Tuesday, November 30, 2010

1386 Lip Hoisting

I heard a radio ad for the Chapstick Company recently and it got me wondering. They were talking about the cool stuff their product does for your lips. Then they said find them of Facebook. I think they definitely were trying to tie in the lip and the face thing. Then they said you should go on Facebook to “get even more lip service from Chapstick.”
I get it.
They’re giving you service tips for your lips, so they are calling it “lip service.” They seem to know full well that the phrase “lip service” is out there. And they seem to be playing on it. Unfortunately, they don’t seem to know what “lip service” means.
Lip service means, essentially, fibbing. Blowing smoke. Lying through your teeth. A person giving lip service is often doing so with a forked tongue. You’re recognizing an idea with words but not with your heart. “He paid lip service to the ideals of democracy,” means he spoke all the right words, but was still talking out of both sides of his mouth
Which, come to think of it, probably does cause chapped lips.
Another phrase I’ve heard has a similar confusing meaning. “Hoist on his own petard.” The dictionary says it means, “undone by one’s own cleverness.”
But not literally. “Hoist” means raised up, like a car on a hoist. “Petard” sounds like a flag. So you sort of get run up your own flagpole?
But no. A petard is a bomb. So it actually means, “blown up by your own bomb.” No word on whether 40 virgins await after being hoist on your own petard.
So if you don’t want to be undone by your own cleverness, watch out how you use lip service.
America, ya gotta love it.

Monday, November 29, 2010

1385 Powerless

Recently, when the power went out, it was interesting to see all the little cultural things revealed while we were in the dark. The unusual thing about this power outage was it wasn’t universal. You could drive around town and there would be pockets of full-powered America, and then in a couple of blocks you’d be in the third world again.
People were pretty conscientious about driving cautiously. And intersections with dead traffic lights were treated as four-way stops on a fairly consistent basis. Only a few oblivioids screwed up, and when they did, they were treated to a chorus of honks from feisty frustrated motorists.
But still, it was amazingly civil, only complicated by the aforementioned sometimes on/sometimes off power blocks. You couldn’t settle in to one traffic pattern or another, and would occasionally forget.
I hate it when people honk at my car even when I don’t have a “Honk if you love Jesus” sticker on it.
The other thing I noticed was that where there was power, the drive-through latte stands had cars lined up for half a block. Power outages bring on major coffee crises. Living without all our power crutches is difficult anyhow, add being deprived of you daily coffee fix and watch out.
But there were technological compensations—sort of. One good thing was I didn’t need to grope for a rarely-used flashlight. I had the LED on my cellphone.
Still, when the power first went out at my house, all went blissfully silent. Then this really annoying beeping started. I finally traced it down. It was the backup battery powerstrip thingy on my computer. I’m glad it beeped to tell me the power was out. I may not have noticed otherwise—what with the pitch-blackness and all.
I’m just glad it didn’t honk.
America, ya gotta love it.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

1384 Dogsense

There’s been a lot of controversy lately about the new full body scanners the Transportation Safety Administration is putting in airports. Complaints range from pilots worried that repeated exposures would lead to unsafe doses of radiation, to consumers worried about distribution of the pictures and invasion of dignity and privacy.
I agree with all of them. Particularly when you know that this isn’t really security. It’s security theater. Why? Because they don’t do a real internal x-ray. Even if you opt the genital-massaging pat-down they offer as an alternative, they still don’t do a full cavity search.
Which means a sufficiently motivated suicide bomber has the option of going beyond his underwear or shoes and actually installing a bomb in his rectal cavity.
Talk about blowing it out your...you know.
The only answer is bomb-sniffing dogs. That’s right. Dogs have been proven to be far more accurate than any of the above described methods. Trained pooches could be stationed at all the check-in points. Instead of getting a cat scan, travelers would get a dog scan.
That’s what makes the next story so scary. And it shows how one-step-ahead-of-us clever al Qaida can be. They surgically implanted bombs in stray dogs, put them in kennel carriers, and tried to ship them to the US on planes. If the dogs hadn’t died from the bad surgery the very good bomb in them would have exploded.
Problem is, if a bomb-sniffing dog had sniffed the bomb on the bomb-carrying dog it would have just looked like what dogs do already.
“Look at that dumb dog sniffing the other dog’s butt. Get back over here Rover...Bad dog! Get to work. Can’t you see we got tourists to embarrass...”
America, ya gotta love it.

