We’ve Got Valentine’s Day Licked: Sex Shops and The Nordstrom Effect

It happens out here (most recently, at a Culver City sex shop near the home of a woman I was dating), it happened back East, it happens everywhere.  You walk into a sex shop, begin browsing, and, within two minutes, a young Goth staffer comes over and says, “I use this at home, and I really love it.”  Then she proceeds to give you a sexual symposium on the merits of German vs. Japanese (and I don’t mean cars), furry vs. metallic, water vs. oil, etc.  The problem is, we didn’t ask.

I call this The Nordstrom Effect.  It reminds me of those Nordstrom salespeople who, though typically not young nor Goth, are just as overly helpful as the sex shop girls.  In both cases, what starts out as accommodating quickly becomes annoying.

At Nordstrom, I think the salespeople do this because (1) commission is likely a big part of their compensation; and (2) they want to uphold Nordstrom’s well-deserved reputation for excellent customer service.  However, at the sex shops, I think it’s nerves.  Specifically, the salespeople and their managers figure that many customers in their stores are uncomfortable and in need of hand-holding.

And sometimes they are right.  I’m sure there are many people — perhaps women more than men, if this series is an indication — who feel shy about striding into sex shops and picking out personal items.  (Guys often have their own problems in other stores, such as when picking out lingerie for their women).

The cure for The Nordstrom Effect, and the shyness which may cause it, can be found online.  There are tons of Internet retailers out there, such as Adam and Eve , 123 Adult Store, and Sex Toy Sex.org (links NSFW, obviously), where you can shop in the privacy of your own home.  Moreover, some of the Los Angeles area shops profiled in this series provide online shopping as well.  Many of the well-known sites will send your items in discrete packaging designed not to raise the red flags (or any other parts) of nosy neighbors and pervy postmen.  Coincidentally, I met one such retailer the other night, the woman who runs the Los Angeles-based Sex-Butter.com (not to be confused with Mr. Zog’s Sex Wax for your surfboard, unless you are using “surfboard” as a euphemism), who sells her products primarily online.

Of course, it is a fun experience to grab your sweetheart or friends and check out a sex shop or three in the flesh, whether as a bona fide shopper or simply a tourist.  Our writers in this series have done just that, profiling some of the sex shops they like in the Los Angeles area.  However, if avoiding The Nordstrom Effect is a priority, then shopping online might be just what the Naughty Nurse ordered, on Valentine’s Day or any other day.

[Part of blogging.la’s “We’ve Got Valentine’s Day Licked” series]

Police Tape Got You Down? Find Out What’s Up!

LAPD Bomb Squad by Clinton Steeds (2009)

I came home this evening to find a lot of police activity in my neighborhood and had to do a little detour. I realized that the happenings were pretty close to my street. In fact, one end of my street, about half a block from my house, was yellow taped off. I really wanted to find out what was going on, but wasn’t too keen on wandering over to the scene. I learned some basic information from a neighbor (suspicious package, homes evacuated), but I wanted to follow the progress.

Someone suggested I go to an online police scanner, which hadn’t occurred to me. I found what looks to be a pretty good resource. Radio Reference.com’s Los Angeles County page has live communication feeds from a variety of police, fire, and EMS departments. I tuned in to the Los Angeles Police and Fire-San Fernando Valley Divisions broadcast and  learned fairly quickly that the situation was resolved and that the “resources” were being released. In a relatively short period of time, I heard all kinds of things from animal bites to suspects being apprehended. I know I’m not the only one who get frustrated when up-to-the-minute info is not readily available, even on Twitter. You might want to bookmark this one.

OK Go Video Release Party TONIGHT

OK Go performing at USC Conquest 11/21/09 Photo by Jodi

If you’ve been anywhere near the internet this week, you’ve probably seen the new, innovative video from local band OK Go. The group is well-known for its viral one-take creations, most notably “The Treadmill Video,” in which the guys did a fairly complicated routine on four treadmills for their song “Here It Goes Again.”

To promote their third studio album Of The Blue Colour Of The Sky, which is a fantastic, Prince-inspired record, OK Go has pushed the DIY music video to a new level. Teaming up with L.A.-based creative powerhouse, Synn Labs, the band’s ambitious concept involving a massive Rube Goldberg machine was brought to life.

