Thursday, December 30, 2010

Odds and Sods: End of 2010 Edition

Hey you crazy kidz, hope you all have a great New Years celebration planned. And resolutions, lots and lots of good-hearted resolutions, that make us feel all warm and fuzzy (at least until we break them).

This year has seen DEAD AIR's lowest number of blog posts ever, and one of my resolutions is to post more, even if the posts are short. I don't have to turn everything into a damn epistle! But alas, old habits die hard.

The important thing is the HABIT, I have discovered. If you let a few days go by without writing, well... it's easier to let a few MORE days go by... and finally, you aren't writing at all. That's how it initially happened to me some years ago, when I went long periods (like, years) without writing. I missed chronicling some very important, earth-shattering events, and I now greatly mourn the loss. (We can't remember everything we were thinking/doing ten years ago, even if we believe we do; I re-read parts of this blog from only three years ago and I am astounded at the details I have forgotten already.) I decided I wouldn't let that happen again, but this year, I nearly did.

As many of you know, my spiritual center (so to speak) was re-centered (so to speak), and I found it hard to adequately convey my thoughts and feelings around the shift in sensibility. I still find it very difficult, and I am largely unable to write sensibly about leaving the Church. It remains a jumble of emotions and I need to let it all settle, before I attempt to go there. I have about a half-dozen unfinished posts regarding sudden realizations I have had, re: Christianity and identifying as Christian. For one thing, a loss of respectability, that 1) I didn't know I had and 2) didn't know I valued. Some of this respectability is social, some political, and some is self-respect, and that last one is the one that caught me off guard.

I still identify as a Catholic in a social/ethnic way, and that is also very hard to quantify. I am not sure I even understand what it means, but it is simply true.

And so, forward into another year...

~*~

Two of Cravin Melon, but not sure which two! (They introduced themselves as "2/5 of Cravin Melon" at the Earth Fare benefit for Harvest Hope Food Bank, Thanksgiving Eve.)

~*~

DEAD AIR almost got through a whole year without a troll invasion, but last night, there they were, scurrying out from under all kinds of rocks. (((screams)))

I am currently waiting for the cops to arrive to arrest me for not deleting the troll's angry posts (!), as I have been assured they are on the way.

Today, I drove home at breakneck pace and the only thing I found was two florescent light bulbs outside my door, to install in the kitchen. *sigh* No cops. No subpoena. No indictment. Galdurnit! (as my late uncle liked to say) It appears I got all my hopes up for nothing.

I was planning a really JAZZY end-of-year post about Freedom of Speech and blogging, complete with trolls sending me to jail after posting their addresses on my blog (seriously, read the link)... but nah. I was also hopeful that this would be a big First Amendment case, endearing me to all of Blogdonia (and bringing me thousands of hits, of course), but it all turned out to be just another annoying pain in the ass.

~*~

Tyler Ramsey at the Bohemian Cafe in Greenville, December 4th. His musical compatriots, BAND OF HORSES, have just been nominated for a Grammy award, which he called "Some crazy news!" It certainly is!

Congrats on the nomination, Tyler, and good luck. (Apologies for the blurry photo, but it was kinda dark in there.)

~*~

I did want to link a few people who posted especially interesting, fun and/or very readable stuff that I didn't get to highlight previously:

:: How do I feel about the recent lift of the ban on openly gay soldiers (i.e. Don't ask, don't tell)? Truthfully? I hate when still another group gets turned into cannon fodder. Suzan sums up my feelings perfectly in the title of her piece: To the Gay Community: Now That You Can Join the Military, Please Don’t!

:: Renegade Evolution meets the Furries... great stuff: You’re going to Baltimore? You might need…

:: Jon shared this one with me: The Professional Left Versus The Left of Us. Money quote:

But to some the fascism warned of in all those faint allusions to totalitarian horrors already exists and the death camp trains have been running for decades with barely a peep from the professional liberals. Should we care about Obama’s failure to close Guantanamo when he never felt pressure enough to even lie about wanting to shut down the Corrections Corporation of America? Prisons and the racist legislation, hyper-policing, brutality and fraudulent judicial system that keep them filled are among the nation’s biggest businesses. Joblessness and poverty continue to worsen and even the tens of thousands dying from war abroad are more than matched by the deaths in this country resulting from public policies which deny adequate housing, food and health care to millions.
Preach it, preach it!

:: Skepchick: Eating Disorders, the Media, and Skepticism.

:: AMERICA: Y UR PEEPS B SO DUM? Ignorance and courage in the age of Lady Gaga by Joe Bageant. Required reading for every culture warrior!

Yellowdog Granny's recent funnies! It's where I found the comic on the left.



Speaking of which, I've been a loyal REAL HOUSEWIVES fan since day one, but this year, I was pretty disappointed in the newest incarnation: The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Boring, predictable, with no authentic or amusingly-outrageous neurosis at all, just garden-variety, high-tax-bracket narcissism. Narcissism without neurosis is just... narcissism. Neurosis, however, is what makes the world go round! (We crave copious tearful, self-centered confessions about how no one understands what they go through!!!!) The Bev Hills gang doesn't have enough self-pity to suit me... or it could be that they've had SO MUCH BOTOX they are totally unable to move their faces (the husbands too!) and as a result, cry with their eyes wide open. And that just doesn't pull at my heartstrings in the same way.

If you can't even scrunch up your face and cry like the rest of us, fuck you.

:: Media Matters: 15 Whoppers [Glenn] Beck did not get fired for in 2010. (My first thought: What?! ONLY 15?)

:: Sheila instructs us in Relearning how to breathe. As a customer service rep, I would often notice that my breathing would get all raggedy and strange, after an hour or so of getting my ass chewed out non-stop. I would take a few seconds and concentrate on breathing in and out, and I was amazed at the difference in my state of mind, my countenance, my inner calm.

:: Mia Mingus shares her feelings about November 6, the anniversary of her adoption. This is her recorded birthday, but of course, not really her birthday. I had never really stopped to consider the fact that most adoptees do not know their actual birthdays:
I hate the confusion that surrounds my birthday now. People constantly getting confused, “so which birthday do you celebrate?” “When is your real birthday?” Since finding out the truth, I would rather deny my birthday all together, no celebrations, no worries about what or how birthdays are supposed to feel to someone who does not even know how to think of her own birth. It only marks another year that I have spent separated from pieces of myself that may or may not even exist; pieces of my self that made me, created me, but don’t know me now. It only marks a deep sadness at having celebrated something that was so wrong for so long, something that wasn’t real, the way sometimes entire decades of my life have felt.
Beautiful, expressive writing.

:: My always-embarrassing senator, Tea Party busybody Jim DeMint, has just revealed himself to be a starstruck fanboy, gushing to Politico that Sarah Palin has "done more for the Republican Party than anyone since Ronald Reagan," -- apparently with a straight face, too.

As they say, those two need to get a room.

~*~

And now (((drum roll))) DEAD AIR VIDEO OF THE YEAR... as always, my criteria is the same: Which one did I listen to the most after I initially posted it?

Ohhh, that's an easy call. I must have listened to this five thousand times by now. (As I said back in April, all due to the wonders of modern technology!)

Cleo's Mood - Junior Walker and the All Stars



HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE! Have a fabulous 2011!

