There's only one thing that makes me happier than a bad customer service experience, and that's writing about a bad customer service experience on my blog and exposing the rancid perpetrator to the whole world.
Hastings here in Coeur d'Alene is not necessarily well-known for it's outstanding employees, granted. On a normal day, the cashiers have two speeds: slow and stop, and the floor staff are severely lax in the product knowledge department. One of my favorite examples is the time I overheard a gentleman ask the kid working at the music desk where he could find a copy of The Band's classic album The Last Waltz and the kid replied "You're gonna have to be more specific about the name of the band, but you'll probably want to look in the Classical section cuz that's where all the Waltzes are." Stuff like that. However, at least most of them are friendly, unlike the dismal little shit that totally ruined my Hastings experience the other night.
Every now and then I go through my CD racks and make a pile of stuff I don't listen to anymore and take them in for store credit. I assume this is a normal, everyday procedure since they have huge signs outside and in advertising for people to bring in their used stuff. Doing a buyback, as they call it, is a bit time consuming, and not really a blast for the music department person who has to look up every title in the ancient, slow-ass Hastings database system. No-one has ever acted really thrilled about doing it, but it is part of their job, and they should at least be civil to the customer.
So, the other night I went to the music desk to begin the process and encountered Jon, who immediately rolled his eyes and greeted me with a sigh and a frown. "How dare you interrupt my oh-so-busy night with your pathetic little trade-in. I hate you." He didn't actually say the words, he didn't need to - he was just oozing with the attitude. In fact, he didn't speak a single word to me the entire time. No "Hi. How are you?" No "I'd be happy to help." Nothing. He just peered out at me silently, all googly-eyed from behind thick glasses and started going through the CD stack. I thought "Ooooh kay, here's a real friendly one" and announced that I was going to browse and would be back in a moment. Strike One.
A while later he raced by me with a pile of my CDs and I followed him to the front register where he hastily threw my pile of CDs on the counter and wordlessly disappeared. I've been through the buyback process a hundred times, and I know it well, but imagine that it was my first time selling CDs there, I'd be utterly confused by the lack of explanation. As it were, I noticed that he had only taken about half my CDs up front - where were the rest, the one's they didn't want to buy? I walked back to the music desk and found the rest of the CD pile sitting there so I grabbed them, Jon appeared suddenly. He finally spoke: "Um, I need to look at that pile again." "OK" I said, not really thinking about why. He quickly scanned the titles and handed them back. I realized that he was making sure I hadn't tried to slip another new CD or something in there - he was insinuating that I was a potential thief! I gave him a look of disbelief and he glared back at me with a full-on frowny face. I had to chuckle at his paranoia and went up front to finish my business. Strike Two.
I got my store credit, and I was ready to shop. I wasn't looking for anything in particular just seeing what might pop out and grab me. I am huge fan of David Bowie and a collector of his music. Normally when I see anything Bowie-related and I don't have it I have to snatch it up no matter what the cost. So imagine my delight when I discover there on the Hastings rack a series of Japanese Bowie import CDs that are packaged in exact miniature reproductions of the classic original vinyl album sleeves. I'm a sucker for cool packaging but ouch! $25 a pop for music I already own. I notice they're packaged in those little resealable plastic sleeves that open and close so easy, and I'm curious to know what the inner packaging of these CD's involves, so I carefully peel open the flap and, without actually pulling anything out, I just peered in the open edge to get an idea. I figured if I'm gonna pay that much for a CD, I wanna know what I'm getting before I buy. I guess, I could have asked for assistance, but I didn't want to deal with Jon any more than I had to.
Poof! Googly-eyed Jon appears from out of nowhere, beet red. "You need to put that back in the package right now!" he spoke through clenched teeth. I said "Sorry, dude, but if I'm paying nearly 30 bucks for a CD, I want to know what I'm getting - anyway, it's resealable - meant to be opened and closed, see?" He continued staring. "And anyways, are you trying to accuse me of stealing again?" He glared and stammered "People steal all the time around here. " "So what", I thought? I've been shopping here pretty much once a week since the place opened in the early 90's and I deserve better than to be made to feel like a criminal by some pencil-necked weirdo with a paranoid power trip. "Don't open any CD's in here or I'll kick you out" he hissed, as if I made a daily habit of running wildly around Hastings and undoing the shrinkwrap from various products and then pocketing them.
So I told the little runt that I was planning on purchasing all 10 of the $25 Bowie Japanese mini-LP-sleeve collectors discs right then and there but he had just blown the entire sale with his rotten attitude, and how I couldn't wait to come in and tell my good buddy Daniel, the store manager, all about it the next time I saw him. OK, I was over dramatizing a bit for the sake of making the point, but still, it could've been true. He googly-eyed me one last time like a frog in headlights and hopped off. My head throbbed with customer angst. Strike Three - Out!
