1. The annual fee isn't that expensive, and you could share your subscripton with someone and alternate payments each year. (Or you can get a $6 month-to-month subscription to try it out.)
2. The content is progressive--or liberal, I guess, depending on where you stand--and interesting.
3. If you've been thinking about getting a newspaper subscription, get this instead. It's better than most locals, and it's online.
4. I could link to stuff and people could actually read it.
5. I won't have pimped in vain, courting legal reprimands by inappropriately excerpting text from their web site in a well-intentioned desire to promote them!
Your daughter's a ho! (OPINION)
New Rule: Your daughter's a whore. According to the FBI, there's a new wrinkle in prostitution: Suburban teenage girls are now selling their white asses at the mall ... to make money to spend at the mall! Wow, I can't even find an escalator that goes down.
Oh sure, I know what you're saying: Upper-middle-class Caucasian teen whoring is something that happens to other people's kids. But our little Ashley trading her coochie for Gucci? No way!
Editor's note: HBO's "Real Time With Bill Maher" airs Friday nights at 11 EDT and is repeated throughout the week. This is adapted from the "New Rules" segment of the show.
A textbook case of bad science (TECHNOLOGY & BUSINESS)
Defenders of evolutionary theory in Texas say creation scientists are getting sneakier -- and more successful -- in getting their views into public school educational materials.
"The creationists are getting more and more sophisticated in their message and their tactics," says Samantha Smoot, executive director of the Texas Freedom Network. "They've stopped demanding that evolution not be taught, or that creationism be taught on an even par with evolution. Now they're demanding something that sounds more subtle and more reasonable but that is equally dangerous, which is that the so-called strengths and weaknesses of the theory of evolution be taught. It's 2003, and we're defending the theory of evolution?"
Too savvy to let themselves be labeled creationists in 2003, these critics of Darwin attempt to seize the scientific high ground by presenting themselves as the proponents of open debate in the face of scientific dogmatism. As one advocacy site, Texans for Better Science Education, puts it: "Open minds teach both sides."
Naked Vinyl (SEX)
Opening the delightfully trashy "Naked Vinyl: Bachelor Album Cover Art," is like ripping off that red rectangle to reveal a world of boobies, boobies, boobies and drinkies, drinkies, drinkies! It's a trashily enchanted universe where women naturists had an innate predisposition for come-hither looks, bouffant hairdos and exotic dance routines. Or at least they had the ability to hold a pose for a few extra bucks to help the guys spice up their stag parties -- the events the so-called bachelor music was made to accompany.
Stag parties! Such an odd, now mythic, term. Who really knows if they were truly the wild bongo shindigs where martinis shook, fondue pots bubbled and panties flew. Or were they for the legions of nebbish bachelors (and husbands) who were buying, hiding and privately devouring Playboy? Whatever, the stag party was an all-male universe, a place where guys got together to ogle images of women, to boast and guffaw about their sexual conquests and to drink gin.
Diary of a college girl, Part 2 (SEX)
After losing my virginity and suffering a miserable, histrionic breakup, my new boyfriend's Cusack-esque brand of sedation and comfort was ideal -- for a while.
There is such a thing as being too relaxed. Living in the Northeast, you learn to embrace the high-strung. Sure, I alphabetize my CD collection and find it impossible to walk slowly, even on the beach, even on vacation, even in Bermuda or some other tropical, languid paradise. But these are good things, things I've learned to like about myself.
For a year and a half I dated the slowest person on earth. I don't mean mentally slow, because he's not. I mean physically turtle-like. His roommates say it takes him 15 minutes to make orange juice in the morning. I don't think he's capable of running, even if his house were on fire, even if his pants were on fire, even if his crotch were on fire. He is ambling personified.
When we first started dating, I adored his marijuana-infused lethargy. Every night I would come over to his dorm room at midnight. We'd cuddle in smoggy darkness and watch the same movies over and over again.
My big fat mea culpa (NEWS & POLITICS)
I haven't decided to vote for Howard Dean, but after 10 days watching his campaign, I promise never to say he's unelectable again.
I saw parts of the Dean appeal quickly. He took the stage to frenzied applause, and asked the audience right away: "How many of you haven't been active in politics in the last 10-15 years?" And more than three-quarters of the crowd raised hands. He did his trademark transparency thing, apologizing for the fact that he was about to make a pretty formal policy speech. "There are some times in a campaign where you have to read speeches, and this is one. So forgive me if it gets drier than you're used to." He turns most of his imperfections into charm. His cellphone rang while he was speaking -- Lord, doesn't he have someone to turn it off for him? -- and he pretended the caller was Karl Rove. The crowd ate it up.
I ran into Well co-founder, entrepreneur and activist Larry Brilliant, the only other person besides Amy Rao I knew personally, and he was beaming. "Look at this crowd!" he said, marveling at its size and diversity. Later, he explained Dean's appeal in an e-mail. "Liberals like myself may be disappointed to find out he's a fiscal conservative, in the mold of Clinton not FDR, and a moderate on most things -- except this obscene ideological 'coup' of the Bush crowd. But I'm surprised how happy I am that someone is finally calling the emperor on the fact that he has no clothes. I was afraid Bush's deceptions would go unchallenged. That alone makes me love Howard Dean. I also happen to think he can win."
Barbie, Starbucks and freedom (ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT)
Much of the "illegal art" in a major copyright-infringement exhibition is just plain silly. But the giant corporations that dominate our culture want to squash it anyway.
