Wednesday, April 25, 2007

When I grow up ...

I want to be Radar Magazine. This magazine always has hilarious, insightful stuff and has even survived 30 demises. It is unstoppable, that's how good it is.

Speaking of arranged marriages, the other day in Manhattan there was a speed dating event where the men had to prove they made 500k a year and had at least 1mill in the bank. And the women had to prove they were super hot by submitting 5 photographs of themselves. I am not making this up. The courageous investigative reporters at Radar went undercover and got their super-funny Neel Shah into the event. The piece shows the event to be as absurd and hysterical as you think it is.

PS - Be sure to view the CNN clip ... Human Rights Lawyer my arse ... and CNN reporter lady, of course that guy is straight, look at his sweater?!?!?! No need to insult the gay community.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

The NBA Playoffs!

UPDATED: 4-22-07

Last year's playoffs were very intriguing and made for some amazing match ups and games. I believe tv ratings for last year's NBA playoffs were up over 10%. I hope that trend continues, because this year's match ups seem even better than last year.

Here's how they will go:

Eastern Conference:

#6 New Jersey vs #3 Toronto (Toronto in 6)

This is a very interesting match up. New Jersey has underachieved all season, though they can point to injuries to explain some of that. They are now somewhat healthy and have their big three (Carter, Jefferson, Kidd) rolling.

#4 Miami vs #5 Chicago (Chicago in 7)

#8 Orlando vs #1 Detroit (Detroit in 5)

#7 Washington vs #2 Cleveland (Cleveland in 5)

Western Conference:

#4 Utah vs #5 Houston (Houston in 6)

#7 Los Angeles vs #2 Phoenix (Phoenix in 6)

#6 Denver vs #3 San Antonio (San Antonio in 5)

#8 Golden State vs #1 Dallas (Dallas in 6)

*I will be detailing my thoughts in the next couple of days and updating this post. I understand no one who regularly reads my blog will care (maybe Diane?) but just humor me folks!?!?!?! Hah. And seriously people, I am a basketball sage! Behold as my playoff picks, one by one, come true!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

I say: Bad Advice

****[Poster's Note: This is a long post. It's probably overly long. It's my worked up ramblings over a particular letter and response in an advice column. Check out the previous post to read the letter and response. In any case, I would highly suggest to simply skim over this post to get the gist of my ramblings. I'm not entirely sure why I have gotten so worked up over this but I simply believe it was bad advice, glaringly bad. That might be an overreaction on my part. I dunno. I feel a little silly to have gotten so worked up, but whatever, I thought the advice was bad. However, I just want to make sure that my post doesn't sound like marriage is the ultimate answer for every woman (or man). I actually think it is the arranged marriage that foments this stereotype, that everyone should be married by 35 AND have children. In reality the opposite is quite true. Marriage is not for everyone, and neither is having children. Some marry later in life, and just as (if not more) happily. While some have children first then get married down the road. And still others enjoy a rich, full life without the so-called "institution" of marriage. This is what I believe and I hope the wording of my post doesn't sound in opposition to this. Wow. This post just keeps getting longer and longer.] 4-22-07

I'd like to thank everyone for sharing their thoughts on the Dear Prudence letter I posted. The comments ran the gamut and I must say I was both surprised and intrigued.

The reason I posted was because I (basically) went temporarily insane when I first read the letter and response. I have read Emily Yoffe's articles (mostly Human Guinea Pig) for a couple years now and find her to be a very astute and witty person. Never would I have thought she would respond to Confused in the way she did. As I mentioned earlier I do not read the Dear Prudence column regularly, but I've read enough to concur with my earlier assessment of Yoffe. So I was simply dumbfounded to read Yoffe's response to Confused. I even emailed Yoffe thinking she must be a little naive in her understanding of what an Indian Arranged Marriage is. She was kind enough to email back, but it was a perfunctory "I appreciate your thoughts" along with an example of happily arranged married Indian Male Doctor, though she did add that she wasn't very familiar with an Indian arranged marriage. I, naturally, thought she didn't comprehend the impact of such a tradition from the female (potential bride's) perspective and fired off another email pointing out the problems in her reasoning. She was kind enough again to give me a "I appreciate your thoughts" reply, though this time the reply more than hinted at her conclusion that I must be a crazy person. I must admit that I stupidly used the Shilpa Shetty/Richard Gere incident as support of my argument, but I hadn't seen the video. So I had to reply with an apology for bringing up Richard "Dirty Old Man" Gere, but (clearly) the absurd response by Indian/Hindu Nationalists gives my argument a few points. In any case, more of the Shetty/Gere incident later. Along with my apology reply I added "no need to return a perfunctory reply" and I haven't heard from Prudie since.