I spent my store credit in the video department instead (DVD of "Borat"). When I was being rung up, I made sure the cashier was looking as I slipped a customer comment card in my bag and asked "What's the kid's name in the music department again?" "Jon" said the clerk, "Why, didn't he treat you nice?" "Um, noooo..." I shook my head. "Why, what happened?" he asked. "Oh, I'm sure you'll hear about it later" I replied ominously. I don't think I'm actually going to fill out the comment card or talk to his manager. I knew it would get back to Jon and hopefully just put a little scare in him. Just beware when shopping the music department at Hastings, for you may find yourself at the receiving end of a mean, googly-eyed glare.
Where were you, my pretties?
So I played Open Mike night down at the good 'ol Lickin' Snatch last night and none of my home girls and boys showed up. What's up y'all? I even tried to bribe you with drinks! Unless you live in a far away place (that's about three of you), you're in trouble! Actually, there was a bit more of an audience than the week before, but the crowd was kind of a rough one: Tessa's little brother and all his rowdy jock friends. They came mostly to see Mark play, but they got my fey electro-pop as a bonus and I could tell it wasn't really their cup of Coors Light. They were polite and applauded, but all I got afterward was glares. Actually, my throat was sorta raw anyway, I was a bit lethargic and it wasn't my best performance so maybe I should be glad everyone who said they'd be there flaked out.
So here's the deal: I'm taking next week off from it, but the week after that, on Monday April 9, I will definitely be there doing the Orange Television thing and since that's 2 days before my birthday, I think I'll make it an occasion, do invitations, basically force people to come watch me moan over synthesized beats and bloops. So mark your calendars, kids. The best thing would be for you to bring your own talent and get into it and perform something, eh? Hope to see you there. Again: My Birthday, Mik-n-Mac's, April 9, 7 PM.My London London Bridge Wanna Go Down
Lately I've developed an odd fetish for Stacy London, the fabulously arch co-host of TLC's addictive "What Not to Wear." I admire her classic passive aggressiveness - she can be outright mean to her make-over victims, but she does it in such a way that they just smile and giggle. She's is ultra-sarcastic and rotten but somehow delightfully charming at the same time, a trait I've been perfecting all my life as well. She reminds me a bit of Samantha's naughty cousin Serena on Bewitched - when watching "What Not To Wear" sometimes I half expect her to sigh, roll her eyes, then wiggle her nose and a perfect new outfit would magically appear on the guest. Her chemistry with co-host Clinton Kelly adds to the distinct watchability of the program, together they make a merciless team, tearing through ugly-ass wardrobes like paper shredders and replacing them with tasteful, modern apparel. The most entertainingly vacuous TV available, and when they have one of their "What Not to Wear Marathons", you can count me out of society and find me on the couch eating Fritos, glassy-eyed.
So I was thrilled this week when it was revealed that the powers that be at TLC gave Miss London her very own weekly prime time talk show called "Shut Up! It's Stacy London." If you've seen her in action, you'll know what a perfect name that is for her show ("OH! SHUT! UP!" is her typical excited response when she sees the guest in their made-over state for the first time.) The ads show her chatting and catting it up with huge megastars (not) like Lisa Rinna and Jane Krakowski, but I think as people catch on to her mega-coolness, she'll start getting some bigger names. The show debuts Friday 4/6 at 10PM.
The Poor Old Frog Needs a Little HelpMy 17 year-old godson Nikolas is in town from Seattle, and yesterday he wanted to take me out to lunch at Senor Froggy's downtown. Seems he'd had a constant craving for the Frog for the entire five years since he's been there, and he was clamoring for a fix. He told me that he viewed Senor Froggy as a Coeur d'Alene institution along the lines of Hudson's Hamburgers, a do-not-miss place you must visit when in town. I've always been a big fan of the place up until about the last year or so. I think new owners must have taken the place over around that time, and the quality of the food and service started visibly slipping. Everything here was always very consistent and professional, but the last few times I've dined there have been less-than-remarkable.
For instance, one Wednesday it occurred to me that it was "Taco Wednesday" where you get three hard or soft shell tacos for a reasonable price - it's a special the place has run every Wednesday since the beginning of time. So, I went in to order my three tacos and was told that they had canceled the special that day because there was a parade downtown earlier. Not seeing the logic right away, I questioned further and the girl rolled her eyes like I was taking away from her valuable doing nothing time and said "I dunno, just too busy I guess." I was stunned, still not quite sure what she meant, but went ahead and ordered a crisp meat burrito to go. When I got it home it was undercooked and nearly inedible.
