Saturday, January 3, 2009

Walking in a Winter Wonderland, and Jennifer Aniston Naked.

Been a busy day today...

I got up at 6:30 to feed the cats and to give Ethin his insulin.. and made the decision to stay up. Looking outside, I saw that we had a little dusting of snow and thought "Hey! This would make for a great sunrise pic!". So I got dressed, grabbed my camera, and sat on the couch to wait the hour or so until sunrise.

And woke up at 10:00.

Needing a coffee in the worst way (and not having any in the house), I threw on my coat, grabbed the nearest available laptop, and hopped the bus downtown - destination: The Fyxx on Broadway.

While standing at the bus stop, I marvelled at the scene before me... it was still snowing, covering the world in a beautiful white fluffy blanket. Noting that my bus was parked with its flashers on some blocks away, I seized the opportunity to take a few pictures of the neighbourhood covered by that same beautiful white blanket of snow.

Of course, "beautiful white blanket" will eventually give way to nastier epithets tomorrow while I'm trying to clean off my sidewalk... but I digress.

One meandering bus ride and short walk later, I arrive at The Fyxx, grab a seat, order a coffee, and fire up my laptop (Amelie, my Powerbook 1400c) for a little bloggin'. Powered her up, made sure my wifi connection was set, opened my email app and - *pop* - Amelie powered off.

Lesson for the day: Make sure laptop battery is charged before leaving house on MoBlogging excursion.

*sigh*

I finished my coffee and made my way to CityPlace, at which point I decided to head home to drop off my laptop. I wanted to do a little shopping, and there was no point lugging comatose Amelie around. Luckily for me, my bus was just pulling up to CityPlace when I got there... back to West Kildonan I go!

An hour and several buses later, I was walking into Polo Park - destination: McNally-Robinson (I truly miss their Portage Place location, which would have eliminated this trip altogether if they hadn't moved!). I'm a month behind on my magazines, so I grabbed the latest issues of World Soccer, Metropolis, Adbusters, and GQ.

Yes, GQ... the bible for all young middle-class wannabe-fashionistas. I started reading GQ back around the turn-of-the-Millenium for some help in the wardrobe department. Back then, my wardrobe consisted mainly of blue jeans and plain white (or plain black) t-shirts, great for casual dining at the mall food court or fast food chain, but a rather poor choice for a "nice" restaurant with the girlfriend (or, at that time, someone else's girlfriend). Using GQ as a guideline and with a little advice from that same girl, I managed to build up a respectable wardrobe...

That was years ago, though. Nowadays, I'm told I look like I just stepped out of a Film Noir detective movie - with my two day growth, long coat, scuffed dress shoes, and slacks & shirt that smell faintly of whiskey and look like they'd been slept in. All I need is a fedora to complete the look!

But anyway, back to the story... where was I? Oh yeah, GQ.

I headed over to Second Cup on Darwin's Corner for another coffee and a mid-afternoon snack. Grabbed a table and opened my copy of GQ. It was that issue of GQ with "everybody's favourite Friend"... with the nude pics of Jennifer Aniston. My expectations were low, and frankly I wasn't disappointed. When the various gossip columns and sites* started talking about the photo spread a month ago, I knew it was all hype. I mean, this is GQ, not Hustler, Club, or even Playboy, for Christ's sake! There would be little to no real "nudity", just a few airbrushed cheesecake shots and a small article informing us readers that, despite having just turned 40, Jennifer Aniston still looks great** and is dealing with the media circus surrounding herself, Brad Pitt, and Angelina Jolie.

After reading the article "The Man's Guide to Getting Productive", I glanced at the alleged photo spread. Just as I thought... three pics in all: Two that look like her old Calvin Klein underwear ads, and a pic of her wearing nought but a strategically placed necktie... that same pic that all the media outlets/blogs/websites were showing as an insider's "sneak preview" about a month ago. Ain't marketing hype great? The article (yes, I do read it for the articles) was also exactly as I'd figured.

Much Ado About Nothing

After finishing the article, I put GQ back into my shopping bag and pulled out my World Soccer mag. But despite soccer being one of my three passions in life (next to alcohol and writing), I couldn't put the whole GQ/Aniston thing out of my head. It bothered me, and I couldn't think why...

