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16 posts from September 2006

Having Not Learned My Lesson From the Athletic Trainers, LMNOP Will Now Decry Yet Another Profession

Vending machine designers and manufacturers of the world, be advised: you are some lucky bastards.  You're lucky because I'm lazy and unambitious, and that is the only thing keeping me from getting into your industry and putting you all out of business with one simple little button that, when added to machines, will increase customer satisfaction AND result in greater profits for me.  Intrigued?  That's because you're morons.  You shouldn't be intrigued.  You should have already made this button years ago.  Everyone who has ever stood in front of a vending machine has GOT to have had this idea at some point or another--except, apparently, you.  Morons.

Well, since I'm not going into the vending machine business, I'm going to tell you my brilliant idea; not because I'm nice, but because it will save me some frustration down the road when I'm not carrying exact change.  But let's be clear: I am not doing this for you.  I am doing this for every person in the history of the world who has ever stood in front of a vending machine holding more than enough money to buy a KitKat, but has had leave empty handed because the "Please use exact change" light is on.

Vending machine people, for the love of God, add a 'TAKE MY MONEY ANYWAY' button--one that, when pressed, gives the customer the opportunity to pay for their 75-cent candy bar with a dollar and just let you keep the change.  The other day I stood in front of the drink machine at work holding a dollar bill and three dimes, which is five cents more than I need to buy a Diet Coke , but I had to go thirsty because the machine was only taking exact change.  Come on!  That's not how commerce works!

This is not the first time I have stood in front of a vending machine screaming, "OH MY GOD.  JUST TAKE THE EXTRA MONEY.  KEEP IT.  IT'S YOURS.  I'M WILLING TO PAY FIVE EXTRA DAMN CENTS FOR MY DIET COKE.  I MEAN . . . COME ON!  DON'T YOU UNDERSTAND?  THIS IS A WIN-WIN SITUATION!  YOU GET MORE MONEY, I GET MY SODA.  YOU CAN GO ON WITH YOUR LIFE, AND I CAN STOP TALKING TO A VENDING MACHINE.  SO PLEASE, FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS GOOD IN THIS GODFORSAKEN, EXACT-CHANGE-RIDDEN WORLD, TAKE MY EXTRA MONEY AND LET'S BE ON WITH IT!"  And you can bet I'm not the only person who's felt this way--there are many of us out here for whom the "keep the change" option would be a godsend.  So why have you not made it possible yet?

Please.  I'm asking you nicely.  Just make the button.  Please.

I Can't Tell If I Ended Up Proving Myself Right or Wrong

I hate horoscopes.  They are such B.S.  Like, how could everything that each of the billions of people on the earth do today all fall into one of twelve categories based on when they were born?  It's total crap, and the only way the horoscope writers do it is by making the predictions so vague that there is no way for them to be wrong.  As proof, I decided to read my horoscope this morning and then work all day to disprove it.  Well, what started as an insane attempt to prove myself to an already discredited branch of fake science turned into an even more insane mental game in which I based my actions on what I thought would be the best way to stick it to the forces of cosmic providence, even though I was trying to prove they didn't exist. 

Read on for the horoscope, followed by a true account of my battle against it.

Taurus. You feel an expanded sense of self-confidence and optimism. You may receive appreciation for the goals you have attained and you may broaden your contacts with successful, professional people. It's a good time to improve your education or broaden your experience through travel. As you tend to feel lucky and your expectations are high, it is better to avoid over optimism in your investments and purchases. You can feel increased self-confidence and courage. You can command the support of others and advance your goals through leadership and generosity. You can take pleasure through physical activity, such as sports, games and dancing. You may feel increased responsibility towards a friend who needs your encouragement now.

9:45 a.m. Decide to take preventive measures against this so-called "expanded sense of self-confidence and optimism."  See the following on the homepage: "Terror Report Draws Sobering Conclusions--Intelligence estimate released Tuesday depicts a global jihadist movement that is likely to grow more quickly than the West's ability to counter it."  Read entire article and feel decidedly un-optimistic.
Points: one for me.

