And It Feels So Good . . .

I have been in a good mood lately.  It’s been one of those Better Off Ted weeks for me.

There are several kinds of weeks, in case you didn’t know.

There are Top Gun weeks.  Those are the weeks where you kick a$$.

There are Honey I Shrunk The Kids weeks.  Those are the weeks where you screw up big time.

There are The Time Traveler’s Wife weeks.  Those are the weeks where you are constantly on the go.

There are Napoleon Dynamite weeks.  Those weeks are easy going.

There are Days Of Our Lives weeks.  Those weeks are full of drama.

There are Dr. Zhivago weeks.  Those weeks are depressing as hell, and they drag on for what seems like forever.  You just want to sleep through them.  One of my “neat” friends has been having a week like that.  Hopefully this shout out will make her weekend a little better.    ;  )

There are Wayne’s World weeks.  Those weeks are just weird. 

Then, there are Breakfast at Tiffany’s weeks.  Mhmm.  Those are my favorite.

This list is not exhaustive.

So what kind of week have you been having?

*  Speaking of Better Off Ted, I would like to clear up some confusion by reminding all of my star-struck readers that I am not the celebrity pictured in my profile.  I am far more dashing than Jay Harrington.    ;  )

Sexism (A Rant)

I don’t usually rant on here.  Because that’s not something I like to do.  I like to focus on pleasant things in the world.  But sometimes, unpleasant things just need to be said.

Today, that unpleasant thing is sexism.

With all the challenges that face women in this testosterone-driven world, you’d think the least our society could do is pay you ladies a little respect, right?  Well apparently not.  Society is perfectly content to do much less. 

Yeah, yeah we’ve all heard it before.

But seriously!  I did not truly realize how little respect women get until this past Saturday, the day of the Miss America pageant.

As you know, I was very amped up for the Miss America pageant.  To me, Miss America is the female equivalent of the Super Bowl.  It is a major, big time event.  And, as you might guess, I am rather put off by how it gets swept under the rug by the media.  So this year, I took matters into my own hands.  Like a football player preparing for the big game, I strategized.  I studied film.  I analyzed technique.  I paid attention to detail.  I honed in on strengths and weaknesses.  I did jumping jacks.  Okay, no, I didn’t do jumping jacks.  But I prepared rigorously just the same.

Then came the big night.  I announced my picks, and set off for my favorite vantage point — the bar at Chili’s.  The place was busy.  No surprise, given that it was Saturday night.  Yet, I somehow managed to grab a prime seat in front of one of the four TVs in the house.  Things were off to a good start.  All I needed to do was comandeer a TV (i.e., get my waiter to change the channel to Miss America.)  No problem, I thought.  Wrong.

As I said before, I watched the Miss America pageant at this same Chili’s last year.  Of course, I was there with an old flame.  We had no problem getting the pageant on the main TV.  They turned up the speakers in the bar, and soon it was the subject of everyone’s conversation.  Then, more people started moving over to the bar area to see what was going on.  Soon the place was buzzing with energy!

This year, a much different scene unfolded.  Upon taking my seat, I noticed that all of the four TVs were on the NFL playoff game between the Packers and Falcons.  No one seemed to be watching my TV; and I was the only one sitting in front of it.  However, when I asked my waiter to put the pageant on, he looked at me like I was from Mars.  (Or perhaps more appropriately, Venus.)

“Umm, I’m not sure we can do that — ”  he stammered. 

Next thing I know, I am talking to the manager.  He tries telling me that they cannot put on shows “like that” — as an example, he pointed out that a previous customer had wanted to watch The Bachelor, but management felt the show was inappropriate. 

Seriously?  Was he really comparing the prestigious Miss America pageant — the fourth longest running television event in American history — to The Bachelor??

With a little patience, I managed to show him the light.  He was a nice guy, with good intentions, but trapped in a mindset where TV programs fall into one of two categories: sports, and everything else.  I explained how I’d watched it here last year with no problem, how the pageant is a timeless American tradition, how it only came on once a year, how each of the other three TVs were on the game, and how I didn’t own a TV and was at Chili’s for the specific purpose of watching the pageant.  Indeed, I found it hard to believe that any of the TVs were on a mere divisional playoff game instead of the pageant, much less all of them.  He stared at me blankly, as though I was speaking in a language he could not decipher.

Then, running out ammunition, I reasoned with him man-to-man.  I said that I might — might — be able to understand if the Cowboys were playing.  But who really gave a rip about a cheesehead game, anyway?  This he understood.  He switched the channel immediately.  But under one condition — if anyone complained, he had to switch it back.

The fact that I had to practically put on a powerpoint presentation to get Miss America on my TV is quite telling about the respect feminine events are afforded in our mainstream society.  Anyway, the show was on at last.  I ordered a round of chips and queso, as the initial 15 finalists were selected.  All seemed to be right with the world again.      

