Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Annoying Group of People #2: Susan Linn and her supporters

Ho-ly crap. That was my basic response to reading the New York Times headline about refunds being offered to parents who bought Baby Einstein videos. Baby Einstein and its friends, as you may know, were acquired by Disney a while back. Disney will issue refunds for up to four DVDs per household for the videos which - gasp! - may not have been "educational." We'll talk about the lawsuit against deep pockets in a second, but first let's look at the complete and utter stupidity of one Susan Linn.

Susan Linn, you see, is the head of an organization that protests marketing to children. Fair enough. She is quoted in the NY Times article. She sees the refund as an admission that the baby videos are not educational. Of course what the refund really is, as the article goes on to point out, is a product guarantee and a way out of a threatened class-action lawsuit. I am super-proud of Disney for puting a stop to this nonsense before it got to court. I mean sure, it sucks to "have" to settle on somethng like that, because lunatics like Linn will say a lot of crap as they seek more and more publicity, and will say that Disney and Baby Einstein are "admitting" something, when in reality they're just picking the cheaper way to make her go away.

But wait! She said something even more stupid!

You see, when she instigated this nonsense, it was after complaining to the FTC about the word "educational" being used in the marketing of the videos. So, Disney and another company called Brainy Baby dropped "educational" from their marketing. But that wasn't good enough for her (as I'm sure she was frustrated thinking about those deep pockets into which she hadn't yet plunged her hands) so she went to some public health lawyers.

Like the public health lawyer that serves on the board of her organization? Maybe. Public health lawyers? Yeah, I'm sure there's no better issue to take up their time. Health insurance reform? Pollution? WTC 9/11 clean-up claims? H1N1? Nah.... So of course these lawyers threatened a class-action lawsuit -- against Disney! Money, money, money. Oh, but I'm sorry, this was all done on behalf of the children, right? We don't want to market to them, wasn't that the whole point? Although the only marketing I ever saw on a Baby Einstein video was "and we also have these other videos," but that's too logical for Susan Linn. No, she had this to say:

Before the refunds, "Disney was never held accountable and parents were never given any compensation," she said. Oh - right. Because she is all about the children, and yet, let's compensate those parents. Who were apparently dumb enough to think some video was magically going to transform their child into a genius? Ms Thang thinks Disney should be held "accountable" for that not happening. Accountable? Hello! Accountability is for misdeeds. We should be holding the Bush Administration and military accountable for torture. And for stealing Florida's election. We should be holding the media accountable for enthusiastically promoting the war in Iraq. We should be holding our senators accountable for handing over money to Goldman Sachs in a bailout. We do not hold a company "accountable" for selling you a video for your kid.

How dare she? Who does she think she is? Would she have threatened a class-action lawsuit against little ol' Julie Aigner-Clark if the company hadn't been sold to Disney? I doubt it!

And I don't care if there are parents who can't face up to their own addictions to television who bought a video only because they thought it was miraculous and different and it's all their kids ever needed to learn. That just means their kids have far bigger problems than a video that doesn't "work." And for the record? I was totally impressed that my nephew was able to discourse with me about Vincent Van Gogh and "Starry Night" at age three because he had watched the "Vincent Van Goat" character in Baby Van Gogh.

Shame on you, Susan Linn.

Read the truth behind Baby Einstein's refund action!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Annoying Group of People #1: Airline Passengers

Not that this hasn't been said before (by me), but people have way too much sense of entitlement when they fly. Whine about this, demand that, and oh by the way don't charge me more than $200. Continuous ugh. Recently, I read the following question to travel expert Tim Winship that seems to epitomize the selfish stupidity of those who fly:

"Dear Tim—I have a few miles in an American Airlines account that I would like to move into my United Airlines account. Is this possible?"

Now, Tim humors this person a great deal in his answer, along the wouldn't-it-be-nice lines, and he even explains a third-party-exchange possibility (in which you take a loss of miles). But I think he's way too nice as he "explains" why the passenger's wish would not be to the airlines' advantage. I wish he would have just said, "What kind of an idiot are you? Do you even understand the concept of a loyalty program? It's to keep you buying that brand. Your miles don't mean that you frequently fly, you monstrously stupid attempt at a human. Your miles mean that you frequently fly on the airline that gives them to you. While you're at it, why don't you take your Borders rewards card to Barnes & Noble and your Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf drink-punch card to Starbucks? I'm sure they won't mind."

