Saturday, October 27, 2007

Once Again I Honor the Most Poorly Named Event In the Blogosphere

It is with great trepidation that I promise to (again) blog everyday in November despite the fact that I require an average of 8 hours of staring at a blinking cursor to come up with anything blog-worthy. It is possible that I am too hard on myself when it comes to my writing. (It is also possible that the ocean has a lot of water and that eating an entire Riter Sport bar for breakfast everyday is bad for you -- it's a big world full of infinite possibilities.) The lesson that I hope to learn this month is that mediocrity is often just fine. But in addition to so-so posts (likely about what I cooked last night) you can also look forward to the following:

  1. Sandra Lee is crazy like a dog addicted to laser pointer part 2 (Part 1)
  2. I finally get around to making root beer (story likely to be followed by the irresistible follow-up post “I finally get around to eating (drinking?) 15 root beer floats and gaining 75lbs”)
  3. Reader Suggestions! Since I’m out of ideas it’s time to steal yours – post a topic in the comments and I promise to write about it in the month of November (one suggestion per customer offer void in Bowling Green Kentucky – I promise that there are no ideas worth writing about living in that city).

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Tomorrow at 3:00pm in Uranus...

We have nine conference rooms at my office and through the powers of uncreative thinking and laziness all nine are named after planets in the solar system (well, 8 planets and one very ambitious asteroid which I personally tried to have renamed "The planet formerly known as Pluto" complete with a confusing petroglyph but no one took the bait). Upon moving into the new office last May the cool kids tried very hard to avert this disastrous first step from cool tech company into the land of polite smiles, water cooler chit chat and sensible shoes, but alas, we failed (though the resistance movement has so far been able to sustain our general cool or at least the super charged denial that allows computer nerds the world over to continue to believe that the geeks finally have inherited the earth.).

I might have been able to abide this boring naming structure if even a little bit of effort was made to sensibly assign planets to rooms but sadly the logic used to name each room resides snuggly in a reality where Copernican astronomy never really caught on (who knew my office was located inside the bowls of some fundamentalist church). To recreate this elegant system at your own office simply follow these steps:

  1. The biggest conference room should be called Earth
  2. All other conference rooms should be named in reference to their distance from the center of the universe (aka Earth). (If you don’t have any idea how far a planet is from Earth just remember that both business and science love a creative guess!)

Along with the never ending hilarity of scheduling meetings in Uranus this naming structure leads to such ridiculousness as the smallest conference room being named after Neptune and a pronounced lack of rings around Saturn. This sort of inconsistency is exactly the kind of chaos that causes mild mannered left brained freaks like me to lose their minds.

The company would likely be saddened to know the number of working hours that I have lost to thoughts of how these rooms could be reordered or renamed in a fashion that more accurately represents the actual solar system. But even more distressing is how the influence of this broken system has turned me stupid. Last Wednesday, after wasting at least 10 minutes sitting alone in a conference room waiting for the other meeting attendees to show up, I discovered that my subconscious is so committed to righting this system that it has managed to override both memory and the desire not to look like an idiot in front of my coworkers. For proof of how the company’s disregard for astronomy has lead directly to my social and mental downfall see the following conversation:

Setting: Instant Messenger

Bri: Are we having this damn meeting? Because I’m sitting in Venus all alone.

Coworker: No you’re not.

30 second pause

Bri: oh…. Right… I’m in Mars.

While I was in transit from Mars to Venus (not passing Earth NOR collecting any space dust on the way but it should be noted that while rocketing along I did fall through some sort of wormhole that caused me to briefly fly by Saturn) this little vignette was, of course, read aloud to all meeting attendees. Ok, yes, I have worked in this office for 1.5 years. Yes, I should have completely internalized the conference room locations by now. BUT I was in a meeting in Earth right before the scheduled rendezvous in Venus and I thought to myself “oh, perfect, Venus is right next to Earth, NO PROBLEM.”