*Photos from my FLICKR page*

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

On feminist collaboration with the state

As a veteran of the Watergate era, which I obsessively studied as a young pup, I am so deeply cynical and skeptical of our government, that I initially did not even believe these alleged rape-victims of Julian Assange truly existed. I am still profoundly skeptical, until I see an interview with Barbara Walters or equivalent. (I'll settle for a big blue dot over their faces, as was necessary for Patricia Bowman.)

As I have written before: Deja Vu all over again. The disintegration of the leftist/liberal coalition is in full swing. Obama is a one-termer, as was Jimmy Carter. History repeats itself, almost to the letter, but I can't quite figure out if this is the tragedy or the farce?

When I get confused, I flash back to 1979 and the disintegration of the 70s coalition. And then, it all makes sense.

Feminism was wild, woolly, crazy, brash, overbearing. The refrain was: I am woman, hear me ROAR. Not purr. Not blink our waterproofed-mascaraed eyes and meow nicely. ROAR. As the 80s dawned and Reaganism took over, roaring not only rated patriarchal punishment, but outright banishment. Get with the program, bitches, was the new refrain. 70s feminism became an embarrassment to the new careerist women of the 80s, who bleated incessantly, I'm a feminist but I love men! I love men! I don't hate men! I'm a feminist, but... and then finally FEMINISM as a term, as a philosophy, as a politics, was banished, too.

And something happened.

This phenomenon was first controversially chronicled by a woman I have since been told is "anti-feminist"--which is odd, since she was one of the few women who seemed to understand what the hell was going on. I refer to Katie Roiphe.

From The Morning After: Sex, Fear and Feminism by Katie Roiphe:

The image that emerges from feminist preoccupations with rape and sexual harassment is that of women as victims, offended by a professor's dirty joke, verbally pressured into sex by peers. This image of a delicate woman bears a striking resemblance to that fifties ideal my mother and the other women of her generation fought so hard to get away from. They didn't like her passivity, her wide-eyed innocence. They didn't like the fact that she was perpetually offended by sexual innuendo. They didn't like her excessive need for protection. She represented personal, social and psychological possibilities collapsed, and they worked and marched, shouted and wrote, to make her irrelevant for their daughters. But here she is again, with her pure intentions and her wide eyes. Only this time it is feminists themselves who are breathing new life into her.
Self-described feminists ran to the state, to the patriarchy itself, to local police forces and courts that had never given a shit about women, to punish other men. Without apology. In fact, quite proudly. No political equivocations or similar excuses were given, i.e. we need mean guys to police other mean guys. Battered-women's shelters became beneficent arms of the therapeutic culture; police were suddenly seen as the good guys, keeping an eye on those other dangerous, brutal men. (The most horrific suffering in these situations came from battered women married to police officers, since those particular men had easy access to locations of safe-houses.) Radical volunteers at these shelters, even women who had initially organized them (such as Sue Urbas, R.I.P.) were suddenly persona non grata in the places they had started themselves. The experts and the social workers, acting as arms of the state, stepped in. (You can almost hear John Wayne: We'll take over now, little lady.) And they did. By the end of the 80s, they were in the process of doing the same thing to Alcoholics Anonymous and various other self-help organizations. The state, massive apparatus that it is, does not take well to being left out. And men, in particular, were NOT going to be left out of the project, any project.

By 1999 and the advent of LAW AND ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT, the whole concept was solidified. The law is Our Friend. The state will bring sympathetic justice to raped women. We can trust them. This pro-state, pro-government propaganda has never abated.

If you grew up during that time, you don't know any different. You believe the government is there to help women. You do not believe that the government has its own agenda regarding feminism and women. If you say such things to young women, they will furrow their brows: but there are women police officers, they say. (Mariska Hargitay is popular for a reason, you know.) The concept of the state as an agent of repression, is utterly foreign to them. To say otherwise renders you some kind of lefty/anarchist nut, or worse, a conspiracy theorist. Not a realist.

As a result, the entire invasion of Afghanistan was given a properly feminist spin: Women are being abused by the Taliban! Of course, we must invade. Mavis Leno and other billionaire Hollywood feminists unabashedly called for military intervention.

~*~

To review: The US government is a repressive, carnivorous force.

Ask the women of: Japan, Korea, Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Angola, Nicaragua, Panama, Grenada, Iraq and Afghanistan. (I'm sure I'm missing a few interventions; how could we possibly keep track of them all?) And that is only a half-century's worth of military meddling. As I have written here before, the US government has had its fingers in the business of so many countries, only God knows the extent of it. And by giving our blessing to the state, by running to the state to settle our conflicts and making sure Mariska Hargitay and company have jobs and plenty of work to do, we collaborate. As US residents, we can't help some collaboration (if you don't pay the IRS and fund their wars, they will put you in jail for tax evasion), but other, more insidious forms of collaboration CAN be directly avoided.

Yes, the word for today is COLLABORATION.

The feminists who are currently mouthing well-intentioned variations of: Yes, we know Julian Assange has a big red target on his back placed there by the US government for exposing war crimes against unnamed dark women in Asia with (waving impatiently) smart bombs and stuff, but we must hear out the complaints of these (Daisy first believed nonexistent) Swedish white women who are accusing him, because, well... what would Mariska Hargitay do? What have we been TAUGHT to do?

Listen to the women!

Well, I do listen to women. I listen to the victims of US repression and violence. I listen to the victims of rape in other countries, women who claim their country and governments have been totally destroyed by an advanced, high-tech military campaign financed by MY money, MY government, without MY consent. Have you written about that, American feminists? Have you denounced war, made in your name? Have you profiled THOSE rape victims? Have you believed those victims and made them the centerpiece of your political campaigns? And why haven't you?

Certain feminists have actually written more about Michael Moore declaring the rape allegations are "hooey" --than they have against the war(s) and US imperialism against the unnamed dark women of the world, which is certainly NOT hooey. They seem far more upset over Michael Moore and Keith Olbermann saying predictable and stupid guy-shit on TV, than they are about the wholesale rape and assault of entire fucking countries. Because you know, American feminists should have the right to watch TV without being offended! (Since when?) The fact that these feminists are going after two erstwhile progressives, is pretty gross. Glenn Beck and Bill O'Reilly trash women and feminism every single day, but somehow, that isn't quite as upsetting.

This disgusting state of affairs has made DEAD AIR almost too nauseated to continue. And then, yes, dear readers, Daisy rallied.

What made me rally? I saw a picture. I decided to share it here. The photo above is of one Dorothy Wetzel Hunt.

Speaking of conspiracy theories, does anyone remember Dorothy Hunt, the wife of E. Howard Hunt?

Dorothy Hunt died. Dorothy Hunt was expendable. Just like all those women in Afghanistan are considered expendable. And the women of all the countries I listed above, were also expendable. American women deserve to live in comfort, and goddamn anybody, male or female, Michael Moore or Dorothy Hunt, who stand in the way.

