Tuesday, August 19, 2008

"Live Unbuttoned"?

I got home from work last night, and in typical fashion, I was too tired to immediately walk up the stairs to my room (and also, in my defense, I needed to take my shoes off before trekking around the house), so I sat on the couch and turned on the television to see if any Olympic events were on. After a bit, this new Levi 501 commercial came on. It was one I'd never seen before, although I have seen others from this same ad campaign. While I haven't ever been mortally offended by them or anything, I often don't think they're appropriate. Anyway, this new one...it's something of a different story. Here it is:

I didn't realize it was a Levi commercial until the very end, and when it started, I thought maybe it was one of those "Hey, get tested for HIV!" commercials. You know, the ones they used to play and put up billboards for and stuff. After he says, "I've been sleeping in my car," I'm thinking she's going to say, "I have HIV. Surprise!," or that after she says, "This isn't my apartment," he's going to say, "I have genital herpes, but don't worry, I'm on Valtrex and haven't had an outbreak, although it's still possible for me to spread the disease," (and then it's a, you know, Valtrex commercial like all those other pharmaceutical commercials, where the lay person who is taking the medication somehow works all the possible side effects/risk factors/reasons someone should not be taking the medication into the conversation, as if they'd really know all that). But no, they just continue on their merry way, busily taking each other's clothes off and eventually throwing their pants into a pile, where the caption pops up, "Levi: Live Unbuttoned."

Okay, so I usually don't let myself get that upset or irritated at commercials, cause I'm like, "Hey, it's a commercial, and it sucks, so I'm going to get back at the crappy director and company by never ever ever buying their crap again." Then I often buy their stuff anyway. Aside from finding the whole situation morally reprehensible, this commercial strikes me as blatantly irresponsible.* It's not enough that TV shows are inundated with random hook-ups. Apparently, we also need them in commercials. At least in most TV shows, the people know something about each other. But the whole point of this ad is that they've both been lying to each other about everything! The funny thing is, when I was looking for this ad on YouTube, I came across another one from this campaign where the (rather glowing) description of the ads gives brief summaries of each one. For this particular ad, it says, "The last TV ad, 'Secrets and Lies' -- features two characters confessing a series of white lies as they unbutton their Levi's® 501® jeans. Their unveilings, along with the physical unbuttoning of their jeans, captures the provoking theme of self-expression and unrestrained behavior central to the "Live Unbuttoned" campaign."** Oh yes, those little "white lies." No, I didn't eat the last piece of chocolate (when really you did). Of course I cleaned my room (by shoving everything in my closet and under the bed). Those are white lies. Saying you work somewhere you don't, or that you're from somewhere you're not, that you live somewhere you don't? Those aren't white lies. Maybe I'm wrong here, but I'm fairly certain that a white lie deviates only partially from a truth. My point is, is this the kind of thing we really want impressionable individuals to watch, whether they're children, teens, or adults? That it's okay to have sexual relationships with people we really know nothing about? If someone has no problem lying about their job or their past, what else do they have no problem lying about? I'm all for free expression, living the way you want to live, etc etc, but can we at least show some maturity?***

Maybe by "live unbuttoned," they mean get used to wearing those awesome button-less hospital gowns because you'll be paying a lot of visits to the doctor to be checked for STDs, as that one "white lie" your little hook-up didn't tell you about turned out to be the most important one.

* I know I really don't like this commercial because I'm still feeling unsettled about it some 18 hours after I saw it...
** http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ym_Z9tFv650
*** Some people may get after me or think to themselves, "Why are you freaking out about this? It's just a commercial. People aren't going to go have random sex because they saw this, so stop complaining." To them, I say that I don't believe that anyone would go on a wild fling because of one commercial. However, I do believe that everything we see and hear has some influence in shaping how we see and react to our surroundings. Like it or not, we are products of our environment. When we repeatedly see behavior such as is shown in this commercial, we become that much more likely to see that as a viable reaction to any similar situations we may be in. So no, I don't think this ad will make someone suddenly and inexplicably do something they would normally not do. But I do think that, if a similar situation to the one shown here were to arise, they would be less concerned about inherent dangers like diseases and therefore more likely to respond in a manner that would put their own emotional and physical well-being at risk.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Loonies at Lollie

What happens when you get 80,000 (often rather peculiar) people crammed together for several days in a relatively small park in high temperatures and high humidity? Hilarity. And many unpleasant odors. Also a clear demonstration that through science and technology, as well as social welfare, mankind has overcome evolution, and survival of the fittest is no longer in play. Ah, Darwinism...may you rest in peace. Anyway, I was up in Chicago a couple of weekends ago to go to the first day of Lollapalooza (which I almost always spell wrong, by the way). As you can imagine, with 80,000 people there, it was easy to pick out the different breeds of lollapaloozites. This is my brief accounting of a few of the more notable ones.

