Saturday, February 6, 2010

Thor doesn't seem to mind the snow.

1:20pm and it's still snowing. The local news said we have 18 inches so far. If it keeps up until 5:00pm like they say it will, we should be close to two feet. Sunday will be Shoveling Day around here.

I'm curious to see if there was mail delivered today, but it would take me a half hour to walk out to the mailbox and back, and I don't think it would be worth the trip.



Friday, February 5, 2010

Snow schmow.

The sounds of tires on wet roads and those strange white flakes falling from the sky can mean only one thing: The Storm has Arrived.
For those of us in the path of Satan's wrath, it will be a long weekend of shoveling, drinking and watching football. Two out of three ain't bad.
If the lines at the local liquor emporium tonight were any indication, I'd say that half the population of the area will be doing some drunken snow shoveling on Saturday afternoon. Certainly 100 percent of the population of this house anyway.
The news tomorrow morning will be filled with on-site reporters telling us how bad the conditions are and how we are supposed to "stay inside unless you absolutely have to be out" as though we routinely wander aimlessly when the weather is nice. Then will follow the promotional ads telling us how [insert news and weather source] told us that the storm would be as bad as it is. Somehow, they forget to tell us that they all get their information from the same source. Something called The National Weather Service. To hear them tell us, they make this stuff up on the fly.
Don't believe everything they tell you. Meanwhile, I'll be cooped up in here all weekend, so there will likely be more blog updates than either necessary or normal. Photos as needed.
Stay tuned.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Because I don't know to whom to complain, I'll do it here.

An open letter to The Home Depot and Lowe's:
It snows during the winter. Even though I live in a condominium, I occasionally have the need for a snow shovel. If we get more than four or six inches I have to dig my car out of the parking space. Otherwise, I just brush it off and roll out. The shovel I have is best suited for loading gravel onto a lorry, but in a time of need it can do quite nicely as a snow shovel, since it barely knows the difference between gravel and snow.
I wound up with it because the last time we had a significant snowfall I went to The Home Depot the night before the snow only to find that you were fresh out. On Friday night we are expecting more. In the vicinity of one to two feet depending on your source. Either way, it's way too much to brush off with a broom, so once again I ventured to both of your huge warehouse stores in search of an adequate snow shovel, and once again, I was told you were sold out.
"We got a palate of them in yesterday and sold them all this morning," the woman at Lowe's told me. I don't know how many snow shovels fit on a palate, but I'd suspect that it wasn't enough for the customers like me who wandered in on Thursday afternoon. In the three minutes I was there, at least five other people were turned away.
I heard a similar story from the folks at The Home Depot. Strange, I thought, that they had plenty of weed whackers, rakes and gardening equipment. Being February and all, I would have thought that the gardening equipment would be practically useless. It is certainly more useless than a snow shovel, which seem to be in short supply. You both had ample supplies of ice melt and rock salt, loaded on the same palates that the snow shovels come on. Of course you'd have rock salt. It's the winter. It only makes sense. What doesn't make sense is why you have no snow shovels.
Why, I wondered, would it be so difficult to find a snow shovel in the winter? Snow shovel technology hasn't changed much in the past 50 years. There's a handle at one end and big scoopy thing at the other. The biggest advancement in shovels came about ten years ago when they put that curve in the handle so it wouldn't strain your back. Otherwise, a snow shovel from 2003 is a pretty nice piece of equipment. They're not flat screen TVs or cellular phones. Fred Flintstone could use the same shovel that I use - if I had one.
One would think (or at least I would) that a big warehouse store like The Home Depot or Lowe's would have the ability to stock more than "a palate" of shovels, and since they own calendars, they would know that it snows in February in New Jersey. Even if they stocked 400 shovels (which, stacked on their heads would take up about 100 feet of store space) and only sold 390 of them, the extra 10 that they had to put away until November wouldn't cut too deeply into their profit margins, and maybe - just maybe - people who went in for a snow shovel in advance of a snowstorm would walk out with one.
On Hallowe'en one could walk into one of your stores and see 50 Christmas trees. If I wanted a Christmas tree on December 23 I could get one. Why can't I get a snow shovel when it snows? Do you run out of lawnmowers when the spring comes? No. If I can get a weed whacker on Groundhog Day, I suspect I could buy a lawnmower on Memorial Day. You have plenty of them.
So, why don't you have a snow shovel when it snows?
Your representatives may reply in the comments section.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Three stupid things I did today.

I'm not sure what is wrong with me. Something though, that's for sure.
Tonight at the grocery store, I bought a razor that runs on batteries. Some kind of 5-blade contraption called Gillette Fusion POWER Gamer, (I don't know what Gamer means) as though my regular razor isn't powerful enough. Maybe I should have saved the money and I could just shake my hand violently while I shave? "Soothing micropulses with incredible comfort" it says, "You'll barely feel the blades." That's good, because if it's one thing I don't want to feel it's blades. It promises "Gillette's Closest, Most Comfortable Shave" [in capital letters]. That's great, and I suppose it's 20 percent better than those stupid 4-blade shavers. There's a button on it that you push to make it vibrate, and judging from the shape of it, I'd say it has other uses. Marketing, boys.
I got a replacement credit card in the mail yesterday. I know, life gets more and more exciting, right? Anyway - on the front of the card is one of those stickers that gives out a phone number that I'm supposed to call to "activate" the card. And we call, don't we? Because we're afraid that if we don't, the card won't work. My guess is that we don't have to call the number and the card is already activated, but we sit through that nonsense with the recorded voice asking us those stupid questions about our Social Security number and such. The kicker is when we are put on the phone with a "representative" (named Hadji or Ramesh or something) and he tries to sell us credit card protection or some pricey credit report subscription. That's where I figure the whole activation sequence is merely a front for the sales pitch that comes at the end. We're suckers for crap like that. Next time, don't call and use the card anyway. I'll bet it works just the same.
Then I had to buy printer cartridges. I have a nice Epson 6-cartridge photo printer that I'm afraid to use because if I use it, I'll have to buy more printer cartridges. I think the printer was $150 and the cartridges cost about $90. The thing I don't get (among other things) is how 5 color cartridges cost $70 and one black one costs $20.
Oh wait - we use the black one more than the color ones. Right.