I can only remember one feminist, Robin Morgan, mentioning Dorothy in a poem. Period. No other feminists gave a shit. She was probably a Republican, after all. No question, she was a CIA agent:
Just before Hunt boarded the aircraft she purchased $250,000 in flight insurance payable to E. Howard Hunt. In his book Undercover (1974), Hunt claims he was unaware that his wife planned to do this. In the book he also tried to explain what his wife was doing with $10,000 in her purse. According to Hunt it was money to be invested with Hal Carlstead in "two already-built Holiday Inns in the Chicago area".

Nixon administration figure Chuck Colson told TIME magazine that "I don't say this to my people. They'd think I'm nuts. I think they [the CIA] killed Dorothy Hunt."[2]Also killed in the December 1972 plane crash was CBS News Correspondent Michele Clark and Illinois Congressman George W. Collins.

"This was probably the most investigated airplane crash in history" said Deputy Cook County Coroner John Haigh. [3] National Transportation Safety Board ruled it to be pilot error.
[4]
Sure it was. (Holiday Inns! Ohhh, that is perfect.)

And how thoughtful of Dorothy to purchase all that life insurance just in the nick of time to pay her husband's lawyers! What a nice lady.

I have often imagined how Dorothy felt, boarding that plane and suddenly GETTING IT. What was it was like to know you had that giant red target on your back (the same one now on Julian's back) placed there by the US government? This was the entity she had worked for, sacrificed for, and thoroughly believed in. A lot like The Mafia. It's your life, and then, finally, it is your death.

And so, I write this for Dorothy Hunt. We will never know the truth about your death, Dorothy. And I apologize for all the feminists who didn't bother to investigate. Mariska Hargitay-on-the-trail does not apply to everyone.

This is for all the feminists who believed in ((cough)) "pilot error"; all the feminists who shrugged because you had the wrong politics and the wrong husband.

Similarly, we see that liberal white US feminists are currently picking and choosing which victims are more important than others. Millions of victims of US carnage should rightly rate a few more blog posts than Michael Moore acting like Michael Moore, you know?

My question to all of you is: why haven't they?

As I said, I am profoundly skeptical. I see the hundreds of probably-astroturfed blog post replies with all of the not-linked commenters predictably stating RIGHT ON, we are glad you are standing up to Assange the bully-rapist! How many of these posts are by government plants or right-wing apologists? Are you absolutely certain you are pursuing the right course of action? Do you see that you are (coincidentally!) weakening the individual who has exposed the war crimes of the government? Do these war crimes bother you at all; have you READ the Wikileaks documents? Women's bodies are littered throughout. Do you care about them? (And if you do, why have you not written about them and said so?) Julian's organization, Wikileaks, has exposed horrific war crimes. Why are you going after him, with the blessings of your repressive government? Is your attack on Julian ultimately going to endear you to the women of the world, women unfortunate to have been born on the wrong side, women who have been left without running water and whose children have been blown up?

Oh, please.

They are using you.

And they will continue to use you with aplomb and make sure you get lots of attention, blog links and air time. They will flatter your ego and put you on radio and TV. In fact, you can work for the government right up until the moment of your elimination, when you are no longer useful. Ask Dorothy. Ask her as she was standing at that airline desk, her heart pounding, purchasing all that life insurance.

I'm sure Julian has purchased his.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas from the Family

I've been so profoundly exhausted from another holiday retail season, I almost neglected the fourth year in a row of our Dead Air holiday tradition. I hereby present Robert Earl Keen's MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM THE FAMILY!

As always, non-rednecks and/or yankees are certainly free to sit this one out.

Have a great Christmas everyone! Feliz Navidad!

~*~

Merry Christmas from the Family - Robert Earl Keen

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Father Christmas, Give us some Money!

...The Kinks. Dead Air official Christmas Carol for the fourth year in a row! :D

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Why the Right wing is winning, continued

...because the left no longer tolerates dissent.

I just realized I have been banned from a good half-dozen lefty-blogs in the past few weeks. And not a single right-wing blog has banned me.

I have been as much of a pest at the conservative right-wing blogs as I have been at the liberal-lefty-radical blogs; I have in fact been far more rude and nasty to the Tea Partiers. I have (more or less) minded my manners at all of the lefty blogs, but that hasn't helped me. After all, I AGREE in principle with the lefty bloggers.

All arguments at left-leaning blogs centered on various minor points of dogma, or about the fact of confrontation itself (something the right-wing welcomes and enjoys). The Left will have none of it. It seems the good people of the Left cannot even answer ME, one of their own. How on earth could the Left realistically respond to the Right? Looking at the liberal blogs in question, I see that no outright conservatives are allowed to participate. Looking at the conservative blogs, I see a willingness to take on the liberals, even a zeal to do so.

This is how we know they are on the ascent; they are unafraid.

Meanwhile, the Left cowers and censors some old hippie grandmother who already agrees with them.

Good lord, what's wrong with this picture.

~*~

Standing around in a cozy Christmas huddle with several female customers, chatting/worrying aloud about mercury content in fish, when one of them emphatically remarked: We need to be MAMA GRIZZLIES for the environment.

What?

Oh dear.

Does she know that Sarah Palin, Mama Grizzly of the Mama Grizzly movement, just shot a reindeer, which she will likely roast out on the snow-covered Alaskan tundra, and serve for Christmas dinner? I do not trust rich caribou-killing politicians/reality-TV whores to take care of the environment. I do trust Sarah Palin to be a bloodthirsty warmonger, mindless Republican talking-head and overall narcissistic swine.

Why, I wondered, do I come to such different conclusions than my customer... a very nice lady who speaks to me every day and cares about the poor fish filled with mercury? (She really does, too.)

Is it because of our different backgrounds that we have come to different conclusions? We don't seem that different to me.

That's the scary thing.

~*~

Another reason is that certain dark corners of the Left seem to have no sense of decency these days.

For example, Todd Pettigrew just wrote a spirited defense of incest on Macleans. Not just any incest (of course!) but the gold-standard of incest: father/daughter incest, the sexy kind that gets middle-aged guys excited. All those hot-young-daughter stories on BARELY LEGAL have finally made a cultural impact, and you can almost hear the drooling. These are porn-fantasies come to life, and various men on the left can barely restrain their enthusiasm. If I were Pettigrew's daughter and I lived in his house? I'd be making plans to move. Unless I was too young to move. And then I would have nothing to worry about, needless to say, since this is all about CONSENSUAL incest; this is a defense of incest only AT THE AGE OF CONSENT. Dad only makes the moves on his daughter the DAY SHE TURNS 18. Yes, we all know that's the way it usually happens, huh? It's all very RESPECTFUL and MINDFUL OF THE AUTONOMY OF WOMEN. Sure it is.

Feminists write epistles the length of the Summa Theologica about incest and how it is an abuse of familial and patriarchal power; how it amounts to men creating and brainwashing sexual beings for their own use, and it all comes to this? Some hotshot professor (David Epstein) is busted for "having an affair" with his 20-something daughter, and well... we obviously need to rethink things. I mean, this is a COLUMBIA PROFESSOR! It MUST be okay.

After eons of redneck jokes about southerners banging their sisters and their kids, the people on Central Park West DIDN'T REALIZE that important people of the upper classes want to bang their kids too! They have just received the memo, and they are on the case. We'll have your reputation restored in no time, professor Epstein!

They are now comparing incest to homosexuality, which incidentally, is an argument I first heard from William Donahue of the Catholic League: First they'll say homos are okay and next thing you know, they will be championing incest.

