Bill, funny stories, humor, love, marriage, movies, nostalgia, videos, YouTube

From the horrifying womb of Teen Steam, a new private joke is born!

Regular readers may have noticed that yesterday, just before I wrote about Bill’s needless alarm over Friday’s phone call, I reposted my review of Alyssa Milano’s embarrassing 1988 era exercise video, Teen Steam. I reposted that review because I originally wrote it for the now defunct review site, Epinions.com, and had reposted it on my dying music blog, Dungeon of the Past. Some of my most faithful readers are folks I “met” (in person in a few cases) on that site. I like to preserve my old Epinions reviews whenever I can. As I’m getting close to the $100 in ad revenue I need to cash out on AdSense, I’m thinking about discontinuing my music blog. If I end up doing that, it might mean some of the most popular and personally amusing posts will get rehomed on this blog. I do like writing about music, but I don’t have the desire to update that blog often enough to keep it going. Plus, I simply don’t like writing on Blogger anymore.

Reposting the video again, for those who don’t want to read my old Epinions review.

As I was reposting that review, I watched bits of Alyssa’s godawful Teen Steam video again. I hadn’t seen it in a long time. Indeed, I initially wrote that review in 2009, and while I probably looked at the video again when I reposted it on Dungeon of the Past, I had forgotten how absolutely and shamelessly rotten it is. It’s an exercise video directed at teenaged or prepubescent girls, put out at a time when Alyssa Milano was starring on Who’s the Boss with Judith Light and Tony Danza. Besides being in movies and starring on TV shows, Alyssa Milano also had a burgeoning pop music career in Japan. Obviously, she was striking while the iron was hot, as when she was a teenager, Alyssa Milano was absolutely beautiful. Or, at least I think so… and I say that as an objective, heterosexual female who doesn’t have aspirations of having sexual relations with other females.

I took a fresh look at the Amazon reviews for Teen Steam, and I quickly noticed some of the comments were not coming from the video’s intended audience. I distinctly remember back in 2009, when I originally wrote the Epinions review, there were a lot of men commenting about how watching Alyssa’s workout caused them to be sexually aroused. They might have also enjoyed watching Alyssa’s two hired actress friends, who used the premise of being upset with their parents as a reason to let off “teen steam”. For them, it was “teen steamy” indeed.

Back in the 80s, things were different than they are now. In those days, kids were pretty much allowed to run wild, especially compared to today. There was a lot less concern about child welfare back then, although laws were starting to be made about what children could, or could not, do… and some parents had enough common sense to know what they shouldn’t be doing and actually prevent them from doing those things. I’m sure in the 80s, Alyssa Milano’s workout tape seemed very innocent and cute. I think society, as a whole, was blissfully less aware of the bad stuff in the world.

As Bill and I were listening to music and drinking beer last night, I read aloud one of the Amazon reviews that was posted about this video:

Does anyone else find it creepy that the top of the “What similar items do customers ultimately buy after viewing this item?” is a movie called Jailbait? I guess if you’re not creeped out by the other reviews, that shouldn’t add much.

Bill had just taken a big sip of beer right before I read that actual Amazon review to him. He thought I was joking and almost spewed beer out of his mouth as he choked back laughter. Then he said, “I should be careful drinking beer when you’re making a joke.”

Except I wasn’t joking. That was a literal review on Amazon. We both started cracking up over that. But seriously… below is another honest to God Amazon review of this video:

This is the beautiful girl, turning into a woman right before you’re [sic] very eyes, through each stretch and musical number! Guys who buy this may have to buy another later, so don’t use that still frame button and slow motion button so much!

And another…

The music is terrible. The Fashion is horrible. The dancing is awful. The workouts are laughable. But it’s badness is the genius of its greatness. A must for any Alyssa Milano fan because you won’t be able to take your eyes off of her.

And another…

What can I say about this rare, late 80’s gem? I had to have this, I just had to. I remember “who’s the Boss” as an interesting if silly family show, if a little strange because it had a single parent who was a somewhat befuddled dad, most single parent families, by far, have a mom and no dad, but I guess they wanted to be different. Lets [sic] start with the star of this show, Alyssa Milano. She is as close to perfect as the good lord makes girls her age, her face is flawless and her well toned body is unparalleled. She is also barely 16. I am not 16. I have not been 16 for a long, long, long time. Shame on me. But wait…I didn’t produce this, I didn’t set up the exercises or tell this young nubile to do stretching exercises in a sports bra and nothing else on top. It wasn’t my idea, why should I be ashamed? I just am. Alyssa Milano is a fascinating individual, like an onion one peels and peels and still there is more. She had a colossal career in Japan, lots of Americans did, but not Like Ms. Milano. She had 4 or 5 albums, albums which must be heard to be believed, I confess to downloading some of the songs, shame on me again. If you can listen to one of her songs all the way through, you are stronger then I am. She sings the theme, the lyrics stick in ones [sic] mind like a chicken bone in a dogs throat, “My parents want an angel, my teachers want a brain, my friends all want to party and it’s driving my insane” Oh the horror, the horror. It is painfully obvious that no teenage girl penned these lyrics but some older male, as was much of her stuff in those days. She wears outfits selected for her to please someone else, she poses for hundreds of photo’s [sic], (check out her fan sites) some of which would make Nabrikov [sic] blush, whatever she did it was top quality, done with true heart and spirit and always a little creepy. Who was the audience for this? Young girls? maybe, but many other demographic groups would enjoy her stretching and bending, and squatting and lunging and squatting some more, and leg lifts…….shame on me. She poses in a nighty for a grown women, she is barely 13, time and time again Alyssa Milano puts the “pro” in “age inappropriate”, but is she to blame? or credit? I just don’t have an answer. What I will say is she takes her exercise very seriously, as do the camera men who constantly leer over her teenage body, and her friends too, what to say? The dance number is done very well, the credit list goes on to name many professionals who worked really hard on this, yet like any of her stuff it is horribly dated, her hair and music scream 1988 and no other year, sadly that was a long time ago, and it shows. I, and many other’s [sic] will always think of Alyssa Milano as our adorable if annoying little sister, or the neighbor girl who we see walking down the street, who we should not be looking at….then we take our camcorder and…..shame on me.

