Pulchritude in the news

Sixteen months after announcing that it would eschew the nude, Playboy is bringing back naked women, aiming for titillation that’s neither “dated,” as chief creative officer Cooper Hefner, 25, described the photos printed by his Viagra-drooling dad Hugh, 90, nor tacky and explicit, as seen for free all over the Internet.

The magazine, whose circulation is about a tenth of its 1972 peak of 7 million, unveiled the March/April cover blurb and hashtag #NakedIsNormal, which presumably means lots of shots of models in the shower or at the doctor’s office, since #ClothedIsOtherwiseNormal. As part of the war on datedness, the Playboy’s Party Jokes and Playboy Philosophy columns from the ’60s are returning.

Meanwhile, heading in the opposite direction, Hooters is opening a restaurant with both male and female waitstaff and without orange short shorts and tight tops. The first Hoots, located in Cicero, Ill., says “A Hooters Joint” on the outside but will have, um, both hooters and joints on the inside, along with a slimmed-down menu and counter rather than tableside ordering.

If nothing else, the crew should welcome the move. I’ve dined at a Hooters just once, on what happened to be Halloween night in St. Louis, and I’ve never seen so many women take the opportunity to cover up with floor-length witch costumes and princess robes instead of their usual skimpy outfits.

Think clean thoughts

It occurs to me that if the Michelin Man worked out, he’d be the sexy Mr. Clean in tonight’s Super Bowl ad:

Naturally, Mr. C. is a candidate for this blog’s jingle of the day feature:

Mr. Clean cuts dirt and grime and grease, it takes him just a minute
And now it’s even better ’cause there’s Ultra Power in it
Mr. Clean, Mr. Clean, Mr. Clean!

Come to think of it, if the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man worked out, he’d be the Michelin Man. There’s enough white power in this post to satisfy Steve Bannon.

I yam what I yam

Red Meat moves into theology.

Also, speaking of this post’s title, Bark Bark Woof Woof‘s Mustang Bobby has a good take on evil vizier Kellyanne Conway’s instantly immortal phrase:

Fact: I’m a 64-year-old white guy with a mid-level government job who could stand to lose a few pounds.

Alternative fact: I’m a well-muscled billionaire who can fly.

Bobby refers to Conway’s “trying — and failing miserably — to be charming in a Fox News-like perky and yet devoid-of-reality sort of way,” but today’s attitude isn’t perky. It’s stern and paranoid, yet devoid of — nay, openly hostile to — reality, from the global gag rule that prohibits health care providers from even mentioning abortion to the clampdown on national parks tweeting about climate change. Been a vicious 48 hours, hasn’t it?

Here a dolt, there a dolt

His daughter had a cute single on the radio a year or two ago, but Pajiba reports that the otherwise worthless Rob Schneider — let’s face it, the man’s job is to look dumb and unfunny next to Adam Sandler — has volunteered to “explain Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to THE MAN WHO LITERALLY SAT NEXT TO HIM.” The site also has some of Raging Boor’s greatest hits from his illiterate and incomprehensible interview with the Times of London, which will make those of us who took the SAT sprint to the liquor cabinet, if only to bash our heads against it.

But Broadway stars in concert and Margot Robbie as Tonya Harding? Maybe there are reasons to live after all.

Not just ignorant, corrupt and ignorant

Another blog I want to quote all the time is First Draft, where Adrastos sums it up:

The change from Obama to Trump may be the wildest Presidential personality change the nation has experienced since the extroverted lightweight Warren Gamaliel Harding succeeded the austere intellectual Woodrow Wilson. Harding, however, was a nice man who knew he was in over his head. The next occupant of the Oval Office is an asshole who thinks he knows everything when, in fact, he knows nothing.

Adrastos also points to The Book Bond, which is an even better source of 007 cover art than the site I’d been using, Piz Gloria, although I’m still jealous of my ex-boss who had a book of rare Bond images such as Roger Moore standing back to back with the Michelin Man.

