29 March 2009

The Teenage Goldfish Theory

I went to the mall a few days ago.

It couldn’t be helped, really. I had a hankering for a specific kind of candy and I can only find it at a candy store at the mall. Otherwise I wouldn’t have bothered. I’m not a big fan of malls. They’re noisy and crowded and the people who work the first-floor kiosks are dangerously disrespectful of my personal boundaries, especially the girls at the sea salt scrub kiosk, who won’t take no for an answer. I’ve taken to faking mobile phone conversations when I walk past to try to avoid their assault.

I digress.

The aggressive kiosk workers were nothing (on this particular evening) to the loitering teenagers. The little punks were everywhere – outside the dollar theater, by the fountain, in the bookstore, on the escalators, in the parking lot. I couldn’t avoid them, and believe you me, I tried. It was simply impossible – the buggers had taken over. And they were OBNOXIOUS. Laughing, shrieking, pushing, shoving, kissing, running, loitering, fighting. Absolutely unbearable.

I was a teenager once, and I was a lousy little punk. The other kids my age were worse. The lot of us should have been routinely beaten – would have done us all a world of good. But I tell you this now: we were nothing, nothing, to these little jackasses at the Superstition Springs mall.

It’s entirely possible that age has changed my perspective and today’s teenagers seem more obnoxious. But I don’t think that’s it, and as I tried to get through the parking lot without committing involuntary vehicular manslaughter (what ever happened to looking both ways, kids?), I started working on a theory.

If a goldfish is kept in a small bowl, it will be a small fish. It’s not going to overextend itself if the room just isn’t there. If you put that same goldfish in a large tank, that bugger’s going to grow to an alarming size. I believe that teenage obnoxiousness is much the same.

I grew up in a small town, rather isolated with about 6,000 people on a good day. Because the town was so small, its teenagers could only get so obnoxious. The multifariousness of our misbehavior was limited. We were in a small fishbowl and didn’t have room to grow to our full obnoxious potential.

Kids down here, on the other hand, have the whole of Maricopa County at their disposal. They are free to grow to levels of obnoxiousness heretofore unknown. Big pond, big fish. Big city, unbelievably obnoxious teenagers.

So parents, I’m begging you. Take your teenagers out of the city. Put them on farms. Lock them up in their rooms. Send them to detention facilities. But mamas, don’t let your kids grow up to be creepy gigantic goldfish. Or they will be good for nothing and contribute nothing to society. Then they’ll have to sell sea salt in a mall kiosk. Is that what you really want?

Oh and in case anyone's interested, I'm also working on a Prophylactic Juvenile Incarceration theory but don't have much evidence so far on account of I can't find any twelve-year-olds to lock up for nine years.

24 March 2009

And now, the fake news

Anyone who has seen firsthand the exquisite pastiness of my face would not be surprised to learn that I’ve got a bit of Swedish blood in me. I might be off a generation or so here, but I’m pretty sure that it was my grandmother’s grandfather who left Sweden back in the late 1800s. (He married an Englishwoman, which explains my teeth.) The story that I’ve heard from family members is that he and his brother fled Sweden to avoid the draft. However, after discovering The Local, Sweden’s news in English, I think I know the real reason: Sweden is a very, very boring country.

I don’t mean to sound rude. I’m sure it’s lovely there – this is, after all, the country that gave us ABBA and IKEA. But judging by the headlines – the things that The Local considers to be important and pertinent – Sweden just isn’t very exciting.

Consider a few recent headlines:
-Hunter charged over toilet seat shooting
-Regular tobacco use falling in Sweden: study
-McDonald’s wins right to serve beer at Stockholm airport
-Group rules against Swedish swimmer on ‘sexist’ swimsuit ban
-Liberal Party looking to reduce Migration Board’s influence

So, to recap: a man shot a toilet seat, Swedes aren’t smoking as much as they used to, the airport Micky D’s has booze, a woman can’t wear something under her swimsuit, and the Migration Board has more influence than the liberal party likes.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is news.

