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Dear Reader’s Digest,

Thank you for your efforts to empower women. I’m sure this title didn’t seem patronizing when you published this pamphlet in 1973 — 10 years behind the start of the second wave of feminism.

Now, though …

I’m surprised every chapter doesn’t just say, “Call a man.”

To be fair, it doesn’t ever say that, but there is a whiff of condescension. For example, in the “Starting difficulties” section of the “Six dilemmas with your car” chapter, the unnamed writer states:

If your car refuses to start, but the battery has enough power to crank the engine, you may not be using the correct starting procedure.

You must use your delicate lady feet to depress the accelerator.

To your credit, there is some great information in here. But let’s be honest: Not all men are handy, and not all women take to their fainting sofas when faced with an emergency.

Shock? Or Reader’s Digest’s expectations of a woman’s general nature?

A better title would have been the simple, “Guide to household emergencies.” Oh wait — you thought of that as you published a similar guide in the same year under that exact title. Why not call it, “Men’s guide to household emergencies?”

Anyway, lucky for us, the women’s guide is enhanced with these special illustrations:

You too can change a tire without damaging your manicure!

Yet no self-respecting woman (or man, for that matter) should heed your advice regarding toilet clogs:

Try reaching as far as possible into the toilet to dislodge the blockage.

Um … no.

My 1950s June Cleaver-style mom clearly found this guide useful, as it was one of the few things she kept. (She wasn’t particularly sentimental, and thankfully wasn’t a borderline hoarder like someone else I know.)

My mom always liked to be prepared. In fact, she tucked in the pages of your guide this clipping from the Atlanta Journal and Constitution:

Note that the AJC did not select target audience gender. So that’s nice. And rather forward-thinking compared to you.

Anyway, thanks for providing amusement for me 45 years after publication.

Dying to get my mitts on the “men’s” version for comparison,
Beth

 

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Dear America:

It’s almost your birthday, so I’m giving you the gift of information. This info might help answer a question I’ve been asking since I began traveling throughout the rest of the world:

Why do Americans resist bidets?

There are various commercials that address the perils of paper. Here’s one example:

And various products to help clean up your hazardous waste site:

But tissue is troubling in general. Why not solve the problem in a less wasteful way?

The French get it. The Japanese more than get it. You practically need a user manual, but your special bits will be spic and span.

Americans don’t get it.

And I don’t get that.

Everybody poops. EVERYBODY. (If you don’t, you have a real problem that I can’t solve.) Don’t you want to be as clean as possible afterward?

If you do, here’s a solution: Tushy. It’s an aftermarket, easy-to-install bidet. (NOT to be confused with the anal porn website in HD [!] that I found accidentally when looking for the bidet link.)

I’m happy to be a paid spokesperson if asked.

Come on, people. Let’s get it together. Save some trees. Save some septic tanks. Save your sphincters some friction.

Unless you are into that sort of thing. (And according to that website … nevermind.)

Yours in booty health and wellbeing,
Beth

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Dear Film Buffs:

It is summer blockbuster season, y’all.

I want to talk about movies.
I want to talk about movies I love and movies I hate.
I want to talk about movies that are my personal litmus test.

If you don’t like these movies, I’m not sure we can be friends:

1. Pulp Fiction
This is Tarantino’s best. Don’t @ me with that “Reservoir Dogs” crap. Quotable moments, a John Travolta comeback and inventive storyline? Shit … That’s all you had to say. If you don’t like it, I don’t know what to say.

2. The Princess Bride
I like it so much that I have a line from it permanently etched on my person. (If you like the movie, and I like you, I might show you.) You were on the fence about it until this post, and now you wish to surrender to me? Very well, I accept.

Tommy Boy Poster

3. Tommy Boy
Chris Farley and David Spade at peak performance. If you don’t laugh at the airplane bathroom scene, there is something wrong with you. You’re just a big, dumb animal.

Horrible Bosses Poster

4. Horrible Bosses
I’ll watch Jason Bateman in anything, but he’s at his finest as straight man here. And Colin Farrell has the perfect role. Don’t get me started on Jamie Foxx, murder consultant.

Bridesmaids Poster

5. Bridesmaids
Melissa McCarthy slays. Every. Single. Scene. My love for her comes out of me like lava. (She’s also great in “Spy.”)

Napoleon Dynamite Poster

I was going to stop at five, but here’s an extra (possibly controversial) movie for good measure:

6. Napoleon Dynamite
With this one, I understand you have to be in the right mood. Otherwise you don’t get it. I was worried about showing this to my kids because, if they didn’t like it, I would have to kick them out of the house. ‘Cause I do whatever I feel like I wanna do. Gosh!