I'd like to discuss, in-depth, my problems with the Indian/Traditional Arranged Marriage (especially in today's context) but the more I think (and get worked up) about it, the more my thoughts touch on other matters dealing with the subject of modern relationships. But I must first explain why I find Prudie's response such bad advice.

I must start with this important thought: That whether one thinks Prudie's response is good or bad advice rests, a good deal, in how they define an arranged marriage (especially in this particular case) and in how they characterize Confused. Confused describes herself as "very independent" and living life on her own terms. As she is a (relatively) young immigrant from India, I find this to mean that she does not subscribe to all the traditions (and let's face it, patriarchy) of her native land. She also calls the idea of an arranged marriage "archaic" and "almost mortifying." So the question arises why is she even thinking about an arranged marriage. Well there are two interconnected answers. First, she's a bit panicky. She's from a culture in which being 30 and single is, absurdly, frowned upon and considered socially unfavorable. Even in our (USA) society and culture, things get a bit hectic for women the closer they get to 40. I can understand the childbearing element in this. But to panic at the age of 30, after a couple of relationships didn't work out is almost preposterous to me. Second, Confused comes from a culture in which the parents make a lot of decisions, especially when it comes to women. Her parents are most likely even more panicky than she is and want grandchildren yesterday, so they're applying some parental pressure towards the arranged marriage. I find it funny that she's moved to the US to become independent but now wonders if she should depend on tradition and her parents to find her a husband.

Still, I can understand Confused asking her parents to set her up with serious-minded suitors, something that eHarmony can do as well. But, I'm almost certain, that's not what her parents have in mind. They'll be finding potential husbands in India and across the US, I mean what are the chances the family they go to has a son who is in Confused's zip code? I mean she can't just go grab a coffee with these guys. And that brings me to the "dates" or meetings Confused will be having with her suitors. They might be chaperoned (it's not unheard of). And how many of these meetings will she be able to have before having to say "I do"? I'm guessing something like 3. And let's remember the tradition of an arranged marriage wasn't to benefit the brides. I mean what are these potential grooms expecting? Someone from India could be expecting a green card, it's not something that wouldn't matter. What I'm trying to say is that I don't really see how this is any less crazy than using something like eHarmony. But from Prudie's response, it's eHarmony that seems like the crazy choice. As I emailed, why not tell Confused to use both, sign up for eHarmony as well as ask the parents to introduce serious-minded suitors. In fact, the traditional Indian arranged marriage has made the digital revolution, check out a website like (shaadi = marriage in Hindi).

Once again, whether or not you find Prudie's advice good or bad rests with how you characterize Confused and what type of arranged marriage you believe her parents are setting up for her.

I think Prudie gave Confused bad advice because it seems Confused is just a bit panicked and depressed she hasn't found a husband yet. She, like many of us, most likely feels lonely and her biological clock is ticking. But she's still young, I mean she's only 30. (I wonder if Prudie would give the same advice if Confused was 25? And if not, why is it suitable to a woman only 5 years older? I just don't get it.) I would suggest Confused go ahead and sign up for eHarmony,, and other more serious-minded dating sites, as well as join as many extracurricular and activity clubs as she can (I understand finding a potential husband isn't as easy as joining a book club, but it wouldn't hurt to join one). At the same time Confused should ask her parents to be on the look out for serious-minded suitors, but they must understand that the potential couple must be able to get to know each other on some personal level before deciding to get married. If this doesn't work or fit in a traditional Indian Arranged Marriage, then she should reject that option.

