Archive for December 2011
Originally posted November 29, 2010
Bob: Welcome to 2010 Christmas dinner at the Johnson home, brought to you by Jack Daniel’s and Big Bob’s House of Psychotherapy and Amusement Park. I’m Bob Costas, and with me is Greg Gumble.
This year’s feast once again pits two classic rivals against each other. In one corner we have Beatrice Johnson, a veteran housewife of twenty-two years, defending her title as author of the finest roast turkey. She has fended off challenges from many quarters in recent months, and now comes the final showdown of the year. Opposing her is her mother-in-law, Louise Delmar, grandmother of six and title holder in several categories, including Passive-Aggressive Put-Downs and Backhanded Compliments. Greg?
Greg: As you said, Bob, the drama has been building in the extended Smith clan for quite some time. Just last month, when Beatrice and Jared officially sent the invitations to today’s event, Delmar and her husband of eight years, James Delmar, waited until the very last moment to confirm their attendance, in a bid to make Beatrice stew as long as possible. But Beatrice saw it coming, and deflected the move handily by getting the skinny on her in-laws’ attendance from another relative in whom Delmar confides. Delmar tried to retaliate by insinuating to Jared that Beatrice had made a grave error in the family’s choice of upcoming vacation venue – Busch Gardens – and questioning her ability to properly raise Delmar’s grandchildren. However, the Johnsons had already talked over that possibility before that phone conversation last week, so Delmar’s move had little impact. We’ll see today how the two competitors continue to maneuver and try to score points.
Bob: Right now the guests are arriving, and the meal is scheduled to start in about five minutes. The Johnsons decided against serving cocktails before the meal, mostly to deny Delmar an opportunity to belittle their selection and taste in beverages. But she just muttered a wry comment just above a whisper, as if only to her husband, but really so everyone around could hear, something to the effect that Beatrice must be ashamed of her drinks, so she refused to serve any.
Greg: The Johnsons probably expected that kind of thrust, but are willing to relinquish the early, relatively minor, score in order to avoid a more specific, damaging move by the opponent. It’s hard to tell from the replay, but I believe that when Beatrice took Delmar’s coat, she intentionally hung it in the closet in such a way that it will crease badly. The Johnsons are definitely pressing the advantage they have at home.
Bob: With the children running interference, Beatrice now takes the time to check on the Turkey. Delmar exploits the opening and distributes candy to the young ones.
Greg: A shrewd move on her part, Bob. She plays to her strength as the grandmother. In one swift motion, she both gets the kids on her side tactically, and lays the strategic groundwork for ruining their appetites. That keeps open the possibility that no matter how good Beatrice’s food might be, the kids will seem not to like it because they’ve gorged on sweets. Delmar can exploit that opening to get in some important digs on Beatrice’s cuisine and parenting all at once. Let’s see how this plays out.
Bob: Here come Beatrice and Jared together now, inviting everyone into the dining room. The Johnsons take position near the door to the kitchen, at the head and down the right side of the table, with the Delmars at the far end near the hallway toward the bathroom. Down the left side of the table are assorted other cousins of different ages. The dozen or so people jostle around to find their places, and in the midst of the commotion, Delmar loudly critiques the tableware and color scheme.
Greg: That’s the real opening salvo of the evening. Delmar picked an inviting target. She pretended to admire Beatrice’s taste while actually highlighting that the colors are much more suitable to spring than to winter.
Bob: What a defensive play! Beatrice retorts that the children chose and set out the décor especially with their grandmother in mind, and yes, isn’t it bright and attractive? What a great play!
Greg: It’s a move right out of Delmar’s own playbook, when she was a rookie Johnson herself, hosting the family dinner back in 1975. She must be gobsmacked to have her own move used on her so well.
Bob: OK, it looks like the family is going to say grace. We’ll break here for a word from our sponsors.
Singles networking powerhouse JDate introduced a major site overhaul this week to afford losers a less unpleasant online experience. Mark Stein, a spokesman for Sparks Networks, PLC, which owns JDate, announced the change at a press conference in New York on Monday. JDate currently boasts approximately 450,000 members.
Until now, losers were subject to the same standards as other network members, such as the posting of a personal photo and indicating various aspects of Jewish practice, if any. That left losers in the uncomfortable position of actually posting photos of themselves on their profiles. According to Stein, many losers wound up without accurate photos. “We found that a full quarter of losers carried the handicap of no usable photo, for any number of reasons; the most prominent among the factors were the shame regarding their appearance, the unavailability of photos that did not show the loser without some food all over their face and front, and the inability of most losers to handle the simple upload process.”
The new layout will allow a joining member to decline the photo upload option, whereupon a sophisticated algorithm will divine from the rest of the profile data whether the applicant is a loser. If the answer is no, the applicant will receive a polite e-mail recommending the upload as soon as possible to enhance the member’s chances of having their profile viewed in a favorable light. If the algorithm determines that the applicant is a loser, then the joining member’s interactions will be restricted to other similarly classified members, and no mention of the photo will occur again.
“This new format affords members the double benefit of automatically relegating losers to a separate area of the site, and let’s face it, everyone wants that,” continued Stein. “Non-losers will save time, being finally relieved of the need to sift through loser after loser, and losers will be relieved of the pressure inherent in having to interact with normal, healthy seekers.”
Additionally, before the change, losers were also expected to indicate their level of Jewish practice or affiliation. This proved a challenged to many of them, according to Stein, because losers tend not to be certain or aware enough to provide usable data. The new format forgoes this set of points entirely, with the rationale that losers will more readily accept companionship from anyone, as their social situation is far more desperate than that of non-losers.
Reaction to the change has been mixed. Recently divorced father of two Jake Schwartz, a new member, has found that the number of potential companions has dropped significantly since last week. “I had all these options before – it seemed that not only were there other fish in the sea, but that there were schools and schools of them. Now I could probably exhaust my standard-issue flirt messages within a few days.” He conceded that it is still too early to judge the new system.
Aspiring therapeutic touch practitioner Sandra Bierman disagrees. “The exact opposite happened to me. I didn’t have a photo with the right vibes – everything was in bad-omen colors – so I declined the photo option, look!” she gestured at her profile page, “forty thousand potential mates with the same sensibilities!”
Other dating sites are studying the results of JDate’s move with excitement. “We see JDate’s niche audience as a excellent medium for this kind of experiment,” said James Lowenstein of eHarmony, in an e-mail message. “We’re interested in how this turns out for JDate, because that kind of granular data is invaluable in the online dating business.”
Stein, the JDate spokesman, declined to provide data on the number or percentage of losers in the JDate membership, but this reporter declined to submit a photo and enjoys the virtual company of more than 400,000 other JDate users.