Saturday, February 10, 2007

Dicks of All Sizes, Shapes and Colors

NEW YORK - In the sensitive post-wardrobe malfunction world, some are questioning whether a guitar was just a guitar during Prince's Super Bowl halftime show. Prince's acclaimed performance included a guitar solo during the "Purple Rain" segment of his medley in which his shadow was projected onto a large, flowing beige sheet. As the 48-year-old rock star let rip, the silhouette cast by his figure and his guitar (shaped like the singer's symbol) had phallic connotations for some.
NFL Spokesman Greg Aiello said that the NFL has received no complaints. "We respect other opinions, but it takes quite a leap of the imagination to make a controversy of his performance," Aiello said. "It's a guitar."

Of course it is. But it's a guitar because you KNOW it's a guitar. Suppose you just cut to it after a play or something; then what would you think it is? Phallic symbols are nothing new. They are present in our everyday lives. Here are four that you might recognize:

Coming Soon to a TV Near You

LOS ANGELES - You knew this was coming. The strange saga of the astronaut who traveled 900 miles to allegedly try to murder a rival for the affections of a fellow astronaut will be turned into a movie. Granada America has optioned the film rights to a New York Times article on Lisa Nowak, 43, who was arrested Monday and charged with attempted murder.

These are the same people who brought us "Nanny 911" and "Hell's Kitchen", so you know that quality will be their first priority. Right.

There's an old saying that goes: Nobody ever lost money underestimating the intelligence of the general public. It's also true that they don't lose money when they capitalize on others' misfortune. Books, movies and TV shows. And that whole O.J. nonsense....

"The chronicle of Lisa Marie Nowak has had a global impact and contains almost every dramatic element possible," Granada America CEO David Gyngell said Friday. "One could not imagine a more compelling story."

Yes, one could, if one hired a writer and decided to think up something original. Or, if you told the true story of someone who succeeded at something, or achieved something. Those are compelling, too. I'm so tired of the entertainment media profiting from misdeeds and misfortune. I only wish they were as tired of it as I am. The ink on her bail bond wasn't even dry before you bloodsuckers jumped on it. I suppose you figured you'd better, before the next bloodsucker did. Spend the money on a prostitute who will give you a good dose, and then we can make a movie about that, dick pump.
If you look up "compelling" in the producer's guidebook, you'll see that it means "profitable". Hey, why bother thinking when you can re-tell something [with dramatic overtones added for effect] that you will say is BASED ON A TRUE STORY and profit from the misfortune of someone?

Sounds like a plan.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Please Remove Headphones Before Reading This

A post over on Sparky’s blog about banning the use of headphones at street crossings made me think back to the Marketing class I had at good-old Widener U. Really. Marketing is an interesting area of business, and it changes with the times. One thing that does not change are the people to whom we sell products. Here’s the theory we learned [drum roll]:

The Everett Rogers Diffusion of Innovations Theory. For any given product category, there are five categories of product adopters [Hold your applause until all the honorees have been introduced]:

  • Innovators – venturesome, educated, multiple info sources.
  • Early adopters – social leaders, popular, educated.
  • Early majority – deliberate, many informal social contacts.
  • Late majority – skeptical, traditional, lower socio-economic status.
  • Laggards – neighbors and friends are main info sources, fear of debt.

End of marketing lesson. What I’m getting at, in my own odd fashion, is that consumers have adapted to technology faster than the government or business. Case in point, my post from yesterday, when I bemoaned the fact that my Yahoo mail account had been blocked by people whom I refer to as the Internet Nazis (which may not be fair to the real Nazis).

I would place most consumers in the “early” categories, and most employers in the “late” or “laggards” category, which is where the conflict starts. Business has been slow to adapt to changes in technology that are used by their employees, who are consumers when they’re not working. Employers do not want to spend money to prevent something that consumers want, like e-mail at work. It’s an odd juxtaposition of wants, unless the employer is one of the innovators.