One time I went in and was way put off by the man behind the counter (who I think may be the owner) who was overly friendly to me, to the point of coming across as totally phony and patronizing, something I just can't stand. "Hey buddy! What can I get ya Big Guy? Alright, pal! Do you want sour cream with that, my friend?" Uh...don't fake like I'm your dearest companion just because I'm ordering your greasy food. And that's been another problem with the place lately. Yes, it was always greasy, but now it seems like everything is just dripping with hot translucent brown oil, from the taco meat to the mexi tots, even the chips seem greasy! Kudos to them, however, for keeping Raspberry New York Seltzer on tap all these years - I don't even think you can get it anywhere else at this point.
Yesterday, Nikolas and I watched in amazement as a new hire (not even attractive) bumbled his way through our order. It was like he was looking at a cash register for the first time in his life. Meanwhile, his co-worker stood there behind the counter endlessly talking to a buddy on his cell phone about the wild party night he'd had and "Duuuuuude...I'm on, like, a half-hour of sleep..." We would order something and the new hire would frantically scan the register before saying "Kyle! Kyle! How do I put in a small mexi-tots?" and the other guy would come over acting all put out that his conversation was being interrupted. "(Sigh) Here, you just push "small", then "mexi tots." and then he'd go back to his phone. We'd order another thing. Frantic scan, then "Kyle! Kyle! How do put in a medium drink?" Repeat the process for the entire order. I wasn't sure who I wanted to throttle the most, Kyle or the nitwit behind the register. In fact, I was ready to tell him just move and ring up my own food - how hard could it be? Back in the glory days (10 years ago?) when this place was run like a tight ship by those triplet girls I went to high school with, this never would have happened!
My food was deeply greasy as expected and I spent the rest of the evening with that blah feeling that comes from eating fast Mexican gut bombs. Nikolas wisely chose the vegetarian burrito and some tots, declaring it excellent and exactly how he remembered, saying what a sense of relief he felt after craving the Frog for so many years. I didn't want to rain on his parade, so I didn't mention the fact I thought the place was slowly sliding down the deep end of the service and quality spiral. The place even looks kinda ghetto lately, like they started remodeling the counter area and gave up, and they desperately need to replace the big sign outside which has been sitting mysteriously blank for several months - it's an eyesore. I hope the current owners get their act together or by the next time Nikolas comes to town for his Senor Froggy fix, the place will be gone, replaced by some trendy, upscale pan-Asian joint or something.
After 7 years of hiding in the proverbial bedroom recording studio, Orange Television (my electronic music project) made it's live debut this past Monday at open mike night at Mik-n-Mac's. It was a spontaneous decision made a few hours before the event, and ended up being much easier to pull of than I had anticipated. I just picked 4 recent tracks, brought up the Acid (music studio) files on my laptop and deleted the vocals from the mix. When I performed, I just played with the separate music tracks, tweaking the levels and mixing them in and out while singing over the top. It sounded distorted to me because I was set up in the corner and had no monitor, I could just hear myself coming from the other side of the room where the big amps were. Odd experience, but fun. Thankfully, everyone in the bar said it sounded fine and clear, no distortion. (Reminder to self - bring the headphones next week so I can hear myself better). Now I want to actually start booking some gigs in other venues - look out Spokane. Watch for the obligatory OTV double live album in the near future.
I had to down a healthy few shots of Rumple Minze due to a case of classic stage fright, and I was nice and loose and ready when my time came. Q helped me set up and offered moral support and ashtrays. There were only a handful of folks present, but the reaction was good and I didn't see anyone turn white and run screaming out the door with finger in ears, so that was encouraging. Songs performed were "Talk," "Miss Puddings Dead," "Spokane Blank City," and "Thanksgiving In Chinatown." If anyone wants to join my band and play tambourine or go-go dance or something, feel free to show up next week. It gets lonely up there.
Actually, the Open Mike thing at Mik-n-Mac's has been a lot of fun so far. The only thing that really seems to be missing is an audience. Monday nights are traditionally slow, so it'll be a bit of a challenge to rouse people into going out. Now that I plan on making appearances with Orange Television, I'm gonna have to do some self-promotion. If I'm going to perform, I'd like people to actually hear it, y'know?
I'm hoping all the performers of recent weeks plan on making it a habit too because so far so fab: Host Mark Stephens plays acoustic guitar and has a great voice for the classic rock and originals he performs; His girlfriend, Tessa Weston, has only played guitar for 6 months, but she's already good enough to join him on a few sings; Photographer Jesse Tinsley showed up with his ukelele and performed a fine rendition of "Over The Rainbow" as well as a pornographic folk tune in Hawaiian (!!) Last week, Otis G performed some acoustic versions of his 40 Ounce J hits "Beer Run" and "Go My Way" and his lovely wife Taryn had everyone present screaming with laughter during her all-too brief comedy routine about Ethiopian food and tampons. She has promised to lengthen her set and return.
