Smoking Trees in Belize: January 2010

Monday, January 4, 2010

All Quiet on the Mistress Front

Now that most of Tiger’s secrets have been spilled it’s time to analyze the alleged suspects in their proper framework. Tiger’s entire career has been about chasing one number, 18. Jack Nicklaus holds the all time record for the number of major championships at 18. From an early age Tiger considered bettering this number his life’s purpose and set about working at that goal with single-minded focus. During December as news of the affairs spread, the entire world began talking about a different number. How many woman are there? After a month of tabloid madness, the most conservative estimate thus far is 10. The question now becomes, will the number of mistresses surpass Tiger’s current major championship total? Also why does the time-line of girls appear to mimic Tiger’s golf career?


The post-Thanksgiving Tiger Woods internet bomb was started by the uncovering of Rachel Uchitel. Just like Tiger’s first major, the 1997 Masters, it was an event of epic historical proportions. The 1997 Master’s victory by Tiger was groundbreaking, he was 22 years old, he was the first non-white to win, he posted a tournament record score and won by 12 strokes. The PGA Tour has not been the same since. Tiger has dominated the game professionally and commercially unlike any athlete since Michael Jordan. The discovery of Rachel Uchitel was earth shattering news of equal proportions. Tiger Woods was a public figure who was viewed differently than other athletes. To begin, he was a golfer, a sport which carried itself apart from other pro leagues. He represented positive social change, competitiveness, he was a family man. Uchitel will never be forgotten by the public for being the first, neither will the 1997 Masters.


Once Rachel Uchitel’s name came out, the whispers of other names is hard to keep up with. One of the early names to come out was Jamie Grubbs. She is memorable because it was the first undeniable proof of Tiger’s indiscretions. The now immortal, yet sadly pathetic voicemail plea by Tiger was another shocking revelation in the biggest story of the moment. Grubb’s place and impact on the timeline of mistresses makes her eerily similar to the 2000 U.S. Open. After winning the PGA Championship in 1999 and notching his 2nd major, Tiger went into the 2000 U.S. Open with loads of hype, hope, and potential, but not yet the sure thing everyone wanted him to be. Playing at historic Pebble Beach, Woods blasted the field to win by 15 strokes, finish 12 under, tied the lowest modern U.S. Open score, and served notice to the rest of the sports world that not only was he for real, he was unstoppable. The Grubbs revelation was the proof needed to take the story into the media stratosphere, and like the 2000 Open, it foretold of impending conquests.


Once the cat was out of the bag, the hourly updates that more and more mistresses were coming forward was interesting news, but hardly unexpected. After the 2000 U.S. Open, Tiger went on a major championship tear winning the 2000 British Open, 2000 PGA, 2001 Masters, 2002 Masters, 2002 U.S. Open, 2005 Masters, and the 2005 British. Much like the news of Kalika Moquin, Jamie Jungers, Mindy Lawton, Julie Postle, Cori Rist, and Theresa Rogers as the latest mistresses, it was fascinating, but no longer shocking. Sure a few things stood out, Theresa Rogers stands out for her age, much like The Old Course at St. Andrews, host of Tiger’s 2005 British Open victory.


Tiger’s miraculous chip in on 16 at the 2005 Masters stood out for indelible image of the ball slowly finding the hole. The shot seemed impossible and furthered cemented Tiger’s as different than all other golfers. The disclosure of Mindy Lawton, an Orlando waitress at Tiger’s favorite Perkin’s Restaraunt had the same indelible impact as the chip-in. Her face flashed across the websites and news channels stood out amongst the previously seen starlets. Mindy Lawton meant that the intrigued viewer could no longer rule anything out. Tiger Woods in contention in a major is must-see-TV, turning off the tube might mean missing a moment like the Masters chip-in. With homely waitress in the mix, one cannot resist the urge to watch.