Starbucks sued Dwyer for copyright and trademark infringement because, a year earlier, Dwyer had drawn a parody of the company's ubiquitous green-and-black logo and had printed it up on essentially everything he could sell: T-shirts, coffee mugs, stickers and the cover of the debut issue of his comic-book series, "Lowest Comic Denominator."
.... Much of the art on display here hasn't actually been the subject of legal action (not surprisingly, Starbucks seems to be more thin-skinned about these things than other firms). But almost everything at the show could conceivably bump up against some company's copyright or trademark, with the artists landing in a world of legal trouble. There are depictions of Disney characters in compromising situations, a drawing of Matt Groening's "Life in Hell" rabbit bitch-slapping the Trix bunny and a few naughty works concerning Wal-Mart, "The Family Circus" and the Sesame Street gang.
The idea, of course, was to get the masses fired up about corporate censorship of important art. The problem is, there's not too much important art here. Some of the pieces are funny and subversive, but much of it seems quite silly and tangential. Take, for instance, the photographer Tom Forsythe's series "Food Chain Barbie," in which the doll is seen in various puzzling poses having to do with food preparation -- Barbie is lounging in a martini glass, baking in an enchilada pan, looking happy in a blender, unmoored in a milkshake machine. This is the kind of art-chic idea that might have seemed vaguely "deep" on paper but, pulled off, appears frivolous.
What's more important, though, is that Forsythe's photos -- like so much of the work here -- are harmless. Barbie's lasting image, cultivated with millions of dollars over half a century, will not be damaged by this modest assault...
Next Page: A rare chance to see Todd Haynes' banned Karen Carpenter epic, starring Barbie dolls
Men in tights (and why we love them) (ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT)
Since the days of Douglas Fairbanks and Errol Flynn, swashbuckling heroes have brought much-needed joie de vivre to a cynical Hollywood. Can "Pirates of the Caribbean" revive that glorious tradition?
Swashbucklers are the most innocent of genres -- devoid of cynicism and populated by heroes who represented codes of loyalty and justice in an endearing way other heroes did not. Raymond Chandler may have described Philip Marlowe as a knight transplanted to the sleaze of Los Angeles, but the cynical, embittered hard-boiled hero (for all the sentimentality inherent in crime fiction and film noir) is light years away from the joie de vivre of the swashbuckling hero.
The thing that has always saved swashbuckling heroes from seeming like Boy Scouts in tights has been the self-mockery inherent in swashbucklers. The good-hearted pirates and musketeers, the lords and dons who looked out for the weak, were always motivated as much by a passion for fun as by a passion for justice. Swashbuckling heroes know that scaling walls, dueling with swords in both hands, leaping from sails and rooftops, is slightly preposterous behavior. The frequent laughter that split the faces of Fairbanks and Flynn as they were doing battle with some scoundrel was a sign of how lightly they wore their heroism, and a way of acknowledging and overcoming the audience's disbelief.
Vamps and villains (SEX)
Pulp art does not reach the "nice" areas of our brain. It is spicy and violent and aims for the gut, the groin and our deepest fantasies.
That simple but undeniable explanation of why so much pulp art was junked, and the fact that even many of the artists were embarrassed by this work, is the same explanation people would give for not hanging a piece of erotic art in their house, or for even admitting to an interest in the erotic. Like porn and erotica, pulp art does not reach the "nice" areas of our brain. It aims for the gut and the groin, awakening our unacknowledged fantasies, creating the immediate need to possess the object in view, to devour the secrets it promises, assuring us that this visual tease only hints at what's inside. In that way, the covers of pulp magazines functioned as the box covers of porno tapes and DVDs do now (which is why porn producers spend so much time and money on the box cover).
The twins thing (SEX)
Coors beer ads have created a fantasy scenario with an incestuous twist that communicates brilliantly with the piglike male brain.
The incest taboo has been a tough cookie to crack, but then, who's trying? Hooking up (voluntarily) with one's own parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, or cousins is not topping most people's sexual wish lists. Sure, it happens on occasion, and that bastard Freud insists we think about it, but moderately well-adjusted people seem to maintain their distaste for such behavior. So why has Coors risked millions of dollars on ads hinting at the one taboo that makes even the most sexually liberal among us squirm?
I looked to my male friends for insight into the matter. Their lack of it spoke volumes.
Greg, a 30-year-old business school student, went dumb when I asked him how he felt about the incestuous connotations in the "Here's to Twins" Coors ads. The look of incredulous annoyance on his face -- it read, "What the hell is your problem?" -- was one I would come to know well.
Catwoman reloaded: A new comic scrapbook shows why the feline in the shiny black bodysuit has the power to undo even the most rock-jawed superstuds.
G-strings and Ph.D.s: Katherine Frank stripped, interviewed her customers and then wrote a thesis about male desire.
Putting Mary Poppins under surveillance: More and more parents are using secret cameras to spy on the people who care for their kids. Are these "nanny cams" benign tools for concerned moms and dads -- or outrageous invasions of privacy?
Black like me -- but not too black: The American Society of Plastic Surgeons is promoting nose jobs for African-Americans that won't make their noses European -- just narrower, more refined, and without the flared nostrils. I'm not buying it.
The mystery-meat lobby bites back: Slapping country-of-origin labels on food products would benefit the global environment as well as American producers. So why did Congress just gut the new labeling bill?
Grounding the flying nun: Activists on the left and right -- including a 71-year-old Milwaukee nun and an art dealer who told other passengers that President Bush "is dumb as a rock" -- have long complained they were being hassled by airport security. After months of silence, the federal government says: It's true.
Beautiful young shock troops for Bush: At a weekend pep rally in Washington, a thousand college Republicans clap, cheer and party -- and reveal a troubling dark side.