CrowBiz

…funk for the old soul…

Archive for June, 2009

Twittering Your Business Away

Posted by crowbiz on June 30, 2009

 

Love it, hate it, # it

Love it, hate it, # it

Ah, social networking!  Say those few syllables over and over…. yes, it does take on the timbre of “anal itchiness,” “festering pimple,” and “supreme nausea.”  I would like to include “gaseous blowhard,” but it would require the British pronunciation “gas-ee-uss” rather than the clunky American version, “gash-uss.”

 

Do you wish you had a nickel for every forum poster who oozes about how great Twitter has been for their business?  How they find it so fun to spam, er I mean, post their items to their 11,000 followers and then sit back and watch the love roll in?  What is it about the magic number 11,000, by the way?  Did I miss the meeting where they handed out the secret code behind the pyramid that night?  And did you notice that after someone proclaims Twitter as crucial to their success, you check their Etsy shop and see they’ve made 7 sales in 2 years?  Then the chipper seller lets drop, “Well, I can’t be sure how many sales came directly from Twitter, but I know it’s helped!”

Yeah, it’s helped immensely – in sucking your time and your mind.

My feelings about the big twit are ambivalent.  I have some loose connections, do the occasional pimp, and mostly pick up links to hilarious sites that would take me too long to find on my own.  So right there, Twitter saves me time on my time-wasting, which I can now do in a much more targeted and efficient fashion.  Despite having over 300 followers, which is so low that I’m not even at the uncool kids’ lunch table, I’m still talking mostly to myself on Twitter.  When I eventually tweet the link to this very post, I’ll be able to watch the blog stats rocket upward by one.

There are several creepy followers who seem to be Stepford Twits, manufactured somewhere in that same factory that makes people to give testimonials for weight loss ads and mysterious work-from-home pitches.  They have what seem to be regular, homespun avatars, what with their undoctored faces, or pets, or children.  Yet their tweets seem to be a preprogrammed regurgitation of How To Get (fill in the number) Followers in (fill in the time frame).”  No other content, really.  Get followers so you can tell others how to get followers so they can say they got followers that will want to know how to get followers.  What does Jane Doe need with 11,000 followers?  

Once I boldly asked what the heck I needed with 10,000 followers (I was being conservative), and got an immediate reply from a nonfollower/nonfollowee with a curt, “I would think that would be obvious!”   It wasn’t to me.  It was one of the few, and certainly the quickest reply I ever received.  And the guy seemed offended.  It wasn’t as if I’d said, “Who needs liquids to live?” or “Oxygen is so overrated” or “Too bad you don’t know your real dad.”  Yet this stranger instantly heard my tweet – perhaps it registered on his Twitter Dissent Meter – and jumped in to scold.  Kind of like Big Brother and the Wizard of Oz combined, only without the rat cage or technicolor.

Take aaaall that time you’ve spent on Twitter.  Subtract out any real humanesque interaction – be honest now.  I’ll let you keep that, because sometimes it is fun to check someone’s link to a picture of the sleeping guy next to him on the flight (thanks, some funny guy who follows me).  Now how much time do you spend talking to the great void?   When you post your latest doohickey, do you rush back to check the views on Etsy?  Then back to Twitter… then back to Etsy… then…oh, right, leave a @reply to someone, because that will seem human of you, and there’s a 25% chance that the person you reply to might, in some future moment, click on a link that you’ve posted.  Which you will dutifully check by rushing back to Etsy.  Not that you’d be able to document this in any meaningful way, but you’d give yourself the idea that Twitter “definitely helps.”  

Is this your marketing, promotion and sales strategy?  No really, tell me it isn’t.  Visually, I picture it like this:  you run outside and leave your business card on the sidewalk, or maybe a picture of what you’re hawking with contact info.  Some people walk by, maybe even 11,000 people.  Maybe someone picks it up, maybe not.  After a few minutes, you dash back outside to check if anyone picked up the card.  If so, you put another one on the sidewalk.  If not, you go back and wait.  Repeat process indefinitely, or until you realize you sure need a shower or a meal or to leave for your real job.  

My heretical suggestion is that you get your bum off Twitter now and then. Next, take that time and pour, shovel and cram it into something that might be called an activity.  Find better outlets.  You may even have to – god forbid! – spend a few bucks advertising to a qualified, target market.  Sure, go ahead and send the pictures of your fingers photoshopped to look like sausages (I laughed till I cried) – enjoy it for what it is and don’t count on it bringing in the sales.

Yeah, yeah, there are those who will vehemently disagree with me and insist that their Etsy business booms because of Twitter.  You are free to tell me I don’t know what the bedazzzler I’m talking about, and I don’t mind, because I know your secret; you come from that different midwestern factory where they make the rare bird who is a success right out of the starting block and don’t even realize it.  I think there are three of you.  Maybe you interpret my crabbiness as jealousy, but I’d redirect you to frustration instead.  Anyone who reads my blog knows the idea of constraining myself to 140 characters is like something right out of Dante’s Inferno.

To wrap up, self-interest dictates that I should drop my info here.  If you have a soft spot for the unflappable, uncool kid on the fringe of the cafeteria, I’ll be there with my flabby sandwich:  https://twitter.com/CrowBiz

But I’m only one voice in 11,000.

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Posted in Business & Etsy | Tagged: , , , , , , | 15 Comments »

The Garbage Plate™ By Any Other Name

Posted by crowbiz on June 29, 2009

Shakespeare was wrong.  His suggestion that our perception of an experience would be relatively unchanged by nomenclature doesn’t sit right with me.  Without having to go all cognitive on him, I wish to politely point out to Shakes that he forgot that people don’t live in an association-free vacuum where learning and experience have no role.  Do you want your liquid laundry detergent to be brown and go by the name of Sludge Extra?  Would you eat a product called Grople?