Oh, don't be ridiculous, we replied.

And now, the fashionable liberals are saying just that. They are comparing same-sex peers who have attractions to each other, to someone who RAISED A CHILD to be his sex partner.

Needless to say, this is all guys excusing/defending this behavior... and this is all about David Epstein and Woody Allen and other MEN. I don't see anybody advocating moms diddling their sons (of whatever age) which I think would TERRIFY these men in a way they could not even discuss rationally. All of the examples they offer are about MEN MEN MEN... and their daughters.

Jesus H, has the Left lost all sense of morality? We have 9.8% unemployment (not nearly as sexy a story) and lefty writers are wasting valuable political net-space defending a perverted professor who can't keep it zipped around his own kid.

I figure these sicko defenses of sicko Epstein brought at least another thousand people or so over to the Tea Party side.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Lighthouse encased in ice on Lake Erie

CLEVELAND, Ohio (CNN/WKYC) - Check out this amazing sight.

You're not looking at a snow sculpture. It's actually a lighthouse encased in snow and ice.

It happened after the chilly winds moving through Cleveland blew water and snow all over the Cleveland Harbor West Pier lighthouse.

Parts of Ohio have seen more than a foot of snow in the last few days thanks to a late fall snowstorm.
I understand just how the poor lighthouse feels! And I am very glad I am not in my home state of Ohio right now--as cold as it presently is, South Carolina clearly has its advantages.

I promise I will eventually write a real post. I have so much crap piled up on my "to do" list, I haven't even had time to pay my damn car insurance. The only recreational time I've had recently, I spent watching reruns of Fight Club with Mr Daisy and eating vegetarian quesadillas from Moe's.

And what have you been doing this week? Be especially nice to your local overworked Christmas retail employee!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Retail Christmas Muzik: Merry Christmas, Everybody!

At left: Is it--? Yes it IS! It's Phil Spector as Santa Claus! Take cover!


NOTE: This is one of my favorite posts, although my blog was largely unread when I wrote it back in December of 2007, so I am rerunning it here. A very harried Christmas in retail gives me precious little time to write, so I am dipping into the Greatest Hits.

It was originally titled "You'll be doing all right, with your Christmas of white." The Slade video was yanked eons ago, so I had to hunt down another one.

Enjoy!--DD


~*~

If one is fully experiencing what a former co-worker of mine at the Open Book used to call The Zen of Retail, then one is able to detach from one's immediate surroundings and carefully observe the psychology of both Christmas and capitalism. Careful analysis of the music, which reflects the selected ambience, the projected market or target of the music, the veritable soundtrack of the season, if you will... ah, here is true yuletide wisdom!

I try to remember these wise words, every year.

As a retail wage-slave, I have been listening to lots and lots of Christmas music, against my will. Some of it barely qualifies as holiday music, unless you consider "Shake your ass for Christmas" or "Spank me for Christmas," part of your Advent repertoire, and certainly, some folks do. It's either that or a buncha damn kiddie songs, Holly Jolly Christmas, and so on. Bah, humbug! (You're a mean one, Mr Grinch.)

Sometimes, if you're lucky, you get the transcendent Charlie Brown Christmas music. Spookier this year than last year, is Frosty the Snowman, as delivered by Ronnie Spector and the Ronettes, since you know her creepy, homicidal ex-husband (see above) was standing nearby and forbidding her to leave his sight. (*Source: He's a Rebel) Maybe they should play that song at Halloween instead?

On the EZ-smooth muzak station, we hear Frank Sinatra sing his sweet version of "Oh by gosh by golly, it's time for Mistletoe and Holly"--just as smooth and nice as gravy on rice. Then we hear him later in his Vegas period: "Just! Hear! Thoooo-oooose! Sleigh Bells ringling! Jing-jing-jingling too! Jack!" and it's interesting to think about his progression from the young Sinatra to the old Sinatra... but that is way beyond the scope of this blog, or even Christmas itself.




Madonna's "Santa Baby" was xeroxed (that is to say, stolen) from the far-superior original by Eartha Kitt, but I'm sure she's cagey enough to call it a "homage" instead.

Elvis is credited with starting the pop Christmas music trend, but please, you should not BLAME him, just as he can't be held accountable for any bad rock music that followed. Elvis recorded a whole Christmas album at a time (1957) when only mainstream singers (which meant: no rock or pop) like Frank Sinatra, did. Many believed Elvis cut the record only to garner respectability, since it indeed DID bring him major respectability. Even mainstream people who disliked rock and roll bought the Christmas record, which was a sensation containing the huge hit ballad Blue Christmas. I've never believed that he did it only for respectability, but also to stake a claim that he was as good as the Frank Sinatras of the world. As for the Christian-respectability angle, it was something Elvis fell back on his whole life, making gospel records right alongside the others. (I know this because my grandmother owned them all.)

Dean Martin's "It's a Marshmallow World in the Winter" makes me think of Tony Soprano driving that poor guy out of his lakefront house by broadcasting Dean Martin 24/7 at deafening levels, from a boat on the lake. Imagine waking up to DEAN MARTIN serenading you, huh? Yes, I'd have to move, too.

I already played my Kinks Christmas song for you, and now here is my ABSOLUTE favorite Christmas pop song by glam-rock band Slade, which I defy you not to love as much as I do. Lots of Americans have never heard of Slade, believe it or not:

Slade were one of the most recognisable acts of the glam rock movement and were, at their peak, the most commercially popular band in the UK. They are well known for the deliberate misspelling of their song titles and for the song Merry Xmas Everybody (released December 1973), now one of the most iconic Christmas pop songs in the United Kingdom.
(from Foxytunes)

Turn it up!

~*~

Merry Christmas, Everybody - Slade



Look to the future now, it's only just begun.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Elizabeth Edwards 1949-2010

It should have been her, not him. She was smarter and had the fire. We all knew that.

Speechless. She meant a lot to the progressives of both North and South Carolina.

Goodbye, Elizabeth.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Thursday Funnies






From Yellowdog Granny, of course, who cracks me up all the time. :D

Go visit, she has a million of them. (I can't guarantee you won't be offended!)

Thanks so much, JackieSue!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Anthony Dellaventura 1948-2010

I don't remember our first conversation, but it was probably about Catholicism. Later, we moved on to every other subject in the universe. But in the beginning, I can remember that we were discussing health supplements and alternative medicine (he was an almost-daily customer in the store where I work), when the rather intimidating ex-NYPD cop suddenly reached out and touched the St Jude medal I was wearing.

"Patron saint of lost causes," he mused, in his heavy New York accent. Luhwust Cuhwuzzes, is how it sounded to me.

"Yeah," I agreed.

"Are you a lost cause?" his voice turned suddenly gentle, and I was caught off guard.

"Probably," I admitted.

He narrowed his eyes. "You are not. You are a very intelligent and beautiful person." He seemed to be speaking very honestly, and I was struck silent, which never happens. I was embarrassed to be complimented.

"You don't believe me," he was inspecting my face. All at once, I was aware that he had been a professional interrogator. "You believe what all these assholes say," he waved his hand around, as if to encompass the whole world (and particularly the Catholic Church) in "all these assholes" and I laughed.

