Monday, December 31, 2007

What song is this?

This is amazing. Plays backward and then forward. Watch the whole thing. (It's only 2 and a half mins) So great:

Saturday, December 29, 2007

"We did whatever we could do to win"

This post is not about a six-year-old girl. This post is about a six-year-old's mom and the pop culture phenom that is Hannah Montana.

In case you haven't seen this story, you can read about it on CNN.com: "Girl wins concert tickets with essay faking dad's death in Iraq." Basically, a little girl entered a contest to win Hannah Montana concert tickets and a Hannah Montana makeover by submitting an essay that started: "My daddy died this year in Iraq." It came out this week that the girl and her mother made the story up to win the contest. Her mother said: "We did whatever we could do to win."

Let's face it, a six-year-old doesn't know any better. Age 6 is when we start to learn these things. You steal something from your friend's house, your mom yells at you and makes you return it and apologize. Moms are around to teach those lessons. How else will kids learn right from wrong? Which is why I think this story is horrifying. It's doubtful that the essay topic was the kid's idea. And all for Hannah Montana tickets?!

I've seen these kids and their moms on Oprah when people from Hannah Montana are the special guests. They need to pull it together! Especially the moms. It's a kids' show. Get a grip.

But this has taken the Hannah Montana frenzy to a new level. And this girl's mother should be ashamed of herself. Not only teaching her kid to lie to get what she wants -- but THIS kind of lie? There are ACTUAL soldiers dying in roadside bombings. There are actual people with dying parents. Two of my friends' parents died recently. And this girl's mother encourages her to make up a dead dad in her essay for HANNAH MONTANA tickets?

Watch out for this duo. I'm sure beauty pageants are next. This woman screams stage mom. I just hope her kid has someone around who she can look up to -- and maybe someone teaching her a lesson or two as well.

And a message to all you Hannah Montana crazy people out there -- it's just a show. (This is coming from the queen of tv, too, so it means something.) You all need to get it under control. It's not really that important. Like I said, there are ACTUAL soldiers dying in roadside bombings... Who don't know who the hell Hannah Montana is. And who couldn't care less.

Bottled water

Finally catching up on my blog reading now that Christmas is over. Wanted to draw your attention to a post over at Ben and Jerzy's blog: "Bottle your own water." Ben's done his research, and his post contains some great food (or... drink?) for thought.

(Want to get more ideas for going green? Check out Living Green, at Better Homes and Gardens.)

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Dear Barista: I'll have a Virgin White Russian?

Blog readers:

Would you attend a Starbucks "happy hour" - no alcohol, of course? I'd give it a go. But I don't exactly foresee that as the key to success the 'Bucks has been looking for.

"Forget the Cute TV Critters; Starbucks Needs a Happy Hour"

But do I agree with the author that the Starbucks ads definitely aren't doing it for me. The article also includes valuable insight into the problem with Starbucks' widespread popularity. It's no longer an "experience," a "getaway" -- dare I say an "oasis"?

I've spent many an hour in that place. Studying, chilling, chatting, cramming, procrastinating, working, reading... it used to be the place to do it all. Maybe it's just since I moved to the city, but Starbucks doesn't hold the same allure. Don't get me wrong though, my heart still skips a beat to see those red cups back again. (Talk about great branding.)

What do you think? Actually, I know what a lot of you think -- "Starbucks is the devil. So who cares?" I know. (I really do.) What do the rest of you think?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Supersize My... Report Card?

McDonald's is now advertising on report cards in the Seminole County school district in Florida, according to an article in Advertising Age last week.

"McD's Newest Ad Platform: Report Cards"

The report cards now sport a Mickey D's coupon on their fronts, offering a free happy meal to kids who get good grades, don't have many absences, or are generally well-behaved... and who bring their report card -slash- coupon to a participating McDonald's.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all about good grades. I'm a total geek like that. But does this ad campaign take advertising to a dangerous low? When McDonald's is fronting the printing costs for your report cards (I'm looking at you, Seminole County) in exchange for free advertising -- doesn't that cross a line?

It raises the old Channel One debate again. What's advertising's place in schools?

(If you don't know about Channel One, you can read a summary of the debate here at Commercial Alert. Also, check out http://www.obligation.org, a site built to raise awareness about commercialism in schools.)

Some parents are upset because McDonald's is side-stepping the parents and not only targeting kids directly but also telling them what their reward should be for good behavior: fast food. I think the problem's even bigger than that. And it's not just McDonald's. (Although it's so easy to hate on Mickey D's.)

I remember back when I was a smaller, younger geek and always participated in the Book It! program at school. You read a certain number of books, you get a free topping on your Pizza Hut pizza. Ultimate product placement. I didn't think anything of it at the time, but it definitely made my family take a trip to Pizza Hut that we otherwise wouldn't have taken. So in retrospect, it was brilliant marketing. That doesn't make it right though. Kids are impressionable and don't understand about media literacy. I know schools need funding. But I don't think fast food chains is where they should be getting it. Not in exchange for direct, targeted advertising to kids in the one place that's supposed to be governmentally sanctioned as safe from evil media: school.

What say you, blog readers? Do you agree with me: that McDonalds-sponsored report cards is taking it too far? Or do you think it's really no big deal? Companies have been doing these things for years, and we all turned out okay.

But does that make it right?

va-jay-jay: origins

Also, the origins of "va-jay-jay," used oh so cleverly in the title of my last blog post.

"What Did You Call It?"

From the New York Times a couple weeks ago.

Think it's a step forward? A step backward? Don't care? Yeah, me either really. But what's interesting to me is that the reason Shonda Rimes used it on Grey's Anatomy (which is where it gained so much popularity) was to appease ABC Standards and Practices, who requested there be fewer uses of the word "vagina" on the show.

Shonda later went on to make the series Private Practice, picked up by ABC, which is about an ob-gyn practice. Where there are infinite mentions of the vagina. Whole storylines surrounding it, in fact. And perhaps just a little too much labor for comfort. (Read about it in my post at The Televisionista.) Anyway, thought you might be interested.

Is your va-jay-jay better than your Visa?

An article posted today at The Consumerist talks about underwear recently found in the juniors section at Wal-Mart. View the picture with the article here.

This relates to one of my old blog posts: Lolita's Closet

What's the world coming to?

(P.S.: Thanks Ben for sending me the tip!)

Monday, December 3, 2007

World Aids Day was Dec. 1

This first vid is annoying - but stick with it. There's a point. The second is from the (RED) campaign.

"Actual reality. Act up. Fight AIDS!"



The Foundation for Aids Research



Join (RED)

Sunday, December 2, 2007

More ad targeting

"Ad targeting improves as websites track consumer habits" from CNN.com today.

