Venting and Ranting

Rolling Stone has been a favorite magazine of mine for a long time now.  I’ve been a subscriber since at least my early teens, which means I’ve been a steady subscriber for about 15 years now.   I’m a loyal customer and depend on the magazine to keep me up to date no new music, good movies and more.  Definitely one of my top choices for pop culture information.

However, they are ruining my love for the magazine with one poor customer service effort.  Their 1,000 issue recently came out and I never received it in the mail.  Maybe it was stolen, maybe it was lost in the mail… who knows?  Point is, that after 15 years of subscribing, the first issue I don’t receive is one that I was really looking forward to.  It was a disappointment, but I was confident that they would set things right and send me a replacement issue.

So I hop on their web site and quickly discover that there is no way to reach a person – you need to do customer service through a web-based form.   So I shoot off a polite email explaining the situation and instead of getting resolution, I get this insulting piece of cookie-cutter response:

Thank you for contacting Rolling Stone Magazine.

We are sorry to inform you that the issue you requested is no longer 

We have extended your subscription one issue for each issue requested.  
The new expiration date will appear on your address label in the near 

Thank you
Rolling Stone Magazine

Obviously, not only did they NOT resolve the problem in the way requested – by sending a replacement copy of the issue – but they extended the subscription by one issue, not two, which would have been more appropriate, since it was a double issue.

I send back a more terse email and they come back with an offer to extend the subscription by TWO issues.  Still no replacement issue and still saying that the issue isn’t available, which struck me as strange, to say the least.  Turns out it is indeed a farce, since if you follow this link, you’ll see that they are still selling it. 

So I can’t get a free replacement issue, though I’ve done nothing but dutifully pay my subscription every year for over a decade, never complaining or asking anything more of them, BUT, if I want to give them an ADDITIONAL $20, I can certainly have a copy of the magazine that I never received. 

It really is enough to make you wonder if this a scam… I’m sure that this would fall under FTC wire fraud or USPS mail fraud regulation.   I’m not even going get into the "spirit of Rolling Stone" and how they are betraying their roots of the 60’s and hippie-dom by screwing over a long-time subscriber.

I’m going to go do some deep breathing exercises now.

My Crystal Ball (The Other One Is Fine, Thanks)

For those who don’t know, the Pop Culture Gangster is a bit of a Red Sox fan, which means I might regret this, but here I go…   

The Red Sox just beat the New York Mets for the second game in a row, making it 11 straight wins, the most since 1995 when they won 10 in a row.  We’re almost at the All-Star break and the team is on fire.

So are the Mets actually…  which leads us to the way-too-early to be talking like this possibility of the Red Sox playing the Mets in the World Series.  20 years after they played each other in the 1986 World Series, ending in what was the most heartbreaking loss in Red Sox history.  1986 was one of the biggest clouds hanging – looming – over Red Sox nation for years, and Sox fans are a fairly superstitious bunch. 

We beat the Yankees and St. Louis in 2004, which definitely lightened the cross we all bear as Red Sox fans.  The Yankees are obviously a hated rival, but St. Louis has a history with the Sox as well – they beat us in two other World Series bids, in 1948 and 1967. 

Still, Red Sox fans still have a few ghosts of years past that haunt us.

What say the Red Sox beat the Mets in the World Series, 20 years after they played each other last.  The Sox win because Pedro Martinez – who left the Red Sox to play for the Mets – bungles a simple fielding play, a la Bill Buckner. The Red Sox win the Series and the opening pitch at Fenway of the 2007 series is thrown by none other Bill Buckner himself, who can consider the demons exercised.

Now we just gotta beat Cincinnati and order will be restored to the universe.

Sex Sells

The news wires have been rather sexually charged lately, filled with some risque photos from the World Cup and some rather interesting news bits.

Apparently Japan needs to have more sex.  They have  baby shortage and the main reasons was discovered through a survey which showed "people between the ages of 16 and 49 showed 31 percent had not had sex for more than a month "for no particular reason" — a condition known as ‘sexless.’"  No, that’s a condition called SAD or "CAN’T GET LAID."

There’s really no pop-culture signifigance to this photo.  Its just a factory worker packing condoms into a box (didn’t know they did that by hand…).  I just wanted a chance to point out that I think it is funny that there is a condom factory in Bangkok.  Get it?  Condom?  Bangkok?  Well, it made me laugh.

The caption of this photo is "Misty May-Treanor makes a signal behind her back during a fourth round match."  No… that is a close-up of Misty May-Treanor’s magnificent ASS.  Plain and simple. 

You’d think that being a sports photographer is a pretty cool job.  However, apparently it is filled with many lonely, lonely men.   Not only did I have my earlier post about hot photos from the World Cup, and the above Misty May ass shot, but now we have these:

This serves no jounalistic purpose at all.  Its just three great asses in tight bikini bottoms.

