Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Honeytrap

26 year-old England resident Samantha Phipps thought that her string of dating missteps had come to an end when she was introduced to Jack Ewing though a mutual friend. According to Phipps the two had an instant connection, “I used to count down the minutes at work to when I could see him. We had a fantastic relationship.” Within six weeks the couple had moved in together and Samantha’s streak appeared to be over.

Then one day she took his cell phone in for repairs and after it was operational again she saw a rather explicit message from another woman. Understandably upset, she confronted Jack about the illicit correspondence which he quickly dismissed as a wrong number and reassured her that his commitment to their relationship was beyond reproach. Still suspicious, she took to the Internet and stumbled across a woman known as Miss Honeytrap who specialized in testing male fidelity.
Miss Honeytrap
After Phipps coughed up a $320 fee, Miss Honeytrap arranged to bump into Jack at a pub and subtly indicate that she was interested in what he had to offer. If he took the bait, Honeytrap would arrange for a rendezvous at a local hotel where Samantha could show up and confront her man’s philandering ways. If he refused the advances, Samantha would be able to bask in the assurance that her domestic partner had eyes for only her.

As per their agreement, Samantha arranged for Jack to be out with the boys at a local watering hole and the trap was sprung. The next day Samantha called Miss Honeytrap for an update and according to her the report was grim:

“He bought her a drink and half an hour later they went outside and kissed. They even arranged to meet again on the Tuesday night. She gave me all the details of where they’d be meeting, the hotel and what time and asked if I wanted to go. I was heartbroken. He’d fallen for her so easily.”

The next day Jack left for work, never came home again, then texted Samantha that their relationship was over. Distraught, Samantha allowed some of her friends to take her to a wine bar at the end of the week to get her out of the house. Once there she ran into Jack and Miss Honeytrap out on a date. When confronted, they confirmed that they had been seeing each other since the first night at the bar. Even worse is that fact that Jack had been seeing the mystery texter, but he insisted that Miss Honeypot had made an honest man out of him. Honeytrap has even suspended her practice in the wake of their relationship. Samantha is reportedly still seeking a refund.
Jack & Samantha
 While at first glance Miss Honeytrap’s actions may seem callous and unthinkable, it is possible that she is just being thorough. After all, while a verbal agreement to a meet a strange woman at a hotel is suspicious, Miss Honeytrap could not be 100% certain that Jack was unfaithful unless she had sex with him. Any consummate professional will tell you that customer satisfaction is the top priority and Miss Honeypot took too much pride in her work to chance missing a last minute change of heart that could salvage a meaningful relationship. While other fidelity testing services offer only circumstantial evidence and conjecture, this woman was willing to go the extra mile to make certain her target was not a man of his word. If anything, Samantha owes Miss Honeypot a tip and an Angie’s List recommendation.

If it is any consolation to Samantha, I am sure Jack and Honeytrap will develop a deep emotional bond based on mutual respect and trust. Just because a man will abandon his girlfriend and current mistress for a complete stranger whose initial interest in him was funded by said girlfriend doesn’t mean he is incapable of a mature relationship. Miss Honeytrap has even given up her lucrative career of hitting on men in order to dedicate herself to making their love last.

I do wonder how Miss Honytrap got into the business to begin with. Did she wake up one day and think, “If I am going to hit on men in monogamous relationships anyway I might as well get a tax deduction out of it?” Private investigation is one thing, but hiring someone to proposition your significant other could be a self-fulfilling prophecy. What if the situation you orchestrated turned out to be the only time they would have ever strayed in the first place?  

I certainly don’t feel that Samantha gave up much of a catch. Judging by the photo, this guy is on the express train to goober-town and I am sure that she could do better. Any man who gets his girlfriend to fix the phone he uses to secretly correspond with his mistress instead of doing it himself is either really stupid or really lazy. Neither quality screams “keeper.”