More info about behavioral targeting in ads. Why do I keep posting this stuff? Because you need to know. You don't want to be one of the people this woman is talking about in the article, do you?:

"You want to have enough targeting that a consumer notices the message and pays attention, but you don't want it to be so obvious that they are thinking (there) is targeting," said Tracy Ryan, professor of advertising research at Virginia Commonwealth University. "That would be scary."

Let me assure you... there is. Be a knowledgeable media consumer.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Sins of the father?

Interesting debate going on in the advertising world. If you're like me and apparently live under a rock, read about it in this article from Advertising Age: "Dove Viral Draws Heat From Critics."

Here's the sitch. We've all seen Dove's revolutionary campaigns for women. (What? Ads that don't make women feel ugly and disgusting? I can't believe it!) Watch the infamous "Evolution" ad here.

(For the record, the "Evolution" ad caused some great debates on the Fordham Sociology message boards last year when I was still in the program there, not unlike Dove's ad campaigns in general. The two arguments sound something like this. Side 1: Dove's Campaign for Women is a huge advertising scam, playing on women's insecurities to sell products while pretending it's noble. Side 2: All companies advertise, including Dove, and all advertising is trying to sell products. Wouldn't you rather have positive advertising that's empowering for women?)

Anyway, this newest controversy is over a more recent Dove internet ad that picks on the beauty advertising industry. It's a nice ad, called "Onslaught." Watch it here:



Here's the controversy: Dove is owned by Unilever. Unilever who? The same Unilever who brings you Axe body spray, with its amazingly misogynistic ad campaigns. Critics cringe at the hypocrisy of Dove picking on the beauty industry while its hot sexy brother company is one of the worst offenders. So this video has been circling on the web lately, "Onslaught Exposed." Check it out:



This video was made by an industry insider... Rye Clifton, who's a senior strategic planner at another agency. Adds an interesting twist, no?

I'm not sure how I feel about all this. On one hand, Dove and Axe have two different advertising agencies running their campaigns. Should one be held responsible for the other? On the other hand, they are separate brands owned by the same company. Does that make Dove too full of hypocrisy? The Dove campaign is great, and ultra-representative of Dove's branding and mission statement. I appreciate the new ads. Does the hypocrisy take away from them? I'm not sure. I'm pretty jaded in general, and tend to see all corporations as hypocrites off the bat. I distrust anyone trying to sell me a product at all. They may be hypocrites because of their brother brand, but at least Dove's ads themselves are positive.

Regardless, perhaps the most interesting aspect of the controversy is the power of social media. These Dove ads are internet-release only, I believe. The "Onslaught Exposed" ad was created by a strategic planner purely for release on the internet. The discussion around the videos is happening on blogs and forums. Fascinating stuff. She types, while on the internet.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Red and GREEN

There's just something about the Christmas coffee cups at Dunkin Donuts that makes me want to buy coffee and then go Christmas shopping. Have you seen them? They're the standard styrofoam DD cups, but they have tiny red and green Christmas trees on them. I don't know what about them is so attractive to me.

But the environmentalist in me cringes. Why does Dunkin Donuts still insist on using styrofoam cups? Even if they're decorated all cute-like and Christmas-y.

On the other hand, the world's new superpower Google has started going green. Read the article from CNet News here: "Google to enter clean-energy business"

Google founder Larry Page said: "We feel hypocritical as a company so we want to make the investments so that alternatives are available down the road."

Sounds like a pretty decent plan to me. Now if only the other superpower - you know, America - would follow suit...

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Personal info, anyone?

Google's one step closer to taking over the world...

Google Plans Service to Store Users' Data

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Vid city

Forget Last.fm. (see my post here) Apparently I'm behind the times all over the place. Did you know about these?:
Hulu
Bebo

return to sender

What say you, Cred readers? Is email dead?

Food for thought in this age of changing technology.

Darth Tater!!

These Mr. Potato Heads are amazing. Click on their names to go to their pages at Amazon.com. Or just enjoy the pictures below:

Opti-Mash Prime:



Artoo Potatoo:



Darth Tater:

"The half-pipe stays"

Fed-Ex is rocking it with their commercials lately:



"Awesome"

"Office Meeting"

This Fed-Ex commercial is funny. It reminds me of the Truth in Advertising video that I talked about in an earlier post. Anyway, enjoy:

Monday, November 19, 2007

Last.fm – The Social Music Revolution

Apparently I'm the last person on the face of the planet to hear about Last.fm, so humbly subtitled: "The Social Music Revolution." And revolution it is indeed.

Basically it's a social community site where you create a profile centered around music. It synchs with your iTunes or your iPod -- and serves up on your profile the songs you're listening to, your music habits, your ratings, and other personalized music info. It also shows you band and song info about whatever you're currently listening to. Then the coolest feature is that it personalizes a radio station for you based on your taste in music. And all of this is for free.

Hook me up, man! This is awesome.

Ad immunity?

Interesting article from Advertising Age today: "Ads keep spreading, but are consumers immune?" Definitely worth a read.

I was actually thinking about this over the weekend. I've been 2-3 weeks behind in my television watching, and the DVR gods have clearly been feeling a bit spiteful. You guessed it. The only show that my DVR caught over the last couple weeks was How I Met Your Mother. Thank gods for that one. But this meant that in order to catch up on my shows, I had to watch them online.

Anyone who has watched their fave prime time fare online knows that the video advertisements are extremely annoying. That's not news to you. (By the way, did you know that the movie This Christmas is coming out November 21?! Yeah I certainly do now, since I was forced to sit through the commercial 7 times per show...)

But what I was thinking about this weekend was why those commercials were irritating me so much. Obviously the repetition is one reason. (Once you've watched the Febreeze guy bend down to smell the carpet about three times, you start hoping this next time maybe he'll break his nose.)

But I think this article from Ad Age is on to something here. Maybe the biggest reason the video player ads are so annoying is because I NEVER sit through commercials anymore. Thanks to DVR, I watch everything on a time-delay, specifically so I don't have to watch irritating ads. I also have a blocker on my web browser to help me avoid those pesky internet pop-up ads. My eye ignores internet banner ads these days, not to mention the TV ads that glide across the bottom of my TV screen during my shows. I'm always listening to my iPod and reading a book on the bus or the subway, so I rarely notice taxi-top ads and billboards (although they probably catch my attention more than any other ad types).

So what's the fate of advertising? They always said in advertising classes that while you THINK you might be ignoring advertising, you never actually could. But with all these advances in technology, I really don't think that's true anymore. Obviously ad agencies are coming up with new and better (well, "better" is relative) ways to serve ads to us. But are we becoming immune even to new tactics? I've gotta say, eventually I started checking my email during the commercial breaks online. And, for the record, I NEVER read Google Ads. So I eventually avoided even the most intrusive of online ads. Maybe I'm not as much immune as I am clever and resourceful in avoiding ads. Or maybe not.

What say you, blog readers?

