Tuesday, January 31, 2006

FATTY FATTY...


...and more of your questions answered
by

the
crabby critic


Dear Critic:

I have been trying to lose weight. No matter what I do I can't stick to a diet. I try to start one and after a few weeks I get hungry and can't stop eating. My doctor gave me diet pills but I didn't feel good on them so I stopped taking them. I don't want to go to a gym because everyone stares at the fat girl on the treadmill. Can you help me?

Roberta from Washington


Dear Roberta:

There is an old proverb that says “when the pupil is ready the master will appear.” You’re not ready yet to lose the weight. You may have the will power for thirty seconds after flipping through a Sears’ catalogue or passing over the waifs decorating any number of fashion magazines – but that isn’t real will power. It’s just a sort of faux jealousy that creeps over you each time you disrobe and catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror and realize just how far removed from that ‘ideal’ you are.

Losing weight is NOT an easy undertaking. You have to want it – BAD!!!

To say you want it is not the same as wanting it outright.

My best advice would be that you get checked into a program that will provide healthy food alternatives that will be complimentary to your life style. I have no way of knowing how far off the scale you stand. If it’s just 30-50 pounds, you can get where you want to just by changing your diet and consumption habits and hitting the gym three times a week.

Now drop down and give me ten. I want to see Crisco leaking out those pores!

Just kidding.

However, it would be absolutely criminal of me to suggest that you go nuts with the weights if you are someone who needs the ‘Jaws of Life’ to hoist your butt from the bedroom to the can. If you are one of these people, then Jenny Craig isn’t going to fix your problem.

And anyway, anybody weighing that much should have clued into themselves by now that the problem isn’t about what you are eating, but about what is eating you.

Obesity isn’t a weight issue. Being fat is a symptom of some greater psychological turmoil. Either you’re punishing yourself for something that you have no control over (eg. you’re medicating yourself with food) or you’re the nervous type (eg. compulsively snacking and stuffing your cheeks to keep your mind off whatever’s giving you the jitters.)

Fat jokes aside – if you are able to go to the gym, then I say you go. If you ever encounter some skinny babe giving you the hard time or even the accusatory stare, then I’d turn to her proudly with something like,

“Yeah, honey. Just consider yourself fortunate…because if I could move faster I’d crush that bony ass between these love handles!”

Also, I wouldn’t look at the big (no pun intended) picture right now, if I were you. If it’s thirty pounds you want to lose – concentrate on dropping one, first. Say, when I get this one pound gone, I’m going to be so happy. Then be happy when that one pound disappears. Then move on to the next pound and the next and the next.

I wouldn’t recommend that you buy a home gym at this point in your recovery from lard because I think that if you did, that piece of equipment would just sit in a corner somewhere collecting dust. You need to get out and get busy with your routine.

Here’s a thought. Find out at the front desk of your gym when the least busiest time is. Then make a concerted effort to always go during that time and do your thing.

Hold your head up, girlfriend. Do you honestly think anyone who’s looking all svelte and buff in your gym today was just naturally born that way? Don’t tell me you’re the only chucky chick at that club…and if you are…then maybe its time to move over to another place that caters to people on the same level of weight challenge as you.

Why don’t you make the effort to take a 20 minute spirited walk every morning or every night when you come home from work – rain or shine! No excuses. I only want to see you miss a day if you’re sick in bed with a fever, giving birth or laid up with broken limbs.

THERE ARE NO OTHER REASONS TO MISS A DAY!!!

I’ll say this – I own a home gym – but only because I am committed to giving myself 40 minutes a day for five days of the week of intense cardio and weight lifting. I’m not aiming for Mr. Olympia – but I don’t want to wind up with a gut before my time.

Everyone gains weight as they get older. But it shouldn’t be more than say one or two pounds a year. If you’re doubling in pant sizes every three or six months – there’s a problem. My guess is that you’ve been smart enough to recognize yours. Now get off your tuckus and do something about it! Will power isn’t enough…but it’s a start!

Yours truly,
The crabby critic





Dear Crabby:

I disagree with your advice to the friend of the two married cheaters who were banging like bunnies. In this day of potentially fatal STD's, I would think it a crime not to warn an innocent party that they might be crawling with who-knows-what because a spouse has been unfaithful. See my point?

Meaghan


Dear Meaghan:

Frankly, no.

I’ll bet you’re the kind that listens into keyholes and goes through other people’s garbage for a thrill. The people who confided the affair to my reader are the cheaters! The people married to the cheaters are the one’s who should have their suspicions.

But some third party – who realistically, isn’t as close to anyone as they are to the gross little bunnies – really has NO business sticking her head down the rabbit hole. It will only be perceived as mean spirited or nosy at the very least.

Best case scenario – the person you tell the secret to (say the innocent wife of the cheater) believes you. She dumps her spouse with conviction but later regrets the decision because she sees you happy in your relationship and wonders what went wrong in hers. People are never intelligent enough to turn the pall of criticism on themselves first. This woman – the wife – will end up resenting that you ever said anything to anyone, and will also wonder how many other people you’ve told about the affair. She’ll wind up dumping you too and possibly spreading the rumor that you’re not to be trusted.

I say what I said before, Meaghan –

STAY OUT OF IT!

THIS ISN’T YOUR NIGHT TO PLAY INSPECTOR CLOUSEAU!

This is why I say it’s so important to pre-screen a mate before saying “I do.” You run less of a risk of getting burned down the bunny trail in the end if you’re more careful in the beginning.

Yours truly,
The crabby critic





Dear Crabby:

I think my husband is having an internet affair with some woman. What could he possibly see in her? She is at least twenty years older than I am, and we have two small kids. I have supported his dreams and goals the whole ten years we've been married. They write each other love poems that sound juvenile. I haven't confronted him yet. Should I? How do I go about doing it? She lives states away from us but I think they are planning to meet. He has no clue that I have caught on. I am Distraught.

- anonymous


Dear Anonymous:

If you’ve been the dutiful wife from the words “I do” then you ABSOLUTELY have EVERY RIGHT to CONFRONT the jerk of a man you married about his juvenile internet fling. Notice I didn’t say, affair? I disagree with many clinical psychologists that say internet foreplay is ‘cheating.’ Is it disgusting behavior that should not be tolerated? – DEFINITELY! But it cannot and should not be classified on the same moral plain as bi-weekly shack-ups at the local Motel 6.

I don’t think you should confront the other person in this flirtation, just yet. But you should sit down with your husband – calmly – and have an intelligent discussion about what’s been going on. This is easier said than done, I know – especially when your current gamut of self expression runs the very narrow stretch of either screaming at the top of your lungs with a tear-stained face or using a Ginsu for some homemade castration.

What you need to do is rehearse your little confrontation alone and more than once, so that by the time you get your husband in a room alone, you’ve drained all emotional bravado from the experience. Oh, and make sure there’s absolutely no danger of your kids walking in on this scene. Send them for a visit or out to play. No child should ever have to deal with parental stupidities.

Now, with your eyes never leaving his (and vice versa) you have to say something like “I know that you’ve been corresponding with someone in a flirtatious way on the internet. I know that you are planning to meet this person in person sometime in the future. I don’t pretend to know why. I thought we were doing all right. Evidently, I was mistaken. But I don’t believe in keeping secrets. Just wanted to let you know that I know, and, I also wanted to tell you that if you decide to proceed with that plan, you needn’t bother coming home. I couldn’t respect you or myself for being with you after that.”

It has to be that cold and calculated.

Don’t tell him that you think the woman he’s flirting with is ugly, stupid, fat, alcoholic…etc. It’ll appear as though you’re spiteful for doing so.

Don’t get hysterical and don’t allow your hypocrite of a husband his chance to speak. This is your shining moment in honor of being a good wife and mother.

Then, after you’ve said your peace, you need to get up very calmly and leave the room. Don’t let him give you 101 excuses why you’re wrong or provide fifty reasons why you’re clearly mentally deranged and need psychiatric help. When pushed into a corner most guys will try pulling the Jedi mind trick on their women – and many times, they succeed in getting them to reevaluate their motives and logic.

DON’T DO IT.

You’ve clearly given this situation a great deal of thought. If he persists on dogging you about your ‘craziness’ you simply need to give him the very direct, very monotone reply, “I have nothing further to say to you right now” and then leave.

Go upstairs, go to the can, go for a drive, visit a friend – but don’t share any of what’s transpired with anyone. Simply clear your head and do something, possibly with your children, that you all get pleasure from.

Make it very clear that you and your children will do all right without your philandering hubby. That you will survive, and more than that – flourish without him if he chooses to leave you for this other woman. Trust me – when you present a front that says

‘hey, bud – I really don’t need you. I’d like you to stick around, because, after all, I married you for better or worse, but it’s your choice now and this is what you’re giving up to be with her.’

The other person in the equation won’t appear nearly as attractive to your husband as she did before he thought he could get away with having her on the side.

GUILT is a great leveler. Part of the attraction of this internet fling is that he thought you didn’t know about it – hence, it’s been an adrenaline rush for him. ‘Look at me! I’ve got two women who think I’m a stud. Boy, I must be quite a guy.’ NOT!!!

Now that you know all about it, and you’ve made him aware that he’s not keeping any secrets, that Don Juan status has been deflated. If he’s any kind of a man, he’ll feel incredibly stupid and remorseful for playing the romantic fop, and he’ll feel sheepish guilt for treating you as less than a woman.

