Friday, April 28, 2006

French Budget Surrenders

I absolutely love this one. "Mom, I'll take the garbage out as soon as I'm done cutting social services!"

The government of France is setting up a new internet game called Cyberbudget that will allow players to manage money just like a budget minister. It's designed to teach players how hard it is to lower taxes and reduce deficits. I'm also guessing it's designed to decrease the criticism of French budget ministers as well.

This is perfect for a multiple choice joke:

a) If playing the game from Germany, you will be able to force the French budget to surrender.
b) No extra credit for youth rioting.
c) Does Bush read French?
d) Are you allowed to carjack Renaults?
e) When do we get to play the French Foreign Policy game "Mid-East Instability Through Nuclear Technology Sales?"

I gotta start learning French. I don't know anything other than Oui, Pierre (the dehydrated Frenchman) and a Maurice Chevalier-like "Honh, honh, honh."

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Call Me, Call Me, Any, Anytime

There's a new phone that Motorola has patented which all the swinging chicks will have to have.
They're calling it a "therapeutic vibrating phone."

I'm calling it something that will require a repeating speed dial function and is sure to put you over your minutes.

Never underestimate the power of "therapy" to sell products and services. Glad to know we've cured cancer, pulled the troops out of Iraq and solved world hunger so we can work on the things that really matter--vibrating phones. Bless you Motorola.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Carl & Me

A lot of people don't know much about me. That's because I'm pretty shy, quiet and am a real shrinking violet.

But my friend Carl knows me pretty well. We like to talk about our feelings, government policy, our dreams, pending Senate regulatory committee activity and our aspirations. Plus, he's really hot. That's him right over there.

Here's the last email he sent me:

Thank you for contacting me about video game regulations. I am glad you shared your concerns with me.

Following the Columbine High School shooting in 1999, attention was drawn to the increasing amount of violence to which youth are exposed. As a result, President Clinton ordered a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) study of the rating and labeling systems, as well as the marketing practices, of the video game, recording, and motion picture industries. This study found that while efforts were being made to label products containing indecent material, these products were still being marketed to minors. The FTC survey also found that in many cases retailers were not refusing to sell such products to children under 17. A follow-up FTC report, conducted at the request of Congress in 2001, found that the video game and motion picture industries had scaled back their targeting of minors in ads.

Current video game ratings systems are managed by private companies. In 1994, the Entertainment Software Rating Board developed a system that divides games into five age-based categories. Under this system, video game retailers who restrict sales to minors do so on a voluntary basis. It is ultimately up to parents to monitor what their children are buying.

As you may know, Senator Hilary Clinton introduced the Family Entertainment Protection Act (FEPA, S.2126) on December 16, 2005. FEPA would criminalize the sale or rental of video games with ratings of Mature or Adults Only to people under the age of 17. In addition, FEPA would require the FTC to perform an annual review of the ratings system. This bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation where it awaits further consideration. Thank you again for writing. Should this issue come before the full Senate, I will be sure to keep your views in mind.


Hot Carl Levin
Keep on rocking!

Okay, I may have added that last part.

But you can totally tell we're really close friends. Maybe he can come over to my house some time and we could play Grand Theft Auto or Madden football together.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

TomKat Delivers Lil' Kitten

In case you missed it, Tom & Katie pulled the ultimate PR coup. They delivered their litter before Brangelina and the premiere of Mission Impossible 3. Still think this wasn't planned?

They've named the anklebiter Suri. While it's being widely reported in the media that Suri means either Princess (in Hebrew) or red rose (in Persian), they're all getting it wrong.

Suri means "crazy" in Wookie.

If karma is the harsh mistress I expect her to be, Katie will be up and around and silently suffering from postpartum depression in no time.

For Suri's sake, let's hope her parents' height and talent are recessive genes. Ah, they'll be separated before Suri is potty trained anyway. With any luck, that'll minimize the damage they can do to her. Pray for boarding school, Suri.

I Get Paid to Talk

I've had corporate shilling on my mind quite a bit lately. Probably because I just saw Thank You For Smoking. (The book is Christopher Buckley's best). And it's what I do for my appointed wage-earning toil.