In 1975, when I started working, the big issue was personal phone calls. We used to get a copy of the company’s phone bill, and we had to check off our personal calls and pay the company for the charges. We spent an hour to find 40 cents.

Now, the issue is Internet usage. Same issue, different technology. Companies pay people in I.T. departments thousands of dollars to install spam blockers and regulate Internet usage, and they’re treated like war heroes. The trouble is, they were late to the party. It took them a long time to get a handle on what was happening, and their slow reaction time has made it difficult on the consumer (an employee when they’re working) to change a behavior that is now commonplace.

Napster, MySpace, Ebay and even blogging are all victims of slow adaptation by regulatory agencies. While consumers are quick to grasp onto the technology, the people in charge of overseeing have been either asleep or slow in recognizing what consumers want and how they will go about getting it.

Free music, for one, is a hot-button issue, which is surprising, since consumers have been griping about the high price of CDs for years. Fifteen bucks for an album that’s 30 years old? Why wouldn’t people want to download it free? After all, most of us already bought it at least once before, so we figure they are still spending that money, but the law wasn't put in place until well after consumers had grown fond of getting their music free. If business was really on top of things, they would have figured that out beforehand.

Meanwhile, we are going to have to persevere while lawmakers and attorneys figure out how they are going to deal with something that we have already figured out. In the meantime, there are going to be a lot of ridiculous laws made. In 25 years, we’ll be laughing at them, just as we laugh now at how, in parts of Kansas “all cars entering the city limits must first sound their horn to warn horses of their arrival” or that in New Jersey “it is illegal to delay or detain a homing pigeon.

This too, shall pass. Today’s e-mail is tomorrow’s homing pigeon.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Blogger Scrapbooking

A pair of human skeletons lie in an eternal embrace at an Neolithic archaeological dig site near Mantova, Italy, in this photo released February 6, 2007.
Archaeologists have determined that the skeletons were sharing a Snickers at the time of their death.

NASA Astronaut Lisa Nowak (C) with a jacket over her head, is moved from a bail bond office in Orlando, Florida on February 6, 2007.
I never really figured out the whole "jacket over the head" bit. Besides, it's not like everybody doesn't know who you are. Show your face, stand up and be proud. Your self-worth now has a dollar sign in front. I'm betting that the Depends people are going to start a whole new marketing campaign soon, and you could be their new spokes[person] ... spokes[jacket].
Somebody buy me one of these, so I never have to get up while blogging...

Roto-Rooter's 'Pimped Out John' in an undated handout photo. Roto-Rooter says its 'Pimped Out John' is designed to 'fulfill all your wildest bathroom dreams'. Special features include an iPod music player and speakers, an Xbox video game console, a refrigerator filled with drinks and snacks and a cycling exercise machine.

But the big story...

Bill Clinton served as the 42nd President of the United States from 1993 to 2001. Last month, the Beltway Elementary School in Washington, D.C. posed for their class picture. Aren't they cute?

Scenes from the Road

We got a quarter inch of snow last night, so it's panic time in New Jersey.

The side streets are a mess. People bitch about property taxes, and when the roads aren't salted and the intersections are skating rinks, they have every right to bitch. Meanwhile, the groove that's worn from the car tires is making me drive on the shoulder. Slowly, I realize I'm way over on the right. And the light is turning red. Jesus. Even the Goddammed roads are Republican.

HIGHWAY RULE #1 - The big triangular sign says YIELD. It's for the people on the on-ramp, not the people on the expressway. We're doing 70mph and the guy in front of me gets on the brakes to let somebody in. I'm multitasking. High beams and horn. If I could have gotten my shoe off, he'd have gotten "the toe".

Tire spew from the wet highway kept my wipers and washer fluid going for almost the entire drive. I needed to have one of those Air Force re-fueling planes riding beside me, filling my washer fluid. I'm probably going to get eye cancer from spraying that stuff on my windshield.

Meanwhile, Philadelphia Eagles coach Andy Reid's son Britt is getting hauled into court on his weapons and/or heroin charge. He's wearing a Hoodie and chewing gum. What. is with. the gum? The kid needs a shoe piece.