If and when he does come crawling back to you for a bit of forgiveness, then that will be the time for you – NOT to throw salt on the wound – but accept his return into the family fold. But NOT BEFORE. He needs to make a recompense for his actions – which so far, have not reached the irreprehensible level.

Your marriage may very well become stronger after this little episode. But I also want you to be prepared that it may fall apart completely. He may say, “Guess what? I don’t want to be your husband. I never wanted children. Screw you, and by the way, you’re not all that.” If he goes this route - there is NOTHING you can do.

You’re not a martyr but you do have to be mature about these things – painful as they may be - even as his mindset has degenerated to that of a teenager out on his first big date. Accept everything he tells you. Acknowledge that it’s over. Then nail that bastard’s ass to a cross with some severe court ordered child support and alimony. How sexy to the other woman do you think he’ll still be then, when half his check is going to you and your kids? …and that’s only as it should be.

You have my best, and my sympathies,

Yours truly
The crabby critic







Dear Crabby:

The girl I love doesn't love me back. How do I handle unrequited love?

- Jeffrey


Dear Jeffrey:

There’s an old saying: If you love something, set it free. If it doesn’t come back, hunt it down and kill it. I don’t advocate the latter half of this scenario, unless you want to wind up as someone else’s prison playmate for twenty-five to life.

It’s never easy to accept that your affections for someone are not reciprocated – but accept them you must! It will do you NO good to plot the many ways to her heart in your head. It will simply provide for more grief.

Do you honestly want someone who doesn’t want you in return?!?!?

Don’t be a fool.

She’s not the only woman for you – clearly you’re not the man she’s looking for. You can’t convince her of the contrary.

Sometimes unrequited love takes on the color and flavoring of outright obsession. The worst thing you could do is to pursue this girl with the idea that ‘oh, well – I’ll just wear her down until she says yes.’ At the very least, this line of logic will win you no additional points of respect or consideration – and at the worst, she could take out a restraining order.

Think about it – what an idiotic way to cultivate a police record. If you’re going to be a deviant at least be an infamous one and not someone that the guys in blue will be sitting around the precinct, discussing as “there goes Jeffrey so-and-so – complete moron who couldn’t get it through his thick skull that what’s-her-face thought he was a loser.”

What I would recommend is either a hobby or vacation or both. Get away from your current situation and clear your thoughts. The best way to move on is to get things off your chest. If I were you I’d write your thoughts – painful as they may be – in a journal with the last line being “…and I will never speak or write of this again.” Then DON’T! Make the concerted effort to NOT think about this person. Every time you find yourself dreaming a bit – shake the cobwebs from your brain and say to yourself ‘NO. I’m not doing this. I’m going to think about…oh I don’t know, work, cutting the lawn, working out, sleeping with the Playboy triplets'…anything and everything that doesn’t involve this other person.

I’d also recommend you take up weight lifting…what?!?! Yes – weightlifting. But why? Because unlike other physical activities – say like walking, jogging, swimming, etc. weightlifting requires total concentration on the part of the weightlifter – otherwise you’re likely to lift something the wrong way and injure yourself or drop a dumbbell on your head or something.

If you’re devoting 100% of your concentration to the barbell you’ll have 0% left to invest in this other person. Most bodybuilders refer to this level of concentration as ‘the zone.’ You need to put yourself in that ‘zone’ and keep putting yourself there each and every time you find yourself slipping into daydreams.

And who knows – after six months of training you may be so buff and bodacious that this other person will come a running, begging for you to reconsider. Just don’t count on it.

Yours truly,
The crabby critic





Dear C.C.

I introduced my best guy friend to my best girl friend and now they hang out all the time and don't invite me. I see them all the time in the halls at school and it hurts. Should I tell them how I feel or try to make new friends?

Sammi from New York


Dear Sammi:

Yeah – it’s time to make new ones.

But I wouldn’t crash test either of these just yet, even though they seem to have ditched you.

No – I wouldn’t tell them that you’re hurt.

They’ll either laugh it off, as you being stupid, or not care about you one way or the other – which is what they seem to be doing to you right now. Either way, you’ll still feel like the odd man out.

Here’s the deal – your guy and girlfriend think they’ve hit the love jackpot and are roller coastering toward some hot and heavy dates that they don’t consider you a part of – a pity, since you’re the one that introduced them. They want to be alone and get to know one another on a boy/girl friend basis and that definitely should not include you.

If they were the right sort of friends they should take you out to dinner for introducing them to one another – but hey, they’re not that mature yet, so who needs them. The good news (or bad, depending on how you look at it) is that this new and exciting ‘love match’ probably won’t last. Actually, I can say with a fair good degree of accuracy that you’ll probably be able to clock its expiration with an egg timer.

When the end comes – invariably one or both of these friends will come crawling back to you – either to complain about the other one, or just because they’re in need of a plutonic friendship and think they can use you again. Either way, when they return, my advice to you would be to stay out of their mess.

If they try to drag you into playing a game of favorites you can just say something like

“…you know what? You’re both my friends, so I don’t want to hear any bad mouthing going on. That’s between you two. Remember, you didn’t elect to keep me in the know while you were dating – so I really don’t care what’s happening between you now. Sorry, but you’re going to have to deal with the fallout on your own. That’s how you wanted it all along anyway.”

Be noncommittal – and even if it hurts like hell right now to be left out of the loop – trust me – you are better off to be on the sidelines than right in the middle; and that bit of advice comes from experience!

Yours truly,
The crabby critic

Sunday, January 29, 2006

FINDING MYSELF...


and more of your questions answered
by
the
crabby
critic


Dear Crabby:

What sort of a man are you?

- Sarah in Texas


Dear Sarah:

I don’t believe in ‘types.’ No two humans are alike intellectually – not even ‘identical’ twins. But I’m glad you asked the question. Let’s see if I can answer it for you.

Now, for those who regularly read me, the following will come as no surprise – at least I hope.

I am NOT a communist.

I am NOT a Nazi sympathizer.

I choose to believe that George W. Bush is NOT an idiot; that Michael Moore perhaps is, and that Bill Clinton should not be giving public access on co-ed university campuses. After all, the temptation for Monica II – the revenge – is just too great and that’s not what anyone’s daughter’s tuition is for.

Just so we’re all squared up and on the same page; my personal manifesto is as follows:

I am against whacking baby seals for their fur.

As far as the rest of the animal kingdom goes – I believe that every living thing should have its place on this planet. A chicken looks pretty damn good in my oven. I also love my leather jacket and couch.

I am in favor of every country living in peace, even though I realize some countries never will.

I believe that there is too much bloodshed in the world – all of it utterly pointless.

I pray for the living and remember the dead. But I put away my childish fancies for global solidarity when I turned eleven, because it was just around that time I accepted that some things will never change.

I appreciate sunsets, cauliflower and the satisfaction of a hearty sweat after a healthy workout.

I am a sun worshipper even though I recognize at some subliminal level that it isn’t the healthiest of pursuits. I don’t go out and bake extra crispy for hours on end. I simply enjoy exposing my skin here and there to the soothing warmth of the sun. Aside: for those who will continue their personal attack on my work after this, please forgo the skin cancer death wish emails. They’re not original.

I am against thong underwear being sold to anyone, but particularly pre-teens, because no child should be subjected to adult stupidity so long as their genitalia are matured beyond their intelligence. I feel the same way about some adults too.

I prefer the quiet comfort of a small troupe of loyal friends to a flashy flock of fair-weathers who generally don’t know and don’t care about me, but will show up regularly to eat my food.

I am usually a private person although, on occasion, I open the Ali Baba cave of secrets to inquisitors who have proven that they can keep them.

Sometimes I go out to dinner or the movies with friends. And sometimes I go alone. The former is infinitely preferred but I go either way.

I once contemplated being an animator for the Walt Disney Company. But considering what Michael Eisner has done, overall I am rather glad that I decided to stay home and wash my hair instead.

I don’t think anyone’s prior private sexual history should be made public – EVER.

Although, I have to confess, that if everyone retained those boundaries of general decency and decorum I would not have anything to write about in this column.

While we’re on the subject of sex – it’s overrated. It doesn’t last nearly as long as most men brag to their friends. A man that can go for fifteen minutes is gifted. A man that can go all night is a power tool. Enough said.

I believe in tact and humility. Honesty is my hallmark although, I confess, I’ve told more than a few half truths that didn’t pay off.

Oh well, nobody’s perfect.

Self improvement is more a valid claim for me than perfection. On that note then, I’ve come a long way.

If I knew then what I know now, I would have told a lot more people to go to hell and allowed a lot less of them to be relieved on my good nature.

I have never backed down from a challenge, but fighting is just a colossal waste of energy and time.

I consider myself fair and opinionated. I am proud of both those characteristics.

If I could describe the ideal mate, she would have to be more interested in me than in herself, and more interested in the concept of ‘us’ as a couple than in ‘me.’

To this equation I would accept her unconditional love, assume at least half her responsibilities and reciprocate all of her respect.

I do not support and have never supported terrorism. I’m not a terrorist either.

This is in response to one misguided sir from Missouri who, after reading my periodic – generalized - snubs at North America, made the quantum leap in assuming that I belong to Al Qaeda. Clearly, for this individual, two and two add up to one-eighty.

While it is true that I criticize our culture herein a lot, specifically aimed barbs are only lobbed at individuals I believe are deserving of them. That is why this paragraph is dedicated to you, sir.

I don’t believe that being gay is “a handicap” anymore than I believe Anne Heche really thought she was a lesbian. This is in response to some fellow in Florida who thinks I’m homophobic, although I must confess, after going over this column with the proverbial fine tooth I just don’t see how that assessment was formulated.