The engineers were tasked with creating the device with the requirements “that it had to be interesting, not “overbuilt” or too technology-heavy, and easy to follow.  The machine also had to be built on a shoestring budget, synchronize with beats and lyrics in the music and end on time over a 3.5 minute song, play a part of the song, and be filmed in one shot.  To make things more challenging still, the space chosen was divided into two floors and the machine would use both.” The geniuses of Synn Labs spent a few months in a warehouse in Echo Park creating a physical manifestation of the band’s vision.

Click through for details on tonight’s video release party in L.A and more

How the Internet is Spoiling My Olympics

I suppose it was inevitable.  This past year, social networking shot through the roof, with everyone and her grandmother (literally) on Facebook.  That is in addition to the explosive popularity of Twitter, as well as websites pumping out up-to-the-minute news 24/7.  At the same time, the old media NBC television network decided to tape delay its Winter Olympics broadcast on the West Coast, apparently three hours behind the East Coast, even though the events are taking place in our time zone.  And finally, as do many others I’m sure, I multitask when watching television, laptop in front of me, news headlines and social networks (and Vancouver Metblogs) never more than a click away.  All of these phenomena have come crashing together this month like a perfect storm, threatening to spoil my Olympics.

The problem is, I keep learning the results from these Internet sources hours before seeing them for myself.  I learned of Hannah Kearney’s mogul skiing gold medal, Apolo Ohno’s record-tying silver medal in speed skating, and the generous figure skating judges doling out high scores to skaters who fell during their short program, all before seeing it on tv.  I tried appealing to my Twitter peeps who aren’t located on the West Coast not to post Olympics results, but they seem to need to do so, as if their reactions won’t count unless shared electronically and immediately.

I’m sure some of you are more computer-advanced than I, and can tell us how to get a great webcast of the Games on our computer in real time, even on our big-screen hdtv.  If so, I would love to hear the solutions.  I investigated this briefly, and did not find a satisfactory solution — for example, the online ads I saw were even more annoying than those on NBC.

I’m afraid the only solution I have found to watch the Winter Games unspoiled by spoilers is the most radical solution of staying off the Internet altogether.

3 Days Left in Chase’s Community Giving Facebook Campaign — 6 L.A. Orgs in the Running for $1M

[youtube] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zLwzxr-DY5A [/youtube]

If you’ve been on Facebook in the last couple of months, then you might have been inundated with requests to vote in Chase’s Community Giving Facebook Campaign. With financial resources drying up for many organizations, this campaign has been a rare opportunity for non-profit orgs to come by cold, hard cash by simply leveraging their social media muscles. Out of more than a half million eligible organizations, the Top 100 vote getters in Round 1 have moved on to the final round of voting, which is happening now. Top 100 orgs are already the recepients of a $25,000 grant, but the top organization gets $1 million.

Six Los Angeles area organizations are in the running for the $1M: [links go to Facebook pages]

  • Center For The Pacific Asian Family Inc (Los Angeles, CA)
  • Hope For Paws (Los Angeles, CA)
  • Imaging Foundation (Malibu, CA)
  • Pancreatic Cancer Action Network Inc (El Segundo, CA)
  • Tiziano Project (Calabasas, CA)
  • Trevor Project, Inc. (West Hollywood, CA)
  • In the spirit of full disclosure, I have been supporting the Center for the Pacific Asian Family (CPAF) in this campaign, since I feel that their “big idea” has the greatest potential for immediate impact on those who are living in Los Angeles, right now. CPAF was founded to help address domestic violence and sexual assault in the Asian and Pacific Islander communities. Up to 60% of Asian and Pacific American women experience domestic or sexual abuse in their lifetime, and are the least likely to report the abuse. Since the economic downturn in 2008, domestic violence has been on the rise. With cutbacks in state funding, non-profits like CPAF are forced to turn away more callers trying to flee a violent home.
    Continue reading “3 Days Left in Chase’s Community Giving Facebook Campaign — 6 L.A. Orgs in the Running for $1M”

    Can ESPNLosAngeles.com Draw As Many Readers Away From LA Sports Outlets As It Has Writers?*

    ESPN’s new online hub for local sports, ESPNLosAngeles.com, officially launched today, providing a new source for LA Sports news, as well as a new home for several LA Sports writers, including the LA Times’ (former) Lakers bloggers.

