Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Internet Thinks You're Wrong, Ladies

(Image stolen brazenly from Jezebel)

It’s rare that I get a chance to be an actual expert on anything instead of just bluffing my way through a series of irrational points (see also: my basketball talk). But when something like this comes up…well, I just rub my palms together and thank the Lord above for lists like these that get forwarded faster than the dialog parts of Showgirls.

I am 29 years old. And here’s a list called “30 Things that Every Woman Should Quit Doing by 30” so this is meant for me, right? This is going to be a treasure trove of insight and should act as some sort of maturity litmus test for my life, correct? Not a list of grievances complied by someone who walks around with an internal Seinfeld-esque monologue of unused “What’s the deal with…?” bits.

Let me say that I actually agree with roughly 65-70 percent of the blurbs on this list. But just the fact that the list even exists smacks of smugness and judgeyness that just doesn’t sit right with me. Let’s take a stroll down “Random List Tells People What They’re Doing Wrong” lane, shall we?

1. Buying clothes from the junior section – Fair enough. Unlike Hall and Oates, I can go for that. Mostly because everything in the junior section looks laughable and costume-y on me.

2. Forgetting her parents’ birthdays.-
Is that a hallmark of the 20-something set? I guess it is supposed to indicate that you are self-absorbed but most people I know were capable of being a total fuck up and yet still remembering the date of birth of the people who spawned them. Maybe I travel in some highly advanced circle.

3. Making out with her BFFs at bars for attention.-
Sign and co-sign on this one.

4. Making out with her boyfriend at bars for attention.- Sign and co-sign on this one.

5. Filling her bed with stuffed animals (really, even one is too many). – Sign and co-sign on this one.

6. Carrying a torch for anyone she hasn’t seen in the last five years.-
Pretty solid advice unless that person is your birth parents or something.

7. Rebelling against her parents for the sake of rebelling against her parents. – Rebelling against your parents re: dying your hair crazy colors and getting tattoos? Yes. Rebelling against your parents by not going to work for them at the family meth factory in the guest bathroom? Solid decision making.

8. Declaring an entire gender “all jerks.” – I’m convinced that the woman who wrote this is actually a man whose two main sources were watching Dawson’s Creek and staring at a lifelike mold of a vagina.

9. Holding a grudge against anyone who wronged her in high school. –
Girl who was mean to you and teased you? Let that shit go. Person who shot you in a drive-by? Probably ok to hold onto a little resentment. But the bigger point here should have been “LET HIGH SCHOOL GO!”

10. Skipping regular gyno exams. – Again, I would love to know who the fuck this woman is that wrote this. Because I have never heard of this stereotype before. Ever. And let’s not even begin to address the thought that someone might have to “skip” a regular gyno exam because they don’t have health insurance.

11. Going to bed without washing and moisturizing her face. –
Probably a pretty fair rule but one that should always have certain loopholes.

12. Being “that person” who had a bit too much to drink at the office party. – Is this only at the office party? If you’re trying to say “stop being the embarrassing, emotional drunk girl” then maybe you should just say that. I can agree with that. By the way, at my office party last year, everyone was “that girl”. Especially the middle-aged guys.

13. Crushing on Justin Bieber. – Signed and co-signed in permanent marker. Cut that shit out.

14. Thinking she’s got it all figured out. – Who, when approaching 30, thinks they’ve got their shit figured out?

HALFTIME! So far, not too bad, right? Some decent advice interspersed with some weird mythological stereotypes I can only guess were cut and pasted from to pad the list out. Oh but it starts to go downhill…

15. Calling her father “daddy.” – Or here’s a better rule: don’t try to make people feel like shit for calling their relatives by the names that they have called them all their lives. But maybe you are right. “Daddy” is a relic of a time when you were a kid and you loved your parents. But now they’re just two people whose birthdays you cannot forget, lest you find yourself not in compliance with another rule on this list. To make everything easier, maybe just call them each by the last four digits of their Social Security Number from now on. Guess what, Shitty List? I’ll call my one remaining grandparent “Gran Gran” until one of us draws our final breath and you can pick which body part of mine you would prefer kissing if you suggest otherwise.

