Friday, December 14, 2007

Don't Get: Why Some People Include Their Picture in Their Advertisements

Great title for a post, huh? Rolls right off the tongue!

So who does this? Who are the people that include a picture of themselves with their ad? Realtors do it. Car salesmen (yes, I know there are actually car saleswomen in the world, but I don't care) do it. Sometimes even hair-cutter-people (I refuse to use the word "stylist") do it. There aren't many purchases that are bigger in life than your house and your car so I can maybe understand why realtors and car salesmen do all they can to get their percentage of the sale. But does it really matter what the car dude looks like? I suppose he is trying to endear himself to me in his ad when he says "Big Joe won't say no!" with a big picture of himself in his sport coat and cheesy pose. I further suppose that most guys part with their money a lot quicker with a Pam Anderson look-alike than a Ruth Buzzy look-alike. So maybe this is where my cheapness overrides my guy-ness because, in the end, I'm just looking to dump my P.O.S. for as much as possible and drive off in a new ride for as little as possible. You could have long, crinkly hairs growing out of a mole on your nose but if you get me some free floormats, I'm all yours! No offense, Pam, but with easy access to pics of you when you were a few years younger, it's going to take more than a low-cut top to get me to spring for the completely unnecessary undercoating option.

So how about realtors? I gotta sell my shack and I need someone to get me top dollar and overlook the black mold and cracked foundation. Should be no sweat, right? Let me tell you what I don't need. I don't need someone to look good in a suit and use phrases like "open floor plan" and "better than new". What I need is someone to sell my crappy house to an unsuspecting sucker. If you can do that wearing a pair of cut-offs and a Motley Crue t-shirt with bed-head and an open sore on your upper lip and still make enough dough for both of us to treat the family to dinner, then sign me up! If George Wendt can get me an extra $5k on my house over George Clooney, then I'm going to have to kick People magazine's Sexiest Man Alive 2006 to the curb!

So who should have their pictures in their ads? Not many people. It don't matter what you look like as long as you is qualified to do what it is you do. Comprende'? I don't mean to sound all preachy and turn this into a whole "it don't matter what you look like as long as you is qualified to do what it is you do" thing, but shitsky, why do I care what my brain surgeon looks like? I'm glad to see that there aren't many brain surgeons advertising on billboards to drum up business but nobody really feels it necessary to post his mug in the waiting room either. Imagine, if you will, getting the news that you have a big crusty thing in the middle of your brain that needs to come out:

Referring Doctor: "Dude, you need to see a brain surgeon, toot-sweet!"
Dude: "Gotcha, Doc. Know any good ones? Someone that went to Harvard or something?"
R.D.: "Harvard, Schmarvard! I suggest Dr. Prettyboy because he has dreamy blue eyes!"
Dude: "Well, now that you mention it, it does feel like he is looking right into my soul..."
R.D.: "That's the spirit! I'll call his Parole Officer, I mean Secretary, and hook you up!"

Call me crazy but I would like to see Dr. Prettyboy's transcript beginning with second grade and interview several neighbors and ex-girlfriends before I want him poking around in my melon. Only after an exhaustive psychological work-up and a round of Trivial Pursuit would I let him remove my crusty thing.

How about plumbers? Kind of works the opposite way, doesn't it? If I saw an ad for a plumber that DIDN'T show the crack of his ass, I'd keep on looking. Same with a computer repair guy. Not so much the butt-crack thing but if he didn't have tape on his glasses, a whole bunch of zits and a peachfuzz mustache, I would have to question his abilities to fix my whatchamacallit.

Look, there are too many people who get by in this world just based on their looks. We all know how much I hate the talent-less Tyra Banks and if Shania Twain didn't look so friggin' hot in those ridiculous outfits, she wouldn't sell a single record. Anyone know how many tennis tournaments Anna Kournikova won? I know it ain't many but she still gets lots of attention and way too much money for endorsement deals.

So, realtors and car salesdudes - you leaches can just keep your pictures to yourself. Plumbers and IT nerds - let's see some buttcracks and peach fuzz so I know if you are worth a damn!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Hate: Tupperware

See, this is how twisted my little life is. I am tormented by Tupperware. Brightly (gaily?) colored, innocuous, inanimate plastic bowls have me all in a lather. It's no wonder I drink so much....

One would think that there is nothing to hate about Tupperware. One would think that Mr. Tupper was really on to something when he invented those plastic, re-usable containers to hold last night's meatloaf, wouldn't one? Well, I'm here to tell you that one would be wrong to think that. If one had any sense at all, one would come to the conclusion, like I have, that Mr. Tupper has invented something so evil and diabolical that dogs around the globe are cursing Mr. Tupper's name for a lack of table scraps.

Let me explain my hatred.

My biggest beef with the whole concept is that only a small percentage of Tupperware actually gets used. According to no research whatsoever, only 6.8% of all Tupperware containers ever get used for anything. And I'm not just talking about for storing the leftover lasagna that no one will ever eat. I'm also talking about using it for catching that last little bit of water stuck in the drain pipe when you are cleaning out the hairball in the trap under the sink. I'm talking about not even being used to stash away the kids' Legos that hurt so friggin' bad when you step on them in the middle of the night. The biggest reason for not being used (again, based on pure conjecture on my part) is because you can't buy just one of these damn things. You have to buy a combo pack consisting of twelve different shapes and sizes. You only need one but The Man is forcing you to buy more than you need! Damn him and his marketing degree!!

More hatred comes from the mis-match between lids and containers. You think losing one sock is bad? I challenge you to match up all the Tupper-lids with all the Tupper-containers in your cupboard. It can't be done. For that matter, I challenge you to not get klunked in the head when you open your Tupper-cupboard and all the Tupper-pieces fall out on top of you like the ping pong balls used to do to Mr. Greenjeans on Captain Kangaroo. If you tell me that all of your various Tupper-pieces are neatly organized, I'll call you a dirty liar and never speak to you again.

The problem is compounded because there are some other bastards out there who have gotten onto the bandwagon and are selling competing brands to Tupperware. I'm not going to dignify them by mentioning their names here but, just like Kleenex being synonymous with "facial tissue", they will never be known as anything other than Tupperware.

And then the compounding is compounded because the pseudo-Tupperware doesn't "mate" with the real stuff. Got an off-brand container? Don't try to force the real Tupper-lid onto it -it just ain't gonna fit no matter how many times you kind of run your thumb around the edge trying to make it snap on there. So now I have 48 containers of various sizes and 57 lids of various sizes and none of those blasted pieces fit together and all I'm trying to do is get a stool sample from the dog to take to the vet! What am I going to do - walk in to the vet's office with a mis-matched lid/container combo that allows the whole waiting room to enjoy the aroma of Fido's little present? I don't think so! Let me have a little dignity in my life!

