Flashback Friday: Hell is Other Concert-goers

At one point in my life, I used to like to go to concerts, and in fact, there was a while where I went to a lot of them. But I started to realize that there were a lot of reasons I didn’t enjoy them very much—in fact, ended up feeling like it was, on balance, more of a hassle than the entertainment value was worth—and I stopped being all that enthusiastic about seeing even my favorite bands. At this point, it’s been years since I’ve been to a concert, and this post sums up a pretty significant reason why.

(Originally posted May 28, 2008)

Wil Wheaton blog features an account of a bad concert-going experience that reminds me of why I stopped going to concerts. Seems he had gone to see The Police — at $60 per ticket — when he encountered some rude woman behind him who insisted on talking loudly on her cell phone for a good chunk of the concert, then had the unmitigated gall to get pissed off when he politely asked her to keep it down:

For the next twenty minutes, this woman loudly complained about me to her equally drunk, equally idiotic friends. She kicked my chair. She clapped her hands next to my head. She screamed like a teenage girl in a Beatles concert film.

In other words, this stupid asshole made about a third of her concert experience — seeing The Police! — all about trying as hard as she could to ruin it for me, because I’d asked — politely — for her to just be considerate of the people around her.

I used to go to a fair number of concerts. But I noticed that concerts started getting more and more expensive, especially as “TicketBastard” tacks on more and more “service fees.” And more and more often, I would have to deal with a large number of assholes at these concerts. People like the woman who ruined Wil’s evening with The Police. The attitude among these cretins seems to be “I spent a bunch of money to be here, so I can act however I want.”

And generally, I think people are becoming less and less considerate of other people. For example, very few people I know show up when they tell me they will, which forces me to tell people to be somewhere much earlier than the “real” time because that’s the only hope in hell I have of people showing up somewhere when I need them to. People also seem to have taken a rather cavalier attitude to RSVPs, too. These days, if you ask for RSVPs for an event, you can count on a small but not insignificant number of people telling you they’re coming to your event and then, without warning, deciding not to show. I was reading one of those “advice columns” once, and a guy wrote in to say that he planned a big 40th birthday party for his wife (catered, DJ, everything), invited a bunch of her friends and co-workers, who all said they’d be there, and then none of them showed. Not one. In a later edition of the column, people expressed shock and disbelief, but, sadly, this doesn’t surprise me at all. People just seem to have lost their consideration for other people, and think nothing of deciding not to show up places after telling people they’ll be there. Shoppers block aisles in grocery stores without moving out of the way of others trying to get by, asshole neighbors will smoke or use their grill right outside your open window without a thought for you, and yes, people will talk through a concert or movie you’re trying very hard to enjoy. What’s more sad about Wil’s post is not that it happened, but that things like that happen so often.

(Yeah, that Wil Wheaton. Yeah, I’m still a Star Trek geek.)

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It Takes a Lot of Heart

A guy in Detroit had a heart attack, and, as you might expect, called 911. And, as you might also expect, one of the EMTs did CPR on the guy while the other one drove. But then, in the middle of giving a guy CPR for a heart attack, the EMT has a heart attack of his own. You might expect that a guy having a heart attack while doing CPR on a heart-attack victim would maybe try to get some help for himself, right? Not this guy. Instead, he kept on doing CPR on the guy. Is this guy a badass or what?

Despite his own distress, the 40-year-old EMT finished caring for his patient. Hardman warned his partner, who was driving, that there’d be two patients instead of one once they arrived at DMC Harper University Hospital.

I can only imagine that this guy has a hard time putting on his pants in the morning because of the enormous balls. Anyway, he got his guy to the emergency department alive, and then became a patient himself; apparently both survived.

That takes some serious dedication right there. Now, I take my job pretty seriously, but fair warning: if you retain me to handle your appeal, and I have a heart attack in the middle of writing your brief, I’m going to stop working on it (at least long enough to, you know, have someone look into the whole heart-attack thing).