Granted, I’ve left out a few interesting headlines for effect. For instance, a man died at a nuclear plant, and there was something about a psychotic art student. But the first day I ever read The Local, one of the biggest headlines was something about one of the guys from ABBA – I think it was Bjorn, and he had something to say about illegal music downloads. And that was a leading story.

Maybe I’m desensitized to hard news stories, living near as I do to Phoenix, a city where people are more apt to shoot you than they are to stop at a red light. I guess I’m just accustomed to reading news stories that are … well, newsworthy. Rapists on the loose. Bodies found in the desert. Car accidents in the West Valley. Stories such as those in The Local strike me as novel … and dull.

I think I know why.

I grew up in a town that had, on a good day, a population of about 5500 people. The news stories in the local paper – a weekly that cost a quarter until I was a teenager – made the headlines in The Local look like hard-hitting super-journalism. Usually it was something about the DARE program or tourism or the mayor being a crook (they were all crooks, by the way). The lack of news was just another stark reminder that I lived in the middle of nowhere, where nothing ever happened and no one cared. One of the nice things about moving to the Valley was that things happened. Sure, plenty of them were bad, but these things, good and bad, were proof that people live here. Lots of people. And they do other things, and people care. It’s exciting in a way. So many people live around where I do that there isn’t just one psychopathic felon, there are dozens of psychopathic felons. You can’t beat that. Page didn’t even have any psychopathic misdemeanor-committers.

So, sorry, Sweden, but you can keep your Bjorns and your falling tobacco use and your Saab factories and your booze-filled fast-food restaurants. I like things busy and messed up. And I think my great-great-great-grandfather did, too. Why else would he have left the only country in the world where people were as pasty as he was?

19 March 2009

Dear Old Navy,

You guys used to be cool. Your ads were stupid, but they were INTENTIONALLY stupid. No one expected a Grammy-winning song about Performance Fleece. People expected kitsch, and kitsch they got.

I looked forward to getting an ad in the mail featuring a chimpanzee in a t-shirt and khakis. Because, by gosh, you guys SOLD that t-shirt and those khakis and I could buy it if I wanted to. Or two for $15, because that was the kind of nice sale y'all usually had going.

I didn't mind the ads with the puppy, either, because who doesn't like a puppy? Also, you sell dog toys and shirts - which caused a little eye-rolling on my part, because if the good Lord intended for dogs to wear t-shirts, He wouldn't have given them fur. But I digress.

The point, Old Navy, is that your ads used to be okay. They were lame but overall unoffensive. Now? You have crossed the line. Because I draw the line at talking mannequins.

Calling them "SuperModelquins" doesn't make it okay. Giving them names and personalities doesn't make it okay. It makes it worse. It creeps the hell out of me. I don't like to see normally inanimate objects talking. I don't want to see a plastic finger break off when one plastic demon proposes marriage to another. I don't want to see disembodied legs in the back room. I don't want to see a metal pole disappearing into a female mannequin's nether regions under one of your stupid sundresses. I don't want to see a torso twisted at an unnatural angle, or worse, improperly attached. It's just yucky.

Those painted-on smiles, Old Navy? They give me nightmares. They scare me. They creep me out. I don't know what jackass in the idea room decided to use talking dolls as a selling point, but he or she needs to be fired, and then beaten soundly with a hard plastic limb. You know why? NOBODY LIKES TALKING MANNEQUINS. THEY ARE FREAKY.

I mean it. Show me one person who thinks the SuperModelquins are cute and I'll show you a person with deep-seated psychological issues and about half the normal amount of brain cells. There is nothing cute or clever about a talking mannequin. It is disturbing and scary and until you bin the lot of the SuperModelquins, you're not getting me to buy any more $10.50 t-shirts, even if I can get two for fifteen. No, sirs and madams, you've got to offer me THREE for fifteen before I can overlook that level of creepiness. I don't need a three-button-placket polo shirt that badly. I'll buy one at Wal-Mart. Wal-Marts may inevitably smell like pee, but I don't have to worry about anything coming to life and suffocating me while I shop - except maybe a greeter or two.