11:15 a.m.: Am almost tricked by horoscope.  Notice that I should "avoid over optimism" in my "investments and purchases."  Am about to check my 401(k) balance, pat myself on the back and congratulate myself on what will surely be enough money to support me after my retirement.  Quickly stop when I realize that doing so would also fulfill the "expanded self-confidence" prediction.  Get a bag of pretzels instead. Work to maintain neutral attitude toward investments to so as to avoid avoiding over-optimism while also avoiding optimism.
Points: none for either side.

12:30 p.m.: My manager comes into my office and gives me an award for a project I did.  Damn.  This reeks of "appreciation for the goals I have attained."  Sense of self-confidence also expands slightly.
Points: two for horoscope, dammit.

1 p.m.: After fate's big lunchtime power play, am desperate to take the lead back.  Scan horoscope for ideas.  Note that I haven't broadened my contacts, made any kind of travel plans, commanded the support of others, or engaged in physical activity yet today.  If I can get through the day without doing any of those, that will be four big points to my name.  Am comforted slightly.
Points: none yet.

2:30 p.m.  Another bombshell.  Out of nowhere, Emily Guskin messages me:

Emily: interested in going to mexico for a week in january?
Well, not if it will improve my education or broaden my experience.  Seriously though, how do I answer this question?  Decide to let Emily give me some details as I wonder how far I can go before I'm making my horoscope correct.  If I say I'm interested and I'll let her know, that means I'm acting in alignment with the horoscope.  If I say no, that would be kind of a whack reason to turn down a cool trip. Dammit, horoscope!  You have cornered me.  Must concede this point.
Points: one more for the damn horoscope.

2:40 p.m.: Am floundering to stay competitive here.  Decide to tackle last sentence of horoscope.  Hastily send message to Kelly.

me: ok i have a cryptic question to ask you for a blog post
Kelly: yes
me: Do you feel like you need my encouragement today
Kelly: me?
like right now?
thats your blog post?
me: it's a question for it
for something
Kelly: oh
well, um, not really
me: GOOD
point for me
i needed that one
Kelly: sure
anything for the blog
Points: one for me.  Kind of a cheap one, but I'm allowing it so I can get back in the game.

4:00 p.m.:
Am very aware that the horoscope is not going down without a fight.  Decide to challenge the increased courage I am supposed to feel today.  Google "horrible injury" and dare myself to look at the image results.  Am not able to.  Still a wuss.
Points: one more for me.

6:00 p.m.: Realize that as long as there are no surprises for the rest of the day, and I avoid dancing, sports, leadership, and generosity, I will win this. 
Points: tentatively giving myself the win.

* * *

I was able to stay in a holding pattern for the rest of the day, but now I'm wondering: by proving that it is not impossible to disprove a horoscope, am I in fact proving that they aren't written so as to be vague enough not to be disprovable?  And even if I hadn't succeeded in disproving it, would that have been a sign that they were written vaguely, or just that they were correct?  I'm even more confused than ever, but in my heart of hearts I know that while I'm perhaps not the best at the empirical approach, I do know bullshit when I see it.  And horoscopes are some bullshit.

The Tyme Of My Life

My Internet was down again on Sunday/Monday, but here is the last post in the Six Flags series.  Fate tried to stop it from happening, but Fate doesn't know that my bizarre fixation with Six Flags cannot be stopped. 

I love Old Tyme photos, but man are they a cruel mistress.  You can only really get them at the beach and amusement parks, they're way too expensive, and I can never convince anyone to be in one with me.  I have thrown some really unpleasant fits in the past trying to get my friends and family to do these pictures, and only two times in my long life have I actually prevailed.  That's why I was thrilled! thrilled! thrilled! when Caitlin, Vanessa, Kelly, AND Doug ALL agreed IN ADVANCE (I have e-mails in my inbox dating back to August 8 on the this issue) to do an Old Tyme photo at our Six Flags trip on Sunday.  They didn't even need to be convinced!  They WANTED to do it!  Hallelujah!

It is my firm belief that being in an Old Tyme photo with someone takes your friendship to the next level.  You have been back in time with them!  Plus, you are further united by the mutual shame at having spent, as a group, $35 on one single 8x10 picture.

