Friday, November 30, 2012

Political Roundtable: Brewer's Rejection of Health-Insurance Exchanges, McCain vs. Rice, TUSD School Closures & More!

Posted By on Fri, Nov 30, 2012 at 8:50 PM

Tonight on Arizona Public Media's Political Roundtable: Pima County Democratic Party chairman Jeff Rogers, National Republican Committeeman Bruce Ash, Tucson City Councilman Steve Kozachik and Democratic strategist Rodd McLeod examine Gov. Jan Brewer's decision to reject a state-run health-insurance exchange; the Democrats' successful sweep of competitive congressional districts; Sen. John McCain's campaign against U.S. Ambassador the United Nations Susan Rice; Sen. Jon Kyl's proposed DREAM Act alternative, the ACHIEVE Act; Gov. Jan Brewer's decision to prohibit DREAM Act kids from getting driver's licenses; the TUSD school closures; and the future of TUSD's Mexican-American Studies program. Just wish we'd had time to talk about how Congressman Raul Grijalva nearly crashed the stock market....

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Everything You Love Is Going Away: Bazooka Gum Is Rebranding, Disposing of Bazooka Joe

Posted By on Fri, Nov 30, 2012 at 5:58 PM

First Twinkies, now this? From the New York Times:

Now, in what the brand is calling a reimagined Bazooka, it has overhauled its logo and packaging.

Gone is the red, white and blue color scheme and geometric design of the brand, replaced with more saturated hues like fuchsia and yellow, and with the splattered-paint look of graffiti.


“What we’re trying to do with the relaunch is to make the brand relevant again to today’s kids,” said Anthony Trani, vice president of marketing at Bazooka Candy Brands, a division of the Topps Company.

Ken Carbone, a founder of the Carbone Smolan Agency, a Manhattan branding and design firm, reviewed the new Bazooka design, and said it “takes visual cues from comic books and skateboard culture and graffiti” and that it “feels right for today.”

If I told you that I was heavily emotionally invested in Bazooka gum, I'd be lying to you (I'm a Spearmint Trident man through and through, for one), but this seems like an effort at rebranding that's completely off the mark—one that even the branding firm the Times consulted for the story questions.

“I wonder if they couldn’t have taken more from what they had and re-energized it to make it look cool, like the Juicy Fruit model and Hershey’s model,” said Mr. Carbone, referring to the gum brand and chocolate bar that have tweaked their looks over the years but not metamorphosed. “I think this is a little bit of an overreach,” he said, “because they had some equity and authenticity” in their original design.

And the big news, of course, has to do with Bazooka Joe taking a reduced role.

Bazooka Joe and his sidekick, Mort, who wears his turtleneck up over his mouth, will appear only occasionally as illustrations in the new inserts, but without the antics and corny jokes of the three-panel strips.

Only 7 percent of children age 6 to 12 are aware of the Bazooka Joe character, according to E-Poll Market Research, a brand and celebrity research firm that last collected data about the character in 2007. In contrast , an average 30 percent of children are aware of food product mascots, the firm said. Among children who are aware of Bazooka Joe, 41 percent liked the character, below the average likability for food characters, which is 54 percent.

This doesn't have the emotional cache of Twinkies going by the wayside, sure. While all good things (and even mediocre things, such as a gum mascot) have to go eventually, this leaves me with one nagging question: who's next to go? Chester Cheetah, of Cheetos? The anthropomorphic M&Ms? Dig 'Em, the Sugar Smacks Frog?

If Bazooka Joe and Twinkie the Kid have gone, no one is safe, friends.

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If You Think James Lipton is Interesting at All, You'll Love "Inside Inside Inside"

Posted By on Fri, Nov 30, 2012 at 5:25 PM

This video, while just a promo for Lipton's "Inside Inside", his book detailing the inner workings of his interview show, "Inside the Actors Studio", and published in 2007, is a look inside the home of James Lipton, the show's host. The cool thing, to me, is that's a short look full of gems from Lipton's life—and furthermore, it's an excuse to listen to that silky smooth voice. Plus, hey, he invited us all to check out the next time he competes in a jousting tournament! What do you have to lose?

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Bad to the Bone: A Molar-Grinding Account of Being Uninsured in the Southwest and Undergoing Dental Surgery in Mexico

Posted By on Fri, Nov 30, 2012 at 2:25 PM

It began when Joshua Ellis could no longer spit.

The blockage in his saliva gland resulted in swelling, the pain forcing him—a freelance web designer and writer—to visit a place that 50 million Americans who lack insurance coverage know too well: the emergency room. Finally, after hours of waiting, waves of guilt washing over him as a rising tide of heart-attacked, bullet-riddled and generally worse-off souls gurneyed inside to meet their fates, he received an X-ray.

What it revealed would lead Ellis 700 miles away into the Mexican city of Juarez and into the inscrutable mystery of the preserved heart of a baby vampire. To put it to a point, his teeth were killing him—specifically his severely impacted wisdoms, which his skull had grown around. The teeth threatened to pierce his sinus cavity. Left unaddressed, they would likely break his jaw and possibly stab his brain.

