Thursday, December 15, 2005
Acutely conservative columnist Ann Coulter titles her latest editorial/pathetic rant, "Why Can’t I Get Arrested?" Considering that Arrested Development’s humor is intended for an intelligent and sophisticated audience, I’m not surprised that she doesn’t get it. If the show had a laugh track like traditional “comedies,” she might have a chance – but even then I’m not placing bets.
However, after clicking on the headline, Ann appears to be talking about actual incarceration. Heck, if Ms. Coulter wants to get thrown in jail, I believe that someone should oblige her. This is America after all – a land where people should be able to achieve their dreams. Especially if they’re born into the right echelon of society. The unlucky ones can fend for themselves. At least I think that’s one of the principle tenants of the ultra-conservative right.
The good news is that Ann is right on one front – there is a God. Because Arrested Development is in talks with Showtime to keep the show alive on its network. Let’s all pray this is true. In these troubled times, America is in desperate need of the comic relief provided by the delightfully dysfunctional Bluth family. Plus, if America lets the funniest comedy on TV get cancelled, then the terrorists really have won.
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
If your kids complain, just tell them that you’re playing Spiderman, and they are the unfortunate criminals caught in your web. Kids love make-believe. Especially when it concerns a superhero who has been embedded into the adolescent psyche through two heavily-promoted blockbuster movies.
Another ingenious addition to the holiday season is the inverted Christmas tree. Because God knows it was time for a change. Instead of whacking off all the bottom branches to make room for the presents, now you can take advantage of the tree’s natural shape to accommodate America’s over-indulgent gift-giving traditions.
Your new inverted tree will show your neighbors that you know how to obediently respond to a fashion trend. If purists complain, just tell them that you did it to make a statement about the true meaning of Christmas being turned on its head. Or something like that.
Monday, October 31, 2005
On a more sinister note, here’s a photo of Lee R. Raymond, CEO of ExxonMobil. A true face of evil, Raymond is not going to invest any of its record $10 billion third quarter profit in developing alternative energy. Be afraid, be very afraid. And don’t buy your gas at Exxon.
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
My passing grade was very reassuring given the fact that my highest level math course in high school was Algebra II and my only math course in college was statistics. While I did well in those courses, I felt no need to further my learning in that domain. Plus, we have computers for that stuff. Instead, I took to the written word, where humans still have the upperhand over computers. However, I do admit to having enjoyed the Shakespearean Insult Generator when the 'Net was still young.
The site offering the pop quiz churned out the following html to advertise my results and proliferate participation. Good luck.
You Passed 8th Grade Math
Congratulations, you got 9/10 correct!
Wednesday, October 05, 2005
Unfortunately, the paparazzi are a necessary evil that play a vital role in maintaining a core tenant of the U.S. Constitution – freedom of religion. Celebrity worship is as American as ignorance, excess and apple pie.
It’s true that the actions of the paparazzi have had some dire consequences – the death of Princess Diana being the most notorious. However, for all the celebrities they hound, you don’t hear of that many incidents – unless they involve Lindsay Lohan.
Sure, Lohan is a popular media target right now who is attracting her fair share of paparazzi, but there are lots of other stars out there pursued by aggressive photographers who don’t wreck there cars on a regular basis. One begins to wonder if part of the problem lies in Lohan’s driving abilities – or lack thereof.
I’m not saying that the paparazzi didn’t play a role, but if you see a black Mercedes convertible coming your way, you might want to give it wide berth.
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
These photos have been limited to dead specimens up until now. A Japanese scientist has finally caught one on film. And to that I say, “ahhh…cooool!” Click here for the story.
Wednesday, September 07, 2005
The faxes were addressed to me, in that they were addressed to everyone at the office. Apparently, there are some great stock deals out there. An obscure drug company is about to release a product, so time is running out to buy their stock. Plus, a contractor’s stock is about to go through the roof, thanks to construction demands caused by Hurricane Katrina.
Apart from the blatant insensitivity of using this national tragedy to promote a stock tip, who in the hell decides to buy a stock based on an unsolicited fax? Furthermore, who in the hell spends money on blasting out such faxes? A discounted Disney cruise, maybe, but a financial investment based on a faceless facsimile?
I would like to believe that there is a zero percent response rate on such things. I would like to believe the American people are smarter than that. Sadly, I’m sure that the same people who follow up on dubious financial investments with African dignitaries are likely to buy stock because the fax machine told them to.