After the 2005 Masters, Tiger added to his major championship count with a pair of British Opens and PGA Championships before the 2008 U.S. Open. After an epic sudden death victory over Rocco Mediate, Tiger claimed his 14th major championship. The ’08 Open stands out because of the obvious pain Tiger played through, it reminded one of Jordan’s flu game over the Jazz. Tiger endured 4 days of 18 holes, an 18 hole playoff, and a sudden death hole to stun the sports world with its grittiness and desire. The news that one of Tiger’s paramours was a current porn actress took the mistress story into historic proportions, much like Tiger’s golf career. Joslyn James, pictured above next to Tiger after his playoff forcing putt in the ’08 Open, is the last of the memorable mistresses. Once the realm of porn was breached, nothing was out of reach. Getting on Perkin’s waitresses means you’re horny, porn stars means you’re a freak. The news that former Playmate model Loredana Jolie, and former porno star Holly Sampson, were also linked to Tiger brings the conservative mistress count to 10. The number now threatens supremacy over Tiger’s 14 major championships. The real question is not whether the mistress count will surpass Tiger’s majors, but why does the mistress time-line reflect the man’s career? The story is quiet now but will regain life once divorce proceedings begin. Certainly there are more women out there who choose to remain silent, but even if the toll stands at 10, Tigermania will never mean what it once did.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Facebook: The Fidelity Minefield

Facebook is fast becoming relationship russian roulette for many people both young and old. The popular social networking site is a fidelity minefield those who are married or in serious relationships. The dangers are everywhere. For the 18 to 35 year old group, Facebook is often used for social preening and “hey look at me!” Due to both men and women posting their best pictures, editing their life into something intriguing and wonderful, people are usually at their attractive peak on Facebook. Exes, old hook-ups, classmates and co-workers are an enticing lure the unavailable man or woman must avoid. The anonymous lurking means that one can feed their desires in private until digital stalking no longer satisfies. Then action is often taken and the problems begin. With a simple private message people can meet and thanks to the same engine that aided their tryst, more and more are getting caught.

Digital footprints can last forever and people are surprisingly sloppy with their evidence trail. Suspicious spouses can often log in and catch their partner writing flirty or down right dirty emails to others through Facebook. With divorce rates leveling off lately, the Facebook spike might be a social phenomena in 2010. This is the third social networking site byproduct STiB has investigated and it is easily the worst. The MySpace Pout is annoying, yet tolerable, and the proliferation of self-pics is a blessing.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

The Staying Power of Mr. T

Perhaps no one has done more with less in pop culture history than Mr. T. Born as Laurence Tureaud in Chicago, the rise to an international icon can be credited to creativity and persistence. Laurence was bouncer who decided to create his own tough guy persona complete with pounds of gold chains and a mohawk. In 1980 he entered a toughest bouncer competition and was spotted by Sylvester Stallone. From there he got the role as Clubber Lang in Rocky III and came up with the catchphrase that would stick for decades.

The Rockey role gave Mr. T the exposure needed to land a spot on The A-Team. Playing B.A. Baracus for five seasons on the hugely popular show made Mr. T a household star. With little more than a mohawk, gruff attitude, and loads of jewelry Mr. T has remained a celebrity pitchman over 20 years after the end of The A-Team. Never considered a thespian, Mr. T.’s successful career stems from his willingness to sell anything, as long as he plays himself. Over the last 3 years Mr. T has reappeared again with vengeance.

Declaring himself a “Night Elf Mohawk,” Mr. T reaches a huge audience in World of Warcraft. With over 10 million monthly subscribers, WoW is the leader in online multiplayer gaming. He is a man of many hats; WWF wrestler, Bad Attitude Baracus, cartoon, action figure, gamer, but Mr. T doesn’t change. The persistence of the shtick is amazing, it got him spotted in 1980, a catchphrase made him a star, and now the look itself is iconic.

Too Fat to Fly on One Seat

This is what an aisle should look like from the rear of a commercial airliner. In the event of an emergency landing, like Captain Sulley’s famous Hudson River landing, the aisle is clear for exiting. The flight attendants pace endlessly to insure no bags are obstructing the path. However when an obscenely obese person boards the flight, all those precautions can go out the window.