Let's be honest here, boys and girls. If you didn't eat the lima bean casserole last night, what are the chances that you will EVER eat it? If you feel like you need to Tupper-ize your leftovers out of guilt and because there are kids in Africa starving, just get over it. Throw the crap outside to the raccoons and squirrels if you aren't going to eat it. Before you call the ACLU or PETA or 60 Minutes on me, I'm not equating starving African kids with raccoons - I'm just saying that by the time those nasty lime beans make it to Ethiopia, they are going to be more heinous than they are now so don't lose any sleep over it. How many times have you wondered what that funky-ass smell was coming from the fridge only to open up a Tupperware container and find a brown, fuzzy substance the likes of which you haven't seen since you moved out of your college apartment? And isn't it easier to quickly put the cover back on and quickly throw the whole stinky mess away? Yes, I believe it is.

Even with the price of oil going up, you know darn well that the Tupper-people are making a boatload of money on this stuff. However, if we all join together and pledge to stop using all of the various Tupper-like products out there, the world will be a better place. We'll be swimming in cupboard space, the raccoons and squirrels will be well fed and our stress level from trying to match up square lids with round containers will go down to nothing. Lastly, and perhaps most important, we can stride with confidence into the vet's office holding Fido's stool sample in a Ziploc bag where it belongs.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Hate: The Shenanigans That Goes On Behind the Counter at a Fast-Food Place

You know that saying about getting what you pay for? Couldn't be more true in the world of Big Macs, Whoppers and Chalupas. Sure, the food is tasty what with all the fat and sugar and everything but let's just say that the folks who are serving these delicacies to you aren't exactly this year's finalists on Top Chef. When you are getting hooked up with a burger, fries and a big sippy-cup full of Coke for about five bucks, you gotta expect that something else has to give. OK, maybe a few things have to give - considering that the artwork usually looks like it came out of a Super-8 hotel room that had to be renovated after a hooker was killed in a scuffle over a dime-bag. But we're here today to talk about the tom-foolery that happens behind that magic dividing line called The Counter, not the paintings on the wall.

Since I'm a regular at these fine establishments, I get the chance to watch the crack team of Food Service Professionals quite often. During the normal eating times, the folks usually just do their thing. They take your order, they punch some buttons, they "cook" your stuff and they slide the tray with that paper placemat thing on it towards you full of fatty goodness. No sweat. You pay your $5 and you go on your merry way, one clogged artery closer to death.

However, I've noticed that when you visit for a mid-afternoon snacky or a late-morning pick-me-up and the place isn't quite so busy, those rascals behind The Counter can lose.... focus. For instance, it's during these quieter times that an innocent customer can sometimes listen in on a recap of the weekend's parties that the the teenage crowd attended while their parents were out of town. One minute, Ashley is serving up your combo meal and the next thing you know she is regaling her friends about how many beer bongs she did and how it had never come out of her nose before then. It's like Ashley forgets that people can actually hear and see stuff that goes on behind The Counter. Ashley, I just need my grub. I don't really want to hear about your recent experiences at the Piercing Pagoda!

Even the manager can get a little un-professional when he/she thinks no one is listening. When discussing food, I prefer a tight ship over one with leaks in it. Leaks let in germs that even a big dose of Special Sauce can't kill. I like to see the manager dropping fries in grease, assembling happy meals, and generally making sure that Skippy The High School Kid gets my order to me in a timely manner. What I don't like to see is Sporto The High School Kid Who Is Also The Manager get caught up in the discussion about the Algebra test on Friday. If indeed the manager is an adult (i.e. someone that actually uses the health benefits portion of the McDonald's compensation package), it's not just un-professional for him to be talking about the prom, it's a little creepy. That's why Mondays are bad days to go to these joints - too much reviewing of the weekend's events. I suggest Tuesdays when the full burden of the working world has subdued those poor bastards enough that they have become the French Fry jockeys that I'm looking for.

And how about when one of the high school punks is visited by another high school punk. Punk #2 may or may not be employed by the fast-food place but, either way, unless you actually remove all of your clothes in an effort to get noticed, the punk/friend will get far more attention than you will. Remember, Sporto behind the counter ain't getting paid on commission so he is more than happy to let you stand there, wallet in hand, while he blathers on to his little friend about the algebra exam in third period. And if it's some chick who is distracting Mr. Hormones behind the counter, you are better off raising a calf of your own, slaughtering it, grinding it into hamburger and grilling it on the barbecue that you built yourself, while tending the potatos that will be used for french fries.

Lastly, and this may seem nit-picky, but I don't want to hear laughter coming from behind The Counter. Laughter from someone who is touching my food makes me nervous. Laughter might mean "Ha Ha, I just dropped that good-looking guy's Chalupa on the floor" or "Ha Ha, Have you ever put a Chalupa down your pants?!" or "Ha Ha, Hey look, everyone, I'm wearing a Chalupa for a hat!" I generally like a good joke, but I prefer some decorum when preparing my Value Meal. Eating junk food is serious business and, unless Chris Rock is now flipping burgers, I don't want to hear any funny business coming from the land of stainless steel. Let's everyone just calm down and no one gets hurt.

So if you are one of the zillions of people around the world who get a discount on your McFat Burger because you work at one of those joints and wear a paper hat and/or hairnet, please keep it down behind The Counter. Us poor bastards who have fallen prey to your siren song are living on borrowed time as it is so please don't make our lives any more miserable. While it's true that your life isn't exactly a bed of roses (see hairnet comment above), don't drag me down into McHell with you.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Dig: Greasy Spoons

Just about anyone you ask would confirm that I'm cheap. One of the main reasons I'm cheap is because I don't have much money in the first place. Of course, "much" is a relative term, so I don't expect a lot of sympathy for those of you who truly don't have a lot of cash in your back pockets. However, you rich bastards sure could help a brother out once in a while!

OK, so I'm cheap. And I'm generally not very pretentious. Despite my Starbuck's and foreign car snobbery, I'm really a down-to-earth kind of dude. I'm a good guy - just ask me!

OK, I'm cheap and a regular Joe. Got it. So that's why I dig a good greasy spoon over a high-falutin' (sp?) eatery of some kind. As much as I dig filet mignon and lobster washed down with an Absolut-and-tonic (with lemon, not lime please), followed up with a slice of strawberry cheesecake, I get a little buyer's remorse as I'm loosening up the belt by a couple of notches.

So, because I like to think that I'm providing a little public service, here are some rules of thumb that will let you know if you are in a good greasy spoon:

  • The longer the counter at the place, the better the food. If it's just a couple of seats long, it's just a token gesture and the place probably actually cleans their griddle.

  • If there is a lot of formica, vinyl and chrome, you know damn well their club sandwich is going to be great. However, if the vinyl isn't cracked, the place is probably owned by a guy who doesn't even work there, in which case the place will suck.

  • When you open the bathroom door, does it bump into the toilet? If so, they will have the best cherry pie in town.

  • The cook (not "chef") wears a white t-shirt with stains and a white apron with stains and the sweat from his brow is one of the main ingredients in all of his dishes.