Saturday, July 30, 2005
They say diamonds are a girl’s best friend, but I suggest that jewel cases come in a close second. All those glittery plastic cases with vibrant cover art, who could resist?! Given the sheer number of them hanging out by the stereo (arranged alphabetically AND categorically), it’s obvious that I am also quite susceptible to their charms.
The CDs began to beckon to Ella about two weeks ago. Ella promptly crawled over and sat down in front of the two towering racks. She quickly surveyed the collection, and then reached in. Now what happens next is exactly the kind of thing that makes an indie rocker dad proud. Out of the 300+ CDs, she picks out Interpol. The “Antics” album if you must know.
I think she rather enjoyed the high contrast cover art. So much so, that she quickly put it to her mouth to make the experience even more visceral. It could also be that she’s only 9-months old, and everything goes in her mouth. But who am I to question such things?
The next venture to the wall of CDs yielded a recent U2 album. Definitely not indie, but a respectable choice all the same. While it may still be too early to tell, I am encouraged by my daughter’s musical leanings thus far. Just today, she pulled out a Death Cab for Cutie album and then proceeded to crank the stereo while an Eels CD was playing. While I was concerned that she might have blown the speakers, I certainly couldn’t fault her for wanting to turn it up.
Saturday, June 25, 2005
And that’s what Batman Begins is, holy. Finally, after a wretched metamorphosis from dark, tortured gem to laughable comic farce, the ailing Batman franchise takes a right turn back to its roots. Batman Begins returns the Dark Knight to all his brooding, conflicted glory and performs a veritable check mate on its predecessors, save the original Batman with Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson.
As for the pathetic Batman Forever and Batman and Robin, I believe that George Lucas secretly talked to Warner Brothers about his new strategy for taking a wonderfully compelling franchise and turning it into a series of ridiculous kid movies - a tactic that he would soon perfect with the launch of Stars Wars Episode 1. But, I digress…
Batman Begins gets it right by focusing on the events and emotional trauma that gave birth to the brooding badass in the first place. Strong performances by Liam Neeson, Michael Cain, Morgan Freeman and Gary Oldman round out this solidly entertaining flick. You’ll notice that I didn’t mention Katie Holmes in the strong performances category. Not that she performed badly, but she wasn’t really given a chance to – and that’s fine, as it helped center the movie around Batman and not his flying rodent groupies.
Katie was nice to look at though, and that’s worth the price of the celluloid on which she appears. It must be really cold on set though, as Katie always seemed to be a bit chilly in her thin, clingy outfits. The same thing happened with Kirsten Dunst in Spiderman. Probably just a coincidence rather than some prurient scheme to sell more tickets to adolescent males. Probably.
Getting back to the film, I could yammer on about how Momento director Christopher Nolan kept the digital effects to a minimum in the fight scenes, and how the dialogue was just as entertaining as the frenetic action, but I won’t. I don’t get paid for this, so you’ll just have to see it for yourself. The bottom line is not to be scared off by the previous incarnations. Batman Begins is certainly worth your $9.
Monday, June 20, 2005
A couple of years ago, our good friends Matt and Susie were visiting with their 14-month-old daughter, Hannah. As we were chatting with Matt and Susie, their daughter had found the magazines on the coffee table. In particular, she was doing her best to leaf through a Communication Arts magazine.
We weren’t really paying attention until she let out a scream of delight and pointed to a particular ad. Apparently she had some experience in the subject matter. It was always my plan to send the photo to the company behind the generously clever ad, but I never got around to it.
Saturday, June 18, 2005
What I haven’t done is comment on how freakish Michael Jackson fans are. However, I’m not going to do that either, because Triumph the Insult Dog has already demonstrated it to a tee. You’ll need Real Player to watch this video, but this clip of Triumph interviewing fans outside the Santa Maria courthouse is worth Real’s notorious software nags. Enjoy.
Wednesday, June 15, 2005
OK, right about now you’re thinking, “Didn’t this guy just post something about ads,” and “He must spend way too much time looking through ads.” The answer to such astute queries is “yes” and “yes.”
I wouldn’t look at so many ads, if they would stop sending them to me. Somehow I inherited a grave malady from my family gene pool; it’s called bargain hunters disease. I have a hard time passing up a good deal. Luckily, I’ve also been endowed with an ample portion of common sense, which keeps me from buying useless crap. I’m proud to report that I’ve never bought an “As seen on TV” product – not matter how many aluminum-can slicing Ginsu knives they throw in.
