Friday, May 29


Thanks to a friend, I've recently discovered Pandora. It’s become my new best friend/worst enemy at work. The theory behind Pandora is fabulous. You create your own radio station based on the artists you like, then sit back and let Pandora do the rest. Ideally, this is where Pandora plays the bands you like and throws in those that are similar in some way or another. It’s been great as something for me to listen to and fight with at my desk during the day. Well, besides my co-workers.

When you first start, you make your list and Pandora kicks in her two cents. Eventually you wind up adding music, branching out more and more which causes Pandora to do the same, forever expanding and growing into an infinitesimal musical “genome project." As each song rolls by, it has a nifty feature with a thumbs up or thumbs down icon. You click these to let Pandora know that you liked the song and/or artist and play it again Sam, or not so much. I even got a nice note the first time I clicked the thumbs down that said, "sorry about that, we'll never play that song on this station again." How nice, Pandora. You're nothing like your namesake that unleashed many evils on mankind.

Like the beginning of so many relationships, these early types of thumbs up and thumbs down are so gentle. I would see some songs and say to myself, "aww you know, I don't really like Mazzy Star, but it's not that bad. I'll let it slide." It's kind of like how when you first start dating someone and their idiosyncrasies are so cute. "He really loves music, that is so cool." But after a few years of moving four megatons of records and CD's you find yourself screaming, "if you fucking buy one more album, I swear to God I will find a way to shove it up your ass." Thumbs down, thumbs down! As I began to be a little more aggressive with my thumbs down I soon learned, as the major motion picture Hellraiser depicts, you do not control Pandora’s Box, it controls you, be-otch.

In the beginning of my Pandora experience, I sort of had this mental picture of Pandora as a person. I envisioned her as Alice Ghostly on Bewitched. Sort of sitting at a huge switchboard with the old-fashioned headphones on trying to figure out what everyone wanted to listen to. You know, flustered and spacey and kind of always fucking things up? The only problem was that Alice Ghostly wasn't Pandora on Bewitched, she was Esmeralda and there wasn’t even a Pandora there was an Endora and she was Samantha’s Mother and she was a bitch. But this Pandora is a bitch, too. Except that there wasn't a Pandora, but you get my point.

I will admit, I didn’t make things easy for poor Pandora. I have a wide-ranging taste in music. I can go from The Bee-Gees to The Hives back to Nina Simone (don't you judge me), so I think that it’s pretty hard to come up with a standard song list. However, when I put the Isley Brothers on my play list and I’m now fending off Tony!Toni!Tone!, you and me got some problems. Out of nowhere, bands that I would never, ever listen to were popping up all over the place. Then there were the artists that I would have listened to, but it was like Pandora was limiting songs to their Greatest Shittiest Hits.

I caught myself clicking thumbs down more and more each hour. Usually, when you click thumbs down, Pandora moves on to the next song. But after a day of unusually poor Pandora choices, I apparently clicked one too many times. I clicked and got no new song. I clicked again. Again. And again. And still Peter Cetera was screaming at me about something. Finally, I saw a message that said some gibber-jabber about music license and how only a certain number of songs per hour could be jumped. “I knew it!” I yelled to know one in particular.

After a few days pondering the new oh-not-so-cool development, I figured there had to be some way to get past all of these bands that I didn’t like that kept appearing on my play list. For the love of God, I never added Sheryl Crow, I never gave her the thumbs up! I gave her the thumbs down! Thumbs down! Why is she still playing? I questioned the functionality of a “don’t play this song button” if it didn't exclude the annoying artist that MADE the song I didn't want to hear. Why wasn't there a “don’t you dare ever play this goddamn person again” button? After taking the time (ugh) to search the site, I found out why they were playing Sheryl Crowe. I apparently like women singer songwriters that play the guitar. Hmmm. I think that told Pandora that I liked Liz Phair, OK and maybe Aimee Mann. But that doesn’t mean that I like Sheryl Crowe. Jesus, who's next Melissa Ethridge? Sarah Mclaughlin? Next thing I know, the entire Lilith Fair line up is going to be on this thing (I am old). Good news for all of those musicians that might feel slighted by my heavy-handed thumbs down! of late, apparently no matter how many times I click your sorry ass, you won’t go away. Just ask The Beatles. I love the Beatles. Yeah, yeah, yeah. But forgive me if don’t want to hear that upbeat shit at 8:30 in the a.m. Thumbs down!