The first thought to cross my mind on the morning of our Six Flags trip was, I swear, "OLD TYME PHOTO!!!"  Spelled with the old-timey "y" and everything.  Whereas most days in my life are just days, that day was a day in which I was guaranteed to participate in a photo session requiring me to wear one-size-fits-all period wear and take my place on a fake saloon bar and attempt to create the facial expression of an antique hooker.  Score!

If the Old Tyme Photo session hadn't lived up to my expectations, I would have been crushed; fortunately, though, it went perfectly.  We arrived at the studio midday and chose our costumes.  As the ladies oohed and aahed over feather boas, crazy hats, and outfits designed to be 19th-century slutty, we kind of forgot about Doug.  However, at some point we turned around and were blown away by how, well, perfectly natural he seemed to look in his cowboy outfit.  I'm not sure of the specific character traits that make a person so adaptable to Old Tyme situations, but I guess Doug embodies a fair amount of them.

We set up against our saloon backdrop and the photographer pushed up a wooden block covered with a fake sack of money and some liquor bottles to hide our feet, which were covered in our very unauthentic shoes. Apparently nobody in the 1800s had 'Roos--go figure.  The photographer then coached us through a set of standard poses: the serious one, the smiling one, the sexy one, and the smirking one.  After that, she gave us creative license.  "OK, this is your chance to do whatever pose you want," she said.  There was a moment of silence as we thought. Then someone (Caitlin maybe?) shouted, "LET'S LOOK WASTED!"  Bingo.  We all grabbed the prop liquor bottles, and our muscle memory took care of the rest. 

A few minutes later, after we had changed back into our normal clothes and the photographer had loaded our photos onto a computer and pressed the magic "Old Tyme" button (also known as 'sepia'), we were ready to choose our winning pose.  We agreed that the serious one was dumb, the smily one was OK, and the smirky one was kind of lame.  The sexy one was, needless to say, sort of unsexy.  But, oh, the drunk pose!  It was sublime.  It was beautiful.  It was our Old Tyme photo.


Would You Be Mad If I Just Turned This Into a Blog About Six Flags?

You know how Gwen Stefani went to Japan and when she came back she was all into Harajuku?  Well I fear that's kind of how I am with Six Flags this week.  PG County's favorite theme park may not be the world's hippest muse, but for some reason my trip there Sunday inspired a lot of material.  However, I was without internet on Tuesday and Wednesday, so instead of being able to get all of my Six Flags thoughts out of my head I ended up coming up with even more.  As a result, both today's and tomorrow's posts will have something to do with Six Flags.  Sorry in advance.  Now, on to today's post about amusement park games:

Throughout history, there have been many authors and philosophers who saw life as nothing more than a bitter struggle that culminates in despair and worthlessness.  I feel like these thinkers would have hated carnival games. I mean, nothing epitomizes a dead end in the search for the meaning of life quite like paying an $5 per person to participate in a game that is rigged against you so that on the off chance you win you can have a gigantic ugly monkey made out of poly-felt and pencil shavings.  That's why I've decided to invent some new carnival games that you have a chance of winning at.

Game: White Trash Bingo
Difficulty Level: Easy
Instructions: Split into teams and give each group a Bingo card filled with white trash items/trends they must spot around the park (Fat woman in a string bikini top is the free space, obvi).  Teams must present photographic evidence for their bingos to count. Good items to include: rattail, mesh top, prepubescent girl in skanky tank top, Confederate flag paraphernalia, shirtless man holding a beer and a baby, someone outside of the water park area wearing just a swimsuit.

Game: Alexander Hamilton Dinner Challenge
Difficulty Level: Hard
Instructions: See who can buy the most food for under $10. No stealing.

Game: Vomit Roulette
Difficulty Level: Medium
Instructions: Take two six-sided dice.  On one of them, label each of the sides with a name of one of the rides in the park, and make sure you have a good variety of fast, slow, and extremely nauseating choices.  On the other die, label each side with the name of a type of carnival food, like popcorn, hot dog, gigantic turkey leg, etc.  The first player rolls both dice, and must then eat the food and ride the ride the dice tell him too.  He gets one point if he doesn't vomit.

Game: Yellowjacket Chicken
Difficulty Level: Ranges from Easy to Hard, depending on bee allergies
Instructions: All players stand in a row holding gigantic cups of coke and things of cotton candy.  Players are not allowed to move, even as the bees swarm around them.  Any player who flinches, screams, or swats is out.  The game goes on until only one player is standing. (Speed game option: If you want to end the game for time's sake, the remaining player with the most bee stings wins.  He gets to eat all the cotton candy.)

