Friday, August 27, 2010

THAT'S Specious Reasoning!

Don't you love those lies the media tell you that are just implausible enough to make you wonder if they're true after all? The first one I am exposing is that you can get sunburned worse on a cloudy day than on a sunny one. Riiiiiiight. In all my years of busking during peak hours, I have never once gotten burnt on a cloudy day, even in mid-July. However, on sunny days, even in September when the rays aren't as intense as they are in mid-summer, I have gotten burned despite slathering myself with 20 SPF sunscreen. Liars!

Then there is the oft-surfacing lie about tea vs. coffee and which has more caffeine. "Did you know tea has more caffeine than coffee?" scream the headlines every couple years or so. Oh yeah? Then why do people get a wake-up buzz from coffee but not from tea? Perhaps they bury the fact that English breakfast tea has more caffeine than decaf coffee in the fine print as a footnote to a disclaimer. Brilliant; way to get folks to click on your story. (Morons.)

Finally, there is the blatant fashion lie that if a woman has lumps of fat on her back, it's because her bra is too big, not too small. Horse manure! Case in point: at the beginning of this spring, I had unsightly lumps of fat on my back and I was wearing a 38B. All summer long I've been biking 16 miles a day to work and back. The fat on my back is now history, and I'm wearing the same bras that I wore at the beginning of spring, the 38Bs. So it stands to reason that on May 12, the day I started biking regularly, the bras were SMALLER on me, not LARGER. Where do the fashion writers do their research, on Planet Idiocracy?

I rest my case.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Cell Phone

Music and Lyrics © 2010 Mazurka Wojciechowska

Well you’re talking on a cell phone (cell phone)
Annoying all the folks around you (cell phone)
Well you’re talking on a cell phone (cell phone)
Oblivious to the damage you do (yes, you!)
Well you’re talking on a cell phone
In your hand that thing’s a real hell phone
Well you’re talking on a cell phone, you self-centered oaf
You think it’s all about you.

            Well you're steering with your knees cuz you’re talking while you drive
            It’s a wonder anybody in your path is still alive
            Your reaction time is slow or not at all,
            Hey! Was that a stop sign?  Ooh, gotta take this call!


            Well you talk in the restaurant on a date
            And you talk during church cuz it just can’t wait
            Your incessant blabbing is out of hand
            And that’s why you’re getting this reprimand


            Well you talk on the train and standing in line
            I’d like to shove that phone where the sun don’t shine
            I bet you even talk on the toilet in the loo
            Well, watch out, we’re gonna play a trick on you! 


Mazurka Wojciechowska, Lead Vocal/Accordion; Jason Monroe, Bass Guitar; Logan Huber, Drums; Cameron Huber and Jackson Lake, Badd Boys; Valerie J. Glowinski, Camera; Katherine Monroe and Jen Parkman, Disciplinarians (not pictured)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A Trio of Rants

The Biggest Lie of the Early 21st Century

“Your call is very important to us.” Bull! If it was that important, someone would pick up the damn phone in the first place.

And while we're on the subject...Earth to pathetic optimists: Calls are only important when they benefit the person being called. Calls from friends, family or from parties offering me gigs are "very important to me". But if you’re calling to ask for money or beg me to hire you to perform a service I don’t need in the first place, your call is "not important to me". In fact, I can think of ten things I’d rather do than talk to you, and one of them is cleaning the bathroom.

I Got Laid Off and I’m Better Off

I was a ‘victim’ of the Great Purge of 2009. I spent 21 years at a financial services firm and I loved it. But face it, working for the same company that long can make you fat and lazy if you’re prone to inertia, like I am. Since I hadn’t taken a vacation in 6 years, I was relieved when they kicked my butt out the door. I spent last summer looking for work and hanging out with my pals. That hogwash about how looking for work should be your full-time job is one of the biggest fairy tales of the decade. Since there’s always going to be someone smarter, younger, or willing to work cheaper than you, you might as well enjoy your time off, spend money sparingly, and become acquainted with all the folks you’ve been neglecting over the past few years. Look for work, but don’t kill yourself doing it. 

When the right job came along I grabbed it. Even though I’m making a fraction of what I earned at the financial joint, I am a little less fat and a lot less lazy, and what’s wrong with that?

