Tuesday, January 23, 2007

What's Up With That? #42: Baby, it's cold outside

It's a brisk 28 degrees Fahrenheit today in our little burg. Still air, therefore no wind chill factor, but chilly nonetheless.

This morning, after I dropped my daughter at school, I saw a young woman walking onto campus wearing a paper-thin cotton shirt with three-quarter-length sleeves, and flip-flops on otherwise bare feet. Up the block, along came a girl in a sleeveless tank top with nothing covering it. Also joining the morning trudge to high school were several boys and girls whose only upper body garment was a T-shirt.

Now, this isn't a particularly affluent community, but neither do we have many residents living in extreme poverty. Even the poorest of kids owns at least one hoodie.

So why would these kids choose to freeze? Is a sweatshirt or jacket that uncool?

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Thursday, December 14, 2006

What's Up With That? #41: I don't know art, butt I know what I like

People amaze and amuse me.

Stephen Murmer, an art teacher at Monacan High School in Richmond, Virginia, has been suspended from work because the school board found out that he makes money on the side by painting with his butt.

I kid you not.

Apparently, Murmer's technique involves him dousing his hindquarters — and, when the muse so strikes him, his genitalia — with paint, then smearing himself onto a canvas.

Nice work if you can get it.

I'm not sure how a guy creating booty doodles in his spare time makes him any less qualified to teach high school art. If he were dropping trou and greasing up his glutes right there in the classroom, that would be a whole other issue. I don't know that the school board could turn the other cheek to that. (Ahem.)

But here's the truly bizarre part: People actually pay for this stuff. Murmer, who markets his creations on his buttprintart.com Web site under the nom de posterior "Stan Murmur," gets upward of $900 for lithographs of his artworks. According to the Washington Post, Murmer's most popular print — cheekily entitled "Tulip Butts" — sells for $600 at a crack... if I may be so bold.

Who's buying this stuff? And for hundreds of dollars, at that? I know that some of you believe I'm a bit loony for hanging drawings of comic book superheroes on my walls. But at least most people recognize that form of art for what it is. I'm trying to envision the conversation that occurs when one of Murmer's customers has company over for dinner:
Guest: Say, Marge, that's an unusual painting. Is it new?

Host: Why, yes, Lucille. It's the latest work by Stephen Murmer. He painted it with his buttocks.

Guest: I beg your pardon. Did you say "with his buttocks"?

Host: Indeed. At least, I believe this is the one he painted with his buttocks. I think we hung the one he painted with his genitals in the children's room.

Guest: George, get my coat.
And you thought I had a tough time explaining the original Cully Hamner pinup of Mary Marvel that adorns my office wall. At least I know Cully didn't draw it with his butt.

I mean... I don't think he did.

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Monday, December 04, 2006

What's Up With That? #40: Garrison's Prison Break experience may come in handy

No one seems to be asking the essential question about last weekend's accident involving Prison Break star Lane Garrison, in which one of Garrison's passengers — a 17-year-old boy — lost his life, and two other passengers — both 15-year-old girls — were seriously injured.

So let me be the first.

The question isn't: Was Garrison intoxicated at the time of the crash?

The question is: What was a 26-year-old actor doing on a Saturday night with three teenaged minors — two of them 15-year-old girls — in his car?

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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

What's Up With That? #39: Sha Na Na no-no

A convicted child molester recently attended a Southern California charity fundraiser in support of abused children, posing as Bowzer, the gaping-mouthed greaser from the '50s nostalgia band Sha Na Na.

Bowzer himselfaka Jon Bauman — is reported to be "outraged beyond words."

I had to read this story several times before all of the implications fully penetrated my consciousness.

First: Of all the D-list celebrities in the world, who'd imagine that Bowzer is the one someone would choose to impersonate? You'd think this sex offender would have picked a star with more current cachet, especially if he's trying to get close to kids.

Second: Although Bowzer is understandably outraged at being impersonated by a child molester, deep in his heart of hearts he's got to be at least a little bit jazzed that a guy walked into a event and introduced himself as Bowzer, and everyone present didn't say, "Who?"

The last time I recall seeing Bowzer — the genuine article, not the sex-offending fraud — was about 20 years ago, when a fresh-scrubbed and degreased Jon Bauman hosted a short-lived revival of the game show Hollywood Squares. According to his official Web site, the Bowz still actively performs with a new nostalgia act, promotes oldies shows, and lobbies for legislation targeted against knockoff acts that tour using the names of musical groups from the '50s and '60s. (Now there's irony for you.)