1383 Where’s Your Money

We’ve all heard how the last couple of decades have resulted in the largest concentration of wealth in the hands of the top 1% since the 1920s. So the big question is, where’s your money? That whole trickle down thing doesn’t seem to be working.
There’s trillions in cash sitting on the sidelines. But things aren’t getting better for most of us. A couple of interesting facts: GM is now profitable. The Obama Administration took a hit from the TeaPartiers for government bailouts, but GM is now going public again because last year it showed a profit. And the nefarious TARP funds are all paid back, at a profit to the feds. The government, and by extension the people, stand to make a profit.
Still, the people are underwhelmed. We won’t see much of it. Our middle class tax cut last year saved us a whopping total of $400. Not even enough for a big screen plasma TV.
Meantime, major corporations and industry groups that used to give money primarily to Republicans, gave 53% of their donations to Democrats in the mid-term elections. Maybe they’re looking for even more profit-inspiring government action or regulatory undersight.
You got to wonder. Here’s an interesting fact. From January of 2009, when President Obama took office, through June of 2010, corporate profits rose 62 percent. That was the strongest 18-month rise since the 1920s.
Ah yes, the 20s. The gilded age. Conspicuous consumption by Fat Cats—those people they made the drawings on the Monopoly board to represent.
“Perhaps I could interest you in a hotel on Park Place. What, you can’t afford it? Where’s your money? You lost it when you lost your 401k in my stock market? Naughty ordinary person.
“Do not pass go. Do not collect 400 dollars.”
America, ya gotta love it.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

1382 Brazilian Blowouting

“Brazilian Blowouts Endanger Lives!” the headline screamed. The possible meanings were manifold. Was there some recent influx of defective Brazilian tires in the US? Brazilians have been buying up all sorts of companies with their newfound oil wealth. Their oil comes from deep offshore wells. Was one of them gushing like a BP Blowout? Endangering wild and tame life.
The worst explanation was the most terrifying. Maybe it was a bikini-waxing gone horribly, desperately wrong. Larry from the Three Stooges came unbidden to my mind.
But no, the truth was more scary. My dear sister had led me to the headline and the story. Turns out a Brazilian Blowout is a hair treatment, all the rage with fashion forward folks everywhere. It’s essentially a hair straightener. It supposedly contains keratin, which is the natural protein that makes up your hair and fingernails. It’s very expensive. The makers of the product claim it’s perfectly safe.
One Portland beautician worried. After applying it to numerous women, she felt dizzy, brain-addled, and drugged. She called in a state chemist; some research was done, and guess what? The product contains massive amounts of formaldehyde—8 to 10% or more, far more than the point 2% considered safe.
If you ever leaned over a frog you were dissecting in biology class, you know what formaldehyde is and does. Like huffing some serious brain-damaging chemical.
My sister pointed out how this may explain the mental aberrations of Hollywood types that have had this treatment. OMG! Could Lindsey be a Brazilian Abuser?
Hey, it’s the logical next step. They’ve had facelifts, collagen and Botox, why not the ultimate preservative, Formaldehyde? No wonder they look like walking corpses.
Forget Lindsay, it’s time for a Joan Rivers intervention...
America, ya gotta love it.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