Getting back to camping and the Target ad, it was my afore-lauded common sense that turned me on to something a little strange. The first thing I noticed was the family tent they were advertising. This particular family tent took to heart the notion that pets are part of the family, because right there protruding out of the side was a doggy tent annex. Don’t get me wrong; I love my dog. In fact many a random banter has professed such affection. However, I’m certainly not buying a tent with a canvas-covered canine corral.
I don’t know why I’m so shocked about the existence of such a product. Americans don’t even know what the term “roughing it” means anymore, so why would they expose their pet to such an archaic concept. Instead, according to Target’s brand merchandising team, Americans want to update the camping experience with luxuries from home. This is evident in Target’s ad for the Eddie Bauer Family Tent. Apparently, Eddie Bauer is such a workaholic that he can’t leave his computer home when he’s out camping with the family. Yes, that’s a computer monitor you see inside the tent (see first image). At least Mrs. Bauer has accented the computer with a nice vase of fresh cut flowers.
My gripe ends with the Coleman inflatable love seat. If you’ve been able to successfully persuade your significant other to go on a romantic camping trip with you in the woods, the mood will be hurt, not enhanced by the introduction of an inflatable love seat. If that’s your idea of romantic camping, save the $22 and spend it on a case of Pabst Blue Ribbon and get drunk on the couch watching a Jerry Springer marathon.
Saturday, June 04, 2005
While ‘creative’ might seem a positive adjective to describe these gifts, I use it more to describe the outlandish and useless products that suddenly appear this time of year in mall stores around the nation. For example, who really needs an all-in-one TV, radio, flashlight, warning light, car battery charger and bottle opener device? I admit that guys are harder to buy for than women, but that doesn’t justify buying a cheap plastic gizmo whose dubious future lies in a leaking landfill in Nevada.
Luckily, it’s easy to avoid the pointless, made-in-China trinkets – just steer clear of the center aisle display at your local department store. As you venture away from the road-most-traveled, take a look at a nice shirt or watch – always good gifts if you have insights into the deserving dad’s fashion sense - or know what it should be.
A recent Father’s Day-themed direct mail advertising piece from Macy’s offered up numerous suggestions for dads that ranged from trendy clothes, sleek shoes, musky fragrances and striking timepieces. I enjoyed the deliberate photography choices that showed ‘model’ dads with ‘model’ children.
The cover of the Macy’s ad showed a father and child smiling together in their coordinating polo shirts. For good measure, that precious scene was replicated a few pages later with an ethnic flare. It was the next page that got my attention.
Advertising a cotton/polyester blend dress shirt by Kenneth Cole, a model is seen cradling an infant while feeding him a bottle. This appears in the Father’s Day mailer, so such a scene is not out of the ordinary...had it not been for the expression on the dad’s face and missing ring on his left hand.
No Mona Lisa, the model’s expression in this portrait was easy to decipher. With pursed lips and the head cocked culpably to one side, the look on the model’s face issued a warning to all single, sexually-active males out there – use protection. The expression was so clear it was as if he was sitting across the table from you saying, “Yeah, I was stupid and got a girl knocked up. Now, instead of hitting on some lingerie models from the Mother’s Day shoot, I’m here taking care of a baby.”
As this dialogue played out before me, I instantly placed some well-deserved respect with the Macy’s organization. At least they were trying to be honest in their advertising and were able to convey a socially-minded message at the same time. In order to reward their honesty, I encourage you to go out to Macy’s and get that dad a nice cotton/polyester blend shirt or stylish chronometer – just stay clear of the center aisle displays.
Tuesday, May 17, 2005
Their wicked plan would involve reviewing all of the ensuing posts to see if there were any discrepancies between the amount of songs you report to have on your hard drive and the amount of disposal income reported on your most recent income tax filing. On the other hand, what good is living without a little risk?
Surprisingly, the most difficult part of this task was coming up with the list of relay partners to take the baton. Unfortunately, a vast majority of my friends are not as fanatical about music as I am. Their loss. Luckily, I came up with just enough friends to satisfy this meme's stringent requirement.
I would also like to acknowledge, that unlike my dear friend Douglas, I have provided music links that are accessible to anyone – not just members of the iTunes Music Store. Yes, I love music, and I don’t use iTunes. Let the flaming begin.
