Friday, November 21, 2014

I Sound My Mighty Yelp

I was so delighted and inspired by Sheri's piece on Wo'C favorite Robin of Berkeley that I just had to pluck a fruit from the poisoned tree and take a big crunchy bite of it myself. And then Weird Dave, one of our favorite, and certainly one of our nudest Crappers, wrote in comments, "Before we bid Ms. bin Berkeley adieu check out her complaining about Yelp.  I will bet dollars to doughnuts she got a bad Yelp review (or three)." And if you know me, you know how difficult I find it to ignore the advice of a man who spends most of his time frolicking naked in the desert. So I followed his link, and sure enough, Robin is as upset by this crowdsourced Consumer Reports as she is by the Andrew Breitbart murder, or Rosemary's Baby (but happily she's still proud of her whiteness):
Real Men Don’t Yelp
They just jump straight to their safe word.
Everyone is Yelping these days, that is, using the website, Yelp, to play critic. But in my opinion, the name “Yelp,” is a misnomer. Instead, it should be called “Whine.”
That'd be great, Robin; unfortunately, "Whine" has already been reserved as a synonym for "Blogging."
Because that’s what most people do on Yelp, complaining about this restaurant or that physician’s office. As a bumper sticker I saw aptly put it, “Yelp. Ruining small businesses since 2004.”
Well far be it from me to refute the peer-reviewed conclusions of a bumper sticker, but the only time I ever wrote a Yelp review, it was a rave for the Mom 'n' Pop computer cobblers who resurrected my wizened Mac after the harddrive died.  Now I realize my experience is completely anecdotal, and lacks the large data sample and rigorous statistical analysis typically performed by the rear collision guard of your Kia Elantra, but according to this site designed to help local merchants leverage social media, Yelp users most often come to praise Little Caeser's, not to bury it:
Take “Becky from Oakland.” She ordered her burger from the local bistro medium rare, but it came well done. Did she politely speak to the waiter? Complain to the manager? Try to work things out like, I don’t know. . . a grown up? 
No, Becky typed out an incendiary attack against the restaurant and posted it on Yelp. In that moment, as Becky seeks revenge for her disappointing dinner, the restaurant owner isn’t a person like her, someone with dreams and feelings. He is just a vehicle for her to unload frustration and bitterness.
Unfortunately, Robin didn't link to Becky from Oakland's review because we can't handle the truth!, so we don't know if she did try speaking to the waiter or the manager, or just sullenly accepted the cremains of her burger and placed it in a tasteful urn next to Aunt Sadie's ashes on the mantle. And since a search of Yelp for "Becky from Oakland" yields no reviews at all, positive or negative, it's possible Becky is another one of Robin's imaginary enemies. Or one of her patients. But I repeat myself.
Yelp plays to basest instincts for vengeance, imparting a false sense of power and bravado. In that online moment, Becky becomes a mini, online Rambo.
What you call Hell, Becky calls Help.
Then there’s Jim. He didn’t like the attitude of the person at the local dry cleaners so decided not to use them. Rather than simply bringing his garments to another shop, he gave the place (which, by the way, he never actually used) a nasty review and one star. In the age of Yelp, business owners can’t be in a bad mood because of a troubled marriage or a sickly child. Every potential customer is now a Secret Shopper, scrutinizing all possible wrong moves.
It doesn't seem to dawn on Robin that people actually read the reviews on Yelp, and if "Jim" says "The dry cleaner was all pouty about his kid's lymphoma, so I refused to let him touch my fine washables. One star!", then users will probably accord his opinion the weight it deserves. On the other hand, I find Robin's stubborn belief that everyone is as stupid as she is -- in spite of all evidence to the contrary -- a touching act of faith.
I suppose Yelp isn’t all that different from many sites on online, with the trolls and the hostile, sometimes obscene, comments. 
Back on the Old Wo'C Site, Sheri quoted Robin on the mystifying, nay, suicidal effrontery of trolls.  "Why," Robin puzzled, "Would they subject themselves to scrutiny by a licensed psychotherapist?", to which Sheri responded, "Robin, you routinely diagnose mental illness in the Left while being a nut yourself. You’re a humorless, tone-deaf scold. And you tell the most far-fetched, improbable, entertaining stories about the trials and tribulations of being you. Of COURSE the trolls are going to be drawn to you. You’re their queen!"
Virtually, people can brandish words like knives to attack anyone who dares to disagree. It’s all anonymous, of course; one can say things that would never be allowed in polite conversation. And the recipient of the abuse isn’t a quite a person, but an objectified, disembodied thing, someone different than oneself.
Robin of Berkeley would like you assholes to stop insulting people from behind your curtain of anonymity.
Maybe I’m touchier about the subject than others. My father owned a very small store post-WWII, when leases were easy to get and red tape nil.
Before the days of intrusive government regulations, our father's were free to run their wildcat organ harvesting business out of the neighbor's toolshed!
Because ultimately, it’s not about burgers and fries or dry cleaners; it’s about something deeper and more essential: dignity, and a culture bereft of it. No longer do we treat each other with basic dignity. The business owner isn’t someone’s father or mother, not a person trying to carve out his little piece of the American dream. No, the other is an obstacle in our way, a barrier to our achieving our own perceived rights and privileges.
So what if he poured sawdust into the drive train and then charged you for a new transmission -- he might be somebody's dad for all he knows!
I propose something radically different, something that harks back to a bygone era, that is, the one prior to the creation of the World Wide Web. How about if someone has a problem with someone else, that he speaks to them? If Becky doesn’t like her burger, she should send it back. Speak to the manager, if necessary. Worst comes to worst, she can order something else from the menu.
By preemptively posting a bad review on Yelp, Becky will never know if the manager would have preferred -- given the opportunity -- to address her complaint in a more personal way, by making her a new burger and spitting on it.
How about if everyone stops Yelping and Whining, and returns to talking to each other with basic respect. We’re all in this human soup together.
Okay, although I prefer to think of it as Homo Bisque.
In my opinion, real men (and women) don’t Yelp. And real human beings don’t seek revenge on each other, by trying to destroy reputations and businesses on impulse. 
I think Dave is right, and a few well-placed consumer complaints to the California Board of Behavioral Sciences (I'm lookin' at you, Chris Vosburg), may explain why Robin no longer identifies herself as a "licensed psychotherapist."
Real people see that we are all connected in some mystical way that none of us can really understand. 
Yes, there's few things more mystical in this veil of tears than the ethereal bonds between "fraud" and "gullibility," or "carnies" and "rubes."

