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(typed after watching American Idol's Salt Lake City regional audition episode, and still hurting from the passage of Proposition 8)

My American Idol Obamicons

If you want to create your own Obamicon, visit

Dear Friends,

I currently attend City College of San Francisco. As you know, the life of a college student is often contingent on how much money he or she has. I am practically dependent on financial aid and whatever money that I can get from my parents. Since I returned to CCSF in 2007 and began going on financial aid, I have barely functioned without it. Not only do I use my money to pay for school, but it goes towards various twentysomething necessities, from my cell phone to my laptop.

I am a full-time student. School is, for now, my life. I have sought work and will continue to seek work, but I am strongly committed to my education. My goal is to get a BA and/or a MFA in creative writing. I have already been accepted for fall 2009 at San Francisco State University, which has one of the country's best programs.

This past week, I found out that my financial aid check has been withheld because I have gone over the maximum units, which in this case, is 90. These include the units that I took en route to getting my AA at CCSF in 2004, even though I was not on financial aid at that time. The only way that I can get that check is by appealing my disqualification. When I heard this, I was so ashamed and embarrassed. I didn't even tell my family. I'm actually scared of telling them. When I first went to CCSF, I was taking 12 units a semester. Full-time status is 9 units or better at CCSF, but I had to get 12 to continue getting health insurance from my mother's workplace. Had I realized it then, I probably would not have taken so many courses. But I didn't know that at the time. I was trying to feel my way through that new chapter of my life. I didn't know what the hell I was doing.

Making matters worse is that, as of this date, I have an overdraft of $600 in my checking account. Most of that comes from overdraft fees, and I haven't really used my card since before Christmas. Each semester, I get over $2000 in grants and loans. When you think about it, it's not really much. Admittedly, I've never been good at managing my money. I don't blow my financial aid on frivolous and expensive crap, but I know that I can do better. I'm considering cancelling my health insurance and cell phone as a result. I pay over $90 total a month for health insurance and over $50 a month for my cell phone (which I only have for the sake of having a cell phone), and with rates going up, I can't take it anymore.

I have come to the realization that financial aid is not going to be enough. There are days when I can't pay for essential school supplies. There are days when looking at prices makes me cry. I feel guilty often asking my parents, my older brother, or other relatives for $20 just to get through the week. I'm probably feeling guilty right now asking you guys for help, because I know that there are people who have it worse off. My financial aid check is not gone forever, as I can get it back. But at this moment in time, I don't know what else to do.

I am asking for one-time contributions of at least $5. I know that people are having trouble making ends meet, but $5 is not that much. If you can contribute more, then by all means, do so. I'm using the rich networks that I've built up on Facebook and MySpace (as well as this blog) to solicit contributions. All told, I have over 200 distinct friends on all the social networking sites that I am a member of. 200 people * $5 = $1000. I don't expect to get that much, but who knows? I heard of one guy my age who sold ad space on his website for $1 per pixel (or something), and he made over a million dollars. Perhaps that's a false analogy, but that will suffice at this hour.

My PayPal account name is my e-mail:
You don't need to be a PayPal member to contribute. Just go to and click on the "send money" tab and then input my e-mail and whatever contribution you wish. The money collected will be transferred to my bank account. This is not a shakedown operation, this is not a scam, and your contributions will not go to waste. I have a GPA in the 3.0 range and am as model a student as you can find without becoming a "Model Minority". If you know someone who would like to contribute, please contact them.

If you do contact me, don't tell me that it's a stupid idea. Don't tell me to get a job like everyone else. Don't tell me to be prostituted. Just give me as much support as you can, be it emotional or financial or both. This will probably be the riskiest thing that I have ever done, but as they say, the greatest risk is not taking one. Okay, it's a cliche, but it's apt.

Thanks for your time and support. Rest assured that if the time comes that you're in a situation like this, I will give as much as I can to help you through it.

Alexander Sarmiento

Miss America, that once-beloved institution, is back this month. Last year, the pageant received a massive makeover (or make-under) to make it more current and relevant, without losing the classic touches of Miss America. It seemed to be going in the right direction... until Michigan's Kirsten Haglund was the winner. We saw virtually nothing of her in the lead-up to the finals, a show called "Miss America: Reality Check", and on the night of the finals, she basically threw everything that she had learned on MARC out of the window. Everything about her would have worked 25 or 30 years ago, but not in 2008. And yet, she became Miss America.

With 52 young women vying to succeed Ms. Haglund this time around, I'm planning on following the pageant again. If you ask me, what Miss America needs to do is shake up EVERYTHING at the local, regional, and state levels. The organizers at those levels still believe that the ideal Miss America is a pure, virginal, bland, blonde/brunette whore who will not rock the boat. Miss America need not be a model of virtue and chastity, but she shouldn't be a Stupid Spoiled Whore either.

