Friday, June 03, 2011



If you’re a techie who keeps abreast of the latest in cell phone gadgetry, you’ll hold iPhone’s newest application near and dear to your heart. If you’re just curious about what you or your sweetie would look like with certain, er, “physical enhancements,” this is one invention you’ll definitely cleave to your bosom.

Say hello to iAugment, a free iPhone app that gives women a virtual visualization – of what they would look with, um, a bit more bounce. The Photoshop-style tool allows users to take a picture of themselves and increase their, uh, “décolletage” using more than a dozen 3D (or should I say 3-double-D?) implant sizes.

Before you make a boob of yourself and assume that a man invented iAugment, it’s actually the brainchild of New Orleans plastic surgeon Elizabeth Kinsley, who created the app with Touch Studios, which develops custom apps for iPhone, Droid, Blackberry and iPad, as well as programs for Facebook.

“This is designed to give them the best idea possible of how they might look after surgery,” Kinsley said. “You can show your friends, your boyfriend or your husband and say ‘what do you think?’”

iAugment also includes the option to find a plastic surgeon near you, which might support Kinsley’s claim that the app is meant for women considering going under the knife were it not for several users’ discovery that the nearest (and only) recommended surgeon is Kinsley herself.

Serious purposes notwithstanding, there’s no doubt a lot of folks won’t give a hoot about the app’s intended use and will download it strictly for entertainment value. I, of course, would NEVER engage in such juvenile tomfoolery, but I DO have a “friend” who tried out the app using pictures of numerous celebrities – some of them female – with hilarious results.

The application is selling so fast, stores can scarcely keep ‘em on the racks, and if the scores of positive online reviews I read are any indication, iAugment won’t be going bust anytime soon:

“What an awesome app! Scheduled my appointment 2day!”

“I downloaded it for my wife, she loves this app.”

“I just have it for making funny pics!”

“I wish that it could go to extremely absurd sizes … I don't care what its true purpose is.”

“Great fun. Works on your butt, too.”

“I'm a guy … how I can undo this?”

A word of caution, though: Dangerously close to iAugment’s “Save” button is another button that posts your results to Facebook. One wrong move and you’ll be saying “ta-ta” to your dignity.

Friday, May 20, 2011



It was the wedding of the century for Anglophiles, adorers of all things British including The Spice Girls, Chumbawamba, and spotted dick.

Like his father Charles’ fairytale wedding three decades before, Prince William’s news-making nuptials last month captured hearts and headlines around the globe. Starry-eyed romantics set alarm clocks and DVRs, determined not to miss the ballyhooed event; some fanatics took it a step further, like Teresa Cunningham, a Missouri woman who said “cheerio” to her job and flew to London to camp outside Westminster Abbey the night before the joyous event.

The bouquet tossing, rice throwing, hailing and farewelling may be over, but Royal Wedding Insanity certainly isn’t. As the pomp, publicity and paparazzi surrounding the April 29 ceremony dwindle, the money-making merchandise machine is just getting warmed up.

Prince Charles and Lady Di’s vow-swapping spawned an endless line of garish plates and mugs, but that memorabilia doesn’t hold a Union Jack-emblazoned candle to the chintzy chotchkes, crazy collectibles and strange souvenirs being sold to commemorate the union of “Wills” and Kate Middleton. There’s virtually something for everyone, though I doubt anyone but hardcore fans would want most of these items:

Royal Wedding Silk Knickers (that’s “panties” to us Yanks) – Keep the Royals close to your, um, heart by ordering these crown-

and-frill-bedecked bloomers for $11.52 on Ebay.

William and “KaTEA” Bags
– ‘Cause nothing says “romance” more than watching the happy couple drown in a sea of Earl Grey.


Royal Cellphone – Features “God Save the Queen” as its ringtone. You’ll want to drop this phone in the toilet after a couple of hours of having to stand up every time you get a call.

Royal Wedding Sick Bags – Bloody perfect for folks who are royally sick of all the hoopla and feel like “throne up.” (

Papa John’s Will and Kate Pizza – Mushrooms, peppers, olives, pepperoni and other toppings make up the likeness of the couple on this pie selling for $500 - that's a lotsa mozzarella! Though not sold in the U.S., the very idea makes me want to reach for a Royal Wedding Sick Bag.