Side note. Alyssa was probably 15, not barely 13, when she made this video. She and I were born the same year, and she was a December baby. This was released in 1988, meaning that her 16th birthday would have been in December 1988. But yeah, I did notice how incredibly and naturally beautiful she was back then. She’s still beautiful today, too, and I have read that, yes, of course she cringes today when she remembers making this video. It apparently sold well, though, and she and her parents probably made some bank with her version of an exercise video. They were all the rage back in the 80s, thanks to Jane Fonda.

“Dad, I think he’s gonna pork her!” One of the many inside jokes between Bill and me…

What does Teen Steam have to do with National Lampoon’s European Vacation? Bill and I share a lot of private, inside jokes. One of our most enduring private jokes involves the scene in European Vacation when Rusty Griswold is watching a newlywed couple making out at breakfast. While Clark and Ellen Griswold are talking to their daughter, Audrey, Rusty suddenly blurts out, “Dad, I think he’s gonna pork her!”

Clark responds, “He’s not gonna pork her, Russ.”

“I think he is, Dad”, Rusty says, raising his eyebrows and smiling admiringly.

Sometimes, when Bill says something that strikes me as funny, I’ll say, a la Rusty Griswold, “I think he is, Dad.”

And I think our exchange regarding the scandalous, yet cheesy, 80s era teen video, Teen Steam, is going to end up being another one of our private, inside jokes. I’ve mentioned before that we’re about to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary, and it really does my heart good to know that we still have a lot to talk and laugh about privately. It makes me feel good that we’re still such good friends, and we not only love each other, but we also really like each other. We laugh over the craziest, dumbest, and most obscure things. I think that Teen Steam Amazon review is going to go down in history as one of our many private guffaws. I’m delighted that we still have them… because God knows, if we don’t laugh, we’re probably going to cry over the state of the world today…

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communication, complaints, humor, rants

It’s a messy morning for me…

If you’re squeamish about sickness, you might want to skip the first few paragraphs of this post.

So, I think I brought home a souvenir from Belgium. I wasn’t feeling 100 percent yesterday. I had a sore throat and a runny nose. I was sneezing, too. It all culminated last night. I had been really hungry, because we didn’t have much food in the house after our brief trip. I didn’t have much of a lunch. So when Bill made bacon cheeseburgers for dinner, I was all for it.

Just as I finished my burger, my body erupted into a violent coughing fit that nauseated me. I froze, looking horrified, and Bill asked me what was wrong. I said I felt like I was going to vomit. I got up and made a move toward the bathroom.

I didn’t quite make it to the toilet and, let’s just say, it was quite the Technicolor yawn. I spewed puke all over the bathroom and the rug outside the door. It took some time to clean everything up, because everything got doused– the floor, the toilet, the walls, and any items that were in the strike zone. Since this house doesn’t have closets, that meant a few things got sprayed. Bill had to go to the grocery store to buy more sponges and I had to do a sudden load of laundry.

Then, after I got most all of the surfaces cleaned, I got out my steam mop and started to give the floors a once over to get the last residue from my sickness. In the process of doing that, I scalded the fuck out of my toe. Naturally, that led to a lot of cursing and an urge to burst into tears, which I somehow managed to avoid doing.

I would definitely feel better if Bill did this nurse’s routine…

This morning, I woke up after a reasonably decent sleep, but my nose is running and I’m sneezing… This could be my allergies, or it could be a cold. Either way, I don’t feel well. However, I still have my senses of smell and taste, and I don’t feel overly tired or achy. So whatever this is, I’m sure it will pass. I’m still horrified about last night’s vomit fest, though I know it could have been worse. At least I didn’t also have diarrhea. I just have a very sensitive gag reflex and will hurl at the slightest provocation, just like the Maggie Blackamoor on Little Britain.

I relate.

And now that I’ve brought up Little Britain, it’s time to move on to today’s topic… because Little Britain offers a fine segue into what’s on my mind this morning.

A little while ago, I ran across an article in The Atlantic about comedy and comedians. The article, titled “When the Punishment Doesn’t Fit the Joke”, was written by Conor Friedersdorf, is partly about the comedian Dave Chappelle. Mr. Chappelle is no stranger to making jokes that sometimes go over like turds in proverbial punch bowls, as my Aunt Gayle would put it. Personally, I think Chappelle is often funny, but I’m not a super fan of his work. I never saw the Netflix special that got him into hot water, during which he made fun of trans people. Chappelle’s special was pulled from Netflix, and many people were talking about how insensitive and “bullying” he was toward a marginalized group. Some people tried to take it even further, attacking his career, trying to ruin him.

If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you know I’m not a fan of “cancel culture”, especially when it comes to comedians. I may not like every joke I hear, but I am a big proponent of free speech and letting people vote with their wallets and consciences. Also, I like provocative content that makes people think. Sometimes so-called “offensive” humor is thought provoking. Even if a joke is cruel, if it gets people talking, it’s not all bad, in my opinion. Moreover, I enjoy being able to make decisions for myself about what is, and what is not, acceptable humor. I don’t need “help” from the masses.