Well, what do you imagine happened next?  Some anonymous person supposedly “complained.”  The TV had to go back to the game.

I really can’t say I was surprised.  The manager felt bad.  He called around for me, but none of the other restaurants had the pageant on.  Better luck next year.

Annoyed, I drove down the road to Buffalo Wild Wings.  This time I called ahead, to avoid making the same mistake.  At first they told me they could put it on, but then they said all the TVs were taken.  Finally, I convinced them to put it on one of the outside TVs that no one was watching, because it was a chilly January night.  They said okay, but no sound.

So there I was.  Sitting outside alone, shivering in the cold on a Saturday night, while I stared at a silent TV overhead.  Perhaps the only TV on the strip broadcasting one of the most famous and enduring yearly events in America.  Which just happens to feature only women.  (Lord, I know this sounds pathetic.)   

But seriously.  This is the respect women get in our society.

If that point wasn’t driven home to me already, it certainly was by what happened next.  Eventually, a woman came outside too.  I was too busy texting and pulsing to pay her much attention.  A few minutes later, five drunk guys also came out.  To call these guys “douchebags” is too kind.  They saw that the pageant was on and started making extremely vulgar sexual jokes.  Jokes that would make a sailor blush.  I just tried to tune them out.  I wasn’t going to let their immaturity ruin the night for me, I thought.

And that brings me to the whole point of this rant.  Yes, I can handle stuff like that, like most other guys.  I find it distasteful and offensive (and several other adjectives), but when I’m out by myself, I’m willing to just ignore it.  Good for me.  But you know who had a much harder time handling it?  The woman outside with me.  It wasn’t until she stormed off after about the twenty-fifth consecutive vulgar joke, that I realized what had just happened.  Here was a woman who had walked outside, in the cold, to watch the Miss America pageant at a restraunt with every other TV turned to sports, only to find herself alone with a bunch of drunk idiots who don’t even have the decency to keep their foul mouths shut for thirty minutes while she watches the end of the show. 

And what do you think these a-holes did after she left?  They made vulgar jokes about her.

This is the “respect” women get in our society.

Then, the next morning, I woke up and checked CNN on my phone to see the morning news.  I was expecting the front page to have Miss Nebraska’s smiling face plastered all over it.  When I didn’t see it, I scrolled down the headlines to see the article on the pageant.  Nothing.  Nada.  Didn’t even make the headlines.  Finally, I found the article buried in the entertainment section behind must-see headline stories like ‘Usher Cancels Concert In Germany.’

Seriously.  This is the respect y’all get.  You ladies deserve more than this!

Okay, I think I’m done ranting.

One final point.  I am certainly not saying that sexism only cuts one way.  Guys are often the victim of sexism, too.  For example, one might argue that if I had been a woman, or had been with a woman, Chili’s would have let me watch Miss America.  (They didn’t have a problem the year before, when I came there with a woman.)  But isn’t that sexism too?  (It felt like it to me.)

Anyway, enough for tonight.

A New Miss America Is Crowned!

I introduce to you, your 2011 MISS AMERICA, Teresa Scanlan of Nebraska!

At the tender age of seventeen, Teresa is the youngest contestant to win since the very first pageant in 1921, when sixteen year old Margaret Gorman became the first Miss America.  Teresa delivered an astounding rendition of Whitewater Chopsticks on the piano, proving that her Thursday night victory in the preliminary talent competition was no fluke.  And, despite her young age, throughout the night she carried herself with the grace and poise of an American princess.  She is a very deserving winner.

As for my predictions, I actually did unusually well this year.  I correctly picked two of the Top Five.  I had a feeling Miss Nebraska and Miss Oklahoma would do well, too, after they won preliminary competitions, but unfortunately I did not include them in my original Top 20 so I could not choose them for my list.


My number one pick, Miss Hawaii (far left), came up just short of victory in third place.  And my number three pick, Miss Washington (left of center), finished a very respectable fourth.  My number two pick, Miss Virginia, also made the Top Ten. 

I am very proud of my top three contestants.  Especially Miss Hawaii.  She did so well!  I feel like she might have won it if her talent wasn’t singing.  Singers have won the pageant the past two years, and I think the judges did not want to extend that streak.  I am also proud of Miss Virginia.  She was fighting an uphill battle because last year’s winner was from Virginia.  Lastly, Miss Washington finished almost exactly as I predicted.

But the contestant I am most proud of tonight is Miss Arkansas, Alyse Eady.  My homestate lady brought her “A” game, and came within inches of winning it!  She was the runner-up in the competition!  Her riveting ventriloquist act was a crowd favorite.