So you know what, Old Navy? Ditch the dolls and bring back the chimp. Well, not THE chimp since he ripped a lady's face off. Maybe another chimp. Or a pony. Nothing says kitschy like a pony in a polo shirt.

12 March 2009

Well, shoot

Warning: this one isn't particularly funny. But it was on my mind.

A few days ago I read about a problem some people are encountering on Facebook. Here's the article: http://www.slate.com/id/2212301/

Basically, on Facebook, people can tag you in a picture, and many people are uploading embarrassing old pictures of their friends thus removing any dignity a person may have attained in the years since high school.

I think I would have enjoyed the article more if it hadn't been so relevant. Last week a guy I knew in high school uploaded a picture from a marching band trip. It's not the most flattering picture of me. For one, when I was a teenager I had what doctors refer to as a bit of a weight problem. I also had bad acne and an attitude problem and I had a habit of dyeing my hair strange colors - blue for instance. It's mostly red in this particular picture but I appear to be holding my hand up to a tuba player's head, gun-like.

In my defense, I never really shot anyone, and if memory serves, he probably deserved it. But the point is that I'm not that obnoxious little punk anymore and it's a little awkward seeing pictures like these resurface at random. I don't feel a huge connection to the Jill in the picture and it seems weird that people might see the photo and think, oh, that's Jill.

But I have no control over who uploads what pictures and whether they tag me in them or not. So I've formulated a sort of revenge: I'm going to upload my own pictures from band trips, and the more they incriminate others the better. I figure it's my only recourse.

So be warned, people. If you photo tag me ... I'll tag back. And it won't be pretty. I've done a lot of dumb things in my life with a lot of dumb people, and I have pictures.

09 March 2009

Tag, I'm (sick of) it.

Ladies and gentlemen, I have a new pet peeve.

I realize this is probably something of a shock since I so rarely get worked up over stupid things. But, hey, sometimes these things happen, and this is one of those times.

Anyway. The thing that has been bothering me lately is something both sneaky and nefarious. It crept up slowly and has over time become a major issue in American today. I wholeheartedly believe it is responsible for, oh, sixty percent of textile-related violence today. I am, of course, referring to the quote-unquote tagless t-shirt.

On the surface, it’s a fantastic idea. Nobody likes those lousy, itchy tags stitched into the back neck seam of a t-shirt. Why not eliminate them and print the information instead directly onto the fabric? And if that was all that happened, I would be a happy girl.

But apparently, that’s not enough for the good folks at Hanes and Fruit of the Loom and every other t-shirt manufacturer out there. You see, there is so much important, vital information on a t-shirt tag that they couldn’t possibly fit it all inside the back of a shirt. No siree, they need a tag, and a tag they’ll have. So they stitch it into a side seam instead, usually the left, a few inches up from the hem.

And for some reason, this is twenty times worse than a neck tag. For starters, it still itches, and now in a much more obnoxious place. The logical thing to do as a consumer would be to cut the tag out. This, too, is more complicated. A tag at the neck can be cut next to the ribbed neckline quickly and easily, and you can usually cut it close to the edge without a problem. Not so with a side tag. The side tag is always serged in so that any attempt at removal risks hacking a hole in the side seam of your shirt. There’s no removing all of it without also removing the serging, which means your shirt could unravel and, potentially, come unstitched. So you’re forced to leave a small itchy strip there in the seam – always assuming, again, that you’ve managed to cut that closely without mutilating your shirt (and believe you me, I'm not that coordinated).

Can someone explain this to me? Usually when something ends in the suffix –less, I assume the item is without the thing it is less. A strapless gown, for instance, lacks straps. A horseless carriage requires no horses. A cordless phone doesn’t have a cord. A witless person can’t effectively string together more than three words. So why, I ask you, does a tagless t-shirt have a tag sewn into it?

