Saturday, February 10, 2007

Orville Redenbacher & Johnnycab: Spawns of the Same Unholy Science?

A Commercial to Watch For

I couldn't find the video online, so I'll just alert you to keep your eyes peeled:

There's a Smart Start commercial featuring a woman who is attractive-looking, but has a nasal, whining voice that sounds like someone took Fran Drescher and cross-bred her with your Aunt Schmulka. This yenta is the strangest, most fascinating casting choice of the year.

UPDATE 2/16/07: The ad is now online. Judge for yourself:

Caution: I Want to Hit O'Reilly With a Frying Pan

"That's not a good place, Counselor. Are you aware of that?"

-- imbecile Bill O'Reilly, when an attorney mentions that the Smith/Marshall case is being heard in the Court of Appeals in San Francisco, The O'Reilly Factor, 2/9/07

Cheating in the Blame Game

The Boston Police overreact spectacularly to a Cartoon Network ad... and the Cartoon Network guy loses his job.

Students use cell phone cameras to catch verbally and physically abusive teachers in the act... and Bill O'Reilly does a segment on how this is proof we should ban cell phones in schools.

Hobbyists discover a fundamental flaw in lock security, and news of the flaw is spread virally through web videos. Many of us wait for the lock industry and/or media to take notice. Finally, The Today Show does a segment... on how irresponsible and dangerous web videos are.

Sean Hannity is known to be very particular about the private jets provided to him for speaking engagements. The House Sergeant at Arms, on his own initiative, requests a plane capable of nonstop travel for Nancy Pelosi... and Nancy Pelosi endures 48 hours of nonstop mockery and criticism, especially from Sean Hannity.

George W. Bush fails to fulfill his military service requirements, and CBS news personnel are punished.

Douglas Feith and Dick Cheney manipulate and manufacture pre-war (and during-war) intelligence, and 3100 Americans die.

Sensing a pattern here?

Friday, February 09, 2007

I Love It: "This Can't Possibly Be the Best They've Got"

The Geek Gadget We All Need Two Of

USB flash drives. Get two. Today.


If you already use USB drives, this is old news to you. If you've seen them and thought, "Oh, those are only for geeks" then you might want to read on.

Also known as thumb drives, you see them at Office Depot or Staples or Best Buy or even drug stores, sometimes for as little as twenty bucks. Grab a couple. With as much capacity as you can get a good deal on. Doesn't matter what kind. Sandisk makes good ones, so does Lexar.

And if you want to get schmancy, you can get any kind you want: Disney drives, Hello Kitty drives, MP3/FM radio drives,
Swiss Army drives, sushi drives, tiki drives, bendy stackable drives, pen drives, , really teeny-tiny drives, spaghetti drives, and even wooden drives worthy of Len Tukwilla.)

Put one on your keychain or in your purse or briefcase. Leave it there. Whenever you are working on something, like a paper or a project or a speech or a script, whip it out and save a copy. Every time I leave Starbucks or the library, I email myself a copy of the script I was working on
and save a copy on my keychain drive. (It may seem like a belt and suspenders to you, but I ain't taking any chances.)

When you're about to get on a plane, put the pictures you took on your trip or the notes from your meeting on the flash drive. Save a password protected file on the flash drive of any sensitive data, so you always have it with you. Some drives have a fingerprint scanner, so only you can access the data.

Some flash drives let you carry a miniature version of your computer around with you. Plug it into someone else's PC, and it's as if you're working on your own. Unplug it, it's as if you were never there.

And, of course, you can keep your porn stash on it.

Now, as for the other drive, the one you're not carrying around:

Scan your birth certificates, driver's license, credit cards, insurance policies, any important documents you can think of, and put all those files on that flash drive. Put your kids' baby pictures and your home movies on there, too. (You'll want a bigger drive if you're going to put movies on there.)

Flash drives are very hardy,
much moreso than CD's or DVD's. They will do well in adverse conditions. (In fact, the top-rated one from CNET, the Sandisk Cruzer Titanium, is so tough they drove a Mini Cooper over it and it still worked fine. See the video and read the review here.)

So tuck that drive away in a watertight container (even a plastic bag) someplace safe, either in your house or someplace else. In case of a natural disaster, you will always have access to your important data.