God, I hate airline passengers. But for my pacifism, I would want to hit almost everyone who ever surrounds me on a plane. "You are being transported across the country in five hours!" I want to scream at them. "It would have taken previous generations five days, five weeks, or five months to traverse that distance. SHUT IT with the whining!"

I would also like to point out that the only thing the airlines do that really frosts my gizzard can be traced directly back to said passenger whining. I refer, of course, to the insane charges added these last couple years, particularly for checked bags. Not to mention soft drinks...but about those bags. As if we didn't already have enough trouble with carry-ons due to dumb-ass whiny passengers who have ZERO concept of using space efficiently in the overhead bins and, what's worse, will not get out their stupid bag from the bin while we all stand around doing nothing waiting to deplane, meaning they have zero concept of efficient use of time as well.

Of course, we already know they have no concept of time and space because they feel entitled to be in New York from L.A. five hours from now. Anyway, the reason the airlines of late invented all these retarded checked-bag charges that you can't really entirely avoid forever is that it cost them more money (fuel, oil, Bush lies, etc.) to transport the whiny passengers, but instead of, say, raising airfare $40 bucks per ticket on the average, they pretended to be charging for something else, and I can't really blame them, because I know all too well what the whiny passengers would say if their flights cost $40 more - which, hello, they cost more anyway, oh ye who are too dumb to realize this.

What the whiny passengers would do is whine and scream and bitch even more than they already do, and all the airlines had to do was shift the fee from one column to another to shut them up for a while, which I can see is kind of worth it. God, I really hate airline passengers. When I used to work for The Savvy Traveler, I answered listeners' questions. I read their e-mails and checked the show's voice-mail for listener inquiries that we'd want to put on the air with Rudy Maxa. When there were "189 new messages," I never felt overwhelmed by the selection, because undoubtedly a hundred of them were whining pleas, "Ruuuuuu-dy, how can I get a cheap airfare from ____ to ___?" How? You shop around, people. That's how. And, "Ruuuu-dy, is there any airfare cheaper than $200 from City X to City Y?" No! No there is not! At least, not for you, because it has already been snatched up by someone who was busy booking a ticket and comparison shopping while you were whining to Rudy's voice-mail to magically make flying cheaper for you. GO AWAY.

Remember that episode of Designing Women when Imogene visits Sugarbakers' and says all sorts of offensive things about AIDS and gays and drug addicts, and finishes with, "This disease has one thing going for it, it's killing all the right people!" and then Dixie Carter's Julia gets to make an awesome speech telling Imogene to go far far away and stop being a hypocrite? Well, let's just say this. Be glad that I am a pacifist and a Julia-type, and that I like pilots and flight attendants, or I might have made a super-offensive allusive joke here. That's all I'm saying.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Games and children

Go Dodgers! Best to get that out of the way at the beginning, lest you think I'm doing something insane like rooting for the Skankees or the Anaheim California Angels of Los Angeles Orange County. And if the Phillies beat the Dodgers? Then, sigh. Because it's still the World Series, so even if it's two teams that don't really do it for me, who cares? It's the World Series, people! I just love the baseball.

I have had lots of time this week to lie around watching baseball and runaway balloons that may or may not contain a Falcon, because I have been sick for six ugly days. I have chosen to blame this on the fact that I worked a couple days surrounded by small children last week as a substitute at a Montessori day care. I don't think you're actually supposed to call it "day care" in Montessori-world, but you know what I mean. The "Children's House," that's what they call it. I personally don't find the term "day care" offensive, but then, I don't find classrooms and desks and math books offensive either.

At any rate, small Montessori children cough like other children, and I have had the sorest of throats! I even went to a doctor here in the G Rap, who ruled out both strep throat and swine flu. I was very amused that the doctor and nurse rolled their eyes upon hearing the C-word ("Cigna"). Poor Cigna. Why do they suck so much? Why can't they just, you know, pay for things and provide reasonable answers when you call them and update their web site and ... oh, never mind. When are we turning socialist again? I keep waiting!