Thursday, October 18, 2007

R*nd*m Acc*ss B*bble (Radio Edit)

People often confuse me with Snoop Dogg. I never quite know which of our many shared traits to blame for these gaffs (I’ve always just assumed it was the way bitches are drawn to both of us like stoner moths to the flame of a sweet doobie) but one cross that we are both forced to bare is the inability of the mass media to handle our art in its most hardcore and raw form. And so, when the Fordham NPR affiliate, WFUV, asked me to record my NYC Supermarket’s blog post for their Cityscape program I knew there was bound to be some censoring to create a more “radio friendly” version of my emotional outpouring. That's just the way those wanksters roll. That sanitized version of the post will air this Saturday at 7:30 am, you can be outraged in real time by listening online here but we all know that you and Snoop will both still be passed out at that hour so why not come to terms with your own limitations and subscribe to the Cityscape podcast?

The episode is now up in the archive -- go listen!


Monday, October 15, 2007


As a good little Nintendo fangirl I’ve wanted a Wii for almost a year now but I’ve been self-righteously refusing to camp out on street corners, scour the black market or break into the houses of people willing to do such things and so have remained wii-less. While laziness played a part in my resistance I was also denying myself access to sweet Nintendo action as protest of the ridiculously bad system currently in place for procuring the white box of awesomeness. I’m going to assume that most of my readers are not on the cutting edge of video game platform procurement so let me catch you up on the “getting a Wii” process.

  1. Think to yourself “Self, Super Mario Galaxy comes out in a month and you love Mario so much that you sometimes get a little giddy when your sink clogs. You should order a Wii, surely those silly shortages have been solved by now, after all, the product has been out for a year!”
  2. Visit all online retailers only to be greeting with a myriad of creatively designed “sold out” images (empty wooden pallet, empty box, cruel mocking sad face, etc).
  3. Curse your stupidity for listening to that stupid “self” person, she is never right!
  4. Subscribe to multiple Wii search tools all of which kindly inform you on a regular basis that you are SOL.
  5. Consider getting up extra early on Wednesday to visit the Nintendo World store on the rumor that they receive new stock first thing Wednesday mornings.
  6. Whine on your blog

One of the charming quirks that I’ve developed through working in software for 7.5 years is the tendency to constantly note the poor UI design of life. For those of you who have thought “hmmm the designer of this life? AWESOMELY INTELLIGENT.” I present the following list of life features that have some serious bugs.

  1. Babies
  2. Traffic
  3. My hair
  4. Dating
  5. Shopping for a Wii

Thankfully some of these glitches can be fixed without the help of a higher power and I encourage the rest of you to get on that shit – I don’t have to act because I am super busy fixing all of your damn software (and I offer one big special in advance thank you bug fix to whoever fixes dating cause that system is CRAP). Thank me in the comments.

But back to Nintendo. In 2007 people should not have to hunt down products a year after they’re released. It is Nintendo’s job to provide me with an easy way to buy their products. It is my job to give them money. (see: capitalism). I believe they also have this crazy system in Japan so the distribution department over at Nintendo has no excuse for sitting around eating fish flavored ice cream and reading disturbing comic books involving panty-less preteens and giant sea creatures while store shelves idle on empty. Of course there is one other possible group of people to stereotypically assign blame to. I’m sure that by now (after reading “Wii” a dozen time) you’ve noticed that “Wii” is the same thing as “WII” which stands for World War Two which caused a lot of shortages which lead to rationing of goods. And now I can’t get a Wii. Coincidence? Impossible. I think we may be able to officially blame the Nazi’s for this bullshit.

Friday, October 12, 2007

My Allies Have Turned On Me

I love Netflix. I love my ridiculously long queue of movies and tv shows. I love prioritizing this list so that all of the homework movies that I feel like I should watch but that I secretly think sound kind of boring are at the bottom (The Fog of War – I’m talking to you.) and things like the documentary on Tammy Faye Baker and the third season of Smallville and are located in positions 1 and 2. I especially love not having to enter the evil den of disappointment that is Blockbuster (the parallel universe where “new release” means “not more than 5 years old” and “cashier” means “just doing our part to provide jobs for the mentally challenged”). So you can imagine my sadness when NetFlix stopped working.

Despite my obvious love for the internet I’m a huge fan of snail mail and the US Postal Service in general – I even like the postal service in NY despite the fact that they refuse to pick up mail for delivery at my house like every other postal service in the country. I assume that the mail carriers in New York were granted some sort of exception as a trade off for having to walk everywhere while other mailmen leisurely cruise the street in their right side driving mail trucks (driving on the right side is such a boon when it comes to leaning out the window to pick up babes) and I’m ok with that (sort of). Sadly, this love has now soured and shriveled up and is all but dead.

