Sunday, November 05, 2006

Borat arrives: God help this country.

Borat infiltrates the U S and A.Unless you have been trapped in a closet R. Kelly-style over the past few weeks, you are probably completely sick of all of the hype around the Borat movie, which was just released on Friday. I have been a long-time fan of Borat the Kazakhstani reporter, and of Da Ali G Show from which his character originated. I was aware that a movie was being filmed quite some time ago, but my hopes were not initially very high for it, since the movie based on the Ali G character ("Ali G in Da House") ended up being lame. But then about six months ago, I was randomly stopped while waiting in line for a movie and was asked to preview parts of the Borat movie and give my impressions for some market research. What I saw was HILARIOUS, and my expectations started rising.

Aren't you jealous of my official Kazakhstan t-shirt?Then it just so happened that my brother's girlfriend JB got SENT TO KAZAKHSTAN of all places for her job, so the "connection" to Borat grew. As last Friday neared, it was literally impossible to avoid the promotion of the movie - Borat was EVERYWHERE - from CNBC to Good Morning America to Conan to Jon Stewart to Saturday Night Live - you name it. The first four minutes of the movie were linked up on YouTube, and the incredibly positive reviews started rolling in.

I avoided all of it so as to not be utterly annoyed by the movie before I even saw it.

But I DID see it opening night, of course, and rocked the authentic Kaz t-shirt (courtesy of JB) while in line. I somehow scammed out of waiting in the actual roped off line the theater had set up for that showing, and got choice seats right in the "middle-middle." I had arrived at 5 PM for a 6 PM showtime, and even at that early point, ALL shows for the rest of the night (they went until 11:45 PM) were already sold out...

Just be glad they have clothes on.The movie did not disappoint. While I don't think it is the "funniest movie ever made" as Entertainment Weekly is claiming, it definitely has charted new mockumentary territory. Most of the "typical Americans" interviewed by Borat as he makes his way across the country have absolutely no idea that he is NOT really from Kazakhstan, and some of the things that come out of their respective mouths are so funny that no one would've ever been able to write a script as good. However, other things that are said by some of the unsuspecting interviewees are downright nauseating. So while about 80% of the movie was light-hearted and humorous, 20% uncovered a very ugly side to this country that should make all of us very, very scared.

I think I probably ended up not liking it as much as most people did/will simply because I prefer escapism over reality when I go to the movies, and since what happens in Borat is essentially real, it was hard to laugh at all of the shameless ignorance parading around on-screen. That was certainly not Borat/Sacha Baron Cohen's fault, but I seriously cannot imagine the consequences the people who unknowningly appeared in the movie are facing now. But once again, by and large Borat is worth seeing and I would recommend it. It also unexpectedly took the #1 spot this weekend, so it seems to be living up to its hype.

When we left, it was absolute mayhem at the theater, to the point where our cab driver asked us why it was so crazy. I had to agree with him... I go to a ton of movie openings and I had never seen it that chaotic. All I could think of to say was, "Borat."

- e

Sunday, October 29, 2006

For Pete's Sake.

What does she SEE in him!?!?! The celebrity couple that has always absolutely boggled my mind is Kate Moss and Pete Doherty. Granted, he's not really a 'celebrity' in the U.S., he just fronts some U.K. band called Babyshambles that can't be that great because they can never practice because he is always in rehab.

Seriously, have you SEEN this guy? He looks like a drunken version of Harry Potter, and I feel bad saying that because I actually really like the kid who plays Harry Potter.

This is Harry Potter.  This is Harry Potter on drugs.

Now there are rumors that not only are Kate and Pete engaged, but that she's pregnant. I hope that it is just a rumor, because these two junkies should NOT be having a child since neither one can take care of themselves as it is. A few days ago Kate was seen chugging down champagne, which lead some people to the conclusion that she must NOT be pregnant. Ummm... hello?!?! Did you forget who we're talking about here? It's KATE MOSS, not Einstein. This chick is as dumb as they come. It's obvious she's only with him because he's probably the only guy in the world who could care less about her and therefore it's a challenge for her.

Sorry to tell you this, Kate, but Pete is never ever ever going to be sober. I just don't think it's possible. AND he dresses horribly!  She should know better!I mean, this is the same guy who allegedly shot up an unconscious female fan with heroin. I couldn't even list out all the times he's been arrested because it would take me all week, but here's one and here's another.

After her cocaine scandal last year, you would think that those around her who actually do care about her would keep her as far away as possible from Pete. If he's not an "enabler," I don't know who would be. They had broken up for a little while, but he apparently won her over yet again a few months ago.

Theirs is a story that just cannot possibly end well. I feel sorry for Kate's daughter, three-year-old Lila. Perhaps Kate can get Angelina and/or Madonna to adopt her kids so they have half a chance at not having completely messed up lives.

- e

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

A name change already?

This is not Jayden.  Or Sutton.  It's Sean. Usually people decide to change their name later in life... as celebrity babies Apple Martin, Pilot Inspektor Lee and Kal-El Cage are bound to do.

But Britney Spears has already done the ol' swich-a-roo for her second son, The Baby Previously Known as Sutton Pierce Spears. Everyone commented on how his initials were kept the same as 1-year-old brother Sean Preston's. Alas, it was not meant to stay that way.

Sutton Pierce is now Jayden James.

To be fair, Britney herself never even officially announced her son's arrival. The media caught wind that it was a boy and that he was named Sutton and took it from there. However, now the birth certificate has been filed so it is final... for now.

