Everyone Loves Ugly Betty

ABC may be looking to wash its hands of Ugly Betty (returning to TV this Friday with a two-hour premiere), but the formula that provided America Ferrera with perpetual braces and Salma Hayek with a small screen career is not about to give up that easily. Adapted from the insanely successful Colombian telenovela, Yo Soy Betty, La Fea, Ugly Betty has spawned a small army of imitators, from the Philippines to China, Brazil to Germany. 

Despite the telenovela's relative obscurity in the English-speaking US, they have a long history of international success. Adapted for Indian TV in the 1980s, the Latin American soaps have enjoyed significant popularity in parts of Africa and the former Soviet Union. But none has been as well-received (or as frequently copied) as the story of Beatriz Aurora Pinzon Solano, the original Betty protagonist of the 1999 Colombian serial. In anticipation of Ugly Betty's Friday premiere, here are a few of the best adaptations of Betty: 

Israel: "Ugly Esti"

SF Chron's Polanski Apologist Gets Mad

San Francisco Chronicle movie critic Mick LaSalle is getting hot under the collar. The Polanski-supporter published a scathing op-ed just before 10am PST on Sunday, October 11. But by early morning October 12, the article had been taken down. The reason? LaSalle got into a flamewar with his commenters and huffily announced that he was "leaving this post up for exactly five more minutes, and then I'm taking it down because I can't keep up with... the stupidity. Five more minutes, maybe I'll put it back up later..."

To be fair, the commenters were ruthless, and they had a lot of material to work with. I've read a LOT of Polanski apologism, and this was still a jaw-dropper. LaSalle wrote "celebrities get a raw deal from the law and the courts." While admitting Polanski "did a bad thing," LaSalle argues that Polanski's early trauma should "earn him some human sympathy. Just some. So why none? Why no human sympathy?" LaSalle thinks many people hate Polanski because they're jealous of his talent and pretty wife: LaSalle's readers vociferously disagreed. So he unpublished ALL their comments AND the article.

Femimint Hygiene: Vagina Mints

I recently got a press release from the makers of Linger, an "internal feminine flavoring" that promises to keep your vagina in mint condition. Think of it as an Altoid for your lady parts or, as its website explains, "A small, naturally sweetened flavoring, free of artificial dyes, which was created to flavor the secretions of a woman when she is sexually aroused." What...the...?!

So where did the idea for this curiously wrong mint come from? Linger's website (a little NSFW) offers up a wondrous, romantic tale about the supposed discoverer of femimint hygiene, an unnamed woman who was seduced in India by a man with skin "the color of caramel." He quelled her fears of tasting bad "down there" with a mysterious, Eastern mint. "When I returned to the States, I brought the tingly sweet tasting mint with me," she writes. I've requested an interview with this mysterious entrepreneur, but have yet to speak with her. However, Linger's PR guy did send me a sample—made in exotic New Jersey. But that was just my first taste of disappointment.

Flaming Lips
Embryonic
Warner Bros.

Confession: I don't know much about The Flaming Lips. Sure, I've heard a few of their big songs, like "She Don't Use Jelly" and my favorite, "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots." But it was from a mostly neophyte perspective that I listened to their latest release, Embryonic.

Verdict: Why have I been missing out on these guys? From the opening strains of "Convinced Of The Hex" to the closing growl of "Watching The Planets," the Lips create a hypnotic, moody world reminiscent of Pink Floyd's epic "Dark Side of the Moon."

Sherman Alexie TONIGHT in SF

Sherman Alexie, everybody's favorite Native American author/poet/YA revolutionary and banned book super-star, not to mention this issue's MoJo interview subject  will be reading from his new short story collection War Dances at the Women's Building in San Francisco. After hearing him speak at last year's New Yorker Festival, I can't recommend this reading highly enough. If you're within 100 miles and still on the fence, I'd invite you to reread the excellent title story which ran in the New Yorker this August. Still not sold? What if I told you that tickets were just $8?

That's a heck of a lot less than it costs to buy on Amazon (though, apparently on his insistence, it's not even available for the Kindle). Not in SF? Check out Alexie in your city

Glenn Beck vs. the Murder Meme

Is Glenn Beck a murderer? No, of course not. But that hasn't stopped a LOL-seeker from setting up the satirical site Glenn Beck Raped And Murdered A Young Girl In 1990.com to taunt the emotionally fragile Fox host with a dose of his own brand of argument by innuendo. As it explains: "We're not accusing Glenn Beck of raping and murdering a young girl in 1990 — in fact, we think he didn't! But we can't help but wonder, since he has failed to deny these horrible allegations."