Total volume of music on my computer:
17.8 GB (3,647 songs, 13.4 days of music) It’s funny how one’s collection grows.
The last CD I bought:
"Elevator" by Hot Hot Heat. Although, it’s really a tie, since I also bought Ben Folds' "Songs for Silverman" at the same time.
Song playing right now:
"From Which I Came" from the new Eels album, "Blinking Lights and Other Revelations."
After firing up Musicmatch, I discovered it in the New Music section. I know all of you iTunes fanatics probably follow Steve Jobs’ cue and eschew subscription services, but they’re wonderful for trying out new music. It has saved me from many a misguided one-hit-wonder purchase.
Five songs I listen to a lot, or that mean a lot to me:
Narrowing this down to five songs is really impossible, but these five came to mind first:
- “Saturday” by Soulwax
- “Fake Plastic Trees” by Radiohead
- “Sink to the Bottom” by Fountains of Wayne
- “Not the Same” by Ben Folds
- “Stick Shifts and Safety Belts” by Cake
Thursday, May 05, 2005
Apparently, a lot has changed these past few hundred years, for it now seems they are on a different kind of mission to create discord in marital harmony. This theory stems from my experience with their eponymous breakfast cereal.
Now you might be thinking that this argument relates to dad wanting to feed his kids sugar cereal, while mom vies for more healthy options. No, that is a conspiracy that involves the entire cereal community. (There’s a reason why one of the villains on Buck Rogers was named Kellogg)
What Quaker is doing is much more subtle, and dangerous. My wife and I try to eat the more healthy cereals, but now and again we succumb to temptation and get some crazy sugar cereal like “Quaker Honey Graham Oh’s.” I know that to consumers of Fruity Pebbles and their ilk, Honey Graham Oh’s is a sissy sugar cereal, but those 12 grams of sugar per serving pack a wallop. There’s a reason why they’re called “Oh’s” and not “O’s” – pure, sugary ecstasy.
Alas, my sugar high has veered me off course from informing my humble readers of the non-caloric dangers of Quaker Honey Graham Oh’s. Quite simply, Quaker’s nefarious plot involves the packaging. At first glance, the inner bag is not noticeably different than other inner bags that call a cereal box home. And that’s the problem; because that’s exactly where the trouble lies.
Apparently, Quaker has taken a cue from potato chip manufacturers to create a bag that is unable to be opened without bursting open in a jagged, non-uniform, stale-inducing mess. This is quite surprising given the many advances in inner cereal bag technology. All other cereal bags open so easily by gently pulling apart the lips of the sealed plastic opening. By creating the one bag that defies this valuable convention, Quaker strikes at the heart of the American family.
The typical marriage bruising scenario goes something like this (at least that’s how it went for me):
- Wife tries to open package of Quaker Honey Graham Oh’s and rips the bag apart sending Oh’s to a horrible death by the family pet
- Husband assumes wife’s incompetence and chides her for ripping bag open improperly and jeopardizing the future freshness of the cereal
- Husband reminded of wife’s whole granular failing each time cereal is consumed
- Months pass and sugar drains from system requiring another box to replenish reserves
- Husband rips the bag apart sending Oh’s to a horrible death by the family pet
- Wife saying “See, I told you so! There is something wrong with Quaker Honey Graham Oh’s packaging!”
- Husband unable to chide wife for months to come without being reminded of prior incident.
Not a pretty scene, to be sure. Let my experience be a warning to cereal imbibing households, and a plea to the Quakers to take the “Oh no’s!” out of their Honey Graham O’s and end their assault on the sanctitude and sucralosity of marriage.
Friday, March 18, 2005
At first I thought it was a Muzak® version, but no, it was the actual song – validated by a glorious chorus of pirate voices extolling the virtues of the pirate life. Knowing that supermarkets choose their shopping soundtrack very carefully to ensure maximum impulse purchasing, I began to wonder what the revenue generating value was for this particular ditty.
Were they running a sale on rum? No, a quick survey of the liquor aisle answered that question. Unless modern pirates have a penchant for cognac or mudslides, there had to be another reason.
Perhaps they were appealing to the kids, but if so, the rest of the repertoire didn’t support that theory. Last time I checked, kids weren’t into sappy 80’s loves songs from Phil Collins and his ignominious ilk – American Idol performers excepted.