Am I embarrassed to admit I fell victim to marketing hype and a chance to see a Hollywood star nude (or semi-nude)? Well no, because I was going to buy the magazine anyway, regardless. Was it was because the article and pictures failed to live up to the hype? Again, no - I didn't have grand expectations to begin with (besides which, Courteney Cox was my favourite Friend). Was it because the hype was being used to draw regular readers' attention away from the fact that each issue of GQ is progressively thinner than the last yet the price remains the same? Partly. My problem, if you want to call it that, was with the hype itself, another product of the self-referential celebrity worshipping culture that abounds.

It's an old story. I stopped taking TV seriously back in the late 80's/ early 90's when shows like A Current Affair, Hard Copy, and Entertainment Tonight were all the rage (the previous generation would say the same about tabloid rags like The National Enquirer, et al). Two events stand out as being the proverbial straws that broke the camel's back in my case:

The Cheers Murders: Either A Current Affair or Hard Copy (I can't remember, the two shows were aired back-to-back) did a show about a double murder they dubbed the Cheers Murders. Some guy who was an extra on Cheers committed a double murder. He appeared for little more than a millisecond in one episode of the show, where he was seated at a table at the far back of the bar. He probably had little to no interaction with the main cast, and was little more than a passing thought to the production crew. Yet, somehow, that millisecond of onscreen time was more than enough for the bottom-feeding papparazzi to link him to the show. We were treated to an episode of Current Affair/Hard Copy staff interviewing the cast and crew of Cheers to garner their feelings on the murder, and to tell what they remember about their time with the offender... which obviously wasn't much. "Who? Don't remember him, but damn, what a shame that two people lost their lives... a real tragedy. Now excuse me. Places! Ready, Ted? Rhea? George? All set, John? 3... 2...1... action!"

Teri Weigel's burgeoning porn career:
Again, an A Current Affair/Hard Copy "exclusive". Teri Weigel, a former (1986?) Playboy Playmate, landed guest appearances on a couple of episodes of the hit FOX show, Married... With Children. Sometime thereafter, she embarked on a career in adult films. We're talkin' hardcore porn here, not those comparitively mild Playboy videos! Of course, because of her appearances in a mainstream, prime-time sitcom, the news was simply scandalous, at least to the good folks at A Current Affair/Hard Copy. They interviewed Teri Weigel who said the cast of "Married.." were all very supportive of her decision. Cast and crew of "Married...", however, were unavailable for comment. Who? Really? Hardcore porn, you say? Maybe if I saw a video, I may recognise her, uh, face. Now excuse me. Places! Ready, Ed? David? Katey? All set, Christina? 3... 2... 1.. action!

These, and other stories like them, had me wondering "Why the Hell is this news? Who the fuck cares?" and above all, "Why do people like, let alone watch or read, this crap?". But apparently, people seem to like the stuff. They eat it up, smile, and come back for more. When I realized that TV (and mass media in general) was becoming more and more tailored for people like this, I followed the old adage "Don't like it, don't watch it", and started seeking out alternative forms of media.

This was around the time when affordable public access to the Internet thus World Wide Web was first available, which was great... for the first few years, anyway. But that's a rant for later. It's after 9pm, I'm getting hungry, and could use a martini or two.

* If you're wondering why I read gossip/tabloid sites after doing nothing but bitching about them, wonder no further. I don't read them. My email account, an old Netscape webmail account that I've had since the 90s, is now handled by AOL/Time-Warner, who bombard their associated sites with this crap so that it can't be missed. I suppose I could switch webmail providers but they're all pretty much the same, and I'd have far too much stuff to move over to a new account.

** Don't get me wrong. I'm not complaining about Jennifer Aniston or the GQ article per se. She does indeed look good, and I think it's absolutely great she can hold her own in an increasingly youth-obsessed industry. I'm hoping this finally kills the widespread belief that women over a certain age are no longer viable in leading roles in Hollywood.

*** This post has been an inadvertent exercise in irony. On one hand, I'm praising alternative media while bitching about tabloids and mass media, on the other hand I'm talking about Playboy, GQ, and engaging in gossip. Irony is a wonderful thing. That said, how many of the free-thinkers among you visited this blog because you read the words "Jennifer Aniston Naked" on someone else's blogroll? Suckers! :P