This Unreal Believes

Unreal goes night driving, dances in our underwear and curls up with a copy of This I Believe.

Unreal believes everyone has beliefs. Unreal believes most people are not afraid to go on at length about their beliefs and, in stating their beliefs, try to make themselves look as good as possible. Unreal has beliefs, too. They are a lot like everyone else's: Unreal believes in freedom and justice and love of our fellow human beings.

Well, in theory. It is hard to maintain those beliefs in freedom, justice and love when one is, say, on the phone with the insurance company after one's car has been broken into. Unreal believes freedom should be limited to people who don't smash other people's back windows. Unreal believes justice would be served by smashing their back windows. Unreal also believes there ought to be a law against insurance companies putting people on hold and supplying lousy hold music.

All this Unreal believes.

As it happens, National Public Radio producers Jay Allison and Dan Gediman recently published a collection called This I Believe: The Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women. It's a selection culled from the "This I Believe" segments aired on NPR's Morning Edition and All Things Considered that features citizens (some famous, some not) reading aloud essays they've written that describe their personal credos. "This I Believe" was inspired by a radio program of the same name and concept that first aired in 1951. Hosted by Edward R. Murrow, it was supposed to promote human understanding. You can see how well that worked.

Unreal wasn't taking up space on the planet back in the days of the original "This I Believe." But we have read Walker Percy's brilliant novel The Moviegoer, whose hero, Binx Bolling, listens to it every night in bed while masturbating.

Instant gratification — that's another thing Unreal believes in.

Unfortunately, reading NPR's This I Believe: The Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women causes none of the "tingling sensation" the radio program induced in Binx Bolling. Far from it. What we get, as we skim the table of contents and learn that our fellow Americans believe in tipping the pizza delivery dude, in attending funerals, in the powers of creativity and prayer, in the possibility of science, in the therapeutic value of spending more time with their families and in "our noble, essential decency," is an unpleasant weighty sensation in our gut. It feels like nausea.

An appendix to This I Believe contains guidelines for writing one's own essay. Unreal has chosen to ignore them. Herewith, Unreal's essay:

People should not break into other people's cars and, unless they suffer from insomnia, should not read This I Believe when they can read good books like The Moviegoer.

This Unreal believes.

Blind Ambition

The safety-minded editors at Road & Travel magazine have long suspected that nighttime driving is dangerous. Who knew, right? But now the matter is no longer relegated to the realm of the probable. Road & Travel teamed with contact lens maker Acuvue to conduct a survey and found that 32 percent of drivers say they have trouble seeing when driving in the dark. And although 73 percent of respondents believe correcting their vision could help, a mere 27 percent have consulted an optometrist.

To Dr. Elise Briscoe, an "optometrist to the stars" based in Los Angeles, those results are alarming. Fortunately for the driving public, as an official spokeswoman for Acuvue, Briscoe is in a unique position to improve our safety on the roads.

Unreal: Is Acuvue working to address the problem directly — like, with infrared contact lenses?

Dr. Elise Briscoe: You have a great imagination. Maybe someday. Their line of lenses for astigmatism is number one. What I like about the Acuvue Advance for Astigmatism lens: It goes into the right position faster, and it'll stay there.

Oh. Good to know.

It also has the highest level of UV blocking [which prevents ultraviolet rays from damaging vision].

My mother always said I'd go blind from trying to read in the dark. Does that mean I can go blind from trying to drive at night?

You can't go blind from driving or reading in the dark. But it does cause strain. If your readers want tips for driving in the dark, go to the pressroom at

Don't you think the real danger is old folks on the roads?

I can tell you that by the time you're 60 years old, you need ten times more light than a 19-year-old to see clearly. That's why I like the Acuvue contact lenses.

I bet that's because of the UV protection! 

No-Pants Dance

After the competitive sports season in St. Louis came to an end (though we extend congratulations to the Rams for their second victory), Unreal had been searching for someone to cheer for. That all changed the day we got a press release from Jockey announcing its new marketing campaign. UnderWars is, in the publicists' words, "a funny, interactive web site that allows individuals and groups to compete in dance contests in their underwear."

UnderWarriors submit to the UnderWars site,, videos of themselves dancing to one of sixteen pre-approved musical selections and then challenge one another to preliminary bouts. The official tournament began this past Monday and concludes December 11.

Next Page »