The Riff - April 2009

Gastrosexual Intercourse with Lynne Rossetto Kasper

| Fri Apr. 10, 2009 4:53 PM EDT

The Splendid Table, NPR's signature cooking show, recently launched a Gastrosexual of the Month Contest. Gastrosexuals, we know (thanks Urban Dictionary), are foodies who use their culinary skills to impress friends and woo the opposite sex. Splendid Table host Lynne Rossetto Kasper, of course, is the ultimate gastrosexual: that sultry voice, that Midwestern perkiness, all that experimentation with raddichio. Grrr, and winners get to join the original saucy dish on the air.

I'm sure gastrosexuals nationwide are now polishing their essays on the sexiest culinary tool and waxing poetic about variegated beets and double creme gouda. Yet, the phrase "gastrosexual" is more a clever marketing tool than trendy neologism. A pseudo-scentific paper entitled "The Emergence of the Gastrosexual," concludes that the newest forces in the culinary scene are men, ages 25-44, who cook with the hopes of getting frisky. The paper, written by the dubious sounding Future Foundation, was commissioned by a British food company called PurAsia.

A descendant of the metrosexual, gastrosexual falls victim to the adding-a-witty-prefix-to-sexual-to-describe-a-cultural-phemonmeon curse, pushing it into marketing ploy territory. Further Googling reveals the website gastrosexual.com, an elaborate ad for PurAsia, complete with an interactive quiz, with a focus on Asian cuisine, that purports to answer the question, "just how gastrosexual are you" before guiding users on "a journey of enlightenment into the cuisine of the East"—a journey outfitted, of course, with PurAsia products.

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PETA to Pet Shop Boys: Roll Over

| Fri Apr. 10, 2009 12:03 PM EDT

PETA has finally gathered up the courage to ask the Pet Shop Boys to change their name. Explaining that pet shops often treat animals cruelly, the group suggests that the PSB consider a more critter-friendly name, like Rescue Shelter Boys. It's not clear why PETA has waited more than 20 years to make this request, though I suspect it wanted to preempt an Onion headline that's just been waiting to be written. So what will be the next step in the campaign to remove animal cruelty from musical monikers? Asking Brian Wilson to change Pet Sounds to Animal Companion Sounds?* Hounding bands like Dogs Die in Hot Cars, Psychedelic Furs, and the Meat Puppets? MoJoer Lauren Rice proposes that Meat Loaf rechristen himself Cruelty Loaf. Or Textured Vegetable Protein Loaf. Presumably Cat Power and Animal Collective are off the hook. But just to be safe, the reunited Phish may want to rename itself Sea Kittenz.

*Nonspeciesist Beach Boys makeover after the jump.

Image by Wikimedia Commons user Beaucoupkevin used under a Creative Commons License.

The Week in Digg/Reddit: Trent Reznor, Wolverine Leaks, and Dubai

| Thu Apr. 9, 2009 7:38 PM EDT

Social media, that dastardly upstart of a content type, is a little like a cocktail party: occasionally interesting and usually full of people you sort of know. Social media aggregators, on the other hand, are more like boozy pubs: entertaining and loud.

Forthwith, 10 links this week from Digg and Reddit that I found informative and deliciously strange. This (and every) week's meme: the internet! Think of social media aggregators as newspapers that report on the internet as if it were a place. That's right, kinda like a bar and kinda like a newspaper. Enjoy.

1) Does anyone else feel like despite the vastness of the internet you just visit the same 4 or 5 sites over and over?

2) Trent Reznor explains the music industry.

3) Is it immoral to review leaked copies of The Wolverine movie?

4) Hey, Bill Gates has a Facebook page!

5) Should Obama control the Internet?

6) The dark side of Dubai.

7) Yes, the Internet sucks on April 1. Every year.

8) Chewbacca chord. Hilarity ensues.

9) Hungover in London? Have I got a bacon cure for you. 

10) Just cuz it reminds me of the Homeward Bound movie..

Video: Anti-Gay Marriage Ad Audition Tapes

| Thu Apr. 9, 2009 3:51 PM EDT

The National Organization for Marriage, which probably called you Vermonters recently during dinner about keeping holy wedlock away from The Gays, has a video for you. Why are the people in it more concerned about gay marriage than the lightning bolts falling around them? Never mind, watch people flub their homophobic lines on these audition tapes instead:

UPDATE: The audition tapes are already inspiring YouTube parodies.