A few weeks ago, Beck sicced his attorneys on the site and asked the Internet gods (i.e., the World Intellectual Property Office) to transfer its URL to him. In a nice twist, his lawyers alleged that the site both rips off Beck's brand and is "plainly libelous, plainly false" and therefore "is likely to cause confusion for consumers"—presumably consumers who think Beck has set up a site to spread scurrilous rumors about himself. What Beck and his lawyers don't get is that they're not trying to shut down a website; they're trying to shut down an Internet meme. And that's why they're about to get a steaming helping of FAIL.

Ralph Lauren Apologizes (Sort of) for its Anorexia Ad

I don't need to rehash the censorship feud between popular website Boing Boing and Ralph Lauren. You can read about the first part here and the second part here. But today Boing Boing reports that the clothier has owned up to its Photoshop hatchet job on model (she has a name now!) Filippa Hamilton. "After further investigation, we have learned that we are responsible for the poor imaging and retouching that resulted in a very distorted image of a woman's body," Polo Ralph Lauren admitted in a statement today, according to Extra

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GOP Writer: Women Shouldn't Vote

National Review columnist John Derbyshire has made a name for himself saying really stupid things. Like when he lamented America's Hispanic "invasion," or called affirmative action "hideous," or criticized Virginia Tech victims.

His latest insane claim: Society would be better off if women didn’t vote. No really, he thinks that. The statement comes from the chapter "The Case Against Women’s Suffrage" from We Are Doomed: Reclaiming Conservative Pessimism.

When pressed about this view on a radio show yesterday, he replied:

(The) logic of that chapter, that chapter five in my book, rests on the proposition that women voting is bad for conservatism, and as a conservative, of course, I think that’s bad for society.

A ridiculous statement, of course, and one that does his party zero favors. The GOP is floundering; the last thing it needs is some bonehead publicly suggesting gender inequality as a party antidote.

So why provide him a high-profile platform in a major right-wing publication? News flash, Repubs: What's bad for conservatism is people like John Derbyshire.

Putting a Little Meat on Ralph Lauren's Models

I posted here yesterday about Ralph Lauren's attempt to censor Boing Boing, one of the Web's most popular destinations, and how it backfired. Short story: BB blogger Xeni Jardin had re-posted a photo of a Ralph Lauren poster, questioning the model's, well, suspicious proportions. (A picture is worth 1,000 anorexics.) Ralph's attorneys said cease and desist, wherupon Boing Boing decided to let the door hit the lawyers in the ass on their way out.

Now, via the detouching efforts (pictured at left) of one of its fans, Boing Boing has discovered yet another way to mock the lawsuit-threatening clothier:

Natasja Capelle, a freelance designer, has detouched the image to restore the model to something like a healthy, well-proportioned stature. Want to play along? Make your own detouched image, post a link in the comments.

All out of work graphic designers...to your computers!

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Wall-E Saves SF From Fake Bomb

Mother Jones's San Francisco office is located right downtown, on a fairly calm street near the financial district. So when I stepped out for my lunch break today, I noticed there was an unusual amount of commotion just a few doors down. As in, three fire engines, a couple dozen police cruisers, tons of yellow tape, and three helicopters hovering above. Some of the surrounding buildings had even been evacuated, but despite this, about 50 other people stood casually on the sidewalk, snapping pictures with iPhones and Blackberries, just 100 feet away from several fully-equipped firefighters.

Curious, I wandered closer and one of the firefighters told me a suspicious looking man had been seen holding a loosely wrapped package very gingerly. The man gently placed the package into a newspaper vending box, closed it, and walked away. San Francisco is famous for its eccentrics, but just to be safe, the San Francisco Bomb Squad used a remote control to move a robot toward the package to X-ray it for any dangerous materials. About 10 minutes later, the firefighters' walkie-talkies buzzed in unison. They had been informed that nothing was found.

The three helicopters buzzed away and policemen took down the yellow tape, opening the street again. As I walked back to the office, I passed the bomb squad standing around the robot. One of them glanced at me, looking cheerful he didn’t have to deal with a real bomb, and asked if I’d like to take a picture of the hero, “Wall-E”. Naturally, I said yes. Wall-E may not be exactly DARPA material, but hey, the little guy got the street open again in 10 minutes. Maybe they should order a few of him for the TSA.