Seriously, when was the last time you had a bad meal at a diner? Ain't nobody going to get all creative with chipotle at a place called "Bud's" so there are no surprises. What do you think is going to be on your ham and cheese sandwich at Bud's? I'll give you a hint - there's something from a pig and something a cow. You want more than that? Don't worry, Nancy (Bud's daughter who is working her way through school) will ask you if want "everything" on that before she puts the little slip of paper in that spinning thing that holds all the orders. Chips or fries are 99 cents extra and they come in the "basket" if you are really hungry.

Now compare that to when you ordered the Chilean sea bass at The Bistro. Besides that it took for-frickin-ever for Brooke to get your drink order and then re-appear a while later to take your dinner order, it was a little over-cooked, wasn't it? And you didn't know that it came with leeks, did you? Would you like to see the dessert tray? Sure, it all looks great but after spending $50 on a meal that will only carry me until breakfast tomorrow morning, now I can only afford a Snickers bar so I guess I'll pass on the White Chocolate Mousse. Despite Brooke's cleavage, the whole experience has a way of making me feel a little bit empty.

Those expensive joints make a bit of a show of dropping off the bill (bomb?) on the table because when you're plunking down that much money, it's like part of the entertainment. There's a nifty little folder thing that has a little pocket for your credit card and the waiter may have written something gay on the bill like "Thank You". Not so at a good dive. After a big-ass burrito and a cold pitcher of beer followed by a stick of gum, your waitress slides your bill (1/4 the size of the hoity-toity place and yet my pants are just as tight) across the formica with the same fanfare that is usually seen while changing the paper at the bottom of the birdcage. Thanks? I don't think so - she has to get a plate of mozzarella sticks to table 4!

A good diner doesn't have filet mignon on the menu. And if they did, you wouldn't get it because you know it would suck. That's like ordering eggs benedict at a breakfast joint with a long counter and a bell that rings when you walk in the door. Don't be an idiot. Their eggs benedict sucks. If you want a big plate of scrambled eggs, sausage and toast for $4.95, though, you've come to the right place. Your mom never made you eggs benedict so you must not need it.

So there you go. Don't be a pretentious bastard. The next time your tummy is grumbling, go belly up to a lunch counter someplace and enjoy the sweet smell of burning grease and get a little ketchup on your shirt as it falls off your cheeseburger. And send all the money you saved by not going to an over-priced place with tablecloths to me.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Dig: Trivia

I love useless little morsels of information. Don't bore me with the stuff that might make a difference in the world - leave that to someone else who will do nothing with it. I will do nothing with the little stuff. I'm all about doing as little as possible and I feel a little less guilty about it if it's not really that important.

Trivia is often confused for factual information. However, presented properly, trivia quickly reveals its true useless nature. Allow me a for-instance:

Fact: Abraham Lincoln was the 16th president.
Trivia: Abraham Lincoln never put syrup on his pancakes.

See the difference? Who cares that Abe was #16? That piece of information doesn't generate more stimulating conversation. But when you spill the beans about his dislike for syrup, well now you're talking about a weighty issue! What about butter? What about waffles? Who doesn't like syrup on their pancakes? Why didn't he do something about that nasty mole on his face? See how much more interesting this is?

Here's another one for you:

Fact: Tina Louise played Ginger on Gilligan's Island.
Trivia: Tina Louise originally thought that Gilligan's Island was going to be focus on Ginger.

Everyone knows that Tina played Ginger. Not trivia. Probably not everyone knows that, despite the show being named after GILLIGAN (!), Tina thought the show would be about her. That's much more interesting. Did she mis-read the title of the show and thought it said "Ginger's Island"? Did she think that hitting on the Professor week after week would be enough to carry the show? Despite a killer bod, I just don't see it happening. And don't get me started on that slut Mary-Ann!

Trivia abounds in our little world. Song lyrics, movie or TV lines, dates in history and gobs and gobs of it in the sports world. All beautifully useless! Name the last three Americans to win the Tour de France. Who was known as the Desert Fox? What movie is "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore" from? You, too, can be that annoying guy at the water cooler (do offices still have water coolers?) with all the chicks hanging off of you because you know who Erwin Rommel is. See how trivia can change your life?!

Count the number of trivial pieces of information in this sentence: "U2's 'Pride' was written about Martin Luther King who was shot on April 4 at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis after MLK visited some union garbagemen who were on strike." The correct answer is 857. Is that what you got? You didn't? What kind of dumb-ass are you?! Again, on the surface, this is just a bunch of facts strung together, but when I call you a dumb-ass for not knowing all of them, it becomes trivia and makes you want to punch me in the nose. Regular facts don't cause normally passive people to strike out against others. It's only when useless information is presented in a smart-ass fashion does violence break out. And isn't there a lesson to be learned there, George W. Bush? And, just like the topic of Mary-Ann, don't get me started on labor unions....

I have to admit, though, that the sports trivia can get to be a little much. I was watching some lame sports trivia game show on TV the other day and these dudes knew everything about everything! It's one thing to get all jazzed up about a particular mainstream sport, but when you're rattling off the scores in the semi-final matches of the badminton world championships of 1964, there is no doubt that you also live in your mother's basement and sleep in pajamas with feet in them. How about if you focus all your brain power on curing cancer or something instead of being the mayor of nerd-ville?

One of the beautiful things about trivia is that there is a pretty good chance that the little factoid is complete bullshit. If you want to waste your time checking out Abe's breakfast condiment preferences, you go right ahead. In the meantime, I'll be over here hitting on your girlfriend. Same with Ginger - who cares if it's true?! The more inane (trivial, you might say) the snippet of info, the better! For example, did you know that a mouse's weight is equal to the square root of the length of it's tail? If you want to challenge me, just get out your little ruler and find yourself a mouse and ask him/her to hold still while you measure and weigh him. All I have to do is say I read it (or wrote it, whatever) on the internet and it instantly becomes legit. I have one word for you: Wikipedia. Who checks on that stuff? If I added some lies to an obscure enough entry, it will be spread around the world as fact in no time. Here's one for you: Jared (that irritating guy from Subway) used to be a woman. The next person who reads that in Wikipedia will be asking him to be the spokesman/woman for the Transsexual Times because it MUST be true if it's in Wikipedia!

Along with presenting trivia to your unsuspecting friends comes a certain amount of smugness. It doesn't matter to me if you aren't interested in my useless piece of information - I just like to feel superior knowing something that you don't. Did you know that Elvis had a twin brother who died at birth? You didn't? How can you not know that? What kind of dumb-ass are you? See how great that is! I feel better about myself already! I'm sure all my friends think that my brain must be running at about 113 % capacity even though they say that we usually only use 10%. They probably all think that my superior intelligence is due to my second toe being longer than my first toe. Which, of course, is completely true because I read about it in Wikipedia.

So there you go. I dig trivia. I love knowing that U-Mich beat Stanford 49-0 in the first Rose Bowl. I love knowing that Lee Iaccoca was the guy who developed the Ford Mustang. Basically, I just dig any sentence that begins with "Did you know that...."