To those who agree with Prudie, I must ask, what type of arranged marriage do you think Confused's parents have in store for her? Because I'd be okay with the advice, even with my anti-arranged marriage bent, if this was simply major-league, very serious setting up by the parents. But I'm almost certain it is not. Unlike using something like eHarmony, Confused is flying to meet someone and she must make a decision within a handful of "meetings". And while Confused mentions her parents will not force her to marry someone she doesn't like, does anyone think her parents will be okay if she quickly rejects a string of candidates? And there are so many terrible situations that arise from an atmosphere like this. Let's say she kind of likes the guy but isn't completely sure just yet. The guy is "smitten" and wants an answer quickly, will her parents not add some pressure if they like the guy? What if instead of liking the guy, she just doesn't mind him. Now she's facing some parental pressure for a man she's ambiguous about. And, once again I ask, how many rejections will her parents be okay with, until they add more pressure.

But what if things go well? She is set up with a decent fellow and they hit it off? What's wrong with them dating for a couple months? Or moving in together? And that's where my problems with an arranged marriage (especially of the Indian tradition) arise. It stems from a religiosity and conservatism in which pre-marital sex is considered taboo and living together is frowned upon. If it was up to me, I'd suggest each couple start to live together when they get engaged. I haven't had a relationship reach this level of seriousness, but I am almost certain that even if the couple are simpatico on several levels, living together will add a new wrinkle to the relationship, as well as will be great preparation. Anyway, that's just a personal opinion and I understand many (if not most) married couples do well even without living together pre-marriage. I'll stop here before I keep on rambling and people find me even more crazy.

I'd like to re-thank everyone for commenting. And reading through this long post.

PS - I guess I must be a bit honest in admitting this letter hits a little close to home (though not entirely people!?!?!). I'm a couple years away from 30 and I've yet to have a relationship that I would consider to have reached the "serious" level, the pre-pre-marriage level. But an arranged marriage is and will be the farthest thing from my mind. Perhaps this is why the letter and response resonated so much with me. I'd like to think I have a good deal of dating left, even though (of course) I'd like to meet my soul mate sooner than later. But Prudie's response to Confused takes on an anti-dating fatalism that seems absurd to me. Yes, Confused wants to be married but other than that doesn't find the Indian Arranged Marriage process all that inviting. To me it's clear, this means she should date seriously, which means signing up for dating websites which cater to more serious-minded daters (eHarmony, etc) as well as allow her friends and family to set her up with like-minded, serious suitors. But, for me at least, this doesn't mean she must go into a closed-minded process in which she's to select/attract a potential husband based on 90 minutes worth of so-called meetings and the good word of her parents (who don't really know the guy either). I'm sorry but I find that type of process limited and tenuous, or perhaps better described as archaic and almost mortifying.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Good or Bad Advice?

I love Slate. It's an online news magazine filled with insightful and enlightening articles and commentary. It's mainly hard news, but there are softer sides as well. One of which is the very popular advice column titled Dear Prudence. I don't regularly read it, but it's quite popular and regularly makes the websites most read section. Last week's column was particularly intriguing because the first letter dealt with the subject of arranged marriages. In any case, I am very curious as to what people think of Prudie's advice to this particular person. I have my own opinions on the matter and will immediately post them if anyone wants to know, but I thought I would just post the letter and response first and read what people have to say without my perspective. But, if anyone would rather I share my opinion first before asking of others' please let me know and I will do so ASAP.

Here's a link to the original column (it also has the other letters Prudie answered last week). Below is an excerpt of the first letter and response:

Dear Prudie,
I am a 30-year-old single woman who has been living in the United States for the past few years. I am considered smart, successful, and attractive and have an interesting and fulfilling life. But my family, who live in India, are worried that I'm still single, and have been trying to arrange my marriage. While I do want to be married, I've had a couple of relationships that didn't work out; I've been very independent and have lived life on my own terms—so I now find it hard to go through the arranged marriage setup. I know my parents will never force me to marry someone I don't like, but the idea of having an arranged marriage seems archaic and almost mortifying. I'd also like to believe that marriages should be based in love and there should be an element of romance involved. My mother thinks that as long as two people have a certain compatibility and mutual respect, love can happen later. What should I do?

