Archive | July, 2011

Seven Sad Songs

28 Jul

It’s not all rainbows, sunshine and unicorns here, people! I was in the throes of making mix CDs and noticed how many of my favorite tunes are about forbidden love/heartbreak – which isn’t difficult since so many songs are about that – and decided to share a selection with you. I think these are a very particular brand of forbidden love/heartbreak songs, don’t you?

1. Love Song (Tori Amos covering The Cure)

It just so happens that this one is my very favorite song of all time. Which is odd, considering I typically don’t have favorite anythings (although I am known to have favorite pants from time to time). Anyway, The Cure’s version is really great, but Tori’s version is transcendental.

2. With Every Heartbeat (Robyn)

Robyn was in my town this past weekend! I missed it because I was busy doing this, which makes me sound a lot cooler than I am.

3. Sophisticated Lady (Cat Power covering Duke Ellington)

Apparently I have a thing for covers that make you want to slit your wrists. I mean, seriously. They oughta outlaw this song it’s that good.

4. Bells for Her – Tori Amos (Trip Hop/Depressing Mix)

I really have no idea who remixed this. The “trip hop/depressing remix” is what it’s called in my iTunes library, which I named to differentiate it from the 12 gajillion other versions I have of the song Bells For Her. Rad song on its own, add slow remixiness and you get something great to drink to while sitting on your kitchen floor looking forlorn.

5. Siren – Tori Amos

Another Tori song! Aren’t I just a walking cliché? Technically this song may not really be about forbidden love or heartbreak. It could be about vanilla or teenage flesh or coquettes or… wait, no, I was right the first time.

6. St. Swithin’s Day – Dubstar covering Billy Bragg

I am apparently not allowed to own this song in the U.S., which is a bummer. And, what is it with me and covers anyway?

7. Romeo & Juliet – Amy Ray covering Mark Knopfler

You didn’t think I’d let you go without forcing you to listen to my favorite half of the Indigo Girls, did you? And that concludes this week’s edition of sad songs and covers!

What’s your favorite cover? What’s your favorite sad song? What’s your favorite song about forbidden love? Heartbreak? Share, share, share!

This week’s unicorn award goes to…

27 Jul

Commenter john_burke100! Here is the illustrious award in all its glittery, resplendent glory:

How did this mystery commenter win this amazing, shiny, and priceless award, you may wonder! Well dear readers, john_burke100, aka rootlesscosmo, was particularly awesome in last weekend’s open comment thread, wherein I said one lucky commenter would win the illustrious award. Weren’t paying attention? That’s OK, you’ll get your chance next week. If I remember. You never know with me, I can be kind of flaky. Anyway, back to extolling this week’s winning commenter’s many virtues!

JB100 took the time, in the comment box, to provide a long list of carefully-selected movie recommendations, which I thought was pretty darn thoughtful. Also? He knew the Medford, Oregon line from Double Indemnity! JB100 also one time put an entire chocolate cake recipe in a comment! I love me some cake, so you can’t go wrong with that.

Honorable mentions go to Lydia, who is doing a really cool series on her blog, and DZDZ, who came to my defense when some crazy person from 4chan or wherever dropped in to spew hate speech. Oh how I love the internets!

Weekend Open Thread: X-Files Edition

23 Jul

Super-late Friday post due to me being pooped earlier. That’s what happens when you get up at 4 a.m., but can’t tear yourself away from the X-Files at night early enough to get a decent night’s sleep.

Yes, that’s right. The X-Files. I never watched the full series before so I’m watching them now in the name of pop culture edumucation. And hoooooboy is there some serious stuff wrong with that show. For one, why does Mulder always drive? But I use my magic patriarchy-filtering, laser-beam shooting eye shields to screen all that out, because Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny are both smokin’.

Ahem. Anyway, to distract you from that disturbing little overshare, here’s some Friday adorableness!

You know the drill, folks! Talk amongst yourselves in the comments, and feel free to scold me on any number of items, including but not limited to how I haven’t gotten to your reader request yet. (Refer to above “pooped” excuse.)

Today’s questions-to-get-you-started are X-Files related:

  • What’s your guilty pop-culture pleasure? I have too many to list. It’s truly horrifying. I’ll make a list soon so you can feel superior, I promise.
  • What’s your guilty “harm-reduction/patriarchy-indulgence” thing? You know what I mean – like wearing makeup/shaving your legs/walking around in stilettos or getting strapping young men to help you move heavy things. Or if you’re a straight man, do you do anything that goes against your nature to conform to society’s expectation of dudeliness?

Expound in the comments, dearies. Dooo eeet! The unicorn award goes to the bestest comment of the weekend. What’s the unicorn award, you ask? There’s only one way to find out.

Klondike responds!

21 Jul
The ice-cream purveyors at Klondike/Unilever have responded to my complaint about their heinous heinous ads! Read below:
—–

Hello MS. SARAH _____,

Thank you for writing to us.

We do apologize for the experience you reported concerning Klondike Commercials.

