Wednesday’s “Today” Outrage — 1,200-pound fondue

This morning, Today ran a segment out of the UK about an 8-year-old who weighs nearly 200 pounds. His parents feed him a snack every 20 minutes. Apparently there’s talk of making these kinds of situations legally punishable as a form of child abuse.

Then, Today teased a segment on women who were anorexic in their youth and still struggle…and Today followed this tease with a shot of several men gathered around a giant fondue pot. Yes, they’re making a 1,200-pound fondue, right there on the show.

Which disorders are we watching here: eating, or bipolar?

Today Show Outrage

For some inexplicable reason, I keep watching the Today Show, despite the fact that it puts my panties in a bunch nearly every day. But I realized this might be the perfect outlet for my daily outrage over the “news” on Today.

Occasionally, I’ll turn on CNN out of frustration, but the last time I did that I was outraged by their anchor’s embarrassing lack of knowledge of climate change. (“Global warming? But we’re having blizzards!” The scientist patiently explained, earning himself sainthood.)

Today, Today ran a segment about fame and celebrities that sent me over the edge. Tabloids have grown while news magazines remained stagnant, they said. High school kids want to be famous more than they want to be smart or strong or pretty, they said. We’re obsessed with celebrities, they said.

What did they tease at the end of this segment? Red carpet fashion you can afford!

Well, I can’t accuse them of moralizing.

Jesus sells movies

I felt I needed another cup of coffee for my Oscars hangover this morning after I read on the BBC that (supposedly) director James Cameron had found the tomb of Jesus.

Just couldn’t let Scorsese have his day in the sun, could he?

Jesus can sell a movie; Mel Gibson proved that. (So can Moses; Charlton Heston proved that.) James Cameron can sell a movie, too, and so far he’s done it without marketing assistance from Jesus. But maybe this “discovery” has Cameron seeing Hollywood’s brand of golden idols during the season when they are so obsequiously worshipped.

I suppose this shouldn’t be shocking when even Bible publishers use a milieu of marketing tools to sell the Good Book, according to a recent New Yorker article. Is anyone else tired of seeing religion used for such materialistic ends?

Nordic skiing, part 2

Today we had good reminders of the third and fourth rules of cross-country skiing.

The third rule is temperature — you want it juuuuust right. If it’s too warm, you’ll slog along. Today, the forecast called for temps in the 20s (fine) with wind chills of -15F (not fine).

We are generally not wussies. A few weeks ago we were watching the evening news and learned they’d had 80 mph winds at Eldora ski resort during the day. Guess where we’d been that morning and afternoon?

Then again, lots of people ski at Eldora in lousy conditions. It’s notoriously windy up there, but it’s the local hill, so Boulderites crowd in despite the gales.

Okay, so we’re not wussies, but we’re not crazy, either. Call it the middle way. So -15? Well, that kind of wind chill brings me to the fourth rule of XC skiing:

If necessary, bail. Then eat.

This is a good rule for many activities, and the second part of Rule #4 is enjoyable and easy to follow. Jeremy and I chose to observe Rule #4 at the Dushanbe Tea House. I highly recommend it as a place to drown the sorrows of bailing. When we bail from trails in the national park, we like to partake in the fourth rule at Kind Coffee in Estes Park (past the Starbucks, no whip double organic tree hugger mochas). We don’t bail often, but that espresso in a recycled cup sure does ease the humilation.

Nordic skiing, part 1

The first rule of cross-country skiing is fitness — have it. If your heart is opposed to beating 180 times in one minute, then Nordic skiing might not be for you.

Every time we’ve gone to Nordic centers, with their seemingly gentle, rolling grounds that lack the fight-or-flight slopes the chair lifts climb at resorts, we see those poor people who, avoiding one poison, inadvertently pick another. I’m no good at downhill skiing, they say, so I thought I would try this. If this idea has crossed your mind and you’re not already training for a 10K or triathlon, save yourself the trouble of a day of lactic acid and start your apres-ski early with an Irish coffee in the lodge.

Case in point: the first time I donned my tights for some classic XC skiing (this is a European endurance sport, so Lycra is a prerequisite), I was lifting at the gym three times a week and cycling about as often. I was 24, had visible ab muscles and solid, not saggy, triceps. But when I hit that first oh-so gradual hill on a green trail, I was sucking wind and stripping off clothes in the 30-degree weather.

(I’m pretty sure I sunburned the insides of my nostrils that day. Snow is reflective, I learned.)

This brings me to the second rule of XC skiing, which is going uphill — get used to it. Not only are you required to go uphill, you do so with smoothly waxed planks attached to your feet. If you want to stop to take a break, you have to awkwardly position yourself at an angle that doesn’t destroy the tracks or let you slide backwards. This is only if no one is behind you. So you really just want to keep going up, which is where that high heart rate comes in.

Where do I order that Irish coffee?

Jeremy is an endurance freak of nature. He’s done competitive endurance sports his entire life. So of course, Jeremy read that skate skiing — the ultimate aerobic way to punish yourself on skis, even more so than classic XC — is a great way for cyclists to cross-train in the winter, and was hooked before he’d even tried it. He practically drooled the first time we saw skate-skiers elegantly gliding along the middle of the groomed trails. They’re thin, efficient and graceful, like watching the Tour de France on snow.