1381 Toughin’ It

In some ways it just doesn’t seem like the world is as tough as it used to be.
Like recently¾a Nepali Telecom firm put up a 3G tower on Mt Everest. This will allow climbers to make cell calls, send videos and access the internet all the way to the top. And, oh yeah, text.
There was something glorious about Tenzing Norgay and Sir Edmund Hillary scaling the world’s highest mountain¾and doing so with limited equipment and little contact from other humans. The fear factor increases tenfold when you’re on your own. They had to overcome the mountain and the isolation. There is something about going off into the unknown and being cut off from all help that is a psychological mountain to climb in and of itself. I’m not ready for a tweet from the top of Mt Everest.
“Really cold, gut-busting cramps, broken crampons, Tenzing cranky.”
Then there’s this story about the Hells Angels, prototypical tough guys. The folks you expect to instill the fear of God into all and sundry. The original modern outlaws, their resounding motorcycle pipes a death knell for any who dare challenge their supremacy.
Guess what? Turns out the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club is suing Saks Fifth Avenue and Alexander McQueen Fashion House for using the Angel’s winged “death head” logo. You heard me. The Hells Angels are suing someone for copyright infringement. How far we’ve come.
I can see it now: You hear the roaring in the distance. You know it’s coming for you. Twenty motorcycles pull up to the curb, their riders clad in torn denim, leather, and chains. Their leader raises his hairy tattooed arm and shakes his fist. Out of his sidecar steps the toughest guy in the group...
Their, um, lawyer.
And he hands you some papers...
America, ya gotta love it.

Monday, November 22, 2010

1380 I Slide

The more we get technology the more we stay the same. Things like Twitter and I-pads and Facebook supposedly connect us more, but we’re the same dysfunctional people wielding these devices.
The recent story about 1.2 Billion Tweets sent and only 71% responded to shows there’s still more who want others to care than those who care. And useless, pathetic Tweets and Facebook updates don’t help. I mean really, do I actually care if you’re deciding on Mac and Cheese or a Big Mac for dinner? There ought to be a one-key response emoticon that stands for “Get a Life!”
Speaking of Big Macs, I understand Apple is coming up with a new MacIntosh slate device for Gaelic folk. They’re calling it the I-Plaid.
I-Pads and smartphones have also brought back a briefly forgotten side of human nature. Or at least made it more portable. The other day this person showed me pictures of her family’s last trip to Walla Walla. She did it with her I-pad. Not long after, this guy showed me a very long video on his smartphone of a trip he took. Amazing that all that data could be packed into a little phone.
Unfortunately I felt trapped. Watching his video at a party with a lot of other stuff going on. Me and about three other guys looking over his shoulder as he held up his phone. And I thought, dude, this experience is familiar.
It’s like being invited over to the neighbors to watch this excruciatingly long slide show of his most recent family vacation. Except now, you can’t just be trapped in his family room. You can be trapped anywhere.
Technology rises, or sinks, to the level of humanity. Smartphones don’t bore people. People bore people.
America, ya gotta love it.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

#1379 Electioneers

The recent all mail election offered a sad side note. Displaced election volunteers. If you’re like me, most of the times you’ve gone to vote in the past, you’ve gone to your polling place, at a church.
I loved the smell of Church polling places¾that combo of perfume, pledge on the pews, and damp mold on the hymnals. The semi-annual duty of democracy never changed it much, no matter who came in reeking of what in their endeavor to exercise the franchise. Maybe because no one has ever had the gall to pass gas in these hallowed halls, and it is the absence of residual odor rather than its presence that lends a church its unique angelic aroma.
I miss the election volunteers, the old ladies and gents that helped us when we voted. Who peeled off the “I Voted” sticker. Who checked my signature against the one in the book. Who ripped off my ballot stub. What do those people do now to replace that wonderful senior diversion?
I have this vision of elderly ladies not getting the memo and showing up to a deserted church on that first time in November after we converted to Vote-by-mail. They sat there and sat there, their lavender cachets and scented blue hair emanating an odor that mingled effortlessly with the aforementioned atmosphere of the church, like a soul ascending into heaven. With nothing to do, they chattered about great-grandchildren, broke out crochet hooks, and traded yarns about elections passed. One of them mentioned souvenirs and another, inspired, dug into her voluminous purse, and among the discarded tissues and cellophane butterscotch candy wrappers, she found and revealed, to the oohs and ahhs of her cronies, a bag of old chads, dimpled, bulging, and yes, hanging.
Like the sad head of a displaced volunteer…
America ya gotta love it.