Said critic from Florida also explained in the email – in great detail – just how many ways and positions he would employ in his attempt to expand my mind – other appendages optional. Thanks, friend - but everyone is entitled to their own sexual preference. Mine differs from yours.

To the young lady from Fresno who thinks I need a two by four across the back of my head I say, why waste a good piece of lumber.

To the liberal gent from England who thought my mind needed expanding, I believe your underwear is on too tight.

Ill-fitting undergarments have been the cause of more wars than we may ever know. Crusades, anyone?

To my friends – to whom your inclusion in this batch of quips seems to debase your loyalty, kindness and sincerity throughout the years – God bless you for taking the time to get to know me as a person. I could have done it all without you, but the journey would not have been nearly as memorable, poignant or fun.

Alas and finally, to my detractors, those who will continue to believe the worst about me, I hope that I have at least provided an arsenal of facts to add to your insults.

I state for the record one final truth; that everyone is entitled to an opinion – however unworthy you believe mine to be.

You’ll have to forgive if I smile, but I don’t give a damn about yours.

Yours truly,
The crabby critic





Dear Crabby Critic

I suspect my boyfriend of cheating on me. I saw him type his password into his email account. Do you think it would be wrong to go into his mail and see if my hunch is right? What I'm really asking is if it's wrong to snoop?

Abby from Maine


Dear Abby...

...geez, that sounds corny. But to answer your question, if all you’re going on is a hunch with no proof, it would be absolutely criminal for you to invade your boyfriend’s privacy by ‘snooping’ into his email.

Computer technology has somehow managed to render the question of preserving the integrity of someone else’s correspondences moot. Reading an email that hasn’t been sent to you is akin to walking up to a stranger’s house and reaching into their mail box to read their mail.

However, if you suspect that your beloved is shooting Cupid’s arrow into someone else’s heart, my advice is to intervene with a healthy bit of accusation. I say healthy, because most often emotions get in the way and the confrontation degenerates into a shouting match. If you want to find out the truth you MUST be CALM.

Easier said, than done, I know. But if you catch him off guard with a sort of non-emotional segue like, “I’ve been feeling insecure lately. I hope I’m wrong, but I think there might be someone else besides we two in this relationship,” and say this with your eyes never leaving his – you just might get the reply you’re looking for.

At the very least, you’re likely to get the truth. And it’s best to know for sure, Abby.

If he’s not cheating, you’re suspicions will be quelled, and if he is, you deserve the opportunity to be educated in ALL the facts before making any life-altering decision for yourself.

This is a person you’ve shared your heart and bed with. He’s someone you thought of spending the rest of your life with. But what good will that life be? It’s often been said that the worst thing is to be lonely and alone. But I would argue that a life spent in chronic denial and suspicion is far more tragic for both parties. Certainly, for you, it will be self destructive.

You have my sympathies.

Here’s hoping your guy turns out to be the prince and not the frog.

Yours truly,
The crabby critic





Dear Crabby Critic:

Do you think revenge is wrong?
-Melissa


Dear Melissa:

The Chinese have a very old proverb on the subject: before embarking on revenge, dig two graves. The point of the proverb – just in case it’s flown over your head – is that revenge is never sweet. It’s not even bittersweet. It’s rancid, but particularly to one’s soul and outlook.

Will it feel good to stick it to someone who’s had it coming to them, so to speak?

Absolutely…for about thirty seconds.

After that, if you have a shred of decency left in you, guilt will start to set in, and the realization that you and the person you wanted to hurt have much more in common than you thought, because now you’ve sunk to their level.

I’m not a big fan of the Biblical proverb: turn the other cheek – because patterned behavior says that whoever hurt you once will undoubtedly crack the whip again, given half the chance. Unless you're into that sort of vintage kinkiness, I don't suspect that's an option most people would prefer. So, what I would suggest should be your immediate and permanent outlet: remove yourself from the equation that is causing you all this pain.

If it’s a loved one – simply walk away; out of the room, house, get out of the car. Send a clear message that you’ve had enough – but more importantly, that you don’t feel they’re worth the effort of a confrontation. Just turn your back on them.

My philosophy: Hurt me once – shame on you. Hurt me twice – shame on me.

People can only harm you if you let them. You have to be willing to be hurt. If you say to this person – “hey, you know what? I really don’t have time for this. I certainly don’t have time for you. Sell crazy someplace else, it won’t fly here,” and then you leave – without being or getting upset – you will drive this other person wild.

They will be the ones scorned because their barb never went home. They’ll be furious with you. They might even hate you. But after all that resentment cools, guess what? They’re not going to bother you any more. And that’s going to be the best feeling of all. Because living well IS the best revenge!

Yours truly,
The crabby critic





Crabby Critic:

My friend never wants to come to New York to visit me. Her excuse is that she's too sick. I'm the one who always has to do all the visiting and frankly, I'm too busy, but I miss my friend. We could have a good time if she'd just fly in for a few weeks. Your advice?

- Lysee


Dear Lysee:

Is she really sick or is she just faking? You make it sound like she’s using some faux illness to avoid seeing you. Don’t you think if she were well enough she’d come down for a visit? A weekend in New York sounds exciting by most standards.

I’m busy too.

Hell, I’m swamped.

But in between drowning, I always take time out to contact those who mean a lot in my life and say “hey, how the heck are you? I haven’t seen you since I can’t remember when.”

How dare you think that your life is the only important one in this equation!

What about your friend’s?

Don’t you think she has the same responsibilities, needs and obligations that need to be fulfilled?

If she’s really your friend then the only thing that’s standing in her way is probably her health.

Think about it this way – if you woke up tomorrow with a splitting headache you might think twice about doing some of your daily chores.

Your friend sounds like she has more than a headache.

She might be seriously ill.

What if she has cancer?


Would you still say, “well, that’s just too bad. She should come down here anyway because she doesn’t have much time left?"

Why don’t you make the first effort?

Fly out to wherever your friend is and stay for a weekend. See what the real deal on her illness is. If she’s just a bit of a hypochondriac and you guys have a fantastic weekend doing the town, then at the end of that weekend you need to say something like, “Well, I guess it’s your turn to come out and spend some time with me. How’s the first weekend of next month looking for you?”

If that doesn’t work and your friend still doesn’t want to see you – then maybe it’s time to go hunting for a new friend.

Yours truly,
The crabby critic





Dear CC:

Do you think the internet is a good or bad thing?

From your reader Cecile


Well, Cecile:

As far as I’m concerned, the internet is a double-edged sword. On the one end, it has made global correspondence a reality. I can send an email to Tibet and get one back, all in a matter of minutes. Talk about hooking up. I can also use the internet to answer questions from readers like you that I otherwise would not have had the opportunity to converse with at all…and that would be a pity.

Artists, poets, writers, researchers, et al. have used the net to establish their credentials, gain readership, share ideas and refine concepts without ever having to leave the comfort of their living rooms or offices. You can do a lot in your pajamas now that only a few decades before had to be done less efficiently on foot.

In terms of regular business transactions too, the net has proven a valuable resource – say, for transferring monies, or pay a bill, booking hotel reservations, buying home furnishings, clothes, etc.

So much for the pluses…what about the negatives?

Well, for starters, researching anything over the net is a risky venture unless you are absolutely certain of the legitimacy of the site you are surfing. There’s all sorts of misinformation floating around out there.

You can actually find ‘documented’ proof on the web, for example, that Saddam Hussein was a benevolent ruler, that George Bush is the anti-Christ and that communism is a superior mode of fiscal development to capitalism.

What the net has done is to validate everyone’s opinion, even though you and I recognize that not everyone’s should be validated. Certainly, many opinions billed as factual research are nothing more than grossly inflated or slanderously false and out of whack with anyone who’s not receiving encrypted messages through their toaster or microwave…if you get my hint.

But the net possesses more troubles than first meets the eye. Yes, you can go anywhere (so to speak) and see and do anything - from shopping for a new handbag, to surfing internet porn. But you can also get spammed to the point that it will immobilize your computer and wipe out your files…and that’s just from the legitimate sites.

From the less legitimate ones, you can have your identity stolen by hackers who’d much rather spend on your line of credit than theirs. You can wind up with an internet stalker. You can end up with a virus and worms…eee-yuck!

There’s also those target market research gurus out there on the super highway who latch on to your email addresses and send a ton of junk mail about fake employment opportunities for British Candy Exporters, black market Viagra, mail order brides from the Far East, Thunderball Lotteries (that, trust me, you’ve never won), girls (who are probably cops in disguise) trying to meet you for online sex (I’m never certain exactly how one humps a monitor, but the whole concept does give new meaning to the term ‘hard drive’) and a host of other ridiculous promotional junk that you would do better to simply send immediately to your recycle bin.

Bottom line: There is no fool proof way of defending yourself against any of these options, and a few more I’ve forgotten at present. It’s a sort of buyer beware scenario, only this time danger is only a mouse click away. I’m not trying to sound paranoid, but you really do have to assume some responsibility when you decide to throw caution to the wind and log on for whatever floats your fancy.

Best I can offer then, Cecile to your question is yes, it’s good for some things, and, No, it’s not good for others.”

I don’t suppose that’s very helpful, but it does unfortunately happen to be the cold hard fact . While you’re searching the internet, it’s quite probable that somebody’s seeking out you.

Sleep tight.

- C.C.