In other sporting news, you may know that tomorrow my Trojans head to South Bend to beat the Irish into smithereens. The longstanding USC-Notre Dame rivalry is one of the greatest in college sports, or at least that's what some announcer will say at some point tomorrow. I just like to see my victorious Trojans do their thang, and one thing Brian and I can agree on is rooting against Notre Dame. Tomorrow we shall do just that. The only shame is being so close to South Bend - but not having tickets to the game. You don't have two tickets lying around you meant to offer to me, do you?

Happy sixth birthday to my nephew!

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Easily amused, easily outraged

So I somehow find it amusing when, randomly, atop the e-mail inbox the first subject line (from a newspaper e-newsletter) says "Morning News: 4 arrested in illegal alien scheme" and the very next subject line right below (from a social networking site) is "4 people awaiting your response." It looks like some kind of cosmic sign or direction from the universe, instead of a coincidence.

Now, about the Oscars. For those of you who haven't been paying attention, the illustrious Academy has expanded the field this year, allowing ten nominees for the Best Picture Oscar instead of five. This is dumb for a lot of reasons, not the least of which are 1)it capitulates to money-grubbing studios who are grubbing money instead of making quality films and 2)everyone needs to just chill the f out for a second about The Dark Knight, which was not in fact the greatest film ever. However, I have just recently realized why it is not only a stupid move, but an outrageous one, and that is...

What about AMC Theatres' Best Picture Nominee showcase?!?!? AMC, the theater chain which I adore, has been annually showing all five best picture nominees in one whopping all-day marathon on Saturday the day before the Oscars. Which is a totally awesome thing for them to do and for you to attend. Especially those of you who, unlike me, have not long since seen the five best pic nominees when Oscars weekend rolls around. And now?! What? Will they still do it? Will they do it on Friday and Saturday, the two days before the Oscars? Will they do it for two Saturdays, including the previous week's? Will they do it the two days of the previous weekend? Or will they (gasp!) be unable to do it and fewer people able to attend it anyway because of the dumb Academy's dumb change in the number of dumb nominees?

Before, I was mad. Now, on behalf of AMC and all the cool people who went to the all-day nominees showcase, I am livid!!!

Monday, October 05, 2009

Did you hear Brett Favre plays his old team tonight?

Tonight's drinking game that I'm not playing is sure to have you wasted within minutes: Brett Favre! There he is, playing with Minnesota like the talented if a bit wishy-washy pile of awesome that he is, but tonight it is even more dramatic, as the Vikings take on the Green Bay Packers. His old team! The team he - left? betrayed? misses? should still be helping? Blah blah blah. Whatever your opinion is, tonight is your chance to go hog-wild, so I hope you are watching and taking a drink every time an announcer says "Brett Favre." In fact, if you started during the pre-game show, you may not have even been sober for the first drive. Don't forget to take a shot whenever they needlessly show Favre on the sideline. You know how during a football game there are always those shots of the coaches, the team, the Gatorade, and so forth in between plays? Tonight I think they had to bring an extra camera man to get the Brett Favre Reaction Shot to every random moment.

If you're too wasted to follow the football action after playing this for a while, you can always flip to Hoarders on A&E. This could be my new favorite show! It features people who keep too much junk in their homes. And I do not mean people like me, who keep a fair amount of stuff, or have too many books, or desperately need to go through a pile of old bills and other mail. These people can't see the floor in any room in their houses. They can't see the furniture in any room in their houses. Also, they sometimes keep things like pizza boxes. They can't throw ANYthing away. Furthermore, they don't WANT to throw anything away.

But even if you're not grotesquely fascinated by the actual hoarding or the dramatic shots of piles of junk on stairways, coffee tables, and in bathtubs, or by the stories of people who are threatened with eviction or have their children taken away because their homes are a mess, you might be fascinated, as I am, by the sheer human drama of it. It is really psychologically interesting. The offspring are usually there, too, and they are usually a combination of frustrated, resentful, and horrified by their parents' resistance to the professional help. That is what blows me away the most -- here they have a TV crew, the 1-800-Got-Junk trucks, and teams of people who will help them get rid of all the stuff, but they don't want the help because it's taking away a part of them. I wish someone wanted to clean out my closet for me! I would be stoked. On the show, everyone talks about their issues. Like, the hoarding is clearly about something more than stuff, in the same way anorexia is not about the food, and so on.

Hmmm...these people can't seem to let go of things, and are woefully indecisive, and are fraught with all kinds of esteem problems that seem to block what's really important to them. Do you think Brett Favre is a hoarder?