Oh, great. Just as I got used to writing "2011" on all my checks, now it's 2012. Good thing I am writing less of them these days (thank you, PayPal and automatic payment plans). So I was thinking--what resolutions am I going to make this year? Lose weight? Exercise more? Spend less, write more, yada yada yada. Sounds like a carbon copy (uh, does anyone make carbon copies any more?) of the last 5 or 10 years' lists. I could resolve not to make any more resolutions, but I seem to recall doing that several times too. So, I hereby resolve to catalog my pet peeves and list them here, should any of you identify with them (and confirm that advancing age--I'll be 61 in a couple of weeks--is not simply increasing my curmudgeon quotient).
1. Commercial radio, NARAS (the Grammy folks, of which I'm a member) and media defining "folk music" as pretty much anything on a major label played mostly on acoustic instruments (and that includes plugged-in acoustic guitars). So seminal grungefather Eddie Vedder picks up a ukulele and now he's suddenly a "folkie" (and gets nominated for a Best Folk Album Grammy)? Now every major-market rock or pop station can crow that they play "folk music" because they spin Eddie Vedder, Jack Johnson, Bon Iver (perhaps the most pretentiously misspelled pseudonym ever), She & Him (TV/movie star Zooey Deschanel and moonlighting rocker M. Ward) and "Monsters of Folk" (that side project of pop-rock singer-songwriters Ward, Bright Eyes--oops, Conor Oberst, and some other guy who temporarily tired of schlepping a heavy Les Paul around on stage). Even Folk Alliance's formal showcases are increasingly populated by former midlevel pop and rock stars who lost their major label contracts. And the final straw? SiriusXM, which had previously treated actual folk music as the embarrassing crazy-uncle-in-the-attic by assigning it just a single station, The Village (despite giving country, R&B, hip-hop, and rock dozens of channels--including channels devoted to one artist or rebroadcasts of a single mix show), in recent months removed it from the Sirius lineup. It was available only on XM or online (leaving people with Sirius-only car radios and no Aux-In or USB ports for cellphones suddenly folkless). So, after I complained to them about the idiocy of this move and the unfairness of denying Sirius subscribers our mobile folk fix, they agreed with me--the unfairness part, that is. They decided to rectify the situation by depriving XM subscribers as well of The Village. Only online subscribers can get it. And if you don't have a smartphone, nor the means to play it through your car stereo, tough. There's always public radio---the few hours a week it carries folk music in your area, never mind that on the road your odds of hearing folk radio during normal weekday hours are somewhat less than those of observing aviating swine.
2. GOP Presidential primary candidates (especially Newt Gingrich) accusing each other of not being true conservatives. Funny, I thought they were running for the Republican, not Conservative, party nomination. When was the last time you heard Democrats treat "moderate" as an epithet? We don't demand a liberal loyalty oath. How dare the GOP impose a litmus test and ban everyone to the left of Attila the Hun from being considered Republicans? And how dare half the voting public allow itself to swallow this nonsense just because their favorite right-wing pundits told them to?
3. Drivers who treat the speed limit as a mere guideline. Now, I'm not saying I always drive 55 (or faster, if a higher limit is posted). But there is something wrong when I'm doing 10 miles over the limit and being passed on the right (when I'm already in the right lane). And you just know that were I to follow their lead, I'd be the one getting the ticket.
4. TV stations that don't notify the TiVO folks and other DVR subscription services that they'll be pre-empting or delaying prime-time programming in favor of football, basketball, or GOP Presidential debates (of which there'll have been more this season than NBA games). Come to think of it, we can target webpage ads to individual users' "online cookie jars;" our new iPhones can wisecrack and flirt with us (Siri, you dirty girl!), and telemarketers or deliverymen can pinpoint the exact moment when we're at the peak of answering Nature's call. So why can't DirecTV or TiVO sense that a particular program isn't starting at its usual time, and record it not by published start and end times but by the actual program names? "Algorithm" ain't just the ex-Veep's profoundly Caucasian inability to clap on the 2 and the 4.
5. And this one's for the blood bank. Yeah, Dracu....uh, Lifesource, I'm talkin' to you. Ever since I was an impoverished undergrad unable to afford to donate more than pennies to charity, I did my tithe instead by donating blood--for no more reward than a thank-you, a little can of apple juice, a couple of stale cookies and a "Be Nice to Me, I Gave Blood Today" pin. First they cheap out on the pin and give you a sticker instead. Then, they reject you for having blood pressure a mm/Hg too high or low, a hemoglobin level one iota this side of borderline anemic, or even being half a pound underweight. Getting rejected as a gratuitious blood donor is bad enough. But now, they require you to make an appointment! Yup, that's right: rearrange your entire day up to a week in advance, deal with arthritis or a toothache sans your NSAID or aspirin for several days, run the risk of having to park a block or more away (in some neighborhoods, of not finding ANYWHERE to park), become a human pincushion, and still get rejected because your blood's one imperceptible shade of red too light. Tell you what, Lifesource--you want people to give you their healthy safe blood for free? How about letting them walk in off the street at their convenience, not yours. It's not like we're demanding to be able to waltz in 24/7, just during your regular hours. But it's not like you're doing us any favors at the time either.
Then there are the hypocrites who blame fat people for eating all the wrong things yet make the right foods inconvenient and expensive to purchase; people too cheap to plunk down five bucks for layaway so they deliberately stash their size 2s in the size 22 racks (or the reverse) until they can afford to come back and buy them; supermarket self-checkout stands that malfunction and take longer than using a human cashier....
Got more? Let me know.