There's a great scene in TYFS where the character Nick Naylor is talking to his son's class about what he does for a living. A little girl pipes up with, "My Mommy said cigarettes are bad for you."

He responds with, "Is your Mommy a doctor?"


"Is she a scientist?"


"She doesn't sound like a very credible expert then, does she?"

I almost wet my pants. It was great to see Nick use rhetoric and logic to manipulate people.

As an admirer and mangler of the English language, I've been paying particular attention lately to corpspeak and Engfish and ways we inveigle, miscontrue and obfuscate. I particularly enjoy when we change words to make them into advertising lingo. Crap like incredelicious, crunchtastic or chickenriffic. It sure seems to happen most often for food product introductions rather than other items or goods.

Now I don't usually watch commercials thanks to the life altering technology that is TIVO. So when I heard a Kraft commercial this morning using EMF's Unbelievable, I completely vapor locked. It's for Kraft Crumbles and uses the line "It's crumb-believable." Ow, is that smelly.

I wonder if Kraft knows that EMF stands for Epsom Mad Funkers?

At least they found a use for all those cheese bits that wobble out of the machines and fall on the floor.

Feel free to submit your most hated (or loved) made up advertising language words.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Oh The Humanity

The West Michigan Whitecaps had a swell promotion Saturday at the old ballpark. They used a helicopter to drop $1000 in cash for kids between the age of 5 and 12.

Except a couple of 7 year olds got trampled and had to go to the hospital. Never come between a 12 year old and his cash. Don't worry, both kids were okay with only minor injuries.

My favorite part of this story, however, is the fine sympathetic response of the team. I mean just because it was their event at their park, you don't really think they're going to take any responsibility do you?

Instead they went with this: "It's for fun and games," spokeswoman Katie Kroft said. "This is why we have everybody sign a waiver."

Oh, they've got a waiver. Well then it's okay that you got a couple of little kids trampled. I'm sure that waiver will keep you from getting sued by some ambulance chaser. Thank goodness there weren't any Easter Eggs in the outfield.

For some reason, the ballpark incident made me think of Les Nessman describing the action as turkeys plummet to the ground for WKRP's Thanksgiving Day promotion. I hope ya'll are old enough to get that reference because it made for truly hilarious tv.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Happy Pagan Chicken Embryo Day

I'm outta here tomorrow thanks to the benevolent taskmasters at my appointed toil. Yes, we actually get Friday off.

We are given respite to enjoy the rebirth of nature in the Great Grey North. That means the huge piles of snow in the corners of all the parking lots are finally melting.

Just a bit of advice.

If you're going to hide eggs, make sure you count how many you hid. Otherwise, you'll have another hunt in a few months. But this one you'll do mostly with your nose.

Now where did all those Peeps go?

Ending Women's Suffrage

Some wise guys went to the Padua Academy with a video camera and a bold idea.

They wanted to see if the female students would sign a petition to end women's suffrage. Unfortunately, suffrage is the right to vote. Yes, they were asking young girls to sign a petition to keep themselves from voting.

And it's all online.

Padua describes itself on its site as "where girls with dreams become women of vision." I'm betting there are some Delaware parents who fork over $7,200 a year for their precious Catholic daughters to get a decent education who are asking some very difficult questions for the Poli Sci instructor right now.

I'm not sure what is most disturbing:
  • Young girls will sign anything if you have a video camera (though this does explain the phenomenon of Girls Gone Wild)
  • Peer pressure is hell
  • Catholic schools aren't teaching real science much less political science
  • The interweb greatly enhances your ability to look like a dummy (this blog included as exhibit A)
  • At least this is better than dropping out

Do you think this is funny? Scary? Disturbing? Indicative of the decline of Western civilization?

That being said, it's not too early to apply. I do, however, feel a lot better about my neice who went to private school and is now studying to be a massage therapist. Yeah, she's going to need trigonometry in her daily life.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Curse You, Ben & Jerry

It's officially over for a lot of people. Ben and Jerry are releasing a new flavor of ice cream.