If you're in the CDA area and you're reading this, come down some Monday with your accordion or flugelhorn in tow. Come sing acapella reggaeton hits, perform Shamanic chants, do a mime tribute to Don Knotts, whatever it is you do, you should come and join in the fun. I'll even stoop to bribery: show up and if you perform I'll buy you a drink.
Listen:Orange Television MySpaceMark Stephens MySpace40 Ounce J MySpace
I nearly did a jig when I found out Morrissey was making a return to Spokane at the INB Center on May 5. He was in town a few years back, but I didn't end up going for some unknown stupid reason, and I've been kicking myself ever since. So - I am expecting someone to buy me tickets as a graduation present (you?), and will be there jumping and swooning like a shameless fanboy. I know I'm pathetic, I don't care: it's Moz.
I called TicketsWest to find out when the sale date is and the girl goes (nasal voice alert!) "Uhhh....like, is that a concert or what?" and had nothing in her computer system as of yesterday. All I know is I need tickets, or I will place the back of my hand on my forehead and faint gracefully. Bitch betta not sell out me like Pixies did (in 20 minutes) when they opened their reunion tour here in 2005.
Meanwhile, I've recently uncovered a Morrissey gem from last year that I somehow missed, tucked away as a B-side on some obscure format. It's a real rocker and I love the sentiment of the lyrics. Clearly, Moz's wit is still quite intact and his pen has yet to run out of poison. To save you the trouble of locating a copy of the track on Limited Edition picture disc from Holland or whatever, here's an MP3. Goda la musica!
Morrissey - Ganglord
MP3, 256 kbps
Ganglord, the police areKicking there way into my houseAnd hauting meTaunting me!Wanting me to break their laws.And I'm turning to youto save me...And I'm turning to youto save me...Ganglord, the police areGrinding me into the ground.The headless pack are backSmall boy jokes and loaded gunsAnd I'm turning to youto save me...And I'm turning to youTo save me! Save me! Save me! Save me...Gandlord, there's a clock on the wallMaking fun of us allGanglord, the clock on the wallmakes a joke of us allAnd I'm turning to you to save meAnd I'm turning to youTo save me! Save me! Save me! Save me...Ganglord, rememberThe police can always be bribedGanglord, remember!The police can always be bribedThey say 'to protect and to serve'But what they really mean to say is"Get back to the ghetto! The ghetto, the ghettoGet yourself back to the ghetto!The ghetto! The ghetto!Get yourself back to the ghetto!The ghetto! The ghetto! "
Lass Had 65 Fads
I am currently suffering throught the experience of using the ancient, rarely used Compaq computer tucked away in the back office at work. Why, you may ask, are you not using your shiny silver $1700 Dell laptop as usual? Well, I'd answer, because the friggin' keyboard suddenly went tits-up on me last night and will only type the letters a,s,d,f,g,h,j,k,l, plus 5 and 6!! That's it. This happened in the middle of writing an essay for my Computer Forensics class that is already late, and unless I wanted to write a lot about "sad gas" I was outta luck.
So, at nearly 2AM I decide to call Dell Tech support and actually, the guy was very very nice and knowledgable and didn't sound like he was being beamed in from Sri Lanka. I was bitchy at first, telling him that I was rather unhappy with the state of this machine I was still paying for and that was less than a year old (the casing is also falling apart on me), and where the hell where we going to start fixing this shit? He was calm and very smooth, apologetic, with a wonderfully hypnotic, sorta smoky deep voice. He said they would send a replacement keyboard out ASAP but it could take a week or so. He walked me though the steps of installing the thing (easier than I thought) so I'm not lost when I get it. He even gave me his own personal extension for if I have any more problems or "just wanna chat." It might be love.
Anyway, if my posts here drop off a bit this week it's because I am basically computerless - I will check in on this beasty Compaq when I'm at work, and will be using the ones on Campus as well, so I won't be too far gone at least...
Fame Makes A Man Take Things Over
When I got to work today, Bea - one of our volunteers - said to me with amazement in her voice: "Wow...you're famous!" and I said "Uh, OK. Whaddya mean?" and she told me she had been reading my articles in the Handle Extra and that my name and some quotes were printed in Dave Oliveria's Huckleberries column in the Spokesman-Review again and that everyone was just all abuzz about it. They printed my real full name and everything. Not that I was actually striving for anonymity I guess, I mean my own SR column has my big face next to my name, but it's still a touch surreal to imagine who is out there reading my random thoughts.