As this Mark Mangino clone demonstrates, an obese passenger creates a hazard for all on board. Attendants can’t get by on foot, forget bringing the food cart down the aisle. The unlucky fellow beside him is in hell and in the event of an emergency no one has a chance. Forcing the passenger to pay double is the obvious option, but implementing it is a nightmare. Legal and logistical obstacles abound. How fat is too fat? How do you enforce the weight limit? Most people check in online or via kiosks, therefore airline employees don’t often see the passenger until boarding. Can the purchase of the tickets be conditional on verification of proper size? The solution is elusive but the problem is real; unless the super fat decide to buck up and buy two tickets the airlines need to address this danger.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Typecast Geek

In the 1990’s all the family sitcoms on network T.V. had a stereotypical geek. With over the top goofiness and awkwardness, these characters were the punchline more often than not. However for some it can be both a professional and personal nightmare. Those with ambitions beyond a sitcom can be typecast, others can be bothered by the persona they play reflecting upon themselves. When one thinks of famous sitcom nerds of the 1990’s four names come to mind immediately, Carlton Banks, Danny Tanner, Screech Powers, and Steve Urkel. Looking at four of the most famous nerds in 1990’s sitcom history, each has handled their nerd fame in different ways.

For over 200 episodes of Family Matters, Jaleel White played the over the top geek Steve Urkel. Obsessed with Laura Winslow, Urkel’s nerdom was punctuated with his catchphrase, “Did I do that?” The Urkel character was prone to spastic meltdowns, high riding pants with white socks, and drawing the ire of patriarch Carl Winslow.

Post-Family Matters, basketball fan Jaleel White has found success as the voice of Sonic the Hedgehog and writing. White seems to have found the respectable path for former typecast geek stars. He appears to appreciate the past professional success, and continue to find work without exploiting his former self. However the NBA blogging is no more.

Alfonso Ribeiro played Carlton Banks, who was Will Smith’s dorky cousin on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air for six seasons. Uptight, spoiled and fastidious, Carlton was everything Will Smith was not. His nerd persona was cemented by his gyrating dance moves and preppy attire.

In his post-Prince career, Ribeiro has found plenty of supporting work to remain professionally content, but personally he appears to be intent on dispelling the nerd persona of Carlton Banks. The picture above shows Ribeiro out on the town with Ashlynn Brooke. Who is she? Just a porn star who was 5 years old when Fresh Prince first aired.

Obviously familiar with the adult movie star world, in the above pic Ribeiro poses with Jenny Hendrix. Judging from the company he keeps, the former icon of nerdiness seems intent on dispelling any ideas that Mr. Ribeiro has anything in common with Mr. Banks. More recently Alfonso has been seen with different WWE stars. Using your nerd fame to show porn stars you can party is perhaps the best career move one could make.

Dustin Diamond played the strange, uber-geek Screech Powers in Saved by the Bell for 5 seasons. Screech was the the sidekick of Zach Morris and was madly in love with Lisa Turtle. Constantly rejected by Lisa and used by Zack, Screech was the loser that defined a middle school nerd. Diamond’s post-Bell career has been shaky with reality show appearances and stand-up comdedy, each with limited success. The biggest event in his career was the release of a sex tape in 2006.

Since the sex tape Dustin’s personal and professional life have all taken a hit. Despite the sex tape being an admitted career boosting attempt, the short lived infamy has only hurt the former Saturday morning star. He is one of the rare celebrities to lose a domain dispute lawsuit, apparently the owner of successfully represented himself in arbitration. In 2009 Diamond came out with a book, Behind the Bell, which promised to deliver the goods on the Saved by the Bell stars, but according to many Amazon reviewers, it was awful. The book put him on the outs with his former castmates, a critical mistake concerning the money he is missing out from reunion gigs. Of all the type cast geeks of the 1990’s, Dustin Diamond has apparently suffered the most professionally and personally. The sex tape only proves what was already known, even D-level fame can get one laid porno style.

Bob Saget has been the most successful professionally of the 1990’s typecast super nerds. Bob Saget played the OCD nerdy dad, Danny Tanner on Full House for eight seasons. With Jessie and Joey, the three men raise three girls in the goofiest, sappiest sitcom to ever air. While Full House was running, Saget also began hosting America’s Funniest Home Videos, presenting with an affable and Ned Flanders-ish manner that mimicked his sitcom persona.

Since his run as Danny Tanner, Saget has successfully flipped his geeky image into that of a saucy comedian. Known for a raunchy and hilarious stand up routine, Saget has had cameos that defy the Danny Tanner stereotype to the audience’s delight. In Half Baked, Saget drops an immortal line captured in the video clip below.

More recently Saget has appeared on HBO’s Entourage as himself, a bong ripping, escort service frequent flyer. Saget’s success is in finding ways to make humor out of his Danny Tanner typecast. With an aggressive flair, Saget has found his niche again.

Happy New Year