In his article, Conor Friedersdorf begins by writing about Chappelle, and the performing arts theater at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington, DC. Mr. Chappelle is a former student at the school and has donated a lot of money to it, so the theater was going to be named after him. But then Chappelle got into trouble for his jokes about trans people. The renaming ceremony was postponed, and Chappelle eventually told everyone “that for now, the venue will be named the Theater for Artistic Freedom and Expression.”

Friedersdorf wrote that his colleague, David Frum, had attended the event and offered an interpretation of what happened.

In sophisticated comedy, comedians play with the tension between formal and informal beliefs, and Chappelle’s is very sophisticated comedy. The function of humor as a release from the forbidden thought explains why some of the most productive sources of jokes are authoritarian societies, because they forbid so much. In the squares of Moscow today, protesters physically reenact an old Soviet joke, demonstrating with blank signs because “Everybody already knows everything I want to say.” That same function of comedy explains why “woke America” is the target of so much satirical humor today, because so much of wokeness aspires to forbid.

When Chappelle deferred adding his name to the theater of the school to which he’d given so much of himself—not only checks, but return appearances—he was not yielding or apologizing. He was challenging the in-school critics: You don’t understand what I do—not my right to do it, but the reason it matters that I exercise that right. Until you do understand, you cannot have my name. Someday you will understand. You may have it then.

The article continued with Friedersdorf’s thoughts on modern comedy and what the role of a comedian is supposed to be. Comedians make jokes and offer humorous positions on any given topic. The great George Carlin once did a bit called “Rape Can Be Funny”. In it, he talked about how comedians run into backlash over “tasteless” jokes all the time, with people who try to tell them what is or isn’t funny, and what can or can’t be joked about. Back in 1990, Carlin said:

I believe you can joke about anything.

It all depends on how you construct the joke. What the exaggeration is. What the exaggeration is.

Because every joke needs one exaggeration. Every joke needs one thing to be way out of proportion.

Now… I want to state right away that, on many occasions, I’ve heard Carlin’s routine about how rape can be funny. I own a copy of the CD it comes from, and have listened to it enough that I can recite it from memory. Personally, I don’t think “Rape Can Be Funny” is Carlin’s best work. He makes some very tone deaf jokes about rape that, to me, just plain miss the mark. Carlin’s rape jokes aren’t funny to me, though, because he seemed to think rape is about sex and sexual attraction. In my view, rape is about people who want to take power over another person. It doesn’t have to be a man who does it, either. Women are capable of raping men. I know this because it happened to my husband during his first marriage. He trusted his ex wife, and she rewarded him by violently assaulting him when he was not capable of defending himself. I don’t think she did it because she was turned on, or wanting to turn him on. She did it because she wanted to hurt him, and show him who was in control. That had nothing to do with love, sex, or bonding. It was an act of violence and, to me, it was definitely NOT funny.

However– even though I don’t agree with Carlin’s opinions about rape, I will admit that he made a very good point in his routine about how anything can be funny to certain people. The most skillful comics can make the most horrifying topics funny. I think Carlin was one of the best comics ever, but sometimes even he flubbed things. I didn’t find his rape routine that funny, but I appreciated the one pearl of wisdom within it, in which his main point is that comedians should be free to tackle all topics. If we don’t like it, we don’t have to laugh. We don’t have to watch the show or buy the album. That would be a fitting consequence of not being funny. Trying to ruin comedians’ careers over one or two bad or offensive jokes may not be a fitting consequence– especially when a certain community presumes to make that decision for everyone.

This is the best part of the routine, in my opinion. The rest of it, not so much. But it would have been a tragedy if George had been canceled for saying this. Because most of the other stuff he said was genius!

As is my habit, I went to the Facebook comment section, just to see what people thought of Conor Friedersdorf’s article. As usual, plenty of people who didn’t read it were chiming in. There were also some virtue signalers in there– mostly white guys– trying very hard to prove to everyone how sensitive and “woke” they are, by calling Chappelle a “bully”.

First off, I don’t think that merely joking about someone or something makes them a bully. In my mind, the term “bullying” connotes abuse and harassment that include threats and intimidation, not merely insults or ridicule. When I think of bullies, I think of people who use their positions of power to control or coerce others. Simply joking about a group, tasteless and mean as the joke may be, isn’t really acting like a bully. Now, if Dave was also trying to force trans people to give him money or property, or threatened to beat them up after the show, that would be more like bullying, in my view.

Secondly, the main virtue signaling offender in the comment section was being very insulting himself. Anyone who disagreed with him was labeled an “asshole”, among other derogatory terms. It seems to me that if one believes comedians should be kinder and gentler, one should be the change they want to see. Name calling those who have a differing viewpoint, especially when you’re pushing the view that people should be pressured/forced into being politically correct, is quite hypocritical. Below are just a few comments made by this guy. I thought about pointing it out to him that his habit of name calling isn’t very PC, but decided I’d rather frost my bush than argue with him.

…life would be better people were nicer to each other and didn’t try to fill the empty voids in their miserable lives by punching down at people more vulnerable than themselves. And it’s okay to call people who do that assholes and say you don’t want to be associated with them.

We’re having that conversation, and a lot of it is “wow, Chapelle really seems to be an asshole who delights in saying hurtful things about marginalized people from atom his giant pile of Netflix money”. But the Atlantic doesn’t like that conversation so they’re trying to shut it down. Fuck that.

…you say “that’s not the world we live in” like this is some divinely ordained state. But it’s a choice. Powerful assholes get away with attacking marginalized communities because others choose to accept it (as long as it’s happening to other people). But we could chose not to just brush off this kind of hate. We could be better.

There was one very sensible woman commenting who brought up that if people in the trans community want to be recognized as “mainstream”, they should be “tough enough” to be made fun of on occasion. One can’t ask to be treated like everyone else, and also demand “special” treatment or membership in a protected class. I totally agree with that notion.

