Category Archives: Tiny Annoyances

Craptacular

I love the Super Bowl, but I hate, hate, hate, hate, hate, hate hate Super Bowl halftime shows. There has never been one that I’ve ever wanted to watch, even if a band that I like is performing.

The halftime show is the crown jewel of the mind numbing excess that threatens to smother the game itself — and nothing would make me happier than to see it eliminated.

And it’s not just about hating the show — even though the music usually sucks.

A normal NFL halftime is twelve minutes long — but you can expect Super Bowl halftime to last upwards of 30 minutes. This is objectionable because all year long players get a short breather between halves; why change this for the most important game of the year?

OK, maybe that’s extreme. Perhaps we should allow some time to accommodate the eating and socializing folks like to do at halftime, so let’s compromise and say 20 minutes. BUT NO MUSIC! Instead, let’s have more analysis. More replays. More heartfelt features. Yes, make halftime more like pregame — which in my opinion can never be too long.

Speaking of the Super Bowl, I love those I’m Going to Disney World commercials as much as I hate halftime. Here’s the first one, with Phil Simms in 1987:

Don’t Cry for Me, Arhentina

One of the NPR reporters I hear all the time is Lourdes Garcia-Navarro. Her stories are always good — but there’s one thing that drives me batty: her meticulously correct pronunciation of Spanish words and names.

Her textbook pronunciations are mildly irksome, but when I heard Argentina come out of her mouth as Ar-hen-tina, I nearly choked on my Cheerios. Yes, she said Ar-hen-tina – not fifteen seconds after Steve Inskeep said Argentina in the intro.

Even more maddening, later in the story she uses the word Argentines with the normal English pronunciation. Why wouldn’t they be Ar-hen-tines?

You may think this is intolerant, but I’m speaking strictly in terms of good broadcasting.

For years, the BBC has had a pronunciation unit that sets rules on how its news presenters should say the names of people and places. Here in the US, the AP sends out pronunciation guides every day to help newscasters.

In America, radio and TV news operations should try to use standard American English pronunciations.  It may be more accurate to say Arhentina, but it’s distracting –  and it sounds terribly pretentious.

Hudson River Blues

Am I the only one who’s sick of hearing about Hudson?

Every time you turn around there’s another Hudson story in a national publication, several of which are summarized here by my friends at All Over Albany.

True, the Hudson phenomena is impressive. I remember when it was a charming wreck, back before the antique shops and overpriced restaurants (like the dreadful Swoon Kitchenbar) took over Warren Street. But now, Hudson has caught a bad case of what’s afflicted Columbia County for a long time: affluent New Yorkers.

Remember in Back to the Future II, how Biff has a copy of Grays Sports Almanac from the future? I wish back in 1993 I could have gotten my hands on some real estate magazines from today. I’d be writing a blog post about being retired at 52.

So what town is next? Catskill? Athens? That may be on the wrong side of the river for folks who want to take the train. Anyway, we should all thank god that Troy isn’t a bit closer to New York City.

The Roar of the Greasepaint

Do people have no idea how to act any more?

For example, I went to see Romeo and Juliet on Broadway. Not my first choice, but my wife has always wanted to see the Shakespeare classic performed — and since this production involved Orlando Bloom removing his shirt… well, you get the idea.

Anyhow, the family in front of us spent the entire first act busily rustling around with their snacks. I don’t know what they were into — pretzels, crackers, cookies — but it was feckin’ noisy.  My ears ain’t what they used to be, so the distraction made it hard for me to focus on the play. And it doesn’t help that I have a mild case of misophonia.

Now, everybody knows you should unwrap your snacks before the lights go down, so not to annoy the other patrons. That’s a theatre rule, rather like never mentioning the name of the Scottish play. You just don’t do it!

They quieted down, thank God,  in the second act. Maybe the parents — well-heeled Connecticut types — remembered their manners. Or maybe they caught wind of us grumbling during intermission.

Either way, were able to enjoy all the dying with a little peace and quiet. And the rippling abbs, too, if you’re into that sort of thing.

Achilles’ Heel

Do you ever look at things and wonder how dirty they are? You shouldn’t, because it will make you nuts, but just for the heck of it, let’s talk about the supermarket checkout conveyor belt.