Thus we come awkwardly to the subject of mish-mash concoctions of food.  I’m a staunch fan of edible conglomerates, and this was long before the drudgery of family cooking led me to devise meals that could be prepared with a minimum of dishes, utensils and steps.  Though I detest cookbooks and having to follow recipes, someone mentioned to me a book entitled “All In One Pot,” which is close to my idea of food porn.  For a while now, I’ve been devising a way to get breakfast, lunch and dinner all combined into one large dish, perhaps a stew or terrine, that I could dole out by the ladle or slice, depending on the consistency.

It’s no surprise that meals like the “garbage plate” thrill me.  Not only does it appeal to my desire for food amalgamation, but such meals are built of foods I adore, such as fries, processed meats, gravy and cheese.  Perfection could be achieved if there were a way to take the whole operation and make it smoked.  Another 50,000 words could be devoted to my deep and abiding love of poutine, and lest I get lured by its siren call, I best stick to my other topic.

224230448_cfd35c045e

Photo: DJ Dangler (I believe?) Thanks!

Now then, it’s my understanding that the Garbage Plate™ name officially belongs to the creation available at Nick Tahou Hots in Rochester, New York.  Despite being a little drive down the NYS Thruway from there, I’ve never actually eaten there, but I certainly can appreciate the G.P. conceptually.  Similar dishes can be found in restaurants everywhere, though they technically must come up with another name for it, maybe  Trash Platter, Dog Dish, Kitchen Sink, Dumpster Plate, Junkarole, Crap Slam.  (OK, no restaurant really uses Junkarole or Crap Slam, but someone should.)   A legal battle raged a few years back when someone wished to use the term “Plat du Refuse” for their offering, but I think Nick gained the upper spatula in the end.

Locally, Mr Crow and I shared a “Plat du Garbage” (gar-BAHZHE, a la francais) at what is normally a finer restaurant, and it was a hopeless disappointment compared to the rest of our meal.  Of course, it was merely meant to be amusing, not an actual presentation of low-brow foods, and even though we knew this, it was still a waste of food and a misguided attempt at whimsy.  It was more like a julienne salad with the “crazy” addition of a few unlikely but safe ingredients.  Had there been a gong in the restaurant, I’d have whaled it.  It was like suburban girls going slumming by saying they saw a homeless person from the window of mom’s SUV.  They should have just called it the “Trying To Be Ironic With Cute Menu Items Sucks” plate.

Anyway, all the flap over naming rights is asinine.  No disrespect, Nick and all you others, but trying to claim rights to name the mixed up combo plate is a waste of your time, and you’re about 50 centuries too late.  This kind of dish already has a name, but no one has the balls to use it.  Hitch up your pants, boys, ’cause this meal is known as:

“Mom Would Be Perfectly Happy With Cheese and Crackers and A Coke For Dinner If It Weren’t For The Rest Of You.”

Posted in Life In the Mod Podge Lane | Tagged: , , , , , | 9 Comments »

Some Great Bad Movie Recommendations

Posted by crowbiz on June 23, 2009

Let’s face it, the list of good bad movies could go on and on.  I’ve chosen a mere handful today, not because they represent the pinnacle of good badness, but just because I thought of them.  It’s also important that I’m clear on my criteria:  forbidden are purposely campy films meant to be bad and/or that have developed a recognizable cult following because of this (e.g., “Plan 9 From Outer Space” or Ed Wood movies, etc.)  The ones I adore are efforts that were earnest to begin with and just plain cornball.

Now then, I’m something of an old movie aficionado.  You’ll never find me filling the guest critic’s chair opposite Robert Osborne, dapper host of Turner Classic Movies, but I do know my way around 1920-1960s cinema.  As I’ve always felt I was somehow stuck out of time – born too late, that is – I have a natural affinity for the old stuff.  The habit developed when I was a carefree 15-year-old and enjoying the last summer before the awful realization of the working world.  Back then, of the few channels available on our pre-cable era television, several aired old movies starting after the 11:00 pm news and ran all night.  The first movie started at 11:30 pm, then the next at 1:30 am, and the next at 3:30 am, and dang if I didn’t sometimes stay up for all three, usually drifting off after 4:00 am.  (Mr Crow will be shocked to read this and learn that I ever stayed up past midnight.  Guess I got it all out way back then.)

The following summer, I was a beleaguered working girl in the summer, and dragged myself home from my hellacious restaurant kitchen job usually between 12:00-1:00 am, in that tired but wired way.  After a long shift of sweat, safety hazards, hot water, noise and endless sexual harassment, it felt good to crash in front of a comforting old movie or two with a big iced tea.

These days I only catch an oldie now and then, usually in pieces if the kids are abed and Mr Crow happens to be out.  But it’s still in my blood.  In fact, Mr Crow refers to any maudlin string music as “weee weee music” that signals sappy old-time films, and he sometimes serenades me if he catches me mid-movie; his high-pitched sequences of “weeeee WEEE wee weeeee WEE we weee…” is both a sentimental tweak and a direct mock.  Good thing I’m tough.

Now then, to today’s list, in no particular order:

 

Fluffy and light

Fluffy and light. Couldn't they at least center the band name on the drum?

Cotton Candy  (1978)  Made-for-TV gold!  Ron Howard’s early directorial effort features his bro Clint Howard, Charles Martin Smith, and a host of lesser knowns in a Troika Treat:  tried, true and trite.  A magical cheesefest. Underdog uber-nerds form a band – including a chick drummer! – and struggle to make it to the battle of the bands.  The eponymous Cotton Candy faces their evil rival Rapid Fire, who thrill the high school crowd with their cover of “I Shot the Sheriff.”  Friendships tested, young love, divided loyalties, etc, etc.  Awesome climactic moment in which Clint Howard, as Corky, is barred from the competition and watches, bawling, through the little glass window as the bands rock on.  Exactly two people on this planet have seen this movie:  me and my friend Lisa, whose friendship with me was instantly cemented upon her revelation that she, too, had seen it back in the 70s when it first aired.  Here is the ABC promo, which sounds like it’s narrated by the guy who used to do the Smucker’s jam commercials.  Note – the rival dude is super hot, 70s style – wings of perfection!  If you can stand a 12:30 clip, here’s another sample, including a segment of a Colgate toothpaste commercial at the end.  