    ESPNLosAngeles.comMeant as a hub for local online sports coverage one could set as their homepage, the site features SoCal-specific “SportsCenter” segments, local breaking news, and direct links to pages for all the major pro teams, including the Galaxy, Chivas USA, the LA Sparks, as well as the Angels and Ducks. There’s also a “Headlines” tab you can click to view nationwide sports headlines, in case you care about what happens outside of our little bubble. ESPN launched similar local sites for Dallas, Boston and Chicago earlier this year, and the sports network opened a new broadcast studio (along with an ESPN Zone sports bar) Downtown at LA Live this past spring.

    But the best part of the site is the local team blogs and columnists, providing quick-access to news and columns about your favorite teams that is also easy to subscribe to by e-mail or RSS feed to keep up on everything. The other ESPN city sites have Twitter accounts you can follow as well, but as of this writing, @ESPNLosAngeles exists but hasn’t tweeted a thing. The @ESPNLosAngeles Twitter account is also up and running, providing links to stories on the site. So far there’s a USC blog (but no UCLA blog yet), a Clippers blog (sort of – it links to the outside ClipperBlog.com, part of an ESPN affiliate network), and of course, that Lakers Blog, which is basically a direct transplant from the LA Times’ Lakers Blog. Brian and Andy Kamenetzky, who just yesterday afternoon announced their departure from LATimes.com, pick up at ESPN right where they left off, except now the blog is called “Land O’ Lakers”. The Lakers Blog was regularly one of the most-visited on the site, sometimes getting over a million page views per month. No announcement has been made yet as to who or what will replace the brothers at LATimes.com. It seems that, at least for now, a few different staff writers are taking turns contributing posts to the Lakers Blog to keep it going.

    Continue reading “Can ESPNLosAngeles.com Draw As Many Readers Away From LA Sports Outlets As It Has Writers?*”

    The Solstice with the Mostest

    Thanks to Beverly and Pack on Flickr - Creative Commons licence
    Winter Silence

    Tomorrow night is the Longest Night of the Year to snuggle up to someone warm.

    The Solstice is exact for us here in Los Angeles at exactly 9:47 AM this Morning. It’ll be the shortest day, and the longest night of the year. And that’s pretty much the story for the whole hemisphere.

    But in L.A. it’s at exactly 9:47 AM.

    See, my Pagan sensibilities come with a certain amount of anal-retentiveness. My Astrological curiosity comes with a little exactitude, ya dig?

    I mean, y’ever wonder exactly when sunrise and sunset happen on a particular day? Maybe exactly when a New or Full Moon is? Ever find yourself trying to do the math from Greenwich Mean Time, and wondering whether you needed to subtract an hour or not?

    Okay, probably not. But for all you amateur astrologers out there who aren’t ready to invest in their own telescope, or all you fledgling vampires out there who want to avoid bursting into flames or looking conspicuously sparkly, a few links for current Los Angeles data:

    Seasons, Equinoxes and Solstices
    Sunrise and Sunset
    Moonrises and moonsets (That’s Right.)
    Moon Phases
    Interestingly enough, (at least, if you read this far, I assume it is) the Griffith Park Observatory has a list of Moon Phases, as well. They differ slightly, by about a minute, on a few of the times. To be fair, the “Time and Date” website claims an accuracy of “within one minute,” so there yeh go. You can make you’re own decision about who has the final word. Personally, the Griffith folks are local, I been there, I’ma go by what the local kids say, but you do as you like.

    So, there it is. All the Loony info you need. Now if I’d just tell you something useful, like when it’s okay to park in a green zone. (Never, that’s my space on Sunday!) But that kind of thing only happens once in a Blue Moon.

    Which, incidently, occurs this year on New Year’s Eve. (At exactly 11:13 AM)

    Would you pay $13 a month for LA Times online subscription?

