Friday, August 29, 2008

People on TV don't just contract herpes out of the blue unless it benefits the plot somehow

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Ross. Rachel. Barney Fife. Dr. House. Mr. Furley. Mr. Roper. Voltron. Eddie Haskell. Lovey Howell. Potsie. Punky. Punky's "dad" or whatever. Mr. Drummond. Isaac. Doc. Captain Stubing. Kramer. Barney and Betty. Optimus Prime. Megatron. Gargamel. Samantha. Jeannie. Majors Nelson or Healy. Lou Grant. Bob Newhart. Darryl. Darryl. Lt. Columbo. Buffy. Trapper and/or BJ. Theo. Rudy. The fat quiet kid from next door to the Cosbys. The fat quiet kid's fat quiet father. None of these fictional characters has ever -- and I stress EVER -- contracted herpes for no reason, unless it benefited the plot in some way.

I have not seen, and I feel confident in saying I will never, ever see, a rerun of "Golden Girls" where Blanche tells Rose over their morning coffee that "the basement storage unit is on fire" because she contracted herpes from some younger man she met and had elderly-person intercourse with -- and then Rose grimaces briefly, says some snappy comeback, the studio audience chuckles, and we move on with the rest of the episode nonchalantly without reference ever again to the herpes. It will simply never occur.

I will never turn on my television to see Scully pause while leafing through a manila file folder to wiggle uncomfortably in her chair with one hand discreetly out of sight -- and Mulder will never say, "Something the matter?" and Scully will not reply, "Nothing. Just my herpes flaring up. It'll pass." Never. Not unless the herpes came from an alien and they are investigating this.

Timmy never took Lassie down to the drugstore to fetch his herpes medication. Not even once. And the people behind "Lassie" would never have written such a story unless Timmy's having contracted herpes became integral to the dramatic resolution of the story. Timmy obtained the wrong medicine, let's say -- something dangerous. And he took that instead of his herpes pills. He collapses on the walk home, foaming a bit at the corners of his mouth and convulsing. And Lassie has to fetch help. That might work. But it would be a stretch, narrative-wise.

Nor will I ever, if I live to be a million years old, ever see an old Warner Bros. cartoon where Wile E. Coyote gets a delivery of Acme Herpes Ointment, steps modestly behind a desert rock, appears to apply the herpes ointment liberally to his groin, wipes the excess ointment off his paws onto his thighs, then continues in his latest unsuccessful attempt to catch the Road Runner. Only would this happen if it was necessary to continue the story. Maybe he's trying to lasso the Road Runner and the greasiness from having herpes ointment on his paws makes the rope slip through his fingers. Even then, one might argue why this particular turn of the plot requires Wile E. Coyote to have contracted herpes in the first place -- why isn't the condition he's treating eczema, for instance? Why specifically herpes? Who gave it to him, and how does this affect the nature of his character?

But I can pretty much guarantee it will never, in the history of narrative art, ever happen. I swear, it's not going to happen. Even if they start making new Road Runner cartoons.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

How to be a healthy man: 3 quick tips

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* according to the May 2007 issue of Men's Health magazine, which I was stuck reading cover-to-cover in my barber's waiting room in July 2008 (and yes, I'm aware of the significant time discrepancy there).

You are a man! Unless you're a woman. But otherwise, you are a man! But if only men knew how to behave. Someday, we'll invent a male-mother-type person who will provide a good example for you as you grow older. Until then, Men's Health magazine fills in that crucial void between infancy and adulthood where you have no idea how to express your masculinity beyond the usual way (into an old sock).

These are three actual tips on maleness and health, according to Men's Health, May 2007:

1. Buy a cow.

Presumably you have to eat every day, right? And you eat only cow meat, right? Except for vegetarians and people with heart conditions and people who tend to eat balanced diets? But let's not confuse the issue -- you eat only cow meat. According to Men's Health, May 2007, the most economical way to feed yourself is to "buy your own cow."

It's not as weird as it sounds. The rest of the article doesn't suggest keeping livestock yourself. That would just be crazy! No, you're advised by Men's Health, May 2007, to get together with several other cow-meat-loving men (presumably middle-manager-in-finance types also in Men's Health's demographic) and all pool your money together to buy a cow from a local farm. Then you have it killed to provide all of you with cow-meat steaks. One way to kill the cow would be to read to it from Men's Health, May 2007, until it dies of boredom.

It's simple and economical! In fact, cow-meat steaks of the grade that you, as a middle-manager-in-finance reading Men's Health, would normally eat cost about $9 a pound in the grocery store. Buying your own cow costs "$2.69 a pound."

2. Hire the right person for the job.

If you're in a middle-managerial sort of position in finance, it's a bit scary conducting job interviews, isn't it? You're holding someone's career and potentially your own and the fate of your company in your hands. This person across the gray conference table from you has a family, or may be starting one, and has an entire life of experiences beyond your conference room. Will he show up on time? Will he be ambitious, or just slide by? How much can you really know a person, based on a simple resume and half-hour chat? How will you be sure this person will be good for your company?

Fuck that shit. Here's what Men's Health, May 2007, says about hiring people:

"He smiles way too much. What's he smiling about? Is he listening to some sardonic voice that only he can hear? ... One day, when the stakes are high, this greasy stoat will rear up on his hind legs and hurt you, unless you strike him down first."

Good to know! You might also want to force your interviewee's arm behind his back until it pops out of his shoulder joint, then when he's on the floor writhing in pain, urinate on him. That should illustrate your company's management structure.

3. Respect the ladies.

No matter what you may think, Mr. Middle-Manager-in-Finance-at-whom-Men's-Health-is-Pitched: women are not just a collection of hard-to-reach spots guaranteed to make her beg for more when you interact with them (i.e., the spots). Women are not just high-maintenance shrews so emotionally devious that you need a columnist's advice to keep their high-flown wedding plans at bay. Women are not just put on God's green earth to prance around in a bikini, selling you expensive vodka.

Women are also smart! It's very, very weird but true! Men's Health, May 2007, has the science to back it up. This is a quote:

"A woman's brain is, in fact, roughly 10 percent smaller than a man's."


"But ... women's brains contain the same number of neurons; they're just packaged together more firmly and tightly, like breasts in a bustier."

Women's personalities, it should be noted, are also pretty much like men's personalities, except they're longer and shaplier in the calf and thigh areas -- and their hopes and fears are the same, too, just much more pinchable and they tend to sculpt their pubic regions.

Using these quick tips, it should be fairly easy to go from simply having a penis, a Y chromosome, and an asshole with hair on it to being a healthy man in American society today. That said, please direct all complaints to: Men's Health.
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