Apparently a “vajacial” is a thing now.

You probably expected some sort of cat picture as a punny metaphor, right?

You probably expected some sort of cat picture as a punny metaphor, right?

I’m going to say something that I never thought I’d ever say: I think we may be taking our obsession with vaginas just a tad too far. I say that as someone who has been fairly obsessed with vaginas for a good portion of his life.

There have been news articles over the past few years about how porn has had an impact on the way people view their genitals. In the beginning this consisted mainly of the trimming of pubic hair for a more groomed appearance and that seemed harmless enough, but it wasn’t too long until it progressed to shaving off of the pubic hair completely, which seemed to me a bit more extreme. That, of course, was nothing compared to the rise of the brazilian wax which eliminated the razor in favor of just ripping the hair out by the roots.

Jinkies! That last one makes me cringe just thinking about it.

Anyway, while all of these things are fairly common among both men and women these days, it seems some women are taking things even further in pursuit of an attractive vajayjay:

Now, it seems that vajacials are a thing. As in, facials, but for your vagina.

Apparently, these started off as a relatively simple affair in 2010, with a papaya enzyme mask, deep cleanse and tweezer hair extractions.

They’ve moved on though. Impossibly, beauticians have moved on from convincing women that a papaya-scented nether region is a necessary aspect of good sex, and have introduced a whole new range of vagina-themed beauty products.

Some women, before a big date or perhaps a romantic mini-break, actually book themselves in for a treatment of vaginal steaming.

Seriously? How exactly does that work? Wait, I don’t really want to know. I thought a brazilian sounded painful. I can’t imagine applying hot steam to that region.

Supposedly this is done after a woman’s period has ended to “heal any imbalances”, as the article puts it, that the vagina may be left with. That right there pretty much tells you this is a bunch of nonsense someone made up to get women to spend a lot of money on having someone shoot steam up their hoohas while having goop made out of fruits no one wants to eat rubbed on them. If that’s not a big enough waste of your hard earned cash and you’re really worried that your nether regions aren’t of the proper shape then you can always opt for a vaginoplasty.

I’ve seen my fair share of vaginas over the years, both in person and in various publications, and I can’t think of any that were so unattractive that, if I were not a happily married man, I would turn down the offer of playing with them. Usually any declines of such offers had more to to with the person themselves than their vaginas and that wasn’t much of a problem because usually I was the one being declined rather than the other way around.

I thought we’d reached an apex of weirdness with vajazzling, but it seems there is no strangeness we won’t go for in pursuit of the perfect genitalia. Up next? Vajazercise!

OK, the Charlie Sheen “Winning” meme has officially gone too far.

Driving into work the other day I spotted the following on a billboard along the freeway for a church in Plymouth Michigan:

Pic of NorthRidge Church billboard.

First time I saw it I thought it said "whining", which totally changes the meaning.

I understand the Christian desire to co-opt anything that’s remotely popular into a means of church recruitment is overwhelming for a lot of Christians, but is Charlie Sheen really the sort of person you want to be “borrowing” from?

What popular movies do you just don’t get?

Pic of Big Lebowski movie poster.

The Big Wha???

And when I say “just don’t get” I mean you don’t understand what the big fucking deal is? You know the sort I’m talking about: Everyone you know has seen it and thinks it’s the most incredible/deeply philosophical/emotionally moving/amazingly subtle story they’ve ever seen. Then you watch it and all you can manage at the end of it is a great big “meh.” Or worse, a “what the fuck was THAT supposed to be about?”

I’m asking because I have a number of movies that fall into that category and I was reminded of it by a tweet from Godless Girl about The Big Lebowski in which she announced that she’s watching it for the first time ever. I saw it quite some time ago. Hell, I’ve watched it more than once because every time I do I still don’t get it. Apparently I’m not entirely alone as the movie flopped domestically when it was released, but since then it has become a cult classic spawning Lebowski Fests in various cities starting back in 2002. We all know someone who thinks it’s the most amazing movie ever and quoting The Dude is practically a compulsion among those sorts of people. I don’t think my inability to grasp it’s supposed wonderfulness is because it’s a Coen Brothers film as I loved Fargo which they also did. It’s also not an issue of not being able to follow the plot as multiple viewings have made it quite clear. I just don’t understand its appeal.