Dear Crabby Critic:

Is your hair real? My boyfriend says it looks too perfect.

- Susan

Dear Susan:

Is your boyfriend bald or just generally jealous of guys?

To answer your question simply – Yes, mine is real. But don’t let the online photos fool you. Those were shot in a studio under ideal lighting conditions. Most days I can fake it so that in person my 'do' looks almost as good.

I’ve a thick head of wavy dark brown hair, but that isn’t to say that I haven’t had my share of bad hair days. Tell your boyfriend I’m having one today.

That’ll cheer him up until the next guy comes along with some body part that he deems more flatteringly appealing than his own. Then tell him to acquire some inner security and grow up. There’s more important things to life than a thick mane.

If you don’t feel like confiding any of this to him, I suppose you could simply lie your way out of a paper bag and say William Shatner and I share the same rug.

Now, live long and prosper!

- C.C.





Dear Crabby Critic:

You sure don't look crabby. Are you really?

Signed: Observant.




Dear Observant:

A lot of people don’t look crabby – even though quite a few are. I don’t think I’m crabbier than most, but I’m no Little Barry Sunshine either. Most days I have a critical outlook on the world. Truly, I just don’t see too many redeeming qualities about our abuse of one another and the planet these days.

Honestly, with all his infinite wisdom, God put US in charge of the world?!?!?!?

To misquote Dr. Phil: “What was he thinkin’?”

I do have my moments though where I smile a lot, cry a little, spread the good word to those who’ll take the time to listen and not judge me as full of crap, and then retreat into a cloud of “oh, to hell with it!” until the next round of positivism sweeps over me.

What can I say – I’m human.

What? You don’t have moments where you behave like someone even you wouldn’t want to know?

Yours truly,
The crabby critic






Dear Crabby:

Do you think men and women can ever be just friends?

- anonymous


Dear Anonymous:

Absolutely! The trouble occurs when one of the interested parties wants more…or had it, lost it and now wants it back. The so coined ‘battle of the sexes’ or ‘he said/she told’ saga has been going on ever since one figured out the purpose for which the other’s orifice had been invented. Ah me, the age of discovery.

But I’ve been plutonic with more than my fair share of women, and still am. There’s nothing sexual about our friendships – we merely value each other’s company and respect one another’s opinions. In my case, the women in my life who have not been the women in my boudoir have been remarkably clairvoyant with regards to my other relationships…and incredibly forthright with their advice, concern, respect and guidance. If anything, knowing these gals has made me a better man.

The trick is to recognize early on what the interest is for both parties concerned. Some women find a man attractive early on but quickly decide he’s more a ‘brotherly’ figure to them than a lover. Men do the same with women – ‘sisterly’ or ‘matronly’ rather than boom-boom, come back to my room.

It’s absolutely fatal in these above scenarios if one of the parties suddenly proposes that the sisterly/brotherly bond turn into a ‘get naked’ scenario. Even James Bond understood this. You’ll recall he never bed Miss Moneypenny. Still, they always remained good friends – particularly when Lois Maxwell was in the role. But I digress.

I suspect you’re asking the question here because either a girlfriend or family member thinks you’re nuts for even considering a male/female relationship in which no bodily fluids are exchanged. I know a lot of people out there who tend to view the opposite sex as ‘fresh meat’ ONLY on the mate market.

Personally, I think that’s a very sad, very skewed perspective. I feel sorry for those people. You see, they’ll never be able to relate to any woman or man – not even the one they eventually settle down with – because ultimately their first and foremost consideration will be zeroed in on that little flap of skin situated due south of their equators.

What I find rather off putting however, is when these same people decide to attach an aura of weirdness to the otherwise benign men/women friendship schematic – as though anyone indulging in a friendship that never goes any further is either sexually/psychologically frigid, or entertaining homosexual tendencies, simply for not taking their interests further and lunging at someone as though you were an alcoholic and the other person was ‘last call’.

You’ve got the right idea – be friends with whomever you decide is worthy of just such a friendship, and to hell with the naysayers.

Yours truly
The crabby critic




Dear Crabby:

I have a friend that wants to have her teeth removed to be more attractive to men. What do you think?

Snaggles


Dear Snaggles:

Yeah, toothless chicks rate real sexy on my list.

Right up there with ones covered in warts, flaky patches of psoriasis and four letter tattoos. Well…there’s no accounting for taste. Especially if you have none!

Do you mean that she wants her ugly teeth capped or corrected? I suppose that’s alright. Oral surgery has helped many a buck-toothed babe and porn star assuage the ol’ French whore look for some glamorous pearly whites. Aside: the latter are still ol’ French whores. They just don’t look like ‘em anymore.

But I would advise your friend of the following: if she’s changing her appearance for a man or men in general she’d do better to take that hard earned cash and blow it on some nice vacation to a tropical paradise.

Any guy who would say something like “Hey babe, I like you, but yank out that bicuspid to swear your love” isn’t worth having around.

He’s hardly Prince Charming. Tell him to give his molar (and other appendages, if he should so desire) a hearty tug to see how he likes it. Then tell him he has halitosis.

Yours truly,
The crabby critic







Dear Crabby Critic:

My best friend is mad at me because he thinks he is in love with me and the feelings are not reciprocated. The sure death of a friendship, isn't it? Is there a way to prevent this from happening again with a new friendship?

- Anonymous


Dear Anonymous:

The short answer is – NO. You can’t stop someone else from falling in love with you any more than you can stop yourself from falling in love with someone else. It just happens.

Since you obviously have NO romantic inclinations towards this person, my advice would be to steer clear of the friendship all together for a couple of months and keep any contact you do have with this person to a marginal polite “hello.” Don’t even ask “how are you” because you’re likely to get a bitter “pining after your sexy butt, or don’t you recall?!?!?” reply.

The worst thing you could do is give in to this person’s advancements and sleep with them, because then their pursuit will have been validated and you’ll be miserable and left pondering just how much time should pass before you can crawl out from under the covers and go back to looking for Mr. or Miss Right.

That’s what’s known as a pity f _ _ k. Don’t do it!

I suppose the friendship has come to an end…unless your pursuer finds somebody else to set his/her heart afire, in which case he/she will return to you rather sheepishly – if they’re a person of merit at all – and acknowledge to you that your assessment of the friendship - as staying a friendship – was the correct one all along. That would be the best case scenario. But you should also be prepared for the worst.

Yours truly,
The crabby critic





C.C.

There's a question I've been tossing around in my head for several days now, and it's affecting my sleep at night: What is the meaning of life? Can you answer it? My sleep loss is beginning to cause problems.

Sincerely,
Mysti


Yo, Myst’

Clear the fog out of your eyes.

I ponder the great question occasionally too, but I’ve never lost sleep over it. There is no all inclusive definition to the ‘meaning of life.’

Everyone’s life is different.
Everyone’s goals are different.
Everyone’s aspirations are different.

Instead of contemplating universals, ask yourself specifics.

What gives you great happiness?
What makes you smile?
What do you get up for each morning and why?

That’s the meaning of ‘your’ life, and it’s good enough for anyone who’s worried that Mars will collide with Jupiter and spoil that garden party they were planning on giving. Don’t turn your life into a Bugs Bunny cartoon over this silly eternal.

As earthlings, I don’t think we were ever meant to unravel the riddle. If it’s causing you to lose Z’s I wouldn’t suggest you visit the spirituality section of your local bookstore either.

There are a lot of quacks out there – both secular and non – who’ll claim in print to have received ‘the word’ when actually they’re just been channeling shortwave signals by mack-tacking a piece of tin foil to their foreheads.

Look within yourself for the answers. If you look hard enough, you’ll discover there are a lot more of them there than you thought.

Yours truly, C.C.





Dear CC:

I have two friends, each married to someone else. They are planning to have an affair. The thing is she's old enough to be his mother. What should I do?

- anonymous

Dear Anonymous:

Set up a lawn chair and get comfy for World War III.

Oh, and STAY OUT OF IT!!!

Nobody asked you to vacate your own private Shangri-La and move into Peyton Place.

Both of your friends disgust me. Anyone who cheats has that same effect on me, I’m afraid. No sympathy afforded there! But bottom line is: you’re a bystander. I don’t know how you come by this info about their pending affair – are you a busybody or what?

But let us just assume, for the sake of argument, that one or both individuals in contemplation of this affair thought little enough of you as a friend to invite you into their looming badinage. What are they expecting you to do with this information? Ponder it thoroughly or sell to the highest bidder for their silence on E-Bay?!?

If the answer is nothing, why tell you? Perhaps they’re testing the integrity of your – ahem…loyalty to them on this subject. Will you go and tell their respective spouses that the hobby horse is being ridden by proxy at another stable, or will you just stand by and let the manure pile where it may? Either way, it’s none of your concern.

A lot of times people contemplate getting involved in situations which do not concern them directly. This scenario would be entirely different if, for example, you were out shopping one afternoon and saw the two of them groping one another like a pair of sweaty farm animals in heat in the parking lot. If you were a good friend of one or both of their respective spouses, and, depending on the depth of that loyalty, you might have chosen to tell the innocent spouse in either equation that their significant other was an amoral stooge. But since the two perpetrators are the ones sharing their infidelities with you – I say, let everyone find out for themselves what’s in store after the condom comes off.

By the way – your reference to the whole May/December slant of the affair is a benign issue. It has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that having the affair in the first place is just plain WRONG, WRONG, WRONG!

