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December 4, 2005

Mötley Crüe on how to improve your life

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I just finished reading the almost indescribably weird and wonderful memoirs of Mötley Crüe, entitled "The Dirt: Confessions of the World's Most Notorious Rock Band."

It's an absolutely no–holds–barred account, told by each of the band's four members and assorted others (managers, etc.) in alternating chapters.

From the book:

    [Vince Neal] I was working at the time as an electrician, building a McDonald's in Baldwin Park. For job security, I started dating the boss's daughter, Leah, a tall, vaguely attractive... blond who, through some sort of elaborate mental airbrushing, believed that she looked like Rene Russo.

    I came home from work that night and slept for almost twenty hours. I woke up... and was just beginning to see straight when Tommy dropped by. He had a tape of songs for me to learn to sing. I listened to them, and tried to keep from vomiting or laughing. There was no way I was going to play with this lame band, if you could call them a band. They didn't even have a name.

    We were so loose we couldn't tell when one song ended and the next began. But we looked good and fought even better.
    ..........................

    [Nikki Sixx] The blind date was already a disaster. Tommy and Pam led the way to the Dragonfly in their Suburban. I followed in my Suburban, and Donna brought up the rear in her Pathfinder. It was a stereotypical L.A. date — conducted by motorcade.

    We had so much in common: We were both from small towns, we both loved children, and she was regarded by the world as this Baywatch sex symbol, while I guess I was seen as the same in rock and roll. But in our hearts we both knew that we were just nerds, total... high school losers who had put on a good act and gotten lucky.

    After a few more dates, just when everything was starting to work out, Donna screeched into my driveway and came charging at me waving a fax I had written. Evidently Jenny McCarthy's manager and boyfriend worked with Donna's manager. And when he heard about the new man in Donna's life, he produced the form letter that I had written to Jenny McCarthy asking for a date.
    .........................

    [Mick Mars] I was sure I was dead. I woke up on the beach, and the sky and sea were pitch–black.

    Since I was a ghost, material objects could no longer stand in my way. So I tried to walk through the glass window into the room in order to hear what Tommy and Beth were saying about me. That was when I really hurt myself. The noise of my body colliding with the window shocked the group in the house to life. They ran to the window and looked out in panic, only to find me lying on my back in the sand.

    "Where have you been, dude?" Tommy exclaimed when he saw me.

    I guess I was alive after all.
    .........................

    [Tom Zetaut, who as a sales assistant at Electra Records discovered and signed the band to its first contract] It began as a very civil dinner, with the chef showing off his knife tricks. The band ate some and drank a lot. Vince, of course, was drinking the heaviest. I noticed that his margarita glass was broken, so he ordered another one. When I looked at him again, the new glass was broken and he was insisting on a replacement. The perplexed waitress brought him yet another drink, examining the glass carefully to make sure there were no chips or cracks. As soon as she walked away, Vince put the glass to his mouth and bit into it, shattering the edge of the glass. "This guy is nuts," I thought. "He could cut his tongue out or tear his lips to shreds."

    Vince stood up, signaled the waitress, and accused her of giving him broken glasses on purpose. She swore up and down that the glass was fine when she gave it too him. Then she turned to me for explanation. I didn't want to get her or Vince in trouble: "Maybe the dishwasher is broken," I offered weakly.

    So she brought him another margarita and retreated to the corner with the manager to spy on Vince. Unaware that she was watching, Vince sunk his teeth into the glass again. Instantly, the manager ran over and tried to kick us out of the restaurant while the waitress called the police. I quickly settled the bill and broke the party up.

    Most nights were like that with the band: either something was going to get broken or someone was going to pass out.
    .........................

    [Tommy Lee] We went out for Italian food, then watched some lame stand–up comedy because I thought that was what normal people did on dates.

    During the show, we entered the stage by being shot up in front of 25,000 to 100,000 people from a contraption underneath the stage, as if we were four giant Pop–Tarts. Those contraptions eventually became a metaphor for the tour. Whenever we wanted to eat or sleep, all of a sudden someone would pull the lever and — pop — there we would be, standing in front of a stadium full of cheering people ready to see the same song and dance we had been through hundreds of times already.