Black and Tan

I wish I were making it up, but it's true. Beer flavored ice cream.

I think I'm going to need to buy a bigger belt. Better yet, just completely give in and switch to sweat pants.

Can wine flavored cream be far behind?

Here are some other ideas for flavors to let us combine some of our favorite vices:

  • Bacon Bomb
  • Merlot Moo
  • Screwdriver Swirl (powered by Absolut)
  • Gin & Cream
  • Drunky Monkey (Banana Rum flavored, of course)
  • Coors Cream
  • Zinfandel Zoom
  • Budweiser Brickle
  • Rooty Tooty Reisling
  • Super Margarita Man
  • Mary's Bloody Bomb Pop
  • Pina Colada Pop
  • Rum & Cokesicle
  • Lick-a-Labatt's
  • Melting Molson Moments

Feel free to submit your own great flavors, kids!

Monday, April 10, 2006

The Taxman Cometh

Wife and I sat down this weekend and plowed through the wonderful, fabulous process of reminding ourselves how much we love being an American. That's right, we did our taxes on the old 'puter and ciphered out how much we owed the guv'ment for our cover charge to be patriotic citizens. I had purposely put it off because I had a feeling that we'd owe this year. Boy was I right.

We got killed this year. We owe literally thousands of dollars to the Feds. I can honestly say that I did not use that much national defense last year.

Now I do not consider myself a wealthy man (other than in my life choices of course), but I'm not starving on the streets. I can afford my mortgage and have enough money left over for the odd electronic trinket when I feel the compulsive need to go to Best Buy.

I'm reminded of a line from Friends. When Rachel gets her first paycheck she asks, "Who is this guy FICA and why is he taking all my money?"

That being said, I got a couple of hundred bucks from the State. How that is possible is beyond me. So apparently, I'm using a lot of Federal Services but not so much from Michigan. It makes no sense.

I do think I'm going to take my state loot and go to the indian reservation and parlay it into nothing. Or buy Lotto tickets. Both smart strategic investments.

Did everybody get killed this year or was it just my lucky turn?

Friday, April 07, 2006

Bodice Rippers

There's an article online called Erotica Finds Home in Mainstream Publishing which I just don't get. Go ahead and plow through it. If you can't possibly pry yourself away from here (and I can certainly understand how that could happen), let me sum up for you, because there is no time to explain, Inigo Montoya.

  • A woman started writing erotica (not porn) for other women.
  • The protagonista in these erotic stories is a woman.
  • They sold these books over the interweb.
  • Old, boring, publishers like Avon and Halequin are now horning in on the action.
The writer seems surprised to find out that sex sells. Even on the internet. Yeah, no one saw that coming despite the fact that every technology enhancement in the past 100 years has been co-opted by porn. Printing = dirty books/magazines. Video tape players = dirty movies. HDTV = High Def Porn.

What I took away from that story is that the names of the characters in these books are complete bullshit. The names used in the four stories discussed are: Karessa, Vienna and Trista. Is it a rule that the names in these books always have to end in a vowel? I know no one by these names. Of course I don't know an Iman, Tyra or Madonna either.

Is it still incomprehensible to the average person that women could enjoy something erotic too? Have the Chippendale's been forgotten that easily. Men in strip clubs look at women like a lion looks at a gazelle. Women look at male dancers like a pack of wolves look at a wounded deer.

Or is it a big deal because it's a woman doing it? I thought we were past all that. I know Katie is going to host the CBS Evening News. Who cares? Has anyone noticed how well the Today Show alum do when they leave: Bryant Gumble, Jane Pauley, Deborah Norville? These aren't exactly wildly successful career arcs post the morning gig.

Isn't the whole deal that when we quit pointing out that it's being done by someone new and different, we're through the issue? It's like when we quit identifying Donovan McNabb as a black quarterback and he's just a quaterback. Katie isn't going to be a female anchor, she's just an anchor.

My department is 85% women. So I can tell you it's no big thing when a woman gets to be in charge around here.