In an age where radio stations seem quaint, I thought that the upside to all of this technology upheaval would be that music lovers might actually get to listen to what they wanted to. I guess that Esmeralda is a lot smarter than she seems. Or maybe she’s just in cahoots with Pinhead, I don’t know.

If you want to rock to some awesome music (well half the time anyway), check out my station. Again, I can't take credit, because Pandora makes most of the choices like the Bitch Goddess she is.

** Here is my little Pandora update. It seems as if Alice Ghostly has thrown in the towel and completely sold out to The Man. Two days ago I was in the middle of a "thumbs down" marathon, when a snotty little message popped up on my computer screen. It said, "you've used up your 40 allotted hours of Pandora a month. If you'd like to have access of for the rest of the month July just pay $.99." WTF? I got all pissed, because this development came out of nowhere. They didn't even hint to anything like this, just BLAM-O "you're cut off, now gimme your dollar!"
Well the one thing that Pandora doesn't know about me is that I don't take kindly to being mind-fucked. I have a couple of exes out there that could probably testify to that. So, guess what Pandora, if that is your real name, you aren't getting my dollar. Instead you get the Rockefeller, and you'll like it. I'm going back to my iTunes radio. Well, at least until next month.


Wednesday, May 27


Is there a difference between Wal-Mart and Target? You-betcha.
Here is something that I’ve never seen at Target: A hoopty van with tinted windows containing a child of indeterminable age, but definitely too young to be left alone in a vehicle, screaming “Mommy” at the top of her lungs, pounding on the back window. Another thing that I’ve never seen at Target? A car packed with people, including a couple of toddlers and a baby in a car seat, pulling into a handicapped spot with every single adult in the car smoking. Except of course the kids, but give them a year or two.
Socioeconomics aside, I always have a completely different shopping experience at Target than I do at Wal-Mart. The major difference being at Target I hear phrases like "can I help you?" from the employees and "excuse me" from other customers. That being said, here is my favorite Wal-Mart experience of all time. I am pretty sure that it sums up all Wal-Mart experiences, but this one is a doosy.

They use to carry this supplement for dogs that really helped Rory with his hip (he's a Basset Hound and well, you know how hot-dog dogs can get with their tiny legs). Anyway, they seemed to be out, but before I left empty-handed I wanted to double check. I decided to ask an "associate," and I use that word loosely, for help. My husband shook his head at me and said "what are you doing? You're just going to waste your time and frustrate yourself." But, no I wanted to know for sure, because damn it, this was the only place that carried it.

I carried with me the cat version as a visual aid to illustrate my question. I made my approach to a kid a couple of isles over. "Excuse me," I said. "I am looking for this product (I held up my box of cat vitamins) except for dogs." I got a blank stare and a long pause. Finally, he said "that's for cats."

Mark just smiled and walked off, but I was determined to get through to Corky."Yes, I know. You guys carry the same product for dogs, but you're out. I was wondering if you could check and see if there is any in the back." He squinted at the box and again pronounced "but that's for cats."

I decided the next, best course of action was to ditch my visual aid and take him directly to the source. We walked back to the display of pet supplements and I again showed him that they had everything else, but would he mind checking to see if they had the one for dogs?

I swear to God, he looked at me, and for a moment I flashed to that scene in Fire in the Sky where the aliens stare blankly at D.B. Sweeney as they torture him. He gestured to the display case, pointed to the cat supplements in my hand and said "we have that one." I suppressed both a smile and my rage and through gritted teeth said, "yes, I know." I again repeated my request for a back stock search of the dog version.

Then, it came. The classic Wal-Mart response: "Well, that's not my department. But, I'll go and check for you." I was pretty sure that he said that to both shut me up and to distract me. By that point I really didn't care, but his tactic worked. I was stunned. As he walked off, confusion set in. Mark walked up to me and asked "where did he go?" when I dreamily replied, "he went to check for me." Mark looked off in the direction he'd left and said, "well that's weird." Weird, indeed.

