Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Levi Johnston Accused of Co-opting Storyline from Desperate Housewives

Levi Johnston, almost son-in-law of almost Vice President Sarah Palin, may have embellished part of his Vanity Fair interview, which is due out in news stands later this week.

In the interview, Johnston claimed that Palin had wanted to adopt his son, Tripp, in order to keep Bristol Palin's pregnancy a secret.

"Sarah told me she had a great idea: we would keep it a secret — nobody would know that Bristol was pregnant. She told me that once Bristol had the baby she and Todd would adopt him. That way, she said, Bristol and I didn’t have to worry about anything," Johnston said, in an excerpt posted on "I think Sarah wanted to make Bristol look good, and she didn’t want people to know that her 17-year-old daughter was going to have a kid."

In fact, said a mutual friend of Bristol and Levi who asked to remain anonymous, Johnston made up the adoption story after getting the idea from watching Desperate Housewives. In season four of the wildly popular series, Bree Van de Kamp, played by Marcia Cross, fakes a pregnancy in order to pass off her daughter's out-of-wedlock child as her own. Van de Kamp's character is a conservative, NRA card holding Republican, like former Gov. Palin.

When confronted with the anonymous allegations, Johnston angrily denied them. He also added, "Not that it matters, but Marcia Cross is a hot babe, and I would never equate her with Sarah."

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Man Upgrades Cell Phone Plan, Incessantly Calls Friends

SHIRLINGTON, VA -- After years of mockery from his friends and family, Jerry Huston, 31, recently upgraded his cell phone plan so he gets free calls within the Verizon network.

His friends who once ridiculed him for speaking tersely and hanging up abruptly so that their phone conversations would not exceed the minute mark are now paying the price for their mocking. Huston, who previously had the 300 minute plan, decided after getting a promotion to upgrade to the 450 minutes per month plan for an additional $5.

In addition to the extra 150 daytime minutes per month, Huston can talk for an unlimited amount of time with other Verizon customers. The result, say his friends, is a whole new Jerry.

"We used to just e-mail during the day since his boss sits nearby so he didn't want to do lots of personal calls from his land line," said Huston's girlfriend, Maisy Hollows. "Now during his coffee break he'll check in to see how I'm doing and then again at lunch. Then around 4 or so he'll call to discuss we're having for dinner. Frankly, I wish he'd consolidate it a bit."

One of Huston's friends who asked not to be named said that he was weirded out by the almost daily calls. "It used to be that I'd call and either Jerry wouldn't answer then call back a minute later from another number -- a land line, I guess -- or he'd sound very strained, like he couldn't wait to get away. Now he's a totally new person on the phone and won't stop chatting."

The friend said he was contemplating telling Huston that Verizon's reception in his new office building was bad so he had switched to Sprint or AT&T in the hopes that Huston would reduce his constant calls.

Huston is also contemplating buying a texting plan that will let him have up to 250 messages a month for $5. At the moment, he pays $.20 for each text that he receives or sends. His close friends know not to text him unless it is absolutely necessary, but Huston said that the newfound freedom he feels from his unlimited Verizon-to-Verizon plan is making him reconsider his opposition to texting.

"Last year my friend texted me 'Merry Christmas' and I was pissed off because I knew it was costing me and he could have just said that over e-mail," Huston said, via an in-network cell phone interview Monday afternoon. "But on further reflection it was a nice sentiment and it would be nice to wish everyone a Happy New Year."

Sunday, August 30, 2009

U.S. Collection of Tchotchkes Enough to Clutter World's Homes

A new study by a consumerism expert found that the U.S. populace has enough tchotchkes stowed in their houses, garages, apartments, condos, Public Storage Units, vacation homes and trailers to clutter up the houses, shanties, igloos, wigwams, longhouses, and gutters of the world's 6.7 billion inhabitants.

"It's a question of distribution," said Jamie Hao, consumerism expert. "Just as there is enough agricultural output in the world to feed everyone, yet millions still go hungry, so there are enough ships in glass bottles, stuffed animals, Russian dolls and decorative spoons to give at least each person in the world five tchochkes of their very own if Americans would just share. And that's a conservative estimate."

One reason for the high per capita tchotchke level in the United States is Americans' penchant for giving awards. Billions of plaques, crystal paperweights, medallions and door stoppers are bestowed annually to "employees of the month" and for graduations, retirements and other events.

Summer camps are another tchotchke-producing treasure trove. Hao said that her children returned from camp laden with lanyards, dream catchers, and wooden whistles they'd whittled that didn't actually make any sound.

"Americans are also very sentimental," Hao said. Even though they may stow away the paper mâché mask that their kid made in third grade and not look at it more than once a decade, that doesn't mean that it doesn't give them some sense of satisfaction when they do look at it."

Hao estimated that at least half the tchotchkes are ones that people hang onto out of family sentiment or guilt -- like the gold frosted pine cones in a glass bowl that Perry Ramstad inherited from his grandmother that were from the trees in her backyard. Ramstad admits that the pine cones themselves are unremarkable and in poor shape, with many scales missing and an amateurish paint job. Nonetheless, even though he says he's spent at least $100 shipping them around the country for various moves, he can't bear to rid himself of them "since no one else would appreciate them the way I do."

In fact, Ramstad's statement perhaps speaks to a large truth. Just because they United States could provide tchotchkes for the entire world doesn't mean that the rest of the world actually wants them.

A qualitative poll of Palestinian refugees, Cambodian farmers and Sudanese emigres found that tchotchkes ranked last on a list of priorities that they would like the United States to provide after peace, prevention of genocide, a homeland, running water, electricity, sufficient food and iPhones.