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Flashback Friday: You have GOT to be Joking

It’s time for Flashback Friday, because “Throwback Thursday” is for lame wannabe hipsters (and not at all because I didn’t think of doing this until Friday). I started the first incarnation of this blog just over ten years ago, when I was desperately looking for things to do that weren’t studying for the Bar exam. I more-or-less regularly updated it for about five years, less regularly for another two years, and it’s been essentially dormant for the last three. When I moved everything to the current format, I basically archived the old posts, because, well, a lot of them sucked. But some of them didn’t suck all that much, I may trot them back out at random intervals. Some editing may occur for clarity, typos, or to make me seem slightly more intelligent or less stupid, as the case may be.

The following post is one that I find interesting to read now, five years later, living a much different life than I was then. It’s a post about these insane parents of two-year-olds and a very crazy thing they were doing. Now I actually have my own two-year-old, but back then, he wasn’t even a twinkle in my eye (I wouldn’t even meet my wife until over a year later). It’s easy, when you’re childless, to have opinions on seemingly crazy things parents do, and then to find yourself actually doing them when you actually become a parent yourself.  I am happy to report, however, that I didn’t start doing, or even consider doing, what these crazy jackasses did.


(Originally posted June 8, 2008)

Sadly, however, they are not joking. It seems that out-of-control parenting has gotten further out of control, as News.com.au reports that two-year-olds have started handing out business cards.

I’ll let that sink in for a minute.

This is not a joke. Apparently something has happened in Australia to make parents completely lose their minds. In what the article calls “a phenomenon that has taken the country by storm,” It seems that these Aussie whackjobs “are investing in business cards for their children.” Business cards. For kids. And they pay about $50 for 50 of them (yeah, it’s Australian dollars, but they’re pretty close to equal to US dollars).

“Ethan feels very important when he trots off to give someone his business card,” says one of the nutjobs who thinks this is a good idea.

I’m not too keen on violence, but this is one of those times when I think people maybe need to have some sense smacked into them. Thankfully, I’m not alone in recognizing that this is insane:

Parenting experts have dubbed the notion “preposterous”, believing it to be a classic example of obsessive parenting.

* * *

Parenting expert Prof Matt Sanders from the University of Queensland, said kids should be kids.

“Giving children business cards is totally unnecessary,” he said. “There is nothing they could possibly gain. It’s just a silly gimmick.”

I’m not sure you need to be a “parenting expert” to understand this, but apparently, in Australia, you do.

(Via Dave Barry’s blog.)

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Things People Need to Stop Doing

I know it shouldn’t surprise me, but I do still find myself amazed at people doing things that, frankly, boggle my mind. The world could be a much better place if everyone would stop doing the following things:

Answering the Phone at Inappropriate Times

This applies mostly to a certain subset of cell-phone users. Time and time again, I have run across people who apparently feel that there is some sort of federal law requiring them to answer their phones every time they ring (that their phones have a “vibrate” or “off” setting is usually news to them). Every. Single. Damn. Time. And it’s not that they are expecting important calls. How do I know this? Because, almost to a person, they will look at the caller ID, see who’s calling, answer the phone, and say, “I can’t talk right now.” You know what else conveys that message? Not answering the damn phone! Good lord, people, that’s why we have voicemail! This almost always happens in the least appropriate spot. For example, I was once in the audience for a very interesting lecture, and some guy got a phone call in the middle of it. Which he answered, for the sole purpose of telling the caller he couldn’t talk right now. And, of course, the jackass didn’t even attempt to get up and leave the (relatively small) room or whisper or anything, just sat there, and took the call.

For the most part, people just aren’t getting phone calls that are that important. There are exceptions, of course. My wife is a surgeon. If she doesn’t answer her phone, someone might die. And even she leaves the room to take calls in our own home. (Granted, a lot of this might be explained by our noisy two-year-old, who also assumes that everyone who calls is one of his grandparents.) If you don’t literally have someone’s life riding on you answering a phone call, and you’re in a public place where you’re going to disturb someone by talking on your phone: (1) let it go to voicemail, or (2) leave the room before answering.

Excessive or Inappropriate “Selfies”

“Selfies” are pictures one takes of oneself with one’s cell-phone camera; they usually end up being posted to the internet. Now, I can understand maybe needing a picture for a profile on, say, Facebook or Twitter, and maybe posting that. But some people, often women, take tons of them, and then post them all over Facebook. The reason usually is something along the lines of, “hey, check out how awesome I look!”—a ploy for attention, in other words. A local radio show I like to listen to (Drew Lane and Marc Fellhauer’s show on 105.1 FM in Detroit) points out that what usually happens is that some sketchy contingent of that woman’s male Facebook friends then makes leering comments about them (they then took some calls from bummed-out husbands and boyfriends of said women). Yes. You’re so awesome and so interesting to look at that you have to resort to having pictures taken by… yourself. Right.

