Bacon, you are more than played out

27 05 2013

Bacon lovers, you have gone bat-shit crazy and it’s time someone called you out on it. I myself love bacon and the first time I saw band-aids printed with bacon strips I thought it was a great idea. Then bacon started appearing on the dessert menu and it was also a welcome addition. Ditto for the first bacon food festival I read about. But somewhere down the rising disposable income line things took a turn for the worse. Bacon mania isn’t attractive anymore. It’s like an athlete on steroids: the magic is lost by the too much of it all. Bacon taco shells? Please stop before you turn me vegetarian out of spite. Let’s return to the simpler days of sizzling bacon for breakfast, hold the bacon cupcakes, which, frankly, suck.

Bacon mania has gone too far.

Bacon mania has gone too far.





Good things come to those who scalp

7 04 2013
View from my box suite @ MSG for the Pink concert

View from my box suite @ MSG for the Pink concert

I consider myself a low risk individual. The company I work for runs a lot of programs for entrepreneurs. The bigger the risk the bigger the return. Think big. Act bold. Risk a lot, gain a lot. All foreign concepts to me.

If I was forced to follow that advice, it would be as strange as if I was told I was about to become the captain of a whaling ship. What, now? You want me to exchange my MetroCard for a large wooden ship, which isn’t even as long as the G train, and do what to the largest mammal on earth? I mean, I like the way I look in a woolen pea coat, but no thank you.

However, when I talk to some of my friends about buying tickets from scalpers on the street, I get the impression that they find the whole thing too risky to do themselves.

Which I think is stupid. I’m not talking about selling scalped tickets. I’m talking about buying tickets on the street outside the venue for a show you really want to go to but couldn’t get tickets for in advance. True, the person I’m buying them from isn’t Monsieur Ticketmaster, but I usually end up paying face value for them. And the situation feels as convenient as when I buy them online where the company has the audacity to change me a convenience fee for that transaction. (Who invented the convenience fee? I think I speak for everyone when I say I want to punch that person in the face.)

But if you do consider it risky behavior, then think about this reward: sometimes I get tickets for free. Really, really good tickets, like a box suite at Madison Square Garden.

A few weeks ago I decided at the last minute to go to the Pink concert at Madison Square Garden. The only tickets still for sale online were over $100, all the cheap seats were sold out. So I decided to try my luck with the scalpers.

The first guy I went up to had tickets for $150 each. If I’d wanted to pay that much, I would have done it the legit way. So I walked around a bit, going up to normal looking people (as in, non-burley scalper-looking guys) who were standing alone, possibly waiting for their plus one to show up, possibly wanting to sell their extra ticket to me rather than eating the cost of the ticket for their no-show friend.

After hearing “no,” a few times I eventually made my way over to someone who didn’t look like a Pink fan at all. I doubted she was here for the show at all, but you don’t know unless you ask. And to be totally stereotypical, she looked like someone’s frumpy, middle-aged Latino housekeeper-slash-nanny.

I started my speech.

“Do you have an extra ticket?”

“Yes.”

Really?! I’m thinking. But I keep my game face on. “How much?”

“Free. It’s a box suite”

I just raise my eyebrows and tuck in my chin, offering my look of I-may-be-a-tunnel-and-bridge-girl-but-I’m-not-that-stupid.

She hands me the ticket and it doesn’t look like any ticket I’ve seen before. It’s my first show at Madison Square Garden, so it’s true I don’t know what their tickets look like for sure, but I’ve seen most of the other fans carrying typical looking computer print outs and I’m surprised to see this small purple ticket in my hand.

“It’s real,” she says. Then she winks at me, tells me to enjoy myself and that she’ll see me up there.

I take the ticket and walk away figuring that if it’s a fake, at least I didn’t pay for it and I can always go back to the $150 guy and buy a ticket to see the show. For that price, they’re probably good seats. Maybe even floor access.

Then I have another thought – this is how people get abducted into sex slavery. I’m totally going to be a part of the white slave trade just because I wanted to see some pop music on a Friday night. Damn my good looks!

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Dear Mississippi, I like you.

24 03 2013

Mississippi roadYou’re broke, you’re fat, you couldn’t even give me an abortion if I wanted one and you still let people smoke indoors, like some carcinogenic relic of my early bar days. (You do your own thing and don’t give a fuck.) But you won me over with a first impression. The other states we bounced by didn’t give as much. Alabama – missed the good stuff. Arkansas was a bit of a ghost town and Tennessee rained on me, not its fault, but I need the sun. Mississippi, I like the way your people talk to me, feed me doughnuts and orange juice for breakfast and make me feel at home even if I never want to live there. Plowed cotton fields to drive by and a breading ground for music that makes my butt wiggle. You just feel good to me and I want to say thank you.