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Decline of Rock Lyricism

Against my better judgment, I recently decided to listen to the local rock radio station for a few days to catch up on developments in the world of modern music. After two days of being subjected to the newest offerings, I am ready to declare that rock lyricism is dead. The days of lead singers plumbing the depths of their souls and slaving over layered allegories are long gone, replaced by what I can only assume were words hastily jotted down on a napkin at White Castle.

The first offender is Ohio-based rock outfit Foxy Shazam, a band whose chart topper “I Like It” is a subtle tribute to the posterior of an African-American female:

Verse Sample
My gangsta girl
With the wavy curl
And a sexy
Street talking slang
You mesmerize
Me and you mess with I
When you booty pop and drop it
Like it aint no thing

That’s the biggest black ass I've ever seen
(And I like it, I like it)
That’s the biggest black ass I've ever seen
(And I like it, I like it, a lot)
(repeat ad nauseam)

While I can appreciate the ethnic diversity expressed by the group, their delivery makes Sir-Mix-A-Lot seem poetic. Plus, if her buttocks warrant such attention this poor woman may very well be suffering from elephantiasis or some other chronic medical condition in which case the lyrics may as well be “That’s the most debilitating case of Type II Diabetes I’ve ever seen” (And I Like It).

The narrator does seem to have formed a deep emotional bond with the young lady so I was dismayed when the song ended without a resolution. Did she reciprocate? Did the “poppin’ & droppin’” continue like it “ain’t no thang?” In my mind the couple is currently planning a medieval-themed destination wedding and making plans to open a bail-bonding service called “Big-Ass Bonds,” but I am a bit of a romantic……

The next offender is Canadian collective Theory of a Deadman, whose single “Lowlife” is a high-brow ode to those who exist outside the boundaries of acceptable societal norms.

Verse Sample
A gun-packing, bitch-smacking, mess with me it's gonna happen
Loving life living in sin
No sleeves, can't read, doesn't even phase me
Naked, sleeping like a baby tonight
I'm a cash-stealing, drug-dealing loser without any feeling
Getting trailer trash tonight

'Cause I'm a low life, and I'm loving it
I've got the whole damn world in the palm of my hand
I'm a low life, so f*****g deal with it
No you can't change something that you don't understand

While a lesser group might have simply declared the protagonist a lowlife and asked the audience to accept their categorization on faith, T.O.A.D provides a wealth of empirical evidence to support this classification. The citizen in question enjoys domestic violence, narcotics trafficking, and embezzlement between bouts of extreme inebriation. Of course, the career options for an armed, illiterate alcoholic with anger issues are somewhat limited. Outside of starting a militia or Canadian rock band the future can seem pretty dim.

The next offenders are Pennsylvania rockers Halestorm, who latest single “Love Bites (And So Do I)” speaks to an entire generation of men looking for a meaningless rebound relationship with an overly-aggressive stranger.

Verse Sample
I slither like a viper And get you by the neck
My lips are pale and vicious. You’re foaming at the mouth.

They say it’s blind they say it waits but every time it seals your fate
And now it’s got you by the balls it won’t let go until you fall

You’ve suffered in the darkness. I’ll suck the pain right out.
So come and taste the reason I’m nothing like the rest.
I kiss you in a way you’ll never forget about me.

That bitch can eat her heart out
Love bites, but so do I, so do I.
Love bites, but so do I, so do I.
Love bites!

One could reasonably argue that the devastation of lost love is an inexhaustible source of material for songwriting; and while there are a plethora of songs dealing with the emotional aftermath few, if any, openly reference testicles.

While I am glad to see more women fronting rock bands, I am just a bit confused by the serpent imagery. Is she the snake? If she is the snake doesn’t it seem superfluous for her to suck out her own poison? I cannot tell if this is a metaphor or a first aid course.