Will and Kate PEZ – With England’s history of beheading kings, who WOULDN’T want to eat candy from the gaping neck-holes of the royals?

Crown Jewel Condoms – Sales slogan: “Lie back and think of England.” Blimey!

Hopefully, these and other madcap mementos will make their way to home shopping channels. After all, Teresa Cunningham needs something to occupy her newfound free time.

Friday, May 06, 2011



As the Carpenters and Neil Sedaka before them sang, “Breaking up is hard to do.”

Sometimes relationships start with a spark but fizzle out, sometimes they’re fractured by infidelity, sometimes the chemistry just isn’t there, sometimes people simply grow apart. And sometimes, the rose not only falls off the bloom, it’s ripped from the vine before it even has a chance to blossom.

Most of us have had relationships fraught with red flags of warning, couplings we knew early on just weren’t going to work out. But in some cases, the realization blindsides us and brings the liaison to a screeching halt, sometimes even on the first date. Something happens, something so jarringly unacceptable – an action, insult, or cringe-inducing discovery about our honey-bunnies – that douses the flames of passion and leaves us boggle-minded and reeling.

This is the moment commonly known as “the deal-breaker.”

I’m not talking about run-of-the-mill complaints like, “She squeezes the toothpaste from the top,” or “He puts the empty milk carton back in the fridge.” That’s mere nitpickery compared to the breakups chronicled on Robert K. Elder’s blog, “It Was Over When: Tales of Romantic Dead Ends” and his book by the same name. The tales of good love gone bad are sad, stupefying, hilarious and often unprintable in a family newspaper. If you think you’ve dated some jerks, freaks and psychos, you’re bound to feel better about your own failed affairs of the heart after reading user-submitted stories like:

“It Was Over When …”

* “… she wanted us to drink each other’s blood so we would always be together.”

* “… he sent me some online weight loss tips.”

* “ … he wanted to go to Kohl’s and buy me underwear that he had bought his wife.”

* “…she said, ‘If you go to sleep tonite [sic] you will not wake up tomorrow.’”

* “ … (My son’s principal) informed me it was against school policy for my husband to pick up a senior cheerleader for lunch dates.”

* “I caught her in a cheap motel with a co-worker. Her mom was in another room with a friend of the co-worker.”

* “He refused to use nail clippers, instead pulling his foot up to his mouth and chewing off his toenails! Then he spit them out on my carpet!”

* “I placed a fake ad on the personals page of a local paper pretending to be exactly the kind of guy I thought she’d like. The ad only got one response, and it was from my wife.”

* “Two days after my best guy friend passed away, my boyfriend said, ‘Now I probably won’t feel jealous anymore.’”

These are interesting reading, but I’d love to see a blog called “It Was Over When: Celebrity Version.” I’d wager that Charlie Sheen’s ex-goddess is just itching to write, “It was over when he cleared all my bottled water out of the fridge to make room for his tiger blood.”

Friday, April 22, 2011



Easter means different things to different people. For some, it’s about commemorating the Resurrection of Jesus; for others, it’s a time for chocolate rabbits, jellybeans and psychedelic eggs; for many, it’s both. One thing’s for sure: For most of us, the day at some point will involve the consumption of ridiculous amounts of ham.

What to do after three helpings of cheesy potatoes have turned you into a couch potato? While you’re sitting around waiting for your belly to recede so you can re-button your pants, why not add some timely movie viewing to your Sunday celebration?

No column about Easter movies should overlook such praiseworthy films as “The Passion of the Christ,” “The Greatest Story Ever Told,” and “The King of Kings.” But if your sights are set on the secular scene, here are some screen gems to put in your basket:

It's the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown” (1974)
The Peanuts Gang is gearing up for Easter with visions of rainbow-hued eggs dancing in their heads – except for perpetual wet blanket Linus, who’s telling anyone within earshot that the Easter Beagle will take care of everything. Fortunately, things pan out a little better for young Mr. Van Pelt than in the embarrassing Great Pumpkin Debacle of 1966.