16. Engaging in sibling rivalry. –
I’m an only child but this sounds like a pretty solid rule.

17. Trying to get by on her looks. –
Right. Because that’s what every 20-something woman is accustomed to doing. None of them have ever had to work to get where they are now. Just showed a little perky cleavage. Well, this list wants you go grow up, ladies! No one thinks you’re hot anymore so you might as well put a bag over that old-ass head of yours and actually try for the first time in your life. God.

18. Living paycheck to paycheck. –
This list needs to die in a fire. Because to be so alternately stupid and judgmental as to believe that people just choose to live that way is like telling a cancer patient to “just get better already!” No one wants to live paycheck to paycheck. But guess what, List-hole? There was a little thing called a recession where lots of people lost their jobs, took pay cuts or had to dip into their savings. Right now, I can name half a dozen friends who would be thrilled to be living paycheck to paycheck because it would mean that they actually have a job. But kick them while they’re down, right?

19. Expecting a man/knight in shining armor to swoop in and save her. – Signed and co-signed. But this should also be included in “Two Things Two Year Old Toddlers Should Know”.

20. Aimlessly jumping from job to job. –
Again, die. If you’re saying to hold onto a job if you’ve got one, I can agree with you. If you’re saying that someone should not take just about any job that is offered them (nudity being the debatable exception) that will pay their bills, you’re an elitist asshole of a list? This list has a trust fund, apparently.

21. Using MySpace to pick up guys. – No worries there. None of my 29 year old girlfriends are also an emo band looking for someone to help them book a tour of the East Coast this summer so Myspace isn’t really in our lexicon. So this list is independently wealthy, judgmental AND out of touch? Awesome.

22. Expecting a man to do all the wooing. – Fair enough. Everyone can woo all over each other until someone needs a towel. This seems like more list padding.

23. Wishing she had someone else’s life. –
I’m pretty sure that anyone of any gender or any age would probably like to trade places with Bill Gates. Do they sit around gluing pictures of Bill Gates head on their bodies? Nope. Do they expend too much time on this thought? Nope. Do they wish that they had a life of unlimited wealth and independence where charity work is the main focus of their day? Yes, they probably do. And that’s human.

24. Expecting everyone to drop everything because it’s her birthday ... – Probably pretty sound. I’m in the waning years of birthday celebrating. Not because this list has convinced me that I’m old, silly and useless. But mostly because I get stuck with a bar tab at the end of the night somehow even on my birthday.

25. ... or because her “boyfriend” of two weeks dumped her. – Again, this list brought to you by the three hours of prime time CW programming the author watched before realizing she/he/it had a deadline and banged out this trail of “ate some old chili” loose bowels of a list.

26. Measuring her self-worth by a number on the scale. – Why aren’t you dead yet, list? Measuring self-worth by a number on a scale is bad. We can agree there. But surely this list, with all of its expendable income to spend on magazines or watching TV, has seen that women of any and all ages are inundated with ads telling them they could (or should) be thinner, less wrinkled, more firm and cellulite-free? But stop paying attention to billions in marketing and advertising, silly bitches! Oh but don’t forget to wash and moisturize every night. Otherwise you’ll be ugly and can’t rely on your looks anymore. Oh wait. Fuck. I’m trapped in your kid’s menu maze’s dead end of logic, Demon List.

27. Being cheap. –
So now that we’re like an early 90’s Super Mario Brother walking in place against a brick wall down in a sewer, let’s address this rule. So if I’m going to follow this list as my own personal code of conduct from now on, and I hope I am getting this right, I must not live paycheck to paycheck, not change jobs and also not be “cheap” about things. So I should spend money extravagantly on things which could be purchased for less? And that’s how I prove how grown up I am? Not, say, save that money and put it aside to have some savings so I won’t live paycheck to paycheck? Or maybe even go on a nice vacation? I guess this means that I have to spend a lot on that face wash and moisturizer too? But I’m not supposed to focus on looks and appearance anymore! Circuits overheating. Logic doesn’t compute. Need to call 5034 (formerly known as “Daddy”) for advice. Help.