I just have to say... Jayden? I know that if she was going to have a girl she was going to name her Jamilyn - a mix between her sister Jamie and her mom Lynne's names. That would've bugged me because even though I would have known that it was supposed to have been pronounced JAY-mee-lin, it would've looked like JAM-a-lin. Perhaps Jayden is a cross between sister Jamie's name and... Hayden Christenson? Who knows. Maybe Britney is a closet Star Wars fan.

Regardless, let's just hope she doesn't drive with this one in the front seat or trip while carrying him in one arm and a drink in the other...

- e

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Moving on.

Please, someone, love us again!
Years after the break-up of Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman's marriage, they have each finally moved on. But I dare say neither of them are too happy with their new situations.

Yes, while the news just broke that "Kate" Holmes and Tom have finally announced their wedding date and will hold the ceremony in Italy, the buzz around their union faded a long time ago when everyone got completely and utterly sick of Tom's crazy antics. Even the debut of Suri was deemed to be a publicity stunt, and they held off on revealing her picture until they could get a higher bid than Angelina and Brad got for Shiloh's first magazine spread (and they still failed to do that!).

Then you've got Nicole. I said before that Keith Urban was a sketchy, girly-looking man, and what does he do but Damn you, you hillbilly!land himself back in rehab shortly (only 4 months!) after getting hitched. Hello, YOU ARE STUPID. You are never going to get anyone better than Nicole Kidman - have you looked in the mirror!?!?! And you choose to do the one thing she has stated that she would leave you over? Despite her current pledges to "stand by her man," sources say that she was shocked that he fell off the wagon and didn't see it coming.

Nicole has taken comfort in having long talks with her father , a psychologist, about her latest drama. Hopefully he will convince her to LEAVE THIS LOSER! Yes, I know I'm being harsh, but seriously, if he is not going to straighten up for her, he's not going to ever straighten up.

Wanna take bets on whose marriage lasts the longest? I think Katie and Tom's will, because Katie's getting paid to stay with him!

- e

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Silly, silly me.

Remember a month ago when I was so excited that I actually had a good customer service experience with AT&T that I devoted a whole blog write-up to it? A few hours of my life were dedicated to AT&T that day - between the call itself to figure out my DSL charges, and writing the post and gathering the pictures to go along with it. Oh, how I praised the likes of "Jenny," the woman on the other end of the phone who promised me a low monthly DSL rate of $19.99 and a clearer set of charges on my bill. I remember hanging up from the call that day literally astonished at how smoothly it went and how I ended up with a better deal that I had been hoping for.

Oh, how NAIVE I WAS. Stupid, stupid e!

Because when I viewed the October bill a few minutes ago, guess what? All the old charges are back, it's 2.5 times what it should cost, there are once again about 18 lines of charges and "discounts" on the bill, and Jenny is nowhere to be found. I called the billing number and they are not around on weekends. And of course, I'm cursing myself because I can't find the detailed notes I took during the call so I would know what the package is supposed to be called and whatnot. Now I am literally SEETHING. I am so mad that I cannot even see straight. I do not HAVE TIME to call them back during the work week, and I do not want to have to fight with some not-as-nice-as-Jenny-was person about what SHE promised me. Quite frankly I am ready to go back to the days of no DSL, no cell phones, no blackberries, no Tivo, no DirecTV and hell not even any phones st all if it means I don't have to have a nervous breakdown each time the bills come and they are all a mess.

All that keeps going through my head is, "Jenny, WHY did you LIE to me?!?!?! WHY!?!!!?!?!?!"
I feel betrayed.
I HATE you now!

Adding to my bitterness is that I've also recently been dealing with the complete and utter lameness that is my home warranty plan. If you are not familiar with what that is... basically when you buy a place you can get a home warranty that covers major appliances, plumbing and heating systems, etc. When you need things fixed or completely replaced, you call the warranty and they contract out to local service providers who you pay a flat fee to for the work. It comes in handy and we have used it a lot over the past three years.

But in the past few weeks, we realized that we should probably replace our 17 year old water heater because the average life of those things is about 12 years, and it's starting to hiss and gurgle every time it heats up, and it's situated above a room with many things that we don't want ruined in it. You would think that PROACTIVE replacement such as that would be a good thing, because it is saving all of the additional expenses that would come along with the water damage should the heater start leaking and/or actually break. But noooooooooooo, I can't just tell them I would like to replace the heater that's at least 5 years past its prime. They first make someone come out and attempt to fix it. Then they write up a claim to get it replaced. Then you can only get it replaced with some crappy no-name brand. Now I'm told that UNLESS IT IS LEAKING, they won't pay to replace it at all. The contractor the warranty plan hired out to said, "Between you and me, they will lose money on you if they pay for the replacement when it's not actually broken." Duh! I know that! But that's what insurance is all about - everyone pays and then only some people actually get more than they paid out of it. So, it's just a total hassle to go through all the process to file this claim and have them make up lame excuses as to why they won't replace a unit that is obviously on its last legs. Let's wait til it's a total crisis, shall we? THANKS FOR NOTHING!

- e

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Dearly Departed

... And the Funky Bunch. You’ve got your Jack Nicholson.
You’ve got your Leonardo Dicaprio.
You’ve got your Matt Damon.
You’ve got your… Mark Wahlberg.

Uh… does Marky Mark have Ari Gold for an agent or something? Exactly HOW did Funky Bunch/Boogie Nights Wahlberg get top billing (thought not his picture on the poster, see left) for “The Departed,” especially when Martin Sheen and Alec Baldwin are also in it?

I will tell you why, because he was the best part about the whole damn movie. Him AND Alec Baldwin, actually. Way more enjoyable than the other three supermegastars.

Don’t get me wrong – everyone did a great job and it was an excellent movie which I highly recommend. The very, very end got a tad cheesy and unraveled a bit, but I think it was intentional.