Easter Parade” (1948)
Don Hewes (Fred Astaire) is crushed when his partner (Ann Miller) ends their partnership to go solo. To prove he can make it without her, he goes all Simon Cowell and vows to make a star of a random performer. He chooses Hannah Brown (Judy Garland) and the dancefest is on like Donkey Kong. The Irving Berlin score includes the well-known tunes “Steppin' Out With My Baby” and “We're a Couple of Swells.”

Animated seasonal specials are a trademark of the legendary Arthur Rankin Jr. and Jules Bass, so here’s a triple tip o’ the hat to the gentlemen who produced these Easter classics:

Here Comes Peter Cottontail” (1971)
Pete goes toe-to-toe with the evil Irontail in a competition to be the chief Easter Bunny. The top-notch casting includes the voices of Danny Kaye as Seymour S. Sassafras, Antoine and Col. Wellington B. Bunny, Vincent Prince as January Q. Irontail, and Casey Kasem as Peter Cottontail.

The First Easter Rabbit” (1976)
Any cartoon narrated by the great Burl Ives is a good time. Loosely based on “The Velveteen Rabbit,” it’s the tale of a stuffed rabbit that comes to life and accepts a mission to deliver Easter treats to the children of Easter Valley, a beautiful land where it’s always sunny – kinda like Palm Springs without the retirees. When a villain tries to cancel Easter by freezing the valley, Stuffy triumphs with the help of friends including Rankin/Bass’ most often recurring character, Santa Claus.

"The Easter Bunny is Comin' to Town" (1977)
Featuring the voice of Fred Astaire, this is the story of Sunny the Bunny’s efforts to deliver Easter treats to a town with no kids, aided by his friends from Kidville, a town populated ONLY by kids – kinda like “Children of the Corn” without the killing.

Friday, April 08, 2011



Once upon a time, there was a Little Mermaid who fell in love with a prince after saving his life. But if you’re thinking the prince loved her back, she became human and they lived happily ever after in a fairyland where unicorns breathe clouds of cotton candy, you’ve fallen hook, line and sinker for the romanticized version of this story.

While watching the 1989 Disney blockbuster with my nine-year-old niece, I didn’t have the heart to tell her the truth according to Hans Christian Andersen: “Happily ever after” only happens for the prince – that cad – who marries a princess while the Little Mermaid and her stomped-on heart float away to spend eternity as a blob of sea foam.

Disney movies occasionally show the darker side of the tales upon which the films are based (e.g., the death of Bambi’s mother), but for the most part, the end results bear little resemblance to the originals. After researching some of the stories that spawned the sanitized silver screen adaptations, I decided this is one instance when ignorance really IS bliss. A comparative look at the original and Disney-fied versions of two more tales will convince you to keep those kiddies naïve, Mom and Dad, unless you’re ready for months of sleepless nights and a huge therapy bill.


According to Disney: A little wooden boy goes through trials and tribulations (including, of course, lying-induced nose extension), and learns valuable life lessons along the way to becoming a real boy. He and beloved father/creator Geppetto live happily ever after.

Originally: Carlo Callodi’s ending found Pinocchio hanged from a tree (which may or may not have been his father; DNA results from Maury Povich are pending). Depending on which version you read, Puppetboy is turned into a donkey, tossed into the sea, devoured by a school of ravenous fish, and/or gets his feet burned off. To put it mildly, the kid’s life is one bummer after another.


According to Disney: Though Bambi loses his mother, he goes on to become a stud who offs a rival buck and a pack of hunting dogs, lands a hottie named Faline, and becomes the new prince of the forest, as well as the proud father of twins.

Originally: In Felix Salten’s novel, not only is Bambi traumatized by his mother’s death, he seems to be a death magnet for small woodland creatures. His squirrel buddy (whom Disney changed to Thumper the rabbit) gets shot and dies. Bambi then befriends another squirrel … who also gets shot and dies. The moral of the story: If you’re a squirrel with a friend named Bambi, keep your life insurance policy current.

