Trending Now on Yahoo 9:30 AM CST (February 10, 2011)

I will confess that after purging myself emotionally with the last post, and trying to prepare for the start of a permanent full-time writing and editing job (remember those?) that kicks off Monday morning, I am feeling a little short on creativity. But thank goodness I can always take advantage of the nation’s short attention span to mine material for pop cultural discussion. As my title suggests, I pulled this list from Yahoo a short while ago. When I woke up at 6:00 AM and turned on my computer, the navel gazing night shift was preoccupied with a whole different set of issues. If I want to stay relevant, I had better move quickly, so here goes:

1. Julia Hurley
I confess I did not even know who this woman was, but of course as she sits at #1 on the trend list, I figured it had something to do with sex, drugs or murder. Ding, ding, ding! Give Becky Sarwate a prize. Of course it the former scandal in play. Julia Hurley, a 28 year-old candidate for the 32nd Legislative District, according to an Examiner report, may or may not have been wearing pants in a photo taken back in 2005, when the would-be lawmaker was still a working model.

Clearly her constituents should take part in a real debate over whether an “artistic” picture snapped at 23 have anything at all to do with her fitness for office now (I would argue no). However, I suspect the reason Ms. Hurley sits atop the Yahoo search is because there’s a lot of pervy folks out there trying to locate the since removed pantless shots. They would like to assess her”credentials” for themselves.

2. Britney Spears
Ms. Spears is no stranger to trending high on search engine lists. She’s been doing her thing for well over a decade, a thing I confess I adore. Mercifully, after a serious 2007 case of personal and professional meltdown, Britney is back to getting the right kind of attention for her work. With a new album dropping at the end of March, a will-she-or-won’t debate over a possible Grammy performance and a smash radio single, “Hold It Against Me” on the airwaves, there are plenty of reasons everyone wants Brit.

3. Charlie Sheen
Sigh. Oh Charlie. What could possibly be left for us to know? We have been aware of you and your hard partying, hooker loving ways since the mid-80s. It’s as dependable as death and taxes. I will admit the smiling, toothless photo that circulated on TMZ before you went to rehab (smoke crack much?) was a surprise because I believed you to be vainer than that, but honestly after you have shot a girlfriend, held a knife to you third wife’s throat, and nearly burned down a hotel, nothing is novel anymore. Please go away and get healthy so that the rest of us who are not mystifyingly addicted to Two and a Half Men can love you again.

4. Jennifer Hudson
The extremely talented and resilient Ms. Hudson is garnering all sorts of media attention for her new Weight Watchers-induced sexiness, a pending album, and her participation in an all-star Grammy tribute to the legendary Aretha Franklin. There is talk in Hollywood that Jennifer may also play the Queen of Soul in a developing biopic. Make this happen! This woman has endured tremendous tragedy, but she is back with a new family, an inspirational attitude and a brilliant career. American Idol never knew what it had. 7th place? Bah!

5. iPhone
Wireless carriers Verizon and AT&T are finally going head to head to market and sell the mega-popular smartphone. Conflicting reports abound that Verizon service results in fewer dropped calls while Team AT&T purports to have the superior app functionality. You know what? I still don’t care and I never will. I just want to know if Steve Jobs is going to be ok. We need him – one of the last great rock star innovators of a generation.

6. Julia Roberts
The pretty woman and mother of three is bucking type to portray the “Evil Queen” in a version of Snow White that’s currently in production. Julia has played some morally ambiguous characters before, in movies like Closer, but this might be the first time she will let her unabashed villainess flag fly. Ms. Roberts has not produced a plethora of great movies in recent years (Eat, Pray, Yuck), so I am interested to see how this works out.

7. Elvis Presley Enterprises
The group is suing men in Florida, England, Wales, and elsewhere for infringement of intellectual property rights after the circulation of unauthorized box sets. Are you bored? Me too. Next!

8. Valentine flowers
With everything going on in my personal life, the advent of this Hallmark holiday nearly escaped me – nearly. I was about to write a legion of incredibly snarky comments but it seems American men and woman have taken to the Internet in the quest to find flowers for their loved ones. Only a real cynic could find fault with that part of the ritual.