One of the hallmarks of any pageant is the Q&A segment, or interview segment. This is the true litmus test of any beauty pageant. It's not enough to have a pretty face or a killer catwalk. You need to show that underneath the makeup and sequins, there is a real person. You are competing for a job that requires you to speak and to interact with people. Unfortunately, the interview segment has provided us with some of pageant history's most dubious achievements, the most legendary being Lauren Caitlin Upton's historic blunder at the Miss Teen USA finals in 2007. Ah, those were the days.

I've compiled a list of questions that should be asked in the interview segment. These range from topical ones to, well, really interesting ones, to say the least.
  1. Are white people evil?
  2. What have you lost in preparing for this pageant, that you would like to have back?
  3. What is the one thing that you hate the most about your country?
  4. Recently, a transgendered male made headlines when he became pregnant and delivered a baby to term. What do you make of this?
  5. Is there life after death?
  6. How would you react if you found out that a family member or a friend was gay?
  7. Can a woman not be a virgin and still be virtuous?
  8. In recent years, some women have reclaimed the word "bitch" as a positive attribute. Do you consider yourself a bitch?
  9. Some pageants are placing little emphasis on interview skills and personality these days, and more emphasis on physical beauty and marketability. Is this wrong?
  10. Does size matter?

Some PBS stations currently run a BBC mini-sitcom called "Posh Nosh", which originally aired five years ago on the BBC. It's a send-up of cooking shows. The presenters are Simon and Minty Marchmont (played respectively by Richard E. Grant and Arabella Weir), a snobby husband-and-wife pair of restaurateurs (their restaurant is called "The Quill and Tassle") . Each episode, which runs about 15 minutes long, shows Minty and Simon tackling a recipe, from paella to a revamped form of fish and chips. Richard is a closeted homosexual, and Minty uses verbs like "disappoint" or "annihilate" in place of standard culinary verbs like "drain" or "fold". They only select the finest (re: most expensive and most elitist) ingredients, and look down on people of lower stations in the culinary world, even their own viewers. In one instance, Minty advertises a Quill and Tassle cookbook, which she says is available in paperback "(for those) who are not serious".

The show is quite funny and a perfect send-up of culinary shows, which can border on the self-congratulatory and snobbish. Which leads me to the grande dame of snobby cooking shows, Bravo's hit series "Top Chef", currently in its fifth series. I've watched the show for most of its run, and while it does make for good television, I hate watching the show so much. Here are some reasons why:
  1. The chefs are, for the most part, devoid of any redeeming personality. They come across as sneering, elitist assholes with no depth. It seems that their whole lives are devoted to cooking, to the point that they know nothing else. There is a fine line between dedication and outright snobbery.
  2. The judges are just as snobby, with the exception of presenter/co-judge Padma Lakshmi and former Queer Eye Ted Allen. Everyone else has a huge rod up their ass where food is concerned. If the ingredients aren't exotic or prepared in fancy-shmancy ways, it's not on. They have unreachable standards of cooking.
  3. The prizes are rather whack. In fact, there is no real goal here. On American Idol, contestants compete for a recording contract. America's Next Top Model has a modeling contract and a Cover Girl contract for the winner. Survivor and the Amazing Race have $1,000,000 as the prize. To be fair, Project Runway doesn't have a concrete goal, but it is suggested that the $100,000 as part of the prize package (which includes a car as well among others) will help the designer who does win, launch their line or re-launch their line, as both relative amateurs and seasoned professionals have won PR (which is designed to search for the next great fashion designer). On Top Chef, on the other hand, the goal is rather fuzzy. What the hell can a spread in Food & Wine Magazine and a stint at a food and wine festival bring? Another culinary reality show, The Next Food Network Star, has a series contract for the winner. What exactly have Harold Dieterle, Ilan Hall, Hung Huynh, and Stephanie Izard gained from winning Top Chef that could give the show some legitimacy? It seems that one of the flaws of Top Chef is that the show is not looking for the next great chef. 
I'm still going to watch the rest of Top Chef, but unless things change majorly, I won't be a fan.


White People of 2008: My Hate List

01) Sarah Palin

I never heard of this Alaskan bitch until late August, when John McCain announced that she was his running mate for the Presidency. She is the Victoria Beckham of politics: no talent, no personality, no ethics. I was sick of her from the very beginning. I am still sick of her, and she's not even the Vice President-elect.

02) John McCain

THIS was the best guy for the Republicunt ticket, let alone the Presidency? He may call himself the "Maverick", but let's face it: had he won, it would have led to an extension of the Dubya dynasty. He agreed with Dubya 90% of the time, including war issues. 10% disagreement does not equal a "maverick".