So, "famous"? I don't really think so, but it is always nice to be featured in Huckleberries, especially with something I'd never really expect to see printed in there. I had 15 minutes to kill the other aftermoon so I wrote some stuff off the top of my head and posted it on Huckleberries Online, had a quite busy weekend and basically forgot about the post until there it is, paraphrased in the newspaper for the world to see. All I know is that if the CDA Resort and the rest of Hagadonia doesn't already have my face on a "wanted" poster, they do now. Plus: "Naked Bear Riding?" Lou is gonna love that one. DFO didn't print the whole list, and left out some of my favorites, so I think I might expand on the concept a bit and perhaps turn it into an actual column, or at least post it here. Meanwhile, this morning's Huckleberries column in full:
AM Hucks: Saddle Up for Some Naked Bear Riding
At Huckleberries Online, the writer of the Making Flippy
Floppy blog is known as "OrangeTV." You know him as Patrick Jacobs, the new
local restaurant/nightlife reviewer for our Handle Extra. Over the weekend, OTV
accepted a challenge to list reasons to visit downtown Coeur d'Alene, beginning
with a disclaimer: "Granted, it's pretty much been overrun by chi-chi little
touristy galleries and 'boutiques' but I wanted to challenge myself to come up
with some good reasons to make the trip downtown now and then." Here's an
abridged version of OTV's list: George Nolan's Books; ghost hunting at Señor
Froggy's; a dozen folk-guitarists in a dozen wine bars and cafes, all playing
Dave Matthews covers; the spectacularly fabulous Candy O'Brien in her salacious
fashion boutique for rich drag queens and lady mayors; a cruise through the
resort driveway to watch a valet run out before you speed off, cackling; hot
baristas and Wi-Fi at Cafe Doma; a ride on the metal bear statue at Art Spirit
naked at 3 a.m. (which includes pictures); Pita Pit; $5 student haircuts at
Headmasters; 2-for-1's at Iron Horse with free mega-appetizers; a Bowl of Soul
at Java; a trip to Beverly's dressed in full evening wear just to order coffee;
Camera Corral; the Eagles Lodge, where you can get bombed with the old folks;
sweaty basketball on the city park slab in the summer when it's hot; permanent
eye makeup at Crown Design; and a visit to Thomas Kinkade Gallery to rant loudly
about right-wing conspiracy and UFO cults. Can you add to OTV's list?
Iggy Pop and Nick Cave. For a couple of old fucks, these two still know how to bash your brains in with loose, noisy rock. Their latest projects are their attempts to return a bit to the wild, ranting glory days of their rebel youth. Iggy and the Stooges made raw Detroit skank-rock hot and turned it into proto-punk starting back as far as the late sixties. Nick Cave took the Ig's cue all the way in Australia and took it a step further into the extreme with the rest of The Birthday Party in the early eighties. Both were famous for teetering on the edge of sanity and addiction, self-mutilating onstage and absorbing themselves fully into the rock and roll myth.
Both artists never lost their original vision, although both have had mellowing out phases. With the Bad Seeds, Cave created a dramatic body of work, from raw Elvis covers to sweepingly cinematic love tunes. Pop has never been less than prolific, but since '77's classic duo of The Idiot and Lust For Life, it seems Iggy's been running in place. His several dozen solo albums often suffer from trendy production, lack of inspiration, or just over-wackiness. Their new releases this month see them consciously making an effort to strip their schtick back down to basics, and for the most part, it actually works.
The Weirdness is the first record in 24 years from the reunited Stooges. Kicking off with "Trollin'", a delightful tribute to "hanging out" (*cough* of one's pants), it's a fun, energetic record that sounds like it was recorded in one take with a minimum of production flare. It's a refreshing dose of no-frills, kick-ass, fun-time party rock that absolutely wilts lame mega-produced pop radio acts like The Fray and My Chemical Romance or whatever garbage is popular at the moment. The Ig takes a political turn on the harrowing anti-war scorcher "My Idea of Fun." Things turn sinister when his girl runs off with a "Mexican Guy".
Pop has written some of his most entertaining lyrics here since his classic mid-70's era - his main subject as usual is the state of his frazzled brain, and on "I'm Fried" he finally nails it. Early reviews of the Weirdness have been less than kind - perhaps you have to be a long time Iggy fan like me to fully appreciate the quirks and nuances of his long career. The Weirdness isn't trying to change the face of popular music, but it is a fun listen and a great late continuation of the raw Stooges sound.
Grinderman is the name of the band and Nick Cave wants to be just one of the lads on this self-titled debut. Cave's instrument has always been the piano, so just to be contrary and to keep things fresh, he decided to pick up the guitar, an instrument with which he was fairly unfamiliar. He came up with a couple of tunes and recruited a some of his Bad Seeds to record an album of raw, screeching blues-rock that manages to scare up the ghost of his old Birthday Party punk days. Being a non-guitarist, Cave manages to impress with his insane blasts of atonal feedback and whammy-bar action.