No Mo' NaNoWriMo

Due to various unforeseen circumstances that managed to eat up my nights and weekends this month (ad:tech, car breaking down, trip to Boston, client meetings, plagues, floods), I'm (un)gracefully bowing out of NaNoWriMo for the month of November. Yes, I'm a failure. Still have a grand total of 0 words -- and haven't even made an attempt to start. But I'm not giving up altogether! I think I'm going to choose another month as my own personal NaNoWriMo. (December maybe?) I encourage you to do the same!

(Don't know what the hell I'm talking about? See my earlier post here.)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Planet unicorn, heyyyy

My two favorite unicorn vids. (Ok, my only two unicorn vids. Surprisingly, however, these vids are unrelated to each other. Go unicorns.) These are "Planet Unicorn," and "Charlie the Unicorn." Thought I'd post in case you live under a rock and haven't seen these. Warning: They're funnier if you're drunk. But still. Enjoy.



"GoogleZon"

Check out this vid about the internet (and media) in 2015. It's a little dramatic, but pretty powerful. The craziest thing is that when it's put in the context of what's gone on in the last few years, it doesn't seem crazy at all. (Of course, I mean that it doesn't seem unrealistic. It's all pretty crazy indeed.) See for yourself:

Monday, November 12, 2007

Entertainment Weekly's iPod Inspection

Entertainment Weekly suggests that the last 5 songs played on your iPod can tell a lot about your mood. So I thought it would be something cool to try for the blog. Here goes:

Lisa's iPod:
- You Know I'm No Good (Amy Winehouse)
- My Stupid Mouth (Audra McDonald's cover of John Mayer)
- Paper Bag (Fiona Apple)
- Hey There Delilah (The Plain White T's)
- Kill (Jimmy Eat World)

Yeah, that's actually pretty accurate. Okay, now try it yourself!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Googled.

I'd be remiss if I didn't write yet another post about Google, after attending the Google party after ad:tech this week in NYC. (I felt so privileged to be "on the list." Ask me about it sometime.)

As you know, I've posted ad nauseum about Google taking over the world. (See my older posts here and here. Some of my friends post about Google too, like my friend David at DavidChivers.com. Read some of his Google posts here and here.)

Considering that, I was surprised today to hear that a couple of my non-blog-reading friends had no idea how powerful Google has become. I joked that I was sure my retinas had been scanned and all my personal information had been "shared" (read: stolen) while I was at the party. Their response? Confusion.

After I sent them a few links to do some reading up on one of the biggest superpowers I know, they were legitimately creeped out. No need to be creeped out, but you should be aware of what's going on in the web space, even if you're not in the biz. You use the internet, right? We could all use a little education.

In that spirit, try keeping up with Google news. Here's a link from my favorite dumbed-down, pretty-charts newspaper, USA Today. (You might be surprised to find Google at the gas pump, on your phone, at your online checkout, and in many other places you'd never have guessed. Collecting your personal information.)

If you have patience for some more substantial articles, you can read the ones that led to my suspicion and paranoia about Google. And yes, I'm aware that Google's reading this right now, thanks to Google's Blogger program that I use to produce Street Cred. First read this article from the NY Times: "Company will monitor phone calls to tailor ads," and then read this article from Slate: ""Google's Evil Eye: Does the big G know too much about us?" -- and then tell me you're not just a little paranoid...

Monday, November 5, 2007

NaNoWriMo

Well, it's officially National Novel Writing Month (aka NaNoWriMo... find it at http://www.NaNoWriMo.org).

The goal of NaNoWriMo is to write a 50,000 word novel in one month. That's about 175 pages. Because you only have one month to write, you're supposed to focus on quantity, not quality. There's always time to edit later. You "win" NaNoWriMo if you complete 50,000 words, counted by computer robots. That's it. No judging, no scores. Nobody even reads it, unless you show it to them. It's a great exercise for a perfectionist like me. I don't care so much about the novel - I'm trying to learn to let go a little bit and stop trying to make everything perfect. Maybe NaNoWriMo will be just the thing.

If you've never heard of NaNoWriMo, that probably means you don't have any friends who have done it. I'm lucky enough to have one!

Becca rocked NaNoWriMo last year, and this year she encouraged me to try it out too. My sister's participating as well. (Currently Becca's up to 6,688 words, my sister's up to 1,070 words, and I'm up to a grand total of 0 words. But I'd like to point out that I keep a total of two blogs and, as far as I know, they keep a total of zero. Hehe. Okay, so that's not an excuse.)

NaNoWriMo has some suggestions to help you actually complete your novel in the month. One of those is public embarrassment. You're supposed to tell people you're doing it, so that you feel pressured to finish - for fear of looking like someone with no follow-through. Clearly I need some kind of extra motivation, since it's been 5 days and I've written 0 words. So I'm posting it here. Any words of encouragement are appreciated!

Want to try it yourself? You won't be any further behind than I am. Go to NaNoWriMo to sign up!

searchin

Mostly common sense, and mildly patriarchal... but still good advice nonetheless:
"How (not) to get a man" from Oprah Magazine (of course)

Friday, November 2, 2007

Hate Book

My coworker found this site today: http://www.hatebook.org -- it's amazing. Especially for a hater like me. ("Aw Lisa you're not a hater!" Oh, no? View my Bottom 10 to be proven wrong.)

Some examples of profile fields on Hatebook:
"Websites I hate"
"Quotes that suck"
"Why I'm better than you"

This site is great for anyone who hates Facebook or Myspace -- or even if you don't hate them but you're just a hater in general, like me.

Go forth and be a hater.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

"If I Were Jack Bauer..."

Maybe this should go on my TV blog, but these guys have lots of street cred, so it's going here instead. I actually know these guys (Stuckey and Murray) because they're friends with my coworker and come out for drinks with us sometimes. They're so funny in real life. Check out their other vids here. American Crisp-Off is one of my personal favs. Anyway, here's the Jack Bauer video. Good stuff:

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

"These are energy puns. TURBOPUNS."



Yo ho, yo ho

From CNN.com: "Crew wins deadly pirate battle off Somalia"
Nope, not a joke. 'Nuff said.

Top (...ish) Ten

I've been posting less often and about more serious things lately, and it's kind of getting me down. So in an effort to bring back some fun - and a little funk - I've decided to post a companion to my Bottom 10. Youuu guessed it! My Top 10. For someone as cynical as I am, thinking of ten things I love was pretty difficult. I tried to avoid anything obvious (TV, coffee, chocolate, books, peace, Mac products, tequila...):

10) Stationery. (I don't even know why. It's not like I write letters anymore. But there's something about stationery, matching envelopes, cards, stamps that just makes me happy.)

9) Toasted pop tarts. (I never eat them because they're terrible for you and who even knows what's in them. But a good toasted pop tart with a little butter on it makes for one happy Lisa. I should buy some.)