 

 

So who applies her lipstick and eyeliner?

So who applies her lipstick and eyeliner?

The Brain That Wouldn’t Die (1962)  Classic B-movie horror in B & W.  The budget must have been somewhere in the $7.00 range for this gem, what with its wavering audio, cardboard sets and “night” scenes.  Wacky doctor keeps his fiance Jan’s tightly wrapped head alive in what appears to be a roasting pan, with tubes, clamps, and circulating “blood.”  As he searches for the perfect body to re-attach to her, she grows increasingly bitter about her situation.  In her low, breathy, but unsexy voice, Jan communicates with the “monster” kept locked in the basement closet nearby.  After a steady stream of nagging and moralizing from the pan, the doctor tapes her mouth shut, but she manages to telepathically command the grotesque cone-headed creature to break out and attack him.  Way creepy, no matter how you slice it.  This has gained a little bit of a following such that Mystery Science Theater spoofed it, and the head/brain is commonly nicknamed “Jan in the Pan” among devotees, but this doesn’t dim it’s good-badness.  You can’t tell me that the makers and actors of this movie weren’t trying their best.  At the risk of being a spoiler, the final moment is my favorite; as the lab in consumed by flames, Jan hisses through her clenched and now-untaped mouth, “I told you to let me die!”  The lo-fi 1962 trailer.   You can watch the whole darned thing at google.video.

 

Bad photo, but a must-watch clip

Bad photo, but a must-watch clip

The In-Crowd (1988)  *Not to be confused with a 2000 movie “The In Crowd,” which may well be a good-bad movie, but I’ve not seen it.*  My first accidental stumble on this was while recovering on the couch from a bad stomach bug.  It’s just the kind of mindless comfort you need after a night of vomiting.  I’ve stumbled a couple more times, but not in years, alas!  Yet another music-themed bad movie, which teaches us that if a problem can’t be settled with a dance-off, it probably wasn’t important anyway.  In 1965 Philadelphia, Del, played by Donovan Leitch, Jr. (yes, son of Mellow Yellow himself), yearns to break out of the predictability of goody-goody suburbia and get on a popular teen dance show.  He succeeds beyond his wildest dreams, but at a cost; he must re-evaluate his old and new friendships, allegiances and life goals, and a lot of the usual teen yada yada.  Trailer here. Don’t for one second deny that you secretly wish you could dance like these kids.  Way hokey premise and “script,” but a fabulous early 60s soundtrack with many lesser known tunes worked in (Jerry Butler’s version of “Moon River,”  “I Had A Wonderful Dream” by the Majors, and many more).  Hep clip (Del is in the brown suit and blue shirt):  Del’s surprise debut on the dance show! 

You’re welcome.

Posted in Old Corny Good Things | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Clever Recipes for Savvy Folks

Posted by crowbiz on June 17, 2009

We’re all busy, so who couldn’t use a few helpful tips around the cucina?

Crappacino Automatico

 

Preferred in blind taste tests

Preferred in blind taste tests

No time to hit the local coffee venue today?  Fear not, a premium drink is seconds away.  Take 8 oz of any coffee you have on hand – even old stuff, ’cause you’re going to whip it into something new – and pour into a significantly larger container.  Add milk or any milky substance.  Insert straw and blow like you’re 8 years old and trying to make as many bubbles as you can before mom scolds you.  Blow again.  And again.  Harder, you wuss.  Decant into a smaller cup.  Charge yourself $4.75 and go sit at a wobbly metal table.

 

 

Sloth Pot Pie

 

The other two-toed meat

The other two-toed meat

This will bowl people over like you can’t believe.  Good for upscale potlucks.  Travel to a tropical locale in the Western Hemisphere and catch one sloth, either two- or three-toed variety.  This should be easy, as sloths are one of the slowest-moving creatures on earth; you could knock one out of a tree, or if you’re especially lucky, catch one on the ground, as sloths can barely crawl and wouldn’t even stand a chance against a pursuer in a nonmotorized wheelchair.  Dispatch and skin.  You can save the hide for Halloween gags or dry it in the sun to make one of those doorside boot-scrapers to get the mud off your shoes.  Dice and bake with blah blah ingredients for blah blah etc.  Since “tastes like chicken” has been hopelessly overdone, pass it off as “free-range, organic wild boar” and you’ll be legit for the first three descriptors.  This will also garner you plenty of yuppified brownie points (“exotic ingredients, yet a humble preparation!”).  I don’t suggest you actually eat it, unless you find yourself in an Amazonian prison camp and manage to bag a sloth that wanders on to the premises.  Anyone who’s eaten sloth is welcome to leave a comment.

 

Virtuous Snack Bait-and-Switch

 

Why?  Why?

Why? Why?

This isn’t so much a recipe as a strategy.  It was inspired by a real life episode at a party of odd factions.  Someone brought a bag of “Tings,” a pitiful puffed food product intended to be a healthy version of Cheetos for people with no sense or tastebuds.  One disappointed party-goer opened the bag with resignation when suddenly she spied Cool Ranch Doritos across the room.  “Fuck the Tings, there’s Doritos!” she cried, flinging the pretenders aside.  Here’s how to make yourself look good and score better snacks for yourself, although it does involve risk.  Purchase an overpriced, “natural” or organic snack food to bring to a party.  Assuming you aren’t beaten up at the door, you’ll be highly regarded as healthy, concerned, wealthy, or all three.  Make sure you are seen opening the bag, and if you must, eat a little of the contents to provide authenticity.  When others are not looking, abandon the healthy snack and eat your fill of all the other good, junky snacks that everyone else brought.  Sure, the initial investment could be high, but you can easily eat three times that cost in junky goods.  Leave the party sated and basking in eco-sensitive glory.  This can work at most social functions, but I caution against trying it at your next Crips meeting.