I won’t even get into the truth about “Rapunzel” (hint: It’s a weave). Kinda makes you long for the simpler days when the worst thing that happened to a fairytale kid was being kidnapped, force-fed and almost cooked by a witch.

Friday, March 25, 2011



We're well into the second week of Daylight Saving Time and all my clocks have been adjusted except my internal one. "Spring forward, fall back" isn’t just a catchy reminder; it’s also a good description of my attempts to get out of bed each morning for at least a month after losing that precious hour of sleep. The time change throws me into a bleary-eyed fog so thick that I found myself at 2 a.m. on Sunday, March 13, trying to set the bathroom scale ahead an ounce.

Contrary to popular belief, DST wasn’t implemented by aliens to keep earthlings in a state of subdued disorientation (which makes all that probing much easier), nor was it instituted to stiff graveyard shifters out of an hour’s pay. DST was first adopted during WWI to replace artificial lighting with extended daylight hours, thus saving energy needed for war production. I get that. But it’s 2011, and what once was practicality has become a pestilence for many, especially first-shift employees. Trust me, the roads are much safer with me driving to work by the dawn’s early light rather than navigating the murky darkness with eyes at half-mast and brain cells on E.

I asked a random sampling of friends why DST started and was surprised to learn how many folks mistakenly believe "it had something to do with helping farmers, right?" Wrong. In fact, farmers generally oppose DST because it affects harvesting, reduces labor time in the summer, and confuses the heck out of the animals because they don’t wear watches.

It’s said that DST also hurts prime-time TV ratings. I can vouch for that: DST caused me to missed a half-season of "Frasier" in the mid-‘90s because it took me three months to figure out what time it was on. It also took me that long to figure out I’d forgotten to turn the living room clock back, but that’s beside the point.

Obviously, I’m not a fan of the spring-forward concept, but falling back? I’m all for that! Yes, I know we’re fooling ourselves into thinking we’re getting an extra hour when really, it’s just a refund of what we lost in March, but who doesn’t still look forward to that 60-minute bonus, real or imagined? Some parents, that’s who. Like animals, most toddlers don’t wear watches, so the beginning or end of DST doesn’t make a whit of difference to them. As a friend with a 1-year-old told me, "I think, ‘Wow, she slept till 6! Then I realize it just 5 a.m. posing as 6 a.m. It’s still 5 a.m.!" Yet another reason I’m not a parent. (Or a farmer.)

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to deep-six all this time-shifting tomfoolery. I'm moving to Djibouti, which not only ignores DST, but is fun to say.

Sunday, March 20, 2011



Modeling is a cakewalk for Alex Katz.

One day, the 22-year-old Daytonian was a Columbia University senior working a side gig as a bartender for private parties; the next, he was strutting his stuff – and a dessert designed by the “Cake Boss” – in a world-renown fashion show. Weeks later, he’s still reeling from the whirlwind of events that took him from student to supermodel.

“I graduate from Vandalia-Butler High School in June 2007. With four duffle bags in hand, I move into my dorm on the Upper West Side of New York,” Katz said. “At the beginning of my senior year, I start bartending to supplement my life in my adoptive, ridiculously expensive new city. I’m hired to pour champagne at a baby shower. I’m asked to walk a fashion runway. I must have missed a step somewhere.”

Three months after working the bar at a baby shower hosted by Kristen Naiman, head fashion designer for the Isaac Mizrahi runway collection, Katz answered the phone to find Naiman’s assistant on the other end. “He asked, ‘We have a small runway show coming up. Would you like to take part?’” Katz said. “I thought he was a satisfied customer calling to schedule another bartending gig, so I agreed.”

But when the assistant started throwing out words like “casting staff” and “fitting,” Katz was flummoxed. “I said, ‘I’m sorry, can you back up? Do you want me to serve drinks or be in the fashion show?’”

As it turned out, Katz was being requested for the latter job, and the “small” runway show was the debut of Mizrahi’s Autumn/Winter Collection during Fashion Week, a celebrity-studded extravaganza hosted semiannually in New York, London, Milan and Paris. This year’s New York event took place February 10-17.