My theme song, part 1

My life changed one day in the ’80s at a family gathering at Mom and Dad’s in Sunapee, New Hampshire. My nieces Liddy and Sarah Mary were still in single digits then and had brought along their latest VHS tape, the 1983 production of The Care Bears in the Land Without Feelings. They watched it avidly, while I sat bored with the icky lessons about making friends and sharing your feelings. But suddenly I was as enraptured as they:

The Care Bears are such a bunch of smarmy charms you naturally root for the villain, and theirs blows away other cartoon bad guys like Gargamel and Murky Dismal (okay, Skeletor comes close). It’s no wonder I’d found my anthem. Everyone goes gaga for those meteorological puppets the Heat Miser and Snow Miser, but they can’t hold a c – c – candle to Professor Coldheart.

My theme song, part 2

The minute I heard the lyric —

I’m on the case, can’t be fooled
Any objection is overruled
Oh, I’m the Arbiter and I know best

— then the backup singers —

He’s impartial, don’t push him, he’s unimpressed

— I knew I’d found my theme song.

“Chess,” by ABBA songwriters Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus and legendary lyricist Tim Rice, is a musical with a (groan) checkered history, arguably more successful as a 1984 concept album than it’s ever been on stage. (“One Night in Bangkok” was a #3 hit single for Murray Head in 1985 and the 1986 London production ran for almost three years, but the ham-handedly revised Broadway show lasted only two months in 1988.)

I’m part of its small but diehard group of fans because it’s smart, with themes intricately appearing and reappearing in different songs; it’s cynical, with a more bitter than sweet view of life and relationships; and it rocks. Ladies and gentlemen, from one of the cult-favorite “Chess in Concert” productions, the Arbiter’s song:

(Yes, I know YouTube also has the music video by the original album Arbiter Bjorn Skifs, but it’s so, so ’80s. And don’t get me started on some of the recent mangled stagings; “Pity the Child” is the American’s song exclusively and having Florence sing any part of it is abominably wrong.)

But why is this only number two in my countdown of personal anthems? Well, my nieces outvote me two to one, so their pick will appear presently.

My theme song, part 3

Everyone has a favorite piece of music, but only some of us have theme songs. A theme song embodies your image and epitomizes who you are, like Calvin’s in a 1990 “Calvin and Hobbes” strip:

He’s Ca-a-alvin!
Amazing, great Ca-a-alvin!
Oh, he’s the one that you’d like to meet!
He’s the one who just can’t be beat!
He’s Ca-a-alvin! La da ta da daaaaa!

Or my fave superhero, Marvel’s Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, who makes her Issue #1 debut joyfully singing a song with a suspiciously familiar melody:

Squirrel Girl, Squirrel Girl!
She’s a human and also squirrel!
Can she climb up a tree?
Yes, she can, easily.
That’s why her name is Squirrel Girl!
At the top of trees
Is where she spends her time
Like a human squirrel
She enjoys fighting crime!

Etc. As her squirrel pal Tippy-Toe says, “Now if we could just get anyone else to sing that song, we’d be set.”

As for me, many people — especially the women in my life — stereotype or associate me with a well-known pop culture character. Modesty forbids me to make the comparison, which frankly is only the third most accurate musical portrayal of your correspondent. But if you insist (and don’t mind clicking the X to spike the annoying YouTube pop-up ad), I’ll give you this golden oldie from Goldentusk, who provides lyrics to Monty Norman’s famed instrumental:

Coming up: the runner-up and winning theme songs for someone seeking to summarize the Stakerson experience.

The game’s afoot

One (perhaps the only) good thing about 2017: Three more episodes of “Sherlock” start on PBS tonight. I didn’t think anything could top Jeremy Brett’s period pieces, but the present-day BBC production is the only TV show that’s literally brought me to the edge of my seat, that’s made me want to buy the early seasons on Blu-ray when I already own them on DVD (I don’t own any “Elementary” discs). If the phone rings tonight I’m not answering.