Category Archives: rants

We are the Government

This post is fairly ranty and not just because spellcheck keeps telling me that “ranty” isn’t a real word.  It is a real word and I’m proving it right now, spellcheck.  Question me again and I’ll explain why “stabby” is also a real word.

If you don’t live in America you can skip this post.  If you do, then you’re probably with me when I say that if I could have one minute to have a sensible heart-to-heart with our government I would take a deep breath and smile supportively and then say, “GET YOUR SHIT TOGETHER, YOU ASSHOLES.  YOU’RE RUINING IT FOR EVERYONE.”

This is not a partisan post and I live in a politically mixed marriage so I have the ability to see both sides.  I’m also a normal human so, additionally, I have the ability to see both sides of two children fighting over the playground slide, but that doesn’t mean that I’m going to just sit there while the kids pull out gasoline and proceed to see who can burn the slide down fastest.  In other words, I’m pissed.  I’m seeing friends furloughed.  I’m seeing people I love out of jobs.  I’m seeing people unable to get the basic care needed for their children to survive and thrive.  This shit happens every day, but it’s not every day that it’s the fault of the government shutting down.  I don’t expect that anyone in the government will read this.  They don’t care about little old me and that’s pretty obvious.  I’d like to think that if enough of us banded together they would care, but it’s probably not true.  The whole nation is looking at them with disappointment and they’re still blaming each other.

That’s not what this post is about though.  You can find people complaining about the government all over the web if that’s what you’re looking for.  What I’d like to do instead is to feel a little less helpless about what’s going on.  So instead of pressuring the government to just DO THEIR JOB I’m going to instead write about a few things that we can do to pick up the slack they’ve left behind.

Right now WIC is running out for many, blood drives are being cancelled from lack of workers, people are out of work and worried.  So how can we help?

Call your local food bank, or church to donate.  Food is good, but money is better as they can use it for perishables.  Or donate to Feeding America.  Every dollar pays for 8 meals and you can do it online.  It’s crazy easy.

Donate blood if you can.  Click here to find the nearest place taking donations.

Send grocery cards to people you know who are struggling…particularly those who rely on WIC, or who are government employees who are working without pay, or are furloughed.  If you don’t know of anyone, call your local Women’s Shelter.  There are a lot of people (especially single moms) who rely on the Women’s Shelter for help and they can pass on the cards or diapers and such to people who need them.

Be nice.  This one is hard because right now everyone is a little freaked out about the fact that our Government is basically the equivalent of your dad not coming home because he’s passed out at the bar.  Tensions are high.  It’s easy to blame each other or lash out at whoever we think is the biggest asshole in the asshole parade, but that’s not solving anything.  Take a deep breath, remember that we have each other’s back, and do what you can to help…even if all you can do is pass on a helpful word, or a link to great resources, or a thank you to the men and women who are working without pay or who are sitting at home waiting for this shutdown to end so they can get back to the work that’s piling up.

We’re all in this together.  And in the absence of the government…we are the Government.  

That’s a scary thought.

PS. Any other ways you can think of to help?  Leave it in the comments.  Please try to avoid partisan blamey comments and don’t fall for it if someone leaves one.  The whole point of this is to not get caught up in the same BS the government is fighting about.  We’re better than that.  Or at least, I hope we are.

Two uncomfortable truths: New Merida looks a little whorey. Fewer people care about this than you would think.

Ugh. 

I sort of already hate myself from weighing in on this but people keep asking me to tweet about it and forward their petitions, and I really thought it would quiet down by now but it hasn’t, so I’m going to give my big, fat, stupid, irrelevant and probably wrong opinion on the changes Disney made from the original I-might-trust-her-to-babysit-my-kid-when-she’s-a-little-older Merida to get-the-fuck-away-from-my-husband Merida.

There are all sorts of calls to action to get Disney to admit that the new Merida looks a bit skanky and they’ve met with some success and that’s awesome.  Go team.  I hope you succeed.  But (in my opinion – stop yelling at me) the majority of people do not give a shit.  Mostly because we’re busy personally teaching our kids what strong women look like instead of letting Disney do it for us.  And in a way, Disney did us a favor here.  Did you have a talk with your kid about the new Merida? Because if you didn’t you missed a good opportunity to see where your kid stands on this, and to talk to them about over-sexualization.