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Strong Enough for a Man, But Made for a Neuter Noun

I gotta say, any day that sees the triumphant return of both S.Z. and Robin of Berkeley is a damn fine day indeed, one which fills my veins with the non-dairy creamer of human kindness. So I'm going to get the holiday season started early this year, with a preview of our annual gift giving guide.

(The item below appears courtesy of our buddy, film scholar Jim Donahue.)
Dear friend 
Wonderful day! 
Do you still remember Vision 3 ,yes ,vision 3 special package for Christmas is coming.
I don't remember the product, but the inconsistent capitalization rings a bell...
Material:Carbon fiber tube 
Size: (L)130.5mm*(D)17.5mm  
Output Voltage:3.2v-4.8v 
Are you still annoying the problem that what is the best guy for Christmas’ selling .Consider vision 3 and I believe you will have a wonderful Christmas day. 
Good luck! 
Shenzhen Jinokn Technology Co., Limited  
Facebook: vera wei 
Skype : jinoknecig
I'm such a procrastinator.  Here it is, almost Thanksgiving, and I haven't even begun to annoy the problem of what is the best guy for Christmas' selling, or addressed whether the best guy for the selling is even a guy; perhaps a woman would be more annoying! We must think outside the box.

And while we're out there, you should probably get around to hanging Christmas' lights. But move that apostrophe first -- you might cut yourself.

Anyway, as Vera says in her subject line, Father Christmas will be attracted by them— electronic cigarette battery, so buy one now, and you'll never again have to ask a neighbor to jumpstart your e-cigarette on cold mornings.

(On the downside, use of Vision 3 ,yes ,vision 3 special package has been shown to attract Father Christmas' and occasionally raccoons. We recommend storing it in a Rubbermaid container.)