I’ll probably never know why a song advocating the lifestyle of thieving murderers was playing in Vons (or in a Disneyland theme park attraction for that matter), but I was sincerely tempted to walk out with a bottle of rum under my arm. If they stopped me for shoplifting I would simply reply, “Hey, it’s the pirate life for me too.”
*Own it today on Disney DVD.
Saturday, February 12, 2005
I also enjoy the culinary arts more than the sportive variety, which is what I was doing when this particular thought came to me. There I was eating a voluptuous pollo asada burrito at a local Mexican restaurant, when I noticed a gentleman in a booth ahead of me wearing a baseball cap. Of course, that is not altogether interesting, as an incredibly large percentage of the population wears baseball caps. However, one aspect of this particular hat struck out at me – the official logo of the NFL emblazoned on the back.
I then began to wonder why only baseball’s headgear has crossed over into the mainstream, and to such a degree that a competing sporting activity would use such disparate equipment to advertise its own brand. You certainly don’t see the average Joe wearing a football helmet to a burrito joint. In fact, the notion of such a thing is quite silly, and that’s when it hit me. As one of the least athletic sports out there, it only makes sense that baseball’s equipage would serve the general populace just as well as its grossly overpaid players.
Before you baseball fans get all hot under the collar, I will acknowledge that pitchers are required to be in tip top shape, and homerun sluggers do have to supplement their steroid use with a weightlifting regime. However, apart from a few curls at the local gym, baseball players can have a physique that mirrors the two thirds of Americans who are overweight. Of course, I acknowledge that it’s probably hard to lose weight from playing the game. Let’s face it, there’s a lot more standing around then running around in a typical nine mind-numbing innings.
Some might argue that I’m being overly harsh or point out that I’ve been known to attend a game or two during the season. However, in my defense of the latter, I’m always more interested in the people-watching and overpriced hot dogs and beer. True, baseball does require talent, just not so much of an athletic variety – sort of like golf. And this is exactly why the baseball cap makes such an appropriate cranial accoutrement for the general masses.
In closing, I will admit that like many baseball players, I could also stand to lose a few pounds. However, until I do, I will enjoy wearing a baseball cap from time to time.
Sunday, January 23, 2005
Media coverage of this past week’s inaugural festivities for the swearing in of then president-elect* George W. Bush dominated the airwaves – from the preparations to the post-event analysis. While I agree that he needs to be sworn in (or at), I don’t understand the need for all the hoopla.
Didn’t we just throw a party for him four years ago? Plus, we’re at war, as Bush is so wont to remind us. He won the election on his fear mongering, so it only seems fitting that he should scale back the celebration as other war-time presidents have done. Sure, you could argue that he actually won the election this time, but there just has be a better way to spend $40 million.
Whoa there cobra. Before you get all hot under the collar, I know that the principal costs of the festivities are being covered by private donors, not taxpayers. But what if Bush said that he would still show preferential treatment to his favorite lobbyists if the money they donated was used instead to better equip our troops in Iraq? That seems like a win-win situation to me, and I’m sure the troops wouldn’t mind.
I would also like to note that the estimated $40 million doesn’t include the estimated $17 million in added security costs for the inauguration – and that money does come from taxpayers. It’s just a hunch, but I bet that Washington D.C. could have used that money for something else that would actually benefit taxpayers. Feeding the homeless instead of a few egos seems like a much more noble cause.
Normally, I wouldn’t have an issue with spending some money on a lavish presidential inauguration. The pomp and circumstance comes from a long tradition in U.S. politics, and the American people do like to get “all patriotic” from time to time. Heck, I probably wouldn’t have such an issue with the fact that Dubbya’s two inaugurations were the most expensive in U.S. history if we weren’t at war. But, we are. All of this extravagance seems to fly in the face of the American soldiers who are dying nearly every day in Iraq.
In the end, perhaps it’s only fair. George Bush hasn’t asked the American people at large to make any sacrifices during this time of war, so why should he make any? But therein lies the problem. If this war is truly just, then I believe our government should be asking us to make sacrifices – not just our men and women in uniform. If taxes need to be raised to provide our soldiers with the proper protective gear, then so be it. Plus, raising taxes might encourage the American people to pay better attention to our foreign policy decisions.
As I step down from my soapbox, I would like to clarify that I’m not saying that we shouldn’t have celebrated, despite my own political leanings. I’m just saying that a little moderation was in order. OK, I’m done now.
*president-elect may not be the usual designation for a second-term president, but I think it’s appropriate since he wasn’t really elected last time