1378 Beggar Cleaner

People do interesting things with their dogs. You see them training them to do all sorts of tricks. When I see a dog jump through a hoop of fire or swim a river to save a child, it’s awfully impressive. I’ve had some pretty dumb dogs, so I’m amazed if you can even get one to roll over.
What I don’t like though, is the owners who take great pleasure in making their dogs beg. It’s so demeaning somehow. Here’s this poor innocent animal. All it wants to do is: A, please its master and B, get a treat. And the master derives cruel pleasure from making it beg. And beg in front of friends, neighbors, even the family cat.
It just seems wrong somehow. An abuse of power. If you love your animal, allow it some self-respect. “Here Rover, come on...beg.” “You really want the treat don’t you? So beg.”
I guess some folks just want to be king or something. Power-tripping on their pets. Look everyone; I turned my noble Irish setter into a mewling beggar. Aren’t I great?
No¾self-respecting dogs like to work for their treats. So I had an interesting idea the other day. Shih tzu Duct Cleaning. Or possibly Lhasa Apso. Any small hairy dog would do. You could even use one of those curly haired ones. Nothing like a cockapoo for the really caked-on grime.
You could call your company Doggone Duct Cleaning. Put a treat at one end of the ductwork in question and turn your shih tzu loose at the other. Voila, out the treat end emerges a giant friendly dirt ball.
Kind of like a retriever, except in this case they’re fetching dust bunnies.
And cheap too. People would be begging for your service.
America, ya gotta love it.

1377 Pet Pictures

I read a fair amount of books. Which means I get to look at a fair amount of “Author Portraits.” You know the ones. They’re the pictures on the back cover of a book. Or possibly on the inside back flap of a hardback book sleeve.
I find it interesting to read an entire book then save my view of the author till the last. I’m often surprised by the visage thereon. You read this bold and muscular story and then the author looks like Casper Milquetoast.
I’m also amazed by how many author types seem to feel it’s necessary to pose with their pets.
I wonder about the psychology behind the practice. Are they trying to establish something? Perhaps their generosity to all living things? Could be, these are often authors who write in gruesome detail about murders, mayhem, and suchlike. Maybe they are just trying to show us their humanity by contrasting themselves to their pets’ animalosity.
Cats seem to be more the norm than dogs in these pictures. Often, the author seems to be clutching the cat rather desperately— either the cat is trying to escape or the socially-challenged author is petrified of the photographer and the cat is more crutch than prop. Even worse is the author who poses in such a way as to have a cat-like expression on his or her face.
I don’t get it. What is it they are trying to say? “You’ll be sure to like my book because I am liked by my cat.” Or, “Even if you don’t like my book, my cat still loves me.” Or, “Look. I not only can write, I can hold a cat against its will, and sort of look like a cat too.”
America, ya gotta love it.