I don’t find all attempts at humor successful, and some jokes really are tasteless, offensive, and too close to the bone, in my opinion. But it’s just MY opinion. Other people have different opinions, and personally I prefer having the right to speak freely over being threatened with being canceled if I express the “wrong” thing or have the “wrong” opinion. And to be clear, I don’t consider refusing to attend a show or buy a DVD to be “canceling” someone. Canceling someone is when a person or group tries to shut someone up or punish them by attempting to ruin their lives. That goes too far, in my view. Especially in a society that is supposed to be “free”, allowing freedom of expression and open exchanges of ideas.

ETA: I had to comment to the virtue signaling guy who was insulting everyone with name calling, as he also called for kindness. I wrote:

“Does it not strike you as slightly hypocritical that you keep labeling people ‘assholes’, as you preach about how we should all be more sensitive and kinder to others? Shouldn’t you start by being the change you want to see? Name calling isn’t the best look if you want to convince people that you’re a good person.”

I just had to do it. This guy seems to think that he should be the one who decides what is– and what is not– appropriate humor, and what jokes we should find acceptable. To quote him, I say “fuck that.” I can make up my own mind about what I find funny, and I can also vote with my wallet, and my feet. Moreover, I don’t respect someone demanding that we treat everyone with kindness and decency as he dehumanizes those who disagree with him by calling them “assholes”. He’ll probably come at me hours from now. Hopefully, I’ll be in an antihistamine induced coma by then.

I will hasten to add that I know I use the word “asshole” a lot myself. The difference is, I try really hard not to presume to “set an example”. I try not to tell people what they should be saying, thinking, or finding funny… or, at least I hope I don’t. I definitely don’t think anyone should necessarily look up to me, or value my opinions… I just like to express myself sometimes. I usually confine my expression to this blog, though, because otherwise, I’ll find myself engaged in a dialogue with someone preaching about being kind to the marginalized, as he calls me an “asshole”. Moreover, simply finding a joke funny– even if it’s vulgar, tasteless, or crass– doesn’t equate to “hate”. I can still laugh at Avenue Q or South Park, after all…

I saw this show in England a few years ago, and was crying at the end of it, it was SO good… it was basically about MY life as a Gen Xer! Should I not have found this funny? Some people might think that. Why don’t I get a vote, too?

As someone who loves humor, I don’t want to see comedians being canceled. I want them to be free to come up with jokes on any topic. I’m smart enough to decide for myself if I think something is funny or not, and I can choose for myself if I want to consume what they’re selling. I don’t need guys like the woke dude above, calling Dave Chappelle an “asshole”, as he condemns his comedy for being too “mean” and marginalizing groups that he deems “at risk”. I want everyone to have a vote, and I want them to be allowed to choose for themselves. That’s freedom, to me. And dammit, I love irreverent humor, even if it sometimes hurts.

Now, if I could only free myself from this runny nose, headache, fatigue, and sneezing, I’d be batting 500…

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Random free floating hostility… so many things that are irritating me today.

This is going to be a really cranky and inappropriate post. If you choose to read it, you may not agree with some of the reasons why I’m cranky. That’s fine, but I don’t really want to hear about it unless you have a funny comment to add, kind support, or commiseration. I have a right to air my grievances on my space, controversial though they may be.

Fair warning. This is my mood today.

Yesterday was an annoying day on several levels. It started off okay enough. I showed off Bill’s Bento Box packing skills to my friends. He cracks me up, because he’s so health conscious and he likes to pack visually appealing, healthy lunches for himself. Meanwhile, I’m planning to eat Cheetos. I ate a strawberry for breakfast, and a seed got caught between my teeth, which was very aggravating. I’m also dealing with Aunt Flow, who made an irritating return after three months. There’s not enough flow to need a lot of protection, but there is enough to make me feel “not so fresh”. Then Bill went off to work, and that’s when things began to get even more annoying.

Before the morning was over, I watched a video on the Meet The Wengers channel. I have been following this lady, Katie Wenger, for a few years now. She’s American, and she married a German guy from Stuttgart. They have three kids and live in Berlin now. I watched her latest video, which was followed by one of her old videos, from when her eldest child was still very young and she was pregnant with her second baby. Her son, then a toddler, had a massive tantrum in a department store, and some rude bitch came up to her and said, “You’re going to have another baby and you can’t even handle the one you have now?” Oh my God… what a rude, insensitive, CUNTY comment that is. Poor Katie was crying. I’m sure I would have fired lasers at that woman if she had said something like that to me. What makes people think they have the right to make comments like that to perfect strangers?

I’m sure she was nicer than I would have been in this situation.

After I watched Katie’s video, it was approaching 1:00pm, which is when one of my banks in the USA opens (7:00 am, Eastern time). I needed to call them, which is never something I enjoy doing. I mentioned last month that I’m wanting to change banks where I do checking. For many reasons, I’m trying to fire USAA.

For over a month, I’ve been trying to set up a checking account with a bank I already use. Yesterday, I called them for the third time about this issue. The first two times, I was told that their system was giving them an “error” when they tried to set up a checking account for me. They said IT would look at it and they would get in touch with me. But, of course, they never bothered to contact me. I was about to give up, but on Tuesday night, Bill managed to open a checking account online with no issues whatsoever. So I called the bank and was told that they needed a “physical address”. I gave them my German address, which the system didn’t want to take. But Bill lives in the same place I do… so why was he able to open an account and I’m not?