He narrowed his eyes again, "Really. It isn't funny. You do. Well, don't. They dunno shit." And then he smiled. An amazing, award-winning smile.

And for a few years, Tony Dellaventura brightened my life. I saw him nearly every day. He drove an enormous custom Harley-Davidson and dressed in leather; tattooed from head to toe, able to bench-press 200 lbs at age 60, he was a striking figure. His name was Snake; the name tattooed on his throat, right above a snake. It was a long time before I knew his real name.

"Are you tattooed everywhere?" I once asked, curious.

"Every inch," he assured me. And he said he had a dragon down below, the dragon's tail becoming, well, you know.

I'm sure my eyes popped, "Didn't that hurt?!?"

"Oh hell yes," he said, matter-of-factly.

We argued about politics mostly, after it was discovered that we were in near-total opposition, yet agreed on certain libertarian basics: Let people have their guns, their dirty movies, their weed. (The mention of weed being illegal made him roll his eyes.) He particularly liked Ron Paul (as I wrote here once before), and was suitably impressed that I had gone to the Peace Center Amphitheater to hear Congressman Paul speak, even as a lefty. We would argue until we were interrupted, or until he would get thoroughly pissed off and walk away from me. But he was never rude.

Sometimes he would return later in the day, "And another thing..." and reply to what I had said earlier. He always heard me out and let me make my point, sometimes granting that I was right. It was during these conversations that I would hear references to his experiences as a cop; things he had seen that influenced his views in often surprising ways. Even as a fairly right-wing guy, he would freely admit (for instance), that gay people were unfairly targeted, since he had seen it himself so many times. And his New Yorker-honesty and bluntness always impressed me a great deal, since it was steeped in the harsh reality of what he had actually witnessed.

He ate a very healthy diet, almost fanatically so. When he told me he had pancreatic cancer, I was shocked; he seemed like Iron Man. (I knew the odds and I was upset.) And after that, Tony lost weight rapidly. He went back to New York City for treatment, then returned to South Carolina. I wanted to take his photo at one point, but he wouldn't let me, "I don't look so good right now, wait until I look a little better."

I didn't see him after that.

From Tony's obituary in the Staten Island Advance:

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Anthony (The Snake) Dellaventura, 62, of Huguenot, a lifelong Staten Islander and a retired NYPD detective and private investigator whose rough-and-tumble workdays were dramatized in the television show “Dellaventura,” died Thursday in Calvary Hospital’s hospice in Brooklyn, after a long battle with pancreatic cancer.
I have never seen the TV show named after him, but I loved knowing someone who was the subject of a TV series.

He was exactly the sort of larger-than-life personality that great TV-characters are made of.
Mr. Dellaventura joined the NYPD in 1969. After two years in uniform, he spent five and a half years as a plainclothes anti-crime officer, charged with posing as a drug dealer. Described as a “cop’s cop,” he later was assigned to the Organized Crime Control Bureau, and was promoted to detective in 1981.

A fourth-degree black belt in martial arts and a weapons expert, he had been in a shootout with a robber in the parking lot of the Staten Island Mall.

Upon his retirement in 1984, he opened his own private investigation company and was hired by attorneys trying to uncover hidden funds during divorce cases, property owners looking to rout crack-dealing squatters, and film studios who wanted to destroy bootleg copies of new releases being sold by vendors on city streets.

The secret to his success in business, he once told the Advance, is being both a good sleuth and establishing confidence and good faith with clients.

Known as “The Snake,” he told New York Magazine in a 1992 profile that his friends gave him the nickname “because of the way I strike, like a cobra. But you couldn’t pay me a million dollars to beat someone up or kill somebody.”

He also said he was willing to do anything necessary for a case, as long as it didn’t include breaking any laws. Instead, Mr. Dellaventura’s hulking physical presence and intense face — he rarely cracked a smile — were often enough to intimidate even the most hardened criminal.

Actor Danny Aiello portrayed him in the drama “Dellaventura,” which recreated some of Mr. Dellaventura’s real-life cases during its run on CBS from late 1997 until early 1998. The episodes were based on events straight out of the detective’s caselog, with details changed for confidentiality.

Mr. Dellaventura told the Advance in an interview when the show debuted that he was pleased with Mr. Aiello’s performance, noting the actor resembled him physically — minus Mr. Dellaventura’s collection of more than 240 tattoos, which would have taken a makeup artist hours to recreate.

Mr. Dellaventura also served as a bodyguard for notables including Jack Dempsey, Sid Caesar and Harry Connick, Jr.

A deeply committed, born-again Christian, he was an active member of Faith Fellowship Ministries in Sayreville N.J., and Grace Fellowship Ministries in Greer, S.C., where he had a second home.

“He was just a tremendous friend to people,” said his wife, Susan. “You could call him at 3 in the morning and he would get up and drive to California to come to your aid.”

Mr. Dellaventura’s passions were rooting for the New York Yankees, riding his Harley-Davidson through the mountains of South Carolina, boxing, and watching old movies.

Most of all, he loved spending time with his family.

Surviving, along with his wife of 20 years, the former Susan Villani, are his sons, Anthony, Philip, Nicholas and Salvatore, and his daughter, Lucianne Dellaventura.
I met Susan and Salvatore, but not the rest of his family. My thoughts and prayers are with them.

I will miss you, my friend, as well as our spirited arguments and your solemn promise that you would settle the hash of anyone who messed with me. Your wild tattoos and multicolored, humongous Harley, making all kinds of rumbly noises in the parking lot. Must be Snake, I would think.

Reflexively, I sometimes still think it's you.

There are only a few in the world like you. So few. If you have indeed found that Afterlife we so often argued about, put in a good word for your favorite Lost Cause. I love you, and we sure do miss our favorite ex-NYPD cop here in Carolina.

Rest in peace.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Monday Music: Why we build the wall

I was driving through the bleak, forgotten areas of Jim DeMint's old congressional district today; not deliberately. En route to somewhere else and got lost. Ended up in the old Greer mill village, which used to be entirely composed of poor whites, then during the 80s it was entirely poor blacks... and now it is 100% Hispanic, including all of the skimpy corner food-marts (that don't sell actual food), the hair salons, gas stations and other tiny businesses. Does Senator DeMint know all of these brown people are here? Miles and miles of them? He must know. Do they mow his lawn or launder his dress-shirts that he wears to important Tea Party events?

Obviously, from the looks of the place, he counts on them not voting.

It had grown cold and dusky, as I meandered through the extremely depressing atmosphere... when suddenly, I heard this song on WNCW... it was perfect accompaniment for what I saw everywhere, all around me. It made me cry.

An excellent introduction to the holiday season. As Ebenezer Scrooge famously asked, Are there no poorhouses?

~*~

This amazing song is from Hadestown by Anais Mitchell. I could only find this version (with two songs). "Why we build the wall" is the first, "Our Lady of the Underground" is second. "Why we build the wall" ends at approx 4:00.

You must hear it.



The first song features Greg Brown, the second, Ani DiFranco.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Have a cruelty-free Thanksgiving!

Have a great Thanksgiving everyone... and as I do every year, I hereby counsel you all to LEAVE THE INNOCENT TURKEY ALONE! He or she did not do anything to you!