Here's a good one to send you on your way: Did you know that Buzz Aldrin's mother's maiden name was Moon? And now I'll be here by the water cooler waiting for the chicks to hit on me!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Don't Get: Why Cars Don't Cost A Zillion Dollars

For those of you keeping score at home, I work in the upside-down world known as the automotive industry. In my little corner of the world, we make parts for the interior of the vehicle (not "car") like seats and stuff. It's a bit of a parallel universe to the real world where logic rules and people actually do things that make sense - except that it's the opposite of that. In my world, the sky is green and the grass is blue. Where the dog pees on the grass is still that same dead-grass color but other than that, it's the opposite.

The company I work for is pretty big so we supply stuff to all of the car companies out there. Certainly, the US automakers are the most screwed-up (getting in bed with the UAW will do that to you) but the other ones have their moments too. And since I'm writing this on my work computer on company time I don't want to bash my company, just the ones that we make parts for!

Here's a for-instance for you: There's a term around here called "in-vehicle position". It means that you might be able to see a defect if you hold a part at a certain angle in certain lighting, but if you look at it in its intended position in the vehicle, you wouldn't be able to see it. Let's suppose there's a flaw of some kind (maybe like a red dot on a cashmere sweater?) that is a little tricky to see. So, now picture a bunch of nerds waving a stupid sun visor around looking for the right angle to see a little bump that the owner of the car will never even notice. Heck, even if the owner does see it, they'll just chalk up the defect to crappy US craftsmanship and move on to swearing at the guy who just cut him off. But, because that bump is not "supposed" to be there, you gotta shut the line down, call the nerds, throw some parts away, re-build those parts, e-mail the customer, and generally alert the media all because of something that the dude driving the car will never see! So how much does all this running around cost? I have no idea, but I'm pretty sure it's a lot - all for a stupid visor, not even the engine or transmission or something a little more critical to getting from Point A to Point B.

OK, now all of these parts have to go together in the vehicle, right? Seats, the "overhead system" (that's the "ceiling"), the floor console and the "IP" (that's the instrument panel - known to everyone in the rest of the world as the "dashboard") - it's all gotta fit together. Well, the requirements for the gaps between this stuff is all technical like "plus or minus 0.5 millimeters" and all of us ying-yangs in the industry go to great lengths to make sure that the gap is not 0.6 millimeters because God knows you can't have that! So we build gages, have meetings, make phone calls, measure stuff and then re-do everything because that's what it says on the blueprint. I have one word for you: blueprint, schmueprint! How about if we use a real world test like there can't be a gap big enough for a french fry to fall down behind the cupholder. For the price of some potatoes and a deep fryer, we could test parts all day long! If we're feeling generous, we could install a ketchup dispenser on the assembly line and the nice people putting this stuff together could have a little snacky-snack while they're working. Edible quality control! Brilliant!

And don't get me started talking about the color of stuff. First, there is no such color as "black" in the automotive industry. There are colors like "midnight charcoal" and "ebony" though. Same for "tan". No "tan", but lots of "sand", "pebble", and "baby poop brown". OK, I made up that last one but some marketing department somewhere held meetings for three months to come up with those colors and then probably went on a golf outing afterwards to celebrate their success. Next, you gotta make sure that the parts you make match the little paint chip. To do that, we install cameras and sensors and junk on the assembly line to make sure that the color is just right. Fine, I get it. However, fast forward about six months to a chick driving her nifty new car down the road. As she is putting her makeup on (while driving) and drinking her Starbuck's (mother's milk!) and calling the babysitter (that little slut!) she accidentally drops her lipstick. After swearing into the phone, she removes said lipstick by just kind of rubbing it in with her thumb. All that hard work by the yahoos in the color testing lab went out the window because she could care less if there is a little "Fawn" lipstick on her "Platinum" seat as long as it doesn't leave a stain on her "ass".
OK, last gripe - documentation. I'm an e-mail kind of guy and a bit of a tree-hugger so I don't use much paper. The auto industry, however, apparently thinks that paper grows on trees (get it?!) because every stupid little change requires a friggin' novel that will then sit in someone's desk drawer in a three-ring binder of some kind. Each automaker has their own format for the same piece of information so you gotta do everything 58 times to keep everyone happy. I know they think that the stupid forms will be read daily so they must be kept in an orderly fashion, but that's a bunch of hooey. Once it is written and properly bound with all three rings, it WILL NEVER BE LOOKED AT AGAIN! Paper, binders and people cost money so let's just all knock it off, OK?

My point here, boys and girls, is that cars are cheap even at $20k or $30. Us dolts in the industry get paid a decent wage to go through all the gyrations described above (and write blog postings) and yet cars don't cost a zillion dollars. My other point (two points in one post!) is that it just isn't that important to go to such lengths to make an absolutely perfect car. It costs a bunch of money to do it and most people just don't care/notice. I bet if we forgot about looking for defects that people will never see, cars would cost about $173 and we could all have six or eight of them. When one of them ran out of gas, we could just ditch that car and drive another one. Why pay a ton of money for gas if the car is so cheap (for supplemental reading, please see my previous post about my confusion over the high price of gas)?

Hey, look, I've worked myself right into lunch!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Hate: Feeling Obligated to Talk to People

I don't really like people. I've said before that they are interesting to observe in their natural surroundings, but for the most part, I would really rather not interact with them. Perhaps feed them and hope for a fleeting stroke of their head as they scurry away after eating from my hand. Maybe capture them in a photograph while they are unaware they are being watched (oh wait, that's a misdemeanor), but that's about all I'm really interested in.

For that matter, I prefer quiet to noise. As much as I enjoy some high-quality '80's hair band rock and roll, Eddie Van Halen can wear me out with his guitar playing. So, for me, people + noise = hatred.

This post was prompted by a trip to the car repair place to get our super-duper minivan a little more super and/or duper. The garage at least offers the service of taking you where you need to go while your car is being worked and they even pick you up when it's done. Nice! Not so nice was the old guy who blathered on and on about stupid stuff in his life as he took me into work. He covered about 22 topics in the seven minutes we were in the car together, including but not limited to:

his upcoming rotator cuff surgery
his previous rotator cuff surgery
the pain associated with his rotator cuff surgery
his wife's hip and knee replacements
his sister's 60th high school reunion
his nephew's career at GM
his vacation to Florida

During his prattling, I felt obligated to see "oh", "OK" and "Really?" because I'm such a nice guy. He also didn't have the A/C on and I was getting all clammy in the car. You're here to provide a service, Gramps, just get on with it. I'm more than happy to stare straight ahead while you chauffeur me around. Feel free to NOT talk to me.