Everything goes on there — from leaky chicken to God knows what. Maybe that’s not such a big deal until you notice your bread peeking out from the end of its paper sleeve.

bread

Revolting

If you love a crusty baguette, there’s nothing better than the heel, which has more crust than any other slice. But when you see your heel rubbing shoulders with the filthy conveyor belt, it loses some of its delicious appeal. Ack!

So why can’t they make sure the bread isn’t longer than the bag? My theory is that they do it on purpose to give the illusion that you’re getting extra bread — or it may simply be for the eye appeal of your loaf jutting out of the bag. Either way, the unintended consequence is that I want to cut off the end and throw it outside for the crows.

So, local supermarkets, with apologies to Abe Lincoln, how long should these bags be? Long enough to reach the end of the bread.

One Never Knows

You never can tell exactly what’s going on, can you?

A blogger at our local newspaper, Kristi Gustafson Barlette, recently wrote about an odd encounter she had with a woman at a local ice cream joint. The woman engaged her in conversation that grew progressively strange, culminating with the lady offering up a taste of her ice cream.

Several commenters pointed out that there may have been more to this incident than just the rambling of an intrusive old woman — that there may have been something causing her to act that way. Naturally, most other commenters were much less forgiving.

In my EMT class, we learned how medical conditions and physical or developmental disabilities may influence behavior. Drugs – prescription or otherwise – and alcohol are also common culprits.

This understanding doesn’t make the person less annoying, but it may instruct us on how we react.

The older I get, the more willing I am to consider that someone’s actions and behavior may be the result of something I know nothing about. A million things cause people to be the way they are, and often it’s simply the sum of their life experience. Hell, sometimes it’s just because they slept poorly.   Take a moment before you judge. It’s not easy, but you’ll be a better person for it.

Five Minor Annoyances

  1. Local broadcasters who refer to Albany as “the city of Albany.” For example, they’ll say, “a fire in the city of Albany overnight”, rather than just Albany. Look, if you say Albany, we understand that you are referring to the city, and not the county.
  2. Blog posts about not blogging. Nobody wants to read an explanation about why you haven’t posted anything lately. If you think that’s interesting, we should probably be grateful you haven’t been writing.
  3. And when did it become OK to peel your corn in the supermarket. Just bring it home and peel it there, OK.
  4. Leaf blowers. They are for cleaning up leaves, not clearing dust off your driveway.
  5. Giving my name when I order a drink at Starbucks — but if you insist, Carlos Danger will be my nom de latte.

Lost in the Supermarket

I like going to the grocery store, and since I do it all the time, certain rituals are part of my shopping behavior. For example, I have a very specific way of loading my groceries onto the checkout conveyor belt — but  chief among my shopping quirks is cart management.

I will typcally put my cart in an unobtrusive place and go get what I need. For example, in the vegetable department I’ll leave the cart out of the way and venture out to pick out my produce. Once my items are back in the cart, I’ll strike out again to the tomatoes or whatever. In the aisles I’ll put my cart somewhere that it’s not in the way.

Naturally, not everyone is on board with my techniques. The most annoyoing are:

  1. People who will not let go of their cart, dragging it around in front of them as they browse the aisles or pick out avocados. This is often practiced by women who put their pocketbook in the cart.
  2. Those who leave their cart in the center of the aisle.
  3. Shoppers who block the aisle by parking parallel to other carts.

I think we can all agree that if everyone did things our way, this would be a better world. Or at least the supermarket.

Paisans

What’s the point of having a blog if you don’t complain about things you find mildly irritating? Like people who pronounce mozzarella mozzrell, dropping the ‘a’ at the end.

I had thought this was largely done by Italian Americans who wish to emsphasize their street cred: mozzarell, manicott, biscott, prosciutt, and so on. The vowel at the end is dropped — but is this affectation or authenticity? Turns out, it’s complicated. This from a 2004 New York Times story:

In some parts of Italy, the dropping of final vowels is common. Restaurantgoers and food shoppers in the United States ended up imitating southern and northern dialects, where speakers often do not speak their endings.

So, like many things, it depends on your neighborhood — but dropping the ending is not universally more Italian than pronouncing it.

Me? I’ll never do it, simply because when I say the words that way I feel like an idiot.