I do love it when lyricists utilize commonly-occurring behaviors as the basis for their exclusivity. What makes her unique? Is it the fact that she believes herself superior to the young man’s previous love interest?  For instance, if your song gains popularity because a large number of people identify with the line “I’m nothing like the rest” doesn’t that nullify the line’s meaning? Just once I would like to hear a rock song that says, “While I may not make you forget about her, I possess a nurturing disposition and understated sensuality that she is unwilling or unable to showcase.”

While we can attribute the other bands’ lyrical shortcomings to inexperience, the final entry has no excuse. Van Halen’s long-awaiting David Lee Roth comeback album launched with the body-art ditty “Tattoo”.

Verse Sample
I got Elvis on my elbow and when I flex, Elvis talks
I got hula girls on the back of my leg and she hula's when I walk
Best believe that needle will hurt you
Best to see these true colors than follow one of your false virtues

Swap meet Sally, tramp Stamp Tat
House-wife to bomb-shell in the time it took to get that new tattoo
Tattoo Tattoo
Tattoo Tattoo
Show me your dragon magic
Tattoo Tattoo
So autobiographic

Including the title, the word “tattoo” appears no less than 20 times in the song. Even for a guy whose sole purpose is to provide marginally-palatable lyrical accompaniment to Eddie’s playing this seems sub-par. While I do applaud the way he highlights body art’s ability transcend one’s station in life (house-wife to bomb-shell) I think he could have been a bit more specific. After all, a tastefully placed butterfly could be alluring while a prominently-displayed Yosemite Sam might go the other way.

Roth is also sending mixed signals concerning his overall fitness level. While being able to “flex” one’s elbow at 57 is impressive, the fact that his legs jiggle so violently as to animate several hula girls seems troublesome. To be fair, he does get somewhat philosophical concerning a tattoo’s ability to “hurt you” by showing “true colors”. At least I assume his intention was to pre-emptively warn would be recipients of body-ink’s ability to convey one’s unspoken thoughts and not to literally decry physical pain and unintended color saturation.   

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Hangover Heaven

As a board-certified anesthesiologist, Jason Burke had plenty of lucrative career options. Hospitals, specialty clinics, and outpatient surgery centers around the country are always looking for competent professionals, but he decided that he could best serve humanity by treating one very underserved affliction; the Las Vegas hangover. Thus, Hangover Heaven was born.

Armed with what appears to be a decommissioned Aerosmith tour bus, Burke and his staff cruise the Vegas strip in search of those whose evening debauchery has left them with morning discomfort. For a few hundred dollars, you will be placed in one of the bus’s six bunk beds and connected to an IV drip of proprietary hangover-busting health elixir which promises to have back you ready to make poor decisions in no time. For those unable to extricate themselves from their hotel room, Hangover Heaven even offers in-room service for an additional surcharge.
While I can definitely see the market for “in-room” treatment, Dr. Burke may be placing himself in a vulnerable position because there are nicknames for people who spend extended periods of time in the Vegas hotel rooms of excessive drinkers: accessories after the fact. Even so, this might still be preferable to driving handfuls of extremely nauseas people around in a windowless bus for an hour because I could definitely foresee some custodial issues arising.

The website features video testimonials from customers like Michael who, after consuming at least “three bottles of vodka” by himself, found it difficult to get out of bed the next morning. In another video, Alex reveals that after “thirty drinks or more” he woke up suffering from nausea and a headache. Richard claims that he drank for a straight ten hours. All three gentlemen indicated that within an hour of receiving Dr. Burke’s treatment their hangovers were gone.

The video testimonials are somewhat odd in the fact that they seem to be differing perspectives of the same night since all of them feature the same males and one blonde female in the background. It is puzzling that we are not presented with the female’s testimonial but I assume that she was still filling out some paperwork at the police department and was therefore unable to appear.

While I admire the entrepreneurial spirit of Dr. Burke, I will be somewhat concerned if his business flourishes. After all, if your daily level of alcohol consumption requires the intervention of a physician perhaps you should spend the $200 on a substance abuse program instead of intravenous pharmaceuticals. There is also an irony into peddling the “health benefits” of a treatment to someone who refers to drinking an entire bottle of vodka at 5:30 PM as “the pre-game.”