Posted in Life In the Mod Podge Lane | Tagged: , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

The Sort-of Facts of Life

Posted by crowbiz on June 16, 2009

 

 

 

 

hilarious cards by wryandginger on etsy

hilarious cards by wryandginger on etsy

The Bunkbed Confidential category is so named for the weird and often heartfelt conversations that seem to transpire at the boys’ bedtime, a usually chaotic time that ends most nights with parental cuddling for each boy in their respective beds.  Since the boys were little, however, they’ve tended to spill the beans to mom rather than Mr Crow, probably out of sheer availability and time logged in mandatory cuddling, and I’m milking this all I can until we hit the monosyllabic grunt years.  The habit and need surrounding the cuddling ritual is so entrenched that there are times when I seriously worry I will have to drive to their eventual dorm rooms and lie down next to them with my hand across their chest.

 

 

 

 

While we’ve never had anything remotely resembling a sit-down lesson on the facts of life – that is, matters sexual, not mortgage, tax or annoying coworkers – various topics have come up over time and I address them as is, which leads to meandering but informative sessions.  It’s easy to see that SonWon, when given an interesting new piece of bodily information, is eager to think of ways to work it into conversations with others, and I’ve encouraged him to act wisely and not try to become the Merck Manual of Bus 408.  

Way back in first grade, he told me (from the top bunk) that some kids and he were discussing “boobs” at the school lunch table.  “Really?” I said, wondering what he could possibly have contributed to the conversation. “And what did you say?”  He was forthright:  “I told them you had big ones.”   I advised him that “breasts” was a better word to use.  Careful not to dissuade him from disclosing info, I try to keep things lighthearted.  It also helps that he’s had to sit through many of my lectures on very basic brain anatomy and function, and considers me an expert on biological matters.  Whenever I honestly tell him I don’t know the answer to some physiological function like renal failure, he assumes I’m just too tired or busy to bother crafting an reply – I’m holding out on him.

Though SonWon had for some time known that a man’s penis and “cells” from both parents are somehow involved in making babies, we never got to the specifics until one bedtime session when he was in second grade.  He asked the dreaded question about how the man’s cells get into the woman.  Like many kids, he had a fuzzy notion that kissing was involved, since it’s usually the most obvious and intimate physical contact most kids witness between parents – one hopes.  At the time, I was lounging in the lower bunk with SonToo, who was about 4 or 5 and still sucked his thumb.  He was listening closely, as always, wondering if this might somehow be of interest or import to him, but letting his big bro do the talking.

Since matter-of-fact is my normal daily mode, I laid out a hypothetical baby-making strategy in a few simple steps.  The sperm cells come out of the man’s penis, which has to go inside the woman, specifically, the vagina, or as SonWon already knew it, the birth canal.  Then the sperm meets up with the egg for tapas and drinks before merging. (If I’ve misstated something here, someone should email me.  But I think I have the basics right, which, sadly, many people do not.  When teaching Human Sexuality to college students, I inevitably get mired down explaining facts that anyone who has reached the age of 12 should know, but I just pick my jaw up off the floor and continue with impromptu hand-scrawled diagrams.  My penis cross-section is famous, if wince-inducing.  Even more class time is wasted dispelling ridiculous misinformation and rumors that have surprising tenacity, considering I heard the same things 30 years ago.)

SonWon was momentarily mortified at the idea of insertion and insisted I repeat it, since I’m known to prank him with a straight face and weary sigh for extra fool-power.  “You mean it really goes inside the woman’s body?” he asked. I affirmed this.  SonToo, three steps behind at kissing, suddenly sprang upright as if propelled by a broken coil.  His thumb shot out of his mouth with a comic pop, and he shouted in horror, “IN DA MOUTH?!  Eeeewww!!”

 

photo by Pavel Krok

photo by Pavel Krok

This isn’t what you envision, no matter what your philosophy of sexual education.  I had to literally press him back down, perhaps like some cartoon version of getting a corpse to lie flat in a casket.  This exclamation concerned SonWon, probably making him think he wasn’t listening closely enough and had misinterpreted something about where the penis is supposed to go.  “No, really, Mom, does it have to go in the woman’s mouth?!” he worried.  They followed up with a duet of more “eeeewwwws.”

 

Haha, you say.  It’s not so ha-ha when you’ve been caught off guard and have to get the game back into regulation time.  A few mental stops and starts slowed my response, what with ideas of oral sex and avoiding explaining oral sex, but I managed something to the effect of “The penis does not go in the woman’s mouth….to make a baby.”  It was tempting to tell them the mouth is the only place the penis should go until they finish graduate school and have good-paying jobs.  Double sighs of relief told me that was enough for them, and they’d be ruminating on it long enough that I didn’t need to burden them with more facts right then and there.  Anyway, I knew the other shoe was not just about to drop, but crash, freight train-like, to the floor from SonWon.

“So that means you and Dad had to….”

There’s nothing like ending the day by hearing your kids’ “eeeeewws” grow quieter and quieter under the peaceful veil of sleep.