Though Katz was puzzled as to why a self-described “tall, awkward kid with a Jew-fro” would be picked for a major fashion show, he thought, “Why not?” and decided to have fun with it. “I figured it would end up being the best experience ever and make a great story,” he said. “It’s not my dream job, but I had one helluva time!”

Because Fashion Week overlapped with the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show at Madison Square Garden, Mizrahi chose “Poodles and Cake” as the theme for his show, which featured female models wearing his latest designs while carrying small poodles with matching hairstyles and dye jobs. The male models, including Katz, walked the runway in waiter attire with trays of colorful cakes created by Buddy Valastro, owner of Carlo’s Bakery in Hoboken, N.J., and host of TLC’s “Cake Boss.”

Preparation for the event included Katz’s first-ever manicure and an offer to get a “Brazilian blowout,” which he declined on the grounds that it sounded smutty and/or painful. (It’s a hair-straightening treatment, by the way.) After his curly locks were sufficiently straight, a stylist began putting a wax-like product in Katz’s hair. “When I asked him what he was using, he replied in his gruff English accent, ‘It’s magic is what it is,’” Katz recalled.

That brusque Brit was none other than Eugene Soleiman, who has tamed the tresses of such celebs as Julianna Margulies and Lady Gaga, and created hair fashion for designers including Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana, and Alexander McQueen.

Katz also met Mizrahi himself for a New York minute and was pulled aside for a fashion network interview. “The reporter asked me what modeling agency I worked for and I had to honestly respond that I wasn’t a model, but if she’s interested in bartending services, I knew a capable server!” he said.

Most first-time models would fret over remembering their cues and not getting stage fright. However, Katz’s background in theater quelled any anxiety about appearing in front of a large audience. “I’ve been onstage in front of a lot of people before, and I’ve also been in embarrassing costumes,” he said, chuckling.

Instead of worrying about how and when to sashay, saunter or pivot, Katz was more focused on walking, period. “The shoes they gave me had no back to them, so I kept thinking, ‘Don’t lose a shoe!’” Impractical footwear aside, Katz said the prevailing thought during his stroll down the runway was, “Don’t drop the cake!”

Fortunately, the show went off without a hitch, making Katz something of a celebrity in his personal circle. “I thought I might have some female friends who might be excited about it, but I was surprised by how many people knew about it,” he said.

After Katz’s girlfriend, Elena, found a video of the Mizrahi show online and a friend saw his photo in The New York Times’ online review, word spread like wildfire. “There was a formal dance at school that evening,” he recalled. “It was the first time I walked into an event feeling like a star.”

Katz’s brush with “the beautiful people” hasn’t transformed him from a T-shirt and jeans kinda guy into a metrosexual fashionista. “My style is very basic. Outside of a dress suit, I don’t own any casual clothing that’s worth more than $20. I don’t lay out my clothes the night before, I just choose something in the morning and hope it matches!” he said.

“However, I do have a new appreciation for the fashion industry and what they have to go through.”

So, to an already-eclectic résumé that includes working in the NBA store, teaching Hebrew School, tutoring secular studies and bartending, Katz can now add “Supermodel.”

Friday, March 11, 2011



“My brain … fires in a way that is … maybe not from this terrestrial realm. When you've got tiger blood and Adonis DNA, it's like, get with the program, dude.”

"I have a 10,000-year-old brain and the boogers of a 7-year-old.”

“I’m not bipolar, I’m bi-WINNING.”

Indeed, Charlie Sheen is winning – not at convincing anyone he’s even remotely sane, but at dominating headlines in the past couple of weeks. Sheen’s nonsensical, vainglorious rants have made the self-deemed “rock star from Mars” eminently quotable as it becomes painfully apparent that his bag of marbles has a hole big enough to fly a spaceship through.

Though he’s tested free of drugs (except one called “Charlie Sheen” that he claims will “melt your face off”), he’s obviously nowhere near emotional sobriety.