Casting my vote in the 2012 American presidential election

21 10 2012

As I’ve said before, I love voting. But that doesn’t mean I love our grater political institutions. The act of voting is separate from deciding who to vote for, and this year’s election cycle has been especially off-putting.

So, I’m planning on casting a write-in vote, probably for Hillary Rodham.

Why am I going the write-in route rather than voting for the same person I did the last go round?

Mainly because I live in a liberal town where my vote doesn’t really count, so I can play around with the ballot box like this. (Can you imagine if we told soldiers they were giving their lives so we could “play around with the ballot box” instead of telling them they were preserving the freedoms of democracy? That’s a discussion for another day…)

But there are a few things Obama has been up to which don’t make me especially happy.

1) Detaining Americans without charging them isn’t cool. Even if this law was subsequently struck down by a judge. (See this badly bootlegged Daily Show clip for information about the law. And this article about the judge’s ruling.)

2) I’m also not that pleased about the increased drone strikes under Obama. (Here’s a handy map o’death.)

3) Is it just me, or does he always seem to be caving to Republicans on tax cuts? (It’s not just me.)

That’s not to say the administration hasn’t been without high points. Good job passing healthcare reform. Not the best law ever, but a very good start at scaling back the profits and bureaucracy surrounding our basic rights. Also, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act has a nice ring to it; let’s hope its aim is true.

A big part of me isn’t voting for Obama because I’m just fed up with the phoniness of the election campaign. You give me fake candidates, I’ll give you a fake vote. Maybe I’ll put London mayor Boris Johnson down as my pick. I think he handled himself pretty well when he got stuck on that zip wire this summer.

There’s too much money and spin and sound bites and flag lapel pins for me to take it seriously. Which is a problem because it is serious. One of the liars on the ballot is going to the White House. God bless the United States of America. We need it.





How PBS has brainwashed me

13 10 2012

Election season and projectile stupidity are in full swing in America. One of the asinine notions making the rounds with the right-wingers is that PBS brainwashes kids into becoming socialists through programs like Sesame Street, which teaches anti-American values like sharing and respect.

As a victim of PBS brainwashing, I feel the need to speak out. Not because they’ve brainwashed me into becoming a socialist (that’s the job of my French boyfriend) but because their documentaries have indoctrinated me with the notion that my life will achieve levels of greatness on par with Willa Cather, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Alistair Cooke.

Specifically, I live my life as though it’s being narrated as an episode of American Masters. (What? Not modest enough? Should I have just stuck with American Experience?).

I have watched so many documentary and biography programs over the years, on PBS and in other formats, that it has seriously tailored my view of life. Possibly warped it. Definitely brainwashed it.

It’s not just that I imagine I will eventually because famous or well-respected (in life or death, you never can tell with intellectual celebrity) but that each phase of my life is meaningful in ways that professors backlit by Ken Burns will clearly explain to viewers years from now.

I would try to explain to you here how the choices I’ve made thus far have developed my genius, but I neither have the right perspective nor the right tweed jacket to make those statements.

What I’m trying to say is that when I reflect on my life in my own head, I picture people on TV, cropped from the waist up and sitting in their libraries, justifying my choices. While other people might use Sex and the City dialogue or a horoscope’s advice to gloss over their mistakes and regrets, I hear the PBS narration.

I’m not worried about it and you shouldn’t be either. Judging from the swelling music rising up behind the latest revelation about my life, things will have a happy ending, brainwashed or not.

As for the America election, I’ll leave that to Frontline to sort out.





The Pillars of (my) Speech

27 09 2012

My language skills are pretty limited considering I claim to make a living as an editor, according to my tax returns. That I can’t spell was established a million years ago. It’s a little frustrating these days when the foreigners I work with and date spell English words better than I do, but since I literally own The Bad Speller’s Dictionary, it’s not really a surprise.

Maybe that’s why I tend to stick with the vocabulary words I know. There are three words that I use to start 90% of my sentences, spoken, written, fragmented or however else they tumble out.

If I had to fill out a Proust Questionnaire about the pillars of my speech, this is what I’d write.

anyway, this man is not impressed with my writing skills

Anyway: most frequently used in casual conversation among friends, as if I’m continuing a never ending conversation. It can also be used on its own, just a word spoken outloud, while nodding my head when I have nothing else to say. You might ask, “ ‘Anyway….’ What?” To which I’d say, “Nothing. Just ‘Anyway’.” And you would again wonder why I get paid so much to butcher the English language in a professional setting.