Monday, November 15, 2010

1376 Young Vote

As the talk winds down about the meaning of the last election, I think a couple of points are worthy of mention.
Midterm elections generally do what this one did—give the sitting president a thumping. It happened with Reagan, Clinton, and both Bushes. The only one in recent memory it didn’t happen with was Carter. And all that pent-up desire for change did him in in one term.
Sitting presidents get blamed for stuff. But presidents can also work with the other party to effect change. There’s nothing like an electoral drubbing to help you reset your mandate.
The job numbers are improving. The last five quarters have shown slow but steady growth. The stock market is back to the stratosphere. The signs are positive. They were just a little slow to help the Dems in time for the election.
Midterm elections—the laggiest lagging economic indicator.
And hey, with the surge in employment numbers generated by all the new Republicans being employed, things are sure to perk up.
Still. You have to be concerned. We were in a pretty deep pit. And it’s only been two years. Was Obama a victim of the voter base that vaulted him into power in the first place? Did the younger voters bow out? Was the instant gratification generation absent without leave?
Politicians are always wary of the younger vote. Historically, it’s not been as reliable as oldsters. Shake the Social Security sword and the rattling will wake a septuagenarian. And with vote by mail, he can do so from his Depends dispenser. The rattle this time was from the fear the new socialist health care bill would take away their socialist Medicare.
But the young? Who knows?
Maybe if they’d been allowed to text in their vote...
America, ya gotta love it.

Friday, November 12, 2010

1375 Crooner

I was listening to a radio commercial not long ago for a guy performing at one of the local casinos. The commercial said the entertainer was one of America’s celebrated icons, whatever that means, and also that he was a legendary crooner.
I’m not sure which I’d rather be, an icon or a crooner. An icon sounds like a little picture on my computer desktop. But crooner...what the heck is a crooner?
It certainly implies that at some point one is engaged in the act of crooning. Which sounds, for some reason, not unlike the act of mooning.
If you play with the conjugation of the verb to croon, you don’t get too much help. I croon. He croons. We once crooned. They will be crooning. It all sounds so painful. Like a lounge lizard mating ritual.
Where did this word creep into our language?
Did it have something to do with sooners, those folks that were early settlers of Oklahoma? Did one of those sooners start caterwauling and get a cramp? So they called the sounds emerging from his cramped caterwauling sooner lips “crooning”? Or did he have a crumpet at noon and call it a croon and sing till he rattled his spoon and a cow jumped over the moon?
The etymology dictionary says “croon” comes from a Scottish word that originally meant, “to bellow like a bull,” and then for some reason evolved to mean “to lament” and eventually “to sing softly and sadly.”
Perhaps the cow had a crumpet at noon. Or the bull was in the process of becoming a steer. And a soft and tender steak was on the way.
That explains the German phrase, “When the bull bellows in pain, say danke schoen.”
America, ya gotta love it.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

1374 Eek Lips

So I was in the grocery store the other day. And I decided I needed some gum. I chew the sugarless variety, as I have discovered that grinding raw sucrose into one’s teeth with the sugared variety is perhaps not a good idea cavity-wise.
Sucrose might more aptly be pronounced su-gross vis-√†-vis the tooth-destroying effects of said acid-producing and bacteria-feeding sugars. One’s teeth may as well be whittled down to fangs.
Which, oddly, seemed to be promoted by the sugarless variety I picked. It was the Wrigley’s brand Eclipse. Now I have used Eclipse gum before, and like its longlastiness and bright flavor. My particular favorite flavor is spearmint, which, for some reason, always sounds like an after-dinner treat at a violent cannibal party.
In any event, Eclipse, the gum, has decided to trade on the popularity of Eclipse, the movie, and so has a promotional thing going on its packets. That’s right, a sugar-free breath-sweetening gum has a co-branding promotion going with a vampire movie.
Hmmm. Vampire gum... Why does that sound like a previously overlooked marketing opportunity? Of course. Vampires must have exceptionally bad breath. I have a devil of a time freshening my mouth after a glass of milk. Imagine what a carafe of blood would do to one’s breath. Especially if you suck the blood of a guy named Hal who eats lots of garlic. Man. Talk about halitosis.
“Dude, floss your clots or something, your breath could wake the dead.”
So Eclipse is the perfect solution to vampire breath. And I suppose it sums up the reaction of folks to a vampire’s bloody lips. Especially if the sight of those lips makes someone go “eek.”
Get it? Eek-lips...
You’re killing me here...
America, ya gotta love it.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