As he walked back to us, he had a look of complete satisfaction on his face. I imagine it was the same one he wore the day he got his G.E.D. He was breathless, a little flushed and extremely proud of himself. His hands were noticeably empty of anything for dogs, but he did give me the box of cat vitamins back. "OK. I went back there. Like I said, this isn't my department, but I did look and I couldn't find anything."

I looked at him and looked at my husband, not really sure what to make of the situation. His expression totally didn't match the words coming out of his mouth so I was understandably perplexed. I kept waiting for the "Ta-Da!" and a box of dog vitamins to appear from behind his back. But it never happened. He just stood there looking at us, looking back at him. I think that time stood still.

I didn't want to beat a dead horse, but by this time it was a fucking grudge match. Me v. Dipshit Wal-Mart Employee, and he was winning. I said, "so you do not have any dog supplements?" He looked at me and said, "well, we may or may not have any." Then pointing at the box in my hand "I know we have this one. It's the one for cats."

At this point, Mark completely abandoned me to laugh in the next isle. I realized that the contest was over and the Dipshit had emerged victorious. I quietly bowed my head and thanked the young man, wishing him luck on life's long journey. Because, let's be honest, he's gonna need it.

By the way, we just switched to organic dog food and don't bother with the vitamins anymore. Also, I decided to just suck it up and pay a little more, drive a little further and go to Target. It's not Nordstrom's, but I don't feel like I've stepped into the Hillbilly Twilight Zone every time my front tires hit the parking lot.
I'm not saying all who shop at Wal-Mart are idiots, but all idiots shop at Wal-Mart.


Wednesday, May 13


Americans are stupid. Day by day, I watch with dismay as we become stupider (like that?). For an example, look no further than Rock of Love, or its latest incarnation, Daisy of Love (or any of VH1's programming for that matter). Apparently, the basic cable viewing public really likes to watch strippers try to find love. Or, strippers trying to find charm or strippers just trying to find the bar. We just really love strippers, OK?

But bad (did I say bad? I meant awesome) television aside, I do worry about the dumbing-down of America. I have a kid after all, and I'd like her to one day understand that just because Barbie can dance in a commercial doesn't mean she can drop it like it's hot when we get her home.

I know that there have already been countless books, articles and blogs written on this subject by people much smarter than myself. But when I, one of the proudest laziest Americans you will ever meet, sees a product so ridiculous that it causes me to actually exert energy to write about it, you know that we as a society have gone horribly, horribly astray.

For years I’ve seen it coming. It started innocently enough with Lunchables. Those wonderfully nitrate-laden lunch snacks that I enjoyed so much throughout high school. They were so much better than actually having to make a whole sandwich – I mean, come on! That's like, having to coordinate bread, condiments and lunch meat. Pffffsssst, what am I? A MENSA member?

Then came every college girl’s dream - tuna salad in a cup. Again, who needs to go through the rigmarole of assembling a whole sandwich when you can have a plastic cup of tuna with a wooden spoon, a la third grade ice cream? Not me! Bring on the awkward disposal of tuna water and relish packaging... "hey what stinks?"

Next came the pre-shredded lettuce. I thought, well that’s helpful! I can remember my Mother wasting her time tearing lettuce for salads. She often proclaimed any lettuce that had been chopped by a knife was inedible because it tasted like metal. As I held the package of pre-shredded goodness, I thought of the countless hours of my time I had wasted tearing lettuce, until the good folks at Dole gave me those precious seconds of my life back with their wonderful 'Shreds' products. No, thank you Mr. Dole.

Then it turned weird. Kids products that shouldn't have been made any easier, suddenly needed to be "bite sized" and "ready to eat." Frankly, according to many studies, the last thing that Jimmy needs when he gets home is an entire package of bite sized anythings. Some stuff is iffy, like yogurt packaged with granola. OK. That’s yummy and kinda helpful, I guess. I mean, if you if really want the granola and don’t want to go to all the trouble of putting some into a plastic bag.

These products simultaneously appeared with their less helpful and increasing lazy adult counterparts like individually packaged string cheese, pre-cut block cheese and cubed fruit - for when the cutting motion is too taxing on your wrist.