Posted in Bunkbed Confidential | Tagged: , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Tales of the Seedless Rye

Posted by crowbiz on June 11, 2009

Thanks to Mr Crow’s encouragement, I’ve decided to somehow squish some disparate experiences into one post.  A couple weekends ago, our friends urged us to attended a roller derby match (meet?  I dunno, I’m a philistine in the roller derby world) with them at the Rainbow Rink in infamous North Tonawanda…

Queen City Roller Girls

Now then, the roller derby could be a couple posts in and of itself, and that’s where I thought I was starting.  It all turned left somewhere, but you can’t casually mention “roller derby” then just glaze over it.  I’ll put my most important statement first:  If you haven’t gone to see a roller derby, you really should.  We caught the Queen City Roller Girls (Team QCRG) versus the Philly Roller Girls (Broad Street Butchers team).  Knowing less about the derby than I do about particle physics proved to be no handicap to a night of fun.

Before arriving, I had jaded expectations that the scene would be plagued by hipsters in search of blog-worthy irony (you know that type – lord, how we detest them!) There may have been a few, but the mix of subcultures was vast and interesting.  Campsters, kitschsters, lots of supportive friends and relatives of the teams, and a goodly portion of local Chevy-plant types.  Refreshments were cheap tap beer and various Jack Daniels malt liquor products such as the imitation jack-and-cola concoction that I couldn’t pass up (warning:  sticky-sweet and headache inducing).  After further thought, I determined that it’s really rather hard to be all that ironic in Buffalo, and the ones busting their guts and congratulating themselves on enjoying the local “irony” are typically college sophmores from out of town. 

As someone who cannot even execute a passable cross-over on skates, I found a lot to admire in the roller teams as they made their way around the flat-track.  Mostly, I loved the player names, like “Leggs Benedict” (who wears a bloodied apron), “Stormie Weather,” “Mexicali Bruise,” and “Tara Newone,” so much so that I was often dreamily distracted from the action while trying to come up with my own handle.  I decided I’d go the sweet route (a la “Lamb Chop”) and become “Sunnyside Up” and my short-shorts would have an appliqued fried egg on each butt cheek.

During the halftime break, a rockabilly band provided a musical interlude while helpers rolled out pallets stacked with loaves of Al Cohen’s seedless rye bread to throw to the crowd. Here’s where the night’s meaning began to crystallize.  Not knowing the protocol, Mr Crow and I half-heartedly stuck out our arms to catch a loaf – we like rye, after all – but we couldn’t hold an elbow to the regulars as they jockeyed and jostled to pluck a loaf from mid-air.  Some were high lobs, some were low grounders, and suddenly, a loaf came whizzing so fast past Mr Crow that his grabbing it was a lucky afterthought.  By this time we had drinks in hand, jackets to hold and now the bread, so the logical thing to do would be to get a 25-cent rink locker for our loose belongings – if only every bar or concert venue had this amenity!  Mr Crow selected Locker 52, and we were free to watch the second half.

 

Makes great toast

Makes great toast

The match ended too soon for me, but alas, we had to go.  As we retrieved our things and turned to join the departing stream, a woman cried out in panic, “My bread! Someone stole my bread!”  The next half minute turned into one of those slo-mo episodes in which you can sort of see what’s coming, but are doubting it too much to do anything.  Some big guy, the type who must insert himself at the slightest whiff of dissention, probably hoping for fisticuffs or at least shoving, stepped in to assist with an assertive, “Who took it?!”  The woman’s wild eyes flashed at Mr Crow and his legitimately-obtained loaf as she shrieked with certitude, “Him!”  All surrounding heads turned toward the action and people actually – actually! – stepped back to form a small open circle, the kind where the two playground contestants are expected to settle their business.

 

The big dude was about to rev up his “alright buddy…” routine on behalf of the breadless woman, but Mr Crow protected his loaf like a running back cradles a football, while strangers hands made their way toward him for a bread-tugging contest.  With a perfectly staged, outraged near-falsetto, he stopped everyone dead with, “This is my bread – I just got it out of my locker!”  His arm shot up to identify trusty Number 52, with its key probably still warm from his pocket.  

It seemed likely that everyone involved wanted to laugh from the get-go, but the need to serve justice superceded any leeway for outright yuks.  Just saying “mine” really proves nothing, but I guess the idea of a middle-aged man indignantly referencing a roller rink locker was enough evidence for the crowd.  A guy wouldn’t lie about that kind of thing.

Turns out, the errant loaf had been picked up by our friend, who rightly recognized it as a stray on the bench in front of us – we’d all seen it sitting alone.  When he turned around to see the near rye-scuffle, he offered it up with apologies to the woman, who gathered it to herself like a lost toddler.  Later he commented in his sanguine way, “The bread was left unattended; I wasn’t going to just leave it there.”  Which is really all there is to say.

Of this episode, one could quip, “Only in North Tonawanda!” but that would be way off.  That scene could have played out in Cheektowaga, the other Tonawanda,  Sloan, anywhere in Buffalo, and most of the Southtowns…well, most of Western New York.  I’d except East Amherst from this, but then, I’d except East Amherst from a whole lot of things – and that’s another post for when I feel a suburb-slam coming on.

Posted in Life In the Mod Podge Lane | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

What Do You Call a Call-Out Outer?

Posted by crowbiz on June 9, 2009

 

You wish

You wish

As a rule, I avoid participating in the spit-spat stuff of the Etsy Forums, as long as you don’t count intermittent comical asides I insert to break up the longer paragraphs of peoples’ vitriol.  Much as I hate confrontation, I’m not above cheap voyueristic enjoyment of it, plus, nothing riles a flamer – or pops their balloon – like the suggestion that other people are having a grand time at their expense.  Requesting “Orville Redenbacher in Thread 3, please!” or dropping in lyrics from smaltzy 70s love songs is more my style, but nevertheless, I do read a lot of the back-and-forth to get of sense of where people think they lie in the Big Crusade.  After a particularly irritating thread I saw recently, I thought I’d post (I had no choice!)