As strange as the Bowzer's-pedophilic-doppelganger story is, it's only the second most bizarre fact connected with the formerly famous flexer. Top of the list? Sha Na Na was the penultimate act at Woodstock, immediately preceding Jimi Hendrix's legendary show-closing set. Of course, Hendrix once served as the warmup act for the Monkees, so I suppose turnabout is fair play.

Remember, kiddies: Grease for peace.

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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

What's Up With That? #38: You want hash browns with that?

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the $1.65 billion deal that made video site YouTube a part of the ever-growing Google empire took shape over breakfast at Denny's.

The Chron report states that YouTube co-founders Chad Hurley and Steve Chen noshed on Grand Slam Breakfasts and chicken fingers with Google topkicks Eric Schmidt and Larry Page as they hammered out the megabuck merger.

Wait a second...

You own a company worth $1.65 billion, and you're eating at Denny's?

For the kind of dough Hurley, Chen, Schmidt, and Page are throwing around, they can come to my place for their next businessmen's outing, and I'll fix them a decent breakfast. I'll even make eggs Benedict with real hollandaise sauce, instead of that faux petrochemical Cheez Whiz crud Denny's slathers on theirs.

I will, of course, expect a sizable gratuity.

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Tuesday, September 05, 2006

What's Up With That? #37: Dognapped!

The search is on for a stolen puppy belonging to an eight-year-old cancer patient at the University of California San Francisco Medical Center.

Chemo the puppy, a 15-week-old Chihuahua/Doberman mix belonging to young Kyle Wetle from Monterey, was taken from Kyle's parents' car on Saturday as it was parked in the medical center's garage.

Three questions arise from this story:

One: What kind of villain steals a dog from a car at a hospital? The first person to respond, "One sick puppy," gets spanked. Hard.

Two: How do you successfully breed a Chihuahua with a Doberman? I'm trying to imagine the logistics involved, and I just can't get there.

Three: Who feeds a puppy Skippy peanut butter and canned corn? Mr. and Mrs. Wetle, judging by the above photograph. (Apparently, Chemo prefers creamy over chunky.)

Here's hoping that whoever snagged little Kyle's dog — and you know who you are, Cruella — brings the pup back soon.

UPDATE, TUESDAY 9/5, 4:30 p.m.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported only moments ago that Chemo has been returned to a happy Kyle Wetle and his family, mere hours after I posted about the puppy's theft.

Once again, the power of the Swan sends the criminal underworld into cowering terror.

Now I just hope Kyle and his folks quit feeding the little mutt peanut butter and corn. Dogs are carnivores, people! At least switch him to chunky, for pity's sake!

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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

What's Up With That? #36: Deja voodoo

It's been a weird 24 hours for East Bay sports franchises.

Yesterday, the Oakland Raiders signed quarterback Jeff George, who last threw a pass in anger during an NFL game five years ago. George, now age 39, was the Raiders' starting QB for two tumultous seasons in 1997 and 1998, following which he was pretty much ridden out of town on the proverbial rail.

This is the same Jeff George of whom, during his previous tenure in Oakland, hostile Raiders fans often spoke with the same vitriol as Mel Gibson addressing an arresting officer. That's no exaggeration. Search though you may, you will not find more aggressively passionate sports fans anywhere than among the Raider Nation.

Then today, the Golden State Warriors — whose home court shares the same property as McAfee Coliseum, where the Raiders play — fired head coach Mike Montgomery and signed as his replacement 66-year-old Don Nelson, who previously helmed the Warriors during the glory days of Run-TMC (the storied backcourt triumvirate of Tim Hardaway, Mitch Richmond, and current Warriors VP of basketball operations Chris Mullin).

This is the same Don Nelson who left Golden State halfway through the 1994-95 season, after a series of conflicts with prima donna big man Chris Webber. Most recently, Nellie enjoyed a highly successful six-year run as the head coach and general manager of Mark Cuban's Dallas Mavericks.

So, what — it's Old Home Week in Oaktown? Next thing you know, Reggie Jackson will be playing right field for the Athletics, and The Arena in Oakland will play headquarters to a hockey team called the California Golden Seals.

Both of these reunions — George and the Raiders, Nelson and the Warriors — possess all the potential for joyous harmony as the reunions of Kim Mathers and Eminem, and Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee.

We all recall how well those turned out.

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Monday, August 21, 2006

What's Up With That? #35: Scarier than Snakes on a Plane

Speaking of large, scary beasts — and we just were — pity poor Samuel L. Jackson.

Sam and his wife LaTanya Richardson just paid out $8.9 million to buy Roseanne Barr's mansion in Beverly Hills, only to have Roseanne tell them afterward that she has hidden nude photographs of herself all over the house.