I showed the new Merida to my eight-year-old and she assumed that it was Merida’s evil twin.  Which actually would make an awesome story, and personally I plan to tell stray children I see buying backpacks with the new Merida on them that the original Merida was eaten by the new Evil Merida because she was so hungry.  And they will probably believe it because seriously, look at her waist…the girl needs a damn sandwich.

Anyway, my incredibly dumb and probably ill-informed point is that it’s really uncomfortable to see a strong, child-like character get tarted up and flash bedroom eyes at you, but it’s equally sucky to rely on a giant corporation to teach your kids what strong women look like.  Strong women look like Amelia Earhart, Rosie the Riveter, Asmaa Mahfouz, or Elizabeth Smart. Or Wonder Woman, or Sally Ride or Sojourner Truth, or Amy Poehler, or Ada Lovelace, or Anne Frank.  Or your grandmother.

Or you.

I support and admire the men and women who speak out in the cause of feminism, but let’s not lose sight of the fact that there are so many amazing women who may never end up on a lunch box (Wonder Woman and Word Girl excluded) but who can make a great difference in the life and perceptions of our sons and daughters.

Okay.  Your turn.  Who’s your favorite female hero?

PS.  There aren’t any right or wrong answers here.  It’s totally okay to like pretty dresses and sexy princesses.  It’s totally okay not to.  No judgment.  Probably.

UPDATED: And then the PR guy called me “a fucking bitch”. I can’t even make this shit up.

SEE UPDATES BELOW…

I know I just posted a few hours ago, but I’m posting again because you all know how dedicated I am to writing about PR pitches (both good and bad) and this one just can’t wait.  I got a form letter email pitch (more than one, actually) about a Kardashian sister being spotted in pantyhose.

Actual line from email:

“The Kardashian’s once again show they are right on trend, and this is on (sic) Mommy’s are all going to want to follow.”

As I do with all unsolicited form-letters about celebrities-doing-shit-no-one-cares-about, I replied with my usual, simple response:

me: And here’s a picture of Wil Wheaton collating.

I got a response from the woman who sent the original email:

Hi there,
That wasn’t very nice. We send certain pitches out to people so they have the chance of getting more hits on their page. We’ll make note of this email in moving forward and remember if we have any advertising opportunities with any of our clients not to go through you.
Best of luck to you.
Best,
Erica

That sort of email might be threatening to a blogger who makes a living by getting advertisers who go through PR companies, but I’m not, and (as far as I know) neither are most people.  For the most part, my blog is supported by people.  People who are bloggers.  This becomes relevant soon.

I wasn’t going to respond, as she did have a point, but then a VP of the company (Jose) hit “reply all”.  With me on the reply-all.

Jose:  “What a fucking bitch!”

Wow.  I sort of felt bad for the guy (as I’ve accidentally fallen victim to the reply-all trap as well) and I considered just cowing down and remaining quietly chastened by this man, but then I remembered that this isn’t the 18th century and that I’ve never taken a high road in my entire life.

My response:

Hi. This is sort of why “reply all” doesn’t usually work well for
companies. Unless, of course, you decided that “What a fucking bitch” was
a great response from a public relations company. Personally, I preferred
the “Best of luck to you” one, which was much more honest and cutting,
while still being professional.

If you’ve read my blog you would know that a great deal of my blog deals
with the importance of public relations companies doing research before
sending form letters to bloggers. Specifically, I’m very vocal about
ridiculous pitches involving celebrities using products. So much so that
I made that actual Wil Wheaton collating paper page to combat this very
sort of thing in a quick and painless way. My blog has nothing to do with
fashion, the Kardashians or pantyhose…none of which I understand, to be
honest. Plus, you’ve sent me this form letter TWICE today. I only point
this out so you can delete this *ahem* “fucking bitch” from all of the
mailing lists you have me on, rather than just one.

Also, I apologize if you were offended by my email. Honestly, I’ve been
sending that thing out to PR people for the last year and this is the
first time I didn’t have someone respond with either a laugh, or with a
simple “No problem. We’ll remove you from the list.” In fact, many PR
companies have turned this entire thing around and sent really hysterical
exchanges to me, which I’ve used to promote their great work in
understanding (and working with) the unique personalities of the very
bloggers they’re trying to reach out to. Just a thought.