Honorable mentions: Guardians of the Galaxy, The Incredibles, The Avengers.

Yes, there’s a theme. Want to guess what’s on my most-hated list? Lots of dramas.

The English Patient Poster

1. The English Patient
Like Elaine said, just die already. I don’t give a rat’s ass about all the Oscars.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Poster

2. Batman vs. Superman
Don’t try to argue that this isn’t a drama. It totes is. Typical no-humor DC mierda. It was so boring that I fell asleep and DIDN’T MISS ANYTHING.

Steel Magnolias Poster

3. Steel Magnolias
It’s the only movie that ever made me nearly walk out of the theater. The accents were not even the worst part. The Southern clichés, predictability, scenery-chewing … I could go on. I won’t.

Black Swan Poster

4. Black Swan
Another Oscar darling. Just no. A better Darren Aronofsky film is “The Wrestler.”

The Hateful Eight Poster

5. The Hateful Eight
If I have Tarantino’s best, then the worst needs to be on a list too. I wanted to like it. I didn’t. The pauses/silence worked in my No. 1; they did not work here. So boring …

And, another possibly controversial choice for No. 6:

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Poster

6. The Lord of the Rings anything
Before you hire a hitman, let me say that I like fantasy (Harry Potter, Star Wars, Pan’s Labyrinth), etc. I just don’t like this fantasy. Why? Because of stupid stuff like the tree that is supposed to be all-knowing doesn’t know shit is going down in his forest. I know, I know: “Read the books.”

There you have it. Disagree? Come at me, bro. Maybe you’ll get lucky and get me in a transitional period. It’s not inconceivable.

Bottoms up,
Beth

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Dear Music Lovers:

If you are like me, you have playlists for various occasions. In my case, these playlists correspond to very specific occasions. Here are some examples:

1. Playlist that keeps me from murdering my attitudinal oldest son and burying his body in the shrubs outside our door:

Notes: It’s hard to be mad at your 13 year old when 13-year-old Taylor Hanson is scatting. No, I’m not ashamed to have One Direction on a playlist. Yes, “1985” resonates (I too never got a hand on a member of Duran Duran. Yet.).

2. Playlist that helps me get ready for work when I spent too much time the night before bingeing “Santa Clarita Diet” and drinking wine.

Notes: I dare you to stand still when you hear any of these songs. “Thrift Shop” is one of my youngest son’s favorite songs.

3. Playlist that allows me to let my redneck freak flag fly (and those moments I can ignore over-the-top objectification of women):

Notes: This may surprise you, but my first date with Eddie was a Tim McGraw/Sawyer Brown concert. I was a DJ for a country music radio station at the time. As I also worked as a TV news reporter, I couldn’t use my real name on air at the radio station. I wanted to call myself Moonpie Jones, but my boss wouldn’t let me.

4. Playlist to offer when someone asks you your favorite song from the ’80s.

Notes: How could I choose? So many great songs for so many good reasons. It’s shocking how Bow Wow Wow is undervalued and underplayed.

5. Playlist for when the kids are not in the car:

 

Notes: All great. All NSFW and NSFC. It’s surprising there’s no “E” next to “Crazy Bitch.” It’s definitely “E.” (Sarah K., don’t say a word to me about Buckcherry.)

6. Playlist for stress cleaning your habitat because your house in your old city STILL hasn’t sold.

Notes: It’s been a year. This is better than drinking.

7. Playlist for cooking complicated dishes like Mexican tamales, Puerto Rican pasteles and Japanese gyoza while wishing regular life could be as easy as following a recipe.

Notes: If I’m going to cook, I’m going to COOK (i.e., go all out). All-day cooking makes me feel very counterculture — counter to my usual routine — hence this throwback playlist.

I’m open to new bands. I promise! (I’m just too lazy to go searching.) Send me your top playlist and its best occasion!

Thanks for the recs,
Beth

 

From Instagram. Change 2000s to 1980s.

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A summary of “Avengers: Infinity War”

Dear People of Earth Who Want to See “Avengers: Infinity War” But Didn’t See It On Opening Weekend:

I have thoughts about the movie, if you want to hear them. I’m just a regular person, not a movie critic. Here are some other disclaimers:

  • I’m not a DC fan. Sorry. Too dark. No humor. I fell asleep during “Batman vs. Superman” and didn’t feel like I missed anything. I refused to go with my family to see “Justice League.” I did like “Wonder Woman,” though.
  • I’ve seen all of the Marvel Universe movies. I wish Stan Lee were my grandfather. When my kids met him, I was the one breathing into a paper bag. As I do.
  • I love Thor, Loki, Iron Man and Bruce Banner (not the Hulk, though).
  • I don’t like Captain America, Bucky, Spider-Man, Vision and the Scarlet Witch. There: I said it.
  • I cannot get enough of “Guardians of the Galaxy.”
  • I haven’t read any of the comic books.

