Sunday, September 30, 2007

Cheese TV

I just discovered the Lifetime Movie Network today. It's an entire channel that plays nothing but Lifetime Original Movies. I am officially never getting anything productive done again.

Just today, I'm managed to get sucked into both An Unexpected Love (a recent divorcee falls in love with her female boss -- gasp!) and Those She Left Behind (an '80s-tastic drama starring Joanna Kerns, of "Growing Pains" fame, about a man whose wife dies in childbirth and is left with a baby daughter). Between the soaring instrumental melodies, the bad acting, and the feel-good endings, it's impossible not to fall head over heels for the cheesy earnestness of these movies. And they sure manage to make a lazy Sunday even lazier.

God bless you, Lifetime.

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007


I really shouldn't be surprised by this sort of thing anymore, but it turns out that the two finalists on VH1's "The Pick-Up Artist" are professionals. They're not socially awkward Average Frustrated Chumps at all. Kosmo is an actor, and my formerly beloved Brady is a model. Thanks to the PUA (helloooo, abbreviation for "pick-up artist") blog A Player's Guide for the info.

Suddenly, the pieces are all fitting together: It was no coincidence that the final two happened to be the most attractive guys. And Brady seemed so shy and sweet because he's a MALE MODEL. Anyone who's ever seen the movie Zoolander knows what that means: He's not mysterious; he's just dumb.

I take all of my hypothetical affection back, Brady. And, VH1? Shame on you. I knew this shyte was scripted, but not to this freaking level.

Okay, one last look at Brady: Blue Steel! No, Magnum! No -- Le Tigre! There we go.

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Monday, September 24, 2007

Pick-Up Schticks

And, just as quickly as it appeared, VH1's "The Pick-Up Artist" is gone. Tonight, "Kosmo" (Alvaro's chosen pseudonym) was crowned "The Pick-Up Artist" by crazy Mystery and his somewhat silly-looking partners in crime, J-Dog and Matador.

I've stated my preference for Brady (the second runner-up) before, and I don't feel that Brady was robbed of the victory. If anything, I'm glad he's not going on "tour" -- skank-hunting and picking up STDs around the globe with Mystery and his sycophants. Whiiiiiiiich makes Brady all the more available to come to New York and date me. (Brady: Call me. *making phone signal with my right hand*)

As happy as I am for these guys that they finally have self-confidence -- it was nice to see everyone smiling big, genuine guy-smiles simultaneously during the final minutes, as opposed to their clearly practiced scowls -- I'm a little worried about Kosmo. He really seems to have drunk the Kool-Aid that Mystery's been mixing up: "I love you guys," he said to Mystery, J-Dog, and Matador. But who knows? Maybe he really does love them in that weird fratboy "I love you, man" way.

No, the thing that worries me most is that Kosmo left us with a soundbite at the end of the show that sounded something like this: "I'm not a pimp, and I'm not a player. I'm pick-up artist. And there's a big difference."

Here was my reaction to that, as I sat in my living room:

*crickets chirping*

Okay, if there is a difference, what would that difference be? As a "pick-up artist," you tell women fictional stories (a.k.a. lies, like a player might make up) to attract them. You put them down (like a pimp might, perhaps) to hook them. You weave a web of escalating psychological hot-buttons in order to "close" with a woman (or "girl," as they say on the show) -- be it closing her phone number, closing a kiss, or opening get what I mean.

Don't get me wrong: I want to admit up front that I love the show, and I watched every single episode. And maybe if the women are dumb enough to fall for these schticks, then they deserve the predators they eventually fall into bed with. Plus, I would gladly welcome a tutorial from Mystery to learn a few tricks of the pick-up artists' trade to use on men. (We ladies need all the help we can get in the New York dating minefield.)

But, come now: "I'm not a player"? Playa, please. Kosmo, if you'd read Neil Strauss's The Game, you'd better understand what you've signed yourself up for. Get ready to observe some seriously low standards, a few existential/psychological crises, and rampant sexual debauchery. And be glad your "tour" won't be filmed, so your mama won't have to watch you disrespect women the world over.

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Sunday, September 23, 2007

Keyed Up

I don't have a lot in common with the Westchester baby-track set, but I do like to bake. There's something comforting to me about knowing that if I put a set few ingredients together in exactly the right measurements and combination, I will get something delicious as a result. It's quite calming, actually.