 

These commonly degenerate into an I-may-be-wrong-but-I’m-righter-than-you smarmfest, and always, someone is wrong.  You can usually tell in the OP’s opening salvo that they are just dying to blow in some perceived wrong-doer, but they need enough agitation to go ahead and give the damning info.  Usually it’s something we can all backtrack easily enough, which is known as… CALLING OUT.  Did you know?  No, the OP did not give a name or serial number, but unless you are six years old and just signed up on Etsy yesterday, you and everyone else will be able to pinpoint the OP’s target du jour. 

Here is a sample of Etsy-rip, and see if you can find the item and seller:   “I’m so mad at this seller who makes an item that copies so bad!  I’m about to loose my mind!!!!!  They are something with frogs, which is that I have been selling my frog items since October of 2008 and not only but my friend’s shop has green magnets that this so unscrupled person is also selling, so both me and my friend are getting ripped off and COPIED.  I will not name names, but convo me if you want to know!!!”

(Regular readers, do not worry that I hit my head.  I was writing in the Etsy colloquial.)  

Did you locate the offending item?  In my shop?  In about four seconds?  Did I do a good job calling myself out without mentioning myself?  Newbies make this mistake often, but the shocking thing is that I’ve seen buckets of threads like this by what look like seasoned Etsians.  

The worst, however, are the posters who go around in alternating modes of justice and self-defense, digging the purported “offender” and whirling right around to clamp their hands over their own asses before eventually (cartoon sproingggg!), calling out another Etsian by name.  As a visual person, what I immediately see is a cornered rat snapping, retreating, lunging, trying to adjust its halo, and playing dead all in one pitiful episode.  The named-name call-out is almost invariably preceded or followed by a disclaimer of the “I didn’t want to have to do this, but..”  or “since you made me…” type, which, if the world were more perfect, would be paired with a 220-volt shock to the genitals.  Also eligible for corporal punishment should be, “I know I’m calling out, but…”  (And I’d like to trace the evolution of the word “but” as a useful conjunction to a magic word that turns a wrong into a perceived right – that’s “right” in both senses of the word.  “I know I shouldn’t call you ugly, but it’s just that you have that really bad skin and hair.  I’m just saying.”)

Get this:  When you call out, do not imagine that you are the renegade star of “The Legend of Billie Jean” – possibly one of the worst movies ever created (thank you again, Lazypedia).  It should be required viewing for every person who intends to post in a forum.  If you haven’t the the time or the stomach for a mid-80s mind-bendingly bad teen flick (with Christian Slater, no less), here is the nutshell.  Teen gal and younger teen bro are victimized by some bad characters (theft, attempted rape, etc) and the law, and subsequently have to break a lot of rules to enoxerate themselves and expose the bad guys.  But they are innocent, man, ’cause they had no choice!  It was the only way!  By trying to bust an Etsy offender in the forums this way, you are not doing a righteous, if unpleasant thing.  You’re doing a wrong thing, since you are not Billie Jean, this is not MTV, Etsy administration is not a byzantine system of crooked cops, and that seller with the mistagged vintage item for $3.00 did not try to rape you behind the scooter shop.

Get your sorry ass back to your workspace and get busy on your own concerns.  You might make a killing by selling reclaimed wood, handcarved shit-stirrers.

By the way, I really like Etsy Call-Out.  Call me crazy, call me complex, just don’t call me out.

Posted in Business & Etsy | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Peeves: Self-Showcasers

Posted by crowbiz on June 8, 2009

 

If the bauble fits....

If the bauble fits....

Today’s gripe is the person who offers a coy apology for some characteristic they actually wish to show off.  Where to begin? 

 

Self-showcasing takes many forms, perhaps the best known being the Holiday Letter, which runs through a laundry list of accomplishments, accolades and adventures like so many Comic Sans ornaments on snowflake glitter stationery.  On whole, though, these aren’t so bad, since they’re a mockable genre unto themselves.  Recipients are used to giggling at them and we can read between the lines anyway.  You can keep your agonizing decision between the Juilliard and Harvard and the zany mishaps from your two weeks at the villa in Barbados.  My family had a blast with the remote-controlled fart machine on our camping trip.  The Mr and I like to shout out quotes from those letters whenever the mood strikes – usually in the middle of an unpleasant chore or hyper-mundane daily moment such as trash duty or realizing that we’ve run out of Ziploc snack bags.

The more irritating self-showcaser is the one who, whenever possible, worms their creds, with phony backpedaling, into ongoing proceedings.

“Oh, I hope you like a lot of tarragon in the vegetables.  Sorry, I just do it automatically since we used to do it that way at Le Cordon Bleu.  I don’t even think!”

“I wish I had finer hair like you!  I can never get mine to do that – it’s always so crazy.  Must be from my Native American heritage, or maybe the Gypsy, I’m not sure which!”

“Oh, IQ tests are so meaningless anyway.  I mean, I tested at, like, 158, but who knows, that’s probably so bogus.”

“Looks like rain, so don’t forget your ‘brolly.  Oops, I mean umbrella… I’m not in London anymore!”

“Ever since that Habitat For Humanity project, I just really like a malt liquor with lunch.  No, no, it’s crazy, but really good.”

“Don’t mind me, I’m always using ridiculous, big words like that!  Grad school turned me this way… god, I’m such a nerd!”  No you’re not – you’re an asshole.

What about the Outright Bragger in all this, you may wonder?  The O.B. is a different breed, and I argue, the Self-Showcaser has much greater annoyance potential.  The so-called braggart is happy to share their world, sometimes loudly, and wants to give you all the information up front.  You can take it or leave it as you wish.  I’d rather hear someone talk with gusto and passion about their experiences.  I’d love to hear about your year in London, or the recipe you got directly from Ferran Adria, or the details of your MBA program (ha, just kidding on that one!), but tell me with feeling.  An added benefit of the boaster is that they tend to be relatively affable and more tolerant of back-slapping, rib-poking call-outs on the blowhardiness.  Sometimes, paradoxically, the boaster can be a good listener, too, since some of the same qualities underly their self-disclosure and their enjoyment of others’ worlds.  Life in large bites.