I’m certainly not mocking the mentally ill, which I believe Sheen is, but his bizarre tirades are at once saddening and (unintentionally?) hilarious, making him a frontrunner for the Celebs Say the Darnedest Things Hall of Fame, which includes the inductees listed below. (Disclaimer: Writer cannot be held responsible for any face-melting that might occur while reading these quotes.)

* Jessica Simpson: “I'm not anorexic. I'm from Texas. Are there people from Texas that are anorexic? I've never heard of one. And that includes me.”
-- Well, they DO say everything’s bigger in Texas.

* Britney Spears: “I have always wanted to travel across seas, like to Canada and stuff.”
-- Maybe she’s referring to the well-known Lake Erie Sea?

* Tara Reid: “I make Jessica Simpson look like a rock scientist.”
-- And Britney Spears like a geography major.

* Joe Theismann: “The word ‘genius’ isn’t applicable in football. A genius is a guy like Norman Einstein.”
-- I hear Norm’s brother Albert was pretty smart, too.

* Arnold Schwarzenegger: “I think gay marriage is something that should be between a man and a woman.”
-- Clearly, Gov. Terminator is unclear on the concept.

* Sarah Jessica Parker: “I love the smell of diapers. I even like when they’re wet and you smell them all warm like a baked good.”
-- I don’t even WANT to know what baked goods smell like to her.

* Sienna Miller: “I love cigarettes. Love them. I think the more positive approach you have to smoking, the less harmful it is.”
-- Does that mean my positive approach to eating chocolate makes it less fattening?

* Linda Evangelista: “I don't diet. I just don't eat as much as I'd like to.”
-- Right. And I don’t binge … I just eat everything that Linda Evangelista can’t.

* Kanye West: “I’m like a tree. I feed the branches of the people.”
-- Yo, Kanye! I’m really happy for you and I’ma let you finish, but the redwood is one of the greatest trees of all time!

Paris Hilton: “What’s Wal-Mart? Do they sell, like, wall stuff?”
-- Obviously, she never heard of Brain-Mart, either.

I think I speak for the majority of “the little people” everywhere when I say, “Thank you, celebrities, for making the rest of us look like rock scientists.”

Friday, February 25, 2011



Last summer, I penned a column titled “How to Write Gooder,” which offered tips on improving such skills as punctuation, grammar and sentence structure. It drew many positive responses, but some felt a follow-up was needed. “Great tips,” one reader wrote. “But how do I turn those fancied-up sentences into something folks want to read? You make it look easier than taking candy from a baby.”

Nothing could be further from the truth. Taking candy from babies ain’t easy. Their banshee wailing alerts everyone within a five-block radius. Also, writing this column isn’t always a breeze; sometimes the process is painstaking and beset by writer’s block. That’s when I rely on this six-step process:

Step 1 – Visualize the column. Find a quiet space and free your mind of everyday clutter like appointments, unpaid bills and “Why is ‘Two and a Half Men’ still on the air?” I prefer to meditate sitting on the floor, eyes crossed and legs closed. Wait. Strike that. Reverse it.

Be the column. Imagine you’re the words themselves, gamboling across a field of white. Language is your music and you write the songs! If you’ve managed to see this in your mind’s eye, congratulations, you’re bananas – a requirement for being a columnist. Speaking of bananas, this would be a good time for a snack to nourish your brain for Step 2.

Step 2 – Brainstorming: Best done while walking from the computer to the coffeepot. Studies show that the heart palpitations caused by copious amounts of caffeine are worth the mental alertness a good cup (or five) of joe provides. Plus, it keeps you regular.

Write down as many topic ideas as you can without thinking too hard or editing your thoughts. Here’s what I conjured during my stream-of-consciousness brainstorm:

* Phrases that sound dirty but aren’t.

* Why I love coffee.

* Think of a topic, think of a topic, think of a topic!

* Gracias, Juan Valdez: An Ode to Coffee.

* Who put the bomp in the bomp bah bomp bah bomp?


OK, maybe I shouldn’t have had that eighth cup, but you get my gist.

Step 3 – Rejuvenation: Brainstorming is draining! Or maybe I’m just coming down from my caffeine high. Take a break. Or a nap. Also, this would be a good time for a snack.