FEEL the vibrations!!!But nearly a week after I saw it, it’s Marky Mark and Alec’s performances that are still the most memorable. They have some rants and one-liners that are so hilarious and in such rapid succession that I feel like I need to see the movie again just to catch them all.

Ladies – if you are excited to see all the fellas in this movie, lower your expectations. Everyone looks like absolute crap all throughout, so there definitely is no eye candy to be enjoyed. However, I will say that it was the first time in a long time that I felt like I was watching a REAL MOVIE. As in, a movie that will be watched long into the future because it is that good (sorry, 'Snakes on a Plane.' I enjoyed you, but 'not in that way'). I guess technically ‘The Departed’ has already been around for a long time, This ain't no girly sinkin' ship movie!as it is a remake of 'Infernal Affairs,' a Chinese movie. The director of that original version called the Hollywood remake, “pretty good.”

Scorsese replied, "Um... Gee, thanks."

American movie-goers thought it was more than just pretty good, as it became the #1 movie in the country on opening weekend, and is also getting mostly excellent reviews.

All in all, I recommend this movie. It is not as Whaddaya starin' at?  You want my robe, don't you?violent as I thought it was going to be, or perhaps I have become desensitized. I did get a little twitchy during the 2.5 hour running time; some things could've moved along a little more quickly. But once again, I felt like it was the first solid movie I have seen in a long time, and it's definitely worth seeing on the big screen.

- e

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Someone needs a few anger management classes...

The dynamic duo.I have never really been a big Beyonce fan - I could take her or leave her. Some songs I like, but she's not an artist whose music and new albums I seek out. When I saw this performance of hers on the recent MTV Video Music Awards, I sensed that I would probably like "Ring the Alarm," but it's always hard to tell when you hear a song for the first time on an awards show, or even on a talk show.

But now it's official: I DO like it. I think I like it because I like the video for it, where Beyonce is just totally pissed off. Let us dissect the lyrics, shall we?

She gon' be rockin' chinchilla coats
If I let you go
Gettin' the house off the coast
If I let you go

She gon' take everything I own
If I let you go
I can't let you go, damn if I let you go

She gon' rock them VVS stones
If I let you go
Couped in the 'Bach or the Rolls
If I let you go
She gon' profit everything I taught
If I let you go
I can't let you go, damn if I let you go

From what I gather, Beyonce has a lot to lose if she lets this guy go. All material things, mind you, but hey, who am I to judge? This is coming from a woman whose man, Jay-Z, has lamely gone in and out of "retirement" about 5 million times. Obviously during all this time he has bought her many presents and she is loathe to give them up.

Stop copying my look, B!What I couldn't get over in the video is that during the Basic Instinct-inspired interrogation scene, Beyonce looks EXACTLY like Jennifer Lopez. As in, EXACTLY. I was amazed.

Another great thing about this song and its video is that it inspired a hilarious spoof by some drag queen-looking guy. If you want to laugh, then you should watch this, whether you have ever seen the real video or not. Some of his looks and poses in this are priceless.

But while the song may be good, Beyonce's overall new album, B'Day, is not getting great reviews, thereby making her dangerously close to losing her diva status! The horror!

She doesn't appear to be too worried. She and Jay-Z were most recently seen mingling with Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin, which seems like a very bizarre choice of friends to me.

In the meantime, I will continue enjoying her anger issues through the new song, which I actually am going to download to my iPod today. I think it will serve as a good motivator for a brisk walk in the morning on my way to work, even though I don't have to worry about anyone stealing my "stones" or my Rolls.

- e

Monday, September 25, 2006

A look back

Last week, The Dreaded Day came. For those of you not in living in a warm climate, you know what That Day is. It is The Day You Have to Turn on The Heat for the First Time in the Fall.

I guess I was fortunate this time around because it wasn't really that cold (I am just wimpy), and I have since turned the furnace off again, but still... that day was a rude reminder that you can no longer count on not needing a coat when you leave for work in the morning. It means: the summer is over and fall has arrived. I should've realized that anyway, but since none of my favorite shows have really started back up yet except The Office, it just hadn't hit me.

So I feel that it is time to take a look back at some of the people who provided news and entertainment for us over the summer and get the latest on them.

Is it just me or is he NOT cute?- Lindsay Lohan: When I last wrote about Lindsay, she had just started dating restaurant heir Harry Morton. Just this past week came reports that they had dramatically broken up (and after that came reports that they have since reunited (I'm sure just as dramatically)). Lindsay also lost luggage with millions of dollars of stuff in it and then found it, broke her wrist, performed a bizarre kick dance alone in a parking lot, and in my opinion (fueled by the bizarre kick dance), continues to be on drugs.

Dumb and Dumber.

- Paris Hilton: She ended up getting arrested and charged with a DUI shortly after my post dedicated to her. On top of that, she now has claimed "I'm not like that smart" and also made out with recently separated and totally nasty fugly Travis Barker (proving her statement covered earlier in this sentence). And then on top of all that, she may be faux-reuniting with Nicole Richie.

- Kate Hudson & Owen Wilson: At the time of my post about Kate Hudson's separation from Chris Robinson, her fling with Owen Wilson was all speculation. Now it appears that they are indeed an item - recently vacationing together in Hawaii. It also appears that she has six toes!?! OK, fine... she doesn't, but it really did look like it. I can't believe I'm writing about this.

- Kevin Federline: He has fathered yet another child with the arrival of Sutton Pierce, and has also decided to cut 'Papazao' from his CD and spare himself even more ridicule. Oh wait, he's going to guest star on CSI, so the ridicule will be back in full force after that airs.