For more info on USB flash drives: CNET

And for
PC World has "23 Things to Do With a Thumb Drive."

Thursday, February 08, 2007

A New Ending for a Commercial

I've imagined new endings for ads before. It's a terrible habit, but it passes the time.

Anyway, the commercial is one in a series of ads for a jewelry chain that's hated by all TV viewers (Here's a hint: "every kiss begins" with its accursed name.). This ad is set in a restaurant, and an elderly black couple is playfully speculating about the various romantic conversations at nearby tables. They chuckle and shake their heads knowingly. The old man is concealing something under the table.

We find out it's a jewelry box, of course. But in my mind, the commercial has a different ending:

She says, "I love you, Pumpkin." And he says, "I love you, Honey Bunny." Then he pulls his hand out from under the table, revealing a gun, and shouts, "Everybody be cool, this is a robbery!"

Then the elderly woman starts promising to execute every fucking prick that moves. And I am smiling, because that would be a really good commercial. I would never fast-forward through that one.

To Paraphrase Clive James

Achievement without fame can be a good life, but fame without achievement is no life at all.

Double-Take Hypocrisy of the Week: When the High Horse Meets the Low Road

Does American Idol cross the line by exploiting contestants' personal tragedies for ratings gain? See why the hit show's under fire again. And later, more of NBC's hidden camera predator sting. Dateline's Chris Hanson shows us the latest group of suspects... It's ugly, you gotta see it, coming up next.

-- Joe Scarborough, Scarborough Country, 2/5/07

After the break, Joe ripped into American Idol. Some highlights:

Are they exploiting these poor people, using their stories now to get big ratings?

...pure exploitation...

It‘s just pure exploitation, and it‘s so ham-fisted, I can‘t believe the producers think they can get away with that, and we can‘t really call them on it, that they‘re really exploiting people‘s tragedies to get a few rating points...

I mean it‘s just all a big, fat reality show, where they‘re preying on people‘s problems, isn‘t it?

This season‘s producers had no problem at all making contestants look as pathetic as possible.

What does it say about Americans that they love watching these people beg and shame themselves and that they like having these hosts, these judges, insult them so much?

No doubt about it. It is so sad.

Stick around... Straight ahead, we‘re going to have Dateline‘s Chris Hansen encountering some of the most aggressive predators he‘s met so far, including a man who works in children‘s television. He joins us with more shocking information from NBC‘s hidden news investigation.

Next came a segment showing unbalanced pervs lured by NBC into a house for sex with an imaginary child, and Chris Hansen interrogating them under hot lights until they cry. When they can take no more, Chris tells them they can go. Outside they are tackled by cops and arrested. Then the camera follows the weeping men to booking.

After this non-exploitation, Joe wasn't done, though:

And later, did Lindsay Lohan leave rehab to party with Paris? The mean girl‘s rocky road to recovery, coming up in “Hollyweird.”...

What‘s going on with this girl? Girl, lady, whatever you want to call her. In rehab, out of rehab to shop, in rehab, out of rehab to go out partying with Paris Hilton. What‘s going on?

Before he signed off, Joe struck one more blow for entertainment that doesn't exploit people's personal problems:

And, finally, Britney Spears tagged at New York‘s fashion week. Photographers snapped photos of the pop tart in a dress that still had a tag on it! Jill Dobson, a latter-day Minnie Pearl? What‘s going on here?

What, indeed?

Imus's News Quote of the Day is Also Mine

A mind-boggling exchange regarding the Irving Libby trial happened on Imus this morning. I will place a masculine ordinal sign (º) after every statement that is ironic in light of the masculine ordeal Bill Clinton was put through.

I will place a pound sign (£) after every demonstrably false statement. (I'm using the pound sign because "pound" is what I'd like to do to Mary Matalin's head. With a socket wrench.)

And I'll place a Spanish exclamation (¡) after sentences which are so jumbled they may not be English at all.

This transcript has been edited due to length. And though there are no [sic]s, there are a number of spelling errors, but those are direct from the rush transcript.

Mary Matalin: "Yea, ya know how much this is costing?"

Imus: "No."