When the host announced her name as the last finalist to make the Top Five, I was shocked beyond words.  I think tonight was the first time I’ve ever seen my mom text “OMG.”  Then, when Miss Arkansas stood at the center of the stage holding hands with Miss Nebraska, knees trembling, hearts racing, one of them just seconds away from being crowned Miss America — it was almost like a surreal dream.  The State of Arkansas beams with pride tonight!

But my pride is tempered somewhat by my embarrassment.  Despite choosing Alyse for my original Top 20, I somehow did not advance her into my Top 15!  I always root for Miss Arkansas, and I certainly planned to root for her tonight.  But for some reason, I flinched.  What was I thinking??

So Miss Arkansas, if you are reading this tonight, please forgive me.  I never should have doubted you.  You are a wonderful ventriloquist.  And tonight, I am the dummy.

Overall, the pageant was spectacular.  All the contestants did a fantastic job.  I’m really glad I decided to prepare rigorously for the competition this year.  It definitely made for an enjoyable experience.  And, perhaps most importantly, it allowed me to share a special American tradition with my with my mom, my sister, and my (mostly female) readers on Xanga.  (All of whom I was texting / pulsing throughout the competition.)

The guys who spent the night watching football don’t know what they missed.

Miss America Pre-Game Show

The big day is finally here!  Tonight, at 9 pm ET on ABC, a new Miss America will be crowned.  As your loyal Miss America “correspondent,” I’ve got the pre-competiton breakdown for you.

I could not find the personal interviews online, but what I did find was just as good.  The entire preliminaries somehow made it on to YouTube!  So I got a sneak preview of the contestants in action.  Here are the winners of the preliminary competitions:

Tuesday Night

Talent  —  Miss North Carolina.  Her phenomenal clogging routine lit up the stage and brought the crowd to their feet!

Swimsuit — Miss Hawaii.  I am not alone; apparently the judges have fallen victim to her charm, too!

Wednesday Night

Talent  —  Miss Rhode Island.  Her rendition of “Smile” was sung with perfect pace and inflection, sending chills up and down the spine.

Swimsuit  —  Miss Alabama.  Classic Southern beauty!

Thursday Night

Talent — Miss Nebraska.  Her performance of Whitewater Chopsticks was thunderous.  Her fingers slid majestically across the piano, hypnotizing the crowd. And to think — she’s only seventeen!

Swimsuit  —  Miss Oklahoma.  Athletic yet still femine, she towered over the other swimsuit constestants on night 3.


I have now seen the intro videos, the fashion show, and the preliminaries.  And I am ready to rank my favorites.  Here they are:

1.  Miss Hawaii

2.  Miss Virginia

3.  Miss Washington

4.  Miss New Jersey

5.  Miss Georgia

6.  Miss Ohio

7.  Miss Colorado

8.  Miss South Dakota

9.  Miss Mississippi

10.  Miss Pennsylvania

11.  Miss Deleware

12.  Miss Wyoming

13.  Miss Tennessee

14.  Miss Virgin Islands

15.  Miss New Hampshire

There you have it.  So tune in to see how it all plays out.  Here is a good Intro Video to get you ready for the pageant.  May the best lady win!

I will also be posting pulses on my iPhone in real time from my favorite spot to watch Miss America — the bar at Chili’s.  So drop in to get my live reaction.  Haha.  (I always ask the waitress to put it on.  At first, the people at the bar are like WTF?  But then everyone’s eyes are glued to it.)  The place is sure to be rocking tonight . . .

Miss America Update

Snow angels graced Dallas on Monday, leaving icy shadows behind.  Tonight will be a shivering seventeen degrees.  After an unseasonably warm December, winter has officially reached us here in the Lone Star State.   It’s a good evening to curl up by the fireplace and sip hot cocoa. 

Oh yes, and also a good evening for a Miss America pageant update.

On Friday, fifty-three beautiful contestants arrived in Las Vegas and began a grand tour of the city.  First, they dressed up in their favorite outfits and strutted their stuff at Fashion Show Mall.  Then, the ladies headed to the Eiffel Tower for an elegant photo op.  Las Vegas has never looked so classy!

But tonight, things start getting serious.  This marks the beginning of the three-night preliminary competition, which along with the personal interview, will determine the fifteen finalists who will compete for the crown of Miss America on Saturday.  The contestants will be divided into three groups for the preliminaries.  Each night, one group will do the talent competition, another will do the swimsuit and evening wear competition, and the other will answer an onstage question.  A preliminary winner will be chosen from each group every night.  However, I’ve found that just because a contestant wins a preliminary does not necessarily mean she is going to be a finalist.

There is also another important factor that determines the finalists: the personal interview.  The personal interviews took place this past weekend.  However, they have not yet been posted online.  The personal interviews count for 25% of the contestants’ overall score.  So in reality, a quarter of the competition is already over.

Until the interviews come out, I cannot yet rank my 20 favorite contestants.  However, I did get a chance to watch the Fashion Show the ladies put on this weekend!  The fashion show is a great event because there not as much pressure and each lady really gets to showcase her personality — both in her clothing and body language.