You want to know how this will play out: he’ll get tired of her before she does of him. He’ll either keep his wife as a sideline and lie to her until the illicit tart he’s bouncing either gets pregnant or resentful at the fact that he’s not exactly chopping off his wife’s finger to slip the wedding band on her.

If you still feel you should do something for these two morons, my advice is to run out to the closest Blockbuster Video and buy them each a copy of Fatal Attraction and Unfaithful. Then wish them both ‘good luck’. If you’ve seen either film, you know that they’re both going to need it very, very soon.

Yours truly,
The crabby critic







Hi Crabby:
How do you know when it's time to end a friendship?

- Jessica

Well, Jessica:

The short answer is – when the friend in question becomes disloyal, for whatever reason. I fly on the side of personal integrity. Some people have it. Some don’t. But anyone who would cross your path, especially after taking the time to set up a relationship based in trust, mutual respect and good faith is clearly NOT YOUR FRIEND.

And it doesn’t matter how remorseful after the fact that person may become once they find out that you’ve found out about them. That’s no consolation. They would have kept being disloyal if you were either naïve or dumb enough to keep them on as a confident.

Life is too short to waste it on people who don’t give a damn about you! Both of your 'friends' have proven that adage.

Fair-weather friends come in flocks, but the genuine pure of heart are as rare to discover and keep as finding uranium ore in one’s underpants.

Yours truly,
C.C.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

HAIL, HOLY QUEEN...


...and more questions answered by

yours truly,
the Crabby Critic



Dear Crabby:

Do you think most people find religion because they want too or because they have to?

Maxim


Dear Maxim:

That’s a very thoughtfully put question.
Permit me to speculate.

Organized religion has at once been the most unifying and disruptive force in the history of the world. Crusades…anyone?!?

Fanatics from Richard III to Pat Robertson feel that God is an omnipotent force that will strike us down if we dare step just two Psalms from the good book. Somebody should remind Mr. Robertson that many people today are doing a two step on the Bible and seem to get away with whatever they’re into without having the hand of God strike them down.

That isn’t to say that I think we should just have a Bible bonfire and forget about the ‘Big Guy upstairs. But it does seem to me that organized religion today is largely a product of man-made cultism – meaning: a bunch of guys, who are at least 150 years removed from Jesus and his disciples, have gotten together and started - oh I do I put this tactfully – ‘fudging’ around with the gospel according to Christ.

Let’s not forget that every Papal appointment and dear old King James have put their two cents in along the way – revising the scriptures to their own like, which may or may not necessarily have been the way the original authors intended them to be interpreted.

I think most people today want to believe in a higher power – although they don’t necessarily think He (or She, for those suggesting me sexist) is watching all the time or perhaps even cares about what’s going on down here – except to shake and bow his head occasionally in great regret over ever putting ‘man’ in charge of the planet.

Oh well, we all make mistakes.

I’m hardly what you would call a devotedly religious man. But from time to time I do contemplate the bigger questions. From that interpretation (and you may take it with whatever quantity of salt you feel it may require) I tend to look upon the crucifixion as the divining moment between God and man.

Hence, when people say “oh why is the world like this?” or “how could a just God let innocent people die?” of whatever ailment or natural disaster befalls us, I simply reserve the right to say to those people sitting in judgment of God, “Well, what did you expect? We murdered his son.”

Although I don’t believe that God is vengeful – I also don’t think He’s a doormat. Lessons need to be taught. If they’re taught by omission…well, they’re taught, nevertheless.

I also tend to get miffed at people who treat God as though he were some secular proprietor of wish fulfillment – like a genie or the tooth fairy. To those disinterested parties who only think of what God can do for them, or believe that God should be on ‘prayer speed dial’ whenever we decide it’s time to give him a buzz, I suggest the old adage: “God helps those who help themselves.” And anyway, nowhere in the Bible does it say that He’s obligated to fix everything we’ve screwed up.

I do find that most people turn religion inward, however – amplifying it to suit their own agenda. Churches employ it to fill collection plates. Politicians think they’ll win votes with the growing liberal wing nut faction by snubbing it. And we’ve all shouted “oh God” out loud while in the throws of passion at one point or another – hardly the purpose for which the phrase was coined.

If anything then – it’s a wonder God doesn’t strike more of us down than he has. Perhaps, he understands the inevitable – that we’re taking care of ourselves faster than Mother Nature ever could. We are – after all – a quite mildly idiotic species if you think about it.

We kill animals for sport; murder each other for greed or profit; we cultivate jealousies against people who don’t deserve them; we hear and believe lies practically every time the cable channel is turned to C-Span; we place our faith and trust in false profits (gurus, priests, Pope’s et al) and we continue to use the Sabbath for cutting the lawn, shopping at Costco or working that extra shift in overtime.

Do I think most people find religion because they want to? Sadly, I believe the answer is NO. God is an afterthought for most – something to turn to when all earthly means fail us. Do I believe God would cure everything down here if he could?

I think if we were to collectively get down on our knees and ask him to perform such a miracle, he’d simply reply, “What for?” And, of course he would be justified in that snub. We’d only mess things up again if we started from square one. Didn’t Eden prove the fallibility of our species?

To agnostics: those who think that my speculation in these last few paragraphs have been a colossal waste of time and space because God does not exist (though at least half of these same spiritual naysayers probably believe in aliens and ghosts – now there’s human logic for you!) I simply will conclude with the following:

To those who believe - no explanation is necessary.
To those who do not - none will suffice.

Thank your for your question, Maxim. It’s given us all something to think about.

Yours truly
The crabby Critic







Dear Crabby:

My names Bernice. My boyfriend Tom is way too into his car. He’s always cleaning it, fixing it or driving it somewhere. I want him to spend more time with me. I’m better than a car. I hate that stupid car! I want to tell him to sell it or else. What do you think?



Dear Bernice:

What can I say? Your boyfriend undoubtedly prefers the smoother of the two rides. If you give him an ultimatum it’ll be your butt that goes for the trade-in: not his car. If his obsession with his wheels is getting on your nerves, why don’t you go out there the next time he’s puttering around it and help give it (and maybe him) a good waxing? Couples carwash can turn playful – if you get my hint. And anyway, unless dude’s sleeping in his car, making love to it or calling it by the pet name ‘Christine’ I really don’t think you have any sincere worries.

Grow up!

It’s silly to be jealous of an inanimate object, Bernice. He’s not cheating on you with another woman. I’d also suggest you take up some hobby that’s as benign as his. He clearly doesn’t think his love affair gets in the way of his affections for you. Why not drive that hot rod around – I mean the car, Bernice. Or, if he won’t let you drive it – ride in it with him…do things in which you, he and the car are together. The vehicle should bring you two closer together – not drive a wedge between you and his stick shift.

Yours truly
The crabby critic





Hey, Crabby:

This one’s sort of embarrassing. My boyfriend, Kyle snores like a roaring lion. It keeps me awake. But then I talked to one of my girlfriends who said that if you slightly pinch the guy’s nose while he’s sleeping the snoring will stop. That actually worked …except that the other night Kyle wasn’t sleeping too well and woke up while I was pinching his nose and thought I was doing something freaky, like trying to suffocate him or something. He actually told his mother he doesn’t want to sleep in the same bed with me anymore. He sleeps on the couch now. Don’t you think it’s silly he thinks I was trying to kill him?

Brenda from North Carolina



Dear Brenda:

Were you?

At least it’ll be quiet for you upstairs.

You mean, even after you explained what you were doing to him, Kyle still thinks you might be after his money…has he got any money to go after? Why would a normal guy who snores a lot suddenly suspect his woman had turned rabid on him? It just doesn’t make any sense.

My guess is he was probably looking for an out to stop sleeping with you. Or he’s paranoid beyond belief and this isn’t the first time he’s suspected perfectly normal people from plotting to kill him. Ask him if the plate in his forehead has moved.

Then turn in for the night, Brenda – pray for brains!

- C.C.




Dear Crabby:

My girlfriend Tara thinks I’m cheating on her with her sister. I am, but what business is that of hers. We’re not married. Anyway, I think that’s her sister’s problem. Should I tell Tara the truth?

Kim from Hawaii


Dear Kim:

No, you should keep deceiving her until she comes home one night and finds you with a stiffy in her sister on all fours. Of course, you should tell her
- NOW!

You and her sister should have both been honest enough about your feelings for one another before the dipstick had been measured. It’s such a pity both your genitals matured faster than your brains.

Then – it would have been a painful experience.

Now – it’ll be nothing short of nuclear meltdown.

You disgust me on so many levels it’s hard to know where I should begin. What is it that made you think you could play fast and loose with any woman’s affections? An outsider would have been enough of a shock.

A relative?!?!? – you three belong on Jerry Springer.

But I must say that your betrayal ranks second to the gross ditch pig of a gal Tara’s own sister is in this equation.

You…you’re nothing.

Just an indiscriminant stud who figures he’d rather keep it all in the family then invest the time, energy, tact, and dare I even venture the word – commitment – to any one relationship. Who’s next on your list – her mother, her aunt, a couple of cousins…does she have any more sisters?

Best case scenario: you and Tara’s sister stay together, marry, settle down and raise a family - oh, now that's wish fulfillment times a million!!!

Don’t expect Christmas and birthday greetings and open arms at the yearly round-up. Worse case scenario: Tara has a couple of steroid abusing brothers and an ex-marine sergeant for a father. Hawaii’s an island, Kim, remember? There are just so many places to hide. I’d start the scouting expedition for them soon.

Aloha!