Adding insult to injury, this bank’s app sucks. It’s no longer recognizing my fingerprint, and it tells me that my email and phone number are not eligible for two party authentication, even though I was using the app successfully a few days ago. If I go to the actual Web site, it lets me log in and sends me texts and emails with no issues, albeit not without lecturing me about my usual browser, which it doesn’t like. So I called the bank and complained about the checking account issue, reminding the person that this was my third call about this. Then I told her that every other time, people have said someone would contact me, and they never do. I sent an email, too, and got terse response from someone who apparently didn’t understand the issue and simply explained how to use the app, as well as admonishing me to give them a couple of days to contact me. But I don’t hold out much hope for that.

After the bank fiasco, I decided to try to read, which led to my getting drowsy and wanting to take a nap. As I was about to drift off, the doorbell rang. I wasn’t expecting a package or company, so I was a little irritable. I opened the door, and there was a maskless guy standing away from the porch, speaking rapid fire German to me. I fixed a stare on him and said, “I don’t speak German.” Ordinarily, I might have made an attempt, but I wasn’t prepared for his visit and was, frankly, not in a good mood.

He stopped and showed me his phone, which indicated that he was there to read the meter. I said, “You need a meter reading?”

He started going off about Strom (energy) and I said, “Yes, I understand. Come in.” In Germany, the meters are inside the house, usually in the basement.

As he entered the house, I was almost knocked over by the gallon of cologne he was wearing. He immediately started fretting about Arran, who is a friendly old dog who just wanted to say hello. He said, “Your dog…”, like I needed to control a vicious animal or something. Noyzi didn’t come down at all. I can only imagine what his reaction would have been to him!

I said, “He won’t hurt you.” I shooed Arran outside and the guy hesitantly moved the dog gate to the basement, with an air of how I should be more accommodating. I was thinking to myself, “If you want me to be dressed and accommodating, let me know when you’re coming next time.” The guy got his reading and was on his way… and by that point, I didn’t want to nap anymore.

So then I started reading the news, and there were the reports about how the CDC is making the public transportation keep mask mandates until May 3. As usual, the annoying virtue signalers were out in droves, with many saying that we should all be masked on planes forevermore. It shouldn’t surprise any of my regular readers that I think the mask mandates on planes need to go… and I feel certain that it’s only a matter of time before they’re history. Why? Because the masks aren’t very effective, and their enforced wear causes people to act like maniacs on planes. I’ve mentioned before that here in Germany, we’ve been wearing the supposedly superior “FFP2 masks” (like N95s) for months. COVID is still rampant, probably because the virus can still invade through the eyes. But good luck getting people to wear safety glasses or eye goggles.

Planes are so uncomfortable anyway, with the tight seats and lack of legroom. Now we all have to wear masks, and everybody sits around hostiley watching everyone else, hall monitor like, counting the minutes to see how long they take to eat and drink. It’s ludicrous, and it makes airplane travel unacceptably unpleasant for me. So, I decided to add a comment voting against the mask rules.

Naturally, I got a laughing reaction and some guy apparently decided to “school me”, asshole style. I didn’t bother to read his comment. Instead, I unsubscribed from the thread, because I knew there would be a slew of people trying to argue with me– people who went to the Google School of Public Health and want to share news articles with provocative headlines that supposedly “prove” their points. Most of them haven’t even bothered to read the articles they share to support their lame assertions that this is the way we should all have to live from now on. I really ain’t got the time or patience for it.

Just because I am not in agreement that masks forever are the way to go, that doesn’t mean I don’t comply with rules. I do follow the rules, but I don’t have to like them. I can comment negatively about them if I want, and that doesn’t obligate me to have a conversation with some stranger who is just going to insult and berate me for not being a “humanitarian” and cheerleading for masks. I also know I’m not going to change anyone’s mind, and they aren’t going to change my mind. I just want to have my say, especially since I know a lot of people secretly agree with me, but don’t want to say it out loud, because they don’t want to deal with the mansplainers and virtue signalers, either.

Then Bill came home and we ended up having a rather unpleasant discussion about Ex. He’d like to forget all about her. So would I. But, as we’ve seen from recent events, she still thinks she has a claim on Bill’s family, and she will continue to try to scam his relatives. So someone has to keep an eye on her. Then he told me he thinks I have an attitude of wanting to avenge against her. And, you know what? I do. I am absolutely furious with Ex for everything she’s done over the years, and you bet your ass I want to see her pay for her wrongs. However, she is certainly not worth going to prison over, so I just patiently wait for karma to hit her. Besides, as long as Bill talks to his daughter, he is going to hear about his ex wife. Younger daughter hasn’t recovered from growing up with that narcissistic woman as her mother. So, if he’s going to have a relationship with his daughter, he’s going to be hearing about his ex wife. I told him if he wants me to stop talking to him about her, maybe we should get a divorce. Of course, neither of us wants to get a divorce, but obviously, someone needs to watch Ex so that innocent people can be warned when she decides to engage in fuckery.

I had a nightmare about Ex and former landlady this morning. I dreamt we had to move back to the Stuttgart area and we got a house on post (which don’t really exist, especially for retired people like Bill). It turned out the house was owned by ex landlady. I dreamt that I was preparing to move, and I said to Bill “Well, at least we know what to expect.”

This morning has been marginally better… I read an article on Military Times about how the military lifestyle is preventing some people from starting families. One lady wrote about how she and her husband are dual military and they haven’t reproduced because of the cost of childcare. Some dickhead wrote, “You shouldn’t have children if you can’t afford them.”

That comment pissed me off, because it’s so rude, thoughtless, and dismissive. What if a person could afford a baby when the baby was born, but then couldn’t afford it later, due to a reversal in fortune? So I decided to leave a kind comment for the woman. 20 years ago, when I was in grad school, I worked on a project in South Carolina that addressed how expensive childcare is… and how it’s not always available, like at night, when some people have to work. It sounds like the issue is an even bigger problem now than it was in 2000. Sexist attitudes from numbskulled, perspective challenged military guys who are dismissive and lack empathy, are not helpful. I’ll bet that guy also thinks that women should be forced to birth, but I don’t care enough to look at his profile to find evidence.