Another movie that I just don’t get is Pulp Fiction. In part I think that’s because the first time I saw the trailer for it it confused me and I thought the movie had two versions of John Travolta in it. The scene where they confront the young adults who had the briefcase had a guy in it that, in the quick edits of the trailer, I thought was a younger John Travolta who appeared to be being threatened by an older John Travolta and it confused the shit out of me. I mean it didn’t look like a science fiction movie so where’d the time travel come from? Of course it wasn’t a younger Travolta I was seeing, but that misconception didn’t help when I finally did see it. Then the non-linear nature of the story telling didn’t help with the comprehension either. I still can’t tell you what the hell it was supposed to be about.

Unlike TBL, Pulp Fiction was critically acclaimed and every time I tell someone that I don’t get it they look at me like I just said I don’t understand how to tie my own shoes. Again there are plenty of other films by Tarantino that I’ve enjoyed immensely and had no problem understanding the appeal, but PF just leaves me scratching my head. The one issue of endless speculation among fans is what was the glowing thing in the brief case. Personally, I couldn’t care less what the hell it was supposed to be and, according to Tarantino, it was simply a plot device and wasn’t ever meant to be anything in particular.

So how about you? What popular or cult movies do you just not get? I can’t be the only one who has a few head scratchers in his past.

Anne Rice declares she’s not a Christian. Still believes in Christ, just isn’t a Christian.

Yeah, I’m still trying to wrap my head around how that works if the central definition of being a Christian is believing in Christ. Of course you can start all manner of arguments among the believers by trying to nail down a definition of what a Christian is. It can be endlessly amusing if you’re bored.

Rice apparently made the announcement on her Facebook page:

For those who care, and I understand if you don’t: Today I quit being a Christian. I’m out. I remain committed to Christ as always but not to being “Christian” or to being part of Christianity. It’s simply impossible for me to “belong” to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group. For ten years, I’ve tried. I’ve failed. I’m an outsider. My conscience will allow nothing else.

As I said [above], I quit being a Christian. I’m out. In the name of Christ, I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control. I refuse to be anti-Democrat. I refuse to be anti-secular humanism. I refuse to be anti-science. I refuse to be anti-life. In the name of Christ, I quit Christianity and being Christian. Amen.

[...] My faith in Christ is central to my life. My conversion from a pessimistic atheist lost in a world I didn’t understand, to an optimistic believer in a universe created and sustained by a loving God is crucial to me. But following Christ does not mean following His followers. Christ is infinitely more important than Christianity and always will be, no matter what Christianity is, has been, or might become.

I stumbled across this over at Alan Colmes’ Liberaland and, while I’m not an Anne Rice fan by any stretch of the imagination, thought it was interesting in terms of another thread we have going here on SEB titled: A Christian asks; “I’m the bad guy?  How did that happen?” Clearly she feels that associating with Christianity makes her look bad and so she’s decided to quit the religion itself while keeping the faith in the mythical deity at its heart. I tried to do a couple of Google searches to see if there’s a growing trend of people who believe in Christ but don’t consider themselves to be Christian, but I wasn’t able to find anything with the search terms I tried.

According to her Wikipedia entry Rice was raised as a Roman Catholic and she left the church when she was 18 only to return to the fold after the death of her husband, who was apparently a passionate atheist.  However she disagreed with the Church on a number of issues including gay marriage, abortion, birth control, and priestly celibacy and allowing women to become priests. One might assume that the cognitive dissonance involved in being Roman Catholic while at the same time holding these beliefs that run counter to Church teachings may have played a rolled in her decision to declare herself an un-Christian.

I am particularly intrigued by her statement that she refuses “to be anti-secular humanism” as secular humanism is, by definition, nonreligious espousing no belief in a realm or beings imagined to transcend ordinary experience. How you can be a secular humanist believer in Christ is beyond me, but apparently she considers herself to be just that.

I tried doing a Google search to see if there’s a trend of people believing in Christ but refusing to call themselves Christian, but I was unable to come up with anything based on the search terms I tried. Based on the number of commenters on Rice’s FB page who expressed similar feelings, however, I’d suspect that it is indeed a growing trend. One person even said: “I think we should start a non-Christians for Christ group.”

It’ll be interesting to see where she goes next with this. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if she once again ends up as an atheist. Some people cycle back and forth throughout their lives as they struggle to figure out what they believe.

The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart does Chatroulette.