    With each show, it became harder and harder to play our greatest hits onstage. While I was out there playing "Girls, Girls, Girls" for the ten–thousandth time, all I could think about was getting back to my room and finishing whatever song I was working on.

********************

The book costs $10.85 at Amazon.

Many hours of insanity for a very reasonable price.

The plethora of great pictures which festoon the book are worth it in and of themselves.

If, after reading the band's 430–page account of their rise and numerous crashes and burns, you think you'd like to be a rock star, well, more power to you.

I'll pass.

December 4, 2005 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Heated Foot Massager

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Well, after IKEA threw down with its slipper pillow (below)

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I guess it was only a matter of time until someone decided to up the ante.

Here's the next chapter in the unifoot look.

From the website:

    At the end of a long day, slip your feet and ankles into this warm, cozy massager – and let your cares drift away.

    Flip the switch on the handheld controller to turn on the luxurious heat function, sit back, and say "ahhh."

    Feel your whole body relax!

    One size fits most.

10"L x 11"W x 12"H.

AC adaptor included.

$29.99 here.

[via AW]

December 4, 2005 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Gift Card Follies — Episode 2

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The first iteration appeared last year on December 8.

With the holidays approaching I thought it a good idea to bring it back for another go–around.

You decide what's right for you but please: when it comes to me send money, not gift cards.

Here's last year's post.

    Gift Card Follies

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    Michael Barbaro wrote a story about the booming business of gift cards for last Saturday's Washington Post Business section.

    What a crock.

    "Would you want to give someone $1,000 cash or this?" said Marie Toulantis, CEO of Barnesandnoble.com. "This is a much nicer alternative."

    She was referring to the company's pricey new gift card package, consisting of a $1,000 gift card together with a pair of stone bookends, each etched with an image of Shakespeare, all delivered in a leather box with satin lining.

    Clearly the American public agrees with her, considering that this holiday season alone, U.S. consumers are expected to spend $17.3 billion - yes, the story in the Post said billion, not million - on gift cards.

    This is so beyond bizarro to me.

    I mean, I would so much prefer the $1,000 cash to the gift card with its tacky packaging.

    I'd dump that in the trash as soon as the giver left.

    I'm reminded of that hilarious segment on Fox Sports this past Thanksgiving Day during the football game.

    Every year, announcer Cris Collinsworth awards some player a goofy-looking trophy of a turkey for being the best player in the Thanksgiving Day game.

    It's truly grotesque and ugly.

    He gave it to Emmitt Smith once, and the Fox camera showed Smith dumping it in the trash can on his way back to the Dallas Cowboys dressing room.

    Ha.

    That's what I'd do with the garbage packaging of the BarnesandNoble.com gift card.

    A gift card is annoying because you have to use it at one place when what you really would like to buy is at another store.

    That's why this

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    is the gift card of choice.

    It

    1) Never expires

    2) Never is worth less than its face value

    3) Most importantly, works everywhere, in any store in the country

    Why are gifts cards "much nicer" in the view of a great majority of Americans?

    Because money is, at bottom, dirty, evil, and just plain obscene in the Puritan-derived substructure of American society.

    It's like sex: pretend it's not what you're interested in.

    You know how it goes: when someone says, "It's not the money," it's always about the money.

    Here's the Washington Post story.

      Pushing the Envelope

      Retailers Design Gift Cards to Pack More Presence

      Blanketing the checkout aisle this holiday season: the guilt-free gift card.

      Best Buy is rolling out a card that plays movie previews.

      Barnes & Noble is pairing one with a set of stone bookends.

      And the Container Store is offering an entire line of decorative gift-card holders.

      From department stores to discounters, retailers are using innovative technology and clever packaging to give gift cards a more giftlike form.

      The goal: to make shoppers feel good about giving the gift of plastic - a present that, despite its popularity, has yet to shed its reputation as an unimaginative substitute for a traditional present, industry analysts say.

      Gone, for many retailers, are the days of a simple plastic card presented in a simple paper envelope.

      "That wasn't always enough for consumers who are hesitant to give a gift card," said David Gaston, president of Chicago-based Gaston Advertising Inc., which helps retailers design gift-card programs.

