Monday, May 18, 2009

Pleasure Yourself

Q: What comes in a shiny pink package, is nicknamed the "chocolate finger," and is marketed towards women with ads saying "Pleasure yourself" and "Naughty, but not that naughty"?

A: A candy bar, silly. What else did you expect?

According to NPR, your source for breaking news on sexually explicit candy bars:
The Snickers bar has a new sibling, and it's a girl.

She's sexual, uninhibited — and only 85 calories. The "Fling" is the first new chocolate bar Mars has introduced in more than 20 years.

Wrapped in a shiny pink and sliver package, this delicate "chocolate finger" is intended for women. The word "finger" is an industry term for a long, slim confection, Mars spokesman Ryan Bowling says, but with ads that invite you to "Pleasure yourself" in pink lettering, consumers might come to other conclusions.
I can only venture to guess that the Mars candy bar company has had record low sales to women, resulting in ridiculously desperate attempts to reach their target demographic. And rather than giving us a subtle reminder of how sensually delicious chocolate is, they've decided to shove it down our throats with a marketing campaign written by someone who has read one too many Danielle Steel novels. I'm surprised it doesn't vibrate.

Also, it has no nuts. What kind of a candy bar is that? I love me some chocolate, but gimme my snickers.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


You ever have those days where you learn potentially devastating news, have a mini heart attack, spill your coffee in a frantic fit of irrational behavior over this piece of news, and then later learn that everything is a-okay?

Well, this is the opposite of that:

(un)Breaking News - on Specter

Turns out that Sen. Specter got the message -- via Adam Green on OpenLeft.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Zombie pirates/Arlen Specter

People are inspired to write for different reasons.** Some by love. Some by loss. Or some, like me, by the repulsive tactics of politicians. Earlier today I learned that Sen. Arlen Specter, who recently volunteered himself for the Democratic Party, decided to sink to new lows of election campaigning.

Senator Specter launched a new website, called Upon first glance, the site appears to be focused on raising money to fight cancer – not much of a surprise since he is a two time cancer survivor himself. Afterall: money = research = advances in curing cancer = good. According to the website:
Senator Specter has launched “Specter for the Cure”, a bold new initiative to reform our government’s medical research efforts, cut red tape and unstrangle the hope for accelerated cures.

The sufferers of cancer, autism, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, diabetes and too many other afflictions have waited long enough. It’s time we unleashed the cure.
But scroll farther down and you learn that any money collected from this excuse of a project goes not to cancer research, but to his own re-election campaign.
Become a member, today, of Specter for the Cure. Please contribute to Senator Specter’s re-election Committee – Citizens for Arlen Specter.
It’s one thing to use your personal experiences and triumphs over a horrible disease as evidence of perseverance and strong leadership. But it’s another thing to use your cancer survival and passion for finding a cure to get people to donate money to a completely different cause. Granted, if he wins, he might do a lot for the funding of cancer research. If not, the money just went out the window.

As a health reform advocate, I understand that Specter’s party switch could be a very good move for the passage of a bill. But that does not excuse his shameful tactics.

**Author's note: This blog has been in hibernation for well over four months. While I’d like to admit that I was captured by zombie pirates, I was warned that any disclosure of the truth would result in my recapture. In short: This blog is back from the dead.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Parais j'te aime

Been in Paris for nearly a week now, and as I told a friend earlier, I am not getting tired of it...but I am ready to stop being a tourist and start a new life as a Parisian. The city is absolutely beautiful and full of life. I've found the people here to be really friendly, even in spite of the fact that I don't speak their language. I couldn't imagine if I were a foreigner coming to the US and half-expecting/hoping that Americans would speak my native language. I can't picture the expression of the check out clerk at my local grocery store if someone asked, "parle vous Francais? Je nes parle pas anglais." We are lucky bastards, is all I've gotta say.

Over the last few days, I've hit the usual spots -- Louvre, Musee d'Orsay, Notre Dame, Eiffel Tower, Montmartre, etc. I preferred the Musee d'Orsay over the Louvre, primarily because of a wonderful exhibit they have on Picasso/Manet, and the inspiration that Picasso got from Manet's famous Le Dejeuner sur l'herbe.

After first seeing Manet's painting, Picasso interpreted and reinterpreted the painting in various forms. The exhibit takes you from the original Manet painting, and walks you through Picasso's various interpretations including: sketches, paintings, cardboard cutouts, and sculptures.

Both the Louvre and the Musee d'Orsay have extraordinary collections and it's hard to believe that the paintings and sculptures in front of me were the real thing; world famous original works of art. There was such a sense of familiarity, yet only from the pages of books, prints, or the internet. Experiencing the original, actual pieces of art in plain view was something else.

Speaking of Picasso, I visited the Picasso museum yesterday and it stands out as my favorite in the city thus far. Not only is it literally around the corner from my Marias apartment, but it is very intimate and feels like a small gallery -- a nice respite from the Louvre! The building used to be an old hotel, and it was there that I had a little fun with my camera and played around with the distorted mirror they have on the grounds facing the museum.