Are Nazis Funny? Even in Berlin?

| Thu Apr. 9, 2009 2:28 PM EDT

Mel Brooks' "The Producers" is set to open in Berlin in May. It's even being performed in a theater that used to have a luxurious "Führer's Box" for Hitler. But how will Brooks' musical, with its 20-foot swastikas and singing stormtroopers, be received? As Der Spiegel points out, the musical has already had runs in Vienna (modestly successful) and Tel Aviv. So it was really only a matter of time before it came to the Fatherland. According to the Berlin theater's manager, advance ticket sales are doing well. Still, what a strange experience to see a fey, dancing, Hitler sing "Heil Myself" in the same theater where the real Hitler once watched "The Merry Widow."

 

How Bad Was That Turkish News Anchor in Blackface Report?

| Thu Apr. 9, 2009 2:22 AM EDT

omf'ing God!

Turkish anchor reports on Obama's Turkish visit in BLACKFACE!

I am without words. But Young Turk Cenk Ugyur has a few.

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Boys Are Pilots. Girls Are Stewardesses.

| Wed Apr. 8, 2009 7:28 PM EDT

Back in the '70s everything was so much simpler. This collection of gender unbending images apparently exists in the nebulous space between satire and not satire.

Washington Post Scolds Itself

| Wed Apr. 8, 2009 3:12 PM EDT

The fact that Washington Post op-ed star George Will has been accused of inaccurate reporting isn't so surprising. What is surprising is that the accuser is The Washington Post.

In a story published yesterday, WaPo writers Juliet Eilperin and Mary Beth Sheridan cite evidence they say "contradicts data cited in widely circulated reports by Washington Post columnist George F. Will that sea ice in the Arctic has not significantly declined since 1979."

Grist writer David Roberts notes, "I can’t think of another instance when a news story at a newspaper explicitly called out an op-ed writer in the same paper for lying, by name." The closest I can think of is when New York Times ombudsman Clark Hoyt publicly reproached Maureen Dowd for gender bias. But that was an opinion, not a rebuke of reporting.

The paper's decision to call out Will was no doubt difficult, but props to them for doing the right thing—even if it leads to some awkwardness around WaPo.

The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Near At Hand?

| Tue Apr. 7, 2009 6:34 PM EDT

Anybody 'sides me watching Dollhouse?

Well, then you know that there's a super secret 'service' whereby the Bill-Gates rich can buy "dolls," people who've done something they can't live with (except for Sierra. Long story.) and who've agreed to have other personas implanted over their own. Then, the "dolls" go out as midwives, high priced whores, etc. to fulfill rich folks' fantasies, after which they're "wiped."

Turns out that technology isn't so far off. Again, the Times:

Suppose scientists could erase certain memories by tinkering with a single substance in the brain. Could make you forget a chronic fear, a traumatic loss, even a bad habit.
Researchers in Brooklyn have recently accomplished comparable feats, with a single dose of an experimental drug delivered to areas of the brain critical for holding specific types of memory, like emotional associations, spatial knowledge, or motor skills.
The drug blocks the activity of a substance that the brain apparently needs to retain much of its learned information. And if enhanced, the substance could help ward off dementias and other memory problems.
So far, the research has been done only on animals. But scientists say this memory system is likely to work almost identically in people.
If this molecule is as important as it appears to be, you can see the possible implications,” said Dr. Todd C. Sacktor, a 52-year-old neuroscientist who leads the team at the SUNY Downstate Medical Center, in Brooklyn, which demonstrated its effect on memory. “For trauma. For addiction, which is a learned behavior. Ultimately for improving memory and learning."

And...for all sorts of other stuff.

First Grandma's Essence Interview

| Tue Apr. 7, 2009 5:40 PM EDT

Best Nana ever? That would be Michelle's mama, Marian Robinson.

First Nana and First Lady grace this month's Essence and 'Big Mama' just gets cooler and cooler. There's just too much good stuff to cut and paste; check the link for the full story. My fave? The First Grandma plans to evacuate the WH with a quickness, once the kiddies are all settled. Why? "I love those people, but I love my own house. The White House reminds me of a museum and it's like, how do you sleep in a museum?"

"Those people"? Rock on, Nana. She does yoga. She thinks her own daughter is too strict. She's ready to get back to her own life after tending to her grandkids while her 'other kids' do their own thing, White House be damned.

I say: let's bring Nana Robinson to Burning Man this year!