03) Michael Phelps

This is why I hate Michael Phelps:
  • His 14 Olympic gold medals are not the result of years of hard work and dedication to his craft. They are the result of a calculated plan by the United States of America, its cultural dominance under threat, to get as many gold medals as it can in the Olympics to prove that it's stil No. 1. Oh, the US has been doing it since the modern Olympics began, but from 2000 onwards, I've found that every Olympics (winter and summer) has to have an American athlete be pimped to win multiple gold medals: Marion Jones in 2000, Apolo Anton Ohno in 2002, Michael Phelps in 2004 and 2008, and Chad Hedrick and Bode Miller in 2006. The media is so relentless that I find myself rooting AGAINST the US team come Olympic time.
  • He is not the greatest athlete of our time. A talented swimmer he is, but swimming is one of those sports where you can get a gold medal in multiple events. Plus, swimming is not as widespread as other sports. While people have access to a soccer ball and running is a sport that everyone can do and understan, not everyone has access to a pool, and not even Michael Phelps' success will change that. And the competition in swimming is rather shallow. Who dominates swimming competitions? The US and Australia. No other countries come close.
  • He comes across as a stupid douchebag. He's a good-old white boy from Baltimore. He is a shining example of white male privilege.
  • He has the personality of wallpaper paste. Watch him on Saturday Night Live and you'll find out why.
  • He can eat all that shit and still never get fat.
  • Oh, and he's not that cute.
04) Paris Hilton

This is why I hate Paris Hilton:
  • She's a privileged white bitch from a privileged white family. She's never had to properly work a day in her life. Even by socialite standards, she's privileged.
  • She has no talent, no personality, no star quality, and no gravitas. She's gotten to where she is based on the fact that America loves blonde, pretty, white bitches with no talent.
05) Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus

This is why I hate Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus:
  • I don't know where Hannah Montana begins and Miley Cyrus ends, and vice versa.
  • She wasn't even born with the name Miley. Her real name is Destiny Hope Cyrus. "Miley" isn't even a real word.
  • I hate the TWEEN revolution and its by-products: Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus, High School Musical, and the goddamn Jonas Brothers.
  • She isn't even that talented a singer, not as Hannah Montana and certainly not as herself.
  • Her father is Billy Ray Cyrus.
06) Reverend Rick Warren

This is why I hate the Reverend Rick Warren:
  • He is a neo-conservative white douchebag preacher.
  • Whatever good he is trying to do (with his environmentalism and poverty activism) is cancelled out by the fact that he is a neo-conservative white douchebag preacher.
  • That goddamn book "The Purpose Driven Life" sold millions of copies.
  • He says that he's not a homophobe, and that he offered gays protesting Prop 8 "water and donuts".
  • Doesn't the Bible say that gluttony is a sin?

07) The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and Its Followers (Mormons)

This is why I hate the LDS Church:
  • They are a bunch of neo-conservative right-wingers.
  • They are so squeaky-clean and wholesome, it's frightening. (See Carmen Rasmusen, David Archuleta, Brooke White, et al)
  • They proselytize. Whenever I see a bunch of LDS missionaries come my way, I run in the opposite direction.
  • You can't drink Coke or coffee.
  • They support anti-gay legislation. 45% of the Yes on Proposition 8 funding came from Mormons, even those who don't live in Caliofrnia. Who knows? The Osmonds may have supported Prop 8. Gladys Knight, Ken Jennings, David Archuleta's family... some of your favorite pop culture personalities may have donated money to Prop 8.
08) David Cook

This is why I hate David Cook:
  1. He is not as good as he thinks he is.
  2. He is not as good as American Idol thinks he is.
  3. His music is derivative, not ORIGINAL.
  4. He made American Idol 2008 unwatchable.
  5. I cannot stand people who think that they are superior to others because they are "rock" stars who can play a fucking instrument and have a sense of entitlement.
Beyonce /Sasha Fierce Knowles (Beyonce is African-American by birth, but since leaving Destiny's Child, she has become a white bitch.)

This is why I hate Beyonce/Sasha Fierce Knowles:
  1. She has no personality of her own, so she had to create Sasha Fierce.
  2. She is the Diana Ross of her generation, and that is NOT a compliment.
  3. Destiny's Child was the Supremes of our time, and that is NOT a compliment.
  4. She has become whiter and whiter since leaving Destiny's Child. By this time next year, she should look like Jessica Simpson. Creole, my ass.
  5. Her rap-singing is atrocious and detrimental to good music.
  6. She steals other people's songs and adds one or two lines, and gets credit for writing the whole damn thing.
  7. She steals other people's styles and is lauded for being an original.
  8. She is not curvy.
  9. Everything that she does in her career is calculated and bogarting. Do you remember when "Dreamgirls" came out? It was SUPPOSED to be the movie that made Beyonce Knowles a legitimate superstar of the screen. At least, that's what her entourage thought. Thank Goddess that Jennifer Hudson made her look absolutely stupid. And now, we have "Cadillac Records", a movie that she produced and starred in. It was her goddamn Oscar bid... and it tanked.