So, today, inspired by my recent weekend trip to Miami, I clicked on a little Food Network for background noise and set about making a Key lime pie. I found the recipe on the adorable blog Laura Rebecca's Kitchen, and she got the recipe from a place in Key West called Pepe's. You can't get much more authentic than that.

I honestly couldn't remember the last time I made a pie, but I had a glass pie plate in my cupboard and everything, and that alone made me happy. Turns out, baking a Key lime pie is not as hard as one would think. Preparing the graham cracker crust is easy (and eventually delicious), and making the filling is equally easy, especially if you have this weird sex-toy-looking device for juicing limes called a citrus reamer that my coworker lent me.

Even though I managed to use every bowl I own in order to properly prepare everything that needed to be mixed, combined, separated, and juiced, the whole process took maybe an hour and a half tops. That's reasonable for a homemade dessert. (Hint: To better simulate the flavor of Key limes, I juiced two regular limes and half of one lemon. Made the whole thing a little more tart.)

The finished product:

Ahhhhh, sweet success. Not quite as good as the pie I had at Grillfish restaurant in Miami, but not bad coming from a tiny kitchen in Manhattan:

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Monday, September 17, 2007

I'm In Brady's Bunch

I am obsessed with the how-to-pick-up-women reality show "The Pick-Up Artist" on VH1. So obsessed that I'm currently reading the book that inspired it: The Game, by Neil Strauss.

Say what you want about the premise of the show: Mystery's a psychotic, self-aggrandizing, charismatic woman-hater; the concept is mysogynistic; etc. But when I watch, I feel empathy for the nerdy guys and merely want them to succeed so that they'll feel better about themselves or at the very least move out of their parents' basements. Usually, the show stays pretty benign, covering subjects such as how to talk to a woman (or "girl," as they say on the show) or how to take a woman they've just met on an "instant date." Those innocuous topics tend to make VH1 viewers forget that the point of Mystery's "game" is to screw as many women as possible with as little accompanying commitment as possible. That, for the most part, is kept out of the show in the name of quasi-wholesomeness.

Tonight's episode, though, went darker. The guys were assigned to pick up an exotic dancer from a strip club, and when the challenge was announced, I don't know what the guys thought. I wasn't sure if any of them had even seen a woman naked before. In particular, I'm a little enamored of Brady, the adorable 25-year-old blond photographer (nice!) who's hot and quiet and shy. So shy, in fact, that he'd never previously been to a strip club.

Being the best-looking of the crew, he of course immediately picked up a pudgy hairstylist/stripper wearing a Catholic schoolgirl uniform and took her back to the show's limo. Once they were both seated, the stripper started drinking...something that looked like a can of Miller Lite, and Brady had inched so far away from her that he was practically sitting on the outside of the car. He then began a stream-of-consciousness speech that went something like, "I just want to find a nice girl...a sweet girl..." Finally, there was an AUDIBLE "I don't caaaare" exhale from Brady, and he bit the bullet and started making out with her. Because that was, essentially, the challenge. Um, yikes, anyone?

It's one thing to talk to chicks and get their numbers, but it's another to be "challenged" to make out with an exotic dancer in the back of a corporate limousine. Especially since Brady seems to just want to meet ONE nice girl, not swap bodily fluids with all the pole dancers at the local Spanky's.

But, um, maybe I feel this way because I'm starting to crush on Brady just a little bit? The fact that he had never been at a strip club at the age of 25 and the way he doesn't seem to understand quite how good-looking he is endears him to me even more. All the guys, in fact, were a little more attractive to me before they underwent their Mystery transformation and started realizing that a little psychological manipulation goes a long way.

So, Brady? Forget Jillian. If you win the game, don't join Mystery and his cult of douchebaggery and tour the country being a wannabe gigolo. Come to New York. I'll smile at you and listen to all your lame pickup lines, buy you drinks, and whisk you off into the sunset. Bonus: I am a nice girl. Most of the time.

