Monthly Archives: June 2009

I Call for a Moratorium on Jokes About …

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I respectfully suggest that comics and pundits declare a moratorium on jokes at the expense of unfaithful politicians. This moratorium is only valid if these conditions are met:

  1. The politician has, in the past, proclaimed loudly and often that Politician X or Politician Y must resign because of his/her infidelity, then does not resign
  2. The politician has run one or more past campaigns on a platform of family values or religious piety
  3. The politician infidelity was not with either Jon or Kate
  4. The politician confesses his/her indiscretions on live television (Fox News does not count) between 8am and 6pm tomorrow, June 25, 2009

Goodbye, XM Radio

xm

Life is all about choices. Wise choices are especially relevant in these tough economic times. The people at Sirius-XM don’t seem to understand that.

I subscribed to XM Radio years ago for $12.95 a month. The music was good and varied and I could listen to it at home, in my car and on my XM boombox. All that hardware only cost $80 so I figured the monthly fee was reasonable.

Recently, however, I noticed that the XM DJs seemed to be talking a lot more between songs. The sole purpose of a DJ, I thought, was to tell you the name of the song and the artist. This was redundant on XM Radio because the song and artist are listed right there on the unit.  They got more and more annoying, pushing me towards channels I had no intention of ever listening to.

What pushed me over the edge and made me choose to cancel my XM subscription was an email I got yesterday. XM was “passing along” a $1.98/month U.S. Music Royalty Fee to me. The ridiculous thing was they they went out of their way to insist it was not a price increase. I would be paying $14.93/month for XM but there was no price increase involved. Absolutely absurd!

I have an iPhone and apps for Pandora and AOL Radio. Wait a minute … that’s free Internet Radio anywhere I go. Just listen. Or plug in earphones and listen. Or dock it and listen through my Sony amp and Bose 901 speakers. Free. No cost.

In the end, it wasn’t a difficult choice. But that didn’t mean unsubscribing from XM would be easy. While you can subscribe and add radios over the web, you cannot cancel there. You have to talk to a live person. The reason for this was made clear after waiting 25 minutes for my turn in the queue.

Ben, my customer care rep, listened carefully to my request to cancel. Then he put me on hold for a couple minutes. He asked me why I wanted to cancel. I told him the subscription price increase (yes, I was baiting him) upset me. He put me on hold for a couple minutes. When he returned, he explained that it wasn’t, in fact, a price increase but rather a U.S. Music Royalty Fee. “That’s just PR BS,” I answered. “XM used to cost me $12.95 a month. Now it cost $14.93. That’s an price increase in any language except PR.”

Ben put me on hold again. When he returned on line he had a special offer for me. Three months of XM free. I said no, thanks.

Ben put me on hold again. When he returned on line he had a very special offer for me. Seven months of XM free. I said no, this time without the politeness.

I wonder how many more Sirius-XM Radio subscribers will choose to cancel out because of the company’s ridiculous decision to increase prices at a time when consumers are looking for ways to cut back.

Now there’s a choice: spend $14.93 a month on subscription radio or spend nothing for Internet radio. Not a very difficult decision, is it.

Don’t Eat at Olive Garden!

I never thought I’d say this, but I’ll never eat at the Olive Garden again. And I urge my friends in cyberspace to avoid it as well. Not because their food is mediocre. Not because they apparently treat their employees very badly. But because they caved in to the Far Right and pulled their ads from David Letterman’s show. They have every right to make that choice … just as I have the right not to eat at their restaurants. I feel sorry for the people who work there and don’t make the PR decisions, but the only way these companies will learn about free speech is to get hit where it hurts — on the bottom line. For those in the Rancho Mirage area, if you feel like doing Italian, try Risorante Donetella, Massimo’s, Alberto’s, Johnny Pasta, or my absolute favorite, Amici’s.

Franky Fly’s Away From Home

A Short Book About a Long Life

by Waverly Huff

Chapter 8: Travels With Franky

For the next couple of weeks, Franky Fly traveled far and wide throughout the United States of America.

After his first experience on an airplane, he learned that it’s easier to get on with the clean-up crew. They busied themselves with picking up trash and loading food. They never noticed a fly clutching a tiny little backpack hiding in a dark corner.

In Boston, Franky Fly met a very smart grasshopper named Gladys on Boston Common. They had a lovely lunch and then went on a Duck Tour of the city and harbor. The driver of the amphibious bus wore a silly costume and was very funny.

In Memphis, Franky Fly visited Graceland, the house that once belonged to the King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley. There were lots of humans outside the gates taking photos. Everyone was very quiet and respectful … so quiet that Franky Fly could hear a very soft voice singing.

He flew around and found the source of the song – a beautiful green cicada with transparent, reddish wings.

“That’s lovely,” Franky Fly said when the song was over.

“Thank you,” replied the cicada. “My name’s CiCi. What’s yours?”

Franky Fly and CiCi Cicada had a long and very interesting conversation about all sorts of things. Franky Fly learned that CiCi had an extremely long life cycle of 13 to 17 years.

“Wow,” exclaimed Franky Fly. “That certainly is better than 21 days.”

“Don’t let it get to you, Franky Fly,” chirped CiCi. “It’s not how long you live, it’s how much you live that matters. And it certainly sounds like you’re having a wonderful time traveling all over and seeing the most remarkable sights.”

Everywhere he went, he made more and more friends.

In Chicago’s Millennium Park Franky Fly met Benny Beetle and his life partner Barry. The three of them stared at the giant silver bean for hours, lost in its reflections.

Franky Fly spent half a day in Kansas City, Missouri … and the other half of the day in Kansas City, Kansas. A wasp named Willie tried to explain the “same city name – two adjoining states” deal to Franky Fly. Willie Wasp finally gave up in frustration, admitting that perhaps he really didn’t understand it either.

In New Orleans he visited the French Quarter and spent an illuminating day with Montague Mantis. Montague prayed a lot but otherwise was very sociable.

Timothy Termite approached Franky Fly at the Alamo in San Antonio. He wore a very small cowboy hat and chewed on a matchstick. Franky Fly thought he was cool … except for the whole eating wood thing.

Little Rock … Santa Fe … Denver … Colorado Springs … Los Angeles … Seattle.

Somewhere along the 19th day, Franky Fly arrived in Las Vegas. Like many visitors to the city, he thought he had seen it all and done it all.

No way, José!

José was a honeybee who lived at the Wynn resort on the Las Vegas Strip. He and a few hundred of his close personal friends had formed a hive under a ledge outside the parking garage.

José Honeybee was a friendly sort, and gave Franky Fly a tour of the city.

They saw the Bellagio Fountains light up, the waters moving to the music. They went inside the casino to experience the most beautiful flower garden Franky Fly had ever seen.

At the Shark Reef in the Mandalay Bay Hotel, Franky Fly and José flew down a transparent tunnel surrounded by fish, sea turtles and even sharks.

They saw the “volcano” erupt at the Mirage, the pink flamingos in the Flamingo Garden and The Star Trek Experience at the Las Vegas Hilton.

But the best part of the tour was José. He was a natural comedian, with a sense of comic timing found in few insects. Franky Fly laughed every time José called someone “honey” or said “mind your beeswax” or “who do you think you are, the Queen Bee?”

It wasn’t until Franky Fly went to sleep that night, on a tree branch near José’s hive, that he remembered the next day was his 20th.

(To be continued)