Sunday, November 16, 2014

14 Years a Berkeley Slave

Since Scott doesn't have the strong constitution necessary for wingnut hunting right now, I thought I'd do a quick scour of the ol' stomping grounds.  Imagine my delight to find that Robin of Berkeley is back on the job.   And she hasn't changed a bit! Seriously, she is saying the very same things she did years ago, so maybe she has actually been replaced by a Google cache.  Anyway, just for old times' sake, here is Robin with a column about how liberals don't have a sense of humor because they won't laugh at her ethnic jokes.
 If You Don't Have a Sense of Humor, It's Not Funny
"There are so many things that get under my skin around here: the crime, filth, and trash; the road rage; the naked people; and the slavish adoration of all things leftist."
It's so sad how nobody will tell Robin about the road that leads out of town and into Oakland.  Or maybe all the naked people are just blocking the sign.
"But one of the most annoying is that so few people around Berkeley have any sense of humor. Imagine living in an area where you have to screen every potential comment for racial, gender, and transgender sensitivity. And every time you dare to open your mouth, there’s a pretty good chance that someone will shut you up."
Imagine living in a society where people expect you to have a little decency, and to not be a jerk out loud.  It's a dystopian nightmare!
"For instance, I was at the bank last fall when we were having a string of lovely, warm days. Amiably, I said to the teller, 'It seems like we’re having an Indian summer.'  To which the well trained, young white male responded, 'Hm. I wonder if the term, ‘Indian summer,’ is racist'.”
We've already reached the point in Ms. Robin's remarks where I have to call "no way."  There was no well-trained, young white male teller, was there, Robin?  No lovely warm day last fall.  No trip to the bank.  The whole thing was an anecdote from the 1984 edition of Rush Limbaugh's "Happiness is a Dead Liberal."  Know what gave away the fictional nature of the alleged encounter?  Yes, it was Robin addressing an amiable remark to somebody.

Anyway, the point is: nobody in Berkeley has a sense of humor, and so you should never, ever open a comedy club there - and if you do, it will fail, and you will have to make your living as an indentured psychologist.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Random Scenes of Hollywood

Update on Mary's condition: she's doing well, with no post-operative infection (I wasn't particularly worried about that, but as Wo'C Chief Medical Officer Dr. BDH remarked, hospitals are "full of germs and mistakes." She's developed a bit of a cough, and every hacking spasm hurts like hell, but otherwise the pain is manageable, and she's able to get around the apartment. We'll know more when she sees the doctor on Monday.

Meanwhile, Moondoggie is exhausted from all the feels, and just wants this week to be over.

Anyway, I haven't really felt like poking a stick into the muddy bottom of the right blogosphere and stirring it around until methane bubbles pop on the surface, but I did manage to take a walk and snap a few photos -- and while I'm certainly not trying to compete with ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© I figure it's been awhile since we've done one of these. So please enjoy The (Mostly) All Cactus Hollywood Sidewalk Revue!
Two cacti embrace, one of whom is extremely aroused.

I don't know what species of cactus this is, I only know that it's Textured for Her Pleasure.

The cactus in the center appears to be delivering a big, rabble-rousing speech. The one on the left, however, seems to have gotten bored, started watching the two canoodling cacti above, and popped a half-chubby (which is always embarrassing if the meeting adjourns unexpectedly, because then you've got to sit there and shuffle your papers around until it wilts).

This cactus is doing it's famous impression of a Sandworm Eating Gooseberries.

I'm not sure, but I think this cactus is flipping us off.

This is either a palm tree that has been eaten away by blight or natural erosion and is about to snap in half and brain a passerby, or it's a Muppet version of a tiki idol.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Good News, Followed by Dubious Advice

Hey guys, just wanted to let everyone know that Mary is home, which means her recovery is excellent or her insurance is lousy.  Anyway, we have Oreo-flavored pudding and Oxycontin, plus a marmalade cat who has been plucked from the gibbering mouth of madness, so all things considered, it's a good day.

I haven't been near the computer much, so there's been no time to go wingnut scouting, but our old friend "Wally" has kindly offered to step in while we are indisposed and offer up a third helping of his unique, Miss Manners meets Nathaniel West-style advice column.  And not just your garden variety home truths traded over the back fence, but the kind of bitter, hard-won wisdom that only comes from growing up on television with Wolverine hair.  (For those who may not remember, Wally made his first appearance here, in a column which attempted to reconcile the ways of Ted Nugent, to Man, then launched his Miss Lonelyhearts franchise here, followed by a second installment here.)

Take it away, Wally...

Dear Wally,

I'm 19 and a Rutgers freshman – and now finally out of the closet.

During orientation week I met a really cool guy, Sam, who lives off-campus and we hang out a lot besides sharing the same major (engineering).

This weekend Sam invited me over to his crib but I met his older brother Todd there instead.

In a nutshell, Todd lured me into helping with bathroom renovation, then compromised me. All afternoon. I still have rope burns around wrists and ankles and other stuff.

I don't know how to tell Sam about this but feel I should if we want to continue our relationship.

Any advice?

Nervous in Newark.

Dear Nervous,

Send more photos.

Your rope-a-dope pal,

Dear Wally,

I'm discouraged by recent news of terrorist activities, emerging viruses and the general sense that the geo-political situation is way outta control.