I imagine it is only a matter of time before Dr. Burke adds other depravity-erasing services to his standard hangover treatment. For the evening that really got out of hand he could offer a penicillin injection / marital counseling combo deal or BOGO on nipple-piercing reversals. If he formulates a serum to cure regret and self-loathing there will be no stopping him.

In all seriousness, if you need an entire medical staff you restore you to functionality you might want to try taking it easy the next day. After 40 brake-fluid shooters the night before, there is no shame in pansying out with a glass of red wine and a chef salad.

I always felt that a hangover nature’s way of reminding you that jello shots do not constitute a food group. After all, how many of us remember waking up from a night of indulgence and saying to ourselves “If only I had consumed more alcohol this wouldn’t have happened.”  By the same token, it takes unwavering dedication to wake up in a debilitating stupor, take a long hard look at your life and say, “What can I do to recover from this so that I am well enough to do it again within 12 hours?”

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Canadian Beauty

Recently I came across the unique story of Jenna Talackova. The 23-year old Canadian beauty pageant contestant was a finalist to represent Canada in the Miss Universe competition until she was disqualified by officials for violating the bylaws. What rules did she break you might ask? Did she lie about her marital status? Was she photographed snorting cocaine off the ticket counter at a Dave & Busters? Quite the contrary, Miss Talackova was removed because she was born a man.

Although Jenna has identified herself as female since age 4, began hormone therapy at 14, and had gender reassignment surgery at 19; officials insist that she is in violation of the most fundamental requirement of the event: being a woman. In response to her disqualification, Talackova hired an attorney and has demanded that the Miss Universe organization supersede regional stipulations and let everyone compete regardless of their gender at birth.

Donald Trump, who owns the Miss Universe Pageant, has responded that as long as she can satisfy local Canadian parameters to compete he would not prevent her from representing Canada were she to win. Whether or not she is in violation of local rules remains hazy since her Canadian birth certificate, driver’s license, and passport all list her as female, but she is accused of lying on her entry form when identifying herself as such. If anything, her androgyny was not exactly a well-kept secret since she openly competed in the largest international transgender beauty pageant in the world prior to competing for Miss Universe.

The situation is a complicated one since the general idea of having rules is to insure the competition unfolds on a level playing field. With that in mind, I am not sure anyone would argue that being born with a penis is an unfair advantage in an internationally-televised female beauty pageant. If anything, the extra equipment would make you the underdog. And, since the Miss Universe pageant allows contestants who have undergone cosmetic procedures, they certainly cannot disqualify her for any surgical “enhancements.”

Even from a legal standpoint they are on shaky ground since all her government issued identification lists her as a female. While I am on the subject, how exactly does one go about having their birth certificate revised?  Is that like a change of address form in Canada or are they legally obligated to wait several years to make the final call on gender? I thought the entire purpose of birth certificates was to provide an iron-clad legal record of a human entering the world.  

Superficially speaking, I doubt many would argue Jenna made the wrong call in adolescence. What I am saying is that if you were to place Jenna in a lineup with Ke$ha, Jillian Michaels, and Skid Row-era Sebastian Bach and ask, “Can you identify which ones are rocking a Y chromosome?” I doubt she would be either of your first two guesses. In a competition where participants are allowed unlimited surgical enhancements, I do not see the harm in letting Jenna compete. After all, if she got through the swimsuit competition without anyone questioning her pedigree there must be something to her claims of genetic femininity.
More than anything, I am thankful every time the media reminds me that Donald Trump owns the Miss Universe pageant. I can think of no one more qualified to oversee a competition designed to showcase the delicate mystique of today’s modern woman than the man who complimented his daughter on national TV by saying, “She does have a very nice figure. I've said if Ivanka weren't my daughter, perhaps I'd be dating her.” While Mr. Trump’s spokesmen later insisted he was joking, Ivanka may want to make sure nothing gets changed on her birth certificate….