Album highlight "No Pussy Blues" steals the old loud-quiet-loud thing from the Pixies, but twists it between it's legs and leaves it out of breath in the gutter. The verses are tense, just shuffling drums and a propulsive bassline, Cave going through one obsessive act after another to get his lover in the mood, and ruing "but still she just didn't want to!" before the strangling guitars and rushing percussion of the wordless chorus - Cave just yelps in frustration. It's such an undeniably classic rock-n-roll moment, the best white boy blues I've heard a Brit whip up in many-a-year.
On "Electric Alice/Grinderman", Cave channels ex-Bad Seed Blixa Bargeld's hushed drama and scrapy guitar. "Depth Charge Ethel" is a delightfully noisy gospel mess, and "Honey Bee" is an organ-bumped rockabilly rave up with perverse intentions. On Grinderman, the energy level is significantly higher than that of a typical Bad Seeds album and so is the breathing room. I would have maybe trimmed the album down a bit: it does drag at times and there are a few filler cuts, torchy ballads that might have been best saved for the next Bad Seeds project. Overall though, Cave manages to defy his age and uphold his legend with an energetic, experimental record that's worth keeping for "No Pussy Blues" alone.
Sondra Prill was the undisputed Queen of the Public Access airwaves in the Tampa Bay, FL area during the early 1990's. The videos contained here have been unearthed and stand as a living testimony to the greatness that was Sondra during her reign.
After being unleashed onto the Internet, her legend quickly grew. With hundreds of thousands of views, her mythical status grows daily.
Where is she now? That, dear viewers, is the million-dollar question. No one knows. And, trust us, people have sought her out. Friends, fans, even professional journalists have left no stone unturned to find out where she is. Unfortunately, she seems to have just vanished. We only hope that life has treated her well in the 15+ years since the era when her star shone brightest.
What remains is a handful of amateur videos that encapsulate the decadent spirit of the late '80's better than anything else I've seen. Her cover of Janet Jackson's "Nasty" is a great introduction to Ms. Prill's unique fantasy world:
Lima Bean Tears
Last night I remembered why I gave Dragon House restaurant on Appleway such a bitchy review last year. On my way home from work, I decided I was hungry specifically for some combination fried rice to go. Right now it's unclear why I chose not to go to Canton, where I know the combo fried rice is excellent. I was hungry and Dragon House happened to be sorta on my way home. After I ordered, I noticed the cook looked like he had just gotten out of state prison where he was booked on meth charges. Scurry. With no plastic gloves or a courtesy hand washing, he threw my meal together and before I even had a chance to sit down it was ready. Suspiciously quick.
Still, I was starving and I got home, sat down, opened my take out box and remembered reason number one why I hate the place: frozen mixed vegetables. I've said it a thousand times: certain vegetables DO NOT belong in fried rice. Green onions? Certainly. Sprouts? Of course. Peas? You're pushing it, but maybe. Corn? Hell no. LIMA BEANS? Like, gag me with a chopstick. Now, Lima beans are fine on their own or whatever, but they do not belong in fried rice. It's just laziness to throw in a package of frozen mixed vegetables, like the kind they forced you to eat in 1st grade: little cubed carrots, peas, green beans, corn, lima beans. Ugh! This is the only Chinese place I've ever been to that does it.
Also, the shrimp was undercooked to the point of being nearly raw. They were inedible, I had to pick them out (all 2 1/2 of them). The chicken was rubbery and along with the pork it was sliced into such tiny bits and so scarcely used that it was barely detectable. I had to pour on the soy sauce to even get any flavor at all out the situation. Ungodly bad. I felt icky and gross all night last night from eating it. For this I paid $9.50 plus tax? Never, ever again.
When I was really young, my dad taught me two songs. One was sung to the tune of the William Tell Overture (theme to "The Lone Ranger.") We sang it every time we went to the dump. It went "To the dump, to the dump, to the dump, dump, dump" etc. The other song was sung whenever I stepped on ant. To the tune of the "Pink Panther" theme: "Dead Ant, Dead Ant, Dead Ant Dead Ant Dead Ant, Dead Ant, Dead Aaaaaaannnnnnt."
Lately there's a weird problem with ants at my workplace. They're big and they're black. Every now and then I see an actual live one do the cha-cha across my desk. However, the real problem lies with the dead ants. I come in the morning and there are ant parts all over my desk and floor. Somehow, they die in the rafters above and drop dramatically from the heights and smash into pieces below. It's truly disgusting and I'm getting tired of vacuuming up the little dead buggers every damn day. Let's hope this is just a seasonal crisis.Lox and Neufchâtel Cheese on a Blogroll
The Blogroll - that long list of places on the right on the page - it used to be called "Tuna Casserole of Links." I kinda like that, why did I change it? Anyways, I'm going to spend a moment every now and then pointing out some highlights and must-visits:
!!OMG Blog!! - Does just what it says - makes you say "Oh my God!" Whether it's a shocking video clip, or a nude celebrity sighting, or just random bits of overheard conversation, this site is updated very frequently and has a decidedly queer bent. Never a dull moment.