And, of course, as almost anyone can predict, people seem to like to take lots of naked pictures of themselves. I can’t imagine why anyone would do this, not because I’m all that prudish, but mostly because I have very bad luck, and figure that any such pictures of me would fall almost instantly into “the wrong hands.” The naked-picture-selfie has gone to the disturbing extreme of men liking to send pictures of their genitalia, often to unsuspecting women. Guys: stop doing this. No one needs to see it. Hell, I don’t even want to see my own junk, and it’s mine. No one else wants to see it, either. It’s kind of like a radio show: it can work quite well, and people can love it and what it does, without really needing to see it. I can’t think of a time a guy sending a “dick pic” to some woman has turned out well. Hell, it ended the political career of the ironically named former Congressman Anthony Weiner, who, of course, learned his lesson and never did it again.

Just kidding. Of course he kept doing it, even after being caught and being forced to resign in disgrace, and while attempting a political comeback while running for mayor of New York City. That’s a special kind of stupid right there. As someone who has the immature sense of humor of a fifteen-year-old, however, this has been a gold mine. For example, consider this actual headline from the (second!) Weiner scandal: “Women’s Groups Go on Attack Against Weiner.” Really? Come on, there has got to be a better way to say that. Of course, that was probably intentionally written by someone slyly trying to pull one over on us, with a sense of humor as immature as mine. I can only imagine the alternatives he or she may have considered: “Weiner Stands Firm in Response to Pressure from Women,” “Weiner Rigid in Facing Attention from Women’s Groups,” or “Weiner Withers from Anxiety of Public Exposure.”

But I digress. Speaking of pictures, ladies:

Duckface

Stop it. For those not aware of what I’m referring to, consider:

As the caption helpfully points out, you really don’t look anywhere near as hot as you think you do when you do this. (For a helpful illustration, click here.)

These are just a few things people do that drive people (or at least me, and in the end, I think we can all agree that my feelings are the paramount concern here) batty. Perhaps when my blood pressure comes down, I may post some more.

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Big Brother is Watching… and Bored Out of His Mind

I recently read a post that describes some new location-tracking features coming soon to the next iPhone operating system, iOS 7 (which is still in beta). Location tracking isn’t new, but these features apparently keep track of where you go, and eventually figure out where home, work, and other places you frequent are, and how long it will take you to get there. Even that isn’t entirely new (iPhones and Android phones using “Google Now” have had some similar functions for a while), but the article discusses some new ways it might be used. The actual substance of the article was interesting enough (discussing stuff like how your iPhone might warn you that you’re running late to work based on its calculation of travel time between where you are now, and there). But even more interesting, to me, was reading an article on a tech-oriented blog talking about location-tracking services that wasn’t all “ZOMG! YOUR PHONE IS TRACKING YOU, AND TRACKING IS EVIL, BECAUSE SOMEHOW YOU SHOULD BE EXPECTING TO BE ABLE TO USE STATE-OF-THE-ART TECHNOLOGY WHILE SIMULTANEOUSLY MAINTAINING AN OFF-THE-GRID LEVEL OF PRIVACY THE UNABOMBER WOULD ENVY!!!” Instead, this particular piece posits that the new capability is potentially “awesome” and explicitly refutes the notion that your phone knowing where you are is inherently evil:

When Google started correlating searches and locations with Google Now in late 2012, pundits called the service creepy, which is certainly how some users may feel about the IOS 7 frequent locations feature, but if Apple leverages it right it’s going to be pretty awesome.

So this post hits the other extreme from the tinfoil-hat-wearing Luddite extreme, asserting that these tracking functions will be “awesome.” As with life, however, the truth probably lies somewhere between the extremes.

