Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Calling Talk Shows

So pretty soon after getting to know me you will know that I am a card-carrying member of my local NPR station (KUER 90.1FM). When I first started listening about 3 years ago, I felt a compulsion to call in to any given show almost constantly. This is how I was cured …

Whilst doing errands one fine day, I felt the compulsion to call in to Talk of the Nation (TOTN); daily topic: Gambling and the Gaming Industry. What do I know about the gaming industry? Nothing… But I had recently been on a design “field trip” to Las Vegas as professional/working alum traveling with my alma mater’s interior design majors. So naturally I was now an expert on the topic.

I quickly grabbed my cell phone and speed dialed TOTN. It was busy, but I am never defeated until the show actually ends. So I hit redial and got through! A very nice producer welcomed me and asked me if I was on a cell phone and would I mind pulling over (NPR producers…so thoughtful, so caring…). She asked me what my question or comment was about and then asked me to wait. So I waited with my hand on the volume knob wanting to avoid that awkward moment where the host has to ask you to turn your volume down. (I think the people who keep their volume up just want to hear the sound of their own voices on the radio…pfff…amateurs.)

I had a scathing comment about the ruthless, and unconscionable practices designers use to trick and fool people in casino design. How dark and sinister the manipulations; cloaked in lights, mirrors, and fiberglass! I was set to expose one of the most sought after (and wealthiest) casino designers, Paul Steele, as a ruthless and heartless thug. How he had laughed as he told us about three Native American women who had sat outside the construction zone of one of his newest casinos chanting prayers as the workers cut away their sacred mountain. I felt like a field reporter fresh from the trenches with an inside scoop.

Then Neal Conan spoke: “Let’s go to Carrie Ann in Salt Lake City, Utah…” (I know I don’t live in Salt Lake City, but who’s ever heard of Provo?) I then realized that with the sound down, I had no idea what they had just been talking about. So I just started in:

“Yeah, hi…thanks for taking my call…

(I tried really hard to sound mature… and then it started to unravel…)

“Yeah, I just went on a field trip…

(now they’ll think I ‘m some kid student)

“but I was a professional…am a professional interior designer…

(wait, they’ll think I’m a decorator)

"… I do commercial design…and we went to a lot of places where they do design…like, professional design firms…

(Did I just say “like” on National Public Radio?)

“And all the stuff they do to the casinos…well, to the people in the casinos, you know, to make them…I mean to trick them and stuff…well, we talked to this designer guy and he told us about it…and it made all of us feel icky…”

(I just said “icky”…)

A pause on the other end…

“Well, Ms. X, how do you want respond to that… because I sure as heckfire don’t know how to…” (I know you were thinking that last part, Neal Conan.)

“As I was saying,” continued Ms. X, “the state gaming board of Missouri recently…”

I didn’t even get a response, Ms X continued to defend her stupid national gambling interests, and it was like I never called.

Thus ended my obsession with calling in to my favorite shows. Every once in a while, my hand will start to reach for the phone during an interesting topic, but now that I’ve erased Talk of the Nation, the Diane Rehm show, and Radio West from my speed dial, the moment passes more quickly. I’ve realized that while listening to NPR can make me smarter, it does not make me an expert on anything, and in reality, nothing so interesting ever happens to me that anyone cares to hear about it over the radio.

Just one piece of parting advice: if you do want to call in to a radio show, make sure you don’t go up against anyone from the gaming commission. You’ll lose every time.

P.S. I literally cringe when I hear callers start off their question or comment with “Long time listener, first time caller…” That is so AM radio….

Monday, November 22, 2004

The Ebeneezer Scrooge Paradox That is My Life

I am by no means stingy. Except at Christmas. I used to be a little afraid of the sterile, non-party, non-gift giving environment of the Jehovah's Witnesses, but I am beginning to see the logic. I think they have just figured out how to handle the holidays.

Although movies and books and church repeatedly demonstrate the TRUE meaning of Christmas, I am still not fooled. Christmas is about buying crap packaged in Christmas-y themes. As much as I LOVE the Life-Savers variety pack packaged like a Victorian novel, I hate the manipulation.

And how many of us really deserve gifts? I deserved a really nice gift on July 23rd and again on August 18th. But I extra don't deserve a gift right now. I just spent an insane amount of money on fat clothes.

But think about it... think about Christmas morning and giving nobody nothing. It's just not practical in the family/social relations department. You would be pissed if all you got from me was a form letter thanking you for your charitable donation to your favorite charity. You would be pissed and you know it.

The best catalog I have received all year was for purchasing farm animals to various regions of the world. For instance, you can purchase guinea pigs to be donated to a family in Ecuador, ducks for a family in China, water buffalo to an Indonesian family in need. There were also animal "gift baskets" intended for an entire village. But the best and most delightful option of all was "The Ark." And it was everything that it implies: chickens, cows, goats. ducks, guinea pigs, buffalo, etc. Now that would be Christmas. My only question do you wrap a water buffalo?

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Getting the Initial Awkwardness Out of the Way

I have toyed with the idea of starting a blog since a friend of mine confessed that she read the blog of her husband's ex girlfriend compulsively. The explanation of why that got me interested is lengthy, and since I'm new at this and therefore lazy, the long explanations may come later. Suffice it to say, I secretly want someone (preferably a stranger) to compulsively read my blog.

I actually see this as a personal challenge: 1) write again 2) write to be read by others 3) be amusing 4) be interesting. Most of the reasons for doing this are purely selfish (if I get better at this then the reasons will become purely egotistical...I hope). I have been feeling my brain get mushy. Best case senario, this will be exercise for my mind.

I will try to work out all the awkwardness as un-publicly as I can so that you (and I) will have maximum enjoyment.

Todd told me he would tell me if this gets dumb.