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The Bizarre World of 1-900 Numbers, the Middle-Aged Men of Tinder and the Potential Energy of an Unblown Load

I have a little bit of experience with 900 numbers. No, I was never addicted to them. In fact, I’ve never paid to have sex on the phone (or any of the other things a person used to be able to do on a 900 line).

Not that my friends and I didn’t want to. We tried. Constantly. There was a pay phone just off the corner of my elementary school football field where we set up shop. It was always the same: Dial 1-900-HOTT-SEX, get titillated by the sexy voice recording and then attempt to commit credit-card fraud by entering numbers at random until our “card” was accepted.

Needless to say, our little scam never worked. But it was exciting.

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“The Internet Before the Internet: The Bizarre Heyday of the 1-900 Number”
The more things change, the more things stay the same. Case in point: Our connected world. Because, while the internet may have brought people and their weird sexual and social proclivities into the digital era, the analog world of 1-900 numbers in the 1980s and 1990s was just as bizarre. Like Jose Canseco discussing his steroid use on a recorded message and telling Eddie Murphy to kill a lobster, bizarre. READ MORE

A Film Critic On… ‘The Christmas Chronicles’

On what it is: “Kurt Russell plays a slightly snarky Santa who teams up with two adorable, albeit fractious siblings (Judah Lewis, Darby Camp) on Christmas Eve to retrieve his lost presents and runaway reindeer.”

On spoilers, which if you’ve ever seen a Christmas movie, aren’t really spoilers: “The feuding siblings will reconnect. Santa will deliver the toys on time. Life lessons will be learned. Sticky sentiment will be expressed. And everybody will have a Merry Christmas. Roll credits.”

On Chronicle’s special sauce: “Everything in The Christmas Chronicles is handled in the lamest, easiest, sloppiest way possible.”

On why that actually works: “Deep down, we don’t care if our Christmas movies are terrible. In fact, the terribleness is a crucial component.”

On turning holiday spirit into cold, hard cash: “Hallmark produced 34 Christmas films this year — and is aiming to make 90 in 2019. They’ve turned Christmas badness into a viable business model.”

On Chronicles knowing its role, and why that’s just fine:The Christmas Chronicles is really just a more sophisticated version of those seasonal fireplace videos — it’s a thing to throw on because it just seems appropriate to the time of year.”

Read the rest of Tim Grierson’s take on The Christmas Chronicles, here  —  including a brief musical history of Brad Paisley’s courtship of Chronicles star Kimberly Williams-Paisley; why “fake news” jokes need to die in a yule-log fire; and why the film’s bluesy rendition of “Santa Claus Is Back in Town” might be the terrible Christmas song’s most terrible version.

What’s in a Twinkie? A Lot.

Twinkies are, at their most basic, yellow cake with a simple cream filling. How hard could that be to make? You might think it’d be easy, but that’s before you consider the ingredients:

What. The. Fuck.

Twenty-nine ingredients? What are you trying to do to us, Hostess, kill us? Take Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate — ingredient #20 — which has been known to cause people to experience “an allergic reaction consisting of itching, swelling, mucus production, muscle spasms, hives and rash formation.” Sounds delicious. And that’s not even the half of it — find out what the 28 chemicals do, here.

Blow Hard

As any guy who suffered through No Nut November can tell you, when you come back from an extended period of celibacy, your first blown load can feel like an out-of-control firehose. But are we really dealing with raw ejaculative power here, or are other seminal forces at play? Andrew Fiouzi investigates.

No Shame in the Middle-Aged Tinder Game

Tinder is not just a young person’s game. More and more men and women on the wrong side of 40 are wading into online dating like their twenty- and thirtysomething forebearers. So what’s it like looking for love or the occasional FWB for the over-40 set out there? We talked to a few guys to find out.

Street Smarts

You can read all the books in the world, but if you don’t have some good old-fashioned street smarts, you’ll probably wind up in a ditch somewhere. Which is why, if you need to brush up on the best way to stay safe in a new city, for example, you might consult a bastion of intellectualism for the answer — you know, like Reddit. But here’s some street-smart advice: Not everyone on the internet knows what the hell they’re talking about.

White Hat

What has Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption 2 done that no other video game has been able to? Give us a protagonist for whom killing isn’t a zero-sum game, argues Eddie Kim. Where, typically, main characters are either all good or all bad, or kill to prevent being killed, Rockstar has created Wild West outlaw Arthur Morgan, a down-on-his-luck bandit with honor, empathy and purpose. And his battle with his own morality is the freshest game mechanic in years.

Surprise! Here’s a Crippling Financial Burden

Who are these people who see the “December to Remember” Lexus commercials and think, I know, I’ll buy my snobby tween a new sports car with a butt-ugly grille in Ultra White with the Premium Package.

Not millennials. We’ve got barely two cents to rub together after paying for our rent, our weed and our nightly Postmates deliveries. And not anyone with a brain. Buying a new car is possibly the worst investment a person can make. And yet, people are buying new cars at Christmastime, with gift sales making up 1.5 percent of all car sales. So who then?

Two words: Dumb and/or rich people.