And how about those long elevator rides with a total stranger? Those are the worst! You go in, you press your button and you proceed to watch the little numbers light up as you go up the building. Of course, you're not just going from the 3rd floor to the 6th floor. You gotta go all the way up to 52! Do I say something? What would I say? "Hot enough for ya?" "How 'bout them Tigers?" "Have you seen that fat guy in Accounting?" It would take an exploding thing of some kind to get me to make idle chit-chat with the other person (that's assuming it isn't a babe who is totally hot for me). Excruciating! If my little elevator buddy wants to talk to me, I might just hear him/her out, but chances are that he/she will just bug me.

I'm happy to report that I work in a two-story building so the dreaded elevator stand-off doesn't happen too often. Unfortunately, said building has a couple of long hallways and the chances of walking down one of them while someone else is walking toward you are pretty good. Damn that architect! So, let me paint a picture for you: I'm walking down the hall headed to a meeting or some other useless activity and pretty soon here comes another lackey doing the same thing. If I'm lucky, I'll have a piece of paper in my hand that I can (pretend to) be looking at, thus avoiding eye/voice contact with the other lackey. If that's the case, I can just kind of glance up as we are passing and mutter a "hey" and keep moving. If I'm really lucky, I will be on the phone and maybe just do the quick, upward head motion that is universally accepted as acknowledging the other person's existence and that's about it.

However, in the event that I don't have any papers in my hand and there is no real use for the phone, I am forced into a stare-down with the on-coming lackey. Do I stare straight ahead? Do I look at everything EXCEPT the person coming towards me? What if it's a babe? How do I check her out without being too obvious? Invariably, we get about 6 feet apart (the exact distance doesn't matter, both parties will know when it's time) and we both do the muttered "hey", making only the briefest eye contact. Oy, vey! I've had root canals that are less painful!

So, here's the deal. Unless you're a babe who is trying to get me in the sack (What?! It could happen!), please leave me alone. If you must say something to me, please just say that it's OK for me NOT to say anything to you - because I really don't want to, I just feel obligated to.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Don't Get: Why I Dig Magic Tricks So Much

I know what you're thinking. You're wondering how in the world I could dig something as cheesy as magic tricks. Other than a mime, who is lower on the entertainment totem pole than a magician? I know, I know. And yet, I'm intrigued.

See, I'm way left-brained. I practically don't have a right brain. Some people won't be surprised to learn that I essentially only have half of a brain, but it's true. I marvel at people who draw lines that aren't straight and are actually OK with it. If I were to sculpt something, I could probably sculpt a really good rectangle. "The Thinker"? Not so much. And I'm much better at painting the kitchen than a landscape. So maybe it's due to my nerdy engineering brain that marvels at the ability of these yahoos to defy the laws of physics. Why, oh why, can't I saw a woman in half (you know, without the blood) when that buck-toothed goon Doug Henning can do it? I work with a guy who does cheesy parlor tricks during happy hour at a local restaurant. He wanders from table to table pulling coins from behind your ear and guessing the card that you have carefully pulled from the deck and shown no other living soul. The condensation from my beer soaks the tablecloth as I watch him cut the deck not once, but twice, and announce for all to hear that I am clutching the six of diamonds in my hands! Good God, is there no end to the miracles that this man can perform?

So as much as I'm amazed at the Happy Hour guy opening up a brand new deck of cards only to find MY card on top of the deck, I practically soil myself at the super-duper elaborate tricks that someone like Criss Angel does. Do you know this guy? He bills himself as "Criss Angel, Mindfreak" and when I grow up I want to be just like him. Got a plate glass window you want someone to walk through? Criss is your man. Got a swimming pool? Criss will walk across it for you. He's big on tricks like putting on a straitjacket, lock himself in a box with some nuclear waste, strap the box to the space shuttle in Florida and then 2.3 seconds later show up at a 7-11 in Topeka wearing scuba gear. He does some out-there stuff and I watch him coma-like when he does is TV specials.

Or maybe I dig magic because of the babes. Have you ever seen the chicks/assistants that prance around the stage with these dudes? And the outfits they wear? I have three words for you: Hot, hot and hot. If these magicians can pull a rabbit out of their hats, imagine what they can pull out of their pants! Of course, I would use my magic for evil. Instead of making the chick disappear and then re-appear in the cage where the lion used to be, I would make her disappear and show up at my place and I'd make a few pieces of her already-skimpy outfit even skimpier.
Maybe the reason I dig magic is because I can't do it myself. OK, it might be a little easier to do than paint something like "Lily Pads" by Monet. That whole painting is made out of a bunch of dots, for cyring out loud (this is my effort to appear cultured)! Can't paint, can't sing, can't play the piano and I can't make Cindy Brady disappear from a big box in front of the rest of the Brady bunch. One might think that I could learn how to shuffle a deck of cards so that the nine of hearts is always on top but I'm guessing that it would be a little trickier for me to whip out a Venus De Milo even though I wouldn't have to spend much time on the arms. And don't even get me started on the whole levitation thing.

So there you have it. I dig magic tricks. I'm just not sure why. One thing I don't dig about magic tricks, though, is when those bastard magicians don't tell how they do stuff. Penn and Teller are good about giving away their secrets but you still need a collapsible knife, some fake blood and some general sleight of hand to do most of their tricks. But who has time to make fake blood? I'd be too busy coming up with ways to use my magic to land some babes.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Dig: Going Inside the Fast-Food Place and Getting Served Faster than the People in the Drive-Thru

I am the king of the drive-thru. Starbucks, McDonald's, BK (not Wendy's too much) - you name it, I have the remains of food from all of those joints somewhere under the driver's seat of my car. What's more convenient than pulling up to the speaker thing, ordering my fat-laden food and then stopping at the next window to pay for said food and receive the tasty morsels into the comfort of my mobile home-away-from-home? I don't need to step out of my cocoon and I can enjoy Howard on satellite radio while taking a big bite out of a Big Mac. What more could a boy want?

My time is pretty valuable what with making blog entries and all, so the idea of never leaving the car to eat is an attractive proposition. However, let's not confuse time-management with laziness. Given the opportunity to save a few precious seconds, I will pounce with cat-like reflexes even if it means actually expending more energy to do so. Especially if it's at the expense of others. The whole process is similar to changing lanes fifty times on the highway - I'm always on the lookout for an ever-so-slightly quicker way of getting home (I could give a shit if it takes me an extra two minutes to GET to work). It's all about me, me, me.

So here's the process. As a seasoned veteran of drive-thru (drive-through?) windows, if I see that there are more than a few cars ahead of me in line, I immediately scan the inside of the restaurant (calling those places restaurants is like calling the carnival that comes to town a theme park, but what are you going to do?) to scope out the length of the line at the counter. I take into consideration the type of car as well. For instance, if I see a dude that looks just like me (except his car DOESN'T need a new transmission) then I figure he's done this dance before and he's going to be quick. He knows better than to make any special requests for extra ketchup or no pickles or some damn thing. However, if I see a soccer mom in front of me with two or three soccer mom-lets in the back seat fighting over the toy from the last time they went to one of these places, even a rookie would recognize that Mama Cass up there is going to take for-fricking-ever. If I see her turn around to ask the brats what they want, I'm outta there!