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Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Endorsement: E-A-R Classic Earplugs

I usually don't shill for products unless I find something truly amazing. (Or unless I'm trying to get free beer. Kidding. Sort of.) That said, I was pleasantly surprised when I returned today from a girls' weekend in Miami to find something truly wonderful:

E-A-R Classic Earplugs

The minute my traveling companion and I found our row, we knew the flight wouldn't be an easy one. The airline had seated us the middle of a group of eight or so young twentysomethings whom I thought must be drama students, a theory that I formed after hearing both the sheer volume of their conversations and the numerous times they yelled nonsensical things like, "Holla at your boyeeeeee!" and "Choco-choco-chip!"

The funny thing about drama students is they're self-aware without being self-aware. I heard them several times say things like, "Everyone is going to HATE US! They're going to be like, 'SHUT UP!' They're going to kick us off the plane!" But did they shut up? Um, no. That would be un-drama-student-like. My traveling companion, who is tiny and sweet and Asian, clutched her morning coffee, gave me a sidelong glance, and said, "I ahm going to KEEEL them." I hear you, sister.

By the time we took off, two thing had happened: First, I ascertained that they must all be on their way to perform in some cruise-line show. Again, I was able to reach this conclusion after I heard them yell, "I can't wait to get on that ship!" about five times. Second, I remembered I had earplugs. Really, really good earplugs. The foam kind that you roll up and stick in your ears and wait for them to unravel, like the toy foam capsules of sponge animals I used to stick in water as a kid.

Reader, I slept through the flight. If these babies can drown out cackling drama students, I'm sure they can muffle the sounds of crying kids, construction, and the awkwardness of your roommate having sex. Now go buy some.

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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Girl Crush

I think I might be a little bit in love with Jillian Michaels, the psychotic drill-sergeant personal trainer on The Biggest Loser. I'm a huge fan of the show, and I was more than a little bummed when they replaced red-faced, screaming, bitchy Jillian with homespun, blond, former-cheerleader-type Kim in Season 3. But! NBC brought Jillian BACK this season, and the premiere episode of Season 4 most certainly did not disappoint:

Not only did they bring kick-ass Jillian back, but they put her on a black motorcycle with black boots and a black helmet, and she rode into the desert on that hog to put together the Black Team, which may as well be called the Force of Evil team, because Jillian is breeding them to be unfeeling titanium-muscled cyborgs, or so it seemed in the first episode. If they don't beat the crap out of the other teams, I might cry. Or put a fist through some drywall -- Jillian probably wouldn't have it any other way.

Honestly, though? Jillian can totally make me into the Terminator (or just plain Linda Hamilton) anytime she freaking wants. I found myself getting so excited watching her whip her new outcast team into shape that I actually clapped with glee. Clapped.

What I like most about Jillian is that she's everything a woman isn't supposed to be, and she succeeds that way. She's loud, she's mean, she never smiles, and she's ripped. (Or at least NBC is editing the show and/or paying her more money this season to make it seem like she's tough as nails.) But I can live with that possibly fictitious character development. She's a total brunette goddess whom I'd like to take a boot camp class from. Or, you know, a one on one training session with.... Maybe we could lift together. Or push-ups. Crunches... Hot, the hell was I going with this?

After tonight's show, I cruised on over to her Wikipedia page (memo to NBC: The Biggest Loser web page is horrendously video-heavy and hard to navigate). Wikipedia doesn't say a lot about her, other than she lives with her brother (that's somewhat suspicious) in L.A.

So, Jillian, if you're out there, know this: If you come to New York, you can totally hang with me in my apartment, and we'll go to the gym together and talk about protein shakes and lick low-fat ice cream cones while walking through the fall foliage in Madison Square Park. I'll even let you bully me, if you'd like. Ma'am.

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I had lunch with a former coworker of mine today. We were talking about relationships and marriage, and he, a happily married man, related this story to me:

He was at a wedding not long ago, and a young twentysomething woman came up to him and said, "Nice tie."

"I realized," he told me, "that she was hitting on me. I mean, honestly, a woman saying to a man, 'Nice tie,' can't be anything but a pickup line. It's like saying 'Nice ass' or 'Nice package.'"

After I stopped laughing loudly at that nugget of wisdom, I mentally jotted this down in my imaginary self-help book, Jane's Guide to Picking Up Dudes:

#78: Tell him, "Nice tie."

That, coupled with a slight smile, oughta do it.

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