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Neighborhood Watch

On February 26 at 7:25 PM, Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman inside the boundaries of a gated community located in Sanford, Florida. We know that at 7:00 PM Zimmerman called 911 to report a “suspicious person” walking in the area whom he admits to following. The dispatcher urges him to discontinue the pursuit and at some point Zimmerman loses site of Martin.

We know that Martin was on the phone with his girlfriend at 7:10 PM and at some point after that Zimmerman and Martin’s paths crossed again causing an altercation. At 7:25 PM the local 911 dispatch center receives multiple calls describing someone “screaming” and “hollering” for help. In the aftermath, we learn that Martin was unarmed and on his way back to his father’s house after purchasing a bag of Skittles and an iced tea. When police arrive at the scene of the shooting, Zimmerman is bleeding from the nose and back of the head and insists that he fired his weapon his self-defense.

Sadly, those two paragraphs constitute almost all of the independently-verifiable facts in Trayvon’s death. Zimmerman insists that Martin viciously attacked him and was slamming his head into the sidewalk. Meanwhile Martin’s girlfriend indicates that Zimmerman’s account is inaccurate and that he, not Trayvon, was the aggressor. Neither version can be completely corroborated, so the absence of facts has led to an onslaught of reckless conjecture.      

Many of Trayvon’s supporters insist that he was the victim of an overzealous racist, who murdered a 17-year-old boy and is hiding behind an archaic self-defense law. Zimmerman’s supporters portray him as a concerned citizen who narrowly escaped dying at the hands of a violent troublemaking thug.

Let me be clear, I have not seen a single shred of evidence that George Zimmerman is a racist or even began that evening with the intent of ending someone’s life. He did, however, disregard common sense and official advice in continuing to pursue Trayvon. Like it or not, this decision allowed a series of events to transpire that ended in Trayvon’s death.  Had he simply placed the call and gone home, there is no reason to believe this would have become anything more than an inconvenient misunderstanding.

Almost more infuriating than the incident itself is the irresponsible rush to either unilaterally condemn or fully exonerate Zimmerman based on facts we don’t currently have. The Black Panthers announced they were offering $10,000 for the capture of Zimmerman while the shooter’s supporters began circulating a photo of a shirtless, saggy-pants Martin flipping the two-handed bird. Then the character assassination began. Zimmerman’s supporters reminded everyone that Martin was serving out a suspension from school after being caught with an empty baggy of marijuana residue and Martin’s advocates responded that Zimmerman had been previously charged with domestic assault and resisting arrest.

First of all, I did not even know The Black Panthers were still around or that they were solvent enough to come up with $10,000 in cash. I have a feeling that even if someone were to "capture" Zimmerman and attempt to claim the money the Panther’s would insists the reward be distributed as a gift certificate to their online store. Dear Panthers, there are much better uses for that money so do us all a favor and occupy yourselves with identifying some of them.

Secondly, how desperate are you to portray someone as a thug that you would publish and circulate a photo of someone before bothering to confirm the identity? The photo was plucked from the Facebook page of another African-American male named Trayvon Martin who resides in a different state; but even if it was him how does it shed any light on the events of that fateful evening? If the existence of a shirtless double-bird pic is a viable reason to implicate someone in the commission of a crime, Kid Rock would be on his third appeal already. Furthermore, if I am Zimmerman and trying to prove I am not racist the last thing I need is a bunch of outspoken supporters who are unable to tell one black male from another. 
The other Trayvon Martin
What it boils down to is whether or not George Zimmerman was acting within the constraints of the law when he used his firearm on Trayvon Martin. If he was not, then he should be found guilty and punished accordingly. If his actions were lawful and he truly was in immediate mortal danger then Mr. Zimmerman cannot be held responsible for crimes he did not commit. Either way, I suggest he retire as neighborhood watch captain.