If you’ve never heard of Chatroulette then this will be a pretty good primer, as well as uproariously funny:

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Tech-Talch – Chatroulette
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political Humor Health Care Reform

I’m actually quite surprised at all the attention Chatroulette is receiving. As soon as I heard of it I knew there’d be tons of guys broadcasting their dicks to the world — a phenomena I’ve never really understood — because it happens on just about every other video chat network out there as well. For awhile Microsoft’s Netmeeting was a fairly popular avenue for dick broadcasting and that was years ago. I suppose the one big difference here is that you can surprise random people with your schlong for the lulz of seeing their reactions. (I find myself amused that I don’t have to link to a definition of “schlong” but felt the need to link to one for “lulz”.)

I often wonder if there are females out there who do anything similar. On those rare occasions that I’ve ventured into a video chat room of one kind or another I came across lots of guys proudly displaying their wangs for all the world to see, but I can’t recall ever coming across some random female broadcasting her hoo-ha to whomever happened along. Occasionally I’d happen upon boobs, yes, but never a fun basket. Is it just too scary looking at the low-bandwidth resolutions afforded by a webcam or is there some line that most women have decided they won’t cross that most men have long ago left behind in the dust? A question for the ages, I’m sure.

All that said, there are some folks doing some interesting and amusing things with Chatroulette out on the net. Like the guy who dresses up as Cobra Commander from G.I. Joe and tries to find a Valentine:

Then there’s the woman who decided to see what would happen if she fed the incoming video feed from Chatroulette back into itself so when you connected with her it looked like you had connected with yourself. She condensed some five hours of amused, surprised, and confused reactions down into this video:

For those wondering, it took a couple seconds for the feed to cycle back which is why the reactions are a tad delayed.

So obviously there’s more you can do with Chatroulette than just prove to the world that you have a cock and it’s these other experiments that I find much more interesting. Any douchebag can drop his pants in front of his webcam. These folks are being creative.

Big Plans for Gen Con Indy 2010

Akusai from Action Skeptics here, folks. Well, ladies and gentlemen, plans for a symposium of reality-based programming at Gen Con Indy 2010 are coming together faster than I could have imagined. Some of you may remember that back in September Les was kind enough to allow me to post A Call to Skeptical Action, wherein I detailed my preliminary hopes and plans for Gen Con (i.e. trying to get a Dragon*Con style Skeptic Track going), and I’m back to beg your indulgence again for an update on those plans.

First off, we have a dedicated blog: Gen Con Skeptics. Everything I’m about to tell you here is covered in greater detail there, so it’s worth stopping by. I’m constantly adding new material, so click early and often.

Our plans, as of now, include half a dozen presentations covering various skeptical topics and delivered by a bunch of different people. We’ll be educating the Gen Con population on archaeology, evolution, and cargo cults, and we’re staging two different iterations of a four-man panel called “Skepticism, Critical Thinking, and Pop Culture,” for which we’re prepping basic information on almost twenty different woo-woo and pseudoscientific topics and letting the audience decide what we talk about.

Perhaps the biggest deal of all, however, is the fundraiser we’ll be running to benefit the Indiana Immunization Coalition. I spoke last week with the director of the IIC, and she’s very excited that we’re offering to raise money for them. They plan to put all proceeds toward new educational and informational programs in an effort to counter misinformation about vaccines spread by the antivaccination movement.

I don’t have the details finalized with Gen Con yet, but I have a scheduled phone call to make tomorrow afternoon with their Marketing Director to do just that. She, too, loves the idea, and it looks like we’re going to have a table situated in the Kids and Family section of the exhibit hall, which is almost perfect for our plans. What we’re going to do is trade our amateur magician skills (there are two of us with those skills) for donations based on a “menu” of card tricks, simple close-up magic, and amazing feats of mentalism and cold reading. While we’re doing that, we’re going to distribute information about vaccines and about the Indiana Immunization Coalition, basically what they do and why it’s important. We’re going to back up the fundraiser with a couple of pro-vax presentations that will combine good immunization information, counters to common antivax claims, and PR for the IIC and their mission.

We don’t have any so-called “Big Name” skeptics coming to the event, but hopefully with a good showing this year, we can attract people in the future. I do have a proposal into the fine ladies at Skepchick, but I’m not promising anything. I also have an e-mail out to Mike Stackpole, bestselling sci-fi author and founder of the Phoenix Skeptics, who was kind enough to meet with us last year and offer advice. Who knows? He might want to give a talk, too.