The sly self-showcaser, though, presents an obligation.  They drop their teasers and hope that anyone within earshot will follow up.  You’re expected to take the tidbit and “pry out” the information they are so aching to reveal.  Not my cup of organic rooibos tea grown on your friend’s farm in South Africa.  I guess because outright boasting is a social faux pas, some people try to do it in a self-depricating way. OK, you needn’t brag, but it doesn’t mean you have to be an annoying feinter.

Many of us lapse into the self-showcasing subterfuge, so be careful before you point and deride.  I like two-dollar words just as much as the next high-IQ world traveling artistic gastronome, but often, words like “poo” and “stink” are just what I’m looking for.  And remember my maxim about “looking within.” 

I’m not even going to include the winky icon.

Posted in Life In the Mod Podge Lane | Tagged: , , , , , | 5 Comments »

A Day in June

Posted by crowbiz on June 5, 2009

Nothing smarmy today!  I’m posting some pics of the back yard as a favor to all you nice folks who post pretty pics and lovely thoughts.  After sampling the usual Etsians’ blogs, I feel like a crabby troll and wish to dispel the notion that I live under a cold, scratchy rock.  Without further ado:

 

My favorite clematis of our current five.  As it grows, it will do a better job hiding the neighboring plastic beige house.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The not so slim shady garden

The not so slim shady garden

The “shade” garden that lost its identity after the October 2006 storm removed all the shade.  Doing better than ever.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sailboat weathervane found by my brother-in-law.  It’s even oriented correctly.  Goes nicely with the pot-bellied woodchopper whirligig nearby.

 

 

Poppies!  Poppies!  Woo, I’m feeling sleepy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not bad for a roughly 20′ x 50′ rectangle.  Carefully edited out are the playhouse, which the boys and Big Daddy plan to turn into a 5000 square foot electrified boy-man hang, the compost bin, and the poop piles.  Happy June.

Posted in Life In the Mod Podge Lane | Tagged: , , , | 4 Comments »

Upgrade Your &@$# Language

Posted by crowbiz on June 3, 2009

 

and think

and think

We really need to brush up our insults. (Or, in one of the most dreaded phrases I often encounter when grading ostensibly college level papers:  “We as a society need to brush up our insults.”  Usually there’s a meaningless, bloated follow-up sentence about “helping” children or the mentally disabled, even if it’s a statistics class.)

 

OK, let me say it this way.  If everyone is a fucking moron, then no one is a fucking moron.

Call me a nit-picker, but I require some specificity.  What kind of fucking moron?  The kind who goes through stop signs in residential neighborhoods?  The kind who leaves their toddlers home alone when running out on an errand?  Or the kind who uses a hair dryer in the shower?  There are oh so many ways to be a fucking moron, so you must clarify. It would be as if, when someone asks what you do for a living, you reply, “I’m a worker.”  Fucking morons like that throw the words around carelessly, dilute any impact, and blow it for the rest of us.

I still do this unfunny ploy to my students when urging them to proofread and shape up their writing.  With fake-earnest excitement, I announce that there are two great new tools that can drastically improve their writing – instantly!  I talk it up for a few minutes, saying how easy these wonder products are to use and that they will change their writing, and if used properly, have the potential to make it better permanently.  Their eyes grow bigger, the silence deepens as they wait for my big announcement.  Some are thinking how much they will have to shell out.  Some wonder if they can download it before the paper is due.  Some even stop texting.  

Then the denouement… “They are called a ‘dictionary’ and ‘your brain.'”  Faces of puzzlement.  No one even scoffs at me or laughs.  Not even an eye roll.  A few will write it down.  Most go back to texting.

Along with our friend the dictionary is our pal the thesaurus.  Very soon it will become mandatory reading in this household, as I’m so weary of hearing the brotherly insult, “You’re a poo.”  It would be music to my ears if someday I could even overhear, “You’re an encopretic emmission.”  Just once.  

Growing up, my siblings and I got in our share of insults, but strictly verboten in the Wannemacher household were insults to intelligence.  Words like stupid, dummy, idiot, and the like had Mom reaching for the soap (woe if she was within striking distance of the Lava instead of the Dial).  Those insults are mean, but their greater fault is that they are achingly common, and Mom, a ninja crossword puzzler, probably found the latter more objectionable than the former.  I try to make the point with my boys that if you’re going to use insults or complaints, don’t be prosaic, and more importantly, don’t embarrass me by public uses of plebeian language.  

Particularly rankling to me are occurrences of “butt” and “butthead.”  “Bum-cephalic” is fine, as would be “tete de derriere,” but change like that is hard to come by.  For a while, they came up with “cashew” as an all-purpose curse, as in “What the cashew’s going on in here?!” but it fell out of favor quickly.  It has a couple of the hard sounds of “fuck” or “shit,” but the image of a little, beige, curved nut sort of ruins the angry emphasis. 

Don’t misunderstand me.  I’m not in any way pleading for cleaner language or avoiding the use of all fuck-derivatives, or intellectual slanders.  Sometimes you need to employ them;  I’m just advocating more creativity.  Instead of the boring lament, “Dude, that sucks” you might try, “Dude, that’s a shitwurst sandwich.”

So cast aside your fucking morons, unless you’re an addle-brained frat boy, in which case, you probably have a medical excuse from your neurologist.  And next time that mother-copulating decorticoid speeds down my street, I’m going to shout it from the porch, if I can get all the syllables out before he blows the stop sign, too.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , | 7 Comments »

Ma Barker Ain’t Got Nothin’ On Me

Posted by crowbiz on June 1, 2009

Recently, my first-grader was composing sentences for his weekly spelling words, a task he normally completes on his own or with minimal assistance.  One of his words was “pay.”   He jolted me to attention when he shouted out, “Mom, I know one:  ‘Pay up, sucka!'”