Hugs,
Jenny (aka “fucking bitch”)

I don’t know what I expected, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t this:

Jose: I get it and I was out of line by saying that however you put way too much effort
into your approach. A simple “I don’t cover this, no thanks” or “Please remove”
would suffice. To go out of your way to be snarky and rude is a little
inappropriate. Again, I should’ve been less harsh – but I also feel like your email
was rude and unprofessional as well. We will do a better job to research who we are
pitching but maybe you should be flattered that you are even viewed relevant enough
to be pitched at all instead of alienated PR firms and PR people – who are actually
the livelihood of any journalists business. Don’t be offended, you started the
cursing game so maybe we should all just laugh it off and plan not to work together
in the future.

Wow.  Jose was sticking to his guns.  Sadly for both of us, so was I.

My response:

“You should be flattered that you are even viewed relevant enough to be pitched at all.”
You sure know how to flatter a girl. Are you even in
public relations? Am I on Candid Camera? Because I’m kind of baffled.

Please stand by for a demonstration of relevancy.

And then I tweeted to @BrandlinkComm to let them know that one of their VPs just sent me an email referring to me as “a fucking bitch.”  And many, many of my 164,000 followers replied and retweeted in the most clever and hysterically awesome ways imaginable.

And it was beautiful.

PS.  The reason I post this is not to have everyone go all angry-villager on the company.  It’s to remind other bloggers that there are some amazing and wonderful PR companies out there who will do their research and will make your life wonderful.  And there are other PR companies that will try to shame you into posting their irrelevant spam and threaten you with talk of not using you in the future for when they’re doing advertising.  Those PR firms are assholes and you should probably question everything they say.

You are amazing.  You are relevant.  Your work is worth protecting and standing up for.  And you will find wonderful PR companies to work with over time.

Even if you are “a fucking bitch.”

UPDATED: I love you people. Really. Thank you for always having my back and for being so supportive during this weirdness. Jose has apologized, and I’ve been assured by the woman in charge of the company that they are aware and are handling it the best way they know how, so let’s give them some air and let them have the chance to do that. *deep breath*

Now let’s all go have a drink. Make mine a double.

In fairness though, calling it “catvertising” was a pretty brilliant idea. Still suing though.

2008:  I write about my idea to advertise on the side of wandering, stray cats.

2009:  Warner Bros. begins advertising on the side of cats.  Calls it “catvertising”.  Is lauded for their innovation.

Someone.  Is getting.  Sued.

 

How did the hamsters even *get* jet lag?

Hi.

Just got back from Utah.  More on that later, but right now I just want to say that my blog and email have been ill for the last 24 hours, but I’m moving to a bigger server so it should be fixed.  Also, I am severely jet-lagged so I have nothing funny to say.  Except that I just looked up “jet lag” on Wikipedia and it said that scientists have helped hamsters recover from jet-lag by giving them viagra.  Which means that at one point there were a bunch of people flying hamsters with tiny erections to exotic locations in the name of science. Which I think is just proof that scientists are high all the time.

Also, I’m pretty sure cancer still exists, right?  Meanwhile, people are bringing drugged, involuntarily-aroused hamsters on planes, and I’m not even allowed to bring my diet coke through security.  This is exactly the kind of thing I’d take a stand against if it wasn’t for the fact that I don’t even know what the hell I’d write on that picket sign.

PS.  The study also notes that the hamster study “is considered an off-label use by the drug’s manufacturer“.  Which seems like a lost opportunity, because who doesn’t want to use erection meds to cure your hamsters of jet-lag?  Apparently the people who make viagra don’t.  Because they hate your hamster.

PPS.  I can afford the upgrade so no worries, but if you want to help me pay for the bigger server you can buy something at my horrifically inappropriate store. Or you could send me a briefcase of unmarked bills.  Or get me a grant for hamster-erection studies.  Apparently there’s a lot of money in that.

I can’t tell if I won this argument or lost it. I’d feel better if I at least had nachos.

Conversation with my husband:

Victor: Look at this video. It’s about a company that invented a tool that lets you drive using only your mind.

me: Awesome. I’m so glad we’re making such huge advances in the field of driving-a-car-without-hands. It’s good that the scientists have a new priority now that they’ve found a cure for cancer.