The other night while being lazy and watching TV, I saw a commercial that made me fear for ourselves as a species. No, it wasn’t the Lady Schick Quattro bush trimmer. It wasn’t even the cereal straws or the numerous pharmaceutical products that make your heart bleed so that your toenails can be the envy of all your friends (not even the one that has a side effect that includes increased gambling - what's up with that?). Nope, it was an advertisement for Coors Beer. Not that there’s anything wrong with throwing back Rocky Mountain's finest. But apparently, they are really going for that lucrative barely-functioning-IQ market. They now have a beer can that turns blue to let you know that it’s cold.

I will repeat that. They have a beer can that turns blue to let you know that it’s cold. I could be wrong. I’m no scientist, but I believe that’s what your sense of touch is for. Their slogan should be: Color coded beer - for when touching is just too much trouble. People, if we have lost so much of our animal instinct that we can’t even tell when something is cold we are in BIG trouble. BIG. TROUBLE. Screw global warming, that's too much for us to think about. We are done for.

All of this reminds me of a great episode of the Simpsons where Homer runs for Springfield Sanitation Commissioner on the platform of “Can’t Someone Else Do It?” That’s what I think that we’ve become. A nation of can’t someone else do it-ers. No wonder there’s no sense of personal responsibility anymore. Companies have quite literally taken it out of our hands as if we can’t be trusted to cut our own cheese or feel up our own beer. For Christssakes they put WARNINGS on commercials that have people jumping off bridges high on Mountain Dew. Do Not Attempt – well no shit. You mean if I drink a bunch of hillbilly soda I can’t really fly? Well then everything that I know is wrong and I really need to reexamine what I accept as my reality, because damn I really thought I could take that Chevy and pull a train with it. Like a mother fuckin’ rock, bitches.

Ironically, I’d like to point out that unlike Europe, America doesn’t yet have the cigarette packs with awesomely huge, honest warning labels on them that say things like: CIGARETTES KILL YOU, SMOKERS DIE YOUNGER and my favorite, SMOKING CAUSES A SLOW AND PAINFUL DEATH. So bully for the tobacco companies! Whew! Finally common sense and cooler heads prevail with a product that actually kills people. Wait..

I take back everything that I said about Coors and their temperature coded beer cans. Apparently, we once again need a replacement for our sense of touch. I have an idea. Instead of a product that uses lights to tell you if something is hot or cold, you extend your arm, and put your fucking hand under the stream of water? There, I just saved you $40. You're welcome.

Wednesday, May 6


Open letter to Zooey Deschanel, Jennifer Lopez, Scarlett Johansson, Lindsay Lohan, that chick from Gossip Girl and any other actress that tries to make a record;

Please don’t get into a studio and sing into a recording device and then have that “song” distributed in any manner. Just because you happen to be attractive, are able to walk, talk and emote at the same time, doesn’t mean that you can sing. Seriously. No one else is going to tell you this. Not your friends and family and certainly not your "people." That is why I, your judgmental public, am here.

And if my ears are pummeled by that goddamn Zooey Deschanel commercial for Cotton one more time I swear I will wear man made materials for the rest of my life. I guess she thinks that because she sounded OK in a shower scene during Elf that means she should take it public. Hey Zooey, guess what? I sound like fucking Ella Fitzgerald in the shower. But you don’t see me strutting around in vintage clothes singing about the virtues of cotton. Granted, the cotton industry isn’t exactly breaking down my door, but I can’t imagine that you are doing much for sales either.

Jennifer Lopez, well, if I had 28 people writing “Jenny From The Block” with Autotune © on my side, I’d sound pretty hot too. Oh, and pretty, pretty Scarlett. Don't try too hard to be both a mediocre singer AND a mediocre actress. You don't have to be everything to everyone. Slow down. You're only 24... Lindsay, you just stick to being a very good coke head and a very bad driver. And I’m not even sure about this newest entry, ‘cause I don’t watch Gossip Girl, but I am sure she will set the music world aflame with her “music.”

p.s. I am leaving Heidi Montag completely out of this because a) she's a pathetic mouth-breather and a waste of human flesh and b) her only purpose at this point is to take up my air and parking spaces. I hope that she and that douche bag boyfriend of hers with the (let's all say it together, creepy flesh-colored beard), get gonorrhea and die.


p.s.s.What did I tell you, Scarlett? You just don't listen, do you? And Pete Yorn, what happened? Really!?! I'm so disappointed in you.