All in all, this year’s Gen Con Indy is shaping up to be a big win for grassroots skepticism. We have educational outreach, audience involvement, and a fantastic opportunity to help raise vaccine awareness and bolster Indiana’s pathetic immunization rates. If anybody is going to be in the Indianapolis area on August 5-8, we’d love to have you drop by. If anyone’s interested in joining our little dog-and-pony show, we’d love to have you. Event submission for Gen Con doesn’t end until mid-March, so we have until then to add programming to our schedule.

If you don’t want to talk or run an event, we still do need volunteers to help out with the fundraiser. The rest of us can’t man the table all day and still do our own presentations, and we’d like to enjoy the con at some point, too. If we get a decent rotating roster of people haranguing the masses for donations while supplying them with accurate information about vaccines, we can all take part in what I’ve just now decided to call “Vaccination Win 2010″ and have a good time at the con, too.

And, though I did note his (perhaps conspicuous) silence on this note when last I posted here, I still think that Mine Host Mr. Les Jenkins hisownself should come down to Gen Con for the festivities. Join me in bothering him until he says yes, would you kindly?

As before, you can visit the planning forum, leave a comment at the blog, use the contact form, or just drop me an e-mail at causticbox[at]gmail[dot]com. Hope to see some people there!

More stupidity with the year 2012. (#Blogathon)

I was just talking about this on the live feed and thought it would make a decent blog post. Can we please stop giving attention to the nutcases who are claiming the world is going to end in 2012? The folks at the Salt Lake Tribune just published an article on this nonsense in part, I suspect, because of the impending release of the Roland Emmerich disaster film based on it.

What caught my attention, however, was this comment by associate professor Lynn Clark:

It’s not a religious film per se, but its religious imagery and end-of-days tribulations will resonate, experts say, with audiences—particularly young people—who take their spiritual cues from pop culture.

“Hollywood movies tend to succeed if they don’t underestimate [the sophistication of] their audience,” said Lynn Clark, associate professor of new media at the University of Denver. “There is an urgency for [spiritual discovery] that is part of the undercurrent of young people’s lives these days.”

Youth may not be avidly reading their Bibles and attending church in large numbers, but Clark said they do look to the entertainment industry to initiate religious discussions.

Really young people? Are you really taking your “spiritual cues” from pop culture? It would explain a lot. And can Hollywood ever really underestimate the sophistication of their audience? When stuff like Paul Blart: Mall Cop not only being made, but doing semi-respectable business at the box office I’d have to say that you could never underestimate the sophistication (or lack of it) of the audience.

And if you’re going to look to the entertainment industry to initiate religious discussions surely there are much better movies out there to do that with than 2012. Granted I can’t think of any off top of my head at the moment, but surely there’s something out there.

The moon landing coverage if it had happened today.

This is an interesting little video put together by the folks over at Slate. It attempts to show how the coverage of the moon landing would be different had it happened this year instead of 40 years ago. The resulting clip is both funny and sad at the same time:

Walter Cronkite just passed away the other day and I think all the reflection on his amazing career made folks realize just how infantile and shallow television news coverage has become in recent times. I think part of that has to do with the advent of 24 hour news channels with their constant struggle to fill the day with enough “news” to keep their ratings up. Back when CNN and Headline News got started they did a pretty good job, but it didn’t take long before competition came along and the Powers That Be realized that shallow infotainment pieces generated a lot more ratings for less cost than more traditional reporting did. It says something when Ted Turner, the man who started both channels, publicly admits he can’t stand to watch them anymore:

On Headline News: “Headline News used to be straight news anytime you wanted it. It’s unwatchable now. It’s heartbreaking.”

On celebrity news: “The media are too busy with Michael Jackson. The greatest fear we could possibly have today is an uninformed electorate. That is what really scares me.”

[...] On CNN: “It will be on in my hospital room when I die. That, or the Cartoon Network. Scooby- Doo has been very good to me.”

Think about that for a moment. Ted Turner puts Cartoon Network on an equal level as CNN as something that he may be watching when he dies. That says a lot about the quality of the news reporting at CNN to me. Not that CNN alone is to blame. FOX News is arguably the most to blame for dragging the quality of the 24 hour news channels down since the day it started. When you combine the shittiness of the current 24 hour news channels with the fact that more and more newspapers are cutting back or folding up shop altogether, well, it doesn’t bode well for a properly informed electorate in the future.