And then… the pièce de résistance…. feast your eyes on the status below…

Facepalm…

Folks… if you made it out of high school, you should know full well that female mammals have two openings “down there”. If your dog is “peeing blood”, it has nothing to do with her reproductive system. Mammals don’t give birth from their urethras. Jeez. And humans have periods. Dogs and a lot of other mammals go through “estrus”– they go “into heat”– which is not the same thing as menstruation. I can understand why the guy who posted this felt like he should explain that his dog can’t go into heat. However, I was pretty bowled over that a man who is presumably old enough to work in Germany with the US military doesn’t know that females don’t have periods through their urethras. And dogs don’t have periods at all! I guess I should be glad he’s taking her to a vet. That’s more than I can say for some people. On another note… I’ll bet he needs a flashlight and a compass to “flick the bean”, since he evidently thinks pee and menstrual blood come from the same hole. I mean, I got a D in biology myself, but I know there’s a difference between the urethra and the vagina.

Bill did make me smile before he went to work, though. We were talking about the pretty bits of glass and pottery some clueless lady in Croatia sent Ex. Ex was gushing about it, and calling it “Mermaid Mail”, because she’s obsessed with mermaids. Bill said, “My (older) daughter is going to make something with those pieces and Ex will take credit for it, as usual. But hey– if Ex wants to build a Mermalair (reference to Spongebob Squarepants), who am I to protest? I just wonder if (#3) is Barnacle Boy.”

I had a good laugh at that. Bill can really be hilarious when the mood strikes. He’s helpful, too. In fact, he helpfully took from me the bag of dog shit I had collected from the backyard, and then he went off to work, Bento Box in his (other) hand. He also shared with me this awesome memory from when he defaced a Book of Mormon at a Marriott hotel, years ago.

Bill can be pretty edgy sometimes.

I do know that in spite of everything that irritates me on the daily, I am a blessed woman on many levels. So take that, world. Hopefully, today will be less annoying… but it is Thursday, and that means I have to vacuum (my least favorite chore). So I guess I’ll stop writing and get on with doing that, so I can focus on being less crabby.

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advertising, complaints, humor, music, silliness, videos, YouTube

Lots of people hate USAA’s hold music earworm from Hell!

Today’s post is just going to be lighthearted ribbing, since it’s a Sunday, and I don’t feel like writing a long, sanctimonious post. As I updated in yesterday’s post, USAA finally gave me a “temporary” refund on the fraudulent Insomnia Cookies charge. And because that means I won’t have to call them, I’m now in a pretty decent mood. You know what that also means? I don’t have to listen to the hold music from Hell! Yea!

I am definitely not the only one who hates USAA’s “football cheer” hold music. I bonded with a fellow member the other night on Twitter over this little tune that plays, sometimes for hours on end, as members desperately try to reach a customer service representative. This morning, as I was telling Bill about it, I actually found quite a few Reddit posts about USAA’s jaunty hold music. A few people even uploaded it to YouTube. Check this out…

I can just imagine the person/people who composed this, coming up with the playfully snarky little guitar flourishes and perky USAA cheer…

As a musical person, having to listen to this kind of hold music is especially hellish to me. It’s very catchy, so it easily gets stuck in my head. All day, I keep ruminating over that droning, pulsating, sterile, pseudo-jazz. And because I’m almost always calling them because I have a problem and am irritated, the enthusiastic “USAA” cheer usually further sours my mood pretty quickly. In fact, as I sit here thinking about it, recovering from the repetitious “jazzy” sounds, I am randomly coming up with obscene lyrics I could sing to the “USAA” rah rah cheering. Like “bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, BUUUUM…. kind-ly fuck off!” Or maybe “bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, BUUUUM…. you guys suck balls!” I could probably entertain myself for an hour coming up with new “lyrics” to that hold music.

One USAA employee confessed that they try not to call USAA themselves, because they hate the hold music. It makes one wonder if their objective is to annoy people so much that they hang up. I think it’s entirely within the realm of possibility that getting people to hang up is one of their goals. Or maybe they want to make the music so annoying that the person is relieved to hear a human voice when the hold music finally ends.

Bill told me that the hold music he gets at work is also pretty bad. Some people on the USAA reddit thread mentioned CISCO, so I looked them up on YouTube. Sure enough, I started playing the below video, and Bill said “That’s it!”

This hold music sounds like it could induce seizures… but I like it better than USAA’s.

But the CISCO music could possibly be nice to listen to. Below is a video made by a YouTube musician who played it on his piano. I’d much rather listen to his improvised version than the crappy, overly synthed one above.

Nicely done!

This guy did a pretty good job, too… Makes me wish I had stuck with piano lessons.

Dayum… he’s got it going on!

But it’s not really possible to make USAA’s chanting hold music from Hell any cooler. It just so irritating. Here’s what one person wrote on a recent messageboard…

1000YearBan Nov ’21

For decades I thought the on-hold music at USAA was the absolute worst, most annoying shit I ever heard – until recently, when they changed it! Now I sob silently, keening for the innocent salad days of yore. The new, far worse music features what sounds like a football team chanting “U-S-A-A!” every 16 bars. Kill me.

The funny thing is I was recently on hold at some local place and got the old USAA music! I was wistfully nostalgic, like a political torture prisoner recalling the relative pleasures of an abused childhood.