8) Bendy straws. (They can't be the straight kind like they pawn off on you at most fast food restaurants. Gotta be the kind that bend at a 90 degree angle. And if they're colored, that's a bonus. I have a package at home that I use in my drinks. Simple pleasures.)

7) The words "perplexed" and "inexplicably." (Fun to say, fun to spell, fun to use in a sentence. "Inexplicably" is also incredibly useful, especially for an extra comedic punch when used on its own as a sentence. Or maybe it's the x in there that I like. Or the nice strong syllables. Whatever it is, I love those words.)

6) Men's cologne. (This one might seem like it should be on the obvious list, but I'm uniquely obsessed with nice-smelling men's cologne. In college my old roommate used to buy me small sample bottles of men's cologne that we would spray around the room, just because. Give me a nice-smelling man any day.)

5) Water. (Lakes, rivers, oceans, rain, boats... anything that has to do with water. Maybe it's because I'm a water sign. But it's completely relaxing to me, and it makes me really happy. When I'm older I want to have a vacation house or cottage with a boat. Someday.)

4) Ballet shoes. (The flat kind, not pointe shoes. Mostly because of the way they smell. They smell like... new leather, September, after school snacks, cute little girls. And they're adorable. Ahh, Capezio.)

3) Sprint yellow. (It's a combination of things here. Mostly the actual shade of yellow Sprint uses in the ad combined with the fantastic branding job Sprint has done. Anytime I see that shade of yellow with black writing, I think of Sprint. There's something ingenious about that.)

2) Stories. (Not people who blab on and on about things you don't care about - those aren't the stories I'm talking about. I mean two kinds of stories. First, stories like fairy tales, etc. that are told out loud. Classic bedtime story format. Not necessary that they start with "once upon a time," or even that they be fictional, just that they be told aloud, with appropriate story intonation. The second kind is books, novels, short stories, etc. that someone reads aloud. The Hobbit is a particularly good one to read aloud. Try it sometime. It's very relaxing. And it makes me happy.)

1) Grammar. (I said at work recently, "I'm not trying to be a know-it-all. I just really love grammar." I don't think I'll ever live it down, which is okay with me, because it's absolutely true. I like copy editing and helping people understand commas and apostrophes and other punctuation. There's something about the rules of grammar that I love. There's also something about saving other people's writing from a misplaced piece of punctuation, a little noun-pronoun disagreement, etc. It's my thing. I love it. It makes me happy. Mock as you will. I'm a self-proclaimed grammar geek, and I don't care who knows it.)

There you have it. Ten things I love. Not necessarily my top ten, but a great ten nonetheless. Your turn.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Politics: Apocalypse

Fantastic article this weekend in my new favorite read, The New York Times Magazine. It's called, "The Evangelical Crackup," by David D. Kirkpatrick, and it's about the state of the evangelistic movement today, specifically as it relates to the 2008 election. (You might get a better idea of what the story's about by its billing on the front cover: "End Times for Evangelicals? They don't have a natural presidential candidate. They don't have a unified leadership. They no longer seem to share even the same political beliefs.")

This story is compelling on many levels. It grants some insight into the allegiance of religious followers to the Republican party, and how that's shaking out in light of the Iraq War. It explores the religious rhetoric of both the Republican and the Democratic candidates for presidency, and how religious followers are responding. It also deals with the changing generations of fundamentalists and what that means for religion and politics. Most interestingly, it talks about social change and how evangelical faiths are either adapting, embracing, or condemning the changing ethos.

Whether you're interested in politics, sociology, religion, or any combination thereof, you should read the article. Anyone planning to vote (which all of you better be) should read the article as well, if only to gain some insight into both the candidates for 2008 and the political process. The article might seem long at first, but it was worth every minute.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

But I thought ninjas were the good guys...

I wish I could tell you this is a joke. Sadly, this is for real.

The CIA (yes, I mean the Central INTELLIGENCE Agency) has created this "Terrorist Buster logo":



Think I'm kidding? Check it out here.

This logo gives ninjas, Chewbacca, and the Michelin Man a bad name. Forget the other countless ways that it's offensive... and lame.

Just remember, these are the people keeping you safe! (And THIS is what your tax money is going to...)

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

About the issues

[Okay, my disclaimer for this is that I realize it's very simplified, boiled-down, color-by-numbers politics. This is the reason people hate USA Today - because they create Cosmo-like quizzes to tell you who to vote for.]

BUT... Disclaimer aside, I actually think this a really valuable exercise. Take this quiz from USA Today: here -- it asks you 11 questions about the issues in the 2008 presidential campaign. Based on your answers, it will tell you the top three candidates who match your views.

Why, you ask, do I think this is a good idea? Because voting for president SHOULD be about the issues, not about party affiliations, popularity, or campaign finance.

I've been very confused by the presidential campaigning. There are so many candidates, and I have trouble finding the bottom line amid all the lies. This helped clear things up a bit - and helped me realize which candidates I should start reading about in depth. Candidates aside, it will at least get you thinking about how you really feel about some of the issues.

So try it for yourself. After all, knowledge is power. (And come on, quizzes are cool. Yeah, you know it.)

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Beatboxing Flute Player... whoa

OK this guy is amazing... how does he even do this?!

Inspector Gadget remix:


Super Mario Bros theme:

Copyright or copywrong?

Copyright stuff in the news today, which I figured I should post since I'm a pirate.

An article from USA Today: "YouTube gets media providers' help foiling piracy."

And my favorite, Slate.com, with a special (also interesting and enlightening) feature: "American Lawbreaking: the copyright problem," which debates whether or not copyright infringement is a bad thing.

And in the spirit, I figured I'd post a YouTube video -- the parody trailer for Scorsese's "Sesame Streets." If only because it undoubtedly violates two or three copyright laws.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Causality

I honestly can't believe this is in the news again: "Several U.S. cities snapping over baggy pants."

What I'm most shocked at, though, is not the fact that these bans are spreading - although I'm alarmed at that too, especially considering that it's proposed in Yonkers, N.Y., just north of where I live in the Bronx. No, I'm most shocked at the newest argument these people are making in support of these bans. Ready for it?

"If we have kids going around wearing pants below their butts, it's not nice, not decent," says Timothy Holmes, a city commissioner in Opa-locka, Fla. "If you ask six of these kids, 'What are your grades?' four will tell you they're making C's, D's and F's."

First of all, can we talk for a second about causality? Hello, Mr. Holmes. Saggy pants do not CAUSE bad grades. Therefore, stopping saggy pants will not STOP bad grades. Take a research class, for heaven's sake. Or a logic class. Or a class at all.

Secondly, if you read my blog regularly, you know I take issue with the racism behind these laws. Nevermind freedom of expression.