Mary Matalin: "Millions! Millions of dollars, millions of dollars, and can I just set the table for you? ...When the CIA...referred this to the justice department, they knew that there was no crime because she wasn't covert, okay? £ So there shouldn't have been an investigation. Secondly, the prosecutor knew months before he talked to Scooter or Rove or me or anybody else who the leaker of the non-crime was, it was Richard Armitage. £ So here we find ourselves, everybody being tortured and paying all this money out to lawyers and disrupting their work days on - in an investigation for which there was no crime, and there - it is outrageous. º I can't believe we are in the United States of America." £ º

Imus: "I feel horrible."

Mary Matalin: "For everybody, you should! Millions of tax-payer dollars wasted, all these lives disrupted for no crime that was committed º £ when we knew
" (Note: technically true, if "we" means Cheney's staff. They knew, but we didn't) who the leaker of a non-classified £ information was in the first place. You have to think about that, everyday and think about those kids of his going to school, º everyday he's on the front page of the Washington Post. º It's a travesty... º"

Imus: "Do you have a phone number that I could give to help raise money for the Scooter Libby defense fund?"

Mary Matalin: "You know, I don't watch you and I'm talking to you, so are you making a sarcastic face?"

Imus: "Yes. Did you tell Scooter Libby to call Tim Russert because he hates Chris Matthews?"

Mary Matalin: "I think I said Tim hates me--or Tim hates--I hate Matthews. Here's--can--let me take you inside the room, when I was at the White House..."

Imus: "Well that doesn't--do you know what you said?"

Mary Matalin: "I know exactly what I'm saying..."

Imus: "Well what did you say?"

Mary Matalin: "I don't--I don't know why I would have said that, but I would have said this, okay, I can't--All I know is this, the note that the prosecutor put up of a characterization of a conversation the prosecutor in that instance of the rest of it, mischaracterized what was in my mind. ¡
¡ So, here's what I know was in my mind and here's how it works, and here's how I did my job, and how all these jobs have to be done. ¡ Other than you, okay, and maybe this happens to you, when anybody else who purports to be an objective analyst goes on the air and bashes your principals as they're called, and in this case it was the Vice President, then you call the Bureau Chief and you complain. In the case of Chris who purported to be on a nightly basis, an objective analyst would get on there and say things that we knew not to be true £ as in Cheney saw this report £...Cheney didn't know Wilson, Cheney never sent Wilson £, Cheney never saw the report £, and the report that did exist corroborated the agencies belief or that there was some effort by Saddam to secure yellow cake. £ ¡

"So everything he was saying was wrong £, when that is the case then it's our job, or whose ever the press guys job, to call up and complain first to the producers of the show,
¡ secondly when no response is forth-coming to the Bureau Chief (Note: Libby says he called Russert first.) and finally in the case of Chris unfortunately who used to be a friend of mine, to the New York bosses. So, I wasn't working there at the time, I said, you should call, I don't remember saying, and I don't know why I would ever say that, because I don't know that Tim hates Chris, I think he likes Chris very much, he likes everybody over there. But, I don't think he likes and nor does any Bureau Chief ever like, when they have to take these complaint calls about their people who are on the air saying fallacious £ things."

Imus: "Well, why do you think he wrote down that you said that?"

Mary Matalin: "Well maybe it was shorthand--I don't know, I mean I don't think Chris does--they do--I think they have a fine relationship."

Imus: "Now have you guys--none of you can tell the truth can you, can you?."

Mary Matalin: "I'm not--I'm telling you..."

Imus: "It's insane."

Mary Matalin: "I'm telling you that..."

Imus: "It's like a disease you guys have."

The Best FM Transmitter

I'm not a fan of FM transmitters, because they never seem to work for me. Maybe it's because I live in Los Angeles, and the limits placed on them by the FCC render them less useful in a crowded market like this one.

But after trying them all, I've found the best. YMMV, but I love the DLO TransPod. It broadcasts clean and clear, and has an input jack for a non-iPod device. It comes in black, silver and white.

Another useful tool is the Sirius Frequency Finder website. You can punch in your zip code and get a list of the best frequencies for your FM transmitter. I was able to find a frequency that was much clearer than the one I had been using. (I feel a little guilty: I'm an XM listener.)