Beefy and Wannabe attempt to make themselves relevant.- Jessica Simpson: Literally ONE DAY after reports that Jessica was "in love" with John Mayer surfaced, he high-tailed it out of the relationship (if there ever was one). If JOHN MAYER dumps you, then you are a LOSER! Because he uses lip plumper!?!?! What is this world coming to?!?!? But rest assured that Jessica's daddy was there to dry (and take pictures of) her tears, as he has now made an arrangement to be the main photographer (aka paparazzo) of his own daughters. And as if all of that wasn't ridiculous enough, we then had to witness Jessica's horrible outfit and awkward award introduction at the recent Video Music Awards. Can she please just disappear already? In related news, her ex Nick Lachey and Vanessa "I'm milking this for all it's worth" Minnillo are apparently ready to get married after knowing each other for a mere few weeks.

I'm sure the fall will bring even more drama...

- e

Thursday, September 21, 2006

You got me on my KNEES!

I did not shoot no deputy! A week or so ago, we were invited to go to the Eric Clapton concert. The show was last night, and as I sat there listening, it dawned on me that Eric Clapton is definitely one of those under appreciated artists (at least by me) - who you actually really like, but who just doesn't come to mind that often. I realized with shock that there is not one song of his on my iPod (and I have about 2000 songs on it)?!?!

It's particularly odd because one of the albums that was part of the soundtrack of my freshman year at college was his greatest hits collection, Timepieces. I knew that damn CD inside and out. 'Tears in Heaven' (one of the saddest songs EVER) and 'Running on Faith' were also favorites in the following years (he played the second but not the first, which I'm glad about because I would've bawled my head off), and of course 'Wonderful Tonight' (probably one of the most romantic songs out there, which he also played last night) was the theme song of many a high school prom (including mine). His is just one of those voices that I enjoy no matter what he's singing.

LAAAAAAAAAAAAAY-LA!!!!Some things I have to complain about a little bit, however, were the never-ending jam sessions and prolonged guitar solos. My husband was very excited because there were some renowned guitarists playing on stage with Eric: Robert Cray, Derek Trucks and Doyle Bramhall. Unfortunately for me, they could've been Larry, Curly and Moe and I wouldn't have known the difference. All I knew is that I was extremely tired going in to the concert, and found it hard to keep myself from zoning out when these musical interludes kept going ON and ON and ON.

So I found a few other things that kept my attention, and/or distracted me. First, there were two huge video screens hanging down on either side of the stage. The one closest to me was fine and stable, but the one on the left side of the stage was swinging back and forth precariously. Since it is my nature to assume that the worst is going to happen, I just kept envisioning this screen dropping from the ceiling and crushing all of the people below. Luckily that did not happen, but it never stopped swaying around the entire show, and I actually heard other people commenting on it on the way out. Then every once in a while the backdrop of the entire stage became a video screen, but the problem was that it was just a few beats off of the two other monitors on the side of the stage. That was driving me NUTS. I have been known to spot fractions of a millisecond of audio/video mismatches, so you can imagine my frustration. I mean, who is running these things at the United Center? You would think they would have their act together?!?!

Hey, yo, thanks.Anyway, I DID enjoy the show despite those issues. I also realized that his was one of the first old-school concerts I've been to in a while - no crazy dancers and performers and graphic effect shows and props (a la Madonna), no crowd gimmicks (a la Coldplay), just Clapton and his boys and his backup singers having a good time. He sang many of the songs I know and love, and even those I didn't know, I enjoyed. He was just in jeans and a button down, and seemed like a really down-to-earth guy. Why I got this impression I can't really say, because he literally - I kid you not - said three words to the audience over the course of about 2.5 hours (aside from band members' names). They were: "Hey!" "Yo!" and "Thanks!" A man of few words, there's not enough of those out there.

- e

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Press 1 for a pleasant surprise

I realize that I spend a lot of time being kind of negative on this blog - ripping on celebrities, talking about my pet peeves - so I felt compelled to share a recent experience that absolutely made my day.

I received excellent customer service!!!!

Yes, I know this is hard to believe, but it's true, it can still happen every once in a while. I only had to deal with an automated phone tree for a few seconds (and it worked correctly), I got a live human being who sounded like she was actually in the United States, she spoke English, she was not bitter at the world, and not only did she handle the complaint I was calling about to my satisfaction, I hung up with an even better deal than I had going into the call.

And here is the real shocker: The company is (the now absolutely gigantic) AT&T/SBC.

Could it be - a merger that worked?

I was calling because the DSL part of my bill randomly went up $20 this past month. The bill itself is a joke - there are no less than 20 line items in the DSL section - tons of credits and debits canceling each other out - it is literally impossible to decipher. All I know is that I had gotten many flyers in the mail about how I could sign up for all these faster-speed DSL plans, but they locked you in for a year, and the fine print talked about also needing to pay about $200 for new equipment, a service visit and software. Thanks, but no thanks... our current set-up works fine and I didn't want to mess with it. I knew that the price would go up about $10 a month if I didn't select an official plan, but then we weren't locked in for any period of time, and there were no other fees.

I didn't respond to any of the mailers and figured I would see the new charge one day.

Then it went up to $20, the service plan completely changed names, and I had no idea how to make sense of the bill. The payment due date was nearing, so I had to figure it out.

The way it actually is most of the time...Some people hate going to the dentist, some people hate shopping for bathing suits, some people hate being stuck in traffic... I HATE CALLING THE PHONE COMPANY. Or really any utility company, for that matter... especially when there's a billing issue.

So what did I do? I told my husband to call them.
Nearly a week went by and he "couldn't find the time" to call them. Subconsciously I think I knew I would end up calling (and so did he) and that it was better if I did so, because I know the history of the bills as well as the content of the flyers that were sent to us.