Now, I'm at work, **twirling finger in the air** where the Internet Nazis have pretty much shut down the service. Something called Websense has blocked DYNAMIC CONTENT, which means I can't get to my Yahoo mail, but I can get to the blog? I'm insulted. All this time, I thought it was dynamic. I was kidding myself. They have already blocked STREAMING AUDIO, so I'm stuck with static-radio or MUZAK. Pity me.
The bastards. I'm going out to my car to get my washer fluid. You'll next see me (in the hoodie) being hauled-in on Washer-Fluid Weapons charges. I think it's a misdemeanor in New Jersey.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Ignorance is Bliss

Over at Kate's, she asks the question “What’s the secret to happiness?” She asks many good questions, and reminds me of myself when I was half my age. My automatic reaction was to say I have no clue, but really, I do. I posted this comment:

I always felt like the mentally handicapped were happier than most people.

They generally aren't saddled with the stress of responsibility and the wants we have been told we want. Their needs are basic and met. Food, shelter and people. It's a simple existence.

I'm not saying I envy their life or anything, just that maybe we'd be happier if our lives were simple. To us, It’s sad that they have to live that way, but are THEY sad?

I suppose we don’t really know if they’re sad, or if they find themselves wishing they were like us, but I am like us (kind of) and I find myself wishing I was less like us. Really. I see them in the food court at the Mall, being happily led around with a content look on their faces, and I find myself wishing that I had a lot less to think about and more people around for support.

Think about all the junk and clutter we have infested our lives with in an effort to satisfy us. Does any of it really make us happier? Are we happier with all this stuff than we were before we had it?

I think about the happiest days of my life, and they were many years ago, before my life was infested with cell phones, Internet, mp3 players, big TVs and the general clutter that is associated with modern life. All that stuff is supposed to make our lives easier (or so they claim) but does it do anything but complicate it? Complications lead to stress, and stress makes us unhappy.

We struggle to pay for it all, worry about whether we have the latest and greatest [whatever it is] technology, while in reality, the life we had was just as good as the one we have, at least as far as the happy part is concerned. That’s why people generally talk about “the good old days” and reminisce about times long ago. It isn’t that they’re getting old, it’s that they’re getting smarter.

For example, the Super Bowl spawned the sale of thousands of high-definition TVs. Meanwhile, the game was played in the rain, with fuzzy camera shots and raindrops spoiling the beauty of the event. The complaints I have heard centered on the fact that all they got was high-def rain. The game looked better in low-def. More stuff, more stress and no satisfaction. Is anyone going to pine away for the good-old days of Super Bowl 41, when they paid $3000 for a TV and watched high-definition rain?

The trouble with living in my Utopian world of simplicity is that I would have to drop out of society in order to live that way. Modern life and the world as it is prohibits me from doing that. Before I knew what was happening, I got sucked in with the rest of you. I think it all started with getting a Social Security card, and went downhill from there. Our lives are inundated with clutter, products and so-called modern conveniences. All of those things clog up our lives and minds until we have accepted them as a part of us, and we believe that we cannot live without them, when in fact, we did before – quite nicely.

Timbuk 3 actually did a song about it, back in the good old days…

Don't want nothin’ fancy,
Don't need nothin’ new.
Nothing too expensive,
Just a sinful life with you.
Give me something borrowed,
I'll buy you something blue.
I'll trade this life of sorrow
For a sinful life with you.

The point is (finally) that happiness is simple, or at least it should be. Find it where you will, but I don’t think that happiness lies in the next hot consumer product or whatever the folks in marketing tell us we need in order to make us happy. I’m happy doing this, and it doesn’t cost a nickel.

Sometimes, the more we chase after something, the faster it runs. Maybe we need to get off this treadmill for a minute and focus?


I'm a child of the space age. My parents called my pacifier SPUTNIK, after the Soviet satellite that began orbiting the earth shortly before I was born. As a kid, I lived to watch the launches and generally idolized the astronauts, whom I believed (and still do) that they were the best and brightest of their time.