Unilever Ice Cream markets its various brands in ways that are meant to entertain and engage our target audience. It was only intended to be humorous.

We certainly do not wish to offend anyone. You may be interested to know that all of our commercials and advertisements are pre-tested and various techniques are used to evaluate consumer reactions. Based on the results of our pre-testing procedures, the presentations are chosen for their majority appeal. Please let us assure you that your comments are extremely important to us in evaluating the success of our commercials and advertisements.

We will certainly forward your comments to the Marketing staff. Consumer comments are very important and evaluated on a regular basis.

Sincerely,

Your friends at Klondike

– 
More to come on this later. But feel free to poke some holes in their pre-testing procedures with their target audience. I see no way that these ads wouldn’t offend most demographics – even the darling demographic of straight white men dislike being portrayed as oafish.

Also: Note their use of an honorific!

Vaginas are the center of the world!

20 Jul

Continuing on yesterday’s theme of terrifying advertisements, today I bring you more douchebaggery (no, literally!) via the new Summer’s Eve ad campaign:

I had no idea vaginas had babies ALL BY THEMSELVES! Amazing, I say, simply incredible! Also? Douching is pretty much the opposite of taking care of your “cradle of civilization.” No self-respecting medical professional would ever recommend anyone do such a weird-ass thing to their privates.

Buuuut in a strictly academic sense, at least they’re taking a new approach to helping women get uterine and yeast infections. Just try cradling a civilization after a bout with pelvic inflammatory disease! I dare ya.

Video via Feministe and Adrants.

Klondike bar ads are insulting, lazy

19 Jul

Have you guys seen this crap? Apparently I’ve been hiding under a rock, or at least eschewing prime-time network television, because Klondike’s effort to re-brand was going mostly under my radar until recently. Peep this horribleness:

Oh ha! I get it! Women are boring! Especially if you’re married to them! It’s like torture to listen to them! BAAHAHAHAHA! Hilarious. /sputter Oh yeah, and did we mention gay people are just … icky?

It’s a generally-accepted fact that the very last thing a straight man would ever want to be caught doing is something gay-seeming! Although it might be worse to actually care about the person you committed to spend your life with – hard to tell from these commercials.

Sarcasm aside, it is possible to be funny and sell ice cream without implying that women are insufferable bores and being gay is wrong (and straight men can never show affection). This is lazy work, plain and simple. The Via Agency, the ad agency that Klondike hired to put together their re-branding campaign, should be ashamed.

I complained, I hope you do too. Tell Klondike you won’t be buying their products because of these spots. If you’re an advertising nerd like me and you’re opposed to the ads on multiple levels (not only are they sexist and homophobic, they’re unimaginatively so), you can also scold The Via Agency. Humor ain’t hard, people. Wise up or lose business.

Do you think these ads are worse than normal, or just more blatant? And who decided that all mint flavors must forever come in fluorescent green anyway? Technicolor is for TVs, not food. Sheesh.

Weekend open thread: Google Plus! and other news

15 Jul
Just because Rebecca Black is a fan of Friday doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be, too. Everyone loves a good Friday (even if Friday isn’t your Friday, and you don’t celebrate Good Friday). And in this new tradition of copping out of having to write a real post by opening the floor up to y’all, it’s time for a weekend open thread!
Today’s topic is Google+! Mostly ‘cuz I want you to be my pal on there. It’s boring without interesting people to talk to. You can find me by looking up adventuresinmediocrity@gmail.com. I think. I’m still a little fuzzy on the details. If you need an invitation I’ll give you one. Oh yeah, and here’s a Google Plus-themed picture to replace the usual adorable animal one (adorable animals to return next week):

From someecards.com

ANYway. If you’re stuck for things to talk about, here are some starter questions:
  • Are you a social networking junkie? Why/why not? If you are, feel free to expound about the Google+ thing. If not, you’re probably not going to comment anyway, amiright?
  • Does your online community differ significantly from your real-world community? (my answer is below!) How? Why do you think that is?
  • Why won’t Google+ make it so we can merge accounts? (rhetorical, although feel free to answer if you’re a Google developer)
  • Do you ever worry that Google is going to one day grow spindly little arms with spikes on the ends and then implant itself in your brain, controlling your every move and thought, turning you and millions of others into little Google-borg-bots?
  • Are some social networks more “safe spaces” (by this I mean prejudice/patriarchy/violent threat-free, or at least as much as possible) than others? Which ones?
I know that my online social network differs a whole lot from the real-world one, mainly because I know for a fact that most of you reader-types are feminists and “get” the feminist-y (and sociologicalish) stuff I write about on here (the rest of it is just drek. I mean really.). In the real world, I may not find out a friend’s thoughts on feminism – or any other ism – until the friendship is well-developed – which is fine. Just different. Both realms serve their purposes quite well – without real world interaction I’d go bonkers. But without an online community of whip-smart people like you, I’d probably think the whole world was out to get me and never leave the house.

Beware the Insidious Honorifics: Mr., Mrs., Miss, Ms.