And so I called, settling into a chair with a big cup of tea, extremely low expectations, and prepared for a fight.

I dream of JennyI get "Jenny." And before I go any further, let me tell you my basic approach to almost ALL dealings with other humans in life.

It's called: "Being nice."

It is not Jenny's fault that my bill is configured by some insane accountant who loves confusing people with multiple charges and refunds all on one bill. It is not Jenny's fault that two behemoth companies merged and now everyone's confused about which bill they're paying. It is not Jenny's fault that the marketing people sent me a flyer with a price for a plan that never transpired on my actual bill. And even if Jenny gives me major attitude, I'm not going to get anywhere talking down to her or making her feel like all of these things ARE her fault.

So, when she asks why I'm calling, I take a deep breath and explain the situation and then wait. I wait for the inevitable backpedaling, excuse-dealing, apathy, incompetence and overall defensiveness and snottiness I've come to expect from these sorts of calls.

But instead I heard, "I can help you with that!" She then proceeded to tell me what the price should have been - and it was indeed the price I saw on the flyer. I said, "That's right." And while she had been looking up my account information, I made small talk about how "you all must be going crazy with the merger... I know what that's like." The empathy seemed to be appreciated.

Suddenly my cube doesn't seem so bad...And instead of offering me some bizarro plan that would never make any sense for me, she said, "Do you intend to still be using your DSL for a while?" And I said yes. She replied, "Well, there's a plan that's only $19.99 a month if you commit for a year." And I countered, "Yeah, I saw that one on the flyer, but the fine print said you had to get upgraded equipment and a service visit for about $200." That part was kind of a lie, because there was no plan for only $19.99 on the flyer I saw. But regardless, she went on to say that I could indeed lock in $19.99 a month for a year and nothing about the service would change and no one would have to come out and there would be no other fees. Nothing except the price would change, and it would be about $15 a month lower than what I had been prepared to pay.

So then I said, "Well, are there still going to be ten million charges and credits on each bill - will this make it even more confusing?" And she said, "No, there will be one charge and one credit for this discounted plan."

How could I refuse? I accepted that rate for a year, politely listened through two more of her ideas, and then hung up genuinely shocked. I really almost thought I had dreamt the whole experience. I then announced my huge triumph to my husband, which was a bad idea, because now I am DEFINITELY going to get stuck with these sorts of tasks forever and ever into the future.

But if all of those calls were as quick and painless as the one with Jenny, then I'll take that over some other dreaded household chore any day.

Jenny, whoever you are and wherever you are - thanks for not causing my blood pressure to rise on an otherwise lazy Saturday. Please clone yourself and staff the entire call center with Jennys.

- e

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Pet Peeve of the Week: Cosmetic product marketing and the fact that I buy into it

Aging happens. And if you are like me and you can't even stand seeing a needle much less getting pricked by one - then you probably wouldn't consider voluntarily going under the knife for any sort of cosmetic enhancement in the future. Yet you may still want to do whatever you can to counteract the effects of time on your skin.

Enter the cosmetic industry and its product marketing geniuses, who know all too well that there is a huge market out there of both men and women who will pay good money for any sort of topical solution that claims to slow down the ticking of the clock, or even out skin tone, or "firm and tighten," or "plump" - you name it. There is an outright slew of ads and infomercials running right now that speak to this "I want to look good but don't want to have surgery in order to do so" segment. I am a card-carrying member of that segment, and have the product receipts to prove it.

But the frustrating and slightly humorous part about this is that deep down I KNOW this crap isn't really going to work - or at least it's not going to work so well that anyone else besides me notices. How do I know this? Because I consulted to a major dermatologist firm about 6 years ago for 1.5 years, and learned more than anyone (who is not actually a doctor) would ever want to know about this topic.

Alas, that knowledge still hasn't stopped me from getting sucked in by the hype. I have tried out many of the most advertised cosmetic "solutions" out there, so I feel compelled to give you my opinion, because a few are OK.

Freeze!  You will be wasting your money if you buy this!Freeze 24/7 (for wrinkles) - $115.

I had seen this product hailed in nearly every magazine that I read, and everyone was saying that it was a miracle worker. People had done tests with it where they put some of it on one palm and none on the other... and the palm with the cream on it actually smoothed out all of the person's palm lines?!?! I thought, "Wow, that is hard-core!"

There was a tester jar of it in a store I was at recently, so I put some on. I definitely felt a tingling sensation, so I thought, "This must be working." About an hour later, I was in Ulta, and thought I would be all clever and use my 20% off coupon to buy Freeze there. Alas, that product was one of the few that couldn't have any discounts applied, which I found out after I bought it. D'ah! I have since put it on a few times, and even put it on one half of my forehead and asked my husband to guess which side it was on. He guess the WRONG side, and I will be taking the jar back today (which I just realized recently you can do with ALL cosmetics - return them if you don't like them!). Anyway, I will say that Freeze definitely does something, but I don't like the feel of it. It kind of lightens your skin, mattifies it (if that's a word) and makes it feel extremely EXTREMELY tight, like you have a mud mask on or something. But there was no real noticeable effect on any wrinkles (which they touted would be immediate), and I think if I would have tried to put makeup on over it, it would've been tough - it's kind of paste-like when it dries. So thumbs down on this one.

No, I am sad to say that it's not going to be better than Botox.StriVectin (for wrinkles) - Around $100.

If you have not seen the "Better than Botox?" ads, then you must not read ANYTHING. They are all over the place. You must admit, this was and still is a brilliant marketing campaign. Unfortunately, this stuff doesn't really do anything, and as my dermatologist calmly repeats every single time I go see him: "You are already using the best stuff there is for wrinkles. The only topical solution that has proven to work in clinical studies over the course of time is tretinoin" (better known as Retin-A or one of its offshoots).