365 Days Project - I was obsessed with round one of this daily MP3 series in 2004, and the 2007 version takes advantage of advances in bandwidth technology by including full albums and lengthy recordings instead of just single cuts. The curators of 365 Days present an amazing variety of oddball recordings and thrift store finds. Some of these are pretty much unlistenable but curious nonetheless, and some are full-on classics like General Electric's 1976 corporate masterpiece "Got to Investigate Silicones." It sounds crazy, but it's actually a fantastic, well-written and masterfully performed musical about the many amazing qualities and advanced uses of silicone-based products. 365 days is a daily addiction, and like a visit to Goodwill, you just never know what you'll find.
Bradley's Buzz - It would be remiss not to point you once again to my pal Bradley's blog which is always fun to visit with it's amazing and tales of a starstruck Wisconsin boy's fabulous life in West Hollywood, CA. Pop in and do leave a comment or two while you're there.
CDA Library NetCam - OK, maybe it's not the most action-packed site on the net, but I do check in every now and then to see how things are progressing with the new library currently under construction downtown. As a longtime library geek, I'm just excited for the late-summer unveiling of the shiny new lakeside facility. I can't wait to relax with a book in one of the comfy chairs up on the 3rd floor with the killer view of the lake and downtown. At least I'm hoping that's going to be the scenario.
Death Wears White Socks - I've harbored a longtime obsession with obscure new wave music from the approximate era 78-84. There's just something exciting and experimental about this period and genre of music to me. For years, I've been digging in deeper and deeper in attempts to uncover obscure sounds full of glamorous doom, fried hair moods, swooshy synths, and pretentious lyrics. There are a few sites that do these kind of post-punk MP3s but none go quite as deep as this one. They dig deep in the musty record bins so we don't have to.
Engrish - I find unintentional humor to be some of the funniest stuff ever. From "Showgirls" to the original "Iron Chef" I like it when things that are supposed to be meant seriously come across as a joke. Engrish is a site that features pictures of signs, packaging, t-shirts etc from various parts of Asia that include hilariously mangled attempts at English. Especially in Japan, they think it's just cool to use English words on stuff and they haven't the foggiest idea what the actual meaning is. This site makes my brain tingle a bit.
Okay, that should keep you entertained enough for now. More links later.
Get In, Get Under, Get Over
Greetings to you, Making Flippy Floppy newcomers. There must be a few of you visiting for the first time after seeing the web address printed next to my big scary face in the morning paper (and in color even - yikes!) Relax, have a look around. Cup of tea? Don't be afraid to leave a comment or two. I'm a little frightened to think of the various family members, ex-teachers, co-workers and otherwise respectable citizens who might be discovering my blog for the first time and the raw perversity that lies within. Hopefully there's nothing TOO incriminating lurking in the archives. I try to be as PG-13 as possible.
I thought about doing a separate blog to be called "Get Out" - same as the printed column - but I think at this point I'll just keep both my feet in one shoe. Or something like that. Anyway, if you haven't seen it, go buy some copies of the Spokesman Review and check it out - it's a nice little layout although they used file photos instead of the pics I took. No big whoop - writing is apparently my forte, not photography.
Anyway, if anyone has any story suggestions (nightlife, local arts and music events, food finds) or anything to add to the events calendar, please let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org Positivity: Ain't It Great?
I always like to give people my cheap dimestore advice, and one thing I'm always yammering about is the power of a positive approach to things. You know, be pro-active instead of re-active and life runs much smoother.
Here's a great example of how that can work. Some of you may know that I run a little internet mp3 record label called Flexible Records - I have no intention of taking over the music industry, but it's a fun hobby. I thought of the name Flexible Records a few years ago and after a Google search turned up nothing by that name in existence, I stuck with it. It actually started as a final project for a web design class back at NIC.
Anyhoo, way across the pond in jolly England, a chap named DJ Reflex decided to name his independent, homespun drum-and-bass label guess what? That's right - Flexible Records. I've been aware of it for year or so, but since we are located so far apart and have basically different types of music, I didn't care. Then, yesterday I get this email:
u label is shit....lol
Fri, 02 Mar 2007 00:38:27 +0000
U r a disgrace to the name "FLEXIBLE" records.....free music.....u
wouldneed to give it away.......its poorly produced....shit, american
CRAP..........i hope u close your website very soon..........