Same goes for the line at the counter. It can be hard to see inside there, but if there are a couple of lonely looking lackies just waiting for someone to order up a Whopper, I know that I can save precious seconds by going inside. Conversely, if Mom and Dad are in there with the four kids (one from her marriage, two from his and one together) and there are a few people standing behind them looking at their watches and tapping their feet, I'll stay in my P.O.S. and just hope that the pimply-faced kid at the drive-thru window is all hopped up on Red Bull and can process my order quickly. If I have to wait, I'd much rather do it while sitting on my hind-end in my car instead of standing behind some dumb-asses on a hard ceramic tile floor. Besides, there's less chance of me strangling any of those dumb-asses followed by a lengthy trial where I risk exposing some of the other skeletons in my closet if I just sit in my car.

It takes swift decision-making, but it is such sweet victory to quickly park, scurry inside, order my value meal and make a hasty retreat back to my car and see that the minivan that was two cars ahead of me is just now placing their order! I make sure to make eye contact with the schlub who is still waiting (im)patiently to order his lunch while I'm already enjoying mine. You just sit there and piss away your day, I'll be getting a headstart on clogging my arteries with my combo meal, thank you very little!

You know that picture of Muhammad Ali standing over some guy that he just knocked out (here's a little hint - it's the pic at the top of the post)? That's how I feel when I walk - nay, STRUT - out of there holding my bag of grub. Hey, you in the car! You want a piece of me? I'll gladly kick your ass just as soon as I finish my fries. In the meantime, you just enjoy the fumes of the '79 Caprice Classic in front of you while you listen to the kids fight in the backseat.

Big Macs, Howard Stern and taking "cuts" in line - life is good!

Monday, April 30, 2007

Hate: Game Shows

I've mentioned that I dig sitting on my caboose watching TV. Unfortunately, along with the good ("Lost", "The Rockford Files") comes the bad (see below). The only redeeming quality about game shows on TV is that they make me feel superior to the dolts who are actually on the show. Sure, I might not be able to actually come up with the capital of Nevada (Carson City) while on the hastily-assembled stage but I can spit it out at home faster than you can say "James Rockford, come on down."

You know that song from the Sound of Music that goes "these are a few of my favorite things"? Yeah, well, the few things below are from the song that goes "these are a few of things that suck."

Deal or No Deal: Are you kidding me? Apparently, the name Greedy or Not Greedy was already taken. Here's the premise: There are a bunch of babes holding nifty-looking brushed aluminum suitcases full of different amounts of money up to a cool $1 million. The contestant picks one of the suitcases for himself and then picks a bunch more in hopes of narrowing down the suitcases to determine how much money is in the one he picked for himself. Along the way, a mysterious banker (seen only in silhouette to heighten the drama!) offers the contestant money to stop the whole process and go home. The now-bald-but-with-a-soul-patch Howie Mandel (of blowing up a rubber glove on top of his head fame) is your friendly host. So, anyway, these dumb-ass contestants are offered lots of money along they way. Way more than they would normally see while working behind the counter at the local Hallmark store. Most of the time, the greed gene kicks in and they turn down these offers in hopes of getting even more cash. And most of the time, they get screwed and end up with, like, $1.79 or something. And it serves those dumb-asses right! My last complaint about this show is that the contestants are not picked randomly. People are hand-picked to play so they can bring their families along to cheer them on (there is lots of good cop/bad cop dynamics going on within the family) and the women are usually babes themselves and the men are usually over-the-top characaters of some kind. And Howie is just bald.

Wheel of Fortune: Are you kidding me - again?! My dad, who is a pretty smart guy, watches this show. He gets the puzzles with about two letters showing. I don't know why he watches other than because that is part of his evening routine. It's not mentally challenging (if you ARE mentally challenged by this show, you are probably mentally challenged by small, shiny objects also), Vanna is over the hill by now and the game/set is just generally long in the tooth. We took one step closer to armageddon when "I'd like to buy a vowel" became part of American pop culture. Damn you, Pat Sajack!

Jeopardy: Could Alex Trebek be a bigger pompous ass?! I think not. Granted, some of these questions are pretty tough. For instance, I personally don't know Napolean's shoe size. But the whole idea of "phrasing your answer in the form of a question" is just another way for Alex to show that he is in charge. In the event that you can actually get those stupid buzzer things to work when you want them to, you better damn well make sure that you don't just blurt out 6 1/2 when the correct answer is clearly "What is 6 1/2?".

Anything on During the Day: Let's name a few of them, shall we? Press Your Luck (the stupid show with the No Whammies thing), Password (I do a great impersonation of the announcer telling the audience the word by covering my mouth a little and saying "The word is 'tapioca'"), Card Sharks (works as a drinking game, too!), any version of Family Feud (though I have to give props to Richard Dawson for making out with all those chicks), Tic Tac Dough (my 6 year-old loves tic-tac-toe. I'm an adult and I think it's stupid but apparently the game show people have more in common with my kid who is in kindergarten than with me) and, lastly, Bumper Stumpers (not real well known despite the mentally stimulating premise of deciphering vanity license plates). Good God, that's a lot of bad TV! I bet at the network Christmas parties, the people who work on daytime game shows sit at the tables right next to the kitchen door....

Hollywood Squares: Again with the tic-tac-toe! This time, let's build some enormous structure and plunk a bunch of C-list celebrities in there to crack stupid jokes while answering stupid questions. Brilliant! The twist is that every stupid joke is punctuated by some double entendre of some kind:

Host: OK, Mr. Contestant, which celebrity would you like to choose?
Contestant: Larry Manetti, who played Rick on Magnum, P.I., please.
Host: Larry, for an X and the win, what's in a Sex on the Beach?
Larry: I don't know but I usually end up with lots of sand in my bathing suit!
Host: That's a good one, Larry!

There have been about 15 different hosts over the years, including the eyebrow-less Whoopi Goldberg but it's still the same dumb tic-tac-toe game.

Anything with Couples: The Newlywed Game, The Love Connection, The Dating Game and don't even get me started on The Bachelor. I'm going to start a new show called The Divorce Game made up entirely of people who have been on these shows.

Dude, I could go on and on. The cheesy hosts of these cheesy shows could be their own category of hatred for me. Wink Martindale? Gene Rayburn? Bob Eubanks? Chuck Woolery? Please! You know there are enough white belts between these guys to stretch from here to the moon. How many bottles of Old Spice do you think these guys have slathered on themselves over the years? I can just see these guys at the bar at the Holiday Inn after taping a few shows talking to an unsuspecting chick: "Hi, I'm Wink Martindale, why don't you come by my dressing room after the show and check out some of the fabulous cash and prizes in my pants!"

And now there is a Game Show Network. And so I must kill myself. It's been nice working with you. Remember to help control the pet population - have your pet spayed or neutered.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Dig: How Little Time is Lost Between the Time a Team Scores a Goal in Hockey and the Time the Puck Gets Dropped at Center Ice.