But I had bought StriVection when it first came out and before I knew about the whole "you can take back cosmetics" thing, so I still use it every morning for some unknown reason (and Retin-A at night). The huge bottle has lasted two years so far!?!

Prescriptives Super Line Preventor (for wrinkles) - not sure of real cost - like $55 maybe?

No verdict yet...I was given a pretty large-sized tester of this free not too long ago (it is going to last me FOREVER), and have put it on my forehead a few times, but I think it may be causing me to have a slight allergic reaction. So as of right now, I do not have enough information to be able to comment. Does anyone else like it out there?

Frownies (for wrinkles) - I don't remember cost, but it's not a lot.

Fun with stickers!Have you heard of these things? The supposed "secret of movie stars" like Meryl Streep and Rene Russo? They are these crazy sticker pads that you moisten and put on wrinkles and leave on overnight. Over a matter of weeks, they are supposed to "re-train" your wrinkles/muscles and smooth them out. Quite frankly, I've just never had the patience to keep putting them on night after night. You need to smooth out the area you want to put them on with one hand, apply the sticker thing with another, hold it there for 3 minutes... it's actually kind of stressful. Maybe one day I will become motivated enough to keep them going for weeks on end, but not just yet. The other thing is that my face is always puffy when I wake up, so I have big indent marks around where the sticker is, and sometimes they haven't gone away even after I take a shower! So I can't chance going into the office and getting strange looks (or stranger looks than I already get on a normal day).

Retin-A (for wrinkles) - Prescription.

This stuff DOES work. How do I know? Because I did one of the scariest things of all time - the UV Light Test. Back in grad school, the health care unit did this big fair on campus and they had one of these sophisticated machines, which I had read all about in health and beauty magazines. The kind that basically show you what you are going to look like when you are old by putting you under this special kind of UV light that shows underlying age spots and wrinkles and whatnot. You can pay good money to get one of these tests because not too many places have the machine - and here I was with the chance to do it for free.

Help me Retin-A, you're my only hope!But the reason why I was so scared to do it is because I had spent about 9 years of my life on and off in tanning booths. Yes, I realize this is idiotic, but YOU go back in time and tell that to my teenage self. Everyone has their vice, and mine was tanning. On top of that, skin cancer runs in my family. After my consulting gig with the pharmaceutical firm, I pretty much quit intentionally being out in the sun cold turkey. But now it was time to face the facts by looking into a mirror while under the UV booth thingamajig.

Aaahhh, my skin!Why Retina-A works was extremely obvious when I was under the light. I only use it on my forehead, nowhere else. In the UV Booth, my forehead was almost COMPLETELY FREE of age spots and/or other scary marks, whereas the rest of my face looked like I was going to become the old hag woman that the Queen from Snow White turned into when she head out with the poison apple. It was all freckly and age spot-y and mottled. I was in disbelief. If you ever want to become completely depressed, trust me - take that test.

I have since tried to use Retin-A elsewhere on my face, but the rest of my skin outside of my forehead can only handle it about every 4th day. Do I still have wrinkles on my forehead? Yes, of course I do. There's no way to NOT have wrinkles without surgery once you're in your 30s. But should they have and could they be much worse, considering my sordid tanning past? Definitely.

Hylexin (dark undereye circles) - Around $100

Umm - if you really have THAT dark of circles, then you've got problems. Coming to you from the same "Better than Botox?" marketing gurus is Hylexin for undereye circles. As I was also blessed with this problem (thanks for the genes, mom!), I of course had to run out and buy this after reading an article in Lucky magazine where they had put it on one eye and not the other for a few weeks and noticed an actual difference. There are also other sites that have (possibly fake) before and after pictures.

I WAS able to scam at Ulta with this product and get 20% odd with a coupon, so I was very happy about that. So happy that I bought it twice. But what I forgot to do was the same "only one eye" test on myself, so now I'm too scared to ever stop using this cream because I forgot what I looked like before and I don't know if it was significantly different. I do feel like it works a little bit, so I think I will keep using it, and maybe eventually I'll get brave enough to just do one eye for a while and see if I really can justify the expense on an ongoing basis. So the jury's still out on this one. Regardless, I still have to use undereye concealer (all hail Laura Mercier!), so it is not like Hylexin performs miracles.

L'Oreal Sublime Slim (firming body gel) - Around $8.

Doesn't work!!!I am not a fan of this product. It is sticky even after it dries and I just didn't feel it did anything, despite all of its "#1 product in Europe!" claims and supposed test results. You get what you pay for sometimes...

Estee Lauder Slim Shape (firming body gel) - $50.

All Hail This Bottle!This stuff WORKS and it rocks the house, if I do say so myself. Will it completely firm up your "problem areas" - no. Nothing will. We all have to deal with that. But it did, in my opinion, result in a significant, visible-to-the-naked-eye improvement. It is $50 a pop (you go through it fast, too) and works best if you use it twice a day - and the kicker is you pretty much have to wait a few weeks to start really seeing results, and you then cannot stop using it or the effects go away. It's like crack for your skin. But to me, it is worth it - it is my main indulgence I allow myself to get. The problem is, it is getting harder and harder to find!

ESTEE LAUDER PEEPS - what are you doing?!?!?! You need to market the hell out of this thing?!?!?! Everyone I know who has used this loves it. Two thumbs up from e.

So there you have it, my opinions on what I have tried. Despite the fact that I'm complaining about myself actually buying into the product hype... I still just have to end on this note: if there are any other products any of you reading this out there have tried and love - it is your duty to report them in the comments!!!