Gezuar Krishtlindjet

Shnorhavor Amanor

Austronesian Languages
Bahasa Indonesia
Selamat Hari Natal
Bahasa Malaysia
Selamat Hari Natal
Felis Nabidat
Mele Kalikimaka
Mirary noely sambatra
Meri Kirihimete
Manuia le Kerisimasi
Maligayang Pasko
Ia orana no te noere

Balto-Slavic Languages
Chestita koleda
Vesele vanoce
Priecigus Ziemassvetkus
Linksmu Kaledu
Sreken Bozhik
Wesolych swiat Bozego Narodzenia
S Rozhdestvom Khristovym
Sretan Bozic
Vesele vianoce
Vesel bozic
Veseloho Rizdva

Celtic Languages
Nollaig shona duit

Germanic Languages
Glaedelig jul
Zalig Kerstfeest
Merry Christmas
Fröhliche Weihnachten
Gledileg jol
Schei Chreschtdeeg
Gledelig jul
God jul

Kala Khristougenna

Indo-Iranian Languages
Kerismas mobarak
Subh krisamas

Italic/Romance Languages
Bon Nadal
Joyeux Noel
Buon Natale
Natale hilare
Feliz Natal
Craciun fericit
Bellas festas da Nadal
Feliz Navidad

Sino-Tibetan Languages
Mandarin Chinese
Shengdan kuaile

Is blogging worth it?

Sorry for the delay. I am beginning to wonder, yet again, if blogging is worth it. I don't have a great pool of information that I can dive in everyday. I'm not Perez Hilton. I could post 15 blog pieces a day and still not get anywhere. Does anyone have any advice?

Well, I just finished watching a live stream of Miss World 2008, held this year in Johannesburg, South Africa. I woke up just before 7am. In retrospect, it was a terrible mistake. The winner was Kseniya Sukhinova of Russia, whose facial beauty failed to make up for her lack of proper interview skills and personality. I've seen Russian girls at beauty pageants with more to offer than Kseniya. I've never seen a Miss World winner bomb that badly in the Q&A round... hell, at least Miss Universe winners give at worst competent answers.

When asked why she should win, Kseniya replied through an interpreter, "I want to help people." Well, not those exact words, but similar. (I was watching the Bolivian feed on the Internet, which was dubbed in Spanish, mind you.) That was the most bullshitty answer EVER. Of course as Miss World you are obliged to help people. Your reign involves charity events and fundraising. Kseniya was admittedly nervous, but even if she was not, it would not have changed a damn thing. Her answer was trite and stupid.

Anyone of the 14 remaning contestants in the elite competition would have sufficed over Miss Russia. 2nd place went to Miss India, 3rd went to Miss Trinidad and Tobago, with the delegates from South Africa and Angola rounding out the five finalists. One thing that pissed me off was that I only heard from the top 5 finalists, and none of the remaining 10.

Furthermore, I find the MWO choosing to crown winners from the 2 most repressive countries in the world (China's Zilin Zhang won in 2007) ridiculous. South Africa wasn't allowed to return to Miss World (and subsequently Miss Universe) until apartheid was dismantled and some form of democracy implemented. China and Russia are the two biggest bullies in the world, even more than the USA, which itself is a major bully. Interestingly enough, it was Russia's invasion of Georgia (the former Soviet state, not the US state) prompted the MWO to move the contest to South Africa from its original destination, Ukraine.

It doesn't matter if Zilin and Kseniya are nice enough people. They represent countries where human rights are virtually non-existent. Their wins will not change a damn thing in their countries.

Do you see why I rail against bullies all the time? Russia is a bully to the world like Vincent Vasquez was to me. Kseniya may not be a bully, but Russia is. So whenever I see Russia or China or the USA winning anything of importance, I shudder. We're now living in a world where bullies and their minions take over everything.

I want a beauty pageant winner to be both the best person for the title as well as a complete package. For all her facial beauty, Kseniya falls well short of what a true beauty pageant winner is supposed to be. It can't be about being a pretty face. You have to show something more, lest you give the ultra-feminists fodder to condemn pageants. Even speaking in Russian, Kseniya didn't make any ground. Plus, she didn't show any personality.

So, she begins her year of service, during which she will be a meet-and-greet girl and just raise money for charity, and say not even one word. Miss World's motto shouldn't be "Beauty with a Purpose". It should be "Shut up and look pretty."