Step 4 – Rough draft: Take that brilliant idea you came up with in Step 2 and craft a lead-in sentence. For example, “If you’re anything like me, you giggle at words like ‘angina,’ and ‘Uranus.’”

Step 5 – The Rewrite: Several days, naps and snacks later, I reopen the document for editing, changes and fine-tuning: “Titular. Pianist. Pupa. If you just giggled at those words, you’re an idiot like me.”

Step 6 – Final draft: Here goes … hit “Send.” It helps to include a note for your editor: “You might want to read this after your fifth cup of coffee.”

Friday, February 11, 2011



Fact: There is no chin behind Chuck Norris’ beard. There is only another fist.

Fact: Chuck Norris once roundhouse-kicked a $10 bill into 200 nickels.

Fact: Chuck Norris' calendar goes straight from March 31 to April 2 because NO ONE fools Chuck Norris.

It’s been a decade since “Walker, Texas Ranger” wrapped up its eight-year run on CBS, but Chuck Norris is far from “Missing in Action.” In an industry where popularity comes and goes faster than you can say, “Who let the dogs out?” Norris is indestructible. The 70-year-old martial arts master has remained in the public eye via reruns, infomercials and politics, but nowhere does his presence loom larger than on the Internet. In fact, if you search Google for “Chuck Norris getting his butt kicked,” the results will be zero. It just doesn't happen. (And in case you’re wondering who let the dogs out, it was Chuck Norris, of course.)

What started as a recurring gag on “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” in 2005 has snowballed into a seemingly endless avalanche of Chuck Norris “facts” – hilariously exaggerated claims that extol Norris’ strength, manliness and all-around awesomeness to epic proportions. An exercise in hyperbole rivaling the tall tales of Paul Bunyan, these far-fetched, fabricated factoids note Norris’ influence in many disciplines:

* Academics: For a perfect SAT score, write “Chuck Norris” for every answer.
* Agriculture: Crop circles are Chuck Norris' way of telling the world that sometimes corn needs to lie down.
* Astronomy: Outer space exists because it's afraid to be on the same planet with Chuck Norris.
* Geography: The Bermuda Triangle was called the Bermuda Square until Chuck Norris roundhouse-kicked one of the corners off.
* Law: There are four legal methods of execution in the U.S.: Lethal injection, gas chamber, electric chair and Chuck Norris.
* Literature: Chuck Norris doesn’t read, he just stares books down until they surrender the information he needs.
* Paranormal Studies: Ghosts are the result of Chuck Norris killing people faster than The Grim Reaper can process them.
* Sports: Chuck Norris doesn't bowl strikes, he just knocks down one pin and the other nine faint.

Why does Norris rate such veneration? Why not fellow stone-faced tough guy Charles Bronson? Why not similarly acting-challenged B-movie martial artists Jean-Claude Van Damme or Steven Seagal? Heck, why not MacGyver, who could use a pinecone, some string and a bottle cap to build an anti-Chuck Norris machine?!

In a Washington Post article, Norris’ publicist offered his (completely unbiased, of course) opinion, attributing the cult of Chuck to the star’s “consistent persona.” In other words, Norris has played pretty much the same guy for almost 40 years and his fans are OK with that.

The man himself finds the phenomenon amusing for the most part, which is a good thing because who’d want to get on his bad side? After all, there used to be a street named after him, but it was changed because nobody crosses Chuck Norris and lives.

Friday, January 28, 2011



Once upon a time, bacon was just a tasty meat, usually eaten in fried form or used as an ingredient in other dishes, but in the past few years, it’s become a way of life. The cult of bacon – or “baconmania,” to use the media-coined term – is especially prevalent in the U.S., where devotees have declared themselves a “Bacon Nation.”

Besides the traditional dishes, there’s now bacon bubble gum; chocolate-covered bacon; bacon donuts, cupcakes and cookies; baconnaise; bacon ice cream; bacon-infused vodka; and bacon soda. Only a true porkaholic would be pigheaded enough to try the Bacon Explosion – two pounds of bacon wrapped around a two-pound brick of barbecued sausage. (Comes with free triple-bypass surgery.)