Why I Was Offended By the Snickers Ad

Speaking of that awful Snickers ad, I have to confess that when I saw it, I was offended, too. Not by the homophobia, though that was obviously distasteful.

I was offended on comedic grounds.

They stole the classic "Those arent pillows!" scene from Planes, Trains & Automobiles. Without shame. And ruined it.

First they rendered it unfunny, by stating the premise. Steve Martin didn't need to say, "Those aren't pillows! They're my thighs! Your hand is between my thighs! We'd better do something manly!" That would have been really unfunny. The Snickers dumbing-down is what happens when "creatives" have no respect for their audience.

Then Snickers made it offensive. Steve Martin and John Candy were cartoony in their shock, and lame and doofy in their attempts at "manliness." And they quickly let it peter out. The joke was on them.

The Snickers guys were genuinely afraid. And ripping out your own chest hair is not only gross, it's really homophobic. As in, "I'd rather be in agony than have anyone think I'm gay." Or even worse, "I deserve to be in pain for doing something so gay."

And why is ripping out your chest hair "manly" anyway? If anything, chest hair removal is something I associate with metrosexuals.

Plus the two guys just looked gross.

So the whole thing was a mess. An offensive mess. And a stolen one at that.

Paris v. Dove, The Sequel

A year or two ago, during the "controversy" over Paris Hilton's Carl's Jr. commercial, Katie Couric made some snippy comments on Today (snippy comments, you'll remember, were her specialty). She thought it was inappropriate for Paris to be in a bathing suit, spraying herself with a hose, offensive, what if children see it, degrading, blah blah.

Then, an hour later, she was sitting with the women of the Dove "Real Beauty" campaign, literally telling them "You go, girl!"

What had they done that pleased Katie so? They appeared in ads, in their underwear. In a TV ad, they were spraying champagne on themselves.

At least Paris, washing a car, was spraying for a reason. And I don't think children look at Paris Hilton in a bathing suit and think "sex"... That's an idea only adults can put in their heads.
(And, IMHO, it's not like Paris Hilton in a bathing suit looks any different from Cole Sprouse in a bathing suit.)

It was then that I realized that women are only offended by women who are "attractive" (by conventional standards). That Judge Judy washing a car in a bathing suit wouldn't be "degrading," but Paris Hilton is. That there is clearly a beauty/outrage curve.

Well, today those stars aligned again. Because of the Snickers Super Bowl ad, Today did a report on controversial commercials, and when showing the Paris Hilton and commercials, the correspondent said, "Naturally, women complained." And why shouldn't they? The GoDaddy girl broke one strap on her top. Outrageous!

Then, an hour later, there's Meredith Vieira happily interviewing the stars of Dove's newest campaign. They're women over 50 who posed nude. I repeat: nude. "Fantastic!" "Good for you!"

I'm not saying that it's not great to see women over 50 celebrate their bodies. I think it's great. (And obviously it was more palatable because Meredith is fun and friendly and occasionally ribald, and is not the insufferable, scolding bluenose Katie was.)

But can't all women be beautiful? Even the beautiful ones?

If a young, attractive woman in a bathing suit is "offensive" and an older, attractive woman nude is "empowering," then clearly the "offense" is not about morality. It's about envy.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Sometimes a Guitar is Just a Guitar

I have no idea if Prince intended his guitar-stroking to appear phallic. I do know that I watched the show, enjoyed it, and didn't notice anything off-color about it. The "controversy" totally took me by surprise.

Though I agree with Stephen Colbert that "any Chasid worth his pais will tell you that as long as it's through a sheet it's kosher.")

I should disclose that I've worked with Don Mischer, the producer of the halftime show, and know him to be an extraordinarily intelligent, sensitive, talented producer, and the last man who would allow something like that to happen on his watch. I'm sure Prince's performance was closely vetted beforehand, and that if something untoward happened, Don would be the first one to publicly apologize.

I should also disclose that I'm one of millions of Americans -- and presumably millions of children -- who watched the Jackson/Timberlake Super Bowl show and totally missed the breast exposure. (Unlike Dick Cheney, I occasionally need to blink.) Like those millions of children, I was exposed to the breast in question not via the Super Bowl, but via the constant isolation and replaying of the moment on the news.