After complimenting his quick thinking, I gently suggested he generate a different sentence, one that would be less likely to evoke visions of our household as Little Gangland on the Prairie.  He knew he was being funny, but only a bit.  Mainly, he was echoing similar statements I make when poring over the orders and accounts, sending out the polite but clear emails and reminders about “following through.”  Given my wordy nature, I get more wrapped up in it than I intend, then become exasperated and just blurt something like his sentence above.  At first I felt a wave of embarrassment, like when you hear your toddler saying “How many times have I told you…?” to his stuffed animals.  Then, while steering him toward a more appropriate homework sentence, the shame was replaced with a kind of dark pride that my kid was on my side and could potentially be my mouthpiece.

 

Ma sent us

Ma sent us

Would they go to bat for me?  Would they go to the mat for me?  Would they (cliched sports analogy) if I gave the word?  Maybe I could make use of them one day, not too far off, and send them to do my dirty work.  Well, nothing I do is particularly “dirty,” but I bet they’d love to be charged with some of my business dealings, especially ones that could require weapons.  “Boys!”  I’d holler through teeth clenching a stubby cigar, “Git down here.  I got some work for youse!”  There at our dimly lit table, I’d rifle through some manhandled unpaid invoices and shove a few into each kid’s grubby, waiting hand.  “Take care a’ these, how ’bout?”  They nod because they know what that means:  come home with the money and maintain mama’s approval.  She’s too old to do the face time anymore; gotta protect the old broad;  she gave us life, dint she?

 

Boys loving their mommies is a universal law that makes it good to be queen.  Unless you’re a pretty rotten mother, you’re safe, and I’m sure I haven’t slipped that far yet; it’s a long way to go before your boy-child, whatever his age, rejects you.  If you don’t believe me, refer to Russell Crowe in the film 3:10 to Yuma.  Though bound and seemingly powerless as a captured outlaw, he somehow manages to kill a man who insinuates that his mother’s hygiene and morals are sub-par. “Even bad men love their mamas,” he summarizes.  Unfortunately, their willingness to kill for you does not ensure that they will pick up their wet towels or remember to put their bikes away when told.

 

 

Trouble with a capital G & R - "GRouble"?

Trouble with a capital G & R - "GRouble"?

As anyone can clearly see, these boys do not inspire much fear.  Rather than apologetically fork over the dough, anyone confronted by them is more likely to say, “Honey, tie that shoe.”  Ah ha, but that’s the beauty of it – you’d be sadly mistaken, for their powers are great.  They need no weapons, they require no arm strength, they can dispense with threatening statements.  They just need to show up.

 

 

SonWon:  SonWon is almost constantly happy.  And chatty.  He’s clever and quick, and would likely talk and charm you out of anything he came for.  It’s worth repeating that he’s chatty, because therein lies your downfall.  While inquiring about your day at work, singing, and trying to recount the plot of all seven Harry Potter novels, he’d be able to pick you clean and depart with one of his shoes missing, leaving both of you smiling.  He’s so confident, that soon after his friendly deception, he’ll come back and ask if you’d like to play a game of chess, and he’ll kindly point out when you’re about to make an unwise move.  Unconcerned about being found out, he’ll probably still have your wallet and important papers stuffed into his pocket with candy wrappers and a few bottle caps.  Chat you up a little more.  Just for being so winsome, you’ll want to give him a little something for the candy store, but when you reach for your wallet, it isn’t there, and neither is he.  Wherever he’s gone to will be a mystery, since SonWon forgets everything at approximately 30-second intervals, and the odds are poor that he can find his way home.  But he’ll be happy, whatever the outcome.

SonToo:  If, by looking at SonToo’s hair, you cannot gain insight into his character, you are not very perceptive.  He does not need many words, and the ones he chooses, while not eloquent, cannot fail to be heard.  This is the “Pay up, sucka!” that you ignore at your peril.  I can still pick him up like he’s a monkey in candy-striped undies, but he has the force of an F5 tornado and the subtlety of 20 fingernails down the chalkboard. Don’t even think you’re going to outlast him – just plan on giving in and making your life 72 hours better.  SonToo will chew rocks, split your ears, and sit out in the rain, but he ain’t going away.  During all this, however, he may ask you to adjust his socks, because he just can’t stand feeling that little thready thing on his third toe, and it could lead to a lot of tears.  A laser beam on fine-tune, he’s a meticulous, relentless machine.  With a lot of tears.  And shouting. At 7, he routinely wins at poker against adult men who are not throwing the game. One of his more cheerful ruses involves quickly snatching the enemy’s dinner plate when he/she is up from the seat (a constant occurrence at our meals), and placing it on the chair.  He zips back to his own place and waits for the victim to return and sit on the pot roast and asparagus.  Casseroles are favored for this ploy.

If these two show up together at your front door, it’s been nice knowing you.

 

Misunderstood Ma

Misunderstood Ma

My original intent was to portray myself as a modern day Ma Barker as described above.  Turns out, after a cheap online search that I would scald my students over, the myth done got busted good.  Bible of the Lazy, Wikipedia, tells us that Mrs Barker was no more the engineer of a criminal empire than she was a Supreme Court nominee.  It seems she just happened to be the mother of a couple of gun-slinging, society-defying, ham-handed miscreants, and like most mothers, was not eager to turn her babies over to the law, no matter how stupid or wayward they were.  Time, a lack of instant media outlets, the feds, and a public hungry for lurid romanticism turned Ma into the pistol-packing mother of villainy we think of, when really, she probably just did a crappy job raising her sons. 

 

I can only dream of such a snazzy revisionist misunderstanding, even if I do get shot dead in the end.

Posted in Business & Etsy, Life In the Mod Podge Lane | Tagged: , , , , , | 6 Comments »