In other words, Ellis’ new ebook, An American Vampire in Juarez: Getting My Teeth Pulled in Mexico’s Most Notorious Border Town (, $2.99), is hardly your average trip-to-see-the-dentist tale. It’s a sordid, noir-esque memoir of how the richest country in the world fails to take care of its own and offers a vivid, no-holds-barred snapshot of the border relationship between the U.S. and Mexico. (Disclosure: Ellis and I worked together at Las Vegas CityLife almost 10 years ago.)

In a civilized country like, say, oh, Canada, a death panel would convene to decide the best moment for Ellis’ grey matter to be lacerated by his own tusks and for his organs to be harvested to benefit Islamist militants needing donations. Kidding. In any other First World nation, Ellis would simply have made an appointment. In the U.S., he lacked coverage, couldn’t afford treatment, so he did nothing. Luckily he landed a gig with a military contractor and months later met with an HMO dentist in a Vegas clinic sandwiched between a Food 4 Less and a smoke shop.

Continue reading »

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'Cats That Look Like Pin-Up Girls': Proof There Is A Tumblr For Everything

Posted By on Fri, Nov 30, 2012 at 1:58 PM

Recently, Buzzfeed presented their list of the best Tumblr's of the year, including gems such as McKayla Is Not Impressed, Text From Dog, and the spectacular Texts From Hillary. But, for my money, the best non-Texts-From thing on their list is quite obviously Cats That Look Like Pin-Up Girls [NSFW, somewhat obviously] from Australia's Hurly Burly clothing store.

Since you may be at work, I don't recommend that you click on the Cats That Look Like Pin-Up Girls site. Therefore, here's a preview of the adorable things that are in store:


Nothing like juxtaposing adorable things with human sexuality, right?

If either kittens or pin-up girls are your cup of tea, give this a look. Just not from work (unless you've got a really cool boss, I guess).

[Cats That Look Like Pin-Up Girls]

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Zona 78 on River Road Is Getting a Remodel

Posted By on Fri, Nov 30, 2012 at 12:24 PM

The owner of Zona 78, the Italian eatery with locations at 78 W. River Road and 7301 E. Tanque Verde Road, says the River Road restaurant will undergo a remodel in January.

Owner Kevin Fink was scant on the details as far as what the remodel will entail, saying only that the River Road location will be closed for construction between Tuesday, Jan. 1 and Thursday, Jan. 10.

Fink also says he's expanding his meat-curing efforts at both locations, which should allow him to offer cured meats made in-house on a regular basis. He expects that to be happening by early January as well.

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HBO's Exercise in Millenial Navel-Gazing 'Girls' is Coming Back for a Second Season

Posted By on Fri, Nov 30, 2012 at 11:37 AM

I don't get the love for HBO's "Girls," though I probably should. It's produced by Judd Apatow; it's from the brain of 26-year-old triple-threat Lena Dunham; and there are pretty girls being hipster-y out in Brooklyn. Theoretically, I should be singing its praises, if only for the fact that I can imagine my own life playing out in a similar fashion, were I were to throw away the fact that I'm living comfortably and happily in the desert, and take a life in a fifth-floor walk-up somewhere in Bushwick where I'd pay twice as much for the same size space that I'm currently living in.

But I just don't like Dunham's show. The characters are unrepentantly self-involved, frequently make terrible decisions that are justified in the stupidest possible ways, and seem to "resolve" issues with some combination of sex, alcohol and/or partying, followed by an obnoxiously long, self-serving scene of dialogue where one character attempts to convince another that they are (or are not) a terrible human being. If I wanted to watch that, I'd go find YouTube video diaries—or at least hire someone to follow me around with a video camera.

Either way, here's the trailer for the new season.

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Michigan Teacher Suspended For Playing a Pro-Gay Rights Song in Front of Students

Posted By on Fri, Nov 30, 2012 at 10:37 AM

A South Lyon, Mich. music teacher was suspended last week for allowing a student in her class to play a rap song that promoted gay rights in her class.

Last Wednesday, Susan Johnson gave one of her students permission to play Macklemore and Ryan Lewis's "Same Love," a song supporting the expansion of gay rights.

The video in question.

Detroit's WJBK-TV has the story:

The song is called "Same Love" written in support of same sex marriage. Underground rapper Ben Maclemore tackles the dangers of hate and stereotypes by showing the struggle of a homosexual man from birth to death. As Johnson listened to the song, she said she thought to herself this was something her students could learn from.

"This is one of the things in my school that we're trying to practice and we're trying to instill in our students is tolerance to diversity," she explained.

However, another student in class didn't agree with the lyrics, went to the office and complained. Before the school day ended, Johnson claims the principal and assistant superintendent told her she was suspended indefinitely without pay.

Johnson was eventually told that she would be serving a three-day suspension—two days paid, one day without.

Continue reading »

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Staff Pick

World Flute Concert

World flute virtuosos Gary Stroutsos and Alcvin Ryuzen Ramos come together for an evening of meditative soundscapes… More

@ San Pedro Chapel Fri., Jan. 31, 7-9 p.m. 5230 E. Fort Lowell Road.

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