I'm under-employed and have a family. Should we just be quiet and build a fortified underground bunker in the back yard or do we acquire enough narcotics and drink the Kool-Aid while watching reruns of LITB?

Cowering in Cincinnati

Dear Cowering,

If you go the bunker route for heaven's sake don't spend all day watching reruns of Beaver. Recent research has proven its potential to induce tardive dyskinesia after about a dozen episodes. Or mount your TV hanging from the ceiling facing down. Either way.

Bon Voyage,
La Wally

Dear Wally,

Took my '98 Acura sedan down to Maaco (Bronx) and waited two weeks for a simple repair and paint job. I picked up the car this morning. It's not my car. Its a '81 Honda Civic hatchback. Pizza car. Refused to take delivery.

Piqued in Poughkeepsie

Dear Piqued,

The odds of you getting your original Acura back are about as low as getting a good blow job from Jay North, aka Little Miss Blue Balls.

Normally our readers ask if Wally might assist them somehow in the day-to-day.

You haven't.

Wally has a fleeting suspicion that as an Acura owner you are nothing more than a white man enjoying white privilege in your every endeavor, whether waiting in line at Whole Foods or perhaps just picking your nose whilst navigating from point A to B.

In other words, Piqued, Wally is telling you as politely as Wally can that you are a significant, if not complete, douche-bag.

Contemptibly yours,

Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Corsican Swanks

Okay, this is weird...

[First, I have to tell you, I brought Mary our Kindle this morning, and she used the hospital wifi to connect to World O' Crap, and all the well wishes in the comment thread below made her smile. Which is no small feat, as she was in a fair amount of pain, and hungry as hell, having gone without solid food since Wednesday night.  But as of press time (I'm writing this at about 9PM Saturday) she's had lunch and dinner and kept both down, and may be home as soon as Monday. Crap, I shouldn't have said that, because now I've probably jinxed it...]

Anyway, I get home from the hospital, eye the Mesa of Lost Laundry and half a dozen other silent, mocking household chores, and figure I'll just take a quick dip into the archives and pull out an old Swank post for a Sunday Sermonette. And since I've been revisiting the Pastor's output in more or less chronological order, I look for the post which followed his last (seen here).

And guess what? It's the one where Swank goes to the hospital!  Specifically, it's the one where he bitches about having to drive his wife to the hospital and then dozes in a La-Z-Boy while she has hand surgery, but it all turns out okay because he meets a "hunk" with a wasting disease.

Okay, except for the napping in the hospital room and the flirting with male patients, this is exactly how I've been spending my last couple days days. You realize what this means, don't you?  Swank is stealing my life! He's the Jennifer Jason Leigh to my Bridget Fonda in Single White Female. He's dopplegangerbanging me!

So...anyone want to join the church I've just founded in the northwest corner of my living room? (Two can play at this game, Pastor!)