      "People want to make an impact with presentation."

      Gift cards are hardly hurting for customers.

      U.S. consumers are expected to spend $17.3 billion on gift cards this holiday season, up $100 million from last year, according to the National Retail Federation, a Washington-based retail trade group.

      Intense competition for consumers' gift-card dollars is spurring this year's innovation.

      With credit card companies, malls and even restaurants now offering gift cards, retailers say a boring card is a big risk.

      A smattering of options during Christmases past has now mushroomed across the industry.

      "Having the right assortment is very important," said Anne Pratt, director of gift-card services at Best Buy.

      Shoppers say they want gift cards to pack more punch.

      Alexandria resident Kathy Smarrella, 37, "hates" giving members of her family a gift card in an envelope.

      "It doesn't seem to involve any thought," she said.

      So like many other gift-card givers, Smarrella discovered her own fix - packing the card inside a big box or affixing to a traditional gift.

      "It means more to people that way," she said.

      Retailers picked up on the trend.

      Godiva created a four-piece box of chocolates with a slot, tucked beneath the lid, designed to hold a gift card.

      The chocolates are sold separately from the gift card (for about $5), but the idea has caught on.

      J.C. Penney this year rolled out a series of stuffed animals, each designed to hold a gift card ($1.99 with a gift card over $10).

      So did Hecht's, which added its own twist: cosmetic pouches and compact mirrors with pockets to place gift cards (It charges between $5 and $6 for the plush toys, and $2.50 for the pouch and mirror case.)

      The Container Store this year introduced a variety of gift-card holders, priced from $1.79 to $4.99.

      There is the Polka Dot Gift Card Box, a Perforated Gift Card Pouch and Mesh Gift Card Box.

      Audrey Robertson, a Container Store spokeswoman, called the new line a chance "to further personalize a gift card."

      Why do gift cards - which are, after all, just cash loaded into a piece of plastic - suddenly require so much personalization?

      Linda L. Dunlap, chairwoman of the department of psychology at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., said gift givers want gift recipients to remember their gesture.

      Trouble is, when the gift is a gift card alone, the money runs out and card is tossed.

      But when the gift card comes with, say, a stuffed animal, there is a "constant reminder that a gift was given," Dunlap said.

      That's part of the logic behind a pricey new Barnes & Noble gift-card package.

      The store is offering a new $1,000 card.

      It comes with a pair of stone bookends, each etched with an image of Shakespeare, all delivered in a leather box with satin lining.

      "Would you want to give someone $1,000 cash or this?" asked Marie Toulantis, chief executive of Barnes & Noble.com.

      "This is a much nicer alternative."

      Not all of this year's gift-card innovation is focused on packaging.

      Best Buy and Target say they have turned the card itself into an interactive toy.

      Both retailers have introduced a gift-card CD-ROM, a miniature, rectangular version of a standard CD.

      Like traditional gift cards, they can be swiped at a cash register, but when placed inside a computer, they launch video games and movie clips.

      Best Buy's card contains a preview for the upcoming Disney film "Chicken Little" and a short video game featuring Aladdin.

      Target's card contains two video games.

      The game's main character: Bullseye, Target's canine mascot.

      Another Target gift card is equipped with a sound chip.

      When the SpongeBob SquarePants gift card is squeezed, the Nickelodeon cartoon character begins to laugh - loudly.

      "Kind of gimmicky" was the verdict from Clinton Farrand, 24, a Target shopper who lives in Arlington.

      But Farran's girlfriend, 24-year-old Dresden McIntosh, said the bright yellow laughing gift card is a relief "from all the ugly ones with the name of the store on them."

      Some who receive the dressed-up gift cards say they prefer them over the ho-hum presentation of the same card in a store-branded envelope.

      Noelle Dominguez, a 23-year-old who works on Capitol Hill, received a Best Buy gift card last Christmas from a co-worker.

      For the past several years, the electronics retailer has sold its gift cards in a CD case, making them easier to wrap and, in some cases, tricking recipients into thinking they're opening a music album.

      "I thought it was cute," Dominguez said, "because I like opening presents."