(I guess the new cool thing is actually going out and killing your own turkey, like you are on Survivor or something?)

See you all in a couple of days... eat lots of mashed potatoes! :)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

What kind of magazine are you?




You Are a News Magazine



You are well informed and bright. You feel like you have to know what's going on in the world.

You are savvy and serious. You don't like a lot of fluff or filler in your life.



You are truly curious about people, ideas, and politics. You are very cosmopolitan.

You can usually explain the news to your friends and family members. You have a broad understanding of what's happening.


Reflections on Jack Ruby

Depending upon who you read, Jack Ruby was a petty strip-club gangster or an important mobster-friend of Sam Giancana.







NOTE: Last year at this time, I posted this and I've gotten a fair number of hits on it ever since. I am running it again, since it accurately captures my nostalgic feelings/memories at the end of every November. Comments welcome on both posts.


~*~


It was November 24, 1963.

I remember that I was sitting on a footstool, my nose approximately 8 inches from my family's black-and-white TV set. If I got too close, I couldn't see anything, but I was intent on getting just as close as I could. I wanted to see it all.

It was Sunday morning, and I remember well the hubbub of the adults in the kitchen. I was the only one in the small dining room that served as our TV room. I heard the TV-news announcer say that Lee Oswald was going to be transferred in an armored vehicle. I didn't know what an armored vehicle was, but it sounded awesome. And yet... that little guy? As a six-year-old, I was surprised that such a skinny little guy could be the villain of the hour. I had expected the president's assassin to look something like Brutus, the dastardly evil man of the Popeye cartoons... or at least, he should bear some resemblance to Lex Luthor. This skinny, slight, soft-spoken fellow who calmly denied being near Dealey Plaza? Well, he was just spooky, that's all. They kept calling him a Marxist and a communist, words I didn't yet understand but knew meant that he was a bad person. (I would say the word "communist" in 1963 had the similar gravitas of the word "terrorist" in 2009.) I was enthralled by the constant TV-coverage, the switching back and forth from Dallas to Washington... to our new president, Lyndon Johnson and then back to the basement of Dallas city jail. It was as dazzling as space travel.

Middle-American culture had changed utterly and completely in only two days.

For one thing, the TV had not always been on before. You turned on the TV to watch something, and when it was over, you turned it off. Sometimes you left it on, but usually not. Among the working classes, it was not unusual for some families not to own a TV at all. There were often anti-TV holdouts in these families; cantankerous, old-school types who thought TV was all rubbish and probably unchristian. But after this weekend? This archaic viewpoint was consigned to the dustbin of history. Back in my first-grade class, I would hear about parents who had rushed out to buy a TV at long last. They simply could not bear to be left out.

The TV had been turned on, and stayed on. It was on when I got home from school, dismissed early due to the tragedy, and it was on throughout the funeral. And it stayed on forever after.

And the TV was on as they transferred Lee Oswald to the armored vehicle, or attempted to. There was much talk about security because tensions were running extremely high; there was palpable fury throughout the city of Dallas. When police had forcibly taken Oswald from the theater where they had discovered him, hostile mobs surrounded the police car, and it was said he might have been torn to pieces if the crowd had been able to get their hands on him.

Listening to all this, I was riveted. I remember peering intently as they brought him out, my nose almost right on the screen: There he is!

And then, the inevitable disappointment: such a nonthreatening little dude he was.

I peered and peered and then... bang. Oswald was down.

What?

It was so quick. If not for the firecracker-noise of the gun, I would never have known.

"They shot him!" I shouted, "They shot Oswald! They shot him!"

The adults stampeded as one entity, from the kitchen to the small dining room where I was. My mother, grandparents, some other relatives I have since forgotten... possibly my cousin Charlene.

"I SAW it!" I was shouting, "I SAW IT!"

SSSSSSSssssssshhhhhhhh! Everyone was shushing me. Had I really seen that? The adults' eyes were collectively popping. I felt pretty important for being the one to see it.

"He must be really mad about the president, huh?" I asked.

Nobody answered. They kept shushing me, as obviously-shaken news-announcers talked about what they had just witnessed.

And then, the adults were all looking at each other, that way adults did when they were thinking things that they would not share with children.

Finally, my grandfather said, in what I have come to call his Christian Science Wisdom voice: "Well, that really stinks."

My mother's eyes were wide, wide, wide.

My grandfather shook his head and said "Stinks!" again, rather emphatically. My mother nodded gravely back at him.

I didn't know what he meant then.

The TV-announcers were saying his name: Jack Ruby. The man's name was Jack Ruby.

~*~

Like millions of Americans that day, I saw a murder on live television. Because the murder was widely perceived as an act of justice, nobody worried about the ill effects on all of us children who saw it. And later, many years and decades later, when we began to doubt that what we saw was justice and instead wondered if it had been the silencing of a co-conspirator... nobody worried about the erosion of our morality and the consequential development of our cynicism.

But I trace it all back to that day, the day in the basement of the Dallas city jail.

They ask us, do you remember where you were when John F. Kennedy was assassinated? But I always ask, instead: What did you think when his accused murderer was pronounced dead? Because the silencing began then, the questions asked that will forever remain unanswered. (As Norman Mailer once explained the existence of the angry kids of the 60s: They hated the authority because the authority had lied.)

My grandfather was right. It certainly did stink. And the stench covered everything.

The lies of the powerful were uncovered and exposed before us, that morning in the basement of the Dallas city jail.

Some of us never forgot.

Monday, November 22, 2010

American Electra by Susan Faludi

The funniest aspect of the mass internet-responses to Susan Faludi's much-discussed HARPER'S article, is that young women already run the joint. Therefore, when blogs like Feministing authoritatively announce:

We mulled over how to respond most effectively here at Feministing, and have decided to publish a week-long series of responses from a diversity of young voices in our community
Say whaat?

Um, isn't that who ALWAYS writes for Feministing? How is this any different from business-as-usual? They write as if this week-long special event is somehow different from the norm, and of course, it isn't, which is the hilarity.

In truth, "a diversity of YOUNG voices" (emphasis mine) is the typical demographic for ALL of the Big Feminist Blogs. The fact that a tiny middle-aged squawk over at HARPER'S (a magazine you have to BUY to read; it isn't online for everyone's perusal and I still haven't read the whole damn article) can create such a fuss, is telling.

I long ago unsubscribed to HARPER'S, after their Andrea Dworkin hit-piece, which I didn't like (see comments here). However, Susan Faludi commands widespread respect, even from young feminists. She is likely the primary reason for the overarching concern this time; even Amanda Marcotte, major Youthquaker, notes that she was eager to read Faludi's account. (For my part, I have been howling non-stop about ageism within feminism since my arrival in Feminist Blogdonia in 2007... nobody cares, and in fact, I am usually shown the door for bringing it up.)

What is immediately striking is how this mass counter-attack would not happen regarding any other form of discrimination, except (as we have seen numerous times) for fat. I very much doubt that if this was an account about racism in feminism by Alice Walker (and she did write one), the response would be, "to present a diversity of white voices in our community." (Or would it?)

Yes, it is the same.