Between museums and tourist sites, I decided to visit a different type of place -- a Fromagerie! At the recommendation of my guidebook (and my waiter at the Louvre's cafe), I trekked to Quatrehommes, a cheese store on Rue de Sevres. It was there that I truly discovered that cheeses are world of their own -- with different textures, flavors, ages, colors, and smells. There must have been about 200 types of cheeses there! Appartently, France has over 500 varieties of cheese from cow, goat, and ewe's milk. That said, there are only five types of cheese: fromage a pate demi-dure (semi hard cheese), fromage a pate dure (hard cheese), fromage a pate molle (soft cheese), fromage a pate parsillee (marbled/blue), and fromage d'chevre (goats milk). Anyhow, the women behind the counter weren't particularly interesed in chatting, but recommended two cheeses (I think in an effort to get me out of her store as quickly as possible) -- a Mont d'Or and a Fougerus. So I took her advice and have been enjoying the two in the few hours that I've spent at my apartment.

Moving along...the weather has been pretty lousy the entire time, which you can probably judge from the photos. However, today there was beautiful sushine and I chose to avoid any indoor activity and romp around the city taking more photos. I made a valliant effort to make it to the Eiffel Tower for the sunset, but was about twenty minutes shy and caught the tail end of daylight.

Frustrated as I was that my only sunset of the trip was quickly fading away, sitting underneath the Eiffel Tower at dusk did make for a lovely evening.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Ou est la toilette?

Typically, I like itineraries. They give me a sense of purpose. They keep me on schedule and prevent me from, well, doing exactly what I did today – carelessly explore and casually stumble upon, hypothetically speaking, a giant ferris wheel and tantalizing treats.
The day began with a sense of purpose: first the Louvre, then coffee at Angelina, then chocolate at Jean Paul-Hevin, followed by dinner somewhere back in the Marais. Yet upon leaving the apartment on the late side, my first priority was lunch. So I stopped at Victor’s where I got a tomato, chevre, and rosemary baguette which I took to-go as I found my way to the store that sells multi-day museum passes (a must if you're in the city for more than a few days). This was easier said than done. It is located in a place called Le Forum des Halles – aka Hell with a pretty name. The place is a giant underground mall fully equipped with an H&M, Gap, and Starbucks. When inside Dante’s third circle, it only took about 45 minutes to find what I was looking for, and when I thought I was only minutes away from the Mona Lisa, nature called.

The five gallons of water that I drank before I left the apartment was ready to gtfo. My search for the toilets began. On the bright side, one of the five phrases that I can utter in French just happens to be “Ou est la toilette.” Great! Wrong. Knowing how to ask the question doesn’t necessarily guarantee that you’ll understand the answer when spoken in French. Lesson learned. Another 20 minutes and .40 euros later (you have to pay to pee) problem was solved. So finally, hours later, I realized it was probably too late to see the 300,000+ square feet of world famous art. And my day could finally begin.

I walked from Le Forum des Halles down the Rue du Pont Neuf and over to the Rue du Rivoli – a busy street with large brand name stores like Zara and Levis. I then turned onto Rue de l'Amiral de Coligny – home of the well known bar called Le Fumoir. While I didn’t stop in, it is a place I intend to return at which point I can testify to whether it lives up to it’s “fashionable” name.
From there, I wandered over to the Louvre, mildly jealous of the cultured tourists exiting the building, and continued to the Q du Louvre where I walked along the Seine which looked pretty bleak in the cold and cloudy temps.
From there, I wandered into the Jardin du Carrousel, which I believe (I could easily be wrong here) was a scene in the Audrey Hepburn film Charade. Somewhat creepy with the carousel music and ornate plastic horses, I took a few photos and wandered over to the hugest ferris wheel I had ever seen in my life – covered in bulbs that changed colors every 10 second and probably visible from Italy. Time for a ride! By this hour it was dark and the buildings and sights were all lit up – making this a particularly fun find. The view was spectacular, although my camera wasn’t able to capture one-tenth of it. The city lights outlined the streets and most historic buildings making it look like a city scene made out of light-brights – apropos for the City of Lights.
There was more to my day, including exquisite pastries at Angelina, a walk along the Champs-Elysees followed by high-end boutique window shopping on the Rue St Honore (where lingerie can cost more than a single-family home at la Perla), and then a delightful French dinner in the Marais. All things considered, no itinerary was needed. But those stories will wait until a time when I am more awake. Bonsoir!

American in Paris

Bonjour Paris! I arrived around noon yesterday after a long, turbulent flight that had me convinced we’d land on the island of Lost before arriving in France. As luck would have it, we survived and my 900 sq ft suitcase and I navigated the wet, cobblestone streets to arrive at my new home for the next 9 days – an apartment off the Rue de Archives in the Marais Quarter of Paris.

Feeling rather jet lagged and sleep deprived, I used my first afternoon to wander aimlessly around the Marais. The quaint beauty of the area is striking, making me feel like I’ve stumbled onto an old French film set rather than walking around a modern day neighborhood in a real life. The shops that line the streets are a mix of boutiques, restaurants, boulangeries, brasseries, chocolate shops, and small markets specializing in fish, meat, or fruits and vegetables – which all display their specialties in storefront windows beckoning for passersby to enter. Unable to resist temptation, and rather hungry, I picked out a delicious looking square of focaccia bread that was covered with chicken, veggies, and spices that I could take to-go as I continued walking. (I’m sure the French translation of what I ate would make it sound much more appetizing and it would live up to its deliciousness. Sadly, my language skills on day one are limited to “si vous ples,” “merci,” and “je ne parle pas francais.”)

The chilly winter temps weren’t keeping people in doors, and the outdoor seating in the cafes was packed with people reading, drinking, and chatting under heat lamps. Almost everyone looked quite stylish – the uniform of choice for men is skinny jeans and converse, while most women were wearing leggings and tall boots. Clearly I have some shopping to do if I’m to fit in. Better get to it!