      December 4, 2005 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

      Box Table

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      Olivier Droillard is a Frenchman with a London studio.

      He is fascinated by the look, feel and function of boxes.

      So much so that he has created a slim table called the Latimer which consists of a grouped modular system of brown, beige and white boxes (above and below)

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      or one in varied shades of blue (below).

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      The piece measures 41" long, 16" wide and 31" high.

      The table sits on slender oak legs and costs $1,070 direct from the designer (Click on Products, then Latimer).

      [via Ernest Beck and the New York Times]

      December 4, 2005 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

      Albert Arroyo, the 'Mayor of Central Park' — Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis said to him, 'Call me Jackie'

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      Nearly 90, Albert Arroyo (above, stretching) said, to Dan Barry in a story in yesterday's New York Times, "I am the first man to run in Central Park."'

      Barry noted that no one has yet come forth to challenge Arroyo.

      Back in the mid–1930s, when he was a young boxer from Puerto Rico, he began running on the 1.6–mile path around Central Park now used by thousands of people every day.

      Time passes.

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      Arroyo stopped running about 10 years ago, in his late 70s.

      Now he walks to and from the park daily.

      Here's the article.

        The Mayor Who Ran, Ran and Ran

        THE mayor of Central Park lives in an S.R.O. on the Upper West Side.

        His one room has an unkempt bed, two small dressers that belong on the curb, lumps of clothes on the worn carpet, and a rusted hotplate that he means to throw out.

        The telephone permits him to dial only 911.

        Decorations are spare.

        They include a dusty State Senate resolution from 1985 that honors him for his contributions to the park, and an autographed poster of Grete Waitz, the nine-time New York City Marathon champion, that brightens the peeled-paint wall.

        "Keep up the good work," she wrote.

        The mayor, Alberto Arroyo, says he has lived here for nearly a quarter-century because it reflects the simplicity he has sought for most of his nearly 90 years.

        He has taken a vow of poverty, he says, like St. Francis of Assisi.

        "You've heard of St. Francis of Assisi?" he asks.

        He wears clothes that should be cleaned or tossed.

        He eats one meal a day, usually the lunch served at a local senior center, as long as it is not the oxtail or the knockwurst.

        He survives on Social Security and a modest pension from his old employer, the Bethlehem Steel Corporation, but will not touch his savings because it is to be given away once he dies.

        And he lives here.

        "Everyone wants the maximum," he says.

        "I want the minimum."

        The mayor's true home, his Gracie Mansion, is Central Park, where he needs to be right now.

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        Wearing a "mayor" cap over his sparse white hair and a coaster-size medallion around his neck, he pushes his four-wheeled walker toward the door.

        Slowly.

        Mr. Arroyo was once a trailblazing runner.

        Back in the mid-1930's, when he was a young boxer from Puerto Rico with a radical sense of physical fitness, he began running on the 1.6-mile path that encircles the Central Park Reservoir.

        Now, thousands jog there every day.

        "I am the first man to run in Central Park," he says, a claim that no one bothers to challenge.

        But there is no question that in a city reluctant to wave hello, he became an identifiable, approachable character: the guy at the reservoir, the one with the white mustache, running, standing on his head, posing for tourists, forever sharing the many stories of Alberto Arroyo.

        How he stowed away on a ship; ran bare-chested in winter; defied a rapacious landlord to win rights for tenants; raised money to make this crushed-stone track what it is today; on and on.

        Along the way he also became almost a spiritual presence, one with the park - "a constant," says George Hirsch, board chairman of the New York Road Runners club.

        Mr. Arroyo stopped running a decade ago, reluctantly.

        Now he takes a good 20 minutes to walk the three blocks to the park, and another 10 to reach the reservoir's path.

        He shuffles counterclockwise on the trail, the better to fulfill his ambassadorial duties.

        As he moves north, nodding and saying hello to runners - "Hi, Mayor," they call - he recites stories that he has told too many times before.

        Still, when he tells them, it is as though one of the old London plane trees at the reservoir were given voice.

        Mr. Arroyo says he was there, for example, when a man removed his clothes, neatly folded them on the shore, and swam into the reservoir to drown.