If you want to stop bad grades, how about attacking poverty in cities, wages paid to inner-city teachers, quality of the the education system, inequality of resources, or the Digital Divide? I'm telling you, banning baggy pants is not gonna do it.

Sigh.

Advertising tactics

Some would say this is advertising at its best. Some would say this is advertising at its worst. I don't think I need to explain why. So what say you, blog readers? How do you feel about this commercial? Is this a good way to sell beer? Could other companies who aren't as famous as Budweiser get away with this successfully? (Or did you not even know it was Budweiser that was being sold here...) Does this make you want to choose Budweiser over other beers -- and do you think it would differently impact someone who is less media-savvy than you are? As a consumer, how do you feel about the tactics used here? Leave your thoughts in the comments section.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Google Spy?

Article from Slate: "Google's Evil Eye: Does the Big G Know Too Much About Us?"

Daniel Brandt's Google Watch

Google Trends

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Video below: "Web 2.0 - The Machine is Us/Ing Us"

Monday, October 8, 2007

Scary... and scarier.

I read two articles today, both about Broadway and Hollywood.

First of all, watch the preview below for the new film version of the Broadway musical "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street." I saw the Broadway revival of the musical last year. LOVED it. Brilliant reinterpretation of the show. (See a clip from the Tonys here.) Anyway, I couldn't be happier to find out they're making a movie starring Johnny Depp. Say what you want about this guy, but he's the best when it comes to playing creepy. (Edward Scissorhands and Secret Window immediately come to mind.) I'm not crazy about Tim Burton, but I'm definitely giving this one a shot. I recommend you do too:



On a scarier note, guess what's coming to Broadway? Yes, yet another Disney musical. This time starring a certain red-headed mermaid. Saw this coming a mile away.

I'm not trying to hate on The Little Mermaid here. I love the movie. But Beauty and the Beast on Broadway was awful. The Lion King worked, because of the way the show is structured. (In fact, it's BRILLIANT. If you haven't seen it, it's a life must.) But Beauty and the Beast was set up the way Little Mermaid will be - a high-budget, brightly colored rip-off of the movie, with huge puffy costumes, ugly wigs, and mediocre talent. Also, there are only 3 songs from the movie that will be in the show, with 10 originals composed for Broadway. Kill me now.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Free Burma

Today is the day bloggers around the world join together and take a stand.

International bloggers are supporting the peaceful revolution in Burma and setting a sign of freedom by blogging one post to raise awareness about Burma on October 4 - and refraining from posting anything else on this day. To take a stand too, visit http://www.free-burma.org, and sign the petition to the right.

Also, check out one of the only remaining blogs from Burma, CBox, this video below about what has happened in Burma, Ben's post about the protests in Burma, or CNN's article this morning about Burma: "Myanmar troops launch nighttime roundups to intimidate activists."

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

If ever a "your mom" joke was appropriate...

From USA Today: "Teens to parents: It's our Facebook"

Ick. Bratty kids. And strange parents.

But it's interesting to think about, now that Facebook is open to adults. I think it's a little strange that parents of current teens would be making profiles and leaving messages on their kids' walls. But as my friends are slowly marrying off, I can't help thinking that they have Facebook profiles now - and will likely have kids in 10 years. Which brings me back to the same questions I was thinking about earlier. What's the future of Facebook?

Regardless, someone needs to tell these teens to stop being so irritating.

(Also, sorry, I can't help using this picture again. It's SO appropriate for this story...)

Avon calling?

Since I've gotten into the habit of blogging about industry news of interest, I thought I should mention this article from the NY Times. I've seen this story in three news sources today: "Company Will Monitor Phone Calls to Tailor Ads."

In a nutshell, Pudding Media is an internet phone service (like Skype) that's supported by advertising. Calls are free for the user - but the catch is that voice recognition technology listens to your call and serves up ads on your screen related to what you're talking about on the phone. Again, I say - creepy.

Looks like this is the future of advertising, though. I found out in reading this article (apparently I'm behind the times) that Google does the same thing with the emails you send, serving up ads related to the topics of your conversations.

Again, I raise the privacy question. What are your thoughts? My regular readers know this is probably the 5th article I've posted recently dealing with the same issue. So what do you think? Is it a violation of privacy? I tend to think this one isn't, since you voluntarily sign up for that phone service. But it does sketch me out a bit that the founders of Pudding Media used to do intel for the Israeli military. These people aren't playing around.

I leave you with a quote from the NYT article. This should give you something to think about. What say you, blog readers? Or should I call you "targets":

"We can never obtain too much information from the targets, and I would love to get my hands on that information," said Jonathan Sackett, chief digital officer for Arnold Worldwide, a unit of the advertising company Havas. "Still, it makes me caution myself and caution all of us as marketers. We really have to look at the situation, because we’re getting more intrusive with each passing technology."

Food for thought.

Face-booked

Read this article from the ever-colorful USA Today about Facebook: "Tech giants poke around Facebook," and see what you think.

For me, this article raises a lot of questions. I've thought about them all before, but this kind of brought them all together for me. Just a sampling... Does Facebook have staying power? Do you think it's better than My Space? Do the benefits of Facebook outweigh the privacy risk? How will targeted ads (currently experimented with on My Space, and making their way to Facebook within the next year) impact users - or are Facebook users smarter than the average Internet-surfer-slash-ad-clicker? How will it impact usage of Facebook if one of these mega-companies swoops it up? And more importantly, are these social networking sites just a fad, or are they here to stay?

So many questions, so little bandwidth.

I hope Zuckerberg has a great lawyer.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Fly Green

Interesting article from Slate.com on how to be more environmentally conscious in your air travel. As someone who's planning to fly a bit in the next year (well, mostly to Seattle for Heather and Brian's wedding... but you never know where else), I know it's something on my mind. Any little bit of carbon savings can help.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Captain Obvious strikes again, this time in the land of hypocrisy

Today from the BBC:

"Poll blames people for climate change"

No kidding. Good thing they spent the money and took the time to interview 22,000 people in 21 countries to determine that people are causing global warming.

...Good thing they spent the fuel/paper/energy to conduct the poll, too...

Left behind?

Sick of legislation with no teeth? Yeah me too. Read this insightful article from Slate.com: "Going from B to A: How to Fix the No Child Left Behind Act." The NCLB is a frustrating act with a worthwhile goal, but it's got a long way to go before it works. As the article says, "Poor and African-American children read four grade levels behind their middle-class and white peers" -- and that's a main reason why NCLB was created. But it seems like NCLB has veered from its goals and is now just frustrating educators, politicians and lawmakers alike. Anyway, this article gives some insight on what's wrong with the law and how we might fix it... without leaving it behind altogether.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

September 19th: International Talk-Like-A-Pirate Day

(note: this post has been translated by the English-to-Pirate translator, which can be found here. FYI, matey=coworker.)