1. Crazy hippie-hemp-wearing-pot-smuggling-free-spirited-counterculturists. I know you've all seen them. They wear organic clothing and keep little baggies of pot rolled up in their tops, along with blown-glass pipes. They often have unshaven armpits/legs and deliciously sticky-looking hair. Yes, no soap, razors, or shampoo for them. They're one with nature. And you don't see the majestic beasts of mother earth using those. And honestly, who wouldn't want to be more like a malodorous, flea-ridden, sewage-eating rodent?

2. The I-was-alive-during-the-60s-and-70s-and-was-totally-awesome-and-
I'm-still-hip-enough-to-hang-it-with-the-teens-and-20 somethings group. A somewhat ostracized subset of the crazy hippie-hemp-wearing-pot-
smuggling-free-spirited-counterculturists. Primarily male, these shirtless, rotund older folk attempt to reconnect with their inner child by attending musical events targeted toward younger groups. They can usually be seen nodding to music created by singers who weren't even born by the time they tapped into their IRAs, their portly bodies vibrating in time with each thump of bass.

3. The frat boys who want to impress people by saying, in an off-handed way, "Yeah, I was at Lollapalooza last summer and (insert impressive fact/tale of stupidity)." Their tanned, bare torsos paired with plaid J. Crew style shorts are this group's most distinguishing feature. While they may also be recognized by their trademark beer-in-a-solo-cup, this characteristic can be misleading, as all alcoholic beverages at Lollapalooza are sold in this ubiquitous plastic cup.

4. Indie-listening, vintage clothes-wearing, mainstream-eschewing elitists. While many concert-goers drive or take public transport into the city, these individuals (although willing to utilize public transport) favor riding their fixed-gear, pannier-draped bicycles to the concert venue. They typically weave through street and sidewalk traffic with a frightening disregard for their own and other's safety, and avoid wearing helmets as these may upset their carefully styled, side-swept, artistically disheveled-looking hair. They often wear skinny jeans. This is not to say they are all skinny; rather, they have a remarkable ability to avoid the physical conundrums of density and volume, and can somehow (perhaps by increasing density and thereby decreasing volume) condense enough to fit in absurdly small skinny jeans. Additionally, they favor dark clothing and pallid skin. Because of this, they are often confused with those known as "emo." Like indie elitists, emo practitioners favor skinny jeans, side-swept black-dyed hair, and pallid skin. However, they are more likely to be wearing spikes and to sport numerous thin scars on the inside of their arms as a result of their extreme emotional trauma. The definitive method for distinguishing between an emo and an indie elitist is to ask if they prefer Panic! At the Disco or The Arcade Fire.

5. The oft-looked for, but rarely found, normal person. Unique by her lack of any characteristic that can be construed as "weird," "strange," or "inane," this exceptional red-headed individual can only be seen at Lollapalooza at an approximate rate of 1 in every 80,000. Articulate, clever, exceedingly intelligent, athletic, technically-savvy, and humble, she is a sought-after commodity in a sea of hippies, old men, frat boys, and indie elitists.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Sad musings on the inherent cruelty of a bike rider