Originally published March 27, 2009

Swank Versus The Medieval Barbers

Pastor Swank has lost 40 pounds in 40 days, and now enjoys “increased energy and clarity of thought.” (Let’s hope not, or this post is going nowhere fast!)  Still, you can’t argue with results, and according to the Pastor, an amazing regimen of laxative teas, banana splits, and nasal spray has cranked up his nearly 70-year old metabolism and made the hypothalamus his bitch!
And what’s Swank doing with his new, boyish vim?  Well, let’s check his latest Townhall blog and see…
Monday was hand surgery day for Priscilla, my wife.
Several days prior she had been sick with the flu. Fill in the blanks.
Okay…we need a noun, an adverb, and a breed of cat…
But Monday she was well enough to have the cut-through.
The doctor cut all the way through her hand?  That sounds more like amputation than surgery, but I’m no expert.
However, waking up Monday for me was not fun. I now had the no-energy-at-all. Yet I was to drive her to and from the hospital. After all.
“At which point I would be alone again.  Naturally.”
I literally dragged to the van, turned the key and hoped to stay put on the frost heaves of River Road.
Well no wonder you felt so crappy, Pastor.  I had the dry heaves once, but at least the bathroom was heated.
By the time we got to the hospital, Priscilla went off to see the surgeon. I waited in the state-of-the-art reception solarium.
American medicine has made enormous advances in waiting!  Why, our waiting technology is light years beyond those socialists in Canada!
I was handed what appeared to be a type of remote which would wiggle and tickle when it was time for me to visit Priscilla through those awesome closed doors that signed AUTHORIZED PERSONNEL ONLY.
So they gave you a vibrator?  Yeah, I can see how that would make the time go faster.
At the end of the long, long hall was the cubicle housing Priscilla. Thankfully, the hospital with its most accommodating provisions, had a lazy-boy chair for the visitor-with-patient. I made swift use of the chair, tilted back and closed my eyes.
“I was exhausted from all the hyphenating.  Guess I’m not as young as I used to be.”
It was now mid-day. I dared not put anything in my stomach because of you-know-why. Yet the strength was not upping.
Stupid strength.
Nevertheless, I was the designated driver. So home we went, Priscilla talking about meds for pain and my head gradually focusing on what was really important.
I collapsed on the couch, losing contact with the world through the few hours beckoning. When awakening, Priscilla said, “You know, I’m going to have to go back to the hospital because the nurse left a needle in my arm.”
Sure enough. The nurse had forgotten to take the “port”—is that what it’s called; I have no idea about medical terminology?
“So I’m going to make some up.  I’ve decided that sharp thing they use to take blood from your arm is called an ‘isthmus,’ and that thing they make you poop in when you’re stuck in bed?  I’m either going to call that a ‘grommet,’ or an ‘antimacassar.’”
Anyhow, it’s the needle that’s put into the flesh by which more whatevers can be added to the body for this and that.
Whoa, whoa, whoa!  Ease up on the jargon there, Dr. House.  We’re only human.
Yes, it was there all right. And it could not stay. Infection and so forth.
She might develop inflamed adverbs!
I don’t know if I can drive into the city. The hospital. It seems so far away,” I replied, unthinkingly, for who else was going to do it?
Back in the car. Night had fallen. I felt wretched. Priscilla was dealing with pain-after-hand-surgery.
We got to Mercy Hospital Emergency Room, checked in with the receptionist and so on and so on.
“Then we each told two friends about Faberge Organic Shampoo…”
To my right there sat a handsome young fellow who started to explain to me that my wife could have been taken to the local fire department where a medic would have extracted the object without us having to do what we did.
Set her on fire?
From that subject, we moved to his subject—which was that he suffers from diabetes, has an esophagus problem by which he cannot eat anything but apple sauce diluted with water.
“I’m losing weight. I have gone down from 225 to 155.”
“So you’ve discovered the laxative and nasal spray diet too?”
Then there came out this detail from Jeremy: “My mother is strict when it comes to religion.”
I asked him what church she goes to.
He replied with the name of the sanctuary. “I know where that is. And I believe what your mother believes. You don’t know it, but you have been talking with a minister.”
He looked startled—but pleased.
Well, startled anyway.
Jesus was in charge. And how many times has this same sequence played out in my life over and over again: problems, difficulties, barriers, slumps and then—surprise—the hand of God in-my-face?
“Thank you, Jesus!  May I have another?”
“Thank you, Jesus, for overruling today. The nurse forgot the “port”? We had to go back to another hospital because it was merely a nuisance?
That’s life. It’s a damaged world.
Except in the winter, when it’s really more of a marshmallow world.
Yet Jesus has promised in the consecrated life to use everything “according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28. Recall?
Pray for Jeremy, will you? Pray for Jeremy. It was such a privilege to have met him. He certainly is one hunk who could use a lot of saving grace and a healing miracle besides.
I’d like to help, Pastor, but my Hunks Who Need Praying For list is pretty full already.  Maybe I can bump Wentworth Miller and squeeze Jeremy in after The Thunder From Down Under guys…
Thank you, Jesus. I know you know and are in charge.
Now as to the state of the present-tense world. . .
Oop!  Hold that thought, Jesus.  I’m late for my Smooth Move Tea and Dristan enema.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Medical Center...In Color!

I just got home from the hospital and wanted to post a quick update on Mary's condition: she appears to have come through the surgery very well, with none of the nasty surprises or possible complications we were dreading. I saw her in Recovery and later when they brought her to her room, and while she wasn't spoiling for a lively exchange of views, she did seem to be in good spirits. Except when I made her laugh, which is apparently contraindicated, but hey...I gotta be me.

Moondoggie, predictably, is a basket case.  I found him in the same place we'd left him this morning, lying in a funk by the front door, as though he'd developed Sudden Onset Lassie Come Home Syndrome.

Thanks to everyone for the good wishes; I know they were a big boost to Mary's peace of mind. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to get something to eat (thanks to my friend Laura for bringing over hotdish), take something for my back (which, after nine hours in a waiting room chair has been reduced to bone spurs that jingle jangle jingle), then spend the rest of the evening scritching the cat.
Time for some candy...