What's the most appalling sign of the coming apocalypse? The fact that, despite the apparently inevitable recession, "hobo-style" designer handbags, some priced at upward of a thousand smackers, have been selling briskly -- or the fact that there are parents out there who are willing to shell out $3,000-plus to ticket brokers so they can bring their spoiled-rotten kids to tween singing sensation Miley Cyrus' cult-like pop concerts?
Put in context (and by "context," I mean the End Times that we're living in), neither is that bad. But you know what really bugs me? I don't know if you've seen this in the news, but there's a New York couple that paid Miley Cyrus $1 million to perform three songs at their daughter's Sweet 16 party and had their kid show up at the party in a $500,000, custom-made, Marc Jacobs-designed patchwork party dress made from recycled fabric from handbags repossessed from people who have lost everything in the subprime mortgage crisis -- and she arrived at the party in a rickshaw pulled by actual hobos. That, to me, is slightly overkill-y. But, sigh, I guess it's just a sign of the times.
I'm sort of excited, I guess, about the Amazon Kindle, the e-book reader that was launched last week -- but I'm less excited about the name. Makes me think of book burning. That's the best they could come up with?
Yes -- yes, it is. The runners-up -- Amazon Clunk-o-matic, Amazon Yet Another Gadget to Carry, Amazon Your Laptop Can Already Display e-Books But, Hey, This Ugly-Ass Thing Has a State-of-the-Art-Circa-1993 Black-and-White Screen -- were all deemed too cumbersome.
That whole Hollywood-writers-strike thing -- I don't quite get what's at stake. Can you explain it to me in lay terms?
It's really just a simple matter of semantics. Writers think the use of contracts that prevent them from sharing in internet revenue creates the unmistakable feeling of "simulated career drowning" and amounts to torture. Network and studio executives are all like, "Pshaw! Torture? You want to know what torture is? Torture would involve us physically hurting you -- like cutting off your fingers. Not that we want to do that, but if you keep talking about internet revenue ..."
I just read how Facebook offered $85 million to buy Zhanzuo, the Chinese collegiate-social-networking site. I went to the site to check it out, but it's pretty much all in Chinese, except for the "about us" page, which reads, in part, "Like the popular SNS [social-network-service] websites in the U.S., such as Facebook, Zhanzuo has captured the dynamic of active young internet users through connecting them with its interactive communication platform. Meanwhile, unlike those U.S.-based SNS sites, Zhanzuo goes deeper into the Chinese youth's life, before, during and after their time in school." How so?
Bizarrely enough, like other Chinese-made products that have been in the news lately, Zhanzuo metabolizes into the date-rape drug GHB when ingested. But actually, despite Zhanzuo's claim of market differentiation, American SNS have much the same GHB-like effect as Chinese SNS. When consumed in even small quantities, for instance, Facebook has been known to dramatically lower the inhibitions of, particularly, venture capitalists. Somewhere in Silicon Valley right this second, in fact, an investor is probably getting screwed after having used Facebook.
So Michelle Obama -- presidential candidate Barack Obama's wife -- is guest hosting on "The View" on Dec. 5. Hmmmm. Is that really a good idea?
Sure, why not? Look, if you're worried about equal-access laws, you'll be pleased to know that Elizabeth Kucinich is guesting on the CW's "America's Next Top Model," while Bill Clinton will be one of the contestants on VH1's "A Shot at Love With Tila Tequila." And Rudy Giuliani's third wife and John McCain's second wife are going to be doing an episode of ABC's "Wife Swap" to try to figure out if "values voters" really have a sense of humor. Fun!
I saw this odd little item in The Hollywood Reporter about how an Italian court just ruled that "reporting gossip in Italy will be illegal unless it helps make a larger point about the figure in question." Huh? Really?
First, I just want to point out that the timing is totally suspicious -- because the Italian court in question was just caught soliciting steroids in an airport restroom. Or, wait, no -- it was caught having sex with Barry Bonds. Uh. Um. You know what? It's not clear which, actually, but it's either one or the other. (Developing ...) That said, my larger point is that Italian courts are soooooo totally cute!
In all seriousness, I heard that you were giving away some of your favorite media products of the year -- like, specific books, magazines and DVDs -- and that all readers had to do was e-mail you for a chance to be randomly selected to get free stuff. Am I too late?
Depending on when you're reading this, hopefully not. The deadline is midnight EST -- the close of day -- Nov. 30. For specific details, read the column in my archives.
You must be a very kind and generous person.
Why, yes -- yes, I am.