USA! USA! USA! USA! Makes me want to stand up and umm… "salute"

Bounce a quarter off of this and you’ll lose an eye on the ricochet

So here’s my solution to the Japanese sex problem: send the men to the world cup and beach volleyball championships!  They get a vacation AND all worked up.

This is a Muppet news flash!

Well, no it isn’t, but it is a little update of some of the more interesting things I read this week:

Target is embracing the "Tar-zhay" mockery of their name with some serious bling.

The American Dream is changing according to this article from the Boston Globe.  This is a trend I’ve been watching and following for years now.  Older adults mistake it for a desire for instant gratification, but its not that – its a desire to live a full life right from the start, not just at the end of it.

I’ve always found it surprising that there aren’t more "celebrity gamers" given the popularity of video games.  I remember watching a TV show on the USA Network that showed people playing video games way back in the old days of Frogger and Centipede and the like.  However, someone has taken a stab at putting together a list of the most influential gamers in gaming history.

I wasn’t going to blog about this, but it has literally shown up in so many places, I just had to since it keeps popping up.  Its about a new cereal box topper which helps to pour breakfast cereal.

I made a post earlier about the World Cup.  Don’t fret ladies – there’s something there for you… men taking off their pants!

When will adults learn?  You just can’t beat teenagers at their own game with technology!  They invent a tone that will drive teens nuts because they are the only ones who can hear it and now the teens are using it to take phone calls secretly.

If you need proof that some people take the comics a bit too seriously, here it is. (and just for the record, the headline "Spiderman outs himself to the press" scared me at first.  "Spiderman is gay!?!?" I thought, "but Mary-Jayne is hot!!")

Here’s an article about how cuteness has taken over Japan.  I’m glad that in the article someone pointed out that cuteness can border on the disturbing.  Hello Kitty scares the crap out of me. 

And last but certainly not least… if you need this, then you need professional help to get detached from your iPod: the iPod toilet paper dispenser.  I don’t make this stuff up people – I just find it and pass it along to you.

Timing Is Everything

To steal a number from Keith Knight’s K Chronicles comic, I experienced one of life’s little victories this afternoon. 

While listening to the radio on the way home from Boston this afternoon, Aerosmith’s "Love In An Elevator" started playing.  Being the first Aerosmith song I reallyliked and the one that initially got me into them, I cranked it up and was hoping that I wouldn’t get back to the office before the song ended.

As it turns out…. perfect timing.  The song ended, I turned the engine off and walked into the office.  Doncha just love it when a good song ends just as you get to where you’re going?

A Pop Culture Health Update

A few health-related newsflashes for you….

First up… downing a cup of coffee after a long night out does more than cure the hangover… it also helps prevent liver damage.

Which works well if you were drinking beer the night before, which you must do since it may prevent prostate cancer.  To the bar!

Last but not least, scientists are trying to track down the bird flu in Alaska.  That is interesting in and of itself, but I wanted to call attention to a food item that is mentioned in this article:

More than 300 Barrow residents show up at the outdoor community festival, called an apugauti, for a bowl of duck soup and some mikigaq, a tangy black viscous mixture of fermented whale blood, blubber and meat that the children gobble up like candy. The elderly in fur-trimmed parkas and youngsters in hooded sweatshirts sit at long tables at a windy community playground.

The words "tangy," "black," "viscous," "fermented," "whale," "blood" and "blubber" should NEVER appear together.  Ever.  Please.

However, I foolishly went searching for more information and a Google search came up with this page.  This page explained mikigaq as being "whale meat taken from the head, neck, and tongue, perhaps with some maktak (whale blubber with skin attached) thrown in, and allowed to ferment for two weeks in the whale’s own blood."

I am going to stop now before you all claw your eyeballs out.

Blow It Out Your Nose

While watching the premiere of America’s Got Talent tonight on NBC, one of the contestants came out dressed like a pirate and played a tune (using the term loosely) on something called a "nose flute."

Yeah, I know – how can you NOT look up something called a "Nose Flute"?  Here you go.  Yes, it exists.  However, to get the full effect, you HAVE to watch the videos towards the bottom of the page.  Here is this totally serious guy giving LESSONS on how to play the nose flute.  And he’s not even good at it.  This really should be on

Oh and that web site for the nose flute is  Hide the credit cards…

What’s Opera, Doc?

To riff on an old joke:

"I went to a boxing match and a hockey game an Andrea Bocelli concert broke out."

Oh yes indeed folks – my first operatic concert proved to be an enlightening one as I learned that Andrea Bocelli fans can be a bunch of pompous, stuck-up, pains-in-the-you-know-what. 