For example, once my iPhone starts keeping track of my locations, it’s going to get pretty bored pretty quickly:

  • Home
  • Drop son off at daycare
  • Work
  • Pick son up from daycare
  • Home
  • Drop son off at daycare
  • Work
  • Pick son up from daycare
  • Home
  • Drop son off at daycare
  • Work
  • Pick son up from daycare
  • Home
  • Grocery store
  • Home

… and so on. At some point, Siri will probably spontaneously activate and say “holy shit, are you ever lame!!” Instead of telling me how long it will take to get from home to work, or work to home, my phone will probably suggest a few hobbies, or that I try getting out more (“Get a life: there’s an app for that!”). So, probably somewhere short of awesome, in other words. But at the same time, I’m hardly worried about secret black-helicopter-riding government agents, either.

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A Really Useless Engine

Our son is two and a half, and as many toddlers do, he enjoys watching the standard toddler/pre-school fare of such TV shows as Yo Gabba Gabba, Dinosaur Train, the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, (God help me) Barney the Dinosaur, and Thomas the Tank Engine (with his many Friends, of course).

For the most part these shows are (at least on the surface) lighthearted romps of childlike glee and amusement, blah blah blah. My son loves Thomas the Tank Engine and all of his locomotive friends, who work cheerfully on the Island of Sodor for the gruff but fair Sir Topham Hatt. The engines appear to be the primary mode of transportation and shipping for the Island’s residents. The apparent primary goal of any good Sodor-dwelling engine, according to the show, is to be “a really useful engine.”

Ironically, however, most episodes feature Thomas being the exact opposite of “a really useful engine.” One episode has Thomas being asked by a farmer to fetch some soft straw because the farmer’s pig is about to give birth to some piglets.[1] Thomas agrees, and sets off in search of the soft straw the farmer asked for. But along the way, Thomas wonders if there’s anything else the piglets might like. He runs into a few other allegedly “really useful engines” who tell him about the cargo they’re carrying. At each stop, Thomas decides that his friends’ cargo might be something the piglets would like, and he asks for it. And, for some reason, they give it to him.[2] For example, Thomas runs across his friend Percy, who’s tasked with delivering milk. Thomas asks Percy for some of the milk for the piglets, and Percy obliges. Another engine is at an orchard, waiting to deliver some apples; this one cheerfully agrees to hand over some of the apples to Thomas. Then he runs into a bunch of kids who are picking chestnuts, and the kids agree to give Thomas some chestnuts for the piglets.[3] After all of that farting around, he finally shows up—way late—at the farm where he was supposed to do his one job, collecting the straw. The straw farmer, understandably pissed off at waiting for Thomas to show up, points out that there’s no room for the straw thanks to all the other crap Thomas has piled up on his flatbed. Instead of trying to come up with some way to get the straw onto his flatbed and deliver it, he decides to blow it off, and “hope that the piglets like [the other shit] just as much as straw.” And off he goes.

He pulls up to the pig farmer’s place all proud of himself for bringing a bunch of stolen property no one asked for, but the farmer was distraught because what he really needed was soft straw to use as bedding for the piglets. Which is, you know, what he asked for in the first place. Thomas “felt very silly” for not doing the only thing he was asked to do, and then, after wasting time unloading a bunch of unwanted crap, took off to get the straw while the farmer likely lamented the fact that UPS had yet to set up a Sodor branch. While heading out (again) for the straw, Thomas says “I must hurry” and that “there can be no delay.” Bad enough that Thomas took so long in the first place, but he then almost immediately stops to talk to one of his friends, for the sole purpose of telling him he can’t stop. Thomas eventually gets the straw and pulls up with it just in the nick of time.

After about the six thousandth time my son watched this episode, it occurred to me: the shipping situation on Sodor is more inefficient and corrupt than the Detroit City Council. In fact, it’s kind of hard to keep track of how many people got screwed over and all the ways they were totally jerked around in this fiasco. From the farmer’s point of view, all he wanted was some straw to make a bed for his piglets, and he was told he’d get it right away. But then Thomas pulls up—late—with a bunch of shit he doesn’t need or want, and all Thomas says is “well, I thought your piglets would like this stuff the same.” Imagine ordering a laptop from, say, Amazon with two-day shipping, and four days later, they show up with a calculator, some underwear, and a book on pilates, and say “oh, yeah, we ran out of room for your laptop, but we thought you’d like this other stuff just as much as a laptop.” Pop quiz: would you be really pissed off, or super pissed off?[4] Now imagine you’re the one who produces and sells the milk or the apples. You entrust the shipment of your product to the local shipping company, expecting them to deliver your precious products to your valued customers who have a valid, contractual expectation of getting the goods they paid for. Except you find out that the shipper has decided to hand out some of your product to someone else because the shipper’s employees thought that other person “would really like it.” You know who else would have really liked it? The person who fucking paid for it, that’s who! There are so many crimes and civil breaches here that even the most sadistic law professor would think twice before using this episode as a final exam question.