Today be TALK LIKE A PIRATE DAY!!!!!

I'll pass along a joke me matey just yelled out (in a pretty poor pirate voice):

"What kind o' movies do pirates like?"

One matey guessed: "Bootie."

Wrong.

T' answer is: "Arrrrrrr- rated movies."

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

MySpace to serve targeted ads

Read the article about it here.

This isn't a shock to me, since I work in internet advertising and marketing. It's interesting industry news, though, and it's indicative of the direction a lot of internet advertising is going. But it's also a little creepy.

Here's the not-creepy part... The myspace ad targeting will partly work the way Kontera works now. Kontera is context advertising -- it picks up on keywords and categories of interest inside articles and highlights those words. When the user rolls his or her mouse over the highlighted word, Kontera serves up a bubble that includes a related link (ad). The site using Kontera makes money when the user clicks on that link. Myspace ads will be similarly targeted, but they won't be contextual. It's like the way you select categories for Google Ad Sense if you want to put it on your blog. If I put it on my tv blog, for example, I might check the entertainment category to get entertainment ads served up, thinking my readers would be more likely to click on those ads since they're reading my tv blog. The new myspace targeted advertising is like a cross-breed of Ad Sense and Kontera - non-contextual ad blocks targeted to the keywords on your page. (For example, if you're interested in movies and film, you'd see ads for Netflix, Hollywood.com and the IFC.)

(By the way, the folks in the advertising biz think this is a great idea. Buyers and sellers of ads are jazzed about the idea of targeted ads. If you were Slimfast, you wouldn't want a McDonalds ad banner on your page, would you? That's why they're developing what advertisers describe as "eBay for internet advertising" - products like Google's DoubleClick and my company's product, TRAFFIQ, which will launch for general availability on November 5. Sorry, had to plug it.)

Okay, but now here's the creepier part. There's also a more personal element - the myspace ad targeting will also pick up on demographic information about each individual user. For example, read these two paragraphs from the article:

"The system also looks at the groups members belong to, who their friends are, their age and gender, and what ads they have responded to in the past. 'Our targeting is a balance of what users say, what they do and what they say they do,' said Adam Bain, executive vice president for production and technology at Fox Interactive..."

"MySpace also plans to give its advertisers information about what kind of people its ads have attracted. 'We want them to leave knowing more about their audience then when they came into the door,' Arnie Gullov-Singh, vice president in the advertising technology group at Fox Interactive."

This is the part you should pay attention to. A lot of people who use Facebook and Myspace don't think about what kind of information they're giving out. Not just to other users (see my post about Caroline Guiliani), but also to marketers, to the businesses who run properties like Myspace and Facebook -- and to the CIA? (See this article about Facebook).

Anyway, all this is to say that the more data you put out there, the more there is to gather from you, and I've never known a marketer who'd hesitate to gather it. It hasn't stopped me yet from posting my own personal info on Myspace and Facebook (not to mention this blog), but let this be a warning to us all. Rupert Murdoch owns Myspace now - don't expect that your private info will stay private, now that the King of Media has his hands on it.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

One, two, three, EMMY!

Just wanted to let everyone know that tonight's Emmy extravaganza kicks off the return of The Televisionista (http://www.thetelevisionista.com), which from now until May will be the home of all my tv-related posts.

Unlike Brett, I won't be doing an Emmy play-by-play (check out http://rantofthelitter.blogspot.com tonight to read his), but I will be having my annual Emmy party (alone again this year... yeah, lame... although my sister will be joining me virtually, via aim), and I'll probably be writing a post or two about the Emmys. (GO NEIL PATRICK HARRIS!! Barney/Swarley deserves an Emmy!)

I love awards shows, and the Emmys and the Tonys are tied for my favorite (Emmys because they ROCK and because I care most about the outcome since I love TV, and Tonys because of the performances). So Emmys day is always a good day. (Although Ryan Seacrest hosting this year is... not ideal.)

Anyway, tune in tonight to the Emmys, and get The Televisionista back up on your radar, because over the next few weeks the TV season is starting!

One more reason I love Seth Green

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Plane clothes

Well, today I read this article from CNN.com: "Second woman says Southwest made her cover up." You'll have to read it for yourself, but basically two different women on two separate occasions reported that Southwest airlines told them their outfits were unacceptable for flying. One was wearing a sweater and a short skirt. Another was wearing a halter-top dress. The flight attendants told the women on each occasion that if they didn't cover up, they wouldn't be able to fly. The woman with the halter dress didn't have a sweater, so she was made to wear a blanket around her for the flight.

??

I'm baffled by this. Okay, so it's much less absurd than laws about baggy pants, because at least it's a company, not the government. But... really? REALLY?? Anyway, instead of waxing on about why I think it's ridiculous, I decided to paste in a blog entry I wrote when I still blogged on My Space about another airline attire issue. Must be something in the water. Anyway, here you go:


I'm slightly distressed over an article sent to me by the director of the sociology program here at Fordham. Here's the link:

"Arabic t-shirt sparks airport row"

It's an article from BBC news about a man, Raed Jarrar, who was traveling from NYC to California and was "apporached" at JFK airport by two men asking for his ID and boarding pass -- after he was already scanned and cleared by security. Mr. Jarrer was wearing a t-shirt that said "We will not be silent," written in both Arabic and English, and apparently the airline (JetBlue) had received complaints from passengers. They made the man remove his shirt and change into one they bought for him at the airport store.

Are you KIDDING me?! As the article explains: "'We Will Not Be Silent' is a slogan adopted by opponents of the war in Iraq and other conflicts in the Middle East. It is said to derive from the White Rose dissident group which opposed Nazi rule in Germany."

I'm sorry, I know the terrorist threats are scary and serious. I know airline travel is especially worrisome, and the heightened security after the London threats has people shaken up, especially at JFK. I know. I'm glad I'm not flying anywhere any time soon.

But I mean, really? A t-shirt? It's not like the guy was ticking or even had suspicious behavior going on. He cleared airport security! I think there's a difference between "better safe than sorry" and just blatantly disregarding people's rights. "We will not be silent" is a statement against the Iraq War. I don't know the latest numbers, but I'm pretty sure at least half the country would agree with Mr. Jarrer at this point. You could stand in Times Square, throw a stone and have at least a 50 percent chance of hitting someone who opposes the war (probably more than 50 in NYC). But I guess since his name is Raed Jarrar and his skin is brown, that makes a difference. If I was wearing the t-shirt instead of Mr. Jarrer, would they have forced me to take it off? I wonder. Do those passengers feel safe flying with other anti-war Americans? It just doesn't make sense.

As sad as it is that the passengers complained, the real egregious part of this is that Jet Blue actually made the guy take the t-shirt off, instead of telling the passengers that if they start kicking people off flights because of what their t-shirts say, the guy with the "Tickle THIS Elmo" shirt is the first to go.