And what is especially distressing is that USAA probably paid some composer and musicians a lot of money to create that diabolical audio torture device. Where did they get the money? From members like me… many of whom are driven crazy by the pseudo-funky rhythm and cutesy guitar riffs interrupted by the “football” cheers– USAA!!! Ugh! Here’s a link to a business that makes these little musical gems for credit unions and the like. Wonder what it’s like working there!

I wish I could find PenFed’s hold music. Theirs is not like USAA’s. It’s more like very sad horn music that sounds like it’s consoling you for calling them. It’s like the musical version of, “Hi… we’re so sorry you have a banking problem. We’ll cry with you while we put you on hold…” It’s on an endless loop, which makes it even more obnoxious. I didn’t mind it the first or second time it played, but having to hear it for several minutes is pretty terrible. I still prefer it to USAA’s ear worm, though. Several days later, the PenFed music is no longer burned on my brain. It’s hard to forget USAA’s music. And, thanks to Chordify, I can even play it on my guitar, if I want to. Maybe it’s time I ended this post and tried it…

Have a good Sunday, y’all…

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humor, music

Catching the “musical flu” and spreading it around…

My friend Ken Turetzky, pumping his own gas…

I should preface this by saying that Ken and I are only the most casual of Facebook friends. I have never met him in person, although he did reach out to me about twelve years ago, when I wrote a review of musical comedian Red Peters’ album, Best of Red Peters Comedy Hour, Volume 1. Ken’s song, “Her Shit Don’t Stink” was featured on that compilation. It reminded me of Bill’s ex wife, who was at that time, pushing a false narrative that her shit didn’t stink. Anyone with their eyes open and nose unstuffed knew the truth, though, and those who weren’t aware would soon become aware as they came of age.

Years later, I care a lot less about Ex than I used to… Bill’s daughters are now grown women and we’re no longer subsidizing Ex’s household to the tune of $30,600 annually. However, we have become aware that for all of Ex’s gas pumping, she was mostly full of hot stinky air. Enough said about that, although there’s a lot I would really like to write. I won’t, though. Not in this post, anyway. Instead, I want to write about something totally unrelated– except I wish I could have helped spread the musical flu to Bill’s daughters.

Yesterday, my sister sent me a private message, asking if I subscribe to Apple Music. I wrote back that I don’t, mainly because I prefer to own my music rather than renting it. Also, I read some disturbing accounts of Apple Music overriding people’s private music collections. I have some rare stuff that I managed to get from Napster back in the day. Those were the days of dialup, so you know I spent a long time downloading those things. I don’t want to lose them by allowing Apple Music to invade my machine. I would imagine that Apple Music has fixed this issue, but I still prefer to buy rather than rent, particularly when it comes to music. I have so many tracks that it would probably take a year to listen to everything, anyway.

My sister, on the other hand, does use Apple Music. She wrote that she heard a song by the jazz player, Michael Franks. She hadn’t really liked him much, but got hooked on this song that came on Apple Music. I told her that I have a similar problem. I’m the kind of person who remembers really obscure songs from many years ago and tries to find out who did them. Sometimes, it takes years. I got tickled by my sister’s comments about Michael Franks, because it turns out that one of his songs was a track I obsessively “hunted down”.

I was first introduced to Michael Franks’ banal style back in the year 2003. Bill and I hadn’t been married a year. We lived in Fredericksburg, Virginia, in a cheap apartment, because that was what we could afford. We decided to go to the Army Birthday Ball. I needed a formal dress for it, so I drove to a mall in Northern Virginia to go shopping. It was probably Springfield Mall, which is where I used to go shopping when I was 6 or 7 years old.

Eureka!

I was in a department store trying on dresses, and this song by Michael Franks came on. I didn’t know who Michael Franks was, of course. I just remember the song and its monotonous, mind numbing chorus, “Don’t touch that phone.” repeated by female singers over and over again. I don’t even remember liking the song that much. I just remembered the chorus. It stuck in my head for years. I had no idea the name of the song or who sang it, but I relentlessly searched until, finally, I found it. And even though I didn’t love the song, I ended up downloading the album.

My sister and I kept chatting and it occurred to me that she has really had an enormous impact on my musical tastes. It’s almost like she was carrying a kind of “musical flu” bug. Although she is not the sister closest to me in age, I shared a room with her when I was a little kid. I was exposed to a lot of what she liked. My sister famously introduced me to the magic of Kate Bush. She also introduced me to James Taylor, The Police, and Dead Can Dance… as well as the hilarious stylings of Ami Arena, who can’t sing, but is funny as hell.

One of my favorite songs by Kate Bush. I was introduced to her when my sister bought Bush’s 1982 album, The Dreaming, when I was about ten years old. Years later, I bought the album myself, and have since bought it a couple more times.

Back in the early 90s, when I worked as a summer camp as the cook, I had a week off mid summer. My sister invited me to visit for a few days. While I was visiting her in Northern Virginia, she took me to Ellicott City, Maryland. We went shopping, and she introduced me to the band, Dead Can Dance. I remembered one song in particular and liked it, but it was about sixteen years later that I finally broke down and bought the album it came from. It’s still awesome music, even though the album is probably 30 years old by now.

This song stuck in my head for years until I finally bought the album. It’s still a great track… it doesn’t age.

During that same trip, I was exposed to Amy Arena and her sarcastic and very funny brand of music. Amy Arena can’t sing, but she’s witty and snarky and I enjoyed her very much. My sister played Amy’s album and we shared a laugh over the irreverent lyrics. Years later, I bought her CD, too…

She’s a certain king of gap toothed woman… I’m a gap toothed woman, too.