Maybe worse, since Faludi outlines the incontrovertible facts: Second Wave feminism gave birth to the Third Wave, and this feud tends to imitate the elements of a mother-daughter fracas. Since that's what it is. Basically, many Third-wavers are spitting in their feminist foremother's faces. Faludi writes: "The contemporary women’s movement seems fated to fight a war on two fronts: alongside the battle of the sexes rages the battle of the ages."

Yep. (NOTE: Sorry I can't provide "a diversity of older voices" to reply along with me, but there are EXCEEDINGLY FEW of us online... and the Third-wavers have banished even those few, in favor of young folks talking endlessly about Lady Gaga. Thus, it is very difficult for us to even find each other.)

I still can't find the entire text of Faludi's piece, so if you can find one online, please link here. But here are some excerpts from what is currently posted:
Why does so much of “new” feminist activism and scholarship spurn the work and ideas of the generation that came before? As ungracious as these attitudes may seem, they are grounded in a sad reality: while American feminism has long, and productively, concentrated on getting men to give women some of the power they used to give only to their sons, it hasn’t figured out how to pass power down from woman to woman, to bequeath authority to its progeny.
...
I’ve been to a feminist “mother-daughter dinner party” where the feel-good bonding degenerated into a cross fire of complaint and recrimination, with younger women declaring themselves sick to death of hearing about the glory days of Seventies feminism and older women declaring themselves sick to death of being swept into the dustbin of history. I’ve been to a feminist conclave convened to discuss the intergenerational question where no young women were invited. After the group spent hours bemoaning the younger generation’s putative preference for a sexed-up “girly girl” liberation, one participant suggested asking an actual young woman to the next meeting—and was promptly shot down. I’ve delivered speeches on the state of women’s rights to college audiences whose follow-up comments concerned mostly the liberating potential of miniskirts and stripping, their elders’ cluelessness about sex and fashion, and the need to distance themselves from an older, “stodgy” feminism.
Gee, she sighed, I wonder why no young women were invited? (I can't imagine.)

Interestingly, Faludi uses the word "handicapped"--the type of old-fashioned term that makes young women (and me too, and I am older than Faludi) wince. (I wonder how often our language-choices 'mark' us as older, online?) She writes at length about the stylistic differences in Second and Third Wave feminists, and I suddenly remember my recent post in which I exhorted women to sass back to fatophobic doctors, advice that came almost verbatim from early issues of Ms. magazine, as well as Our Bodies Our Selves. I was lambasted for expressing disgust that women so often act like victims, instead of paying customers, which we are. This is the kind of thing that got me lauded (as a writer) in the 70s, but now, I get excoriated for saying the exact same things.

How radically have our sensibilities changed, that what I say can be taken (by my generation) as a praiseworthy goal, but by the young women as somehow insulting?

Faludi writes about the recent NOW [National Organization for Women] presidential election:
The candidate who seemed to be in the lead was thirty-three-year-old Latifa Lyles, a charismatic speaker attuned to a youthful sensibility, a black woman who insisted on a more diverse constituency, a technologically savvy strategist who had doubled the organization’s Internet fund-raising and engaged the enthusiasm of a host of feminist bloggers. A feminist activist since she was sixteen—when she told her mother she was going on a “school trip” and ran off to the 1992 reproductive-rights demonstration in Washington, D.C.—Lyles had worked her way up the ranks in NOW, from chapter leader to national board member to youngest-ever national officer. She had spent the last four years as national vice president for membership under [Kim] Gandy, who championed Lyles as her successor. “It’s hard to ignore the fact there’s been a generational shift in this country, and an organization that doesn’t recognize that is living in the past,” Gandy declared. “Latifa’s youth is not a detriment but an advantage. She’ll take NOW to a different level.”

“I never paid attention to a NOW election in my life until I knew Latifa was running,” Jessica Valenti, the founder of Feministing.com, a leading young feminist website, told the Associated Press. “This could be the moment where NOW becomes super-relevant to the feminist movement again.”
What kind of Major American Feminist isn't paying attention to the NOW election? I had no idea you could be a Big Feminist Blogger and Big Feminist Author and not care about NOW. (shows what I know)

If anyone wants to know what's wrong with modern feminism, doesn't that sum the whole thing up in a nutshell? The young women don't give a shit about NOW, unless the prez is a young hipster like themselves. Can we be forgiven for thinking they might not be too serious?
The preoccupations of the younger side of the generational divide were on rampant display the next afternoon at the young feminist workshop, which included tips on how to recruit other young women (do not use the NOW logo when advertising your event) and a prep session on Twitter marketing, led by a young woman in stiletto heels—along with tirades on the transgressions of NOW’s elders, people “so grumpy and crotchety that as a young woman, you come into that meeting, you’re like, ‘I’m never coming back here.’ ” “Many a time I’d hear, ‘Oh, why are you wearing high heels? We fought for so long not to have you wear those high heels!’ ” “I’ve been in meetings where Seventies-ish women say to me, ‘Oh, we’re so glad to have some young blood!’ It’s creepy, and we don’t like it.”
Do not use the NOW logo?!?

(They won't use the NOW logo, but I betcha they DO take those extra salaries, birth control pills and legal abortions that NOW secured for them.)

Lord have mercy, what a lousy state of affairs this is.

One young feminist I respect a great deal, because I know she heartily works for the Forces of Good, is Natalia Antonova, who wrote:
Inter-generational conflict always exists, and it affects way more than simply mainstream American feminism. Faludi’s assertion though that there is a “nightmare of dysfunction” within American feminism is, well… funny. For me, “nightmare” relates more to systemic exclusion of trans people. Or, say, how the concerns of those who are not middle-class and don’t get invited to sit on panels can easily get lost in the shuffle. Is that too much theory, perhaps? Theory, of course, is another thing that Faludi says that younger feminists are too preoccupied with.
Indeed, I have to say that bringing THEORY into the mix is something I genuinely appreciate about the youngsters. Recently, when I commented on another blog that [Bourgeois Feminist] didn't speak for me as a working class woman ... well, they heard me. They got it. I admit, older feminists often didn't, and still don't. They still don't understand why we all didn't vote for Hillary.

So maybe I wouldn't like the whole article, even as I enjoy the relatively cheap shots that I have quoted here. Maybe I'll even get to read it one of these days.

In the meantime, I am very pleased with my own daughter, as Jessica Valenti is proud of her own mother. Maybe that is key. Generalizations are one thing, and I can relate to them. But how do we really feel?

I am personally proud of young feminists when they stand up to patriarchy (pardon old-fogie terminology) and pave their own way... and that will never change.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Shannon Hoover Trio

A lovely afternoon of beautiful jazz fusion with the Shannon Hoover Trio at Horizon Records.

Yes, I notice four musicians (count em, four), rather than three. So maybe a quartet? Actually, several folks were preparing to sit in, so I guess an impromptu jam session. Very nice, and somehow just perfect for Autumn.

~*~

We are approaching the busiest time of year for retail employees, so I apologize if my appearance at the blog becomes a bit spotty. I just finished a VERY LONG week; we have one worker out on maternity leave, and I picked up the slack like a (very exhausted) trooper. It was so nice to relax with some good music today.

Thanks Shannon and compatriots!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Just like heaven

It really is!