"Maybe it's me," I thought. Maybe I'm one of those blue-state, cut-and-run, secular-whatevers that Fox Noise so hates. Maybe I've been desensitized to the filth all around me. So I did a simple Google search for "Prince" and "Super Bowl" and found the following headlines.


Safe, Family Entertainment Suitable for the Super Bowl
No Malfunction As Prince Rocks Halftime
Super Bowl: ...perfect halftime show
No 'Malfunctions' on CBS Super Bowl Show
CBS delivers a safe effort
No Malfunction as Prince Rocks Halftime
Best moment? Prince by a landslide
Prince delivers in old-school halftime show
No Malfunction as Prince Rocks Halftime
Prince saves not-so-Super show
No 'malfunctions' in broadcast this year


Prince's Super Bowl Shadow Malfunction?
Some see phallic imagery
Halftime Show sparks controversy
Controversy Sprouts Over Halftime Show
Prince's Halftime Imagery Questioned
Prince's Soggy Halftime Imagery Questioned
Maybe Prince wasn't so 'noncontroversial' after all

Prince's Super Bowl performance associated with phallic images

(That last one is my favorite because it's from Pravda.)

What happened in between? Talk radio... blogs... and then, of course, endless replays on the news. To make sure that children are brainwashed with the message "Prince + guitar = penis."

It's worth noting that CBS received "very few" complaints from actual viewers. It's also worth noting that the Super Bowl whose halftime show featured Janet Jackson's floppage also aired in Canada. The CBSC received 50 complaints.

That's fifty. Five-oh.

They received "roughly twice as many complaints about other aspects of the Super Bowl broadcast, including music and advertising issues."

Great nation though it is, America often resembles a big, untrained dog, barking for attention, begging for love, and shitting everywhere. If that's true, it's a big dog being wagged by a really small tail.

Prince strokes the longer and straighter of his two
penises while a terrorist tries to set fire to his balls

Please, Please Remember This Message the Next Time You're Thinking of Going to a Pet Shop or Breeder

At Home Before (First in a Series)

Here's what I believe happened in the homes of many of the American Idol wannabes, right before they left for the venue:

This is it! Time to go!

One thing, and don't take this the wrong way... but what if they don't like you?

Oh, they're gonna like me.

I know that! But weird things happen on that show. What if they don't like you? Won't you look stupid?

Don't worry, I'm way ahead of you. If they badmouth me and don't put me through to Hollywood, I have a plan. I thought about it for a long time, and I finally came up with the perfect thing to say. Ready?

Hit me.

As I walk out, I'm gonna yell over my shoulder, "Randy, Paula and Simon can kiss my ass!"

Oooooh!! I like it!

I know! The audience is gonna totally be, like, "Oh, SNAP!" They can take away my dream, but I will walk out of there with my dignity!

Monday, February 05, 2007

Boston Raises Terror Alert Level to "Wicked Retahded"

Also, the Boston Police ask that you be on the lookout for this suspected terrorist, who is suspected of smuggling suspicious items in various body cavities.

It's Doocy Tuesday!

In honor of Steve "Douchy" Doocy, far and away the dumbest broadcaster on TV, we introduce a new feature: Doocy Tuesday.

Every Tuesday (that I remember to do it) we'll have a sampling of The Doocer's
oeuvre... a Doo-pourri or Doo-gasbord, if you will.

Doocy Tuesday will, of course, be on Mondays. Because if Fox News has taught us anything, it's that if you simply say that Monday is Tuesday, about a million people will believe it.

Eh, never mind. I'm already sick of it.

Randy Newman Is, As Always, The Man

Knucklehead of the Day

The Programming Insider (who, I always point out, is neither in programming nor an insider) writes that Law & Order is "worthy of renewal if the show is not too expensive to produce financially."

What if it's too expensive to produce emotionally? Or spiritually? Ecologically? Idiopathically? Paranormally?

And why does some guy in a New York apartment feel he can decide the "worthiness" of a classic show like Law & Order? Seems conceited of him egotistically.

Easily My Favorite Super Bowl Ads