28. Quitting a job without having a new one lined up first (especially in this economy!) – This is sound advice. And it’s good to see that the Getty heiress who wrote is has, by tip #28, acknowledged that the economy is not exactly rosy right now. Still, don’t be cheap or live paycheck to paycheck. Remember that, you underemployed whores.

29. Blaming her mother for all her issues. –
Or how about not blaming anyone for your issues? Wouldn’t that be a sounder piece of advice? No, that would be too broad and not offensive enough. We really want to jab these women good. So yeah, let’s throw that one in.

30. Romanticizing her 20s. – I’m romanticizing the part of my 20’s where I didn’t know this list existed. Back when I thought people were capable of living and let live. Before I knew that the internet has been kind enough to bring people lists of why they suck in the veiled form of self-improvement.

Footnote: I actually can’t wait to turn 30 this year. I can’t wait to leave my generally kinda shitty twenties behind in my dust. If for no other reason than to add my own personal addition to this list –

31. Don’t let lists on the internet written by people you don't know tell you that you’re living your life wrong. Live your life for yourself and don’t let the bastards get you down.

Now enjoy "The Ballad of Lucy Jordan" (written by Shel Silverstein) about how you should go throw yourself off a roof. Or appreciate the irony of the lyrics in conjunction with this list.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

THIS F'ing Guy...

(BP CEO Tony Hayward pictured blissfully unaware that Mr. Burns is not the protagonist of The Simpsons)

It feels kind of silly for me, the blogger who started blogging to talk about how awesome Keith Van Horn is, to even consider writing something about the Deepwater Horizon/BP Gulf disaster. But I think like everyone with a pulse and eyeballs (apologies to anyone who is just as angry as me but eyeball-less), I just can’t contain my rage any longer. I’ve found America’s rage to be so far flung that it almost seems like everyone has a particular aspect of the disaster that infuriates them worse than others and to which they can cling.

During the first few weeks after the explosion, I watched with curious detachment as I saw a lot of people on the internet disclose themselves to be amateur underwater drilling engineering experts. I don’t mean for that to sound dismissive and we all have our individual ways to express frustration but the number of people who were so angry that no one was listening to their OBVIOUS logic about what fixes blown blowout preventer valves seemed extraordinarily high. I felt safe in the fact that, if the oil companies and government were resorting to shooting bulk trash at the crippled well to stop it up like my grandfather trying to rig car hoses with garbage twisty ties, the solution was probably not going to come from the viewer feedback comment board.

But I did find my particular shady crevasse of this whole disaster which immediately got me up in arms. It’s very clear that this BP disaster will be studied for years to come. Sure, I mean geologically and environmentally and all of that. But I think that anyone studying public relations will most certainly hear ghost stories 50 years from now of the Bloody BP Public Relations Response Disaster of 2010. Communications and Marketing majors will circle around a campfire late at night with flashlights pressed up against their chins, trading tales of the horrific, extended and messy corporate image suicide of BP’s CEO Tony Hayward. If we could Delorean ourselves back 51 days ago, I would like to offer the following tips to BP:

1. Don’t try to circumnavigate or outright defy offshore oil drilling safety measures and just cowboy your asses off and see what happens. The answer is: lots of profits then big boom then lots of bad stuff.

2. If this does happen and there is a disaster, realize that this disaster will be in the Gulf Coast area of the United States. That’s the South. I’m from the South. They like oil and gas and driving big trucks a lot. So you’re good there.

3. But here’s the catch. Your company is called British Petroleum. So the minute that anything goes wrong, you should by all means, hide your pasty-faced, Eton-educated crumpet muncher of the CEO and find the highest up good ‘ol American boy you have in your company. HE will be the spokesman for your company. I repeat: DO NOT let the limey go anywhere near a microphone. Call it xenophobia if you want. It’s just better off this way.

4. Ok, BP you seem to have ignored all my suggestions up to this point. Fine. You’re going to let the least relatable human on the planet speak to struggling fisherman on the coast who are just starting to recover from Hurricane Katrina? Your funeral. But seriously, you’ve got Hugh Fucking Grant up there stammering and darting his eyes from side to side while an entire country is sharpening their pick axes and lighting their torches. You, BP, must have hired your entire public relations department from Opposite’s Day University.