Dear Crabby:

How should I approach my mother-in-law about her constant snide remarks?
- Brian in Tulsa


Dear Brian:

With a crucifix and a pack of hounds. In my experience, the template for compatibility in any marriage should be a boxing tournament and pie-eating contest in which not even the most distant relation is spared.

Historically speaking, the mother-in-law is ascribed the same rights, privileges and access to the happy couple as that nattering little Pekinese everyone wishes they could step on…and quite often, should. But let us be serious for a moment – this woman is, after all, at some base biological level, responsible for providing you with your wife.

Mother-in-laws hate son-in-laws for a variety of reasons. Provided you’re track record – prior to hitching up with her daughter did not involve renting whores, embezzling money from rich widows, or multiple incarcerations for drugs, murder, etc. (translation: you’re an upstanding guy) it’s really not up to your mother-in-law to accept you or find you acceptable, unless she’s also sharing your marital bed. E-yuck, now there’s a nasty thought!

Riddle me this – did Mommie Dearest despise you prior to the wedding, or after all the rice had been pitched? The distinction is significant: sometimes the mother of the bride just doesn’t like the guy her daughter’s picked for herself. Maybe she doesn’t think he’s handsome enough, or financially successful or a combination: too young/too old: too short/too tall: too controlling/too stupid…you get my point. Bottom line: she had many months leading up to “I now pronounce thee…” to launch her litany of objections at both her daughter and you.

However, if everything was placidly acceptable prior to publishing the bans, your mother-in-law’s bitter rejection might be more problematic. Perhaps she and your wife were ‘a team’ so to speak, before you came into the picture. Maybe they hung out all the time and confided intimate secrets to one another.

Your arrival on the scene was deemed acceptable because – after all – you went home at the end of the night, leaving your wife to ‘dish’ with mama until the wee hours of the morning. Particularly, if your mother-in-law is a single woman, she might be feeling the pang of her daughter’s sudden absence from the fold and resenting you for it. If that is the logic behind why she has daggers for you now, there’s really not much you can do to change her opinion. If you try, she’ll most likely wind up hating you more. You’re already the interloper. Don’t become the ‘know it all’ too.

If you feel like making the concession of having your wife spend more time with her mother – then gradually tapering off her visitation, so as to wean Mom from her co-dependency – that sounds like an admirable plan of action. However, it should be decided on by both you and your wife. I also want to make it clear that you are under NO OBLIGATION to do anything of the sort. Newlyweds need time to adjust to one another and the idea of living together without immediate family sticking their two cents in.

I must tell you: this isn’t about you – it’s all about your mother-in-law. She needs a hobby or a guy of her own to keep her busy. And, have you considered that maybe there’s just a twinge of jealousy for her daughter, who seems to have found marital bliss where Mom otherwise has failed? Bottom line: her manure pile of resentment would have been heaped on any guy who married her daughter. So cheer up.

In most cases this ‘hell hath no fury…’ scenario will eventually cool and the bumps of discourse will heal – particularly if you prove to Mother that you’re not willing to bale out any time soon.

Yours truly,
The crabby critic

Friday, January 27, 2006

ON THE MANLY ART OF BEING MANLY


...and more of your questions answered
by
THE CRABBY CRITIC


Rugged masculinity is in short supply these days – at least if you believe what you see on television.

I need clarification on who is responsible for the conspiracy being perpetrated on the masculine identity these days. Whoever the culprits are, they are no more equal to the task of picking potential stud material than Shakespeare would have been adept at teaching Venus Williams how to serve doubles.

It is particularly distressing to go to the movies, turn on the television, open a magazine or browse through something as innocuous as a department store catalogue, only to be inundated with a barrage of hairless, asexual and effeminate pretty boys billed as the ideal embodiment of the North American male. If that’s our concept and aspiration for masculinity in totem, then we have bigger problems than we think.

To point to the obvious; there is nothing inherently wrong or sinister about having the “pretty boy” as a cultural type – just so long as he is not exclusively marketed as the only type. However, what I find detrimental to the self esteem of any Joe Average who does not look like Tyson Beckford in his Calvins, is the unabashed corporate push from media and advertising agencies that have physically willed every man into the clone of a sport and shave Ken doll.

I am reminded of the film, What Women Want (2000) that has Mel Gibson, as a chauvinist pig gaining unprecedented insight into the female psyche after a freak accident – okay, electrocution. Seems nothing short of ten thousand volts will wise any man up. If only I could have been in possession of such a crystal ball.

However, true to ‘guy’ form – at least in the movies - all Mel can think of is to exploit this great gift to mold himself into Mr. Right for Helen Hunt. She of course, requires no self improvement. Instead she embodies sensibility, pragmatism and practicality.

So why is she single? And why, oh why, is her chief desire to hook up with someone like Mel in the first place?

He clearly lags behind in the movie’s restructured tiers of male/female socio/sexual politics. According to What Women Want then - women don’t want real men any more than they desire a yeast infection – opting instead for the Monistat patch and some malleable peon with a functioning scrotum, who can be pushed around, lied to, or converted to their own way of thinking – a rather scary hybrid of the Manchurian Candidate meets Jane Fonda, or, what I perceive as a 'final solution' scenario resembling life after sex at the Streisand home.

Being male, I can only stand so much “reality TV”, pitting the hapless stud against fifty ravenous gold-diggers, before putting down the remote and venturing to the mall. The mall, in fact, is the zoological equivalent to these television shows; it showcases the male animal like a fish out of water in his not-so-native habitat.

Call it my sociological study if you like. I prefer the more user friendly label of ‘people watching.’ It’s not high science; just a bird’s eye into the extent to which Hollywood’s influence has influenced men in leaving their testicles in a jar at home.

As a methodology, people-watching is a great art. It forces one to reconsider just how far our cultural ideal has strayed from the Clark Gable/Humphrey Bogart, “man’s man” that used to be considered the rugged aspiration and desirable, if hyper-realistic, norm.

Today at the mall, I spot a young couple window browsing the local furniture outlet. She’s eyeing a gaudy bronzed lamp in the shape of a pineapple that vaguely resembles something from a Carmen Miranda movie.

He’s aloof toward the rather shapely brunette that smiles at him as she passes by. That obliviousness is predicated upon the fear - trained into him - that his own paramour might break a sweat and then perhaps his nose, just for looking. Personally, I’ve always adhered to the motto that, it doesn’t matter from where the appetite comes as long as one eats at home.

However, yours truly has been on the receiving end of several green-eyed monsters that would have plucked my eyes out or, at the very least, slapped me with a pair of blinders for good measure. Sadly, the amiable fellow I’m observing has already been convinced to wear his own.

Don’t you just love that?” the woman says to her companion, as she points to the pineapple lamp.

No,” he plainly replies.

Too bad,” I think to myself, “Because it’s going next to that chair you’re not particularly fond of.”

I watch as this woman shuffles her beau into the shop, using well-oiled techniques to get him to whip out his plastic for yet another unwanted purchase from this current episode of “he said/she told”. And I recall a scene from one of my favorite movies; Adam’s Rib (1950), the battle-of-the-sexes screwball comedy that pits Spencer Tracy against perennial, headstrong Katharine Hepburn. Tracy wants a partner who is his genuine mate, not a competitor within the hierarchy of their coupling.

Steeped in the sexual politics of the 1950’s, Kate ultimately gives in – at least a little – but this acquiescence doesn’t make her character any less headstrong or, for that matter, any less of a woman. Yet Tracy’s declaration has since become a sobering, prolific response to what the 1960’s laughing coinedthe new woman”; a prototype of femininity that was, at least for a while, celebrated on television in “That Girl” and “Mary Tyler Moore” and touted within the annals of Helen Gurly Brown as the go-getter, be-all, see-all, take-all, assertive female that, by the end of the decade, was burning her bra under the auspicious muckraking of Gloria Steinum.

Hence ‘Men’ degenerated in their status from life partner to persona non grata; a strange dichotomy between oppressive brute and helpless child; someone who began life as a hyper-sexed predator but then regressed into an Oedipus complex – wanting little more than a mother-figure to cook, clean and share his bed. Thereafter ‘man’ was not suitable for partnership, except perhaps where heavy lifting or taking out the trash was involved. But leave one toilet seat up and watch out.

However, the woman I observed with her beaux at the mall, with a broad smile and pineapple lamp in tow, is not interested in being a mate.

She is not particularly gearing up to run as a competitor either. It is game set and match or, to use a more telling analogy, détente in the age-old struggle of love and war. She’s already achieved her goal – getting somebody else to shell out for that hideous lamp – and that is about as far as her own interest in the relationship goes. Think that I am way off base?

Consider how Cosmo, Vanity Fair, Women’s World, Good Housekeeping, et al, dedicate their readership to something along the lines of “How to get your husband to Be The Man You Want Him To Be” or perhaps, “Ten Ways to Make Him Feel He’s Important”.

That’s not the same as “being important” but it helps placate him into getting things done around the house. This collective desire to build Mr. Right from the gonads up is not a call for social improvement, though it is easily misinterpreted as such.

Rather, it is all about control. The postmodern pop culture male has been distilled into someone that I really don’t want to know, and Hollywood has been shaping that image with one emasculated sterile cuckoo after another. Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, Toby McGuire, Keau Reeves, et al. Collectively they owe more to the flashy sheen of prissy china cupids - not the rugged masculinity of John Wayne or Errol Flynn.

Good”, I can almost hear the rabid feminist chant, “Serves you right. See how you like it for a change.”