Despite what may seem like a cumbersome title, I struggled a little to narrow the scope of this here post. See, I dig hockey. But not all hockey. Mostly I just dig the Detroit Red Wings so this could have been a post about me digging the Red Wings but I'm not such a sports nerd that I retain a lot of information about each player's stats, history and skate size. I'm pretty easily fooled (surprising, I know) and someone could rattle off a bunch of statistics and numbers and junk about a player who may or may not be with the Red Wings and ask me to comment on it. Unfortunately, my comment would have to be something along the lines of "Duh". So this couldn't be a big broad topic of me digging hockey or even me digging the Red Wings.

So I said to myself, "Self, what is it that you dig about hockey if you are such a dumb-ass that you don't even know who plays what position." After much soul-searching, I realized that the thing I like about hockey is that when a team scores an all-too-precious goal, the puck is back in play before you can say Stevie Yzerman is the Man. Janet Jones (wife of Wayne Gretzky) might like to place a little wager on the over/under but that's beside the point.

Somehow, after a bunch of skating around, getting checked into the boards, losing teeth and getting into fights, the puck finds it's way into the net. Nice! The red light goes on, horns sound, fans throw hats (in the event of a hat trick) or an octopus (if it's the Wings scoring) and there is a change of players on the ice. But that's it. There ain't 16 commercials for things you don't need, there ain't much comment by the announcer dudes with their Canadian accents and there sure ain't a marching band or Janet Jackson exposing herself. Within about two minutes, those crazy kids are playing hockey again. Beautiful!

Let's pretend I looked up on-line someplace the average number of goals per NHL game and found it to be 4.3 (we have to pretend because clearly my time is too valuable to waste on such things). With so few goals, you would think that any time the netminder lets one through the five-hole there would be all kinds of analysis, discussion and general wasting of time. Isn't that what the NFL would do? John Madden would fire up his telestrater and blather on and on about who missed a tackle and the condition of the turf and the barometric pressure. There would be replays up the wazoo for even the most boring 2-yard run up the middle. And lets not forget the commercials. Some before the extra point, some after the extra point, some before the following kick-off and finally some more after the kick-off. The NFL isn't called the No Fun League for nothin'!

See, the kickoff after a score in football is to give the other team a chance to re-group and it's their opportunity to even the score. Not so in hockey. If I fire a 100mph slapshot past your facemask with the sweet paintjob, in about a minute and a half I might just do it again. You want your chance to score on me? You better win the face-off, punk, because I'm not going to "kick off" to you and just let you have it. Baseball is cool that way too but there is still too much time between batters with all that jockstrap adjusting and tobacco spitting. Basketball is dumb just because there are so many baskets made. Slam dunk? Big deal - wait a couple of minutes and it will happen again. And how de-moralizing is to score a goal, win the ensuing face-off and then score another goal all in the span of a couple of minutes. Super de-moralizing, that's how much!
The NHL on TV doesn't have nearly the following that other professional sports have so chances are pretty good that you're a big fan if you're watching the game. You probably know how to pronounce Patrick Roy's last name (damn him!) and you have given serious thought to what you would do with the cup if you had it for a day. So you just want to watch some damn hockey. When your team scores, you can't wait for the puck to drop so they can score again. And if by chance the bastards who are lucky enough to be playing your team are the ones who scored the goal, you can't wait for the puck to drop so you can show those sissies who's really in charge.
Don't waste my time with kick-offs and commercials and crap, just drop the friggin' puck!
Go Wings!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Dig: History's Mysteries

I wish I could tell you that the nifty rhyming title of this post was a John original, but there is a TV show on Discovery or the History Channel (imagine that!) of the same name and it kind of stuck with me.

Anyway (or "Anyways", if you prefer), I dig pondering all those ancient mysteries about pyramids, Stonehenge and Bigfoot. I'm also going to put conspiracy theories under this umbrella: Who killed JFK? Did we really land on the moon? Don't get me wrong - most of the theories that are out there surrounding those two examples are pretty out-there but that's kind of what I like about them.

So, below are a few cool mysteries and my observations on same. For the sake of brevity (I'm sure you're disappointed...), I may do some combining and condensing:

Is it just me or are those some big-ass rocks those people were moving around?! That's just one angle of this deal - how did they move those big-ass rocks? The other angle is - what the hell are those big-ass rocks doing laid out like that? I could probably do some research to better educate my vast reading audience on how the big-ass rocks are laid out just right to capture the rays of the sun at the Summer solstice, etc. If I would take a few minutes to google "Stonehenge", I could make some insightful and intelligent comments about the whole deal - but that would be silly. Instead, I'm just going to summarize it by saying the whole thing is pretty twisted. Did they get it right the first time or did they have to let three or four Summer Solstices (try saying that with a mouth full of peanut butter!) go by and move the big-ass rocks a little bit each year to get it right? How about the aliens? Did they use their spaceships and some kind of space-crane or space-ladder to put those big-ass rocks there? What the hell were they even doing it for in the first place?! About the only reason I can think of to spend that much energy on something like that is if there is nothing good on TV. Again, I say it's just plain twisted.

JFK Assassination:
I've been to the spot where he was shot. Kind of creepy. There is a little thing in the road that marks it. If you look "back and to the left" (Seinfeld reference!), you can see where Lee Harvey Oswald (Note the use of all three names. Killers of this caliber - no pun intended - are often referred to with all three names. John Wilkes Booth, James Earl Ray, Mark David Chapman.) shot him from the Texas School Book Depository. Grassy knoll is there too. On a related note, I had a grassy knoll once - a little penicillin cleared it right up! Yeah, so Oliver Stone presents a convincing case in his movie that there was more to the whole thing than Lee sitting in the window waiting for the limo to come around the corner. Ollie presents enough information to create some doubt in my little brain about the whole Warren commission report. And I'm OK with Ollie manipulating my gray matter like that. I don't think it's terribly important to know for sure who killed him anymore. Back in the day, it was certainly important to understand why in the world Jack Ruby made sure that old Lee wasn't able to speak up. Was Jack such a patriot that he must avenge the death of his president? I think not. Now, I just think it's cool to speculate. Even the boys on Mythbusters did a show about it!

Jon-Benet Ramsey Killing:
Killing a kid is just really awful. Plenty of theories out there but someone just plain old got away with it.

Landing on the Moon:
How many people have been on the moon? I'll give you a hint - If you bought a dozen doughnuts, each moon-lander-dude could have one. Of course, it would be tricky to eat it with the whole space suit thing going on, but that's beside the point. Some dolts out there think that the whole landing on the moon thing is staged. They use "evidence" like inconsistent lighting in the pictures, the funky zero-gravity walk that the moon-dudes use and the lack of stars in the background of the pictures to suggest that the whole thing was shot in someone's basement like a bad snuff film. Not sure what they are saying is the motivation for doing this. Believe me, a lot of cogs and widgets and stuff have to work pretty darn well to get a guy from Florida to the moon and back so I'm not saying it's easy. Cripes, we have enough problems making a decent car (see Ford Pinto, Chrysler K-Car and the Yugo) let alone a friggin' rocket! However, my glass is half-full today and I'm going to stick with the idea that, sure enough, we played a little golf on the moon.