Last night, Aaron and I decided to bike to our church activity, some 14 miles away. Unfortunately, Omaha has (I'm convinced) only ONE ~1 mile stretch of bike lane in the entire city (I am so not kidding. And it's not even really a bike lane. It's actually the gutter. They painted a white line next to it and put a picture of a bike on it, and then they left it full of storm debris, like leaves, twigs, and trees. It's actually only there so they can say they're a "bike-friendly" city. Right.). So anyway, due to the lack of anything resembling a bike lane, we had to bike quite a bit on some narrow streets on our way to trails and wider roads. As we were biking up a hill on Western, we apparently greatly inconvenienced a gentleman driving by himself in an enormous white truck (and I'll leave it to you to imagine exactly what he was compensating for), forcing him to drive slightly below the speed limit for the entirety of approximately ten seconds. It was terribly inconsiderate of us, I know, and he was happy to let us know as he drove past ("Use the f---ing sidewalk," he said, clearly demonstrating his superior creativity and grasp of the English language). It was fortuitous that he was able to pass, thereby saving himself several seconds of precious time before he had to come to a halt at the stop sign just ahead. As we biked up, he rolled down the window, gave us his best look of indignant stupidity, and, in yet another feat of superb articulation, said "Seriously? Are you kidding me?" Feeling deeply sorry for the emotional pain we had inflicted on him, I said in a mollifying voice, "We're legally required to ride on the road." In his extreme agony, he was able only to reply, "I don't f---ing care about legal," adding, much as a threatened little bully might say on the playground to the frail menace of the scrawny child in glasses, "Next time I'm going to f---ing hit you." Unable to look any more upon the faces of his tormentors, he fled from our presence. At this point, a tiny tear escaped my eye as I sorrowfully beheld his broken spirit; broken, no doubt, because of the immense suffering he bore as he drove along behind us, going a mere 20 miles per hour in a 25 miles per hour zone for ten seconds/an eternity, thereby costing him a total distance of .01388889 miles. Maybe my tear was actually caused by the cloud of noxious gas his truck spewed out at us as he drove away, but it still reflected the agony of my soul for the permanent damage I'm sure he suffered in his traumatic ordeal.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

eMusic Plottings

I have a confession to make. I have taken eMusic's 50 free song downloads introductory deal and shamelessly manipulated it to get more than 50 free downloads. Yes, it's true. See, the deal is, if you sign up, using your email address and your credit card, for a new subscription (I always get the basic plan, which is just around 10 bucks for 30 downloads/month), you get an extra fifty downloads your first month. So the clever scheme I came up with was to use my many email addresses and many credit/debit cards to sign up for new subscriptions and get more free downloads! Work email, gmail, hotmail, BoA credit card, AFCU debit card, MCU debit card, you name it, I used it. HA! I totally beat the system*. And now, they're offering me an extra fifty free downloads to come back to eMusic on my gmail account, which means I'm going to re-join and then cancel after a month! It's so diabolically evil**, and I love it. In fact, as I write this, I have my hands steepled in front of me (which is tricky, since I'm also typing...) and I'm muttering "Excellennnnttttt..." at my brilliant conniving.

* I really didn't beat the system, because I always forget to cancel the stupid subscription and end up being on the plan for at least half a year. Then I finally do remember, but haven't yet used up all the downloads for the month, so I decide to wait until I've used them. Then I forget again, and the process repeats itself. In fact, I'm almost positive that I'll re-join and forget to cancel after the first month, thus rendering my fantastic scheme useless.

** Please note that this is an exaggeration (which, as my illustrious sister Nicole once said in her blog, "is funnier than hell"). I don't really think it's diabolically evil. I mean, it's not as if I'm plotting to take over the world by stealing babies and raising them to be my own private super army augmented by genetic modifications that I'm developing in my top secret underground research facility guarded by laser-guided turrets and bear traps or anything. Wait, that's brilliant. Why didn't I think of this before? Does anyone have any surplus babies or know of anyone with surplus babies? And also nannies? Because there's no way in hell that I could raise an army of babies by myself. If you do know of surplus babies or nannies, just let me know their schedules, addresses, and possible escape routes, and I'll take care of the rest.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

A brief taste of freedom for the Foo

At the beginning of May, I vacated my old two bedroom apartment with a secured entry as I ventured out into the world of the duplex, that magical place that's not quite an apartment and not quite a house. The beauty of my old place with its secured entry was that if the Foo did manage to make a break for it and escape our modest little place, she found herself trapped in a dingy hallway and was easily corralled and routed back to her captivity. Sadly, the duplex has no such entry, and the Foo was quick to capitalize on this mistake on the architect's part. This is an account of Tofu (who, if you don't know and have been wondering about, is my cat. It's not like I'm one of those creepy people who steal kids and then keep them locked up for years or anything, don't worry) and her brief taste of freedom.

This is how I imagine it went. The Foo, being the brilliant and devious tactician that she is, upon our arrival at the new apartment, immediately took note of all the exits, filing away their weaknesses in the case that an opportunity arose. She carefully noted that the storm door doesn't actually latch closed, and with only a slight push, can be opened. She gleefully saw that the screen on the window of the storm door is only connected on the top and one side, leaving the bottom left corner to flap open. She noticed that there isn't room to stand between the closed main door and the storm door, so by necessity there is a window of time in which both doors are invitingly open. She therefore made three assessments: A. perhaps during those days when her captor leaves the main door open with the storm door shut to enjoy the day, she could push it open, B. if the door proves itself too heavy to open, she may be able to use her cat-like (because she is, in fact, a cat) agility to soar through the flapping screen that separates her from joyously frolicking in the foliage, and C. if all else fails, she could take advantage of her captors often distracted thoughts and creep stealthily past her as she or a friend exits the apartment.