Dear Confused,
Now that I have a daughter, I've come to see the wisdom of arranged marriages. What's she going to know about picking a mate? Right now, I have a few candidates I'm keeping my eye on—since my daughter is only 11, I have plenty of time to monitor how these boys turn out. You say you would like to find a husband, but haven't been successful at it. I understand your aversion to the idea of an arranged marriage, but as long as everyone understands you will not be pressured to wed the guy, why not see who your parents come up with? Certainly their knowledge of you, the young man, and the qualities two people need to get along has to be as good as the algorithms of Yes, there is an archaic quality to the notion of being introduced to someone you are supposed to marry, but that's the ultimate, if unstated, goal of most fix-ups. As for romance versus compatibility—you and your mother are both right. If you meet the man in question and you two fall in love, what a story of romantic destiny! And romance without compatibility and mutual respect—no matter how you two got together—is destined to be a relationship that didn't work out.

PS - I think I must add that the woman who currently authors Dear Prudence (Emily Yoffe) is a professional journalist who also pens Slate's very entertaining and insightful Human Guinea Pig column.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

A-Rod and Biff

A-Rod is a bit of a sports enigma. He's one of today's best baseball players, without a doubt. He's on track to challenge the new HR record that Barry Bonds will soon make. Many people say A-Rod is a savvy, charming person. But then a few people label him a bit fake or disingenuous; they say he doesn't always sign autographs and thinks about his image too much. I don't know A-Rod so I have no idea what type of person he is, but if he can play a little better in the playoffs, I'll be a very happy person. In any case, if you haven't seen this yet, A-Rod invited Biff Henderson (Stage Manager of The Late Show with David Letterman) to spring training to sharpen his baseball skills:

Here's the link. Click on the spring training 2007 clip. You will need realplayer or a realplayer plugin to view the clip.

Hooray, I found a direct link to the clip.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Music Post Numero Dos

So I'm trying to get back into shape. The last year or so has been all over the map for me fitness wise. I started out in great shape (don't make me post the photographs! ... actually if I do post them I might just give up and cry ... okay probably not, but let's not risk it) only to slack off and fall back into the dreaded skinny-fat-guy body. I got back on track towards the end of last year and I'll actually be posting about it and my current exercise and diet regimen sometime in the near future.

But let's get back to this post, which is a Music Post, and for those of you scoring at home this is numero dos. So I'm still a bit lazy I'm gradually easing my way back into my running regimen. One aid has been music. And so here is my current playlist while running:

1. Beyonce - Irreplaceable
2. Katherine McPhee - Over It
3. Nelly Furtado - Say It Right
4. Kylie Minogue - Love at First Sight
5. JoJo - Too Little, Too Late
6. Pink - Just Like a Pill
7. Avril Lavigne - Keep Holding On
8. Akon - Don't Matter

I am not making this up. I must add that I haven't bought any of these tracks. And I also listen to other tracks that I have left out (like S-Mac, Indigo Girls, Dolores O'riordan, Tori Amos, etc) because then this post won't be as funny. Still, I think the above playlist says a lot about me:

1. I am either gay or a thirteen year-old girl.
2. My man has done me wrong!
3. One day I'm going to be an independent diva, just like Beyonce.

Seriously though, why does every female pop music artist have to have a song about how her man did her wrong? There's Beyonce, McPhee, JoJo, Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson, etc. I know men cheat. But every single man? And if someone gorgeous and rich, like Beyonce, can't find a good man, I guess no woman can.

(Uses deep voice) But girl, that's just plain wrong. Let me break it down (do people even say that anymore?) for y'all:

Dear Beyonce and fly honeys bootylicious ladies everywhere,

I know men are dogs. But I'm here to let you know that's not always true. I know it can be difficult to not get cynical and pass on love and looks for money (you knowles who you are), but that's not the way to happiness. Many guys are honest and decent --- aw girl, this is getting too personal ...