They're still called astronauts, even though the requirements for spaceflight are not as stringent as they were in the 1960s, when you pretty much had to be an aviator or pilot (Neil Armstrong was a civilian pilot) to even apply. Now, there are mission specialists that go up on the Shuttle, and it would seem that the astronauts of today are not as highly qualified as their predecessors.

That's why, when I see the word "astronaut" in the headline of a news story, I cringe a little, because I still have those childhood images of the astronauts who went to the moon. So, when I saw this story, I got that little creepy feeling:

ORLANDO, Fla. - An astronaut drove from Houston to Florida, donned a disguise and confronted a woman she believed was romantically involved with a space shuttle pilot she was in love with, police said. She was charged with attempted kidnapping and other counts. U.S. Navy Captain Lisa Nowak, 43, who flew last July on a shuttle mission to the international space station, was also charged with attempted vehicle burglary with battery, destruction of evidence and battery.

Police said Nowak drove from her home in Houston to the Orlando International Airport — wearing diapers so she wouldn't have to stop to urinate — to confront Colleen Shipman. Nowak believed Shipman was romantically involved with Navy Commander William Oefelein, a pilot during space shuttle Discovery's trip to the space station last December, police said.
An officer followed Nowak and watched her throw away a bag containing the wig and BB gun. They also found a steel mallet, a 4-inch folding knife, rubber tubing, $600 and garbage bags inside a bag Nowak was carrying when she was arrested, authorities said.
Inside Nowak's vehicle, which was parked at a nearby motel, authorities uncovered a pepper spray package, an unused BB-gun cartridge, latex gloves and e-mails between Shipman and Oefelein. They also found a letter "that indicated how much Mrs. Nowak loved Mr. Oefelein," an opened package for a buck knife, Shipman's home address and hand written directions to the address, the arrest affidavit said.

Somehow, I can't picture Alan Shepard or Gordon Cooper in a diaper - at least not in a car, but maybe I'm just not thinking hard enough. Generally, I'm guilty of thinking that so-called celebrities today and other such luminaries are not what they were "back in the day".

Even astronauts aren't astronauts anymore.
It makes me sad.

Monday, February 5, 2007

Hat Quest

Anybody can get one of those cheezy Colts Super Bowl hats. Find a store ... there's thousands of them. The one I want is that one, with the big C - and I think I know how I can get one.

STEP ONE: The facts. As we learned from this New York Times article, 288 “Super Bowl XLI Champion Chicago Bears” hats and T-Shirts were shipped to places like Sierra Leone as part of the NFL’s effort to get rid of inaccurate merchandise and help people who don’t know that they’re wearing a tainted hat. Otherwise, they'd just throw them away, so they donate them to people who don't care about football.

STEP TWO: The issue. I want a hat.

STEP THREE: The Plan. I go to Sierra Leone – it’s a nice vacation spot, from what I’m hearing – and make a nice offer to one of the natives. I’ll buy them a cow, goat or some chickens for their farm in exchange for a hat or three. They can have my hat. I have a nice one with WIDENER on the front. It will perform all the same hat duties as the other one. It keeps the sun out of their eyes and provides cover for their head.

STEP FOUR: I package up the hats and ship them home, where I will gleefully wear them to every sporting event I attend and watch as puzzled sports fans try to (a) add up the roman numerals on the hat, thinking that they may have missed something, and (b) regale them with my wonderful story of how I made a new third-world buddy.

I think Sally Struthers should be on this right now. “For forty cents a day, you can provide a goat to a family in Sierra Leone, and get yourself a nice keepsake of the Super Bowl.”

Hey, it beats the Hell out of a Snickers bar. That commercial ruined Snickers for me. Seriously.


Sunday, February 4, 2007

So, About That Super Bowl...

Complete domination by the Colts, as predicted by Sparky and myself. The score, however, did not bear us out. Stats-wise, (and an opening kickoff runback notwithstanding) it was one-sided. Close enough for jazz.