She sadly found that the door is indeed too heavy, and that she herself is too heavy to soar through the screen door, the fatty, and so she was forced to resort to Plan C. So she waited, patiently biding her time, for the perfect opportunity. And there it was, pulsating with a warm, orange glow, choirs of angels singing, bidding her to make her move: both doors open, distracted people chatting. Her little heart fluttering with a mix of anticipation and fright, she sneaked by, making her way into the dark night. What followed was a glut of rolling in dirt, hunting insects, and exploring the wonders of the neighborhood. Night became day, and finally, around seven in the morning, a great hue and cry was heard when the jailer discovered that there was an escapee. The Foo hid under porches, behind bushes, beneath cars, avoiding detection by the search party who circled the area throughout the day, asking passerby if they'd seen the runaway. Finally, late in the afternoon, driven by hunger and thirst, Foo resigned herself to captivity, if only for food and water, but ever watchful for the next lax moment when she could escape.

Seriously though, I called my mom sobbing early Friday morning, literally taking ten years off her life, convinced that I would never see Foo again and that she was probably dead somewhere. I called in sick to work, spent hours walking/biking through my neighborhood, asked everyone I saw if they'd seen her, posted on craigslist.com's pet section, and spent a whole lot of time crying. It was ridiculous. And then at 4 o'clock, she just walks right up like nothing has even happened. That little shit. And then she did it again. That little shit. No gratitude, that's what. You feed them, pet them, clean up their litterboxes, and what do they do for you? They run away and leave you in tears. Those little shits. I'll tell you what, it's not happening again. No cats are going to sneak by me again. Eagle-eye. That's what they're gonna call me in their little cat-circles. Only they'll whisper it, cause they'll all be in fear of me. FEAR ME! That's right. I hope you're reading this, Foo. If you are, you just remember this. Remember that my wrath is great and my punishment is swift. And don't even THINK about escaping again. Cause I'll find you.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

My new bike's replacement

After the bicycle-scapades (see previous post), I have decided to replace my bicycle with a less-expensive*, more environmentally-friendly** mode of transportation: the catbus. Many may have already seen this vehicle, which was posted on craigslist, as I have waged an extensive fund-raising campaign in an attempt to acquire the moneys necessary to purchase it. I will be honest and admit, this post is part of that extensive fund-raising campaign. You will find, below, an image of the catbus and the accompanying description.


(original url: http://www.craigslist.org/about/best/alb/621862265.html)

As you can see, the catbus, with its low mileage and silky fur, is relatively inexpensive, ringing in at just $2900. Therefore, even the smallest donations will be helpful and appreciated. If you or someone you know would like to contribute to the Catbus4Cassi fund, please email me at c4c@gmail.com with your credit card number, expiration date, and the amount you'd like to contribute***. All donations are tax-deductible.

*Projected four year cost for bicycle (factoring in one inner tube plus labor per day): 15486.6 (10.60/inner tube change x 365 days/year x 4 years +1 day for leap year) + 479.95 (original cost of bicycle) + 42.31 (helmet) + 28.76 (locks) + 21.20 (cyclocomputer) + 3.42 (pink plastic tassels for handlebars) = 16062.24 dollars
**I am certain that this vehicle should get at least 8/mpg city, 10/mpg freeway due to its aerodynamic fur which drastically decreases**** air resistance by greatly increasing the surface area and thus the amount of friction as determined by the equation Fd= -1/2pv^2ACdv
***Really, don't email me your credit card information. The Catbus4Cassi fund is completely fictional. c4c@gmail.com is an email address that is unaffiliated with the fictional Catbus4Cassi fund. Donations are not tax-deductible, because the Catbus4Cassi fund does not exist. If you would still like to just give me money, perhaps out of admiration for my mad blog skillz, or out of pity for my bicycle-scapades, I am more than happy to accept and if you will only let me know, I will send you information on how to deliver said money. Thank you.
****I realize that this is completely untrue.