- e

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Crack ain't the only thing that's wack...

Love is blind.
Earlier this week, people around the world could hear Whitney Houston belting out, "And I.............eeeeeeeeeeeiiiiiiiiiiiiiii no longer love youuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu" to Bobby Brown. Or perhaps she didn't because she has no more energy left after taking every drug known to mankind.

Yes, it really isn't surprising to hear that these two are getting a divorce, is it? They had proven to be a dangerous combination early on in their union, and a series of domestic violence claims surfaced against Bobby over the years.

Then came the stories of drug use that seemed to get worse and worse. Bobby has not one, not two, but three mug shots from his various arrests. And of course there's also the infamous "Crack is wack" interview that Whitney did in 2002 with Diane Sawyer. My friends and I (shout-out to MK) still laugh about it to this day. I'm sorry, but when you are trying to convince people that you aren't on the crack rock, you don't use: "Where are the receipts? Show me the receipts!" as an excuse. Because, um... I don't think Whitney's friendly dealer is giving out receipts for crack Walgreens-style. Also, what irony is there in this statement, which was once again trying to prove that she does NOT do drugs: "Crack is cheap. I make too much for me to ever smoke crack. Let's get that straight, OK? I don't do crack. I don't do that. Crack is wack." It was like she was about to add: "But I WILL do x, y and z drugs, because those are for rich people."

I remember sitting in my friend's apartment in grad school with a few people watching the interview, and all of our mouths were just gaping open. It was truly unbelievable, and so bad it was good.

But not as unbelievable as this picture comparing Whitney before and after the height of her fame:

This picture: The Anti-Drug

It really is a damn shame.

Last year, the drug-lovin' duo returned to the spotlight out of nowhere with a short-lived, yet highly talked about reality show, Being Bobby Brown. If you haven't heard about the infamous bathroom scene, well then you can see it here.

And then pictures were released (seemingly by Whitney's sister-in-law) of Whitney's trashed bathroom - littered with drug paraphernalia.

All I could think over and over again during the course of Bobby and Whitney's marriage was, "Their poor daughter." Though it looks like they threw her a nice birthday party ...

Here's to hoping that both Bobby and Whitney get some serious help. I was never really a fan of either of them, but it is especially painful to watch how far Whitney has fallen. And I did like The Bodyguard.

They better not get back together, but I have a bad feeling they will.

- e

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The last of the Federline offspring? Let's hope so.

Britney had her second baby, another boy. Via "scheduled cesarean." Because you know, you've got to schedule your hair cuts, your massages, your vacations, your manicures and pedicures... and of course, your C-sections.

Let's hope it's her last child - I think 4 kids is enough for Kevin to handle right now, since he basically has no job and is a pot-smoking loser. And Britney gave birth to two children with only a year in between (Sean Preston was born on 9/14/05).

As the good people at E! Online so eloquently pointed out:

"An even more prolific procreator than Spears, Federline is now officially the father of four, including two from a previous relationship with former Moesha actress Shar Jackson.
On average, the 28-year-old Federline has fathered a baby every seven years. If one throws out his presumed prepuberty years, the aspiring rapper and penny proponent has averaged, from age 13 on, one child tax credit every 3.75 years."

Somebody STOP them!

- e

Monday, September 11, 2006

I wanna be sedated... or WHAT HAPPENED to Jordan Catalano?!?!

The good ol' days. My dear friends -

When recently watching the MTV Video Music Awards, I was struck by two thoughts:

1) "Back in MY day... MTV actually PLAYED videos!!! Who are all these bands??!?! This show SUCKS."


2) "What in the hell happened to Jordan Catalano?!?!?"

Both of these questions made me realize that I am old. But that's another topic. Today's area of focus is the actor Jared Leto, known to many females across the USA only as his character Jordan Catalano from My So-Called Life. The question of the hour is: Why has he taken such a drastic nose-dive in the looks, fashion and coolness departments?

Going for the Oscar.
I will forgive him for gaining 62 pounds for playing John Lennon's assassin in the upcoming movie Chapter 27. And I will even look past the gross fact that he got a case of the gout because of said weight gain and subsequent loss. By the way, what in the hell is gout? That's one of those things you just don't hear about anymore.

I digress.

So I will forgive Jordan, I mean Jared, for those things, but I cannot look past his ultra- ultra-cheesy-trying-way-to-hard-to-be-a-hip-rocker appearance at the VMAs. A scarf, eyeliner and dour expression do not a rock star make!

This look inspires me to write really deep lyrics, man.

What an idiot.And I pretty much don't even care if his band, 30 Seconds to Mars, is any good or not. They have a freaky video that's a rip-off of The Shining, so that upset me because that's the scariest movie I've ever seen and I don't like to be reminded of it. And quite honestly, nothing he could do with his band will ever beat his performance of The Ramones' "I Wanna Be Sedated" when he filled in for a stage-frightened Rayanne on MS-CL. Dammit, that was a great show.

After that series ended, he was best known for... his dating exploits.

Cameron Diaz, Scarlett Johansson, Lindsay Lohan, an Olsen twin or two, and a bevy of other young girls about half his age. However, the word on the street is that he treated them all like crap. I mean, would YOU be concerned with your text messaging if YOU were in his position in this photo?

But for whatever reason, the girlies still seem to love Leto despite his severely declining looks and lack of talent. Resistance to the Power of Jordan is futile, it seems.

- e

Friday, September 08, 2006

Q: Who's the biggest loser of them all?

A: It is very hard for me to decide in the whole Heather Locklear/Richie Sambora/Denise Richards/Charlie Sheen debacle.

Why am I even bringing this up, when they all finally stopped being plastered across the covers of every magazine out there?