        He was there when the police hung yellow tape around the spot where Robert Chambers left the body of young Jennifer Levin.

        He was there when Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis [below, running with Arroyo]

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        began looping the reservoir many years ago, and there when she visited the park a few days before she died, in 1994.

        By then they had become acquaintances.

        Mr. Arroyo remembers many things she said to him, especially this: "Call me Jackie."

        He continues along the path, talking about Jackie, and St. Francis, and Alberto Arroyo.

        "My time is up," he says. "People tell me, 'You're going to live another 10, 20 years.' Baloney.

        But nobody should be afraid to die because you keep living. You just go from one apartment to another."

        Mr. Arroyo sits on a bench dedicated to him near the South Gate House.

        It is the desk to his open-air office.

        People jogging by call out to him, while a boy one bench over slips carefully out of school clothes and into running shorts.

        Sunlight is giving way to shadow.

        The boy runs off, but the mayor says he will stay until dark.

      December 4, 2005 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (12) | TrackBack

      Holodeck Timer

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      Looks like it could beam you up but it's intended for your kitchen rather than the Enterprise.

      This very stylish accessory has an ergonomic secret: it requires only one hand to operate.

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      From the website:

        The Gripper Timer grips to the countertop for one–handed operation.

        A great timer for multitaskers.

        The hourglass shape is designed to evenly distribute downward pressure.

        It features a thumb gripper for easy turning, gripper feet for a non-slip grip on your countertop, and short or long tone–set options.

        Timer duration: up to 1 hour.

      In Titanium/Graphite, White, Blue

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      or Red.

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      $9.99 here.

      December 4, 2005 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

      What's up with the celebrity lookalikes in commercials recently?

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      First time I noticed it was a couple months ago, in that commercial for the Polaroid digital camera where the Todd Oldham (above) doppelgänger hides his camera inside his pants and then, in some super swanky club a la Bungalow 8 or its ilk starts emitting flashes of flight from his fly until some ominous hulk of a bouncer throws him out.

      He finds himself out on the sidewalk with some megababe who mimics his dorky dance moves and I guess the message of the commercial is that if you buy the camera, in the end you get the girl.

      Dumb, dumb commercial, though: I must have watched it twenty or thirty times before I realized it was for Polaroid.

      Boy, does the guy resemble Todd Oldham, though.

      Then just now I'm sitting here doing something close to nothing (but different from the day before) when up pops a Dr. Pepper commercial starrring a woman who at first glance appears to be Elizabeth Berkley (below),

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      of "Saved By The Bell" and, much more recently, "Showgirls" fame.

      FunFact: Quentin Tarantino had nothing but praise for "Showgirls."

      A dead ringer for Ms. Berkley, is the girl in the commercial.

      The thing is, I'd bet most people watching these two commercials don't have the faintest idea what Todd Oldham looks like, nor Elizabeth Berkley.

      Is it some unconscious impulse on the part of the ad agencies casting these commercials, using these dead ringers?

      December 4, 2005 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

      Elmer Fudd Hat

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      The company selling it calls it the "Elmer Fuzz Hat," probably because they're afraid Warner Brothers is gonna take a minute away from suing music filesharers to come after them.

      Me, I'm not worried — bring it on, WB.

      From the website:

        Don't deny your inner Elmer

        Indulge your sensible and silly sides all at once with this wascally warm hat!

        Instead of wabbit, ours is made from colorful wool and lined in a fuzzy-soft faux fur.

        Back and side flaps can be worn down to cover your neck and ears on those wintry days when you'd rather stay warm than look cool.

        Acrylic/wool blend.

        Washable.

        Size: Unisex — one size fits all.

      Still not sure?

      No problema.

      More from the website:

        Crown is a slate blue knit with criss-cross light blue wool stitching on 2 seams (2 seams going front to back).

        Made of blended 15% wool & 85% acrylic blended fabrics.

        Super–soft shaggy faux light brown fur lining, interior & exterior around ear-flaps & brim.

        Brim is tacked up.

        Ear warmer flaps hang down.

        Square looking crown.

      $25 here.

      Tell you what: that's a lotta hat for the money, in my book.

      December 4, 2005 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

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