You might think that this was an isolated occurrence, but apparently learning from one’s mistakes is not something the tank engines of Sodor know how to do. Almost every episode features Thomas making some pigheaded or arrogant mistake (often because he refuses to listen) only to realize at the end what he should have done. In fact, another episode featured Thomas deviating from his one assigned task and stealing stuff from the people who foolishly shipped their products on the Sodor railway. Thomas, after being tasked with transporting the famed statute the “Lion of Sodor,” doesn’t realize that the crate has a statue in it, and instead thinks it’s a real lion. So he stops and steals some maple syrup and fish because he thinks the lion might be hungry, and some straw (which he had such a hard time delivering to the one person who actually asked for it) for the “lion” to lay on. He has all of this stuff dumped into the closed crate, and when he arrives at the delivery location, the crate is opened only to reveal the beloved statue all encased in a sticky fish-straw-syrup disaster. Quiz question two: how enraged would you be to, say, order a large screen TV only to open it up and find a hellish mixture of syrupy fish and straw smeared all over it?[5] Other episodes feature Thomas causing damage and destruction because of his desire to be a hero by creating problems and then solving them (kind of like Congress, but with slightly better ethics) and causing damage and confusion by spouting off a bunch of nonsensical orders after being put in temporary charge of a railway building without paying any attention to feedback from his staff or to the mayhem resulting from his mandates (also kind of like Congress).

Basically, Thomas is kind of a jackass. Now, you may wonder why I continue letting my two-year-old watch this sociopathic asshole and his band of mechanical idiots. Clearly, you do not have children. If you did, you wouldn’t have to ask, because you’d know that you’d be able to broker lasting peace in the Middle East before making a two-year-old Thomas fan give up watching that show. Instead, I’ll have to watch him very closely to make sure he’s not picking up bad habits from it (“Why didn’t you brush your teeth like I asked?” “Well, Dad, I thought you’d like me picking my nose, shitting my pants, and pulling the cats’ tails just as much as brushing my teeth …”). And, well, it could be worse: he could be hooked on American Idol.

 


[1] If you wonder how it is that I know so much about the plot of this show, it is proof that you are not a parent of small children. Small children will watch something they like approximately ten billion times, with at least two billion of those viewings being consecutive.
[2] Yes, Thomas’s friends, the “really useful engines,” frequently hand out cargo presumably belonging to other people on a whim. More on that later.
[3] At least this wasn’t a train engine deciding to hand over someone else’s cargo this time.
[4] Either answer is correct. Also acceptable is “I’d be fucking enraged.”
[5] The correct answer is “Extremely,” although credit will be given for “homicidally” or something similar.
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Welcome

To those of you who are new readers, welcome.  This is basically a spot for me to indulge my love of/pathological need to engage in writing.  What you’ll see here is basically any number of posts about anything that happens to interest me at the time.  Most of the time, it will be humorous (or an attempt at humor), so the “humor” tag/category will be reserved for those posts where it might not be obvious to some people that I’m just trying to be funny.  TV has close-captioning for the hearing impaired; I have the humor tag for the humor impaired.

To those who remember my old blog, and are wondering where those posts went, well, they’re all here.  I took the unusual step of going from managing my own WordPress install to moving to WordPress.com (most people do it the other direction).  I figure this way, they handle backups for me, they keep the software and plugins up to date, and I can spend more time just writing the damn thing.  When I moved, I moved all the old entries here, but I unpublished them.  From time to time, I may release some of the better ones again, once I get an idea for what’s good and what sucked, and so on.

I also figured that starting over might spur me into actually writing more often.  Clean slate, and all that.  I hope that ends up working.  And I hope you enjoy what’s written here.  I’d say it doesn’t matter, because I’m just writing for me, but if I were just writing for me, I’d hardly have to do it here where everyone could see it, would I?

Thanks for stopping by, and enjoy.

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