I don’t care where the tag’s sewn in, Old Navy. If there is a tag sewn in at all, it is not a tagless shirt. So until you take all of that useless information from the tag and print it under the brand name and size at the back of the neck, you have not produced a tagless t-shirt. How’s about we call a spade a spade here, okay? There is, so far, no such thing as a tagless t-shirt.

Now if you'll excuse me, I've got to put something on this tag rash.

05 March 2009

Have you seen this picture?

Because it is hilarious.

I've been laughing my arse off about this for a solid week now. It's still funny.

02 March 2009

Oh, Katie ...

Top to bottom: Katie Holmes, Cillian Murphy

Dear Katie,
Please eat something.
Up to No Good

01 March 2009

Headed nowhere

So. Apparently I haven't ranted in a week now. Blogger says I last updated on the 22nd and today is March 1st.

This is a shame, really, because I'm too dang tired to be clever. I'm too dang tired for much of anything, really, and I have been for about a week. I haven't even finished my Valentine's candy yet and I'm usually a holiday ahead as far as candy goes.

I blame my migraine. Here you might think that I've made an error and that I should have pluralized the word migraine. You would be wrong. If I calculated it properly, I reckon I'd find I've actually had relatively few migraines in my life considering I've been getting them since I was ten. The problem is that each headache lasts at least a week.

A week.

Sometimes - frequently, in fact - longer. So my problem (one of about fifty) is that I've had this headache for a week now and it's made me crabby and unproductive. All I've had the energy for is looking at the same thirty or so websites over and over again and wondering why they don't update every twenty minutes, because I'm bored. Most of them update once daily or so, so I've had to play a lot of video games as well (hey, you try mowing the bloody lawn when your brain's trying to push its way out of your skull).

One of my daily obsessions is a blog called Your Next Gift dot com. Each day there is a new, fairly cool item that would make a good gift. The other day they featured this. It’s a voice-activated alarm clock.

I was excited by the idea at first but upon reading the description I was disappointed. It recognizes 10 commands and none of them are what I need in an alarm clock. I need something that will stop blaring when I shout “Shut up!”

Who designs these things, anyway? What's the point in having something voice-activated if I can only say certain things? Although I reckon this keeps the clock's feelings from getting hurt if I turn verbally abusive after a poor night's sleep.

But anyway. Back to my headache.

I've seen commercials for a prescription migraine drug (that doesn't work for me, if you were wondering) where migraine sufferers have been photoshopped so they're holding their own heads, Sir Patrick Delaney-Podmore-style. The caption is something to the effect that sometimes their migraines are so bad, they wish they could take their heads off.

I could see that, I suppose. There would certainly be some advantages to being headless. I know I'd like to see exactly how my arse looks in a pair of jeans before I leave the house. And if you were to meet up with other headless people, you could engage in all sorts of headless hijinks, as do the members of the Headless Hunt in "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets." But honestly, I've never had a headache so bad I wanted to remove my head. Probably just my central nervous system. You don't need one of those, right? I mean, the peripheral nervous system is such a slacker. Why not make it take some of the workload for a change?

Although I would miss conscious thought, I think. I've had electrical impulses firing in my brain for so long that I think I'd miss that as well. Which is why instead of removing anything vital I usually just take a Frova or two.

Frova is a wonderful little pill that my neurologist prescribed a year or two ago. It is the only thing that knocks my headaches down a few notches. And last October my doctor told me not to take it any more. So I've been forced to tough it out when a migraine hits.

I should mention that my version of toughing it out involves a lot of whining and sobbing and a fair amount of Twizzlers. And hours at a stretch on the computer. Which could prove useful. For all I know, tomorrow's Your Next Gift might be some sort of anti-migraine device.

Or at least something I can shout at if it makes a loud noise.