Yes, after a long hiatus, and many heart-felt pleas by my many fans to revisit my exceptional blog, I am, indeed, sitting at my computer to compose yet another of my fabulous blog posts. As you may have guessed by the title of this post (which is, as you can see, a clever play on the fact that "bicycle" ends with "e" while "escapades" begins with an "e"), I will now detail my late adventures with the bicycle I recently acquired.

When my sister Nicole purchased an inordinately (for me, anyway) expensive bicycle back in March for her birthday (see Nik's ridiculously expensive bike post), and in the spirit of our usual sibling rivalry whereby she is always in competition with my vastly superior intellect, prodigious wit, and all-around stupendousness, I decided that I, too, must purchase a relatively expensive bicycle. Well, actually, I was only going to buy a cheap-o one but she kept badgering me to buy a better one. Finally, I gave in when I found out I was going to get some extra money on my paycheck for April, and thought, Why not? Why not take this money that I could use to pay off one of my credit cards or put in savings in case someday I suffer some catastrophe and lose an eye or my pointer finger and thus can no longer pipette things at work, leading to the loss of my job, or worse, lose the ability to left click on my mouse, resulting in the loss of my ability to play first person shooter games, and spend it on a bicycle which will somehow save me money on gas if I ride it for 30 miles a week every week for the next four years? Clearly, it was a hands-down decision in favor of the bicycle.

So as I was driving back to Utah, after spending several hours researching bikes on the internet, thus becoming an expert on quality and value in those two-wheeled locomotive units, I decided to purchase a low-end brand name bike, if I could get a good price, or a bike from bikesdirect.com, which, while not name brand, consist of the same components as the name brand bikes but for much cheaper. We happened to stop for the night in Cheyenne, after a tortuous and mind-numbing drive through Wyoming, and while there, visited the Sierra Trading Post outlet store. Anyway, cutting it short cause this is getting way too long, I bought a K2 2006 Mach 2.0 bike (below) there for about 50% off, along with free shipping here to Omaha. I spent a lot of time congratulating myself on my purchase while waiting for it come, which it did, last Monday.

Unfortunately for me, it shipped only partially assembled, and I had to put it together myself. Rather than take it to a bike shop and pay 45 dollars for them to do it, I decided to use my vast knowledge of bicycles (which sadly, does NOT extend to mechanical manipulations) to put it together myself. The result: several hours of finger pinching, cursing, and name-calling. Plus one assembled bike. At this point, I'd like to thank Brielyn's (one of my new roomies, more on the move to come in a later post) massive, clunky mountain bike for providing a template of how the gear shift assemblage should look on my sleek, aerodynamic road bike.

After spending an increasingly worrisome amount of money on accessories for the bike--you know, locks, helmets, cyclocomputers, little pink plastic tassels to dangle from my handlebars--I put the bike to good use, riding it to work and around town on errands. Then, on Thursday, I got off work and rode the bike up the 35% incline, three block long hill to the Red Cross to donate blood (incidentally, I swear my 84 pulse was because of that hill, not any lack of in-shapeness on my part). After donating, I got back on my bike and started riding home, only to find that the back tire was most definitely flat. So I walked it to the bike shop that's just about a mile from my house, decided to buy both a $2 patch kit and a $5 inner tube, and also decided that it was worth it to save the whole $5 in labor and use my previously-mentioned bike mechanic skills and non-existent bike tools to patch/change the tube myself. After oh, maybe an hour, I had, through the successful wielding of two butter knives, removed the flat inner tube and patched it. Then, once more wielding my trademark butter knives, I reassembled the tire with the tube. Then I pumped it up. And listened as the air went whooshing right back out the new (and apparently massive) hole I'd made when I put it back in. Ah, the pangs of failure! I think at this point I threw something, but that might have been later.

I took it in the next morning, paid the 5 bucks, and had them fix it. After riding it around that day for maybe nine miles, I got home to find that it was once again flat. At this point I did throw something. My helmet. And my backpack, too, I think. Then I took it to the shop again. So, my vision of riding my bike to work and around every day, saving money on gas and getting more exercise, has changed to an eternal damnation of going to the shop every freaking day to have a flat repaired. So, borrowing from Nik's bike post, when the nuclear holocaust has hit, and the shit is coming down, and she's gliding along on all her bikes (literally, on all of them; you know, kind of like in those movies where one person is riding two horses with one foot in each stirrup--she'll just have one foot on each pedal), I'll be walking my damn bike with its flat tire.