Anyway, I'm overly torqued about this I guess, and I'm sure there are plenty of people who disagree with me, and that's okay. The whole thing just makes me really sad. After studying media and first amendment rights for 5 years, I just can't sit around and think this kind of thing is okay.

"The porn myth"

I read Ben's post today about this article from New York Magazine called "The Porn Myth." It's written by Naomi Wolf, the author of the bestselling book (and one of my personal favs) "The Beauty Myth." I'm glad she wrote this new article, and it's something you should all read.

I've talked about this very topic in multiple classes, both undergrad and grad. We'd usually start off by reading something by Andrea Dworkin, and then move toward an argument more like the one Wolf makes in "The Porn Myth." For those not up on their media criticism or fem lit, Dworkin is best known for her arguments that watching porn makes men more violent and aggressive toward women, more likely to rape women, and more likely to treat women as sex objects. Wolf discusses in this latest article that the problem isn't necessarily that porn makes men more likely to rape real women, it's actually more the opposite - it turns men off to a real woman's body, making them less excited to have real sex with a real woman.

(Incidentally, Sue Johanson of Talk Sex with Sue, formerly The Sunday Night Sex Show, raises the same concern fairly often on her show.)

I think Wolf's article is so interesting because I find it to be so true. Based on discussions I've had with my guy friends, conversations between guys that I've overheard, conversations I've had with other women, personal experiences I've had myself, and what I've observed from afar, Wolf is really on to something here. I feel better saying this knowing that Ben thinks Wolf is on to something too. It's really not because I'm a crazy feminist or anything like that. I just know that I've personally felt the same way Wolf's female students are portrayed as feeling, and I really think Wolf makes some excellent points.

As a public service announcement I'd like to just put this out there, into the great internet abyss. Guys, if you want a porn star, date a porn star. The rest of us real women out there are not porn stars. And by the way, let us tell ya, you ain't exactly porn stars either, trust us. If you want to learn how to have great sex, trade in the porn for Talk Sex with Sue. Learn about your body and about real women's bodies. We're human beings, not Girls Gone Wild, and definitely not Debbie Does Dallas. And if you can't grasp that idea and come back to the real world, then have fun at home, alone, with your computer.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Seeing double?

Thank goodness Entertainment Weekly posted this article today. Yesterday I was looking at a bus-stop billboard for the new Dane Cook movie, and then twice today I saw a taxi-top ad for the new Ben Stiller movie. I gotta say, I honestly thought that either a) I'm going insane (which is possible at this point), or b) it must be the same movie. I could have sworn they had the same tagline. Thanks to EW, I see that Good Luck Chuck's tagline is "Sometimes Love Blows," while The Heartbreak Kid's tagline is "Love blows." Silly me...

Anyway, I'm glad we got that cleared up. I also appreciate the article in EW, because, like the author, I'm also sick of movies about asshole guys which justify to other asshole guys that it's okay to be asshole guys. One more reason I love The 40-Year-Old Virgin. I thought that was the kind of movie it would end up being, but it's actually the opposite. Yay! (I also love it because it's hilarious and stars Steve Carell... but those are just bonuses.)

So anyway, if you see these ads, don't be alarmed. You're not losing your sanity. Advertisers are just losing their creativity.

www.MadStreetCred.com

Hey everyone, just wanted to let you know that I got a REAL domain name for this blog! You can now access it via its old URL (http://subtletyofperception.blogspot.com) or via its new, much more cred-worthy URL (http://www.madstreetcred.com).

Same for my TV blog, The Televisionista, which I'll start back up once the new TV season starts. You can access that via its old URL (http://ophelia710.blogspot.com) or via its new, much cooler URL (http://www.thetelevisionista.com).

Awesome.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

"Hi, haaaave you met Ted?"

Well I finished "Rape: A Love Story" (FANTASTIC, by the way. Read it!), so now I'm going to try to lighten things up around here. So much seriousness the last two days.

So. Here are some quick clips from How I Met Your Mother. They're so much better in context though. (Netflix season one. Go!) I can't WAIT for the new season. Please please please, Emmys, give HIMYM some street cred. (I know, it's not gonna happen. Maybe next year though?)

Clips:

"Suit up/Have you met Ted":



"Lawyered":



Promo:



"Brunch":

P.S.

In light of my post last night, I can't fail to post this article as well, courtesy of CNN today:

"Girl, 14, fled abuse, mind control of polygamy."

The article is about the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS), a cultish, polygamous sect that broke off from its namesake over 100 years ago. It's been renounced by the Mormon faith, and it is led by Warren Jeffs, who's being put on trial this week in Utah as an accomplice... wait for it... to rape.

::shakes head::

I really don't know what else to say.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Reading about the unspeakable in fiction... and the shocking real-life news story about something even more unspeakable

After finishing Jonathan Franzen's emotional rollercoaster novel, "The Corrections" last night, I started fresh today reading Joyce Carol Oates' "Rape: A Love Story." I'm about half-way finished (it's relatively short). I've gotta tell ya, it's a tough but meaningful read. The Readers' Digest version of the story is that a woman in a small town in upstate New York is on her way home from a 4th of July party with her young daughter around midnight, and she gets brutally gang-raped, beaten and left for dead by a group of about 8 local guys. Her daughter gets beaten but manages to escape unseen and hides, still having to listen to her mother get raped. After the woman comes out of her coma and she and her daughter identify the rapists, the town turns against them, taking up the classic sexist argument that she "had it coming" and was "asking for it." Only the cop who found the women that night is willing to man-up and help them get justice.

Oates does a fantastic job of drawing the reader in to experience the story and to understand the quiet desperation of the position they were put in. I was thinking on my bus ride home today that it's all too easy for a he-said she-said story like this to turn its ugly double-standard face against the women, and how awful it must feel to be in a situation like that and to have nobody believe you, whether in a book or in real life... while all the men involved in the trial or the news-making or the news-watching or the news-ignoring go home and watch Hentai porn or hard-core porn that involves women getting ("non-consensually") raped. While they get off on it. (I'm not trying to single out the men. Rape just usually is performed by men, against women, and enjoyed as pornography by men. See horrific exception below. Also, I'm not saying all porn is bad. But the kind of porn I'm talking about here is. Sorry kids.)

So yeah. I get really involved in books, movies and tv shows, and I'm notorious for over-empathizing with the characters.

You can understand my shock, though, when I came home to this real-life news story tonight: "6 arrested in week-long attack on woman." Please read it for yourself. I can't get through it without feeling sick to my stomach. And this time it's not merely sexist (even performed by both men and women, rape is still sexist) -- but it's also overtly, disgustingly, passionately, unabashedly racist. I can't even take it. I don't have much to say on the matter, except that it makes me really sad. I hope these people get put away forever, and that their slimy lawyers don't make up some ridiculous alternative explanation that everyone believes (like they did in the book) and that nobody turns against the girl trapped in the house. As affronted as I am by this, I'm refusing to refuse to talk about it, because silence is betrayal. Everyone should read this article and be aware that small versions of this kind of abuse happen every day, whether it's rape or hate crimes or both, like this one. Racism and sexism live on. Don't just stand by and watch.