(Clears throat, choking back the sniffles) Remember JuJu, when we were young and in love? All the way back in the Y2K? Things were going so well. But then one night you said you had to leave me at home because the club was jumpin', jumpin'. And then something about ballers and pockets full grown --- aw girl why'd you do me like that?!?! Awwww, it hurt so bad girl, it hurt so bad!?!?!

Anyway, that was a long time ago. And I'm here to let you know I'm over it, they'll be no more crying in the rain. He may believe you, but I never will. Never again. It's just too little, too late. In the end, You must not know 'bout me.


Good lord I hope someone finds this funny. This is my lame attempt at satire. Is it not a bit funny (if not ironic, disingenuous) that a pop singer is talking about being cheated on when years ago she had a song basically promoting cheating? Anyway, my lame attempt was funny when I hit the "publish" button, so it's not my fault. It must be a blogger error, or a translation problem.

And, yes, I know I need to get a life. I'm working on it.

PS - For some stellar music, head on over to Tori Amos' website and listen to three amazing songs from her new album.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Music Post Numero Uno

You may find the title to this post a bit strange. But it is not. Because this post will be followed by Music Post Numero Dos which will say a good deal about me, in a strange way, actually I'm a little embarrassed about it, but I won't chicken out and not post it. In any case, on with this post.

I just want to give a blog shout out (blog out?) (and is "shout out" still in contemporary vocabulary?) (and can I just string along parenthetical statements one after the other?) to two good songs.

The first song is a wonderful pop-folk paean to life. The song is "Blessed" by Brett Dennen. In order to hear it, visit Dennen's myspace page and select the song. Dennen also has a bunch of youtube vids, but none are of Blessed. Also, for anyone interested, here's a link to the lyrics of the song.

I do have the YouTube vid for the second amazing song. It's "Galileo" by the Indigo Girls. This is simply a cool song, check out the lyrics here. I do wish the chorus was little stronger, but perhaps I'm nitpicking. And in any case, I'm glad I have an Indigo Girls song I can name-drop to look coolly sensitive (which I am) and at the same time give me indie-cred. Fly honeys Empowered feminists, be on the look out for me.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Company Man

I really cannot stand the Bush Administration right now. And it's not like I can remember a time when I could stand them. But 7 years ago, as a naive and idealistic college student, I thought Al Gore was a sellout for not embracing Nader and the issues he was championing. And while, even then, I realized Bush would be bad news for this country ... I must admit that when the Supreme Court (basically) handed Bush the presidency I thought to myself, how bad could it really be. Ayup, I actually said that to myself. In my defense, at the time I had no idea the Bush campaign had push-polled McCain so egregiously in South Carolina, nor that minority voters in Florida had been disenfranchised.

After 7 years of corruption, incompetence, and draconian measures the answer, for me at least, is quite clear. Though it took 6 years for most of the nation to see through the veil, something I find equally appalling but that's for another post (though I'm not even sure how that post would begin: "umm, thank you former pro-Bush'rs for realizing you made a colossal mistake"?!?!?). In any case, the Bush Admin is currently in the news for two major, tragic fiascoes.

The first is the widely reported and discussed firings of US Attorneys due to their views not being in line with the Bush Admin's. Not only does the utterly retarded Atty General, Alberto Gonzales, represent a corrupt and incompetent regime, he got the job in the first place because he's uber-loyal to Bush and Company. For those that are not familiar with "Fire-Gate" here's the cliff notes version (also check out Slate's coverage of the fiasco which was very, very early):
1. US Attys were fired, they claimed it was political.
2. AG and the Bush Admin said this was not the case.
3. Evidence (like emails which basically say, "Hey, how about we fire people that don't agree with us?") shows the firings were political.
4. AG and Bush Admin basically say, "Okay, maybe they were political, but no one at the top knew anything about it."
5. Evidence, in the form of AG's chief of staff testifying in front of Congress, shows that AG knew about everything and had meetings about the firings.

How the hell is Alberto Gonzales (AG) still in office? I mean this is beyond ludicrous. I really have no clue why AG is still around. And the worst part is that I don't want to be cynical and pessimistic, but it is so hard not to when a venal Attorney General should be fired and yet, absurdly, remains in office.

2008 cannot come any sooner.