But is that really fair? Because for every self-determined female modeling herself after Jodie Foster there are at least one hundred and fifty who would rather be Marilyn Monroe, and modern man has had absolutely nothing to do with that.


and now... more of your questions...


Dear Crabby:

I met a woman off the internet. We exchanged email for three months before we decided to leave our spouses for each other. She was nothing like I pictured, she did not look half as good as she did in her photos and she is unemployed. Do you think I could get my wife to take me back?

- Ned


Dear Ned:

You’re a pig. There’s just no subtler way of putting it. You’re like the thief who isn’t particularly sorry he stole, but he’s frightfully upset that he got caught.

Get your wife back?

What would she want with you when you’re so easily swayed by the swill some Internet Porky put out to drag your short and curly over to her trough? You made a mistake, Ned. You toyed with a woman’s affections and there’s no reprieve once the damage has been done.

If you’re wife still has affections for you – which wouldn’t surprise me, depending on how long it’s been since you bolted from the family stable – then she might be desperate or dumb enough to give you a second chance.

My advice: if she’s either or both you get down on your knees, Piglet, and not only beg her forgiveness, but spend the next seventy to a hundred years proving you’re worthy of that faith and trust. Or just start typing sweet n’ lovelies on your keyboard again. There’s a bacon-burner born every minute – fool!

- C.C.






Why do people lie over the internet?

- Jessie


Dear Jessie:

Because they can. It’s that simple. There’s a certain autonomy inherent with the internet that makes people think they can just do whatever they gosh darn please – at least, from a safe distance - and no one will be the wiser for it. That autonomy makes the internet a fertile breeding ground for con artists, stalkers and pedophiles…you know; real high class folk you’d like to bring home to mother.

Truth and honesty are in very short supply in the world today to begin with. You need the psychic premonitions of John Edwards to figure out who’s on your side and who’s not…and that’s when the person is standing directly in front of you.

On the net anyone can claim to be anything – and usual do – simply because there’s no accountability on their part to actually prove what they say. I could report that I look like Jamie Foxx and have been dating Hillary Clinton for the past four months. Hell, with today’s Photoshop technologies I could even give you pictorial proof to support such an outrageous claim, just to satisfy your naïveté.

Bottom line: I WOULD NOT TRUST ANYTHING ANYONE may say to you over the net – especially if it’s manifested in the form of a romantic overture, business investment, or email announcement that you just won some Thunderball Lottery in Naples.

Yours truly,
The crabby critic








Dear Crabby Critic:

What makes you so crabby?

Tera


Well, Tera:

To answer your question, there are a lot of things that irritate me in the world today. I’ll try to list some of the bigger ones. I don’t usually sweat the small stuff. So let’s get started with my top ten.

1) Common sense: where is it? Why is logic never even tried? Occasionally I find someone who uses their head for more than applications of make up or shaving, but most of the time I find people just adopt a Machiavellian principle

…you know “do whatever feels good” and forget that that sort of incongruous methodology comes with a litany of side effects – most of them easily avoidable if one would only use the sense God gave a lemon.

2) Beautiful people who think that ‘looks’ are everything. Actually, I have mixed feelings toward these airheads. To quote Judge Judy: “Beauty fades, dumb is forever.”

The trouble is, cute people always think it’ll never happen to them. More to the point, they sort of figure that the world owes them something because they are too sexy for their species. Most will wind up fat, alcoholic and depressed the minute a wrinkle appears – or simply indulge their superficial whims in a series of botched plastic surgery attempts to remain twenty-one forever.

3) Celebrities behaving badly. Notice I don’t refer to them as ‘stars’.

We don’t have stars today. The distinction is subtle but noteworthy. Stars were known primarily for their on camera body of work. If any part of a stars private life was leaked to the press in the good ol’ days it was generally a fairytale fabrication released by their studio that helped support the myth that these folk were somehow superhuman or at the very least, living a perfect existence.

Today's celeb’ isn’t known for their body of work. Name me 10 films off the top of your head that any celeb’ has been in. You probably can’t.

Star - John Wayne made more than 200 films. Now that’s what I call a body of work.

Today’s celeb’ isn’t mythical. They’re repulsive. They thrive on shock value. They’re just common people with a bank account…and, by my estimation, an undeserving one for the most part.

Honestly, if I were earning $21 million a picture I could think of about 21 million other things to do with it then get high on crack, rent prostitutes, go through a string of meaningless affairs/marriages, and wind up at the end of my career begging for change as a forgotten has been on somebody else's 'where are they now' telethon.

4) While we’re on the subject of Hollywood – today’s movies in general piss me off. They’re not hand crafted story telling with great personalities, like the movies from the 1930s, 40s or 50s. Here’s what bothers me most about today’s movie making:

a) the scripts: I’ve written several so I know of what I speak. Today’s film dialogue has no spark. Romantic comedies are trite, contrived and dumb. The melodrama’s nonexistent or boring as hell.

(b) The action flick has been reduced to nothing more than a bunch of computer generated crap and obnoxiously loud 5.1 soundtracks that do not stimulate, but accost the ear drum.

(c) Remakes, remakes, remakes. Are their no original ideas left in Hollywood?

(d) Television to film transplants: I don’t want to see a premise that barely was tolerable on the small tube for an hour (minus commercial interruption) stretched to a two hour film that in no way recaptures the excitement of my fond recollections and, more often than not, bastardizes them with truly awful acting. The Dukes of Hazzard movie and Bewitched with Nicole Kidman fall into this category.

(e) the price of admission: with nearly everything being done in a computer, movies should be cheaper to go and see. They’re not. In Canada we pay $11.50 for a single admission to go to the movies. For that price I better get a floor show and lap dance from the female starlet featured in the film. If we were talking about going to see films like Gone With The Wind or Ben-Hur I wouldn’t be squawking. But Rumor Has It… and Annapolis are not worth their weight in ticket stubs.

(f) camera jitter - why does every two hours movie have to take on the color and flavoring of a six minute music video. Well, the answers simple - it takes a really good actor to hold his own if the camera just sits there and allows him/her to give a performance. It's much easier to take some fop in stretch pants and chop together something that vaguely resembles a performance using computerized editing tools as though they were a Ginsu.

And Hollywood wonders why nobody’s going to the movies any more?!?!?

5) The crucifixion of Samuel Alito. It’s time the Democrats did something constructive instead of bashing the reputation of a salt of the earth like Mr. Alito as though he were the anti-Christ. Even if Alito did not approve of Roe VS Wade (which has been the grenade that Ted Kennedy and his rabble have affixed their lynch pin to) that wouldn’t mean that women seeking abortions would be forced to find a backroom physician to remedy their predicament with a coat hanger.

And anyway, there’s really nothing about Alito’s past judicial record to suggest he’d become the Gestapo of the Supreme Court that Democrats suggest he will become if and when he gets voted in. If anything Alito is TOO GOOD for the Supreme Court. He’s a retiring, diplomatic and reserved family man, caught in a culture that supports audacious, autocratic free love. If I were in his shoes – win or lose – I’d take a baseball bat to Uncle Ted after the senate hearings.

6) Bush bashing: this is the lowest form of democracy at work.

7) Bill and Hillary Clinton: Neither is fit to hold political office. Cumulatively, the two have gone on record for a litany of illegal practices: everything from pilfering White House china after decamping 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to having been involved (at some level) in the murder of Vince Foster.

And let’s not forget darling Monica – the gal who transformed a seat of great power into the ‘five’ll get you ten’ love in. Still, with all this scandal behind them, both Clintons are repeatedly called on to speak to students at colleges and universities across the country.

If I were an alumnist at an institution contemplating a Clinton lecture, I’d want my donation money back. I’d also demand that all female faculty and students wear their chastity belts on the day of...Billie’s proven himself a guy NOT to be trusted!

8) People who suggest to me that I ought to go out and get a real job simply because they’re not happy with theirs. Jealousy for anyone who can articulate more than two thoughts and still scratch his butt is the leading cause of most people giving in or giving up on their dreams. That’s criminal.

That’s also the reason why there’s some great actress out their in the Ozarks who’ll never be discovered while Britney Spears is getting paid big bucks to direct her first film! Frank Capra, George Cukor, Vic Fleming, et al. – I know you guys are turning over in your graves over that one!

9) American Idol. Honestly, who do they think they’re kidding? I don’t see any of the previous ‘stars’ of that series making any headway in the recording industry. Ruben isn’t rocking any major venues that I’ve seen advertised.

Bo Bice is a moderate success but not a very publicized one (a shame, since I figure he’s the only guy of the lot who might have any real staying power and/or talent.) No, the ‘stars’ of idol are not the performers, but the judges – particularly Simon, whose natural pomposity has concurred that he is God’s gift to the recording industry and Paula Abdul.

10) Men and women who don’t respect their spouses or significant others. Here’s my take. If they're good enough to sleep with, then they deserve all of your time, honor, respect and understanding.

I meet and know of so many couples today who have decided that the other person in their lives is either a bothersome appendage or merely useful to look after the kids and do the heavy lifting. In both cases, there’s a service that could provide for those needs and with far less hassle – if that’s the only reason one is hanging onto their ball and chain.

Oh, and by the way, if that’s how you misperceive your other half – as the ‘ball and chain’ - it’s time to get paroled.