Victor: The concept is pretty cool. You can drive all the way to work just sitting there.

me: They already invented a tool for that. It’s called a bus.

Victor: I think I want one. You could drive yourself to the grocery store and learn to play the flute at the same time.

me: I would kill myself in about 8 seconds in that car. What about all the times you think about driving off the edge of a cliff? Does it compensate for that?

Victor: Who the hell thinks about driving off a cliff?

me: Um…me.  And everyone.

Victor: *

me: You don’t imagine -for just a second- about driving off a bridge every time you drive over one?

Victor: Why would I do that?

me: Because it’s human nature. Everyone does that. You never actually do it but everyone thinks about it.

Victor: Well I don’t think about it.

me: Well then, maybe there’s something wrong with you.

Victor: Maybe there’s something wrong with me because I don’t think about driving off cliffs on a regular basis?

me: Or because you want a car so you can play the flute. Neither of those are particularly normal.

Victor: Okay, first of all, the flute was for you. Secondly, I think there’s something really wrong with you.

me: Probably.  I like how in the video they’re all “Don’t try this at home” because that disclaimer is totally the only  thing keeping me from driving my car with my mind right now. I mean, that and the fact that we’re out of brain sensors.

Victor: Just stop talking.

me: If I was driving a brain-car I’d make it go to Taco Cabana all the time and you’d be all “Where are we going? We don’t have time for this” and I’d be like “I’m not doing it! It’s the car. It must want enchiladas” and then I could get enchiladas all the time and you couldn’t yell at me about it because you couldn’t prove I was doing it on purpose.

Victor: When have I ever yelled at you about enchiladas?  WHY IS THIS EVEN AN ISSUE?

me: You’d totally yell at me if I suddenly veered off to get unexpected enchiladas. That’s why I’ve never even tried it. Because I know you. But just wait until we get our mind-control car. There are going to be unexpected enchiladas everywhere.

PS.  Then Victor said that I just proved that I can’t be trusted with a mind controlled car, which was kind of my point to begin with.  I win.  Except now I totally want enchiladas and I have no brain-controlled car to get them for me. Touché, scientists.  Way to create a demand.

What’s really sad is that about 80% of this email exchange actually happened.

Slightly paraphrased email thread between myself and a marketing company that is trying to destroy me:

Dear Blogger:  We have an exciting new breakthrough to tell you about in the field of something we’d realize that you are completely against if we bothered to even read your blog.  If you are interested in writing for free about our incredibly pointless product please submit this form telling us about your blog even though we’re the ones contacting you.  If you are approved we will send you high quality photos of something no one gives a shit about.  For every 3,000 people you convince to “like” us on facebook we will donate a nickel to the Stop Stabbing Orphans Charity, which we actually started ourselves as a tax write-off.  Help us help us by helping us.  If you’d like to unsubscribe to this email list which you probably never subscribed to in the first place then reply to us with the subject line of “unsubscribe” and with the reason why you hate orphans so much.  Sincerely, the same assholes that email you every damn day.

Dear automated-pitch:  This is the 18th time I’ve asked you to unsubscribe me.  If you don’t stop sending me emails I will begin stabbing orphans myself.  For the love of God, leave me alone.  Hugs, Jenny

Dear blogger:  This is an automated response confirming your request to unsubscribe from our mailing list.  To verify that you would no longer like to receive emails from us please reply to this email with “CONFIRMED UNSUBSCRIBE” in the subject line.  Sincerely, those exact same assholes.

Dear assholes:  I think maybe you don’t understand what “unsubscribe” means.  Sending me an email confirming that I don’t want you to send me any more emails is (at best) kind of a dick move.  I hate you and your products.  Hugs, Jenny

Dear Blogger:  We have received your request and we are beginning the process of removing you from our mailing list.  In order to better serve our customers, please let us know why you no long wish to receive emails by using the attached survey which requires you to log into our system and verify that you requested removal.  You will be sent an email to verify that you are you before being allowed to fill out the survey.  If you did not request removal and believe this was done in error then do nothing and we will continue to offer our valuable service of mailing you distracting and pointless bullshit.  Your friends, the assholes

Dear assholes:  I’m ordering an orphan-stabbing knife in the shape of your logo.  Send me another email and I will mail you a satchel of angry typhoid-infested cobras.  ~Jenny

Dear blogger:  You have not responded to the survey we sent you one week ago.  If this email was sent to you in error, please ignore.