All right. Now that I have all that out of the way so you know where I’m coming from, here are my thoughts:

1. The movie could have been subtitled, “How Thor Gets His Groove Back” or “The Trouble with Hulky” or “Call Me By My Superhero Name.” (And two of those could be six-word movie reviews.)

2. All the Avengers  (except two) got screen time — some more than others, of course. I’m satisfied.

3. I now like Scarlet Witch and Spider-Man much better. Shocking! (There’s a bit between Spider-Man and Star Lord — with side notes from Iron Man and Drax — that is brilliant.)

4. The best villains are the ones that have an understandable motive and some humanity. Thanos is a great villain.

5. There’s enough in this movie for five stand-alone movies (i.e., plenty going on, so don’t step out for popcorn or a wee).

6. If you haven’t seen any of the movies, you still will understand what is going on. You won’t pick up on some of the comments, but that’s OK.*

7. It’s funny. The best thing about the Avengers is the chemistry among them (and the resulting banter). The best scenes are the ones where characters meet other characters for the first time.

8. The ending is dark. Not really DC dark, but darker than usual.

9. BUT know that this isn’t over. There are more Avengers movies to come, so don’t freak out at the ending.

10. It’s worth the money (but it does make me want to go back and watch the first “Iron Man,” the first “Avengers” and the first “Guardians of the Galaxy” for all the character development and quotable lines).

Hope you enjoy it! I’d love to know what you think.
Beth

* If you’ve never seen prior movies, this will be me trying to explain:

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Dear Famous, Sort-of-famous, Barely-famous and some Just-contextually-famous People:

If I like you and your work, I have no game when I’m around you. None. Just ask Patrick Warburton.*

Forgive me when I report that I’ve had three super fangirl moments that have left me feeling like I need a confessional. And perhaps professional help.

To The Bloggess (aka Jenny Lawson):
I squealed like a toddler getting an Elsa doll when you followed me on Twitter. I’m sorry to all whose glasses I shattered and dogs I made howl.

To Steven Ray Morris, audio slave engineer for the “My Favorite Murder” podcast featuring Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark:
I may have hyperventilated when you liked my reply to you.**

To Dr. Brightman, the person who helped me become the writer I am:
I apologize for vomiting words all over you at your recent birthday celebration. My respect for you is directly proportional to the amount of geeking out I was doing after seeing you again 1020 many years after college graduation.

Me=Overjoyed; Dr. Brightman=Frightened? Bothered? Bored?

So, fair warning: If you meet me, I tend to act like a Golden Retriever. I’m sorry.

I promise I’m harmless.

Your No. 1 fan,
Beth

* Warburton was a guest of the Savannah Film Festival just before the live-action version of “The Tick” came out. Always a Puddy fan, I was an even bigger fan of Ben Edlund and “The Tick” animated series. I was at an after party, saw him standing by himself, got two beers and headed over to introduce myself. He shot me down hard by explaining he was on the wagon. (Mortifying Moment No. 1)

As I was working in PR related to the festival at the time, I gave him my card with my cell number on it in case he needed anything. Then I realized it seemed like I was hitting on him. (Mortifying Moment No. 2)

I couldn’t just let the moment go. No. I had to make it worse by SAYING, “I’m not hitting on you.” (Mortifying Moment No. 3)

I will never forget the way he looked at me:

Pity. Disgust. Amusement. All of that.

And this is me, just before slinking away:

** For you non-Murderinos out there, the tag line of the podcast is “Stay sexy, and don’t get murdered.”

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Dear Friends Who Also Are Parenting Boys:

In my last post, I asked you to tell me the crazy things you never thought you would say. My Facebook feed blew up with sentences that did not disappoint.