So: when you hear this word, just play along and talk back to me. I use it to start sentences that I’ve racked my brain to find when the conversation has flatlined. Other people do this, too, as in the “So, how ‘bout them Yankees,” or “So, seen any good movies lately,” conversations. But I’ll also use it to start logical conversations that somehow can feel unnatural, such as “So, happy birthday.” Why didn’t I just say “Happy birthday,”? I didn’t want to startled you with my abruptness.

Well: shit is about to go down. This is the buffer word I use before delivering bad news. I mostly use it at work in sentences that start out, “Well, I disagree,” or “Well, actually that’s wrong.” In the grand scheme of things, the bad news I’m delivering is pretty minor. But I can see myself ramping it up a notch and saying “Well, China is taking over America,” or “Well, dolphins have finally learned how to use computers and will soon be putting us in zoos.”





Thanks for the free birth control, Uncle Sam

1 08 2012

Today, the section of the Affordable Care Act that provides free preventative care for women went into affect. As in: Ladies, our birth control pills are now free!

How great is this? A pharmacist once tried to charge me $45/month ($540/year) for birth control pills because my insurance plan changed and the co-pay suddenly increased. I had been paying about $12/month ($144/year).

This pissed me off. Practically everything surrounding the bureaucracy of healthcare pisses intelligent people off.

I am a healthy, rich, white lady with great health insurance, but the shit that goes down during a typical check-up always leaves me ranting for days afterwards. And I am not alone.

Let me explain the hoops you have to jump through to have your pills covered by insurance. You need to have an annual exam (which can run over $100 with insurance, not counting any lab work you have done) in order for insurance to pay for your pills (most insurance requires you to pay a co-pay). Insurance will only pay for one exam every year, so you have to make sure you schedule your appointment at least 12 months and one day after your last exam.

The catch is that your practitioner probably only wrote you a prescription for 12 months of the pill. So you have to schedule your appointment in that magical window of time one year past your last exam and before your pills run out. Plus, you have to keep other black out dates in mind: When will you be on your period? What days does your practitioner work? And I hope you don’t have anything else schedule around those days that could interfere with your exam, like a job, scheduled vacation or life in general.

Should you have a health care practitioner who fails you and you go off your regular pills until you get a new prescription (a problem one of my friends had) you could start bleeding randomly. And if you use the pill to prevent pregnancy (that’s right, if you didn’t know, the pill has many, many uses besides pregnancy prevention) good luck with your back-up plan.

WE ARE ALL ON THE PILL. MAKE IT EASIER FOR US TO GET IT.

During one particularly frustrating visit I was stuck wearing a paper gown while being put on hold by my insurance company when I tried calling them on my cell phone mid-doctor’s visit.

A few weeks earlier, the doctor’s office had initially called me to schedule my annual appointment. I doubled checked my own records and with the scheduler to ensure my insurance would cover the visit. I took the morning off of work, sat around for almost an hour in the waiting room because the practitioner was running late, and when I finally got in, got my vital signs checked and put on the standard issue paper gown, another employee stuck her head in the door and told me I should probably call my insurance before they go any further to double check they would pay for my visit.

“Can’t we just call them after?” I asked.

“If we do that, this visit could cost hundreds of dollars. Just call and double check first.”

This is not the conversation I want to have. Especially when I’m feeling stressed out about taking time off work. And while I’m wearing paper clothing.

It’s not like being on the pill is as temporary as being on cold medicine. As stupid as it sounds, you can think of fertility as a chronic disease because a lot of us spend decades taking pills for it.

Pills so expensive I used to clip coupons for them. That’s right, my college newspaper used to run a Planed Parenthood ad that was a buy six packs, get one free ad for birth control.

When I brought the ad into the medical office, the practitioner working there was so enthusiastic about seeing the discount coupon she encouraged me to stock up on them.

This is one of many reasons why I love Planned Parenthood: they understand the cost and hassle of healthcare and try to make it easier with coupons and weekend hours.

Getting back to the Affordable Care Act, I’m glad that the pills are free and that we’re getting a bunch of other stuff for free*, too. (*not really free since I pay taxes, but ya know, it’s more exciting when you think of it as being free). The list of covered services includes well-woman visits, STD testing and a bunch of other stuff that will probably come in handy for most of us*. (*with lady parts).

But since it’s not just the cost of the pills that such a hassle, but getting the prescription for them, too, the government needs to do more.

So I say, thanks for the free pills, Uncle Sam. Now when can I get them over the counter?