As far as the TV, it was a bunch of lame commercials. The only ones that made me laugh were the Letterman/Oprah promo and the beard comb-over guy. $2.6 million for 30 seconds. Otherwise, I think they came up short. I never figured out why advertisers would want to spend so much for so little. Who's writing this junk? Two auto mechanics kissing over a candy bar? WTF? Suddenly, I don't think Pam is the biggest automotive idiot out there. Comparatively, you're a genius, dear. Got any candy?
And by the way, um ... FedEx ... you're not weightless on the moon. For less than half of the $2.6 million, I could have told you that. Lame-Ex.

I gained a new found respect for Prince, though. Not only did he do a nice half-time set, but he did it in the rain as well. I'm not so sure I would have been anxious to strap-on an electric guitar in a rain storm.
Billy Joel also did a nice rendition of the Anthem. Not that I was surprised. Although, after the jet fly-over, the guy sitting next to me at the bar proclaimed, "Ya can't get more patriotic than that, can you?" Well ... I didn't want to get into a drawn out discussion of military vs. patriotism, but ... yes, you can get more patriotic than a song about a war we lost and big military instruments of destruction flying over a stadium full of people celebrating a television holiday. Maybe a little more patriotic. ... How about voting? That's a start. But, I digress.

As far as the gambling angle ... the missed extra point by the Colts in the first quarter wound up costing me $200, as the score wound up a point short of my block. Oh well, I suppose I'll have to go back to working for everything I earn.

The bartender won a big prize, though. For some reason, his block pool paid off in NCAA Final Four tickets. Those are going on Ebay, so I hear. Atlanta in March ... yep, sell the bitches.

Since I specialize in asking questions, here's one. Every year, the hats and shirts magically appear for the winner of the game moments after it's over. This year, the Super Bowl XLI Champion Colts stuff popped up. What happens to all the Super Bowl XLI Champion Bears stuff? Minutes afterward, Colts gear was on sale on Home Shopping Channel and on the heads of the Colts players. Meanwhile, you know the Bears stuff has to be there someplace in the bowels of Dolphin Stadium, waiting for the big comeback. Where is it? I suppose it's been shredded or burned in our great disposable product tradition. Personally, I'd pay double the price of the regular hat to walk around with a Super Bowl XLI Bears Championship hat, (I'm strange that way) but it probably goes against some made-up rule by the NFL (the No Fun League). I want a Bears Championship hat.

I'm looking on Ebay, for that and those Final Four tickets.

UPDATE: Courtesy of Firestarter5 and the New York Times, here's the answer.

Change for the Sake of Change

Once I got started, it was all downhill. Kinda.
After writing yesterday's post, something went horribly awry. The template got all goofy on me, and the blog started to look like it took too many hits of the brown acid. I got comments from Kimmyk and kara, wondering if there was something they should know about, or some three-digit phone number they should be calling. Nope. All it would take is a little nap and some Internet balls.

Telling somebody they have a screwy template is a little like telling them they have a booger on the end of their nose. You feel like you really should tell them, but you don't want them to feel bad about the booger. In the end, it's best for everybody to get rid of the booger and carry on.

I've resisted the temptation to move the booger, having given into horror stories about lost posts and ugly incidents involving passwords and whatnot, but I figured that the Blogger Team would be there to help - even if I don't know if they really exist, although I get nice e-mail's that start with "Hi there".
Blogger ... booger ... it's a couple of vowels away from the same word.

I started to think that the all-white page minimalist concept was getting a little stale, and it seems like it's hard on the eyes. But, since I don't really read it, I'm just going on instinct. Some of the new templates are nice, and it was hard to choose, so don't be surprised if it changes again soon, and back again. If I was a girl, I'd probably have a lot of shoes.

Anyway, if you haven't changed over to the new template schemes, go ahead. I don't have any horror stories or shocking phone conversations to report. Once you change, you can goof with the colors and fonts, and it's easier to update your sidebar, since you don't have to go into the template and type all that html code. Just copy and paste. Just be sure to save your old template so you can paste in your Blog links.