13 Jul
From here.

Did you know that honorifics, seemingly applied equally – and equally respectfully – to men and women, are not, in fact, equal, nor equally respectful?

There’s a very interesting post from dictionary.com, a useful word-nerd web site, on the topic of the etymology of Mr. and Mrs. According to the folks over there, the origins of “Mr./Mister” are as follows:

“Once used to address men under the rank of knighthood, by the mid-18th century mister became a common English honorific to generally address males of a higher social rank.”

Here we see that “Mister” does indeed have its roots in a term of respect (or alternatively, fear and control. Either way, not too bad of a deal for the recipients of the prefix).

On Mrs.:

“Mrs. is a contraction derived from Middle English maistresse, ‘female teacher, governess.’ Once a title of courtesy, mistress fell into disuse around the late 14th century. The pronunciation, however, remained intact. By the 15th century, mistress evolved into a derogatory term for “a kept woman of a married man. … ‘Miss’ also derives from ‘mistress.’ ”

Both “Mrs.” and “Miss” derive from questionably neutral (female teacher, governess – it could be argued that these were servant-class occupations back in the 17th century, hence why neutrality is questionable) and outright negative (kept woman of a married man) origins.

So while the use of the term “Mr.” is straightforward, the use of any honorific for a female is not. Even the use of the quasi-neutral phrase “Ms.” has alienating potential in certain fundamentalist/antifeminist circles. Nowadays, “Mrs.” simply means “married.” Which is pretty darn problematic in and of itself – defining women by their marital status, but not men, is so far beyond the pale of how modern society should be functioning that writing more on the topic seems redundant – it’s why “Ms.” was coined.

Sure, maybe it’s just a question of semantics – and I’ll admit I’m overly sensitive to such things – I do, after all, cringe every time someone abuses an adverb (“Eat Local”?!? No, it’s eat locally! If you’re going to be snobby about your food, you may as well be snobby about your grammar as well. Sheesh.) and have to bite my tongue when I overhear someone saying “There is five options …”

But I’d argue that the use of honorifics of any sort is damaging not only to women, but to society in general. Look closer and you’ll see they’re more insidious than simple grammatical gaffery. The use (or conspicuous lack of use) of honorifics is a way to editorialize – just like the use of modifying words like said/claim. Extreme case in point? The NY Times stopped using “Mr. bin Laden,” switching to just “Bin Laden” at some point, but kept the honorifics for everyone else. Although no one will argue that criminals ought to be accorded extra social niceties, it’s easy to see how the subtle drop of an honorific prefix could be used as a lexocological weapon.

It remains interesting to me that the New York Times continues to insist on using honorifics – with notable exceptions. Gender-neutral outs exist only for people with Ph.Ds and religious credentials, which is yet another way to subtly reinforce class striation from within the confines of the printed word.

What do you think – does being called Mr/Mrs/Miss/Ms or ma’am/sir connote old-fashioned respect or outdated snobbery? Is this type of thing done in other countries outside the US?

Read the full Dictionary.com post here.

Five Things I Learned in Vegas

8 Jul

Since it’s almost the weekend, how about some life lessons from the partyingest city in the Western US? Yes, I went there. Of my own free will. It’s true! I have proof. Since I’m a paragon of virtue and all, I thought you could benefit from some Tips For Vegas (from me):

5. Bingo and Blackjack are fun.
4. Slot machines are boring
3. $20 drinks are worth it…
2. …but free jagerbombs are better
1. Hookers and blow are harder to get than you’d think.

That’s all folks! What are y’all doing this weekend?

Fourth of July Word Vomit

4 Jul

I used to hate the Fourth of July – all those grotesque displays of blind patriotism and all, tons of hamburgers, parades (who doesn’t love a parade? Sometimes me, apparently), fireworks set off in the streets by people who obviously don’t value the sanctity of their digits. And also, there’s this:

Sociologists have critiqued nationalism for being the source of an irrational commitment and loyalty to one’s nation, a commitment that makes one willing to both die and kill.

But sinister flag-waving and irritating crowds aside, I kind of like July 4 nowadays.The weather is usually decent, there is a three-day weekend involved, there is food around, and I can’t help loving an excuse to make themed desserts. Also, it’s the biggest secular holiday in the US, which is kind of neat. No one is excluded on the basis of religion, and if you don’t celebrate it, you really needn’t squirm when someone asks you your plans – anything you do this weekend can be construed as a holiday celebration.Compare that to Easter or Christmas, where people will almost unfailingly ask you what your plans are, and when you haven’t thought ahead to have a made-up answer at the ready they look at you funny.

So here’s what I’m doing to celebrate:

  • Putting homemade ice cream in my coffee instead of cream
  • Eating pie
  • Going to a picnic later
  • Eating more pie
  • Riding the bus to where the fireworks are later
  • Taking a walk
  • Lying around making lame bulleted lists

How do you feel about patriotic holidays? Conflicted? Delighted? Grumpy? What do you do on long summer weekends, holiday or no?

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