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a silent salute: The audience "claps" at Joke Night during Deaf Awareness week. Click Arts&Life for a link to story. / Photo by Leah Lopshire

Today's word on journalism

December 15, 2008

As part of my own personal "war on Christmas" (which a Utah state senator has offered legislation to outlaw), the WORD celebrates the season by going on hiatus until January. May all out days be merry and bright, and here’s to a safe, healthy and saner New Year. HoHoHo!

Empty Minds: "Of all the people expressing their mental vacuity, none has a better excuse for an empty head than the newspaperman: If he pauses to restock his brain, he invites onrushing deadlines to trample him flat. Broadcasting the contents of empty minds is what most of us do most of the time, and nobody more relentlessly than I."

--Russell Baker, Pulitzer-winning columnist

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Feedback and suggestions--printable and otherwise--always welcome. "There are no false opinions."

Chick flicks -- a guy's worst penance ever

By Seth Hawkins

November 10, 2008 | If it's true that hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, then I'm in big trouble.

You see, every now and then I make a mistake. I don't intend to, but being a man, I don't fully comprehend the more than 3 trillion ways to anger a woman. It's usually not the big things that get my wife going, it's the little things, like - heaven forbid - forgetting to put my socks in the dirty clothes bin. It's not like I caused the fall of man, though my friend's father has been accused of that by his wife.

Usually, I can patch things up by apologizing profusely and taking her out to eat. But when I've really blown it, I must resort to some tremendous act of penance.

When it comes to penance, there are a number of options a man can resort to. The most severe include cutting off limbs, or worse yet, buying diamonds - what a rip off. Others include washing dishes, making dinner, cleaning the toilet and watching the kids. For whatever reason - mostly because I already do those things - my wife isn't impressed by my repentance dinners. She demands more.

So, when I've really made a mess of things, I watch a chick flick with her.

Stop laughing, it's not funny. I would rather amputate my pinkies than watch a chick flick, and my wife knows it. That's why she delights in chick flicks. It's a two-hour form of torture. Horror movies have nothing on chick flicks because there is nothing more terrifying than listening to women in chick flicks whine and complain about how awful men are and how they wish life were more like that. And, of course, there's always the obligatory slap to your face when your wife finishes watching.

"You jerk, why can't you be like him?"

"Because I'm straight."

I think the reason I really hate chick flicks is they paint this absurd view of the world that women come to believe is attainable. The plots are all recycled and unoriginal. In fact, they're so predictable, that I will give you the anatomy of nearly every chick flick. If you're female and reading this, you may want to get a bowl of popcorn and a bucket of rocky road ice cream, because this will be as good as watching Dirty Dancing.

Every chick flick centers around a beautiful woman who is usually dating or engaged to some guy that she thinks is the greatest thing since Yaz. This woman is practically perfect in every way. The pristine example of purity, she's kind, happy, funny and usually stressed out about everything. Depending on the movie, her life is either absolutely perfect or in chaos. Either way, we see an extreme.

Enter her boyfriend or fiance. At first, he seems great. He's the absolute gentleman and constantly witty, yet there's something about him that doesn't add up. This is to make all the women viewers inherently distrust him. And they should, as we're about to discover.

About 20 minutes into the film, the protagonist catches her boyfriend or fiance cheating on her, or he'll just dump her - always for another woman. This is the important part of the film that unifies the female viewers and begins their hate fest. As they view this act of infidelity, they instantly jump into feminazi mode, especially if they're watching the film together.

"I sure hate that guy."

"Oh, me too. Why do guys suck so bad?"

"Oh my gosh, like, I know! Men are such pigs."

This goes on for a few minutes until they've gotten this initial bout out of their systems and can get back to watching the protagonist wallow in self pity and drink herself into a near stupor. The female viewers all feel bad for her, and any male viewers feel bad for themselves for having to watch this when a football game is probably on somewhere.

While the protagonist complains about how unfair life is and how she has such horrible luck with men - to encouraging nods from female viewers - the protagonist's quirky friend comes over to console her and gripe about men some more. The main requirement for this friend is she must be quirky and uglier than the protagonist. She usually has no dating experience to speak of, but is great for throwing in support like, "Honey, you know men are all liars and dirty scoundrels who only date women to cheat on them."

This makes the protagonist either smile, start crying, eat a half gallon of chocolate ice cream or go on a five-minute tirade about how she didn't even see it coming. Oh, and she gives up on men. Right...

Just when all seems lost -- mostly my sanity -- Prince Charming shows up in an awkward or chance encounter. Of course, since the protagonist has had her heart broken, she's an absolute monster to him, but because he's so wonderful, he sticks around and buoys her up. They part after a bunch of awkward scenes that would be much improved if the Joker would show up and snipe the protagonist.

Though the protagonist thinks her meeting with Prince Charming is just a fluke, she can't stop thinking about him and hangs around the phone all day, desperately waiting for him to call. And guess what? He calls. They date. They fight. She's a beast to him. He is always sweet. Life is wonderful and they get married and live happily ever after.

Cute, huh?

After the film is over, I get hit again and my wife says, "Why can't you be more like him?"

I thought we already went over that. But, at least I'm out of the dog house, until I blow it again, which will probably happen when my wife reads this. Love ya, honey.

OK, I'll put in Pride and Prejudice.



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