1373 Care Package

Sometimes I think our problem is we don’t care. We’ve become blas√© about everything. Or maybe we’re so assaulted and pummeled by the 24-hour news cycle we’re just crawling back into our holes and quivering like a neurotic Chihuahua.
A couple of recent news stories seem to bare me out. First on the don’t-care front, or possibly on the bare-me-out front, the story of a man getting damages from an incompetent stripper. A Florida man was awarded 650,000 dollars after being hit in the face by a dancer’s shoe at a strip club. Apparently the guy was sitting at the bar when a bar-dancing stripper clonked him with her clog.
Since then he’s experienced double vision and dizziness. Isn’t that what you usually experience in a strip bar? I thought that’s what you were paying for.
The bar’s name was Cheetah by the way, like the fast animal, even though it sounds like what the roofer was intending on being—a cheetah.
But my point is, shouldn’t the stripper have cared more? At what point in the stripper’s desire to do her job better would she come up with the idea of kicking some guy in the head.
Not the playful teasing you’d expect from her repertoire. Man, you gotta see that stripper at the Cheetah, she’s a kick.
Another example: A recent study by a social media analytics company found that 71% of the 1.2 billion tweets posted in the last two months generated no reaction whatsoever. So much for reaching out and touching someone. 852 million people sharing, and hoping for a response—a connection, however electronic, from another human being. And nothing.
Digital silence essentially saying, who cares?
Talk about being kicked in the head...
America, ya gotta love it.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

1372 Dis-Claimer

I hate political attack ads. But the interesting thing is, they work. Most people don’t respond to nuanced gentile arguments about policy. But everybody seems to love a vicious attack. And usually an attack that with a little thought and a few un-lazy checks of the facts would be easy to dispute.
I had an election ad epiphany the other day. I was listening to the radio. An automobile ad came on first. It was extolling the virtues and low prices of some vehicle. The first 15 seconds of the ad were about the car. The next 15 seconds were the legal disclaimer that it was actually 2 cars on that particular lot that with approval-of-credit may qualify for the discount offered.
Right after that, a political attack ad came on. The perpetrator, excuse me candidate, proceeded to make a bunch of buzzword-laden innuendos and negative assertions, and then report purported support for those assertions. Then guess what? No disclaimer.
Isn’t it weird that we force someone doing something as innocuous as selling a car to jump through elaborate regulatory loops, and we allow folks running for the highest offices in the land to lie? Or at least omit the full truth.
Maybe the ad should read, “Polls show my opponent has been disapproved by a majority of voters, (non-random polls actually conducted by my private polling firm using people who always vote my way)” Or, “The Seattle Times says (not the actual Seattle Times, quote originates from paid ad from my election committee in the Seattle Times).”
I like it. They’d have to lie less since it would take up too much space to un-lie.
Because if you’re gonna be dissing on someone you should have to use the dis-claimer.
America, ya gotta love it.

Monday, November 08, 2010

1371 Out Wedding

One of the big items in the gossip news recently was the wedding of Russell Brand and Katy Perry. I wish them the best. Marriages are hard enough; in the pressure cooker of pop culture, even more so.
But what was interesting about their marriage was they chose to have the actual ceremony in India. Amazing, I thought. Are we outsourcing our celebrity weddings now too?
Why there? Are the paparazzi here that much fiercer than India? Did they both have a Maharishi Yogi Beatles fetish? Wasn’t there a local place they could have spent all that money?
Or maybe it was a language issue. He was from England, she was from the United States. Maybe they wanted a neutral English speaking country.
But the whole thing did bring the outsourcing thing back to mind. We are used to outsourcing our manufactured goods. Even our computer troubleshooting services. But our major life experiences?
Here’s some outsourcing maybe we should consider. I was reading an article the other day about communities bidding to get federal prisons. Heads in beds for motels as visitors came. Construction and maintenance jobs for the facility. And most importantly steady high-paid employment for the local folks.
All at taxpayer expense.
Maybe we could cut that cost down. Outsource our federal prisons. The CIA already apparently has a network of secret interview facilities. Perhaps bring those out in the open.
It’s gotta be a lot cheaper to ship a three-times-you’re-outer all the way out. And feed and clothe him or her where our current local prisoner standard of living would be considered the height of luxury.
I hate shipping jobs overseas. But when the overseers work so cheap...
And we do have such a big deficit...
America, ya gotta love it.