Here they are in all their glory, along with the name of the beleaguered parent who shared (thank you!):

  • “Stop touching Jackson’s penis, you have your own.” [Jackson is a dog.] (Maya)
  • “Is that poop or mud? Wait, let me smell it.” (Wendy)
  • “Is that poop or chocolate?” (Stephanie)
  • “Quit playing with your penis in the living room.” (Afton)
  • “Get your balls off the counter.” [Yes, THOSE balls.] (Also Afton)
  • “Stop wiping your boogers on the ________.” (Afton again)
  • “That IS a big poo-poo!” (Still Afton)
  • “Oh please don’t pee on me.” (Elizabeth, mother of a newborn)
  • “Wash your feet. Every. Day.” (Amy)
  • “Washing includes more than just standing under the water! Use soap. All over your body. Rub it around. All over your body. Then rinse it all off.” (Mary)
  • “How have you survived 9 years of life … you’re just now figuring out what happens when you stick something metal into an electrical outlet?!” (Also Mary)
  • “Why does the upstairs smell like piss?! I swear to almighty God if I open your toilet lid and find you haven’t flushed upstairs in days, I will bolt this bathroom shut and you can go in the yard.” (Mary Catherine. And also, he did. And she did. And he did for a week.)
  • Wash your hands! Use soap!” (Mary Catherine again)
  • “Don’t lie to me; that’s the same pair of underwear you’ve had on for 3 days. You smell.” (Still Mary Catherine)
  • “Wiggle wiggle wiggle. Wiggle wiggle wiggle.” (Mary Catherine again, reporting that this came from the shower)
  • “Stop behaving like an animal.” The reply: “But mom, I am just a mammal.” (Mary Catherine FTW)
  • “NO chain saws in the living room!” (Said to both father and son, according to Vanessa)
  • “We don’t jump on the trampoline with our penises out. Put it back in your underwear.” (Amber)
  • “Yes, you’re allowed to say ‘bad ass’ in this instance, but don’t go making a habit of it, ya got me?” (Said by Billy, referring to a suit of armor for an imaginary man cave)
  • “You can’t just come back to life after your brother killed you!” Don’t cheat; you’re now on the sidelines until all the kids are dead!” (Eddie)
  • “Um is that TP hanging from your butt? Did you even finishing going? If you leave it there it dries on and is harder to get off. OK in the bath tub.” (Erika)
  • “Do not call yourself Lil’ Woody at recess.”(Kelley)
  • “Don’t put your penis on the TV.” (Chrissy)
  • “Don’t wipe boogers on the cat!” (Marguerite)
  • “Go ahead. Whatever happens is on you.” (Kimberly)
  • The son: “I just want to climb this tree.” The mom: “Go ahead, and see how far you get.” The reply: “You’re always ruining my fun.” (Kimberly again)
  • “Who put the athletic cup in my purse?” (Caroline)
  • “The dog brought three waffles down from your room today. Stop leaving food up there!” (Caroline again)
  • “How can you still be hungry? You just ate a footlong Subway!” (Also Caroline)
  • “Why are there empty cereal boxes in the pantry?” (More Caroline)
  • “Get the earbuds out of your ears! I’m talking to you.” (Still Caroline)
  • “I don’t care who started it! Just stop!” (Caroline one more time)
  • “Don’t bite your toenails. That’s just gross.” (Caroline has three boys)
  • “We do not eat people!” (Stephanie)
  • “You can NOT go to school naked!(Stephanie again)
  • “If you’re not dressed in 2 minutes, you’re going to school naked.” (Stephanie with the mixed message)
  • Son #1: “Mom! He’s looking out my window!”
    Son #2: Continuing to stare intently out his brother’s window.
    Me: “He’s breathing your air too so get over it.” (Pam)
  • Those clothes/that camping gear/that (pick a sport) uniform cannot touch the carpet anywhere in the house.” (Michele)
  • “No, you cannot eat the whole chicken/roast/side of beef. Leave some for the rest of us.” (More Michele)
  • “Socks, especially stiff ones, go in the laundry basket.” (Michele one more time)
  • “You are not leaving this house until you figure out what that awful smell in your room is.” (Shital)
  • “Get that mulch/beetle/mustard bottle out of your mouth!” (Shital again)
  • Are you ever going to remember to flush the toilet?” (Nicole)
  • “Do you realize that not doing your homework makes me want to strangle you?” (More Nicole)
  • “OK, how about let’s try that again, but this time tell the truth.” (Nicole again)
  • “It’s fine with me if you can’t get your driver’s license until you’re 18.” (One more from Nicole)
  • “You must flush the toilet every time you use it! There is pee all over the floor!” (Amanda)
  • “I am not your maid!” (Also Amanda)
  • “Hey! Stop! No [sniffing] armpits.” (Candy)

There are a few themes here, including being preoccupied with body fluids and functions. And I know from being married to a man that not much changes in adulthood.

Yours in solidarity,
Beth

P.S. Parents of girls, I don’t want you to feel left out. I’ll post your crazy comments too. Please share them below or via Twitter, email, DM, Facebook, Hando’s Instagram page — whatever!

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