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Death by Zeitgeist

David Letterman Has Had Sex

By Devdoot Majumdar

staff writer

There will always be the guy who decides it’s his job to explain to the world the “deeper” meanings of extraordinarily simple lyrics. I’m not talking about the Michael-Stipe-obsessed REM junkies out there, but rather the type that creamed themselves in discovering that “Brick” (Ben Folds Five) is about an abortion or that “Freshman” (Verve Pipe) is about some girl who OD’s. I just wanted to start out by emphatically saying that I don’t want to be that guy.

Of late, my readership has astonished me with a marked cultural illiteracy. In my last article, I made a casual reference to “Nicole and Tom” without last names, assuming that only the degenerates among you wouldn’t pick up on it, only to be proven wrong. Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise are the Ben and Jen of yesteryear, and you really didn’t have to be in the John Tesh fan club to know that.

So, because I’m currently out of awkward couples that lack chemistry, I decided to devote this week’s Death by Zeitgeist to the mundane topic of (re-)acquainting my readership with popular “culture.” For the few who do watch E!, you have my apologies, and will gain nothing here that you didn’t already read on the Christina Aguilera message board. Some points of note:

* Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman didn’t even make a cute couple. I’m almost certain I found Nicole more attractive with the Virginia Woolf nose. As for Tom, after making “Vanilla Sky” with Penelope Cruz, hands down the most beautiful woman in the world, the two became an item.

* For the record, singer Lisa Loeb started the trend of wearing those trendy librarian (black plastic frame) glasses circa 1995 with the video of her single, “Stay.”

* We know Mel Gibson is a Catholic, but did we know that he is a “traditionalist?” It’s a special breed of Catholic that rejects some of the ecumenical changes made in Vatican II. His father was pretty impassioned about this stuff and wrote a letter to The New York Times a while back questioning the Holocaust.

* SoHo in New York City derives its name from being south of Houston St (pronounced Howston). This is more for those Minnesota folks who are still set on becoming the “urban elite.”

* Ed Norton is one of the best actors in the world, second to Kevin Spacey (notable exception being “Keeping the Faith,” but we can blame Ben Stiller or Jenna “Dharma” Elfman for that).

* Oprah Winfrey, the richest woman in the world, doesn’t believe in marriage and avoids the need to discuss prenup arrangements with boyfriend Stedman Graham. Oprah is responsible for spinoffs by Dr. Phil (semi-successful) and her best friend Gayle (flat out cancelled).

* Every time you hear a song on a commercial radio station, it’s almost positively being paid for. Record labels pay a premium if they want the song’s name announced. If the song really really sucks, they play it a lot at 2 a.m. to satisfy daily rotation quotas.

* David Letterman can be an ass, but at least he’s fairly honest. Leno is about as genuine as a person as Avril Lavigne is as genuine as a punk rocker. In other news, Letterman just had a baby with his girlfriend, proof that the man has had sex.

* Beyonce Knowles, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Johnny Depp are classic examples of why you should never let Access Hollywood tell you who in the world is attractive. If you still think Beyonce is hot, consider her “look” in “Austin Powers 3,” or just her hair in general.

* Roman Polansky, filmmaker behind 1979’s “Chinatown” and last year’s “The Pianist,” is a convicted child molester. And when you think about it, Adrian Brody looks kinda boyish, doesn’t he?

* There is no conclusive evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, just in case you haven’t heard.

* Ricky Martin got his start as Latin rockstar “Luis” on General Hospital.

* I’m sorry for stating the obvious here, but Saturday Night Live cannot suck any worse. From day one, I’ve blamed it on the absence of Norm McDonald (but we all know he’s really not all that funny, we were just young). The show has simply degenerated to Horatio Sanz or Jimmy Fallon screwing up every possible skit they’re in and laughing through the rest of it. I suppose MadTV is no better.

And there you go. I’ve told you everything of note in the world, and if you disagree... I don’t really care -- send an e-mail to sinking@mit.edu or something. Blind dates are coming up next week, and as always, if you’re interested in that sort of thing, send me an e-mail at devdoot@mit.edu.