Then my sister told me that both Dead Can Dance and Amy Arena were introduced to her by a guy she used to date– a German dude by the name of Bernd, who played in a band that did live music at a restaurant where my sister used to wait tables. That restaurant, name of Whitey’s, is now long defunct. But for years, it was a great place in Arlington for live music, beer, and junk food. And the funniest part of all is that back in the 90s, when I had to get a food handler’s card to work in food service in Williamsburg, Virginia, I had to watch movies about food safety. One was made by the public health bureau in Virginia and they had actually filmed at Whitey’s. I immediately knew it was Whitey’s, because that place had a big sign that read “EAT”. It was unmistakable.

Both charming songs that you should learn…

When my sister told me about Bernd introducing her to that music, it occurred to me that Bernd had influenced me, too, even though I never met him. Although my sister hasn’t seen Bernd in years, he passed along the musical flu to her, which she then passed to me.

And I have influenced Bill, by sharing the music with him. I have also shared stuff with people on the Internet whom I don’t know. A couple of months ago, I wrote a post about Rush Limbaugh’s death. In that post, I shared a video by the awesome band, Folk Uke, fronted by Willie Nelson’s daughter, Amy, and Arlo Guthrie’s daughter, Cathy. The video was of Folk Uke singing “Shit Makes the Flowers Grow”. I discovered Folk Uke when I lived in Georgia and I had downloaded Willie Nelson’s “children’s” album (quoted, because Willie gave up on the children’s part of that album about halfway through). Amy was featured heavily on that album and I liked her, so I went searching on YouTube for more of her music… and I found Folk Uke. Now, I am a devoted fan…

I used Willie Nelson’s version of “Rainbow Connection” for MacGregor’s memorial video. This song was on Willie’s “children’s” album, which featured his daughter, Amy, half of Folk Uke! I don’t know why, but there’s something about Willie’s take on “Rainbow Connection” that touches me.

When I met Bill, he was pretty limited in his musical tastes. He liked industrial, progressive music, and shunned anything vaguely country. But I think he had the idea that country music was nothing but the pink sequined pop stuff his ex wife listens to… He had not been exposed to bluegrass or classic country music, or outlaw country. It wasn’t long before I had him turned on to people like the Infamous Stringdusters…

I actually discovered them while watching a morning show in Murfressboro, Tennessee. Ever heard a U2 song done quite like this?

And then, thanks to my constant ear to YouTube, I found the likes of Todd Snider and Paul Thorn, both awesome musicians who are entertaining, talented, and fun…

Story of my life… or at least it was when I was at Longwood.
Damn, I want to see him play. If you have a raunchy sense of humor, listen to this.

Last summer, I was on Facebook, and Keb’ Mo’ shared a track that he was listening to. He had played on guitarist’s Lee Ritenour’s compilation album, 6 String Theory. I looked at the album and quickly downloaded it. Then, noticing that there was a cover of Sting’s song, “Shape of My Heart”, I alerted my friend Andrew. I think he was skeptical at first, but then he decided to check it out. Sure enough, I had guessed right that Andrew would like the cover– he’s a big Sting fan, like I am. But this was a great cover done by other people.

Thanks to Keb’ Mo’, I found Lee Ritenour and a new take on Sting.

Speaking of Keb’ Mo’. I’ve been trying to see him play live for years. I have tickets that were supposed to be used on November 16th, 2020. Obviously, that didn’t happen, and the show has been rescheduled three times at this writing. I think it might go on in September, if enough people get COVID-19 vaccines. I was introduced by Keb’ Mo’ by Martha Stewart, of all people. I bought an album she made for new parents. It had really lovely pop music that would appeal to babies and grownups alike, and Keb’ Mo’s song, “Infinite Eyes”, was on it. I liked it fine, recalling that I had heard Keb’ Mo’ on a Lyle Lovett cover of “Til It Shines”, a Bob Seger cover, and liked him then, too. Then one day, when we still lived in Fairfax, Virginia, Bill and I were having lunch at Austin Grill. They were playing some really great music over their sound system, and I heard Keb’ Mo’s unmistakable voice. He was singing “Folsom Prison Blues”, a song originally by Johnny Cash. I loved it, so Bill and I went to a Border’s to see if I could find the album there– it was still the era of CDs, after all.

Well, I didn’t find Keb’ Mo’s cover of “Folsom Prison Blues” until many years later, but on that day, I came home with, like, three of his CDs. And I quickly became a big fan of his music. Now, one of my favorite songs by Keb’ Mo’ is this song…

I love this song… it’s like Bill and me. He gladly indulges my musical obsession. But it’s just one of my favorites by Keb’ Mo’.
This song is more like the reality of my life… 😉 Especially the line about the dog shitting on the floor.

I could do this all day. In fact, thanks to COVID-19, I’ve got little else to do… although I will admit that the above video makes me want to practice guitar. This post does have a point, though. I don’t know how it is for other people, but I tend to catch musical influences like the flu. I hear something, like it, buy it, and use it to find other stuff I love. And then I spread my musical flu to everybody else… even people I don’t know. Just like people I don’t know spread it to me.

I caught Robert Randolph & The Family Band from Eric Clapton. They opened for him at a concert Bill and I attended, and were a hell of a lot better than Clapton was.

And finally… as I sign off, here’s a plug for my alma mater. This morning, I donated $550 to the music department, not because I was a music major, but because the music department at Longwood University literally changed my life. And I really enjoyed this concert, featuring one of my former professors, Dr. Charles Kinzer. His wife is also a professor at Longwood. She used to be my accompanist, and now she teaches piano. This morning, as I watched the jazz concert, it occurred to me that these folks have also spread the “musical flu”, and still do– even 27 years after I graduated.

Anyway… I long for the days of live music again. I love to discover new stuff and spread it around. Bonus points if the music is also funny. And now, it’s time to play with my guitar. Maybe someday, I’ll play it for public consumption, and spread even more musical flu. At least it’s a kind of infection that doesn’t kill anyone.

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