    LA Times has unveiled their new  eEdition, “a reproduction of the print edition– online” for $12.99 per month.  Considering that I just got a year of 7-day home delivery of the actual print edition for $75, or $6.25 per month, and they are offering print subscribers the online subscription at no extra cost, I’m wondering what the strategery is here.

    Access to its archives is one thing LAT is offering as part of the deal, and they are also touting that it’s available at 5:30 AM everyday, unlike the online edition, which is available the preceding midnight, contains much more news and, um, it’s free– for now.

    I guess this is a first step (and trial balloon) for the online paid subscription model we’ve been hearing about from other newpapers in dire straits– which means the vast majority of them.

    As a side note, PBS.org is streaming Inventing LA, the recent doc about the Chandlers and the LA Times. Worth a look.

    LA Derby Dolls: Worldwide Live!

    Watch the Derby Dolls from the comfort of your own Intertube.
    Watch the Derby Dolls from the comfort of your own Intertube.

    Tonight at 6:30, the Los Angeles Derby Dolls are taking the excitement of high-speed all-female banked track roller derby out of the Doll Factory in Historic Filipinotown and bringing it live to the entire planet via the World Wide Web.

    Varsity Brawlers (the pretty team) will take on Tough Cookies (last year’s champs) in a full-length exhibition game streamed live to your very own home, office, or car (if you’re on your laptop, parked down the street stealing WiFi.)

    Now how much would you pay? But wait! There’s more!…

    Have you seen the trailer for Drew Barrymore’s directorial debut, “Whip It?” I can’t wait to see it when it’s released this weekend. Barrymore, Ellen Page (“Juno,”) Juliette Lewis (“Old School,”) and other stars from the movie will be at the event for a post-bout Q&A. I’m told you can submit your questions online, too. There will also be a live half-time concert by Landon Pigg.

    All for the low, low price of…FREE. That’s right! All you have to do is log in to www.derbydolls.tv at 6:30pm and it will all stream right out of the internets and into your eyeballs and ear holes.

    I’m kind of excited about this, so there’s even more. Click the link and follow me… Continue reading “LA Derby Dolls: Worldwide Live!”

    Time Warner Cable Experiencing Area-Wide Internet Service Problems

    IMG_1150It feels like deja vu all over again.  If Time Warner Cable (Roadrunner) is your ISP, and you have been having spotty Internet service all week, it’s not simply that Mercury is in retrograde.  I have been having “server not found” problems all week, and called TWC tonight.  They said they are having an L.A.-area-wide problem.  They didn’t know if it’s hackers this time.  I demanded credit for my lack of service, and they transferred me to another department (accounts or billing) .  They then issued me a $15 credit for multiple days without full service.  I thought that was a generous offering, since it represents at least 10 days of service.

    Of course, that still doesn’t solve the service problem.  In the meantime, don’t forget to save your blog posts and other online writings in progress, early and often.

    (Travis, sorry for stepping on your post so soon, but I thought that, if others are being driven nuts by this problem like I am, they would want to know about this asap tonight.  And if I wait, who knows if I would be able to publish it at all?)

    God started fires with flammable gay juices

    With an About the Author bio that says, “If you don’t like what you just read here you can just get out of my country. Now how about that smart-alack. Follow me on twitters,” Christwire is such dry parody it almost passes for the real thing– a right-wing,  Bible-quoting site seeking to save America from The Gays and other “weirdos.”

    And they are loving the fires here in California:

    The lands were soaked with the combustible sins of perversions and marinated in the flammable juices of homosexuality! God is angry and his great power cannot be contained! …Fire falls upon California and great pillars of smoke shoots from his nostrils!

    The holy pillars of smoke from his nostrils are filling up the lands of California! They are the harbingers of doom for the homosexual gay fornicators of Satan!

    If you doubt this is satire (which is easy to do because Christwire has real ads for things like Ann Coulter books and a dating service called Christian Mingle,) a recent post called If You’re a Fantastic Pro-Family Republican, Does One or Two Same-Sex Encounters Really Make You Gay? asks, “If you have a great record fighting against the gays, doesn’t it cross out a few moments humping a younger man against the wall of some hotel room?”

    Top chef on marriage equality

    Tom Colicchio
    Tom Colicchio

    “The idea that religious leaders are continuing to shape state law is just wrong.”