That sure seems like something you should be legally required to disclose before the sale, doesn't it? I mean, suppose someone should stumble across one of those pics accidentally, without prior warning? No human heart should be subjected to that kind of shock, out of the blue.

Of course, it could be worse.

Roseanne could have hidden recordings of herself singing the National Anthem.

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Thursday, August 17, 2006

What's Up With That? #34: Living in the land of short eyes

You know, I love living in Sonoma County, but sometimes, I have to wonder.

Thirteen years ago, we had the Polly Klaas murder.

In 1998, science fiction author Isaac Asimov's son David turned out to be the local king of child pornography.

In the early part of the current decade, revelation after revelation about pedophilic priests in the local Roman Catholic diocese made daily headlines in the local newspaper.

Now, one of our former residents confesses to the murder of JonBenet Ramsey.

It must be something in our water.

For the sake of the county's Number One industry, I hope it's not the same water they're using in the wine.

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Tuesday, July 18, 2006

What's Up With That? #33: You can't overlove your innuendo

It's been on the air for more than a year now, apparently without protest. Which may suggest that I'm the only person in America who's creeped out by that pedophilic Fruit of the Loom underwear commercial.

You know the one I mean.

Tell me there's nothing uncomfortably eerie about grown men dressed up like fruit — in the literal sense of the word — singing longingly about "a boy in pure white briefs" (the boy in question being perhaps ten years old in the video), concluding with the line, "You can't overlove your underwear."

And the title of the ad is "Ripe for the Pickin'." Puh-lease.

What ad agency concocted this spot — NAMBLA?

Actually, it's The Richards Group, a billion-dollar agency based in Dallas, which represents top-shelf companies ranging from Hyundai to Home Depot. They ought to know better. (I suppose I've just shredded my chances of ever writing copy for them.)

And before you ask, no, it's not just the man-boy thing. The ad would be no less hackle-raising if the apple guy was crooning about prepubescent girls in white cotton panties. Or if an adult woman dressed like Carmen Miranda sang the praises of skivvies-clad minor children of either gender. It's the subtext that matters.

The infernal thing is, that jingle is awfully darned catchy. I find myself wandering absent-mindedly about the house, extolling in song the joys of pederasty.

It's icky. That's all I'm saying.

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Thursday, June 01, 2006

What's Up With That? #32: Prince Albert in the can, redux

For the second time in the year since he became ruler of the tiny European principality of Monaco, Prince Albert II of the Grimaldis has 'fessed up to fathering a child out of wedlock.

Big Al's most recently identified progeny is a 14-year-old girl living near Palm Springs in the southern California desert. The teen's mother is a former waitress with whom Albert enjoyed a brief fling in 1991, while she was vacationing in France. Last summer, the prince acknowledged another illegitimate child, a son now age three, conceived by a former flight attendant from Togo.

I still have the same two questions I was asking last year about this time:

Question one: You're the billionaire prince of Monaco, and you're hooking up with flight attendants and waitresses?

Question two: Do they not sell condoms in Monte Carlo?

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Monday, May 22, 2006

What's Up With That? #31: Escape From Alcatraz (Elementary School Edition)

In local news today...

The big story is Braxton Bilbrey, the seven-year-old kid from Glendale, Arizona, who swam the 1.4 miles from Alcatraz to San Francisco this morning.

In icy-cold, shark-infested San Francisco Bay.

What were this kid's parents thinking? Are they that publicity-hungry that they would subject a second-grade child to that kind of dangerous stunt?

I guess it worked. Here I am, writing about it.


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Saturday, February 04, 2006

What's Up With That? #30: Putting the "Ho" in Tamahori

Just when your Uncle Swan thinks he's heard everything there is to hear in the world of celebrity bizarreness, something like this leaps up and gobsmacks him.

Lee Tamahori, the New Zealand-born filmmaker who directed the most recent James Bond 007 film, Die Another Day, got busted in Hollywood recently for prostitution.

Not for seeking prostitution, mind you. For soliciting acts thereof.

According to a spokesman for the Los Angeles City Attorney's office as quoted by the Associated Press, the director of Mulholland Falls and The Edge...
...was dressed in a black wig and off-the-shoulder dress when he approached an undercover police officer in Hollywood on Jan. 8 and offered to perform sex for money. He was arrested for investigation of soliciting an act of prostitution and loitering with the intent to commit prostitution, both misdemeanors.
One can only hope that Tamahori was just doing research for an upcoming film project. You know, like Winona Ryder was when she boosted that gear from Saks.

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