Good luck!

We Don't Watch Them So You, Um, Have To

Let's face it: life needs more movie previews.  That's why I've decided to give summaries of some of fall's new movies, even though I haven't seen any of them.  As such, these summaries are based entirely on impressions I've gotten from movie trailers and clues I have picked up from these promotional photographs.  Maybe Roger Ebert has the time to actually sit through movies, but he's getting paid. 


















The End. 
Be sure to see them all and tell me if I was close.

Just In Case Your Monday Morning Isn't FANTASTIC! Enough

As I sat at my computer earlier this evening and reviewed the photos I'd taken today during my trip to Six Flags (with Kelly, Doug, Caitlar, and Caitlar's friend Vanessa) I was amazed at how jubilant/goony/on-happiness-crack we looked in all of the pictures.  As I went through them I realized there were barely any that didn't have at least one of us giving a thumbs up and crying out in glee.  It started to remind me of one of my favorite scenes in one of my somewhat-favorite movies, and I knew that I would not be able to get said scene and its associated song out of my head until I had made the world's cheesiest photo slideshow, complete with animated Word Art, corny transition effects, a watermark from the crappy program I downloaded for free, and, of course, background music.  So I did, and it's awful.  (Hopefully Matt Price won't confuse it with a Jeremy Ring campaign ad.)  But it's also wonderful, and it might be just the right thing to light a fire under your weary, cornflower blue, Monday-hating ass.  If you have the time, I recommend downloading it (here) instead of watching it on YouTube, because it's a billion times better when the resolution is sharper and you can really make out the crazy looks on our faces.  But of course I have it on YouTube here for you too.

Seriously, don't you feel like you were right there with us?!

Also, I imagine it's pretty clear what movie served as my inspiration for this, but here's the reference just in case. (go 1:17 in). 

I Do Love the BBC's "Global Diplomacy Boo-Boos" Series

Granted, US Weekly isn't exactly known for being a beacon of taste and class, but lately their new blog layout has lent to some  headlines that are tacky even for them.  If you're not up to speed on their website redesign, there are two main components to the site: the "US Weekly Online" main page with their magazine content and feature-y type stuff, and their "This Minute" blog , which is a sub-site of the main page and is updated several times a day.  As a way of linking the two sites and feeding traffic into the relatively new blog, the main page also spotlights the three newest posts over on the blog with a small picture, blurb, and the words "Get the Scoop!" written in pink and linked to the related post.  Nothing too crazy about that.  However, things start to get tacky in the execution--there have been some grim stories in the celebrity world over the past week, and something about the cheerful pink "Get the Scoop!" text just doesn't go well with, say, death:


Tasteful.  It also works well with suicide:


Awkward much?  And sometimes it's just downright confusing:


Huh?  However, I must admit that in the depths of my soul I kind of wish more of the mainstream media would use this format--it's just so delightfully earnest, so blithely unaware of things like context and appropriateness.  Wouldn't this information about international tensions, nuclear weapons and general global queasiness and distrust . . .


. . . Be a lot easier to swallow if it were presented like this:


Actually, now that I've done it all up like that, I guess it kind of just looks like Fox News.  (Ooh, journalism zinger!)

That's So LMNOP

In lieu of posting original content today, I will instead be linking you to three websites that contain articles I wish I had written myself.

The first is one I may have already linked to in the past, but since we all know how much I love stock photography, it's certainly worth posting again: Forty Media's list of the "Top Ten Stock Photography Cliches."  I have definitely used 1, 4, and 7 many a time at work.  And I think I'm going to start making an effort to do more with #2.

Next we have Internet '96, a great article that uses the Internet Archive to give a hilarious critique of some major companies' web pages from 1996.  The screenshots alone are worth the trip, but the commentary is awesome too.

Lastly, Radar proves that the only thing dumber than senators' web pages is congressmen's hair.  I can't decide if I prefer "crazy old white guy hair" or "extreme symmetry."  Thanks to Matt for the link.

OK, enjoy, and maybe I will write something of my own tomorrow.