My last interaction with the Netflix was an evening curled up on my couch post Costa Rican vacation with a copy of “Fred Rogers: America's Favorite Neighbor.” I happily regressed to age five to sniffle over the death of his pet goldfish and got choked up like only an adult on the cusp of middle age can when the movie reminded me that the gold fish death was 20 odd years ago and perhaps a 29 year old women should have better things to do on a Wednesday night than lovingly devour a Jello pudding cup while replying to work emails. Luckily, I had the Netflix movie to help me remain in denial about such things.

Well no more, in the last three Netflix-less weeks I’ve been left with ample time to get in touch with reality. I can no longer pretend that the US Postal service is my BFF nor that Netflix is going to be my rock in crises to come. Ever since I returned Mr. Rogers Netflix movies no longer make it to my mailbox. I’ve called to confirm that yes, they are sending to my correct address. They’re also getting my movie returned to them which rules out a DVD thief and triggers one of those cheerful little email announcements that, -- oh yes -- “The Outsiders” and “Friday Night Lights Disc 2” have been dropped in the mail just for me, but what was once a foreshadowing of delight to come has morphed into a cruel taunting of what could have been. “Hey Brianna, you could be looking forward to greasers and some hot teenage butts in football pants but instead you’ll just be staring at an empty mailbox for the next 4 days!”

This no Netflix state of affairs continued in my mailbox for a month but came to an abrupt end today! When I suddenly received a Netflix movie the elation I felt at the possibility that maybe the problem done fixed itself lasted until later in the day when I received a phone message from Verizon letting me know that the last bill they sent me was returned to sender. Oh US Postal Service how you taunt me.

The most troubling aspect of this problem is exactly how helpless I am, and really how helpless we all are, to do anything should sleet or snow or the hand of god deter the mail in its journey from point A to my house. I’ve left a note for my mailman (which I found tossed aside on my porch…) and filed a complaint with the Post Office but neither of these efforts has resulted in movies or bill or letters (I just KNOW that Ben and Jerry took this month to ask me to be an official spokesperson) reliably showing up at my house. I have no idea what my next steps should be. This experience has brought into focus just how blindly I rely on the mail. It is likely a testament to how well the postal system works that we as a nation haven’t seen fit to implement a snail mail back up plan but that ain’t helping me implement my Friday night backup plan of thai food and a movie.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

In Defence of Country Music

“I like all kinds of music! Well… except for country.’
– Every indie hipster kid on the planet.

I like country music. It feels like that statement should be followed with “its been 29 years since my last confession” or an announcement that I’m ready to enter a treatment program but you will read neither in this post. I may be biased by my upbringing (see: On My Love For Cowboys) but I believe that the 20-something upper middle class mopey bunch of bespeckled converse wearing kids that I call peers are in denial about country music. When it’s poppy and silly they call it rockabilly. Sweet and slow becomes folk. Edgy and loud is filed under americana. They pretend not to hear the twang. But good country music is still country music. And the hipster kids are wrong -- it’s often pretty awesome, and you may already like it.

This post isn’t about an easy to justify love for alternative country or the old stalwarts (though rest assured that I have plenty of love for the Old 97s and Loretta Lynn). This is about the modern, played on the radio, listen to by millions of folks in states much redder than your own country music. This is about the America that the hipsters (myself included) have often deemed themselves too good for. I worry about just how often “oh god I hate country!” really means “I’m better than everyone in Alabama.” I understand where the egotism comes from -- I know that country music has committed a lot of sins --but in addition to making us big jerks this snobbery is also causing us to miss out on a lot of really good music. Personally I doubt the ego boost is really worth it.