Things that make you go "hmm": Global Warming edition

"Should Americans have fewer babies to save the environment?"

In my never-ending postage about global warming, I'd be remiss not to include this article I read today on Slate. It sounds crazy at first, and there are strong arguments against it, particularly the Idiocracy counter-argument the author discusses. But we've gotta do SOMETHING, so I say it's better to read and think about this stuff than to automatically discount it altogether. Anyway, this article is at least entertaining and full of interesting tidbits, and at most something to think about: "Global Swarming: Is It Time for America to Start Cutting Our Baby Emissions?"

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

My Bottom 10

I'm fairly impressed with the graphic I found for my last post, which almost made me refrain from writing a new post. However, I've moved past it and am coming to terms with the immediate and fleeting nature of internet writing.

Now that that's out of the way, I thought I'd actually compose a Bottom 10, as discussed in my post a couple days ago. (Read it again here.) I'd like to offer two small caveats. First of all, I just wanted to let everyone know that apparently I hate a lot of things, because I can think of way more than 10 that qualify for my bottom 10. Guess I'm just a hater.

Now my second caveat. Lest any Street Cred readers think I'm superficial, I want to point out that this Bottom 10 intentionally consists only of silly or lighthearted items. Obviously my real, true, honest Bottom 10 would include serious things - not the least of which are racism, war and poverty. But come on, can we really talk about these kinds of issues in a list modeled after a video last seen on Homestarrunner.com? Right, that's what I thought. So I vow to keep this light and breezy, in honor of Strongbadia.

So here it is, the much-awaited Bottom 10 countdown:

10) Melted cheese. (As promised, I've included melted cheese in my Bottom 10. And indeed, it belongs here. I discreetly pick the melted cheese off of my pizza [as many a meal sharer can attest to], I balk at the sight of a mozzarella stick, and mac and cheese is only okay if the cheese is creamy and not stringy or melted on the top. My issues with melted cheese are very specific and deal with matters of consistency. I have similar issues with rubbery foods. I have separate issues with meat and with anything resembling anything I recognize. For more information on my food idiosyncrasies, contact me directly.)

9) The U.S. postal service changing the price of stamps. ("Now what do I do with these?" I will not buy 1 cent stamps. I refuse. Thanks, USPS. Now I have a fucking stamp collection because everything I buy from you, ever, ends up being useless. What a scam.)

8) Loud chewing. (Come on people, we're trying to eat here. Nobody wants to listen to your flapping gums as you chew your food. No, seriously. Shut your mouth. It's pretty simple. Caveat: those with colds get a pass. We know you don't mean to do it.)

7) Newsprint. (It's 2007, New York Times. Can't you figure out how to process your paper so that damn newsprint doesn't come off on my fingers? I like the satisfaction of reading an actual newspaper in front of me rather than scrolling through it online. But hello, Gray Lady, it's not gonna happen if it continues to end up smudged on my forehead as I rub that very forehead in frustration with my newsprint-smeared hands. Not cute.)

6) Bottoms of jars. (How am I supposed to get any of this stuff out?! Peanut butter. Pasta sauce. Candles. Shampoo. Whatever. I'm SO over scraping. And too cheap to throw it away. Now all that stuff is littering my fridges, cupboards, drawers, shower shelf, countertops. I shake my too-big-to-fit-in-the-jar fist at you, jar designers!)

5) Email forwards that include grave threats to my life, luck, love life, or general health and well-being if I don't forward them to someone else. (Okay, look. These were mildly amusing to me back in the day because I thought people were lame for being duped into sending them. Poor internet virgins who didn't know any better, I used to think. Now I have no further benefit of the doubt to extend to you people. The only thing I can figure is that you've decided to crown "irritating Lisa" as one of your life goals.)

4) Expensive art that looks like I personally painted it. (Cezanne, Monet, Degas, Picasso -- I get you all. Even Pollock. I get you too. So it's not that I can't appreciate modern art. But let's be honest. Go to a modern art museum and count how many things look like your three-year-old niece made them. Those ones I don't get. A straight red line. A plain circle. Something that looks like a finger-painting I brought home to mom about 20 years ago. I'm sorry. I can't understand the vision. I can't understand how it's artistry. And most of all, I can't understand why it costs a zillion dollars. I can make you one real quick on my lunch break if you want. For free. Yeah, yeah, I know. This probably makes me an idiot who doesn't deserve to step foot in a museum. Art teachers never liked me anyway. So be it.)

3) People who think they're the smartest person in the world. (You all know who I'm talking about. That one guy you know who simply can't be argued with because he refuses to recognize that someone else might have a valid opinion or thought on anything at all. I'm pretty smart, and most of my friends are as smart as or smarter than me. And yet I'm willing to recognize that there's a hell of a lot of stuff that I don't know very much about. Also, I'm willing to admit that sometimes I'm probably wrong about things, and that even if I'm not, someone else's opinion is valid. If you can't recognize any of that, you need some perspective. And I have little to no patience for you. And p.s., you're not very fun to talk to. Negative cred points to you.)

2) The local news. (I don't care where you live. It's horrible. I want to punch the newscasters in the face, and then punch myself in the face for staying on the channel for longer than it takes to channel surf. "Wow that was some story, Sandy! A basket of puppies?" "Hahaha ohhhh Bob. Those crazy puppies." Yeah I think the weather girl and I both just short-circuited.)

And the one you've all been waiting for...

1) February. (First of all, February, what is with how you're spelled? Way to confuse mediocre spellers everywhere. Secondly, the 28 days thing? Combined with special consideration during Leap Years [which are bogus in their own right]? Please, February. It's so obvious that you just want all the attention on yourself. And I'm SO over that. Also, Feb. is the keeper of Groundhog Day, Valentine's Day, the day Pluto the planet was discovered [poor Pluto! I haven't forgotten about you, lil buddy], and Presidents' Day. Talk about sham and mockery!!! The most bogus holidays of the bunch! And then, just to rub it in, the observance of Black History Month gets dumped in February, as if it's a similar sham, hoarded away in a 28-day shame fest with the likes of Punxsutawney Phil, a planet that's been shunned, an observance of a bunch of political hacks [each of whom 50% of the country hates], and a holiday designed to make people feel miserable or broke?? I'm offended, and I think it's clear BHM is outright getting the shaft. February, I'm on to you. Mega shade cred. You're a smug, selfish, attention-hungry imposter month with racist tendencies. And I've had enough.)