JESUS CHRIST, ARE YOU KIDDING ME? FUCKING LEAVE ME ALONE OR I WILL DISEMBOWEL YOUR ENTIRE FAMILY WHILE YOU SLEEP. STOP.  FUCKING. EMAILING ME.

Out-of-office message: I will be out of the office from Feb 3 – 14th.  If you need assistance please log on to our automated website.  You will be required to set up an account if you do not already have one.  Our entire goal in business is to make you never want to open your email box again.  Please fill out the attached survey letting us know how we’re doing.  Thanks.  We’re totally doing this on purpose now.

And this is *exactly* why I don’t trust PR people.

Okay, so last week I got an email asking if I was interested in interviewing Katherine Heigl and I ignored it because I’m irresponsible.  I also ignored the email I got on the same day asking if I wanted to interview the guy who plays Sportacus on Lazy Town (true story).  The Lazy Town person gave up after the first email but the PR chick from the Katherine Heigl interview sent me another email telling me that Katherine Heigl specifically asked for me to be on the call.  Then I realized it was one of those “interviews” where a lot of bloggers get on at once to ask questions and I never do those but I thought it would be rude to not send Katherine a question if she specifically asked me for one.  So I emailed the PR chick back:

Hi Adrienne,

I did get your email but I’m not actually free on the 24th.  I’m flattered though that Katherine reads my blog and I do actually have one question to ask.  I’m sure she’s swamped but perhaps you could pass this along and she could just email me back with her answer?  Here is my question:

Hi Katherine!  Can you please settle an argument that my husband and I are having?  In your last movie you call the baby that you have to adopt “Sofie”.   I say it’s probably short for “Sofa” but my husband says that’s ridiculous because it would be irrelevant to shorten “Sofa” to “Sofie” since they both take exactly the same amount of time to say.  I retorted that maybe her full name is “Sofa-Cushion” and he said that was ludicrous because “real people don’t have hyphens in their first names” because apparently he’s never heard of T-Pain or Jo-Jo the Dog-Faced Boy.  He thinks “Sofie” more likely short for “Softball”.  Can you please settle this for us?

Hugs,  Jenny

Then Adrienne informed me that they would do the call another day and tried to get me to put up a widget or giveaway something.  I don’t know.  I wasn’t really paying attention at that point because I was drunk.  My response to Adrienne:

I might be able to do the 27th but I don’t do giveaways  or widgets on my blog so I’d probably just write about the call and put a link to the movie at most.  Will I be able to ask my question though or is this one of those calls where you just end up listening and never speaking?  Because I think this sofa-softball issue is one that movie-goers are wondering about.

Also, I have a follow-up question for Katherine about leaving my daughter to her in case of my untimely death because I plan on bestowing joint guardianship to Katherine and Oprah.  Can you let me know if Katherine and Oprah have any bad blood between them, because if so we need to work that shit before I put anything in writing.  Also, Flo from the Progressive commercials will be named as an adopted Aunt because I think she’ll be good at keeping things light-hearted whenever Oprah started taking herself too seriously.  And for my daughters adopted uncle I’m choosing Sea-biscuit, because who doesn’t want a pony for an uncle?  Fuck.  *I* want a pony for an uncle.  My husband isn’t totally on board with this yet.  Probably because of the hyphen in Sea-Biscuits name.  I’m not sure what his problem is.

I never got a clear answer from Adrienne but I went ahead and called in an hour ago to listen to the call AND THEY NEVER EVEN ASKED MY QUESTIONS.  Like, not even one, y’all.  Because apparently no one cares if my orphaned child is raised in a hostile environment.  Or maybe because Katherine Heigl wants to use the name “Sofa-Cushion” for her next child and didn’t want everyone else stealing it.

Conclusion: Katherine Heigl is a little bit selfish and Sportacus needs to find more aggressive PR people.

PS.  I’m totally renaming all of my cats “Sofa-cushion” out of sheer spite.

PPS.  Katherine Heigl is really very nice and now that I’m thinking about it I’m sure she probably did not intentionally kabosh my questions because that would be fucking insane. More likely Adrienne decided to steal my questions and submit them to Katherine as her own so that Katherine and Oprah would adopt her child.  And this is exactly why I never trust PR people.