    Remember last fall’s boycott of El Coyote restaurant in West Hollywood by supporters of same-sex marriage after it was learned an owner had donated money to the campaign to pass Prop 8?

    El Coyote had a sizable gay clientele on Thursday nights, the unofficial “gay night” at the restaurant, which packed the place. That all changed in the aftermath of Prop 8’s passing when the owner’s name appeared on donor lists that were available online and publicized by some media outlets.

    Demonstrators appeared in front of the restaurant, business fell off on Thursdays, the pilloried owner did herself no favors when she tried to explain herself, saying if she had a chance to do it all over again, she would do the same thing, citing her religious convictions.

    Such a mess for such a mediocre restaurant.

    Enter Tom Colicchio, Bravo TV’s Top Chef lead judge and owner of Craft, his first venture into the  Los Angeles restaurant world, located in Century City. Continue reading “Top chef on marriage equality”

    Hollywood liberals eat their own

    "I’m a blogosphere virgin. I don’t read blogs. Blogs feels like they’re a dime a bushel. They’re endless. Like cockroaches..."
    "I’m a blogosphere virgin. I don’t read blogs. Blogs feel like they’re a dime a bushel. They’re endless. Like cockroaches..."

    Out, gay-as-a-picnic-basket, proud, loud, blog-challenged and, by all accounts, liberal director Todd Holland inadvertently got sucked on to the Hollywood Liberal Shit List last week. However, the move looks to be temporary in light of his good-natured and at times bitchy response, in addition to being nominated this year for a directing Emmy for 30 Rock, the sitcom starring über-liberals Alec Baldwin and Tina Fey. His placement on the HLSL was further complicated by the fact that he got legally married to his partner last year before Proposition 8 was passed.

    How it happened: At a panel discussion about gay Hollywood, Holland answered a question about whether he would advise gay actors in Hollywood to come out. Leave it to some nasty bloggers to take his response and “twist or warp” his words into anti-gay remarks.

    The panel discussion took place at Outfest, the Los Angeles gay film festival held each July at The Directors Guild (a.k.a. Hollywood Liberal World Headquarters.)

    So now the LA Times, LA Weekly and those spiteful, overly-sensitive gay blogs manned by (to use Holland’s word) “cockroaches” are tripping over themselves as he trips over himself to clarify and over-explain what he really meant or really meant to say– or more likely wishes he hadn’t said at all in the first place.

    A condensed version of what played out… Continue reading “Hollywood liberals eat their own”

    Project Pushback marriage video contest names winner

    [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eJsxdi7d690&feature=channel[/youtube]

    This spring, the Gay and Lesbian Centers in Los Angeles and New York partnered to sponsor Project Pushback, a viral video competition aimed at changing public opinion to favor same-sex marriage.

    Out of 68 entries from across the nation, a panel of judges chose eleven finalists. Yesterday the winner who will receive a $2500 grand prize was announced, a video entitled Family Values created by LA-based filmmaker Andrew Putschoegl.

    “We received entries from across the country but most of them were from Los Angeles and New York, being film centers,” Thomas Soule, communications director of the LA Gay and Lesbian Center told me. “The contest spurred people to get very creative in their approaches to changing hearts and minds about the freedom to marry for same-sex couples.”

    Soule also said some of the entries will be shown at Outfest, the LA Gay and Lesbian Film Festival held each July at the Directors Guild in Hollywood.

    The videos are all polished and professional, running the gamut from testimonials from real people to vignettes written for actors. There’s even a Blair Witch Project parody, which won the $1000 People’s Choice prize. But my favorite is the one where the guy says– actually, I don’t want to give it away so you’ll have to watch it and see why. (It made me cry.)

    Los Angeles-based judges included Academy Award-winning producer Bruce Cohen (American Beauty, Milk); Rev. Art Cribbs Jr. of the San Marino Congregational Church; CA Assembly Member John A. Perez;  Kirsten Schaffer, Executive Director of Outfest,; Judy Starkman, co-owner of convergencefilms.com and Emmy Award-winning director and producer Paris Barclay (In Treatment, Cold Case, The West Wing.)

    View the eleven finalists here.