Bigfoot, Loch Ness Monster and that goofy Woodpecker in the Everglades:
Love Bigfoot! How can you not? He was even on The Six Million Dollar Man. If you're on The Six Million Dollar Man, you have definitely arrived! Unfortunately, I don't think he is really out there. As a matter of fact, a couple of years ago a guy admitted to faking that movie clip that supposedly shows a She-Bigfoot walking through the woods. Now, that guy might be from the Jack Ruby school of buzz-wreckers but I'm inclined to agree with him: there ain't no such thing as Bigfoot. There are plenty of people who have "seen" Bigfoot or even a whole herd of Bigfeet and have casts of their footprints and stuff but, just like people who have "seen" UFOs, they often live in trailers and use words like y'all, yonder and seen (instead of saw) so they can't be trusted. Same deal with the Loch Ness Monster. I know Loch Ness is really deep and everything but I just don't think old Nessie is down there. As far as that stupid bird in the Everglades (or wherever) goes, perhaps if those people put as much effort into curing cancer we could save a lot on our public healthcare costs.

This one's a toughie. Fox Mulder was convinced that there were lots of UFOs flying around out there and I really liked The X Files so I'm having a hard time discounting his theories. And Close Encounters of The Third Kind was really cool, especially when Richard Dreyfuss was sculpting the Devil's Tower out of mashed potatoes. I've never seen a UFO or an alien (although there is a guy at work who is way freaky!) so I don't have definitive evidence that they exist. At the same time, "swamp gas" and "weather balloons" are used to explain weird crap in the sky all the time and that seems pretty flimsy to me. After all, what the hell is swamp gas? Sometimes after eating a big burrito, I get a little swamp gas but no one ever thinks that a UFO is flying out of my ass! More like a UFO flew up there and crash-landed! Just like I don't think that Bigfoot is really out there in the woods, I'm going to have to conclude that we are alone in the universe. I know it sounds egotistical but I'm like that. Everyone gets all in a lather about finding water on Mars and how it could support intelligent life. Well, I'm here to tell you that we got boatloads of water here on this Big Blue Marble and we got some real dumb-asses around here so don't let a little agua fool you into thinking that Mars would be a good vacation get-away!

So there you have it. You can draw your own conclusions but remember, if you use the word "yonder", you can't be trusted.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Hate: Actors Who Take Themselves Too Seriously

I dig movies. I dig TV. Probably TV more than movie, actually. What I don't dig, though, is the actors who think that what they are doing is important. I also hate that female people who act are suddenly called "actors" and not "actresses" anymore, but that's a different discussion. Just like overpaid professional athletes who complain about ANYTHING (you're not allowed to complain about anything in the entire universe if you make as much money as some of those bastards), I don't have much patience for actors or actresses who think that what they do is anything more than, you know, acting.

All interviews with actors are the same, no matter who the interviewer is or who the interviewee is:

Interviewer: Tell me about your latest project.
Interviewee: Well, it's a period piece about a woman struggling against the rules that society has placed on her. It takes place in 1843 in a farming town that is run by a ruthless landlord.
I'er: I see. What did you do to prepare for the role?
I'ee: I really wanted to connect with the character so I spent a week living on a ranch. I even wore long skirts and a bonnet to milk the cows. The challenges that those women faced are overwhelming!
I'er: Wow! You really lived it! That must have been difficult.
I'ee: Yes, I had to be up everyday at 6am to milk the cows and slop the pigs. Then I worked in the fields until 3:30. At the end of the day, I made dinner for the ranch hands right alongside the rancher's wife.
I'er: That's real dedication.
I'ee: Well, I wanted to connect with the character -
I'er: Yeah, you mentioned that.

I have one word for you: blah, blah, blah! Who cares?!! I know there is an entire second industry surrounding the entertainment industry consisting of Entertainment Weekly, Entertainment Tonight and various other things with "entertainment" in their titles - and that just blows me away. You go ahead and make your movie. I'll plunk down my cash to see it (or not) and then you go make another movie. See how simple that is? Don't talk to me about connecting with anything and if you bitch about how hard it was for you to slop the pigs at 6am, you can just shut right the hell up.

See, here's the deal. Making most movies doesn't save the world. Yes, "Schindler's List" woke up a lot of people to the whole holocaust thing. And "Hotel Rwanda" isn't exactly about promoting tourism in that country. So those movies do have a positive affect on our consciences. But, even though I totally dig "The 40-year-old Virgin", it's not going to cure cancer.

So, below is how an interview should go for "Schindler's List:
Interviewer: Dude, that's hardcore.
Interviewee: Yeah, I know. That holocaust stuff is nasty. Nazis suck.

See? The movie says it all. You don't need no dumb-ass director or actor or actress telling you anything more about it. Perhaps if the movie sucks, the aforementioned director/actor/actress feels compelled to over-sell it. How many interviews were done for "Gigli"? Could have been a good indicator, don't you think?!

OK, so now let's see what an interview for "40-Year-Old Virgin" would go like:
Interviewer: Dude, that's hilarious!
Interviewee: Thanks, man. Glad you dug it! My life is pretty shiny right now and I owe it all to a stupid movie. I'm a pretty funny guy so this whole thing came pretty easy to me. A couple of times I had to get up at 9:30 but I called in sick the next day! Can't talk now - I'm meeting my agent at the Benz dealer - he has a red 2-seater all picked out for me.

The difference here is that the interviewee knows that his life is good and he's not afraid to chalk it up to making a damn funny movie. He ain't connecting with nothin'! Except maybe the cute teller at the bank where he shamelessly deposits his big fat paycheck. And he's smart enough to know not to bitch about getting his chest hair waxed because no one gives a rat's ass.

Lastly, I must harp on a particular phrase that the "bad" (read: one who takes himself too seriously) actors use. That phrase is "honing my craft". If I hear some dumb-ass actor talk about honing his craft one more time, I'm going to hone my craft right in his face! Your craft?! Are you making ashtrays out of clay now? Doing a little macrame`? Those are crafts. What you are doing is reading some lines and pretending to be someone else. Shoot, sometimes when I go to the bar and take my wedding ring off, I'm pretending to be someone else! Some people call that being a two-timing cheating bastard but, from now on, I'm going to call it honing my craft! I'm sure the wife will understand.

So, people of Hollywood, please just shut up and make your movies and TV shows. Don't blather on about getting into character and how hard it was to be a ditchdigger for 2 weeks during shooting because there are plenty of people out there who dig ditches 52 weeks a year and they don't go home to a big-ass house and a trophy wife and they sure don't pull down the cash that you do. And if you feel the need to hone your craft, you just do that in the privacy of a rest area bathroom!