5. Seriously, BP. You've pissed off a bunch of blue collar Southern fisherman. The last guy you need trying to relate to them is Hayward. He might as well start out the press conference by making out with his mid-gender-reassignment transsexual lover then killing a bald eagle with a crossbow, burning a copy of the Declaration of Independence and pissing on Joe DiMaggio's grave all before he approaches the podium.

6. Alright, so Hayward is out there. Let’s try to make him human. I mean he’s already said that the ocean is big and this really isn’t a big deal and all you dumb Americans are just freaking out over nothing. Yeah, he’s still talking. BP, seriously, cut off his mic like you cut off a drunk relative at a wake. Wait, here he goes again. He’s going to try to say something relatable and humble and contrite and….

On a Today Show appearance on May 30, Hayward remarked, “I would like my life back."

Let me take a moment to break from this blog entry’s previous tone of polite discourse and humorous observations to offer up the biggest, wettest, slimiest, keep-you-up-at-night-and-haunt-your-motherfucking-dreams FUCK YOU HARD AWARD to Tony Hayward. You want your life back? When you clean every goddamned oil-covered bird with the same mouth that uttered such a self-absorbed sentence as that, I’ll think about letting you get supervised weekend visitations with your life. Until then, you and your previous life will have sporadic contact via Skype. Get used to it, ass.

As jokey as I can be about some of this stuff, I want people to get mad and stay mad about this. Whether or not it is just words, I’m happy that Obama seems to not be letting BP off the hook that easily. Besides having to play the role of Captain Obvious and stating that Hayward should have lost his job weeks ago, Obama now is “looking for whose ass to kick” on this issue. No, I don’t get off on the fact that he said a naughty word. I just get the feeling that (erhm, cough cough) previous administrations or presidents would not be as enthusiastic about making sure someone in the oil industry gets in trouble for this.

Of course, then there’s the issue of what we all can do. I want to drive down and clean up every hurt animal. I want to go make signs with fishermen and scream into bullhorns. But I can’t. There aren’t really BP stations in my area and even if there were, that just hurts the small business owner of that location and not the BP that is supplying oil to many stations that don’t have BP’s logo outside. I’m not a huge driver anyways. I live within 5 or 6 miles of my work. I don’t take a lot of big driving road trips.

But if this doesn’t convince even the most ardent of petroleum advocates that alternate fuel sources need to be developed NOW, I don’t know what will. When it’s Ed Begley, Jr. touring the country in his Prius and telling Bubba that he should really consider cutting down his fuel consumption, I can see why it doesn’t have much of an effect. Maybe seeing people that look like Bubba losing their family fishing businesses because the guy from Notting Hill thinks that “the Gulf is very big and the environmental impact of this disaster is likely to be very, very modest” will finally start to get the message through. I hope so.

Then again, maybe this whole thing isn’t that big of a deal. According to BP rep Randy Prescott, “Louisiana isn’t the only place that has shrimp.”

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

I've Made My Leap into the Wide World of Podcasting!

If you click on these magically illuminated words, you can listen to the "It's Just Banter" podcast with TC and Jake. I was on it yesterday. It was fun and outdoorsy. That gaping space of silence at the end where I forget the URL for this blog? That's why they pay me the big bucks. Good times. And please don't actually go do a search for Amanda Cobra on Pornhub. Thanks to TC and Jake for having me over. They still have half of my turkey wrap sandwich. Treat it with respect, boys.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Award for Most Pointless Grass Roots Protest Goes To....

Quit Facebook Day. In case you didn’t know, and you probably didn’t because the brain trust that came up with this idea apparently don’t own calendars, yesterday was Quit Facebook Day. Here’s a hint, guys. When you’re trying to kick start some sort of viral movement to theoretically get the largest possible group of people you can to quit using a social network, maybe don’t pick a holiday where none of them are at work or anywhere near a computer as your launch day. If you were pushing Drunk Boogie Boarding Awareness Day, maybe. But really, yesterday? Really, really poor planning on your part.