9. Pepsi can
I am glad I held onto my snark, because I plan to make ample use of it here. The carbonated beverage company recently announced a redesigned Diet Pepsi “skinny can,” to pay ostensible tribute to “beautiful, confident women.” Ah yes – Pepsi gets us, don’t they ladies? The regular can of artificially sweetened syrup just does not allow a full expression of the self. However, skinny cans are only a short tangential walk away from the horror-inducing idea of skinny jeans; you know the ones that 98% percent of woman cannot fit into? I say if you want to pay tribute to yourself as the beautiful, confident woman you are, drink a glass of water instead – good for the skin, waistline, hydration and best of all, it will prohibit Pepsi from further lining their corporate pockets by trading in sexist bullshit.

10. Chipotle
And once you’ve finished that glass of water, celebrate your banging female curves by indulging in a giant Chipotle Burrito.

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A Crackberry Addict in Withdrawal (September 14, 2010)

office-sign-blackberry

Back in November of 2009, I made the jump from a “regular” cell phone, the kind that only allowed me to make and take phone calls, while painstakingly typing out text messages (arguably, this task was not even worth it). After much consideration and deliberation, I chose the Blackberry 8330 in red – to match the color of my hair, naturally. My sister Jen, part of an all-Apple-products-all-the-time family, urged me to go with the iPhone, but that just seemed too complicated to me. The Blackberry offered the necessary upgrades I sought in my communications life: easier texting, picture messaging and Internet surfing ability, without all the expensive apps tricks and hoo ha.

Those who know me best might identify this decision as the defining moment when my ability to interact with other humans in a normal fashion took a nosedive. Even I was taken aback by the ease and speed with which I became a full blown addict. My problem began innocently enough: a perusal of the New York Times or a review of celebrity gossip as I waited for trains or appointments. However it wasn’t long before I found myself waking up in the middle of the night after losing a battle with insomnia, then immediately reaching for my Blackberry. Hey! If I couldn’t sleep I might as well find out who had been in contact with me, or what I had missed in the world as I tossed and turned. Soon I found myself trained like Pavlov’s dog: at the first red flash, indicating the receipt of a BBM, SMS or any other type of acronym, I was physically unable to stop myself from attending to it. Friends, family and my husband half-jokingly lamented that I was no longer able to look them in the eye whilst having a conversation. I am a multi-tasker by nature but clearly my habit had introduced insidious consequences on my personal life.

Last Saturday, as I enjoyed a rainy 9/11 bike ride through the ‘hood, I gave little thought to my trusty Blackberry, riding shotgun safely in my canvas carry-all bag. It’s not as though I make calls and check emails while weaving through traffic. But I was comforted by her presence, ready to be unholstered at any moment. What if I witnessed a crime or fell off my bike? I needed to know I could update my FaceBook status, I mean call the authorities, immediately!

So remember that canvas bag I mentioned? Yeah it turns out that canvas is not water proof. Hell, I am a writer not a physicist. When I returned to my apartment to dry off, and I think you know what I am about to say next here……she was gone. The magic scrolling ball, deliverer of so much web enjoyment, was kaput.

Nearly frantic was I. It took every fiber of my being not to wake a sleeping Eddie with a Gladiator-style explosion of grief followed by scorched Earth. What was I to do with myself now?

I placed a frantic call to my wireless provider and ascertained that my Blackberry was still under warranty and could be replaced (Customer Service Rep: “You didn’t by chance get the device wet, did you? Because that would nullify the terms of the warranty.” Boop: “How dare you!”). The catch? They were unwilling to let me have one off the shelves (‘cause you know I asked). Instead I received the positively dreadful news that I would have to wait 7-10 business days before getting my fix again via UPS.

Though I imagined all sorts of horrors, the end of life as we know it, the inability to maintain a fledgling writing career with nothing more than a desktop PC, I had a surprising knee jerk reaction when the customer service agent offered me the use of a temporary loaner phone. Unequivocally, I answered in the negative. Apparently, even Boop has a line and knows where to draw it. There seemed to be something so desperate about accepting a second-hand, possibly germ infested device simply because I didn’t believe I had the self-possession to endure a week of analog communications.

Today is Day Four of my Blackberry-free sentence, and you know something? The timeout has done me a world of good. I feel more human again. I have stopped relegating the people I love to “conversation between text” status. Like all enjoyable addictions: booze, drugs, sex, I need to learn to have a healthy relationship with my wireless device before I can return to it.

My withdrawal period even provided me with extra time and mental bandwidth to develop a great business idea: a Blackberry Betty Ford clinic. Genius!