I’ve been to over 130 concerts, many of them at the Tweeter Center in Mansfield, MA, and many of them have spanned a wide range of musical tastes: from the Chieftains to Slayer.  I knew it was going to be a different night just walking towards the entrance – instead of the jubilant activity and noises that accompany most of the concerts I’ve attended (such as tailgating, music blasting out of cars and trucks, people just randomly yelling), everyone was walking either in silence or talking in hushed tones.

Once at our seats, we waited for the show to start.  The Boston Pops were providing the backing music for Andrea (not bad!) and around 8:15 (the show was supposed to start at 8 according to the tickets), they began a bit of prelude music to warm up and set the mood.  No one singing – just instrumental.

It was at this point that things started take a bad turn.  As the orchestra started playing, a group of about 8 people came up the stairs, and were trying to figure out their seats.  An older middle aged man (a bit tough to tell how old he was – could be anywhere from 60 to 75 as far as I know) dressed in a too-tight polo shirt sitting two rows ahead of us was getting annoyed with their noise and actually told them, "I hope you find your seats soon so you can sit down and shut up!"

Now, I’ve been to a lot of concerts where those words would instantly start a fist fight.  But I’ve never seen or heard anyone say that to anyone at any of those concerts.  Apparently heavy metal fans and hard rock fans are far more understanding and accommodating than opera and classical fans. 

These two middle-aged dudes started to get up in each others faces, with their wives having to intervene to prevent a fight from starting.  Bizarre!  Then I went to say something to my mom about the situation and I got "shushed" by the woman in front of us.  I’ve never been "sushed" by a stranger before!!  I was dumbfounded!

The rest of the concert went fairly uneventfully, though about 8:30 a group of 4 African-Americans came and sat down two rows in front of us.  If you’re keeping track, you know that means they had to get by the tight polo shirt guy.  I thought he was pissed about the seat finders… these people who came in late – and were clearly having a good time but anxious to sit down to watch the show – got the "evil eye" for a good two minutes from him.  I couldn’t tell if it was purely because they came in late and disturbed his musical experience or because they were black or a little bit of both.  Given what he had shown of his temperament and his age, it was probably a little bit of both.  Then another couple came in late and sat in the row in front of us, right next to the "shusher" who was infinitely annoyed at them.  I thought there was going to be blood shed when one of them pulled out a digital camera to see if she could take a photo.  Luckily no flashes or beeps went off, so the shusher didn’t have to kill (again, probably).

So here’s my first memo to all you classical/opera fans out there: you’re going to see a popular opera singer (or opera-style singer; check the profile on AllMusic and you’ll see this: "Bocelli has been most successful as a pop ballad singer") at a place primarily sponsored by Budweiser and a classic rock station.   Tom Petty and then Nine Inch Nails are gonna be there the following week.  Don’t expect this to be Symphony Hall.   Yeah, I have a problem with people showing up really late too, but people have to work, fight through traffic and have a right to eat supper too.  I’ll give them a break.

When it comes right down to it, if you want complete quiet and reverence for a concert, don’t go to a place that serves frozen margaritas in three-foot tall glasses and sells Superpretzels.

Oh, and to all you over-privileged twits who think that driving a car worth more than the average American makes in a year (or two) entitles you to get out of the parking lot first, please spend your next $50,000 on getting a reality check.  We all paid to park there, we all want to get out quickly, but you need to wait your turn.  Getting cut-off is one thing, but when some jerk decided that he was entitled to cut 20 cars in line and was going to get in front of me, that just wasn’t going to happen.  Who drives a white Volvo station wagon when you’re that old anyway?

I’m going to go practice my deep breathing exercises now.

I’d Scream for This

Was just reading a trade magazine at work and came across a little news bite saying that Ben & Jerry’s released the results of a survey asking with whom they would like to share an ice cream cone .  The number one person, with 21% of the vote is President George W. BushBill Clinton followed with 20%.

Next three were: Angelina Jolie (19%), Jennifer Aniston (19%) and Kelly Rippa (9%).

Before looking for the actual news release online, I was assuming that if you broke this down by gender, you’d find that mainly women voted for Dubya and Bill, since any healthy red-blooded American male would give his left arm to watch Angelina or Jennifer (even Kelly) lick an entire ice cream cone.

Sure enough: "Men choose Angelina more than anyone else (24%) while women choose Bill Clinton tops (22%)."  Duh!

Also, considering his approval ratings, most people probably want to share a cone with the President so that they can shove it in his face.

I also think it is funny that Ben & Jerry’s – the ultimate example of a hippy-dippy tree-huggin’ all-natural, granola-crunch type of company – holds a survey asking who customers would like to share their product with, and the uber-conservative and pro-war Republican President comes out on top.