Friday, November 05, 2010

1370 Taxing Forms

I got this notice in the mail recently that disturbed me. It was a little three-by-five, cheap, postcard-sized form. It looked almost exactly like those invitations you get to watch free condo presentations.
The kind of thing that usually takes an instantaneous unlooked-at trip to my recycle bin.
Fortunately, for some reason I looked at it and saw the words Internal Revenue Service. That got my attention. Turned out it was a notice from the feds that they’re no longer going to send the paper tax packet they’ve been sending me since I first went to work at age 16. Documented non-under-the-table non-migrant farmwork that is.
The IRS notice said that in order to save costs, they’ll no longer be shipping the tax forms. They’re still printing them, as I can stop by a local taxpayer assistance center and pick them up.
But the big thrust of the feds’ notice was a pitch to do e-filing. “It’s so easy,” they said. “And popular. Everyone is doing it.” Sounded more like a pitch for reefer madness.
Not me. I’m still too e-paranoid to have sensitive financial data on my computer—much less electronically send it out.
I know. Everyone does it. Everyone does Facebook too. And the feds hacked into Iran’s computers and sent a worm directly to a nuclear plant to disable it. What could go wrong? We all know the internet is perfectly secure.
The feds did give me one more option. I can download and print my own forms. Great. As if taxes aren’t enough, now I have to stand the cost of paper and ink. Oh well, we all need to do our part.
That 1.5 trillion deficit will probably be recovered pretty quick if we all print our own tax forms.
America, ya gotta love it.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

1369 Dummy Dums

Ya gotta wonder about candymakers sometimes. What are they thinkin’ when it comes to names? I’ve mentioned before how odd it is they named a candy Milk “Dud.” It implies total failure. Why wasn’t the idea of naming a candy “dud” deemed a dud?
So it is with a little sucker I ran across recently. I always forget they make these candies until I see a bowl of them for customers at some office or shop. They are called Dum Dums.
The implications are many. First, it’s a sucker. So I question the wisdom of giving one to one of your customers anyhow. Not only might your patron interpret some hidden meaning to being offered a sucker. It could be a lot worse if you offer them a sucker named Dum Dums.
And what about the manufacturer? Are they implying we would have to be stupid to buy these things? Maybe so. The label I saw on one of them recently seems to confirm this suspicion.
Dum Dums have flavors—strawberry, lemon, lime, etc. Each of them labeled on their little wax paper wrapper accordingly. This Dum Dum was marked “Mystery Flavor.”
That’s pretty scary. Is it a bottom of the batch sort of thing? All the flavors mixed in the dregs of the pot? What does that say about the hygiene of the factory?
Or are they just testing us? Are the tepid flavors of Dum Dums not unlike M&Ms? It doesn’t really matter what color it is, it tastes the same. Watermelon, Mystery Flavor, who cares?
Or are they challenging us? Hey, we dared you to eat something called Dum Dums, and you did. Try this, um, mystery flavor.
Surprise! A liver flavored sucker!
I think I’m sticking to Smarties.
America, ya gotta love it.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