The madness doesn’t stop with food and drink. There’s also bacon air freshener; bacon floss and toothpaste; bacon lip balm; and bacon band-aids. And if you have trouble getting up the morning after a bacon bender, the “Wake n’ Bacon” alarm clock will rouse you with the aroma of sizzling bacon.

Bacon has even woven itself into the fabric of pop culture and entertainment from music and TV to art and fashion. Before Lady Gaga's meat dress came the bacon bra. What appears to be merely an avant-garde undergarment becomes a tasty treat after an hour in the sun! Bacon is a recurring character on the popular Nickelodeon show, “iCarly,” seen most often in the hands and mouth of the forever-famished Sam Puckett, a girl so passionate about pork that she smuggles it into homeroom, accepts it as a bribe and once belonged to a Bacon of the Month club. ("You ever had Bolivian bacon? It changes you.")

Several songs mention bacon in passing, e.g., The Beatles’ “Piggies” and The Captain and Tennille’s “Muskrat Love,” but there’s a rasher of lesser-known tunes devoted entirely to bacon. Two of my favorites are Big Cheese’s “Gimme Dat Bacon,” and “Addicted to Bacon” by Trey Hugueley and Chuck Vail, both posted on YouTube.

Speaking of bacon on the Internet, there are countless blogs devoted to the prized pork – is one – boasting everything from bacon news, reviews and events to bacon fashions, recipes and products. Bacon-flavored Diet Coke, anyone?

What is it about bacon that makes people go hog wild?

Culinary experts say it’s a comfort food that conjures fond memories. Academic types say bacon’s six ingredient types of umami (fancypants way of saying “deliciousness”), cause an addictive neurochemical response. As an experienced baconologist myself, I agree with Homer Simpson, who said it simplest and best: “Mmm … bacon.”

The word on Meat Street is that baconmania is dwindling, but that’s just health-nut hogwash. Bacon never dies … it just shrivels up.

Friday, January 14, 2011



Mark Twain said, “New Year’s Day now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week, you can begin paving hell with them as usual.” It’s the middle of the month and I’m sure a lot of folks already have proven Twain right.

Each year, people charge into the New Year with more determination than a bull at a red cape convention, setting goals for their health, finances and relationships with the best of intentions. And each year, many of these same people find their actions in polar opposition to their intentions after a few weeks, months, or in some cases, mere days.

I’m not a big fan of resolutions; I prefer to make positive changes whenever life calls for it. But I realize many folks view a new year as a new start, so here’s a word of advice – actually, four words: Set the bar lower. By following my tips for a few of the most common annual resolutions, you can keep those goals attainable. Warning: These suggestions are not kid-tested, mother-approved or inspected by No. 12, nor do four out of five dentists recommend them.

Does your quest for better health include going to bed earlier? Before hitting the sack, set your clock to Pacific Standard Time – e.g., if you go to bed at 10 p.m., turn the big hand back to 7 p.m., and voila! Three extra hours of Z’s. By the time you wake up – say, 6 a.m. (3 a.m. Pacific), it will be the next morning in Brisbane and you’ll have gained a whole day of rest!

Want to attend church more often? Get a schedule of potlucks and prayer breakfasts within a 10-mile radius. As a lifelong Baptist, I can tell you from personal experience, these events will keep you in the Lord’s house more than your own. Of course, this could result in you breaking the most common New Year’s resolution – to lose weight – so you might want to stick to the Communion circuit.

Which brings us to the never-ending Battle of the Bulge. For many of us, it’s a lifelong fight and frankly, my love handles are winning. While I avidly support good eating habits and physical fitness, I also know how discouraging it is to find the only weight you’ve lost is the scale you chucked out the window when the digital display read, “One at a time, please.”

In stopping the cycle of self-defeat, it’s important to remember that pounds don’t just come from fat, muscle, tissues and organs. Ever weighed your clothes? Those suckers are heavy, especially in winter! Switch to lightweight fabrics and those paper shoes they give you in the hospital. Shed your underwear if necessary. After all, many no-talent starlets have become famous by doing the same!