But clearly this is only the start of why Quit Facebook Day is so full of fail. The founders say that it is all to raise awareness of Facebook’s repeated invasion of user's privacy and what they claim are shady privacy setting policy changes that they Trojan horse like Senators who pass weird bills late at night when no one is watching the CSPAN feed. I don’t disagree with any of this. I’m sure there’s some people on the bandwagon who are also Henry David Thoreau-ing their pants about people developing addictions to Facebook and want to bring us all back to simpler, make-your-own-butter times.

Let’s tackle that one first. Now, you’ll find no one who hates Farmville and Mafia Wars more than this girl. But everyone’s allowed to have their Words with Friends, DigiPets, Fantasy Football leagues or whatever it is that keeps them from snapping and mowing down their coworkers on hot August days. However, if you are smugly telling me that I should in any way feel shame or guilt about relying on Facebook in some way, suck it. I do rely on Facebook. Heavily. I’ll explain.

When you’re in your teens and early 20’s, you’ve got your gang. You’ll always be a gang. You have your crazy fun times. You go to bars and concerts and you wake up in bushes. And then one friend gets a kickass job in a far off city. And then another friend gets accepted into grad school in another far off city. And then yet another friend meets and marries a boy from another country entirely. You understand how this works. Then you start throwing in the natural human process of baby making. Frankly, it’s hard to imagine what it was like before Facebook. Why should I apologize for using a website that I can log into and see pictures of my best friend’s baby now that she lives in London? Where’s the shame in checking the site to find out that a friend I haven’t seen in a year is going to be in town over the weekend and wants to go have drinks? I fail to see why I should be at all apologetic about the fact that the site serves as an internet-based social organizer of sorts for me.

But that’s not the big issue here, according to the organizers of National Quit Facebook Day if You Actually Had to Work on The Holiday Weekend. The issue is privacy and Facebook dicking over their users and selling their information and the fact that users’ data is not actually theirs. And to that, the most astute point I feel I really must make here is: uh, duh. Facebook’s CEO seems as slimy as Dov Charney oil wrestling Terry Richardson (Jesus forgive me for what I just typed) but that’s really not the point to me. Some people are mad about the fact that when you go to a website like Blockbuster or CNN, the articles or pages you view or any information gathered from your visit to that site can be connected with your profile information and sold to advertisers. Supposedly, you can go into your Facebook account and change your security settings to prevent this.

I haven’t which means that, were I to be worked up like these people, some big ol’ scary corporation out there now knows (based on my internet article reading today) that I am interested in CNN articles about men wearing Spanx for “back support”. They can now cross-reference that with the fact that my religious views are that I “worship Diet Dr. Pepper” and I enjoy the films of Robert Mitchum. I look forward seeing what spam offers come out the other end when you feed that into the machine.

There’s one hard and fast (pause to allow our less mature readers a brief giggle) rule here. NASA is working on cooking me up a font big enough to express what I am about to say with as much passion as I feel about the matter, but for now this will have to do:


It really is that simple. Yes, the fact that data mining leads to all kind of “helpful suggestions” on the sides of pages that are a) anything but helpful and b) usually a little creepy is kind of annoying. I chalk that up as being a price that I have to pay to use a social networking tool that is free of charge to keep up with my friends. As far as my pictures and information not being mine, I’m okay with the fact that Facebook now owns over 40 pictures of my friends and I sitting on patios of bars or pictures I have taken with my Blackberry of weird looking dogs or funny typos on signs. If you’re putting copyrightable pictures or writings up on Facebook, you are a moron. If you’re uploading pictures of your friends peeing on you while you’re passed out, just do so with the mental image of every potential boss flipping your resume over at the start of every job interview you ever go to and seeing that picture before the first question is asked.

So I ended up celebrating Quit Facebook Day by meeting up with my friend Kelli, who moved to San Francisco last year and whom I keep in touch with primarily through Facebook, and we drank margaritas at Gloria’s. It was fun. Feel free to sell any and all of that information to Eli Lily, Philip Morris, Time Warner or whoever makes Bumpits.

As a side note: Hey Facebook – I just wanted you to know that my real name is not Amanda Cobra and my religious views are not actually based around carbonated beverages. So in a weird way, I kind of feel like I double-crossed you. Sucker.