Monday, February 1, 2010

King of grudges.

For those of you who enjoyed the Grammy Awards this year, congratulations. I haven't watched the show since 1973. As Glen Macnow would say, "It's a sham of a fraud."
What happened in 1973? Roberta Flack's version of "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" (written in 1957 and appeared on Flack's "First Take" album in 1969) won both Record of the Year and Song of the Year at the 15th annual awards show. What song did it beat out? A little something called "American Pie" by Don McLean. That's right. Since then, I haven't had time for an awards show that doesn't seem interested in awarding the best music. I can hold a grudge like Khomeini.
I still remember McLean singing "Vincent" at the awards show with the look of a guy who just got punched in the stomach. I'm sure he had a nice acceptance speech written.
I figured that if it was really deserving of a Best Song award, it would have won either in 1957 or 1969. Why was it winning now? Roberta Flack is a pretty good singer, but DAMN - over "American Pie"? It's the landmark song of its time. I figured that the media was pissed at Don McLean because he would never tell people what all the references meant, and they were giving him the shaft by not giving him the award.
Among others:
The Beatles' "Abbey Road" lost best album of 1970 to "Blood, Sweat and Tears." Simon and Garfunkel's "Bookends" and The Beatles' "Magical Mystery Tour" lost best album to Glen Campbell's "By the Time I Get to Phoenix." I could go on.
Generally, the Grammy's are the politically correct version of music awards. Nothing I listened to in the 1960s and 70s won any awards, and most all of it wasn't even nominated. They should just call the show what it is: The Popular Music Awards. These are the same people who thought Jethro Tull was "Heavy Metal" and created a category called "Alternative Music", and didn't put any alternative music artists in it. If they're popular enough to be nominated for a Grammy, they aren't alternative.
I came of age during the so-called "progressive rock" era of the early 1970s, and my favorite musicians were bands like Gentle Giant, Focus, Yes, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, King Crimson and Manfred Mann's Earth Band. They were acquired tastes, and the music was challenging to listen to, but to me, that made it so much better. Look up their Grammy Awards. Never mind.
It is harder to find music now that challenges the listener. Instead, we are given TV show pop. Contest winners that, in my opinion, are pre-determined in order to better sell CDs - by the same marketing machine that produces the TV shows. Music isn't about challenge anymore. Now, it's about marketing and who has the best face to put on the music. Ian Anderson's face couldn't sell 10 CDs now, and he'd probably be kicked off of American Idol because he plays the flute.
So, the music industry patted itself on the back once again on Sunday night, and the buzz was over Lady Gaga, Pink, Beyoncé and a lot of artists that look good in tights. Meanwhile, Kings of Leon won an award and Dan DeLuca of the Inquirer called them a "surprise winner." Why? Because maybe four brothers from Nashville wouldn't stand a chance on a TV talent show, with Caleb Followill's strange singing style.
It's different - and Grammy doesn't always like different.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

The use of this blog without the expressed written consent of the NFL is prohibited.

I heard on the radio today that the median price for a ticket to next Sunday's Super Bowl (a.k.a. The Big Game) on Stubhub is $3500. Median price. If you paid attention in math class you know what median means.
Taking a look at the listings shows me that the median is a bit skewed by some outrageous prices. The lowest price is $1,536 for upper level end zone and there are luxury suites priced between $69,000 and $308,000. For that kind of money the seat should come with a blow job.
The caveat in the $308,000 is that the suite will "accommodate up to 40 people" so let's split that up amongst our buddies. It doesn't look as bad when you figure all you'd have to do is chip-in $7,700 each to see the game. I don't know 40 people, let alone 40 who have that kind of scratch to see a football game that they'll probably wind up watching on the TV in the luxury suite.
You'll also notice that the ads that are running for the Super Bowl call it "The Big Game." That's because advertisers aren't allowed to use the term Super Bowl or Super Sunday when they talk about the game unless the event is directly related to the National Football League. So, your local sports bar will be hosting a buffet and discounted beer for The Big Game on Sunday. You're supposed to know what they're talking about. The terms "Super Bowl" and "Super Sunday" are trademarked, so watch your mouth. For $1,500 a ticket, I'd call it what I want.
Here's a funny thing:
The NFL claims that the use of the phrase "Super Bowl" implies an NFL affiliation, and on this basis the league asserts broad rights to restrict how the game may be shown publicly. For example, the league says Super Bowl showings are prohibited in churches or at other events that "promote a message," and venues that do not regularly show sporting events cannot show the Super Bowl on any television screen larger than 55 inches.
I can't imagine spending that kind of money to see a game, especially one that's on TV. Well, they're all on TV, which makes the ticket-buying experience even odder. Maybe ... maybe if the perfect storm of teams, city and stadium collided I might ... might pay $500, seeing as how it's a mini-vacation and all. Chargers vs. Eagles in Phoenix might do it, but even then I'd probably have to be drunk to get on the Internet and book the trip. Figure in the air fare (inflated for the weekend) hotel (inflated for the weekend) and what I'd spend on food (inflated for the weekend) and a $500 ticket to the game would probably cost about $3,500. I don't like to feel like someone is taking advantage of me when I go someplace, and Super Bowl weekend is one of the top 3 times that happens.
It's on TV for free.