What is wrong with this picture?Because rumors arose today that Richie and Denise got engaged a few days ago. Do I really care? No, I don't. However, when I really think about it, I find the whole situation kind of amusing, because I think all four of these people are lame.

Here's why:

Richie Sambora: Ummmm.... let's just take a long, hard look at this man.

He is definitely "the winner" in this whole situation. He was married to Heather Locklear and is now dating Denise Richards!?!?! What in the heck did this guy do in a past life to warrant such great karma passed his way?

Because it certainly wasn't contributing to the likes of "Blaze of Glory" or "Wanted: Dead or Alive" (though I can't lie and say I don't like "Bad Medicine" and "Livin' on a Prayer"...).

There is just no excuse for this.
Maybe he's a really nice guy. You know what, I'm sure he is! But I just don't get his appeal. Anyone who had hair like that back in the day is suspect - I don't care that it was the 80s and he was 'in a band.'

Denise Richards: Denise Richards has no career (no boys... that scene in Wild Things doesn't count as a career...) and from interviews I've seen with her, she seems quite dumb. Actually, I guess she proved her stupidity by marrying Charlie Sheen.

Public Service Announcement: Most people don't have the ability to change THAT much. This guy had a notorious past, and since he did not leave the spotlight, was still getting paid millions between his TV show and other acting work, and still hangs out with the party crowd, it doesn't take much to guess that he would be back around to some of his old ways at some point.

However, even though she may be an idiot for marrying him in the first place, that doesn't justify anything he may have done to her (she accused him of making threats to kill her, etc.). It's hard to know who's telling the truth in this whole mess, but I would bet that Charlie is guilty of some of the accusations. Regardless, they have finally "amicably settled" the dispute.

How I choose to remember Charlie.Charlie Sheen: As I alluded to above, this guy has issues. Basically the only cool thing he has done (in my opinion) was his small role in Ferris Bueller's Day Off (where he played... big stretch... a drug addict).

Now he just looks like a middle-aged wannabe trying to relive his glory days. And what is UP with him launching a kids clothing line - Sheen Kidz? Who in the HELL would buy clothes for their children that would put more money in the pockets of a guy accused of being addicted to underage porn!?! And what's more, who in the hell would go into business with this guy to do just that? Oh, that's right: Britney Spears. This world never ceases to amaze me.

Charlie has of course somehow managed to still land another girlfriend despite all evidence proving that everyone (men and women) should stay about 6 feet away from him at all times.

So that leaves us to discuss Charlie's old co-worker on Spin City - forever Amanda on Melrose Place to me - Heather Locklear.

Words: Unnecessary.Heather Locklear: I would say that Heather is by far the least loser-ish of this bunch. But I still have issues with her because I have read a lot of things that said she made life a living hell for Richie and that everyone in Bon Jovi hated her because of it.

Actually, the biggest issue I have with her is that she was married to Tommy Lee, a sure sign of stupidity. What IS IT with these women attracted to "bad boys" in the worst sense of the term?

After her split with Richie, she rebounded with David Spade, but now appears to be dating an equally unattractive guy. Shudder.

Who I really feel bad for in this situation are the kids - Denise and Charlie's two daughters and Heather and Richie's daughter. Imagine having such wack-jobs as parents? And I'm sure before they're grown, each of their parents will have dated/married/divorced at least a dozen other equally strange characters. Let's just hope we don't have to read about it.

- e

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

SHE EXISTS!?!!!?!?

Quick mom, let's make a run for it!

I admit, I was skeptical.

And I am STILL skeptical after seeing these pictures - is it just me, or does Suri have enough hair to already be like 2 years old? I immediately thought, "Hmmm, Tom said right after the birth that she had this thick head of hair... so did they just find a baby to fit that description? Is it a wig? Is it airbrushed on?" Fear not, there are still many theories flying around the Internet after these pictures were released about whether or not this is actually their baby.

Poor baby Suri, no matter who she really is. Subject of so many conspiracy theories and so much speculation, and will be for years to come as long as she is living under the same roof as Mr. Freaktastic. I DO see enough of a similarity to think it IS their baby. And luckily for her, I think she looks more like Katie than Tom.

Daddy, you scare me!  Get away!

I do find the timing of the release of these pictures to be suspect. Tom gets fired from his agency for being crazy (and yes, they pretty much gave that as the reason)... and then the next thing you know, his camp retailiates with not one, not two, but count 'em - THREE "positive" stories.

First, Tom "lands on his feet" by securing backing to make movies (albeit not THAT much funding) from a hedge fund.

Second, he apologizes to Brooke Shields. Now, once again, the FIRST thing I thought when I read this was, "Perhaps Katie is having some post-partum depression (or just overall depression as she is realizing the huge mistake she made) and some sense has been knocked into him." Others also suspected something fishy going on with his apology to Shields. I don't actually think he's changed any of his views (and pretty much said he hasn't, he just wanted to mend his friendship with Brooke), I just think his new agent/PR person is smart enough to know that he needs to start at least APPEARING to be normal and make amends.

And finally, the long sought after baby pictures were released.

Something just still isn't sitting right with me though. I cannot read excerpts of the Vanity Fair article, which claim that Katie's parents were there and got along fine with Tom, and that they (the journalists) spent 5 days with Tom and Katie and all was normal, and not suspect that Tom just paid them off to say those things as he has been rumored to pay others off for similar favors in the past. I cannot read the Vanity Fair article, after having read so many other articles from so many other sources claiming that Katie looks and acts like a miserable robot when seen out in public, to not think that something is up.

But I will say that I'm happy to see that the baby, no matter where they got her from, looks healthy and cute. I hope she and Katie are able to escape soon!

A happy family?

- e