Feb 26, 2013

Meet My New Friends

A while back I wrote to you about the many, many emails I received promising to make a certain body part, a body part that I don't happen to have, satisfy the ladies.  The language was coarse, the promises spectacular and bizarre.

I'm happy to report that I don't receive those emails anymore. Nary a one, well okay one: the Canadian Pharmacy can get me Viagra and Cialis.  With that one exception, all the spammers seemed to realize they were targeting someone with the wrong genetic code. Now? Now my spam folder fills with emails about weight loss. Does this mean the spammers actually did their market research? Can they see the roll around my stomach?  Are they watching me right now? Because yes, I do need to shed some pounds and inches.  Maybe I'll just get up and close the curtains.

Don't get the wrong idea. These aren't Weight Watchers or Jenny Craig promotions in my inbox. No, no, no, there are bigger names attached to these plans: Ellen DeGeneres, Britney Spears, Oprah, Salma Hayek, Madonna and the Kardashians all want me to read about their diets.  All I need to do is click on the innocuous-looking blue link and the path to a slimmer me will be revealed.

I also receive emails ostensibly from celebrities about celebrities as though the spammers think that piling on celebrity names will make my hand more likely to hover over the link and open their Pandora's box. Rachel Ray wants to know if Natalie Portman's diet is legit. Katy Perry wants to know the same thing about Reese Witherspoon's. Jessica Alba wants me to read up on Pamela Anderson's "Rapid fire weight loss."

No one wants me to "lose out" and they all want me to "lose it." Well, me too.  I'd like to lose ten pounds but I'm not going to click on their evil links.  Ditto for the notices that my Fed Ex package is ready for pick up at the post office or that the credit card I used for a generic hotel reservation on the fictitious Booking.com must be updated within 36 hours.  The most diabolical spam emails though, are the ones that look like Facebook notices.  They supposedly come from 'Support' and they tell me my profile has been updated.  They offer two options, click to view the notification or click to go to Facebook.  I'm guessing both doors open to the tiger.

And now I'm going to put all 821 messages in my spam folder into the trash, where they belong.

Feb 11, 2013

Ask Me Anything—About the Grammys

I don't usually watch the Grammys.  I never have. I think I tuned in once, got assaulted by alternating rap and country extravaganzas and decided I was better off listening to music I already knew and liked. Music didn't seem to improve by being placed in a metaphoric blender with every other genre. Plus there seemed to be about five million awards: Best Live Performance By a Jazz Band With Three Bass Players, Best Record Released in the Spring By a Single Artist Whose Birthday is in October, Best Pop Duet With a Cow, Best Triple-Platinum Roots Record By a Man With a Son Named Wayne.  The categories were endless. 

But this year, in keeping with my sole New Year's resolution—to pay more attention to the news—I figured the Grammys counted as news and I should tune in. If you're wondering about that New Year's resolution, I've had too many nights out with my friends during which they all start in on some topic: the depth of the Giants' pitching bench, the murder one town over, or the hearing on Capital Hill, during which I nod and make facial movements of concern or outrage, whatever seems to be appropriate for the words coming out of my friends' mouths. Then I go home and stick my nose in another book and continue my life uninformed about contemporary happenings.

Determined to be well informed, I tuned in.  Imagine my surprise to find that last night's Grammys show was (mostly) one beautifully produced performance after another by the biggest current stars in music. There were a few exceptions, including the pretty but underwhelming Taylor Swift. And most of the awards, like Best Recording Package and Best New Age Album, were given off the air.  Thank yous were short and fun, unlike the unfurled lists of agents, make-up artists, sound crews and grandpas named Buster that the Oscar winners always seem to have. It felt like t\here were only about ten awards total presented on air and the rest of the 3 1/2 hours were given up to music. Bravo. 

What did I learn, e.g. did the Grammys count as news? Well, of course the awards themselves are news. The nominees are pretty much by definition well known to a big part of the world, but I was starting at zero with a lot of these musicians. I'd never heard Rihanna sing.  Nice voice.  Frank Ocean, ditto.  He sang his odd and touching song, "Forrest Gump." At least one act I'd never heard of: The Lumineers, who performed their catchy Ho Hey. I may have to buy that cd.  http://thelumineers.com/  

Fun performed their rousing song "Carry On” while a mini rainstorm poured on the band and the stage.  The mother in me worried they would get electrocuted but they survived, wetter but probably cooler. Toward the end of the show there was the mandatory nod-to-artists-who-passed-away-since-last-year's-show, which concluded with an excellent tribute to The Band's Levon Helm, featuring Mavis Staples, Mumford and Sons, T Bone Burnett, Elton John and others doing a rendition of "The Weight." Well done.

So, go ahead, ask me anything—about the Grammys.  I'm on it. The sequester? I need a few days to get up to speed on that.