The problem is, I’m not very good at judging fashion.  (Don’t act so shocked.)  So I basically evaluated the contestants based on their walk, body language, attitude, and the overall impression they gave me.  Here are the top contestants who scored points in my book during the show:

Miss New Hampshire.  Watching her glide over the runway really made me glad I kept her on my good list!  She was radiating with confidence.  And I don’t know much about fashion, but what she had on looked pretty good to me.

Miss South Dakota.  She made walking down the runway look so effortless.

Miss Washington.  Her walk really caught my attention.  I also liked the pink dress and the confident triple pose.  She definitely made a good impression on me.

Miss Hawaii.  Speaking of pink dresses . . . here’s another good one.  I am such a sucker for the flower in the hair!  Last year, Miss Kentucky stole my heart with a flower like that.  And her playful attitude is very attractive.  She just seems so fun.

Miss Ohio.  Bold move to go with pants.  That shows she is confident about her sense of fashion, and not afraid to stand out.

Miss Colorado.  I really liked her outfit.  She looked comfortable on the catwalk.

Miss New Jersey.  She has the grace of a Miss America, and a smile that lights up the room.  I get the sense that she has a rare talent for connecting with people.

Okay, so those were the top contestants who got a boost from the fashion show.  Some others that I also liked were Miss Arizona (she must do modeling), Miss Connecticut, Miss Kansas, Miss New Mexico, Miss Missouri, and Miss Puerto Rico.  I also liked how when the M.C. announced that Miss Massachusetts graduated from Harvard, everyone went “whoa!”  Haha.

I guess that’s all for tonight.  I plan to post my rankings on Friday.  Hopefully the interviews will come out before then.  If you’re looking for something to pass the time, here is a cool link to 90 Fun Facts about this year’s pageant.

One last thing — if any of you ladies out there could educate me on which outfits in the show were the best, then please do!  I would hate to know I am overlooking a special contestant just because I lack fashion sense.    :  P

They spent the afternoon cruising around the city, leaving an odiferous trail of perfume, cologne, and altoids.  Little did they know, the devil himself had come along for the ride.   Or so thought a golden-aged convenience store clerk, a man who had earned a reputation as a no-nonsense defender of traditional values.

The store clerk glanced up from his stool as they strolled in.  Their unadorned ring fingers told him all he needed to know.

The clerk took pride in keeping a close watch on sinners in his store.  He leaned forward and tilted his chin down, so that his thick reading glasses would not obstruct his view of the security camera monitor.  He watched closely as the devil’s minions shuffled about the store aimlessly, taking all too much pleasure in each other’s company.  Basking in their sin.  They would someday pay a price for their lust, he assured them silently.

Then, right before his very eyes, the gates of hell swung open.  The clerk stared in disbelief as the two love birds looked around to see if anyone was watching, and then disappeared into the one-person restroom at the back of the store.  The stool toppled to the floor.

Inside, she elevated herself onto the sink.  A mischievous smile crept across her face.   Her eyes coaxed him closer, until her legs surrounded his waist.  One hand caressed the back of his jaw.  The other lifted up his shirt, glided around his torso, and made its way ever so gently down the small of his back.  Her lips were not nearly as gentle.

“I can tell you like being in control,” he said in between gasps for air. 

“Oh yeah? What gave it away?” she replied, eyeing his lips like a queen gazing down upon kneeling servants.  The truth was she did like being in control.  Just not all the time.

Boom.  Boom.  Boom. 

“I know you’re in there!  Don’t make me break this thing down!” said a voice from outside. 

Startled, he looked up at the door.  “Crap, we’ve gotta go,” he told her.  The pounding grew louder.

“Just one more,” she whispered breathlessly.  Before he could protest, she seized him with such urgency that he nearly fell forward and pinned her against the mirror.  He grabbed ahold of the sink to brace himself. 

Suddenly the sink gave way.  Water spewed from the wall as they both fell to the floor.

“Shit!” he yelled, as he tried to shield his face from the water.  He stumbled to his feet and helped her up.  Leaning against the door, he turned and grabbed her by the shoulders.  

“When I open this door, I want you to follow right behind me and then run for the exit as fast you can.  Don’t wait up for me.  Are you ready?”  She nodded, water dripping from her matted hair.

The door flung open.  He charged head-first into the clerk, sending both men tumbling into a rack of merchandise.  Bags of chips and candy rained down on them.  From beneath the snack food avalanche, he felt two small hands grab his shoe and drag him into the aisle.  It was her. She helped him to his feet and together they made a mad dash for the door.  As they raced past bewildered customers, a fading voice behind them called out, “stop those hooligans!  Somebody call the police!”

Once outside, they didn’t even pause to catch their breath.  They just kept running.