Those Annoying Cell Phone Talkers

I was riding the train trying to read the Chicago Tribune but couldn’t get past John Kass’s first paragraph. Not that John wasn’t entertaining that day, but there was a loudmouth paralegal gabbing on a cell phone right in front of me going on and on about some boring court garbage that I couldn’t care less about. Miss Blabberpuss treated the entire train car to a long, dull one-sided drone, and that’s part of the reason why I wrote the song Cell Phone.

A line from the song: Well, you talk on the train and standing in line, I’d like to shove that phone where the sun don’t shine! Hear the whole thing on YouTube. It’ll be posted to my channel in the near future:

Monday, May 17, 2010

Hora bătrânească

Here is a song from Northeast Romania.  If not for the language, you would think it was Klezmer!  In fact, much of Klezmer music comes from this area: N.E. Romania, Moldova & Ukraine.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Cut Education First!

Dateline:  Illinois
The News:  Scott Cohen, the disgraced pawnbroker forced to withdraw from the race for Lieutenant Governor now decides he wants to waste his money trying to get elected Governor!

Hey Scott, Illinois does not need a governor. What it does need is a CFO with an advanced degree in accounting. If he looks like a movie star, so much the better, but I’ve never met anyone with a PhD in accounting who had time to style his – or her – hair six times a day. Absent a CFO, Illinois will have to make some hard choices. Liberals ask, “What services would you cut first?” And this liberal replies, “Education.”

That’s right, if I were the Guv, and be glad I’m not, the first thing I would do is eliminate all public education in Illinois. Nothing warms the heart more than seeing a parade of teachers tromping down to the unemployment office, where they will then be doled out your tax dollars to waste on booze, cigarettes and prostitutes. It’s not just the teachers who will be siphoning off your hard-earned cash, but also the custodians who wipe up all those footprints, the school nurses who aren’t allowed to dispense aspirin without threat of a lawsuit and those cafeteria slackers who sling slop onto your kids’ lunch trays. Throw in all the planners down at the Board of Ed, curriculum writers, administrative assistants and the folks who record those annoying voice mails you get whenever you need to reach someone ASAP, and you’ve got a queue of jobless mopes that would stretch from Alton to Antioch.

What then, you ask, is to be done about our youth’s education? One solution is home school. That’s right, if your idea of home schooling is making sure your kid learns to read at a fifth grade level, develops enough computer skills to find your favorite celebrity’s website, can count to $12,000, maybe learns a couple Bible verses and can tune a radio to the easy listening station, your job will be simple. For those parents who have a marketable skill, you’re probably unemployed yourself and can spend your idle days teaching it to your offspring. If you’ve dreamed of having a doctor or lawyer in the family, time to move to Indiana.

Another solution is vouchers for private schools. Some spoil-sports complain that the vouchers do not cover enough of the tuition to allow truly low-income children to attend. But with the money the state saves on all those education professionals who are now drawing a fraction of their former salary on unemployment, we can pay the kids to sweep the streets, pick up trash, mow the lawns of the richest politicians and clean toilets in hotels. That should earn them enough money to make up the difference. Their new jobs will keep them off the streets, and if they don’t have time to do their homework by the time they finish their shifts, they can join the ranks of Illinoisans who read at a fifth grade level, know how to find their favorite celebrity websites and hum easy-listening tunes while shopping at Aldi. Child labor laws? Hey, that’s why man invented white-out.

So, cut education funding first. Let the big-wigs in the public education system who make six figures while asking their faculties to take pay-cuts and forgo raises find out what peanut butter on crackers for breakfast, lunch and dinner tastes like.

Finally, a quote from my favorite TV show:

Homer: By the way, I was being sarcastic.
Marge: Well, duh.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

A Surfeit of Surveys

In the last year or so, I have noticed that practically every business you patronize asks you to complete a survey of their work. Shortly after a liquor store took and scanned my driver’s license (ostensibly to make sure I was over 21, and if you believe that’s the real reason, I have stock in Broadway Bank I’d like to pitch to you) I began getting phone calls asking me to take surveys. After the first one, during which a female sounding about 15 years old asked me if I was “planning to purchase an automobile in the next twelve months” I refused to talk to them. Some would ask for “the man of the house” and I would tell them he was in the shower. Picture that.