Of course that assumes the electorate has any desire to be properly informed in the first place, which is a whole other can of worms in itself…

The celebrities! They are dropping like flies!

Farah, MJ, Ed McMahon, and now Billy Mays. If I were prone to conspiracy theories I might start to think something was afoot. Two of the four deaths—Farah and Ed—aren’t unexpected and, honestly, Michael’s isn’t a huge surprise given all the surgery he’s subjected himself to over the years. May’s death may be the result of a head injury after a rough landing when the plane he was on lost its front wheels during a landing.

In all honesty none of these passings stirs any deep feelings in me. I’m probably one of the few guys who grew up in the 70’s and 80’s who didn’t have that iconic Farah poster on his wall. I didn’t watch the Tonight Show enough to care about Ed McMahon so most of my exposure to him was through those stupid Publisher’s Clearing House Sweepstakes ads. I’ll confess to singing along with a couple of Michael Jackson’s songs back in the 80’s, but I was never enough of a fan to buy an album and while I have nothing personal against Billy Mays I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that it’s somewhat of a relief that he won’t be making commercials anymore.

So, yeah, lots of folks dropping dead out there and the only real emotion I’ve experienced so far is annoyance at all the networks falling all over themselves to do Michael Jackson memorial shows. Though those are probably going to be less annoying in the long run than all the kiss-and-tell exposes that I’m sure we’ll be hearing about now that he’s dead and can’t sue the hell out of people he was paying to keep quiet. Already we’ve got his baby momma telling the tabloids that Michael isn’t the biological father of his kids and she doesn’t want to take custody of them. Next up will probably be the Nanny. Oh joy!

So I probably won’t be watching much television until this all dies down, if you’ll pardon the expression.
 

When the hell did Domo become big in the U.S.?

Over the weekend we stopped into the local Target store and I was stunned to see huge advertising displays featuring the weirdly cute fuzzy Japanese monster-thingy known as Domo all over the place. That’s a pic of him over on the left. I’ve known about him for years and have a QuickTime movie file on my PC which contains every single one of the short animations he featured in used as station identification shorts for NHK TV in Japan. He’s been fairly popular among anime fans for years, but almost no one outside of the anime subculture knows who the hell he is.

Or at least I didn’t think they did. The fact that Target has licensed him to sell Halloween stuff seems to suggest he’s gone mainstream. Not only was I surprised to see Domo all over the place, but a little kid that walked in with us immediately knew who he was and started calling out his name, “Look mom! It’s Domo!” According to his Wikipedia entry it seems Nickelodeon licensed him in 2006 for 26 two-minute shorts which they just started airing this year. If they were half as warm and fuzzy as the Japanese originals then they were probably a sensation with the kids, as the one child I saw this weekend would attest. And now Target has snapped him up.

Turns out I wasn’t the only person surprised by this as reporter Tom Horgen over at StarTribune.com wrote a big article about him:

In 2003, an American licensing company named Big Tent approached Goda and NHK about bringing Domo to the United States in a bigger way, a deal that eventually led to the Target campaign.

“No, no, no,” Goda remembered saying at the time, hesitant about Domo’s American fate. Goda was unaware that Domo already had a following outside of Japan.

Today, Goda said he’s excited about Domo going mainstream in this country. But he understands why some of the character’s cult followers might be perturbed.

“It’s really difficult to balance the popularity and keeping the core fans,” he said.

But after Goda finally saw Domo in his new American setting, he was pleased.

“When we saw the Target store in Portland and saw Domo surrounded by all that American stuff, I was so happy,” he said.

In fact, Goda has been a fan of American pop-culture since he was a kid. His favorite character? That would be Snoopy, created by Minnesota’s own Charles Schulz.

Like Domo, Snoopy is a cuddly troublemaker and a man of few words. He’s also been a mainstream icon for decades, one that even anti-mass-market geeks like myself have loved.

Earlier in the article Tom brings up the possibility that early fans of Domo here in the states may feel he’s “sold-out” by becoming a mascot for Target:

When underground sensations like Domo hit the mainstream—he also has a deal with Nickelodeon—it can render the original uncool, or even result in cries of “sellout.”

That seems kind of stupid considering Domo was created to advertise a TV network, but I suppose some folks who don’t know his history may fall into that trap anyway. Still it’s kind of neat to see something I’ve been a fan of for years suddenly being popular in the United States. If it makes it a little easier (and not to mention cheaper) to finally pick up a Domo plushie then so much the better.