C'mon ... what else were you going to do today? Watch the Super Bowl?

Sure you are.
So, let me know what you think. Text too small? Too big? Colors ... pictures ... OK, I know about the Unabomber look. Anyway, if I have a booger on my nose, I really want to know about it.

Super Bowl Distraction

I buy wine based on the label. There, I said it. I'm a wine idiot ... sue me. The last one I bought had 3 mooses on it. If it has a cool label and it's less than $15, I'm all in.

White with fish or red with meat? Who gives a .... Give me a hopping kangaroo or a lot of colors. I'm a kid in a liquor store. "Look, mommy! Moose!" What a jackass.

I bought one of those cat grass things last week. So, now I'm growing cat grass on my window sill. Will the cat eat it? No. What the Hell am I going to do with all this cat grass? Anybody know if I can smoke that junk? Hey ... if the cat ain't gonna eat it...

Those Volkswagen commercials with the guy from Fargo doing the German accent really irritate me. Who thinks that a thick German accent is going to sell cars in America? When I hear it, all I can think of are Nazis and concentration camps. But, I drive a Ford, so what do I know?

There was an ad in the newspaper for the Philadelphia Auto Show, and there are always sports figures doing appearances, as if the cars aren't enough of a draw. The ad says AND DON'T MISS PHILLIES SHORTSTOP JIMMY ROLLINS, WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 7th. NO AUTOGRAPHS PLEASE. OK, so what's the point of the guy showing up? Are we just supposed to go and look at him, like we're in a zoo? I'm thinking I should go just so I can watch the ensuing arguments.

More people should know who Peter Hammill is. Wikipedia lists 35 albums, but I think there may be more. His first one was released in 1971, after he left Van der Graaf Generator, and he just released one called Singularity last year. If you're interested in expanding your musical horizons, I can tell you where to start. Patience, Sitting Targets, The Future Now and A Black Box to begin. They're on Amazon.

Fewer people should know who Taylor Hicks is.

Punxsutawney Phil. Jesus, what year is this? I can't believe we give this nonsense five seconds worth of attention. We're still tied-into superstition and theater. The lead story on the news, while there's more important things to concern ourselves with ... like this. Meanwhile, it's freaking cold. Like I need a rat to tell me. Wait ... I was talking about the one in the White House.

Previous Blue Man Group Acronyms of the month:
DNMMFAWFIAAEWSSP - Do not mistake me for a wizard, for I am an elf with shape shifting powers.
ROFLISIAGOTF - Rolling on the floor laughing. I'm serious, I actually got on the floor.

Some people think I'm becoming a Blue Man Groupie. Maybe it's because I'm going to see them on March 10, March 28 and April 19....after seeing them in Las Vegas in January ... I don't know. You people are crazy. They're like musical crack. Once you do it, you can't stop. Potato chips, those Presidential quarters - save one ya gotta save 'em all - Beer nuts.... They're on tour, and I can't be held responsible if you go and decide that you have to see them 4 times in two months. Hey, I'm just saying...

I'm ready for baseball season. Now. Really. Let's start. I'm not kidding. Sports in this city stinks, and the ancillary stuff stinks even more. The football coach's kids in road rage and heroin induced driving incidents; the quarterback's mom is all over everything, the hockey team stinks and the basketball team traded away Allen Iverson. I'm ready for summer and the inevitable disappointment, preceeded by months of anticipation. Like my marriage.

I could go for a greasy Wendy's burger right about now. I'd eat it in two minutes and regret it for days. Like my marriage. What?

OK, so I've got the Beltway Boys on the TV. I know ... stop. Anyway, the two nitwits are discussing the coming 2008 presidential election, and who would make the ideal Republican ticket (gag). I guess anybody can get a TV show? So, the one Boy looks at the other one (lovingly) and says that his ideal ticket would be John McCain-Jeb Bush. He was serious. Let me tell you something, in this public forum. If those two supreme jackasses get nominated, I'll start packing. If they get elected, I'm outta here. Who's coming with?