The business world’s reliance on such surveys was, is and always will be bogus, as it radiates hypocrisy. Here is some advice from someone without an MBA for these clueless companies:

1. If you really care about your American customers, your phone service is comprised of native American-English speakers. Making me spend three times as long on the phone with someone who has memorized a few lines but neither speaks nor understands English isn’t going to steer me in your direction a second time.

2. Don’t ask me to rate your staff. If your parents taught you to say, “Please,” “Thank you,” and “I’m sorry,” you would know the difference between courteous, rude and indifferent service. If not, go back to finishing school.

3. Regarding #2 above, if your service stunk, you’ll hear about it. Thanks to the Internet and various sites such as Yelp, if you shaft your customers, you - and your competitors - will hear all about it. Just another reason to make sure you are aware of what goes on in your company. In other words, don’t call us, we’ll call you. The important phrase here is, “Don’t call us.”

4. If you think we’ve never heard of Angie’s List, dream on. Angie’s List is one of the few legitimate survey and rating institutions around, along with the magazine Consumer Reports. You should regard them with fear, respect and awe.

5. Can you imagine if a 12-year-old boy took one of your surveys and gave deliberately untrue answers just to mess with you? Keep hounding us, and that’ll happen.

6. Are you properly training your employees and giving them 3-month trial periods before handing them the key to the Executive Washroom? If so, you don’t need to constantly ask us, “How are we doing?”

7. Are you offering us a chance to win an obscene amount of money if we go on line and fill out a survey about your company?  Let's hear from one person who has actually won the $30,000.  How stupid do you think we are?  We're on to you, and know you just want our e-mail addresses so you can spam us.  Give it up.

The words survey and surveillance have the same root. Some of us don’t want to be watched 24/7, and we don’t care to reveal our thoughts about every facet of our existence either. Here’s a hint: confine your surveys to the most obnoxious celebrities and the poor saps who go on those reality TV shows. After a while, they’ll be punching you in the virtual jaw, too.

Monday, January 25, 2010

If Mozart had lived, he'd be old by now

Mozart’s 254th birthday is in two days and our local classical radio station is treating us to a surfeit of recordings of La ci darem la mano from one of his greatest operas, Don Giovanni. If they play this duet any oftener it’s going to start sounding like a commercial, so take a hint and drop the needle on some of the other great music from this opera. One would think that a classical station would have someone familiar enough with this opera on their staff to tell the programming czar, “Hey! When was the last time we heard from Don Ottavio?” or “Donna Elvira’s going to come after us with a meat cleaver because we never play any of her arias."

I used to like this duet, but it’s fast becoming a Moldy Mozart Oldie.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Why I Hesitate to Donate….

The obvious reason is I’m a skinflint. However, there have been many excellent causes that I’ve wanted to donate at least something ($10? $20? $50?) to and decided not to. The reason: I end up on the organization’s mailing list and can’t get off.

Has this happened to you? A friend dies, the family requests that you donate to a certain non-profit, you do so in your friend’s honor, and you immediately start getting mail asking for donations. Or you hear about an organization that serves a good cause, make a one-time donation because you can afford it at the time, and they assume that you have a flammable bank account and come after you over and over. I have had this issue with four charities that I can remember offhand: a hospital, two health foundations and an organization that feeds the hungry. All good causes, but one penalty for my generosity was ending up on their pestering mailing lists. Another penalty is having your name sold (misspelled, naturally) to other organizations that would like you to split your assets with them.  For some reason, these are usually the ones that send you return address labels with your name butchered to the extent that you could end up on a terrorist watch list if you ever actually made use of the labels.

In all fairness, there is one organization I donate to that has never sold my name to another charity and for that reason I will mention them here by name: it’s the Slovak Heritage and Folklore Society. They have never asked me to buy raffle tickets either, a practice my fiscally conservative upbringing equates with the sin of gambling. So there are some organizations that graciously accept donations without turning into harping shrews, shrieking for more, more, more.

I wish some enterprising do-gooder would create a non-profit that donates to good causes without revealing the donor’s name and address. Call it, say, Give In Freedom from Tyranny, or GIFT for short. Take the money, write the donor a tax receipt on GIFT’s letterhead and send the donation off to the cause in question. GIFT then becomes the brunt of all that subsequent begging but doesn’t care, because they have a massive shredder!

I can’t believe I’m the first person who thought of this.