The season ended shortly after that first glimpse, and Jeremy never got his chance to skate that winter. So after a four-year exile in Missouri, he had an undeniable jones to get on skate skis when we moved back to Colorado last year. In December, we went to Summit County for a few days, and we took a skate-skiing lesson together.

This brings me to the first rule of skate-skiing, which we learned is balance — have some. Not the yoga kind, where you stand in tree pose for a few minutes. I can do that. This is the sliding, ice skating kind of balance, the kind of balance that requires core strength. If you do not have core strength, you will quickly learn the second rule of skate-skiing, which is look cool — or get out of the way.

Rule #2 is particularly difficult when you’ve just performed a face-plant at the bottom of an embarrassingly short downhill hump, nay, a molehill. I managed this move during our private lesson. Our instructor kindly walked me through pulling the tips of my skinny skis out of the snow and handling my unwieldy poles, which were nearly as tall as me.

It is also hard to abide with Rule #2 when, at the end of the day, fatigued, ankles swelling defiantly against your ski boots, another instructor at the Frisco Nordic Center breezes up to help you (read: take pity on you) because:

“You’re kind of doing a Frankenstein lurching thing here. Try doing this.”

And glides away, poles nowhere to be found, with ease and grace.

So it is with some reluctance that I’m going with Jeremy to Devil’s Thumb Ranch tomorrow. Devil’s Thumb has miles of XC trails. Jeremy can skate to his heart’s content. I’m going to try shuffling along the grooves in classic XC skis again. My ankles will thank me, but I doubt I’ll look cool. There’s a high chance of lurching, even in classic skis, and the Lycra doesn’t fit quite as well as it did when I was 24. But this reminds me of the first rule of getting older:

Who cares?

Tantric sex quiz

This quiz on Beliefnet
is slightly less misguided than some of the flat-out gaffes I’ve seen about tantra in the popular media. But it’s another example of grabbing at the extremes of religion and eroticizing Eastern thought in a way that doesn’t really say anything about the core of Hinduism or Buddhism.

I don’t mean to single out Eastern philosophy with this example. The lifeblood of the nonfiction book business these days is examining the extremes of Christianity, Islam, and especially popular lately, atheism. Journalists like these otherworldly tales from the fringes, too; they take readers to a place most will never see. While these tales are fascinating and newsworthy, what does this do for our knowledge of how most people practice Christianity, Islam, or tantra at a time when we seem to be all to eager to see differences rather than similarities?

ReLentless ego

People like to talk about what they’re going to give up for Lent. Some give up a certain food. Or TV. Or the mall.

I’d like to give up my ego.

My ego is what lends heavy importance to all of these things. I wouldn’t be tempted to buy things like new shoes if I took my ego out of the equation. Let’s take a look:

I want to buy new shoes.

Who wants to buy new shoes? “I.” Now take the “I” out of that sentence.

Want to buy new shoes.

Who is this enigmatic person or thing who wants to buy new shoes? We don’t know. It’s a mystery. But surely this person or thing has an understanding of new shoes without dualism, without need for a subject for this sentence. This person or thing might have some answers to life’s questions. In fact, it feels like a question. Maybe that’s it:

Who wants to buy new shoes?

I do, I do!

See, that’s my problem. That “I” likes to jump in there, even though I know I don’t need new shoes, even though I defy grammar in plenty of other ways. That’s why we give up chocolate, or double mocha frappuchinos, or new shoes for 40 days. It’s tangible. It’s a deadline. It’s something “I” can do.


My editor at the Missourian would occasionally have an Post-It stuck somewhere in her office (somewhere could include her shirt) asking the timeless question:


That is, What Would Queen Latifah Do?

I happen to like Queen Latifah. I even watched that movie where she thinks she only has a few weeks to live. Of course, I was on a long flight back from Lithuania, and Mom asked me to watch it with her, and I can’t remember the name of it…

Anyway, when life throws you a curve ball, when you’re not sure where you’re going next or even where you are now, it’s not a bad idea to ask yourself, WWQLD?

One of my friends recently suggested that instead of looking for a job, I should just be a “lady of leisure.” She could really see me doing that, she said.

So of course I asked myself, WWQLD?

I don’t think she’d sit at home and eat bonbons. She’d be productive and creative. She’d do something good.

What would my friends do? The friend who suggested my leisurely lifestyle would become the next Arianna Huffington, more outraged and more glamorous. WWJAD? She would shoot controversial video for Arianna 2, possibly ending up on an Reporters Without Borders alert because she would stand trail for not revealing her sources. L would start a charity cycling tour in France to benefit homeless children.

WWJFD? Probably look for a job.

Bombshells, blonde and otherwise

One of my friends — I won’t name her here — confessed to watching waaaaay too much of the Anna Nicole coverage last week. A report from the Project for Excellence in Journalism shows just how easy it was to sit back and be a media consumer of the Anna Nicole circus and the diaper-wearing astronaut.

People like to complain about excessive celebrity coverage, especially on TV. I am one of those people; I am regularly disgusted by my morning news options. But maybe it’s a fantastical escape from our daily serving of war coverage. And maybe there are more closet celebrity stalkers out there than we think.