Reflex - FLEXIBLE RECORDS
Well, then. Who pissed in his porridge? It was tempting to write him back with something equally as nasty and juvenile. I thought about it and decided to take the high road. I found his site, fully checked it out, looked up his real name and responded thusly:
From: Patrick/Flexible Records
To: Dj Reflex
Subject: Re: u label is shit....lol
Date: Fri, 2 Mar 2007 -0800 (PST)
I have no intention of closing anything down. I do appreciate your
opinion, however, and find the music on your "Flexible Records" to be pretty good! Too bad you can't find any music you like at our site - there's quite a diversity. I really see no reason for nastiness and insults, however. We are in completely different parts of the world, and I have a hard time thinking anyone will mix us up. However, I have held copyright to the name since 2000 and would not like to hassle with legal issues. It would be much nicer to get along and be positive, eh? The most important thing is the music.
Best of luck,Patrick, Flexible Records
So then I got this today:
HI PATRICK..............i am really very sorry about my rant...........
it is good to meet you....and again i am sorry for being an idiot lol.......it would be much better to be freinds....and not enemies....
good luckstay in touch
Now, isn't that nice? We can all live happy ever after. I want to think it was my overwhelming kindness that generated such a response, and not the legal threat. Like our homeboy JT says on his latest record, "What goes around, goes around, goes around, comes all the way back around." Yeah, it's a big cliche but it still holds truth. Force positive vibrations out into the world and they will come back like a boomerang. Same thing happens with negativity, and then those people wonder why they're miserable and can't get ahead. To me, the formula is simple.
Kootenai Medical Center and Molasses Factory
Here's a thing I'll never understand. Why is the fairly simple process of visiting the KMC emergency room always, ALWAYS slow as shit? I figured that at 5:30 AM today when I finally decided, in tears, that I couldn't hack the lower back pain any longer and showed up to a totally vacant ER that it would be pretty quick. It's like the workers there live in their world with it's own odd time schedule where yakking with co-workers and lurking aimlessly is mandatory and must take up a certain large percentage of each hour.
After the receptionist took my info she said it would be "just a minute" and then continued manicuring her tragic claws, gradually finding the necessary motivation to let the doctor know I was waiting there in severe pain. I absently pored through nearly an entire issue of Country Living (it was either that or Bowhunter) before a rather fetching young man finally called me back. I waddled in like a hunchbacked old crone and was greeted by a nurse too young and gorgeous to be wearing that frumpy floral scrub top. It seems like in the past I've dealt with nothing but bitter, middle-aged divorcees here at the KMC ER, but these two were young and charming - real movie star types. I wanted to hang out awhile, order a drink and chat.
After they took my vitals they declared I had a wee bit of fever and sent me into the lav to pee in a cup so they could test for a urinary tract infection. Well, I had just peed before I went there, so I was dry, but the nurse told me to "give it the old school college try" so I did, but I was in so much pain and was trying to contort and hold that cup just so and squeeze out a few precious drops. I emerged with a dry cup and told the male nurse he was going to have to hold "it" for me if they wanted to see any results. Sadly, he rejected my tragic come-on and told me I could try later if necessary.
Fortunately, it wasn't. "The doctor will be right in" they said and sat me in the most uncomfortable chair ever in the history of the world, especially for someone with killer lower back pain. I shifted uncomfortably and began listening to the loud conversation going on at the nurse's station outside my room. Work gossip and not very good work gossip at that. Just endless blah blah, an older male voice and younger female voices.
"Well, you know, that Sandy, where does she get off telling me how to lubricate my rubber gloves?" "Yeah, she's a real bitch. You know she does it with totally dry rubber gloves, totally dry. Powdery." "Oh, can you imagine all those poor people who have to suffer through one of her rectal exams?" "I know, and did you hear about what Debbie did with the Sphygmomanometer guy last week?"
Okay, the conversation was nowhere near as interesting as that, but as ten minutes turned into twenty and then thirty, I remained motionless, having finally found a way to sit that was semi-tolerable. If I moved one smidge, the pain returned. Suddenly it was quiet and moments later the doctor came in. When he spoke, I realized he was the owner of the voice I had just been listening to making hot lung wind for the last half hour. He popped into my range of vision just long enough to decide I needed some good drugs and I'd be okay (could've told him that much), then *poof* he was gone before I could even ask him WHY HE MADE ME WAIT IN PAIN ALL THAT TIME WHILE HE GOSSIPED IDLY WITH THE NURSES.
Alone again, just me and the ugly fish wallpaper, I decided to explore since I knew it would be another eternity before the nurse returned with my prescription. All the drawers and cabinets were locked, except one which had nothing but wet-naps. I pocketed a handful, realizing that I was obviously not the first bored and bitter patient to turn suddenly klepto. The nurse returned with my golden ticket, imprinted with the magic words "Lortab" and "Robaxin." I practically snatched it out of her hand and groaned in pain as I rose and gimped off into the sunrise.