Yours truly
The crabby critic






Crabby Critic:

I work at a travel stop. Our store has Valentine's Day stuff on display like stuffed animals and candy. The truckers are always buying all the other sales girl’s presents because they are pretty. I'm not pretty. No one ever buys me anything. I hate not being the pretty one. What can I do about this? I can't stop crying and don't want to go to work anymore.Ugly In Texas


Dear Ugly:

You’re probably not THAT ugly. But you do sound like a gal with real self esteem problems. I’ll tell you what I told another person in a similar situation: you have to own self esteem to live it. Look at yourself in the mirror – not the physical self – but the soul self. Then, say to yourself “I’m worth it. Screw anyone who doesn’t think so.” People can read insecurity better than they can read the instructions on how to change a flat on the highway.

Your question is a bit double-edged. What is it exactly that you want: to be liked in general, or, to be banged by a trucker? When you’re insecure it seems as though everyone else’s life is moving in an upward/forward direction while yours is standing still, or (perish the thought) rolling downhill. That’s a myth in your own mind.

Nobody ever has it all. And here’s a thought peeled from the pages of Judge Judy – “Beauty fades. Dumb is forever.” I’d rather be smart than pretty, because knowledge is something that time can’t take from you (well, okay, if you get Alzheimer’s, maybe) – but unlike looks, which are guaranteed to go before you can say, “I think I need some Botox.”

Unless you look like Nanny McPhee I’d say there’s still hope that with the right cosmetologist and a bit of confidence you too can pass for above average at the next staff Christmas party.

Good luck, and remember, keep the faith in yourself. You’re worth it.

Yours truly,
The crabby critic








Dear Crabby:

I always thought my husband liked the way I look but lately he’s been hinting that maybe I might want to consider plastic surgery; breast enhancement, lypo on my thighs, and do something with my nose. I’m afraid of surgery of any kind but my husband says he’s seen a lot of stuff done on an out-patient basis by watching the Health Channel.

Linda in Fresno


Dear Linda:

Then, tell him to go and have the surgery. Let’s be real about one thing – even out-patient operations under the most benign and sterile of conditions carry a slight risk of death. Recall that ‘First Wive’s Club’ author Olivia Goldsmith checked in for what she thought would be a routine face lift and died! What a waste of talent and for what; to look – not young again (which is the myth that all plastic surgeons promise), but to look like some middle-age gal who’s obviously had plastic surgery.

Johnnie Carson said it best when he hosted the Oscars many years ago and quipped, “I see a lot of new faces…especially on the old faces.” Most recent celebrity horror stories include: Meg Ryan’s lips, post collagen, that are reminiscent of someone who lost a fight with their vacuum cleaner, Joan Rivers, who looks Chinese, and Michael Jackson , who – let’s be honest - doesn’t even look human! More like a latex bauble-head. And these guys can afford California’s very best. Unless you or your hubby is pulling in a six figure income, you’re not going to be able to afford that level of …..‘a-hem’….quality.

If you want to be poked and plucked like some Thanksgiving turkey – I suppose you’ll go ahead. Personally, I don’t think cosmetic surgery should be made affordable or legal to anyone who hasn’t been involved in some sort of tragically disfiguring disease or injury. It’s becoming too easy to go under the knife simply because we’re not satisfied at seeing a few wrinkles cropping up around the eyes.

And since when has it become taboo to get one’s chunky butt on an exer-cycle or do some cardio and weights to whittle down the undesirable parts.

As for your breasts – they’re going to get big and floppy with age. Besides, big breasts might look good on a Playboy centerfold, but just ask the woman who has to contend with the discomfort of lugging those melons around twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week if she’d rather not be and ‘A’ cup than a double D – to say nothing of finding sweaters, coats, T-shirts, etc. in your size. Remember, no runway model tops out with a set of cans that Ricky Ricardo could play Ba-ba-loo on.

As for your husband – I doubt you married Apollo or Achilles (and let’s be honest, the latter probably had badly calloused heels from all that sprinting about). My advice for your hubby would be for you to tell him that when he gets a face transplant, hair plugs and a vasectomy, you’ll get your boobs done.

If he refuses, you could always break his nose. Then at least someone will have a reason to get the surgery. Keep your chin up, dear…both of them. And don’t give in to someone else’s vanity. If you think you look good – having never seen you, I’m willing to side with that personal assessment and say, leave well enough alone.

Yours truly,
The crabby critic







Why are some men pigs? Why do they only want the pretty ones and then dump them after they sleep with them? Why do men stare at women like they are pieces of meat anyway?

- Anonymous


Dear Anonymous:

Why are some women sluts?

Answer: just goes with the territory of being a woman…if one is so inclined.

Same holds true for men. Some treat women disrespectfully because they just think they’re entitled. That doesn’t mean that they are. But on that score, it’s you women who have all the power. All you have to do to a guy who’s treating you like a side of beef is stand up to him and say something like “Get a clue, Sherlock. Just because I’ve got boobs doesn’t mean I am one. Take your tragically sexist head out of your macho ass and go back to jerking off in front of your centerfolds, because I’ll never be able to satisfy what I can’t respect.” Really, it’s that simple.

You sound like you’ve been ridden hard and put up wet…more than once…and you’re tired of it. Good for you. My only add on is: what the hell took you so long, girl?!?!?

What I find appalling about most women today is how much they put up with from the word go. Time and again I see women friends of mine out on a first date with some guy who’s calling them ‘baby’ or ‘sweets’ or ‘honey’ or some other term of endearment but in such a way as its meant to make them feel like stupid, oversexed Barbie Dolls awaiting his pleasure. And time again those same women just roll their eyes and take it, or worse, go out on more than one date with that jerk. I’ve even had some of my female friends in prolonged relationships with these village idiots and in one instance, she married the Bozo!

If there’s one thing ALL women should know about ALL men it’s this: a guy is not a house. What? By this I mean that you can’t renovate what you don’t like after the mortgage has been signed. You can’t change, fix or alter anything either. A lot of women don’t get this. They find some stud who’s superficially attractive…you know, or hung like a pony or sporting very deep pockets…and then they just throw up their hands when he embarrasses them in public and say – “yeah, well I know he’s mean, but it’s only when he drinks. I can fix that.”

“Well, yes, he does treat me like I’m ‘knockers a la carte’ but I can fix that.”

“Okay, he did hit me once, but he said he wouldn’t do it again. I can fix that.”

“It’ll be different because he’s with me.”

“I’ll complete him.”

“I’ll change him.”

NO YOU WON’T!!!!!

Ladies, guess what? You are not Super Girl. You don’t have the Jedi mind trick down pat.
YOU CAN’T CHANGE A MAN, but especially IF HE DOESN’T WANT TO CHANGE FOR YOU.

If he’s a jerk on the first date he’ll be a jerk on the second and the third.

Now, there’s one addendum to this ‘Can’t Change Men’ philosophy, and it’s this: sometimes you’ll get a guy who treats you right, right from the start and suddenly, two months, six months, a year into the relationship he decides to get a little fresh with you because he thinks you won’t mind.

You have the right to say to him with all the stored up confidence, respect and mutual understanding you have both cultivated from the moment you laid eyes and hands on one another – “You know, that’s really hurtful” or “That’s not appreciated. I expected more of you” or something that’ll let him know that he’s impacted you in a way that is unacceptable.

If he’s the right kind of guy he’ll apologize for that misstep. He’ll say, “You know, I don’t know what got into me. I respect you. I love you. I’m sorry I said something as stupid as that.”

But if he just looks at you and says, “Hey, it’s no big deal” then maybe it really is time to move on.

But just remember this: respect is a two way street. You can’t go around calling him a turkey and making fun of the size of his giblets and then expect that he’ll excuse it all just because you’re a woman. Treat your guy the way you want to be treated and expect as much in return.

Finally, I don’t want you to be mad about your experience any longer. You gals carry around emotional baggage like it’s a badge of honor. It’s not. Furthermore, it will be perceived as totally unattractive by whatever fella you hook up with next. No man wants a little shrew for a girlfriend. And you can say, “Well yes, but I’m determined not to get burned again” and that’s commendable, just as long as you don’t stick the same red hot poker into some guy who doesn’t know where you’re coming from, and, more to the point, had no part in getting you to that place that you’re consternating at.

It’s over.
It’s done.
You’re rid of your pig.

Now go find a guy who doesn’t treat you like one.

Yours truly,
The crabby critic

Dear Crabby:

What’s the best way to commit a murder?

-Jeff from Arkansas


Dear Moron:

Even if I knew (which I don’t) I certainly wouldn’t be publicizing it – here or anywhere else. It’s not that kind of website. And anyway, if you really want to know the truth, there is NO such thing as the perfect murder. You might find a way to beat the rap of one…although, if you’re writing in to a website for a “how to” you mustn’t be very bright.

Don’t you think the police would eventually check your internet records?!?!? HEELLLLOOOOO!

All this aside: even if you were successful - eventually you’d be overcome with guilt, remorse, anxiety and all those other lovely emotions that find one contemplating tall buildings and high bridges for themselves once the terrible deed has been done. My advice: forget about killing anyone or anything and find some other hobby to indulge your free time. I suggest Tiddly-Winks.

Yours truly,
The crabby critic



Dear Crabby:

What’s the best way to commit suicide?

- Jeff from Arkansas


Dear Jeff:

You must be a lot of fun at a party. Such morbid curiosities. Are you by any chance into the Goth scene, vampires, the torture of small children and animals, and own a subscription to ‘Whips N’ Chains Monthly’?

Here’s my advice: You want to know what’s the best way to commit suicide?!?

Become a writer!

(WARNING: to anyone in Arkansas who knows this character: keep all sharp objects out of reach and don’t make sudden movements or eye contact.)

- C.C.