Sadly, finding worth listening to music from Nashville is often more difficult than getting people to comment on this blog (seriously people, step up). Radio stations seem insistent on playing lazy songs about how sad it is when cute widdle babies die, and heroes being awesome, and America kicking some ass. When music is great it is built on conflict, it causes a stir, it leaves people wondering. Everyone already loves babies and we all know that war isn’t an old western about heroes versus villains. Such songs seem trite because they are and I am no advocate for these subgenres but just as the entire catalog of rock music should not be represented by KISS, Toby Keith is not the only face of country (though really Toby shouldn’t be completely banned as the wonder of “I Should Have Been a Cowboy” and the bravado of “How Do You Like Me Now?” probably make up for the awfulness of “Courtesy of the Red White and Blue” even if that is the single worst song in the history of the entire planet). Country music is the auditory equivalent of science fiction novels. The abundance of crap on the shelves often makes it all but impossible for the gems to shine through, but the diamonds are out there in hiding, I promise.

The emo punk kids who wallow in songs about broken love and drug addiction should be the first to make an appointment to check out the blue collar side of sad. The Promise Ring ain’t got nothing on Merle, George and Lyle and while I’m being honest – they don’t have much on Garth Brooks either. Country music has perfected pain and passion and it has gotten me through many a bad breakup. While country has a reputation for being simplistic and trite the break up songs are complex and bittersweet, there’s a general recognition that love is hard and even though we all try not to fuck it up, we usually fail. On the flip side the happy lovey-dovey songs are exuberant and full of silver linings that make you want to fall into love as soon as possible. Country music, when it’s not formulaic, has great lyrics and we all know that hipsters love a good turn of phrase.

I did a lot of research for this post in the form of sitting on my couch in my underwear watching CMT. I highly recommend this activity because not only will it provide an opportunity to familiarize yourself with the modern offers of popular country music but CMT is also kind of awesome. In addition to being the home for “Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders: Making the Team” they also frequently broadcast a Fruit of the Loom commercial featuring a scene where the guy dressed as a bunch of grapes rests on the back end of a cowboy’s saddle, holding him up, supporting him, doing everything but reaching around to cup his balls. That’s some reliable underwear. I also witnessed a true winner of a video for the song “(I’m So Much Cooler) Online” which features one Jason Alexander playing a sci fi geek pretending to be a hot country music star on myspace (also making cameos are William Shatner and the former Marsha Brady as Jason's love interest). Say what you want about country music but you do not get this kind of quality programming on MTV.

I know I’m not particularly likely to change a lot of minds with this post (god knows if someone pleaded with me to give hard core rap a chance they’d have a lot of eye rolling on their hands) but those of you who feel secure enough in your coolness to take on some fiddles should get to work on the following playlist.

Brianna’s Essential List of Must Listen Popular Country

Nobody Knows Me – Lyle Lovett

Everything I Love is Killing Me – Alan Jackson

Suds in the Bucket – Sara Evans

I Can Still Make CheyenneGeorge Strait

There is no Arizona – Jaime O’Neal

She’s Every Woman – Garth Brooks

Mama He’s Crazy – The Judds

Sin Wagon – The Dixie Chicks

Third Party Resources
Country music is often not not included in music education, but it's important just the same! Kids often care more about arts and crafts than musical history, but country music is a big part of US history and it's important to embrace that part of our culture, too!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

For All Your Halloween Shopping Needs

As we all know Halloween is the holiday when we as a nation honor the slut in all her many forms. This year costume retailers are happy to once again offer a wide variety of vaguely inappropriate skin baring ensembles so that the whore in each of us can come out and show the world her ass. But only this web site (that I know of) is offering a review of the best costume options for your inner tramp.

Sexy Nun

Nothing says pagan holiday like a little pissing off the Catholics. And nothing says "vow breaking former bride of Christ" like a swath of exposed upper arm.

Touch Me Teddy

Everyone loves a costume that congers images of furry orgies. When you dress up as “Touch Me Teddy” you exude an air of mystery that will have all of your friends wondering if they should revoke that invite to Thanks Giving. It’ll all be worth it though when you’re the life of the party, after all not only does this costume have this season hot above the elbow armline but everyone knows that all men secretly fantasize about teddy bears.

Raspberry/Blueberry Girl

Proving that even the incredibly uncreative can still dress up like a skank for Halloween! Who needs an actual costume when you have thigh highs?

Techie Becky

“You will love her software and the way she de-fragments your hard drive!”

I like to think that this is how everyone from high school remembers me.

Sadly, even with all of these awesome options on the market, yours truly still hasn’t settled on a costume idea – I may never top last year’s light up jellyfish.