid any of the six of you not get the opportunity to read this) I would put it here as an actual post. I am doing so only because it made me giggle, and it seems that these days it's all about me. I only say that because I feel like I'm talking to myself here. But if someone else is actually reading this, it's about you, too. Thanks for that.

Oh, and this comment is in response to the final, wholly unrelated portion of the post you can find here.

ColinJ said...

The bug eaters?...ok....well firstly I really like the recipe in which the only 2 ingredients are bugs and grease. The bugs are cooked in the grease until they are ...well....cooked. That's it! That's the entire goddam recipe! Not even a pinch of salt? I laughed alot, that's funny just because it's there, second on the list, with a bold heading. I want the entire bug recipe book now.

And I do love the warning for the prepation of scorpions....."remember to cut off the stinger". That's what I must have missed the last time I prepared scorpions for dinner guests. Quite a relief to this budding chef that the strange aftertaste my guests commented on was just a neurotoxin after all.

And the test if a bug can be eaten or not is a good one...."observe whether or not wild animals eat the insect". So not only do I have to prepare it and cook it. I have to catch it and before doing so, I have to observe it to see if it gets eaten by a wild animal. And if a wild animal does happen to wander along at the same time as myself and and eats my insect, what the hell is it that I am supposed to cook then?

I thought they were taking the piss Angie, but I checked out some of the links, they are for real. And the really sad thing sweetie?....they have PUBLISHED BOOKS about this stuff.
May 31, 2008 10:36 PM

Angie Shultis said...
Oh my god, Colin, that made me laugh so hard . . . I didn't quite take the time with it you apparently did, and I have clearly missed out on something fascinating. Can you even call that a recipe? I guess it's combining two ingredients at the most rudimentary level.

However, if a wild animal wanders by and takes your bug, I would recommend that you just go ahead and cook the wild animal. I'm sensing that would be far more satisfying than that grub you had your eye on . . .

Oh, man, that cracked me up. Nice one. Thanks for that!

I did check a couple links, by the way, to make sure it seemed real at least before I posted it, but published books? Missed that. And all I can say is that I think that just bears out my original theory, that people are f*n weird. While I am f*n awesome.

Just Doin' My Jobs: A List

Lately, much of my energy is focused on something entirely too practical for my tastes -- employment. And I do mean finding it. As a freelance writer, my professional life is, almost by definition, completely unsettled. Also, I know this will surprise you considering the copious amount of talent on display here, but I'm not exactly raking in the big bucks.

I have spent the last year or so, then, substitute teaching, writing for various blogs and local publications, and -- the highlight -- scoring fourth grade reading ISATS online. It's glamorous, I know.

I hate it when writers write about writing (redundant, yes?) so I will not be doing that. However, I will write about existential crises, and while I'm not sure uncertain career paths qualify, I'm feeling flexible today. My pseudo-crisis is this: I have many many changes going on in my life right now which will require me to get off my indecisive ass and figure out what I'm doing next. And I do mean how I'm going to make money. Which, one might argue, at this juncture in life I should have probably already figured out. And you would be correct. Good thinking.

However, as I always like to say, it is what it is. I do like to say that. Just ask my friend Sarah; she finds it highly annoying.

Anyway, as I mull over my Next Big Career Move, I've gotten to thinking about some of the stupid/annoying jobs I've held in the past. My top three:

3. Men's Clothing Salesperson. This sounds fairly innocuous, but I was 19, working in a men's clothing store in a strip mall in a Detroit suburb run by a this manic guy named Surin who drank tea and strawberry milkshakes. I remember this because I used to serve him those when I worked at the ice cream/sandwich shop next door, but I digress . . . Anyway, part of my job was to mark up pants (while they were actually on the 68-year-old guys) to be tailored. I think I only ever did the hem and maybe the waist, mercifully, but I never had any flippin' idea what I was doing. Those must have been some messed up pant legs, I can tell you. The biggest compliment I ever received from my boss? That I wasn't very good at any of it, but at least he could count on me to show up. Gee, thanks.

2. Yogurt Sensations. That was the actual name of the place, I swear. In a mall food court. It's not such a bad college job, really, but good lord -- Yogurt Sensations? There, I learned to cut up a whole pineapple in 12.8 seconds flat and make a perfect soft-serve swirl with the little curly thing on top. It's really quite impressive. Also, my boss was, like, 20 and the owner's son, and a complete and total waste-case. I ended up sharing an apartment with his girlfriend, and after they broke up he called one night and since she wasn't home, I got to spend an hour on the phone with him while he cried and threatened to off himself. Then, go to work the next day where he acted like nothing happened. All this for just slightly more than minimum wage. Nice!

1. Kmart Shoe Department. This is the first job I held after receiving my newly-minted psychology degree from Michigan State University. Seriously. Stocking shoes. At Kmart. The best part -- wait for it -- I have actually run a Blue Light Special. Over the intercom. At Kmart. Seriously. The upside? Dude, there's really nowhere to go but up from there.

image from