Luckily I will always be Chief Vermin Officer Waste Disposal Pledge at my house. That means I get to kill bugs and take out the garbage. It's a lifetime appointment too so I can pretty much coast.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Baseball Has Been Barry Barry Good To Me

I'll confess to not watching much of the basketball festivities last night. First, the game stunk as UCLA (that's pronounced yew kleh) never seemed to have their act in gear. Second, it was more fun to watch the fans in San Diego torment Barry Bonds.

People had some great signs:
  • Bonds First in Hall of Shame
  • Barr-Roids
  • Huge Head, Tiny Bat, Tiny Balls
  • *

I wish I'd have been the guy who just put an asterisk on a sign. Man, that's genius.

Someone even threw a syringe onto the field. I couldn't see a needle, but you could clearly see the plastic injector thingee. And when Bonds picked it up off the field of play, it was awesome.

And that's just San Diego. Can you imagine what's going to happen in Chicago, New York or Philadelphia? In Philly, they booed Santa Claus at an Eagles game. This looks to be a very long year for Mr. Bonds and the rest of the team.

I still want to market a shirt that says Will Rogers Never Met Barry Bonds.

Play ball, Barry.

Oh, and I forgot. Barry's tv show is on tonight. On the duece, it's Barry on Barry. Because he won't talk to the media, he's going to do his own reality tv show. That makes sense. Use the media so you don't have to talk to the media.

Now in a professional sense, I've got to admire his blatant hijacking of the media process. The professional media keeps asking him the wrong questions (ie. about his cheating, his steroids, his being an asshole) so he'll do it himself.

I have it on good authority that he cries during the first episode. I can't wait to see the kinder, gentler Barry Bonds. Who sits in his recliner in the clubhouse and watches his big screen tv and makes sure his people keep the rest of the Giants away from him.

And if you feel too sorry for Barry, his theatrics and his ability to whip up some tears on cue. Just remember that when he feels bad, he can go home and rest his ginormous steroid-swollen head on a big pile of money.

Hey did you hear they were going to Barry Bonds Bobblehead night? They wouldn't bobble because the head was too big.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Put Me In Coach, I'm Ready to Play

So it begins....

If you've forgotten, we begin the national pastime today. Yes, the sport that claims to be America's Game is upon us once again. No, I'm not talking about football dammit.

Today (okay last night) is Opening Day. That's right d-a-y. It's supposed to be played during the day. No one ever heard of Opening Night despite what the White Sox and Indians were doing last night on ESPN2. That's right, it was on the duece. That means it definitely doesn't count. And the rain delay, God pissing on Comiskey Park.

Opening Day is for optimists. Everyone thinks they still have a chance. Wait till next year is now. No one has had their hopes and dreams for a post season crushed yet. Even the Detroit Tigers who have had a losing record for the last 12 years. That's right, twelve years. Ever since Illich bought this team, they stunk.

And even though the Tigers open play on the road (and it's a good thing because it's sleeting here right now) with the lowly Royals, they've not been mathmatically eliminated from playoff contention. That'll come in May.

Opening Day in Detroit is an unofficial holiday. Everyone skips work and goes to the game. Where they typically freeze as it's early April. If you're lucky, it'll make 50. That's without the wind. If you do have to work, invariably someone will figure out how to get a tv feed so you can watch while pretending to work.

If it's wrong to hope for an earthquake that destroys both the Chicago White Sox and the Indians, I don't want to be right. That'll just leave Minnesota to worry about and that's plenty for the Tabbies.

It's the smell of ballpark hot dogs mingling with cut grass and stale beer. The sound of the umps and the vendors. Emerging from the concourse into the field proper and being dazzled by the grass, the white of the bags and foul lines stretching into infinity. It's the crack of the bat, the pop of the glove, the bang bang of a throw to first and the runner hitting the base while everyone holds their breath for the ump's signal. Crappy organ music during the 7th inning stretch. Little kids with mitts learning how to score a game on the program insert. Double headers. Fireworks after homers. Walking on peanut shells. Talking with strangers just because they're seated next to you. The thrill of having the bases loaded. Using body English to try to keep a ball fair.

Play ball.