1368 Free-Standing BTUs

Sometimes the ol’ brain just wanders off in weird directions.
Like the other day, I was emceeing some public event. As I was engaged in my antics up on stage, I noticed a 2-year old in the audience laughing and enjoying himself. Then I looked at the other side of the crowd and there was this really old guy from one of the retirement homes. Excuse me, assisted senior living facilities. Anyhow, he was smiling too. And I thought, I should put that on my resume. Diapers to Diapers, All Ages Entertainer.
Not long after that, I got this notice in the mail from a new birthing center that was having a grand opening. It’s a really nice place run by really nice people. The flyer was pretty nice too. It noted it’s a state-licensed facility. But it also said something odd. It said the place was the area’s only free-standing birth center.
Free-standing? For some reason a Native American birthing method from the movie Jeremiah Johnson popped into my mind. Or was it Dances with Wolves?
And lastly, I was at the LOTT treatment facility. You know, where they treat sewage. They have this new power generation plant there. Basically, they make methane from solid waste, then use the heat from burning that methane to make power.
So every time you engage in your morning, um, constitutional you’re making a contribution to the power grid. Maybe we should call it a morning contributional. Talk about personal power.
I just think it’s so cool our whole community can generate energy. I’ve heard of the power of coming together. We’ve got the power of going together.
So I was wondering, do they measure it in BTUs? Or BUTs?
America, ya gotta love it.

1367 Scam-genuity

Seems like not a day goes by that we don’t hear of some privacy invasion or security breach from Facebook. And yet people continue to use it without concern. Perhaps proving the Facebook founder’s assertion that privacy is dead.
There’s a new Facebook thing that lets other people add you to their group without asking you. Some electronic wag added the Facebook founder to the National Association of Man Boy Love just to show him what a good idea that was.
A privacy foundation recently found that apps on Facebook, like Farmville and others, were harvesting private data—actual names and addresses—and sending them to third parties and advertisers.
They know your buying habits, they know your friends. Facebook forces you to turn the other cheek and bend over too.
A security expert recently pointed out there are millions of pictures of children and moms on Facebook. With names. When those kids grow up and think their mother’s maiden name is a great secret password, look out.
So it’s refreshing to get an old-fashioned scam once in a while. The other day I came home to a hand-placed “Delivery Notice” sticker stuck on my door. It said there was a package waiting to be delivered to me. The notice had the attractive murky yellow and brown colors of UPS. And an 888 number. I almost called.
Then I read a little closer. The sticker was actually telling me they wanted to deliver a “promotional package.” And it wasn’t from UPS. It was from Coastal Aire Concepts. A condo presentation deal.
Ah, scam-genuity.
Still, it was refreshing. In this day of wholesale electronic spam laziness, they actually went to the physical work of putting a sticker on my door… to stick it to me.
America, ya gotta love it.

1366 Sign Off

I was driving from point A to point B the other day and I noticed something that has been staring me in the face for a long time. There are signs everywhere.
And not just ordinary signs. Semi-illegal signs.
Have you noticed lately how cheesy banners are proliferating on sides of buildings? They’re worse than the little illegal stick-em up signs stapled into the side of the road.
And it’s because they are legal—sort of. For years, cities, in an attempt to beautify the cityscape, have enacted sign ordinances. They do this because businesses, ever after the cheapest way to advertise, would put up all manner of not-so-tasteful signs in front of their buildings.
This in a bow to the notion that we are a drive-by economy and all that traffic driving by the front of their businesses needs to be apprised of the prizes said business owners have for them inside.
The ordinances sought to contain the negative visual effects of that urge. Citizens were treated, for a while, to a modicum of relief from the often-tacky evidences of that entrepreneur enthusiasm.
Then the businesses found the loophole. “Temporary” signs on the actual walls of their buildings were exempt. Enter the permanent “sale” sign. And something else. Businesses began to rent out their walls to other businesses for the banner space. So now a business doesn’t just have a “temporary” sign proclaiming his killer prices on Bud Light, he also has semi-permanent signs for a hot tub company, and maybe a bail bond company with no frontage and a cheap back-alley location.
So is this just another example of business thumbing its nose at intrusive government regulation?
Or a bad example to our graffiti-spraying youth that laws are meant to be ignored? America, ya gotta love it.