~*~

Just Like Heaven - The Cure

Friday, November 12, 2010

Classmates.com is major scam

Classmates.com just automatically charged me a renewal fee of $39.00. I did not ask for a renewal. I do not want a renewal.

Background: I did not attend my 35th high school reunion last July, but I did avail myself of the bargain-priced $9.95 Classmates membership that came with my reunion notification. (This is what I think Classmates.com is worth.) I used it for maybe 3 days. I did find some people I was looking for, which was my intention. (HI FRIENDS!) I paid the fee. End of story.

Ha. Not in our digital-rip-off age.

I saw the pesky, unasked-for renewal-fee, after it showed up on my September credit-card statement. I protested to my credit-card company, who duly took down the information. I called Classmates.com, for which I was only given a long-distance phone number, no 1-800 toll-free number, so I was already pissed.

Classmates puts you on hold (as the expensive meter runs, depending on your particular long-distance service), whilst you listen to the theme of The Breakfast Club, "Don't you forget about me"--over and over and over. Unfortunately, they never even let the whole damn song play, they interrupt it at various junctures to insert obnoxious and contrived sales propaganda. They claim 40 million members, for instance, and one can't help but think that at least half of them were hoodwinked into membership, just as I was.

As the Breakfast Club music plays, various voice-overs tell you little just-so stories about couples who broke up in grade school and have reunited decades later, all due to the wonderfulness of Classmates.com. The testimonial tells you they are GETTING MARRIED!!!! Now, how cute is that?

Finally, after listening to the same marriage story about 3 times, I got Jules. Employee number 4379, something like that. Jules stonewalled very well and I would give her a big fat 10 on her monthly quality review. When I got tired of the stonewalling, I asked for her last name, which she would not give. (We always had to, when I was in customer service; no bullshit "employee numbers"--which can be easily changed to cover one's ass.) When I asked for her supervisor, she claimed to have no supervisor for me to speak to. (Again, at my old job, protocol was immediate: you turned the call over to what was called a "coach"--not a real supervisor, but good enough for customers.) Classmates doesn't have any such protocol, obviously. No supervisor?

I told her it must be nice not to have a supervisor, what a cool job.

Jules sighed, "I do not have one AVAILABLE," she clarified.

"I can wait until one is available," I said, conscious that my long-distance charges will easily equal the $39, at this sorry-assed rate.

Jules said the supervisors call people back in the order the calls are received.

Ohhh, I bet they do. (Note: they haven't.)

I gave her my information. I shall be old and gray (older and grayer) by the time I hear back from Classmates, no question about it.

AVOID, folks, with all your might. I just found this from the New York Observer; which was published in August. Too late for me to have seen a year ago, but I certainly wish I had:

Ever visited a shady section of the internet, been presented with a popup from a certain company and wondered to yourself, "What does she look like now?" Don't take them up on their offer to show you! Classmates.com is officially a scam.

Andrew Cuomo, clearly going after the big guns in his last few months as attorney general, announced today that Classmates.com was among a group of six websites that will collectively pay $10.1 million in refunds and fines for defrauding customers with hidden fees.
And all I want is my $39 back!!!!

This story is still developing, as the big bloggers say. Meanwhile, I can at least warn the rest of you.

PS to Classmates: Facebook is free, did yall know that? Must be some pretty stiff competition, hm?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Can you imagine how *I* feel about it, Dmitri?

You know how we've always talked about the possibility of something going wrong with the Bomb? The Bomb, Dmitri... The hydrogen bomb!... Well now, what happened is... ahm... one of our base commanders, he had a sort of... well, he went a little funny in the head... you know... just a little... funny. And, ah... he went and did a silly thing... Well, I'll tell you what he did. He ordered his planes... to attack your country... Ah... Well, let me finish, Dmitri... Let me finish, Dmitri... Well listen, how do you think I feel about it?... Can you imagine how I feel about it, Dmitri?... Why do you think I'm calling you? Just to say hello?... Of course I like to speak to you!... Of course I like to say hello!... Not now, but anytime, Dmitri. I'm just calling up to tell you something terrible has happened... It's a friendly call. Of course it's a friendly call... Listen, if it wasn't friendly... you probably wouldn't have even got it... They will not reach their targets for at least another hour... I am... I am positive, Dmitri... Listen, I've been all over this with your ambassador. It is not a trick... Well, I'll tell you. We'd like to give your air staff a complete run-down on the targets, the flight plans, and the defensive systems of the planes... Yes! I mean i-i-i-if we're unable to recall the planes, then... I'd say that, ah... well, ah... we're just gonna have to help you destroy them, Dmitri... I know they're our boys... All right, well listen now. Who should we call?... Who should we call, Dmitri? The... wha-whe, the People... you, sorry, you faded away there... The People's Central Air Defense Headquarters... Where is that, Dmitri?... In Omsk... Right... Yes... Oh, you'll call them first, will you?... Uh-huh... Listen, do you happen to have the phone number on you, Dmitri?... Whe-ah, what? I see, just ask for Omsk information... Ah-ah-eh-uhm-hm... I'm sorry, too, Dmitri... I'm very sorry... All right, you're sorrier than I am, but I am as sorry as well... I am as sorry as you are, Dmitri! Don't say that you're more sorry than I am, because I'm capable of being just as sorry as you are... So we're both sorry, all right?... All right.

~*~

Don't miss Dr Strangelove on Turner Classic Movies tonight. (Above dialogue by Terry Southern, whom I coincidentally mentioned here at DEAD AIR a few days ago.)

In Stanley Kubrick's now-classic anti-war film, the amazing Peter Sellers plays three different roles (with three different accents). He was so great, lots of people who never check movie credits do not even realize the three roles are played by same person. (Captain Mandrake, President Merkin Muffley, Dr Strangelove) Many British actors find it nearly impossible to deliver a realistic-sounding flat-US-Midwestern accent (by contrast, southern accents are "fun" to do), but Sellers could do anything. His placid President is just perfect.

Slim Pickens, Sterling Hayden and George C. Scott are also terrific. The movie largely defies description, and every peacenik should see it multiple times! (And everyone else too, of course.)

~*~

I am still deliberating over last week's election (Dr Strangelove is perfect accompaniment), and sorting through all the post-mortems, teeth-gnashing and hand-wringing.

Some links I found especially pertinent and interesting:

Terrance at Republic of T has an in-depth four-part series titled The GOP’s Pyrrhic Victory: Why It Won’t Work. (I certainly hope he's right!) Read em all!

Check out Glenn Greenwald's The self-absorption of America's ruling class. And as Greenwald notes (see link), my Senator (and not the one you expect!) is now itching to start a war with Iran. (Saints preserve us.)

By way of fabulous Onyx Lynx (blows kisses!), I found Glenn W. Smith's post, rationally titled Why the Fear and Loathing? Excellent question.

Amanda Marcotte spins the election for the Guardian and I am not convinced. She seems to think the conservative Tea Party women did not do so well... apparently she hasn't visited South Carolina lately. If you had informed me even two years ago, that South Carolina would have a Woman of Color as governor in my lifetime? I'd have laughed at you.

This IS a sea change in politics, and the more liberals try to deny this, the longer the Tea Party will reign.

WAKE UP EVERYBODY, no more sleeping in bed.