UPDATED: My new year’s resolution is to get you to stop asking me about my new year’s resolutions.

People keep asking me what my New Year’s resolutions are and I tell them that I don’t have any and then they get all pissy because they assume that I think I don’t need to change but it’s really just that I’m too bored with myself to invest any more time thinking about me, and also because “What are your new year’s resolutions?” is kind of code for “So tell me what you think is wrong with you.”

That’s why my new resolution for 2011 is to get into something so blatantly reprehensible that when 2012 comes I will have an obvious choice for what I need to give up next year and I won’t be sitting here trying to figure out which one of my many vices is the most obvious to everyone else.   And then I’ll be all “This year I’m going to shoot up less heroin!”  Or stop burning books.  Or stop burning kittens.  Or stop burning books about kittens.  I haven’t really decided yet.  Whichever thing seems more likely to have people remark about how brave I am, probably.

PS.  You never realize how many terrible life-choices are in front of you until you think about how nice it will be to tell people you’ve given them up.  This is probably why so many people are shooting up heroin right now.

PPS.  OMG.  I GOT IT.  This year I vow to start shooting up kittens with heroin.  It’s gonna be a brave, brave 2012.

UPDATED: As requested, I drew up some anti-kitten-heroin photocards that you could use to save money on birthday presents but no one bought any…

Click on the picture if you want one.

…so instead I made a whole different set of cards for people who want kittens to be on heroin…

Or you could really confuse people by giving them one of each.

But then it turns out that no one bought any of those either.  Conclusion:  Heroin-kitten awareness is at an all time low, probably because we don’t have a sexy spokesperson attached.  Someone contact Neil Patrick Harris.

UPDATED: That last one was a bluff so it’s probably good that they passed. I can’t even keep a dog alive, much less a sasquatch.

Paraphrased email between me and a marketer.  The sad thing is that this is only slightly paraphrased:

Them: We would like to buy a text ad on your blog.

me: Ok. It’s $75.

Them: We will write a guest post on your blog with 4 embedded links to our product. We will give you $15.

me:  Um…no.

Them:  We will give you $18.

me:  No.

Them:  You will put 4 links to our product pages on your blogroll page.  We will pay you $2 per 1,000 click-throughs that result in sales.

me:  Wow.  Does this usually work for you?

Them:  You will write a review about our product.  We will send you high quality photos of the product if you agree.

me:  That sounds great but the electric company just stopped accepting high-quality photos as forms of currency.  I will send you a high-quality photo of me saying no to you.

Them: We are not currently paying for marketing but your readers would appreciate learning about our product.

me:  Nice try, Obi-Wan.  Your Jedi mind-tricks won’t work on me.

Them: This is no trick.  We can offer your readers a 10% coupon if they tweet about our product.  Your readers will thank you.

me:  You will send me $1,000 and I will send you a high-quality photo of me spending it.

Them:  This would not benefit us at this time.

me:  You will send me a dog as big as a pony and I will send you a high-quality photo of me riding it.

Them:  We have many other bloggers interested in being in this exclusive program.  If you are not interested in this program please let us know so that we can move on to our next choice.

me:  You will send me a cloak of invisibility and I will send you high-quality photos of me being invisible in it.

Them:  We are sorry that you are passing on this valuable opportunity to help your readers.  We will keep you in mind for future products which meet your requirements.

me:  You will send me four dead cats in a shoebox.  I will send you high-quality photos of them as marionettes.

them:  Thank you for your time.  Your blog is not a good fit for us presently.

me:  So you aren’t interested in placing your links on my blog?

them:  Yes.  Please notify us when the links are active.

me:  You will send me a large Sasquatch.  I will send you high-quality photos of me playing Chinese-Freeze-Tag with it.

So far I have received no response.

I win.

UPDATED: After eleventy million (eleventy million = five) of you insisted that I publish this on xtranormal I actually did it. FYI, I’m British in this video because they don’t have a Texan accent and this seems like the next best thing.  Also, British people are unable to properly pronounce “sasquatch”.  Apparently.

Comment of the day: Sort of reminds me when a telemarketer called to talk to me about some new phone service and I told him I didn’t actually own a phone. He went quiet for a minute and then I gently told him that because I didn’t own a phone, I couldn’t really be having this conversation right now. And then I hung up. ~ Allison